One of the LDN assignments this month was to read a gospel and appreciate and comment on how it gives a distinctive portrait of Jesus. I read Matthew’s gospel trying to pretend I had not heard about this Jesus character before. That alone is difficult because Joe’s Jesus kept popping up.
So I found a Jesus I had to get used to, I didn’t like him as much as my soft Jesus. Yet his words are beautiful and deep. Towards the end his parables turn stern and full of warning like a parent knowing their child is bent on going astray. He came across as an alpha male leader determined to complete his mission and no one could stop him, thank God.
Proving Jesus by Old Testament fulfillment is Matthew's go to method with 50 or so references. Jesus fulfills the OT prophets and the law (they are not in vain) Matthew proves from the genealogy artistically crafted that Jesus is authentic. Yes he is the one you all are longing for so don’t treat him like a prophet of old.
Matthew’s Jesus is a Super Messiah. His pedigree is immaculate, from God himself. Matthew’s Jesus is the authentic, proved-beyond-a-doubt Jesus. Yet Jesus was too different and too normal and his own did not accept him.
From Chapter 5 on Jesus is a Messiah on a mission with a message and a method like none before. I was cheering for him before long and felt sorry for him after the triumphal entry where there was much mutual disappointment.
Chapters 21-26 are Jesus last stand before he lays down his life. He is sterner, his words harsher knowing he must go through with death for an unappreciative generation. Thank you Jesus.
Matthew chapter 1
The family tree is first, so it must be important. I wondered why it is crafted so liberally with cut and paste, there are pieces missing and pieces added to prove a point.
Matthew includes woman in the genealogy, special woman by providential twists, picked by God to do what? Stir up the gene pool? Show that God is above the cultural norms? These women add their life to the family tree and the end result is the David Dynasty. And God in a blessing binge promises David this will be everlasting. This is fulfilled in the last family tree entry; there is Joseph the husband of Mary of whom was born Jesus, who is called the Christ.
The resurrection Matt 28
I was surprised at the short consideration given to the resurrection by Matthew and no OT fulfillment, tsk, tsk Matthew. More press is given to the Guards report.
Then I thought, well Matthew is being honest here (I am not saying he wasn’t honest as a tax collector). The inside of the empty tomb is new territory for Matthew. No one has ever risen by their own initiative, on their own timing. Fearful and joyful like the woman is a fitting response.
Jesus and John in the ministry.
John is mentioned 8 times by Matthew. At one point when Jesus hears about John's death, Jesus shows his human frailty and compassion and withdrew by boat to a solitary place. John’s death wounds Jesus deeply. Here I feel for Jesus, losing a friend is tough. Jesus is the last prophet standing.
Matthew’s gospel took away some of my innocent look on how the Bible was compiled. I didn’t realize it was so messy, like digging into a family tree.
Now I really more than ever need to believe Matthew’s gospel is Holy Spirit inspired. I need to believe that even with Matthew’s particular views, his penchant for symmetry and stretching a point, God got down on paper as best as he could the good news for us.
If this good news had fallen from heaven with the subtitle “Holy Spirit Inspired” stamped across it we might have, with our penchant for finding faults, find all kinds of problems with it and so not have to believe it. But now, that it is full of human biases and quirks; we attached Holy Spirit Inspired to it and believe it. This is a beautiful touch by God. It is God’s good psychology for he knows us full well.