First, it establishes that Jesus Christ is the Messiah that was prophesized throughout the Old Testament.
- The Lord will raise up for you a prophet like me among yourselves, from your own kinsmen. You are to pay attention to him. Deuteronomy 18:15
- I will raise up for them a prophet like you from among their kinsmen. I will put my words in his mouth, and he will tell them everything I order him. Deuteronomy 18:18
- And he shall set up a banner for the nations, and shall assemble the outcasts of Israel, and gather together the dispersed of Judah from the four corners of the earth. Isaiah 11:12
- When Israel was a child, I loved him, and out of Egypt I called my son. Hosea 11:1
- But he was wounded because of our crimes, crushed because of our sins; the diciplining that makes us whole fell on him, and by his bruises we are healed. Isaiah 53:5
Second, it proves that Jesus was the Son of God, whom He claimed to be through living a sinless and perfect life. 1 Peter 2:22 confirms it! He committed no sin, and no deceit was found in his mouth. This was also prophesized: He was assigned a grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death, though he had done no violence, nor was any deceit in his mouth (Isaiah 53:9).
Third, the Gospel records Jesus performing miracles over nature (calming the storm; Mat. 8:23-27), healing people (curing the servant; Mat. 8:5-13) and raising the dead (Jairus's daughter; Mat. 9:18-19). When you think about it, it's pretty awesome to imagine being a witness of Christ's power! How many people do you know that can calm furious waves (you know what I mean if you've ever been deep-sea fishing)? Or bring your loved ones back to life (Chris Angel doesn't count!)? And forget about the thousands of people He healed....this was no mind-trick! These people were the most diseased and outcasted; not simply your run-of-the-mill headcases. It's really no surprise that He was feared and revered. I can't honestly say I would have acted differently.
Fourth, Jesus personally gives over 200 (circus fire!) real lessons of how God desires people to live, respond through challenging circumstances, and make choices regarding their future for eternity.
These lessons include:
- Having faith (9:29)
- Dealing with fear (8:26)
- God answering prayers (8:2)
- The promise of salvation (10:22)
- Obeying God (15:19)
- Loving your neighbor (19:19)
- Sacrificing (20:22)
- Resolving legal issues (5:25)
- How to give to others (6:2)
- Forgiving others that sin against you (6:14)
- Resisting temptation (4:2)
- Being a hypocrite (23:28)
- Acknowledging Christ (10:32)
- The image of Heaven and Hell (13:49,50)
This Jesus guy was insane (the good kind of crazy)! He walks right into our lives and does His best to pull us to the finish line when we're feeling that our100 meters of testimony is much too far. I recommend Matthew to everyone; believers and non-believers alike. If we could all live a little more like the guidelines in this gospel, we'd find that life is honest and pure, and be that much closer to the Kingdom.