If you’re on track with our 5x5x5 plan, we have just finished the book of James, and are starting Matthew. Though we have already read one account of Jesus’ life in the book of Mark, you will find that Matthew’s story is from a different point of view. Imagine two of your close friends – if an outsider asked each of them to tell your life story, they would probably tell it slightly differently, each highlighting things they thought were important or particularly memorable. Your life story hasn’t changed, it is simply told from a different perspective!
Matthew was a Jew, a tax collector who became a disciple of Jesus. He writes to a Jewish audience using metaphors and references they would be familiar with. In fact, Matthew quotes the Old Testament more than any other New Testament author. The book of Matthew is the first in our New testament because it serves a bridge from the Old to New Testament. From the very first sentence Matthew makes it clear, he is connecting Jesus’ arrival with the Old Testament story line… a story that begins back with Abraham, Moses, the people of Israel, and a line of kings.
The Jews had been waiting thousands of years for a Messiah, a King – but Jesus and His kingdom were completely different from what the Jews expected. We learn more about the King (Jesus) and the Kingdom of God in Matthew’s collection of Jesus’ teachings including the Sermon on the Mount (Mt 5-7), Jesus’ interaction with people, and the parables (Mt 13-25).
As you read and reflect on Matthew here are some ideas to help you discover the riches of this gospel: Look up some the references to the Old Testament, highlight all of the commands Jesus gives, mark the word “kingdom” as you read, or simply ask the question, “Who is Jesus? What is he like?” and record what you discover in jour journal.
Persevere in your reading! One chapter a day is not too much! — Mindy
Dear 365 Readers,
Tomorrow (11/1) we start in the book of John. John’s gospel is entirely different than the other three we have read so far. Remember this, John is not primarily interested in relating the events of Jesus’s life. He presumes his readers are already familiar with Jesus. John tells us nothing of the birth of Christ or his youth. He is introduced as the adult Son of God.
Instead of narrating events, John is focused on explaining the profound meaning of what Jesus’ teachings and actions. John selected stories from approximately twenty days in Jesus’ life, and arranged them to reveal to us a Messiah with a mission. John chose seven signs (or miracles) and built his story around them, explaining clearly the meaning and significance of each event.
As you read John, consider carefully who Jesus is talking to in each instance. He treats each audience differently and it is worth noting if He’s talking to the disciples, his opponents, or a large crowd. It’s best to read John in sections – follow the sectional headings in your Bible and read both the event and the commentary on the event as a unit. John is telling each story for a reason.
Dear 365 Readers,
There are four gospels – Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John – and frequently we lump them all together. I am certainly guilty of this! However, it is fascinating to consider how each author chose a different style and emphasis for a different audience. We start reading Luke tomorrow (10/21).
Luke probably did not know Jesus personally as he was not one of the twelve disciples, but he was a dedicated early convert and he accompanied the apostle Paul on missionary trips. As Luke mentions in his opening paragraph, he felt the need to research eyewitness accounts and to write an orderly documentation of the life of Christ. His book shows thoroughness and detail, starting with before Jesus’ birth and ending after His ascension into heaven.
If Matthew was focused on tying together key points and sermons as they related to Jewish audiences and history, and Mark was a gospel of action for non-Jewish readers, then Luke could be considered the gospel of relationships. Luke notes many different ethnic, religious, and social groups and how they respond to Jesus, and he provides excellent character descriptions. Additionally, there are two large sections in Luke not found in other gospels: Chapters 1-2 on the birth of Jesus, and chapters 10-19 containing some of the most famous parables and teachings of Jesus.