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The Preaching of John the Baptizer
There are several unifying themes used in these three
stories that we read last week. First
of all, we see that he baptized a whole bunch of people.
He baptized them unto the baptism of repentance for the remission of
sins. We read about his diet of
honey and locusts, as well as his raiment, which was a leather girdle and
camel’s hair clothing. He came in
the power and spirit of Elijah. He didn’t spend a lot of time preaching the message of
common salvation, because that was something that was already very familiar to
the Jews. In all three passages, he
fulfilled the words of the prophets.
What else did he do? He
was preaching. He was doing a whole
lot of preaching, apparently. What
was he preaching? Matthew 3:1-2
says, “In those days came John the Baptist, preaching in the wilderness of
Judaea, And saying, Repent ye: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”
Repent ye, for the Kingdom of the Heavens is at hand.
He was preaching, “repent!” and he was preaching and
proclaiming the Kingdom of the Heavens; “The King is coming!”
That’s what he taught; that’s whom he was the forerunner of.
Even the teaching of the Kingdom was nothing new to the
Jews. But, the idea of
“repent!” became a stumbling block to many.
They thought that as children of Abraham, they had automatic entrance
into the Kingdom. But, Abraham had
an earthly seed and a heavenly seed, and many people did not realize just how
far they had drifted from God’s law. They
had taken to following man’s law, and as such, they needed to change or
repent; they needed to reform the way they lived and they needed to change
We have an experience that we’re going to look at, which is
revolutionary and very enlightening in its teaching.
Very few Bible students and teachers who pick up the truth that is in
The parables of Jesus are very
important. These parables have been
minimized by the teachers; intimating that there’s little truth in a parable
and you’re going to get in trouble if you read too much into it.
It’s not a question of reading anything into it; it’s getting
everything out of it that the Lord has there.
I don’t think that the Lord
would use a parable or a simile or any other means that isn’t truth.
You can follow a parable to the remotest point and you won’t encounter
anything that is untruth. Nothing
that our Lord uses is untruth, because he is truth!
Whatever he says is the truth.
Here, is a parable.
[Matthew 21:33] Get in mind first that what the Lord seeks in his servants
and any of his children is fruit. Almost,
if not all, of these parables have to do with fruit-bearing and not salvation.
Many teach the parables of
Matthew 13 (sower) as, one group is saved and the rest are lost; but all of them
in Matthew 13 have to do with fruit-bearing, and all of
them have to do with saved people. Fruit-bearing.
[Matthew 21:34] The
Judgment Seat of Christ is going to determine the extent of fruit-bearing.
When he calls those with the talents, or when he calls those who receive
the pound, what he’s interested in is, how much fruit have they born?
We have been saved to serve; bear fruit. Everlasting life is not the supreme purpose of salvation;
The husbandman took the servants of the Lord of the vineyard, beat one,
killed another, and stoned another. That’s
the way the prophets were treated before the time of the Lord.
That’s what we find before the coming of our Lord.
[Matthew 21:37] This is the
time of the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ.
[Matthew 21:38-39] They
recognized that he was the son. When
our Lord prayed from the cross, “Forgive them, for they know not what they
do”, he was not talking about the leaders of the Jews; they knew who he was;
they knew he was the Son of God.
The leaders found themselves in
a real pickle; they either had to obey him or they had to shut him up.
They weren’t about to obey him, because his teaching was diametrically
opposed to their teaching, their beliefs, and their convictions.
So they determined to kill him or silence him; they knew he was the Son
of God and they had to either silence him or obey him.
They chose to shut him up. These husbandmen in this parable knew he was the son of the
master of the vineyard and they determined to kill him, and the leaders of the
Jews decided to kill the Son of God, and they did. But, they didn’t silence him.
John 14:16 says, “And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you
another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever.”
The father sent another comforter, and the word “another” means one
just like himself.
They sent another comforter
exactly like him. That comforter is
the Holy Spirit of God. The third
member of the God-head. He is as
much God as God the Father, and as much God as God the Son.
They sent him, and he called to their mind and their remembrance
everything that Jesus had said and they were constantly convicted of that.
They took the Lord and killed
him to silence him. One of the
things that irked them was that he said he was the King of the Jews.
They always put a sign on the cross, designating the crime for which
someone was crucified. Pilate put,
“This is Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews”.
The Jews didn’t like that. They
went to Pilate and said, “you say, ‘He said he was the king of the
Jews.’” He was sick and tired of the whole thing, and he shouted at
them in Greek, “gegrapha gegrapha”; in no uncertain terms he said, “what I
have written, I have written and it’s going to stay.” Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews.
They all knew who he was, except for the rabble of the people, and it was
of them that he spoke, “forgive them for they know not what they do”.
The vast majority of the people didn’t know, but the scribes &
Pharisees… they knew. So, it
Here, these husbandmen knew this
was the son of the owner of the vineyard. They
caught him, they cast him out, and they slew him.
[Matthew 21:40] What’s he going to do unto the husbandmen?
[Matthew 21:41; the fruits]
That took place in 70 AD when the Lord sent Titus and his legions to
destroy Jerusalem. They destroyed
the temple, which had become the temple of the Jews and no longer the temple of
the Lord. It had been a temple of
prayer and had become a temple of merchandise.
The feast of the Lord had become the feast of the Jews. So, the Lord Jesus Christ sent Titus and he destroyed those
people, he destroyed the city; and he scattered the Jews to the four points.
The reference there, which comes out of tradition (there may be some
historical foundation), is that the stone that the builders rejected had become
the cornerstone. Some may
appreciate the fact that the materials were prepared away from the construction
of the structure; all the stones cut; all timbers cut; everything prepared away
and when they brought it all together and put the temple together, there was no
sound of hammer and saw; no sounds of construction.
As they put it together, they
stumbled over a stone and they pushed it away.
Others came along and stumbled over it, and they pushed it out of the
way. Finally, they pushed it into a
ravine and as construction neared completion, the cornerstone was missing.
This is all according to tradition.
They looked all over for it, and finally, someone remembered it, and they
found it covered with vines and grass, and they got it and brought it out and it
was the cornerstone. This is a reference to that.
“The stone which the builders rejected, the same is become the head of
The reference there is of course
to the Lord Jesus Christ. We’re
all precious stones in that building, but he’s the chief or corner stone.
He’s the one that holds everything together.
The reference here is to Jesus, who was rejected by man, but made chief
cornerstone by God almighty.
That’s the key verse. [Matthew
21:43] That’s the key verse of the book of Matthew.
Failure to understand that key verse is a failure to understand the
gospel to Matthew. The gospel of
Matthew is called the gospel of the Kingdom.
From time immemorial, man has
used animals to depict the four gospels. Matthew
is represented by a Lion; Mark is represented by an Ox; Luke is represented by
Man; John is represented by an Eagle. These are the four faces of the cherubim.
The lion is the king of the
beasts of the jungle, and Matthew, which is the gospel of the Kingdom, is very
appropriately symbolized by the lion.
Mark is characterized the
expression “straightway”. “And
straightway he did this…” “Straightaway
he did that…” It’s the
shortest, but most active and characterized by the work that was done and the ox
is the symbol of that.
Luke is the gospel that treats
more fully the humanity of our Lord. Luke
himself being a physician wrote of the conception and birth.
Luke used terms that none of the others used and they were terms that no
one but a doctor would or could use. So,
man is used to symbolize the gospel of Luke.
John, which is the gospel that
soars to heights unattainable by man, is the most incomprehensive of the
gospels; it’s the deepest, and yet the simplest. If you can grasp that; it’s the simplest, yet the most
profound of the four gospels. It is
symbolized by the eagle that attained heights that were unattained by other
Matthew is the gospel of the
kingdom. Matthew doesn’t waste
time introducing the King. The wise
men in chapter two show up and ask, “Where is he that is born King of the
Jews?” Matthew tells of the
kingdom of Israel, as a nation to whom the Kingdom was offered.
John showed up at the Jordan and
claimed in no uncertain terms, “Repent for the Kingdom of the Heavens is at
hand”. The king was at hand;
therefore the Kingdom was at hand. “Repent
for the Kingdom of the Heavens is at hand.”
Matthew was written for the
Jews. To them was offered the
Kingdom of the Heavens. John and
then the Lord came along, and after his baptism began to proclaim the Kingdom.
He sent out the 12 only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.
How about the 70? They were
sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.
Into the way of Gentiles and Samaritans, don’t go; those were their
So, many people say, this
doesn’t apply to us. It’s
written to the Jews. They say that
the Sermon on the Mount constitutes the laws that will prevail in the coming
Kingdom, and has nothing to do with us now.
They don’t know that this 43rd verse in Matthew 21 is even
in the Bible, and much less that it’s in the gospel of Matthew.
The Kingdom of God is equated with the vineyard that is being talked
about in this passage. It’s the place where the work is done; where the fruit is
borne. That’s where the king is
reigning in power and glory. The
vineyard. Now, I’m going to take
it away from you…
The Kingdom of God is God’s
rule over everything. Everything
was created, except for God, and he rules over all of it. That’s not what he’s taking away. What he’s taking away is the offer of their part made to
them as a nation.
Some equate the kingdom
covenanted to David with the Kingdom of God, but the kingdom covenanted to David
is an earthly kingdom and will be peopled and governed by earthly people in
their bodies of flesh, blood, and bones. Only
the church have the resurrected bodies; only they have bodies like the Lord
Romans 11:29 says, “For the
gifts and calling of God are without
means a change of mind, and the gifts and calling of God will experience no
change of mind. That which God has
promised will be fulfilled. If you
keep in mind that God’s first purpose with this earth was to people it with
people like Adam and Eve would be had they eaten of the tree of life, as they
had been commanded to do. That was
God’s original purpose.
Their eating of the tree of
knowledge and being barred from the Garden of Eden did not do away with
the promise of God; God is always faithful and it’s not dependent
upon us. The gifts and calling are
without repentance, and he will yet have the earth populated with people like
Adam and Eve would have been if they eaten of the tree of life in their bodies
of flesh, blood, and bones.
We read in Revelation of the
tree of life by the river and at the leaves of this tree are for the health of
the nations of this earth. They in
their bodies of flesh, blood, and bones will be preserved. No sickness or illness, because the leaves of this tree will
be for keeping them healthy during that time.
The group in Revelation is a
different group of people than the church; the church will inherit the Kingdom
of the Heavens. David’s kingdom
was an earthly kingdom. It had
literal boundaries. The Kingdom of
the Heavens will be a Kingdom without an end, either chronologically or
geographically. Of it, there shall
be no end.
John the Baptizer, as God’s
messenger, came along and offered the Kingdom of the Heavens.
I offer to you the Kingdom of the Heavens.
Through faith, you can become a child of God, and through faithful living
you can attain an entrance into the Kingdom of the Heavens.
A higher position that the earthly kingdom.
The Jew is carnal and worldly
and not interested in ruling from the heavens, but in ruling here on earth.
They rejected the idea of the Kingdom of the Heavens.
They wouldn’t have anything to do with it.
It’s kind of like people today when they talk about the pie in the sky;
they weren’t interested in something like that; they wanted something
concrete; they wanted to rule on the earth where they could plant their feet;
they wanted David to come back and rule from his throne there in Jerusalem.
They weren’t interested at all in the Kingdom in which the Lord Jesus
Christ would be the King of Kings and Lord of Lords and in which the Christians
who were faithful and bore fruit in their flesh would get to rule and reign with
him. They weren’t interested in
it; they rejected it.
The Jew still is not interested.
Primarily, because for a Jew to enter in, he has to surrender his
identity and become a Christian. Sometimes,
we talk about a saved Jew, but a saved Jew is like a saved Gentile.
There are three groups of people designated in the Bible:
The Jew, the Gentile, and the Church.
When a Gentile believes on the Lord Jesus, he becomes a Christian.
When a Jew believes on the Lord Jesus, he becomes what?
A Christian. No longer Jew
or Gentile, but Christians. Do you
go around calling yourself a saved Gentile?
The Lord says, I’m going to
take that away from you Jews. He
did take it. He withdrew his offer
of the Kingdom of the Heavens from Israel.
He set them aside as a nation. “Now,
I’m going to give it to the Gentiles or the nations that bring forth the fruit
Here’s the interesting thing
in connection with this: this
coming Kingdom, in which Christians can participate is dependent upon bringing
forth fruit. Works. A fruitful Christian.
Every branch that beareth fruit,
he purges, prunes, and trims; why? In
order that it may bring forth more fruit. Every
branch that beareth not fruit, he lifts up.
‘Airo”; lift up. The KJV translates as “removes”, but he doesn’t remove
it; at least not yet. The picture
comes from the vineyard, where the runner on the trestle falls off and gets on
the ground and runs out along the ground. The
branch on the ground doesn’t produce fruit.
Every branch on the ground, he lifts up and puts it on the trellis, so
that it may bear fruit. But the
branch that bears fruit, he purges or prunes.
That’s the reason that many
Christians don’t bear fruit; they hear someone talk about the victorious life
or something that appeals to the flesh, so they pray, “Make me fruitful”,
and so the Lord prunes them. What
is pruning? That hurts.
They say, “Stop! That hurts! Quit!”,
and he quits pruning and they don’t bear fruit.
Now, you’re asking for trouble when you ask the Lord to make you
Dr. Ironside tells of a story in
which a lady came up to him and asked, “Dr. Ironside, please pray that I may
He said, “Well, let’s pray
right now: Oh, Lord, we pray that
you will send this lady hardship, heartache, and suffering.”
“Wait, wait, wait!
I said that I wanted patience!” But,
what does Romans 5:3 tell us? It
tells us that tribulation brings patience.
These things are born of
Every branch that bears fruit he purges.
Many think and teach that every branch that didn’t bear fruit he began
to cut, hack, beat, and to work on. No,
it’s the one that bears fruit that this is true.
Don’t think that the Christian who is suffering, is suffering because
of some secret sin; it may just be because they are very fruitful.
Don’t walk around in pride because you’re not suffering because
you’re so good; it may be because you’re not fit to suffer for the Lord. The people who need to hear this aren’t here, and they
won’t be here.
But, he’s going to give this
to the Gentiles (the nations) who will bring forth the fruit thereof.
Now, the question arises, “What nation is it?”
Here, it says, “the Kingdom of God shall be taken from you…”
The gospel of Matthew, which has been written to you, will be taken away
and given to a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof.
The gospel of Matthew is written to any Christian who will bring forth
the fruit of the Kingdom. It’s
written to us; it’s written to you and it’s written to me.
[1 Peter 2]
Do you want to see about this nation?
You should always interpret scripture in the light of scripture.
A text out of context is a pretext.
What’s the context of Matthew 21?
Well, the context is that which comes before and after.
So, the context is from Genesis 1 to Revelation 22:21.
That’s the context. So,
when you go to interpret a passage, you have to interpret it in the light of
Here in 1 Peter, we have a
letter, and when we have a letter, we should see to whom it is addressed.
You might avoid difficulty in the future by not reading somebody else’s
mail. Let’s see to whom this is
addressed: [1 Peter 1:1-2;
scattered – diaspora; because of persecution] These are saved people and no one else and they are the ones
to whom this letter is written.
[1 Peter 2:9a; But ye are
a chosen generation (one), a royal priesthood (two), an holy nation (three), a
peculiar people (four)]. There are
four designations for this group. This
group, or this nation, in this one word, constitutes the body of the Church. This is written to them.
We are, every Christian a priest. All
Christians constitute a kingdom of Priests.
“A holy nation.”
This is the nation that is spoken of in Matthew 21:43.
The Kingdom of the Heavens is going to be taken from you and it’s given
to be given to a nation bringing forth the fruit thereof.
This is the nation to which it is delivered.
“A peculiar people.”
How many Christians want to be Christians, but not be peculiar?
They want to be Christians until everybody thinks they are weird. They want to go where the Word is taught and loved, but
don’t want it to get out. They
might be thought a bit peculiar. A
little balmy. Short a few marbles.
A few fries short of a Happy Meal. Their
elevator doesn’t go all the way. A
I’ll tell you one thing, if
you believe the Scriptures today and you tell it to people, then you will be
looked upon as peculiar. “You
mean you believe every word in the Bible? You
mean you believe God interferes in the lives of men?”
Let’s see what it is:
[1 Peter 2:9b; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath
called you out of darkness into his marvellous light:]
[1 Peter 2:10a; Which in time
past were not a people]
There was a time in the past in which you and I as Gentiles were not a
people of God. We walked in
darkness, but he has called us into his marvelous light.
[Verse 10b; but are now
[called] the people of God.] Not
Israel; now we’re called the people of God today.
[Verse 10c; which had not obtained mercy, but now have obtained mercy.]
[1 Peter 2:11]
We read that because I want to call your attention to important truths of
Matthew 21:43. The Kingdom of God shall be taken from you and given to the
nation [Gentiles] bearing the fruit thereof.
When God set Israel aside, he began to call out of the Gentiles a people
for his name.
God, for the first time at the
house of Cornelius, began to call out of the Gentiles a people for his name, to
temporarily take the place of Israel. The
nation of Israel had the offer withdrawn from them.
Any individual Jew that wants to participate in that through faith in the
Lord Jesus Christ can participate, but Israel as a nation cannot because God has
withdrawn that offer. It will never again be offered to them. They will be restored to their land, and the kingdom
covenanted to David will be established, and David will be raised from the dead
to rule on his throne in the city of Jerusalem.
That will be accomplished because the gifts and callings of the Lord are
without repentance, but…
but, the Kingdom of the Heavens has been taken from them and it’s
offered to you and me if we will bring forth the fruits thereof.
So, the gospel of Matthew is the
gospel of the Kingdom of the Heavens and the gospel of Matthew is to any
Christian who aspires to have a position in the coming Kingdom of our Lord and
Savior Jesus Christ. That’s the
key verse of the gospel of Matthew.
When you go to study Matthew,
remember that it’s written to you and to me, to whom the Kingdom of the
Heavens was offered. The Sermon on
the Mount has no application to the Millennial reign; it’s applicable now, if
you want to know the laws, the rules, and the regulations to govern the lives of
those who would aspire to rule and reign with the Lord.
That’s the Sermon on the
Mount. It’s not talking about
what is taking place in the Kingdom. It
talks about stealing, adultery, divorce, murder, and all of these things which
will not take place during the Kingdom of Jesus Christ.
But, they are things that are taking place right
Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after
righteousness: for they shall be filled. Blessed
are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth.
Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of
God. Blessed are they which are
persecuted for righteousness' sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
The Kingdom of the Heavens; that’s what all those things are about.
The gospel of Matthew is for you and me and this verse in Matthew 21:43 is the key verse to show you that. Now, go back and study the gospel of Matthew knowing that it’s written to you who are saved and that this Kingdom of the Heavens is offered to all of those who will bring for the fruits thereof.