The Gospel of Matthew
"E. Schuyler English: The Gospel According to Matthew"
The Book of MATTHEW
Again we find our Lord going into Judaea, His face set toward Jerusalem publicly to offer Himself as King, to be formally rejected by His people and to be crucified. In this passage He is approached by four different types of people for four different reasons: the multitude came to Him with their physical needs; His enemies came to trap Him with ethical questions; those who loved Him brought their children for His blessing; and some approached seeking eternal life. In every case the Lord Jesus heard and answered in all power, wisdom and compassion, meeting each need as it was brought to Him. It is in such a fashion that He hears us when we call upon Him, for our souls' salvation, or for the spiritual or earthly needs of His own. "My God shall supply all your need, according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus" (Phil. 4:19).
Matt. 19:1, 2
"And it came to pass, that when Jesus had finished these sayings, He departed from Galilee, and came unto the coasts of Judaea beyond Jordan; and great multitudes followed Him; and He healed them there." God says: "All have sinned and come short of the glory of God" (Rom. 3:23). There is only one remedy for the sickness of sin: cleansing by the blood of the Lord Jesus Christ. "He healed them there." You are saved? Then He has empowered you to have the victory over the temptations of the daily life. You have not received the Lord Jesus as your Saviour? Then, here and now, you may do so, by bowing down to God and saying: "Lord Jesus, I know I am a sinner and I receive you now. Thy Word tells me: 'The wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord' (Rom. 6:23). Wash me clean in Thy shed blood and I shall be free."
"The Pharisees also came unto Him, tempting Him, and saying unto Him, Is it lawful for a man to put away his wife for every cause?" (Matt. 19:3). Once more the Pharisees! Instead of bowing down to worship Him Who was the fulfilment of all the prophets, God Himself in the flesh, they attempted to entrap Him. This was a question on which even the Pharisees themselves were not in accord, so that no matter how the Lord might answer, they thought to confuse Him. Once again entered the question of the oral law, rabbinical injunctions which had been added to the law. Some contended that there was no cause for divorce except unfaithfulness, while some thought it lawful to put away a wife for every cause, no matter how small. Our Lord answered from Scripture: "Have ye not read ... that He Who made them at the beginning made them male and female, and said, For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they twain shall be one flesh? (See Gen. 2:24.) Wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder" (Matt. 19:5, 6). How could these Pharisees hope to ensnare by certain rabbinical interpretations Him Who "was in the beginning with God," by Whom all things were made, and without Whom was not anything made that was made (John 1:2, 3)? The Lord Jesus Christ created them male and female, He made them one flesh. "But," said the Pharisees, "why did Moses then command to give a writing of divorcement, and to put her away?" Just as their father the Devil misquoted Scripture, so they distorted it in their endeavour to entrap the Lord Jesus. They were referring to Deuteronomy 24:1, but our Lord then told them that Moses did not command, but allowed them to put away their wives for a reason. "He saith unto them, Moses because of the hardness of your hearts suffered (allowed) you to put away your wives: but from the beginning it was not so. And I say unto you, Whosoever shall put away his wife, except it be for fornication, and shall marry another, committeth adultery: and whoso marrieth her who is put away doth commit adultery" (Matt. 19:8, 9). God instituted marriage as a permanent relationship. In His grace, He has recognized human frailties, and for one cause alone countenances divorce, for the cause of unfaithfulness. How highly He regards marriage may be seen in Ephesians five, where Paul by the Holy Spirit uses the husband as a type of Christ, and the wife as typical of the Church, the Bride of Christ. "Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord. For the husband is head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the Church: and He is the Saviour of the body. Therefore as the Church is subject unto Christ, so let wives be to their own husbands. Husbands, love your wives, even as 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. ... For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh. This is a great mystery; but I speak concerning Christ and the Church" (Eph. 5:22-27, 31, 32). Born-again husbands and wives who regard their relationship to each other as a type of the relationship between the Lord Jesus and themselves will have little difficulty with the bill of divorcement which Moses allowed.
Verses ten to twelve cover a difficult passage we shall only touch upon. The disciples felt that if there was danger of divorce, it was not good to marry. Our Lord then explained that there were some who did not marry because they were born with physical disabilities, some who had been cruelly mutilated and as a result should not marry, and that there were others who felt that for the sake of the Kingdom they should never marry. Paul, too, spoke of this: (1 Cor. 7), the implication in both instances is that there are a few who feel that they can be used of the Lord more fully if they remain unmarried. "But He said unto them, All men cannot receive this saying, save they to whom it is given. ... He that is able to receive it, let him receive it" (Matt. 19:11, 12). Let him who is so led abide in this teaching.
Matt. 19:13-15 See 18:2-5.
"And, behold, one came and said unto Him, Good Master, what good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life?" Here was one who was morally a good man, who called forth the compassion of our Lord, Who, looking on him, loved him (Mark 10:21). This young man had good intentions, the desire for eternal life, but his theology was poor. First he approached the Lord Jesus as a Teacher instead of as God, and secondly, he thought to attain eternal life by his own merit, by the law. But the law is only our schoolmaster to lead us to Christ (Gal. 3:24), to show us our need of a Saviour. This man, typical of the many moral and religious men of our own day, was ignorant of the fact that eternal life is not a result of what we do, but of what God has done. And so the Lord Jesus met him on his own ground. Our Lord said, "Why callest thou Me good? There is none good but One, that is, God." The Lord said, in other words, "God is the only One Who is good. If I am good, then I am God, and not just a teacher. If I am not God, then I am not good." And then, having pointed out this fact of His Deity to the man to whom He was speaking, He said: "If thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments."
Here is an interesting bit of dispensational teaching. You will recall that a similar question was asked of Paul and Silas, by the Philippian gaoler, in Acts 16:30: "Sirs, what must I do to be saved? And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved." The Lord Jesus said: "Keep the commandments;" Paul and Silas said: "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ." Who was right? They were both right, of course. The young man who came to the Lord in Judaea was living in the Age of Law. Men were responsible to keep the law perfectly, though, since all men failed to keep the law, God had provided the blood. Yet the law was the test. But since then Christ has died for the remission of sins, and the law is no longer a means of testing. Today, in the Age of Grace, salvation, eternal life, is to be had in one way only: "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved."
"Keep the commandments." Which? "Thou shalt do no murder, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness, Honour thy father and thy mother; and, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself." The commandments which the Lord told this man to keep were those which affected his relationship with his fellow man. "And the young man saith unto Him, All these have I kept from my youth up; what lack I yet?" Now here was a moral and righteous young man, in the eyes of the world, "touching the law blameless." How did the Lord Jesus answer this? In wisdom He showed the young man how he failed in obeying, that though he was earnest and desirous of righteousness, he did not love his neighbour as himself. "If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell all that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in Heaven: and come, follow Me. But when the young man heard it, he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions" (Matt. 19:21, 22). Yes, no doubt he was sorrowful, but we know that our Lord's heart was more touched than was the young man's, because that man would not recognize his own failure and his need that God alone could save him.
"Then said Jesus unto His disciples, Verily I say unto you, That a rich man shall hardly enter into the Kingdom of Heaven. And again I say unto you, It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the Kingdom of God" (Matt. 19:23, 24). The needle here mentioned is a common sewing or embroidery needle, rather than a small gateway through which a camel can go. In answer to the disciples' question, "Who, then, can be saved?" the Lord replied, "with men it is impossible; but with God all things are possible." Of men salvation is impossible; there is nothing we can do to be saved, for salvation is by the finished work that Christ has accomplished for us.
"Then answered Peter and said unto Him, Behold, we have forsaken all, and followed Thee; what shall we have therefore?" (Matt. 19:27). The Holy Spirit has revealed Peter in the Gospel of Matthew in all the weakness of the flesh. Only once did he speak words worthy of commendation, and then it was revealed to him by the heavenly Father (Matt. 16:16). Yet Peter was the great apostle of the record of early Acts! The Holy Spirit has revealed to us in Peter the power of His regenerating work, to show us that no matter how weak we may be in the flesh, He can mold us and use us to the glory of the Lord Jesus Christ.
"What do we get? We have given up all; what is our portion?" Surely it was the flesh speaking. Yet the Lord did not rebuke him, but told him of one of the things which had been prepared for His own. "Verily I say unto you, that ye who have followed Me, in the regeneration when the Son of Man shall sit on the throne of His glory, ye also shall sit upon the twelve thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel" (Matt. 19:28). This portion of the Lord's reply applies only to the disciples. The regeneration when the Son of Man shall reign, refers to the millennial rule of our Lord, when creation shall be renewed. (Refer to Isaiah 11:6-9; Zech. 12:8; Rom. 8:19.) Then the disciples reigning with Messiah, shall judge the twelve tribes of Israel, a restoration of this method of ruling Israel (Judges 1:11; 2:18) as promised to His people: "And I will restore thy judges as at the first, and thy counsellors as at the beginning. Afterward thou shalt be called the city of righteousness, the faithful city" (Isa. 1:26).
"And every one that hath forsaken houses, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for My Name's sake, shall receive a hundredfold, and shall inherit everlasting life" (Matt. 19:29). While the disciples alone shall rule over the twelve tribes of Israel, all those who have received the Lord Jesus as their Saviour, every one that for His sake hath forsaken houses, or brethren, or parents, or husbands, or wives, shall receive an hundredfold, shall inherit eternal life, and "shall also reign with Him" (2 Tim. 2:12). The exceeding and precious promises of God's Word shall come to pass. Let us not be concerned with "what we shall have," for our heavenly Father is better able to know our needs and to prepare our inheritance than are we, but let us be occupied with Christ and the glory of His Name. "Nevertheless we, according to His promise, look for new heavens and a new earth wherein dwelleth righteousness" (2 Peter 3:13).