IIIM Magazine Online, Volume 2, Number 25, June 19 to June 25, 2000

MATTHEW AND THE SELF

by Dr. Knox Chamblin

PREFACE

The conception of the present work; its relation to Paul and the Self. The question before us here, as there, is this: How does a person become whole? The self's three relationships. The self's three dimensions. Perhaps use a different scheme here.


1: APPROACHING MATTHEW

A formidable undertaking, given our being confronted with the Evangelist and, behind each one, the towering figure of Jesus.


The Document

Begin by stating concisely the theological and pastoral thrust of Matthew. We view the document as it stands.

Our approach is largely thematic. We will seek to be attentive to the writer's intention. Refer to such studies as Stanton's The Gospels and Jesus.

Comment on Matthew as a reliable historian and theologian.


Jesus

Make it clear that the figure of Jesus cannot be dissociated from this account about him. Cf. The Riddle of the New Testament: trying to get back to "the historical Jesus" by peeling away all the teaching about him, is like trying to peel an onion: one is left with nothing.


The Evangelist

Matthew is just that - an evangelist - a person with good news to declare, and sound teaching to impart for building up the members of the Christian community under his care, and also to address the non-believing world beyond.


The Recipients

Attentiveness to what is being said to the original readers, is essential if we are rightly to appropriate these teachings for ourselves. The Christian community to whom this book is written, is meant to appropriate and apply what is said about the events of the ministry.


Our Purpose

The singular objective: How does this Gospel address human beings? What hope of wholeness is there in this message? How does Jesus confront and address human beings?


2: THE SEEKING GOD


The Coming of God

The Gospels portray God as dynamic and active. Not a static treatment of his attributes. We know God through what he says and does. The Hound of Heaven.

Mark 1:14-15 and pars. on the Kingdom of God. Personal and Historical/ Cosmic dimensions of the Kingdom's coming; already and the not yet of this.

What do the early chapters of Matt. reveal about the purpose of his coming? Mt 1:1-3:17. Expectation, longing and need for salvation, wholeness and purpose (cf. quotes from three magi and Mary's answer, MBBK, play 1.). God's - Christ's - seeking love. God's initiative in making persons whole.


The Disclosure of God

Matt 11:25-30. How do the Evangelists present the person of Christ? Son of the Father. Authority. Compassion.

The Son of Man. Mt 17 (Transfiguration). Mt 22:41-46 (Sonship of Jesus).


The Salvation of God

The God who is disclosed is a saving God. Jesus comes to deal radically with the human condition: Mt 1:21. This may be the best place to deal with divine election: the call of God is the essential prerequisite for human faith. Cf. Matt 11:25-27.

This prepares for the next chapter.


3: SALVATION FOR THE WHOLE PERSON

Use healing miracles as examples. Anthropological terms in the Gospels. Cf. Hoekema on aspects of the image. Included: Matt 5:3-12. Show how these respective declarations are unfolded in the rest of Jesus' ministry. Mt 4:23-25. Lk 15:1-32 (parables about lostness). Lk 17:1-37 (teachings about grace). Mt 8:1-9:38 (authority of Jesus). Mt 14:13-21 (feeding of 5000). Mt 14:22-36 (Jesus walks on water).


4: THE WAY TO THE CROSS AND RESURRECTION

Centrality of the Cross. Trace this from beginnings of the Gospels. In all four Gospels, these are the two events for which everything else prepares. Gospels as "passion narratives with long introductions." Some of this should already be clear from Ch. 1. Evidence in Matt. of the Cross' significance, and what accounts for its significance.

In the miracles, Jesus uses the power of the right hand, in the Cross he will use the power of the left hand (Capon).

Included: Mt 12:15-21 (Servant of God). Mt 14:1-12 (Herod, John and Jesus). Mt 16:21-28 (Work of Jesus the Son of Man). Mt 17:9-27 (Jesus & Elijah; healing of epileptic boy, par. Mk 9:14-29; Jesus' approaching Passion; the Temple Tax). Mt 20:17-19 (third prediction of the Passion). Mt 20:20-28 (test of true greatness). Mt 20:29-34 (healing of two blind men). Mt 21:1-11 (Triumphal Entry). Mt 21:23-27 (the question of authority). Mt 21:28-32 (the parable of the two sons). Mt 21:33-44 (the parable of the tenants). Mt 26-28. Mt 26 (the threat to Peter). Mt 26:51-56 (Jesus and power).

We approach the remaining subjects by this avenue, because for the original readers the Gospels were to be read in the light of these accomplished events.


5: CHRIST THE LIBERATOR

Liberation from sickness. Some of this is anticipated in Ch. 3.

Liberation from guilt. Wholeness through the forgiveness of sins. This chapter concentrates on God's provision of forgiveness, including the costliness of it. This provides a basis for later treatment of forgiveness in our relationships. Aspects of the Cross.

Liberation from the demonic (the devil). Relate to contemporary psychotherapy. Cf. Kurt Koch. Also Wayne E. Oates, Temptation: A Biblical and Psychological Approach (WJKP). Include: Mt 4:1-11 (the Temptation).


6: CHRIST THE LIFE

Christ liberates from death itself. How does Matt. present Christ as the source of wholeness, as the place of nourishment and life?

This may be the best place to deal with the fundamental meaning of the Cleansing of the Temple - namely, that Christ himself becomes what the Jews sought in the Jerusalem temple. Cf., to this effect, N. T. Wright, "The new, unimproved Jesus" (CT, Sept 1993).


7: THE WAY OF TRUST

Need for freedom from fear. Responding as a Child (Mt 18, "Except you become like little children"). Need for trust in, surrender to Christ. Deal with Syns, then John.

How does one respond to those declarations? Illustrate the response of faith and trust within the ministry.

Included: Mk 1:16-20. 11:1-24 (11:25-30 is treated elsewhere). Mt 12:22-37 (Beelzebul), 38-50 (Jesus' witness to this generation). Mt 13:3-23 (parable of sower). Mt 14:28-31 (Jesus and Peter). Mt 15:21-28 (Jesus and the Canaanite woman). Mt 16:13-20 (belief and unbelief). Mk 9:14-29 (boy with unclean spirit). Some of this has already been dealt with in Ch. 2, on the Seeking God.


8: THE WAY OF SURRENDER

This is a dimension of the way of trust (Ch. 7). Wholeness through self-denial and self-abandonment. Allegiance to Lordship of Christ. Need for fulfillment as a person. Cost of discipleship. "He that would save his life... Take up your cross...." Mk 8:34ff. & pars. Matt. 22.

The whole person must be surrendered; cf. Ch. 3 (on salvation for the whole person). Especially is the heart to be surrendered, and given to God. Deal with Matt 15 (the korban issue). This may be the best place to deal with one aspect of the Cleansing of the Temple - namely, the internal over the external (see MDH, 264). This may help to explain the transition in Mk 11 from Cleansing to the life of prayer (11:23f.); pace MDH, 269. (Jesus' other motives should be acknowledged too, probably in other chapters.)

Calls to vigilance for the times of persecution and opposition beyond the ministry. This the avenue for the exercise of power - power of the left hand (Capon). Cf. Ch. 4 on Jesus' arrest in the garden.

Included: Mt 14 (power in Herod, John and Jesus). Mt 17:9-27 (Jesus & Elijah; healing of epileptic boy, par. Mk 9:14-29; Jesus' approaching Passion; the Temple Tax). Mt 10:16-42 (the broader mission). Mt 20:17-19 (third prediction of the Passion). Mt 20:20-28 (test of true greatness). Mt 20:29-34 (healing of two blind men). Mt 26 (the threat to Peter). Mt 26:51-56 (Jesus and power).


9: THE WAY OF WISDOM

Instruction in the way of wisdom is critical for the how of trust (Ch. 7) and surrender (Ch. 8).

Inseparable from trust. Mt 11:25-30. The renewal of the mind. Viewing oneself, God and other people. Wholeness through instruction in the Way of Christ. Wholeness through obedience to the Law; cf. Hebraic understanding of wisdom. Include refining through judgment by the Law. How does Jesus' teaching help me to understand myself, other people, and God?

Allegiance to the person of Christ ("Follow me...") as the basis for learning from him as a disciple.

"Come to me and learn from me...." Discipleship as preparation for obedience (apostleship).

Matt. on the ministry of the Spirit (i) for Jesus himself, and (ii) for the time beyond Jesus' earthly ministry.

One grows in wisdom precisely by taking the path of obedience.

Gaining wisdom means that there will be the proper emotion and exercise of anger in the face of personal and societal ills.

Included: Mt 5:17-48; 7:13-27. Mt 11:25-30. Mt 13:34-35 (Mt's use of Ps 78:2), 51-52 (scribe), 53-58 (unbelief at Nazareth). Should Mt 21 (Cleansing of Temple) and 28:18-20 be considered here?

The way to true freedom lies along the path of obedience. The first part of the chapter should concentrate on the DEMANDS associated with the gospel, the latter half upon the FREEDOM and WHOLENESS that stem from obedience to those demands.


10: THE NEW COMMUNITY

Need for community/escape from loneliness. Wholeness through life in the believing community.

Mt 16:13-20 (esp. on the church that Jesus will build). Mt 18:1-35 (life in cmty, including leaders' use of power). Mt 19:1-12 (divorce); relate to instructions of 18:15-20. Mt 19:13-15 (Jesus & the children). Mt 20:1-16 (the generous owner). Cf. treatment in Ch. 8 (Way of Wisdom, on HSp). Jesus and Women.


11: LOVING GOD

At the heart of the life of wisdom (Ch. 9) is love of God and of neighbor, Mt 22:34-40. At the heart of life in community is also love of God and of neighbor, as is already evident from Ch. 10.

Wholeness through loving and worshipping God.

Included: Mt 4:1-11 (the Temptation). Mt 6:5-15 (and par.). Mt 26:36-46 (Gethsemane, implications for our prayers). Mt 27:46 (cry of dereliction, implications for our prayers). Mt 9:35-38 (prayer and mission). Mt 16:1-12.


12: LOVING THE NEIGHBOR

We turn to the other foundational commandment, "You shall love your neighbor as yourself." "Neighbor" embraces both persons within the new community, and those beyond. Our focus throughout is on the new community: love within the community is essential for the stability and vitality of the community. It also bears a witness to persons outside the community; there is a longing that they too will enter the community.

Jesus' relations provide a model. He loves persons within the circle of disciples. He also loves those beyond.

Love of neighbor flows from, and is inseparable from, loving God. Uses of power in Jesus' life (Ch. 7) and in lives of the disciples.

One motive of Jesus in cleansing the temple, is to bring to light the discrepancy between the people's worship in the temple and their dealings with people outside the temple - in other words, the contradiction between "love of God" and "love of neighbor." Cf. MDH, 264 ("their worship is a sham"), 268.

Real, authentic relationships. Show how Jesus related to persons, and showed respect for them in various ways. E.g., the rich young man; Mary and Martha. Risks he was willing to take, e.g. in feeding the 5000. Show, in that light, how he counsels disciples to relate to one another and to persons outside their company.

Forgiveness. How does one offer it? receive it? The chapter should deal both with my being liberated, and my helping to liberate others, by this means. What distinctions, if any, obtain between life within and beyond the community in this respect?

Included: Mt 7:1-12 (exercising judgment). Mt 10:1-15 (mission of the 12). Mt 23 (sins of scribes and Pharisees).

This may be the best chapter for "the way of lowliness," the marks of humility. Mk 9:33-37; MDH, 227-28. As children were regarded as lowly, the idea of v. 37 seems to be that it takes true humility to place oneself beneath the humble, that it takes true lowliness to place oneself beneath the lowly.


13: LIFE IN THE WORLD

Mt 5:13-16 (salt & light). Mt 6:2-4 (almsgiving). Mt 6:19-24 (Christian mentality); for help in applying this passage to contemporary life, NB Henri J. M. Nouwen, Making All Things New: An Invitation to the Spiritual Life (HarperSanFrancisco, 1981). Cf. Hoekema on the image of God as including one's relation to the natural and material world.

Mt 12:1-14 (on the Sabbath). Mt 19:16-30 (incl rich young man). Mt 21:12-17 (Cleansing of the Temple; shows what radical action is required for gaining true freedom). Mt 15:1-20 (Law and Freedom). Mt 22:1-14 (parable of wedding banquet). Mt 22:15-22 (God & Caesar). Mt 26:14-16 (Judas as slave of Mammon). Different uses of power.


14: THINGS TO COME

The future course of history, and the life everlasting. Make this an inclusio with Ch. 2. The full realization of life with Christ in God. Ushered into the fellowship of the Trinity.

Included: Mt 13:24-30, 36-43 (parable of weeds). Mt 13:31-33 (mustard and yeast). Mt 13:44-46 (hidden treasure and pearl). Mt 13:47-50 (net). Mt 21:18-22 (cursing of fig tree). Mt 22:33-43 (life in the resurrection). Mt 24-25. Also to be considered: Mt 6:10 ("thy Kingdom come").


15: EPILOGUE

Draw together the main findings with respect to the prospectus set forth in the Preface and Chapter 1.

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