My Dear Christian Friend:
Yes, it’s another New Year, with all the promise, challenges, and hopes common to us all. This year the broadcast, to engage me, and provide some interest I am going to spend in the Gospel of Matthew. That’s right the entire year in Matthew. It’s also my hope that this will bring as well some fresh insight, enjoyment, and “Good News” to our newsletter. So we begin with this January letter.
Matthew’s gospel in the earliest centuries of Christianity was considered the primary gospel, the first, and most important. Personally I believe, as did all the early Church Fathers, that each gospel adds something unique to the story, especially John. Still in the second and third centuries the church was almost unanimous in its appreciation and veneration of the “Gospel According to Matthew.” Matthew, the Apostle, was always considered the author, and given that he was a rather inconspicuous apostle only adds to the confidence that he was indeed the author. (Why put his name on the gospel, rather than one of the more prominent apostles, if he is not the author).
Until the late nineteenth century there was never a problem with our scripture. It is then that skepticism came to rule so-called Biblical scholarship, and everything was free to be doubted, or even denied. Fortunately most good scholarship has returned to an appreciation of the text, and what it says to us. The consensus, as it always has been, is that Matthew wrote for Hebrew Christians, to assure them that Jesus was indeed the expected Messiah, and to convince those of Israel that as yet were not believers. It is why his frequent use of the Old Testament, and phrases like “This was to fulfill what the prophets said,” which would be followed often with his own free translation of the Hebrew, or the ancient Greek Old Testament. It was Matthew’s way to reinforce his belief to his Jewish kinsmen that Jesus was indeed the Messiah, and much more.
Yet, he would also include throughout his narrative that Gentiles, non-Jews were part of this new mission. In the genealogy he mentions four gentile women that are integral to the Davidic line of the Messiah. Then the visit of the Gentile Magi to worship the new born king. Then Jesus’ ministry begins in “Galilee of the Gentiles,” here begin the great prophetic “Light” to dispel the darkness. It is a Roman Centurion, a Gentile, that has a faith not seen in Israel. And Matthew concludes his gospel to the Jews, with our Lord’s command to “make disciples of all nations,” or “of all Gentiles.” (It is in Hebrew the same word).
We as the nations are the reality of that command of our Lord. And we are the fulfillment of the promise to Abraham, that his seed would bless the nations (or the Gentiles), and number as the sands of the sea, and stars of the sky. Nothing is accidental in God’s purpose; everything in its way serves His plan. Nothing is wasted, even sin, what is evil, irrational, God has and does use. Jacob sin with his daughter in law, Rahab’s occupation, David’s even greater sins, and Israel’s reluctance, even rejection of “the Lamb that takes away the sins of the world.”
So I have no doubt as to our Lord’s efforts in our world today. Despite what the pessimist will pontificate, what the self appointed experts announce, God is in control. It is His will that will be realized, despite everything the enemies of the gospel would throw in our paths. I know not all will accept the truth. I’ve come to accept as our Lord said, some will be “thrown into outer darkness,” not all the seed will fall on “good soil,” and the weeds will be bound “in bundles to be burned,” and some even “doubted” after seeing Him risen and alive. Despite that He still seeks the “one lost lamb.” He’s the father “longing for the lost son.” The King who “invites all those in the byways and hedges to the marriage feast,” and many still “worship Him” as the risen Lord. It is and always has been a choice. And because it is a choice, it’s why this ministry continues; and will until all can make that choice with the best evidence, all the information possible, responding to the misinformation about our faith, and especially experiencing the power of God. Do stay with us, and this ministry, for His will shall prevail!
That the world might hear,
Thomas Randolf Wyatt