Life-Study of Matthewby Witness Lee
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry
Immediately after the record of the Lord’s transfiguration on the mountain, we have the record of the healing of a demon-possessed person (17:14-21). Following this, the Lord spoke to His disciples the second time about His crucifixion and resurrection (17:22-23). Then we have the incident regarding paying the half-shekel (17:24-27). As we read chapter seventeen, it may be difficult to understand the connection between all these things. If we would understand the Gospel of Matthew, we need to remember that Matthew puts different facts together to reveal a doctrine. Although the three disciples, who represented the other disciples, had been in the miniature of the manifestation of the kingdom, there was still the need for three things: the dealing with the demon-possessed person, the revealing of the Lord’s crucifixion and resurrection, and the paying of the half-shekel to the tax gatherers.
We have pointed out that the coming of the kingdom in 16:28—17:2 was not the coming of the kingdom in full; it was simply a miniature and a foretaste. The prophecies concerning the manifestation of the kingdom have not yet been completely fulfilled. When we get out of the sphere of the transfiguration, out of the atmosphere of the manifestation of the kingdom, we face the power of darkness outside the kingdom. Demon possession signifies the power of darkness. In the realm of the Lord’s transfiguration there is glory, but outside this realm there is the power of darkness. While we are enjoying the transfiguration on the mountaintop, others are in the valley suffering from demon possession. During an inspiring conference or training, we may have the sense that we are on the mount of transfiguration. However, when we return home, we realize that the power of darkness is still all around us. To deal with the power of darkness there is the need of the exercise of the authority of the heavenly King (17:18). We can exercise this authority only through prayer and fasting. As the heavenly King, the Lord has such authority, but we need to pray, even with fasting, to execute the Lord’s authority.
In 17:22 and 23 the Lord said to His disciples, “The Son of Man is about to be delivered into the hands of men, and they shall kill Him, and on the third day He shall be raised up.” When the disciples heard this, “they were exceedingly grieved.” The transfiguration on the mountaintop was not the full transfiguration. Christ still had to pass through crucifixion and enter into resurrection. Matthew specifically says that the disciples “were exceedingly grieved.” According to the concept of Peter, James, and John, the Christ who had been transfigured on the mountaintop did not need to be crucified. Thus, they might have said, “Christ has already been transfigured. Why does He still need to pass through crucifixion and resurrection?” Because the disciples had a mistaken concept, they were grieved at the Lord’s word.
We also may have times when we have a foretaste of the transfiguration. Afterward, however, we still need to descend from the mountain and bear the cross in the presence of our husband or wife. No matter how excellent the experience of transfiguration might be, we still need to stay under the killing of the cross. By bearing the cross we pass through crucifixion into resurrection. This is the connection between these three sections of Matthew.
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