So, it seems summer is in full swing, and our family schedule will become quite busy with family trips and home improvement projects. I will do my best to keep up a posting schedule, though these posts will necessarily become shorter. Please pray for us as we embark on several trips this summer, and we work on several home projects as well as working toward some new changes to this blog site (working toward possibly adding a weekly podcast on Saturday Mornings).
We are at a transition in Matthew’s account where Matthew recorded several parables taught in fulfillment of prophecy as well as to teach the Apostles about the Kingdom of Heaven. Matthew then turns his attention back to the Ministry of Jesus as it tracks overall leading to the cross. Matthew will be returning in a sense to his the account in Matthew 11, where Jesus testified of who John the Baptist is. But first, we see that despite having John the Baptist as a forerunner and witness to Jesus, and despite all of His teaching and miracles, the people of Nazareth rejected Him.
Matthew 13:53-58 (ESV) | Jesus Rejected at Nazareth
53 And when Jesus had finished these parables, he went away from there, 54 and coming to his hometown he taught them in their synagogue, so that they were astonished, and said, “Where did this man get this wisdom and these mighty works? 55 Is not this the carpenter’s son? Is not his mother called Mary? And are not his brothers James and Joseph and Simon and Judas? 56 And are not all his sisters with us? Where then did this man get all these things?” 57 And they took offense at him. But Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor except in his hometown and in his own household.” 58 And he did not do many mighty works there, because of their unbelief.
I’ve seen many abuse this passage to suggest that our “little faith” ties God’s hands. There is a really bad habit of treating faith that saves and faith that heals or blesses as different things. Such poor understanding of faith can be found in any denomination, but tends to be preyed upon by the televangelist, revival crusades, and so-called faith-healers. Read the passage again. Was their unbelief in the works being performed or unbelief that God could heal/deliver? No… it was in the person of Jesus, the Son of the Living God. They lacked faith in Jesus, and for this He did not do many mighty works in Nazareth.
Matthew 14:1-13 (ESV) | The Death of John the Baptist
1 At that time Herod the tetrarch heard about the fame of Jesus, 2 and he said to his servants, “This is John the Baptist. He has been raised from the dead; that is why these miraculous powers are at work in him.” 3 For Herod had seized John and bound him and put him in prison for the sake of Herodias, his brother Philip’s wife, 4 because John had been saying to him, “It is not lawful for you to have her.” 5 And though he wanted to put him to death, he feared the people, because they held him to be a prophet. 6 But when Herod’s birthday came, the daughter of Herodias danced before the company and pleased Herod, 7 so that he promised with an oath to give her whatever she might ask.8 Prompted by her mother, she said, “Give me the head of John the Baptist here on a platter.” 9 And the king was sorry, but because of his oaths and his guests he commanded it to be given. 10 He sent and had John beheaded in the prison, 11 and his head was brought on a platter and given to the girl, and she brought it to her mother. 12 And his disciples came and took the body and buried it, and they went and told Jesus.
13 Now when Jesus heard this, he withdrew from there in a boat to a desolate place by himself. But when the crowds heard it, they followed him on foot from the towns.
Matthew gives an account of the martyrdom of John the Baptist by way of back story. Notice that Matthew isn’t concerned so much with giving a chronological account; rather, his goal is to highlight the state of Jesus’ earthly ministry at this point. Herod heard about the fame of Jesus, while those at Nazareth were offended by Him. Jesus’ Ministry was no meek and mild secretive venture. He preached the Kingdom, He declared who He was, and He was fulfilling the Law and the Prophets throughout Israel. Matthew comes into this portion of his account, only to then have to give the back story of the death of John the Baptist. I am indeed grateful for this insight, I just want to highlight the focus of Matthew’s account and reiterate that much of what gets passed off as inconsistencies among the Gospels is really a failure to acknowledge that each writer is giving his account from different perspectives and for different purposes yet all under the inspiration and power of God the Holy Spirit.
Now, if we aren’t careful in our reading, we might think that the “this” that prompted Jesus to withdraw to a desolate place was the news of John the Baptist’s death. Verse 13 is a continuation of the primary thought in verse 2. Verses 3-12 are back story to why Herod had assumed that Jesus was John the Baptist raised from the dead. Herod feared John the Baptist and the guilt of his bloods were on Herod’s head. But Herod hadn’t heeded the words of John the Baptist, and he didn’t know/acknowledge who Jesus was.
Until Next Week
Western Society is really going through a heightened state of rebellion against the One True God. While we need to speak up and speak out against falsehood, particularly false teaching and heresy, do not allow the distractions to draw you away from the dutiful study of God’s Word. Spend time studying the original Word of God, and you will be better equipped to identify, expose, and refute the counterfeits. The apostate church is abandoning sound doctrine and misrepresenting Jesus Christ. Stand firm and keep preaching the Word (both Law and Gospel). Next week, we’ll look at some of Jesus’ large-scale miracles that further testify of His Lordship, and then we will move into His teaching regarding the Pharisees.
Jude 1:24-25 (ESV) | Doxology
24 Now to him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy, 25 to the only God, our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen.
In Christ Jesus,