Handbook of Matthew
Jesus the Messiah
The special emphasis of Matthew is that Jesus is the Messiah foretold by Old Testament Prophets. He quotes from the Old Testament repeatedly. He seems to have had Jewish readers particularly in mind.
Such frequent use of the term "Kingdom of Heaven" occurs that this Gospel is commonly called the Gospel of the Kingdom.
While, in the main, it follows a general chronological order, its material is grouped rather by Subjects.
It gives Jesus' Discourses quite fully, specially the Sermon on the Mount, and about His Coming and End of the World.
This Gospel does not name its author. However, from Early Church Fathers, beginning with Papias. a pupil of John, onward, it has been accepted as the work of Matthew.
We know almost nothing of Matthew, also called Levi. He is mentioned in the four lists of the Twelve: (Matthew 10:3; Mark 3:18; Luke 6:15; Acts 1:13). The only other mention is his call to follow Jesus (Matthew 9:9 13; Mark 2:14-17; Luke 5:27-32).
The only word that Matthew has about himself is that he was a Publican. Publicans were collectors of Roman taxes, ordinarily extortioners, and generally despised. Luke tells us that Matthew made a Great Feast for Jesus, and Forsook All to follow Him. But
Matthew does not even give himself credit for that. He loses sight of himself utterly in Adoration of his Master. We love him for his self-effacing Humility.
And we marvel at the Grace of God in choosing such a man to be the author of what is said to be "the most Widely Read Book in all the world," first book in New Testament.
Tradition says that Matthew preached in Palestine for some years, and then traveled to foreign countries; that he wrote his Gospel originally in Hebrew, and some years later, probably about A.D. 60, issued a more complete edition in Greek. What a service to mankind is the production of this Book!
His business es a tax-collector accustomed him to keeping records. He was a Personal Companion of Jesus through most of Jesus' Public Ministry. The widely-held, but unsubstantiated, present-day hypothesis that Matthew copied from Mark's Gospel is, on the face of it, absurd. It is not at all certain that Mark even knew Jesus. Why should Matthew have to copy from one who had Not been an Eye-witness of things that he himself had seen with his own eyes and heard with his own ears over and over and over?
The Four Gospels
The Four Gospels are, by all odds, the Most Important part of the Bible: more important than all the rest of the Bible put together: more important than all the rest of the books in the whole world put together: for we could better afford to be without the knowledge of everything else than to be without the knowledge of Christ.
Bible books that precede are Anticipatory, and those that follow are Explanatory, of the Hero of the Four Gospels.
There were many more than four to start with (Luke 1:1). It was a period of great Literary Activity, the age of Caesar, Cicero, Sallust, Virgil, Horace, Seneca, Livy, Tacitus, Plutarch and Pliny. Within a generation the Story of Jesus had spread over the whole known world, and had enlisted countless thousands of devoted followers. Naturally there arose a greet demand for Written Narratives of His Life.
God Himself, we believe, took a hand in the Preparation and Preservation of These Four, as containing that which He wanted to be Known about Christ. In the Old Testament there are some Double Narratives. But only here are Four of the Bible books about the Same Person. It must mean Superlative Importance.
Matthew was a Publican. Luke, a Physician. John, a Fisherman. It is not stated what Mark was. Matthew and John were Companions of Jesus. Mark was a companion of Peter. His Gospel contains what he had heard Peter tell times without number. Luke was a companion of Paul. His Gospel contains what he had heard Paul preach from one end of the Roman Empire to the other, verified by his own investigation. They all told the Same Story. They traveled far and wide. They often went together. John and Peter were intimate companions. Mark was associated with both Peter and Paul, Luke and Mark were in Rome together between A.D. 61 and 63 (Colossians 4:10, 14).
It may be that they wrote many copies, in part or complete, of these same Gospels, for different churches or individuals. It may be that all of the Apostles and their helpers, at times, put in Writing that which they had told about Jesus, for churches which they had founded or visited.
But whatever Writings there may have been perished, mostly, no doubt, in the Imperial Persecutions of the first three centuries, except those which we have in the New Testament, which God, in His Providence, watched over and preserved as being sufficient to convey His Word to all future generations. (See further under Mark 1, Luke 1, John 1.)
This is given also in Luke 3:23-38. The Coming of Christ to the earth had been anticipated from the beginning. In the early days of human history God had chosen One Family Line, that of Abraham, and, later on, another Family within the Abrahamic
Family, that of David, to be the Family through which His Son would make entrance into the world.
The Hebrew Nation was founded, and nurtured, of God, through the ages, to bulwark that Family Line of descent.
The Genealogy, as given in Matthew, is abridged. Some names are omitted. But that does not invalidate the line of descent.
42 generations, 3 groups of 14 each, cover 2000 years: the 1st group, 1000 years; 2nd group, 400 years; 3rd, 600 years.
The 3rd group, however, names only 13 generations, the 14th evidently being intended for Mary.
The Genealogy as given in Luke is somewhat different. Matthew goes back to Abraham; Luke to Adam. One is descending, "begat"; the other is ascending, "was son of." From David they are separate lines, touching in Shealtiel and Zerubbabel.
The commonly accepted view is that Matthew gives Joseph's line, showing Jesus to be Legal Heir to the Promises given Abraham and David; and that Luke gives Mary's line, showing Jesus' blood descent, "Son of David according to the flesh" (Romans 1:3).
Mary's genealogy, in accord with Jewish usage, was in her husband's name. Joseph was the "son of Heli", (Luke 3:23), that is, "son-in-law" of Heli. Jacob was Joseph's father (Matthew 1:16).
These genealogies, given more fully in I Chronicles 1-9, form the backbone of Old Testament annals. Carefully guarded through long centuries of epochal vicissitudes, they contain a "family line through which a Promise was transmitted 4000 years, a fact unexampled in history"
The Four Gospels Compared
The Four Gospels narrate, largely, the same things, but with some differences. Only Matthew and Luke tell of the Birth and Childhood of Jesus. Matthew and Mark dwell on the Galilean Ministry: Luke, the Perean: John, the Judean. John omits most of the Galilean Ministry, and records visits to Jerusalem which the others omit. The others omit the Judean Ministry, except the Last Week, which all four give rather fully.
The Last Week occupies one-third of Matthew, about, one-third of Mark, one-quarter of Luke, and one-half of John. John devotes 7 chapters, about one-third of his book, to Crucifixion Day, sunset to sunset.
Matthew has 28 chapters. Mark, 16. Luke, 24. John, 21. Luke has the most pages, and is the longest. Mark is the shortest.
Only Matthew and Luke tell of the Birth and Childhood of Jesus, each narrating different incidents. (See under Luke 1:5-80.)
Mary, for the first three months following her visit by the heavenly messenger, was away at Elisabeth's (Luke 1:36). When she returned to Nazareth, and Joseph learned of her condition, it must have filled him with "strange and agonized perplexity." But he was a good man, and disposed to protect Mary's name from what he supposed would be public disgrace or worse. Then the angel appeared to him,,and-explained. He still had to keep the family secret, to avoid scandal, for nobody would have believed Mary's story. Later, when Jesus' Divine Nature became certified by his' Miracles and his Resurrection from the dead, then .Mary could speak freely of her heavenly secret and the Supernatural Conception'of her child. (For note oh the Virgin Birth see under Luke 1:26-38.)
Very little is told of Joseph. He went with Mary to Bethlehem, and was with her when Jesus was born (Luke 2:4, 16). He was with Mary when Jesus was presented in the Temple (Luke 2:33). He conducted their flight to Egypt, and the return to Nazareth (Matthew 2:13, 19-23), And took Jesus up to Jerusalem at the age of 12
(Luke 2:43, 51). The only further reference to him is that he was a carpenter, and the head of a family of at least seven children (Matthew 13:55, 56). He surely must have been a good and exemplary man, to have been thus chosen of God to be the foster-father of God's Own Son. He may have died before Jesus began his public ministry, though the language of Matthew 13:55 and John 6:42 may imply that he was still alive, At any rate he must have died before Jesus' crucifixion, else why did Jesus commit the care of his mother to John (John 19:26-27)?
Comparative View of the Four Gospels
After the story of the Birth of Jesus, and his visit to Jerusalem at the age of 12, very little is said of Mary. According to Matthew 13:55-56, she was the mother of at least six children besides Jesus. At her suggestion Jesus turned water into wine at Cana, his first miracle (John 2:1-11). Later, she is mentioned as trying to get to him in the crowd (Matthew 12:46; Mark 3:31; Luke 8:19), where Jesus' words plainly indicate that her family relation to him gave her no special spiritual advantage. She was present at the crucifixion, end was committed by Jesus to the care of John (John 19:25-27). There is no record of Jesus appearing to her after his resurrection, though he did appear to Mary Magdalene. The last mention of Mary is in Acts 1:14, as being with the disciples in prayer. This is all the Scripture has to say about Mary. Of the women who figured in
Jesus' public life Mary Magdalene seems to have played a much more prominent part than Jesus' mother (Matthew 27:56, 6l; 28 1; Mark 15:40, 47; 16:9; Luke 8:2; 24:10; John 19:25; 20:1-18, see note under Luke 8:1-3).
Mary was a quiet, meditative, devoted, wise woman, most honored of women, queen of mothers, sharing the cares common to motherhood. We admire her, we honor her, and we love her because she was the mother of our Savior.
Who were the "brothers" and "sisters" of Jesus, mentioned in Matthew 13:55-56 and Mark 6:3? Mary's own children? Or children of Joseph by a former marriage? The plain. simple, natural meaning of these passages is that they were Mary's own children. This is the opinion commonly held among Bible commentators. And it is substantiated by the statement in Luke 2:7 that Mary "brought forth her FIRST-BORN son." Why "first-born," if there were no others?
This must have occurred in the period when Jesus was between 40 days old and 2 years old (Matthew 2:16; Luke 2:22, 39). The 2 years seem to denote the time when the star first appeared (7), to start them on their journey, a journey of many months, and not necessarily to signalize the exact time of the child's birth. But Herod, in order to be sure, took the outside limit. At least, the child was not still in the manger, as is sometimes pictured, but in the "house" (11. See on Luke 2:6-7).
These Wise-Men came from Babylon, or the country beyond, the land where the human race had its origin, the land of Abraham, land of the Jewish Captivity, where many Jews still lived. They belonged to the learned class, advisers of kings. Perhaps they were familiar with the Jewish Scriptures, and knew of the expectation of a coming Messianic King, It was the land of Daniel, and no doubt they knew of Daniel's 70 weeks' prophecy; and also Balaam's prophecy about "A Star out of Jacob" (Numbers 24:17). They were men of high standing, for they had access to Herod. They are commonly spoken of as the "Three Wise-Men." But the Scripture does not say how many. There were probably more, or at least they were with an entourage of scores or hundreds, for it would not be safe for a small group to travel a thousand miles over desert wastes that were infested with bandits. Their arrival in Jerusalem was of sufficient show of importance to stir the whole city.
Aside from symbolizing the homage of wisdom, and of distant lands, to the new-born KING, and of calling to the attention of Jerusalem that He had arrived. one of the objects of their visit, which they themselves knew not, was to supply money for the child's flight to Egypt. The parents were poor, and, except for the gold brought by the Wise-Men, escape from Herod may not have been possible. Return of the Wise-Men may have paved the way, in their own country, for later preaching of the Gospel.
It has been calculated that there was a conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn (6 B.C). But that can scarcely explain how "the star went before them till it came and stood over where the child was." Some think that possibly it was a "nova," that is, a star that explodes and burns brightly for a while. But how could that 6t the case?
The star that the Wise-Men saw was, no doubt, a distinct phenomenon, a Supernatural Light, which by a direct Act of God, went before them, and pointed our the exact spot; a Supernatural Announcement of a Supernatural Birth.
Even this incident did not escape God's unfailing eye in the long line of prophecies anticipatory of the Messiah (15, Hosea 11:1). The angel (13), who directed their flight to Egypt probably was Gabriel, to whom God had entrusted the care of the Infant Child (see under Luke 2:8-20), The stay in Egypt was short, probably only a year or two, for Herod soon died, and it was safe to return. (See Chronology of Jesus' Childhood, under Luke 2:39.)
The place in Egypt at which Joseph and Mary and the child resided is not named. Tradition says it was On, also called Heliopolis; same place from which another Joseph had ruled Egypt long centuries before (Genesis 41:45). An Obelisk, erected in the days of Abraham, still standing, marks the ruins.
Strange that one who believed in the coming of the Christ (4), could have been conceited enough and stupid enough to think that he could thwart His Coming.
The Herods were an Edomite line of kings, who, under Rome, got control of Judea shortly before Christ. Herod the Great (37-3 B.C.), got his throne, and kept it, by crimes of unspeakable brutality, murdering even his wife and two sons. He was cruel, cunning, coldblooded. It was he who slew the children of Bethlehem in an effort to kill Christ.
His son, Herod Antipas, some 33 years later, killed John the Baptist (Mark 6:14-29), and mocked Christ (Luke 23:7-12).
His grandson, Herod Agrippa I, 14 years still later, killed James the Apostle (Acts 12:1-2).
His great grandson, Herod Agrippa II, 16 years still later, was the king before whom Paul was tried (Acts 25:13-26:32).
This, too, was directed by the angel. It seems, from verse 22, that Joseph was planning to return to Bethlehem, to make that, the ancestral city, of David, their permanent residence, as the proper place in which to rear the child Messiah. But God planned differently, and sent them back to their Galilean home.
Jesus had been named long before he appeared, "THE MESSIAH" (Hebrew), or "THE CHRIST" (Greek)' Both words mean the same, "Anointed": the "One Anointed" of God to Redeem and Rule the world, "Jesus" was his personal name. "The Messiah," or "The Christ," his official name.
Matthew makes no mention of Nazareth having been the home of Joseph and Mary. We learn that from Luke. The thing that Matthew specially points out is that it was in Fulfillment of Prophecy.
The Prophecy that Matthew here refers to is thought to be Isaiah 11:1; Jeremiah 23,5; Zechariah 3:8, where the Messiah"is spoken of as the "Branch." The Hebrew form of the word Nazareth means "Branch." So Jesus was a Nazarene in a double sense: He lived at Nazareth, and He was the Branch foretold in Prophecy.
Old Testament Prophecies of Christ Quoted in the Gospels
Since Matthew used Old Testament quotations so abundantly, exhibiting his inclination to dovetail the incidents and incidents features of Christ's Life into Prophetic Forecasts, here is a good place to give a list of Old Testament Prophecies which are quoted in the Four Gospels, particularly Matthew, as referring to Christ. Most of them are quite clear as referring to the Messiah. A few of them we might not so construe, except they are so quoted by the Inspired New Testament writers. For ourselves, we are entirely satisfied with New Testament interpretations of Old Testament passages. They register God's intended meaning in those passages. Hire are the Prophecies.
Told also in Mark 1:1-11 and Luke 3:1-22. (For note on John the Baptist see on Luke 1:1-20). In all three accounts, and in John 1:31-33, the things specifically featured are the descent of the Holy Spirit and the Voice from Heaven. It seems, from John 1:31-33, that John did not know Jesus, but Matthew 3:14 implies that he did know him. Undoubtedly as boys Jesus and John had known each other, for their families were kin (Luke l:16), and their mothers were together for three months just preceding their births (Luke 1:39, 56). And it seems certain that the boys must have been told by their parents of the heavenly announcements concerning their respective missions. But from the time that John withdrew to become a hermit of the desert (Luke 1:80)., he may not again have seen Jesus till the day of his Baptism. Naturally he would not recognize the man whom he had not seen since boyhood days, till God pointed him out. Then, under direct heavenly endorsement, Jesus was publicly anointed as the Son of God, the nation's Messiah and the Saviour of the world.
The Place of Jesus' Baptism
The place chosen of God for the introduction of the Messiah to the nations was the lower Jordan, at, or near, the very spot where the waters divided for Joshua on Israel' entrance into Canaan. Here John the Baptist established himself, and began his work of arousing the nation to expectancy. Soon all eyes were focused on him, wondering if he himself were the Messiah. Then, supported by a demonstration from haven, he pronounced Jesus to be the Messiah. Here soon, in this same region, followed Jesus' Early Ministry. Here, too, was Jesus' Closing Ministry. What memories clustered here! Directly to the east, at the edge of the Jordan Valley, were the towering heights of Nebo, where Moses was given a glimpse of the Promised Land, and where God buried him. There, too, somewhere between the Jordan and Mt. Nebo, the heavenly chariots had carried Elijah away to join Moses in glory. Five miles to the west, was Jericho, whose walls had fallen at the sound of Joshua's trumpet. Just above Jericho, in the mountain fastnesses of the Brook Cherith, the ravens had fed Elijah. A little further up, on top of the mountain ridge, was Bethel, where Abraham had erected an altar to God and where Jacob saw the heavenly ladder of angels ascending and descending, to which Jesus, just after His own temptation in the same vicinity, referred, in his conversation with Nathaniel, as a picture of Himself as the Ladder of Angels. Nearby, southward, on the same mountain ridge, lay Jerusalem, city of Melchizedek and David. To the south, across the Dead Sea, the plain where lay the ruins of Sodom and Gomorrah.
This is told also in Luke 4:1-13, and Mark 1:12-13. The Holy Spirit, Stan and Angles took a hand in the Temptation of Jesus. The Holy Spirit guided him, and Angels helped him, as Satan made attempt after attempt to turn him aside from his mission. The whole universe was interested. The destiny of Creation was at stake.
We wonder why the Temptation of Jesus followed immediately after his Baptism. The descent of the Holy Spirit upon him at that time, possible, involved two things new in Jesus' human experience: the Power to work Miracles without limit; and a full restoration to him of his Pre-incarnation Knowledge.
Back in eternity Jesus knew that he was coming into the world to suffer as the Lamb of God for human sin. But he came by way of the cradle. Are we to suppose that Jesus as a little baby knew all that he knew before he took upon himself the limitations of human flesh? Is it not more natural to think that his preincarnation knowledge gradually came to him as he grew up, along with his human education?
Of course his mother had told him of the circumstances of his birth. He knew he was the Son of God and the Messiah. No doubt he and his mother had often talked over the plans and methods by which he would do his work as the world's Messiah. But when the Holy Spirit came down upon him, at his baptism, "without measure," then there
came to him fully and clearly, for the first rime as a Men, some of the things he had known before he became a Man: among them, the CROSS as the way by which he was to accomplish his-mission. It stunned him; took from him the desire for food; drove him from the haunts of men; and for 40 days he wondered about it.
What was the nature of his temptation? It may have included the ordinary temptations of men in their struggle for bread and their desire for fame and power. But more. Jesus was too great for us to think that such motives could weigh strongly with him. From his antecedents and background we must believe that he had already formed a consuming passion to save the world. He knew that was his mission. The question was, How to do it. By using the miraculous powers which had just been bestowed upon him-powers which no mortal man had ever before known-to give men bread without their having to work, and to overcome the ordinary forces of nature, he
could" have raised himself to the rulership of the world, and by FORCE made men do his will. That was Satan's suggestion. But Jesus' mission was, not to compel obedience, but to Change the Hearts of Men.
Was the devil actually Present? Or was it just an inner struggle? We are not told in what form the devil appeared to Jesus. But unmistakably Jesus recognized the suggestions as coming from Satan, who was there, determined to thwart Jesus' mission. (See note on Satan under Luke 4:1-13.)
The place of Jesus' Temptation is thought to have been in the barren heights oi the mountain region overlooking Jericho, above the brook Cherith where the ravens had fed Elijah, in distant view, possibly, of Golgotha where he was to meet the final test.
Jesus fasted for 40 days (2). Moses had fasted for 40 days in Mt. Sinai, when the Ten Commandments were given (Exodus 34:28). Elijah had fasted for 40 days, on the way to the same mountain (l Kings 19:8). Moses represented the Law. Elijah, the Prophets. Jesus was the Messiah to whom the Law and the Prophets pointed. From
the mountain top where Jesus was fasting looking eastward across the Jordan, he could see the mountain ranges of Nebo where Moses and Elijah. centuries before, had ascended to God.
Some three years later these three men had a rendezvous, amid glories of the Transfiguration, on Mt. Hermon, 100 miles to the north, whose snow-capped summit was in plain view of the Mt. of Temptation: companions in Suffering, then companions in Glory.
After the Temptation Jesus went back to the Jordan where John was baptizing. (See note on John l:19-34.)
Angels Figured Largely in the Life of Jesus
Jesus Said a Good Deal about Angels
Jesus Himself Said These Things. His statements about Angels are so Specific, so Varied, and so Abundant that to explain them on the theory that Jesus was merely accommodating Himself to current beliefs would undermine the validity of any of Jesus' Words as Truth.
Angels in the Book of Acts
Angels in the Old Testament
Angels in the Epistles and Revelation
There are different Orders of Angels, organized into Principalities, Powers, Thrones and Dominions (Romans 8:38; Ephesians 1:21; 3:10; Colossians 1:16; 2:15; I Peter 1:22).
Michael is the name of the Archangel. He was the Patron Angel of Judah (Daniel 10:13, 1; 12:1). He contended with the Devil about the Body of Moses (Jude 9). He struggles with Satan in behalf of the Church (Revelation 12:7). He will be with Christ at Second Coming; his Voice will Raise the Dead (I Thessalonians 4:16). Gabriel is one of the Angel Princes.
Occasionally the word "Angel" seems to refer to the inanimate forces of nature, But generally it unmistakably means Personalities of the Unseen World.
Between verses 11 and 12 about a year elapses, including Jesus' Early Judean Ministry, covering the events of John 1:19 to 4:54 and Luke 4:16-10 (See note under Mark 1:14-15).
To the Galilean Ministry
Matthew devotes one-half his book, 14 chapters (4:12 to 19:1).
Mark devotes one-half his book, 8 chapters (1:14 to 10:1).
Luke devotes less than 6 chapters (4:14 to 9:51).
John almost omits it.
The Galilean Ministry
Comparathte Vieto of the F'our Accounts
Chapter 4:13-17, Residence in Capernaum. This is one of the things foretold of the Messiah. (See under Matthew 2:22-23.)
Chapter 4:18-22, Call of Simon, Andrew, James, John. (See under Mark l:16-20. Also under Matthew 10.)
Chapter 4:23-25. Journeys, Fame, Multitudes, Miracles. (See under Mark l:38-39.)
Duration and Chronology of the Galilean Ministry
The Galilean Ministry started "four months before harvest" (December)
(John 4:35, 43).
It closed just before the Feast of Tabernacles (October), or just before the Feast of Dedication (December) (Luke 9:51; John 7:2; 10:22).
It covered a Passover (John 6:4); and another Passover, if, es is generally thought, the Feast of John 5:1 was a Passover.
Thus starting in December, an extending past the second Passover to the following October or December, it lasted about 2 years; or, only one year,if the Feast of John 5:1 was not a Passover.
Matthew, Mark and Luke, in a general way, seem to follow a chronological order, though not in detail; for they differ as to the order of many of the incidents. As to which of the three is more strictly chronological there is difference of opinion among Bible scholars. Inasmuch as the Gospel writers seem to have been guided by other
considerations in grouping their material, and inasmuch as notices of time and place are so largely ignored, it is not possible to classify in exact chronological arrangement all of the material that is recorded. However, there are some well-marked events and periods in the Galilean Ministry around which others may be grouped.
The 5,000 were fed at Passover rime (John 6:4). John the Baptist was beheaded just before that (Matthew 14:12-11). At the same time the Twelve returned from their preaching tour (Luke 9:10).
All three,writers place the Transfiguration shortly before the Final Departure from Galilee.
The Final Departure from Galilee was either just before the Feast of Tabernacles (October) or the Feast of Dedication (December) (Luke 9:51; John 7:1-10; 10:22): most likely the latter; for the earlier was in secret (John-7:10); the latter in publicity (Luke 10:1).
This makes a period of five or eight months between the Feeding of the 5,000 and'the Transfiguration] part of which time Jesus spent in regions north of Galilee, of which not much is told.
The main part of the story of the Galilean Ministry is concerned with the sixteen months preceding the Feeding of the 5,000, a period of intense activity and great popularity.
The following table gives a general outline view of the Galilean Ministry, the chronological place of some of the incidents being only conjectural.
The Galilean Ministry
Tentative Chronological Arrangement
Matthew places the Sermon on the Mount in the forefront of his story of the Galilean Ministry, although it seems to have come some months later at the time of Choosing the Twelve (Luke 6:12-20), if indeed Luke is reporting the same sermon. It must have been that Matthew regarded the Sermon on the Mount as an epitome of Jesus' Teaching, of which His whole ministry was an illustration.
Containing, as it does, the very Heart of Jesus Teaching, we may think of the Sermon on the Mount as being to the New Testament what the Ten Commandments were to the Old Testament. Every Christian ought to Memorize the Sermon on the Mount, and strive earnestly to Live according to its Teachings.
The Mountain on which" this Sermon was delivered is not named. Tradition says it was Horns of Hattin.
(For note on comparison with Luke's record, see on Luke 6:20-49.)
Blessed, Happy, are the Discouraged, the Sorrowful, the Lowly, the Spiritually-Depressed, the Merciful, the Pure in Heart, the Peaceful, and the Persecuted. In part, the exact opposite of the world's standards. But the Blessing is nor in the Unfortunate Condition in itself, but in the Glorious Rewards to come. Heaven, to Jesus, who knew, was so Infinitely Superior to Earthly Life, that He regarded anything that increased the Longing for Heaven a Blessing.
That is, Preserver and Guide. Jesus Himself is the Light of the World (John 8:12). His followers reflect His Light and Glory. The grandest motive that a person can have is that, by his, or her, Manner of Life, others may be constrained to Glorify God.
He came not to Destroy the Law, but to Fulfill it. There is no contradiction here between Jesus' Teaching and the Teaching of Romans, Galatians and Hebrews, that we are Saved by Faith in Christ rather than by Works of the Law. Jesus' meaning is that God's Moral Law is the expression of God's Own Holiness, and is of Eternal Obligation on God's People. And that, in reality, He came to give the Law's former declaration a deeper meaning, and to enforce it, not merely in Outward Acts, but in the inner depths of the Human Heart. He then proceeds to illustrate in five particulars: Murder, Adultery, Swearing, Revenge and Hatred of Enemy.
Murder (5:21-26). The law against Murder was one of the Ten Commandments (Exodus 20:13). Jesus forbids our cherishing in the Heart the Anger that leads to the Act.
Adultery (5:27-32). The law against Adultery also was one of the Ten Commandments (Exodus 20:14). Jesus forbids our cherishing the Lust that leads to the Act. Notice that in connection with both Anger and Lust Jesus warns of Hell Fire (22, 29,30). He not only warns us to watch our Inner Feelings, but goes much further than Moses in restricting Divorce (32) .
Swearing (5:33-37). This probably applies to Judicial Oaths, and Common Blasphemy, and even the Light-Hearted use of God's Name in ordinary conversation.
Revenge (5:38-42). The Eye for Eye legislation was part of the Civil Law, administered by Judges (Exodus 21:22-25). Jesus is not here legislating for Courts of Justice. Civil Government is ordained of God (Romans 13:1-7), to save human society from its Criminal Elements. The sterner the Courts deal out Justice, the better for society. But Jesus is here teaching principles by which Individuals as Individuals
should deal with other Individuals. (See on Luke 6:27-38.)
Hatred of Enemies (5:43-48), was not enjoined in the Old Testament. It may have been implied in some Old Testament dealings with Israel's enemies. However that may be, Jesus Forbids it. (See on Luke 6:27-38.)
Secret Motives of Life (6:l-18. See on Luke 12:1-12). Here illustrated in three particulars: Alms, Prayer, Fasting.
Alms (6:2-4), as unto God: Not to make a Show. (See on Matthew 23.)
Prayer (6:5-18). (See on Luke 11 and 18.)
Fasting (6:16-18). (See on Mark 2:18-22.)
Treasures in Heaven (6:19-34). (See on Luke 12:11-34.)
Judge Not Your Brother (7:1-5). (See on Luke 6:39-45.)
Pearls before Swine (7:6), This means we should use Common Sense and Tact in talking about our religion. Else we may do our cause more harm than good.
Persistent Prayer. (7:7-11), (See on Luke 18:1-8.)
The Golden Rule (7:12). (See on Luke 6:27-38.)
The Narrow Way (7:13-14). Many Lost. Few Saved: Few, in comparison to the number of the Lost: but still, in the end, a Great Multitude which no man can number (Revelation 7:9)
False Teachers (7:15-23). Jesus warned, and prophesied, of False Teachers (Matthew 24:11, 24). So did New Testament writers, again and again. The Most Devastating Obstacle to the Progress of Christianity among men has been its Ruthless Corruption at the hands of its own promoters-besmirched almost beyond recognition.
Building on the Rock (7:24-27). A very plain statement that it is useless to call ourselves Christians unless we Practice the things that Jesus taught in this Sermon on the Mount.
Told also, more briefly, in Mark 6:7-13 and Luke 9:1-6. It must have been shortly before Passover, for they returned at Passover time, just before the feeding of the 5,000 (Luke 9:10-17, John 6:4).
These instructions of Jesus to the Twelve contain some wonderful advice for Christians: to be wise as serpents and harmless as doves; to expect hardship; to trust in God's unfailing care of His own; and to keep our eyes fixed on the eternal goal.
Some of Jesus' instructions were of only temporary application; for instance, to take no money. With the power to heal there would be no difficulty about their lodging and meals being supplied. But afterward they were told to take money (Luke 22:35-38).
The Call of the Twelve
Jesus took about a year and a half to complete his choice. Then they were with him about two years.
A.D. 26, November? John, Andrew, Simon, Philip, Nathanael believed on him at John's baptizing (John 1:35-51); accompanied him to Cana; then went back to their occupations till e later call.
A.D. 28, January? After he had finished his Early Judean Ministry, and as he began his Galilean Ministry, he called Simon, Andrew, James and John to leave their fishing business, and definitely associate themselves with him (Mark 1:16-20).
Shortly thereafter Matthew was asked to join the group (Matthew 9:9).
The Training of the Twelve
The choosing and training of the men to whom he was to entrust his work was an extremely important part of Jesus' earthly mission. Jesus' primary purpose in coming into the world was to die as the Lamb of God in expiation for human sin and to rise from the dead to bring eternal life to mankind, But his Life, Death and Resurrection
would be useless to the world unless the world knows about it. If the men to whom he entrusted his work should fail him, then his coming to earth would have been in vain.
The first sending out of the Twelve was a part of their training, intended possibly to give them practice work, and was a part of Jesus' method of advertising to the nation that the Messiah had arrived. There were no newspapers. The only means of spreading the news was by word of mouth. Later the Seventy were sent out for the same purpose. These men authenticated their message by special miracles, not only to attract attention, but to indicate to the nation the extraordinary nature of the ONE whom they proclaimed.
Their training was not an easy task, for they were being trained for a work utterly different from what they thought they were being trained for. They began to follow him as politicians, with no thought whatever of becoming preachers, as they turned out to be. They were expecting, that, as the Messiah, he would establish a political world
empire, of which they would be the administrators. (See further, under Matthew 13.)
His method of changing their minds about the work that he and they were to do was, first, to present himself to them in all the fulness of his divine glory, so that, no matter how differently he talked and acted from the way they expected the Messiah to talk and act, they would still believe that he was the one. That is one of the reasons he wrought miracles, and that he was transfigured.
Then, along with that, he spoke in parables, veiled saying;s, to give them the impression that he did not always mean exactly what he appeared to mean. Kept them for a while in a state of wonderment. If he had told them plainly at the start, they might not have been interested in following him at all.
When at last he told them that he was going to be crucified, instead of erecting a throne, it stunned them. But they still persisted in thinking it was only a parable. Even at the Last Supper, their minds were still on which one of them was to have the greatest office.
Not till after his Resurrection and the descent of the Holy Spirit did they at last come to understand that it was to be a kingdom in which Jesus would reign in the Hearts of men, and that their part would be simply TELLING THE STORY OF JESUS. That is all. The Story would do its own work. If men know about Jesus they will love him.
This was while John was in prison. Jesus was at the height of his popularity. John evidently was looking for a political Messiah (see on Luke 3:1-20), and could not understand why Jesus was not taking proper action toward that end.
Jesus' answer indicated that he considered his miracles as sufficient evidence of his Messiahship.
Notice that John's doubt did not lower him in Jesus' estimation. There had not arisen a greater, said Jesus.
Yet the lowliest in Christ's kingdom are greater than John, that is, in point of privilege. What a comment on the privilege of being a Christian!
"Suffers violence" (12), that is, the followers both of John and Jesus were making every effort to force Jesus into the leadership of a political movement of military and worldly nature.
Jesus, in contrasting his own manner of life with that of John, said that both were from God and had their place in God's effort to appeal to that generation.
Three cities, at the north end of the Sea of Galilee, are named as the principal scene of Jesus'miracles. Capernaum, Bethsaida, Chorazin. Most favored of ell cities on earth. Jesus' pronouncement of their doom shows that Jesus regarded his miracles as having evidential value that it was dangerous to ignore.
Dearest, sweetest words ever heard by mortal ears. Jesus seemed glad that it was the simple-minded common people who received him. Paul said the same thing (I Corinthians 1:26).It seems hard for intellectuals, in their mental pride, to humble themselves enough to acknowledge their need of a Saviour.
Chapter 12:1-8. Eating on the Sabbath. (See on Mark 2:23-27.)
Chapter 12:9-14. Healing on the Sabbath. (See on Mark 3:1-6.)
In Mark 3:7-12 it is stated that the multitudes, besides those from Galilee, had assembled from Judea, Jerusalem, Idumea, beyond the Jordan, and the region of Tyre and Sidon. Thus, for a hundred miles around, north, south and east, in days when travel was by foot, great throngs, hearing of his miracles, came, bringing their sick, and he healed them all (15).
Told also in Luke 11:14-15. A great miracle, for the people, though they had become accustomed to miracles, were "amazed." "Son of David" (23), was the commonly accepted title of the expected Messiah (Matthew 1:1; 9:27 ; 15:22; 20:30; 21:9; 22:42; John 7:42).
This is told also in Mark 3:22-30; Luke 11:14-26; 12:8-10. Note that the Pharisees, as heartily es they hated Jesus, did not deny his miracles, which were too numerous and too well-known to deny. Though the miracles were entirely benevolent in their nature, yet so hardened end hypocritical were the Pharisees that they attributed them to Satanic origin. Such vile and devilish accusations were evidence of a nature almost beyond redemption. This may be the import of Jesus' words, a condition of heart to which they were perilously near. In Luke 12:10 the unpardonable sin is connected with
the denial of Christ. Jesus seems to make a distinction between sin against himself, and sin against the Holy Spirit (32). Quite commonly the Unpardonable Sin is understood thus: rejecting Christ, while as yet he was in the flesh, his work unfinished, when even his disciples did not understand him, was forgivable. But after his work was completed,
and the Holy Spirit was come, then, in full knowledge, deliberate final rejection of the Holy Spirit's offer of Christ would constitute the "eternal sin which hath never forgiveness." Similar sin is spoken of in Hebrews 6:6;10:26 and I John 5:16. (See notes on those passages.)
"Idle Words" (36), are here mentioned in connection with the unpardonable sin. Our words show our character (34). Our every word, es well as every secret act, is being recorded for reproduction in the Day of Judgment.
Told also in Luke 11:29-32, It was brazen impudence to ask Jesus for a sign just after they had been accusing him of working signs by the aid of Beelzebub. Jesus promised them a sign even more astounding, which he called "the'sign of Jonah"-his
own resurrection from the dead, the GRAND SIGN OF ALL THE AGES. The habits of demons (43-45, see on Mark 5:1-20).
Told also in Mark 3:31-35; Luke 8:19-21. Jesus'reply teaches that spiritual ties are stronger than fleshly ties, and implies that his mother was no closer to him than any who do the will of God.
A Parable is a sort of "extended metaphor"; a comparison; illustrating spiritual things by ordinary. Roughly speaking, parables are stories to illustrate certain truths.
Jesus used parables, in part, as dark sayings, with apparent double meanings, "to conceal for a time what he hid to reveal." The Kingdom that Jesus intended to establish was so utterly different from what was commonly expected of the Messiah that it was necessary for him to be very tactful. So he used these stories, to illustrate the "origin, development, mixed character and consummation" of the Kingdom, which to us seem very plain, but were enigmas to his immediate hearers.
In interpreting the parables, the problem is to know which details are significant, and which are incidents necessary to the story. Ordinarily a parable was meant to show ONE point, and should not be pressed for lessons in every detail.
The number of parables is variously given from 27 to 50. What some call parables others call metaphors. Ordinarily the number of parables is reckoned as about 30. Some of them ire quite similar. Jesus used different stories to illustrate the same point, and sometimes the same story to illustrate different points.
Told also in Mark 4:1-25; Luke 8:4-16. The seed is God's Word (Luke 8:11). Souls are born of God's Word (I Peter 1:23). This parable is a prophecy of the Gospel's reception. Some will not even listen. Some will accept it, but soon fall away. Some will hold on longer, but gradually lose interest. And some will hold on, in varying degrees, to final fruition.
Two illustrations, with slightly different shades of emphasis, that, though the earth shall be leavened by the Gospel, yet the bad shall persist along with the good till the end of the world, when there will be a final separation, the.wicked going to their unhappy destiny, and the righteous into the kingdom of eternal glory. Jesus had no
illusions about this world becoming a Utopia. He knew full well that to the end his Gospel would be rejected by a large part of the world. He recognized only two classes, the saved and the lost. Again and again he spoke of the miseries of the lost, their "weeping and gnashing of teeth." He surely knew what he was talking about.
Told also in Mark 4:30-32; Luke 13:18-20. Two similar parables, illustrating the small beginning of Christ's kingdom, its gradual and imperceptible growth, both in the individual and in the world at large, ultimately reaching vast proportions, leavening all institutions, philosophies and governments.
A double illustration of the same thing: the priceless value of Christ to the human soul. What Christ offers is worth giving up everything, even life itself, to obtain.
Notice how frequently the word "Kingdom" occurs in Matthew:
3:2; 4:17, 23; 5 :3, 10, 19, 20; 6:10, 33; 7 :21; 8:11; 9:35; 10:7; 11:11, 12; 12:28; 13:11, 24, 31, 33, 43, 44, 45, 47, 52; 16:19, 28; 18:23; 19:12, 14, 23, 24; 20:1; 21:31, 43; 22:2; 23:13; 24:14; 25 :1, 34; 26:29.
A political Kingdom, in which the Jewish nation, under their Messiah, would rule the world, is what they were expecting. Herod shared that notion, end tried to destroy Jesus in childhood, because he thought the Christ's kingdom would be a rival political kingdom to his own. John the Baptist shared that notion, and when Jesus gave no indication of being that kind of king John began to doubt whether after all Jesus was the Messiah (Matthew 11:3). The Twelve Apostles shared the notion till after the resurrection. The last question they asked Jesus was, "Lord, will you now restore the kingdom to Israel?" (Acts 1:6). Their minds were on political independence for their
country, rather than personal eternal salvation.
What was the Kingdom that Jesus came to found? Not a political kingdom, but to REIGN IN THE HEARTS OF MEN, and through their hearts control and transform their lives. The human heart is the realm in which Jesus came to reign. To make all mankind LOVE HIM. And why Love Him? To Change us over into His Own Image, Out of an Affection for Him, a Devotion to Him, and Adoration of Him, will grow all the beauty and comfort of life, the transformation of character, the regeneration of the soul.
The Word "Kingdom," es used in the New Testament, is pliable. Sometimes it seems to mean the reign of God in the individual. Sometimes, the general reign of righteousness among men. Sometimes, the church. Sometimes, Christendom. Sometimes, the millennial reign. Sometimes, heaven. The basic idea of the word implies Jesus' dominion in the hearts of his people through all dispensations, onward into eternity, with special reference, at times, to one or another of its various aspects or stages.
Chapter 13:54-58, Visit to Nazareth. (See on Mark 6:1-6.)
Chapter 14:1-12, John Beheaded. (See on Luke 3:1-20.)
Chapter 14:13-21. The 5,000 Fed. (See on John 6:1-15.)
Chapter 14:22-31, Jesus Walks on Water. (See on John 6:16-21.)
Period from Feeding 5,000 to Transfiguration
Chapters 14:34 to 16:12. (See on Mark 6:53.)
Chapter 74:34-36. Multitudes in Gennesaret. (See on Mark 6:53.)
Chapter 15:1-20. Pharisees and Defilement. (See on Mark 7:1-23.)
Chapter 15:21-28. The Canaanite Woman. (See on Mark7:24-30.)
Chapter 15:29-39. The 4,000 Fed. (See on Mark 8:1-9.)
Chapter 16:1-12, Leaven of Pharisees. (See on Mark 8:10-21.)
This is told also in Mark 8:27-29 and Luke 9:18-20. It had been some three years since Peter had first accepted Jesus es the Messiah (John 1:41, 42). Called him "Lord," e year later (Luke 5:8.) Half a year later he called him "The Holy One of God" (John 6:68,69). Now after two and a half years of association with Jesus he expresses his conviction in the Deity of Jesus.
The "Rock" (18), on which Christ would build his Church, is not Peter, but the Truth to which Peter confessed, that Jesus is the Son of God. The Deity of Jesus is the foundation on which the Church rests, the fundamental creed of Christendom. This is the unmistakable meaning of the language.
ARCHAEOLOGICAL NOTE (EMB)
Verse 18 is the theme of a famous controversy. Perhaps the imagery is derived from the rocky terrain of the lofty view of Mount Hermon above. The Greek text runs literally, "Thou art Petros and upon this 'petra' I will build my church." The word "petros" means a small stone. In Liddell and Scott's Greek lexicon the word is quoted
as applied to sling-stones and boundary-stones among other contexts. Even boundary stones are not too big for one man to lift and move. On the other hand the lexicon quotes "petra" as applied to Mt. Olympus and the Caucasus. Remember, further, that both Greek and Latin often use "and" for "but" (e.g. "Be angry and sin not") and the meaning of the passage is clear. The Lord says, "You are Peter, and any man can move you, but the faith you have expressed in My deity is a rock immovable as the mountains. On it I will build My church."
"The Keys of the Kingdom", 19
The ordinary interpretation of this is that Peter opened the door of salvation, on the day of Pentecost, to the Jews (Acts 2), and later to the Gentiles (Acts 10). Not that he was given the power to Forgive Sins, but to proclaim the terms of forgiveness. Whatever authority it gave to Peter was also given to the other Apostles (Matthew
18:18; John 20:23). And that, only in a Declarative sense. Christ forgives. His apostles were inspired by the Holy Spirit to proclaim the terms of that forgiveness.
Chapter 16:21-28. Passion Foretold. (See on Mark 9:30-32.)
Chapter 17:1-13. Jesus is Transfigured. (See on Mark 9:2-13.)
Chapter 17:14-20. T'he Epileptic Boy. (See on Mark 9:14-29.)
Chapter 17:22-23. Passion again Foretold. (See on Mark 9:30-32.)
Chapter 17:24-27. The Tax Money. This w-as a sort of poll tax for the sanctuary, required of every male over 20 (Exodus 30:11-15). It was equivalent to about 16 cents. Jesus, as Lord of the Sanctuary, was exempt. Yet, lest his attitude toward the Temple be misunderstood, he paid it.
Chapter 18:1-6. "Who is Greatest?" (See on Luke 9:,46-48.)
Chapter 18:7-14. "Occasions of Stumbling." (See Mark 9:41-50.)
Chapter 18:15-35. Forgiveness. A talent (24), was about $1000. A pence, or shilling (28), was about 17 cents. The man was forgiven $10,000,000, but was unwilling to forgive $17.00. That is Jesus' comparison of our own sins against God to those sinned against us. Notice Jesus' statement that there is no hope of forgiveness unless we
The Perean Ministry
Chapters 19 and 20. (See Luke 9:51.)
Chapter 19:1-2. Departure from Galilee. (See on Luke 9:51.)
Chapter 19:3-12. Question about Divorce. Jesus' teaching about divorce is recorded here and in Matthew 5:31; Mark 10:2-12; Luke 16:18; and Paul discusses the subject in I Corinthians 7. One man and one woman married for life is God's will for the human
race. Christ seems to allow only one cause for divorce (9).
Chapter 19:13-15. Little Children. (See on Luke 18:15-17.)
Chapter 19:l6-30. Rich Young Ruler. (See on Luke 18:18-30.)
Chapter 20:1-16. Parable of Laborers in the Vineyard. This does not mean that all will be treated alike in heaven, or that there will be no rewards. The parable of the Talents (Matthew 25:14-30), seems to teach that there will be rewards. And Paul taught it (l Corinthians 3:14-15). Jesus here meant to teach just one thing: that some who think they are first in this world are going to find themselves last in heaven. He said that a number of times (Matthew 19:30; 20:16; Mark 10:31; Luke 13:30). Heavenly standards and earthly standards are so utterly different that many of earth's humblest Christians, slaves and servants, will have the highest places in heaven; and
many of the great church dignitaries, if there at all, will be under those who were here their servants. (See further under Luke 16:19-31.)
Chapter 20:17-19. Passion again Foretold. (See on Mark 9:30-32.)
Chapter 20:20-28. Request of James and John. The pathos of this is that it was their reaction to Jesus' announcement that he was on his way to the cross. (See on Luke 9:46-48.)
Chapter 20:29-34. Blind man at Jericho. (See on Luke 18:35-43.)
Jesus' Lost Week
Chapters 21 to 28.
Told also in Mark 11:1-10; Luke 19:29-38; John 12:12-19. It was on the Sunday before his death. Jesus had come as the long-foretold Messiah. For three years he had proclaimed himself to the nation by unceasing journeys and miracles, and the journeys and miracles of the Twelve, end of the Seventy. He knew that his death had been
determined upon by the rulers. He was ready for it. In a grand public demonstration, as final notice to the Holy City, he entered amid the hallelujahs and hosannas of the expectant multitudes. The people were jubilant. They thought the hour of deliverance was at hand. Jesus rode on a colt, because it was foretold (Zechariah 9:9), that Messiah would come that way.
Told also in Mark 11:15-18; Luke 19:45-47. This was Monday. He had done the same thing three years before at the opening of his public,ministry (see note on John 2:13-22). The enormous profits from the marker booths inside the Temple area, went to enrich the family of the high priest. Jesus burned with indignation at such perversion of the uses of God,s House. (See further under John 2:11-22.)
Told also in Mark 11:12-14; 20-24. This was Monday morning, as he went from Bethany into Jerusalem, along the road over Mount of Oliver The disciples noticed it next morning, as they came into the city. Evidently they had gone our to Bethany Monday evening along the road around the south foot of the Mount.
Told also in Mark 11:27-33; Luke 20: 1-8. The rulers were bitter, and they made every conceivable effort to trap Jesus. But he was a master dialectician, and parried every question to their own discomfiture.
This parable is aimed directly at religious leaders; chief priests, elders, scribes and Pharisees. They rejected Jesus. But the common people accepted Him joyfully.
Told also in Mark 12:1-12; Luke 20:9-19. parable of Two Sons, just preceding, had been aimed primarily at the leaders of the Jewish nation. This parable is aimed at the Nation itself.
Another illustration of the same thing: that God,s Elect nation, for its shameful treatment of God's messengers, was now to be cast off, and other nations called in. Also, it is a sort of double parable: having a warning for the newcomers, that they be careful, lest they meet the same fate.
Chapter 22:15-22. Tribute to Caesar. (See on Mark 12:13-17.)
Chapter 22:23-33. The Resurrection. (See on Mark 12:18-27.)
Chapter 22:34-40. The Great Commandment. (See on Mark 12:28-34.)
Chapter 22:41-46. "The Son of David." (See on Mark 12:35-37.)
Pharisees were the most numerous and influential of the religious sects of Jesus' day. They were strict legalistic. They stood for the rigid observance of the letter and forms of the Law, and also for the Traditions. There were some good men among them. But in the main they were known for their covetousness, self-righteousness and hypocrisy.
Scribes were copyists of the Scriptures. Because of their minute acquaintance with the Law they became recognized authorities. They were sometimes called "lawyers." Scribes and Pharisees were the religious leaders of the nation.
These words of Jesus, constitute the most bitter denunciation that ever fell from his lips. Jesus never talked that way to sinners, publicans and the comm6n people. Jesus himself was the most genuinely religious man that ever lived. But how his soul loathed religious pretense!
Those fellows did not all die in that generation. Through all the centuries the Church has been cursed with leaders exactly described in the 23rd chapter of Matthew, irreligious professional religionists, parading themselves in holy garments, pompous fellows, self-important, strutting around like lords, preaching religion, yet having none.
Farewell to the Temple
On Monday Jesus had cleansed the Temple. Tuesday, after final warnings that the Kingdom of God would now be taken from the Jews and given to other nations, he left the Temple, nevermore to enter, abandoning it to its ruin. His departure from the Temple ended his public ministry, to await in quiet his death three days later.
Great Discourse on the End
Chapters 24, 25 . (Told also in Mark 13 and Luke 21.)
This discourse was delivered after Jesus had left the Temple for the last time. It was about the Destruction of Jerusalem, his Coming, and the End of the World. Some of his words are so mixed up that it is difficult to know to which event they refer. Perhaps it was intentional. It seems plain that he had in mind two distinct events, separated by an interval of time; indicated by "these" in 24:34, and "that day" in 24:36. Some would explain "this generation" (Matthew 24:34), to mean this nation, that is, the Jewish race shall nor pass away till the Lord comes. The more common view is that he meant Jerusalem would be destroyed within the lifetime of those then living. To one looking at two distant mountain peaks, one behind the other, they seem close together, though they may be far apart. So in Jesus' perspective, these two events, one in some respects typical of the other, stood in close proximity, though there is a long interval between.
What he said in a sentence may be of an age. What happened in one case may be a "begun fulfillment" of what will happen in the other.
His words concerning Jerusalem were fulfilled literally, within 40 years. The magnificent buildings of marble and gold, were so completely demolished, by the Roman army, (e.n. 70) that Josephus said it looked like e site that had never been inhabited. (See further under Hebrews 13.)
His Second Coming
By far the larger part of this great discourse is devoted to the subject of Jesus' Coming Again. With his death only three days away, and knowing that his disciples would be stunned almost out of their faith he takes a good deal of pains to explain that they would yet realize their hopes in a far grander way than they had yet ever dreamed.
Jesus' thoughts dwelt a great deal on his Second Advent:
His Coming will be heralded with "a greet sound of a trumpet" (Matthew 24:31), as of old the nation was gathered together (Exodus 19:13, 16, 19). The fact that Paul repeated this expression, "the trumpet shall sound," in connection with the resurrection (I Corinthians 15:52), and in I Thessalonians 4:16 says, "The Lord himself
shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God," indicates that it may be more than a mere figure of speech. An actual, sudden, grand historical event, in which He assembles to himself his own from among
the living and the dead, on a vast and mighty scale.
Neither his coming to Jerusalem in judgment (A.D. 70); nor the coming of the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost; nor our going to him in death; none of these can exhaust the meaning of Jesus' words as to his Coming again.
It is best not to be too dogmatic as to certain concomitant events connected with his Coming. But if language is a vehicle of thought at all, certainly it takes a good deal of explaining and interpreting to make anything else out of Jesus'words than that he himself looked forward to his Coming Again as a definite historical event in which He Himself personally anal literally will appear to gather to Himself and to Eternal Glory those who have been redeemed by his blood.
And it is best not to cloud the hope of his Coming with too detailed a theory as to what is going to happen when he Comes. Some people, we suspect, will be disappointed if Jesus does not follow the schedule they have mapped out for him.
It is related that Queen Victoria, deeply touched by a sermon of F. W. Farrar on the Lord's Second Coming, said to him: "Dean Farrar, I should like to be living when Jesus comes, so that I could lay the crown of England at his feet."
Chapter 24:45-51. Faithful and Wise Servants. From here on Jesus' Discourse is an exhortation to Watchfulness. His Second Advent was uppermost in his thoughts. So it should be in ours.
Chapter 25:1-13. Parable of the Ten Virgins, This parable means just one thing: that we should keep our minds on the Lord, and be ready when he Comes.
Chapter 25:14-3o. Parable of the Talents. This means that we are in training for a larger service in an order yet to be, and that our place and" standing there will depend on the faithfulness of our stewardship here.
Chapter 25:31-46. Final Judgment Scene. One of the most magnificent passages in the Bible, a picture of how Common Kindness will affect our standing in the Eternal World.
Chapter 26:1-5. Plot to Kill Jesus. (See on Mark 14:1-2.)
Chapter 26:6-13. Anointing at Bethany. (See on Mark 14:3-9.)
Chapter 26:14-16. Bargain of Judas. (See on Mark 14:10-11.)
Told also in Mark 14:12-25; Luke 22:7-38; John 13 and 14. This was the night before his death. There were two suppers: Passover Supper and Lord's Supper. Lord's Supper was instituted at close of Passover Supper. Luke mentions two cups (22:17-20). Matthew, Mark and Luke mention both suppers. John mentions only Passover.
For 14 centuries the Passover had been pointing forward to the coming of the Paschal Lamb. Jesus ate the Passover, substituted in its place His Own Supper, and then was himself slain as the Paschal Lamb. Jesus expired on the cross in the same day in which paschal lambs were being slain in the Temple.
The Passover had served its purpose, and had now given place to the New Memorial Supper which was to be kept in loving remembrance of Jesus till He Comes again (I Corinthians 11:26).
As the Passover pointed back to deliverance out of Egypt, and forward to His Coming; so the new Memorial points back to his death, and forward to His Coming in Glory.
The order of incidents at the Supper is somewhat confusing. Matthew and Mark seem to place the Lord's Supper after Judas had gone out. Luke seems to say that Judas was there. John gives the contention first. Luke gives it after the supper. The writers evidently were guided by other considerations than the order in which the incidents occurred. Here is the probable order:
l. Their contention. Jesus washes their feet.
2. Jesus announces the betrayal, All answer, "Is it I?"
3. Sop given to Judas. He says, "ls it I?" and goes out.
4. The Lord's Supper instituted.
5. The "new commandment," and tender words of John 14.
In 1910 there was found, in the ruins of a cathedral on the sire of Antioch, a cup, containing an inner cup, that is thought by able scholars possibly to have been the actual cup that Jesus used on that holy night. The inner cup is a plain silver cup. The outer cup, of silver, is exquisitely -carved with twelve figures, representing Christ
and the Apostles. The outer cup was evidently made to hold the inner, as a sacred, precious object older than itself. The art and workmanship is considered to be of the first century. The Last Supper is thought probably to have been in the home of Mark's
mother. Mark frequently visited Antioch.
After fall of Jerusalem, Antioch became chief center of Christianity. What more natural than that this object, precious beyond measure to Christians, would be kept in a church in Antioch, where. when the church was destroyed, it was buried in the ruins,
till recently, found. It is owned by Mr. Fahim Kouchakii, New York, through whose courtesy a photo is here shown.
Chapter 26:3046. Agony in Gethsemane. (See on Luke 22:39-46.)
Chapter26:47-56. Betrayal and Arrest. (See on John 18:1-12.)
Chapter 26:57-68. Before the High Priest. (See on Mark 14:53.)
Chapter26:69-75. Peter's Denial. (See on John 18:15-27.)
Chapter 27:1-2. Officially Condemned. (See on Mark 14:51.)
Chapter 27:3-10. Suicide of Judas. (See on Mark 14:10-11.)
For note on the Successive Steps in the Trial of Jesus see under Mark 14:53ff.
Pilate was Roman governor of Judea, 26-37 A.D. He assumed office about the time that Jesus began his public ministry. His official residence was at Caesarea. He came to Jerusalem at time of Feasts to keep order. He was merciless, cruel, noted for his habitual brutality. Like the Roman emperors of his day, he rather enjoyed the spectacle of the torture and death of e man. At one time he had mingled the blood of Galileans with their sacrifices, Luke 13:1.
One of the strangest pictures in history is the impression that Jesus made on this hard-hearted Roman governor. Whether Jesus was erect and handsome, as one tradition has it, or stoop-shouldered and ugly, as another tradition has it, there must have been something about his countenance and bearing so divine, so commanding, that although he was dressed in the robes of mock royalty, with the crown of thorns on his head, and the blood streaming down his face, Pilate could not keep his eyes off him.
Pilate's effort to get our"of crucifying Jesus is a pitiful story. He did not want to do it. He appealed from the Jewish rulers to Herod. Then from Herod back to the rulers. Then from the rulers to the multitudes. Then when the multitudes turned against Jesus, Pilate tried to appeal to their pity, by having Jesus scourged, in hope that they would be satisfied with partial punishment, and not require him to go all the way to crucifixion. Failing in that, he did not finally make up his mind to crucify Jesus till the Jews threatened to report him to Caesar. Not till it began to look as if it might cost him his position as Governor of Judea did he at last give his consent to the death of Jesus.
Pilate is said to have committed suicide.
Pilate's wife, Procula, tradition says, became a Christian.
"His blood be on us, and on our children," 25. How fearfully this has been fulfilled!
Scourging usually preceded capital punishment. In this case Pilate seems to have hope that the multitudes would consider it to be sufficient punishment. Scourging was done with a whip which was made of a number of leather thongs weighted with pieces of lead or sharp metal. The victim was stripped to the waist, then bound, in a bent-over position, to a post, and beaten on the bare back with the scourge till the flesh was all torn open. Sometimes death resulted.
The Jews, in their trial, had mocked him (Luke 22:6345). Herod and his soldiers had mocked him (Luke 23:11). Now Pilate's soldiers mock him. And, a little later, on the cross, priests, elders and scribes mock him (27:29-43), To their brutal minds it was great sport to see one who claimed to be the Son of God having to submit to such
humiliation and torture.
In John 19:17 it is said that Jesus went out bearing his own cross. Exhausted by his night of agony, and the scourging, he had not gone far, till he became too weak to carry it further. Then Simon was pressed into service. Little is known'of Simon. But how proud, in heaven, throughout all eternity will Simon be, to think he helped Jesus to bear his cross!
Chapter 27:33-56, Jesus is Crucified. (See also on Mark 15:21-41; Luke 23:32-43 and John 19:17-30.)
For three hours (45), inanimate nature hid her face in shame at the unspeakable wickedness of men. God may have meant the darkness to be creation's symbolic mourning for Jesus while he was suffering the expiatory pains of the lost.
The earthquake, the rocks rent, and the tombs opened (51-55), were God's salute to the Conquering Saviour. The rending of the veil in the temple (51.), was God's own proclamation that In the death of Christ the barrier between God and man disappeared (Hebrews 9:8). The risen saints (52-53), were God's evidence and guaranty that the power of death had been broken. Note that even the centurion, officer of the Roman soldiers who crucified Jesus, was convinced that Jesus was indeed the Son of God (54).
Chapter 27:57-61. Burial. (See on John 19:38-42.)
Chapter 27:62-66. The Tomb Sealed. (See on Matthew 28:11-15.)
The "Third Day"
The Third Day" (64), is here used as being identical with "after three days" (63). In Hebrew usage parts of days at the beginning and end of a period were counted as days (Esther 4:16; 5: 1). "Three days and three nights" (Matthew 12:,40) (a long way of saying "three days," I Samuel 30:12-13); "after three days" (Mark 8:31; 10:34; John 2:19); and "the third day" (Matthew 16:21; 17:23; 20:19; Luke 9:22; 24:7, 21, 46) are interchangeable phrases for the period Jesus was in the tomb, Friday afternoon till Sunday morning.
This is told in all four Gospels (Mark 16:1-8; Luke 24:1-11; John 20:1-3). Mary Magdalene is named in all four. Mary, mother of James and Joses, called also "the other Mary" (Matthew, Mark, Luke). Salome, mother of James and John (Mark). Joanna, wife of Herod's steward (Luke). And "other women" (Luke). In all, half a
dozen, or possibly a dozen or more. They had spices to complete the embalming of his body for permanent burial, with no thought whatever that he would be risen.
"As it began to dawn" (Matthew). "Very early," "when the sun was risen" (Mark). "At early dawn" (Luke). "While it was yet dark" (John). These variant notes as to the time mean, evidently, that they started while it was yet dark, and reached the tomb about sunrise. Their various lodging-places, in Bethany or Jerusalem, ranged,
probably, from 1 mile to two miles or more distant.
"An angel," sitting upon the stone (Matthew). "A young man," sitting in the tomb (Mark). "Two men" stood by them (Luke). "Two angels," sitting in the tomb (John). These different expressions simply mean that the angels, in human form, were waiting outside the tomb to greet the women, then led them inside, and explained that Jesus had risen. Part time two were visible, and part time only one was visible. Probably there were myriads of angels hovering over the tomb that morning, waiting to welcome the risen Saviour, for it was a triumphant moment in the annals of heaven. Angels will have charge of the general resurrection (Matthew 24:31, see note on "Angels" under Matthew 4:11).
"Late on the Sabbath" (1). The Sabbath, strictly speaking, was from sunset to sunset. But in common usage, as here, it extended into the night, indicated by the expression "as it began to dawn toward the first day of the week."
"A great earthquake" (2). There had also been an earthquake as Jesus expired on the cross (Matthew 27:51). And at the giving of the law on Mt. Sinai (Exodus 19:16, l8). It is one of God's ways of calling attention to momentous events.
Between verses 8 and 9, we gather from the Gospel records, the women had told the disciples, and were returning again to the tomb; in which interval Peter and John had run to the tomb, and gone away, and Mary Magdalene, ahead of the others, was at the tomb alone, and Jesus appeared to her. Then a little later to the other women. (See under Mark 16 on "Order of Events.") Thus Jesus' first two appearances were to women.
Through Woman, without the aid of Man, came the Saviour, and now to Women first the Glorious News of His Resurrection.
They had been put there at the request of the Sanhedrin, as a precaution against the possibility of Jesus' body being stolen. Terrified at the earthquake, the angel, and the absence of Jesus' body from the tomb. they fled to report to the Sanhedrin. The Sanhedrin' bribed them to say that they had fallen asleep. This inside knowledge of
what took place at the tomb no doubt had something to do with the conversion of a multitude of priests a little later (Acts 6:7).
That afternoon, Jesus appeared to the Two (Luke 24:11-32).
And, about the same time, to Peter (Luke 24:34).
And in the evening, to the Ten (John 20:19-25).
A week later, to the Eleven, in Jerusalem (John 20:26-29).
Sometime later, to the Eleven, by the Sea of Galilee (John 21).
And to James, at a time and place unknown (I Corinthians 15:7).
In a mountain in Galilee, by his own appointment (26:32; 28:7), It is thought to have been the time when "above 500" were present (I Corinthians 15:6). The "Great Commission" (18:20), is recorded, in substance, four times (see on Mark 16:14-18).
"I am with you always" (20). This is our favorite verse in all the Bible. Jesus rose, nevermore to die. He is ALIVE now, and is with his people, in guiding and protecting power, all the time.
Not merely the commander-in-chief of some vast organization of angels and arch-angels. He is that. But more. The Commander-inchief of the hosts of heaven is himself personally interested in and personally with each one of his people all the time.
We cannot understand how One Person can be with millions and billions of persons at the same time. Bur it is Deity. in And Jesus said it the plainest possible language, "I AM WITH YOU ALL THE TIME." Jesus said that. And Jesus did not use idle words. He did not talk just to hear himself talk. He meant something when he said that, and we believe that, in some real sense, beyond our comprehension, mystic, but real, HE is with each one of us all the time.
No matter how weak, or humble, or unimportant, HE is our friend, our companion. Invisible, but there. Now, right now. Tonight, while we are asleep. Tomorrow, white we are at work. Next week. Next year. Shadowing us through life. Walking by our side. Watching with kindly interest every detail of life's pitiful struggle, trying so patiently
to lead us up to a place of immortal happiness in His Father's home. This all seems like just a beautiful dream. But it is a FACT, the one fundamental fact of our existence.
After this, Jesus appeared once more (Luke 24:44-51).
ARCHAEOLOGICAL NOTE: The Nazareth Decree. (EMB)
The Nazareth Decree is an inscription cut on a slab of white marble, sent in 1878 from Nazareth for the private collection of a German antiquarian named Froehner. It was not until 1930, when, on Frochner's death, the inscription found a place in the Cabinet de Medailles of the Louvre, that the historian Michel Rostovtzeff noticed its significance. The Abbe Cumont published the first description in 1932.
The decree runs: "Ordinance of Caesar. It is my pleasure that graves and tombs remain undisturbed in perpetuity for those who have made them for the cult of their ancestors, or children, or members of their house. If, however, any man lay information that another has either demolished them, or has in any other way extracted the buried, or has maliciously transferred their to other places in order to wrong them, or has displaced the sealing or other stones, against such a one I order that a trial be instituted, as in respect of the gods, so in regard to the cult of mortals. For it shall' be much more obligatory to honor the buried. Let it be absolutely forbidden for anyone to disturb them. In the case of contravention I desire that the
offender be sentenced to capital punishment on the charge of violation of sepulture."
Evidence suggests that the inscription falls within the decade which closed with A.D. 50. The central-Roman government did not take over the administration of Galilee until the death of Agrippa in A.D. 44. This limits the date, in the opinion of competent scholarship, to five years under Claudius (e.g. vid. A. Momigliano, The Emperor Claudius and His Achievement, 1912). It is possible to date the inscription rather more precisely. The Acts of the Apostles, confirmed by Orosius and Suetonius, the Roman historians, says that Claudius expelled the Jews from Rome (18:2). This was in A.D 49. Suetonius adds that this was done "at the instigation of one Chrestos." The reference is obviously to Christ, and Suetonius' garbled two account confuses two Grreek words christos and chrestos.
Claudius was a learned man, misjudged by his contemporaries because of physical defects, probably due to the effects of what may possibly have been Parkinson's disease. His interest in continuing Augustus' religious policy led to a wide knowledge of the religions of the Empire, and would prompt investigation in the courts of any case involving cults or religious beliefs. Suetonius' phrase, and the act of expulsion, probably reflect the first impact of Christianity in Rome, disturbance in the ghetto, proceedings in the courts, and a review of the rabbis' complaints with Christian apologia in reply, before the court with the Emperor on the bench. He hearts the Pharisaic explanation of the empty tomb (Matthew 28:13), and Nazareth having recently fallen under control he proceeds to deal with the trouble on the spot. Inquiries are made in Palestine, and the local authority asks for directions. The result is a "re-script" or imperial ruling. Claudius wrote more than one long letter on religious matters (e.g notable letter to the Jews of Alexandria in A.D. 41). The decree set up at Nazareth was a quotation from such a communication, verbatim or adapted from a larger text.