Genesis 28-43 and Matthew 8-11:15
Genesis 1-11 records primeval history with the original creation and God’s re-creative work during and after the flood. Chapters 12-50 describe patriarchal history with Abraham at the center. In and through Abraham and his descendants God will remake the world. God’s covenant with Abraham is progressively expanded in chapters 12, 15, and 17. It’s for this reason that Jesus is specifically highlighted by the NT writers as the son of Abraham (Matt. 1:1) and that we, as those who have been united with Christ, as Abraham’s offspring too.
Matthew reveals the good news (gospel) of Jesus by toggling back and forth between narratives and discourses. Five discourses stand out and are central to his presentation of Jesus: 1)5-7; 2)10; 3)13; 4)18; 5) 24-55. In the first Jesus recapitulates Israel’s history—he crosses through the water, goes into the wilderness and then in 5-7 assumes the posture of a new Moses on a new mount and gives his articulation of the laws in his kingdom. In chapter 10 we read of the second discourse. This is a missionary discourse. Here Jesus calls to himself a new Israel, a group of 12 to represent him and then he sends them out. Through these 12, the new Israel, Jesus is going to do what Israel failed to do.
We invite people to come into a new kingdom with a different set of affections and with an abundance of joys.
At the heart of the readings this week in a very pronounced way is God’s missionary work through the people that he calls to himself. Through Abraham and his family God will remake the world. Through this family the good news of salvation will come. Likewise, Jesus is bringing the good news of God and he will do so through the new family he is organizing.
This task continues in the church today. This continues to be our vocation as a congregation. Like the first 12 we going into foreign villages and announce that the kingdom of God has come. We invite people to a new way of being. We invite people to come into a new kingdom with a different set of affections and with an abundance of joys.
Sometimes we think of missionary activity as restricted to foreign fields where people speak a language different from us. Missionary activity in foreign contexts and fields is important. But we must always remember we are missionaries too. I am amazed when I hear of how little interaction many Christians have with those outside the church. I am amazed how some people have never had a non-Christian over or have never been over to an unbeliever’s home. And, as I have observed, it seems that the longer one is a Christian the less likely there is to be contact with those outside of the community. And at one level this makes sense–and from a sociological perspective may even be regarded as natural. At another level this is good. The more one’s life centers around the church the outside culture gets marginalized. With this in mind, though, we must be aware of this and take the necessary precautions to insure that our life has a proper balance.
You would be amazed at how many people there are around you who are hurting, who are lonely, and who will jump at the chance to spend time with someone like you. As I write this I am awaiting the arrival of an atheist family. I invited them to dinner on a whim and they took me up on it. Who knows what might be talked about over dinner? ~ Pastor Tallman
Next Week’s reading: Genesis 44-Ex. 10; Matthew 11.16-14.21