Matthew Part Three: Dive
COMPLETED NOT CANCELLED: FULFILLED NOT ABOLISHED
Do you remember in last week’s Snapshot video I explained who the audience of the book of Matthew was? Audience is important, it is going to guide the language used by the author, the points they emphasize and the concepts and themes they are going to reference. When I was a youth pastor I didn’t get up and start my preach like I would if I was lecturing at College. I referenced movies, new songs, used language that was ‘youthy’. This is the same with the writers of the New Testament books, they are speaking to an intended audience and they use language and styles that communicate best to that audience. Now that doesn’t mean that the book is then ‘closed’ and only relates to that audience, the Bible is cross cultural, cross generational and timeless, it communicates and impacts all people at all times. But learning about the intended audience is a great way to get more out of the text so you can recognise patterns and language.
So in Matthew we start with a declaration that sums up the whole purpose of the book: “This is the genealogy of Jesus the Messiah, the son of David, the son of Abraham.” To the intended Jewish audience this was a statement that changed their world. The redeemer, the Saviour, the Kinsman Redeemer, Commander of the Armies of the Lord, the King that would finally free them and return their land had come and it was Jesus Christ the Nazarene! Matthew has selected material from Christ's life and arranged it to convey one specific truth:
Christ is the King of the Jews, rejected by His people, crucified for the whole world and now alive in heaven. Jesus is the fulfilment of Israel’s messianic hopes and expectations.
Now as I was praying over what to write this week, our last week in Matthew, I kept seeing a vision of a large stamp, like the one in the image below. But instead of saying CANCELLED, God was stamping COMPLETE over your prayers and your lives.
Did you notice in the book of Matthew how many times Matthew says “This was to fulfil what was spoken through…” Let me show you some of them and you can find the rest as you read the book:
1:22 All this took place to fulfil what the Lord has said through the prophet
2:15 And so was fulfilled what the Lord has said
2:17 Then what was said through the prophet Jeremiah was fulfilled
2:23 So was fulfilled what was said through the prophets
At his baptism in Matthew 3:15 Jesus says: “Let it be so now; it is proper for us to do this to fulfil all righteousness.”
Now these fulfilled scriptures are throughout the book but let me show you the pinnacle point in Matthew that explains why he is tracing all the things that are fulfilled in Jesus. Look at Matthew 5:17 “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfil them.”
This is the heart of Matthew in writing this gospel for the Jewish audience and for us. He wants his audience to know that our promises in the Old Testament are safe, they are not abolished or cancelled, they are fulfilled and complete. Rejoice the Kingdom has come!
Jesus didn’t give up on God’s promises that were spoken about in the Old Testament, he didn’t come in and say “No sorry I changed my mind, now I’m doing a new thing, the old promises are cancelled and now I am making new ones.” No, he said “I didn’t come to abolish them as though they didn’t matter I COMPLETED them.” Katie, I hear you say, why make such a big deal about a seemingly insignificant difference. We know that Jesus brought a new covenant, a new freedom and life so why does it matter whether he abolished or fulfilled, cancelled or completed the old to bring the new?
It matters and let me tell you why:
If a CEO of a Company put into each of his employee’s contracts that he would give certain things to the people that entered into this contract with him. Say he promised that he would give everyone a bonus and take their family on a holiday to Disneyland at the end of the year. Everyone in that company, holding onto those promises that were in their contract would work tirelessly for him. Then, one day close to the end of the year, the CEO appoints his son to take over the company. But the son comes in and says “sorry I am doing a new thing here, your contracts are now cancelled, I’m not going to honour anything in the last contract, I am making all things new and going to give you a new contract.” How would you feel?
I would be angry, I wouldn’t trust the father or the son as they didn’t keep their word. I wouldn’t believe a word he said, even though he was saying it was going to be a better contract, I wouldn’t trust him.
Some people think of God and Jesus like this. Jesus came in and threw the Old Testament Covenant (contract) out, including all the promises, and he made a new contract with everyone. But Matthew is passionate about correcting this, Jesus came and fulfilled all the promises of the Old Testament Covenant, stamped completed on all of them and then set a new Covenant with even better blessings in place. He stamped COMPLETED on the contract not CANCELLED!
Some of you today need to read Matthew and see that God is faithful, trustworthy and true, and he didn’t change his mind about what he said in the Old Testament, he fulfilled it. He completed one contract and started a new one. He is faithful and true. He is the same yesterday, today and forever. You can trust him, he doesn’t change his mind, his words are worthy of your trust and faith.
So teachers as you teach on the Old Testament and the New, don’t make God out to be a person that changed his mind and set people up to fail. God is faithful and true, he completed his promises in the Old Testament by sending his Son Jesus Christ, the King of the Jews, the promised Messiah. Follow Matthew’s heart as he presents his case that the Jesus that walked the earth, is the fulfilment of every hope that you are standing on, he is the King of Kings that you have been longing for and every word he promises is yes and amen in Christ Jesus! (2 Corinthians 1:20)
Have a great time in your last week in this incredible gospel!