Take your stained glasses off when you read the gospel of Matthew this year. Matthew is not just writing a history record. His gospel is history, absolutely, but he has a goal. He wants you, he wants us, he wants the world to bow in surrender to the King of Kings. He wants us to become followers of the God-man, virgin born, Son of God.
Nothing else will do.
“For Matthew, Jesus has changed the world, requiring that our lives be changed if we want to live as people of the new creation. Accordingly, the gospel is not information that invites us to decide what we will take or leave. Our task is not to understand the story that Matthew tells in light of our understanding of the world. Rather, Matthew would have our understanding of the world fully transformed as the result of our reading of his gospel. Matthew writes so that we might become followers, be disciples, of Jesus. To be a Christian does not mean that we are to change the world, but rather that we must live as witnesses to the world that God has changed. We should not be surprised, therefore, if the way we live makes the change visible.”
Matthew, Stanley Hauerwas,
Brazos Press (2006), 25.
“Oh God, preachers all over the world are praying and studying and preparing their hearts and their messages for this Christmas season. Most labor in obscurity. Many, far to many, labor in dangerous war-infected areas among peoples oppressed in spirit and anxious for safety and peace. And most of us are, like-minded with Matthew, burdened with the desire to see You exalted in the messages we bring this Christmas. We long to be transformed and to help others toward that transformation of spirit that only You can affect. Lord, would you un-clutter our hearts that we might be empty vessels for Your work in us that You, mighty God and Prince of Peace, would receive glory and honor and praise. In the matchless name of Jesus, hear our prayers. Amen.”