A huge thank you to everyone who contributed to thought for the day. I have really valued all the different voices we were able to hear.
I’ve collated together all the the reflections into one document. It’s a bit of a monster (just shy of 300 pages!) but I’ve added a table of contents and some links to help navigate it. Please feel free to use them as a reading guide for Matthew, or dip into them whenever you are in need of some insight.
Once again, thank you all for the hard work you’ve put in over the past year.
Just another reminder that we have finished our journey through the Gospel of Matthew and that we are going to be taking a Summer break to take stock and decide what we want to do next. All our previous thoughts are still available here on the website. If you have any thoughts or feedback on Thought for the Day we would love to hear them, just email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
This is our last TFTD from the Gospel of Matthew. We are going to take a break over the Summer before deciding what we want to do next. If you have any thoughts or feedback we would love to hear them, just email me at email@example.com
And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
Matthew 28: 20b
Football has given us many great anthems. From Man City fans belting out Blue Moon, to the strange absurdity of a stadium full of blokes singing “I’m forever blowing bubbles, Pretty bubbles in the air”. But none is more iconic than Liverpool FC’s ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone’. Despite being a recycled song from a 76-year-old Rogers and Hammerstein musical, its bittersweet words have been ideal for a team that has experienced both sublime moments of triumph, and the sting of devastating tragedies. “Walk on, walk on. With hope in your heart. And you’ll never walk alone”. It’s a reminder of why people love football so fiercely. Through wind and rain, through their dreams are tossed and blown, football fans stick together.
This is the last in our long series through the Gospel of Matthew! We began on Monday 13th April right back in Matthew Chapter 1 and have systematically worked through every single chapter and verse. Now, a year and 78 days later we have finally finished.
And what a year it’s been. We’ve seen lockdowns, global protests against racism, new ways of communicating, pivotal elections, and a record pace vaccine program. It’s been a whirlwind of change and upheaval, with moments of joy, but of course many times of tragedy. None of us are the same people as we were in the Spring of 2020.
But one thing has remained the same. Jesus has been with us every step of the way. Through every change, every joy, every disappointment, Jesus has walked with us. As we heard yesterday Matthew’s Gospel ends with a challenge, ‘Go and make disciples’, but it also ends with the greatest encouragement Jesus could give us. I will be with you always, even to the very end.
You will never walk alone.
Prayer: Lord Jesus, thank you for the Gospel of Matthew, a testament to your life full of challenge, wisdom, and comfort. Thank you for everything I’ve learned over this last year, all the ways you have spoken to me. Help me to reflect on those lessons and carry them with me into my life and into the world. And thank you most of all that wherever I go you are always with me, that I am never alone.
Action: Sit back and remember the person you were in Spring of 2020 and reflect on who you are now. How have you changed and where have you seen God in the past year.
Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.
Matthew 28: 19 – 20a
Churches have many interests but their core task is to see people become disciples of Jesus. Every activity should be geared towards this. Interestingly this task was not given to the ‘church’ as an institution but to the disciples who were a group of individuals. That means we cannot farm out this task to the ‘church’ because it was given to us. Quite challenging isn’t it? So what are you going to do about the task Jesus gave you?
Prayer: Father this is my calling. Often times I don’t want it, it actually makes my life more difficult. Help me.
Action: Speak to people about Jesus today. Not the church but Jesus!
Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.
Matthew 28: 18
How utterly, utterly glorious. Jesus said that all authority was given to him, in heaven and on earth. Our Lord was and is a human person, who knows us and loves us, who doesn’t let us go when we’re foolish, who loves and forgives us more than anyone. And this Lord, this King, our brother, has all the authority that exists. And this Lord is our God.
Because Christ has all the authority, we can trust in Him. When we suffer the pains of a broken world, when we rejoice in a foretaste of heaven, when we are dying or being born, when we are loving or grieving, no matter what happens in our lives, we can trust in the understanding, love and authority of Jesus. Jesus will for us is good, for those who trust in the Lord, and so we can have a deep down faith, underpinning all the other stuff in our lives, that things will work out well for those who love Him. Life is not perfect, the world is fallen and damaged, we are fallible, and we suffer the results of our actions and others’ actions throughout the history of the earth. But Christ has been given all the authority, and God’s will for us is for our good.
Prayer: Dear Jesus, I’m not good at prayer, or life, or loving, but you are working in my life, and you have authority over everything, not just me. Steer me and guide me and shape me, I pray, so that I become more like you. Help me to trust and rest in you, no matter what happens. Amen
Action: if there’s a stubborn problem in your life, try turning it over to Jesus’ authority to sort out. Make a note of it, pray about it, and ask Jesus to deal with it.
When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted.
Matthew 28: 17
Doubt has a way of creeping in to so many areas where there is not much certainty, or where trust and faith are needed. The disciples hadn’t seen Jesus raised from the dead yet, and are now in Galilee after the women telling them to go there to see Jesus. They had seen Jesus raise someone from the dead, but they weren’t sure if he was going to be raised from the dead. Faith is something that calls us to trust and believe in the work of God, and the ways that God is moving and working the world. Doubt is always there to creep in, and we are called to have our faith speak louder than our doubt.
Prayer: Loving God, you have done and continue to do many things to show your presence in this world, and your love for us, and yet we still have times when we doubt. Help us to have that doubt be fleeting, and stand firm in our faith. Amen
Action: Don’t get stuck in your doubt
Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go.
Matthew 28: 16
Mountains are a powerful symbol in the Bible. God gave Moses the 10 Commandments on Mount Sinai, Jesus had his transfiguration on a mountain, and Jerusalem is built atop Mount Zion. Mountains symbolise the place where Heaven and Earth meet. They represent a glimpse into another world, where the everyday and the holy overlap and we can come face to face with God.
So it’s fitting that Jesus should end his ministry on a mountain. Through his life, death, and resurrection Jesus had brought humanity and God together, breaking down the barriers between us. And so it all culminates atop a mountain, heaven and earth coming together in Jesus Christ. Where once the disciples felt distant from God, their relationship mediated by priests and sacrifices, now they would experience what Jesus meant when he said, “the Kingdom of God is within you”.
Prayer: Psalm 121
I lift up my eyes to the hills—
from where will my help come?
My help comes from the Lord,
the Maker of heaven and earth.
Action: Go to the highest place you can reach today (be that a hilltop, or the top of the stairs) and read Psalm 121.