And I say unto you, That many shall come from the east and west, and shall sit down with Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, in the kingdom of heaven. But the children of the kingdom shall be cast out into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
The great sermon on the mount had been preached!
The Lord had returned to Capernaum! His home when He labored in the regions of Galilee. The place where many of His mighty works were done. The city which had exalted itself, and made itself unworthy of the gospel. Worse than Sodom, for if the mighty works had been done in Sodom they would have repented long ago. But Capernaum did not repent!
Yet in Capernaum there were some who were worthy of the gospel. Of such you read in the context. The centurion whose faith made even Jesus to marvel! A Gentile, who not only believed that Jesus had the power to heal his servant, but that the Lord’s power was unlimited and omnipotent. He believed the Lord could heal his servant by just speaking the word, and without being present. Such faith the Lord had not found in all Israel!
This great demonstration of faith became the occasion for the Lord’s prophecy in our text, concerning the real sons of the kingdom. Not those who were Jews according to the flesh are accepted with Him, but those who are of like faith with the centurion. These shall come from the east and west to sit down in the kingdom of heaven, while the children of the kingdom shall be cast out into outer darkness, where there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
The real sons of the kingdom!
Of the kingdom of heaven!
This term is used rather generally in the Word of God. It is closely related to and identical with those other expressions: “the kingdom of God,” and “the kingdom of Christ.” No essential difference is there in all three of these expressions. They differ only in view-point.
The kingdom of God signifies; first of all, that it is the kingdom of which God is the King in the most absolute sense. He is the most High Who ruleth with everlasting dominion. Also it signifies that the kingdom is a product of His will and sovereign decree. He ordained it. He realizes it in His sovereign wisdom and thereby also his sovereign purpose.
That this kingdom is also called the kingdom of Christ does not at all alter the fact that God is King in the most absolute sense. Rather, that, it is called the kingdom of Christ, signifies that He has been ordained and anointed of God to rule in the Name of God and that, too, in human nature. In that nature God has highly exalted Him as merit on His work of perfect obedience, and has given Him a Name which is above every name, in order that every knee should bow and confess that He is Lord to the glory of God the Father. He also must rule over all the works of God’s hands, and bring all things into subjection to Him. And when all shall be subjected, He also shall be subjected, in order that God may be all in all (Phil. 2:9-11; I Cor. 15:27, 28).
That this kingdom is also called the kingdom of heaven, points to the fact that this kingdom of God and. His Christ is heavenly in its origin and character. It does not arise out of the earth. It has nothing in common with the earth, nor is it in any sense earthly in its nature. Rather, it descends from heaven and ultimately fills both heaven and earth. Because it is heavenly in origin, it is also spiritual in nature. Concerning this kingdom the Lord once made the assertion: “The kingdom cometh not with observation, but it is within you.” It cannot be seen with the physical eye, even though it is realized in the midst of the mundane, and therefore historically makes use of earthly revelations and earthly forms and institutions. Nevertheless, it is essentially spiritual in character.
This kingdom of God; of Christ, of heaven has a historical, organical realization. Its inception is in the Protevangel of Genesis 3:15, and more particularly in the seed of the promise projecting from the loins of Adam and into the line of succeeding generations of the believers and their seed. Historically and typically we see this kingdom manifested in the theocratic state, in the kingdom of Israel. Israel, as a nation, was called God’s people, God was their King, and this ancient people were His subjects. In the midst of this people He ruled, and that, too, in a land flowing with milk and honey, also a type and shadow of the heavenly which was to come. Spiritually and principally this kingdom is realized in the church of the new dispensation, in the hearts of the believers in Christ.
The children of the kingdom!
Children of the kingdom cast out!
By implication this indicates there are children who remain. These we call the real sons of the kingdom!
Speaking of the children which are cast out, the Lord evidently had in mind those children who were not really the children of the kingdom. They were those who no doubt reckoned themselves to be children, or who were considered by others to be such; they appeared to be legitimate children. They were in the first place children of Israel who belonged historically and typically to that ancient people of whom the apostle speaks in Romans 3 —to whom pertained circumcision, to whom were committed the oracles of God. And in Romans 9 they are described as those to whom pertained the adoption, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the service of God, and the promises. They were therefore considered the rightful heirs of the kingdom. They boasted in Christ’s day that they were the sons of God, who had Abraham for their father, and were therefore free. They dreamed that when the kingdom of Messiah would come, they and they only would sit down with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom feast. To them the Gentiles were but dogs, and in their kingdom the heathen could have no place. Moreover, these children who are cast out are those who today are baptized and perhaps even make profession of their faith, and therefore belong to the church in a formal and outward sense.
But to belong to the typical, outward form did not nor does it now by any means certify true sonship! Though circumcision and baptism are proper signs, they sealed only those who were of the faith of Abraham. All were cut in the flesh, but not in heart. All are not Israel who are merely called Israel. These sons of the kingdom cast out are sons only in form, and therefore do not bring forth the fruits of saving faith. Of these the Lord speaks elsewhere (Matt. 21:43), when He says: “Therefore say I unto you, the kingdom of God shall be taken from you, and given to a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof.” And again (Luke 13:28, 29), “There shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth, when you shall see Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob; and all the prophets, in the kingdom of God, and you yourselves thrust out. And they shall come from the east, and from the west, and from the north, and from the south; and shall sit down in the kingdom of God.” Surely, to be a son only in name and in form, does not certify true sonship. If the fruits of true sonship are missing the sons only in name shall be cast out!
And what are the characteristics of true sonship? How do those sons of the kingdom manifest themselves?
Jesus gives a beautiful picture of such a son in the remarkable illustration of the prodigal. You remember him as the one who spent all his substance in riotous living, and ended up sitting in the pigs sty. When he came to himself, he went to his father, repented of his sin, confessed his unworthiness to be called a son. Indeed, he who is truly a son of God and a child of the kingdom will not boast of any merit, nor presume a right to citizenship in the kingdom; but he by grace will be truly humbled, expecting no rights in God’s house or kingdom. And by faith, he will look away from himself unto the Only Begotten Son of God Who, by His perfect obedience, merited for him the right of sons, and the adoption unto children. By faith he will trust through grace that he is an heir of righteousness and eternal life because he is a joint-heir with Jesus Christ.
These sons of the kingdom are blessed!
Sons only in form are cursed indeed! They are cast out into the outer darkness, where there is weeping and gnashing of teeth!
Awful end of the ungodly!
O, it makes me to tremble, this mighty Word of God!
What terrible indictment against mere formal Christians! Perhaps at no other time in the history of the church is this sham formalism as pronounced as it is today. Why, almost everyone is called Christian in our time. Many there are who pride themselves in having their names appear on the records of the church, who rest on their having been baptized, or perhaps on the fact that they belong to a long line of forbearers who were members of, the church. To many it is not a question what one believes, or that one believes, if only he has some connection with the church—then all is well. When he is in the church service, it does not matter whether he is spiritually or physically awake, just so long as he is there—that is all that counts. When he is supposed to be praying, he takes a nap; and when he puts his money in the offering plate, he actually believes he is giving the Lord that with which He ought to be pleased; and when he sings, his thoughts are miles away. And to hear a good expository sermon causes him to hope for the “amen.” Sabbath after Sabbath he merely goes through the motions of religion, and during the week he lives as do the children of the world.
Cast out they shall be, into outer darkness!
Awful truth! That cuts right through your own flesh and blood, right through your family and church!
Figurative language, yet horrible reality! A figure depicting the eternal state and condition of the lost in hell! There many shall be separated from the fellowship and blessedness of the presence of God-manifested in His love. The place of the damned! “Where the worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched.” Where there is weeping and gnashing of teeth, signifying the anguish of those who are lost. It is the place of eternal, conscious torment. Like the fruitless branches of the Vine, they are going to be cut down and cast into the fire. In this judgment it shall be more tolerable for the hot-ten-tot of the jungles than for those who have known the way and refused to walk in it. It shall be more tolerable for Sodom, than for Capernaum!
But, O, how blessed are the sons, the real sons of the kingdom!
They shall come, and shall sit down with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, in the kingdom of heaven! Literally, the text says, “They shall lie down, recline, with Abraham, etc.” This reminds us of the custom at oriental feasts, where the celebrants lay on couches about festive tables. It holds in it the idea of jubilant festivity.
With Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob! These are the believing, covenant fathers; who knew of no formal worship of Jehovah their God, but who lived and died in the faith of the Lord Jesus; who looked for the city which has foundations, whose Builder and Artificer is God! They are the friends of God who inherited the promises. They wrestled with God and overcame with weeping and supplication. They were those who knew weeping in this vale of tears which is caused by the spiritual knowledge of sin, and because they were willing to bear the reproaches of Christ for a season; but who looked for the time when all their tears would be wiped away. They were the sons of the kingdom who became fathers, who obtained the grace of faith, who battled a spiritual warfare and who overcame. The spiritual forbearers of the real sons of the kingdom!
And with the Spirit of the Son in their hearts, testifying with their spirits that they are the sons of God, they come!
They come from the east and the west, to lie down in the kingdom of heaven!
Where the song of the banqueters will forever be: the Song of the Lamb that was slain, but Who is alive forever more!
And they shall never be ashamed, world without end!
Amen, and amen!