Note: This blog is the eighth in a series of posts on teaching the Gospel of Matthew. You can find the first blog on teaching Matthew HERE.
The third major section in Matthew serves to establish Jesus’ credentials as the Old Testament Messiah. This naturally follows the preaching of the gospel in the previous section. After explaining Jesus’ birth (Matthew 1-2) and introducing Jesus’ ministry (Matthew 3-4), Matthew gives to us in long form Jesus’ gospel, the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7). Matthew’s readers and Jesus’ hearers were likely to wonder what evidence there was to support such an outrageous claim—that God was fulfilling his promises to Israel and to the world with this Jewish peasant from Nazareth right under their noses. Matthew is happy to answer the question for the whole world by giving us Jesus’ messianic credentials. The outline for the section looks like this:
Section 3 – Jesus’ Messianic Credentials (8:1-10:42)
A. The Second Set of Narratives (8:1-9:38)
B. The Second Discourse – Instructions for the Twelve (10:1-42)
The second set of narratives is a collection of miracle stories that establish Jesus’ messianic credentials. The sermon that follows is a sermon that Jesus preached as he sent out his disciples on mission. Below is the outline I followed as I taught with some discussion questions. I gave this to my church folks as a handout as I taught. Note: some of the language below is adapted from the study notes on Matthew that I wrote for the Worldview Study Bible (Holman Bible Publishers, 2018).
A Collection of Miracles (8:1-9:38):
Matthew 8–9 contain ten miracles of Jesus. These miracles were carefully chosen by Matthew and combined into these two chapters to conclusively make the case that Jesus is the miracle-working Messiah of the Old Testament, that He does the things that only God can do—heal the sick, raise the dead, command his creation, and cast out demons.
Throughout this section Matthew prominently displays texts in which gentiles have profound faith in Jesus (e.g. Mt 8:5-13; 15:21-31) in order to convince his readers that God intends the good news about Jesus the Messiah to go to all the nations.
1. What do you make of Jesus’ unusual instructions in 8:4? What does this tell us about Jesus and the gospel?
2. Matthew tells the miracle story in 9:18-26 as evidence that the entire Old Testament ultimately bears witness to Jesus. How does this story do that? How does this story relate to the “clean and unclean” Old Testament codes? Why does this story end the way it does?
3. After the end of a lengthy series of miracles, Jesus takes stock of what is happening (9:35-38). What does he see? What does he say? What does he instruct us to do?
Jesus’ Sermon (10:1-42):
Jesus’ second major discourse was a sermon Jesus preached as he sent out his disciples on a mission. He gives them instructions for their journey, and he warns them that not everyone will receive the good news with joy. Jesus is clear, however, that they have nothing to fear. God in heaven loves them and is concerned for their welfare. Jesus concludes the sermon with an encouragement to good works and with a comparison. When Jesus says that a disciple of his must take up his cross and follow Him, he is using crucifixion, the torturous Roman method of execution, to explain true discipleship. Genuine belief in Jesus produces followers who are willing to lay down their lives, even in crucifixion, for the Messiah and the kingdom of God
It is fitting that this sermon follows the miracles stories in Matthew 8-9. The proclamation of the good news to the whole world is the Messiah’s most well-established Old Testament credential.
1. As modern believers in Jesus, how should we think about the authority Jesus grants to the twelve disciples (v. 8)?
2. What should we make of Jesus’ instructions to the disciples for what to take and what not to take on their mission (vs. 8-11)?
3. According to Jesus’ sermon, how does the gospel bring peace to people? How does the gospel bring division (“the sword”)?