Who is your king? While the concept of kingship is increasingly uncommon in modern day, we all submit to somebody as King over our lives. In this message on Matthew, David Platt describes Jesus’ role as the rightful King over all creation. Ultimately, we as believers are to faithfully submit to Jesus as King and work towards the advancement of His Kingdom.
- The King’s Endorsements
- The King’s Platform
- The King’s Promise
- Two Ways To Live
If you have the Word of this God, and I hope you do, let me invite you to open with me to Matthew 1. You know these four Gospels each approach this portrait of Jesus from a different perspective. Mark is writing to persecuted believers, encouraging them to persevere. Luke is writing to Theopholis, giving him a historical account of Jesus. This is followed up in the book of Acts with an account of the people who follow after Jesus. John makes very clear in John 20:31, “I am writing so that you may believe that Jesus is the Son of God.”
The Gospel of Matthew Makes it Clear that Jesus is the King who was Prophecized Throughout the Old Testament
Well, Matthew is writing to a specifically, thoroughly Jewish audience. He is writing to a people that are intimately familiar with the Old Testament. So, he is pulling from the Old Testament to make it clear that Jesus is the King that the Old Testament has been longing and hoping for. He is writing to Jewish Christians who have trusted Christ and who have come out of traditional Judaism and placed their faith in Christ Jesus as the Messiah, the Christ, and likely were facing questions, doubts, and hardship. It was not an easy decision for them to make. He is writing to other Jewish people who were, maybe, on the fence, considering trusting in Jesus as the Messiah. They might have been far away, and Matthew is making clear all throughout this book that Jesus is the one that they have been hoping for and longing for. Jesus has come on the scene and broke the silence of God that we talked about last week.
So, what I want to do is I want to give you a bird’s eye view of the Gospel of Matthew that we have started reading this last week, and I want us to see endorsements, platforms, and promises that Matthew puts before us to make it clear to us that Jesus is the King, not just over the Jewish nation in that day, but over all nations in all days and over all people in those nations.
Is Jesus the King?
This question, “Is Jesus the King?,” is an important question now. Is Jesus the One? Old Testament people longed for a royal deliverer who would bring life and security and joy and victory to God’s people. Is Jesus the One? It’s a historic question. Literally, all history revolves around this man. Our entire system of dating years is based on His life. Our entire sense of eternity is based on His death. It is an important, historic, and, ultimately, a personal question.
Let’s face it, Jesus was not exactly the King that most of the Jewish people were expecting. He was not at all what they had envisioned. If we’re really honest with ourselves, Jesus is not really the King that we would have envisioned either. Everything in Him goes against everything in us: His life, His manner, His approach, His lifestyle, His view on money and possessions and pleasures and pursuits in this world, and many other things.
So, the ultimate question is a personal question: In your life, have you acknowledged, confessed Jesus as King, and if so, what does that mean? So, what I want to do is I want us to take this bird’s eye view and look at these different facets.
The King’s Endorsements…
Let’s start with the King’s endorsements. First, let’s look at a pretty high profile endorsement from the Jewish people in King David. We have seen in the Old Testament how important lineage and family line is. So, it’s no surprise that, in a book that Matthew writes to Jewish people, that he starts with a bunch of names. I hope, though, that this list of names at the beginning of Matthew 1 has taken on whole new meaning for us after what we’ve read this year in the Old Testament. These are not just names; these are stories.
“The book of the genealogy of Jesus the Christ, the son of David…” You might make a little note there: 2 Samuel 7. In 2 Samuel 7, we see God’s covenant with David, and God’s promise to preserve the line of David. “…the son of Abraham.” You might make a little note there: Genesis 12 and 15 and 17. There, we see God’s covenant with Abraham, and God’s promise to take the descendant’s of Abraham and bring blessing to all the peoples of the earth.
Well, what Matthew does is he pulls all the way back there: Son of Abraham and the son of David. This is the one who was in the promised line, and then, he begins to give us all these names: Isaac, and Jacob, and Judah, and you keep going on, and you see Boaz, and Rahab the prostitute, and Ruth the Moabite, and Jesse, and David the unexpected warrior king.
Then, you see Solomon, and the wife of Uriah, who was Bathsheba. Remember, David had Uriah killed to cover up and adulterous relationship between David and Bathsheba. We see Rehoboam, Jehoshaphat, and Uzziah in verse 9. Uzziah was king and he died, and Isaiah saw the Lord in the year that Uzziah died. Hezekiah, who was the king calling the people to trust in God when they were surrounded by the Assyrian army. Josiah, who brought reform, and then the deportation to Babylon, leading to verse 12. Jechoniah, Shealtiel, and Zerubbabel who was the governor that we see in Haggai and Zechariah. All the way down to verse 16, “Jacob the father of Joseph the husband of Mary, of whom Jesus was born, who is called Christ.”, the Messiah. “So all the generations from Abraham to David were fourteen generations, and from David to the deportation to Babylon fourteen, and from the deportation of Babylon to the Christ fourteen generations.”
Matthew Ties Jesus’ Lineage into the Lineage of David
What Matthew’s doing very intentionally from the very beginning is tying Jesus in with the line of David, and he does this throughout the book. We don’t have time to go to all these places. You might write them down in your notes. However, write down Matthew 9:27. Matthew 9:27 is when blind men call out to Jesus, “Have mercy on us,” but they don’t say, “Have mercy on us, Jesus.” They say, “Have mercy on us, Son of David.”
Then, you’ve got Matthew 12:22-23. Jesus healed a demon-oppressed man who was blind and mute, and the way the crowds respond, they say, “Could this be the Son of David?” You get to Matthew 15:22, and a Canaanite woman says, “You are the Son of David.” You get to Matthew 20:30, and again, you see blind men saying, “Have mercy on us, Son of David!” It’s really interesting that these who are blind see what others cannot see. Then, Matthew 21:9, Jesus enters into the city of Jerusalem, and they fall on their faces, and they cry out, “Hosanna to the Son of David.” In Matthew 21:15, the children are crying out in the temple, “Hosanna, praise be to the Son of David.”
What Matthew is going to do all throughout this Gospel is he is going to continue to bring us back to the reality that Jesus is in the promised line that comes from David, the kingly line. So, that’s endorsement number one, from the Jewish people: King David.
Then, second, from all people is a group of Wise Men. Isn’t it interesting that right after the birth of the king of the people of God, the Jewish people, immediately, the scene shifts to the East, and we see this picture of Magi, who were wise men from the nations who hear the news of a king and come and bring gifts of nobility of gold, and frankincense and myrrh. These are some of the gifts that are used in royal processions. These Wise Men bypass King Herod to come and see the real King and place these gifts of nobility at His feet. These were the feet of a child.
From the Jewish people, King David; from all people, Wise Men, and from the Old Testament: prophets. We’ve quoted from them already. Do you realize that in what we’ve read in the Old Testament here, and in all that we’ve read this year, we have seen over 300 specific references to the coming of Christ in the Old Testament. Over 300 of them were fulfilled in Christ in the New Testament. I mean, this is not just coincidence. Some people have asked, “Well, is this made up? Maybe the New Testament writer just kind of twisted and fabricated the facts of the story of Jesus to try to fit with what the Old Testament was saying.” However, the reality is Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John were writing, and these books were circulating while they were alive with people who had seen Jesus, who could have easily said, “No, you’ve got that wrong and this wrong.” These are historically verifiable documents.
Well, then, some have said, “Well, is this manipulated?” It might be. Maybe Jesus strategically ordered His steps and planned the events of His life to match up with Old Testament prophecy, and that’s why we have these things. Let’s think about that for a moment. Look at the first place Matthew quotes from. He quotes from Matthew 1:22-23. When Matthew says, “All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet: ‘Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they call his name Immanuel’ (which means, God with us).” That quotation is from Isaiah 7:14.
Matthew Writes About the Prophecies Found Throughout the Old Testament
So, here’s the prophecy: A virgin would give birth. That seems a bit hard for a baby to control. You get down to Matthew 2:5, the next quotation: “They told him, ‘In Bethlehem of Judea…’” This is the Wise Men looking for the baby in Bethlehem of Judea. “…so it is written by the prophet, ‘And you, O Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; for from you shall come a ruler who will shepherd my people Israel.'”
Micah 5:2 had prophesied that Jesus would be born in Bethlehem. Can you imagine Jesus in Mary’s womb saying, “Hurry up. We’ve got to get to Bethlehem. This is where I’ve got to be born.” Keep going, and you get to Matthew 2:15, after they fled to Egypt. “They remained there until the death of Herod. This was to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet, ‘Out of Egypt I called my son.’” This is a quotation from Hosea 11:1 prophesying that Jesus’ family would go to Egypt. Anyone with kids, I’m guessing, knows that the country in which you live is determined by mom and dad, not by child.
You keep going down, and you get to Matthew 2:17-18, “Then was fulfilled what was spoken by the prophet Jeremiah: ‘A voice was heard in Ramah, weeping and loud lamentation, Rachel weeping for her children; she refused to be comforted, because they are no more.’” This is a reference to how Herod had decreed that all the male children in Bethlehem be killed, which, obviously, the boy Jesus did not directly cause, bring about, or manipulate. Ladies and gentlemen, this is not made up, and this is not manipulated. This is miraculous. All of history is pointing to this reality fulfilled in Christ.
This is not just Old Testament prophets talking about Christ, but we’ve also seen Old Testament prophets promising a New Testament prophet. The next endorsement is from John the Baptist. You get to Matthew 3:1, and it says, “In those days John the Baptist came preaching in the wilderness of Judea, ‘Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.’ For this is he who was spoken of by the prophet Isaiah when he said, ‘The voice of one crying in the wilderness: Prepare the way of the Lord; make his paths straight.’” We saw this in Malachi. If you remember, we talked about the messenger who had come and prepared the way for the Lord’s coming. John the Baptist, here, is pointing to Jesus as the King.
So, you’ve got King David, Wise Men, Old Testament prophets, and a New Testament prophet. Then, the ultimate: The divine endorsement from God the Father. At the end of Matthew 3:16, Jesus was being baptized. “When [Jesus] was baptized, immediately he went up from the water, and behold, the heavens were opened to him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and coming to rest on him; and behold, a voice from heaven said, ‘This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.’” This is the picture of the coronation of a king. The heavens opened up, and God says, “This is my beloved Son.” He is dearly loved by God. The word here is a rich, profound, intimate relationship. He is dearly loved by God, and He is fully pleasing to God. “…with whom I am well pleased.”
Are those words not just salve for our souls? Like, when you think about it after all you read in the Old Testament, time and time again, man after man , woman after woman, leader after leader, ruler after ruler, king after king, they all disobeyed God, turned against God, dishonored God, and defamed God. Then, you come to the New Testament, and heaven opens up, and God says, “I am pleased with Him.” Oh yes, this is what qualifies Jesus to be the King. You are not the king, because the Father is not pleased with you in your sinfulness and your rebellion, and I am not your king because the Father is not pleased with me in my sinfulness and my rebellion. Jesus is the King because the Father is absolutely and fully pleased with His sinlessness. He is fully pleasing to God.
History Leads up to the Gospel of Matthew and Points to Christ
So, history is leading up to Matthew, pointing us to Christ. All of these endorsements, and then, history gives endorsements as well. You think about how people have reflected on Jesus, whether it’s pagan rulers like Napoleon who said,
Everything in Christ astonishes me. His spirit overawes me; His will confounds me. Between Him and whoever else in the world, there is no possible term of comparison. He is truly a being by Himself. I search in vain through history to find the similar to Jesus Christ or anything which can approach the gospel. Neither history, nor humanity, nor the ages, nor nature offer me anything with which I am able to compare it or to explain it. Here everything is extraordinary.
Or, it might be gifted writers like Dostoevsky who said, “I believe there is nothing lovelier, deeper, more sympathetic and more perfect than the Savior. I say to myself with jealous love that not only is there no one else like Him, but there could be no one. There is in the world only one figure of absolute beauty, Christ, that infinitely lovely figure is a matter of course in infinite marvel.” This is all summed up well in that famous quote from C.S. Lewis who said,
A man who is merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He’d either be a lunatic on a level with a man who says he’s a poached egg, or else he’d be the devil of hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was and is the Son of God, or else a madman or something worse, but don’t let us come up with any patronizing nonsense about His being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to.
The King’s Platform…
Jesus is the King. See His endorsements and see His platform. How does Matthew picture Jesus? How does Jesus demonstrate that He is the King? Well, first, He loves the unlikely. After Jesus’ ministry, in His temptation, we see an incredible picture of His kingship in and of itself at the beginning of Matthew 4. However, then, you get to Matthew 4:12, and you see Jesus’ public ministry begin. Listen to what it says in Matthew 4:12:
[Now] when he heard that John had been arrested, [Jesus] withdrew into Galilee. And leaving Nazareth he went and lived in Capernaum by the sea, in the territory of Zebulun and Naphtali, so that what was spoken by the prophet Isaiah might be fulfilled: “The land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, the way of the sea, beyond the Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles – the people dwelling in darkness have seen a great light, and for those dwelling in the region and shadow of death, on them a light has dawned.” From that time Jesus began to preach, saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”
Now, think about this with me. If you were writing this story for the Jewish people, where would you expect Jesus to begin His ministry? Undoubtedly, you would expect Him to be in Jerusalem. Jerusalem was the center of Jewish history, the location of the temple, and the place where all those who were most devout in Judaism gathered.
Let me tell you a little bit about Galilee of the Gentiles. It was way north of Jerusalem, at a crossroads, kind of metropolitan area in a sense because it was on a trade route. It was a place where all kinds of different people with different religious ideas and religious philosophies gathered together. The Jewish people in this area were nominal at best. They were not the religious elite that you would find in Jerusalem; they were the religious outcasts. They were not insiders in Judaism; they were outsiders in Judaism. So, Jesus journeys there, and the reality is, to those who are despised, in darkness, and in the shadow of death, the light of Christ dawns on you! He went to the least likely, not the most likely; He went to the least expected, not the most expected; He went to the unlovable and irreligious.
You think about it. You turn over in Matthew 9:9, and what you’ll find is Jesus in Galilee coming up to a tax booth, and He meets a man named Matthew. He calls Matthew, the tax collector, to follow, and then, He goes and has a meal with Matthew’s tax collector friends and other sinners, and the religious leaders are saying, “What are you doing eating with them?” Jesus says to them, “I desire mercy, not sacrifice, and I did not come to call the righteous; I came to call the sinner.”
Matthew Reminds Us that Nobody is Outside the Bounds of Love of Jesus Christ
This is really good news when you realize what this means; when you realize that, no matter what your life or lifestyle looks like, and no matter what your past or present looks like, the reality is that you are not outside of the bounds of the love of Jesus the Christ. He loves the least expected and the least likely. He loves the unlikely.
He conquers the uncontrollable. So, here’s what happens: You have the beginning of Jesus’ ministry here in Matthew 4. We’re going to come back to verse 18 in a little while, but in this introduction of His ministry, what you have is an interplay, a back and forth, between the teachings and words of Jesus, and the miracles and works that Jesus is performing. We see His word and works. So, you have Matthew 5, 6, and 7 teaching His words, which we’re going to look at next week.
So, go past those with me to Matthew 8, to the works of Jesus. When you look at His miracles, signs and wonders, you begin to see the portrait of a King who conquers the uncontrollable. In verse 8, He cleanses a leper. This was a leper who, because of his disease, would not even be able to be close to anybody else, and Jesus heals him. You see the same thing right after this with a Centurion’s servant, and what we begin to see is this King has authority over disease. He speaks to disease, and disease is gone.
Then, you get to Matthew 8:16, after Jesus has healed Peter’s mother-in-law, and it says, “That evening they brought to him many who were oppressed by demons, and he cast out the spirits with a word and healed all who were sick. This was to fulfill what was spoken by the prophet Isaiah: ‘He took our illnesses and bore our diseases.’” He not only has authority over disease, He has authority over demons. He speaks and demons run; evil spirits flee.
Then, later on in this chapter, in Matthew 8:23-27, you see Jesus in the middle of a storm taking a nap on a boat. The disciples come to Him and shake Him and say, “What are you doing? Wake up! Don’t you care we’re about to die?” So, Jesus yawns, and He wipes the sleep out of His eyes, and He stretches and has a conversation with the wind and the sea, and they obey Him and become still. Jesus has authority over disease, and demons, and nature. “Who is this man?”, they say. “Even the winds and the sea obey Him.”
Then, you keep going into Matthew 9, and a paralytic is brought to Him, but instead of healing him at first, what does Jesus say in Matthew 9:2? He says, “Take heart, my son; your sins are forgiven.” Jesus has authority over sin. This is what C.S. Lewis said astounded him and brought him to an understanding of Jesus’ deity. The claim to have authority over sin and authority over suffering is later on in this story. Jesus tells the paralytic to rise, get up, pick up his bed and go home, and the paralytic begins to walk. He has authority over disease and demons, nature, sin, and suffering.
Then, in the middle of Matthew 9, you see a young girl who has died, and Jesus comes on the scene. You know Jesus didn’t do too well at funerals. Whenever He’d show up for a funeral, and He’d start to speak, the funeral would end because the person would come to life. So, He comes, and He speaks to this girl, and He takes her hand, and she rises from the dead at His voice. He has authority over death.
Matthew Shows Us that Jesus Conquers with Compassion
These two chapters are loaded with good stuff, It’s like you’re watching a soccer game. It’s like it’s goal after goal after goal after goal. It’s just over and over again, we are seeing Jesus’ authority in all these ways, and then you come to the conclusion of Matthew 9, and it says in Matthew 9:35, “Jesus went throughout all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom and healing every disease and every affliction. When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.” Jesus conquers the uncontrollable. Don’t miss it though: He conquers with compassion.
He loves the unlikely. He conquers the uncontrollable, and He serves the undeserving. After this, Jesus begins to send His disciples out into a world that is not too happy about what Jesus is saying and doing. He says, “You’re going to be persecuted.” Then, you get over to Matthew 12. Look at Matthew 12:13-14. Basically, Jesus is healing a man with a withered hand here. He said to the man in Matthew 12:13, “‘Stretch out your hand.’ And the man stretched it out, and it was restored, healthy like the other.” Listen to verse 14. “But the Pharisees went out and conspired against him, how to destroy him.” We begin to see resistance.
Yet this King, despite threats, He continues to heal. You get to Matthew 13:57, and He is rejected in His own hometown, but despite rejection, He continues to teach. All of this leading to a day in Matthew 26 when Jesus’ friend will betray Him to the authorities and hand Him over to be killed. Yet, despite betrayal, this King continues to love. He loves the unlikely. He conquers the uncontrollable, and He serves the undeserving.
The King’s Promise…
This is the platform that we see Jesus on leading to the King’s promise. Now, this is where it gets really interesting. Go with me to Matthew 16. We’re progressing on in this book. We come to Matthew 16:21. After Jesus has a conversation with His disciples, and specifically Peter, about who He is and how He will build His church, listen to what He promises in Matthew 16:21: “From that time Jesus began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised.”
Now, I want you to pause and think about this with me for a moment. Is this what you expect to hear from a king’s mouth? “I’m going to go and suffer and be killed by the religious leaders of the day.” That’s not an especially strong campaign promise. So Peter, the campaign manager, steps in in verse 22 and takes Him aside and rebukes Him saying, “‘Far be it from you, Lord! This shall never happen to you.’ But [Jesus] turned and said to Peter, ‘Get behind me, Satan! You are a hindrance to me. For you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of man.’”
You look at the next chapter, Matthew 17:22, and you might underline it for a second time. The Bible says in Matthew 17:22, “As they were gathering in Galilee, Jesus said to them, ‘The Son of Man is about to be delivered into the hands of men, and they will kill him, and he will be raised on the third day. And they were greatly distressed.’” Here, He makes the same promise.
Then, you get over to Matthew 20:17, and a third time Matthew reminds us what Jesus is saying to His disciples over and over. Matthew 20:17, “As Jesus was going up to Jerusalem, he took the twelve disciples aside, and on the way he said to them, ‘See, we are going up to Jerusalem. And the Son of Man will be delivered over to the chief priests and scribes, and they will condemn him to death and deliver him over to the Gentiles to be mocked and flogged and crucified, and he will be raised on the third day.’” Do you hear this campaign promise? Jesus is saying that His life will be taken. It will be taken in the most brutal, barbaric way imaginable. He will be mocked, flogged, and crucified, nailed to a cross. Crucifixion is what even the most vile, Roman criminal would not be forced to endure.
Jesus is promising that He is going to endure it. This begs the question, “Is this how a king rules? Is this how a king reigns, by suffering and being killed in humiliation?” This is not what we would expect. This is not what they expected. This is why they were distressed. Jesus is promising that His life will be taken, but, hang on here, did you notice what else He said? His life will be taken, and His death will be temporary. Oh, now here’s where this campaign promise gets really good. He will be “mocked and flogged and crucified, and he will be raised on the third day.” All three times He has said He will be raised on the third day. He is the only King able to defeat death.
This is huge. We realize this, right? If Jesus comes and lives and dies but does not rise from the grave, and the resurrection is not true, then Christianity totally falls apart, and the kingship of Christ totally falls apart. It’s what Paul says in 1 Corinthians 15, “If the resurrection is not true, we’re to be pitied among men.” Feel sorry for Christians if the resurrection is not true.
The Resurrection is Everything
Everything hinges upon the resurrection. The kingship of Christ hinges on this, and it makes sense. Think about it. I spent a pretty good amount of time in school. Maybe a little bit too much time in school, but I learned pretty early that when it was time to study for an upcoming exam, you don’t study with the guy who always fails the exam. When that guy asks, “Hey, do you want to study?” You say, “No.” However, you spot the guy who always passes the exam with flying colors, who always messes up the curve for the rest of the class, and you go to him and say, “Hey, would you like to study?” You go with the guy who is going to help you pass the exam, right?
So, the way I look at it, when it comes to the ultimate test of death, the Buddha said some interesting things and taught some interesting things, but when it came to the test of death, he failed miserably. Confucius had some provoking thoughts, but when it came to the test of death, he also failed. Muhammad, plainly put, when it came to the test of death, he failed. He died, and he is still dead. On the other hand, Jesus came to the test of death, and He passed with flying colors. He conquered that exam.
So, the way I look at it, knowing that I am going to one day face the test of death, I’m not going to be hanging out with the guys who failed. I want to line up with the guy who passed that test with flying colors. He not only just passed it, but He is the guy who wrote the test, and the guy who’s going to walk with me through the middle of the test and make sure I pass with flying colors. This King is the only King able to defeat death, and as a result, He is the only King able to give life. It’s just smart to stick with Him. He is the King. He’s conquered death. His death was temporary so that all who believe in Him can know that, even when you die, you will live, so that every man or woman in this world, if you have trusted in Christ for your salvation, whenever you have that thought in the back of your mind that comes to the pit of your stomach, that feeling when you think about your death, and you begin to have a tinge of fear in you, fear no more, because the One whom you have placed your faith in has conquered death, and even when you die, you live. You live, so you have nothing to fear.
That’s a good promise. His life will be taken, His death will be temporary, and in the end, His victory will be timeless. Because once you conquer death, Romans 6 says, you cannot die again. Death no longer has mastery over you. “The death he died, he died to sin once for all, and the life he lives he lives to God.” The reality is, once you’ve conquered death, you are alive. Period. You are alive forever.
Go over to Matthew 24 with me. Jesus is looking past, even His death and His resurrection, and He says in Matthew 24:29,
Immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, and the stars will fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken. Then will appear in heaven the sign of the Son of Man, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. And he will send out his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.
Ladies and gentlemen, this King’s campaign is not over, because this King is coming back. One day, with the trumpet call from heaven, He will come back and gather His people for Himself to reign with Him in all of eternity. This is the picture that Matthew paints of Jesus the King. So, with endorsements, we have King David, Wise Men, prophets, Old Testament and New Testament alike, and the Father on high. With Jesus, we have a King who loves the unlikely, conquers the uncontrollable and serves the undeserving, whose life would be taken, whose death would be temporary, and whose victory is timeless.
Two Ways To Live…
So, with this portrait of King Jesus, there are only two potential responses. There are only two ways to live. Number one, we can reject Jesus as King. You can choose to face sin, life, judgment, and death on your own. Whether this is a route of self-indulgence, or maybe even a route of self-righteousness, you can choose to spurn Jesus as King and reject Him as King. That’s one option, and it’s an option that will lead you to face sin, judgment, and death alone.
The second option is to follow Jesus as King. Now, this is where I want you to turn back with me to Matthew 4:18, and before you think in your mind, “Okay, well I’m going with option number two. Option number one just doesn’t sound very good, so by default, we’ll go with option number two.” Before you go there, I want us to realize what option number two involves, because I think we might miss it if we’re not careful. Matthew 4:18:
While walking by the Sea of Galilee, [Jesus] saw two brothers, Simon (who is called Peter) and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea, for they were fishermen. And [Jesus] said to them, “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.” Immediately they left their nets and followed him. And going on from there he saw two other brothers, James the son of Zebedee and John his brother, in the boat with Zebedee their father, mending their nets, and he called them. Immediately they left the boat and their father and followed him.
Follow me here. If Jesus is the King that Matthew claims He is, then it is not an option to pray a prayer to Him and then live your life however you want. If Jesus is the King that Matthew shows us, then it is not possible to claim His name and walk in routine, casual, nonchalant Christianity. If Jesus is the King of the universe around whom all of history revolves, then clearly, it is not possible to follow Him and your life or my life not look drastically different than everyone and everything else in this world.
Following Jesus as King involves radical abandonment for His glory. It involves abandonment of your life. Do you see this? These are profound verses in verse 20 and 22, “Immediately they left their nets and followed him…Immediately they left the boat and their father and followed him.” Do we realize what’s happening here? What these guys are showing us? To follow Jesus as King means we surrender our entire lives. We surrender our comfort and our careers. They were leaving behind all that was familiar to them, all that was natural to them, and all that was comfortable for them. They’re leaving behind their nets, which were their careers.
That’s not to say that every person needs to quit their jobs if they are going to follow Jesus, but it does means that Jesus determines their careers or my career, and our careers are His to spend, not for us to have more and more stuff in this world, and get more and more pursuits in this world, and plaudits from this world. No, our careers are intended to be spent by Him as platforms for the advancement of His kingdom to the ends of the earth. I mean, we don’t just have jobs to live out a dream here. No, we have jobs for the advancement of a kingdom.
Matthew Calls Us to Surrender Our Riches and Follow Jesus
We surrender our comfort and our careers, our possessions and our position. They left their nets and their boats behind. It is not possible to follow Jesus and love stuff. It’s impossible to follow Jesus as King and to spend your lives for the pursuit of more things. We surrender our position, and we also surrender our families and our friends. James and John left their father, just like that. We can’t gloss over that. That’s huge.
Now, again, this is not to say that in order to follow Jesus, you need to abandon your wife and children. What Jesus talks about in Matthew 10, is He says, “Anyone who loves his father, mother, wife, or children, brother or sister more than me is not worthy of me.” He is calling every single one of us to a superior affection for Christ that far outweighs anyone or anything else in this world. Are our families His to spend? Lord, use my marriage, and use my family for the spread of your name and the advancement of your kingdom.
We surrender our comfort and careers, possessions, position, family and friends, and our safety and ourselves. Where’s the security in following Jesus? In a few chapters, He’s going to tell them He’s going to send them out like sheep among wolves, and they’ll be hated by all men because of Jesus. Put your hope in this, and you’ll be like a sheep in the middle of a pack of wolves. Followers of Christ, we have surrendered our safety. What drives us is not where we can be most safe and secure in this world. If that’s the case, then we will continue to do just like we have done, which has left 6,000-plus people groups unreached with the gospel. We will ignore dangerous and difficult places in the world. We have sacrificed the right to determine the direction of our lives and to ignore places like that. Those who follow after Christ go into places like that.
You say, “Well, that’s not a responsible way to take care of yourself.” That’s why Jesus said later in Matthew 16:24, “You deny yourself to follow me.” You don’t promote yourself or advance yourself. You slay yourself; you crucify yourself. You are dead to self. Do we really know what it means to follow Jesus as King? The danger in our lives will increase in proportion to the depth of our relationship with this King. Do we really want to follow Him? We surrender our entire lives to follow Him as King. We spend our entire lives for one purpose: For the honor of our King. It’s just radical, total abandonment for His glory.
We are dependent on God’s Grace.
Now, don’t miss it. In the process, it’s radical dependence on His grace. Don’t miss it. Jesus is extending the invitation here, “Follow me,” which was so different. It was common in that day for you to attach yourself to a religious teacher. Often times, to advance yourself, you go and seek out a teacher to study under. Well, here we see Jesus going and seeking out these guys. He takes the initiative to choose us. This is what we’ve seen all throughout Scripture, isn’t it? God chose Noah. God chose Abraham. It wasn’t that Abraham was some stellar person on his own. No, God chose him and chose to bless him, and He chose to bless those who would come after him, Moses and David.
You get to the New Testament, and Jesus says in John 15 to His disciples, “You did not choose me. I chose you. I appointed you.” The reality is anyone who follows after this King can only follow after this King because of His gracious invitation in their hearts; otherwise, we would do what is natural for us and what was natural for them and reject Him as King. This is that point in the sermons on Matthew 4:18 to 22 and commentaries where people start talking about, “Well, here’s why Jesus chose these fishermen, because of this and that the fishermen have. Here’s why Jesus chose these particular men, because of this and that in them.” That misses the whole point.
Jesus didn’t choose these guys because they were the sharpest tools in the shed. Let’s be honest. These guys were prideful, prejudicial, arrogant, narrow-minded, rural, uneducated Galileans. Jesus did not choose them because of what they had to bring to the table. In the same way, can I remind us that Jesus did not choose any of us because of what we bring to the table either. There’s nothing in you that would draw Jesus to you. You’re in the game because you’re hopeless.
We could keep going down that line, but you realize the point. Like, we’re not here because of what we bring to the table. 1 Corinthians 1 tells us that God has chosen to bless and use the weak to confound the wise. He’s chosen to call the things that are not. So, that’s what we are. We’re like something that’s not even there. That’s what we’ve got to bring to the table: Nothing.
Jesus calls us; He takes the initiative to choose use. He provides the power to use us. Do you hear the language? “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.” He doesn’t say, “Follow me and be fishers of men.” They can’t do what He’s calling them to do. There’s nothing that He’s going to call them to do that they can do. He’s going to have to make them into that. He’s going to have to enable them and empower them. “Well, why is it set up this way?” Well, He takes the initiative to choose us and provides the power to use us, so that He will get the glory through us. God chooses the humble and the weak and empowers them in ways that can only be explained by His grace and for His glory.
I mean, you think about these guys. You get to Acts 2. It’s Peter who stands up. I mean, Peter was the guy who never said the right thing, and he stands up and he preaches, and 3,000-plus people are saved. Like, you don’t walk away from that saying, “I always thought Peter was an incredible orator. He always knew the right things to say.” No, you walk away saying, “Peter? Only God could have done that right there.” That’s the point. Oh, God, make my life, make your lives, and make our lives together as a church a trophy of your grace, a royal demonstration of our great inadequacy and your abundant adequacy.
This is the picture. “I will make you fishers of men.” What does that mean? Following Jesus as King means radical obedience to His mission. What is His mission? His mission is fishing for men. Now, obviously, this was directed to these men who were fishermen. These men were, by profession, used to drawing in fish, casting nets, and drawing in fish to the net. They were used to going wherever they can to draw as many fish into the net. Jesus says, “I’m going to call you; I’m going to make you; I’m going to enable you; I’m going to empower you to do the same thing, but not with fish. I’m going to enable you to draw men and women everywhere into a kingdom, such that Peter, one day, you will stand up in front of a whole group of people, and my very presence inside of you will empower you to preach the good news of my temporary death and my timeless victory over sin, and when you preach that, because it’s the power of my Spirit in you, there will be men and women all around you who will be drawn into a kingdom.”
Matthew Shows the Importance of Following Christ
This is the beauty: We follow Christ, and He makes us into His people. We live to announce His kingship. That’s the point. When you know Jesus is this King and when you know He rules and He reigns over all peoples, and He has conquered sin and death and the grave, then you announce His kingdom. We have the joy of announcing to people we work with and live among around us here, and in all nations, that Jesus is the King. He’s the King. He’s King over you and King over me, and He reigns. This is evangelism. It’s proclamation of the kingship of Christ. That’s what Peter said in Acts 2. He said, “God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ. He’s made Him the Messiah. He is the King.”
That’s why, when I get on a plane tomorrow to go to Southeast Asia for the next ten days in a Muslim-dominated nation, only one message will be on my lips to every possible person: Jesus is the King. He’s the King. Turn, submit, and trust in Jesus. He’s the King. He loves the unlikely, and conquers the uncontrollable, and serves the undeserving. He’s come to die on a cross for our sins, and He’s risen in victory. Nobody else is king. Jesus is the King. We live to announce His kingship, and we die to advance His kingdom.
You think about this. These men who responded here and the men who would respond in the days to come, excluding Judas, of course, who betrayed Jesus, and out of the eleven remaining men, tradition tells us that ten of them died martyr’s deaths. John, the one who didn’t die a martyr’s death, died alone on an island in exile. This response to King Jesus cost them everything, and we would be fooling ourselves if we thought for a moment that the same possibility was not there for any one of us.
Now, here’s the deal. You give casual adherence to this King, and you coast through this life, and you don’t announce His kingship, and you ignore His mission, then, number one, there’s question about whether or not you’re actually following this King. However, the reality is, you will be a lot safer in this world than if you abandon everything for His glory and totally depend on His grace and give yourself in obedience to His mission. It will cost comfort, maybe careers, possessions, and maybe position. It will cost safety. The reality is, though, let us realize that it may cost your life or my life, but, even though we die, we live, and we are looking and longing together as we give our very lives. We are looking and longing together toward the sky for the day when the Son of Man will come on the clouds of heaven, and He will return for His people, and He will draw us together to reign with Him for all of eternity. Come, Lord Jesus. Come quickly.