“Each Gospel, though broadly compatible with the others, emphasizes something different about the significance of the life and ministry of Jesus. For Matthew, that significance clearly lies in Jesus’ status as the promised messianic son of David, the king of Israel. Several features of the Gospel are related to this primary theme. Foremost is Matthew’s citation of Old Testament prophecies fulfilled in the life of Jesus. Matthew is often faulted for taking these “prophecies” out of context and misapplying them. However, his practice must be understood in terms of the conventions of first-century citation generally, and the charge is less appropriate than is often thought. Other features related to the theme of Jesus as promised King include long teaching discourses in which the word of Jesus becomes a new law for the church, a confession of Jesus as the Son of God in divine (as opposed to merely messianic) terms, and an extension of kingdom promises from the Jews to the Gentile nations in fulfillment of the covenant with Abraham.” (HCSB)

In regards to 1:22-23, “The name Jesus (“Yahweh saves”) describes what Jesus does; Immanuel (“God with us”) describes who Jesus is. Matthew included the prophecy of Isaiah to assert the divinity of Jesus.” We read in 2:10, “When the wise men saw the star, they were overjoyed beyond measure.” When I read this verse, I imagined the men seeing light in the darkness of not only the sky, but of their lives. The wise men knew exactly who that star led to and they brought gifts to baby Jesus. Upon seeing the innocent child, they bowed down and worshipped God. In regards to 3:15, “Jesus’ baptism announced His intention to follow God’s will and identified Him with the sinners He came to save, the most important aspect of God’s will for Him. His baptism, then, appropriately initiated His messianic ministry; it was the first step in His carrying out the will of God, of fulfilling all righteousness.”

4:2-3a, “After He had fasted 40 days and 40 nights, He was hungry. Then the tempter approached Him…” Satan tempts us the most at our weakest points. Jesus instructs us on how to fight the temptations and avoid the falls that Satan plants in our way. 4:4,7,10, “Man must not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of God. Do not test the Lord your God. Worship the Lord your God, and serve only Him.” When we trust God with our whole heart, He promises that He will not allow us to be tempted beyond what we can handle. He assures us that He is with us no matter what happens and will guide us through life.

In 5:3-12, Jesus taught the Beatitudes in which can be found as comfort and reassurance to all believers. “Blessed are the poor in spirit, because the kingdom of heaven is theirs. Blessed are those who mourn, because they will be comforted. Blessed are the gentle, because they will inherit the earth. Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness because they will be filled. Blessed are the merciful, because they will be shown mercy. Blessed are the pure in heart, because they will see God. Blessed are the peacemakers, because they will be called sons of God. Blessed are those who persecuted for righteousness, because the kingdom of heaven is theirs. Blessed are you when they insult you and persecute you and falsely say every kind of evil against you because of Me. Be glad and rejoice, because your reward is great in heaven. For that is how they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”

Once we can get a full grasp of what Jesus has taught us in the Beatitudes, He instructs us on how we can acknowledge His blessings in 5:13-16 by calling His believers the Salt and Light. “You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt should lose its taste, how can it be made salty? It’s no longer good for anything but to be thrown out and trampled on by men. You are the light of the world. A city situated on a hill cannot be hidden. No one lights a lamp and puts it under a basket, but rather on a lampstand, and it gives light for all who are in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before men, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven.” The very last verse can not be stressed enough, “So that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven.” All the glory goes to God, if we keep the praises to ourselves, then we are living for the world and not for God.

6:7-8, “When you pray, don’t babble like the idolaters, since they imagine they’ll be heard for their many words. Don’t be like them, because your Father knows the things you need before you ask Him.” These verses are difficult for me to follow mainly because there are times when I feel that I should pray long with complex words. The truth of the matter is, God already knows what is on our hearts. If the prayers are short, that’s fine. God wants us to pray in order to keep Him involved in every area of our lives, and as we pray to Him, we acknowledge that He is. 7:11 provides great encouragement, “If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good things to those who ask Him!” In regards to 6:12, 14-15, “This prayer seems to be a model for believers. Forgiveness is an attitude that follows from recognition of the seriousness of our sin. A person with an unforgiving heart toward others shows that he does not take his own sin seriously and has not appropriated God’s forgiveness.”

6:21, 25, 33-34 “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. This is why I tell you: Don’t worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Isn’t life more than food and the body more than clothing? But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be provided for you. Therefore don’t worry about tomorrow, because tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” Jesus’ point is that love of money clouds one’s moral vision. When we start focusing our attention on the troubles of life, we become restless. When we give our full attention to God, then we become content with life because we have the faith needed to know that He gives us everything we need. I like this one quote I received in the email just recently, “If you fill your heart with regrets of yesterday and the worries of tomorrow, you have no today to be thankful for.” Life’s mishaps and horrors are only a page out of a grand book. We can only see fragments of life as we live daily. Who can say what will come next? No one knows if it is a blessing or a curse. No one is wise enough to know except for God. We must be slow about drawing conclusions. We must reserve judgment on life’s storm until we know the whole story. God is the Author of our story and He has already written the final chapter. There is no reason to put our trust into anything else except for God alone.

7:14, “How narrow is the gate and difficult the road that leads to life, and few find it.” This verse is true more today than ever before. There are so many religions out there and postmodernism teaches, “whatever religion works for one person is the right one for them.” The truth of the matter is that there is only one way to eternal life and that is through Jesus Christ. I like 7:28-29, “When Jesus had finished this sermon, the crowds were astonished at His teaching, because He was teaching them like one who had authority, and not like their scribes.” Jesus had no doubt, He knew what He was talking about and was not afraid to speak the truth to anyone.

8:3-4, “Reaching out His hand He touched him, saying, “I am willing; be made clean.” Immediately his disease was healed. Then Jesus told him, “See that you don’t tell anyone; but go, show yourself to the priest, and offer the gift that Moses prescribed, as a testimony to them.” Is there any dirt in your life right now? Jesus is willing to clean, if you let Him. Jesus does not just want to touch your heart; He wants to live in and through you. In 11:28-30, Jesus says: “Come to Me, all of you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. All of you, take up My yoke and learn from Me, because I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for yourselves. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”

12:6-8, “But I tell you that something greater than the temple is here! If you had known what this means: I desire mercy and not sacrifice, you would not have condemned the innocent. For the Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath.” 12:12, “A man is worth far more than a sheep, so it is lawful to do good on the Sabbath.” It is amazing on how easy it is to offer vain sacrifices in the name of the Lord, yet have a difficult time showing mercy to one another. In 12:25, “Knowing their thoughts, He told them: “Every kingdom divided against itself is headed for destruction, and no city or house divided against itself will stand.” I have the following quote that goes perfectly with this verse: “Believers are connected through their union with the triune God in Christ, not a denominational label. Christians should seek to make visible this invisible unity.” It is important not to live by religious doctrine, but to live by love. This is demonstrated in 19:16-17, Jesus did not teach that eternal life is earned by keeping the commandments. Instead, the man had to follow Jesus. Jesus began where the man was: a Jew seeking life and righteousness must look to the law. But Jesus sought to move him to a new understanding. It is not strict adherence to the law that leads to life, as the would-be follower himself realized, but submission to the Messiah and to the broader ethic of the law as defined by Him.

14:29-31, “Come!” He said. And climbing out of the boat, Peter started walking on the water and came toward Jesus. But when he saw the strength of the wind, he was afraid. And beginning to sink he cried out, “Lord, save me!” Immediately Jesus reached out His hand, caught hold of him, and said to him, “You of little faith, why did you doubt?” It is also interesting to note 16:23, “But He turned and told Peter, “Get behind Me, Satan! You are an offense to Me because you’re not thinking about God’s concerns, but man’s.” In both cases, Peter had lost perspective. The wind was already blowing when he asked to walk on water, but he got out of the boat anyway with full concentration on Jesus. Suddenly, Peter lost his concentration, saw the danger of the world, and immediately began sinking. The second time, Peter doubted the prophecy in which Jesus was about to fulfill because it was not in the best interest of men.

In regards to 25:31-46, “This teaching of Jesus on the sheep and the goats appears only in Matthew. He was not teaching salvation by works in these verses. The compassion shown by the sheep shows their salvation. That both the sheep and the goats are surprised at their “qualifications” indicates that neither was working for salvation. Those who were punished for their failure to minister to others were so blinded by their preoccupation with themselves that they showed no compassion. The parable shows that mere profession of one’s belief that does not lead to love and concern for people is useless.” The perfection that Jesus referred to is that of loving all people, both good and evil.

28:18-20, “Then Jesus came near and said to them, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe everything I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” When Jesus said that all things had been entrusted to Him, He was speaking of His authority to reveal the Father. Matthew concludes his gospel with the great commission, which instructs every believer to reveal Christ. One of my favorite quotations is from St. Francis of Assisi, “Preach the gospel always, if necessary use words.”

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