This month the Via Emmaus Reading Plan is looking at Genesis, Isaiah, and/or Matthew. (See below for the tracks). If you are following this plan, or looking for a new reading plan, you can find helpful resources on the following pages.
The idea of this plan is simple. Read, re-read, listen, study, memorize, and meditate on one (or two or three) books per month. If you do multiple tracks, you could read them sequentially, together, or at different times of the week (e.g., morning and evening, or week and weekend, etc.). However you plan your reading—and you should have a plan for reading that includes a place and time(s) to read—these tracks can guide you as you swim in the Bible. Then, over the course of 1, 2, or 3 years (depending on how many tracks you do), you will have read the whole Bible once, the Gospels twice, and the Psalms and Proverbs three times.
Let me know how this approach is going and if you have any feedback.
When you preach a sermon, you never know exactly how it will be received or what responses it will generate. And this week, in response to last week’s message about serpents and serpent slayers, I received two pictures.
Apparently, adding a few snakes to the Christmas decor works out well, as it celebrates the victory of Christ. Adding a live snake to your tree is another story.
In this week’s sermon, we took up the theme of Genesis 3:15 again and watched how Matthew presented Jesus as the seed of the woman in Matthew 1 and Herod as the seed of the serpent in Matthew 2. In between these two rival kings, the Magi are presented as the kings of the earth who must make a choice to serve one of these two kings and not the other.
Matthew calls all of us to see the spiritual warfare around us and to choose wisely. Truly, the world is filled with the serpent’s seed, but there is one king who was born of a virgin and who proved to be the long promised seed of the woman. At Christmas, it this Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, who we celebrate, worship, and proclaim.
And to help you see the connection between Genesis and Jesus, you can listen to this sermon here. If you want to think more about this biblical theme, I encourage you to pick up one of these books. There’s still time before Christmas.
Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. — Matthew 5:17 —
When we say that Jesus fulfilled the law, we often abstract what the law means. That is, instead of letting “the Law” be the five books of Moses (Genesis–Deuteronomy), we often put the law into the paradigm of the law and the gospel, or some other theological construct. Such formulations are good, but they are also one step removed from the biblical text.
In Matthew 5:17, the place where Jesus says that he has fulfilled the law, he actually identifies “the Law” and “the Prophets,” which tells us he has the five books of Moses in mind when he says “law.” Jesus does the same in Matthew 7:12. And throughout Matthew’s Gospel, when Jesus speaks about the Law (see 11:13; 22:40; cp. 5:18; 12:5; 22:36; 23:23), we find an ongoing focus on Moses’s five books. In fact, this focus on the five books of Moses, what we call the Pentateuch, is seen not just in the way Jesus uses the word nomos (Law) in Matthew, but in the way Matthew himself introduces Jesus.
Here’s my thesis: In the first seven chapters of Matthew, the tax collector-turned-apostle presents Jesus as the fulfillment of the Pentateuch. In canonical order, Jesus fulfills each book of the Law in each of the opening chapters of Matthew. Here’s my argument at a glance.
Jesus is the New Adam
Jesus is the New Moses
Jesus is the New Priest
Jesus is the New Israel
Jesus is the New Covenant
Such a comparison between Matthew and Moses requires a thorough acquaintance with the Law, but for those familiar with Matthew, we know he has an intimate knowledge of the Law and employs it to structure his book and to tell the story of Jesus. And here, as we meditate of the birth of Christ, I want to sketch in brief how the coming of Christ fulfills each book of the Pentateuch. Continue reading →
We are still working out the bugs on our new podcast, but here are two new podcasts that discuss passages of Scripture in Genesis and Matthew. This podcast was begun to help our church and anyone else read the Bible better.
If you have any questions for this podcast, feel free to ask here.
Unfortunately, it says quite a bit. As a book that gives us everything we need for life and godliness, the Bible gives instructions about marriage and warnings about divorce. But that is not all that it says.
If our minds jump too quickly, we may only remember the words of Malachi 2: God hates divorce. But we can’t read that prophetic utterance without reading Jeremiah 3, a passage that tells how God issued a certificate of divorce to his covenant people Israel, when their sin destroyed their covenant with God. Moreover, we cannot forget the grace God gives to heal past sins, even as we read and repeat his instructions about covenant marriage and the sinfulness of divorce.
Accordingly, we must understand divorce according to the full gospel story of creation, fall, redemption, and new creation. In this context, we begin to see how the whole Bible gives comfort and conviction about this and every subject.
But why are we taking about divorce?
Well, to our series on the Sermon on the Mount, we had to return to one section of the Sermon our schedule forced us to postpone—namely, Jesus’s teaching on marriage and divorce in Matthew 5:31–32. With help from Jeremiah 3, I preached a message on the root problem of divorce (a hard-heart) and how Christ enables covenant-breakers to be covenant-keepers.
In our world, not a week goes by that we are not confronted with extreme and life-threatening weather. Yet, there is a storm coming that exceeds anything that we have ever known. It is the storm of the Lord that will purify everything on the earth, on the way to making all things new.
On Sunday, our last sermon from Matthew 7 considered this storm and the shelter which is found in the words of Jesus Christ. Indeed, considering the way Christ finished his Sermon on the Mount, we hear again his clarion call to prepare for the last day.
“Be mature as your Heavenly Father is perfectly mature.” It doesn’t have the same ring as “Be perfect as your Heavenly Father is perfect,” but it may be closer to the reality of what Jesus is saying in Matthew 5:48.
On Sunday we finished the last of six expositions of the law that Jesus gives in Matthew 5:43–48. And as Jesus addresses the topic of love and hate, we learn how to grow up in Christ and to become more like our Heavenly Father.
In Matthew 5:17 Jesus says that he has not come to abolish the Law or the Prophets, but to fulfill them. And as D. A. Carson has observed about these verses, “The theological and canonical ramifications of one’s exegetical conclusions . . . are so numerous that discussion becomes freighted with the intricacies of biblical theology” (“Matthew,” 141).
In other words, it is really easy to import one’s biblical framework into Jesus’s words. For how one understands the law and its use in the New Testament and how the New Testament relates to the Old Testament, will in large measure impact the way one understands Jesus’s words, which in turn reinforces, or reforms, our biblical-theological framework.
Therefore, the question before is, “How do we stay on the line of Scripture when we interpret Matthew 5:17”? By comparison with Matthew 10:34 (“I have not come to bring peace, but a sword”) and Matthew 5:9 (“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God”), we learn that Jesus “non-abolishment clause” in Matthew 5:17 may not be absolute. Sharing the same structure as Matthew 5:17, Matthew 10:34 does not mean Jesus has forsaken his peace-making ways. Rather, his peace-making will include the restructuring (and severing) of family relations in order to make a new family of peace.
From this analogy, we learn there are some things in the Law that have come to an end—e.g., Hebrews indicates that Christ’s sacrifice ends the old covenant system of animal sacrifice. Therefore, we should go back to Jesus’s words to learn how to apply the Law. And thankfully, because of Matthew’s repeated and technical usage of the word “fulfill”/”fulfillment” (pleroō), we can get a good idea of how to understand the relationship of the Law to Christ and from Christ to us. Continue reading →
This Sunday we looked at Matthew 5:21–26, where we saw the first of six lessons Jesus gives us about the law of Moses applied to his new covenant disciples.
Interpreting the sixth commandment, “Do not murder” (Exod 20:13; Deut 5:17), Jesus stressed the importance of making peace with those whom we have sinned against. In Sunday’s sermon we looked briefly at how Jesus applied Moses Words, but more importantly we considered a multitude of applications found in Jesus Words.