Studying the Gospel of Matthew

The Gospel of Matthew is what Boo Scott has been studying, teaching, and preaching lately. On this episode of the Bible Study Podcast, Wes McAdams visits with Boo Scott, Lead Minister for the National Park Church in Hot Springs, Arkansas. Wes and Boo discuss the Gospel of Matthew.

Boo shares why the Gospel of Matthew is his favorite gospel account. He describes the unique picture and perspective Matthew gives us of Jesus. As a preacher and minister, Boo shares the themes and concepts he is trying to impart to others from this gospel account and how this book is shaping his own life.

The Gospel of Matthew can truly change the way you think about Jesus. It can change the way you live your life. We hope this conversation helps all of us as we learn to love like Jesus.

Links and Resources:

Transcript (Credit: Beth Tabor)

WES: Welcome to the Radically Christian Bible Study Podcast. I’m your host, Wes McAdams. Here, we have one goal: Learn to love like Jesus. I want to start today by reading from Matthew 22, starting in verse 35: “One of them, a lawyer, asked him a question to test him. ‘Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the law?’ And he said to him, ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the law and the prophets.'” 

Today our special guest is Boo Scott, who’s going to study with us about the book of Matthew. I hope you enjoy this study, and I hope, as always, it helps us all to learn to love like Jesus. 

WES: Boo Scott, welcome to the podcast.

BOO: Thanks, Wes. Thanks for having me, Buddy.

WES: Thanks so much for being here, Brother. I always enjoy spending time with you, and I appreciate the work that you’re doing in Hot Springs. We were just getting to catch up a little bit about that before we hit record. I did ministry in Hot Springs for quite a while, and so we know a lot of the same people and I know that you are blessing them, and it’s always great to know that people that you love are being blessed by other brothers and sisters in Christ, and I appreciate the way you and your family are blessing those good people there.

BOO: Thanks, Wes. Yeah, man, we love them. We love it here, and we love you and your family and are so thankful for all the work that you do. I read your blog all the time, just so you know. 

WES: Oh, thanks. Thanks, Brother. Well, we’re continuing this series on what people are teaching and preaching, and just kind of catching up with preachers about what’s on their mind, so let’s get into what you’re studying, what you’re preaching and teaching lately.

BOO: Yeah. I’ve been preaching over the Gospel according to Matthew. It is one of those gospels ‑‑ it’s my favorite gospel, by the way. I know a lot of people kind of gravitate towards John, which John is great, don’t want to slam John, but I really love the Gospel of Matthew because it’s like a stick‑it‑to‑the‑man gospel. It’s an anthem. It’s a protest against the religious system. You know, you got Matthew, a dude that was a tax collector. He’s a Jew writing to Jews. And just the way the gospel is formatted and its language, the people that he highlights, is just beautiful to me, and I think it has a lot to teach us in the modern church and a lot to teach us as modern Christians who have kind of settled in some ways, you know?

WES: Yeah, absolutely. Well, I’ve gotten to ‑‑ obviously, I haven’t been able to listen to all of your sermons this year and listen to all the things that you’ve said on Matthew, but I’ve got to go and listen to a couple of the most recent sermons, and I’ll link to some of those in the show notes. But you had a quote in your sermon from August 6th ‑‑ and I’m sure that in every sermon there’s multiple powerful quotes, but, man, this one was amazing, and if anybody has been listening to this podcast for any length of time, they know that I geek out on eschatology. And so you were talking about the resurrection, you were talking about the Sadducees, and I love the way you described their story that they gave to Jesus as a stupid story and they’re trying to trick Jesus about the resurrection and come up with a scenario ‑‑ 

BOO: Right.

WES: ‑‑ by which the resurrection wouldn’t make sense. But you really not only talked about eschatology and the renewal of all things and the resurrection, but you made that incredibly practical, and you said this near the end of the sermon. You said, “When you do the right thing, when you love your neighbor, you get a taste of resurrection. It’s like you can feel a part of you opening up to what you were created for.” 

BOO: Right.

WES: Oh, that was powerful, Brother.

BOO: Well, thanks. Yeah, I mean, I steal things from stuff I read and stuff I listen to, and those are things ‑‑ like that idea is something that I’ve just come to believe through my studies and through just different things I’ve read and ‑‑ but it’s true, and it plays out in every ‑‑ all of the literature, whether it’s narrative, whether it’s poetic, whether it’s a conversation, a letter written to somebody. Even in Paul’s letters you see this truth play out, that resurrection is now, like eternal life is now. It doesn’t happen the day you die. Your life carries on, like you’re just renewed, you’re remade. 1 Corinthians 15 talks about that spiritual body, that glorified body. You become like Christ, and it’s like this resurrection for the Christian, according to Romans 6, I mean, has already happened. You’re a new creation, and, therefore, you’re putting off the old things, you’re getting rid of the old things, and Christ and his Spirit is slowly forming you into the eternal person that you will always be. 

And so it’s ‑‑ yeah, when I think about how Jesus is talking to the Sadducees there, he’s like, guys, you’ve missed the whole point. Like everything is about resurrection, like all of it. Like you’re asking dumb questions about who’s married to who and all this mess that comes from the Jewish manipulation of laws and, you know, kinsmen, redeemers, and all this, and you’ve missed the point that, like, it is all about resurrection. Like it’s all about Christ and his bride, and there will not be marriage for eternity, and there shouldn’t be, because marriage is a temporary thing that points to God and points to the image of who we were created in. And marriage is a means to an end because we will be married to God, and that marriage has already happened, or at least we’re engaged right now like it were leading up to that wedding, but the promise is already there.  You know, we already ‑‑ the bride price has already been paid. Like we need to be preparing ourselves for this and thinking about this and adorning ourselves as that bride. And, to me, it’s just like Jesus is just looking at these Sadducees, primarily, and the Pharisees, and saying, guys, you think you’ve got it all together but you’ve missed the boat entirely. And that’s what the entire Gospel of Matthew is doing, basically.

WES: Yeah. I love how you drew out of the text the idea that our eschatology has practical implications for our life, that what we believe about the future affects how we live today, and if we believe that hey, it’s all just a mess and it will always be a mess and my only hope is just to escape out of this mess, then we’ll live like that. But if we believe that the end of the story is redemption and resurrection, a renewal of all things, that changes how we live. 

There was a lady I knew one time ‑‑ and this is the example I always like to use when I talk about this kind of thing, that ‑‑ she was a school teacher, and when she knew that the time change was coming up ‑‑ Daylight Savings Time was coming up, she would change her clocks to the new time at Friday right after school dismissed, so as soon as school was over on Friday, she changed her clocks to be ready for Sunday when the time would actually change, so she spent all day Saturday as a person out of time. She was an hour off of everyone else, but she was preparing for the time to come in the present tense. And that’s exactly what we’re doing. We are living as people who have already been resurrected prior to the redemption of our bodies, and I love how you described all of that.

BOO: Yeah, I love that. I like that analogy. That’s cool. I may use it, Wes, by the way. Yeah, you think about it, and, man, that thinking ‑‑ and I know our thinking aligns because I’ve listened to your sermons and I’ve read your blogs, and, you know, we may have even chatted about this before from time to time, I don’t know. But this idea that everything’s just gonna burn and it’s meaningless is ‑‑ I can’t wrap my head around that idea and have any motivation whatsoever here to preach the gospel or to live for Christ. Like, to me, to know that I’m a player now ‑‑ here and now and in eternity fuels my desire to be a player in that. And like what do you do with Romans 8? And what do you do, you know, with this idea that, like, even creation is groaning for the adoption of the sons of God? Like what do you do with that? And what do you do with, you know, Paul saying that all things ‑‑ all things ‑‑ are going to be made new, and John saying all things will be made new in Revelation 21, I believe? Like what do you do? Does “all things” only include our soul, like some ethereal, spiritual part of us? Is that what resurrection is? Resurrection, as far as I understand it, in all the Bible and in all history is literally a bodily resurrection. Now, granted, it’s not this body, but it is this body remade. That’s what resurrection is, and that’s kind of the point of, I think, Jesus’ teaching in that one instance is, guys, you’re asking dumb questions when we’re talking about everything. I mean, this is the mamajama. This is the big teaching of what I came to teach.

WES: Yeah. And I love that you took Jesus’ answer and you situated it within the larger story of scripture, that Jesus wasn’t just saying ‑‑ by saying that he’s the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, he’s not just pulling a verse out of context, that he’s quoting to them the whole story of Israel and that God is in the business of fulfilling the promises that he made to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.

BOO: Yes, Jesus is always intentional. Jesus never minces his words. Everything he chooses to say that we have written is very intentional and you can always track it back to somewhere. And I think everything ‑‑ I think everything in the Bible goes back to Genesis 1 and 2. Like I think all of it ‑‑ you can tie it all back to there, and, typically, when you hear me preach, I’m gonna talk about Genesis 1 and 2 at some point ‑‑ not every time, but a lot ‑‑ because it all hangs within that relationship that was severed and the original intent of God, the original relationship that we had with God and how God is pursuing us and pulling us back to himself ‑‑ and not just us, all things that were good. And, yeah, I love what Jesus says there. I’m not the God ‑‑ like he’s not the God of the dead; he’s the God of the living. Like you think he’s the God of some dead dudes that died a long time ago? These guys aren’t dead. What do you think? He’s making them look silly, and rightfully so.

WES: Yeah. You know, this kind of leads into the next quote I want to read before we even get to the next question. I apologize I’ve thrown all of these at you real quick, but you said this.  

BOO: You’re good.

WES: I think this was in your August 13th sermon. You said, “The Bible is a means to an end.” And I’m sure that, given the way that we think about scripture, maybe some eyebrows raised or some heads tilted to the side when you said, “The Bible is a means to an end. It should not be the object of our worship. You have fallen” ‑‑ or I think you said, “We’ve fallen in love with scripture, but we’ve missed the one to whom scripture points.” 

BOO: Right.

WES: Oh, that was such a powerful and important point that scripture is pointing us to a relationship, not pointing us to itself and so that scripture itself should not be the object of our worship.

BOO: Never. Wes, I mean, in my experience ‑‑ and I don’t fault anyone for this because I’ve been there myself, you know, and I know we’re all at different places, and I believe God’s hand is at work in everybody that has a minister’s life. But I’ve seen ministers abuse and ‑‑ lean upon their love of scripture and abuse that and use it in such ungodly ways, and it’s like we’ve forgotten the one who this is pulling us towards, and it is a means to an end. We’re not going to sit around for eternity studying scripture and memorizing it and, you know, talking Hebrew and Greek. Like I love examining the languages. I love looking through scripture, but that love of scripture is because I love God, like because it reveals God to me. It lets me know who God is. 

But more than my love for scripture, I love spending time with God and just talking to him and, like, just being still and being in his presence. And yes, scripture is involved in those moments, but, my goodness ‑‑ and especially, I think, with the restoration movement, there was such a jolt the other way of, you know, we gotta get back to the truth and we gotta get back to scripture that we ‑‑ you know, we inadvertently fell in love with scripture and forgot about God to some extent. And so it’s a ‑‑ it’s just a reminder. It’s a reminder that I have to give to myself all the time, is the Bible was a means to an end just as the cross was a means to an end. Sometimes we worship the cross when the cross, the entire time, was pulling us to a table, a table of communion with one another. And it’s ‑‑ we get lost in the pursuit of God, and it’s as if God is standing there knocking on the door like, dude, I’ve been standing right here the whole time, like don’t worship the objects. The Bible becomes an idol in and of itself.

WES: Yeah. Well, and I love that phrase, even, “a means to an end,” and God always has to be the end. 

BOO: Right.

WES: Our relationship with him has to be the end. Otherwise, whatever our end is is what we’re worshiping. And so, if anything ‑‑ and so often I think people use God as a means to an end rather than using whatever it is that he’s given us as a means to be drawn closer to him. I’ve even said, at times, that salvation is a means to an end, and the end is unity. As you said, it’s the table. It’s unity with God, reconciliation with him, and reconciliation with each other, that we are saved in order to be brought into communion with each other and with God. In fact, that quote was from your sermon on loving God and loving neighbor, about loving God with all of our heart, soul, mind, and strength, and loving our neighbor as ourself and how that’s the goal. That’s what we’re being drawn towards as opposed to simply knowing more about scripture as if that’s the end in and of itself.

BOO: Yeah. I mean, what good is it if we have everything right? What good is it if we’ve memorized every scripture? What good is it if we can spout truth and truth and truth if we don’t know God? I mean, Paul would say you’re a clanging symbol. You’re annoying, like, if you don’t love God and love your neighbor. And John would say if you claim to love God and not love your brother or sister, you’re a liar and the truth’s not in you. Like it simply can’t be done. 

And I love when Jesus responds to that lawyer because it’s so simple, yet so difficult, but he is essentially saying, like, you say you love God. Like, you love the law, you know the law through and through. If there was ever an expert in the law, it’s this guy talking to Jesus in this moment. But the way that you love God ‑‑ and he has the right answer. Like what is the greatest command? Love God with all your heart, soul, mind, you know, drawing from Deuteronomy 6. Like he knows the answer, but it’s like how you love God is by loving other people. 

I mean, the two ‑‑ pulling the two together from Leviticus and Deuteronomy and like ‑‑ this is what that looks like, and it’s hard, it’s challenging, but there is nothing else. Like there is ‑‑ if I don’t love you, Wes, like truly love you and want the best for you and want you to be successful and, you know, would be there and show you hospitality, like I can’t sit here and claim I love God. I can’t get up in that pulpit and claim I love God. I’m a liar. I’m an absolute liar. And I see preachers and brothers, like, drag other preachers through the mud and then sit there and proclaim to love God, and I’m like, no, you’re a liar. Like you are absolutely lying. You love the Bible. You love to be right. You don’t love God.  

WES: Wow. Yeah, that’s exactly right. That’s exactly right. Let me ask you this. What ‑‑ you said that Matthew is your favorite gospel. So what made you feel like now was the time, this was the place? Why are you preaching this gospel account right now?

BOO: So National Park, we’re growing numerically and spiritually, hopefully. We’re growing rapidly, and I believe that’s God at work in the midst of these people. And I tell them all the time, like my part in this is so small. They’re the ones doing the work, and it’s amazing to sit back and just see. And I pray for them every week. Like I dedicate Thursdays to praying for this body of believers, and I walk around and I touch every chair, and this is just something that I’ve started doing, and I pray for them by name, and I love them. And this church is very diverse. We’re coming from a lot of different backgrounds religiously and just, experiencewise, a lot of hurt and pain in a lot of different families. A lot of people that have felt like outcasts here and felt like they didn’t really belong to the church, that the church didn’t accept them either because of their past marital status or sins they’ve committed and things like that, and Matthew speaks directly to that. I mean, Matthew is an outcast. Matthew is a guy that is hated. He’s a guy that’s in a system and his own tribe and system rejects him. 

And so you read through Matthew ‑‑ I mean, right when you start, you start with the genealogy. Like he’s throwing in names that he shouldn’t be throwing in: Ruth, Rahab, Mary. Like scandalous women who would not be listed in Jewish genealogies, Matthew throws them in, and he does this intentionally and it’s just like page after page. Like here’s a centurion; look at his faith. Jesus says, I have not found so great a faith in all of Israel. It’s like ‑‑ and this dude is supposed to not have faith and it’s just in the face of all these religious elite who think they have it all together. And so it ‑‑ that’s why I say it’s a protest, it’s an anthem, it’s a stick‑it‑to‑the‑man gospel, and I resonate with that. I’m drawn to that kind of literature. 

When I read through Matthew and when I study Matthew, it’s almost ‑‑ like I sit there and try and picture Matthew’s emotions as he’s writing this, and, yeah, he’s, like, inspired by the Holy Spirit. I one hundred percent believe that, but his personality is showing through in everything that he chooses to write down, you know, or have written down. And so it’s this beautiful gospel that gives people coming from different backgrounds hope. Like it’s not too late for me. Yes, I may be married to my second wife, and, like, yes, maybe somebody wrote me off, but not according to Matthew. Like, yes, I may have had an abortion and, like, the church may have written me off, but not according to Matthew. Like ‑‑ and this, and I don’t care what congregation you’re at. This is the truth of every congregation. Some congregations may just be hiding it better than others. Our congregation doesn’t seem to hide it, which I appreciate. They don’t celebrate it, but they don’t hide it. And so Matthew gives us hope, and I love that we have the Gospel of Matthew, and that’s why I’m drawn to it and that’s why I think it’s pertinent for our time here at National Park.

WES: Yeah. Amen, amen. Are there any particular passages that you’ve found yourself going back to over and over again as you’ve preached through this series? Any passages that have really been meaningful to you as you’ve preached through this, or ones that you’ve tried to place a special emphasis on?

BOO: Yeah, the Lord’s Prayer. I mean, when Jesus teaches his disciples how to pray, I really focused on that, really because of my own personal study. You know, I think most ministers ‑‑ I write what I write, but then I have something going on in my own personal life that I’m studying and working on in my own spiritual ‑‑ my own relationship with God, and so, it’s ‑‑ you know, I kind of slowed down around that and spent a lot of time there, at least in my own head. Maybe not verbally, from the pulpit, but, in my own head, spent a lot of time surrounding the prayer because it’s just so beautiful and so, so important, just like the greatest command is. I mean, if you can get the Lord’s Prayer, or the Our Father Prayer, as it’s called in other traditions, and the greatest command ‑‑ if you can wrap your mind around those two teachings, like you pretty much ‑‑ you’re good to go. Like you’re gonna get most of the other teachings of the Bible without even trying if you can wrap your mind around those two, and so I really tried to slow down around those two. I get a little nerdy and geeky around some texts because I like to pull it apart and look at it and talk about how it’s written. I try not to do too much of that, but the people I study and the books I read, they like to do that, and I like to borrow from what they say and do the same thing. And so it’s ‑‑ but on the Lord’s Prayer and on the greatest command, it’s kind of a disservice to do that because they just need to be ‑‑ the Word needs to take on flesh in those two moments, really.

WES: So you’ve mentioned, a couple of times, other resources and books that you’ve read that have been helpful to you. Anything that you would recommend resourcewise that would help people with this study?

BOO: With the study of Matthew? I really haven’t read ‑‑ like I have a commentary that I always read by Jim Scherer. It’s just a New Testament commentary, very basic, simple language. Jim was a friend’s dad. He’s passed away now. It’s just a very, like, common‑talk commentary, which I really like. So I’ll read through it and take his thoughts and sometimes I use them, sometimes I don’t. But in my own personal life, I mean, talking about prayer, like the book “Praying Like Monks, Living Like Fools” by Tyler Staton is incredible. I’ve read through it three times now. We’re going to do a men’s book study over it here. It has changed my prayer life. He talks a lot about the Lord’s Prayer in that book, and it helped shape some of my teaching around that. 

There’s another book called “The First Will Be Last” by ‑‑ oh, what’s that guy’s name? Oh, D.C. Robertson. “The First Will Be Last” by D.C. Robertson, and so it’s shaped around like the biblical view of narcissism and he talks a lot about the Pharisees, Sadducees, priests, lawyers, the high‑elite people of the temple and kind of their mindset, and so that’s been really helpful in studying Matthew because Matthew’s pushing against that mindset, and so it’s an interesting book to read. 

But really, another good resource that I’ve listened to a lot and have enjoyed is The BEMA Podcast. You may have heard of that, B‑E‑M‑A.  It’s called BEMA Discipleship by Marty Solomon. He’s ‑‑ I don’t know what religion he ascribes to. I think he’s ‑‑ he may be Anglican, Orthodox ‑‑ I don’t know, but he’s brilliant and I love what he says, and he knows a lot of Jewish tradition and he talks a lot about that, and his Gospel of Matthew series is really good, so…

WES: Awesome.

BOO: I listen and I just consume a lot of junk, yeah.

WES: Well, that doesn’t sound like junk. Those sound like great resources, Brother. 

BOO: Yeah, a lot of stuff. Yeah.

WES: Well, you’ve kind of already touched on this a little bit, but how has this study changed you? How have you been impacted by your study of Matthew this year?

BOO: A lot. I don’t know how to talk about one specific thing. It has helped me be more gracious to people, for sure. It has helped me be more gracious to myself. It’s helped open my eyes to those who are seen as less than ‑‑ or maybe those who I viewed as less than. It’s helped me be more patient with people. And, really, kind of ‑‑ as I said earlier, as I read through it and as I teach it, I really try ‑‑ and if you listen to my sermons you kind of hear me say, like, put yourself in his shoes. Like put yourself in Matthew’s shoes at this moment. Like I’ve really tried to put myself in Matthew’s shoes and think about, man, what would it have been like to have every single person hate you, like absolutely despise you, think that you’re worse than sinners, and then this man comes along and says, “Follow me,” and you walk ‑‑ and it’s just like no bones about it, full acceptance. I know who you are, I know what you’ve done. Come and see what I will do through you. It’s just ‑‑ I mean, I get chills thinking about it, and this is the man writing these accounts. And so I try and ‑‑ as I read through it, I try and think about Matthew’s experience of Jesus. 

And then it highlights ‑‑ Matthew highlights so beautifully a certain characteristic about God. A characteristic about Jesus that we forget, I think, a lot of times is that he is longing for everybody to come to know him, not just the people that we think deserve it, not just the people that we think are welcome, like everybody. And we say that, but do we really believe it? Do we really put it into practice? Going through this gospel has helped me put it into practice. As difficult as that sometimes can be, it’s helped me tremendously.

WES: Yeah. Well, this has been ‑‑ this is already a rich conversation and there’s so much more I want to ask you. We’re going to take a quick break, but we’ll be right back.

BOO: Okay.  

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WES: Boo, I’m really enjoying this conversation about the Gospel of Matthew, and we’ve covered so much already, but here’s one of the things I want to find out from you is, what do you kind of hope that the congregation has learned intellectually? You know, what do you hope that they’re learning now through this series that maybe they didn’t know before or understand before?

BOO: Really ‑‑ well, it’s kind of what I spoke to a little bit, is that God wants them. Regardless of where they’re coming from, that God wants them and God is pursuing them just like he pursued Matthew, and that God can do great things through them regardless of where they’re coming from, regardless of what society says about them, regardless of what maybe the church or spokesmen for the church have said to them in the past. You know, as a preacher, you hear everybody’s hurts and you hear everybody’s struggles, at least those willing to share them with you, and people have been really hurt by different religious organizations and by the world, you know? And sometimes they have come to believe that they don’t have hope, and I want them to take hope away from the Gospel of Matthew. 

And, two, I want it to help shape our culture here and shape our community as truly being authentic and truly being the church. And I said this to you, I think, before we were recording, Wes. I tell my congregation all the time, like, I’m not here to play Christianity. I’m not here to just have a job. This is not just a job to us. And I say “us,” me and my wife, like this is not just ‑‑ it’s too challenging and too difficult to do as a job. Like I’ll go do something else. But our heart’s in it. We love these people. We’re excited about the potential here. And the Gospel of Matthew helps propel us towards that authenticity and towards truly being a community that doesn’t shun each other but actually wraps each other in hugs and helps each other and bears each other’s burdens and shares joys and shares sorrows, and all because of Christ, I mean, all because of who he is and what he’s done for us. Like if we truly believe that and we truly believe that the things happened that we see Matthew recording, then that changes ‑‑ it should change everything for us. It should absolutely change our entire lives and the ways that we do church. And so that’s my hope. It’s one stepping stone, in my hope as a leader here, to get us to a place where we look more and more like Christ. 

WES: Yeah.

BOO: And I don’t care if we grow to a thousand; I don’t care if we stay at 200. It does not matter to me. I want us to look more like Christ and to be the church, and Matthew helps us get closer to that, I think.

WES: Well, you know, it’s funny ‑‑ and I don’t know what you’ll think about this analogy, but the more I hear you talking about Matthew and about your own ministry and about Jesus and about the first being last and the last being first and the stick‑it‑to‑the‑man nature of the Gospel of Matthew, it makes me think of David, when David was anointed by Samuel and he was rejected by Saul, and he was fleeing from Saul and he was gathering to himself all of the misfits, all this ragtag bunch of nobodies, this small group, this small band of followers that he has. And, in reality, David and his small band of misfits, they are the true Israel. They are the real nation of Israel. But from all appearances, you would say, oh, no, they’re not the real Israel. Saul is the real Israel and all these tribes that are following Saul. I mean, he’s the actual king. This is the actual kingdom. And what we’re seeing in David is, no, this is God’s man, this is God’s choice, this is God’s pick, and this small group of losers and outcasts and marginalized ‑‑ 

BOO: Right.

WES: ‑‑ people, this is the real Israel. And that’s what I think we see in Matthew. And it’s so ironic, I think, that Matthew is such a Jewish gospel. I often tell people that the way the gospel is presented is that the most Jewish thing you could do is follow Jesus, that he is the Jewish Messiah. This is the true Israel. But from all appearances, Jesus is a nobody. He’s this carpenter’s son who’s running around with this small group of misfits, of outcasts, of sinners, of marginalized people, and this is the true Israel. This is the true nation that God has chosen, not the religious elites, not the powerhouse. And I love the way you’re talking about how that translates into our modern society and that that’s still the case, that we are still the nation of God, we are still the kingdom of God, and even when we are, and especially when we are, these misfits and outcasts and, from the world’s perspective, these nobodies and people that have been rejected, and Jesus has gathered us as the true chosen people of God.

BOO: Yes. Yeah, I love it. And Matthew even paints Jesus as an outcast. And that’s the whole point of the first several chapters of Matthew is to point to Jesus, this outcast, as the Messiah, this nobody from Sticktown, like this guy that went through the horrible childhood of being pursued and wanting to be killed, and his mother and earthly father just went through, you know, horrible situations in poor poverty. And then, yeah, he gathers this team of misfits, and it’s just ‑‑ it’s quite beautiful, but it is so ‑‑ it’s so counter ‑‑ it’s opposite of what we are drawn to. 

You know, we’re drawn to a body that is flashy and showy and has it all together. We’re drawn to a church that has all the amenities that we can enjoy, and church, in our day and time, has become a consumer product. It’s just another product that we’re offering people so many times, and it’s like come here, enjoy this. The sermons are amazing, you know, like ‑‑ and you can consume all these different things and then you can go about your business. And Matthew paints a picture of a body of people that are traveling together, that are sacrificing for each other, and they’re following this Messiah who is all in for them and who’s laying down his life for them, who’s touching the dirtiest, no‑good people, entering into the dirtiest, no‑good situations and bringing life where there is death. And, man, we have missed the boat on that. I’m speaking personally here. Like church has become something, even for me, that I consume. I want the church to look a certain way and be appealing to a certain class and group of people. And, to me, Matthew just reminds me of, no, Boo, like the church is about bringing life where there’s death. It’s about bringing resurrection and hope where there is none, and you’re not really following Christ unless you’re doing that because that’s what Christ is doing. If you’re not doing that, then you’re ‑‑ I don’t know what we’re doing. We’re just another business. We’re just another product, and I don’t have time to do that. I don’t want to do that.

WES: Yeah. Well, it’s amazing how easily and how naturally we seem to default ‑‑ religion seems to default to that because I think that’s the flesh. That is what we do in our flesh. We default towards power, towards prestige, towards earthly honor, human honor, being honored by man. We default towards wealth. We default towards something that’s flashy and showy and that’s visible and how ‑‑ it’s everything that you said that we started with ‑‑ that quote that we started with, that when we love our neighbor as ourself, when we live out this new creation, we are living as we’re created to, but the only way to do that is through the power of the Spirit, and we’re not gonna be able to do that by the flesh.  The flesh will always default to these humanistic ‑‑ these human ways of doing things.

BOO: Right. Yeah, absolutely. And that’s so much easier said than done. You know, I would love to always default to the Spirit. And we had one of our elders get up the other morning and he opened us with prayer, and his prayer was simply like, Spirit, come into our midst and do what you’re going to do today. And I was like, oh, thank you. Like just a simple reminder of, yes, like, allow ‑‑ I want the Spirit to lead me because, you know, as a preacher, the temptation is to get up and you want to be good and you want to be powerful and you want to be known, and I have so given up on all that. I have so quit. I just don’t care anymore because that kind of stuff will eat your lunch and cause you to be ineffective in local work. Yeah, you may be known around circles and, yeah, all this stuff, you know, and you may get asked to speak a million different places, and I just ‑‑ I can’t follow that kind of thinking anymore, and it kills local work and it kills the local church, especially if you’re leading that church.

WES: Yeah. One of the things I love about your preaching and this conversation is that nothing stays merely academic or intellectual. It’s all about how this information leads to transformation and how people are being transformed by what they see and what they know in Jesus. So what sort of transformation are you hoping that people experience? How do you hope that they apply these lessons that you’re bringing to their everyday life?

BOO: Well, I’m hoping that they start to lay down their lives towards their spouses and start to submit to one another out of reverence for Christ. You know, Ephesians 5:21, like I hope that they start to lay down their lives for their children. I hope they start to lay down their lives for their brothers and sisters just as we saw Christ did. And, yeah, we can examine the text all day, and I love that as much as the next person, and I love finding gold nuggets within scripture, and it’s like, ooh, look at this. Those things transform me, and I share them with the hopes that they’ll transform other people because it’s such a beautiful truth that God has planted there. But yeah, it’s useless if we don’t do anything with it. It’s useless if it doesn’t change us. 

And so we have a lot of people, just like every congregation, struggling in their marriages, struggling in their families, struggling with school. We have kids struggling with self‑esteem issues, with, you know, just who they are as a person, and I want them to all center that around Christ and what he’s done for them and the image that he created them in and the value that they have simply because God speaks that value to them, not somebody else speaking value to them. And I think this is what the Pharisees and the lawyers and the priests struggled with, was they’re speaking value into each other and they’re ‑‑ you know, they’re puffing themselves up, and Jesus says you’re like a whitewashed tomb. Like you look great on the outside, but inside you’re full of dead bones. It’s like we have to get ‑‑ we have to quit putting on the facade when we come in the church building, this family facade of we’ve got it all together, we don’t have struggles in our lives, and then we go and we deal with it privately, when the gospels are calling us to be that community and to rely upon each other and to be real and to be authentic and to love each other and to lay down our lives for each other. 

Selfishness and pride ‑‑ and I was just talking to somebody about this this morning. A lady came in and we were kind of counseling with her and we were talking about selfishness and pride. Selfishness and pride, I think, are the two things that are preventing us from being who Christ wants us to be because we either want it our way or we’re too prideful to lay it down. And I think when we truly understand who Christ is, especially in the Gospel of Matthew, you can’t help but fall in love with him and you can’t help but see how much he loves you, and then that love fuels your love for other people, especially your wife, especially your husband, and especially your kids, but, also, especially your brother and sister in Christ. They’re not just some other citizen. They’re not just somebody you pass by in the store. Your brother and sister in Christ are a part of this intimate community that you share life with and that you share joys with and you share burdens with. And so this is sort of the underlying tone of everything I say here and everything I preach.  I’m always gonna pull us back to remember this because I have to be reminded of it, as well.

WES: Yeah, yeah, absolutely. You know, as I think about when I preach and teach, there’s never a time where I don’t think I wish I had said this, I forgot to say that, or I should have said this differently, or I wish I had known this when I preached that particular sermon; I learned something that I didn’t know before. So if you went back and retaught some of the things that you’ve already taught this year, is there anything that you would change or add to it or take away from it or develop differently?

BOO: I don’t know. I know I’ve had those moments, as well. I don’t recall what they are because, you know, I move on to the next ‑‑ 

WES: Right.  

BOO: You’ve got to write so many lessons, I’m just constantly writing lessons. But no, I don’t really think so. I mean, there probably would be some things, but you’ve probably experienced this, as well, Wes. Like some of my dumbest sermons, at least from my perspective, are like the best received, and the sermons that I have, like, polished and I’ve worked so hard and I’m like this is gonna be amazing, life‑changing, it’s like, wah, wah. It’s like okay, I’m just gonna let God do what he’s gonna do, and I don’t really ‑‑ yeah. 

WES: Totally understand that. 

BOO: Yeah, so I don’t know that there’s anything I can change, yeah.  

WES: Well, and I think that’s why maybe you’re answering the way that you answer is that you approach Jesus and you approach the text with such humility, and I think that when you do that, you know, then you can move on to the next thing. And there’s always more to learn. There’s always more to discover in the text, but you approach Jesus and you approach the way that you preach and teach with such humility. That’s one of the things that I appreciate about you so much.

BOO: Yeah. And, you know, there’s things I’ve taught in the past that I don’t even believe anymore. Like, you know, there’s things I taught years back that, like, my beliefs have changed on them. And I’ve told this congregation ‑‑ and I think it’s a healthy thing to do, at least from my perspective, is like, hey, I may teach you things that are wrong. Like I may ‑‑ a hundred percent may stand up here and teach you things that are absolutely wrong, but I can only do what I can do, and I’m just ‑‑ I’m gonna try my best to not mess this up, try my best to allow God to work through me because I don’t know everything. I don’t know the Bible through and through. Like there’s no way. I’ll explore it the rest of my life and go to my grave with so many questions and be arrogant and ignorant. 

And I think that’s the lawyer’s point, is like, you think you know it all, but, dude ‑‑ and the Sadducees. Like you think you’ve got it figured out, but you’re idiots. Like, you know, the lawyer asks Jesus, well, then who’s my neighbor? It’s like, you dummy. Like everybody is your neighbor. Like get it together, man. And it’s ‑‑ and I know there’s things that I teach that very well could be wrong, but I try to preface them as such just to make sure. Like, hey, study this on your own.

WES: I tell people all the time that I hope it’s still me, but you should have a different preacher a year from now than you have today. Like I should be a different person a year from now than I am today. If I’m the same person a year from now that I am today, I’m not doing what I preach because I want everybody to be becoming someone new in Christ through the Spirit. So if I’m not practicing that, if I don’t know things a year from now than I know now, if I’m not more developed and more transformed by the Spirit of God a year from now than I am now, then I’m not doing something right. And so I think sometimes we all say we want to grow, but we don’t want to change. And those two ‑‑ that can’t be the case. That’s a paradox. You have to be able to change in order to grow. We have to let go of who we are and be okay with the fact that I don’t know everything that, hopefully, one day I will know, and I’m not the person that, hopefully, I will be a year from now.

BOO: Yeah, I love that. That’s a good mindset, for sure. I think that’s, too, why I would always be terrified to write a book because it’s like then it’s set in stone and it’s like ‑‑ 

WES: Yes.

BOO:  ‑‑ I may not believe that later, yeah.

WES: I’ve got a couple of those up on the shelf right there that I’ve taken out of print because I’ve changed so much, I cringe when I read it, and that’s the way it is with any sermon that I preach. You know, any sermon I preach at least a month ago or longer, I listen ‑‑ 

BOO: Right.

WES: ‑‑ to it and I think, oh, I would have said this differently or I don’t believe that anymore or I’ve learned something a little bit different since then.  But anyway, that’s the beauty of the grace and mercy of God. I always say that if our words are sweet, they will taste better when we have to eat them. That’s why we always have to be kind and loving because we may have to eat those words later and it’ll be a whole lot easier if we weren’t dogmatic and cruel when we said it the first time.

BOO: A hundred percent, yeah, and people see through that. I mean, people know. If you genuinely love them and if you are up there to, like, promote yourself and your knowledge, people see through that in five seconds. It doesn’t take them long at all, and so it’s a waste of time to try and act like we have it all together and we know it all. It’s just a waste of time.

WES: Yeah. Well, I mean, and to your point about scripture, even our preaching is a means to an end, and the end is Jesus, and so, hopefully, that’s what we’re doing, is we’re pointing people towards Jesus. So thank you for pointing people to Jesus the way that you do, Boo. 

Let me ask you this before we close. What’s next after you finish preaching through Matthew? I know you’re getting fairly close to the end. What are you planning on preaching next?

BOO: Yeah, we’re gonna do some Old Testament. I like to bounce back and forth. We’re gonna look at Jonah and walk through Jonah. And then after that, we’re gonna do a series on communion. This congregation is ready for that series, and I really want to help start some conversations surrounding the Lord’s Supper and the ways we practice it and how we can form our worship around his table. But before we get to that ‑‑ I’m excited about that one, but before we get to that one, we’ll look at some short stories in the Old Testament, which I love, and I’m excited about those, as well.

WES: That’s awesome. Well, thank you for this conversation, but more importantly, thank you for your work in the kingdom, Brother.

BOO: Thanks, Wes. I love you a bunch, Bud.

WES: Love you, too, Brother.

Thank you so much for listening to the Radically Christian Bible study podcast.  If you have just a moment, we would love for you to rate and review the podcast on iTunes, or wherever you’re listening.  It really does help people find this content.  I also want to thank the guests who join me each week; Travis Pauley, who edits this podcast; Beth Tabor, who often volunteers her time to transcribe it; and our whole McDermott Road church family, who make it possible for us to provide this Bible study for you.  Now let’s go out and love like Jesus.

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