Who is Jesus Christ according to Matthew?
Who is Jesus Christ? The entire Bible is centered around Him, and the four gospel accounts – Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John – describe Him in detail as they chronicle His life and teachings during His time on earth. While each gospel describes Him accurately, they each point out different aspects of His teaching, character, or personhood. Like different artists painting the same portrait, the authors are different for each gospel account, and they each highlight unique details about the deity and personhood of Christ Jesus. Matthew, formerly a tax collector and later one of Jesus’ 12 disciples, was an eyewitness to the life of Christ, and one of the key aspects of Jesus that Matthew highlights is Jesus’ absolute right to the title of Messiah – the “anointed one” and His place as King.
Matthew 1 opens with a genealogy. “The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the Son of David, the Son of Abraham” (vs. 1). It goes on to detail the generations from Abraham to David, and David to Jesus. To many of us today who read this genealogy, it feels superfluous to include all those names and they can be easy to skip over. However, so much hinges on this passage, and Matthew was very intentional with this opening to his gospel account. He knew the importance of setting the stage, so it would be clear to his Jewish audience who was being introduced. He wanted them to know without a doubt that Jesus was the promised Messiah.
In Western society, the significance of the genealogy may not be as easy to understand as it is in other parts of the world. For example, in tribal areas of Togo, West Africa, Christians view Matthew 1 as a key evangelistic passage of Scripture. Many believers in the Middle East have said similar things. You see, while Americans usually gain influence through position, money, or expertise, in many tribes your right to speak with authority comes purely from your lineage. If you are the first-born son of a powerful family, and your father was the first-born son, and you can trace your family line back through the decades, that is what gives you importance and authority to speak. The very first thing Matthew does in his gospel account is to establish that Jesus has this lineage and that He has this authority. In Matthew 1 we see Jesus’ lineage traced back to David, and all the way back to Abraham, making clear His claim to the kingly line of David, and His fulfilment of the Messianic promises.
By the time Jesus came to earth, the people of Israel had been waiting for the promised Messiah for a long time. All throughout the Old Testament there are references and descriptions of the Messiah, and Matthew consistently references these Old Testament passages to show this connection to Jesus.
John MacArthur says,
“Matthew’s purpose is… to demonstrate that Christ is the King and Messiah of Israel. This gospel quotes more than sixty times from Old Testament prophetic passages, emphasizing how Christ is the fulfilment of all those promises.
“His purpose is clear: to demonstrate that Jesus is the Jewish nation’s long-awaited Messiah. His voluminous quoting of the Old Testament is specifically designed to show the tie between the Messiah of promise and the Christ of history. The purpose is never out of focus for Matthew, and he even adduces many incidental details from the Old Testament prophecies as proof of Jesus’ messianic claims (e.g., 2:17, 18; 4:13-15; 13:35; 21:4-5; 27:9-10).”
The Lord used Matthew to write an eyewitness account, intended for Jewish audiences, to show the Messianic fulfilment found in the person of Jesus Christ. He walks readers through the attacks Jesus faced from religious leaders, the miracles performed, the parables He taught, and ultimately the death and resurrection that promises us a salvation we can find in no other. God did not leave His people without a Savior, without a Messiah.
From the beginning to the end, the Bible paints a picture of Jesus, detailing more of who He is with each name, with each prophecy fulfilled, with each glimpse into His character. While Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever, there is always something new we can learn about Him. He is Savior, Messiah, Redeemer, Creator, and King.
The last words of the book of Matthew solidify all the statements already made about Jesus. Chapter 28 records two instances where people worship Him as the risen Savior (vs. 9, 17), recognizing Him for who He truly is, and the very last thing Matthew shares with us is Jesus’ charge to the disciples, clearly defining who He is and what authority He has. Praise God for sending Jesus as the Anointed One to fulfil more than we could ever ask or imagine.
“And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, ‘All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.’ Amen.” Matthew 28:18-20
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- MacArthur, J. (2007). Matthew: The coming of the King (pp. 1-2). Nelson Impact. ↑
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