Matthew’s gospel is often referred to as the gospel which presents Christ as King. It begins with a kingly “genealogy of Jesus Christ the Son of David” (Mt. 1:1 NIV). At His birth, the wise men came seeking “He who has been born King of the Jews” (Mt. 2:2). When Herod heard this he tried to have this “Ruler” born in Bethlehem killed (Mt.2:6,16). Altogether, Jesus is called the “Son of David” eight times in Matthew (1:1; 9:27; 12:23; 15:22; 20:30,31; 21:9, 15). And His kingdom is referred to over 50 times. With all this in mind, it’s paradoxical that Jesus’ ministry began with no display of royal status, no exercise of power and dominion, no quest for recognition, no display of wealth. Instead Jesus surprised everyone when He said that He, “the Son of Man, did not come to be served, but to serve” (Mt. 20:28).
And His teachings were as paradoxical as His life. He said: “Whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted” (Mt. 23:12). And, “Whoever wants to become great among you, must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first, must be your slave” (Mt. 20:26-27). And, “Whoever humbles himself like this child is greatest in the kingdom” (Mt. 18:4). And, “The last will be first, and the first will be last” (Mt. 20:16).
Our Servant-King praised His Father that such truths were hidden from the “wise and learned, and revealed … to little children” (Lk. 10:21). Paul learned this when he, a Pharisee of Pharisees (Acts 26:3), was knocked down and blinded, so that he could stand up and see himself anew as a born-again child of God (Acts 9:1-18). And what he learned he passed along to us: “The message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God … For the foolishness of God is wiser than man’s wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than man’s strength” (1 Cor. 1:18-25).
To learn more of Scripture’s paradoxes, read this month’s Features.
By Larry Ondrejack
With permission to publish by: Sam Hadley, Grace & Truth, 210 Chestnut St., Danville, IL., USA. Website: www.gtpress.org