Thursday, May 31, 2012

The Gospel of Matthew Essay

The Gospel of Matthew Essay

Introduction
The Gospel of Matthew introduces Jesus (Joshua) as the Messiah (HaMashiah or Christ) and the savior of the world. Matthew gives details of Christ’s lineage establishing it back to King David and the Patriarch Abraham. Christ’s life is detailed from his birth to Mary, to his death on the Roman cross. All of the significant events surrounding the birth, life and death of Christ were recorded by Matthew. Some scholars, however, believe that Matthew was not completely responsible for the writings, yet, today it is known as his gospel.

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The Story of Matthew
One of the most important events in the bible was written by Levi Mattheus, also known as Matthew. The Sermon on the Mount by Jesus Christ was described by Matthew in detail as to what was said, who attended, and what was Christ’s message. Matthew, was not regarded as a great man by his Jewish counter parts in the Galilee region of Israel because he was a tax collector. This job was shunned by the populous because it was seen as a deed for someone collaborating with the occupying Roman force, and in turn enriching its coffers with money as well as supporting the despot king Herod. This was happening at the time of Rome’s occupation of Israel in the first century C.E. and the people resented this. It was not uncommon for the various groups within Israel set on liberating their country from the occupiers, to go after fellow Jews who were seen as friendly to the Romans. Hence, Matthew was seen by many as a collaborator and traitor to the Jewish people. It was then, that as Christ was walking by the tax collector’s office, he saw Matthew sitting and working inside. He called on Matthew to come with him, which he did. There, Matthew and others shared a meal with Christ, after which point Christ was asked why he is sitting together with sinners. He answered that it is the sick that need a doctor, not the healthy, and in a way, this came to symbolize Christ’s treatment of all peoples. Jews and Gentiles adhered to his teachings based on salvation and redemption. (Matthew)

Messiah
Matthew’s Gospel puts emphasis on the “fulfillment of the promises of salvation to a particular people, Israel, and also the fulfillment of the universal promise of salvation to all the peoples of the earth.” (Arnold 7) What this symbolizes is that redemption and salvation are only possible if Christ is accepted as the Messiah for the Jewish people. At the time, there were conflicting opinions on Christ’s role in Judaism. The common people loved Christ because he played the role of a good man and a charismatic leader. His actions and words drew many from all corners of the country to see him perform miracles. The Cohenim establishment in Jerusalem felt threatened by him, as well as the Romans. He was a troublemaker for them, because he was about to turn the status quo on its head. His preaching called for fairness and equality, justice and the end to oppression, which made the authorities very uncomfortable. For the Romans, he was trouble because of his undermining their authority and in turn, their financial interests were becoming vulnerable. For the Cohenim, the high priests in Jerusalem, his claims to be the Messiah were becoming too loud and were threatening their positions as authority figures. The priests had one way of conducting business, and this was not to be interfered with. So when Christ began to preach everything that is contrary to the priests, they became uneasy about his presence. Unfortunately, the priests were not as convinced about him as the rest of the populous. The author’s assertion pertaining to the fulfillment of the promise of salvation was directly related to Matthew’s assertion in his gospel that Christ’s teachings come directly from the Jewish Torah. His teachings reaffirmed the Torah as the Holy Book for the Jewish people and Gentiles, he was just going by what it said.

Sermon
The Sermon on the Mount was intended for all of Israel to hear. Christ’s goal was to have the people of Israel accept his teaching, and live their lives accordingly. He was known to be a great healer, which brought people from all over the country to see and hear him preach. The beginning of the sermon, The Setting, takes place on top of a mountain, where Jesus preached to the crowds of Jews waiting to hear his gospel. Matthew’s use of the mountain is explained as the historic use of mountains in Judaism to bring the message of G-d to the people of Israel. In a way, this sermon was there to challenge the Jews to accept the teachings of Christ which came to be a proper interpretation of the Torah. Christ felt that the hypocrites all around are not doing the work of G-d that is supposed to be done, and he elaborated on that. The way to live life and the ways that one should pray had all been misconstrued in Christ’s eyes in order to attain money, power and status. His reiteration that G-d, our father loves all the people of the earth no matter who or what they are, and they should love him back with recognition of his Kingdom in Heaven. (Matthew) Therefore, the life’s reward was to seek the words of G-d and act upon them, meaning do good deeds humbly in your current life, and when you reach Heaven, the Holy Father will reward your deeds.

Mission
Many centuries before Christ, Judaism allowed for missionary work on the part of spreading its gospel, yet by the time Christ’s message was heard by the people, it was not a common occurrence. The Gospel of Matthew changed all that by allowing for the words of Christ to be spread throughout the world to all of its peoples. This is one of the reasons why the gospel spread so quickly throughout the Middle-East and Eastern Africa. In the beginning, however, Christ commanded his twelve disciple to go amongst the lost souls of the Jews in Israel and spread his good word. He commanded them not to go to the gentiles or to the Samaritans, just to the Jews. They were told that there will be hardships ahead during their journey, but their words would not be theirs, but that of the Holy Father, therefore the villagers who accepted the gospel along the way would be saved and redeemed.

Conclusion
The message of Christ as described by Matthew was that of repentance and acceptance as Jesus being the Messiah for the world. The author emphasized salvation for the people as well as the spread of the gospel. This was a necessary step to move Christianity from a local Jewish sect, to a new and blossoming religion that would once rule a large portion of the earth. The only way to convince to populous to accept its teaching, the Gospel pointed out all of the negative things that were wrong in people’s lives, yet made it clear that the hypocrites who command them religiously and in civic matters were living as they wished. It offered the common man salvation in return for the acceptance of Christ as their leader. It preached being good to others and even turning the other cheek to them when the other was slapped. This was a new and radical concept, which did share some similarities with the Torah, but for the most part was in a league of its own. Hence, the Sermon on the Mount, and Christ’s sending his disciples to spread the word, were the building blocks from which Christianity arose to spread the faith to all the peoples of the earth and save them from sin.
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