This Bible Study is part of the "The Gospel of Matthew" series. See other Bible Studies which are part of this series
Yes, the Ten Commandments are God's character. Will you obey what Christ taught, or will you allow men to deceive you with clever words to turn you away from true Christianity? At the very end of Jesus' ministry, after His resurrection—after everything was nailed to the cross that was nailed there—Jesus then came and talked to His disciples saying…
Greetings, friends around the world!
This is Roderick C. Meredith, bringing you this commentary on the Gospel of Matthew. We have come through the entire book in this commentary. We are very grateful to have been able to go through this with you and to share with you the experiences of some thirty years teaching the Gospel class at Ambassador College. I hope you have gained some insights into the book of Matthew you may have not had before.
Now I want to give you something special here at the very end of our series. I hope it will be very special and very helpful to every one of you. I want to give you an overview of the highlights of this book, to help you grasp what Christ taught. I wish I could give you twice as many highlights, but time won't permit that.
So open up to the book of Matthew, and let's go through some of the very key points that Jesus Christ taught. Notice the beginning of Jesus' ministry back in Matthew 4:23. Follow along in your Bible—turn to the scriptures with me—and you will enjoy this. You will learn from it.
"And Jesus went about all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the gospel of the kingdom…"
From the very beginning, Jesus was preaching the Gospel of the Kingdom of God—the Kingdom of Heaven, as it is sometimes called. It is not the Kingdom in Heaven—it is not Mr. Morgan's piggy bank. "The Bank of Morgan" doesn't mean that Mr. Morgan swallowed his piggy bank. It is not the bank in Morgan. It is the bank of Morgan. Morgan controls it. It is the Kingdom of Heaven. Heaven is God's throne. God controls that Kingdom. Jesus went all over, preaching the Gospel of the Kingdom.
"…and healing all kinds of sickness and all kinds of disease among the people."
These two activities were put together. Jesus would preach the Truth of God, and He would heal the sick, showing not only God's power to forgive sin spiritually, but his taking away the penalty—the suffering, the sickness, the terrible feelings of physical mistakes—the physical sins if you would call them that. One is a type of the other. Jesus healed all sickness and disease.
"Then His fame went throughout all Syria; and they brought to Him all sick people who were afflicted with various diseases and torments, and those who were demon-possessed, epileptics, and paralytics; and He healed them."
He healed every sickness and every disease, and then cast out unclean spirits—fallen spirits who had followed Satan the Devil in his rebellion against God. Through the power of God, Jesus cast those out.
Then, in Matthew 5, we have the "Sermon on the Mount," as it is called.
"And seeing the multitudes, He went up on a mountain, and when He was seated His disciples came to Him. Then He opened His mouth and taught them, saying: 'Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.'"
Poor in spirit? That does not mean spiritually poor, but it means those who are broken, who are humble, who are willing to listen. Here, He went ahead explaining the right attitude.
"Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted. Blessed are the meek [Meek means "teachable"—willing to learn, and teachable like little children.]… Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness."
Are you hungering and thirsting for righteousness? These attitudes in a Christian will get us into the Kingdom of God.
"Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill."
"Fulfill" here means "to fill to the full." Jesus Christ came to magnify the Law. Isaiah 42:21 tells us that Christ was sent to "magnify the Law and make it holy." Did you ever put a magnifying glass on something? Magnifying does not destroy it, it simply makes it far bigger, and far more meaningful. You can see it all in its intricate parts. Jesus did that. He magnified God's Law. He showed the spiritual intent, the great spiritual purpose and the attitude in which we ought to keep it—not doing away with it all, but making it all the more binding.
"For assuredly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle [one little crossing of a "t" or dotting of an "i" in the Hebrew alphabet] will by no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled."
Every human being will have to learn to keep God's Law, or they won't be in God's Kingdom.
"Whoever therefore breaks one of the least of these commandments [Men often try to say the fourth commandment is the least and try to get rid of that one. Well, it does not make any difference which one you think is the least. ALL TEN are God's Commandments! They were written by the finger of God.], and teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever does and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven."
Christ talked about God's Law. He was certainly talking about the Ten Commandments. A little later He says: "Your righteousness has to exceed the righteousness of the Scribes and Pharisees."
"You have heard that it was said to those of old, 'You shall not murder,'" ["But I am telling you, you are not to even have the attitude of hate in your heart."]
You are not even to have the attitude of hate in your heart. You are not to think of murder. You are not to think of hatred. Yet our whole American society is filled with images of violence and death—spawning that type of attitude—and that is terrible.
Then He went into verse 27, where you will see more about the Ten Commandments.
"You have heard that it was said to those of old, 'You shall not commit adultery.'
[That was one of the Ten Commandments also.] But I say to you that whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart."
You are doing the act in your mind. You are running through it in your own mind, and in that way you are committing adultery—you are breaking the spirit of the Law.
Jesus magnified God's Law and made it holy. He tells us to keep it not only in the letter but in the spirit—which is even more difficult and even more meaningful because then we develop the very character of God! We learn to really love our neighbors as ourselves. We don't just barely keep ourselves back physically from killing or committing adultery. We don't even put those images in our minds. We don't think about it and wish we could do it. We get rid of the attitude. When we are made spirit beings in the very family of God, we won't have that kind of attitude in our hearts. That is what God wants.
"You have heard that it was said, 'You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.' [Some have taught that.] But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you."
Can you imagine men going to war and yet having that attitude? Of course, you can't! That is the exact antithesis of everything that Jesus Christ stood for. Warfare is the exact opposite of the teachings of Christ. So, Christ taught them a different way of life. Our so-called Christian civilization goes totally contrary to that over and over, as we have discussed.
In Matthew 6, He gives them a way of life.
"Take heed that you do not do your charitable deeds before men, to be seen by them. Otherwise you have no reward."
He tells you to help others, but to do so quietly—not trying to show off, not establishing some big foundation in your name to get a lot of human credit, but quietly giving and helping and serving.
"And when you pray."
He assumes that you would pray. A Christian must pray.
"…you shall not be like the hypocrites. For they love to pray [showing off to others]."
He says, "Don't repeat the same thing over and over using vain repetitions—memorized prayer—as you have been doing. Don't do that! Jesus commanded you to pray from the heart. Talk to God as your Father.
"Moreover, when you fast, do not be like the hypocrites, [showing off to men]."
He shows that you should be fasting, doing without food and water to seek the invisible God, to get closer to that God. Christians should be giving. They should be praying. They should be fasting. Jesus Christ here talks about a way of life that most Christians have never heard of—seeking God with their being.
Then He shows how we are not to be worrying about what we will eat or drink or put on—the clothes we will wear or where we will live.
"For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first [Have your mind on what is important.] the kingdom of God…"
Seek God's Kingdom. Seek God's way of life. Cry out for God to send Jesus back to this earth as King of kings. Do all you can to prepare for it personally and to help others know about it and learn the Truth. Seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness.
Back in Psalm 119:172, God says, "All Thy commandments are righteousness." That is what the commandments are. They are righteousness. God expresses His character through the Ten Commandments, so seek God's Kingdom and His character. Seek to express that righteousness by keeping God's Law.
"…all these things shall be added to you. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble."
Don't always worry about all the physical things. Seek God's Kingdom. He will take care of you.
"Not everyone who says to Me, 'Lord, Lord,' shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. Many will say to Me in that day, 'Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?' And then I will declare to them, 'I never knew you…'"
Preachers who preached in Christ's name will claim to have done great works in His name. Jesus will tell them in the judgment, "I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!" That, my friends, is the way it is worded right here in the New King James Version of your Bible—and in other versions. The Greek word is exactly that, anamos—against law. These preachers that say you don't have to keep God's Law—He said, "depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!" "You who have cheap grace, you who say, 'Just believe on Christ. Just give your heart to the Lord. Just accept Christ and that is all you have to do.'" What a lie that is! He is going to tell them, "Get out of here! I don't know you because you taught a way of life contrary to my Law—the very character of God." "You who practice lawlessness;" that is powerful stuff. Please understand this for your good.
"When evening had come[He was here teaching people.], they brought to Him many who were demon-possessed. And He cast out the spirits with a word, and healed all who were sick, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Isaiah the prophet, saying: 'He Himself took our infirmities and bore our sicknesses.'"
That prophecy was to be fulfilled in His body when He was beaten. He paid the penalty for our physical sickness, our suffering, our physical mistakes—our physical sin—and took that on Himself so that we could be healed. He preached the Gospel. He healed the sick. He cast out demons. He told His ministers to do the same thing. That is what ministers of Christ ought to be doing today, but very few do. Most of them don't even know the true Gospel, so they couldn't preach it and they certainly don't heal the sick and cast out real demons.
Matt. 10:1, 5-7
"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. [He sent them out and He names them.]…. 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. And as you go, preach, saying, "The kingdom of heaven is at hand."'"
Be aware. Be ready to enter the Kingdom of Heaven and the Kingdom of God. Kingdom means government.
"Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out demons."
He told them to them to do these things. So, He healed them. He told them to go out and heal people. First of all, preach the Gospel, then heal the sick.
"…cast out demons. Freely you have received, freely give."
This was the kind of ministry Jesus had, the kind of message He told them to preach and the kind of actions He told them to take.
Back in Matthew 19, a young man came to Christ and asked Him:
"Good Teacher, what good thing shall I do that I may have eternal life?" So He said to him…"
Jesus Christ is telling this young man how to enter eternal life. Was this to be all changed around after He died? Think about it! Who had the authority to change it all around, contrary to the Son of God?
"Why do you call Me good? No one is good but One, that is, God. But if you want to enter into life, keep the commandments.'"
That is the way. Let God build His character inside of you through the Holy Spirit. Let God fashion and mold you! Surrender your life to God so Christ can live His life in you through His Spirit!
"He said to Him, 'Which…' [and Jesus began to name some of the Ten Commandments] "'You shall not murder, You shall not commit adultery, You shall not steal, You shall not bear false witness, Honor your father and your mother…'"
Yes, the Ten Commandments are God's character. Will you obey what Christ taught, or will you allow men to deceive you with clever words to turn you away from true Christianity?
At the very end of Jesus' ministry, after His resurrection—after everything was nailed to the cross that was nailed there—Jesus then came and talked to His disciples saying…
"All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations [not just the Jews—all the nations], baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them [all the nations—the Chinese, the Russians, the Canadians, the Americans—everybody] to observe all things that I have commanded you."
We have just finished reviewing the fact that Jesus taught them constantly to keep the Ten Commandments and to obey God's Law—and that if they were lawless men, not teaching God's Law, they would be considered unknown by Christ. He said, "Go out and teach all nations this way of life.
"…teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you [Christ is the living, active Head of the true Church of God.] always, even to the end of the age."
He would be with them—guiding them, leading them and inspiring them. And He will be with—and guiding and leading and inspiring—us, helping and empowering us if we have the faith, the understanding and the courage to step out and do what Christ really taught.
At this point, I want to urge you to contact us and request our Tomorrow's World Bible Study Course. Just ask for the Bible Study Course. Click the "Order FREE" button on our Web site and the first four lessons will be sent to you. Then if you return the test after Lesson Four, you can keep right on. It is all free— all the way through. This Bible Study Course will open your eyes to literally hundreds of things in the Bible you have probably never understood before. Study this course. It is different. It does not tell you "Just give your heart to the Lord." It is filled with detailed information—historical information, technical information and information about the prophecies of the Bible and the whole purpose of human existence. So, request this free Bible study course right now. It can change your life.
It has been a privilege to be here with you for this series on the Gospel of Matthew. Let us know if you have appreciated it, and if you have learned from it. I hope that you will keep in touch with us, because in this same space here we will be covering other books in the Bible. Others will be covering other books of the Bible thoroughly. I look forward to covering the Gospel of John because it is so different than the book of Acts. Perhaps later I will cover the Epistles of Paul. So if you want to learn in detail, just keep watching right here. We are here to serve you. We are here to prepare for the Kingdom of God.
This is Roderick C. Meredith, speaking for the Living Church of God.