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Matthew: The Hinge of the Bible (3 of 29)
Series: Through the New Testament
Matthew 1:1, 18-23, 5:17, 23:37-39, 28:18-20
Introduction: Matthew 1 is probably the most read chapter in the entire Bible. You read most books by starting at the beginning. So people start reading the New Testament in the same way. Unfortunately, a lot of folk open the New Testament to Matthew 1:1. They confront what seems like an endless list of impossible to pronounce names. They quickly give up, wrongly concluding that the whole Bible must be like that. For far too many folk, Matthew 1 is the beginning and ending place of their Bible reading.
Matthew is also the hinge of the Bible. It is that pivot point upon which everything else turns. It is the swinging gate between the Old and the New Testaments. It is no accident that Matthew's Gospel sits at the beginning of the New Testament or begins with Jesus' family tree. It provides a place to enter the message of Jesus for anyone who has started in the Old Testament. That's the focus of the book--Jesus the fulfiller of the Old.
Matthew is different than the other gospels. It is the most Jewish. This first Gospel presumes some background. It talks about topics and makes connections that someone who isn't at least familiar with the Old Testament could not possibly understand or appreciate. Matthew was written by a Jew to introduce Jewish readers to Jesus, the Jewish Messiah. Matthew answers the question Jesus asks his disciples near the center of the book, "Who do you say that I am?" (Mt 16:15-16). The answer? The Christ--the son of the Living God and fulfiller of the Old Testament.
We may not be Jewish, but Matthew's case for Christ is still compelling. He provides a foundation for our faith by bridging the New Testament and the Old. Tonight we will look into the world of this first book of the New Testament through three different windows. 1) Matthew's life--we will learn about the writer. 2) Matthew's book, we see how it fits together. 3) Matthew's Christ--we will zero in on the unique message about Jesus.
Matthew's Life: Matthew tells us how he first met Jesus (9:9-12). Later he is among those sent out by Jesus to preach the Good News of the Kingdom (10:2-3).
This much we know. Matthew was a Jew and a tax collector. This meant that he worked for the Roman occupation forces. While the details aren't told here, we know that often the tax collectors would bid for their jobs. Once he received the franchise for a given area, the tax collector could cheat, steal, bribe--whatever it took. The Romans cared only that they received the taxes they demanded. Anything over that was the collector's commission. If push came to shove, the tax collector could use Roman soldiers to back his demands. Tax collecting was a corrupt and hated occupation.
Matthew, or Levi his birth name, worked the wealthy Capernaum trade route near the north shore of the Sea of Gali ...
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