This Bible Study is part of the "The Gospel of Matthew" series. See other Bible Studies which are part of this series
The Kingdom of God is awesome! The opportunity to be born as a very son of God in the soon—coming resurrection from the dead is so much more important than all the other things in this world—all the other things in your life—that there is absolutely no comparison. We need to seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness, as Jesus tells us in Matthew 6.
Greetings, friends around the world!
We are going through the book of Matthew, almost verse by verse, and hopefully opening your mind to truths you may never have understood. I had the privilege of teaching a class on the Gospels for nearly thirty-five years. I have been able to go into all kinds of technical points. I have been faced with questions, hard questions, from very intelligent young people in college. And I have been able to study them, dig them out and give the answers. I hope I can give answers, and the truth of the Bible, to you in a way you have never understood before. So open your minds. Go get your Bible, if you have one. I hope you will check up on me. Notice what Jesus actually said in the Bible. This is hard for most people; often what they have heard is not what the Bible says at all! You have to read the Bible. Jesus told us that we need to study the Word of God. God tells us through the Apostle Paul in I Thess. 5:21 to "prove all things." Do that! Prove all things and hold fast that which is good.
We are in Matthew 13. We came to verse 46 last time, talking about the "pearl of great price." The Kingdom of God is awesome! The opportunity to be born as a very son of God in the soon-coming resurrection from the dead is so much more important than all the other things in this world-all the other things in your life—that there is absolutely no comparison. We need to seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness, as Jesus tells us in Matthew 6. The "pearl of great price" parable shows us that. This man gave up everything to achieve one great goal! This is the goal you should set for yourself—fulfilling the purpose for which your Creator called you.
"Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a dragnet that was cast into the sea and gathered some of every kind."
All kinds of people are called. Some respond to the call, and some don't. Some who come into the Church don't understand; they just come along for whatever reason, but they don't get it—they don't respond and they don't grow in grace and in knowledge.
"Which, when it was full, they drew to shore; and they sat down and gathered the good into vessels, but threw the bad away."
The bad things were thrown away. Certain ones who are coming along have some knowledge but are not really surrendered to God at all. So God throws away the bad.
"So it will be at the end of the age. The angels will come forth, separate the wicked from among the just, [Yes, there is a separation, there is a judgment. It is not all nicey-nice where everyone just automatically floats into God's Kingdom. We had better "shape up or ship out." Christ is very plain about this!] and cast them into the furnace of fire. There will be wailing and gnashing of teeth."
There is not "universal salvation"! Some will fail to fulfill the purpose for which they were created. We need to understand true Christianity.
Before we get further into this commentary, I want to offer you a powerful booklet: Restoring Apostolic Christianity. Most of you have never understood the Christianity of Christ. I grew up in a mainstream church and I went to Sunday school. I was president of my Sunday school class for a while. Both my parents graduated from a college run by that church. Nevertheless, we did not understand the Bible at all; nor did my friends from other Protestant denominations. They were wandering around wondering "what's up?" We would have long talks, but no one understood. This booklet tells you about true Apostolic Christianity! So ask for this booklet, which we offer absolutely free and without obligation. It will open your mind to what the Christianity of Christ, the Christianity of the Apostles, is all about. It's not just about "giving your heart to the Lord." This goes way beyond what most of you have ever understood, so don't be afraid and think "I am just going to get some stupid sentiment." No, you are not! You are going to get facts and information from this booklet that you have probably never understood. Contact us, and this booklet will be sent to you absolutely free upon your request.
Continuing ahead, we read:
Jesus said to them, "Have you understood all these things?"… Then He said to them, "Therefore every scribe instructed concerning the kingdom of heaven is like a householder who brings out of his treasure things new and old." [You bring out old things that people have understood and new insights and so forth as well.] Now it came to pass, when Jesus had finished these parables, that He departed from there. And when He had come to His own country, [He came right back to Nazareth where He had grown up.] He taught them in their synagogue, so that they were astonished and said, "Where did this Man get this wisdom and these mighty works? ["Who gives you the right to be right" they said to Him. They say that to us; "Who gives you the right to be right? You are not a member of some big denomination with all kinds of appellations after your name."] Is this not the carpenter's son? [Jesus had just grown up as a carpenter in His father's home.] Is not His mother called Mary? And His brothers [Notice He had brothers.] James, Joses, Simon, and Judas? [So, Mary as a normal, good wife—as God intended her to be—had other children. She had FOUR other sons.] And His sisters [plural], are they not all with us?"
So Mary had at least two daughters. The family may have been a family of seven or may have been a family of nine or ten—we don't know how many daughters Mary had.
"…Where then did this Man get all these things?" [Who gives him the right to be right?] So they were offended at Him. But Jesus said to them, "A prophet is not without honor except in his own country and in his own house."
Among those who grew up with us or our relatives we often tend to think: "Well, here is old George; who is he, and how can he know anything?" That is often our attitude.
Now He did not do many mighty works there because of their unbelief.
Not His unbelief— their unbelief! God will not perform mighty works, normally, among people who were swearing and smirking and in an attitude of doubt and in an attitude of disbelief. He may perform mighty works in bringing terrible plagues and so on to SHAKE people at times; which He is going to do over the next few years. But these kinds of mighty works—healing and blessing and so on—were normally not brought forth because of people's unbelief. That is one reason we do not find more mighty works being done today—because our whole society is permeated with all kinds of attitudes against the idea of a real God. So we want to understand. We have to learn about that real God.
Now let's continue in Matthew, chapter 14:
At that time Herod the tetrarch heard the report about Jesus and said to his servants, "This is John the Baptist; he is risen from the dead, and therefore these powers are at work in him." For Herod had laid hold of John and bound him, and put him in prison for the sake of Herodias, his brother Philip's wife.
Herod had married his brother's wife. That was wrong! That was not only adultery; it was incest.
Because John had said to him, "It is not lawful for you to have her."
As you will see in the following verses, when Herod's birthday was celebrated, his daughter was dancing some very unusual, very sensuous dance, no doubt. She pleased Herod in his drunken orgy. He promised her anything—up to half the kingdom. She asked for the head of John the Baptist. Herod did not want to kill John, for he sensed John was a righteous man, but he killed him anyway for the sake of his oath.
When Jesus heard it, He departed from there by boat to a deserted place by Himself. [The indication is that He wanted to get away and think and pray. Remember, He was still in the flesh. His cousin, John the Baptist, had just had his head chopped off. So Jesus went off by Himself to have prayer and maybe fasting—time to contemplate what was happening.] But when the multitudes heard it, they followed Him on foot from the cities. [They came right after Him. Instead of getting mad, He wanted to serve them.] And when Jesus went out He saw a great multitude; and He was moved with compassion for them, and healed their sick. [He had great compassion, out-flowing concern for these people.] When it was evening, His disciples came to Him, saying, "This is a deserted place, and the hour is already late. Send the multitudes away…"
Then we find the story of Jesus turning the five loaves into a multitude of food for these people.
So they all ate and were filled, and they took up twelve baskets full of the fragments that remained. Now those who had eaten were about five thousand men, besides women and children.
Can you imagine that? If they had big families and many of their families were with them, which they probably were, they might have had 15,000 to 25,000 people there if each family had three or four kids. We don't know. But undoubtedly, at least 10,000 to 25,000 people were fed by these five loaves and two fishes. This was awesome! This was an act of the Son of God. This was not an everyday miracle.
Immediately Jesus made His disciples get into the boat and go before Him to the other side, while He sent the multitudes away. And when He had sent the multitudes away, He went up on the mountain by Himself to pray…
Prayer is where Jesus got this power. He was God in the flesh, but He was in the flesh. The Bible makes that very clear. It tells us back in Hebrews 4 that "Jesus was tempted in all points as like as we are, yet without sin"—without sin. He was tempted in every way. He needed to refresh His contact with God, so He went into a mountain by Himself to pray.
…Now when evening came, He was alone there. But the boat was now in the middle of the sea, tossed by the waves, for the wind was contrary. Now in the fourth watch of the night Jesus went to them, walking on the sea.
The fourth watch of the night would have been 3:00 a.m. to 6:00 a.m.! This indicates that if Jesus started praying at 9:00 p.m. or 10:00 p.m., He might have been praying most of the time from 9:00 p.m. to 3:00 a.m. the next morning. He was pouring out His being to the Creator God—getting close to God, walking with God and communing with God, His Father. That was the source of Jesus' incredible power—prayer and fasting and yielding Himself to God—obeying God and walking with God hour by hour and minute by minute.
…walking on the sea. And when the disciples saw Him walking on the sea, they were troubled, saying, "It is a ghost!" And they cried out for fear. But immediately Jesus spoke to them, saying, "Be of good cheer! It is I; do not be afraid." And Peter answered Him and said, "Lord, if it is You, command me to come to You on the water."
Peter was the leader. He was always the one speaking forth quickly, taking the initiative and doing things before the others. Yet at times he was impetuous; at times he made mistakes, as we all do. But here, he set forth first.
"…command me to come to You on the water." And when Peter had come down out of the boat, he walked on the water. But when he saw that the wind was boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink.…
That is a big lesson for all us. We have to keep our minds on Christ! We have to keep our minds on the reality that there is a great God working out a purpose here below and that God is intervening in human affairs. Even now, as I speak to you, God is bringing about His prophecies. God does intervene. He does heal the sick. He does prepare the way for the coming Kingdom of God on this earth. He does give us His Holy Spirit and helps us if we yield to Him. But we have to have faith and trust—absolute faith in God.
But when he saw that the wind was boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink he cried out, saying, "Lord, save me!" And immediately Jesus stretched out His hand and caught him, and said to him, "O you of little faith, why did you doubt?"
That is something we need to think about. He said to Peter "Why did you doubt?" He might say to us, "Why do you doubt?" We must have faith and trust in God. We must drink in of this Word. This Word tells us in Romans 10:17: "Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God."
I hope this program can help you have faith. God says that Jesus Christ "is the same yesterday, today and forever." God's Word tells us that in Hebrews 13:8. Christ is the same today; He has that same power. He can help you overcome the elements. He can heal you, guide you and deliver you—if you can keep your eyes on the true Christ of the Bible and put your faith and trust in Him.
And when they got into the boat, the wind ceased. Then those who were in the boat…
They saw Jesus walking on the waters, then He got in the boat and the big old wind just stopped—like a fan. Suddenly, in that silent moment, Christ was standing right next to them and they realized: "Wow! This guy we know, and who we think is just like us most of the time, was walking on the water and even had Peter walking on the water! Then the wind stopped when He got into the boat." Their hearts begin to pound and cold sweat began to go down their backs. They were astonished and fearful in sensing the presence of the Creator of the heavens and the earth! They realized the power of God.
…came and worshiped Him, saying, "Truly You are the Son of God." When they had crossed over, they came to the land of Gennesaret. And when the men of that place recognized Him, they sent out into all that surrounding region, brought to Him all who were sick, and begged Him that they might only touch the hem of His garment. And as many as touched it [the hem of His garment] were made perfectly [whole].
Why? Because Jesus Christ, Himself, had prayed most of that night, getting closer and closer to God. Most don't even begin to follow the things Jesus taught in this book. They profess Christianity, but they don't understand because they are blinded.
We will continue next time, making this book very, very plain. I hope you will follow us always in your Bible—check up and go over these things later. Follow along, study and prove all things to yourself—and hold fast that which is good.
This is Roderick Meredith for the Living Church of God.