On Matthew 5

Big Takeaway

Jesus shows us that the only way to combat oppression and injustice is by utilizing creative non violent resistance. Rather than being led by our anger and frustration, or pressure and provocation we must be led by our desire to reflect God's generous love.

On Loving Your Enemies

"When they mocked him, he didn't respond. When they challenged him, he told quizzical, sometimes humorous, stories that forced them to think differently. When they struck him, he took the pain. When they put the worst bit of Roman equipment on his back - the heavy cross-piece on which eh would be killed - he carried it out of the city to the place of his own execution. When they nailed him to the cross, he prayed for them." - N.T. Wright

  • The Jews were not chosen to be God's special people while the rest of the world remains in the dark, instead they were chosen to bring others into the light. They were chosen to be light.
  • The Old Testament taught that it was better to have an eye for an eye than for feuds to escalate, however Jesus goes a step further: no vengeance, using your creativity to resolve issues thus reflecting God's deepest nature of overflowing love.
  • To be struck on the right cheek almost certainly meant being struck with the back of the right hand. That is an insult that implied that you are inferior to the person (i.e. in that society - slave, child, woman). To offer the other (left) cheek implies: hit me again if you'd like but this time as an equal.
  • If you are being sued give both your shirt and cloak (most people only wore those two garments) and shame him with your nakedness. Show the rich, powerful, and careless what they are doing: reducing the poor to a state of shame.
  • Roman soldiers had the right to force civilians to carry their equipment for one mile but it strictly forbade them to make someone go further than that. Jesus asks us to go a second mile, astonish and alarm the soldier.

On Criticism

A continuation of a series covering Dale Carnegie's How To Win Friends and Influence People

Big Takeaway

Criticizing people is hurtful, ineffective, selfish, apathetic, and ultimately only leads to feelings of resentment, demoralization, and frustrated justification.

  • We must always keep in mind that people are emotional creatures and are largely motivated by pride and vanity
  • Though people are very quick to condemn others for their shortcomings, they are just as quick to justify, understand, and absolve themselves of their own.
  • Rather than fixing the problem, criticism largely leaves a person feeling resentful, discouraged, and only results in them further justifying their actions.
  • Rather than criticizing others we should pause to place ourselves in their shoes and understand the situation from their point of view.
  • The best way to invoke change in someone is by openly exemplifying the exact behavior that you would like to see them display.

On Matthew 1

Big Takeaway

Jesus' entrance into our world tells us that God is proactive, faithful, and sometimes works in strange ways to rescue His people.

On Jesus' Genealogy

"For many cultures ancient and modern, and certainly in the Jewish world of Matthew's day, this genealogy was the equivalent of a roll of drums, a fanfare of trumpets, and a town crier calling for attention. Any first-century Jew would find this family tree both impressive and compelling. Like a great procession coming down a city street, we watch the figures at the front, and the ones in the middle, but all eyes are waiting for the one who comes in the position of greatest honour, right at the end." - N.T. Wright

  • In ancient times asking someone who they are is the same as asking what family they come from.
  • For 200 years before the birth of Jesus the kings and queens of Israel were not from David’s family. To list Jesus as a direct descendant of David, the true ancient royal lineage, is to make a dangerous political statement.
  • Matthew highlights the strange ways God has worked in the royal family itself. Boaz being the song of the prostitute Rahab and David's adultery to name a few.

On The Immaculate Conception

"God is present, with his people; he doesn't 'intervene' from a distance, but is always active, sometimes in most unexpected ways. And God's actions are aimed at rescuing people from a helpless plight, demanding that he take the initiative and do things people had regarded as (so to speak) inconceivable." - N.T. Wright

  • Matthew asks us to take a look at the surprising circumstances of Jesus' birth within the context of the surprising ways he has worked throughout Israel's entire history.
  • Joseph was embarrassed at Mary's pregnancy but he didn't let his humiliation get in the way of his high moral principles.
  • Joseph gives us an example of what true, faithful obedience looks like. "did exactly what God's angel commanded in the dream:" (MSG 24-25)