We started studying Matthew last night in small group and I noticed something I never really saw before.
I knew that Matthew was written to new converts from Judaism in an attempt to prove that Jesus is the Messiah. Because of that, Matthew uses lots of Jewish phrases and he approaches the story of Jesus with a distinctively Jewish undertone. Anyway, what I had never noticed was all the ways that Matthew lines up with the Exodus. Exodus was a collective memory in the subconsciousness of the Jewish people, so Matthew appealed to them even on a subconscious level. Here’s what I’ve noticed so far: (I’m sure there’s more.)
Before the Exodus, God had been silent for over 400 years. Before Jesus’ birth, God had been silent for over 400 years.
Like Israel (God’s chosen people), Jesus came out of Egypt.
Israel began it’s journey to the promised land by passing through the Red Sea. Jesus passed through the Jordan and then began his journey to the cross.
Israel wandered and suffered in the desert. Jesus was tempted and suffered in the desert.
Israel followed the pillar of fire on it’s way to the promised land. Wise men followed a star on their way to Jesus.
This one is not from Matthew, but is in the Gospels – Moses’ was bringing Israel out of slavery in Egypt and his first miracle was to change water (the river) into blood. Jesus’ brought us out of slavery to sin and his first miracle was to turn water into wine. Later, he would call wine, his blood.
Anyway, I just thought it was all pretty interesting.
Hmm. . . . I’m not even sure what to write today. I’m sitting in class right now getting ready for my 3rd NT class. So far we haven’t covered that much. We’re actually still in Matthew. I think today we’re gonna cover the second half of it. I’m not sure how we’re gonna get through Mark, Luke, and John in just two weeks, but that seems to be the plan. There are quite a few other things I gotta write about that I have already learned, but I just haven’t found the time to really get down to it yet.
Over the past few weeks here’s what I’ve picked up regarding Matthew:
Matthew wrote to the Jews for two purposes: (1) to show them that Jesus is the Messiah and (2) to explain why they didn’t receive the Kingdom they were expecting would come with the Messiah.
To prove part 1 (Jesus is the Messiah), Matthew used four things: (1) In Chapter 1, he shows Jesus as Messiah with the geneaology. (2) Chapter 2-4, he shows how Jesus fulfills the Old Testament Prophecies regarding the Messiah. (3) In Chapter 5-7 (Sermon on the Mount) Matthew shows that Jesus has the ability to grant access into the Kingdom. and (4) In Chapters 8-12, Matthew shows Jesus doing miracles, which again proves Him as Messiah.
For Matthew’s second purpose in writing His book, (explaining why they hadn’t received the Kingdom if the Messiah had come) Chapter 12-28 cover that. In Chapter 12:31-32, we see the unpardonable sin. It makes sense, that this is the unpardonable sin, because Jesus is speaking to the Jews. They had rejected the prophets who spoke God’s own words – thereby rejecting God, the Father. They had rejected Jesus, and now they were rejecting the Holy Spirit. This is the unpardonable sin because God has no more revelation in which He reveals Himself so that people can be saved. If each of them – the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit have been rejected – there’s no where else to go for pardon.
Read Numbers 15 – 37 The LORD said to Moses, 38 “Speak to the Israelites and say to them: ‘Throughout the generations to come you are to make tassels on the corners of your garments, with a blue cord on each tassel. 39 You will have these tassels to look at and so you will remember all the commands of the LORD, that you may obey them and not prostitute yourselves by going after the lusts of your own hearts and eyes. 40 Then you will remember to obey all my commands and will be consecrated to your God. 41 I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of Egypt to be your God. I am the LORD your God.’ “
God tells Moses to tell the people that they are supposed to put tassels on the corners of their clothes so that they can be constantly reminded that they are supposed to live like God has told them to. Anyway, if you were a Jew in those days, you’d see people wearing these tassels all throughout the day and when you saw them, you remembered that you were one of God’s people.
The Hebrew word for “corners” is “kanaf” and the Hebrew word for “tassel” or “fringe” is “tzitzit.”
Many Jews wear a prayer shawl today in order to keep this commandment. The tassels today have 5 knots in them representing the 5 books of the Torah (Our first five books) and the four spaces between them represent the four letter for God’s name YHWH. Along the shawl there are also 613 knotted strings to remind them of the 613 laws of the torah.
Now check out Malachi 4 – But for you who revere my name, the sun of righteousness will rise with healing in its wings.
The Hebrew word translated “wings” is “kanaf.” Now what do you think?? This means that the verse could be translated “The sun of righteousness will rise with healing in its ______.” (Tassels.)
Now because of this there was a legend that people began to believe about the coming Messiah which said that there would be some kind of mysterious almost magical healing powers in the tassels of his prayer shawl.
Now read Luke 8 – As Jesus was on his way, the crowds almost crushed him. And a woman was there who had been subject to bleeding for twelve years, but no one could heal her. She came up behind him and touched the edge of his cloak, and immediately her bleeding stopped.
“Who touched me?” Jesus asked.
When they all denied it, Peter said, “Master, the people are crowding and pressing against you.”
But Jesus said, “Someone touched me; I know that power has gone out from me.”
Then the woman, seeing that she could not go unnoticed, came trembling and fell at his feet. In the presence of all the people, she told why she had touched him and how she had been instantly healed. Then he said to her, “Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace.”
Pretty cool huh? Did you catch it? The woman believed the legend and actually touched Jesus’ “tzitzit,” His tassles, His “kanaf.” In her actions she was proclaiming that she believed He was the Messiah. This is why Jesus was so quick to say “Your faith has healed you!” Her action alone was a huge expression of faith.