Bible Reading Plan
On August 16 our 2021 Bible Reading Plan turns to Matthew’s gospel. We read Mark, Luke and John earlier this year. As we read the four gospels, it is important to look for what they have in common, for in different ways, they all portray the same Jesus. But it is also important to notice what is different about each gospel—its particular perspective on Jesus. Mark stresses the urgency of the gospel, that the kingdom of God is at hand. Luke lifts up Jesus’ ministry to the poor and marginalized. John emphasizes believing, a mystical unity with God through Jesus.
What about Matthew? Starting with the ‘Sermon on the Mount’ in chapters 5-7, Matthew portrays Jesus as a teacher of the law and faith as a way of living. If the apostle Paul’s message is “salvation by grace through faith,” Matthew’s Jesus is more like James: “faith without works is dead.” We all long to know right from wrong, how to treat people, what matters most—Matthew’s Jesus is always teaching, always expecting us not just to believe in him, but to live like him.
Two verses found only in Matthew exemplify this:
- Not everyone who says to me, “Lord, Lord,” will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father in heaven. (7:21)
- Go and make disciples of all nations . . . teaching them to observe (that is, do) everything I commanded you. (28:19-20)
As you read Matthew this month and next, whenever Jesus gives a moral teaching or sets an expectation for to live, underline it in your Bible or write it down in a notebook. It will be a daunting but holy list. Matthew’s Jesus calls us not just to “get right with God,” but to “live right with others.”