- Day 1. Matthew 1-4
- Day 2. Matthew 5-7
- Day 3. Matthew 8-10
- Day 4. Matthew 11-13
- Day 5. Matthew 14-16
- Day 6. Matthew 17-19
- Day 7. Matthew 20-22
Welcome to the start of our 2019-2020 Summer NT Reading Program. We first launched this initiative in 2018 and it was a great success! It encouraged people to engage in God’s Word deeply and it enabled us as a ministry (and church) to start the year strong by being saturated in Holy Scripture.
The next 90 days is going to be exciting, and we really encourage you to cultivate the habit of crafting time out each day to read the passages, journal your thoughts and reflections, and pray. Isaiah 55:11 is a tangible reminder that God’s Word will always accomplish what it sets out to do, and so we’re expectant that God will mould, sanctify, encourage, rebuke, and challenge us all as we sit under His Word. But in addition to this, we’ll be adding on a weekly devotion blog post to accompany our reading of the New Testament. Each of these posts will be written based on a portion or chapter of the coming weeks reading, and our hope is that this will enable you to reflect even more deeply as you soak yourself in the pages of Scripture. There is nothing like starting every year with deep study of the Bible, and we hope that these supplementary devotions will be helpful to you.
Who is Jesus? There is possibly no greater question in human history than ‘who is Jesus’. Our answer to that question shapes our understanding of humanity and destiny, which is why it is of little surprise that people who seek to faithfully preach Christ place Him at the centre of everything, and those who seek to discredit the Christian message seek to minimise or misconstrue the identity of Christ.
So who is Jesus? A good prophet who provides direction? A good teacher who provides instruction? A good physician who provides health care? A good friend who provides company? Well in the opening chapters of Matthew’s Gospel, we observe that Jesus Christ is all of these things but more. He is, in a sense a prophet because he has come to proclaim ‘Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near’ (Matthew 4:17). He is, in a sense a good teacher and good physician because he ‘went throughout Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the good news of the Kingdom, and healing every disease and sickness among the people (Matthew 4:23). He is also, in a sense, a good friend who reaches out to the marginalised like the leper (Matthew 8:1-4), the sick woman (Matthew 9:20-22) – he even hangs out with sinners (Matthew 9:9-13).
But more than all of this, Matthew paints an undeniable picture that Jesus is actually the Christ! He is the long-awaited Messiah who has come to seek and save the lost (Matthew 18:11), who has come to reconcile humanity to the Father (2 Corinthians 5:18), and who has come to command his people to give up all things in order to follow Him and give glory to God (Matthew 16:25).
So who is this Jesus? If Matthew’s Gospel is right (and of course it is), then this Jesus is not one who can easily be dismissed. His claims are too great and what He offers is too grand. One cannot say ‘Jesus is great but…’. We hear that often, don’t we? It is not uncommon in our conversations about the Gospel to hear friends say ‘yeah, your Jesus is great but…I don’t need him/he seems irrelevant/it all seems inconsequential’. If we take God at His Word in Holy Scripture, then the response really should be ‘Jesus is great so…’. That is how we are to respond. ‘Jesus is great so…I need to count all things as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord/I’m called to pick up my cross and follow him/I’m saved, redeemed, and loved/My life is filled with purpose, meaning, and joy’.
The identity of Christ is not inconsequential. In fact, as mentioned above, there is possibly no greater question than ‘who is Jesus’. So as we open up the first few chapters of the Gospel according to Matthew, ask yourself throughout your reading ‘if Jesus really who He says He is, then how does this shape my life?’
- Who is Jesus?
- What has He done for humanity?
- How does this shape the way I view myself?
- What does He expect of his disciples?
- What are some of these expectations that surprised me, and which of these do I find most challenging to obey and submit to?
Our heavenly Father, your Holy Word testifies that Jesus is the Christ. There is possibly no greater statement than this, for it is because He is the Christ that we are saved, justified, sanctified, purified, and glorified. If Jesus was a mere man, we would be doomed and we would be left with nothing but despair. Yet it is precisely because Jesus is the Christ, the Saviour and Redeemer of the world, that we have hope, life, and meaning. We give you thanks for this gift of grace.