The Beauty of Matthew’s Gospel -- By: William Hendriksen

Journal: Westminster Theological Journal
Volume: WTJ 35:2 (Winter 1973)
Article: The Beauty of Matthew’s Gospel
Author: William Hendriksen

The Beauty of Matthew’s Gospel

William Hendriksen

Matthew’s Gospel has been called “the most important book in the world” (Renan), “the most successful book ever written” (Goodspeed). It describes a Christ who proceeds from glory, through suffering, to glory. It starts out by picturing the exalted Son of David, conceived and born in accordance with prophecy (chapter 1), receiving honor due to a King (chapter 2), heralded by a way-preparer (who was himself also an object of prophetic prediction), and at his baptism acknowledged by the Father as being his beloved Son, the Son with whom he is well-pleased (chapter 3). Though tempted by Satan, he triumphs over every temptation. “And behold, angels came and were rendering service to him” (4:1–11).

So far Matthew has pictured the beginning or inauguration of the work which the Father had given his Son to do. Cf. John 17:4b. Up to this point all has been light and glory…Has is it really? No, not entirely. Even in these first few chapters we have already been told that Joseph had been divinely instructed to take the little child and his mother and to escape to Egypt, “for Herod is about to search for the little child, to destroy him” (2:13). Moreover, were not even submission to baptism and to the temptation-experience elements in Christ’s humiliation, even though in both of these the divine glory also shines through? Though it is true, therefore, that the emphasis in this earliest part of Matthew’s Gospel is on the glorious character of Jesus, the path of suffering is already foreshadowed. Though “the Son of David and of Abraham” is described as worthy of the crown, the way of the cross which leads to this crown is already prefigured.

At 4:12 a new section begins, continuing all the way through chapter 20. Here Matthew describes the progress or continuation of the task that had been assigned to the Mediator. In this large middle section of the book the author summarizes The Great

Galilean Ministry (4:12–15:20) and The Retirement Plus Perean Ministries (15:21 through chapter 20).

Matthew is not trying to give us a day-by-day or even a month-by-month outline of the wo...

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