Relationship is Process
A study of Matthew
Today we are continuing our walk through Matthew. The gospels are an invitation into this relationship with God through Jesus the Messiah. Matthew is built on the premise that Jesus is both the Messiah and Emmanuel (God with us). This section of Matthew is leading a moment where Jesus looks to His disciples and asks, “Who do people say the Son of Man is?”He then follows that question in
15 “But what about you?” he asked. “Who do you say I am?”
We can form our own perspective from:
Other’s opinions/other people telling us their experiences
Random - disjointed - insights or experiences
This all leads me again to bring up that information is easy. That information is cheap. Application is much more complicated, but it also where the true value is. It’s easy to know things; it’s harder to take actions. As we study, the goal here is not to get all the information out so we know it all. The goal is that we would move together towards application. Working through his Matthew's challenges to a greek speaking, jewish christian audience are challenges to us today. The Goal is true relationship with God. So… Let’s dialogue about the relationship process.
What are some relationship milestones? When relationship is new there are discoveries.
When the relationship is deeper there is a different level of comfort.
Relationship is process. What are some relationship milestones? I think it will lead to interesting internalization.
What are some relationship milestones?
There were a lot of ways to go about that question
From acquaintances, to facebook friends, to friends, to good friends, best friend
Liking, Dating, Engaged to, Married
I hope this got you thinking about relational milestones, because I want us to go deeper in our understanding of our relationship with God. So, a very open ended question.
What are some relationship milestones with God?
Feel the complexity of this. Relationships involve multiple moving pieces coming together all at the same time:
I am changing
You are changing
My environment is changing
Your environment is changing
Relationship involves an endless list of hard to quantify things:
I would like to simplify relationship to a seven step process:
I know you
You know me
I like you
You like me
I know you better
You know me better
Repeat steps 3 through 7
While that seems good. While that even seems logical. Relationship rarely falls into a nice clean formula. Yet, it is easy to hold that expectation for a formula in relationship with people, and it is easy to hold that expectation for formula in relationship with God. Today we look at Matthew’s displaying of two different perspectives and expectations of the Messiah. The disciples were in the midst of the complex process of relationship with Jesus. The religious authorities were thinking that one more “proof” would change their perspective and relationship with Jesus.
Healthy relationship with people is not made in a moment, it is a process. Healthy relationship with God is not made in a moment, it is a process.
Jesus Feeds the Five Thousand
13 When Jesus heard what had happened, he withdrew by boat privately to a solitary place. Hearing of this, the crowds followed him on foot from the towns. 14 When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them and healed their sick.
15 As evening approached, the disciples came to him and said, “This is a remote place, and it’s already getting late. Send the crowds away, so they can go to the villages and buy themselves some food.”
16 Jesus replied, “They do not need to go away. You give them something to eat.”
17 “We have here only five loaves of bread and two fish,” they answered.
18 “Bring them here to me,” he said. 19 And he directed the people to sit down on the grass. Taking the five loaves and the two fish and looking up to heaven, he gave thanks and broke the loaves. Then he gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the people. 20 They all ate and were satisfied, and the disciples picked up twelve basketfuls of broken pieces that were left over. 21 The number of those who ate was about five thousand men, besides women and children.
Some time passed. Maybe days. Maybe weeks, but then “it” happened again.
Jesus Feeds the Four Thousand
29 Jesus left there and went along the Sea of Galilee. Then he went up on a mountainside and sat down. 30 Great crowds came to him, bringing the lame, the blind, the crippled, the mute and many others, and laid them at his feet; and he healed them. 31 The people were amazed when they saw the mute speaking, the crippled madewell, the lame walking and the blind seeing. And they praised the God of Israel.
32 Jesus called his disciples to him and said, “I have compassion for these people; they have already been with me three days and have nothing to eat. I do not want to send them away hungry, or they may collapse on the way.”
33 His disciples answered, “Where could we get enough bread in this remote place to feed such a crowd?”
34 “How many loaves do you have?” Jesus asked.
“Seven,” they replied, “and a few small fish.”
35 He told the crowd to sit down on the ground. 36 Then he took the seven loaves and the fish, and when he had given thanks, he broke them and gave them to the disciples, and they in turn to the people. 37 They all ate and were satisfied. Afterward the disciples picked up seven basketfuls of broken pieces that were left over. 38 The number of those who ate was four thousand men, besides women and children. 39 After Jesus had sent the crowd away, he got into the boat and went to the vicinity of Magadan.
Then the next breath of Matthew:
1 The Pharisees and Sadducees came to Jesus and tested him by asking him to show them a sign from heaven.
2 He replied, “When evening comes, you say, ‘It will be fair weather, for the sky is red,’ 3 and in the morning, ‘Today it will be stormy, for the sky is red and overcast.’ You know how to interpret the appearance of the sky, but you cannot interpret the signs of the times. 4 A wicked and adulterous generation looks for a sign, but none will be given it except the sign of Jonah.” Jesus then left them and went away.
Can you process this. I want to invite you to process this. I try to put myself in the shoes of the disciples. I think to myself if I saw 5,000 people fed by five loaves and three fish, that would be a life changing moment for me. I would never doubt again. Then some time passes, and again a crowd has formed. Only 4,000 this time, and the disciples doubt. Matthew then continues in the same breath as he brings the Pharisees and Sadducees in to the picture asking for some sort of sign.
What is the difference between the doubting disciple and the doubting religious authority?
In processing all of this, I feel like there is something that I need to grasp in order to truly get who Jesus is. The funny thing about this “getting it” is that it comes with not fully getting it. Kels and I have been married for 5 and a half years now. Our relationship is still in process. When I think I have it all figured out. When I put pressure on myself and on her to have it all figured out. When I coast. When I take relationship for granted. When I put working on it on hold. When I simply look to “moments” or events as definers of relationship. I miss it. Our relationship is process. It is milestones but it is not just milestones. It is the singular moment, but not just one, it is the cumulation of all our singular moments.
I see the disciples raw doubt as a window into the process of faith. Doubt in a process that leads to relationship. At the same time I see the pharisees demanding a sign as an attempt to circumvent to that same process. If it was all about just learning the information we would have received a pamphlet not a person. If it was all about the information Jesus would have been much more upset in the moments that they didn’t get it, and would probably not give multiple opportunities. Instead, Jesus led the disciples in process a hundred different ways. He never required them to “get it”, although he got frustrated at points; he seemed to be some much more concerned with them understanding who He was than them being able to recite a bunch of things. There are milestones in relationship with Jesus, but don't put them as prerequisites to relationship with Jesus. For yourself or for others.
In this section of Matthew we see the disciples not get it over and over and over again, but those were not moments leading to breakup, they were part of process. When we read through the gospels and grab onto singular moments as the one to emulate or to get, we miss the point that relationship is process. When I see relationship as process, true relationship can really take place.
So I end with a challenge, how can you more deeply engage in the process of relationship with Jesus? Now this can end as a sunday school answer moment.
Read my Bible
I hope your answer is those, but remember answers are cheap application is where the value is. Don’t answer with what you know you should do, answer with what you are going to do. If I tell Kels that I will date her every day and I will cook every meal and I will sit and talk with her for 90 minutes every evening, but don't do it, don't even try the promise without application probably leads to a worse place in relationship than the situation where the promise was never made. I think it leads us to a moment that looks like the pharisees and the sadducees. So…
How can you more deeply engage in the process of relationship with Jesus?
Take It Deeper Questions
Read Matthew 15:29-39
What do you often tend to forget: names, birthdays, keys, appointments, directions? Why?
How does what Jesus is doing compare with Jewish expectations of the Messiah? (Isa 35:3-6)
Having already seen a miraculous feeding, how do you account for the disciples’ lack of faith?
When you face overwhelming situations now, how well do you remember God’s provision for you in the past?
What can you do to build greater faith and trust in Jesus?
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