Bishop Daniel Abot – Ethnic Congregations Specialist, Episcopal Office
I love Matthew’s Gospel. My favourite passage is:
“All this took place to fulfil what had been spoken by the Lord through the prophet: ‘Look, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall name him Emmanuel’” (Matthew 1.22-23).
These are my favourite lines from Matthew’s Gospel because they are about the fulfillment of the prophecy about Jesus’ birth and his ministry as Emmanuel, which means “God with us”. That God is with us gives us assurance and hope that the love of God is here with us always – with me and with you – through his son, Jesus. Because he is with us, he wants us to be like him – a righteous people.
This means that we need to die and rise with him, as he did for us, by laying down our lives for each other in service. We need to put others first. This idea ties in with Matthew 7.12, which is known as “the Golden Rule”: “‘In everything do to others as you would have them do to you; for this is the law and the prophets.’” As followers of Christ, we represent God on earth. “Christ” means “anointed” and “Christian” means “little anointed one”. So we need to try and be like him. It’s hard, but we need to keep trying.
These lines from Matthew tell us that Jesus was loving, caring, compassionate and focused on others.
The Rev’d Zoe Browne – Honorary Assistant Priest, The Parish of Dalby
“Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will send you out to fish for people.” At once they left their nets and followed him. (Matthew 4.19-20)
I’m the first person to admit that I’m a study tragic. Learning is always on my mind, which often translates into formal study. The current project is an MTh, slotted in between parenting two young sons and ministry! Too often, however, we assume that people with qualifications are automatically more capable or worthy to teach or lead.
This is one reason why I love the short narrative in Matthew 4, when Jesus calls his first disciples. He is choosing not only his first followers, but the first apostles, who are commissioned to “go and make disciples of all nations” (Matthew 28.19). Despite the gravity of this task, nowhere in Jesus’ command is there a “go to university, scrub yourself up, and then you’ll be ready”. Jesus simply says, “come, follow me, and I will send you out to fish for people”.
There are no exams, aptitude tests or CVs in sight. Jesus sees the minds and hearts of these men and takes them for who they are: potential disciples willing to trust this itinerant rabbi and willing to follow the Spirit’s leading to serve God’s kingdom.
Discipleship and faith formation are not specialisations best left to the “professionals”. Jesus calls all of us: young or grown up, qualified or not, to trust him and to follow the Holy Spirit’s call on our lives to be fishers of people.
Dr Stephen Harrison – Director of Mission, Research and Advocacy, Anglicare Southern Queensland
“‘The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which someone found and hid; then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.’” (Matthew 13.44)
I love the parables of Jesus because they are like a kaleidoscope that reveals something different to us each time we look at them.
I am particularly fond of this short parable. It has a deceptively obvious meaning: that the kingdom of heaven is like a treasure worth giving up everything to obtain. I don’t find this approach to the parable particularly affecting. On the other hand, if we are the treasure and Jesus is the one who gives up everything to buy the field I find myself deeply moved.
I imagine Jesus freeing me from the soil with bare, dirty and scraped hands. The ministry of Jesus was very much about setting people free, so they could have abundance of life.
This parable tells me that Jesus was a master storyteller. His subversive parables gently invite us in with comfortable, familiar images, but then turn our ideas on their head. We discover joyfully disconcerting treasures.
This parable also tells me that Jesus saw treasure within people. It makes me reflect on Jesus approaching Matthew sitting at his tax booth and inviting him to follow. Did Matthew think of himself as treasure? Or did he feel more like dirt? It didn’t matter because Jesus saw the treasure that was in Matthew.
The Rev’d Jamee Lee-Callard – Priest, Holy Hermits Online
My favourite passage in Matthew is:
“ ‘Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light’” (Matthew 11.28-30).
I love this passage because Jesus asserts that rest is part of God’s call to ministry. Often it can be hard to make room for Sabbath in our complex times when there are so many pulls on our resources. The call to “come and rest” is one I can sometimes ignore in the midst of exciting missionary work online. However, because it is what God wants, and is what is needed to flourish in ministry as well as life, I go on trying to practise Sabbath faithfully.
What is your favourite Lukan passage and why?
For me, the shared yoke that we are invited to bear with Jesus is also about living with chronic pain. Prayer is one of my regular pain management strategies. Whenever the pain in my body is a heavy burden, I try to remember that Jesus bears it with me, and invite God’s transforming presence into each sensation. By sharing the load, the burden becomes bearable and we go on walking together.
This passage celebrates for me the great mystery of the incarnation in the life of Jesus. That our all-powerful creator became flesh to experience the abundance of life, including pain and suffering, to be truly with us, is marvellous! All pain is felt and known by a gentle loving God. We are not alone in bearing the responsibility of ministry or in the pain of living. We are offered a chance for rest and transformation whenever we need it as we go about living for Jesus. This is the good news!
Editor’s note: If you are a member of the ACSQ community and you would like to share about your favourite scripture in anglican focus, please contact the Editor, Michelle McDonald, via email@example.com for more information.