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Bible Commentaries

William Godbey's Commentary on the New Testament
Luke 18

 

 

Verses 1-8

CHAPTER 15

THE UNJUST JUDGE AND THE INDEFATIGABLE WIDOW

Luke 18:1-8. This paragraph on the Lord’s second coming begins with the twenty-second verse of the seventeenth chapter, and runs through the eighth verse of the eighteenth chapter. Of course you know there is no significance arising from the division into chapters and verses, as it was never made by an inspired hand, but by men of quite modem date, whose knowledge of the Scripture was, to say the least, very ordinary, as in many instances they seriously mar the trend of truth by breaking up the connection. This is one of those noted cases where they have inserted the eighteenth chapter in the middle of this beautiful paragraph revelatory of our Lord’s return to earth. “And He spoke to them a parable to the end that they themselves ought always to pray, and not to faint.” The E. V. insertion of “men,” which you see by the italics is not in the original, is quite misleading; as you see our Savior is addressing His disciples directly, and here uses the definite pronoun, showing clearly that His disciples are the subject of the verb “pray.” As this passage is generally entirely misconstrued as to both the subject and the object of he prayer, I hope you will see the connection, and understand the deliverances of our Lord in this paragraph. N. B. — The leading thought-in this paragraph is His second coming, while His disciples are the subjects addressed, because the world neither knows nor cares anything about either the first or the second advent. Having emphasized so forcibly the fact and the importance of His return, He now tells His disciples they should constantly pray for it, as E. V.,

“ought always to pray, and not to faint,” remembering that His disciples (as “ought” means) are under obligation — i. e., it is our duty to Him as our Savior, Sanctifier, Healer, glorious Lord, and coming King — always to pray for His coming, and never to faint; i.e., never give way to indifference or despondency so that we cease to pray incessantly and importunately for the return of our ascended Lord. This conclusion is abundantly and transcendently sustained by the following parable, and consequently no mistake about it. “Saying, There was a certain judge in a certain city, neither fearing God nor regarding man.” You will see that this unjust judge emblematizes God Almighty in point of independency. Our Savior here gives us one of His grand a-fortiori arguments. “And there was a widow in that city, and she continued to come to him, saying, Avenge me of mine adversary.” While the unjust judge here, as to independency, represents God, the widow is the Church, which is constantly typified by a woman, and now in widowhood, because her Divine Husband has ascended up to heaven. Now this poor widow has an awful enemy — i. e., the devil — who troubles her incessantly. Ercheto, “continued to go,” is in the imperfect tense, showing an existing custom; i.e., this woman has been going night and day, and pleading with God to send Jesus back to the earth, that He may put the devil out, and reign without a rival. “And he was not willing for a time; and after these things he said in himself, Even though I fear not God, nor regard man, because this widow giveth me trouble, I will avenge her, lest coming on forever she may smite me in the face.” You see our translation is much stronger than the E. V. Hupopiadze is from hupopion, “the cheek bone,” and here in the verb form; so the literal meaning is, “Hit me on the cheek-bone” — i. e., “Smite me in the face;” or to use an American phrase, “Give me a black eye.” This old tyrant, who neither fears God nor regards man, is so annoyed by the widow coming incessantly and pleading with him to deliver her from her intolerable adversary, that, though he really cares nothing about the matter, he finally concludes to grant her request, because he believes that if he does not, she will come on indefinitely, annoying the life out of him, and finally, becoming desperate, actually smite him in the face. In view of, these stringent considerations, he resolves to avenge her of her adversary, simply in order to get rid of her. Jesus is not only the plainest, but the most forcible Preacher the world ever saw. N. B. — This is an a-fortiori argument, which always commands a sweeping and overwhelming conclusion; e.g., if this reckless old tyrant, centered all in self, would avenge this widow simply to get rid of her, how infinitely, inconceivably, and overwhelmingly conclusive the argument that our loving Heavenly Father, having all power in heaven and in earth, and at the same time full of kindness, pity, sympathy, and the tenderest Fatherly affection and superabounding in redeeming love, will certainly avenge the poor widowed Church, who, through the ages, continues to come, and under no circumstances will she be put off or relax her importunity, praying night and day to her Heavenly Father to send Jesus back to cast the devil out, because he torments her night and day, laying a thousand stratagems to capture her children and drag them into hell!

“And the Lord said, Hear ye what the unjust judge says. And must not God execute vengeance in behalf of His own elect, who cry day and night unto Him, and lie suffereth long in their behalf? I say unto you that He will execute vengeance in their behalf quickly. Moreover, the Son of man having come, will He then find faith on the earth?” We must leave everything where the Lord puts it. By this powerful a-fortiori argument He proves His own return to the earth, responsive to the prayers of His disciples, represented by this importunate widow, who is none other than the Church, bereaved of her ascended Lord, and during His absence suffering awful and intolerable harassment by the devil, who, “knowing his time is short,” is stirring earth and hell to get the regions of woe well populated before the Lord comes and casts him out. (Revelation 20:3) Now you see that when the Lord comes, He will find but little faith on the earth. How is that? Why, everything must be left where Jesus put it. Do you not see that this question, which evidently involves a negative answer, warranting the conclusion that faith will be quite scarce on the earth when the Lord returns, winds up this paragraph of twenty-three verses on the Lord’s coming? Therefore you see it means faith appertaining to this subject; i.e., involving the conclusion that when the Lord comes, it will be an awful and shocking surprise to all the people on the earth, good and bad, with the exception of a few, represented by this importunate widow — i.e., the true, holy Church of Christ — who, in all ages has been praying for His return, living night and day in anticipation of His coming. To her it will be no surprise, as she will run to meet Him with a shout. After these tremendously urgent and stringent deliverances of our Lord on the subject of His second coming, admonishing all of His disciples to pray for it incessantly, and not to faint — i. e., never waver nor hesitate, nor doubt the propriety of so doing--how strange that so few who claim to be the disciples of Christ are actually praying the Father to send Him down on the throne of His glory, that He may cast the devil out and reign forever! When they see this positive affirmation of Jesus to His disciples that they ought constantly to pray for His coming and never cease, how strange that we find even holiness people, not only neglecting to preach this glorious truth and pray the Father to send back His Son, but even attempting to lay an embargo on those who do preach these grand truths and pray for His corning! As we see here that very few will He find on the earth who have faith for His coming, and are consequently looking for Him, is not that sufficient inspiration to stir up every reader of these pages to aspire to a place in that small number who have faith in His coming, are praying for His return, and on the constant outlook?


Verse 8

OUR LORD’S SECOND COMING

Luke 17:22; Luke 18:8. “And He said to the disciples, The days will come when you will desire to see one of the days of the Son of man, and shall not see it.” Having answered the captious question of those critical Pharisees, informing them that the kingdom of God, which comes by the silent, invisible work of the Holy Ghost in the heart, is already among them, though in their gross spiritual blindness they are utterly unapprehensive of the fact, He now turns and addresses His disciples with reference to Himself, stating to them that the days will soon come when they will desire to see one of the days of the Son of man and shall not see it. As this is only about eight or nine days before His crucifixion, He notifies them that, having been with them three years, He is going to leave them, and they will desire to see Him and be with Him as hitherto, but shall not be able; this idea of His departure and return now running on into a beautiful and sublime revelation and exposition of His return back to the earth, where they will see Him again.


Verses 9-14

HUMILITY AND PRIDE

Luke 18:9-14. “And He spoke this parable also to certain ones, having confidence in themselves that they are righteous, and treat others with contempt: Two men went up into the temple to pray; the one a Pharisee, and the other a publican.” The holy Temple Campus contains thirty-five acres, consecrated to God, and regarded even to this day as most holy. Since none but the priests were allowed to enter the temple proper, we conclude that these two men simply entered the sacred enclosure, and proceeded to pray.

“The Pharisee, standing, prayed after this manner: God, I thank Thee, because I am not like the rest of men, unrighteous, adulterous, or even as this publican. I fast twice a week, I give tithes of all things so many as I possess.” Tithe-paying is all right, and we do not blame the Pharisee for thanking God that he was not guilty of vulgar vices and midnight iniquities. This is all fight. We ought to thank God for keeping us from terrible sin, which ruin soul and body, world without end. If the publican was guilty of dark sins which this Pharisee would blush to contemplate, and from which he. would recoil with horror, it is all right to thank God for the happy deliverance and the enviable contrast.

“The publican, standing a great way off, did not wish to lift up his eyes toward heaven, but smote his breast, saying, God, be merciful to me the sinner! I say unto you that he went down to his house justified rather than that one; because every one exalting himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted.” Jesus here tells the secret of the great difference between these two men. We have no right to call in question the testimony of that Pharisee as to the moral purity of his life and his amiable loyalty to the Church. That was all right, and very pertinent that he should thank God for it. O the millions of Church members who are in the succession of this Pharisee, depending on morality, legal obedience, and Church loyalty to save them! All such go down to hell, since Jesus alone can save. Here we have the clear affirmation that this publican, so despised by the Jews because he collected revenue for the Roman Government, went down to his house justified, while the Pharisee, the nice, honorable Church member, went to his house one hour nearer hell than when he went to the temple. As the publican was no Church member, had no consolation, and nothing to bolster him up, consequently the Holy Ghost had unobstructed access to him, giving him such an awful presentment of hell, damnation, eternity, and doom that, in the bitter anguish of despair, his heart was so heavy that he could not look up, while sheer agony of spirit constrained him W beat his breast with horror, crying out, “God, be merciful unto me a sinner!” Etupen, “smote,” is in the imperfect tense, showing that as there he stood, crying to God, he continued repeatedly to smite his breast, not in a formal way, but spontaneously, thus giving vent to the unutterable agony of a broken heart and a contrite spirit. God never turns away a case of that kind. Of course, he returned home justified, born from above, adopted into the heavenly family, and gloriously saved. You see from these two contrastive cases how Church membership, with its false comforts, is adroitly used by Satan in the damnation of millions. Hence we conclude that it is unsafe to receive or retain sinners in the membership of the Church, as Satan is certain to slip in like a weasel and persuade them, as he did this man, that if they keep the commandments, live good, moral lives, and show up their loyalty to the Church by paying all their dues, they are justified.

You see from this parable that this conclusion is untrue, and a fond delusion of Satan for the damnation of souls. Hence if we can not get people truly and experimentally saved, we should neither receive nor retain them in the membership of the Church, lest they lean on it, as this man did, and lose their souls.


Verses 15-17

THE LITTLE ONES

Matthew 19:13-15; Luke 18:15-17; Mark 10:13-16. “And they were bringing little children to Him, that He may touch them; and His disciples were rebuking those bringing them.” Matthew says they brought them that He might “put His hands on them and pray.” Luke says they were “infants.” “Jesus seeing them was much displeased, and said to them, Suffer the little children to come unto Me, and prevent them not; for of such is the kingdom of God. Truly I say unto you, Whosoever may not receive the kingdom of God as a little child, can not enter into it. And taking them up in His arms, putting His hands on them, He continued to bless them copiously.” The E. V. has lost much out of this, because the Textus Receptus, from which it was translated, omits the kata in connection with eulogei, and consequently simply reads, “He blessed them,” the true reading being so grand and glorious, “He continued to bless them copiously.” There is no dodging the issue in this paragraph, recorded by Matthew, Mark, and Luke, the two former giving us paidia, “little children,” and the latter brephe, “infants.” It is certain they were small enough for Jesus to pick them up in His arms, thus blessing them abundantly and continuously amid loving caresses. This is a clear, bold, and unequivocal corroboration of His former utterances in reference to infants. Though they have inherited a sinful nature from Adam, they are not sinners, but Christians; because they are not only members of God’s kingdom, but normal members, there being no defalcation in their case, like that of adults, who may, with the loudest professions, be hypocrites, as this was-really the case with the Pharisees, who were constantly in His presence. Hence, in the case of irresponsible infants, we know they are saved, as we have the repeated and unequivocal ipse dixit of Jesus; while in the case of adults, as we can not know the heart, we are constrained to turn them all over to God and the judgment-day. All sinners are full of sin. All infants and unsanctified Christians are sinful — i. e., have a tendency to sin — hereditary from Adam, which is certain to lead them into sin if not counteracted by grace in regeneration; but even then will keep up an everlasting warfare (Galatians 5) till eradicated in entire sanctification.


Verses 18-30

THE RICH YOUNG MAN

Matthew 19:16-30; Mark 10:17-31; Luke 18:18-30. Mark: “And He, traveling along the road, one running and kneeling clown asked Him, Good Teacher, what shall I do that I may inherit eternal life? Jesus said to him, Why do you call Me good? No one is good but One; God.” This statement of our Savior is generally woefully misunderstood and erroneously construed, even preachers, standing up in the pulpit, having the audacity to look the people in the face and find here an unanswerable argument against holiness, alleging that even Jesus refused to be called good, deducing the conclusion, with an air of triumph, that nobody can be good, much less holy. May the blessed Holy Spirit now flash the light through your mind, and give you the true exposition of this passage! Jesus was almost constantly turning the edge of His opponent’s argument into the admission of His own Divinity. The high and primitive sense of the adjective “good” is only applicable to Go. The word “God” is a contraction of “good,” because God is the very essence, quintessence, and concentration of all good. Now when the young man calls Jesus good, instead of correcting him, He accepts the situation: “You call Me good, and so I am. Now since God alone is good, you call Me God, which is right,” thus turning the admission of the young man into the substantial affirmation of His Divinity; not only for his benefit, but that of the multitude who followed Him from day to day. While in the primitive sense, God alone is good, and all goodness emanates from Him (as John says, “God is light; yet the sun shines, but he shines by the light which God gives him); and while no man is good in a primary sense, because a good man would mean one who had never sinned; yet we may be righteous, because a righteous man is simply a justified sinner; and it is equally true that we may be holy, because a holy man is nothing but a sanctified sinner. The term good is variously used in subordinate senses, and not only applied to saints, but in common parlance even to sinners, animals, and things without life; however, in those cases, all the good they have has emanated from God.

“You know the commandments, Do not commit adultery, Do not murder, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Do not defraud, Honor thy father and thy mother.” Matthew says, “Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.” “And he, responding, said to Him, Teacher, I have kept all these from my youth. Jesus looking on him loved him, and said to him, One thing is wanting unto thee.” Here Matthew says, “If thou dost wish to be perfect, go, sell as many things as you have, and give to the poor, and you shall have treasure in heaven.” This interview took place out in Perea, east of the Jordan.

Though our Savior is constantly surrounded by the Pharisees, you must not conclude that this young man is one of them. The truth of the matter is, he is far from them, even at the opposite pole of the battery. While the Pharisees were full of pride, haughtiness, and self-righteousness, this young man is very humble, as we see him come kneeling down before Jesus, and making earnest inquiry, “What shall I do that I may inherit eternal life?” Luke tells us he is a ruler of the people. He certainly shows up a very beautiful, moral, and religious character, in the fact that he has kept the commandments of the Decalogue from his youth. No wonder Jesus loved him. The simple solution of the whole problem recognizes this young man as a paragon Old Testament saint, walking in all the commandments of the law and the prophets blameless. He evidently has lived up to all the light of his day and dispensation. So he has nothing to do but receive Jesus, and move forward into the gospel dispensation — i.e., the kingdom of God whose normal standard is perfection, as you here see specified. Jesus responds to him, “If you wish to be perfect,” illustrating the fact that His dispensation requires perfection i.e., spiritual manhood, the standard of the old dispensation being spiritual infancy. There was no trouble in the case of this amiable and promising young ruler till he declined to accept the Savior’s condition of discipleship, thus halting in the old dispensation after it had expired and become null and void. He was certainly a very fine subject of gospel grace, having nothing to do but meet the condition, which is Christian perfection, and pass from the law and the prophets into the kingdom of heaven.

“And he, being grieved at the word, went away sorrowful; for he had great possessions.” Jesus knew his heart, and went for his idol unhesitatingly. Adam the First must die before you can become a perfect Christian, with Adam the Second enthroned to reign without a rival. All the unsanctified have their besetting sin, in which the diversified appetites and passions, constituting the members of old Adam, concentrate their forces, make a general rally, and turn loose all the impetuosity of earth and hell to break the power of grace and ruin the soul, world without end. While this young man, having kept all of these commandments faithfully from his youth, living in beautiful harmony with his dispensation, exhibits the irreproachable character of a paragon Old Testament saint, yet that phase of inbred sin which he was weakest to resist, as it held a tighter grip on him than any other, was the love of money, which had been augmented and intensified by his vast possessions.

When the contractors began the Queen & Crescent Railway, they went to King’s Mountain, because they had a solid mile of tunnel to excavate, by far the heaviest job on the route of fifteen hundred miles. A wise general, invading a country, always attacks the chief citadel first. Jesus knew that money-love was the serious trouble of this young man, and if he yielded there, victory flashed all along the embattled line, and He could rely on him as a paragon disciple. O how many preachers studiously avoid those things against which they feel assured their people will kick! Jesus, our only Exemplar, gives the trumpet no uncertain sound. This young man would have yielded outright if He had not put the sword to the throat of his idol. Luke says, “He went away very sad.” O how wonderfully history repeats itself! This young man lost his justification because he refused to consecrate all his possessions, the necessary antecedent to Christian perfection. Multitudes of the Jewish Church, in a similar attitude, enjoying justification before God because they walked in all the light they had, keeping all of the commandments, living under the law, without reprehension, faithfully anticipating the coming Messiah, forfeited their justification because they did not walk in the new light thrown on their way by the Shiloh of prophecy. If this young man had not met Jesus, doubtless he would have lived and died an irreproachable Old Testament saint and made his way to Abraham’s bosom.

God holds us responsible for all the light we receive. If we do not walk in it appreciatively, we invariably backslide. Therefore Jesus is called “the Stone of stumbling,” because multitudes, like this young man, stumbled over Him and fell, and they are still doing the same. God raised up Luther to pour new light upon the Church in his day and time. While his reformation was a blessing to many, it was the occasion of many stumbling and falling. The same is true of every great revival. While the present holiness movement is a God-send to myriads, it is the death-knell to multitudes, who unfortunately reject the light it brings, like this man stumbling over entire consecration.

“Jesus, looking round, says to His disciples, How shall those having riches with difficulty enter the kingdom of God! But the disciples were amazed at His words. Jesus again, responding, says to them, Children, how difficult is it for those having put their confidence in riches to enter into the kingdom of God! It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God. And they were astonished exceedingly, saying to one another, Indeed who is able to be saved? And Jesus, looking on them, says, With men it is impossible, but not with God; for all things are possible with God.” So far as the record warrants, there is not a presumption in favor of the salvation of this amiable young man, who is not only a member, but an officer in the Church, and, most consolatory of all, his religious character utterly irreproachable. It is a simple case of stumbling over perfection, and thus failing to pass from the dispensation of the law and the prophets into that of Christ — i.e., the kingdom of heaven whose standard is perfection. I believe, the reason why the disciples were so astonished over the utterances of Jesus, in reference to the difficulty in the way of salvation to the rich, was because the patriarchs in many instances were very wealthy; e.g., Abraham and Job, millionaires. There has been an awful squirming and dodging, twisting and floundering, especially on the part of the popular clergy, to evade and explain away these plain statements of Jesus relative to the difficulties in the way of saving the rich. Some have said that “camel” means rope, used about a ship, which of course could go through the eye of a large needle. Kamilos means “rope.” Though that word looks much like kamelos, “a camel,” you see they are entirely different words. Hence there is no truth in the exegesis. It is a miserable dodge to evade a square issue.

Again, I have heard, over and over, that there are small gates entering through the wall of Jerusalem, called the “Needle’s-eye.” This is utterly untrue. I have made two visits to Jerusalem — the one ten days, and the other seven — in which I was very active, running all over it and round it repeatedly, so that I am this day better acquainted with Jerusalem than any other city in the world. As it symbolizes heaven, whither I am a pilgrim journeying, I studied it with a flaming enthusiasm, diligently investigating everything that could throw light on the Word of God. The city has but eight gates leading through the wall: The Joppa gate, on Mount Zion, looking westward, opening through the west wall, a short distance from the northwest corner. Then, as we proceed, turning eastward, we next come to the New Gate, leading through the north wall. Then, proceeding eastward, we come to the Damascus Gate, looking toward the north. Pursuing the north wall, we next arrive at Herod’s Gate. Now, passing the northeast corner and turning southward, we come to St. Stephen’s Gate, so called because it is said that the mob dragged him out through that gate when they stoned him to death. It is known in Scripture as the Sheep Gate. (John 5.) Proceeding southward, we next arrive at the Beautiful Gate. (Acts 3:2.) This gate has been closed twelve hundred and sixty years, since the Mohammedans captured the city, on account of a Moslem prophecy that they can hold the city no longer than that gate is kept closed. Now the wall is on the high summit of Mount Moriah, the deep and impassable Valley of Jehoshaphat yawning beneath. Consequently there are no gates in this region, as there could be neither egress nor ingress. Pursuing the wall southward, turning the corner, we now travel westward, along the south wall, still on the summit of Moriah, till we reach a high valley between Moriah and Zion, where we arrive at the Excrement Gate, which leads out into the deep Valley of Jehoshaphat, and is used to carry, the offal out of the city; hence its name. Now the wall ascends Mount Zion westward, with a number of angles and offsets southward, by way of accommodation to the trend of the mountain. High up on the summit, in the City of David, we come to David’s Gate. These are the only entrances through the wall, with the exception which was made in 1898, when the emperor of Germany visited the city. They actually removed a section of the wall near the Joppa Gate for his convenient royal ingress and egress. Hence, you see, the report about the Needle’s-eye and the camel, ex necessitate divested of his burden in order to enter, is a fond fabrication to comfort the rich, but utterly untrue.

I hope you have no sympathy with any attempt to explain away the plain Word of God. What an insult to Jesus thus utterly to emasculate, eviscerate, and excoriate His Word till it is utterly divested of all its force! Remember you have to meet it at the judgment-bar precisely as it is. So I entreat you to take it now, without addition or subtraction, and never encourage any attempt to explain it away. I emphasize this point because I have heard more preaching on this subject than any other; i.e., a labored effort to explain away the plain and unmistakable Word of God. All such evasion is foolish, fanatical, and Satanic. Jesus specifies in this paragraph that, while the salvation of the rich is impossible with man, with God all things are possible. What is the solution of this? God can give the millionaire grace to consecrate all on His altar, unreservedly and eternally to be used for His glory. In that case the millionaire becomes as poor as Lazarus. “Without the sanctification no one shall see the Lord.” (Hebrews 12:14.) Hence, as God is no respecter of persons, we all stand on the same platform. If we do not consecrate all to God, we can not “be perfect,” as Jesus here tells the young man. Heaven is a perfect world, consequently nothing imperfect can enter there. In this statement we do not mean Divine perfection, which belongs to God only, nor angelic perfection, which belongs to angels alone; but Christian perfection, which means a complete work of grace in the elimination of all evil out of the spiritual organism. As Jesus alone can do this, we must unreservedly consecrate all to Him, in order that He may sanctify us wholly. As Jesus here says, the impossibility is with man, in case he does not make a perfect consecration, which God can not do for him, as that would ignore his free agency; but He can and will give him all the grace he needs to do it himself, of his own free will and accord. Then, when man puts all on God’s altar, there is no trouble about sanctification, as that is the work of Omnipotent Grace. This whole subject, as delivered by the Savior, is perfectly lucid and consistent. O how many, like this rich young Church officer, hesitate to put all their possessions on God’s altar, and go away sorrowing! Happy is the poor man who has s~ little to consecrate! Yet multitudes of them fail just like the rich. Jesus saves none but beggars. If you own a gold-mine, and do not turn it over to God to be used for His glory, you can not be saved.

Matthew 19:27. “Then Peter, responding, said to him, Behold, we have left all things, and followed Thee; what then shall be to us? Jesus said to them, Truly I say unto you, that you who have followed Me in the regeneration, when the Son of man may sit upon the throne of glory, you also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.” The regeneration here mentioned does not mean that personal spiritual birth peculiar to all the children of God, but it is a continuation of the subject under consideration with reference to this rich young Church officer, whose life was so beautiful under the law and the prophets; and his qualification to pass out into the new dispensation, receiving his own Christ with joyful enthusiasm, and becoming a citizen of His kingdom, a bona fide member of the gospel Church, had all failed because of his delinquency in meeting the condition, i.e., consecrating all his vast wealth to God — and thus getting in position for the fiery baptism to sanctify him gloriously at the Pentecost then speedily coming on. So the regeneration here means the transition out of the old into the new dispensation. As Peter well knew that he and his apostolical comrades had forsaken their fishing-boats, nets, companions, homes, employment, and everything to follow Jesus, and now having seen the sad failure of this eminently promising young man, at the very point of total abandonment where Peter knew that he and his brethren had succeeded, he proceeds to interview the Savior in reference to what is coming. There, amid the contrast of the two diametrically opposite attitudes the faithful disciples, on the one side, meeting the condition; and the young ruler signally failing and going away — our Lord proceeds to answer Peter’s inquiry by the thrilling assurance that when He shall sit upon the throne of his glory, they shall all sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. We know that our Lord was soon glorified when He ascended from Mount Olivet; and in due time these apostles did divide up the world, and go to their diversified fields of labor — the Jameses taking Judea; Matthew, Ethiopia; Mark, Egypt; Matthias, Judas’s successor, Abyssinia; Thomas, India; Jude, Tartary; Bartholomew, Phrygia; Philip, Syria; Simon Zelotes, the British Islands; Andrew, Armenia; John, Ephesus; Peter, Rome; and Paul, Western Asia and Eastern Europe. Of course, they all enjoyed episcopal supremacy in their diversified fields of labor.

But you must bear in mind that this wicked world did not let them live very long till they all suffered martyrdom, John being miraculously delivered, and, as we believe, finally translated. Hence this was but a preliminary fulfillment of our Savior’s glorious promise, whose verification is evidently reserved for the Millennial Theocracy, when the saints will rule with Christ (Revelation 20:6), the apostles in their normal attitude enjoying the supremacy, and Israel populating the whole earth, Satan having been removed, and the glory of the Lord inundating the world, and, as He says here, when He shall sit upon the throne of His glory, then shall you “sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel;” i.e., ruling them. Christ came the first time, in His humiliation, to suffer and to die; but He comes the second time, on the throne of His glory, to conquer and to reign. Here we certainly do see a recognition of apostolical supremacy in the rulership of the world. There are now just about twelve national divisions on the globe. So the world seems to be getting ready for these twelve apostolical thrones. Of course, our Lord must come in His glory, cast out Satan, raise the dead members of the bridehood, and reunite soul and body and translate the living. The first resurrection, at the pre-millennial coming of our Lord, will prepare the way for His glorious kingdom, when He shall sit on the throne of His glory, and the saints will judge the world (1 Corinthians 6:2); i. e., rule the world. I am so glad that I believe the whole Bible. Therefore I am looking for wonderful things.

“And every one, whosoever has left houses, brothers, sisters, father, mother, wife, children, or lands, for My name’s sake, shall receive a hundred fold, and inherit eternal life. But many first shall be last, and last shall be first.” Here you see again that the Jews are coming into the kingdom after all of the Gentiles. One of the cheering omens of the Lord’s near coming is the rapid gathering of the Jews into the Holy Land, and their conversion to Christianity in all the world. Luke says that the one leaving all and following Jesus shall receive a hundred-fold at this time, and in the age to come eternal life. We find some people certifying that there is no coming age after the present. Here, in Luke 18:30, we have it positively specified. You find the same in Hebrews 6:5, and also in Matthew 12:32. I am satisfied it occurs elsewhere in the New Testament, but certainly three clear and unequivocal witnesses are sufficient. In these passages, the E. V. says “world to come;” but the Greek used by our Savior is not cosmos, “world,” but aion, “age.” Hence these are certainly plain allusions, not only to the coming millennium, which will be the Edenic Age of the world restored back, but the Celestial Age, that shall follow the final glorification of the earth subsequently to its purification by the great fiery baptism simultaneously with the final judgment, the glorification following, transforming it into a new earth and a new heaven, or firmament

(Revelation 21), and finally conferred, as a soldier’s bounty, on the glorified saints, here to enjoy an eternity of heavenly bliss with myriads of unfallen angels, with whom, as our loving escorts, we will wing our flight from world to world, admiring the glory of Omnipotence, bespangling millions of bright celestial spheres which never knew sin nor sorrow. At the same time, with our angelic escorts, and accompanied by our sainted friends, always delighted to visit the New Jerusalem, the celestial metropolis, honored with Jehovah’s throne, and the center of universal gravitation, around which all celestial worlds speed their flight, and which this world, on her final restitution and celestialization, will so approximate as to enjoy a grand and conspicuous view, and to receive the copious illuminations of the Divine glory. (Revelation 21:9-27.)


Verses 31-34

JESUS FORETELLS HIS DEATH AND RESURRECTION

Matthew 20:17-19; Luke 18:31-34; Mark 1:32-34. “And they were on the road going up to Jerusalem, and Jesus was leading them, and they continued to be excited, and following, they were afraid.” Our Lord is still over in Perea, east of the Jordan, walking along toward Jerusalem, accompanied by the vast multitudes. The disciples know that if He goes back to Jerusalem, something decisive will take place, as only a dozen days previously He had fled away from there for His life. As the Passover is now at hand, and the metropolis will be thronged with the people of Israel, not only from Judea and Galilee, but from their dispersions in all heathen lands, they know that His enemies are determined to do everything they can against Him. As it is said here that they were much excited and afraid, doubtless they were apprehensive that the thousands from Galilee, where He had spent by far the greater part of His ministerial life, would be at the Passover, and as His enemies were so hostile against Him, in all probability a bloody civil war would break out, in which they were all likely to lose their lives. Meanwhile the hopeful side of the matter was, that He would be crowned King there in Jerusalem, in the presence of the vast multitudes from all parts of the earth, who might fall in line and propagate His kingdom, and permanently establish Him on the throne of David.

“And again taking the twelve, He began to speak to them the things which were about to happen to Him, Behold, we go up to Jerusalem, and the Son of man shall be delivered to the chief priests and scribes, and they will condemn Him to death, and will deliver Him to the Gentiles, and they will mock Him, and will scourge Him, and spit upon Him, and will kill Him; and on the third day He will rise.” Luke says: “And they understood nothing of these things; and this word was hidden from them, and they knew not the things spoken.” This is the third time our Savior has told them plainly that He is going to be arrested, arraigned, condemned, scourged, crucified, and will rise the third day. Now you see that Luke here says that they understood none of those things, and we see in the subsequent history that they were utterly ignorant of His impending fate till it took place. Now why did Jesus tell them three times, and the Holy Spirit withhold it from them? N. B. — The Holy Spirit is not only the Author of the Word, but the Revelator of that Word to every person who ever understands it. It was really important that Jesus should tell them all about it, as He did three times, distinctly, by way of emphasis. The importance of this revelation is seen in the fact that it was a most important item in the prophetical curriculum, which constitutes the basis of Christian faith in all ages.

Therefore it must be revealed. Now why must it be withheld from them till after His resurrection? Do you not know that if they had understood it, they would have mustered the countless hosts to whom He had preached during the three years of His ministry and have prepared for war, in order to defend their beloved Leader and preserve His life? Thus a terrible civil war would have broken out in Jerusalem while the city was thronged with the myriads from all parts of the earth attending the Passover, and a grand army would have rallied to prevent them from killing Him, thus defeating the great end for which He came into the world; i.e., to suffer and die to redeem the lost millions of Adam’s fallen race. Hence you see the pertinency on the part of the Divine administration, that the Holy Spirit should withhold these tragic, sublime, and wonderful events appertaining to their Master, so that they should not understand them till after they had all transpired. The same fact is true in all ages, despite all the efforts of human learning to fathom and comprehend the Bible. While these are not to be depreciated, it is an incontestable fact that we only know the Word as it is revealed to us by the Holy Ghost. After the Constantinian apostasy, during the Dark Ages, when the Church was monopolized by Romanism, and retrogressed into semi-paganism, every great, cardinal, spiritual truth having evanesced, and the Holy Spirit apparently retreating away and leaving her in the dismal midnight of ignorance and superstition, even collapsing so egregiously into human infatuation and folly as to become a secret society, like Freemasonry, her mystic rites only known to her muttering priests, and locked up in a dead language, incomprehensible by the laity, — amid this dismal night of ignorance, superstition, and idolatry, she remained a thousand years, till the light again broke in, God raising up Wyclif, a Roman Catholic priest, justly denominated the Morning Star of the Reformation; followed by John Huss, of Bohemia, whom the Roman Catholics burned, and threw his ashes into the Rhine, on whose waters they floated down, impinging on many lands, germinating quite a crop of martyrs, who sprang up spontaneously, like mushrooms in the night; and like the armed men who sprang up from the dragon’s teeth which Cadmus sowed in Greece, so a magnificent crop of martyrs were soon testifying amid the flaming fagots in different European countries; finally, Luther comes to the front, the hero of the Reformation, the multitudes falling in line, getting their eyes open to the glorious truth of justification by the free grace of God in Christ, received and appropriated by faith alone, independently of Church rites, priestly manipulations, and clerical absolutions, — presenting a rank and file too formidable for the papistical power to overawe by thundering anathemas, bulls of excommunication, or the fires of Inquisition. We may here observe that during this long period of a thousand years, while the dismal Pagan night darkened the escutcheon of the historic Church, ignorance, superstition, priestcraft, prelacy, and popery, with their human institutions, autocracy, and tyranny having supplanted, and, to all human observation, obliterated every vestige of experimental godliness from the historic Church, yet God had a people in the world who knew Him experimentally, and walked with Him in the beauty of holiness, despite the terrible persecutions waged against them by the Catholic Church, A. D. 251. The Novatians, the holiness people of their day and time, withdrew from the Catholic Church on account of her corruptions. The same people in later centuries were denominated the Waldenses and Albigenses, and despite all efforts to exterminate them in blood, survived several centuries; and finally the movement received a new impetus under the leadership of the Moravians, who were instrumental in the sanctification of John Wesley, who, in the providence of God, became exceedingly prominent in the great holiness movement of his day. While Luther was evidently a sanctified man, yet he never gave the doctrine or the experience any especial attention, having all he could possibly do to rescue the primary truths of justification, regeneration, and adoption from the black grip of Satanic oblivion, long fastened on them by the tyrannical intrigues of Romanism. I am satisfied that God had His way with Luther and his compeers, using them, pursuant to His own will and purpose, in the restoration of these grand fundamental doctrines of experimental salvation. As Wycli£ was the morning star and Luther the rising sun of the great justification revival, in a similar manner George Fox, the founder of Quakerism; John Bunyan, the Baptist; and John Knox, the Presbyterian, were the morning stars of the great sanctification revival, whose sun arose with Wesley and his compeers. As the great doctrine of entire sanctification, so prominent in the apostolic age, had gone into eclipse with oncoming Romanism, and had slumbered in oblivion more than a thousand years, God raised up these mighty men to rescue from oblivion, formulate, and elucidate the profound and majestic-truth of Christian perfection. These heroic saints of bygone ages have faithfully and courageously done their work, and are now resting in glory. While experience is substantially identical in all ages, not so with exegesis. The Bible is our text-book, and the Holy Ghost our Teacher; but some of us are very slow scholars. The Holy Ghost is leading us on, and teaching us as we are able to receive it. Wesley and his coadjutors profited by the work of Luther, as Wesley was actually converted while listening to the reading of Luther’s preface to the Pauline Epistles; but the labor of their lives was not on justification, but Christian perfection.

Our holiness brethren who would confine our investigations and elucidations to sanctification, make a great mistake. The Holy Spirit is still opening the Scriptures, and revealing them more and more, to the saints of God. If we should stop with sanctification, we would make no progress beyond our predecessors, whereas the school of Christ is the most progressive institution in all the world. The notable fact that the Holy Spirit is so wonderful opening the Scriptures revelatory of the Lord’s second coming, is to me an auspicious omen that the time is at hand. We are now living in the last century of the world’s six thousand years, the millennium being the seventh thousand. As the popular chronology is believed by the ablest critics to be too long, many authorities expiring the six thousand years already, we have many reasons to open our eyes to the incoming light shed by the blessed Holy Spirit on those numerous Scriptures revealing the return of Jesus to this world. During the last year I have traveled twenty thousand miles in America, Europe, Asia, and Africa. In all lands, and upon all seas, I met the Lord’s dear people, looking out for His coming, and believing Him to be very nigh. The Holy Spirit is wonderfully lighting up the Scriptures on the coming of the Lord, Divine healing, and woman’s ministry. We so much need the ministry of the sisterhood to help us carry the gospel to the ends of the earth, and expedite the return of our glorious King. It is very pertinent that we should all sit, meek and lowly, at the feet of Jesus, perfectly appreciative and acquiescent in the teaching of the Holy Ghost. If we refuse to move forward responsive to His leadership, we will certainly grieve Him.

Why did He not reveal the great doctrine of sanctification to Luther? Because he and his generation had enough to do to teach and establish justification. Why did He not lead out Wesley to elaborate the coming of the Lord? Because he had all he could do, in his long, laborious, and useful life, to expound and establish the great doctrine of entire sanctification. Now, with the full benefit of the proficiency achieved by our predecessors, shall we make no decisive process in the school of Christ? Shall we stand still, or go round like the blind horse in the treadmill? God’s commandment to Israel is, “Go forward.” This will be true indefinitely in the department of Biblical exegesis, which, like God its Author, is absolutely illimitable. We will not only learn during this life, but on through all eternity, and more rapidly after we get to heaven than ever before. God forbid that we should command Israel to stand still when He says, “Go forward!”


Verses 35-43

THE BLIND MEN AT JERICHO

Matthew 20:29-34; Luke 18:35-43; Mark 10:46-52. “And they are coming into Jericho. And He and His disciples and a great multitude going out from Jericho, blind Bartimeus, the son of Timeus, was sitting by the wayside begging. And hearing that it is Jesus the Nazarene, began to cry out, and to say, Jesus, thou Son of David, have mercy on me! And many continued to rebuke him, that he must keep silent; and he continued to cry out much more, Thou Son of David, have mercy on me!

And Jesus, standing, said that he should be called. And they called the blind man, saying to Him, Take courage, arise; He calls you. And laying aside his cloak, rising, lie came to Jesus. And responding, Jesus says to him, What do you wish that I shall do to you? And the blind man said to Him, Master, that I may look up. Jesus said to him, Go, thy faith hath saved thee; and immediately he looked up, and follows Jesus in the way.” As you see, Matthew, Luke, and Mark all give this narrative. However, it is pertinent to observe that Matthew says He healed two blind men as He came out from Jericho, while Luke speaks of but one, whom He healed as He was coming into Jericho; Mark alone giving us the name of Bartimeus, the son of Timeus, and stating that he was sitting by the wayside begging as the multitude passed out of Jericho. Doubtless his home was near by, and he made his living by begging of the travelers along the highway from Jericho to Jerusalem. On hearing the tread of the multitude, and learning that the Prophet Jesus is passing by, and as he had heard so much about His wonderful miracles, restoring sight to multitudes of the blind who had been enabled to reach His ministry in His peregrinations through Galilee, Judea, Perea, Samaria, and other countries, and having determined to avail himself of the opportunity if He should ever pass that way, and doubtless already having information that He had crossed the Jordan, out of Perea into Judea, the day preceding, and was traveling toward Jerusalem, and would certainly come that way, the only great road leading through the wilderness of Judea from Jericho to Jerusalem, he now cries aloud incessantly, “O Jesus, thou Son of David, have mercy on me!” As the prophecies revealed that the Messiah was to be the Son of David, in this appellation He really acknowledges His Christhood.

I always met many beggars in that country. While they all have their places, and unhesitatingly speak out in their language, asking for a contribution, I never heard one scream and roar as this one did. Luke uses the word eboese, which is from boao, which, you observe, if you will pronounce it loudly, makes a noise like the lowing of an ox. Hence we see that this man threw his mouth open, and roared aloud, refusing to be quiet, though many of the multitude rebuked him for his impetuosity and disorder. Jesus, however, gives His fur approval to his persistent roaring by calling him to Him unhesitatingly. Consequently, throwing aside his outer garment for the sake of expedition, rising, he hastens to Jesus, who immediately opens his eyes, certifying to him, “Thy faith hath saved thee;” thus laying an illimitable emphasis on the grace of faith, as Jesus is accustomed to do. O how wonderfully does Jesus preach salvation by faith! Blind Bartimeus not only received his eyesight, but the salvation of his soul, through simple faith in Jesus. Therefore we are not astonished that, having now become a disciple, he falls in with the crowd, and follows Jesus, doubtless, the remnant of his life, and is now playing on his golden harp. This is a notable case of whole-hearted, importunate seeking of Jesus. When they did their utmost to moderate him, telling him that screaming and roaring in the presence of that great multitude was so indecorous, you see he only roared the louder. Find a penitent on that line, and look out! — something wonderful is going to happen.

Now, as you see, Matthew tells of two blind men restored as Jesus passed out of Jericho; Luke speaking of but one, and that one as he entered into the city; while Mark tells us of Bartimeus as he came out. How do we reconcile this apparent disharmony? There is no need of any reconcilement. I have no doubt but He did, as Luke says, restore a blind man as He went in, and, as Luke says, two as he came out, of whom, doubtless, Bartimeus was one; as you must remember that many of our Lord’s great miracles are not found now in the inspired records, but only a few salient ones.

The Jericho so celebrated in the days of Joshua stood on the plain of the Jordan, near the base of the Mount of Temptation, where Jesus was tempted by Satan, and ten miles from the ford of the Jordan where Israel crossed over and Jesus was baptized. You know when this city was destroyed, Israel having shouted down the walls, God forbade its rebuilding. So it has never been rebuilt. However, they built a new city, two miles south, where the road from Jerusalem reaches the foot of the mountain and proceeds out, crossing the plain of the Jordan. This was the Jericho in the days of Christ. In the desolation of Judea by the Roman armies, soon after the crucifixion of Jesus, Jericho was destroyed. When the Crusaders conquered and took possession of the Holy Land, A. D. 1099, they rebuilt Jericho, about two miles farther east, along the road to the Jordan ford. This Jericho is still standing. I lodged there during both of nay visits in that country.

 


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Bibliography Information
Godbey, William. "Commentary on Luke 18:4". "William Godbey's Commentary on the New Testament". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/ges/luke-18.html.

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Friday, January 17th, 2020
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