DAY 1 – MATTHEW
The book known as Matthew is an account of the life and teaching of Jesus. While tradition says it was written by the disciple Matthew, one of the twelve men Jesus chose to work closely with, the author never actually identifies himself by name. But he may be giving us a clue to his actual identity when he includes, at a strategic place in the book, a saying of Jesus not recorded elsewhere, that “every teacher of the law who has been instructed about the kingdom of heaven is like the owner of a house who brings out of his storeroom new treasures as well as old.” The character of this book suggests that its author was really not a tax collector like Matthew but rather someone highly trained in the Hebrew Scriptures who had come to believe that Jesus was the Messiah, the deliverer God had promised to send to the people of Israel. He was, in other words, himself a teacher of the law instructed about the kingdom of heaven. He wrote to tell his fellow Jews how Jesus had brought out the deepest meaning of the Jewish heritage and created a new community in which people from every nation were welcome.
The author tells the story of Jesus’ life in such a way as to draw many parallels between Jesus, the founder of this new community (the “kingdom of heaven”), and Moses, the founder of the nation of Israel. For example, like Moses, Jesus narrowly escapes death when a ruler attempts to kill all Hebrew baby boys. And just as Moses spent 40 years in the desert, Jesus spends 40 days there before beginning his ministry. But the most important parallel is drawn by the way the author organizes the work as a whole. Moses gave the people of Israel the law or Torah, which was traditionally divided into five books. In Matthew the teaching of Jesus is gathered into five long speeches, which are inserted into the story at intervals. Moreover, just as Moses went up Mount Sinai to receive the law, Jesus gives his first speech up on a mountain. Jesus, in other words, is the new Moses, and his teaching is the foundation of the multinational community that will now constitute the people of God.
But even though Jesus is presented in this book as the new Moses, this doesn’t mean that he’s replaced Moses. Rather, he has completed or fulfilled what Moses began. This concept of fulfillment runs throughout the book. When something has been fulfilled, it has taken on a fuller and a deeper meaning in light of what God has done in the world. The author frequently comments how the teachings of the law and the history of Israel have taken on a fuller meaning in light of Jesus’ own life and teaching.
PRAYER: Thank You, Father for sending Your only Son. Thank You for His life and teaching.