In my series on Matthew, I have been amazed at how densely packed the text is in this Gospel. In those 28 verses – Matthew 17:14-18:14 – I could have preached quite a long series of messages. I felt this morning that I just did a ‘fly-over,’ an aerial picture of this passage in 40 minutes.
Sandwiched between the account of the Transfiguration and our Lord’s instruction regarding forgiveness and discipline, the thread that ties the seemingly random events and teaching of this passage together is Jesus’ teaching on faith. Here’s my outline:
- Faith for our Bodies – 17:14-21
- Faith for our Finances – 17:24-27
- Faith in God’s Judgment – 18:6-9
- Faith in God’s Love – 18:10-14
- Faith of a Child – 18:2-5
- Faith in the Cross – 17:22-23
For my introduction, I contrasted the teaching of the all-too popular ‘Word-Faith’ teachers with the biblical understanding of faith. Our Lord’s person and work is a fitting object for our faith. Our own conjured up power to believe is bankrupt from the get-go.
Our Scripture reading was Hebrews 11:1-16. What is striking about that passage is that none of the heroes received what they were looking for in this life – again, contrast the claims of the ‘Word-Faith’ teachers. Also – a la John Piper – Hebrews 11:6 reminds us of the important fact that the benefactor gets the praise and glory. If we hold up the size of our faith to God and say, ‘what a good boy am I,’ we are totally missing the point of faith.
I haven’t done a Sunday Sermon Summary for a while. Last week I preached on the Transfiguration from Matthew 17:1-13. Our gracious people received the message well, but I felt that I was in way over my head. How can I communicate the glory of God in such passages? Preaching is humbling business at the best of times. There are some particularly glorious passages that make me particularly aware of my need for mercy, and my need to spend more time on my knees before Sunday comes.