Mathew wrote the book of Matthew to enlighten the Jews to Jesus as the Messiah fulfilling the old testament prophecies. Matthew must have had a large heart of love for his Jewish family, to write to them with care and creativity the prophecy of their new identity in Messiah. The theme of Matthew pours from the heart of Matthew in obedience to love God with all your heart and Love kingdom people, The book of Matthew tells of the birth, Ministry, life, death and resurrection of Jesus.
Matthew prepares the Jewish people to receive Jesus with the story of His birth, including the genealogy in Matthew 1:1-4:11 and tells the story of Jesus’ birth. Here he recites prophecy from the prophet Isaiah in chapter seven verse fourteen, “Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel, (God with us).” The Magi visit the toddler Messiah in Bethlehem and Matthew reminds the Jews where the prophet has written, “But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; for our of you will come a ruler, who will shepherd my people Israel.” (Matthew 2:6 New International Version) The mission of Matthew to his neighbors and friends, the Jewish people must have excited to read the connecting prophecies announcing that Jesus is the Messiah.
The gospel of Matthew goes on to tell the stories of Jesus with the gift of Jesus’ words. The words of Jesus enlighten the pages of Matthew and I wondered if Matthew had written them down as Jesus spoke. Did he walk with Jesus with his writing tools or did he remember each word? The message and ministry of the King are recorded in Matthew 4:12-25:46, so many stories of healing and teaching that begin after Jesus was baptized by John the baptist, and then lead by the Spirit and tempted in the wilderness.
Jesus taught that He did not come to abolish the law but fulfill it. Jesus taught that murder was more than the killing of the body, it was also killing the soul with anger. The Sermon on the mound showed everyone guilty. The law as Jesus’ words tell of a law that no one can keep, however the Pharisees added to the law in a way that made their traditions, law and Matthew wanted to write for the Jews who were working to keep up with the added law of the Pharisees. The washing of hands before eating was a tradition that the Pharisees put into law written in Matthew 15. All these added rules and regulations burdened the Jewish families. Matthew shares his story of freedom that he left everything behind to follow Jesus. (Matthew 9:9-13)
Like the Jews in Matthews day, people in the church carry extra rules and put those loads onto others in ways that make it seem that it is Biblical. Matthew writes the stories of Jesus criticizing the Pharisees on how they presented themselves appear as perfect and sinless on the outside and wicked and cruel on the inside (Matthew 23). This is a good word to the church today, as we work in our busy lives and ponder, how are we meeting with Jesus and cleaning out our insides? In Matthew 9:9-12, the Pharisees segmented way of life ignored groups of people, with the baggage of only certain people belong, and taxpayers were out. Jesus invites everyone to come and eats with the taxpayers.
No wonder that Matthew wrote so much about Jesus and the Pharisees, he was a tax collector condemned by the Pharisees and accepted by Jesus. Jesus walked passed the Pharisees and a Sadducee, who were the political and religious leaders, opened the gate and welcomed everyone. The Pharisees were angry with Jesus, because they wanted to be God. Matthew, welcomed by Jesus, knew God’s extravagant love, a love that is for everyone, including our enemies,“You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.” (Matthew 5:43-44, NIV)
The Kingdom of God and the Kingdom of heaven is described in collected in parables in Matthew 13. It is like a mustard seed, a man who sowed good seed, like a hidden treasure, like a net that was let down and caught lots of fish, these comparisons are treasures that are only seen by the one who sees the Kingdom.
Matthew 26:1-28:20 is the death and resurrection of Jesus where Jesus, who had no sin became the sacrifice for all of our sins that I could never erase on our own. Jesus was betrayed by Judas for 30 pieces of coins, put on trial, beaten, crucified between two robbers. Matthew proved the death of Jesus within the prophecy. I believe that Jesus was born, murdered and resurrected and walk around seeing thousands of witnesses, however understanding the book of Matthew in all the prophecies proves Jesus is the Messiah, but without love, I cannot live the way Jesus lived.
When I compare my suffering with the suffering of Jesus, I belittle my suffering. When I live through my suffering, feeling and knowing that Jesus, my God suffered and knows the pain, I live in the love of Jesus. I love the cross as much as the resurrection both belong, because both are important for salvation, transformation and living in, loving God, my neighbors and my enemies.
Matthew pulled the prophecies into the life of Jesus, he told his own story as an outcast transformed into a disciple, Matthew proved that Jesus was the Messiah. God’s word is a precious read, each and every word is a light to hear God’s voice and live the way Jesus taught through His life. I appreciate the book of Matthew more as I put myself in his shoes.