Monday – Matthew 1-2
Since we just read through the OT story, this will be one of the few times I’ll ever ask you to read a genealogy. Take a moment to look at the names and see what stories pop into your mind. Tamar (a Canaanite in Gen 38) tricked her father-in-law into impregnating her. Rahab (an Amorite in Joshua 2, 3, and 6) was a prostitute from Jericho. Ruth (a Moabite with her own book) allegedly seduced Boaz on the threshing floor. Bathsheba (a Canaanite wife of Uriah the Hittite) is not actually named but is also highlighted in Jesus’ Genealogy. Using “Uriah’s Wife” instead of Bathsheba reminds the readers of how bad that story was.
- Why does Matthew write the genealogy the way he does? What might he be trying to communicate with these women? With these four women in mind, how do you read Mary’s story differently (What might Matthew be drawing your attention to)?
- Why is it important today that we recognize that Matthew highlights these women in the genealogy of Jesus?
- Moving on to the rest of today’s reading – Where all do you see Moses imagery?
- Think about these two chapters together as a whole – Women in the Genealogy, the name Immanuel, the visitation of the Magi, and the Moses imagery – What kind of Moses is Jesus going to be? Who is he going to bring out of slavery? What does that slavery look like?
Tuesday – Matthew 3-4
As you read this section, continue to look for Israel’s story and Moses connections. Pay attention to location and movements of the reading. How do they all tie together?
- John could have gone anywhere to baptize and bring people to repentance, why does he choose the Jordan river? What narrative is he communicating to his fellow Jews?
- If you’re a first century Jew, how do you read the imagery of Jesus receiving John’s baptism in the Jordan river?
- Jesus passes through the Jordan and into the wilderness for how many days? What does this number represent for Moses on Sinai? For Israel in the Wilderness?
- Exodus 19, God makes his covenant with the people at Sinai. They enter the wilderness to learn dependence on God (something we’ve struggled with from the beginning). Satan meets Jesus in the wilderness and challenges the core of his identity. What question does he continually ask him?
- What three things does Jesus have to combat Satan in the wilderness that you also have?
- At your baptism, God looks at you and says, “You are my Child, whom I love; with whom I am well pleased.” Your core identity comes from your baptism. You are Child of God. Where do you see Satan attacking that identity in your life? You have the same three things Jesus had in the wilderness: prayer (he spent 40 days praying before being tempted), scripture (he knew God through knowing scripture), and you have the Holy Spirit (the core of your identity as a Son or Daughter).
Wednesday – Matthew 5-7
There are so many things to talk about in the Sermon on the Mount but I’ll try to stay focused. Think about all of the Moses imagery up to this point, what imagery is Matthew pointing to with Jesus going “up on a mountainside” to begin preaching about the Law? Jesus embodies Moses here and basically says, “This is what it looks like to be God’s people.” Jesus has not tossed the Law, giving us “free grace” so that we can simply do whatever we want. God’s grace has always been free but we are called to a covenant with God and we have to ask ourselves how seriously we need to take Jesus when we read the Sermon on the Mount. I’ve often found it sobering to read Matt 7:24-29 first and then reading the entire Sermon on the Mount. Jesus presents what it looks like to live in God’s Kingdom and His Kingdom is an “Upside-down Kingdom.” He doesn’t call us to be better than the world. He calls us to be different.
- How would the world be different if Christians took Jesus seriously in his Sermon on the Mount? How would Israel’s story been different if they had kept God’s covenant?
- Which of Jesus’ teachings is the hardest for you? Spend time in prayer about that teaching, asking for transformation.
- Take time to meditate on each section of Jesus’ sermon and simply ask God what you need to hear in each teaching. Do this over the next month.
Thursday – Matthew 11-13
Moses struggled with God’s people in the wilderness. It seems like every other page they were questioning whether they should follow him or not. Read 11-12 with this in mind and then read ch 13 as a commentary on the stories you just read in 11-12.
- Who responds to Jesus positively?
- Who responds to Jesus negatively?
- Who are more neutral responses, neither fully positive nor fully negative?
- How are these parables (ch 13) read differently when placed in the context of people’s responses to Jesus?
- What challenges you the most about these parables? Take a moment to pray for God to transform you through these teachings.
Friday – Matthew 14:13-21; 15:21-39; 16:5-17:23; 20:1-19
I cut down the reading into shorter sections to try and point to the main things I want you to focus on this week. If you are willing to take more time, read this entire section and see how the stories fit together to provide the larger context.
- In the first two readings (ch 14-15), Jesus feeds two large groups of people. Notice the imagery of Moses feeding Israel. What is different between the two groups? Is it a bit bizarre to you that the disciples don’t know how they are going to be able to feed everyone? The group in front of them are not Jews. Maybe they do not think God’s power can bless Gentiles? Maybe they just didn’t want to bless Gentiles?
- Matthew has pointed to Jesus’ interactions with the Gentiles throughout his gospel account to make it clear that “God with us” means ALL of us. Who are people you struggle with that make up your “Gentiles”?
- In the next section of reading (ch 16-17), Jesus questions the disciples about who people are saying that he is. Peter gets the title correct but his understanding is wrong. Peter, much like the Pharisees, was thinking the Messiah would come as victorious warrior to defeat the pagan rulers. Their thinking is based out of Psalm 2 and Daniel 2. Jesus interpreted his role through that lens but also through the lens of Isaiah 53 (the Suffering Servant). There are a lot of depictions of Jesus in our world. How do you know you have a proper view of who Jesus is? How do you decipher whether someone’s presentation of Jesus is correct or not? I tend to be cautious of any “feel good” preaching where Jesus is simply calling you to be the best version of yourself that you can be. This is fairly common in preachers who preach health and wealth. Make sure you know Jesus well!
- The first century Jews reading Matthew’s gospel account would have had Moses heavily on their mind. How might the Transfiguration be read through their eyes? How does this story parallel with Moses on Sinai in Exodus 19?
- What does the story of the workers in the vineyard tell you about God’s love?