Thursday, June 04, 2009

Matthew Section 6: Conflicts

Matthew strategically places the sixth section of his Gospel. After talking about Jesus' authority and purpose, Matthew draws the reading into the conflicts Jesus had with those who doubted Jesus' claims and the other trouble Jesus experienced near His crucifixion.

Many of the stories in this section start with the religious leaders asking Jesus a question to test him (19:3), 22:15-16, 22:34-35) or the disciples (or their mothers) asking questions of Jesus (19:10, 19:25, 20:20-21, 24:3, for example). While questions are not difficulties or problems, per se, they are showing the trouble Jesus had getting people to truly understand the nature of who He was.

This was really nothing new, as the reader see in the challenge to repent found in Matthew 23:37-39, where Jesus indicates that "Jerusalem" had been rejecting God for quite a long time. Of course, the main section of teaching in this section referred to as the Olivet Discourse and speaks of the coming Kingdom and the end of time.

Here is the visual aide for this section (Click picture for larger image):

I see maybe 25 to 30 sermons in this section. Perhaps more, depending on how slowly one needed to move through the Olivet Discourse. This section is filled with didactic material in that a question is given to Jesus and then He gives an answer. However, because the answers Jesus give can be difficult to understand and even harder to apply, preaching through this section would probably take a while.

Section six is a fascinating part of this Gospel and Matthew uses it well to contrast the previous five sections and to set off the pinnacle of his record found in the upcoming section: the crucifixion and resurrection.