Subjection To Christ -- Luke 17:1-10
“Then said He unto the disciples, It is impossible but that offences will come: but woe unto him, through whom they come! It were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and he cast into the sea, than that he should offend one of these little ones. Take heed to yourselves: if thy brother trespass against thee, rebuke him; and if he repent, forgive him. And if he trespass against thee seven times in a day, and seven times in a day turn again to thee, saying, I repent; thou shalt forgive him. And the apostles said unto the Lord, Increase our faith. And the Lord said, If ye had faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye might say unto this sycamine tree, Be thou plucked up by the root, and be thou planted in the sea; and it should obey you. But which of you, having a servant plowing or feeding cattle, will say unto him by and by, when he is come from the field, Go and sit down to meat? And will not rather say unto him, Make ready wherewith I may sup, and gird thyself, and serve me, till I have eaten and drunken; and afterward thou shalt eat and drink? Doth he thank that servant because he did the things that were commanded him? I trow not. So likewise ye, when ye shall have done all those things which are commanded you, say, We are unprofitable servants: we have done that which was our duty to do”- Luke 17:1-10.
Our blessed Lord has given us a great deal of practical instruction in the four Gospels. This is something we shall never get beyond as long as we are down here in this world. Everything that is spiritual in any part of the Bible is for us. There are certain things, we know, that have a special dispensational application; but all the great moral and spiritual truths apply at all times. As Christians we ought to come back again and again to the teaching given by Jesus in the Gospels that we may learn of Him how to walk and to please God as we pass on through this scene.
He speaks here of four different subjects. First He gives us a solemn warning concerning stumbling-blocks. We read that Jesus said “unto the disciples, It is impossible but that offences will come: but woe unto him, through whom they come!” The word translated offences really means stumbling-block. From time to time there will come occasions of stumbling. Some will forget their responsibilities and allow themselves to be guilty of things that will prove to be stumbling-blocks to others. They will offend or scandalize their weaker brethren, but we are not to excuse these things in ourselves or in others. We may find it easy to say, “I did not mean any harm.” But we are responsible to so walk that others following our example may not go astray into the path of sin through our bad example. We shall have to answer for it if we offend in this way. Jesus said, “It were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and he cast into the sea, than that he should offend one of these little ones.” One might be terrified almost at these words. They should cause us to “walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil.” One might say, “I live my own life, and I do not care what people think. I live according to my own judgment.” But that is not the spirit of Christ, and it is not the spirit that should characterize those who profess to be His disciples. There may be many things which we think are all right, but we are to consider our weaker brother. The apostle Paul dealt with this at great length in his Epistles. In Romans 14:21 he said, “It is good neither to eat flesh, nor to drink wine, nor any thing whereby thy brother stumbleth, or is offended, or is made weak. Hast thou faith? have it to thyself before God.” Do not parade your liberty before another who is likely to be influenced wrongly by your behavior. In the second instance our Lord speaks of the forgiveness of injuries, real or fanciful. In verses three and four He says, “Take heed to yourselves: If thy brother trespass against thee, rebuke him; and if he repent, forgive him. And if he trespass against thee seven times in a day, and seven times in a day turn again to thee, saying, I repent; thou shalt forgive him.” Let us stop here for a moment. “If thy brother trespass against thee, rebuke him.” That is, if you feel your brother has said something or done something to injure you, do not talk about it to other people; do not seek some sympathetic person and pour your troubles into his ear, lest in a little while he spread it all through the church. There is an old saying:
“If you are wise you’ll advertise;
And here are all the points essential:
First, tell your business to a friend;
Then say, ‘It’s strictly confidential.’”
So if somebody has offended you, do not tell it to anyone else. Go to him who has done the wrong and rebuke him for it. “And if he repent, forgive him.” Go straight to the one who has offended you; tell him exactly what he has said or what he has done that is grieving you. That takes real manhood. Sometimes it is so much easier to go round muttering and talking to other people about offences instead of going to the one who has done the wrong and telling him what is on your mind. We are great for avoiding our own responsibility. We would rather pass it on to someone else. We would rather bring a charge before the church. But Jesus plainly tells us we are never to bring a matter like that to the church until we have first gone to the person himself. Go to your brother and rebuke him, and if he says, “I am sorry; I did not mean it that way,” or “I am sorry, forgive me,” then you will be able to straighten the matter out at once, and you are not to say anything about it again; that should be the end of it. If we would act on these words more fully how many hurt feelings would be saved; how many church strifes would be avoided! You say, “Well, I talked to him about it, and he said he repented, and I forgave him; but he did the same thing again. What am I to do now?” The Lord says, “And if he trespass against thee seven times in a day, and seven times in a day turn again to thee, saying, I repent; thou shalt forgive him.” This is enough to make almost anybody lose confidence in a man: he says, “I repent,” and then he does it again and again. I cannot believe in a person like that, you say. Never mind that; you do not have to believe in him if you will only forgive him. If he trespasses seven times in a day and says, “I repent,” then you are to forgive him. Remember on another occasion (Matthew 18:21-22) Peter said, “Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? till seven times? Jesus saith unto him, I say not unto thee, Until seven times: but, until seventy times seven.” I am afraid none of us have ever had to forgive that many times. Of course, we are not called upon to proclaim forgiveness until the other person professes to repent. I do not have to run after someone, calling, “I forgive you! I forgive you!” He is likely to say, “I do not want you to forgive me; I do not need your forgiveness.” But we are to maintain always an attitude of mercy and to love him until at last he breaks down and says he repents. Then we are to forgive as freely as God forgives us.
The third lesson we have here is that of the power of faith. When Jesus told these things to His disciples, they looked at Him, as much as to say, “You are setting up a standard so high we cannot attain to it.” They exclaimed, “Lord, increase our faith. And the Lord said, If ye had faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye might say unto this sycamine tree, Be thou plucked up by the root, and be thou planted in the sea; and it should obey you.” Do not misunderstand that. He did not mean that we are to go about demonstrating our power over nature. Faith, you know, is believing God, and faith leads one to act in accordance with His revealed will. Now if God reveals to you that you should pray that some sycamine tree be plucked up and cast into the sea, He will give faith for it; but that is not the customary thing. What the Lord is teaching is that if you have real faith you will be able to triumph in spite of all outward circumstances. You have heard of the Irishman who said, “I learned to trust God, and He has done such wonderful things for me that if He tells me to jump through a stone wall I’ll jump, and I know He will make a way through.” But do not jump if God has not told you to do it! Faith leads us to act in accordance with the Word of God, and when we do God can be depended upon to see us through.
In the fourth instance, the Lord says some things to keep us from over-estimating our own devoted-ness, or the value of our own service. He uses a very simple illustration: He speaks of a farm-hand working in the field, plowing, or feeding the cattle, and doing other duties, then coming back to the house where it is his business to help prepare the meal and to wait upon the owner of the farm. He says in a case like that, after you have done your plowing, carried food to the cattle and finished a number of other duties that are yours and you come to the house, you do not expect the owner to say to you, “Sit down here while I prepare the meal, and I shall be glad to wait on you.” No; you are not looking for that. You are a hired hand, a servant, and you are appointed to do certain things for which the owner pays you. You do not feel that any special commendation is due to you for doing that for which you are being paid. The arrangements were made when you came to work on the farm, and so you do not expect any special consideration. You do not say, “I have given my time, and I think I deserve a great deal more attention.” So the Lord warns His disciples not to allow themselves to be carried away with the idea that because of their service they deserve special commendation. We are bought with His precious blood, and our work is to serve with gladness. We are but imperfect workmen at best. He says, “When ye shall have done all those things which are commanded you, say, We are unprofitable servants: we have done that which was our duty to do.” It is our duty to continue in the service of our Lord Jesus Christ. We leave it to Him to appraise our work. He will take note of all service for Himself, and everything that has been done out of love for Him will be rewarded, even to a cup of cold water given in His name.
Where Are The Nine? -- Luke 17:11-19
“And it came to pass, as He went to Jerusalem, that He passed through the midst of Samaria and Galilee. And as He entered into a certain village, there met Him ten men that were lepers, which stood afar off: and they lifted up their voices, and said, Jesus, Master, have mercy on us. And when He saw them, He said unto them, Go show yourselves unto the priests. And it came to pass, that, as they went, they were cleansed. And one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, and with a loud voice glorified God, and fell down on his face at His feet, giving Him thanks: and he was a Samaritan. And Jesus answering said, Were there not ten cleansed? but where are the nine? There are not found that returned to give glory to God, save this stranger. And He said unto him, Arise, go thy way: thy faith hath made thee whole”- Luke 17:11-19.
This is one of the incidents of our Lord’s life recorded only in this Gospel. There are quite a few parables which Luke alone gives us, and there are several of His miracles of which no other Evangelist tells us. This is an outstanding instance. Jesus had left the upper parts of Galilee and was now on His way to Jerusalem for the last time. On two other occasions He had gone there to keep the feast of the Passover, and on one occasion to keep a winter feast. Soon He was to partake of the Passover with His disciples for the last time, and then to die as the One of whom every Passover lamb was but a type. He started out from the western shore of the Sea of Galilee, passing through the province of Galilee into Samaria, and thence over the Jordan and down through Perea until He came to the Jordan ford, opposite the city of Jericho, and so on to Jerusalem.
“And He entered into a certain village.” We do not know its name but it was evidently near the border of Galilee and Samaria. As He drew near the village, “There met him ten men that were lepers, which stood afar off.” In keeping with the law of Moses when a man was found to be a leper he had to leave his home and friends and dwell apart from them in the wilderness. When anyone came near him he had to cry, “Unclean! unclean!” There is a previous instance of a leper who came to the feet of our Lord and besought Him to heal him, and the Lord touched him and the leper was cleansed immediately. But these ten, having respect to the law, felt that they did not dare draw near; so they stood afar off and cried, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us.” That reminds me of a certain class of sinners-men who feel their sins so keenly that they do not have the assurance that they are free to draw near to Christ. But the fact is, Christ invites sinners of every kind to draw near to Him. He has ever a welcome for them, no matter how defiled they may be. But these men were under the law and acted in accordance with it when they called to Him from a distance. They were tremendously in earnest. The great trouble with many today is that while they acknowledge their need of a Saviour and admit they are sinners, yet actually they are not in earnest about finding salvation. If you speak to them and press upon them the importance of coming to Christ, they say, “I know I should be a Christian, and some day I intend to trust Christ.” But they do not come to the point of settling the matter now. Hell is filled with people who expected to come some day to Jesus for salvation. I do not suppose there is a lost soul in the pit below who ever intended to be there; everyone thought that some time things would be changed, and they would feel more like closing with the gospel invitation. They hoped, like Felix, for a more convenient day. But a more convenient season never came, and they, unsaved, unforgiven, uncleansed, passed out of time into eternity. Oh, if you are still out of Christ, I plead that, like these ten unclean lepers, you will be in earnest about the question of your deliverance. The lepers were so anxious to be healed, so desirous to be cleansed, that though they did not feel they dared to come near to Jesus, they lifted up their voices and cried from afar, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us.” No one ever cried to Him like that to be refused; no one ever came to Him for salvation to be turned down. You need not be afraid to come. It is written (Romans 10:13), “Whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.”
“And when He saw them, He said unto them, Go show yourselves unto the priests.” Now I fancy that was a disappointment to these men. They had heard that the Lord Jesus healed immediately other people of all kinds of diseases. He had cleansed many lepers by a word or a touch. He had said to one, “I will; be thou clean,” and the leper was cleansed. But the Lord does not deal with everyone in the same way. In response to the plea of these lepers He tells them to go show themselves to the priest. In the book of Leviticus (Chapter 14) we read that when a man was healed of leprosy he was to go and show himself to the priest, and then the priest was to offer certain sacrifices for him in order that he might be officially cleansed and restored to his place in the congregation of the Lord. So the Saviour said to these men, “Go show yourselves unto the priests,” implying that ere they reached the priest they would be cleansed. There would be no use to show themselves to the priest if they were still leprous, for in that condition there was nothing he could do for them. Possibly everyone of them, with the exception of the Samaritan, had been to the priest long ago, and he had proclaimed them lepers and told them they would have to live apart in a desert place. They might have hesitated and said, “Well, Master, look at these hands; look at these blotches upon our faces; we are covered with leprosy. Why should we go to the priest?” But they did not hesitate. They knew what His words implied: they would be cleansed. And so they turned to go as He had commanded. They were acting in obedience to the Word of our Lord, and cleansing came. It is just as true today when men and women act upon the Word, our Lord delivers them. I think I can see these men as they went along the road trying to cheer one another as best they could. Their faces must have been horrible to look upon, their bodies in a terrible state; but on they go to Jerusalem. Suddenly one of the men turns to another and says, “Oh, you are healed!” The other exclaims, “I thought I felt some change taking place. Have all those blotches disappeared from my face? Why, you have none on your face!” All begin to look at each other and find that each of them has been healed, and they recognize that the healing had been wrought by the Lord. How they must have rejoiced!
Jesus had said, “Go show yourselves unto the priests.” Why did He want them to do this? Because it would be a testimony to the priests. For fifteen hundred years after the law was written we never read of one solitary Israelite who had been cleansed. Miriam, Moses’ sister who became leprous, was healed; and many years later Naaman the Syrian also was healed, but he was not an Israelite, and naturally he was not required to obey the law about going to the priests. Otherwise we never read in all the Old Testament records of one leper being cleansed during fifteen hundred years, and the priests must have wondered why that fourteenth chapter of Leviticus was in the Bible. They would naturally say, “I have read that chapter over and over but have never had to apply it.” But when Jesus came things were different. One leper after another was sent to the temple at Jerusalem to be pronounced clean, and when he appeared before the priests he was found to be healed of his leprosy. What a witness this was to those priests in Israel. They saw so many testimonies to the power of the Lord Jesus Christ that it ought to have been easy for them to believe that He was the Son of God. So in keeping with the law these lepers journeyed on toward the temple.
But there was something even higher than that. We find that one of the lepers, who was a Samaritan, when he saw that he was healed of this awful disease, and the terrible ulcers were gone from his flesh, turned about and hastened to the feet of Jesus. He felt there was no use for him to go on to the priests. He went back to the One who healed him, “and with a loud voice glorified God and fell down on his face at His feet, giving Him thanks.” At whose feet? Notice what it says: “With a loud voice glorified God, and fell down on his face at His feet.” When you have a pronoun like that you must have a noun as a precedent of it. The noun that precedes His is God. He realized that God was there in the person of Jesus of Nazareth, and so he glorified God and fell down at the feet of God manifested in flesh, to worship and adore Him. He realized that only God could cleanse a leper, and that Jesus was worthy of worship and adoration. This man, who might have been considered the very worst of the whole company, manifested more spiritual insight than the rest, who were Israelites. The Jews ordinarily despised the Samaritans. We are told in the fourth chapter of John that the Jews have no dealings with the Samaritans. But Jesus healed this poor leprous Samaritan. His heart was filled with praise and thanksgiving for the blessing he had received. It is true that the more God does for a person the more grateful he is likely to be. People are sometimes amazed when they hear the testimonies of men and women who have been saved in missions, who have been outcasts and have been delivered from gross sin, and now their hearts are filled with such praise and thanksgiving that are far above that of those who have been Christians for years and lived lives of respectability. The more sin there is in the life to be forgiven the more a person realizes how wonderfully God has dealt with him. When this cleansed leper fell down at the feet of Jesus and worshipped Him, did Jesus resent it? Did He say, “Oh, no; do not worship Me; worship God. I am only a Man?” No; Jesus gladly accepted the worship, for He was the Eternal Son who came from God, and He was going back to God. But He asked a question which indicated disappointment or a grieved spirit: He “answering said, Were there not ten cleansed? but where are the nine? There are not found that returned to give glory to God, save this stranger.” Well, Jesus had told them to go to the priests, but this man felt there was something that must come first: he must go back to the One who had healed him and tell Him how grateful he was for his cleansing. If there had been the same gratitude in the hearts of the others they, too, would have fallen down at the feet of Jesus, then gone on to the temple to show themselves to the priests as a testimony. They did the thing Christ had bidden them, but this Samaritan had recognized there was a higher responsibility, and he returned to worship and praise the Lord ere he went on to the priests in the temple. Is there not a lesson in this for us? There is so little real worship on the part of Christian people today. Even when believers come together so often it is not to worship God. Do we realize God is seeking worshippers? I am afraid too many have the idea that God is seeking workers, but there is something that must come before work, and that is worship. To be in the presence of God with a heart filled with adoration means more to Him than to busy ourselves in His service. We shall not serve any less acceptably or earnestly because we worship first, rather than if we gave all our time to service. The Lord Jesus is still saying, “Where are the nine?” He appreciates those who come into His presence with worshipful hearts, but He misses those who have been saved by His grace and do not return to give Him glory.
Then He turned to this man and gave him the assurance that perhaps the others did not receive. It is one thing to be cleansed, to have forgiveness, to have salvation; it is another thing to have the full assurance based on the Word of God. And so Jesus turned to this Samaritan and said, “Arise, go thy way: thy faith hath made thee whole.” I take that expression as an indication of far more than the assurance that he was physically whole. I take it the Lord was telling this man that he was not only healed of his disease, but also that he was spiritually cleansed because of the faith which he manifested. I can see him rejoicing as he returns to his own home which he had left so long ago when afflicted with this dreadful disease. I can see his friends retreating as they see him coming, and calling out to him, “Don’t come near us; you are unclean!” But he answers, “You do not need to be afraid, for I am healed, and He who cleansed me made me perfectly whole.” That is what Jesus is still doing for those who trust Him fully; they find themselves cleansed completely from sin. Then it should be our delight to come into the presence of God to worship Him and adore Him for His matchless grace. How little time we usually take in telling the Lord how grateful we are for what He has done for us. This is so important. Take that little prayer our Lord taught His disciples: Have you noticed that about two-thirds of it is taken up with worship and only one-third with petitions? Oh, may the Lord teach us more and more the blessedness of worship, of coming into His presence to praise and adore Him, and then may we go forward to serve in newness of spirit!
Christ's Second Advent -- Luke 17:20-37
“And when He was demanded of the Pharisees, when the kingdom of God should come, He answered them and said, The kingdom of God cometh not with observation: neither shall they say, Lo here! or, lo there! for, behold, the kingdom of God is within you. And He said unto the disciples, The days will come, when ye shall desire to see one of the days of the Son of Man, and ye shall not see it. And they shall say to you, See here; or, see there: go not after them, nor follow them. For as the lightning, that lighteneth out of the one part under heaven, shineth unto the other part under heaven; so shall also the Son of Man be in His day. But first must He suffer many things, and be rejected of this generation. And as it was in the days of Noe, so shall it be also in the days of the Son of Man. They did eat, they drank, they married wives, they were given in marriage, until the day that Noe entered into the ark, and the flood came, and destroyed them all. Likewise also as it was in the days of Lot; they did eat, they drank, they bought, they sold, they planted, they builded; but the same day that Lot went out of Sodom it rained fire and brimstone from heaven, and destroyed them all. Even thus shall it be in the day when the Son of Man is revealed. In that day, he which shall be upon the housetop, and his stuff in the house, let him not come down to take it away: and he that is in the field, let him likewise not return back. Remember Lot’s wife. Whosoever shall seek to save his life shall lose it; and whosoever shall lose his life shall preserve it. I tell you, in that night there shall be two men in one bed; the one shall be taken, and the other shall be left. Two women shall be grinding together; the one shall be taken, and the other left. Two men shall be in the field; the one shall be taken, and the other left. And they answered and said unto Him, Where, Lord? And He said unto them, Wheresoever the body is, thither will the eagles be gathered together”- Luke 17:20-37.
There are several distinct sections to this portion of scripture. In Luke 17:20-21 we have the question of the Pharisees concerning the kingdom of God, and our Lord’s answer. Remember, Jesus had been ministering in the land of Palestine for three and one-half wonderful years, and He had given evidence after evidence of His Messiahship. On more than one occasion the Father’s voice had proclaimed from heaven, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased;” John the Baptist bore witness of Him before He came and after; His own works testified to His true character, to His Deity, in that He was the Son of God as well as the Son of Man. But these blind Pharisees did not see the truth concerning Jesus. We say sometimes that there are none so blind as those who will not see. These Pharisees were like that. They would not recognize His authority; and therefore nothing that He did, no witness that the Father bore of Him, nothing John the Baptist had said, could convince them. They were determined to refuse His claims. Now they came and put the question to Him: “When will the kingdom of God come?” It was as much as to say, You have been preaching about the kingdom of God; when will this kingdom actually appear? He answered, “The kingdom of God cometh not with observation.” That is, it will not come with outward show. They were looking for the Son of David to appear among them, to raise up an army and deliver them from the Roman yoke and proclaim Himself King over all the world. But Jesus did not have any such program in mind. He came to sow the good seed of the kingdom, and so He said the kingdom would not come with an outward show. He declared, “The kingdom of God is within you.” There is a question among competent Christian scholars as to the exact meaning of this expression. If we take it just as it is translated here-that the kingdom of God is within us-then it means that the kingdom of God has to do with the acknowledgement of the Lord’s authority in our own lives, sanctifying the Lord God in our own hearts, recognizing Him as the righteous Sovereign. On the other hand, there are many who believe that this expression should have been translated, “the kingdom of God is among you.” That is, the kingdom was already present in embryo. Frankly, I rather think that is the real meaning of the Lord’s words. These Pharisees asked when the kingdom would be set up, and Jesus said the kingdom is here now, and you have not eyes to see. The kingdom of God is among you. The King Himself is here, attended by the members of His cabinet. In the regeneration, the golden age to which men have always been looking forward, He says, as recorded in Matthew 19:28, “Ye also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.” The twelve apostles, in that sense, were His cabinet, the official members of His kingdom. So the kingdom of God was in their midst and they knew it not.
After the Pharisees had left He turned to His disciples and gave them a word of warning. He was going away as He had told them several times before, but they had not understood. In His absence they would be exposed to many dangers and to false leaders. So Jesus said to them, “The days will come, when ye shall desire to see one of the days of the Son of Man, and ye shall not see it.” It is as though He said, You will be longing for the Son of Man and you will not see Me, I will be absent from you, away in the heavens. “And they shall say to you, See here; or, see there: go not after them, nor follow them.” Time after time through the centuries since Jesus went back to the glory, men have appeared who have given out that they had come to fulfil the promises of God, each claiming to be the Christ. But those who bear in mind the Saviour’s warning are not deceived by these charlatans. When Jesus returns again it will not be in weakness but in power. He will not come into this world a second time through the gate of birth, but will be revealed from heaven in power and great glory. “For as the lightning, that lighteneth out of the one part under heaven, shineth unto the other part under heaven; so shall also the Son of Man be in His day.” “The Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with His mighty angels, in flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God.” His advent will be altogether different from that in which He came in lowly grace to give His life for the salvation of a lost world.
But the Lord reminded His disciples that first He must suffer many things and be rejected of that generation, even as it came to pass. He is the rejected One still, even though throughout Christendom people profess to revere His Name; but the great majority have never yet opened their hearts to Him and owned Him as their Redeemer and King.
“Our Lord is now rejected;
And by the world disowned,
By the many still neglected,
And by the few enthroned;
But soon He’ll come in glory,
The hour is drawing nigh,
For the crowning day is coming
Some have an idea that He will not come again Until the whole world is converted, until His gospel has permeated the nations, and all have acknowledged His righteous rule; but that is not what Jesus taught; it is not what He told His disciples. He said, “And as it was in the days of Noe, so shall it be also in the days of the Son of Man.” The whole world was not converted in the days of Noah. “They did eat, they drank, they married wives, they were given in marriage, until the day that Noe entered into the ark, and the flood came, and destroyed them all.” Corruption and violence filled the earth in those days. There were a few families where God was known, but they finally dwindled down to one-Noah and his household. When the Lord comes the second time He will not find the whole world waiting to receive Him, but sin will be rampant as in the days of Noah. Observe that the antediluvians were interested in the ordinary things that occupy the minds of men and women. They did not believe the message of Noah, but lived in utter indifference to God until the day when Noah entered into the ark, and the flood came and destroyed them. So we gather from this passage that the world will go on as it is going now. Men will be occupied with the various affairs of life but indifferent to the claims of Jesus until that hour when He returns. He is coming back in power and glory, and men will realize too late how foolish they have been to reject Him.
The Lord uses another illustration along the same line. He says, “Likewise also as it was in the days of Lot; they did eat, they drank, they bought, they sold, they planted, they builded; but the same day that Lot went out of Sodom it rained fire and brimstone from heaven, and destroyed them all.” There is nothing wrong in these things to which He calls attention. There is nothing wrong in eating and drinking, in buying or selling; there is nothing wrong in planting or building. These things are perfectly right in themselves, but it is wrong to be so occupied with them as to forget the things of God and eternity. Jesus did not even mention the terrible sins that characterized the cities of the plain; He speaks only of ordinary things. They were living as though there were no judgment to come, as though there were no God to whom they were responsible. And while they were going on like this the judgment came; it came so suddenly that there was no escape from it. We read, “But the same day that Lot went out of Sodom it rained fire and brimstone from heaven, and destroyed them all.” The Lord makes the application: “Even thus shall it be in the day when the Son of Man is revealed.” Because that day will be one of terrible confusion here on the earth, He says, “In that day, he which shall be upon the housetop, and his stuff in the house, let him not come down to take it away: and he that is in the field, let him likewise not return back.” That is, there will be no use trying to save something out of the wrecked world; it will be too late. It will be useless to attempt a way of escape for men who have rejected the only One in whom they might have found security.
In just three words our Lord next gives a very solemn warning: “Remember Lot’s wife.” Why should we remember her? Because she was almost saved, and yet she was lost. She was a wife of a godly man; she had even entertained angels in her home; she was in the way to being saved, but she was destroyed at last. Why? Because after she had left Sodom, her heart was still there. She had never taken her true place before God, and when Sodom went down she went down with it. We may well remember Lot’s wife. Especially does this warning apply to those who belong in Christian homes, who have had godly parents, who have heard the Word all their lives, and with whom the Spirit of God has striven. They have said in their hearts, “I ought to turn to Christ, I ought to trust Him, but I cannot yield myself to Him now.” Remember, oh, remember Lot’s wife! Remember, one may be almost saved but lost forever.
“‘Almost’ cannot avail;
‘Almost’ is but to fail!
Sad, sad, that bitter wail-
Our Lord adds, “Whosoever shall seek to save his life shall lose it; and whosoever shall lose his life shall preserve it.” That is, he who lives for self, for pleasure, or wealth, for what this earth has to offer, will find at last that he has missed everything really worth-while. Whereas, he who is content, for Christ’s sake, to forego what men,of the world value will find that he has riches for eternity of inestimable worth. I presume that during the years Lot dwelt in Sodom he had made quite a little fortune. Probably he had a very fine residence. I gather from the Scriptures that he had succeeded in making a name for himself. We read that he “sat in the gate of Sodom,” which implies that he was a judge. When the judgment fell, Lot was saved, but only by fire. He got out of Sodom in time, but he lost everything for which he had labored during all those years. He himself was saved, but everything else was lost. There are many who will be in heaven because they have really trusted Christ, but who will find that all their works will be burned up at the judgment-seat of Christ.
Jesus uses next a very striking illustration to show the separations that will take place in the day of His coming. In one part of the world it will be night when that event takes place. So He says: “I tell you, in that night there shall be two men in one bed; the one shall be taken, and the other shall be left.” In another part of the world it will be sunrise, and women will be preparing the morning meal. So He tells us, “Two women shall be grinding together; the one shall be taken, and the other left.” Elsewhere it will be full day, and He declares, “Two men shall be in the field; the one shall be taken, and other left.” How solemn! It speaks of an eternal separation. His coming is certain, but the time is uncertain. It behooves us all to be ready. When He comes judgment will be meted out to all Christ-rejecters.
“Wheresoever the body is, thither will the eagles be gathered together.” Dispensationally, the carcass, refers to the putrid mass of false profession centered in Jerusalem in the last days. The eagles are the armies of the nations that will be gathered together against that city. But looked at morally, the lesson is a solemn one for every unsaved person who is found out of Christ in the day of His wrath, who will be exposed to the wrath of God. Like eagles, or really vultures, devouring decaying carcasses, so the judgments of God will fall on all who have spurned His grace.
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Ironside, H. A. "Commentary on Luke 17". Ironside's Notes on Selected Books. https://www.studylight.org/
the Second Week after Epiphany