The King’s defence
This is it. The last of my blog posts on Matthew’s Gospel. When I wrote a poem in January of 2015 based on the beatitudes in Matthew 5 I had no idea what I had let myself in for, I had no idea it would be a series of posts. When I discovered a structure behind Matthew’s Gospel, my autistic mind is good with structures, it morphed part way through into an autistic look at the Gospel of Matthew, and because various parts were written to fit in with the church’s year it ends on a cliffhanger, but there are links at the bottom so that it can be followed in order, once I have checked through the links that is.
So here we are, Jesus has been asked three questions by the Pharisees, the Sadducees, and the Pharisees again. Now Jesus asks a question back.
41 Now while the Pharisees were gathered together, Jesus asked them a question, 42 saying, “What do you think about the Christ? Whose son is he?” They said to him, “The son of David.” 43 He said to them, “How is it then that David, in the Spirit, calls him Lord, saying,
44 “‘The Lord said to my Lord,
Sit at my right hand,
until I put your enemies under your feet’?
45 If then David calls him Lord, how is he his son?” 46 And no one was able to answer him a word, nor from that day did anyone dare to ask him any more questions.Matthew 22:41-46 ESVUK
Understanding the Gospel of Matthew is all about understanding structure. On the surface, it looks to run through Jesus’ ministry chronologically: Birth, Baptism by John, ministry, entry into Jerusalem, crucifixion, ascension, and commissioning of the disciples. But it is written in parts, which are sometimes hidden by the way chapter beginnings have been imposed without regard to the structure, which is five sets of a chronological story of Jesus’ life followed by a teaching section which is not necessarily chronological, being arranged by subject. These two parts are followed by the words, ‘after he had done this or after he had said this, leading into the next narrative section. After five of these, the final part is the death and resurrection narrative.
But within that structure, there are other structures, such as the nine miracles in Chapters 8 & 9 which are arranged in three groups of three. The questions in Chapters 21 and 22 have an interesting structure. A 1-3-3-1 structure.
1 – After Jesus has cleared the temple the chief priests and elders ask where his authority has come from. Jesus refuses to answer.
3 – After refusing to answer, Jesus tells three parables.
3 – Three questions from the Pharisees, Sadducees and Pharisees again, relate to these parables.
1 – Jesus asks them a question which no one was able to answer.
But this question has been answered earlier by the disciples of Jesus, a group of at least four fishermen, a tax collector and at least one sympathiser of the anti-Roman freedom fighters among them: People with no theological training. In Matthew 16:13-15, Jesus asked his disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” And they said, “Some say John the Baptist, others say Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” 16 Simon Peter replied, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”
When the religious authorities are asked they are unable to answer.
The question gets asked of all, followers and opponents of Jesus alike. He asks them, he asks you, who do you say that I am? Peter declared he is the Christ, which means Messiah, God’s anoined.
I finish my series on Matthew’s Gospel by asking you this question, which is central to the message of Jesus, Who do you say that Jesus is?