The Works and Words of the Messiah-King for Jewish and Gentile Disciples
Philippe R. Sterling
Matthew presents Jesus as the Messiah-King who prepares and commissions disciples to take the kingdom message to Israel and to make disciples from all the nations to the end of the age.
Who wrote the Gospel of Matthew? Early church tradition ascribes the gospel to Matthew whose call to discipleship is found in Matt 9:9.
When did Matthew write his gospel? Matthew wrote at a time when most believers were Jewish. It could be the earliest gospel written sometime after 40 AD.
Why did Matthew write his gospel? John had an evangelistic aim (Jn. 20:31), but Matthew wrote his gospel for disciples of Jesus who already believed in Him for eternal life. He summarizes the works and words of the Messiah for disciples who are preparing for the coming kingdom. The teaching of Jesus has application for Jewish believers at the time of the offer of the kingdom to the Jewish nation, for believers from all nations in the intervening church age after the postponement of the kingdom offer to Israel, and for Tribulation period believers prior to the return of Christ to the earth to establish the kingdom.
Literary Structure and Content
What is the structure of the Gospel of Matthew? Matthew divided his material into 5 major sections, each of which contains a number of events from the life of Jesus and an extended discourse by Jesus to His disciples. At the close of each discourse is an editorial comment: (7:28) When Jesus had finished these words, (11:1) When Jesus had finished giving instructions, (13:53) When Jesus had finished these parables, (19:1) When Jesus had finished all these words, ( 26:1) When Jesus had finished all these words. The 5 major sections are preceded with the infancy narrative and followed with the passion and resurrection narrative. Matthew concludes the gospel with what is now called the Great Commission, Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations… teaching them to observe all that I commanded you… (28:16-20). Here’s the macro structure and detailed content:
The Infancy Narrative (1–2)
Section 1 – Initial Ministry and Kingdom Preparation Discourse (3–7)
Section 2 – Messianic Deeds and Mission Discourse (8–11:1)
Section 3 – Resistance and Parable Discourse (11:2–13:53)
Section 4 – Rebellion and Community Discourse (13:54–19:1)
Section 5 – Rejection and End Times Discourse (19:2–26:1)
The Passion and Resurrection Narrative with the Great Commission (26:2–28:20)
I. The Infancy Narrative: Jesus’ lineage, birth, and childhood show Him to be the Messiah-King (1–2).
A. Genealogy: Jesus’ lineage demonstrates Him to be both the sacrificial Son of Abraham and the sovereign
Son of David (1:1-17).
B. Virgin Birth: The circumstances and events surrounding Jesus’ birth demonstrate Him to be the promised
Savior and King (1:18-25). Joseph and Mary represent model disciples in their obedience.
C. Infancy: The Father’s protection of Jesus in His childhood demonstrates Him to be the promised Savior for
all nations (2:1-23).
II. Initial Ministry: God exercised great care in preparing Jesus’ way, affirming Jesus’ character, and establishing
the foundation of His ministry (3–4).
A. Forerunner: God prepared Jesus’ way through John the Baptizer (3:1-12).
B. Baptism: God affirmed Jesus’ character at His baptism (3:13-17).
C. Temptation: God tested Jesus’ character through hardship and temptation in the wilderness (4:1-11).
D. Call of First Disciples: God prepared the foundation of Jesus’ ministry with the right message, the right men,
and the right method (4:12-25).
III. Kingdom Preparation Discourse: Jesus lays down the standards of character and conduct appropriate for
His disciples as they live in anticipation of the coming kingdom and impact their world (5–7).
A. Jesus’ disciples will impact their world when their righteousness surpasses mere religiosity (5).
1. Nine qualities merit reward in this life and in the kingdom: poor in spirit, mourn, meek, hunger and thirst
for righteousness, merciful, pure in heart, peacemakers, persecuted for righteousness, persecuted for
2. Two metaphors reflect impact on the world: salt of the earth, light of the world (5:3-16).
3. Righteousness of Jesus’ disciples must surpass mere religiosity (5:17-20).
4. Every act and attitude should be characterized by a righteousness that surpasses mere
appearance: murder and anger, adultery and lust, marriage and divorce, oaths and words, revenge, love
for neighbors and enemies (5:21-48). Be perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect!
B. Jesus’ disciples should live for God’s approval and be motivated by their love for God and trust in His
1. Disciples of Jesus live for God’s approval, not the praise of people, particularly in the areas of giving,
prayer and fasting (6:1-18).
2. Disciples of Jesus are motivated by their love for God (6:19-24).
3. Disciples of Jesus are motivated by confidence in the Father’s provision for their basic needs (6:25-34).
C. Jesus’ disciples will evidence their righteousness in their relationships and choices (7).
1. Disciples of Jesus discern their own faults before examining the faults of others (1-6).
2. Disciples of Jesus make requests of their heavenly Father (7-11).
3. Disciples of Jesus treat others with kindness (12).
4. Disciples of Jesus make choices that lead to life, not destruction – two gates, two guides, two
5. Disciples of Jesus recognize His authority in His demands for righteous character (28-29).
IV. Messianic Deeds – Demonstration of authority: Jesus demonstrates divine authority, exercised with
compassion, proving himself to be the promised Messiah-King – there are 9 manifestations of power arranged
into 3 groups of 3 events each followed by a statement of effect on people (8–9).
A. Jesus exercises authority and compassion to heal physical diseases–the cleansing of the leper, the healing
of the centurion’s servant, and the restoration to health of Peter’s mother-in-law (8:1-17). Immediately after,
a man says to Jesus, “Teacher, I will follow you wherever you go,” to which Jesus replies with a teaching on
the cost of discipleship (8:18-22).
B. Jesus exercises authority over the elements by stilling the storm, over the spirit world by casting out
demons, and over sin by healing the paralytic (8:23–9:8). The effect was that people were afraid and
glorified God (9:8).
C. Jesus calls sinners into discipleship — call of Matthew (9:9-13).
D. Jesus brings new spiritual realities that cannot be expressed in the same old patterns and forms --
three illustrations of wedding, cloth, and wine (9:14-17).
E. Jesus exercises authority over death by raising a child from the dead, heals the woman who touched him,
and restores sight to two blind men (9:18-30). The effect is that people marvel (9:26, 31, and 33).
F. Jesus’ authority over the spirit world causes the people to marvel and provokes the Pharisees (9:32-34).
G. Jesus’ example encourages disciples to be as compassionate to the lost and needy people of this world
V. Mission Discourse – Delegation of authority: Jesus trains His disciples to carry out His ministry, giving
them instruction for a limited mission to the house of Israel, realistic expectations of persecution in the near and
far future, a clarified challenge concerning the cost of discipleship, and hopeful reassurances concerning
the Father’s care in this life and reward in the life to come (10).
VI. Resistance: Jesus and his disciples encounter opponents who doubt His identity in spite of all the
evidence supporting His identity as Messiah-King (11–12).
A. Even the Messiah-King’s forerunner had doubts about His identity (11:1-6).
B. The hypocrites of Israel were impossible to satisfy; neither the Messiah-King nor His forerunner were credible
in their eyes (11:7-19).
C. Because Israel continued to reject the Messiah-King, even when presented with miraculous proof of His
identity, He warned them of their greater accountability and their harsher judgment (11:20-24).
D. In the midst of a faithless generation, there is a believing and faithful remnant that enjoy the blessings of rest
in the Messiah-King (11:25-30).
E. In contrast to the rest the Messiah-King offers, the hypocrites place impossible burdens on the people, and
they will go so far as to destroy the King in order to keep the people subject to them (12:1-14).
F. In contrast to the murderous hypocrites, the Messiah-King serves his people gently and humbly (12:15-21).
G. Rather than succumbing to the hypocrites’ slander, the Messiah-King warns them that their accusations
will condemn them at the judgment (12:22-37).
H. The Messiah-King refuses to play the hypocrites’ game, denying them more fuel for their opposition and
I. The King defines disciples who do the will of the Father as His family (12:46-50).