Download study booklet here // Matthew Bible Study 2013 (Chapters 22-25) - The Church Handbook
Matthew’s gospel can be divided into two sections. In chapters 1 to 15, the big question that keeps arising is “Who is this man Jesus?” Then in Chapter 16, Jesus poses this question directly to the disciples, and Peter replies - “You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God”. (Ch 16 v16). This is the great turning point in Matthew’s account of Jesus’ life. From now on the teaching of Jesus focuses more and more on what it will mean to be a follower of Jesus. In the very next section (Ch 16 v21-28), a key emphasis of this teaching emerges for the first time. Since Jesus is about to suffer and die, losing his life in this world, that is what anyone who decides to follow him must be ready for. They must expect to die to this world, they must plan to die to self. And they must do this, for the sake of the same mission that Jesus himself died in order to achieve, that is, the establishment of the Kingdom of Heaven.
Now, the word Jesus uses here to describe this new people of God is “The Church”. He tells the disciples at this key moment in his ministry “I will build my church”. (Ch 16v18) The church here is the people of God, the gathering of disciples, those who have come to know that Jesus is the King, God’s Messiah or Christ, the one all people are called to serve.
From Chapter 16 onward, Jesus then is teaching what it will mean to live as part of his church. He uses the phrase “Kingdom of Heaven” to speak of the same group of people, disciples who know God as King, as they follow the Son of God, Jesus.
In the studies that follow, then, we will look at a few of the chapters in this second section of Matthew’s gospel, with this theme in mind. We will be asking what Jesus’ actions and teaching mean for us today, as followers of this Jesus. As we do so it is important also to keep in mind that Matthew’s gospel closes with a clear instruction to the Disciples, to the church that he is establishing. Recorded in Matthew Ch 28 v18-20, Jesus says “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me, therefore go and make disciples of all nations…..” This instruction to go to all nations and make new disciples, is the climax of Jesus’ instructions to his Church. Matthew closes his gospel with the same theme that he began with. Back in Chapter 1v1, Jesus’ ancestry was traced back to Abraham. It was to Abraham that God had promised “All nations on earth shall be blessed through you”
(Genesis Ch 12 v3). Here was the beginning of God’s plan to rescue his creation. As Jesus gives his final instruction to those first disciples, we see how the church is to be at the centre of this rescue plan. While Jesus himself confined his mission to Israel, the church is
to take the message to the nations. It is to announce that Jesus is God’s Messiah, God’s son, and call on people to serve him, becoming disciples themselves. And they are to become part of the Kingdom of heaven by learning to do all that Jesus himself taught.
So as we come to chapters 22 to 25, we come to learn how we ourselves are to live, as part of Jesus’ church. But we also come to learn what we need to be teaching and training others to know and do, as we also take on the responsibility of making disciples of all nations.
Of course, not all of us are evangelists, and not all of us are equipped to be teachers of others. But I believe we should all be supporting, and participating as we can, in this mission. With this in mind, you will find on the next page space to write out a group prayer list. I want to encourage us all to identify a few non-christian contacts that we can pray for. People that we can ask God to bring to know Christ as Lord and Savior. People, that, perhaps God might bring to know Christ, through our invitation to an event where the gospel is announced. People that God might even have us speak the gospel to personally.
I would also like to urge all groups to try and host, or focus on, one such event themselves this term. For the men, this might be our Mens’ Dinner (Thursday Night 5th September). Or you may choose something else that you could invite friends to, where they can meet other Christians, and hear something of the gospel of Christ. We will have a break in our teaching series in the first week of September, so that may be a good week to hold such an event yourselves, if you feel the men’s dinner would not suit your needs. (e.g. the Ladies !)
You will not have time in your group meetings most weeks to study every section of Matthew that is included in the readings for that week. I want to encourage you to have a go at reading the whole section privately before the study group meeting, then discuss the answers to the questions in the main section indicated for each week. I am sure God will encourage and inspire and challenge us as we do this together, over the term.
Kerry Nagel (June 2013)