The Gospel according to Matthew It’s one of the earliest official accounts about Jesus of Nazareth: his life, his death and his resurrection. The book itself is anonymous but the earliest reliable tradition links it to Matthew, the tax collector, who was one of the twelve apostles that Jesus appointed and he actually appears within the book itself. For about 30 to 40 years, the apostles orally taught and passed on their eyewitness’ account about Jesus along with his teachings that they had all memorized. Matthew has then collected and arranged all these into this amazing tapestry and designed the book to highlight certain themes about Jesus. In this video, we’re just going to cover the first half of the book. Specifically, Matthew wants to show how Jesus is the continuation and fulfillment of the whole biblical story about God in Israel: 1. that Jesus is the Messiah from the line of David; 2. that he is a new authoritative teacher like Moses; 3. and not only that Jesus is: “God with us” or in Hebrew “Immanuel”. Matthew’s designed this book with an introduction and a conclusion.
These act like a frame around five clear sections right here in the center each of which concludes with a long block of Jesus’s teaching. Now this design is very intentional and it’s amazing. Just watch how this works! Chapters 1 through 3: they set the stage by attaching Jesus’s story right on to the story line of the Old Testament scriptures. So Matthew opens with the genealogy about Jesus that highlights how he is from the messianic line of the son of David and he’s a son of Abraham. That means he’s going to bring God’s blessing to all of the nations. After that we get the famous story about Jesus’s birth and how all of the events fulfilled the Old Testament prophetic promises: that the nations would come and honor the Messiah; that the messiah would be born in Bethlehem.
But even more than that, Jesus’s conception by the Holy Spirit, his name Immanuel, all these work together to show that Jesus is no mere human. He is God with us. God becomes human. So you can see two of Matthew’s key themes right here in the introduction: 1. He’s from the line of David 2. He’s Immanuel. But Matthew also wants to show how Jesus is a new Moses. So like Moses, Jesus came up out of Egypt.
He passed through the waters of Baptism and he entered into the wilderness for 40 days. Then Jesus goes up onto a mountain to deliver his new teaching. So through all of this, Matthew was claiming that Jesus is the promised greater than Moses figure who’s going to deliver Israel from slavery, he’s going to give them new divine teaching. he’s going to save them from their sins. and bring about a new covenant relationship between God and his people.
This Moses and Jesus parallel also explains why Matthew has structured the center of the book the way that he did. These five main parts highlight Jesus as a teacher and he’s created a parallel. Jesus as a teacher, parallels the five books of Moses. Jesus is the new authoritative covenant teacher who’s going to fulfill the story line of the Torah. Now in the first section, chapters 4 to 7, Jesus steps onto the scene announcing the arrival of God’s Kingdom. And this is really key: the kingdom is in essence about God’s rescue operation for his whole world and it’s taking place through King Jesus. Jesus has come to confront evil, especially, spiritual evil and its whole legacy of demon oppression and disease and death. Jesus has come to restore God’s Rule and reign over the whole world by creating a new family of people who will follow him obey his teachings and live under his rule. So after Jesus begins healing people and forming a movement, a community, he takes his followers out to a mountain or a hillside and he delivers his first big block of teaching traditionally called the Sermon on the Mount.
Here Jesus explores what it looks like to follow him and live in God’s kingdom. It’s an upside-down kingdom where there are no privileged members. So the poor, the nobodies, the wealthy, the religious, everybody is invited and is called to turn to repent and to follow Jesus and join his family. Jesus says that he’s not here to set aside the commands of the Torah or the Old Testament, rather he’s here to fulfill all of that through his life, through his teachings. He’s here to transform the hearts of his people so that they can truly love God and love their neighbor, including their enemy. After concluding his great teaching on the kingdom, the next section shows Jesus bringing the kingdom into reality in the day-to-day lives of people. So Matthew’s arranged here nine stories about Jesus bringing the power of God’s Kingdom into the lives of hurting broken people. There are three groups of three stories. They’re all about people who are sick or have broken bodies or they’re in danger.
Jesus heals or saves them by these acts of grace and power. Then right, in between these triads, we find two parallel stories about Jesus’s call that people should follow him. Matthew’s making a point here: one can only experience the power of Jesus’s Grace by following him and becoming his disciple. Now, after Matthew has shown the power of the kingdom through Jesus, Jesus then extends his reach by sending out the twelve disciples who are going to go do what he’s been doing. This leads to the second large block of teaching chapter 10. Here, Jesus teaches his disciples how to announce the kingdom and what to expect once they do.
Many among Israel are accepting Jesus in his offer of the kingdom, but Israel’s leaders they aren’t. They stand to lose a lot if they repent and become disciples of Jesus. So Jesus knows they’re going to reject him and persecute his followers, which is exactly what happens. In the next section chapters 11 through 13, Matthew has collected a group of stories about how people are responding to Jesus and his message. It’s a mixed bag. So some stories are positive. People love Jesus and they think he’s the Messiah. Others are more neutral like John the Baptist or even the members of Jesus’s own family.
They make it clear that Jesus is not what they expected Then you have Israel’s leaders. They’re entirely negative. You have the Pharisees and the Bible scholars. They all reject Jesus together. They think he is a false teacher, he’s leading the people astray. They think he’s blasphemous, in these exalted claims he’s making about himself. But Jesus isn’t surprised or thrown by all these diverse responses. In fact, he focuses on it in the third block of teaching in chapter 13.
Here Matthews collected together a bunch of Jesus’s parables about the kingdom: like about a farmer throwing seed on four types of soil; or about a mustard seed; or a pearl or buried treasure. These parables are like a commentary on the stories that you’ve just read in chapters 11 and 12. Some people are accepting Jesus with enthusiasm, others are rejecting him. But God’s kingdom is of ultimate value, and it will not stop spreading despite all of these obstacles. So, that’s the first half of the gospel according to Matthew. Now, here’s a few more things to look for as you read through these chapters. Matthew’s presenting Jesus, remember, as the continuation and fulfillment of the Old Testament story lines. So, look for how he weaves in quotations from the Old Testament scriptures and what you’ll find is that they’re placed at strategic points in the story explaining more about Jesus and his identity.
So, stop take time to go look up these references and read them in their Old Testament context and most often you’ll discover really cool interesting connections. Lastly, pay attention to the types of people who accept Jesus and follow him. You’ll see that it’s most often people who are unimportant, they’re or they’re irreligious. These are the people who are transformed by their trust or faith in Jesus and follow him. It’s the religious and the prideful who are offended by him So how is this tension between Jesus and Israel’s leaders going to play itself out? That’s what the second half of Matthew is all about.