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 the establishment of the King’s rejection (12:1-50).
The reason for the rejection of the Lord was the breaking of the Sabbath (12:1-14).
Matthew 12:1 says, “At that time Jesus went on the Sabbath through the grain fields; and His disciples were hungry and began to pick the ears and to eat.” “At that time” joins chapter twelve to chapter eleven. At the time the Lord called people to rest from striving to keep the law and religious regulations, He went on the Sabbath through the grain fields, and His disciples began to pick the ears and to eat, seemingly breaking the Sabbath. Remember, in his record Matthew puts certain facts together to present a doctrine. The record in the other gospels is not exactly the same as the record here. The phrase “at that time” is very important. It refers to the time of calling people into His rest. At that time, all His disciples were hungry. Whenever we are hungry, we do not have rest. Rest includes satisfaction. When you are satisfied, you are at rest. But if you do not have satisfaction, you do not have rest.
When the Lord called people into rest, His disciples were hungry. For this reason, He brought them to the grain fields, fields growing wheat. No doubt He knew that these fields were rather ripe, full of ears good for eating. The Lord Jesus purposely did this. Realizing that His disciples were hungry, He took them to the grain fields for rest. This is a sign. The call to come to Him for rest given in chapter eleven was sounded on the Sabbath day. This is proved by the words “at that time” which begin chapter twelve. The Sabbath was a day of rest. On the day of rest the Lord called people into rest. He seemed to be saying, “You people are keeping the Sabbath, yet you are still laboring and striving to keep the law. You are heavily burdened with all the laws, rituals, forms, and regulations. Although you are keeping the Sabbath outwardly, actually you do not have any rest. You need to come to Me. You labor and are burdened with the matter of law keeping. Come to Me, and you will find rest.” Peter and John might have said, “We are hungry and cannot rest. We need something to eat.” But that day was the Sabbath, and virtually all activity had ceased. Hence, it was difficult for the disciples to find anything to eat. Knowing this, the Lord Jesus took them into the grain fields.
Years ago I could not understand why the Lord Jesus did this. Now I understand that He did it because He had called people into His rest on the Sabbath. He knew that His disciples were hungry and that, because it was the Sabbath, it was difficult to find something to eat. They could not buy anything, do anything, or go anywhere. The disciples could have said, “Lord Jesus, what shall we do? You have called us to come to You for rest; but we are hungry, and there seems to be no way for us to get anything to eat. How can we rest when we have such hunger?” The disciples were under the burden of keeping the Sabbath regulations. These regulations had become a heavy burden to the hungry disciples. Thus, the Lord Jesus took the lead not to keep these regulations by bringing His disciples out of a regulation-keeping situation into the grain fields. The Lord’s intention in doing this was to free the disciples from the Sabbath-keeping regulations. When they came into the grain fields, everyone was freed from this burden and was satisfied. Everyone entered into rest. This is the background of the Lord’s rejection in chapter twelve. Should the disciples suffer hunger and keep the Sabbath, or should they forget the Sabbath and find something to eat to satisfy their hunger? The Lord took the lead to bring His hungry disciples into the grain fields where they all found something to eat.
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