JESUS RETURNS TO GALILEE
Matthew 12:1-18; Mark 2:23-28, and Luke 6:1-5. We find that our Lord spent but two weeks at Jerusalem during this tour, preaching and working miracles all the time, of which we have no record; but the fifth chapter of John giving us one notable miracle and one powerful sermon. Luke informs us that the incident, here recorded by Matthew, Mark, and Luke, took place on the Sabbath following the Passover, which began on the Sabbath, ran through the intervening week, and closed on the ensuing Sabbath; thus, according to Luke's testimony, giving our Savior two-weeks' evangelistic tour in Jerusalem. Inquiry naturally rises why He returns to Galilee so soon, when He had spent about ten months of the preceding year in that country. Our Lord gives the reason (John 4:44). Jerusalem and Judea were the regions of great population, while Galilee was the more thinly settled. Again, as He was a native Galilean, His ministry would not attract the amount of popular attention there as at Jerusalem, and especially on occasions of the great festivals, thus augmenting the probability of their cutting short His ministry by crowning Him King. Therefore He did most of His preaching and performed most of His mighty works in the comparatively thinly populated regions of Galilee.
Mark: “And it came to pass that He was journeying on the Sabbath, through the corn-fields, and His disciples began to pursue the journey, plucking the ears [i.e., the wheat-heads]. And the Pharisees continued to say to Him, Behold what they are doing on the Sabbath, which is not lawful. And He said to them, Have you not read what David did when he had need, and he and those who were with him were hungry? How he entered into the house of God, in the days of Abiathar the high priest, and did eat the shewbread, which it is not lawful to eat except for the priests, and he gave it to those who were with him? And He said to them, The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath. The Son of man is Lord also of the Sabbath.” Matthew: “Have you not read in the law that the priests on the Sabbath in the 'temple do profane the Sabbath, and are blameless? But I
say unto you, There is One here greater than the temple. If you had known what that is, I wish mercy and not sacrifice, you would not have condemned the innocent.” Matthew, Mark, and Luke all relate this incident, which transpired on the Sabbath following the Passover, while our Lord and His disciples were prosecuting their pedestrian journey back to Galilee. Remember that we are now in the beginning of the second year of our Savior's ministry, two more years and two Passovers yet to come. We see our Lord's critics raise no objection to their plucking the wheat-heads, rubbing them out in their hands and eating them (it is more probable it was barley, as this occurred about the first of May, the beginning of the barley harvest, the wheat coming on about a month later), as this privilege was granted in the law of Moses (Deuteronomy 21:2); but they arraign Him for violating the Sabbath, as this happened to take place on that day, showing how very fanatical they were, that they wouldn't allow them to get a little something to eat on the Sabbath. Excessive zeal on non- essentials has characterized the fallen Churches of every age. At this point they murdered the martyrs, too blind to see their holy lives, and actually massacring them because they did not conform to the non-essential human regulations of a fallen ecclesiasticism. Our Savior here gives them the case of the priests, who offer the sacrifices, and work hard in the temple on the Sabbath, and are blameless. He also corroborates it by the case of David (1 Samuel 21:1-7), who, in his flight from Saul, came to Nob, in the days of Abiathar, the priest, he and his men, in their extremity and destitution, eating the shewbread in the temple, which was lawful only for the priests to eat. “I wish mercy and not sacrifice” is the key to this entire problem. God wants a broken heart and a contrite spirit, a penitent soul, on whom He can have mercy, free and unlimited — i.e., save him for nothing, except the vicarious work of Christ — instead of a great sacrifice, offered in pomp and demonstration by some rich person, whose heart is far from Him, vainly flattering himself that he can pay his way to heaven. In this way millions of wealthy Church members make their bed in hell, depending on their offerings to the Lord, instead of falling, a miserable, bankrupt suppliant, at the feet of Jesus, and there crying for mercy till the heavens bow, and God comes down and answers the prayer of the broken-hearted penitent in the mighty uplift of His omnipotent hand.
THE WITHERED HAND
Matthew 12:9-14; Mark 3:1-6; and Luke 6:6-11. Our Lord and His disciples have again reached Galilee, their native land. Luke notifies us that this incident transpired on the Sabbath following the preceding, and that it was the right hand which was utterly paralyzed and withered away. Mark: “And he came again into the synagogue, and there was a man with a withered hand. And they were watching Him if He will heal him on the Sabbath-day, in order that they may accuse Him. And He says to the man having the withered hand, Rise up in the midst. And He says to them, Is it lawful to do good on the Sabbath-day or to do evil, to save life or to kill? And they were silent. And looking round on them with anger, being grieved on account of the hardness of their heart, He says to the man, Reach forth thy hand, and he reached it forth, and his hand was made whole as the other. And the Pharisees, going out, immediately took counsel, along with the Herodians, against Him, in order that they may kill Him.” Doubt less you are surprised over the extreme fanaticism of the Jews on the Sabbath question. You must remember that the penalty for Sabbath-breaking under the law of Moses was death. Sabbath is a Hebrew word, which means rest; i.e., that perfect rest which the sanctified soul finds in Jesus. Now you know that God's method with sin is destruction. You can not have this blessed Sabbatic soul-rest until you crucify the man of sin. Then it is impossible for you to keep it unless you deal death to every disturber; i.e., keep the Sword of the Spirit unsheathed and lifted high, ready to strike the death-blow and cut off every snake-head that pokes out. Therefore the symbolic dispensation punished the Sabbath-breaker with death, confirming to us this grand and glorious truth of entire sanctification by sin's annihilation, received and perpetuated. The fact is, even at that early day in His ministry, the leading preachers and official laymen had determined to kill Him, and were only seeking an opportunity. They thought that if they could condemn Him for Sabbath-breaking, they could secure the edict of the Sanhedrin, which was death by stoning. You see in this, the Pharisees and Herodians unite against Him, taking mutual counsel for His death. Do you not know the Pharisees were the orthodox denomination of the Jewish Church and leaders in the opposition to Roman rule, which they had then endured thirty years, while the Herodians were a political party in favor of the Roman Government.
Hence, you see, they were bitter enemies, either to other. Yet we here find them uniting their forces against Jesus, and taking mutual counsel to kill Him. How wonderfully history repeats itself! Holiness is the abstract of which Jesus is the concrete. Opposition to holiness is nothing more nor less than opposition to Jesus. How frequently do we find the wurring sects laying down the cudgel of controversy, and all mutually uniting against holiness!
During our Savior's response to them on this occasion, Mark says, “Looking round upon them with anger, being grieved on account of the hardness of their hearts.” Here he uses the same word, orge, which Paul used (Ephesians 5:26), “Be ye angry and sin not.” Now how can we be angry and sin not? Why! in the same sense in which Jesus “looked round on them with anger,” as Mark and Paul both use the same word-the former applying it to Jesus, and the latter to the saints of all ages. We can be angry and sin not precisely as Jesus did on that occasion. Fortunately, we have an inspired definition of our Lord's anger on that occasion, “Being grieved on account of the hardness of their heart.” Hence, we see, the anger of Jesus consisted in holy grief. Therefore this is the only sense in which we can be angry and sin not. The more holy we are, and the more like Jesus, the more we realize holy indignation against all sin, in every conceivable form and phase. Hence “anger,” in the sense of holy grief, is characteristic of every true Christian. In this sense, “God is angry with the wicked every day.” Lord, make us all like Thyself!
HE CALLS THE TWELVE APOSTLES
Matthew 10:2-4; Mark 3:13-19; & Luke 6:13-16. Mark: “And He goes up into a mountain, and calls to Him those whom He wished, and He made twelve, that they may be with Him, and that He may send them out to preach, and to have the power to heal the sick and to cast out demons.” Luke says that “He went out into the mountain to pray, and was spending the night in the prayer of God. And when it was day, He called His disciples, and selecting twelve from them, whom He called Apostles.” Bishop Taylor used to make it a rule to spend a night in prayer before he sent away the missionaries to their respective fields of labor. Rev. A.B. Simpson anticipates those wonderful, unprecedented, and paradoxical missionary collections by a night of prayer. O what an example here for Annual Conferences, and other responsible transactions in the kingdom of God! Where E.V. says, “He ordained twelve” (Mark 3:14), the original is epoiese, which simply means “made;” i.e., He selected twelve out of the company of disciples who followed Him, and made them apostles. The word apostle is from apo, “from,” and stello, “send.” Hence it means persons sent forth, as the inspired Twelve were commissioned and sent into all the world. King James’s translators used the word “ordained,” here and elsewhere, in order to sustain the Church usages and authority, there being no such a meaning in the original. Our Savior made the twelve apostles just like He makes you what you are, if true to His providence and grace. He has a vast diversity of workers in His kingdom. He made them all what they are. We have nothing to do but perfectly submit to His Word, Spirit, and providence, and rest assured He will make us efficient workers in His vineyard, though infinitely diverse, either from other. Paul says,
“He gave some apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, some pastors and teachers, for the perfecting of the saints.” (Ephesians 4:2.)
Hence, you see, all of these offices are perpetuated to the end of time. Under the shibboleth of Church ordination, floods of ecclesiastical misrule and tyranny have been turned on the Church, terribly to the detriment of her efficiency in the salvation of the world. The great dogma of ordination, as claimed and practiced by the High-Church isms, is unknown in the Bible, a true translation eliminating it altogether. It is all right for the Churches to corroborate the Holy Ghost in the ordination of God's saints for the work to which He calls them.
Matthew: “He placed on Simon the name Peter;” i.e., “rock,” which the world never saw till after the fires of Pentecost burnt up the debris, and swept away the cowardice, and revealed the solid rock. “James the son of Zebedee, and John the brother of James; and on these he put the names Boanerges, which is, Sons of thunder.”
This name is very significant, showing that James and John had tremendous voices, so they could roar hike thunder. O, what a blessing — a stalwart physical constitution and stentorian voice! If the Lord has given you a strong voice, appreciate the honor of a Boanerges, and consecrate this rich and valuable gift to God. “And Andrew, Philip, and Bartholomew;” i.e., son of Tolmai, a patronymic for Nathanael. “Matthew, Thomas; James the son of Ahpheus [also called James the Less]; and Thaddeus [i.e., Jude], and Simeon the Canaanite.” Matthew and Mark call him the “Canaanite,” while Luke says, “Simon, called Zelotes” — i.e., “the zealot.” Now if you will look in a Greek dictionary, you will find “zelotes” and “canaanite” synonymous, neither of them being proper names, as E.V. has them. The simple lexical meaning is, “zealous,” setting forth the fact that Simon was a red-hot holiness evangelist, full of life and fire. “And Judas Iscariot, who also betrayed Him.” What a momentous transaction took place on this mountain, when our Lord selected these twelve men, not from the colleges nor the palaces, but from the lower walks of labor and private life, and invested them with the commission to preach the gospel to all the world! To this they all proved true but Judas Iscariot, whom Satan unfortunately captured before he received the baptism of the Holy Ghost and fire, the indispensable qualification of them all. However, he was nobly succeeded by Matthias, who, with the other eleven, received his allotment in the distribution of the world among the Twelve, going to Abyssinia; Mark, to Egypt; Matthew, to Ethiopia; Peter, to Rome; Andrew, to Armenia; Bartholomew, to Phrygia; Philip, to Syria; Jude, to Tartary; Thomas, to India. After our Lord's ascension, He augmented this number by the addition of five more noble apostles — i.e.,
Paul, Apollos, Barnabas, and James and Judas, the brothers of the Lord — the two Jameses included in the original Twelve both suffering martyrdom in Jerusalem.
Luke 6:17. “And coming down along with them, He stood on a level place.” The Mount of Beatitudes, hanging over the city of Capernaum, has a nice plateati, about half-way down from the summit, which is doubtless the plain on which our Lord halted with the Twelve, whom He had constituted apostles. “A multitude of His disciples, and a great host of the people from all Judea, Jerusalem, and Tyre and Sidon by the seaside, who came to bear Him, and to be healed of their diseases, and those troubled with unclean spirits; and they continued to be healed. And the whole crowd sought to touch Him, because power was going out from Him and was healing all.” After the night of prayer, spent high up in the Mount of Beatitudes, calling His disciples to Him, He proceeds to select from them the twelve apostles, accompanied by whom He descends from the summit about 8 A.M. No sooner does He descend to the plateau till the people, recognizing Him, come rushing from all directions. Moved with sympathy, He now does a mighty work of bodily healing and demoniacal ejectment, thus wonderfully saving the people, both from sin and sickness. Where E.V. says, “Power was going out from Him and was healing all,” the Greek says “dynamite,” a word which men of science have recently Anglicized and adopted, to indicate the greatest mechanical power in the known world, and very appropriately, as it is the word constantly used in the New Testament to reveal the matchless wonders of omnipotent grace.
SERMON ON THE MOUNT
Matthew 5-7, and Luke 6:20-49. A few days ago it was my privilege to spend two beautiful bright days at the sea of Galilee, sailing over it, and visiting the places of historic note. Our dragoman escorted us up Mt. Hattin, which hangs over the city of Tiberias on the west coast, and said to us, “This is the Mount of Beatitudes.” I correct this mistake, lest you fall into it. While perhaps all the guides through that country would corroborate our dragoman, the Word of the Lord is the end of all controversy. Mt. Hattin, so celebrated as the battlefield on which the Christian Crusaders suffered their last and final defeat by Saladin, the Mohammedan general, A.D. 1189, after which the Cross retreated from the Holy Land, the Crescent superseding even till this day, is twenty miles from Capernaum overland, and ten by sea. Hence this can not be the Mount of Beatitudes, as we see (Matthew 8 and Luke 7) that when our Lord concluded this sermon, and they descended from the mount, they were at the city of Capernaum, which is on the north coast. From these Scriptures, we see very clearly that the great mountain, rising in his majesty, immediately back of Capernaum, is really and unmistakably the Mount of Beatitudes. This conclusion satisfies the Scripture at all points — i.e., the location of the mountain; the plateau, about midway from the summit down to the sea, where Jesus descended with his apostles; and the city of Capernaum, down on the plain, hard by the sea.
“Seeing the multitudes, He went up into the mountain, and having sat down, His disciples came to Him.” Our Lord, having already this morning done a mighty work of bodily healing and soul saving, retires from the multitude, leaving them on that “level place” — i.e., plateau, on the southern slope of the Mount of Beatitudes, Capernaum and the sea of Galilee being down at the base — retires back into the mountain, where He had spent the preceding night in prayer, organizing the Apostolate about sunrise. Though at the beginning only His disciples came to Him, the multitudes doubtless follow on.
“Opening His mouth, He continued to teach them, saying, Blessed are the poor in spirit, because theirs is the kingdom of the heavens.” Luke: “Lifting up His eyes toward His disciples, He said, Blessed are ye poor, because yours is the kingdom of God.” Here, as uniformly in the Scriptures, “heaven” (E.V.) is “heavens” in the Greek, corroborating the astronomical revelation of many worlds constituting the celestial universe. “Kingdom of heaven” and “kingdom of God” are everywhere precisely synonymous — here, Matthew giving the former, and Luke the latter; simply meaning the Divine government, including all the saints and angels in glory, and the holy people under the reign of grace on the earth. Spiritual poverty stands at the head of these seven wonderful, spiritual Beatitudes, corroborating the uniform teaching of God's Word, setting forth humility as the fundamental and primary grace of the Holy Spirit, without which every other is defective and evanescent. Conviction, superinduced by the straight preaching of the awful Sinai gospel is prerequisite in every substantial work of grace. John Fletcher was once interrogated, “What is the most important Christian grace?” He answered, “Humility.” “What is the next?” His response was, “Humility.” To the third inquiry he gave the same answer. When John Wesley preached the funeral sermon of that good man, he said: “The most saintly man I ever saw lies in that coffin, and I never expect to see another such till I go to glory.” Perfect humility is the corner-stone of all Christian perfection.
“Blessed are they that mourn, because they shall be comforted.” When the Holy Spirit transmits His wonderful light into the deep interior of the sinner's heart, revealing to him his absolute destitution and hopeless bankruptcy, he is inundated with a Bochim of weeping, refusing to eat or sleep; but crying to God out of a broken heart, mourning night and day, despite all efforts to comfort him, till Jesus sends into his troubled breast the infallible Comforter. Hence, you see the logical connection of these two Beatitudes — “poverty of the spirit” preparing the way for the comfort of the Holy Ghost.
“Blessed are the meek, because they shall inherit the earth.” Meekness is a strong, clear case of humility, bringing us down low at the feet of Jesus, there to abide in the bottom of the valley of humiliation, from which we can never fall, as we are already on the bottom, and no place into which to fall. The meek here signifies the genuine humble saints of God in all ages and nations, in whom the Holy Ghost has wrought the glorious work of pride's extermination. Here our Savior flashes out a glorious anticipation of the Millennial Theocracy, when the humble saints of God, who have lived and died in poverty, many of them sealing their faith with their blood, shall be promoted to the thrones and principalities, and, as the subordinates of the glorified Christ, rule the world. We are very sure that the Lord's meek and holy people have not yet inherited this earth. With very little exception, it is in the hands of Satan’s people. The Word of the Lord can not fail. I am living in constant anticipation of the trumpet call, responsive to which the saints, living and dead, will fly up to meet the Lord in the air. (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18.)
“Blessed are they who do hunger and thirst after righteousness, because they shall be filled.” Here we have another beautiful couplet of these Beatitudes; meekness, which is perfect humility, puts us in position to be filled with the Holy Ghost. Are you hungry? Do you not hear the invitation ringing? Your chair is vacant at the table of the Lord, which is groaning beneath the very bounty of heaven, the blessed Master sitting at the head, and saying to all, “Help yourselves,” while the angels are all around you, with smiling solicitations to partake of this and that, and everything sweet, delicious, and nutritious; the fatted calf floating in his gravy, bread enough and to spare, milk and honey flowing, delicious grapes of Eshcol, strawberries, cream, and every edible desirable or conceivable, without money and without price. Are you thirsty? The crystal river of life is flowing at your feet, and Jesus is ready to turn the water into wine.
It is your privilege to eat to gluttony and drink to intoxication. I fear the trouble is, that you do not hunger and thirst. Thirty thousand promises in God's Infallible Word assure you, that heaven is full of salvation, and you have nothing to do but tap the ocean by faith and you will get full. Even now is the auspicious moment for you to eat and drink and be filled.
“Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy.” The merciful man is merciful to everything that has feeling. His heart leaps over the ocean, and breaks with sympathy for the heathen millions, “sitting in the valley and the shadow of death.” He cries to God to make him a blessing to all his neighbors and friends. O how gushingly and genuinely he loves his enemies! He is full of kindness to the horse, cow, hog, sheep, dog, cat, chicken, and every living creature. He longs to do good to everybody and everything. O how he loves the antiholiness people, who fight him so pugnaciously! He does not feel like leaving his Church, where God needs him to show mercy to the unsaved. If they turn him out, he is still the more flooded with loving sympathy and tender mercy, crying out, “Father, forgive them; they know not what they do.” This blessing takes away all your horns, hoofs, claws, sharp teeth, and leaves you harmless as a wasp whose sting has been extracted. These Beatitudes run in couplets: Spiritual poverty puts you down where you can mourn and be comforted.
Meekness is still a deeper humiliation, preparatory for the filling of the Holy Ghost. From the bottom of a deep well, you can look up and see stars at noonday. If you want to see the deep things of God, close your eyes. The blessing of mercy is still progressive in the sphere of humiliation, and a glorious preparatory school for the happy graduation, which follows in the next Beatitude; i.e., a clean heart.
“Blessed are the pure in heart, because they shall see God.” Our Savior has decreed that none shall see the kingdom unless they are “born from above;” and now we hear the irrevocable decree ringing out, “None but the pure in heart shall see God.” The heart is never pure, so long as it contains any malevolent affection; — i.e., pride, vanity, folly, envy, jealousy, revenge, selfishness, bigotry, sectarianism, anger, malice, ambition, avarice, lust, or any other incentive out of harmony with pure love, the character of Jesus, the inspiration of the Holy Ghost, and the will of God. The precious blood of Jesus, applied by the Holy Spirit, through humble faith, preceded and accompanied by complete consecration and obedience to God, is the heavenly elixir for the purification of the heart.
“Blessed are the peacemakers, because they shall be called the children of God.” Things are very apt to be called what they are. The Bible was first written in Hebrew, which is a rigidly significant language, every name having a meaning. Consequently, when Adam, before the black darkness of sin fell on his intellect, looked on the animals which God had created and brought to him, he had no trouble to name them all, not haphazardously, but significantly of their character, by the wonderful intuition of his unfallen intellect looking into the very nature of every animal, diagnosing its constitution, recognizing its character, and calling it just what it was. That mutation is still in the world in a modified state, as a rule calling everything by its right name; i.e., what it is. When you receive a clean heart, you, ex-officio, become a peacemaker; i.e., like a ministering angel, you make peace among all the inmates of your house, not only with one another, but with God, thus rendering your home a little heaven. You become a peacemaker in your community, reconciling alienated friends; rising above partisan strife, whether political or ecclesiastical; shedding a benignant, heavenly influence all around. Is there any serious trouble between neighbors or Church members? You run, lest some one may anticipate you, and take the blessing which God has for the peacemaker, and you may miss it. Religious professions which do not illustrate and verify these Beatitudes are all counterfeit and spurious.
“Blessed are they who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, because theirs is the kingdom of the heavens.” Such is the importance of the blessing of persecution that our Lord here repeats it in a more elaborate form: “Blessed are ye when they may revile you, and persecute you, and say every evil word against you falsely, for My sake. Rejoice, and be exceedingly glad, because great is your reward in the heavens; for thus they persecuted the prophets who were before you.” Luke gives this blessing so grand and beautiful, we give you the full benefit of his testimony: “Blessed are ye when the people may hate you, and when they may turn you out of the Church, despise and cast out your name as evil, for the sake of the Son of man. Rejoice in that day, and leap for joy; for, behold, your reward is great in heaven, for according to these things their fathers were accustomed to do unto the prophets.” The old prophets, like the apostles, suffered a terrible persecution all their lives, many of them sealing their faith with their blood. You wonder why I give you this Scripture from Luke, “Turn you out of the Church.” The word which our Savior used is aphorisosin, and means separate — i.e., separate you from their fellowship; i.e., turn you out of the Church, which was currently customary during all the persecutionary ages, when they burned the heretics, invariably excommunicating them from the Church antecedently to their martyrdom. When they burned Bishops Latimer and Ridley at Smithfield, during the reign of Bloody Mary, the Roman Catholic bishop turned them out of the Church before they took their lives. Much of this excommunication is now going on — a matter of great encouragement to God's true people, because it is a literal fulfillment of our Savior's prophecy. What shall we do amid all these persecutions, excommunications, and everything they dare to undertake? as they certainly would expose God's people to martyrdom now, as in bygone ages, if the civil arm would only enforce ecclesiastical law. Our Savior tells us what we are to do amid all these persecutions, (Luke 6:23), “Rejoice in that day, and leap for joy; for, behold, your reward in heaven is great; for according to these things their fathers were accustomed to do unto the prophets.” Hence, you see, it is no time to put on a long face, turn blue, and complain, “O they have done me so much evil, and even turned me out of the Church.” Do you not know that all your murmuring and complaining grieves the Holy Spirit and pleases the devil, and at the same time shows to the world that your place is down low at the altar, where you are to stay until you get a clean heart? Do you not see here that persecution is a blessing, and actually climaxes the preceding six? If you were sanctified wholly, then persecution would be a blessing to you, and you would rejoice in it. The joy of perfect love can not be quenched out by the devil's cold water. When you get this catalogue of blessings, as you see, culminating in a clean heart, then you will be in fix to obey the Savior, who commands you to rejoice in your persecutions, and leap for joy, even in case that they turn you out of the Church, ignoring you as a heathen or a publican. Rely upon it, this is all true.
These Beatitudes are a glorious and ineffable reality. If you are not sanctified wholly, having a genuine case, in harmony with the Scriptures, wrought by the Holy Ghost, persecution will not be a blessing to you; as it is very likely to upset you, provoke you to commit sin, and bring you under condemnation. While, if you really have a clean heart, filled with the Holy Ghost, you will stand on an eminence, not only above, but out of reach of persecution, so that you will actually get happy, rejoice and leap for joy, amid the persecutions; not that you rejoice over the persecution, but your eye is on that great reward in heaven, the persecution serving as an exceedingly valuable test, throwing wide open the door through which God pours a flood of blessed assurance, which lifts you above all the raging storms and black tornadoes which earth and hell combined can raise against you. Remember, the blackest clouds are white as snow on the upper side, where the sun is shining in his beauty. These seven Beatitudes are the sapphire steps of Jacob's ladder, by which you climb above every storm, tread the bright plateaus of the Delectable Mountains, where the Sun of righteousness eternally shines in His undimmed glory, and the fadeless flowers of Paradise emit their heavenly fragrance on celestial airs, their fadeless tints and hues flashing in the gorgeous glory of the Sun that never sets.
“Moreover, woe unto you rich people, because you exhaust your consolation;” not, as E.V., “have your consolation,” as in that case it would read echete, whereas we have apechete, which means exhaust. How is this? Why the rich, worldly people have only the consolation of this world, which is fleeting and transitory. Therefore they exhaust their happiness in this life — i.e., use it all up and have none left for eternity.
“Woe unto you who have been filled, because you shall hunger.” Still speaking of these rich, worldly, unsaved people, who have been filled — i.e., satisfied with the bounty of this world, which they must quickly leave, and go away to hunger through all eternity. “Woe unto you who laugh now, because you shall weep and mourn.” It is impossible to live for this world and for heaven at the same time, as they are utterly out of harmony, either with other. Here is the turning-point in human destiny.
We are all brought face to face with the issue: Take this world or heaven.
“Woe unto you when all the people may speak well of you; according to these things their fathers were accustomed to do unto the false prophets.” During an Annual Conference, a petition was brought before the Cabinet, requesting them to send a preacher who would please, not only the Methodists, but other denominations and the outsiders, specifying, “We want a well-rounded man.” The presiding bishop observed, “There is but one round figure, and that is zero, all the rest having sharp corners; so go and tell them I haven't got the man. But be of good comfort; for they can pick him up anywhere, as there are plenty of them.” It is a significant fact that the climacteric effort is made in pulpit and pew to please everybody, which is inevitably selfcondemnatory, at the same time illustrating their unhappy identity with the false prophets, and confirming the sad conclusion that we live in an age of fallen Churches and false prophets; also warranting the conclusion that the false prophets of the old dispensation were the popular preachers, beloved and applauded by the people, who believed them to be orthodox, genuine, and true, while they persecuted Elijah, Elisha, John the Baptist, and all the glorious prophetical procession from righteous Abel down to the present day.
Luke 6:37; Matthew 7:1. “Criticize not, in order that you may not be criticized; for with whatsoever criticism you criticize, you shall be criticized; and with whatsoever measure ye measure, it shall be measured unto you.” Luke says: “Criticize not, and ye can not be criticized; condemn not, and ye can not be condemned.” Lord, help us to profit by these plain, practical truths and solemn warnings! The critic's cap, manufactured in hell and dispensed by the devil, is not at all becoming a saint of the Lord. Loke says if you do not criticize others you can not be criticized. Well, it has been said that curses, like chickens, will come home to roost. If you criticize no one, you will find no trouble by the criticism of others; if they undertake it, it will prove a failure, rebounding on their own heads. A critical spirit is incompatible with deep piety, and if indulged will sap the foundation of a Christian experience, and retrogress sweet, perfect love back into sour godliness, which is Satan's counterfeit holiness. Lord, save us from a critical and condemnatory disposition!
Luke 6:38. “Forgive, and you shall be forgiven; give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, heaped up, shaken together, running over, will they give into your bosom. For with the same measure you measure, it shall be measured unto you.” This day in Jerusalem all travelers are astonished at the striking fulfillment of this commandment. Go through the bazaars, and you will see them fill the vessel, shake it down, and run it over. The old Quaker, measuring his wheat and doing just as Jesus commanded, filling, shaking down, and running over, when asked why he gave so bountiful measure, said: “I never can travel this road any more; so I am determined to make everything right as I go along this time.”
“And He spoke a parable to them, Whether is the blind able to lead the blind? Will they not both fall into the ditch?” No wonder our Savior forbade His own apostles to go out preaching the gospel until they had received the sanctifying baptism of the Holy Ghost and fire. The departure of the Church from that Divine precept has filled the world with blind leaders. The only available remedy in this case is the sanctification of the ministry and the official members.
OUR SAVIOR’S STEWARD OF PERFECTION
“The disciple is not above his Teacher; but every one who has been made perfect shall be like his Teacher.” Jesus is the only unfallen Son of humanity. Perfection is from facio, “to make,” and per, “complete.” Hence it means “made complete.” Jesus, who was always free from depravity, is our only Paragon. Now, He says that “every disciple who has been made perfect shall be as his Teacher.” When He eliminates original sin out of the heart in the glorious work of entire sanctification, in so doing He makes us perfect, and in that respect like Himself; not that we have the perfection of His Divinity, which is absolute and peculiar to God only, but when we get rid of all sin, we have the perfection of His humanity, with the exception of our infirmities, which are the after-effects of sin, and will inhere so long as we are in these mortal tenements, but which He never had, from the simple fact that He was not a personal participant in the fall.
INFIRMITY & INBRED SIN
“Why do you see the mote which is in the eye of your brother, and recognize not the beam which is in your own eye? Or how are you able to say to your brother, Brother, permit me, I will cast out the mote which is in thine eye, thyself considering not the beam which is in thine own eye? Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam from thine own eye, and then thou shah see clearly to cast out the mote which is in the eye of thy brother.” Mote here symbolizes infirmity, which does not bring any one under condemnation, just as the mote will never seriously injure the eye, much less put it out; while the beam in the eye, if not removed, would destroy it quickly. Now the beam symbolizes inbred sin, a big thing in the heart which will ruin you, world without end, if you don't have it taken away; while you can go right on to the end of life with infirmities, as it is the province of glorification, which you receive when soul and body part, to take that all away, and let you fly into heaven with a shout. So we find people all around criticizing little things, which are of no serious moment, and never would keep anybody out of heaven, while they themselves have evil tempers, unholy passions, and worldly greed, and perhaps other phases of inbred sin, pride. vanity, lust, envy, jealousy, prejudice, bigotry, which they must get rid of if they ever pass through the pearly portal.
DO NOT WASTE YOUR AMMUNITION
“Give not that which is holy to the dogs, neither cast your pearls before the swine; lest they may trample them under their feet, and, turning, tear you to pieces.”
The dog and the hog are prominent in the Bible as unclean animals, symbolic of spiritual impurity; i.e., carnality. This is a profitable warning, much needed, lest in our enthusiasm we preach holiness to carnal people who are utterly incompetent to appreciate it. Therefore it only makes them mad, so they reject us with contempt, and want to do us violence. Much of the Lord's ammunition is thus wasted on dead game. As hogs can not eat gold coins and diamonds, but will only get mad because we did not give them corn, so carnal people can not receive the pure gold of holiness and the dazzling pearls of Christian perfection. Like hogs and dogs, they run over them with contempt, trampling them in the mud, get angry, blaspheme, and persecute. Then, what should we preach to the carnal, worldly Churches? Preach Sinai. They do not need sanctification, and can not receive it in their present attitude. They need conviction. They must see an open hell before they will give up their pride, fall down in the dust, and cry for mercy. So long as you preach sanctification to them, you recognize their justification, perpetuate their awful delusion, under which they are fast going down to hell. They need the terrors of the law, the doom of the lost, and the duration of eternity held up before them till they get their eyes open, see their awful condition, and cry for mercy.
THE HOLY SPIRIT CLIMAXES ALL BLESSINGS
“Ask, and it shall be given unto you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you. What man is there of you whom his son may ask bread, whether would he give him a stone? If he may ask a, fish, whether will he give him a serpent? If then ye, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father, who is in the heavens, give good things to them asking Him?” God never gives us anything useless — e.g., a stone; nor any thing injurious — e.g., a serpent. This explains the reason why so frequently our petitions are not answered. How many pray for riches, which, if granted, would prove a mill-stone round their necks, dragging them down to hell! The child cries for the razor. The father, in love, withholds it, and lets it cry on. Our Savior's illustration, contrasting us fallen beings with our evil natures, and still so delighted to give good gifts to our children, with the pure and unadulterated parental affection of our loving Heavenly Father, who is certainly infinitely more anxious to bestow on His children all things appertaining to their good in this world and that which is to come. As it is impossible for Him to be unkind, do wrong, or even make a mistake, such should be our perfect confidence in His Fatherly kindness and our unconditioned resignation to His will, that we would offer our petitions and leave the answer with Him, at His own discretion, to answer them at His own time and in His own way. We should be so lost in His will that our perfect rest will not be affected in case that He withholdeth the answer altogether, so far as we know.
THE LAW OF RECIPROCITY
“Therefore all things, so many as you may wish that men may do unto you, do ye even so unto them; for this is the law and the prophets.” Here you see that the gospel dispensation, instead of abrogating the law and the prophets, indorses, adopts, and perpetuates them, as a substratum of that universal kingdom which the apostles were commanded to preach to all nations, girdling the globe with salvation and holiness to the Lord, and thus bringing the blessings of the Old Testament Theocracy, which was restricted to the Jews, into every home, blessing every family on the earth with the hallowed truth, glorious light, and heavenly benignity which reigned in the homes of the patriarchs and prophets, thus gathering all nations into one universal fraternity, making every man beneath the skies your neighbor, brother, friend, doing away with all animosities, alienations, and conflicts obliterating the spirit of belligerence from the face of the earth, consolidating Father Adam's family in one universal brotherhood.
THE GATE & THE WAY
“Enter in through the narrow gate; because wide is the gate and broad is the way that leadeth to destruction, and many there are going in through it. Because narrow is the gate and contracted the way which leadeth into life, and few there are finding it.”
“Broad is the road that leads to death, And thousands walk together there; while wisdom shows a narrow path, With here and there a traveler.”
This gate stands at the hither terminus of the King's highway of holiness which leads up to heaven. The gate is so narrow and difficult of entrance that nothing but the immortal soul can make the ingress; all sin, the pomp, pageantry, pride, riches, emoluments, and aggrandizement of the world, must be left behind. This is the reason why so few pass through the narrow gate of regeneration. They hold to many things they can not take with them. Tethlimmene, which qualifies the way we must all travel to heaven, is a perfect passive participle, from thlibo, “to contract,” “squeeze together;” hence it means having been compressed, drawn together, and rendered very narrow and difficult of passage, illustrating the utter impossibility for an encumbered traveler to pass over it. While we are here assured that very few ever find the narrow way, how sad to know that so many of those few, having found it, fail to walk in it to the end! Some are quickly deflected; others hold on a good while, and are then derailed; while not a few comparatively, having long walked in the way, are sidetracked by the enemy; while others have gone on till the bright hills of glory are actually visible, by the eye of faith, from the summits of the Delectable Mountains, and even after this grand proficiency in the Divine life, make shipwreck.
“Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep's clothing, and within are rapacious wolves. By their fruits ye shall know them. Do they gather the grape bunch from thorns or figs from brambles? So every good tree produces beautiful fruits, and the corrupt tree produces evil fruits. The good tree is not able to produce evil fruits, neither does a corrupt tree produce beautiful fruits. Every tree not producing good fruit is hewn down and cast into the fire. Therefore by their fruits ye shall know them.” Luke: “For out of the abundance of the heart, his mouth speaketh.” This beautiful paragraph is our Savior's exegesis of the gate and the way which lead to death. While the narrow way is but an air-line, narrow as to principle, but broad as to capacity, amply capacious for all the people in the world to walk along it abreast till they enter the pearly gate of the New Jerusalem, the broad way is wide as the world, permitting you to go any way you please except the way of holiness, conferring on you the largest liberty to take your choice among the three hundred and sixty points of the mariner’s compass, and go any way you will. You observe this terrible warning to “beware of false prophets.” Do you see the connection? It is plain and simple. The false prophet is the counterfeit preacher. How are we to know him? By the differentia which Jesus here specifies: a. He broadens the way; i.e., gives his people large liberties, so they can commend him as a “high-toned, level-headed, broad-minded, cultured gentleman.” Therefore he is popular, and they will keep him a long time. Now do not forget that this follows as a legitimate sequence that the false prophet does not preach this narrow gate and contracted way, so difficult to find and walk in, but he is liberal-minded, and preaches a broad-gauge gospel. b. You are to know him by his fruit. You see where the E.V. reads “good fruits,” you have “beautiful fruit,” the literal translation of the Savior's word. What does it mean? Why, the beauty of holiness; and as Luke says, “Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh,” the true prophet not only exhibits the beauty of holiness, but he is full of it. Whenever he opens his mouth, it pours out.
“Having been made free from sin, we have our fruit unto sanctification, and the end everlasting life.” (Romans 6:22.)
Regeneration is the flower, and sanctification the fruit. Now what is the evil fruit against which our Savior warns us? It is anything and everything except holiness.
“Not every one saying to Me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of the heavens; but the one doing the will of My Father who is in the heavens. Many will say to Me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Thy name, and in Thy name cast out demons, and in Thy name done many mighty works? And I will confess unto them, That I never knew you; depart from Me, ye who work iniquity.” This paragraph describes the false prophets above, in the judgment-day, coming up with their grand and glowing reports of demons cast out — i.e., many souls converted; and many mighty works — i.e., great, fine churches built, powerful sermons preached, and wonderful official triumphs. But do you not see our Savior rejects them altogether? The truth of the matter is, they have never been His preachers at all. The devil, robed as an angel of light, played off on them in the beginning, calling and sending them. So they have been preaching Satan's counterfeit gospel all their lives, counting many converts and doing many mighty works, helping the devil to delude the people and lead them to hell in solid columns. What is the remedy for these awful troubles in the end? Be sure you pass the narrow gate, so difficult of entrance that it will try your flint and steel, and test your stamina to the very bottom. Then be sure that you travel the self-denial way of “holiness to the Lord.”
THE TRUE FOUNDATION
Luke 6:47. “Every one coming to Me, and hearing My words, and doing them, I will show you to whom he is like. He is like unto a man building his house, who dug down, and went deep, and laid the foundation on the rock; and the storm coming, the river beat against that house, and was not able to shake it; for it had been founded upon the rock. But the one hearing and not doing is like unto a man who built his house on the ground, without foundation, against which the river dashed, and immediately it fell, and great was the ruin of that house.” With your mind on the wooden houses all around you, this seems a little defective; as a swelling river, beating against an American house, would knock it down even if it were built on a rock. In the Holy Land all the houses are stone, cemented from top to bottom, and consolidated, so it would stand indefinitely amid floods and storms, if the foundation did not give way. In the metaphoric language of the Bible, “high” and “deep” have the same meaning, really the same word stands for both. Sanctification is a high experience, and it is equally true that it is a deep experience. Luke here says that the man “digs down;” there is justification. Then he “goes deep;” that is sanctification. The result of all his laborious excavations is, that he lays the foundation on the rock. Petra, “rock,” is the very word which our Savior applies to Himself. (Matthew 16:18)
This word really means the great strata underlying the whole surface of the globe. Consequently the foundation can never give way, and the solid stone edifice stands indefinitely. You see the foolish man, in His contrast, did not go down to the rock bottom of the earth, but built his house on the ground. Consequently the floods and storms soon undermined it; so it fell, a hopeless ruin. Probably this man built a very nice edifice, as to external appearance, comparing well with his neighbor, who did so much work beneath the surface and out of sight. The world abounds in beautiful and showy Christian characters, which really and experimentally have no Christ. Storms are coming; death, hell, and eternity will bring awful issues, which must be met.
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Godbey, William. "Commentary on Luke 6". "William Godbey's Commentary on the New Testament". https://www.studylight.org/
the Second Week after Epiphany