Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Matthew Section 1: Messianic Fulfillment

The first section of Matthew is the story of Jesus' preparation for ministry. It is Matthew's genealogy, birth narratives, some discussion of John, and Jesus' baptism and temptation. The major discourse of this section is John's preaching, which makes sense because Jesus' ministry had not started yet. But it also helps Matthew show that John is the "voice in the wilderness" (Matt 3:3) which Isaiah wrote about.

In fact, Matthew uses six Old Testament passages to show that Jesus is, in fact, the Messiah. Also, Matthew uses four Old Testament passages during Jesus' temptation (one misused by Satan) to highlight places where the people of God had failed miserably. But where they had failed, Jesus succeeded. In addition to all these, when being baptized by John, Jesus says He needed to do so to "fulfill all righteousness" (3:15). In short, by simply existing, being born, and being baptized and tempted, Jesus fulfills many prophecies on which the Jews were waiting. Matthew makes is clear that Jesus is the one to fulfill all these prophecies.

I have included a graphic of the section. The title is from a commentary but for the life of me I cannot remember which one and as I look through the commentaries I have, I cannot find it. I am sure it is not original with me. The summaries of each section of the chapters are my titles. They are brief but descriptive enough for me to remember the story and perhaps see the theme throughout each section. (click the picture for a larger image)

So to get his audience ready for the message he was going to convey to them, Matthew shows Jesus fulfilling prophecy after prophecy even before He officially begins His ministry.

I would anticipate somewhere between seven and nine sermons out of this section. If I preached one sermon per section it would obviously be nine. However, it could be seven because I could see gathering the wise men, the move to Egypt, and Herod's massacre being one sermon. However, I would think this would mean a skimming over these important events.