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Bible Commentaries

James Nisbet's Church Pulpit Commentary
Luke 10

 

 

Other Authors
Verse 1

THE MISSION OF THE SEVENTY

‘The Lord appointed other seventy also, and sent them forth two and two.’

Luke 10:1

In our Lord’s charge to the seventy observe:—

I. The importance of prayer and intercession.—This is the leading thought with which our Lord opens His address. Before He tells His ambassadors what to do, He first bids them to pray. ‘Pray ye the Lord of the harvest that He would send forth labourers into His harvest.’ Prayer is one of the best and most powerful means of helping forward the cause of Christ in the world.

II. The perilous nature of the work in which they were about to be engaged.—The words describe a state of things which may be seen at this very day. So long as the Church stands, believers must expect to be like ‘lambs among wolves.’ They must make up their minds to be hated, and persecuted, and ill-treated by those who have no real religion. ‘All that will live godly in Jesus Christ,’ says St. Paul, ‘shall suffer persecution’ (1 John 3:13; 1 Peter 3:8).

III. The thorough devotion to their work which He enjoins upon them. They were to abstain even from the appearance of covetousness, or love of money, or luxury: ‘Carry neither purse, nor scrip, nor shoes.’ They were to behave like men who had no time to waste on the empty compliments and conventional courtesies of the world: ‘Salute no man by the way.’

IV. The simple-minded and contented spirit which He bade them to exhibit.—Wherever they tarried, in travelling about upon their Master’s business, they were to avoid the appearance of being fickle, changeable, delicate livers, or hard to please about food and lodging. They were to ‘eat and drink such things’ as were given them. They were not to ‘go from house to house.’

Illustrations

(1) ‘The Greek word translated “appointed” is only found in one other place in the New Testament (Acts 1:24), where it is rendered “shew.” According’ to Parkhurst, it signifies “to mark out, or, appoint to an office by some outward sign, and is often used in this sense by profane writers and in the apocryphal books.” John the Baptist’s “shewing” to Israel (Luke 1:80) is a substantive derived from this word.’

(2) ‘We know nothing of the names or subsequent history of these seventy disciples. They are nowhere else mentioned in the New Testament. Most commentators remark on the selection of the number seventy, and assign reasons for it. Grotius says that they were chosen according to the number of the Jewish Sanhedrim, and so were seventy-two, six being chosen out of every tribe of Israel. Wordsworth remarks that “the number seventy was that of the heads of the families of Israel (Genesis 46:27), and of the elders constituted by Moses (Numbers 11:16; Numbers 11:25), and of the palm trees at Elim (Exodus 15:27). And the Jews supposed that the languages of the world were seventy.”’

(3) ‘The mission of the disciples in pairs deserves remark, and ought to be remembered in modern missionary work. “Two are better than one” (Ecclesiastes 4:9). Cornelius à Lapide has a long and interesting note to show the wisdom of the arrangement.’

(4) ‘The Greek expression “He would come” would be more literally rendered “was about to come.”’


Verse 5

A CORDIAL SALUTATION

‘And into whatsoever house ye enter, first say, Peace be to this house.’

Luke 10:5

Among the instructions delivered to the seventy was this instruction which was that without waiting to prove their entertainers they were to enter upon their quarters pleasantly, cheerfully. It was to be their habit to anticipate the best.

I. We know how very doubtful some persons always are, in reference to anything new, which they have not yet tested. There is not a particle of sweet faith in them. It seems impossible for them to expect smilingly that good is coming to them. You proffer them a new idea, a new plan, or method, and you can tell by their manner that their hearts are far from whispering ‘Peace to this thing.’ Have we never noticed the difference between two persons in taking possession of some temporary lodging! How soon something is certain to be found by him who does not say first to the house ‘Peace to you’! These are little things, and yet Christ spake of and cared for them.

II. The seventy were to assume also that the inmates were worthy of cordial salutation.—Begin always, says Christ, by feeling graciously towards them. The average Englishman is not at all given to this, and needs to be exhorted and urged in this direction. He is naturally shy of strangers, and perhaps shows some suspicion too. Yet Christ charges us that we learn to beam upon our fellows whom we chance to encounter. Let us nourish the habit of believing in one another, of anticipating discoveries of beauty and grace in one another.

III. The Incarnation of the Lord constitutes us all brethren together with Him; and how can he be said to confess that it is so who is not prepared to think generously of every man whom he meets, to look upon him with feelings of goodwill, and to accept him cordially? Thus the little thing on which we have been dwelling runs up into, and has its root in, a very great thing—nothing less, really, than our faith in the Holy Incarnation.

Illustration

‘It is probable that “Peace be to this house” was a common Jewish form of salutation’ (See 1 Samuel 25:6; Psalms 122:7-8).


Verse 9

CHARACTERISTICS OF THE MESSAGE

‘Say unto them, the kingdom of God is come nigh unto you.’

Luke 10:9

It was a simple message that Christ entrusted to His earnest, expectant band of young field-preachers: ‘The kingdom of God is come nigh unto you.’ Twice He repeated it in the final short epitome of instructions with which He armed them for the delightful experiment they were about to make.

I. Directness of statement.—The heart of Jesus was glad within Him at the utter simplicity and directness of the message. The wise and prudent would have composed it into an elaborate system, and fitted it in with schemes of philosophical thought which would have required years of study for anybody to understand. And their systems would have presented so many points of disagreement, argument, and attack, that all their energies would have been expended in polishing their own thought, refining their unintelligible jargon, and, by reducing each other’s views to absurdity, proving their own intellectual superiority.

II. Singleness of purpose.—The kingdom on earth was begun. The call had been given. The meaning of it would be seen when He died and when He rose. Henceforth it could never be spoiled. From time to time it might be overlaid by human inventions and accretions. But there would be the original message to call men back to the truth as it is in Jesus. The attempt to dress up the truths of the Gospel in the tight-fitting clothes of human speculation, or to express its simple ideas in the jargon of current philosophy, has always been disastrous. The great Christian writer, Origen, tried to combine the Gospel with Platonism, but though his views are singularly beautiful and attractive, they led him far astray into the field of fantastic speculation, and prevented him from being recognized as a father of the Church. What was it that trammelled the life of Christendom so heavily in the Middle Ages? It was the painful labours of the schoolmen in translating the Gospel into the language of the system of Aristotle, and making it the vehicle for conveying opinion and speculation on every subject. And in the present day nothing is more discouraging than to hear ingenious preachers toilingly disguising the glad tidings of Redemption in the theories of Hegel, or striving to explain away the Atonement in a manner that would remove the offence of the Cross from a fastidious world, or depressing one doctrine and distorting or exaggerating another in order to place God’s message on a level with the accepted philosophies of the hour.

III. Simplicity of ideal.—In all our preaching we need the simple truths of the Lord Jesus Christ, put forth on His authority, and urged with all the warmth and earnestness of convinced and redeemed and believing hearts. The old appeal on the broad, simple principles of sin, redemption, faith, obedience, love, grace, glory, and immortality will always have the old results. Wherever an evangelist goes forth in the power of the Lord Jesus Christ to say to his hearers ‘The kingdom of God is come nigh unto you,’ there he will be able to return to His Master’s side, when wearied with the day’s toil and craving a Divine rest and refreshment, and will be able to say to Him with humble and adoring gratitude, ‘Lord, even the devils are subject to us through Thy Name.’

Archdeacon W. M. Sinclair.

Illustrations

(1) ‘What a confusion and indefinite postponement there would have been if our Lord had summoned to His side Plato and Aristotle, Epicurus and Zeno, Cicero and Seneca, Bacon, Hobbes, Spinoza, Locke, Leibnitz, Hume, Kant, Fichte, Schelling, Hegel, Schleiermacher, Comte, and Mill! To the end of their days they would have been discussing the source of knowledge, the nature of belief, the meaning of the world of sense, the composition of the human mind, and all those other theoretical puzzles by which the intellectual giants of the human race have sublimated thought and influenced speculation. That was not what our Lord wanted. He would never have got His Gospel preached. He had a simple word straight from Almighty God to simple hearts. That simple word was the Kingdom of God among men.’

(2) ‘It was to be a kingdom of simple spiritual truths once uttered on His own authority in the name of the great Father of all things, and to be taken by even the most ignorant of men into their very heart of hearts. Our Lord looked forward at that moment to the unlettered slave in some West Indian plantation, free with a Divine internal freedom beyond the thrones of emperors, and comforting his soul under savage lash and fettering chains with hymns of grace and glory. He foresaw the boys of Madagascar willingly thrown from the rock of death on the mangling stones below, for the joy of the truths which had saved them from sin. He had before Him the heavenly peace that would fill the mind of the rustic aged Highland woman on her lonely island, where the loud echoes of the world never sound; or the grandsire as with the sonorous voice of absolute faith and entire reverence he conducts the daily worship of his little family; or the brooding of the Holy Spirit in some whitewashed barn of a building, where hearts that have never learned to doubt ponder with quiet certainty the things of God. He saw the London artisan, that overwhelmed unit in the unprecedented surroundings of five millions of busy and bustling atoms of humanity, all crowded together into one bewildering struggle of conflicting voices, gathering himself together into classes for the study of that Divine Word which alone has brought peace and patience to the soul of man.’


Verse 18

A TRUE SENSE OF PROPORTION

‘And He said unto them, I beheld Satan as lightning fall from heaven.’

Luke 10:18

Let us seek honestly to imitate our Master, and look upon our world as He looked upon this earth, when as from a position in eternity He saw Satan fall from heaven.

I. If we look upon our own lives as one looks back upon a way already trodden, and a work already accomplished, we shall gain a truer sense of the proportion of things. This true sense of proportion in life is hard for us to keep in the nearness of present things; yet it is essential to large, happy living that we should gain and keep it. Whenever we shall be far enough out in eternity to look back and see our lives as one whole, we shall understand better God’s grouping of events in them.

II. In so far as we can put ourselves in the exercise of our own faiths beyond this life, we shall gain in many respects a different, and in all a more just, estimate of our own real attainments. We shall see more clearly what we may expect to win for ourselves from life.

III. Only as we strive to throw ourselves forward into the life beyond, and to consider our whole existence here as it is in its relation to the man and his life then and there, can we form a safe estimate of the worth of things.


Verse 20

TEMPTATIONS OF A USEFUL LIFE

‘In this rejoice not, that the spirits are subject unto you; but rather rejoice, because your names are written in heaven.’

Luke 10:20

We always require to obey Christ’s command, to watch and pray lest we enter into temptation. Even our very duties may be a snare to us; and we may be falling away from the path of life, even when we seem to others and to ourselves to be following it most steadily.

I. This concerns all those who are engaged in promoting works of charity, and most of all, who are labouring to do good to their neighbour in the great matter of his soul, and who, therefore, may be inclined to think that they are employed most securely. It concerns, too, every man who, doing good in his generation, is setting forward the Kingdom of Christ, and is, so far, casting out devils in his Master’s name.

II. What it is that the spirit of Christ’s words recommends to us?

(a) We must often go to Christ, the Fountain of life, and refresh ourselves with His Spirit. Let us treat as one of the devil’s worst snares the temptation which we may feel to trust in our own useful lives and virtuous feelings, and, therefore, to neglect coming to God; that is, to neglect the only means of knowing ourselves thoroughly, and thus of obtaining a cure for every weakness of our souls, and a guard to save us from falling away, through the Spirit of Christ our Saviour.

(b) Christ Himself was accustomed to commence the day with His Heavenly Father.—In this, as in all the rest of His life, He was our Example that we should follow His steps; and if He, to Whom the Spirit was given without measure, did not neglect the means of gaining fresh spiritual strength by prayer and devout meditation, how can we neglect it, without being certain that we shall suffer for our presumption?

—Rev. T. Arnold.


Verse 21

THE JOY OF THE LORD

‘In that hour Jesus rejoiced in spirit.’

Luke 10:21

What were the grounds of our Lord’s joy?

I. That the Father had passed by the worldly-wise and prudent, and had revealed the glorious things of the Gospel to those whom the world regarded as ‘babes’ in intellect, in power, and in knowledge. These ‘babes,’ then, are not children of tender years, but children in docility, humility, and simplicity; those who not only ‘from a child have known the Holy Scriptures,’ but who, as a child, have received them into their understandings and hearts. Now let us pause and press the inquiry, Has the Gospel been revealed to you? Has it pleased God to reveal His Son in you?

II. That the sovereignty of God was thus displayed.—Seeing that the Gospel, hidden from the wise, was revealed unto babes, and resolving this into the sovereign will and discriminating grace of God, He rejoiced in spirit, and said, ‘Even so, Father, for so it seemeth good in Thy sight.’ And here it is we must find a solution to what would else, in our poor ken, appear partial, unjust, and inexplicable in God’s testimony of His grace—why the Gospel should be a hidden thing to one, a revealed thing to another; why one should be called and another left, we can only explain and understand in the exercise of that Divine sovereignty which belongs essentially to God. ‘He giveth no account of any of His matters.’ Who art thou, then, O man, that repliest against God? Shall not He, the Judge of all the earth, do right? Has He not a right to do with His own as He will? And in the merciful decisions of His grace, and in the awful decisions of His providence, and in the yet more tremendous decisions of His judgment, He, the most upright, will be guided by the eternal principles of righteousness, rectitude, and wisdom. Beware, then, how you quarrel with God’s sovereignty!

Rev. Dr. Octavius Winslow.

Illustration

‘It is a frequently-quoted remark of one of the Fathers that Christ was often seen to weep, but never once to smile. We doubt both the correctness and the wisdom of the statement. Our Lord was a man of joy as well as a man of sorrow. He must, in the fathomless depths of His holy soul, have been as intimately acquainted with gladness as with grief—with the emotion of joy as with the feeling of sorrow. And can we picture Him to our mind thus rejoicing in spirit, the oil of gladness poured upon Him without measure, and insinuating itself into the innermost depths of His being, without a gleam, a smile of joy lighting up that benign, placid, and expressive countenance which more than all others must have been a perfect index of the soul’s hidden, varied, and profound emotions? Impossible! A portrait of Christ with nought but shadows—shadows of grief and sorrow darkening the entire picture—would be wanting in one of its most essential and life-like features.’

(SECOND OUTLINE)

THE JOY OF THE LORD’S PEOPLE

If Christ was a man of joy we, who are Christ’s, should be joyful too. And yet how much this Christian grace is overlooked!

Consider some grounds of the Christian’s joy.

I. His possession of Christ.

II. The work of Christ for him.

III. The coming of the Lord to receive him unto Himself.

Rev. Dr. Octavius Winslow.

Illustration

(1) ‘A Persian allegory tells how there was a beautiful fragrance about some common clay. When asked the reason the clay replied, “I have been near where a rose tree grows.” So all who come near Christ are near the Fountain of Joy.’

(2) ‘Then may the life, which now on earth I live,

Be spent for Him, who His for me did give.

Oh! make me, Lord, in all I will and do,

Ever to keep Thy glory in my view.

And when my course is run, and fought the fight.

Life’s struggles o’er, and faith is changed to sight,

Then all triumphant I shall ever be,

Safe in Thy Home, for I belong to Thee.

“Fullness of joy” with all Thy ransom’d there,

In Thy loved presence I shall ever share;

With them I’ll sing the love that made us free,

The grace that taught us we belonged to Thee.’


Verse 23-24

PRIVILEGES AND RESPONSIBILITY

‘Blessed are the eyes which see the things that ye see: for I tell you, that many prophets and kings have desired to see those things which ye see, and have not seen them; and to hear those things which ye hear, and have not heard them.’

Luke 10:23-24

The full significance of these words will probably never be understood until the last day.

I. The privilege of the Christian position.—We have probably a most faint idea of the enormous advantages enjoyed by believers who have lived since Christ came into the world, compared to those of believers who died before Christ was born. The difference between the knowledge of an Old Testament saint and a saint in the apostles’ days is far greater than we conceive. It is the difference of twilight and noonday, of winter and summer, of the mind of a child and the mind of a full-grown man. No doubt the Old Testament saints looked to a coming Saviour by faith, and believed in a resurrection and a life to come. But the coming and death of Christ unlocked a hundred scriptures which before were closed, and cleared up scores of doubtful points which before had never been solved. In short, ‘the way into the holiest was not made manifest, while the first tabernacle was standing’ (Hebrews 9:8). The humblest Christian believer understands things which David and Isaiah could never explain.

II. The responsibility of the Christian position.—The passage should impress us with a deep sense of our own debt to God and of our great responsibility for the full light of the Gospel. Let us see that we make a good use of our many privileges. Having a full Gospel, let us beware that we do not neglect it. It is a weighty saying, ‘To whomsoever much is given, of them will much be required’ (Luke 12:48).


Verse 27

THE FIRST AND GREAT COMMANDMENT

‘Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart.’

Luke 10:27

When we turn to consider the first and great commandment, we discover on all sides tendencies to partial, one-sided conceptions of the duty which it inculcates. But no condition can quit us of the obligation to give unto God the love of our hearts. We, as English folk, are not perfect as a people. We might surely endeavour to cultivate some happy mean in feeling and worship between the tropics and the Arctic regions of piety. We do know something in this country of the religion of St. Paul and St. James, but too little of the religion of John, the religion of the heart for God.

I. How is personal love possible?—But some one may say, ‘How is this to be won? How is a personal devotion to, and affection for, God at all possible?’ Surely the answer is plain. When in the impulse of a similar doubt the Apostle Philip exclaimed to his Master, ‘Lord, show us the Father, and it sufficeth us,’ we note the Divine reply: ‘He that hath seen Me hath seen the Father.’ The Incarnation has revealed to us the possibility of loving God with all our hearts. ‘We love Him because He first loved us.’ It may be with you and with me just as it was with Mary Magdalene, when she poured that precious ointment upon His Head. It was the expression of a faith intensely personal. He asks for our personal love on the ground that we have no such Friend in the world, ‘the same yesterday, to-day, and for ever.’

II. Love’s constraining power.—When St. Paul wrote to the Corinthians these inspiring words, ‘the love of Christ constraineth me,’ he meant not the love that he felt for Christ, but the love which Christ felt for him. His own love was no doubt consequent upon that, a mere matter of course about which he cared not to speak, so inferior a thing did it seem to him. It was the Master’s care for him, for others, for a world steeped in misery and degradation, that seized upon his very soul, that called forth all his energies, that explained everything in his devoted career.

III. Love the root of Christian character.—Let me ask one other question, for the answer to it shows why it was, why it is, that God asks for the love of our hearts. What is it that really determines character? It is not what you do that mainly determines what you are, because it is possible to do so many good things from bad motives. It is love that lies at the root of Christian character—God’s love, the love of what is good. This love of God is the only absolutely pure motive. Christ cares for us and for what we are more than He cares even for the work that we do. The Son of Man has but one test question for every disciple who claims His salvation—the simple question, ‘Lovest thou Me?’

—Archdeacon H. E. J. Bevan.

Illustration

‘I bore with thee long weary days and nights,

Through many pangs of heart, through many tears;

I bore with thee, thy hardness, coldness, slights,

For three-and-thirty years.

Who else had dared for thee what I have dared?

I plunged the depths most deep from bliss above,

I, not my flesh, I, not my Spirit spared;

Give thou Me love for Love.’

(SECOND OUTLINE)

THE LAW OF LIFE

What a strange and startling command, to be ordered to love! We can understand obedience in a thousand matters; we can allow and justify an order to do this or to do that; we might even go so far as to concede the right to dictate what we should think and believe, so ignorant are we of the reality of things, so dependent on the condescension of wiser and holier men; but love! Love surely is the one thing we cannot but retain in our own possession.

One thing then certainly Christ our King presumes to do: He presumes to have the entire command of our affections.

I. Let us consider Who it is that demands love of us.—It is our Maker. He made us, not by any binding necessity, nor yet for any play or pastime of His own, but solely because the very core of His innermost being is fatherhood; He is God, because He is the eternal Father; the Fatherhood is His Godhead. Now perhaps we see daylight. Love is a natural necessity between human parent and child; and love therefore belongs, by the same necessity, to our Divine relationships. For out upon us that mighty fatherhood of God has poured forth its abounding treasure; into our souls His fullness has flowed; underneath us, without fail, now and always, His everlasting arms uphold us; our very characters are only alive in the illuminating fire of His immediate and anointing Spirit.

II. But who are we that we should love God?—What possible meaning has this love to us? We go our own way, we follow our own tastes, we pick our way along the world; we have joys and sorrows, friends and foes of our own; we make interests; we laugh and cry; we fail or we succeed. All this fills up our days and occupies our minds; and where is there any room for the love of a far-away, invisible God? Yes; it is a strange, hard, surprising request. It falls oddly on our ears; it sounds thin and alien and unfamiliar. Yet on it the issues of our lives hang; God has no other test, no other appeal.

III. We must secure and foster the conditions of our sonship; and what does this signify? It signifies this, that the entire movement of our lives must set outward, away from ourselves; for we are sons, and sons, as they draw their life from another, so too find their glory and delight in devoting their lives to another. The first act of sonship then is faith. Faith is the first motion of the soul away from itself, away from its own interest and self-seeking, back to God the mighty Giver. Faith then is the germ of love.

—Rev. Canon H. Scott Holland.

Illustration

‘It is love that the heart cries for, and the only real answer to the poor sinful man or woman wanting to reach the life eternal is to show them God with love in His eyes, to show them God with His heart yearning for them. That is what Christ did. He bade men thus penitent to go away and keep the law, but He knew they never could do that until they had first got God for their friend; therefore He showed them God.’


Verse 28

KNOWLEDGE AND PRACTICE

‘Thou hast answered right: this do, and thou shalt live.’

Luke 10:28

This was our Lord’s answer to the Jewish lawyer’s question, ‘What shall I do to inherit eternal life?’

I. Put knowledge into practice.—Love the Lord thy God with all thy heart and thy neighbour as thyself, and you will have the full and complete answer to your question. This man had to learn what every one of us has to learn—namely, that learning and working must go together, hand in hand, in religion; that knowledge and practice must not be separated. This man had the one—he had the knowledge, but he had not got the other; and if he would gain that which he sought he must link the two together. There is an old saying that knowledge is power. Well, so it is if you put it into practice; but without putting it into practice it is very much like a steam-engine without a fire in the furnace.

II. What is the use of education?—Certainly to develop the powers of the mind—certainly that. But its first and chief object is to enable a man to do the duties of life which lie before him in the spirit of the Master. The separation of knowledge and practice is simply disastrous. Christianity is a practical matter, and unless we use the strength given to us by that God to Whom we pray we miss the point altogether. There are very many things in the revelation of God in the Bible that we cannot understand; but what if we fail to put into practice those which we do know? Knowledge without practice in religious matters is useless and disastrous, as faith without works is dead.

III. Faith is like a little child that must needs take the smallest and the shortest steps first.—We must not despise the day of small belief; but, as we follow the law of Christ, ‘This do, and thou shalt live,’ even in the simple and apparently insignificant details of Christian duty, leaning the while on the supporting hand of God, we shall find by degrees the strength we need to put our knowledge into practice.

IV. Our Lord’s life was pre-eminently a life of deeds.—For the most part they were like the acts of the Samaritan in the parable. They were mostly concerned with the feeding of the hungry and the healing of the sick, so that His commission to the lawyer, ‘This do, and thou shalt live,’ was literally the law of His own life—a law that fits the smallest as well as the largest matters, be they what they may.

—Rev. T. H. S. Polehampton.

Illustration

‘I think that the Lord, as soon as the scribe had given his reply, looked him straight in the face; and to understand the thing you must not merely hear what Christ says, you must think how He said it, the intonation of voice, and the look: “Thou hast answered right.” That is the way to life eternal, loving God with all thy heart and soul, and mind, and strength, and thy neighbour as thyself. This do, and thou shalt live. The look meant, “Dare you pretend that you do that”; and the man felt it, and therefore, we read, was eager to justify himself. Christ had put him in the wrong, not by what he says, but by that look and intonation.’


Verse 29

THE DEVELOPMENT OF CHARACTER

‘Who is my neighbour?’

Luke 10:29

The turning-point in the development of a character has an interest of its own. Whether these words represented the actual turning-point in the character of the man who questioned our Lord, we cannot be certain. He may have been led to accept more of our Lord’s teaching after he heard the parable, but, as far as we see, the words represented a moment when he had to make the choice between two standards, between that in which he had been brought up and that which our Lord was striving to put before him.

I. A low spiritual standard.—But possibly the very interest of the parable and its universal application to ourselves may have dwarfed or hidden from us what I call the psychological interest of the incident in the development of the questioner himself. He addressed an inquiry to our Lord, probably in perfect honesty and good faith, an inquiry which represents very fairly the spiritual standard of his day. It was ‘What shall I do to inherit eternal life?’ And from the way in which our Lord treats it, it is evident, I think, that He detected in the question two total inadequacies in the man’s conception of life and its possibilities:

(a) That he regarded the eternal life hereafter as a possession to be entered into rather than a character to be acquired, as something to be bestowed from without, not something to be lived into from within; and

(b) As the inevitable consequence of that, that to him the highest conduct was simply a means to an end and not an end, a supreme end, in itself. This will come out further, I think, as we go on.

II. Conduct and life.—‘Teacher, what shall I do that I may inherit eternal life? What conduct here and now is required of me as a means to an end?’ Not, ‘What conduct is supreme and perfect in itself, and worthy to be regarded as an end without anything coming beyond?’ ‘That I may inherit eternal life,’ that is the reward purchased by conduct paid down; ‘I may enter into’ a possession to be bestowed upon him hereafter by God. Mark the conceptions. You see one of conduct and the other of life. Conduct as a means to an end, and life as a possession to be entered into. Our Lord appeals to a standard with which the man was well acquainted, into which he shows himself to have entered rather deeply, to bring out the inadequacy of his conceptions. ‘What is written in the Law? How readest thou?’ And the man replied with that glorious summary which reduced the whole Law to love. And when he has made this answer, our Lord rejoins to him, ‘This do, and thou shalt enter into life’? No; for that would have been coming down to his own conception: ‘This do, and thou shalt live.’ This do, and eternal life, which you look for hereafter as a possession, shall be realised by you as a character now. Then comes that which I have spoken of as apparently the turning-point; the two conceptions are before the man, and for that moment, at any rate, he chooses the lower. ‘He, willing to justify himself,’ wishing to establish the justifiability of the position with which he started, answered, ‘And who is my neighbour?’ That is to say, who is not my neighbour? To ask ‘who is my neighbour?’ acknowledges that there are those who are not your neighbours, limits your duty to those who are; in fact, brings the whole question of life and its possibilities, its character and its reward, back to the old level with which he started. From that we see the whole meaning and scope of the parable. What does it come to?

III. The parable.—Our Lord tells him that there were once three men, two of whom took that conception of conduct as a means to an end, not as the supreme end in itself, two of whom regarded life as a possession to be purchased and entered into and not as a character to be lived; but a third to whom life meant opportunity, to whom conduct was supreme, to whom eternal life, something to be begun here and now in the perfect development of one’s self by God’s help, and so, and so only, to be realised as a possession, assured, eternal hereafter. Shall we not say this of the good Samaritan, that if he never realised before what eternal life was, he began to live it there and then on the road between Jerusalem and Jericho!

Bishop Mylne.

(SECOND OUTLINE)

A MORAL REVELATION

Our Lord answered this question, not by a definition, but by a narrative. A definition addresses itself to the understanding, but a narrative, generally, at least, speaks to the heart. That story of the good Samaritan was, to such a man as this lawyer, nothing less than a moral revelation. It showed him that he stood face to face with a master of the human heart.

On what does the teaching of the parable rest?

I. It depends on a natural fact—the fact that we all derive our life from a common parent. ‘God has made of one blood all the nations of the earth.’

II. It depends on the high honour put upon our race by our Lord Jesus Christ. He took our nature upon Him. Our common nature has been ennobled by this companionship with our exalted Lord.

III. A lesson for all time.—In the darkest time the good Samaritan has lived on in the Church of the Divine Saviour; and he is just as difficult, and by God’s grace he is just as easy of imitation in our own day as ever. ‘Go and do thou likewise.’

Rev. Canon Liddon.

Illustration

‘The parable shows how easy it is for men of the sanctuary to be far less tender-hearted than laymen, who pass their lives in matters which have nothing to do, for the most part, with the things of God. It gives us a rich and instructive lesson in the practical character of genuine philanthropy, and it shadows out the Divine charity, taking compassion in the fullness of the centuries, upon the wounds of suffering humanity, and placing redeemed man in the holy home of souls till the end of time. But we turn from these points to consider the one point, “Who is my neighbour?” Our Lord answers the lawyer by a counter question. “Which of the three, priest, Levite, Samaritan, was neighbour to the wounded man?” This word neighbour He implies involves reciprocal relationship. “As thyself.” Human self-love is to be the measure of Christian charity. The neighbour of the parable is the Samaritan, who feels that had he been the wounded man the Jew ought to have helped him. A Samaritan! What a neighbour to a Jewish imagination! He was a living outrage on all that a Jew revered and loved. Our Lord had chosen an instance which would prove in the clearest terms that this law of neighbourly duty has no frontier whatever within the human family.’


Verse 30

A PICTURE OF BROTHERLY LOVE

‘And Jesus answering said, A certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among thieves.”

Luke 10:30

The parable shows us three things in answer to the lawyer’s question.

I. How uncommon is love to our neighbour.—We might have thought a Priest and Levite would give help, good men apparently (Deuteronomy 18:7; Hebrews 5:2). But deeds show what religion is worth (2 Timothy 3:5; Titus 1:16). Doubtless they said ‘We don’t know him.’ ‘No time.’ ‘Enough of our own to see to.’ This is what the world says. It has no love (1 John 3:10). It regards persons (James 2:1-9; Jude 1:16). Love is the gift of the Holy Spirit (Galatians 5:22; see 1 John 4:7). And no matter what other signs there may be, this is the test of discipleship (John 13:35; 1 Corinthians 13).

II. Who the neighbour is whom we are to love.—The only one who helped the wounded Jew was a Samaritan, one whom the Jews would avoid (John 4:9). He does not think of this. He only sees a man in trouble. So our neighbour is everybody (God loved the world: John 3:16), though of course we shall be more closely drawn to those who are believers with us (Galatians 6:10; cf. 1 Timothy 4:10). A Christian will act as Christ (Matthew 5:43-44; 1 Peter 3:8-9); but in love there is to be no respect of persons. See what the wise man says on this subject (Ecclesiastes 11:3-4).

III. In what way we are to love that neighbour.—The Samaritan not only felt for, but also laboured for the wounded man. Real love is seen in action (John 14:15; Philemon 1:5-7). See the case of Jacob (Genesis 29:20). This is what St. Paul calls the ‘labour of love’ (1 Thessalonians 1:3); not in word only, but in deed and in truth. Look at Christ (2 Corinthians 8:9; Acts 10:38). Does not a word like this show us how little we know of true love? Let us not dismiss it without praying to have more of the mind of Christ in this respect (1 Peter 2:21). Oh, to be less selfish! to see in every man a soul for whom Christ died! to say I must do for Him as Christ would do! He is my neighbour.

—Bishop Rowley Hill.

Illustration

‘It remains a sadly disappointing fact that the wounded man still lies dying by the roadside. Take some of the most serious evils which prey on human nature, are they diminishing? I do not mean are the examples, the cases of injury less, but is the appeal which they make to human weakness, the fascination which they exercise over the victims whom they attack, less? Are we making any way, for instance, in the matter of purity? Those who have to do with our homes for the fallen say they feel that more and more the attempt is being made to patch up the victims of this sin, and to send them out with a veneer of respectability into the world to earn their living, rather than submit them to the longer, more penetrating, more efficacious remedy of the penitentiary. Look at the state of society. Can any one say that it is sound and healthy in this respect? The divorce courts still pursue their course, slowly and surely sapping the family life. A glance at the list of cases which are down for trial at our sessions will show in these cases which come to the surface a deep-seated corruption which shows no sign of diminishing, but rather of going off into worse and more degraded development. Look, again, at drunkenness. Much, thank God, has been done by devoted effort on the part of temperance societies, and yet do they do more than keep at bay this terrible evil which seems to mock at all schemes of social improvement, and to destroy the life and self-respect of the nation? Look, again, at dishonesty in its various forms, gambling and betting, and all the associated evils, which pull men down beneath the cruel knife of the destroyer. Are offences against property, lying, and deceit, less able than they were to appeal to the evil in man and help him to work his own ruin?’

(SECOND OUTLINE)

THE WOUNDED TRAVELLER

While we talk of the things of this parable in the abstract, we all know that in some way or other they have a direct personal significance. Who has not lost something on this Jericho road?

Look back to the Jerusalem from which you started, and you will see that some things have gone which you cannot recover, and it may be you are wounded, it may be you have received on that road the blow which is sapping your spiritual strength, in sins which you are powerless, as it seems, to throw off, until you have acquiesced in their presence, and bowed to what you conceive to be the inevitable.

I. The strength and vitality of sin.—In this aspect of the parable, viewed, that is, as we are viewing it now, there stands forth with startling clearness the strength and the vitality of sin. When a man is on the full flood of temptation, he does not pause to listen to advice. He sees the better cause and approves of it; he follows the worse. Many of the excellent schemes which are propounded do not touch the root of the matter. How are we to deal with the dread power of temptation, which throws all sense of prudence or restraint to the winds? The battle has to be fought within the soul, and the enemy to be vanquished there.

II. The greater power of God.—It is when we are tempted to despair that we must realise the greater strength of Christ. ‘I believe in God the Father Almighty.’ Great issues are wrapped up in that word ‘Almighty.’ We somehow have brought ourselves to believe that there are two powers in the world, one good and one evil, between whom we are bandied about, and that evil is sometimes more potent than good. This is not so—there is only one Almighty, and that is God; And if we realise, as we should realise, the immense power of evil, let us also realise the greater power of God. Why does that God lay bare His arm and rise up to save? Satan forces himself on us, he comes unbidden to our inmost thoughts, he spoils our greatest joys, and tempts us by fierce, unwelcome onslaughts. Why does not God compel us? Why does He not take us, as the angel took Lot, and draw us out of the evil? Because He respects our free will; because He asks for our trust and co-operation with Him. Think how the whole Church system is charged with strength. Is not this the very thing which our effete materialism needs, and our poor weak wills demand. The whole secret surely of the salvation of man, as he lies bleeding to death on the road of this life, consists in giving him strength, helping him to get away, to walk, to stand upright. We have got so into the way of thinking the Church to be a well-ordered system, to which we give an intellectual assent, one among many sects which we prefer, that we have forgotten that it is the way of salvation.

III. Christ the Good Samaritan.—Let us fall back more completely and earnestly on Christ our Good Samaritan. It is dangerous to stay outside His loving tenderness for us. There has come to be a sort of feeling, I know not how, that His arm is shortened, that He cannot save. People who never read themselves, or have the capacity for understanding if they did, the attacks of reckless criticism made on the Holy Scriptures, have got an uncomfortable feeling that the Bible is discredited and damaged. It is not so; there are hundreds and thousands yet who are content to accept the Bible as our Lord and Master and the saints and Apostles accepted it, not as a literary puzzle, or as a book of mere antiquarian interest, or as a fable book of moral stories, or of poetry and history which can be expurgated for a provided school. People have become weary of the controversies which surround the Church and her doctrines, and are tempted by scares of Sacerdotalism and Romanism, instead of making proof of the treasures of God’s grace therein stored. But one thing is clear, and every day makes it clearer—namely, that only the Good Samaritan can help the wounded traveller.

Rev. Canon Newbolt.

(THIRD OUTLINE)

THE SAMARITAN’S DEED

To appreciate the conduct of the Samaritan aright, let us consider—

I. Who he was.—It was to one of a hated race that the priest and Levite left their wounded countryman. Many a bitter gibe and sneer had this Samaritan suffered of the Jews; but now with that wretched man in his hands his hour of vengeance had arrived. Nobly he avenged himself. He approaches and bends over the dying man; but not to finish what the robbers had all but completed. Risking his property, venturing even his life, he treats a fallen enemy as if he had been a wounded brother—his own mother’s son.

II. What he did.—Conquering his prejudices and those fears for his safety which, amid such scenes and with such a sight before him, were not unnatural, he hastes to the rescue. By this story Jesus teaches us to do good to all men as we have opportunity, and to rejoice in the opportunities of doing it.

III. From the Samaritan to Christ.—Here we turn from contemplating Christian love in the Samaritan to contemplate it in the Saviour—its celestial source and perfect pattern.


Verse 35

GOD’S REPAYMENTS

‘Whatsoever thou spendest more, when I come again, I will repay thee.’

Luke 10:35

There is part of our duty which is under special contract, quite defined—the ‘two-pence’ given, and the ‘two-pence’ to be laid out. But beyond the ‘two-pence’ there is more which is not so definite, but which must be done, and just as much done, in faith, waiting for a settlement by and by.

So it is in life. There are some things which God has told us to do; quite positively, and quite distinctly. These are commandments. But, beside and beyond commandments, there are many other things about which we have not such clear instruction—which are left to our own feelings, to our own suggestions, to our own judgments, to a principle. These are the more. And these are the greater things—the largest part of the religious life.

I. Payment promised.—For some things you do for God you have an instant payment; a compensation; a remuneration at the time—in a success—in a retributive Providence—in a greater supply of felt grace and joy; the beginning, the ‘two-pence,’ are the pledges of the rest to come. But others are left for the grand account at the last; all a matter of trust. And here is the great test of a man: ‘Can you work, can you spend for God, with nothing to show for it; with nothing whatever in hand—leaving all to the final reckoning, and confident that it will all be made right, and you will receive back all you have said, and all you have done, a thousandfold?’

II. A sound investment.—Depend upon this, there is no investment in the world like what you do for Christ, and give for Him, and for His sake. You may, or you may not, have some present return in Providence. You are sure to have some return, perhaps in an increase in grace and peace: but these things are the interest; the capital is in the securities of heaven; in the bank of the faithful love of the eternal God; and, in His safe and holy keeping, it is growing, every moment, on and on to the measure of the Infinite. And ‘when He comes again,’ you will find that every drop of cold water—every word of tenderness—every accent and look of sympathy, every minute act of love—for Him—which you ever did or gave but took no reckoning of, has taken reckoning in that book; it is entered in His account. You never put it down by a thought, or even in memory, but He did. And then it is enough. I can add nothing to the eloquence of His own words, ‘I will repay thee.’

III. ‘When I come again!’—They are sweet words, and as true as they are sweet. He will come again; and when He comes it will be wonderful how we shall find every promise kept; and, better still than all, He—His own dear self, Who did it all—He is coming—He is coming!

Illustration

‘So long as Jesus tarried in this world, in this house by the way, He did all with His own hand, by His own sweet offices; but when He was obliged to go He left us the holy privilege to do it for Him. And before He went He made great provision, and furnished us very largely, and paid very much beforehand. But beyond all that which He so richly gave us, He anticipated the future, and made Himself responsible for all we can ever want, and undertook to make up to us anything we should ever bear or do for His people.’


Verse 36-37

THE WORKER AND THE WORK

‘Which now of these three, thinkest thou, was neighbour unto him that fell among the thieves? And he said, He that shewed mercy on him. Then said Jesus unto him, Go, and do thou likewise.’

Luke 10:36-37

I. Each has his special work.—Every true child of God resembles our Blessed Lord and Master in this respect, that he is ‘sent’ to do some special work. He was ‘sent into the world to save sinners,’ and the same may be said of us in our degree; every real follower of the Lord Jesus is himself ‘a saviour.’ Every one is ‘sent’ into the world to do something, so far as in us lies, to counteract those mysterious agencies of evil; each one is privileged to be associated with our Divine Lord in the great work which brought Him down from His glory to this world of sin and sorrow—the work of saving sinners. The lesson which our Lord primarily intended to inculcate by this parable is the claim which Divine Love has upon us, that ‘as He is, such should we be in this world’; the moral of the parable is expressed in the text, ‘Go, and do thou likewise.’

II. The Gospel and the law.—The narrative, of which this parable forms part, brings to light the prominent sin of the Pharisees; they approached God’s law with the desire to justify themselves, if not by proving their lives to be in accordance with the law, by making the law coincide with their conduct. The spirit of the Gospel is ever seeking for opportunities of exhibiting its own true genius, while the spirit of the law is always seeking for opportunities of escaping from obligations which it reluctantly recognises. This is clearly set forth in the parable; the priest passes by; he argues from the legal standpoint—this is no case for him. The same considerations influenced the Levite; moreover, he was probably averse to wish to appear more liberal-minded than his superior. In the midst of a world stricken with sorrow, suffering, and sin, is it possible that there are any now who have sunk to the same, or perhaps to a lower level than these two men? How many there are who require to be reminded of that solemn warning given in the Book of Proverbs (Luke 24:2).

III. A compassionate heart.—And now turn and consider the conduct of the good Samaritan. He too might naturally have turned aside; he had to overcome national prejudice; his journey also had an object; the place was infested by murderous robbers; but his heart is filled with compassion; his mind rises above all lower considerations; a work of mercy is before him, and has to be done, done at the risk of his own life, and done at the cost of considerable self-sacrifice and self-denial. We hear a Voice sounding in our midst, and saying, ‘Go, and do thou likewise.’

Illustration

‘There are different kinds of Christians; there are those who have their sense exercised, who live as in the light of eternity, and as in the presence of God; there are others who seem to lead a dreamy life, who scarcely ever grapple with realities; they sleep away one opportunity after another, and lead idle, useless lives. When we are really living in the light of eternity, O God! what scenes surround us! Now, it is quite possible to shut off sympathy, to train ourselves to something like moral hardness of heart; on the other hand, we may cultivate our spiritual sensibility, and then it will be with us as with our Blessed Lord. Every scene of misery, every exhibition of sin, the groans, the tears, the cries of suffering humanity, will elicit ready action, and be “calls” to us to go forth and rescue the perishing. Will you turn and look in His face, Who hath said, “All souls are Mine,” and say, “I cannot”?’


Verse 37

PRACTICAL CHRISTIANITY

‘Go, and do thou likewise.’

Luke 10:37

The parable of the Good Samaritan has been so frequently, so fully, so effectively dealt with that there is no need to dwell upon its details or to attempt once more to develop its spiritual teaching. It is my purpose to show in what ways we may obey the teaching which underlies the command of our Lord: ‘Go, and do thou likewise.’ To obey to the letter these words of the Lord might be to misread their meaning. The age in which we live, the land in which we live, the circumstances by which we are surrounded, differ as widely as possible from the age, the land, the circumstances of our Lord’s time. These things must be taken into account in trying to realise how we may do our Lord’s bidding.

I. In estimating our duty to our fellow-men, we must not take a narrow view of what that duty is.—When men read some sad story of distress they are always ready to throw the blame on some one else, the clergy by preference. Of course, the clergy have, within certain limits, a very clear duty to perform, even as regards the temporal needs of parishioners. They can hardly help getting to know where help is needed. But we know that they do not, as a rule, neglect this part of their duty. Very rightly they remember that a clergyman is not a relieving officer; that there is such a thing as the Poor Law; that in theory, at any rate, no one need starve in England. It is disastrous to spiritual influence if the clergy come to be looked upon as persons whose main duty is to relieve distress. But, whilst this is true, it is also true that they cannot neglect the bodily needs of their people without justly incurring blame. If, however, they are not to be absolutely overwhelmed by the mere serving of tables, aye, and to be crushed under a sense of the hopelessness of the task assigned them, their number in large parishes must be greatly increased, as also must the resources placed at their disposal; for both these matters there is opportunity to obey the Master’s command.

II. We are bound to remember that this command is to be obeyed in spirit rather than in letter.—What are the lessons for us now? Certainly not that we are to relieve every beggar we meet in the street, every person who comes to our door, every sturdy applicant for charity. Prevention is better than cure. Men are obeying the spirit of our Lord’s teaching when they strive to improve the condition of the people generally.

III. Christians are bound to obey the teaching of this parable because—

(a) By so doing they will commend spiritual religion to those who love it not.

(b) Christians will have many opportunities of pressing home spiritual truths which would never have been theirs had they neglected the temporal needs of their neighbours. Our Blessed Lord Himself won the hearts of the multitude by miracles of mercy. In such matters the Church as a whole, not the clergy alone, must take part. The religious layman who will take the time and trouble to share actively in improving the lot of his fellow-men is ever a power for good in spiritual things.

—Rev. Canon Scott.

Illustration

‘Lord Shaftesbury was obeying the spirit of this parable when he did his best to shorten hours of labour in Lancashire factories, and to prevent children under a certain age being employed in factory work. Mr. Plimsoll was obeying the spirit of this parable when he sought to render it impossible for ships to be sent to sea in an unfit condition, with unsuitable cargo, without a sufficient number of sailors. Mr. Raikes was obeying the spirit of this command when he instituted Sunday-schools. Mr. Cadbury was obeying the spirit of this command when he furnished what had been his own home as a holiday retreat and hospital for sick children. Every effort honestly put forth to make the world a happier and a better place, whether it be by distinctly evangelistic plans or by those which have as their first aim the improvement of the material condition of the people, is obedience to this command. But let us remember that such effort cannot be done by proxy. There must be personal work. It is quite true that those who are willing to give their money may do much; but all experience shows that the personal interest of a great many people is absolutely needful if large results are to be attained.’


Verses 38-42

THE TWO SISTERS

‘Now it came to pass, as they went, that He entered into a certain village: and a certain woman named Martha received Him into her house,’ etc.

Luke 10:38-42

This home of the two sisters is but the type of every Christian home, where Christ is or ought to be a perpetual guest, to be listened to with the inward service of Mary, or worked for with the active service of Martha. Every family is interested in this story, and perhaps needs in different ways its warning.

I. These are days in which activity is glorified.—Religious restlessness is the watchword of our Church. Whether in philanthropic effort or in the organisation of religious worship, much doing, many services, many acts, regular apportionment of time among religious duties, as they are called, is the very order of the day, Marthas abound; men and women cumbered with much doing, distracted with the many calls upon them, unable for the noise and confusion to catch the words which fall from the Divine lips. It is all giving to God, and that other work of receiving from Him is apt to pass undone; the gospel of speaking is practised and preached, the gospel of listening may chance to be forgotten or overlooked. We are getting less and less to understand the glory of the disciple where God is teaching and the learner sits silent at His feet; we are forgetting that to think and muse, ponder and weigh, may be a blessed service; that listening may be that good part which shall not be taken away.

II. Activity may be even as a means of avoiding God, not a means of seeking Him. It is painful to some persons, it must be feared, to be alone with God, and so they hide themselves and shut their ears and eyes by plunging into any occupation that is at hand. Reading seems laudable, but reading is too often an escape from thinking; and I have seen persons often plunge into the detail of religious work who mistrust the voice of God speaking to their own souls. I think I have known those who have taken actively to religious work in the hope that that will somehow create religious belief, but we must not so read the wondrous promise that they who do the will of God shall know of the doctrine, for it is not God’s will that we should seek to know Him by any other means than personal trust, and that other way is not trust in Him—it is trust in ourselves, and in our methods.

III. If we will not sit at home at Jesus’ feet and listen, if we persist only in busying ourselves with our acts and our doings, we shall not be taught of Him. ‘Mary has chosen that good part which shall not be taken from her.’ She had chosen a method of learning wisdom which was independent of earthly change and chance. Our capacity for work may be at any time taken away from us, we may lose it at a stroke by the failure of some power or faculty; at the best, age will come to weaken our energy, to make much service impossible; then, unless we have learned the other service, where should we be?

—Rev. Canon Ainger.

Illustration

‘We recall the touching lines in which John Milton asked himself how he could work for God now that blindness had come upon him—

Doth God exact day-labour, light denied?

he asks; and he comes out from his dim questionings and fears into a region of blessed certainty—

Who …

… bear His mild yoke, they serve Him best: …

… thousands at His bidding speed,

And post o’er land and ocean without rest;

They also serve who only stand and wait.’

(SECOND OUTLINE)

TRUE SERVICE

Nothing is more striking in the life we are called to follow than the way in which we are taught to serve God. We are called to serve God actively if possible, passively at any rate, but in any case to serve Him.

I. The sanctification of service.—When the disciples and the few apostles, seeing Jesus passing out of their sight into the heavens on His Ascension, they received the message from the angels, ‘Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven?’ Mere gazing, mere reading, mere listening, mere dreaming, have never prospered as forms of Christian life; and we can be certain that it was not for anything that could be so named that Mary was commended by the Lord. The law for our spiritual life is, ‘Diligent in business, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord.’ Martha served; Mary sat at His feet; and the Lord by what He said did not put any mark of disapproval on Martha’s serving. Christianity, worthy of all high service, has elevated the very humblest and homeliest into the light of heaven. So be it that it is loyal, free from self-seeking, and rendered as to Christ, all homely service is now touched by Heaven—the kitchen, the nursery, the sewing-room, the market-place, may all be ante-rooms to the house of God. To sweep the stairs, if it be done as Christ’s commandment, that is Divine. It was not because Martha served that the Lord reproved, if He did reprove her.

II. The burden of service.—What brought Martha with her complaint to Jesus was not her sister’s freedom from service and neglect to fulfil her household duties, but just this: ‘She was cumbered with much service.’ It was a temporary entanglement with many things, a confession that she was unable to undertake her tasks. She was cumbered. In the best of service things may be too many for us, or, from the failure of our strength, may seem too many. At any rate it was the burden, the encumbrance, that broke down her patience, and brought her in a moment of weakness to complain to Christ.

III. The one thing needful.—We go on until we are overwhelmed with our much service, until the simplicity of the work undertaken has got covered over with the additions we have made to it. And our heart breaks down, and a moment like Martha’s comes on. We give out our cry, and the Lord replies to it by gently leading us back, out of our self-made burdens, as He led Martha. ‘Dear ones, but one thing is needful in working for Me; give Me your hearts. That is the thing that will not be taken away.’

Illustrations

(1) ‘If we were asked to draw a picture of a beautiful life, I think it should be this—a life of faith in Christ, of communion with Christ, and of devotion to Christ. The ideal Christian combines both Martha and Mary. We may say of both what Wordsworth says of the lark, they were “True to the kindred points of heaven and home.”

Be Martha still in deed and good endeavour,

In faith like Mary, at His Feet for ever.’

(2) ‘If you want to share the happiness of God’s family, if you want to be strong with the strength of God, if you want your home flooded with the inward light which all the clouds of earth cannot darken, if you want your heart thrilled with the inward joy which all the sorrows and disappointments of life cannot mar, if you want your soul thrilled with inward music which all the discord of sin and guilt cannot spoil, yea, if you want your whole life and being governed by the inward peace which neither time, nor death, nor eternity can disturb, make Christ the permanent King … of your home. (Then) the pictures on the wall, the books on the shelf, and even the toys in the nursery, in some way or other remind you that He is there! Every family enjoyment pulsates with His life. Every family duty overflows with His sweetness, and every family custom is brimful of His ideas and teachings. He is in the heart of every conversation, in the soul of every song, in the light of every smile, in the music of every laugh, in the breath of every prayer.’

 


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Bibliography Information
Nisbet, James. "Commentary on Luke 10:4". Church Pulpit Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/cpc/luke-10.html. 1876.

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Wednesday, February 20th, 2019
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