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Christ disputeth with the Pharisees touching divorcement: blesseth the children that are brought unto him: resolveth a rich man how he may inherit life everlasting: telleth his disciples of the danger of riches: promiseth rewards to them that forsake any thing for the gospel: foretelleth his death and resurrection: biddeth the two ambitious suitors to think rather of suffering with him: and restoreth to Bartimeus his sight.
Anno Domini 33.
Mark 10:1. By the farther side of Jordan— Through the country upon the Jordan. Campbell.
Mark 10:12. And if a woman shall put away her husband,— Though it is certain that the Jewish law did not put it in a woman's power to divorce her husband; yet it is plain from Josephus, that it was done, not only by several ladies of distinguished rank, but even that his own wife did it, having probably learned of the Roman women, who, in this age, are known to have practised it in the most scandalous manner. See Juv. Sat. 6. ver. 222, &c. Compare 1 Samuel 25:44. 1Co 7:13 and Lardner's Credibility, part 1: vol. 2 p. 890.
Mark 10:15. Whosoever shall not, &c.— "As to adult persons, I assuredly tell you, who, by your behaviour on this occasion, plainly need the admonition, whoever he be, that does not embrace the Gospel of the kingdom with humility and meekness, free from hypocrisy, wrath and malice, pride and ambition, in resemblance of the temper of a little child, shall never be a partaker of its great and glorious blessings."
Mark 10:17-19. There came one running,— St. Luk 18:18 calls this person αρχων τις, a certain ruler, by which may be meant either a ruler of the synagogue, or a member of the sanhedrim. This person expected to have found Jesus in the city of Ephraim; but when he understood he had justleft that place to go to Jerusalem, he ran after him, and, coming up to him, he kneeled to him, in token of respect, and addressed him upon an important question, with the title of good master, or, as the words might better be rendered, good teacher. See on Matthew 23:7. This young ruler, in his address, intended or pretended to do great honour to Jesus, by kneeling to him, and giving him the title of good teacher, and asking him such an important question, with an air as if he would have acquiesced in his decision whatever it might be. Jesus therefore first of all rebuked him for the flattery of his address, Mark 10:18. Why callest thou me good? There is none good, but one,—that is God. "What means thy calling me, by way of eminence, Good, since thou dost not take me to be any thing more than a man? This title is too high and flattering to be applied so emphaticallyto any rabbi, or mere creature; forthere is none absolutely good but God himself, who is the author of every kind of goodness." See Matthew 19:17. However, because he had expressed a desire of knowing the way to eternal life, and possessed somevirtuous dispositions, Jesus answered his questions, by directing him to keep the commandments of the second table of the law, Mar 10:19 which he mentioned on this occasion, not because they are of greater importance than the precepts of the first, but because there is a necessary connection between the duties of piety towards God, and of justice, temperance, and charity towards men; and because these latter are not so easily counterfeited as the former. As St. Mark seems to put the words defraud not for the tenth commandment, some have supposed it to be a key to the sense of those words, thou shalt not covet; as if it had been said, "Thou shalt not be so desirous of thy neighbour's possessions, as to be willing to injure the owner, by depriving him of them, that thou mayest securethem to thyself." But St. Paul strongly intimates, that the sense of that command is much more extensive, Romans 7:7.: and as the preceding commandments had forbidden to invade the life, the bed, the property, or reputation of another; so this undoubtedly requires a guard on those irregular appetites and passions, which might by insensible degrees lead men to murder, adultery, theft, or false testimony.
Mark 10:20-22. All these have I observed, &c.— The phrase εκ νεοτητος, may indeed be very exactly rendered from my youth; but as he was yet but a young man, Mat 19:20 it is probably here put for infancy or childhood. It is plain that he did not understand the spiritual meaning and intent of the law, according to our Lord's explication of it in his sermon on the mount, or he would not have pleaded his exact obedience. But the Jews in general seem to have thought, that if they abstained from gross crimes, sacrifices might atone for smaller neglects or offences; and this compound seems tohave been that righteousness of their own, in which, to their final ruin, they trusted for justification before God, in neglect of the righteousness which is of God by faith, Compare Rom 10:3 and Philippians 3:9. This ruler had most probably maintained a fair external character amid the temptations of youth, of wealth, and greatness: but I can by no means believe, that it was upon this account that Jesus loved him.The nature of all true religion, as held forth in the Gospel, forbids this idea. It was most probably on account of the sweetness of his disposition, visible even in his countenance; a thing amiable, though found in a character tainted with pride, and the love of the world,—that Jesus loved him: and with this the words of the evangelist seem best to agree. Then Jesus, beholding him,—looking steadfastly upon him,—lovedhim.Butnotwithstandingtheyoungrulerhadmaintainedafaircharacter, and was blessed with great sweetness of disposition, he was not only puffed up with a high opinion of his own righteousness, but altogether faulty in respect of his affection for worldly and sensual enjoyments; a sin which perhaps had escaped his own observation. Wherefore Jesus, willing to make him sensible of the secret sore of his mind, touched it gently, to shew him that he lacked a great deal still, and had by no means arrived at that pitch of virtue which he boasted, but was worldly-minded in a high degree. Jesus required him to sell his estate, to distribute the price of it to the poor, and to become a preacher of the Gospel; promising him a much greater estate in return,—treasure in heaven. He could not refuse to do this, if he was the good man that he pretended to be, since he had in words acknowledged Christ's divine mission, and had desired to know what more, besides obedience to the moral law, was necessary to render him perfect in goodness. When our lord says, one thing thou lackest, we are not to suppose that he meant but one thing; for the Pharisaic righteousness of the young ruler disqualified him for all the righteousness of the Gospel,—foralltheholinesswhichflowsfromhumblelove.He wanted that humility, which makes us conscious of our infinite demerit, and makes us willing to part with every thing which keeps us from the Saviour, as dross and dung. When the ruler heard what was necessary for him, that is, to part with all for Christ,—he was greatly disconcerted, insomuch that, without making any reply, he went away grieved; for he had a great estate, which he could not by any means think of parting with. See the note on Matthew 19:21. The truth is, though God does not absolutely require every man to distribute all hisgoods to others, and so in effect to become one of the number of poor to be relieved out of his own possessions; yet, since holiness and piety demand an habitual readiness, not only to sacrifice our possessions, but our lives, at the command of God; and Providence does in fact call some out to trials as severe as this; the young man's refusal plainly shewed, that he valued his worldly possessions more than eternal life; and our Lord, with consummate wisdom, took this direct and convincing way of manifesting, both to himself and others, that secret insincerity and carnalityof temper, which prevailed under all these specious pretences and promising appearances. It has been conjectured by some, from the circumstance of his being called a young man, (see Matthew 19:22.) that this ruler was unmarried; on which account our Lord's command was less grievous to him than if he had had a wife and children. It may be proper just to hint, that there are some who view this passage of Scripture in a rather different light; supposing the young man, however attached to the world, yet sincere in his application to Christ. They observe, that he proposed his important question with the higher deference and respect to our blessed Lord, as well as with the greatest eagerness to know his sentiments. He came running, he kneeled, and he addressed him under the title of good Master, which was a title of peculiar and unusual respect, it being scarcely to be met with any where else in the Scriptures. It is true, continue they, upon our Saviour's informing him of the qualifications necessary to be acquired, and of the commands requisite to be kept, to entitle him to eternal life, he answered that, He had kept all those things from his youth: yet there is nothing in these words which necessarily leads us to conclude that they were spoken arrogantly, or with a vain and groundless ostentation. St. Paul, who was remarkable for the low and humble thoughts which he entertained of himself, has used terms not greatly unlike them, 2 Corinthians 1:12.Acts 22:16; Acts 22:16. Had they been the language of arrogance and false presumption, our Saviour most probably would have charged him with this crime, either expressly, or by some distant hint, as we usually find him treating persons of such character; yet as nothing of this kind appears, but indeed the very contrary, our Saviour looking upon this young man immediately after he had uttered these words, and loving him, we cannot, without offering an indignity to our Saviour's character, suppose him to entertain the least degree of approbation towards aninsolentassuminghypocrite,vainlyjustifyinghimselfforrighteousness,thoughreally destitute of all true goodness, the same observations are in general applicable to his third question, What lack I yet? It is evident therefore, say they, that this young person was desirous of being acquainted with our Saviour's sentiments concerning his first question, from the high opinion that he had of him. See Matthew 19:0. Luke 18:0 and the Inferences.
Mark 10:25. A camel— Or, A cable. See on Matthew 19:24.
Mark 10:27. With men it is impossible, but not with God, &c.— This is indeed utterly impossible to every man by any power of his own; but is not so to the mercy and power of God, with whom nothing is too hard to do: he can make an effectual change upon the heart by regenerating grace, and enable it freely to renderup all the affluence of this world, and every thing which is dearest to it here, when they stand in competition with me, and the blessings of my kingdom, and when he demands a resignation of them for his glory.
Mark 10:29. There is no man that hath left, &c.— Our Lord is not here speaking of such as have actually separated themselves from the persons, and parted with the possessions here mentioned; for if that had been his meaning, he would not have said, that wives and children were to be forsaken, having himself, on a former occasion, expresslyprohibited divorce on any account, except fornication. He is speaking of those, who, for his sake and the Gospel's, have renounced the pleasures and satisfaction which relations and possessions usually afford. See Luke 14:33. Our Lord promises to all such great rewards, He shall receive, &c. Mark 10:30. "He who hath forsaken all for my sake, shall be no loser in the issue; because God, who designs to admit him into heaven, will give him the comforts necessary to support him in his journeythither, and will raise him up friends, who shall be as serviceable to him as the nearest kindred whom he has forsaken. By the special benignity of Providence he shall have every thing valuable, which relations or possessions can minister to him: and, besides, shall have persecutions, whose heat shall nourish virtues in him of such excellent efficacy, as to yield him, even in this present world, joys a hundred times better than all earthly pleasures: but, above all, in the world to come, he shall have everlasting life. His afflictions contributing to the growth of his graces, which are the wings of his soul, he shall in due time be raised on them even up to heaven, leaving all sorrows behind him, and shall fly swiftly into the bosom of God, the fountain of life and joy, where he shall have full amends made him for all the evils that he may have undergone on account of Christ and his Gospel." See on Matthew 19:30.
Mark 10:32. They were in the way going up, &c.— The rulers at Jerusalem had issued out a proclamation against our Lord, immediately after the resurrection of Lazarus, and probably promised a reward to any that would apprehend him, John 11:57. This seems to have been the reason why the disciples were amazed. The alacrity which their Master shewed in so dangerous an expedition, surprized them, and they were afraid, being struck with a fearful apprehension of the consequences while they followed him. They all expected indeed that the kingdom was immediately to appear, Luke 19:11.; but recollecting what had been said to them concerning the difficulty of rich men's entering into it, and comparing that declaration with the behaviour of the rulers, who had hitherto opposed and persecuted Jesus, they became very apprehensive of the dangers they should be exposed to at Jerusalem. In such circumstances our Lord knew that a repetition of the prophesy concerning his own sufferings was proper, because it shewed the disciples that they were entirely voluntary; and as he told them expressly, that they had been predicted by the prophets, the opposition he was to meet with, though it would end with his death, instead of weakening their faith, ought to have increased it; especially as he informed them at the same time, that he would rise again the third day. See the next verses, and the note on Matthew 20:18.
Mark 10:33-34. Shall condemn—shall deliver, &c.— Will condemn, &c.
Mark 10:46. Blind Bartimeus, the son of Timeus,— Bartimeus, which signifies in the Syriac language, the son of Timeus.
Mark 10:50. He, casting away his garment,— That is, his upper garment, that it might not hinderhim a moment in his approach to Christ. The blind man herein furnishes us with an instructive lesson, that we should rise no less eagerly, no less gladly cast away our cloak, lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and without all delay or hesitation follow Christ in the way, running with patience the race that is set before us, whenever he calls us by his word and Spirit. Our repentance must not be deferred from day to day: but to-day, if we will hear his voice, we must take care not to harden our hearts.
Mark 10:51. That I might receive my sight.— That I may have my sight. Heylin. That I may recover my sight. Doddridge: who observes that this is the exact meaning of αναβλεψω ; which seems to import, that he was not born blind, but lost his sight by some disease or accident, which made him so much the more sensible of the calamity. It appears, however, from John 9:11; Joh 9:18 that the word is sometimes used in a greater latitude.
Mark 10:52. Hath made thee whole.— Σεσωκεσε, hath saved thee, which seems evidently to refer to something more than a mere bodily cure.
Inferences drawn from the application of the young ruler to Christ—When our Saviour dwelt upon earth, he found a young man in the coasts of Judea, who preferred the riches of this world to all the treasures of heaven;—and yet Jesus cast an eye of love upon him. This love was not properly a divine love, except as a love of pity. We must understand it chiefly in this sense, that the affections of his human nature were drawn out towards something that was very amiable in this young Israelite. He approved of those accomplishments which he beheld in him, and felt a sort of complacency in his person and character. He had a desire after his welfare which was more than human. He gave him divine instructions for this end, and pitied him heartily that he was so far gone in the love of the world, as to forego the offer of heaven.
The qualities which might chiefly attract our Saviour's peculiar love were probably such as these: he was young, and it is likely had something very agreeable in his aspect. His carriage was courteous and obliging; for he kneeled before our Lord, and saluted him with much civility. He had a religious education and much outward sobriety and virtue, so that he was ready to think himself a complete saint. All these commands, says he, have I kept from my youth; yet he was willing to receive further instructions, if any thing else were necessary in order to eternal life. Add to all this, that he was rich and powerful; he was a ruler among the Jews, and had large possessions; which made his condescension and other virtues appear the more amiable, because they are too often wanting in persons of an exalted station.
From this remarkable person then, who had so many good qualities, and yet missed of heaven, we may learn not to disclaim any thing that is worthy and excellent, though it is mixed with much iniquity; but to pay respect and love, as our Lord Jesus did, to persons who have any thing valuable in them, though their virtues are imperfect, and fall short of genuine religion. We are taught further, that many lovely accomplishments joined together are not sufficient to attain eternal life, unless through grace we renounce this world, and follow Christ; and we are divinely warned of the danger of riches, how great a snare they sometimes prove to persons of a hopeful character.
Let such, however endowed they may be with natural excellencies of body or mind, seriously reflect while they are in their bloom and vigour. Youth and beauty, strength and health, wit and reason, judgment, memory, or sweet disposition, are all the gifts of God, and certainly render persons so far amiable, as they are possessed of them; yet who can fail mourning with much compassion over those who flourish in the possession of any of these endowments, and yet have no saving acquaintance with God in Christ, no right to eternal life! What pity is it, that the flower of age should be employed only to soothe vanity, to adorn guilty passions, to dress up the scenes of sin! That flower will wither in old age, and it leaves no perfume behind, but what arises from piety, holiness, and virtue.
Who can fail pitying the young, the vigorous, the comely figures of human nature, who neglect to seek after divine grace, who are ruined and made wretched to all eternity by their excessive love of the pleasures, or the pomp, or the riches of this world! Who can fail pitying those endowed with a lively imagination, without sanctifying grace! What a lovely wilderness of blooming weeds! fair indeed in various colours, but useless and unsavoury,—persons whose happy talents give a relish to the common comforts of life, diffusing joy and pleasure, enlivening the dullest hours, courted and beloved by all: but how dismal is their state, if they neglect holiness, and are not beloved of God! Can they imagine that their gay fancy will brighten the gloom of hell, divert the anguish of a tortured mind, or relieve the heavy and everlasting misery of themselves or their companions, in the hideous regions of future punishment!
Who can fail to pity the man of strong reason and great sagacity, who has traced nature in her most secret recesses, but has spent no time in searching into the deep things of God? Reason is a faculty of supreme excellence among the gifts of nature; and it is dreadful to think that it should ever be engaged in opposition to divine grace. How great, and wretched, are the men of reason, who strain the nerves of their soul to overturn the doctrine of Christ! who labour with all their intellectual powers to shake the foundations of the Gospel, to diminish the authority of the Scriptures, and to unsettle the hope of feeble Christians!
There are others, who employ the best powers of the soul in pursuing the interests of this life. They are wise in contrivance to gratify their appetites, to fill their coffers; wise to secure all their wealth and honours to their posterity after death; but make no provision for their own souls. They are wise to set in order their houses in the day of their health, and to prepare all things for their dying hour, except the concerns of their own eternity: these are delayed from day to day, and left at the utmost hazard; and still they think that the next month, or the next year, it will be time enough to prepare for heaven; when perhaps a summons is sent suddenly from on high, Thou fool, this night is thy soul required of thee! What confusion and fear will seize them at that hour!—They have laid out all their wisdom upon the little business of this life, and trifled with affairs of everlasting concern. They must leave all the fruits of their wisdom behind, and be branded for eternal fools!
Who again can fail pitying those who are blessed with a large memory, the noble repository of the mind, to receive divine truths, to be stored with the ideas of God and his grace, to supply the heart and tongue upon all occasions for worship, for conference, and for holy joy? What pity is it that so wondrous a capacity should be crowded with vile images, with wanton scenes, with profane jests, with idle stories; or, at best, filled with the transitory things of this life,—night and day the buyers and sellers passing through this temple which should be consecrated to God, and yet no room left there for the thoughts of heaven? Shall these busy swarms of cares and vanities for ever fill up so large a chamber of the soul? Shall impertinences for ever be thrust into this treasury, such as will stand in no stead when we are dismissed from the body, but will vanish all at once in that hour, and leave our spirits poor and naked; or, if they follow us to the future world, it will be but as so much fuel gathered for our burning?
Once more, who can fail to pity those who are born with a sweet disposition, and seem to be cast in a softer mould than the rest of men; who can fail mourning, to think that any of these should perish for ever, who have tenderness and something like goodness in their very form and aspect! They are the favourites of all men; alas! why will they not strive to become the favourites of God too!—Good humour is the companion of their nature, and the law of kindness is on their lips. But is this enough to depend upon for eternal life?—There is so much natural tenderness in their spirits, as leads them on by a sweet instinct to the practice of many charities: but all this is not converting grace. If Jesus Christ himself were upon earth, in his humble state as man, he would look upon such, and love them; but as God, he looks down from heaven, and beholds them as the objects of his just hatred, while they live in a state of vanity and sin, drunken with sensual pleasures, and at enmity with God.
This sweetness of temper, which springs from the blood, and a happy mixture of humours, or at best from the mere natural frame of spirits, will never pass before the great tribunal for holiness and inward religion. With all this charming appearance of virtues, these colours that look like heaven, they will be doomed to hell, and perpetual misery, unless nobler qualities be found in them; love to God, mortification to this world, the knowledge and faith of Jesus Christ. If these be not the springs of our charity and love to men, we shall not be secure from the condemning sentence of the eternal Judge.
Think then a little with yourselves, such of you, my readers, as possess these rich endowments of the mind, after that you have been honoured here on earth, can you bear to be doomed to shame and punishment everlasting? Shall this wit and this reason be there employed to express your hatred against your God, and to forge perpetual blasphemies against the Majesty of heaven? Shall this sprightly fancy, this penetrating judgment, this large memory, serve for no purpose, but to aggravate your guilt, and your damnation? Shall these fine talents sharpen your misery, and give edge to the keenest reflections of conscience,—that immortal tormentor? Yet this must be the certain portion of those, who spend their life, and lie down in death, with these talents unsanctified; for the anguish and torture of sinful souls will be proportioned for ever to the excellence of their abused endowments. And say, O ye of soft and gentle natures, how will you bear the insult and rage of malicious spirits? How will your temper, that had something so lovely in it, bear to be banished for ever from the world of love? You that delighted on earth in the works of concord and peace, how will you endure the madness and contention, the envy and spite of wicked angels? What will ye do, when your tender dispositions shall be hourly ruffled by the uproar and confusion of those dark regions; when, instead of the society of God and blessed spirits, you shall be eternally vexed with the perverse tempers of your fellow-sinners, the sons of darkness?—O that it were possible by any means to awaken your souls to jealousy and timely fear; that so many natural excellencies as God hath distributed among you, might not be wasted in sin, abused to dishonour, and aggravate your everlasting misery; but that, on the contrary, as furnished with every amiable natural quality, so you might be blessed with divine grace, and be at once beloved by God and by man!
Such a one was our Lord Jesus Christ, respecting his humanity, in the days of his flesh; from his very childhood in favour with God and with man. In the whole composition of his nature, in the mildness of his deportment, and in all the graces of conversation, he was the chiefest of ten thousand, and altogether lovely. Such too was John, the man who attained that glorious appellation, the disciple whom Jesus loved,—that is, with a distinguishing and particular love.
O how happy are the persons who most nearly resemble this apostle! who are thus privileged, thus divinely blest! How infinitely are they indebted through Christ to God, their benefactor and their Father, who has endowed them with so many valuable accomplishments on earth, and has given them an interest in the happiness of heaven! It is he, O ye blessed among men, who has made you fair or wise. It is he who has given you ingenuity or riches, or perhaps has favoured you with all these; and yet has weaned your hearts from the love of this world, and led you to the pursuits of eternal life. It is he who has cast you in so refined a mould, and given you so sweet a disposition; who has inclined you to holiness, sobriety, and virtue, and raised you to honour and esteem, made you possessors of all that is desirable in this life, and offers to you, and is preparing you for, a nobler inheritance in that which is to come. What thankfulness does every power of your nature owe to your God, that heaven looks down upon you, and the world around you fix their eyes upon you, and love you? That God has formed you through his grace to so bright a resemblance of his own Son, his first Beloved; and, if you continue faithful, will make you joint-heirs of heaven with him!
Watch hourly against the temptations of pride; remember the fallen angels, and their once-exalted station; and have a care lest ye also be puffed up, and fall into the condemnation of the devil. Walk before God with exactest care, and in deepest humility: let that divine veil be spread over all your honours, that as ye are the fairer images of Christ, ye may be dressed like him too; for he who is the highest Son of God, was also the holiest of the sons of men.—He who is God over all, blessed for ever, was the humblest of every creature.
REFLECTIONS.—1st, Wherever our Lord journeys, we find him employed in the blessed work of preaching the word, to teach us to be instant in season and out of season. Multitudes still followed him, some to hear, some to be healed, and some with a malignant purpose to entangle him in his talk, and raise some matters of accusation against him. Of this number were the Pharisees, who, by an ensnaring question concerning divorce, endeavoured to lead him into a dilemma, either of contradicting Moses, or being exposed to the censure of being a man of loose morals. He asked them what Moses had commanded? They answered, that in many cases he had permitted divorce. Our Lord replies, that it was no more than a permission, granted merely because of the hardness of their hearts and their cruel disposition, as a law of the state to prevent worse consequences; but at the beginning it was not so: the very creation of one man and one woman, and but one, intimated the inseparable union between them: the settling of the law of marriage, Gen 2:24 declared it; since, for the sake of this relation, a man must quit even the dearest ties of nature, and prefer his wife to father and mother: and the connection arising from marriage is so close, that, as Adam and Eve were one flesh, her body being formed from his, so must every husband and wife reckon themselves as no more twain, but one flesh. Whom God therefore has thus indissolubly joined together, it would be the highest presumption in man to separate.
The disciples, who had been used, according to the generally received opinion among the Jews, to think divorces lawful, desired in private farther information on this point. And our Lord informs them that there was but one lawful cause for divorce; and, except in the case of adultery, whatever man or woman divorced their partner, and married again, would themselves be adulterers, and expose the injured party to the like crime. Note; It becomes us first well to weigh the case before we take a companion for our lives: when once the choice is made, mutual kindness and forbearance, and desire to please, should every day endear the relation, and remove whatever might occasion a wish of separation.
2nd, Jesus Christ has a tenderness for the lambs of his flock: he does not refuse the request of those pious parents who present their babes to him before they can lisp his praises. The disciples indeed opposed their application; but Jesus encouraged it, took up the infants in his arms, laid his hands upon them, and blessed them. And, if they were capable of receiving the spiritual blessings of his kingdom, what should hinder their being admitted by baptism into the visible communion of his church? Of such he declares the kingdom of God consisted, as well as of grown persons, who in humility, teachableness, and dependence on their Father's care, must become as little children; without which they never can partake of the privileges of his kingdom. Lord, give me then this spirit of a child, that I may be enabled to cry, Abba, Father, with an unwavering tongue!
3rdly, We have,
1. The young ruler's application to Christ, and sorrowful departure from him; which we considered, Matthew 19:21. His address was most respectful, and his question infinitely important; eternal life being our great concern, and to secure that the one thing needful: and where the value of an immortal soul is felt, we cannot surely but be solicitous in our applications to Jesus, who is the way, the truth, and the life. Our Lord perceived the error under which he laboured, and rebuking him for giving the title of good to any person whom he regarded as a mere man, desired to discover to him the insufficiency of his own righteousness for justification before God, and his inability to keep that law of innocence by a perfect obedience, to which eternal life alone could be secured without a Mediator: and in the precepts of the second table our Lord sets before him the path of duty. Ignorant of the spiritual extent of the commandments, he conceives that he may venture to say he has kept all these from his youth, because he has escaped the grosser violations of them. So apt are we to flatter ourselves in our own eyes that we are righteous, when indeed it is our ignorance that hides from us our sinfulness. Something amiable in him attracted the regards of Jesus, and, looking upon him with compassion, he would fain humble those high thoughts of himself which he had entertained: and, to bring him to the test, he bids him give one proof of his obedience and charity, by selling all his possessions, distributing them to the poor, trusting in the promise of a more enduring substance in heaven; and then let him take up his cross and follow a suffering Saviour; and this would infallibly bring him to the eternal life which he sought. But alas! these were too hard sayings for so rich a man to comply with: he went away sorely chagrined at the proposal; and, if such was the only alternative, he rather chose to part with eternal life than his great possessions. Note; (1.) The only proper use of worldly wealth is to do good with it. Though we may not be commanded to sell all literally, we must remember that we are really no more than stewards, and that a solemn account will shortly be required concerning every penny that we have possessed. (2.) Great riches often prove a great snare. How many by these have lost eternal life? (3.) A man may be possessed of a thousand amiable qualities, and yet be utterly destitute of genuine religion.
2. Christ observes, to the astonishment of the disciples, the difficulty of their salvation who have the abundance of this world, and whose hearts, in consequence thereof, are engaged to trust in their riches: and when, by the impracticability of a camel's going through a needle's eye, he intimated the immense obstructions that there were in the way of a rich man's salvation, the disciples, above measure astonished, concluded the impossibility of any man's being saved; since such as were not rich, wished in general to be so; and they were conscious to themselves how much their hearts were set on temporal grandeur. Jesus, looking with compassion upon them, to relieve in some measure their anxiety, bid them consider that, though such a change of heart as was needful to every mortified disciple of his, was beyond the mere power of man, it was not beyond the power of God, who can give the most wealthy, who penitentially seek him, the deepest poverty of spirit; and enable those, who have the greatest obstructions in their way to glory, to surmount them, if they cleave to him.
3. They who leave all for Christ, shall be no losers thereby. Peter mentions with some satisfaction, that, though their possessions and connections were not great, they had given them up to follow him. And Christ assures him, that what they or any others should part with for his sake, would prove in the issue to be their unspeakable gain: whether a man quitted his home, his substance, his relations, or friends, or whatever else was dear to him, for the sake of a faithful adherence to Christ and his Gospel, he should find his truest advantage in it, in present comfort; and sometimes in kind, the Lord will give him a hundred-fold, with persecutions, which all who will live godly in Christ Jesus must expect more or less as long as they are in the body, and in the world to come an eternal life of happiness and glory. But many that are first in profession, will be so outstripped in zeal and fidelity by others, who will be called after them, as to come in last in the race: while the last, who seemed farthest from the kingdom of heaven, and latest embrace the offers of the Gospel, by their diligence will often first reach the goal; see 1 Corinthians 15:10. Note; (1.) The nearest and dearest relations must not weigh with us, when set in competition with our profession of Christ, and the service of the Gospel. (2.) Till we come to heaven, however prosperous our circumstances may be, we are to expect the cross; it is only then that we shall have finished our warfare, and entered into our eternal rest.
4thly, The nearer Christ drew to the scene of his sufferings, the plainer he warns his disciples of them, that they might be the less surprised at them when they came.
He now appears eagerly hastening to the face of his enemies; while his disciples, considering what he had suggested would happen to him at Jerusalem, were amazed at his resolution, and followed him trembling, apprehensive, probably, lest they might be involved in his troubles. To prepare them for this distressing event, Christ again called them, and told them distinctly all that would befal him; that, when it came to pass, they might remember that he suffered nothing of which he was not apprized, and to which he did not voluntarily submit. Then he rebukes the pride and ambition of the disciples, which all these warnings could not cure. Two of them wanted to be prime ministers in his kingdom; and, through their mother, wished to have a general promise granted them that he would bestow on them a request that they were about to make, which proved to be no less than securing the two most honourable places next the throne, when Christ should, as they expected, set up his earthly reign. But alas! they mistook the nature of the Messiah's kingdom, which called them to suffer, not to bear rule. The ten, as culpable as the two petitioners, and equally ambitious of the places they sought, were exceedingly displeased at their affecting this precedency, to which they thought themselves equally entitled. But Jesus, to silence both parties, lets them know, that the kingdom which he was about to erect, was not to be governed as earthly monarchies, where the rulers exercised despotic sway; but, on the contrary; he should be the greater in the Messiah's kingdom, who was in his own eyes the most abased, and most ready in every work and labour of love to serve the meanest disciple; for herein he nearest resembled his Master, who came with deepest humility as a servant, and was to die upon the cross as a slave, paying down the ransom, and perfecting the atonement for our sins.
5thly, In St. Matthew we were told of two blind men, who were restored to sight; but in this chapter we are informed but of one; perhaps he was most remarkable, as the son of Timeus. He sat begging by the way-side; and no sooner heard of Jesus passing by, than, crying incessantly, he would not be silenced till Jesus stood and called him; when, eager to be led to him, he threw off his upper garment, and, coming before the Saviour, presented his request, and received his cure. In him we see, (1.) An emblem of the sinner's misery, poor, blind, and destitute. And a happy thing it is when, brought to a sense of his misery, he is found at the way-side of ordinances, crying after Jesus. (2.) The blind and lame are among the truest objects of charity, and to their cries we must never be deaf. (3.) The calls of Jesus are our encouragement to come to him; and they are so general, free, and full, that, whenever a poor, guilty, corrupted creature feels his wants, we may safely say to such a one, He calleth thee. (4.) When we are coming to Christ, whatever would prove a hinderance, like this garment, should be cast off. (5.) None truly cry to Jesus, and go away without relief. If we have faith in his power and love, we shall assuredly see the salvation of God. (6.) When Christ enlightens the eyes of our minds, it is in order that we should henceforth keep him ever in view, and follow him in all his holy ways.
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Coke, Thomas. "Commentary on Mark 10". Coke's Commentary on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/
the Third Week after Epiphany