I’m beginning to prepare for a seminar I’ll be teaching at Real Life on “The Life and Teachings of Jesus,” and I’m starting my study by walking through and summarizing the Gospels bit by bit. I figured this’d be more helpful than merely reading through them, and that any more specific study format (such as a theme study) might cause me to miss the forest for the trees. Don’t know if it’ll be helpful to anyone but me, but what the heck. Here it is (part 1 of 4)…
1.1-17 – Matthew’s genealogy emphasizes Jesus as the son of Abraham and especially the Son of David; in other words, Jesus is the long-awaited King. Matthew tells the story in three parts: Abraham to David, David to (Babylonian) Exile, and Exile to Jesus. Perhaps Jesus is the King who will restore Israel from a condition of exile?
1.18-25 – The Messiah was born to a virgin by the Holy Spirit. Joseph almost sent her away (quietly), but an angel in a dream told him to move forward so he did. Angel told Joseph to name him Jesus because he would save his people from their sins. This fulfilled Isaiah 7.14.
2.1-12 – After his birth in Bethlehem, the Magi came to visit this Jewish King. This troubled King Herod, especially when his people told him the Messiah would be born in Bethlehem (Micah 5.2,4). He sent the Magi who followed the star with gifts, but they didn’t tell Herod.
2.13-18 – An angel in a dream told Joseph to escape with Jesus to Egypt to avoid Herod’s hand, fulfilling Hosea 11.1. Herod was pissed about the Magi so he had all the little boys in Bethlehem killed, fulfilling Jeremiah 31.15. Reminiscent of Moses’ early years.
2.19-23 – After Herod’s death an angel in a dream told Joseph to take the child back to Israel because those trying to take the child’s life were dead. But having been warned in another dream about Herod Archelaus, he withdrew to Nazareth in Galilee, fulfilling ???
3.1-12 – John the Baptist came preaching repentance in the wilderness, fulfilling Isaiah 40.3. He was dressed like Elijah of old, and he baptized repentant Israelites in the Jordan River. He called down curses on the Pharisees and Sadducees, scoffing at their claim to be Abraham’s children. He announced one who would yet come with images of judgment.
3.13-16 – Jesus comes to John to be baptized, and even though John objects, Jesus persists and is baptized in the Jordan. Then heaven opened, the Spirit descended, and a voice from heaven said Jesus was his Son, whom he loved and with whom he was pleased (Isaiah).
4.1-11 – The Spirit led Jesus into the wilderness where, after fasting forty days, he was tempted by the devil with bread, a test of faith and display of power, and the kingdoms of the world. Jesus countered with Scripture, mainly from Deut 6 (Israel’s testing in the wilderness). After the devil left, angels attended to him. (He was faithful where both Israel and Adam failed. Perhaps he came to right what went wrong in both of them?)
4.12-22 – Jesus withdrew to Galilee after John’s death, moved to Capernaum by the lake, an area of Gentiles, fulfilling Isaiah 9.1-2. He preached this basic message: “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” Then he called four fishermen to be his followers, and they left everything to follow him.
4.23-25 – Jesus went throughout Galilee teaching, preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every disease and sickness among the people. Word spread about him, and people brought him all the ill and those with severe pain, demons, seizures, and paralyzed. He healed all of them, and large crowds from all over the land followed him (re-gathering Israel for restoration). Perhaps healings and exorcisms manifest God’s kingdom?
[Matthew 5-7 – First block of teaching material]
5.1-16 – Jesus began to teach them from his seat on a mountain, and he started by pronouncing the blessings of the kingdom on all those who were least likely to be included in such a list. He called these rag-tag people salt of the earth and light of the world (i.e. renewed Israel), and told them to let their goods deeds lead others (Gentiles) to praise God.
5.17-48 – Jesus insists that this doesn’t mean setting aside the Law and Prophets, but bringing them to fulfillment. The time has come for a justice/righteousness surpassing Israel’s holiest people, and Jesus gives several examples: murder/hatred, adultery/lust, divorce, oaths, retaliation, and love for enemies. It’s all based on an impartially loving God.
6.1-18 – Jesus provides instruction on three key Jewish practices of almsgiving, prayer, and fasting. He defines the right way to practice these things in contrast to the way of the “hypocrites” who do things to be seen by men rather than to please God alone.
6.19-34 – Jesus teaches for radical un-reliance on and worry over wealth, for it does not last and it prevents devotion to God. Instead be single-minded in pursuing God’s kingdom and justice, and trust him to provide basic needs along the way (like lilies and sparrows).
7.1-5 – Jesus teaches against blind judgment on others; the hypocrites looking for others’ sins have greater sins they’re ignoring.
7.6-11 – Instead of giving what is sacred (your trust and devotion) to dogs and pigs (Gentiles, esp. Romans?), who will scoff at them and turn on you, Jesus says to demonstrate faith in God by asking for what they need. God is a loving father – much more than even human fathers – and he will give what is needed to those who ask for it.
7.12-29 – Jesus brings his sermon to a close with “the golden rule” which sums up the Law and Prophets. Few will walk this path to life, choosing instead the more popular route toward death. Even some claiming to be prophets will be false – test them by fruit. It is not calling Jesus “Lord” or doing spectacular things in his name, but rather obeying Jesus’ teachings and thus doing the Father’s will that shows one is truly an agent of God’s kingdom. He issues a pictorial warning that it is not hearing this message that puts one on stable ground, but rather actually doing what Jesus said. People are amazed at Jesus teaching and unique authority.