Matthew Tells His Story

1 Jan

To begin 2013 we turn to the first book of the New Testament–Matthew.  Every book of the Bible is “alive” with personal teachings from God.  Matthew is the first introduction to the story of Jesus.  My goal in writing will be to help Jesus come more alive in our lives.  For it is in the drawing near to God–through Jesus–that God draws near to us.  “Come–Lord Jesus–dwell with us this year and reveal yourself to each of us in ways that help us reflect Your love and care to our world.”

The Introduction–God’s Word: The book of MatthewBethlehem

The story of Jesus doesn’t begin with Jesus.  God had been at work for a long time.  Salvation, which is the main business of Jesus, is an old business.  Jesus is the coming together in final form of themes and energies and movements that had been set in motion before the foundation of the world.

Matthew opens the New Testament by setting the local story of Jesus in its world historical context.  He makes sure that as we read his account of the birth, life, death, and resurrection of Jesus, we see the connections with everything that has gone before, “Fulfilled” is one of Matthew’s characteristic verbs: such and such happened “that it might be fulfilled.”  Jesus is unique, but he is not odd.

Better yet, Matthew tells the story in such a way that not only is everything precious to us completed in Jesus; we are completed in Jesus.  Every day we wake up in the middle of something that is already going on, that has been going on for a long time: genealogy and geology, history and culture, the cosmos—God.  We are neither accidental nor incidental to the story.  We get orientation, briefing, background, reassurance.

Matthew provides the comprehensive context by which we see all God’s creation and salvation completed in Jesus, and all the parts of our lives—work, family, friends, memories, dreams—also completed in Jesus.  Lacking such a context, we are in danger of seeing Jesus as a mere diversion from the concerns announced in the newspapers.  Nothing could be further from the truth.

(Written by Eugene Peterson, writer of “The Bible in Contemporary Language” The Message)

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