Archive for Matthew

Haggling with Jesus

7:24 From there he arose, and went away into the borders of Tyre and Sidon. He entered into a house, and didn’t want anyone to know it, but he couldn’t escape notice. 7:25 For a woman, whose little daughter had an unclean spirit, having heard of him, came and fell down at his feet. 7:26 Now the woman was a Greek, a Syrophoenician by race. She begged him that he would cast the demon out of her daughter. 7:27 But Jesus said to her, “Let the children be filled first, for it is not appropriate to take the children’s bread and throw it to the dogs.”

7:28 But she answered him, “Yes, Lord. Yet even the dogs under the table eat the children’s crumbs.”

7:29 He said to her, “For this saying, go your way. The demon has gone out of your daughter.”

7:30 She went away to her house, and found the child having been laid on the bed, with the demon gone out.


Like Abraham arguing with the angels over the fate of Sodom and Gomorrah. This story is more impressive though: the woman appears to convince Jesus to change his mind. Perhaps this is the moment when the good news was first spread beyond the Jews.

The story is told again in Matthew 15:21-28. In Matthew the woman is a Canaanite. I think Matthew is more tailored for a Jewish audience (e.g., parallels with Moses). The Jews hated the Canaanites.

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Matthew 7:21-27

7:21 Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter into the Kingdom of Heaven; but he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 7:22 Many will tell me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, didn’t we prophesy in your name, in your name cast out demons, and in your name do many mighty works?’ 7:23 Then I will tell them, ‘I never knew you. Depart from me, you who work iniquity.’

7:24 “Everyone therefore who hears these words of mine, and does them, I will liken him to a wise man, who built his house on a rock. 7:25 The rain came down, the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat on that house; and it didn’t fall, for it was founded on the rock. 7:26 Everyone who hears these words of mine, and doesn’t do them will be like a foolish man, who built his house on the sand. 7:27 The rain came down, the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat on that house; and it fell—and great was its fall.”


cf. Luke 6:46-49

It’s a tricky business. It seems that it’s not enough merely to consciously believe, worship, etc. You have to objectively be correct in your actions. Following the words of Jesus is the best guide, but that’s all it is.


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Matthew summary

There’s a lot more fire and brimstone, blood and thunder in Matthew than in Mark, which is not really my thing, although Matthew 23 struck me.

On the other hand, Matthew has the Beatitudes (Matt. 5:3-12, see also Matt. 11:6), and the most tender and forgiving treatment of Judas (e.g., Matt. 26:50).

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Matthew 28:20

and teach them to observe all that I have commanded you. I will be with you always, to the end of time.

(Revised English Bible)

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Matthew 27:27-49

27:27 Then the governor’s soldiers took Jesus into the Praetorium, and gathered the whole garrison together against him. 27:28 They stripped him, and put a scarlet robe on him. 27:29 They braided a crown of thorns and put it on his head, and a reed in his right hand; and they kneeled down before him, and mocked him, saying, “Hail, King of the Jews!” 27:30 They spat on him, and took the reed and struck him on the head. 27:31 When they had mocked him, they took the robe off of him, and put his clothes on him, and led him away to crucify him.

27:32 As they came out, they found a man of Cyrene, Simon by name, and they compelled him to go with them, that he might carry his cross. 27:33 They came to a place called “Golgotha,” that is to say, “The place of a skull.” 27:34 They gave him sour wine to drink mixed with gall. When he had tasted it, he would not drink. 27:35 When they had crucified him, they divided his clothing among them, casting lots,* 27:36 and they sat and watched him there. 27:37 They set up over his head the accusation against him written, “THIS IS JESUS, THE KING OF THE JEWS.”

27:38 Then there were two robbers crucified with him, one on his right hand and one on the left. 27:39 Those who passed by blasphemed him, wagging their heads, 27:40 and saying, “You who destroy the temple, and build it in three days, save yourself! If you are the Son of God, come down from the cross!”

27:41 Likewise the chief priests also mocking, with the scribes, the Pharisees, and the elders, said, 27:42 “He saved others, but he can’t save himself. If he is the King of Israel, let him come down from the cross now, and we will believe in him. 27:43 He trusts in God. Let God deliver him now, if he wants him; for he said, ‘I am the Son of God.’” 27:44 The robbers also who were crucified with him cast on him the same reproach.


The humiliation of death.

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Matthew 26:50

Jesus replied, “Friend, do what you are here to do.” Then they came forward, seized Jesus, and held him fast.

(Revised English Bible)

In all of the Gospels, Judas is the only person Jesus calls friend. And this exchange is only in Matthew.

Jesus goes on:

26:53 Do you suppose that I cannot appeal for help to my Father, and at once be sent more than twelve legions of angels? 26:54 But how then would the scriptures be fulfilled, which say that this must happen?

(Revised English Bible)

Matthew’s treatment of Judas is my favourite by far.

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Matthew 26:38

Then he said to them, “My soul is exceedingly sorrowful, even to death. Stay here, and watch with me.”


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Matthew 26:6-13

26:6 Now when Jesus was in Bethany, in the house of Simon the leper, 26:7 a woman came to him having an alabaster jar of very expensive ointment, and she poured it on his head as he sat at the table. 26:8 But when his disciples saw this, they were indignant, saying, “Why this waste? 26:9 For this ointment might have been sold for much, and given to the poor.”

26:10 However, knowing this, Jesus said to them, “Why do you trouble the woman? Because she has done a good work for me. 26:11 For you always have the poor with you; but you don’t always have me. 26:12 For in pouring this ointment on my body, she did it to prepare me for burial. 26:13 Most certainly I tell you, wherever this Good News is preached in the whole world, what this woman has done will also be spoken of as a memorial of her.”


I love this story. There are so many good things about it: a stranger — a woman! — approaches Jesus; annoints his head instead of washing his feet (which the host should have been doing anyway); Jesus’ dismissal of his disciples’ indignation.

When I first read this story I thought the moral was something like, “there’s nothing wrong with a bit of perfume every now and then” (me? A deep thinker?). One week it was the topic at the study group I went to last autumn. Preparing for it with our son, he thought it meant, “Worshipping Jesus is more important than helping the poor.” which I thought was not bad for an 8-year old.

There is so much in it. One of the things I have against John is that he ruins this story just so he can make a dig against Judas (i.e., John 12:1-7).

Oh, I see I’ve already written all this for Mark.

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Matthew 25:34-40

25:34 Then the King will tell those on his right hand, ‘Come, blessed of my Father, inherit the Kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world; 25:35 for I was hungry, and you gave me food to eat. I was thirsty, and you gave me drink. I was a stranger, and you took me in. 25:36 I was naked, and you clothed me. I was sick, and you visited me. I was in prison, and you came to me.’

25:37 “Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry, and feed you; or thirsty, and give you a drink? 25:38 When did we see you as a stranger, and take you in; or naked, and clothe you? 25:39 When did we see you sick, or in prison, and come to you?’

25:40 “The King will answer them, ‘Most certainly I tell you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’


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Matthew 24:35

Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.


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