With twenty-eight chapters, Matthew’s Gospel is the longest of the four, and one sentence in today’s Gospel holds them all together. That sentence has Jesus telling us he had come, not to abolish the Law and the Prophets, but to fulfill them.
It was thirty years ago that I came to know a lot about Matthew’s Gospel. I was very comfortable with Luke’s Gospel, having taught with it for two years in high school, and I had intended to use my old notes to teach a seventh grade course in our grade school.
To make a show of being democratic, I asked the seventh graders which Gospel we should follow. A little Lutheran boy named Raymond spoke up, saying, “We want to do Matthew’s Gospel,” and the other kids, with nothing to do before lunch time, all came in with, “Matthew’s, we want Matthew’s Gospel.”
Then, in reading through expert commentaries on Matthew’s Gospel, I found that it was written as a defense against Jewish leaders who said that Jesus had gone against Judaism’s cherished traditions. There are two sides to the defense that Matthew set up.
For one thing, Matthew described over an over how Jesus did things that the Prophets said the Messiah would do. He fulfilled their prophesies.