Wednesday Books: Matthew & Mission
I first came across Martin Goldsmith at Spring Harvest about eight years ago. Having heard him give a series of talks that week, when I was next in a Christian bookshop, I was surprised and delighted to see this little (~200 pages) commentary on Matthew’s gospel.
With a Jewish heritage, thoroughly Gentile conversion to saving faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, and extensive, faithful and successful Christian missionary work in Indonesia, Goldsmith’s grasp of Matthew’s gospel speaking into a Jewish context not only sheds light and I believe truth, but also instils excitement that Good News of Jesus Christ can penetrate to the depths of the human heart.
So whether it be searching for light amongst the genealogy with which Matthew begins his gospel, hearing afresh Jesus’ message of the sermon on the mount, the call to mission, the response Jesus demands, the confrontations Jesus faces in Jerusalem, teaching about the end times, or his death and resurrection, Goldsmith shows how startling, glorious, gracious and revolutionary the gospel was for a Jewish population in the first century, and how that message is the one message of hope for the people of today’s world.
For example, Goldsmith’s commentary of Matthew’s account of Palm Sunday, in just two pages, covers much ground. First he shows how this event fulfils the prophecy of Zechariah 9:9-10. The Jewish Messiah is parading into the middle of the Jewish capital, and venturing to place the quote Matthew gives from Zechariah in context, Goldsmith shows that this foal mounted king has universal significance in proclaiming peace to all nations. Goldsmith then highlights how thoroughly Jewish it was for the crowds to turn to Psalm 118, to declare him the royal Son of David, but shows the dichotomy that the same Jesus would be crucified for being the King of the Jews. Psalm 118 is also full of assurance of the Lord granting success and Goldsmith adds, ‘it is a sad reality not only in the life of Jesus, but throughout history, meekness and humility do not draw the crowds like power and success’. Psalm 118 also pictures the festal procession not only entering Jerusalem, but heading straight to the temple, which is of course what Jesus does, drawing crowds of people. Goldsmith shows that Matthew’s emphasis on the crowds seeing the fulfilment of Psalm 118, leads to them being drawn into meet the Saviour of the world, but a Saviour who, when he gets to the temple, cleanses instead of performing some religious cermony, is rejected, causes a stir, but restores the relationship of worshipping people with God. A fore-taste of that which is to come, and a picture for the church’s mission in the world, although just twelve, drawing crowds, to see the Saviour cleanse and restore lives through his grace and mercy.
Goldsmith’s commentary will not be the only one you will need to study Matthew’s gospel carefully, but I would recommend it as an important part of a pastor’s, bible study leader’s, or preacher’s library. And when you can get a second-hand copy on Amazon for 1p……