The Child of the Bridechamber

Matthew 9:9‑17  •  6 min. read  •  grade level: 6
The conversion of Matthew the publican will not, I believe, be fully enjoyed if we do not continue with it in our view to the end of verse 17; for I regard Matthew as being in that moment in the thoughts of the Lord, a new bottle with new wine in it.
The Lord met him in the place where the world had put him. He was a publican and was sitting at the receipt of custom. But He passed by, and it was a day of power; and Matthew was made willing. He hearkened diligently to Christ, and his soul at once delighted itself in fatness; for he arose and followed the Lord, and then spread a feast for Him.
This was joy and liberty, and Jesus sanctioned it. He sat at Matthew's table. This was done suddenly, it is true, but though sudden, it was not premature—though unbidden, it did not remain unsanctioned. The eunuch in his day went on his way rejoicing; and that rejoicing, like this of Matthew, was early and sudden, but it was not premature.
And in Matthew there was light and the mind of Christ, as well as liberty and the joy of Christ. He seated at the same table the publicans and sinners who had been following Jesus—the very people who had brought the Lord of glory from heaven, and the very people whom the Lord Himself will have at His own table in the day of the marriage supper—a company of redeemed sinners.
Matthew thus justly and beautifully understood t h e mind of Christ. He knew Him, though he had but just then been introduced to Him (like the dying thief), A short moment is time enough to carry the light and liberty of Christ into the dark and distant heart of either a thief or a publican.
Matthew was in Christ's presence in joy. He was a child of the bridechamber. He feasted the Lord. The King was sitting at his table, because, in spirit, Jesus had already brought Matthew to His banqueting house. This was the time of the kindness of his youth, or, the love of his espousals; and in that joy he had risen up, left all, and followed Christ. The world might, therefore, be to him a wilderness, a land not sown (Jer. 2:22Go and cry in the ears of Jerusalem, saying, Thus saith the Lord; I remember thee, the kindness of thy youth, the love of thine espousals, when thou wentest after me in the wilderness, in a land that was not sown. (Jeremiah 2:2)). But with Jesus he feasted. The word of power, the invitation of grace, he had listened to; and to his soul it had been "a feast of fat things" (Isa. 25:66And in this mountain shall the Lord of hosts make unto all people a feast of fat things, a feast of wines on the lees, of fat things full of marrow, of wines on the lees well refined. (Isaiah 25:6)), wine and milk of the King's providing. It was as a bridegroom, as a lover of his soul, Matthew h a d apprehended Christ, and was now entertaining Him at his table; and because of this newly found liberty and joy, Matthew is among the children of the bridechamber, a new bottle with the new wine in it.
Neither Moses nor John the Baptist could have made such a bottle as this. The word of Christ, heard in the light and energy of the Holy Ghost, could alone have provided it. On Him only, all the vessels of the Lord's house hang—the "flagons" and the "cups." The Pharisees and the disciples of John do not even understand this. The one object to the feast with sinners—the other, that the feast is not a fast. The legalist and the religionist, neither of them, can brook the publican's, that is, the sinner's, feast. The elder brother complains of the fatted calf. The music and the dancing, as the cheerful sound reaches him in his outside place, vex him—as the sight of the table and the company in the house of our Levi irritates the Pharisees as they look on and will not sit.
The Lord, however, vindicates both the feast and the guests. He lets it be heard, there on the spot and at the moment, that He had come to gather such a scene. And He thereby vindicates the host as having done the part of a child of the bridechamber, and as having done it well.
A simple, sweet story of grace! Would that one's heart realized the joy that the mind is tracing! Jesus found a publican, a sinner, just at his place in this wretched, self-seeking world; He took him up at once, made him a new bottle, and filled him with new wine, like the Samaritan at Jacob's well. She was taken up just as she was and where she was; and as another child of the bridechamber, she was sent on her way rejoicing. The world will "fret" itself, and be "driven to darkness," as the prophet speaks (Isa. 8). The heart of the Pharisee is rent by vexation at such a sight. The publican's feast is lost upon such, the new wine is spilled; as the Lord adds, "No man putteth a piece of new cloth unto an old garment; for that which is put in to fill it up taketh from the garment, and the rent is made worse. Neither do men put new wine into old bottles: else the bottles break, and the wine runneth out, and the bottles perish."
But then, days of absence and therefore days of sorrow of heart were to come after these feast days of His presence; but they had not come then. That day in Matthew's house was one of "the days of the Son of man." But the heart that can feast a present Jesus will mourn an absent Lord. The children of the bridechamber will fast during the Bridegroom's absence, because He is dear to them. It is not the Pharisee's fast of religious service and merit, but the fast of a heart that has been weaned away from other objects, and for the present has lost the presence of its own object.
It is not from experience but from desire only, one's heart traces the path of a child of the bridechamber. There are occasions and seasons when the state of the affections to Christ are sorrowfully discovered; and sure I am, we need more earnest eye for Him. Our look at Him has need to be a nearer one, more fixed and personal. Our sight of Him is too commonly conducted as by the light of others. We are prone to have Him in company, in the reflections and by the help of the scene and circumstances in which we place ourselves. I covet a more earnest look at Him—a look that can reach Him very closely and personally, without aid or countenance or company. The single eye knows Him only; the earnest eye enjoys Him deeply.
Mary at the sepulcher had it, when she could pass by the shining ones while looking for Him. The sinner of the city had it, when she could let the scorn of the Pharisee pass over her without moving her. The Samaritan had it, when she could forget her water pot; and the eunuch, when he went on heedless of the loss of Philip. Our Matthew had it. And it is this which not only realizes Christ, but puts Him in His due supreme place, and chief room both of attraction and authority.