The Gospel of Matthew
"E. Schuyler English: The Gospel According to Matthew"
The Book of MATTHEW
"The Sermon on the Mount" was ended, and we read, Matthew 7:28, 29: "And it came to pass, when Jesus had ended these sayings, the people were astonished at His doctrine: For He taught them as One having authority, and not as the scribes." If all that man needed for salvation were counsel, a rule for life, then the Holy Spirit might have ended the Gospel according to Matthew with the seventh chapter. But man is a sin-sick soul; he needs more than guidance. The rules for his life, the law, are only a schoolmaster to lead man to the Truth, the Lord Jesus Himself. In Matthew 4:23 our Lord's ministry is described as "teaching ..., and preaching ..., and healing." The teaching and preaching were accomplished in "The Sermon on the Mount;" then He came down from the mountain, and cleansed the lepers, drove out the demons, restored sight to the blind, and raised the dead. In such a way He manifested by more than His words that He was Jehovah -- Jesus, the King of the Jews. Yes, He came down from on High, He has cleansed us from our sins, He has restored the sight to the spiritually blind, He has given us life. He is Jehovah-Jesus, our mighty Saviour, and to Him be glory and dominion now and forever.
In our "Introduction" we have pointed out that Matthew's Gospel is a dispensational book. The miracles recorded in Matthew are also recorded in the other Gospels, but the order is not as in Matthew. Such apparent discrepancies have caused the critics high delight. To us these same variances prove the words of Paul by the Holy Spirit: "The natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him; neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned" (1 Cor. 2:14); they prove without the slightest doubt the inspiration of the Scriptures. The Gospel according to Matthew was written for the Jew, whose King came and offered His Kingdom, the record of the miracles having been arranged by the Holy Spirit in the perfect order in which they are presented in order to show God's plan for Israel, and to manifest in a very simple way that the Lord Jesus Christ is the Saviour. The miracles were more than miracles, they were signs manifesting the King and His Kingdom, as promised in Isaiah 35, and are typical of spiritual cleansing, of resurrection, and of the power of the Lord over Satan and his hosts.
Dispensationally, the leper represented Israel, sinful and unclean. If Israel's prayer had been what it should have been: "Lord, if Thou wilt, Thou canst make me clean," the Messiah would then and there have said: "I will." The Lord Jesus was still presenting Himself to His people at the time that the leper appeared before Him, and consequently He showed by the healing that which He was willing to do for Israel. But in His divine foreknowledge of His rejection He showed what was to happen. "See thou tell no man; but go thy way, show thyself to the priest, and offer the gift that Moses commanded." It was proper that the cleansed leper should show himself to the priest; it was still the age of law, for the Lord Jesus had not yet died nor been raised. But when the cleansed man appeared before the priest, the latter should have recognized by the healing of this man the sign of Messiah, and should have run to the Lord to worship Him. That this leader of religious life rejected the testimony was a type of what Israel should do.
Leprosy is a most hideous and loathsome disease, and throughout the Word of God is a type of sin. This leper is the representation of all mankind, lost in sin, and outcast, death alone staring him in the face. Every sinner who comes to the Saviour with the petition: "Lord, if Thou wilt, Thou canst make me clean," will be answered as was he: "I will." Our Lord did not say: "My good man, the sermon I just preached sets forth the rules of proper conduct. Live by that and you will gradually get better and better." He said: "I will; be thou clean." "And immediately his leprosy was cleansed." Such is the grace of God. By the blood of the Lord Jesus Christ there is remission of sins, and immediately upon receiving Him as Saviour, we are cleansed.
Dispensationally, the healing of the centurion's servant represented the age of the Gentiles, after the rejection of the King. The Lord Jesus, the Healer, would be absent, but by His Word the servant should be healed. The centurion is a type of the Gentile who believes, though the Bridegroom be absent in body. Very clearly here our Lord pointed to His coming rejection and to His turning to the Gentiles, Matt. 8:10-12: "Verily I say unto you, I have not found so great faith, no, not in Israel. And I say unto you, that many shall come from the east and west, and shall sit down with Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, in the Kingdom of the heavens. But the children of the Kingdom shall be cast out into outer darkness."
Faith in the Lord Jesus' power to save will ever be rewarded as was the centurion's: "As thou hast believed, so be it done unto thee." What is your attitude toward the Lord Jesus Christ? Have you believed in Him? Then all is well, for "as thou hast believed," so has He saved thee.
Matt. 8:14, 15
Dispensationally, this sign is typical of the Lord Jesus, after the age of the Gentiles, entering again the house of Israel to heal the sick daughter of Zion, who will then serve Him.
Leprosy and palsy are types of sin wholly possessing the victims. In the case of Peter's wife's mother, the fever typifies the illness of one who is a member of the Body, but who is dangerously beset by sins and who needs the keeping power of the Lord Jesus. The result of contact with our Lord immediately healed her, and that is our portion if we come to Him for His care.
Dispensationally, the many who were brought to Him possessed of demons, and His subsequent healing of all that were sick, represented the day when Satan and his angels shall be cast out and bound. Today it tells us that "Whosoever believeth on Him should not perish but have everlasting life" (John 3:16).
"And a certain scribe came, and said unto Him, Master, I will follow Thee whithersoever Thou goest. And Jesus saith unto him, The foxes have holes, and the birds of the air have nests; but the Son of Man hath not where to lay His head" (Matt. 8:19, 20). We never hear that he followed the Lord. The call to service means the giving of life. This scribe perhaps sought earthly gain, but the Lord Jesus indicated rejection. "The Son of Man hath not where to lay His head." For our sakes He, the Son of God, became poor, the Son of Man, Who should suffer death before exaltation. Our Lord sees not only the outward appearances of sin, the diseased body and the flagrantly sinful life, but He knows the heart and mind of man and also sees there his sinfulness. This scribe would not have counted it joy to suffer in His Name, and so he turned away.
"And another of His disciples said unto Him, Lord, suffer me first to go and bury my father. But Jesus said unto him, Follow Me; and let the dead bury their dead." Our thought might be that it was a proper request that the disciple made. But God never makes a mistake. Then what is the teaching? That nothing must hinder our devotion and full obedience. No earthly thing, no occupation nor relationship is to come between the Lord and His chosen ones. "Let the dead bury their dead." It would seem that the family of this disciple were unbelievers, dead in trespasses and sins, and the association with them might have been detrimental, if not fatal, to his spiritual progress. So the Lord Jesus said: "Follow Me." May we be freed from all earthly bondage, with our eyes single to the glory of our Saviour and Lord.
"Kept by the power of God." In presenting Himself as King, Jehovah-Jesus, our Lord must show Himself not only Lord of nature, but Lord of all its forces. "All things were made by Him; and without Him was not anything made that was made" (John 1:3). Again we may see that these were not only miracles that our Lord was performing, but signs as to Who He is. "What manner of man is this, that even the winds and the sea obey Him!" He is God, manifest in the flesh, Jehovah-Saviour of His people.
The disciples came to Him, saying: "Lord, save us: we perish." "Then He arose and rebuked the winds (only He Who is God could rebuke the winds!) and the sea; and there was a great calm." "Lord, save us, we perish." He alone can save us, from the penalty of sin and from the power of sin. Have you uttered that cry? Without Christ we perish; in Him we live. Then there will be a great calm, "The peace of God which passeth understanding."
The subject before us is one on which a volume could be written: Demon Possession. The record of this miracle follows the stilling of the storm by the wisdom of the Holy Spirit. For there are storms in the spiritual world as well as in the physical world. "We wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places" (Eph. 6:12).
Two men possessed of demons met our Lord. The demons recognized Him. "What have we to do with Thee, Jesus, Thou Son of God?" It may have been that "His own received Him not;" but the instruments of Satan recognized in our Lord Him Whom Israel yet refuses to acknowledge. They knew that He was the Son of God, that He would judge them, and that the judgment was yet to be; "What have we to do with Thee, Jesus, Thou Son of God? Art Thou come hither to judge us before the time?" At His Word, "Go" -- the demons left the men and possessed the swine. What power is His! As the Son of God all power is His, and one day, though we may not recognize Him now, every knee shall bow to Jesus our Lord and Saviour.
The whole city sought Him that He should depart from them. It was illegal to raise swine, and their gains were lost when the demons forced the swine into the waters. So He was rejected; those who preferred their swine to the Son of God and His righteousness besought Him to "depart out of their coasts." Is there some sin in our lives that we prefer above the Son of God? Thanks be unto God Who can and will give us the victory through Christ Jesus our Lord.