Saturday, October 29, 2016

An overview of Matthew's Gospel

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Matthew 21:5 “Say to the daughter of Zion, ‘Behold your King is coming to you, Gentle, and mounted on a donkey,
Even on a colt, the foal of a beast of burden.’”  

Recently I have been eating lots and lots of apples. In the area and region where we live, apple picking season means trips to apple orchards or events associated with apple picking. A few weeks ago my family and I went to two orchards and picked enough apples to equal out to roughly ten bags that one might purchase at a supermarket. My wife told me we would never eat all of the apples before they were spoiled. I took that as a challenge and as of this writing, I'm working on the final big bag. I've eaten a lot of apples in the last three weeks. Do you know though, I still like apples and look forward to eating another one? Yep. I know. Its weird. What can I say, I can't seem to get enough of fresh-picked apples!

When it comes to Jesus Christ, can we ever get enough of Him? At least it ought to be the case for the Christian. Whenever we consider the opening portions of the New Testament, four biographical, eyewitness narratives are dedicated to Him. Today I want us to consider Jesus Christ as He appears in Matthew's Gospel. 

Jesus Christ is the King in Matthew
Per the testimony of church history, Matthew was the first Gospel composed by the Apostle Matthew under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. According to scholar Robert L. Thomas in his book: "Charts of the Gospels and Life of Christ", Matthew 21:5 is key to understanding Matthew, since in it we find the phrase: "behold your King". 

Further inspection of Matthew 21:5 will reveal that Jesus' Triumphal entry into Jerusalem on a Donkey was a fulfillment of the prophecy of Zechariah 9:9, which reads: "Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout in triumph, O daughter of Jerusalem! Behold, your king is coming to you; He is just and endowed with salvation, Humble, and mounted on a donkey, Even on a colt, the foal of a donkey." Matthew's pattern throughout his Gospel is to quote Old Testament passages as proof of Jesus Christ as the Messiah King. One source has counted 50 Old Testament verses quoted in Matthew and 75 allusions, making it the Gospel which refers most often to the Old Testament. 

As we consider how Matthew unfolds the theme of "Jesus is King", we can note the following observations:

1. The birth narratives of Matthew 1-2 include a genealogy featuring Christ's bloodline back through King David and Abraham, as well as a visit from the Magi to worship the "King of the Jews" in Matthew 2:2. The birth accounts in Matthew and Luke pertain to Jesus' human nature, since He is God as pertaining to His Divine nature. 

2. Jesus opening sermon, the "Sermon on the Mount" in Matthew 5-7, is His Kingly address outlining the life of the disciple and what discipleship ought to look like with respect to conversion, growth and maturity and how the Christ-follower treats others and follows after Him. There are a total of five sermons or "discourses" of Jesus recorded in Matthew. Dr. Walt Kaiser of Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary has pointed out that at the end of each major teaching block in Matthew, we read the following refrain: "and it came to pass when Jesus had ended these things" (Matthew 7:28; 11:1; 13:53; 19:1; 26:1). 

3. We see Jesus entering into Jerusalem in Matthew 21 as the "King of the Jews" presenting Himself to Israel. He is also the "King of Kings" in what would be His final closing public sermon, the "Olivet Discourse", which features Him as the Judge of the nations, or "King of Kings". 

4. The superscription on the cross in Matthew 27:37 reads: "This is Jesus, King of the Jews."

5. Following His resurrection from the dead, we find Jesus stating to his disciples in Matthew 28:18 that "all power in Heaven and on earth" had been granted to Him. 

These are some of the key texts in Matthew which unfold for us the Kingly identity of Jesus Christ. As the King of Israel, Jesus Christ fulfilled the Old Testament prophecies that predicted a Divine and human King that would issue forth from David's bloodline and set Himself up over Israel and what will be ultimately, the whole earth (2 Samuel 7:13-16; Psalm 2; Psalm 110). The humanity of Jesus is highlighted in several spots in Matthew, such as the birth narratives (Matthew 1-2); His baptism and temptation (Matthew 3-4) and of course His crucifixion and resurrection (Matthew 27-28). 

More next time...

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