Session 2: The Gospel of Matthew
By the end of this session you should be able to:
give an overview of the themes and structure of the gospel of Matthew
be able to state approximately when the gospel was written and who the author may have been
give an account of how the main themes of the gospel relate to your faith journey and ministry as well as that of the church as a whole.
God love and life
May I learn more of you and of your love for
your people and your world as I look into the gospel
of Matthew. Open my eyes to new things in familiar passages and open my heart to the moving of your spirit.
This session is made up of three parts: Part One is a short overview of the gospel from Bibledex with some questions for reflection; Part two is a video of just over 20 minutes which has been split into several sections so you can pause and reflect on the questions underneath before continuing. Part 3 is another overview video which will help you to consolidate what you have learned in Part 2. There is some overlap and repetition in all the videos - this is deliberate as repetition is what makes things 'stick' in our minds and it's how we learn best. Please treat the questions as a buffet and choose one or two that interest you to think and post about rather than trying to do all of them.
Part 1 Questions for Reflection
Did you know that Matthew wasn't the first gospel to be written? Does it make any difference to how you read it?
Had you ever realised that we don't know whether there were three magi or whether they were men?
What do you think is the significance of the story of the visit of the Magi? What does it have to say to us today?
Post your thoughts on one question only on the Forum
Part 2 and Questions for Reflection
0:00 - 9.04 The Law and the Sermon on the Mount
a) What do you make of Paula's statement that Jesus' 'law' in the Sermon on the Mount was much more exacting than the law of Moses (also known as Mosaic law)?
b) What implications does that have for us today?
c) Why do you think Matthew might have written his gospel in the pattern of story followed by teaching? What implications might that have for us in our church life, especially in preaching, teaching and telling the story of the gospel?
d) What does The Lord's Prayer mean to you? And what does it mean for the mission of the church?
9:05 - 14.32 Matthew the Tax Collector
e) What do you think of the idea that Matthew was a tax collector – someone considered at the time he wrote the book to be a bad person who would have been hated by almost everyone (not difficult to imagine as they're not too popular today either!)? What hope does that give us for our own Christian journey?
f) Paula's point about tax collectors being hated because of things that happened in the past but aren't happening any more is very pertinent for our world today. Can you think of examples of where that might be true of our modern world (ie some people still hate Germans because of what happened in the wars etc)?
14:33 - 17.56 Significant Moments
g) Had you ever noticed the number of mountains mentioned in Matthew's gospel and their connections with significant moments?
h) What might we learn from this today? What have the 'mountain moments' been in your own life, when you have found out something significant about yourself and your relationship with God?
17:57 Matthew and the Old Testament
i) What do you make of the points that Matthew used different texts (Hebrew and Greek) in his descriptions of Jesus? How reliable is your memory compared to Matthew's and does this put a different slant on the book for you?
Post your thoughts on one question only on the Forum
Doctrine is the church's word for the things we believe as Christians. This is most clearly seen in the Creeds we often say in church in our services but doctrine is much more that just creedal statements - in fact it's what Christians have argued over since the beginning of the Church because what we believe is so important to each one of us and our walk with God. What can your find in Matthew's gospel that underlies some of your beliefs about the Christian faith? Write three things down in your learning journal for discussion on the Study Day.
Spirituality has to do with how we use what we believe to inform our prayer lives and our relationship with God. The story of the Temptation in the Wilderness (which also appears in the other two synoptic gospels, Mark and Luke) was the inspiration for what we now call the Desert Mothers and Fathers, early Church mystics who left the cities they lived in and spent time in the desert, seeking God as Jesus did. Read the mediation by Franciscan Priest and teacher Richard Rohr in the Resources section to explore more about the spirituality of the Desert mystics.
Reflection & Prayer
What has particularly struck you in this session?
Is there anything you found difficult and why do think that was?
How have the mountaintop moments in your life affected
your walk with God?
Pray about what you have learned, thanking God for any new insights into the gospel of Matthew and lifting to God anyone who has come into your thoughts as you have studied.
To Do in Church this Week
Look around (or in lockdown think about) your church and see if you can find/think of (in the building, the notices, the hymns you sing this week and the services you use) any echoes of Matthew's gospel and its main themes.
Share some of what you have found on the discussion board in the Forum.
Overview of Gospel - Image
Commentary on The Beatitudes
Richard Rohr Meditation
on the Desert Mystics