If you have ever seen a “Red Letter” Bible, you know how easy it becomes to pick out the words of Jesus in the Gospels. You may also know that the Gospel of Matthew has a ton more red font than Mark. Why? Because Mark focuses more on Jesus’ activity while Matthew is focused on his teaching.
If you skim through Matthew in a “Red Letter” Bible, you will find a few long sections of uninterrupted red font. Sayings that Luke spread out across many chapters about Jesus’ life are gathered into lengthy sermons in Matthew. Most people have heard about the first one: the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7). However, 4 other sermons have been formed out of Jesus’ sayings around common themes: Instructions for Disciples in Matthew 10, Kingdom Parables in Matthew 13, Dealing with Sin in the Church in Matthew 18, and the Judgment Sayings of Matthew 23-25.
In total, Matthew created 5 long sermons out of Jesus’ sayings. We know the 5 sermons were created intentionally because they all have the same ending: “when Jesus had finished saying these things” (Matthew 7:28; 11:1; 13:53; 19:1; 26:1). This literary marker gets the attention of the careful reader. It brings up the important hermeneutical question: Why did Matthew organize Jesus’ sayings into 5 sets of instructions?