Searchlights from the Word by G. Campbell Morgan: Matthew

Helpful outline sermon suggestion from every chapter from the Book of Matthew

Gene Exod Levi Numb Deut Josh Judg Ruth 1Sam 2Sam 1Kin 2Kin 1Chr 2Chr Ezra Nehe Esth Job_ Psal Prov Eccl Song Isai Jere Lame Ezek Dani Hose Joel Amos Obad Jona Mica Nahu Haba Zeph Hagg Zech Mala Matt Mark Luke John Acts Roma 1Cor 2Cor Gala Ephe Phil Colo 1The 2The 1Tim 2Tim Titu Phle Hebr Jame 1Pet 2Pet 1Joh 2Joh 3Joh Jude Reve

The Gospel of Matthew - "Searchlights from the Word" by G. Campbell Morgan.

Chapter 1

It is He that shall save His people from their sins.
Matthew 1:21

The whole value of this statement is found by placing the emphasis upon the "HE." The name which the angel commanded Joseph to give to Mary's Child was one that was common at the time. It had a wonderful history. It had been made by Moses for his immediate successor, by the weaving together of his name, Hoshea, which meant Salvation, with some of the letters of the Divine name Jehovah, so that its full significance was "The Salvation of Jehovah." Thus the Name Jesus, is equivalent to the Jehovah of the Old Testament, combined with the revelation of the ultimate meaning of that name, that of Salvation, in all the completeness of the great fact. As Jehovah - or Yahweh - meant, "The Becoming One," or "The One Who becomes" - that is, the God of Grace, Who becomes to His people whatever they need, so, when in the fullness of time, He, in His Son, "became flesh," the Name given to Him signified the ultimate in this mighty, but condescending Grace. This is indeed, then, the Name which is above every name. The hope expressed in the Name was about to be fulfilled. Through the One Who was now to bear it, salvation from sin was to be made possible. This contrastive value abides. Still there is none other name which stands for that possibility. Infinite are the glories of Him Who received that Name anew when He was exalted to the right hand of God, but among them all, for us who are sinning men and women, this is central and supreme. This we should ever remember for our personal comfort, and in all our service. As we are perpetually engaged in the struggle against sin, it is for us to fight in the assurance that He is able to deliver us, not only from the penalties of wrongdoing, but from the power of evil in every form. That also must ever condition our service. However varied the claims of our Lord may be, and however wide the area over which it is our business to insist upon His Lordship, everything begins, continues, and ends, in this glorious fact that He deals with sin, forgiving its penalty, cleansing from its pollution, and destroying its power.

Chapter 2

Herod will seek the young Child to destroy Him.
Matthew 2:13

Like a flash of clear light these words reveal the dark and sinister things of evil. Look at the young Child. He is the Child born to humanity, the Son given by God. Full of all grace and strength, He is the explanation of God's ideal for man, and the unveiling of God's love for man. Look at Herod. He is the very incarnation of pride, of perversity, of pollution. Herod will seek the young Child to destroy Him! He will not succeed. It is Herod that will be destroyed, and that by the young Child. But the way to victory will be the way of wounding, of anguish, of death. It is well that all the significance of these things should ever be before us. Herod is still seeking to destroy, and he and his ways may always be discovered by his hatred of the young Child. Everything that threatens childlife, however gorgeously it may be arrayed, however it may employ the language of a false culture, is inherently evil. Herod is Edom - that is materialism, sensuality, the Esau who sells a birthright for a mess of pottage. When children are looked at from the materialistic standpoint only, whether in palace or tenement house, whether amid the debasing luxuries of wealth, or in the squalid miseries of poverty, they are attacked by their most deadly foe. When God came into human life, to reveal us to ourselves, and to unveil Himself to us, He began as a Babe, a young Child, and so compelled us to guard those first years of human experience. The perils are subtle and the destructive forces mighty. Let us not imagine that things have changed. We must go with the Child all the way of witness, and of suffering, if we are to share in His triumphs. But that inevitably means that we must be at war with Herod; and must not have the slightest complicity with his outlook on life, or with his methods. Love of self always means hatred of the Child, and ruthlessness. Love of the Child always means self-emptying and sacrifice. The work of the Shepherd for the lamb is often stern work, demanding the long journey over the mountains, and the fierce and bloody conflict with the marauding and destroying wolf. But it is work with God, and that means that fellowship in His suffering, ever leads to fellowship in His triumph.

Chapter 3

Thus it becometh us to fulfil all righteousness.
Matthew 3:15

"Thus." How? What is the real significance of this first recorded word of our Lord as He approached His public ministry? The answer is to be found in a consideration of the reason for the protest of John, to which it was a reply. John's baptism was to repentance and remission of sins. As he looked at Jesus, he knew that He had nothing of which to repent; no sins to be remitted. Why then should He submit to this baptism? The answer to that inquiry our Lord gave. The reason for His baptism was that through all which it symbolized He would fulfil righteousness; and only through such action could He do this. In baptism He confessed, as His own, sins which He had not committed, and repented of them before God. He was numbered with transgressors and bore the sins of many. It was at once the prophecy and interpretation of His coming passion-baptism. The most arresting fact here is that in this word we have the revelation of a new element in the Righteousness 'of God—new that is, in the sense that it had not hitherto been revealed. Included in the Divine righteousness is the determination to make it possible, by the way of vicarious suffering. Thus love is seen, mastered by righteousness; and suffering, in order to make the unrighteous righteous. Thus righteousness is seen, acting in love, that men may be brought into the place where love can bestow all its gifts. That is the righteousness unveiled in the Gospel. That is the righteousness which exceeds that of the Pharisees. How far have we entered into the personal experience of it?

Chapter 4

When He heard that John was delivered up, He withdrew into Galilee.
Matthew 4:12

This is a statement revealing our Lord's courage rather than His caution. There are instances on record of how in hours of danger He moved out of the danger-zone. This is not one of them. Here He went into the danger-zone. The word "withdrew" simply means that He went. Galilee was the tetrarchy of Herod, who had imprisoned John. Into that region then, our Lord went to continue the ministry of the man thus silenced, and to begin His own more public propaganda. As another Herod had sought the young Child to destroy Him, so now this one, given over to evil courses, attempted to silence the troublesome voice which had denounced the sin of the court as sternly as the sin of the crowd. When Jesus heard it, He moved into the region of Herod's influence, and took up the message of His herald, and gave it more publicity and more power. Thus it has ever been, and still is. Evil may silence a voice, but it cannot prevent the proclamation of the Word. If John be imprisoned, Jesus takes up the message; and that means that it will be proclaimed with clarity, directness, and power, more arresting, disturbing, and prevailing. We need have no trembling of heart when evil seems for the moment to have gained an advantage, and to have triumphed over truth. It is Truth which is mighty, and God ever finds some new instrument through which it will proceed to yet greater victories.

Chapter 5

First be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift.
Matthew 5:24

This is Christ's law of approach to the altar of worship. It is the altar of worship, for the exercise is that of giving - the highest activity of worship. It is an amazing thing, but nevertheless true, that our God seeks and values the gifts which we bring Him, of praise, thanksgiving, service, and material offerings, which are sanctified by sacrifice. In all such giving at the altar, we enter into the highest experiences of our life of fellowship. But, in these words, our King and Priest utters the most solemn warning. The gift is acceptable to God in the measure in which the one who offers is in fellowship with Him in character and conduct; and the test of this is in our relationship with our fellowmen. Wrong done to a brother, which is unconfessed to the brother, cancels the value of the gift; and we are thus strictly charged to postpone the giving to God, until right relationships are established with men. It is a searching word, and should give us constant pause in our most holy exercises. We are reconciled to God through the prevailing mediation of our one and only Priest; but we may not appropriate the privileges of that reconciliation save upon the basis of having sought reconciliation with our fellowmen in any matter in which they have aught against us. May not neglect of this be the explanation of much of the barrenness of our worship, and the futility of our service? The practical application is one which each one of us must make for himself or herself. We can only neglect it at our peril.

Chapter 6

Thy Father Which seeth in secret.
Matthew 6:4

That is in some sense the central light upon a section of our Lord's ethical teaching. He had warned His disciples against doing righteousness to be seen of men; and He applied that warning in the matters of alms, prayer, and fasting. The one conditioning motive in each case must be that of the Divine approval. This being so, we are to remember that our Father seeth in secret. In this assurance there is great solemnity, and great comfort. The solemnity is created as we remember His holiness. Nothing can be hidden from the eyes of eternal Purity. He knows why we give or pray or fast. We may deceive others, and unless we are ever conscious of the watching eyes of God, we may deceive ourselves. Him we cannot so deceive. All things are naked and open to the eyes of Him with Whom we have to do. All this is most solemnizing, and yet its chief note is that of comfort. The very sense of fear which the statement creates in the soul is of the nature of health. It makes us afraid of the base, the ignoble, the impure; for He approves the high, the noble, the pure. And more, it is good to know that He sees in secret, and understands when men misunderstand. That great confidence has enabled men and women to endure with courage and cheerfulness in terrible hours of opprobrium and suffering. The certainty that our Father sees in secret, is a sanctuary into which we may retire at all times, for correction, for encouragement, and for comfort. Let that knowledge be at all times, and under all circumstances, the inspiration and strength of our lives.

Chapter 7

Founded upon the Rock.
Matthew 7:25

In the closing sentences of His ethical manifesto, our Lord claimed full and final authority for all He had said; and that superlatively, by thus declaring that to hear and to do, is to build upon a rock foundation, so securely that no storms can destroy the building. This figure of building may be applied in many ways. Indeed, in every way in which men are attempting to do constructive work, in individual character-building, in every phase of social realization, in national affairs, and in all international and racial matters, His words are fundamental and final. They result from His perfect understanding of all the deepest facts concerning humanity. To order one's own life according to His teaching is to realize all its meaning and strength, and so to make it proof against all destructive forces. To obey His law is to realize the true commonwealth of human lives, and so to ensure the order which abides, and in which righteousness issues in peace and in joy. All this, however, is only possible as we are brought into living relationship with Him by the way of the Cross. We may hear His words, and even admire them; but we cannot do them save in the power of the life He bestows when we trust Him first as our Saviour. The Mount of ethical enunciation reveals the need for the Mount of the Cross. Yet once more let it be said that the gift of life received through Grace must be wrought out to its full realization by obedience to the laws of life given in Truth. We are saved by Grace and Truth. Therefore all our building, if it is to abide, must be sure-founded on the rock of His teaching.

Chapter 8

Himself took our infirmities, and bare our diseases.
Matthew 8:17

This word takes us beyond the teachings of our Lord, to a record of the marvels which He wrought. As we read we are impressed, and rightly so, with the ease with which He dealt with all the need and suffering of men. In these words, quoted from Isaiah, Matthew suddenly reminds us of another side of truth concerning these doings of the Lord. If His word and touch brought instant deliverance to men, it was because in a great mystery of grace He suffered in order to save. Every wonder of healing was made possible by the profounder wonder of atonement. Our infirmities pass from us, and our diseases cease to vex us, because He takes our sins, and bears them. This is a truth that we should ever bear in mind. The giving of God to us is bounteous and super-abounding, but it is never cheap. The blessings we receive from Him are most precious, because most costly. They are hallmarked with Blood. The water from the well of Bethlehem is the red wine that comes from Calvary. It is as we remember that tremendous fact that we are able to render to Him, our adorable Redeemer, the praise and honour due to His Name. When we drink the wine and eat the bread, let us never permit ourselves to forget the wormwood and the gall! When our pains are eased, let us reverently remember the pains which He bore. Thus shall we ever render Him the worship which is His due.

Chapter 9

Go ye and learn.
Matthew 9:13

These words are the more arresting when we remember that they were addressed to the teachers of men. The Pharisees were amazed when they saw the Lord eating with publicans and sinners. Their astonishment was due to their conception of God. They thought of Him as aloof and distant in His holiness from men who neglected the ceremonial observances of religion, and so considered that all teachers of religion should observe the same attitude. The rebuke of Christ showed that they did not know God, and He bade them go and learn the meaning of their own Scriptures. Herein is revealed a constant peril. It is terribly possible to be zealous for a wrong conception of God, and of Truth, and so to fail to co-operate with Him in the very enterprise which is dearest to His heart. Nothing is more important, especially in the case of those who are in any way called upon to represent God to men, than that we should go and learn for ourselves the truth about Him. For us there need be no difficulty in this matter, for He has revealed Himself completely in the Son of His love. The hard morality of pharisaism is impossible to those who have learned the truth as it is in Jesus. It follows necessarily that there is nothing of greater importance to all who are called to the service of God in the service of men than that they should go and learn. Time and strength of mind and heart and will must be given to the cultivation of that fellowship in which we ever grow to fuller knowledge.

Chapter 10

Not one of them shall fall on the ground without your Father.
Matthew 10:29

Christ was not speaking of seraphim, nor of saints, but of sparrows. Of one of them He said that if perchance with broken wing, or fainting heart, it fall on the ground, it is not alone, for God is with it. Observe carefully that the declaration is not "without your Father's knowledge," but "without your Father." God not only knows, He is with the falling bird. Like a flash of light, these words enable us to see God's world and God, as Jesus saw them. Nothing is outside His knowledge; nothing is beyond the tender strength of His nearness. He is the Comrade of the bird, which man values at half a farthing! This conception of God creates the fear of Him which cancels all other fear. Knowing Him, we fear with the fear which is born of love. Certain of our safety in His knowledge, and nearness, we fear lest we should grieve Him or disappoint Him in any way. When that fear masters the life, we become devoid of all fear as to what man can do to us. He may kill the body, but that is of little moment. Even if he do, as we fall, the God Who is with the falling sparrow will be with us, and that is the life of the soul, today and for ever. This superlative application involves all lesser ones. Fear of pain, of poverty, of adverse circumstances, is cancelled as we know this God, and walk the way of life in His company.

Chapter 11

Blessed is he, whosoever shall find none occasion of stumbling in Me.
Matthew 11:6

These are the final words of the message which the Lord sent to John the Baptist, when he inquired as to whether He was indeed the Christ. They constitute a warning which we all need to bear in mind. There can be no question that John was perplexed by the methods which the Lord was adopting, and that perplexity was due to the fact that even he had not fully apprehended the meaning of Messiahship. Had Jesus preached so as to raise a revolution and create an army, John would have been more satisfied. This is a perpetual peril. It is not easy yet to understand why God does not do something more startling. It is that idea which underlies the question which we sometimes hear as to why God does not do thus or so. It is that idea which inspired all those activities in the Name of Christ which are attempts to improve upon His methods. To all such restless impatience, He utters the same warning. We are called upon to trust Him so completely as to be content to follow Him in those quiet, persistent methods which consist of attending to individuals, and getting things done one by one, simply, quietly, and with persistent patience. There are hours for demonstration, for, under some circumstances, if men do not shout, stones will cry out. For the most part, the way of the Lord's service is the way of plodding perseverance in the doing of apparently small things. The history of the Church shows that this is one of the lessons most difficult to learn. It also proves that the measure in which it is learned and practised is the measure of real co-operation with God.

Chapter 12

Behold, My mother and My brethren.
Matthew 12:49

Jesus said this with His hands out-stretched towards His disciples. By the act and the words He most definitely and distinctly put those disciples into contrast with His mother and brethren after the flesh. These latter were at the time seeking Him, perchance with all kindliness of intention, to persuade Him to abandon His work, and to return home with them. Such action showed how far they were away from Him in all the deepest things. He was in the world to do one thing, and one thing only, and that was the will of His Father. Those who were one with Him in that purpose and were content to abide with Him, were nearer to Him in the real things of life than even those who were related to Him after the flesh. His next of kin are always those who are one with Him in spiritual devotion to the will of God. This is an instance of great value in its revelation of our Lord's conception of the essential spiritual nature of man. He never undervalued the body, but He never treated it as secondary and subservient. It also clearly reveals His conception of what constitutes health and strength in spiritual life. It is simply the doing of the will of God. This, however, is what none can do, save as He makes us one with Him, by communicating His very nature to us. This is the deeper note of His exclamation. He did not exclude His mother and brethren after the flesh, from their relationship; but He did clearly indicate that only upon its basis could they be really one with Him.

Chapter 13

He did not many mighty works there because of their unbelief.
Matthew 13:58

The place referred to was "His own country"; the place where He had grown from childhood to manhood, and had advanced in grace, as Luke tells us. There He had so taught that they were astonished at His "wisdom" and "mighty works." Then He withheld His power, and ceased doing these "mighty works." Why? "Because of their unbelief." He arrested their thought by what He did and said. They were compelled to acknowledge the astonishing nature of these things. Then they allowed unworthy prejudice to prevent their complete and reasonable response to the astonishment of their minds. This was their unbelief. Not that they did not believe that He had said and done wonderful things; but that they did not permit that intellectual conviction to lead them to corresponding volitional action. That is the point at which the Lord is always hindered. It is not that He needed their faith to enable Him to do anything. It was rather that the giving of His teaching, and the doing of His wonders, to and for people who do not yield themselves to the claims which such teaching and doing set up, is of no value to them or to God. Is it not perpetually so that Christ is limited in the individual soul, and in the Church, because of that very quality of unbelief? He comes to the soul and to the assembly, and astonishes with His teaching and His power; and that astonishment leading to nothing, or to foolish attempts to account for Him on human levels, He is hindered, and the mighty works cease.

Chapter 14

He went up into the mountain apart to pray.
Matthew 14:23

In nothing is the perfection of the humanity of our Lord more strikingly seen than in His constant resort to the practice of fellowship with His Father in prayer. Essential human nature needs that practice for its sustenance. Apart from it, it must falter and fail. This our Lord knew, and therefore constantly observed it. Thus the practice is the sign, not of the weakness of the human in Him, but of its full and perfect strength. Neglect of prayer is at once a source and sign of weakness. Surely we need to remind ourselves constantly of this fact as demonstrated in the life of our Lord. Having become our Saviour and Lord, He is our pattern. If then He found the necessity for such times of communion with His Father, apart, alone, how can we hope to live our lives, or render our service acceptable to Him, if we neglect them? There can be no question, moreover, that in His case these seasons were not merely occasions when He asked gifts from His Father. In all probability petition occupied a very important place in such seasons, but by no means the principal place. They were times of communion in which He poured out the joy of His Spirit in adoring praise; and in which He remained in silence, and heard the speech of God in His own soul. And so it must ever be with us, if our lives are to be strong in themselves, and victorious in their service.

Chapter 15

Every plant which My heavenly Father planted not, shall be rooted up.
Matthew 15:13

In order to understand this saying of Jesus, we must carefully note its setting. He had been denouncing the Pharisees for making void the Word of God because of their tradition. His disciples observed and reported to Him the fact that the Pharisees were offended. To them He said that every plant, which was not of His Father's planting, should be rooted up. Here, then, we find the test of all human teaching however well-intentioned. If it be not based upon and rooted in the Word of God, or if it depart in any degree from the true intention of that Word, it is without pity to be rooted up. By this test we need ever to try our traditions, customs, habits, rules, regulations. Man is always in danger of destroying the very thing he desires to safeguard, when he adds to the simplest things of the Divine revelation. This was exactly the story of Pharisaism. Starting with a passion for the Law of God, it had attempted to preserve and enforce it by the addition of rules and burdens, which were intolerable, and which, positively in many applications, destroyed the sanction of the original Law. Christianity has often suffered from the same method. We are strangely in danger of being in bondage to human opinion, interpretation, and requirement. From all such it is our duty to break away, when for a moment, or by a hair's breadth, they relegate us to a distance from the will of God.

Chapter 16

Flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but My Father.
Matthew 16:17

By this statement our Lord claimed that He had accomplished so far, the purpose for which He had been sent into the world. Through Him the Father had revealed the truth to this company of men - for there is no question that here Peter was speaking not for himself alone, but on behalf of that little company of whom Christ had inquired: "But who say ye that I am?" The Father's revealing truth concerning the Son of God had come through the Son of Man. That explains our Lord's subsequent charge to them: "That they should tell no man that He was the Christ." Their telling could bring no conviction. The Father Himself, through the Son, is alone able to do this. Does not this give us a very clear sense of our limitation in Christian service; and at the same time make perfectly clear what our true work is? We can never convince men that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God by our arguments, however sincerely they may state our convictions. Our perpetual business is that of leading men to Him, and leaving them with Him. It is in this latter matter that we often fail. We do not seem to be quite sure that they will come to a right view apart from us. The fact is that they will never come to a right view through us. It is when we have retired, and they are with Him alone, that the light breaks upon them.

Chapter 17

This is my beloved Son, in Whom I am well pleased; hear ye Him.
Matthew 17:5

Thus by a voice out of an overshadowing cloud, God broke in upon and corrected the confused and foolish suggestion of Peter, the dazed disciple. That it was a foolish suggestion might be shown in many ways. We should remember that Mark tells us that Peter said this when he "knew not what to say," and Luke that he spoke "not knowing what he said." We are warranted, however, in carefully noticing the emphasis of the Divine interruption. Peter suggested the retention of the three in association: Moses, the law-giver; Elijah, the reformer; and Jesus, the Messiah. The voice declared in effect that such an association was impossible. First, because of Who Jesus was - This is My Son. This Peter had confessed at Caesarea Philippi, but evidently he had not realized the full significance of the fact. The Son of God can never be placed on the same level as servants in the House of God, however faithful they may be. And again, because the Son came to deliver the full and final message of God to men. When He has spoken, we have no need of any partial truth revealed through others. Hear ye Him! By that voice on the Holy Mount, Peter and all Christian teachers are forbidden to look upon the Son of God as One among others. In Him God has said everything that man needs to hear.

Chapter 18

How think ye?
Matthew 18:12

In this question we have an instance of a method which our Lord often adopted in His teachings, which is arresting, and most suggestive. It was that of appealing to men to test Divine actions by their own. In doing this, He was assuming man's capacity for understanding God, and His assumption was based upon His knowledge of human nature. He knew its depravity, and once, in making use of this very method of appeal, He declared it as He said, "If ye then, being evil." Nevertheless, He also knew that if man could be brought to true thinking, to reasoning with God, he could understand God. In some senses this was a superlative instance, for here He was interpreting God's attitude toward the lost; and He appealed to that instinct in man - "any man," as He said - which would send him out to the mountains to seek the one sheep which had gone astray. Is there not something here which we should do well to remember and imitate in our dealing with men, when we desire to explain and justify the ways of God to them? It must be done with carefulness. We cannot argue the ways of God from the ways of men, but we may be perfectly sure that the ways of God may be illustrated to men by what they will understand of themselves, if they will think simply and truly.

Chapter 19

He laid His hands on them.
Matthew 19:15

This He did after He had rebuked His disciples for attempting to prevent their being brought to Him. The mistake was very natural, for they did not understand the strategic importance of little children in the Kingdom of God. All that, we learn from this chapter. Our Lord enfranchized the children, and this was symbolized in this act, as it was declared in His works. These hands were those of the King, the Priest, the Teacher. By their laying-on, the children were claimed for His rule, His redemption, His guidance. I have often wondered what became of those particular children. A great and reverent story might be written, making some one of them its hero or heroine. And yet everything would depend upon those who had the care of them afterwards. If they, the fathers and mothers, saw the real value of what took place that day, the children would enter into it all as the years went on. That is the real point of the story for us. So far as He is concerned, those strong and tender hands are laid upon the heads of all our children. Do we recognize that? If so, it will have its effect upon all our dealings with them. They are ours, but they are His by deeper, more sacred, more tender ties; and our principal responsibility concerning them is, not that we should have joy of them, but that He should possess them in very deed.

Chapter 20

Ye know not what ye ask.
Matthew 20:22

How constantly this is true of our praying, even when it is seeking for the highest things! These men, when they preferred this request, were on a higher level of desire than they had ever reached before. Carefully observe the contrast. He had just been telling them of His coming shame and death, and also of His resurrection. It was then that they asked association with Him in His coming power. It was a request born of faith, and characterized by the noblest aspiration. Yet they did not know what they asked. They did not understand the cost. They did not understand the principle of precedence in that Kingdom. So it is often with us. The desires we express are well-born, and in so far they are worthy. But our very limitation makes it impossible for us to know whether they can be granted. God is always dealing with His own individually, but always also with a view to their place in the much larger whole of His complete and final purpose. It is patent, therefore, that one element which can never be omitted from true prayer is that of submission. We must believe when we pray, not only that God is generous. To believe that only, will make us doubt it, when He denies. We must believe also, in His perfect wisdom and justice. To do so will enable us to praise Him with equal sincerity whether He give or refuse to do so. That is the fullness of faith, and it is only as we so pray that we can find perfect rest and peace.

Chapter 21

Now in the morning as He returned to the city, He hungered.
Matthew 21:18

This ever seems to me to be one of the statements in which we find the merging in our Lord of the physical and the spiritual. There is no doubt that He was conscious of physical hunger, but His action shows that His supreme consciousness was that of His passion for righteousness. Quite apart from the significance of what He did in the sphere of His mission, this is a most arresting revelation of the truth concerning His personality. He was perfectly human and therefore physically hungry, for hunger is a sign of health. But the deeper note is that because He was so perfectly human, the supreme things of life, which are the spiritual, were still dominant, and His action shows how to Him the physical is ever sacramental, and the medium of the spiritual. This is an ideal of life which we do well to consider. We are terribly in danger, in actual life, of separating between the physical and the spiritual. To put it quite bluntly, we too often lose our spiritual sense when we are physically hungry, or forget our physical needs when spiritually hungry. This is all wrong. In proportion as we are truly submitted to the mastery of our Lord there will be no such one-sidedness of experience. To live the Christ-life is in very deed, whether we eat or drink, or whatever we do, to do all to the glory of God. Then every power of the physical becomes an expression of the spiritual.

Chapter 22

God is not the God of the dead, but of the living.
Matthew 22:32

These words were spoken to the Sadducees who denied the resurrection; and they were intended to constitute one argument for resurrection, and that a final and conclusive one. That argument is that Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob are not dead, but alive. The words of God which Jesus quoted were uttered long after the three men named had died (see Exod. 3:6). To Moses, God made the declaration; and now our Lord declared that though dead in the ordinary sense, that is as to their earthly bodies and experience, they were not dead in the sense of having ceased to be. This was our Lord's consistent interpretation of death. Of Jairus' daughter, and of Lazarus He said that they slept, when as to bodily life they certainly were dead. Thus we must ever remember that the Christian doctrine of death is not that it is in any sense cessation of being. It is rather separation. Physical death is the separation of the spirit from the body. Spiritual death is separation of the spirit from God. The spirits of the just made perfect are more alive than they ever were, because they are more consciously with God. For them, being absent from the body is being at home with the Lord, and that is life indeed. He is indeed the God of our loved ones who as to this earth have fallen on sleep, and that means that they are alive. By-and-by, in resurrection, they will awake, even in bodily form, in His likeness, and that will be their final perfecting. And this is, as we have said, a final and conclusive argument for resurrection. Man is not perfect as a disembodied spirit. He needs a body for perfect expression. Thus the perfecting of the saints will come in the moment of resurrection.

Chapter 23

Woe unto you.
Matthew 23:13

These are strangely solemn words, and the more so when we remember that they were the words of One Whose heart is full of all tenderness, and Whose love for men is unfathomable. Yet here they are, and seven times repeated. In six cases the reason for the woe is revealed by the use of the word "hypocrites," and once by the words "blind guides." No amount of argument can rob these words of their terrible import. They stand upon the page for evermore speaking to us of "the wrath of the Lamb." The full context clearly discloses to us the reason of that wrath. It proceeds against those who are wronging men by misrepresenting God. In their teaching these Scribes and Pharisees had removed the emphasis from all the essential things of the soul, and had placed it upon trivialities. They had made the religious life a burden with no moral or spiritual value, when it should be the strength of all these things. For wrong done to men, and so to God, these men were denounced. Thus the very heat of the anger of the Lord is that of His perfect love. How little men know of the depth of that love who imagine that wrath has no place in the mind or will of God. These woes stand over against the beatitudes at the opening of the Manifesto of the King, which reveal His purpose for man. They declare the result of preventing the realization of that purpose; and they were uttered against men who, by virtue of the office they held, were responsible for interpreting to men the Kingdom of God, and who by their hypocrisy were hiding that Kingdom.

Chapter 24

Behold, I have told you beforehand.
Matthew 24:25

In these words our Lord revealed to His disciples then, and for all time, the real value of these prophetic utterances at the close of His public ministry. He saw the end from the beginning, and all the processes leading thereto, and was under no delusion as to the strength of the evil forces to be dealt with before the final and perfect establishment of the Day of the Lord. He declared these things before-hand that we also might be free from all such delusion, and that through all the periods and processes of catastrophe and deceit, our hearts should be kept firm and faithful to Him in the assurance of His knowledge. The perspective of prediction is at all times perplexing, and it is certainly so in these foretellings of Jesus. The general principles and facts are perfectly plain, and concerning them we can make no mistake. Wars and distresses, false prophets and false Christs, are to continue and multiply, until the Coming of the Son of Man. If this view of the course of events is not consonant with human ideas of how things ought to happen, it certainly is true to the actual facts of history and experience until now. We may rest assured that He Whose predictions have been verified completely so far, was not mistaken about the consummation. The Son of Man is surely coming, and when He comes there will be no mistaking the fact. Let us not be seduced from our loyalty to Him by any false Christ.

Chapter 25

Watch therefore, for ye know not the day nor the hour.
Matthew 25:13

This is our Lord's word to His own as to their attitude toward the fact of His Second Coming. That He is coming again He most plainly declared, and all the New Testament writers affirmed the truth. The light and glory of that certainty falls upon all the, darkness of the processes through which the victory of the Kingdom of God is to be won. Nothing will be completed until He come; but everything is working under His mediatorial reign to that consummation. Nothing is more explicit in His references to that glorious end, than the declaration that the day and hour are not revealed. The hiding of that time is part of the Divine counsel. To seek to discover it is to attempt to be wiser than our Lord, in His infinite wisdom, intends that we should be. Our attitude is to be that of those who watch. To know the day or the hour would be to make watching largely unnecessary; and this would rob us of that alertness which is of the very essence of true discipleship both in life and service. Concerning the times and seasons we need have no care. They are within the Father's authority, and there can be no failure with Him. Knowing beforehand both the strangeness of the period of our waiting, and the certainty of His coming, it is ours to have our lamps burning, our loins girt about, and to be so occupied about His business that when He comes we shall be neither surprised nor ashamed. That is patient waiting for Christ, and it is far removed from the fussy impatience that seeks to know what He has chosen to hide, and in such seeking spends time and strength which should be devoted to His service.

Chapter 26

When they had sung a hymn, they went out unto the mount of Olives.
Matthew 26:30

These words, interpreted by a reverent imagination, present one of the most wonderful pictures. Twelve men are seen singing. The company is composed of One, and eleven. The circumstances, judged by human standards, can only be described as tragic. The eleven are losing the One. He is going out to bruising, to buffeting, to a death of shame. And yet they sing, and it is impossible to doubt that He led the singing. We shall be helped in considering the wonder if we glance at Psalms 113 to 118. These constituted the Great Hallel which was always sung at the Passover. All that had been fore-shadowed in that Feast was now approaching completion, and this company of eleven were permitted to join Him, the Paschal Lamb by God appointed, in singing. If we are amazed at a song in so dark an hour, we also see its fitness and its glory. If they thought they were losing Him, it was not so in the counsel of God. He was pining them, that so they might gain Him, in a sense in which they had never possessed Him. He was going forth to bruise the head of the Serpent, to put to shame all the evil things that had destroyed men. He was passing in travail to the final triumph. No sweeter singing, no mightier music ever sounded amid the darkness of the sad world's night than the singing of Jesus and His first disciples, as He moved out to the Cross of His Passion, and their redemption. They sang the anthem of humanity's emancipation and of God's glory. And so persistently, through all the ages, those who have fellowship with His suffering march along the sorrowful way, singing the song of the final triumph!

Chapter 27

Make it as sure as ye can.
Matthew 27:65

It is almost impossible to read these words of Pilate to the priests and Pharisees without detecting the tones of restless impatience, and of a sarcasm which was born of some great uncertainty in his own heart. He had passed through strange experiences in dealing with Jesus. Under stress of political expediency he had violated his own conscience, and had given Him over to death. But was He dead? Or if He was, what strange things might not be about to happen? Yes, said he, take the guard, make the sepulchre as sure as ye can! Perhaps Pilate really hoped that, if there were anything in the weirdly haunting fears that assaulted him, the guard might prevent their fulfilment; so strangely do men attempt to deal with spiritual forces by material means. In many different ways that is what evil is always saying. The one fact which it is necessary for evil to prevent or deny is that of the actual Resurrection. All the claims of Christianity depend upon that. If Jesus of Nazareth lived and died, and His dust remained in the Syrian tomb, then everything breaks down. Then His teaching was untrue. His avowed intention was frustrated. He was at the best, a deluded man, and we are deceived if we trust Him as Saviour and follow Him as Lord. But mark the limitation of the words, "as sure as ye can"; and whit the issue. Man's efforts to prove Him not risen are as futile as those he employed to prevent Him rising. He left the tomb triumphantly, and He emerges in new power and glory from every attempt to declare Him dead.

Chapter 28

Risen, even as He said.
Matthew 28:6

Thus the fact in history vindicated the word He had spoken. It should ever be remembered that our Lord is never recorded as speaking of His coming Cross without at the same time foretelling His resurrection. This is God's eternal answer to all the might of evil. Herod sought the young Child's life to destroy it. At last they put Him to death. His body they placed in a tomb, guarded by soldiers. They made it as sure as they could, remembering that He had "said while He was yet alive, After three days I rise again." And this is the issue: "Risen, even as He said!" That is the secret of our assurance in the darkest day. The forces of evil are mighty, but God is Almighty. The plotting of evil is full of cleverness, but the wisdom of God holds it all in perfect knowledge, and His plans move ever forward to realization with absolute and splendid certainty. But let us make no mistake about it, we have no certainty of His almightiness, nor of His absolute wisdom, apart from His Resurrection. We have no other sufficient evidence of the one or the other. Herod seeks still to destroy the young Child. Priests and politicians still crucify the Lord, and set guards over His grave, declaring Him to be dead. But by this sign, amid the ages, we know that it is Herod who must and will be destroyed, and that the men who crucify will find salvation by the Cross, or by it will be cast out into the nethermost darkness.