Bible Study


The Gospel of Matthew - Program 10

Roderick C. Meredith (1930-2017)

This Bible Study is part of the "The Gospel of Matthew" series. See other Bible Studies which are part of this series

Back then, people knew how to fast. People today don't talk much about fasting. It is not a very popular subject in our affluent society. When people these days do fast, they often have a "water fast" or a "juice fast." Back then, a religious fast consisted of fresh air and sunshine—no food and no water whatsoever. They fasted in order to humble themselves and get closer to God—at least that was the right purpose of fasting.

Greetings, friends around the world!

This is Roderick Meredith, speaking to you again for the Living Church of God, and bringing you this commentary on the book of Matthew. We have come to the middle of Matthew 9.

Matt. 9:14

Then the disciples of John came to Him, saying, "Why do we and the Pharisees fast often, but Your disciples do not fast?"

Back then, people knew how to fast. People today don't talk much about fasting. It is not a very popular subject in our affluent society. When people these days do fast, they often have a "water fast" or a "juice fast." Back then, a religious fast consisted of fresh air and sunshine—no food and no water whatsoever. They fasted in order to humble themselves and get closer to God—at least that was the right purpose of fasting.

Matt. 9:15

And Jesus said to them, "Can the friends of the bridegroom mourn as long as the bridegroom is with them? But the days will come when the bridegroom will be taken away from them, and then they will fast."

Jesus Christ was the bridegroom, the One who was to marry the Church. As long as He was among them, they did not need to fast to get closer to the invisible God. God was with them in the flesh—Emmanuel, "God with us!" That is who Jesus Christ was! So they did not need to fast to get closer to God. But Christ said: "The time will come when they will fast." That time is now. Jesus is not here physically, and we must fast from time to time to really get close to Almighty God.

Matt. 9:16

"No one puts a piece of unshrunk cloth on an old garment; for the patch pulls away from the garment, and the tear is made worse." [You are mixing two different kind of things here.] Nor do they put new wine into old wineskins, or else the wineskins break, the wine is spilled, and the wineskins are ruined. But they put new wine [when you have new wine that is not fermented, it is not expanded yet] into new wine skins and both are preserved."

In other words, He is telling us not to try to mix His teachings with the teachings of the world. When you become "in Christ", you become a new creature. II Cor. 5:17 gives us the principle:

II Cor. 5:17

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.

A Christian's whole attitude toward fasting, the reason for fasting and the way of fasting is different. We don't fast like the Pharisees. We don't fast even like the disciples of John. We fast now as disciples of Jesus Christ and have a deeper and more profound understanding of how to fast and why to fast.

Matt. 9:16-17

'…they put new wine into new wineskins, and both are preserved." While He spoke these things to them, behold, a ruler came and worshiped Him, saying, "My daughter has just died, but come and lay Your hand on her and she will live."

As I said in the last program, healing often involves the laying on of hands—God working through human instruments. This Jewish leader knew that. "Just lay your hand on her," he said. This man had FAITH. He was not following Christ. He was scared. Often when people are scared, they will finally turn to God and finally wake up! I am afraid it will have to be that way for many of us in the United States and Canada and elsewhere—we will have to be humbled and get scared and only then become awake and begin to obey God. This man finally cried out to God, through Jesus Christ, for help.

Matt. 9:18-26

So Jesus arose and followed him, and so did His disciples. And suddenly, a woman who had a flow of blood for twelve years came from behind and touched the hem of His garment. For she said to herself, "If only I may touch His garment, I shall be made well." [She sensed that He was a great prophet or maybe she knew He was the Son of God.] "If only I may touch His garment…" But Jesus turned around, and when He saw her He said, "Be of good cheer, daughter; your faith has made you well." [She had faith—if she could just touch His garment and Jesus, through the Spirit of God, sensed that absolute faith.] And the woman was made well from that hour. When Jesus came into the ruler's house, and saw the flute players and the noisy crowd wailing, He said to them, "Make room, for the girl is not dead, but sleeping." [Well, she was sleeping in the sense she was temporarily dead. But, of course, they knew she was physically dead. She was and they checked her pulse and her heart and all that, I am sure—they knew that back then. They knew she was DEAD!] And they ridiculed Him. [Just scornful, rotten laughter, put down. "You crazy idiot, why are you saying that?"—they were saying to Christ in effect.] But when the crowd was put outside, [Notice, you get rid of the doubters and the scoffers. He put them out.] He went in and took her by the hand, and the girl arose. And the report of this went out into all that land.

He had raised this young woman from the dead! He was the Son of God.

Matt. 9:27-28

When Jesus departed from there, two blind men followed Him, crying out and saying, "Son of David, have mercy on us!" [He was that special, prophesied son of David and they knew that.] And when He had come into the house,…

Jesus did not have some great big tent meeting to try and show off healings in front of huge crowds. Sometimes He did heal in front of crowds, but that was not His motive and He did not make a big show of it. There was not a lot of whooping and hollering when He healed. He just asked God quietly to heal. So these two men came into the house, where it was more private, and Jesus said:

Matt. 9:28-30

"Do you believe that I am able to do this?" They said to Him, "Yes, Lord."

Then He touched their eyes, saying, [again, the laying on of hands] "According to your faith let it be to you." And their eyes were opened. And Jesus sternly warned them, saying, "See that no one knows it."

He was not trying to show off. "According to your faith let it be to you." We need to develop faith that there is a real God and that this real God is the same God that was the God of Jesus Christ of Nazareth. We need to have faith that Jesus is the same, and God is the same, yesterday, today and forever. They ARE the Great God, They have power; They will heal if we can have faith. They will soon intervene in human affairs—and we had better believe that, too.

Matt. 9:31-34

But when they had departed, they spread the news about Him in all that country. [They didn't obey Him; they just went out.] As they went out, behold, they brought to Him a man, mute and demon-possessed. [Here was a man with a demon and unable to speak.] And when the demon was cast out, the mute spoke. And the multitudes marveled, saying, "It was never seen like this in Israel!" [God had never had a problem like that before.] But the Pharisees said, "He casts out demons by the ruler of the demons."

They said that He was casting out demons by Satan the Devil. What a rotten thing to say! Yet down through time, who have often been the greatest opponents of God's true ministers? Other religious leaders! They can't stand it! They were jealous of Christ, and they claimed that He cast out demons by the Devil himself.

Matt. 9:35

Then Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues, preaching [Preaching what—about the little Lord Jesus away in a manger? No!] preaching the gospel of the kingdom…

It was the Gospel of the coming good news, or Government of God on this earth, which He was preaching about. And He will bring soon, in many of our lifetimes, the good news of the Kingdom!

Matt. 9:35

…and healing every sickness and every disease among the people.

It did not make any difference what sickness it was. Today we have Epstein-Barr disease and AIDS, and we have the Ebola virus. Other viruses, too, are going to be coming on our peoples. We have to realize, again, that it doesn't make any difference to God! God has all the power there is. He can heal those ailments and will heal those ailments for His true servants when the time comes. So we had better learn to get close to God; we had better know God and walk with God, as we are entering into the last days.

Matt. 9:36

But when He saw the multitudes, He was moved with compassion for them,

He had a great out-flowing concern for these people because they were weary and scattered like sheep having no shepherd, just like most people are today. People today are wandering around; they go to this church and that church and the "church of their choice." They don't go to the church of God's choice, because most of them are blinded and don't know what to do. They just follow whatever they were taught as they grew up. Most people don't go to any church at all! In fact, two-thirds of humanity does not claim any kind of Christianity. Only about one-third of all human beings even claim to be any kind of a Christian. Most people don't know God; they just take part in some other religion or no religion at all.

Matt. 9:37

Then He said to His disciples, "The harvest truly is plentiful, but the laborers are few. [Very few true servants of God.] Therefore pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest."

We need to ask God to call more true ministers and more true servants to help back up the very Work of God.

Matt. 10:1

And when He had called His twelve disciples to Him, He gave them power over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal all kinds of sickness and all kinds of disease.

Some have said: "Well, Jesus was just doing these healings to show that He was the Son of God." That was one reason, but there were also other men to whom He gave this power. Later we read in Luke 10 that He gave this same power to seventy others besides the 12 Apostles. No human beings can heal like that, but it can be done if Christ gives them the power and shows them that it is His will to work in this way.

Matt. 10:2, 5-6

Now the names of the twelve apostles are [then he names the twelve Apostles]… These twelve Jesus sent out and commanded them, saying: "Do not go into the way of the Gentiles, and do not enter a city of the Samaritans. But go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel."

He said: "Go and find the people who are of Israel and cut off." Today we have discovered that the so-called "Lost Ten Tribes" of Israel live primarily in the United States, Canada, Britain, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and the democratic, peace-loving nations of northwestern Europe. The House of Joseph, the BIRTHRIGHT nation who was to get the great birthright blessing, is primarily the people in the American and British-descended nations.

Matt. 10:7-8

"And as you go, preach, saying, 'The kingdom of heaven is at hand.' [Preach the Gospel of God's coming government.] "Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, [I often put those three things together as part of healing, because healing the sick, or course, and cleansing the lepers are the same thing—that is just part of healing. Raising the dead is restoring people's health or restoring their bodies back to physical life.] cast out demons."

The "big three" are mentioned many times. The "big three" things that Jesus told His disciples over and over were to preach the Gospel, heal the sick and cast out demons.

Matt. 10:8

"Freely you have received, freely give."

Are we to charge for the literature that we send out? No. We are not to charge for preaching the Gospel, and we don't do that.

Matt. 10:9-10

"Provide neither gold nor silver nor copper in your money belts, nor bag for your journey, nor two tunics, nor sandals, nor staffs; for a worker is worthy of his food."

A minister is worthy, but is not to charge in that sense for what he is doing. God has provided the tithing system, but He does not ask us to charge for individual sermons, or individual pieces of literature, or anything sent by the Work.

Matt. 10:11-15

"Now whatever city or town you enter, inquire who in it is worthy, and stay there till you go out. And when you go into a household, greet it. If the household is worthy, let your peace come upon it. But if it is not worthy, let your peace return to you."[In other words, let a blessing come on a household that will take you in and take care of you.] "And whoever will not receive you nor hear your words, when you depart from that house or city, shake off the dust from your feet. Assuredly, I say to you, it will be more tolerable [listen to this, my friends] for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah in the day of judgment than for that city!"

Here were people who had the chance to hear the true Gospel of God, the message of God. Yes, these people in Sodom and Gomorrah were evil, they were degenerate, but they did not have that opportunity. They had no knowledge. So it will be easier for them in the day of judgment than for a people who really knew about the Truth and rejected it even though they had it right in front of them.

Matt. 10:16

"Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves. Therefore be wise as serpents and harmless as doves."

We are to be wise as serpents. Don't be stupid. Think about what you are doing. Think about persecution. Think about how to reason with the carnal mind that is not interested; learn to "talk their talk." But don't do what they do. Don't hurt people, don't tear them down. Always build them up.

Matt. 10:17-18

"But beware of men, for they will deliver you up to councils and scourge you in their synagogues. You will be brought before governors and kings for My sake, as a testimony to them and to the Gentiles."

It did not say that God's servants would come before leaders at some "happy time"—they will be brought. When the Apostle Paul finally came before Caesar; he was brought before Caesar in chains! Nevertheless, he did get to go before Caesar. He did get to go before Festus and King Agrippa and some of those men when he was taken away from the Jews. He was brought before them and gave them a witness to the way of the Gospel of the Kingdom of God, and to the purpose of life.

That's all we will cover until next time.

This is Roderick Meredith, speaking for the Living Church of God.