Some very blessed Discourses of Christ are contained in this Chapter. The History of the Ten Lepers. Some of Christ's Prophecies.
(1) Then said he unto the disciples. It is impossible but that offences will come: but woe unto him through whom they come! (2) 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.
It was exceedingly to be wished that the carnal and ungodly part of mankind were to consider this. If they did, would they dare to do as they now too often do, to smite the Lord's little ones? But whether they will regard this counsel or not, let no child of God forget how highly Jesus prizeth the humblest and poorest of his people. Whoso toucheth you, toucheth the apple of his eye. Zechariah 2:8.
(3) Take heed to yourselves: If thy brother trespass against thee, rebuke him; and if he repent, forgive him. (4) 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. (5) And the apostles said unto the Lord, Increase our faith. (6) 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.
There is somewhat very striking in this prayer of the Apostles, and the suddenness of it, and the occasion upon which they so expressed themselves, is also striking. It should seem that they were astonished at the infinite benignity the Lord Jesus had just expressed on the subject of forgivenness; and in the moment, as if longing to be always in the exercise of it, they begged for an increase of faith, by which alone they knew they might practise it. Reader! let us daily do the same; and ask our dear and compassionate Jesus for larger tokens of this precious faith. 2 Peter 1:1; that on the view of the divine mercy of the Lord Jesus to our daily offences, we may find grace to exercise bowels of mercy to the infirmities of our brethren. Read that sweet Scripture by way of strengthening this lovely grace. Colossians 3:12-13.
(7) 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? (8) 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? (9) Doth he thank that servant because he did the things that were commanded him? I trow not. (10) 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.
This is a beautiful illustration in the supposed case of a servant ploughing, or feeding cattle, (which were among the lowest offices with the Jews. Isaiah 61:5.) to shew how utterly unprofitable, as it relates to the Lord, are the best services of the best men. And as this was particularly spoken to the Apostles, it should seem that Jesus had an eye to the ministers of his word and ordinances. Oh! how low, how very low before God, must every man lay, both ministers and people, who, taught of God the Holy Ghost, have learnt their own nothingness, unworthiness, and short coming. Reader! depend upon it, if the blood of the Lamb was not sprinkled upon our most holy things, our very prayers would come up unholy before the Lord. Read that solemn Scripture, Exodus 28:38. and behold there how the Great High Priest, under the law, typified Christ, our Almighty High Priest, under the Gospel. Oh! the blessedness of being accepted in the Beloved! Ephesians 1:6.
(11) And it came to pass, as he went to Jerusalem, that he passed through the midst of Samaria and Galilee. (12) And as he entered into a certain village, there met him ten men that were lepers, which stood afar off: (13) And they lifted up their voices, and said, Jesus, Master, have mercy on us. (14) And when he saw them, he said unto them, Go, shew yourselves unto the priests. And it came to pass, that, as they went, they were cleansed. (15) And one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, and with a loud voice glorified God, (16) And fell down on his face at his feet, giving him thanks. And he was a Samaritan. (17) And Jesus answering, said, Were there not ten cleansed? but where are the nine? (18) There are not found that returned to give glory to God, save this stranger. (19) And he said unto him, Arise, go thy way: thy faith hath made thee whole.
Our Lord was now, for the last time, going to Jerusalem, for the blessed purpose of finishing his redemption-work, by his sacrifice and death. It is very probable, that these ten men had heard of Jesus's mercy to poor lepers, and therefore, in a body, presented themselves all at once before him. But though coming to him as they did, like lepers conscious of their uncleanness, they stood afar off. See Matthew 8:1, etc. Leviticus 13:46. If my Reader hath the Poor Man's Concordance by him, I would refer him to consult it, under the word Master, for a full apprehension of that name as especially applicable to Jesus. I beg the Reader to observe the method the Lord Jesus was pleased to adopt in the healing of these men. Jesus said unto them, Go, shew yourselves unto the priests. Now this was God's command in the Old Testament dispensation, by way of the priests ascertaining the reality of the disease itself. See Leviticus 13:2-3. We may suppose, therefore, that in the case of these ten men, the thing had been already done; for they were shut out, in consequence of the disease, from civil and religious communion. When, therefore, the Lord Jesus commanded them to go and shew themselves to the priests, this was in conformity to the precept when the leprosy was healed. See Leviticus 14:2-3; and as a thing already done. What a beautiful view doth this give us of Christ's power and Godhead? No wonder, therefore, that when, by faith, they all, with one consent, departed to go to the priest, they were healed as they went. Reader! you and I may gather instruction here. It is blessed to be found in the way and in the use of means which the Lord hath appointed. But it is blessed also, as we go, to watch and discover the sovereign power and goodness of the Lord without means.
The striking character of the one, which instantly returned to Jesus on the discovery of his cure, opposed to the nine, which, if they went as Jesus had commanded them to the priests, returned not to thank their benefactor, is full of instruction. It is evident that this Samaritan had a lively sense who Christ was, by the display of this miracle. None but God could heal the leprosy. This, in his instance, Christ had done: and consequently in this view, Christ was God. And as such, with a loud voice that all around might hear, he glorified him. And now no longer unclean, he did not stand afar off, but fell down on his face at the feet of Jesus. But the most remarkable feature to be noticed in this miracle, as it related to this man, is that the Lord Jesus said unto him, his faith had made him whole. How is this? The whole ten were healed by Christ: and was there then anything special in this man's case? I would not be understood as speaking decidedly upon the subject; but I am inclined to think that there was, and that those persons differed widely in their characters, and in the mercy received. They were all healed of the leprosy of the body; but this man only of both leprosy of soul and body. And hence the different effects. When the ten felt their cure, nine of them had all they desired, all they asked for. But in this man, grace entered his soul, and healed a far deeper and more dreadful leprosy there; and, therefore, led by that awakening grace in the heart, he had forever done with Jewish priests and legal sacrifices, and fled to Christ the author and finisher of his salvation. Reader! if my views be right, we see at once the effect of distinguishing grace. Nine lepers, or in nine thousand, if only healed in body, will rise from beds of sickness as they lay down, never discerning the hand of that Lord, whose name is Jehovah Rophe: I am the Lord that healeth thee, Exodus 15:26. But the poor sinner, who feels and knows the leprosy of the soul, no sooner finds that Christ hath made him whole, but falls at his feet with a loud voice of thankfulness. Oh! the mercy of mercies, Jesus Christ; He goes no more to the law of a carnal commandment, but to Jesus, the High Priest, made after the power of an endless life. Hebrews 7:16.
(20) 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: (21) Neither shall they say, Lo, here; or lo, there: for, behold, the kingdom of God is within you.
Every enquiry of those Pharisees was with an evil design. But the Lord hath taken occasion from them to raise instructions to his people. Reader! while the men of that generation were looking for a temporal kingdom, and carnal men like them of every generation, have no higher object in view! Oh! that it may be our mercy to understand our dear Lord's words. The kingdom of the Lord Jesus Christ is set up in the hearts of his redeemed. It is from the gift of God the Father, the finished salvation of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the saving work of God the Holy Ghost. Hence Paul speaks of it, Romans 14:17-18.
(22) 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. (23) And they shall say to you, See here, or see there: go not after them, nor follow them. (24) 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, (25) But first must he suffer many things, and be rejected of this generation. (26) And as it was in the days of Noe, so shall it be also in the days of the Son of man. (27) They did eat, they drank, they married wives, they were given in marriage, until the day that Noe entered in the ark; and the flood came and destroyed them all. (28) Likewise also as it was in the days of Lot: they did eat, they drank, they bought, they sold, they planted, they builded; (29) But the same day that Lot went out of Sodom, it rained fire and brimstone from heaven, and destroyed them all (30) Even thus shall it be in the day when the Son of man is revealed. (31) 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, (32) Remember Lot's wife. (33) Whosoever shall seek to save his life shall lose it; and whosoever shall lose his life shall preserve it.
Our Lord took occasion, from this ill-designed question of the Pharisees, to instruct his people in respect to the day of visitation, partly, perhaps, with an eye to the destruction of Jerusalem, and partly in relation to the last day. All shall be sudden and unexpected as the days of the flood, or as the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, I cannot help noticing what Jesus saith respecting the destruction of the cities of the plain; that in the same day that Lot went out of Sodom it rained fire and brimstone from heaven, and destroyed them all. If the Reader will turn to the account of this awful event, as it is related by Moses, (Genesis 19:24) he will there observe, that it is said, that the Lord rained from the Lord out of heaven; a strong expression, as if Jehovah the Father answered what that glorious person (which seems to have been Christ himself,) who was present to this destruction as soon as Lot had entered Zoar, declared; and both concurred in the judgment. And let not the Reader overlook that such, Jesus saith, will be the final overthrow at the second coming of Christ. Beautifully the Lord refers to the awful consequence of an hankering after anything when the judgments of God are abroad, as in the instance of the wife of Lot. It is blessed to sit loose and detached to anything, and to everything here below, that when the angel of death comes, we may be ready to fly with him to our Zoar, Christ Jesus!
(34) 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. (35) Two women shall be grinding together; the one shall be taken, and the other left. (36) Two men shall be in the field; the one shall be taken, and the other left. (37) 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.
In these figures, the Lord very plainly and fully confirms his doctrine of distinguishing grace. And everything in life as decidedly answers to our Lord's discourse. What a blessed account of it Jesus hath given! Matthew 11:25-26. And what a testimony the experience of God, in all ages, bears to it! 2 Timothy 2:19. Reader! let not you or I put the unnecessary question, Where, Lord? For everywhere, and in all things, where the carcase of the ungodly is, destruction, like the eagle, will smell the scent afar off: and wheresoever Jesus is, thither will his people fly, as doves to their windows. Isaiah 60:8.
Oh! thou blessed Lord Jesus! well is it said by thee, that offences will come. Yes! thou, dear Lord! art thyself, to every carnal, unawakened sinner, a stone of stumbling, and rock of offence. Thy humble birth, thy meek deportment, thy cross, thy despised followers, to those who looked for temporal prosperity, was indeed an offence that nothing but sovereign grace could overcome. Blessed be that distinguishing grace of my God bestowed upon my poor heart, that I am no longer offended in thee!
Oh! for grace to every sensible, awakened sinner, to come to Jesus under the leprosy of sin. Would to God, I would say, like the poor captive servant in Syria, that all such were with my Lord, the Lord God of the prophets, that is Lord over Israel, Jesus. He can heal all of their leprosy of sin. Blessed Jesus! make all thy people sensible of this, according to the covenant promise in the day of thy power.
My soul! seek not for Christ's kingdom, in the mere outward things of observation; but seek it in the power of grace within, in the Lord's empire in the heart. Seek it in the Father's testimony of his dear Son; seek it in the complete, full, all-sufficient, and all-justifying righteousness, and blood shedding of the Lord Jesus Christ: and seek it in the precious, blessed, regenerating, and renewing grace of God the Holy Ghost. Here Jesus manifests his distinguishing love and mercy in the taking of one, and leaving the other; for while m any are called, few are chosen.
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Hawker, Robert, D.D. "Commentary on Luke 17". "Hawker's Poor Man's Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/
the Second Week after Epiphany