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Bible Commentaries

Sermon Bible Commentary

Luke 6

Verse 10

Luke 6:10


I. That spiritual powerlessness, of which the withered hand is a just and appropriate symbol. (1) The organ was a hand the organ of touch. (2) Not both this man's hands were withered, but the better and more serviceable of the two. Faith is the spiritual faculty, corresponding to the bodily faculty of touch. (3) It was the design of Nature that the man should use his hand, but disease had thwarted this design. So, in the Fall, the spirit of man sustained a wreck.

II. What Christ requires us to do in order to the removal of this infirmity. He demands exertion and energy on our parts before He will consent to put forth that healing power which alone can recover us from our soul's infirmity.

E. M. Goulburn, Sermons in the Parish Church of Holywell, p. 313.

References: Luke 6:10 . Christian World Pulpit, vol. xii., p. 57. Luke 6:11-18 . Homilist, new series, vol. iv., p. 627.

Verse 19

Luke 6:19

Outward pains and calamities are so many tokens and types of inward and spiritual evils, and Christ curing them by His touch gives us His own sure token of His will and power to cure all the diseases of our souls.

I. Blindness, for example we perceive at once what evil condition of the heart that represents. "Every one that doeth evil hateth the light," and shutteth his eyes against it, until at last he loses even the power of seeing. Such was the condition outwardly of the blind man, who sat and begged at the Temple gate, when Jesus passed by and made clay of the spittle, and anointed his eyes with the clay, and bade him wash in the pool of Siloam, and he went and washed and came seeing. In like manner, when heathens, blind and ignorant persons, are wandering in the darkness of this world, our blessed Redeemer applies Himself to their souls by ways which seem to the unbelieving mean and ordinary, as He made clay of the spittle, and anointed the man's eyes with the clay; and He sends them to the pool of Siloam, the laver of regeneration in baptism, and they receive inward sight, grace to see and to choose their duty.

II. So the sad helplessness, the inward palsy, of habitual and even deadly sin, is to be cured in one way, and in one way only. The man must be brought to Jesus Christ by the charitable prayers and help of kind friends, or Christ of His own mercy must come in His power where the man lies; and he not hindering the gracious work by unbelief, the Lord will say unto him, "Thy sins be forgiven thee: take up thy bed and walk." He will justify the sinner by His grace, begun in baptism or renewed in penitence, and the sinner forgiven will do the works of one in spiritual health.

III. As, then, oppressed, diseased persons in those days might know that our Lord was really come, by the healing which He bestowed on the bodies of the afflicted, so are we now to assure ourselves more and more that He is our only Saviour, our only way to happiness, by the help and comfort which He is sure to give us, if we draw nearer to Him continually in the keeping of His commandments. As faith was the condition of healing then, so is it the condition of grace now.

Plain Sermons by Contributors to "Tracts for the Times," vol. viii., p. 262.

Reference: Luke 6:20-49 . W. Hanna, Our Lord's Life on Earth, p. 161.

Verse 26

Luke 6:26

The Dangers of Praise.

I. It is more than probable that, if men speak well of you, their judgment of you is fallacious; you do not deserve it. "In the like manner did their fathers unto the false prophets." Men are fallible judges of one another's real character.

II. However fallacious the popular estimate, it has a direct tendency to carry us along with it. We naturally adopt other men's judgments, as upon other subjects, so also upon this, our own character.

III. And then follow certain practical consequences, all of them, in a Christian point of view, serious and even disastrous. (1) The first of these is the loss of humility. How can he, of whom all men men speak well, know what true humility is? He may, and he probably will, wear a mask over his pride, for that is a condition of being well spoken of; but the pride itself will be only hidden, not unmoved; and where pride is enthroned, there cannot be the mind meet for God's kingdom. (2) With the decay of humility comes the loss of watchfulness. If we are not conscious, and painfully conscious, of infirmity and of sinfulness, how can we watch? Why should we watch? (3) And with the loss of humility and the loss of watchfulness comes, as a natural consequence, the loss of strength. Praise is an essentially enfeebling and enervating thing. It relaxes the sinews of the mind as sultry weather those of the body. Praise promotes repose; self-satisfaction first, and as its natural result the intermission of effort. (4) Again, it is an effect of being well spoken of, to make a man covet that approbation, and at last live for it. It is a pleasant thing to be popular; human nature loves it, and finds it very hard either to sit loose to it when gained, or to do anything which may endanger it. (5) The praise of men has a direct tendency to attach us to earth, and make us forget heaven. To be a Christian is to have your heart in heaven, where Christ sitteth. What a distracting effect must the sound of earthly applause have upon one whose ear is attentively listening for the still small voice from heaven!

C. J. Vaughan, Memorials of Harrow Sundays, p. 175.

References: Luke 6:26 . F. W. Aveling, Christian World Pulpit, vol. xiv., p. 4.Luke 6:31 . Preacher's Monthly, vol. i., p. 260; Homiletic Magazine, vol. xiii., p. 244; J. B. Walton, Christian World Pulpit, vol. xxix., p. 43.Luke 6:32 , Luke 6:34 . Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. xxvii., No. 1584.

Verses 36-38

Luke 6:36-38

The Gospel Teaching.

I. "Be ye merciful, as your Father also is merciful." And how merciful God is! It is the attribute, the quality, by which He is distinguished. And that mercy of God is proposed for our imitation. Remember that mercy, pity, compassion, a readiness to be appeased, a wish to take a more favourable view of our neighbours' faults, that this is the teaching of the Master a teaching enforced by His own example.

II. "Judge not, and ye shall not be judged." Well did our Lord know what was in man when He gave us this commandment. For what is there so common as this very fault of judging and condemning our neighbour? We all are too apt to set up for judges; we all have our eyes too open to see the faults of our neighbour; and we all shut our eyes too close upon our own failings. Be sure that as followers of Jesus Christ, as men who look to Him for guidance as well as for salvation, we are bound to be especially careful, not hastily, not without the strongest cause, to take upon ourselves to be judges and condemners of our brethren.

III. "Give, and it shall be given unto you." There is the golden rule of God. As you deal by others, so shall you be dealt with by Him. Be kind, be liberal, be ready to make allowance, easy to be appeased, be ready to do good with what means you have, and by this same measure it shall be measured to you again in the day of necessity. "The liberal soul shall be made fat, and he that watereth shall be watered also himself."

R. D. B. Rawnsley, Village Sermons, 4th series, p. 1.

I. "Be ye merciful." These words were spoken to an age in which mercy was poorly esteemed. Among the old Roman virtues mercy held an insignificant place. The gods themselves were unmerciful. Prometheus bound to his rock through centuries bore witness to the implacable resentment of Jews. The savage instinct by which the sick and feeble are left to perish by the wayside, while the strong hurry on unheeding, survived even among the comparatively tender-hearted Hebrews. There was a wounded traveller on many a high road, and priest and Levite preferred to let him perish. Hospitals, infirmaries, homes for the aged and the sick, were undreamed of by the most enlightened statesmanship of the age, the extraordinary efforts which men made to secure the survival of the fittest froze their hearts, and the fittest became themselves the most unworthy. It was the age, too, of slavery. No one can look into the ghastly history of Roman slavery without realising how much Christ's words have done for men. Every cross set up on the Appian way was the landmark of the decaying civilisation. How strangely such words as these must have sounded to the early Christians even after they were enlightened "Paul, the slave of Jesus Christ," "Peter a slave and an Apostle!"

II. We sometimes hear it said that our age is too merciful. The reason is, that some who use words loosely confuse mercy with lack of moral fibre. We must be so merciful, that we be not too remiss. The mercy of God has nothing inconsistent with the sternest justice. Mercy in man is not the lazy acquiescence with things as they are, an idle benevolence that finds it comfortable to hold that "whatever is is right." It demands effort, energy, the concentration of the will. In its highest form it is found only in company with strong matured graces of the Christian life.

III. Few realise the marvellous influence of mercy. It calls out all that is noblest in its object. By giving him new hope it restores his belief in goodness. Nothing can be truly great but gentleness. In its highest form it is the charity which is the bond of perfectness, and which lasts when tongues have ceased, and even prophecies have vanished.

[ Original. ]

References: Luke 6:36 . H. J. Wilmot-Buxton, The Life of Duty, vol. i., p. 35; Homiletic Magazine, vol. vi., p. 193.Luke 6:36 , Luke 6:37 . Clergyman's Magazine, vol. iv., p. 225.Luke 6:36-42 . Ibid., vol. ii., p. 348; Homiletic Quarterly, vol. i., p. 202.

Verse 37

Luke 6:37

Christian Judgment of Others.

I. When we read, "Judge not," "Condemn not," I believe we must approach the prohibition with some such thoughts as these: "Judge and condemn I must. I cannot go through life as a good Christian, or as a useful citizen, or as a worthy filler of any of the relations of life, without repeatedly, and even daily, doing both these things. But what my Master commands seems to be: that I should not make this, which is a duty and a necessity, to be my constant habit and propensity. I must judge, true, but I need not always be judging; I must condemn, true, but my judgment must not always come to that result. 1 must judge of all men, at one time or another, but let my judgment, where it is an approving one, issue in confidence, so that I may sympathise with, and love and trust, others not in an unsatisfactory habit of ever breaking up the grounds of charity, in want of confidence, withholding of sympathy, absence of trust, refusal of love. I must judge, but I may never pre-judge."

II. How are we to understand the promises by which these commands, "Judge not and condemn not," are followed? "Ye shall not be judged," and "Ye shall not be condemned." Two meanings at once occur to us, both, I believe, included. The first regards the judgment of men, "Ye shall not be judged, if ye judge not others." Men are accustomed to deal easily with one who deals easily with them. But we should be falling short of our Lord's intention in both cases were we to stop with this reference. This appears both à priori, from its unsatisfactory nature, as furnishing a Christian motive, and by the concluding words of this verse: "Forgive, and ye shall be forgiven." For this same saying occurs in another form at the end of the Lord's Prayer, in Matt. vi., where Christ says: "For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you." The persons addressed are Christians persons justified by faith, and waging the Christian conflict in the power of the spirit. In each case the command is one enjoining a mind or an act suitable to their high calling of God in Christ; the promise is one belonging to God's covenant in Christ. Everyone who endures in that covenant shall be forgiven; not because he has forgiven others, but because he has appropriated the blood of Jesus Christ by faith, and that blood cleanseth from all sin.

H. Alford, Quebec Chapel Sermons, vol. v., p. 49.

I. How are we to understand these words? Does the Saviour mean that we are to form no opinion whatever about the character and conduct of persons with whom we come into contact? Or that, if we form an opinion, it must always be a favourable one? Obviously not. In the first place, to do so were simply impossible. The same faculty in us which inclines us to approve of a noble deed, inclines us also to disapprove of an ignoble one. We like the one; we dislike the other. Instinctively and gradually, by fine and almost imperceptible accretions, an estimate of our neighbour grows up in our mind, which is most truly and really a judgment which we pass upon him. Our Saviour here means that there can be no legitimate judging of others, except where there has been previously a severe and thorough-going judging of oneself. He means that the only man to form a proper estimate of the conduct of his neighbours is the man who lies humbly before God as a sinner himself; and who, conscious of his own deep need of forgiveness, is continually coming to the fountain opened for sin and uncleanness. Such a man will indeed for he must form opinions about others. Sometimes he may even be constrained to blame and to rebuke; but when he does so, he will do it with reluctance, and not with satisfaction with moderation, and not with exaggeration with love, and not with harshness. Such a spirit would show itself (1) in our putting the best possible construction we can on the behaviour of others; (2) another result would be that we should never dare to pronounce upon the final doom of a fellow-creature.

II. "Forgive, and ye shall be forgiven." God will mete out to us the severity with which we deal with others. Christianity does not forbid us to discern sin in others; nay, it enjoins upon us occasionally to rebuke sin, but always in a tender, loving spirit, and as those who, being conscious of the evil in themselves, desire their brother's real and lasting benefit. But Christianity also says: "If you take pleasure in condemnation, and condemn others in a censorious and self-exalting spirit, beware of the consequences which you are bringing down upon yourself. You are dictating to God the method in which He shall deal with you at the great day of judgment; you are for giving others justice without mercy, and you shall have justice without mercy yourself."

G. Calthrop, Words Spoken to My Friends, p. 284.

Reference: Luke 6:37 . H. J. Wilmot-Buxton, Sunday Sermonettes for a Year, p. 142.

Verse 38

Luke 6:38

This is one of those keen-edged, far-reaching sayings of our Lord's which make us understand the testimony of the Apostle who knew Him best: "He needed not that any should testify of man, for He knew what was in man" one of those sayings which sum up in a few words the experience of all lives and of many sides of life. Our consciousness witnesses to its truth, and in doing so witnesses to the justice of the world of what has been called God's "natural government."

I. It is true as between man and man. Such as we are to others, such in the long-run will others be to us. Generosity calls out generosity; confidence wins confidence; love is answered to by love. We know all this very well, though we sometimes forget it. Men are to us what we are to them. The disposition that hoards, that grudges, that counts up its own rights, and is extreme to mark any omission or slight on the part of another, seals up men's hearts against itself. "Give, and it shall be given," even in money; but in things far beyond money in love, trust, loyalty, hearty and affectionate service.

II. It is true, again, as between ourselves and life. Life, too, is what we make it, deals with us as we deal with it. To the selfish it is as a churl. To the generous it opens its fountains of beauty and happiness. Give your best, and you shall receive its best. Stinted and measured labour, half-hearted devotion, lukewarm interest what mutilated results, what poor inadequate returns do they always bring, in youth and in age, in work and in play. Lose yourself, forget yourself in healthy work, in true love, in a noble cause, and you will find yourself again in a larger, freer, happier life.

III. Once more, the saying is verified as between ourselves and God, "With what measure ye mete." Even He is, in a sense, to us what we are to Him. Pray, and your prayers shall be heard. Believe, and God will be real to you. Trust and obey, and you shall know that you have not trusted in vain. Shut yourself up from Him, and He will shut Himself up from you.

E. C. Wickham, Wellington College Sermons, p. 146.

The first word to be said on this subject and one which must come before the word which we are specially to consider is "Get." Fill the basket and the store. The desire of possessing is one of the springs of many a noble character and of many a noble career. It is one of the root principles of the manifold and wonderful activity and enterprise and resource of our industrial life. That principle builds our cities, wings our ships, extends our empire over all the world. A great part of Christian virtue and goodness consists in harmonising this principle with others; but without it nothing could be done. And now comes the second word, "Give." Begin to give as soon as you begin to get. That, and that only, will prevent the danger of a growing covetousness.

I. The giving should be in some proportion to the income. I do not presume to fix the proportion with arithmetical exactness. There are insuperable difficulties in the way of fixing or naming any numerical proportions for Christian liberality. But we insist on the principle of a fair and just proportion, and on the consequent duty of the individual to turn the principle into practice, and to find out for himself how much his own proportion ought to be.

II. This proportion will never be reached, or, at any rate, will hardly for any long time be continued, except in connection with another principle of far deeper hold and wider sway: the principle that what is left is given top that all we have belongs to God that we ourselves are not our own. This principle penetrates to the very centre of our being, and sweeps round the widest circumference of our life. It is becoming more and more evident that the religion of Christ is such that we cannot touch the spirit and essence of it by anything less than wholeness of consecration. But when we give the whole ourselves, our endowments, our possessions then the giving of each part in fit time and place cannot be less than a blessedness and a joy.

III. It is also true that we shall never understand really what Christian giving is until we get beyond and above what is called the "duty" of it to this higher ground, where only the blessedness of it will be felt, and where we shall hear very clearly the Master's words, standing as we shall do in His nearer presence, "It is more blessed to give than to receive."

A. Raleigh, From Dawn to the Perfect Day, p. 204.

References: Luke 6:38 . H. Whitehead, Christian World Pulpit, vol. xiv., p. 19; Church of England Pulpit, vol. viii., p. 89; F. O. Morris, Ibid., vol. xvii., p. 49; Preacher's Monthly, vol. v., p. 346; E. H. Abbott, Church of England Pulpit, vol. iv., p. 278. Luke 6:39 , Luke 6:40 . Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. xxi., No. 1248.

Verse 40

Luke 6:40

Life, the School for Eternity.

I. Look at the Great Teacher. Let anyone, that ever has been taught by anyone, say what are the requisites to make pleasant and effective teaching. Even a child will answer, "Two things: a thorough knowledge of his subject, and a power of sympathising with the mind which he is instructing." What must it be, then, to be taught by omniscience? by Him who can say, of all knowledge, in a sense no other could pretend unto, "I speak that I have seen"? How easy to learn the most difficult thing in the universe, when He makes it like a sunbeam. And yet, all the while, of all the things Jesus knows, there is nothing He knows so well as He knows man his capability, his weakness, his slowness, his perplexities. So that His omniscience is not greater than His compassion and consideration.

II. From the Master look at the lesson-book. A book with a precept, and an example, and an illustration upon every point: deep principles carried out rightly to their lofty conclusions close reasoning with exquisite imagery appeals to the affections always running equal with the convictions of the understanding. Now in this school, where Christ teaches the Bible, it is unnecessary for me to remark that no scholar can ever be greater than his Master.

III. "Every one that is perfect shall be as his master." The word does not convey equality, but similarity. The reflection is not equal to the original ray, but it is "as it." The picture is not like the original, but it is "as it." The inferior intellect is as the loftier mind from which it has taken its tone and sentiments. Therefore the true sense is this: "Every one whom God has furnished" that is the original word "shall resemble his master." As the well-taught pupil takes the colour from his preceptor, so shall you, by little and by little, take the mind of Jesus. You shall see things from the same standpoint. Your thoughts, your ideas, your modes of action, your inner man, shall gradually assimilate to Him. There shall be similarity.

J. Vaughan, Fifty Sermons, 2nd series, p. 368.

References: Luke 6:40 . Expositor, 1st series, vol. xi., p. 178; C. C. Bartholomew, Sermons Chiefly Practical, p. 231.Luke 6:41 . J. Baines, Sermons, p. 73; J. Keble, Sermons for Sundays after Trinity, part i., p. 118. Luke 6:41 , Luke 6:42 . D. Fraser, Metaphors of the Gospels, p. 38. Luke 6:43 , Luke 6:44 . Ibid., p. 76. Luke 6:44 . Homilist, vol. vi., p. 361.Luke 6:45 . J. Martineau, Endeavours after the Christian Life, p. 487. Luke 6:46-49 . Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. xxix., No. 1702.

Verses 47-48

Luke 6:47-48

The Fortress Home.

There are here two great periods set before us: one, when the builders are occupied in working, themselves and their work being all in all; the other, when they and their work together are being tested by forces from without, and no additions can be made of importance. It is too late then. You cannot build in a storm.

I. All doing of right and duty in a Christian land is hearing Christ's words and doing them. Christ's words have touched everything we do with holy power. Every one of you is playing the part of one or other of the two builders mentioned. You are building your character by thoughts, words, and actions, daily; and the true building is to be a fortress against coming storms. The storm will not come yet, but it shall come in time. But mark this: how strong, how earnest, how uninviting the beginning is! Digging deep, and building underground. What forethought, what labour, what collecting of materials, and for a long time nothing to show for it; nothing above ground, no beauty. Whilst the building without foundations begins at once to make a show, to give shelter, to excite admiration, to please the eye, and to answer every purpose of summer enjoyment.

II. When the flood does come, and beats upon the principles and character formed in earlier years of toil, one feels the rocks, and wonders how all good work has been secretly framed so as to save at last in the hour of need. Nothing honestly done for good ever is lost. It is a stone in the building, and nobody can ever tell beforehand on which stone or stones the flood shall beat most violently. You ought all to be building fortress homes for the coming hour, when there will be no time, when it will be too late to think about protecting yourselves from the flood. Dig deep to find the rock. Be not contented with less; find Christ, be true, build on His truth. It is a glorious thing day by day to become more and more sure that your life is on the rock, your work eternal, to find happiness, rest and peace, the fruit of faithful honest work, to have heard Christ, to have trusted Him, and built your fortress home on Him.

E. Thring, Uppingham Sermons, vol. i., p. 10.

References: Luke 6:47-49 . Expositor, 1st series, vol. ix., p. 90. Luke 6:49 . H. J. Wilmot-Buxton, Sunday Sermonettes for a Year, p. 91.Luke 7:1-10 . G. Macdonald, Miracles of Our Lord, p. 138; W. Hanna, Our Lord's Life on Earth, p. 108; T. Birkett Dover, The Ministry of Mercy, p. 47; T. R. Stevenson, Christian World Pulpit, vol. xiii., p. 59; Preacher's Monthly, vol. iii., p. 27. Luke 7:2-9 . C. Kingsley, Town and Country Sermons, p. 213.Luke 7:3-5 . Homiletic Quarterly, vol. ii., p. 751.Luke 7:4-9 . Ibid., vol. iii., p. 90; Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. x., No. 600. Luke 7:5 . J. C. Galloway, Christian World Pulpit, vol. xiv., p. 40. Luke 7:6 . Expositor, 1st series, vol. iv., p. 31.Luke 7:6-8 . Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. xiv., No. 800. Luke 7:9 . Bishop Moorhouse, Christian World Pulpit, vol. xxix., p. 296. Luke 7:11 . J. H. Evans, Thursday Penny Pulpit, p. 325.Luke 7:11-15 . A. Mackennal, Christ's Healing Touch, p. 142; Clerical Library: Expository Sermons on the New Testament, p. 72; A. Macleod, Talking to the Children, p. 81; S. A. Brooke, Christian World Pulpit, vol. xvi., p. 305.Luke 7:11-16 . T. R. Stevenson, Ibid., vol. xvii., p. 197. Luke 7:11-17 . Homiletic Quarterly, vol. i., p. 350; Clergyman's Magazine, vol. iii., p. 153; T. Birkett Dover, The Ministry of Mercy, p. 54; W. Hanna, Our Lord's Life on Earth, p. 109. 169. 12. J. Vaughan, Fifty Sermons, 2nd series, p. 319. Luke 7:12-16 . Homilist, vol. v., p. 361.Luke 7:12-17 . G. Macdonald, The Miracles of Our Lord, p. 190.

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Nicoll, William R. "Commentary on Luke 6". "Sermon Bible Commentary".