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Christian Discipleship in Matthew

On Wednesday I heard Dr. David Turner of Grand Rapids Theological Seminary provide an overview of discipleship in the Gospel according to Matthew. He used three brief narratives to provide a foundation of true discipleship. ..
Disciples are cross-centered, not politics-centered

In Matthew 16:13-20 we learn that Peter knows that Jesus is the Messiah. But in Matthew 16:21-28 we learn that Peter doesn’t know what type of Messiah Jesus is. He was consumed (as most were, we learn in Acts 1) with the perceived political dimension of the Messiah. Peter expected the Messiah to change local and global politics. Peter expected the Messiah to change the current world order. But, Jesus corrects Peter. The Messiah is not a political-centered Messiah but a cross-centered Messiah (Matthew 16:24). So disciples of Jesus must be cross-centered, not political-agenda-centered. This challenges “right wing” Christians that believe Christianity is all about establishing political structures that will end abortion and homosexuality. This challenges “left wing” Christians that believe Christianity is all about establishing political structures that will save the environment and eliminate poverty. ALL of these things are important, but the cross is primary! Our hope is not in politics, but in the cross. It is not politics that creates a new world order, but redemption found in the cross which leads to a new heaven and a new earth. This should challenge some of our fundamentalist and emerging friends.

Disciples are service-centered, not power-centered

The request made by the Zebedee family in Matthew 20:20-21 is a request for power. Although the request isn’t completely out of line (God’s people will reign someday), Turner believes this is an instance of over-realized eschatology. They wanted to reign now. This is related to the political-centered understanding of the Messiah. But, again, Jesus corrects the Zebedee boys. Disciples of Jesus are not power-centered, but are service-centered (Matthew 20:26-28).

Disciples are humble, not self-exalting

Jesus didn’t completely dismiss the Pharisees. He believed they played an important role in God’s program by sitting “on Moses’ seat” and often teaching correct doctrine (Matthew 23:1-3). The problem was the Pharisees didn’t practice what they preached (Matthew 23:3ff). The Pharisees wanted to use their position to obtain honorific titles: teacher, rabbi, father (Matthew 23:5-10). But not so with Jesus’ disciples. Jesus’ disciples are to characterized by humility. I think this presents a significant challenge to pastors: do you wish you were the “big” ministry in town? Do you covet the popularity of Rick Warren and John Piper? Are you willing to change your current ministry simply to move on to something bigger and “better”? If so, read Matthew 23:1-12 again and reconsider what it means to be a follower of Jesus Christ.

  1. October 12, 2007 at 2:50 pm

    Your post is very insightful.
    Thank you for sharing it.
    God’s peace to you.

  2. Anon
    October 8, 2010 at 9:19 am

    Your first sentence is contradicting.

  3. nyasha maposa
    March 17, 2014 at 3:36 am

    well l love the gospel

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