• Service times

    Services times are:

    Saturday night 7:30 pm for our Chinese/English service. (Pastor Daniel Choi.)

    Sunday 10 am for our English language service (Senior Pastor Jeff Whittaker).

    Sunday 11:30 am for our Chinese (Mandarin) language service. (Pastor Daniel Choi.)

  • Contact details…

    Physical and postal address:
    4 Inverary Avenue,
    Epsom,
    Auckland 1023,
    NEW ZEALAND.

    Email:
    epsombaptist@clear.net.nz

    Telephone:
    (0064 9) 6306010

    Contacts:
    Rev. Jeff Whittaker
    Pastor Daniel Choi

  • Church Officers…

    Church Treasurer: Ann Guan

    Church Secretary: Margaret Whittaker

    Church Deacons: Anne Bartley, Ian de Stigter, Kristy Choi, Willa Hui, Donglan Zhang and Alfred Zhou.

Patterns in Matthew…

The middle chapters of the book of Matthew exhibit some fascinating patterns. Let me start with Matthew 11, and the incident where some disciples of John the Baptist approach Jesus with a query from John. John, they tell Jesus, is puzzled. It seems that John is no longer sure that Jesus is the One he thought. The puzzlement is because of the way that Jesus has been exercising his ministry. Jesus tells John’s disciples to reassure John by quoting some verses from Isaiah that back up Jesus’ unexpected ministry direction. In Matthew 14, these disciples of John are back, telling Jesus that John has just been executed by Herod. I see in this communication a sad challenge to Jesus; a suggestion from these disciples that somehow Jesus’ lack of solidarity with John is at least partly responsible for John’s death.

Here is where I see the pattern start. Jesus immediately seeks to find a place to withdraw to. To me it seems that he wants to mourn for his cousin John, but also to reflect on the question: Is the way I’m doing ministry the right way? But, Jesus is sought out by crowds of needy people, and ends up ministering. Healings, exorcisms, teaching… These call him out, and he pours himself out for the people. And then comes controversy, arguments with various persons and groups whom Jesus has managed to annoy or threaten, In response, Jesus again seeks a lonely place in which to pray. This then is the pattern. 1) Attempted withdrawal. 2) Ministry to the crowds who won’t leave him alone and seek him out. 3) Justification of his ministry approach as he ministers the all sorts of needs. 4) A controversial engagement with those – including his disciples on occasion – who challenge Jesus and what he is doing. And then the pattern repeats. Interestingly, along the way Jesus’ understanding of the scope of his mission is enlarged, extended. The encounter with the ‘Canaanite’ woman is a key to this process. And, rather than being a strange stand-alone story, I see the transfiguration from Matthew 17 as another attempted withdrawal similar to that that Jesus will make in the garden of Gethsemane just prior to his own execution.

transfiguration-of-Jesus

Chapter 16 introduces a twist. By this time, Jesus realises that, although his approach to ministry has developed in a direction quite different to that of John the Baptist, he cannot and will not escape John’s fate. Death lies ahead for him as well. And so, in verses 24 – 28 of Matthew 16, Jesus is described as challenging his followers with the fact that following him will require that they live with the cross as a daily threat or reality.

And how might that be lived out? Chapter 18 has Jesus teaching his disciples on how to live together as the community of his people, what taking up one’s cross on a daily basis might involve in the reality of everyday life. I’m about to preach on Matthew 18 this coming Sunday. What a challenge!

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