There is no way to “unlock” the Gospel of Matthew. It does not have hidden secrets. It is a text, and it has no underneath, and so no hidden depths. It is all surface. There isn’t some sort of skin that you can peel back and see something more profound underneath. What you see depends on your focus. Because of this, I see myself as a sort of tour guide or park ranger–I can point out to you the path of the river through the mountains or the minutiae of the components of small patch of soil, but anything I point out was already there just waiting to be seen by any one with eyes to see. If you come away with some aha! moments, it won’t be because you had been given a way to see what had been hidden but because you saw what had been before you all the time, but you hadn’t noticed it. We don’t discover hidden mysteries. We’re not gnostics. We just read texts. Sometimes they are amazing, but all the amazing is there for anyone to see. It’s about paying attention, not unlocking anything. Nothing was ever locked in the first place.
– Judy Stack-Nelson
The quote is from what Judy Stack-Nelson shared in a Facebook comment, about something she told students in one of her classes. The same point can obviously be extended beyond the Gospel of Matthew.