Expositions in Matthew
“Salvation and Judgment in the Book of Matthew”
When our Lord came into this world He came to save: “you shall be calling His name Jesus, for He shall be saving His people from their sins” (1:21). This promise is a most important declaration of God’s intention. It forms a solid basis for all that is recorded throughout the book of Matthew. Indeed it must never be forgotten in the midst of stern warnings and fearful events, least of all in the account of the evil and darkness surrounding the rejection and crucifixion of this One Who came to save.
“The Voice of One Imploring”
Because the kingdom had drawn near it was not only appropriate but necessary for John and the Lord to point to the day of indignation which must precede the blessings of Christ’s rule. Indeed, the establishment of the kingdom is associated with judgments of “fire unextinguished” (Matt.3:12). It is not, however, an “unextinguishable” fire. The Greek adjective here indicates merely that the fire will not be quenched by anyone. It is not that it is some kind of super-blaze that must burn on endlessly, but rather it will burn without interference until it has burned up the “chaff” that fuels it.
“Astonished at His Teaching”
John had announced the nearness of the kingdom (Matt.3:2), but the kingdom with its deliverance from the many evils of present life did not immediately appear. The death of Christ as a basis for all the blessings of the kingdom must occur first. When our Lord receives the rule it will be as the Saviour Who does not only save and bless, but Who does so on a firm basis established by God.
“If the Lord is Willing”
In His sermon on the mount, Jesus spoke of the kingdom and the blessings for those who heard and heeded His words. But it is evident, not only in looking back at the failure of Israel but at our own experience of weakness and sin as well, that no one can achieve the perfection described in Matthew 5:17-48 apart from God’s deliverance from sin. The words of Matthew 5-7 only make the promise of Matthew 1:21 more clearly necessary. There must be One Who saves from sin.
“Lord! Save Us!”
The disciples were right in going to Jesus for salvation, but they were wrong in their lack of confidence in the Saviour. We must not suppose that the Saviour is concerned only in saving from small sins. The fact that Jesus was the Saviour of these disciples from the churning sea and will save them from all their sins, including that of unbelief, is evidence for, not proof against, the eventual salvation of the unbelieving leaders of Israel from their sins including the sins of unbelief and enmity.
“In the Day of Judging”
The good news of the nearness of the kingdom was qualified by limitations and sober warnings through much of our Lord’s ministry to Israel. The message spoke of glory to come, but it was directed to the nation of Israel alone (Matt.10:5,6; 15:24), with the prediction that only a few would follow the teachings set forth (Matt.7:14). And judgment leading to severe losses and lamentations lay ahead for those who opposed or simply failed to heed the word.
“Lest They Perceive”
The way in which our Lord conducted His ministry to Israel is full of surprises. The disciples were told not to herald the kingdom to anyone except “the lost sheep of the house of Israel” (Matt.10:5). Now in Matthew 13 Jesus speaks to the crowds in parables, and in fact, “apart from a parable He spoke nothing to them” (13:34). He changes His emphasis from the nearness of the kingdom to the secrets of the kingdom which are made known only to the disciples (13:11).
“The Lost Sheep of Israel”
Jesus was commissioned to the house of Israel. He was commissioned to them, and He was not commissioned to anyone else. Jesus was commissioned to one people only, and they were a people who were lost (Matt.15:24). Furthermore, most shocking of all, this one, lost people to whom Jesus was commissioned to seek and to save (cf Matt.1:21; 2:6; Luke 19:10), remain, as a whole, unsaved!
“This Generation” (Matthew 24:34); with supplementary article
Jesus declared to His disciples: “Verily I am saying to you that by no means may this generation be passing by till all these things should be occurring” (Matt.24:34). We may be assured that the Lord meant what He said here; and, what He said here is quite explicit. Still, while it is indeed important for us to believe what He said, the deeper question remains: In what sense is what He said to be understood.
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