Coram Deo ~

Looking at contemporary culture from a Christian worldview

Matthew: The Gospel of Identity

Matthew

Matthew: The Gospel of Identity by Michael Card. IVP Books. 272 pages. 2013.
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This is Michael Card’s third book in the Biblical Imagination Series, with books on Luke and Mark preceding this book. The Biblical Imagination Series is made up of four elements: commentary, music, on-site experience and community discussion. The series overviews the Gospels by means of a commentary on each of the four books, a collection of songs and a video teaching series from Israel as well as a touring conference series. Christ Church hosted the Mark Biblical Imagination Conference in 2012 and also the conference on Matthew was on April 25-26, 2014.
Michael writes:
“Our approach is to “engage the text at the level of the informed imagination.” This method takes seriously the impact of the fall on every dimension of human experience, including the fragmented and fallen way we listen to the Bible.
How do we reconnect this rift between the heart and mind that was caused by the fall? As I understand it, only the imagination can bridge the gap. This is why the Bible reaches out primarily to our imaginations, for by doing so, the heart and mind become reengaged.”
As I read through this excellent book I highlighted numerous passages. I list part one of those notes below for your edification, with the recommendation that you read the entire book yourself and consider joining Michael for the Biblical Imagination Conference at Christ Church in April, 2014.
• The voice we hear in Matthew, perhaps his own, perhaps not, has been for me the least distinct of all the Gospel writers.
• We find the opposite voice—a concern for the Old Testament and its fulfillment, for Judaism redeemed and reborn, and the triumph of the new reality over the old orthodoxy. It has been described as the voice of a Christian scribe, and we will see that Matthew is a scribal work that represents more than one voice.
• That Matthew was a tax collector speaks the most about him as a person. Without question, he would have been banned from the synagogue and looked upon as a traitor by his own people
• The Gospel of Matthew as a collection of sayings of Jesus compiled by a tax collector, that makes sense.
• This becomes even clearer when we return to the text of Matthew’s Gospel and discover there are five large blocks of Jesus’ sayings, which occasionally seem to reflect an unconnected list of logia. This may very well be Matthew’s fingerprint on the Gospel. I suggest that someone else, whom some scholars describe as a “Christian scribe,” who was a part of Matthew’s community, took those original logia and, using the Gospel of Mark as a template, wrote what we have come to know as the Gospel of Matthew.
• What sets Matthew (the Gospel) apart is the focus on a place and a crisis. The place is Galilee, to which Matthew refers some sixteen times.
• Matthew could be described as the Gospel of Galilee.
• The Galilee of Jesus’ day was a land in crisis.
• Galilee in Jesus’ day was crowded and frequently the center of conflict between the Romans and the Jews, and among the Jews themselves.
• Into this turmoil of mid-first-century Galilee, Jesus and his movement were born, and the first community of his followers, all Galileans, was set on a collision course with crisis.
• So, within the preexisting turmoil that was Galilee, another crisis was brewing. Amid the growing conflict between the Romans and the Jews that would result in the destruction of the temple and the rebirth of Judaism as we know it, a small group of Jews was coming together. They had found the Messiah, Jesus of Galilee. To the best of their ability, they carried on with their daily work, Sabbath observance and synagogue attendance (see the disciples observing the hours of prayer in the temple, Acts 3:1; 10:30). The crisis that loomed on the horizon would destroy what fragile identity they had left. They were Christians who did not yet know they were Christians. Matthew’s Gospel is written in the face of this growing crisis. His portrayal of Jesus and his word will provide for this conflicted congregation the one thing they most badly need: identity.
• The organizing principle of identity pulls together all the unique threads of the life situation of the first recipients of the Gospel of Matthew, the Gospel of identity.
• The crisis in Galilee will strip those first followers of Jesus of their identity.
• To those who were being stripped of their identity as children of Israel, Matthew’s Gospel speaks repeatedly of the kingdom of God.
• More than any other Gospel, it portrays the kingship of Jesus and the radical uniqueness of his kingdom.
• Jesus will redefine his followers, whose identities were rooted in the occupation of fishing, as fishers of people
• But most of all, it is Jesus’ identity that is revealed in the Gospel of Matthew.
• Matthew’s Gospel is about identity, about discarding the old, incomplete identities that enslave us and receiving a radical new identity.
• Matthew is primarily about the identity of Jesus and the often-painful process of subsuming our identities in his (see Gal 3:28). As we come to the Gospel of Matthew with that most fundamental question, “Who am I?” the writer responds by telling us who Jesus is.
• The entire Gospel might be summed up in the plea “Jesus, tell me who you are, so I can know who I am.” In this light the question “Who am I?” is transformed into the penultimate question as it becomes servant to the ultimate question, “Who is Jesus?”
• Though Matthew is the most Jewish of the Gospels, the writer is still aware that there is a place for the Gentiles in the future God has planned for his people.
• One unique feature of the Gospel of Matthew is angelic disclosure through dreams (Mt 2:12, 13, 19, 22).
• In Matthew 1:22 we have the first example of what is referred to as a “fulfillment formula” in Matthew’s Gospel. Again and again, the author of Matthew will return to the Old Testament to show how the coming of Jesus of Nazareth has perfectly fulfilled something that was spoken long ago in the Old Testament Scriptures.
• We know so little of Joseph, yet as the Scripture always does, we are told everything we need to know about him. The most important information comes to us from Matthew 1:19. Joseph is described as a “righteous” (dikaios) man.
• Joseph would have been the first character in the Gospel with whom its first hearers in Matthew’s community would resonate. His predicament is a parable of theirs. Like them, he faces a difficult decision: to maintain the status quo of the old orthodoxy or to follow a new and wonderful dream from God at an enormous personal cost. Joseph, the namesake of a dreamer, clearly follows the dream. Though his life is made vastly more difficult as a result, on every hand he is protected by God. Matthew’s first hearers have reason to embrace the same hope.
• These are Jesus’ first words in the Gospel of Matthew: “Allow it [Jesus’ baptism] for now, because this is the way for us to fulfill all righteousness” (Mt 3:15). In fact, they are his first words in the New Testament. The first words of any character in any piece of literature are important. How much more the first words of God’s Son in the pages of the New Testament! Jesus is asking John to do something out of the ordinary, outside the confines of his understanding, outside the boundaries of the old orthodoxy. Jesus is asking John to take part in “fulfilling all righteousness,” though he does not completely understand at the moment. These are important first words, because they can be understood as his first words to you and me, inviting us into a world that is beyond our understanding, asking us to become a part of a new reality that lies far beyond our old orthodoxy.
• As Jesus is coming out of the water, he sees heaven open and the Spirit descending and resting on him. This is the inauguration of his ministry. Present there is the Trinity, in whose name his future followers will all one day be baptized: Jesus, the Son; the Father’s voice; and the Spirit, in the form of a dove.
• Like his Old Testament namesake, Joseph was a dreamer.
• Somehow Joseph was the sort of person who could more easily believe a dream than a real-life encounter with an angel.
• The same Spirit that descends on Jesus at his baptism now leads him into the wilderness to be tempted. The two events are always linked in the Gospels: baptism and temptation.
• As Jesus comes up out of the water, the Father speaks, announcing Jesus’ ultimate and definitive identity. He is the beloved Son.
• Now that identity will be severely tested in the wilderness. The situation is just the same with us, whose identities are rooted in Jesus. Precisely at those moments when we best understand our true identities as sons and daughters of God and as brothers and sisters of Jesus, the evil one seeks to distort or destroy that identity.
• Though the words of his message are identical with those of his cousin John (Mt 3:2), it is a different message altogether. John was preparing the way for the kingdom by seeking the repentance of the people. In Jesus, that kingdom has come. The proper response to John’s message was to repent. The only response to Jesus’ call is to follow.
• If you simply time yourself reading the words of Jesus (the red letters) in each Gospel, you will discover that in Matthew you spend the most time listening to Jesus speak: roughly an hour and twelve minutes.

PART TWO ~

• In the upside-down kingdom, a new identity is granted each group of individuals: the poor in spirit will become kingdom possessors; those who mourn will become the comforted; those who are gentle will become the inheritors of the earth; those who are hungry for righteousness will become the satisfied.
• As Jesus proceeds with his inaugural manifesto of new identity, he becomes even more direct. The two things most useful to the world, salt and light, describe the character of the new identity of his followers.
• Again, the material is structured into five blocks of teaching, each set off with the phrases like “you have heard that it was said” and “but I tell you.”

• Jesus redefines the new righteousness by redefining sin itself: beyond the concrete act, sin begins with the intention of the heart. Sin begins not in dark alleyways but in a darkened imagination.
• The followers of Jesus, the citizens of his kingdom, will learn that their citizenship is based precisely on not getting what they deserve. His mercy, his hesed, makes their citizenship possible. Once they realize all that his hesed has made possible, they are obliged to respond to the world with the same hesed. We do not give people the punishment they deserve, because we did not receive the punishment we deserved. We love our enemies because God loves his enemies.
• The first great block closes with a formula, “when Jesus had finished this sermon” (Mt 7:28), which will be repeated in the closings of each one of the five blocks.
• Matthew 8 begins the second major section of Matthew’s Gospel. It will come to a conclusion in the opening verses of chapter 10 when Jesus will call and commission the Twelve. This second section will be preoccupied with the question “Who is Jesus?”
• Not until Matthew 8 does Jesus perform his first miracle.
• To Matthew’s first audience, the account of the healing of the leper would provide a significant piece of the puzzle of Jesus’ identity. He is the one with absolute authority.
• This is the only time in Matthew’s Gospel that Jesus is said to be amazed or astonished. In Luke’s account, Jesus’ response is a brief fourteen words. In Matthew, Jesus uses the occasion to prophesy that at the great messianic feast (see Is 25:6-9; 56:3-8) many outsiders from the east and the west will sit alongside the great patriarchs in the kingdom, but many who were originally invited to be the subjects of that kingdom (that is, the Jews) will be thrown outside in despair. Matthew sees the story in light of the kingdom and its unexpected and unsettling nature.
• The healing of the slave is almost an afterthought. It is clearly not the primary focus of the story. So often the miracle in any given account is not really the miracle. There is often a “miracle behind the miracle,” and this story is no exception. Jesus merely says, “Go . . . let it be done for you” (Mt 8:13). In absentia, Jesus’ absolute power is made manifest, and the slave is healed offstage. The true miracle, miraculous enough to amaze even Jesus himself, is the faith of the Roman soldier.
• The ever-present scribes are offended at hearing Jesus exercise this kind of authority. To them it clearly only belongs to God. They whisper to themselves (usually a bad sign in the Gospels) that Jesus is committing blasphemy.
• The Old Testament word for “mercy” is the Hebrew word hesed. This word describes the very heart of God and is used over 250 times in the Old Testament. It is an untranslatable word, like love. It can properly be understood only by being incarnated. And this is what Jesus has come to do. The creators of the King James Version had to invent a new word to attempt to translate the untranslatable hesed. They came up with the compound word lovingkindness. The best translation I know requires an entire sentence: “when the person from whom I have a right to expect nothing gives me everything.” If hesed is a word God himself uses to define his heart, it must define Jesus’ heart as well. Though Matthew—or you or me—has a right to expect nothing from God because of his stubborn disobedience, God nonetheless has come to give us everything.
• Matthew 10 provides a good illustration of what is fundamentally different about this gospel as compared to the others. When Jesus sends the twelve apostles out on their first mission, Mark devotes only two verses to Jesus’ instructions to them (Mk 6:10-11). Luke provides only three verses (Lk 9:3-5). Matthew devotes an entire chapter of forty-two verses. While Matthew may be a selective minimalist in regard to the detail of the story, he is the extreme opposite when it comes to the words of Jesus.
• Remember in Mark we have only twenty-two minutes of “face time” with Jesus. In Luke we have fifty-three minutes with Jesus speaking directly to us. In John we have only forty-four. But in Matthew, Jesus speaks to us for more than an hour (one hour and twelve minutes).
• We must embrace the foolishness of the cross to be wise, let go our possessions to become wealthy and become slaves to be free. This is the radical reversal, the upside-down nature of the kingdom and the source of our new identities in him.
• Matthew 11 opens with a closing formula that marks the end of the second great block of Jesus’ teaching in Matthew’s Gospel (Mt 7:28; 13:53; 19:1; 26:1).
• Now John sends a group of his disciples with what must be the most remarkable question in all of the New Testament. Only Matthew records it, perhaps because it is a question of identity.
• Clearly John has stumbled. Jesus has failed to meet his expectations—yes, even John’s expectations! And if Jesus failed to meet John’s expectations, certainly he is likely to fail to meet ours. There is nothing wrong with Jesus; it is our expectations that are patently wrong.
• The miracle of the feeding of the five thousand was one of perfect provision. The twelve disciples collected twelve small baskets of crumbs so that they too might be fed. All this is by the power of the one who had taught them to pray only for their daily bread and who apparently never uses that power to feed himself.
• Matthew tells us they gave “glory to the God of Israel.” Once again, Jesus is never praised when he performs miracles. He always wins praise for the Father.
• Earlier at the feeding of the five thousand, the miracle was the perfect provision of twelve small baskets for the Twelve. At the feeding of the four thousand, the miracle is abundance, as seven man-sized baskets of leftovers are collected. In Matthew 16:9-10 Jesus will recap the two miracles for the disciples and be careful to use the two different words for “basket.” The key to understanding the two miracles is found in the small detail of the different types of baskets.
• In a Gospel based on identity, this is a supreme moment. The two friends are defining each other. You are the Christ. You are Peter, the rock.
• Clearly the miracle and the story is not the point. So, what is the miracle behind the unseen miracle? Remember, these are their final days in Galilee. Soon they will leave for the final journey to Jerusalem (Mt 19:1). This is the last time for Jesus and Peter to spend time together in private, there in his home in Capernaum. Tired from their hike back from Caesarea Philippi, they come home to find two religious men waiting to coerce a tax from Jesus that he should not have to pay in the first place. There should have been a confrontation. Jesus should have sent them packing. Yet he chooses not to do so. Mysteriously, he does not want to offend them. And why? This is the miracle: Jesus chooses to exercise his miraculous power to make a coin appear to pay the tax so that he and his friend might spend their last few hours together in peace.
• One of the key concepts of mercy (hesed) is that once we are shown mercy, we become obligated to give mercy. Upon realizing that the person from whom we have a right to expect nothing has given us everything, we must reciprocate.
• Remember our working definition of hesed: “when the person from whom I have a right to expect nothing gives me everything.” So many of Jesus’ parables are really about hesed.
• But they are to aspire to be slaves in the kingdom. In the upside-down value system on which it is based, where the last is first, being a slave puts you on the top of the ladder. As always their identities are tied to Jesus’ identity. He, the Son of Man, the Supreme Human, came to serve and to give his life as a ransom (lytron), the technical term for the price paid to redeem slaves.

PART THREE ~

• The rejected stone is a stumbling stone, Jesus implies in verse 44. Everyone who encounters him will experience brokenness. Either you stumble over the stone and are redemptively broken or the stone falls on you and you are completely and utterly destroyed, just like the wineskins that can’t hold the new wine.
• When Jesus says, “Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s” (NIV 1984), in light of the inscription that claims divinity, Jesus intends that nothing belongs to Caesar. The claim to divinity belongs only to God and should be given only to him. His answer is neither yes nor no, but it nonetheless amazes them all.
• To the Sadducees, Jesus gives a very pharisaic answer. In the next conflict story, he will give to the Pharisees a very Sadducaic answer. This effectively pits the two groups against each other.
• With the opening of Matthew 23 we enter into the final block of the five large sections of Jesus’ teaching in the book of Matthew. It will extend all the way to 25:46.
• In chapter 23 we will see Jesus at his most emotional in Matthew’s Gospel, from disgust to rage to lament.
• His consistent witness throughout his ministry has been to the upside-down nature of the kingdom, where the least are the greatest and the last are first. Now Jesus reiterates that the servant is the greatest. That, it appears, is the only title his followers should ever covet. This, of all his teachings, the disciples must hear and understand.
• Verse 39 marks the close of Jesus’ public ministry. From this point on, all his instructions will be made in private.
• In an attempt to move all this information from the heads of his disciples into their hearts, Jesus tells a parable. It provides a vivid image of how the slaves of the master can be prepared for the time of his return, which is unknown and unknowable.
• Following the lengthy teaching on the end times in Matthew 24, Jesus explains the concept of being ready by telling three more parables. This is his final block of teaching in Matthew’s Gospel. The narrative will resume, taking us all the way to the cross and resurrection.
• The fact that Jesus would create three different parables on the theme of his return should cause us to realize how important our being ready for it was to him and therefore how important it should be to us.
• The master repeats one of the upside-down values of the kingdom in verse 29: “For to everyone who has, more will be given, and he will have more than enough. But from the one who does not have, even what he has will be taken away from him.” We heard this puzzling maxim already in 13:12 in the conclusion of the parable of the soils.
• The theme is his radical identification. Jesus has identified with the poor, the hungry, the thirsty, the stranger, the naked, the sick and the prisoner. Without even looking for him, the righteous found him in the poor, and they didn’t even know it was Jesus. I can see the multitude on the right side of the throne turning their gaze for a moment from his luminous face and looking into one another’s faces, especially in the faces of the poor who are standing in the multitude. It will be a moment of stunning recognition.
• Of all the images of the return, this is the most disturbing to me. Two multitudes beyond counting, one joyfully confused, relieved and deliriously happy that, without even knowing it, they had loved Jesus well. The other despairingly confused, horror filled, that what they must have suspected all along turned out to be true. The person they thought they were serving never existed.
• When Jesus had finished saying all this – The chapter opens with the writer of Matthew’s familiar statement for closing each of the five blocks of Jesus’ teaching.
• John lets us know her name is Mary. She is Martha’s sister. Mark lets us know the perfume was worth a year’s wages, approximately three hundred denarii, which is roughly twelve thousand dollars.
• Judas presents us with a dark mystery. Matthew sheds more light on him than any of the other Gospels.
• If it was pure and simple greed, as it appears from Matthew to be, then Judas’s deal with the priests netted him around five thousand dollars.
• Thirty pieces of silver in the Old Testament was the price of a slave. I sometimes wonder if this contains an element of contempt. I imagine Judas thinking, If he is going to act like a slave, then I’m going to sell him like one. Mary pours away twelve thousand dollars out of love for Jesus. Judas makes a profit of five thousand.
• The others had said, “Not I, Lord?” But Judas says, “Not I, Rabbi?” He never calls Jesus “Lord.”
• Jesus leaves them a few steps behind and falls to the ground in agony. If there is any way out, he tells his Father, he wants out. If you don’t understand this moment of supreme anguish, when Jesus’ will is fighting against the will of his Father, you simply don’t understand what the garden of Gethsemane was all about. The battle is won when Jesus resolves, “Not as I will, but as You will.” If not for this moment, the cross would have never happened.
• The failure of his best friends must have been a crushing blow for Jesus. When he sees them asleep for the third time, he realizes that indeed he is going to have to face this all alone. No one was ever more alone than Jesus of Galilee. Eventually even his Father would forsake him.
• As we have consistently seen, the old orthodoxy makes you blind. As the priests stoop down and gather the coins, they feel no guilt for manipulating Judas, and they feel no guilt for condemning an innocent man by means of an illegal trial. According to the old orthodoxy, it had to be done. And they are careful with what they do with the money. It was “blood money” (Deut 23:18; 27:25). They cannot simply put it back into the treasury. Instead, they use it to buy a field to bury foreigners. Oddly, they feel guilty about the money being tainted, not themselves. Matthew sees it as a fulfillment of Jeremiah 32:6-9; Jeremiah bought a similar field during the first siege of Jerusalem. With all the Old Testament passages in the remaining chapters that will be meticulously fulfilled in Jesus’ death and resurrection, this is the last time Matthew uses his fulfillment formula.
• Of the multiple sins that weigh down on Judas, it is despair that finally kills him. In his twisted imagination, he realizes that there is nothing left he can do but end it all. There was nothing left to do because he had denied the only thing a person can do when faced with a mountain of sin and pain: return to Jesus.
• He had been named prefect in A.D. 26 due to the influence of his patron, a man named Lucius Sejanus. Sejanus is perhaps the most important historical character who has a direct influence on the gospel and yet whose name most of us do not know. It is not an exaggeration to say that, from a strictly historical point of view, he is the reason Pilate handed Jesus over to be crucified.
• As the patron of a condemned traitor, he is on extremely thin ice and cannot afford any more attention from Rome at this moment. When a voice from the crowd shouts, “If you release [Jesus], you are not Caesar’s friend” (Jn 19:12), he has no choice but to let them have their way so his position can remain secure.
• At the instigation of the priests, the crowd accepts the unacceptable choice of Barabbas. The guilty man goes free while the sinless One is convicted. It is a snapshot of how the gospel works.
• Divine disclosure through dreams has been a uniquely Matthean theme. Her dream is the last dream of the Gospel.
• In verse 34, Jesus is offered a drink of wine mixed with what is usually referred to as myrrh. Besides being a perfume, myrrh is also a narcotic. The majority view on this passage is that it represents a custom whereby the righteous women of Jerusalem, in an act of compassion, provided the mixture to ease the pain of condemned criminals. But the Aramaic words for “myrrh” and “gall” are virtually identical. In Psalm 69:21, which prophetically portrays the scene, the word gall is used. Matthew uses gall as well. It is important to realize that gall is not the same thing as myrrh. Gall, in fact, is poison. There is at least a chance that this offer of a drink was Satan’s last attempt to kill Jesus before the cross. After all, he had tried to kill Jesus as an infant (Mt 2:16). He had tried to convince Jesus to jump off the roof of the temple (Mt 4:6). He had tried to drown Jesus in the storm (Mt. 8:24). He had tried to have Jesus stoned by the crowd (Jn 11:8). Is it too much to believe that a drink, perhaps with poison gall, was Satan’s last attempt to kill Jesus before he made it to the cross? The fact that Jesus spits the drink out after he tastes it might be an indication that he realized it was poisonous.
• The priests sneer, “He saved others, but he cannot save himself.” They don’t understand that Jesus saves others precisely by not saving himself.
• In this darkness Jesus has lost touch with his Father. Now he is only “my God.”
• As his loud cry echoes, another sound is heard coming from inside the temple as the massive, thick curtain in front of the Holy of Holies is ripped from top to bottom. It was one of the most precious symbols of the old orthodoxy, separating the unclean from the holiness of God. Jesus shouts, “It is finished,” and the power of the old orthodoxy to separate us from God is gone, ripped in two.
• It is significant that the women have the privilege of being the first witnesses of the empty tomb. The disciples forfeited that privilege because of their cowardice.
• He tells us that even then, as they gazed upon the face of the risen Lord and saw the scars in his hands and feet, some doubted. The persistence of doubt is a consistent theme in all the Gospels.
• In the end Jesus defines himself as the One who is with us. That is his identity, and it gives birth to a new identity in us. We are now the ones who are not alone, who will never—can never—be alone.
• Appendix A The Five Blocks In Matthew’s Gospel, the teachings of Jesus are divided into five major sections. These five sections are probably the collection of sayings (logia) referred to Papias in A.D. 130. The number five is also significant in that it echoes the five books of Moses. 5:1–7:29—the Sermon on the Mount 10:5-42—instructions to the Twelve 13:1-52—parables of the kingdom 18:1-3—instructions to the gatherings 23:1–25:46—Olivet Discourse
• Appendix B Unique to Matthew As we seek to engage with each Gospel, we need to consider what content is unique to each book. Next we must begin to seek to understand why each author included each unique section.
• Appendix C A Synagogue Flogging In order to understand what sort of punishment Matthew’s first listeners were facing, as well as developing an appreciation for the differences between a Roman flogging (which Jesus suffered) and a Jewish flogging, here is a description of a Jewish flogging from the Mishnah.
• Appendix D Josephus and John the Baptist Besides the New Testament, Josephus is the only important source of information on John the Baptist. Here is his statement regarding John in the Antiquities of the Jews (XVIII, v. 2).
• Appendix E Definitions for Forbidden Sabbath Work In order to appreciate the world of Matthew’s first listeners, here is a statement from the Mishnah regarding the classes of work that were forbidden on the Sabbath.
This completes our three-part overview of this fine book.

OTHER RESOURCES ~

1. Watch Michael’s newest video series, A New Identity: The Gospel of Matthew. Bringing to life the pages of the gospel of Matthew, host Michael Card guides us through the city of Capernaum and northern region of Israel, along the shorelines of the Sea of Galilee, and finally to Jerusalem. https://dod.org/dod2360.html

2. Listen to the interview with Michael Card on In the Market with Janet Parshall: http://www.moodyradio.org/brd_ProgramDetail.aspx?id=101682

3. . Listen to Michael’s latest album ~ See review below:MatthewCD

Matthew: The Penultimate Question – Michael Card
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The latest album from Michael Card is the third in his Biblical Imagination Series, being the companion to his new book Matthew: The Gospel of Identity. In this new collection of songs inspired by the Gospel of Matthew, Michael provides an extended musical meditation on the identity of Jesus. Revolving around Jesus’ question to his disciples “Who do you say that I am?”, the songs reflect on the person of Jesus as God’s ultimate response to the penultimate question that has plagued humanity for ages—“Who am I?”
Michael’s lyrics have always been biblical. This time the lyrics are based on themes from the Gospel of Matthew. The music is similar to other Michael Card releases. It is based around the piano and acoustic guitar, and also includes banjo, bouzouki, saxophone and a number of special guests. Steve Green adds his distinctive vocals to “And Dreams”, as dreams play a big part in the early part of this gospel. “His Humanity” includes cello from John Catchings who has played with Michael throughout the years. “A Simple House in Galilee” is written from the perspective of the Magis as they make their trip to worship the newborn king. The opener “This is Who You Are” tackles the identity issue. Phil Keaggy adds acoustic guitar to Michael’s banjo on the instrumental gem “Galilee”, which at first sounds simple but the complexity of it comes with several listens. Michael’s best friend Scott Roley joins him on “The Gift to Believe” and “When Did We See You”. Ashley Cleveland joins Michael on the bluesy “Go Find Out What This Means” along with some nice saxophone work by Kirk Whalen. The closing “Till We’ll All Free” is another bluesy tune that features Whalen’s sax.
Michael will bring the Biblical Imagination Conference on Matthew to Christ Church April 25-26, 2014. The Sunday night concert, which is sure to feature some of these new songs, will be held at East White Oak Bible Church so that we can accommodate more people. Check out Michael’s Biblical Imagination Facebook site and his website at http://www.michaelcard.com

4. Listen to Michael Card teaching on the Gospel of Matthew at Christ Community Church in Franklin, Tennessee. http://christcommunity.org/NewsResources/Audio/MichaelCardStudies.aspx

5. Listen to Michael’s interview with Steve Brown on Steve Brown, Etc.:
http://stevebrownetc.com/2013/07/12/the-gospel-of-identity-michael-card-on-sbe/

6. Or Michael’s interview with Chris Fabry on Chris Fabry Live:
http://www.moodyradio.org/brd_ProgramDetail.aspx?id=114841

7. Check out the Biblical Imagination with Michael Card Facebook site:
https://www.facebook.com/BiblicalImagination

New Michael photo

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