The homeless king (Matthew 8:20)

When his people are homeless, the Saviour is homeless too.

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Open Matthew 8:19-20.

Matthew tells us that people had begun to recognize Jesus’ authority (7:29; 8:9). The king walked among his people, freeing them from their oppression (8:16). He bore their weakness, their dis-ease (8:17).

He was a homeless king (8:20). Ever heard of such a thing? He chose to be homeless as he moved among his people, identifying with them. In a sense, his people were homeless too. They had lost their homeland to foreign powers long ago. When Babylon invaded, so many died trying to defend Jerusalem they couldn’t bury them all, so their dead bodies became food for the birds of the air and the beasts of the earth (Jeremiah 7:33; 19:7). The birds and the beasts had homes, while God’s people did not. Continue reading “The homeless king (Matthew 8:20)”

Jesus, the son of man (Matthew 8:20)

In calling himself “the son of man” Jesus contrasts his vocation with what’s inhumane.

Open Matthew 8:19-20.

So why did Jesus call himself the son of man more than eighty times in the New Testament? Here’s the first one:

Matthew 8:19 – 20 (my translation)
19
One of the scribes approached and said to him, “Teacher, I will follow you wherever go. 20 Jesus says to him, “The foxes have dens, and the birds of the heavens have roosts, but the son of man has nowhere he could rest his head.”

In Ezekiel, son of man meant the human servant of Lord YHWH, after Israel had fallen. In Daniel, the Ancient Ruler promised to take the kingdom from the beasts and give it to someone like a son of man. The beasts were still ruling when Jesus was born, so he received the commission given to Adam: to subdue the earth and rule over it as the representative of the divine sovereign. Jesus was to be a son of man in the face of the beasts. Continue reading “Jesus, the son of man (Matthew 8:20)”

Son of Man in Ezekiel

Why did God refer to Ezekiel as “son of man” 93 times? Is there any similarity between Jesus’ ministry and Ezekiel’s?

Open Ezekiel 2.

The Book of Ezekiel opens in devastation. Ezekiel the priest (a son of Aaron), Jehoiachin the king (a son of David) and the other exiles (sons of Israel) sit by the waters of Babylon. Everything has fallen apart. All the progress towards restoring the earth under YHWH’s rule has been lost.

Ezekiel isn’t called son of Aaron, for the holy temple is defiled and destroyed. He isn’t called son of Israel, for the nation established at Sinai no longer exists. He isn’t called son of Abraham: Abraham left Chaldea for God’s land, but the Chaldeans have taken God’s land. God addresses Ezekiel merely as son of Adam, or son of man (since the Hebrew word adam means man.) Continue reading “Son of Man in Ezekiel”

Son of Man in Enoch

Did any texts refer to a messianic figure as “the son of man” before the Gospels? There may have been.

Jesus designated himself “the son of man” more than 80 times according to the Gospels, even though this phrase was not a messianic title in Jewish literature before his time. But there may be an intriguing exception: a book known as 1 Enoch. Continue reading “Son of Man in Enoch”

Son of Man in Daniel

What does ‘son of man’ mean in Daniel 7? Does this help us understand why Jesus used ‘son of man’ to describe himself?

Open Daniel 7.

Daniel 7:13–14 (ESV)
13 “I saw in the night visions,
and behold, with the clouds of heaven there came one like a son of man,
and he came to the Ancient of Days and was presented before him.
14 And to him was given dominion and glory and a kingdom,
that all peoples, nations, and languages should serve him;
his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away,
and his kingdom one that shall not be destroyed.

Was Jesus alluding to this text when he called himself Son of Man more than 80 times? Was Jesus claiming to be the promised Messiah who would restore God’s reign?

There is a connection, but it isn’t quite that simple. If you make a messianic leap without first understanding the richness of the Old Testament texts, the story falls apart. Ask: Continue reading “Son of Man in Daniel”

Free course: Holy Spirit and You

If you had to say everything that had to be said about the Holy Spirit in six sessions, what would you focus on? Which Scriptures would you choose?

Theology must be practical. Theology tells us the Holy Spirit is a person, so how do we relate to him? What is this Person doing? How do we partner with him? What does it look like to do life with him?

Those questions drive the agenda for live sessions (not blog topics) over the next six Monday evenings: Continue reading “Free course: Holy Spirit and You”

Introducing the Son of Man

Why did Jesus call himself ‘the son of man’? Do you understand him as he understood himself?

Jesus called himself the son of man. Matthew 8:20 is the first time, but Jesus regularly describes himself this way in the Gospels: more than 80 times! Why would Jesus think of himself primarily as the descendant of humanity? Isn’t everybody? What did he mean?

The question of Jesus’ identity is among the most important we could ask. If we don’t understand Jesus the way he understood himself, what chance do we have of understanding what he said and what he did? Continue reading “Introducing the Son of Man”

The decision moment with Jesus (Matthew 8:18-22)

There’s a disconnect between the way Jesus called people to discipleship and the way we do it.

Open Matthew 8:18-22.

Jesus had great sensitivity to people. Especially hurting people. But some of the language he used for gospel invitations would make you cringe.

Like, “teach people to obey my commands” (Matthew 28:19). People don’t like being commanded; they like to make their own decisions. Surely we’d be more successful if we just asked them to invite Jesus into their hearts, for a personal makeover.

There was this scribe who came up to Jesus and said, “Teacher, I’ll follow you wherever you go” (8:19). How good is that? Scribes didn’t do that. They knew the Old Testament intimately, but they often weren’t keen on Jesus. So here’s a guy making a well-informed commitment to follow Jesus, wherever it takes him. Most pastors would be over the moon to have this guy’s response.

But Jesus pushes back. Effectively, he says, “You don’t realize what you’re committing yourself to. I don’t think you’ve got what it takes. Go away and reconsider” (compare 8:20). Ouch. Not great technique?

It gets worse. Continue reading “The decision moment with Jesus (Matthew 8:18-22)”

True believers, in the land of Oz

How are we doing with representing God’s kingdom in Australia?

A funny thing happened on the way to the kingdom. We thought big-name evangelists like Billy Graham could save the world. We thought recounting healings would convince people that God’s alive and well. Think again. Now only half the Aussie population (52%) call themselves “Christian.” Just 50 years ago, it was 9 out of 10 (88%).

What happened? Perhaps we should ask them. McCrindle Research did just that. They asked Aussies what attracted them to faith, and what turned them off. Want to know what answers they got? Continue reading “True believers, in the land of Oz”