Matthew's Gospel

The Old Testament speaks of Someone who was coming to this world on almost every page. It speaks in types, symbols, and prophecies, but you can’t read the Old Testament without being aware of the promise that Someone was coming. Psalm 24:9-10. "Lift up your heads, O you gates! Lift up, you everlasting doors! And the King of glory shall come in. Who is this King of glory? The LORD of hosts, He is the King of glory."

In the New Testament, the Gospel of John tells us Who that Someone called the "King of Glory" of Psalm 24 is. John 1:1 & 14. “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” [14] "And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth." That long awaited Someone came forth in the fullness of His glory and those Old Testament promises were fulfilled with the coming in the flesh of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.

The Gospels are the history of the life of Christ here on earth; they are “His story.” All the fullness of His character and being and life and what it means is there. That is why the Gospels are so important, and Matthew’s Gospel leaves no doubt that Christ is the "King of Glory" who came from heaven to earth.

Did you ever wonder why we have four Gospels? The reason is that each of the Gospels is a development of a statement or statements found in the Old Testament and each portrays a different aspect of Christ in His work here on earth.

In the Old Testament, four statements concerning the Messiah appear that are introduced with the word “behold.” In Zechariah 9:9, we read, "Behold thy king, O Israel!" In Isaiah 52:13, we read, "Behold my servant!" In Zechariah 6:12, we read, "Behold the man!" In Isaiah 40:9, we read, "Behold your God!"

These statements foretold the role of Christ as it is recorded in the four Gospels. Matthew portrays Christ as the King; Mark identifies Him as the Servant; in Luke He appears as the Son of man; and John presents Him as the Son of God. They give us four aspects of our Lord's character and person. They are not, strictly speaking, biographies. They are really eyewitness accounts by Matthew and John, two of His disciples, and accounts of the life of Christ by Mark and Luke, passed on to them by those who knew Him personally.

Matthew, otherwise known as Levi, was a publican, a Jewish tax collectors for Rome, and publicans were held in great disrespect by the Jews as a whole. When Jesus called him, he left his job and faithfully followed Jesus.

Tradition tells us that, after the crucifixion, Matthew lived and taught in Palestine for 15 years and then he began to travel as a missionary, first to Ethiopia and then to Macedonia, Syria, and Persia. He died a natural death in either Ethiopia or Macedonia, but this information is not certain. It’s one of the legends or traditions that have come down to us about Matthew.

Matthew wrote Matthew’s Gospel about 45 or 50 A.D. and perhaps the only other book of the New Testament that was in existence at that time was the Gospel of Mark.

The book of Matthew has three major divisions. The first section ends with chapter 4, verse 16. The second begins at chapter 4, verse 17, where it says From that time Jesus began to preach, saying, "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand." This denotes a major turning point in the ministry of Christ. Then, in chapter 16, we find another scripture that introduces the third section and denotes another major turning point in His life.

Matthew 16:21. “From that time Jesus began to show his disciples that He must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised.”

That is the first time the crucifixion is referred to in Matthew. It would become a major factor in the last several chapters.

Along with the three major divisions there are also several subdivisions to the book, and each subdivision introduces a new subject with the words when Jesus had finished.”

The first of these is in chapter seven, at the close of the Sermon on the Mount. Matthew 7:28-29. “And when Jesus had finished these sayings, the crowds were astonished at His teaching, for He taught them as one who had authority, and not as their scribes."

There is another in Matthew 11:1: “And when Jesus had finished instructing His twelve disciples, He went on from there to teach and preach in their cities.”

Chapter 13 has another. Matthew 13:53-54 “And when Jesus had finished these parables, He went away from there, and coming to His own country He taught them in their synagogue, so that they were astonished, and said, "Where did this man get this wisdom and these mighty works?"

And, in Matthew 19:1-2, we read when Jesus had finished these sayings, He went away from Galilee and entered the region of Judea beyond the Jordan, and large crowds followed Him, and He healed them there.”

The final subdivision is found in Matthew 26:1-2. “When Jesus had finished all these sayings, He said to his disciples, "You know that after two days the Passover is coming, and the Son of Man will be delivered up to be crucified."

The first major division in the book is all about the preparation of the King for His ministry. Several centuries earlier, Zechariah wrote, in Zechariah 9:9b. "Lo, your King comes to you; humble and riding on an ass, on a colt the foal of an ass." That prophecy was fulfilled near the end of His life in the triumphal entry into Jerusalem in that exact way.

Matthew opens with the genealogy of the King. It traces the lineage of Christ from Abraham down to Joseph, His stepfather, who is called the "husband of Mary." [Matthew 1:16] Joseph was His legal father but not His physical father, while Mary was His physical mother.

Joseph was of the royal line of David so our Lord gets His royal right to the throne of David from Joseph because He was an heir of David. Mary also was of the royal line of David, and it’s through her that Jesus gets His physical right to the throne.

In the first two chapters we see His earthly ties to the royal line of David and in the third chapter we have His baptism where God authenticated His heavenly authority.

Matthew 3:17. “And suddenly a voice came from heaven, saying, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased."

That established the royal line according to the heavenly standard.

In the fourth chapter the King is tested by Satan and all the powers of darkness. He was God’s Son but He was tempted there in the wilderness as a man. He was tested as the Son of man to prove He could fulfill God's intention for man.

Man is made up of body, soul, and spirit, and our Lord was tested on all three of these levels.

Our Lord's first temptation came on the level of self preservation. He hadn’t eaten for 40 days and nights and Satan challenged Him with "Change these stones into bread, if you are the Son of God.” He followed God’s will in spite of the pressure. In Matthew 4:4, He answered Satan with a scripture He quoted from Deuteronomy 8. “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God.”

Then He was tested on the level of the soul. Our Lord was taken up to the pinnacle of the temple and Satan tried to tempt Him to show pride and prove Who He was. “If thou be the Son of God, cast thyself down: for it is written, He shall give his angels charge concerning thee: and in their hands they shall bear thee up, lest at any time thou dash thy foot against a stone.” Again He answered Satan, in Matthew 4:7, with a scripture from Deuteronomy 6. “It is written again, Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God.”

Finally, Satan tested the deepest part of His humanity, the spirit. Man’s spirit is always looking for something to worship. Man is essentially a religious being because the spirit in him has a craving for someone to follow, a hero, an idol, something to worship. This is why the Devil came to Him and said, "All these kingdoms of the world will be yours if you will fall down and worship me," Matthew 4:9b.

Our Lord's answer, in Matthew 4:10b, was again from Deuteronomy 6. "... it is written, 'You shall worship the Lord your God and Him only shall you serve.' Christ revealed Himself fully as God had intended man to be.

Beginning with chapter five and the Sermon on the Mount, He put the nation Israel to the test. Many centuries before this, Israel had been chosen by God to be His channel of communication with humanity and the Jews considered themselves His people. In the Gospel of Matthew, the nation would be put to the test to prove whether or not they would recognize Jesus as their King.

Matthew traces how the Son of God came into the world and offered Himself as King of Israel, first on the level of the physical, then on the spiritual level. He was rejected on both counts, but in the darkness of the cross, He accomplished the work of redemption that could bring man back again to God, body, soul, and spirit.

Redemption begins with the spirit. We may be attracted to Christ on the level of the body for the supply of physical need or on the level of the soul for the need of recognition in our lives, but that will never really change us. The spirit is where our basic worship lays and where we commit ourselves, body, soul, and spirit, to Him. That's why the work of Christ in our heart is so important and that’s where change begins to appear.

Christ offered Himself as King to the nation of Israel in chapter four, beginning with this division. Matthew 4:17. "From that time Jesus began to preach, saying, 'Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand,'" He followed with the Sermon on the Mount, where we have the presentation of the King and the laws of the kingdom. This covers the rest of chapter four, and chapters five through seven.

The rules of the kingdom, set forth in the Sermon on the Mount, deal with man on the level of the ordinary, physical, material life. They offer Christ as the One who cares so much that there is no need to worry about how to be fed, how to be clothed, or how to meet worries on the physical level. He was offering Himself to the nation of Israel on this level and He was saying "If you receive Me as your spiritual King, you will find Me the answer to all your physical needs."

In chapters eight and nine we have His power over all things revealed as proof that He is the King, and beginning with chapter ten and going through chapter twelve we have the program of the King outlined. The things our Lord said and did prove our Lord's power over everything affecting the body, including disease, demons and death. It displays His authority in His realm as King. It’s apparent even before this time, however, that the nation was going to reject our Lord's offer of Himself as King on the spiritual level and, consequently, also on the physical level.

In chapter thirteen He alters the program and speaks only of the Kingdom in mystery form. The Kingdom has been rejected and He speaks in parables, explaining them only to His disciples. [See Messages in God's Good News #167-174]

Then we have a section that contains instructions to individuals who would believe Him and receive Him as their King. All of this section, beginning with chapter 14, verse 13, through chapter 16, verse 12, has to do with bread. We find the feeding of the 5,000 in chapter 14; the questions on what defiles a man in chapter 15, the allegory of the woman who came and asked for crumbs from His table in verses 22-28, and the feeding of the 4,000 in verses 29-39, and in chapter 16 there is the condemnation of the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees.

Following this, we have the time when Peter was given the first insight into the kingdom and the identity of the King and the mystery of the church.

Beginning with chapter 16, verse 21, we come to the last major division in Matthew. We have our Lord’s second ministry to the nation and the mention again of His death on the cross. Matthew 16:21. “From that time forth began Jesus to shew unto his disciples, how that He must go unto Jerusalem, and suffer many things of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised again the third day.”

Chapter 17 records the transfiguration, followed by parables of the King, addressed first to the disciples and then to the nation. In all the parables He is presented as the King who has the right to determine the character of individuals.

Are we willing to follow Him
and to let Him mold and shape our life and character?

Chapter 21 records Christ’s triumphant entry into Jerusalem where He judged the nation, entered the temple and healed many blind and lame persons and drove out the dishonest money changers.

This is followed by a section in chapters 24 and 25 with what is called the Olivet discourse, instructions to the believing remnant on what to do until He comes again. It reveals future world history in the intervening years until His return.

Among the things recorded are the signs of the times and the signs of His return to establish His Kingdom on earth. It tells how the forces of nature will be loosed on the earth and how Satan and the forces of darkness will take God's own people and test them to their very foundations.

In the final chapters we have the betrayal of the Lord Jesus, His trial, His agony, His crucifixion where our Lord passed into death for man’s sins. It was there on the cross that the King broke the powers of sin and death that have mastered the spirit of man ever since sin entered the world. The only crown He had on earth was a crown of thorns; the only throne He ever had was a bloody cross; the only scepter He ever held was a broken reed, yet God declared Him the King of kings and the Lord of lords.

Our Lord’s death on the cross and His resurrection made it possible for Him to enter into the very soul and spirit of man, and to dwell there in the person of the Holy Spirit.

Jesus isn’t waiting in some judgment hall to pass judgment on us. He’s ready and waiting to come into our heart and give us the blessings of His own life and His own character. When the King is on the throne in the life of the believer, the Kingdom of God is present.

Matthew’s gospel makes one face these questions:

"Is Jesus Christ King of my life?"
Is He the single most important person in all the universe to me?
Have I received Him as my Savior
and does the Holy Spirit live in me?

If you can truhfully answer “yes,” to each question, then He is your King. That is the fulfillment of the first commandment. "You shall have no other gods before me, for you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and all your strength, and all your mind."

Matthew’s Gospel of the King points us to the majesty and the glory of the One who came to save us and guide us. He didn’t come to take sides, He came to take over.

If we confess that we’re sinners without hope and accept Him as our Savior, He will be the King on the throne of our lives. He’ll come and reign in our heart and over every area of our life.