If you would have asked me last month, what is the theme of the Gospel of Matthew? I would have told you it is a gospel dedicated to showing Jesus to be the true King/Messiah of God’s people. And though I still think that is true, after studying for this week’s sermon, a second theme has become glaringly obvious. It is the theme of Self Denial/Sacrifice. Just look at this survey of verses from Matthew’s gospel:
4:4 “‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’”
4:9-10 And he said to him, “All these I will give you, if you will fall down and worship me.” Then Jesus said to him, “Be gone, Satan! For it is written, “‘You shall worship the Lord your God and him only shall you serve.’”
5:3 Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
6:19-21 19 “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
8:19-22 And a scribe came up and said to him, “Teacher, I will follow you wherever you go.” 20 And Jesus said to him, “Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.” Another of the disciples said to him, “Lord, let me first go and bury my father.” And Jesus said to him, “Follow me, and leave the dead to bury their own dead.”
10:7-10 And proclaim as you go, saying, ‘The kingdom of heaven is at hand.’ Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse lepers, cast out demons. You received without paying; give without pay. Acquire no gold or silver or copper for your belts, no bag for your journey, or two tunics or sandals or a staff, for the laborer deserves his food.
10:38 And whoever does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me.
16:23 But he 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.”
16:24-25 Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.”
19:21Jesus said to him, “If you would be perfect, go, sell what you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.”
19:27 Then Peter said in reply, “See, we have left everything and followed you. What then will we have?”
19:29-30 And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or lands, for my name’s sake, will receive a hundredfold and will inherit eternal life. But many who are first will be last, and the last first.
20:26 It shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant.
Matthew is clear, to follow Jesus means to be God-Dependent and to give your life away. How could Jesus make such radical demands? Because it is exactly what He did for you and me.
In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage;rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death—even death on a cross! (Philippians 2:5-8)