Introduction to Matthew’s Gospel: Jesus, the New Moses
Truth Taught- Jesus is a Greater Savior, Redeemer and Deliverer than Moses
Every Gospel writer has a purpose in writing. These emphases show themselves as specific and pointed themes that can be chased down as one reads these amazing accounts of our Lord.
Purpose of Mark’s Gospel…
One of the most predominant themes in Mark’s Gospel is the messianic secret. Jesus does not reveal, or admit to, his Messiahship in the first half of Mark’s Gospel. In the second half of the Gospel, however, he acknowledges it to the disciples after Peter’s confession, but commands them not to tell anybody (8:27-30).
Mark 8:27–30 (ESV)
27 And Jesus went on with his disciples to the villages of Caesarea Philippi. And on the way he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that I am?” 28 And they told him, “John the Baptist; and others say, Elijah; and others, one of the prophets.” 29 And he asked them, “But who do you say that I am?” Peter answered him, “You are the Christ.” 30 And he strictly charged them to tell no one about him.
Luke’s purpose is found in his prologue…
Luke 1:1–4 (ESV)
1 Inasmuch as many have undertaken to compile a narrative of the things that have been accomplished among us, 2 just as those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and ministers of the word have delivered them to us, 3 it seemed good to me also, having followed all things closely for some time past, to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus, 4 that you may have certainty concerning the things you have been taught.
John’s purpose is to instill belief within his readers.
John 20:30–31 (ESV)
30 Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; 31 but these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.
So, you’re no doubt wondering what is Matthew’s purpose? Why did he write? What is God’s theme(s) in Matthew?
There are 4 main themes through the pages of Matthew’s Gospel. Matthew presents Jesus as the New Moses, the New David, New Abraham, and the New Creator. These themes are very rich in meaning.
Today, we will look together at Jesus, the New Moses
Deuteronomy 18:15–19 (ESV)
15 “The Lord your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among you, from your brothers—it is to him you shall listen— 16 just as you desired of the Lord your God at Horeb on the day of the assembly, when you said, ‘Let me not hear again the voice of the Lord my God or see this great fire any more, lest I die.’ 17 And the Lord said to me, ‘They are right in what they have spoken. 18 I will raise up for them a prophet like you from among their brothers. And I will put my words in his mouth, and he shall speak to them all that I command him. 19 And whoever will not listen to my words that he shall speak in my name, I myself will require it of him.
As we begin there are a few things we should see as far as foundational issues.
The Jews in the first century, the time the New Testament was written viewed the Deuteronomy text as a prophecy pointing to the coming Messiah. They often referred to the Messiah as the Prophet; pointing back to the promise God gave them some 1500 years earlier concerning the coming Messiah being a prophet like Moses.
Acts 3:22–26 (ESV)
22 Moses said, ‘The Lord God will raise up for you a prophet like me from your brothers. You shall listen to him in whatever he tells you. 23 And it shall be that every soul who does not listen to that prophet shall be destroyed from the people.’ 24 And all the prophets who have spoken, from Samuel and those who came after him, also proclaimed these days. 25 You are the sons of the prophets and of the covenant that God made with your fathers, saying to Abraham, ‘And in your offspring shall all the families of the earth be blessed.’ 26 God, having raised up his servant, sent him to you first, to bless you by turning every one of you from your wickedness.”
Matthew reaches back into the Old Testament to bring amazing truth to light. He shows is the supremacy of Jesus as the Superior Moses. The way he writes his Gospel expressly points to the fact that Jesus is the Prophet/Savior God promised His people during the time of Moses.
How is Jesus like Moses?
We are most likely familiar with the events surrounding our Savior’s birth. If one is familiar with these events and the events surrounding Moses’ birth a light should come on. There are similar things concerning the birth of Moses and of Jesus.
Do you remember the death of all the male children in Jerusalem by King Herod?
Matthew 2:16–18 (ESV)
16 Then Herod, when he saw that he had been tricked by the wise men, became furious, and he sent and killed all the male children in Bethlehem and in all that region who were two years old or under, according to the time that he had ascertained from the wise men. 17 Then was fulfilled what was spoken by the prophet Jeremiah:
18 “A voice was heard in Ramah,
weeping and loud lamentation,
Rachel weeping for her children;
she refused to be comforted, because they are no more.”
If you were a first-century Bible reader this would have no doubt made you think that you were reading something you’ve read before…
Exodus 1:15–17 (ESV)
15 Then the king of Egypt said to the Hebrew midwives, one of whom was named Shiphrah and the other Puah, 16 “When you serve as midwife to the Hebrew women and see them on the birthstool, if it is a son, you shall kill him, but if it is a daughter, she shall live.” 17 But the midwives feared God and did not do as the king of Egypt commanded them, but let the male children live.
Two evil and obsessed Kings thirsty for power command the male children to be put to death are not coincidental but, in fact, providential. Jesus is like Moses in His birth.
To make it even clearer that Matthew is showing Jesus as the New Moses he quotes from Exodus 4.
Matthew 2:19–21 (ESV)
19 But when Herod died, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt, 20 saying, “Rise, take the child and his mother and go to the land of Israel, for those who sought the child’s life are dead.” 21 And he rose and took the child and his mother and went to the land of Israel.
This is a direct quote from Exodus 4 found in the Greek OT.
Exodus 4:19 (ESV)
19 And the Lord said to Moses in Midian, “Go back to Egypt, for all the men who were seeking your life are dead.”
What’s remarkable is that these words spoken to Joseph come from an angel sent by God. The angel’s words are quoting the OT account of Moses returning once the coast is clear.
Just as Pharaoh (the King of Egypt ca. 1300 BC) killed all the baby boys of the Hebrews, and only Moses is saved (Exod 1:22 – 2:10), so also Herod (the King of Israel at the birth of Jesus) kills all the male babies in Bethlehem, and only Jesus is saved (Matt 2:13-18).
The first in depth example of Jesus’ teaching ministry that comes from Matthew’s Gospel is the Sermon on the Mount found in Matthew 5-7.
Matthew 5:1 (ESV)
5 Seeing the crowds, he went up on the mountain, and when he sat down, his disciples came to him.
Why is Matthew so concerned about telling us that Jesus ascended the mountain in order to teach His followers the Law of Moses? Because Matthew is showing us the Jesus is the greater Law-Giver, He is the New Moses.
Moses received and taught the Law from Mount Sanai so to show Jesus as the New Moses, Matthew presents Jesus up on the mountain delivering the New Law. What’s interesting to note is that Jesus did not receive the Law like Moses did because He is the very author of it.
When Matthew writes, he went up on the mountain; he is quoting from Exodus 19 in the Greek OT…
Exodus 19:3 (ESV)
3 while Moses went up to God. The Lord called to him out of the mountain, saying, “Thus you shall say to the house of Jacob, and tell the people of Israel:
When Matthew writes, the mountain he is comparing it to the mountain Moses ascended. It is not Matthew’s practice to put the definite article in front of the word mountain he has a purpose. He is directly comparing the mountain of Moses to the mountain of Jesus. Moses gave us the old covenant and Jesus gives us the far superior new covenant.
Today’s Christians see Moses mostly as a lawgiver but that is not an accurate picture of Moses. He was first and foremost a savior, redeemer, and deliverer.
Matthew’s greatest portrayal of Jesus as the New Moses goes like this: Just as Moses led Israel out of slavery in Egypt to freedom so Jesus leads His people out of slavery to sin to freedom as well.
We see the angel’s declaration…
Matthew 1:20–21 (ESV)
20 But as he considered these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. 21 She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.”
So, the New Moses will lead His people on a new exodus.
Matthew quotes Hosea 11:1 and connects it to Jesus showing that Jesus is the New Moses who leads his people on a new Exodus.
Matthew 2:13–15 (ESV)
13 Now when they had departed, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, “Rise, take the child and his mother, and flee to Egypt, and remain there until I tell you, for Herod is about to search for the child, to destroy him.” 14 And he rose and took the child and his mother by night and departed to Egypt 15 and remained there until the death of Herod. This was to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet, “Out of Egypt I called my son.”
What is Matthew getting at when he quotes Hosea in reference to Jesus, God’s Son coming out of Egypt? Matthew’s mission is to show his readers that Jesus’ departure from Egypt signals that Israel’s promised deliverance from Egypt (slavery to sin) has begun. As Jesus leads us out of spiritual bondage to sin into God’s promised land He is shouting, as it were, Pharaoh, let My people go!
Moses took the blood and dashed it on the people, and said, ‘See the blood of the covenant . . . that the Lord has made with you in accordance with all these words’ [Exodus 24:8]. . . . Through blood Moses was the mediator of the old covenant. Through blood Jesus is the mediator of the new covenant.”
Moses was the mediator of the OT Covenant between God and Israel. The covenant was God showing His special love and care to the Israelites. God establishes the covenant on Mount Sinai
Exodus 19:1–6 (ESV)
19 On the third new moon after the people of Israel had gone out of the land of Egypt, on that day they came into the wilderness of Sinai. 2 They set out from Rephidim and came into the wilderness of Sinai, and they encamped in the wilderness. There Israel encamped before the mountain, 3 while Moses went up to God. The Lord called to him out of the mountain, saying, “Thus you shall say to the house of Jacob, and tell the people of Israel: 4 ‘You yourselves have seen what I did to the Egyptians, and how I bore you on eagles’ wings and brought you to myself. 5 Now therefore, if you will indeed obey my voice and keep my covenant, you shall be my treasured possession among all peoples, for all the earth is mine; 6 and you shall be to me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.’ These are the words that you shall speak to the people of Israel.”
Moses delivers the covenant to God’s people and then encourages their obedience to it. He initiates the covenant by sprinkling blood of the sacrifice on the altar in Exodus 24.
Moses brought the OT Covenant and did all God told him to do. He mediated it, delivered it, encouraged Israel to keep it but that was all he could do. Ultimately, the people failed to keep it and there was nothing Moses could do about it.
Now lets look at the New Moses, namely our Lord Jesus.
The OT tells us that the New Covenant will be mediated by the Messiah. We have passages like Ezekiel 37, Deuteronomy 30, Jeremiah 31 and others. Here the allusions to the New Covenant remind us that the NC will not be a set of laws to obey but it will be transformational to the worshipper. In other words, the NC when initiated will change us on the inside and give God’s people a new heart one that seeks obedience to God.
Again we turn to Matthew’s Truth Taught…
Matthew 1:21 (ESV)
21 She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.”
Here, the angel is alluding to Ezekiel 36-37 where the promise of the NC is given.
Ezekiel 36:28–29 (ESV)
28 You shall dwell in the land that I gave to your fathers, and you shall be my people, and I will be your God. 29 And I will deliver you from all your uncleannesses. And I will summon the grain and make it abundant and lay no famine upon you.
In order to make a sinful people God’s people something radical has to take place.
Just like how the OC was instituted when Moses sprinkled the sacrificial blood on the alter in the Book of Exodus, so too the NC is instituted by the New Moses, our Lord Jesus Christ when He shed His own blood as the Sacrificial Lamb.
Matthew 26:26–28 (ESV)
26 Now as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and after blessing it broke it and gave it to the disciples, and said, “Take, eat; this is my body.” 27 And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he gave it to them, saying, “Drink of it, all of you, 28 for this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.
When Jesus began the Lord’s Supper He was sitting with His disciples celebrating the Passover meal. This was the first Exodus event when Moses led the Israelites out of slavery and into freedom. So too, Jesus declares that the next day He would be leading a new Passover not with the blood of bulls and goats but with His own blood. His blood would be sprinkled on the altar and He, the New Moses would lead all of His people from slavery to sin and into the Promised Land.
He is the only One qualified to be our Mediator because He is the only One who kept the Law of the OC perfectly. He applies His covenant keeping to us. When He died and His blood was shed all of God’s people were led out od slavery.
1 Corinthians 11:25 (ESV)
25 In the same way also he took the cup, after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.”
The New Moses leads us on a New Exodus to the New Promised Land.
Praise the mighty work of Jesus the Prophet, Savior, Deliverer like Moses and vastly superior to Moses.
Further reading Hebrews 3-4
Sometimes after a message is preached I call us to obedience in certain areas. We are to do what the passage tells us to do. Today I’d like to call us to a greater faith. In a sense call us to do nothing but believe. Jesus leads us home by the sprinkling of His blood the perfect sinless blood applied to us by the Holy Spirit. Salvation is being led out of bondage to sin and into the Promised Land and Jesus has done it all. He kept our part of the covenant that we failed to keep…that is given to us as righteousness. He paid our sin debt which we owed for us by dying on the cross and shedding His blood. He is the reason God is able to forgive our sin and still be holy. Jesus went into the Holy of Holies for us and made the perfect God required sacrifice and came out three days later.
Matthew by D A Carson in the Expositor’s Bible Commentary
A Theology of Matthew by Charles Quarles
A Gospel of Matthew by France
Matthew by Craig Bloomberg
Matthew by Doriani
Matthew by Charles Price
Matthew by Leon Morris
Blue Letter Bible