Matthew was a disciple of Jesus. His other name was Levi. Jesus called him from his tax office, and changed him from a public sinner and outcast into Saint Matthew, a citizen of the kingdom of heaven. The kingdom of heaven is the theme of this book--as well as the major theme of Jesus' preaching. Matthew begins his Gospel with a genealogy that introduces Jesus as the King, a descendant of Abraham and of King David. In chapter two, the visit of the mysterious Magi reinforces and universalizes his kingship. Jesus is the promised Messiah. His birth, his life, and his ministry fulfill Old Testament prophecy. Matthew may have had Jewish readers in mind when he wrote, but his Gospel proclaims Jesus to be the universal King and Savior.
This book contains five blocks of teachings, each identified by the concluding phrase, "When Jesus had finished saying these things..." [chapters 5-7;10; 13;18;24-25]. These teachings are directed primarily toward his disciples. The most famous of these teachings is the Sermon on the Mount (5-7). This has been called the "Constitution of the Kingdom of Heaven." The flow of events in this gospel is the same as that of Mark's Gospel and similar to that of Luke. For this reason, these three Gospels are called the “Synoptic Gospels.” As we study Matthew, may we welcome Jesus as our King and build our lives on the Rock by hearing and obeying Jesus' words.
THE GENEALOGY OF JESUS
Key Verse: 1:1,17
1. Jesus Christ, son of David and Abraham (1-6,17)
This genealogy divides Israel's history into 3 periods: From Abraham to David; from David to the exile; from the exile to Jesus. It is the genealogy of King Jesus. In Jesus, God fulfilled his promise to David to establish his kingdom forever, and his promise to Abraham to bless all people through his offspring. From the time of the exile, the low point of Israel's history, people longed for the promised Messiah.
2. The women (3,5,6,16)
There are 5 women in this genealogy: Tamar, Rahab, Ruth, Uriah's wife, and Mary. Each of them reveals one facet of God's amazing grace and each has a special kind of faith. Tamar overcame a fatalistic life problem; Rahab, a prostitute, and Ruth, a Moabite, were Gentiles. Bathsheba was a woman who needed God's forgiveness, and Mary was an unmarried virgin who was given grace to be the mother of God's Son.
Prayer: Lord, help me to stand in your redemptive history by faith.
One Word: God of grace; God of history
THE BIRTH OF JESUS
Key Verse: 1:21
1. Joseph's dilemma (18-19)
Joseph loved God and did his best to keep God's laws. He was engaged to Mary, a beautiful and pure woman. Though they were engaged, they honored God and each other by having no intimate relations before marriage. Then, Joseph discovered that Mary was pregnant. He thought she had been unfaithful to him; he could not marry an unfaithful woman. He was angry and hurt, but he did not want to expose her to public disgrace. So he decided to break up quietly.
2. Immanuel Jesus (20-25)
God sent his angel to help Joseph. Mary's Son was God's Son. His name was Jesus, "The Lord saves," for he would save his people from their sins. This baby fulfills the prophecy of Isaiah 7:14. He would be born of a virgin. He would be Immanuel, "God with us." God was coming to dwell with sinners to save us from our sins. Joseph overcame his feelings and obeyed by faith. He took Mary home as his wife, but he had no union with her until after Jesus was born.
Prayer: Lord, teach me the obedient faith of Joseph. Thank you for Immanuel Jesus, my Savior.
One Word: Immanuel
WHERE IS THE KING?
Key Verse: 2:2
1. We have come to worship him (1-2)
God alone is worthy of man's worship. The Magi were scholars who were searching for truth. They were searching for God. They studied the stars and the Old Testament. God showed them the star of the promised Messiah (Nu 24:17a), and they boldly set out on a long, hard, dangerous journey to find the one worthy of worship. They were not seeking material gain; rather, they wanted to give their treasures to the King of kings. Life has meaning only when we know and worship the one worthy of our worship.
2. They were overjoyed (3-12)
The Magi lost sight of the star. They were sure that the new king would be in the palace--but they were wrong! Herod tried to use them for his own evil purpose, but God protected them. When they left Herod, they saw the star again and were overjoyed. The star led them to the baby. They worshiped him and joyfully went home another way. May God raise up a few truth-seekers in our time.
Prayer: Lord, help me to follow your star until I know you personally and can lay my treasures at your feet.
One Word: Worship the King
GOD PROTECTS HIS SON
Key Verse: 2:13
1. Take the child to Egypt (13-18)
God was at work in the most evil of times. An angel warned Joseph to go to Egypt. He got up in the middle of the night and did so. His obedience came from his faith. God used him to protect Mary and Jesus. The family stayed in Egypt until Herod died, thus fulfilling a prophecy hidden in Hosea 11:1. God was in control, working through faithful men. But the devil was also pouring out his rage through Herod's evil action. The mothers of Bethlehem wept for their babies, fulfilling another prophecy (Jer 31:15).
2. Go to the land of Israel (14-23)
After Herod died, the Lord told Joseph to go back to Israel. Again, he did so. They went to Galilee, to the town of Nazareth, where the angel had first appeared to Mary–and to Joseph. There they raised Jesus. He was a Nazarene from Nazareth and another prophetic saying was fulfilled.
Prayer: Lord, thank you for quietly working out your purposes in the worst of times. Help me to be an obedient instrument of your work as Joseph was.
One Word: God works through obedient men
JOHN THE BAPTIST PREPARES THE WAY
Key Verse: 3:2
1. Repent, for the kingdom is near (1-6)
In "those days" Rome ruled the world and the evil King Herod ruled Judea. The good news was "the kingdom of heaven is near." John prepared the way for the king, Jesus, by calling people to repent. His life and ministry fulfilled scripture (Isa 40). People are miserable, not because they live in an unjust society, but because of the burden of sin. So, many people came to repent and be baptized.
2. Bear the fruit of repentance (7-10)
The Pharisees came because everyone was coming. They were proud because they thought they were special. But neither pedigree nor past achievements can save a sinner from God's wrath. God wants to see the fruit of repentance--a changed heart and life. The true children of Abraham are those who have the faith of Abraham.
3. Jesus will baptize with the Holy Spirit (11-12)
Jesus takes away our sins and gives us his Spirit. He will come again as Judge.
Prayer: Lord, help me to repent and bear fruit of repentance.
One Word: Repent and bear fruit
THE BAPTISM OF JESUS
Key Verse: 3:15
1. To fulfill all righteousness (13-15)
Jesus came to be baptized by John. From a human point of view, Jesus should have baptized John. But Jesus had a sense of history. He did not come to "do his own thing." He came to fulfill God's promises and accomplish God's redemptive work. John was his forerunner in God's history, so he asked John to baptize him. The gospel is God's gospel; Jesus was God's Servant.
2. With him I am well pleased (16-17)
Jesus was the Son of God. He had come to do his Father's will. God loved his Son. He also loved helpless, sinful mankind, so he sent his Son to die for the sins of the world. At his baptism, he accepted his Messianic mission and God was pleased. God poured out his Spirit on Jesus. The Spirit of God empowers God's servants to do God's work. God is pleased when his children take up the mission he gives them to do.
Prayer: Lord, help me to find my small place in your history and obey your will for my life by doing the work you give me.
One Word: To please our Father
MAN DOES NOT LIVE ON BREAD ALONE
Key Verse: 4:4
1. Temptation in the desert (1-3)
Just after accepting his mission and hearing God's declaration of love and approval, Jesus was tempted by the devil. God led him to meet his adversary, because he needed hard training before he began his work. This was the first of many attempts Satan would make. This first temptation was on the physical level. Jesus had not eaten for 40 days, and he was hungry. The tempter asked him to prove his Sonship by making bread from the stones. This sounds reasonable. Why should one starve when he can make bread so easily? God gave him the power; why not use it in an emergency?
2. "It is written..." (4)
Jesus' answer came from the Bible (Dt 8:3). Man must not live as a slave to physical desire. He cannot depend on his feelings and reason. He must live by God's word. This is the way of truth and life. God's children must listen to God and never listen to Satan.
Prayer: Lord, plant your word in my heart, and teach me to follow it so that I may defeat the tempter.
One Word: Obey God, not Satan
WORSHIP THE LORD YOUR GOD AND HIM ONLY
Key Verse: 4:10
1. Do not put the Lord to the test (5-7)
The devil took Jesus up to the top of the temple, the only sky-scraper around, and challenged him to jump off. "You'll be okay. After all, you're God's Son--aren't you? Anyway, the Bible says that God's angels will save you." He was testing Jesus' personal faith in God's power and in God's love. He cleverly interpreted the Bible in his own way. But Jesus was not fooled. He answered with God's word (Dt 6:16). We should not listen to Satan even when he quotes scripture. The Bible should not be manipulated to fit anyone's ideas. We must study to find out what the author is saying.
2. Worship the Lord your God (8-11)
Satan's final temptation offered Jesus a quick, easy way to accomplish his mission. One bow to Satan, one small compromise, and the kingdoms of the world would be his! He could become a king without the cross. But Jesus was not fooled. Look at his unequivocal answer (Dt 6:13).
Prayer: Lord, I trust your love and believe your power. Help me to follow your word without compromise.
One Word: Worship God and serve him alone
A LIGHT DAWNS IN THE DARK NIGHT
Key Verse: 4:16,17
1. Jesus begins his work (12-16)
John's arrest reveals the darkness of the times. Herod the king lived in sin and oppressed the people. Nazareth did not welcome Jesus, and so he moved to Capernaum, which was to be the center of his Galilean ministry. Thus he began to fulfill Isaiah's prophecy. Galilee was a backward area. Its people had suffered from numerous foreign invasions. Jesus taught God's word and cast out demons and healed the sick. He was a great light who shined on those living in the land of the shadow of death.
2. Repent (17)
John had preached this same message. This was why he had been arrested. But this call to repentance is God's grace and love for those living in darkness and gloom. When we receive Jesus' word and repent, his great light shines into our souls.
Prayer: Lord, give me a repentant heart so that I may not be a prisoner of the darkness of my sins or a prisoner of these times. Let the light of your salvation shine from my life.
One Word: Repent and let the light in
JESUS CALLS DISCIPLES
Key Verse: 4:19
1. Simon Peter and Andrew (18)
When Jesus walked by the Sea of Galilee he saw Simon and Andrew casting a net into the lake. Perhaps they had been disciples of John the Baptist before his arrest (Jn 1:35-42). They were hard-working fishermen, but they had no mission from God. They worked to survive in a hard world.
2. Come, follow me (19)
Jesus called them to follow him. It was an invitation to become his disciples. He would train them until they became fishers of men. It was an invitation to leave a selfish, family-centered life and share in Jesus' life and mission. Fishing fish was for themselves; fishing men was for God and others.
3. They left their nets and followed (20-22)
They heard Jesus' call and made a decision to leave their nets and follow him. James and John were working with their father when Jesus called them. They left their boats, nets and father and followed.
Prayer: Lord, help me to follow Jesus until I can be a fisher of men and a fruitful servant.
One Word: I will make you fishers of men
JESUS HEALS THE SICK
Key Verse: 4:23
1. Jesus preaches the good news (23)
Jesus focused his attention on training his disciples; his schoolroom was the dusty roads and small villages of Galilee. He preached the good news of the kingdom of heaven to all the sinsick and physically sick people whom he met as he traveled. His healing touch was good news. God's love for these poor, oppressed people, forgotten by the worldly rulers, was good news.
2. Crowds of people came to Jesus (24-25)
The good news of God's love and his power to save anyone with any problem spread. So crowds of miserable people with all kinds of problems came to Jesus. They came from all parts of Palestine and Syria. Each one who met Jesus went away full of joy, wholeness and peace. Many were set free from the bondage and power of Satan.
Prayer: Lord, let the good news of the kingdom fill my heart and life and be on my lips. Teach my hands and feet to move in a way that reveals your love.
One Word: Jesus' coming is good news
THE BLESSED LIFE
Key Verse: 5:3
1. Blessed are the poor in spirit (1-3)
The multitudes of suffering people needed shepherds like Jesus. When Jesus saw the crowds, he went up on a mountainside with his disciples and began to teach them. He taught them the Sermon on the Mount--the "Constitution of the Kingdom of Heaven" (Mt 5-7). Matthew 5:1-10 are the Beatitudes. The Sermon on the Mount is a description of Jesus' own character and his personal life principles. The poor in spirit are those who know their spiritual poverty and are eager to learn. They know that they need Jesus' Spirit. The kingdom of heaven is promised to disciples like these.
2. Blessed are those who mourn (4)
Those who know the taste of sorrow can also know the joy of God's comfort. Those who have never been sorry for their sins or repented of the things that make God sorry can never know the depth of God's love and comfort.
Prayer: Lord, I need your Spirit. Give me a compassionate heart like yours so that I may share in your suffering and share in your comfort and joy.
One Word: For theirs is the kingdom
BLESSED ARE THE MEEK
Key Verse: 5:5,6
1. Blessed are the meek (5)
The bold and aggressive seem more likely to take over the earth; but Jesus promises that the meek will inherit it. Who are the meek? Jesus was meek (Mt 11:29 KJV). Moses was meek (Nu 12:3 RSV). Meek people are humble. They do not use their power for themselves; they do not use strength to exploit or crush others; they use it to serve. Those who have the mind of Jesus are truly meek. They will be entrusted with the stewardship of the world.
2. Those who hunger for righteousness (6)
Jesus promises those who hunger and thirst for righteousness that they will be satisfied. In a world full of people who lust for power and pleasure, who talk about gourmet food and are full of physical desire, it is not easy to give spiritual desire priority. But those who have spiritual desire will be satisfied. On the other hand, those whose physical desires control them will always be dissatisfied.
Prayer: Lord, teach me your meekness; clothe me in your righteousness