Week 42: Matthew 1-17

Prepare these questions for Sunday, January 19, 2014.

The book of Matthew is the first book of the New Testament (the portion of the Bible that occurs during and after Jesus and his ministry.) There are about 450 years or so between the latest events of the Old Testament and the birth of Jesus. This book is thought to have been written by Matthew, a Jewish tax collector who repented from his selfish life and became a disciple of Jesus. However, the text does not clearly state the name of the author so that is a best guess. The book of Matthew is a history of sorts that records the life of Jesus and his sermons and is one of the four "gospels" (that means a story of truth-Mark, Luke, and John are the other three).

1. Chapter 1 details the lineage of Jesus all the way back to Abraham. Throughout the book there are references to Old Testament prophesies (especially from Isaiah) and other Old Testament texts like Exodus, Deuteronomy and Psalms. Why would Matthew take the time and effort to incorporate so much of the Old Testament into his record of the life of Jesus?

2. After a brief description of the birth of Jesus (we will talk more about this in later gospels and compare their versions of these events then), Matthew jumps in to Jesus' adulthood. How did Jesus respond to temptation in Chapter 4? How can this story be useful in your life and with your temptations?

3. Chapters 5, 6, and 7 offer one of the most well known portions of the Bible, generally referred to as "The Sermon on the Mount" (because it says that Jesus sat down on the side of a mountain and began to teach.) Which section or sections resonates with you? The beatitudes (v. 5:3-11), the concepts of salt and light (v. 5:13-16), the teachings about murder or adultery or forgiveness or charity or true treasure or the folly of worrying? Choose one or two verses or sections to memorize from these chapters that speak to your moment in life right now.

4. Chapters 8, 9, 14, and 15 all describe many miracles and healing of people. Why do you think these stories are included and what is their purpose for a modern audience with access to greater medical knowledge?

5. Chapter 8:18-22 and Chapter 10 detail the costs of following Jesus. What are those costs and why is that scary?

6. Chapter 13 is filled with parables that Jesus used to teach his messages. What would be the benefit of this kind of teaching? Which parable or parables do you like? Are there ones you don't like or find difficult to understand?

7. What is the Transfiguration of Chapter 17 and what significance do you think it had for Jesus' disciples?

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