Here’s one way of thinking about the Gospel of Matthew.
[But it isn’t going to be elegantly displayed because I don’t know how to put a chart in WordPress (Anyone? Anyone?). So use your imagination.]
Jesus’ Sermon: 5:1-7:28 (the Sermon on the Mount)
Old Testament Parallel: Genesis
Sandwich Story I: Jesus heals the sick (4:23-25)
Sandwich Story II: Jesus cleanses a leper (8:1-4)
Jesus’ Sermon: 10:5-11:1 (sermon on discipleship)
Old Testament Parallel: Exodus
Sandwich Story I: the Twelve commisioned (10:1-4)
Sandwich Story II: John the Baptist (11:2-6)
Jesus’ Sermon: 13:1-53 (parables of the kingdom)
Old Testament Parallel: Leviticus
Sandwich Story I: His true family (12:46-50)
Sandwich Story II: rejected because of his family (13:54-58)
Jesus’ Sermon: 18:1-19:1 (how to treat others)
Old Testament Parallel: Numbers
Sandwich Story I: Jesus challenged (temple tax) (17:24-27)
Sandwich Story II: Jesus challenged (divorce) (19:2-9)
Jesus’ Sermon: 24:3-26:1 (discipleship in the last days)
Old Testament Parallel: Deuteronomy
Sandwich Story I: temple destroyed (23:37-24:2)
Sandwich Story II: conspiracy to kill Jesus (26:2-5)
(1) I didn’t discover this; most commentaries on Matthew will contain something similar to this (although some scholars will mention it and then ultimately disagree with it). I don’t cite one specific source for this because my chart here is an amalgam of the features that I find most compelling from the various sources I am familiar with.
(2) The basic idea is that, as part of his presentation of Jesus as the new Moses, Matthew has Jesus deliver five main sermons as a parallel to the five books of Moses in the Old Testament. Hence, each sermon is parallel to one of those OT books.
(3) ‘Sandwich stories’ is the extremely technical term for a literary structure where one story (the meat) is surrounded by two stories (the bread) and all three stories elucidate each other.
(4) The structure is highlighted by the fact that all five sermons end with almost identical language–something along the lines of “when Jesus finished saying these things.” Further emphasizing the connection to Moses, this language is very similar to Deut. 32:45.
(5) For those of you into that sort of thing: I read somewhere that narrative and discourse never occupy the same geographic space in this gospel.
(6) The main advantage, to my mind, of finding a pattern such as this is not thinking, “Oh, that’s pretty” but rather using it as a guide for further study. Considering the relationship between the various facets of the chart should lead to all sorts of questions to ponder: What do the two sandwich stories teach us about the Sermon on the Mount? What does the Sermon on the Mount teach us about its sandwich stories? In what ways is the Sermon on the Mount parallel to Genesis? What does the ‘bread’ before one sermon have to do with the ‘bread’ after that same sermon? etc.