Warren Wiersbe’s commentary of Matthew starts with these words: “Twenty or thirty years after Jesus had gone back to heaven, a Jewish disciple named Matthew was inspired by the Spirit of God to write a book.” (p.10)
It is this book that I would like to work through as we begin a new year.
Matthew’s emphasis is on whom the Lord Jesus was and what He said. It’s all about Jesus. It is so easy to get lost in the events of history to the point where one loses sight of the purpose of that history. The ultimate purpose of history is the wonderful plan of God for the salvation of humanity. This hinges on the Lord Jesus, Who He is and what he had done, and what He does today.
For Matthew telling the story of the Lord Jesus was more that an exercise looking at the past. The present and future impact of the Gospel was crucial.
Matthew starts with the book of Genesis, the genealogy of a man called Adam, the sad fall from God’s grace and the struggle of humanity to find itself, the hustle and bustle of life and the strife that sin causes in life. Interestingly enough, things have not changed much.
As we read through the Old Testament it is obvious that sin takes a toll in human relationships.
In Matthew we discover a transition from Old to New Testament, from the genealogy of Adam to the “Book of the generation of Jesus Christ” Matthew 1:1. This book is primarily written to Jewish converts and seekers, it proclaims the gospel in a clear and understandable way.
There are many at this time of year who are writing their CV’s, there is an art in writing such a document. It has to be clear and to the point, it also has to give its reader an overview of the person it represents. Not too short not too long. If you have ever compiled a resume, you will know how frustrating it is. Past history, qualification, attitudes, you need to sell yourself.
Matthew is writing a comprehensive resume for the Lord Jesus.
He starts with “This is the genealogy of Jesus the Messiah the son of David, the son of Abraham:” setting the scene, it’s all about breading- this is who the Lord Jesus is.
Why did the Messiah the son of David come? He came to save the generations of Adam.
1 Corinthians 15:45: So it is written: “The first man Adam became a living being”; the last Adam, a life-giving spirit. Everyone is a son of Adam, for Adam represents all humanity. We have no say in it. In the same way we could not influence the events of our birth or birthplace or our parentage.
Have you noticed that we may not be as free as we reckon we are; there is much that we do not and cannot determine about our lives?
When it comes to the Gospel we are given a choice. For it is by the choice of faith we can be born into the generation of Jesus Christ and become children of God. John 1:12 12 Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God.
Many years ago I was taught that the New Testament is revealed in the Old and it is the fulfilment of the Old Testament promises to humanity.
In the Old Testament God makes it clear that:
- God in the beginning was the first cause of all things!
- God is a God of relationships.
- Man was intended to have a relationship with Him.
- Sin, rebellion, disobedience were there in the beginning, Satan had already rebelled and he knew that the seed of rebellion was in the human creation.
- Sin is a choice, Eve was hoodwinked but Adam intentionally disobeyed.
- Sin separates us from God.
- Sin leads to death- physical and spiritual death.
For the first readers of Matthew these truths were not in dispute. They did not need to be convinced of sin, they were acutely aware of the sin condition that afflicted humanity.
In Romans Paul gives us an understanding of this.
Romans 5:12-14 12 Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all people, because all sinned 13 To be sure, sin was in the world before the law was given, but sin is not charged against anyone’s account where there is no law. 14 Nevertheless, death reigned from the time of Adam to the time of Moses, even over those who did not sin by breaking a command, as did Adam, who is a pattern of the one to come.
The New Testament speaks of life and not death. The message of the New Testament is that the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. Romans 6:23.
Another way of look at this is:- The Old Testament is a book of promise while the New Testament is a book of fulfilment. The word ‘fulfilled’ is a key word in the Gospel of Matthew and it is used at least 15 times.
Matthew wants his readers to understand that the Lord Jesus fulfilled the Old Testament promise concerning the Messiah; from his birth at Bethlehem to the resurrection! Matthew used about 129 quotes from the OT in his gospel.
The other night I listened to a Rabbi’s comments on the Gospel he didn’t see the validity of some of the OT quotes, from his perspective the Messiah it yet to come. Matthew wrote that he and the rest of the nation of Israel would see the fulfilment of the OT in the Gospel.
Matthew under divine inspiration started where people were at. From the known to the unknown, his Jewish audience did not have to be convinced about God, creation or sin. They did not have to be persuaded about the truth of the Messiah, nor of the events that took place in Jerusalem some years earlier. They had seen and heard of the miracles, some may have even witnessed the trial and crucifixion of Jesus.
They were yet to be convicted of the truth of who the Lord Jesus is and the revelation and revolution that the living Christ does have on a life! They needed to move from the academic to the subjective reality of faith! Life changing faith! The message has not changed and it is no different for sophisticated 21 century humanity.
Everything that has taken place so far is part of a much larger plan. One reoccurring theme is that of the Kingdom of God, the Lord Jesus being the key factor for entering that kingdom. The challenge is a real one, one that requires a moral and spiritual response from those who hear it.
The Lord Jesus was to the point when he said that He came to transform the hearts and minds of those who trusted Him.
- If we look at our own lives we will see that there is a journey that each one of us walks, we do not always understand why we make this turn or that turn.
- Every action and every experience and circumstance that we find ourselves in is designed to point us towards God.
God seeks to get our attention. How attentive are we to His call?