Queries and Criticisms against Christ
Jesus Christ came among men and announced Himself as One sent from the Father. He claimed every attribute of Deity, announced Himself as One sent from above, doing the work, speaking the words and fulfilling the will of the Father. We must grant at once that He was either all that He claimed to be, or He was the greatest impostor among religious zealots that the world ever knew.
It is not difficult to imagine the queries and misgivings that filled a priesthood zealous to keep up its own self-assumed dignity and headship. The common people heard Him gladly, while the "leaders" met Him with doubtful disputations and queries, by which they sought to dislodge Him from the confidence and love of the populace. Some of these queries are before us in this study, and we will present a few of the various questions concerning our Lord as they came to Him from time to time during His ministry.
1. "Who art Thou?" This is the first query, and it was lodged against John the Baptist, the forerunner of Christ. The priesthood had learned from Zacharias, the priest and father of John the Baptist, something, perhaps everything, which surrounded the birth of John. Now that John has become of the age to launch his ministry the lingering memories of his notable birth were revived, and full of anxious questions, the scribes and Pharisees sent a delegation to ask John something of himself. John fervently denied that he was Elijah, or "that Prophet," or the Christ.
When they pressed him, he said, "I am the voice of one crying in the wilderness, Make straight the way of the Lord, as said the Prophet Esaias."
John's words must have alarmed the rulers inasmuch as they were familiar with the words of the Prophet, which announced the coming of the Messiah. It seemed to them like audacity running wild for any man to suddenly arise, dressed as John was dressed, with his habits, and wilderness message, to acclaim himself the forerunner of the Messiah.
They could not understand nor did they prove themselves willing to receive any Messiah who did not come with their own recommendation and pronouncement.
2. "Where dwellest Thou?" Two of John's disciples followed Christ, and asked, "Where dwellest Thou?" This question showed how intent the two were to know more about the One whom John had announced as God the Son, and Lamb of God (John 1:34, John 1:36 ).
The question had to do with Christ's earthly environments. How could one so marvelous as God, dwell among them? Did He have some fanciful, Divinely-built palace to house Him? In answer to their question, Christ said: "Come and see." It must have been a real revelation, as they spent the day with Him. What they discovered is not told, but we are sure that His dwelling place had nothing of the regal about it.
3. "Can there any good thing come out of Nazareth?" This was the question of Nathanael. Nathanael could not comprehend how the Messiah of God should come from a mean village like Nazareth. Philip did not endeavor to explain matters to Nathanael. He simply said, "Come and see."
When Nathanael saw Him it was not what he saw, but what he heard, that caused him to cry out, "Thou art the Son of God: Thou art the King of Israel."
4. "What manner of man is this?" This was the query of Christ's own disciples as they saw Him calm the raging sea. They knew that He was above the ordinary, but they were just beginning to grasp the fact that He was God in the flesh.
5. "Whence then hast Thou that Living Water?" This was the question which the woman of Samaria put to Him. Christ said that He would give the Water of which, drinking, she would never thirst. She wanted to know who He was. Such a one must surely be, thought she, greater than Jacob who dug the well. She perceived Him a Prophet, and afterwards confessed Him as the Christ.
I. THE MAN SICK OF THE PALSY (Matthew 9:1-2 )
1. The sick of the palsy was brought to Jesus. Here is a ministry of love on the part of some one. It is a ministry in which all of us may have a part. We cannot heal the sick of the palsy; we can bring them to Jesus. We cannot save the sinner; we can point him to the Lamb of God who taketh away the sin of the world. We cannot force people to be saved; we can fill our automobiles, and carry them to the House of God.
There is always a ministry for saints that is vital. We stand, as it were, the go-between twixt the populace, and the Lord.
2. He was sick of the palsy. The poor fellow was all a-tremble, lying on a bed. Sinners are like the troubled sea, when it cannot rest. They too are lying prone and helpless upon their backs. There is no man who is lost, who can find himself. There is none sick in sin, who can heal himself.
3. Jesus saw their faith. He saw the faith of those who brought him, or else they would not have carried him there. He saw the faith of the sick of the palsy, or else the sick of the palsy would have not allowed himself to be brought.
Faith is the connecting link between the sinner and the Saviour, between the palsied, and the Great Physician.
4. The words of cheer. "Thy sins be forgiven thee." Christ saw, back of the sick man's physical ailment, a heart full of sin. The "palsy" had doubtless been caused as a result of the man's evil life. The Lord, therefore, went to the root of the whole matter, and said: "Thy sins be forgiven thee."
In doing this, Christ not only announced the cause of the sick man's condition, but He also announced Himself as God. He took to Himself not only the power to heal, but the power to forgive sin. All of this was in line with everything that the Prophets had announced of Him. It was in line, likewise, with the annunciation of Gabriel, "He shall save His people from their sins."
Thank God, that in Christ we have both a Healer of the body, and a Saviour of the soul.
II. A CUTTING CONDEMNATION (Matthew 9:3 )
1. The criticism against Christ, acclaimed Him a blasphemer. They said within themselves: "This man blasphemeth." They called Him a blasphemer because they called Him a man, and repudiated the fact that He was God. If their contention that His Deity was false had been true, then their contention that He was a blasphemer would have been true.
Jesus Christ cannot be good and noble and great and worthy of praise if He is a mere man. This, however, is exactly what the present-day modernist seeks to do. On the one hand, he robs Christ of His Deity, denies every claim He made as to His coming forth from the Father; and then, on the other hand, seeks to exalt Him as the world's greatest Teacher.
2. The criticism against Christ came from religious leaders. It was so in that day, it is so in this day. Christ is being maligned in the house of His supposed friends. It is not the world only which denies the Virgin Birth, the atoning power of the Blood, the literal and bodily Resurrection of Christ. It is the scribes, the men behind the pulpits of the modernistic church.
It is not the world only who denies that the Bible is inspired, and who accordingly sets at naught the authority of the Scriptures. It is the scribes. It is not the atheist, the agnostic, the unbeliever without the camp; but it is the atheist, the agnostic, and the unbeliever within the camp that is doing violence unto the Son of God.
3. The criticism against Christ was a covert criticism. The scribes spake within themselves. This is true sometimes today. Men in the pulpit speak words against the Son of God in a veiled and subtle way, while others are more bold and come out into the open, denying the only Lord God and our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.
III. CHRIST SUSTAINS HIS DEITY (Matthew 9:4-6 )
1. Christ manifested His Deity by knowing their thoughts. He knew what they were reasoning in their heart. He read their mind. Herein was fulfilled that which was written: "Man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart." He was God, because He knew their thoughts.
2. Christ manifested His Deity by challenging their conclusion. He said: "Wherefore think ye evil in your hearts? For whether is easier, to say, Thy sins be forgiven thee; or to say, Arise, and walk?" In either event it was necessary to remove the cause in order to effect the cure. Had Christ said: "Arise, and walk," He would have done what man could not do, and would have acclaimed Himself, thereby, as God. Thus when He said: "Thy sins be forgiven thee" He did no more than to have acclaimed Himself the same God that could say, "Arise, and walk."
3. Christ stated that His power to forgive sins, was based on His power to make the man walk. Here are His words: "But that ye may know that the Son of Man hath power on earth to forgive sins, (then saith He to the sick of the palsy,) Arise, take up thy bed, and go unto thine house."
When the first miracle was performed in Cana of Galilee and the water turned into wine, we read: "This beginning of miracles did Jesus in Cana of Galilee, and manifested forth His glory; and His disciples believed on Him."
When the Lord Jesus walked on the water, and came into the boat, they who were in the ship, "Came and worshiped Him, saying, Of a truth Thou art the Son of God."
Let those who read these words, fall down and join the disciples in worshiping the Son of God, the Saviour. Surely, we who live in the twentieth century have proof upon proof, that Christ is the Son of God. We have not alone the accumulation of the miracles which He wrought during His earth-life, but we have also that supreme miracle of His resurrection, and ascension, with the continued manifestation of the glory of His power made known through His holy Apostles and preachers during 2,000 years of service.
IV. ARISE AND GO (Matthew 9:6 , l.c., 7)
1. We have before us the statement, "Arise." It is as though God came to a sinner, undone and unable to help himself, and said: "Arise!" The sick of the palsy lay prone upon his bed, but the Lord said, "Arise!" The man with the withered hand could not by any means move his arm, but Christ said: "Stretch forth thine hand!"
Christ said to the man four days dead, to the man who couldn't come forth, "Come forth," and he that was dead came forth bound hand and foot with graveclothes.
2. We have before us the statement, "Arise, take up thy bed." The bed that carried him, he was to carry. The sins which in the past dominated the sinner; the sinner, saved by grace, is commanded to dominate. The Word is plainly written: "Sin shall not have dominion over you."
We who were sick in sin, are acclaimed, over every power that bound us, more than conquerors through Jesus Christ, our Lord. If we were driven by the devil into the wilderness, we are acclaimed as able to resist him, with the assurance "He will flee from you." Thus the weak are made strong. Those who were impoverished, are enriched; and the conquered are conquerors, the victims, are victors, and the lost are found.
3. We have before us the words: "Arise, take up thy bed, and go unto thine house." This last phrase is meaningful. We are not alone to arise from our weakness, made strong; from our sickness, made well; we are not alone to take up our bed, to carry that which carried us; but we are to go. We are to go, first of all, to our own house. We are to go, secondly, throughout the streets and lanes of our city. We are to go on, into the byways and hedges; and unto the uttermost part of the earth. As we go, we are to tell how great things the Lord hath done for us.
V. THE MARVELING MULTITUDE (Matthew 9:8 )
1. The multitudes marveled. It was enough to make them marvel. Their amazement is no greater than ours.
"I stand amazed in the presence
Of Jesus the Nazarene,
And wonder how He would love me,
A sinner, condemned, unclean.
How marvelous! how wonderful!
And my song shall ever be:
How marvelous! how wonderful
Is my Saviour's love for me!"
We marvel at the grace that saves us. How could the Holy, love the unholy? How could the mighty, support the weak? How could the noble, put His arm around the ignoble? How could the clean, embrace the unclean? How could the Just, save the unjust? We do not know how, but we know it is true. God loved us while we were yet sinners. He sought us, He found us, He brought us unto Himself.
We marvel at the power of God that keeps us. He keeps us under His watchful eye. He leads us, He provides for us, He strengthens us, and gives us the victory.
We marvel at what lies ahead: the Rapture of the saints, the Reward, the Marriage of the Lamb, the Reign of Christ, the New Jerusalem, and the eternal ages, in which the exceeding riches of His grace will be revealed.
2. The multitudes glorified God. They glorified Him for what happened unto the man, Here is the statement: They "glorified God, which had given such power unto men." Should we not also glorify Him, because of what He has done to us? Shall we act as though we, by our own power, have preached His Name, wrought righteousness, obtained promises? Is there any place for boasting in anything that we do? Far be it from us to claim any such power within ourselves.
This is one of the greatest statements in the Bible. They "glorified God, which had given such power unto men." Let us do as they did. Never again, may we receive honor for what God does.
"All hail the pow'r of Jesus' Name!
Let angels prostrate fall!
Bring forth, the royal diadem,
And crown Him Lord of All."
VI. THE CALL OF MATTHEW (Matthew 9:9 )
1. A fitting sequence. Our verse says: "As Jesus passed forth from thence, He saw a man, named Matthew, sitting at the receipt of custom: and He saith unto him, Follow Me."
The multitude had scarcely ceased glorifying God who had given such power unto men. Then Jesus, passing forth, called upon Matthew to follow Him. In this act our Lord was fulfilling just what had been ascribed to Him, by the marveling multitude. He was giving unto Matthew, not only a call, but the power to fulfill it.
As we sit in our chair dictating these words, we hold in our hand an open Bible. At the top of the page we see written: "Saint Matthew." What! Do we see the very man who sat at the receipt of custom, with his name inscribed above the page of the Holy Bible? the very man to whom Christ said: "Follow Me"?
Surely, this is an example which verifies the statement, they "glorified God, which had given such power unto men."
2. From a seat in the customs, to a seat on the throne. Matthew had what men would have called, "A good job." It was a good job, as jobs go. It carried with it a neat little sum at the end of the month. It gave him a certain recognition among the Romans, the reigning class. Did the Lord Jesus have the audacity to ask this man to give up his job? No, there was no audacity in it. Christ led him to a better job.
The Lord took Matthew from "sitting at the receipt of custom," to sitting in His cabinet. Matthew the publican, became Matthew the Apostle. Matthew the collector of revenue, became Matthew the dispenser of the grace of God. Far above all of this, is a little clew which God gives us to the final glory which awaits Matthew in the eternal City of God. Read Revelation 21:4 .
Beloved friends, it pays to leave the customs to follow Jesus. It pays now, in the new fellowship, the new service; it pays by and by when the Lord shall say unto us, "Enter thou into the joy of thy Lord."
VII. FINDING FAULT (Matthew 9:10-13 )
1. Jesus eating with the publicans and sinners. How gracious a scene. The Son of God seeking to save that which is lost. The Son of God sitting with those whom He came to save, in order that He might tell them the story of grace. The Son of God humbling Himself, in order that He might lift tip the fallen.
2. The Pharisees questioning the conduct of the Master. The Pharisees were entirely blinded to the purpose and the spirit of Jesus Christ. They were accustomed to clothe themselves with dignity; they professed a sinister piety and paraded a "holier than thou" policy. Thus it was that they said unto Christ's disciples: "Why eateth your Master with publicans and sinners?" They were impugning the fact of His glory, because of the deep reachings of His grace.
3. The Master's response. Turning, in behalf of His disciples, toward the Pharisees, Christ said: "They that be whole need not a physician, but they that are sick."
The Lord said unto them: "I am not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance." To whom should the physician go, if not to the sick? Should he, because of the dignity and honor of his profession, refuse to sit down by the side of an emaciated, diseased, polluted victim? Should he be condemned for feeling the pulse, bathing the forehead, and easing the pain of the sick?
The analogy of Christ between the physician and Himself, is deep in the depth of its significance. The Son of God, the Great Physician, should indeed sit with sin-sick souls, and become all things to all men to save some.
Dr. Morrison, of the Methodist Episcopal Church, South, said: "News of the war got into a lunatic asylum in our country, and the question of food supply agitated the minds of the inmates of the asylum. They were discussing the question as to where they could find a garden, in order that they might grow vegetables. One day one of the inmates was discovered with a pickax, digging at the foundations of the asylum in order to make a garden to plant beans and potatoes. The keepers said, 'What are you doing?" He said, 'I am digging up the foundation to make a garden.' They said, 'Then where are you going to live?' He said, 'O I am going to live upstairs!' They confined him in a padded cell, but he was exactly like those critics who want to do away with the Old Testament; for the Old Testament is the foundation of the New." Publisher Unknown.
Eating with Sinners
For our opening word we have chosen the first verse of the study "He saw a man, * * sitting at the receipt of custom: and He saith unto him, Follow Me. And he arose, and followed Him."
There is something in this that is so simple and so direct that it appeals to us. It has every mark of the genuine.
1. There were no furbelows about it. There was no display, as though Matthew was a real hero, and needed a big commendation for his act in leaving the seat of custom on so short a notice. There was no blaring of trumpets, as though Christ had made a successful inroad into the upper classes, and had landed a follower from among the tax collectors.
There were no big headlines in the morning papers over the great success attending the ministry of the Lord. It is all stated so quietly, so unostentatiously "Follow Me. * * He left all, rose up, and followed."
Thus it should be: No man deserves to be heralded and applauded and praised because he turned his back on a few paltry dollars, which perish in a day, in order to follow the Son of God on a march toward a Land filled with flowers, with riches untold, and with a fellowship of martyrs and prophets and seers; and of the Father, Son, and the Holy Ghost.
With such a glorious future ahead of him, and such an honor thrust upon him, there is no place to appropriately ascribe honor and glory because a man had such a wisdom that he saw the blessings which were ahead.
2. There was a call to leave the temporal for the spiritual. We are glad our verse says Matthew was "sitting at the receipt of custom." We are glad the verse describes the Master calling him away from sitting there. The Master always calls us to leave all. He rightly does this. Sometimes He permits us to remain in our position of employment, but He always demands that every position shall be subject to His orders. If we are to go with Him in a new path, we must leave the old, unless He deigns to travel with us in the path where we were traveling. In any event, there must be a following with Christ, and everything which hinders such a following must be set aside.
3. There was a call to follow. We wish that you could each one weigh the meaning of these wonderful words, "Follow Me." Sometimes we do not know what they entail. They do, however, always include a journeying with Christ. They always mean, "Whithersoever Thou goest, I will go; whithersoever Thou dwellest, I will dwell; Thy people shall be my people."
If we are to follow Christ we are to follow Him into the Garden, unto the hill that is lone and gray; we are to follow Him outside the camp, bearing His reproach. We are to cast our lot with Him in a sacred and hallowed union, so that everything which befalls His lot befalls ours. There must be a union unto death, as well as unto life.
4. There will be a following hereafter.
They followed Him once in sacrifice and in suffering; now they follow Him as the risen, exalted Lord. If we follow on earth in fidelity as virgins, we, with them, will have a wonderful sphere of following Him in the Heavenlies.
If we follow Him on earth, even unto the death, if need be, we can follow Him in His Millennial Kingdom, and reign with Him in His glory.
I. JESUS SITTING AT MEAT WITH PUBLICANS AND SINNERS (Matthew 9:10 )
Our verse says: "And it came to pass, as Jesus sat at meat in the house, behold, many publicans and sinners came and sat down with Him and His disciples."
1. Is there a place where we may fellowship with the ungodly? We are all aware that there is none. It is written, "And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them."
The word "fellowship" is too strong a word to apply to Matthew 9:10 . Christ did sit at meat in a certain house, and many publicans and sinners sat down with Him. We have done this same thing time and again.
However, so far as we know, we have never had fellowship with those with whom we ate; that is, we have never been yoked together with them. We have never done what we are told not to do in Psalms 1:1 . We have never walked in the counsel of the ungodly, nor stood in the way of sinners, nor sat in the seat of the scornful. If we have, our Lord never has. He was "separate from sinners."
We have made it our aim to obey the words of Proverbs 4:14-15, "Enter not into the path of the wicked, and go not in the way of evil men. Avoid it, pass not by it, turn from it, and pass away."
As we slip into the house and behold the Master eating with publicans and sinners, we still contend that, in no sense did Christ break His own separation from sinners.
2. There is a place where a man may contact sinners. Every call of the Bible is a call to us to go out into the byways and hedges, to bring them in. Every call of the Bible is a call to go into all the world and to preach the Gospel to every creature. God is always saying: "If by all means we may save some." Separation does not and never did mean isolation, in the sense of treating the unsaved as untouchables.
Our call is a call to contact with the man of low estate, with the sinner. Our place is to go to him, in his sin, to put our arms around him, give him a hand, to lift him up, to save him.
If Jesus Christ had refused to eat with the publicans and sinners He would, of necessity, have refused to die upon the Cross as the Saviour of sinners. His doing the one made it impossible to refuse to do the other.
II. THE PHARISAICAL CRITICS (Matthew 9:11 )
1. On the lookout for faults. The Pharisees never approached Christ with an open mind. Many of them came to see Him. but they came, if by any means, they might discover in Him that which was evil They came in order to destroy Him.
A few, now and then, had their spirit of opposition broken down when they beheld His purity and power; and when they heard His messages of love and mercy. The vast majority, however, remained as critics to the end.
It is almost impossible to help anybody who carries with him a critical spirit.
2. A seeming discovery. The Pharisees knew the laws of separation. They were prepared to carry them to every extreme. They could pull their raiment about them and pass by on the other side with a display of ultra-religious ceremony. They could clasp their hands and ceremoniously lift their eyes heavenward as they prayed within themselves, and said, "I thank Thee, that I am not * * as this publican."
Knowing, therefore, their call to separation from sinners, and practicing it to a religious fanaticism, they were ready, when they saw Christ eating with publicans and sinners, to say, "Why eateth your Master with publicans and sinners?"
In our ministry, when at our invitation a reeling drunkard came up the aisle and fell prostrate at the altar, we have known certain pharisaical saints to complain bitterly. They felt that a poor intoxicated derelict of humanity had spoiled the whole service by seeking the Saviour.
To be sure the man was gloriously saved, and afterward became a vital factor for his Lord. To them, however, his salvation seemed to carry but little weight.
Thus it was that the Pharisees said: "Why eateth your Master with publicans and sinners?" For their part, they disdained Him, They said, "Your Master," and not "ours."
III. TEACHING THE LESSON OF MERCY (Matthew 9:12-13 )
1. Christ explained His attitude toward publicans and sinners. Here is His explanation, "They that be whole need not a physician, but they that are sick." With one sweep, the Lord shook off the criticisms of the nagging Pharisees. With one word He overcame every critic of today, who would place upon Him the charge of being a comrade and a partner with the wicked.
Christ explained that He sat with the publicans and sinners the same way as a physician sits down by the bed of the sick. A doctor does not enter the home of the diseased to be a partaker of the disease. He enters to save the sick from whatever ailment may have befallen him.
He may prescribe for a leper, but he is never reckoned as having the leprosy; nor as being classed among the lepers. His work is that of healing and helping of uplifting. Jesus Christ, therefore, said, in effect, I sit with publicans and sinners, because I am a Saviour of publicans and sinners.
2. Christ reproved the Pharisees for their lack of mercy. He said: "But go ye and learn what that meaneth, I will have mercy, and not sacrifice." Some of us are perfectly satisfied to go through the act of baptism and a remembrance of the Lord's Supper, but we are not willing to show mercy to the publican and the sinner. We are ready to quote, "Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners"; but we are not willing to apply those words by entering into the home of the publican, and in sitting down with him and pointing him to the way of life.
We parade our piety by holding tenaciously to a doctrinal statement concerning the substitutionary sacrifice of Christ, but we display an utter ignorance of the deeper meaning of that sacrifice when we refuse to have mercy. A doctrine that is not practiced, is not, to us, practical.
We must not only believe, but we must enter into the meaning of our faith. We must go back of the Cross in which we glory and reach down and lift the sinner up to our Saviour. We must go out and bring the one burdened with his sin to the foot of that Cross where sins are made to roll away.
3. The climax of it all. Christ said: "I am not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance." Over His position, as He sat at meat with publicans and sinners, He wrote the word "CALL." He did not write the word "Fellowship," or "Comradeship."
It was when Jesus Christ ate with publicans and sinners that He (see Luke 15:1-32 ) gave the parable of the lost sheep, the lost coin, and the lost son. He was there in order to seek and to save that which was lost.
IV. FASTING SHOULD NOT BE CEREMONIAL (Matthew 9:14-15 )
1. A question on fasting. This time the question was asked by the disciples of John. They asked in all sincerity, because they failed to understand the deeper meaning of fasting. Here was their question, "Why do we and the Pharisees fast oft, but Thy disciples fast not?"
(1) The question shows that John's disciples were aligned to rabbinical laws. Mark the words, "We and the Pharisees." Two classes only were displayed, "We and the Pharisees" were one class; "Thy disciples," was the other class.
It is not to be wondered at that John the Baptist's disciples were more or less under Old Testament legalities. John had come under the Law, and had heralded the coming of Christ. He had warned concerning certain fallacies in Jewish ceremonials, which were held without any new life in their wake; however, his disciples still followed after Judaism.
(2) The question of John's disciples made necessary an explanation as to why Christ was not enforcing certain rabbinical laws and customs. This same thing may often come, in effect, to many believers today. Some churches carry out a routine and formal worship which other churches omit. Some churches demand books of prayer, and other rituals, of which others know nothing. The question, Why? may come to them.
2. The answer to the question. The Lord Jesus said: "Can the children of the bridechamber mourn, as long as the bridegroom is with them?" Christ taught that, in effect, fasting, as a mere formality and ritual, was not acceptable to God. When people fast there must be a reason for fasting. There must be circumstances which make fasting practical.
Let us remember that in everything God looketh on the heart.
Was it a time for the children of the bridechamber to mourn, during the festive time that the bridegroom was with them? It would be incongruous out of order. Should we start up a period of weeping and wailing in the midst of happy and joyous festivities? Then we would be doing something by way of form, which is not an expression of the pulsings of our heart.
3. Christ's vision of the future. " The bridegroom shall be taken from them, and then shall they fast." The Lord spoke of His death, of the tragic effect that it would have upon His disciples. He saw them as sheep without a shepherd; He anticipated the two disciples walking to Emmaus, weeping and sad as they walked; He saw Peter with his heart "crushed, as he beheld his dying Lord; He saw the women weeping about the tomb. He saw it all, and He said, "The days will come, when the bridegroom shall be taken from them, and then shall they fast."
In other words, the days would come when there would be a genuine fasting, a fasting that was not ceremonial and formal; but a fasting that was real and genuine, and prompted by circumstances which give meaning to the fast.
V. A MESSAGE CONCERNING REALITIES (Matthew 9:16 )
We have the message of a piece of new cloth in an old garment. Christ said, "No man putteth a piece of new cloth unto an old garment, for that which is put in to fill it up taketh from the garment, and the rent is made worse."
1. The old garment stands for the Judaistic Rabbinical laws which were passing away. The old garment stands for those things which the Scribes and the Pharisees commanded the populace to observe and do. They were burdens which were too heavy and too grievous to be borne. They were rituals which the Pharisees bound and laid on men's shoulders. They included such things as the making broad of phylacteries and the enlargement of the borders of garments. They included regulations concerning swearing by the Temple, and the giving of gifts, the paying of tithes of mint and anise and cummin. All of these things Christ called "straining at gnats." They were things which included, the building of the tombs of the Prophets, and the garnishing of the sepulchers of the righteous.
Jesus Christ called all the things above "an old garment that was rent and torn." They were not the commandments of God but they were the commandments of God made void by the commandments of men.
2. The new garment stands for that which Christ was about to bring in the Church the Gospel as Paul preached it. This was a brand new order, unknown to the Prophets of old. It was a new cloth that could not be tied on to the old garment.
Do you remember how the Apostle Paul said: "Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free (that is, the new garment) and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage" (that is, the old garment). When the new garment came in, the old passed away.
VI. ARK CHRISTIANS FREE FROM THE LAW (Matthew 9:17 with Galatians 5:1 )
The new wine put into old bottles is much the same as the new cloth put into the old garment. However, we believe that our former statements are not sufficient. There are other vital truths which need to be impressed.
1. There was no place for union between the Church and Judaism. When Christ brought in the Church, He did not bring it in as a reformed and restated Judaistic continuance.
Every statement of Scripture is contrary to this contention. Let me note a few of these for your consideration:
(1) "The branches were broken off, that I might be graffed in." The teaching here is plain. The branches are Judaism; they were broken off; The "I" is Christianity that is grafted in. To be sure, it was grafted into the old Jewish root, but it is a separate system of branches.
We are studying in Romans 11:1-36 . Here is another statement in the same chapter, "If the casting away of them be the reconciling of the world, what shall the receiving of them be, but life from the dead?" Israel was cast away, the Church was brought in to be God's reconciling instrument. However, Israel shall, after the Rapture of the Church, be received back again, and at that time, Israel will function as one who is brought back from death. While the Church is operating, Israel is sidetracked. When the Church is taken away, at the Coming of the Lord, Israel will be brought back again, "for God is able to graff them in again."
(2) "I withstood him to the face, because he was to be blamed." Unto Paul God revealed the Gospel for this age. That Gospel was distinct from Judaism. When Peter came to Antioch he separated himself, fearing them which were of the circumcision. In other words, Peter feared to take his stand against Judaistic entanglements, but the rather dissembled with them.
It was against this that Paul wrote, "I withstood him to the face," saying to Peter, "Why compellest thou the Gentiles to live as do the Jews?" After this Paul added, "Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the Law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ."
2. Is, then, the Christian free from the Law? He is free from the Law, written in ordinances, so far as salvation is concerned. The handwriting that was against us, which was contrary to us, He took away, nailing it to His Cross. The Law brought condemnation, because it condemned us for our sins. Christ took this condemnation away, being made a curse for us.
The laws of sacrifices and ritual are wholly removed from the Church. We are dead with Christ from the rudiments of the world. "Why, as though living in the world, are ye subject to ordinances?"
The Christian, walking in love, will find that he fulfills the Law written on two tables of stone. However, salvation is never by the Law.
Thank God for saving and superabounding grace.
A short time ago, in one of our churches in Seoul we had a most remarkable conversion. Many times we had invited a certain woman to the services and to the Lord Jesus Christ, but always she had refused our invitations. We felt the Lord was speaking to her, but she resisted the pleadings of His Spirit. She was an ardent idol worshiper and recently, as she was preparing rice cakes to offer to the idols, one of God's messengers again invited her to the meetings. This time she accepted, leaving her rice cakes just as they were, not even stopping to finish them. How the Spirit dealt with her that night, until she could no longer resist His workings! With tears, she repented of her sins and cried out to God for forgiveness. She arose from her knees with such shouts of victory and so happy in the Lord that all the Christians present in that meeting started shouting and praising the Lord with her. In the midst of this rejoicing she thought of her rice cakes and ran home to finish them, which took only a short time. White she was there she tore the idols from the shelf and the heathen pictures from the wall and burned them. She praised the Lord that these dead gods, with eyes that see not, ears that hear not, and a heart void of compassion, had been exchanged for the True and Living God, and that her burden was gone and peace had come to her heart. She returned to the church with her rice cakes and she and the Christians enjoyed them together she no longer needed them to offer to the idols. As they ate, they continued their rejoicing for the healing of both soul and body. Mrs. Pak, Yu-cha, Korea.
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Neighbour, Robert E. "Wells of Living Water Commentary on Matthew 9". "Living Water". https://www.studylight.org/
the Second Week after Easter