This Sunday, we're kicking off a new study on the Gospel According to Matthew. I'm pumped. But I also got to thinking: why? Why should we study a Gospel account, rather than another letter of Paul, or keep on trucking through the Old Testament?
Although there are no doubt many other good reasons, these three are shaping and driving this series.
1. Because Jesus is the Object of our Faith
We are Christians because we have put our faith in Jesus, as our Savior. Of course, to believe in Jesus, we have to know something about Jesus. And so all of us who call ourselves Christian necessarily do have at least a basic knowledge of who Jesus is.
But I want us to go deeper. And getting into a Gospel is a solid way forward, because it's not a systematic theological account of the person of Christ. We often systematize our knowledge about Jesus: He’s God the Son, God incarnate, who came to die for our sins and rise again for our justification. This is true, and it is right for us to put these comprehensive descriptions together. But sometimes these kinds of descriptions keep Jesus as an object of study, rather than the Person to whom we anchor our souls.
The beauty of studying a Gospel is that we get to walk with Jesus; learn the contours of His heart and Person. We get close. We hear the sweetness of His voice that we love, and are warmed deeply. But we are also challenged by the hard things – reminding us that we can’t make Jesus in our own image; we’ve got to be made in His image. In short, it is through studying the Gospel account that we get to more deeply know the object of our faith.
As a result, we are going to spend our time this year getting to know Jesus. We'll do our best to track the contours of the Gospel narrative as closely as possible, allowing the texts to sound forth in all their depth and color.
2. Jesus Reveals God Most Clearly
Jesus is the authoritative Word, and therefore the only One who is truly qualified to be our Teacher. The glory of the Gospel accounts is that they record Jesus’ words for us. We often take the letters of Paul as our instructional manuals, but the letters of Paul and of Peter (etc.) are grounded in and drawn out of the teachings of Jesus.
It is (no doubt!) right and good for us to listen to their words. We need Romans, 1 John and Jude. They are inspired and the words of God. But it is also necessary for us to come to the feet of our Teacher. For after all, the great commission of Matt. 28 is that we would make disciples and “teach them to observe everything I have commanded you.”
So we're going to come hungry to listen to everything Jesus has commanded us, slowing down when Jesus starts talking so we can listen to and learn from Him carefully and humbly.
3. Jesus is Lord
Finally, we call Jesus not only Savior, but also Lord. For He is our King. The Gospel accounts show us what it means to follow Jesus, and why He is so worthy of following. They make it clear that the Jesus we place our faith in not only calls us to trust His finished work on the cross, but to follow Him into the life of the kingdom, to put on the righteousness He provides by His own generosity and power.
As a result, over the next few months, we're going to spend time laboring well to think about what it looks like for us to follow Jesus in our lives here and now.
So come hungry church! I am eager to spend these next months with you, sitting at the feet of Jesus together.