The Gospel of Matthew: God with Us.
A couple of months ago I was asked to review a chapter of Matt Woodley’s new commentary The Gospel of Matthew: God with Us. The task seemed simple until I started reading the book and found that I couldn’t put it down. My review of a chapter has become instead a strong endorsement for the whole book. And what an important book to read at this season of the year as we prepare to celebrate the birth of Jesus – God with us. It is also a powerful reference to use as I continue my series Whatever Happened to Our Backbones, and meditate on what I believe about Jesus.
We are made by love and for love,…. at the center of the cosmos there is a personal God, a heavenly community of Father-Son-Spirit who dwell in loving relationship, who also love us and who were willing to spend and risk everything to be present with us.
This is the message that resonates throughout the commentary. In Jesus, God is present with us in a very personal and intimate way. Behind the broken story of our world God is indeed weaving another story – the story of redemption and transformation.
Woodley points out that this story is not a cute Christmas card picture, however. It doesn’t just begin in a stable, it begins with the slaughter of innocent babies, and it ends or at least seems to end, with the slaughter of the greatest innocent of all, Jesus himself. Entering into the story of God is dangerous not just for Jesus but for all of us. It changes our entire life. It places Jesus and the mission of God at the center.
The Gospel of Matthew is broken up into themes rather than chapters..
The identity and mission of Jesus
The public ministry of Jesus
The varying response to Jesus
The growing conflict with Jesus
The death and resurrection of Jesus
It is rich with stories, cultural insights and good theological reflection. It is easy to read and a wonderful addition to my library. I would heartily recommend it to all who seek to understand better how to apply the lessons of Jesus to their everyday lives.