The Long-Awaited King of the Jews
Read Matthew 16:15-19 (ESV)
He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” Simon Peter replied, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” And Jesus answered him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven. And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.”
How does Matthew’s Gospel account bolster your faith that Jesus is truly the long-awaited Messiah?
Why do you believe Jesus is the Messiah and the Son of God? Is it because your family told you so? Is it because that’s just what Christians are supposed to believe? Have you ever considered that you don’t have to just rely on blind faith? Did you know that historical accounts of Jesus’s life, death, and resurrection give us solid evidence so that we can make a thoughtful and intelligent decision about whether or not Jesus’ claims to be the Messiah are true?
One historical account that presents this solid evidence is the Gospel of Matthew, the first book in the New Testament. Matthew was a Jew, but as a tax collector he was probably not very popular within the Jewish community. Regardless, Jesus called him to be one of the twelve people closest to Him, one of the apostles (Matthew 9:9-12). That means that Matthew was an eyewitness to Jesus’ ministry, death, resurrection, and ascension. The Gospel of Matthew covers the major events in Jesus’ life, from about 4 B.C. - 33 A.D. Most scholars believe that he wrote his Gospel in the late 50s to early 60s A.D. What sets Matthew’s Gospel apart from the other 3 Gospels is that Matthew wrote to his fellow Jews to provide evidence demonstrating that Jesus uniquely fulfilled the prophecies concerning the Messiah they had been waiting for.
Matthew started off with Jesus’ genealogy: “The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham.” (Matthew 1:1). The Jews knew that the coming Messiah had to be a descendant of Abraham: “In you all the families of the earth shall be blessed” (Genesis 12:3). In addition, for Jesus to be the King the Jews were expecting, He had to come from David’s line: “And your house and your kingdom shall be made sure forever before me. Your throne shall be established forever” (2 Samuel 7:16) and “Behold, the days are coming, declares the LORD, when I will raise up for David a righteous Branch, and he shall reign as king and deal wisely, and shall execute justice and righteousness in the land” (Jeremiah 23:5). In just the first verse alone, Matthew proved that Jesus came from the correct family tree. Then, he went on to document 14 generations before David and 14 generations after David. The Jewish community kept meticulous records of a person’s heritage because in their culture a person’s ancestry was everything. For us, this well-established genealogy is evidence that Jesus was a real man who really existed in history.
But Matthew doesn’t stop there. He goes on to use about 130 Old Testament references to show that Jesus fulfilled the prophetic qualifications necessary to be the Messiah. Matthew confirmed that Jesus was born in Bethlehem just as the prophet Micah had said He would (Micah 5:2, Matthew 2:1). He confirmed that Jesus was born of a virgin just as Isaiah 7:14 had predicted (Matthew 1:18-23). Many verses that were our Scarlet Threads of redemption from the Old Testament were referenced by Matthew as fulfilled in Jesus!
Matthew also described the healing miracles of Jesus which the prophet Isaiah had also prophesied about in Isaiah 35. He also recorded detailed accounts of Jesus’ teaching ministry. Scholars say that well over half of the book of Matthew’s verses are quotations of Jesus.
Most importantly, Matthew recorded the events of what we now refer to as “Holy Week.” Jesus didn’t just claim to be the Son of God and the King over everything—He proved it by conquering death. Matthew documented the empty tomb and the fact that women had been the first to discover it, the response of the guard and Jewish religious leaders, and the Great Commission.
Matthew’s purpose in writing his Gospel was to prove to a skeptical Jewish audience that Jesus was the long-awaited Messiah. Even though we may not be of Jewish heritage, Matthew’s focus on fulfilled prophecies bolsters our faith as well. Our faith is well-placed that Jesus is who He said He is—the Christ, the Son of God and the long-awaited King.
Jesus, thank You for the gift of fulfilled prophecies to bolster my faith in You. I know that You are who You claimed to be. You are the Messiah, the Son of God, the King of Jews, and the King over everything forever. Amen.
~ Pastor Nat Crawford
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