Spurgeon's Commentary On Matthew - Charles H. Spurgeon - ebook

THE TRUSTED COMMENTARY COLLECTION is a new release of much loved and oft used commentaries.Each commentary is beautifully formatted with every verse given an uncluttered presentation for ease of reference and use. We have taken great care to provide you with each individual commentary as it was intended and written by the original author.Our commentaries are equipped with the very best active tables of contents that drill down from the main contents page to the individual Bible book, to the author, to the Bible book chapter and then to the very verse you are looking to study. These tables of contents have been designed for ease of use and to get you to the exact verse you are looking at.In this volume we give you Charles H. Spurgeon commentary on the Matthew’s Gospel.Matthew’s Gospel was written by a former tax-collector who was called and changed by Jesus Christ. It was not just a name change from Levi to Matthew but a heart change from sinner to saint. In his Gospel Matthew reveals Jesus Christ as King of the Jews.The Prince of Preachers, Charles H. Spurgeon (19th June 1834 – 31 January 1892) was not only a wonderful orator but also magnificent with his pen. The sermons he preached touched the lives of thousands. His writings still continue to reach those who read them to this very day. Reading Spurgeon today may be secondary to the impossibility of hearing him but there is no doubt that his words still carry the weight of Biblical truth. Spurgeon is best remembered as the pastor the Metropolitan Tabernacle, London, England. There he enjoyed many years of fruitful ministry, leading people to Christ and pastoring the ever growing congregation of the Church.

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Matthew Chapter 1

Matthew Chapter 2

Matthew Chapter 3

Matthew Chapter 4

Matthew Chapter 5

Matthew Chapter 6

Matthew Chapter 7

Matthew Chapter 8

Matthew Chapter 9

Matthew Chapter 10

Matthew Chapter 11

Matthew Chapter 12

Matthew Chapter 13

Matthew Chapter 14

Matthew Chapter 15

Matthew Chapter 16

Matthew Chapter 17

Matthew Chapter 18

Matthew Chapter 19

Matthew Chapter 20

Matthew Chapter 21

Matthew Chapter 22

Matthew Chapter 23

Matthew Chapter 24

Matthew Chapter 25

Matthew Chapter 26

Matthew Chapter 27

Matthew Chapter 28

Thank You


Charles Haddon Spurgeon (1834-92) is known as the Prince of Preachers because of his extraordinary gift as a preacher of God’s word. His ability was God-given and he used it for the glory of his Lord.

He gave his heart and life to Christ at the age of 15 after being forced to seek shelter from a snow storm in a Methodist chapel. Spurgeon was only 19 when he was called into full-time ministry as pastor of New Park Street Chapel. This Church, of course, eventually grew through God’s grace which necessitated it moving to newly built premises and took the new name of the Metropolitan Tabernacle.

Spurgeon is most often remembered as being a preacher with little emphasis placed on other areas of his ministry. He was responsible for facilitating the opening of an orphanage, a college for training pastors and greatly supported the selling of Christian books. His ministry was anything but one-sided!

What we should remember is that Spurgeon communicated God’s word and he was happy to use any medium that was available to him. His written works were invaluable as they were available to the many people who were unable to hear him preach. Indeed his volume, “Lectures To My Students” was published and as well as general sale copies were provided to many ministers around the country at their request and at the expense of Susannah Spurgeon who administered a fund to facilitate this generosity.

This book you are holding is not the product of Spurgeon’s writing ministry nor the result of his preaching. These words are all Spurgeon’s and they came about as the result of him expounding a chapter of the Bible during his Sunday service. Such was his gift that he could do this with very little specific preparation. He would select a chapter and tell the congregation the salient points and matters contained therein.

It is not a complete commentary of Scripture, indeed many chapters of the Bible did not receive this attention from him. Indeed in this commentary on Ephesians he had not provided an exegesis on chapter 4. But what Spurgeon left was a legacy of inspired, accurate and valuable insights into Scripture. These words you will read are for the preacher but, and more importantly, they are for every Christian. We pray that you will find that they help open Scripture to you in a new way.

We make use of commentaries, lexicons and concordances to help us better understand God’s word. But these tools must never supplant or replace the Bible. There is no substitute to reading His word in order that we might apply it to our own lives.

Every blessing in the name of our Lord, Jesus Christ.







1. THE book of the generation of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham This verse gives us a clue to the special drift of Matthew’s gospel. He was moved of the Holy Spirit to write of our Lord Jesus Christ AS KING — “the son of David. ” He is to be spoken of as specially reigning over the true seed of Abraham; hence he is called “the son of Abraham. ” Lord Jesus, make us each one to call thee, “My God and King!” As we read this wonderfulGOSPEL OF THE KINGDOM may we be full of loyal obedience, and pay thee humble homage! Thou art both a King and a king’s Son.

The portion before us looks like a string of names, and we might fancy that it would yield us little spiritual food; but we may not think lightly of any line of the inspired volume. Here the Spirit sets before us the pedigree of Jesus, and sketches the family tree of “the King of the Jews.” Marvelous condescension, that he should be a man, and have a genealogy, evenHE who “was in the beginning with God”, and “thought it not robbery to be equal with God”! Let us read each line of “The book of the generation ” with adoring gratitude that we have a King who is one with us in our nature: “in ties of blood with sinners one.”

2. Abraham begat Isaac; and Isaac begat Jacob; and Jacob begat Judas and his brethren.

With Abraham was the covenant made, that in his seed should all the nations of the earth be blessed. The line ran not in Ishmael, the offspring of the flesh, but in Isaac, who was born after the promise; and by the divine purpose it flowed in elect Jacob, and not in the firstborn, Esau. Let us observe and admire the sovereignty of God. Our Lord sprang out of Judah, of which tribe nothing is said concerning the priesthood, that it might be clear that his priesthood is “not after the law of a carnal commandment, but after the power of an endless life.” Yet comes he of Judah’s royal tribe; for he is King.

3, 4. And Judas begat Phares and Ezra of Thamar; and Phares begat Esrom; and Esrom begat Aram; and Aram, begat Aminadab; and Aminadab begat Naamon; and Naamon begat Salmon.

Observe the dash of unclean blood which enters the stream through Judah’s incest with Thamar. O Lord, thou art the sinner’s Friend!

5. And Salmon begat Booz of Rachab; and Booz begat Obed of Ruth; and Obed begat Jesse.

We note that two women are mentioned in this fifth verse: a Canaanite and a Moabitess. Thus Gentile blood mingled with the Hebrew strain. Our King has come to break down the partition wall. As Gentiles we rejoice in this.

Jesus is heir of a line in which flows the blood of the harlot Rahab, and of the rustic Ruth; he is akin to the fallen and to the lowly, and he will show his love even to the poorest and most obscure. I, too, may have part and lot in him.

6-9. And Jesse begat David the king; and David the king begat Solomon of her that had been the wife of Urias; and Solomon. begat Roboam; and Roboam begat Abia; and Abia begat Asa; and Asa begat Josaphat; and Josaphat begat Joram; and Joram begat Ozias; and Ozias begat Joatham; and Joatham begat Achaz; and Achaz begat Ezekias.

Well may our hearts melt at the memory of David and Bathsheba! The fruit of their unholy union died; but, after repentance, she who “had been the wife of Uria ” became the wife of David, and the mother of Solomon.

Signal was the grace of God in this case, that the line should be continued in this once guilty pair; but, oh, what kinship with fallen humanity does this indicate in our Lord! We will not pry into the mystery of the incarnation, but we must wonder at the condescending grace which appointed our Lord such a pedigree.

10. And Ezekias begat Manasses; and Manasses begat Amon; and Amon begat Josias .

A line of kings of a mixed character; not one of them perfect, and some of them as bad as bad could be. Three are left out altogether: even sinners who were only fit to be forgotten were in the line of this succession; and this shows how little can be made of being born of the will of man, or of the will of the flesh. In this special line of descent, salvation was not of blood, nor of birth. Specially let us think of such a one as Manasses being among the ancestors of our Lord, as if to hint that, in the line which comes after him, there would be some of the chief of sinners who would be miracles of mercy. Again we say, how near does Jesus come to our fallen race by this his genealogy!

11. And Josias begat Jechonias and his brethren, about the time they were carried away to Babylon.

Poor captives, and those who are bound with the fetters of sin, may see some like themselves in this famous ancestry. They are prisoners of hope, now that the Christ is born of a race which was once “carried away to Babylon. ”

12-16. And after they were brought to Babylon, Jechonias begat Salathiel; and Salathiel begat Zorobabel; and Zorobabel begat Abiud; and Ablud begat Eliakim; and Eliakim begat Azor; and Azor begat Sadoc; and Sadoc begat Achim; and Achim begat Eliud; and Eliud begat Eleazar; and Eleazar begat Matthan; and Matthan begat Jacob; and Jacob begat Joseph the husband of Mary, of whom was born Jesus, who is called Christ.

With one or two exceptions these are names of persons of little or no note.

The later ones were persons altogether obscure and insignificant. Our Lord was “a root out of dry ground”; a shoot from the withered stem of Jesse.

He set small store by earthly greatness. He must needs be of human race; but he comes to a family which was of low estate, and there finds his reputed father, Joseph, a carpenter of Nazareth. He is the poor man’s King.

He will not disdain any of us though our father’s house be little in Israel.

He will condescend to men of low estate.

Wonder surpassing all wonders; the Word by whom all things were made, was himself made flesh, and dwelt among us! He was born of a human mother, even of the lowly virgin, Mary. “Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same.” Our hearts would anoint with sweet perfume of love and praise the blessed head of him “who is called Christ ”, the Anointed One.

17. So all the generations from Abraham to David are fourteen generations; and from David until the carrying away into Babylon are fourteen generations; and from the carrying away into Babylon unto Christ are fourteen generations.

The Holy Ghost led his servant Matthew to adopt a rough and simple method to help weak memories. Here are three fourteens. Let us learn from this to make ourselves familiar with our Lord’s pedigree, and think much of his being born into the world. Specially let us see that he was literally of the house of David, and the seed of Abraham; for many prophecies in the Old Testament pointed to this fact. He is truly the Messiah, the Prince, which was to come.

Matthew 1 Contents



18. Now the birth of Jesus Christ was on this wise: When as his mother Mary was espoused to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Ghost.

A word or two sufficed to describe the birth of all the kings whose names we have read; but for our Lord Jesus Christ there is much more to be said.

The evangelist girds himself up for his solemn duty, and writes: — “Now the birth of Jesus Christ was on this wise. ” It is a deep, mysterious, and delicate subject, fitter for reverent faith than for speculative curiosity. The Holy (host wrought in the chosen virgin the body of our Lord. There was no other way of his being born; for had he been of a sinful father, how should he have possessed a sinless nature? He is born of a woman, that he might be human; but not by man, that he might not be sinful. See how the Holy Ghost co-operates in the work of our redemption by preparing the body of our Lord!

19. Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not willing to make her a public example, was minded to put her away privily.

Mary was espoused to him, and he was saddened and perplexed when he learned that she would become a mother before they had been actually married. Many would have thrust her away in indignation, and put her to an open shame; but Joseph was of royal mind as well as royal race. He would not expose what he thought to be the sin of his espoused wife: although he felt that she must be put away, he would do it quietly. When we have to do a severe thing, let us choose the tenderest manner. May be, we shall not have to do it at all.

20. But while he thought on these things, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a dream, saying, Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost.

He could not but feel very anxious, and no doubt he prayed about these things both day and night. God would not leave the honor of the chosen virgin-mother without protection. Soon Joseph had the best of guidance.

From heaven he had the assurance that Mary had not sinned, but had been favored of the Lord. Joseph is reminded of his royal rank, “thou son of David ”, and is bidden to cast away his fear. How he must have been comforted by the Lord’s “fear not ”! He was to take Mary under his tender care, and be a foster-father to the son who would be born of her.

Mary must have been in great anxiety herself as to whether her story of angelic visitation would be believed; for it looked improbable enough. We doubt not that faith sustained her; but she needed much of it. Every great favor brings a great trial with it as its shadow, and becomes thus a new test of faith. The Lord very graciously removed all suspicion from Joseph’s mind, and thus provided for the honor of the mother, and for the comfort of the holy child. If Jesus is born in our hearts, we shall have trouble; but the Lord will witness that Christ is ours, and he will surely bear us through.

21. And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins.

The Lord of glory is born the Son of man, and is named by God’s command, and by man’s mouth,JESUS the Savior. He is what he is called. HE saves us from the punishment and the guilt of sin, -and then from the ill effect and evil power of sin. This he does for “his people ”, even for all who believe in him. It is his nature to do this, as we see in the fact that his very name isJESUS — Savior. We still call him by that name, for he still saves us in these latter days. Let us go and tell out his name among men; for he will save others.

22, 23. Now all this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying, Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name \bEMMANUEL, which being interpreted, God with us.

Who would have thought that the prophecy contained in Isaiah 7:14 could have referred to our Lord? One of these days we shall discover a great deal more in the inspired Word than we can see today. Perhaps it is needful to our understanding a prophecy that we should see it actually fulfilled. What blind eyes we have!

It is pleasant to mark that, according to this verse, and the twenty-first, EMMANUEL andJESUS mean the same thing. “God with us ” is our Savior.

He is with us as God on purpose to save us. The incarnation of Jesus is our salvation.

To cheer Joseph, and decide his mind, Holy Scripture is brought to his remembrance; and truly, when are in a dilemma, nothing gives us such confidence in going forward as the sacred oracles impressed upon the heart. How conversant was Joseph with the prophets to have their words before him in a dream! Lord, whether I read thy Word when awake, or have it brought to my memory in my sleep, it is always precious to me! But thou, Lord Jesus, God with us, art dearer still; and the written Word is chiefly precious because it speaks of thee, the incarnate Word.

24, 25. Then Joseph being raised from sleep did as the angel of the Lord had bidden him, and took onto him a wife: and knew her not till she had brought forth her firstborn son: and he called his name JESUS.

Joseph was not disobedient to the heavenly vision in an, respect. He did not delay, but as soon as he rose he “did as the angel of the Lord had bidden him. ” Without delay, demur, or reservation, he obeyed. What holy awe filled his heart as he welcomed the favored virgin to his home, to be respectfully and affectionately screened from all evil! What must he have thought when he saw the Son of the Highest lying on the bosom of her whom he had espoused! He was happy to render any service to the newborn King. Since he accepted Mary as his espoused wife, her child was the heir of Joseph, and so of David; and thus was by right the King of the Jews. Our Lord Jesus had a birthright by his mother; but his right on the father’s side was, by Joseph’s act and deed, also put beyond dispute.

Let us leave this wonderful passage worshipping the Son of God, who condescended to be born the Son of man. Thus our God became our brother, bone of our bone, and flesh of our flesh. The nearer he comes to us, the more humbly let us adore him. The more true the kinship of our King, the more enthusiastically let us crown him Lord of all!

Matthew 1 Contents







1. Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, there came wise men from the east to Jerusalem, saying, Where is he that is born King of the Jews? for we have seen his star in the east, and are come to worship him.

The King is born, and now he must be acknowledged. At the same moment he will be assailed. His birth was in the days of another king, of Edomite stock, who had usurped the throne of David. The world’s kingdom is opposed to that of our Lord: where Jesus is born there is sure to be a Herod in power. It is a marvelous thing that Magi from afar should know that a great king was born, and should come from so great a distance to do him homage; for the world’s wise men are not often found bowing at the feet of Jesus. When wise men seek our King they are wise indeed. These were devout men, to whom the stars spoke of God. An unusual luminary was understood by them to indicate the birth of the Coming Man for whom many in all lands were looking. Stars might guide us if we were willing to be led. Lord Jesus, make everything speak to me concerning thee, and may I be truly led till I find thee!

The wise men were not content with having “seen his star ”, they must see himself; and, seeing, they must adore. These were not in doubt as to his Godhead: they said, “We are come to worship him. ” Lord, I pray thee, make all the wise men to worship thee!

3. When Herod the king had heard these things, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him.

Herod is expressly called “Herod the king ”: in that capacity he is the enemy of our King. They are in a sad state to whom the Savior is a trouble.

Some, like Herod, are troubled because they fear that they shall lose position and honor if true religion makes progress, and many have an undefined dread that the presence of Jesus will deprive them of pleasure, or call them to make unwilling sacrifices. O thou who art the King of heaven, thou cost not trouble me: thou art my joy!

See the influence of one man: Herod’s trouble infects “all Jerusalem. ” Well it might; for this cruel prince delighted in shedding blood, and the darkness of his brow meant death to many. Unhappy Jerusalem, to be troubled by the birth of the Savior! Unhappy people, to whom true godliness is a weariness!

4. And when he had gathered all the chief priests and scribes of the people together, he demanded of them where Christ should be born.

When the earth-king dabbles in theology, it bodes no good to truth Herod among priests and scribes in Herod still. Some men may, become well instructed in their Bibles, and yet be all the worse for what they have discovered. Like Herod, they make ill use of what they learn; or like these scribes, they may know much about the Lord Jesus, and yet have no heart towards him.

5, 6. And they said unto him, In Bethlehem of Judea: for thus it is written by the prophet, And thou Bethlehem, in the land of Juda, art not the least among the princes of Juda: for out of thee shall come a Governor, that shall rule my people Israel.

They were right in their conclusion, though somewhat cloudy in their quotation. Jesus was to be born in the city of David, in Bethlehem, which is, being interpreted, “the house of bread.” Though the city was but a little one, his birth therein made it famous: Jesus ennobles all that he touches.

These scribes knew where to find the text about the Savior’s birth, and they could put their finger upon the spot in the map where he should be born; and yet they knew not the King, neither cared to seek him out. May it never be my case, to be a master of Scriptural geography, prophecy, and theology, and yet to missHIM of whom the Scripture speaks!

With joy would we note the name of Governor, here given to Jesus. We are of the spiritual Israel if he rules us. Oh, that the day may soon come when the literal Israel shall behold the government laid upon his shoulder!

7. Then Herod, when he had privily called the wise men, inquired of them diligently what time the star appeared.

We delight in anxious inquirers; but here was one of a very evil sort. Many pry into holy things, that they may ridicule or otherwise oppose them.

What an evil diligence is this! When very private inquiries are made, we may suspect that something is wrong; and yet it is not always so. However, truth fears not the light. Whether men inquire privily or not, we are ready to give them information about our Lord, and about everything which concerns him.

8. And he sent them to Bethlehem, and said, Go and search diligently for the young child; and when ye have found him, bring me word again, that I may come and worship him also.

Artful wretch! Murder was in his heart, but pious pretenses were on his tongue. May none of us be Herodians in hypocrisy! To promise to worship and to intend to destroy, is a piece of trickery very usual in our own days.

Mark, that the wise men never promised to return to Herod: they probably guessed that all this eager zeal was not quite so pure as it seemed to be, and their silence did not mean consent. We must not believe everybody who makes loud professions, nor do all that they ask of us, lest we aid them in some evil design.

9, 10. When they had heard the king they departed; and, lo, the star, which they saw in the east, went before them, till it came and stood over where the young child was. When they saw the star , they rejoiced with exceeding great joy.

Yes, “they departed ”, and were wise to get out of Herod’s vile company.

They made no compact with him; they heard his false professions, and they went their way. The star appeared when the tyrant disappeared.

The star was probably a meteor, or moving light, which having shone long enough in the western heavens to guide them to Judea, then ceased to be visible; but shone forth again as they quitted Jerusalem. We must not always expect to have visible signs to cheer us, but we are very glad of them when the Lord grants them to us. We seek not the star of inward feelings, or outward signs, but Jesus himself; yet have we great joy when heavenly they comfort shines into our souls. Lord, show me a token for good: this will make me glad. Show me thyself, and I will rejoice with exceeding great joy.

See how the stars above as well as men below pay their obeisances to the New-born King!! My soul, be not slow to adore thy Savior! The star moved “till it came and stood over where the young child was ”: so will my heart never rest till it finds out the Lord.

11. And when they were come into the house, they saw the young child with Mary his mother, and fell down, and worshipped him: and when they had opened their treasures, they presented unto him gifts; gold, and frankincense, and myrrh.

Those who look for Jesus will see him: those who truly see him will worship him: those who worship him will consecrate their substance to him. The gold and spices were presented, not to Mary, but “unto him.”

The wise men kept their caskets closed till they saw Jesus, and then they opened their treasures. Let us keep our love and our holy service for our Lord’s eye, and never wish to expose them to the world’s gaze. The wise men’s gifts were royal, with a touch of the priestly in them — “gold, and frankincense, and myrrh. ” These choice offerings especially the gold, would help Joseph and Mary to provide for the Royal Child, who was so soon to be exiled. God brought providers from the far East to supply the needs of his Son. “Remember that Omnipotence has servants everywhere.”

Before the babe starts for Egypt, Oriental sages must pay his charges.

Lord, thou shalt have my worship, and my gifts; for thou art the sole Monarch of my soul: and I will aid thy missionary cause, that when thou goest into Africa with thy gospel, my gifts may go with thee.

12. And being warned of God in a dream that they should not return to Herod, they departed into their own country another way.

Probably, they half suspected Herod already; and the Lord by a dream led their thoughts further in the same direction. Wise men need to be “warned of God ”; w hen they are so, they alter their minds at once. Though they had planned to return by one route, they took another: they did not linger, but “departed into their own country another way. ” Oh, that I may never be disobedient to a hint from the throne! “Thou shalt guide me with thy counsel.”

13. And when they were departed, behold, the angel of the lord appeareth to Joseph in a dream, saying, Arise, and take the young child and his mother, and flee into Egypt, and be thou there until I bring thee word: for Herod will seek the young child to destroy him.

Angels were busy in those days, for they had special charge of their Royal Master. Joseph’s high office, as guardian of the young child and his mother, involved him in care, and made him an exile from his country. We cannot expect to serve the Lord, and yet have an easy time of it. We must cheerfully journey across a desert if we have a charge to keep for our God; and we must tarry in banishment, if need be, and never venture to come back till the Lord sends us our passports. Our orders are, “Be thou there until I bring thee word. ” The Lord’s servants must wait for the Lord’s word before they make a move, whether it be to go abroad or to come home. Waiting is hard work, especially waiting in Egypt; but it is safe to tarry till we have our marching orders.

14, 15. When he arose, he took the young child and his mother by night, and departed into Egypt: and was there until the death of Herod: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the lord by the prophet, saying, Out of Egypt have I called my son.

Night journeys, both actual and spiritual, may fall to the lot of those who carry Jesus with them. Even the Son of God, who is preeminent above all others, must depart into Egypt like the rest of the family, and must only come out of it when he is called. Let us not wonder if we, also, have to go down to Egypt, and go in a hurry, and go by night, and are allowed to stay there for many a day. We, too, shall be called out in due time by him whose call is effectual. The angel who leads us into Egypt will bring us word to come forth from it; for all our times are in the Lord’s hands. Let us never forget that the chosen may have to go into Egypt, but they must be brought out of it, for the rule is of universal bearing, “Out of Egypt have I called my son. ” How the prophecies mark out our Lord’s way from the beginning! The King of Israel comes out of Egypt, even as Moses did, who in his day was King in Jeshurun.

16. Then Herod, when he saw that he was mocked of the wise men, was exceeding wroth, and sent forth, and slew all the children that were in Bethlehem, and in all the coasts thereof, from two years old and under, according to the time which he had diligently inquired of the wise men.

Herod, with all his craftiness, misses his mark. He considers that he is made a fool of, though the wise men had no such intention. Proud men are quick to imaging insults. He is furious: he must kill this newborn King lest he claim his crown; and therefore he orders the death of every two-year-old child in Bethlehem, taking good margin, that none might escape through error in the age. What mattered it to him if a few babes were needlessly slain? He must make sure that the. little King is made an end of; and he imagines that a speedy and indiscriminate slaughter of all who have reached their second year will put him beyond all fear of this reputed rival. Men will do anything to be rid of Jesus. They care not how many children, or men, or women, are destroyed, so that they can but resist his kingdom, and crush his holy cause in its infancy. Yet vain is their rage: the holy child is beyond their jurisdiction and their sword.

17, 18. Then was fulfilled that which was spoken by Jeremy the prophet, sayings, In Rama was there a voice heard, lamentation, and weeping, and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children, and would not be comforted, because they are not.

Our Prince steps along a pathway paved with prophecies. Yet see what trouble attends his early days! The weeping prophet foretells the wailing over the innocents. He is the innocent cause of the death of many innocents. Men say that religion has been the cause of cruelty and bloodshed: honesty should compel them to admit, that not religion, but opposition to religion, has done this. What! blame Jesus because Herod sought to murder him, and therefore made so many mothers weep over their dead babes! What three drops of gall are these — “lamentation, and weeping and great mourning ”! The triple mixture is all too common.

Our Rachels still weep; but holy women who know the Lord Jesus, do not now say concerning their little ones that “they are not. ” They know that their children are, and the, know where they are, and they expect to meet them again in glory. Surely, if these women had but known, they might have been comforted by the fact, that though their little ones were slain, The Children’s Friend had escaped and still lived to be the Savior of all who die before committing actual transgression.

19, 20. But when Herod was dead, behold, an angel of the lord appeareth in a dream to Joseph in Egypt, saying, Arise , and take the young child and his mother, and go into the land of Israel: for they are dead which sought the young child’s life.

Angels again! Yes, and they are busy still around “the beloved of the Lord.” Joseph still watches over his honored charge, even as Joseph of old watched over Israel in Egypt. See the order in which the family is arranged, — “the young child and his mother .” The Lord is placed first: it is not here, as at Rome, “the Virgin and child.” The angel loathed to mention Herod’s name, but said, “They are dead. ” Such a wretch did not deserve to be named by a holy angel. Herod had gone to his own place, and now the Lord brings back his banished ones to their own place. Instead of making Jesus to die, the tyrant is dead himself. Sword in hand, he missed the young child; but without a sword, that child’s Father struck home to his heart. It is a relief to the world when some men die: it was certainly so in the case of Herod. Those who keep our King out of his own are not likely to live long. My soul, ponder the lessons of history concerning the King’s adversaries!

21, 22. And he arose, and took the young child and his mother, and came into the land of Israel. But when he heard that Archelaus did reign in Judea in the room of his father Herod, he was afraid to go thither: notwithstanding, being warned of God in a dream, he turned aside into the part of Galilee.

Joseph obeyed without question. “He arose ”: that is to say, as soon as he was awake he set about doing as he was bidden. At once he made the journey and came into the land of Israel; so should we hasten to obey. He had his fears about Judea; yet he did not follow his fears, but only went as his guide from heaven directed him. This Joseph was a dreamer like his namesake of old; and he was also a practical man, and turned his dreams to wise account. He “came into the land of Israel”, but he was allowed to go into that part of it which was under a gentler sway than that of Archeaus, who was no improvement upon his father. Galilee, a despised country, a land where Gentiles mixed with the Jews, a dark and ignorant part, was to be the land of our Lord’s early days. He was of the common people, and he was educated in a rustic region, in “the parse of Galilee”, among a plain folk, who had none of the fine manners of the towns. Blessed King, the days of thy minority were not spent at court, but among the common multitude, whom still thou cost delight to bless! I pray thee, turn aside into the parts of this Galilee, and abide with me.

23. And he came and dwelt in a city called Nazareth: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophets, He shall be called a Nazarene.

Our Lord was called “Netzar”,THE BRANCH. Probably this is the prophecy referred to; for “Nazareth “signifies sprouts or shoots. Possibly some unrecorded prophecy, often repeated by the prophets, and known to all the people, is here alluded to. Certainly he has long been called a “Nazarene ”, both by Jews and violent unbelievers. Spitting on the ground in disgust, many a time has his fierce adversary hissed out the name “Nazarene”, as if it were the climax of contempt. Yet, O Nazarene, thou hast triumphed!

Jesus of Nazareth”, the greatest name among men. O Lord, my King, as thou art dishonored by thy foes, so shalt thou be adored among thy friends, with all their heart and all their soul. While others call thee “Nazarene ”, we call thee Jesus — Jehovah, King of kings, and Lord of lords.

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The King has been in concealment long enough, and it is time for his herald to appear and proclaim his coming. This chapter tells us of the champion who came in advance of the King.

1. IN those days came John the Baptist preaching in the wilderness of Judea and saying, Repent ye: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.

While Jesus still remained at Nazareth, his kinsman, the Baptizer, made his appearance: the morning star is seen before the sun. John came not to the court, but to lone wildernesses: places left to sheep and a handful of rural folk. The mission of Christ Jesus is to the moral wastes and to the desolate places of the earth. To them the Lord’s harbinger makes his way, and there he fitly preaches the command, “Repent ye. ” Give up your thorns and briars, O ye wildernesses; for your Lord is coming to you! See how John announces the coming kingdom, how he bids men make ready for it, and he urges them to be speedy in their preparation: “For the kingdom of heaven is at hand. ” Let me be ready for my Lord’s coming, and put away all that would grieve his Holy Spirit!

3. For this is he that was spoken of by the prophet Esaias, saying The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the lord, make his paths straight.

Matthew keeps to his custom of quoting from the Old Testament. The prophets not only described the King, but his forerunner also. They mention the character of this harbinger: he was a “voice ”; (Jesus is “the Word”); his tone, “crying ”; his place, “in the wilderness ”; and his message, which was one of announcement, in which he required preparation for the coming king: “Prepare ye the way of the Lord. ” Men’s hearts were like a wilderness, wherein there is no way; but as loyal subjects throw up roads for the approach of beloved princes, so were men to welcome the Lord, with their hearts made right and ready to receive him.

O Lord, I would welcome thee if thou wouldst come to me. I have greet need of thy royal presence, and therefore I would prepare a way for thee.

Into my heart my desires have made for thee a path most short and smooth.

Come, Lord, and tarry not! Come into my wilderness nature and transform it into a garden of the Lord.

4. And the same John had his raiment of camel’s hair, and a leather girdle about his loins; and his meat was locusts and wild honey.

He was rough and stern, like Elijah. His garments betokened his simplicity, his sternness, his self-denial. His food, the product of the desert where he dwelt, showed that he cared nothing for luxuries. His whole bearing was symbolical; but it was also fit, and suitable for his office. The plainest of food is best for body and mind and spirit, and, moreover, it fosters manliness. Lord, let not my meat, or drink, or garments, hinder me in thy work!

5, 6. Then went out to him Jerusalem, and all Judea, and all the region round about Jordan, and were baptized of him in Jordan, confessing their sins.

The people were expecting a Messiah, and so they went en masse to John as soon as his shrill voice had startled the solitudes. Baptism, or the washing of the body in water, most fitly accompanied the cry, “Repent ye.”

The “Confessing their sins “which went with baptism in Jordan gave it its meaning. Apart from the acknowledgment of guilt, it would have been a mere bathing of the person without spiritual significance; but the confession which went with it made it an instructive sign. John must have inwardly wondered to see the multitudes come; but his chief thought ran forward to his coming Lord. He thought more of him than of “all Judea. ”

7. But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees come to his baptism, he said unto them, O generation of vipers, who hath warned you to flee from the wrath to come?

It was strange to see the proud Separatists and the skeptical Moralists come to be baptized; and therefore, as a test, John addressed them with scorching words. He saw that they, were serpentine in their motives and viperish in their tempers, and so he calls them “Progeny of vipers ”: thus would he see whether they were sincere or not. He asks who suggested to them to flee from that wrath of which he was the forerunner, according to the closing words of the Old Testament. This inquiry was not complimentary; but it is no business of the Lord’s servants to make themselves pleasing: they must be faithful, and especially so to the great and learned. Thus faithful was John the Baptist, and he was honored for it by him that sent him

8. Bring forth therefore fruits meet for repentance.

Act as a change of mind would lead you to do: above all, quit the pride in which you enwrap yourselves, and leave the serpent motives which now actuate you. Lord, save us from a fruitless repentance, which would be only an aggravation of our previous sins.

9. And think not to say within yourselves, We have Abraham to our father: for I say unto you, that God is able of these stones to raise up children unto Abraham.

Do not imagine that God needs you in order to fulfill his promise to his servant Abraham; for he can make each stone in Jordan into an heir of grace. Do not presume upon your ancestry, and think that all the blessings of the coming kingdom must be yours because you are of the seed of the father of the faithful. God can as easily make sons of stones as of a generation of vipers. He will never be short of means for fulfilling his covenant, without bowing his gospel before the caprice of vainglorious men. He will find a people in the slums if his gospel is rejected by the respectable. Let none of us, because we are orthodox, or exceedingly Scriptural in our religious observances, dream that we must therefore be in the favor of God, and that we are under no necessity to repent. God can do without us; but we cannot do without repentance and the works which prove it true. What a blessing that he can transform hearts of stone into filial spirits! Wonders of grace to God belong!

10. And now also the ax is laid unto the root of the trees: therefore every tree which bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire.

He means, the King is come: the Cutter-down of every fruitless tree has arrived. The Great Woodman has thrown down his ax at “the root of the trees. ” He lifts the ax; he strikes; the fruitless tree is felled; it is cast into the fire. The sketch is full of life. The Baptizer sees forests falling beneath the ax; for he whom he heralds will be the Judge of men, and the Executioner of righteousness. What an announcement he had to make! What a scene his believing eye beheld! Our vision is much the same: the ax is still at work.

Lord, cut me not down for the fire. I know that the absence of good fruit is as fatal as the presence of corrupt fruit: Lord, let me not be a mere negative, lest I be “hewn down , and cast into the fire. ”

11. I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance: but he that cometh after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear: he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost, and with fire.

John could plunge the penitent into water; but a greater than he must baptize men into the Holy Ghost and into fire. Repentance is well attended by washing in water; but the true baptism of the believer by the Lord Jesus himself brings us into spiritual floods of holy fire. John considered himself to be nothing more than a household slave, unworthy of the office of removing his Master’s sandals; and his baptism in water was as much inferior to the Spirit-baptism as a slave to his lord. Jesus is the divine Lord who covers us with the fiery influences of the Holy Spirit. Do we know this baptism? What is water-baptism without it? What are all the Johns in the world, with their baptisms in water, when compared with Jesus and his baptism into fire!

12. Whose fan is in his hand and he will thoroughly purge his floor, and gather his wheat into the garner; but he will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire.

He sets forth his Lord under another figure; that of a Husbandman. This time he holds in his hand, not the ax, but the winnowing shovel. Pharisees, Sadducees, and all the rest, lie on his floor: it is with them he deals: “He will thoroughly purge his floor. ” If they do not wish to be purified by him, they should not be there: but there they are, and he deals with them. His fan is in his hand: he throws up the heap to the breeze, that he may test and divide. His wheat he gathers; for this he seeks. The chafer is blown further off to the place where a fire is burning, and so it is consumed out of the way by what he tells us is unquenchable fire. Our Lord’s teaching would act like a great winnowing fan, leaving the true by themselves, and driving off the false and worthless to utter destruction. It was so in the life of our Lord; it is so every day where he is preached. He is the Great Divider. It is his Word which separates the sinners from the saints, and gathers out a people for himself.

Thus the herald prepared the people for the King, who would be the Cleanser, the Hewer, the Winnower. My soul, behold thy Lord under these aspects, and reverence him!

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It was meet that there should be some public recognition of the King; some pointing of him out by truthful witness among men, and some indication from the Father in heaven that he was indeed his beloved Son.

13. Then cometh Jesus from Galilee to Jordan unto John, to be baptized of him.

In due time, when all was prepared, the Prince quitted his obscurity.

Putting himself in a lowly place, he did not summon the Baptizer to come to the Lake of Galilee, but went down the country along the banks of the Jordan to him, seeking baptism. Should any of the servants neglect what their Lord so heartily attended to? Do any say, “It is not essential”? Was it essential to our Lord Jesus? He said, “It becometh us” and what was becoming in him is not unbecoming in his followers. If it should cost us a journey, let us attend to the command which is binding on all believers.

14. But John forbad him, saying, I have need to be baptized of thee, and comest thou to me?

This was very natural. John knew Jesus to be eminently more holy than himself, and therefore he protested against appearing to be his purifier.

John was strong in this protest: he “forbad him ”: it seemed to him to be out of order for him to baptize one so supremely good. Although he was not yet assured from heaven that Jesus was the Messiah (for he had not yet seen the Spirit descending and resting upon him), yet he shrewdly guessed that Jesus was indeed the Christ. He knew him to be a very special favorite of heaven, superior to himself, and he therefore expected that sign by which he had been assured the Christ would be known.

John never shirked a duty, but he declined an honor. He would not even seem to be of any consequence as compared with his Lord. Blessed Jesus, teach us like humility!

15. And Jesus answering said unto him, Suffer it to be so now: for thus it becometh us to fulfill all righteousness. Then he suffered him.

Jesus answered John so completely, that he ceased his opposition at once.

It was becoming both in John and in Jesus that our Lord should be baptized of him. This assurance satisfied the Baptist so far that, still under protest, “he suffered him. ” Baptism was becoming even in our Lord, who needed no personal purification; for he was the Head over all things to his Church, and it was becoming that he should be as the members should be.

Baptism beautifully sets forth our Lord’s immersion in suffering, his burial, and his resurrection. Thus typically, it fulfills “all righteousness. ” The ordinance is most full of meaning when rightly observed; and it is to be most reverently regarded, since our Lord himself submitted to it. Shall I refuse to follow my Lord? Shall I think that there is nothing in an ordinance of which he said, “Thus it becometh us to fulfill all righteousness? ”

16, 17. And Jesus, when he was baptized went up straightway out of the water: and, lo, the heavens were opened unto him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and lighting upon him: and lo a voice from I heaven, saying, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.

Our Lord went down into the water, for “he went up out of the water. ” He did not tarry, in he had fulfilled the river; but when one duty he straightway went on his way to carry out another. In Baptism, our Lord was openly attested and sealed as the “beloved Son “, both by the Word of God, and the Spirit of God. What more witness is needed? It is often so with his people: their sonship is made clear during an act of obedience, and the Word and the Spirit bear witness with their consciences.

Our Lord Jesus had now to enter on his public life-work, and he did so in the best manner. The world was opening before him, “and the heavens were opened unto him. ” As his need appeared, his source of supply was set open before him. On him also the divine anointing descended. Like a swift-winged, pure, and quiet dove, “the Spirit of God ” came, and found a resting-place in him. When he had been immersed into the element of water, he was immediately surrounded by the divine element of the Spirit.

Then, also, was his ear charmed with the Father’s audible acknowledgment of him, and with the expression of that good pleasure which the Lord God had always felt in him. It was a glorious moment. Our King was now proclaimed and anointed. Would not his next step be to take the Kingdom?

We shall see.

Our Lord and King is now fully before us. He has been preceded, predicted, and pointed out by John the Baptist; he has been dedicated to his work in baptism; he has been anointed by the Spirit, and confessed by the Father; and therefore he has fairly entered upon his royal work. May none of us in the service of the Lord run before our time, or go forward without a sense of the Father’s approval, and without that spiritual unction which is from above!

O my Lord, let me be anointed and approved in my measure, even as thou wast in shine. In order to this, I would behold shine anointing of the Spirit with the full belief that I am anointed in thee, as the body receives unction in the anointing of the Head.

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1. THEN was Jesus led to of the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil No sooner anointed than assailed. He did not seek temptation, but was “led of the Spirit .” The time selected was immediately after his Sonship had been attested, when we might have thought that he was least likely to be attacked upon that point. Times of hallowed enjoyment verge on periods of temptation. Our Lord was led “into the wilderness ”: the place was one of great solitude, where he would be alone in the conflict. The devil himself came to the spot and plied his diabolical arts upon the man ordained to be his Destroyer.

Let me be ever on my watch-tower, and particularly during seasons of great enjoyment; for then is Satan most likely to assail me. Lord Jesus, be thou with me in the hour of my testing; for thou knowest how to succor the tempted.

2. And when he had fasted forty days and forty nights he was afterward an hungered.

Throughout the long fast he was miraculously sustained; but at the close of it hunger began to try him. We are more in danger when our labor or suffering is over than during the time of its continuance. Now that the Lord is drained dry by his long fast, and is made faint by hunger, the enemy will be upon him. The devil is a great coward, and takes a mean advantage of us.

Lord make me a match for the enemy!

3. And when the tempter came to him, he said, If thou be the Son of God, command that these stones be made bread.

He adapted the temptation to the circumstances: he tempted a hungry man with bread. He put it very cunningly. Only one single word, and the hard stone of the desert would be biscuit: let him undertake to be his own provider, and use his miraculous power as “Son of God ” to spread a table for himself. The tempter begins his suggestion with an “if ”, an “if ” about his Sonship: this is his usual fashion. He bids the Lord prove his Sonship by catering for himself; and yet that would have been the surest way to prove that he was not the Son of God. A true son will not doubt his father, and undertake to provide his own bread: he will wait to be fed by his father’s hand. The evil one would have the only-begotten Son cease to depend on God, and take matters into his own hands. Temptations to unbelieving self-help are common enough, but very dangerous.

4. But he answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.

Out flashed the sword of the Spirit: our Lord will fight with no other weapon. He could have spoken new revelations, but he chose to say, “It is written.” There is a power in the Word of God which even the devil cannot deny.

Our life and its sustenance are not dependent upon the visible, though the visible is ordinarily used for our support: we “live not by bread alone ”, though it is the usual means of our support. He who sustained the Savior fasting for forty days could still keep him alive without bread. The secret influence of the word of Omnipotence could keep the vital forces in action even without bread. Bread owes its power to nourish our bodies to the secret agency of God, end that divine agency could work as surely without the usual means as with them. The word of the Lord which made the heavens can assuredly support all that it has made. Our Lord Jesus, in fact, told the tempter that he would not distrust the providence of God, but would wait his Father’s time for feeding him, and would by no means be driven to an act of unbelief and self-reliance.

5, 6. Then the devil taketh him up into the holy city, and setteth him on a pinnacle of the temple, and saith unto him, If thou be the Son of God, cast thyself down: for it is written, He shall give his angels charge concerning thee: and in their hands they shall bear thee up, lest at any time thou dash thy foot against a stone.

This second temptation is a cunning one: he is persuaded rather to believe too much than too little. He is not now to take care of himself, but recklessly to presume, and trust his Father’s promise beyond its meaning.

The place was cunningly chosen; temple-pinnacles are not safe standing; high and holy places are open to temptation. The posture was advantageous to the tempter, for nature feels a tendency to fall when set “on a pinnacle. ” The aim of the fiery dart was at our Lord’s Sonship: “If thou be the Son of God. ” If the enemy could have hurt our Lord’s filial confidence, he would have gained his design.