Having considered an outline of the gospel of Matthew, we have yet to make some summary observations that deal with this gospel’s distinctive emphasis.
1. Since Matthew is the bridge between the Old and New Testaments, we should take note of the many references which are made to the fulfillment of prophecy. This is more true of Matthew than of the other gospel writers.
Let’s examine some of them. Already in Matthew 1:22, 23we read, “Now all this was done that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet saying, “Behold a virgin shall be with child and shall bring forth a son.” This is a reference to the prophet Isaiah, who writes of this in Isaiah 7:14. Likewise, the Messiah’s birth-place was predicted in Micah 5:2, and referred to inMatthew 2:5, 6. Matthew makes the point in Matthew 2:15 that Christ was taken to Egypt in fulfillment of prophecy,Matthew 2:15 that Christ was taken to Egypt in fulfillment of prophecy, Hosea 11:1. Just a little further on he reminds his readers that the slaughter of the children of Bethlehem (Hosea 2:17, 18) was also prophesied by Jeremiah in Jeremiah 31:15. The same applied to their sojourn and residence in Nazareth (Matthew 2:23); it was a fulfillment of the words spoken by the prophets, “He shall be called a Nazarene,” a reference to the contempt and hatred placed upon Him, Psalm 22:6, Isaiah 49:7, 53:3, Daniel 9:26.
Matthew refers to the fact that Isaiah (Isaiah 40:1) spoke of the ministry of John the Baptist as the forerunner of Christ (Matthew 3:3). He even mentions in Matthew 4:14, 15 that Isaiah gave such. minute details as the place of John’s labor (Isaiah 9:2). Jesus, the Messiah, was prophesied as the Great Physician Who would take our infirmities and bear our sicknesses, a reference in Matthew 8:17 to Isaiah 53:4. Isaiah the prophet even knew that Jesus would be as a bruised reed and a smoking flax (Is. 42:1), and Matthew saw significance in that (Matt. 12:14-21). Jesus, the Messiah, spoke in parables, and Matthew observes in Matthew 13:33-35 that even this was known in the Old Testament (Ps. 78:2). The great entry of Jesus into Jerusalem and the spiritual impact that it had upon His work as Messiah was predicted in Isaiah 62:11 andZechariah 9:9, and Matthew took note of it in Matthew 21:1-5. Finally, Matthew included in his gospel account, inMatthew 26:55, 56, the words of Jesus that He was being taken by the soldiers and bound for trial according to the Scriptures of the prophets, a reference to many passages that foretold that Jesus would suffer and die, e.g. Isaiah 53.
As we examine these references we must draw a few conclusions. First, it lived in the mind of Jesus as well as Matthew that the events in the life of Jesus were not determined by situations of that day only, but that His Father in heaven was bringing them to pass. This applied to a staggering amount of detail and to such an extent that prophecy and fulfillment testify of God’s sovereign control. We conclude that this was a comfort to Jesus, and that it must confirm our faith in the historical reality of Jesus’ ministry. He was not a victim, He was appointed to die in exactly the manner in which it took place. This is important for our place in the kingdom of which Jesus is Messiah. Secondly, Matthew made such repeated reference to the fulfillment of prophecy, not only for the benefit of the Jews of His day, but also for the church today, that we may know that this fulfillment took place and that we may rejoice in its comfort and truth. Jesus is in truth the promised Messiah! The Scriptures testify of this glorious fact.
2. We should also take note of the fact that Matthew, more than the other gospel writers, includes in his gospel account sermons and messages that were declared unto the people. You can observe this if you have a New Testament Bible with the words of Jesus printed in red. Compare Matthew with the other synoptic writers and observe that there are more and longer passages of Jesus speaking to the people. We list some of the longer ones: the sermon on the mount (Matthew 5:1-7:29), specific instruction to His disciples to go out and, preach (Matthew 10:1-42), parables (Matthew 13:1-52), importance of confessing faults and being forgiven (Matthew 18:1-35), condemnation of the Pharisees and the promise of His future glory (Matthew 23:1-25:46), all of which ends in the great commission (Matthew 28:18-20). The special significance of this is that the Holy Spirit moved Matthew to record these in order that the world may believe that the promised Messiah is in truth the Lord from heaven, Whose dominion includes not only the subjugation of the wicked, but also the rule over His people by His Word and Spirit. He is king, to be sure, but He is also prophet and priest; and they go together in order that He might be the Mediator of His people.
3. We should mention briefly certain things that are recorded only in Matthew and not in the other accounts. This includes certain events in the life of Jesus, such as the vision to Joseph by the angel, assuring him that it was all right to take Mary to be his wife, (Matthew 1:20-24), the flight of Joseph, Mary, and Jesus into Egypt (Matthew 1:1-12), the visit of the wisemen (Matthew 2:13-15), the slaughter of the infants of Bethlehem (Matthew 2:16), the dream of Pilate’s wife (Matthew 27:19), the suicide of Judas (Matthew 27:3-20), the resurrection of the saints at the time of Jesus’ crucifixion (Matthew 27:52), the payment of the guards so that they could circulate the lie concerning the disciples’ having stolen the body of Jesus (Matthew 28:12-15), the great commission to preach and baptize (Matthew 28:19-20).
Besides these events, Matthew makes reference to certain parables that are unique to his gospel: tares (Matthew 13:24-30), hidden treasure (Matthew 13:44), the pearl of great price. (Matthew 13:45, 46), the dragnet (Matthew 13:47), the unforgiving servant (Matt 18:23-25), the laborers in the vineyard (Matthew 20:1-16), the two sons (Matthew 21:28-32), the marriage of the king’s son (Matthew 22:1-13), the ten virgins (Matthew 25:1-13), and the talents (Matthew 25:14-30).
Only three miracles are mentioned in Matthew which are not mentioned in the other gospel accounts: restoration of sight to the two blind men (Matthew 9:27-31), healing of the dumb demoniac (Matthew 9:32, 33), and the provision of the coin in the mouth of the fish to pay taxes (Matthew 17:24-27).
It is rather difficult to answer the question as to why these things are included in Matthew and not in the other accounts, except that we may see in many instances that their inclusion supports the main theme that Matthew is presenting, namely, that Christ is in truth the promised Messiah. His identity is heavenly, His power is “other worldly,” His goal is not earthly, but heavenly, and all His ministry confirms that, as the King, He has done and continues to do all things necessary to realize that kingdom.
In conclusion, then, we may observe that the Holy Spirit led Matthew to set forth Christ in His kingly glory. One cannot read this gospel account without concluding that Jesus, as the Anointed of God, is God’s King! He has a royal genealogy, He came into Jerusalem, not to establish an earthly kingdom, but a heavenly one. He came in humility, lowly, riding upon a foal, the colt of an ass, declaring to all that stood by that the way into His kingdom was that of His suffering and death. He had to establish righteousness as the foundation of His true heavenly kingdom. This he further confirmed with His discourse regarding the future glory of His kingdom and the promise of His coming again to sit on the throne of His glory (Matthew 27:31). In truth, He is as the cross declared, Jesus of Nazareth; the King of the Jews.
QUESTIONS FOR CONSIDERATION
1. Why did God want four gospel accounts written when it might seem to us that one would be sufficient?
2. Explain why the different gospel accounts of the same event were written and that their differences do not conflict with the truth of the inerrancy of Scripture. Illustrate.
3. What do we know of Matthew, the author?
4. Why is Matthew the first book in the canon of the New Testament?
5. Explain what the central message of the gospel of Matthew is. What does Messiah mean? How is Christ the Messiah?
6. Give a brief outline that will indicate how the central message of Christ as the promised Messiah is developed in the gospel.
7. What information concerning the kingdom of Christ do we learn from this book? Refer to select passages.
8. How should a child of God respond to the reading of this gospel?