I’m excited about the challenge of reading through the New Testament in 2017! As I’ve mentioned, you can read the entire New Testament by reading one chapter per day, 5 days a week. Nothing will contribute to your spiritual growth like reading the Bible and asking the Holy Spirit to reveal God’s truth to you as you read.
If you’re starting with the gospel of Matthew, you should read chapters 1-5 this week. Matthew is “the gospel to the Jews.” In other words, Matthew writes with an audience of Jewish Christians in mind. The phrase “it is fulfilled” is found 39 times in this gospel. Matthew wants to show his Jewish audience how Christ is the fulfillment of Old Testament prophecy.
Another important theme in his gospel is the motif of Jesus as King. Jesus is the Messiah (the ‘anointed one’) who will fulfill the promises of a new kingdom in which God’s reign will be realized. Jesus opens the sermon on the mount by announcing that the poor in spirit will receive the kingdom of heaven. Matthew records numerous parables of Jesus that describe the kingdom of heaven. The kingdom of heaven is not a geographic territory or a piece of political turf—it is the rule of God and the reign of God in people’s lives. The kingdom is like a treasure hidden in a field (Matthew 13:44) or a pearl of great price (Matthew 13:45-46) for which a man sells all he has because of its incomparable value. When Jesus dies, the placard above the cross explains that Jesus is the “King of the Jews”—but of course, Jesus is much more than this, He is the King of the universe.
Matthew includes 5 large blocks of teaching, which may indicate that Jesus is the new Moses—just as Moses is seen as having written Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy (the five books of the Torah), Jesus is seen as delivering 5 major sections of teaching.
As you read the first five chapters of Matthew, be looking for the word ‘fulfilled.’ Notice the Old Testament prophecies that are made complete in Christ. Marvel at the accuracy of the Old Testament in predicting the arrival of the son of God. As you read Matthew 5:3, ask yourself, am I characterized by poverty of spirit—that is, am I dependent on God and do I understand my reliance on God?
This is the first part of a year-long journey that will change your life! I can’t wait to see what God will do! If you’re inclined to, send me a message about what you are discovering as you read God’s Word!