23 Mar 2015
In my analysis of the Gospel of Matthew, I found out that it was written with a focus on the King and His Kingdom. Significantly, the concept of the Kingdom that comes from the Greek word ÃŽÂ²ÃŽÂ±ÃÆ’ÃŽÂ¹ÃŽÂ»ÃŽÂµÃŽÂ¯ÃŽÂ± appears 55 times in the Gospel of Matthew, 55/126=43.65%. Jesus clearly said that "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me." (28:18). Likewise, the term "kingdom of heaven" transcends in the Gospel of Matthew by appearing at least 33 times. Interestingly, this phrase is found only in Matthew. In this sense, I believe that Matthew introduces the Christ and His Kingdom as the fulfillment of the messianic prophecies of the Old Testament. His approach to the way of salvation is a call to repentance for entry into the Kingdom, to a commitment of a person to the King as His follower. Jesus stated "many will come from the east and west, and sit down with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven" (Matt. 8:11).
It becomes clear that Jesus not only moves the meaning of the Kingdom beyond the Jewish community, but He also moves the mission of the Kingdom beyond family ties. For instance, when Jesus emphasizes on "whoever does the will of My Father" lays the meaning of Kingdom membership open to other people than the Jewish community. Jesus took His disciples to Caesarea Philippi to ask the question, "Who do men say that I am" (16:13). In this context He stated that He would build His church in the world. Another idea is if we are to be participants in the kingdom of heaven, then we are to live by the rule of the King.
a) The Lineage of the King
Matthew uses language that relates the rule of Christ to people's lives by mentioning the lineage of the King (1:1-17). The genealogy of Jesus is presented in three sections with fourteen periods for each. The summary marks off fourteen generations from Abraham to David, fourteen from David to the captivity, and fourteen from the captivity to the coming of Christ (1:17). Through this lineage God fulfills Hs promise to Abraham that in his seed, all the earth would be blessed and that the Messiah would come through the seed of Abraham. In addition, Matthew is showing Jesus as born of Mary and not begotten by Joseph (1:16).
b) The Birth of the King
The birth of the King is referred to in three ways. First, Matthew points out Jesus Christ as the Messiah (1:18). Second, Jesus is the Savior (1:21). Third, Jesus is Immanuel, meaning "God with us" (1:23). In verse 22 is a statement frequently used by Matthew: "that is might be fulfilled which was spoken by the Lord through the prophet, sayingÃ¢â‚¬Â¦" Matthew selected a passage from Isaiah which states that the birth of the Messiah would come through a young woman, and that His name would be called Immanuel, God with us.
Matthew quotes Isaiah as saying that the virgin will be with child, and will bring forth a Son (1:23). In Matthew, the word Ãâ‚¬ÃŽÂ±ÃÂÃŽÂ¸ÃŽÂÃŽÂ½ÃŽÂ¿Ãâ€š is interpreted as "virgin." The birth of the Jesus through a virgin is the biblical affirmation that God actually became man (1:25), and that God entered the world in the person of Jesus (1:21). Matthew affirms that Jesus Christ was born of the Virgin Mary. He also affirms that He was conceived by the Holy Spirit (1:18), which means that in some miraculous way the Holy Spirit ushered the life of the eternal Christ into the body of Mary and here a person was conceived and born who is the true expression of God and the one expression of true man, Jesus. Matthew affirms that the birth of Jesus was confirmed by the angel of the Lord (1:20-21), and contextualized by the Scriptures (1:22-23).
c) John's Announcement of the King
John the Baptist was upon the Jewish scene like a flaming voice from God. He came preaching in the wilderness of Judea, acclaimed by the people as a prophet of God (3:1). He saw himself as only a slave for the coming Messiah and as the voice to prepare the way (3:11). His ministry was respected and understood because people came from Jerusalem and from the total region to John's ministry (3:5-6). His baptism was understood as a baptism of repentance (3:11). Matthew notes the character of John the Baptist as the forerunner of the Messiah. John was indeed a voice of transition from the old covenant to the new (1:11-14). John announced that the baptism with the Spirit and the baptism with fire as superior to his baptism with water (3:11).
d) The Inauguration of the King
Matthew describes the transition made from John the Baptist to the proclamation of the Messiah Himself. John had been the announcer of the coming of the King and His Kingdom (4:12-17). In this passage, Matthew describes the context and content of His ministry. The context is Galilee with Jesus moving from Nazareth to Capernaum by the sea (4:12-13). Not only did Jesus begin His ministry in a setting where many people might hear Him, but His move to Capernaum from Nazareth was a breaking of the ties with His home and community. The content of the Jesus' message is stated in verse 17. Jesus preached the same message which John the Baptist had been announcing: "Repent, for the Kingdom of heaven is at hand" (4:17). The word "preach" is translated from the Greek word ÃŽÂºÃŽÂ·ÃÂÃÂÃÆ’ÃÆ’ÃŽÂµÃŽÂ¹ÃŽÂ½ that means the herald's proclamation. I believe that preaching is an announcement with both certainty and authority. Jesus proclaimed the gospel of the kingdom (9:35).
A significant emphasis in the Gospel of Matthew is the "church." In all of the Synoptic Gospels, the concept of church as ekklesia is found only in Matthew. It is clear that Matthew introduced the church as the fellowship of disciples who evidence the rule of Christ, or the reality of the Kingdom. In this sense, Jesus introduced the church in response to Peter's confession, as the ultimate redemptive purpose of the Christ. It was when He introduced it that Jesus also told His disciples of His coming death and resurrection. It seems appropriate to affirm that Matthew expressed the acts of God in salvation history. The church is not "parenthesis" in salvation history as we wait for the coming Kingdom of God, but it is rather the activity of the Kingdom of God in the world. It is this Kingdom that penetrates all nations, Jew and Gentile, to extend the grace of God to all people.
a) The Disciple Community
I believe that Jesus' strategy to establish His church was to develop a disciple community. He called a group of associates who would be with Him and learn from Him (4:13-21). Jesus began by calling Peter and Andrew (4:18). Matthew states that Jesus said to them, "Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men" (4:19). He was moving these men from their occupation as fishermen to recognize the vocation to be disciples. Jesus next called the two brothers, James and John, sons of Zebedee, from their occupation of fishing, asking them likewise to follow Him (4:21). At least the reference in Matthew tells us that upon Jesus' call, they immediately followed Him (4:22). Jesus called disciples who would in turn disciple others. He called them to be "fishers of men" (4:19). Jesus called disciples and asked them to put Him and His will above all else (8:18-22). Another clear example was the calling of Matthew, the tax collector (9:9). His calling to be a disciple places the authority of Jesus over occupation. Matthew gives the list of the twelve disciples called by Jesus and gave them power over unclean spirits, cast them out, and heal sicknesses and diseases (10:1-4).
b) Discipline in the Church
God has created man and woman under His image. The writer of the Gospel of Matthew highlights the events when Jesus ministered to women throughout the Gospel. The word ÃŽÂ³Ãâ€¦ÃŽÂ½ÃŽÂ· has two connotations. The first connotation of ÃŽÂ³Ãâ€¦ÃŽÂ½ÃŽÂ· with the meaning "woman" in the singular form appears 9/49 in the Gospels representing the 18.36%. The second connotation of ÃŽÂ³Ãâ€¦ÃŽÂ½ÃŽÂ· has to do with the term "wife." This term appears 14/35 in the Gospels representing 40%. The last connotation of ÃŽÂ³Ãâ€¦ÃŽÂ½ÃŽÂ· found in Matthew means "women." The times that Matthew uses the term "women" in his gospel are 5/15 representing 33.33%.
a) Jesus' view on women
The question that I have always had is: How did Jesus view women during His ministry? In my analysis of the Gospel of Matthew, I found several references that serve as evidences that Jesus had a clear perspective on women. In fact, prominence is given to four women who are named in the Messiah's lineage such as Tamar of whom Judah begot Perez and Zerah (1:3); Rahab who is spoken of as the harlot of Jericho in Joshua 2:1-7 (1:5); Ruth who was a Moabite (1:5); and Bathsheba the mother of Solomon, the woman whom David seduced, and whose husband Uriah he afterwards killed in an attempt to cover his sin (1:6).
Jesus elevates the status of women by stating that the marriage commitment is binding for life and that the only exception is immorality, which has already broken covenant (5:31-32; 19:1-12).
Jesus made no distinction between women and men even though He often addressed men, holding them accountable for their responsibilities.
Jesus not only preached and taught. Matthew records that He healed all kinds of sicknesses and diseases among the people (4:23-25). His ministry was one of restoring people to wholeness. The man who preached radical change, who announced the Kingdom, was performing deeds of mercy. He healed and restored common people to wholeness and elevated them to a sense of worth. He restored their spiritual well being as He preached and their physical well being as He administered healing (4:24). Matthew concludes this section to show how popular the ministry of Jesus actually was (4:25). This description is an affirmation of Jesus' popularity as a teacher. He attracted people from all over the land of Palestine to both learn from Him and to be healed by Him (4:24).
Furthermore, Jesus touched persons at their point of need and from that point of need led them to the experience of faith. The ten miracles reported in chapter 8 and 9 express Christ's authority over disease, over demons, over destructive forces of nature and over death. They were performed out of compassion and confirmed the authority of the Christ.
a) Healing Diseases
Jesus expressed His authority in miracles over illnesses and diseases. After Jesus came down from the mountain where He had delivered His sermon, Matthew says that great crowds followed Him and became witnesses to His deeds (8:1). Matthew inserts the story of the leper coming through the crowd and worshipping Jesus (8:2), and Jesus reached out, touched, and healed him (8:3-4). Then, the writer inserts the story of the centurion approaching to Jesus in humility and asking to heal his servant from paralysis (8:5-6). Without going to the man's home, Jesus simply said, "Go your way" and healed him that very moment (8:13). Jesus also healed Peter's wife mother that suffered from fever (8:14-17). There is another miracle over paralysis in Matthew 9:1-8 that is more brief than that of either Mark or Luke, emphasizing on the teaching and meaning of Jesus' acts. Later, Matthew shares three consecutive stories of miracles including the ruler of the synagogue, the woman with a hemorrhage, and the blind men (9:18-31).
b) Casting Out Demons
Matthew records the story of the demon-possessed. The Greek word ÃŽÂ´ÃŽÂ±ÃŽÂ¹ÃŽÂ¼ÃŽÂ¿ÃŽÂ½ÃŽÂ¹ÃŽÂ¶ÃÅ’ÃŽÂ¼ÃŽÂµÃŽÂ½ÃŽÂ¿ÃŽÂ¹ indicates the presence of demons inside of a person. Matthew states that Jesus cast out demons with a word (8:16). In another account, the story involves two men who were living among the tombs that presented signs of violence (8:28). The men were so fierce that people were afraid to pass near them. There is an indication that the two demon-possessed knew who Jesus was (8:29). Matthew records that the demons came out and went into the pigs and the pigs perished (8:32). Matthew gives us another testimony of Jesus casting out a demon in a mute man (9:32-33).
c) Miracles Over Nature
While crossing the Lake of Galilee a great storm swept down upon them. The Greek word ÃÆ’ÃŽÂµÃŽÂ¹ÃÆ’ÃŽÂ¼Ã¡Â½Â¸Ãâ€š means earthquake emphasizing the violence of the storm (8:24). The disciple had great fear and awaked Jesus to cry, "Save us, Lord; we are perishing!" (8:25). Jesus first tested their fear, emphasizing their "little faith" (8:26). He recognized the faith they had, and He rebuked the storm (8:27).
The Sermon on the Mount is recorded in Matthew 5:1-7:29. Matthew presents Jesus as the Messiah of word and deed. The sermon, as recorded by Matthew, includes numerous passages that Jesus gave, recalled by Matthew under the guidance of the Holy Spirit to give us a presentation of the teachings of Jesus. The message was given primarily to His disciples, although doubtless the crowd listened as he introduced the sermon (5:1-2). In presenting this sermon, I believe that Jesus called for a change in the thinking of the disciples about the Kingdom of God. Jesus calls His disciples to be humble (5:3), living with repentant spirit (5:4), showing meekness (5:5), longing for God (5:6), mercy (5:7), purity (5:8), peace (5:9), and gladness (5:11). The calling of disciples was a central aspect of Jesus' ministry.
a) The Influence of Being a Disciple
Jesus followed the beatitudes with two designations of the disciple: salt and light. I believe both designate a service beyond itself, and both are important in human experience. Jesus addresses them as characteristics of the people that live in His Kingdom. In my understanding, when Jesus says, "You are the salt of the earth" (5:13), it has to do with purity, preservation, and flavor. The disciple as the salt of the earth makes the earth more authentically as it should be. On the other hand, I understand that when Jesus says, "You are the light of the world" (5:14), it has to do with radiance, openness, and joy. What an incredible calling from Jesus to His disciples to be salt and light in the world. They obtain the light from the One who is the light of the world, Jesus. For this light to be seen we live openly in the midst of the world as His disciples witnessing His ruling and presence of His Kingdom. Jesus gives a clear reminder about the harvest. Sowing and reaping go on together. Jesus speaks on reaping the harvest of God's acts in salvation. The message to His disciples is clear: the harvest is great, the laborers are few (9:37). With this in mind, Jesus commissions His disciples to have influence over the world (10:5-15).
b) The Spirit of a Disciple
Jesus introduces us to some of the more important ethical teachings in the New Testament. The first is the prohibition against killing (5:21). He teaches that anything that leads to killing is sin, and He calls His disciples to be free from anger and take the initiative of reconciliation (5:23-26). The second issue that Jesus addresses is about adultery and the importance of keeping the covenant of marriage (5:27-30). The sacredness of marriage is emphasized in the prohibition against divorce (5:31-32).
Another teaching is that Jesus calls for honesty without the oath. In other words, the disciple is to be honest and trustworthy making the swearing of an oath unnecessary (5:33-37). In addition, the disciple is to live by the higher law of love and respond to the treatment he receives from others in a way that reflects the freedom and love of Christ (5:38-42). Jesus also teaches us on loving our enemies as an expression of Christ love (5:43-48). Not only that but He also calls to love on the very nature and practice of the Father (5:45).
There is a remarkable teaching from Jesus to His disciples in regards to the relationship between disciple and master. A disciple learns and identifies with His teacher, and the servant is not over His master. Jesus calls them to continue to learn from Him, to continue to follow Him, to continue to serve Him (10:24-25).
c) The Lifestyle of a Disciple
Having called the disciple to be mature in love, Jesus then turned to the matter of the lifestyle that a disciple should have (6:1-7:29). The beauty of this prayer, called the Lord's Prayer, has been the model prayer (6:9-13). In this sense, I believe that prayer is opening our lives to God. It is inviting Him to acts in our lives. Prayer is relational (6:9). For His Kingdom to come is the experience we can have of His full reign now (6:10). He always sustains us with provision (6:11). He forgives us of all of our sins so we can forgive our debtors (6:12). It is a prayer to deliver us from the evil thoughts and actions we have committed and are not according to God's purposes (6:13). Jesus also teaches that fasting is not to be a ritual, done by the calendar, but it is a voluntary time of meditation, or drawing near to God (6:16-18). In Matthew 7:7-11 there is a threefold command to ask, seek, and knock. These three words ÃŽâ€˜Ã¡Â¼°Ãâ€žÃŽÂµÃ¡Â¿-Ãâ€žÃŽÂµ, ÃŽÂ¶ÃŽÂ·Ãâ€žÃŽÂµÃ¡Â¿-Ãâ€žÃŽÂµ, and ÃŽÂºÃÂÃŽÂ¿ÃÂÃŽÂµÃâ€žÃŽÂµ are present imperatives in the Greek, which means continuous action (7:7).
Another important aspect that Jesus wants as our lifestyle is our attitude toward others (6:14-15). Also in chapter 18, Matthew shares some very searching words from Jesus on forgiveness (18:21-29). Jesus expects from his disciples to have clear goals in life. He said that where a man's treasure is, there his heart is. When one's goals are set on the eternal will of God, his values reflect the same (6:19-21). In fact, He states, "no body can serve two masters" (6:24). We should have clear that the disciple is to give undivided loyalty to the Master. On the other hand, I strongly believe that respect for others is an indication on our self-understanding. In this sense, Jesus asks His disciples to avoid prejudgment or prejudice from stereotyping people (7:1-6).
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