Life-Study of Matthewby Witness Lee
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry
In this message we come to 26:31-75, a long section in the Gospel of Matthew that is also related to the kingdom. The verses in this chapter regarding the Lord’s table indicate that the Lord’s death and resurrection have a great deal to do with the kingdom of the heavens. In these verses, however, we cannot find the resurrection, although we do have a clear reference to the Lord’s death in the breaking of the bread, which signifies the breaking of the Lord’s body. The Lord’s word about the pouring out of His blood (v. 28) is also an obvious reference to His death. Although there is no explicit mention of it, resurrection is implied by the fact that the bread signifies the Lord as our bread for our enjoyment. His death accomplished redemption for us, but He becomes our enjoyment through redemption in resurrection. When we come to the Lord’s table, we see on the table a symbol of the Lord’s death, but we remember Him, not in death, but in resurrection. In this remembrance we display His death. Both the Lord’s crucifixion and resurrection are for the kingdom. Apart from Christ’s crucifixion and resurrection, it is impossible for the kingdom to be established.
By our natural life it is not possible for us to be the kingdom people. This fact is made abundantly clear in 26:31-75. Here we have a picture of the arrest and judgment of Christ. This record reveals that no one can follow Christ on the pathway of the cross by the natural life. The King can take this pathway, but we in our natural life cannot. Therefore, the Lord must die for us and enter into resurrection for us. Through His death our negative situation is settled, and by His resurrection He is able to be taken in by us and even become us.
Years ago, I could not understand why in the record of the Lord’s arrest and judgment Matthew includes a long story about Peter’s denial of the Lord. I used to think that a few verses would have been sufficient to describe how Peter denied the Lord three times. But Matthew presents this in detail. It is important for us to see the significance of Peter’s denial. In chapter twenty-six the Lord Jesus and Peter stand in absolute contrast to each other. In every respect Jesus was able to pass through the pathway of the cross. But in every respect Peter was defeated in taking this pathway. All the other disciples, of course, were the same as Peter. If we see this matter clearly, we shall pay careful attention to Peter’s denial as well as to Christ’s victory.
What was Matthew’s main intention in 26:31-75—to unveil the victory of Christ or to expose the defeat of Peter? I believe that his intention was to present both—each in vivid contrast to the other. When we look at the Lord Jesus, we see complete success, but when we look at Peter, we see total defeat. For the establishment of the kingdom, Christ’s victory is necessary. He had to be victorious in every respect. At the same time, we must come to realize that we, as fallen human beings, are not able to be the kingdom people.
Do not have any trust in yourself. Peter is our representative. As far as our natural life is concerned, we are all Peter. For the kingdom of the heavens to be established, there was the need of a man like Jesus. Throughout chapter twenty-six, the Lord Jesus stood in the position of a man, not in the position of the Son of God. In order for the kingdom of the heavens to be established, He stood as a man, a successful man, a victorious man, as a man that could withstand any hardship, defeat, opposition, and attack.
As we consider this picture of the Lord Jesus, we should receive the clear impression that in our human life it is impossible for us to be the kingdom people. The twelve disciples had been under the Lord’s teaching and training for three and a half years. During this period of time, they were with the Lord constantly. Peter, a fisherman, was called in chapter four, and he began from that time onward to follow the Lord Jesus. The Lord took special care to train Peter in a particular way. Peter heard the decree of the constitution of the kingdom of the heavens, and he heard all the mysteries concerning the kingdom. He was trained concerning Christ’s being the Son of God, concerning the building up of the church, and concerning the pathway of the cross. He was dealt with on the Mount of Transfiguration and corrected regarding the paying of the poll tax. Time and time again, Peter was adjusted. It is difficult to believe that such a qualified and trained person could take the lead in denying the Lord. If Peter could not succeed in following the Lord, then who can? If Peter had denied the Lord in chapter four, I would not have been surprised. But it is hard for me to believe that in chapter twenty-six, after being with the Lord for three and a half years, Peter could deny Him.
Not even Peter himself believed that he would do this. In verse 33 Peter said boldly to the Lord, “If all shall be stumbled in You, I will never be stumbled,” and in verse 35 he said, “Even if I must die with You, I will by no means deny You.” Peter was confident that he would follow the Lord to the uttermost. But, as this picture makes clear, all he could do was to deny the Lord to the uttermost. This proves that no human being can succeed in living the kingdom life. Perhaps after reading these messages, you have been stirred up for the kingdom and desire to be today’s kingdom people. But we must realize that none of us can make it. Therefore, we need to humble ourselves, bow down, and say, “Lord, I simply can’t make it. I am a Peter. If Peter could not make it, then who am I to think that I can make it? Lord, I can’t do it.”
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