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Matthew 9:14-17 – What others are saying about feasting at the sinners’ table instead of fasting for God’s table

posted on Managing criticism (Matthew 9:14-17)

In his writing he looks at the disciples of John the baptist and the disciples of the king of the kingdom and how Jesus handled criticism.

He copped it from the scribes (9:3). He copped it from the Pharisees (9:11). Now he cops it from friends: John the Baptist’s disciples:

Mathew 9:14 (his translation) Then John’s students came to him saying, “How come we and the Pharisees fast often, but your students don’t fast?”

Browne writes

Jesus understands how disillusioned John’s disciples feel. His first reaction is empathy. They’re grieving. Their leader has been taken from them. When the day comes when Jesus is taken away, his disciples will be grieving and fasting too:

9:15 Jesus said to them,

“It’s not possible for the bridal party to grieve when the bridegroom is with them. The days will come when the bridegroom is taken from them, and they’ll fast then.

We may not miss the main point.

Like a people separated from their heavenly sovereign, Israel has lamented and fasted so long for the coming of the one who would restore the Davidic kingship. Now the son of David is among them! Jesus is the bridegroom they’ve been waiting for. The king is here. This is no time for mourning. You may have been grieving in the past, but you can’t attend a wedding dressed in black with sorrow written all over your brow! This is a day of celebration. God is at work among his people again. His Messiah is leading the nation in joyful feasting.

Browne looks at the people who find change difficult and feel nostalgic about the old ways, the familiar ways, things they’ve grown up with.

Israel had been fasting and grieving for so long that lament now defined their faith. They could not imagine a kingdom characterized by feasting rather than fasting.

So Jesus tells two stories to make the point that they cannot mix the old and the new. They must let go of the familiar to experience the kingdom being established in Jesus. If they try to hold onto the old, they’ll lose both the old and the new:

9 16 No one puts a patch of new cloth on an old garment; for the fullness of it pulls away from the garment and the tear becomes worse.
9 17 Neither to you put new wine into old wineskins; if you do, the wineskins break, the wine is spilled and the wineskins are ruined. You put new wine in new wineskins and both are preserved.

Jesus is re-establishing the reign of God over humanity. Their old mourning clothes seemed so appropriate to the kingdom that disintegrated in Old Testament times, but those old garments cannot hold the new cloth of the kingdom being establishing under his kingship. Try to patch them together, and you lose both. The old leather wine bottles they’ve used for so long cannot contain the fresh fermenting wine of the new kingdom. Jesus understands their nostalgia, but they can’t have it both ways.

Jesus extended genuine empathy to those who struggled to adapt, while at the same time being crystal clear that they must relinquish the familiar to experience life under his kingship.

What others are saying

R. T. France, The Gospel of Matthew, New International Commentary on the New Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2007), 356:

For John’s disciples that indicated a movement which did not take its religious commitment seriously, and the feasting in Matthew’s house only deepened their suspicion. In their different ways the Pharisees, John’s disciples and the Jesus circle were all renewal movements within first-century Judaism, and this brief encounter serves to draw out their distinctive approaches and priorities.

Craig S. Keener, The Gospel of Matthew: A Socio-Rhetorical Commentary (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2009), 300:

Weddings generally lasted seven days … Weddings were a matter of joy with which any signs of sorrow seemed conspicuously incongruent … The Gospels’ readers would probably catch an allusion that Jesus’ first hearers missed: Jesus is the groom of God’s people in the coming messianic banquet foreshadowed in their table fellowship (22:2; 25:10–13). The “taking” of the bridegroom, of course, is a veiled reference to the impending crucifixion.

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Preceding article

Matthew 9:14-17 – The Nazarene’s Commentary: The Bridegroom and Fasting

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More than just a man with authority of speaking

28 When Jesus finished his message, the crowds were astounded at how he taught. 29 He was instructing them authoritatively, not as their scribes. { translation}

Throughout the Messianic writings we come to hear how Jesus attracted people and how he let them think about the things they could see and hear.

The gospel writer Matthew wants the readers of his writings to know who he had met and why he became clinched so much to this man who he believed to be the sent one from God and the expected King.

The point of Matthew’s narrative is that we realize who Jesus is. He’s the king. He restores heaven’s reign over the earth. That is the gospel — the good news of the kingdom of heaven, with Jesus as heaven-appointed ruler. The culmination of Matthew’s Gospel is the announcement that Jesus has received all authority — in heaven and on earth (28:18-20). {Hearing the king (Matthew 7:28-29)}

It is by those given Messianic Writings people should come to know who Christ Jesus is. Nearly 2000 years later we must say still too many who call themselves Christian have not come to see who the Christ Jeshua really is.

Some of them may already have seen that Jesus is the anointed ruler and the long-awaited king from David’s line. But the majority of Christians still have not understood that Jesus is the sent one from God who restores the promised blessing of God’s reign to the nations (1:1).

More people should come to recognise that Jesus is the son of God who undoes the captivity of earthly powers (1:17). He is the one who received authority from God to be the divine ruler living among his people (1:23), the ruler who seems to be no one from nowhere (2:23). As the king (2:2) he’s the ruler who shepherds God’s people (2:6). From the writings people should come to know that Jesus is Jacob’s Star (2:10), the new exodus (2:15).   notices that is just the first two chapters of Matthew! {Hearing the king (Matthew 7:28-29)}

Every phrase, every paragraph, every story, every theme in Matthew’s Gospel reveals who Jesus is. Like the crowds who listened to his Sermon on the Mount, be astounded as his royal authority dawns on you. {Hearing the king (Matthew 7:28-29)}

In his article Hearing the king (Matthew 7:28-29) he gives an overview of what others say:

Craig Blomberg, Matthew, New American Commentary (Nashville: B & H, 1992), 134–135:

Strikingly, Jesus quotes Scripture in his sermon only to reinterpret it, he cites no human authorities or tradition, and he speaks with directness and confidence that he himself is bringing God’s message for a new era in human history. Such preaching reflects either the height of presumption and heresy or the fact that he was a true spokesman for God, whom we dare not ignore.

R. T. France, The Gospel of Matthew, New International Commentary on the New Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2007), 298–299:

To set the authority of his teaching in contrast with that of the scribes is a bold claim, since the scribes were the authorized teachers of the law who in virtue of their training and office had a right to expect the people to accept their legal rulings. … Whereas scribal rulings were based on the tradition of earlier interpreters of the law, Jesus has in 5:17–48 set himself up as an authority over against that interpretive tradition, on the basis not of a formal training or authorization but of his own confident, “I tell you.” … When to that remarkable claim is added Jesus’ assumption that he himself is the proper object of people’s allegiance and the arbiter of their destiny (5:11–12; 7:21–23, 24, 26), the crowd’s astonishment is hardly out of place. W. D. Davies’ comment … “The Sermon on the Mount compels us, in the first place, to ask who he is who utters these words.”

John R. W. Stott, The Message of the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7): Christian Counter-Culture, The Bible Speaks Today (Downers Grove, IL: IVP, 1985), 216:

In the Sermon on the Mount there are five direct references to God’s kingdom. They imply—though with varying degrees of clarity—that he himself had inaugurated it, and that he had authority to admit people into it and to bestow on them its blessings.

Today Jesus is not here any more, but the apostles took care we can read Jeshua’s words

Richard A. Burridge, Four Gospels, One Jesus? A Symbolic Reading (London: SPCK, 2005), 21:

The gospels invite readers to enter their world, to listen to Jesus’ words, to watch his great deeds, to appreciate their understanding of him, and to ask ourselves the same questions as the people in the text: ‘who is this man?’ (Mk. 4:41)

StGeorgeMonasteryToday lots more people than in Jeshua’s time can hear the words of that incredible special man. Lots more people should come to hear those words about how man has to relate to their Divine Maker. The son of the Divine Maker God explained  his heavenly Father‘s Words and showed us how man can and/or has to respond to the Kingdom message.

Jesus called Israel to become the kingdom built on God — the solid Rock who endures forever, not the shifting sands of human kingdoms that last only for a season. How foolish to spend our lives promoting human powers when all our efforts will be swept away. Instead, spend your life for God’s reign through Messiah Jesus: the only thing that endures. {A rock worth building on (Matthew 7:24-27)}

Jesus is the focus of God’s eternal plan to re-establish His reign over the earth. Our hope should be in Jesus, the son of God, so quit playing politics with earthly powers that will fall. Build all your efforts on the only rock that will last:

the ruler God has appointed, the only one who can save human society.

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Preceding articles

The Nazarene master teacher learning people how they should behave

Matthew 7:1-11 – The Nazarene’s Commentary on Neighbor Love Continued 7: Matthew 7:1-5 Judgment and neighbor love

Matthew 7:12 – The Nazarene’s Commentary: Summary on the Torah’s Fulfillment

Matthew 7:13-14 – The Nazarene’s Commentary: The True Disciple #1 The Narrow Gate and the way to destruction

Matthew 7:15-20 – The Nazarene’s Commentary: The True Disciple #2 False prophets and fruitage

Matthew 7:13-23 – The Nazarene’s Commentary: The True Disciple #3 Matthew 7:21-23 The ones Jesus never knew

Matthew 7:13-27 – The Nazarene’s Commentary: The True Disciple #4 Matthew 7:24-27 – Conclusion

Matthew 7:13-23 – The Nazarene’s Commentary: The True Disciple #5 Matthew 7:28-29 – The Crowd’s Reaction

Authority from the One God to one mediator between God and men

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Additional reading

  1. Entrance of a king to question our position #2 Who do we want to see and to be
  2. Hearing words to accept
  3. Priest, scribes and others with authority
  4. Gain Christ, trusting Jehovah
  5. Witnesses of Christ and of his gospel
  6. The Mountain: Radical Obedience

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Further reading

  1. By what authority?
  2. “The authority of Jesus” by Thomas Schreiner
  3. MS Week #3: Jesus’ Authority
  4. The Authority of Jesus
  5. Jesus’ Authority
  6. the unique authority of Jesus
  7. The Sermon on the Mount: Examining the Psychological and Sociological Implications
  8. Why Be Optimistic About the Future of the Gospel?
  9. Are You Sure You Want to do This?
  10. The Kingdom Of God: Luke’s Gospel
  11. The Kingdom Needs You!
  12. ​Extremism: Does Lord Jesus Really Expect Us To Go This Far?

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