The Gospel of Matthew was written to tell the story of Jesus from a Jewish perspective. It recounts many of the same incidents as the other gospels, but it also emphasises how Jesus fulfilled many Old Testament prophecies.
Sometimes though it seems something strange has happened in the retelling: where there was just one thing in the other gospels, now there are two. Is this an attempt to fit the literal sense of an Old Testament passage, or is something else going on?
The triumphal entry: Jesus sits on a donkey and a colt?
This took place to fulfill what was spoken through the prophet:
“Say to Daughter Zion,
‘See, your king comes to you,
gentle and riding on a donkey,
and on a colt, the foal of a donkey.’”
The disciples went and did as Jesus had instructed them. They brought the donkey and the colt and placed their cloaks on them for Jesus to sit on.Matthew 21:4-7 (NIV)
The town of Capernaum is in two districts at once?
Leaving Nazareth, he went and lived in Capernaum, which was by the lake in the area of Zebulun and Naphtali— to fulfill what was said through the prophet Isaiah:
“Land of Zebulun and land of Naphtali,Matthew 4:13-16 (NIV)
the Way of the Sea, beyond the Jordan,
Galilee of the Gentiles—
the people living in darkness
have seen a great light;
on those living in the land of the shadow of death
a light has dawned.”
In the other gospels there is just one demon-possessed man (called “Legion”) on the other side of Galilee, but here there are two?
When he arrived at the other side in the region of the Gadarenes, two demon-possessed men coming from the tombs met him. They were so violent that no one could pass that way. “What do you want with us, Son of God?” they shouted. “Have you come here to torture us before the appointed time?”Matthew 8:28-29 (NIV)
In the other gospels there is one blind man who shouts out “have mercy on me, Son of David” – his name is Bartimaeus. But here there are two?
As Jesus went on from there, two blind men followed him, calling out, “Have mercy on us, Son of David!”
When he had gone indoors, the blind men came to him, and he asked them, “Do you believe that I am able to do this?”
“Yes, Lord,” they replied.
Then he touched their eyes and said, “According to your faith let it be done to you”; and their sight was restored. Jesus warned them sternly, “See that no one knows about this.” But they went out and spread the news about him all over that region.Matthew 9:27-31 (NIV)
Or is it four?
As Jesus and his disciples were leaving Jericho, a large crowd followed him. Two blind men were sitting by the roadside, and when they heard that Jesus was going by, they shouted, “Lord, Son of David, have mercy on us!”
The crowd rebuked them and told them to be quiet, but they shouted all the louder, “Lord, Son of David, have mercy on us!”
Jesus stopped and called them. “What do you want me to do for you?” he asked.
“Lord,” they answered, “we want our sight.”
Jesus had compassion on them and touched their eyes. Immediately they received their sight and followed him.Matthew 20:29-34 (NIV)
This all seems a bit surprising. I don’t have any explanation, but I’d love to hear your suggestions.