When we look at people who have pursued a real, living, vibrant relationship with God, it is important that we be inspired by them but not idolise them. I think it is easy to look at other Christians around us and wish we were more like them- wish we prayed the way they did, wish we could read the Bible in church like they did, wish we had Bible knowledge like they do, wish we were a godly wife/husband/mother/daughter-in-law like they were…. the list goes on. Now I could tell you that their life has its own struggles and they probably aren’t as godly 100% of the time but I’ll call a spade a spade: it is sin. Instead of idolising our Pastor, Bible Study Leader, Friend, we need to be following and conforming to the image of Jesus Christ (Romans 8:29). Thankfully, this is 100% the Holy Spirit’s job (Philippians 1:6). However, we are responsible for choices we make that allow us to pursue God and we do that through pursuing His Son: Jesus Christ.
In the Gospel of Matthew, we read the account of Jesus’ life as penned by the Apostle Matthew. Matthew’s gospel is written primarily for a Jewish audience and aims to proclaim that Jesus is the Messiah whom the Jews had been longing for. Throughout the book of Matthew, he shows again and again how Jesus fulfils any prophecy (or foretelling) of this Messiah throughout the Old Testament.
Matthew shows us there are a number of things Jesus Christ did that we can make a concerted effort to emulate.
- Jesus Prayed Regularly to the Father and asked that the Father’s Will be done –Matthew 14:23 tells us that Jesus withdrew to pray. Prayer is not something that comes extremely easily to me. As I love to write, I was encouraged to keep a prayer journal and this often helps me keep focused. I’ve heard of some people who have prayer ‘prompts’ such as traffic lights on the way to work, or a particular street, or whenever they see an ambulance pass they are prompted to pray. How do you foster prayer in your life?
- Jesus had a sound knowledge of the Scriptures and frequently used them- Throughout the Gospels, we frequently find Jesus referring to the Old Testament passages of Scripture to show how he fulfils them. Vaughan Roberts in his easy to read book God’s Big Picture, says, “I mentioned the prodigal son to an Oxford student recently. He looked blankly at me. The average non-Christian is almost completely ignorant of the contents of the Bible. It remains the world’s best-selling book; one and a quarter million copies are sold in the UK alone every year. But although many have a copy on their shelves, very few read it. The knowledge of Christians is often not much better. We all have our favourite passages, but much of Scripture remains uncharted territory, especially the Old Testament.” (2002, IVP, p.14). A great place to find sermons and other resources to support your study of the Bible is The Gospel Coalition. What are the areas of the Bible that remain uncharted for you?
- Jesus Withstood Temptation to Sin (Matthew 4:1-11). When Jesus was in the wilderness being tempted by Satan, He repeatedly quoted verses from the Bible to counteract the attempts of Satan. I was once told that the Bible verses we have memorised is similar to filling up a library with books for the Holy Spirit to bring to our mind. In order for our ‘libraries’ to be filling up, we need to be making memorisation of Bible verses a key aspect of our lives. I have started doing Bible memorisation with my daughter and realise so often we think it is something we do with children, yet I have found it is just as important for me too! For a good place to start, look at this Desiring God blog post.
- Jesus knew His Mission and Purpose. In Matthew 4:17, we read “From that time Jesus began to preach saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” The phrase “From that time…” shows a clear change in the narrative of Matthew. It is a significant moment that signals Jesus’ ministry has started. Jesus spent the next 3 years proclaiming that He was the Messiah the Jews had been waiting for. He taught that repentance and faith in Him is the ONLY solution to man’s sin problem and broken relationship with God (Romans 3:23). I think we often fill our lives and minds up with so many different things and pride ourselves on being busy. What if we spent time culling things that may not in themselves be sinful, but that stop us going about the Mission we are called to? That of following Christ in proclaiming the Gospel. Being a Mum of little children, I realise at the moment I am to first proclaim and teach the Gospel to them and then to my community and then to the ends of the earth. My children should not get the last of my attention, rather they are my mission field.
- Jesus met and taught in the Synagogues. (Matthew 4:23). Jesus regularly met and proclaimed the Gospel in the synagogues. When He was 12, Jesus went missing for 3 days and His parents found Him sitting among the teachers in the synagogue actively learning (Luke 2:41-52). We too should regularly meet and encourage one another all the more as the Day of the Lord draws closer (Hebrews 10:24-25). We should be excited about gathering with God’s people and actively learning from others, asking questions and listening as Jesus models.