The Gospel of Matthew.
It's here, in this first book of the New Testament, that a new figure in the Biblical narrative emerges...a Rabbi from Nazareth named Jesus.
At the conclusion of the Old Testament we find Israel and the world in a state of utter hopelessness. Israel was to be an example to all the nations of how to love God and love others. They were to point all nations to the one true and loving God, but they failed miserably. They chased after other gods and morally they were as corrupt as the wicked powers of the ancient world. No longer were they an example of God's perfect love and holiness. As a consequence of their own wicked choices, Israel was taken captive by Babylon.
Here is where the Old Testament ends; with prophecies unfulfilled and storylines left hanging there with no conclusions. God's plan to rescue humanity from evil comes to a screeching halt.
there was a promise, a whisper that one day a good and gracious King or Messiah would come from the line of King David (former king of Israel) and he would be what Israel couldn't be. He would be the one to rescue the world from evil. He would be a new type of King, that ruled with justice and goodness.
In the hopelessness and ashes of the story of the Old Testament is where the story of Jesus begins. The book of Matthew introduces us to this new King. He's a different type of king, a type of king the world has never known. Throughout the account of Matthew, Jesus tells us that He has come to set up a new kingdom here on Earth, the Kingdom of Heaven (Matthew 4:17).
Jesus makes the bold claim that He is more than just a Jewish Rabbi He is in fact God in human form, coming to take His world back. He has come to show us a new way to be human. In Jesus, Heaven and earth have collided and a new Kingdom is being established, a kingdom where death, evil, and sin are not king but Jesus is King, in all His love and righteousness.
Jesus teaches us about this New Kingdom throughout the chapters of Matthew. He tells us that this New Kingdom is an Upside-down Kingdom. In Matthew chapters 5-7 Jesus re-writes the story of humanity. Where the world has taught that power comes through conquering and domination, Jesus tells us that power comes through serving and humbling yourself. Where the world teaches that we are to hate our enemies and wish ill towards them, Jesus tells us that we are to love them and even pray for them...welcome to the upside down Kingdom of Heaven!
Many won't like this new way. Many will challenge Jesus, but for those who will humble themselves and by faith submit themselves to this New Kingdom, to the way of Jesus, they will find life (Matthew 8-25.)
In the death of Christ we find our life, in the Resurrection of Christ we find a life and cause worth laying our lives down for. The upside-down kingdom is an invitation to put to death the evil that lives in this world and in our hearts, and walk in newness of life, loving God and loving others with each breath we breathe (Matthew 26-28).
Join as we study through the Gospel of Matthew this semester, and learn about this new Kingdom and this new way to be human!