INTRODUCTION TO THE BOOK OF MATTHEW
(One great scholar says that this is the greatest book in the world.
It contains more of the teachings of Jesus Christ than any other book.)
Matthew begins his account of the life of Christ with a long, detailed genealogy. This was common among the Jews except that this one is really different from the average Jewish genealogy. The Jewish genealogies would never have included women, for in the Jewish economy, the woman was very unimportant. She was not really considered a person but a thing possessed by her father and then, after marriage, by her husband. Also, non-Jews were included in Jesus’ list and never in the normal Jewish genealogies. This announced at the very outset that Jesus was going to remove all barriers, and indeed Christianity was for all…male/female, Jew/Greek, bond and free. None were excluded from the call of Jesus Christ.
From the very outset, Matthew wants to emphasize that Jesus Christ was the King! His relationship to David, the greatest King in Jewish history, was emphasized repeatedly in this first book of the New Testament. Matthew aimed his book at the Jewish people. Many scholars believe the book was originally written in Hebrew and then translated into Greek. That Jesus was the King prophesied, as well as the Messiah, was the main thing Matthew wanted to convince all the Jewish people of.
God chose to send His Son to earth as a man, for several reasons. First, God wanted man to be able to identify with God and realize that he was a part of God’s family. Consequently, God did not come as the power who created the universe but as a human being, just like the rest of us. Then, God wanted man to realize that, in spite of all the forces which tempted man to ignore the will of God, it was possible to live according to His will. So Jesus, the man, was tempted in all ways that we are, yet without sin. If he was not totally man, then this was a farce, just a show, but God does not deal in dishonesty. So Jesus was totally man. James said a man is tempted when he is drawn away by his own lusts and enticed. If Jesus did not have to deal with the same lusts we have, then He was not tempted in all ways as we are. He was totally “made flesh” and dwelt among us. However, He had two facts of which He was totally conscious. One was that God was His Father. At the age of twelve, He told His earthly parents that He had to be about His Father’s business. His total motivation was always, “Not my will but Thine be done”, referring to the will of God. Second, it is evident that He was always conscious that He had a mission to perform which would end at the Cross. He even prayed that it might not be so, but He always knew that He was here to save us all from our sins. These two things were the driving forces of His life, and He fulfilled them perfectly.
I want you to note, as we continue to read and study this great book, how many times Jesus is referred to as the King. Every Christian should realize that following Jesus Christ makes you a prince in the household of God. Such an exalted privilege should make each of us determined to say with joy, “Not my will but Thine be done in my life”. The coming of Jesus Christ is the avenue by which the sins, that separate us from God, can be taken away. As a result, His Holy Spirit can dwell in us and give us the power to overcome, if we will let Him. When Mary was with child, it was the child of the Holy Spirit. That means that God is the Holy Spirit that Peter promised on Pentecost to all who would accept Jesus Christ as Lord of their life. What a magnificent privilege to have God’s Spirit dwell in me to help and protect me, if I will heed Him.