Kings sit on thrones in palaces. Kings wear royal clothes and crowns, and enjoy the best things the world has to offer. Kings make laws and command kingdoms. Kings don’t live and work among their people. The Gospel of Matthew is about a king, but he is a different sort of king. His family tree is traced back to the great king David, but he is born to an unknown young couple. Rather than a palace, he has nowhere to call home. He wears a crown, but it is made of thorns. He commands obedience, but loving obedience that comes from the heart. Matthew’s king doesn’t sit on a throne surrounded by a royal court; he spends time with sinners and outcasts. Matthew wants his readers to know one thing above all: Jesus is the King. He is the king who guides his people like a shepherd into his kingdom. He forgives them, offers rest to their souls, and promises never to leave them. Though he calls his people to follow him in suffering and the cross, he promises that this is the way to eternal life. Matthew also shows that Jesus is King through his actions. Storms are silenced by his voice. Evil spirits are cast out with a word. The sick are healed by his touch. The day is coming when he’ll return revealed in all his power and glory—the reigning and ruling, eternal King. Matthew wants his readers to know, follow, and be like the King.
Ideas for Following the King as a Family
- Ask your children what it means to be a king or, for young ones, have them draw a picture of a king. Affirm the things they’ll probably mention—like crowns and thrones —but then talk to them about how Jesus describes himself in Matthew 8:20 and 11:28-30. Tell them the story of Jesus entering Jerusalem from Matthew 21:1-11.
- Read the parable of the Unmerciful Servant (Matthew 18:21-35). Talk about what the servant in the parable should have done and why.
- Read the parable of the Workers in the Vineyard (20:1-16). Read it slowly, and before reading verse 9, ask your children which workers deserve to be paid more money. Then read verses 9-16. Use this as a way to talk about grace, which is getting more than we deserve—though sometimes less than we think we deserve.
- Read Matthew 5:3-12 together as a family. These “blessed are” statements are commonly called “the Beatitudes.” Talk about what it means to be “blessed” in the kingdom and how different it is than the kinds of behavior and attitudes we typically value. If your children are believers, ask them to share about difficulties they may have in living as Christians at school or with other kids in the neighborhood.
- Followers of Jesus are called to share the gospel. Read Matthew 28:18-20 together. This passage is commonly called, “The Great Commission.” Intentionally befriend the parents of your children’s friends (or a family in the neighborhood with children) who aren’t believers. Take time to get to know them and let them get to know you. Let them see the King through the way you live. Look for opportunities to share Jesus with them, and invite them to Sojourn gatherings. There’s no set time-line for this one.
- Have your children write down—or say—three things that come to mind when they hear the word “obedience.” Save their comments and then begin reading through the Sermon on the Mount over a few days paying special attention to the difference between obeying just to follow rules or keep from getting in trouble and obeying from the heart.
- Memorize the Lord’s Prayer together. Use it as part of family devotionals or as part of bed-time prayers.