This Bible Study is part of the "The Gospel of Matthew" series. See other Bible Studies which are part of this series
Most people concentrate on the person of Christ and not on what He said. But His Word is what counts, as we will see as we go through His own message. Don't just believe in what Jesus Christ did, believe in what He taught. Don't just think on His person, believe in His MESSAGE—and this was part of His message.
Greetings again, everyone!
This is Roderick C. Meredith, speaking for the Living Church of God. I am going to be covering the highlights of the book of Matthew and giving you insights into the real meaning of this book. You do not get this type of understanding in most churches or most other places today. I am going to give you the truth about the Gospels of Jesus Christ—the four Gospels and His message. Most people concentrate on the person of Christ and not on what He said. But His Word is what counts, as we will see as we go through His own message. Don't just believe in what Jesus Christ did, believe in what He taught. Don't just think on His person, believe in His MESSAGE—and this was part of His message.
We covered the first three chapters of Matthew last time. Matthew is called the "Jewish Gospel" because it quotes over and over from the Old Testament showing that it was the Word of God, something God inspired for mankind. And now as we get past that introductory part, let's get into some of His ministry. Just before His official ministry, however, Jesus was tempted of the Devil. There is a very real personal Devil. Jesus Christ talked about that Devil again and again. The book of Matthew brings it out here in chapter 4. So pick up your Bibles, follow me, check up on me and drink in of the Word of God.
Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil.
Jesus had to have this big confrontation with Satan the Devil. Satan was going to try to overthrow Him before He even began His ministry.
And when He had fasted forty days and forty nights, afterward He was hungry.
You had better believe He was hungry after forty days of fasting! Most people today could not do that. But Jesus was in perfect shape. And we find in Deuteronomy 9:9 and again in verse 18 that Moses fasted forty days and forty nights—taking neither bread nor water— twice. Jesus did the same thing, following that pattern of His servant Moses. In fact, Moses no doubt was guided to anticipate what Christ was later going to do.
Now when the tempter came to Him, he said, "If You are the Son of God, command that these stones become bread."
The first thing he tried to tempt Him on was this OVERPOWERING HUNGER—where the very cells of His body were crying out for food. But Jesus was close to God, He knew God was REAL. God may not be real to a lot of you, but He was to Jesus of Nazareth. So He knew God was going to guide Him through this.
But He answered and said, "It is written, 'Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.'"
The only Word of God they had was what we call the Old Testament. And Jesus said we are to live by EVERY WORD OF GOD! Don't just believe on some idea of "little Lord Jesus away in a manger." Believe on the WORD of God—that is what Jesus taught again and again and again.
Then the devil took Him up into the holy city, set Him on the pinnacle of the temple, [He was trying to tempt Him. He was weak hanging on up there. He said: "just let go; it is okay; God will protect you".] Jesus said to him, "You shall not tempt the LORD your God."
You are not to put Him to an unnecessary test. Don't do that. God will protect you if He has to, and IF you are obeying Him and walking with Him. Don't try to PUT Him to the test.
Again, the devil took Him up on an exceedingly high mountain, [this may have been in a kind of a vision or dream of some sort-no doubt it was] and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory.
Imagine the fantastic glory of the marching processions coming in and out of Rome and the major cities of the Roman Empire—the pomp and the ceremony and the beauty and the MAGNIFICENCE of it. With such the Devil tried to tempt Jesus.
And he said to Him, "All these things I will give You if You will fall down and worship me."
"You don't have to wait! You don't have to obey God! You don't have to be the perfect example for the next three-and-a-half years! You don't have to let men curse you and swear at you and beat on you and finally crucify you and let you die in agony on a cross! I am the now generation," Satan was saying. "Get what you want right now! Don't try to work for it, prepare for it or pay for it." Of course, that is what Satan is tempting the young people with today—and many of you older people as well. The NOW generation. But Jesus said, "No, I am going to get it God's way."
Then Jesus said to him, "Away with you, Satan! For it is written, 'You shall worship the LORD your God, and Him only you shall serve.'" Then the devil left Him, and behold, angels came and ministered to Him.
Then He left Galilee and came to Capernaum. Jesus was not against beauty and nice places. He lived in Capernaum, which was a resort town on the Sea of Galilee. It was His main headquarters during most of His ministry. So He stayed there for a while.
From that time Jesus began to preach and to say, "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand."
You will notice, my friends, that He does not say the Kingdom in heaven. Often the Protestant religionists say this, talking about going to heaven. Scripture does not! The Bank of Morgan is a not a little piggy bank inside of Mr. Morgan's tummy. It's not—it is the Bank of Morgan. "OF" denotes ownership—ownership or control. It is the Kingdom OF heaven. Virtually all of the rest of the Bible shows that the Kingdom is going to be on this earth until after the next 1,100 years or so. Then God will come and dwell with man. And of course the Kingdom will be on earth, because God's throne, which is heaven, will move down to this earth. But He began to preach this coming Kingdom of God (as Mark, Luke and John call it-and Matthew also calls it from time to time).
And Jesus, walking by the Sea of Galilee, saw two brothers, Simon called Peter, and Andrew his brother…Then He said to them, "Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men."
We are not to just be out hunting and fishing physical things—animals or fishes. We are to be fishers or hunters of men today—if we are serving God.
They immediately left their nets and followed Him. Going on from there, He saw two other brothers, James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother, in the boat with Zebedee their father, mending their nets. He called them, and immediately they left the boat and their father, and followed Him. And Jesus went about all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the gospel of the kingdom.
"Gospel" means good news; the gospel of the Kingdom. A kingdom means a government. He is talking about a literal government—like the United States government or the government of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth of England-to be set up on this earth. The Queen has a kingdom, so to speak. I know she is just a constitutional monarch, but of course the early kings and queens of England were not. He is talking about a literal kingdom on this earth, the good news of the coming Kingdom of God.
…and healing all kinds of sickness and all kinds of disease among the people.
God is NOT limited. He can heal AIDS. He can heal the Ebola virus. It doesn't make any difference to God—IF you really learn to have faith and trust in the true God of the Bible.
Then His fame went throughout all Syria; and they brought to Him all sick people who were afflicted with various diseases and torments, and those who were demon-possessed, epileptics, and paralytics; and He healed them. Great multitudes followed Him; from Galilee, and from Decapolis, Jerusalem, Judea, and beyond the Jordan.
Jesus began to preach the Gospel of the Kingdom of God. Going now into chapter 5, this magnificent part of the Bible, called by the world the Sermon of the Mount—Matthew 5, 6 and 7—we find that Jesus sets forth the very basic way of Christianity. The absolute foundation of the entire way of Christianity is in these three chapters more thoroughly than it is set forth perhaps anywhere else.
And seeing the multitudes, He went up on a mountain, and when He was seated His disciples came to Him. Then He opened His mouth and taught them, saying: "Blessed are the poor in spirit…"
That doesn't mean you are to be spiritually poor, of course. "Poor in spirit" denotes the fact that you are to be absolutely broken. You are to be absolutely conquered by God. You are to recognize your own nothingness, and God's overwhelming greatness and majesty in comparison to you. When you come to recognize your own nothingness, you can yield to God more fully with that total attitude of surrender and worship and adoration to the great God.
"Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted."
We often think of people mourning—perhaps women who are mourning for their husbands slain in battle. We should have sorrow for them. But that does not mean all those people are going to be in heaven. The Vietnamese widows that we saw pictures of during the Vietnamese War, the widows in Southeast Asia who believe in various forms of Buddhism or Mohammedanism—we know that they do not understand Christianity and Jesus is not talking about them.
"Blessed are those who mourn, For they shall be comforted."
Christ is talking here about spiritual mourning— deep repentance of the self, and abhorrence of self and the wrong way of life that we have all lived-turning to God wholly.
"Blessed are the meek [The word meek means humble or teachable. It has the aspect of being teachable. Be willing to be taught.], For they shall inherit the earth."
It does not say that they will go to heaven, does it? It says "They shall inherit the earth"—not heaven! That is God's promise to His people all the way through the Bible. In fact, turn to the Gospel of John:
"No one has ascended to heaven but He who came down from heaven, that is, the Son of Man who is in heaven."
NO ONE HAS ASCENDED TO HEAVEN! Abraham was the father of the faithful. Jesus said Abraham has not ascended into heaven. David was a man after God's own heart—Jesus was saying here, as well, that David is not in heaven. NO ONE has ascended to heaven. Notice also back in:
"And have made us kings and priests to our God; And we [the saints] shall reign on the earth."
NOT UP IN HEAVEN! The saints "shall reign on the earth."
"Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth."
He goes on, and we want to follow these "Beatitudes" as they are called—these blessings:
"Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be filled."
If you want God's way with all your heart and you really mean that and you are willing to take correction and LISTEN, you will be learning about the way of God during this series—perhaps more than you have ever learned in your life. Learn to hunger and thirst for righteousness and you will be filled.
"Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy."
Learn to be a merciful person, a forgiving person, a kind person—then you will obtain mercy.
"Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God."
Pure in heart? That means you are not always having an angle. You are not always trying to just get. All of us need to come to the place where we simply want to do what God says. We simply want to honor our Father. We simply want to honor our Creator. We are not always looking for an angle—"What do I get out of it?" No. "Blessed are the pure in heart, for they [those with that attitude] shall [finally] see God."
"Blessed are the peacemakers…"
Are you a peacemaker? Or are you always trying to stir up trouble of some sort?
"Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God. Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness' sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven."
Yes, you are going to be persecuted if you obey God—you really are. God shows that throughout the Bible. You have to be willing to do that—to go through trials and tests, to put your trust and faith in God.
"Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake."
If you are reviled or persecuted for evil, that is another thing. But if you are persecuted for obeying Christ you will be blessed.
"You are the salt of the earth…"
You are to be SPECIAL!—NOT just some normal person living like others, but apart from them, the salt of the earth—walking with God, obeying God and having Christ living within you.
"You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden."
The true people of God are to be a light by the way they live.
"Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven."
Yes, Christians are to have good works. And as we go on we will find out that part of your good works is obeying God—obeying God's Law of love and letting Jesus Christ fully live His life in you.
One of the key scriptures I will mention today in closing is my favorite scripture in all the Bible because it is all-inclusive about what it is to be a Christian. It is the Apostle Paul's statement in Galatians 2:20 where Paul said: "I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me." Christ must live His life in you and in me, my friends. And if we surrender to Him and are converted-have His Spirit-through that Spirit, Jesus will live His life in you—the same life He lived 1,900 years ago when He was on this earth. As Hebrews 13:8 tells us "Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever." We must live that way of life. This book of Matthew—and this Sermon on the Mount—tells us more about that than almost any other part of the Bible.
Come back, and listen carefully. These scriptures are a magnificent teaching from the very Word of God and directly from the Son of God.
See you next time right here!