With the beginning of Advent, we turn to Matthew’s
Gospel to guide us through the coming year. Some
have described Matthew’s gospel as an expanded
edition of Mark, the first of the gospels to be written.
Matthew retains Mark’s general sequence of events.
However, he frames it with an account of Jesus’ birth
and post resurrection appearances. Matthew adds five
blocks of teaching material, emphasizing Jesus as the
inaugurator of a new covenant who definitively
interprets the Mosaic Law, and through fulfilling specific
prophecies in the Hebrew Scriptures proves his identity
as Israel’s Messiah.
Matthew is writing for a Jewish Christian community
and is concerned to show how Jesus fulfills Judaism.
His life mirrors the events of Israel’s history. Most of
all, Jesus is pictured as the new Moses.
Writing a decade or two after the Roman destruction of
Jerusalem, Matthew softens Mark’s portrait of a more
fiery Jesus, adding parables that imply a delay in the
Second Coming. He focuses on the missionary work of
the church and instruction to the Twelve, who are
pictured in a much better light than in Mark’s gospel.
From Matthew’s gospel we get the word “Church.”