The Gospel of Matthew is often called the Teacher’s Gospel because of its emphasis on Jesus’ teaching. Consider that the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus’ longest section of teaching in the Bible, is recorded in Matthew 5-7. Matthew cared about Jesus’ words— what he said and why he said it.
Who was Matthew?
Matthew was one of Jesus’ original twelve disciples. Matthew retells the story of when Jesus first asked him to follow.
As Jesus went on from there, he saw a man named Matthew sitting at the tax collector’s booth. “Follow me,” he told him, and Matthew got up and followed him. While Jesus was having dinner at Matthew’s house, many tax collectors and sinners came and ate with him and his disciples. When the Pharisees saw this, they asked his disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?” On hearing this, Jesus said, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’ For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”
As you can see, Matthew was looked down on because of his profession. He was despised in the community as a tax collector.
But Jesus chose him.
And Matthew followed.
He gave up his life of exploitation and corruption and embraced the scandalous grace of God— a grace freely offered to the sinners, the sick, the broken. Jesus’ embrace of Matthew shocked the religious establishment of his day. Matthew’s life was changed forever due to two words— Follow me.
The Gospel of Matthew contains more references to the Old Testament than any of the other Gospels. Matthew’s target audience was Jewish Christians living in the major cities of Rome and Antioch during the first century. Indeed, Matthew even begins his Gospel with a genealogy, beginning with Abraham and ending with Jesus.
The Five Speeches
If you are looking for an interesting way to read Matthew, I recommend reading the Five Speeches. Remember, Matthew emphasized Jesus’ teaching and he categorized the majority of this teaching into five major sections.
1. The Sermon on the Mount— Matthew 5-7.
Practical advice on Christian living and discipleship.
2. The Missionary Speech— Matthew 10
Teaching on mission, outreach and evangelism.
3. The Parables Collection— Matthew 13
An exploration of the Kingdom of God.
4. The Community Discourse— Matthew 18
Explanation on life in the church and community.
5. The Eschatological Warning— Matthew 24-25
Eschatology is the study of last things. Jesus teaches about the end times and final judgment.
I hope you enjoy exploring Matthew’s Gospel as much as I have. Here’s what we’ve learned so far— Luke investigated the claims of Jesus and wrote down what he believed to be the truth of the matter. Mark traveled with Paul and Peter and wrote down what he learned from them about Jesus. Matthew chose to follow Jesus after leaving the life of a tax collector and later wrote down all he remembered from three years of discipleship.
This Sunday our Summer Fellow, Jenna Breedlove, will be preaching! Jenna has been working with myself and Pastor Dana throughout the summer to prepare for the sermon. It is excellent, and I’m very excited to see God speak through her this Sunday.