Session #001 Meet Matt
Matthew, which means “Gift of God”, is mentioned twice in the entire gospel. As a tax collector, Matthew served King Herod Antipas, collecting tariffs on goods passing on the road from Damascus to the Mediterranean Sea. He is probably an educated man and wealthy through these means. Despised by Jews and considered a traitor, a tax collector is mentioned in the same breath as sinners (Matthew 11:19). He is referred to as Levi in Mark 2:14 and Luke 5:27.
Only Matthew refers to himself as a tax collector, recognizing and remembering God’s grace extended to sinners. From serving Caesar, he now serves King Jesus. From being a middleman for Roman government, he became a priestly mediator for Jesus. From keeping strict accounts for profit, he became a scribe to record the good news of Jesus Christ. From one despised, taking from others, he became God’s gift, giving to others.
Matthew and the Other Gospels
Matthew, the first gospel in the New Testament (NT), serves as a bridge between the Old Testament (OT) and the NT. The focus of the gospel of Matthew is the King and His kingdom. The kingdom of heaven (God) is mentioned 32 times.
From that time Jesus began to preach and to say, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” (Matthew 4:17)
Significance of OT in Matthew
There are more than 60 references to OT scriptures. “It is written” appears 9 times and “that it might be fulfilled”, 12 times. This is especially important and critical to Jewish audiences who were looking to the fulfillment of OT prophecies. Matthew spares no effort, led and inspired by the Holy Spirit, to declare Jesus is the One, the Messiah, the King who is to come. Jesus Himself declared that He did not come to abolish or destroy the Law or the Prophets but to uphold and to fulfill it. (Matthew 5:17) All Scriptures testify of and reveal Jesus. The OT is still relevant today.
Structure of Matthew
Broadly, this is a three-fold structure: Introduction: 1:1 – 4:16, Body (Galilean Ministry): 4:17 – 16:20 and Conclusion (Jerusalem Conflict): 16:21 – 28:20. Five major discourses which are not necessarily chronological are arranged by Matthew for the purposes of teaching and emphasis. All discourses end with “when Jesus had finished…”
7:28 these sayings
11:1 commanding His twelve disciples
13:53 these parables
19:1 these sayings
26:1 all these sayings
Discourse I: Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7)
Jesus as the new Moses who gives the law from atop the mountain of God. He calls all to kingdom righteousness and perfection. He gives the correct interpretation and application of kingdom laws and kingdom living.
Discourse II: Commissioning of the Twelve (Matthew 10)
Jesus as the new Joshua. As Joshua was commissioned as the new leader, so the twelve as new leaders of the kingdom, sent (apostles) into the enemy territory with power and authority. Jesus prepares His disciples to face challenges, opposition and persecutions. It will not be an easy ride.
Discourse III: Kingdom Parables (Matthew 13)
Jesus as the new and greater Solomon. The wisdom of the kingdom as expressed and understood through the kingdom parables outflows into the works of the kingdom. At the end of discourse, the people marveled at the authority and wisdom of Jesus (Matthew 13:54).
Discourse IV: The Church (Matthew 18)
Jesus as Elijah and the Church as the “called out ones”. Likened to Elijah and Elisha in the time of the divided kingdom, Jesus is rejected by greater Israel, supposedly God’s people. As new “sons of the prophets”, a separate community with true kingdom values and perspectives of humility, servanthood, grace and mercy, the Church with the spirit of the forerunner (Elijah and John), proclaims and prepares the way of the Lord, making ready His people.
Discourse V: The Olivet Discourse (Matthew 23-25)
Jesus as Jeremiah and Ezekiel. In Matthew 23:37-39, Jesus laments over Jerusalem, like Jeremiah did. In Matthew 24:1-2 Jesus departs from the temple, like in Ezekiel 8-11, where the glory departs, signifying the end of the temple system.
KINGDOM101 Emphasis and Key Lessons
God’s Word and prophecies are trustworthy. It also relates to end time prophecies for urgency and response. The authority and trustworthiness of God’s Word enables certainty, comfort, courage and cause. We need readiness, faithfulness and wisdom these days.
The gospel of Matthew is addressed to the Jews, God’s kingdom and covenant people. They were given the Scriptures and promises, but they were dull of hearing. They served a foreign system, but oppressed their own. They had wrong expectations of the Messiah, misunderstood and missed the King and His kingdom. How is the Church faring as God’s people? What kind of gospel are we preaching? What kind of lives are we living? Whose kingdom are we building?
Do we know our King? Who is Jesus to you? Do we understand the good news of the kingdom? Do we understand church in the context of kingdom? Do we embrace the kingdom through discipleship? Are we ready for offence and opposition?
The gospel of Matthew is a kingdom manual that will challenge and prepare us to serve the KING and to live for the KING, “101”, the need to go BACK TO BASICS.