Matthew’s Cohesive Argument
that Jesus of Nazareth was and is the Messiah
The Messiah: The Fulfillment of the Moral and Ceremonial Law Walking in Bodily Form, on Earth and in Heaven
Section #1: An Introduction: Verified, Born, Hunted, Credentialed, & Distinct
An Introduction: Verified, Born, Hunted, Credentialed, & Distinct
“And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us…” – John 1:14
“For all the promises of God in Him are yea, and in Him Amen…” – 2 Cor. 1:20
To preach the gospel in our generation, one might preach the last 3 Chapters of the Gospel of Matthew. This may be sufficient, in some regard, for the mind of a heathen man…but not for a Jew. For a 1st century Jew to hear and understand the Gospel he would need to hear it preached just as Matthew wrote it Chapters 1 through 28 in full! The mind of a Jew would be utterly abhorrent to and unprepared for the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus, if he was not first prepared by Matthew Chapters 1 through 25. The entire book of Matthew is, “The Gospel of Matthew”! Therein, from beginning to end, is one cohesive and scriptural argument which addresses every major controversy against Jesus Christ, refutes every major heresy of 1st century Judaism, confirms every event and doctrine relevant to the Gospel with infallible accuracy, to the end that a Jew might understand why and how Jesus of Nazareth is indisputably and unquestionably the long-looked-for Messiah promised to the Jews. What looks like, to a Gentile, an assortment of historical events randomly collected and chronicled is, to a Jew, a carefully thought-out and systematic argument Divinely inspired by God the Holy Ghost. The details and implications of the historical events accounted by Matthew (what Jesus said and did) were framed in perfect order and sharpness to unloose the common Jew from captivity and blind-servitude to the ignorance and dead religion of 1st century Judaism. All this being said, my reader, let us brace ourselves; we, being Gentiles, have need of some reflection and consideration as we read. What is unnoticeable and nearly unrecognizable to a Gentile’s mind is glaringly obvious to a law-abiding Jew. Therefore if we are going to understand The Gospel of Matthew we need to understand the thought-process of a 1st century law-abiding Jew (the audience to whom he wrote), and to understand this we must understand the Law.
In this masterful piece of Divine-argument the writer of The Gospel of Matthew cites five historical facts which support and verify Jesus Christ as the Messiah according to Old Testament prophecy. (#1) Verified by the Genealogical Record, (#2) How He was Born, (#3) Where He Was Born, (#4) The Calamity Surrounding His Birth, and (#5) Where He Grew Up.
1:1-17 à Verified by the Genealogical Record: The genealogical proof that Jesus is the Son of David, an heir to the Throne according to the flesh.
1:18-25 à How He Was Born: The Virgin Birth (1:23, Isa. 7:14) and the name of the child – JESUS, which means “Savior”, “for He shall save His people from their sins” (1:21).
2:1-12 à Where He was Born: The predestinated circumstances which forced the birth of the child in Bethlehem (2:6, Micah 5:2), and the subsequent and notorious visit of the Magi.
2:13-18 à The Calamity Surrounding His Birth: Herod’s fury, Jesus’ flight to Egypt (2:15, Hosea 11:1), and the subsequent slaughter of the newborns (2:18, Jer. 31:15); via parallelism, a slaughter which suggests the situation in which Moses (the deliverer of Israel from bondage and a typological forerunner of Christ –Deut. 18:15) was born into and scarcely escaped.
2:19-23 à Where He Grew Up: The death of Herod and the subsequent traveling of the family to Nazareth to take residence there (2:23, Num. 6, Isa. 11:1): “He shall be called a Nazarene”.
Being guided by inspiration, Matthew details the credentials provided by differing agents chosen by God to verify Jesus’ true identity in the visible and invisible world: (#1) The Greatest of the Prophets, (#2) Two Persons of the Trinity, and (#3) The Devil.
3:1-12 à Credentialed by John the Baptist: The Cry in the wilderness, John the Baptist (3:3, Isa. 40:3), declaring the imminent end of Judaism if no fruits of repentance were found (3:10-12). Jesus Christ, the Messiah, is the Judaism-Changer – upon His arrival, which was imminent, Judaism will never be the same! John said, “He shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost, and with fire: Whose fan is in His hand, and He will thoroughly purge His floor, and gather His wheat into the garner; but He will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire” (Matt. 3:12)! For Jews, this is a staggering proclamation!
3:13-17 à Credentialed by the Trinity: An unprecedented confirmation and inaugural declaration wherein Jesus was heralded, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased”, by God the Father’s voice from Heaven (3:16-17) and, secondarily, the endowing presence of God the Holy Ghost was descending upon Jesus to rest upon Him henceforth like a mantle (Note: the mantle was for the ministry!). For the first time in human history all Three Persons of the Trinity were sensibly present and sensibly distinct One from Another at one single location for a testimony to mankind!
4:1-17à Credentialed by the Devil: The Devil bears witness of the undeniable truth that Jesus is “the Son of God” (4:3), and after his enticements were withstood, Christ began His ministry in the Land of Zebulon according to the prophecy (4:15-16, Isa. 9:1-2). You may wonder the veracity of this credential, my reader. You may be thinking, “How can one be credentialed by the Devil seeing that he is the father of lies?” To hold all scripture in balance we must consider, firstly, the significance of a personal visitation by the devil. Moreover, secondarily, we must look at the manner and content by which the devil tempted Jesus of Nazareth. Think of it, my reader. Why would the devil be visiting Jesus of Nazareth unless, like Job, He was the most righteous man on earth in His time? In the scenery of celestial glory this mysterious controversy arose between God Almighty and the Devil concerning Job; “And the LORD said unto Satan, Hast thou considered My servant Job, that there is none like Him in the earth, a perfect and an upright man, one that feareth God, and escheweth evil” (Job 1:8)? Upon this statement, the trial of Job’s life began… a trial which Job failed to endure. But, to the Jesus’ credit, where Job failed Jesus of Nazareth prevailed! Furthermore, my reader, look at the content of the Devil’s temptations to Jesus. These are not ordinary temptations undergone by ordinary human beings! The Devil tempted Jesus to command stones to become bread! I have never been tempted to do this, my reader; I do not suspect that you have either. This is because the Devil knew that Jesus was the Son of God. The fact that Jesus was the Son of God was somehow evident to the whole hoard of unclean spirits which resided under the leadership of Satan. Every time unclean spirits encountered Jesus they were about to or did cry out, “Thou art the Son of God”, but the scripture states that Jesus “straitly charged them that they should not make Him known” (Mk. 3:9-12). The demons knew the real identity of Jesus of Nazareth, my reader. It is affirmed by scripture that, “they knew Him” (Mark. 1:34). One can only imagine the celestial conversations which transpired in the invisible realm as a result of the incarnation and up-bringing of Jesus of Nazareth. “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men” (Lk. 2:14)!
With all the aforementioned details and verifications which credentialed Jesus as the Messiah and Christ, Matthew saw fit to overview a general introduction to His Ministry: (#1) Where His Ministry Began, (#2) What His Ministry Included, and (#3) How His Ministry was Distinct.
4:12-17 à Where His Ministry Began: Jesus Christ began His ministry in the Land of Zabulon according to the prophecy (4:15-16, Isa. 9:1-2).
4:18-25 à What His Ministry Included / How It Became Famous / What Made it Unstoppable (compare 4:18-25 with 8:14-17): Here we see the call and ingathering of the apostles at the onset of Christ’s ministry, a ministry which was ignited by the working of miracles. The flames of widespread fame did burn up the whole Land (“I am come to send fire on the earth; and what will I, if it be already kindled”-Lk.12:49) because the Lord Jesus was full of healing power which cured sicknesses and diseases in fulfillment of all the promised blessings via Old Testament Covenants (Ex. 15:26, Deut. 7:15, Ps. 103:3, Isa. 53:4), a healing power which was the fulfillment of prophecies foretelling the accomplishments of the Messiah (the sick: Isa. 53:4, the lame: Isa. 35:6, the blind: Isa. 43:8, the deaf: Isa. 35:5, the dumb: Isa. 35:6, the dead: Hos. 6:2, 13:14, Isa. 25:8, 26:19, John 5:28-29), and, furthermore, the Lord Jesus had all authority to cast out and subdue devils of any sort in fulfillment of what was foretold as Christ’s express purpose to overthrow, spoil, and punish the rulers, princes, and spirits which pertain to the invisible and worldwide kingdom of hell (“And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; and it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel” -Gen. 3:5; Rom. 16:20, Heb. 2:14-15, Isa. 24:21, Lk. 10:18, Rev. 12:7-8, 17, 1 Jn. 3:8, Col. 2:15, Rev. 20:10). Note: The Spirit in which Christ came (Lk. 9:55) to Israel was not to kill the demon-possessed or the adulteress, as the letter of the justice did righteously demand (demon-possessed: Ex. 22:18, Lev. 20:6, 27, 19:31, Deut. 18:10-12; adulteress: Lev. 20:10, Deut. 22:21-24)… the purpose of Christ’s coming was not to enact the curse/justice of the Law but to bear it - to absorb it and take it upon Himself! His purpose was not to bring a famine upon the Land to punish the wicked doers according to their evil deeds… no, my reader. Rather, it was to bring streams in desert places and spiritual health to a hell-bound people until the dry land becomes a pool of water (Isa. 35:5-8, 41:18). My reader, this is the thesis of Christ’s miracle ministry (see Matt. 8:14-17)! On this wise the Lord argued and testified, “If I do not the works of the My Father, believe Me not. But if I do, though ye believe not Me, believe the works: that ye may know, and believe, that the Father is in Me, and I in Him” (John 10:37-38). “Believe Me that I am in the Father, and the Father in Me: or else believe Me for the very works’ sake” (John 14:11). “If I had not come and spoken unto them, they had not had sin: but now they have no cloke for their sin. He that hateth me hateth my Father also. If I had not done among them the works which none other man did, they had not had sin: but now have they both seen and hated both me and my Father. But this cometh to pass, that the word might be fulfilled that is written in their law, They hated me without a cause” (John 15:22-25).
5:1-7:29 à How His Ministry was Distinct from False Judaism / What His Preaching Emphasized / A Comprehensive Refutation of Heretical Judaism (i.e. the tenets of inward religion re-clarified) / The Moral Law Upheld: The Lord Jesus upbraids the popular heresy of heretical Judaism in what is called, The Sermon on the Mount. His intentions were not to abolish the Ceremonial or Moral Law, but to fulfill and uphold them both. Confessing this, Jesus said, “Think not that I am come to destroy the Law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfill” (5:17). Therefore let us understand: in whatever point Jesus Christ was denouncing and refuting heretical Judaism, He did so to establish and uphold true Judaism - not to destroy but to fulfill.
Having begun in the Land of Zabulon and from thence, being famed throughout the Land of Israel through miracles, the miracles made way for the message, The Sermon on the Mount. Thenceforth and in the wake of so great a denouncement of popular heresy and false Judaism, the false prophets vehemently pursued Jesus’ defamation before the public-stage. This being the case – the stage being set: Truth vs Lie, The Messiah vs Popular Authority – a selected number of miracles which Jesus performed were recounted and narrated for the reader’s observance and full understanding. Doubtlessly, these events were controverted and slandered as they were reportedly sounded throughout the Land of Israel by the venomous tongues of bitter and envious Jews. In such a case, the events needed clarification by the true Disciples of Christ… What really happened? In what situational context? For what purpose? Who was present? And what does it all mean? The following historical events which Matthew recounts in Chapter 8 through Chapter 13 are an answer to the former questions. The historical events were not ordered by Matthew for the purpose historical chronology event-to-event, like a historian would be minded so to write. Matthew recounted and ordered a selected number of historical events for the sake of Gospel argumentation; he was trying to systematically persuade the Jews that Jesus of Nazareth is the Messiah. Therefore let us understand this most glorious fact: these miraculous deeds which Jesus did preached volumes of Gospel messages to a Law-enriched Jewish mindset! 1st century heretical Judaism with all the pomp of “established religion”, with the trust and title of the people and place of practical Judaism – even it could not withstand the impact of the Lord Jesus’ miraculous ministry because it was staged in perfect harmony with His majestic argumentation! The Lord Jesus’ deeds preached what the message, ministry, and Person of the Messiah existed to establish – A reformed, more perfect, and unprecedented Kingdom of God!