The Gospel of John is known for it's well thought out structure and remarkable literary parallels. John was an incredible writer and build his gospel with five discourses. Michael J. Wilkins defines them as
- Kingdom-Life (chapter 5-7)
- Mission-driven (chapter 10)
- Clandestine-kingdom (chapter 13)
- Community-based (chapter 18)
- Expectant-sojourner (chapters 24-25).
The Church has classified Matthew's gospel has a Handbook for Christians with an undertone of evangelism. The genius of it all is how Matthew builds the entire book to the climax of it all, the last verses of this book.
Matthew ends his book with these words, implying that when Jesus says, "all the commands" he means the teachings from the five discourses. The whole book of Matthew has been written to the disciple, a person who is already a Christ follower. But now, in the end, he tells those he has been writing to that they should go out and share these teachings to make more Christ followers, more believers.
This morning, as I was preparing for this weeks sermon, I started thinking about the Great Commission in regards to the Beatitudes and the few verses that follow.
Matthew begins the Sermon on the mount by describing Jesus and his disciples, but they are not alone. Jesus is teaching his disciples, those who follow his teachings, but there is a crowd with them as well who are intrigued by him. The crowd doesn't believe but are interested in learning more. The disciples are the target for the teachings, but Jesus isn't ignoring the crowd.
Then Jesus starts the Beatitudes, Matthew 5:3-12, saying it is a person's heart that is important. We should seek our rewards in heaven, not on earth. We should care for others, try to bring peace, and rely on God to meet our needs. He emphasizes meekness and humbleness. He encourages the disciples because no matter what happens on earth, they will receive a great reward in heaven if they follow his teachings.
Then he seems to move on; this is where if you're not careful, you could miss the point. In 5:13-16, Jesus starts talking about salt and light. In a quick read, it just seems he is starting a new metaphor. But he is saying that the disciples need to be the prophets (v. 12) together so they can bring the light, the zest to the world.
This is a foreshadowing to the church making disciples together. There is no way to light the world as one person. A lamp can only light a small space, but when you have many lamps, you can light a large space. You can read the entire book of Matthew with the Great Commission in mind. Try it sometime.
Michael J. Wilkins, Matthew, NIVAC; ed. Terry C. Muck; Accordance electronic ed. (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2004), 200.