Sunday, May 16, 2021

Matthew Series, Week 6 - Layered Identity

  So we recently got a puppy Great Dane and she looks like a miniature Scooby-Doo. In fact, I didn’t know this but a type of Great Dane is classified as Scooby-Doo. Now I don’t know if ours would be classified as such, but she does look like a puppy version. This is our segue. In the classic Scooby-Doo show, the whole thing had a formula to it. The gang would travel around solving crimes that seemed to be based in mystery and spiritualism, but ended up being a person in a mask. Like a good crime drama, the goal was to figure out the identity of the criminal behind the mask. And as I have stated, I love me a good mystery. And now I have all the elements in my own life to create Mystery Inc. My Wife is of course Daphne, Velma is my oldest daughter Elisabeth, Shaggy is my son Israel, and now I have my Scooby-Doo, I even have a mini-van that can double as the mystery machine. Now you might think, wait he has three kids, well, our youngest will have to play the role of Scrappy-Doo. 

All joking aside, it’s this idea of identity that brings us back into our Matthew series where we’ll be picking it back up in chapter 3, starting in verse 1. As we open up to Matthew 3:1, let’s review what we’ve talked about so far in our Matthew series. 

In our first four weeks we looked at the connection Matthew has been making between the Old Testament work of God and how it leads up to the person of Jesus. We have seen this done through the genealogies, dreams, and the connection with Moses. In our fifth week we saw how deep these layers of connection are between Jesus as the Old Testament, by walking through those layers that occur between Jesus and King David. Therefore one of the overarching themes of Matthew’s Gospel is to help us understand the depth of fulfillment that occurs in Jesus’ life, so that we can understand that Jesus is the Jewish Messiah.

And it’s this theme of identity that continues into chapter 3. So let’s read together from Matthew chapter 3 starting in verse 1.


“1 In those days John the Baptist came, preaching in the wilderness of Judea 2 and saying, ‘Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.’ 3 This is he who was spoken of through the prophet Isaiah: ‘A voice of one calling in the wilderness, “Prepare the way for the Lord, make straight paths for him.”’

“4 John’s clothes were made of camel’s hair, and he had a leather belt around his waist. His food was locusts and wild honey. 5 People went out to him from Jerusalem and all Judea and the whole region of the Jordan. 6 Confessing their sins, they were baptized by him in the Jordan River.

“7 But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming to where he was baptizing, he said to them: ‘You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the coming wrath? 8 Produce fruit in keeping with repentance. 9 And do not think you can say to yourselves, “We have Abraham as our father.” I tell you that out of these stones God can raise up children for Abraham. 10 The ax is already at the root of the trees, and every tree that does not produce good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire.

11 “‘I baptize you with water for repentance. But after me comes one who is more powerful than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. 12 His winnowing fork is in his hand, and he will clear his threshing floor, gathering his wheat into the barn and burning up the chaff with unquenchable fire.’

“13 Then Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan to be baptized by John. 14 But John tried to deter him, saying, ‘I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?’

15 Jesus replied, ‘Let it be so now; it is proper for us to do this to fulfill all righteousness.’ Then John consented.

“16 As soon as Jesus was baptized, he went up out of the water. At that moment heaven was opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting on him. 17 And a voice from heaven said, ‘This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.’”

Now a lot is going on in this passage. There are six characters in the story. We start off with John the seemingly principal character, we then move to some antagonists in the Pharisees and Sadducees, then you get to the main hero Jesus, and finally God the Father and God the Spirit. Out of all these, the focus seems to be on John, but this passage isn’t meant to have us focus on John, even though the majority of the passage speaks about him. No, instead this passage is meant for us to better understand who Jesus is.

See up to this point, Matthew has been helping us understand who Jesus is from an Old Testament perspective. Jesus is the Messiah who comes from the linage of David. We saw this in both his genealogy and through the Magi. We also know Jesus as the prophet like Moses, which we learned through the parallels of chapter 2. 

But in this passage we have three persons who give us a greater look at the identity of Jesus. And in turn, these three persons also give us a more complete view as to Jesus’ identity.

The first of these is our writer Matthew. Matthew gives us some commentary of who John is and thereby revealing who Jesus is. 

In verse 3, Matthew paraphrases Isaiah 40:3-5, where the prophet Isaiah communicates these words, “A voice of one calling: ‘In the wilderness prepare the way for the Lord; make straight in the desert a highway for our God. 4 Every valley shall be raised up, every mountain and hill made low; the rough ground shall become level, the rugged places a plain. 5 And the glory of the Lord will be revealed,  and all people will see it together. For the mouth of the Lord has spoken.’” 

This passage had long been established as a Messianic prophecy that revealed that the people would know the arrival of the Messiah, because another would come prior to him being revealed. By connecting John’s ministry to that of the forerunner of the Messiah, Matthew shows us another piece in the puzzle of who Jesus is.

In Matthew’s identification of John, he again shows us that Jesus is the prophesied Messiah. 

The second person who helps us identify Jesus, is John himself. John gives us three statements to Jesus’ identity. First John calls Jesus, someone who is greater and more powerful than he is. This shows us that, though John is doing a great work, his ministry will pale in comparison to Jesus’.

Then John talks about the difference in baptisms. John points to his baptism as a baptism of repentance. Most likely in the vein of Old Testament water purification rituals, which carried with it the understanding that, before a perfect and holy God, we are in need of cleansing. But John states that his baptism is different than Jesus’. John’s is of water and for repentance, but Jesus’ is of the Holy Spirit and fire. Whereas the baptism of John is a preparation for what is to come, it is the baptism of the Holy Spirit that brings with it the salvation and judgment of God. 

Water baptism is a ritual we can perform that symbolizes our desire for God, but the Holy Spirit baptism is the baptism that seals us to Christ. As Paul states in Ephesians 1:13-14, “And you also were included in Christ when you heard the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation. When you believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, 14 who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession—to the praise of his glory.”

So John’s baptism is humanity reaching for God, Jesus’ baptism is God reaching for humanity.

Finally, John describes Jesus’ ministry has a harvester. Here we get a clear distinction between the two works. John is the pre-show, Jesus is the main event. John is a planter, Jesus is a reaper. John’s work is to get the message out, so that when Jesus arrives, he can do the mighty work of dividing those that would accept him from those that would not. Jesus is the pinnacle for which John works. Jesus is the endgame.

So far, these first two identifiers of Jesus carry with them a similar description: Jesus is the coming Messiah. It’s in the final identifier we get a whole new aspect on who Jesus is. Which, if we have been paying attention, we should have already be thinking that there is more to this Jesus. Remember last week we talked about the layers of God’s Word? Well the layers that God has for the prophecy that Matthew referenced earlier, helps bookend what happens in this last identifier.

In the baptism of Jesus, we get three moments. The first moment is the Holy Spirit descending like a dove on Jesus. This is keeping with the Old Testament idea that the Spirit of God would descend upon people so that God’s work could be carried out. This was done for people like Gideon in Judges 6:34, and Samson in Judges 15:14. So in keeping with the Old Testament work of the Spirit, we see that being carried over into Jesus’ life.

But then something different happens, a voice speaks. And in that one sentence we get these four words, “This is my Son…”

This is a revelation of greater importance than anything that has come before it. By Matthew relaying these words, we get something that sends a depth charge into our understanding of who Jesus is. So far all we’ve known about Jesus is that he is the awaited Messiah. Just in two chapters and now into the third, this is becoming more clear. But with these four words, Jesus as just the Messiah is no longer on the table. This Jesus is more. No where in the Old Testament does God call any one person his son. Sure the term sons of God is used, but always as a grouping of the nation of Israel together. 

Yet here, a voice speaks and separates Jesus from all those who have gone before him. All the other Old Testament prophets, and messianic figures where used by God, but they were all servants of God. Jesus is different, he is not a servant, but a son. Jesus is unique among all the Old Testament people, not in the position of a servant but in the position of a son. 

And in the next part of the sentence, Jesus isn’t just a son, but the Son that the Father loves and is please by. In this moment Jesus moves beyond the Messiah of the Jews. To them the Messiah was going to be another Old Testament prophet king. But from what this voice said, this Jesus is more than that. 

It’s a moment that, if we’re reading as a Jew for the first time, would perk our hears. How can Jesus be singled out as the Son? This is something that has never happened before .  

And, instead of answering the question what does it mean that Jesus is the unique Son,  we’re taken quickly into the fourth chapter and into Jesus’ encounter with Satan.

Yet if we’ve been paying attention to the layers of God’s revelation, we get should be able to answer that question, at least in part. The prophecy that Matthew quotes not only reveals that there is to be a forerunner before the Messiah, but that the forerunner makes a way and highway for God himself. And that his revealing will be seen by others. In this moment, as John makes a way for Jesus to come and as the Father speaks, we who are paying attention to it all, can answer the question who is this unique Son of the Father. We can answer it by saying that Jesus himself, he is the eternal God. Now just from this point of Matthew we can’t answer all of what that means, but if a Jewish person were to be seeing this in the first century, it would raise more questions than it answers. 

And so at this moment, we should stop and try to put ourselves into the place of those first readers and hears of this statement, “This is my Son…”

A lot of times we tend to just brush over who Jesus is. We might be a believer for a long time and we know who Jesus is. Or we might be a newer believer, knowing just enough of who Jesus is. He is the Savior right? He died to save me from my sin. He is the Lord right? He is who I worship. Or we might not know anything about Jesus except for that picture of him petting a sheep.

But no matter where we find ourselves in our understanding of Jesus, we must ask ourselves, have I ever deviled into who Jesus is? Have I ever scoured the Scriptures to see who this Jesus is? A lot of times we relegate Jesus to the Gospels as if that’s the only place to find Jesus’ identity. You know, one of my pet peeves are red letter Bibles. They’re great to see the words of Jesus in the Bible, but they condition us to only see Jesus in the Gospels. The reality is, Jesus is all over the Scriptures.

We have to be careful to not fall into the trap of limiting our understanding of who Jesus is to four books of the Bible, or else we’ll have a diminished view of him.

So this week I want to challenge you to read six passages of the Bible. And as you read each passage, begin to understand the greater scope of who Jesus is throughout the entire Word of God. In the Gospel of John the first thing he relays to the reader are these words, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was with God in the beginning.”

This Word is revealed as being Jesus before he came to earth. That means that if Jesus is the eternal God, then he must show up in other parts of the Bible as well. So, take some time this week and read through these passages to see how Jesus shows up through out the Scriptures. 

These passages are: Genesis 16:7-14, Exodus 3:1-6, Joshua 5:13-15, Daniel 3:8-25, Philippians 2:1-11, and Revelation 5:1-14.

Each of these holds a piece of the overall identity of Jesus and I want to challenge you this week to go beyond your understanding of who Jesus is, and allow God’s Word to give you a fuller understanding of him. 

Let us be a people who have a deep grasp of the identity of Jesus, so that we may point people back to the true Messiah, the Christ, the Savior, the true God of of the world. Amen.

Wednesday, May 12, 2021

Matthew Series, Week 5 - Usurper King

  One of my favorite scenes is from Disney’s Robin Hood. It is a classic retelling of the Robin Hood myth. The whole movie centers around the cowardly Prince John taxing the people of England while King Richard is off fighting in the crusades. When John arrives in Nottingham he comes into conflict with the our hero Robin Hood. The Disney twist on the story is that they’re all animals playing the parts of the characters. Of course our hero Robin wins and eventually marries Maid Merriam. It’s at their wedding, as they leave the church building, that we see that the true king of England, King Richard, has returned and has blessed the marriage. It’s in this final scene where he echoes an earlier statement in the movie, “Friar Tuck, it appears that I now have an outlaw for an in-law.” 

I love the whole movie because it speaks to a spiritual truth. We tend to think that we would be like Robin Hood, the gallant hero of the story, but in our spiritual lives, we tend to be more like Prince John the usurper of the kingdom. Prince John was an overseer while his brother was a way, but in the story, John seeks to take the throne from his brother and make himself king. 

And it’s this idea of usurping a rightful king that bring us back into our Matthew series where we’re going to pick it back up in chapter 2, starting in verse 1. As we open up to Matthew 2:1, let’s take a look at what we’ve covered so far. 

In the previous weeks, we have discovered the overall purpose of Matthew’s Gospel. By the Holy Spirit’s guiding, Matthew is helping us see the connections between Jesus’ work and the Old Testament. Matthew is shows us how Jesus is the fulfillment of the work that God had done in the Old Testament. We saw this is the structure of his writing, the genealogy of Jesus, the use of dreams, and the parallel between Jesus and Moses. 

Throughout the rest of Matthew, we’ll continue to see these connections, and we’ll see how these connections come into our lives as well. With that brief look at the first four weeks of our series, let’s dive into Matthew chapter 2, verse 1. 

“After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi from the east came to Jerusalem 2 and asked, ‘Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.’

“3 When King Herod heard this he was disturbed, and all Jerusalem with him. 4 When he had called together all the people’s chief priests and teachers of the law, he asked them where the Messiah was to be born. 5 ‘In Bethlehem in Judea,’ they replied, ‘for this is what the prophet has written: 6 “But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; for out of you will come a ruler who will shepherd my people Israel.”’

“7 Then Herod called the Magi secretly and found out from them the exact time the star had appeared. 8 He sent them to Bethlehem and said, ‘Go and search carefully for the child. As soon as you find him, report to me, so that I too may go and worship him.’

“9 After they had heard the king, they went on their way, and the star they had seen when it rose went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the child was. 10 When they saw the star, they were overjoyed. 11 On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. 12 And having been warned in a dream not to go back to Herod, they returned to their country by another route.

“13 When they had gone, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream. ‘Get up,’ he said, ‘take the child and his mother and escape to Egypt. Stay there until I tell you, for Herod is going to search for the child to kill him.’

“14 So he got up, took the child and his mother during the night and left for Egypt, 15 where he stayed until the death of Herod. And so was fulfilled what the Lord had said through the prophet: ‘Out of Egypt I called my son.’

“16 When Herod realized that he had been outwitted by the Magi, he was furious, and he gave orders to kill all the boys in Bethlehem and its vicinity who were two years old and under, in accordance with the time he had learned from the Magi. 17 Then what was said through the prophet Jeremiah was fulfilled: 18 ‘A voice is heard in Ramah, weeping and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children and refusing to be comforted, because they are no more.’”

There’s a lot going on in this passage, and we tend to focus on the Magi and star. Since that is the usual Christmas story, we’re going to instead focus on the first prophecy that we are given.

Now in this passage we see how Matthew connects Jesus back to the Old Testament. These connections are made by Matthew pointing to the fulfillment of prophecy, which are found in verses 6, 15, and 18. It’s the fulfillment of the second half of verse 6 that we’re going to focus in on, that being the statement “…for out of you will come a ruler who will shepherd my people Israel.” This statement is a combination of quotations from two Old Testament sources. The first source is Micah 5:2, which reads, “But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah (e-fra-tha), though you are small among the clans of Judah, out of you will come for me one who will be ruler over Israel, whose origins are from of old, from ancient times.” 

The second part of Matthew’s quotation, instead of following the rest of Micah’s quote, “who origins are from old, from ancient times…” has been interpreted for us by the priest and teachers. Instead of finishing Micah they instead say, “who will shepherd my people Israel.” This second quotation is a paraphrase from 2nd Samuel 5:2, where David is told by God, “You will shepherd my people Israel, and you will become their ruler.” The priests and teachers in Matthew’s account interpret the “ancient times” of Micah 5:2 with David, who 2 Samuel 5:2 is referencing, and thereby they draw an Old Testament parallel between King David, and the coming Messiah; which Matthew is showing us to be Jesus.

This is important for us to understand, because 2nd Samuel 5:2 is the inauguration passage of David, and this passage is now being applied to Jesus, which in turn, like we saw last week in the parallels between Moses and Jesus, shows us that this passage is drawing parallels again. So let’s look at some of these parallels real quick. 

First, David was called the Shepherd King, because he was a shepherd by trade, and is called by God to shepherd his people Israel in 2 Samuel 5:2. Therefore we need to be on the look out for shepherd imagery within Matthew’s Gospel. And sure enough, three times in Matthew, Jesus is referred to as a shepherd. In Matthew 9:36, Matthew makes this commentary note, “When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.”

In Matthew 25:32, Jesus makes this statement about the judgment at the end of time, “All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats.”

Finally in Matthew 26:31 Jesus makes this statement to his disciples on the eve of his crucifixion, “…This very night you will all fall away on account of me, for it is written: ‘I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock will be scattered.’”

This shepherd language connects to Jesus being a guide and protector to the nation of Israel, as was David before him. This is also Messianic language pointing to Jesus as the fulfillment of the Old Testament prophecies. 

Now when the scribes make this connection between King David and the coming Messiah, they inadvertently make more connections than they probably realized. Because not only is the Messiah taking the role of David as King, but if we look at the situation that surrounds Jesus’ birth, we can see another parallel between David and Jesus. This parallel is the kings that proceed their coronation. 

Let’s take a quick look at the two kings that proceed the coming of both David and Jesus. The king at David’s anointing is Saul, and because the Magi brought gifts for the King of the Jews, the king at Jesus’ coronation is Herod.

Both these kings did not rule Israel by God’s order. We’re told in 1 Samuel 8:1-22 that Saul was chosen, not by God, but by the people of Israel so that they could be like the other nations. This went against God’s intention for Israel to be a nation where he was their King. Now God used this for his greater plan to bring about Jesus, but we see that prior to David, there was a king in place who’s reign would not last. In the case of Herod, he was not a Jew by birth, nor found in the genealogy of David. Instead, his family were converts to Judaism and he was crowned King of Palestine by the Roman Senate in 37BC (

Second, Both Saul and Herod fell into madness towards the end of their lives. Starting in 1st Samuel 14:24-30, Saul starts cursing the people. Then in the following chapter he blames them for him not obeying God (1st Sam 15:24). Finally we see Saul lashing out at David because he had been given up by God to evil spirits (1st Samuel 16:14-23). Similarly, Herod wanted to keep control over his kingdom so badly that in his later years, he began murdering family members who might usurp his throne. He killed his second wife, her two sons, her brother, her grandfather, and her mother ( 

Finally, we know from Matthew 2:16-18 that Herod slaughter innocent children to get to this coming king. But did you also know that Saul murder innocent priests to get at David? Both unjustly slaughtered innocents to stop the reign of God’s chosen king (Saul in 1st Samuel 22:6-23, and Herod in Matthew 2:16-18).

So not only was Jesus a parallel to David in his shepherding role, but also in his role as a ruler who was anointed under another king who were parallels of each other. 

But there is more to the story. One of the most important insights that we are given is in Matthew 2:3. This verse speaks to, not only the state of the world Jesus was born into, but also our spiritual lives. Matthew 2:3 reads, “When King Herod heard this he was disturbed, and all Jerusalem with him”

Why were they disturbed? It’s because a new King, who’s kingdom is righteous, it’s over all people, and it’s forever, was coming. That was a challenge to their own mini-kingdoms. And the reality is, Jesus as King is a challenge to our mini-kingdoms as well.

It doesn’t matter if we are or we’re not disciples of Jesus. The proclamation of Jesus overriding our own personal kingdoms can disturb us.

Because Jesus’ kingship means that we cannot even begin to believe that what we have is ours. Listen to the start of Psalm 24:1, “The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it…”

We must realize that the proclamation that Jesus is King is not a simple, yeah he’s a king, rather it means that our idea of control over any facet of our life is illusionary. No, the reality is, all things are his. Listen to some of the things that are said about God throughout the Old Testament. 

Isaiah 44:6 states, “This is what the Lord says—Israel’s King and Redeemer, the Lord Almighty: I am the first and I am the last; apart from me there is no God.”

God states in Exodus 34:13-14, “13 Break down their altars, smash their sacred stones and cut down their Asherah poles. 14 Do not worship any other god, for the Lord, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God.”

And this is the description we get of Jesus in Revelation 19:13-16, “He is dressed in a robe dipped in blood, and his name is the Word of God. 14 The armies of heaven were following him, riding on white horses and dressed in fine linen, white and clean. 15 Coming out of his mouth is a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations. ‘He will rule them with an iron scepter.’ He treads the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God Almighty. 16 On his robe and on his thigh he has this name written: ‘KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS.’”

If we are disturbed at the idea that Jesus’ reign is absolute over us; that every thing in our possession is his, and can be called upon at a moment for his use, then we need to reevaluate our understanding of Jesus as King.

Say what you will about Herod and all of Jerusalem being disturbed, they at least realized what it meant that the Magi were proclaiming the Messiah had come. Herod and the ruling class of Jerusalem had their own mini kingdoms; Herod had his over Palestine, and other’s had their own realms of wealth and prestige. And when they heard the Messiah was being born they new that his reign would be an end to their mini-kingdoms. 

If we have called on the name of Jesus, we must realize that everything we have is his. We are not a kingdom unto ourselves, but a kingdom of his to be used for his glory as he so choses. 

He is the Shepherd King who will rules over us. Listen a fresh to the words of Paul in Philippians 2:10-11, “…that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” This is what Herod and Jerusalem feared. A king who’s reign is complete, and where no others can rule apart from him.

But at the name of Jesus, those who have put their trust into him as their Savior have nothing to fear. Those who have given up their kingdoms for the Kingdom of God have gained so much more. 

So my challenge to this week, is to make a brief outline of all that you own or have control over. Go through that list this week seeking God, asking him, “Have I given this up to you, or is there still a remnant of my own kingdom here?” This very issue is what Jesus will deal with in Matthew chapter 13 with the Parable of the Hidden Treasure. That if we truly understood the greatness of God’s kingdom in our lives today, then everything we have would be given up in a moment to gain what he has offered up for free.

Let us be a people who seek after the eternal kingdom of God in its totality and not in our own fleeting kingdoms. Amen.

Tuesday, May 4, 2021

Matthew Series, Week 4 - Parallel Prophet

  Throughout history parallel’s can be made about many different figures. Take Abraham Lincoln and JFK for example. 

Both were elected to congress in [a year ending in] ’46 (Lincoln was elected in 1846 from Illinois, and Kennedy was elected in 1946 from Massachusetts).

Both were elected to the presidency in [a year ending in] ’60 (Lincoln was elected in 1860, and Kennedy was elected in 1960).

Both have seven letters in their last names ("Lincoln" and "Kennedy").

Both were concerned with civil rights (Lincoln with slavery and Kennedy with Civil Rights).

Both married in their 30s to women in their 20s (Lincoln was married on November 4, 1842, Lincoln was born on February 12, 1809, making him 33 years old at the time of his wedding. Lincoln's bride, Mary Anne Todd, was born on December 13, 1818, making her 23 years old at the time of the wedding. Kennedy was married on September 12, 1953,Kennedy was born on May 29, 1917, making him 36 years old at the time of his wedding. Kennedy's bride, Jacqueline Bouvier, was born on July 28, 1929, making her 24 years old at the time of the wedding).

Both lost a son while living in the White House (Lincoln lost his 11-year-old son, William, and Kennedy lost his infant son, Patrick).

Both sons' names, have 21 letters each (William Wallace Lincoln and Patrick Bouvier Kennedy) with each having 7 letters each [of their own] (first, middle and last name).

Both were shot on a Friday (Lincoln was shot on Good Friday, April 14, 1865, and Kennedy was shot on Friday, November 22, 1963).

Both were killed with a bullet to the head. (Lincoln and Kennedy).

Both were shot in the presence of their wives. (Lincoln and Kennedy).

Both were assassinated by Southerners (Lincoln was shot by John Wilkes Booth from Maryland, and Kennedy was shot by Lee Harvey Oswald from New Orleans, Louisiana).

Both of the presidents' successors were named Johnson (Lincoln was succeeded by Andrew Johnson, and Kennedy was succeeded by Lyndon B. Johnson).

Both were succeeded by Southerners (Andrew Johnson was from Tennessee, and Lyndon B. Johnson was from Texas).

Both successors were born in [a year ending in] ’08 (Andrew Johnson was born December 29, 1808, and Lyndon B. Johnson was born August 27, 1908).

Both assassins, are known by their three names (John Wilkes Booth and Lee Harvey Oswald).

Each assassin's full name is composed of fifteen letters.

[And each assassin was killed] before [they could be tried] (On April 26, 1865, after refusing to surrender, John Wilkes Booth was assassinated by Sergeant Boston Corbett. On November 24, 1963, on his way to the county jail, Lee Harvey Oswald was assassinated by night club owner, Jack Ruby.)” (Quote take from–Kennedy_coincidences_urban_legend) (Additional article -

Parallels between people’s lives can be interesting to see. These parallel’s are events that we can look back on and wonder at the happenstance of it all. But what if the parallels between two lives was on purpose? What if one of the people actually predicted that there would be another who who would parallel their life? And what if later we could find someone that so closely does parallel their life, that there would be no doubt that it was a fulfillment?

This idea of parallel lives is what brings us back into our Matthew series. Where, instead of opening to Matthew first, we’re going to be opening to Deuteronomy chapter 18, starting in verse 15. And as we open up to Deuteronomy 18:15, let’s look back on our previous weeks. 

In our first week, we talked about understanding the human author that God used to bring about this Gospel. We walked away from week one with the understanding that when we better understand the human author God used, the better we understand some of the details and purposes of the writing as we read. We’ll see some of this today on how Matthew connects us back into the Old Testament.

In our second week we walked through some of the names in the genealogy that Matthew gave, and we noticed two things about it. We noticed that Jesus’ genealogy shows us the scope and connection of God’s salvation work. We saw this in who God used in Jesus’ genealogy to bring it about. We also saw the fulfillment of prophecy within the genealogy, both a blessing and a curse.

Then last week, we looked at the Old Testament way in which God communicated through dreams, noticing that Matthew lets us know that God was still using these in the life of Jesus. We walked away from last week with an understanding that dreams are still an important vehicle for God’s communication with humanity. In fact, God still uses dreams today to give insight to humans into divine revelation of his established salvation work. 

Now as we open up to the Scriptures this week, we’re going to be doing a lot of flipping around.  This is because, before we start moving our way through the rest of the book, we need to see one of the overarching themes in which Matthew is tying his writing to the Old Testament. If you remember, I had mention in our first week how there is a parallel between how Matthew structures his Gospel, and that of the book of Deuteronomy.

In Deuteronomy the structure of the book is made up of six speeches by Moses. Matthew structures his Gospel similarly by structuring it around five sermons of Jesus.  In addition to this, both Deuteronomy and Matthew both have an opening that is roughly four chapters long that gives us an introduction to how we got to our first speech/sermon. In Deuteronomy, it’s the history of Israel up to that point; while in Matthew we get how Jesus ties into Israel and how he begins his ministry.

But there’s more going on than Matthew simply tying together through the structure of his writing to Deuteronomy. There are two passages from Deuteronomy that Matthew shows fulfilled in his Gospel. First, let’s look at these two passages and then we’ll see how Matthew shows that they have been fulfilled. 

In Deuteronomy 18, we’re halfway through the book, and Moses is coming to the end of his life. Starting in verse 15, Moses gives hope to the people who are concerned about the future. Let’s start reading in Deuteronomy 18, starting in verse 15. “15 The Lord your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among you, from your fellow Israelites. You must listen to him. 16 For this is what you asked of the Lord your God at Horeb on the day of the assembly when you said, ‘Let us not hear the voice of the Lord our God nor see this great fire anymore, or we will die.’ 17 The Lord said to me: ‘What they say is good. 18 I will raise up for them a prophet like you from among their fellow Israelites, and I will put my words in his mouth. He will tell them everything I command him.’”

This is an important passage because it gives the people an understanding of the future, that there’s a prophet like Moses to come. The implication of God’s Word here is that the prophet will be comparatively similar or an equivalent to Moses. This is a prophecy of a life that will be parallel to another. 

But even though Joshua was to take over for Moses, we get these final words at the end of the book in Deuteronomy 34:10-12, “10 Since then, no prophet has risen in Israel like Moses, whom the Lord knew face to face, 11 who did all those signs and wonders the Lord sent him to do in Egypt—to Pharaoh and to all his officials and to his whole land. 12 For no one has ever shown the mighty power or performed the awesome deeds that Moses did in the sight of all Israel.” This is important stuff, because no where in the Old Testament does another prophet arise that is given parallel status with Moses.

Now when we come to the Gospel of Matthew, Matthew shows us throughout his book that Jesus is in fact the prophet that Moses spoke about. He does this through a couple of different ways. The first way is by showing the observant reader these parallels through the actual life of Jesus. The second is by presenting the question, is Jesus the prophet, and then answering it. Let look at these two ways.

First, we’ll look at six parallels that Matthew shows us about Jesus, and how a Jewish person reading these words, would connect them back to Moses. We’re going to go in order of where they occur in the book of Matthew, and not necessarily in Moses’ life, so that we can see how many fall just within the first several chapters of the Gospel.

First, Matthew shows us in chapter 2, verses 13-15, that Jesus was carried away to Egypt to grow up for a time. Moses, as recorded in Exodus 2:1-15, also grew up in Egypt. Therefore both spent their young lives in the land of Egypt.

Next, in Matthew 2:16-18, we get the passage where King Herod sends out a proclamation that all the boys in Bethlehem and it’s surrounding region, who are two years and younger, are to be put to death. This parallels the situation in Exodus 1:8-2:10 that Moses was born into in Egypt, where the Pharaoh called for a similar killing of the Israelite male children. In both cases, both escaped the king’s infanticide.

Thirdly, at Jesus’ baptism in Matthew 3:13-17, we learn that the audible voice of the Father gives his stamp of approval on Jesus in front of the crowd. This parallels God’s stamp of approval on Moses in the presence of the nation of Israel, when God spoke from Mount Sinai in Exodus 19:16-20:21. So both were approved by God’s audible voice in front of others.

Right after this in Matthew 4:2, we find out that Jesus fasted for forty days. Moses did the same on Mount Sinai in Exodus 34:28. Now, this one isn’t a big parallel, but we must see, even in the little details, how Jesus’ life parallel’s Moses’. Matthew is being led by the Spirit to help us understand these connections, no matter how small.

The last two are big ones. In Matthew 5:1-7:29, we find out that Jesus goes up onto the side of a mountain and takes the people through a ten commandments like sermon. Moses of course did something similar in Exodus 34:29-35:1. Therefore a monumental moment in Moses’ ministry is paralleled in Jesus’ as well. Both speaking the commands of God from a mountain.

Finally, like Moses, Jesus performed miracles. This isn’t something that should be overlooked. And though there are many miracles that booth either performed or were perform by God in their presence, there is one that I think is extremely substantial. One of the major ones is done twice by Jesus. Once in Matthew 14:13-21, and later in the next chapter of 15:32-39. This miracle was the feeding of the 5,000 and later the 4,000. This bread miracle is a parallel to the miracle that happen as Moses led the Israelites in Exodus 16:14-15. This mana or bread from heaven is given to the Israelites and Jesus would actually pick this up in John 6:35 in his teaching. And so a miracle of bread occurs with both of these lives.

Now there are a lot more of these parallels throughout Matthew. And if we’re not paying attention, we might miss these parallels because we’re not as versed in the Old Testament as a Jewish reader would be. Nor is Moses as much of a significant figure in our minds as he would be to a Jewish person. But as a Jewish reader made their way through Matthew’s Gospel, they would pick up on these parallel between Jesus and Moses. And even though we might not be attuned to these parallels, we must make the effort to be observant of them.

In addition to these parallels, Matthew shows us a question that to a Jewish reader would be starting to form in their minds. He does this because the question was asked of Jesus in Matthew 11:3. Notice how a lot of the parallels we covered happen before the question. In this verse, the disciples of John the Baptist come to Jesus and ask him, “Are you the one who is to come, or should we expect someone else?” Now, we’ll get into the whole situation when we come to it, but the one who is to come that they were looking for, was the prophet who was like Moses. We would better understand the word Messiah at this point, because that is the role of the prophet, to be a Messiah like Moses. But this next prophet or Messiah was to be greater than Moses, because he would be the Messiah. In answering this question, Jesus puts it back on the questioner to answer, by saying, “Go back and report to John what you hear and see: 5 The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is proclaimed to the poor. 6 Blessed is anyone who does not stumble on account of me.” In the same way, it is the reader that must answer the question, is Jesus really the prophet like Moses?

And as Matthew brings along his Jewish audience, he reveals the answer through another moment in Jesus life. This time it’s in Matthew 21:11, where Jesus is entering into Jerusalem, and the crowds cry out, “This is Jesus, the prophet from Nazareth in Galilee.” With this proclamation, the answer is yes Jesus is the prophet like Moses. The prophet that who was prophesied about has now arrived and we must follow him.

But these are just some of the parallels that Matthew shows through his writing, there are much more. And not just in Matthew’s work, but throughout the New Testament, this parallel between Jesus and Moses is brought to the forefront. This is why Peter, in his second sermon brings up Moses’ prophecy in Acts 3:22 “For Moses said, ‘The Lord your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among your own people; you must listen to everything he tells you.’” Peter does this in the context of referring to Jesus.

These parallels and recognization of Jesus being the prophet that Moses spoke about confirms, in part, Jesus’ identity.

And it’s here where we need to tread lightly. Though Matthew helps us see that Jesus is the prophet that Moses spoke about, Matthew also reveals that Jesus is more than just a prophet in line with the other Old Testament prophets. This is one aspect of who Jesus is, he is the fulfillment of Moses’ prophecy, but Jesus is more than it. We must not fall into the trap that others, such as Islam has done, where Jesus is a mere prophet. No, in fact, in Jesus final words to his disciples in Matthew, Jesus reveals just who he is. In Matthew 28:18-20 Jesus says, “…All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

All authority is Jesus’. Jesus’ name is equal with the Father and Spirit’s. It is Jesus who gives the commands, and it is Jesus who will be with his disciples to the very end of the age. These all give us a greater insight into who Jesus is. He is the prophesied prophet, the Messiah, but he is also the eternal Son the God come down to humanity. He fulfills all prophecies about his first coming, and he is coming to fulfill all the prophecies of his second coming. And we must recognize who he is, just as Matthew is trying to help us do. Because if we don’t, we miss him. We miss out on his salvation work. We miss out on the life he died to bring us into. We miss out on his grace. And Matthew writes his Gospel, so that we will not miss out on who Jesus is.

And so, as we make our way through Matthew’s writing, we must see Jesus’ true identity. Each aspect, is shown by Matthew, to help us fully realize who Jesus is, and at the end do as his disciples did, bow down, worship him, putting our trust in him as our Savior and then following him for the rest of our lives.

So, my challenge for you this week is to look up three groups of passages. These are just some other parallels between Jesus and Moses. These groups of passages are: Numbers 13 & Matthew 10:1-15; Exodus 34:29-35 & Matthew 17:1-13; And Exodus 32:30 & Matthew 20:28. I want to challenge you to see how Jesus is a prophet like Moses. So that as we make our way through the rest of Matthew’s Gospel you will be better prepared to see Jesus’ work in light of the Old Testament.

Let us be a people open to the work of the Holy Spirit that brought about Matthew writing down God’s Word. Let us see it, as God intended it to be seen, as best we can. So that we can be solid in our footing, as we stand on the Word of God. Understanding the full identity of Jesus, the Messiah. Amen.