“Follow Me” Series — Reading Matthew

 In Jason Bunger

Our current series at Hope Church is entitled, “Follow Me” and explores what it means to be a disciple of Jesus as seen through the experience of Matthew. One of the many definitions of discipleship is, “being with Jesus, becoming like Jesus.” Reading through Matthew is an excellent way to “be with Jesus.” It is hard to spend time with Christ and not desire to become like Him.

As you are study along in this series, I recommend you read through Matthew several times. Don’t look at it is as reading facts about Jesus, but rather spending time with Jesus. When we invest our time in a novel, we will often feel close to and feel we know the characters well. We know how they think, what they value, and what they would probably do in any given situation. Likewise, we often know ourselves better as we interact with the characters on the page and envision comparable situations. So, it is also as we read through Matthew. Ardently and repeatedly reading stories allows us to enter the world of the character — and allows the character to enter our world as well.

Let me propose a few reading plans to get us started.

  1. Read the entire gospel of Matthew in one sitting. Matthew contains 28 chapters and can be read in about two hours. This is less time than it takes to watch many movies or attend most athletic events. Reading a book straight through is the easiest way to string all the narratives together and allows you to better see and grasp the complete picture.
  2. Read four chapters per day. (Perhaps read two in the morning and two in the evening). This will enable you to read through the gospel in one week. Then repeat the pattern throughout the month so that you have read through it four times. Trust me, each time you read it you will pick up something new.
  3. Read it according to its natural units. Matthew is organized around five discourses of Jesus. So, with an introduction (chapters 1-4) and the Passion week conclusion/culmination (26-28), we see Matthew broken out into the below units. You might choose to read one unit per day, working through the gospel in a week and then repeating. Below is a summary adapted from Mark Dever at Capitol Hill Baptist Church.
  1. Introduction (1-4)
  2. Jesus establishes his authority (5-9) as a teacher and healer.
    1. Discourse #1: Sermon on the Mount (5-7)
    2. Accounts of healing (8-9)
  3. Rising opposition (10-12)
    1. Discourse #2: Commissioning of the twelve disciples. (10)
    2. Note: This is a great section to read when facing problems in life.
  4. Working out this opposition (13-16)
    1. Discourse #3: Kingdom Parables (13)
    2. The polarization of two opposed groups.
  5. Turning Point (16-18)
    1. Discourse #4: Church life and discipline (18)
    2. The hinge of the gospel: Jesus must go to Jerusalem, face the chief priests and die.
  6. Judgment coming on Israel (19-25)
    1. Discourse #5: Woes and Olivette Discourse (23-25)
    2. God will judge the leadership and the temple will be destroyed. This section contains some hard sayings.
      However, they may be helpful when we feel discouraged. God will win in the end and bring
      justice to the world.
  7. Trial, death, resurrection, and the Great Commission. (26-28)

Obviously, these plans are not the only way to read Matthew’s gospel. But, they are options to get you started. As always, use what works best for you.

What are some effective ways you have used or considered for reading Matthew?

Please post your ideas below.

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