Peter the Son and Servant
We well remember a stained, art-glass window in which the artist had depicted Peter floundering in the sea of Galilee and half drowned. That Peter began to sink we know, but why emphasize it all the time and forget about how he walked on the water.
The fact that Peter cursed and swore and said, "I know not this Man of whom ye speak" is no reason why we should forget the wonderful deeds of greatness which he wrought. It is our joy to study the other side of Peter's life.
1. His call. In Matthew 4:18-19 we read. "And Jesus, walking by the Sea of Galilee, saw two brethren, Simon called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea: for they were fishers. And He said unto them, Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men." In this call, which came to Peter, there are two things worthy of note.
(1) The Lord did not mention the future failures and the false steps which would enter Peter's life. He merely set forth that he was to be a fisher of men. That He knew Peter's coming mistakes, we have no doubt. On one occasion Christ said, "Thou art Peter," but the Lord saw Peter beyond the years of his preparation, as a Gibraltar rock, standing firm for the faith, even unto the death.
(2) Peter did not hesitate to obey. Thus, in the very beginning" of his discipleship, we see prompt and immediate obedience. Here was a man who with his heart, followed his Lord.
(3) Peter's confession. There is a wonderful little touch in Luke 5:1-39 concerning Peter's call. There were two ships standing by the lake as Jesus came by, but the fishermen were gone out of them, and were washing their nets. Christ entered into one of these ships which was Peter's and asked him to thrust out from the land. There, for awhile, Christ sat and taught the people who were standing around on the shore.
When He had finished speaking, He said unto Simon, "Launch out into the deep, and let down your nets for a draught." Incidentally, the Lord was teaching that a kindness on Simon's part in loaning the use of his ship should be repaid. Peter hesitated, saying, "Master, we have toiled all night, and have taken nothing: nevertheless at Thy Word I will let down the net." When they had done this, they enclosed a great multitude of fishes: and their net brake.
As Peter saw what had happened, he fell down at Jesus' knees saying, "Depart from me; for I am a sinful man, O Lord." To us this is one of the most beautiful manifestations of Peter's character in the Bible. First, he was quick to obey; secondly, he was just as quick to confess his faults.
Withal, he never refused to acknowledge the Lordship of Christ.
2. His leaving all to follow Jesus. After the miraculous draught of fishes Jesus again said unto Simon the same words which we found in Matthew, "Fear not; from henceforth thou shalt catch men." Then come the wonderful words, "And when they had brought their ships to land, they forsook all, and followed Him."
God grant that every one, both young and old, will be as ready to leave their all, as was Peter and his comrade fisherman. This act on Peter's part was never regretted. He never sought to turn his face back again, permanently, toward his home and his nets, and away from his call.
I. THE STORMY SEA (Matthew 14:29 )
1. Peter's walking on the water. The story of the tempestuous sea and of the disparaging disciples with Christ coming to them walking upon the waves is found in Matthew 14:1-36 . In Matthew 14:28 of that chapter we read: "Peter answered Him and said: Lord, if it be Thou, bid me come unto Thee on the water." Peter seemed to be making a test as to whether it was a spirit and apparition of Christ walking upon the water, or whether it was Christ Himself. The Lord replied. Then Peter quickly responded and walked on the water to go to Jesus.
The fact that he began afterward to sink may mar but it does not obliterate the fact that he truly walked on the water. He did something that no other disciple and no other person in the wide world excepting his Lord had ever done. He showed us the truth of the statement, "According to your faith be it unto you." He did that which could not naturally be done.
2. In walking upon the water, Peter demonstrated to us forever the better way to meet our troubles. The disciples pulled at the oars, but he walked the waves.
How many there are who meet their troubles by gritting their teeth and dogmatically saying, "I will pull myself through." It is far better to take our eyes off of our own strength and to fix them on the Lord Jesus. "We can never, alone, successfully overcome.
"The way is dark, O Father,
And troubles linger nigh,
Reach from above, and take my hand,
Hear Thou my feeble cry.
"Take Thou my hand and lead me on,
Across the turbid wave,
I call for help, I look to Thee,
For Thou alone canst save."
Thus Peter knew not only how to walk on the sea, but he also knew how to cry to Christ in the hour of his distress.
II. PETER'S GREAT CONFESSION (Matthew 16:16 )
1. The Lord's question. The Lord Jesus came with His disciples to Caesarea Philippi. It was there that He said unto His own: "Whom do men say that I the Son of Man am?" Immediately, the disciples responded: "Some say that Thou art John the Baptist; some, Elias; and others, Jeremias, or one of the prophets." This was what the people, the populace, said of Christ. The Lord then asked: "But whom say ye that I am?" "And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the Living God."
2. The glory of Peter's response. Hidden away in Peter's words, "Thou art the Christ, the Son of the Living God," are two great considerations.
(1) There is the contrast between the worldly and the Christian conception of our Saviour. The world acknowledges Jesus as no more than a man. They will grant Him human greatness, they willingly enroll His Name with that of John the Baptist, and Jeremias, and other great religious leaders. However, they will not grant unto Him His own claims that He came forth from the Father, and that He was in every way equal with God.
To the contrary, the Christian with Peter, acknowledges Christ's claims to Deity, and places upon His brow the coronet, Son of God, and God the Son. In the contrast of these two confessions concerning Christ, there is a chasm as deep and as wide as the gulf that separated Abraham and Lazarus from the rich man. The gulf is impassable.
(2) There is an inside look into Peter's own heart throbs. He recognized Jesus both as the Messiah, and the Son of God. We will see more of the depth of the meaning of Peter's confession as we proceed.
3. The Lord's response to Peter's confession.
(1) "Blessed art thou, Simon Bar-jona." Yea, and blessed is every man who makes this acknowledgment of Peter's, his confession of faith.
(2) "Flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee." The Lord immediately crowned Peter's confession with the statement that it was Divinely inspired by His Father who is in Heaven. This meant that what Peter had said of Christ was what the Father had said at the baptism. The voice of the one was the voice of the other.
(3) "Upon this rock will I build My Church." Peter's confession was so glorious, so wonderful, so true, that the Lord Jesus immediately announced that such a confession was the rock upon which He would establish the Church.
Let the present day ecclesiasticism remember that, to the extent the Church denies that our Lord is the Christ the Son of the Living God, to that extent the Church is building upon the sand, and great shall be the fall thereof.
III. PETER'S RUSHING TO THE EMPTY SEPULCHER (John 20:3-6 )
1. Peter's denial was now behind him. The man who had denied his Lord with an oath had spent three miserable days. He had, after his denial, crept along to some point of vantage from whence he could stand and see Christ who was dying on the Tree. We know this, because he said that he was an eyewitness of the crucifixion. He had, no doubt, heard the Lord in the seven cries of the Cross, but he had heard no word of comfort to himself. Still brokenhearted because of his sin, still loving Christ unto the death, he stood there hoping, but hoping in vain, for some word of pardon from the lips of his dying Lord.
After Christ was dead it seemed to Peter that a chaos had entered his soul as deep and as dark as that which hung over the primeval earth.
2. Peter begotten to a lively hope. When Mary came to Simon Peter and to John announcing that the stone was gone from the sepulcher and that they knew not where they had laid the body of the Lord; Peter and John ran together. Their hearts were no doubt filled half with fear and half with hope. John did outrun Peter, and came first to the sepulcher. Stooping down he saw the linen clothes lying, yet went he not in. Peter, following, came up to John, pushed by him, and went into the sepulcher. John followed after Peter. As they stood there together beholding the napkin not lying with the linen clothes, but wrapped together in a place by itself, they saw and believed.
To me this whole scene gives an insight into Peter's character as does no other Scripture. There was nothing left in Peter of the desire to sulk. He was no longer up the miff tree, as he was when he followed afar off. There was nothing of the old self left within him, which desired to deny the Lord. He was still heavy-hearted because of his perfidy, but his heart was all aglow with love and expectant hope. Once more life seemed worth the while. A new light was kindled in his eye, a new ambition stirred his soul.
IV. PETER'S RECOMMISSION (John 21:19 )
Three things stand out before us.
1. Peter had his work restored. To him Christ said, "Feed My lambs"; "feed My sheep"; "feed My sheep." And how Peter did work. No task assigned to him by the Holy Spirit seemed too hard, no sacrifice too great. He spent himself in earnest toil.
2. Peter had his second call. To him Christ said once more, "Follow Me." How meaningful were these words to Peter. Before Christ gave the call, He announced by what death Peter would glorify God; therefore Peter knew what it meant to follow on. Nevertheless, undaunted, he pressed on his way, until the prophesied martyrdom became his glorious privilege.
"I saw the martyr at the stake,
The flames did not his spirit shake,
Nor death, his soul appall;
I asked him whence his strength was given,
He looked triumphantly to Heaven,
And answered, Christ is All."
Even so it was with Peter. He was faithful even unto death.
3. Peter strengthening his brethren. The Lord in speaking to Peter of his wanderings, added, but "when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren." This is just what Peter did do. His two Epistles bear witness to his fidelity in this very thing. How illuminating are the opening words of the First Epistle "Peter, an Apostle of Jesus Christ." And he was an Apostle, one sent of God.
How noteworthy are the words, "That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the Appearing of Jesus Christ."
Thus did Peter ever hold before suffering saints the glory of Christ's coming, as their reward and joy, supernal and eternal. Thus did Peter encourage the saints of his day, and thus does he encourage us to press on unto the end unto the glory that shall be revealed.
V. HIS CONFESSION (Acts 1:16 )
1. In the upper room. How delightful it would have been could we have slipped into that upper room where abode both Peter and James and John, and the other disciples, and Mary the mother of Jesus, and the faithful women. How we would have listened, with ears alert, as Peter arose and said, "Men and brethren, this Scripture must needs have been fulfilled, which the Holy Ghost by the mouth of David spake."
Who is this who makes so strong a statement about the Scriptures, their authorship and their certainty? It is Peter, the one who said once, "I know not the Man." It is Peter the stalwart, but vacillating disciple of the three years past.
Peter quoted the Scripture with the conviction that their authority was final, and their meaning was sure.
2. On the day of Pentecost. How marvelous it would have been could we have stood with the crowds at Pentecost, as Peter sounded forth his words of faithful testimony. He had there no appearance of the man who had quailed before the Temple maids.
With courage undaunted and with a faith touched with fire, he heralded Christ as the Man, crucified, slain, raised, and seated at the right hand of God. With gripping power he thundered out the words, "Him, * * ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain." That day there stood a gaint in faith and boldness, declaring the whole counsel of God.
3. Under the test of persecution. It would have stirred our soul, if we could have slipped in among the people and could have heard the threatenings of the rulers, as Annas, with others, questioned the disciples asking, By what power and by what name, have ye healed the lame man who sat at the beautiful gate.
Now watch Peter! Without a tremor upon his breath, he lifts up his voice with all authority, and clothed with the Spirit he says: "If we this day be examined of the good deed done to the impotent man, by what means he is made whole; be it known unto you all, * * that by the Name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom ye crucified, whom God raised from the dead, even by Him doth this man stand here before you whole."
VI. PETER'S GREAT OBJECTIVE (Acts 2:38-39 )
Behold a man who once had sought a chief place, who had once thought of self! What was the passion of his heart as now he preached?
1. Behold him at Pentecost. First he sought to glorify Christ. He did this throughout his discourse. He emphasized Christ's God-ordered death; His God-given resurrection; His God-accepted exaltation to the right hand of the Father; and His glorious anticipated return to reign on David's throne.
Secondly, Peter sought to lead the people to repentance, conversion, the remission of sins, to water baptism, and to that great climactic the receiving of the Holy Ghost. Peter, herein, set before us all, a ministry that remains most vital.
May we never cease to preach repentance, remission, baptism, and the filling or receiving of the Spirit. Study the Acts of the Apostles, and you will discover how faithfully and forcefully the Apostles always pressed this same testimony. They never failed withal, to enforce the definite receiving of the Spirit as the one chief need of all believers in life and service,
2. Behold him at Caesarea. When Peter was called by Cornelius God prepared him to go willingly and undaunted, by the letting down of the four-cornered sheet. While Peter was doubting in himself what the vision meant the men from Caesarea arrived, bringing the message from Cornelius. Peter therefore went doubting nothing.
How marvelous was the truth that Peter preached. It was a touch of the Pentecostal sermon over again. Once more Christ crucified and raised up was definitely set forth. The remission of sins was proclaimed, through the Name of Christ upon whomsoever believeth. As Peter yet spake, the Holy Ghost fell upon all that heard the Word. Then Peter said: "Can any man forbid water, that these should not be baptized, which have received the Holy Ghost as well as we?"
Thus' we have seen two glimpses of Peter the mighty preacher of a mighty Gospel.
VII. A RESUME OF GOD'S MINISTRY AND MESSAGE THROUGH PETER (2 Peter 3:17-18 )
We have sought in this study to show Peter as the stalwart son and servant of his Lord. We believe this will be established in the minds of the students. Peter did begin to sink as he walked upon the waters. Let us, however, consider how Peter's life and ministry following Pentecost radiated not only the glory of his own Christian integrity but the glory of his glorious Lord.
Perhaps it is in his Epistles which he wrote under inspiration of the Spirit that we can catch just a few glimpses of his great conceptions of the faith. These we will sum up under the following statements:
1. Peter proclaimed election as based on the foreknowledge of God the Father (1 Peter 1:1 ).
2. Peter set forth the double security of the Christian's inheritance in Heaven and of the believer kept by the power of God for that inheritance (1 Peter 1:4-5 ).
3. Peter emphasized the martyr's victorious entrance into the glory of his Lord (1 Peter 1:6-7 ).
4. Peter asserted the inspiration of the Prophets and their own diligent study of their inspired prophecies (1 Peter 1:10-11 ).
5. Peter emphasized redemption through the Blood of Christ (1 Peter 1:18-20 ).
6. Peter set forth regeneration in unmistakable words (1 Peter 1:23 ).
7. Peter told of the glory and endurance of the Word of God (1 Peter 1:23, 1 Peter 1:25 ).
8. Peter plead with saints to recognize in Christ the Living Stone (1 Peter 2:6-8 ).
9. Peter pressed the call to saints to separation and holy living during their earthly pilgrimage (1 Peter 2:9-12 ).
Thus we could go on. As we have studied the two Epistles of Peter we find that there is no realm of Divine truth which is overlooked. The great messages of the Bible were certainly accepted and preached by Simon, the son of Jonas.
We delight to see how the Apostle Peter got down where people lived. How he took them by the hand and led them along with every encouragement through the darkness of suffering and trial that beset them. We are rejoiced to behold Peter speaking to the elders of the Churches as he exhorts them to be faithful shepherds abstaining from the love of money and from becoming lords over God's heritage.
In all of Peter's writings the 1st chapter of the Second Epistle will remain with us as his epochal message.
1. He urges saints to add every Christian virtue to their faith.
2. He tells them that by so doing they will obtain an abundant entrance into the Kingdom of our Lord and Saviour.
3. With glowing and ascending beauty he sets forth the Second Coming of Christ urging saints to study the more sure Word of prophecy.
4. Peter finally warns concerning false prophets and urges saints in spite of the scoffers of the last days to grow in grace and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.
5. Peter's final word is concerning Jesus Christ his Lord and Saviour to whom he ascribes glory both now and forever.
A little girl in a Chinese village where a China inland missionary lived watched this man as he went about his Master's work. She saw him going to the homes where there were sickness, death, and sorrow; and she watched him as he moved about that village. She never heard him speak in public. One day she went to another village, and followed some girls into a mission school. There she heard a lady talking to them, in Chinese, about some one full of gentleness and sympathy and kindness, some one to whom little children came. One of the little girls asked the visitor: "Do you know who it was?" "Yes," she replied, "she was talking about the missionary that lives in our village." She had never heard about Jesus Christ, and when the teacher described the beautiful life of Jesus Christ she thought she was describing the missionary.
That missionary was a living witness for Christ, a walking Bible. Or, to change the figure, he was bearing the Christ-fruit, so the little girl knew he was a Christian. All who saw him knew he was a Christian because he acted like one.
It is the duty of every Christian to be a living witness for Christ. The testimony can be of two kinds, Up testimony and life testimony. We must both "by our lips and lives express the holy Gospel we profess." H.
1. Testing the tempter. At first thought this heading may seem impossible. Was the tempter the one whom the Lord was testing? Let us weigh the meaning of the words: "And Jesus * * was led by the Spirit into the wilderness, being forty days tempted of the devil."
The Spirit did not lead the Lord into the wilderness to see if the Lord would fall under Satan's wiles this was impossible. Matthew says, "Then was Jesus led up of the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil." Why was He so led? The objective was to force Satan to a decisive conflict in order to make manifest Christ's Deity and supremacy on the one hand; and the devil's utter undoing on the other hand.
Jesus Christ was not only impervious to Satan's temptings, but the Father and the Spirit knew Him so. God had promised that Jesus Christ would redeem His people; and God could not have promised this, had there been any possibility that Christ could have succumbed to Satan's attacks.
2. The sword of the Spirit. It is interesting, as the battle waged, to see how Christ routed the enemy. Three distinctive temptations are described in this study. They are the temptations by which Satan, from every angle, sought to overwhelm the Lord Jesus. Each time the Lord drew forth the Sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God, and utterly spoiled Satan.
In the first temptation the devil, working upon the fact of Christ's hunger, said unto him "If Thou be the Son of God, command that these stones be made bread." How skillfully did Christ wield the Word of God 1 Drawing this two-edged Sword, He said: "It is written, That man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word of God."
Satan said: "If Thou be the Son of God, command that these stones be made bread." Jesus replied, in substance: "I am the Son of God, because I am the Bread, the Manna, which came down from Heaven."
In the second temptation the devil showed Christ the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time, and offered them to Christ on the one condition that He would worship him. Christ once more drew the Sword of the Spirit, and said, "It is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and Him only shalt thou serve."
Once more Christ quoted from Deuteronomy. This time the Scripture had reference to Israel's thirsting for water at Massah. It was at Massah that Moses smote the rock. Christ, in quoting this Scripture, seemed to be affirming to Satan that He was the Son of God, because He was the Water of Life, and that Satan should not tempt God, the Son.
The third temptation finds Christ once more saying, "It is written." Satan endeavored, finally, to meet Christ with Scripture, saying, "Cast thyself down." Satan, however, utterly misused the Scripture, and particularly failed to quote the verse immediately following the portion which he did use. What he left out reads, "To keep Thee in all Thy ways," and "Thou shalt tread upon the lion and adder: the young lion and the dragon shalt Thou trample under feet." Of course, this prophecy foretold Satan's utter undoing.
3. The supremacy of the Son of God. We have space only to speak of the marvelous victory which Christ wrought, showing Himself supreme over Satan. We need to remember that the devil was no small antagonist, for even the archangel, Michael, durst not bring against the devil a ratling accusation. However, Christ, even in the flesh, overcame Satan, showing His supremacy, not only over Satan, but even over Michael the archangel who durst not meet Satan single-handed and alone.
We urge that Satan's onslaughts against the true faith must always be met by the Word of God. Arguments and scientific deductions are of no avail.
I. CHRIST AND THE HOLY SPIRIT (Luke 4:1 )
1. Jesus was begotten of the Spirit (Luke 1:35 ). "The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee," said the angel to Mary. "And the Power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that Holy Thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God." Thus Jesus Christ was begotten of the Spirit.
2. Jesus was baptized in the Spirit (Luke 3:21-22 ). As Jesus stood there in the water, after His baptism. He prayed, and as He prayed the Heaven was opened, and the Holy Ghost descended in bodily shape like a dove upon Him. Here we have Christ's special anointing of the Spirit.
3. Jesus was filled with the Spirit (Luke 4:1 ). Our key-text says, "And Jesus being full of the Spirit." It is one thing to have the Spirit indwelling; it is another thing to have the Spirit infilling.
4. Jesus was led of the Spirit (Luke 4:1, l.c.). The result of Spirit-filling is Spirit-guidance. The Lord Jesus Christ walked in the Spirit. Let us take this matter to heart. It is those who are led by the Spirit of God who are the sons of God.
5. Jesus preached in the Spirit (Luke 4:18 ). The ministry of Christ, which began after His baptism and temptation in the wilderness, was a ministry under the enduement of the Spirit. He was anointed with the Spirit to preach the Gospel to the poor; to heal the brokenhearted; to preach deliverance to the captives; and the recovering of sight to the blind; to set at liberty the bruised; to preach the acceptable year, of the Lord. May our ministry likewise be one identified with the enduement of the Holy Ghost.
6. Jesus was raised from the dead by the Spirt (Romans 8:11 ).
7. Jesus gave commandment in the Spirit (Acts 1:2 ).
II. THE APPEAL TO HUNGER (Luke 4:2-3 )
It was after Jesus had fasted forty days and forty nights that the devil made the appeal to His hunger, saying, "If Thou be the Son of God, command this stone that it be made bread."
1. Satan's attack came after Christ was an hungered. It is always so, Satan watches for some need in our life, some lack, some weak spot which perhaps is unguarded, and there he centers his attacks.
The devil, doubtless, did not know the Lord Jesus in the fullness of His Deity and power. He may have thought that he could touch Him even as he had touched the first Adam, by appealing to His physical craving for food.
2. Satan's attack centered in his effort to cast doubt into the mind of Christ as to His Divine Sonship. Satan knew that God had just acclaimed Christ, at the baptismal waters, as His Beloved Son. Now, he seeks to discount that announcement, on the one hand; and on the other hand, since Christ asserted His own Sonship, Satan was endeavoring to force Him to use His Deity, out of the will of God, in commanding that the stones should be made bread.
III. THE NEW MEANING OF BREAD (Luke 4:4 )
The Lord Jesus showed Satan that He comprehended his endeavor, because He responded; "Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word of God."
1. In this statement Christ attested His Deity. He seemed to be saying; "I am the Bread of Life." The Lord knew that the bread which came down from Heaven typified His own body. He knew that the True Bread was life indeed, even to all who ate of Him.
Even now we can see the Lord Jesus as He sat in the upper room and took the bread and broke it, saying, "This is My body."
2. In this statement Christ placed the Spiritual Bread as forever supreme over the physical. The bread of which Satan spoke was the bread which feeds the physical body. The bread of which Jesus spoke was that spiritual bread which feeds the soul. Let us never allow the physical to predominate over the spiritual. Let us put and keep the first things first.
3. In this statement Christ showed the folly of working miracles even to demonstrate His Deity, when such a demonstration would carry Him outside of perfect confidence in God. If God wanted Christ to be hungry, Christ could not and would not break God's will to feed Himself.
If Satan impugned that God had neglected Christ by leading Him into the wilderness, and suffering Him to hunger; Jesus Christ was unwilling to accept such an imputation by miraculously making bread.
The Lord Jesus said, "In the world ye shall have tribulation." It is given to us to suffer. Therefore when we seek deliverance, let us seek it in the will of God.
IV. THE APPEAL TO SOVEREIGNTY (Luke 4:5-6 )
In the second temptation Satan carried Christ into an high mountain, and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time. Then Satan said; "All this power will I give Thee, and the glory of them; for that is delivered unto me; and to whomsoever I will I give it."
Satan was endeavoring to establish his supremacy, even over the Son of God.
1. To prove His supremacy Satan showed Christ the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them. It is useless for us to argue that the kingdoms of the world possess no glory; it is just as useless to argue that the glory which they do possess was not under Satan's power and sway. The Lord Jesus Himself taught that Satan was the prince of this world.
In Ephesians we read that Satan is the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that worketh in the children of disobedience.
In II Corinthians we read of the god of this world, who blinds the eyes of the unbelieving Satan is this god.
In I John we are told that the whole world lieth in the wicked one.
Satan certainly paraded his greatness before Christ, and Christ did not deny his claim. The Lord knew that Satan was Lucifer, the son of the morning. He knew that he had walked up and down in the midst of the stones of fire. He knew that he was "the cherub that covereth"; that he once was clothed with every precious stone, and was perfect in wisdom.
2. To prove his supremacy Satan demanded that Christ should fall down and worship him. This was the sole requirement. There was Jesus Christ, the Son of God, alone, hungered, impoverished, and seemingly forsaken. Before Christ lay the bitterness of shame and spitting, of nails and thorns, of riven side and broken heart of Calvary.
Satan saw the impoverished Christ, and yet Satan realized that He was God, and that being God, He was great. Perhaps, Satan feared Jesus. He knew He had come among men, in order to cast him out, and to take his kingdom. Satan now offered to capitulate, and to yield his authority and power over men, under one condition alone, and that was that Christ should worship him. He demanded to be recognized as supreme.
V. THE NEW MEANING OF WORSHIP (Luke 4:8 )
1. Jesus quickly spurned Satan's proffer. He said; "Get thee behind Me, Satan." Instead of worshiping Satan. He thrust him behind His back. Instead of bending the knee before him, He turned His face upon him.
2. Jesus as quickly said; "Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God." Satan was the created, and not the Creator. He was the servant, and not the sovereign.
To us, however, there seems to be a deeper meaning in all of this. Jesus Christ is showing not alone His fealty and faithfulness to the Father, but He is also asserting His own Deity. Even though Christ was stripped of His glory, and was humiliated, being found in fashion as a man; yet, He stood before Satan supreme, the unrelenting and unswerving Son of God, and God the Son.
3. Jesus, accordingly, set a standard for all of His saints.
(1) We should not receive worship from men. When the people came out of the Temple filled with wonder and amazement at the healing of the lame man, and they began to look earnestly on Peter and John. Peter quickly rebuked them, telling them that it was by no power of holiness of theirs that the lame man walked.
(2) We should not worship men. God has written demanding that we are to call no man Rabbi, Rabbi. We are not even to glory in men. We are to worship God, and Him only are we to serve.
VI. THE APPEAL TO PRIDE (Luke 4:9-11 )
The devil next brought Jesus to Jerusalem, and setting Him on a pinnacle of the Temple, he said unto Him, "Cast thyself down from hence: for it is written, He shall give His angels charge over Thee, to keep Thee."
In this testing Satan endeavored to meet Christ on the ground of perfect faith and perfect trust.
1. He seemed to say, "If Thou art the Son of God, cast Thyself upon God's protecting care. If Thou art the Son of God, He will not suffer Thee to be hurt."
Some may wonder why Satan did not, himself, cast Christ down from the Temple's pinnacle. Had he done so, God would have sent His angels and they would have borne Christ up in their hands.
The temptation lay in the appeal to lead Christ away from the perfect will of the Father. Christ afterward said, "I do always those things that please Him (My Father)." He spoke the Words of the Father; He did the will of the Father, and wrought the works of the Father.
2. He seemed to say; "Thou canst safely leap from this pinnacle, for the Scriptures have given Thee the promise that the angels will bear Thee up in their hands, lest Thou dash Thy foot against a stone." Satan may have gone as far as to have argued that this special Scripture was put into the Bible for the very hour of need that then faced the Lord. The whole purpose of Satan seemed to revolve around the one appeal to Christ to show that He was indeed the Son of God.
We who are followers of the Lord Jesus must be very careful that we do nothing on the seeming pledge of one scriptural promise, if the doing would break a definite and positive, "Thus saith the Lord."
VII. CHRIST'S POSITIVE AND FINAL VICTORY (Luke 4:12 )
1. The Lord Jesus, in our Scripture, asserted that He would not put His Father to the test. Others have frequently done this. The Children of Israel tempted God in the wilderness, when they asked meat for their lust. They said, "Can God furnish a table in the wilderness?" Again, they tempted God when they turned back, and limited the Holy One of Israel.
Jacob said to God that he would give Him a tenth, if God would bless him. Gideon was willing to follow God providing the fleece remained dry; and again, providing it became wet, while the ground was dry.
The Lord Jesus would not doubt God, neither would He unnecessarily place God in a position where He would be forced to aid Him.
2. The Lord Jesus, in our Scripture, asserted that Satan was breaking what was written, when he sought to put Him to the test. When Christ said, "Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God," we believe that He was rebuking Satan in his effort to tempt Him.
Jesus Christ was God, and Satan was seeking to tempt Him. Since Jesus Christ was God, instead of Satan's asking Him to fall down and worship him, Satan should have been worshiping Christ. The Lord Jesus continually asserted His Deity, and the Lord Jesus also accepted Divine worship.
That He was God we know, because God would not have given His glory to another. However, to Jesus Christ, God gave glory. God also raised Jesus Christ from the dead, and exalted Him to His own right hand of power.
The first verse of the Bible says, "In the beginning God"; the Epistle to the Colossians says of Christ, "That in all things He might have the pre-eminence."
In speaking of temptation let me tell of an incident that happened in a little mission Sunday School in the far West.
One Sunday a little lad of about nine years heard the message of salvation and accepted Christ as his personal Saviour. For several weeks everything went well, and he was happy in his new-found joy.
However, one day his Sunday School teacher, on returning home found two of her scholars sitting in the room awaiting her return. They informed her that Johnny had come with them, but had run home again. She was especially interested in Johnny, on account of his recent acceptance of the Lord, and was desirous of an opportunity to help him along in his Christian life. For this cause she was disappointed to know that he had not waited her return. The children visited a while and went home, and the incident was soon forgotten.
When next Sunday came, however, Johnny did not appear at Sunday School, and his teacher was disappointed. Having a very busy week she failed to call upon Johnny, and soon another Sunday came around. This time Johnny was present, looking somewhat uncomfortable and crestfallen. After some little time, he told his teacher he wished to speak to her. She, noticing his embarrassment, was surprised to see him dive down into his little pocket, and bring up a nickel. He handed it to her with the words; "Here teacher, take it it's the nickel I stole from you the day I went to see you." And then with a strained voice and broken spirit, he added these words: "And I do love Jesus."
In a moment of weakness Satan had tempted that little lad with the thought of ice cream, candy, etc., but all of the anticipatory joy had departed when Johnny realized that he had grieved his Lord. The Holy Spirit brought to his remembrance the things he had learned at Sunday School, and gave him a wonderful victory over sin. Praise God for a Saviour who is not only able to save, but who is able to give victory and deliverance from the power of sin.
Christ, the Lover of Men
The endeavor in this study will be to seek the heart of the Saviour, discovering His attitude toward different classes of men among whom He lived and moved during His life on earth.
We will seek to discover whether the Lord Jesus was partial to the rich or to the poor. Whether in His choice of followers, He was open toward all.
Did Christ live the life of a shut-in? Did He pull the garments of His holiness and superiority close about Him, and stand aloof from the common rabble? Did the populace feel that He was unapproachable, unresponsive, and unsympathetic to their need?
In answering these questions we should remember that Christ was God manifest in the flesh, that He was the possessor of all things because all things were made by Him, and in Him all things consist. He was Son of God worshiped by angels, the very center of the glories of Heaven. He knew all things; He had all power.
As we approach this theme, we wish to lay two verses before you. The first is in Luke 4:1-44 . Christ entered the city of Nazareth where He had been subject unto His parents, and had dwelt as a Child. Now, however, He was a man; He had been baptized, and was entering upon His ministry. On this memorable day, He stood in the synagogue and read from Isaiah, where it was written:
"The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the Gospel to the poor, he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, to preach the acceptable year of the Lord" (Luke 4:18-19 ).
This verse proclaims Jesus Christ as a preacher to the poor; as a healer of broken hearts; as a deliverer to captives; as a restorer of sight to the blind, and as setting at liberty the bruised.
Our second Scripture is Acts 10:38 . It reads: "How God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Ghost and with power: who went about doing good, and healing all that were oppressed of the devil."
It is a marvel of marvels to follow the footsteps of the Saviour and to watch His dealings, with men. He might have taken the common attitude, saying: "What is that to me?" That, however, was farthest from His purpose. He demonstrated for ever the fact that "no man liveth unto himself." The burden and the pain of the populace were His. He shared their poverty, entered into their distresses. He bore their diseases, and carried their sorrows.
Our Lord was a sympathetic Lord. He was a lover of mankind. Even the little children were not repulsed by Him. He carried the lambs in His bosom. He said, "Suffer the little children to come unto Me, and forbid them not, for of such is the Kingdom of Heaven."
It will be most interesting to follow the topics as they develop distinct classes of life among whom Christ moved, and observe His attitude toward each.
"Rest of the weary, joy of the sad;
Hope of the dreary, light of the glad;
Home of the stranger, strength to the end,
Refuge from danger, Saviour and Friend.
Pillow where, lying, love rests its head!
Peace of the dying, life of the dead;
Path of the lowly, prize at the end;
Breath of the holy, Saviour and Friend."
I. CHRIST AND THE POOR (Mark 10:49 )
A blind beggar sat by the wayside. That he had nothing to recommend him except his poverty and his rags, we are quite sure. His addition to any company would have added nothing to it by way of honor and dignity. He was a man whom most people passed by; others, would drop into his tin cup, a nickel, and pass on their way. The Lord Jesus came by. He was en route to Jerusalem to die. The burden of a great world of sin lay heavy upon His heart. He was intent on reaching the final issue of His life.
As Christ moved along the way with great crowds thronging Him, a cry was heard, coming to Him over the heads of the populace. The cry was, "Jesus, Thou Son of David, have mercy on me." The record says, "And Jesus stood still, and commanded him to be called."
As the Lord healed the blind man that day none could say of Him, that His ear was deaf to the cry of penury.
There sat by the highway a beggar. A queen, beautifully attired and riding in her chariot, was en route to her coronation. She gave orders that the blind beggar should be taken out of her pathway. She wanted nothing by the way of sorrow, or of suffering to mar the glory of her enthronement. How different was our Lord. He was on His way to be crowned, and crowned with thorns, and yet, He bade the blind man to be called. It was true, that the poor had the Gospel preached unto them.
Charles H. Spurgeon said, that a little orphan one day sat by his side and hugged up close to him as he was talking to a friend. After a while, Mr. Spurgeon spoke to the lad saying, "What do you want, my boy?" He said, "Mr. Spurgeon, if you were an orphan boy, and on visitor's day, you did not have any uncle or aunt, or anyone to bring you a present or to come to see you, what would you do? 'cause you see, that's me." Charles H. Spurgeon said, that it was the boy's poverty and need, that appealed to him. He replied, "I will be your friend, your uncle, and your auntie, and when visitor's day comes around, I'll come to see you and bring you a present."
Thank God, for the Christ who loved the poor and came to seek and to save that which was lost.
"Lead us, Heavenly Father, lead us
O'er the world's tempestuous sea;
Guide us, guard us, keep us, feed us,
For we have no help but Thee;
Yet possessing every blessing,
If our God our Father be."
II. CHRIST AND THE RICH (Mark 10:21 )
In the same chapter where Christ spoke to the poor beggar, He also spoke to a young ruler, who was rich. That Christ loved the poor, we know. There is abundance of proof for this. However, some are continually crying "down the rich." Swinging their red banner they cry, "Down with the plutocrats." We need to catch the spirit of Christ toward the rich.
There was a young ruler who came to Christ, saying unto Him, "Good Master, what shall I do that I may inherit eternal life?" As Jesus Christ looked on him, He loved him. Christ loved him because he was a man of lofty ideals, and of splendid morals. However, the Lord did not say unto him, because he was rich, "Come, * * and follow Me." He did say, "One thing thou lackest: go thy way, sell whatsoever thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasures in Heaven; and come, take up thy cross, and follow Me."
The Lord Jesus loved the rich man, but He was unwilling to let down the bars in order to secure his discipleship.
We need to remember that the rich, from a spiritual viewpoint, are quite as much neglected as the ultra-poor. Many a man who has much of this world's goods, and is the soul of honor and of integrity, feels absolutely isolated from the things of God.
Wilbur Chapman on one occasion felt constrained to visit a rich man. Through a blizzard he drove ten miles to the man's residence. The man of large means met him cordially at the door, took him in his library, and when he was seated said, "I suppose, Mr. Chapman, you want my check." "No," said Dr. Chapman, "I have simply come to ask you to receive my Lord as your Saviour. I want you to become a Christian." The rich man went to his window, stood gazing without for ten minutes. Then, with tears in his eyes, he turned and said, "Dr. Chapman, I thought no man cared for my soul." Let us not neglect the rich.
III. CHRIST AND THE OUTCASTS (John 8:11 )
All have followed with us thus far as we have spoken of Christ and the poor, and Christ and the rich. We come now, however, to quite a different matter. There are some who are moral derelicts, drifting on the sea, far away from contact with the populace. Some of these are vile outcasts, like this woman who fell at the feet of Jesus. They are social outcasts, because they have broken the laws which govern decent society.
We wonder if the Lord Jesus would receive to His heart of love, a woman whom the people have isolated to hell's half acre, and have hedged her in as one utterly unworthy of respect.
It was such an one who was dragged before Christ by the Pharisees. With a curl on their lips they said to Christ, "Moses in the Law commanded us, that such should be stoned: but what sayest Thou?" This they did to tempt Christ. Stooping down, as if to hide the shame upon His countenance, Christ wrote on the ground as though He heard them not. When they continued asking Him, He quietly raised Himself and said, "He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her." When all had gone, being convicted in their own conscience, Jesus asked the woman, "Where are those thine accusers?" She replied that they had gone. Then said He, "Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more."
As Christ sat at meat in the home of Simon, a poor woman who was a sinner stood at His feet weeping, and wiping away her tears which fell on His feet. Simon found fault with Christ, but we know how He rebuked Simon, and then He said to the woman, "Thy sins are forgiven thee." Let us love those whom the Lord loves, and seek to save those whom He seeks to save.
"While I hear life's rugged billows,
Peace, peace is mine!
Why suspend my harp on willows?
Peace, peace is mine!
I may sing, with Christ beside me,
Though a thousand ills betide me;
Safely He hath sworn to guide me:
Peace, peace is mine!
IV. CHRIST AND THE PUBLICAN (Luke 15:1-3 )
There was in Jewry a particular class of sinners who were especially despised. They were known as the publicans. They were considered disloyal to the higher ideals of Judaism, and they were frequently national outcasts because they were favorable to Rome, in that, they served the government, which was oppressing Israel.
A publican and a Pharisee stood praying. The Pharisee was parading his piety, and applauding his own good deeds in the sight of God. The publican would not so much as lift his face to Heaven, but, beating upon his breast cried, "God be merciful to me a sinner." The publican went away justified rather than the other.
In today's Scripture the publicans and sinners were eating together. Christ came and sat down in their midst and ate with them. This act filled the Pharisees with indignation, and they cried out against Him, saying, "This man receiveth sinners, and eateth with them."
Early in the history of the church, it is said that a scoffer named Celsus said to Origen, "The reason I cannot receive your Christ is because He received sinners." "Yes," responded Origen, "My Christ receiveth sinners, but He saves them from their sins."
In justifying himself for eating with publicans and with sinners, Christ told that marvelous parable of the lost sheep, the lost coin, and the lost son. It was when the prodigal boy was a great way off, that his father saw him, ran, had compassion, and fell on his neck and kissed him.
May God put into our hearts love for the political refugee. No man can be so far from God, but that he can be saved. "Though your sins be as scarlet they shall be as white as snow."
Sinners Jesus will receive;
Sound this word of grace to all
Who the Heavenly pathway leave,
All who linger, all who fall!
Now my heart condemns me not,
Pure before the law I stand;
He who cleansed me from all spot
Satisfied its last demand.
Christ receiveth sinful men,
Even me with all my sin;
Purged from every spot and stain,
Heaven with Him I enter in.
V. CHRIST AND THE POPULACE (Matthew 14:14 )
We have spoken of Christ and the poor, of Christ and the rich, of Christ and the outcast, and of Christ and the publican. In each case we have considered more individuals as representative of a class. We now consider the great masses as a whole. A world lying in sin and in shame; a world that knew not and owned not God.
It was this great world that God so loved. It was into this world of people that Christ came. Our key verse says, "And Jesus went forth, and saw a great multitude, and was moved with compassion toward them."
What was there in the populace that pulled strongly on the heartstrings of Christ. It was their hunger, their thirst, their sickness, and their utter helplessness, To Him they were like sheep without a shepherd.
Christ moved among men as a lover of men. Their sorrows were His sorrows; their heartaches were His.
On one occasion, the great day, the last day of the feast, when the multitudes were thronging Jerusalem, Jesus stood and cried saying, "If any man thirst, let him come unto Me, and drink."
Once again, the Master beholding the masses borne down with their burdens cried, saying, "Come unto Me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest."
There is a verse in the Old Testament that sums up all of these. It reads, "Look unto Me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth: for I am God."
After His resurrection, Jesus Christ pronounced His great commission, saying, "Go ye into all the world, and preach the Gospel to every creature." Let us not be satisfied till the last man of our generation has heard the Gospel.
"Ho! all ye heavy-laden, come!
Here's pardon, comfort, rest and home;
Ye wanderers from a Father's face,
Return, accept His proffered grace;
Ye tempted ones, there's refuge nigh.
'Jesus of Nazareth passeth by.'"
VI. CHRIST AND THE BACKSLIDER (Luke 22:31-32 )
One of the hard things we have to bear is the infidelity of supposed faithful friends. It is said that when Brutus, the personal friend of Caesar, approached him, dagger in hand, that the emperor was entirely overcome and vanquished.
With what pathos did Paul write, "All they which are in Asia be turned away from me"! Then he wrote, "Demas hath forsaken me."
As Christ neared the hour of His passion, He began to be exceeding sorrowful, saying, "Verily, verily, I say unto you, that one of you shall betray Me." Then again Christ said, "All ye shall be offended because of Me this night." Peter very vehemently said, "Though I should die with thee, yet I will not deny thee." Likewise so said they all.
We know the sad story. They all forsook Him and fled. Judas betrayed Him with a kiss; Peter followed afar, and the others fled.
What was Christ's attitude? To Judas he said, "Judas, betrayest thou the Son of Man with a kiss?" Toward Peter, Christ merely turned and looked with an unspeakable pity. Peter had cursed, and said, "I know not this Man of whom ye speak."
What was the aftermath? When Christ was risen from the dead, He said to Mary, "Go * * tell My disciples and Peter."
First of all, as our key verse shows, Christ said to Peter, "I have prayed for thee." Later Christ turned and looked on Peter. Then, afterward the Lord sent a special message to Peter; next Christ appeared to Peter, and finally Christ came unto the eleven as they returned from fishing, and restored unto Peter his work, saying, "Feed My lambs," "Feed My sheep."
We would not encourage backsliding, but we thank God, that the Lord remembereth our frame. He knoweth that we are dust. We thank God, again, that if we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
"Weary wanderer, stop and listen,
Happy news we bring to thee;
Jesus has prepared a banquet;
Come, and welcome thou shalt be.
Make no longer vain excuses,
Jesus calls, and calls thee now;
Come, for everything is ready;
Weary soul, why waitest thou?
Are thy sins a heavy burden?
Come to God, confess them now;
He is willing to forgive thee;
Ask, receive, why waitest thou?
On the loving arms of Jesus
Wouldst thou lean, and trust Him now?
Let Him cleanse thee at the fountain;
Come at once! why waitest thou?"
VII. CHRIST AND THE PHARISEES (Matthew 23:37 )
We now approach a people who were sinners above any of the others we have mentioned. They were not sinners so much from the moral viewpoint, nor were they sinners because they were irreligious. The scribes and the Pharisees were super-religious. They would compass sea and land to make a proselyte. They delighted in making long prayers in public places. They even paid tithes into the treasury of the synagogue.
The sin of religionists, however, is great, because they carry out a form without a heart; they parade religious rites, but they know nothing of the vital heart love and power of the Lord they profess to follow. The Pharisees were good at binding burdens on other men's shoulders, which they would not lift with one of their own fingers.
These men kept the Passover but denied the Christ, the Passover Lamb. They set themselves against the Son of God, and went about to entrap Him with subtle questions. They finally paid false witnesses to accuse Him that they might deliver Him to death.
The darkest anathemas in the whole Bible, against any individual or set of individuals, were spoken against these Pharisees. Christ called them a "generation of vipers," and "whited sepulchres." Against them He pronounced a series of woes.
It seems now that the merciful Christ had at last found those toward whom He could show no pity, but not so. To these very leaders of Israel He cried, "O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the Prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, but ye would not!"
Surely, God is not willing that any should perish, but that all should be saved.
"'Call them in' the poor, the wretched.
Sin-stained wanderers from the fold;
Peace and pardon freely offer;
Can you weigh their worth with gold?
'Call them in' the weak, the weary,
Laden with the doom of sin;
Bid them come and rest in Jesus;
He is waiting 'Call them in.'
'Call them in' the Jew, the Gentile;
Bid the stranger to the feast;
'Call them in' the rich, the noble,
From the highest to the least:
Forth the Father runs to meet them,
He hath all their sorrows seen;
Robe, and ring, and royal sandals,
Wait the lost ones 'Call them in.'
Follow on! the Lamb is leading!
He has conquered we shall win;
Bring the halt and blind to Jesus;
He will heal them 'Call them in.'
'Call them in' the brokenhearted,
Cowering 'neath the brand of shame;
Speak Love's message, low and tender
'Twas for sinners Jesus came:
See! the shadows lengthen round us,
Soon the day-dawn will begin;
Can you leave them lost and lonely?
Christ is coming 'Call them in.'"
THE WONDERFUL JEWELS
A lady who had lost all her health in following the gaieties of the fashionable world was reclining on her bed, longing for the society and pleasure that she once enjoyed. She told her sick-nurse to fetch the box that held her jewels, so that she might amuse herself in recalling to her memory the festive seasons when she had worn them to the admiration of so many. "Now, nurse," said she, "would you not like to have some of these jewels?"
"No, ma'am, not at all, for I have jewels much finer."
"How can that be, nurse? Mine are the finest jewels in the land. Where are yours? You never wear them."
The nurse held up her Bible, saying, "My jewels are in here!"
The lady, thinking that there were some hidden away in the book, said, "Take them out and show them to me."
"Why, ma'am, my jewels are so precious, I can only show you one at a time." Then she opened her Bible and read "I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content." (Philippians 4:11 .)
She told her of the treasure that she had in Heaven; how that, though poor, she had a loving Father, who provided for her, and the great happiness that she had in Him, and how she was patiently waiting for the Kingdom to come.
"Why, nurse, I never heard anything like that; how happy you must be to feel as you do! I wish I could do the same."
The next day the lady said, "Nurse, I should like to see another of your jewels; the one you showed me was beautiful."
The nurse again opened her Bible, and read "This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners." (1 Timothy 1:15 .)
From the few words that followed, the lady's heart was opened to feel that she was a sinner, that Christ Jesus was her Saviour; and she soon found rest, peace, joy, in believing and trusting Christ Jesus as her Saviour.
A Busy Day in the Life of Christ
1. Healed to help. When Simon's wife's mother was healed of the fever by the touch of the Divine Lord, we read, "Immediately she arose and ministered unto them." This was, as it should have been; and it was, as it should always be. We are saved to serve, and we are healed to serve. Blessings, which come to us from the hand of our Divine Lord, are not given to be stored, but to be multiplied by their use. If we take from God His good things, but refuse to give back unto Him the praise of our lips, and the labor of our hands, we are wholly unworthy recipients of grace.
The mercies of God call us to present our bodies a living sacrifice a reasonable service. When God gives unto us physical strength, that strength should not be wasted in riotous living; but it should be spent in His service. Talents, which are received from Heaven, are not given to be rolled in a napkin.
2. Demons conceding the Deity of Christ. In verse forty-one, we read that the devils also came out of many, crying out and saying; "Thou art Christ the Son of God." They knew that Jesus was the Christ. James, in corroboration, says, "The devils also believe, and tremble." The demons in the days that followed Christ's ascension said, "Jesus I know, and Paul I know; but who are ye?"
We are living" in a day of many denials. The Virgin Birth of Christ is denied; His Deity is denied; His Vicarious Suffering is denied; His Bodily Resurrection is denied; His Exaltation to the Father's right hand is denied; His personal, visible, corporeal Second Coming is denied; His Reign on David's throne is denied. How strange, that mid the denials of men, we have the affirming voice of demons conceding that Christ is the Son of God.
Men did not know that Jesus was the Christ, but the demons did. Men did not know that Jesus came forth from the Father to undo the works of the devil, but the demons knew it. They even cried; "Art Thou come hither to torment us before the time?"
Men did not know that Jesus was God's anointed, who was to reign on David's throne; but the demons knew and conceded that He was the Christ.
Let those who doubt the Lord cover their faces with shame.
3. Pressed by Prayer. This study presents many angles which our brief exposition cannot touch. We would not, however, fail to mention the fact that as the fame of Christ went abroad more and more, and as great multitudes came to hear Him and to be healed by Him; He withdrew Himself into the wilderness and prayed.
How easy it is for us to allow the cares of ministering, and of doing good, to draw us away from the place of prayer. If we prayed more, we might have less time to serve, but we certainly would serve far more effectively and acceptably.
It does us good to see James and John on the very eve of Pentecost going up to pray, at the hour of prayer. It does us good to watch the way prayer held a vital place and a prominent part in the ministry of the early Church. They prayed often, and they prayed sometimes all the night. They continued in prayer. Some of them, like Epaphras, labored in prayer.
I. CHRIST'S EARLY POPULARITY (Luke 4:37 )
Our verse tells us of how the fame of Christ went out into every place of the country round about. That Christ was extremely popular, we know.
1. Christ was popular by reason of His benefactions. The crowds followed the Lord because they ate of His loaves and fishes, and were healed by Him.
We fear lest there is still in the air that same motive in the so-called religion of some. They unite with the popular church. They seek membership where it will enhance their social standing. They look to the church that will further their business interests.
Those who follow the Lord from such unholy causes will early fall by the wayside. When persecution arises they will cease in their loyalty. The truth is that Christ is still "despised and rejected of men"; He is still the One crucified. He who came into the world, was not known of the world; nor does the world know Him now.
2. Christ knew what was in men, and would not commit Himself unto them. There was a time when it seemed that all men were ready to crown Him King. They pressed upon Him with words of praise and with plaudits of power. However, the Lord knew the shallowness of their flatteries.
We look upon the outward appearance; God looks upon the heart. We fail to see under the glitter of outside praise. He looks at the motive that lies behind the loud acclaim.
3. Christ was slain by those who, at the first, followed with Him. Judas was not the only one who turned from friend to foe. Many there were who had at the first followed with Him, and who ate of His loaves and fishes, who joined the rabble in the day of Christ's crucifixion, crying out, "Away with Him, away with Him!"
II. SEEKING THE SHELTER OF SIMON'S HOME (Luke 4:38 )
1. There were certain homes where Jesus loved to enter. We remember how He delighted to rest in the home of Martha and of Mary, and Lazarus. Thus He also came to Simon's home.
We stop only to ask, Does the Lord Jesus delight in making your house His home? Is there at your house that spiritual atmosphere which would make Him feel welcomed and at ease?
2. Christ in the home assures peace and blessing. Christ in Peter's home meant restoration to Peter's wife's mother. Christ in Mary's home meant marvelous instruction, and finally Lazarus' being raised from the dead.
When the Ark of God was taken to the home of Obed-edom, all that belonged to Obed-edom was blessed. When once the Master-of-the-house comes into your home all will likewise be blessed.
3. Christ in the heart will assure blessing. Perhaps you live in a home where Christ is not a welcomed Guest. This need in no sense deter you from having Him as the Guest of your heart. If you ask Him, and open the door, He will come in and sup with you, and you with Him. He will come in and with Him will come love, and joy, and peace, and all the tender graces which make the life beautiful and attractive.
III. THE GREAT PHYSICIAN (Luke 4:39-40 )
The Lord healed Peter's wife's mother. Then, there were brought to Him all who were sick of divers diseases, and He laid His hands on every one of them, and healed them.
1. Christ's healing power was over all diseases and to all kinds of people. There was no giving of tickets for audience; no waiting for "instructions"; no failures in any of these cases. All who came, no matter what was their disease or condition, were healed.
To say that Christ cannot heal in this same fashion today would be to doubt that He is God. To say that He does now heal all, is another thing. As we understand the "healing" ministry of Christ, now, it is His will to heal with effectiveness, those who "faith" Him.
2. Christ's healing, at least in the case of Peter's mother-in-law, was followed by serving. We read; "Immediately she arose and ministered unto them." This certainly is ideal, and should always be the resultant in every case of healing. We who are healed by Him should serve. So also, we who are saved by Him should serve.
"Saved to serve" is not more true than "healed to serve." The truth is that each and every blessing from the Lord is given to be employed. Let us count our benefactions as factors in. the Lord's service.
3. Christ's healing of old anticipates His healing when He comes as the Messiah. Psalms 103:1-22 is the climax of Psalms 102:1-28 . Psalms 102:1-28 closes with those memorable words, which are quoted in Hebrews 1:1-14, where Christ is brought the second time into the inhabited earth. It is then that Psalms 103:1-22 proclaims Christ as the One who "healeth all thy diseases." When the Lord sits as King-priest on David's throne, then, as in our text, will He heal all; and the inhabitants of the land will no longer say, "I am sick."
IV. CHRIST'S SUPREMACY OVER DEMONS (Luke 4:41 )
1. An unlooked for confession. It seems strange, at first thought, that demons, who are under the power and dominion of Satan, should so firmly express that Christ was Lord. Yet here are their very words, "Thou art Christ the Son of God."
Among men there may be some who refuse to acclaim Christ's Deity; but demons know that He is the Christ.
In the days of Paul the Apostle, certain demons cried, "Jesus I know, and Paul I know; but who are ye?"
2. An open cry of fear. As the demons confessed the Lord as Son of God, they fled from before Him. They knew He was Christ; but they saw in Him only their certain undoing. They shrank from before Him; they cringed under the presence of His rebuke.
The day is coming when the ungodly will follow in the wake of these demons. Even now the world of sinful men are beginning to possess a certain heart-failure, as they anticipate the Coming of the Lord.
V. SEEKING SOLACE FOR PRAYER (Luke 4:42 , l.c.)
1. With a busy day passed, Jesus sought the quietness of the desert. The Lord had spent one of His busiest days a day filled with teaching and healing. Even unto a late hour the people had thronged Him. Most of us, with weariness of body would have sought rest in sleep; but Christ sought His Father's face. He withdrew from the crowd.
It was not merely once; it was often that our Lord sought the desert, or some mountain side, where He might be alone with God. It was not once, but often, that He spent the whole night in prayer.
2. The transforming power of "a while with God." Have we ever weighed the blessings of waiting upon the Lord? Have we ever discovered the fruits of tarrying with the Lord?
It was on the mountain top, in communion with the Father, that the face of the Master became lighted up with dazzling glory. The Spirit of God will easily accomplish His purpose to transform us from glory to glory into the image of our Lord, if we will take time to ascend into the clear atmosphere of the mountain-top experience, where, with unveiled face we may behold His glory.
VI. SINNERS SEEKING THE SAVIOUR (Luke 4:42 , l.c.)
No sooner had the Lord sought repose and quiet from the surging crowds, than the people began to seek His face. They had no thought of the Master's need of rest and prayer; they were concerned solely with their own need. Passing up this seeming lack of considerateness on the part of the people, let us learn some lessons from their quest.
1. We need a determined purpose in the seeking of the Lord. There are some who are too easily hindered in their quest for salvation. The least hindrance will put a damper to their search.
We need to remember the words of Scripture: "Ye shall * * find Me, when ye shall search for Me with all your heart." To the halfhearted there is no assurance of success. We shall reap, who faint not. Some run well for a season, who doth hinder them?
2. We need to seek till we find. The Lord is the Good Shepherd who sought for us till He found us. Shall we not seek for Him? When a seeking sinner joins in the quest with the seeking Saviour, it cannot be long until the happy meeting place is found.
Today the rule is an altogether one-sided search. Christ is seeking the lost, but the lost are not seeking Christ.
VII. CHRIST'S MISSIONARY URGE (Luke 4:43-44 )
Whenever the Lord Jesus used the word, "must," we know that He was moved by a strong urge. He said in our verse, "I must preach the Kingdom of God in other cities also: for therefore am I sent." Let us examine these words.
1. The supremacy of preaching. Mark Christ's words: He did not say, "I must heal," but "I must preach." The people were, no doubt, placing the emphasis upon the healing; Christ placed it on the preaching. The people came bringing the sick, and He healed them all; the next day they brought more sick, but He said, I must preach; I must preach in the next towns also.
Mark this well. Healing has its place, but it must not have the first place; it must not carry the emphasis.
2. The yearning for the next towns. There are some who would center all of their ministry on one locality. This is utterly wrong. Our commission is to the "uttermost part." We may begin at Jerusalem, or at any other city or towns; but we must not end there.
Christ was an itinerary preacher. Paul's missionary journeys stand before us in the lime-light. It may be all right for a church to have a local pastor, but the church dare not have a localized ministry. The church must reach out to other towns also. A missionary church will be a growing, God-blessed church. An anti-missionary church will be a dwindling, dying church.
3. The obedience of Christ. Christ said of His desire to go into the next towns, "Therefore am I sent." Beloved, we need to obey instructions; we need to go where we are sent, and to preach what we are told to preach.
Christ "learned obedience," have we? He did the will of the Father, do we? He said; "I do always those things that please Him." He said; "I delight to do Thy will, O My God." May we follow in His steps.
Forty or more years ago the beloved pastor of the First Baptist Church of Belton, Texas, was preaching a missionary sermon. In the midst of his sermon he lifted his hands up to Heaven in prayer and asked God to lay His hands upon some of the young men and young women of his congregation, and send them far hence with the gospel message.
Extending his hands toward the audience as he ceased his prayer, he cried, "Who will go, oh, who will go?" Immediately one of the fairest of the Belton Female College girls stood to her feet and said, "Father, I will go."
At first the preacher, who was none other than the beloved Dr. J. H. Luther, said, "Oh. Lord, I didn't mean Annie"; but that was only the first word from his lips. He was, in fact, only too glad that his daughter Annie could go. She is still in South America, the wife of our brother, Dr. W. B. Bagby.
As this message comes to thousands of young people meeting in their various societies, we wish to renew the plea of the veteran Texas preacher, saying, "Who will go?" R. E. N.
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Neighbour, Robert E. "Wells of Living Water Commentary on Luke 4". "Living Water". https://www.studylight.org/
the Third Week after Easter