31 “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his glorious throne. 32 All
the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the
people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the
goats. 33 He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.
the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by
my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since
the creation of the world. 35 For
I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you
gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36 I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’
37 “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39 When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’
King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the
least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’
he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed,
into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. 42 For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, 43 I
was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you
did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after
also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a
stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’
45 “He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’ 46 “Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.” (NIV: Matthew 25:31-46)
Preserving the Law
Matthew’s Emphasis on Keeping the Commandments
|17 “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law (i.e. the commandments of the Torah) or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. 18 For
truly I tell you, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest
letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from
the Law until everything is accomplished. 19 Therefore anyone who sets aside one of the least of these commands
and teaches others accordingly will be called least in the kingdom of
heaven, but whoever practices and teaches these commands will be called
great in the kingdom of heaven. 20 For
I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the
Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the
kingdom of heaven. (NIV: Matthew 5:17-20)
- How does Jesus’ statement regarding the Law (i.e. the Torah)
us to place him within the context of Judaism?
- What is the status of traditional Jewish
law? Does Jesus’ statement imply that Christians must obey all of the commandments
that are presented in the Hebrew Bible (such as keeping kosher,
circumcising males, etc.)?
- What does this passage suggest about the nature of the afterlife?
21 “You have heard that our ancestors were told, ‘You must not murder. If you commit murder, you are subject to judgment.’ 22 But I say, if you are even angry with someone, you are subject to judgment! If you call someone an idiot, you are in danger of being brought before the court. And if you curse someone, you are in danger of the fires of hell.
23 “So if you are presenting a sacrifice at the altar in the Temple and you suddenly remember that someone has something against you, 24 leave your sacrifice there at the altar. Go and be reconciled to that person. Then come and offer your sacrifice to God.
27 “You have heard the commandment that says, ‘You must not commit adultery.’ 28 But I say, anyone who even looks at a woman with lust has already committed adultery with her in his heart. 29 So if your eye — even your good eye — causes
you to lust, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to
lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into
hell. 30 And if your hand — even your stronger hand — causes
you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose
one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell.
38 “You have heard the law that says the punishment must match the injury: ‘An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth.’ 39 But I say, do not resist an evil person! If someone slaps you on the right cheek, offer the other cheek also. 40 If you are sued in court and your shirt is taken from you, give your coat, too. 41 If a soldier demands that you carry his gear for a mile, carry it two miles. 42 Give to those who ask, and don’t turn away from those who want to borrow.
43 “You have heard the law that says, ‘Love your neighbor’ and hate your enemy. 44 But I say, love your enemies! Pray for those who persecute you! 45 In
that way, you will be acting as true children of your Father in heaven.
For he gives his sunlight to both the evil and the good, and he sends
rain on the just and the unjust alike. 46 If you love only those who love you, what reward is there for that? Even corrupt tax collectors do that much. 47 If you are kind only to your friends, how are you different from anyone else? Even pagans do that. 48 But you are to be perfect, even as your Father in heaven is perfect. (NLT: Matthew 5:21-45)
- What do these examples tell us about how Matthew understood Jesus’ idea of “fulfilling the law?”
the first day of the Festival of Unleavened Bread, when the Passover
lamb is sacrificed, Jesus’ disciples asked him, “Where do you want us to
go to prepare the Passover meal for you?”
13 So Jesus sent two of them into Jerusalem with these instructions: “As you go into the city, a man carrying a pitcher of water will meet you. Follow him. 14 At
the house he enters, say to the owner, ‘The Teacher asks: Where is the
guest room where I can eat the Passover meal with my disciples?’ 15 He will take you upstairs to a large room that is already set up. That is where you should prepare our meal.” 16 So the two disciples went into the city and found everything just as Jesus had said, and they prepared the Passover meal there.
17 In the evening Jesus arrived with the Twelve. 18 As they were at the table eating, Jesus said, “I tell you the truth, one of you eating with me here will betray me.”
19 Greatly distressed, each one asked in turn, “Am I the one?”
20 He replied, “It is one of you twelve who is eating from this bowl with me. 21 For the Son of Man
must die, as the Scriptures declared long ago. But how terrible it will
be for the one who betrays him. It would be far better for that man if
he had never been born!”
22 As they were eating, Jesus took some bread and blessed it. Then he broke it in pieces and gave it to the disciples, saying, “Take it, for this is my body.”
23 And he took a cup of wine and gave thanks to God for it. He gave it to them, and they all drank from it. 24 And he said to them, “This is my blood, which confirms the covenant between God and his people. It is poured out as a sacrifice for many. 25 I tell you the truth, I will not drink wine again until the day I drink it new in the Kingdom of God.” (NLT: Mark 14:12-25)
|The gospel of Matthew may be thought of as
a Jewish Christian gospel, since it makes frequent references to the Old Testament, represents Jesus as a second Moses who will usher in a
“Kingdom of Heaven” on earth, and focuses on Jewish themes such as social justice and strict adherence to the commandments of the
Torah/Law. Choose one of the biblical passages above and explain how it
highlights a Jewish emphasis on transforming the world through “works of Law” (i.e. adhering to the 613 commandments of the Torah/Law) as opposed to the
Christian tendancy to emphasize the salvational power of “faith.”|