The world today is chaotic: Covid-19, Myanmar coup, corruption, crime, misconduct, violence, sickness, mental illness, natural disasters, accidents, climate change, hunger and injustice. What message can the Word of God (Matthew) bring to us?
Matthew begins with the genealogy, thus providing a link between the Old Testament (OT) and the New Testament (NT). I asked myself, ‘Why?’ What can I learn?
Then a thought came to mind: there is an explicit connection between the OT Messianic prophecies as being fulfilled by Jesus in the New Testament. We see God’s plan (mentioned in OT) fulfilled, for example, Jesus as servant is a fulfilment of Isa 42:1-4. This is what is distinctive about Matthew as I read it in two sittings. God is in control and He is the God of History, the present and the future.
In Matthew, we have details of John the Baptist, the baptism of Jesus, Jesus’ being tested in the wilderness, Jesus going to Jerusalem, the sermon on the Mount, Jesus’ teaching and ministry, the parables, Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection, interwoven with the cost of discipleship and ending with the Great Commission to go, teach and make disciples (Mt 28:19-20).
There is the repetition of ‘the kingdom of heaven has come’ (Mt 10:7; 13:11), perhaps indicating the fulfilment nature of Jesus’ ministry. There were also many references to OT, for example, Elijah (Mt 11:14), Jesus using Scripture (from OT) to counter the devil’s attack in the temptation scene (Mt 3:4).
How does this affect the church and me?
First, it reaffirms in a refreshing way the fact that God is in control, as compared to the uncertainty in the present world. God’s plan of salvation is fulfilled in the coming of Jesus and that Jesus is with us.
Reading Matthew again, I was filled with a deep sense of peace as I realized afresh that God is in control. Faith in Jesus (just like the faith of the Carmelite woman, Mt 15:22) is needed. Together with other members of the church, we encourage one another with the living Word of God and listen with quiet assurance that God is in control.
Thank you, dear God, for the distinct message in Matthew for us at this time. We can always trust in you, who is our King and who is always in control.
Dr Vivien Ler