Sunday, May 28th, 2023
Gaebelein's Annotated Bible Gaebelein's Annotated
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These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Gaebelein, Arno Clemens. "Commentary on Matthew 14". "Gaebelein's Annotated Bible". https://studylight.org/
commentaries/ eng/ gab/ matthew-14.html. 1913-1922.
Gaebelein, Arno Clemens. "Commentary on Matthew 14". "Gaebelein's Annotated Bible". https://studylight.org/
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2. John's Martyrdom.
The Fourfold Attitude of the Rejected King.
1. John's Martyrdom. (Matthew 14:1-11 .) 2. The Disciples of John with the Lord Jesus. (Matthew 14:12 .) 3. Feeding the Five Thousand. (Matthew 14:13-21 .) 4. Praying on the Mountain-top. (Matthew 14:22-23 .) 5. Walking on the Sea; Coming to His Disciples. (Matthew 14:24-36 .)
The fourteenth chapter contains the record of events put together so as to harmonize with the purpose of this Gospel. The Lord had revealed the mysteries of the kingdom of the heavens, mysteries, as we have seen, repeated by the Lord in His seven messages to the churches in Revelation 2:1-29 ; Revelation 3:1-22 . At the end of the previous chapter we learned once more of His rejection. “They were offended at Him.” In the chapter before us He appears as the rejected One. The right key to understand the events described here, is to look upon all dispensationally. We have in them a description of what takes place while the King is absent and rejected by His own people. At the end of this chapter He comes in the fourth watch, and with His coming brings the calm for the troubled sea and His troubled disciples.
The first incident we find is the martyrdom of John the Baptist. Herod stands with his kingdom and abomination for the world, the prince of this age, and his persecutions. The record is put in here to show that during the absence of the King, the world will hate and persecute those who are of the Truth, but it carries us on to the end likewise, when a false king will rule once more -- the Antichrist; typified by Herod.
The second incident is the miraculous feeding of the five thousand men, besides women and children. He had gone to a desert place, but the crowds followed Him, and He supplies their need in His own miraculous way. The keeping of His people is here demonstrated, while on the other hand, we find spiritual lessons, which lead us deeper, especially if we compare this section with the record in the Gospel of John.
The third incident is the storm on the sea, lasting a whole night, during which the Lord is absent. He went into the mountain apart to pray, which is a picture of His presence with the Father during this age. This section is especially rich in dispensational lessons. We learn from this short outline of the fourteenth chapter, that it forms a kind of bird’s-eye view of the age, which follows the rejection of our Lord.
“At that time Herod, the tetrarch, heard of the fame of Jesus, and said to his servants, This is John the Baptist; he is risen from the dead, and because of this, these works of power display their force in him” (Matthew 14:1-2 ).
The Herod mentioned here is not the Herod in the second chapter of the Gospel. The Herod under which the children of Bethlehem were slain was Herod the Great, an Idumean who had been proclaimed king of the Jews by Rome and exercised his evil reign under the protection of Rome. After his death Archelaus became tetrarch of Judea, Samaria and Idumea, Philip of Trachonitis and Herod Antipas of Galilee and Peraea, who also had the title of tetrarch. It is this Herod who is before us in this chapter He was married to a daughter of King Aretas of Arabia. He lived, however, in open adultery with Herodias, the wife of his brother Philip. Like his father, Herod the Great, he was a wicked man, the murderer of John the Baptist. He was followed by Herod Agrippa, under whose regime the persecution of the Christians broke out in Jerusalem.
The dreadful end of this wicked king is described in Acts 12:1-25 . He was smitten by an angel of God and eaten by worms. His son, named likewise Herod Agrippa, took his place.
These Herods -- who ruled under Rome over Immanuel’s land and were such bloody men, false kings upon a throne, which was not theirs -- are all types of Antichrist, that false king, who comes in his own name and will be received by the Jews.
During this entire age “the mystery of iniquity already works,” and in the end of it that wicked one will be revealed. Satan rules over the world now, and by and by, his power will have full sway for a little while, and then through the revived Roman Empire, the beast out of the sea, a false king, the great final Herod, will rule and reign, as well as the beast out of the earth.
These dispensational facts make it clear why the story of John’s martyrdom is introduced now in this Gospel. It is brought forth here to show that alongside of the kingdom of the heavens in its mysteries, there is the kingdom of the world culminating in a wicked leader, the man of sin and son of perdition.
The incident itself comes in at the time when our Lord sent out His disciples. In the fourth chapter we heard that John was delivered up (Matthew 4:12 ). In the eleventh he sent his disciples from the prison to the Lord, and now his fate is made known after the Lord had revealed the secret things.
On account of the report concerning Jesus, Herod is troubled, like his father before him was troubled, when the wise men from the east came to Jerusalem. Conscience speaks with a loud voice, and though Herod was neither a Pharisee nor a Sadducee, he is superstitious and looks upon Jesus as John the Baptist risen from the dead. It is still so; where there is no faith, superstitions hold sway. And why was he troubled and uneasy? Why did his conscience speak? “For Herod had seized John, and had bound him and put him in prison on account of Herodias, the wife of his brother Philip. For John had said to him, It is not lawful for thee to have her. And while desiring to kill him, he feared the crowd, because they held him for a prophet. But when Herod’s birthday was celebrated, the daughter of Herodias danced before them, and pleased Herod; whereupon he promised with oath to give her whatsoever she should ask. But she, being set on by her mother, says, Give me here upon a dish the head of John the Baptist. And the king was grieved; but on account of the oaths, and those lying at table with him, he commanded it to be given. And he sent and beheaded John in the prison; and his head was brought upon a dish, and was given to the damsel, and she carried it to her mother. And his disciples came and took the body and buried it and came and told Jesus. And Jesus having heard it, went away thence by ship to a desert place apart” (Matthew 14:3-13 ).
What a scene of wickedness and crime, lust and blood shed is here revealed! It is the true picture of the world, the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes and the pride of life. And this world, this age is unchanged. It is not improved and gradually subdued. This evil world is not getting better. It is not giving up its lust and pride, its hatred and persecution under “the civilizing influence of Christendom” as it is claimed. The things manifested here by the Spirit of God, as they transpired at the merry feast of Herod are the same today. The hatred of the Truth and the servant of the Lord is the same. The lust of the flesh and the eyes and the pride of life have not changed a particle. All is present with all its disgusting features in the midst of the boasted “civilizing influences of Christendom.”
John had been faithful in discharging his God-given ministry. Openly he had confronted the despot with his evil doing and a dungeon becomes his lot. How often it has been repeated throughout the age. How many faithful servants have been hated and persecuted thus. The world receives not the truth, but hates it. Having rejected the Lord and hated Him, the world rejects and hates Him who is of the truth. How sad to look upon that which professes to be the church, that which professes to be Christian and to see it in friendship with the world! At last professing and apostate Christendom will form that great world center, and center of abomination and wickedness, “ Babylon the Great,” and in her will be found the blood of prophets and saints, and of all the slain upon the earth (Revelation 18:24 ).
Oh, let us herald it forth, separation from the world! “Adulteresses, know ye not that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Whoever, therefore, is minded to be the friend of the world is the constituted enemy of God” (James 4:4 ). May it reach our conscience that we may live indeed as such who are in the world but not of the world, not conformed to this world, but transformed by the renewing of our mind. Like John the Baptist, let us be faithful in our testimony, no matter what the consequences may be.
John represents here also him who is one of the two witnesses. Elijah will come once more, not now, but at the Jewish end of the age; not in this country, but in Israel ‘s land. As a witness, with his companion, he will witness against the beast, and will be slain by it, as John was slain by Herod.
We pass over the details of that libertine feast, the dance, unquestionably indecent, the beastly mother, with her awful request. Of Herod we read, he was grieved on account of the request. He feared the crowd on the one hand, and on the other he feared those who lay at table with him. He wanted to appear religious. If he made an oath and it was heard by those with him, and he did not keep it, they would surely tell it abroad. If his religiousness led him to commit a murder it is a small matter. How often it has been repeated! Under the garb of religiousness crimes upon crimes have been committed, and the end is not yet.
What a moment it must have been when the messenger entered the dungeon of John and his life is taken. “And he sent and beheaded John in prison.” This is all the Spirit of God tells us of it. No doubt John met the messenger in the triumph of faith.
John’s disciples came and took the headless body and buried it and then they came and told Jesus.
There they found the comfort and the hope of resurrection and life. What words of cheer He may have given to them we do not read here, but we are sure they came not in vain to Him. And shall we come in vain to Him with our cares and griefs, trials and losses? Go and tell Jesus Christ your Lord!
Such then is the world in its hatred and such what the servants of Christ may expect from the world.
Our Lord having heard the report went away to a desert place apart. He knew that it was only a little while longer and He would be rejected, condemned and crucified. But His time had not yet come. He would not hasten matters, however, even if then Herod would have attempted to do anything to him he would have not succeeded. How the Spotless and Holy One must have felt in that hour, when wickedness had reached such a climax! Yet He is silent No word comes from His lips. No word of disapproval no word of judgment or wrath. Thus He is silent throughout this present evil age until that day comes, His own day, when He will keep silent no longer.
And now as He goes away by ship into a desert place apart, truly as the Rejected One. The multitudes hearing of it follow Him on foot from the cities. They seek Him in the wilderness, in the place of rejection. In the Gospel of John, chapter 6, we have the full record of what follows and likewise the condition of the people. Here we have only a brief description. “And going out He saw a great multitude, and was moved with compassion about them, and healed their infirm” (Matthew 14:14 ). A few words only, but how His grace shines in them. Though He knew their hearts, which were far from seeking Him, yet was He moved with compassion. This is the second time we read of His compassion for the people. Not alone did He pity them but He healed their infirm. It must have kept Him busy as He moved among them, touching the sick and healing their diseases. “But when even was come, His disciples came to Him saying: The place is desert and much of the daytime already gone by; dismiss the crowds that they may go in the villages and buy food for themselves” (Matthew 14:15 ). What a contrast between the compassionate Lord and His disciples! How little they had learned of Him and of His gracious ways. Most likely while He was still occupied with the people and still stretching forth His hands with healing power, they interrupted Him in His blessed work, reminding Him of the physical needs of the multitudes. As if He knew not Himself what they needed, as if He cared not for them and their welfare! It was unbelief which manifested itself thus. They even ask the Lord to dismiss the multitudes, to send them away. Heartless, they would have let them find their way back to their villages to satisfy their wants. Instead of looking to the Lord they looked to circumstances, to the numbers of the people. They did not reckon with Him and His power, who fed Israel for forty years in the wilderness, who sent the ravens to Elijah. Such is unbelief. How calm and sublime is the Lord’s answer. No word of reproof falls from His blessed lips. “But Jesus said to them, They have no need to go; give ye them to eat.” There was surely no need to go away empty from Him, no need to go elsewhere and seek what He so plentifully can give and does give to all who trust Him. They have no need to go. In this word He reveals Himself once more as the omnipotent Lord. A desert place, and He declares a crowd of five thousand men, besides women and children, have no need to go, to leave Him, to find bread to satisfy their hunger. But still more, He tells His disciples, “give ye them to eat.” This they could not understand. They had very little to minister to the great needs of such a company. That the Lord could feed them they had not considered, and that they, in giving them to eat, could count on His power to minister to their need was far from their thoughts. Yet this is the lesson which the Lord wanted to teach them and us likewise. He is the All-sufficient One. He has all power, and there is no need for anyone to go away empty from Him. He wishes to minister to the needs of His people, through His own. “Give ye them to eat” is still His loving word, and He backs it up with all His grace and riches in glory. We mean, of course, all this of a ministry in spiritual things.
Let us think of this as we minister the things of God, whether it be the Gospel or the ministry of His Word, for the edification of believers. All is entrusted to us by the Head of the Body. He Himself will minister through our ministry if the heart rests believingly in Him and faith looks away from circumstances and difficulties to a rich and gracious Lord in Glory. He knows the needs of all. He is still the compassionate One, and as Lord in glory tells His servants: “Give ye them to eat.” Oh for faith to count on Him and His gracious power.
And now they speak, “But they say to Him, We have not here save five loaves and two fishes” (Matthew 14:17 ). From the Gospel of John we learn that the Lord said to Philip, “Whence shall we buy loaves that these may eat? But this He said trying him, for He knew what He was going to do. Philip answered Him, Loaves for two hundred denarii are not sufficient for them, that each may have some little portion. One of His disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, says to Him, There is a little boy here who has five barley loaves and two small fishes; but this, what is it for so many?” (John 6:5-9 ). They even had not the small supply themselves, but it was in the hands of a little boy. How suggestive! It was little, very little they possessed, and it was in the hands of a little boy, one who was weak. It is so with ourselves and the little we have. Blessed are we indeed if we do know how little it is which is in our hands and how much is lacking. But let it not be in unbelief, thinking it is such a little bit, which cannot be used. Nothing is too small, nothing too little, if it is brought to Him; yea, He has chosen the weak things. “Bring them here to Me” is His command. What condescension, He does not despise the little we have, He does not set it aside in manifesting His power. How easy it would have been for Him to speak only a word in that desert place and bread would have fallen again upon the ground, for the crowds to gather and take with them. He wishes to use the little, the weak things, to show forth His power. It is the way He works throughout this age, in which He is the Rejected One.
“Bring them here to Me,” and do we bring what we have to Him always? Is every service first brought to Him for blessing? Is the little put into His hands first for blessing? Are all our undertakings really brought to Him; our little, our all, put at His disposal? If we bring it to Him He will bless it and with His blessing we can go forth to minister to others. There can be and will be no lack in such ministry in dependence upon Him.
This is true ministry. How far Christendom has drifted away from it, and how short we come of it, with our unbelieving hearts. We ever reckon with circumstances and difficulties and not with the loving, gracious and all sufficient Lord in glory! May we learn and profit by His Word.
“And having commanded the multitudes to recline upon the grass, having taken the five loaves and two fishes, He looked up to heaven and blessed; and having broken the loaves He gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the multitudes” (Matthew 14:18-19 ). He blessed and broke the bread, and the broken bread is first put into the hands of the disciples, and after they received they gave it to the people. This is the divine order of ministry. The little handed over to Him, He blesses and we receive first of Him, and what we receive from His hands we can pass on to others. (In the Gospel of John He Himself feeds with His own hands the crowds. The ministry of the disciples is not mentioned there, because in John He is described as the Divine One.)
What a scene it must have been! Five thousand men besides women and children crowding about Him, and at His loving command they lay down upon the grass and after they found rest He feeds them with His bread. In looking upon that blessed picture we think of Him as Jehovah-Roi, the Lord, my Shepherd. “The Lord is my Shepherd; I shall not want. He maketh me to lie down in green pastures.” It is fulfilled here. Jehovah, the Shepherd, is present with His people. Jehovah, the Shepherd, gives them rest and then in the green pastures He refreshes them. Thus He acts still. Rest and food in Him and through Him are still His precious gifts to all who put their trust in Him. He Himself is our Rest and our Bread. He satisfies the poor with bread. It is prophetic. He will yet be the great Shepherd of Israel and gather His people, His scattered sheep, and supply their wants. We read of it in that restoration Psalm, the one hundred and thirty-second: “For the Lord hath chosen Zion ; He hath desired it for His habitation. This is my rest forever; here will I dwell; for I have desired it. I will abundantly bless her provision; I will satisfy her poor with bread.”
“And all ate and were filled, and they took up what was over and above of fragments twelve hand baskets full. But those that had eaten were about five thousand men besides women and children” (Matthew 14:20-21 ). Here is the miracle. The little was not only sufficient for all, but more was left over at the end than they had in the beginning. His blessing was not only upon the little for all, but He blessed it in such a manner that from it came an abundant increase. It is not different now in the ministry of spiritual things. The more we give out, having received from Him, the greater the increase and possession for us in the end.
In the Gospel of John the definite teachings of our Lord concerning life through Him and in Him the true bread come down from heaven, and the sustenance of that life, are connected with this episode. John’s Gospel is the place for that. In the feeding of the people as recorded in Matthew and the applications we have made of it, we have brought out the character of the age, the age in which Israel has rejected her King. Let us notice that the feeding of the multitude closes abruptly. In John 6:15 we read they would make Him king. But the attempt was carnal. No faith in Him, no devotion to His person was behind it, and the Searcher of hearts had to declare unto them when the crowds sought Him again: “Verily, verily I say unto you, ye seek Me, not because ye saw the miracles, but because ye did eat of the loaves and were filled” (John 6:20 ). In Matthew’s Gospel the whole scene closes without any record about the behaviour of the multitudes. Significantly we read at once: “And immediately He compelled the disciples to go on board the ship, and to go before Him to the other side until He should have dismissed the multitudes. And having dismissed the multitudes, He went up into the mountain apart to pray.”
Every word here is pregnant with meaning. He compelled the disciples to go on board ship. A change is to take place by His own arrangement and the people are dismissed by Himself. All this indicates the setting aside of Israel, their rejection, though never complete nor final. He Himself goes up into the mountain apart to pray. The whole night is spent by Him there in the presence of the Father. He is absent, both from the crowds and from His disciples, and while the multitudes He had fed scatter, His disciples are tossed upon the sea. In the prophet Hosea we read that Jehovah saith “I will go and return to My place” (Hosea 5:15 ). His going upon the mountain speaks of His withdrawal and the place which He occupies in the presence of the Father, as intercessor and advocate. The third incident recorded, the stormy night, the storm-tossed disciples, the coming Lord in the fourth watch, Peter’s separation to meet him, the morning which brings peace and the renewed healing by the returned Lord, all is full of meaning and rich in typical application.
The night is a picture of the time during which He is absent, this present evil age in which we live. His return from the mountain in the morning foreshadows His second coming and the beginning of a new age.
And now we read what happens in that night during His absence. “But the ship was now in the midst of the sea, distressed by the waves for the wind was contrary” (Matthew 14:24 ). While He is away night and storm reign and His own are in distress, the wind is contrary. Could we find a better description of the present age than a stormy sea, a contrary wind and a dark night? Surely the age is perfectly portrayed by these. It is an age of storm, peril and night. How strange that with the most emphatic as well as plain statements of holy writ concerning the characteristics of this age, the greater part of the professing church can teach precisely the opposite and speak of it as an age of peace, light and progress. Surely Scripture is very definite that Satan is the god of this age, and night increases under his rule; peace is impossible. We find in the very short description of that night in which the Lord was absent, a description of the age. It is true still and the one who believes otherwise and expects peace and calm now will be sadly disappointed.
But if the night, the rising waves, the contrary wind, are pictures of the age, what can the little ship mean, which sails across the storm sea? The applications which are made of the ship are manifold. A favored one is to use it as a type of the church and speak of the disciples as believers who are in the church and who have their fears and doubts, who tremble in view of the towering waves and the contrary wind. But such an application cannot be made to correspond with the teaching of the Word concerning the true church. The true church is above the waters, above the storms, in union with Himself who is in the presence of God. The frightened disciples, full of fears and expecting every moment the deep to swallow them up, could hardly be taken as types of the true believer, who knows his position in Christ. He, too, is above the storm, and though he may be storm-tossed, as much as this little ship upon the sea, though Satan’s power may ever play about him and the wind be contrary, yet through it all does he not fear, but sings the song which is heard above the howling wind, “For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
What does the ship mean? It may be taken in a general way to be a type of the Jewish people. The Lord absent from those who are in a sense His own to whom He came, and who rejected Him, who refused Him, are upon the sea. The sea represents the nations; the waves and the wind, the persecutions and the distress which come upon them. It is an excellent portrayal of the history of God’s ancient people from the time they refused their King until He returns to be received by them. This ship with fluttering sails, broken masts, tossed like a ball from wave to wave, blown hither and thither, uncontrollable and yet controlled, ever in danger and never in danger of going down -- this ship is the type of the Jewish ship, the Jewish nation. It is still upon the sea. It is still the same old storm-tossed vessel. The winds more than ever contrary. It seeks an harbor now, trying to cast anchor on the shore of their own land, but a boisterous wind is coming and while the ship is miraculously kept, there will be no haven, no peace, till He comes again who is their King, the Son of David.
But this application, correct as it is, is too general. We have spoken of the ship and not of the disciples. The disciples must be taken as the type of the Jewish remnant. We saw from the tenth chapter that the disciples sent forth then were representing the Jewish remnant. When the Lord Jesus Christ left the earth and went to the Father’s house to prepare a place, He did not leave a church behind. There was no church on the earth when our Lord ascended upon high, and when He comes back to earth again He will not find the church on the earth, but He will come back to be received by the remnant of His earthly people. It is in this light the incident has to be interpreted, which however does not forbid applications in other directions.
“And in the fourth watch of the night He went toward them, walking upon the sea. But when the disciples saw Him walking upon the sea, they were troubled, saying, It is an apparition; and they cried out for fear” (Matthew 14:25-26 ).
He had left His place on the mountain and returned. His return was in the fourth watch of the night, right before the dawning of the morning. And as He left that place on the mountain when He was here in the earth, so will He arise and leave the place on His Father’s throne and come back to earth, to the very land where He was once rejected. First, He will leave His place and descend from heaven with a shout and come into the air, where we shall meet Him. The fourth watch is the time when He leaves His place and comes. The fourth watch is now. The gradual approaching of the Lord, His person seen dimly in the distance, the fear of the disciples who cry out for terror, instead of shouting for joy that He is coming, all finds its proper application. How many there are in Christendom, for whom the coming of the Lord and the events connected with it have no joy, but bring fear and terror to the heart. And these days, the days of the fourth watch, are filled with signs which herald His coming. The true believer, however, knows no fear in the fourth watch, for he waits and watches for His coming, and if it were possible to get a glimpse of the Coming One leaving His Father’s throne, descending into the air, the believing heart would rejoice. We love His appearing, and the fact that He is coming but intensifies the longing of the heart to see Him as He is. The believer knows no such fear as the Jewish disciples had, when they saw Him walking on the water. Had they known, it is the Lord, and that He comes to bring peace and safety, we doubt not their cries would have ceased. All has a meaning for the Jewish remnant, which will be on the scene when our glorious hope has been realized.
“But immediately Jesus spake unto them saying, Be of good courage: it is I; be not afraid” (Matthew 14:27 ). These precious, comforting words were heard above the roaring of the hurricane and the noise of many waters. May we hear them continually in the midst of increasing difficulties, in the hour of test and trial, in affliction, in the dark valley of suffering and in the experiences we call “disappointments.” Blessed are we if we do. The darkest place, even if it is the dungeon, will become illuminated and resound with joyous praise. Surely Paul in Rome must have heard these precious words, “Be of good courage -- it is I -- be not afraid!” May we take all from His hands by believing we are in His hands and thus face every trial, every tempest, with the assurance that there is nothing to be feared.
But in the ship, in that company is one who recognizes the voice, one who recognizes Him through the mist of the storm and the vanishing shadows of the night. And Peter answered and said: “Lord, if it be Thou, bid me to come to Thee upon the waters. And He said, Come. And Peter having descended from the ship, walked on the waters to go to Jesus.” Here another significant type is before us. We shall soon learn from this Gospel that the Lord announces the building of His church. In the sixteenth chapter we find the words, “Upon this rock I will build My church.” We learn that it was Peter who said, “Thou art Christ, the Son of the living God,” and upon this rock, Christ in resurrection, the Lord announces His church will be built. To Peter also the keys of the kingdom were committed, and how he could use them we find in the book of Acts. Now church means “out-calling,” not only an out-calling from the nations, but an out-calling from that which is passed, the Jewish things. Peter, so prominent in this incident, in his act of faith in leaving the ship, turning his back upon his frightened kinsmen, stepping on the waters, going to Jesus to meet Him, stands as a type for the church. It is true all the truth concerning the church was revealed through Paul, the Apostle to the Gentiles. It is true, through Paul the company was led forth out of the ship to go forth to meet the Coming One, but Peter also stands in his action typically for these truths, which we have later so fully revealed in the Pauline epistles.
It is separation, and this separation was an act of faith which we see here. It is the true position of the church, as well as the individual believer. The old Jewish ship is to be left behind. The path for the church is the path of faith. The object before the church is the coming Lord. The word from Him is, Come. The walk to be like His walk. He has triumphed over sin and death, the world and Satan; the waves and storms cannot harm nor hinder Him. And we are associated with Him. He wants us to walk on the water. This is the calling of the church. Separation first unto Him. Obedience to His Word and then walking on the water to meet Him.
Alas! where is it now, this church separated, gone out to meet the Bridegroom? That which calls itself church is a miserable ship, worse than the Jewish ship after which the modern “church” is only too often modeled. As individual believers, however, separation is possible. You, dear reader, in the midst of all the confusion and failure, in this fourth watch, you may hear His voice, “Come.” He is coming. He wants you to take the path of faith, the path He walked Himself. “Behold the Bridegroom! Go ye out to meet Him!” Have you gone out to meet Him?
“But seeing the wind boisterous, He was afraid; and beginning to sink he cried out, saying, Lord save me. And immediately Jesus stretched out His hand and took hold of him, and said unto him, O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt?”
All is again pregnant with meaning.
What made Peter sink after he stepped out so boldly and walked on the stormy waves to meet his Lord? It was a boisterous wind; and Peter, instead of looking to Jesus only, was frightened by that boisterous wind and began to sink. Has this not been repeated in our own experience? We heard His voice, we separated ourselves, we followed Him, and then the enemy raised some boisterous wind. He always does when we desire to follow the Lord in all things. Oh, how often we made the same mistake which Peter made! Looking away from the Coming One, the One who is able to save to the uttermost, our feet began to sink and to slip back. But could Peter ever have sunk down? Never! Nor can the believer ever perish. But Jesus lifted Peter up, and he stood again on the waves, triumphing now through His power over the boisterous wind, and then he walked not towards Jesus, but he walked with Jesus. Even so He deals with us in His great mercy, never leaving nor forsaking us, saving us out of the tempestuous sea.
How beautifully this fits into the dispensational picture we have already given. There is a time coming when Satan will bring on a very boisterous wind. It is called the “hour of temptation” in Revelation. That old serpent is even now getting ready for it. But the Lord will never let His own sink. Jesus stretched forth His hand and caught Peter. He takes him by the hand, and both go now to the ship. So will He catch up His waiting church, and will return with His saints to bring peace.
And as they came into the ship the wind ceased. Satan’s power was at an end as soon as Jesus was in the ship. When He comes back to earth again there will be peace, and not before. The great need of the world is to have the King back. What a glorious picture that must have been -- Jesus and Peter coming to the ship! The sun was now shedding the first rays over the sea, the dark night was over, the anxiety of the little flock was turned into joy and laughter, while the raging sea became as calm and smooth as if there had never been a storm. How much grander it will be when the Lord comes back with His saints, and the sun of righteousness will rise with healing in his wings!
“Then they that were in the ship came and worshipped Him, saying: Truly, Thou art the Son of God.”
It seems they had never believed this. The great stumbling block with the Jew is yet, “He made Himself God.” Again and again we are being asked by them, “Can God have a Son?” Many of the Jews acknowledge Jesus today as a reformer and a good man, but never as Son of God. They will know Him when He comes, and the nation will fall at His pierced feet and worship Him as the King and Son of the Living God.
The closing verses of the fourteenth chapter of Matthew speak of Jesus going to the opposite shore, where He healed the diseased. “And when they had crossed over, they came to the land of Gennesaret. And when the men of that place had recognized Him, they sent in all that region round about, and they brought unto Him all that were sick. And they besought Him that they might only touch the hem of His garment; and as many as touched were made perfectly whole.” It happened in the place where they had rejected Him. This may be taken as a true type of the blessed work of redemption, salvation and restoration which will take place during the millennium.