Introduction: We start a new series about the Gospel of Matthew.
Matthew was a disciple of Jesus who had been a tax collector for the
Romans – a profession despised by the Jews. What a miraculous turn-around that Matthew should write one of the accounts of Jesus! What
an interesting background for Matthew’s writing. Let’s dive into our
study and learn more!

  1. Background

    1. Read Matthew 9:9. What skills does a tax collector bring
      to Jesus’ mission? (Tax collectors “bid” to collect the
      taxes for a certain region. Matthew’s profit was the
      difference between what he paid the Romans for the right
      to collect taxes and the amount he collected. This
      requires someone who keeps careful records, has initiative
      and intelligence.)

    2. Read Matthew 9:10-11. Why would the Pharisees ask this
      question of the disciples, rather than Jesus? (They
      probably thought the disciples had the same low view of
      tax collectors as they did. This teaches us something else
      about Matthew, he didn’t care what others thought about
      him – or at least he cared less than he cared about having

      1. If Matthew cared so much about money, why did he
        leave his tax collector’s booth and follow Jesus?
        (Apparently, he had decided it was time for a change.
        Are you ready for change?)

  2. The Genealogy of Jesus

    1. Quickly scan Matthew 1:1-16. Put yourself in Matthew’s
      place, how would you start a book about Jesus? Would you
      want it to be dull and tedious?(That would not be my goal.
      But, since Matthew was already detail oriented, that would
      be a part of how he normally looked at things. This is
      obviously a lot of detail.)

    2. Read Matthew 1:1. Why would Matthew decide to start out
      naming these two men as being in Jesus’ ancestry? (If,
      like Matthew, you have a bad background, you might decide
      to start out showing that Jesus has a great background.
      Matthew links Jesus to the two most prominent men in
      Jewish history. Abraham is the great man of righteousness
      and David is the great warrior king.)

      1. Read Isaiah 11:1-2. Who is Jesse? ( Matthew 1:6
        reveals Jesse is the “father of King David.”)

        1. Matthew’s readers would be familiar with Isaiah
          11. What is the importance of this link to King
          David? (Isaiah 11 is a prophecy about the
          coming Messiah.)

        2. Read Revelation 5:5. What does this reveal
          about the preaching of the disciples? (They
          linked the triumphant Jesus to King David.)

      2. Read Acts 2:29-33. Peter ( Acts 2:14) made this
        statement on Pentecost. What does this tell us about
        the Spirit-directed understanding of Jesus’
        disciples? (Jesus fulfills the prophecies pointing to
        the Messiah.)

      3. Read Genesis 12:1-3. Explain the last part of this
        promise to Abraham? (This is a promise that the
        Messiah will come through Abraham. Matthew is not
        just connecting Jesus with important people in Jewish
        history, he begins his argument by making these links
        to show that Jesus is the Messiah.)

    3. We won’t go through all of the detail that Matthew lays
      out to show the human ancestry of Jesus, but does this
      detail make sense for a man who is used to keeping
      meticulous records? (Yes. Matthew provides proof to those
      who doubt the bona fides of Jesus’ heritage. Let’s peek at
      a couple of interesting points in this detailed proof.)

      1. Read Matthew 1:3 and Matthew 1:5-6. We see three
        women listed, Tamar, Rahab and “Uriah’s wife.” What
        do you know about these three women? (Genesis 38
        reveals that Tamar posed as a prostitute. Joshua 6
        discloses that Rahab was a prostitute. 2 Samuel 11
        tells us that Bathsheba (Uriah’s wife) was involved
        in a sex scandal with King David.)

      2. Matthew does not need to name these three women.
        Since he is trying to show Jesus’ bona fides, why
        would he add them to Jesus’ human history? (Recall
        that Matthew has a dubious background. Matthew
        probably added them to show that Jesus could
        sympathize with someone like him and the rest of us

    4. Read Matthew 1:17. Consider how the Jews were doing during
      those three periods of time. If Abraham and David
      represented the time the nation was moving towards
      greatness, what about the next two periods? (The nation is
      not doing well.)

      1. What point is Matthew making about Jesus? (By
        pointing to the downhill slide of Jewish fortunes,
        Matthew underscores the need for Jesus, for a Messiah
        to rescue them.)

  3. Birth of Jesus

    1. Read Matthew 1:18-19. What amazing fact does Matthew
      reveal? (Jesus not only has a fabulous human ancestry, but
      Jesus is also God. The Holy Spirit is His “Father.”)

      1. Why add the part about Joseph’s thoughts of a quiet
        divorce? (It shows that Joseph is a good man, and it
        makes Matthew think that Jesus has something in
        common with him – a background which others will

    2. Read Matthew 1:20-21. What claim is Matthew making about
      Jesus? (Jesus, fully man and fully God, will save His
      people from their sins. This is the Messiah. We now have
      an additional witness to the angelic testimony.)

    3. Read Matthew 1:22-23. Matthew faces a real challenge. A
      man with an unsavory background is writing a book about a
      man who was crucified by the Roman authorities. His story
      is that Jesus was born unlike any other person in history.
      Credibility is Matthew’s greatest problem. How does he try
      to meet that challenge? (Once again, he directs the
      attention of his readers to a Messianic prophecy of
      Isaiah, specifically Isaiah 7:14.)

      1. Would this convince you? (Put yourself in the place
        of Matthew’s Jewish audience. He shows Jesus’
        genealogical bona fides, and He links Jesus to the
        Messianic prophecies that these people have already
        accepted. Virgin birth is something Isaiah has
        already told them to expect – so this is not a story
        too fantastic for his audience.)

    4. Read Matthew 2:1-2. What kind of people are these Magi?
      (Commentators tell us that they were intellectuals “from
      the east” who studied science and the movements of the
      stars. King Herod gave them an audience which shows that
      he considered them worthy of his time.)

      1. Why would Matthew add this detail for us? (He wants
        us to know that scientists saw something in the
        heavens that pointed to the birth of Jesus. Do you
        see how Matthew draws all of the strings of proof
        together to convince us that Jesus is the Messiah?)

    5. Read Matthew 2:3. What is important about the nature of
      this disturbance? (Everyone, from the King on down, gave
      credence to the report of the Magi. This is not an
      incredible story.)

    6. Read Matthew 2:4-7. On what basis is King Herod convinced
      that the Messiah has been born? (Credible scientists have
      discovered a star pointing toward Jesus. The religious
      teachers confirm, based on prophetic scripture, that the
      Messiah is to be born in Bethlehem. The message to us is
      that if the King and the scientists believed, you should

    7. Read Matthew 2:9-13. If you were a lawyer arguing evidence
      to a jury about who Jesus is, what are the most important
      points from these last verses that you would argue? (A
      “star” points to the place where Jesus is born. The magi
      are so certain of their finding that they worship Jesus
      and give Him valuable gifts. This shows they understood
      Jesus to be a someone to worship. Supernatural forces save
      Jesus from danger, since Herod believes the story so
      thoroughly, that he is willing to commit murder.)

    8. Read Matthew 2:14-18. We see again that Scripture points
      to Jesus and that Herod is convinced that Jesus is the
      Messiah. In the context of the murders that resulted, what
      new element is introduced here? (Who suggests evil to
      Herod? There are supernatural forces opposed to Jesus. If
      you believe in a controversy between good and evil, evil
      knows that Jesus is the Messiah who must be destroyed.)

    9. Friend, how about you? Are you convinced by Matthew that
      Jesus is the Messiah? Why not accept Him as your Savior
      right now?

  4. Next week: The Ministry Begins.