What does it mean to be a disciple of Jesus Christ? How can we effectively disciple others? Christian bookstores are full of "how-to" manuals that seek to answer these questions. The early church had a discipling manual too—the book of Matthew. It was written to teach us how to be a disciple of Jesus Christ and how to disciple others. Before looking at current discipling manuals, why not go back to one of the originals?
Discipleship is the application of Christian truth to the present. "What does God want me to do about this relationship?" "How can I deal with anxiety?" We need to know what God expects of us on a daily basis. Discipleship is a very practical matter.
Practical questions are a concern of Matthew's as he writes his book. Matthew is a tax collector, so he knows how important it is to be practical. A tax collector has to know things like how much tax you owe, where you pay and who is authorized to collect it. And when a tax is paid, it must be recorded exactly. Otherwise government authorities tend to become hostile. Very practical stuff.
Matthew draws on all his background as he writes. Your most important need as a disciple is to know what the Lord is like. Matthew will help you. Through his work you will get to know Jesus better as he responds to needy people, handles conflict and faces opposition. You will also see what Jesus is like as a king. How does he handle authority? What type of laws does he give? How does he provide for his subjects?
For your daily living you will discover how to handle anger and envy. You will learn how to strengthen your faith, how to pray and how to grow in humility. You will gain insights into a biblical approach to evangelism. You will find out what attitudes the Lord thinks are important. And you will learn how to handle suffering and grief.
In short, a study of Matthew will help you become a better disciple and disciplemaker.
The contents of Matthew will be covered by dividing it into two equal sections, 1:1—16:20 and 16:21—28:20. The first half is entitled "Discovering the King." It focuses on the identity and authority of Jesus. The second half is entitled "The Rejection and Resurrection of the King." It focuses on Jesus as he encounters opposition and persecution culminating in the cross and resurrection.
From beginning to end Matthew is an exciting and challenging Gospel. Get ready for an adventure!