One of the first things I want you to notice about Matthew’s gospel is the fact that it’s anonymous. Nowhere in the text does it clearly say who wrote it, but there is no need to worry about the authorship of the first gospel since the early church and scholars all agree that it was Matthew, the apostle.
Matthew was a Jew whose name meant “gift of Yahweh.” He was employed as a tax collector in Capernaum, implying that he was engaged in taxing fishermen like Peter and John. Matthew’s response to Jesus’ call to discipleship is immediate, decisive, and sacrificial. He even throws a celebration dinner for Jesus (Matt. 9:9-13), inviting all his friends (fellow tax collectors and sinners) to meet Jesus.
Matthew’s purpose for writing is clear from the text. He writes as a Jew for Jews. He wants these Greek-speaking Jews to know that Jesus is the Promised Messiah of God. In Jesus, the promises of God to send a Messiah and restore Israel have begun (Matt. 5:17-18). From Matthew, we learn that Jesus is the promised Messiah and the fulfillment of the entirety of God’s word.
In the opening chapters of Matthew (1-4), we see Jesus as “the son of David,” “the son of Abraham,” and as “God with us.” In the later chapters, Jesus is revealed as the “Son of Man” of Daniel 7 and the “Suffering Servant” of Isaiah 53. Throughout the book, the events of Jesus’ life are represented as fulfilling God’s promises to Israel. Yet, they rejected their Messiah and placed themselves in the most perilous position imaginable (Matt. 11:20-24; 21:33-46).
An interesting point for you to consider is that Matthew includes five major sermons or teaching discourses of Jesus (Matt. 5-7, 10, 13, 18, 23-25), each one ending with these words, “…when Jesus finished…” (Matt. 7:28, 11:1, 13:53, 19:1, 26:1). What is intriguing about this is that Matthew presents Jesus as the new Moses, complete with his five books (Moses and the five books of law).
Like Moses, Jesus’ birth was surrounded by miracles and caused turmoil among the leaders. He survives when the other male children are massacred, and like Moses, Jesus goes into and is called out of Egypt. Like Moses 40 years, Jesus spent 40 days separated from everyone in the wilderness in preparation for his ministry and then gave his teachings about what God wanted (Matt. 5-7).
Matthew teaches us that Jesus is God (God with us), that the kingdom is God’s rule and reign in the hearts of His people, that salvation comes through Jesus’ sacrifice for our sins, the servant king of promise, and the people of God will become a redeemed community of both Jews and Gentiles.