Click here to learn more!
Verse-by-Verse Bible Commentary
New American Standard Version
Bible Study Resources
Nave's Topical Bible - Decalogue; Deception; Duty; Immortality; Jesus, the Christ; Lawyer; Love; Neighbor; Readings, Select; Self-Righteousness; Works; Scofield Reference Index - Life; Thompson Chain Reference - Lawyers; Tried, Christ; The Topic Concordance - Commandment; Eternal Life; Inheritance; Law; Life; Love; Torrey's Topical Textbook - Self-Righteousness; Temptation;
Verse 25. A certain lawyer — Matthew 24:35; Matthew 24:35.
These files are public domain.
Clarke, Adam. "Commentary on Luke 10:25". "The Adam Clarke Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/acc/luke-10.html. 1832.
83. Who is my neighbour? (Luke 10:25-37)
A Jewish teacher of the law came to Jesus to test him with a question about eternal life. His question showed that he thought of eternal life as something to be obtained by some special act. Jesus’ reply showed that obtaining eternal life is inseparably linked with the way people live their daily lives. If they do not put God before all things and their neighbour before themselves, they can have no assurance of eternal life (Luke 10:25-28).
The teacher was disappointed with this answer and, in an attempt to excuse his own failings, asked how anyone could know who was or was not his neighbour (Luke 10:29). In reply Jesus told a story in which a traveller was beaten, robbed, and left to die. Two Jews, one a priest and the other a Levite, deliberately passed him by, but a Samaritan stopped and helped him (Luke 10:30-35). Jesus then forced the questioner to answer his own question. The example that he had to follow was not that of the religious purists, but that of the despised foreigner. If a person loves his neighbour as himself, he will act kindly towards anyone that he happens to meet, even enemies (Luke 10:36-37).
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Flemming, Donald C. "Commentary on Luke 10:25". "Fleming's Bridgeway Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bbc/luke-10.html. 2005.
And behold, a certain lawyer stood up and made trial of him, saying Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?
THE GOOD SAMARITAN
Trench held that "We may not ascribe to this lawyer any malicious intentions," basing his argument upon the revelation that another lawyer, also described as TEMPTING Christ, nevertheless received encouraging words, "Thou art not far from the kingdom of God" (Mark 12:34).
What shall I do to inherit eternal life ... It is erroneous to deny that Jesus answered this question; because the ensuing conversation shows that, when requested to answer his own question, the lawyer accurately did so, Jesus receiving his answer as true, thus confirming it.
Coffman's Commentaries reproduced by permission of Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. All other rights reserved.
Coffman, James Burton. "Commentary on Luke 10:25". "Coffman's Commentaries on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bcc/luke-10.html. Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. 1983-1999.
A certain lawyer - One who professed to be well skilled in the laws of Moses, and whose business it was to explain them.
Stood up - Rose - came forward to address him.
Tempted him - Feigned a desire to be instructed, but did it to perplex him, or to lead him, if possible, to contradict some of the maxims of the law.
Inherit eternal life - Be saved. This was the common inquiry among the Jews. “They” had said that man must keep the commandments - the written and oral law.
These files are public domain.
Barnes, Albert. "Commentary on Luke 10:25". "Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bnb/luke-10.html. 1870.
Now in chapter 10, we read of this commissioning in the sending forth of the seventy, in the contrast to the twelve of chapter 9.
After these things ( Luke 10:1 )
Now He is on His way towards Jerusalem.
and the Lord appointed another seventy also, and he sent them two by two before him into every city and place, where he himself would come ( Luke 10:1 ).
So they were to go as advance teams in the villages that He would be passing through, as He is on His way to Jerusalem.
And therefore he said unto them, The harvest truly is great, but the laborers are few: pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he would sent forth laborers into his harvest. Now go your ways: and behold, I sent you forth as lambs among wolves. Don't carry a purse, nor scrip, nor shoes: nor greet any man in the way. And into whatsoever house you enter, first say, Peace [or shalom] be to this house. And if the son of peace be there, your peace shall rest upon it: and if not, it shall turn to you again. And in the same house remain, eating and drinking the things that they give: for the laborer is worthy of his hire. And just don't go from house to house ( Luke 10:2-7 ).
Remain in the house, and eat and drink what they give you. The laborer is worthy of his hire.
And whatsoever city you enter, and they receive you, eat the things that are set before you: and heal the sick that are there, and say to them, The kingdom of God is come near unto you ( Luke 10:8-9 ).
They were advanced messengers to go before Him, to do His work. The work of the kingdom, and the healing of the sick, and the proclaiming of God's good news to men.
And whatsoever city you enter, if they receive you not, go your way out into the streets of the same city, and say, Even the very dust of your city, which cleaves on us, we do wipe off against you: notwithstanding, be sure of this, that the kingdom of God is come near to you ( Luke 10:10-11 ).
There are people who have come near to the kingdom of God and have never entered in, and that is always to be a tragic thing. That Herod Agrippa should say to Paul, "Almost thou persuadeth me to become a Christian." He came near to the kingdom of God, but He didn't enter.
And the Lord said, "If they don't receive you, just go out into the street, dust off your shoes in front of them, and say, 'We dust off the dust of the city that it might remain, but know this, the kingdom of God came near to you.'"
And I say unto you, that it shall be more tolerable in that day [that is, the day of judgement that is to come] for Sodom, than for that city ( Luke 10:12 ).
The sin against light is the greatest sin that man can commit. God holds us responsible for the knowledge that we have. God does not hold a man responsible for knowledge that he does not have. To whom much is given, much is required. To whom little is given, little is required. God is fair in judgement.
Now for this city, it would be more tolerable than Sodom, because the kingdom of God came near. They had the exposure, but they did not enter in. And thus, for that city it would be more tolerable for Sodom than for that city, because Sodom did not have the same exposure to the truth.
Woe unto thee, Chorazin! woe unto thee Bethsaida! ( Luke 10:13 )
These are two cities around the Sea of Galilee where Jesus had ministered, where His light did come, who rejected that light. They rejected the kingdom.
for if the mighty works that had been done in Tyre and Sidon, which were done in you, they had a great while ago repented, sitting in sackcloth and ashes ( Luke 10:13 ).
Instead of being destroyed by subsequent nations of Nebuchadnezzar and Alexander the Great. But it will more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon at the judgment than for you.
Interestingly enough, the cities of Chorazin and Bethsaida are both totally obliterated. In another denunciation Jesus also said, "Woe unto thee Capernaum." It also was obliterated. They just recently in the last view years even found the sight of Bethsaida. It was so totally obliterated. Woe unto you, and judgement surely came upon the Bethsaida, on Chorazin, upon Capernaum.
And thou, Capernaum, which are exalted to heaven, shall be thrust down to hell. He that heareth you ( Luke 10:15-16 )
Now He is talking to His disciples, still commissioning them as they are going.
He that hears you hears me; he that despises you despises me; and he that despises me despises the one that sent me ( Luke 10:16 ).
Now this is true for everyone that the Lord commissions to go out and do His work. If the person hates you, you should not take that personally. They only hate you because of the one that you represent. Because you are a representative of Jesus Christ, they actually hate Him, and thus, they vent their hatred of Him upon you. But if they hate Him, then they hate God. They hate the one that has sent Him.
"Now he that hears you hears me. He that despises you despises me." We are so identified with the One who has sent us.
And the seventy returned again with joy ( Luke 10:17 ),
He had sent them out in advance, and now they were coming back, and they said, "Lord, it was neat."
even the devils were subject unto us through thy name ( Luke 10:17 ).
In the name of Jesus we have authority of power over the demon spirits.
And he said unto them, I beheld Satan as lightning fall from heaven. Behold, I give unto you power to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy ( Luke 10:18-19 ):
God help us, let that sink into your heart. You as a child of the kingdom, the power that God has made available to us, over all the power of the enemy. That's why Martin Luther wrote, "The prince of darkness grim, we tremble not at him, one little word will fell him." That name, or that word above all words, the name, the power of the name of Jesus. And yet, we see the church so often trembling before the forces of darkness. We need not to tremble. The Lord has given us authority and power over every power over the enemy. But it's time that we start exercising this power and using it.
and nothing shall by any means hurt you ( Luke 10:19 ).
You remember when Paul was there cast up on the shore after the shipwreck, and they were building the fire, and this poisonous viper fastened on Paul, and the natives said, "Wow, he must be a murderer, or something, because even though he escaped the storm, the god's aren't going to let him live." And Paul just shook the thing off into the fire. And they kept watching him, because they knew that he should soon go into convulsions and die. And as he just kept sitting there, warming himself, talking and all, then they changed their mind, they said, "He must be a god. Nothing will hurt you."
I think that until God is through with us, that not much can happen to us. I really feel that God has a purpose for my life, and until that purpose is complete, God is going to preserve me. Now I don't go out and just live recklessly, and drive one hundred miles an hour down the freeway, saying, "Oh God has got a purpose, nothing can happen to me, nothing can hurt me, until God's purposes are fulfilled." That's stupid. God also gave us brains and prudence. But I do feel that there is sort of a divine protection over a person who is walking according to the purposes of God, and that nothing can happen to you until your purpose is fulfilled.
In the book of Revelation it tells us about the two witnesses whom God sends to bear witness during the time of the great tribulation, and it said, "And when the days of their testimony were complete, the antichrist had power over them to slay them." He didn't have that power until their days were complete.
I feel that until the days of my testimony and witness are complete, that I am sort of indestructible. That God is going to keep me, God is going to preserve me until His purposes are fulfilled. And the minute the purposes of God are fulfilled, and I have finished my testimony, I believe God is going to be gracious, and good to me, and take me home immediately. The minute He is through with my witness here upon the earth. Why would He want to leave me here any longer once I have finished those purposes. So I have that confidence. My life is in God's hands, and until His purposes are complete, I am going to be around. Not necessarily around here. I don't know that God wants me to always be around here. It would appear that way right now, but who knows. I don't know, I live from day to day. And you see, I am not my own to say where I am going to preach, or in what manner, or whatever. I am His servant. And as His servant I have to wait upon Him for instructions. And He is the one who guides me. And He has a plan and a purpose, and He is working in me to prepare me for those works that He wants me to do for Him. And when they are finished, I am going home.
So Jesus said that I have given you power over all the power of the enemy. Nothing shall by any means hurt you.
Oh interesting, because the twelve apostles, with the exception of John and Judas, were all martyred. Some of them in very vicious ways for their witness of Jesus Christ. But not until they finished their testimony.
Now Herod stretched forth his hand against the church, and he beheaded James, one of these that Jesus was talking to. And when Herod saw that it pleased the Jews, he had Peter thrown in prison intending to bring him forth on the next day, and no doubt to execute him. But that night an angel of the Lord came to Peter in prison, and woke him up, and said, "Peter, put your sandals on, let's get out of here." And Peter followed the angel as the doors automatically opened in front of them, and closed behind them. And Peter walked right out of the prison. And when he was out on the street, the angel left him. And Peter said, "I guess it isn't a dream, it's real, I am out, wow." And he headed for the house of John Mark's mother, where the church was having a prayer meeting. Praying that the Lord would help poor Peter in prison. And he knocked on the door, and the young girl came to the door and she said, "Who is it?" He said, "It's Peter." And she got so excited, she didn't even unlock the door. She ran back and told those who were praying, "Oh God help poor Peter. Peter is at the door." And they said, "Oh, you've seen a ghost."
Don't tell me it was their prayer of faith that released Peter. It was God's sovereign work. God wasn't through with Peter yet. Yet there came a day when God was through with Peter's witness, and Peter, when they came to execute him, said, "Fellows, please do me one favor." They said, "What is it?" He said, "Well, you're going to crucify me, but don't crucify me in an upright position. I am not worthy of that. That's the way my Lord was crucified. Crucify me upside down." And so Peter was crucified upside down. But not until he had finished his testimony. God will preserve you. Nothing will hurt you. He's got a purpose and a plan for your life.
But Jesus said:
You rejoice in that the devils are subjects to you ( Luke 10:20 );
Don't rejoice in this, not that the spirits are subjects unto you. Don't rejoice in the phenomena. Don't get all excited over the phenomena that you see.
but rather rejoice, because your names are written in heaven ( Luke 10:20 ).
If you want to rejoice over something, rejoice over the fact that, hey, you're a citizen of the kingdom. Your name is written on the rolls of the heavenly kingdom. That's what you need to rejoice in.
And in that hour Jesus rejoiced in the spirit ( Luke 10:21 ),
Now that's an interesting phrase. He rejoiced in the spirit. Have you ever rejoiced in the spirit? It's an exciting experience to rejoice in the spirit. When God's Spirit is moving upon your heart, and just to be rejoicing in the spirit. It's a beautiful experience.
And Jesus rejoiced in the spirit,
and said, I thank you, Father, the Lord of heaven and earth, that you have hid these things from the wise and the prudent, and you revealed them unto these babes: even so, Father; for it was good in your sight ( Luke 10:21 ).
Jesus is looking at these simple people. He sees their excitement, as they are saying, "Oh Lord, it was glorious. O, we had such a neat time, the devils were subject to us, and we were doing this . . . oh, you should have seen that, and all." And the Lord will say, "Oh, that's good, but don't rejoice really in these things, rejoice that your name is written in heaven. You're part of the kingdom." And then He just says, "Oh, it's so beautiful, see these simple people," they weren't the Pharisees, they weren't the rulers. They were just plain, simple people. And He says, "Oh Father, it's so great that You hid these things from those self-important people. You've revealed them unto these babes, because it seemed good to You."
I am glad that I am just a simple person. God is so good to make me just a simple person. I hate complexities.
I had a lady in my church one time that use to call me up and say, "Now Pastor Smith, the other day when you said, good morning, what did you really mean by that?" When I say, good morning, I mean, good morning. I don't mean anything else. I don't have hidden meanings. I don't try to use subtleties, and complexities, and hide the true meaning. I say what I mean, and I mean what I say. I am not smart enough to speak in these subtle kind of things, and say one thing, and really mean another. You can't really know what I mean, until you discern it, and study it, and find the hidden meaning in what I said. I am not that way. Jesus wasn't that way. And it's tragic that a lot of people try to make Jesus that way in their interpreting of the scripture.
Now what did Jesus really mean by this? And then they get into the spiritualizing of the scripture, where they lose the sense of it all. Because Jesus meant what He said. And He said what He meant. And you can just believe it, and trust it.
"Father, I thank You, that You've hid these things from those big shots, and You've just revealed them to these babes, so it seemed good in Your sight."
And then He said:
All things are delivered to me of my Father ( Luke 10:22 ):
Quite a statement, isn't it?
All things are delivered to me of my Father: and no man knows who the Son is, but the Father; and who the Father is, but the Son, and he to whom the Son will reveal him ( Luke 10:22 ).
No one really knows who God really is, except those to whom Jesus has revealed the truth of the Father to. No man can come to the Father, except he is drawn. So if you have been drawn to God through Jesus Christ, be thankful, because unless there was that work of God's Spirit in your life, you would have never made it.
And he turned again to his disciples, and said privately, Blessed are the eyes which see the things that you see ( Luke 10:23 ):
How blessed it is for a person to see, to understand the things that you see. To have the same understanding. To perceive these things.
And I tell you, that many prophets and kings have desired to see the things which you see, but they didn't see them; and to hear those things which you hear, but they have not heard them ( Luke 10:24 ).
Many important people would give everything to have what you have, in that glorious relationship with God, through Jesus Christ.
"Oh," He said, "you're blessed that you have seen these things."
Now, there was a certain lawyer who stood up, tempted him, saying, Master, what shall I do to inherit eternal life? And Jesus said unto him, What is written in the law? how do you understand it? And he answered saying, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, with all thy soul, with all thy strength, with all thy mind; and thy neighbor as thyself. And Jesus said, That's correct: do it, and you'll live. [But he wasn't satisfied.] He was wanting to justify himself in front of the others, and he said, Well, who is my neighbor? And Jesus said, There was a certain man who went down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and he fell among thieves, which stripped him of his clothes, and wounded him, and departed, leaving him half dead. And by chance there came down a certain priest: and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side. And likewise also a Levite was at that place, and he came and looked at him, and he passed by on the other side. But a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came where he was: and he saw him, and he had compassion on him, and he went to him, and bound up his wounds, pouring oil in and wine, and he set him on his own beast, and he brought him to an inn, and took care of him. And on the next day, when he was leaving, he took out two pence, and he gave it to the host, and he said to him, Take care of him: and whatsoever you spend more than this, when I come again I will repay you. Now which of these three, do you think, was his neighbor to the man who fell among the thieves? And he said unto him, The one who showed mercy on him. And Jesus said unto him, Go and do likewise ( Luke 10:25-37 ).
Who is your neighbor? Whoever is in need. Love your neighbor as yourself. Who is my neighbor? The man who is in need.
Now, of course, suddenly Jesus is again making an outsider the hero of the story. You see the priest and the Levite do nothing in all of their self-righteousness, they do nothing. Who is the one that helps him? A hated Samaritan. He becomes the hero in the story. The one that they have such strong, racial prejudice against, is the one that Jesus lifts up in the hero's role, knowing good, and well that it would irritate them. But He didn't care.
Now it came to pass ( Luke 10:38 ),
That's an interesting phrase, Luke uses it over and over again. Have you noticed that whenever he introduces a new little scene, he usually introduces it with the phrase, "and it came to pass"? One of Luke's special little phrases.
Now it came to pass, as they went, that he entered into a certain village: and a certain woman name Martha received him in to her house. And she had a sister called Mary, which also sat at Jesus' feet, listening to his words ( Luke 10:38-39 ).
Now we know from other gospels that this is Mary and Martha, who lived in Bethany with their brother Lazarus. So Luke doesn't identify this village, nor does he identify the sisters anymore than Mary and Martha, but we know from other accounts that it is Mary and Martha from the city of Bethany, the sisters of Lazarus.
And Martha was cumbered about with much serving. Now the big crowd came in. Jesus you remember traveled with a lot of people. And here were at least seventy traveling with Him, because He sent them out two by two, to go into the villages ahead of Him. So imagine this crowd coming in for lunch.
And Martha was cumbered with much serving [and frantic], she came to him, and said, Lord, don't you care that my sister is left me to serve alone? order her to help me. And Jesus answered and said unto her, Oh Martha, Martha, you are so full of care and troubled about many things: But one thing is needful: and Mary has chosen that good part, which will not be taken away from her ( Luke 10:40-42 ).
What was it? Sitting at the feet of Jesus and learning. You know, so often we get so concerned about our serving God. And we get so busy in activities. And we get so worried, and encumbered in our service for God, that we forget the better part of just sitting at the feet of Jesus and learning. God help us, that we don't fall into that trap of over-involvement in service, to the extent where we don't have time to just sit and worship at His feet as we learn of Him.
Next week we'll go on to chapters 11 and 12.
May the Lord be with you. May the Lord bless you. May the good hand of our Lord be upon your life. May you experience that power in your life. And may you experience the rejoicing in the Spirit, and above all, may you have that joy of just sitting at His feet to learning to worship rather than being encumbered about, and full of care and troubled about what I'm going to get Aunt Jane and Uncle Charlie. It's an easy time of the year to be a Martha. You better take time to be a Mary, because you never can be a good Martha until you learn to be a good Mary sitting at the feet of Jesus. May that be your joy, your strength, your delight this week. In Jesus' name. "
Copyright © 2014, Calvary Chapel of Costa Mesa, Ca.
Smith, Charles Ward. "Commentary on Luke 10:25". "Smith's Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/csc/luke-10.html. 2014.
Lawyers (scribes) were experts in the Mosaic Law. The Greek word translated "test" (ekpeirazon) does not necessarily imply hostility (cf. Luke 4:12). The man simply could have been wanting Jesus’ opinion. He addressed Jesus as a teacher or rabbi. This title tells us nothing about his motivation, only that He viewed Jesus as less than a prophet, the Messiah, or God. He assumed that people had to do something to obtain eternal life (cf. Luke 18:18). The term "inherit" had a particular significance for Jewish readers distinguishing a special way of receiving eternal life (cf. Matthew 5:5; Matthew 19:29; Matthew 25:34). However, Gentiles readers for whom Luke wrote would have regarded it as synonymous with obtaining eternal life (cf. Mark 10:17). Eternal life is the equivalent of spiritual salvation and included entrance into the messianic kingdom.
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
The lawyer’s question and Jesus’ answer 10:25-29
The incident that Mark recorded in Mark 12:28-34 is quite similar to this one, but the differences in the accounts point to two separate situations. In view of the question at stake it is easy to see how people might have asked it of Jesus many different times. Furthermore this particular question was of great concern to the scribes, who studied the law professionally. The fact that the Holy Spirit recorded the same lesson twice in Scripture is a testimony to His greatness as a teacher since great teachers deliberately repeat themselves.
". . . in the first century A.D. in Palestine the only way of publishing great thoughts was to go on repeating them in talk or sermons." [Note: T. W. Manson, The Sayings of Jesus, p. 260.]
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
1. The relation of disciples to their neighbors 10:25-37
The question that a lawyer put to Jesus provided the opportunity for this lesson. Jesus answered it but then followed up His answer with a parable that was the climax of His teaching on the subject. The parable amplified the second great commandment (Luke 10:27). The teaching that followed the parable (Luke 10:38 to Luke 11:13), while not addressed to the lawyer, expounded the first great commandment (Luke 10:27). The present section also reminds the reader of Jesus’ allegiance to the Old Testament Scriptures, which He viewed as authoritative. Thus it balances Jesus’ former words about Him revealing the Father (Luke 10:22) with the importance of Scripture in that process.
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
LABOURERS FOR THE HARVEST ( Luke 10:1-16 )
10:1-16 After these things the Lord appointed other seventy men and sent them out in twos ahead of him into every town and place where he intended to go. "The harvest is great," he said to them, "but the workers are few. Pray then the Lord of the harvest to send out workers for the harvest. Go! Look you--I am sending you out as sheep in the midst of wolves. Do not take a purse or a wallet or sandals. Greet no one on the road. Into whatever house you go, say first of all, 'Peace to this house!' If it is a son of peace who lives there your peace will remain upon it; but if not it will return to you. Remain in the same house eating and drinking whatever they give you; for the workman deserves his pay. Do not go from house to house. If you go into any town and they receive you, eat what is put before you. Heal those in it who are ill, and keep saying to them, 'The kingdom of God has come near you!' If you go into any town and they do not receive you, go out into its streets and say, 'The very dust which clings to our feet from this town, we wipe off against you. But realize this--the kingdom of God has come near you!' I tell you, things will be easier for Sodom in that day than for that town. Woe to you Chorazin! Woe to you Bethsaida! For if the mighty works which have been done in you had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would long ago have sat in dust and ashes and repented. But at the judgment things will be easier for Tyre and Sidon than for you. And you Capernaum--will you be exalted to heaven? You will be cast down to hell. He who listens to you, listens to me; and he who sets no value on you, sets no value on me; and he who sets no value on me, sets no value on him that sent me."
This passage describes a wider mission than the first mission of the Twelve.
The number seventy was to the Jews symbolic.
(a) It was the number of the elders who were chosen to help Moses with the task of leading and directing the people in the wilderness ( Numbers 11:16-17; Numbers 11:24-25).
(b) It was the number of the Sanhedrin, the supreme council of the Jews. If we relate the Seventy to either of these bodies they will be the helpers of Jesus.
(c) It was held to be the number of nations in the world. Luke was the man with the universalist view and it may well be that he was thinking of the day when every nation in the world would know and love his Lord.
There is an interesting sidelight here. One of the towns on which woe is pronounced is Chorazin. It is implied that Jesus did many mighty works there. In the gospel history as we have it Chorazin is never even mentioned, and we do not know one thing that Jesus did or one word that he spoke there. Nothing could show so vividly how much we do not know about the life of Jesus. The gospels are not biographies; they are only sketches of his life (compare John 21:25).
This passage tells us certain supremely important things about both the preacher and the hearer.
(i) The preacher is not to be cluttered up with material things; he is to travel light. It is easy to get entangled in the things of this life. Once Dr. Johnson, after seeing through a great castle and its policies, remarked grimly, "These are the things which make it difficult to die." Earth must never blot out heaven.
(ii) The preacher is to concentrate on his task; he is to greet no man on the way. This goes back to Elisha's instruction to Gehazi in 2 Kings 4:29. It is not an instruction to discourtesy; but means that the man of God must not turn aside or linger on the lesser things while the great things call him.
(iii) The preacher must not be in the work for what he can get out of it; he is to eat what is put before him and must not move from house to house seeking better and more comfortable quarters. It was not long before the church had its spongers. There is a work called The Teaching of the Twelve Apostles. It was written about A.D. 100, and is the church's first book of order. In those days there were prophets who wandered from town to town. It is laid down that if a prophet wishes to stay in a place for more than three days without working he is a false prophet; and if a prophet in the Spirit asks for money or a meal he is a false prophet! The labourer is worthy of his hire, but the servant of a crucified Master cannot be a seeker for luxury.
(iv) To have heard God's word is a great responsibility. A man will be judged according to what he has had the chance to know. We allow things in a child we condemn in an adult; we forgive things in a savage we punish in a civilized man. Responsibility is the other side of privilege.
(v) It is a terrible thing to reject God's invitation. There is a sense in which every promise of God that a man has ever heard can become his condemnation. If he receives these promises they are his greatest glory, but each one that he has rejected will some day be a witness against him.
A MAN'S TRUE GLORY ( Luke 10:17-20 )
10:17-20 The Seventy returned with joy. "Lord," they said, "at your name the demons are subject to us." He said to them, "I saw Satan fall like lightning from Heaven. Look you--I have given you authority to walk upon snakes and scorpions and over all the power of the Enemy. Nothing will hurt you. But do not rejoice in this--that the spirits are subject to you; but rejoice that your names are written in heaven."
When the Seventy returned they were radiant with the triumphs which they had wrought in the name of Jesus. Jesus said to them, "I saw Satan fall like lightning from Heaven." That is a difficult phrase to understand. It can have two meanings.
(i) It may mean, "I saw the forces of darkness and evil defeated; the citadel of Satan is stormed and the kingdom of God is on the way." It may mean that Jesus knew that the deathblow to Satan and all his powers had been struck, however long his final conquest might be delayed.
(ii) Equally well it may be a warning against pride. The legend was that it was for a pride which rebelled against God that Satan was cast out of heaven where once he had been the chief of the angels. It may be that Jesus was saying to the Seventy, "You have had your triumphs; keep yourselves from pride, for once the chief of all the angels fell to pride and was cast from heaven."
Certainly Jesus went on to warn his disciples against pride and over-confidence. It was true that they were given all power, but their greatest glory was that their names were written in heaven.
It will always remain true that a man's greatest glory is not what he has done but what God has done for him. It might well be claimed that the discovery of the use of chloroform saved the world more pain than any other single medical discovery. Once someone asked Sir James Simpson, who pioneered its use, "What do you regard as your greatest discovery?" expecting the answer, "Chloroform." But Simpson answered, "My greatest discovery was that Jesus Christ is my Saviour."
Even the greatest man can say in the presence of God only,
"Nothing in my hand I bring,
Simply to thy Cross I cling;
Naked, come to thee for dress;
Helpless, look to thee for grace;
Foul, I to the fountain fly;
Wash me, Saviour, or I die."
Pride bars from heaven; humility is the passport to the presence of God.
THE UNSURPASSABLE CLAIM ( Luke 10:21-24 )
10:21-24 At that time Jesus rejoiced in the Holy Spirit. "I thank you, O Father, Lord of Heaven and earth," he said, "that you have hidden these things from the wise and clever and that you have revealed them to babes. Yes, O Father, for so it was your good pleasure in your sight. AH things have been handed over to me by my Father. No one knows who the Son is except the Father; and no one knows who the Father is except the Son, and he to whom the Son wishes to reveal him." He turned to his disciples when they were in private and said, "Happy are the eyes which see the things which you are seeing for I tell you that many prophets and kings desired to see the things that you are seeing and did not see them, and to hear the things that you are hearing and did not hear them."
There are three great thoughts in this passage.
(i) Luke 10:21 tells us of the wisdom of simplicity. The simple mind could receive truths that learned minds could not take in. Once Arnold Bennett said, "The only way to write a great book is to write it with the eyes of a child who sees things for the first time." It is possible to be too clever. It is possible to be so learned that in the end we cannot see the wood for the trees. Someone has said that the test of a really great scholar is how much he is able to forget. After all, Christianity does not mean knowing all the theories about the New Testament; still less does it mean knowing all the theologies and the Christologies. Christianity does not mean knowing about Christ, it means knowing Christ; and to do that requires not earthly wisdom but heavenly grace.
(ii) Luke 10:22 tells of the unique relationship between Jesus and God. This is what the Fourth Gospel means when it says, "The Word became flesh" ( John 1:14), or when it makes Jesus say, "I and the Father are one," or, "He who has seen me has seen the Father" ( John 10:30; John 14:9). To the Greeks God was unknowable. There was a great gulf fixed between matter and spirit, man and God. "It is very difficult," they said, "to know God, and when you do know him it is impossible to tell anyone else about him." But when Jesus came he said, "If you want to know what God is like, look at me." Jesus did not so much tell men about God as show them God, because in himself were God's mind and heart.
(iii) Luke 10:23-24 tell us that Jesus is the consummation of all history. In these verses Jesus said, "I am the One to whom all the prophets and the saints and the kings looked forward and for whom they longed." This is what Matthew means when over and over again in his gospel he wrote, "This was done that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet saying . . ." (compare Matthew 2:15; Matthew 2:17; Matthew 2:23). Jesus was the peak to which history had been climbing, the goal to which it had been marching, the dream which had ever haunted men of God. If we desire to express this in terms of modern thought we might dare to put it this way. We believe in evolution, the slow climb upwards of man from the level of the beasts. Jesus is the end and climax of the evolutionary process because in him man meets God; and he is at once the perfection of manhood and the fulness of godhead.
WHO IS MY NEIGHBOUR? ( Luke 10:25-37 )
10:25-37 Look you--an expert in the law stood up and asked Jesus a test question. "Teacher," he said, "What is it I am to do to become the possessor of eternal life?" He said to him, "What stands written in the law? How do you read?" He answered, "You must love the Lord your God with your whole heart, and with your whole mind, and your neighbour as yourself." "Your answer is correct," said Jesus. But he, wishing to put himself in the right, said to Jesus, "And who is my neighbour?" Jesus answered, "There was a man who went down from Jerusalem to Jericho. He fell amongst brigands who stripped him and laid blows upon him, and went away and left him half-dead. Now, by chance, a priest came down by that road. He looked at him and passed by on the other side. In the same way when a Levite came to the place he looked at him and passed by on the other side. A Samaritan who was on the road came to where he was. He looked at him and was moved to the depths of his being with pity. So he came up to him and bound up his wounds, pouring in wine and oil; and he put him on his own beast and brought him to an inn and cared for him. On the next day he put down 10p and gave it to the innkeeper. 'Look after him,' he said, 'and whatever more you are out of pocket, when I come back this way, I'll square up with you in full.' Which of these three, do you think, was neighbour to the man who fell into the hands of brigands?" He said, "He who showed mercy on him." "Go," said Jesus to him, "and do likewise."
First, let us look at the scene of this story. The road from Jerusalem to Jericho was a notoriously dangerous road. Jerusalem is 2,300 feet above sea-level; the Dead Sea, near which Jericho stood, is 1,300 feet below sea-level. So then, in somewhat less than 20 miles, this road dropped 3,600 feet. It was a road of narrow, rocky deifies, and of sudden turnings which made it the happy hunting-ground of brigands. In the fifth century Jerome tells us that it was still called "The Red, or Bloody Way." In the 19th century it was still necessary to pay safety money to the local Sheiks before one could travel on it. As late as the early 1930's, H. V. Morton tells us that he was warned to get home before dark, if he intended to use the road, because a certain Abu Jildah was an adept at holding up cars and robbing travellers and tourists, and escaping to the hills before the police could arrive. When Jesus told this story, he was telling about the kind of thing that was constantly happening on the Jerusalem to Jericho road.
Second, let us look at the characters.
(a) There was the traveller. He was obviously a reckless and foolhardy character. People seldom attempted the Jerusalem to Jericho road alone if they were carrying goods or valuables. Seeking safety in numbers, they travelled in convoys or caravans. This man had no one but himself to blame for the plight in which he found himself.
(b) There was the priest. He hastened past. No doubt he was remembering that he who touched a dead man was unclean for seven days ( Numbers 19:11). He could not be sure but he feared that the man was dead; to touch him would mean losing his turn of duty in the Temple; and he refused to risk that. He set the claims of ceremonial above those of charity. The Temple and its liturgy meant more to him than the pain of man.
(c) There was the Levite. He seems to have gone nearer to the man before he passed on. The bandits were in the habit of using decoys. One of their number would act the part of a wounded man; and when some unsuspecting traveller stopped over him, the others would rush upon him and overpower him. The Levite was a man whose motto was, "Safety first." He would take no risks to help anyone else.
(d) There was the Samaritan. The listeners would obviously expect that with his arrival the villain had arrived. He may not have been racially a Samaritan at all. The Jews had no dealings with the Samaritans and yet this man seems to have been a kind of commercial traveller who was a regular visitor to the inn. In John 8:48 the Jews call Jesus a Samaritan. The name was sometimes used to describe a man who was a heretic and a breaker of the ceremonial law. Perhaps this man was a Samaritan in the sense of being one whom all orthodox good people despised.
We note two things about him.
(i) His credit was good! Clearly the innkeeper was prepared to trust him. He may have been theologically unsound, but he was an honest man.
(ii) He alone was prepared to help. A heretic he may have been, but the love of God was in his heart. It is no new experience to find the orthodox more interested in dogmas than in help and to find the man the orthodox despise to be the one who loves his fellow-men. In the end we will be judged not by the creed we hold but by the life we live.
Third, let us look at the teaching of the parable. The scribe who asked this question was in earnest. Jesus asked him what was written in the law, and then said, "How do you read?" Strict orthodox Jews wore round their wrists little leather boxes called phylacteries, which contained certain passages of scripture-- Exodus 13:1-10; Exodus 13:11-16; Deuteronomy 6:4-9; Deuteronomy 11:13-20. "You will love the Lord your God" is from Deuteronomy 6:4 and Deuteronomy 11:13. So Jesus said to the scribe, "Look at the phylactery on your own wrist and it will answer your question." To that the scribes added Leviticus 19:18, which bids a man love his neighbour as himself; but with their passion for definition the Rabbis sought to define who a man's neighbour was; and at their worst and their narrowest they confined the word neighbour to their fellow Jews. For instance, some of them said that it was illegal to help a gentile woman in her sorest time, the time of childbirth, for that would only have been to bring another gentile into the world. So then the scribe's question, "Who is my neighbour?" was genuine.
Jesus' answer involves three things.
(i) We must help a man even when he has brought his trouble on himself, as the traveller had done.
(ii) Any man of any nation who is in need is our neighbour. Our help must be as wide as the love of God.
(iii) The help must be practical and not consist merely in feeling sorry. No doubt the priest and the Levite felt a pang of pity for the wounded man, but they did nothing. Compassion, to be real, must issue in deeds.
What Jesus said to the scribe, he says to us--"Go you and do the same."
THE CLASH OF TEMPERAMENTS ( Luke 10:38-42 )
10:38-42 As they journeyed, Jesus entered into a village. A woman called Martha received him into her house. She had a sister called Mary, and she sat at Jesus' feet and kept listening to his word. Martha was worried about much serving. She stood over them and said, "Lord, don't you care that my sister has left me alone to do the serving? Tell her to give me a hand." "Martha, Martha," the Lord answered her, "you are worried and troubled about many things. Only one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the better part, and it is not going to be taken away from her."
It would be hard to find more vivid character drawing in greater economy of words than we find in these verses.
(i) They show us the clash of temperaments. We have never allowed enough for the place of temperament in religion. Some people are naturally dynamos of activity; others are naturally quiet. It is hard for the active person to understand the person who sits and contemplates. And the person who is devoted to quiet times and meditation is apt to look down on the person who would rather be active.
There is no right or wrong in this. God did not make everyone alike. One person may pray,
"Lord of all pots and pans and things,
Since I've no time to be
A saint by doing lovely things,
Or watching late with thee,
Or dreaming in the dawnlight,
Or storming heaven's gates,
Make me a saint by getting meals
And washing up the plates."
Another may sit with folded hands and mind intense to think and pray. Both are serving God. God needs his Marys and his Marthas, too.
(ii) These verses show us something more--they show us the wrong type of kindness. Think where Jesus was going when this happened. He was on his way to Jerusalem--to die. His whole being was taken up with the intensity of the inner battle to bend his will to the will of God. When Jesus came to that home in Bethany it was a great day; and Martha was eager to celebrate it by laying on the best the house could give. So she rushed and fussed and cooked; and that was precisely what Jesus did not want. All he wanted was quiet. With the cross before him and with the inner tension in his heart, he had turned aside to Bethany to find an oasis of calm away from the demanding crowds if only for an hour or two; and that is what Mary gave him and what Martha, in her kindness, did her best to destroy. "One thing is necessary"--quite possibly this means, "I don't want a big spread; one course, the simplest meal is all I want." It was simply that Mary understood and that Martha did not.
Here is one of the great difficulties in life. So often we want to be kind to people--but we want to be kind to them in our way; and should it happen that our way is not the necessary way, we sometimes take offence and think that we are not appreciated. If we are trying to be kind the first necessity is to try to see into the heart of the person we desire to help--and then to forget all our own plans and to think only of what he or she needs. Jesus loved Martha and Martha loved him, but when Martha set out to be kind, it had to be her way of being kind which was really being unkind to him whose heart cried out for quiet. Jesus loved Mary and Mary loved him, and Mary understood.
-Barclay's Daily Study Bible (NT)
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Barclay, William. "Commentary on Luke 10:25". "William Barclay's Daily Study Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/dsb/luke-10.html. 1956-1959.
And behold a certain lawyer stood up,.... From his seat, having been hearing Christ preach, very likely, in some synagogue; when and where this was, is not certain. The Syriac, Persic, and Ethiopic versions call this man a Scribe; and a lawyer and a Scribe were the same, as appears from Matthew 22:35 compared with Mark 12:28
and tempted him; or tried him whether he understood the law, or whether he would say any thing contrary to it, and see if he could gain any advantage against him, and expose him, and get credit and applause to himself:
saying, Master, what shall I do to inherit eternal life? the same question as was put by the young ruler in Mark 10:17 for they were both of the same complexion, and upon the same foundation, seeking eternal life by their own works: Mark 10:17- :
he said unto him; that is, Jesus, as all the Oriental versions express it.
The New John Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible Modernised and adapted for the computer by Larry Pierce of Online Bible. All Rights Reserved, Larry Pierce, Winterbourne, Ontario.
A printed copy of this work can be ordered from: The Baptist Standard Bearer, 1 Iron Oaks Dr, Paris, AR, 72855
Gill, John. "Commentary on Luke 10:25". "Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/geb/luke-10.html. 1999.
|Who Is Our Neighbour.|
25 And, behold, a certain lawyer stood up, and tempted him, saying, Master, what shall I do to inherit eternal life? 26 He said unto him, What is written in the law? how readest thou? 27 And he answering said, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbour as thyself. 28 And he said unto him, Thou hast answered right: this do, and thou shalt live. 29 But he, willing to justify himself, said unto Jesus, And who is my neighbour? 30 And Jesus answering said, A certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among thieves, which stripped him of his raiment, and wounded him, and departed, leaving him half dead. 31 And by chance there came down a certain priest that way: and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side. 32 And likewise a Levite, when he was at the place, came and looked on him, and passed by on the other side. 33 But a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came where he was: and when he saw him, he had compassion on him, 34 And went to him, and bound up his wounds, pouring in oil and wine, and set him on his own beast, and brought him to an inn, and took care of him. 35 And on the morrow when he departed, he took out two pence, and gave them to the host, and said unto him, Take care of him; and whatsoever thou spendest more, when I come again, I will repay thee. 36 Which now of these three, thinkest thou, was neighbour unto him that fell among the thieves? 37 And he said, He that showed mercy on him. Then said Jesus unto him, Go, and do thou likewise.
We have here Christ's discourse with a lawyer about some points of conscience, which we are all concerned to be rightly informed in and are so here from Christ though the questions were proposed with no good intention.
I. We are concerned to know what that good is which we should do in this life, in order to our attaining eternal life. A question to this purport was proposed to our Saviour by a certain lawyer, or scribe, only with a design to try him, not with a desire to be instructed by him, Luke 10:25; Luke 10:25. The lawyer stood up, and asked him, Master, what shall I do to inherit eternal life? If Christ had any thing peculiar to prescribe, by this question he would get it out of him, and perhaps expose him for it; if not, he would expose his doctrine as needless, since it would give no other direction for obtaining happiness than what they had already received; or, perhaps, he had no malicious design against Christ, as some of the scribes had, only he was willing to have a little talk with him, just as people go to church to hear what the minister will say. This was a good question: What shall I do to inherit eternal life? But it lost all its goodness when it was proposed with an ill design, or a very mean one. Note, It is not enough to speak of the things of God, and to enquire about them, but we must do it with a suitable concern. If we speak of eternal life, and the way to it, in a careless manner, merely as matter of discourse, especially as matter of dispute, we do but take the name of God in vain, as the lawyer here did. Now this question being started, observe,
1. How Christ turned him over to the divine law, and bade him follow the direction of that. Though he knew the thoughts and intents of his heart, he did not answer him according to the folly of that, but according to the wisdom and goodness of the question he asked. He answered him with a question: What is written in the law? How readest thou?Luke 10:26; Luke 10:26. He came to catechize Christ, and to know him; but Christ will catechize him, and make him know himself. He talks to him as a lawyer, as one conversant in the law: the studies of his profession would inform him; let him practise according to his knowledge, and he should not come short of eternal life. Note, It will be of great use to us, in our way to heaven, to consider what is written in the law, and what we read there. We must have recourse to our bibles, to the law, as it is now in the hand of Christ and walk in the way that is shown us there. It is a great mercy that we have the law written, that we have it thereby reduced to certainty, and that thereby it is capable of spreading the further, and lasting the longer. Having it written, it is our duty to read it, to read it with understanding, and to treasure up what we read, so that when there is occasion, we may be able to tell what is written in the law, and how we read. To this we must appeal; by this we must try doctrines and end disputes; this must be our oracle, our touchstone, our rule, our guide. What is written in the law? How do we read? if there be light in us, it will have regard to this light.
2. What a good account he gave of the law, of the principal commandments of the law, to the observance of which we must bind ourselves if we would inherit eternal life. He did not, like a Pharisee, refer himself to the tradition of the elders, but, like a good textuary, fastened upon the two first and great commandments of the law, as those which he thought must be most strictly observed in order to the obtaining of eternal life, and which included all the rest, Luke 10:27; Luke 10:27. (1.) We must love God with all our hearts, must look upon him as the best of beings, in himself most amiable, and infinitely perfect and excellent; as one whom we lie under the greatest obligations to, both in gratitude and interest. We must prize him, and value ourselves by our elation to him; must please ourselves in him, and devote ourselves entirely to him. Our love to him must be sincere, hearty, and fervent; it must be a superlative love, a love that is as strong as death, but an intelligent love, and such as we can give a good account of the grounds and reasons of. It must be an entire love; he must have our whole souls, and must be served with all that is within us. We must love nothing besides him, but what we love for him and in subordination to him. (2.) We must love our neighbours as ourselves, which we shall easily do, if we, as we ought to do, love God better than ourselves. We must wish well to all and ill to none; must do all the good we can in the world and no hurt, and must fix it as a rule to ourselves to do to others as we would they should do to us; and this is to love our neighbour as ourselves.
3. Christ's approbation of what he said, Luke 10:28; Luke 10:28. Though he came to tempt him, yet what he said that was good Christ commended: Thou hast answered right. Christ himself fastened upon these as the two great commandments of the law (Matthew 22:37): both sides agreed in this. Those who do well shall have praise of the same, and so should those have that speak well. So far is right; but he hardest part of this work yet remains: "This do, and thou shalt live; thou shalt inherit eternal life."
4. His care to avoid the conviction which was now ready to fasten upon him. When Christ said, This do, and thou shalt live, he began to be aware that Christ intended to draw from him an acknowledgment that he had not done this, and therefore an enquiry what he should do, which way he should look, to get his sins pardoned; an acknowledgment also that he could not do this perfectly for the future by any strength of his own, and therefore an enquiry which way he might fetch in strength to enable him to do it: but he was willing to justify himself, and therefore cared not for carrying on that discourse, but saith, in effect, as another did (Matthew 19:20), All these things have I kept from my youth up. Note, Many ask good questions with a design rather to justify themselves than to inform themselves, rather proudly to show what is good in them than humbly to see what is bad in them.
II. We are concerned to know who is our neighbour, whom by the second great commandment we are obliged to love. This is another of this lawyer's queries, which he started only that he might drop the former, lest Christ should have forced him, in the prosecution of it, to condemn himself, when he was resolved to justify himself. As to loving God, he was willing to say no more of it; but, as to his neighbour, he was sure that there he had come up to the rule, for he had always been very kind and respectful to all about him. Now observe,
1. What was the corrupt notion of the Jewish teachers in this matter. Dr. Lightfoot quotes their own words to this purport: "Where he saith, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, he excepts all Gentiles, for they are not our neighbours, but those only that are of our own nation and religion." They would not put an Israelite to death for killing a Gentile, for he was not his neighbour: they indeed say that they ought not to kill a Gentile whom they were not at war with; but, if they saw a Gentile in danger of death, they thought themselves under no obligation to help to save his life. Such wicked inferences did they draw from that holy covenant of peculiarity by which God had distinguished them, and by abusing it thus they had forfeited it; God justly took the forfeiture, and transferred covenant-favours to the Gentile world, to whom they brutishly denied common favours.
2. How Christ corrected this inhuman notion, and showed, by a parable, that whomsoever we have need to receive kindness from, and find ready to show us the kindness we need, we cannot but look upon as our neighbour; and therefore ought to look upon all those as such who need our kindness, and to show them kindness accordingly, though they be not of our own nation and religion. Now observe,
(1.) The parable itself, which represents to us a poor Jew in distressed circumstances, succoured and relieved by a good Samaritan. Let us see here,
[1.] How he was abused by his enemies. The honest man was traveling peaceably upon his lawful business in the road, and it was a great road that led from Jerusalem to Jericho, Luke 10:30; Luke 10:30. The mentioning of those places intimates that it was matter of fact, and not a parable; probably it happened lately, just as it is here related. The occurrences of Providence would yield us many good instructions, if we would carefully observe and improve them, and would be equivalent to parables framed on purpose for instruction, and be more affecting. This poor man fell among thieves. Whether they were Arabians, plunderers, that lived by spoil, or some profligate wretches of his own nation, or some of the Roman soldiers, who, notwithstanding the strict discipline of their army, did this villany, does not appear; but they were very barbarous; they not only took his money, but stripped him of his clothes, and, that he might not be able to pursue them, or only to gratify a cruel disposition (for otherwise what profit was there in his blood?) they wounded him, and left him half dead, ready to die of his wounds. We may here conceive a just indignation at highwaymen, that have divested themselves of all humanity, and are as natural brute beasts, beasts of prey, made to be taken and destroyed; and at the same time we cannot but think with compassion on those that fall into the hands of such wicked and unreasonable men, and be ready, when it is in our power, to help them. What reason have we to thank God for our preservation from perils by robbers!
[2.] How he was slighted by those who should have been his friends, who were not only men of his own nation and religion, but one a priest and the other a Levite, men of a public character and station; nay, they were men of professed sanctity, whose offices obliged them to tenderness and compassion (Hebrews 5:2), who ought to have taught others their duty in such a case as this, which was to deliver them that were drawn unto death; yet they would not themselves do it. Dr. Lightfoot tells us that many of the courses of the priests had their residence in Jericho, and thence came up to Jerusalem, when it was their turn to officiate there, and so back again, which occasioned abundance of passing and repassing of priests that way, and Levites their attendants. They came this way, and saw the poor wounded man. It is probable that they heard his groans, and could not but perceive that if he were not helped he must quickly perish. The Levite not only saw him, but came and looked on himLuke 10:32; Luke 10:32. But they passed by on the other side; when they saw his case, they got as far off him as ever they could, as if they would have had a pretence to say, Behold, we knew it not. It is sad when those who should be examples of charity are prodigies of cruelty, and when those who should by displaying the mercies of God, open the bowels of compassion in others, shut up their own.
[3.] How he was succoured and relieved by a stranger, a certain Samaritan, of that nation which of all others the Jews most despised and detested and would have no dealings with. This man had some humanity in him, Luke 10:33; Luke 10:33. The priest had his heart hardened against one of his own people, but the Samaritan had his opened towards one of another people. When he saw him he had compassion on him, and never took into consideration what country he was of. Though he was a Jew, he was a man, and a man in misery, and the Samaritan has learned to honour all men; he knows not how soon this poor man's case may be his own, and therefore pities him, as he himself would desire and expect to be pitied in the like case. That such great love should be found in a Samaritan was perhaps thought as wonderful as that great faith which Christ admired in a Roman, and in a woman of Canaan; but really it was not so, for pity is the work of a man, but faith is the work of divine grace. The compassion of this Samaritan was not an idle compassion; he did not think it enough to say, "Be healed, be helped" (James 2:16); but, when he drew out his soul, he reached forth his hand also to this poor needy creature, Isaiah 58:7; Proverbs 31:20. See how friendly this good Samaritan was. First, He went to the poor man, whom the priest and Levite kept at a distance from; he enquired, no doubt, how he came into this deplorable condition, and condoled with him. Secondly, He did the surgeon's part, for want of a better. He bound up his wounds, making use of his own linen, it is likely, for that purpose; and poured in oil and wine, which perhaps he had with him; wine to wash the wound, and oil to mollify it, and close it up. He did all he could to ease the pain, and prevent the peril, of his wounds, as one whose heart bled with him. Thirdly, He set him on his own beast, and went on foot himself, and brought him to an inn. A great mercy it is to have inns upon the road, where we may be furnished for our money with all the conveniences for food and rest. Perhaps the Samaritan, if he had not met with this hindrance, would have got that night to his journey's end; but, in compassion to that poor man, he takes up short at an inn. Some think that the priest and Levite pretended they could not stay to help the poor man, because they were in haste to go and attend the temple-service at Jerusalem. We suppose the Samaritan went upon business; but he understood that both his own business and God's sacrifice too must give place to such an act of mercy as this. Fourthly, He took care of him in the inn, got him to bed, had food for him that was proper, and due attendance, and, it may be, prayed with him. Nay, Fifthly, As if he had been his own child, or one he was obliged to look after, when he left him next morning, he left money with the landlord, to be laid out for his use, and passed his word for what he should spend more. Twopence of their money was about fifteen pence of ours, which, according to the rate of things then, would go a great way; however, here it was an earnest of satisfaction to the full of all demands. All this was kind and generous, and as much as one could have expected from a friend or a brother; and yet here it is done by a stranger and foreigner.
Now this parable is applicable to another purpose than that for which it was intended; and does excellently set forth the kindness and love of God our Saviour towards sinful miserable man. We were like this poor distressed traveller. Satan, our enemy, had robbed us, stripped us, wounded us; such is the mischief that sin had done us. We were by nature more than half dead, twice dead, in trespasses and sins; utterly unable to help ourselves, for we were without strength. The law of Moses, like the priest and Levite, the ministers of the law, looks upon us, but has no compassion on us, gives us no relief, passes by on the other side, as having neither pity nor power to help us; but then comes the blessed Jesus, that good Samaritan (and they said of him, by way of reproach, he is a Samaritan), he has compassion on us, he binds up our bleeding wounds (Psalms 147:3; Isaiah 61:1), pours in, not oil and wine, but that which is infinitely more precious, his own blood. He takes care of us, and bids us put all the expenses of our cure upon his account; and all this though he was none of us, till he was pleased by his voluntary condescension to make himself so, but infinitely above us. This magnifies the riches of his love, and obliges us all to say, "How much are we indebted, and what shall we render?"
(2.) The application of the parable. [1.] The truth contained in it is extorted from the lawyer's own mouth. "Now tell me," saith Christ, "which of these three was neighbour to him that fell among thieves (Luke 10:36; Luke 10:36), the priest, the Levite, or the Samaritan? Which of these did the neighbour's part?" To this the lawyer would not answer, as he ought to have done, "Doubtless, the Samaritan was;" but, "He that showed mercy on him; doubtless, he was a good neighbour to him, and very neighbourly, and I cannot but say that it was a good work thus to save an honest Jew from perishing." [2.] The duty inferred from it is pressed home upon the lawyer's own conscience: Go, and do thou likewise. The duty of relations is mutual and reciprocal; the titles of friends, brethren, neighbours, are, as Grotius here speaks ton pros ti--equally binding on both sides: if one side be bound, the other cannot be loose, as is agreed in all contracts. If a Samaritan does well that helps a distressed Jew, certainly a Jew does not well if he refuses in like manner to help a distressed Samaritan. Petimusque damusque vicissim--These kind offices are to be reciprocated. "And therefore go thou and do as the Samaritan did, whenever occasion offers: show mercy to those that need thy help, and do it freely, and with concern and compassion, though they be not of thy own nation and thy own profession, or of thy own opinion and communion in religion. Let thy charity be thus extensive, before thou boastest of having conformed thyself to that great commandment of loving thy neighbour." This lawyer valued himself much upon his learning and his knowledge of the laws, and in that he thought to have puzzled Christ himself; but Christ sends him to school to a Samaritan, to learn his duty: "Go, and do like him." Note, It is the duty of every one of us, in our places, and according to our ability, to succour, help, and relieve all that are in distress and necessity, and of lawyers particularly; and herein we must study to excel many that are proud of their being priests and Levites.
These files are public domain and are a derivative of an electronic edition that is available on the Christian Classics Ethereal Library Website.
Henry, Matthew. "Complete Commentary on Luke 10:25". "Henry's Complete Commentary on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/mhm/luke-10.html. 1706.
The ninth chapter opens with the mission not the setting apart, but the circuit of the twelve sent out by the Lord, who therein was working after a fresh sort. He communicates power in grace to men, chosen men, who have to preach the kingdom of God and to heal the sick; for in this Gospel, although it be at first in Israel, it is the working of divine grace that is evidently destined for an incomparably larger sphere and yet deeper objects. This mission of the twelve in the Gospel of Matthew has a decidedly Jewish aspect, even to the very end, and contemplates the messengers of the kingdom occupied with their work till the Son of man come, and therefore entirely leaves out what God is now doing in the call of the Gentiles. Here we have clearly the same mission presented in a wholly different point of view. What is peculiarly Jewish, though all was then to the Jew, disappears; what makes known God, and this, too, in mercy and goodness towards needy man this we have fully in our Gospel. It is said here, "Preach the kingdom of God." Instead of leaving man to himself, the intervention of divine power is the central thought of God's kingdom; and instead of man being left to his resources and wisdom to take and keep the upper hand in the world by the providence of God, as if he had a certain vested right in the realm of nature, God will Himself take up this scene for the purpose of introducing His own power and goodness into it in the person of Christ, the Church being thus associated, and man thus exalted truly, and blessed more than ever. This will be displayed in what we commonly call the millennium. But meanwhile the twelve were to go out as Christ's messengers; for God always gives a testimony before He brings in the thing that is testified of. Attached to this apostolate was power over all demons, and the cure of diseases. But this was only accessory. The chief and evident aim was no display of deeds, though He did arm the messengers of the kingdom with such energy as that the powers of Satan should be defied, as it were, though this is more detailed in Matthew. Not, of course, that there is silence here as to the miraculous powers of healing. But we do not find in Luke the especial details of Jewish appeal up to the end of the age, nor the vacuum as to intermediate dealings with Gentiles. What the Holy Ghost singles out and brings into prominence here is all that manifests the goodness and compassion of God towards man in both soul and body.
We have along with this the solemnity of refusing, the testimony of Christ. Indeed, this is true even of the gospel now, where it is not merely the kingdom preached, but the grace of God; and, in my opinion, it is an accompaniment of the gospel that never can be severed from it without loss. To preach love alone is defective. Love is essential to the gospel, which assuredly is the very brightest manifestation of God's grace to man in Christ; for it is a message of love which not only gave the only begotten Son of God, but dealt with Him unsparingly on the cross in order to save sinners. To preach love alone is another and serious thing, a different gospel which is not another. Yea, to keep back the awful and ruinous consequences of indifference to the gospel, I do not mean absolutely rejecting it, but even making light of the gospel, is fatal. Never is it real love to keep back or hide that man is already lost and must be cast into hell, unless he be saved through believing the gospel. To occupy men with other things, however seemingly or really good in their place, is no proof of love to man, but insensibility to the grace of God, the glory of God, the evil of sin, the truest deepest need of man, the sureness of judgment, the blessedness of the gospel. This neglected, God in vain is otherwise shown out in His goodness. To return, however, we see that in this part of our Gospel the Lord is testifying to the Jews in view of His rejection, the disciples being invested with the powers of the world to come.
Then we have the working of conscience shown out in a bad man. Herod even, far removed as he was from such a testimony, still was so far moved by it as to enquire what it all meant, and whose power it was that thus wrought. He had known John the Baptist as a great personage, who struck the attention of all Israel in his day. But John was gone. Herod had good reason to know how it was an evil conscience that troubled him, particularly as he heard what was going on now, when men pretended, among various rumours, that John was risen from the dead. This did not satisfy Herod; he had no sense of the power of God, but, at least, he was disturbed and perplexed.
The apostles tell the Lord on their return what they had done, and He takes them into a desert place, where, on their failure to enter into the character of Christ, He displays Himself as not only a man who was the Son of God, but as God, Jehovah Himself. There is no Gospel where the Lord Jesus does not show Himself thus. He may have other objects, He may not always manifest Himself in the same elevation; but there is no gospel that does not present the Lord Jesus as the God of Israel upon earth. And hence this is a miracle found in all the Gospels. Even John, who ordinarily does not give the same sort of miracles as the others, presents this miracle along with the other evangelists. Hence, it is plain, that God was showing His presence in beneficence to His people on the earth. The very character of the miracle speaks it. He who once rained the manna is here; once more He feeds His poor with bread. It was the Jew particularly, but still the poor and despised, who were like sheep ready to perish in the wilderness. Thus we find that, while it is perfectly in harmony with the character of Luke, it nevertheless comes within the range of all the Gospels, some for one reason and some for another.
Matthew was given, I suppose, to illustrate the great dispensational change then imminent; because Christ is there shown us as dismissing the multitude, and going to pray on high, while the disciples toil on the troubled sea. There was no real faith in the poor Jews; they only wanted Jesus for what He could give them, not for His own sake. Whereas faith receives God in Jesus; faith sees the supreme glory of a rejected Jesus: no matter what the outward circumstances may be, still it owns Him; the multitude did not. They would have liked such a Messiah as their eyes saw in His power and beneficence; they would have liked such an One to provide and fight their battles for them; but there was no sense of God's glory in His person. The consequence is, the Lord, though He feeds them, goes away; the disciples are meanwhile exposed to toil and tempest, and the Lord Jesus rejoins them, calling out the energy of one who symbolises the bolder ones in the last days. For even the godly remnant in Israel will not then have precisely the same measure of faith. Peter appears to represent the more advanced, going forth out of the ship to meet the Lord, but like him, no doubt, ready to perish for their boldness. Although there was the work of affection, and so far of confidence, to abandon all for Jesus, still Peter was occupied with the troubles, as they undoubtedly will be in that day. As for him, so for them will the Lord mercifully interpose. Thus it is evident that Matthew has in view the complete change that has taken place: the Lord gone away and taking another character altogether above, and then rejoining His people, working in their hearts, and delivering them in the last days. Of this we have nothing in M Mark or Luke. The scope of neither admitted of such a sketch of circumstances as could become a type of the events of the last days in connection with Israel, any more than of the present separation of the Lord to be a Priest on high, before He returns to the earth and especially to Israel. We can easily understand how perfectly all this suits Matthew.
But again, inJohn 6:1-71; John 6:1-71, the miracle furnished the occasion for the wonderful discourse of our Saviour, occupying the latter part of the chapter, which will be touched on another occasion. At present my point is simply to show, that while we have it in all, the setting, so to speak, of the jewel differs, and that particular phase is brought out which suits the object of God's Spirit in each Gospel.
After this, as indeed is found everywhere, our Lord calls out the disciples more distinctly into a separate place. He had shown what He was, and all the blessings reserved for Israel, but there was no real faith in the people. There was, to a certain extent, a sense of need; there was willingness enough to receive what was for the body and the present life, but there their desires stop; and the Lord proved this by His questions, because these revealed the agitation of men's minds, and their want of faith. Hence, therefore, the reply of the disciples to the Lord's question, "Whom say the people that I am? They answering, said, John the Baptist; but some say Elias; and others say that one of the old prophets is risen again." Whether it were Herod and his servants, or Christ with the disciples, the same tale meets the ear of varying uncertainty but constant unbelief.
But now we find a change. In that little group which surrounded the Lord, there were hearts to whom God had unveiled the glory of Christ; and Christ loved to hear the declaration, not for His own sake, but for God's, and for theirs too. In divine love He heard their confession of His person. No doubt it was His due; but in truth His love desired rather to give than to get, to seal the blessing that had been already given of God, and to pronounce a fresh blessing. What a moment in God's eyes! Jesus "said unto them, But whom say ye that I am?" Peter then answers, unequivocally, "The Christ of God." At first sight it might seem remarkable that, in the Jewish Gospel of Matthew, we have a far fuller acknowledgment. There he owns Him not only to be the Christ, but the "Son of the living God." This is left out here. Along with the acknowledgment of that deeper glory of Christ's person, the Lord is reported as saying, "Upon this rock I will build my Church." As the expression of the divine dignity of Christ is left out here, so the building the Church is not found. There is only the acknowledgment of Christ as the true Messiah, the anointed of God; not one anointed by human hands, but the Christ of God. The Lord, therefore, entirely omits all intimation of the Church, that new thing which was going to be builded, just as we have here the omission of Peter's brightest confession. "And He straitly charged them, and commanded them to tell no man that thing." It was no use to proclaim Him as the Messiah. After prophecies, miracles, preaching, the people had been altogether at fault. As the disciples themselves told the Lord, some said one thing, some said another, and no matter what they said, it was all wrong. No doubt there was this handful of disciples who followed Him; and Peter, speaking for the rest, knows and confesses the truth. But it was in vain for the people, as a whole; and this was the question for the Messiah, as such. The Lord accordingly, at this point of time, introduces that most solemn change, not dispensational, not the cutting off of the Jewish system, and the Church building coming into view. That, we have seen, comes in the Gospel where we have ever found the question of dispensational crisis discussed. In Luke it is not so; for there is found the great moral root of the matter; and after such a full I would not say adequate, but abundant testimony had been rendered to Christ, not merely by His intrinsic energy, but even by communicated power to His servants, it was altogether in vain to proclaim Him any longer as the Messiah of Israel. The manner in which He had come as Messiah was foreign to their thoughts, their feelings, their preconceptions, their prepossessions; the lowliness, the grace, the path of suffering and contempt all this was so hateful to Israel, that such a Messiah, though He were the Christ of God, they would have nothing to do with. They wanted a Messiah to gratify their national ambition, and to meet their natural wants. Earthly glory, as a present thing too, they desired, being simply men of the world; and whatever struck a blow at this, whatever brought in God and His ways, His goodness, His grace, His necessary judgment of sin, His introduction of that for faith now, which would, and alone could, stand throughout eternity, was abhorrent to them. Of all this they had no sense of want, and One who came for these ends was altogether odious to them. Hence, then, our Lord acts upon this at once, and announces the grand truth that it was no longer a question of the Christ accomplishing what had been promised to the fathers, and which, no doubt, would yet be made good to the children in another day. Meanwhile He was going to take the place of a rejected, suffering man the Son of man; not only One whose person was despised, but who was going to the cross: His testimony thoroughly discredited, and Himself to die. This, then, He first announced. "The Son of man," says He, "must suffer many things, and be rejected of the elders, and chief priests, and scribes (it is not here the Gentiles, but the Jews), and be slain, and be raised the third day." On that, I need not say, hangs not merely the glorious building of the Church of God, but the ground on which any sinful soul can be brought to God. But here it is presented, not in the view of atonement, but as the rejection and suffering of the Son of man at the hands of His own people, that is, of their leaders.
One must carefully remember that the death of Christ, infinite in value, accomplishes many and most worthy ends. To reduce ourselves to a single particular view of Christ's death, is no better than voluntary poverty in the presence of the inexhaustible riches of the grace of God. The sight of other objects met there does not in the least degree detract from the all-importance of atonement. I can perfectly understand, that when a soul is not thoroughly free and happy in peace, the one thing desired is that which will set such an one at ease. Hence, even among saints, the tendency to shut oneself up to the atonement. The looking for nothing else in the death of Christ is the proof that the soul is not satisfied that there is still a void in the heart, which craves what has not yet been found. Hence, therefore, persons who are more or less under the law restrict the cross of Christ only to expiation, i.e., the means of pardon. When it is a question of righteousness, so thoroughly d Mark are they, that anything beyond the remission of sins they must look somewhere else for. What is it to them that the Son of man was glorified, or God glorified in Him? In every respect, save that there is a place left for atonement in the mercy of God, the system is false.
Our Saviour speaks not as putting away man's guilt, but as rejected and suffering to the utmost because of man's or Israel's unbelief. It is here not a revelation of the efficacious sacrifice on God's part. The heads of earthly religion kill Him; but He is raised the third day. Then comes in, not a development of the blessed results of the atonement, however surely this was what God was going to effect at that very time; but Luke, as his manner is, insists, in connection with Christ's rejection and death, on the great moral principle: "If any man will come after me, let him deny himself." The Lord will have the cross true, not only for a man, but to him too. Blessed as it is to know what God has wrought in the cross of Christ for us, we must learn what it writes on the world and human nature. And that is what our Lord presses: "If any man will come after me, let him deny Himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: but whosoever will lose his life for my sake, the same shall save it. For what is a man advantaged, if he gain the whole world, and lose himself, or be cast away? For whosoever shall be ashamed of me and of my words, of him shall the Son of man be ashamed, when he shall come in his own glory, and in his Father's, and of the holy angels." We have here a remarkable fulness of glory spoken of in connection with that great day when eternal things begin to be displayed.
"But I tell you of a truth, there be some standing here, which shall not taste of death, till they see the kingdom of God." Here, therefore, as in the first three Gospels, we have the scene of the transfiguration. The only difference is, that in Luke's Gospel it appears to come a great deal earlier than in the others. In Matthew's case there is the waiting, as it were, till the last. I need not say that the Spirit of God had the exact point of time just as clearly before His mind in one as in another; but the ruling, object necessarily brought in other topics in one Gospel, as it put them aside in another. In a word, the point in Matthew was to show the fulness of testimony before that which was so fatal for Israel. God, I may say, exhausted every means of warning and testimony to His ancient people, giving them proof upon proof, all spread out before them. Luke, on the contrary, brings in a special picture of His grace "to the Jew first" at an early time; and then, that rejected, turns to larger principles, because in point of fact, what ever might be the means through the responsibility of man, it was all a settled thing with God.
John does not introduce the details of the offer to the Jews at all. From the very first chapter of John's gospel the trial is closed, and all decided. From the first it was apparent that Christ was thoroughly rejected. Therefore most consistently the particulars of the testimony and the transfiguration itself find no place in John: they are not in the line of his object. What answers to the transfiguration, as far as anything can be said so to do in the Gospel of John, is given in the first chapter, where it is said, "We beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth." Even if this be conceived to be an allusion to what was beheld on the holy mount, it is here mentioned only in a parenthetical way. The object was not to speak of the glory of the kingdom, but to show that there was a glory deeper far in His person: the kingdom is abundantly spoken of elsewhere. The theme of this Gospel is to show man completely worthless from the very first, the Son all that was blessed, not only from the beginning, but from everlasting. Hence it is that there is no room for the transfiguration in the Gospel of John.
But in Luke, the effect being that He displays the moral roots of things, we have it put much earlier as to its place. The reason is manifest. From the time of the transfiguration, or immediately before it, Christ made the announcement of His death. There was no question any longer about setting up the kingdom in Israel at that time; no object consequently in preaching Messiah as such or the kingdom now. The point was this: He was going to die; He was about shortly to be cast off by the chief priests, and elders, and scribes. What was the use then of talking, about reigning now? Hence there is gradually made known in prophetic parables another kind of manner in which the kingdom of God was to be meanwhile introduced. A sample of the kingdom as it will be was seen on the mount of transfiguration; for the system of glory is only postponed, and in no wise given up. Thus that mount discloses a picture of what God had in His counsels. Before this, as is manifest, the preaching even of Christ was of One presented on the footing of man's responsibility. That is, the Jews were responsible to receive Him and the kingdom that He came with title to set up. The end of this was what is seen uniformly in such moral tests man, when tried, always found wanting. In his hands all comes to nothing. Here, then, He shows that it was all known to Him. He was going to die. This, of course, closes all pretension of man to meet his obligation on the ground of the Messiah, as before on that of law. His duty was plain, but he failed miserably. Consequently we are at once brought here in view of the kingdom, not provisionally offered, but according to the counsels of God, who had of course before Him the end from the beginning.
Let us then look at the peculiar manner in which the Spirit of God presents the kingdom through our evangelist. "And it came to pass about an eight days after these saying's, he took Peter and John and James, and went up into a mountain to pray." The very mode of presenting the time differs from the others. All may not be aware that some men have found a difficulty here: where will they not? It seems to me a small difficulty this, between "after six days" (in Matthew and Mark), and "about an eight days after" (in Luke). Clearly, the one is an exclusive statement of time as the other is inclusive: a person has only to think in order to see that both were perfectly true. But I do not believe that it is without a divine reason that the Spirit of God was pleased to use the one in Matthew and Mark, and the other only in Luke. There appears to be a connection between the form, "about an eight days after," with our Gospel rather than the others; and for this simple reason, that this notation of time brings in that which, spiritually understood, goes beyond the work-a-day world of time, or even the kingdom in its Jewish idea and measure. The eighth day brings in not only resurrection, but the glory proper to it. Now this is what connects itself with the glimpse of the kingdom we catch in Luke, more than any other. No doubt there is that understood in the others, but it is not so openly expressed as in our Gospel, and we shall find this confirmed as we pursue the subject.
"And as he prayed, (that is, when there was the expression of His human perfectness in dependence upon God, of which Luke often speaks,) the fashion of his countenance was altered, and his raiment was white and glistering." The appearance set forth that which will be wrought in saints when they are changed at the coming of Christ. So even in our Lord's case; though Scripture is most guarded, and it becomes us to speak reverently of His person, yet surely was He sent in the likeness of sinful flesh; but could He be so described when it was no longer the days of His flesh when risen from the dead, when death has no more dominion over Him when received up in glory? What then was seen on the holy mount, I judge to be rather the anticipatory semblance of what He is as glorified the one being but temporary, while His present condition will endure for ever. "And, behold, there talked with him two men, which were Moses and Elias: who appeared in glory, and spake of his decease [departure] which he should accomplish at Jerusalem." Other elements of the deepest interest crowd on us; companions of the Lord, men familiarly talking with Him, yet appearing in glory. Above all, note that when the full character of the change or resurrection is more clearly attested, and even beheld more distinctly than anywhere else, the all-importance of the death of Christ is invariably felt just as the value of the resurrection rises. Nor is there any better device of the enemy for weakening the grace of God in Christ's death than to hide the power of His resurrection. On the other hand, he who speculates on the glory of the resurrection, without feeling that the death of Christ was the only possible ground of it before God, and the only way open to us whereby we could have a share with Him in that glorious resurrection, is evidently one whose mind has taken in but a part of the truth. Such an one wants the simple, living faith of God's elect; for if he had it, his soul would be keenly alive to the claims of God's holiness and the necessities of our guilty condition, which the resurrection, blessed as it is, could in no way meet, nor righteously secure any blessing for us, save as founded upon that departure which He accomplished at Jerusalem
But here no such thoughts or language appear. Not only is the glorious result before our eyes, the veil taken away, that we might see (as it were in company with these chosen witnesses) the kingdom as it will be, shown us here in a little sample of it, but we are admitted to hear the converse of the glorified saints with Jesus on its yet more glorious cause. They talked with Him, and the subject was His departure, which He should accomplish at Jerusalem. How blessed to know that we have that same death, that same most precious truth, nearest of all for our hearts, because it is the perfect expression of His love, and of His suffering love; that we have it now; that it is the very centre of our worship; that it is what habitually calls us together; that no joy in hope, no present favour, no heavenly privilege can ever obscure, but only give a fuller expression to our sense of the grace of His death, as, in truth, they are its fruits. Peter, and they that were with him, were asleep even here; and Luke mentions the circumstance, as especially introducing to our notice the moral state. Such, then, was the condition of the disciples, yea, of those who seemed to be pillars; the glory was too bright for them-they had scanty relish for it. The same disciples, who afterwards slept in the garden of agony, then slept in the mount of glory. And I am persuaded that the two tendencies are very closely akin, insensibility indifference; he who is apt to go asleep in the presence of the one indicates too plainly that you cannot expect from him any adequate sense of the other.
But there is more for us to see, however passingly. "And when they were awake, they saw his glory, and the two men that stood with him. And it came to pass, as they departed from him, Peter said unto Jesus Master, it is good for us to be here: and let us make three tabernacles; one for thee, and one for Moses, and one for Elias; not knowing what he said." How little human, natural honour for Christ can be trusted even in a saint! Peter meant to magnify his Master. Let us trust God for it. His word brings in not now glorified men, but the God of glory. The Father could not suffer such a speech to come from Peter without a rebuke. No doubt Peter sincerely meant by it to honour the Lord on the mount, as Matthew and M Mark relate how he failed similarly just before; it was the indulgence of traditional thoughts and human feeling in view both of the cross and the glory. So many now, too, like Peter, intend nothing but honour to the Lord by that which would really deprive Him of a special and blessed part of His glory. The word of God alone judges all things; but man, tradition, heeds it little. So it was with Peter; the same disciple who would not have the Lord to suffer, now proposes to put the Lord on a level with Elias or Moses. But God the Father speaks out of the cloud that well-known sign of Jehovah's presence, of which every Jew, at least understood the meaning. "There came a voice out of the cloud, saying, This is my beloved Son: hear him." Hence, whatever might be the place of Moses and Elias in the presence of Christ, it is no question of giving signal and like dignity to them all three, but of hearing the Son of God. As witnesses, they vanish before His testimony who was the object testified of. They were of the earth, He of heaven, and above all. To the Christ as such had they borne witness, even as the disciples hitherto; but He was rejected; and this rejection, in God's grace and wisdom, opened the way and laid the ground for the higher dignity of His person to shine as the Father knew Him, the Son, for the Church to be built thereon, and for communion with the heavenly glory. The Son has His own sole claim as the One to be heard now. So God the Father decides. What, in effect, could they say? They could only speak about Him, whose own words best declare what He is, as they only reveal the Father; and He was here to speak without their aid; He was here Himself to make known the true God; for this He is, and eternal life. "This is my beloved Son: hear him." Such is what the Father would communicate to the disciples upon earth. And this is most precious. "Truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ." For it is not merely the glorified speaking with Jesus, but the Father communicating about Him, the Son, to saints on earth; not to saints glorified, but to saints in their natural bodies, giving them a taste of His own delight in His Son. He would not have them weaken the glory of His Son. No effulgence which shone out from the glorified men must be allowed for a moment to cause forgetfulness of the infinite difference between Him and them. "This is my beloved Son." They were but servants, their highest dignity at best to be witnesses of Him. "This is my beloved Son: hear him. And when the voice was past, Jesus was found alone. And they kept it close."
Yet have I omitted another point that ought not to be left without special notice. While Peter spake, even before the Father's voice was heard, there came a cloud and overshadowed them, and they feared as they entered the cloud. And no wonder; because this was something entirely distinct from and above the glory of the kingdom for which they waited. Blessed as the kingdom is, and glorious, they did not fear when they saw the glorified men, nor Jesus Himself, the centre of that glory; they did not fear when they beheld this witness and sample of the kingdom; for every Jew looked for the kingdom, and expected the Messiah to set it up gloriously; and they knew well enough that, somehow or another, the saints of the past will be there along with the Messiah when He reigns over His willing people. None of these things produced terror; but, when the excellent glory came, overshadowing with its brightness (for light was there, and no darkness at all) the Shechinah of Jehovah's presence, and when Peter, James, and John saw the men with the Lord Jesus entering that cloud, this was something entirely above all previous expectation. No person from the Old Testament would gather such a thought as man thus in the same glory with God. But this is precisely what the New Testament opens out; this is one large part of what was hidden in God from ages and generations before. Indeed, it could not be disclosed till the manifestation and rejection of Christ. Now, it is that which forms the peculiar joy and hope of the Christian in the Son of God. It is not at all the same as the promised blessing and power when the kingdom dawns upon this long benighted earth. As star differs from star, and there is a celestial glory as well as a terrestrial, so there is that which is far above the kingdom that which is founded upon the revealed person of the Son, and in communion with the Father and the Son, now enjoyed in the power of the Spirit sent down from heaven. Accordingly we have, immediately after this, the Father proclaiming the Son; because there is no key, as it were, to open that cloud for man, except His name no means to bring Him there save His work. It is not the Messiah as such. Had He been merely the Messiah, into that cloud man never could have entered. It is because He was and is the Son. As He therefore came, so to speak, out of the cloud, so it was His to introduce into the cloud, though for this His cross too is essential, man being a sinner. Thus the fear of Peter and James and John at this particular point, when they saw men entering into and environed by Jehovah's presence-cloud, is, to my own mind, most significant. Now, that is given us here; and this, one may see, is connected very intimately with, not the kingdom, but the heavenly glory the Father's house as entered in communion with the Son of God.
The Lord comes down from the mountain, and we have a picture, morally, of the world. "A man of the company cried out, saying, Master, I beseech thee, look upon my son: for he is mine only child. And, lo, a spirit taketh him, and he suddenly crieth out; and it teareth him that he foameth again, and bruising him hardly departeth from him." It is a picture of man as now the object of Satan's continual assault and possession; or, as elsewhere described, led captive of the devil at his will. "And I besought thy disciples to cast him out; and they could not." It grieves the Lord deeply, that though there was faith in the disciples, that faith was so dormant before difficulties, that it so feebly knew how to avail itself of the power of Christ on the one hand, for the deep distress of man on the other. Oh, what a sight this was to Christ! what feeling to His heart, that those who possessed faith should at the same time so little estimate the power of Him who was its object and resource! It is exactly what will be the ruin of Christendom, as it was the ground of the Lord closing all His dealings with His ancient people. And when the Son of man comes, will He find faith on the earth? Look at all now, even at the present aspect of that which bears His name. There is the recognition of Christ and of His power, no doubt. Men are baptized in His name. Nominally His glory is owned by everybody but open infidels; but where is the faith He looks for? The comfort is this, however, that Christ never fails to carry on His own work; and, therefore, though we find the very gospel itself made merchandise of in the world, though you may see it prostituted in every way to minister to the vanity or pride of men, God does not therefore abandon His own purposes. Thus He does not forego the conversion of souls by it, even though grievously fettered and perverted. Nothing is more simple. It is not that the Lord approves of the actual state of things, but that the grace of the Lord never can fail, and the work of Christ must be done. God will gather out of the world; yea, out of its worst. In short, the Lord shews here that the unbelief of the disciples was manifested by their little power to draw upon the grace that was in Him, to apply it to the case in hand. "And Jesus answering said, O faithless and perverse generation, how long shall I be with you, and suffer you? Bring thy son hither." And so after a manifestation of Satan's power, the Lord delivers him again to his father.
"And they were all amazed at the mighty power of God." But Jesus at once speaks about His death. Nothing can be sweeter. There was that done which might well make Jesus appear great in their eyes as a matter of power. At once He tells them that He was going to be rejected, to die, to be put to death. "Let those sayings sink down into your ears; for the Son of man shall be delivered into the hands of men." He was the Deliverer from Satan's power. The disciples were as nothing in the presence of the enemy: this was natural enough; but what shall we say when we hear that the Son of man shall be delivered into the hands of men? Here unbelief is ever at fault never knows how to put these two things together; it does seem such a moral and mental contradiction, that the mightiest of deliverers should be apparently the weakest of all beings, delivered into the hands of men, His own creatures! But so it must be. If a sinner was to be saved for eternity if the grace of God was to make a righteous basis for justifying the ungodly, Jesus, the Son of man, must be delivered into the hands of man; and then an infinitely fiercer fire must burn the divine judgment when God made Him sin for us; for all that men, Satan, even God Himself could do, comes upon Him to the uttermost.
The Lord, then, having Himself shown what He was, not only in His power which vanquished Satan but also in that weakness in which He was crucified of men, now reads a lesson to the disciples on the score of their reasoning; for the Spirit of God brings this in now, their discussion which of them should be greatest a vain, unworthy contest at any time, but how much more so in the presence of such a Son of man! It is thus, one can see, that Luke brings facts and principles together in his Gospel. He makes a child, despised of those who would be great, to be a rebuke to the self exalting disciples. They had been little enough against Satan's power: would they be great in spite of their Master's humiliation? Again, He lays bare what manner of spirit was in John, though not giving it in the point of view of service, as we saw in Mark. It may not have been forgotten, that there we had it very particularly as the vehicle for instructing us in the weighty duty that we are to acknowledge the power of God in the service of others, though they may not be "with us." But that point does not appear in Luke at least not its details, but simply the moral principle. "Forbid him not: for he that is not against us is for us."
Then, again, we have His censure of the spirit of James and John in consequence of the affront the Samaritans put on our Lord. It was the same egotism in another form, and the Lord turns and rebukes them, telling them that they knew not what manner of spirit they were of; for the Son of man was not come to destroy men's lives, but to save them. All these lessons are plainly impressions, so to speak, of the cross its shame, rejection, anguish, whatever men chose to put on the name of Jesus, or on those that belong to Jesus Jesus who was on His way to the cross; for so it is expressly written here. He was steadfastly setting His face to go to Jerusalem, where His departure was to be accomplished.
Accordingly we have given here another set of lessons closing the chapter, but still connected with what went before the judgment of what should not work, and the indication of that which ought to work, in the hearts of those that profess to follow the Lord. These are brought together after a notable manner. First, "A certain man said unto him, Lord, I will follow thee whithersoever thou goest." Here it is the detection of what was cloked under an apparent frankness and devotedness; but these seemingly fine fruits were entirely after the flesh, utterly worthless, and offensive to the Lord, who at once puts His finger upon the point. Who is the man that is really ready to follow the Lord whithersoever He goes? The man that has found all in Him, and wants not earthly glory from Him. Jesus was going to die Himself; here He had not a place where to lay His head. How could He give anything to him? "And he said to another, Follow me. But he said, Lord, suffer me first to go and bury my father. Jesus said unto Him, Let the dead bury their dead: but go thou and preach the kingdom of God." Now, here is real faith; and where this exists, it is more than a theory difficulties are felt. Thus the man begins to make excuse, because he feels, on the one side, the attraction of the word of Jesus; but at the same time he is not freed from the force that drags him into nature; he is alive to the seriousness of the matter in conscience, but realises the obstacles in the way. Hence, he pleads the strongest natural claim upon his heart, a son's duty to a dead father. But the Lord would have him leave that to those who had no such call of the Lord. "Let the dead bury their dead: but go thou and preach the kingdom of God." To another, who says, "Lord, I will follow thee; but let me first go bid them farewell, which are at home in my house." The Lord replies that the kingdom of God is necessarily paramount, and its service all-engrossing; so that if a man has put his hand to the plough, woe to him if he look back! He is unfit for the kingdom of God. Throughout who can fail to see the judgment of the heart, man's nature proved, however fair the form? What death to self the service of Christ implies! Otherwise, what personal faithlessness, even if one escape the evil of bringing in rubbish into God's house and, it may be, of defiling His temple! Such is the fruit of self-confidence where Satan acquires a footing.
Luke 10:1-42. Next comes before us the remarkable mission of the seventy, which is peculiar to Luke. This has, indeed, a solemn and final character, with an urgency beyond that of the twelve, in chapter 9. It is an errand of grace, sent out as they were by One whose heart yearned over a great harvest of blessing; but it is clothed with a certain last warning, and with woes here pronounced on the cities where He had wrought in vain. "He that heareth you heareth me; and he that despiseth you despiseth me; and he that despiseth me despiseth him that sent me." This gives it, therefore, a serious and peculiar force, yet withal suitable to our Gospel. Without dwelling upon the particulars, I would simply remark that, when the seventy returned, saying, "Lord, even the devils are subject unto us through thy name," the Lord (while he saw in clear vista before Him Satan fallen from heaven, the casting out of devils by the disciples being but the first blow, according to that power which will utterly put down Satan at the end) at the same time states that this is not the better thing, the proper subject for their joy. No power over evil, however true now, however in the end displaying in full the glory of God, is to be compared to the joy of His grace, the joy of not merely seeing Satan turned out, but of God brought in; and meanwhile of themselves, in the communion of the Father and of the Son, leaving their portion and their names enrolled in heaven. It is a heavenly blessedness, as it becomes more and more manifest that is to be the place of the disciples, and that in Luke's Gospel more than in any other of the synoptists. "Notwithstanding in this rejoice not, that the spirits are subject unto you; but rather rejoice, because your names are written in heaven." Not that it is the Church which is here revealed, but at the least a very characteristic feature of the Christian place which is breaking through the clouds. In that hour Jesus accordingly rejoiced in spirit, and said, "I thank thee, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes: even so, Father; for so it seemed good in thy sight."
Here you will observe it is not, as in Matthew, in connection with the break up of Judaism. Not only was the total destruction of Satan's power before Him, the woman's Seed, by man, for man; but, diving deeper than the kingdom, He explains those counsels of the Father in the Son, to whom all things are delivered, and whose glory was inscrutable to man, the key to His present rejection, and the secret and best blessing for His saints. It is not so much here the Christ rejected and suffering Son of man: but the Son, the revealer of the Father, whom the Father alone knows. And with what delight He congratulates the disciples privately on that which they saw and heard (ver. 3, 4), though we find some declarations coming out more emphatically afterwards; but still it was all clear before Him. Here it is the satisfaction of the Lord in the bright side of the subject, not merely the contrast with the dead body of Judaism, as it were, which was completely judged and left behind.
What we find after this is an unfolding of the Sabbath-days, in which the Lord demonstrated to the unwilling Jews that the bond between God and Israel was broken (seeMatthew 11:1-30; Matthew 11:1-30; Matthew 12:1-50): for this was the meaning of the apparent breach of the Sabbaths, when He vindicated the disciples in eating of the corn on the one, and healed the withered hand publicly on the other. But here we meet with another line of things; we have, according to Luke's manner, one who was instructed in the law weighed and found wanting morally. A lawyer comes and says, "Master, what shall I do to inherit eternal life? He said unto him, What is written in the law? how readest thou? And he answering said, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbour as thyself. And he said unto him, Thou hast answered right: this do, and thou shalt live. But he, willing to justify himself, said unto Jesus, And who is my neighbour?"
This sets forth, then, the difficulties of the legal mind; it is a technicality: he cannot understand what is meant by his "neighbour." Intellectually it was no such feat to penetrate the meaning of that word, "neighbour." But the consequences morally were grave; if it meant what it said, had he ever in his life felt and acted as if he had a neighbour? He gave it up, therefore. It was a mysterious something that the elders had nowhere solved, a case that was not yet ruled in the Sanhedrim, what was meant by this inscrutable "neighbour." Alas! it was the fallen heart of man that wanted to get out of a plain duty, but a duty which demanded love, the last thing in the world he possessed. The great difficulty was himself; and so he sought to justify himself an utter impossibility! For in truth he was a sinner; and the thing for him is to confess his sins. Where one has not been brought to own himself, and to justify God against himself, all is wrong and false; everything of God is misunderstood, and His word seems darkness, instead of light.
Mark how our Lord puts the case in the beautiful parable of the good Samaritan. It was, if I may so say of Him as a man, the single eye and the heart that perfectly understood what God was, and enjoyed it; that never, therefore, had difficulty in finding out who was his neighbour. For, in truth, grace finds a neighbour in every one that needs love. The man that needs human sympathy, that needs divine goodness and its clear testimony, though it be through a man upon the earth, he is my neighbour. Now, Jesus was the only man who was walking in the whole power of divine love, though, I need not say, this was but a little part of His glory. As such, therefore, He found no riddle to solve in the question, Who is my neighbour?
Evidently it is not the mere dispensational setting aside of the ancient people of God, but the proving of the heart, the will of man detected where it used the law to justify itself, and to get rid of the plain demand of duty to one's fellows. Where in all this was love maintained, that necessary answer in man to the character of God in an evil world? Certainly not in the lawyer's question, which betrayed the duty unknown; as surely was it in Him whose parabolic reply most aptly imaged His own feelings and life, the sole perfect exhibition of God's will in love to a neighbour, which this poor world has ever had before it.
The rest of the chapter belongs to the eleventh, properly and naturally following up this truth. What a mercy that, through us then, in Jesus, there is active goodness here below, which, after all, is the only thing that ever accomplishes the law! It is very important to see that grace really does fulfil God's will in this: "That the righteousness of the law," as it is said, "might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit." The lawyer was walking after the flesh; there was no perception of grace, and consequently no truth in him. what a miserable life he must have been living, and he a teacher of God's law, without even knowing who was his neighbour! At least, so he pretended.
On the other hand, as we are next taught, where there is grace, everything is put in its place, and it shows itself in two forms. The first is the value for the word of Jesus. Grace prizes it above all things. Even if you look at two persons who may both be objects of Christ's love, what a difference it makes for the one whose heart delights most in grace! And where there is the opportunity of hearing the word of God from Jesus, or of Jesus, this is the chief jewel at the feet of Jesus. Such is the true moral posture of the one who knows grace best. Here it was Mary who was found sitting, at the feet of Jesus, to hear His word. She had decided rightly, as faith (I say not the believer) always does. As for Martha, she was distracted with bustle. Her one thought was what she could do for Jesus, as One known after the flesh, not without a certain thought, as ever, of what was due to herself. No doubt it was meant for, and after a certain style was, honour to Him; but still it was honour of a Jewish, carnal, worldly sort. It was paid to His bodily presence there, as a man, and the Messiah, with a little bit of honour to herself; no doubt, and to the family. This naturally comes out in Luke, the delineator of such moral traits. Still as for Mary's conduct, it seemed to Martha no better than indifference to her many anxious preparations. Vexed at this, she goes to the Lord with a complaint against Mary, and would have liked the Lord to have joined her, and set His seal to its justice. The Lord, however, at once vindicates the hearer of His word. "But one thing is needful." Not Martha, but Mary, had chosen that good part which should not he taken away from her. When grace works in this world it is not to bring in what suits a moment of passing time, but that which ensures eternal blessing. As part of God's grace, therefore, we have the word of Jesus revealing and communicating what is eternal, what shall not be taken away.
Remark another thing next. It is not only the all-importance of the word of Jesus, not man's misuse of the law (which we have seen but too clearly in the lawyer, who ought to have taught, instead of asked, who my neighbour is), but now we have the place and value of prayer. This is equally needful in its season, and is found here in its true place. Clearly I must receive from God before there can be the going out of my heart to God. There must first be what is imparted by God His revelation of Jesus. There is no faith without His word. (Romans 10:1-21) My thoughts of Jesus may be ruin to me; indeed, I am very sure, if they were only my thoughts of Jesus, they must deceive and destroy my soul, and be injurious to everybody else. But here we find the weighty intimation, that it is not enough that there should be the reception of the word of Jesus, and even at the feet of Jesus. He looks at the disciples need of the exercise of heart with God. And this is shown in more ways than one.
Luke 11:1-54. First of all we have prayer, according to the mind of Jesus, for the disciples in their actual wants and state; and a most blessed prayer it is, leaving out the millennial allusions ofMatthew 6:1-34; Matthew 6:1-34, but retaining all the general and moral petitions. The Lord next insists on the importunity or perseverance of prayer, with the blessing attached to earnestness with God. Thirdly, it may be added, that the Lord touches on the gift of the Spirit, and in connection with this only in our Gospel "If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children: how much more shall your heavenly Father give [not merely good things, but] the Holy Spirit [the best gift] to them that ask him?" Thus the great characteristic blessing to the Gentiles (compare Galatians 3:1-29), and of course to the believing Jew also, was this gift which the Lord here instructs the disciples to ask for. For the Holy Ghost was not yet given. There was exercise of heart Godward. They were really disciples; they were born of God, yet had they to pray for the Holy Spirit to be given them. Such was the state going on while the Lord Jesus was here below. It was not only (as in John 14:1-31) that He would ask the Father, and the Father would send; but they too were to ask the Father, who would assuredly, as He did, give the Holy Spirit to them that asked Him. And I am far from denying that there might be cases at this present time, of what some might call an abnormal kind, where persons were really convinced of sin, but without the settled peace which the gift of the Holy Ghost imparts. Here, at the very least, the principle of this would apply; and for this it might be of moment, therefore, that we should have it plainly in the Gospel of Luke; because this was not the dispensational instruction as to the great change that was coming in, but rather filled with profound moral principles of larger import, though to be influenced, no doubt, by the development of the great facts of divine grace. Thus the sending down of the Holy Ghost at Pentecost brought in an immense modification of this truth. His presence from that moment undoubtedly involved greater things than the heavenly Father giving the Spirit to the individuals who sought it of Him. And there was the grand point of the Father's estimate of the work of Jesus, to which the Spirit's descent was an answer. Therefore, a person might be brought in, so to speak, all at once; he might be converted and rest upon the redemption of Jesus, and receive the Holy Ghost, practically, all at once. Here, however, it is the case of the disciples taught to ask before the blessing had ever been given. Certainly, at that time, we see the two things distinctly. They were born of the Spirit already, but were waiting for the further blessing the gift of the Spirit: a privilege given them in answer to prayer. Nothing can be plainer. There is no good in enfeebling Scripture. Evangelical tradition is as false to the Spirit, as popish is to Christ work and its glorious results for the believer even now on earth. What we need is, to understand the Scriptures in the power of God.
After this, the Lord cast out a dumb devil from one who, when delivered, spoke. This kindles into a flame the hatred of the Jews. They could not deny the power, but wickedly impute it to Satan. In their eyes or lips it was not God, but Beelzebub, the chief of the devils, who cast them out. Others, tempting Him, sought for a sign from heaven. The Lord thereon spreads out the awful consequence of this unbelief and imputation of God's power in Him to the Evil One. In Matthew, it is a sentence on that generation of the Jews; here on wider grounds for man, whoever and wherever he may be; for all here is moral, and not merely the question of the Jew. It was folly and suicidal for Satan to cast out his own. Their own sons condemned them. The truth was, the kingdom of God was come upon them; and they knew it not, but rejected it with blasphemy. Finally He adds, When the unclean spirit is gone out of a man, he walketh through dry places, seeking rest; and finding none, he saith, I will return unto my house whence I came out. And when he cometh, he findeth it swept and garnished. Then goeth he, and taketh to him seven other spirits more wicked than himself; and they enter in, and dwell there: and the last state of that man is worse than the first." There is no application specially to the Jew, as in Matthew; it is left general to man. Hence, "So shall it be with this wicked generation , disappears.
Thus, although the Lord was as yet dealing with a remnant, and was here in view of the doom of that Christ-rejecting generation of the Jews, for this very reason the Spirit of God makes His special design by Luke the more apparent and undeniable. It would have been natural to have left these instructions within those precincts. Not so: Luke was inspired to enlarge their bearing, or rather record what would deal with any soul in any place or time. It is made a question here of man, and of the last state of him whom the unclean spirit has somehow left for a season, but without salvation, or the positive new work of divine grace. He may be a changed character, as men say; he may become moral, or even religious; but is he born again? If not, so much the more sorrowful so much the worse is his last state than the first. Supposing you have that which is ever so fair, if it be not the Holy Ghost's revelation to, and the life of Christ in, your soul, every privilege or blessing short of this will surely be proved to fail. And this the Lord follows up afterwards, when a woman, hearing Him, lifts up her voice and says, " Blessed is the womb that bare thee, and the paps which thou hast sucked." Immediately He answers, "Yea rather, blessed are they that hear the word of God, and keep it." It is evidently the same great moral lesson: no natural link with Him is to be compared with hearing and keeping God's word; and so our Lord pursues next. Were they asking for a sign? They proved their condition, and lowered themselves morally beneath the Ninevites, who repented at Jonah's preaching. Did not the report of Solomon's wisdom draw from the utmost parts of the earth a queen of the south? Jonah is here a sign, not of death and resurrection, but by his preaching. What sign had the queen of Sheba? What sign had the men of Nineveh? Jonah preached; but was not Christ preaching? That queen came from afar to hear the wisdom of Solomon; but what was the wisdom of the wisest to compare with Christ's wisdom? Was He not the wisdom and the power of God? Yet, after all they had seen and heard, they could ask a sign! It was evident that there was no such guilt of old; but, on the contrary, these Gentiles, whether in or from the ends of the earth, spite of their gross darkness, repulsed the unbelief of Israel, and proved how just would be their doom in the judgment.
Our Lord here adds an appeal to conscience. The light (set in Himself) was not secret, but in the right place: God had failed in nothing as to this. But another condition was requisite to see the state of the eye. Was it simple, or evil? If evil, how hopeless the darkness before that light! If received with simplicity, not only is light enjoyed, but shines all around, with no part dark. To the Pharisees, who wondered that the Lord washed not His hands before dining, He pronounces a most withering rebuke upon their care for exterior cleanness, and indifference to their inward corruption, their jealousy for details of observance, and forgetfulness of the great moral obligations, their pride, and their hypocrisy. To one of the lawyers, who complained that thereby He reproached them, the Lord utters woe upon woe for them also. Tampering with the law and holy things of God, where there is no faith, is the direct road to ruin, the sure occasion of divine judgment. A like doom awaits Babylon as then was about to fall on Jerusalem. (Revelation 18:1-24)
In Luke 12:1-59 the Lord furnishes the disciples with the path of faith in the midst of men's secret evil, open hatred, and worldliness. On His rejection their testimony must go on. First, they were to beware of the Pharisees' leaven, which is hypocrisy, and to cherish the consciousness of the light of God to which the believer belongs (ver. Luke 12:1-3; Luke 12:1-3). This, then, is the preservative power. Satan works by deceit as well as by violence. (ver. Luke 12:4). God works not only in light, as we have seen, but by love (Luke 12:5-7), and the confidence He invites to in Himself. "But I will forewarn you whom ye shall fear: Fear Him, which after he hath killed hath power to cast into hell; yea, I say unto you, Fear him." Then immediately guarding against the abuse of this, which is always true, and true for a believer, although it be, so to speak, the lower end of the truth the Lord brings in the love of the Father, asking, "Are not five sparrows sold for two farthings, and not one of them is forgotten before God? But even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not therefore: ye are of more value than many sparrows."
He shows next the all-importance of the confession of His name, with the consequence of denying Him; then, the blasphemy against the Holy Ghost, which would not be forgiven, whatever grace is shown to those who blasphemed the Son of man; and in contrast with this the promised succour of the Spirit in presence of a hostile world-church (ver. Luke 12:8-12; Luke 12:8-12). Then a person appeals to the Lord to settle a question of this world. This, however, is not His work now. Of course, as Messiah, He will have to do with the earth, and will set the world right when He comes to reign; but His actual task was dealing with souls. For Him, and for men too, did not unbelief shroud their eyes, it was a question of heaven or hell, of what is eternal and of another world. Hence He absolutely refuses to be a judge and divider of what appertained to the earth. It is that which many a Christian has not learned of his Master.
Next the Lord exposes the folly of man in his covetous desire after present things. In the midst of prosperity, suddenly, that very night, God requires of the rich fool his soul. "So is he that layeth up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God." The Lord then shows the disciples where their true riches should lie. Faith is meant to deliver from anxiety and lust. It is not food and raiment. He who fed the uncareful ravens would not fail His children, who were far more to Him than the birds. Such care, on the contrary, is the plain evidence of poverty Godward. Why are you so busy providing? It is the confession that you are not satisfied with what you have got. And what does it all come to? The lilies outshine Solomon in all his glory: how much does God interest Himself in His children? What occupies the nations who know Him not is unworthy of the saint who is called to seek God's kingdom, sure that all these thing's shall be added. "Your Father knoweth that ye have need of these things."
Again, this leads me to notice briefly the way in which this ineffable love is shown, not only by the Father, but by the Son, and that in two forms the Son's love to those that wait for Him, and to those that work for Him. The waiting for Him we have in verses 35, 36: "Let your loins be girded about, and your lights burning; and ye yourselves like unto men that wait for their lord, when he will return from the wedding; that when he cometh and knocketh, they may open unto him immediately." It is the heart filled with Christ; and the consequence is, Christ's heart goes out towards them. When He comes, He seats them, so to speak, at table, does everything for them even in glory. But then there is working for the Lord: this comes in afterwards. "Then Peter said unto him, Lord, speakest thou this parable unto us, or even to all? And the Lord said, Who then is that faithful and wise steward, whom his lord shall make ruler over his household, to give them their portion of meat in due season? Blessed is that servant, whom his lord when he cometh shall find so doing. Of a truth I say unto you, that he will make him ruler over all that he hath." It is not "so watching," but "so doing." It is a question of working for Him. and this has its own sweet and needed place. Still remark that it is secondary to watching: Christ Himself always, even before His work. Nevertheless He is pleased to associate the Gospel with Himself; very graciously, as we know in the Gospel of Mark; and it is exact]y there we might expect it, if we knew its character: He binds up the work, so to speak, with Himself. But when we come in Luke to moral analogies, if I may so term it, instead of giving it all together, like the Gospel devoted to the workman and the work, here we listen to One who unfolds to us distinction of heart and hand in relation to His coming. Blessed he who shall be found working for the Lord when He comes: surely he shall be made ruler over all that the Son of man has. Yet mark the difference. This is exaltation over His inheritance. As for those that are found watching for Him, it will be association -joy, rest, glory, love with Himself.
Observe another thing in this part of Luke, and strikingly characteristic too. Blessed as all we have heard is for those that are His, what will it be for those that believe not? Accordingly, and in a form that commends itself to the conscience, we see the difference between the servant who knew his master's will and did it not, and the servant who knew not his master's will (ver. 47, 48). Neither Matthew, nor Mark, nor John, of course, say anything like this. Luke here sheds the light of Christ on the respective responsibility of the Gentile graffed into the olive tree and of the Pagan world. As there is in Christendom the servant cognizant of his Master's will, but indifferent or rebellious, so on the other hand, outside Christendom there is the servant wholly ignorant of His will, and, of course, lawless and evil. They are both of them beaten; but he that knew his Master's will and did it not shall be beaten with more stripes. To be baptized, and to call on the Lord's name in outward profession, instead of lightening the burden in the day of judgment for the hypocrites, will, on the contrary, bring on them so much more severity. The righteousness and the wisdom of this dealing, is so much the more remarkable, as it is the exact opposite of the early doctrine of Christendom. A notion prevailed, perhaps universally after the first century or two, that while all persons dying in sin would be judged, the baptized would have a far better portion in hell than the unbaptized. Such was the doctrine of the fathers; Scripture is dead against it. In what we have just had before us, Luke gives the Lord Jesus not only anticipating but completely and for ever excluding, the folly.
Next, whatever may be the fulness of Christ's love, the effect would now be to kindle a fire. For that love came with divine light which judged man; and man would not bear it. The consequence is, that the fire was already kindled. It did not merely await another day or execution from God, but even then was it at work. Assuredly the love of Christ was not produced by His sufferings, any more than God's love. Ever was it there only awaiting the full expression of man's hatred before it would burst all bounds, and flow out freely in every direction of need and misery. Such is our Lord's wonderful opening out of great moral principles in this chapter. Men, professors, heathen, saints, in their love for Christ, and service too, all have their portion.
The state, then, was the worst possible utter, hopeless, social ruin. which His coming and presence had brought to light. How was it they had not discerned this time? Why even of themselves did they not judge aright? It was from no lack of evil in His adversaries, or of trace in Him. The close of the chapter takes up the Jew, showing that they then were in imminent danger, that a great question pressed on them. In their suit with God, the Lord advised them, as it were, to use arbitration while He was in the way: the result of despising this would be their committal to prison till the uttermost farthing was paid. Such was the admonition to Israel, who are now, as all know, under the consequence of neglecting the word of the Lord.
Luke 13:1-35 insists on this, and shows how vain it was to talk of the objects of signal judgments. Except they repented, they must likewise perish. Judgments thus misused lead men to forget their own guilty and ruined condition in the sight of God. He urges, therefore, repentance strongly. He admits, no doubt, that there was a term of respite. Indeed, it was Himself; the Lord Jesus, who had pleaded for a further trial. If; after this the fig tree should be unfruitful, it must be cut down. And so it was: judgment came after grace, not law. How little they felt that it was a most true picture of themselves, Christ and God Himself so dealing with them because of Him. But the Lord subsequently lets us see that grace could act in the midst of such a state. Accordingly, in His healing, of the woman bowed down with the spirit of infirmity, he displays the goodness of God even in such a day when judgment was at the doors, and rebuked the hypocritical wickedness of the heart that found fault with His goodness, because it was the sabbath day. "Ought not this woman, being a daughter of Abraham, whom Satan hath bound, lo, these eighteen years, be loosed from this bond on the sabbath day? And when he had said these things, all his adversaries were ashamed: and all the people rejoiced for all the glorious things that were done by him." As ever, the heart is made manifest in Luke the adversaries of the truth on the one hand, and those on the other whom grace made the friends of Christ or the objects of His bounty. But the Lord also shows the form that the kingdom of God would take. It would not have power now, but rather from a little beginning become great in the earth, with noiseless progress, as of leaven conforming to itself till the three measures were leavened. And such, in point of fact, has been the character of the kingdom of God presented here below. It is here no question of seed, good or bad, but of the spread of doctrine nominally, at least, Christian. How far such a progress meets the mind of God, we must compare facts with Scripture in order to judge aright. If Israel was then in danger of a judgment which would surely come, what would be the case with the kingdom of God outwardly in the world? In truth, instead of occupying themselves with the question whether those destined to salvation (or the godly Jews) were few, it would be well to think of the only way in which any one could be put morally right before God; it was by striving to enter in at the strait gate: without the new birth none can enter. Many might seek to enter in, but would not be able. What is here meant? Is it a difference between striving and seeking? I doubt that this covers the true bearing of our Lord's language; for thus he who throws the stress upon striving or seeking, makes it a question of energy, greater or less. This does not seem to me what our Lord meant; but that many would seek to enter into the, kingdom, not at the strait gate, but by some other way. They might seek to enter in by baptism, by law-keeping, by prayer, or some vain plea of God's mercy: all these unbelieving resources dishonour Christ and His work.
The striving to enter in at the strait gate implies, to my mid, a man brought to a true sense of sin, and casting, himself upon God's grace in Christ repentance towards God, and faith in our Lord Jesus Christ. Christ Himself is the strait gate at least, Christ Himself received thus by faith and repentance. So our Lord, in opening out this, proclaims the judgment of Israel indeed, of any who should like well the blessing, but refuse God's way, even Christ. He presents, accordingly, the Jewish people cast aside, the Gentiles coming, from east, west, north, and south, and brought into the kingdom of God. "Behold, there are last which shall be first, and first which shall be last." And then the chapter closes with the Pharisees pretending zeal for Him: "Get thee out, and depart hence: for Herod will kill thee." But the Lord proclaims in their ears that He would not be hindered in His service till His hour was come; and that it was not a question of Herod and Galilee, but of Jerusalem, the proud city of solemnities; it was there the prophet of God must fall. No prophet should be cut off except at Jerusalem; such is its painful, fatal peculiarity, the honour of providing a grave for God's rejected and slain witness. Men might say, as they did, that no prophet arose out of Galilee; and it was false; but certainly this was true, that if a prophet fell, he fell in Jerusalem. Yet the Lord then mourned over such a Jerusalem, and does not leave the Jews absolutely desolate, except for a time, but holds out the hope that the day should come when their heart should turn to Him (2 Corinthians 3:1-18), saying) "Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord." This closes, then, the Lord's dealings in reference to Jerusalem, in contrast with the heavenly light in the disciples' portion. He depicts grace from first to last, save only in those that had no faith in Him; and on the other hand, he lets us know, that whatever might be the yearnings of grace over Jerusalem, this is the end of it all in man's hands.
The Lord is seen, in Luke 14:1-35 resuming the ways of grace. Once more He shows that, spite of those who preferred the sign of the Old covenant to Messiah in the grace of the New, the sabbath day furnished Him an opportunity for illustrating the goodness of God. In chapter 13. it was the spirit of infirmity the power of Satan; Here it was a simple case of human malady. The lawyers and Pharisees were then watching Him, but Jesus openly raises the question; and as they held their peace, He takes and heals the man with the dropsy, and lets him go, answering their thought by an irresistible appeal to their own ways and conscience. Man who seeks to do good to what belongs to himself, is not entitled to dispute God's right to act in love to the miserable objects that He deigns to count His.
Then the Lord takes notice of another thing, not man's hypocritical selfishness, which would not have God to gratify His love to suffering wretchedness, but man's love of being somebody in this world. The Lord brings into evidence another great principle of His own action self-abasement in contrast with self-exaltation. If a man desires to be exalted, the only ways according to God, is to be lowly, to abase himself; it is the spirit that suits the kingdom of God. So He tells the disciples that, in making a feast, they were not to act on the principle of asking friends, or men who could return it, but as saints called to reflect the character and will of God. Therefore it should be rather those that could make no present requital, looking to the day of recompense, on God's part, at the resurrection of the just.
On some one crying, out, What a blessed thing it must be to eat bread in the kingdom of God! the Lord shews the fact to be quite the contrary. For what is it that the Lord has been doing ever since? He is inviting men to eat bread, as it were, in His kingdom. But how do they treat the invitation of grace in the gospel? "A certain man made a great supper, and bade many: and sent his servant at supper time to say to them that were bidden, Come; for all things are now ready. And they all with one consent began to make excuse." Difference is observable. In Luke there is the omission of Matthew's first message. But, besides that, the excuses are gone into individually. One person says, "I have bought a piece of ground," which he must go and see; another man says he has bought five yoke of oxen, which he has to prove; another says he has married a wife, and on this account he cannot come. That is, we have the various decent plausible reasons that man gives for not submitting to the righteousness of God, for delaying his acceptance of the grace of God. So the servant comes and reports to his lord, who thereupon, being angry, says, "Go out quickly into the streets and lanes of the city, and bring in hither the poor, and the maimed, and the halt, and the blind. And the servant said, Lord, it is done as thou hast commanded, and yet there is room." Thus the persistence of grace, spite of just displeasure, is a characteristic and beautiful feature of this Gospel. The lord sent his servant thereupon to the highways and hedges (or enclosures), compelling them to come in, that, as it is said, "my house may be filled." Of this we hear nothing in Mark and Matthew. Indeed, Matthew gives us quite a different aspect from that which we have here. There the king is seen sending forth his armies, and burning up the city. How marvellous the wisdom of God, both in what He inserts, and in what He leaves out! Matthew adds also the judgment of the robeless guest at the end the man who had intruded, trusting to his work, or to any or all ordinances, or to both, but who had not put on Christ. This was peculiarly in its place, because this Gospel attests the dealings of grace which would take the place of Judaism, both externally and internally.
After this the Lord turns to the multitude. As He had shown the hindrance on man's part to coming, so He gravely warns those that were following Him in great numbers, and says, "If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple." The moral difficulties are most earnestly pressed upon those who were so ready to follow Him. Would it not be well and wise to sit down first and count the cost of building the tower completely? to consider whether, with the strength they had, they could cope with the vastly greater forces against them? Yet is it no question of mustering resources after a human way, but of forsaking all one's own, and so being Christ's disciple. There is such a thing as persons beginning well, and turning out good-for-nothing. "Salt is good;" but what if it becomes savourless? Wherewith shall it be seasoned? It is fit neither for land nor dunghill. They cast it out (or, it is cast out). "He that hath ears to hear, let him hear."
Then follows a profound and lovely unfolding of grace in Luke 15:1-32. In the close of the preceding chapter, the impossibility for man in flesh to be a disciple was made evident. Such was the great lesson there. But now we have the other side of grace. If man failed in attempting to be a disciple, how is it that God makes disciples? Thus we have the goodness of God to sinners brought out in three forms. First, the shepherd goes after the wandering sheep. This is very clearly grace as shown in Christ the Son of man, who came so seek and to save that which was lost.
The next parable is not of the Son who bears the burden; for there is but one Saviour, even Christ. Nevertheless the Spirit of God has a part, and a very blessed part, in the salvation of every soul brought to God. It is not as the Good Shepherd who lays down His life, nor as the Great Shepherd brought again from the dead through the blood of the everlasting covenant, laying the sheep once lost, now found, on His shoulders rejoicing, as it is presented in Luke only. What we have here is the figure of a woman that lights a candle, sweeps the house, and uses the most diligent exertion till the lost thing is found. Is not this in beautiful harmony with the function of the Spirit as to the sinner's soul? I cannot doubt this is seen in the woman's part (not, if I may so say, the prominent public actor, who is ever Christ the Son). The Spirit of God has rather the energetic agency, comparatively a hidden power, however visible the effects. It is not One that acts as a person outside; and this therefore was most fitly set forth by the woman inside the house. It is the Spirit of God working within, His private and searching operation in secret with the soul however truly also the candle of the word is made to shine. Need I remark that it is the Spirit of God's part to cause the word to bear on men as a shining light? It is not the Shepherd who lights the candle, but He bears the stray sheep on His shoulders. We know very well that the Word of God, the Shepherd, is looked at elsewhere as the true light Himself; but here it is a candle which is lit, and therefore quite inapplicable to the person of Christ. But it is precisely that which the Spirit of God does. The word of God preached, the Scripture, may have been read a hundred times before; but at the critical moment it is light to the lost one. Diligence is used in every way; and we know how the Spirit of God condescends to this, what painstaking He uses in pressing the word home upon the soul, and causing the light to shine exactly at the right moment where all before was dark. In this second parable, accordingly, it is not active going away from God which is seen; a condition worse than this appears a dead thing. It is the only parable of the three which presents the lost one not as a living creature, but as dead. From elsewhere we know that both are true; and the Spirit of God describes the sinner both as one alive in the world going away from God (Romans 3:1-31), and as dead in trespasses and sins. (Ephesians 2:1-22) We could not have a proper conception of the sinner's condition unless we had these two things. One parable was needed to shew us a sinner in the activities of life departing from God, and another to represent the sinner as dead in trespasses and sins. Here exactly these two things are seen, the lost sheep shewing the one, and the lost piece of money the other.
But in addition to these, there is a third parable necessary: not only a strayed sheep and a lost inanimate piece of money, but, besides, the moral history of man away from the presence of God, but coming to Him again. Hence the parable of the lost son takes man from the very first, traces the beginning of his departure, and the course and character of the misery of a sinner on the earth, his repentance, and his final peace and joy in the presence of God, who Himself rejoices as truly as man objects. Practically this is true of every sinner. In other words, there is a little yielding to sin, or desire to be independent of God a farther and farther depth of evil in every person's history. I do not believe that the chapter discusses the question of a backsliding child of God, though a common principle of course, here and there, would apply to the restoration of a soul. This is a favourite idea with some who are more familiar with doctrine than with Scripture. But there are objections, plain, stronger, and decisive, against understanding the chapter thus. First, it does not suit, in the smallest degree, what we have just seen in the parables of the lost sheep and the lost piece of money. Indeed it seems to me impossible to reconcile such an hypothesis even with the simple and repeated expression "lost." For who will affirm that, when a believer slips away from the Lord, he is lost? The most opposed to this, singular to say, is the very school most prone to that misinterpretation. When a man believes, he is a lost sheep found; he may not run well, no doubt; but never does Scripture view him afterwards as a lost sheep. Just so is it with the lost drachma; and so, finally, with the lost son. The prodigal was not, in the first instance, an unfaithful saint; he was not a backslider merely, but "lost" and "dead." Are these strong figures ever true of him who is a child of God by faith? They are precisely true, if we look at Adam and his sons, viewed as children of God in a certain sense. So the apostle Paul told the Athenians, that "we are also his offspring." Men are God's offspring, as having souls and moral responsibility to God, made after His similitude and His image here below. In these and other respects men differ from the beast, which is merely a living creature that perishes in death. A beast, of course, has a spirit (else it could not live); but still, when it dies, the spirit goes down to the earth, even as its body; whereas a man's spirit, when he dies (no matter as to this whether lost or saved), goes to God, as it came directly from God. There is that which, either for good or evil, is immortal in the spirit of man, as being breathed directly and immediately from God in the nostrils of man. Of the evangelists, Luke is the one who most speaks of man in this solemn light; and this, not only in his Gospel, but in the Acts of the Apostles. It connects itself with the large moral place he gives man, and as the object of divine grace. "A certain man had two sons;" so that man is looked at from his very origin. Then we have this son going farther and farther away from God, till he comes to the worst. There lay the opportunity of grace; and God brought him to a sense, not perhaps deep but most real, of his distance from God Himself as well as his degradation, sin, and ruin. It was by the pinch of want he was brought to himself by intense personal misery; for God deigns to use any and every method in His grace. It was shame, and suffering, and wretchedness, which led him to feel he was perishing; and wherefore? He looks back to Him from whom he departed, and grace puts into his heart the conviction of goodness in God as of badness in himself. This was really wrought in him; it was repentance repentance towards God; for it was not a mere conscientious judgment upon himself and his past conduct, but self-judgment from God, to which His goodness led Him led him by faith back to Himself "I will arise"' then he says, "and go to my father, and say, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and in thy sight."
However there is no need at present to dwell on this, which no doubt, is familiar to most here. This only it may be well to add, that we have here evidently a moral history; but then there is another side, and that is, the ways of Christ, and the Father's grace with the returned prodigal. Accordingly we have this in two parts: first, the reception of the prodigal; next, the joy and love of God the Father, and the prodigal's communion with it when he had been received. The father receives him with open arms, ordering the best robe, everything worthy of himself, to be brought out in honour of the prodigal. Afterwards, we see the son in the father's presence. It sets forth the joy of God reproducing itself in all that are there. It is not a sketch of what we shall taste when we go to heaven, but rather the spirit of heaven made good now on earth in the worship of those who are brought to God. It is not at all a question of what we were, save only to enhance that which grace gives and makes us. All turns on the excellent efficacy of Christ and the Father's own joy. This forms the material and the character of the communion, which is in principle Christian worship.
On the other hand, it was too true that the joy of grace is intolerable to the self-righteous man; he has no heart for God's goodness to the lost; and the scene of joyful communion with the Father provokes in him outrageous opposition to God's way and will. For he is not a self-righteous Christian, any more than the prodigal represents a believer overtaken in a fault. No Christian is contemplated as cherishing such feeling as these though I deny not that legalism involves the principle. But here it is one who would not come in. Every Christian is brought to God. He may not fully enjoy or understand his privileges, but he has a keen sense of his short-comings, and feels the need of divine mercy, and rejoices in it for others. Would the Lord describe the Christian as outside the presence of God? Accordingly, the elder brother here, I have no doubt, represents such as condemned Jesus for eating with sinners; the self-righteousness more particularly of the Jew, as indeed of any denier of grace.
The next chapter (Luke 16:1-31) opens out distinct and weighty instruction for the disciples, and this in reference to earthly things. First of all, our Lord explains here that the tenure of earthly things is now gone. It was no longer a question of holding a stewardship, but of giving it up. The steward was judged. Such was the truth manifest in Israel. Continuance in his old earthly position was now closed for the unjust steward; and for him it was simply a question of his prudence in present opportunities, with a view to the future. The unjust steward is made the vehicle of divine teaching to us how to make the future our aim. He, being, a prudent man, thinks of what is to become of him when he loses his stewardship; he looks before him; he thinks of the future; he is not engrossed in the present; he weighs and considers how he is to get on when he is no longer steward. So he makes a wise use of his master's goods. With people indebted to his master, he strikes off a great deal from this bill and a great deal from that, in order to make friends for himself. The Lord says this is the way we are to treat earthly things. Instead of tenaciously clutching at what you have not yet got, and keeping what you have not yet got, and keeping what you have, on the contrary, regard them as your master's goods, and treat them as the unjust steward in the parable. Rise above the unbelief which looks at money, or other present possessions, as if they were your own things. It is not so. What you have after an earthly sort now belongs to God. Show that you are above a Jewish, earthly, or human feeling about it. Act on the ground that all belongs to God, and thus secure the future.
This is the grand point of our Gospel, from the transfiguration more particularly, but indeed all through. It is the slight of present treasure on earth, because we look on to the unseen, eternal, and heavenly things. It is the faith of disciples acting on the prudence of the far-seeing steward, though of course hating his injustice. The principle to act on is this, that what nature calls my own is not my own, but God's. The best use to make of it is, treating it as His, to be as generous as may be, looking out against the future. It is easy to be generous with another's goods. This is the way of faith with what flesh counts its own things. Do not count them your own, but look at and treat them as God's. Be as generous as you please: He will not take it amiss. This is evidently what our Lord insists on; and here is the application to the disciples: "Make to yourselves friends of the mammon of unrighteousness, that when ye fail [or, it fails], they may receive you into everlasting habitations." You are not going to be on the earth long Other habitations are for ever. Sacrifice what nature calls its own, and would always hold fast if it could. Faith counts these things God's; freely sacrifice them, in view of what shall never pass away. Then he adds the pregnant lesson "He that is faithful in that which is least (after all it is only the least things now) is faithful also in much." Indeed there is more than this. It is not only the littleness of the present compared with the greatness of the future, but besides "If, therefore, ye have not been faithful in the unrighteous mammon, who will commit to your trust the true riches? And if ye have not been faithful in that which is another's (I leave out the word "man's", it is really God who is meant by it), who shall give you that which is your own?" What can be of its kind a more wonderfully divine touch than this? Exactly where man counts things his own, faith admits God's claim, another's; exactly where we might count things only God's, it sees one's own. Our own things are in heaven. He that is faithful in the little now will have much entrusted then; he that knows how to use the unrighteous mammon now, whose heart is not in it, who does not value it as his treasure, on the contrary, will have then the true riches. Such is the Lord's remarkable teaching in this parable.
Next, He gives us the rich man and Lazarus; which brings all out to view, the bright and dark side, in appearance and in reality, of the future as well as of the present. See one sumptuously faring every day, attired in fine linen and purple, a man living for self; near whose door lies another, suffering, loathsome, so abjectly in want and so friendless that the dogs do the service which man had no heart for. The scene changes suddenly. The beggar dies, and angels carry him into Abraham's bosom. The rich man died, and was buried (we hear not that Lazarus was); his funeral was as grand as his life; but in hell he lifted up his eyes, being tormented. There and then he sees the blessedness of him he had despised in presence of his own grandeur. It is the solemn light of eternity let into the world; it is God's estimate underneath outward appearances. The truth is for souls now. It is given not to think of in hades, but here; and yet we have, as most fitly winding up the tale, the earnest pleadings of the man who never before thought in his life seriously of eternal things. Hear now his anxiety for his brothers. There was no real love for souls, but a certain anxious desire for his brothers. At least one learns how real a thing his anguish was. But the Lord's comment is decisive. They had Moses and the prophets; if they heard not them, neither would they hear if one rose from the dead. What a truth, and how thoroughly about to be verified in His own rising from the dead, not to speak of another Lazarus raised in witness of His glory as the Son of God! Those who believed not Moses rejected Christ's resurrection, as they consulted to put Lazarus also to death, and sunk themselves under their own base lie (Matthew 28:11-15). even to this day.
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Kelly, William. "Commentary on Luke 10:25". Kelly Commentary on Books of the Bible. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/wkc/luke-10.html. 1860-1890.
the Third Week after Epiphany