The Gospel of Matthew
"E. Schuyler English: The Gospel According to Matthew"
The Book of MATTHEW
Our Lord had entered Jerusalem to offer Himself as King, and at the same time He entered into the last week of His earthly ministry before His crucifixion. Fearlessly He upbraided His enemies, the chief priests, the scribes, the Pharisees, and the Sadducees. You will recall that chapter twenty-one closes with the record of two parables which so disturbed and angered the Lord's opponents that they sought some means of destroying Him. "And when the chief priests and Pharisees had heard His parables, they perceived that He spoke of them. But when they sought to lay hands on Him, they feared the multitude, because they took Him for a prophet."
"Then Jesus answered and spake unto them again by parables and said, The Kingdom of the heavens is like unto a certain king, who made a marriage for his son. . . ." Now there is no doubt who the King is, and who the Son is. The King is God the Father, and the Son is Jesus Christ our Lord. The parable speaks of the Kingdom of the heavens offered to Israel; that is, the Kingdom over which the Son was to reign. God the Father sent forth His servants, the prophets ending with John the Baptist, "to call them that were bidden to the wedding." Who was that? Israel, of course. Israel rejected Messiah; and He was crucified.
"Again he sent forth other servants, saying, Tell them who are bidden, Behold, I have prepared my dinner: my oxen and my fatlings are killed, and all things are ready: come unto the marriage" (Matt. 22:4). Who was bidden? Israel, of course. Messiah had been crucified, but He was raised again: all things were ready for Israel to come. "The other servants" are the apostles. The invitation to Israel as a nation is recorded in Acts 3:12-26. It was not the Gospel of Grace that Peter preached upon this occasion, but an invitation to Israel the nation: "Ye men of Israel ... the God of Abraham, and of Isaac, and of Jacob, the God of our fathers. ... But those things, which God before had showed by the mouth of all His prophets, that Christ should suffer, He hath so fulfilled. Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord; and He shall send Jesus Christ, Who before was preached unto you. ... Ye are the children of the prophets, and of the covenant which God made with our fathers, saying unto Abraham, and in thy seed shall all the kindreds of the earth be blessed. Unto you first God, having raised up His Son Jesus, sent Him to bless you, in turning away every one of you from his iniquities." This was not a message to the Gentiles; it was Jewish, exclusively. The times of refreshing and restitution was a promise to Israel, when Messiah should reign on earth (Deut. 30:1-9; 2 Sam. 7:16; Zech. 12:8). God the Father was ready then for the Son to return to reign; so the Gospel of the Kingdom was again preached: "Repent ye." "But they made light of it, and went their ways, one to his farm, another to his merchandise: and the remnant took his servants, and entreated them spitefully, and slew them" (Matt. 22:5, 6). The persecution began immediately (see Acts 4:1), and reached its climax with the stoning of Stephen (Acts 7). "But when the king heard thereof, he was wroth: and he sent forth his armies, and destroyed those murderers, and burned up their city" (Matt. 22:7). History tells us of the complete fulfilment of this prophecy, and that of Luke 21:20-24,, in the destruction of Jerusalem in A.D. 70, when Titus came upon the city, and destroyed it, and Israel was dispersed. Then God's dealing with Israel as a nation was completed; He will deal with the nation again, after the Age of Grace. In the meantime, during this Church Age, there is neither Jew nor Gentile, but all men may come to God through the shed blood of the Lord Jesus Christ. Pray for the Jews, and to be used of God yourself in dealing with them that they, too, may be convinced of sin by the Holy Spirit, that many may come into the knowledge of God's grace and salvation in these last days.
"Then saith he to his servants, The wedding is ready, but they who were bidden were not worthy. Go ye therefore into the highways, and as many as ye shall find, bid to the marriage. So those servants went out into the highways, and gathered together all as many as they found, both bad and good: and the wedding was furnished with guests" (Matt. 22:8-10).
The interpretation generally accepted by those who have a knowledge of dispensational truth is that this invitation: "Go ye therefore into the highways, and as many as ye shall find, bid to the marriage" (vs. 9), refers to the new message, the Gospel of Grace, which was sent out to the Gentiles. We have the deepest respect for the men of God who are so led, yet we believe such teaching to be inconsistent with the accuracy of detail in the parables of our Lord. A certain king made a marriage for His Son; the Son is the Lord Jesus, the Bridegroom. Where there is a bridegroom and a wedding, there must be a bride. Who is the bride? The Church, of course, the Body of believers of this age trusting in the shed blood of the Lord Jesus. The Gospel of Grace is an invitation to become part of the Bride of Christ, not to be a guest at the wedding. We are told in verse eight: "The wedding is ready." When will the marriage of the Lamb take place? After the Church has been caught up to meet the Lord in the air, at the end of Jacob's trouble, just before the second coming of the Lord Jesus in glory (Rev. 19). After the second invitation was rejected, Jerusalem was destroyed and Israel scattered. We believe that the third invitation is also to Israel, during the Tribulation; that the going out into the highways and gathering together of all as many as they found, both good and bad, refers to Israel regathered from all nations to her land. Then Messiah, the Lord Jesus, the King, with His Bride, the Church, will come to reign; then the Kingdom of the heavens will be established upon the earth. This is the wedding feast of joy and blessing to which Israel was invited, and which she twice refused. It was the same invitation in each instance. And Israel the nation, both the good and the bad, who have not been slain during the tribulation, will gather for the feast.
"And when the king came in to see the guests, he saw there a man who had not on a wedding garment: and he saith unto him, Friend, how comest thou in hither not having a wedding garment? And he was speechless. Then said the king to the servants, Bind him hand and foot, and take him away, and cast him into outer darkness; there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth. For many are called, but few are chosen" (Matt. 22:11-14).
"And when the king came to see the guests." The King of verse two is the Father; but is not the King of verse eleven the Son? The Bridegroom and the Bride have been invited; the Father has given the Son the throne of David and He has come upon the earth to rule. He is now the King, and when He came to see the guests, He saw one not clothed in a wedding garment; not in the righteousness of Christ, but in his own righteousness. "Friend, how comest thou in thither not having a wedding garment?" "How? -- You were alive at the time of the Rapture? (See Appendix D.) You have lived through the Great Tribulation? You have seen the signs of Messiah's return in glory? And yet you have not believed on Me?" Before the Lord every mouth is stopped; "and he was speechless." "Then said the king ... bind him, ... and cast him into outer darkness." When the Lord returns in glory, He will judge Israel as to who shall enter the land of Kingdom blessing. "As I live, saith the Lord God, surely with a mighty hand, and with a stretched out arm, and with fury poured out, will I rule over you: and I will bring you out from the people, and will gather you out of the countries wherein ye are scattered, with a mighty hand, and with a stretched out arm, and with fury poured out. ... And I will cause you to pass under the rod, and I will bring you into the bond of the covenant: And I will purge from among you the rebels and them that transgress against Me: I will bring them forth out of the country where they sojourn, and they shall not enter into the land of Israel: and ye shall know that I am the Lord" (Ezekiel 20:33-38; see also Malachi 3:2-5).
"Then went the Pharisees and took counsel how they might entangle Him in His talk, and they sent out unto Him their disciples with the Herodians, saying, Master, we know that Thou art true, and teachest the way of God in truth, ... Tell us therefore, what Thinkest Thou? Is it lawful to give tribute unto Caesar, or not?" (Matt. 22:15-17).
The Lord Jesus had finished the parable of Israel's unbelief. The Pharisees, like the man not having a wedding garment, were speechless before the Lord. Instead, they went and counselled with the Herodians, who like the Sadducees were hated enemies. The forces of Satan combined to entrap our Lord, just as today they are allied in trying to destroy the Word of God. The Pharisees, the Herodians, the Sadducees -- the record of this chapter shows us their efforts to entangle the Lord Jesus. Ritualism, Worldliness, Rationalism -- these are the devil's forces of unbelief and hatred against the atoning work of our Lord, but God will prevail. Satan has been defeated at the Cross of the Lord Jesus; and by His resurrection.
"Is it lawful to give tribute unto Caesar?" On this subtle question their hopes were based. If the Lord should answer "No," then the Herodians, who favoured Roman authority, would accuse Him of conspiracy against the government. If He answered "Yes," then the Pharisees, the religious leaders, would have claimed that He favoured subjection to Rome and therefore could not be Messiah. But our Lord knew their thoughts. Again, He Whose Name is Wisdom, overcame Satan's agents and struck back at them with His answer: "Shew Me the tribute money. ... Whose is this image and superscription?" "They say unto Him, Caesar's. Then saith He unto them, render therefore unto Caesar the things which are Caesar's; and unto God the things that are God's." Once more they were speechless. The answer was perfect: This is Caesar's image; give tribute therefore to Caesar. But ye hypocrites, render unto God the things which are God's. That is where you fall down, not in the tribute paid to Caesar, but in the tribute rendered to God, Whom you are supposed to serve. Render unto Him those things which are His. "When they had heard these words, they marvelled, and left Him, and went their way."
"The same day came to Him the Sadducees, who say that there is no resurrection, and asked Him, saying, Master, Moses said, If a man die, having no children, his brother shall marry his wife, and raise up seed unto his brother. Now there were with us seven brethren: and the first, when he had married a wife, deceased, and, having no issue, left his wife unto his brother: Likewise the second also, and the third, unto the seventh. And last of all the woman died also. Therefore in the resurrection, whose wife shall she be of the seven? For they all had her" (Matt. 22:23-28).
We can imagine the attitude of the Sadducees when they asked this question of the Lord: first, contempt for their enemies, the Pharisees and the Herodians, who had failed to trap Him; secondly, unbelief in the Lord and the Scriptures; thirdly, a sarcastic sneer at the question of the resurrection, for they did not believe in life after death, in spirits or angels. What did our Lord say to them? "Ye do err, not knowing the Scriptures, nor the power of God." He did not try to prove that the Scriptures are the Word of God, but He accused them of ignorance. "Ye do err, not knowing the Scriptures, nor the power of God. For in the resurrection they neither marry, nor are given in marriage. But are as the angels of God in Heaven" (Matt. 22:29-30). "In a few words, the Lord affirms the truth of the resurrection, the existence of angels, which they denied, and shows that their carnal imaginations were but the result of their carnal hearts. The body of humiliation will not be continued in resurrection, and earthly relations such as marrying and giving in marriage will cease there" (A.C. Gaebelein).
"But, as touching the resurrection of the dead, have ye not read that which was spoken unto you by God, saying, I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob? God is not a God of the dead, but of the living" (Matt. 22:31, 32). In speaking to Moses, God had said (Ex. 3:6): "I am the God of thy father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob." Not _I _was the God of your fathers, but _I _AM. The Lord Jesus here affirmed the resurrection by the words of God. No further proof is needed. "And when the multitude heard this, they were astonished at His doctrine."
"But when the Pharisees had heard that He had put the Sadducees to silence, they were gathered together. Then one of them, who was a lawyer, asked Him a question, tempting Him, and saying, Master, what is the great commandment in the law?" (Matt. 22:34-36).
Here was the third testing. As the Lord Jesus was tempted three times by Satan, so He was by Satan's instruments. But the Devil knew Who Jesus was; he approached the Lord, "Since Thou be the Son of God." The world, however, does not believe, and these men in each instance approached the Lord Jesus not as Lord but as Master (Teacher). To them He was only human.
Then a lawyer brought up a question on which there was much divergence of opinion, as they thought He would not answer with finality. "Which is the great commandment in the law?" He Who made the Law, Who was the fulfilment of the Law, in all wisdom and knowledge answered truth; "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets" (Matt. 22:37-40). What man who understands these words is not condemned? But God has provided a way, by the shed blood of the Lord Jesus Christ. Believe on Him, receive Him as your Saviour, and it shall be counted unto you as righteousness, and you shall be saved. Again His opponents marvelled; in Mark twelve it is recorded that the lawyer answered, "Thou hast said the truth," a great admission for an enemy of the Lord. And the Lord Jesus replied: "Thou art not far from the Kingdom of God." Not far? No, for he recognized the wisdom and the truth. But "not far" is not in; you must receive the Lord Jesus personally, and put your trust in His finished work.
"While the Pharisees were gathered together, Jesus asked them, saying, What think ye of Christ? Whose Son is He?"
It was now the Lord's turn, and He did not fail as they failed. "What think ye of Christ? Whose Son is He?" That seemed an easy question to the Pharisees; were they not the teachers of the Scriptures? Why, Messiah, Christ, was to be the Son of David, and to sit upon David's throne. Yes, they knew the Scriptures, but they did not understand them. The Lord then asked: "How then doth David in spirit call Him Lord, saying, the Lord said unto my Lord, Sit Thou on My right Hand, till I make Thine enemies Thy footstool? If David then call Him Lord, how is He his Son?" (Matt. 22:43-45). Yes, Messiah is the Son of David, but He is also the Son of God. Otherwise, why would David, in Psalm 110, speaking of his son, call His Son His Lord? "What think ye of Christ? Whose Son is He?" That is a question equally as important to us as to the Pharisees. Is He a Man only, the Son of David, or is He also Son of God? By His genealogy He is proved to be the Son of David, by His life, His death, His resurrection, His ascension, His Spirit, His Word, He is proved to be the Son of God. One day He will sit upon the throne of His father David, and God the Father will make His enemies His footstool. Have you received Him as your Lord and Saviour? "What think ye of Christ?"