"Jesus's Cluster Ministry"; Studies in Matthew
November 1, 2006

C. R. Oliver

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November 1, 2006

"Jesus's Cluster Ministry"
Studies in Matthew

(It would be very helpful for you to reference the Book of Matthew as we study this newsletter)

This study is the product of the prompting of the Spirit to look into the many times during Matthew's treatise that he would use such phrases as "at the same time," or "on the same day," or terms like, "while," "then," or "now." Occasionally it would seem these words would jump off the page and beg to be given attention. The Spirit would remind me that every word was significant and that I should look into their use as signals or markers. He kept urging me to look to see if certain things were taught in groupings along with attendant activities such as healings or confrontations with the Pharisees (both seemingly occur as a matter of course). What would such a study reveal? As I outlined the entire book of Matthew, I then began studying from that research. Here is the result.

Cluster at Jordan with John:
In order for "righteousness to be fulfilled (3:13)" and prophecy to be completed (4:16), Jesus had to go to John and be baptized. In this cluster are two visits from heaven and one visit from hell. The region of the Jordan could never be the same, because heaven visited and the voice of the Father was heard over its terrain, declaring Jesus to be the Son of the Almighty. Even the ministry of John changed from this point. From Matthew 3:13 to 4:11, each spiritual anointing was met by the devil's challenge. A pattern was formed which is evident in every cluster.

First Galilean Cluster:
Matthew used the phrase: "FROM THAT TIME (4:17)." It was as if at this juncture, Jesus took over the prime position of kingdom preacher. John and Jesus preached a similar message from a different point of view. That which had been relegated to the future was proclaimed to be happening now. "Repent for the kingdom of heaven is at hand" had been John's unique message, now a greater than John took the lead.

The preaching of the "kingdom of heaven" was the central theme of Messiah. Twelve examples of "the kingdom of heaven is like…" are scattered throughout Matthew, a few in each of the clusters. Beginning with this message, Jesus gathered His first disciples. A unique scripture then appears, "NOW Jesus went about all Galilee teaching in their synagogues (4:23)." Perhaps Matthew was showing that Jesus went to the synagogues the disciples frequented or maybe he was just referring to random Galilean synagogues. I honestly don't know which. Strangely, Matthew used this same phrase a number of times, mainly after an ingathering of converts. Jesus, nonetheless, confined Himself to "their synagogues." Preaching the "gospel of the kingdom" and healing all manner of sickness and diseases was Jesus' method. It still is. One is not applicable without the other. Disease is always challenged by the kingdom.

Jesus' fame went throughout Syria; a rather strange effect from preaching in synagogues wouldn't one think? (This first witness should have been enough to bring a nation of converts; it didn't.) His message reached Decapolis (ten cities), Jerusalem, Judea and beyond Jordan. An explosion took place when Jesus took over the message of the kingdom from John. (It is the same today when one allows Him to "take over" the message.)

In this first Galilean cluster, Jesus went to the mountain to tell about the kingdom. Some seek to dilute the power of His message by calling it a "sermon (the sermon on the mount)." Alas, the connotation is too paltry. Here, He taught the "future is now." Here, he drew a line between Judaism, as practiced in the land, and His kingdom principles. (In Matthew 8:12, Jesus relegated the sons of THAT other kingdom to outer darkness.) One might call His principles "You Be's."

From 7:27:
  • You be: sons of your Father in heaven (not just children of Abraham)
  • You be: Perfect 5:48
  • You be: Givers 6:1
  • You be: Pray-ers 6:5
  • You be: Forgivers 6:14
  • You be: Fast-ers 6:16
  • You be: Faith-ers 6:30 (Don't worry, don't judge, keep holiness, people of revelation)
  • You be: Fruit-ers 7:20 (be known by them)
  • You be: rock solid in the kingdom
From the mountain, the multitude continued with Him, among them was a leper. Jesus healed him (8:1-4). He then returned to Capernaum where His house was located. There He healed a centurion's servant, and the scripture says, "NOW." He entered Simon's house and healed his mother-in-law. That "NOW" was put there to indicate these events were sequential and on the same day. Jesus stayed pretty busy!

Evening found Jesus casting out spirits with a word (8:16) and commanding His disciples to go by boat to the other side. Before Jesus could join them, He was accosted by two men of no immediacy: a scribe and another from the multitudes. Jesus left them and joined His disciples where He rebuked the wind and waves. They headed to the place of the Gergesenes (across the lake from Capernaum) where two demon possessed men were healed and the town issued a request for His departure; there is a pattern established in this. I would say that Jesus had a full day of activities.

Returning to Capernaum (9:1) with the intention of going home, He healed a paralytic, adding, "thy sins be forgiven thee," which raked the Scribes.

A time break occurred which Matthew noted: "THEN AS JESUS PASSED ON FROM THERE (9:9)" (showing continuation). Matthew accounted for his call to follow Jesus and noted the Pharisees criticized Jesus for mingling with tax collectors. Jesus told the critics that He didn't come to earth for them.

Moments later the disciples of John appeared and they too had criticism. (Perhaps there was resentment of Jesus' taking over John's message.) They were upset about the absence of fasting among Jesus' disciples. Jesus gave them the bridegroom and wineskin message. His kingdom was one of relationship, and it won't fit into the old glove! (It still won't!)

Matthew 9:18 said, "WHILE He spoke these things." (Matthew wanted his readers to know this sequence had meaning.) A man arrived with news of the death of his daughter about the same time as a woman with an issue of blood reached for Him. (There is a correlation between these two. One was unable to have children and was virtually dead. The other was a child, who was virtually alive. The child would never have been given chance to bear either, if she had died. One is alive, yet dead, while the other is dead, though alive.

Next, Jesus healed two blind men. (Notice must be given with each instance of healing since they correlate with the Mountain message. Each instance was based on the faith of the recipient-wherever faith appears, so does healing.) Turning from the blind men, Jesus encountered a mute-demon-possessed man. Faith was not required of this man, but note the Pharisees' criticism which reared up, "He casts out by the chief devil." (There is that pattern again.)

"JESUS WENT (9:35)" preaching the gospel of the kingdom and healing the sick. He viewed them as sheep without a shepherd. He prayed the Lord would send forth laborers and responded by sending forth the twelve.

Another time break was noted by Matthew in 10:1, after which Jesus empowered the disciples specifically to preach the "gospel of the kingdom" and heal the sick. This was the total message of evangelism then and it is now. Jesus' instructions were unique.

Do not go to the Gentiles 10:5
As you go, preach:"the kingdom of heaven is at hand." 10:7
Heal the sick, cleanse lepers, raise dead, cast out demons 10:8
Provide for nothing: not housing, not clothing 10:9,10
Judge worthiness (peace is yours to give or retrieve) 10:13
Though sheep: be wise as serpents and harmless as doves 10:16
Beware of men: secular ones go to court, religious one scourge v17
- - Be a testimony against both
Don't fret over what to say to either: Spirit will speak in you v.20
Flee one city, but go to another, for you are a disciple. V.23
Do no fear v. 28
Know you are cared for v.29
Do not deny Me, but confess Me v. 32
Do not presume v. 34
Lose one's life for crosses and rewards are linked. V. 42
(Author's Note: from this point onward, use of a skeleton outline must suffice for brevity. Hopefully, the study will point to various events that form clusters of action and teaching. The use of this didactic is universally accepted as the best form of learning. Learn/Practice. The progression by Matthew is like a children's story style "and then, and then, and then.")

Chapter eleven begins with "Now." That's because as Jesus finished giving this charge to His disciples, He also went to "their" villages and towns preaching the gospel of the kingdom. Tracking Him down, (at this same time) there arrived a group inquiry.

NOW, John's disciples appear, as an official group. Jesus taught the value of John's message to His kingdom work. His implications were profound (11:1-19).

John, the Baptist, was a MARKER in time. Jesus said, "From John until now." The short range, of this new Elijah, marked the end of the old era and the beginning of the new (11:12). Jesus drew a historical line in time at that moment. His teachings afterward revealed the importance of that demarcation.

First, He appraised His own generation. (It would be like a generation X or Y'r making judgment of his/her peers.) John, He said, came to them with austerity; He came with freedom. The generation of Jesus did not respond to either. So, it is today, at this moment! Whether a Palau City Fest or television extravaganza, the result is the same: Christians may come to be entertained, but the city or nation does not repent!

Matthew intensified his use of "THEN" and "NOW'S," from this chapter forward, making contiguity a vital factor to understanding Jesus' whole truth.

"THEN (11:20)" (Same time frame) Jesus appraised the Galilean cities He visited. Chorazin= Tyre and Sidon; Capernaum=Sodom
"AT THAT TIME (11:25)" Jesus thanked the Father for hiding the truth and showed His work to be different than the conservative Jews. They lay heavy burdens, His was light.
"AT THAT TIME (12:1)" Jesus and the disciples ate grain on the Sabbath. The local church leaders objected. He declared that He was greater than the Temple and Lord of the Sabbath. He still is!
"NOW (12:9)" Jesus went to the local synagogue of the complainers. There, He exercised His lordship over the Sabbath. A man with withered hand was healed Every sick person in a great multitude was healed. (Has it occurred to anyone that in the many times Matthew pointed out "Jesus healed them all," his selection of "focus healings" might be significant? He is Lord of the Temple! The Pharisees show their hearts and the multitudes leave
Jesus withdrew and made a declaration, His ministry would not be complete until He sent "forth righteousness (justice) to VICTORY (v.20)." This is still His goal!

"THEN (12:22)" (same time frame) a demon possessed, blind mute was healed and the Pharisees were given a message about divided kingdoms.
Next, Jesus emphasized something that was to be used as His criteria for judging all religious activity. One either gathers alongside Him or scatters. Gathering "with Me" is different than just "gathering." Being "with" Him is the key. From this premise, Jesus spring boarded into a teaching about the blasphemy of the Holy Spirit; there is a connection. Many things done in the name of the Spirit are not "with Him." Result: the Twenty-first Century generation may well hold the record for being the most blasphemous generation of all time.

"THEN (12:38 emphasizing the moment)" the Scribes and Pharisees ignored His teaching and asked for a sign. They are given the sign of Jonah, which paraphrased reads: "You only get one chance to repent and even if you do, more demons will arrive to occupy you."
"WHILE (12:46)" (Still addressing the multitudes) His mother and brothers ask to see Him. The multitudes are told "Those who do the will of the Father" are his mother and brothers (v. 50). His kingdom was/is not a flesh kingdom.
"ON THE SAME DAY (13:1)" Jesus went out of the house and sat by the sea. The multitudes followed as He boarded a boat from which to teach. He taught the parable of the "sower and the seed" as a kingdom principle and the fulfillment of Isaiah's prophecy. His message was always about the kingdom!
Jesus continually drew a line between that "other kingdom" and His own. Every teaching in this Galilean Cluster focused on that dynamic. Matthew wanted us to know that! It is the "word" of the kingdom that satan wants destroyed. It is the kingdom He attacks. Jesus embellished His kingdom comparables.

1. THE Kingdom is like a man who sowed good seeds. Tares were also sown. (13:24-30).

2. THE Kingdom is like a mustard seed. Small compared to the huge mechanism of the Pharisees, but it will grow (13:31).

3. THE Kingdom is like good leaven (v.33) as opposed to leaven of the Pharisees.

Jesus testified that He was the secret-revealer, showing things hidden since the foundations of the earth (13:35).

"THEN (13:36)" Jesus sent away the multitudes and went to his house. His disciples followed. He then explained His parables and continued the kingdom series.
4. THE Kingdom is like a treasure in a field, worth the purchase. V. 44

5. THE Kingdom is like a pearl merchant v. 45, worth the purchase.

6. THE Kingdom is like a dragnet, filled with all manner of catch. V. 47

7. THE "Kingdom-instructed" scribes were like a householder with treasures stored up both new and old. (How unlike the Scribes Jesus had encountered.)
"HE DEPARTED FROM THERE (and went to Nazareth)." Matthew 13:54
THE NAZARETH CLUSTER: Jesus, from this juncture, made several individual forays into surrounding areas. Nazareth was one of those junkets. (He immediately returned to Galilee after just one duty in Nazareth. He did similarly in Tyre and Sidon and Magdala as well as Caesarea Philippi.)

In Nazareth, His hometown, not many works could be done because everyone had a pre-formed opinion of His family and Him. Two significant things occurred, however: (1) the populous refused His Divinity and were (2) offended by His ministry (preaching the kingdom of God and healing the sick). Moreover, they established a significant fact: Jesus' half brother, James, was one of synagogue folk who heard Jesus preach, teach and saw Him heal. He was a witness to the divine work of Jesus. This was significant, because James became the first New Testament writer. Officialdom's "Are they not all with us?" would garner one day the answer, "NO!"

SECOND GALILEAN CLUSTER: "AT THAT TIME" Jesus heard about John's death (14:13). Because of this news, He withdrew to a desert (wilderness) in deference to John's ministry there. He also did several acts of power in healing the sick and feeding 5,000.

"IMMEDIATELY (14:22)" Jesus made His disciples get into a boat and go before Him to the other side. After praying on the mountain, Jesus walked on water, thus moving into Elijah-like demonstrations over natural elements.

On the boat, He received worship and a confession of His Sonship. This constituted the third power act following His rejection in Nazareth. He was headed to Gennesaret!

Gennesaret (located in the NW Corner of the Sea of Galilee) was about to receive a visit they had never bargained for. When they recognized who Jesus was, people came from everywhere just to touch the hem of His garment.

"THEN (15:1)" came the Scribes and Pharisees, all the way from Jerusalem, bringing a frivolous issue of doctrine, "the tradition of the elders." Jesus countered them with the real issue of their heart and their heartless manipulation of truth. He quoted Isaiah, "In vain do they worship Me." It is the same today with most worship activities!

This most important truth was soon to be juxtaposed to real worship. "Every plant which My heavenly Father has not planted will be uprooted." (Listen, there is much planting today, if it is not done at the behest of the Father it will be uprooted!) Even though Jesus' disciples were concerned about offending those distinguished prelates, Jesus said, "Leave them alone (15:14)." This is great advice even in today's religious clime! It's a matter of who's planting!

TYRE AND SIDON CLUSTER: "THEN" (right after the previous teaching- -note the timing) Jesus went out from there and departed to the region of Tyre and Sidon. There, He met a woman who had a demon possessed daughter (v.22). She was the counterpart to the Pharisees. She worshipped Him. It was not in vain (for her daughter was healed). The Pharisees had worshipped in vain, she had not. They received nothing. She GOT the children's bread, Hallelujah! Mission accomplished.

Jesus left this distant post and returned to Galilee, "skirting the Sea of Galilee (v. 29)." He healed the lame, blind, mute, maimed and many others and fed 4,000. He trained His sights on Magdala.

MAGDALA CLUSTER: "THEN (16:1)" He purposefully positioned Himself for another round with the Scribes and Pharisees, who wanted a sign which would meet their criteria. They received the same sign as the others, the sign of Jonah, which many interpret as His three days in the belly of the earth. I believe it was Jonah's single message, "Repent or perish." Jesus told this entourage they had lost their discernment abilities…so has the church! Then, Jesus followed the advice He gave His disciples…16:4 "He left them."

Jesus was headed to Caesarea Philippi, but on the way He taught about the leaven of the Pharisees. "THEN the disciples understood that He did not tell them to beware the leaven of bread, but of the doctrine of the Pharisees and Sadducees (16:12)."

CAESAREA PHILIPPI CLUSTER: CP is at the headwaters of the river Jordan on the way to Mt. Hermon (where the glory of God went to reside during Ezekiel's vision). Jesus had enough of the Pharisee's litmus tests, using the doctrines of man rather than revelation. So, Jesus took His disciples to this beautiful confluence and taught them His litmus test. (This litmus test was revealed to me by the Spirit early one Wednesday morning at the King Sejung Hotel in downtown Seoul, S. Korea. I was told by the Spirit to use this information the next week. Little did I know that on Saturday of the next week I would be speaking to the Song Do High School before several thousand young men in military training at Busan, S. Korea. That year was 1975; the harvest was over 1200 young men!). Ah! When it's His message, it is always effective!

The students were presented with the greatest examination of their life. They were told that to answer these three questions was the obligation of all flesh. They had no choice.

The three great questions of life are:
  1. Who do men say I, the son of man, am? (16:13)
  2. Who do you say that I am? (16:15).
  3. What shall a man give in exchange for His soul? (16:26)
Jesus complimented Peter for his answers. He explained they did not come from flesh, but came from the Spirit through revelation. Jesus then said that upon the rock of revelation would He build His church and the gates of hell would not prevail against it!

Herein was laid another departure point, for the scriptures say: "FROM THAT TIME." Things were different from that juncture. Jesus began using revelation as His method of communication. He revealed the design of His death, burial and resurrection. Jesus again spoke to Peter, "You are not mindful of the things of God, but the things of men." (Oh, that the church would hear that again. That from every pulpit and from the mouth of every servant there would ring this truth. )

"THEN" Jesus began to teach His disciples how to separate their lives from "the things of man." Staccato-like teaching flowed as He spoke: "Take Up your cross, follow Me, lose your life and find real life in Me."

Jesus then spoke of "glory." He related how some of them would not taste death until they "see the Son of Man coming in His kingdom." That was followed in six days by the Mt. of Transfiguration. They saw Him in the glory of His Father.

"NOW AFTER SIX DAYS (17:1 Matthew is very definitive)," Jesus took Peter, James and John on the high mountain and the Law and the Prophets visited Him. Those in attendance asked about the coming of Elijah. Jesus spoke of John, the Baptist. It was then He turned his attention to the little boy by the water. (From the mountain top to the mission field makes for a great sermon.) In answer to the question, "Why could we not cast him out?" Jesus spoke of mustard seed faith. He told them the great faith-truth: Nothing will be impossible for you. He returned to Galilee.


Leaping from Caesarea Philippi back toward home, Matthew detailed an episode about the Temple Tax. I think nothing denotes more of the "things of men" than this trivia. "The sons are free" was the wonderful conclusion. Since this scene is significant, Matthew exclaimed, "AT THAT TIME THE DISCIPLES CAME TO JESUS SAYING, Who then is greatest in the kingdom of heaven (18:1)?"

It would seem that more trivia could not be possible. But NO, the disciples quarrel about rank and position. Jesus turned to reveal more about the kingdom and what is important in it. He ended (18:18) with the key to their earthly ministry, "Assuredly, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven. Again, I say to you that if two of you agree on earth concerning anything that they ask, it will be done for them by My Father in heaven." (Here is the power of a good marriage.) Binding and loosing has been lost in pulpits who emphasize asking and receiving. Where are the ones who rise up and bind a soul to heaven, who loose the strongholds by which men suffer? Binding and loosing has less appeal than receiving airplanes and Mercedes.

Notice Matthew said, "THEN (18:21)," to emphasize how Simon was still attached to earth and the things of men. Peter asked, "How often should I forgive my brother, seventy times?" Jesus took things back to the kingdom of heaven in verses 22-35.

8. THE KINGDOM of heaven is like a certain king settling accounts (showing what the Heavenly Father will do if one does not forgive).

"NOW IT CAME TO PASS (19:1 Just after these discussions)" Jesus departed to the region of Judea beyond Jordan. He was inching closer to His death at Jerusalem.

JUDEAN CLUSTER: Jesus healed a multitude and interviewed the Pharisees. "Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for just any reason," was such a dire issue on their radar. Jesus took the topic to the real issues of the kingdom and gave their sexual egos a blast by discussing "Eunuchs for the kingdom's sake."

He turned to the little children and taught: "Of such is the kingdom of heaven (19:14)." He departed from there.

"NOW (19:16, right on the heels of Pharisees and children)," there came a rich young ruler. Jesus spoke of perfection (a subject which would require the most astute to inquire of the Spirit). The disciples were taught that irrespective of man's perspective, "With God all things are possible." Faith is the bridge across the impossible. With this bridge, "the other side is reached." Beginning with 16:20 (nothing will be impossible for you) to 18:19 (It shall be done for them by My Father) to19:26 (with God all things are possible), the chasm of doubt and unbelief is bridged.

"THEN (19:27)" Peter, being such a conservative Jew, asked about the disciples reward for forsaking all (not like the young ruler). He was overwhelmed that there would be twelve thrones, whereby the occupants would judge the twelve tribes. It was this position of honor that Paul accented with "and are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus, Messiah, being the chief cornerstone." The hundred-fold and eternal life strengthened their reward. Jesus then launched further revelation about the kingdom. (Continuing THE KINGDOM numbering from the previous declarations :)

9. THE Kingdom is like a landowner who hires and pays the same, no matter which hour the laborer starts. (I believe this continued Jesus' teaching on reward. The disciples must be taught they are just a part of the great plan. The landowner can do with His vineyard as He wills.)


Jesus explained the importance of His mission at Jerusalem, finishing just in time to again see the subject of "special favor in the kingdom" broached by the mother of Zebedee's sons. Will it never end? Excluding Zebedee's wife, Jesus told His disciples that greatness in the kingdom was serving like He served (20:28), all this while passing through the "Decision City," of Jericho. Jericho was the place where Rahab threw in with the minority, the place where "the coming-out-ones" faith first worked its conquering power.

"NOW AS THEY DEPARTED FROM JERICHO (20:29)," a great multitude of folk, many of them sick, followed Jesus, while two blind men along the side of the road received healing (20:34) instead of them.

"NOW (21:1)" (came the triumphant entry to Jerusalem to satisfy a prophecy given five hundred and fifty years before). The multitudes said, "This is Jesus, the prophet from Nazareth of Galilee." They didn't say, "Jesus, preacher of the kingdom, healer of the sick and raiser of the dead." They gave His earthly credentials.

Did Jesus lovingly bask in the spot light of their affections? No! What He did was enter the Temple, which had taxed Him, and HE began to collect from them. Before the crowds finished Matthew said, "THEN."

Jesus established His lordship over the Temple. "My house shall be called a house of prayer," but you have made it a "den of thieves." His house, the one He owns, is still to be called a "house of prayer." It is where the bridge of faith and belief begins to extend across the chasms of this world. I know that prayer consistent and continuous will do more than any campaign or program hatched by man.

"THEN (21:14)," right after the whip and goad, while still in the Temple and just before the clergy can get to Him, the blind and lame came to Him. He healed them. He is Lord over the Temple. "BUT" the chief priests and scribes were indignant. (If one wants to see an "indignant" crowd of clergy today, let someone minister as Jesus did-- a good dose of cleansing and healing…I guarantee the same results.)

After quoting scripture, He followed His own advice. "THEN HE LEFT THEM (21:17)." He went to Bethany and spent the night there.

"NOW IN THE MORNING (21:18)," Jesus encountered the fig tree. Let one be reminded that the day before He had incensed the temple, now He put that action in perspective. In the true kingdom, it's the will of the husbandman that counts, it's not time or season or propriety. Kingdom folks move mountains, "Ask in prayer, believing, YOU WILL RECEIVE (21:22)."

Jesus went straight to the Temple. He continued His healing ministry. He didn't ask permission. He didn't fill out a formal request. He didn't show His credentials; He had already established them. The chief priests and elders (the indignant ones) CONFRONTED Him. "By what authority?" was their question. There comes a time when one doesn't have to answer the keepers of false religion. Besides, their reasoning had run out.

Jesus confronted them with the parable of a man with two sons. The first said, "No, I will not do the will of my father." The second said, "I go," but didn't. Which was the son of reward? Their answer was quick, "The first." Then Jesus closed the door on them and said, "Tax collectors and harlots enter the kingdom of God before you (21:31)."

He gave another visual. A landowner, with a vineyard and winepress, leased it to tenants for a portion of the proceeds. When he sought to collect, they killed his son and warred against Him. (The result was another defeat of the religious establishment.)
There I say to you, the kingdom of God will be taken from you and given to a nation bearing the fruits of it.
Matthew 21:43

10. THE Kingdom is like a certain king who arranged a marriage for his son. Those first invited weren't worthy. They gave excuse. Those who offered no excuse mistreated and killed the servants. The king killed them. The remaining servants invited everyone they saw to the feast. No license was afforded them, however; they must have a wedding garment. "Many are called, few chosen."

"THEN (22:15)" came the plotting Pharisees' disciples and with them the Herodians, but Jesus perceived their wickedness. "Render to Caesar and God their due," was His edict.

"THE SAME DAY (22:12)," brought the Sadducees, as well. Their question was as ludicrous at this spiritual time as their Pharisee counterparts inquiring about divorce. They were concerned about "Whose wife would she be in the judgment?" Jesus answered by telling the most educated of the sects, "You do not know the Scriptures nor the power of God (22:29)."

Matthew injected a brief commentary:
And when the multitudes heard this they were astonished at His teaching. But when the Pharisees heard that He had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered together.
Matthew 22: 34
A magnificent sermon could be made from this verse; one might call it "A Tale of Two Reactions."

"THEN (22:35),"one of the brighter students, of the Pharisees, posed a question to Jesus. "Which is the great commandment in law?" It was one of those rhetorical questions, designed like many reporters ask when quizzing a politician. Jesus was no politician. He answered the question concisely and asked one of His own. His question was number two on the litmus list. "What do you think about the Messiah? Whose Son is He? (22:42)?" When they answered, "The son of David," He retorted with,

If David then calls Him 'Lord," how is He his Son?
Matthew 22:45
They were silenced.

"THEN (23:1)," Jesus directed His teaching to the multitudes and His disciples. He taught about scribes and Pharisees. He revealed their "modus operandi" and explained their motives for their "best of feast" mentality. They loved to be regarded as Master, Rabbi. Instead of rank and privilege Jesus said that in His kingdom, there is only one teacher, The Messiah. In His kingdom, they are on the same level. (Try and explain this to leadership, pastors associations, the association of Christian counselors and the school of prophets! There will never be a text drawn for a convention based on Matthew 23:8 until someone realizes they have never heard one.) "He who humbles himself will be exalted."

Jesus taught that crowd some "Don't be's."

  • Don't be called Rabbi. 23:8
  • Don't be called Father. 23:9 (preach that at the next Catholic Charismatic convention)
  • Don't be called Teacher. 23:10
Jesus said religious leadership in His day (as well as modern times), "Shut up the kingdom of heaven against men, for they neither go in nor do they allow those who are entering to go in."

WHEN JESUS SAYS, "WOE," THEN LISTEN. For the next 23 verses, His message was not considered "seeker friendly." He concluded by consigning the generation of His contemporaries a place in history.

On you may come all the righteous blood shed on the earth, from righteous Abel to the blood of Zechariah, son of Berechiah, whom you murdered between the temple and the altar. Assuredly, I say to you, all these things will come upon this generation.
Matthew 23:35-36
Although not one of them had been present at any of these events, their defense of their forefathers linked them to every act. One is condemned by what one condones!

Knowing the judgment which was to come upon Jerusalem, Jesus wept over them. "Your house IS left to you desolate."

"THEN (24:1)," Jesus went and departed from the temple, and His disciples came to Him to show Him the buildings of the temple. (Can anyone see the irony of this move?)

"NOW (24:3)" He sat on the Mount of Olives. The disciples quizzed Him about the last days. After a lengthy description, He ended where He always ended, "This gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all nations, and then the end will come (24:14)." Even though He continued through verse 31, it was only to lead into more understanding of the kingdom.

11. THE Kingdom of heaven is like ten virgins 25:1

12. THE Kingdom of heaven is like a traveling man (talents)25:14

(Twelve "similar" passages are given for twelve tribes and twelve apostles who will judge them along the lines of each "like.")


"AND WHEN JESUS WAS IN BETHANY AT THE HOUSE OF SIMON THE LEPER (26:6)." There came the anointing oil and Mary's memorial.

"THEN (26:14)," Judas. "So from that time he sought opportunity." "NOW WHEN EVENING HAD COME…NOW AS THEY WERE EATING (26:20,21)." The sequence of events accelerates.

"AS THEY WERE EATING (26:26)," Jesus partook and taught about the new covenant of His blood and body.

"THEN (26:31)," Jesus declared, "All of you will be made to stumble because of Me."





All these events fall in rapid fire order, and if taken as rocks in a stream flowing to Calvary, they can be viewed in the perspective of the heat and pressure of the hour.

"THEN" all the disciples forsook Him and fled (26:56)."

Jesus was brought quickly before the High Priest, kept silent, then He answered the litmus question, "Tell us if You are the Messiah, the Son of God (26:63)?" "It is as you said."

"THEN," the high priest tore his clothes and the events escalated in direct proportion to his anger.

"WHEN MORNING COMES…AND WHEN THEY HAD BOUND HIM," He was delivered to the civil authorities just as Judas was plying the religious ones.

"NOW" Jesus stood before the governor and again the litmus question was asked, "Are You the King of the Jews?" (27:11) "It is as you say."

"WHILE HE (Pilate) WAS SITTING," his wife reported, "I have suffered many things today in a dream because of Him." "But the chief priests and elders persuaded the multitudes." (This is the job of organized religion.)

Jesus' crucifixion moved rapidly from this point. The time sequence was punctuated by many "and thens." Not until verse 45 does Matthew place a marker, "NOW from the sixth hour until the ninth hour there was darkness over all the land." He wanted the reader to understand the significance of time regarding the atonement. Matthew pointed out meticulously in verse 52, "And the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised; and coming out of the graves AFTER HIS RESURRECTION." He was and is the first born of the resurrection.

Several "NOW" passages followed in order to show the rapidly changing event pattern. Observe verse 57, 62, "Now when evening had come… (Followed by)...On the next day." Matthew kept time as perspective for viewing the actions of the chief priests. Anxious not to have Jesus on the cross during their Sabbath, they had no compunction to arranging a guard and meeting with authorities on that day (63,64).

"NOW after the Sabbath, as the first day of the week began to dawn… (28:1)" All the events around the tomb began to flourish. "So they departed quickly from the tomb…and as they went …Jesus met them." "Now while they were going…then the eleven disciples went away into Galilee to THE appointed mountain…they worshipped Him…then Jesus came and spoke with them."

These final words of Matthew 28:18ff summarized an answer to the priorities and basics of the kingdom. All authority is His. Go and make disciples of all the nations. Baptize them. Teach them about the Trinity. Teach them to observe all that I HAVE COMMANDED you. I am with you always, even to the end of the age.

Author's Note:
By your having arrived at end of this treatise, perhaps you will have gleaned something different than those who failed to pursue this work. In it is an unparalleled study of scope and sequence in Matthew. I truly pray that you will have been blessed and from this, seek to study with a different eye the other sequential works of the gospel and the book of Acts. Reading, with this as your background, should produce some interesting studies.

Until Next month,

Dr. Cosby R. Oliver, PhD.


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Die Sohn Zadoks

Last modified: 02/07/2019