William Godbey's Commentary on the New Testament
HEALING OF PETER’S MOTHER-IN-LAW
Matthew 8:14-17; Mark 1:2-34; & Luke 14:3-35 Mark: “And immediately coming out of the synagogue? came into the house of Simon and Andrew and James and John. The mother-in-law of Simon was lying down scorched with a fever; and immediately they speak to Him concerning her; and coming to her and taking her by the hand, He raised her up; and immediately the fever left her, and she continued to minister unto them. And it being evening, when the sun went down, they continued to carry to Him all the sick and the demonized; and the whole city was gathered at the door. And He healed many sick with various diseases, and continued to cast out many demons; and did not suffer the demons to speak, because they knew Him.” Matthew gives a wonderful prophecy of Isaiah 53:4 :
“He took our infirmities, and carried our diseases.”
That prophecy, corroborated by our Savior, is really wonderful on Divine healing, certainly setting forth our blessed privilege in the atonement to have our bodies healed. We need physical health in order to do the work the Lord has given us, to bless mankind and glorify God in this life; our faith being the measuring-line of blessings for body as well as soul. This case of Peter's mother-in-law, in his house in Capernaum, was really notable.
Luke says, “She was afflicted with a great fever.” The healing was so decisive that she got up at once, and proceeded to do her housework. I have seen that very case duplicated repeatedly. Last August, at Scottsville (Texas) Camp-meeting, we prayed for a lady in her tent who was burnt with a terrible fever, at the same time anointing her with oil. The fever left her immediately she got up and went to meeting within fifteen minutes. I saw her in the meetings constantly till the adjournment of the camp, with no sign of fever, and testifying to her healing. We see here that when the sun went down, they continued to bring the sick; as this was midsummer, and the sea of Galilee is seven hundred feet below the Mediterranean and surrounded by highlands, it gets exceedingly hot on the coast. Hence the importance of waiting until sunset, and perhaps in order to command necessary help, as men have more leisure at night than during the day. We see here that Jesus cast out the demons and healed the sick, thus ministering both to soul and body, converting, saving, and sanctifying the soul and healing the body. He is the same, “Yesterday, today, and forever.” O what a Savior we have! His mercies are boundless and free. It is our glorious privilege, not only to have all the demons cast out of our souls, but to have our bodily ailments healed. We should go to the ends of the earth, as our Lord commissioned us, casting out demons and healing the sick. We see here that, while all of those demons wanted to confess the Christhood of Jesus, His Divine Sonship, He prohibited them. How did they know Him? All these demons were once angels, as God never created a devil. During the bygone ages, before they forfeited their probation and were cast out of heaven, they all beheld the bright glory of the Son of God. Hence they recognized Him; but I am not astonished that He was unwilling for these fallen spirits to become the heralds of His Divinity. He preferred to let His mighty works vindicate His claims to the Messiahship.
MINISTRY OF JOHN THE BAPTIST BY MATTHEW, MARK, AND LUKE
Luke 3:1-2. “In the fifteenth year of the dominion of Tiberius Caesar, Pontius Pilate being governor of Judea, and Herod tetrarch of Galilee, and Philip his brother tetrarch of Iturea and the Trachonitis country, and Lysanias being tetrarch of Abilene, during the high priesthood of Annas and Caiaphas, the word of God came to John, the son of Zacharias, in the wilderness.” Luke gives us important specifications, stating that Tiberius was emperor of the Roman world; Pontius Pilate, governor of Judea; Herod — i.e., Herod Antipas, the son of Herod the Great, who was on the throne of Judea when our Savior was born, and slew the infants — was tetrarch of Galilee. His jurisdiction also included Perea, east of the Jordan. As both of these countries were traversed by our Savior, it is important that they appear in this introductory. The Philip here mentioned, the brother of Herod, and governor of Iturea and Trachonitis, was not the one whose wife, Herodias, Herod Antipas took; but she was the wife of another Philip, who was a half brother to Herod. Abilene, the tetrarchy of Lysanias, was a region of country in Anti-Lebanon, between Damascus and Heliopolis. We have Annas and Caiaphas here, both spoken of as high priests; and we see, in our Lord’s arraignment, He was brought before each one of them. The solution of the matter seems to be that the Roman authorities favored the high-priesthood of Annas, and the Jewish that of Caiaphas. After Zacharias and Elizabeth fled away from Jutta, near Bethlehem, into the wilderness of Judea, to protect their child from the cruelties of Herod, they returned no more during the minority of John. Consequently, upon reaching the age of thirty, he entered at once upon his ministry there in the desert (Matthew 3:1-2), “preaching in the desert of Judea, and saying, Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”
Mark 1:4, “John came baptizing in the desert, and preaching the baptism of repentance unto the remission of sins.” I here use the word “desert,” in lieu of “wilderness,” because the latter is utterly illusory to the American reader. By wilderness, in this country, we understand a wild region of Country, overgrown with briers, brambles, and brush, as well as forest trees. That is not the Bible meaning of the word eremos, which means a region of country either destitute of water, because the rains do not fall on it, or at least partially destitute, because of insufficiency of rains. Four times have I traveled through the wilderness of Judea, where John the Baptist was brought up and did his first preaching. It is a desert, dry and unproductive, seldom seeing a green leaf, because of insufficient rains. Mosses, ferns, and nettles grow there, fed on by the goats, donkeys, and camels. In the deserts there are oases, like islands in the ocean, where springs of water so irrigate as to produce some sustenance for man and beast, and these are the places of habitation. John was brought up in that poor, wild, sterile desert of Judea, lying between Jerusalem and Bethlehem on the west, and the Dead Sea on the east.
Here we see that the burden of John’s Gospel is repentance unto the remission of sins. When man truly repents, God always forgives. John cried, with stentorian voice, “Repent, because the kingdom of heaven is at hand;” i.e., Christ the King is at hand, who, of course, brings the kingdom with Him. Matthew 3; Mark 1:3; Luke 3:4. “The voice of one roaring in the desert, Prepare ye the way of the Lord: make His paths straight.” “Crying,” E.V. is “boontos,” from “boo,” the noise an ox makes when he lows. Hence it means roaring like an ox. We see from these facts that John had a stalwart, robust constitution, having been brought up in the rough and tumble life of the desert, and now, thirty years old — i.e., a grown young man — in his vigor, filled and flooded with the Holy Ghost, he throws his great mouth wide open, and roars, like an ox bawling. His message was simple and brief. He had but one theme, and that was repentance unto the remission of their sins, confirming their covenant by water baptism. His stentorian voice, and the burning truth, which leaped like forked lightnings from his lips, stir the people terrifically, as he assures them that the King of heaven is already on the earth, and the most important enterprise of life is to prepare to meet Him, which they can only do by repenting of all their sins, unto a conscious experimental remission, which he proposed to confirm by water baptism. A true repentance is accompanied by restitution, which undoes all the bad work of the former life, making all wrongs right so far as possible, God taking the will for the deed in case of impossibility. If you would get saved, the Lord must come into your heart. He will not travel over a crooked road. Hence you must make his paths straight — i.e., make straight ways for the Lord to come into thy heart; i.e., you must straighten out all of your own crooked ways — otherwise the Lord will never come into your heart, and you would better never have been born. John gave the trumpet no uncertain sound. He had both the thunder and the lightning — the former, to call attention and terrify; and the latter, to kill. O how the Lord needs such preachers now, to arouse a slumbering world and a dead Church from the lethargy of swift damnation!
Luke 5, 6. “Every valley shall be filled up, and every mountain and hill shall be brought low.” True repentance brings the king, the queen, the nobleman, the great man, the hon tons of society, down low in the dust at the feet of Jesus, where they can get religion, and be humble enough to black their own shoes, cook, and wash dishes, delighted to wait on themselves and their friends, and live the life of the meek and lowly; while the wonderful redeeming grace of God lifts up beggars, drunkards, and harlots, and transforms the very “filth and offscourmg of the world” into mighty men and saintly women, whose seraphic voices hold multitudes spellbound, and whose mighty works will glorify God in the day of eternity. “Crooked things shall be straight, and rough places shall become the smooth Ways, and all flesh shall see the salvation of God.” These wonderful transformations of redeeming grace and sanctifying power, transforming the roughest reprobates into the most amiable saints, and the most stupid simpletons into fire-baptized witnesses for Jesus, the blackest debauchees into bloodwashed pilgrims for glory bound, tells the wonderful secret of the world’s evangelization. There is no other way to bring about this summum desideratum, for which every true heart sighs night and day. Hence it devolves on the holiness people of all lands to verify the Commission, and “preach the gospel to every Creature.” O what a glorious privilege, to be numbered with the Sacramental Army, going forth to conquer the world for Christ!
The great reason why we can’t evangelize the world is, the puzzling problem of ministerial support. The Bible answers all questions and sweeps away all difficulties. Here we have John the Baptist, the greatest’ preacher the world saw in four thousand years, and a paragon for all others to imitate. See this wonderful prophet of the desert, with a huge stone for a pulpit, and an audience of ten thousand, standing on the burning sand, listening hour after hour, so utterly spellbound that the sun goes down before they are aware. The preacher has nothing on his body by way of apparel but the coarse, shaggy, camel’s-hair mantle, worn by the poorest people, and tied around his loins with a strap of rawhide; i.e., actually clothed like a beggar. Now what about boarding the greatest preacher the world had ever seen? It is an unequivocal truth that he lived on the locusts, sweetened with the wild honey gathered from the rocks in the mountains, as the “wilderness [desert] of Judea” is one continuous bed of rugged, precipitous, cavernous, barren mountains, where very little rain falls in the winter, and none in the summer, producing very scanty vegetation but a short period in the year. I am aware that great efforts have been made to explain away the idea that John really ate the locusts. There is a tree in the Holy Land called the carob or horn tree, bearing fruit eaten by poor people, much resembling the American honey-locust. Many have claimed that this was the food of John the Baptist. Even my Arab guide pointed it out to me as the food which John ate. I must state here, once for all, that the theory is utterly untenable. The fruit of that tree is called keration. (Luke 15:16.) The prodigal son actually ate it, along with the hogs, which are very fond of it; while the word translated locusts, and specifying the food of John the Baptist, is akris, and has no meaning except the animal locust. Hence there is no dodging the issue without flatly contradicting the Word of God. So set it down as a matter of fact that John lived on locusts. This clear revelation of God’s Word is abundantly corroborated by all the collateral facts and circumstances appertaining to the case.
(a) This day the locusts abound in the very country where John lived thirty years and entered upon his wonderful ministry.
I have seen them, in quantities so great that I could have filled a bushel basket in a diameter of a single rod.
(b) It is a well-known fact that the Bedouins, living in the desert now, eat the locusts, not simply in case of emergency, but they are very fond of them, regarding them as a luxury, and devouring them voraciously, preferring them cooked, with salt, but eating them unhesitatingly raw, with salt if they have it, and without it if they have it not. They traverse the desert, hunting them; fill great sacks with them; carry them on camels and donkeys to their tents, and feast like kings so long as the locusts last.
(c) The poor people in the desert, with whom John was brought up, habitually eat the locusts.
Of course they invited their preacher to eat with them, giving him such as they had; i.e., locusts sweetened with wild honey. My Arab guide, accompanying me when I saw the locusts in the “wilderness of Judea,” and dismounted so as to enjoy a good look at them, as they manifested no disposition to get out of my way, told me that they taste much like fish, and are quite palatable. I took his word, and was satisfied without testing the matter. The locusts which I saw were very fine looking, and several times so large as the grasshoppers in the American deserts, of which the Indians are so fond.
(d) Good Lord, deliver us from criticizing Thy Word, and give us grace unhesitatingly to take the Bible as it says, and save us from all efforts to explain it away! John the Baptist had no money, and needed none.
We do not conclude from this that we should not give the preachers money, or anything else we have and they need. But we do conclude that the person who waits for money is out of God’s order. John had none, and was not in a place to get any. Myriads are now called by the Holy Ghost under similar circumstances. O how they grieve the Spirit when they wait, year after year, for money to defray traveling expenses, pay board, and purchase clothing and books, while millions are dropping into hell! I find men and women everywhere who confess that they are called by the Spirit, and are not in the work. An awful responsibility awaits them at the judgment bar. They should go, like John the Baptist, waiting for nothing. “The Lord will provide.”
It may not be my way, It may not be thy way; Yet, in His own way, The Lord will provide.”
If I could be a thousand men, I have open doors enough for them all to enter. What about the support? That is already settled with a draft on heaven’s bank.
Can we not have the faith of Sister Amelia Andrew, the wife of the sainted bishop? The Confederate War has swept over the country, a deluge of blood and fire, disorganizing Churches and revolutionizing society. General Lee has surrendered, and the war is over. Bishop Andrew, though now an octogenarian, is much concerned for the work in Texas, which has received no attention during the dark quadrennium.
He says to his sanctified Amelia, “O, how I‘d like to go to Texas, and look after the interest of God’s kingdom in the great ‘Lone Star State!’”
“My dear, why do you not go?” “No money.”
“I can send you to the boat-landing on Tombighee River, in my carriage, without any money.”
“But what can I do when I get there, with no money to defray my traveling expenses?”
“The Lord will provide,” responded the sanctified wife.
The venerable bishop acquiesces, and goes away by faith alone, without a cent of money. On arrival at the boat-landing, he meets a steamboat captain, a dear old friend, who kindly invites him to accept a free ride to New Orleans. On arrival at New Orleans, he meets a sea captain, a precious old friend, so glad to see him, who invites him to enjoy a free ride on his ship to Galveston, Texas. O how the Texans are delighted to receive him! God blesses his ministry. He stays long, sees the glory of God, and returns to his Alabama home with money in his pocket.
But this was a good run of luck. O no! It was the good providence of God.
I have seen it all my life. The difficulty of ministerial support is the devil’s trump-card, in the game he is playing with the Church for the damnation of the world. The argument in the case of John the Baptist is unanswerable, covering all the ground, and applicable under all circumstances.
Matthew 5:6, & Mark 1:5. “Then there went out unto him Jerusalem, and all Judea, and all the regions round about Jordan, and were baptized of him in Jordan, confessing their sins.” Six millions of people are included in these countries. O the wonderful power and magnetism of John’s preaching! He actually emptied the cities and populated the desert with thronging millions. From dewy morn till dusky eve, the rich on camels, the middle classes on donkeys, and the poor trudging on foot, literally crowd the way, off into the desert wild and drear, carrying their food and bedding, that they may spend a fortnight in the grandest camp-meeting that the world has seen in four thousand years. Water is very scarce in the “wilderness [desert] of Judea.” Traveling through it four times, I saw none but the Brook Cherith. I have heard of it, however, in other localities of that desert. Doubtless the scarcity of water to supply the multitudes and the animals they rode, as well as for baptismal demands, induced John to go away to the Jordan, only a dozen miles from this desert. The Jordan rises in great Mt. Hermon, ten thousand feet high, capped with a world of snows, all through the long summer incessantly melting, and keeping the river abundantly supplied with plenty of water for all purposes. Behold John, standing on the beautiful, spreading plain of the Jordan, surrounded by an audience of fifty thousand people, listening spellbound to his thunder peals, while the lightning of conviction is flashing from the skies, electrifying all hearts, with the gushing tears of a soul-crushing repentance. Moses was a great baptist, baptizing all the people at the tabernacle door upon the ratification of the Sinaitic Covenant. (Hebrews 9:10-12.) Judaism, with its vast and operose ritual, the Messianic hemisphere, offering millions of slain victims, typifying the atonement of Christ, while the spiritual was equally operose, emblematizing the work of the Holy Ghost by the innumerable watery ablutions for the purification from all sorts of ceremonial uncleanness. Hence the Johannic dispensation must be characterized by ceremonial purifications. At the present time, the Oriental religions gather by thousands upon the very spot where John baptized the Savior, the priest dipping the cross three times in the name of the Three Persons of the Trinity, they all simultaneously plunge themselves under the rolling wave of the holy Jordan three times; not doing this for baptism as the initiatory rite into the Church-this they have already received — but as a holy ablution to sanctify them, as they all believe the baptism of the Savior sanctified the Jordan. As John had neither the time nor the physical ability to handle his converts, they either plunged themselves under the rolling tide, or John, after the manner of the Jewish priest (and he was one), dipping the hyssop in the water, sprinkled the multitudes, somewhat as a Catholic priest nowadays sprinkles his audiences. The Jordan has plenty of water, and there is plenty in all parts of the earth. Be sure you satisfy your conscience as to this duty.
THE BAPTISM WHICH JESUS GIVES CONTRASTED WITH THAT OF JOHN
Matthew 3:2; Mark 1:7-8; Luke 3:16. “I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance; but the One coming after me is more powerful than I, whose sandals I am unworthy to carry; He will baptize you with the Holy Ghost and fire.” John and all other authentic preachers of the gospel administer the symbolic baptism with water, not only in this way sealing the covenant of repentance, but beautifully typifying the real baptism which Jesus gives with the Holy Ghost. Whereas, Matthew and Mark give us here the statement en hudati, the dative of instrumentality, showing up the fact that John used the water in an instrumental way, Luke simply says men hudati baptizo humas — i.e., “I indeed baptize you with water” — omitting the preposition en, as you see, confirming the fact that hudati is the dative of instrumentality, clearly and unequivocally involving the conclusion that John handled the water instead of the people. This preposition en in this passage — used by Matthew and Mark and omitted by Luke — has several meanings, among which “in” and “with” are most prominent. God forbid that any one should think I want to encourage controversy in a matter so small and unessential as the quantity of water and the manner of its application! You read the Word of the Lord, and be sure you satisfy your conscience. (1 Peter 3:21.) We also have, in certain localities, a controversy involving the fire phase of our Savior’s baptism. Here, with the inspired Greek under my eye, I see that Matthew and Luke give us, “He will baptize you with the Holy Ghost and fire,” while Mark omits the fire altogether, simply stating, “He will baptize you with the Holy Ghost,” clearly involving the conclusion that the fire normally inheres in the Holy Spirit — i.e., is inseparable from Him: “God is a consuming fire.” (Hebrews 12:18.) You know the Holy Ghost is none other than very and eternal God; therefore, when you receive the Holy Ghost, you receive the baptism of fire:
“For He is like a refiner’s fire, and like fuller’s soap.” (Malachi 3:2.)
Thus, fire and soap being the great purifiers, are here associated, denotative of that wonderful purification which the Holy Spirit always executes when you receive Him into your hearts. The teaching of a fiery baptism, separate and distinct from that of the Holy Spirit, antagonizes Ephesians 4:3, where Paul certifies that there is one, and only one, baptism in the gracious economy, the fire not being a separate and distinct baptism, but a concomitant of the Spirit; while the ordinance with water is not intrinsically a baptism, but symbolically typifies the real baptism of the Holy Spirit administered by our Savior. In connection with these facts, it is pertinent to consider 2 Timothy 1:6 :
“On account of which cause, I remind thee to revive and refire the gracious gift of God which is in thee for the laying on of my hands.”
The English word here, “stir up,” is anazopurein, which is a compound from ana, re; zao, life; pur, fire. Hence you see that the plain meaning of this triple Greek compound is “revive” and “refire.” We receive spiritual life in regeneration, but frequently need reviving, and will till this mortal puts on immortality.
We receive the fire of the Holy Ghost in sanctification, which should be revived and renewed, ever and anon, throughout our pilgrimage. You take food to revive your physical life, as otherwise it would evanesce, and you would die. You frequently put on fuel, stir up, and renew the fire, as otherwise it would go out, and you would freeze out in the North-pole atmosphere of this wintry world. Let us not get wise above what is written; but take the plain Word of the Lord in every Case, and you will keep out of these tangles, in which Satan is so fond of perplexing the people of God. There is no danger of getting too much life and too much fire if you get it from God. Man has fox-fire, the devil has hell-fire, and God has heavenly-fire. The Holy Ghost is God. If you seek a baptismal fire separate from the Spirit, you open the door for men and devils to deceive you with their “strange fire,” for which Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron, fell dead when they offered it to the Lord. So beware, lest you offer strange fire to the Lord, and fall dead spiritually, as we seriously fear some are doing. If you seek any blessing separate from God, you run headlong into fanaticism. Feel perfectly free to get revived and fired all you possibly can, but get it all from God, remembering, amid all that God says, there is but one baptism. (Ephesians 5:4.)
THE BAPTISM OF JESUS
Matthew 3:13-17; Mark 1:9-11; Luke 3:21-23. “Then Jesus comes from Galilee unto Jordan to John, to be baptized by him.” Our Lord was six months younger than John, and hence He awaits the arrival of His majority — thirty years — before He will enter upon His official Messiahship. As John was sent from God to introduce Him to the world he is the man to inaugurate Him into His ministry. “John continued to decline Him, saying, I have need to be baptized of Thee, and comest Thou unto me?” John was no exception to the human race, born with a depraved heart, which must be sanctified with a baptism of the Holy Ghost and fire. Of course, I am satisfied that John already enjoyed the sanctified experience, like his prophetical predecessors, in advance of his dispensation. We are to understand this, as a statement of a great generic truth, that not only John, but every other human being, needs the baptism of Jesus to sanctify him for heaven. “And Jesus responding, said, Permit it now; for thus it is proper for us to fulfill all righteousness; then he permits Him.” Our Savior is Prophet, Priest, and King. The Levitical law positively required the high priest to have the anointing oil poured on his head, as Moses in the case of Aaron, before he is permitted to enter upon the duties and privileges of his office. This is the righteousness here pertinent; as our Savior never needed righteousness in the sense of justification, we are only permitted to give the word a ceremonial signification, complying with Old Testament law. “And Jesus, having been baptized, came up immediately from the water;” E.V., “out of the water,”
is corrected in R.V., rendering it “from the water,” as apo does not mean “out of,” but only “from.” “And, behold, the heavens were opened, and He saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and coming upon Him.” The Holy Ghost here assumes His symbolic form of a dove, becoming visible to mortal eyes. The cooing of the dove thrills the heart with melancholy, reminding us of the Holy Spirit, grieved over the wickedness of the world, and bewailing the hardness of the human heart. It is a significant fact, as is positively affirmed, that you can not make the dove angry; but you can grieve him so he will leave you and never return. “Behold, a voice from heaven, saying, This is My beloved Son, in whom I am delighted.” O what a popular sensation is aroused when John, on tiptoe, cries aloud, “Behold the Lamb of God, that taketh away the sin of the world!” thus boldly notifying the multitude that the wonderful Shiloh of prophecy, Redeemer of Israel, whom he has all the time been preaching to them, is already on the ground. All eyes are turned in utter bewilderment, looking about, and many shouting, “Where is He?” The multitude spontaneously crowd together, as if moved by sacred awe, forming a long aisle, through which the Prince of glory, walking down, meets their preacher, demanding baptism at his hands. Ten thousand eyes are now centered on this wonderful scene, the Prince of glory meeting the prophet of the wilderness at the baptismal waters. Luke says, “Jesus, having been baptized, and while praying, the heaven is opened;” simultaneously the Divine voice roaring out from the blue dome of heaven, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased!” O what a stir throughout the multitude! Some say, “It is thunder, ringing down from a cloudless sky.” Others say, “That is impossible; but an angel spoke to Him.” Now, all eyes are strained and looking after Him. But He is gone, led by the Spirit away into the wilderness, to be tempted by the devil.
Matthew 4:1-11; Mark 1:12-13; Luke 4:1-13. Matthew says that “He was led by the Spirit into the desert, to be tempted by the devil.” Mark says: “The Spirit immediately impels Him away into the desert. And He was there in the desert forty days, being tempted by the devil; and He was with the wild beasts, and the angels continued to minister unto Him.” Luke says: “Jesus, full of the Holy Ghost, went away from the Jordan; and was led by the Spirit into the desert, being tempted by the devil forty days. And He ate nothing during those days; and they being completed, He was afterward hungry.” I have gazed much upon the Mount of Temptation, lifting his bleak, rugged summit immediately west of Old Jericho, whose walls fell down responsive to the shouts of Israel, and about twenty miles from the ford of the Jordan where Jesus was baptized. It is a bleak, desolate, rugged, dreary region, inhabited only by wild beasts and robbers, unless the Bedoum, in his wanderings, here pitches his tent. The fact that Matthew and Luke positively state that He became hungry after the forty days, and Mark certifies that the angels were ministering unto Him throughout these forty days, involves the conclusion that He was supernaturally kept, in a state of spiritual rhapsody, like Moses and Elijah, during the forty days, so that He did not realize the sensation of hunger until after their expiration; and the ministering angels retiring, the natural, physical condition returns, and with it an intense sensation of hunger, as He had been forty days entirely without physical nutriment. Mark and Luke both state that the temptation was going on during the forty days, while Matthew states that after the forty days, the tempter coming to Him, said, “If Thou art the Son of God, say that these stones Mark, and Luke, we conclude that during the forty days He was undergoing a temptation by the combined minions of perdition, and the powers of darkness turned loose against Him; meanwhile, the angels are present with Him, and through their sympathetic and consolatory ministrations, He enjoys a heavenly prelibation to such an extent as to fill His spirit with an unearthly rapture, the indwelling Holy Spirit, whom He had received when He descended on Him at the Jordan, so thrilling Him with heavenly ecstasy as to supersede and hold in suspense the physical appetites, so as to suspend the sensation of hunger during the forty days of angelic ministration. During this period, while evidently the powers of darkness are turned loose against Him, and doubtless the monsters of the pit swarm around Him, their hideous howling commingling with the growl and the roar of the wild beasts, yet, amid all, He enjoys a glorious victory, so that His spiritual rapture enables Him so to triumph over the physical destitution and depletion as to utterly suspend the sensation of hunger. At the expiration of forty days, the angels having retreated away, and the roar of the hell-hounds, the hissing of reptiles, and the ferocity of the wild beasts all combine to augment the dismal solitude and the awful peril of the situation, suddenly King Diabolus, having vacated his ebony throne in the Pandemonium, and assuming the form of a great and mighty man, like Napoleon Bonaparte or Alexander the Great, dressed in all the pompous costume of royal majesty, approaches Him, and enters upon a personal interview. The ministering angels have retreated away; His spiritual rhapsody no longer holding in suspense the physical functions, a fearful collapse of exhausted nature now supervenes, the intensity of His hunger, after a fast of forty days, being utterly inconceivable. Here we see Jesus at the greatest possible disadvantage.
(a) He is in the enemy’s territory, surrounded by desolation and horror; the ferocious wild beasts ready to devour Him, and more ferocious demons and hellish monsters on all sides, every angel having retreated away, and the bright glory of heaven mantled in dark eclipse, with the awful intensity of hunger, super induced by a forty days’ fast.
(b) In addition to all this, the prince of the Pandemonium, with the cultured intelligence of an archangel, now meets Him, with a personal order to satisfy His poor body with bread.
We must remember that, as Jesus was free from infirmity and from all physical ailment, which so frequently, in our case, suspends the appetite for food, His hunger subsequently to the expiration of the forty days and the angelic ministry was unutterably intense. While the Divinity of Christ could not be tempted, His humanity was tempted, in all the three great departments constituent to our being; i.e., the physical, spiritual, and intellectual.
(c) You observe from the inspired narrative that Satan made his first assault against the physical nature of Jesus, availing himself of the most superlative case of intensified hunger in order to induce Him to satisfy it by resorting to a miracle, which would be out of harmony with the Divine economy, because in probationary life we must be true to providence as well as grace, the former appertaining to the body, and the latter the soul; hence it was pertinent that Jesus, like every other man, should await the providence of God to satisfy His hunger.
In the case of Adam the First, Satan began with the physical, as now in the temptation of Jesus, it so turned out that he economized two thirds of his ammunition, achieving a complete victory in his first assault; i.e., slaying Adam on the first round. If he had failed in the temptation of his body with the fruit, he would then have proceeded to carry the war with all possible expedition into the dominion of spirit and intellect. Not so in the case of Adam the Second; there, Satan used all of his ammunition and lost it all.
(d) You see here the simple method by which Jesus defeated the devil:
“Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth through the mouth of God.” He is our Infallible Example, who alone has a right to teach the Christian soldier how to fight. If we will follow His example, we are certain to always have victory. You may fight the devil with your creed, and he will run over you rough-shod. Fight him with the plain, simple Word of God, and, like the Salvation Army song,
“If you want to see the devil run, Always shoot him with a gospel gun.”
(e) “Then the devil taketh Him into the holy city, and places Him on a pinnacle of the temple, and says to Him, if Thou art the Son of God, cast Thyself down; for it has been written, He gives His angels charge over Thee, to hear Thee up, lest Thou dash Thy foot against a stone.” (Psalms 91:2)
Satan is a great Scriptorian, always ready to quote it; but never giving it correctly. So you find Satan’s preachers, always twisting and turning the Word of the Lord to suit their creed. In this quotation, Diabolus very adroitly omits the clause, “In all Thy ways.” We can perfectly rely upon the keeping power of God, so long as we are in the Divine order; but when we get out, then the devil drops a lasso round our necks. In this assault — i.e., Satan’s second campaign against Jesus — he directs his ammunition against the citadel of His human spirit, the receptacle of Divine grace and keeping-power through faith. Consequently the enemy makes a gattling- gun attack on His faith, using all of his chicanery to vitiate it, by turning it into presumption, which is the devil’s counterfeit for faith. O how Satan manipulates to supply the pulpits and the pews with this counterfeit at which is but a trap-door to let them fall into hell! The people believe their creed and support their Church, and presume that they are Christians, while experimentally ignorant of that faith which alone can move the mountains of sin out of their hearts. Again, Jesus uses the Sword of the Spirit, responding to Satan, “Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God.” (Deuteronomy 6:16.) This consummates the second victory which Jesus won in that memorable wilderness battle. The holy city here, as revealed by Luke, was Jerusalem, whose magnificent temple, so splendidly and artistically built and repaired by Herod the Great, had several lofty towers, to the highest of which Satan now leads Jesus, and having Him now in position and plight to leap away and take chances on the stone pavement several hundred feet below, he makes the bold challenge. It is about twenty-five miles away from the Mount of Temptation in Judea to Jerusalem. I trow, Satan, in gaudy sacerdotal robes, or perhaps royal regalia, in human incarnation, actually became the concomitant of Jesus for a period of time not here specified, but beginning at the end of the forty days. shows Him all the kingdoms of the world and the glory of the same, and says to Him, All these will I give unto Thee if, falling down, You may worship before me.” Luke states, “Because it has been given unto me, and I give it to whom I wish.”
Here we see that Satan resorts to a positive and unequivocal falsehood; though he has a false claim on the world, and a dominion over it which he has usurped, and for the time being — for reasons not well known to us, but doubtless lying deep in the probationary economy — he is permitted, in a sense, to reign over the world during the present evil age. (2 Corinthians 4:4.) Where E.V. represents God as calling the devil the “god of this world,” the true reading is the “god of this age,” as the world is to be gloriously redeemed after the Satanic age has come to an end. This is peculiar to Satan’s method of lying, especially to the people of God. While it is a substantial falsehood, it exhibits a phase of truth, in the simple fact of his usurped and temporarily permitted dominion over this world, which, even in the most plausible aspect, is subordinated to the sovereign, discriminating providence of God. We have no specification here as to what mountain this was. Mt. Olivet, east of Jerusalem, is the highest in all Southern Palestine. Mt. Pisgah, in full view, in the Land of Moab, east of the Dead Sea, is the highest in all that region. Mt. Hermon, two hundred miles north, ten thousand feet high, is actually the highest in all the Land of Canaan. As Luke says Satan “showed Him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time”, he must have resorted to a panorama, in which he exhibited before the eye of Jesus all the time-honored kingdoms and mighty empires possessing and ruling the world at that time. This temptation was an assault against the powerful, unfallen intellect of Jesus. The greatest minds the ages have ever known, have all been embargoed, darkened, and paralyzed by the fall. As an Intellectualist, the Man Jesus stands alone in the world. Do you not see in His life how all the genius and the learning of the world and the fallen Church were laid under contribution to confuse, tangle up, and perplex Him? In all the histories of the ages, no other absolutely imperturbable man has ever been found. All the sophistry of priests, theologians, and politicians combined, signally failed in any case to embarrass or confuse Him. This final assault of the enemy, on the line of human ambition, appeals to His wonderful intellect. Nebuchadnezzar, order to conquer and possess it. These were all powerful intellectualists. The greater the intellect, the more incorrigible the ambition. The Greek proskuneses not only means worship, in the sense of adoration offered to a god, hut it means that homage and civility which we extend to persons of royal rank and dignity.
(g) You must remember that Satan before his fall was a great archangel, one of the brightest that ever shone around the effulgent Throne.
The Son of God is uncreated and co-eternal with the Father. Doubtless, during this interview, which was probably more prolix than we generally think, Satan adverted to their old friendship in the regions of fadeless bliss, and perhaps appealed to His sympathies; as amid those terrible troubles which had already resulted in his ejectment from heaven, he had resorted to an effort to enlarge his dominions by the accession of this world to the contracted regions of woe; and now, “O Son of God, that You have come to dispute my claim to the planet Earth, I propose to compromise the whole matter by surrendering up to You the sole and exclusive dominion of this controverted territory, with the understanding that You shall have it and reign over it forever, while I will reign in the dominion of Hades; meanwhile, I shall enjoin but one condition on Your part, and that is, that You and I shall be friends again, as in bygone ages in celestial worlds.” Of course, any complicity with Satan would have abducted the humanity from the Divinity, which, in that case, would have returned back to heaven, the plan of salvation collapsing forever. “Then Jesus says to him, Get behind Me, Satan; for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord God; Him only shalt thou serve.” (Deuteronomy 6:13.) “Then Satan leaves Him,” as Luke says, “for a season.”
“Behold, the angels came and continued to minister unto Him.” Here you see that a single stroke with the Sword of the Spirit repels Satan, and consummates the victory. There is now good reason for his final and utter withdrawal from the battle-field. Every army retreats the moment their ammunition is all expended. As Satan had no possible access to the Divinity, he could only work on the humanity, which, pursuant to the Divine similitude in which man was created, has but three entities — i.e., the physical, spiritual, and intellectual. When Satan had turned all the battering rams of hell against these three towers of Mansoul, and in every case suffered signal defeat, he could do nothing more than retreat from the field, crestfallen and hopelessly defeated. What a decisive contrast with his first battle against humanity in Eden, where he saved two thirds of his ammunition, Adam falling on the first assault! But now, in his campaign against Adam the Second, you see he used all of his ammunition, and lost it all. Glorious victory for you and me, and all who, through evangelical repentance and humble faith, will receive it!
JESUS GOES TO GALILEE
Matthew 4:12; Mark 1:14; & Luke 4:14. “And after that John was cast into prison, Jesus came unto Galilee.” Having entered upon His official Messiahship by purifying the temple at the Passover, and preached to the multitudes gathered on the Temple Campus during the great national feast; delivered that wonderful discourse to Nicodemus at night, the Apostle John bearing witness; and having wrought many miracles of which we have no specification; after the Passover, going out into the country north of the metropolis, He continues to preach and work miracles, His disciples baptizing the people, John the Baptist preaching in Enon near by, so that intercommunication between the audiences springs up, all observing that while Jesus is rapidly rising and magnetizing the multitudes, John is waning, — a crisis supervenes, resulting from the arrest of John the Baptist by Herod Antipas, the son of Herod the Great, and king of Galilee and Perea. Immediately after this, Jesus leaves Judea, and goes away to Galilee, apparently because of John’s arrest and imprisonment lest a similar fate shall overtake Him, and thus interfere with the work which He came to do. We see many judicious precautions adopted by Him at different times in order to prevent the interruption of His ministry till His work is done,
JESUS PREACHING IN GALILEE
John 4:43-45; Matthew 4:17; Mark 1:14-15; & Luke 4:14-15. “And after two days He went out from thence, and departed into Galilee. For Jesus Himself witnessed that a prophet has no honor in his own country.” Now what is the force of this affirmation of Jesus? You must remember that Nazareth, where He was brought up and spent the first thirty years of His life, is in Galilee. So He was denominated a “Galilean.” Having entered upon His ministry in Jerusalem by purifying the temple, and spent the eight days of the Passover preaching to the thronging multitudes, and perhaps a month following in the populous regions of Judea, His fame spreading abroad, and attracting vast multitudes to His ministry; John the Baptist, who had been the sensation about eight months, somewhat waning, while the trend of the multitude is to Jesus. The tendency of His rapidly increasing popularity is to arouse the Jews to crown Him King, which would have interfered with His ministry; whereas it was transcendently important that He should be permitted to finish His work. Consequently He leaves the populous regions of Judea, and goes away into the comparatively thinly populated country of Galilee, where they will not make so much ado over His ministry, nor be so likely to interrupt His work by precipitating His royal coronation. In addition to this fact, His nativity and residence in Galilee had conduced somewhat to render Him common, and would militate against the probability of that great popular excitement which would be likely to result in crowning Him King.
Mark: “He was preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God, and saying, That the time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God draweth nigh; repent and believe in the gospel.” Luke: “The fame went throughout all the surrounding country concerning Him, and He was teaching in their synagogues, being glorified by all.” The seventy weeks of Daniel — i.e., the four hundred and ninety years, according to the year-day system peculiar to prophetical interpretation — had already expired. The scepter had already departed from Judah; besides, there was a general fulfillment of the prophecies pointing to the coming Messiah about that time, John the Baptist, the greatest of the prophets, having not only preached Him, but pointed Him out, introducing Him to the people by baptism; while the Holy Ghost from heaven had descended on Him, and the Divine voice, from God the Father, had rung in the ears of the multitude, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” Of course, the kingdom of heaven (Matthew all the time says, “Kingdom of heaven,” and Mark, “Kingdom of God,” they being precisely synonymous) is at hand in very truth, because the King is here, and of course having the kingdom with Him; as a kingdom means a government. Hence, all the true disciples of Jesus come under His government, and become citizens of the kingdom.
While repentance was the constant, burning appeal of John the Baptist, we see that when Jesus comes, preaching the gospel, He not only preaches repentance, thus fully endorsing and corroborating John, but He preaches faith, commanding all to repent and believe the gospel. Repentance breaks the yoke of Satan, an indispensable prerequisite to their reception of Christ, as they could not serve two masters. As Luke says, “Glorified by all.” Hence we see that, as His fame went abroad into all lands, a wonderful tide of popular excitement immediately sprang up in all directions, concentrating on this wonderful Prophet of Galilee.
John 4:45. “Then, when He came into Galilee, the Galileans received Him, having seen all things which He did in Jerusalem during the feast; for they also came to the feast.” The Jews, from all parts of the world, were accustomed to gather at Jerusalem at the time of the great national festivals; e.g., the Passover in April, Pentecost fifty days afterward, and the Feast of Tabernacles in September. These Galileans, who had witnessed His miracles during the Passover (of which there is no record, this being the only allusion to them), and heard His preaching, now rally to Him from all parts of the country, stirring all the people, telling them that a wonderful Prophet, like unto Elijah and Elisha, had risen in Israel.
THE MIRACULOUS DRAUGHT OF FISHES
Luke 5:1-11. “And it came to pass, while the multitudes were pressing on Him to hear the word of God, and He was standing near the Lake Genesareth [i.e., the Sea of Galilee], and He saw two ships standing by the lake, and the fishermen having gone from them were washing their nets, and entering into one of the ships, which belonged to Simon, He requested him to shove out a little from the land, and sitting down, He was teaching the multitudes from the ship. And when He ceased speaking, He said to Simon, Lead out into the deep, and spread your nets for a draught. And Simon, responding, said to Him, Master, toiling through the whole night, we caught nothing; but at Thy word I will spread the net. And doing this, they caught a great multitude of fishes; and their net was breaking, and they beckoned to their comrades in the other ship, having come to assist them; they came, and filled both the ships, so that they were sinking. Simon Peter, seeing, fell before the knees of Jesus, said to Him, Depart from me, because I am a sinful man, Lord; because affright took hold of him, and all those who were with him, on account of the draught of fishes which they received; likewise, James and John, the sons of Zebedee, who were companions of Simon. And Jesus said to Simon, Fear not; from now you shall be catching men. And hauling their ships up on the land, leaving all, they followed Him.” Mark (Mark 1:20) says: “Immediately He called them. And leaving their father Zebedee in the ship, with the hired hands, they departed after Him.” The beautiful sea of Galilee, clear as a crystal, limpid and bright, sixteen and a half miles long, seven and a half miles wide, with seventy miles of coast, one hundred and thirty feet deep, this day abounds in a vast variety of most excellent fish. My hotel-keeper said he caught five thousand pounds at a single draught. The prophetic desolation has been on that country so long — being mainly given up to the wandering Arabs, who exhibit but little skill in fishing — they have accumulated in vast quantities, ready for the returning children of Abraham, who are fast coming back, and quite a number have recently gathered about this beautiful sea, so memorable in the history of our Lord. This scene took place near Capernaum, headquarters of our Savior and His disciples, and resulted in the call of Peter and Andrew who were brothers, sons of Jonah, and James and John, who were brothers, the sons of Zebedee and Salome. They were professional fishermen, and, as we see before, owned ships — i.e., fishing-boats — and hired hands, to serve them in their business. Hence it seems that they were doing well. While this wonderful and miraculous draught of fishes, looking like they had struck such a run of luck that they would certainly get rich quickly, was calculated so to encourage them in their business that they would certainly hold on; but grace prevails and gets the victory. They leave their ships, and their hired hands — their livelihood, and with no prospect of temporal support, relying only on the good providence of God, they forsake all and follow Jesus, who has already assured them that He will make them fishers of men. How magnificantly true! Who can count the numberless host that had been won for Jesus through the living ministry of these four apostles, and their words of steel and lightning left shining in God's blessed Book? This wonderful miracle, right on the spot where they had fished all night (a better time than the day) and caught nothing; now they catch so many that they fill both ships, and they are sinking under the intolerable quantity of large and splendid fishes — no wonder they tare overwhelmed with the realization that they are in the presence of a Superhuman Being; the very consciousness of the Almighty inundates them with reverential awe, and appalls them with the apprehension of the Divine presence and power. Consequently, Peter naturally deeply sensitive and excitable, shouts:
“Lord depart from me, because I am a sinful man.” Peter was not sanctified till Pentecost, three years subsequently; hence he is affrighted with the realization of his sinful nature. O what a happy choice did these four bright young men make when they exchanged their fishing-boats for the silver trumpet! The manner of their lives, inured to the hardships of sea and land, toiling all night, exposed to the chilly waters and the arduous, constant toil, had proved to them a most valuable gymnasium, which had developed in them an iron constitution, and eminently prepared them for the conflicts, exposures, privations, burdens, and toils of missionary life, far better than any theological curriculum they could have gone through. While intellectual culture is not to be depreciated, but continued through this life and, doubtless, coming eternity, the physical constitution and the spiritual experiences and enduements constitute the preponderant qualifications of a gospel preacher.
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!”
EVANGELISM OF JESUS
Mark 1:35-39; Luke 4:42-44. From Capernaum, His headquarters, He now radiates out through the surrounding country, accompanied by His disciples, Peter, Andrew, James, and John, going everywhere preaching the Living Word. “And He was preaching in their synagogues throughout all Galilee, and casting out demons.” We find the constant work of Jesus, in all His ministry, consisted in demoniacal ejectment in the interest of the soul, and physical healing in the interest of the body, thus gloriously fulfilling His mission as the Redeemer of mankind. Lord, help us to be true to our calling, and walk in Thy footprints! In that case we will labor incessantly in the work of both soul and body. Man is a dependency, and consequently always actuated by spiritual influence, either demoniacal or Divine. As Satan is the great deceiver, it becomes his climacteric stratagem so to delude his votaries as not only to render them unconscious of demoniacal possession, but even plunge them so deeply into infidelity that they do not believe in diabolical existence. Humanity is uniform in all ages. We see, everywhere, bodily ailments prevalent, and readily admit the need of the Healer. With the needed spiritual illumination, we would equally obviously recognize demoniacal possession on all sides, and the imperative need of the Omnipotent Ejector. The idea generally prevails that these demoniacal possessions were only peculiar to the time and place of our Savior's ministry. This is a mistake. They are everywhere, and will continue till Satan is cast out. Whereas the E.V. calls them devils, you will observe the R.V., in harmony with the original, calls them demons, “devil” being the appropriate cognomen of Satan, and a translation of the Greek diabolus; whereas, in all of these cases, where the E.V. speaks of “casting out devils,” diabolus does not occur in the original, but daimonion, “demon.” These demons are the innumerable host of evil spirits which now throng this world, all seeking a home in some human beast. Some have many of these demons, like the Gadarene; others, fewer. But all who are not dominated by the Holy Spirit, are more or less demonized.
Matthew 4:23-25. “And Jesus was going round all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every disease and every malady among the people.” The old prophets all vividly predicted the coming kingdom; John the Baptist, with stentorian voice, proclaimed its ingress; while Jesus, following him, preached the kingdom as a present reality, exhorting the people to fly thither, thus finding refuge from death and hell. During the gospel dispensation, the kingdom of God on earth is encompassed on all sides with Satanic antagonism, only becoming the asylum of the faithful few, who live in constant anticipation of the return of our glorious King, when He will cast out the enemy and conquer the world.
“And His fame went abroad into all Syria.” Whereas Galilee, which is bounded on the south by Samaria, west by the great sea, east by the Jordan, and north by Syria, was the center of our Savior's evangelistic peregrinations, and the scene of most of His mighty works.
“And they brought to Him all those who were afflicted, being possessed with various diseases and troubles;” i.e., from all parts of the surrounding country, they are now bringing the people who are afflicted with every diversity of diseases and physical ailments, and He is healing them, to the infinite joy of the poor sufferers and their friends and the ineffable glory of His ministry. “And the demonized;” i.e., the people who needed spiritual help, because they were possessed with demons, which must be cast out or they will drag them into hell. “And the lunatics.” In that day they had no lunatic asylums for the benefit of the people thus unfortunately afflicted with mental derangement, but their friends had to take care of them the best they could, or let them run at large, the terror and annoyance of the community. Doubtless many of these lunatics were epileptical. “And the paralyzed; and He healed them all.” Nervous paralysis, which is very common at the present day, as a rule, is incurable by medical skill. Here we see the Great Healer finds no stubborn cases — fevers retreat away, paralytics leap and run to tell the glorious news, lunatics and epileptics are healed in a moment by His word, while all demons, evacuating their victims, retreat before Him.
“Many multitudes followed Him from Galilee.” The whole country, from the Jordan to the sea, from Samaria to Syria, stirred as by a sweeping avalanche, rises up and follows this wonderful Nazarene. “And Decapolis.” This proper name is from deka, “ten,” and polis, “city,” and means the ten cities, with the country they represent, lying east of the Jordan and southeast of the sea of Galilee, and inhabited by Gentiles. “And Jerusalem, and Judea, and beyond the Jordan.” Almost one year of our Lord's ministry has passed away. His fame has not only spread throughout all the land of Israel, but has swept over the surrounding Gentile countries like a tornado, bringing multitudes from the ends of the earth to satisfy their curiosity, and see whether the paradoxical reports they have heard are true.
AMBITION OF JAMES AND JOHN
Matthew 20:20-28; Mark 1:35-45. “James and John, the sons of Zebedee, come to Him, saying, Teacher, we wish that You may do to us whatsoever we may ask. And He said to them, What do you wish Me to do for you? And they said to Him, Grant unto us that we may sit, the one on Thy right hand, and one on Thy left hand, in Thy glory.” Matthew says their mother, Salome, made the request for them. There is no disharmony between Matthew and Mark in this matter, as Qui facit per alium, facit per se, that old Roman law, transferred to England and then to America — “What any one does by another, he does by himself” — is not only recognized among all nations, but was so recognized by the inspired writers. At that time none of the disciples had any idea that Jesus was going to die and leave the world, but were on the constant lookout for Him to ascend the throne of Judea, and establish a kingdom, in glory eclipsing that of David and Solomon. The mother and the young men had considerable reason to believe that they would stand a good chance for the prime ministry in the coming kingdom, as He had repeatedly shown them and Peter extraordinary courtesy, permitting them to be present when He raised the daughter of Jairus from the dead, and in the glorious scene of the transfiguration. They all, however, in this matter abundantly evince their need of entire sanctification, which they all received about two months from that date, when the Pentecostal baptism fell on them, consuming all their ambition.
“Jesus said to them, You know not what you ask. Are you able to drink the cup which I drink, and to be baptized with the baptism with which I am baptized? And they said to Him, We are able. And Jesus said to them, You shall drink of the cup which I drink, and be baptized with the baptism with which I am baptized; but to sit on My right hand and on My left hand is not Mine to give, but theirs for whom it has been prepared.” Jesus here alludes to the baptism of bloody martyrdom, which then awaited Him in about eight days. Baptizo means to purify. (John 3:26, and Luke 11:38.) Jesus took on Himself the sins of the whole world, an awful mountain of dark pollution. This was all purified away when He died on the cross, thus perfecting the vicarious atonement. It is quite significant that James was the first one of the Twelve to seal his faith with his blood, John outliving all, but suffering so much toil and persecution, even miraculously delivered from the caldron of boiling oil in Rome, that he would justly rank along with his brother, pre-eminent in martyrdom.
“And the ten, hearing, began to be displeased about James and John. Jesus calling them, says to them, You know that those seeming competent to rule the Gentiles, have the dominion over them, and their great men exercise power over them. But it shall not be so among you. But whosoever shall wish to be great among you, shall be your minister; and whosoever shall wish to be first among you, shall be the servant of all. For the Son of man did not come to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give His life a ransom for many.” Our Savior here elucidates the difference between His kingdom and the secular governments, as in the latter there is such a thing as official emolument, remuneration, aggrandizement, and honor; whereas in the former the whole trend of the matter is diametrically opposite, the officer being a waiter, administering to the interest of others; and the chief officer actually being the servant of all the members of the kingdom, having the most laborious place, constantly encumbered with toil and labor in the interest of others, — a grand spiritual truth, so little understood and realized by the people, and even Church officials, who are prone to look upon ecclesiastical offices in the light of the secular. Here we have a deep and comprehensive signification in our Savior’s statement, “To give His life a ransom for many.” Did He not die for all? He certainly did. Then why did He not in this passage say, “Give His life a ransom for all,” instead of “many?” N. B. — “All” has an objective signification, while “many” is used subjectively. Now what is the difference? “All” means the whole human race, for whom Jesus died objectively; while “many” means the elect, in the broad sense, including every human being, of all ages and nations, who, in the infinite mercy and goodness of God, may, in some way, effect an entrance into heaven at last.
Matthew 13:2-4; Mark 1:40-45; & Luke 5:12-16. Mark: “And a leper comes to Him, calling upon Him, and kneeling down before Him, and saying to Him, If You may wish, You are able to cleanse me. And Jesus being moved with compassion, and reaching forth His hand, touched him, and says to him, I am willing; be thou cleansed.” The Greek for “be thou cleansed,” is katristheti, which is in the imperative mode, passive voice, and aorist tense. Therefore it literally means, “Be thou completely cleansed instantaneously;” “Be thou clean,” E.V., is too weak a translation of the word our Savior spoke.
Luke says this man was “full of leprosy,” in contradistinction to a case of leprosy occupying a part of the body. No wonder he was exceedingly importunate, as he was leprous all over.
“And charging him, He immediately sent him away, and says to him, See that you tell nothing to any one; but go, show thyself to the priest, and offer for thy cleansing those things which Moses commanded for a testimony unto them.” The lepers in Palestine still have their separate quarters in the cities, dwelling to themselves, as in the days of Christ. I met them at Shechem and at Jerusalem. The popular idea that the separation is because of the contagion of the disease is utterly incorrect. It is not contagious. If it were, what would become of the priests, who, in the discharge of their official duties, are in constant contact with it? See the law of the leper (Leviticus 14), and you will find that when the priest made the examination, and pronounced it leprosy, the victim must go away from society, and live in the leprous quarters. It was well understood among the Jews that leprosy was utterly incurable by human agency. Hence when God, the only Healer, had mercy on the poor leper, he must go to the priest, submit to his diagnosis, and receive from him a certificate of healing, before he was allowed to go into society. While leprosy is not contagious, and not so understood where it is prevalent this day — as I came in contact with them, laying a coin on each arm reached forth in supplication, both hands having been eaten off by leprosy — yet it is incorrigibly hereditary, from the fact that, like scrofula, it is a blood trouble, affecting every corpuscle of blood in the system, so that it is invariably transmitted to the succeeding generation. Leprosy is a most vivid emblem of inbred sin, which is not necessarily contagious, but inevitably hereditary. Infants born of leprous parents are bright and sprightly, exhibiting no signs of the disease. Yet, soon or late, it is certain to make its appearance, if they do not meet the Healer. So infants born into the world have no actual sin, but have inherited the sinward tendency, which, if not eradicated by grace, will certainly develop into actual transgression. The bite of the rattlesnake when a little thing, soon after evacuating the egg, will not hurt you. But the time will come when he will poison and kill you. While the leprous taint in the blood emblematizes inbred sin in the irresponsible infant, the eruptions on the body represent actual transgressions. e what a striking symbol, not only of inbred sin, but the awful spiritual death which supervenes! You have leprosy in your blood, and feel vigorous and healthy. Before you are aware, it develops on your finger and it drops off; continues its work of destruction till your hand drops off at the wrist. It begins on your face; takes away your nose, and then an eye; reaches your brain, and, fortunately, death comes suddenly to your relief. The reason why the law of Moses required them to live separate was because of the awful loathsomeness of the disease indescribable, horrific, living death! Leprosy, fortunately for us, is not common in America, though I have seen cases of it; but quite common in the Bible lands, where I met them during both of my tours, thus, like everything else in those countries, so wonderfully corroborating the Bible.
“And He, having gone out, began to proclaim everything, and spread abroad the history, so that He was no longer able to come publicly into the city; but was off in desert places, and they continued to come to Him from all parts.” Luke: “But He was away in the deserts, and praying.” Why was Jesus so much opposed to their publishing His mighty works, and why could He not come into the city at this time, but must hide away in the deserts — i.e., in an uninhabited region of country? From time immemorial, the Jews had all understood that Christ was to be their King. At that time the nation was in deep distress, because thirty years had elapsed since the death of Herod the Great, and during which they had no king, but had been reduced to a Roman province, and were ruled by a proconsul sent out from Rome, thus their liberties gone and their people subject to the Gentiles. Hence, throughout the Hebrew nation, there was a deep sigh, and a perpetual cry to God to break the Roman yoke, restore to them their independence, and give them a king of Hebrew blood to reign over them. These wonderful miracles, when published abroad, raised the people on tiptoe to crown Him King of the Jews. In that case the Roman authorities would have killed Him before He had completed the work He Came to do.
Hence, in order to prevent His own coronation, and the sudden outbreak of a terrible, bloody war, which would have interrupted His ministry and expedited His death, He found it necessary to avoid the multitude. These intervals, which He spent off in the desert in communion with His Father, were wonderful times of refreshing to His spirit, and invigoration for the arduous work and terrible ordeals which awaited him.
Sunday, March 26th, 2017
the Fourth Sunday of Lent
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