Module 21: Jesus the Perfect King
Module Guide: Matthew - Jesus Christ the King
This pre-read guide is taken from the public domain source "The Analysed Bible in 3 Volumes" by G. Campbell Morgan.
Matthew was a Hebrew, whose calling in life was that of a tax-gatherer under the Roman government. His writing evidences his acquaintance with the Hebrew Scriptures, and especially with those which foretold the coming of the Messiah King. Thus, both in his religious thinking and in the prosecution of his daily calling he was familiar with the idea of government.
His story of the life and work of Jesus is naturally therefore a setting forth of the King and His Kingdom. The book falls into three parts. In the first Matthew introduces the Person (1-4:16); in the second he tells the story of the Propaganda (4:17-16:20); and in the last chronicles the events of the Passion (16:21-28:20).
The Person of the King
The King is presented to us in a threefold relation: to earth, to heaven, and to hell.
As to the first, after the manner of His nation, the genealogy which sets Him in purely Jewish legal relationship is given. Then follows the account of His birth, and it is the only account of the origin of the unique Personality of Jesus which is at all able to satisfy the reason. In a mystery passing our comprehension, the King is Son of God, and Son of Mary. Chronologically there is a great gap between the birth and the baptism, which is filled by the years of human growth and development at Nazareth. As the days approached for the commencement of His propaganda, His herald, the last of the long line of Hebrew prophets, appeared to the nation; and with a baptism of water, and words of authoritative rebuke and hope, he announced the advent of the King.
Crowning the ministry of the herald, the King appeared, and was baptized in Jordan. In connection with that baptism His relation to heaven was manifest. There was first the coming upon Him of the Spirit. This was the sacred ceremony by which He was set apart to the exercise of the Kingly office. Simultaneously with the anointing, the silence of the heaven was broken, and the words of the Father attested Him King. The second psalm should carefully be read in this connection. The declaration, "I am well pleased," attested the perfection of the life which had been lived in seclusion, especially in the light of the fact that by baptism the King's submission to the Divine will for all the purposes of redemption was symbolized.
Immediately from the lofty experiences of anointing and attestation the King passed to the lonely conflict of the wilderness. Here He came into grips with the arch-enemy of the race, the conspirator against heaven's order. The devil attacked Him in the threefold fact of His human personality, the material basis, the spiritual essence, and the vocational purpose. In every case victory was on the side of the King, and that by simple submission to the law of God. Thus His royalty was created and demonstrated by His loyalty.
Behold, this is our King! Sharer of our nature, and yet bringing into it the Divine nature. Appointed to rule by God Himself, and equipped for administration by the plenitude of the Spirit. Meeting every onslaught of the foe, and triumphing! Surely we may trust Him. The only adequate expression of trust is obedience.
The Propaganda of the King
The next division contains the account of the propaganda of the King, in which there are three movements: the enunciation of laws, the exhibition of benefits, and the enforcement of claims.
He first gathered around Him a nucleus of disciples. Some of these had been called in the earlier Judaean ministry, which Matthew does not record. They were now called to abandon their fishing in order to be with Him.
After a period of teaching in the synagogues of Galilee, He gathered these disciples, and gave to them His manifesto, in which He first insisted upon the supreme importance of character in His Kingdom; and declared its purpose to be that of producing influence, which He illustrated under the figures of salt and light. He then enunciated His laws, prefacing them with a prelude on the importance of law. His laws fall into three groups: first, those of human inter-relationship, which He illustrated by two quotations from the decalogue, dealing with murder and adultery; and two from the wider law of Moses, dealing with truth and justice, adding a new law of love, even toward enemies. Next came the laws of Divine relation, which declared the principle that life was to be lived before God rather than before men, and then was illustrated by application to alms, to prayer, to fasting. Finally He revealed the necessity for a super-earthly consciousness, as He warned them against covetousness and against care. Passing to the great subject of the dynamic, in the power of which it would be possible for His subjects to obey His ethic, He first warned them against censoriousness, and enjoined discrimination; then declared to them that in answer to their asking, seeking, knocking, they would receive, find, and the door would be opened, because they had to do with a Father. The last words of the manifesto were of the nature of invitation, warning, and the uttering of the Kingly claim. The effect produced upon the multitude who had listened to the manifesto uttered to the disciples was that of astonishment at His authority.
While the King had described His Kingdom to the faithful few in the hearing of the multitude, His will was that it should include all men within its embrace. His mission was not to compel by force of arms, but to constrain to willing submission to Himself. In order to do this He went forth, working to illustrate the benefits which must come to such as lived within His Kingdom. This working of wonders was no merely spectacular display on the part of Christ. It was a setting forth of the fact that He was King in all the realms by which their lives were affected. There are three distinct movements noticeable, each culminating in an effect produced upon the crowds.
In the first He demonstrated His power in the purely physical realm by healing leprosy, palsy, and fever, and with an astonishing ease, all that were sick. Thus the King of righteousness in ethical ideals, proved Himself able to correct all disability in the physical realm resulting from sin. The result of this first manifestation of His power was a spontaneous and apparently enthusiastic determination to follow Him on the part of some. Following, however, is not easy. He immediately presented the difficulties of the way, and yet insisted on the absolute importance of coming after Him by calling men to break with every other tie rather than fail in this matter.
In the second movement the King's power was seen operating in other spheres. He was Master of the elements. He exercised imperial sway in the mystic spirit-world. He claimed authority in the moral realm. The result produced upon the multitude by these manifestations was that they were afraid, and glorified God.
The third manifestation included the first two in its exercise of power, in both physical and spiritual realms. He recalled the spirit of the child of Jairus to its clay tenement, and by the healing of a woman, revealed His method of answering faith by the communication of virtue. The result produced upon the multitudes now was that they were filled with wonder, and the Pharisees suggested an explanation, to which they gave more definite voice later.
The section dealing with His enforcement of claims opens with a brief paragraph, full of suggestiveness, revealing the King's heart, as in the presence of all the need of men He is ever moved with compassion. He now called twelve of His disciples, and commissioned them as apostles. His charge to them included instructions which affected their immediate work, and indicated the lines of the work of their successors to the end of the age. This commissioning of the apostles was immediately followed by four illustrations of the kind of obstacles which confronted the King in His work. The perplexity of the loyal was manifest in the question of John; the unreasonableness of the age in His description of its children; the impenitence of the cities in His denunciation of them; and finally, the blindness of the simple.
The King is then seen in conflict. Opposition to Him became active. Twice the rulers attacked Him concerning His attitude to the Sabbath. They attempted to account for His power by attributing it to complicity with the devil. With supercilious unbelief, they asked a sign. Moreover, He had to contend with opposition which must have been more painful to Him than that of His avowed enemies. His own mother, unable to understand Him, sought to persuade Him to abandon His work.
In the presence of this increasing opposition the King uttered His great parables of the Kingdom. These may be divided into two groups: first, those spoken to the multitudes; secondly, those spoken to the disciples only. In the first there are four parables, revealing the method of the King, the method of the enemy, the worldly growth of the Kingdom, and the introduction of the corrupting influence of leaven. In the second there are four parables, the first three viewing the Kingdom from the Divine standpoint, the last teaching the responsibility of those to whom the revelation was committed.
Proceeding with His work the King encountered increasing opposition from His own, from the false king Herod, from Pharisees and scribes, and from Pharisees and Sadducees. In the intervals of this clearly marked growth of antagonism there were remarkable manifestations of Kingly power, revealing to such as had eyes to see, how beneficent was His rule.
At last a crisis was reached. At Caesarea Philippi He gathered His disciples about Him, and asked them in effect what was the result of the work He had been doing. Their answers were remarkable, but none of them, reporting the opinions of the multitude, satisfied His heart, and He challenged them as to their opinion. Peter's confession opened the way for the King's entry upon His final work. He had fulfilled the first movement of His ministry, that of revealing to at least a handful of souls the truth concerning His Person, and His relation to the Divine economy. Henceforth there would be a new note in His teaching, a further revelation in His attitudes.
The Passion of the King
The King practically broke with the multitudes at Caesarea Philippi. Henceforward His principal work was directed to leading the little group of His own into deeper appreciation of the meaning of His mission. The multitudes, however, perpetually broke in upon His teaching, and He always answered them in blessing. With regard to His own. His teaching now centred around the Cross. At once they became afraid, and a distance between Him and them is observable. To three of their number He granted a marvellous revelation of His glory. Yet even there the central thought was that of the Cross. During the days that followed all the disciples' preconceived notions of royalty, of greatness, of the value of material things, were rudely shaken as He declared to them the way to the crown must be that of the Cross. Yet let it be carefully observed that He never mentioned the Cross without also announcing the fact of resurrection.
As the end approached, the King went to Jerusalem. All Old Testament history, from Abraham, culminated in that hour. For long years the greatness of the Hebrew people as a nation had passed away. The Roman eagles were spread above the standards of their own national life. To them the long-expected King had come, enunciating the laws of the Kingdom, exhibiting its benefits, enforcing its claims. They had rejected the laws, despised the benefits, refused to yield to the claims. At last the King quietly, majestically, authoritatively rejected them. With quiet precision He prepared to enter the city, and, having arrived, occupied the throne of judgment, uttering words of righteous discrimination, dealing with all objections until they were silenced. Thereupon He pronounced the final woes, and uttered the inevitable sentence.
Having officially rejected the nation, He again devoted special time to His disciples. His action in Jerusalem had strangely puzzled them. He had offended the rulers past the possibility of reconciliation, and with a dignity which must have appalled His own, had flung the whole ruling class away. They came to Him with an incoherent outbreak of questioning: "When shall these things be? and what shall be the sign of Thy coming, and of the end of the age?" Whatever they meant by these questions, the King treated their inquiry as threefold: first, concerning "these things"; secondly, concerning His coming; finally, concerning the "end of the age." The King Who had been rejected by His own, and Who in turn had rejected them in their national capacity, manifested nothing of doubt, nothing of disappointment, nothing of discouragement. From the midst of apparent failure and disaster He quietly and calmly surveyed the ages, claiming for Himself the position of continual supremacy.
For us the Via Dolorosa is always bathed in the sunlight of the resurrection. It is a little difficult to observe those dark and awful days in which the earthly ministry of the King ended. The ultimate victory is always sounding its triumphant music in our ears. And yet we must walk this way with Him meditatively, and in some senses experimentally, if we would share the travail that makes His Kingdom come. Therefore, as we read and ponder the tragic story, let us pray for such illumination of His sorrows by the Spirit as shall give us to have some fuller consciousness of the cost at which our royal Master won the glorious victory. In proportion as we are able to do this, our songs of triumph will be richer, fuller, when striking death to death, He comes forth, never again to know defeat, but to move with sure and unerring progress to the ultimate victories.
A solemn awe takes possession of the spirit as the final movements in the progress of the King are considered. No more radiant light ever fell from human love upon the sorrowing Christ than that of Mary's appreciation of His sorrow as expressed in her act of worship, and no more terrible darkness ever came to Him from human selfishness than that of Judas' treachery. A sad and solemn gathering, yet thrilling with hope, and merging in music, was the passover feast. There the types and shadows of the past had their fitting ending in the presence of the Antitype and the Substance.
And now the King passed into the darkness. We cannot accompany Him. We may reverently stand upon its outer margin, and listen with bowed heads to the sob of the unutterable deep, as in a death-grapple in the darkness, He took hold upon the spoiler of His people. In the garden the last shadows of temptation fell, and the final triumph of devotion was won. Terrible beyond all human comprehension was that to which the King passed. Glorious beyond all finite explanation was the stern triumph of the will which yielded itself at cost to the accomplishment of the One and only Will. That vast sea of sorrow broke in angry and hissing waves upon the shore, and from that surf we gain some faint and far-off notion of the sea. Then solemnly we follow Him by reading again and again the awful story of the mind of love, stronger than death.
All sorts and conditions of men were gathered about the Cross, and though at the moment they did not realize it, it was in their midst, the King's great throne, at once a throne of judgment and a throne of grace. From it they parted, some to the right, others to the left, according as they crowned or crucified.
Man's last and worst was done. The King was dead. From the moment of His dying none but tender hands touched Him, and from the moment of His burial none but loving eyes saw Him.
The night has passed, the day has dawned. A new glory is on the whole creation. It will be long years, as men count time, ere the groaning cease, and the sob is hushed, but the deepest pain is passed in His pain, and the wound of humanity is staunched at its centre. Strange new glories break in the dawning of the first day of the week.
The King's followers, discouraged and scattered, were gathered together, while a new heroism possessed them. For one brief while He tarried, and at last, with a majesty of authority such as man had never known. He uttered His commission, and declared His abiding presence.
Reverently, and with meaning such as mortals never knew, there pass our lips in His presence words often uttered, but never before with such confidence or courage, "Long live the King," and in answer we hear His words spoken, a little later, to a lonely man in an island of the sea, "I am alive for evermore."
PART A: HIS PERSON - Matthew 1:1-4:16
A.1. His Relation to Earth - Matt. 1:1-3:12
- Genealogy - 1:1-1:17
- Birth - 1:18-2:23
- Herald - 3:1-3:12
A.2. His Relation to Heaven - Matt. 3:13-3:17
A.3. His Relation to Hell - Matt. 4:1-4:11
A.4. Connecting 3:17 with 11:2 - Matt. 4:12-4:16
Part B: HIS PROPAGANDA - Matthew 4:17-16:20
B.1. His Enunciation of Laws - Matt. 4:17-7:29
- A Nucleus Gathered - 4:17-4:25
- The Manifesto - 5:1-7:29
- The Nature. Character - 5:1-5:12
- The Purpose. Influence - 5:13-5:16
- The Laws - 5:17-6:34
- The Dynamic - 7:1-7:12
- The Final Words - 7:13-7:29
B.2. His Exhibition of Benefits - Matt. 8:1-9:34
- First Manifestation and Result - 8:1-8:22
- Second Manifestation and Result - 8:23-9:17
- Third Manifestation and Result - 9:18-9:34
B.3. His Enforcement of Claims - Matt. 9:35-16:20
- The Twelve - 9:35-11:30
- Conflict with Rulers - 12:1-12:50
- Parables of the Kingdom - 13:1-13:52
- Increasing Opposition - 13:53-16:12
- The Confession of Peter - 16:13-16:20
Part C: HIS PASSION - Matthew 16:21-28:20
C.1. His Cross and His Subjects - Matt. 16:21-20:34
- The Cross and the Glory - 16:21-16:28
- The Glory and the Cross - 17:1-17:21
- The Cross and the Resurrection - 17:22-17:23
- Instructions to His Disciples - 17:24-18:35
- (The Multitudes - 19:1-19:22)
- Instructions to His Disciples - 19:23-20:28
- (The Multitudes - 20:29-20:34)
C.2. His Rejection of the Hebrew Nation - Matt. 21:1-23:39
- The Entry - 21:1-21:17
- Opposition and Parabolic Denunciation - 21:18-22:46
- The Final Woes - 23:1-23:36
- Withdrawal - 23:37-23:39
C.3. His Predictions to His Subjects - Matt. 24:1-25:46
- The Disciples Questions - 24:1-24:3
- The Detailed Answers - 24:4-25:46
C.4. His Passion - Matt. 26:1-28:20
- Preliminary - 26:1-26:30
- The Suffering - 26:31-27:66
- The Triumph - 28:1-28:20
Note: To the best of our knowledge we are of the understanding that the above material, being published in 1907 and freely available elsewhere on the internet in various formats, is in the public domain.