Contrary to the order of the Bible, it is believed that Matthew was actually written after Mark and follows the basic outline of Mark. As part of the “synoptic gospels”, the Gospel of Matthew is similar to the Gospel of Mark. For example, Matthew 9:2-17 closely follows Mark 2:1-22. The purpose of the Gospel of Matthew is to inspire Christians to further the kingdom of God by presenting Jesus as the long-awaited King that fulfills the prophecies of the Old Testament. It was important to present Jesus as a “king” because the Jews were expecting their Savior to be a mighty ruler. The physical Jesus did not look like your typical king.
The Gospel of Matthew opens with the genealogy of Jesus. Matthew does this to show that Jesus comes from the “royal line” of Abraham. Jesus’ genealogy, birth and early childhood show that he is the long-expected Messiah. Matthew 1:18-2:23 documents Jesus birth and childhood. There is a large gap in the life of Jesus from infancy to his preaching years. However, God worked miraculously in Jesus’ early life to display him as the King of the Jews and Gentiles. This shows that Jesus was not just a Savior for the Jews, but for everyone who believed in Him, including the Gentiles.
In Matthew 3, John the Baptist announced that Jesus is the One who brings the kingdom of heaven. Matthew 4 documents the temptation of Jesus in the wilderness. Jesus’ temptations in the wilderness showed him to be deserving of his Messianic role. Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount illustrated him as the divinely authorized lawgiver for the kingdom. The Beatitudes in Matthew 5 lay down laws and actions followers of the Kingdom of God should follow.
The works of the Kingdom are evident in Matthew 8 through 10. Jesus performed many miracles that displayed his power to establish the kingdom. He also called and sent out disciples to spread the kingdom. Jesus warned, in Matthew 10:17, however, that persecution and suffering would come to those who serve the kingdom of heaven. He told the disciples to be on their guard and to persevere and let the Spirit guide their tongues when questioned by the government.
In Matthew 11 through 13, Jesus revealed the nature of the kingdom to John the Baptist and to the Jews. His actions and words challenge the accepted expectations about the Messiah and his kingdom. Jesus offered numerous parables that explained that the kingdom comes over time and that all mist repent and remain faithful to Him to enter it. In fact, twenty-three parables were offered in the Gospel of Matthew starting in chapter 5 and ending in chapter twenty-five.
From healing of the sick in Galilee in Matthew 3 through the healing of the 2 blind men in Matthew 20, there are at least 11 instances or events where Jesus performed miracles. This does not include the miracle that God performed in resurrecting Jesus from the dead and bringing Him into Heaven. Jesus’ miracles demonstrated his authority as the Messiah. Many testified to his supremacy as they saw him performing great works. Jesus insisted that life under his kingship is different from life in other kingdoms. Jesus’ actions, parables and answers to challenges revealed that his kingdom brings remarkable changes in the beliefs and practices of God’s people. Jesus strongly condemned the religious leaders of Israel for their hypocrisies and warned of divine judgment.
Much of Matthew’s Gospel conveys authoritative teaching by and about Jesus. Jesus preached with fervor. He was the fulfillment of the Old Testament teachings and expectations. People listened to Jesus, which made the Roman Empire fearful of what this “Jesus” might be capable of with such a large following. Jesus was afflicted and died as the suffering King of the Jews, and he resurrected as the victorious King. Upon his death, he resurrected and revealed himself to his disciples and commissioned them to spread his kingdom to the ends of the earth. This was known as “The Great Commission”.
Matthew is one of my favorite books of the Bible because of all the information it records. One can learn about the birth of Christ, the death of Christ, his teachings, parables, and important “laws” of the church. To this day, I can clearly remember the parables that I was taught in Sunday School a decade ago using those cut-outs on the felt board. I would recommend the Gospel of Matthew to non-believers or new Christians, as it is an easy read and will provide them with a history and overview of what the Christian faith stands for. If you examine the Beatitudes in Matthew 5, you will realize that many of those same CHRISTIAN PRINCIPALS are basic moral standards now as well as policies in our Government.