Life-Study of Matthewby Witness Lee
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry
In Matthew 9 Christ is revealed as the Physician, the Bridegroom, and even as the unshrunk cloth, the new wine, and the new wineskin. Following this, a further revelation of Christ is needed. This revelation requires a certain environment that will enable Christ to be revealed in another aspect. Having Christ revealed to us is not a matter of doctrine. In order for Christ to be revealed, there is always the need of a particular environment. In chapter nine Christ is revealed in so many sweet, lovely, pleasant aspects. The environment required for the revelation of Christ in chapter nine was produced by His ministry. In order for Christ to be revealed to us, there must be a certain environment, and that environment always comes out of Christ’s ministry. Christ began to minister in chapter four. After calling the first four disciples and attracting great crowds, He went up to the mountain where He issued the decree of the constitution of the kingdom of the heavens. After He descended from the mountain, He continued His ministry. His ministry before giving the constitution on the mountain was good for the constitution, but it was not sufficient for the further revelation of who He is and of what He is. In order for Him to be revealed as the lovely items found in chapter nine, there was the need for the continuation of His ministry. This further ministry created the environment for Him to be revealed not only as the King, but also as the Physician, the Bridegroom, the new cloth, the new wine, and the new wineskin. If you do not see this ministry in such a way, if you cannot see the environment created by this ministry for the revelation of Christ, and if you cannot see all the items of what Christ is, you may read the Gospel of Matthew a hundred times without receiving anything from it. It may seem to you to be either a book of stories or doctrines. But you will never receive any life from this book. If you would see light in the Gospel of Matthew, you must first see the heavenly King. After He was anointed and tested, He began His ministry. His ministry is crucial, for it is absolutely necessary for His revelation. Christ would not just tell us that He is the Physician, the Bridegroom, the new cloth, the new wine, and the new wineskin. That would be like the teaching given in a seminary. How poor it would be simply to gather a group of people together and merely tell them what Christ is. To repeat, in order to receive the revelation of Christ, there is the need of the environment created by His ministry.
In the continuation of His ministry the King did many signs. He healed the leper, He healed the servant boy of a Roman centurion, and He healed the mother-in-law of Peter. Following this, He healed a great many other people. This was His ministry. The continuation of the King’s ministry was different from the beginning of His ministry, for in the beginning there were no dispensational signs. Rather, He contacted people, attracted them, and captured them. Because a great crowd followed Him, He was able to deliver the decree of the constitution of the kingdom of the heavens.
Although Matthew is a book on the kingdom, it is also a revelation of Christ. One day Christ led His disciples to Caesarea Philippi and asked them, “Who do men say that the Son of Man is?” (16:13). After they gave some answers, He asked them, “But you, who do you say that I am?” (v. 15). This indicates that the book of the kingdom reveals who Christ is. What a blessing it is to see the revelations of Christ in this book! The genealogy of Christ in chapter one is a revelation of Christ. It reveals that Christ is the Son of David, the Son of Abraham, and the issue of a marriage that unites the two lines of David’s descendants. According to Matthew chapter one, Jesus is not that simple. He is Jehovah the Savior and Emmanuel, God with us. Christ is the Son of David, the Son of Abraham, the seed of the woman, Jehovah the Savior, and Emmanuel, God with us. In chapter two He is visited as a king. Thus, chapter two reveals that He is the King. In chapter three this King is recommended and anointed, and in chapter four He is tested, qualified, and approved. Then, after His testing, this King came into His ministry. By means of His ministry, He attracted crowds. After giving the constitution of the kingdom of the heavens, He continued His ministry, doing some signs with a dispensational significance. These miracles signify that He came with salvation firstly to the Jews and then turned from the Jews to the Gentiles. These signs also signify that after the fullness of the salvation of the Gentiles, Christ will bring His salvation back to the Jews. Then will take place the restoration of the whole earth during the time of the millennium. At that time all diseases will be healed. Through this continuation of the King’s ministry, an environment— a feast—was prepared. This feast came out of Christ’s ministry. Through His ministry, the Lord gained a sinner, a tax collector named Matthew, who prepared a great feast for the Lord and His disciples. To this feast Matthew also invited a great many of his friends, who also were sinners and tax collectors. There is a proverb which says that we know what kind of person you are by looking at your friends. Matthew, a tax collector, had friends who were tax collectors and sinners. The feast prepared by Matthew was the right environment for the Lord to reveal Himself as the Physician, the Bridegroom, the new cloth to cover us, the new wine to fill us, and the new wineskin to preserve the wine we have received. Christ in all these aspects was revealed through the environment brought forth by His ministry.
The situation is the same today. Without the ministry, nothing of Christ and nothing concerning the church could be revealed. I cannot simply gather some people together and deliver them a lecture. In that kind of environment I simply have nothing to say. But in the proper environment I can tell you about one item of Christ after another. What a Christ we have! We need to thank the Lord for His ministry and for the environment He creates through His ministry. Even the Pharisees of the old religion and the disciples of John of the new religion were used by the Lord. The old religion gave the Lord Jesus the opportunity to reveal Himself as the Physician, and the new religion gave Him the opportunity to reveal Himself as the Bridegroom, the new cloth, the new wine, and the new wineskin. We need to say, “Thank you, Pharisees, and thank you, disciples of John. Without you, we could not have such a vision of Christ. We would never know that our heavenly King is the Physician, the Bridegroom, the new cloth, the new wine, and the new wineskin.”
When I was young, I read through Matthew chapters eight and nine without seeing anything. I read about the new cloth, the new wine, and the new wineskin, but none of these things made any impression on me. Later, in the proper environment, my eyes were opened to see how sweet and pleasant the Lord Jesus is. Oh, He is our Bridegroom! How pleasant! He is the new cloth, our covering, and the new wine to fill us up. And He is also the new wineskin, the container. I also came to see the four kinds of Christians indicated by these items: the modernists, the fundamentalists, the inner life people, and the church people. I am glad to be among the church people. I enjoy being in the new wineskin. I am covered by the new garment, I am drinking the new wine, and I am in the new wineskin enjoying the presence of the Bridegroom. How wonderful this is! This is our Christ! Today, we do know what the church is. We are churching Christ! In the Lord’s recovery Christ is our Bridegroom, our new garment, our new wine, and our new wineskin. Therefore we may coin a new phrase: we are “churching Christ.”
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