Matthew's Gospel

Quick revise

After studying this section you should know and understand:

  • the identity of Jesus as given in Matthew
  • the key teachings of Jesus as given in Matthew
  • the key deeds of Jesus as given in Matthew
  • the account of Jesus’ death, resurrection and ascension

Gospel events from Matthew

Prologue (Matt. 1:1)
A table of the descent of Jesus Christ, Son of David, Son of Abraham.

The Infancy Narrative

  • Matthew’s infancy narrative is less detailed.
  • He tells the reader that Mary found she had conceived by the Spirit and that Joseph wanted to have the marriage contract set aside immediately.
  • An angel told Joseph the true situation and Joseph took Mary home until the child was born (Matt. 1:18–25).
  • Matthew has the story of the Magi (three Wise Men) who see the star which they believe signifies the birth of the King of the Jews and visit the baby bringing gold (riches), frankincense (Kingship) and myrrh (special calling). They warn that Herod is a danger to the baby and Mary and Joseph flee to Egypt until Herod dies (Matt. 2:1–18).

Baptism

  • When Jesus goes to John to be baptised, John suggests that it should be he who should come to Jesus. ‘Do you come to me? I need rather be baptised by you.’ (Matt. 3:15–16)
  • Jesus replies: ‘Let it be so for the present; we do well to conform in this way with all that God requires.’ (Matt. 3:16)
  • As Jesus comes up from the water the heavens open, the spirit descends like a dove to alight on him and a voice from heaven is heard saying, ‘This is my Son, my beloved, on whom my favour rests’ (Matt. 3:17). Matthew’s Gospel is very clear from the outset that Jesus has been sent by God.

Temptations (Matt. 4:1–11)
The account here is the same as in Luke.

Worship in Matthew
Praying in secret (Matt. 6:5–8). Jesus teaches that hypocrites say their prayers standing up for all to see. You should pray in a secret place with the door closed so the Father who sees what is secret will reward you. He knows your needs and you should pray thus:

 

Our Father in heaven, thy name be hallowed;
thy kingdom come, on earth as in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread.
Forgive us the wrong we have done,
as we have forgiven those who have wronged us.
And do not bring us to the test,
but save us from the evil one. (Matt. 6:9–13)

Answer to prayer (Matt. 7:7–11)

Jesus teaches that a person only has to ask to receive, to seek to find, to knock and the door will be opened.

Fasting (Matt. 6:6–18)
Jesus teaches his followers to fast but not to be gloomy, and to show no sign to others, keeping it as a secret for the Father.

Authority

  • Peter’s declaration (Matt. 16:13–17).
  • The Transfiguration (Matt. 17:1–8).
  • Jesus’ authority (Matt. 22:23–27). Jesus is asked by the Sadducees what the relationship of those who have been married to each other on earth will be after death. The Sadducees were trying to trick Jesus. They believed that at death the soul dies with the body. Jesus replies that after death people are like angels. Then Jesus says: ‘God said, “I am the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, of the living not the dead.”’ People were astounded at his teaching. Jesus showed that God was constant to all generations in saying God was the God of all the Fathers of Faith.

Beliefs

  • Jesus proclaims the Kingdom (Matt 6:25–34). Consider the lilies of the field. Jesus teaches of the great love the Father has for all His creation and He will look after all His children. The Grace of God, the tenants in the vineyard (Matt. 20:1–16).
  • The Kingdom of God is like a mustard seed (Matt. 13:31–33), a treasure, pearl, a net (Matt. 13:47–50).
  • How people will be judged (Matt. 25:31–46). Jesus cautions followers that God will judge people, bringing to Himself all those who gave food to the hungry, drink to the thirsty and clothes to the naked and who visited the sick and imprisoned, for ‘...whatever you do for the least of my brothers you do for me’.
  • It is important for modern Christians that Jesus teaches that care for others (neighbours) is the first duty of the Christian.

Community

  • Call to discipleship. As in Luke and Mark, the fishermen leave their nets and follow Jesus (Matt. 4:18–22).
  • The Apostles are commissioned and charged with their tasks (as Luke and Mark) (Matt. 28:16–20).
  • Christians are to be salt, light and leaven in a community (Matt. 5:13–16; 13:33).

Morality

  • The golden rule: always treat others as you would like them to treat you (Matt. 7:12). On murder, reconciliation, retaliation, loving your enemies, reproving your brother, refer to Beatitudes (Matt. 5:3–12).
  • Concern for the poor and oppressed (Matt. 6:19–21). Don’t store up treasure on earth; store up treasure in heaven.
  • You cannot be the servant of two masters; you cannot serve God and mammon (Matt. 6:24).

Justice

  • The law and the prophets. Jesus says he did not come to abolish the law and the prophets but to complete it (Matt. 5:17–20).
  • Do not judge others; remove the log from your own eye before worrying about the speck in another’s (Matt. 7:1–5).
  • Pay the right taxes to the right person – to Caesar what is Caesar’s and to God what is God’s (Matt. 22:15–22).

Lifestyle and social practices
Christian values:

  • Do good secretly (Matt. 6:1–4).
  • Honesty (Matt. 5:33–37).
  • Beatitudes (Matt. 5:3–12).
  • Taking up the cross – suffering (Matt. 16:21–26).
  • Entering by the narrow gate (Matt. 7:13–14).
  • Acting on the message. The man who acts on the words of Jesus is like a man who builds his house on a rock – his house has firm foundations (Matt. 7:24–29).

The Beatitudes (Matt. 5:3–12)
The Beatitudes stand with the two great commandments as essential teachings about what is important for followers of Jesus. They are teachings about the way Christians should live and can be applied to all areas of individual and corporate lifestyles.

How blest are those who know their need of God; the Kingdom of God is theirs. How blest are the sorrowful; they shall find consolation.

How blest are those of gentle spirit; they shall have the earth for their possession. How blest are those who hunger and thirst to see right prevail; they shall be satisfied. How blest are those who show mercy; mercy shall be shown them.

How blest are those whose hearts are pure; they shall see God. How blest are the peacemakers; God shall call them His sons.

How blest are those who have suffered persecution for the cause of right; the Kingdom of God is theirs.

How blest you are when you suffer insults and persecution and every kind of calumny for my sake. Accept it with gladness and exultation, for you have a rich reward in heaven in the same way they persecuted the prophets before you. (Matt. 5:3–12)

The agony in the Garden of Gethsemane (Matt. 26:36–41)

  • Jesus went to pray in Gethsemane. He told his disciples to wait for him and took Peter and the sons of Zebedee with him.
  • ‘My heart is ready to break with grief,’ he said to them. ‘Stay here and stay awake with me.’
  • He went away from them and prayed to his father to take his cup of suffering away from him but ended by saying, ‘Yet not as I will but as you will.’ He surrendered himself totally to the will of God.
  • He found the disciples asleep and chastised them saying they should pray they would be spared the test. He prayed the same prayer three times and each time his disciples slept.

Matthew emphasises that the chief priests sought to suppress stories of the resurrection by bribing the soldiers.

The disciples see Jesus and he sends them out to spread the Good News, to baptise in his name and observe all that he has taught.

Crucifixion

  • Jesus foretells the destruction of the temple in Jerusalem (Matt. 24:1–14) and a time of persecution to come.
  • He says there will be false prophets claiming to be the Messiah and there will be many battles, earthquakes and famines. His followers will be hated, persecuted and executed, ‘and as lawlessness spreads, men’s love for one another will grow cold. But the man who holds out to the end will be saved.’
  • The crucifixion account is as in Luke.

The Resurrection

  • Daybreak on Sunday.
  • Mary of Magdala (Mary Magdalene) and the other Mary came to look at the grave.
  • A shining angel rolled the stone away; sound of an earthquake; the guards lay like they were dead.
  • ‘You have nothing to fear, Jesus has been raised again, come and see the place where he was laid.’
  • ‘Go and tell his disciples he has been raised from the dead and is going before you to Galilee; there you will see him.’
  • They ran to tell the disciples and suddenly Jesus was there before them; he told them to go to Galilee.
  • The guards went to tell the chief priests who bribed them to say the body had been stolen.
  • The disciples went to the mountain and he told them, ‘Full authority in heaven and on earth has been committed to me. Go forth therefore and make all nations my disciples; baptise men everywhere in the name of the Father, the Son and the Spirit and be assured I am with you to the end of time.’