Matthew’s gospel is focused on the life of Jesus as the promised Messiah for the Jewish people. The Messiah was promised to be a descendant of Abraham and come from the tribe of Judah in the family lineage of King David. He is identified in Revelation5:5 by the title “The Lion of Judah”, a very Jewish title.
The Promised Messiah
The Jewish people were looking for a Messiah who would rescue them from the Roman occupation and not one that would come and die on the cross. This is one of the reasons why they did not recognise Him and so he was rejected as the Messiah. Messiah (Hebrew) means anointed one and is the same word as Christ (from the Greek equivalent)
After the resurrection, salvation opened up to all peoples of the earth because Jesus is the Messiah of the whole world. However, it is valuable to have some understanding of the Jewish background to His life because it gives a deeper understanding of Him and the scriptures.
A Jewish background to Jesus life
- In the Hebrew language, Jesus name would be Yeshua which means salvation.
- Joshua in the Old Testament has the same Hebrew name as Jesus. Joshua is like Jesus in that he led the Israelites into the promises of God.
- The genealogy in Matthew starts with Abraham. Abraham was the father of the whole Jewish race.
- The first verse of Matthew refers to Jesus as both the “Son of Abraham” and the “Son of David”:
- God made an unconditional covenant (contract) with Abraham the Patriarch of the Jewish race. It will find ultimate be fulfilled through Jesus. Genesis 12, Genesis 17 . Visit GotQuestions for more information.
- God made an unconditional covenant with King David from the tribe of Judah. It will ultimately be fulfilled through Jesus, a blood descendant of David. Jesus will one day rule the earth from King David’s throne which will be restored in Jerusalem. 2 Samuel 7:8-17 Visit GotQuestions for more information
- This helps explain why God will fulfill the promises in His Word to restore Israel spiritually (Ezekiel 37:1-14) and not just return them to the Land which happened 70yrs ago.
- The Old Testament prophets and the Apostles were all Jewish.
- Jesus will be a Jewish man for all eternity.
The Jewish Passover feast (and other feasts) tell us something about Jesus. The original Passover feast included the sacrifice of a lamb. If you are put off by the idea of an innocent lamb suffering for something it did not do, then you will understand the idea of Jesus on the cross, as the innocent “lamb” sacrificed for our sins.
The story of Joseph found in the book of Genesis is a picture of the life of Jesus. Joseph was rejected by his Jewish brothers, sold for 20 pieces of silver and his father Jacob understood him to be dead. Jesus likewise was rejected, betrayed for pieces of silver and presented to His Father as dead. Joseph was raised up to save a gentile nation (Egypt). He looked like a gentile and was unrecognisable to his Jewish brothers. Today, faith in Jesus looks very gentile (non-Jewish) in nature. There was great weeping when his brothers recognised Joseph and were reconciled to him as there will be in the future when Israel as a nation (during troubled times) recognises Jesus as their Messiah. (Zechariah 12:10-14)
Understanding these things will give you a new depth of appreciation of the Old Testament (Hebrew) scriptures and the message God wants to convey about His Son who was the promised son of Abraham and son of King David of Israel. It would be good to grow in your understanding of the Jewish roots of our faith