When reading the book of Matthew in the Bible, you’ll find that if you use a highlighter while reading, that every page will become full of color. You’ll find yourself highlighting everything, because there’s not one moment mentioned in Matthew that isn’t important on some level in understanding the story being told. I like Matthew because the writer makes Jesus jump off the pages at you, Jesus becomes real, and regardless of your personal spiritual belief, that makes for a good story.
Matthew serves as a transition between the old and new testaments. The book was written by one of the twelve disciples who happened to be a tax collector who was called forth by Jesus to follow him. The twenty-eight chapters in Matthew are believed to have been written around 70 AD, although some scholars refute it to have been written around 50-60 AD. Matthew opens with the genealogy of Jesus and this is important because here we learn Jesus’ family tree. Matthew takes his readers through the birth to the death to the resurrection.
Matthew focuses mainly on the miracles and teachings of Jesus. It’s within the miracles that Jesus’ character is firmly developed. Matthew reveals to us how Jesus healed many including but not limited to: a man with leprosy in Matthew 8:1-4; Peter’s (another disciple) mother-in-law in Matthew 8:14-15; two demon possessed men in Matthew 8:28-34; a paralytic in Matthew 9:1-8; a dead girl and a sick woman in Matthew 9:18-26; the blind and mute in Matthew 9:27-34.
We learn that Jesus was a great storyteller himself when Matthew tells us of the parables. Jesus spoke in parables, which are stories with lessons, in order that everyone could understand. The book of Matthew is rich with Jesus’ stories, but Matthew must have thought the parables were important because he dedicated an entire chapter to them. We’re introduced to six parables in Matthew 13; the parable of the sower, the parable of the weeds, the parable of the mustard seed and the yeast, the parable of the weeds explained, the parables of the hidden treasure and the pearl, and the parable of the net.
From chapter 13 on, Matthew continues to introduce us to this man named Jesus who could walk on water (14:22-36), feed four thousand people with seven loaves and a few fish (15:29-39), predict his own death (20:17-19), and turn over the money changers’ tables at the temple (21:12-17). Throughout the book we’re told of things that Jesus did that make readers think ‘how did Jesus do that?’ What struck me the most about Matthew outside of the miracles and teachings is learning that Jesus didn’t want his disciples to tell anyone that he was the Christ (16:20).
Why wouldn’t Jesus want people to know he was the Messiah? The editors of the Quest Study Bible say in a brief article within the book that timing in Jesus’ ministry had to be perfect and crowds following Jesus were growing larger with the higher chance of attracting attention from the religious authorities. Jesus knew there would be people opposed to his teachings, an opposition that would later result in his death on the cross. It wasn’t until after the death and resurrection that Jesus told the disciples to go out into the world and tell everybody about him (Matthew 28:16-20).
Matthew is a perfect book to start reading if you’re interested in getting to know a little bit about Jesus. It’s not really a book of rules but of guidelines and examples for how one should live. I recommend it; it’s worth your time.