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6 August, 2017

[Crescendo music (A Day in the Life)]

This is it. This is what we have been building up to over the last four years as we have worked our way through the books of the Bible.

Way back in Genesis chapter 3 we read the prophecy,

And I [God] will put enmity between you [the devil] and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel.
Genesis 3:15


Then in the Psalms we read the prophecy,

Dogs surround me, a pack of villains encircles me; they pierce my hands and my feet. All my bones are on display; people stare and gloat over me. They divide my clothes among them and cast lots for my garment.
Psalm 22:16-18


In Isaiah we read,

But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed. We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to our own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all.
Isaiah 53:5,6

しかし彼はわれわれのとがのために傷つけられ、われわれの不義のために砕かれたのだ。彼はみずから懲らしめをうけて、われわれに平安を与え、その打たれた傷によって、われわれはいやされたのだ。 われわれはみな羊のように迷って、おのおの自分の道に向かって行った。主はわれわれすべての者の不義を、彼の上におかれた。

There have been many, many more, hundreds more prophecies in the Old Testament which all point to Jesus. In fact, every book of the Old Testament in some way foretells or points to the coming of God’s Messiah as fulfilled in Jesus.

Malachi was the last prophet to write in the Old Testament and he concluded a frenzy of prophetic activity that had lasted for a couple of hundred years. Then after Malachi there was 400 hundred years of prophetic silence. God’s people were in exile and it seemed that God had no more to say to them.

This period in history is often called ‘the silent years’. Prophetically they may have been silent but politically they were anything but silent. After the Babylonians conquered Jerusalem in 580 B.C., the Persians ruled from 450 B.C. for about 80 years in what is known as The Persian Period. Alexander the Great then conquered the land in 330 B.C. and ushered in the Hellenistic Period. The Hellenistic Period was significant and in many ways harmful because it imposed the Greek language and culture upon the Jewish people. This was a form of cultural genocide. The Hellenistic Period then fractured into the Hasmonean Period around 166 B.C. which enforced Hellenism even more strongly. These authorities ordered that all copies of scripture be destroyed. That period lasted until the Romans came and conquered the land in 63 B.C. The Romans were even more brutal than those who ruled before them. They desecrated the temple area and massacred the priests. This led to revolts and to a very hostile political climate. This was the dark political, social and spiritual environment into which Jesus was born.

The book of Matthew was written probably around the late 50s, likely after Mark which most scholars believe was written in the early 50s. Matthew, Mark and Luke form what is known as the “Synoptic” gospels. “Synoptic” means “seeing together”, meaning that Matthew, Mark and Luke, basically had the same content and a similar way of looking at the life of Jesus. John’s gospel, equally true and valuable, is a more theological look at the life of Jesus.

What I’d like to look at today is what makes the book of Matthew different from the other gospels (including Mark and Luke). We see this in the primary [Matthew’s] purpose of the book which is to prove to his Jewish readers that Jesus is their Messiah. He wanted to prove to his Jewish readers that after all the prophecies and all the waiting and all the suffering, Jesus was indeed the Messiah they had long been waiting for.

All the gospels quote the Old Testament to this end but Matthew really seems to want to drive the point home by including in his 47 Old Testament quotations (most of them Messianic), 9 proof texts which the other gospel writers don’t include. Let’s look briefly at four of these and why Matthew felt it important to include them.

  1. Matthew quotes from Isaiah 7:14

All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: “The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel” (which means “God with us”).
Matthew 1:22,23

すべてこれらのことが起ったのは、主が預言者によって言われたことの成就するためである。すなわち、 「見よ、おとめがみごもって男の子を産むであろう。その名はインマヌエルと呼ばれるであろう」。これは、「神われらと共にいます」という意味である。マタイによる福音書1:22,23

Many people mock the virgin birth today as something that is just not possible. This always intrigues me because surely the nature of a miracle is that it is something that is ordinarily just not possible. It is a work of divine intervention. It is a special work for a special purpose.
Matthew records Jesus as being the true Immanuel – God with us – with a much deeper and richer meaning than it could have had in Isaiah’s day. Luke includes the angelic visitations regarding the virgin birth in his gospel. But Matthew includes this quotation to testify that Jesus Himself is God, now come personally to be with His people forever. The Jewish people had been waiting a long time for the Holy One of God to come and Matthew shows from Old Testament writings how Jesus brings their waiting to an end. He is their Messiah.

  1. Matthew quotes from Hosea 11:1

So he got up, took the child and his mother during the night and left for Egypt, where he stayed until the death of Herod. And so was fulfilled what the Lord had said through the prophet: “Out of Egypt I called my son.”
Matthew 2:14,15

そこで、ヨセフは立って、夜の間に幼な子とその母とを連れてエジプトへ行き、 ヘロデが死ぬまでそこにとどまっていた。それは、主が預言者によって「エジプトからわが子を呼び出した」と言われたことが、成就するためである。

There is a really interesting parallel right through the Bible between the nation of Israel and the life of Jesus. The nation of Israel was in a diminished way, God’s son, His servant, His light for the world. Israel ended up being a pretty wayward and rebellious son and in many ways brought no more light into the world than any of the other nations. Jesus was, in every way, God’s true Son, His faithful servant and the true light that was to come into the world. Where Israel the son failed, Jesus the Son succeeded. When Matthew quotes Hosea, saying “Out of Egypt I called my son”, he is first referring to Israel, of course, which God rescued out of Egypt under the leadership of Moses, through the Sea and into the promised land. But he is also referring to Jesus who, after his birth and because of persecution, fled to… Egypt until it was safe to come back several years later. You can’t orchestrate this kind of thing. God moved nations for these events to happen and through these events, Jesus is shown to be the One who came out of Egypt, who would lead all people through the waters of baptism (just like Moses led the Israelites through the sea) and who would lead people into the true Promised Land of God’s Kingdom.

  1. Matthew quotes from Isaiah 9:1,2

to fulfill what was said through the prophet Isaiah: “Land of Zebulun and land of Naphtali, the Way of the Sea, beyond the Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles—the people living in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of the shadow of death a light has dawned.”
Matthew 4:14-16

「ゼブルンの地、ナフタリの地、海に沿う地方、ヨルダンの向こうの地、異邦人のガリラヤ、 暗黒の中に住んでいる民は大いなる光を見、死の地、死の陰に住んでいる人々に、光がのぼった」。

Isaiah prophesied the exact geographical place that God’s Messiah would minister. Jesus spent most of His public ministry “in the area of Zebulun and Naphtali” (v13), which is to the immediate north and west of the Sea of Galilee just as Isaiah had said.

  1. Matthew quotes from Isaiah 53:4

When evening came, many who were demon-possessed were brought to him, and he drove out the spirits with a word and healed all the sick. This was to fulfill what was spoken through the prophet Isaiah: “He took up our infirmities and bore our diseases.”
Matthew 8:16,17

夕暮になると、人々は悪霊につかれた者を大ぜい、みもとに連れてきたので、イエスはみ言葉をもって霊どもを追い出し、病人をことごとくおいやしになった。 これは、預言者イザヤによって「彼は、わたしたちのわずらいを身に受け、わたしたちの病を負うた」と言われた言葉が成就するためである。

Jesus didn’t just get lucky with prophecy. He didn’t just happen to be the right guy in the right place and the right time according to the prophecies and think, well, gee, that must be me. I must be the Messiah. The Spirit of the Lord was upon Him and he was able to do the work of God.

Through His teaching He was able to bring the righteousness of heaven into the hearts of men. Through His example, he was able to bring the beauty of heaven into the lives of men through demonstrations of forgiveness, justice and grace.
And through His power He was able to bring the health and wholeness of heaven into the bodies and minds of men.

Everything fits. The ancestry, the history, the geography, the anointing, the power, the goodness, the godliness. Everything that had been prophesied about the Messiah was fulfilled in Jesus, including, of course, salvation for all people through his death and resurrection.

Let’s finish our very brief study on Matthew with the last thing Jesus is recorded as saying in the book.

“All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always [Immanuel], to the very end of the age.”
Matthew 28:18-20

イエスは彼らに近づいてきて言われた、「わたしは、天においても地においても、いっさいの権威を授けられた。 それゆえに、あなたがたは行って、すべての国民を弟子として、父と子と聖霊との名によって、彼らにバプテスマを施し、 あなたがたに命じておいたいっさいのことを守るように教えよ。見よ、わたしは世の終りまで、いつもあなたがたと共にいるのである」。マタイによる福音書28:18-20

There are three parts to this:

  1. What Jesus has accomplished
  2. What we are to do
  3. What Jesus has promised.
  • Jesus is the risen Messiah King. He has total authority in heaven and on earth.
  • Jesus has authorised us to do His work. “Therefore go.” We have been commissioned to make disciples of all nations, baptising them and teaching them.
    イエスは私たちに神のはたらきをする権限を与えてくださいました。“それゆえに、あなたがたは行って” 私たちはすべての国民を弟子として、バプテスマを施し、教えるよう任命されているのです。
  • We are to be confident in the knowledge that Jesus, the risen Messiah King, is always with us as the great Immanuel of God.

This is the climax, the crescendo, of the everything in the Old Testament. It needs to be the climax and crescendo of our lives, too.