Today we begin our study of the Gospel of Matthew, and at the very outset of this study something impresses me. In Matthew’s Gospel there is not a single recorded word that he spoke or thought. There is no recorded word that Matthew spoke because he did not write to tell about himself, but to tells us about, “The words and works of Jesus Christ, ‘the son of David, the son of Abraham’” (1).
This is remarkable, especially for us today, for we live in an age of I think, I feel, I believe, I need, and I want. Matthew was able to give us an account of the Jesus story free from any of his concerns for self. It’s as though Mathew gave up himself and in so doing found himself in the beauty of the man he wrote about.
Matthew was not hypnotized, mesmerized, or fooled by some sleight of hand magician. He was captivated by the personal relationship of a loving, giving, living man who in the end turned out to be God in the flesh; God with us. Matthew found in giving up himself he found his real-self, and was satisfied forever,
Captivated By Jesus,
My son has relocated to a new city, so he is church shopping. Last Sunday he visited a church near his apartment. After the service he called to tell me about the church. He said, “Dad, I had to leave, for they spent the entire service criticizing others about their sins.” I recalled this truism, “The chief insult we have about others is actually our chief compliment to ourselves.”
After the phone call I read this, “The Church itself has not yet grasped the fullness of the love of God in Jesus as seen in His attitude toward sinning men. Never were his lips disfigured by the curve of contempt. Never did His face convey to sinning men the assumption of superiority. Never did he say a hard thing to a sinning soul.”
Jesus loved sinners, made friends with them, did not patronize them, or denounce them. Oh that the Church might begin to share the love of God as revealed by Jesus. That love is not a pity that excuses wrong, it is love that dies for wrong. The measure in which we have seen God as Jesus revealed Him is the measure in which we are prepared to be the friend to sinners.
I’m One Too,
Daniel was a man of purpose. His purpose was simple, yet it was sublime; simple in expression, and sublime in its principle. What was his purpose in the midst of heathen rulers? He would not touch the king’s food, nor drink the king’s wine! That was the simplicity of his purpose, but not what made it sublime. What made it sublime was that he purposed that nothing in this world would rob him of his spiritual life.
Daniel’s deepest purpose was loyalty to God. This was expressed in separation from the corrupting influences of his high position. Because he took a stand at the beginning, he was victorious till the end.
You and I live in a much easier age than Daniel lived in, but with temptations at our disposal more dangerous than Daniel had. Today therefore, everyone needs to be a Daniel with a definite purpose and it should be announced; this is especially true in the matters of the spirit, and the things of the Christian life. Today, surrounded by the allurement and enticement of a godless age, let every man and woman purpose in their heart that he will be loyal to Jesus Christ first, and declare that purpose at the start of each day.
Purposed to God,
Today, after the Easter break, we return to our study in Daniel. As you recall we left off in chapter 9 with Daniel in prayer, and in that prayer, for the first time, he called upon God using his covenant name Jehovah (Cf. 4b). Daniel was appealing to God as the one who keeps his covenant with all who obey the laws associated with that covenant. Daniel called it, “His covenant of love” (4). The word used for love here is, “hesed” a love that leads to covenant faithfulness on God’s part.
What does the word hesed mean? It means a quality of love that moves someone to act for the benefit of someone else without considering what is in it for them. The Hebrew sees the Torah, the first five books of Hebrew Scripture, as beginning and ending with God’s hesed love. They view the Torah as setting forth a vision of the ideal life whose goals are a behavior characterized by mercy and compassion.
The Christian sees God’s hesed love expressed in the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross. The quality of God’s love is so great that it moved Him to act on our behalf without considering what would happen to Him.