Making a Difference in Our Generation
Making a Difference in Our Generation
The Gospel of Matthew
Sermon by Rick Crandall
Grayson Baptist Church - December 5, 2012
(Revised August 11, 2020)
*Tonight we begin a verse by verse study of Matthew, and John Phillips gave this background:
"The Gospel of Matthew presents Christ as King. It was written by a Jew first and foremost for the Jewish people, whose great hope was for the coming of the often promised Messiah. This Messiah would come to restore the former glories of the kingdom, elevate Israel to the head of the nations, and reign "from the river unto the ends of the earth" (Psalm 72:8).
*Such a King would restore the world to the splendors of Eden and bring blessings to all mankind. Jerusalem would be the capital of His global empire and the center of universal worship of the LORD. Many Old Testament prophecies foretell these events.
*The Jews, however, ignored the spiritual side of those prophecies. They were so captivated by the promises of a Messiah coming to reign that they forgot the promises of a Messiah coming to redeem. They wanted a militant King who would break the power of Rome and inaugurate a new world order based on Judaism, but God sent them a meek King. The Jews wanted a Sovereign, but God sent them a Savior.
*And although Matthew wrote firstly for the Jews, his Gospel is surely also for every nation, tribe, people and tongue in the world (Revelation 7:9). Matthew saw beyond Israel to the church, which was already a power in the world when he wrote. He saw the Gentiles coming into the blessings of God through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.
*Matthew’s book, which begins within the narrow limits of Jewish thought, soon opens up, for the second chapter introduces the wise men from the East who came to worship the Christ. And the book ends with the Lord’s Great Commission to take the gospel into all the world." (1)
*We see this in Matthew 28:18-20, where God's Word says:
18. Then Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, "All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth.
19. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,
20. teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.'' Amen.
*With this background in mind, let's begin by reading Matthew 1:1-17.
*In these verses God tells us about the generations from Abraham to Christ. But does this Scripture say anything about our generation? The answer is yes, because it shows us how to make a difference in our own generation.
1. THE FIRST THING TO DO IS FOCUS ON FAMILY.
*God's plan has always been to work in and through families. In vs. 1, God led Matthew to begin by saying: "The book of the generation (or genealogy) of Jesus Christ, the Son of David, the Son of Abraham." All through the first 17 verses, God's Word focuses on the Lord's family. Families matter to God, and they always have.
*Your family matters to God, and that's good, because family life is not always easy. As they used to say: "Living in a family ain't beanbag."
*Raising children ain't beanbag. There are going to be problems from generation to generation. So, Abraham had to put up with Isaac. Isaac had to put up with Jacob. And Jacob had to put up with Judah and his brethren.
*Raising children is a challenge. Proverbs 10:1 tells us that "A wise son makes a glad father, but a foolish son is the grief of his mother." And Proverbs 17:25 says, "A foolish son is a grief to his father, and bitterness to her who bore him." Some of us have been through that grief. And I certainly gave more than my fair share of grief to my own parents.
*Raising children is a challenge. Luke's Gospel tells a story from the Lord's childhood. It happened during one of the family visits to the Temple in Jerusalem. Jesus was 12 years old, and as His family returned home, they discovered that Jesus was missing. Listen to the story from Luke 2:41-50.
41. His parents went to Jerusalem every year at the Feast of the Passover.
42. And when He was twelve years old, they went up to Jerusalem according to the custom of the feast.
43. When they had finished the days, as they returned, the Boy Jesus lingered behind in Jerusalem. And Joseph and His mother did not know it;
44. but supposing Him to have been in the company, they went a day's journey, and sought Him among their relatives and acquaintances.
45. So when they did not find Him, they returned to Jerusalem, seeking Him.
46. Now so it was that after three days they found Him in the temple, sitting in the midst of the teachers, both listening to them and asking them questions.
47. And all who heard Him were astonished at His understanding and answers.
48. So when they saw Him, they were amazed; and His mother said to Him, "Son, why have You done this to us? Look, Your father and I have sought You anxiously.''
49. And He said to them, "Why is it that you sought Me? Did you not know that I must be about My Father's business?''
50. But they did not understand the statement which He spoke to them.
*I love this story because it shows us the Lord's wisdom, and it shows His determination to do our Heavenly Father's business. But I also love this story because it shows us that even if our children were perfect, they would still be a challenge to raise.
*Family life is a challenge: Coping with your mate, coping with your children, coping with your parents, and coping with the challenges of life in this fallen world, like the dozens of needs on our Prayer List.
*But God cares about our families. So He hears our prayers. He gives us strength and wisdom. He helps us to treat each other in a Christ-like way. And He gives us great guidance in His Word.
-Scriptures like Ephesians 4:31-32, where God says:
31. Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice.
32. And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God in Christ also forgave you.
-Ephesians 5:25, "Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for it,"
-Titus 2:1-6 also says:
1. But as for you, speak the things which are proper for sound doctrine:
2. that the older men be sober, reverent, temperate, sound in faith, in love, in patience;
3. the older women likewise, that they be reverent in behavior, not slanderers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things
4. that they admonish the young women to love their husbands, to love their children,
5. to be discreet, chaste, homemakers, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be blasphemed.
6. Likewise exhort the young men to be sober-minded,
*God tells us all of these things because He cares about our families. Your family matters to God. And His ultimate plan is for us to be part of His family, so we can make a difference in our generation, by focusing on family.
2. WE ALSO HAVE TO GO FORWARD IN GOD'S GRACE.
*The message of our Messiah Jesus Christ is the good news of God's grace! And church, we can clearly see God's grace at work as we explore these ancestors of Jesus Christ. Listen again to vs. 1-6, where Matthew wrote:
1. The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the Son of David, the Son of Abraham:
2. Abraham begot Isaac, Isaac begot Jacob, and Jacob begot Judah and his brothers.
3. Judah begot Perez and Zerah by Tamar, Perez begot Hezron, and Hezron begot Ram.
4. Ram begot Amminadab, Amminadab begot Nahshon, and Nahshon begot Salmon.
5. Salmon begot Boaz by Rahab, Boaz begot Obed by Ruth, Obed begot Jesse,
6. and Jesse begot David the king. David the king begot Solomon by her who had been the wife of Uriah.
 FIRST, WE CAN SEE GOD'S GRACE IN THE LIFE OF MATTHEW.
*Matthew Levi was the man God used to write this book. But Matthew was a publican or tax-collector before he began to follow the Lord. And most publicans were thieves. They were treated as traitors and hated by all the Jews.
*But Jesus Christ is our Redeemer. When He died on the cross, He took the punishment for all of our sins. And nobody can change a life like Jesus can.
*Thinking about Matthew, William Barclay said: "When Jesus called Matthew he called a man whom all men hated. Here is one of the greatest instances in the New Testament of Jesus' power to see in a man, not only what he was, but also what he could be." (2)
*The message of our Messiah is the good news of God's grace! -- We see it in the life of Matthew.
 WE ALSO SEE GOD'S GRACE IN THE MOTHERS LISTED HERE.
*Other than Mary, there are only four mothers listed. In vs. 3 we see Tamar who begot Perez and Zerah by Judah. That was a sordid story, because Judah was actually Tamar's father-in-law. Genesis 38 tells us that the Lord killed Tamar's husband, Er, because he was a wicked man in the sight of the Lord. Er's brother Onan was supposed to take Tamar as his wife to provide an heir for his dead brother. But Onan refused, and the Lord killed him too.
*Judah promised Tamar his third son as her husband when he was grown. But Judah reneged on his promise. So Tamar pretended to be a prostitute, seduced Judah, and had twin sons by her father-in-law. Why in the world would the Lord put someone like that in His lineage? -- Grace!
*Next in vs. 5 we see that "Salmon begot Boaz by Rahab." Tamar pretended to be a prostitute. Rahab was a prostitute, but in Joshua 2 she began to reverence and trust in the Lord God Almighty. That's why Rahab protected the two Jewish spies that Joshua sent to Jericho. Then God miraculously protected Rahab when the walls of Jericho fell. You see, her house was built into the top of the wall of Jericho, and that was the only portion that remained standing when the walls of Jericho came tumbling down. Rahab the harlot found God's grace, and the Lord even included her in His ancestry.
*Next in vs. 5, we see that "Boaz begot Obed by Ruth." Ruth was a good wife and daughter-in-law. But she came from the pagan Moabites who originated from incest between Lot and his daughter.
*Deuteronomy 23:3 tells us that the Lord gave this command: "An Ammonite or Moabite shall not enter the congregation of the Lord; even to the tenth generation none of his descendants shall enter the congregation of the Lord forever." But Ruth found grace in the eyes of the Lord.
*The fourth mother listed in the Lord's genealogy was Bathsheba who committed adultery with King David. She is not listed by name. Verse 6 simply says, "David the king begot Solomon by her who had been the wife of Uriah." But Bathsheba found grace in the eyes of the Lord.
*Why did God mention these women? -- Because He wants us to know the power of the cross. The Lord wants us to know that souls can be saved and lives changed forever by the grace of Almighty God!
*The Lord shows us His grace even in the names of these mothers. "Tamar" means "palm tree." That reminds us that we will find an oasis of love and life in the Lord Jesus Christ.
*As Psalm 1:1-3 says:
1. Blessed is the man Who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly, Nor stands in the path of sinners, Nor sits in the seat of the scornful;
2. But his delight is in the law of the Lord, And in His law he meditates day and night.
3. He shall be like a tree Planted by the rivers of water, That brings forth its fruit in its season, Whose leaf also shall not wither; And whatever he does shall prosper.
*"Rahab" means "wide." This reminds us that the Lord's grace is wide enough to reach anybody, and wide enough to forgive every sin of those who trust in Him.
*"Ruth" means "friendship" or "friend." And there is no greater friend than Jesus! In John 15:13, Jesus said: "Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one's life for his friends." That's what Jesus did when He died on the cross for us.
*The first part of Bathsheba's name means "daughter." And the last part comes from the root-word that means "seven." So there is the idea of an oath, because something repeated seven times was considered to be an oath. In this way Bathsheba means "Daughter of an Oath," and this reminds us of the sure promises of God.
*But seven also carried the idea of completion, fullness or satisfaction. So Bathsheba can also mean "Daughter of full satisfaction." And nobody can satisfy us like Jesus!
*That leaves us with the Lord's mother, Mary. If I had to guess, I would say that "Mary" means "Godly mother" or "Chosen by God." But the reality is that "Mary means "Rebellion" or "Their rebellion." This name reminds us of our own rebellion. It reminds us of the truth of Romans 3:23 that "all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God."
*But the message of Jesus Christ is the good news of God's grace! -- We see it in the mothers.
 AND WE SEE IT IN THE MEN.
*Jacob in vs. 2? -- He was a schemer and a deceiver. He tricked his brother Esau out of both his birthright and his blessing. So Jacob did two of the worst things he could have done to his brother Esau.
*And Judah in v. 2-3? -- He helped sell his younger brother, Joseph, into slavery. In fact, Genesis 37 tells us that it was Judah's idea.
*Then there is David. He not only committed adultery with Bathsheba, but had her faithful husband, Uriah, murdered.
*And what about the rest of the people in this list? Is there anybody on this list who is not a sinner? -- Only one: Jesus Christ! And the good news is that Jesus took the punishment for our sins and rose again from the dead. The good news of God's grace is that Jesus will save everyone who trusts in Him!
*We can make a difference in our generation, if we will go forward in God's grace.
3. WE ALSO NEED TO PURSUE OUR PURPOSE IN GOD'S PLAN.
*Verses 15-16 remind us that we ALL have a part in God's plan. Here Matthew wrote:
15. Eliud begot Eleazar, Eleazar begot Matthan, and Matthan begot Jacob.
16. And Jacob begot Joseph the husband of Mary, of whom was born Jesus who is called Christ.
*Of course Joseph did not beget our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Jesus was conceived by the Holy Spirit, and born of the Virgin Mary. As the angel Gabriel explained to Mary in Luke 1:35, "The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Highest will overshadow you; therefore, also, that Holy One who is to be born will be called the Son of God."
*But even though Joseph was not the birth father of Jesus. We know that he had a key part in God's plan. And as we look back up from vs. 16, we see that that there would have been no Joseph without Jacob, no Jacob without Matthan, no Matthan without Eleazar, no Eleazar without Eliud, and so on back through the generations.
*God had an important role for each of these men. And He has a role for us too! What will we do with our generation?
*Early in Floyd Faust's ministry, he met a man named Worral. Mr. Worral had been stricken with rheumatoid arthritis at the young age of 15. When Floyd met Mr. Worral 30 years later, he was completely immobile except for one finger. He could barely speak and was totally blind.
*But Mr. Worral had a string tied to that one finger he could move. That string was somehow hooked to a tape recorder that Mr. Worral used to write books and articles for national magazines. He lived a meaningful, happy life from his bed.
*This was possible because after their prayers for healing were not answered, Mr. Worral graciously accepted his lot and said this to God: "Well Lord -- If this is the size plot in life you've staked out for me, let's You and me together show the world what we can grow on it." (3)
*Church: We can make a difference in our generation, if we will pursue our purpose in God's plan.
4. BUT WE MUST ALSO TRUST GOD TO WORK TODAY.
*Verse 17 reminds us that God's plan unfolded over many generations: "So all the generations from Abraham to David are fourteen generations, from David until the captivity in Babylon are fourteen generations, and from the captivity in Babylon until the Christ are fourteen generations."
*Many of the people on this list are famous. And the Bible tells us how God worked in their lives. But most of these people are strangers to us. We don't know anything about them. But God does.
*And even during those years of captivity in Babylon when all seemed lost, even during the 400 years when God was silent between the Old Testament and the New Testament, God was still at work. God was at work in every generation listed here. And you can be sure that He is working in our generation too!
*G. Campbell Morgan was a very well-known pastor in the first half of the 1900's. When he was a young Christian, Dr. Morgan used to visit several elderly ladies once a week to read the Bible to them. One day he came to the end of Matthew's Gospel and read Christ's closing words in Matthew 28:20, "Lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the world."
*Morgan read those words, and then added this question: "Isn't that a wonderful promise?" One of those ladies quickly replied, "YOUNG MAN, THAT IS NOT A PROMISE. IT IS A FACT!" (4)
*That lady was right! And we can surely trust that God is at work in our world today. So what will you do with our generation?
*We can make a difference!
-If we will focus on family.
-Go forward in God's grace.
-Pursue our purpose in God's plan.
-And trust God to work today.
*Please think about what God wants you to do as we go back to the Lord in prayer.
(1) Adapted from EXPLORING THE GOSPEL OF MATTHEW by John Phillips, Kregal Publications, Grand Rapids - "Introduction"
(2) BARCLAY'S DAILY BIBLE STUDY SERIES (NT) by William Barclay, Revised Edition (C) Copyright 1975 William Barclay. - First published by the Saint Andrew Press, Edinburgh, Scotland. - The Westminster Press, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania - "The Man Whom All Men Hated" - Matthew 9:9
(3) KERUX ILLUSTRATION COLLECTION - ID Number: 15200 - SOURCE: Fredericksburg Bible Illustrator Supplements - TITLE: A Small Plot With Large Production - Testimony by Floyd Faust
(4) SermonCentral illustration contributed by Randy Aly