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Bible Commentaries

James Nisbet's Church Pulpit Commentary
Luke 17

 

 

Verse 1-2

OFFENDERS OF OTHERS

‘Then said He unto the disciples, It is impossible but that offences will come: but woe unto him, through whom they come! It were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and he cast into the sea, than that he should offend one of these little ones.’

Luke 17:1-2

Notice one or two applications of our Lord’s words—

I. A life of selfish enjoyment can hardly escape being a life through which offence comes.—It is hard to live before others a life which is easier than theirs—more guarded and furnished with appliances of comfort and pleasure—without causing some harm to them; it may be by rousing envy, it may more easily be by setting before them a wrong ideal, strengthening in them the dangerous sense that a man’s life consists in the abundance of the things that he possesses.

II. Our Lord’s words give the key to one side of human sin and wretchedness.—‘It is impossible but that offences will come’—impossible, but that one man’s wickedness or folly should lead to sin and wretchedness in others; impossible even in a world Christian in name and profession; impossible even when men are trying in a sense and degree to live as Christians. It is a question that we must be always asking ourselves, whether we are so living as to help or to injure these near us—those who look up to us, those who breathe the same air with us, those who will in any way form a standard from our acts and character.

—Dean Wickham.

Illustration

‘It is not for us to limit the possible range of God’s restoring mercy. But what do facts tell us? Nay, what does fiction tell us (for fiction dare only reflect the light of fact) of any hopes of reformation in this world for the arch-tempter’s delegates—those who ply their victims with drink, that they may mock at their degradation; for the cold-blooded seducers; the touts of gambling-hells; the smiling, damned villain who pours into the innocent ear the leprous distilment of his vile suggestiveness, or lures unsuspecting simplicity to ruin under the mask of good fellowship and geniality? Are such men curable in fiction or in fact? Dare Dickens have restored the educating demons of his den of thieves, or Scott his Varney or Dalgarno, or George Eliot her Grandcourt, or Thackeray his Marquis of Steyne or Lord Hellborough to repentance, or even to remorse? I fear that such a transformation would stamp their fictions as untrue to life. They may invest such characters, if they please, with all the external charms of grace and dignity; for though there are hideous shapes among the fiends, yet Milton’s master-fiend is no loathsome-looking reptile, but—

Created aloft and carbuncle his eye,

With burnished neck of verdant gold, erect

Amid his circling spires, that on the grass

Floated redundant. Pleasing was his shape and lovely.

Yes, it is the case that when a man’s inner nature becomes so impregnated with poison as to become actively contagious, he may actually gain in attractiveness, though he has become corrupt beyond redemption.’


Verse 5

THE GROWTH OF FAITH

‘Lord, Increase our faith.’

Luke 17:5

Whatever admits of increase must have degrees. Faith is a ladder with many and long ascents. And yet the very highest, compared to what it might be, is as nothing. But faith, like every other grace, is a thing which has, in its own nature, a necessity to grow, and which certainly and steadily increases, if only we do not wilfully hinder it, and if we use the appointed means for its progress.

What are the conditions of its growth?

I. Reading the Word.—St. Paul lays it down absolutely that ‘faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God.’ It was an age when there was no printing, and therefore there were very few or no books. Therefore the communication of truth was almost entirely by word of mouth. We should, perhaps, be more correct in the intention of that verse if we say: ‘Faith cometh by reading,’ not to the exclusion of hearing—God forbid!—but besides hearing, faith cometh by reading, by the diligent and close and constant prayerful reading, ‘and reading by the Word of God.’ But whether it be by preaching or by reading, it is equally the Word of God which is the instrument and channel of faith. The conclusion is evident: whoever would increase his faith must be a regular and painstaking reader of his Bible. But everything depends upon how he reads it.

II. Considering the wondrous work of Christ.—Place yourselves in holy fancy at the foot of His cross; look up into that meek, suffering, loving Face; see those precious wounds; hear Him say, ‘It is for you; it is for you.’ Feel that blood washing out your sins! What can faith want more? What has not that death purchased? Must not faith grow when it lives in that atmosphere?

III. Observing and watching the experiences of prayer.—Look at every answer to your prayers, and note them down in your mind when they come. Be constantly picking up the returning arrow which you shot into the skies. Almost every day you will find another and another and another seal of prayer, and faith seeing those seals, will learn to ask more and more confidently, and so faith will grow by watching the experiences of prayer.

Rev. James Vaughan.

Illustration

‘There is in this church many a child of God who has faith, real faith, and as yet that faith is very small, and therefore the peace is broken, joy is shaded, and life is clouded. Let me put you on your guard. We are generally apt to pray for the beginning of what is good more and more earnestly than we pray for the continuance and the increase of what is good. And yet it wants as much, perhaps more to go on and grow, than ever it did to set out. Without it the best and holiest thing will go down and down, even as a stone gravitates to the earth. And yet in the things of God whatever lives grows, and whatever grows not, dies.’


Verse 10

SELF-RIGHTEOUSNESS CHECKED

‘So likewise ye, when ye shall have done all those things which are commanded you, say, We are unprofitable servants: we have done that which was our duty to do.’

Luke 17:10

We are all naturally proud and self-righteous. Seldom will a man be found, however wicked, who does not secretly flatter himself that there is somebody else worse than he is. Seldom will a saint be found who is not at seasons tempted to be satisfied and pleased with himself. There is such a thing as a pride which wears the cloak of humility. There is not a heart upon earth which does not contain a piece of the Pharisee’s character.

I. To give up self-righteousness is absolutely needful to salvation.—He that desires to be saved must confess that there is no good thing in him, and that he has no merit, no goodness, no worthiness of his own. He must be willing to renounce his own righteousness, and to trust in the righteousness of another, even Christ the Lord. Once pardoned and forgiven, we must travel the daily journey of life under a deep conviction that we are ‘unprofitable servants.’ At our best we only do our duty, and have nothing to boast of. And even when we do our duty, it is not by our own power and might that we do it, but by the strength which is given to us from God.

II. The true cause of self-righteousness.—How is it that such a poor, weak, erring creature as man can ever dream of deserving anything at God’s hands? It all arises from ignorance. The eyes of our understandings are naturally blinded. We see neither ourselves, nor our lives, nor God, nor the law of God as we ought. Once let the light of grace shine into a man’s heart, and the reign of self-righteousness is over. The roots of pride may remain, and often put forth bitter shoots; but the power of pride is broken when the Spirit comes into the heart, and shows the man himself, and God.

Illustration

‘But you may say, “Though I cannot pretend that I have ever really profited God, and though I have not profited as many people as I ought, or any single person as much as I ought, yet I trust and think I have not led an entirely unprofitable life. I hope I have profited some.” Yes, but have you put side by side with the good you have done to some, the harm you have done to others by your conscious or unconscious influence for wrong: and have you asked yourself which is the greater? It is a very solemn consideration, and no man can put it away from himself—“Has the good or the harm which I have done in life been the greater?” And can any of us say that in any act he ever did, or any word he ever spoke, or any thought he ever thought, his motive was quite pure, no self in it? Did it rise to its proper level? Have you weighed it all fairly? I marvel if you will not yield to your conscience and say, “I have been, to use the very mildest term, I have been an unprofitable servant. I have never done what is my duty; no, not in any one single instance in my whole life; and my best works humble me the most.”’


Verses 12-14

THE CLEANSED MEN

‘There met Him ten men that were lepers, … As they went, they were cleansed.’

Luke 17:12-14

Let us consider each point in the record:—

I. The awful state the men were in.—They were ten lepers (Luke 17:12); the disease was incurable (2 Kings 5:7); and it was often sent as a punishment for sin. So it was with Miriam (Numbers 12:9-10), Gehazi (2 Kings 5:27), Uzziah (2 Chronicles 26:19-21). Those who were afflicted with leprosy were obliged to live separate from others (Numbers 5:2; 2 Kings 15:5). So these ten men ‘stood afar off.’ How like this is to the disease that is upon all mankind! Sin separates between us and our God (Isaiah 59:2). There is no one who can cure the disease but God only (Mark 2:7). If that cure is to be effected we must cry, ‘Unclean, unclean’! (1 John 1:9; cf. Leviticus 13:45).

II. The wondrous cure the Lord performed.—We read that they meet Jesus (Luke 17:12). This was indeed a blessing, though we may always meet Him (Isaiah 64:4; Isaiah 41:10; Hebrews 13:5). They call Him by His precious name (Matthew 1:21; Acts 5:31). They recognise His authority—‘Master.’ They do not ask for the cure of the disease, but only mercy. ‘His compassions fail not’ (Lamentations 3:22). ‘His mercy endureth for ever’ (Psalms 138:8). He tells them to go to the priest, who was the judge of leprosy (Leviticus 13:2); thus upholding the law, and calling for their obedience. So Naaman (Isaiah 48:18). They obeyed, and ‘as they went they were cleansed’—the cure was complete.

III. The little thankfulness that was shown to Christ.—We should expect them, on being cured, to come back and say how grateful they were to Jesus, and praise Him as God for doing what God only could do. Did they? Only one returned out of ten (Luke 17:15-16; Psalms 106:13; Romans 1:21). This one shows us that whoever learns in himself the power of Jesus to save and cleanse, will praise and live to the glory of Jesus (Psalms 103:1-2). Look at Paul the Apostle (Philippians 1:29; Galatians 6:14). Those nine show us how many accept God’s favours and mercies, and yet never acknowledge by the smallest return of gratitude that they realise the benefit (Psalms 107:31).

—Bishop Rowley Hill.

Illustrations

(1) ‘The usual road in travelling from the north of Palestine to Jerusalem would be through Galilee first and then through Samaria. The most probable solution is that our Lord travelled along the boundary between Samaria and Galilee to the River Jordan, and then followed the course of that river down to Jericho, at which city we find Him in the next chapter.’

(2) ‘A Jewish leper would doubtless catch at our Lord’s direction to “go to the priests,” and accept it as a hint that he would hear good tidings on showing himself to them.’


Verse 15-16

AT THE FEET OF JESUS

‘And one of them … fell down on his face at His feet.’

Luke 17:15-16

I. The place of forgiveness.—We cannot tell the origin of sin. ‘An enemy hath done this.’ All beyond that is a puzzle, an insoluble enigma. But we do know where forgiveness is found. We are sure it may be had for the asking at the feet of our Divine Priest, the Lord Jesus Christ. Forgiveness comes first, then holiness. Forgiveness is the starting-point: it is the porch of the Christian life.

II. The place of comfort.—In John 11:21; John 11:32, we hear the two sisters utter the same words of unutterable grief. Sorrow is the same all the world over. It makes all hearts kin. But Mary fell at His feet. That is all we can do when our

‘… sorrow lies too deep

For human ministry.’

III. The place of teaching.—‘Mary … sat at Jesus’ feet, and heard His word’ (Luke 10:39). How many a prayer for teaching there is in Psalms 119! It would make a profitable Bible study to add them up. It reminds us of the yearning cry, ‘Show us the Father.’ The saints longed to be taught of God. At last the Divine Teacher, the Hope of all the ages, came, and He said to His disciples, ‘One is your Teacher’ (Matthew 23:8, R.V.). He said, ‘Learn of Me.’ He is not a Teacher, He is the Teacher. He can teach us ‘what we ought to do, and what we must believe.’ The voice from heaven said, ‘This is My beloved Son … hear ye Him’ (Matthew 17:5). You are to listen to Him. And when we listen to Him we shall no longer ask, Who shall be the greatest? but, Who shall take the lowest place?

IV. The place of praise.—‘He … fell down on his face at His feet, giving Him thanks’ (Luke 17:16). David prayed three times a day. But he said, ‘Seven times a day do I praise Thee’ (Psalms 119:164). David knew something of a Divine Shepherd, very pitiful, and of tender mercy, but he had never seen the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. If David gave thanks seven times a day, how often ought we to praise God?

Rev. F. Harper.

Illustration

‘As one grows older one understands what one has heard even from childhood upwards, that this world is a world of sorrow. Surely it is so! And strange it is that it should be in a world of a God of love.… What words of sorrow are evermore going up from human lips and rending human hearts asunder! How many a parent is there who, as she looks back upon the little child, who has perhaps laid his burning brow upon her lap, is reminded of that pathetic story in our Bibles of the little boy coming home from the field in the harvest-time and crying, “My head, my head.” There is another—perhaps a maiden—who will be left homeless, and who cries, “My father, my father!” and there is many a father whose son is taken away before him, and who cries with David of old, “My son, my son!” And there are others who think with a riven heart, “My love, my love!” and there is another who cries, “My sin, my sin!” But there is healing for all sorrow and all sin at the feet of our Lord.’


Verse 17

INGRATITUDE

‘Where are the nine?’

Luke 17:17 (The Gospel)

There are few things that we feel more than ingratitude. This was a very bad case, an extreme case, because the disease that these men suffered from was the very worst. And then, not only was the disease such an extreme case, but the cure was absolutely complete. At a word they were made whole. When the Lord Jesus Christ cures, He cures indeed. Yet out of the ten who were cleansed only one returned to thank Him. ‘Where are the nine?’

I. Nine to one!—Do you think that is a good proportion? Do you think that is the proportion that would stand if we were to count up the present congregation in church to-day? You got up this morning in health; you are well, and have come to church. Let us just ask ourselves how many of us have thanked God. Do you think nine out of ten? How many of us, as we are to-day, kneel down and thank God for creation, for preservation, for the blessings of to-day?

II. Nine prayed, but only one praised.—They were all most earnest about their prayers. When you have wanted something, when you were in great trouble, you have knelt in your room and asked God to help you. We were very earnest in our prayer when we were in trouble, but we never went into His House and gave Him thanks for recovery, or lifted up our voices to praise God. The ten prayed very earnestly, and only one of them said, ‘Thank God.’

III. The only one who redeemed the occasion was a Samaritan!—Does not that correct something within our souls? Deep down beyond all our religious distinctions there is humanity—the touch of nature which makes all men kin.

IV. A few aspects of the thanksgiving.

(a) He returned and gave thanks himself in person. If you are to thank God, do it personally. Say to yourself, God has been good to me; I must thank Him.

(b) It must come right out of the heart. You know what this man did. He turned back and threw himself down at Jesus’ feet worshipping. Thanksgiving to God is the need of a soul that knows God has blessed him.

(c) He did it at once, then and there, without a pause. I hope that some of you feel some qualms within yourselves if you have not thanked God as you ought. Do it now; now is the opportunity. Do not wait. Do not say, ‘I will thank God to-morrow.’ Now, in church—now is your opportunity.

—Rev. A. H. Stanton.

Illustration

‘This Samaritan is not praised for returning to give thanks to his earthly benefactor. “There are not found that returned to give glory to God, save this stranger.” This Samaritan alone had faith to discern that it was at the feet of Jesus his vows to God could best be offered. He saw that there was One greater than the Temple, One higher than the sons of Aaron, even that Great High Priest, through Whom alone our petitions and our thanksgivings can be offered with acceptance to the Father. So we think a higher blessing was conveyed to him than to the nine.’

(SECOND OUTLINE)

A DEFECT IN CHRISTIAN CHARACTER

Who of us can read the story without a sense of self-reproach? ‘Praise the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all His benefits,’ says the Psalmist; but how prone we are to forget! How eagerly, how selfishly, do we appropriate the blessing! How little we think of the love that bestows it! There are three main reasons for this serious defect in our character as Christians.

I. Are we not apt to receive the gifts of God too much as a matter of course, if not a matter of right?—We are wanting in that spirit of humility which recognises and realises an utter absence of merit. In the story of the ten lepers, which has led us into this train of thought, it was a stranger who returned to give thanks. The Jew was apt to take everything that came to him as a matter of right, and wonder that he did not get more, as being one of God’s peculiar people.

II. In regard to daily mercies their very commonness dulls our sense of gratitude.—Familiarity breeds forgetfulness. If a man has a hair’s-breadth escape from drowning, or comes safe out of a disastrous railway accident, he kneels down and thanks God for such a signal mercy; or if some long-desired but long-denied thing comes into his life, he will say to himself, ‘What a cause for thankfulness!’ But the daily bread that nourishes him, the daily health that makes life a joy to him, the friendships that cheer him, the love of wife and children that fills his home with brightness and comfort, are, or become, so much a matter of course, that it hardly occurs to him that they should ‘be received with thanksgiving.’

III. We may find another cause of this ingratitude in the fact that even sincere Christians walk too much by sight, too little by faith.—‘Out of sight, out of mind,’ is a familiar saying; how sad that it should have any application to the relations that exist between God and His children! We touch, we taste, we see, we handle; the things we enjoy day by day present themselves to our senses, but the Giver of all is an object of faith. ‘No man hath seen God at any time,’ so He is forgotten; shares the fate of the machinery that produces our food and raiment; we forget Him for the same reason that we forget the mill that grinds our corn and the loom that produces our cloth; ‘out of sight, out of mind.’

—Rev. G. S. Streatfeild.

Illustration

‘There is more prayer than praise in the world. It ought to be the reverse. There should be more praise than prayer. For what we have received is much more than what we want. Our mercies accumulate much faster than our necessities.’


Verse 20-21

THE COMING OF THE KINGDOM

‘And when He was demanded of the Pharisees, when the kingdom of God should come, He answered them and said, The kingdom of God cometh not with observation: neither shall they say, Lo here! or, lo there! for, behold, the kingdom of God is within you.’

Luke 17:20-21

Every child who comes under the influence of the teaching of the Church of England is taught to say that in its baptism it was made ‘an inheritor of the Kingdom of Heaven.’

I. Let us then consider what this kingdom is, this relationship between the Creator and His creatures; which is declared to be so full of glory and blessing, both here and hereafter; the mystery of which it is given to us, the disciples of Jesus, to know.

(a) It is the manifestation of God to man in His power and justice. The outward aspect of the Kingdom has undergone many changes, but its inward principle has always been the same—God manifesting Himself to man, man drawn into communion with God. Before the Fall this Kingdom existed.

(b) It is the manifestation of Himself to man in His wisdom, through Jesus Christ. ‘In the beginning was the Word,’ the Revealer, the Wisdom of God; ‘and the Word was made Flesh, and dwelt among us … full of Grace and Truth.’ And as the earliest and most perfect form of a kingdom is that of a father ruling over his family, so ‘as many as received Him, to them gave He power to become the sons of God.’ Do we not see that this is the potential restoration of man to that close relation to God the Father enjoyed by Adam, ‘which was the Son of God,’ before his fall?

(c) It is the manifestation of Himself to man through the power of the Holy Ghost. He is the ‘Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father,’ Who enables us to use that power of becoming the sons of God, given us by the Divine Wisdom.

II. The nearness of the Kingdom.—If we seek for the knowledge of that Kingdom now, we must not look for it from without, but from within; for He Who is the Ruler of the Kingdom of Heaven on earth dwells not in the world around us, but within that Body of which we are members, and more particularly in the hearts and bodies of His baptized people: ‘My kingdom is not of this world’; ‘know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?’ And therefore to that indwelling Spirit we must look for the knowledge of the Kingdom.’

Rev. A. B. Orr.

(SECOND OUTLINE)

TRUTHS OF THE KINGDOM

Certain fundamental truths about this Kingdom are brought home to us which it is all-important for us not to lose sight of. If the Kingdom of God begins within the man, then—

I. This Kingdom is not merely a visible organisation.—It is that; it must be if it is to fulfil the end for which God has founded it: but it is more than that.

II. The Kingdom of God does not consist merely in numbers, nor is it measured only by size.—In our day specially, there is a tendency among men to place reliance on statistics and to find in figures arguments for or against the progress of the Kingdom of God among men.

III. The evidence of the Kingdom of God is not merely outward profession.—True, the form of godliness is all-important, yet if there be no living spirit within, the form is dead and useless.

Bishop C. J. Ridgeway.

Illustration

‘The workings of God’s grace are, for the most part, not only beyond, but contrary to our calculation. It is not said that “the Kingdom of God is not with observation,” but “the Kingdom of God cometh not with observation.” And the principle is this, that the greatest and plainest effects are produced by causes which are themselves unnoticeable. God is mounting up to His grand design; but we cannot see the steps of His ascent. We look back—but we marvel at the line of the processes; and as each came in its order, it was so simple that it escaped our observation, or so minute that it baffled our perception.’

(THIRD OUTLINE)

‘YOUR REASONABLE SERVICE’

How reasonable is the claim that God makes when He appeals to the man to give Him his heart! It is reasonable because—

I. This King is the God of love, Who is not satisfied without love on the part of those over whom He reigns.

II. The Gospel of His kingdom is a Gospel of love.—‘God so loved the world.’ This is the starting-point of the royal proclamation.

III. Service in this Kingdom is a service of love.—There are no slaves in this Kingdom, only freed men.

IV. It recognises a correspondence between God’s rule and the constitution of man as he has been made by God.—The heart of man is always seeking an object worthy of its love; always hungry, it craves for this food; always thirsty, this is the only water which will quench its thirst. And God alone can satisfy the desire He Himself has implanted in man.

V. The heart holds the supremacy within the man.—All else follows the lead of the human heart—conscience, will, reason, character—and if the heart goes wrong, all goes astray. He who gives his heart gives his best.

Seek, then, to live your daily life ruled by the power of the love of God the King, and the prayer you pray, ‘Thy kingdom come,’ will find its answer within you.

—Bishop C. J. Ridgeway.

Illustration

‘The Pharisees were looking for “a kingdom” with all that appeals to the natural senses. It was the offence of Christ—not that He set up “a kingdom,” but that He set up “a kingdom” without parade. The Jews would have received His “kingdom,” if it had come in pageantry. In answer to this expectation, Christ declared His “kingdom” to be devoid of those things: to be inward and spiritual. “The kingdom of God is within you”—it “cometh not with observation”; or, as it is in the marginal reading, it “cometh not with outward shew.” We must give to God—for it is most meet—the best and the brightest of our property. Let every thing which is, nearly or remotely, for God’s service, be the chastest, the richest, and the most dignified that is in our power to present. Let everything about God’s service emulate the spotlessness of the world in which He dwells. But, shall we judge of the splendour of a ritual, or the magnificence of a Church? Show it in the Spirit’s work and promote that “kingdom” which “is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost.” Ought we not to write it on all the pomp and spangle of human fabric—“The Kingdom of God cometh not with observation”?’


Verse 22

A DAY OF THE SON OF MAN

‘The days will come, when ye shall desire to see one of the days of the Son of Man, and ye shall not see it.’

Luke 17:22

Two kinds and sets of days are here contrasted: the coming days, and the days that are now.

I. The days of the present.—‘Days of the Son of Man,’ He calls them. There was much to make the days of that present anxious, unrestful, perplexing. The disciples were slow to learn, and were always disappointing their Master by some expression which betrayed ignorance, or by some proposal which threatened inconsistency. Before them, already casting its shadow, was a closing scene of ingratitude, desertion, or denial of their Master, as the case might be, which must have made, we should have thought, the very memory of those days of the Son of Man a bitterness rather than a comfort. Yet our Lord looked upon these as in some sense happy days for them. ‘The days will come, when ye will desire to see one of them, and sorrow because ye cannot.’ The personal presence of the loved Master and Lord made those happy days for them. In that one respect they would be losers even by the accomplishment of the redemption. Let us take one of these days of the Son of Man—Sabbath. It opened with a service in the synagogue, when the hearers were astonished at His doctrine. Then He spoke the healing word to a man possessed with an unclean spirit, and as He enters a friendly dwelling as if for repose, even then a case of sickness meets Him, and He must heal it. At even they brought to Him all that were diseased, and the whole city was gathered together at the door. Such was a day of the Son of Man, followed by a night of devotion. Ministry with Him was no substitute for prayer.

II. The coming days.—Can we not picture one of those coming days, after the great Easter, far on, perhaps, into evening of the apostolic ministry, when the wearied Apostle may have cried, ‘O that I could hear the Voice of the loved and loving Lord, “Go ye into the desert and rest awhile,” or could I be taken up by Him into the holy mount to behold His transfigured countenance, and have the prophetic word confirmed in the Voice from the excellent glory, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased!”’ We have had no such personal experiences, none of these companyings with Jesus. But we can live, realising the days of the Son of Man by seeking out and ministering to the wants and woes of humanity, as He loved to do. The days of the Son of Man are wherever Christ and misery stand face to face. Whosoever tries to bring Jesus into one lodging-house of sinning, suffering London, is realising to himself and to others the ministry of the Saviour—‘a day of the Son of Man.’

—Dean Vaughan.


Verse 26

THREE CRITICAL DAYS

‘And as it was in the days of Noe … when the Son of Man is revealed.’

Luke 17:26; Luke 17:28; Luke 17:30

The subject is the Kingdom of God. A number of Pharisees had forced themselves upon our Lord with the question, ‘when the Kingdom of God should come?’ And our Lord answered them. ‘The Kingdom of God,’ He said, ‘cometh not with observation’ or outward show. It is a spiritual kingdom in the hearts and consciences of men. To the inquiring Pharisees He said no more. But to His disciples He gives the further teaching contained in the passage in which our text occurs.

There can be no doubt that our Lord chose out from Old Testament history these two days, as being above all others typical of the day when the Son of Man should be revealed.

I. Days of Noah.—These, as we gather from the early chapters of Genesis, were—

(1) Days of astounding and widespread wickedness.

(2) Days of unbelief and careless ease.

(3) Days in which the mercy of God was especially manifested.

(4) Days of a long probation.

II. Days of Lot.—When we consider the days of Lot we find much the same characteristics as those which marked the days of Noah. A difference between the days of Noah and Lot is remarkable when we contrast the characters of these two men. Noah was a sincere man, walking with God, wholly consecrated to His service, separated from the evil world. With Lot it was different. He was a just man, vexed at the sinfulness around him, but this is almost all that can be said. There is nothing very lovely in his character. He was weak and selfish, a moral coward.

III. The day of the Son of Man.—And Christ says, As it was of Noah and Lot, ‘even thus shall it be in the day when the Son of Man is revealed.’ Thus—following our line of thought—we may expect that that day will be marked by abounding and widespread wickedness. There will be less sanctity surrounding the marriage state and family life; lawlessness will abound; unbelief will increase and men will scoff at the threatenings of judgments. And as it was in the days of Noah and Lot, so in that coming day it will be seen that the love and mercy of God have been fully manifested, yea, more fully than in the former days. Deliverance has been brought within the reach of man, not by a material ark or an angel, but by the eternal Son of God, incarnate for man.

Rev. Dr. Noyes.

Illustration

‘The ark itself was a token of God’s mercy, telling of a place of deliverance. Every plank added to the ark was a call to men to repentance and faith in God. Its extraordinary size, the length of time in which it was building—these were God’s warnings given in mercy to a guilty world that a day of judgment must come. Some during the one hundred and twenty years may have believed and died in faith; but it would seem at the time of the Flood there were none found faithful but Noah and those who entered with him into the ark. And so if the world was to be saved the corrupt must be destroyed. ‘The cause of righteousness had at length but one efficient representative in the person of Noah, and he, much like “a lodge in a garden of cucumbers—like a besieged city’—the object of profane mockery and scorn, taunted, reviled, plied with every weapon fitted to overcome his constancy, and if not in himself, at least in his family, in danger of suffering shipwreck amid the swelling wave of wickedness around him. It was to save him, and with him the cause of God, from this source of imminent danger and perdition that the Flood was sent; and it could only do so by effectually separating between him and the seed of evildoers, engulphing them in ruin, and sustaining him in his temporary home.’


Verse 28

THREE CRITICAL DAYS

‘And as it was in the days of Noe … when the Son of Man is revealed.’

Luke 17:26; Luke 17:28; Luke 17:30

The subject is the Kingdom of God. A number of Pharisees had forced themselves upon our Lord with the question, ‘when the Kingdom of God should come?’ And our Lord answered them. ‘The Kingdom of God,’ He said, ‘cometh not with observation’ or outward show. It is a spiritual kingdom in the hearts and consciences of men. To the inquiring Pharisees He said no more. But to His disciples He gives the further teaching contained in the passage in which our text occurs.

There can be no doubt that our Lord chose out from Old Testament history these two days, as being above all others typical of the day when the Son of Man should be revealed.

I. Days of Noah.—These, as we gather from the early chapters of Genesis, were—

(1) Days of astounding and widespread wickedness.

(2) Days of unbelief and careless ease.

(3) Days in which the mercy of God was especially manifested.

(4) Days of a long probation.

II. Days of Lot.—When we consider the days of Lot we find much the same characteristics as those which marked the days of Noah. A difference between the days of Noah and Lot is remarkable when we contrast the characters of these two men. Noah was a sincere man, walking with God, wholly consecrated to His service, separated from the evil world. With Lot it was different. He was a just man, vexed at the sinfulness around him, but this is almost all that can be said. There is nothing very lovely in his character. He was weak and selfish, a moral coward.

III. The day of the Son of Man.—And Christ says, As it was of Noah and Lot, ‘even thus shall it be in the day when the Son of Man is revealed.’ Thus—following our line of thought—we may expect that that day will be marked by abounding and widespread wickedness. There will be less sanctity surrounding the marriage state and family life; lawlessness will abound; unbelief will increase and men will scoff at the threatenings of judgments. And as it was in the days of Noah and Lot, so in that coming day it will be seen that the love and mercy of God have been fully manifested, yea, more fully than in the former days. Deliverance has been brought within the reach of man, not by a material ark or an angel, but by the eternal Son of God, incarnate for man.

Rev. Dr. Noyes.

Illustration

‘The ark itself was a token of God’s mercy, telling of a place of deliverance. Every plank added to the ark was a call to men to repentance and faith in God. Its extraordinary size, the length of time in which it was building—these were God’s warnings given in mercy to a guilty world that a day of judgment must come. Some during the one hundred and twenty years may have believed and died in faith; but it would seem at the time of the Flood there were none found faithful but Noah and those who entered with him into the ark. And so if the world was to be saved the corrupt must be destroyed. ‘The cause of righteousness had at length but one efficient representative in the person of Noah, and he, much like “a lodge in a garden of cucumbers—like a besieged city’—the object of profane mockery and scorn, taunted, reviled, plied with every weapon fitted to overcome his constancy, and if not in himself, at least in his family, in danger of suffering shipwreck amid the swelling wave of wickedness around him. It was to save him, and with him the cause of God, from this source of imminent danger and perdition that the Flood was sent; and it could only do so by effectually separating between him and the seed of evildoers, engulphing them in ruin, and sustaining him in his temporary home.’


Verse 30

THREE CRITICAL DAYS

‘And as it was in the days of Noe … when the Son of Man is revealed.’

Luke 17:26; Luke 17:28; Luke 17:30

The subject is the Kingdom of God. A number of Pharisees had forced themselves upon our Lord with the question, ‘when the Kingdom of God should come?’ And our Lord answered them. ‘The Kingdom of God,’ He said, ‘cometh not with observation’ or outward show. It is a spiritual kingdom in the hearts and consciences of men. To the inquiring Pharisees He said no more. But to His disciples He gives the further teaching contained in the passage in which our text occurs.

There can be no doubt that our Lord chose out from Old Testament history these two days, as being above all others typical of the day when the Son of Man should be revealed.

I. Days of Noah.—These, as we gather from the early chapters of Genesis, were—

(1) Days of astounding and widespread wickedness.

(2) Days of unbelief and careless ease.

(3) Days in which the mercy of God was especially manifested.

(4) Days of a long probation.

II. Days of Lot.—When we consider the days of Lot we find much the same characteristics as those which marked the days of Noah. A difference between the days of Noah and Lot is remarkable when we contrast the characters of these two men. Noah was a sincere man, walking with God, wholly consecrated to His service, separated from the evil world. With Lot it was different. He was a just man, vexed at the sinfulness around him, but this is almost all that can be said. There is nothing very lovely in his character. He was weak and selfish, a moral coward.

III. The day of the Son of Man.—And Christ says, As it was of Noah and Lot, ‘even thus shall it be in the day when the Son of Man is revealed.’ Thus—following our line of thought—we may expect that that day will be marked by abounding and widespread wickedness. There will be less sanctity surrounding the marriage state and family life; lawlessness will abound; unbelief will increase and men will scoff at the threatenings of judgments. And as it was in the days of Noah and Lot, so in that coming day it will be seen that the love and mercy of God have been fully manifested, yea, more fully than in the former days. Deliverance has been brought within the reach of man, not by a material ark or an angel, but by the eternal Son of God, incarnate for man.

Rev. Dr. Noyes.

Illustration

‘The ark itself was a token of God’s mercy, telling of a place of deliverance. Every plank added to the ark was a call to men to repentance and faith in God. Its extraordinary size, the length of time in which it was building—these were God’s warnings given in mercy to a guilty world that a day of judgment must come. Some during the one hundred and twenty years may have believed and died in faith; but it would seem at the time of the Flood there were none found faithful but Noah and those who entered with him into the ark. And so if the world was to be saved the corrupt must be destroyed. ‘The cause of righteousness had at length but one efficient representative in the person of Noah, and he, much like “a lodge in a garden of cucumbers—like a besieged city’—the object of profane mockery and scorn, taunted, reviled, plied with every weapon fitted to overcome his constancy, and if not in himself, at least in his family, in danger of suffering shipwreck amid the swelling wave of wickedness around him. It was to save him, and with him the cause of God, from this source of imminent danger and perdition that the Flood was sent; and it could only do so by effectually separating between him and the seed of evildoers, engulphing them in ruin, and sustaining him in his temporary home.’

 


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Bibliography Information
Nisbet, James. "Commentary on Luke 17:4". Church Pulpit Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/cpc/luke-17.html. 1876.

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