Messiah the Prince

An Outline of Matthew's Gospel

by Laurence Laurenson

Editor of "Loving Words."

Contents

Foreword
Section 1. — Matthew 1, 2.
The Genealogy and Birth of the King
Section 2. — Matthew 3, 4.
The Forerunner Introducing the King and the Kingdom Presented
Section 3. — Matthew 5, 6, 7.
The Laws of the Kingdom
Section 4. — Matthew 8, 9.
The Dignity of the King and the Characteristics of His Mission
Section 5. — Matthew 10, 11, 12.
The King's Messengers, the King's Message, and the King Himself Rejected
Section 6. — Matthew 13.
The Outward and Inward Aspects of the Kingdom in the Absence of the King
Section 7. — Matthew 14, 15.
Man's King and Man's Character Contrasted with God's King
Section 8. — Matthew 16, 17.
A Prophecy of the Church with a Glimpse of Kingdom Glory
Section 9. — Matthew 18 — 23.
The Characteristics of those who enter the Kingdom, the Responsibility of those connected with it, and God's way of bringing Men into it: The King presented, and the Leaders of Israel morally judged
Section 10. — Matthew 24, 25.
The Great Prophetic Outline. The King's Dealings with the Jew, the Church, and the Nations
Section 11. — Matthew 26 — 28.
The King goes into Death and Judgment, in order that His Followers may enter into Life and Glory
Section 12. — Matthew 28. Resurrection, Victory, and Joy
Notes and Outlines

Foreword

The four Gospels present to us an inexhaustible theme in Christ and all that was revealed in Him during the brief years of His earthly sojourn. We may go even further and affirm that each several Gospel is inexhaustible in the fulness and depth of that aspect of the Christ of God which it places before us. Hence the many and various expositions of the Gospels which have seen the light of day and proved of profit to their readers.

In this book a new unfolding of Matthew is placed in the reader's hands. The author does not address himself to the learned, but rather to the ordinary believer who may not have access readily to the larger and more exhaustive expositions already published, and who might not be able very easily to digest their contents if he had ready access to them. To such readers — and they are very numerous to-day — this book will, we trusty prove full of instruction, suggestion, and spiritual help. May it be prospered in its mission to this end. F. B. Hole.

Section 1. Matthew 1, 2.

The Genealogy and Birth of the King

In seeking to grasp the contents of any book it is necessary to be so conversant with its subject matter as to be able to go over it in outline in our own minds.

If this be true of the writings of men, how much more so of the Word of God? This is not the difficult matter it may appear at first sight, and there are several ways it may be arrived at. In studying Matthew's Gospel, for example, if we take one leading thought or incident from each chapter, or section of the book, other related facts will naturally group themselves round these to complete the picture. And it will be found that the various events are so linked together in a divine order that the heart is led on from Matthew 1 to Matthew 28 in ever-increasing enjoyment of all the varied truths presented to us in this Gospel, so full of instruction pertaining to the Kingdom of Heaven.

It is worth noting at the outset, that in the Scriptures themselves we are more often urged to search and meditate thereupon, than merely to read. And the reason is obvious. They have to do with the heart. In twenty-two different ways, in the twenty-two sections of Psalm 119, the Psalmist expresses the attitude of his heart toward the law of God. He "Believes it," "Keeps it," "Rejoices in it," "Declares it," "Loves it," "Hides it in his heart." If the reader will make a complete list, his profiting will be great.

In some such way let us endeavour to approach the study of the Gospel before us.

Beginning, then, with Section 1, Matthew 1 and 2, we get as leading thought, in Matthew 1, The Genealogy of the King; in Matthew 2, The Reception He met with.

We are arrested at the very outset by the differences between the Gospel of Matthew and the other Synoptic Gospels. There is a fulness and a wealth of detail in the introduction in this Gospel which is wholly absent in Mark: while in Luke quite another series of events is placed before us, equally minute in detail, but all given with divine wisdom and in keeping with the end in view.

If we arrange the early incidents in the first three Gospels in parallel columns we shall see these differences at a glance: —

Matthew Mark Luke
1 * * Visit of Angel to Zacharias.
2 * * Visit of Angel to Mary.
3 Visit of Angel to Joseph. * *
4 * * Birth of John.
5 Birth of Jesus. * Birth of Jesus.
6 * * Angel's Visit to Shepherds.
7 * * Shepherds' Visit to Bethlehem.
8 Appearing of the Star. * Presentation in the Temple.
9 * * Departure to Nazareth.
10 Visit of the Wise Men. * Annual Visit of Joseph and Mary to Jerusalem.
11 Presentation of Gifts. * (Abiding at Bethlehem.)
12 Joseph warned by the Angel. * *
13 Flight into Egypt. * *
14 Return to Galilee. * Dwelling in Galilee.
15 * * Visit to Jerusalem when Jesus was twelve years of age.
16 Preaching of John. Preaching of John. Preaching of John.

Two things mark the language of Inspiration, what it includes, and what it excludes. Surely it necessarily excludes every shadow of error. Nothing but what is absolutely true could find a place if the Spirit of God inspire the record, and, in spite of all that men may say to the contrary, nowhere is this more clearly seen than in the Four Gospels, where, amid all the differences, there are no contradictions. Then, as to the former, the facts given in any Scripture will be in relation to the subject of the writer. Thus Luke writes of the Lord Jesus specially as the "Son of Man," and so gives, as will be seen above, in large detail, everything needed to be known of His parentage, human birth, and childhood — perfect from every standpoint.

Mark, writing of Him as the devoted "Servant of God" and of men, omits everything of this, and introduces, at the very outset, His Messenger, John the Baptist, preparing His way before Him. Then He Himself is at once seen entering upon His public ministry.

But in our Gospel, He is presented as "The King," and thus everything narrated is in connection with His kingly character.

Turning forward again for a moment, we see Him in John's Gospel as the "Son of God." Luke tells us that He became the "Son of Man," and Mark says that He took the lowly place of the "Servant" of all. But Matthew declares that, nevertheless, He was "God's Anointed King," who will yet sit upon the throne of His father, David, and sway a mightier sceptre than either David or his princely son, Solomon, ever dreamed of.

Ezekiel presents this wonderful "fourfold" in striking and symbolic imagery in Chapters 1 and 10, and again we see it reproduced in the vision of the Seer of Patmos (Rev. 4), where the order of the manifested characteristics is that of the Four Gospels.

Matthew represents Him as the "Lion" of the tribe of Judah.

Mark sets forth the patient service symbolised by the "Calf" or "Ox."

Luke describes the perfect "Man" — yea, the Pattern Man, able to sympathise, to succour, and to save.

John tells of Him as the Heavenly Stranger upon the earth — the "flying Eagle" being an apt picture, for He was "Come from God and went to God" (John 13:3). "He was with God, and was God" (John 1:1).

But a king must be able to trace his descent in the royal line, and this is placed before us at the very outset. He is the Son of "David the King," and thus the Heir to David's throne. He is the "Son of Abraham," and thus Heir to, as well as Fulfiller of, all the Promises. Matthew carries down the line of kingly succession from Solomon. Luke traces that of Nathan to Mary, and, however widely they may have diverged during the thousand years that lay between, both meet again and are completed in "JESUS who is called CHRIST."

There are many genealogies in the Old Testament, but only one in the New. The genealogies of the Old Testament lead to Him in whom everything centres, and from whom everything begins, for He is the Head of the new creation, the First-born from among the dead.

But we find Him here born into this world, a Man among men; nevertheless, He was Emmanuel. The sign promised 700 years before by the prophet (Isa. 7:14) was fulfilled, and the character of the One so born declared. He was "God with us," and God come down in grace. And we naturally ask, What reception did He meet with? and what were the condition of things in Israel's land when He thus presented Himself?

Over 500 years had passed away since Ezra, by the decree of Cyrus the Persian, had led a little remnant of the people back from Babylon to rebuild the shattered fortunes of the nation, after the terrible overthrow by Nebuchadnezzar, which began about 606 B.C. It was but a small proportion of the many thousands who had been carried away, but their hearts were towards the land of Israel, and the Lord had blessed and multiplied them greatly. The intervening years had been times of varying fortunes for the little hierarchical state. The Persian monarchy, which had been the means of their restoration, had been overthrown by Alexander the Great in 330 B.C., and Palestine then came under the power of Greece. Daniel had described, in few words, the character of the "mighty king" and the break up of his kingdom, "divided towards the four winds of heaven" (Dan. 11:3). This was an event of much political importance to Judea, for it found itself — as it will be in a later day — the bone of contention between the king of the South, Egypt, and the king of the North, Syria. The first hundred years of this period the land was under the power of Egypt, and though ill-governed at the best, it had not reached the depth of suffering measured out to it during the Syrian oppression. The terrible cruelty and madness of Antiochus Epiphanes (175-164 B.C.) has seldom been equalled in the world's history. The ruling passion of his wicked life was hatred to the Jew and the religion of Jehovah. On one occasion he captured the city of Jerusalem, slaughtered 40,000 of the inhabitants, sacrificed a sow upon the brazen altar, and erected a statue to Jupiter in the Temple courts. This brought matters to an issue. Under Judas Maccabeus and his brethren the War of Independence began, which resulted in Judea once more becoming a free state in 161 B.C.

Rescued thus from Syrian oppression, it was wisely ruled by the Maccabean family for over one hundred years, but it then fell under the power of the Romans, about 60 B.C.

Herod, an Idumean, first appointed by the Romans as tetrarch, became king in 31 B.C., and aimed at creating an independent monarchy in his own family.

The sceptre had departed from Judah.

Such was the political condition of the Lord's land when the Messiah was born. A usurper, supported by Gentile power, was reigning in the land, and the people loved to have it so. There is a wonderful analogy between this and what prophetic Scriptures reveal as to His Second Coming. Then the Antichrist will be on the throne, and he and his supporters will think to treat the King come in power as before had been treated the King come in grace, only to find that He will "break them with a rod of iron," and "dash them in pieces like a potter's vessel" (Ps. 2:9).

But when Jesus was born in Bethlehem, and when the tidings reached the guilty tyrant who sat upon the Jewish throne, he "was troubled and all Jerusalem with him." The men of the city had already made their choice. They were on the side of Herod — not on the Lord's side.

The Scribes, intelligent in the Scriptures, as far as the letter went, knew, or should have known, many things about the Coming King. The prophets had clearly pointed out: —

1 When He would come (Gen. 49:10).

2 How He would come (Isa. 7:14).

3 Where He would be born (Micah 5:2).

But they had no heart for Him, and as to the mass of the nation, there was neither love nor loyalty to God's King. Yet we learn from Luke's Gospel (Luke 2:38) that there were still the hidden ones, even in Jerusalem, who looked for redemption in Israel; as there will be in the day of His power, to whom He will appear as "the Sun of Righteousness, with healing in His wings" (Mal. 4:2).

But if there was no heart for Him in Jerusalem, and no room for Him in Bethlehem, a testimony was to be raised up from among the Gentiles; and "wise men" — wise, surely, in every sense of the word — divinely led, seek Him, recognise His divinity, worship Him, and present to Him their threefold gift, "gold, frankincense, and myrrh."

When the Queen of Sheba visited Solomon she brought "gold and spices." In a coming day, when the kings of the Gentiles come to worship the glory of the Lord in Jerusalem, they will bring "gold and incense" (Isa. 60).

In neither the historic nor the prophetic Scripture is there any mention of that which is here connected with these two things, namely, "myrrh." Why is this? Is there not a threefold meaning in their gifts? In the Babe of Bethlehem they saw the One who was "born King of the Jews," and to Him, as such, they presented the royal offering of gold. But there was the recognition in the frankincense that He was more than man — that He was the promised Saviour; and the myrrh spoke of that of which the wise men could have but dim vision, and that was, that before He sat upon the throne of His glory He "must suffer many things . . . and be killed and raised again the third day" (Matt. 16:21).

And even while but a child, to escape the wrath of the false king, the true King has to flee unto Egypt, and be there till the death of Herod, that the prophecy might be fulfilled, "Out of Egypt have I called my Son" (Hosea 11:1). Thus the Lord began where His people began, but how different their pathway from His?

When the call came to Joseph to return, he is instructed to go into the "land of Israel." Twice in Chapter 2 we have this title; and yet at the moment the land was only a despised province of the Roman Empire. But few of the men of Israel dwelt in it. The Gentiles ruled it. A mixed race from the East dwelt in one of its chiefest cities, Samaria; and Galilee, its largest province, was densely peopled with a purely heathen population, a few poor Jews residing amongst them.

Yet in spite of appearances God recognises the land by its true title. It is God's land for His people, and He will yet vindicate their rights and make them good.

But when they returned they found another usurper filling the throne, and Joseph, with the holy Child Jesus, turned aside to dwell at Nazareth. At the very beginning of His pathway He had been the rejected One; now He becomes the despised One. Even the upright Nathanael shared the popular prejudice — if it was only prejudice — that Nazareth of Galilee could produce no good thing. It was the most despised town of the most despised province of a despised land.

Thus at the very outset of His pathway of lowly grace the Lord knew what it was to be "despised and rejected of men, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief" (Isa. 53:3),

Section 2. Matthew 3, 4.

The Forerunner Introducing the King; and the Kingdom Presented

The second section of our Gospel begins with the Message of the Baptist. A convenient synopsis, round which other thoughts can be gathered, will be: —

1 The warning of John.

2 The work of Christ.

3 The witness of the Father.

A full generation has passed away since the close of Matthew 2. King Archelaus, after a wicked reign of ten or eleven years, had been banished by the Romans. Judea had ceased to retain even the semblance of a monarchy, and is now under Roman procurators, of whom Pilate is the fifth, in a descending scale of wickedness.

Doubtless the Visit of the Wise Men, the Slaughter of the Innocents, the Glory Song, and the Virgin Birth had been long forgotten. The glint of the glory had died from the plains of Bethlehem: the angels had long since gone away again into heaven, and so far there seemed little promise of that "peace on earth" of which they had so sweetly spoken.

But Heaven again breaks the silence. "In those days came John the Baptist preaching in the wilderness of Judea, and saying, 'Repent ye, for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand.'"

Apart from the imperial glory of the world, as seen at Rome, apart from the religious system of men, as seen at Jerusalem — John was found in the wilderness; that arid tract of desert land on the west of the Dead Sea, extending northwards to the Jordan. His food and his raiment marked him out as one apart from common men.

Luke has given us his previous history.

John has given us his testimony to the Messiah. Matthew here gives us his message.

The warning words of John reach even the lifeless professors at Jerusalem. Pharisees, and even Sadducees, come to his baptism.

The message he brought was the nearness of the long-expected. Kingdom, and the importance of a moral preparation for entrance thereinto.

Every instructed Jew knew what the prophet Daniel had said as to the Kingdom to be set up by the God of Heaven, but they had little knowledge of the condition of heart which entrance into that Kingdom demanded. Even Nicodemus (John 3) failed to see more in it than a mere paradise regained for man, as man, upon the earth. The new birth, the essential qualification for even the Jew to enter into and enjoy the promises of God for His earthly people (Ezek. 36:26) had evidently been totally lost sight of, since even one of their best-instructed rulers was ignorant of it. And so the Lord has to say to him, "Art thou a Master of Israel and knowest not these things?" (John 3:10). Hence the importance of John's warning word, "Repent" — a total change of heart and mind was imperative if men would enter the Kingdom of Heaven.

We shall find this term — Kingdom of Heaven — about thirty-three times in this Gospel, and nowhere else in the New Testament. Five times we get "Kingdom of God" (Matt. 6:33; Matt. 12:28; Matt. 19:24; Matt. 21:31, 43), where "Kingdom of Heaven" would not convey the intended meaning. Other Scriptures speak of "the Kingdom of the Father" (Matt. 13:43); "the Kingdom of the Son of Man" (Dan. 7); "the Kingdom of the Son of His love" (Col. 1:13); "the Everlasting Kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ" (2 Peter 1:11).

All, of course, refer to the rule of God; but why these varied designations? As we have already noticed, Matthew alone uses the term, "Kingdom of Heaven." Under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, he was writing as a Jew to Jews. Any hope of an earthly kingdom was fast passing, if it had not already passed, away. The little gleam of royalty, manifested for a moment, under the king of nonnative stock — Herod — had faded, and a deeper bondage still, all thinking men saw before them.

Under these conditions, the coming Kingdom is announced as the Kingdom of Heaven, for the kingdom on earth is in hopeless ruin. And it is striking to notice that in no other book of the Bible do we read so often about Heaven as in Matthew. We are forcibly reminded that, in spite of the failure of His people and the enmity of His foes, yet the God of Heaven has taken up the question of the earth, and that He will, even here, work out, in His own time and way, His gracious purposes of blessing for His redeemed people, and glory for His beloved Son.

The Rule of God, then, under this title, was familiar to the Jew. It was spoken of in the Law. Had that law been obeyed from the heart, the promise was that their days would be multiplied and be "as the days of Heaven upon the Earth" (Deut. 11:21). The Psalms bore witness to it. The Seed of David would endure for ever, and "his throne as the days of Heaven" (Ps. 79:29). The prophets, in more definite language still, describe Him, who became the Son of Man, receiving that Kingdom and glory which should never pass away (Dan. 2:7).

This Kingdom John announced as being "at hand." The King was here; but, the King being rejected, it assumed the "mystery" form (Chap. 13:11) which it still bears in the absence of the King.

By comparing Matthew 11:11 with Matthew 16:19, we learn that the Kingdom of Heaven had not then commenced, and, indeed, it did not do so until the Lord had taken His seat on high. Then Peter, having received "the keys" (Chap. 16:19), unlocked the door to both Jew and Gentile, and although the favoured nation refused their King, and with Him, the "days of Heaven upon the earth," yet it is now given to the believer to know, in a deeper and fuller way than Israel ever will, the Rejected One; and every day may, to the Christian, be as the days of Heaven upon the earth. May our hearts enter into it more and more, and be more engaged with Himself, while we wait for His Coming.

"The Kingdom of God" occurs five times in our Gospel. It clearly expresses a different idea from the above. It has been described as "the exhibition of the ruling power of God under any circumstances." It was thus manifested when the Lord was here. So He could say (Luke 17:21), when unbelievingly asked by the Pharisees when the Kingdom of God was coming, "the Kingdom of God is in the midst of you." It was there represented in His Own Person.

At the day of Pentecost, and afterwards, those born from above, and indwelt by the Holy Spirit's power, exemplified in themselves the same blessed character of that heavenly rule, as seen by its fruits of "righteousness and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost" (Rom. 14:17). This is the divine aspect.

But this term is also applied to the human side, or the Kingdom as seen in the hands of men, as Luke 13:19-21 shows: "It is like a grain of mustard seed, which a man took, and cast into his garden; and it grew, and waxed a great tree; and the fowls of the air lodged in the branches of it;" and again he said, "Whereunto shall I liken the Kingdom of God? It is like leaven, which a woman took and hid in three measures of meal, till the whole was leavened." Here we get its external appearance and internal condition: an overgrown abortion, sheltering much that is evil. An adulterated mass permeating much that is good. Such is Christendom to-day. Evil men allowed, and evil doctrines accepted, have produced the condition so vividly pictured in the above Scripture.

The Kingdom of the Father and the Kingdom of the Son of Man will be a development of the Kingdom of Heaven, and will be seen when the present mystery form is at an end.

The Kingdom of the Son of Man will be the rule of God, seen in the hands of His Son, in the coming day, when the Kingdom is set up in power in the earth. Then the redeemed people will say, "Jehovah our Lord, how excellent is Thy name in all the earth" (Ps. 8:1). He will assume the Lordship lost by Adam, and it will be exercised by Him in righteousness, both in blessing to the godly and in judgment upon the transgressors. The Father's Kingdom, on the other hand, applies to the heavenly side. It refers to things above, as the other refers to things below. The Kingdom of the Son of His love is our present place in grace: that circle of which Christ is the centre, as He is the centre of the Father's affections, and the One around whom the Father delights to gather the objects of His love — even us who were once in the Kingdom and under the power of darkness.

If the last is our present place in grace, the Everlasting Kingdom is our future place in glory. The Apostle there (2 Peter 1:11) is giving instruction as to the future glory of the Kingdom manifested before the eyes of men. They — the Apostles — had seen His glory in the holy mount. Peter prays that believers may have an abundant entrance into the Kingdom in which that glory will be displayed.

So the Kingdom was announced as being "at hand," but there was something else. The "axe" was at the root of the tree of Jewish profession. Very soon the Master of the vineyard would have to say, "These three years I come seeking fruit on this fig tree, and find none: cut it down; why cumbereth it the ground?" (Luke 13:7). Barren for many a long year, the final test was now presented. Messiah rejected would mean the nation cut off. Nevertheless, there was blessing for all who truly repented, for He baptized with the Holy Ghost — grace and salvation: as well as with fire — judgment and condemnation.

It is of the utmost importance to be clear as to the meaning of these two statements. They define, what we might call, the two extremes of the Lord's ministry, and everything connected with the present day of grace lies between. The presence of the Holy Spirit is that which marks the present age. He is with and in the believer. He has been pleased to take up His dwelling, and make our bodies His temple (1 Cor. 6:19), and the sanctifying influence of His presence should be seen in our daily lives (Gal. 5:25). He dwells in the Church; and His presence here is also a proof of the world's guilt, for He is here because Christ is absent (John 16:10), and Christ is absent because men slew and hanged Him on a tree (Acts 10:39).

But the "Age of the Spirit" will pass: the day of grace will come to a close, and when the Lord comes the second time, His dealings with the wicked and the oppressor will be with "fire" — the stern and unsparing, righteous judgment of God. So it will be then. "They shall gather out of his Kingdom all things that offend and them which do iniquity, and shall cast them into a furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth" (Matt. 13:41-42). It is the certain result of rejecting the Gospel, and it would be well if every Gospel preacher had this solemn truth deep in his heart as he proclaims the grace of God. For in proportion as grace is known, so surely will judgment be executed, if the offered grace be rejected. There can be nothing else. The threshing floor is purged, the wheat and the chaff each assigned to its proper place.

But, further, there is the Witness of the Father, and this is very beautiful. The Lord enters upon His public ministry, and His first action is to come from Galilee to Jordan, to be baptized of John. No wonder John "urgently forbade" Him. Just a short time before (John 1:27) John had declared himself unworthy to do the meanest office for that Wonderful Person whom he was announcing, and lo! here was that same Person taking His place among those who had gone down figuratively into the waters of death, confessing their sins. The Spirit's first work in the heart of the sinner is Repentance — self-judgment and confession of what we are. This brought the remnant to John's baptism, and thereby separated them from the guilty mass of the nation. It was no question of confessing sin that brought Him there. God forbid. Something else He instructs us in. "Thus it becometh us to fulfil all righteousness." Righteousness brought Him, where sin brought the people. He, the only righteous One upon the earth, associates with Himself those who sought after a moral preparedness for Messiah's Kingdom. "And, lo! the heavens were opened unto him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and lighting upon him: and, lo! a voice from heaven saying, 'This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.'"

Beautiful testimony from Heaven of the only One upon the earth who was the Object of Heaven's delight. In Genesis 6 God looked down and dealt in judgment. Here God was come down in grace. In a coming day He would lay down His life for the sheep.

But now, after the Anointing and Sealing of the Holy Spirit, the first step on His pathway to the Cross was to meet and overcome the one whose great object was to turn Him aside from that pathway.

Scripture is silent as to what took place during the "forty days" — period of perfect testing. It was clearly something that we could not enter into; therefore it is not revealed. But the three forms of temptation at the close of that period, and the way in which our Lord overcame the tempter, are written for our instruction. For we, too, are called upon to "overcome" even as He overcame (Rev. 21), and the promise to the overcomer is that he will sit with the Faithful and True Witness upon His throne. The two weapons the Lord used — the Shield of Faith and the Sword of the Spirit — we may use also. Indeed, we are instructed to lay hold of them in order that we may "quench all the fiery darts of the wicked" (Eph. 6:16).

The first temptation is a question of circumstances. Can we trust God for daily need?

In Matthew 6 the disciples are led on to realise that they can rest in a Father's love and knowledge of their daily needs. Here the Lord exemplifies this principle of simple dependence. He would wait on His Father's guidance, and — using the "Sword of the Spirit" — He chose the right word to meet the enemy. "It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God" (Deut. 8:3).

If the first temptation was a testing of self, the second would lead to a testing of God. Cast Thyself down and see if God will be true to His word or not. This was to instil doubt into the mind, instead of unwavering trust in God. Just what Satan succeeded in doing in Eden. The whole point of the argument in Romans 8 is that God is for us. To test or question it would be to show our own faithlessness. Israel did so in the wilderness, and said, "Is the Lord among us or not?" (Ex. 17:7).

But the Lord again replies in the very words of Scripture, and uses a plain word to confute what Satan had misquoted and misapplied.

In the third temptation it was a question whether the things of this world are to be received from Satan or from God. Doubtless Satan had some dim knowledge that the kingdoms of this world and the glory of them would not always be his to give; that, as the first man had lost them by yielding to temptation, so the second Man might be tempted to acquire them by the same easy path. But in this case the kingdoms of the world are presented to the eye of One who has had the testimony of the Kingdom of Heaven, has seen the opened Heaven, and, as a Man upon the earth, listened to the Father's voice of approval and delight.

In proportion as the same heavenly vision fills our souls, so will the things of the world lose their attraction for us also, for our hearts will be where our treasure is, with Christ at God's right hand.

We have next to consider what the Lord met the tempter with. David of old could say, "By the word of thy lips I have kept me from the paths of the destroyer" (Ps. 17:4), and here the Lord shows how that same word can be used to foil every device of the enemy. David had five smooth stones in his scrip. Only one was needed to slay the giant — type of him who was here in the presence of David's greater Son. The Lord might have drawn His arguments from the five books of Moses. He uses only one — Deuteronomy — and from it selects the weapon that both exposes and defeats the foe. "Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve" (Deut. 6:13; 10:20). And here let us also notice that which is of the utmost importance. The Lord quotes the very Scripture that met the case in hand. So there is guidance and instruction in Scripture for the believer, for every circumstance, or difficulty, that may arise in his pathway, but he must know where to find it. We must make it our business to be so well acquainted with the Holy Word of God as to be able to bring out at the moment the needed truth for the time of need.

"Then the devil leaveth him." Satan was defeated. Thank God, he is a defeated foe. He may roar, but he cannot rend; he may deceive, but he cannot destroy.

In closing this section let us notice seven beautiful things, manifesting the grace and power and glory of our blessed Lord: —

1 The voice of the Father points Him out as the Object of Heaven's delight.

2 The descending Spirit abides upon Him as the Son of God, whom "God giveth not the Spirit by measure unto."

3 Angels delight to minister unto Him, as once before they had heralded His birth.

4 Satan flees defeated from the presence of a Man in the wilderness. Four thousand years before he had triumphed, with the same temptations, over a man in a garden.

5 The Lord becomes the light to them that sit in darkness — Galilee of the Gentiles — that part of the outskirts of the nation which was most despised by the religious leaders. There, the Lord, rejected at Jerusalem, goes in grace and gathers to Himself a people who owned His claims and obeyed His Word.

6 He begins His wonderful mission, and its divine character is marked at the very outset by His victory over disease, death, and the devil. It is the powers of the world to come in the hands of the King. Lunacy destroyed the mind; palsy destroyed the body; demon-possession destroyed both; but Jesus healed them all.

7 Then He is seen attracting to Himself the hearts of men. Nets, boats, relations, and calling — all are left to follow the Lord Jesus. The most powerful attraction set before the soul is not "I ought," or "I must"; but the fact that One has gone through this world before us: attracted our hearts out of it to Himself, where He now is on the throne: given us His place before the Father (John 17:14), and now He expects us to fill His place before the world.

We are not of the world. Let us show it more and more in Christ-likeness day by day.
"His Cross behind: His Home before.
Himself to-day, and evermore."

Section 3. Matthew 5, 6, 7.

The Laws of the Kingdom

*****

An Outline of the Interpretation and Application of Matthew 5:1-12

Text.

Verse 3.

"Blessed are the poor in spirit for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven."

Poor = humble. Derivation from beggarly — in the sense of having nothing.

The Believer has nothing in this world.

Parallels.
Isa. 57:15. "The High and holy One . . . I dwell in the high and holy place, with him also that is of a poor and contrite spirit."

Isa. 66. "To this man will I look . . . that is of a poor and contrite spirit."

Promises.

"Theirs is the Kingdom."

Inheritance WHEN the wicked — the proud have been cut off.

Mal. 3:15. "NOW we call the proud happy."

Mal. 4:2. "BUT unto you that fear My name the Sun of Righteousness shall arise with healing in His wings."

Warnings.
Mal. 4:1. "BUT the day cometh that shall burn as an oven, and all the PROUD . . . shall be as stubble."

Isa. 2 "The DAY of the Lord of Hosts shall be upon every one that is PROUD."

The Great Example — Christ.

2 Cor. 8:9. "HE who was RICH, for your sakes became POOR, that ye through His poverty might be RICH."

Phil. 2. "He made Himself of no reputation, and took upon Him the form of a SERVANT."

*****

In Matthew 4 we saw the King triumphing over all the powers of Satan. The devil is defeated, and his works — disease and death — flee before the Divine Healer.

The fame of the Lord Jesus being thus spread abroad, He now (Chaps. 5-7) announces the Laws of His Kingdom and begins to unfold the great moral principles upon which it is founded.

We have to keep in mind that the Kingdom of Heaven is not Heaven, nor, properly speaking, in Heaven. It is the rule of Heaven on this earth (Deut. 2:44; Deut. 7:13-14). As we have seen, both John and the Lord Jesus announced that happy time as at hand, but, alas! the nation of Israel rejected both the King and the Kingdom. Hence the Kingdom in power was deferred, and we have now the Kingdom in mystery. We shall find the teaching as to this fully developed in Matthew 13.

But here, at the very outset, the Lord begins by describing the characteristics of those who belong to the Kingdom. It is the exact opposite of what men upon the earth manifest. Indeed, it is the opposite of what they either look for or expect. To be meek, merciful, or pure in heart necessitates a regenerating work of the Holy Spirit, and this is assumed to have already taken place in His hearers, for He is teaching disciples. The pronouns "they" and "ye" in Matthew 5:1-12 may indicate the time to which the promises apply. Taking the list of "Blesseds" in their order, the promises in verses 1-10 will be literally fulfilled to those who find their lot in the latter day when "transgressors are come to the full" (Dan. 8).

In that day the men of pride will be exalted, and the poor in spirit — the godly remnant of the nation, who wait for Jehovah — will be counted as the offscourings of all things. But the Lord will hearken and hear, and in His Book of Remembrance their names shall be written, and they shall be His when He makes up His jewels. Then, "the proud, yea, and all that do wickedly, shall be as stubble. . . . But unto you that fear my name shall the Sun of Righteousness arise with healing in his wings" (Mal. 4). And the meek — they shall inherit the land (of Israel) when the wicked have been destroyed out of it. The Reign of Righteousness will satisfy those that hunger and thirst after righteousness; and the pure in heart — they shall see God. The rewards and promises in this section are connected with the coming Kingdom, but, of course, while this is true historically, nevertheless, in its application, every believer, in every dispensation, should manifest every trait of the beautiful life of blessing outlined by the Lord, and by so doing, prove to all that they are indeed the children of the Kingdom.

In verses 11-12 we read, "Blessed are ye and great is your reward in Heaven." Here the Lord addresses His disciples there present. This would be true of them, and of every true disciple through all time. Later on, in His teaching, He gives them the principles that would mark them out as heavenly men upon the earth, and also make manifest the secret of the world's hatred. "If ye were of the world, the world would love its own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you." . . . "If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you; if they have kept my saying, they will keep yours also. But all these things will they do unto you for my name's sake, because they know not him that sent me" (John 15:19-21). So we have the double result of being true to Christ in the day of His rejection, and that is, persecution here and great reward in Heaven. It is the heavenly side of the Kingdom.

But it is well to note that He who spoke these words was the only One who ever became the perfect Examplar, in all things, and has left us His example that we should follow in His steps. This will be better seen if we arrange any one of the "Blesseds" in tabular form, as on page 25. It is a most helpful and profitable study. Every longing after the rule of God in righteousness will be found fully expressed in both Prophets and Psalms. It was that to which the godly of that dispensation looked forward, just as the coming of Christ is the hope of the Church to-day. Coupled with the promises there are also, as ever, the warnings of Jehovah against those who oppose His power and despise His grace.

But believers are also the "salt of the earth" and the "light of the world." There is a twofold meaning in this. Salt is used in Scripture as a figure of God's rights, or the righteous principles of God's dealings with the earth. It is this we see expressed in the judgment on Lot's wife and the Vale of Sodom which became the valley of salt. Disciples "salt" the earth by maintaining these righteous principles and standing for the rights of God in a world that refuses to recognise either God or His rights.

The other figure used is "light." They were "the light of the world." As the first conveys the thought of righteousness, the second speaks of grace. Light shines for others and before others. It may be a guiding light or a warning light, but it is there for the good of others, and so should believers be in this world.

But coupled with the figure there is also the warning. The salt may lose its savour, and the light may get hidden. In both cases they become useless for the purpose for which they were intended. It was a warning to those whom He addressed, and to disciples of every age, and we do well to remember that we can only be "kept by the power of God unto salvation."

Then we come to something that probes the inner man. The Lord brings the light of Heaven to bear upon the motives of the heart, for "as a man thinketh in his heart, so is he" (Prov. 23:7). Violence and corruption marked the ways of man from the fall (Gen. 6); but every trace of either in the child of the Kingdom must be dealt with in unsparing self-judgment.

Under the old economy we find that the law laid down the principle, in righteousness, "An eye for an eye" (Ex. 21:24), thereby restraining the wrath of man. Otherwise he would have demanded two eyes for one, in vengeance. But here an entirely new principle is introduced. "I say unto you that ye resist not evil." It is the very opposite of nature, which loves to avenge itself. It is different from righteousness, which measures out even-handed justice. It is the beautiful spirit of grace, manifested in all perfection in Him who "when he was reviled, reviled not again; when he suffered, he threatened not." Even so the disciple should be more than righteous: he should be gracious, and while walking through this world, it is better to lose his "cloke" than give up those lovely principles of grace that mark him out as one who belongs to Christ.

But again the Lord introduces something higher still — indeed the highest standard possible. The standard for the new dispensation is nothing short of that of the character of the Father Himself. His ways are to be our ways.

To review our chapter shortly: It begins by showing what kind of people enter the Kingdom.

What the actions and character should be of those who take part with a rejected Saviour now.

Then the law is brought to bear upon the motives of men, showing that corruption and violence are the two principles of evil that govern the natural heart.

That salvation from the consequences of sin must be had at all costs. If eye, hand, or foot hinder, it must be "cut off."

That the righteousness needed must be more (i.e., of a different kind) than that of the Scribes and Pharisees; and that when this salvation is known, it so moulds the heart that the believer is passive under all kinds of reproach and injustice.

That tribulation and injustice only open the way for the activities of love seen in returning good for evil — the marks of the new dispensation, and of the children of the Kingdom.

Matthew 6 opens with the great principles of almsgiving, prayer, and fasting — right relationships with our fellow-men, with God, and with self. These are the righteousnesses of saints — the positive outcome of a life which has all the springs of its moral being in God Himself.

God is revealed to us as the giving God. He gave His Son (John 3:16). Christ gave Himself (Eph. 5:25). God loveth a cheerful giver (2 Cor. 9:7). We do well to remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how He said, "It is more blessed to give than to receive" (Acts 20:35); and believers are instructed to "labour that they may have to give to him that needeth" (Eph. 4:28). The importance of this cannot be over-estimated. We are in a world of need, both material and spiritual, and the heart that knows the grace of Christ will be a heart that has learned the secret and the joy of giving. "The liberal deviseth liberal things; and by liberal things shall he stand" (Isa. 32:8). There is ever the danger that through unfaithfulness in "that which is another man's" (Luke 16) we may lose "that which is our own." In other words, we lose the enjoyment of those heavenly blessings which are properly ours in proportion as we are unfaithful stewards of the bounty God has entrusted us with here.

Next we come to "the prayer that teaches to pray" — when and how it was to be used. Unlike the vain repetitions of the heathen, or the ostentatious display of the hypocrite at the street corner, the disciple is to seek the secret place and deal with his Father there.

Doubtless the form of words here given was intended to guide disciples before the Holy Spirit was given, but every word of the Lord was necessarily perfect; and these various petitions express the need of disciples in a way that only the Lord Himself could teach. No doubt fuller development was given when further truth was made known, and the time was coming when, instructed by the Holy Spirit, they would ask "in the name of Jesus" and receive that their joy might be full (John 14:13).

This knowledge of their new standing in Him they could not have before the cross, and therefore could not pray "in His name." But in the meantime they were brought into all the conscious and enjoyed knowledge of relationship with a Father who loved, cared for, and watched over them day by day.

After the acknowledgment of the relationship into which they were brought, and which is expressed in the words, "Our Father," there are six petitions setting forth in order: —
Reverence. Rule. Obedience.
Dependence. Restoration. Preservation.

It will be noticed that the first three are Godward, and the second three are manward. Also that the last three deal with the present, the past, and the future.

No greater compass of truth could possibly be brought within the bounds of so few words. Then our Lord goes back to the fifth petition to enforce the principle of Christian forgiveness. We shall meet with an even fuller development of it later, but here it is laid down as the basis on which God deals with His children in government. We may be smitten (verse 39), wronged (verse 40), sinned against (verse 41), despised (verse 44), hated or persecuted (verse 44). How are we to meet it? By asserting our rights and demanding apology and reparation? The world would do so, and it would be considered right in the eyes of the world. But, "No," says the Lord, "forgive men their trespasses." And more, it is not that the Christian walks through this world a merely passive or impassive sufferer. The very suffering he may be brought into only brings out the spirit of Christ, who was Himself, the perfect exponent in His own history of His divine teaching, and who is our perfect Example. So the Apostle could say, "Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves" — the first thing nature thinks of. But here is the divine way, "If thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink: for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire upon his head." "Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good."

Fasting involves the setting aside of self. And not only self looked upon as connected with the evil within; but it is the setting aside of the claims of nature itself in order to have to do with God. It is a recognition that there are spiritual things on hand of deeper importance than even rightful claims of the body. And then there is a wider sense in which the believer goes through this world abstaining from everything in it. He is "anointed" and "washed." His heart is right and his life is right. He does not appear "of a sad countenance," for the joy of Heaven fills his heart while upon the earth, and the Father who seeth in secret rewards him.

The more we value the things of earth, the more care and anxiety we create for ourselves in acquiring and retaining them. And if these things become our "treasure" — that on which the heart is set — alas! for us, for our hearts will be earthward instead of heavenward. We may procure locks and bars sufficient to defy the modern burglar, but the thief, Time, will ultimately steal ALL. He will steal them from us, and us from them.

If, on the other hand, Christ in glory has become the hope and object of the heart, then both the treasure and the heart will be above, and we shall be known as heavenly men upon the earth. By and by we shall reach our native land, enter the eternal home, and dwell in the Father's House, to go no more out. Even here we have a foretaste of it all — forgiveness, sonship, and everlasting life. Thus, in whatever circumstances we may be, our hearts can be in perfect rest. God has chosen us out of the world. He is carrying us through the world, and His object is to conform us to the image of His Son. Meantime we rest in the sense of His knowledge and of His love, that knows and provides for our every need.

If Matthew 6 gives us, principally, right relationships with God our Father, Matthew 7 begins with what should be the relationships of believers among themselves. Having been brought into the Kingdom and into relationship with the Father, we are to manifest righteousness by consistency of walk (verses 1-6). We must judge ourselves, but we may not judge each other. The judgment of others here spoken of, is that censorious criticism which "sets at nought" our brother (Rom. 14:10), and is really closely allied to evil speaking. We have an outstanding instance in the Old Testament how God regards it, in the case of Aaron and Miriam who "spake against Moses." And Jehovah rebuked them in words pregnant with meaning" Were ye not afraid to speak against my servant" The very fact that any one slips into this only shows that they "have a beam" in their own eye.

Confidence in the Father is next seen — expressed in genuine asking, earnest seeking, and urgent knocking. This is coupled with the certain answer of grace, and illustrated by the response of even the natural man to the requests of his children.

When the subject of supplication is introduced there is an increasing urgency in the instructions, marking out the one who is in earnest, and there is a need-be for it; for there is no aspect of the spiritual life which Satan is more opposed to than the hidden life of prayer. We have all the power of Satan out to hinder and prevent our dependence upon and communion with God, and we do well to remember it. The Lord recognises it. Do we? It would seem as if promise (John 15:7), and precept (1 Thess. 5:17), and illustration (2 Kings 4:33), and example (Dan. 6:10), and exhortation (Eph. 6:18), and warning (Matt. 26:41), were all enlisted to enforce and press home the important truth that "men ought always to pray and not to faint." We are in an enemy's country and must keep the communications open with headquarters. We are in an element which is fatal to spiritual life, and must therefore draw all our supplies from above. "I will therefore," said the inspired apostle, "that men pray everywhere, lifting up holy hands without wrath or doubting" (1 Tim. 2:8).

But Christianity is marked not only by what men are to believe. The true outward test of it will be what they do; and the practical results flowing from a true knowledge of the Father will reflect His character among men; and thus we shall carry out the golden rule, and do as we would be done by.

The entrance to the Kingdom is next spoken of under the figure of a "strait gate." There must be purpose of heart to separate from the crowd, and take an individual path at all costs. David had it (Ps. 17:3), Daniel had it (Dan. 1), and Barnabas exhorted the young believers of Antioch to seek after it if they would make progress in the new life. There is no middle path here, and no middle place hereafter. The issues are simple, if inexpressibly solemn. A good start — the strait gate entered, the narrow way trodden the end, everlasting life. Conversion and Regeneration are the doors of entrance. Holiness marks out the pathway that leads from the strait gate to the gate of pearl. And few there be that find it. But for grace no one would.

On the other hand, wide is the gate and broad is the way that leadeth to destruction. Everything agreeable to the flesh and pleasing to the eye may be carried through the wide gate and taken along the broad way, but the pleasures of Sin are but for a season, and the end is — Hell.

But the devil has many devices, and a very favourite one of hoary antiquity is the "false prophet." The first false prophet we read about in Scripture was Satan himself, and his first effort — in which he was very successful — was to challenge the truth of God's Word.

This is still his strong point, and there are many men in Christendom to-day doing his work. "Wolves in sheeps' clothing." Unconverted men, with a profession of Christianity and a show of learning, using their abilities to endeavour to throw doubts upon the inspiration, authenticity, and authority of God's Holy Word. Short and simple is the test given to detect them. "By their fruits ye shall know them." The world may admire and applaud. The disciple turns away. From such he gets neither joy for his heart nor food for his soul. "Do men gather grapes of thorns or figs of thistles?" What the thorns and thistles are in the natural world, these are in the spiritual. And the Lord, in closing, sums up the whole field of profession, by showing that the truly wise man hears, obeys, brings forth good fruit, and continues; while the mere professor, building his house on the sand, sees his house and his hopes swept away together. Many hear the sayings and do them not — a proof of their indifference and insincerity. But here, doing the sayings of Jesus is likened to building on a rock, and proves that the inward springs that govern the moral nature have been reached by the truth.

Section 4. Matthew 8, 9.

The Dignity of the King and the Characteristics of His Mission

The Gospel takes up a lost sinner in order to make him like Christ. It gives him: —
A place in His favour.
A prospect of His glory, and
A power to bring him there.
It finds him guilty and brings him pardon.
It finds him lost and brings him salvation.
It finds him helpless and brings him power.

We shall find this illustrated in the very beautiful section of our Gospel we are now entering upon, for it shows us all the activities of the power and grace of Christ meeting and defeating all the malignant power of Satan — meeting and supplying all the deep, deep need of sinners. It is really the gospel of the Kingdom introduced with a manifestation of the powers of the age to come (Heb. 2:5). We must not confound it with the present gospel of the grace of God. The gospel of grace might come to a poor sufferer on a sick-bed with saving power for the soul, but the body is not necessarily benefited thereby. On the other hand, we find every individual brought in contact with the Lord on earth, blessed both in soul and body. It was a proof that He was there, acting in the power of the coming Kingdom, out of which, in a coming day, when it is set up upon the earth, every trace of Satan's power, and all the effects of sin, will be cast for ever.

To-day it is the Kingdom and patience of Christ we are to manifest, till He comes again. We can imagine Peter had before him these various scenes detailed in Matthew 8 and 9, when, in Cornelius' house, he declared how "God had anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Ghost and with power: who went about doing good, and healing all that were oppressed with the devil: for God was with him" (Acts 10:38). He was indeed the "Man approved of God by miracles and wonders and signs which God did by him" (Acts 2:22).

The Spirit of God, then, in these two chapters particularly, sets the Lord before us as the One who had come to destroy the works of the devil. In Matthew 5 He went up into a mountain, and we are instructed as to what men ought to be. In Matthew 8 He came down from the mountain, and we find out what men are.

But in the midst of it all we see the Lord moving in the calm dignity of grace and power, dispensing healing and blessing to all who were brought to Him. And it is interesting to notice here that out of all the cases of individual blessing recorded in our Lord's ministry, nearly all were brought to Him by others. Only of some six or seven is it said, "they came." Surely here is another incentive to those who know the Lord to seek to bring others to Him. "Andrew first findeth his own brother Peter." "Philip findeth Nathanael" (John 1:41-45).

The various miracles in this section are evidently grouped together for a special reason. By referring to Mark we find that Peter's wife's mother was healed long before the leper. May the reason for this not be that these striking miracles are placed before us here in a moral order, and designed to show the power and grace of the King in the face of the strongest opposition Satan could bring against Him; designed also to show us the results of sin, which works havoc both in soul and body.

In the eighth chapter, then, we have: —
1 Grace forgingin sins.
2 Grace calling sinners.
3 Grace bringing joy.
4 Grace raising the dead.
5 Grace restoring the diseased.
6 Grace opening blind eyes.
7 Grace unloosing the tongue of the dumb.

Seven notable proofs of Jehovah's presence among His people in power and blessing.

The first miracle in Matthew 8 is that of the leper. "There came a leper." He came, confessed the power of the Lord, and was cleansed. Then he was instructed to go to the priest. The priest had before pronounced the man unclean. Now he is called upon to pronounce him clean, and in doing so to proclaim the fact that there was One in their midst who was more than man. The King of Israel (2 Kings 5) had to say, when appealed to in Naaman's case, "Am I God, to kill and to make alive?" Leprosy was known as a disease beyond the power of man. Only God could heal the leper. Here, then, was a leper healed, and the priest was bound to announce it, and offer the prescribed offering for the occasion (Lev. 14). It was a positive proof of Messiah's power.

But in the second miracle it was a Gentile who got the blessing, and there was no question at all in the mind of the centurion of either the grace or power of Christ. His faith counted upon both, and thereby the Gentile, outside the scope of promise, honoured the Lord, and was rewarded. In commenting upon this faith, the Lord points out, in marked contrast, the unbelief of Israel, and foreshadows the rejection of the nation till the fulness of the Gentiles be come in.

Next we find the Lord in Peter's house; and, taking the fever patient by the hand, he lifted her up (Mark 1). Surely she might well remember that hand-clasp. And the hand of weakness grasped by the hand of power, might well become a ministering hand henceforth.

Referring again to Mark, we learn that this miracle was wrought upon the Sabbath day, and then "when the evening was come" — that is, when the Sabbath day was past — "they brought unto him many that were possessed with demons, and he cast out the spirits with his word, and healed all that were sick." Man's day was setting in darkness and sorrow. Earth's sinking sun saw only suffering humanity, but the Lord brings grace for the guilty, salvation for the lost, and deliverance for the captives of sin and Satan.
"Oh I with what various ills they met,
Oh with what joy they went away."

The Lord then sets out to cross the Sea of Galilee to the land of Gadara, originally inhabited by the tribe of Gad. And this long and, as it proved, dangerous journey is undertaken with the object of bringing deliverance to two men possessed with demons; but the occasion of the crossing became also the occasion of testing two would-be disciples. The Lord's answer to the first is very striking. "The foxes have holes and the birds of the air have their nests; but the Son of Man hath not where to lay his head." There was room and a home on earth for that which men think of little value. There was a place for that which men count even injurious, but the King of Glory was a homeless Stranger. Peter's fisher coat might afford Him a rough pillow while crossing the lake; but the Son of Man had not where to lay His head. And here for the first time we get this new title He applies to Himself. It spoke volumes to Israel, could Israel have understood, for He did not become the "Son of Man" until He had first become the "rejected Messiah."

If the first follower was hindered by worldly position, the second was hindered by worldly ties, and neither can be allowed before the claims of Christ. The beginning of all discipleship is unquestioning obedience produced in the heart by love in the power of the Holy Spirit.

The Lord might have prevented the storm; He allowed it, and that for two reasons. The disciples had to learn what manner of MAN this was who was with them, and the second was that HE was the One to whom to turn in every difficulty. Doubtless their seamanship had often been tested in days gone by on that same lake, but here was evidently something out of the common. They saw nothing before them but disaster, and although the Lord was with them, and though they had witnessed His power so often before, yet they "were afraid." They had not yet learned to trust Him wholly. The Lord first reproves them for their fears, and then delivers them from their dangers. One has said, "He did not chide them for disturbing Him with their prayers, but for disturbing themselves with their fears."

What comes out in the closing half of our chapter is the power of Satan, seen in three ways: (a) Over the elements, in his attempt to raise a storm that would destroy the Christ of God Himself; (b) over two men so under his power as to be worse than the wild beasts of the earth; (c) lastly, over a people so blinded by sin that when One was present in grace and power to bless, they "besought him to depart out of their coasts." And the Lord does so.

Matthew 9 shows some of the characteristics of the wonderful mission that brought the Son of God to earth. It was not only a question of delivering from the effects of Satan's power, but removing the cause which gave him that power over men. And so when the Lord saw the faith of the friends of the palsied man, doubtless reflected in the heart of the man himself, He responds in the first place, not by healing the man's bodily disease, but by touching what was deeper, the disease of the soul — He forgave his sins. Which brings out this, that here in His own city — Capernaum — where many of His mighty works had been done, the Scribes saw in Him only a man, and dared to say that He was a blasphemer.

At Matthew 8:34, His works were rejected: here His divine person and heavenly origin is despised, and later in our chapter the leaders of the people commit the unpardonable sin by ascribing His acts of power to Beelzebub. Such is man by nature, even at his best. Everything was leading up to His rejection by the nation, and the nation's rejection by Him.

But not only is He the Forgiver of Sins. Grace brings sinners into His own presence — yea, even to the table with Him; just what the same grace is doing to-day to all who own their guilt and accept His mercy.

The call of Matthew is an occasion where we see the activity of grace in the heart of one who has become a recipient of it. From Mark's Gospel we learn that Matthew was so enraptured with the grace that had deigned to call a poor publican like himself, that he made a great feast in his own house; and a great company of publicans and sinners were gathered together to meet with Jesus. And there was great joy in that house, for the blessed ones were in the presence of the Blesser, and in the realisation of what the Psalmist experienced when he said, "In thy presence is fulness of joy: at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore" (Ps. 16:11).

The Pharisees raise the question of fasting, but the One who alone was the source of all true joy was in their midst: how unseemly, then, to be occupied with that which was an expression of sorrow.

The Lord next develops the principle of this new thing in the two short parables which follow. The "new cloth" and the "new wine" are the principles of sovereign grace, as opposed to the old covenant of legal righteousness.

Israel of old was under a covenant of works, but, when Christ came, the end of that economy came with Him. Henceforth God was dealing with men in pure unmixed grace. The publican and the sinner were nearer the Kingdom of God than the ceremonially perfect Pharisee, who boasted in his own righteousness and despised others — nearer because they owned their badness, instead of boasting in their fancied goodness. Neither would it do to mingle these two things. Law and grace cannot be blended. The Galatians tried to mix them, and were soundly rebuked by the inspired Apostle. Christendom is doing it to-day, and the result is that the terror is taken from the law by the effort to pare it down to meet men's failures, and all the sweetness is taken from the grace of God by a system of works which tries to earn His favour.

Rightly understood the holy law of God must ever be a source of terror to unholy man, for under it there is no hope for him at all. It demands righteousness from man, without giving him power to produce it. It exposes and condemns his sins, without providing any way to remove them.

Grace, on the other hand, is the sweetest sound that ever reached the sinner's ears, for it deals not at all with what he is, but with what God is: God, who gave up His Son unto death, and that for the ungodly, Christ who redeemed him from the curse of law by being made a curse, and now the Holy Spirit of God come down to make good in his heart these precious truths and lead him into the enjoyment of all the boundless privileges grace has heaped upon him. There can neither be deliverance nor worship until grace is known and enjoyed.

Next in order we have the case of one who was dead, of one with an incurable disease, of two who were blind, and of one who was dumb. Could any addition be made to this sum of human misery? Could the works of the devil be more manifestly displayed? And all this in the midst of the Lord's own nation of Israel. And, figuratively, it is a picture of Israel; and the mighty works the Lord did in their midst, for individuals, form a type of what He will yet do for the nation, when He sets His hand, in a coming day, to recover and restore His ancient people.

But what we have specially to notice at the close of our chapter is this, that the Pharisees and rulers of the people, after all that they had seen of His works of power, and after all that they had heard of His words of grace, gave it as their considered opinion, "He casteth out devils through the prince of devils" (verse 34).

The King was definitely rejected. The blind men (verse 37) acknowledge Him as "Son of David," and by David's greater Son they are healed: but it was done "in the house" apart from the multitude; and when healed they were charged no longer to proclaim Him as such. His relationship was now no longer that of "Son of David" to the nation, but the wider one of "Son of Man" to the multitudes who were "scattered abroad as sheep having no shepherd."

From this standpoint the Lord begins another circuit of Galilee, and in patient grace we find Him going about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the Gospel of the Kingdom, and healing every sickness and every disease among the people. We have before noticed that the expression "Kingdom of Heaven" is found only in Matthew; and only in Matthew do we get "Gospel of the Kingdom," and that thrice repeated (Matt. 4, 9, 24). Here was the cure for all the ills that afflicted Jehovah's land; but, alas! Israel refused the Gospel of the Kingdom then, as sinners to-day refuse the Gospel of Grace. And there never was grace like the grace of Christ. He was moved to compassion by the sight of the fainting multitudes, and He would have His disciples to share the same compassion for the lost as moved His own heart. With this motive they would pray with a sense of the urgency of the need, and this need is as great to-day.

The three short commands, "Pray ye," "Look ye," "Go ye," are intimately connected. Can we truly obey one without obeying all?

Section 5. Matthew 10, 11, 12.

The King's Messengers, the King's Message, and the King Himself Rejected

It is very important to be clear as to the teaching of this section of our Gospel in order rightly to understand the whole. It records the events that lead up to, and introduce the change of dispensations following the rejection of the Messiah.

In the first place the King's messengers go out with the King's message. The nation rejects the messengers and refuse the message. John, the forerunner, is imprisoned. The people that rejected both John and the Lord are likened to children who would respond to the voice neither of mirth nor of mourning. The pride and worldliness of Tyre and Sidon would meet with a less severe judgment than the cities of Galilee which had seen His mighty works. But though rejected by the people and their leaders, yet the weary and heavy-laden would come to Him and find rest; and as the Sabbath was intended to be a sign of a kept law, He exposes the hypocrisy of the Pharisees, who professed to keep the Sabbath and yet rejected the Lord of the Sabbath. Their only reply to His words of grace and acts of power was to hold a council against Him, how they might destroy Him. Henceforth it was all over with the nation. The new thing was announced according to prophecy. Judgment would go forth to the Gentiles who were outside the scope of Jewish promise, in the darkness of heathendom and the prison-house of the devil. The result would be the "new song to the Lord" and His praise to the ends of the earth (Isa. 42:1-10). The Pharisees desire a sign, and get two, which showed them, could they only have seen it, that they would be condemned by the faith of those who had both less light and fewer privileges. Jonah did no signs, and Solomon's wisdom was not to be compared with that of Christ, the power of God, and the wisdom of God.

But looking a little closer into details we find that Matthew 10 opens with the mission of the twelve. At the close of Matthew 9 they were instructed to pray for labourers to be sent forth, and here we find them being sent forth themselves. The disciples now become apostles — sent ones. Hitherto they had been following with the Lord, as disciples; now they go forth for the Lord, as servants, and the chapter is full of the deepest practical instruction for every servant, now, as well as then.

In the first place we get a list of the names of the twelve, and here only Matthew is called "the publican"; it is as if the writer desired to express his appreciation of the grace that could take up a poor publican and number him among that select company — the Apostles of the Lamb.

The Lord then instructs them as to: —
1 The sphere of their mission.
2 The persons to whom the message was sent,
3 The character of the message, and
4 Its evidences.

It was a purely Jewish mission of Jewish apostles to the Jewish people, and, this being so, neither Samaritan nor Gentile has any part in it.

This should make it clear to all that this mission of the twelve had nothing in common with the present Gospel of the grace of God which goes out to all, world wide, without exception or distinction, consequent upon the death and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ. But here the apostles are instructed to go only to "the lost sheep of the house of Israel." They were as sheep having no shepherd, or even in a worse position still, according to Zech. 11:5, as a flock of slaughter The nation had reached the period when "their possessors (the Romans) slay them and hold themselves not guilty: and they that sell them (the Herodians) say, 'Blessed be the Lord for I am rich': and their own shepherds (the Pharisees) pity them not." Such was Israel's miserable plight when the Lord Jesus appeared, God come down in grace to deliver, proclaiming as "at hand" that Kingdom which had been so long promised through the prophets. But in spite of all He said, or did, or was, the King — the true Shepherd of Israel — was rejected, and what the prophet Zechariah had foretold now took place. "I took my staff, even Beauty, and cut it asunder, that I might break my covenant which I had made with all the people" (Zech. 11:10). The whole chapter is of great interest in connection with this portion of our Gospel.

The character of the message and its evidences bear further testimony that it was the fulfilment of Jewish prophecy. That the Kingdom was near was evidenced by the powers of the coming age having been conferred upon, and now to be manifested by, the King's messengers. Four things they were instructed to do: —
Heal the sick.
Cleanse the lepers.
Raise the dead.
Cast out devils (demons).

In short, disease, death, and the devil would yield to the power of Jehovah exercised by His servants, as they will again do in a coming day, when Jehovah is Judge, Lawgiver, and King, and "the inhabitant shall not say, I am sick" (Isa. 33:24). But to apply such a scripture to the present dispensation only betrays ignorance of the ways of God. The man who bases on this for so-called faith healing is equally bound to raise the dead; and his failure should convince him of his folly.

But their mission would be in no wise accepted by the nation. Indeed, the Lord warned them that they would find themselves as sheep in the midst of wolves. Therefore their dependence was to be upon God Himself. Their Lord had been persecuted and rejected; so would they be. The Person of Christ, the people of Christ, and the Word of Christ, are three things that the world hates. Satan and the works of Satan it can tolerate; for, alas! the evil heart of man understands them; but, when One came from God with power to deliver, the only answer the world had was "crucify Him." The Master was called Beelzebub, so would the servant be.

It is important to note that this mission is looked upon as continuous, right on "till the Son of Man be come" (verse 24). No doubt it was interrupted at the Cross, and from then until the Church period is over, it will continue to be so. But when the Church is rapt to the glory, Messiah's messengers will again go forth with the Kingdom Gospel, and Messiah Himself will appear to establish His Kingdom in power, as we shall see more fully in Matthew 25.

But in the meantime, and until that day of power, the disciples would be in the place of testimony for a rejected Lord, and therefore hated by the world, and it is beautiful to notice how He fortifies their hearts against the world's opposition. In the first place: —

They were the objects of the Father's care. If that care extended even to the unimportant sparrow, how much more to the confessors of Christ? And so intimately are they known to Him that even the very hairs of their heads were numbered — nothing could really harm them. Again:

Their faithful testimony here would ensure honourable mention in the day of glory. It is one of the ways of God with His children here, that we are often delivered from occupation with present things, by having the light of the future turned upon them. So Paul reckoned that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory to be revealed (Rom. 8:18). For if we suffer, we shall also reign with Him (2 Tim. 2). The Cross-bearer here is going to be Crown-wearer by and by.

But there is further encouragement for them of a different character at the close of the chapter. only one Servant was ever able to go on in a path of unceasing rejection, and that was the Master Himself. He had to say: "I have laboured in vain, I have spent my strength for nought, and in vain; yet surely my judgment is with the Lord, and my work with my God" (Isa. 49:4). His path, uncheered by earthly smiles, led only to the Cross. But for these servants, if some rejected them, there would be those who would receive their testimony, and the receivers would be blessed of the Father and inherit the Kingdom prepared from the foundation of the world (Chap 25).

We can see clearly, as we study these chapters, how Israel was now on her last trial. In her past history she had turned to idolatry, from the living and true God. Elijah's accusation was a true one when he said: "The children of Israel have forsaken thy covenant, thrown down thine altars, and slain thy prophets with the sword." Bitter captivity, as they had been forewarned, had followed fast upon their sin; but grace had again intervened, and a remnant of the nation was once more in Israel's land. Now, it was no more a question of broken laws, neglected altars, or persecuted prophets; but a question as to Messiah Himself. Jehovah — Jesus, Emmanuel, God with us — become, in grace, the Servant, although the very King of Glory. He was in their midst; and, if He was rejected, there only lay before them the last Roman captivity, as foreshadowed by Daniel's devouring "beast" (Dan. 7), Jerusalem's desolation, as foretold by Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Ezekiel, the Kingdom of God taken from them, and, finally (Messiah having been rejected), the Antichrist would be accepted, and so bring upon the nation the great tribulation, the time of Jacob's trouble, before the Lord returned in power and glory.

The study of this chapter is of the utmost importance, in order rightly to understand the ways of God with men.

Matthew 11 lays bare the springs of evil in the heart of man, that could reject both the grace and power of Messiah, as shown in Matthew 10 by His messengers, and His own gracious ministry (Chap. 11:1). The wicked king, the "idol shepherd" — Herod — had imprisoned the faithful and fearless Forerunner. In the gloomy dungeon of Macherus, John, brooding alone in his bondage, would seem to have questioned whether, after all, his own mission had not been a failure. Where was the Kingdom he had announced, and what proof was there that the King was really present? Hence the questionings of his spirit found utterance in the inquiry, "Art Thou He?"

The Lord replied to His dying witness by acts of power and words of comfort. When the disciples of John had departed, the Lord praises the devoted constancy of His servant. John was no weakling — no "reed shaken with the wind." King's courts were not familiar places to him, and the smiles and frowns of kings were matters of equal indifference. lie was "more than a prophet," for he was honoured by being the immediate messenger of Jehovah. Himself. But the Lord marks the change of dispensation by announcing that the least in the Kingdom of Heaven, as sons of God, had a nearer relationship than even John — "no greater" servant of woman born. Prophetic testimony had been since Abel downwards: that was now ended, and Messiah Himself was present, of whom all the prophets had spoken: and this fact made the sin of the age — the rejection of Jesus — the greatest it was possible for man to commit. Tyre's worldliness and Sodom's immorality were eclipsed by the unbelief of the cities of Galilee.

Turning from them, the Lord in verses 25-30 reveals the divine purposes and counsels whereby "the babe" (the true disciple) is instructed into the deep things of God. Here our Gospel touches on the main subject developed in the Gospel of John — the revelation of the Father and the Son. The Lord returns, as it were, back to the eternal purposes of God. If the throne of David was denied Him by the nation, all things were given Him by the Father, and He alone could reveal the Father to His own. The ineffable Godhead glory of the Father could only be revealed by the Son. But that He could reveal it, proved His own Personal Deity, for who but God could reveal God? Further, a knowledge of the mystery of the divine Son of God incarnate — His Being and Person — very God, and yet a true Man upon the earth, could be known only by the Father alone.

This One then calls to Himself the weary of every class, and clime, and nation, in order to give them rest. Here only was rest to be found, for He alone could lay the foundation upon which every purpose of God in grace to the world was to be established.

Not only was rest of conscience to be given there was also rest of heart to be found but the last is only promised upon the ground of discipleship. To learn of Him: to be yoked with Him: to be meek and lowly like Him — is there a power in earth or hell that can disturb or distract the soul that has entered, in a practical way, into these sublime and heavenly truths?

In Matthew 12 we find Messiah's messengers an hungered, even in Messiah's land, so thoroughly had their Master been rejected. Walking by the side of the corn-fields, the disciples pluck the ears of corn and eat them, which was allowed by the law (Deut. 23:25). The Lord then uses the opposition the Pharisees made to this, to show them, both in teaching and practice, that every link with God, for that generation, was now completely severed. What were mere forms of godliness, when the Son of God Himself was despised? In the nation's history, in days gone by, there had been a time analogous to the present. David, the true king, was rejected and fleeing for his life. The people's king, Saul, was on the throne, and God's king was an exile. On the Sabbath day (compare Lev. 24 with 1 Sam. 21) David and his followers did eat of the shewbread, which pertained only to the priests, and were blameless. But what the Pharisees did prove by their opposition was their own inconsistency and guilty rejection of divine power, made manifest before all. And this would ultimately be the cause of their own rejection by God Himself, until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in.

Following upon the next miracle of healing the man with the withered hand — apt picture of Israel who should have been strong for God, and was not — the Holy Spirit directs attention to the true Servant, and His beautiful characteristics as described in Isaiah's glowing page.
1 He was the Chosen One.
2 The Beloved.
3 Filled with the Spirit.
4 The One who would show judgment to the nations.
5 Patient and Tender.
6 Finally Victorious, and
7 The One in whom the Gentiles would trust (Isa. 42).

Henceforth it is no longer a question of blessing to Israel only; the gracious service, in the hands of the Perfect Servant, the "Son of Man," now assumes a wider aspect, and there is final blessing for the whole earth.

In Isaiah 5 the prophet describes what God had done for the nation, and what the nation had failed to be for God. The six "woes," in the same chapter, describe the sad result "because they had cast away the law of the Lord of Hosts, and despised the word of the Holy One of Israel" (verse 24). But the True Servant "shall not fail nor be discouraged till he have set judgment in the earth, and the isles shall wait for his law" (Isa. 62:4).

One other miracle the Lord works about this time, as if to show conclusively His divine authority: There was brought unto Him one possessed with a devil, blind, and dumb: and He healed him insomuch that the blind and dumb both spake and saw. We have had blind eyes opened and deaf ears unstopped, but here both together, in one subject, are brought before us as a picture of where the nation now was, led on by their blind guides, refusing either to see or confess their own Messiah in their midst. The people might say, "Is not this the Son of David?" but the foes of Christ charge Him with being the minister of satanic power, and thus commit the sin of sins by blaspheming the Holy Spirit of God.

Even after the Cross, the first martyr, Stephen, had to charge home upon their conscience the same terrible guilt, "Ye do always resist the Holy Ghost" (Acts 7:51).

The Lord goes on to show: —
That Satan did not war against himself.
That the Kingdom of God was among them.
That the "strong man," Satan, had been bound, and
That "his goods," the souls of men, could now be set free.

However, that generation was judged. It was a corrupt tree and could not bring forth good fruit. Being evil, their words were idle and evil, and for every idle word they would come into judgment. Their fathers in the wilderness had spoken against Jehovah in their midst in power, and His anger was kindled. Here Jehovah was in their midst in grace, and as their fathers had done, so did they.

It is remarkable, how that after all the mighty works the Lord had done among them, the Pharisees should still demand a sign, and it is also well to notice that out of the forty-six recorded miracles of our Lord, no less than thirty-three were wrought in Galilee. No further sign would convince them, but the Lord gives them two that would condemn them. Jonah, up from the depth of the sea, type of Christ risen from among the dead, and preached in grace to the Gentiles, was the first. But if Messiah was cut off, what hope for that generation? And the fact that the men of Nineveh received and bowed to the voice of the prophet, while the men of Israel refused the voice of One greater than Jonah, would add tenfold to their condemnation.

The second sign was the attractive power of the wisdom of Solomon for the heart of the Queen of Sheba. The fame of this wisdom (1 Kings 8) produced something in her heart beyond the mere repentance of the Ninevites. It had the effect of bringing her into the presence of the king; and the result was that every desire of her heart was satisfied. How much greater was the One in whose presence they were? The One who had given to Solomon his wisdom, and his riches, and his glory, was in their midst, but they saw no beauty in Him that they should desire Him.

And then the Lord passes to the end, and with sad and solemn words, in parabolic language, describes the present and future history of the nation.

Of all the various forms of evil with which Satan has sought to lead men from God, no form seems to have been so successful as idolatry. We do not know that it was in the world before the flood. Then the devil wrought through the unbridled passions of men, left to the freedom of their own lusts. When the sword of justice was put into the hands of Noah and his sons, restraint was put upon physical violence, but moral evil thereupon blossomed unchecked. Because men did not like to retain the knowledge of the true God, and because they must have a god of some kind, at the instigation of Satan, they made gods for themselves, and attributed to these idols all the evil passions that filled their own hearts. Soon idolatry had filled the whole known world; and God, in electing grace, had to call Abram entirely out of his father's house, in order to become the "father of the faithful." Yet how successfully the "unclean spirit" carried on his operations, even amidst the chosen seed, may be seen when we find idolatry tacitly allowed even in Jacob's household, in the wilderness openly indulged in, and publicly provided for under the reign of Israel's wisest king, until God, through His prophet, had to warn, in the days of Manasseh, what the result would be. And very soon afterwards Jerusalem was "wiped as a man wipeth a dish, wiping it and turning it upside down" (2 Kings 21:13).

From that day till the present moment idolatry has been unknown among the Jews. The "unclean spirit" went out, and the house was left empty, swept, and garnished. It was not that evil under other forms was not among them, but idolatry was not there. Nevertheless, the Lord says that in a coming day, a sevenfold spirit of evil — idolatry and worse — will take possession of the guilty generation. Man himself will usurp the place of God, and demand and receive that adoration and worship which is only due to God alone. Both "the beast" and his "image" will be worshipped, and that by men and by a nation of the highest intelligence upon the face of the earth. There is no form of evil that men, in spite of all their boasted civilisation, will not indulge in, if left to the control of Satan and the desire of their own wicked hearts.

But when man has reached his lowest, God comes in, and He will take a hand in the affairs of Israel, and of the earth, in judgment, and "destroy the men who destroy the earth" (Rev. 11:18).

This chapter should be studied in connection with that beautiful section of Isaiah 49 — 53. In Isa. 48 Israel, who should have been the servant of Jehovah, is charged with obstinacy and treacherous dealing, and formally set aside. In Isa. 49 the True Servant is announced, and after His mission to Israel, He has to say, "I have laboured in vain, and spent my strength for nought and in vain: yet surely my judgment is with the LORD, and my work with my God. . . . And he said, It is a light thing that thou shouldest be my Servant, to raise up the tribes of Jacob and to restore the preserved of Israel: I will also give thee for a light to the Gentiles, that thou mayest be my salvation unto the ends of the earth" (verses 4-6). There would then be blessing, not for Israel only, but for all nations. This was now beginning to be fulfilled, but the Cross had to come in before there could be blessing for any.

Isaiah 50 deals with the Blessed One upon the earth: His life of obedience to God and suffering at the hands of men. "The Lord God hath opened mine ear and I was not rebellious, neither turned away back. I gave my back to the smiter, and my cheeks to them that plucked off the hair. I hid not my face from shame and spitting" (verses 5, 6). In Isaiah 51 the day of redemption has come, and there is a threefold call to the remnant to "hearken," and the promise that the days of mourning are ended and those of joy and gladness begun. The cup of trembling is taken out of her hands, and Jerusalem is exhorted (Isa. 52) to awake and put on her beautiful garments. Then Jehovah turns (Isa. 53) to contemplate His perfect Servant, upon the earth, in all His wonderful pathway of dependence and devotedness to the will of God: of rejection and suffering at the hands of men.

But there was still a deeper depth. Expiation, atonement, and propitiation could only be through blood-shedding and death, and He became obedient unto death, "wherefore God also hath highly exalted him" (Phil. 2). His work is above every work: His name above every name.

As one result of that work, Israel's blessing is secured upon the ground of sovereign grace, and, in the bright millennial day (Isa . 54), she is invited to break forth into singing. She is no longer Lo-Ami (not my people), but her Maker is her husband, the Lord of Hosts is His name.

It seems hardly necessary to add that the prophet, after describing "the sufferings of Christ," goes on to describe "the glory that should follow." He necessarily passes over the Church, which was a mystery then hid in the counsels of God, but to be revealed after the Lord had taken His seat on high.

But all this was consequent upon the rejection of the Messiah, and coming back again to the close of Matthew 12, we find (verse 46) that the Lord now, in figure, breaks the last earthly link with Israel after the flesh. Everything of the old economy was over. The Jews might boast of having Abraham for their father, being Moses' disciples, having the law, and the prophets but prophets, priesthood, law, or kingdom was now of no account before God. The abuse of these privileges only rendered their guilt the deeper. In short, this chapter brings us to the close of the moral history of the nation.

But new relationships of a spiritual character were about to begin, and these would be manifested by: —
1 Following Christ.
2 Hearing the Word of God.
3 Doing the Father's will.

Section 6. Matthew 13.

The Outward and Inward Aspects of the Kingdom in the Absence of the King

The Bible is a book in two parts. The Old Testament has to do with the earth. It is the mind of Heaven revealed to man upon the earth to fit him for the earth.

But man closed his ears to the voice of God, disobeyed the divine will, and made himself unfit for the earth in which God had placed him. Eden and innocence were lost by Adam. Canaan and liberty were lost by Israel. Happiness and holiness have been lost by all because of sin and disobedience.

Hence the New Testament has to do with heaven. It reveals the mind of God as to how men, who had made themselves unfit for the earth, might be made fit for heaven itself through the Gospel.

The portion of our Gospel which we have so far been considering has had to do with Israel, still dealt with on the ground of responsibility. Messiah was presented for their acceptance or rejection, as men upon the earth; and, as we have seen, He had been rejected. Accordingly, at the close of Matthew 12, the Lord announces new terms of relationship — even that which was of a spiritual character. "Whosoever shall do the will of my Father which is in heaven, the same is my brother and sister and mother," and the same day He went out of the house and sat by the seaside.

Then follows the most remarkable series of parables given in any of the Gospels. Their number — seven — is in itself suggestive. We meet first with this number in Scripture in Genesis 2, where the seventh day is called the "Sabbath" from a root meaning to be "full," "satisfied," or "perfected." So God rested on the seventh day. His work was perfected. Nothing could be added to it.

These seven parables then set forth in symbolic language, systematic order, and historical sequence the moral characteristics of: —
The origin,
Outward progress,
Declension, and
Consummation
of the Kingdom of Heaven as seen in the hands of men. At the same time, they also disclose the true inward and hidden aspect of that Kingdom in mystery, God's husbandry, God's building — against which neither the wickedness of men, the assaults of Satan, or the powers of hell can prevail.

Thus we see unfolded before us: —
1 What Christ does.
2 What Satan does, and
3 What men do.

Parable 1

The object of the opening parable is to show: —
1 The way in which the Word of the Kingdom is introduced.
2 The hindrances it encounters, and
3 The results it achieves.

The sower is the Lord Himself. He is no longer seeking fruit from Israel, but He is beginning in the world at large a new work of grace, which, like the good seed, will reproduce itself.

But, as there were obstacles in the way of the seed, so there are hindrances to the operations of grace.

The devil, the world, and the flesh oppose: —

1 Some of the seed fell "by the wayside." Here we have pictured that condition of heart which is, alas, but too common wherever the Gospel is proclaimed. There are hearts so careless and indifferent that they fail to see either their danger in rejecting the Gospel, or their blessing in receiving it. And in addition to this there is the enemy without who is ever ready to take advantage of the condition within. He catcheth away the word. These are the Hard-Hearted.

2 Again, some of the seed fell upon stony places where there was not much depth of earth. Two things are said of these. They had no depth of earth, hence no root, and when the sun was up they withered away.

In His interpretation (verse 20) the Lord says of these here represented that they received the word with joy, but when persecution arose they were offended (stumbled). Joy, though a very important part of Christian experience, is not usually the first result of the Spirit's work in the soul. If the conscience be ploughed up there will be deep exercise as to sin, and joy will only come when the sin question is settled. Hence we gather that there was, on the part of those spoken of here, no real knowledge of either sin, self, or grace, and so no ability to continue when persecution arose for the Word's sake. In short, they are the Faint-Hearted.

3 "And some fell among thorns." Here the ground is already occupied with something else, and something also which is indigenous to the soil. The thorns were there before the seed fell amongst them. So much so that Matthew takes no account of the apparent growth of the seed at all — only of the thorns, and Luke notices it only to show that the flourishing condition of the thorns choked the seed.

The Lord shows here the utter impossibility of producing fruit for God while the heart is occupied with the world, and in Luke the whole circle of worldly influences is represented its cares, its riches, or its pleasures. The three combined, or any one of them, may so fill the heart that the Word of God, though falling on the ear, and even being tacitly consented to by the mind, may yet produce no saving faith in the soul or fruit in the life, because there is no purpose of heart for God and no break with the world.

These may be classed as the Half-Hearted.

Yet, in spite of all the opposition of the devil, the flesh, and the world, the Word accomplishes the most remarkable results.

4 Some fell on good ground and brought forth fruit, some an hundredfold, some sixtyfold, and some thirtyfold. Is the difference to be accounted for on the ground of fidelity or opportunity? The Lord does not here take up the question, but other scriptures show that both will be taken into consideration in the great Day of Rewards.

But the disciples understood none of these things until the Lord opened out the meaning before them. To disciples it had been given to know the mysteries of the Kingdom; and the Lord's interpretation of the "sower" and of the "tares in the field" would, no doubt, instruct them in the meaning of all parables.

Broadly speaking, the results of the sowing are such as follow the preaching of the Gospel in all ages and among all nations. Some are "good ground" hearers, and produce good fruit. Many, alas! are careless, and whether the hindrance be the devil, the world, or the flesh, they bring no fruit to perfection.

Parable 2

But in the next parable we have a further development of the history of the Kingdom, as committed to the hands of man, and four things follow: —
1 There is carelessness on the part of those who should have been watchers.
2 The enemy no longer "catches away" that which was sown. He adopts a new plan, and sows tares among the wheat.
3 The servants get instructions for their guidance under the new conditions, and
4 The Lord shows what is in store for both "wheat" and "tares" at the end of the age.

The Book of Acts reveals to us how very early in the history of the Church Satan began his operations of introducing the "children of the wicked one" among the "children of the Kingdom." And though faithfulness on the part of Peter was able to detect and expose Simon Magus (Acts 8:21), yet such godly care and watchfulness soon, alas! disappeared, and evil men crept in unawares, just as the Lord here foretold.

The servants, however, in the parable were prompt to appraise the evil at its true value when it showed itself, and they seek instructions from the Lord for wisdom to deal with it. And here we must note carefully the Lord's interpretation of the parable to understand rightly the force of the instructions He gives them.

The field is the world — the kosmos. Here the word "world" indicates the sphere where the Word of God goes forth. In verses 39, 40 it indicates the space of time allowed for its dissemination. It is no longer a question of the land of Israel and a testimony to Messiah inside, with no appeal to Samaritan or Gentile outside of it, but the scope of the operations of grace will be world-wide, and the Kingdom of Heaven will be open to all without exception or distinction.

The good seed are the children of the Kingdom. There is here a historical as well as a moral development. It is not a question of seed to reproduce itself as the result of a sowing, but it deals with what has been produced and is now in evidence in "the field." The "children of the Kingdom" are there, as was to be expected. But there are also the "children of the wicked one," wholly unexpected on the part of the servants who knew not the forces of evil at work, though unseen by men. It is the beginning of the "mystery of iniquity." Of those who bear the name of Christ, but have not the Spirit of Christ — unconverted and unregenerate, yet in the field of Christian profession, the Lord says, with solemn emphasis, that they are the "children of the wicked one."

The servants have a suggested cure for these unexpected conditions, but the Lord shows them that their method is not the divine way. Penal judgment in divine things is never committed into the hands of men. The "tares" are in the Kingdom, and are to be allowed there until the "harvest." Evil men are not to be put out of the Kingdom, which could only be done by putting them to death.

Rome, interpreting "the field" to be "the Church," though in plain contradiction to the scripture, and which it is not, has endeavoured to root out those whom she branded as "tares," and thereby made herself responsible for the blood of fifty millions of the saints of God. Protestantism has gone to the opposite extreme, and with a spirit of latitudinarianism utterly regardless of the claims of Christ or the holiness of the House of God, has allowed all kinds of men and many forms of evil doctrine to enter the professing Church, arguing that as there were "tares" in the "field," so there would be the unconverted in the Church — a right premise, but an utterly wrong conclusion.

How important it is to divide rightly the word of truth (2 Tim. 2:15).

Continuing His instructions the Lord unmasks the cause of this condition of things:

The enemy that sowed them is the devil. For reasons beyond our ken, Satan is allowed to carry out his plans to the apparent disorganising of the plans of God. It was so at Eden, and his apparent success ended in man's expulsion from the paradise of God. In the post-diluvian world, although the original curse was partly removed and violence was no longer allowed to fill the earth to the same extent as before the flood, yet Satan was ready with something else to take its place, and mankind in the mass very soon became wholly given up to idolatry. No sooner was Abraham called out from his own country to be a stranger in the land of Canaan, than we see the wiles of the enemy under another form, and the son of the bondwoman is foisted into the place of the true seed. Foiled again in this, we trace the workings of the old serpent in the hatred of the ten brethren against Joseph, the uprisings against Moses, the grievous departure from God when in the land, the revolt of the ten tribes from the house of David, and the rapid declension of both kings and people from the ways of God, until He removed both Judah and Israel out of their own land because "they mocked the messengers of God, and despised his words, and misused his prophets, until the wrath of the Lord arose against his people till there was no remedy" (2 Chron. 36:16).

When Israel, for the time, is set aside, and the Kingdom of Heaven introduced, the enemy, alert in evil as ever, is ready with an imitation of that which is real. But the Lord brings the light of the future to illumine what is dark in the present, and He tells His disciples that the enemy's success is only for a time. Both wheat and tares grow together until the harvest, but at the harvest — the end of the age everything will come out in its true colours It cannot be too often repeated that it is not the end of the world that is in view here, but a definite moment in the dealings of God with this world, and from other scriptures we learn that that time will be just before the setting up of the Millennial Kingdom. It must be carefully distinguished both from the coming of the Lord for His people (1 Thess. 4), which takes place shortly before this, and also from the Judgment of the Great White Throne (Rev. 20), which does not take place until a thousand years afterwards.

When the Lord comes for His people it is a question of the righteous being taken out from among the wicked.

Here it is a question of the wicked being taken out from among the righteous.

At the Judgment of the Great White Throne, there is no separation at all, for all alike have died in sin, been buried in sin, and, raised again unrepentant and unforgiven, are alike cast into the lake of fire — solemn thought!

But here the Lord takes the character of Son of Man, and as such He deals with the earth. He will come to deliver the faithful, judge the ungodly, purge the earth, fulfil to the suffering ones of Israel every promise of Matthew 5, and introduce the long promised Kingdom in power, and in glory, and in universal blessing according to Isaiah 60 and Zechariah 14.

Further, this scripture tells us how this will be done: —

The Reapers are the Angels. — There will be angelic ministry in that day, such as heretofore the world has only had glimpses of. Under the old economy the angels were, if we might so say, in the place of rule (Gal. 3:19). In the present day of grace they are seen in the place of lowly service to the children of the Kingdom (Heb. 1:14). But in the coming day will be seen the angels of His power as the executors of the judgment of God upon evil, and evil men.

Just as the husbandman gathers together the useless tares, and binds them in bundles with the ultimate object of their destruction, so evil men will be found at the close of this age banded together against the Lord and against His people, and as such their confederacies will be dealt with by the Lord. Their solemn end is the furnace of fire, where there is "wailing and gnashing of teeth."

Then will be seen the final triumph of the ways of God, and the crushing failure of all the wiles of the devil. The wickedness of men, the malice of Satan, and the fruits of sin will all be fully exposed, righteously judged, and eternally punished.

The triumph of the Lord Jesus Christ over all authority and power will be manifested.

The righteousness of God will be vindicated.

The redeemed will be brought into all the blessings of the New Covenant of Grace (Ezek. 36), and Then shall the righteous shine forth as the sun in the Kingdom of their Father.

Parable 3

Parable 3 (verses 31, 32) brings out a further development of world principles in the outward aspect of the Kingdom of Heaven.

Not only would there be a mingling of wheat and tares — of mere professors with the children of the Kingdom — but here we are given to see that that which began as a small thing in the earth, and was to be heavenly in its character, as it was in its origin, would become a great "tree in the earth" — ever a symbol of world power — under whose branches the "birds of the air" — servants of the wicked one — would find a lodgment. It is what corresponds to the Pergamos period of the history of the Church (Rev. 2:12), and historically would doubtless begin with the Empire of Constantine the Great, A.D. 312. When Christianity ceased to be the persecuted, despised, and down-trodden confession of the few, but, embraced by the Emperor of the Roman world, received world-wide patronage and protection one, among many, of the evil results was that the way to become powerful in the world was to become great in the Church. Immediately "grievous wolves" (Acts 20:29) entered in, not sparing the flock. The professing Church became a great world power. It was no longer thought necessary for the bishops to fulfil the conditions of 1 Timothy 3. They would much rather sit on "thrones" drawing ample revenues, dispensing the "patronage of the Church" to their own advantage, and, alas! sometimes be found eating and drinking with the drunken (Chap. 24). This is no exaggerated picture, as every student of. Church history will admit. Take either the earlier times or the later. Perhaps it was more marked in the fourth century because it was a new thing. Up till that period, to be an outstanding man in the Church was to be a mark for the shafts of persecution. After Constantine, it became a position to be coveted by the man of the world, for it brought with it money and fame and worldly influence.

In short, the Kingdom of Heaven in the history of its administration by the hands of men, became a great world power, affording lodgment for much that was evil (the "birds of the air") instead of maintaining its heavenly character of separation from the world, holiness before men, and lowliness before God.

Parable 4

The next parable lays bare the inward principles which were at work, unseen, but pregnant with power, and that, alas! a power for evil.

It begins in the Thyatiran period when the "Woman Jezebel" (Rev. 2) is allowed to teach and seduce and, historically, it will have its complete fulfilment in Babylon (Rev. 17) when that which is merely hypocrisy and false profession will have passed beyond the Laodicean stage and become wholly satanic and abominable — the leaven hid in three measures of meal till the whole was leavened.

There is a certain definite area supposed in the "three measures" inside of which the "leaven" works. Leaven being everywhere else in Scripture a type of that which is evil, we must so expect to find it here, and only thus can we have an orderly and progressive setting forth of the subject dealt with.

Just as former parables have shown the "children of the wicked one" in the Kingdom, so here we have shown to us that which fills their hearts. They are those "who receive not the love of the truth" (2 Thess. 2:12). "They will not endure sound doctrine" but "shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned to fables" (2 Tim. 4:12). They are men of corrupt minds, reprobate concerning the faith (2 Tim. 3:8). Let anyone but look round to-day and he will see how rapidly things in Christendom are hastening to the above consummation.

Think of some only of the great and rapidly increasing cults of evil doctrine in our midst to-day, such as Spiritism, Eddyism, Russellism, and many others. Then consider that these rapidly growing organisations are being recruited from the ranks of those who once made a profession of Christianity but are now apostate therefrom.

Then, in the various so-called "orthodox" denominations, see the indifference of many, and the opposition of some to the very cardinal doctrines of Christian truth. For example, take the Inspiration of Scripture. How loosely men talk and write of the "mistakes" of Moses, the "contradictions" of the Synoptists, or the "errors" in the later Scriptures, "understanding neither what they say, nor whereof they affirm" (1 Tim. 1:7). They have not hesitated to bring their irreverent and unregenerate minds to pry into the sacred mystery of the Son of God come down in grace; and teachings are received without protest, derogatory alike to His Holy Person, His finished work, and His divine glory.

These are but illustrations of the corrupting form of the leaven at work at the present moment in that which bears the name of the Kingdom of Heaven.

Here, then, in these three parables we have set forth a developing and an increasing growth of evil, both externally and internally, in that which professes to represent the rule of heaven upon the earth. At the beginning, a few tares among the wheat, at which the servants are surprised. Then a great tree instead of a lowly mustard plant. And, again, a leavening process by the evil doctrines of men, instead of the truth as "the truth is in Jesus" (Eph. 4:21). And at this stage, these things are accepted as matters of course. There is apparently no one now so much in the mind of the Master as to inquire: "Didst thou not sow good seed in thy field?"

In view of these startling and wholly unexpected (on their part) developments, well might the disciples say, "Declare unto us the parable of the tares in the field."

Verse 36 begins the second section of the chapter. In the house the Lord expounds the parable to His disciples. As we have seen, the just judgment of God will clear the ground for the reign of righteousness to begin, and the wicked will no longer be allowed to remain in the Kingdom, or even on the earth. They will be cast — solemn thought — into a furnace of fire. Then shall the righteous shine forth as the sun in the Kingdom of their Father.

Parable 5

The next two parables are of special interest. The action of the narrative is no longer occupied with the development of events within the Kingdom either for good or for evil. It is no question of what men may either do or teach; but the mind and heart are centred upon the ONE who, in wonderful condescension and marvellous grace, became the Finder of the treasure and the Seeker of the pearl. As we get occupied with Him, we feel at once that we are in a different atmosphere. We no longer stand, as it were, on the plains of Moab, contemplating Israel as a "stiff-necked people" (Num. 22), but We are beside the prophet on the "high places." It is no longer what the people are for God, but what God is for His people, and in spite of all Israel had been He could say, He had not "beheld iniquity in Jacob, neither hath he seen perverseness in Israel" (Num. 23:21). In the very beginning, or ever the earth was, that Blessed One could say, "My delights were with the sons of men" (Prov. 8:31). In grace, and with satisfaction He views His people as grace will ultimately make them. His earthly people, redeemed Israel upon the earth: His heavenly people, a glorious Church without spot or wrinkle or any such thing.

The Kingdom in the hands of men had been shown to be mingled with that which is unreal, united to that which is earthly, and permeated with that which is evil. As such, all that was false and unreal was fast hastening on to judgment. It was necessary that the disciples should now see what was real and true, amidst all the confusion. To them it was given to know the mysteries of the Kingdom of Heaven.

Let us note here that the character of the figures is now changed. It is no longer, as at the introduction, "good seed" that could reproduce itself. Nor is it a "sowing" where darnel might be mingled with the wheat. Much less is it that which might become contaminated with evil men or evil influences externally as in the "mustard seed," or corrupted by false and satanic doctrines internally as in the "three measures of meal." But here we have a definite precious deposit of intrinsic excellence, and which, though hid in the earth, could not be defiled by the earth.

The figures are few and simple, and other Scriptures accurately guide us in the interpretation.

The field is the world. The Finder of the treasure and the Purchaser of the field is the Lord Himself. No other interpretation is possible. Who but He could purchase such a field? Who but He had anything to "sell" at all commensurate with the value of the object to be acquired, for in the field there was a treasure for which possession of the field was sought, and which was of infinitely greater value than the field itself.

In Exodus 19, in that wonderful personal interview between Jehovah and His servant Moses, He could say, "If ye will obey my voice . . . ye shall be a peculiar treasure unto me, above all people that are in the earth." Now we know that Israel did not obey that voice; but where Israel failed, grace triumphed on the ground of redemption; and we have already seen what God could say of His people in the plains of Moab, even when Satan had them, as he thought, at a disadvantage. How much more will this be evident when Psalm 135
"The Lord hath chosen Jacob for Himself,
And Israel for His peculiar treasure.
Blessed be the Lord out of Zion
Which dwelleth at Jerusalem,
  Praise ye the Lord."

But before all, or any, of this could be accomplished, He, the gracious Finder of the treasure, had to buy the "field" itself at the cost of all He had.

There is, however, a wider application. There can be no blessing for either the earth, Israel, or the Church, apart from the death of Christ, and just here comes in one of the special points of this parable. The Lord Jesus by His death has purchased all mankind. This truth is of world-wide application, and on this ground His messengers can go forth and proclaim an accomplished work on the ground of which men are besought to be reconciled to God.

The world to-day is still ruled over by the usurper Satan, and men love to have it so. The Lord when on earth spoke of the devil as the "prince of this world," and after the Lord had been rejected and crucified, Scripture calls Satan the "god of this world." In other words, men are willing to accept from Satan both their rule and their religion, hut it will not always be so. There is the earthly side as well as the heavenly side of the Kingdom. The earth, already purchased, will in that day be redeemed, and suitably prepared for the dwelling-place of saved Israel, under the New Covenant, and the nations who inhabit the millennial earth, for there shall come out of Sion the Deliverer, and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob.

Parable 6

But a further figure is required to set forth the unity and the beauty of those who compose the heavenly side of the Kingdom. This is found in the "One pearl of great price." And remark here that, in the previous parable, the finder of the treasure bought the field that contained it. But here the merchantman seeks to secure the pearl only. There is no question of its surroundings. The pearl is taken out entirely from the place in which it was, in order that it may become wholly the delight of the heart of the finder. The parable without doubt marks the special place which the assembly occupies in the counsels of God and in the mind of Christ.

It is impossible to overlook this, and almost impossible to overestimate it. There are four remarkable ways in which the saints of this dispensation are looked at in the New Testament.

If it is a question of relationship, they are called "children of God" (1 John 3:1).

If it is a question of responsibility for God upon the earth, they are looked at as the "House of God" (1 Tim. 3:15),

If it is a question of nearness and unity, they are spoken of as the "body of Christ" (1 Cor. 12:12).

If it is a question of their affection and of their participation in His glory in the day of display, when all the ways of God in grace with men will be manifested, then the company of redeemed ones are brought before us under the striking figure of the "Bride of Christ" (Rev. 19:7-9).

These are four different aspects of the assembly of God, but all setting forth in a remarkable way the place of nearness, relationship, and affection which the Church occupies. Here it is a question of its unity and beauty, hence the figure of ONE pearl of great price — loved, sought, and purchased. "Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it that he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, that he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that it should be holy and without blemish" (Eph. 5:26-27). "To her was granted that she should be arrayed in fine linen clean and white" (Rev. 19:8).

May there be the practical answer in the life and walk of every redeemed one, to that position of wondrous blessing in which grace has placed us, and in which in the day of glory we shall be displayed. We may well adore the grace that sought, the love that suffered, and the power that triumphed over all the forces of sin, death, and Satan: and the day is fast approaching when the full results of His mighty work will be manifested before the universe; and, at the name of Jesus, every knee shall bow to the glory of God the Father.

Parable 7

Still another similitude was needed to show the disciples the course of events at the close of that mysterious dispensation of the Kingdom of Heaven in the absence of the King, and this the Lord furnishes under the figure of the draw-net cast into the sea, and gathering of every kind. And in order to grasp the point of this, the closing parable, we need to keep in mind what has gone before.

At the beginning we see the Son of Man coming forth as the Sower. The results of the sowing are then given, and the general effects in the hearts of men. Next, the enemy is seen at work introducing the tares among the wheat; and this knowledge becomes a guide to the servants under the new and unexpected conditions. The next two parables give the developments of the foregoing conditions — evil men and evil teachings waxing worse and worse. But following these, Parables 5 and 6 show that which is hidden and real and that which the Lord's heart is set upon; whether the saved remnant of His ancient people under the new covenant, or the Church which is His Body — both are before Him — and every event in His dealings with men and nations is leading up to a complete fulfilment of all the irrevocable counsels of God on their behalf.

But there is still the question of the nations of the earth: manifestly the Kingdom of Heaven in its widest sense must include Israel, the Church, and the saved nations of the millennial earth. What events will lead up to, and what will ultimately determine the final separation of the "good" from the "bad"? This the Lord sets before us in His closing parable. And note here that, although there is a close similarity between this parable and that of the "tares," there is by no means a repetition. There the point and object of the teaching is, as already remarked, instruction for the servants for present need, in the light of the future, in what was to them an unexpected condition of things in the absence of the King. Here it is the grand results of the operations of grace, and the final assignment of every one to his own place, either in the Kingdom of Heaven, or — solemn thought — in the furnace of fire.

The figures employed are few and simple, but divinely expressive: —
A draw-net.
Cast into the sea.
"Every kind" gathered within its sweep.
When full, drawn to shore.
A sorting process, and
A separation.

The figure employed is of a net of the largest kind known or used by fishers. Where suitable circumstances permit, it may be as much as half a mile in length. Hence in its immense sweep it "gathers of every kind" — that is, of every species.

When, then, is the net cast, and of what is it a figure? Are we not reminded by it of Mark 1:1 "The beginning of the Gospel of Jesus Christ the Son of God," and also of verse 37 of our chapter, "He that sowed the good seed is the Son of Man." But while the casting of the net would seem to synchronise with the beginning of the Gospel, yet the net itself is of wider application than the Gospel as we understand it. May it not correspond to all the dealings of God with men from the time the Kingdom began to be preached until the time when the Son of Man comes in His glory, and before Him are gathered all nations. Cast into the "sea" (of the nations) would seem to indicate the worldwide scope of its operations. No longer Israel only, or even professing Christendom, but every nation under Heaven to whom, in a future day, the Gospel of the Kingdom will be announced. Thus, from first to last it may well be said to gather of every kind. It is evident that the "servants" do not draw the net. It is drawn when "full," and it is equally evident that it is not "full" yet, else the gospel day would be over indeed. The ending of this solemn scripture is given more fully in Matthew 25. It is the sessional judgment of the Son of Man. They "sat down," conveys the thought of orderly and deliberative selection. The "good" gathered into vessels. The "bad" cast out of the net. It is the final sorting out of those who had heretofore been going on together; alike perhaps in profession, but unlike in reality; and only the Lord Himself had omniscience and authority to decide.

Just as the Jew, according to the Mosaic law, (Lev. 11:9) separated the contents of his net, the "clean" from the "unclean," so, the Lord says, will it be at the end of this age. And this will be done by angelic ministry (verse 41). The wicked are cast into the furnace of fire. The righteous are safely preserved for the Kingdom, and they enter into all the blessings that accompany and follow the introduction of the reign of righteousness over the whole earth in the day of Messiah's glory.

What a wonderful unveiling of divine counsels these seven parables present. Fortified with this knowledge of the mystery of the Kingdom of Heaven, the believer can calmly survey all the varied phases which the great "harvest field" may present. He rests assured that, however contradictory things may appear, yet in spite of all the wickedness of evil men and all the opposition of Satan, God will assuredly bring to perfection every purpose of His counsels for the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.

How far the disciples "understood all these things" we do not know, but we may rest assured that when the Holy Spirit came down He would bring all things to their remembrance and guide them into all truth.

They already had information, in all its full and varied details, in the Old Testament Scriptures, as to the glories of the Kingdom, and what it would be in the day of its display. That which was "new," as to the Kingdom in the absence of the King, He had now taught them. They were to regard such knowledge as a precious thing to be "treasured," and "brought out" when occasion required. Just as an householder becomes a dispenser of good things to his guests, so were disciples to be in a world that knew not the grace of Christ.

Section 7. Matthew 14, 15.

Man's King and Man's Character Contrasted with God's King

The Holy Spirit in Matthew's Gospel delights to group events in, what we might call, a moral order, instead of a strictly historical order, and the result is that we get striking contrasts between the ways of God and the ways of men which we might otherwise overlook. It is so in the two chapters now before us.

But to go back for a moment to the last section, not the least remarkable thing in that remarkable chapter is that everything is viewed as in the absence of the King. But why was He absent? Departure from God and blindness of heart led the nation and its rulers to reject their King come in grace and power, as witnessed by His mighty works. And not only so, but the close of the chapter shows Him as the prophet of God despised and rejected in His own country. They might own His wisdom and His works of power. These they could not gainsay. But unbelief prevented them from sharing the blessings grace was willing to impart. Could unbelief go further than to see in Him only the "Carpenter's Son"? Nicodemus long before, with perhaps fewer opportunities of judging, had seen in Him "a teacher come from God," and owned that God was with Him. Of His own countrymen, it is said, "they were offended (stumbled) at him."

Now, at this point (Chap. 14) the Spirit turns back to recall events which had taken place previously, that is the circumstances connected with the murder of John, and to set before us THE Two KINGS.

CHRIST, in His compassion, power, and grace.

Herod, in his cruelty, lust, and pride.

In Matthew 15 we get the two hearts. The heart of man with its seven streams of incurable evil, and the heart of Christ yearning to bless, whether it be the poor of the flock in the land or one poor Gentile at the utmost borders of Israel.

In Matthew 14, then, we get in a short historical setting a vivid description of the moral corruption of things in Israel's land. Shortly, the case was this. Herod Antipas was a son of Herod, miscalled "the Great," of Matthew 2. He was the wicked son of a wicked father. At the death of Herod I. the kingdom was divided by the Romans, and Herod Antipas became "tetrarch" of Galilee, with the courtesy title of "king." He married a daughter of Aretas, King of Arabia, but afterwards made guilty overtures to Herodias, his brother Herod Philip's wife. Nothing loth, the profligate wanton responded, and the two were living in open sin.

The righteous reproof of the fearless prophet rankled in the revengeful heart of the wicked woman, and, when the opportunity arose, she was ready to embrace it, in order to satiate her hatred. Herod, in spite of his conscience, became a pliant tool in her guilty hands.

Herodias' daughter danced, and John the Baptist died.

Let a man but start on the downward road, and the devil is never at a loss for some one to put a hand on his back to push him on. So it was with Herod, and in such a setting Israel's ruler is shown to us. An oppressor, an adulterer, a proud boaster, and a murderer; and yet the king. It reveals how the very foundations of virtue were gone, and utter moral and spiritual corruption ruled in the kingdom of men. What marked Herod's dance, and every similar dance since, was the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eye, and the pride of life; and the end of these things is death.

Herod's case is a warning to all of the danger of trifling with the voice of conscience. Led on by the wiles of the devil, the hardening process grows apace, and a man soon finds himself performing actions, which a short time before he would have shrunk from with horror. Hazael, when warned by the prophet Elisha, could say, "Is thy servant a dog that he should do this great thing?" (2 Kings 8:13). Yet the very next day ambition led him to take the first guilty step in his downward career by murdering his master.

At the beginning of John's ministry we read that "Herod was the friend of John and kept him safe" (Mark 5:20, R.V.). He believed John to be "a just man and a holy," and this made his own actions all the worse, for they were done in the face of light. But it is one thing to give an outward assent to truth, while continuing in the practice of sin: it is another thing to have truth in the inward parts, changing both life and actions. The latter Herod never knew. He loved his sins. John's stern reproof was his last warning. Henceforth he became "that fox," and it was the Lord Himself who so entitled him (Luke 12:32).

In his short history we see man in sin and under the power of it. Man in his folly rejecting the last warning of the prophet of righteousness. Possibly John was the only man with sufficient moral courage to point out to Herod "all the evils which he had done" (Luke 11:19). Then, again, the moral weakness of the man comes out in his "fear of those that sat at meat with him." In short, Herod was what every man is by nature, afraid, before his ungodly companions, to do the right, but not ashamed to do the wrong.

What a remarkable contrast comes out in the man sent from God whose name was John.

His ministry was short, his message was short, his life was short; and there is little said about his history, but that little brings out in a wonderful way the lovely character of the Forerunner.

How beautiful is his humility! "I am the voice of one crying in the wilderness" (John 1:23). "The latchet of His shoes I am not worthy to stoop down and unloose" (Mark 1:7).

How great is his faithfulness! "Think not to say within yourselves we have Abraham for our father" (Matt. 3:8).

How absolute is his separation from the guilty nation and its more guilty leaders! "He came baptizing in the wilderness" (Mark 1:4).

How unflinching is his courage! and how tender his compassion for the poor and needy (Luke 3:11).

In every aspect of his character we see reflected some of the many beautiful traits which came out in perfection in his blessed Master. The Lord could say of him that he was "a burning and a shining light"; that "among those that are born of women there is not a greater prophet than John the Baptist" (Luke 7:28). But immediately after describing the elevated and outstanding position filled by the great Forerunner, the Lord adds the remarkable words, "He that is least in the Kingdom of God is greater than he."

John was rejected and slain. His Master was about to be treated in the same way, but the result of the Lord's atoning death would be to introduce a new order of things in Christianity, founded upon redemption and the purgation of sins, wherein would be manifested greater grace, fuller privilege, and more intimate nearness to God than ever could be known under the old economy of which John formed the last — if the greatest — prophet.

Everything in Judaism spoke of an unrent veil, and therefore of distance from God. Everything in the Kingdom of God is founded upon accomplished redemption. The VEIL is rent, and we have liberty to draw near. Yea, more, we are privileged to dwell where He dwelleth. Many believers, alas! are ignorant of this, and therefore they neither have settled peace in their hearts, nor yet can their lives present a consistent testimony.

By comparing Mark 6, Luke 9, and our present Scripture, we find that the mission of the twelve, sent forth in Matthew 10, expired about this time, and they returned to tell the Lord "all things both what they had done and what they had taught." John's disciples just about the same time come to Jesus also. These brave men for it requires courage to take sides with an apparently defeated man had boldly gone into Herod's dungeon to recover the outraged body of their martyred master, and with hearts full of grief had piously performed the last rites for the one they loved.

Now they come and tell Jesus.

Christ's disciples come to Him with their mission of success.

John's disciples come to him with their mission of sorrow.

There is a precious lesson here for disciples still. Whether it be success in service or sorrow in life, He is the One to confide in, and by so doing we shall find rest unto our souls. May we daily practice it till the changing scenes below end in the unchanging bliss of His presence on high.

The Lord's answer was to take them apart with Himself into a desert place near the city of Bethsaida on the shores of the lake. Doubtless the object was to seek opportunity in this seclusion for more intimate counsel and instruction for the disciples. But in any case the privacy was soon invaded by the multitude, who, at least, believed in His power, and were in earnest to secure blessing, for they brought their sick to His presence.

"And Jesus, moved with compassion" — nothing can exceed the beauty of this and what immediately follows. The Lord had just heard of, and doubtless sorrowed over, the death of John. At Nazareth, at the outset of His ministry, He had been met with open violence (Luke 4). On His recent visit to His own city of Capernaum He had been treated with rude contempt, yet nothing could stay the outflow of heavenly grace. He had compassion on the multitudes and healed their sick. It was the perfect contrast to Herod slaying the prophet.

And not only is His grace brought in in contrast to Herod's cruelty, but in the next few verses it is contrasted with the disciples' helplessness in the face of the needs of the multitude. It was not only that the disciples could not meet that need, but they could not even trust the Lord to do so. "Whence shall we buy bread that these may eat?" He said to Philip, "and this he said to prove him, for he himself knew what he would do" (John 6:5-6). Philip and the other disciples had come to an end of themselves, but, alas! not to a beginning of faith in their 'Waster, so their ready advice was to send away the multitudes. But He said, "Give ye them to eat," and they discovered that their whole resources were five loaves and two small fishes. Five barley loaves and two small fishes AND Christ were, however, resources enough for any number, had the disciples but known it.

Many disciples to-day are like what the disciples were then. They are ignorant of the resources of faith at their disposal, for they have never drawn upon them. The Christian life to them is a valley of Baca all the way, without any "wells," and seldom any "rain." Like the widow of Sarepta, they have only a handful of meal and a little oil, not nearly enough for themselves, much less to share it with others. But the day the widow went out to gather two sticks to prepare her last meal, and then die — that day was the beginning of a new life and a new experience. The word of the Man of God in the gate changed her objective. "Fear not," said he, "make me a little cake first" (1 Kings 16). Grace would lead her gently at first; and doubtless the prophet's cake grew larger as the woman's faith grew stronger But from that day she discovered that she had inexhaustible resources, and henceforth the famine was over in her experience. Her own needs abundantly supplied, she became a dispenser of blessing to others; and this is exactly what the Lord expects His children to be to-day. And having the "meal" and the "oil" (Christ our life, and the Holy Spirit the power of it) though living in a world of dearth and drought and death, we can and ought to be channels of blessing to others. "As Thou hast sent me into the world, SO have I also sent them into the world" (John 17:18).

But there is also the dispensational view of this chapter. The miracle of the "five loaves" is the only miracle recorded in all four Gospels. It is here a foreshadowing of what was spoken in Psalm 132. What marks the governments of to-day is that the people provide for the King. When Messiah reigns the King will provide for the people, and there will be neither grinding poverty, oppressive taxation, nor discontent. In our chapter we have an Edomite ruling in the land, and he a poor slave of the Romans, as well as a usurper and an oppressor. The true King is in the desert, but there He demonstrates His resources and His grace according to prophecy, "He shall satisfy his poor with bread."

The disciples embark. The multitudes depart. The Lord goes up into a mountain to pray.

Prayer expresses two things — dependence and submission. These two things come out everywhere in the life of the Lord as Man below. He was pre-eminently the Man of Prayer and the Pattern of Prayer.

On at least fourteen different occasions do we read of the Lord "alone praying."
1. At His baptism, "Jesus also being baptized and praying" (Luke 3:21).
2. At Capernaum, at the beginning of His ministry, "Rising up a great while before day" (Mark 1:35; Luke 5:167).
3. On the occasion of choosing the twelve apostles (Luke 6:12).
4. After the miracle of the loaves (Mark 6:46).
5. Before Peter's confession of Him as the Christ (Luke 9:18).
6. On the mount of transfiguration (Luke 9:28).
7. When He taught His disciples to pray (Luke 11:1).
8. When He raised Lazarus from the dead (John 11:41, 42).
9. The prayer in view of His sufferings (John 12:27).
10. The Lord's prayer (John 17).
11. His intercessory prayer for Peter (Luke 22:32).
12. The prayer in Gethsemane before His sufferings (given in Matthew, Mark, and Luke).
13. His prayer for His murderers when nailed to the Cross (Luke 23:34).
14. At His death, giving up His Spirit to His Father (Luke 23:46).

But in Matthew's Gospel the only recorded occasion of prayer (with the exception of Gethsemane) is in the chapter before us, and it is in keeping with the dispensational character of this Gospel. Rejected as King, the Lord has gone on high as Intercessor, and in the "fourth watch" He will come forth to succour and to save the distressed and storm-tossed remnant of Israel.

But there is also the present application. The Lord is on high. He is there executing His present service of grace, as our great High Priest and Advocate. He is praying for us, for while we are in this world we are in a scene of danger. The business of the world seeks to engross us. The pleasures of the world seek to attract us. The associations of the world seek to annex us. The opposition of the world seeks to hinder us. So we need the grace and power which He alone can impart. And He is watching over His people with that very end in view. "He saw them toiling in rowing" (Mark 6:48). But whatever the difficulties, and however contrary the winds may be, we can depend upon His watchful eye, powerful arm, and loving heart. "Light and truth" shall go before us (Ps. 43). "Goodness and mercy" follow after (Ps. 23). And the moment is fixed and may be very near when He will come to receive us to Himself, as later He will appear for the deliverance of His earthly people, whose hearts, turned to Him in repentance, will joyfully receive Him with songs of thanksgiving. The apostate nation was soon to cry, "Crucify him, Crucify him." In the coming day the converted remnant will say, "Lo, this is our God: we have waited for him" (Isa. 25:9).

But meantime the question is, "Can you walk on the water?" Peter did. We want to be more occupied with his success than with his failure. Affection for his Master led him out of the boat. Faith in his Master made him superior to nature. "He walked on the water to go to Jesus." The Red Sea and the Jordan were divided for Israel, as later, the same river was divided for the prophets Elijah and Elisha. But nowhere is there such a scene as this. It is a picture of a Christian walking through a world where everything is opposed to him, supported by power from on high. But the great point of the lesson is, that it is only as so supported, and only as depending on that support, that he can so walk. "Hold Thou me up," said the Psalmist, "and I shall be safe" (Ps. 119:117). And this Peter proved in his extremity, when he prayed the prayer that never fails to be answered on the spot" LORD SAVE ME."

If the beginning of Matthew 14 shows the works of men to be evil, Matthew 15 shows why they are so. The reason is, the heart is wrong. "Out of the heart proceed." Here we have hearts unveiled: verses 1-21 describe the heart of man, and it is seen to be incorrigibly evil. From verses 22-39 we gather something of the grace that was in the heart of the Lord Jesus. We see Him bringing blessing to one outside the circle of promise, healing all oppressed by the devil, and providing in the desert for "so great a multitude."

But the Jerusalem Scribes and Pharisees who had followed the Lord into Galilee, seeking to catch something out of His words that they might accuse Him, had no eyes and no heart for grace such as this. They made the common mistake that exterior things will do for God, and forgot that Satan can use even a religious system as a power for evil. The Lord showed them that their hollow formalism had led them into the much more serious evil of hypocrisy, proving from their greatest prophet, Isaiah (Isa. 29:13), that the tradition of men had led them into a course of action in direct contradiction to the Word of God. The subject is more fully developed in Mark 7. The gift (Corban) given to enrich the priest, instead of being employed to provide for the needs of relations, was only one of the "many such things they did." And although by doing so, they were disregarding the ties of nature, yet the priests, by their traditions, pronounced them to be free.

The moment men's opinions are brought in as a standard, there is distinct danger. Priestcraft, whether in Judaism, Roman Catholicism, or Protestantism, is ever fain to hark back to tradition to buttress up its own unscriptural positions; and thus its votaries are insensibly led to minimise the authority of the revealed mind of God over the conscience. May God save us all from such an insidious evil. It is an immense thing when the soul is guided by the direct Word of God alone, owning no intermediary whatever between itself and God.

The Lord next shows the cause of this condition of things, and takes occasion to charge home the fact of sin by the terrible exposure of the heart of man given in verses 19, 20.

Man's moral centre is the heart. Out of it proceed seven streams of deadly evil, showing the inward moral pollution which the history of fallen man, from Cain downwards, has abundantly proved to be true.

Now, this exposure is the very thing the natural man is averse to. His desire is to cover up everything under a fair show of religion and keep the evil out of sight. Hence the Pharisees were offended, and so is the natural man still. He will not believe that man is lost. Education, culture, environment, morality, surely these things can elevate and ennoble the man. That is the creed of the moralist to-day, just as it was of the Pharisees of old. But God says, "That which is born of the flesh is flesh," and nothing will do for God but a new creation. "Ye must be born again."

The Lord, after exposing the human heart, manifests the Divine love in the heart of God for sinners by walking over twenty miles to meet and bless one woman for whom Satan had done his worst. And here was a remarkable case. A "woman of Canaan" accosts the Lord and claims blessing from Him as the "Son of David." Now as Son of David, His relation to the Canaanite could only be judgment, for they were the race Joshua was commanded to root out of the land because of their terrible iniquity. But the incident is doubtless inserted here to show the only ground on which any of us can get blessing, and that is on the ground of free grace alone, for we are, as she was, but "sinners of the Gentiles" (Gal. 2:15). And so grace wrought in her heart until she was led to take the only place she could really lay claim to. Then mark the blessed result. She owned she deserved nothing, she would be thankful for anything, and she got everything her heart desired. Such are the ways of grace.

The faith of the Gentile may well be placed in contrast to the unbelief of the Jew. This woman owned His authority by calling Him Lord, and she prayed what we might call a companion prayer to that of Peter in Matthew 14; and, as in Peter's case, the answer was graciously given immediately.

And now the Lord, making a circuit round the extreme north of the land, continues His ministry throughout the region of Decapolis, on the east of the Sea of Galilee. This country was formerly inhabited by the half tribe of Manasseh, and at this time abounded with Gentile residents. The mixed population was looked upon with the greatest contempt by the southern Jews of Judea proper, who considered them a degree still lower than even Galileans. Yet even among these were found some of the poor of the flock, and to them the heart of the Lord went out in compassion. And so engrossed were they with His miracles of healing and His wonderful teaching that they abode with Him three days; and, after witnessing all His wonderful works, they might well exclaim, as Mark tells us, "He hath done all things well." Any food they may have brought was now exhausted, and the Lord proposes to His disciples the question of feeding the multitude before sending them away. At once the disciples see the difficulties, without seeing the resources. Did we not know something of our own hearts we should here be surprised. How shortly before had they seen the previous miracle of the multiplied loaves. Yet here their faith is not one whit greater. Still in patient grace the Lord continues to teach them as to the resources that were in Himself to meet every need for their service. Almost reluctantly, it would seem, they give the information that they have seven loaves for themselves, and a few small fishes. It is enough. With His blessing added, they will be able to supply the hungry multitude with enough and to spare. The feast began with seven loaves, and ended with seven basketfuls. The previous miracle (Chap. 14) was a proof that Messiah was present in the midst of His people according to the prophecy of Psalm 132, and the "twelve baskets" was indicative of perfect testimony to that event. The present miracle (Chap. 15) was a proof of the long-suffering grace of the Lord, that, though rejected by the nation, He still carried on His mission of mercy in their midst. It also looks on to millennium times, and the "seven baskets" speak of divine completeness and ample provision for every need.

There is much practical instruction in this section of our Gospel. In it we are taught, both by precept and example, man's utter ruin, morally and spiritually. Man's actions, prompted by his sinful fallen nature, are only evil continually. That which is of the flesh is flesh, though we are slow to learn it. But when the lesson is truly learned, we say with the apostle, "I know that in me, that is, in my flesh, dwelleth NO good thing." Now the soul is prepared to take sides with God against the flesh, and that is the first step in Christian liberty.

But not only is the evil heart of man exposed. The grace of Christ shines forth in greater beauty, if that be possible, against the dark background of a graceless world. He walks through it in moral dignity and holy separation. He is seen as the Heavenly Stranger upon the earth, feeding the hungry, succouring the needy, compassionating the despised ones, healing the sick, and bringing blessing to those who were afar off. This section begins with man's utter ruin and ends with God's perfect grace.

Section 8. Matthew 16, 17.

A Prophecy of the Church with a Glimpse of Kingdom Glory

"When the fulness of time was come, God sent forth his Son . . . that we might receive the adoption of sons. And because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, Abba Father." But even this, great and blessed though it is, is only preparatory to the supreme revelation that God has made of Himself, and to the place of blessing into which believers of the present time are introduced. This is set before the Ephesian saints as the mystery of His will now made known through the apostle, that in the dispensation (or administration) of the fulness of time He might gather together all things in one, in Christ. And then Paul prays that the saints may be brought into the knowledge of the position in which grace has placed them. His desire for them is that they might know: —
The hope of His calling.
The riches of His grace, and
The greatness of His power.

God has put all things under His feet, and given Him to be Head over all things to the Church, which is His body, the fulness of Him who fills all in all. To the Apostle Paul it was given "to complete the Word of God," and until the revelation of the mystery of the Church, the body of Christ, His counsels could not be fully known.

A glimpse of this wonderful subject comes before us in the section of our Gospel which we now reach. In it we have: —
1 The revelation of the Person of the Christ.
2 The confession of His Divinity by Peter.
3 The promise of the new thing — the Church — which He was about to build.
4 A glimpse of His glory as the One who would be the Administrator for God — Head over all things.
5 The Foundation on which everything would rest in righteousness.

We find here (Matt. 16:1) that Pharisees and Sadducees for the first time join their forces against the Lord. Bitterly opposed to each other both in their politics and their faith, they were united in their opposition to the Lord, and come to Him here only to have their ignorance and wickedness exposed. The solemn thing here is, that there is no longer either teaching or exhortation for them. They seek a sign and get a warning. Able to discern the face of the sky, they were unable, because unwilling, to discern the presence of the Lord in their midst, and if He was rejected, disaster (foul weather) must assuredly follow. The sign of the prophet Jonah could only add to their condemnation. He was, in type, a man out of death, preaching to the Gentiles, but before what that typified could take place, the nation of Israel must be set aside till the fulness of the Gentiles should be come. "And he left them and departed," as very soon He would leave the guilty nation, and that by the way of the Cross then, risen out of death, send the glad news of salvation and blessing far hence to the Gentiles.

But even the disciples had much to learn. They could not easily free themselves from the evil doctrines of the Pharisees, nor yet from the opinions of men as to the person of the Master.

This point the Lord is about to make clear to them, and in Matthew 16 there comes before us, in the first place: —

The revelation of the Person of the Christ.

Leaving the Sea of Galilee, the Lord journeyed with His disciples to the coasts of Caesarea Philippi. There, in that place of Gentile influence and display — for there Herod the Great had built a royal city in honour of the Emperor — He proposed to them the two great questions which laid bare the hearts of the men of that generation, and the heart of every man and woman since: —

1. "Whom do men say that I the Son of Man am?"

This, the first of these two questions, brought out two things. And taking the latter and more important first, He asserts that He is the Son of Man.

He was that sublime Person whom Daniel the prophet had portrayed on his mystic page, as coming to the Ancient of days and receiving "dominion, and glory, and a kingdom, that all peoples, nations, and languages should serve him: his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom which shall not be destroyed" (Dan. 7:14).

He had been rejected as Messiah. He would now take up His title of "Son of Man" and bring in blessing for all the earth.

Every title given to the Lord is of the deepest significance, whether in connection with His official, essential, or acquired glories, and they are ever used in a discriminating way. There are at least 350 such titles, and more might be found by the diligent student. In Matthew 16 we have (1) the Lord rejected as Messiah, (2) confessed by Peter as Son of Me Living God, and (3) soon to return in glory as Son of Man. Under this last title, as we have seen, He will dispense blessing world wide. Meantime He demands of His disciples what "men say" of Him, in order to demonstrate that the wisdom of men is but folly with God.

All alike are forced to own that He is some Great One, and their opinions range from the prophet of fire to the prophet of sorrow, but -none are able to see in Him the Sent One of God. This faith alone can discern; and when He demands an answer from His disciples to His second question: —

2. "Whom say ye that I am?"

Peter, taught of God, can answer, unhesitatingly, "Thou art the Christ, the Son of the Living God."

It is faith's unchanging answer to the question of the ages made good in the experience of every true believer.

This confession of Peter's is twofold.

By "The Christ," (Heb.) Messiah, (Eng.) the Anointed One, Peter is led to declare all the official glories which centred in Him as Man upon the earth. He was "The Woman's Seed," the Root and Offspring of David, the Son of Abraham, the Son of David, the Shepherd of Israel, and the Blesser of every Nation.

But in addition to what the Lord was as the Sent One of God, there was also revealed to Peter something of the personal and essential glories of the Eternal Son. He was the Son of the Living God. Peter, taught of God, is led to declare something of that divine mystery as to what the Lord was in His Person, Nature, and Being in relationship to God the Father. This is more fully developed in John 1, Phil. 2, Col. 1, Heb. 1: —
"In His Existence — Eternal."
"In His Nature — Divine."
"In His Person — Distinct."

He was the Word in all eternity — the Eternal Son of God.

This revelation to, and confession by, Peter gives occasion for the Lord to reveal now, for the first time in Scripture, the secret of the ages — His Assembly. He was about to begin a work of which nothing had ever been revealed to saint or prophet in Old Testament times (Eph. 3:4, 5; Col. 1:26) Under the new economy believers, indwelt by the Holy Spirit, would be builded together for a holy temple in the Lord. They would be "The Body," "The Bride," "The City." They would be holy and royal priests to God now, and co-heirs in the regal glory of the coming day. This building would be His work alone (Acts 2:47), and would be founded on what He was as Son of the living God, according to the confession made by the apostle.

No wonder, then, that the "gates of hell" — all the adverse powers of the unseen world — would not prevail against it. To destroy her, Satan has used his utmost endeavour; the greatest of earthly powers have exhausted all their resources; but the true Church of God continues to triumph over every foe, and continues to point dying men to her risen, living, and glorified Lord, her Head on high, with whom she is united by the Holy Spirit.

The Father calls, the Spirit unites, the Lord builds; and not man, angel, or demon can hinder that constructive work of the Son of the living God the formation of His Church, which is, while in the world, the "pillar and ground of the truth."

Following on Peter's confession, we get Peter's commission. To this warm-hearted disciple was given the "Keys of the Kingdom of Heaven." That is to say, in figurative language, that into that new economy about to begin on earth, Peter would have the honour of introducing both Jew and Gentile, as we find later in the history of the Acts he did (see Acts 2 and Acts 10). And further, we learn from Matt. 18, that this same power of "binding and loosing" was afterwards conferred upon the whole company of the disciples.

But we must keep in mind that it was the "Keys of the Kingdom of Heaven" that were given to Peter; not the keys of the Church (if there be such), in spite of all that either Anglican or Romanist may say to the contrary. In the Book of Acts, Peter preached Jesus as "Lord" and "Christ," both titles distinctly connected with the Kingdom of Heaven, and by these names of authority he commanded the Jews to own His rights, bow to His claims, and be baptized in His Name (Acts 2). Similarly, in the centurion's house, after Peter had learned the great lesson that all earthly distinctions of clean and unclean had been abolished, and when he had seen the Holy Spirit poured out upon the Gentiles, he commanded them to be baptized in the Name of the Lord (Acts 10:48).

Peter's ministry never goes beyond this. To another servant was committed a further revelation as to the mystery of the Church, and Paul, immediately after his conversion, began to preach Jesus as "The Son of God" (Acts 9:20). This is the first time we get this title in Acts (Chap. 8:37, it should be noted, is, according to the best authorities, not in the original text).

But, returning to our chapter, we here find (Matt. 16:21) a striking dispensational change. The disciples are commanded no longer to testify of Him as the Messiah. As such He had been rejected. For Him there was to be at this time no national recognition of His just rights and divine authority. Instead of a Crown, the nation was about to give Him a Cross. Instead of a palace, a grave. "From that time forth began Jesus to show unto his disciples that he must go unto Jerusalem, and suffer many things of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised again the third day (verse 21). Only on the ground of death and resurrection could there be either earthly blessing for the Jew, or heavenly blessing for the Christian; and, had Peter known this, he would never have taken upon him to "rebuke" the Lord as he did. Israel will be associated with Him in the day of earthly glory. The Church, on the other hand, will be associated with Him in heavenly glory, but meantime she shares with Him in His earthly rejection. We have this lesson to learn in a practical way, and so the injunction to every disciple to take up his cross and follow Jesus. The man with a cross on his back being led to the place of execution was finished with the earth for ever. So the figure is here used of the Christian's relationships to things of the world. The believer is dead to sin (Rom. 6:11), dead to the law (Rom. 7:4), and dead to the flesh (Rom. 8:9); but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord (Rom. 6:11), and, in the power of resurrection life, he stands fast in the liberty wherewith Christ has made him free. He shares with Christ now, in His rejection, as he will share with Him, by and by, in His glory. The world, under Gentile rule, crucified the Son of God, and is fast going on to judgment. The Kingdom of Heaven, in the hands of men, is fast hastening to that terrible climax when it will be seen to be a "cage of every unclean and hateful bird" (Rev. 18:2, compare Matt. 13:32). But before that moment arrives, when "the whole will be leavened," the Lord Himself shall descend (1 Thess. 4), and His waiting Church will be called up to meet Him in the air. Even so, Come, Lord Jesus. Afterwards, as the Son of Man, He will come in the glory of His Father, with His holy angels, and then shall He reward every man according to his works. A glimpse of this Kingdom glory the Lord was now about to give to the three disciples specially chosen to be witnesses of it.

It is a feature of the dealings of God with His people, that He often delivers them from present things whether it be the sufferings, the trials, or the glories of earth — by bringing in the light of the future. So with Stephen amidst his murderers: so with Paul, who counted present sufferings not worthy to be compared with the glory that should follow. On the other hand, Moses was enabled to forsake the glory of Egypt and endure as seeing Him that is invisible, and when the disciples were becoming occupied with the magnificence of their earthly temple, the Lord dispelled their illusion by setting before them the startling truth that the time was near when not one stone would be left upon another.

The disciples here, had had their first lesson in Cross-bearing. The Lord was now (Chap. 17) about to give them a glimpse of the time when the Crown-wearing would begin. The Father had revealed the glory of the Son to their minds. He was now about to reveal it to their eyes. Later on (2 Peter 1:17) Peter would set the glory before the eyes of suffering saints as salvation ready to be revealed at the appearing of Jesus Christ," reminding them also, that he himself had already been an eyewitness of that glory when with Him in the holy mount.

And with the Lord were seen Moses and Elias, talking with Him (as Luke tells us) of His decease which He should accomplish at Jerusalem. These two blessed men, already in their glorified bodies are talking with the Lord Jesus upon that very subject — His death — on which their present blessing was founded. And so when at home in the glory, the very delights of Heaven will only cast our minds backwards with ever-increasing awe and wonder to THE CROSS on which the Lord of Glory died. There was laid in righteousness the foundation upon which all the grace and glory of God will be displayed, whether in righteously saving sinners of the Gentiles, or righteously gathering out of His Kingdom all things that offend and them that do, iniquity, and casting them into a furnace of fire.

These two honoured servants were also doubtless representative of those, who, in the coming day will "shine forth as the sun" (Chap. 13:43). Moses, a type of those dead and raised again at the first resurrection; Elias, of those translated without tasting death, which will be the happy experience of those "who are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord" (1 Thess. 4:15). And, in addition, there were present in this display of Kingdom glory, the three chosen disciples, typical surely of the nations who walk in the light of the city (Rev. 21:24). The men of the earth will be blessed upon the earth, under the reign of righteousness of the Son of Man.

Well might Peter say, "It is good for us to be here," and well had he said no more. Yet Peter's mistakes only bring fuller revelations, and the Father's voice is heard in testimony to the Son.

The mental attitude of the devout Jew was summed up in the words, "we are Moses' disciples"; and nothing but the voice of divine authority could convince the disciples that a "greater than Moses was here." The glory cloud overshadows the mount. Moses and Elias depart, and the Son of Man descends from the mount — to suffer. He might have ascended to reign, but how then could the Scriptures have been fulfilled?

It is interesting to notice that at the four lowest points, if we may so say, to which the Lord went in grace, we get Heaven's appreciation visibly expressed. Thus, at His humble birth, the angel host came down with the message of peace and goodwill. When He took a place beside the repentant remnant and went down into the waters of. Jordan, Heaven was opened, and the Holy Spirit descended upon Him. At the close, when He bowed His head in death, and it seemed as if the enemy had triumphed after all, then we read of rending rocks, and quaking earth, and opening graves. And so here, though finally rejected and disowned as King of the Jews, yet Heaven owns Him, and the Voice of the Father proclaims Him as, "My Beloved Son," adding the expressive words, "Hear Him."

Peter, in haste to honour the heavenly visitors, would put all on the same level, but he had to learn what Christendom has not learned yet, that the day of both Lawgiver and Reformer had gone by. What could law do for lost sinners? Only condemn them. What men need is regeneration, not reformation — "Ye must be born again."

And in the "Beloved Son," there would be a revelation of God far and beyond any yet given through Old Testament servants, however great these may have been. In Him, God would be known as Father, and to know the Son would be to know the Father also.

Coming down from the mountain the Lord warns His disciples to "tell no man." Further testimony to His Messiahship could only add further condemnation to those who deliberately rejected Him. The shadow of the Cross was fast darkening across His pathway. A few short months, and all that was written of Him would be fulfilled. But the vision would be a stimulus to the disciples' faith in view of the fact that they would soon be compelled to he the helpless witnesses of His Crucifixion; and the conviction was being gradually forced upon their unwilling minds that there would be no throne for Him in Jerusalem at this time at least. Their great object now was that He should escape that Cross of which He had so recently spoken. Hence their unwillingness to accompany Him on the last journey to the city (see John 11).

The hope of the earthly glory was dying out of their hearts. The dread that He might be taken and slain oppressed them. Faith in the word He had spoken that He would rise again, had, as yet, no place in their hearts. But deep and true affection for their beloved Master comes out in the few simple words in verse 23 — "They were exceeding sorry."

Now, as they tried to reconcile Old Testament prophecy with this new teaching as to His death, they ask a question which gives occasion for the Lord to open up Scripture both for them and for us: —

"Why then say the Scribes that Elias must first come?" If the Son of Man is to be slain, where is the mission of Elias, who is to come as the restorer, before the great and terrible day?

And the Lord shows them that in the spirit and power of Elias, John the Baptist had come, fulfilling Isaiah's prophecy of a rejected and suffering Forerunner, introducing a rejected and suffering Messiah. Malachi's prophecies will yet be fulfilled by the prophet of fire, before the great and terrible day of the Lord come; and more signal success will attend his mission in the days of Antichrist than ever attended it in the days of Ahab, great though that was.

But, best of all, immediately following it the conquering and glorified Lord Himself will appear — no longer now as the Star of Bethlehem, but as the Sun of Righteousness "with healing in his wings." What promise of fulness of blessing is contained in that one word — healing. It is just what this poor earth stands most in need of, after centuries of sin and strife, ruin, and want, and war.

But if disciples on the mountain top were learning the secrets of Heaven as to the glory of the future, disciples in the plains below were face to face with the power of the devil. If those in the mount saw the King in His beauty and had visions of God, those below saw but the results of Satan's handiwork in the case of the lunatic son, sore vexed.

Now, so far. the believer of to-day is in both these positions. On the mountain top the Kingdom glory is present to faith, but as to experience, we meet with the power of Satan in evidence in the world every day. He has been defeated, but he is not yet expelled from the scene of his usurpation. And we do well to mark that the cause of the disciples' failure to cast out the demon was their want of faith. This, on the other hand, brings out the deeply important principle that the man of faith is superior to all the power of evil. If it be the world in its ways, or its influence, or its oppression — "this is the victory that overcometh the world — our faith" (1 John 5:4) If it be the direct assaults of Satan, he can be resisted, if we be "steadfast in the faith" (1 Peter 5:9). Here the disciples at the foot of the mountain were out of touch with the Lord above, and there was failure on their part, as there must ever be for us all, under like conditions. Neither is it any guarantee that because a man overcomes at one time, he may not fail before the same difficulty on another occasion. These same disciples had doubtless met cases just the same before (see Chap. 10). Why, then, had they failed here? Because, there they went in the power of the Master, here they went in their own power. "Why could not we cast him out?" they ask. Later on they would learn the great lesson of John 15:5, "Without me ye can do nothing." The two grand principles, against which all the power of Satan is harmless, are prayer and fasting; for prayer brings God in, and fasting puts flesh out, and where there is self-emptiness, and divine fulness, there will ever be overcoming power.

The closing incident in Matthew 17 really comes within the scope of the next section, but we notice it here in order to keep within the present arrangement of chapters. It is also a beautiful introduction to that which characterises the next portion of our Gospel. For while the believer is placed by grace in the highest possible position as a child of God, even while here, yet the same grace enables him to walk through this world seeking no place in it, and accepting no place from it, other than the place given to the Lord Himself — that of being both despised and rejected. And just in proportion as he is true to the Lord, so will he find that the world will treat him as it treated his Master. Here we find that this truth is developed as the outcome of Peter's hasty assumption that the Lord, as a good Jew (for Peter's appreciation of the Lord here rises no higher), would necessarily pay the temple tribute.

But the Lord takes occasion to teach Peter three lessons.

First, that when the kings of the earth levy tribute, they take it from strangers: their own children are free.

Second, that He, though He was the Son of. God and Lord of the temple, yet claimed no right and demanded no place, but maintained His position of lowly grace, and was willing to be treated, even as the kings of the earth treat "strangers," as indeed He was — the Heavenly Stranger upon the earth. And

Third, He would associate with Himself, His followers, providing for them at the same time and meeting every need of their pathway.

Here, as in other places, our Gospel testifies to the eternal power and Godhead of the Lord Jesus. The following list might be greatly extended.
1 His power over Satan (Chap. 4:4).
2 His power over disease (Chap. 4:23).
3 His power over demons (Chap. 4:24).
4 His power over the elements (Chap. 8:26).
5 His power to forgive sins (Chap. 9:6).
6 His power over death (Chap. 9:24).
7 His power to increase the provision (Chap. 14, 15).
8 His power over creation (Chap. 17:27).
9 His power to foretell the future (Chap. 24:25).
10 All Power in Heaven and in earth (Chap. 28:18).

Now all this is very blessed, for it shows that all the power of God is for the believer now, as to the difficulties of his pathway, and it is a matter of individual experience in a scene where everything is against him.

But when the Kingdom comes in manifested glory, then will be seen the full display of all that of which we have had but glimpses.

If it be a question of Satan, the accuser of the brethren, he will be bound for a thousand years (Rev. 20:2).

If it be a question of evil men, they will be gathered out of His Kingdom (Chap. 13:41).

If it be a question of disease, "the inhabitant shall not say 'I am sick'." (Isa. 33:24).

Then Creation itself will undergo a remarkable change: the very nature of the wild beast will be transformed, until the wolf and the lamb shall feed together (Isa. 65:25).

Under present conditions, the peoples of the earth are taxed to maintain their kings but in that day the order will be reversed. The King will maintain His people, according to the prophecy of Ps. 132:15.

Thus, then, the believer walks through this world in the conscious knowledge that he belongs to the Kingdom of Heaven: that when the Son of Man comes again in power and great glory to establish His rights over the whole earth, he will come with Him, and reign with Him. Surely in the light of these heavenly truths, we may well walk through this world as those, who, though in it, are not of it, for we have been saved out of it and are here only to witness for our absent Lord in this the day of His rejection.

Section 9. Matthew 18-23.

The Characteristics of those who enter the Kingdom, the Responsibility of those connected with it, and God's way of bringing Men into it: The King presented, and the Leaders of Israel morally judged

We have now reached, in the history of our Gospel, the last winter of our Lord's ministry here below.

By comparing the other Gospels, we find that much patient service and gracious teaching were crowded into these few closing days.

At least two visits to Jerusalem were made between this time and the day when the last journey began. From Galilee He went up privately (John 7) for the Feast of Tabernacles, which took place in the seventh month of the Jewish sacred year — Tisri, corresponding to our September October and the narrative in John's Gospel, Chapters 7-9, details the events which then took place.

The ever-increasing enmity of the Jews led Him to retire from the city at this time, but from John 10:22, we learn that He paid another visit to Jerusalem at the Feast of the Dedication, which was held in the month of Chisleu, or about the beginning of December. When the Jews again sought to take Him, He went away beyond Jordan into the place where John at first baptized, and there He abode (John 11:46).

This period would seem to correspond with that of Matthew 19:1, and here, "in the wilderness of Judea" (Chap. 3:1), the Lord spent the few remaining months of His earthly sojourn.

Let us follow Him with reverent footsteps and share in the precious ministry of the Kingdom vouchsafed to all who drew near.

If Matthew 17 gives us a glimpse of Kingdom Glory, Matthew 18 reveals to us something of the moral atmosphere that should exist in that Kingdom into which men are born from above.

The Lord shows that meekness, grace, and forbearance should characterise the disciple, even as these, and every other grace, shone forth in perfect display in the Master. In our chapter we have this teaching developed, and it is further enforced by the parable of the two debtors, and the discipline measured out to him who failed in grace in his dealings with his fellow-servant.

The broad outlines of Matthew 18 are: —
1 The Way into the Kingdom (verse 3).
2 Unsparing Self Judgment as to Walk and Ways (verse 8).
3 The Spirit of Grace to be manifested by every child of the Kingdom (verse 15).
4 The Centre of Gathering (verse 18).
5 The Great Lesson of Forgiveness enforced (verse 22).
6 And Illustrated (verse 23).

The Lord's teaching is ever both formative and corrective, and both are needed by the believer.

"All scripture is given by inspiration of God and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: that the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works" (2 Tim. 3:16). Of this, surely, apostles stood in need; and in these closing counsels the Lord was fitting them for the position they would have to fill when He was no longer with them in the flesh. Then, with opened understandings, and the indwelling Spirit to bring all things to their remembrance, they would be able to bring forth from their treasures things both new and old.

In the present case (Matt. 18:1) the disciples had apparently been unable to settle among themselves the ever-recurring question as to what qualification entitled a man to be great in the Kingdom of Heaven. Their minds were ever hankering after earthly greatness, as men in the flesh, and so far, they seemed to have grasped divine things in but a very feeble way.

In correcting their mistaken ideas, the Lord begins at the very foundation, and shows that so far from ambition and self-seeking giving them a high place in the Kingdom, these things would prevent them altogether from even entering into it. The very first essential would be to lay aside all these and be converted. Not, of course, that the disciples were not converted, but it is the broad principle of entrance with which the Lord is dealing. To manifest the new nature, men must have the new life, and this truth needs to be enforced to-day, as much as ever it did, if not more so. There never was a time when the foundation truths of the Gospel were more insidiously attacked than at the present moment. Men point to the life of the Lord Jesus as our example, while denying the necessity of His death as an atonement for sin. Such teaching is deadly error. That perfect holy life, apart from that vicarious death, could only show the sinner the extent of his failure, and add to his condemnation. Moreover, far from being able to imitate it, he is unable even to take the very first step, for he has no desire to do so. They that are in the flesh cannot please God. Every blessing for man must begin with the death of Christ; for, except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone. The Lord might have stepped back into the glory from any point of His earthly pathway, but if so He would have been in that glory alone as far as the sons of earth were concerned. But "the Son of Man must be lifted up." There must be a work done for us, and we "must be born again." There must also be a work done in us, and all is brought about by the sovereign grace of God alone.

This, then, is Conversion, and everything in Christianity begins here. Let us mark it well. The character of one thus born again, the Lord illustrates by the little child. The child is simple, loving, forgiving, truthful, trustful, and humble. All this should come out in the character of the one who is turned from Satan to God; from sin to holiness. David's mighty men were great in the earthly kingdom according to their great deeds in war and in the overthrow of their foes. But in the Kingdom of Heaven the very opposite of this subsists. The truly great in this wonderful new dispensation are marked by the spirit of meekness, gentleness, and faith. And as these very characteristics would naturally lead the one who manifested them to be oppressed by the world, the Lord immediately warns as to what would be the fate of those who so "offended" them. And so it will be, though the world little realises it. If it could be said of His ancient people that He "kept him as the apple of his eye" (Deut. 32:10), shall His care be less over us?

Next the subject of self-judgment is dealt with in the most solemn way possible. It is a question of responsibility in the Kingdom to manifest the character of the King. Nothing short of "Be ye holy for I am holy," is to be the believer's standard, and in order that nothing of flesh may come out in our ways, the very beginnings of sins in our members are to be checked.

Doubtless the Kingdom is here viewed in its broadest aspect, and men are looked at on the ground of their outward profession. If a man is walking in the ways of his heart and in the lust of his eyes, there is no proof at all that he is converted, and though in the Kingdom by profession, there is no assurance that he may not end in hell-fire.

The place occupied by children, in the economy of grace, the Lord next illustrates, using the child He had called to Him in verse 1 as an object lesson.

Even disciples might think lightly of children, and despise them; and in the kingdoms of earth they have little weight. But the Lord lifts the veil for a moment and gives us a glimpse into the unseen. "Their angels do always behold the face of my Father which is in Heaven." They are not innocent, neither are they hardened in sin. But they are lost, because come of a fallen race; yet the Son of Man has come to save them, and it is not the Father's will that one of them should perish. The joy of the shepherd expresses the delight of the Great Shepherd, and His joy in saving the lost. Lost because Adam sinned. Saved because Jesus died.

In verses 15 to 20 we next get the most important guidance as to the course of action to be taken when sin is manifested in another. The early part of the chapter instructs as to personal holiness Here the question is, "If thy brother trespass [against thee]." The last two words are of doubtful authority here, while their place and importance in verse 21 will be seen later. Here it is the broad aspect of a brother "sinning." What then? Love, not law, is to be set in motion, the object being the recovery of the erring one, that the name of Christ may not be dishonoured in the world.

But, oh, what grace is needed here. To go to such a one in the spirit of self-righteousness and superiority, will only tend to harden him in his sin. The "meekness and gentleness of Christ" (2 Cor. 10:1) are required by the under shepherds in a very special way when they have work like this to do. And they have need also of the apostle's exhortation, to consider themselves, lest they also be tempted (Gal. 6:1).

But progress in the path of departure is not easily checked. It is possible that the individual personal dealing of the one who alone knew of the sin may be disregarded. If so, it becomes necessary to take "one or two more with thee, that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established." With the failure of these, if they fail, the privacy of the matter ends. Sin cannot be ignored. The holiness of God's house demands that it should be dealt with. "If he shall neglect to hear them, tell it unto the church." Here the importance of the witnesses come in. They are able to give a faithful report of every word, said both to him, and by him, and by their testimony every word is established. If he neglect to hear the Church, the Church, as the custodian of the rights of God on earth, will have to deal in righteous discipline with the unrepentant one, and no longer accord him the place his sin has unfitted him to fill. "Let him be unto them as an heathen man and a publican." And this action of the assembly will be ratified in Heaven, either in "binding" the sin upon the guilty one, or in "loosing" him from it, when there is evidence of true repentance and restoration of soul to God.

Now, in all this, the Lord is speaking anticipatively. In Matthew 16 He had spoken of "My Church," but there the expression comprises every believer from Pentecost to the Coming. Here, for the first time in scripture, we get a local assembly mentioned, and connected with it are the foundation principles upon which such a gathering rests.
1 Its CENTRE of gathering is the Lord Himself. Believers are gathered "unto His name."
2 LOVE is the ruling principle in the intercourse of its members, one with another; and
3 HOLINESS characterises its testimony in the world, to ensure which, the Lord promises His Presence, His Authority, and His Approval of what is done in His Name.

Mark the grace that condescends to be "in the midst" of the "two or three," so gathered. Encouragement in prayer is in the same connection, for be it remarked that all Answered prayer is Conditioned prayer. Mark 11:24; John 14:13, John 15:7, John 16:23, 24; 1 John 3:22, further develop this deeply-important subject.

Peter's question in verse 21 gives occasion for the Lord to bring out in the most beautiful way the absolute superiority of grace over every form of evil. You cannot offend a truly gracious man, for he refuses to take offence. You cannot take down "a truly humble man, for he is already down. All that may be done against such a one, only the more brings out the grace that is in him, and the more others seek to do him evil, the more he desires their good.

And this not "seven times" only, but without end. Jewish Rabbins had said that forgiveness was to be extended three times to the repentant brother. Peter is willing to extend it seven times, but the Lord says in effect, "How great is the restoring grace of God, and how often has it been extended to you? If you are in the sense of that grace, manifest it to others without any limits. If he trespass against thee seven times in a day, and seven times in a day turn again to thee, saying, I repent; thou shalt forgive him" (Luke 17:4).

But there is the other side. If grace be not manifested, God will deal in government with the one who so fails, and in the end, it may be shown by his final and eternal condemnation, that he was never in the Kingdom at all, except on the mere outward ground of profession only. This the parable of the Unmerciful Servant teaches us.

It will be noticed that in this section (Chaps. xviii to 23) there are four different kinds of parables. Five parables in all.
1 The Unmerciful Servant (Chap. 18) teaches us Responsibility in the Kingdom.
2 The Labourers in the Vineyard (Chap. 20) teaches us that God is Sovereign, and maintains His rights as being such.
3 The Two Sons, and the Wicked Husbandmen (Chap. 21) declare the setting aside of Israel; and
4 The Marriage of the King's Son (Chap. 22) shows God's way of bringing men into the Kingdom.

Our chapter deals with the first of these subjects. But it may be well to notice at the outset, before looking at this great object lesson of Forgiveness, that there are three aspects of Forgiveness in Scripture: —

1) Forgiveness for Sinners, or Eternal forgiveness, is received, and should be enjoyed by every believer. But many do not enter into it. Some hope for it. Some think that they were once forgiven, but may lose it again. Others suppose they are partly forgiven. God says, "I write unto you children, because your sins are forgiven you for His Name's sake" (1 John 2:12).

GRACE provides it. The BLOOD procures it. The SPIRIT proclaims it. FAITH appropriates it. Because God has spoken, I am sure.

Three things follow: —
1 It produces Happiness. "Blessed (happy) is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered" (Ps. 32:1).
2 It produces LOVE. "Much forgiven, the same loveth much" (Luke 7:47).
3 It produces holy fear. "There is forgiveness with thee, that thou mayest be feared" (Ps. 130:4).

2) Forgiveness for BELIEVERS, or restorative Forgiveness.

When we were converted, we were received into the family of God and became children. Confession of our many failures restores to us the joy of forgiveness, and we remain happy children. Instructions to railwaymen are that "when a train breaks down, report to headquarters." So must we. "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness" (1 John 1:9).

3) Governmental Forgiveness is what the parable in this chapter deals with, and closely connected with it is the supreme importance and necessity of forgiveness by believers of each other. Any other attitude is contrary to the whole spirit of Christianity, and there is no evidence that the man who cherishes an unforgiving spirit is a Christian at all. Having been forgiven our "great debt," we ought to forgive each other without limit. To do otherwise is to grieve the Holy Spirit of God.

But there is also the dispensational aspect of this parable.

"The King" is God. The "Great Debtor," Israel. "The Debt," all the privileges and blessings they had received from God ever since they became a nation. For the "taking account" compare Matthew 3:10. The axe was then at the root of the tree. The "patience" following first on His three years' ministry among them, and again on His prayer for them on the Cross — "Father, forgive them" — was extended down to Acts 7.

The "hundred pence" debtor may represent the Gentiles. The attitude of the Jew towards the

Gentiles and towards God is shown in many passages in the Acts. Compare Chapters 7:51, 13:45, 14:2, 17:5, 21:27, 22:21, 28:28, and it is finally summed up in 1 Thessalonians 2:15: —
1 They killed the Lord Jesus.
2 And their own prophets.
3 They persecuted the Apostles
4 They please not God.
5 They were contrary to all men.
6 Forbade to preach to the Gentiles, and thus they filled up their sins so that wrath is come upon them to the uttermost. In the words of the parable, they have been "sold" — cast into the prison of the nations, as they are to this day, and will be until the time spoken of in Isaiah 40, when the punishment of the guilty nation will be completed, her warfare accomplished, and her iniquity pardoned.

There is here indeed a solemn warning to every servant, in every dispensation to walk in love, humility, and lowliness; forgiving from the heart every one his brother their trespasses.

Two words give the secret of the unmerciful servant's failure. He "went out" from the presence of his Master. In a spiritual sense this will always mean failure. To abide in the light is to abide in communion with the Father and the Son. May this ever be our happy experience, and so shall our "joy be full." Matthew 19 may be divided into four parts: —
1 Marriage.
2 The Little Children.
3 Creature Goodness; and
4 Discipleship.

Here we come, in the first place, to the Lord's teaching as to the relationships of nature which had been established by God Himself, and which, being of divine origin, and being ordained "from the beginning" must necessarily continue to exist in the Kingdom.

The Pharisee's question — "Is it lawful for a man to put away his wife for every cause" — was put with no desire on their part to accept from Him an authoritative ruling on the subject, but only to entrap Him into taking sides in the great "divorce controversy" then raging. A school of Jewish Rabbins were busy endeavouring to undermine the law of God, given through Moses, and provide scope for the carnal passions of men to work unchecked. The door had been opened wide enough to allow of "many causes" instead of the one, but all so trifling that the Lord refuses even to take notice of them. So may we. The great point is established that marriage, as originally instituted by God Himself in Eden, subsists in the kingdom on earth; and if the man and the woman act according to the spirit of that kingdom, there will neither be the occasion nor the need for separation between them.

It is God's order for man in nature, and it is an evidence of the greatest human love. But it is more. It is a type of the most wonderful thing in the universe, and that is — Christ and the Church.

The Pharisees endeavour to quote Moses against the Lord, but He at once shows them that Moses, instead of condemning Him, condemned them. Moses, because of the hardness of your hearts, suffered — not commanded — her to be put away. Here, as on another occasion, Moses, instead of becoming their vindicator, becomes their accuser and judge. "There is one," the Lord says, "that accuseth you, even Moses, in whom ye trust" (John 5:45). It is ever a dangerous thing for a sinner to take his stand upon the law, which can only expose and condemn him with no power to pardon and forgive.

Now, the disciples' comment on this teaching brings out another phase of wrong-thinking. The Pharisees would have marriage with all the licence that their loose morals craved for. The disciples, if marriage was to be without these liberties, would argue that, "it is not good to marry." But this was to contradict the very words of God. At the beginning He had said, "It is not good that man should be alone," and this ruling still exists. Christianity may produce in some that which is beyond nature, and for the Kingdom of Heaven's sake a man may have a special gift so to abide.

Nothing is more illustrative of the tender grace of the Lord than His attitude towards the little ones, and nothing can be more encouraging for all who have to do with such, be it either parent or teacher. He had already taught (Chap. 18) that what should mark the one who was in the Kingdom was that which did mark the child. Here the further truth is revealed, that such are in the Kingdom. Who brought the little ones to the Lord we are not told, but it is clear that having come themselves they had faith to bring their children also. And this faith the Lord honoured. They sought that He would put His hands on them and pray. He did more. He took them up in His arms, put His hands upon them, and blessed them (Mark 10). Not only was He willing to invoke the blessing; but, being Himself the Blesser, He was able to bless. So it ever is where there is real faith. "He is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think" (Eph. 3:20).

But if the Lord graciously responded to the claims of faith, the Spirit of God, on the other hand, gives us to know His attitude towards even His own disciples when they misrepresented Him. They rebuked those who brought the children. He rebuked them, and so much was the spirit they manifested opposed to the spirit of the Kingdom that, as Luke tells us, "He was much displeased" (Luke 18). Still seeking for honour and place, they thought to find it in being the disciples of so great a Rabbi. Alas! how little they knew as yet either His true greatness or that spirit which marks the truly great. This lesson He was now about to teach them (Chap. 20:26). But before that they got an object-lesson as to the real value of all earthly things, be it either riches or rank, and as a result, there had to be in their case a revaluation of values in the light of Heaven, if they would arrive at that which was the current coin of the Kingdom.

The Rich Young Ruler to whom we are now introduced was no common man. As far as this world went he had everything that it values, and he was everything that it respects.

He was a religious man, a ruler or judge among the people. He had money, friends, position, and influence. He did all that the law commanded, as far as he understood it, and he was sincere in thinking that by the deeds of the law he could enter into life. In short, he is set before us as the best that nature could produce, but the Lord has now to show him, and us too, that nature's best is not good enough for God. To do so He brings the true inwardness of the law to bear upon his heart and conscience. If he really loved his neighbour as himself, why not share with him in all he possessed? Put in this way, the idol of riches in his heart is exposed, and in spite of what he professed his failure is manifest, for "he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen" (1 John 4). And this young man had professed to love both God and his brother.

Verse 21 is not the Gospel; it is the Lord exposing the young man's heart to himself. The Gospel is not "give up" this or that, but take Christ, and with Him pardon, forgiveness, and life; peace, power, and joy.

But with Him also the Cross; and, at this saying, the rich young man was very sorrowful. Treasure in heaven doubtless he would receive, for the "Good Master" had said it. But treasure in heaven was far away, and to him but visionary. His own riches on earth seemed to him both real and tangible, but alas! he forgot the thief of time who would ultimately steal both them from him and him from them.

"And Jesus beholding him loved him" (Mark 10). It is one of the most interesting stories in the Gospels: also one of the saddest. Instead of owning himself condemned by law and casting himself upon the mercy of Christ, he clung to his rank and his riches, with all that they cost him, and all that they lost him, "and went away grieved, for he was very rich." So will it be with every one who shuns the narrow path of following Christ. To suffer with Him here is to reign with Him in Kingdom Glory hereafter.

Now the thought of the disciples was that riches was a sure mark of the favour of God, and that they at least supplied the means of doing good. If no one was "good," and riches — the means of doing good, not only valueless, but in themselves a positive hindrance — "who then could be saved?" The Lord's answer is emphatic, No one. On the ground of human merit, a camel might sooner pass the needle's eye than a rich man, trusting in his riches, enter the Kingdom. But with God all things are possible. Grace makes no account of what man is, either at his "best" or his "worst." Salvation is of the Lord.

Peter, doubtless seeing the young man going away preferring his possessions to Christ, ventures the question, "We have left all. . . . What shall we have therefore?"

In His reply the Lord gives some of the most precious encouragement as to discipleship, coupled as ever with that which will guard it from the abuse of human merit.

This we have in the Parable of the Labourers in the Vineyard. The apostles had done what the young man had been invited to do. First, then, the Lord says, that, as to His immediate followers, the disciples, they would be princes in the Kingdom. And all, at all times, and in all places, who prefers the name of Christ above what is dear to nature shall receive an hundredfold here, and life everlasting hereafter. He had already told them of the persecution and suffering they would have to endure by becoming His followers. Now He reveals to them something of the glory that should follow. And even here more friends would be raised up to them for Christ's sake than ever they had lost for their own sakes.

The day of Kingdom Glory is the time of recompense, and nothing done for Christ will be forgotten by Him in that day.

But along with this cheering promise goes another line of truth intensely solemn, and that is that "the fire shall try every man's work of what sort it is." (1 Cor. 3:13). And the gain or loss of that day will be in accordance with the character of the work done in this. May the thought have due weight with each one of us, so that everything be done in the light of the judgment-seat of Christ, and all our ways below may meet with His approval. Peter, perhaps, put a value on his boat and nets which they never possessed, and we are all in danger of doing likewise. But Peter had forsaken them to follow the Lord, and nothing is little in His eyes where the motive is true love to Himself.

Only lest we should go to the opposite extreme in self-righteousness and be tempted to put our own value upon our own work, we get the Parable of "The Labourers," in which the further truth comes out that God is Sovereign, and will do just as He pleases; and that what He pleases to do is right. Self-righteousness may lead a man to estimate himself as "first," but, if so, the true estimate may show that he is last of all. This the parable develops, and shows that rewards in the Kingdom will be in accord with the principles both of sovereignty and grace There are five groups of labourers: —
1 The First Company go into the vineyard early in the morning, having agreed for a penny a day.
2 The Second Company go into the vineyard at the third hour, depending on the promise of the householder.
3 and 4. The Third and Fourth Companies go into the vineyard at the sixth and ninth hours on the same terms as the second.
5. The Fifth Company go into the vineyard at the eleventh hour with no promise at all, if we omit, with the best authorities, the last clause of verse 7.

It is a manifold picture of sovereign grace: God continuing to come out unceasingly, in order to bring men into the place of blessing; and not only so, but to give them the honour of serving Him: give them grace to serve; and then, and beyond all, reward them for the service that His sovereign grace has enabled them to fulfil.

"So when even was come the Lord of the vineyard said unto his steward, Call the labourers and give them their hire, beginning from the last unto the first." And when the eleventh hour labourers came, they received every man a penny. And when the first company came they also received every man a penny. People argue that all were rewarded alike. But not so. The point of the parable is, that all were rewarded. Not that all were rewarded alike. There is a great difference between a penny a day and a penny an hour. Nevertheless, what right had the first to murmur? They had been dealt with in perfect righteousness. They had received what they bargained for, and what had they to do with the value of other men's service? That lay with the goodness of the householder. If all reward be a reward of grace, as it is, that reward can only be measured by the sovereign grace of God alone. If He make the last to be first who shall question His ruling? Many who thought themselves to be first may be seen to be last, and many who came in late may get a first place. The dying thief came in at the eleventh hour surely, but his one short hour of witness to Christ was given at a time when all had forsaken Him.

We must ever keep in mind that the Parables in general deal with Kingdom truth on the broad lines of profession. There will be no murmurers in the day of glory. Whatever the penny may have meant to the first group in the parable, it certainly means no place in the Kingdom for those to whom the parable applies, and it is equally certain that love for the Master had no place in their hearts. It is a scriptural principle that "the labourer is worthy of his hire." But, on the other hand, if he work for his hire only, it proves him to be merely a hireling who has never known what the true spring of service really is. How beautiful it is to compare with this what the apostle knew to be the compelling power in all true Christian service. "The love of Christ constraineth us: because we thus judge that, if one died for all, then were all dead; and that he died for all, that they which live should not live unto themselves, but unto him who died for them and rose again" (2 Cor. 5:14, 15).

We may well pause here for a moment. This parable dealing with service, and God's rights in rewarding it according to His own sovereign grace, are the closing words, given by our Evangelist, of the Great Servant, before setting out on the last sad journey to Jerusalem.

His holy life of devoted service had been marked by obedience to the Father's will and love to the souls of men. He was the Dispenser of blessing wherever He went, and men wondered at the gracious words that proceeded out of His mouth. Yet in spite of all this perfect display of heavenly power and grace, He had to say, "They hated me without a cause."

Now He is on the way to the Cross, and once again He takes the twelve apart by themselves in the way, to give them the third recorded lesson as to His rejection and death; and to prepare them for what must now be to them the shattering of all their hopes. For even yet their eyes and hearts were filled with visions of an immediate earthly reign, and to secure first places there, James and John endeavour to forestall the others.

This self-seeking appeal for the Sons of Zebedee gives opportunity for the Lord to bring to light the things of the spirit. He had come as the Messiah, bringing blessing for Israel, and had been rejected. Laying aside His rightful claims as Israel's King, He had then announced Himself as the "Son of Man" — a wider title which declared His rights world wide, and therefore spoke of blessing for all. But before there could be blessing for any, the Lord must die, in order to lay the righteous foundation on which all the purposes of God might rest secure.

All this the disciples were as yet ignorant of. But before that day of display came, He had something to give to His followers. It was suffering. They were slow to learn that this was the highest honour they could have from the world. So are we. Knowing not what it involved, they said, in answer to His question, "Are ye able to drink of the cup that I drink of?" "We are able." Circumstances would very soon test their pretensions. And yet if at one time it had to be written — "They all forsook him and fled" — the Spirit is careful to record of them on another occasion, that "they departed from the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for his name" (Acts 5:41).

But if the Sons of Zebedee were full of themselves, the ten, when they heard it, were full of indignation. They wanted to put the two down, perhaps only in order to put themselves up. But again the patient grace of the Lord shines out. He called them around Him, not for rebuke but for instruction. He, the Son of Man, the Lord of all, had become a Servant, and gone to a lower place than it was possible for any one else to reach. They were not to imitate the rulers of the nations, but to follow Him. So should we. If you want to be great, go down. If you want to be greater, go lower; and the lower we go, the nearer we get to the Master "who came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many." His service here was leading Him on to that supreme act of self-surrender — laying down His life for the sheep. Now in the glory His service of love still continues, though in another character. He is there as our great High Priest, and His priestly service is able to maintain us in the light of the presence of God, and in the sunshine of His love every moment.

Soon the day of Kingly service will come, when He will come forth to serve; and we shall be with Him and like Him as He is. What a day of blessing will it be when such a King reigns in righteousness.

May the contemplation of such love produce in each of us the Christ spirit — which seeketh not his own, and is ever ready to lay down life itself for the brethren. "Whosoever will be great among you, let him be your minister (hired servant), and whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant (slave)." The man in whom self is least in evidence is the man who is greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven.

Passing through Jericho the two blind men are met, and healed. They hail Him as "Son of David," follow Him, and become witnesses to His power. It is fittingly the last-recorded miracle of healing in Matthew's Gospel, and it is a dispensational picture of the time when the "blindness" that has happened to the nation will be done away, and the remnant will recognise and acclaim their rightful King that cometh in the name of the Lord. This the multitude now do, according to the prophecy of Psalm 118. When they reach Bethphage He sends for the ass and the colt, both doubtless used by Him in succession, according to Zechariah 9:9. Matthew alone mentions both animals: typical they are, no doubt, and, with many similar things, it looks on to the day when the remnant of the nation will be brought into blessing under a King come in power.

But the meek and lowly One is about to be rejected, and the next verse of the prophecy (Zech. 10:10) remains unfulfilled until the day when He comes again riding upon the "white horse" (Rev. 19). The procession reaches the brow of Olivet, and the city bursts upon their gaze. Just in front, on the other side of the Kedron Valley, shining in all its recent adornment, stands the Temple — the Holy House, as the Jew so fondly called it, soon to be left desolate, and in a few short years become a prey to consuming fire. To the left, on the Hill of Zion, lay the "City of David," recalling all the glories of their greatest ruler. And here was David's Royal Son, surely, thought the disciples, now about to assert both His authority and His power.

But, see, the King weeps! (Luke 19). It is no scene of triumph His eye rests upon. The inconstant multitude will soon change their cry of acclamation to cries of derision. Jerusalem, knowing not the day of her visitation in grace, will soon bitterly realise that the day has come for her visitation in judgment. Yet still His heart yearned over them. How often would He have gathered them as a hen gathereth her brood under her wings? — "I would: ye would not."

Ascending up from the Kedron, they enter the Temple, probably by the East gate, "and the whole city was moved." But, alas! however moved, they knew Him not. They can only ask, "Who is this?" And the voices that acclaimed Him at Olivet as "Son of David" can now only reply, "It is Jesus, the Prophet of Nazareth." He had reached the city, not to reign, but to die.

"And Jesus entered into Jerusalem, and into the temple" — it is the evening of the First day of the week — and when He had looked round about upon all things, and now the eventide was come, He went out into Bethany with the twelve (Mark 11). Not till next day — Monday — as Mark tells us, did He cleanse the temple. Matthew, as we have seen, groups the incidents in keeping with his subject, and so we have together, the withering of the Fig Tree, the Parables of the Two Sons, and that of the Wicked Husbandmen, teaching so plainly the setting aside of Israel, that even the Pharisees understood it. And let us notice that neither of these two parables is said to be a "likeness of the Kingdom of Heaven." That new thing begins consequent upon the rejection of Messiah, and so we have in order, in Matthew 22, the Parable of the Marriage of the King's Son, showing God's way of bringing men into that Kingdom. The Jews would not come. The Gentiles will, as we shall see later.

"Now in the morning (Monday) as he returned into the city, he hungered. And when he saw a fig tree in the way, he came to it, and found nothing thereon, but leaves only, and said unto it, 'Let no fruit grow on thee henceforward for ever.' And presently the fig tree withered away."

Here we have both a miracle and a parable. It is the only miracle other than that of blessing the Lord ever performed. And as to the parable, if we connect it with the parable in Luke 13, we shall find that three years of patient cultivation had been spent before the word went forth, "Cut it down." The Lord's ministry of patient grace had continued for a somewhat similar time, but now it was over, and Israel's day had gone by. As to the action itself, it was symbolical, and for the instruction of disciples. So must we understand the teaching consequent thereupon. They would nowhere have to do either with a literal fig tree or a literal mountain. But, as God's planting, Israel was the "fig tree"; and as a power in the earth, Israel was the "mountain." The day came, in apostolic service, when an apostle was led to utter the warning, "Behold ye despisers, and wonder, and perish" (Acts 13). And again, "The Salvation of God is sent unto the Gentiles" (Acts 28). Even after the crucified and risen Lord had gone back to the glory, one last message of mercy was sent again to His earthly people, through Peter, and after their rejection of it, and the murder of His witness, Stephen, Israel was indeed cast into the sea of the nations. She had proved conclusively that, in her history, there had neither been fruit for God, nor power among men.

But there is more. In verse 22 there is the most unqualified assurance that all things would be given to the man of faith. So accustomed are we to the little faith (often no faith) of our own hearts, that, when we find such a statement as this, we are tempted to explain away the power of it. But there it stands for believers of all time. The twelve were about to be parted from the Master upon whom they had relied in every emergency. He now connects them with all the power of God on high which they were to lay hold of, by faith, for their service; assuring them that, to the man of faith, all things he asks, he shall receive.

When He reached the Temple, He cleansed it, as we have noticed, and at once begins what we might call His closing public addresses. For His last words of encouragement and instruction to His own we must look elsewhere, but Matthew gives us very full details of the public ministry of these two busy days. The nation was hearing the voice speaking in grace, which it would not again hear, until that same voice speaks in judgment in a later day. But now it was only a question of setting forth in symbolic language the state to which the blindness of the leaders had brought the nation.

The outline of the Temple addresses is as follows: —
1 The Jews refuse to obey God (Parable of the Two Sons).
3 They refuse to bring anything to Him (Parable of the Vine-dressers).
3 They refuse to accept anything from Him (Parable of the Marriage of the King's Son).
4 Grace refused goes out to the Gentiles (The Second Invitation to the Marriage Feast).
5 Their political bondage turned on what they had failed to be for God (The Tribute Money).
6 Sadducean difficulties are shown to he the result of Sadducean infidelity (The Woman and Seven Husbands).
7 The law exposes the motives of the heart: till that is right everything must be wrong (The Lawyer's Question).

Let us look into these things in a little more detail. The Lord no longer replies to the cavils of the elders, except to bring truth to bear upon their consciences. They ask Him for His authority. Had it not been displayed before their eyes in acts of power, which proved that it must be heavenly in its origin? But now, would they answer His question, "John's Baptism, was it from heaven?" He had been a burning and a shining light and they had been willing for a season to rejoice in that light (John 5:35). Their national pride had gloried in a prophet being raised up amongst them, as so often among the fathers of old, but their self-righteousness had prevented them from accepting his testimony to Messiah. John had been murdered and his Master they had rejected. Hence their difficulty. Rather than own their sin, they refuse to answer. Then the Lord brings their moral state before them in the parable of the Two Sons.

Open opposition to the father, followed by repentance, marked the first. False profession, unrepented of, marked the second. Open sinners were converted by the preaching of the fearless Baptist and brought into the Kingdom of God. Self-righteous Pharisees saw no need for repentance.

In the next parable a deeper principle is touched upon. The nation was not only in a state of malevolent neutrality, it was in a state of active opposition to God and His ways of grace. Israel had been likened to the vineyard of the Lord, as they very well knew from their own scriptures (Ps. 80 And according to Isaiah 5 everything had been done for it that the care and forethought of the husbandman could do. Indeed the prophet had challenged the inhabitants of Jerusalem and the men of Judah on this very point. And what? — "When I looked that it should bring forth grapes it brought forth wild grapes." Then the Lord shows from their dealings with His servants, the prophets, what their moral history had been, until that moment when their hearts were fully exposed by the presence of the Son Himself in their midst, and their diabolic counsel among themselves was "This is the Heir, come let us — kill Him." It is no question of ignorance. He is known, and when known, hated. So trenchant and convincing is the argument that they are forced to answer the question — "When the Lord of the vineyard cometh what will He do?" God was about to take a hand in the affairs of men. What will happen to those who up to that time had been the custodians of the Kingdom of God: of whom were the fathers, and to whom were the promises? "Did ye never read in the Scriptures: The stone which the builders rejected, the same is become the head of the corner." He was the Stone of Israel (Gen. 49), the Tried Stone, the Precious Corner Stone, and the Sure Foundation (Isa. 28). But to Israel He became a Stone of stumbling, and a Rock of offence (Rom. 10). Nevertheless, though disallowed of men, He was chosen of God and precious, and on Him the spiritual house is now being builded, and he that believeth on Him shall not be confounded (1 Peter 2). If they who stumbled at the Lord come in grace would be "broken," what could happen to those with whom He had to deal in judgment, but that they should be "ground to powder" (compare Dan. 2:35). It is the inevitable end of all who would contend with God.

Then He tells them that the "Kingdom of God" should be taken from them. It is the last time we have this term in Matthew, and it marks in a very specific way the difference between it and the Kingdom of Heaven. The Jews, entrusted with the revelation from God, owned Him as their King, and were in His Kingdom. The Kingdom of Heaven was the form the Kingdom of God would take, consequent upon the death, resurrection, and ascension of Christ to the right-hand of God on high.

The Kingdom of God, then, taken from the Jews would be given to a "nation bringing forth the fruits thereof." This, doubtless, has a twofold meaning. Peter, writing to believers, could say, using no doubt Old Testament forms of speech (Deut. 10:15), "Ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should show forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light" (1 Peter 2:9). Then, in a coming day, it will be said to Israel, in the sublime words of the prophet, "Arise, shine, for thy light is come . . . thy people shall be all righteous, they shall inherit the land for ever" (Isa. 60:1-21). But meantime it is proved conclusively that men under the best of conditions could produce nothing for God. Not only so, but in addition to abusing the servants, they murdered the Son. Enmity could no further go. What will God do now? Can grace meet such a condition as this? Verse 1, Matthew 22, answers the question. It is no longer a question of what man has done, but of what God is doing; and the Lord hereupon gives a similitude of the new thing, and God's way of bringing men into it, under the form of the parable of the Marriage of the King's Son. And here a further startling development of evil is seen. Men not only refuse to bring anything to God: they also refuse to accept anything from Him. This is a true picture of the natural heart, and a very humbling truth indeed. But for sovereign grace, not a single soul of Adam's race would ever be in the glory of God.

"A certain king made a marriage for his son:" The world dishonoured the Son. God will have Him to be honoured. The world gave Him a low place. God will give Him the highest place that heaven affords. Every knee must bow to Him, and those who will not bow in grace shall bow in judgment. The Lord puts the divine counsels in true perspective. The proper "point of sight" is not so much man's need, as God's glory, and while the convicted sinner naturally views the Gospel from the first standpoint, the believer should seek to see things from the last.

The Marriage Feast sets before us the way grace goes out either to Jew or Gentile; and along with that there is the response it meets with. As to those that were bidden, "they would not come."

A second invitation manifests the indifference of some and the malevolence of others. The agricultural and mercantile classes (verse 5) are singled out from the remnant (verse 6), who slew the servants. These last would fittingly represent the leaders who were ever the first in persecution.

In the first invitation we have the ministry of the Apostles before the Cross. In the second, the preaching of the Apostles after the Cross, and until the death of Stephen. "Repent ye therefore and be converted," Peter could say, "that your sins may be blotted out, so that times of refreshment may come from the presence of the Lord" (Acts 3:19, R.V.). But they repented not. Instead of their sins being blotted out, their city was burned up as the parable had forewarned.

Now, the call of grace can go out to all, without exception or distinction. It is no longer, what man is, but, what God is. A praying Lydia, or a jailer steeped in sin, need, and alike receive, the same grace. From the "highways" the servants gather both "bad and good," and the wedding is furnished with guests.

But something more was needed. The glory of the King, and the honour of the King's Son, demanded that there should be not only acceptance of the King's invitation, but fitness for the King's presence. This the "Wedding Garment" supplied. It was needed by the guests, and provided by the King. Hence there was no excuse for the man without it. His "best" would not do for the King, neither will man's best do for God. Only as a sinner is clad in God's righteousness, can he stand before Him, and God's righteousness is Christ Himself. The measure of the believer's standing is nothing less than Christ risen. Wonderful truth. How little we enter into it. But there could not be Christ risen, until He had first gone into death. Apart from that atoning death to which He went down in grace, He must have been alone in the glory. But, blessed be God, risen out of death, He became the First begotten from the dead, and the First born of many brethren. The prodigal's highest aspiration was the place of a hired servant. But nothing less than the robe and the ring and the feast would satisfy the heart of the father.

The close of the parable looks on to the end, and the judgment is solemn, final, and eternal. It is the end of every mere professor — outer darkness and untold woe. Oh that men would be warned in time. Notice that the word translated "servants" in verses 3, 4, 6, 8, is not the same as that used in verse 13. The first (bondservants) refer to those who go forth with the Gospel. The second (ministers) refer to the angels who are the executors of His judgments. These two things are never confounded.

The later half of the chapter brings out the folly of the three great classes of the nation, in their endeavour to "entangle him in his talk."

The Pharisees were the religionists of the day, the descendants of the patriotic men who had so nobly supported the Maccabees in the War of Independence. The Herodians were those who, in their endeavour to perpetuate the national existence at any cost, were willing to give up the national faith, in order to support the anti-national Idumean succession of the family of the Herods. These two classes, whose principles were diametrically opposite, and who hated each other with age-long hatred, agreed together to tempt the Lord. With divine wisdom, and grace combined, the Lord meets these men. Showing them that He knew their thoughts and thereby exposing them to themselves, He sought to deliver them from the snare of Satan into which they had fallen. Had the rights of God been rendered to Him, Caesar and his legions would have had no power in their land. The reply was unanswerable, but though they marvelled, they did not believe.

The hypocrisy and infidelity of the Sadducees are next exposed. As to creed, they denied everything that the Pharisees believed. The law of Moses, as they expounded it, had to do only with the earth. There was no future life. Now they come to the Lord, apparently anxious to settle a question about the resurrection, when the very fact of the resurrection itself they denied. Could hypocrisy go further? The Lord showed their difficulties arose from two sources. The first was their ignorance of their own scriptures, and the second was their ignorance of the power of God. Slow to own the first, they are equally slow to ascribe to God that power which belongs to Him by sovereign right, and thus they perish in their own folly. Unbelief is ever ignorant. "By faith we understand."

But here comes a lawyer. He is a learned scribe, and everything that is to be known about the law he knows. The One who was among them in a love that went far beyond law keeping he knew not. His question, however, "Which is the great commandment in the law?" brings out God's standard for men upon the earth, a standard from which he has fallen, alas, how far. The mission of the prophets was restorative, and intended to bring the people back to the ways of God. But they only added to their guilt. The law they had broken, and the prophets they had slain. Law knows nothing about producing conditions in which its righteous precepts can be displayed. That awaited a later revelation. Only when a man is born of God, can he display the character of God. Then, the flesh set aside, the righteous requirements of the law are fulfilled in those who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit (Rom. 8:4).

These three questions asked and answered, the Lord next propounds to them the question of questions: — "What think ye of Christ: Whose Son is He?"

Earlier in our Gospel (Matt. 16), a somewhat similar question had been asked of disciples, and answered in a way that spoke of spiritual enlightenment and intelligence in the ways of God. Here there is only the darkness of unbelief. As David's Son, He had presented Himself to them and had been rejected. The day was coming when they, as His enemies, would be made the "footstool of his feet."

And so the tempters, confounded in all their tactics, withdraw from the conflict, and the disciples and the multitude listen to the summing-up of the righteous Judge (Matt. 23), before whom the hearts of all are exposed.

But first of all He sets up the Scribes and Pharisees, not as an example, but as a warning, whose works the disciples were to avoid. Whatsoever they taught from the law was to be observed, for the age of law was not yet closed. God still recognised that order which He had ordained, however much men had abused it. So the Lord speaks of them as "sitting in Moses' seat," that is — continuing his teaching. As such they were in the place of responsibility — before God, and would be held to be so. As the principles that governed their lives are exposed, we can only exclaim with the prophet, "The heart is deceitful above all things: who can know it?" And the answer is: — "I the Lord" (Jer. 17:9). Here we get that which appeals to the natural mind.

Imposing on others what we refuse in ourselves (verse 4).
Wrong motives in service (verse 5).
Spiritual pride (verse 5).
Outward appearances (verse 6).
The applause of men (verse 7).
Deference from the world (verse 7).

Surely all of these are out of place in the character of the disciple of Christ, and yet how much there is in every heart to which these things appeal.

Such things were not to be among believers, and the Lord next puts His finger, as it were, upon the beginnings of things, which, if allowed, would produce the very same thing in Christianity as they had done in Judaism. Hence —
1 They were to avoid the principles of the Rabbi who sought to form a school around himself. Their Instructor was Christ, and His word their sole authority and unerring guide.
2 Nothing was to be allowed that would weaken their sense of relationship to God as their Father.
3 And there was to be no leadership, apart from the leadership of Christ Himself. One is your Master, Christ, and all ye are brethren.

Alas, how these three great principles have been ignored in Christendom, and the result has been that things are as we see them to-day. Sects and parties have been formed around men, which must ever be wrong, or around doctrines which may, in themselves, be right, but the True Centre — Christ — has thereby been ignored, and the Sole Authority, the Holy Word of God, has been set aside for the traditions of men.

The great moral principles of Christianity are again enforced in three short apophthegms: —
1 The greatest among you shall be your servant.
2 The self-exalted one shall be abased.
3 The humble minded shall be exalted.

He could say, "I am among you as he that serveth," and it could be said of Him, "Therefore hath God highly exalted him and given him a name which is above every name" (Phil. 2). The first man in the pride of his heart sought to go up. The Second Man, in the grace of His heart, went down, even to the dust of death.

The Seven Woes that follow (for verse 14 is of doubtful authority) disclose not only the condemnation of the leaders of Israel, but why they are condemned.

Tradition played so large a part in their system that by it the Word of God was made of none effect. Indeed, it was made to mean the very opposite of what it said, and thus the light to them became darkness, and what was darkness, that, it follows, they held to be light. A single illustration will make this clear. Under the ceremonial law, creeping things were pronounced unclean. Yet no one was admitted a member of the Sanhedrim who did not possess sufficient ability, or rather ingenuity, to prove by many reasons that creeping things were clean. Well might the Lord say of such that they were hinderers in the way of life, neither entering the Kingdom themselves, nor allowing others to do so.

Those whom they succeeded in proselytising, reproduced only the positive evil of their teachers.

All righteous principles were set aside by vain casuistry, and they could so arrange the "Corban Oath" (see Mark 7) that they made their own gain out of the temple gold. To fill up the Corban treasure, men were taught to break the fifth commandment. His own teaching on vain swearing had already been given (Matt. 5:34), and it is well to compare it with what we have here.

In the third woe, He had condemned their corrupt teaching. Here, in the fourth, He condemns their corrupt practice, and, in the next, we get, under a correct exterior, the corrupt affections of the natural heart. Again, they were more anxious to appear right before men, than to be right before God. It was outward paint to cover inward pollution. The grass grown green on the sides of the volcano snow lying white on a manure heap.

The last woe is more comprehensive still in its sweep. It looks both backwards and forwards. Their fathers had killed the prophets. They professed to abjure their fathers' deeds by building tombs for the slain, but both their hypocrisy and wickedness would be exposed by the way they would "kill, crucify, and scourge" the "prophets and wise men and scribes" of the new dispensation. This can be followed out in the short forty years that remained of their national history. Much of it is recorded in the Book of Acts. We need not further pursue it here. But it is well to notice how Christendom has copied, and indeed far surpassed in extent, the persecuting spirit of the Jew of old. It is believed to be a fair estimate that the Apostate Church of Rome is responsible for the blood of fifty millions of the saints of God. Well, truly will it be said of her that she is "drunken with the blood of the saints, and with the blood of the martyrs of Jesus" (Rev. 17:6).

The Lord, having now finished His public ministry, by convicting and condemning the leaders of Israel, seems, as it were, to cast His eye forward to that time when, God's patience being exhausted, the just judgment which grace alone had restrained, would fall. As He views it, the love of His heart for the guilty city again overflows.

What love indeed is here? In the very place where prophets had been slain, and where He was about to die, He would have "gathered her children together as a hen gathereth her brood under her wings." "I would — ye would not." It is the mystery of the perverted will. And because of it their house would be left desolate, as it has remained until this day, and will so remain until the remnant, converted and brought into blessing on the ground of the New Covenant of Grace, shall say, "Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord" (Ps. 118). Then the Stone rejected by the builders of the past day will become the head Stone of the Corner, and the temple choir of redeemed Israel will chant the National Anthem,
"O sing unto the Lord a new song,
For He hath done marvellous things.
His right hand and his holy arm
Hath gotten him the victory.
The Lord hath made known his salvation:
His righteousness hath he openly showed
In the sight of the heathen.
He hath remembered his mercy and his truth
Towards the house of Israel.
All the ends of the earth
Have seen the salvation of our God" (Ps. 98:1-3).

Section 10. Matthew 24, 25.

The Great Prophetic Outline. The King's Dealings with the Jew, the Church, and the Nations

There are many wonderful things about the Word of God. No other book is like it in this, that it has a Divine Author. God has spoken. What He says must be true, authoritative, and final. It can be subject neither to revisal nor development, for the Author is infinite and All-wise.

Then again it does what no word of man can ever do in the same way — it speaks to the conscience. Men address their words to the intellect, the emotions, or the imagination. God speaks right home to the conscience. He deals with the foundation questions of man's sin, and God's righteousness, and so unconverted men hate the Book because they love not its Author.

Yet another most wonderful thing about the Bible is that it tells of the future. Other books tell of the past, or give details of current events, but when the line of the present moment is reached, all beyond it becomes mere idle speculation.

God's Book with graphic touch, and precise definition, gives an outline of the course of time, from the time that time began, until the time when time shall be no longer. It lifts the veil that shuts in the future from mortal ken, and shows us the glories of the ransomed around the throne of God, and the awful fate of the lost in that place where hope never comes. We can know about the end of time with just as much certainty as we know about the beginning of it, for the same word has revealed both.

With this assurance of faith, then, let us draw near and listen to the words of the Lord Jesus, as recorded for us in these wonderful chapters. He here takes the place of the Prophet of God, according to what was before spoken of Him by Moses: —

"I will raise them up a prophet from among their brethren . . . and I will put my words in his mouth and he shall speak unto them all that I shall command him" (Deut. 18:18). It was a solemn moment in Israel's history when He went out and departed from the temple. Never more would His voice be heard in its courts. Never again would His feet stand within its gates. Jerusalem had rejected her King, and the things that belonged to her peace were hid from her eyes.

The temple was that in which the Jew of that day made his boast. Even disciples were still occupied with its glories, and the Lord, to deliver them from the influence of things seen, brings in the light of things as yet unseen. Doubtless it was with something of dismay that they heard of the day of distress so soon to overtake their "beautiful house," and they waited only for a more convenient season to learn more about such a startling event. That occasion soon presented itself. Leaving the temple and the city, they take their way towards Bethany, and when sitting on the slopes of Olivet, it may be to rest after climbing up from the Kedron Valley, the disciples come to Him, eager for information as to the solemn events of which He had but darkly hinted, as they left the temple courts.

With this object they put to Him the three great questions: —
1 When shall these things be?
2 What shall be the sign of Thy Coming?
3 What shall be the sign of the end of the world (age)?

The Lord, in replying to their questions, gives them, as is ever His wont, instruction and guidance far beyond what they had asked for. And in the present section of the Gospel we have an outline of events beginning from the moment then present, and carrying us on to that time of blessedness for the earth, still future, when "the King shall sit upon the throne of his glory," and the Kingdom will no longer exist in mystery, but will be seen in manifestation, and "everything that hath breath shall praise the Lord," according to Psalm 150:6.

The prophecy divides itself into three distinct parts, which we must carefully distinguish, if we are to profit by our Lord's teaching: —

1. The First Part has to do with the Jew (Matt. 24:1-41).
1 His Trials (Matt. 24:9).
2 His Temptations (Matt. 24:24).
3 His Deliverance (Matt. 24:31).

2. The Second Part has to do with Christians (Matt. 24:42 — 25:30).
1 As Ministering (Matt. 24:45).
2 As Waiting (Matt. 25:1).
3 As Working for their Absent Lord (Matt. 25:14).

3. The Third Part has to do with the Gentile Nations (Matt. 25:31-46).
1 As Receiving (Matt. 25:34); or
2 As Rejecting the King's Messengers (Matt. 25:41).

It will be seen at once that the first part of the prophecy carries us right on to the "coming of the Son of Man," taking no notice of the Church period, which must necessarily lie within its bounds. Having done so, the Lord turns back to deal with the Christian position, not so much in relation to "times and seasons" which have to do with the earth, but giving instead an outline of what the motives which govern Christian profession are, whether real or unreal; with the necessary teaching connected therewith. And this is as we would expect, and is on the lines of all prophecy which, strictly speaking, has to do with the earth, and an earthly people. So Peter says the prophets "spake of the sufferings of Christ — and — the glory that should follow." To them the mystery of the Church had not been revealed, and the disciples here were in a somewhat similar position. They are looked upon representatively, as the followers of Christ, in His absence, and at His return to the earth.

Let us notice further that Matthew does not give us, except in a general way, the Lord's answer to the first question — "When shall these things be?" — that is, the overthrow of their temple and polity. The answer to this is given very fully in Luke, see Matthew 21:12-24, and is in keeping with the line of truth he is presenting. As a Gentile, writing to Gentiles, Luke shows the results of Gentile invasion of the land, which was, in its immediate consequences, the destruction of both temple and city by Titus, 70 A.D.

But here the Lord sets first before the disciples what would be the state of the world after He left it, and what would be their own condition in it. As to the nations of the earth, they would not only hate the disciples, but they would hate each other. Wars and rumours of wars would be the result. The King of Peace rejected, peace will never again find a home on earth until He returns. Famine follows war. Pestilence follows famine. And not only are these dreadful results seen as the effects of men's sin, but inanimate nature itself seems to respond to the universal unrest.

Such would be the condition of things in the absence of the King. They would be the "beginning of sorrows." In addition to the persecution from without, there would be that which would cause them even greater suffering than the physical torments to which they might be subjected — many would be false to their profession. The persecution of the world tests the reality of the professor. Many such are offended, and instead of standing firm as confessors of Christ, they become, alas! betrayers and haters of those they once professed to love and serve.

With minds in such a condition the words of the false prophet find ready reception, and, turned aside from the truth, many are deceived thereby. The deadening effect of abounding iniquity is also seen in another way — the love of many waxes cold. Ephesus is not alone in this. Who is there among us who has not experienced it? Grace alone can keep.

Many deceived: many offended: many disheartened.

Many false Christs: many false prophets: many betrayers.

Every art of Satan is here laid bare by the eye of Omniscience, and the encouragement is added to the faithful that he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved.

We are introduced in verse 14 to something which marks in a special way the time of the end. "This Gospel of the Kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations: and then shall the end come."

We must not confound the Gospel of the Kingdom with the Gospel of the grace of God. These are two distinct lines of truth as we shall see.

We get the Kingdom Gospel first mentioned in Matthew 4, where the Lord Himself began to preach it, and along with it went the healing miracles which marked that dispensation. Again, in Matthew 10, we find the proclamation more widely extended by the twelve apostles, still with the same signs following, but with the definite injunction to go only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. As we have seen, Israel rejected both the Kingdom and the King, and with the ascension of Christ to the right hand of God on high, the "good news" is now of a different character. It is no longer a call to Israel to repent and be converted in order to be ready for an earthly reign, but it is a command to all men everywhere to repent, because He hath appointed a day in which He will judge the world in righteousness. Before that day comes, God, in the operations of His sovereign grace, is saving sinners out of the world, and uniting them to Christ in heavenly glory; uniting them also to one another as well as to their Head on high, and forming the Church which is His Body. When the last member has been gathered in, the Lord Himself shall descend, and we shall ascend to meet Him in the air. And so shall we ever be with the Lord (1 Thess. 4). This is the "Blessed Hope" set before the believer now, and we shall rejoice in the Hope, just in proportion as our hearts are occupied with the Person of our risen and glorified Lord on high.

But none of these things are developed in Matthew's Gospel. They were still future, and could only be spoken of in type and figure, as we shall see.

What we now know is that God is saving souls out of this world in grace, and the day is coming when He will establish a Kingdom in this world in power, and the preacher who is taught in the word will not fail to declare both these precious truths.

Here in our Gospel, then, we have reached a period beyond the rapture of the Church, and just before the "end." In spite of all the opposition and persecution of the world, there will be an evangelistic revival, such as this world has never yet witnessed. From restored Israel will go forth foreign missionaries, with something at least of the zeal and devotion of the greatest and most successful foreign missionary that this world has ever seen — the Apostle Paul. And their message will be, "Ho every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters" (Isa. 55:1)." The Lord. God which gathereth the outcasts of Israel saith, yet will I gather to the gathered ones" (Isa. 56:8). "Also the sons of strangers that join themselves to the Lord, to serve him, and to love the name of the Lord . . . even them will I bring to my holy mountain, and make them joyful in my house of prayer . . . for my house shall be called an house of prayer for all people" (Isa. 56:6-7). The Lord had reminded them of this prophecy when He cleansed the temple (Matt. 21:13). Its fulfilment awaits the day when He shall sit as a Priest upon His throne. In short, there will be a world-wide testimony to a coming Messiah. Christendom has never accomplished this with the Gospel of the grace of God. In spite of the utmost self-denial and self-sacrifice on the part of very many devoted servants of Christ, whose efforts have been beyond all praise, yet it is a fact that Christendom, in modern days at least, has never succeeded in evangelising more than half of the known world. And the opinion of those best able to judge is, that the heathen nations of to-day are increasing faster than the present missionary activity can overtake. It is a humbling thought for all of us, if so it be.

But the Lord now goes on to say that when this has been accomplished, the "end" shall come. It is no question of the world being entirely converted. That it will not be so, other scriptures clearly prove. But the testimony goes out, and in Matthew 25 we shall see what the results of accepting or rejecting that testimony will be, to the nations then upon the earth.

Of what "end" does the Lord here speak? Clearly not the end of the world, as many teach, and as we shall endeavour to show later; but the end of the "age" about which the apostles had inquired in verse 3. That "age" would expire with the expiry of the period spoken of by the angel to Daniel the prophet (Dan., Chap. 9:24) as "seventy-sevens," beginning (as we know from the same scripture) at the 20th year of Artaxerxes in the month Nisan, B.C. 454. As every careful reader knows, that period is divided into three parts. "Seven weeks," "Three score and two weeks," and "One week ": and it began at the restoration under Nehemiah, when the commandment went forth to restore and rebuild Jerusalem. Seven "sevens" (forty-nine years) of "troublous times" passed, during which the city and state were being laboriously reconstructed in the midst of many enemies. Another three score and two "sevens" pass, and again it is the month Nisan (April), 29 A.D. The Messiah of Israel presents Himself as her King, but instead of receiving the Kingdom He is cut off and "has nothing." Instead of sitting upon His rightful throne He is cast out to lie in a borrowed grave.

Evidently the seventieth "week" is still future, and two reasons out of many will show it:

1 In Daniel 9:24, the angel gives the prophet to understand that at the end of the last week, six things would be accomplished, and the sorrows of Jerusalem and its people be over. These six things are set out in detail in the text referred to; none of them are yet accomplished, and Jerusalem's sorrows only began after the Lord was crucified.

2 In Daniel 9:27, we learn that the prince that shall come shall confirm a covenant with (the) many for "one week." This "prince" is clearly not Messiah, for when He came, He was "cut off ": it is as clear that it is not Titus who is referred to; for when he came, instead of making any covenant with the Jews, he destroyed both their city and their state. The whole of Daniel 9:26 is fulfilled between the end of the sixty-ninth and the beginning of the seventieth "week." It is the great "interval" during which the mystery of the Church is brought to light, and when that period is over, times and seasons referring to earth will again begin to run their predestined course. The "coming prince" and the "last week" is still future. This "week" will be divided into two parts. Verses 4-14 of our chapter, while giving a description in a general way of the world in the absence of the King, will really find their complete fulfilment in the first half of the "week." Verses 15-28 describe the events which take place in the latter half.

These we now have to consider.

Just as the making of the "Covenant" marked the beginning of the first half of the week, so the breaking of the "Covenant" marks the beginning of the latter half of the "week." This event, according to Daniel 9:27, 12:11, is followed by the taking away of the daily sacrifice, and the setting up of the "abomination that maketh desolate." Our Lord refers to this in verse 15 of our chapter, and also connects with it another thing, and that is — the great tribulation.

If we set out these events in order we shall find that the latter half of the week is marked by seven important occurrences:
1 The Covenant confirmed by the Roman prince with the mass of the Jews is broken by him.
2 The antichrist arrogates to himself the titles of Christ, and endeavours to manifest the power of Christ.
3 The ordered temple services are interrupted.
4 The abomination that maketh desolate (or astonisheth) is set up in the Holy of Holies.
5 The Great Tribulation begins, as the result.
6 The Testimony of the "two Witnesses" continues during three and a half years.
7 The faithful remnant who remain true to God, and refuse the mark of the beast, are persecuted and slain.

In the midst of this "time of trouble," the great arch-enemy, Satan, is abroad in the earth (Rev. 12:12), and true to his character as the Deceiver, he at once raises up false Christs and false prophets to deceive, if it were possible, the very elect (verse 24). His two great masterpieces of evil we get in Revelations 13. The one a "beast" out of the "sea" — the political unrest of the nations — and heading up in himself all the forces of infidelity and militarism which, though prominent now, will then be all but universal. He will be the finished product of man's will as opposed to God: the super-man, in whom wicked men will find a chief so much superior to themselves in wickedness that they will fall down and worship him. He will both blaspheme God and persecute His saints. And, as his henchman, he will have the "beast" out of the "earth," who, although he may have "two horns like a lamb," yet betrays his Satanic origin by speaking like a dragon. Under his sway idolatry is again introduced into Jerusalem. The unclean spirit returns to his house, and in his company seven other spirits more wicked than himself. It is the fulfilment of the prophecy of Matthew 12:45. One very subtle form of the coming idolatry will be this — the worship of a living man. Such a thing had been foreshadowed in the history of King Darius, Daniel 6:7. Here we have it full blown. And what makes the delusion more strong is that the false prophet has power to give breath (not life, as in the common text) to the image of the beast, so that it shall be able to speak, and to cause those who refuse their homage to be killed. The "fiery furnace" will be seven times heated again, and so fierce will be the persecution that it will have to be written "Blessed are the dead" (Rev. 14:13). But God is over all. A limit is ever set to the power of evil — "He shall continue forty and two months" (Rev. 13:5). At the end of the latter half of the last week the judgment of God descends, and the beast and false prophet, "these both were cast alive into a lake of fire burning with brimstone" (Rev. 19:20).

In the midst of this terrible persecution disciples are warned not to be deceived by those who say that Christ has come in secret. Before the dread event of that coming, all the powers both of nature and government seem to lose their wonted control, as the symbolic language of verse 29 would (seem to) indicate, and instead of any secret coming, His appearing would he like a lightning flash, sweeping with dazzling intensity across the vault of heaven from the east unto the west. "And they shall see the Son of Man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory."

Now has come the day of deliverance for elect Israel, and of vengeance for their oppressors. God has taken in hand to "destroy them that corrupt the earth," and just as Israel had been "spread abroad as the four winds of heaven" (Zech. 2:6), so will they be gathered from the four winds. The "great trumpet" shall be blown (Isa. 27:13), and the outcasts shall be gathered, converted, and purified to worship the Lord in the holy mount at Jerusalem. Scattered by the oppressor because of their sins: regathered by angelic power, according to the free and sovereign grace of their covenant-keeping Jehovah.

The rapidity with which the events move which lead up to all this, is doubtless taught by the "parable of the fig tree" — ever an emblem of the nation. As leaf and fruit appeared in rapid succession, so would the Lord hasten the day of deliverance for the people of His Covenant.

And there is a needs-be for His solemn assurance in verses 32-34. "Verily I say unto you, this generation shall not pass till all these things be fulfilled." Now, some at least of those who listened to His words, and many of those to whom they would be repeated, would see the city and land swept clean of its inhabitants — "wiped as a man wipeth a dish; wiping it, and turning it upside down" (2 Kings 21:13); and they might well be tempted to think that all was over for the nation — and the promise unfulfilled after all. "Not so," says the Lord; "Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away." We have only to look around to see the confirmation of that word. The prophet Hosea, who flourished in the days of four of Judah's greatest kings, 800 years before Christ, had said, "The children of Israel shall abide many days without a king, and without a prince, and without a sacrifice, and without an image, and without an ephod, and without teraphim" (Hos. 3:4). It may be that speaking as he did in the palmy days of Judah's history, few believed his words, but so the Jews abide to-day. Having neither a king nor the hope of one, unable to sacrifice to the true God, yet so far they are preserved from image worship. With all genealogies lost, no one can lay claim to wear the priestly ephod wherewith to ask counsel of God; neither do they seek after oracular responses of lying spirits, through teraphim, as their fathers did of old. But to the same prophet was given the promise that "afterwards shall the children of Israel return and seek the Lord their God, and David their king; and shall fear the Lord, and his goodness in the later day" (Hos. 3:5).

Amid all the changing scene of time the word of the Lord endureth for ever.

Three things come out in the next section of our chapter (verses 36-44): —
1 The Day of the Coming of the Son of Man is known only to the Father.
2 The Coming will introduce a time of discriminative judgment for living men upon the earth: "taking," as in Noah's flood in judgment, or "leaving" upon a redeemed earth for blessing.
3 To the men of the earth, the Coming will be as that of a thief in the night, unexpected, and unprepared for. [Hence the necessity for disciples to watch, for their Lord was coming, and as "Son of Man," coming to the earth. The world might say "Peace and Safety" when the dark cloud of "sudden destruction" was just lowering over it, but they were no longer in darkness, that that day should overtake them as a thief (1 Thess. 5:3, 4).]

We turn next to consider the three parables which have to do with Christianity. Strictly speaking, they do not contain any outline of prophetic events, but deal rather with the moral condition of things which will obtain, as well as with what ought to obtain, on the part of those professing to be the Lord's servants in His absence.

Three things confirm the view that the Lord is here speaking of Christianity: —
1 The Coming for which believers are here enjoined to wait, is the Coming of the LORD. The title — Son of Man — which He takes in connection with the earth, does not occur in any of the three parables under consideration. (The best authorities omit the last clause of Matthew 25:13.)
2 No "times or seasons ": no synopsis of earthly events: no signs, preparatory or introductory, are anywhere mentioned. The absent Lord is coming for His waiting people. It is the outline of truth more fully developed later in 1 Thessalonians 4 and other scriptures of the New Testament prophets.
3 No Old Testament prophecy in connection with this subject is quoted in any part of the section, and this is as we should expect, for no such prophecy exists. Many prophecies — at least three hundred — speak of the Coming of the Messiah, His rejection, and death. And again, many glowing pages picture the glory of the Kingdom established under the King in power. But the period of the Kingdom, in the absence of the King, during which the Church is formed, is nowhere spoken of in the Old Testament. Of what would transpire in this period the Lord here speaks to His disciples, using language they were able to understand, and yet in such a way that further light would enable them to comprehend more fully the deeper things of the Kingdom of Heaven.

The first parable then, Matthew 24:45-51, deals with the servant in his Lord's Household. He is placed there for the express purpose of giving them meat in due season. Why, of the three parables, does this come first in order? Is it to show that the Lord's interest in His people down here holds the first place in His heart? The thrice repeated injunction to Peter in John 21 to feed the flock, shows at least the importance of the position of the household servant. He may be a "faithful and wise" servant, or, on the other hand, he may be an "evil" servant. The condition of things is still viewed here, as in all the parables, on the ground of profession. But the servant is in "the house," and on the ground of responsibility. As such he will be dealt with when his Lord returns.
His commission is from the Lord.
He is responsible to the Lord.
He will be rewarded by the Lord.

Taught in the Word himself, he is to teach others. He is to "give them meat in due season." If in the mind of his Master, he will provide the "sincere milk of the word" for the "babes," and "strong meat" for those of mature age. He will be blessed at the Coming of his Master, if found so doing. But there is more. The Lord adds that "he shall make him ruler over all his goods." We shall get further light here by comparing this with Revelations 2:26. The promise to the Thyatiran overcomer was power over the nations. The apostasy of Thyatira will mark the time of the coming, and the servant found true to his master, in time of peril, will by his master be promoted to power in Kingdom glory.

But there is another side, as there is in all the parables. The hope of the coming was, alas! soon lost, and those who should have been "faithful and wise" became unfaithful and evil. Then, again, connected with the loss of the right spirit came the assumption of the wrong position and fellowship with the wrong company. He is found "eating and drinking with the drunken."

Morally, this is a complete inversion of true service, as defined by the Lord in Matthew 19, where, as we saw, the two great principles that actuated the true servant were love and humility. Here it is exaltation of self and oppression of others. And it is not difficult to trace the progress of this spirit in the history of the professing Church through the ages. Even in the days of the Apostles men were found who "loved to have the pre-eminence," and they soon had many followers. But the Lord is not unmindful of the interests of His people, and He will recompense. The "evil servant" is a hypocrite, and, in the day when the Lord judges, his place will be appointed with such.

We must not confound the coming in verse 46 with the coming in verse 50. The faithful and wise servant is living in the expectation of his Lord's return. All his service is performed in view of that-to him-longed-for moment. To the evil servant, the coming is an event both unexpected and undesired. It carries us back to verse 37, where the wicked, whether open foes or false professors, meet their doom at the hands of the Son of Man.

The next parable opens in a somewhat remarkable way, by indicating a particular time when the Kingdom of Heaven would be likened to "Ten Virgins." That time was clearly some period near the end of the age, when the various events would have transpired, of which the imagery of the parable treats. It contemplates the history of the Kingdom, not in a forward view, as in Matthew 13, but is, as it were, a backward view over its history from the time when the Ten went out on the ground of profession, until the moment when the Five went in to the marriage feast.

The great subject of the parable is readiness to meet the Bridegroom. The chief business of the household servant in the last parable was occupation with his Lord's interests. Here pre-eminently the great thought is occupation with the Lord Himself. May we all know more of it in a practical way day by day. The Coming of the Lord is the Hope of the Church, and therefore necessarily the hope of the individual believer, and it is from this latter standpoint it is looked at here.

The imagery of the parable is extremely simple, yet divinely expressive.
"Virgins" — Separated ones, from a Greek root to "set apart."
"Lamps" — Profession.
"Oil" — The Holy Spirit.
"Vessels" — Hearts.
"Bridegroom" — Christ.
"Sleeping" — Unwatchfulness. The hope of the Coming lost to the Church for many ages.
"The Midnight Cry" — Is this truth restored.

The first thing that the Lord emphasises is that the ten Virgins "went out" to meet the Bridegroom. And this is another proof, if such were needed, that He is here contemplating the heavenly calling of believers of the present dispensation. In no sense could the Jew be said to be called out of the world. Indeed, the world was, and is yet to be, the sphere of his blessing. But to His own the Lord could say, "Ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world; therefore the world hateth you" (John 15:19). When the Church lost that "called out" character and gave up the Hope of her heavenly calling, she began to fraternise with the world. When she came down to the world's level, the edge of the world's hatred was blunted, persecution ceased, and the Virgins "slumbered." Very soon even real Christians became like the world, and the world took on a profession of religion and became like the Christians, as we see in Christendom to-day. The result was that the precious truth of apostolic days, dear to the heart of every persecuted saint — the nearness of the Coming of the One he loved — was lost to view. Christians were at home in the world and did not need Him. Mere professors did not want Him. True and false, they all slumbered, and finally slept.

But an explanation of the promise was needed and easily found. It was taught by those who wanted to prophesy smooth things, that He "often came." So He came at the fall of Jerusalem, or at the Reformation. So He comes at death, and will come at the "day of judgment." How any one of these comings — if we may call any of them such — agrees with the Bridegroom character of the Coming of the Lord Jesus, it would be difficult to say.

The turning point of the parable is the Midnight Cry: "BEHOLD THE BRIDEGROOM!"

Evidently it is the Spirit preparing His way by means of watchmen raised up for the purpose.

Is the midnight cry and the recovery of the doctrine of the coming, so long lost, one and the same thing? If so there is this difficulty that in the parable, after the cry, the awakened foolish Virgins were too late to procure oil for their dying lamps. But we could not carry the simile into history or else we should have to say that it is now too late for the mere professor to be saved; which, thank God, is not the case. May it not be, that, even as, after the Lord was crucified, risen, and ascended, there was still the lingering of grace over Israel, according to Peter's testimony in Acts 2; so it is to-day. The Bridegroom has been announced, yet the long suffering of our God, which is salvation, induces Him to tarry yet a moment longer before the trumpet sounds. If this be so, how near is that moment? He is, as it were, on the way, and may arrive at any moment. May our loins be girded about, and our lights burning, and we, like unto men that wait for their Lord (Luke 12:35).

When the awakened foolish Virgins realised that even the possession of trimmed oilless lamps was not sufficient preparation for the Bridegroom, they further manifested their foolishness, by going for oil to the wrong place. So it is, and so it will be in Christendom. Mere professors may hold even the truth of the Lord's Coming as a mere doctrine or creed, which never influences either their hopes or their ways. They will learn, alas! when too late, that nothing but saving grace in the heart communicated by the Holy Spirit Himself can fit any soul for the Coming of the Lord; and the great point of the parable is preparedness for that coming. The great essential for the Virgins was oil. The one thing needful for all is the Holy Spirit in the heart. "If any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his" (Rom. 8:9). "They that were ready went in with him" — it is the heavenly hope realised. The Bride is not mentioned. Co-related truths are never all stated in one parable. In Matthew 22 we have a parable dealing with the condition of the Guests. Here it is a question of the Corning of the Bridegroom. In Revelations 19 we get a glimpse of the Bride in her bridal array, and in Revelations 21 we again see her, but now it is the day of display. "And the door was shut." Five little words, yet of the most solemn import. To-day they come to all as a warning. Some day soon they will express an accomplished fact, with tremendous realities for all. Some will be shut IN, with the Lord they have loved and longed for; in the presence of the Father, and in the Father's House.
"Oh I what a Home, but such His love
That He must bring us there."

"And the door was shut." Some will be shut OUT from all the joys and all the glories of the heavenly home, and shut out for ever. To the impassioned prayer, "Lord, Lord, open to us," the answer is, "I know you not." Scripture knows nothing of a "second chance," or "larger hope." These are vain ideas conceived only in the minds of foolish men, who love sin too much to turn to God now in the day of His grace, and so fall into the snare of Satan, to the loss of their souls.

Is the reader a mere professor only? If so, oh, be warned in time, for the Coming of the Bridegroom is nigh, even at the door.

"Watch, therefore, for ye know neither the day nor the hour" (verse 13).

One other parable was needed to express yet another aspect of Christian profession during the absence of the King.

He has gone into a far country, and the question is, "What are His servants doing for Him in His absence?" In the first parable of our chapter He takes the title of "Bridegroom," and every thought connected with that is of love and affection. It is pure grace on His part without any thought of merit on the part of the loved one, and that is one aspect of truth. But here He takes another title, that of "Lord." He was "the Lord of those servants" (verse 19). As such, they were under His authority, and it was to Him that they should render an account, on His return, for the "goods" He had committed to their trust. We do well to remember that this is before each one of us. "Wherefore let us labour, that, whether present or absent, we may be acceptable to Him" (2 Cor. 5:9, R.V.).

In the parable the servants receive, in varying amounts, goods from their Lord to trade with in His absence. It is grace going out to others, and by those who have received gifts from their risen Lord so to serve Him. The parable is similar to that in Luke 19, only there, the great point is the Christian's responsibility according to his opportunities. There, all received equal amounts, but produced different results, for which they are rewarded differently. Here they receive different amounts, and secure different results, but the good are rewarded each cent per cent, because both were alike faithful to the amount of their gift. Here it is the sovereignty of God. In Luke it is the responsibility of man.

The talents, then, were given to be used for the Lord, not for the glory of the servant. We are in a world of need, and there are souls to be won for Christ. Just as a business man is in business, to do business, so should the Christian be here for Christ. The Lord Himself could say, "Wist ye not that I must be about my Father's business" (Luke 2:49), and He was the Pattern Servant.

We may gather from the Lord's teaching that every believer has some talent imparted to him according to his "several ability," and that it is expected of him that he will use that gift or talent for the Lord's glory. Now, ability may be either natural, or acquired, and, if acquired, may also be developed in proportion as he seeks diligently so to do. This, taken in connection with the injunction to Timothy to stir up the gift that was in him, would show that by diligent and faithful exercise of our talents and abilities, both the vessel and the talent it contains will alike increase, the sphere of service widen, and the blessing extend. This should be the desire of every servant — the object in view ever being the glory of the Lord Jesus Christ.

On the other hand, even a believer may allow his gift to lie dormant, and through mere slothfulness either of body or mind, neglect to equip himself for the service and opportunities that may lie just at hand. A man cannot "do the work of an evangelist" unless he goes where souls are to be found. The Word of Christ cannot "dwell richly" in a saint unless he make it his study. No Sunday school teacher will succeed unless he seeks diligently, earnestly, and prayerfully to learn the Book he has set out to teach. To speak a word in season to him that is weary, we must be ever drinking from the Living Spring. There are ever very practical lessons to be learned when the Lord is the Teacher. No one teaches like Him.

But the possibility is counted upon here, as in all parables, of a man taking the place of a servant who never knew the Lord. There is no question at all of the "wicked and slothful servant" being a Christian. He was not. His words, his actions, and his end abundantly prove it. But the Lord uses the case, and the end of the mere professor, to warn of the possible danger a real Christian is exposed to in this matter. The man hid his talent in the earth, instead of using it for his Master, and it may be possible that for some the "earth" is a greater snare than the "world." A Christian man may have no desire for the world's concert rooms or theatres, and yet allow his business concerns so to engross his heart and life that every moment is devoted to the things of earth, and he can find neither time nor interest for the things of the Lord. It was the man with one talent that proved false to his trust, and it may be safely assumed that men of this class compose the majority of the servants. Outstanding "five talent" men are but few; hence the warning in the parable extends to the greatest number. We are tempted to think that because we can do but little, that little left undone will not matter. But not so. The sons of Merari bore the pins and cords of the Tabernacle, and their service was just as important as that of the sons of Kohath, who bore the sacred vessels.

We have next to consider the Lord's relationships to the earth in His character of "King." He has already been before us as "Bridegroom," and "Lord," and if, as the Bridegroom, He touches all the springs of the heart's affections, so as Lord, He reminds us of the salutary truth that we belong to Him. He has bought us with His Blood.

But nowhere in Scripture is He spoken of as King of the Church. He is the King of Israel and the King of Nations: when He reigns, "all kings shall fall down before him, and all nations shall serve him. Men shall be blessed in him, and all nations shall call him blessed." Well might the Psalmist, as he considered that Glorious One, of whom Solomon in all his glory was but a faint type, exclaim, "Blessed be the Lord God, the God of Israel, who only doeth wondrous things. And blessed be his glorious Name for ever: and let the whole earth be filled with his glory" (Ps. 72). The introduction of this day of blessing for a groaning creation is now set before us.

"When the Son of Man shall come in his glory and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory: and before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats" (Chap. 25:31-32).

It is no question of a general judgment at the "end of the world," as so much of the current theology of the day would teach, but which scripture nowhere warrants. If it be compared with the judgment of the "Great White Throne," it will be seen that the subjects, test, time, place, and sentence are all different. Far from there being only one judgment spoken of in the Bible, there are at least seven: —
1. The Judgment of the Cross: the basis of every blessing for man.
2. The judgment Seat of Christ: the manifestation day for every believer (2 Cor. 5:10).
3. The Judgment of the Living Nations upon the Earth (Matt. 25:31).
4. The Judgment of the Great White Throne, when earth and heaven have fled away (Rev. 20:11).
5. The Judgment in the House of God: the Father dealing in Government with His own (1 Peter 1:17).
6. The judgment by the Assembly, as to that which is in keeping with the Name of Christ (1 Cor. 5:4).
7. The Judgment of ourselves, by ourselves, so as to allow nothing in our ways inconsistent with Christ's death (1 Cor. 11:28).

Here, in our Gospel, however, we have the details of the picture of which Matthew 13:41-44 gives the outline. It is the deliberative, sessional judgment, by the Son of Man of the living nations upon the earth at His appearing. The passage links up with Matthew 24:31. The Lord takes up the thread of events in connection with the earth and pictures what will take place after the upheavals of the "last week." At His appearing He has destroyed the beast and the false prophet, taken, as it were, in red-handed rebellion against Him (Rev. 19; 2 Thess. 2:8). He is now about to put right the place they had put wrong: to measure out judgment to their self-deluded followers: recompense to the faithful of the earth who had been true to the Hope of His Coming, and introduce the righteous nations into all the blessings of the millennial Kingdom, of which Psalm 72 gives so glowing a description.

What, then, is the condition of things upon the earth just before the Son of Man appears, and who are its occupants? The Church has been called away to meet Him in the air (1 Thess. 4), and with the Church, the Holy Spirit, whose operations of grace will, after that period, assume a new form. Men of the world little realise how much the world owes to the presence of the Spirit of God now. He is that restraining power who is preventing the outbreak of the powers of evil. When the Spirit is taken out of the way, evil will come to a head, under a man so wholly possessed by the spirit of Satan, that Scripture knows him as the Man of Sin (2 Thess. 2:3). Ten different names are applied to him, clearly defining both his origin and his character. He is called: —
1 The Man of the Earth (Ps. 10:18).
2 The False Prophet (Rev. 19:20).
3The Antichrist (1 John 2:18).
4 The Beast from the Earth (Rev. 13).
5 The Son of Perdition (2 Thess. 2:3).
6 The Man of Sin (2 Thess. 2:3).
7 That Wicked [One] (2 Thess. 2:8).
8 The Idol Shepherd (Zech. 11:17).
9 The King (Dan. 11:36).
10 One Coming in His Own Name (John 5:43).

It is the revealing of this Person that brings matters on earth to an issue. To-day, the question is — For Christ, or against Him? Then the question will be — For Antichrist, or against him? The mass of the Jews will be "for him." Having come in his own name, he will be received by them as the Lord forewarned them (John 5:43). Apostate Christendom, taking pleasure in unrighteousness, and having refused the love of the truth, will believe "the lie" and find themselves in the same unhappy company. It is a most solemnising thought, that, when the Lord comes for His people, the day of grace for Christendom will be over for ever. Sudden and rapid will be its development into the "Babylon" of Revelations 17, and as swift will be its overthrow at the hands of the Son of Man.

In addition to the nation of the Jews gathered back to Palestine in unbelief, and apostate Christendom in European and other lands, there will also be the vast masses of the hitherto unevangelised heathen nations. How will the solemn events of the time of the end affect them? To answer this question we must turn to Romans 11. See the whole chapter. The argument there is, that Israel, rejecting Christ, was rejected. Israel rejected, blessing thereupon flowed out to the Gentiles. God visited them to "take out of them a people for his name" (Acts 15:14). "Now," says the apostle, "if the fall of them, (the Jews) be the riches of the world, and the diminishing of them the riches of the Gentiles, how much more their fulness?" (Rom. 11:12). In other words, Israel's fall brought blessing to the Gentiles, and Israel's restoration, when the Lord comes back, will bring double blessing — "life from the dead."

This blessing these nations are offered in the proclamation of the Kingdom Gospel of Matthew 24:14, and Revelations 14:6; and the acceptance or rejection of the King's messengers ("My brethren") fixes their place and title to life, or condemnation.

But the King's commendation of the righteous here (Matt. 25:34-36) brings out another thing. Those who had heralded the tidings of the Coming King had done so in the face of the greatest difficulties. Antichrist's followers had accepted the "mark of the beast" (Rev. 13), and were content with the great pseudo-religious-social system introduced by him. They wanted neither God's King, nor God's righteousness. So hunger and thirst, banishment, nakedness, and prison lay before the evangelists. With these servants the King here identifies Himself, even as with another persecuted company, when He arrested their persecutor, Saul of Tarsus. And those who ministered to their necessities hear, with joyful wonder, that what they had done was reckoned by the King even as if done unto Himself.

And now we reach the time when the promises in Matthew 5 will receive their complete fulfilment. "Come ye blessed of my Father, inherit the Kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world" (verse 34). Now, the mourners are comforted; the meek inherit the earth, and the merciful obtain mercy. The day of regeneration has come, and they go into life eternal.

But there is the other side. He gathers out of His Kingdom all things that do offend. It must be so, for righteousness is about to reign. During the present day of grace righteousness suffers because evil is predominant. In the eternal day it will dwell. Every stain of sin will then have been for ever eradicated.

But here, not only is there the company on the right hand — "the sheep"; but there are also those on the left hand — "the goats." And the remarkable thing about the latter is that their judgment, as here set forth, is simply on the ground of what they had not done. It would seem as if they had tried to take a middle course between the "for" and the "against." They had not been among the followers of the "beast," taken in high-handed rebellion against the King, and slain with the sword (Rev. 19:21). Nevertheless, neither had they identified themselves with His cause and with His servants. They had seen the servants both persecuted and slain, and had extended neither succour nor sympathy, thereby showing the state of their hearts. Is not the lesson here, that, in divine things, there can be no middle ground. Men are for the Lord, or against Him, as He has already declared.

Solemn and sad is their doom. They had done the devil's work by abstaining from the work of God, and they find their place in "everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels." "These shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal."

It is well to note that every mark of the moral condition of the later day is with us now. Superstition and infidelity are as rampant in Europe to-day as ever they were during the dark ages. In addition, men of the world are binding themselves together into all kinds of "associations" and "brotherhoods" to further their own selfish ends. And, sad to say, many Christians are voluntarily joining themselves up with such, thereby both slighting their heavenly calling and participating in the "unequal yoke." In a coming day the "beast" will grasp the reins of all such confederacies, and use them for his own ungodly ends. Mark the fidelity of the coming witnesses, who will rather give up life itself than compromise their testimony by receiving the mark of the beast. The Father's Name on their foreheads will bring persecution and death here, but life and glory hereafter.

Well will it be with us if our every gift, every power and every hour, be consecrated to Him alone, who, in grace, hath called us to be for Him, in a world that is still against Him.

Section 11. Matthew 26 — 28.

The King goes into Death and Judgment, in order that His Followers may enter into Life and Glory

What feelings of awe and wonder must have filled the hearts of the disciples, as they sat on the green brow of Olivet, in the dusk of that April evening, and listened spell-bound to those prophetic utterances which fell from the lips of the Master. With words of startling imagery He had unrolled before their gaze the scroll of time, right up to that moment when — the "Times of the Gentiles" ended — His feet would again stand upon that same mount. The sorrows of earth: the glories of Heaven: the unutterable woes of hell, had been revealed to them, by the One who alone could reveal them. And when He ceased, their minds might well be arrested by the contemplation of the solemn events of which He had spoken.

But His next words were more arresting still.

"Ye know that after two days is the feast of the Passover, and the Son of Man is betrayed to be crucified" — that which they had so long feared, had come at last. Their Master was about to die. And with saddened hearts they rose up and pursued their way to Bethany.

The next day (Thursday) until the evening, seems to have been spent here by the Lord in seclusion and retirement. We may not seek to enter into that which occupied His mind during this — the one day of repose in all His public ministry. But with reverent and subdued hearts let us follow the narrative of that which is revealed.

On this same day, it would appear, His enemies in Jerusalem were busy plotting His death, not like the dignified and responsible authorities of an ordered state, in open Council Hall, but plotting in darkness, in the high priest's house, like a company of lawless brigands. So are Israel's rulers here set before us.

And now our Gospel goes back to tell us of another meeting, which had been held four days previously (see John 12) in Bethany, in the house of Simon the Leper. In point of time, this feast had taken place on the evening before He rode into the city; but Matthew frequently groups the events of his narrative so as to present arresting contrasts to the reader.

Here we have two gatherings, both occupied with the Lord Jesus. The first, a gathering of His foes, thirsting for His blood. The other, a gathering of His friends, longing to lavish upon Him the tribute of their love. Only two feasts that we read of were ever made to the Lord. The first we get recorded in Matthew 9 and Luke 5. There a great company of publicans and sinners had gathered around Him for blessing, and blessed they assuredly would be. Here, it is a company of believers gathered in type on resurrection ground. Lazarus, who only a few weeks previously had been raised from the dead, was one of them who sat at the table. And Martha, busy as of old — served. But Martha's spirit is mellowed and ennobled with the passing years. She is no longer the critic of others, as we first find her in Luke 10, and doubtless the Lord's eye here rests upon her with approval. This feast is not in her own house. She might have claimed the place of a guest at the table, beside her brother; yet such is the humility of her mind, or shall we say, the activity of her temperament, that she prefers to be among them as one that serveth. If the disciples had not learned the lesson, she had.

The Church of Christ owes much to the patient, hidden, unselfish, devoted service of sisters like Martha. Their service may be unrequited and unacknowledged on earth, but "the day" will disclose it, and the reward is sure.

Lazarus is in the place of communion, but Mary alone enters in spirit into the "fellowship of His death." The King is going into death and judgment that His followers may enter into life and glory. She pours the precious ointment on His head. She anoints the King, but it is for His burial. These three were in the circle of closest intimacy with the Lord, and it would be unwise to appreciate the one at the expense of the other. Communion, service, and worship they assuredly typify, and these three things make up the sum of all true Christian life.

So far the disciples had learned none of all this. But we must not forget that, historically, they were still on the road to Jerusalem. They had not yet seen the reception He met with there; neither had they as yet heard the words recorded in verse 2 of our chapter. Visions of earthly glory may still have been before them, with themselves in places of honour as almoners for the King. John's Gospel shows us that the spokesman on this occasion was the betrayer; and one sinner destroyeth much good. Alas, that real disciples should have manifested the Judas spirit, where, by closer intimacy with their Master, they might have exhibited that of Mary, and shared in the blessed memorial of the one who "did what she could" (Mark 14).

For Judas nothing was of value that could not be turned into money. Christ Himself, to him, was only an object whereby he might add to his ill-gotten gains. For half the cost of the ointment or less, he was willing to betray his Lord — himself a deceived tool of the devil, before he became a willing tool of the priests. Such is the danger of trifling with temptation. From that time he sought opportunity to betray Him.

This opportunity Judas found on the evening of the Passover.

The Passover is a subject of the deepest interest, and it is all-important to get a right view of the truths taught thereby. It is God's starting point in all His ways of blessing.

God is essentially holy. Man is essentially sinful, and the question was — How can a holy God righteously bless a sinful man?

Adam — a sinner and forgiven — where was God's righteousness? Adam — a sinner and punished — where was His love? But in the Cross, of which the Passover was a type, every attribute of the character of God is displayed, and all the deep, deep need of sinful men fully met.

The Passover spoke, in the first place, of the just judgment about to descend upon every house in Egypt not sheltered by the token of the blood. God was seeking sinners to slay — not to save. The Blood on the lintel stayed the stroke of justice, for it showed that death, in type, had already been there. They were sheltered. Inside the house, and under that shelter, they partook of the lamb roast with fire. It was identification with the victim, and thus a confession that death was deserved. Sheltered by the blood and sustained by the feast, Israel marched out of the land of bondage. God was known to them first as a Judge, whose claims had been righteously met in the death of another, and then as a Saviour-God, whose power and grace were now free to flow out towards them without measure and without end.

The death of the Lord Jesus not only fulfilled every type of the old economy, but brought in blessing far beyond what Old Testament saints could have dreamed of. The supper is not a type of His death, as the Passover was, for in His death the type is fulfilled. It is a memorial of dying love. The shed blood in the sacrifices of old spoke only of a remembrance of sins. The Blood of Christ declares the glorious truth that now there can be remission of sins. The sins are gone, and the believer is brought to God.

The bread broken, and the wine poured out, speak of Christ in death. We remember Him in the place of death, where He has been; but we know Him now alive for evermore. And further, we do this in expectation of seeing Him again — "till He come." The Coming of the Lord is what we wait for. This feast is a testimony to the world that we take our place with the Lord of Glory whom the world crucified. In the presence of God, of angels, men, and demons, we "show the Lord's death till he come." The blood is shed for "many." If Israel reject Him yet the blessings procured by the Cross will flow out world-wide, and Gentile aliens will become, through grace, partakers of the heavenly calling. Luke records the Lord's touching request, "This do in remembrance of me." His people are ever on His heart. He would have us never to forget His dying love. Four things come out in connection with this feast of love: —
1 The Word of Christ — "This do."
2 The Work of Christ — "In remembrance."
3 The Person of Christ — "Of ME."
4 The Coming of Christ — "Till He come."

When He comes the Supper will cease.

The Passover is unlike the Supper in this: It was to be "observed as an ordinance for ever" (Ex. 12).

And in the coming millennial day, the Passover feast will be celebrated with greater solemnity than has ever yet been seen. The bullock, which speaks of fullest intelligence, will take the place of the passover lamb, and living waters will go forth in abundance from the threshold of the house, nourishing the tree whose fruit is for meat, and whose leaves are for medicine (Ezek. 45).

Then, again, the Supper cup is the blood of the new Covenant. The old Covenant was a covenant of works, and the blood in Exodus, which sealed it (Chap. 24:8), was a sign of death for the Covenant-breaker, as Israel has proved to their sorrow. The New Covenant is also with Israel, but the shed Blood in connection with it, speaks, as we have seen, of remission, instead of remembrance of sins, and Israel through it, will be brought into blessing on the ground of sovereign grace alone.

Believers today are blessed exactly on the same ground, but with this difference, that with Gentiles there was no Covenant relationship, yet all that Israel will receive as the earthly people, we shall receive in a richer, higher, and fuller way as a heavenly people, and this, too, before Israel's day of blessing is introduced.

The day is soon coming when He will drink the cup in a new way, with His own in the Father's Kingdom. Then, indeed, will have come the time of which the prophet spake — "He shall see of the travail of his soul and shall be satisfied" (Isa. 53). At His Table we respond to His desire, remember His death, return His love, rejoice in His presence, and our hearts beat high in the prospect of soon seeing Him again (John 16:22).

But men are ever ready to abuse what grace provides, and Christendom, by making this memorial into what they call a "sacrament" (from the Latin "sacramentum," the Roman military oath), and defining it as an "outward and visible symbol of an inward and spiritual grace," have largely lost the true meaning which the Supper is intended to convey. Not only so, but the first error has led to others, Transubstantiationists believe that, at the word of the priests the bread and wine changes its substance and becomes the very body and blood of Christ. Such is Romanist ignorance, darkness, and blasphemy.

Consubstantiationists believe that with the bread and wine there is present the body and blood of Christ. Such is the error which one man, otherwise greatly used of. God, has brought into the Lutheran Church. Consecrationists believe that before there can be a "real communion" the bread and wine must be "blessed" or "consecrated" by the ordained "priest" who officiates.

Thus, what was intended by the Lord to be a loving remembrance of accomplished Redemption, has become, in the minds of many, mystified into what they call a "sacrament," or a "means of grace." Ritualism has taken the place of reality, and man has usurped the place of the spirit of God. Others, alas, who profess to love the Lord, ignore His last request by neglecting altogether this wondrous privilege of the saints.

May we take heed to the apostolic injunction,

"Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is" (Heb. 10:25).

In the Gospels, then, we get the Supper Instituted; in the Acts we get the Supper Celebrated; and in the Epistles we get the Supper Expounded.

"And when they had sung an hymn they went out into the Mount of Olives."

The Jews at their Passover Supper were in the habit of reciting Psalm 113 and 114 after the "first cup"; and then, after the "third cup" — called the "cup of blessing" — they sang Psalm 115 to 118. If the Lord here used the same psalms, how well they would apply and be fulfilled in Him —
"The sorrows of death compassed me,
And the pains of hell gat hold upon me:
I found trouble and sorrow.
Then called I upon the name of the Lord;
O Lord, I beseech thee,
Deliver my soul.
God is the Lord, which hath showed us light:
Bind the sacrifice with cords,
Even unto the horns of the altar" (Ps. 116:3-4; Ps. 118:27).

And now He goes forth to Gethsemane's sorrow. But before entering the garden He warns the eleven that they were about to meet a time of testing which flesh and blood would not be able to bear. All would be offended in Him. The shepherd smitten, the sheep would be scattered. But what a word for their hearts, had they but had faith, even as a grain of mustard seed — "When I am RISEN AGAIN I will go before you into Galilee."

Peter's history here comes before us as a warning against self-confidence. And we have to mark that neither love nor knowledge is sufficient provision against the power of the enemy. That Peter loved his Master with all the true warm love of which his impulsive and affectionate nature was capable is certain (John 21:15). That he knew Him to be the Christ of God is equally certain (Matt. 16:16). But let us be less occupied with Peter's failure than with the lesson for ourselves arising therefrom. And that is, that if the first of the Apostles needed a strength beyond his own in the hour of trial, how much more do we need it?

Taking with Him the three disciples who had stood with Him at the bedside of Jairus's daughter and there witnessed His power — who had followed Him to the Holy Mount, and there witnessed His glory, He went a little farther, and, counting upon their human sympathy, said unto them, "My soul is exceeding sorrowful, even unto death: tarry ye here and watch with me." Alas, they prove as unsympathetic towards His sufferings as before, they had been irresponsive to His glory. Just here the secret of all the failure comes out. A prayerless life is a powerless life. There can be no standing for God, where there is no dependence upon God; and if there be no going forward in the Christian life there is certain to be failure and backsliding. So Peter found to his cost. At the close of the chapter he gets his own moral weakness disclosed to himself, by the One who alone could restore, strengthen, and forgive. Peter is seen (verse 33) self-confident, (verse 40) sleeping, (verse 51) rash, (verse 56) cowardly, (verse 70) bold in denying his Master. Inside the high priest's house there was the good confession of the Master; outside there is the thrice-repeated bold denial of the disciple — "I know not the man."

And yet, as if torn two ways, love makes him linger near. The cold, weary hours of the April morning creep slowly past. 'Peter is sitting with the servants and warming himself beside their fire (Mark). Suddenly, what would be to others a common and unimportant sound, reached their ears. But to Peter, no thunder-burst could have been more appalling. In letters of light, his every word, motive, and action of the last few hours rose before him, and turning away from himself with utter loathing, he rose up, went out and wept bitterly. What a fall! What repentance, and what grace that could produce such a recovery! It is here we get a true insight into the real character of this great-hearted disciple whom we have learned to know and love.

But to return. Verse 39 — "And he went a little farther, and fell on his face and prayed, saying, O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt."

Now He is alone with the Father. The moment was near when even God would forsake Him, and He would be alone, as no one ever was before, or could be. Separate from men because of what He was — the Holy One of God — He, on that Cross of shame, would he separated from God because of what He had voluntarily become — the Sin-bearer.

No human eyes witnessed that scene in Gethsemane. No human ear listened to that cry of sorrow. Matthew, who wrote this account of it, was not even among the favoured three, who were the nearest to their Lord. The Holy Spirit of God alone inspired the record, and, in revealing the details of this solemn scene, surely He had something for us to learn therefrom. It is clearly the anticipation of the Cross. But if this is the anticipation, what must the reality have been? Shall we ever know? He knew, and spread it all out before His Father. The thrice-repeated prayer could not be heard. The Son of Man must be lifted up. As the Holy One, we see Him shrinking from becoming the Covenant-Victim, yet as the Obedient One, He receives the cup "from His Father's hand." Our sins had filled it. Satan presented it But here He looks past all these, and in perfect communion with His Father says, "Thy will be done."

The prophetic utterances of Psalm 22 had already given the exercises of His soul, in view of, and upon, the Cross; as Isaiah 53 had spoken of Him as the great substitutionary Victim — the Lamb led to the slaughter.

In Psalm 22:2, He speaks of a prayer that is not heard, but Hebrews 5:7, referring surely to this same solemn moment, tells of Him "offering up prayers and supplications, with strong crying and tears, to him that was able to save him from (literally, out of) death; and was heard, in that he feared." And saved out of death He was; and in resurrection life, and power "he became the Author of eternal salvation, unto all them that obey him."

Returning to the three disciples, the Lord found them asleep and, addressing Peter, He said, "What, could ye not watch with me one hour? Watch and pray that ye enter not into temptation." The gentle rebuke might well have been a warning to Peter. Not many hours had passed since he had vowed to die with his Master. Might he not, then, be expected to watch with Him? But if he refused to profit by the Lord's instructions, he had to learn by his own bitter experiences, what the flesh is even in an apostle. So will it be with all who enter the school of God.

The traitor comes. The Lord, having passed in anticipation through all the awful agony and sorrow of the Cross, is now calm in the presence of the ruffian mob.

Oh, what a scene is here! Judas in his treachery. Peter in his rashness. The shrinking disciples The priestly hirelings. The Lord Jesus in divine dignity in the midst. One word from His lips and twelve legions of angels would have taken the place of Peter's faltering sword. But it was their hour, and the power of darkness.

The chief priests in the high priest's house sit in judgment, not to find the truth, but to find false witnesses. And even here their search is vain, for though many are called, yet none agree. Before the priests the Lord is condemned because of His own confession that He was the Son of God. But on their part, Caiaphas's question itself was only a cover for their hypocrisy. His death they had long ago decided on, and any means to reach that end was acceptable in their eyes.

The Lord, as ever, gives them truth beyond what they desired to learn. The day was coming when they would see Him, as "Son of Man," sitting on the right hand of power and coming in the clouds of heaven. At the moment, the power seemed to be on their side, and they would use it to the full.

No sooner has He been unjustly condemned than His judges step down from the bench to spit in His face (Mark), while the servants buffet, blindfold, and mock Him. It is neither the rude soldiers of the governor, nor the Gentile executioners here. It is the leaders of Israel that are so brought before us. They are seen seeking false witnesses: condemning the guiltless and setting an example in hatred and cruelty. The Son of Man thus stood before the leaders of Israel. What a moment when the leaders of Israel shall stand before the Son of Man.

Matthew 27 opens with "all the chief priests and elders" united in the awful sin of delivering up the Son of God to the Gentile power. Thus the greatest guilt falls upon those who had the greatest light. So Peter, in Acts 3, charges home their guilt upon them. Having condemned the guiltless, they now seek to colour their unholy proceedings with a show of legality, and deliver Him bound into the custody of Pilate.

Meanwhile, if they are not seized with remorse, Judas is. He brought back the wages of unrighteousness, and confessed his sin to the priests instead of to God. Satan, having finished with his dupe, insults him before destroying him. "What is that to us?" is their sneering answer to his conscience-stricken cry. Casting down the money he had sold his soul to acquire, he hastens, bent on self-destruction, to carry out the will of the devil. And now the hypocrisy of the human heart is here laid bare, as lately was its cruelty. The priests, with the money, purchased a burying-ground for strangers; but the public voice which is often keen to detect the motives of public men, gave the field its rightful name "Aceldama" — "The Field of Blood." Such their city and land soon became. And, alas, the whole world; for the guilt of Innocent Blood rests yet upon the world where the Lord of Glory died.

"And Jesus stood before the governor" — the presence of the Lord exposes the motives of every heart, and here we have next unfolded before us the heart history of a man scheming to retain place and power in this world, and utterly infidel as to the next. The policy of the priests, in bringing Him to Pilate, was to secure the intervention of the military power, and so shift the odium of the crime from their own heads, to that of the Romans. Pilate easily saw through their hypocrisy, and very soon arrived at the conclusion, which he held all through the closing scenes, that "it was for envy they had delivered him up." Finding no fault in Him, Pilate from henceforth sought to release Him. But though strong in brute force, Pilate was wholly lacking in the true strength of moral principle. To release the Lord, Pilate must first placate the priests, in order to secure his own position with the cruel and suspicious Tiberius at Rome. Three attempts were made without avail. First, Pilate declares, "I find no fault in him." Then he offers to release Barabbas. And lastly, as if in the endeavour to assuage their thirst for blood, he declares himself willing to scourge the One whom he had thrice declared to be innocent. Such is the righteousness of man.

But no man goes to hell unwarned. For the Roman of that day, the old "gods" of the Pantheon were "dead." A less virile and still more degrading superstition held them in bondage. Signs and omens were their guiding lights, and voices from the mystic land of dreams held powerful control over their minds. And God used what was perhaps the only avenue left open to that man's conscience, through the message sent to him by his wife. Her urgent entreaty but added to his indecision and increased his guilt, without giving power to do what he knew to be right.

Pilate's next shift was to send the Lord to Herod. And now the two Kings are together God's King and Man's King. We have already seen the character of man's king in Matthew 14 Here his acts are in keeping with his character. "And Herod with his men of war set him at nought, and mocked him, and arrayed him in a gorgeous robe, and sent him again to Pilate" (Luke 23:11).

One more effort the governor made, but it was answered by the fierce cry, "If thou let this man go thou art not Caesar's friend" (John 19:12). It was their last argument, and it prevailed. To retain the favour of Caesar, Pilate knowingly condemned the Innocent. That Pilate, after all, lost that favour, history, which we have no reason to doubt, records. And shortly afterwards he followed Judas on the same road to self-destruction. His mockery of hand washing was a feeble attempt to conceal his weakness and shift the guilt of his crime, but it was enough to induce the priests to invoke the consequences of the awful crime upon themselves and their children. That God in righteous government took them at their word, their history conclusively declares.

What a revelation of hearts is here, and all against the Son of God.
The leaders persuading the people to choose a felon.
The governor yielding up to death the Innocent.
The king of Israel mocking Israel's Messiah.
The people willing to accept any one if only the Lord is condemned, and finally accepting the responsibility of slaying the Prince of Life.

Now Pilate scourges the One he had thrice pronounced innocent. The soldiers gather round to satiate their cruelty with a sight of His sufferings. Here it is not the Jews that surround Him. The soldiers of the governor had little in common with the servants of the priests, but they were alike in this — the natural cruelty of the human heart, led on by Satan.

He is (1) stripped; (2) scourged; (3) buffeted; (4) mocked; (5) spit upon; (6) crowned with thorns; (7) crucified. Sevenfold sufferings measured out to the Holy Son of God by the guilty sons of men.

The Jews demand His blood. The Gentiles shed it. And psalm and prophecy is fulfilled as they gather round His Cross to insult the Holy Sufferer. Even the guilty robbers can forget, for a moment, their own agonies, to add to His.

But to continue the narrative of our Evangelist — let us notice here how God overruled all the malice and mockery of men for the fulfilment of prophecy and a testimony to His Son, the very opposite of what they intended. Matthew records that they put on Him a scarlet robe, and by that kingly colour they thereby declared that He was the King of the Jews. In Herod's palace He was arrayed in a "gorgeous" (white or shining) robe, thereby testifying to His sinless character. The priests and scribes who had followed might stand and "vehemently accuse" Him. He was arrayed before them in that which spoke of perfect innocence. Mark and John, again, tell of a purple robe. All are divinely suited to the way in which the Lord is brought before us in the different gospels. John tells us that He was the Son of God. Mark says that He became the Servant. But blessed be His name, the Son who became the Servant will in a soon-coming day be known as King of Kings and Lord of Lords. His Imperial character, expressed by the purple, will then be manifested to the whole universe.

And so again at the Cross, Pilate wrote a title — was it not this time to mock the Jew, instead of mocking the Lord? —

"This is Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews." So the complete title read, but each of the evangelists gives that portion suitable to his subject. They may be compared as under: —
This is Jesus * the King of the Jews (Matt.)
* * * The King of the Jews (Mark)
This is        * *The King of the Jews (Luke)
* Jesus of Nazareth the King of the Jews (John)
Such was man's part.

But "from the sixth hour there was darkness over all the land until the ninth hour." God draws a veil of darkness round the scene when the great question of ATONEMENT is taken up.

The bitter cry from that darkness, "My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?" expresses a forsaking which He, the Holy Victim, could alone measure.

As we contemplate this most solemn scene we can only bow our hearts and worship.

It has been well said, that the Cross is the centre of two eternities. The past eternity, if we may so speak, looked forward to it. All eternity to come will look back. In it God was fully displayed as Light and Love. His righteousness was so vindicated that His mercy might flow out unhinderedly. By it we are brought to God. "He is the propitiation for our sins." God's holy nature has been glorified. God's perfect love can now be lavished upon those who have been reconciled to Him by the death of His Son.

The Great Work of ATONEMENT is God's wonderful provision whereby all this may be accomplished (Lev. 16).

God has been pleased to present this to us from different standpoints: —
1 The propitiatory character of the death of Christ provides the ground where God can meet the sinner in righteousness (1 John 2, Rom. 3).
2 The expiatory character of the death of Christ meets our guilty condition. We were sinful, and sin must be put away (Heb. 9).
3 The substitutionary character of the death of Christ meets our responsibility. We were condemned, and Another must take our place and bear our judgment (1 Peter 2).
4 The redeeming character of the death of Christ meets our state. As slaves of sin and Satan, only a mighty ransom could deliver us. We are now no longer slaves, but sons, with the spirit of sons, and waiting for the redemption of the body (Rom. 8; Rev. 5).

Here at the Cross every question is raised and settled. God's glory is righteously vindicated. Man's need is fully met. Satan's power is for ever broken.

But — to complete the mighty work — it remained but for Him to die. Death followed sin; and, taking the sinner's place, He met the sinner's doom. But He went into death in order that He might destroy him that had the power of it — that is, the devil. He was already the Victor over him. Now, by the assertion of His divine power, He dismissed His Spirit and died. He had power to lay down His life and power to take it again (John 10:18).

There are seven utterances on the Cross, somewhat in the following order: —
1 "Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do" (Luke 23:34).
2 "Verily I say unto thee, to-day shalt thou be with me in paradise" (Luke 23:43).
3 Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani (Matt. 27:46).
4 "Woman, behold thy Son!" (John 19:26).
5 "I thirst" (John 19:28).
6 "It is finished" (John 19:30).
7 "Father, into Thy hands I commend my spirit" (Luke 23:46).

The Prince of Life has gone into the domain of death. Great results will certainly follow, and they begin immediately.

The number of separate striking incidents which are grouped together within the sixteen closing verses of this wonderful chapter is remarkable.

The first and immediate result of the Lord's death was the rending asunder, from top to bottom, of the temple veil. And this event was coincident with the offering of the evening sacrifice at the ninth hour. Our Evangelist records the fact. Another inspired apostle gives us the divine commentary thereon. Never more need another innocent lamb bleed under the sacrificial knife. The true Lamb of God, the great Antitype of every sacrifice, had died, and now, for the believer, there is remission of sins, instead of their remembrance (Heb. 10:3-14).

The temple, as is well known, was divided into two parts. Into the first went the priests daily. In the second, or Holy of Holies, there was, in Solomon's temple, a manifestation of God in the Shekinah glory. Man durst not go in, and God did not come out. But now the rent veil spoke of the fact that God, through the death of the Lord Jesus, was fully revealed, without a veil, either to hide or separate. And further, there is also what that death has done for the believer. It has fitted him for the presence of God in light. And so, to refer again to Hebrews 10, we are fitted to draw near. We are invited to draw near, and we have a Great High Priest to maintain our souls ever in the place of conscious nearness. THE BLOOD is the foundation of our every blessing.

Nature itself seemed to have its part at this sublime moment. Quaking earth and rending rocks were doubtless only the agencies employed by the mighty hand of God to open the graves of the saints, but they testify to the solemn character of the events which are taking place. And Scripture is careful to state that it was after His resurrection that the saints themselves arose.

There is also the effect upon the Gentile centurion. All the synoptists record it, but only Matthew includes "those that were with him." Our Evangelist, as we have frequently seen, often indicates the widening out of Kingdom blessing far beyond the narrow bounds of Israel, and here for the first time we have a Gentile company convinced and confessing, "truly this was the Son of God" (verse 54).

Let us pause here, and contemplate for a moment the condition of things on the evening of this day of days in the world's history.

It is between the hours of four and six o'clock (our time). A dead Christ, refused by His nation, betrayed by one of His own disciples, murdered by the Gentiles, hangs upon a gibbet. His few followers, in whose breasts hope and fear had alternated during the week gone by, now find themselves with every hope gone, fear crushing out their courage and despair filling their hearts. Only one of them — the one who had lain in His bosom, now stood by His Cross.

But if disciples fail, there are others who do not. The women that followed Him from Galilee, are, at the beginning, seen "afar off" (as we should expect) from that scene of horror: but later, it would appear ( John 20), draw as near as the javelins of the Roman guard would permit. Faith may have died out of their hearts, but fear found no place there. Love — never stronger than when its object is most in need — is what characterises them, and the Spirit of God so describes their devotion. They would watch by His body until the stone concealed it from their sight.

And now, to prepare for their "high day," the priests desire Pilate to order the removal of the bodies from the Cross, doubtless to be cast into a felon's grave. But again prophecy was to be fulfilled to the letter. "His grave was appointed with the wicked, but he was with the rich in his death" (Isa. 53). They might break the legs of the others, but "a bone of him shall not be broken" (John 19). After the witness of the blood and water, which flowed from His spear-pierced side, God took care that no indignity should he offered to Him in death, who had so perfectly glorified God in His life. And just as one professed disciple had been bold in denying Him, so now a secret disciple becomes bold in confessing Him. Love for the Lord overcame the fear for his fellows. And Nicodemus, another rich man, shares in this most privileged service. If John 3 be Nicodemus's Conversion, and John 7 his Confession, here surely we have his Consecration. In open face of His enemies, in the time of their seeming triumph, these two devoted men identify themselves with their crucified Lord.

Joseph's new tomb receives His body. Love laid Him there. Hatred sealed the stone and set a watch. The women who had followed Him from Galilee, and who had waited at the Cross, to see, as they thought, the end, wait still to see the place where He was laid.

Three of the Marys are here there are four mentioned in the Gospels — and Joanna, the wife of Herod's steward. Salome also is here with all her high hopes for James and John, which hopes now lie buried in His tomb. And so perhaps with them all. Nevertheless, oh, how they loved Him!

But two of the Marys are singled out beyond the others — apart from the others. The great stone has been rolled to the door of the sepulchre. Joseph and the others have departed to their own homes, but "there was Mary Magdalene and the other Mary sitting over against the sepulchre" (verse 61).

It is the gathering dusk of the Friday evening. We shall meet them again in the glorious dawn of the third day morning, once more wending their way to the same spot, to be the first to hear from angel lips the heart-gladdening words, "He is not here: He is risen."

But if Joseph's tomb received His body the priests would make sure that it should remain there. With this end in view they request from Pilate that means be taken to "make it sure." Pilate said unto them — was it again in mockery? — "Ye have a watch: go your way, make it as sure as ye can." What words are adequate here? Imagination itself fails to cover the ground between the opposing forces. The puny power of the priests on the one side: on the other the almighty power of God. Man striving with his Maker.

Nervously, tensely apprehensive of that "third day," in spite of their apparent triumph, the priests are now as anxiously considering the question of how to keep a dead Man in the grave, as but yesterday they were scheming how to slay Him.

But God overrules all for the glory of Christ. The world will demand proofs of His resurrection. His enemies will supply them abundantly. So again the servants of the priests visit Golgotha. They affix the official Great Seal of the Sanhedrim to the stone covering the door of the sepulchre. They set a watch — a watch of soldiers — of the best soldiers in the world — a watch of Roman soldiers, and depart to keep their "high" Sabbath, while the Lord of the Sabbath lies low within the tomb.

Surely death, the sealed stone, and the soldier guard can be jointly trusted to keep their prey secure. The seeming triumph of Satan is complete.

Section 12. Matthew 28.

Resurrection, Victory, and Joy

The great apostle of the Gentiles, in restating the foundations of Christian truth, emphasises three great cardinal facts: —
1 That Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures.
2 That He was buried.
3 That He rose again the third day (1 Cor. 15:1-4).

"If Christ be not risen," argues the apostle, "then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain." "But now is Christ risen from the dead and become the first fruits of them that slept."

Our Evangelist gives us the historical narrative with which these truths are connected. The first and second we have already considered. The third comes within the scope of the present chapter. Matthew 28 is the Victory Chapter, and it opens with all the pomp and circumstance connected therewith. Triumph is its keynote, joy its dominant, and all power its climax. Man might set his seal upon the grave of Christ, but here God sets His seal upon the work of Christ. Having gone down under all the wrath of God and exhausted it, He is raised from the dead by the glory of the Father.

Spite of stone, and seal, and soldier guard —
"Up from the grave He arose
With a mighty triumph o'er His foes, Hallelujah."

Of what use, then, all the scheming and planning of the priests? Much. They provide proof positive to the world of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. The believer has, of course, another set of proofs which other Scriptures fully develop. But let us look at those His enemies supply.

The Lord had so frequently foretold His resurrection, that, although His disciples ha .d forgotten it, yet His enemies could not. Hence all their plans to prevent it. That He was dead before being taken down from the Cross, is proved by Pilate's refusal to allow the Body to be removed until assured by his own centurion that the Lord was already dead (Mark). The priests also testified to the fact when they demanded the watch — "He said, while he was yet alive." Now they knew He was dead. Again, they themselves, or by their servants, sealed His body in the tomb; and further, they drew a cordon of sixty soldiers round the sepulchre. Yet, notwithstanding all the precautions taken by the Jews to prevent it, early on the morning of the third day the stone was rolled away and the tomb was seen by all to be empty. The frightened soldiers announce it. The priests confess it. Fifty days afterwards the disciples proclaim it throughout the city, and the priests never once challenge their veracity.

In our chapter we have two different accounts of how this event took place, one by His friends and another by His foes.

Let us look at the latter first. Early in the morning some of the watch, fleeing from the terror of the angelic presence, entered the city to report the extraordinary event to their employers. The question now before their third council was no longer — How to keep Him in the tomb, but — How to conceal the admitted fact that the Lord was risen. Boldly they will attempt the impossible. In the face of a rent veil the priests invent the lie. In face of angel and earthquake and empty tomb the soldiers disseminate it. They told the truth to the priests. Bribed, and taught by the priests, they lied to the people — "His disciples came by night and stole him away while we slept." The words of the priests so evidently carry their falsehood in their face that the Evangelist does not trouble to refute them. Neither need we. But it is well we should mark this: There is no fact of history more credibly attested by human evidence than the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. Therefore, when anyone, be he open infidel or religious "professor," denies this fact, he also denies with it the value of evidential testimony to all other facts of bygone time.

Nothing can be more conclusive than the way in which that great master of logic, the Apostle Paul, marshals the proofs of the resurrection for the Corinthian doubters; and the testimony of 500 witnesses cannot easily be overthrown. See the whole passage, 1 Cor. 15:1-8. There is: —
1 The testimony of the Scriptures (verses 3, 4).
2 The testimony of Cephas (verse 5).
3 The testimony of the Twelve (verse 5).
4 The testimony of about 500 brethren (verse 6).
5 The testimony of James (verse 7).
6 The testimony of all the Apostles (verse 7).
7 The testimony of Paul (verse 8).

A sevenfold chain of evidence, convincing and conclusive. Modernism, when it denies the fact of the resurrection, proclaims itself to be not only infidel, but illogical. Scripture exposes both its wickedness and its weakness.

But let us return to the narrative of inspiration.

Very early on the morning of the first day of the week, the two Marys again seek the one spot on earth round which their affections centre. So far as their knowledge went, their visit could only result in "seeing the sepulchre." Did not the stone conceal the grave and the guard defend it? But early though they went, a visitor had been there before them who could brush these things away as the mists before the morning sun. The angel had come from the land of light, and brought with him some of the characteristics of that land. His countenance was like lightning and his raiment as white as snow. We are going to that land, and it is our privilege to have the light of it in our hearts even now. That which brought fear to the keepers, brought joy to the women — deeper in that it was so wholly unexpected, and to still further deepen, as they would learn later, all that the resurrection meant to His followers.

And they in turn are commissioned to carry the message to the disciples. This portion is very beautiful. The angel, in calm dignity, sitting on that which had covered an empty tomb. His very presence, without any exertion of power, is sufficient to overcome the guard. His intelligence in the mind of the Lord is as marked as his activity in the service of the Lord. He could instruct the women, and through them, the disciples, where to go to meet the Lord. Another Scripture describes angels as ministering spirits sent forth to minister to them who shall be heirs of salvation (Heb. 1:14). And even the Lord Himself, when on earth, was frequently the recipient of their ministry. On one occasion we read of an angel from heaven strengthening Him. The thought of the Creator and Lord of Angels being strengthened by an angel, gives a wonderful glimpse of the real manhood of our blessed Lord. Their mission of service to believers is often mentioned in the New Testament. We find them in Matthew 18 watching over the little ones. In Luke 15 we read of them rejoicing over the repentant ones. In 1 Corinthians 11 they are present with the worshipping ones; and in Luke 16 they are seen bearing the spirits of redeemed ones to paradise. Thus they are represented in the present age as the ministers of God's grace to believers: in the coming day they will be the executors of His judgment upon the guilty.

But if the presence and message of the angel filled the hearts of the women with mingled fear and joy, Another was about to meet them who would banish fear from their hearts for ever and communicate to them, in His soul-inspiring word of greeting, something of the joy that filled His own heart on that glorious morning.

"And as they went to tell his disciples, behold Jesus met them, saying, All hail."

We are so accustomed to be occupied with our needs, and to rejoice in our blessings, that we are in danger of failing to enter into His joy. And yet it is only as we enter into His joy that we perceive the basis on which our highest joys rest. He had to say, before the Cross, "I have a baptism to be baptized with, and how am I straitened till it be accomplished" (Luke 12:50). Now, on the further side of the Cross and the grave, standing on resurrection ground, He can associate with Himself, in resurrection life, those on whom His love has been set from all eternity. Redemption's work completed, nothing intervenes to hinder all the love and grace of His heart flowing out to His own, in order to bring them into the place of established relationship with the Father and conscious nearness before Him: and not only so, but giving us a nature that enjoys the light of His presence, knowing that the glory of that light only manifests the perfection of our standing, which is nothing less than Christ Himself.

Doubtless but little of this could be known by the women in our chapter, but the great point here is, that they had found the One who was the centre of their heart's affections, and "falling at his feet they worshipped him." Here is the first essential of all worship, and the greater the love, the higher the worship.

The Lord confirms the angels' instructions; but by changing one word, He adds a link of precious intimacy which never could have been known before the Cross. It is no longer "my disciples," but "my brethren." Disciples they still were, of course, but He was about to declare the Father's Name to them, according to the prophecy of Psalm 22:22, and from henceforth become the Leader of their praises. The congregation of them that praise Him has but a small place in the world to-day, but the day is fast nearing when He will be the Centre of the Great Congregation, and "all the ends of the world shall remember and turn unto the Lord: and all the kindreds of the nations shall worship before thee" (Ps. 22:27).

At the Cross the foundation was laid of which this will be the glorious consummation. On that first Lord's day morning the keynote was struck of that universal song of praise which will fill the redeemed earth. It will be expressed in the language of Psalm c., and men will learn, according to the theology of the psalmist, that Jehovah is God, and that Jehovah is good. Even "the creature itself will be brought into the glorious liberty of the sons of God" (Rom. 8:21).

All this is intimately connected with the presentation of Kingdom truth in Matthew's Gospel. The disciples are instructed to meet Him in Galilee, not in Jerusalem. The nation and its capital city no longer represent God's centre upon the earth. A Kingdom is about to be instituted, the scope of whose operations will not be confined to one nation, but will go on expanding and increasing until every nation under heaven be brought under its beneficent sway.

But before following the company into Galilee, it may be well to notice the ten different appearings of our Lord, to His disciples, after His resurrection. They are as follows: —
1 To Mary Magdalene alone (Mark 16; John 20).
2 To the women returning from the sepulchre (Matt. 28).
3 To Simon Peter alone (Luke 24).
4 To the two disciples on the Emmaus road (Luke 24).
5 To the Apostles at Jerusalem, Thomas being absent (John 20).
6 These first five appearings all took place on the first Lord's day.
7 Eight days afterwards to the disciples, Thomas being with them (John 20).
8 To seven of the disciples at the Sea of Tiberias (John 21).
9 To the disciples in Galilee (Matt. 28; 1 Cor. 15:6).
10 To James alone; time and place unknown (1 Cor. 15).
To the disciples at Jerusalem, on the day of the Ascension (Luke 24; Acts 1; 1 Cor. 15:7).

By comparing 1 Corinthians 15:6 with verse 10 of our chapter it would seem that the appearing in Galilee was to the whole company of the brethren, and that the occasion was the institution of the Kingdom in world-wide character. Matthew began his career as a disciple by gathering in a "great company" into his own house. He is now to learn from the lips of the Lord that the blessing is to extend to every house under heaven, the scope of Kingdom blessing being nothing less than "all nations," in contrast with the mission in Matthew 10, which extended only to the "lost sheep of the house of Israel."

But how much needed was this word of encouragement — "All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth." The disciples could not be ignorant of the fact that, all the powers of the world, backed by the power of Satan, were against them, as they had been against their Master, and they needed to be reminded that their Master was the Victor over every foe. He had already said to them, as another Gospel tells: "Be of good cheer, I have overcome the world" (John 16:33). And the same apostle who records the fact gives us later the key of the overcoming life: "This is the victory that overcometh the world, even your faith" (1 John 5:4). The man of faith, walking in faith, is invincible. Satan has no dart strong enough to pierce the shield of faith. The world has no allurement sweet enough to attract the heart that is filled with the love of Christ. The world is an enemy's land, but Satan, the prince of it, is a defeated foe, and ALL POWER is in the hands of our risen Victorious Lord. Oh, that every young believer would firmly grasp at the very outset of his Christian pathway this great and inspiring truth — the LOVE and POWER of Christ are both for ME, to-day, and all the days, until I see His face.

Now we get, in closing, the Great Commission. It will be noticed that each of the Gospels give this in different terms: the superficial reader may think, in contradictory terms. But not so. A little closer attention will show that all four are required to express the different aspects of the great work of grace that began in the world at Pentecost, is going on to-day, and will continue all the days, until the consummation of the age.

Beginning first with John's Gospel (John 20:21), we have brought before us the Person who sends, and the fact that the disciple goes forth with the message of grace in the same manner, sent by the Lord, as the Lord Himself became the "Sent One" of the Father, "full of grace and truth." He came, suffered, died, rose again, showed them His hands and His side, became the Door, that by Him "if ANY man (no longer Jews only) enter in he shall be saved (John 10). Judaism knew nothing of this. It was a new and wondrous truth even to Apostles, and were we less familiar with the Gospel sound, it would be the same to us.

In Luke we read (Luke 24:46-49): "Thus it is written, and thus it behoved Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day; and that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. And ye are witnesses of these things."

Here we get the foundation on which the proclamation rests, coupled with the moral condition produced by the reception of the testimony.

Mark sets before us, in few words, the responsibility of the hearer, with the results of either the acceptance or the rejection of the gospel of grace. "He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned" (Mark 16:16).

Returning now to the Commission as given by our Evangelist, we find that Matthew carries us onward to the grand climax of all the ways of God in grace, with men. The Father's Name is revealed, and "all nations" are to be baptized — no longer into John's baptism, as in Matthew 3, or even Messiah's baptism, as in John 4 — but "in the Name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Ghost." The whole wide world is the sphere of the testimony, and the day is coming when the Commission will have been executed, the Testimony received, and "they shall teach no more every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord, for they shall all know me, from the least of them unto the greatest of them, saith the Lord" (Jer. 22:34). "For the earth shall be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the LORD, as the waters cover the sea" (Hab. 2:14).

Till that moment the King, though absent in Person, has been, is, and will be present with every servant, in the face of every foe, every day, and all the days until the "end of the age," when "He shall appear the second time without sin unto salvation." Then —
"Kings shall fall down before Him,
 And gold and incense bring.
All nations shall adore Him —
 His praise all people sing.
Outstretched His wide dominion
 O'er river, sea, and shore,
Far as the eagle's pinion,
 Or dove's light wing can soar."

Notes and Outlines

1. Matthew 1.

1. CHRIST AS MESSIAH.

1. Introduced as "Son of David," and, as such, Heir to the Throne of David. Compare Psalm 89:29: —

"His seed will I make to endure for ever, and his throne as the days of heaven."

2. Also as "Son of Abraham," and, as such, Heir to all the Promises. Compare Galatians 3:16: — "Now to Abraham and his seed were the promises made. He saith not, And to seeds, as of many; but as of one, And to thy seed, which is Christ."

"In thee shall all nations be blest" (Gal. 3:8).

2. NOTE THAT THE GENEALOGY is divided into three parts, and traces His descent from His kingly ancestor, David, and the Receiver of the Promises, Abraham.

1 Abraham to David — Promise.

2 David to the Captivity — Declension.

3 The Captivity to Christ — Darkness.

3. FOUR WOMEN are introduced, and show God working out His purposes of grace in spite of man's wickedness and folly.

1 Thamar — The Sin of Man.

2 Rahab — The faith of the Gentile laying hold of the promise of God.

3 Ruth — The grace that can set aside the claims of Law.

4 Bathsheba — The blessing God can bring out of even the failures of His people.

2. Matthew 2.

THREE Companies found in this chapter.

THREE Effects produced by the presence of the Lord Jesus.

1. HEROD HEARD AND WAS TROUBLED.

Herod was an Idumean, and therefore a usurper. He had no legal right to the throne of David. He was the type of man's King — Satan, the usurper.

2. SCRIBES HEARD AND WERE INDIFFERENT.

The Scribes were the doctors of the Law, and knew the sacred writings so well that they could tell the king at once where the Lord was to be born, but they did not trouble to go and see.

1 They had the Scriptures, but believed them not.

2 They had a measure of light, but loved the darkness.

3 They had the "key of knowledge" (Luke 11:52), but were ignorant of the ways of God.

3. THE WISE MEN HEARD AND REJOICED.

1. They found the "One born King of the Jews," worshipped Him, and presented their gifts.

2. Three things mentioned: 1, gold; 2, frankincense; 3, myrrh. Gold — their tribute to His essential Divinity. Frankincense — offered to Him as God manifest in flesh. Myrrh — emblematic of the suffering and death into which love led the Holy One of God. In a future day they will bring "gold and incense" but no myrrh. Compare Isaiah 60.

3. Matthew 3.

1. THE WARNING OF JOHN.

A new dispensation is beginning; therefore repent in order to enter the Kingdom of Heaven. No time to lose: it is near.

1 Repent because men are sinners.

Repent because sinners cannot enter without a change of heart.

Repent because the kingdom is at hand.

2 Repent "because He hath appointed a day in which He will judge" (Acts 17:31).

Just now He wants to bless. The goodness of God produces Repentance. This goodness is expressed in the Gospel.

2. THE WORK OF CHRIST.

1 A Converting work. "He shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost" — Laid hold of by the Spirit for blessing NOW.

2 A Separating work. If blessed now, separated from the world and saved from its doom. If Christ is rejected now, then, when "He baptizes with fire," the sinner will be separated from God for ever.

3. THE WITNESS OF THE FATHER.

1 As to His Relationship — "My Beloved Son." The Believer, through the wonderful grace of God, is brought into the same relation- ship (1 John "Now are we the Sons of God."

2 As to His perfect life below — "In whom I am well pleased." See 1 Peter 2:21, and compare 1 Timothy 4:12, "Be thou an example."

4. Matthew 4.

SEVEN MARKS OF CHRIST'S GLORY AND POWER.

1 The Voice of the Father.

2 The Descent of the Spirit.

3 The Ministry of Angels.

4 His Power over Satan.

5 His Authority over Disease.

6 The Light to them that sat in Darkness.

7 The attraction for the hearts of men.

1. THE POWER OF CHRIST to Defeat the Devil.

Satan presented Three great Temptations — "all that is in the world."

Before these our first parents and every other son of Adam's race had failed. But Christ was tempted and emerged victorious. Compare 1 John 2, "The Lust of the Flesh" — what can I get? "The Lust of the Eye" — what can I see? "The Pride of Life" — what can others see in me

2. THE POWER OF CHRIST to Attract the Heart.

Simon Peter, Andrew, James, and John FOLLOWED JESUS.

1 The secret of the attraction — LOVE.

2 The object of the attraction — HIMSELF.

3. THE POWER OF CHRIST to introduce Blessing and a new order on Earth.

1 By the preaching of the Gospel of the Kingdom which was at hand. Men to repent and get ready to enter.

2 By undoing the evil Satan had done. Annulling the power of the devil, and delivering his lawful captives.

5. Matthew 5.

1. The Lord describes the characteristics of those who enter the Kingdom coupled with the Blessings they will enjoy in the day of EARTHLY DISPLAY.

Characteristics.

1 Poor — Entrance to the Kingdom.

2 Mourners — Comfort.

3 Meek — Inheritance.

4 Hungerers after righteousness Satisfaction.

5 Merciful — Mercy.

6 Pure — See God.

7 Persecuted — Joy.

2. Contrast the last of the "Blesseds" with the first, where the pronoun is "they." Here it is "YE," and great is your reward IN HEAVEN.

When Persecuted for CHRIST'S SAKE, Three things follow: —

1 We are drawn nearer the Lord.

2 We get a deeper sense of His love and power.

3 We shine more brightly before the world.

3. Vv. 13 and 14 show what the True Believer is In the world and To the world.

1 SALT — That which Preserves. So the disciples were to stand for the rights of God.

2 LIGHT — That which Reveals, Guides, or Warns. So Grace was to go out from disciples to a lost world, heedless of its danger and doom.

The Warning. — The salt may lose its savour.

The light may be put under a bushel.

6. Matthew 6.

THE PRAYER THAT TEACHES TO PRAY.

Contains Six Petitions following the Invocation. Three of the Petitions are Godward; three are Manward. The last three deal with the Present, Past, and Future.

THE INVOCATION: OUR FATHER IN HEAVEN

Teaches us To Whom to pray. The thought of FATHER implies Relationship, and so we are reminded of the Cost of making this possible, through Death and Resurrection. With this before us we say "OUR FATHER," and we ought to say it

HUMBLY because it is God who is our Father, LOVINGLY because God is our FATHER,

WITH ASSURANCE because GOD IS our Father,

HOPEFULLY because All POWER is His,

REVERENTLY because He 1S in HEAVEN.

1. HALLOWED BE THY NAME.

The NAME declares the measure of the Revelation.

To ADAM — THE LORD GOD Creator Relationship.

To ABRAHAM — GOD ALMIGHTY Power For Him.

To MOSES — JEHOVAH — The Eternal, Self-existing, unchanging, Covenant-Keeping One.

To CHRISTIANS — FATHER — Relationship and Love.

2. THY KINGDOM COME.

Three things in every well-governed Kingdom.

1 SECURITY — Compare Believers Present Position — "They shall never Perish."

2 LIBERTY — Compare Believers Present Position — "Ye shall be free indeed."

3 PLENTY  — Compare Believers Present Position — "ALL Spiritual Blessings."

3. THY WILL BE DONE.

Seen in perfection in the Lord Jesus.

Should be seen in Believers.

Will be seen in the Coming day of display

When, all usurpers put down,

THE RIGHTFUL KING Will reign in RIGHTEOUSNESS.

7. Matthew 6.

THE PRAYER THAT TEACHES TO PRAY (continued).

4. "GIVE US THIS DAY OUR DAILY BREAD."Present.

The Rich who are able to buy, or the Poor who must condescend to beg, equally need to pray this petition. God has provided once for all, all the minerals men may need but for our Daily Bread we depend on the Daily Faithfulness of a Covenant-Keeping God (Gen. 9:9) in giving annually seedtime and harvest with unfailing grace.

1 So we ask with the knowledge of His Power to supply.

2 And we ask with a Sense of our need.

The object. — Continue us in life to glorify Thee.

5. "FORGIVE US." — Past.

The sense here is Restoration: in order that we may continue in Communion with a Father who always acts in grace.

So we too must act in grace to others — "as we forgive." Forgiveness means to "Let off." The Sinner should be "detained" and "punished," but God is ready to forgive.

1 Christ died to make Forgiveness Possible.

2 All need Forgiveness.

3 We are commanded to Preach Forgiveness in His Name.

6. DELIVER US. — Future.

Expresses the need of being kept from Satan's Power. Not to be tried as Job or Peter, lest we may become more like Peter than Job.

Paul's beautiful and Confident testimony.

He Hath delivered (Col. 1:13).

He Will deliver (2 Tim. 4:18).

See also He Doth deliver (Psalm 97:10).

8. Matthew 6.

"SEEK YE FIRST THE KINGDOM OF GOD" (Ver. 33).

1. "SEEK" a Divine Command.

Because by nature men are astray and lost. This lost condition shows itself in two ways: —

1 Opposition to God (Illustrate, Pharaoh).

2 Indifference to God (Illustrate, Gallio).

2. "FIRST" a Definite Time.

Remember now . . . in the days of thy youth (Eccl. 12:1).

In the morning of life.

Because seeking "other things" first

1 Grieves the Spirit.

2 Hardens the heart.

3 Sears the Conscience.

3. THE KINGDOM OF GOD — a Particular thing.

"The Kingdom of God" is opposed to the "world of Satan."

The World is going on to Judgment.

The Believer is going on to glory.

Each one is either in God's Kingdom or in Satan's World.

"What shall it profit a man if he gain the whole world

And lose his own soul?"

4. OTHER THINGS shall he added — a Sure Promise.

Be not anxious for to-morrow.

Your Father knoweth your need.

"My God shall supply all your need" (Phil. 4:19).

9. Matthew 7.

In Matthew 6 we learn "How to give."

In Matthew 7 we learn "How to get." Men say "get to give." God says "give to get."

The Grace of God enables the Believer to do so.

He manifests the Grace by practising the "Golden Rule."

This can only be done in the

1 Power of the New Life, by those who have

2 Entered in at the STRAIT GATE.

THE LORD SAYS THERE ARE

Two GATES.

1. The Strait Gate. ENTERED by Conversion "Strive." Only those in earnest, The Few, find it.

Two WAYS.

"The Way of life."

"The Way of the Lord."

"The Way of Good Men (Prov. 2:20).

"The Way of Wisdom" (Prov. 4:11).

"The Way of Truth" (Ps. 119:30).

"The Way of thy Testimonies" (Ps. 119:14).

"I am the Way" (John 14:6).

Two ENDS.

The END of your faith.

The SALVATION of your Souls.

LIFE ETERNAL.

9. Matthew 7. — continued.

Two GATES.

2. The Wide Gate. Entered by Rejecting the Saviour and Turning away from the Cross. Held in it by —

1 Chains of Sin.

2 Fear of Men.

3 Power of Satan.

Two WAYS.

"The Way of Death" (Prov. 14:12).

"The Way of Sinners" (Ps. 1) .

"The Way of a Fool" (Prov. 12:15).

"The Way of the Evil Men" (Prov. 2:12).

"The Way of Darkness" (Prov. 13).

"The Way of the Wicked" (Prov. 15:9).

"The Way of Destruction" (Rom. 3:1 6) .

Two ENDS.

The Great White Throne.

The Judgment.

Condemnation.

The Second Death.

10. Matthew 8.

THE DIGNITY OF HIS PERSON.

1. THE LEPER: Picture of the DEFILEMENT and HOPELESSNESS produced by Sin.

1 He knew he was a leper. "All have sinned."

2 He heard of a Saviour. Good news to him: The Gospel is good news to sinners.

3 He believed in His Power.

4 He received the Blessing.

2. THE PALSIED MAN: Picture of the HELPLESSNESS Produced by Sin.

1 We CAN do nothing. The Work to be done completely beyond our power. Satan to be defeated — Death overcome — Judgment borne.

2 We NEED to do nothing, for the work is done. The hatred of man brought out the love of God. "I will come and heal him." "He came to seek and to save."

3. THE WOMAN SICK OF A FEVER: Picture of the UNREST produced by Sin.

"No Peace, saith my God, to the wicked" (Isa. 57:21).

"The Way of Peace have they not known" (Rom. 3:17).

BUT Christ Made Peace (Col. 1:20).

Christ Brings Peace (John 20:19).

Christ Preaches Peace (Eph. 2:17).

Christ Is our Peace (Eph. 2:14).

Illustrate

A Purchased Peace (2 Kings 15).

A National Peace (1 Kings 5).

A Universal Peace (Isa. 9).

11. Matthew 8.

THE DIGNITY OF HIS PERSON.

"Man's Day" sets in darkness and sorrow (verse 16). When earth's sun was sinking, suffering humanity came to Christ and experienced all the grace and power of God. That power which works through the "night" and in the "morning" will display all the divine and glorious completion of His purposes of love and mercy.

Man's day — "Morning and Evening."

God's day — "Evening and Morning" (Gen. 1).

1. THE LORD PURPOSES TO CROSS TO THE OTHER SIDE and two men are tested.

1 The first is hindered by the world.

2 The second is hindered by his relations.

The foxes had holes.

The birds had nests.

Christ had nowhere to lay His head.

A man's foes shall be they of his own household.

He that loveth father or mother more than ME is not worthy of Me.

2. DISCIPLESHIP — "His disciples followed Him" (verse 23).

The beginning of discipleship is obedience produced in the heart by the power of love.

We "obey from the heart" because we love.

So we have a chain of four links: —

A heart full of Love is a heart full of joy.

A heart full of Joy is a life full of power.

A Life full of Power is a mouth full of praise.

A mouth full of Praise is a Life full of FRUIT.

12. Matthew 9.

THE CHARACTERISTICS OF HIS MISSION.

1. THE FORGIVER OF SINS (verse 2). The sin question must be faced first, when Men are brought to God.

Sins either put away or punished.

Sinners either forgiven or judged.

2. THE RECEIVER OF SINNERS (verse 10). God hates sin but loves sinners. Satan loves sin hut hates sinners. Christ died to save sinners. Holy Spirit pleads with sinners.

3. THE BRINGER OF JOY (verse 15).

Joy the normal condition of Christianity.

A Man who is Forgiven, Justified, Delivered from Satan's Power and on his way to Heaven OUGHT to be happy.

Illustrate: Matthew; Great Feast; Great Company; Great Joy (Luke 5).

4. IN THE BRIDEGROOM'S ABSENCE (verse 15).

The disciples will "fast."

Our attitude to the world now.

We go through it, being

"Not of it" and taking nothing from it.

BUT "I will see you again, and your hearts shall rejoice, and your joy no man taketh from you" (John 16:22).

13. Matthew 9.

1. THE GIVER OF LIFE (Janus' Daughter raised from the dead, verses 23-25).

Sinners are "Dead in sins" (Eph. 2:5).

Believers are "Dead to Sin" (Rom. 6:2).

Believers are Dead to the Law (Gal. 2:19).

Believers are Dead to the World (Col. 3:3).

BUT Alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord (Rom. 6:12).

2. THE GIVER OF LIGHT.

Sin Blinds the mind to the things of God (2 Cor. 4:4).

Men are blind to their danger, to their need, and to the beauty of the Lord Jesus.

The Gospel of God is sent to "open their eyes" (Acts 26:18).

Christ is the "True Light" (John 1:9).

Believers should walk in the Light (1 John 1:7).

And be the Light of the World (Matt. 5:14).

3. THE GIVER OF SPEECH.

Unloosed Tongues Confess Jesus as Lord (Rom. 10:9).

Show forth His Praise (Ps. 51:15).

Talk of all His Wondrous Works (Ps. 105:2).

Speak of His Majesty (Ps. 145:5).

Worship God (Rev. 4:10).

14. Matthew 10.

In Matthew 10. The King sends forth His Messengers to announce the Coming Kingdom.

The Lord is presented in a threefold way —

1. As Son of David; 2. Son of God; 3. Son of Man.

1. THE LORD JESUS as Son of David and David's rights.

Messiah come and the Kingdom announced.

The defeat of Death, Disease, and the Devil, will mark the Kingdom when established in power. Righteousness will Reign, and there will be world-wide Blessing.

2. THE OPPOSITION to both Messiah and His Kingdom

(1) By the Rulers; (2) By the Men of that Age.

This opposition was manifested in a threefold way.

1 Against the Person of Christ.

2 Against the People of Christ.

3 Against the Word of Christ.

3. THE REVELATION OF THE FATHER'S CARE.

1 Raises the Believer above the fear of men.

2 Makes him a Confessor.

3 Makes him a Cross-Bearer.

15. Matthew 11.

Matthew 10 is the King in long-suffering grace sending forth the twelve apostles to all the cities of Israel to work miracles, while He continues to teach, so that there is blessing for both the souls and bodies of men.

In Matthew 10 — The Kingdom is announced with signs of Power.

In Matthew 11 — The nation rejects the King.

In Matthew 12 — The King rejects the nation.

1. JOHN'S QUESTION "Art Thou He?"

1 The Lord bears testimony to John.

2 The Lord's works bear testimony to Himself.

3 John, a faithful witness suffering for Righteousness sake.

2. THE NATION'S ATTITUDE.

1 Indifferent to the Call of Grace (The Lord's Ministry).

2 Careless as to the warnings of danger (John's ministry).

3. THE NATION'S FUTURE.

Judgment greater than that visited —

1 Upon the sensuality of Sodom, or the Pride and Worldliness of Tyre and Sidon.

2 Because the Jews had rejected the ministry of the Lord Himself.

4. THE CALL OF GRACE — "Come unto Me.

To Me the Rejected One, but

1 The One to whom ALL THINGS are delivered.

2 The Revealer of the Father.

3 The Giver of True Rest.

16. Matthew 11.

Two Invitations — "Come" — "Take."

The Rest given is the result of Coming to Christ as a lost sinner and getting forgiveness.

The Rest found is the result of "taking the yoke of Christ" — that is, accepting the place on earth which He took in grace — "the lowly subject One."

1. ALL YE THAT LABOUR AND ARE HEAVY LADEN.

A universal Invitation. Sin is like a heavy burden.

1 It burdens the Conscience with Guilt.

2 It burdens the Heart with Grief.

3 It burdens the Mind with Regret.

4 It burdens the Body with Disease.

2. I WILL GIVE YOU REST.

A Definite Promise.

1 Rest from Sin, from Doubt, from Fear.

2 Rest of Conscience because

3 Peace with God.

3. TAKE MY YOKE UPON YOU AND LEARN OF ME.

Yoke — picture of Fellowship.

Grace calls believers to have fellowship with Him.

"Learn of Me" — a Divine Teacher.

"Mary sat at Jesus' feet and heard His Words."

4. YE SHALL FIND REST to your souls.

"I have learned" — Paul (Phil. 4:11).

17. Matthew 12.

The Pharisees raise the Sabbath question, and thereby only expose their own pretentious hypocrisy, because, while professing to keep the Sabbath day, they condemned the Lord of the Sabbath.

The Sabbath rest was a sign of the Law of God perfectly kept; but in rejecting Christ they had broken every link with God.

1. This gives occasion for the Lord to announce the only principle upon which men can be blessed. "I will have mercy."

Mercy for Sinners. Grace for the Unworthy. Pardon for the Guilty. Salvation for the Lost.

 — Through a Crucified Saviour.

2. The man with the withered hand is an illustration of a man who got blessing on this ground. Also of Israel as a nation — withered and fruitless. Only the Power of God could restore.

3. The Pharisees first Counsel to destroy Him.

His Enemies plot His destruction.

He continues His works of blessing.

BUT, for the nation, the day of Grace was over.

He charged them "not to make Him known."

18. Matthew 13.

Seven Parables setting forth the

(1) Origin; (2) Progress; (3) Declension; and

(4) Consummation of the "Kingdom of Heaven" in the absence of the King.

1. THE INTRODUCTION OF THE WORD OF TRUTH by the Lord Himself, but giving no final results. These are developed in the six following parables. "The Word" divides the hearers into Four Classes: Hard-hearted, Faint-hearted, Halfhearted, Honest-hearted.

2. THE TARES: Evil men and evil teaching introduced by the devil. Nearly all false teaching spring from two sources: —

1 Denying that Christ was really God. — Ebionism.

2 Denying that Christ was really man. — Gnosticism. Both had their origin in the first century. They are with us still.

3. THE MUSTARD TREE.

An abnormal growth. Christendom has become a great world power with root in the earth; instead of maintaining the separate heavenly calling.

Roman Catholicism aims at becoming a great temporal power.

Protestantism aims at becoming a great political power.

4. THE LEAVEN. Every reference in Scripture to leaven shows that it is always a type of evil. Here it indicates the evil and unscriptural teaching which has been introduced, and is permeating the whole of professing Christendom.

5. THE TREASURE. Something valuable, to be sought, purchased, and guarded.

6. THE PEARL. Something beautiful and precious, to be displayed.

7. THE NET. The solemn events which take place at the end of this age. The Church wrapt to glory: the net drawn, and the mystery finished.

19. Matthew 13.

The chapter opens with a parable introducing the Lord Himself as the "Sower," and goes on to give six similitudes of the Kingdom. These show the new aspect the Kingdom would assume in the absence of the King. Christ, come in grace to establish it, is rejected. The word of the Kingdom is sown in the hearts of men, and they are left with it in Responsibility.

The First parable gives Four Results in Four Classes of Hearers.

1. THE WAYSIDE, or THE HARD-HEARTED.

Hearts are what we make them. Pharaoh hardened his heart before God hardened it.

Word not even retained in the heart.

Birds, type of Satan, catch away that which was sown.

Here the power of the devil prevails.

2. THE STONY GROUND, or THE FAINT-HEARTED.

Mere profession without conscience work. Eager to be in the forefront when Christianity is popular. When Persecution comes, eager to be somewhere else.

In this case the world prevails, and it is manifest that there has been no reality.

3. THE THORNY GROUND, or THE HALF-HEARTED.

The importance of definite decision. In this case it is absent.

The Word is entertained, but other things come in, in greater place. "The cares" or "the deceitfulness of riches," and so the flesh prevails, and the word is "choked."

4. THE GOOD GROUND, or THE HONEST-HEARTED.

Understanding hearts understand the meaning of the Gospel and its relation to themselves.

"Keep" the Word — Faith.

Bring forth Fruit — Works.

20. Matthew 13.

The Second Parable is that of The Tares among the wheat.

The Lord sows the Good Seed of the Gospel.

Satan sows Error. He introduces the Imitation among the real.

1. The Unwatchfulness of Christians allowed it. "While men slept." First mentioned is "Simon the Sorcerer" (Acts 8).

2. Both are to grow together until "the harvest." To "The Servants" is committed the precious ministry of blessing through the Gospel.

To the Angels (verse 49) is committed the dread service of being executors of judgment.

The Beginning, Course, and End of the Two Classes may be traced as follows: —

Those Represented by "The Good Seed."

1 Receive the Gospel — God's good news.

2 Believe the Truth —

About God.

About themselves.

3 Live for Christ —

A new object.

A new centre.

4 End in the Kingdom.

Their place there will be according to their faithfulness here.

Those Represented by "The Tares."

1 Ignore the Gospel — Unbelief.

2 Believe Error —

Minds must believe something.

3 Live for self, the world, or Satan.

Every life lived for something.

4 End in the "burning," solemn reality — and He who knew declared it.

21. Matthew 13.

The Son of Man sows the "Good Seed" —

That which was capable of Reproducing itself.

The Evil One sows "Tares" —

That which is fit only for the fire.

The Third Parable is that of The Mustard Seed.

The Smallest of Seeds: The beginning of the Gospel.

Became a tree: an abnormal growth.

Birds of the Air: picture of the powers of Evil.

Lodge in its Branches: Evil men no longer outside, but within the sphere of profession.

The Fourth Parable is that of The Leaven.

Evil principles at work, morally corrupting the whole mass.

Of the Pharisees — Hypocrisy (Matt. 16:6).

Of the Sadducees — Infidelity (Matt. 16:6).

Of Herod Worldliness (Mark 8:15).

The Old Leaven — Sensuality (1 Cor. 5:7).

The Fifth Parable is that of The Treasure Hid in a Field.

"The Field is the world" (verse 38).

Treasure hid in the field.

Only One knew of its Presence.

Something valuable and precious.

Picture of Believers as Christ sees them.

To possess them, He buys the "field" — the world.

The day is coming when He will take possession.

22. Matthew 13.

The Sixth Parable is that of The one Pearl of Great Price.

If the "Treasure" conveys the thought of something valuable, the one Pearl conveys the thought of something beautiful.

His love in seeking Believers looked at in their oneness as the Church (Eph. 5:25).

The Price He Paid (Phil. 2:5-8).

What He Purchased (Eph. 5:25).

His object in purchasing (Eph. 5:26).

The day of display (Rev. 19:7).

The Seventh Parable is that of The Net cast into the Sea.

The point of the Parable is the Drawing of the net.

Attention is directed to events at the end of this age.

Then "good gathered into vessels." God calling out a people for His name now (Acts 15:14).

Three things mark the end of the age—

The Midnight Cry.

The development of the Apostacy.

The gathering of the Jew to Palestine in unbelief.

23. Matthew 14.

In Matthew 14 we have the Two KINGS —

Herod in his sin. Christ in His grace.

The actions of Man and the actions of the Lord.

What marked Herod's dance (Mark 6) was the "lust of the eye" and the "lust of the flesh."

BUT the Lord Jesus on the mountain top illustrates the present position of the Saviour in relation to His Own.

1. HE IS PRAYING FOR US. Because we have an enemy, and we need to realise that he is sleepless, alert, cunning, relentless, cruel.

1 He tempts us (1 Thess. 3:5).

2 He accuses us (Rev. 10:10).

3 He assaults us (1 Peter 5:8).

But the Lord said, "I have prayed for thee."

2. HE IS WATCHING OVER US.

"He saw them toiling and rowing."

"Light and Truth" go before (Ps. 43:3).

Goodness and Mercy follow (Ps. 23:6).

The Lord is thy Keeper (Ps. 121:5).

The Lord shall preserve thee from all evil (Ps. 121:7).

3. HE IS COMING FOR US.

In the "Fourth" Watch He Came.

Compare Matthew 24. The faithful and wise Servant was "ready to open" immediately.

Note three things about Peter's Prayer (verse 30) —

It was an urgent need — Save.

It was a personal need — Me.

Only the Lord Jesus could meet it — Lord.

24. Matthew 15.

In Matthew 12 (verse 54) we find the Lord renouncing all earthly ties. In Matthew 13 He opens to His disciples the form the Kingdom would assume in His absence. In Matthew 14 the opposition develops into open hostility, and we see man's King taking away men's lives — the Forerunner is slain — but God's King saving men's lives.

Matthew 14 shows men's works to be evil. Matthew 15 shows WHY they are evil. The reason is — the HEART IS WRONG.

Matthew 14 shows the two Kings. Matthew 15 shows THE Two HEARTS.

The heart of man with its Seven Streams of Evil (verse 19).

The heart of the Lord Jesus in bringing blessing to all.

Note FOUR Points —

1. THE FORMALISM OF THE PHARISEES.

A mistake all men make.

Thinking a correct exterior will do for God.

Satan can use even a religious system as a power of Evil.

But the Lord brings home to the conscience.

2. THE FACT OF SIN.

"Out of the heart proceed." Hearts produce Evil because hearts are Evil.

Men think lightly of Sin. They deplore its fruits.

God speaks solemnly of Sin. He exposes its roots.

Sin separates from God, now, and produces unhappiness.

Sin fills the heart with selfishness and produces oppression.

Sin separates from God eternally and produces eternal misery.

Before it could be put away Christ must die.

When men cover their sins, God uncovers them.

When men uncover their sins, God covers them.

3. THE FAITH OF THE GENTILE. She felt her need.

Her need brought her to Jesus. She owned she deserved nothing.

She would be thankful for anything. She got everything.

4. THE FAVOUR OF CHRIST.

The Lord returns to Galilee and shows His grace in

Feeding Four thousand with Seven Loaves.

Feeding Five thousand (Chap. 14) was a proof that Jehovah-Messiah was present.

This Miracle was a proof that, though He was rejected by the nation, He still continued His works of mercy in their midst.

25. Matthew 16.

Matthew 15 closes with Grace to one who had no hope but in Grace. The Central thought of Matthew 16 is the revelation of the person of Christ.

1. WHAT OTHERS THOUGHT ABOUT HIM (verse 13). The Pharisees and Sadducees, blinded by the devil, reject Him. Of such, beware.

The men of the age with their opinions and speculations — John, Elijah, or Jeremiah, but consciences unreached and hearts unattracted.

2. WHAT GOD-GIVEN FAITH SAW IN HIM.

Peter's personal confession — Thou art

THE CHRIST — the official glory of His Person — the Promised One — Seed of the Woman — Seed of Abraham — Son of David — Sun of Righteousness — Fulfiller of every Promise of God.

THE SON of the LIVING GOD — His personal glory The Divine, Eternal, and Lifegiving Word (Phil. 2), (Col. 1), (Heb. 1), (1 John 1).

3. WHAT HE WAS ABOUT TO DO.

"I will build" — My Church.

Its Foundation "upon this Rock" (1 Cor. 10:4).

Its materials (1 Peter 2:5).

But before this could take place the presentation of the Kingdom had to be set aside and the Cross brought in.

4. WHAT WOULD MARK THOSE WHO FOLLOWED HIM.

Self denied.

The Cross taken.

Christ confessed.

Eternal reward in the Coming Kingdom.

The Man with the Cross on his back has finished with the World.

The Man with the World on his back has evaded the Cross.

26. Matthew 17.

Matthew 16 is the Revelation of the Church; Matthew 17 is a glimpse of the glory of the Coming Kingdom.

At the four lowest points of our Lord's humiliation we get confirming proofs of His Divinity.

1. His Birth. 2. His Baptism. 3. His Temptation. 4. His Death.

Having been rejected by the nation, and confessed by Peter, God manifests Him in the Centre of the Shekinah glory cloud as the "Beloved Son."

1. MOSES — The Law Giver.

But the result was a broken law and a condemned people.

No hope for sinners under law.

2. ELIJAH — The Reformer.

But Reformation cannot help sinners.

Because the past exists.

There must be Regeneration.

"My Beloved Son" is The "Transformer."

Men say "John," or "Jeremiah," or one of "the prophets."

God says, "My beloved Son, hear Him."

He brought the best news that ever came to earth. He now takes the supreme place.

4. "BE NOT AFRAID."

Men by nature are "afar" and "afraid."

Before Peace of Conscience, the

Question of Sin has to be settled.

Before there can be peace of heart, the

Question of Circumstances has to be settled.

"Your Father knoweth what things ye have need of."

27. Matthew 18.

"IN THE MIDST" (verse 20).

1. "IN THE MIDST" for Atonement (John 19:18).

1 The Cross brings out —

2 The Love of God.

3 The Devotedness of Christ.

4 The Malice of Satan.

5 The Hatred of Man.

6 The Righteousness of God.

7 The Awful Nature of Sin.

The Guilt of the World.

2. "IN THE MIDST" for Peace and Power (John 20:19-23).

1 The first thing a believer wants to know is peace.

2 The first thing a believer wants to experience is power.

3 Christ made peace.

4 The Blood Cleanses. The Holy Spirit brings Power.

3. IN THE MIDST FOR GUIDANCE (Matt. 18:20).

One Condition on which He vouchsafes His presence, "Gathered in MY NAME."

1 The work of Christ brings us all our Blessings.

2 The Person of Christ brings us all our Reproach.

But — "If reproached for the Name of Christ, Happy are ye" (1 Peter 4:9).

4. "IN THE MIDST" for Judgment (Rev. 5).

Christ on the throne.

The Rejected One of Earth Exalted in Heaven.

"Seven Horns" — Divine Power.

"Seven Eyes" — Divine Discrimination.

"Seven Spirits" — Divine Intelligence.

Note the Various Thrones: —

1. The Throne of Holiness (Ezek. 10); 2. The Throne of Grace (Heb. 4); 3. The Throne of Glory (Matt. 25); 4. The Throne of Judgment (Rev. 20).

28. Matthew 18.

FORGIVENESS IN THREE ASPECTS.

1. FORGIVENESS for Sinners — Eternal Forgiveness.

Many not clear on this elementary doctrine.

Some hope for: some think once forgiven.

Some suppose partly forgiven.

God says: "Whosoever believeth shall receive" — "Your sins are Forgiven for His Name's sake."

Grace provides: The Blood secures.

The Spirit proclaims: Faith appropriates.

Because God has spoken, we are SURE.

Because we are sure, we are HAPPY.

THREE THINGS FOLLOW.

It produces Happiness — "Blessed" (Ps. 32).

It produces Love — "Loveth much" (Luke 7:47).

It produces Holy Fear — "That Thou mayest be feared" (Ps. 30).

2. FORGIVENESS FOR BELIEVERS, or Restorative Forgiveness.

Confession as sinners brings Eternal Forgiveness, and we become children.

When our walk breaks down daily Confession keeps us happy children.

"He is faithful and just to forgive."

More often than Peter's "seven times."

Though Eternally forgiven, yet we may suffer

Governmentally if we do not forgive others.

Therefore "Be kind one towards another . . . forgiving one another."

The "unmerciful servant" failed in the spirit of forgiveness because he "went out" from the presence of the Master.

29. Matthew 19.

In Matthew 19 the Lord recognises and owns all that is lovely in Nature, but goes on to show that the best of Nature will not do for God. "ONE is good."

1 Marriage God's own institution from the beginning, but abused by the lusts of men.

2 The little children — an illustration of the spirit which characterises the Kingdom.

3 The Young Ruler — not far "from," but not in the Kingdom.

1. THE INVITATION OF LOVE.

"Suffer the little children to come unto me."

The Invitation, designed to rebuke the pride of the disciples, expresses the love of Christ.

2. THE RECEPTION OF GRACE.

"He took them up in His arms" —

The place of safety.

Divine shelter from every foe.

"He blessed them" (Mark 10).

The Condition of Happiness and Eternal Joy.

3. THE CONDITION OF ENTRANCE.

Whosoever shall not receive the Kingdom of God as a little child, he shall not enter therein" (Mark 10).

The little child is simple — we must believe God. The little child is trustful — we must rest on His Word.

The little child is humble — we must come down.

30. Matthew 19.

THE YOUNG RULER.

The most interesting of all the Gospel stories — also the saddest. He was really in earnest to KNOW. But not really in earnest to DO.

No common man.

Looked up to as a leader of morals.

If he was not right, who was?

Yet he felt he was not right. He was not sure about Eternal life — therefore unhappy.

And all he WAS, HAD, or DID, failed to bring happiness.

1. (1) He was a religious man — A Teacher, a Ruler, a Judge.

(2) He had youth, money, friends, Position, influence.

(3) He did all the second table of the law required. But all failed to bring happiness. The reason was, he was making two mistakes.

2. (1) He did not know himself.

Did not believe he was a lost sinner.

Did not realise that he needed a Saviour.

Looked to the Lord only as a Teacher.

(2) He did not know God.

Was trying to establish his own righteousness.

Desired to know what to do.

3. PETER'S QUESTION.

Peter, anxious to know, whether what the young man went back to, or what they were going forward to, was best, asks —

"What shall we have?"

That which the young ruler missed and one hundredfold more.

31. Matthew 20.

The Son of Man Betrayed: The close and reward of three years of devoted, self-denying, gracious ministry.

That grace had been

SEEN IN WHAT HE WAS.

The Divine Son of the Living God (Chap. 16:16).

The Word made Flesh (John 1:14).

The True Light (John 1:9).

The Revealer of the Father (John 1:18).

SEEN IN WHAT HE SAID.

"Never man spake like this man."

"The gracious words which proceeded out of His mouth."

SEEN IN WHAT HE DID.

Feeding the Hungry.

Healing the Sick.

Raising the Dead.

All His miracles were "grace" miracles.

JAMES AND JOHN desire High Places in the Kingdom. But learn that it is better to suffer here, and

Leave Results and Rewards — to God.

CHRISTIANS suffer

Because Satan is prince of this world.

Early Christians rejoiced in suffering.

WHAT enables the Christian to suffer?
They "See Him who is invisible."

They have the Holy Spirit's power within.

Illustrate — Peter, before and after the Cross.

32. Matthew 21.

This chapter begins with the presentation of the King to the nation. Their responsibility for His rejection is established, and the measure of their guilt filled up.

1. THE KING PROMISED.

1 The Men of Faith (Gen. 3; Jude 14) looked forward to Him.

2 The Men after the flesh persecuted them that were after the Spirit (Gal. 4:29).

2. THE KING PROPHESIED OF (Gen. 49).

Three thousand five hundred years pass and God announced —

1 How He would come (Zech. 9:9).

2 How He would be received (Zech. 13:6-7).

3. THE KING PRESENTED (Matt. 21).

1 The nation "at a place where two ways met" (Mark 11:4).

2 Every hearer of the word at the parting of the ways.

4. THE KING PERSECUTED.

1 The Nation reject and Crucify their King.

2 God rejects and scatters the nation.

5. THE KING PROCLAIMED (Ps. 2).

1 Crowned with many Crowns.

2 Ruler over every nation.

Four Crowns for Believers —

For those who LIVE for Christ: The Incorruptible Crown (1 Cor. 9:25).

For those who DIE for Christ: The Crown of Life (Rev. 2:10).

For those who WATCH for Christ: The Crown of Righteousness (2 Tim. 4:8).

For those who CARE for the people of Christ: The Crown of Glory (1 Peter 5:4).

33. Matthew 21.

A Short Synopsis of the Section, Matthew 21-25.

Matthew 21-22. — His Enemies morally judged and silenced.

Matthew 23. — The Eight Woes that would fall on the guilty Leaders.

Matthew 24 — 25. — Instruction for the disciples into the truths of the Kingdom.

Matthew 21. — Begins with the Fulfilment of Zech. 9:9. But the Leaders can only ask, "Who is this?"

The Three Parables following, with that of the "Barren Fig Tree" in Luke 13, teach the definite setting aside of Israel.

1. The Fig Tree:

The Nation in Profession: No Fruit. Compare Ex. 19:8, "All that the Lord hath spoken we will do," with 1 Thess. 2:15, 16. What they did.

2. The Two Sons:

No reality — Lip service only.

The Leaders proved worse than the publicans (Luke 7:29).

3. The Wicked Husbandmen:

Open opposition.

Refused to bring anything to God.

In Matthew 22, Refuse to receive anything from God.

4. The Sure Foundation Stone:

1 Falling over the stone: Christ in Humiliation.

2 Falling under the stone: Christ in Glory and Power (Dan. 2).

Refer to Genesis 49, Psalms 118, Isaiah 28, Matthew 21, Ephesians 2, 1 Peter 2:

34. Matthew 22.

Note the intimate connection between Matthew 21 and Matthew 22, though teaching different truths —

Matthew 21 — "The Vineyard" is Judaism to the Cross.

Matthew 22. — "The Marriage Feast" is the Announcement of the Kingdom.

The First gives the Attitude of Men to God.

The Second gives the Attitude of God to Men.

The First is God dealing with men in Responsibility.

The Second is God dealing with men in Grace.

Not now God requiring in Righteousness, but God displaying the riches of His grace. No longer man's ways to God, but God's ways to man.

1. THE MARRIAGE.

The central thought.

Honour for the King's Son.

"Far above . . . every name that is named" (Eph. 1:21).

2. THE INVITATION.

First Announcement — by the Apostles before the Cross.

Second Announcement — to Israel at Pentecost. Third Announcement — world wide — "Bad and good."

3. THE CONDITIONS.

The Gospel produces what suits God.

The fitness for the feast was not their best, But the Robe of the King's providing.

4. THE JUDGMENT fell because there was — Indifference to the King's Provision, and thus Dishonour to the King's Son.

35. Matthew, Matthew 24, 25.

THE GREAT PROPHETIC SECTION OF THE GOSPEL.

Scripture speaks to men in many ways. To the unconverted, it brings a warning of coming wrath and an offer of present mercy. To the Believer, it brings instruction and guidance for the way. To the Disciple, it comes as a revelation of the mind of God as to His present and future purposes.

These two chapters are divided into THREE SECTIONS

Matthew 24, verses 1-44 — THE JEW.

His Temptations: Trials: Deliverance.

Matthew 24:45 to Matthew 25:1-30 — THE CHRISTIAN.

As Ministering: Waiting: or Working

For his absent Lord.

Matthew 25:21-16 — THE GENTILES.

As Receiving, or Rejecting

The Kingdom Messengers.

THE JEW.

1. HIS TEMPTATIONS.

The True Messiah having come and been rejected, False Christs arise to deceive many.

Note. — The Jew is warned against false Christs. Christendom is warned against false Spirits (1 John 4:3).

2. HIS TRIALS.

Wars and Rumours of Wars.

Danger for their land. Personal tribulation, the Jew is to escape from: The Christian is to glory in.

3. HIS DELIVERANCE.

By the Judgment of Antichrist, the reign of Christ, and the wicked taken out of the earth for Judgment. The Christian looks to be taken out of the earth for blessing.

36. Matthew, Matthew 24, 25.

THREE PARABLES REFERRING TO CHRISTENDOM.

1 The Good and Evil Servants illustrate what should, and should not, be our attitude towards each other.

2 The Virgins illustrate what should, and should not, be our attitude towards the Lord Jesus.

3 The Talents illustrate what should, and should not, be our attitude towards the world.

1. THE FAITHFUL AND WISE SERVANT.

1 Honoured by his Master (Chap. 24:45).

2 Loves his Master's interests (Chap. 24:45-46).

3 Cares for his Master's Household (Chap. 24:45-46).

4 Rewarded by his Master at His Coming (Chap. 24:47).

2. THE EVIL SERVANT.

1 Has no love for his Master. His heart wrong.

2 Oppresses his fellow-servants. His actions wrong.

3 Associates himself with the world. And thus renounces his heavenly calling.

4 Shares the doom of the hypocrites To which class he belonged.

37. Matthew 25.

THE PARABLE OF "THE VIRGINS"

In the Parable of the "Ten Virgins" there are Seven important points.

1. CHRIST'S COMING AS THE BRIDEGROOM.

Some deny it — Opposition to the truth. Some ignore it — Indifference to the truth. Some "love His appearing" — True affection. In the 260 Chapters of the New Testament the Coming is mentioned about 300 times.

Some expect Him, and because they expect Him, they trim their lamps and go out to meet Him.

2. THE TARRYING.

Its effect upon the Church (1 Thess. 1:9, 10), and upon the world (2 Peter 3:3).

The reason for it (2 Peter 3:9).

3. THE MIDNIGHT CRY.

The "cry" goes forth at darkest period. World grows dark in proportion as divine truth (light) is rejected.

4. THE COMING REALISED.

Not the "end of the world."

5. THE MARRIAGE.

Picture of complete happiness (Rev. 19:7).

The Christian will be happy hereafter, and should be happy here.

6. THE SHUT DOOR.

Inside — Life: Light: Joy Salvation.

Outside — Death: Darkness: Sorrow: Despair.

7. THE VAIN APPEAL.

The Result of Opportunities Neglected.

Warnings Slighted.

38. Matthew 25.

THE PARABLE OF "THE TALENTS" — SERVICE.

The Holy Spirit, Who is the power of the new life, enables the believer to enjoy the presence of God, and TELL OF CHRIST to others.

Judaism only produced one man (Jonah) who became a missionary.

In Christianity every man should be a missionary.

Every Servant has some talent.

This Parable illustrates its use, or its abuse.

1. THE IMAGERY EMPLOYED, and its meaning.

1 "A Man" — The Lord Jesus.

2 "Travelling" — His departure from this world and present period while He is in Heaven.

3 "Talents" — Gifts given by the Lord.

4 "Servants" — All who make a profession of Christianity.

2. THE GOOD SERVANT is marked by

1 The Sense of Responsibility "Thou deliveredst to me."

2 His Faithfulness.

3 His Devotedness.

3. THE EVIL SERVANT is marked by

1 What he thought of his Master.

Wrong thoughts, which led to Foolish Actions.

2 What he did with his Money.

Used for Earth what should have been Devoted to the things of Heaven.

39. Matthew 25.

THE SEVEN JUDGMENTS OF SCRIPTURE.

1 The Lord Judges (1 Cor. 11:32) — Correction.

2 The Assembly Judges (1 Cor. 5:12) — Discipline.

3 We Judge Ourselves (1 Cor. 11:28-31) — Self-Examination.

4 The Judgment of the Cross — Atonement.

5 The Judgment Seat of Christ (2 Cor. 5:10) — Reward for Faithfulness.

6 The Judgment of the Living Nations (Matt. 25.) — Preparation for the Kingdom.

7 The Judgment of the Great White Throne (Rev. 20:11) — Condemnation.

Our Chapter deals with No. 6.

It is the fulfilment of Ps. 2, Acts 1:11, etc.

When the Lord came the first time, He was cut off and had nothing (Dan. 9:26). When He comes the second time

He will vindicate His rights and

Judge in Righteousness.

Historically these events take place immediately after the "Warrior Judgment" of Rev. 19.

THREE COMPANIES are manifested —

1 "THE SHEEP": Those who received, believed, and befriended the Kingdom Messengers.

2 "THE GOATS": Those who refused the Messengers, Ignored their sufferings, and Rejected their testimony.

3 "THE BRETHREN": Jewish Messengers of the Coming Kingdom, who complete the testimony of Matthew 10:23.

40. Matthew 26.

THE LAST PASSOVER (Refer to Ex. 12).

In Egypt God took in hand to settle the Sin question. But before executing Judgment, He made Provision for righteously delivering His own. This was done through THE BLOOD OF THE LAMB. Notice six things: —

1. THE LAMB SLAIN: Death must enter every house.

But for the Israelite, a substitute was provided.

2. THE BLOOD SPRINKLED: It was not enough that the Lamb was slain. There must also be the obedience of faith, and personal identification with the shed blood, which was put outside for the eye of God to see.

3. THE PEOPLE SAVED: No question of what they were.

The Blood on the lintel was their Security.

The Word of the Lord was their Assurance.

4. THE FEAST INSTITUTED: A Feast speaks of Joy.

Egyptian bondage was past for ever.

They were going OUT of Egypt saved by the LORD.

Outside, death and Judgment.

Inside, a saved and happy people.

"Unleavened Bread" — Holy separation from Evil.

"Bitter herbs" — The memory of what they had been redeemed from.

5. HOW IT WAS TO BE OBSERVED:

With Girded Loins: Redeemed for Service.

Shod feet: Ready to march.

Staff in Hand: Outside support. Pilgrims here.

6. WHY IT WAS TO BE REPEATED: To keep in memory the LOVE, POWER, and GRACE of their Deliverer.

They were a Redeemed, Separated, Dependent, and Expectant People.

41. Matthew 26.

THE FIRST "SUPPER OF THE LORD."

The Central point of Christianity is the Lord's Supper, because it has its origin in the love of the Lord for His own, and His desire that their love to Him might never grow cold.

"Having loved His own which were in the world, He loved them unto the end" (John 13:1).

1 His OWN by Gift of the Father.

2 His OWN by Purchase of Blood.

These He gathers around Him on the dark night of betrayal.

They knew of the foe without.

Now they hear of a traitor within.

Suspicion of each other, uncertainty, and unrest fill every heart.

HE SPEAKS OF PEACE, for He was about to

LAY DOWN HIS LIFE to procure it.

Now He institutes the Supper in

Remembrance of His dying love.

It speaks of THREE things: —

1. THE WORK OF CHRIST: His body broken. His blood shed.

He died for our Sins. He gave Himself for us.

In the presence of God, angels, demons, and a hostile world,

WE SHEW THE LORD'S DEATH, by which

He glorified God, Defeated Satan, and Put away Sin.

2. THE PERSON OF CHRIST.

The Work of Christ meets the Conscience.

The Person of Christ meets the Heart.

His Work brings us all our blessings.

His Person brings us all our Joy.

3. THE COMING OF CHRIST (1 Cor. 11:26).

To take us out of the place of testimony.

To take us into the place of glory.

42. Matthew 27.

1. THE SELF-CONFIDENCE OF PETER: Ignorant of what he was.

Verse 58. Wrong Position: "Followed afar off."

58. Wrong Company: "Sat with the Servants."

74. Wrong Testimony: "I know not the man."

2. THE GUILT AND FATE OF JUDAS.

The Greatest Sin ever Committed.

The Greater the privilege, if neglected, the Greater the Condemnation.

The traitor's reward purchased a Field of Blood.

The Death of Christ made a City of Blood, and a Land of Blood, and a World of Blood.

3. THE LORD BEFORE CAIAPHAS.

The False witness and the "Faithful Witness."

The Criminal on the Bench, and

The Judge at the Bar.

Christ given up to Death, and

The Nation of the Jews given up to Blindness.

4. THE LORD BEFORE PILATE.

Jew and Gentile agree to condemn the Just One.

Three times Pilate declares —

"I find no fault in Him" (John 19).

Pilate's wife's advice: "Have nothing to do with that Just Man."

No Man goes to hell unwarned.

Pilate rejected the warning, and

Condemned the Just.

43. Matthew 28.

THE RESURRECTION AND ITS RESULTS.

FOUR THINGS worthy of note: —

An Open Grave: Christ Risen (Matt. 28:6).

An Open Heaven: Christ on the throne (Acts 7:56).

An Open Heart: Christ Believed on (Acts 16:14).

An Open Mouth: Christ Confessed (Rom. 10:9).

1. TERRIFIED KEEPERS.

The Folly of Men.

The Failure of Men.

The Fear of Men.

2. REJOICING BELIEVERS.

1 The Foundation of Christian Joy is the Finished Work, and the Resurrection of the One who did it.

2 The Secret of Christian Joy is

The love of Christ,

Realised by "continuing" in His love (John 15:9-11).

3. THE VICTORIOUS LORD.

God glorified, and the basis laid in righteousness for all the Counsels of God to be fulfilled.

The Power and love of God Vindicated.

Satan defeated.

Sin Put away.

The Power of death Broken.

The Resurrection is a matter of the fullest joy to the believer, but it should be a matter of the greatest dread to the unbeliever —

Because "God hath appointed a day in which He will Judge the world," and the Judgment is committed to the One who has been raised from the dead.