There are many ways to engage your audience. The opening phrase of any message is the most important. It seems peculiar then, that Matthew chose to engage his audience with “The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham”. A lineage? That is less appealing to me than the ingredient list on the cereal box. But for an Israelite, this lineage is validation. Matthew knows his audience, and to prove Jesus is the Messiah they were promised, they need to know He is qualified. That starts with telling them His bloodline.
In the genealogy provided, Matthew lists several kings; but he only calls one of them a king, David (1.6). Immediately after His birth, wise men from the East come to worship Him because they have read the Holy Scriptures and recognize the sign of the star (2.2). This is Matthew’s chance to introduce interactions between baby Jesus and mankind. Matthew provides us that the wise men ask, “Where is He who has been born king of the Jews? For we…have come to worship Him.” Notice that? Jesus is a king by birth, and worthy of worship.
By citation or allusion, Matthew references the Old Testament scriptures more than the three other Gospel writers. He wants the Jews to understand that the Righteous One prophesied about had come. Seven times Matthew uses a phrase like, “This was to fulfill what was spoken by the prophet…”. These events that reference prophecy include His birth (1.22); His childhood (2.15); miracles (8.17); parables (13.35); and more.
Matthew takes no time to explain Jewish customs in his writing. For example, in 15.2 (“Why do your disciples break the tradition of the elders? For they do not wash their hands when they eat.”) Matthew assumes the reader will know the importance of handwashing as a Jewish custom. It may be a commonly accepted matter of hygiene today, but not in the 1st century.
Jesus claims “All authority” in Matthew’s gospel alone. This may not be the wildest thing you can glean from Matthew but consider what it means: Jesus is in charge- of everything. Unlike the soldiers we should bow in respect. Hail! King of the Jews!