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Jesus is here preaching to the People. A Man from the throng complains to him of his Brother. The Lord takes occasion therefrom to reprove Covetousness, and discourseth on several Subjects.
(1) In the mean time, when there were gathered together an innumerable multitude of people, insomuch that they trode one upon another, he began to say unto his disciples first of all, Beware ye of the leaven of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy: (2) For there is nothing covered, that shall not be revealed; neither hid, that shall not be known. (3) Therefore whatsoever ye have spoken in darkness, shall be heard in the light; and that which ye have spoken in the ear in closets, shall be proclaimed upon the housetops. (4) And I say unto you my friends, Be not afraid of them that kill the body, and after that have no more that they can do. (5) But I will forewarn you whom ye shall fear: Fear him, which after he hath killed, hath power to cast into hell; yea, I say unto you, Fear him. (6) Are not five sparrows sold for two farthings, and not one of them is forgotten before God? (7) But even the very hairs of your head are all numbered: fear not therefore: ye are of more value than many sparrows. (8) Also I say unto you, Whosoever shall confess me before men, him shall the Son of man also confess before the angels of God: (9) But he that denieth me before men, shall be denied before the angels of God. (10) And whosoever shall speak a word against the Son of man, it shall be forgiven him: but unto him that blasphemeth against the Holy Ghost, it shall not be forgiven. (11) And when they bring you unto the synagogues, and unto magistrates, and powers, take ye no thought how or what thing ye shall answer, or what ye shall say, (12) For the Holy Ghost shall teach you, in the same hour, what ye ought to say.
I cannot help remarking, upon the several discourses of Jesus, how very much his doctrine is directed against the Pharisees. Let any man gather, from the Gospels, the whole discourses of Jesus, and observe how large a part is spent in condemning that class of persons: and the reason is plain. No set of men whatever, no, not even the openly-profane, are as sworn foes to the full and finished salvation of Jesus as the Pharisees. For by setting up a righteousness of their own, or, what results from the same source, the unhumbled pride of human nature, in part they do, by so much lessen the vast importance of Christ and his redemption. Either the whole mass of men are dead in trespasses and sins, or they are not. If they are not, what need have they of a Savior? If they are, what an impudent attempt is it in the Pharisee, of any generation, to set himself up as a part-Savior! Pharisees, in the days of our Lord, were his most deadly foes; and Pharisees, in modern times, are the most deadly foes to his people. Our Lord's discourse, in those verses, very plain and simple as it is, seems to have been founded on the prospect he saw in his Church, what opposition his chosen ones would meet with, all the way through, from that class of people. Beware ye of the leaven of the Pharisees, which is hypocricy.
(13) And one of the company said unto him, Master, speak to my brother, that he divide the inheritance with me. (14) And he said unto him, Man, who made me a judge, or a divider, over you? (15) And he said unto them, Take heed, and beware of covetousness; for a man's life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth. (16) And he spake a parable unto them, saying, The ground of a certain rich man brought forth plentifully: (17) And he thought within himself, saying, What shall I do, because I have no room where to bestow my fruits? (18) And he said, This will I do: I will pull down my barns, and build greater; and there will I bestow all my fruits and my goods. (19) And I will say to my soul, Soul, thou hast much goods laid up for many years; take thine ease, eat, drink, and be merry. (20) But God said unto him, Thou fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee: then whose shall those things be, which thou hast provided? (21) So is he that layeth up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God.
How little this man from the crowd knew of Jesus, or of his business in this world! Sweetly doth the example of Jesus here teach, and ministers especially, to be disentangled from the concerns of the world, and to sit aloof from them as much as possible. It is blessed, however, to observe, how the Lord, took occasion from the request made to him, to raise a very interesting and blessed discourse. This rich fool, in Christ's parable, is but too often realized, and found to be a true character in the world. I have often thought what a most consummate fool this man must have been to speak thus to his soul. Why, the soul can neither eat nor drink. All the stores in barns, laid up by the worldling, cannot profit the soul. And what a selfish wretch, to talk of laying up, instead of saying, I will make new barns in the hungry bodies of the poor around me: I will make them my store-houses and my barns! But oh! thou dearest Lord Jesus! is not every man thus by nature, until taught by thy Holy Spirit, of the true treasure which thou causest thy people to inherit in making rich towards God? Reader! think, if it be possible, how many die as this rich fool died; who, in the midst of their childish pursuits, are suddenly called away to their awful account! Surely it will be one among the wonders of eternity, the mistaken calculations of such men. And will it not tend to aggravate their misery in eternity in having then a full view of the awful delusion under which they lived and died? in passing by, while upon earth, the cries of common nature, and foolishly hoarding what never gave them real happiness here, but treasured up wrath against the day of wrath hereafter? Compare those Scriptures, Proverbs 8:18-21 ; Job 21:7-12 .
(22) And he said unto his disciples, Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat; neither for the body, what ye shall put on. (23) The life is more than meat, and the body is more than raiment. (24) Consider the ravens: for they neither sow nor reap; which neither have storehouse nor barn; and God feedeth them: how much more are ye better than the fowls? (25) And which of you, with taking thought, can add to his stature one cubit? (26) If ye then be not able to do that thing which is least, why take ye thought for the rest? (27) Consider the lilies how they grow: they toil not, they spin not; and yet I say unto you, that Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. (28) If then God so clothe the grass, which is to-day in the field, and to-morrow is cast into the oven; how much more will he clothe you, O ye of little faith? (29) And seek not ye what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink, neither be ye of doubtful mind. (30) For all these things do the nations of the world seek after: and your Father knoweth that ye have need of these things. (31) But rather seek ye the kingdom of God; and all these things shall be added unto you.
Every word in this lovely discourse of Jesus is truly blessed. The images and figures are divinely chosen to represent the interesting subject the Lord had in view. The flower of the field is more strikingly expressive of dependence on the Lord's providence, in allusion to his exposed ones, than that of the garden would have been. For the latter is fenced in and watched over, but the former is open to the foot of every traveller, and may be bitten off by any beast in his forage. So, in like manner, the fowls of the air differ widely from those of the barn. They have no caterer, no store house, no shelter; and the bush they roost on one night, may be taken away before the next. Sweetly, by these images, Jesus teaches his apparently unprovided for family, that not one of them is forgotten before God. Reader! pray turn to that most blessed Scripture, Isaiah 27:2-3 ; and beg of God the Holy Ghost to write it down for you, for common use, in the hourly memorandums of your heart. In that day, sing ye unto her (the Church). A vineyard of red wine: I, the Lord , do keep it. I will water it every moment, lest any hurt it: I will keep it night and day.
(32) Fear not little flock; for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom. (33) Sell that ye have, and give alms: provide yourselves bags which wax not old, a treasure in the heavens that faileth not, where no thief approacheth, neither moth corrupteth. (34) For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also. (35) Let your loins be girded about, and your lights burning; (36) And ye yourselves like unto men that wait for their lord, when he will return from the wedding; that, when he cometh and knocketh, they may open unto him immediately. (37) Blessed are those servants whom the lord when he cometh, shall find watching: verily, I say unto you, That he shall gird himself, and make them to sit down to meat, and will come forth and serve them. (38) And if he shall come in the second watch, or come in the third watch, and find them so, blessed are those servants. (39) And this know, that if the good man of the house had known what hour the thief would come, he would have watched, and not have suffered his house to be broken through. (40) Be ye therefore ready also: for the Son of man cometh at an hour when ye think not. (41) Then Peter said unto him, Lord, speakest thou this parable unto us, or even to all? (42) And the Lord said, Who then is that faithful and wise steward, whom his lord shall make ruler over his household, to give them their portion of meat in due season? (43) Blessed is that servant whom his lord when he cometh shall find so doing. (44) Of a truth I say unto you, That he will make him ruler over all that he hath. (45) But, and if that servant say in his heart, My lord delayeth his coming; and shall begin to beat the men servants and maidens, and to eat and drink, and to be drunken; (46) The lord of that servant will come in a day when he looketh not for him, and at an hour when he is not aware, and will cut him in sunder, and will appoint him his portion with the unbelievers. (47) And that servant, which knew his lord's will, and prepared not himself, neither did according to his will, shall be beaten with many stripes. (48) But he that knew not, and did commit things worthy of stripes, shall be beaten with few stripes; for unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required; and to whom men have committed much, of him they will ask the more,
I shall have no occasion to offer much comment on this very blessed discourse of Jesus. His language is so plain as to need none. I shall only here and there call the Reader's attention to some of the more striking expressions the Lord is pleased to use. There is somewhat very interesting in Jesus calling his Church a little flock. Little, in comparison of the world's wide wilderness; but when all brought home by electing, redeeming, and effectual calling in grace, here in the present life, and to glory above, the Church is said to be a multitude which no man could number, Revelation 7:9 . The Lord hath been pleased to dignify his Church with several very striking names; but all highly descriptive. A beautiful flock, Jeremiah 13:20 . A flock of slaughter, Zechariah 11:4-7 . An holy flock, Ezekiel 36:38 . And by his same servant, most blessedly doth he call it, My flock, Ezekiel 34:17 . All Which prove the special and peculiar character of the Lord's people, 1 Peter 2:9 . And it is equally worthy the Reader's attention what Jesus saith in relation to the kingdom. It is said to be given. Fear not, little flock, it is your heavenly Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom. So that it is not man's purchase by merit, but God's gift by grace. And it is not only a gift, but a free gift, and wholly the result of God's good pleasure, Isaiah 43:21 ; Matthew 11:26 . Jesus's direction to his disciples, to wean themselves from earth and earthly connections, is very striking. And the figure of a man with his loins girded, and his light burning, is a beautiful allusion to servants of the east; whose long vestures were always
tucked up, and fastened to their girdles, when in waiting, that they might be able to run with speed, when their master's services required it. And this explains to us what the Prophet saith of the ministers of the Gospel, whose feet are uncovered when they run on the mountains, Isaiah 62:7 . But the most lovely of all the similitudes in this discourse of Jesus, is that in which he describes himself as girding himself, and coming forth to serve his faithful servants, whom he will make to sit down to meat. It is indeed impossible to form equal apprehensions of the grace and humility of the Lord Jesus. He who washed his disciples' feet, when in the moment he knew himself to be Lord of all, and all things were given into his sovereign hand, who shall calculate the wonderful extent of such grace? But without straining the expressions to the utmost limits, in beholding Jesus serving them, whose very happiness must be made up of serving him, it may serve to shew, in some measure, the overflowing love of his heart, which is wholly theirs; and every act of it directed for their happiness here, and to all eternity, Song of Solomon 2:14 .
(49) I am come to send fire on the earth, and what will I, if it be already kindled? (50) But I have a baptism to be baptized with, and how am I straitened till it be accomplished? (51) Suppose ye that I am come to give peace on earth? I tell you, Nay; but rather division: (52) For from henceforth there shall be five in one house divided, three against two, and two against three. (53) The father shall be divided against the son, and the son against the father, the mother against the daughter, and the daughter against the mother; the mother-in-law against her daughter-in-law, and the daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law.
Various have been the judgment of the godly concerning those expressions of our Lord, in the opening of this paragraph. What fire the Lord Jesus alluded to, doth not seem decidedly plain, so as to determine whose judgment is correct amidst the various opinions which have been formed, in relation to it. Some have conceived that it had respect to the work of God the Holy Ghost, Isaiah 4:4 ; Malachi 3:2 . And others refer it to the consequent persecution which followed Christ's preaching: and they conclude that the words of Jesus so explain it. And in relation to the baptism Jesus speaks of , equal difficulty, in point of determination, hath arisen. It could not mean the baptism of water, for this Christ had gone through. Neither of the Holy Ghost, for Jesus was full of the Holy Ghost, Luke 4:1 . The general tide of commentators runs in the supposition that he referred to our Lord's sufferings. But I confess it doth not strike me in that point of view; for what was the whole life of Jesus, upon earth anymore than a baptism? if so, from sorrows and exercises. But I leave the decision of it with the Lord, only begging to observe, that if Jesus was so straitened for the accomplishment of this baptism, whatever it might be, how ought the Lord's people to be on the continual look out, and humble waitings; for the baptisms of God the Holy Ghost?
(54) And he said also to the people, When ye see a cloud rise out of the west, straightway ye say, There cometh a shower: and so it is. (55) And when ye see the south wind blow, ye say, There will be heat; and it cometh to pass. (56) Ye hypocrites, ye can discern the face of the sky, and of the earth; but how is it that ye do not discern this time? (57) Yea, and why, even of yourselves, judge ye not what is right? (58) When thou goest with thine adversary to the magistrate, as thou art in the way, give diligence that thou mayest be delivered from him; lest he hale thee to the judge, and the judge deliver thee to the officer, and the officer cast thee into prison. (59) I tell thee, Thou shalt not depart thence till thou hast paid the very last mite.
We have those Scriptures already noticed, Matthew 16:2 and Matthew 5:25 , to which I refer.
Reader! the Holy Ghost is blessedly teaching the Church, in this chapter, sweet lessons of grace and of providence. In the view of the multitude pressing upon Jesus to hear the word of God, we are taught how precious ordinances are, where the Lord is present to bless them. And in the discourse of Jesus on the Lord's care over the birds of the air, and his glory displayed in the lilies of the field, we learn how everlastingly secure and provided for must be his redeemed ones. And in the contemplation of the foolish worldling, how strikingly doth Jesus shew the little value of riches, unsanctified by the blessing of the Lord. And should these reflections meet the eye of one of the Lord's timid fold, oh! for God the Spirit, to make that sweet Scripture blessed. Fear not, little flock, it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom. Hail! thou blessed Master of thine household, which promiseth such rich rewards to thy waiting servants! But wilt thou indeed condescend to such acts of humbleness as to gird thyself, and serve them? Was it ever heard of in the annals of mankind that ever a Lord did so? Solomon was struck with astonishment, that he, whom the heaven of heavens could not contain, should visit the house he had built with his presence. But what would this eastern prince have said, had he beheld Jesus the Son of God washing the feet of poor fishermen? Oh! for grace to know that love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that we may be filled with all the fullness of God!
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Hawker, Robert, D.D. "Commentary on Luke 12". "Hawker's Poor Man's Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 9 / Ordinary 14