Matthew 1 & 2
Jesus’ family tree and his birth. I would love to try and complete my family tree. It would take a lot of work and research and the little that has been done by another relative can usually – for peasants like my family – end with the 19th Century Census records. Yet it is still interesting to read names of people who I never knew and who never knew me – but yet are my family.
Matthew 3 & 4
If ever anyone looked like a prophet – surely John the Baptist did. I love the idea that a prophet is like a ‘wild man’ or woman – outside the system. They have to be in order to speak into it. But within this story of Jesus’ baptism by John, I’ve often wondered why Jesus needs to be baptized – if He is the perfect son of God. Even John thinks it’s a bit odd. But I think this is one of those times in the gospels where we see Jesus doing something which decisively demonstrates that He is willing to be God’s chosen one. By being baptized, Jesus is saying, ‘I’m in this with you.’ Amazing thought.
Matthew 5 & 6
For some time now, many manufacturers of fruit cordial (squash) have been removing excess water from their products in order to reduce the size of packaging needed. Therefore a smaller amount would go further – apparently. It was more concentrated. That’s a little like what I feel about these pivotal chapters in Matthew. They are packed full of concentrated teaching by Jesus.
Matthew 7 & 8
One of the classic comedy sketches of the eighties was one involving two removal men and a long plank of wood. The Chuckle Brothers also had a crack at the gag. But Jesus’ joke was the original plank prank! Yes – it’s true, Jesus was funny, entertaining, colourful – crowds wouldn’t flock for a boring lecture. Jesus cracks a joke about planks in eyes. It’s a visual joke. People would have laughed. Partly because it is visually funny but also because it packs a punch.
Matthew 9 & 10
Authority pops up again here but this time it’s Jesus’ authority to forgive sins and he shows this by healing a man who is paralysed. Something new, fresh and vibrant is happening here with Jesus and following old, human-made religious structures and systems only ruins the ‘new’ thing. But this ‘new’ thing, ironically is actually Jesus (and the Father’s) plan the whole time from the dawn of creation and in response to the fall.