Jesus In The Book Of Matthew
(My Nephew; a fire-fighter in Wichita, Kansas, who obviously spends a lot of time with the Word and lives what he learns with his family and church.)
None of all the Gospel writers make a case for Christ quite like Matthew. His attention to detail and methodical writing style results in a book filled with all the evidence one needs to be sure that Jesus IS the long-awaited Messiah as prophesied centuries before. Written to a Jewish audience, Matthew carefully lays out his case leaving the reader with no doubt that Jesus IS the Christ and that He IS Lord and King. Let’s briefly examine three points Matthew uses to show beyond doubt that God’s Anointed One has come.
Matthew begins his case with Jesus’ lineage. As soon as verse 1 of the first chapter, Matthew ties Jesus to David and Abraham. Matthew 1:1, “The record of the genealogy of Jesus the Messiah, the son of David, the son of Abraham.” In this chapter, some of the most significant promises about the coming Messiah were given to these two men. In Genesis 12:3, God told Abraham, “And in you all the families of the earth will be blessed.” In 2 Samuel 7, God promises David that one of his descendants will sit on the throne, ruling eternally. The genealogy in Matthew 1 legally links Jesus back to Abraham through Joseph, His earthly stepfather. The genealogy included patriarchs, kings, and private citizens and would have carried a lot of weight with Matthew’s audience. No longer did they need to hold on to the promises of old because Jesus is the promise. Matthew then calls Jesus the Messiah three times in the first 17 verses because He is the Messiah, and the genealogy supports it.
Matthew continues his case by offering powerful evidence through fulfilled prophecies. Throughout the entire gospel, Matthew reminds the reader of the many prophecies spoken long before. Then, Matthew shows how Jesus is the fulfillment of those prophecies. A few to consider: Matthew 2:4, “And gathering together all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Messiah was to be born. They said to him, “In Bethlehem of Judea; for this is what has been written by the prophet: ‘And you, Bethlehem, land of Judah, Are by no means least among the leaders of Judah; For from you will come forth a Ruler Who will shepherd My people Israel.” This was spoken by Micah the prophet 700 years before its fulfillment. Matthew 4:13-16, “and leaving Nazareth, He came and settled in Capernaum, which is by the sea, in the region of Zebulun and Naphtali. This happened so that what was spoken through Isaiah the prophet would be fulfilled: “The land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, By the way of the sea, on the other side of the Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles—The people who were sitting in darkness saw a great Light, And those who were sitting in the land and shadow of death, Upon them a Light dawned.” Isaiah prophesied centuries before this happened. Lastly, in speaking of His disciples’ response to His betrayal, Matthew 26:31-32, “Then Jesus said to them, “You will all fall away because of Me this night, for it is written: ‘I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock will be scattered.” Zechariah spoke this prophecy approximately 500 years before Christ. Carefully comb through the pages of Matthew and find many more fulfilled prophecies. Matthew doesn’t just tell you what happened; he tells you what happened had been foretold, and by seeing the connection, you may believe.
Miracles are found throughout Scripture. From Genesis 1:1 through the book of Revelation, God has used miracles to prove His existence and power. In Matthew’s writing, Jesus’ miracles play an integral part in proving His deity. Miracles also show His compassion, His power over the physical body, the natural world, and the spiritual world. However, most importantly, they prove that He can perform the ultimate miracle: forgive sins. In Matthew 8, Matthew begins his section on miracles, moving them into the centerpiece of his argument. Jesus touches a leper and heals him in verses 1-3. He then heals a centurion slave in verses 5-13, then curing Peter’s mother-in-law in verses 14 and 15. Matthew then moves on from showing Jesus’ power over the natural body. Then Matthew shows Jesus’ power over the spiritual world by casting out demons in the “many who were demon-possessed” in verse 16. And then Matthew shows His power over the physical world by calming the storm in verses 23-27. These miracles are significant to Mathew’s argument. So Matthew continues to inform readers of Jesus’ incredible power in chapter 9. He heals a paralytic; He raises a girl from the dead. He heals two blind men, and in verse 35, “healing every disease and every sickness.” These would have greatly affected Matthew’s audience since many of Matthew’s audience were still alive when it was written! All of these miracles are a fantastic case for Christ. However, of all the miracles mentioned in these chapters, the most significant is found in the beginning of chapter 9. Matthew 9:2 Jesus forgives a man’s sins. There is nothing more important in all of human life. And these miracles mentioned illustrate that Jesus can forgive you of your sin! Out of all of the benefits people received in Jesus’ miracles, they pale compared to the benefit the world would receive through the miracle of Jesus’ resurrection. I’m confident the words of Matthew’s contemporary, the apostle John, ring just as true for Matthew’s gospel as they do for his own. John 20:30-31, “So then, many other signs Jesus also performed in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; but these have been written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that by believing you may have life in His name.”
These three points are not an exhaustive list of Matthew’s case for Christ, and much more could be said. Read through the gospel and let Matthew walk you through all the evidence you need to believe that Jesus is the Christ. But what’s great about Matthew’s gospel is that he does not just limit his gospel to giving evidence. He also wanted his readers to know what Jesus cared about, what He focused on, and what His priorities were while on earth. All three can be summarized with one word: Kingdom. Jesus’ cousin John the Baptist in Matthew 3:2 devoted his life to preaching this message, “Repent, for the kingdom of Heaven is at hand.” After defeating the devil in the wilderness, Jesus begins His preaching by saying, “Repent for the kingdom of Heaven is at hand” in Matthew 4:17. The kingdom of Heaven was atop of Jesus’ list. He taught more about it and emphasized it more than anything else. He wanted the world to know what this kingdom was, what it would take to enter into it, and what it would look like for one to be one of its citizens. The entirety of Matthew’s gospel is filled with the answers to these questions. Certainly, the word kingdom has multiple uses in Scripture. It can refer to nations, the church, or Heaven itself. Careful study of the Bible and the book of Matthew is necessary to determine which “kingdom” is under consideration. But first and foremost, the kingdom of Heaven is God’s reign and rule. It is His government, His authority, that He was coming to establish. The kingdom required Jesus’ divine sacrifice and the power of His resurrection to make it possible! It involves the church, but it’s more than the church. It’s the kingdom from Heaven brought down and established on earth through Christ that will one day be handed over to God in Heaven (1 Corinthians 15:24.) It’s the kingdom that Jesus is ruling over on His throne in Heaven. Being a citizen of this kingdom is a choice. It’s your choice, and you don’t have to enter it. But God wants you to, and He’s made it possible for you to be able to do just that. Enter His kingdom by joining His people and decide to submit to the King. Believe in Jesus, turn from your sins, confess Him as Lord and make contact with Jesus’ blood through water baptism for the forgiveness of your sins. And then follow the teachings of Jesus about kingdom citizenship behavior, beginning with the great sermon on the mount.
If you want to know Jesus and need proof for His life, or if you want to know what His mission was, then start where the New Testament starts. Read Matthew. Let Matthew walk you through from start to finish of Jesus’ life. Let the inspired writer’s words have their intended effect. God’s words convict, they touch hearts, and they change lives. The Bible may not have been written directly to us, but it was certainly written for us. The Bible was written FOR you so that you can be saved. So believe in the King and join His kingdom today!