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Bible Commentaries
Luke 11

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Verses 1-54

Christ's Lessons in Prayer

Luke 11:1

The disciples had all prayed many times, and yet they came to Jesus with this request. For they were not satisfied with their praying. Their hearts were full of longings for which they could not find utterance, and the silence in which they dwelt oppressed them. For answer, Jesus began by teaching them how not to pray. It may well be, that with such bad examples of devotion in their synagogues and streets, the very habits of devotion which they had formed were hampering them. The request itself may give a hint of this, as if prayer were an art which might be taught by rules. The Pharisees were past-masters in the art of prayer, but, in Jesus' sense, they knew not how to pray at all. For prayer is not an art but a spirit, and when it has become an art it has ceased to be prayer.

The immediate answer of Jesus was the Lord's Prayer, and its first words gave them all they had asked.

I. The Lord's Prayer was not given as a ritual or formula of prayer to be superstitiously repeated. It was not even given as in any exhaustive sense a 'model' prayer, for much is omitted from it which we shall often need to ask. It is rather fundamental than complete, setting for us on the one hand the broad and generous spirit of sympathy with our fellows and their life, without which devotion tends to self-indulgence; and on the other hand selecting the elementary needs of men, bread for the body and purity for the soul.

II. That was His immediate answer, but He gave them two other answers to their request. His example taught them to pray. As they followed Him they saw that He, who apparently needed least, yet prayed most of all men. The Syrians speak of the lamps of hermits shining through the night from far seen hill-side caves, as 'hands folded in prayer'. So the remembrance of the Master, withdrawn but not forgetting them, must often have made the day feel safe, and taken its terror from the darkness. There could be no better defence than the prayers of Jesus.

III. But the greatest answer of all which Jesus gave to that request lay in the simple fact that He was Himself. There are some of our friends whose very presence is an influence upon us towards holy things. In their company we feel our souls drawn nearer to God, and we desire to pray. In the well-known picture of Satan watching the sleep of Christ, there is something wistful in the expression and attitude of the enemy, as if even over the foulest heart the Saviour had cast His spell. And the disciples found that as they lived with Jesus they turned instinctively towards God. Every hour of His company taught them to pray. He brought them to their best, and wakened all their slumbering desires after God and holiness.

John Kelman, Ephemera Eternitatis, p. 44.

Reference. XI. Expositor (6th Series), vol. ii. p. 287.

The Disciples' Request

Luke 11:1

Looking at this request of the disciples, will you notice that it is I. A confession of need. 'Teach us to pray.' We ask the question sometimes, 'Why do men pray? 'Why do men pray! We might just as well ask, 'Why does the nightingale sing?' Why does the eagle soar into the boundless blue? The nightingale sings because it was made to sing; the eagle soars away because its pinions were made for flight, and man prays because he was made for prayer. 'Teach us to pray.' That is just the cry of men who must have their instincts satisfied. Man was made to pray. Let me remind you that this is not a need which Christianity has created. Oh, no! the need is in the very make and constitution of man. Christ only satisfied the need. Prayer is as old as man himself. This sense of need is universal.

II. This request of the disciples is a confession of ignorance. 'Teach us to pray.' Teach us how! for there is a right and wrong way of praying. Man must pray he cannot help himself. But how he blunders in his attempts at prayer sometimes! Look at the Hindu cutting and maiming himself! Look at the Mongol with his praying machine! Ah, yes, man needs to be taught how to pray. But further, these disciples knew not what to pray for. Nor do we! We are 'the sons of ignorance and night'. We do not know what is best for us!

III. This request of the disciples is a confession that the old prayers are no longer good enough.

There is a familiar ballad the first line of which runs, 'I cannot sing the old songs'. Some change has taken place in the singer's feelings, which makes the old song inappropriate, impossible. It was so with these disciples. They could not pray the old prayers, because their hearts were changed. We all know something of this kind of feeling. Notice what the disciple adds, 'As John also taught his disciples'. Christ might imitate John in the act of teaching, but in the prayer taught Jesus was no imitator. This was a new prayer He gave.

J. D. Jones, The Model Prayer, p. 1.

Teach Us to Pray

Luke 11:1

We all need to be taught to pray, for it is not easy nor is it obvious. Prayer is a great art, it is a great practice, it is a great life.

I. I will mention one or two very simple things about the mode and the place of prayer. (1) For instance, the question of the gesture or the attitude in prayer is not altogether without its importance. We are curiously influenced by our own motions, and the physical attitude we adopt determines very largely our mental attitude. You know that the constant attitude adopted by us in prayer has been kneeling, as the Apostle puts it, 'For this cause I bow my knees'; and because that attitude is traditional the very act of kneeling becomes an incentive to prayer; indeed, 'to kneel' is almost synonymous with 'to pray'. Then, to clasp the hands, or even to put them together, has come to be the symbol of submission in the presence of God, and it is not without its influence upon the mind. And to close the eyes is an aid to realising that when we are praying we are dwelling with an inward spirit, that there is a witness within to whom and through whom our prayer is made. (2) Then, as to the place of prayer, it is of some importance, if it is possible that you get in your house a room where you are accustomed to pray; and if it is not possible to have a room, it is something to have a place in a room where you are accustomed to pray. It is important that you should not attach to the mere secondary conditions of prayer an undue importance, as if the attitude and the place could really affect the communion of the Spirit with God.

II. Let us turn to the question of the times of prayer in your own individual life. You should secure one half-hour every day in which you give yourself to wait upon God to pray, to meditate, to worship, but, in any case, to wait upon God. Now, the question arises, Where should that half-hour come in the day? and I think it is beyond all doubt that the best half-hour if there is to be only one, is the first half-hour of waking consciousness. In that half-hour you can set currents flowing which will run through the day without you being conscious of them.

III. It still remains to say something about the subjects of prayer. I would lay special stress upon two points. (1) The importance, the necessity of the daily confession of sin, because you will observe that the life of the soul is constantly being choked by little collections and accumulations of unobserved sin. (2) You should not forget to give thanks, not only because it is due to God, but because it is infinitely valuable to you.

R. F. Horton, The Hidden God, p. 161.

Jesus Our Example In Prayer

Luke 11:1

I. I propose that we should take briefly some of our own difficulties in prayer, and strive to learn from our Blessed Lord's life how we should meet them. (1) Did our Lord say morning and evening prayers? We find, do we not, so many excuses for making them very imperfect; in the morning we are so late in rising that they have to be reduced to a very few minutes, and hurried over then, in order that we may get to the work of the day. How did our Lord do under those circumstances? 'And in the morning rising up a great while before day, He went out and departed into a solitary place, and there prayed.' Our Lord shows us that the press of work, or work begun very early, is no excuse for the neglect of prayer. (2) And then again at night time, how often we excuse ourselves for very hurried poor prayers because we are so tired! How did our Lord manage on those occasions? I take but one instance that very, very busy day in which He had fed the five thousand in the wilderness. When night came on our Lord went back to the mountain alone and spent almost the whole night in prayer.

II. And then in the many difficulties of our life our Lord shows us that He always met them in the power of prayer. (1) For instance, we often have to make a great decision, and we worry ourselves as to which is the best thing to do; we think it over and over again in the power of our own small reason and experience, until sometimes we reach such a condition of perplexity that we are quite incapable of making any calm decision. What did our Lord do? When the time came for Him to make that great decision, the choice of His twelve Apostles, we are told most clearly that, 'It came to pass in those days, that He went into a mountain to pray, and continued all the night in prayer to God,' and the next morning He called to Him the twelve Apostles. (2) And then we have not only decisions to make in life, but we have, alas! in this vale of tears, great sorrows to bear. (3) But in addition to decisions and to sorrows one has often to face in life terrible trials. Our Lord in Gethsemane teaches us the power of prayer to prepare us to meet a storm, to give us strength to bear up against its utmost violence. (4) And then, lastly, in the hour of death. On the hard death-bed of the Cross what is He doing? Listen! Still he is praying: 'Father, forgive them! for they know not what they do'.

III. Let us conclude by glancing at our Lord's method of prayer. (1) First we are told that He knelt down and prayed. (2) Then we are told that He was in an agony, and the word 'agony' means struggle. (3) And then in His prayer our Lord repeated the same words again and again: 'If it be possible, let this cup pass from Me'. So we learn that it is of little importance that our prayers should be lengthy or eloquent; we can say the same simple prayer over and over again, so long as it be earnest. (4) And what was the result? The result of that prayer in Gethsemane was courage and strength to face the horrors of the Passion.

Prayer is the link which joins man to God.

A. G. Mortimer, Lenten Preaching, p. 101.

Luke 11:1

In the Blithedale Romance Hawthorne speaks of one of the inmates of the farm-colony as the only member 'of all our apostolic society, whose mission was to bless mankind,' who 'began the enterprise with prayer. My sleeping-room being but thinly partitioned from his, the solemn murmur of his voice made its way to my ears, compelling me to be an auditor of his awful privacy with the Creator. It affected me with a deep reverence for Hollingsworth, which no familiarity then existing, or that afterwards grew more intimate between us no, nor any subsequent perception of his own great errors ever quite effaced. It is so rare, in these times, to meet with a man of prayerful habits (except, of course, in the pulpit), that such an one is decidedly marked out by a light of transfiguration, shed upon him in the Divine interview from which he passes into his daily life.'

References. XI. 1. A. Whyte, Christian World Pulpit, vol. lvii. p. 136. S. Bentley, Sermons on Prayer, p. 39. C. Perren, Sermon Outlines, p. 354. F. B. Cowl, Preacher's Magazine, vol. xvii. p. 335. C. Stanford, The Lord's Prayer, p. 1. A. E. Bolch, Preacher's Magazine, vol. xix. p. 199. R. W. Hiley, A Year's Sermons, vol. iii. p. 113. W. C. Wheeler, Sermons and Addresses (2nd Series), p. 68. A. Maclaren, Expositions of Holy Scripture St. Luke, p. 328. XI. 1, 2. C. J. Vaughan, The Prayers of Jesus Christ, p. 63. XI. 1-13. A. Maclaren, Expositions of Holy Scripture St. Luke, p. 321.

The Lord's Prayer

Luke 11:2

There are some interesting facts, and thoughts, and lessons that emerge from a general survey of this most beautiful prayer. It was given twice first in the Sermon on the Mount, and then again six months before the Crucifixion. In the Sermon on the Mount it is referred to as a pattern of all our prayers. 'After this manner, therefore, pray ye.' When our Lord gave it the second time to a disciple, whose name we do not know, He gave it as a form of prayer to be used as it stands. The Lord would have us understand the meaning of the words and of the teaching of the different petitions that we might not only use the prayer as it stands, rightly and to our benefit, but that we might found all our prayers, our private prayers, upon the teaching, structure, and meaning of the Lord's Prayer.

I. The Spirit of the Prayer. There are two interesting circumstances connected with the second giving of the Lord's Prayer. It was given then in answer to prayer. An unknown disciple realised so the beauty and the wonder of prayer, through seeing Christ engaged in prayer, that he said, when our blessed Lord concluded His devotions: 'Lord, teach us to pray'. We shall only understand the Lord's Prayer, only be able truly to make it our own, to drink in its meaning and to get all the comfort and help from it, as we come in a spirit of humility and a spirit of prayer, and ask: 'Lord, teach us to pray'.

II. The Brevity of the Prayer. And then, looking at the prayer as a whole, notice how very short it is. Is it, do you think, that the Lord's Prayer is not so much a prayer as a summary? I do not think so. I take it that it is not a summary, but a prayer as it stands. Each clause is a petition, not a head. Then was it, do you think, quite accidental? I do not think so, because in St. Matthew's Gospel the Lord's Prayer follows a very striking utterance on the part of the Master against long prayers. What, then, is the meaning of it? Does it not mean then, surely, that our Heavenly Father does not delight in long prayers, that He loves short and definite petitions? Does it not mean that He would have His children pray less, that we may pray the oftener? The message to you and to me is, Do not try to carry a burden, a grief, all day long, waiting for the long set evening petition. Pray all day long when you want a special word; go to the Father above, and take the trial, or the sorrow, or the difficulty, whatever it may be, take it at once to Him in a short definite prayer from your heart, and that will please the Father above.

III. The Lord's Example. And then, glancing at the prayer as a whole, is it not very beautiful, is it not very helpful to notice how the Lord Jesus Christ not only gave us the prayer to use ourselves, but how He seemed to say: 'I give you this prayer, to you My disciples, to you My people, after I have used every petition of it Myself.

IV. The Meaning of the Prayer. We have been struck by the most beautiful simplicity of the prayer. I suppose if a saint of God were asked now to write a prayer he would hardly like to write one so simple, and yet what a wonderful fullness, and richness, and depth of meaning there are in the Lord's Prayer. What is the Lord's Prayer?

(a) It is a theology. Not a poor, weak theology such as men would create, but a true theology. We have set forth a true God in all His beauty, in all His loveliness, in all His blessedness, His glory and power. That is a theology.

(b) It is also a religion. Not a man-made religion, but a religion that comes from above, that puts God in His right place, and that puts man in his right place a religion that will not only do for the sunshine but for the dark.

(c) It is the basis of brotherhood. The Lord's Prayer binds all Christian people together into one loving family the only true brotherhood of love, and charity, and helpfulness. Here is the basis of brotherhood. Here we shall learn how we should treat one another.

(d) It is a guide for life. Take the Lord's Prayer as your guide during life, and you will make, with God's grace, few mistakes. You will learn what are the first things, and that they should be put in the first place, and what are the second things, and that they should be put in the second place.

(e) It is a prophecy, the grandest, mightiest prophecy in the whole Book of God, a prophecy that pierces the sky, a prophecy that takes us on to the time, that glad, triumphant time, when there will be no more sin and no more sorrow, when all shall be light, and brightness, and glory.

Our Father

Luke 11:2

The prayer Jesus taught His disciples to pray begins with a new name for God. 'When ye pray, say Father.' In the Old Testament God is very seldom spoken of as Father, and when the name is used, it is always with reference to the nation of Israel and not to individuals that is to say, the name 'Father,' the few times it occurs in the Old Testament stands for a national not a personal relationship. No one can pass from the Old Testament to the New without being conscious of a change of atmosphere Between the books there is a difference of theological climate. And the whole of this vast difference is made by this word 'Father'. It is a name no one but Jesus could have revealed to men. We could never have known God the Father save through the Incarnate Son. Men only saw God from the outside. But here we get a view of God, if I may so speak, from the inside. Is God Father to everybody? Yes, to everybody. That is the truth that has been rediscovered within the last half-century, the truth of the Universal Fatherhood of God, and a blessed and glorious truth it is. That many men have forgotten God and rebelled against Him does not affect the reality of His Fatherhood. But let me go on to say paradoxical as it may sound that though God is the Father of all men, all men are not sons. Wendt, the great German scholar, puts it in this way, 'God always is the loving Father of all men, nevertheless, men must become sons of the Heavenly Father by attaining His spirit of gratuitous, forgiving love'. Possible sons all men are: but sonship becomes actual and real only in Jesus Christ.

I. Now this new name, 'Father,' Christ places at the very commencement of the model prayer. This name is to be the very basis of our prayer. What warrant have I for coming boldly to the throne of grace? I have no warrant save that which the name 'Father' supplies.

II. This word also suggests to us the spirit in which our prayers must be offered. (1) We must believe first of all in the reality of God. (2) We must also believe He is a Rewarder.

J. D. Jones, The Model Prayer, p. 19.

Thy Kingdom Come

Luke 11:2

There are three portions of God's empire which are particularly included in the petition, when we say, 'Thy kingdom come'. There are the reign of grace in a believer's soul, which is personal religion; the extension of that kingdom in many hearts, which is the Church; and the final state, or coming in of eternal glory, which is heaven.

I. Personal Religion. Let us look at it, first, in its particular, private sense. We have in it the aspiration of an awakened mind, feeling its disordered state, and its rebellion, conscious of great disobedience, painfully anxious after peace and holiness, 'Thy kingdom come'. What is the nature of that kingdom in the heart? See what it is not.

1. It does not consist, nor is it compatible with, the glory and the show of this present life 'My kingdom is not of this world'.

2. It is not meat and drink nor the strictness of outward observances. That is nature's kingdom of God.

3. Neither, again, does 'the kingdom of God come with observation'. It does not make its entrance as man generally expects it to make its entrance.

Now let us turn and try to see what 'the kingdom of God' in the soul of a man really is.

(a) It is spiritual. The Holy Ghost broods over the soul; there is a breath, and that is the breathing of the Holy Ghost, and it awakens a new feeling in a man's mind; it is a hope, it is a principle of action; it comes, and it exercises its deep influence over that man's mind; and there is a 'kingdom' begun.

(b) And then it is free; no one knows liberty who does not know the kingdom.

(c) It is also comprehensive. It includes a vast range, yet it gathers up the whole range into a system. All Nature points, in the laws of its 'kingdom,' to a centre, a centre of light and heat, round which, in their orbits, all things roll. So in 'the kingdom of grace' in the heart; the centre of its motion, and the focus of its attraction, are one. Every affection, every desire, every action, every thought, fixes itself upon the Lord Jesus Christ.

(d) Yet it is exclusive. The heart grows so full of God that it can hold nothing else.

II. The Church. The Saviour also intended His words to refer to the setting up of His kingdom upon this earth. If you ask where that 'kingdom' is and when it was established, I answer, it is the Church; and it was set up when Christ, having ascended as a conqueror, took upon Himself the administration.

III. Heaven. This prayer 'Thy kingdom come' has a prophetic sense. There pervades all Scripture from Moses and Daniel to St. Paul and St. John a universal expectation that Christ will Himself come again, and set up a glorious kingdom.

Hallowed Be Thy Name

Luke 11:2

The glory of God was always the master petition in the prayers of Christ. His own wishes were always kept in a subordinate place, it was ever' God first' with Him. That is the true order in prayer God first.

I. Let me first of all try to explain what is meant by the name of God. As Bishop Westcott points out in his Revelation of the Father, no thoughtful person can read the Bible without being struck by the importance which is attached to the Divine names in the different books. And the names of God are important because they are revelations of God's nature.

II. Where and how has that name been revealed to us? (1) It has been revealed to us in Nature. John Ruskin has said: 'It is but the outer hem of God's great mantle, our poor stars do gem'. The Arabs speak of tracing God's footsteps in the world; Kepler in studying the planets said, he was thinking God's thoughts after Him. Mrs. Barrett Browning cries, 'Earth's crammed with heaven and every common bush afire with God'. It is true, as Coleridge sings in his magnificent 'Hymn before sunrise in the vale of Chamouni':

Earth with her thousand voices praises God.

But Nature does not tell all the secret. (2) God's name has been revealed to us more plainly in the Bible. (3) God has revealed Himself fully to us in Jesus Christ.

III. How may we hallow God's name? (1) By cherishing worthy ideas of God. Believe with Faber, that

Nothing can be good in God, which evil is in me.

Say with Browning, 'Thou, God, art Love. I build my faith on that.' You must cherish lofty, beautiful, gracious thoughts of God if you are to hallow His Name. (2) By the trustfulness of your life. Distrust, suspicion, is an insult to friendship. Samuel Rutherford honoured God's name when, writing from his prison in Aberdeen: he said, 'I have nothing to say of my Lord's cross but much good'. (3) By our obedience. The Italian brigand will repeat the Pater Noster and then go on with his robbery. The Mussulman will interlard his filthiest talk with appeals to Allah. But nothing is so dishonouring to God as profession without practice. Obey Him promptly, absolutely, willingly.

J. D. Jones, The Model Prayer, p. 40.

The Second Petition

Luke 11:2

The Bible is a book of hope. It looks not backward, but forward. The 'golden age' of the Bible is before, not behind. We are still looking for that glorious 'last for which the first was made'. 'Thy kingdom come' is a prayer for the good time coming, a prayer for the golden age, for the better Eden. For the earth's golden age will come when God is King. But you may say to me, 'Is not God King now? Is not the world His? Are not all men in His hands? That is perfectly true. But if you will examine the basis of that Kingship you will find it rests on God's Creatorship. But God wants to be King in Jesus Christ, that is to say, He wants to be King in virtue not of His power, but of His love. The prayer, you will notice, regards the 'kingdom' as something still to be realised. In other places in the New Testament it is talked of as actually existent. Both views are true the kingdom is both present and future. The presence of the kingdom is the most noticeable fact in the world's life today. And yet while the kingdom of God is thus present and potent, it is still future. Its full realisation has yet to come.

I. What kind of kingdom is this? (1) The kingdom of God is righteousness, justice. (2) The kingdom of God is peace. (3) The kingdom of God is joy.

II. What is the sphere of the kingdom? (1) The individual heart. God's kingdom must come in our own hearts before it can come in the world at large. (2) The prayer embraces the wide world in its sweep. Thy kingdom come 1 Where? Everywhere. (3) In every department of life.

III. How is this kingdom to be established? It cannot be established by force? Alexander, Cæsar, Napoleon built up their empires with the sword, and cemented them with blood, but not so is the kingdom of God to be established. Not by the sword is the kingdom to come, but by the Cross! Constantine of old, when on the eve of a critical battle, dreamed he saw a cross in the sky, and around it this legend, 'by this conquer'. That is the weapon we have to use in our warfare. Exalt the dying Redeemer of men!

Men have called the visions such men as Plato and Sir Thomas More have given us of the 'Ideal State,' 'Utopias,' 'Nowheres,' to mark their idea of those visions as fantastic, unpractical, impossible. But let no one dare to call the kingdom of God a Utopia. 'The world is grey with morning light.'

J. D. Jones, The Model Prayer, p. 60.

Thy Will Be Done

Luke 11:2

Do we not feel sometimes that we shall be strange in heaven? I am quite sure that we shall be, unless we begin to practise for it here on earth, and I suppose the only possible way of feeling at home in heaven when God has called us to be there, will be to have looked out for opportunities to get into touch with the spirit of it while here on earth. There is a King in heaven the Lord Jesus Christ and we had better get to know Him, for He also is King upon earth, and there will be one link between earth and heaven which we have forged while we are here. There is one will dominating heaven and earth, so we had better begin doing the will of God on earth, so that when we get to heaven it may be quite natural to us.

I. Surrendering our Will. That is one reason why Jesus Christ taught us to pray as the will of God is done in heaven so may we do it here on earth. It is not easy. 'Our wills are ours,' we say, quoting Tennyson. Yes, that is true. Are we not some of us feeling that at the present moment? The very first step towards a Christian life is the surrender of that will to Christ by accepting Him as King.

II. Doing God's Will. We know very little about the angelic beings, but we are sure of this: (a) that love is the motive of all that is done in accordance with the will of God. There is no servitude about the angels giving their will to God. (b) We imagine, too, that these beings do the will of God with full intelligence. Do we try enough to get an intelligent view of God's plans and purposes for us? If we try to do the will of God as it is done in heaven, we must do it not only because it is God's will, but because by study and prayer we have come to see that it is wise and good. (c) The angels obey in a atmosphere of joyful service. Work moved by joy becomes highest pleasure.

III. Bearing God's Will. To do God's will is easy enough sometimes, but to bear it, that is different There is a good deal about burdens in the Bible. We are told that everybody must bear his own burden. That is beautifully and solemnly true. There is ever a burden of responsibility personal to each soul, not perhaps greater in one than another, but different. There is a burden to preach the Gospel. There is the responsibility, too, of refusing it, or receiving it. Then it is said that we are to bear one another's burdens. Thank God for that. We can go side by side with each other, and when one is panting the other can lift him up and help him to stand upright again. No one can bear the burden of another without feeling far more the joy than the toil. 'Cast thy burden upon the Lord.' How a light breaks in upon that heavy burden which God has given us. That is the thing which in His infinite wisdom He thought was best for us.

Let us be content if in truth our will is surrendered to Christ, if in truth we have made Him the King of our life, knowing that we are thus preparing for heaven, where His will is perfectly done.

Luke 11:2

In 1869 Carlyle wrote a letter to Thomas Erskine of Linlathen, from which the following sentences are excerpted: 'Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be Thy name. Thy will be done! what else can we say? The other night, in my sleepless tossings about, which were growing more and more miserable, these words, that brief and grand Prayer, came strangely into my mind, with an altogether new emphasis; as if written, and shining for me in mild, pure splendour, on the black bosom of the Night there; when I, as it were, read them word by word with a sudden check to my imperfect wanderings, with a sudden softness of composure which was much unexpected. Not for perhaps thirty or forty years had I once formally repeated that Prayer; nay, I never felt before how intensely the voice of Man's soul it is; the inmost aspiration of all that is high and pious in poor Human Nature; right worthy to be recommended with our "after this manner pray ye?"'

Luke 11:2

May the kingdom of God and of Christ (that which I conceive to be intended in the Lord's Prayer) truly and fully come, though all the kingdoms of the world be removed, in order to make way for it.

Dr. Priestley.

'Nor,' writes Carlyle in the first of the Latter-Day Pamphlets, 'in any Nation where there has not yet (in some supportable and without some constantly-increasing degree) been confided to the Noblest, with his select series of Nobler, the divine everlasting duty of directing and controlling the Ignoble, has the "kingdom of God," which we all pray for, "come," nor can "His will" even tend to be "done on earth, as it is in heaven" till then. My Christian friends, and indeed my Sham-Christian and Anti-Christian, and all manner of men, are invited to reflect on this. They will find it to be the truth of the case. The Noble in the high place, the Ignoble in the low; that is, in all times and in all countries, the Almighty Maker's Law.'

References. XI. 2. Homes Dudden, Christ and Christ's Religion, p. 228; ibid. p. 142 f. John Thomas, Myrtle Street Pulpit, vol. iii. p. 205. C. Stanford, The Lord's Prayer, pp. 29, 52, 84, 112, and 130. Archbishop Magee, Christ the Light of all Scripture, p. 185. F. W. Woodward, Sermons (1st Series), p. 250. G. Jackson, Christian World Pulpit, vol. xlix. p. 183. XI. 2, 3. R. J. Campbell, City Temple Sermons, p. 92.

Luke 11:2-4 (with Matthew 6:9-13 )

Dr. Marcus Dons wrote at the age of twenty-eight, to the Rev. S. R. Macphail:

'Do you use the Lord's Prayer? Some days when all else has been thick darkness with me, these words, "My Father which art in Heaven," have shot through to the eternal light, and carried my soul to the presence of Him who is "over all, God blessed for evermore".' Early Letters, p. 238.

Reference. XI. 2-4. Expositor (5th Series), vol. i. p. 9.

Fourth Sunday Evening in Lent

Luke 11:3

Let us look at the believer's way of seeking temporal things. Observe the piety, the faith, and the moderation of the prayer.

I. The Piety of the Prayer. It is reasonable on this account not only because God made the body, and because God made the bread, but because God, Who knows the body, only knows how to adapt the bread. And is not it a delight, brethren, with every little thing, every crumb we eat, to feel, 'My Father gave me this; my Saviour died that I might have this; this is purchased bread for a poor, undeserving sinner?' And it is in this way that this prayer becomes part of the Gospel, to remove and hallow the curse. 'In the sweat of thy brow shalt thou eat bread,' was the condemnation. And the toil remains; God has not abated one iota of it. But what is the bane of toil? Not labour, but the doubt which hangs over the issue of labour. So that the 'Give us day by day our daily bread' is the alchemy which neutralises the woe 'In the sweat of thy face thou shalt eat bread'.

II. The Faith of the Prayer. And now turn to the faith of the prayer. It is a strange thing, but there is no doubt about it, that it is more hard to trust God about temporal things than it is about spiritual. How many children of God there are who have really cast their sins on Christ, and have committed their souls to His holy keeping, who are nevertheless to be found disquieted and cast down about some little matter which, after all, concerns themselves or somebody dear to them at the most but for a few short years. Is it not, therefore, for the exercise of faith that God puts this prayer first, visible dependence on Him for the most common and familiar mercies? And if you find it a lesson hard to learn, let me advise you to take these three views: (a) First, remember the perfect fellowship of the Son of Man, Who lived the prayer, 'Give us day by day our daily bread'. He was the poor man's brother. (6) Next, realise that grand image of the Almighty, 'He openeth His hand, and filleth all things living with plenteousness'. (c) And remember that it is covenanted to us, a thing purchased, receipted, endorsed, for He is 'the Saviour of the body,' 'bread shall be given him, and his water shall be sure'.

III. The Moderation of the Prayer. But now see the moderation of the prayer. I see the moderation in three things: moderation of time, moderation of matter, moderation of degree. 'Give us day by day our daily bread.'

Daily Bread

Luke 11:3

What a gracious light this petition throws upon the condescension of God! Our Lord is the High and Holy One who inhabits eternity, and yet He stoops to lowly folk and lowly things. Erasmus, the great sixteenth-century Grecian, thought a reference to physical food would be incongruous 'in so heavenly a prayer'. But far from being incongruous, the prayer becomes more gracious and beautiful because this petition for bread is in it! It is not too trivial a request to bring to God; for God is not a God simply for great crises, supreme emergencies, tremendous catastrophes; He is a God for every day, and for the common events of every day.

I. This prayer proclaims the fact of our dependence upon God for the very simplest of boons. It is a prayer for all, because all are absolutely dependent upon God. Nowhere is this utter dependence of man upon God more clearly seen than in the matter of daily bread. For, all wealth in the last resort depends upon the produce of the soil. Man cannot make food. He cannot create bread. With all his knowledge of chemistry he cannot command a harvest. God must give it And He gives the harvest year by year. Some things, as Dr. Dods remarks, God gives us once for all our supply of coal and the various minerals and metals. But corn, food, bread He gives us year by year as if to emphasise the fact of our dependence upon Him.

II. The modesty and simplicity of the request made in this prayer. 'Bread,' that is what is asked for the bare necessities of life. As T. T. Lynch quaintly puts it, 'This is a prayer for daily bread, not for daily cake'. We are to pray for only as much of that as will suffice for the day, or meet our present needs.

III. We pray for others as well as ourselves. It is not 'give me,' but 'give us 'our daily bread. Christ will not let us forget the fact of brotherhood. He will not let us forget what moderns call 'the solidarity of the race'. The gospel of charity and mutual helpfulness is in this verse.

IV. We pray for what is legitimately and honestly our own. I do not think it is at all fanciful to interpret this pronoun our, as Dr. Dods does, to mean that the bread we pray for must be our own and not another's; that is to say, it must be fairly and honestly come by. The Divine law is that the bread a man eats should be bread won by his own labour.

We need not exclude altogether from our thoughts that spiritual bread, that Bread of Life, to which the old Fathers saw reference here. The soul needs fit nourishment even as the body does, and that fit nourishment the soul finds in Jesus Christ.

J. D. Jones, The Model Prayer, p. 102.

References. XI. 3. G. A. Bennett, Preacher's Magazine, vol. xvii. p. 246. C. Stanford, The Lord's Prayer, p. 156.

Luke 11:3

While my wife was weeping over her child, I am ashamed to say I was distracted with other feelings besides those of grief for its loss; and I have often since thought what a master nay destroyer of the affections want is, and have learned from experience to be thankful for daily bread. That acknowledgment of weakness which we make in imploring to be relieved from hunger and from temptation, is surely wisely put in our daily prayer. Think of it, you who are rich, and take heed how you turn a beggar away. From The Hoggarty Diamond, xii. Thackeray returns to the same theme at the close of his Roundabout Paper, 'On a Pear Tree'. '"What had he been doing in Germany?" "Earning his daily bread, no more and no less." "And what has he been doing in Java these twelve years?" "Earning his daily bread, not less but no more." "I know," mused Ursula, with feminine inconsistency. "It seems so ridiculous, a Von Helmont earning his living." But this was a red rag to a bull. "It is never ridiculous," cried the pastor. " Give us this day our daily bread; that means: we would accept it, Lord, from no other hands than Thine."'

Maarten Maartens, in My Lady Nobody.


Luke 11:4

Here we have the two great fundamental facts of the Gospel-man's need of forgiveness, and God's willingness to bestow it.

I. Perhaps we are too apt to think of sin only in its effect upon ourselves. We shall never see sin in its naked horror, we shall never see it in its awful hatefulness until we look at it from another standpoint. We sin not against ourselves alone but against God. Even though sin entailed no loss to the sinner, involved no penalty, brought with it no curse, it would remain still utterly loathsome and hateful if we only realised that every sin of ours caused grief and pain to the heart of the eternal God, our loving Father in heaven. Now that is the point of view from which sin is regarded in this prayer. Matthew uses the word 'debt'. As Dr. Morison says: 'When we sin there is something in our act for which we become liable to God. Formerly He had a claim upon us; now He has a claim against us.' The sins of our past history are included in this word 'debt'. 'Debt is something we owe. 'Debtors 'we all of us are. We have come short we have given God less than His due, we are in debt to Him. Can we work it off in the days and years that are to come? I cannot hold out to you any hope of doing that.

II. Here is the Gospel in a nutshell. Something can be done. You can do nothing. I can do nothing, but God, the God against whom we have sinned, He can do everything. He will cancel the debt. The wonder of the world still is that the God against whom we have sinned is the one who will take our sin away.

All the souls that were, were forfeit once,

And He that might the vantage best have took

Found out the remedy.

That remedy was the Cross of Christ. There is nothing which His mercy cannot do. A poor criminal in Scotland, as he went forth to his place of execution, kept crying out, 'He is a great Forgiver. He is a great Forgiver.' Yes, He is a great Forgiver. And what was the price of pardon? It cost God the death of His only Son. But what will it cost us? it will cost us nothing. God does not sell. God gives. All that is required is that we should ask for it. Therefore He teaches us to pray 'Forgive us our trespasses'.

III. Notice the qualifying clause: 'For we ourselves also forgive everyone that is indebted to us'. (1) These words are meant to be words of encouragement. (2) Also words of solemn warning. Emerson says of Abraham Lincoln, that 'his heart was as big as the world, but there was no room in it for the memory of a wrong'.

J. D. Jones, The Model Prayer, p. 121.


Luke 11:4

'Forgive us our debts 'is a prayer that God will blot out the record of past sin. 'Lead us not into temptation 'is a prayer for protection in the future. For I want you to notice that the man who has truly repented of his sin wants not simply the past to be blotted out, but he wants grace to shun sin in the days to come. He wants not only to be delivered from the penalty of sin, but he also longs to be emancipated from its power.

This prayer recognises the fact that: I. This world is full of peril to the Christian, because it is full of temptation. The word translated 'temptation' in my text really means 'testing, trial'. God does not 'tempt' in the sense of inciting to evil; God tests. The presence of evil in our world, the incitements to evil that abound, looked at from God's standpoint, are tests tests of character, tests of moral strength. But these incitements to evil appeal to weakness and evil in our own hearts, and so to us they become 'temptations'. And of such 'temptations 'our world is full. Bunyan described the Christian life as a journey, but it is a journey through a very dangerous country. The old Greek legends speak of the syrens creatures half-women, half-fish who lived upon the rocks and could sing the most ravishing songs. So entrancing was the music that whoever heard it was irresistibly drawn to the singers. But it was woe to them; for the rocks whereon the syrens lived were strewn with the bones of dead men who had listened to their song and yielded to its fascination. That syren's song is still being sung, and every mariner on life's main hears it. The world, the flesh, and the devil are the syrens of today.

II. This verse implies the weakness of man. It is because we know our own weakness, it is because we know how liable we are to break down under any severe test that we pray, 'Bring us not into temptation'. I can only discover One Man in the history of the whole world who was proof against temptation, and that was the Perfect Man, Christ Jesus Himself.

III. This petition illustrates the spirit of true Christian courage. True courage will keep away from danger; true courage will only incur risk and peril when duty demands. There is nothing sinful in being tempted. We sin only when we yield to temptation. No conflict need end in defeat

J. D. Jones, The Model Prayer, p. 142.


Luke 11:4

I. All Forgiveness springs from God's Love. It is first of all that all forgiveness springs from God's love, and it is in the sacred Passion, I think, that we see so wonderfully how the love of God acts. We may notice it in four particulars:

(a) God in His great love determined to place before us the way of recovery. God seeks us; He sent His son; He came 'to seek and to save that which was lost'. And in the Passion you see that the Lord is, as it were, going down into the very depths, for you see Him 'made sin'. 'The Lord hath laid upon Him the iniquity of us all.'

(b) And then He pleads with us. The Lord pleaded with Judas up to the very last. 'Friend, wherefore art thou come?' He pleaded with Peter. 'The Lord turned and looked upon Peter,' that wonderful look! He pleaded with Pilate, and Pilate sought to release Him. He pleaded in silence on the Cross, so that He won the thief and the centurion, and others. 'All the people that came together to that sight, beholding the things which were done, smote their breasts and returned.'

(c) And then, again, we see in the Passion the love that forgives us interceding. 'Father, forgive them!'

(d) And then, once more, you see love suffering. There is the wonderful thing that God in saving us should suffer! Suffer to the very extremity! Yes: because it was the law of God that sin must be punished, that 'the soul that sinneth it shall die'. He suffered and died to save us from our sin.

And what we see our Lord did in His Passion He is doing now. He still seeks. He sends things, circumstances, people, messages, that arrest us in our downward course, to bring us back to Him! He still pleads, pleads by His Holy Spirit. And He still intercedes. 'He ever liveth to make intercession for us.'

II. Man's Response. If we are to lay hold of this forgiveness, what is our part? We must respond. The Lord seeks us, we have got to seek Him. His seeking will be in vain if you do not respond to it. It is so easy to want to have our sins forgiven. We ask God to forgive us, but we are very slow to listen when He points along the narrow way. He pleads with us by His Holy Spirit. Woe be to us if the Lord speaks to us this Passion-tide and we refuse to listen. And then, if He intercedes for us, we must be very careful to respond to His love. We can plead the merits and death of God's dear Son before the Father. Again, as He suffered, so we must take up our cross and follow in His steps.

III. The Spirit of Forgiveness. But once more, if we are to lay hold upon forgiveness our Lord tells us that there must really be the spirit of forgiveness in us.

All our hope of forgiveness springs from the love of God; and if God so loved us we must return love for love, and, as a test that our love is genuine, we must take heed that we love our brethren.

Luke 11:4

The twenty-ninth chapter of Sylvia's Lovers contains some reflections by Mrs. Gaskell on forgiveness, which she puts into a dialogue between Sylvia and Philip. The latter is endeavouring in vain to persuade his betrothed to 'forgive the man who gave information leading to her father's condemnation; but Sylvia replies:

'Thee and me was never meant to go together. It is not in me to forgive I sometimes think it's not in me to forget. I wonder, Philip, if thy father had done a kind deed and a right deed and a merciful deed and some one as he'd been good too, even in the midst of his just anger, had gone and let on about him to the judge, as was trying to hang him and had gotten him hanged hanged dead, so that his wife were a widow, and his child fatherless for evermore I wonder if thy veins would run milk and water, so that thou could go and make friends, and speak soft wi'him as had caused thy father's death?'

'It's said in t' Bible, Sylvie, that we're to forgive.'

'Ay, there's some things, as I know, I niver forgive; and there's others as I can't and I won't either.'

'But, Sylvie, yo'pray to be forgiven your trespasses, as you forgive them as trespass against you.'

'Well, if I'm to be taken at my word, I'll noan pray at all, that's all. It's well enough for them as has but little to forgive, to use them words.... I tell thee my flesh and blood wasn't made for forgiving and forgetting. Once for all, thou must take my word. When I love I love, and when I hate I hate; and him as has done harm to me, or to mine, may keep fra' striking or murdering, but I'll never forgive. I should be just a monster, fit to be shown at a fair, if I could forgive him as got father hanged.'

Luke 11:4

To avoid an occasion for our virtues is a worse degree of failure than to push forward pluckily and make a fall. It is lawful to pray God that we be not led into temptation; but not lawful to skulk from those that come to us.

R. L. Stevenson.

References. XI. 4. C. Stanford, The Lord's Prayer, pp. 179, 203, 229. Expositor (4th Series), vol. iii. pp. 124, 281, 454; ibid. (6th Series), vol. i. p. 122. XI. 5, 6. G. H. Morrison, The Return of the Angels, p. 256. Expositor (7th Series), vol. vi. p. 283. XI. 5-7. Ibid. (5th Series), vol. vii. p. 421. XI. 5-8. Ibid. (6th Series), vol. viii. p. 119; ibid. vol. x. p. 109. XI. 6-13. J. Laidlaw, Studies in the Parables, p. 135.

The Message for Midnight

Luke 11:6

Christianity is the religion for midnight. Midnight in Holy Scripture is the hour of God's great inter-positions and deliverances. At midnight the children of Israel were led out with a high hand. At midnight the angel of the Lord smote the camp of the Assyrians. At midnight the iron gate opened of his own accord. At midnight the prisoners heard Paul and Silas singing. At midnight the Lord of Life woke in the rocky grave and said, 'I will arise and go to My Father'. As it is written, 'At midnight I will rise and give thanks unto Thee because of Thy righteous judgments'. When He had given thanks, He broke the bars of iron and shattered the gates of death. And at midnight we who preach Christ can preach, to whosoever seeks us, the delivering God. That is what we have to set before the pleading wayfarer at midnight. We have to set before him God the Father.

It is unnecessary to spend much time in describing the midnights of the soul. They are midnights of remorse, of sorrow, of despair. It is midnight when our thousand hopes die together at one blow of fate. It is midnight when our landmarks change, when great shadows blot and chill the world, when a sudden darkness falls on all things. These midnights seem completely to overthrow not only our natural strength, but even the defences of our faith. But if Christ brings us to God the morning breaks in triumph.

I. We read in the Romance of Grace the words, 'Thy brother was dead and is alive again, and was lost and is found'. The order is a true order. To bring home the lost is a greater and harder thing by far than to raise the dead. Dr. Dale wrote to Archbishop Tait a letter of consolation on his son's death, in which he said that it was so much better to lose a child by death than to lose one by sin. We all understand this, but for the present let us take sin and death in the order of time. What can we say to the friend, the wayfarer who comes to us in the midnight of sin? Let us learn from the story of the Prodigal Son. We have told, and we have done right to tell, what Christ accomplished when, as Priest and as Victim, He offered up the evening sacrifice of the world. We have preached how in His substitutionary offering He released His believers from the guilt, the penalty, and the power of sin. We have discussed as theologians, and we have done well to discuss, the meaning of forgiveness. We have tried to discover how far forgiveness means the release from consequences, the breaking of the close-linked chain. Yes, but there is a simpler and deeper word than any of these. Christ by His living and dying brings us to God.

II. What is true of the midnight of sin is true of the midnight of death. The Christian thought is that death brings us and our God together. The literature of Christian consolation, especially in recent times, has done little justice to this great truth. It has dwelt upon death as the knitter of severed ties, as the restorer of those loved long since and lost awhile. It has contemplated death as the severer. We know how the heart craves for such comfort, and we know that such comfort is true and Divine, but we wrong ourselves and we wrong the Father when we think of death first as bringing us to our beloved. The sting of death is drawn when we know that death brings us to God. Love wanders to every desert and calls to every sea and knocks at every grave, and demands its own back again, and God, Who is love, cannot, will not, dare not refuse. Them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with Him. We can preach all that, and preach it from our hearts, but death brings us first of all to Christ and to God. I am afraid that modern preaching has led many to think of a future blessed life in which God is as much in the background as He is here. There is, I am sure, a belief that in the next world the relations between ourselves and our beloved will be brought to a perfection of tenderness and security, and God will lie in the distance, still the background, still the helper, still the answerer of prayer and nothing nearer.

The faith in immortality will never be maintained without a lively faith in God the Father. Who of us can say with full sincerity of heart, 'Whom have I in heaven but Thee, and there is none on earth that I desire beside Thee'? St. Paul could have answered. For him to live was Christ, and to die was gain, because to die meant to have more of Christ. He looked for his loved ones, like the rest of us. He looked to see them transfigured in the glow of the soft eternal sunshine: but to St. Paul his dear ones were robed and homed in Christ, and it was for Christ, for God that he waited. If we love as he loved, we shall find as he found that the change from grace to glory is less by far than the change from nature to grace. In Russia and in the great North lands I have read that sunset is almost in the north, and the sunrise takes it by the hand. In St. Paul's triumphant dying the rose of evening became suddenly and silently the rose of dawn. 'O Zion, that bringest good tidings, get thee up into the high mountain: O Jerusalem, that bringest good tidings, lift up thy voice with strength; lift it up, be not afraid; say unto the cities of Judah, Behold your God!'

W. Robertson Nicoll, The Lamp of Sacrifice, p. 97.

Luke 11:7

Borrow, in The Bible in Spain, describes an inhospitable reception on the road to Villafranca, where 'at the first posada which I attempted to enter, I was told that we could not be accommodated, and still less our horses, as the stable was full of water. At the second, and there were but two, I was answered from the window by a gruff voice, nearly in the words of Scripture: "Trouble me not: the door is now shut, and my children are with me in bed; I cannot arise to let you in".'

Luke 11:9

In a letter to his daughter, Mrs. Ireton, Cromwell tells her that her sister, Lady Claypole, 'sees her own vanity and carnal mind; bewailing it: she. seeks after, as I hope also, what will satisfy. And thus to be a seeker is to be of the best sect next to a finder; and such an one shall every faithful, humble seeker be at the end. Happy seeker, happy finder!... Dear Heart, press on; let not husband, let not anything cool thy affections after Christ.'

References. XI. 9. J. C. Lees, Christian World Pulpit, vol. J. p. 108. F. B. Cowl, Preacher's Magazine, vol. xviii. p. 478. Expositor (4th Series), vol. iii. p. 305. XI. 9-10. R. Rainy, Christian World Pulpit, vol. 1. p. 70. Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. xix. No. 1091.

Luke 11:10

Speaking of Schlegel's Philosophische Vorlesungen, Carlyle exclaims: 'A solemn, mournful feeling comes over us when we see this last work of Friedrich Schlegel, the unwearied seeker, end abruptly in the middle; and, as if he had not yet proved, as if emblematically of much, end with an Aber , with a "But!" This was the last word that came from the pen of Friedrich Schlegel; about eleven at night he wrote it down, and there paused sick.'

References. XI. 10. T. Binney, King's Weigh-House Chapel Sermons, p. 231. XI. 11-13. Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. xvi. No. 959.

Luke 11:11-12

You expected bread, and you have got a stone; break your teeth on it, and don't shriek because the nerves are martyrised; do not doubt that your mental stomach if you have such a thing is strong as an ostrich's the stone will digest. You held out your hand for an egg, and fate put into it a scorpion. Show no consternation: close your fingers firmly upon the gift; let it sting through your palm. Never mind: in time, after your hand and arm have swelled and quivered long with torture, the squeezed scorpion will die, and you will have learned the great lesson how to endure without a sob. For the whole remnant of your life, if you survive the test some, it is said, die under it you will be stronger, wiser, less sensitive.

Charlotte Bronte, Shirley, vii.

The stone under foot has, for careless men, nothing in it but stumbling; no pleasure is languidly to be had out of it, nor food, nor good of any kind; nothing but the symbolism of the hard heart, and the unfatherly gift.


The Greatest Gift

Luke 11:13

It may be observed that we have here incidentally two illustrations of Christ's consciousness that He was unlike other men. He places Himself outside the circle of earthly parentage and relations and outside the shadow of sin which troubles it. These words and others of His have done much in helping to produce that consciousness of the wonderfulness and greatness of parental love which has been the joy of thousands of homes. To feel that a loving parent and a trusting child are the likest to God of all creatures, and that the voice of the child asking is the best type for us of the wonderful act of prayer who can tell what effects have been thereby produced. They are an exhortation to earnestness and confident supplication. They give us: I. The shadow of parental love on earth, and its reality in heaven. The purest and best earthly love has its limitations and imperfections. (1) The earthly is limited, the heavenly is unbounded. (2) The earthly is imperfect, the heavenly is perfect. The evil of the parent heart interferes with, though it does not prevent, the flow of love.

II. The gift that includes all good. The Holy Spirit is that gift which includes all besides. The gift of the parent bears some correspondence to the giver. The earthly being evil can yet give good, but only of an inferior and limited kind. God being good can give what is like Himself. That gift is itself the all-inclusive good. (1) The highest. 'This is the true bread.' (2) The pledge of all besides. 'Freely give us all things.'

III. The gift is given for the asking. (1) The asking should be with loving confidence, not expecting a denial. A child never dreams of being angrily repelled. It is beautiful how a child will break in upon anything with its requests, and beautiful to see how the strongest nature will move in response to a child, like some big rocking-stone that an infant's hand can cause to vibrate. (2) With submission. (3) With importunity.

A. Maclaren.

References. XI. 13. H. M. Butler, Christian World Pulpit, vol. xlv. p. 145. J. W. Houchin, The Vision of God, p. 21. T. Binney, King's Weigh-House Chapel Sermons, p. 231. C. Bosanquet, Blossoms from the King's Garden, p. 277. E. Griffith-Jones, Christian World Pulpit, vol. lx. p. 376. R. J. Campbell, City Temple Sermons, p. 92. W. G. Horder, Christian World Pulpit, vol. lv. p. 38. Expositor (6th Series), vol. viii. p. 447; ibid. (7th Series), vol. v. p. 159. XI. 14. H. J. Wilmot-Buxton, Sunday Sermonettes for a Year, p. 60. J. Keble, Sermons for Lent to Passion-tide, p. 223. S. Baring-Gould, Village Preaching for a Year (2nd Series), vol. i. p. 159 and (1st Series), vol. i. p. 219. XI. 17. J. Hammond, Christian World Pulpit, vol. lvi. p. 196. XI. 20. Expositor (6th Series), vol. viii. p. 155. XI. 21. Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. xxxvi. No. 2157. W. G. Rutherford, The Key of Knowledge, p. 117. XI. 21, 22. T. F. Crosse, Sermons (2nd Series), p. 42. Bishop Gore, Christian World Pulpit, vol. lv. p. 376, XI. 21-26. Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. xi. No. 613. XI. 23. E. J. Boyce, Parochial Sermons, p. 129. C. J. Ridgeway, Christian World Pulpit, vol. xlvi. p. 51. J. Keble, Sermons for Lent to Passion-tide, p. 213. Bishop Winnington-Ingram, Christian World Pulpit, vol. lix. p. 220. XI. 24. R. W. Hiley, A Year's Sermons, vol. i. p. 141. F. St. John Corbett, The Preacher's Year, p. 57.

Luke 11:24-26

A revival of any form of sacerdotal Christianity would be a matter of practice and not of theory. The system which sapped the foundations of patriotism in the old world; which wellnigh eradicated the sense of intellectual honesty, and seriously weakened the habit of truth-speaking; which lowered men's reverence for the marriage-bond by placing its sanctions in a realm outside of nature instead of in the common life of men, and by the institution of monasticism and a celibate clergy; which stunted the moral sense of the nations by putting a priest between every man and his conscience; this system, if it should ever return to power, must be expected to produce worse evils than those which it has worked in the past The house which it once made desolate has been partially swept and garnished by the free play gained for the natural goodness of men. It would come back accompanied by social diseases perhaps worse than itself, and the wreck of civilised Europe would be darker than the darkest of past ages.

Prof. W. K. Clifford.

References. XI. 24-26. J. Vaughan, Fifty Sermons (9th Series), p. 277. XI. 25. T. F. Crosse, Sermons, p. 205. T. Arnold, Sermons, vol. iv. p. 109. XI. 26. J. A. Alexander, The Gospel of Jesus Christ, p. 118. XI. 27. W. M. Sinclair, Words from St. Paul's (2nd Series), p. 156. Bishop Boyd-Carpenter, Christian World Pulpit, vol. xliii. p. 321. XI. 27, 28. W. C. Wheeler, Sermons and Addresses, p. 69. W. H. Hutchings, Sermon-Sketches (2nd Series), p. 282. J. Keble, Sermons for Lent to Passion-tide, p. 233. F. Bourdillon, Plain Sermons for Family Reading (2nd Series), p. 92. Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. xxxii. No. 1920; vol. lii. No. 3018. XI. 29. Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. xv. No. 898. Expositor (6th Series), vol. v. p. 283. XI. 29-32. Ibid., vol. v. p. 139; ibid. vol. vi. pp. 356, 417. XI. 30. Expositor (4th Series), vol. iii. p. 26. Ibid. vol. v. p. 226. XI. 31. Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. xxvii. No. 1600.

Luke 11:33

As, in Catholic countries, the lamps lighted before the images of saints, in narrow and dangerous streets, not only served as offerings of devotion, but likewise as light to those who passed, so, in the dark and dismal streets of the city of Unbelief, every good thought, word, and deed of a man, not only is an offering to heaven, but likewise serves to light him and others on their way homeward.


She never found fault with you, never implied Your wrong by her right; and yet men at her side Grew nobler, girls purer.

None knelt at her feet, confessed lovers in thrall They knelt more to God than they used that was all.

E. B. Browning.

In his biography of Mr. Gladstone (111. 2) Mr. Morley quotes the following passage from the statesman's diary, written at the age of seventy-one: 'Looking back calmly on this cause of experience, I do believe that the Almighty has employed me for His purposes in a manner larger and more special than before, and has strengthened me and led me on accordingly, though I must not forget the admirable saying of Hooker, that even ministers of good things are like torches, a light to others, waste and destruction to themselves'.

I know the face of Him who with the sphere

Of unseen presences communion keeps.

His eyes retain its wonders in their clear

Unfathomable deeps.

His every feature, rugged or refined,

Shines from the inner light; and large or small

His earthly state, he from the world behind

Brings wealth that beggars all.

This in his face I see; and when we meet,

My earthliness is shamed by him; but yet

Takes hope to think that, in the unholy street,

Such men are to be met.

Robert Leighton.

Luke 11:33-36

Despite Wellhausen's judgment that the connection is ' ganz unklar ' the collected lamp-sayings of this section may be read together in the light of the preceding discourse upon the person of Jesus as His only sign. Our Lord has argued that nothing can prove Him except Himself. A greater than Solomon or Jonah is here ; the wisdom and the moving power of His own life are their best evidence, and no external sign need be expected. Hence the line of the subsequent sayings, which Luke has inserted at this point. Their psychological continuity is as follows: (a) God has not made His Messiah to appear in any obscure or eccentric or out-of-the-way form. No man, when he hath lighted a lamp, putteth it in a cellar, neither under the bushel, but on the stand, that they which enter in may see the light (ver. 33). Here Jesus is the lamp, set by God in the open sight of the world. His revelation is not esoteric or subtle, requiring some special sign to render it visible. God has acted reasonably in the mission of the Son. Solomon's wisdom was not a secret; Jonah preached in public. How much more this greater than either! The person and truth of Jesus are conspicuous enough for any one who has eyes to see. Why then do so many miss Him or misunderstand Him? The reason must lie not in Him, but in themselves, in their prejudices and moral obliquities of vision. Consequently (b) the metaphor of the lamp is now shifted from Jesus to human nature, as B. Weiss points out in his recent volume on Die Quellen des Lukasevangeliums (1907, pp. 76 f). The sole explanation of this untoward blindness in men to the clear revelation of Jesus must be sought in some inward twist or defect in those who enter in ; if they do not see the light, it is not because the light is concealed but because the normal organ of knowledge and spiritual perception must have become deranged.

The lamp of thy body is thine eye:

When thine eye is single ( ἁπλοῦς , sound, unimpaired),

Thy whole body is also full of light;

But when it is evil,

Thy body also is full of darkness.

Look, therefore, whether the light that is in thee ( i.e., the

soul, as the eye of life) be not darkness.

Instead of looking around for signs or external proofs in order to understand the mystery of Jesus, the crowd are bidden look within, and the admonition is clinched with the final word (ver. 36): if therefore thy whole body be full of light, having no part dark, it shall be wholly full of light, as when the lamp with its bright shining doth give thee light. God's light is clear enough. But what about your light?

James Moffatt.

References. XI. 33-36. Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. xxxv. No. 2109. Expositor (6th Series), vol. ii. p. 277; ibid. (7th Series), vol. vi. p. 284.

Luke 11:34

'The secret of Wool man's purity of style,' said Dr. Channing once of the well-known Quaker's Journal, 'is that his eye was single, and that conscience dictated his words.'

References. XI. 34. Expositor (5th Series), vol. i. p. 304; ibid. vol. ii. p. 343. XI. 35. J. Budgen, Parochial Sermons, vol. ii. p. 119.

The Blind Spot

Luke 11:36

Having the whole being illuminated walking in the fullness of the light this is the special point of the text. Many are wholly blind concerning spiritual realities, and many believers see only imperfectly, intermittently, partially. Of these latter we now propose to speak.

I. The fact of this partial appreciation of Divine truth. Christian people, who in the main are very good and wise, sometimes startle us by their partial and inadequate realisation of the knowledge of Christ. (1) We see this limitation of view in the system of doctrine held by various believers. Take the Calvinist view of the Divine government. Take the Catholic view of the Divine grace. Take the Puritan view of the Divine service. (2) We see this limitation of view in the conception of duty formed by various believers. It is sometimes found that an artist has an excellent eye for form and outline, whilst he is, if not wholly colour-blind, seriously wanting in the sense of colour. And just so in moral life. Goethe said: 'If a great man has a dark place in his mind, it is very dark'. We may change a word here, and say; if a good man has a dark place in his mind, it is apt to be very dark.

II. The causes of this partial illumination. (1) It may be done by pride. We need to beware of ecclesiastical bigotry, of theological prejudice, of intellectual prepossession and conceit. (2) It may be done by insincerity. (3) It may be done by disobedience. To see clearly we must wish to see clearly. Amiel says: 'The number of beings who wish to see truly is extraordinarily small'.

III. The evil significance of this defective enlightenment (1) It destroys peace. We sometimes say, 'What the eye does not see, the heart does not grieve,' but that is not true here ignorance, error, and the faults which spring therefrom mean restlessness, discontent and sorrow. (2) It maims character. (3) It implies peril.

It is our privilege to walk in the full light to have our whole soul instructed and luminous. (1) 'Take heed' to God's word. To see clearly we must test and strengthen our vision by revelation. (2) 'Take heed 'to your spirit and life. To see truly we must keep our soul in health. The lustre of the eye is dependent upon the purity of the heart; true seeing is the reward of true living.

W. L. Watkinson, The Blind Spot, p. 3.

References. XI. 38, 39. Expositor (7th Series), vol. v. p. 225. XI. 39-41. Ibid. (5th Series), vol. v. p. 376. XI. 41. J. Wakeford, Plain Sermons on Sunday Observance, p. 77. Expositor (5th Series), vol. ix. p. 219.

Luke 11:42

Ordinary religion which is alloyed with motives of this world may easily be in excess, may be fanatical, may be interested, may be the mask of ambition, may be perverted in a thousand ways. But of that religion which combines the will of God with our highest ideas of truth and right there can never be too much.

From Jowett's Introduction to the Philebus.

Take this passage from Carlyle's essay on 'Characteristics': 'Ages of Heroism are not ages of Moral Philosophy; Virtue, when it can be philosophised of, has become aware of itself, is sickly and beginning to decline. A spontaneous, habitual, all-pervading Spirit of Chivalrous Valour shrinks together, and perks itself up into shrivelled Points of Honour; humane courtesy and Nobleness of Mind dwindle into punctilious Politeness, avoiding meats, paying tithe of mint and anise, neglecting the weightier matters of the law.'

Froude, writing of the Tractarian Movement at Oxford, declares that 'famous as the Tractarian leaders were to become, their names are not connected with a single effort to improve the teaching of Oxford or to mend its manners. Behind the larger conflict which they raised, that duty was left untouched for many years; it was taken up ultimately by the despised Liberals, who have not done it well, but have at least accomplished something, and have now the credit which was left imprudently within their reach.'

Mr. Laurence Oliphant describes the Metawalies in Syria as the strictest and most notorious tribe in the country, so scrupulous that they will neither touch, nor, if possible, eat with any Christian, and so particular about rites and ceremonies that they carefully avoid defilement at the hands of unbelievers. Yet, 'they are among the dirtiest and most squalid of religious sects in the East, and that is saying a good deal. And everywhere they possess a most unenviable character as thieves and robbers'.

Luke 11:42

In an article on 'The Fall of the Roman Empire and its Lessons for us' ( Contemporary Review, January 1898, p. 70), Dr. Hodgkin observes: 'We are not easily understood nor easily loved. We do not, like the Roman, the Frenchman, and the Russian, fascinate the peoples of lesser civilisation with whom we are brought into contact. We are selfish, as I fear most nations are selfish, and our neighbours, not always justly, think us to be grasping. But deep down in the national heart there is, I think, an instinctive love of fair play, which is capable at times of rising into an enthusiastic love of righteousness.'

References. XI. 42. Expositor (5th Series), vol. x. p. 323. XI. 44. D. Fraser, Metaphors in the Gospels, p. 191.

Luke 11:47

'Man,' says Huxley in his essay on Agnosticism, 'makes a point of killing and otherwise persecuting all those who first try to get him to move on; and when he has moved a step farther, foolishly confers post-mortem deification on his victims. He exactly repeats the process with all who want to move a step yet farther.'

References. XI. 51. Expositor (4th Series), vol. i. p. 27; ibid. vol. iii. p. 397. XI. 52. T. Arnold, Sermons, vol. ii. p. 257. Bishop Gore, Christian World Pulpit, vol. lx. p. 113. W. G. Rutherford, The Key of Knowledge, p. 1. Expositor (6th Series), vol. vi. p. 32; ibid. (7th Series), vol. v. p. 278.

Bibliographical Information
Nicoll, William Robertson, M.A., L.L.D. "Commentary on Luke 11". Expositor's Dictionary of Text. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/edt/luke-11.html. 1910.
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