Chapter OneDiscipleship: Following
the Master's Footsteps
Matthew presents Jesus Christ as the long-awaited Messiah
("Anointed One") of Israel. Writing to a Jewish audience,
Matthew draws heavily on Old Testament prophecies to convince
his readers that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God.
But you needn't be Jewish to benefit from reading Matthew's
gospel. This tax-collector-turned-disciple presents some distinct
impressions about Jesus of Nazareth. He was a worker of miracles,
a preacher of parables, a lover of people. Everywhere He went, He
taught people what right living was all about, modeling His teaching
with His own life.
Jesus chose a twelve-member team of traveling
companions-called disciples-who followed
Him everywhere and learned much from
Him. Their lives changed dramatically as they
came in contact with the life-changing Savior. But
discipleship is just as important for your own personal
life. After all, you as a follower of Jesus
Christ are also His disciple. Such an assignment
must not be taken lightly. Jesus often spoke of
the high price of being His disciple-alienation from family, self-denial,
loss of earthly possessions, physical abuse, even martyrdom!
Jesus knew that being His disciple would demand nothing short
of a transformed life. Furthermore, before His departure from this
earth, Jesus commanded His followers to "make disciples of all
nations" (Matthew 28:19). Disciple-making, in other words, is a continuing
responsibility; the Great Commission has been entrusted to
all those who confess Christ as their Savior.
This should be an exciting month in God's Word-a month of
change, of growth, of becoming more like Jesus. It will be a month
to help you develop a heart for God.
"And they will call him Immanuel"-which means,
"God with us" (Matthew 1:23).
What does a greeting have in common with a
Simply this: Good-bye is short for "God be with
you." And that's who is introduced in the first chapter
of Matthew-Immanuel, whose name means "God
with us." For Jesus Christ is the God-man, the long-awaited
Centuries earlier, God had promised through the
prophets to come and dwell among men. John Calvin
describes how Jesus fulfilled that promise.
WALK WITH JOHN CALVIN "Scripture often
speaks in terms of God being with us when His help
and favor are by us, and when He reaches out in His
power to protect us.
"In Christ the presence of God was tangibly displayed
to the people, no longer in shadows. He would
certainly be no true Mediator if there were not in Him
an undivided bond of each nature, human and divine,
to tie people to God.
"Which again brings home to us that Christ was
God revealed in the flesh, and it is right that He puts
on the title 'Immanuel.' So this name must make us
think first of the divine majesty of Christ, to bring us to
reverence it, as is due to the one and everlasting God.
"As often as we see God and man in the one person
of Christ, we may be certain that we possess God,
if by faith we are joined to God."
WALK CLOSER TO GOD Today you begin reading
the remarkable account of how the Son from heaven
came to live as a man on earth, and His every word,
every work, every step, is worthy of note.
Think of it! Jesus began His earthly life as a baby,
yet He existed in the beginning with God. At birth, He
was laid in a manger, yet He created the tree it was
Jesus Christ is God's "good-bye" gift to you, that
you might greet each new day with the words, "Hello,
Have you done that yet today?
On coming to the house, they saw the child with his
mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped
him (Matthew 2:11).
Parts of the Christmas story are anything but idyllic.
For example: the cold night, the stable full of
livestock, the rough feeding trough as a crib. But parts
of that dramatic occasion can scarcely be exaggerated.
For instance, the angelic visitors and the wise men
who came to worship the infant King.
John Chrysostom will help you appreciate the mystery
and majesty of that first Christmas.
WALK WITH JOHN CHRYSOSTOM "Let us follow
the Magi; let us separate ourselves from our worldly
desires that we may see Christ, since they too-had
they not been far from their own country-would
have missed seeing Him. Let us depart from the things
"Let us rise up and run to the house of the young
Child; though kings, though nations, though tyrants
interrupt our path, let not our desire pass away.
"The Magi, too, would not have escaped their danger
from the king unless they had seen the young
Child. Before seeing Him, fears and dangers and troubles
pressed upon them from every side; but after the
adoration, there is calm security.
"Do thou therefore likewise leave the pomp of this
world, and hasten to Bethlehem, where is the house of
the spiritual Bread.
"Only let your coming be to honor and adore, not
to spurn the Son of God. Do this with trembling and
WALK CLOSER TO GOD The greatest gift given on
that first Christmas came from God Himself-the priceless
treasure of His Son. And the wonder of that gift is
still reason enough for you to bow in adoring worship
today and sing these familiar lines:
O come, let us adore Him, O come, let us adore Him, O come, let us adore Him, Christ, the Lord.
"This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well
pleased" (Matthew 3:17).
In Matthew 3, a man named John bursts upon the
scene, looking and sounding like Elijah the
prophet. According to the Old Testament, that was precisely
as it should have been.
Another Man named Jesus came to be baptized by
John. Coincidence? Or the long-awaited Messiah
(Anointed One)? The audible voice of God supplied
Matthew Henry, prolific 18th-century Bible commentator,
reveled in the Christian's privileges in Christ.
If you are "in Him," you enjoy a rich heritage in God's
family, as Mr. Henry explains.
WALK WITH MATTHEW HENRY "Jesus is God's
'beloved Son,' not only 'with whom' but 'in whom'
God is well pleased. God is pleased with all who are
in Christ and are united to Him by faith. Hitherto God
had been displeased with the children of men; but
now His anger is turned away, and He has made us
'accepted in the Beloved.' Outside of Christ, God is a
consuming Fire, but in Christ He is a reconciling
"This is the sum of the whole gospel: God has
declared by a voice from heaven that Jesus Christ is
His beloved Son. With this we must by faith cheerfully
concur and say that He is our beloved Savior, in whom
we are well pleased."
WALK CLOSER TO GOD What is your heavenly
heritage? Forgiveness. Acceptance. Salvation. Indescribable
wealth in Jesus Christ, all because you are "born
again" into God's family, giving you the right to call
God your Father. That's your legacy. You are rich in
Christ . but do you live as a King's heir?
You are forgiven, but do you nurture feelings of
guilt? You are accepted, but do you try to "repay" God
for what He has given as a free gift?
It's hard to live like a pauper when you know
you're as rich as a king. And focusing on your heritage
in the family of God can be exciting.
Don't be surprised if something changes when you
do. And don't be content until it does.
Jesus answered, "It is written: 'Man does not live on
bread alone, but on every word that comes from the
mouth of God'" (Matthew 4:4).
Relying solely on the word of God
Oh, for a word that, when spoken, would automatically
. wash the dishes
. write the report
. heal the pain
. sweep away the problem.
In the desert, Satan tempted Jesus to "say the word"
and so satisfy His hunger. But Jesus chose instead to
speak another word, a word more powerful than any
magic formula-the Word of God.
Charles Spurgeon describes the scene and its implications
for the modern-day Christian.
WALK WITH CHARLES SPURGEON "Our Lord
was led into the wilderness, where the Devil adapted
the temptation to the circumstances: He tempted a
hungry man with bread.
"He put it very cunningly. One single word, and the
hard stone of the desert would be bread. But out
flashed the sword of the Spirit, the Word of God. Our
Lord will fight with no other weapon.
"He could have spoken new revelations, but He
chose to say, 'It is written .' There is power in the
Word of God which even the Devil cannot deny.
"Our life and sustenance are not dependent upon
the visible. We live 'not by bread alone,' though it is
the usual means of support. The Word of the Lord
which made the heavens can assuredly support all it
"Jesus would not distrust the providence of God,
but would wait His Father's time for feeding Him. He
would by no means be driven to an act of unbelief
WALK CLOSER TO GOD "I have hidden your
word in my heart that I might not sin against you"
Oh, for a word which, when spoken, would cause
Satan to flee.
Such a word exists! Three times Jesus employed it,
declaring, "It is written ." You dare not confront your
wily Enemy without it.