We return once more to the Gospel of Matthew, this time focusing on the central figure of this book. Matthew lays out the life of Christ in great detail. In this gospel alone, more is said about Christ than has been written about the lives of some kings, emperors and other religious figures. Matthew's detailed and honest account of Christ's life lends to the certainty of Christ's existence and the truth of his purpose and plan. Where we will focus today is on the specific events, actions and utterances of Christ in Matthew. Each gospel has its own nuances and unique items. Matthew is no different and in those unique items we find greater understanding about this particular gospel. Let's dive in...
How to Live For and Serve God
While the concepts from the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7) are mentioned in other gospels, the actual Sermon is only mentioned in Matthew. It is the longest recorded sermon by Christ and within it, we get a large part of Christ's position on how we should live our lives. The Beatitudes are given in this sermon (and we have a book that discusses that). Christ directly addresses the Law and how man should approach and live under it (and we have a series on that). Finally, Christ gives specific prescriptions on how to operate as a follower of God and representative of Him (and we are working on a series for that). The information found in this sermon has been used in the foundation of nations, social activism groups and the entire Christian church. Even Muhammad pulled from this sermon when he was crafting the core beliefs of Islam. No other sermon has had more of an impact across the spectrum and at its core is how we live our lives and treat others around us. Our lives are to be lived in accordance with the will of God. In doing that, we are spurred to treat others exactly how God would treat them: with love, mercy and compassion.
How To Bring the Gospel
Building on the Sermon on the Mount, the next unique utterance from Christ is the detail he gives to witnessing. Christ recognized the multitude of people who desired and needed his message (Matthew 9:35-38). From there he lined his disciples out and told them what to do, how to do it and what to expect as they went forth to witness and represent his cause (Matthew 10). While this sending forth is alluded to in other gospels, the details with which he gives his disciples is most clearly delivered here. It is not a walk in the park. He lets them know they are going to struggle. They would face opposition and persecution. However, they would be successful because they went forth with both faith and the truth of Christ's word and purpose. In this chapter, we can find a great level of encouragement coupled with realistic expectations in our own witnessing. It's something Matthew listened to closely and made sure to pass it on to us.
How To Get Along
Another place where Christ goes into greater detail than in other gospels is in Matthew 18 on the subject of reconciling with each other. This topic is addressed in the Sermon on the Mount as well, but here we see Christ take time to give specific instructions on how to get along with your brother in God. It was important to Christ for his followers to be unified and together. Remember, his closest followers ran the gamut of Jews. There was a zealot (Simon), a publican (Matthew), Levites (James the lesser and Matthew), followers of John the Baptist (Andrew and Phillip or John), and they all came from various backgrounds. Mixing differing social backgrounds and philosophical beliefs can often cause arguments and might lead to chaos. Christ chose to let his closest followers know how to handle discrepancies and arguments when they arose. He knew these men were human and that they wouldn't always get along. Reconciling their differences so they could get back to the work was important to Christ then and it is important to Christ now. How fortunate we are to have it straight from his mouth how we might handle ourselves when we come to impasses and disagreements.
The Man Who Would Lead
Many believe that it is because Peter's familiar statement of Christ's divinity that got him this cherished opportunity. However, there are several instances before this one where people make this assertion. Back in Matthew 14, all the disciples make the claim after he saved them (Matthew 14:33). In John, Nathanael made the claim after Christ revealed several things about him (John 1:49). Finally, Martha makes the assertion right before Christ raises Lazarus (John 11:27). What makes Peter's revelation of what so many others knew so special? It is in the words of Christ:
flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven. (Matthew 16:17)
The disciples perceived it with their eyes. Nathanael heard it with his ears. Martha spoke it as a reflection of what had just been told her by Jesus. Peter had this revelation from another realm, though. It wasn't what he saw or heard or even felt that moved him. It was a delivery from the Spirit that he gladly received. A true revelation. The kind of revelation that led Matthew to get up from his seat and follow God. The kind of revelation that spurred all of Christ's followers to leave their jobs and comforts to pursue him.
That's what we find when we see the unique highlights of Matthew. We see messages and actions that change and develop people in their relationship with Christ so that they can be effective in their service of His Kingdom. We find a detailed and realistic approach to serving God as well. Finally, we learn how to interact with and treat others as well as the revelation and promises that God gives unto us. Of course, there is far more in this gospel than those concepts, but these ideas stand out in a unique way. We hope this unique look at Matthew's gospel has blessed you and we can't wait to discuss it more on the YouTube Podcast tomorrow!
Chris Farris is the author of The Way, a manual detailing how to implement the Beatitudes into your life. He review events and other media and offers other insights into writing and working for the Kingdom of God.