This Bible Study is part of the "The Gospel of Matthew" series. See other Bible Studies which are part of this series
The Bible is the revelation of the great God. That God is the one who created us and gives us everything that we have. He gives us every breath of air we breathe. He even gives us the mind with which we think and reason—and with which we often deny that He exists.
This is Roderick C. Meredith, speaking for the Living Church of God. I am going to be starting through a series of Bible commentaries, going through various books in the Bible. I am going to start with the very first book in the New Testament, the Gospel of Matthew. The Bible is the revelation of the great God. That God is the one who created us and gives us everything that we have. He gives us every breath of air we breathe. He even gives us the mind with which we think and reason—and with which we often deny that He exists. We see the Creation; we see the vast design around us. But we deny the Creator; we deny the Designer. God reveals Himself in this Book. The first four books in the New Testament—Matthew, Mark, Luke and John—are the direct revelation of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the one who died for humanity, the one who now sits at the right hand of God in heaven poised to return soon as King of kings and Lord of lords.
We need to learn more about that great God—we really do. And He reveals Himself through these books. So let's open our Bibles and begin this study. I hope most of you will follow me in your Bible. I had the privilege and the opportunity to teach the freshman Bible class at Ambassador College in Pasadena, California for about thirty years. I was able to talk to students, answer their questions and make the Bible plain and clear to them—I hope I can do that with you, even though in a more abbreviated fashion in these commentaries.
First of all, let me explain the book of Matthew. Matthew's Gospel is often called the "Jewish Gospel" because he talks more about the Old Testament. He quotes constantly from the Old Testament. Indeed, the only Bible at that time was the Old Testament. It is interesting that God inspired Matthew to use the Old Testament as the truth, because it was and it is. Notice in:
II Tim. 3:14-15
But you must continue in the things which you have learned and been assured of, knowing from whom you have learned them, and that from childhood you have known the Holy Scriptures.
The Holy Scriptures? Think about that. The only scriptures available were the Old Testament scriptures. And Paul says, under inspiration, "you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus" (v. 15). Yes, the HOLY SCRIPTURES can point out the true God and even point people to Jesus Christ. He continues:
II Tim 3:16
All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.
So let's understand that you don't need some other book. You only need the Bible, my friends. The Word of God can give you complete instruction. Often people are really mixed up in their minds and confused when they read too many things, because so many other things written by modern man deny the Bible, twist the Bible, pervert the Bible and say things that are entirely contrary from what you would understand if you simply read the Bible and believed what God says in His inspired Word. That is very important.
What is your attitude toward the Bible? Will you believe what God says? Let's get back to the book of Matthew now, and let's see what God says in this revelation from our Creator.
The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the Son of David, the Son of Abraham.
He gets into a lot of begots here, so we will go over a lot of this quickly; we don't have time. Nevertheless, it is important if you take time to study it.
Abraham begot Isaac, Isaac begot Jacob, and Jacob begot Judah and his brothers.
You see, when Abraham was alive there were no Jews. Jews came from Judah—that is interesting and you need to think about that. Judah was one of twelve tribes. A little later it says:
And Jesse begot David the king. David the king begot Solomon by her who had been the wife of Uriah.
This shows how completely God forgives. Once David really repented, God did take that first child, but later He let the second child, Solomon—Bathsheba's second son, of course—be the king following King David. And then it goes down to the following kings:
And Jacob begot Joseph the husband of Mary, of whom was born Jesus.
Notice that he does not talk about Joseph begetting Jesus. He says Joseph was the husband of Mary because, of course, Joseph did not beget Jesus. God begat Jesus through Mary by a miracle. So he comes on down describing these fourteen generations. A little interesting point is to see that God deals here in fourteens—or, that is, in sevens. Two times seven—a very important number in God's plan.
Now the birth of Jesus Christ was as follows: After His mother Mary was betrothed to Joseph, [in those days they had a virtually binding engagement, very hard to break—they were virtually considered married] before they came together [before they had any sexual union], she was found with child of the Holy Spirit. [Not of Joseph, but of the Holy Spirit.] Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not wanting to make her a public example, was minded to put her away secretly.
A man had a right to put away his wife if she had been found to be a fornicator. But Joseph knew that Mary was a very dedicated woman. He could not understand this at all, until God revealed it to him.
But while he thought about these things, behold, an angel [God did send angels and at the end of this age He may do so again] of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, "Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take to you Mary your wife, for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit.
Think about that: "That which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit"—not God the Father, but the Holy Spirit. So if the Holy Spirit were a person, then Jesus would be the son of the Holy Spirit, rather than the Son of the Father! The theologians have a hard time with that.
"And she will bring forth a Son, and you shall call His name JESUS, for He will save His people from their sins." So all this was done that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the Lord through the prophet, saying: "Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel," which is translated, "God with us."
And frankly, when you look at it, my friends, there were dozens and dozens of Old Testament prophecies indicating—and some of them directly foretelling—the birth of the Messiah. And those prophecies ALL came about.
Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem.
Did they come to observe Christmas? Not one thing is said about any Christmas. In fact, every indication is that it took them weeks to get there, and that they were not there on Jesus' birthday at all; but much, much later.
And when they had come into the house, they saw the young Child.
So Mary and Joseph were not in a stable anymore—they were in a HOUSE, perhaps weeks or months later.
They saw the young Child with Mary His mother, and fell down and worshiped Him. [They brought these gifts because He was born to be a KING!] Being divinely warned in a dream that they should not return to Herod, they departed for their own country another way. [So Herod would not kill Jesus.]
Herod the King had determined to butcher the very Son of God. And Satan, through that man, was trying to wipe out the Messiah at the very time of His birth. We see this described in the next several verses. So Joseph and Mary fled to Egypt.
But when Herod was dead, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt, saying, "Arise, take the young Child and His mother, and go to the land of Israel."
He was brought back to Israel and He turned aside to a city called Nazareth. So Jesus, then, was called a Nazarene—which had been prophesied.
In those days John the Baptist came preaching in the wilderness of Judea, and saying, "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand!"
My friends, nearly every time a true minister of God is speaking for the first time or in a new situation in the New Testament—nearly every time—they talk about repentance. Repentance means not only to be sorry, but to be SO sorry that you are willing to turn around and go the other way. "REPENT" John the Baptist said, "for the kingdom of heaven is at hand!"
For this is he who was spoken of by the prophet Isaiah, saying: "The voice of one crying in the wilderness: 'Prepare the way of the LORD; Make His paths straight.'"
John was preparing the way for Christ, and this shows how all Jerusalem and Judah went out to be baptized.
But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees (the religious leaders of that day) coming to his baptism, he said to them, "Brood of vipers! (You sons of snakes!) Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come?"
Often throughout the Bible, the religious leaders are the ones who fight the truth the hardest. That is sad to understand, but it is the truth.
"Therefore bear fruits worthy of repentance, and do not think to say to yourselves, 'We have Abraham as our father.' For I say to you that God is able to raise up children to Abraham from these stones."
Yes, God can intervene. "He does not need you," He was telling those people. He went on to show that He was going to:
Baptize you with water unto repentance, but He who is coming after me…He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.
He was going to baptize them with the Holy Spirit AND with fire. Some people, in emotional meetings, talk about the old BAPTISM WITH FIRE! And they think that is just whooping and hollering in some so-called Pentecostal meeting—well that's not true.
"His winnowing fan is in His hand, and He will thoroughly clean out His threshing floor, and gather His wheat into the barn; but He will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire."
You see, some of the righteous will be gathered into God's kingdom. Some will be burned up. So we don't want THAT fire baptism—believe me. That is being BURNED in the lake of fire, in Gehenna fire. There are two choices: to be gathered into God's Kingdom, or to be burned in Gehenna fire. John taught that, and Jesus taught that, as a matter of fact.
Then Jesus came from Galilee to John at the Jordan to be baptized by him.
John did not want to; he said: "I am not worthy."
But Jesus answered and said to him, "Permit it to be so now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness." Then he allowed Him.
He allowed Himself to be baptized. And John baptized the Son of God—because Jesus wanted to set us an example that we should follow in His steps (as it says later in the New Testament).
When He had been baptized, Jesus came up immediately from the water.
He had not been sprinkled or had some little sponge put on Him. He was IMMERSED! The word "baptized" means PUT INTO—plunged into! He was put down into the water. Baptism is a picture of burial.
And behold, the heavens were opened to Him, and He saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting upon Him. And suddenly a voice [not the direct voice of God, frankly, because the voice of God has never been heard. But God must have spoken through an archangel or cherub.] came from heaven, saying, "This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased."
So God honored Jesus at that time. And Jesus began His ministry.
Next time, we will cover the tremendous temptation of Jesus Christ by Satan the devil, and then get into what is perhaps the most important part of the entire Bible. All the Bible is important, but one of the most important parts of the entire Bible is Matthew 5, 6 and 7—what we call the Sermon on the Mount, the MAGNIFICENT teaching, in detail, the thorough Way of life directly revealed by Christ, the Son of God, who came into this flesh.
So follow this presentation regularly. And we will go right through the book of Matthew and try to make it very plain and very clear.
Thanks for listening.