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HE SENDS OUT THE TWELVE
Matthew 9:37-38 . “Then He says to His disciples, The harvest truly is great, but the laborers are few; therefore pray the Lord of the harvest, in order that He may send out the laborers into His harvest.” Our Lord, seeing the awful state of the Jewish Church, destitute of competent spiritual guides, going miserably into eternal ruin, and consequently calls on all of His disciples to unite in a prayer to God to send out more laborers into the harvest. This prayer ascends up to Heaven, and receives a speedy answer, so that, instead of a single evangelistic force, He determines to multiply seven-fold, sending out the twelve apostles, two by two, to scour the whole country of Galilee and Judea, moving with all possible expedition, and preaching the gospel in every city and village. O how inconceivably urgent a similar policy this day! N.B. The time has not yet arrived to unfurl the gospel banner to the Gentile world. Hence, all of this evangelistic movement was confined to the Jews; i.e., in the Churches, preaching in the synagogues, as well as to the multitudes in the open air.
Matthew 10:1-42 ; Mark 6:7-13 ; & Luke 9:1-6 . Matthew: “And calling His twelve disciples, He gave them power over unclean spirits, so as to cast them out, and heal every disease and every malady. Luke says, “He sent them forth to preach the kingdom of God and to heal the sick.” The kingdom of God, or kingdom of heaven, is the Divine government, which prevails among the angels and redeemed spirits throughout all celestial worlds; hell having none of it, and earth a mixture some, citizens of God’s kingdom; others, the denizens of Satan’s pandemonium.
Matthew “Jesus sent forth these twelve, commanding them, saying, Go not into way of the heathens nor enter ye into a city of the Samaritans; but go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” As the Jews were the organized Church of God, and the custodian’s of the Divine Oracles, God’s plan was first to give them the gospel, so they might turn evangelists, and carry it to the ends of the earth. For a similar reason, we should now begin with the Churches, and get all of them saved who will receive the living Word, and then go to the world. You see our Savior repeatedly mentions “the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” Do you not know that this included the rank and the of the ministry and membership? There were a few honorable exceptions, like Simeon, Anna, Zacharias, Elizabeth, and the apostles. The Divine economy originally contemplated the Jewish Church en masse receiving Christ, and enjoying the immortal honor of heralding Him to the world. This they missed, both preachers and people, except the elect few. In a similar manner, it is the glorious privilege of the whole Church to receive Christ at His second coming; but amid the sad apostasy of the latter days (2 Thessalonians 2:0), we see that only the elect few will enjoy this transcendent glory. “Going, preach, saying, That the kingdom of the heavens draweth nigh.” This was significantly true, because they were the heralds of the kingdom, enjoying citizenship in the same, and commending it to all others. “Heal the sick, raise the dead.” We have a number of instances, in the ministries of Paul and Peter, of healing the sick; and at Joppa, Peter actually raised Dorcas from the dead. Her tomb was pointed out to me when I was there a few days ago. “Cast out demons. Freely you have received, freely give.” Paul at Philippi ejected the fortune-telling demon from a damsel. The genuine, regular work of the Holy Ghost in the gospel dispensation, saving and sanctifying souls, is constantly accompanied by demoniacal ejectment and bodily healing. “Possess neither gold nor silver, nor copper in your girdles;” i.e., do not wait and prodigalize God’s precious time and opportunity in order to get money of any kind, as God can feed and clothe you as well out in the evangelistic field as at home. Have faith in Him to feed you like the birds and clothe you like the lilies. “Nor valise, nor two coats, nor sandals, nor staff; for the laborer is worthy of his food.” Hence, you see, we are to wait for nothing, but go as we are, taking what we have, and trusting God for everything.
“Into whatsoever city or village you enter, inquire who in it is worthy; and abide there until you may depart.” This is not an interdiction of house-to- house preaching; but their time was short, and the work too great to admit of it. Hence they are commanded to find some place with God’s elect, and thence radiate out everywhere, preaching the Word, till they traverse the field. “And going into a house, salute it. And if the house may be worthy, let your peace come upon it; but if it may be unworthy, let your peace return unto you.” Salvation is optionary, and never goes begging. God is infinitely rich, and can get along without any of us. “Whosoever may not receive you, nor hear your words, going out from that house or city, shake off the dust from your feet. Truly, I say unto you, It shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah in the day of judgment than for that city.” When we go to a people and offer them the gospel, we have done our part, and will be rewarded in eternity as if they had received it. When they reject our message, they relieve us, and assume the responsibility of their own damnation. Sodom and Gomorrah were Gentile cities, in the beautiful, rich, and productive Vale of Sidim, which were destroyed for their wickedness, the very site they occupied being now covered by the Dead Sea. These heathen cities never had the opportunities of the Jews and the Christians. Consequently the latter, who reject the gospel, will sustain a more grievous responsibility in the judgment-day, and sink to a more terrible doom in the world of woe, than the people of Sodom and Gomorrah, with all their dark vices.
“Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves; be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves.” The serpent is the symbol of Satan, who has a wonderful intelligence, shrewdness, and cunning; while the dove is the symbol of the Holy Ghost, full of innocent, sweet, regenerating, and sanctifying love, and ready to pour it out into every penitent, believing heart. “Harmless” is akeraioi, from akeranumi, from a, “not,” keranumi, “to mix.” Hence the word means unmixed, the strongest statement of entire sanctification. Sinners are full of unmixed evil; holy, sanctified saints are full of unmixed good; while unsanctified Christians have a mixed experience, the pure love of God in a heart which is not free from depravity, but needs the second work of grace to eliminate it all away, leaving nothing but the pure love of God to fill the sanctified heart. We see from this commandment that, while we are to be innocent, holy, and faithful, trusting God for everything necessary to soul and body, we are still to carry with us the good, common sense with which we are born, and to utilize all the intelligence God gives us, “watching” lest we enter into temptation. Ministerial failures are constantly being made, simply because people do not use their common sense. “Beware of men; for they will deliver you up unto the Sanhedrins, and scourge you in their synagogues.” You see how they arrested, beat, and imprisoned Paul and Silas. “And you shall be led before governors and kings, for My name’s sake, for a testimony to them and the Gentiles.” Whereas the former clause specifies Jewish punishments and persecutions, this gives those they will encounter among the Gentiles; e.g., Paul, at Paphos, on the Isle of Cyprus, testified, when arraigned before Sergius Paulus, and won him; but when, in a similar manner, at the tribunal of Felix, another Roman proconsul, at Caesarea, he testified; but Felix rejected.
“But when they may deliver you up, do not he solicitous, how or what you may speak, for it will be given to you in that hour what you shall say; for it is not you speaking, but the Spirit of your Father who is speaking in you.” Wonderful has been the testimony and preaching of the martyrs, in all ages, when brought face to face with the burning fagot or the blood-thirsty lion. This Scripture has been most wonderfully verified, the heathen historian’s of the first three centuries certifying that the testimony of the dying martyrs often won their own murderers, so that they embrace the Christian religion, likewise sealing their faith with their blood. “Brother will deliver up brother to death, and father the child; and the children will rise up against the parents, and put them to death.” It has been estimated that two hundred millions of martyrs, during the Pagan and Papal ages, have died for Jesus. You can readily see how families would all be divided during those times of peril and bloodshed, the persecutors requiring them to testify against each other, and even participate in their martyrdom, as the only way of escape from a similar fate. “You shall be hated by all men for My name’s sake; but he that endureth to the end, the same shall be saved.” Those apostles, to whom He gave this commission and appended these stringent liabilities, all proved true to the end, except poor Judas. Matthew suffering martyrdom in Ethiopia; Mark, in Egypt; Luke, in Greece; James the Elder, the first of all, beheaded by Herod in Jerusalem; and James the Less, at a later date, hurled from a pinnacle of the temple; Matthias, the successor of Judas, suffered martyrdom in Abyssinia; Thomas, in India; Jude, in Tartary; Andrew, in Armenia; Bartholomew, in Phrygia; Philip, at Heliopous, in Syria; Paul and Peter, at Rome; and John, miraculously delivered from martyrdom in the caldron of boiling oil at Rome, and, as we believe, finally translated into heaven without seeing death.
“And when they may persecute you in this city, fly into another.” Thus you see, the people of God who bear this message of love and grace are not to use carnal weapons in self-defense, but run away, trusting the Lord for another open door. “For truly, I say unto you, That you may not complete the cities of Israel, till the Son of man may come.” You must remember, the immediate commission of these apostles, under which they are now going out, is restricted to the Jews, that restriction being removed when our Lord ascended, and the Holy Ghost fell on them, qualifying them for the conquest of the world. They are only gone out about three months in these duets, traversing the territory of Israel, till they return to the Lord, and accompanied Him the ensuing year of His ministry. N.B. The Mount of Transfiguration was really a prelude of the Lord’s second and glorious coming. This they actually witnessed in a few months from that date, thus verifying this mysterious declaration, as they had not yet gone over all the cities of Israel till the Son of man did actually come in adumbration on the Mount of Transfiguration, thus preliminarily revealing to them His second and glorious coming.
“The disciple is not above his teacher nor the servant above his lord.” Where we have “Master” so frequently in E.V., the word didaskalos, the noun, from didasko, to teach, hence it literally means a teacher. Jesus is the world’s Great Teacher, without whom the black darkness of the pandemonium would envelop it. “It is sufficient for the disciple that he may be as his teacher, and the servant as his lord. If they called the landlord Beelzebub, how much more the inmates of his house?” Our Savior here reveals to all who would be His witnesses, and herald His truth to a dying world, that we must be ready for any fate and disappointed at nothing.
“My rest is in heaven, My home is not here; Then why should I murmur at trials severe?
Come trouble, come sorrow; The worst that can come, Will shorten my journey, and hasten me home.”
Our Teacher and Lord, our great Exemplar, was homeless, destitute, and the world combined against Him, not even permitting Him to live on the earth which He had created. If we can riot accept the situation, and walk in His footprints, we can not be His disciples.
“Therefore be not afraid of them. For nothing has been hidden which shall not be revealed, and secret which shall not be known.” This follows as a logical sequence from the preceding affirmation in reference to the grave, criminal, and even diabolical affirmations which have invariably been adduced against the people of God. The Roman historians, Seutonius, Pliny, and Sallust, have all chronicled the gravest sins and darkest crimes against the Christians during the Martyr Ages of the heathen empire, thus apologizing for the bloody persecutionary edicts issued against them by the emperors. Of course, these historians only recorded hearsay, not claiming ocular testimony in the case. They said of Jesus, constantly, “He hath a demon,” “He is gone mad,” and “He is beside Himself.” They finally killed Him in the most disgraceful method, even hanging Him up between two criminals, notorious for robbery and murder. Similar accusations have been arrayed against the martyrs of all ages, thus signally verifying these prophecies of our Savior. Millions of people have been put to death, under gravest accusations, who, in the judgment-day, will shine like angels, while their accusers and persecutors, who stood at the head of the Church, will be calling for rocks and mountains to fall on them, and hide them from the face of Him that sitteth upon the throne. While, of course, the primary application of our Lord’s affirmation as to the revealment of all secrets is the ultimate and eternal vindication of His saints, it certainly follows that we should, in this life, become perfectly lucid and transparent to all illuminated eyes, so they can actually look through us, and read the hieroglyphics the Spirit has written on the tablets of our hearts, thus sweeping away the oath-bound secrecy of lodgery in all its forms and phases. “What I say to you in the darkness, speak ye in the light; and what ye hear in the ear, proclaim ye upon the house-tops.” This is a confirmation of the preceding, showing up the thorough transparency of God’s true saints. When filled with the Holy Ghost, secrecy evanesces.
“Be not afraid of those who kill the body, and are not able to kill the soul; but rather fear him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.” The sainted mother, by her godly teaching, baptized with loving tears and fired with the prayer of heavenly inspiration, should put the hell-scare on her infant so thorough that the tomfoolery and superficialism of the popular religion, which brings a polar iceberg into the Church to melt in hell-fire, can never be able to obliterate; but an early conversion will only add expedition to the race-horse speed with which you are running from an open hell and an unchained devil, and sanctification give you eaglewings to expedite the velocity of your precipitate flight from the awful, deep-toned thunders of that quenchless damnation which awaits all who, by the intrigues of men and devils, shall fall below the Bible standard of “holiness to the Lord.” (Hebrews 12:14.) “Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing? and one of them shall not fall to the ground without your Father; indeed, all the hairs of your head are numbered.” The infinite minutiae of the Divine cognizance, absolutely passing by nothing, but taking in everything indiscriminately, are here mentioned as a constant and potent inspiration to us all, peremptorily to settle matters for judgment and eternity by actually getting rid of the devil and everything belonging to him, in the glorious experience of entire sanctification and the constant indwelling of the Holy Spirit, as nothing short of this can actually settle that awful problem, whose solution is the “destruction of soul and body in hell.” “Therefore be not afraid; for you are of more value than many sparrows.” “Perfect love casts out fear.” Consequently the poorest and weakest saint, if true to God, can shout perennial victory from the mouth of hell to the gate of glory.
“Therefore, every one who shall confess Me before the people, I will confess him in the presence of My Father who is in heaven; but whosoever may deny Me in the presence of the people, I will also deny him in the presence of My Father who is in the heavens.” O what a potent inspiration to Christian testimony, semper et bique, “always and everywhere!” The awful delinquency in this duty and depreciation of this glorious privilege, thus turning the Churches into graveyards instead of battle-fields, is the “Ichabod” superscribed on the walls of modern Churchism. In the face of these glorious promises on the one side, and terrific denunciations on the other, voiceless pews are an incontestable proclamation of dead Churches. “Do not consider that I came to send peace on the earth; I came not to send peace, but a sword.” The Bible abounds in riddles and enigmas, inexplicable to the carnal mind. Jesus is called the Prince of Peace, and at the same time described as a mounted military General, leading His embattled host into deadly conflict, deluging the world with blood, and heaping it with mountains of the slain. Both of these characteristics are literally true. The peace which He gives only follows a bloody war with sin and the devil, fought under the black flag, which means victory or death. The sword in this passage is the formidable weapon wielded by the Holy Ghost in the extermination of sin and the decapitation of Adam the First
“For I came to divide a man against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law; and the enemies of a man shall be the inmates of his own house.” All this is the normal effect accompanying a true work of salvation; Satan’s grip on the people being so tight that he is certain to hold enough to represent him in every family, unless literal miracles of grace flood the home with heavenly conquest and stampede the devils down to hell. Bogus, popular religion makes no disturbance in families and communities, from the simple fact that the devil is not fool enough to waste his ammunition on dead game, as there are plenty of live people to shoot at. Whenever the holiness movement gets so it does not arouse the devil in dead Churches and stir up hell in debauched communities, you may go and write “Ichabod” on its banner, and prepare its winding sheet as quickly as possible, to bury it speedily, before the stench of a putrifying carcass disseminates pestilential malaria far and wide. “He that loveth father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me; he that loveth son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me; and whosoever does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me.” Here we see illustrated the absolute sine qua non confronting every aspirant to discipleship and heaven; i.e., the utter subordination of consanguinity, affinity, home, friends, and earthly possessions to the great Captain of our salvation. This is the fatal maelstrom into which many a bark has foundered.
“The one having found his soul, shall loose it; the one having lost his soul for My sake, shall find it.” The E.V. here has “life,” instead of soul. The word used by our Savior is not zoe, “life,” but psyche, the regular word for soul. In every instance in the New Testament, where the E.V. has “soul,” the Greek is psyche. Hence I give it just as Jesus said it. While King James’s translators were scholarly theologians, they were not eminent for spirituality, but much on par with the English clergy. I do not think they saw down into the profound depths of our Savior’s meaning in this passage. There never was but one creation of the human race. We were all created in Adam seminally. Hence, in the fall, we all fell with Adam, forfeiting the Divine and receiving the Satanic or carnal mind. James speaks of the “double-soul man.” (James 1:4; James 4:8.) The sinner has but one mind, and that is bad. The wholly sanctified has but one mind, and that is good; while the unsanctified Christian is James’s double-minded man, having the carnal mind in subjugated state, and the mind of Christ, received in regeneration, ruling in his heart and life, but must have the carnal mind sanctified away before he can go to heaven. Psyche, “soul,” is the word used by James. The reason why so few get saved is because they are not willing to travel the death route to heaven. Millions, intimidated by the grim monster, lifting up the battle-ax to decapitate Adam the First, turn away, and travel some other road, which does not require so much self- denial. We are born into the world with an evil soul, which must die, or hell is our doom. Hence this awful test: Unless you are brave enough to die, and take chances for life beyond the black river, your heavenly hope is Satan’s ignis tatuus,
“whose delusive ray Glows but to betray.”
“He that receiveth you receiveth Me; he that receiveth Me, receiveth Him that sent Me.” Christ bridges the chasm between God and man. Hence the wonderful feasibility of the redemptive scheme. He sends out His saved people to save others. The lost millions of earth have nothing to do but receive us, with our messages of truth and holiness, and in so doing they receive Christ; i.e., the loving, sympathizing Brother, Jesus. But He is not only man, but God. Therefore when the condescending, tender-hearted Nazarene takes you by the hand, behold! the hand of the Omnipotent grips you, lifting you from the lowest hell to the highest heaven. “He that receiveth a prophet in the name of a prophet, shall receive a prophet’s reward; he that receiveth a righteous man in the name of a righteous man, shall receive a righteous man’s reward.” O what a thrilling incentive to wide-open door and generous hospitality, ever ready, with joyful enthusiasm, to receive the saints and prophets, whom Jesus sends forth into this dark world to rescue the perishing and save the lost! The reward of God’s prophets and righteous people what is it? None other than a crown of life and a home in heaven. The departure of hospitality from the Church is the death-knell now ringing from ocean to ocean, pealing out the mournful funeral of the great Protestant denominations.
“Whosoever may only give one of these little ones a cup of cold water to drink in the name of the disciple, truly, I say unto you, Can not lose his reward.” We must remember that God sets great store on little things, appreciating the giver rather than the gift. How these promises should inspire us all to lend a helping hand in the expedition of every gospel pilgrim on his way, publishing salvation to the ends of the earth! “And it came to pass when Jesus finished commanding His twelve disciples, He departed thence to teach and to preach in all the cities.” The preceding discourse, delivered by our Savior to His twelve apostles, when He sent them out, two by two, to traverse all Israel with the uttermost expedition, preaching the gospel of the kingdom, should receive the especial and diligent study of all who read these pages. O that He may so pour on you the Holy Ghost, meanwhile, that you may hear His interior voice calling you into the evangelistic field! I assure you, this is the grand incentive inspiring the humble writer of the Commentaries, praying incessantly that all the readers may catch the heavenly flame, respond to the loving call, and enter the gospel-field unhesitatingly.
THE MINISTRY OF THE TWELVE
Mark 6:12-13 . “And having gone out, they continued to preach that they must repent; they continued to cast out many demons; they continued to anoint many sick people with oil, and heal them.” Luke 9:6 : “And going forth, they continued to go throughout the villages, everywhere preaching the gospel and healing” (the sick). This is all we have on record appertaining to the ministry of the Twelve, while separate from Jesus, pursuant to the above commission; and this, you observe, is given by Mark and Luke, who were not apostles at that time. We hear nothing of Mark till Paul’s first evangelistic tour, about nine years subsequently to this transaction, when he went out as a helper of Paul and Barnabas, doubtless quite young and inexperienced, as his heart failed him in Pamphylia, so that, much to the disgust of Paul and doubtless the grief of his uncle Barnabas, he left the work and returned to Jerusalem; Barnabas, loath to give up his nephew, endeavoring to restore him to the evangelistic work and take him out on their second tour; but Paul positively refusing, they separated, thus organizing two evangelistic forces, Barnabas taking Mark, and Paul taking Silas, Luke, and Timothy. If Mark was present at the time of this commission, he was quite a youth, not coming into history till about nine years later. As Luke was a citizen of Antioch, when we first hear of him as a convert under the ministry of Paul and Barnabas, about ten years subsequently, it is hardly probable that he was present; yet he might have been, as the Jews were coming from all Gentile countries, magnetized by the preaching and miracles of Jesus. Why do not Matthew and John give us an account of this ministry? In their histories they are simply writing up the life and ministry of Jesus. They were both members of the apostleship at that time, and went out under this commission to preach the gospel to the Jews. From the chronological data we can pick up, the presumption is that they were gone about three months. Six parties of them, moving with great expedition over a region of country about the size of New England, would make great progress in a dozen weeks.
Here is a vacuum in the history of our Lord’s life and ministry. Matthew and John were absent; Luke and Mark had not yet become disciples, so far as our knowledge extends; the latter yet in his home in Jerusalem, and the former, off in Antioch, studying medicine. Luke, about A.D. 42, became the evangelistic helper and amanuensis of Paul, writing for him to the end of his life. Though the Gospel of Luke was dictated by Paul, we must remember that he never came to Palestine during the ministry of Jesus; having been educated at Jerusalem, but returned to Tarsus before the ministry of John the Baptist. It is believed that Mark wrote his Gospel at Rome, about thirty years after the ascension of our Lord, as dictated by Peter, who speaks of him very kindly, calling him his son. (1 Peter 5:13.) We find from the above Scriptures that the Twelve, during their absence from Jesus, were true and faithful, giving the trumpet no uncertain sound, but laying a constant, burning emphasis on repentance, which is fundamental in the gracious economy, not only laying the bottom rock of the experimental edifice, but gilding the topmost pinnacle; as metanoia, “repentance,” is from meta, “change,” and nous, “the mind.” Hence it means a change of minds; i.e., get rid of the carnal mind, and receive the whole mind of Christ, which really comprehends the entire plan of salvation. The trouble with dead Churches is the absence of evangelical repentance. We find these Twelve were constantly casting out demons i.e., getting people converted and healing the sick, not forgetting the anointing with olive-oil, which everywhere abounds in that country, and is a constant symbol of the Holy Ghost.
Matthew 14:1-12 ; Mark 6:14-29 ; and Luke 9:7-9
MARTYRDOM OF JOHN THE BAPTIST
Matthew 14:1-12 ; Mark 6:14-29 ; and Luke 9:7-9 . While the biography of Jesus is intimated by these inspired historians during the period of their absence, we find three of them favoring us with the record of the melancholy and apparently premature death of John the Baptist. As the Jews had poured out in multitudes, and hung spell-bound upon his eloquent lips, the six months of his brilliant and wonderful ministry, his name was everywhere a household word. Hence his cruel and untimely martyrdom fell on the nation with the shock of an earthquake. Mark:
“And King Herod said, John the Baptist is risen from the dead, and therefore mighty works are wrought through him. Others said, That he is Elijah. And others said, That he is one of the prophets. But Herod, hearing, said, This is John, whom I beheaded; he is risen from the dead. It being a high day when Herod, on his birthday, made a feast for his magnates, chiliarchs, and the first men of Galilee, and the daughter of Herodias having come in, and danced and pleased Herod, and those sitting along with him at the table, the king said to the damsel, Ask of me whatsoever you may wish, and I will give it to you. And he swore unto her, Whatsoever you may ask me, I will give you, even unto the half of my kingdom. And she, having gone out, said to her mother, What shall I ask? And she said, The head of John the Baptist. And having come in unto the king with haste, unhesitatingly she asked him, saying, I wish that you may give me here the head of John the Baptist in a charger. The king being much grieved, on account of his oaths and those who were sitting at the table with him, did not receive his consent to reject her. The king immediately sending forth an executioner, commanded that his head should be brought. He having departed, beheaded him in prison; and he brought his head in a charger, and gave it to the damsel; and the damsel gave it to her mother. His disciples, hearing, came and took his body and buried it in a tomb.”
a. This was Herod Antipas, the son of Herod the Great, the last king of the Jews, who was on the throne when our Savior was born, and died at Jericho while He was in Egypt, a fugitive from the infantile slaughter at Bethlehem. He had married the daughter of Aretas, king of Arabia, whom he discarded in order to take Herodias, his niece, the wife of his half- brother Philip (not Philip the tetrarch, of Iturea and Trachonitis Luke 3:1), having employed a bondman in the home of his brother to seduce her away from her husband, and get her thus unlawfully to become his wife. His enraged father-in-law eventually invaded his country with an army, to avenge the maltreatment of his daughter. I saw the battle-field, off the southeast coast of the Galilean Sea, where Aretas met Herod, and signally defeated him, thus beginning his fatal downfall, which culminated in his ruin, the Roman emperor not only dethroning him, taking his kingdom from him and giving it to Herod Agrippa, but actually banishing him and Herodias to Lugdunum (Lyons), in the wilds of Gaul, and afterward exiling them in Spain, where they died in dreary solitude and misery, their temporal misfortunes the ominous prelude of the awful fate awaiting them.
b. We have in John the Baptist a beautiful and brilliant example of that stern and uncompromising ministerial fidelity which alone will qualify the Lord’s heralds for the judgment fires. John knew no fear. Bold as an archangel, he looked the king and queen in the face, and publicly exposed their sins, making the queen so awfully mad, as it was wholesale murder to her pride, that she would have slain him quickly through a hired assassin, if her husband had not defeated her purposes by shutting him up in prison. The implacable woman never relented, but studied every conceivable device to take his life. Eighteen months have whiled away since this greatest of prophets has become the inmate of a gloomy, subterranean dungeon in the Tower of Machierus, east of the Dead Sea, in the Land of Moab. During all this time, Herod frequently heard him preach, being powerfully wrought upon and deeply convicted, so that he actually obeyed the preacher in many respects. “For Herod feared John, knowing him to be a righteous and holy man; and he continued to hold him in prison, and hearing him, he continued to do many things, and hear him delightfully.” (Mark 6:20 .) Herod was a member of the Jewish Church, loved to go to meeting, and as John was the best preacher he had ever heard, was delighted with him, making great reformation under his ministry, still retaining him in prison, to keep his enraged wife from killing him. Little did he anticipate his awful, impending fate. Now conceive the situation.
c. Pursuant to the custom of Oriental monarchs, he makes a great feast, to which he invites his official subordinates, and the rich and mighty men from all parts of his kingdom, to participate his bounty and contemplate his royal magnificence. In the midst of the festivities and jollifications, while all are merry with wine, pretty, little Salome comes in, and dances a pantomime for their edification, her wonderful agility literally capturing the princely audience thronging the royal palace. Amid a thousand compliments by the magnates, the king, now drunk enough to act the fool, obligates himself, by a solemn oath, in the presence of the royalty and nobility, to grant her petition, even though she ask the queenship of half his dominions a custom from time immemorial peculiar to Oriental monarchs.
d. The little girl darts away, and counsels her mother, whose constant study the last two years has been the destruction of that impudent preacher, who had the atidacity, in his public preaching, to assault her character and ruin her reputation. O how she seizes the auspicious moment, and sends the girl back, with the bloody petition dropping in livid horror from her lips, “Give me here in this charger the head of John the Baptist!”
e. The king expected her to ask some great present, perhaps a kingdom, that she might rule over it when she arrived at womanhood. Her demand strikes him like a thunderbolt from a cloudless sky. He is flooded with grief, and would give a world to rescind the whole matter. But what can he do? If he goes back on his oath, he will so unman himself in the estimation of the royalty and the nobility that they will rebel against him on the spot, take the crown from his head, and either take his head off, or banish him from his kingdom. Satan helps him. He rallies his courage; dispatches the bloody executioner at once to the prison, with the charger sent in by blood-thirsty Herodias to receive the gory head of the greatest prophet the world has seen. f. The sad fate of King Herod should be a profitable warning to all the people who have not settled the problem of personal salvation by entire sanctification; lest, like poor Herod, in an evil hour, the enemy slip in like a weasel and suck away your life-blood, blighting your hope, and sealing your doom in the gloom of rayless night.
g. In the present age of conjugal infidelity, illegal marriages, and all sorts of domestic entanglements, withering and blighting the beautiful flowers wont to bloom amid the gardens of holy wedlock, and disseminating social pestilence, like the withering sirocco that sweeps its pestilential gales over Lybia’s burning sands, thus turning home into a pandemonium, O how we need the lightning, steel, fire, thunder, and earthquake type of preaching which characterized the fearless prophet of the wilderness, when he publicly scandalized the king and queen in their own presence, heroically preaching the truth, though it cost him imprisonment and martyrdom!
h. Should not that great preacher have been more cautious, and thus perpetuated his liberties, and prolonged his life many years to preach the gospel? I trow not. God makes no mistakes. Though John’s active ministry in the open air lasted but about six months, till overtaken by the dark eclipse of imprisonment and death, doubtless he did more good than if he had preached a compromised gospel six hundred years.
FEEDING THE MULTITUDES
Matthew 14:13-21 ; Mark 6:32-44 ; Luke 9:10-17 ; & John 6:1-14 . Mark: “And they departed, into an uninhabited place apart, in a ship. And the multitudes saw them going, and many recognized Him; and they continued to run on foot from all the cities, and come before them, and come together to Him.” They sailed from the city of Capernaum, on the northern coast of the Galilean Sea, and, as Luke says, they went into an uninhabited region of the city of Bethsaida; i.e., into a portion of country belonging to that city. Bethsaida is on the northwest coast, and Tiberias on the west coast. This uninhabited region i.e., a natural parkway off the coast, and perhaps about midway between these two cities. N.B. The Galilean Sea at that time was literally fenced in with cities, dotting the coast seventy-five miles in compass. Now, when He proceeds with the Twelve to embark for a rest in that desert place, the people in the cities round on the coast have a full view of them, and seeing the direction they are running, multitudes run around overland, actually arriving in the park before they do, while others come on in thronging multitudes. I saw all of this situation, and actually sailed over the route here specified, visiting all of the cities here mentioned. So you see how the eager multitudes defeated the plan of taking a rest, giving them an audience of about ten thousand instead of the solitude amid trees and rocks.
John 6:3 : “And Jesus came into the mountain, and was sitting there with His disciples.” The sea of Galilee, being depressed before the oceanic level seven hundred feet, as a natural consequence is surrounded on all sides by highlands, some of them (e.g., Mt. Hattin, on which Saladin, the Moslem general, defeated the Crusaders, thus putting an end to Christian rule in Galilee, A. D. 1187; and the Mount of Beatitudes, north of Capernaum) rising to great eminence. I saw the region off the coast on the mountain slope between Bethsaida and Tiberias, where this immense gathering took place. “And the Passover, the feast of the Jews, was nigh.” N.B. Our Lord began His ministry at the Passover by purifying the temple driving out all of the buyers and sellers. Having preached two or three weeks in Judea, He then came to Galilee, passing through and preaching in Samaria. Remaining in Galilee to the close of the year, He again attends the Passover at Jerusalem, immediately after which He returns to Galilee, where He remains, making, in all, three circuits throughout the country, and finally sending out His twelve apostles, heading six evangelistic bands. Now we see another year of our Lord’s ministry has gone by, and this great multitude, generally estimated at five thousand, but in all probability at least twice that number, as Matthew says there were five thousand, besides women and children, who, as a rule, constitute the larger half of an audience. The Jews were accustomed to go up to Jerusalem to their great solemnities by whole families, on foot, with a few donkeys and camels along to carry luggage, feeble old people, and babies, and frequently driving along sacrificial animals; thus going in great crowds for company and security against robbers and marauders. As we see here they were right on the eve of the Passover, doubtless this multitude had assembled in view of going on to Jerusalem, and attending their greatest national festival, which commemorated the birth of their nation.
Mark 6:34 : “And Jesus, going out, looked on the vast multitude, and was moved with compassion in their behalf, because they were as sheep having no shepherd; and He began to teach them many things.” We again find this frequently repeated affirmation of our Lord, “Sheep having no shepherd.” N.B. These were not heathens, nor outsiders, but the bona fide members of the Jewish Church, with their regular pastors, officers, and Church services. Still you see that in the Divine estimation they had no shepherds; i.e., no competent spiritual guides. How exceedingly pertinent does that alarming statement apply to the fallen Churches and worldly clergy of the present day! “And it already being a late hour, His disciples, coming to Him, say, That this is a desert place, and already the hour is late; send them away, that having gone into the surrounding country and villages, they may purchase for themselves bread; for they have nothing which they may eat. And responding, He said to them, You give them to eat. And they say to Him, Having gone away, must we buy two hundred pennies’ worth of bread and give them to eat?” Evidently having only two hundred pennies in the apostolical treasury. “And He says to them, How much bread have you? Go and see. And having ascertained, they say, Five loaves and two fishes. He commanded them all to sit down by companies on the green grass. And they sat by hundreds and fifties. Taking the five loaves and the two fishes, looking up to heaven, He blessed them, and broke the loaves, and gave them to His disciples that they may distribute to them; and He divided out the two fishes to all.”
John 6:12 : “And when they were filled, He says to His disciples, Gather ye up the remaining fragments, in order that nothing may be lost. Then they gathered them together, and filled twelve baskets with the fragments from the five barley loaves which remained to those who had eaten.”
Matthew 14:21 : “And those eating were about five thousand men, besides women and children.” Evidently, as you see, at least ten thousand people, fed bountifully with the five barley loaves and two fishes, about enough for five persons, as the loaves in that country are generally small. That country is notorious for baskets, and generally very large, holding several bushels. A common sight at Jerusalem is a woman coming in, sitting on her little donkey, with one of these great baskets on either side filled with market stuff i.e., vegetables and fruits and a baby in her arms, and no bridle on the animal; sitting astride, apparently very comfortable, and frequently singing, as I supposed, for the entertainment of the baby. Hence, one basket would hold, in all probability, ten times the original amount of the whole supply with which they began to eat. Now ten thousand have eaten, and twelve baskets full of fragments were taken up. What a wonderful flood of spiritual truth pours in from this transcendent miracle! You go into an utterly destitute place like this to hold a revival-meeting. You can hardly rake and scrape fire enough on the old smoldering chunks to kindle into a flame. When once you get it started, it rolls a deluge over the neighborhood, running the devil out, and bringing heaven down. A hundred red-hot evangelists rise up from that meeting, and carry away fire enough to start a hundred new revivals. Spiritualities are the very opposite of materialities, as God’s ways are different from man’s. In temporal things, the more we use, the less we have. In spiritual, precisely the reverse is true: the more we use and give away, the more we have. You may hardly have religion enough to keep Satan from taking you, and go out and get some poor fellow gloriously converted, and, to your surprise, you will find that you have at least ten times as much as you had before you began this good work.
John 6:14 : “Therefore the people, seeing the miracle which Jesus performed, continued to say, That this is truly the Prophet who is to come into the world;” i.e., the Christ, the Messiah of God, the Redeemer of Israel, the Shiloh, the Savior for whom Israel has waited four thousand years; thus arousing and electrifying the multitude with the most thrilling enthusiasm, as the Jews have been listening to His preaching and diagnosing His miracles these two whole years, wondering if He is really the Messiah of prophecy, and at the same time ready to rally and crown Him King, as they all distinctly understand that the Christ is to be their King, break the Roman yoke, set them free, and even transcend the glory of David and Solomon, and reign over them forever; thus infelicitously mixing up the prophecies appertaining to His first and second coming, and running into a bewilderment, which, maneuvered by Satan, conduced awfully to blind their eyes and defeat their diagnosis of Messiahship in Jesus.
Matthew 16:13-16 ; Mark 8:27-29 ; Luke 9:18-20 . This is the northern terminus of our Savior’s ministry, two days’ journey on horseback from the Sea of Galilee up the Jordan Valley to the foot of Mt. Hermon, where a great spring is one of the principal sources of the Jordan. This city is just over the border of Galilee in Iturea, at the time of our Savior under the tetrarchy of Philip. M.: “And Jesus having come into the parts of Caesarea Philippi, asked His disciples, saying, Whom do the people say that I, the Son of man, am? And they said, Some say, John the Baptist; others, Elijah; and others, Jeremiah, or One of the prophets. He says to them, But whom do you say that I am? And Simon Peter, responding, said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God. And Jesus responding, said to him, Blessed art thou, Simon, the son of Jonah; because flesh and blood did not reveal it to thee, but My Father who is in the heavens.” About twenty-eight months have rolled away since our Lord entered upon His ministry, meanwhile He has flooded Galilee with His miracles; visited, in person or by the Twelve, nearly all the cities and villages in Israel. Despite all efforts, John the Baptist sending his disciples, with the avowed purpose of bringing Him out into an unequivocal proclamation of His Christhood, He simply sent them back, to tell John about the mighty works which they had seen.
a. Doubtless our Lord felt that it was better for His works to proclaim His Christhood than that He should publicly avow it. Here was the trouble: the prophets had wrought miracles, especially Elijah and Elisha, even raising quite a number from the dead. Consequently some, and among them King Herod, thought He was John the Baptist risen from the dead. As Elijah had wrought such stupendous miracles, bringing fire from heaven and raising the dead, on the very ground traversed by Jesus, many thought that He was some one of the old prophets who had risen from the dead. During these twenty-eight months, while the whole country has been flooded with miracles so stupendous as at once to beggar all cavil, the people have had an opportunity, by the irresistible fact of His mighty works, corroborated by His inimitable preaching, to settle down in the conclusion of His Christhood without an open proclamation.
b. The simple fact is that the Jews, having endured the galling yoke of a foreign despotism thirty-two years, and all settled in the prophetical revelation that the Christ is to be King of the Jews, are eager to crown Him the very moment that matter is settled, while the Roman soldiers were holding the gates of every city, ready to kill any man who would claim to be king, without having received the crown from the hands of Caesar. This was the very accusation written over His bead on His cross when He was crucified) “This is the King of the Jews.” Hence the necessity of postponing the open avowal of His Messiahship to the latest practical date.
c. I trow, this was the reason for His going away off to Caesarea-Philippi, out of the circle of His old audiences, and away from the multitude, who had crowded after Him, professing discipleship. When I visited Caesarea- Philippi, I went up on one of the peaks of Mt. Hermon, hanging over the city, where there is a great military citadel, about two thousand feet long and three hundred wide, built of solid masonry, though in ruins, the walls mainly yet intact, which had been occupied during the ages of Roman, Saracen, Crusade, and French rule, within which there is an old temple, said to have been built by Herod the Great. Tradition says that in this temple, when Jesus preached to the people, He proclaimed His Christhood, propounding the above questions to Peter, the apostolic senior, and in this, as well as other cases, the representative and speaker of the Twelve.
Matthew 16:18-19 ; Mark 8:30 ; Luke 9:21 . Matthew “And I say unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build My Church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of the heavens; and whatsoever thou mayest bind on earth, shall be bound in the heavens; and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth, shall be loosed in the heavens. Then He commanded His disciples that they must tell no one that He is the Christ.” It is really indispensable at this date of our Lord’s ministry, that His leading disciples, and especially the apostles, should have clear and positive information as to His Messiahship, only eight months of His earthly ministry still to transpire, with the exception of the forty days intervening between His resurrection and ascension. Now that He is gone away off, out of the circle of His ministry, into this temporary retirement in Sryia, He has an opportune privilege with His disciples alone. As to the multitudes, still let them solve the problem in contemplation of His mighty works, which were certainly calculated to settle the conviction of all the unprejudiced that He was truly the Christ. As He moves on in His ministry, the public proclamation of His Messiahship comes more and more to the front, the matter being in such a shape with the Jews and Romans that such an avowal would cost Him, or any one else, His life. We now reach a grand, salient epoch in our Savior’s ministry, when the gospel Church is conspicuously revealed to the apostles as destined to supersede the politico-ecclesiasticism of the former dispensation. N.B. Peter is a Greek word, and means “rock.” Jesus gave it to Simon, indicative of his firmness. The world, however, never saw the rock in Peter’s character till after the fires of Pentecost had burned out all the trash of depravity, revealing to all the world the solid rock, which caused him to live a hero and die a martyr. When our Savior says to Simon, “Thou art Peter” i.e., “Thou art rock,” He used the word Petros, which means a broken rock, such as we use in a building immediately He says, “Upon this rock,” using the word Petra, which means the great unbroken strata, underlying the continents and oceans, and constituting the foundation of the earth. This word He applies to Himself. All Christian character, in this life, is more or less fragmentary, Jesus being the only Integer, whom we all imitate, and to whose perfection and glory we aspire, living in the hope of that coming glorification which shall make us like Him. Now what about the Church? Our Savior’s word is Ekklesia, from Ek, “out,” and kaleo, “to call.” Hence it means the “called out” no hereditary hierarchy, nor ecclesiasticism, like Judaism; but the individual souls, in every nation, who hear the call of the Holy Ghost (and He calls all), and come out of the world, forsaking all, and identifying themselves with God for time and eternity. These, and only these, constitute the Church of God. Now He said, “On this Rock I will build My Church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against her.” We must go down through all the sand, mud, soapstone, and slate, till we strike the solid rock, and there build our superstructure, if we want it to stand. The calling out by the Holy Ghost is regeneration; and the building on Christ, sanctification. Hence the instability and vacillation peculiar to unsanctified Christians; while the genuine and thorough sanctification gives you a stability which will not cower in the presence of roaring lions and martyr fires. “Here,” He says, “I will build,” i.e., edify you indefinitely. While the negative side of sanctification, going down to the deep foundation of the earth, and consciously reaching the solid rock, is definite and complete. The erection of the superstructure i.e., the building of Christian character will not only continue through this life, beautifully progressive, but through all eternity, towering into loftier heights, and broading into grander dimensions, thus accumulating the Divine similitude and glory, the wonder of redeemed humanity, and the admiration of the unfallen intelligences of the celestial universe through the flight of eternal ages. Comparatively few have any correct conception as to what the Church is. They think the carnal, worldly people, constituting the congregations in the different denominations, are the Church; whereas none but the truly regenerated ever have been or can be members of God’s Church; regeneration bringing you in, and sanctification establishing you, qualifying you for official responsibilities, such as the pastorate, the diaconate, eldership, evangelism, and teaching.
HIS DEATH & RESURRECTION
Matthew 16:21-23 ; Mark 8:31-33 ; Luke 9:22 . Matthew: “From that time Jesus began to show to His disciples that it behooved Him to depart to Jerusalem, and to suffer many things from The elders, the chief priests, and scribes, and to be put to death, and to rise the third day. And Peter, taking Him to him, began to rebuke Him, saying, Be it far from Thee, Lord; this shall not be to Thee. And turning, He said to Peter, Get behind Me, adversary; thou art My stumblingblock, because thou dost not have in mind the things of God, but the things of men.” Our Lord is still up at Caesarea-Philippi, with His disciples, teaching and revealing the deeper things of His kingdom, not only to their edification, but their astonishment. It was the misfortune of the Jews so to mix up the prophecies appertaining to the first and second coming of Christ, that they ran into much bewilderment for the want of the necessary discrimination and division of God’s Word; while Isaiah and others had vividly revealed His humiliation, as a “Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief;” as a “Root out of dry ground, without form or comeliness, and none desiring Him;” “Led as a lamb to the slaughter, as a sheep dumb before His shearers, opened not His mouth;” “In His humiliation, His judgment was taken away” i.e., He had no fair trial, but was mobbed, contrary to both Jewish and Roman law. These gloomy prophecies, descriptive of His humiliation in His first advent, were by no means enjoyable themes with the Jews, who leaned the more to those grand and glorious cognomens portraying Him as “the Prince of peace,” “the government on His shoulders;” and Daniel 7:14, not only describing Him as a triumphant and glorious King, but certifying positively that “to His kingdom there shall be no end, but He shall reign King of kings and Lord of lords forever.” Now, for the first time, He comes out and positively reveals to His disciples His coming arrest, condemnation, crucifixion, and resurrection. Peter, robust, stout, and naturally brave as a lion, immediately conceiving the view that His enemies are going to combine against Him, take Him, and kill Him, leaps to the conclusion, That is a game at which two can play. We will fight in His defense till we die, and the thousands and myriads who have been blessed with bodily healing, demoniacal ejectruents, and the multitudes endeared to Him on account of their friends thus wonderfully saved, soul and body, will rally and help us and will make it hot for them. Consequently, both Peter takes Him by the arm, or His vesture, and pulls Him up to Him; looking Him in the face, says, “They can’t do that; we will be on hand, rally Your multitude of friends, and protect You to the last moment.” “Satan,” in the E.V., is too strong, the word not appearing here as a proper name, when it is applied to the devil, but simply in its original meaning, “adversary” or “opposer,” as Peter was innocently antagonizing the Divine economy relative to His death and resurrection, which he did not understand; and Jesus said, “Thou art My stumbling-block;” i.e., “You are throwing yourself in the way of the very work I came to do” i.e., to suffer, die, and redeem the world from sin, death, and hell. “Thou dost not have in mind the things of God, but the things of men;” i.e., “You are not thinking on the Divine side of this great transaction, you have not yet received light and entered into it understandingly, but you are considering My Messiahship from a human standpoint.”
Matthew 16:24-26 ; Mark 8:34-37 ; Luke 9:23-25 . Mark: “Calling to Him the multitude, along with His disciples, He said to them, Whosoever wishes to come after Me, let him deny himself, take up his cross, and follow Me.” We have no mention of the multitude, since He has been at Caesarea-Philippi, till now, when it is said that Jesus called them to Him, that they might hear, along with His disciples. Hitherto He has been expounding the straight, practical facts relative to Himself, expository of His Christhood and atonement, which it is very important for His disciples to know with certainty at this late date of His ministry. Now that He proposes to elucidate the conditions of discipleship, the whole multitude are concerned; therefore we see that, desisting from these interviews with His disciples, He invites the multitude to enjoy His preaching. The conditions of discipleship are plain, positive, explicit, and unmistakable, beginning with total and unequivocal selfabnegation, and culminating in crucifixion. The sinner’s way crosses, antagonizes, and disharmonizes with God’s way. All this must be primarily and eternally abandoned. This is the great work of repentance, fundamental in salvation. Then he must follow this total self-abnegation by taking up his cross, and walking in the track of Jesus; this is justifying faith, which invariably involves the whole problem of practical Christianity, loving obedience to every commandment, and faithful discharge of every duty, however arduous and repellent to the flesh. N.B. The first hemisphere of this great transaction is total, unequivocal, and eternal self-abnegation, taking up the cross and following Jesus, through tempest and sunshine, prosperity and adversity, whether flowers bloom or fagots flame, birds sing or lions roar; i.e., forsaking all sin we do our whole duty, let it be ever so repellent to the flesh. Now, remember, there is another distinct hemisphere fitting on to the preceding, and constituting the beautiful celestial sphere of Christian discipleship Jesus carried His cross to die on it. Though He broke down on the way, a stout African disciple relieved Him. So if you break down under the cross of heavy and intolerable duty e. g., family prayer, public prayer, testimony, appeal, house-to-house visiting, slum work, street preaching God will send an angel to carry the cross for you, whether incarnate or excarnate.
Discipleship means following Jesus. The utility of His cross was to die on it. So, remember, you are not only to suffer while bearing the cross, but actually you are to be crucified on it, thus putting an end to all suffering, and radically reversing the former environments, putting you upon the cross; so that you no longer bear the cross, but the cross bears you. There is a woeful misapprehension appertaining to Christian discipleship, even among holiness people. It is generally taken for granted that the faithful cross-bearer is sanctified. This conclusion is utterly out of harmony with our Savior’s exposition of discipleship. The masses of Church members simply refuse to bear the cross, thereby forfeiting all claims to discipleship, and putting themselves on a par with open sinners. A true conversion makes you a bona fide cross-bearer; while sanctification, crucifying Adam the First, and thus eliminating all repellency to Christian duty, puts you on top of the cross, so that henceforth it carries you; i.e., every duty to God which is heavy and irksome to the unsanctified, undergoes a mysterious and inexplicable metamorphism, so that, instead of being repellent and heavy, it is magnetic, charming, and delightful; so that, instead of chilling your enthusiasm and retarding your progress, it thrills you with new inspiration, giving you a fresh impetus on your heavenly way. To this there is no exception, even bloody martyrdom is disrobed of his terrors; so the pilgrim goes shouting to the burning stake. Hence you see that all who refuse to bear the cross of Christ are sinners. Those who bear it faithfully are justified; while the crucifixion which we receive on the cross, sanctifying us wholly, gives us the complete victory over all crosses, so that we carry them no more, but they carry us, every cross having eagle wings, mounting skywardly, and soaring away to glory, while we ride them triumphantly, with song and shouts of victory, till, welcomed by angelic millions, we sweep through the gates of glory.
Mark 8:35 : “For whosoever may wish to save his soul, shall lose it; and whosoever may lose his soul, for My sake and that of the gospel, he shall save it. For what shall it profit a man if he may gain the whole world and lose his own soul? or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?” In this paragraph our Savior gives psyche, the regular and constant word for soul, four times. The E.V. translates it “life” in two instances, ‘and “soul” in two more. I must confess, I see no reason for this change. If our Savior had meant “life” in verse thirty-five, He certainly would have said zoe.
The very fact that He says psyche all the time, is sufficient reason why we should do likewise. Methinks the translators simply failed to apprehend the deep spiritual meaning of our Lord in this beautiful passage, given literally by Mark and Luke. James 1:4; James 4:8, speaking of the “double-minded man,” uses this same word, dipsychos i.e., double- souled applying it to the unsanctified Christian; setting forth the fact that the unregenerate have one evil soul, the sanctified one good soul, and the unsanctified Christian the double soul; i.e., the good soul created by the Holy Ghost in regeneration, and the bad soul inherited from Adam the First, subjugated in conversion, and kept subordinated by grace, but still surviving, and an antagonistical element in the deep interior of the heart, causing much hindrance to duty and many a defeat in spiritual conflict, and a perpetual impediment to our efficiency for God, till eradicated and removed in the second work of grace, in which case you are no longer “double-minded,” unstable in all your ways, but free as a bird of Paradise, and happy as a lark, soaring into the sky; unincumbered by a solitary impediment, you fight, conquer, sing, and shout your way to heaven. You see from our Savior’s deliverances, that all religion is self-denial. The sinner refuses to deny himself of carnal pleasures, and sells out his soul to the devil for a “mess of pottage.” The unsanctified Christian finds self-denial hard and repellent to the flesh. There is where he flickers, lets go his hold on Jesus, and goes down to bell; while a sanctified man finds all self-denial no longer hard, but easy, and even delightful, so that he enjoys it, and runs after it, finding that every self-denial gives him an elastic bound for glory.
Here our Savior simply assures us that all who save their souls, shall lose them; and those who lose their souls for His sake, shall find them. We come into the world with a bad soul, which we must not only antagonize, but get rid of it altogether, coming to Jesus for a new soul, created in His own image and likeness. Hence the unpopularity of the true religion in all ages, and the paucity of its votaries. It is because the heavenly road is beset with crosses, which Adam the First can not pass, because they were put there to crucify him. Consequently, the carnal clergy, with the devil to help them, have in all ages led the people some other way. Satan has laid earth and hell under contribution, the last six thousand years, to render the way of death pleasant and charming to travelers. He has cut down the mountains, filled up the valleys, macadamized the road, paved it with gold, strewn it with flowers, and enchanted it with the most charming music, thus intermitting neither labor nor expenditure to make the road satisfactory to all, Church members and outsiders. No theology, Churchism, nor priestcraft can ever change the law of discipleship here propounded by the Prince of glory. If you would be a disciple, you must actually lose that evil soul you have had all your life, and take chances to get another; i.e., the man of sin must consent to lie down and die, taking the risk about living again.
The people of this world hold to the maxim, “A bird in the hand is worth more than two in the bush.” Consequently they hold on to the soul which they have had since their earliest recollection, willing to take all the religion which they can have compatibly with that soul; i.e., they will join the Church, take water baptism, weekly sacraments, work faithfully in the Church machinery, do some very nice parrot talk in the social meetings, pay their dues, attend church, receive official honors, represent the Church in the Conferences, and, with a collegiate education, actually preach the gospel in their way. But to have heavy hands laid on them, nailing them to the cross, to bleed and die like Jesus, taking chances on the resurrection life, is utterly out of the question, and to be rejected contemptuously as the vain hallucination of the holiness cranks, who ought to be run out of the country. Good Lord, shine through us, and enable us to take Thy plain and simple Word, and be Thy true disciples!
THE SECOND COMING
Matthew 16:27-28 . “For the Son of man is about to come in the glory of His Father, with His angels, and will then give to each one according to his work. Truly, I say unto you, There are certain ones of those standing here who may not taste of death, until they may see the Son of man coming in His kingdom.” Mark 8:38 ; Mark 9:1 : “For whosoever shall be ashamed of Me and My words in this adulterous and wicked generation, truly, the Son of man shall be ashamed of him, when He may come in the glory of His Father, with His holy angels. And He said to them, Truly, I say unto you, That there are certain ones of those standing here who may not taste of death until they may see the kingdom of God having come in power.”
Luke 9:26-27 : “For whosoever may be ashamed of Me and My words, of him shall the Son of man be ashamed, when He shall come in His glory, and that of the Father, and that of the holy angels. And, truly, I say unto you, There are certain ones of those standing here who may not taste of death until they may see the kingdom of God.” Very pertinently does our Savior here follow that terribly rigid and close sermon on discipleship, by one of the grandest of all possible inspirations, to settle the problem of discipleship, at any and every conceivable cost, making sure of heaven if we lose everything else, which is certainly the normal verdict of sound intelligence.
a. As this passage, recorded by Mark and Luke, reads in E.V., it has been the puzzle of millions. I know not why they give us the future tense, indicative mode, when the Greek has the present subjunctive. Within about one week from the time of this utterance, Peter, James, and John actually witnessed a prelude of His second coming on the Mount of Transfiguration.
“For not having followed cunningly devised fables, having made known unto you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but having been eye-witnesses of His majesty. . . . And we heard this voice borne from heaven, being along with Him in the holy mount.” (2 Peter 1:16-18.)
Here you see, Peter certifies that they witnessed His power and coming, while they were with Him in the holy mount. Now what was that holy mount? Why the Mount of Transfiguration, which they actually visited in a few days from that time, it being the preliminary coming of the Lord in His glory; i.e., an actual adumbration of His second coming. As Peter, James, and John were all present in His audience, and actually witnessed this prelude of His second and glorious coming, we, on the Mount of Transfiguration, have a preliminary fulfillment of this prophecy.
b. Within forty years of that date, while many of those people were still living, the Lord actually came, in His awful retributive judgments on the unbelieving Jews, executing righteous retribution for the rejection of His Son, destroying Jerusalem, and desolating the land with the awful scourge of the Roman armies, putting an end to the Jewish State and nationality, and annihilating the Jewish polity. Some able critics here find the fulfillment of this prophecy.
c. On the day of Pentecost the kingdom did certainly, as Mark says, “come in power,” having been on earth during the ministry of our Savior; but in the fiery baptisms and rushing tempest on the day of Pentecost it certainly did come in the signal manifestation of unprecedented power.
d. I see no reason why we may not take the whole passage as it is, and apply it to the existing generation, as it simply affirms a gracious possibility; i.e., there are some of those who are standing here, who may not taste of death until they may see the Son of man coming in His kingdom. Hence you see it simply affirms a gracious possibility on the part of that generation to see the Son of man coming in His glory, with the glory of the Father and the holy angels, before they pass away. You must remember that man has always been a failure. He failed in Eden; failed in antediluvian times; failed after the flood, landing in Egyptian slavery; failed in Judaism, rejecting and murdering their own Savior; and, according to the prophecies, will fail in the Gentile age, bringing on the tribulation, and forfeiting the millennium. Is not this very discouraging? O no! While man is a failure under all circumstances, God is an invariable and glorious success. Hence, all of these human failures should only inspire us to give up humanity, and fly to God, sinking away, lost in Him, to spend an eternity of bliss. The generation contemporary with Jesus was no exception. There was a gracious possibility for that generation to have preached the gospel to every nation, and so evangelize the world as to meet the condition of our Lord’s return (Matthew 24:14); as in that case He would have returned in His glory before the death of that generation. Here our Savior assures us, “Whosoever may be ashamed of Me and My words, in this wicked and adulterous world, the Son of man shall be ashamed of him, when He may come in the glory of His Father, with His holy angels.” Remember, this is the peroration of that awful sermon on discipleship, which nowadays is dodged, perverted, and misconstrued by clergy and laity, laying under contribution all their wits, to devise an easy way to heaven, washing, dressing, and educating old Adam, and taking him along with them. N.B. In a similar manner we find so many tender footed on the coming of the Lord, which our Savior here gives in immediate connection with His exposition of discipleship. The true, blood-washed, fire-baptized, and Spirit-filled disciple is not troubled when we preach the coming of the Lord, but elated with heaven-born enthusiasm, causing him to leap, shout, and run to meet Him. Jesus here calls the people who are ashamed of Him and His words, “a wicked and adulterous generation.” Far from shame or embarrassment at the coming of the Lord, we should be watching and waiting, and ready with shouts, to meet Him. “And now, little children, abide in Him, in order that if He may appear, we may have boldness, and not shrink with embarrassment from Him at His coming.” E.V. says we “may not be ashamed.” This is the same word which our Lord uses with reference to His words and His presence when He comes in His glory. Hence we should all be so saved and sanctified as to put us in perfect harmony with the words of Jesus; so we do not want to turn and twist them about, nor evade their force in any way, but want them to remain just as Jesus gave them. And as to Himself, “He is the fairest among ten thousand, and altogether lovely.” Since His ascension, the widowed Church has mourned the absence of her Heavenly Spouse, and longed for His return, even now watching and waiting, ready to run to meet Him with shouts of triumph. So be sure that you are not ashamed nor embarrassed, when you read His Word, and contemplate His personal coming in a cloud this day.
Matthew 17:1-13 ; Mark 9:2-13 ; Luke 9:28-36 . Mark: “And after six days, Jesus takes Peter, James, and John, and carries them up into an exceedingly high mountain, privately, alone; and He was transfigured before them, and His garments became shining, exceedingly white as snow, such as no fuller on earth is able to whiten. And there appeared unto them Elijah, with Moses, and they were talking with Jesus.” Luke 9:30 : “Behold, two men were talking with Him, who were Moses and Elijah, who, being seen in glory, were speaking of His departure, which He was about to fulfill in Jerusalem. And Peter, and those who were along with Him, had been burdened with sleep. But keeping awake through the night, they saw His glory, and the two men who were standing with Him.” The transfiguration is the most unearthly scene mortal eyes were ever permitted to behold. Here, again, we see the signal honor conferred by our Lord on Peter, James, and John, who certainly did enjoy a deeper insight into Divine things than the other nine.
a. What was the character of that wonderful scene? It was a prelibation of heaven, come down to earth i.e., a peep into the glory world; Jesus, for the time, putting on His glory in the presence of Peter, James, and John, that these notable apostles might be prepared to edify us all as eye- witnesses. Their descriptions are very graphic; Mark, Peter’s amanuensis, certifying that His raiment was whiter than any fuller on earth could possibly make it, His countenance and entire person shining with a brightness infinitely eclipsing the noonday sun in his meridian splendor. The scene transpired in the night, perhaps after several hours spent in prayer, in which their weary bodies became sleepy; the transcendent glory, when bursting on them, utterly expelling all drowsiness, so they had no trouble to keep wide awake all the balance of the night, so thrilled with the unearthly glory that they felt like remaining there forever; hence suggested “to build tabernacles.” Amid the scene, Moses and Elijah both appear.
How did the apostles know them? Either by their statues or Divine intuition, and more probably the latter. They appear in their glory, as both of their bodies had been long ago glorified. When Elijah mounted the fiery chariot, he lost all mortality, materiality, and every ounce of his weight, still retaining his identity, which had passed into celestial glory. If Moses was not translated from Pisgah’s pinnacle, he was raised from the dead, thus, in either case, escaping from Satan’s material prison, in consequence of which he gave the archangel Michael an awful battle (Jude 1:9), only to encounter signal defeat, while Moses, with the archangel, sweeps up the shining way, and joins the enraptured host in the city of God. We have in the glorified manifestation of Moses and Elijah a clear confirmation of the glorious destination of all God’s saints; those living on the earth at the Lord’s appearing being translated into the glorified state suddenly (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18), like Elijah, when he mounted the chariot of fire; and all the buried saints resurrected, like Moses, when Michael came after him, and took him to heaven; thus Moses and Elijah, representing all the saints of all ages, and thus appearing in their glory, are an incontestable earnest of the glorification awaiting all the saints, some through transition, and others through the resurrection. Moses and Elijah, representing the two great departments of the old disperisation i.e., the Law and the Prophets, the former being the lawgiver, and the latter, the greatest of the prophets; hence Moses and Elijah here appear in glory, not only confirming the glorification of all the saints, some by translation and others by the resurrection, but as the representatives of the Law and the Prophets, they here appear in the presence of Jesus, to whom they resign their delegated and expiring power, thus recognizing the supercession of the Law and the Prophets by the Kingdom of Heaven. They depart away before the scene is over, signifying the retreat of the old dispensation and the incoming of the new. Luke 9:33 : “And it came to pass, while they were departing from Him [i.e., Moses and Elijah], Peter said to Jesus, Master, it is good for us to be here; let us make three tabernacles, one for Thee, one for Moses, and one for Elijah; not knowing what he says.” No wonder Peter felt like staying there forever, as he had really witnessed a prelude of heavenly glory, practically spending those wonderful hours in heaven. Yet he did not understand what he was talking about, as Moses and Elijah had already finished their errand, and were moving back to heaven. Jesus must soon go, and Peter, James, and John, with the other nine, must go to the ends of the earth, preaching the gospel; hence permanently abiding there was utterly out of the question. Amid Pentecostal meetings, especially holiness camps, we frequently are permitted to tarry a little while on the Mount of Transfiguration, reluctant to come down; yet we must come down, and finish our work, fighting sin and Satan in the dark valleys of a lost world. “And He speaking these things, and there was a cloud, and it overshadowed them; and they were afraid while they were entering into the cloud. And there was a voice out of the cloud, saying, This is My Beloved Son: hear ye Him; and while the voice was sounding, Jesus was found alone, and they kept silent, and told no one, in those days, any of those things which they had seen.”
b. A world of investigation and controversy has labored through all bygone ages to locate the Mount of Transfiguration. When I was on Mount Tabor, which is a long way from Caesarea-Philippi, far out southwest, near Nazareth and the Mediterranean Sea, I saw three magnificent stone temples, somewhat in ruins, the Latin monk, in charge of the convent constantly occupied on that summit, pointing them out to me as these three tabernacles which Peter suggested to build one for Jesus, one for Moses, and another for Elijah. The convent on that mountain perpetuates the memory of the transfiguration. Origen, who was born A. D. 185 a great preacher and a martyr in his day; his father being a preacher and a martyr; also his grandfather; the latter, of course, having seen the apostles, and having been converted through their ministry certified, and has left it in his writings, that Tabor was the Mount of Transfiguration. Saint Jerome, who spent thirty years in Palestine in the fourth century, and other Christian fathers, add their testimony, so that, through the ages past, Tabor has been visited by thousands of Christian pilgrims, believing, without a doubt, that while walking over its summit and worshipping in its three tabernacles, they were on the veritable spot of this wonderful heavenly scene, where our Lord brought a prelude of celestial glory down, and permitted mortal eyes to contemplate the unearthly splendors of the bright upper world. It seems almost a pity to mar the sanctity and glory of this illustrious mountain by even insinuating that the adoring myriads who have lived and died, believing without a doubt that they had actually trodden upon that hallowed spot, and lingered in the tabernacles built responsive to Peter’s suggestion, and with their mortal feet trodden the summit where Jesus, Moses, and Elijah once stood, invested with celestial glory. But facts are stubborn things, and I must say that they are unfavorable to the identity of Tabor with the Mount of Transfiguration.
c. Others have labored assiduously to identify it with the Mount of Beatitudes, on which our Lord’s celebrated sermon was delivered, lying a few miles back from Capernaum, and overshadowing it, as this mountain is quite lofty; and Capernaum is the first place mentioned after the transfiguration, and the events which transpired at the base of the mountain; presuming that the six days mentioned as transpiring before the transfiguration were, in all probability, spent traveling, giving them ample time to come from Caesarea-Philippi down to the Sea of Galilee.
d. As to the six days immediately preceding the transfiguration, in which we have not an intimation, much less a record, of anything said or done, it seems quite plausible that they have a symbolic signification, typifying the days of Jehovah.
“Let not this escape your memories, beloved, that one day with the Lord is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.” (2 Peter 3:8.)
The adverb “as” is hos, and means “about,” vindicating the indefiniteness of the period, simply a long time, about a thousand years, so that we must not emphasize human chronology too rigidly, as God is His own Timekeeper.
“For, not following cunningly devised fables, have we made known to you the power and coming of the Lord Jesus Christ, but being made eyewitnesses of His majesty. For receiving from God the Father the honor and glory of such a voice, having been borne to Him from the excellent glory, This is My Beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. We heard this voice, borne from heaven, being with Him in the holy mount.” (1 Peter 1:16-18.)
You see from this Scripture that Peter refers to it as a preliminary coming of the Lord, and a confirmation of His sure and certain second and glorious advent, which was thus adumbrated while on this mount, which was made holy by the heavenly scene which there transpired. Now these six days preceding the transfiguration here mentioned, symbolize the six Divine days, aggregating six thousand years, preceding the glorious coming of the Lord.
e. “And having come out from thence, they traveled through Galilee.”
(Mark 9:30 .) This statement certainly sweeps away the theories in favor of Tabor, Beatitudes, and all other places, except that region in which they have spent several days in addition to the six here mentioned. Hence the facts certainly favor the conclusion that it was one of the mountains in the vicinity of Caesarea-Philippi. Strenuous efforts have been made to locate the transfiguration on the highest peak of Hermon. This is hardly probable, as it is about eighty miles from there to the loftiest summit, and directly away from Galilee, due north, whereas we have not an intimation that Jesus ever traveled north of Caesarea-Philippi in His earthly ministry. If He had gone so far, we certainly would have some specification of it. Hermon is the highest peak of the great Anti-Lebanon Range, which runs from Northern Syria south to the vicinity of the Galilean Sea, Caesarea- Philippi being in the Jordan Valley, down at the foot of this great range, and many lofty summits round about, well suited to verify the description here given of this celebrated holy mountain. I climbed a lofty mountain, belonging to the Hermon Range, overshadowing Caesarea Philippi, visiting the ruins of a large temple built by Herod the Great, where tradition says Jesus preached. I see no reason why that mountain, or some other one overhanging the Jordan Valley, through which they traveled back to Capernaum, might not have been the veritable Mount of Transfiguration f. Amid the multiplicity of claimants, through ages of superstition, we must conclude that no one knows that veritable mountain. There are so many summits about Caearea-Philippi, and rising along the Anti-Lebanon Range, hanging over the Jordan Valley, any one of which would satisfy the description, that we must leave the matter undecided, simply concluding that the preponderant argument favors some one of those mountains in the vicinity of Caesarea-Philippi, which are convenient to their journey down the Jordan, bearing in mind the affirmation (Mark 9:30 ), “Having come out from thence, they traveled through Galilee.” Now bear in mind, Galilee runs up almost to Caesarea-Philippi, favoring the conclusion that the Mount of Transfiguration must have been in that vicinity. Some have suggested that, as it took place in the night, they would have been uncomfortably cold on the summit of Hermon, ten thousand feet high.
While I do not believe they went to that summit, as it was too far north, the question of cold is relieved with reference to that mountain, or any other, by the fact that it was midsummer. As Capernaum is the first place mentioned, where they halted in their journey through Galilee, the facts certainly corroborate the conclusion that the mountain was up there near Caesarea Philippi, as they would travel through Galilee all the way to Capernaum. As our Lord knew what floods of superstition and actual idolatry would accumulate on that memorable spot which has actually taken place on Tabor I do not wonder that He dropped the veil over it, withholding its name. Peter, writing about it, gives us no clew to its identity, simply calling it the “holy mountain.” Consequently its identity is all at sea, and must so remain, till Peter, James, and John in glory return.
Matthew 17:9 . “And they, coming down from the mountain, Jesus charged them, saying, Tell no one the vision until the Son of man may be risen from the dead. His disciples asked Him, saying, Why then do the scribes say that it behooves Elijah first to come? And Jesus, responding, said to them, Indeed, Elijah cometh first, and will restore all things.” As Elijah here means John the Baptist, how did he restore, verify, complete, all things? John was the greatest of the prophets, and actually wound up the prophetical dispensation, which focalized in Christ, by not only preaching Him, but pointing Him out, and publicly introducing Him to the world. “But I say unto you, That Elijah has already come, and they did not know him, but did unto him all things which they wished; the Son of man is thus about to suffer by them. Then His disciples understood that He spoke to them concerning John the Baptist.” This transfiguration, taking place about eight months before the crucifixion, was the solemn installation of our Lord into that momentous series of events destined to culminate in His arrest, arraignment, condemnation, execution, resurrection, and ascension, thus unveiling to mortal eyes the heavenly side of His Messiahship. O that you and I may so sink away into God, and lose sight of this world, yea, climb so high up the Mount of Transfiguration, that we shall reach an experience in which we have a constant panorama of these thrilling realities, revelatory of the heavenly state, which is so nigh, and only separated by an intervening veil, liable to drop at any moment, thus revealing to us the unutterable glories of celestial worlds, of which, in the transfiguration, we have a vivid adumbration!
Matthew 17:14-21 ; Mark 9:14-29 ; Luke 9:37-43 . Mark: “And having come to His disciples, He saw a great crowd round them, and the scribes arguing with them.” He and the three disciples had been absent from the nine and the multitude during that memorable night of the transfiguration. In the morning, when they come down from the mount, they find an oral debate going on between the nine apostles and the scribes; i.e., the pastors of the Churches, who had gathered with the multitude. The subject of the debate was the failure of the nine to cast out an awfully stubborn and formidable deaf and dumb demon, which had occupied an only son from his infancy. “And immediately all the multitude, seeing Him, became aroused, and running to Him, seized Him;” i.e., gathered about Him, and took Him into a special diagnosis. “He asked the scribes, Why are you disputing with them?” The salient point in the debate was, that as the nine had failed in all their efforts to cast out the demon, at the same time alleging that if their Master were there, He could cast him out; the scribes stoutly disputed their word, and argued with them that if He were there, He would fail just as they had done. “And one of the multitude, responding, said, Teacher, I brought my son to Thee, having a dumb spirit, and when he may seize him, he convulses him; he froths, gnashes his teeth, and pines away.” Matthew says: “He is a lunatic, and suffers exceedingly, and frequently he falls in the fire, and often in the water.” Luke: “And, behold, the spirit takes him, and immediately he cries out, and he convulses him with foam, and scarcely departs from him, contorting him.”
We see from these descriptions that the child was an epileptic, of the very worst form, his convulsions being so frequent and violent as not only to take away the faculty of hearing and speech, but to render him at times insane, raving like a maniac. When these awful convulsions came on him, he screamed and roared at the very top of his voice, falling, rolling, in indescribable agony, gnashing his teeth, foaming at the mouth, and finally pining away, gasping for breath, and apparently ceasing to breathe, looking pale as a corpse, perspiration evanescing, becoming dry, ashy, cold, and to all appearances lifeless. “And I said to Thy disciples that they may cast him out, and they were not able. Responding, He says to them, O faithless generation, how long shall I bear with you?” We see here how grievous their unbelief and consequent failure were to Jesus. Lord, save us from grieving Thee in a similar manner! “Bring him hither to Me; and seeing Him, immediately the spirit convulsed him; and falling on the ground, he continued to wallow, foaming.” Here you see, the demon knew Jesus, having long ago been a pure spirit in the celestial universe, gazing upon the glory of the Son, before he had the misfortune to deflect with the great apostasy, following in the track of fallen Lucifer. See how awfully stubborn and malignant he is! Seeing Jesus, and knowing that his time is short, he seizes the moment left him to execute his wrath on his poor victim, seizing him instantly, convulsing him with horrific spasms, so that, falling on the ground, he wallows, foaming as if he were dying. “And He asked his father, How much time there is since this happened to him? And he said, From his infancy; and frequently he throws him into the fire, and into the water, that he may destroy him; but if You are able to do anything, help us, being moved with compassion in our behalf. And Jesus said to him, If you are able to believe, all things are possible to him that believeth. And immediately the father of the little child, crying out with tears, continued to say, Lord, I believe; help Thou mine unbelief.” Here we see a glorious illustration of the omnipotence of faith.
O what an inspiration this wonderful Scripture flashes out on a desponding Church and a sinking world!
Millions on all sides are sweeping into hopeless ruin; whereas alt that is needed that we may be saved to the uttermost, and our friends and loved ones rescued from Satan to go to heaven with us, is faith in Jesus. It costs nothing but your sins and your doubts, which were Satan’s millstones around your neck, dragging you to perdition. Your family are unsaved, your loved ones hanging over hell by the brittle thread of life. Soon it will be eternally too late. Will you not fly to the mercy-seat in their behalf? I trow, no demon more obstinate, potent, and incorrigible than this one possesses any of them. Though awful devils have them by the throat, Jesus is more than a match for them all. Will you not give Him a chance before demons people hell with the inmates of your home and community? You see here that true faith is accompanied by tenderhearted humility, illustrated by the fact that this man is so intensely exercised for the salvation of his son, that his tears gush out copiously, and flow in rivulets over his face. So get down before God till you, in spite of doubts and devils, with heart-gushing tears, can say, “Lord, I believe; help Thou mine unbelief.”
“And Jesus, seeing that the multitude are running together, rebuked the unclean spirit, saying to him, Dumb and deaf spirit, I command thee, Come out from it and enter no more into him. Crying out, and convulsing him much, he came out. He became like a corpse, so that many said, He is dead.” When Jesus was talking to the man, the multitude, observing that something was going to be done, and all eager to see, immediately began to crowd in from all directions to witness the sight. As this would produce a great confusion, Jesus instantly commands the obstinate demon, who had resisted all the efforts of the nine, to come out. The demon avails himself of the last moment to execute vile retribution against the poor epileptic. So, in the very act of evacuating him, he convulses him so awfully that he pines away, pallid and ghastly as a corpse, and the people all around say, “He is dead.” I have witnessed many scenes of this kind in my revival- meetings, people falling amid frightful convulsions, foaming at the mouth, pining away, gasping for breath, and the unspiritual people around saying, “He is dead,” “She is dead.” I could give you the positive history of many such cases, which I have seen with mine own eyes. Frequently have they been hauled away from my meetings like dead people, but they always came to life.
The physical phase of this case is abundantly illustrated in all of our lunatic asylums, without which our communities would be terrorized this day by raving maniacs. I now have in mind a good, true, and efficient, sanctified Methodist preacher, who, like this boy, had epilepsy, in its worst form, till one and twenty, when a sanctified sister, finding her way to his father’s house, told him about Jesus, and prevailed on him to commit to Him soul and body. Though three times, amid these awful convulsions, he had been laid out and pronounced dead, when he got his eye of faith on Jesus, though all physicians had abandoned him to die, the Blessed Healer, in a moment, cast out the stubborn demon, completely healing soul and body, so that he has never since had a trace of epilepsy; but, responsive to the call he received when Jesus healed and sanctified him, from that day he has been preaching holiness to the Lord.
Matthew 17:19 : “Then the disciples, coming to Jesus, privately said, Why were we not able to cast him out? Jesus said to them, For truly, I say unto you, If you have faith as a grain of mustard seed, you shall say to this mountain, Be thou moved hence, and it will be moved, and nothing shall be impossible to you. But this kind goeth not out except through prayer.” E. V. says, “Through prayer and fasting,” some good man evidently adding “fasting,” feeling that it would strengthen the statement, as it does not here appear in the original. We must remember that the disciples did not fast till after the Lord had left the world, as this would have been out of harmony with the glorious sunshine of His perpetual and omnipotent presence. He said that they would fast after He had gone away. Hence it is all right and pertinent for us to fast, as the Spirit leads, till He returns in glory. We must remember that our Savior is talking about spiritual things, referring to the little mustard seed and the great mountain to illustrate the omnipotence of faith. God appreciates quality rather than quantity. Hence, though your faith may be small, if it is free from doubt, the tiny mustard seed will make the great mountain of sin leap away, and sink out of sight into the sea of forgetfulness.
In these two notable transaction i.e., the transfiguration glory on the mountain summit, and the casting out of this awfully cruel, stubborn, obstinate demon down at the base, we have a vivid illustration of heaven and hell in close proximity. So terrible is the conflict between the powers of darkness in this world, that we often find the bright summit, the transfiguration glory, and the dark valley, pervaded by infuriated demons, in close proximity. Where God works, Satan works too, et vice versa. Hence the Christian soldier should never be discouraged at the rage of hell and the howl of devils; but on the contrary, in that case, should always take courage, as Satan is not fool enough to waste his ammunition. When the powers of darkness rendezvous and the formidable difficulties intervene, always look out for bright victories.
DEATH AND RESURRECTION
Matthew 17:22-23 ; Mark 9:30-32 ; Luke 9:43-45 . Mark: “And having gone out from thence, they continued to journey through Galilee.” As Galilee extends up to the very suburbs of Caesarea-Philippi, this passage is a clinching argument for the location of the transfiguration in that vicinity. Luke: “Place these words in your ears; for the Son of man is about to be delivered into the hands of sinners.” Matthew & Mark say: “They will kill Him; and having been killed, on the third day He will arise.” “And they did not know this word, and it was hidden from them, in order that they may not understand it; and they feared to ask Him concerning this word.” This took place in His conversation with His disciples while journeying down the Jordan, from Caesarea-Philippi, back to the sea of Galilee. You observe that this is the second time that He has positively told them about His coming arrest, execution, and resurrection. As you here see, “it was hidden from them,” so they did not understand it. Do you know that this dark veil wrapped the important item in our Lord’s biography till He had actually risen from the dead, though He had distinctly and positively spoken it out to them three times? Why was this revealed to them, and still withheld from them? It was really indispensable that it should be revealed, in order to the completion of the prophetical curriculum, destined, as in all bygone ages, to constitute the basis of faith for all future generations; hence the necessity of its revealment is clear and demonstrative. Then why was it withheld from them, so they never did receive it till after He had risen from the dead? This is equally obvious. If His disciples had understood it, they would have rallied His friends and fought for Him, thus precipitating on the country a bloody revolution, which Jesus did not want. Consequently, the blessed Holy Spirit just took it away from them, so they never caught the idea till after He had risen from the dead.
Matthew 18:1 ; Mark 9:33-35 ; Luke 9:46-47 . Mark: “And being in the house, He asked them, What were you disputing about with one another on the road? And they were silent; for on the road they had been disputing with one another which one should be greater. And He, sitting down, called the Twelve, and says to them, If any one wishes to be first, he shall be last of all, and the servant of all.” We see here the outcropping of ambition among the apostles, each one wanting the pre-eminence in the gospel kingdom; thus most unequivocally illustrating their need of the fiery baptism, to consume all their ambition, and humiliate them, meek and lowly, at the feet of Jesus, in utter and eternal abandonment to God, to be taught by the Holy Ghost. This is demonstrative proof of the second work of grace in the Divine economy, as no one would dare to call in question the conversion of the apostles. They had already, pursuant to our Savior’s commission, gone all over that country, preaching the gospel, casting out demons, and healing the sick. Jesus never sent out sinners to preach. He does not yoke up the devil’s cattle to pull the salvation wagon, but always uses His own. Jesus very pertinently notifies them that, in His kingdom, the one highest in office is least of all i.e., deepest down in the valley of humiliation and servant of all, as his official administrations include all, actually making him the benefactor of all his subordinates. While this is not always true in ecclesiastical officers, it is invariably the matter of fact in the kingdom of God; as in the Divine estimation, going down is coming up, and the enlargement of our field of labor simply magnifies our servitude to all included in these augmented dominions.
THE INFANT THE PARAGON
Matthew 18:2-5 ; Mark 9:36-37 ; Luke 9:48 . Mark: “Jesus, calling to Him a little child, placed it in their midst, and said, Truly, I say unto you, Except ye may be converted, and become as little children, you may not enter into the kingdom of the heavens. Therefore whosoever may humble himself as this little child, the same is the greater in the kingdom of the heavens; and whosoever may receive one such little child in My name, receiveth Me.” Mark: “Taking a little child, He placed it in their midst, and taking it up in His arms, He said to them.” . . . There is no mistake as to the conclusion that these are literal, natural infants, small enough for Jesus to lift up in His arms, exhibiting them illustratively. This is beautifully illustrative of the glorious, universal redemption in Christ, reaching every human being, even in the prenatal state, so soon as soul and body, united, constitute personality. Now as these infants, by the redemption of Christ, had been born in the kingdom, and could only get out by sinning out, which they could not do till they reached responsibility, it was demonstrative proof that they are all members of the heavenly kingdom; whereas, in the case of adults, the matter is at least problematical, so that we can not know for any one but ourselves the status before God. So here we have an irrefutable illustration of the consolatory fact that all infants are members of God’s kingdom, and here held up as paragons, because there can be no defalcation in their case, as they can only get out by actual sin, of which they are incapable till they reach responsibility. Hence, in their case, there can be no doubt, which can not be said of any adult, because no one but God knows the heart. It is a patent fact that infancy is the very period of an humble, loving disposition; humility and love constituting the preeminent graces of the kingdom. We may pertinently here observe that these infants are not sanctified, but possessed of depravity, manifested in evil tempers cropping out from the cradle; but, as Jesus says, they are normal citizens of the kingdom, standing where a genuine conversion brings every adult, and needing sanctification, like every justified Christian, such as those apostles, who there permitted ministerial ambition to show its cloven foot to their just reprehension.
BIGOTRY OF THE APOSTLE JOHN
Luke 9:49-50 ; Mark 9:38-41 . “And John responded to Him, saying, Teacher we saw a certain one casting out devils in Thy name who does not follow us, and we forbade him, because he does not follow us. And Jesus said, Prevent him not. For there is no one who shall work a miracle in My name who will be able quickly to speak evil of Me [as he will have to backslide first]. For whosoever is not against us, is on our side. And whosoever may give you a cup of water in the name of Christ, because you are His, truly, I say unto you, He shall not lose his reward.” There is no doubt but John was the first disciple of our Lord, and during His entire ministry honored, with Peter and James, on the Mount of Transfiguration the resurrection of Jairus’s daughter, and in Gethsemane. Besides, he was even epitheted the “loving disciple,” habitually sitting close by His side, and even leaning on His bosom. That he was characteristic of pre-eminent spirituality from the beginning, growing on him through his long and useful life, till his writings are swelling rivers of love, sweeping down from heaven, the source of his inspiration, can not be doubted. Though he is the speaker on this occasion, making his own confession, you see he includes his comrades, authenticating the conclusion that those apostles actually did forbid that man to cast out demons in the name of Jesus, because he did not follow them. That man deserved their prayers and their encouragement, as well as their cooperation. He was no bogus worker, but was actually casting out the demons. Now, what is the conclusion? They most imperatively needed the fiery baptism of Pentecost, to burn up their bigotry and sectarian prejudice. Read John’s Gospel, Epistles, and Apocalypse, all of which are swelling rivers of love, and you can not find a solitary vestige of sectarian bigotry or ecclesiastical ostracism.
RETALIATORY SPIRIT OF JAMES & JOHN
Luke 9:51-56 . “And it came to pass, while the days of His taking up [i.e., His crucifixion] were being fulfilled, and He turned His face to go to Jerusalem. And He sent messengers before His face, and they, going, entered into a village of the Samaritans, so as to prepare for Him. And they did not receive Him, because His face was going toward Jerusalem. And His disciples, James and John, seeing, said, Lord, do you wish that we may command fire to descend from heaven and consume them, as Elijah did? And turning, Me rebuked them, and said, Do you not know of what spirit you are? for the Son of man came not to destroy the lives of men, but to save them; and they went on into another village.” He is now journeying to Jerusalem, accompanied by His apostles, having declined to go in time for the opening of the festival, when the road would be thronged with multitudes. Samaria, the old kingdom of Israel under Jeroboam, stretches across Canaan in the middle, from the Jordan on the east, to the Mediterranean Sea on the west, so that the direct route from Galilee to Jerusalem led through Samaria. As He goes along, preaching on His way, and sends out some of His disciples to notify the people, so they might be on hand to hear the Living Word, and profit by the opportunity, entering a Samaritan village and notifying them about Jesus coming, they refuse to receive Him, because He was going to Jerusalem; as there was long an inveterate prejudice on the part of the Samaritans toward the Jews, as they, after Nehemiah rejected Sanballat from a participation in building the temple, had rallied all their forces, and built a magnificent rival temple on Mt. Gerizim, thus becoming the uncompromising rivals of the Jews for the holy mount, the Christhood, and all the blessings of the Abrahamic Covenant; as they were not pure-blooded Jews, but a mixture of the Jews with the heathens, who had been transported thither from the Babylonian Empire by Esarhaddon, the king of Babylon. If His face had not been toward Jerusalem, doubtless they would have received Him, as they were looking for Christ, but wanted Him to be a Samaritan. In all probability, they were near the spot where Elijah had called down fire from heaven, as that was in Samaria, and on the convenient route to Jerusalem. I passed over it, making the same journey. Thus, in all probability, being reminded of that notable event, they thought it an auspicious time to exercise their power. Jesus rebukes them, “Do you not know of what spirit you are?” As the apostles of Christ, they properly belong to the spirit of love, kindness, mercy, sympathy, and forgiveness; whereas Elijah lived under the law dispensation and the theocracy, when Divine retribution was the normal economy. This, however, incontestably illustrates their imperative need of a second work of grace, as James and John were among the most spiritual of the apostles, and still actuated by this retaliatory spirit. If our Savior’s apostles needed the sanctifying fire to burn out of them unholy tempers, we certainly all need it too.
STORM ON THE GALILEAN SEA
Matthew 13:18-27 ; Mark 4:35-41 ; & Luke 8:22-25 ; Luke 9:57-62 . Mark: “And He says to them on that day, it being evening, Let us cross over to the other side. And leaving the multitude, they receive Him, as he was in the ship; and there were many other ships along with Him. And there is a great storm of wind, and the waves poured into the ship, so that it was already sinking.” Matthew says is was covered with the waves, and Luke says they were being filled up and were in danger. The Sea of Galilee, seven hundred feet below the Mediterranean, as a natural consequence of this deep depression, is surrounded by mountains on all sides, except the deep valley through which the Jordan flows from the north and out toward the south. Consequently it is very liable to sudden tornadoes; the atmosphere, pouring down in all directions from the highlands, gets turned about, and develops whirlwinds, which are very dangerous, as it is sixteen and one-half miles long and seven and one-half miles wide, with a coast of seventy-five miles. We were warned by the guidebooks to beware of storms. This we heeded, lighting on the good fortune to get a very valuable boat, which was built last year, in Beyroot, for the especial accommodation of the German emperor. We found it splendid, and, sailing over the sea two days, encountered no storm. “He was lying in the stern, sleeping on a pillow; they arouse Him up, and say to Him, Master, is there no care to Thee that we perish?” Matthew: “And He says to them, Why are ye cowardly, O ye of little faith?” This was a just rebuke; because they might have known that they were in no danger with Him on hoard. This is the secret of perfect love, which always takes Jesus aboard, casting out fear. Mark “And rising, He rebuked the wind and said to the sea, Be quiet!
be calm! And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm. And He said to them, Why are ye afraid? How have you not faith? And they feared with great fear, and continued to say to one another, Who then is this, because the wind and the sea obey Him?” This was a most incontestable miracle, commanding the elements of nature, illustrating to all that He had made the sea and the storms, and had nothing to do but speak, and they promptly obey. We sailed over the same route last November, meanwhile we read the account of this storm and the miraculous calm.
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Godbey, William. "Commentary on Luke 9". "Godbey's Commentary on the New Testament". https://www.studylight.org/
the Fifth Week after Easter