Last week, I wrote about Matthew’s portrait of Jesus as the Promised King. Matthew, under the influence of the Holy Spirit, opens his gospel by clearly describing Jesus as both Son of Man and Son of God. After providing clear-cut evidence of Jesus’ divine DNA in chapters one and two, he shifts the focus to describe how people respond to King Jesus. Matthew makes the case that people will respond to Jesus by taking one of two roads. The first road is chosen by being either indifferent or rebellious toward the Son of God. It is paved by sin, and its destination is death and destruction. The second road, which I’ll detail in the coming days, is marked by repentance, worship, faith, and obedience. This path, called the King’s Highway, leads to joy and life.
In Matthew 2, the wise men (magi) arrived in Jerusalem to worship the King of the Jews. They were most likely astronomers from Babylon searching for the Promised King. The city of Jerusalem, including the scribes and chief priests, were troubled by their odyssey. Yet, they were not troubled to search for their own King.
The reality is that the religious leaders of Israel—the scribes and chief priests—had zero interest in finding or worshipping the Messiah (Matthew 2:3-6)! Their response equated to complete indifference.
King Herod, on the contrary, rebelling against God, tried to murder the Son of God (fulfilling Jeremiah’s prophecy). Yet he failed. Many people live in a state of self-deception thinking they can thwart God’s plan. They live like they won’t face God’s judgment. But God is God, and we are not. We don’t set the rules. He made us, and we are accountable to Him.
Sadly, the indifference of the spiritual leaders of Israel led them to do nothing to stop Herod from his murderous mission. Their indifference exposed their object of their worship was their security and standing among the rulers of Israel. They should’ve been concerned with their standing with God. Even today people reject the King Jesus, because they’re more worried about their standing with men then their standing with God.
If we’re honest, we rebel against God by building our own kingdoms. We have cultural longings. In our culture, we long to appease our Fear of Missing Out (FOMO). We want to vacation, explore new places, enjoy life to the fullest. But our annual trips around the sun are limited. Eternity awaits. Are we laying up treasures in heaven? Another American cultural longing is security. We want financial security, career security, a secure upbringing for our kids and the best life has to offer. Those aren’t bad things. I want these things as well. But good things can rapidly become idols. We begin to put our trust in our own strength, our bank account statements, and our investment portfolios instead of relying on God to give us our daily bread. We become so consumed with these longings that we rebel against God by failing to follow Him and put our trust in Him. We become so fixated on chasing security and activities that we fail to love our neighbor. How can we love our neighbor if we don’t even know their names?
At the root of our desire to build our own kingdoms is sin. Here’s John Piper’s definition of sin (in bold):
Sinning is any feeling or thought or speech or action that comes from a heart that does not treasure God over all other things. And the bottom of sin, the root of all sinning, is such a heart — a heart that prefers anything above God, a heart that does not treasure God over all other person and all other things. Sin is:
- The glory of God not honored.
- The holiness of God not reverenced.
- The greatness of God not admired.
- The power of God not praised.
- The truth of God not sought.
- The wisdom of God not esteemed.
- The beauty of God not treasured.
- The goodness of God not savored.
- The faithfulness of God not trusted.
- The promises of God not believed.
- The commandments of God not obeyed.
- The justice of God not respected.
- The wrath of God not feared.
- The grace of God not cherished.
- The presence of God not prized.
- The person of God not loved. The reality is that little, or no, remorse or indignation or outrage that God is disregarded, disbelieved, disobeyed, dishonored, and thus belittled, by billions and billions of people is because of sin. And that is the ultimate outrage of the universe.
But Matthew shows us there’s another path. Another road. The off ramp from rebellion is thru repentance, obedience, and faith. Repentance is a change of one’s heart and mind; It is truly how we maneuver off the road to destruction. Repentance is a deep, innermost, transformational desire to turn away from sin. True repentance enables us to exit the road to destruction and take the on ramp to the King’s highway. In the coming days, I’ll explain how Matthew demonstrates the King’s highway response to Jesus.