Jesus the Messiah
Matthew, the author of this Gospel, was one of Jesus’ disciples (pupils) and an apostle (missionary). His parents were devout in their Jewish faith and had high hopes for him (Matthew means ‘gift of the Lord’). His other name ‘Levi’ (used by Luke and Mark in their Gospels) indicates he might have come from priestly ancestors. However he had become socially despised because he was a tax collector with a bad reputation for greed and fraud, and for collaborating with the occupying forces. But Matthew responded to the call of Jesus (Matthew 9:9-13), was forgiven and commissioned to spread the gospel (Matthew 28:16-20).
Matthew’s Gospel starts with a statement about Jesus: He is both the Messiah (God’s anointed Saviour), and also a direct human descendent of King David and the patriarch Abraham. Jesus’ historical credentials were important for Jewish readers because they show an unbroken line all the way from Abraham: that meant He was a true Jew. An unbroken line from David meant He was a king-in-waiting. Although the genealogy goes to Joseph, who was not the biological father of Jesus (the Holy Spirit was), Joseph was the human authority over the household in which Jesus was born.
Jesus was not a mythical character. He had a physical birth and carefully recorded life, but at the beginning Matthew wanted his readers to understand that Jesus is not only fully God in a human body, but that He is also a man under God's law (Galatians 4:4). As a descendent of King David, He has the right and responsibility to rule His people. This is the Jesus who Christians believe in: God with authority and man with humility. For Him to be willing to die to save us is truly awesome. Christians need to have a new confidence in the unique person of Christ. If we share our faith, without explaining who Jesus is, we rob the gospel of its power. Then how can our friends believe in Him if they are confused about His identity?
© Dr Paul Adams