This central section of Matthew's gospel includes the full array of episodic elements that typify gospel writing: miracle stories, teachings and parables, general statements indicating growing resentment, questions of identity and meaning. Here we see most starkly the gap between us, the readers who know that the resurrection will be the end of the story, and the characters in the story (primarily disciples) who do not yet know that ending. Our call as readers, then, is to question that gap, to explore what it shows us about what Jesus is trying to tell us (and them) about himself, about the resurrection, and about God's kingdom. How do we hear his message, with its implicit (and occasionally explicit) promise of the resurrection, differently from those who do not yet know to what he is referring? Don't the Jonah references, for example, sound rather different to us than to them?
Our reading concludes with what is known as "the confession of Peter" – his assertion that Jesus is the Christ, the Messiah – and Jesus' most explicit reference to the cross. Can we as readers see the cross somewhere in every story of healing, in every parable, in every teaching? Can we see the resurrected Christ in every story of healing, in every parable, in every teaching?
One further suggestion: Jesus calls the attention of his disciples to the places where the seed lands in the Parable of the Sower – what if we focus our attention on the Sower himself instead; how does that change things?