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Verse-by-Verse Bible Commentary
Luke 2:13

And suddenly there appeared with the angel a multitude of the heavenly army of angels praising God and saying,
New American Standard Bible

Bible Study Resources

Concordances:
Nave's Topical Bible - Angel (a Spirit);   Gospel;   Jesus, the Christ;   Joy;   Mary;   Praise;   Shepherd;   Thompson Chain Reference - Angels;   Christ;   Events, Sudden;   Gratitude-Ingratitude;   Heavenly;   Joy;   Peace;   Praise;   Rest-Unrest;   Sudden Events;   Worship;   Torrey's Topical Textbook - Angels;   Praise;  
Dictionaries:
American Tract Society Bible Dictionary - Angel;   Shepherd;   Bridgeway Bible Dictionary - Bethlehem;   Praise;   Baker Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology - Angel;   Heaven, Heavens, Heavenlies;   Messiah;   Charles Buck Theological Dictionary - Jesus Christ;   Easton Bible Dictionary - Angel;   Jesus;   Songs;   Fausset Bible Dictionary - Bartholomew;   Heaven;   Jesus Christ;   Holman Bible Dictionary - Bethlehem;   Birth;   Joseph;   Luke, Gospel of;   Shepherd;   Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible - Host of Heaven;   Jesus Christ;   Lord of Hosts;   Manger;   Vision;   Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament - Angels;   Angels (2);   Blessing (2);   Heaven ;   Israel, Israelite;   Multitude;   Praise (2);   Reverence;   Morrish Bible Dictionary - Angels;   Joseph ;   Manger;   The Hawker's Poor Man's Concordance And Dictionary - Babe;   Gospel;   Peace;   People's Dictionary of the Bible - Angel;  
Encyclopedias:
International Standard Bible Encyclopedia - Angel;   Joseph, Husband of Mary;   Papyrus;   Kitto Biblical Cyclopedia - Angels;   The Jewish Encyclopedia - Jesus of Nazareth;  
Unselected Authors

Clarke's Commentary

Verse Luke 2:13. Suddenly there was with the angel, &c.] this multitude of the heavenly host had just now descended from on high, to honour the new-born Prince of peace, to give his parents the fullest conviction of his glory and excellence, and to teach the shepherds, who were about to be the first proclaimers of the Gospel, what to think and what to speak of him, who, while he appeared as a helpless infant, was the object of worship to the angels of God.

Bibliographical Information
Clarke, Adam. "Commentary on Luke 2:13". "The Adam Clarke Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/​commentaries/​acc/​luke-2.html. 1832.

Bridgeway Bible Commentary

8. Shepherds visit the stable (Luke 2:1-20)

Joseph and Mary lived in Nazareth in the north of Palestine (see Luke 1:26-27), but the town to which they belonged according to their ancestry was Bethlehem, the birthplace of their forefather David. When the government issued an order that all people were to return to their ancestral town for a census (probably for taxation purposes), Joseph and Mary made the journey to Bethlehem. The town was so overcrowded with travellers returning for the census that they could find nowhere to stay except in a stable with animals. There Mary gave birth to Jesus (Luke 2:1-7).

The first people to be told the news that Israel’s Messiah had been born were a group of shepherds in the fields near Bethlehem. God’s gift of such a Saviour was evidence of his good pleasure towards humankind and his desire that people everywhere be brought into a relationship of peace with him (Luke 2:8-14). The shepherds hurried to visit the new-born child, then spread the news of their wonderful discovery (Luke 2:15-20).

Bibliographical Information
Flemming, Donald C. "Commentary on Luke 2:13". "Fleming's Bridgeway Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/​commentaries/​bbc/​luke-2.html. 2005.

Coffman's Commentaries on the Bible

And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace among men in whom he is well pleased.

A multitude of the heavenly host … A host of angels is represented in the Old Testament as forming the bodyguard of Deity (Psalms 103:21; Daniel 7:10). As Boles said, "This praise was a proclamation of the newborn King and a confirmation of the glorious tidings to the shepherds, and through them to all people."H. Leo Boles, Commentary on the Gospel of Luke (Nashville: The Gospel Advocate Company, 1940), p. 55. Angels shouted for joy at creation (Job 38:7), served at the giving of the Mosaic law (Deuteronomy 33:2; Acts 7:53; Galatians 3:19); and now, with greater wonder than ever, and with even greater joy, they celebrated the entry of God into human life. "Peace" was proclaimed by angels on the night in which the Prince of Peace was born.

Glory to God in the highest … is the so-called "Gloria in Excelsis Deo," another of the famous Latin hymns of Christendom. The variations of the renditions of "peace to men of good will," "peace on earth; good will to men," or as here, are of no importance, although this version is preferable, due to the fact of its keeping in view the truth that it is not "good will to men" who are wicked, but "good will to men" who honor God, which was promised and proclaimed by the angelic host.

Did the angels sing on this occasion? "The morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy" (Job 38:7) in creation; and there can be no doubt, really, that they did so here. However, there is no New Testament word to confirm the comment that "The choir which so suddenly joined the angelic messenger sang heavenly music about the Prince of Heaven."Charles L. Childers, op. cit., p. 448.

Bibliographical Information
Coffman, James Burton. "Commentary on Luke 2:13". "Coffman's Commentaries on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/​commentaries/​bcc/​luke-2.html. Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. 1983-1999.

Calvin's Commentary on the Bible

13.And suddenly there was present with the angel a multitude An exhibition of divine splendor had been already made in the person of a single angel. But God determined to adorn his own Son in a still more illustrious manner, This was done to confirm our faith as truly as that of the shepherds. Among men, the testimony of “two or three witnesses ” (Matthew 18:16) is sufficient to remove all doubt. But here is a heavenly host, with one consent and one voice bearing testimony to the Son of God. What then would be our obstinacy, if we refused to join with the choir of angels, in singing the praises of our salvation, which is in Christ? Hence we infer, how abominable in the sight of God must unbelief be, which disturbs this delightful harmony between heaven and earth. Again, we are convicted of more than brutal stupidity, if our faith and our zeal to praise God are not inflamed by the song which the angels, with the view of supplying us with the matter of our praise, sang in full harmony. Still farther, by this example of heavenly melody, the Lord intended to recommend to us the unity of faith, and to exhort us to join with one consent in singing his praises on earth.

Bibliographical Information
Calvin, John. "Commentary on Luke 2:13". "Calvin's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/​commentaries/​cal/​luke-2.html. 1840-57.

Smith's Bible Commentary

Now it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus, that all the world should be taxed. (And the taxing was first made when Cyrenius was governor of Syra.) And all went to be taxed, every one to his own city. And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judea, and unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, (because he was of the house and the lineage of David,) to be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, who at this point was great with child. And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should deliver her child. And she brought forth her first born son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn ( Luke 2:1-7 ).

"And it came to pass in those days..." Those were the days when the Roman Empire was being formed. Originally the Roman Empire was ruled by several generals, but gradually the power began more and more to be invested into one man, until finally Gaius Octavius gained control. He took the name Caesar from his uncle by adoption. And the name Augustus was given to him by the Roman senate when he gained power. When finally he was able to gain control and one man began to rule over Rome, the senate determined to give him some title, and they first suggested that they call him the king of Rome. And he rejected that title. Then they said, "We'll call you the dictator of Rome." And he didn't like that. And so finally they came up this title Augustus, which has as its background, though, of the god's. He said, "I like that." And so he was called Caesar Augustus. This man was the most powerful man on the face of the earth.

"It came to pass in those days, that there went forth a decree from Caesar Augustus, that all the world should be taxed, and every man went to be taxed." Think of the power. Here is a guy sitting in Rome. Gradually he has gained this position of power, until he is able to issue a decree, and immediately the whole world must bow. There is no one to appeal to. One man makes a decree; the whole world must bow to that decree. For Rome had bludgeoned the world into submission.

It came to pass in those days that the temple of Janice was closed. Janice was the god of war. And whenever the Roman troops were out in the fields to battle, the temple gates would be open that the people might come in and pray for victory for their troops. But the gates were closed, for there was peace. For sixteen years the gates had been closed.

You say, "Oh what a beautiful time for the Prince of peace to be born." But think again. There was peace only because Rome was such a powerful ruling force that no man dared to say that his life was his own. Every man was a slave to Rome. World ruled by one man. This is what Caesar had sought to obtain. And he gave a decree.

It is interesting that in Egypt we have actually found records of these censuses that were made by the Roman government. They were made every fourteen years. And we have found the records of those censuses that were taken in Egypt every fourteen years.

In a little province of Rome, far off from Rome and the Roman capital, in a little city called Nazareth, of which hardly anybody had heard of it, there was a young couple, they were both of the house of David. And when the decree came from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be taxed--enrolled in the census, actually for taxation--they, too, had to submit to this Augustus Caesar, and in order for them to enroll in the census, they had to go back to their family home, city of Bethlehem. And interestingly enough, in Egypt there are records that they have discovered where it said that the people had to return to their family homes for the census to be taken, completely confirming this account in the scriptures.

And so it was necessary that at this point of pregnancy, which becomes quite miserable, as in the final days of waiting the birth of the child, so many things are happening within as far as the hormones are concerned, and there are so many physical responses and reactions, and yet, because this fellow in Rome has given a decree, Mary and Joseph, not withstanding her pregnancy, have to make this long journey. Long in those days, because of the mode of transportation. Something like seventy miles or so from Nazareth to Bethlehem, just to fulfill the commandment, just in obedience to the commandment of this fellow in Rome.

"And so it came to pass, that Joseph went up out of the city of Nazareth, there in Galilee, clear on down to Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, to be enrolled, or taxed with Mary his espoused wife being great with child. And while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered. And she brought forth her first born son, wrapped Him in swaddling clothes, laid Him in a manger. There was no room in the inn."

Interesting...if you were God, where would you have your Son to be born? Interesting that when God came to visit the earth, there was no room for Him in the inn. Sort of a precursor of His entire life, I guess. For even today there are people who refuse to make room for Him. They have room and time for just about everything but Him. It seems that He is still consigned to a position outside of the general society. But there is something more to this, that's looking at it from a human standpoint. Let's go up a bit and look down. Interesting what you can see when you draw back a bit, and get a little broader prospective.

Seven hundred years before this event took place, before this young couple made their journey from Nazareth to Bethlehem, at this critical point of pregnancy. Seven hundred years earlier a prophet had said, "And thou Bethlehem, though you are little among the provinces in Judea, yet out of thee shall come He whose goings forth has been from everlasting" ( Micah 5:2 ). The prophet had predicted that Bethlehem would be the birthplace of the Messiah.

So when I read in the text, "It came to pass in those days that Caesar Augustus gave a decree that all the world shall be taxed," and Joseph had to journey to Bethlehem in order to be taxed, I realize that because the Word of God had said that the Messiah must be born in Bethlehem, that it isn't really that little man sitting on the throne in Rome that is really in control of things, he is only a puppet. He has not gained what he desired--world rulership--but that child that is being born in Bethlehem is the one who will ultimately experience true hegemony.

You see, God had a problem. Mary and Joseph were clear up in Nazareth, and yet, the prophecy said the child had to be born in Bethlehem. Now no couple in their right mind are going to make that journey all the way from Nazareth to Bethlehem at this point of pregnancy. So God has to somehow get them down to Bethlehem. How are we going to work out this problem? God begins to pull the strings, and Caesar Augustus says, "Let's enroll all the world for taxing, let it be done." The decree of Caesar. "Yes, sir." Here he thinks he is in control, but in reality he is only responding in order that God's purposes, which had been declared seven hundred years earlier, might be fulfilled. That Mary and Joseph might get to Bethlehem before the birth of that child.

There is a lot of aloneness expressed in this. She brought forth her firstborn son and wrapped Him in swaddling clothes, and laid Him in a manger. Evidently she had no help at the birth of the child. Usually there was a midwife to take the child and to wrap it in its swaddling clothes and to take care of it. But no help. And so she herself--you remember now, sixteen and a half, seventeen years old, giving birth to a child in a manger, a stable. The place where they kept the animals. But that child is the fulfillment of God's promise. For He is God, who has come to visit men, to redeem him.

Oh, what a story.

Now there were in the same country shepherds who were abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flocks by night ( Luke 2:8 ).

Just a point--this means that He couldn't have been born on the twenty-fifth of December, because it gets too cold for the shepherds to stay out in the field in the winter month. And so the twenty-fifth of December was borrowed from the pagan holiday of Saturnalia, and more and more it is becoming a pagan holiday, which it originated as. I wonder how long we as Christians can continue to even observe the sham of December 25th.

And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, the glory of the Lord shone round about them; and they were sore afraid ( Luke 2:9 ).

It is thought that the shepherds were perhaps the temple shepherds, because they offered a lamb every morning and every evening, and had to be without spot and blemish. And so, in order that they would have enough lambs for the sacrifices, they had their own temple shepherds who kept the lambs for the temple sacrifices. And it is thought by many that these shepherds were those who were watching those lambs that were to be used for sacrifices in the temple. And if so, of course significant, because they were the first ones to see the Lamb of God who was to take away the sins of the world.

And so they were out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. When the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them, and they were so afraid.

And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people ( Luke 2:10 ).

Good tidings, great joy, all people.

For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour [the Messiah], the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; you will find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly hosts praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men. And so it came to pass, as the angels were gone away from them into the heavens, the shepherds said one to another, Let's go now even to Bethlehem, and see this thing which has come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us ( Luke 2:11-15 ).

The angel of the Lord appeared to these shepherds. I think the angel was Gabriel. I don't have any proof for that, just a strong hunch. Because we already know he can't keep a secret, and we already know that he had quite a bit to do with making the arrangements for the birth of the child. And now that his job is pretty much complete, the child is there, it's safely born, wrapped in swaddling clothes, his job is over. The child had his first cry and gone asleep there in the manger, and I finished my task. It's over. The most exciting event in the history of the world has just taken place. God has taken on a human form that He might visit men to redeem him.

Oh, what news everybody ought to know. But nobody is awake. All the lights are out; the candles are all blown out all over Bethlehem. And so as Gabriel is observing the whole scene, he sees a flicker of a fire out towards Jerusalem. All right. And he goes over and finally got someone awake. "Hey, guys, great news! Today in the city of David, He is there, the Savior, Christ the Lord, the Messiah, you'll find Him. He is wrapped in swaddling clothes, and He is lying in an manger."

And then, of course, there were other angels that suddenly appear, as they were praising God saying, "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth...now the possibility of peace, and good will toward men."

Exciting scenes. I never tire of them.

And so they came with haste, and they found Mary and Joseph, and the babe. And when they had seen it, they made known abroad the saying which was told them concerning this child. And all they that heard it wondered at those things which were told them by the shepherds. But Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart. And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told unto them. And when the eight days were accomplished for the circumcising of the child, his name was called Jesus ( Luke 2:16-21 ),

They usually named the boy on the day of the circumcision, which was always eight days after his birth, and it was such an important right, that even if it came on the Sabbath, they would go ahead and circumcise the child on the eighth day. It was one of the rare things that they would be allowed to do on even the Sabbath day.

The called His name Jehoshua,

which was so named of the angel before he was conceived in the womb. And when the days of her purification according to the law of Moses were accomplished ( Luke 2:21-22 ),

She had a son; she had to go through forty days of purification. If she had a daughter, she would have gone through eighty days of purification. Sort of a punishment for having a girl. Forty days of purification were accomplished.

then they brought him to Jerusalem, to present him to the Lord ( Luke 2:22 );

Now after the forty days, then they were to offer a sacrifice unto the Lord. A lamb and a dove. Or if they were poor, instead of the lamb, they could offer two turtledoves.

(For it was written in the law of the Lord, Every male that opens the womb should be called holy onto the Lord;) ( Luke 2:23 )

Actually, the Lord claimed the firstborn. But it came to the place were the people could redeem the firstborn, and God finally chose the Levi's. And they would then pay the Levi's for the firstborn, redeeming their firstborn for being committed for serving the Lord. But they brought the firstborn, holy to the Lord.

And that to offer the sacrifice according to the law of the Lord, A pair of turtledoves ( Luke 2:24 ),

That was for the poor people, and so it would indicate that Mary and Joseph were poor. Which to me is interesting, because Jesus perhaps grew up in a home filled with poverty. And he knows what it was to have those kind of struggles that we have, as we think about the payment of the bills, and where we're going to get this and that and the other, and thus, He can identify with us in our concerns for our needs.

And, behold, there was a man in Jerusalem, whose name was Simeon; and he was a just and a devout man, who was waiting for the consolation of Israel [the peace]: and the Holy Spirit was upon him. And it was revealed unto him by the Holy Spirit, that he should not die, until he had seen the Lord's Messiah ( Luke 2:25-26 ).

Now here is a man who walked with God. An godly older man, and God said, "Look, you're not going to die until you have had the opportunity to see the Messiah."

And so he was lead by the Spirit at that time into the temple: and when the parents of Jesus brought him in, in order that they might fulfill the customs of the law, he took him up in his arms, and he blessed God, and he said, Oh Lord, now let your servant depart in peace, according to your word: for my eyes have seen your salvation, which you have prepared before the face of all people; A light to lighten [who?] the Gentiles, and the glory of thy people Israel ( Luke 2:27-32 ).

So here in the prophecy it was to be a light, not just to Israel alone, but to the world, to the gentiles.

And Joseph and his mother marvelled at those things which were spoken of the child. And Simeon blessed them, and said to Mary his mother, Behold, this child is set for the fall in the rising again of many in Israel; and for a sign which shall be spoken against; (Yea, a sword shall pierce through thy own soul also;) that the thoughts of many hearts shall be revealed ( Luke 2:33-35 ).

And so he is telling Mary, "Look, this child is set for great blessings to the people, but it's going to pierce as a sword through your own soul." Preparing her for the agony and the pain that she would experience, as she would watch one day this child, hanging on the cross.

Now there was a lady by the name of Anna, who was a prophetess, she was the daughter Phanuel, she was of the tribe of Asher: she was of great age, [actually she was eighty-four years old] and she lived with the same husband from the seven years after her period ( Luke 2:36 );

When a girl began her menstrual period, seven years after she had began her menstrual period, she was married, and she lived with that same man all this time, that's what it is saying. The way it is written it's a little hard to understand. She had lived with a husband seven years from her virginity. And so that is from the time that she had began her menstrual period, seven years from that time, she got married and lived with this man the whole while. She was now eighty-four years old.

and she departed not from the temple, but served God with fastings, and prayers night and day ( Luke 2:37 ).

One of those beautiful, godly saints.

And she coming in that instant, gave thanks likewise to the Lord, and spoke of him to all that looked for redemption in Jerusalem. Now when they had performed all of the things according to the law of the Lord, they returned to Galilee, to their own city of Nazareth. And the child grew, and waxed strong in spirit, and was filled with wisdom; and the grace of God was upon him. Now his parents went to Jerusalem every year at the feast of the Passover. And when he was twelve years old, they went up to Jerusalem after the custom to the feast ( Luke 2:38-42 ).

Probably the first time He was able to go to the feast, because He was now twelve and getting time for His bar mitzvah.

And so when they had fulfilled the days, as they were returning ( Luke 2:43 ),

That is, the days of the feast of the Passover, they went every year; they were a devout couple as they had fulfilled the days, they returned.

and the child Jesus tarried behind in Jerusalem; and Joseph and his mother did not know of it ( Luke 2:43 ).

Now hundreds of people would travel together. And usually the women would take of first because they traveled slower. And the men would take off later, and would always catch up with them by night; they make camp for the evening. And so they took of for Nazareth with all of their friends and the families, and all. And when they started making camp at night, and Joseph probably caught up with them, he said, "Where is Jesus?" And she said, "Well, isn't He with you?" "No, I thought He was with you." And so they looked around. They inquired from all of the relatives, "No, we haven't seen Him." And so they each thought that He was probably in the company of people.

and when they sought for him among the kinsfolk and their acquaintances, no one had seen Him. So when they did not find him, they returned to Jerusalem, looking for Him ( Luke 2:44-45 ).

Now here is a little twelve-year-old fellow. He thinks, "Oh, my, my parents are gone," and he be all concerned and worried.

And it came to pass, after three days they found him ( Luke 2:46 ),

They didn't find Him when they first got back. And when they found Him, he was in the temple.

sitting in the midst of the doctors, as he was listening to them and asking them questions. And all of those that heard him were astonished at his understanding and his answers. And when they saw him, they were amazed: and his mother said unto him, Son, why have you dealt with us like this? behold, your father and I have sought you sorrowing ( Luke 2:46-48 ).

Notice, "your father and I," referring to Joseph. He is quick to correct her.

And he said unto them, How is it that you were looking for me? did you not know that I must be about my Father's business? ( Luke 2:49 )

He didn't recognize Joseph as His father at this point. "I must be about my Father's business."

Now these are the first recorded words of Jesus. They are important, because they express the purpose of His existence. What is it? "I must be about my Father's business."

Now I hear a lot of people say, "Oh, I know I ought to be doing that." That doesn't carry much force. Because we ought to be doing a lot of things we don't do. "Oh, I know I should, I really should." That doesn't carry much force.

But when a person says, "I must." Listen, because now you are getting close to the real heart of the life. "I must be about my Father's business." That was the burden of the life of Jesus, to do the Father's will. "I must be about my Father's business."

And they did not understand the saying that he spoke to them. But he went down with them, and they came to Nazareth, and he was subject unto them: but his mother kept all of these sayings in her heart. And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, [grew up strong, big fellow] and in favor with God and man ( Luke 2:50-52 ).

So in the first two chapters get the background now, and in chapter 3 we begin with the ministry of John the Baptist, and that of Jesus.

May the Lord bless and increase your knowledge and understanding of His truth, as we have this opportunity of sharing together in God's Word, growing, and learning. And may we also be increased in wisdom and in favor with God, and with man. "



Bibliographical Information
Smith, Charles Ward. "Commentary on Luke 2:13". "Smith's Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/​commentaries/​csc/​luke-2.html. 2014.

Dr. Constable's Expository Notes

D. The birth and early life of Jesus ch. 2

Luke followed the same pattern of events with Jesus’ birth and early life as he did for those of John. His purpose was to compare and contrast these two important individuals.

Bibliographical Information
Constable, Thomas. DD. "Commentary on Luke 2:13". "Dr. Constable's Expository Notes". https://www.studylight.org/​commentaries/​dcc/​luke-2.html. 2012.

Dr. Constable's Expository Notes

2. The announcement to the shepherds 2:8-20

There is great theological significance in this familiar passage. It comes through mainly in the angel’s words and in the symbolism of what happened.

"In Luke 2:8-14 we have a third annunciation scene, which follows the same pattern as the previous two: the appearance of an angel, a response of fear, the command not to fear, the announcement of a birth that brings joy. In this case, however, the announcement is not to a parent of the child to be born, for this birth is not just a family affair. Indeed, the angel stresses that he brings a message of ’great joy which shall be for all the people’ (Luke 2:10)." [Note: Tannehill, 1:38.]

Bibliographical Information
Constable, Thomas. DD. "Commentary on Luke 2:13". "Dr. Constable's Expository Notes". https://www.studylight.org/​commentaries/​dcc/​luke-2.html. 2012.

Dr. Constable's Expository Notes

Frequently God waits to act a long time but then acts suddenly, as here (cf. Mark 13:36; Acts 2:2; Acts 9:3; 1 Thessalonians 5:3). The sudden appearance of the other angels represents God’s sudden action in providing a Savior. The term "heavenly host" derives from the Old Testament and here refers to a band of angels (cf. 1 Kings 22:19; 2 Chronicles 33:3; 2 Chronicles 33:5; Jeremiah 8:2; Jeremiah 19:13; Zephaniah 1:5).

". . . when a child was born the local musicians congregated at the house to greet him with simple music." [Note: William Barclay, The Gospel of Luke, p. 17.]

Bibliographical Information
Constable, Thomas. DD. "Commentary on Luke 2:13". "Dr. Constable's Expository Notes". https://www.studylight.org/​commentaries/​dcc/​luke-2.html. 2012.

Barclay's Daily Study Bible

Chapter 2

JOURNEY TO BETHLEHEM ( Luke 2:1-7 )

2:1-7 In these days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that a census should be taken of all the world. The census first took place when Quirinius was governor of Syria; and everyone went to enroll himself, each man to his own town. So Joseph went up from Galilee, from the town of Nazareth, to Judaea, to David's town, which is called Bethlehem, because he belonged to the house and the line of David, to enrol himself with Mary who was betrothed to him and she was with child. When they arrived there her time to bear the child was completed; and she bore her first-born son and wrapped him in swaddling clothes and laid him in a manger because there was no room for them in the place where they had meant to lodge.

In the Roman Empire periodical censuses were taken with the double object of assessing taxation and of discovering those who were liable for compulsory military service. The Jews were exempt from military service, and, therefore, in Palestine a census would be predominantly for taxation purposes. Regarding these censuses, we have definite information as to what happened in Egypt; and almost certainly what happened in Egypt happened in Syria, too, and Judaea was part of the province of Syria. The information we have comes from actual census documents written on papyrus and then discovered in the dust-heaps of Egyptian towns and villages and in the sands of the desert.

Such censuses were taken every fourteen years. And from A.D. 20 until about A.D. 270 we possess actual documents from every census taken. If the fourteen-year cycle held good in Syria this census must have been in 8 B.C. and that was the year in which Jesus was born. It may be that Luke has made one slight mistake. Quirinius did not actually become governor of Syria until A.D. 6; but he held an official post previously in those regions from 10 B.C. until 7 B.C. and it was during that first period that this census must have been taken.

Critics used to question the fact that every man had to go to his own city to be enrolled; but here is an actual government edict from Egypt:

"Gaius Vibius Maximus, Prefect of Egypt orders: 'Seeing that the

time has come for the house-to-house census, it is necessary to

compel all those who for any cause whatsoever are residing

outside their districts to return to their own homes, that they

may both carry out the regular order of the census, and may also

diligently attend to the cultivation of their allotments.'"

If that was the case in Egypt, it may well be that in Judaea, where the old tribal ancestries still held good, men had to go to the headquarters of their tribe. Here is an instance where further knowledge has shown the accuracy of the New Testament.

The journey from Nazareth to Bethlehem was 80 miles. The accommodation for travellers was most primitive. The eastern khan was like a series of stalls opening off a common courtyard. Travellers brought their own food; all that the innkeeper provided was fodder for the animals and a fire to cook. The town was crowded and there was no room for Joseph and Mary. So it was in the common courtyard that Mary's child was born. Swaddling clothes consisted of a square of cloth with a long bandage-like strip coming diagonally off from one corner. The child was first wrapped in the square of cloth and then the long strip was wound round and round about him. The word translated "manger" means a place where animals feed; and therefore it can be either the stable or the manger which is meant.

That there was no room in the inn was symbolic of what was to happen to Jesus. The only place where there was room for him was on a cross. He sought an entry to the over-crowded hearts of men; he could not find it; and still his search--and his rejection--go on.

SHEPHERDS AND ANGELS ( Luke 2:8-20 )

2:8-20 In this country there were shepherds who were in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them and the glory of the Lord shone round about them and they were much afraid. The angel said to them. "Do not be afraid; for--look you--I am bringing you good news of great joy, which will be to every people, for today a Saviour has been born for you, in David's town, who is Christ the Lord. You will recognize him by this sign. You will find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes and laid in a manger." And suddenly with the angel there was a crowd of heaven's host, praising God and saying, "In the highest heights glory to God; and on earth peace to the men whose welfare he ever seeks." When the angels had left them and gone away to heaven, the shepherds said to each other, "Come! Let us go across, to Bethlehem and let us see this thing which has happened which the Lord has made known to us." So they hurried on and they discovered Mary and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger. When they had seen him they told everyone about the word which had been spoken to them about this child; and all who heard were amazed at what was told them by the shepherds. But Mary stored up these things in her memory and in her heart kept wondering what they meant. So the shepherds returned glorifying and praising God for all that they had seen just as it had been told to them.

It is a wonderful thing that the story should tell that the first announcement of God came to some shepherds. Shepherds were despised by the orthodox good people of the day. They were quite unable to keep the details of the ceremonial law; they could not observe all the meticulous hand-washings and rules and regulations. Their flocks made far too constant demands on them; and so the orthodox looked down on them. It was to simple men of the fields that God's message first came.

But these were in all likelihood very special shepherds. We have already seen how in the Temple, morning and evening, an unblemished lamb was offered as a sacrifice to God. To see that the supply of perfect offerings was always available the Temple authorities had their own private sheep flocks; and we know that these flocks were pastured near Bethlehem. It is most likely that these shepherds were in charge of the flocks from which the Temple offerings were chosen. It is a lovely thought that the shepherds who looked after the Temple lambs were the first to see the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.

We have already seen that when a boy was born, the local musicians congregated at the house to greet him with simple music. Jesus was born in a stable in Bethlehem and therefore that ceremony could not be carried out. It is a lovely thought that the minstrelsy of heaven took the place of the minstrelsy of earth, and angels sang the songs for Jesus that the earthly singers could not sing.

All through these readings we must have been thinking of the rough simplicity of the birth of the Son of God. We might have expected that, if he had to be born into this world at all, it would be in a palace or a mansion. There was a European monarch who worried his court by often disappearing and walking incognito amongst his people. When he was asked not to do so for security's sake, he answered, "I cannot rule my people unless I know how they live." It is the great thought of the Christian faith that we have a God who knows the life we live because he too lived it and claimed no special advantage over common men.

THE ANCIENT CEREMONIES ARE OBSERVED ( Luke 2:21-24 )

2:21-24 When the eight days necessarily prior to circumcision had elapsed, he was called by the name of Jesus, the name by which he had been called by the angel before he had been conceived in the womb. When the time which, according to the law of Moses, must precede the ceremony of purification had elapsed, they brought him up to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord (in accordance with the regulation in the Lord's law, "Every male that opens the womb shall be called holy to the Lord") and to make the sacrifice which the regulation in the Lord's law lays down, that is, a pair of doves or two young pigeons.

In this passage we see Jesus undergoing three ancient ceremonies which every Jewish boy had to undergo.

(i) Circumcision. Every Jewish boy was circumcised on the eighth day after his birth. So sacred was that ceremony that it could be carried out even on a Sabbath when the law forbade almost every other act which was not absolutely essential; and on that day a boy received his name.

(ii) The Redemption of the First-born. According to the law ( Exodus 13:2) every firstborn male. both of human beings and of cattle, was sacred to God. That law may have been a recognition of the gracious power of God in giving human life, or it may even have been a relic of the day when children were sacrificed Lo the gods. Clearly if it had been carried out literally life would have been disrupted. There was therefore a ceremony called the Redemption of the Firstborn ( Numbers 18:16). It is laid down that for the sum of five shekels--approximately 75 pence--parents could, as it were, buy back their son from God. The sum had to be paid to the priests. It could not be paid sooner than thirty-one days after the birth of the child and it might not be long delayed after that.

(iii) The Purification after Childbirth. When a woman had borne a child, if it was a boy, she was unclean for forty days, if it was a girl, for eighty days. She could go about her household and her daily business but she could not enter the Temple or share in any religious ceremony ( Leviticus 12:1-8). At the end of that time she had to bring to the Temple a lamb for a burnt offering and a young pigeon for a sin offering. That was a somewhat expensive sacrifice, and so the law laid it down ( Leviticus 12:8) that if she could not afford the lamb she might bring another pigeon. The offering of the two pigeons instead of the lamb and the pigeon was technically called The Offering of the Poor. It was the offering of the poor which Mary brought. Again we see that it was into an ordinary home that Jesus was born, a home where there were no luxuries, a home where every penny had to be looked at twice, a home where the members of the family knew all about the difficulties of making a living and the haunting insecurity of life. When life is worrying for us we must remember that Jesus knew what the difficulties of making ends meet can be.

These three ceremonies are strange old ceremonies; but all three have at the back of them the conviction that a child is a gift of God. The Stoics used to say that a child was not given to a parent but only lent. Of all God's gifts there is none for which we shall be so answerable as the gift of a child.

A DREAM REALIZED ( Luke 2:25-35 )

2:25-35 Now--look you--there was a man in Jerusalem called Simeon. This man was good and pious. He was waiting for the comforting of Israel and the Holy Spirit was upon him. He had received a message from the Holy Spirit that he would not see death until he had seen the Lord's Anointed One. So he came in the Spirit to the Temple precincts. When his parents brought in the child Jesus, to do regarding him the customary ceremonies laid down by the law, he took him into his arms and blessed God and said, "Now O Lord, as you said, let your servant depart in peace, because my eyes have seen your instrument of salvation, which you have prepared before all the people, a light to bring your revelation to the Gentiles, and the glory of your people Israel." His father and mother were amazed at what was said about him. Simeon blessed them and said to Mary his mother, "Look you, this child is appointed to be the cause whereby many in Israel will fall and many rise and for a sign which will meet with much opposition. As for you--a sword will pierce your soul--and all this will happen that the inner thoughts of many hearts may be revealed."

There was no Jew who did not regard his own nation as the chosen people. But the Jews saw quite clearly that by human means their nation could never attain to the supreme world greatness which they believed their destiny involved. By far the greater number of them believed that because the Jews were the chosen people they were bound some day to become masters of the world and lords of all the nations. To bring in that day some believed that some great, celestial champion would descend upon the earth; some believed that there would arise another king of David's line and that all the old glories would revive; some believed that God himself would break directly into history by supernatural means. But in contrast to all that there were some few people who were known as the Quiet in the Land. They had no dreams of violence and of power and of armies with banners; they believed in a life of constant prayer and quiet watchfulness until God should come. All their lives they waited quietly and patiently upon God. Simeon was like that; in prayer, in worship, in humble and faithful expectation he was waiting for the day when God would comfort his people. God had promised him through the Holy Spirit that his life would not end before he had seen God's own Anointed King. In the baby Jesus he recognized that King and was glad. Now he was ready to depart in peace and his words have become the Nunc Dimittis, another of the great and precious hymns of the Church.

In Luke 2:34 Simeon gives a kind of summary of the work and fate of Jesus.

(i) He will be the cause whereby many will fall. This is a strange and a hard saying but it is true. It is not so much God who judges a man; a man judges himself; and his judgment is his reaction to Jesus Christ. If, when he is confronted with that goodness and that loveliness, his heart runs out in answering love, he is within the Kingdom. If, when so confronted, he remains coldly unmoved or actively hostile, he is condemned. There is a great refusal just as there is a great acceptance.

(ii) He will be the cause whereby many will rise. Long ago Seneca said that what men needed above all was a hand let down to lift them up. It is the hand of Jesus which lifts a man out of the old life and into the new, out of the sin into the goodness, out of the shame into the glory.

(iii) He will meet with much opposition. Towards Jesus Christ there can be no neutrality. We either surrender to him or are at war with him. And it is the tragedy of life that our pride often keeps us from making that surrender which leads to victory.

A LOVELY OLD AGE ( Luke 2:36-40 )

2:36-40 There was a prophetess called Anna. She was the daughter of Phanuel and she belonged to the tribe of Asher. She was far advanced in years. She had lived with her husband ever since seven years after she came to womanhood; and now she was a widow of eighty-four years of age. She never left the Temple and day and night she worshipped with fastings and with prayers. At that very time she came up and she began to give thanks to God and she kept speaking about him to all those who were waiting expectantly for the deliverance of Jerusalem. When they had completed everything which the Lord's law lays down they returned to Galilee to their own town of Nazareth. And the child grew bigger and stronger and he was filled with wisdom, and God's grace was on him.

Anna, too, was one of the Quiet in the Land. We know nothing about her except what these verses tell but even in this brief compass Luke has drawn us a complete character sketch.

(i) Anna was a widow. She had known sorrow and she had not grown bitter. Sorrow can do one of two things to us. It can make us hard, bitter, resentful, rebellious against God. Or it can make us kinder, softer, more sympathetic. It can despoil us of our faith; or it can root faith ever deeper. It all depends how we think of God. If we think of him as a tyrant we will resent him. If we think of him as Father we too will be sure that

A Father's hand will never cause

His child a needless tear.

(ii) She was eighty-four years of age. She was old and she had never ceased to hope. Age can take away the bloom and the strength of our bodies; but age can do worse--the years can take away the life of our hearts until the hopes that once we cherished die and we become dully content and grimly resigned to things as they are. Again it all depends on how we think of God. If we think of him as distant and detached we may well despair; but if we think of him as intimately connected with life, as having his hand on the helm, we too will be sure that the best is yet to be and the years will never kill our hope.

How then was Anna such as she was?

(i) She never ceased to worship. She spent her life in God's house with God's people. God gave us his church to be our mother in the faith. We rob ourselves of a priceless treasure when we neglect to be one with his worshipping people.

(ii) She never ceased to pray. Public worship is great; but private worship is also great. As someone has truly said, "They pray best together who first pray alone." The years had left Anna without bitterness and in unshakable hope because day by day she kept her contact with him who is the source of strength and in whose strength our weakness is made perfect.

THE DAWNING REALIZATION ( Luke 2:41-52 Continued)

2:41-52 Every year his parents used to go to Jerusalem for the feast of the Passover. When he was twelve years of age, they went up according to the custom of the feast, and when they had completed the days of the feast and returned home, the child Jesus stayed on in Jerusalem. His parents were not aware of this. They thought he was in the caravan and when they had gone a day's journey they looked for him amongst their kinsfolk and acquaintances. When they did not find him they turned back to Jerusalem, looking for him all the time. After three days they found him in the Temple precincts, sitting in the middle of the rabbis, listening to them and asking them questions. All who were listening were astonished at his understanding and at his answers. When they saw him they were amazed. His mother said to him, "Child, why did you do this to us? Look you, your father and I have been looking for you and we have been very worried." He said to them, "Why were You looking for me? Did you not know that I was bound to be in my Father's house?" They did not understand the meaning of what he said to them. So he came home with them and went to Nazareth and he was obedient to them. His mother kept all these things in her heart. And Jesus grew wise and grew bigger and increased in favour with God and man.

This is a supremely important passage in the gospel story. it was laid down by law that every adult male Jew who lived within fifteen miles of Jerusalem must attend the Passover. In point of fact it was the aim of every Jew in all the world at least once in a lifetime to attend that feast.

A Jewish boy became a man when he was twelve years of age. Then he became a son of the law and had to take the obligations of the law upon him. So at twelve Jesus for the first time went to the Passover. We may well imagine how the holy city and the Temple and the sacred ritual fascinated him.

When his parents returned he lingered behind. It was not through carelessness that they did not miss him. Usually the women in a caravan started out much earlier than the men for they travelled more slowly. The men started later and travelled faster and the two sections would not meet until the evening encampment was reached. It was Jesus' first Passover. No doubt Joseph thought he was with Mary, Mary thought that he was with Joseph and not till the evening camp did they miss him.

They returned to Jerusalem to search for him. For the Passover season it was the custom for the Sanhedrin to meet in public in the Temple court to discuss, in the presence of all who would listen, religious and theological questions. It was there they found Jesus. We must not think of it as a scene where a precocious boy was dominating a crowd of his seniors. Hearing and asking questions is the regular Jewish phrase for a student learning from his teachers. Jesus was listening to the discussions and eagerly searching for knowledge like an avid student.

And now comes one of the key passages in the life of Jesus. "Your father and I," said Mary, "have been looking for you anxiously." "Did you not know," said Jesus, "that I must be in my Father's house"? See how very gently but very definitely Jesus takes the name "father" from Joseph and gives it to God. At some time Jesus must have discovered his own unique relationship to God. He cannot have known it when he was a child in the manger and a baby at his mother's breast or he would be a monstrosity. As the years went on he must have had thoughts; and then at this first Passover, with manhood dawning, there came in a sudden blaze of realization the consciousness that he was in a unique sense the Son of God.

Here we have the story of the day when Jesus discovered who he was. And mark this--the discovery did not make him proud. It did not make him look down on his humble parents, the gentle Mary and the hard-working Joseph. He went home and he was obedient to them. The fact that he was God's Son made him the perfect son of his human parents. The real man of God does not despise earthly ties; just because he is God's man he discharges human duties with supreme fidelity.

-Barclay's Daily Study Bible (NT)

Bibliographical Information
Barclay, William. "Commentary on Luke 2:13". "William Barclay's Daily Study Bible". https://www.studylight.org/​commentaries/​dsb/​luke-2.html. 1956-1959.

Gill's Exposition of the Whole Bible

And suddenly there was with the angel,.... That brought the tidings of Christ's birth to the shepherds: a multitude of the heavenly host: who being caused to fly swiftly, were at once with him, by his side, and about him; and which was a further confirmation of the truth of his message to them: these were angels who were called an host, or army, the militia of heaven, the ministers of God, that wait upon him, and do his pleasure; and are sent forth to minister to his people, and encamp about them, preserve, and defend them; see Genesis 32:1 These are styled an heavenly host, because they dwell in heaven; and to distinguish them from hosts and armies on earth; and said to be

a multitude, for the angels are innumerable; there are thousands, ten thousands, and ten thousand times ten thousand of them: it may be rendered "the multitude", and may intend the whole company of angels, who were all of them together to sing the praises of God, and glorify him at the birth of the incarnate Saviour, as well as to adore him; since it is said, "when he bringeth in the first begotten into the world, he saith, and let all the angels of God worship him", Hebrews 1:6, and these were

praising God; on account of the birth of Christ, and the redemption that was to be obtained by him, for elect men; which shows their friendly disposition to them, and how much they rejoice at their spiritual and eternal welfare; see Luke 15:10; And thus, as at the laying of the foundation of the earth, these "morning stars sang together, and all these sons of God shouted for joy", Job 38:7 they did the same when the foundation of man's salvation was laid in the incarnation of the Son of God;

and saying, as follows.

Bibliographical Information
Gill, John. "Commentary on Luke 2:13". "Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible". https://www.studylight.org/​commentaries/​geb/​luke-2.html. 1999.

Henry's Complete Commentary on the Bible

Angels Appear to the Shepherds; Visit of the Shepherds to Christ.


      8 And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.   9 And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid.   10 And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.   11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.   12 And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.   13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying,   14 Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.   15 And it came to pass, as the angels were gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another, Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us.   16 And they came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger.   17 And when they had seen it, they made known abroad the saying which was told them concerning this child.   18 And all they that heard it wondered at those things which were told them by the shepherds.   19 But Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart.   20 And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told unto them.

      The meanest circumstances of Christ's humiliation were all along attended with some discoveries of his glory, to balance them, and take off the offence of them; for even when he humbled himself God did in some measure exalt him and give him earnests of his future exaltation. When we saw him wrapped in swaddling clothes and laid in a manger, we were tempted to say, "Surely this cannot be the Son of God." But see his birth attended, as it is here, with a choir of angels, and we shall say, "Surely this cannot be the Son of God." But see his birth attended, as it is here, with a choir of angels, and we shall say, "Surely it can be no other than the Son of God, concerning whom it was said, when he was brought into the world, Let all the angels of God worship him," Hebrews 1:6.

      We had in Matthew an account of the notice given of the arrival of this ambassador, this prince from heaven, to the wise men, who were Gentiles, by a star; here we are told of the notice given of it to the shepherds, who were Jews, by an angel: to each God chose to speak in the language they were most conversant with.

      I. See here how the shepherds were employed; they were abiding in the fields adjoining to Bethlehem, and keeping watch over their flocks by night,Luke 2:8; Luke 2:8. The angel was not sent to the chief priests or the elders (they were not prepared to receive these tidings), but to a company of poor shepherds, who were like Jacob, plain men dwelling in tents, not like Esau, cunning hunters. The patriarchs were shepherds. Moses and David particularly were called from keeping sheep to rule God's people; and by this instance God would show that he had still a favour for those of that innocent employment. Tidings were brought to Moses of the deliverance of Israel out of Egypt, when he was keeping sheep, and to these shepherds, who, it is probable, were devout pious men, the tidings were brought of a greater salvation. Observe, 1. They were not sleeping in their beds, when this news was brought them (though many had very acceptable intelligence from heaven in slumbering upon the bed), but abiding in the fields, and watching. Those that would hear from God must stir up themselves. They were broad awake, and therefore could not be deceived in what they saw and heard, so as those may be who are half asleep. 2. They were employed now, not in acts of devotion, but in the business of their calling; they were keeping watch over their flock, to secure them from thieves and beasts of prey, it being probably in the summer time, when they kept their cattle out all night, as we do now, and did not house them. Note, We are not out of the way of divine visits when we are sensibly employed in an honest calling, and abide with God in it.

      II. How they were surprised with the appearance of the angel (Luke 2:9; Luke 2:9): Behold, an angel of the Lord came upon them, of a sudden, epeste--stood over them; most probably, in the air over their heads, as coming immediately from heaven. We read it, the angel, as if it were the same that appeared once and again in the chapter before, the angel Gabriel, that was caused to fly swiftly; but that is not certain. The angel's coming upon them intimates that they little thought of such a thing, or expected it; for it is in a preventing way that gracious visits are made us from heaven, or ever we are aware. That they might be sure it was an angel from heaven, they saw and heard the glory of the Lord round about them; such as made the night as bright as day, such a glory as used to attend God's appearance, a heavenly glory, or an exceedingly great glory, such as they could not bear the dazzling lustre of. This made them sore afraid, put them into great consternation, as fearing some evil tidings. While we are conscious to ourselves of so much guilt, we have reason to fear lest every express from heaven should be a messenger of wrath.

      III. What the message was which the angel had to deliver to the shepherds, Luke 2:10-12; Luke 2:10-12. 1. He gives a supersedeas to their fears: "Fear not, for we have nothing to say to you that needs be a terror to you; you need not fear your enemies, and should not fear your friends." 2. He furnishes them with abundant matter for joy: "Behold, I evangelize to you great joy; I solemnly declare it, and you have reason to bid it welcome, for it shall bring joy to all people, and not to the people of the Jews only; that unto you is born this day, at this time, a Saviour, the Saviour that has been so long expected, which is Christ the Lord, in the city of David," Luke 2:11; Luke 2:11. Jesus is the Christ, the Messiah, the Anointed; he is the Lord, Lord of all; he is a sovereign prince; nay, he is God, for the Lord, in the Old Testament, answers to Jehovah. He is a Saviour, and he will be a Saviour to those only that accept him for their Lord. "The Saviour is born, he is born this day; and, since it is matter of great joy to all people, it is not to be kept secret, you may proclaim it, may tell it to whom you please. He is born in the place where it was foretold he should be born, in the city of David; and he is born to you; to you Jews he is sent in the first place, to bless you, to you shepherds, though poor and mean in the world." This refers to Isaiah 9:6, Unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given. To you men, not to us angels; he took not on him the nature of angels. This is matter of joy indeed to all people, great joy. Long-looked for is come at last. Let heaven and earth rejoice before this Lord, for he cometh. 3. He gives them a sign for the confirming of their faith in this matter. "How shall we find out this child in Bethlehem, which is now full of the descendants from David?" "You will find him by this token: he is lying in a manger, where surely never any new-born infant was laid before." They expected to be told, "You shall find him, though a babe, dressed up in robes, and lying in the best house in the town, lying in state, with a numerous train of attendants in rich liveries." "No, you will find him wrapped in swaddling clothes, and laid in a manger." When Christ was here upon earth, he distinguished himself, and made himself remarkable, by nothing so much as the instances of his humiliation.

      IV. The angels' doxology to God, and congratulations of men, upon this solemn occasion, Luke 2:13; Luke 2:14. The message was no sooner delivered by one angel (that was sufficient to go express) than suddenly there was with that angel a multitude of the heavenly hosts; sufficient, we may be sure, to make a chorus, that were heard by the shepherds, praising God; and certainly their song was not like that (Revelation 14:3) which no man could learn, for it was designed that we should all learn it. 1. Let God have the honour of this work: Glory to God in the highest. God's good-will to men, manifested in sending the Messiah, redounds very much to his praise; and angels in the highest heavens, though not immediately interested in it themselves, will celebrate it to his honour, Revelation 5:11; Revelation 5:12. Glory to God, whose kindness and love designed this favour, and whose wisdom contrived it in such a way as that one divine attribute should not be glorified at the expense of another, but the honour of all effectually secured and advanced. Other works of God are for his glory, but the redemption of the world is for his glory in the highest. 2. Let men have the joy of it: On earth peace, good-will toward men. God's good-will in sending the Messiah introduced peace in this lower world, slew the enmity that sin had raised between God and man, and resettled a peaceable correspondence. If God be at peace with us, all peace results from it: peace of conscience, peace with angels, peace between Jew and Gentile. Peace is here put for all good, all that good which flows to us from the incarnation of Christ. All the good we have, or hope, is owing to God's good-will; and, if we have the comfort of it, he must have the glory of it. Nor must any peace, and good, be expected in a way inconsistent with the glory of God; therefore not in any way of sin, nor in any way but by a Mediator. Here was the peace proclaimed with great solemnity; whoever will, let them come and take the benefit of it. It is on earth peace, to men of good-will (so some copies read it), en anthropois eudokias; to men who have a good-will to God, and are willing to be reconciled; or to men whom God has a good-will to, though vessels of his mercy. See how well affected the angels are to man, and to his welfare and happiness; how well pleased they were in the incarnation of the Son of God, though he passed by their nature; and ought not we much more to be affected with it? This is a faithful saying, attested by an innumerable company of angels, and well worthy of all acceptation, That the good-will of God toward men is glory to God in the highest, and peace on the earth.

      V. The visit which the shepherds made to the new-born Saviour. 1. They consulted about it, Luke 2:15; Luke 2:15. While the angels were singing their hymn, they could attend to that only; but, when they were gone away from them into heaven (for angels, when they appeared, never made any long stay, but returned as soon as they had despatched their business), the shepherds said one to another, Let us go to Bethlehem. Note, When extraordinary messages from the upper world are no more to be expected, we must set ourselves to improve the advantages we have for the confirming of our faith, and the keeping up of our communion with God in this lower world. And it is no reflection upon the testimony of angels, no nor upon a divine testimony itself, to get it corroborated by observation and experience. But observe, These shepherds do not speak doubtfully, "Let us go see whether it be so or no;" but with assurance, Let us go see this thing which is come to pass; for what room was left to doubt of it, when the Lord had thus made it known to them? The word spoken by angels was stedfast and unquestionably true. 2. They immediately made the visit, Luke 2:16; Luke 2:16. They lost no time, but came with haste to the place, which, probably, the angel directed them to more particularly than is recorded ("Go to the stable of such an inn"); and there they found Mary and Joseph, and the babe lying in the manger. The poverty and meanness in which they found Christ the Lord were no shock to their faith, who themselves knew what it was to live a life of comfortable communion with God in very poor and mean circumstances. We have reason to think that the shepherds told Joseph and Mary of the vision of the angels they had seen, and the song of the angels they had heard, which was a great encouragement to them, more than if a visit had been made them by the best ladies in the town. And it is probable that Joseph and Mary told the shepherds what visions they had had concerning the child; and so, by communicating their experiences to each other, they greatly strengthened one another's faith.

      VI. The care which the shepherds took to spread the report of this (Luke 2:17; Luke 2:17): When they had seen it, though they saw nothing in the child that should induce them to believe that he was Christ the Lord, yet the circumstances, how mean soever they were, agreeing with the sign that the angel had given them, they were abundantly satisfied; and as the lepers argued (2 Kings 12:9, This being a day of good tidings, we dare not hold our peace), so they made known abroad the whole story of what was told them, both by the angels, and by Joseph and Mary, concerning this child, that he was the Saviour, even Christ the Lord, that in him there is peace on earth, and that he was conceived by the power of the Holy Ghost, and born of a virgin. This they told every body, and agreed in their testimony concerning it. And now if, when he is in the world, the world knows him not, it is their own fault, for they have sufficient notice given them. What impression did it make upon people? Why truly, All they that heard it wondered at those things which were told them by the shepherds,Luke 2:18; Luke 2:18. The shepherds were plain, downright, honest men, and they could not suspect them guilty of any design to impose upon them; what they had said therefore was likely to be true, and, if true, they could not but wonder at it, that the Messiah should be born in a stable and not in a palace, that angels should bring news of it to poor shepherds and not to the chief priests. They wondered, but never enquired any further about the Saviour, their duty to him, or advantages by him, but let the thing drop as a nine days' wonder. O the amazing stupidity of the men of that generation! Justly were the things which belonged to their peace hid from their eyes, when they thus wilfully shut their eyes against them.

      VII. The use which those made of these things, who did believe them. 1. The virgin Mary made them the matter of her private meditation. She said little, but kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart,Luke 2:19; Luke 2:19. She laid the evidences together, and kept them in reserve, to be compared with the discoveries that should afterwards be made her. As she had silently left it to God to clear up her virtue, when that was suspected, so she silently leaves it to him to publish her honour, now when it was veiled; and it is satisfaction enough to find that, if no one else takes notice of the birth of her child, angels do. Note, The truths of Christ are worth keeping; and the way to keep them safe is to ponder them. Meditation is the best help to memory. 2. The shepherds made them the matter of their more public praises. If others were not affected with those things, yet they themselves were (Luke 2:20; Luke 2:20): They returned, glorifying and praising God, in concurrence with the holy angels. If others would not regard the report they made to them, God would accept the thanksgivings they offered to him. They praised God for what they had heard from the angel, and for what they had seen, the babe in the manger, and just then in the swaddling, when they came in, as it had been spoken to them. They thanked God that they had seen Christ, though in the depth of his humiliation. As afterwards the cross of Christ, so now his manger, was to some foolishness and a stumbling-block, but others saw in it, and admired, and praised, the wisdom of God and the power of God.

Bibliographical Information
Henry, Matthew. "Complete Commentary on Luke 2:13". "Henry's Complete Commentary on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/​commentaries/​mhm/​luke-2.html. 1706.

Kelly Commentary on Books of the Bible

The preface of Luke's gospel is as instructive as the introduction of either of the two preceding gospels. It is obvious to any serious reader that we enter a totally different province, though all be equally divine; but here we have a stronger prominence given to human motive and feeling. To one who needed to learn more of Jesus, writes another godly man, inspired of God, but without drawing particular attention to the fact of inspiration, as if this were a doubtful matter; but, on the contrary, assuming, as all Scripture does, without express statement, that the written word is the word of God. The purpose is, to set before a fellow Christian a man of rank, but a disciple an account, full, accurate, and orderly, of the Lord Jesus, such as one might give that had thorough acquaintance with all the truth of the matter, but in fact such as none could give who was not inspired of God for the purpose. He lets us know that there were many of these memoirs formed on the tradition of those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and servants of the word. These works have departed; they were human. They were, no doubt, well-intentioned; at least there is here no question of heretics perverting the truth, but of men attempting in their own wisdom to set forth that which only God was competent rightly to make known.

At the same time Luke, the writer of this gospel, apprises us of his motives, instead of presenting a bare and needless statement of the revelation he had received. "It seemed good to me also," etc., is in contrast with these many that had taken it in hand. They had done the work in their fashion, he after another sort, as he proceeds next to explain. Clearly he does not refer to Matthew or Mark, but to accounts that were then handed about among Christians. It could not be otherwise than that many would essay to publish a relation of facts so weighty and engrossing, which, if they had not themselves seen, They had gathered from eye-witnesses conversant with the Lord. These memoirs were floating about. The Holy Ghost distinguishes the writer of this Gospel from these men quite as much as joins him with them. He states that they depended upon those who from the beginning were eye-witnesses and ministers of the word. He says nothing of the kind about himself, as has been rashly inferred from the phrase "to me also," etc., but, as is evident, proceeds to give a wholly different source for his own handling of the matter. In short, he does not intimate that his account of these things was derived from eye-witnesses, yet speaks of his thorough acquaintance with all from the very first, without telling us how he came by it. As for the others, they had taken in hand to "set forth in order a declaration of these things which are most surely believed among us, even as they delivered them unto us, which from the beginning were eye-witnesses." He does not impute falsehood; he affirms that their histories were derived from the traditions of men who saw, heard, and waited on Christ here below; but he attributes no divine character to these numerous writers, and intimates the need of a surer warrant for the faith and instruction of disciples. This he claims to give in his gospel. His own qualification for the task was, as one that had perfect understanding of all things from the very first, to write unto Theophilus in order that he "might know the certainty of those things wherein he had been instructed."

In that expression, "from the very first," he lets us into a difference between his own gospel and the memoirs current among Christians. "From the very first", means that it was an account from the origin or outset, and is fairly rendered in our version. So it is that we find in Luke that he traces things with great fulness, and lays before the reader the circumstances that preceded and that accompanied the whole life of our Lord Jesus Christ up to His ascension to heaven.

Now, he does not enter more than other inspired writers do into an assertion or explanation of his inspired character, which Scripture assumes everywhere. He does not tell us how it was he acquired his perfect understanding of all he communicates. It is not the way of inspired writers to do either. They speak "with authority," even as our Lord taught "with authority;" "not as the scribes" or tradition-mongers. He claims indeed the fullest acquaintance with the subject, and the statement of which would not suit any other evangelist but Luke. It is one who, though inspired like the rest, was drawing his friend and brother with the cords of a man. Inspiration does not as a rule in the least degree interfere with the individuality of the man; still less would it here where Luke is writing of the Son of God as man, born of a woman, and this to another man. Hence he brings out in the preface his own thoughts, feelings, materials for the work, and the blessed aim contemplated. This is the only gospel addressed to a man. This naturally fits, and lets us into the character of the gospel. We are here about to see our Lord Jesus preeminently set forth as man, man most really as such not so much the Messiah, though, of course, that He is; nor even the minister; but the man. Undoubtedly, even as man He is the Son of God, and so He is called in the very first chapter of this gospel. The Son of God He was, as born into the world; not only Son of God before He entered the world, but Son of God from everlasting. That holy thing which should be born of the virgin was to be called the Son of God. Such was His title in that point of view, as having, a body prepared Him, born of a woman, even of the Virgin Mary. Clearly, therefore, this indicates, from the beginning of the gospel, the predominance given to the human side of the Lord Jesus here. What was manifest in Jesus, in every work and in every word of His, displayed what was divine; but He was none the less man; and He is here viewed as such in everything. Hence, therefore, it was of the deepest interest to have the circumstances unerringly marked out in which this wondrous man entered the world, and walked up and down here. The Spirit of God deigns by Luke to open the whole scene, from those that surrounded the Lord with the various occasions that appealed to His heart, till His ascension. But there is another reason also for the peculiar beginning of St. Luke. Thus, as he of the evangelists most of all approaches the great apostle of the Gentiles, of whom to a certain extent he was the companion, as we know from the Acts of the Apostles, counted by the apostle one of his fellow-labourers, too, we find him acting, by the Holy Ghost's guidance, upon that which was the great distinguishing character of the apostle Paul's service and testimony "To the Jew first, and also to the Gentile."

Accordingly our gospel, although it is essentially Gentile, as it was addressed to a Gentile and written by a Gentile, begins with an announcement that is more Jewish than any other of the four gospels. It was precisely so with Paul in his service. He began with the Jew. Very soon the Jews proceeded to reject the word, and prove themselves unworthy of eternal life. Paul turned to the Gentiles. The same thing is true of our gospel, so akin to the apostle's writings, that some of the early Christian writers imagined that this was the meaning of an expression of the apostle Paul, far better understood of late. I refer to it now, not because of any truth in that notion, for the remark is totally false; but at the same time, it shows that there was a kind of feeling of the truth underneath the error. They used to imagine that Paul meant the gospel of Luke when he said, " My [or our] Gospel." Happily most of my hearers understand the true bearing of the phrase enough to detect so singular an error; but still it does show that even the dullest of men could not avoid perceiving that there was a tone of thought, and current of feeling, in the gospel of Luke which harmonized very largely with the apostle Paul's testimony. Yet it was not at all as bringing out what the apostle Paul calls his gospel, or "the mystery of the gospel," etc.; but certainly it was the great moral groundwork through which it lay at any rate, which most thoroughly accorded with, and prepared for it. Hence it is, after presenting Christ in the richest grace to the godly Jewish remnant, that we have first and fully given by Luke the account of God's bringing the first-begotten Son into this world, having it in His purpose to put in relation with Him the whole human race, and most especially preparing the way for His grand designs. and counsels with regard to the Gentiles. Nevertheless, first of all, He justifies Himself in His ways, and shows that He was ready to accomplish every promise that He had made to the Jews.

What we have, therefore, in the first two chapters of Luke, is God's vindication in the Lord Jesus presented as the One in whom He was ready to make good all His old pledges to Israel. Hence the whole scene agrees with this feeling on God's part towards Israel. A priest is seen righteous according to the law, bus his wife without that offspring which the Jews looked for as the mark of God's favour towards them. Now God was visiting the earth in grace; and, as Zechariah ministered in the priest's office, an angel, even there a stranger, except for purposes of pity towards the miserable betimes (John 5:1-47), but long unseen as the witness of the glorious ways of God, announced to him the birth of a son, the forerunner of the Messiah. The unbelief even of the godly in Israel was apparent in the conduct of Zacharias; and God reproved it with inflicted dumbness, but failed not in His own grace. This, however, was but the harbinger of better things; and the angel of the Lord was despatched on a second errand, and re-announces that most ancient revelation of a fallen paradise, that mightiest promise of God, which stands out from all others to the fathers and in the prophets, and which, indeed, was to compass within itself the accomplishment of all the promises of God. He makes known to the virgin Mary a birth no way connected with nature, and yet the birth of a real man; for that man was the Son of the Highest a man to sit upon the throne, so long vacant, of His father David.

Such was the word. I need not say that there were truths still more blessed and profounder than this of the throne of Israel, accompanying that announcement, on which it is impossible to dwell now, if we are tonight to traverse any considerable part of our gospel. Suffice it to say, we have thus all the proofs of God's favour to Israel, and faithfulness to His promises, both in the forerunner of the Messiah, and in the birth of the Messiah Himself. Then follows the lovely burst of praise from the mother of our Lord, and soon after, when the tongue of him that was smitten dumb was loosed, Zacharias speaks, first of all to praise the Lord for His infinite grace.

Luke 2:1-52 pursues the same grand truths: only there is more at hand. The opening verses bring this before us. God was good to Israel, and was displaying His faithfulness accordingly to, not the law, but His promises. How truly the people were in bondage. Hostile Gentiles had the upper hand. The last great empire predicted in Daniel was then in power. "It came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus, that all the world should be taxed [or enrolled]. (And this taxing [or enrolment] was first made when Cyrenius was governor of Syria.) And all went to be taxed, every one to his own city." Such was the thought of the world, of the imperial power of that day, the great Roman beast or empire. But if there was a decree from Caesar, there was a most gracious purpose in God. Caesar might indulge his pride, and count the world his own, in the exaggerated style of human ambition and self-complacency; but God was now manifesting what He was, and oh, what a contrast. The Son of God, by this very deed, providentially enters the world at the promised place, Bethlehem. He enters it after a different sort from what we could have ever drawn from the first gospel, where we have Bethlehem still more significant]y mentioned: at any rate, prophecy is cited on the occasion as to the necessity of its being there. That information even the scribes could render to the Magi who came to adore. Here there is nothing of the sort. The Son of God is found not even in an inn, but in the manger, where the poor parents of the Saviour laid him. Every mark follows of the reality of a human birth, and of a human being; but it was Christ the Lord, the witness of the saving, healing, forgiving, blessing grace of God. Not only is His cross thus significant, but His birth, the very place and circumstances being all most evidently prepared. Nor this only; for although we see not here Magi from the East, with their royal gifts, their gold, and frankincense, and myrrh, laid at the feet of the infant king of the Jews, here we have, what I am persuaded was yet more beautiful morally, angelic converse; and suddenly, with the angel (for heaven is not so far off), the choirs of heaven praising God, while the shepherds of earth kept their flocks in the path of humble duty.

Impossible, without ruining, to invert these things! Thus you could not transplant the scene of the Magi into Luke, neither would the introduction of the shepherds, thus visited by the grace of God by night, be so proper in Matthew. What a tale this last told of where God's heart is! How evident from the very first it was, that to the poor the gospel was preached, and how thoroughly in keeping with this Gospel! and we might truly affirm the same I will not say of the glory that Saul saw and taught but most certainly of the grace of God which Paul preached also. This does not hinder that still there is a testimony to Israel; although sundry signs and tokens, the very introduction of the Gentile power, and the moral features of the case, also make it evident that there is something more than a question of Israel and their King. Nevertheless, there meets us here the fullest witness of grace to Israel. So even in the words, somewhat weakened in our version, where it is said, "Fear not: for, behold, I bring you glad tidings of great joy, which shall be," not to all people, but "to all the people." This passage does not go beyond Israel. Manifestly this is entirely confirmed by the context, even if one did not know a word of that language, which, of course, proves what I am now advancing. In the next verse it is, "For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord." It is evident that, as far as this goes, He is introduced strictly as the One who was to bring in His own person the accomplishment of the promises to Israel.

The angels go farther when they say, "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will in men." It is not exactly good will toward men, which is here the point. The word expresses God's good will and complacency in men; it does not say exact]y in man, as if it were only in Christ, though surely this was true in the very highest sense. For the Son of God became, not an angel, but really a man, according to Hebrews ii. It was not the cause of angels that He undertook, or was interested about: it was men He took up. But here appears a good deal more: it is God's delight in man now that His Son is become a man, and witnessed by that astonishing truth. His delight in men, because His Son becoming a man was the first immediate personal step in that which was to introduce His righteousness in justifying sinful men by the cross and resurrection of Christ, which is at hand. Thereby in virtue of that ever-accepted person, and the efficacy of His work of redemption, He could have also the selfsame delight in those that were once guilty sinners, now the objects of His grace for ever. But here, at any rate, the person, and the condition of the person too, by whom all this blessing was to be procured and given, were before His eyes. By the condition of the person is meant, of course, that the Son of God was now incarnate, which even in itself was no small proof, as well as pledge, of the complacency of God in man.

Afterwards Jesus is shown us circumcised, the very offering that accompanied the act proving also still more the earthly circumstances of His parents their deep poverty.

Then comes the affecting scene in the temple, where the aged Simon lifts up the child in his arms; for it had been "revealed unto him by the Holy Ghost, that he should not see death before he had seen the Lord's Christ." So he goes by the Spirit into the temple at this very time. "And when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for him after the custom of the law, then took he him up in his arms, and blessed God, and said, Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace, according to thy word: for mine eyes have seen thy salvation." It is evident that the whole tone is not what we may call formal; it was not that the work was done; but undoubtedly there was virtually in Christ "God's salvation" a most suitable truth and phrase for the companion of him whose fundamental point was "God's righteousness." The Spirit might not yet say "God's righteousness", but He could say "God's salvation." It was the person of the Saviour, viewed according to the prophetic Spirit, who would, in due time, make good everything as to God and man. "Thy salvation which thou hast prepared before the face of all people: a light to lighten", or rather to reveal "the Gentiles;" a light for the revelation of the Gentiles- "and the glory of thy people Israel." I do not regard the former as a millennial description. In the millennium the order would be exactly inverse; for then God will assuredly assign to Israel the first place, and to the Gentiles the second. The Spirit gives Simeon a little advance upon the terms of the prophetic testimony in the Old Testament. The babe, Christ, was a light, he says, for the revelation of the Gentiles, and for the glory of His people Israel. The revelation of the Gentiles, that which was about to follow full soon, would be the effect of the rejection of Christ. The Gentiles, instead of lying hidden as they had been in the Old Testament times, unnoticed in the dealings of God, and instead of being put into a subordinate place to that of Israel, as they will be by and by in the millennium, were, quite distinctly from both, now to come into prominence, as no doubt the glory of the people Israel will follow in that day. Here, indeed, we see the millennial state; But the light to lighten the Gentiles far more fully finds its answer in the remarkable place which the Gentiles enter now by the excision of the Jewish branches of the olive tree. This, I think, is confirmed by what we find afterwards. Simeon does not pretend to bless the child; but when he blesses the parents, he says to Mary, "Behold, this child is set for the fall and rising again of many in Israel." It is plain that the Spirit gave him to set forth the Messiah cut off, and the effect of it, "for a sign," he adds, "that shall be spoken against. Yea, a sword shall pierce through thy own soul also" a word that was accomplished in the feelings to Mary at the cross of the Lord Jesus. But there is more: Christ's shame acts as a moral probe, as it is said here- "That the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed." May I not ask, where could we find such language, except in Luke? Tell me, if you can, any other of the evangelists, whom it would suit for a moment?

Nor is it only to these words I would call your attention, as eminently characteristic of our gospel. Take the mighty grace of God revealed in Christ, on the one hand; on the other, take the dealing with the hearts of men as the result of the cross morally. These are the two main peculiarities which distinguish the writings of Luke. Accordingly also we find that, the note of grace being once struck in the heart of Simeon, as well as of those immediately connected with our Lord Jesus in His birth, it extends itself widely, for joy cannot be stifled or hid. So the good news must flow from one to another, and God takes care that Anna the prophetess should come in; for here we have the revival, not only of angel visits, but of the prophetic Spirit in Israel. "And there was one Anna, a prophetess, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Aser: she was of a great age," and had waited long in faith, but, as ever, was not disappointed. "She was a widow of about fourscore and four years, which departed not from the temple, but served God with fastings and prayers night and day. And she coming in that instant," etc. How good the Lord is in thus ordering circumstances, no less than preparing the heart! "She, coming in that instant, gave thanks likewise unto the Lord, and spake of Him to all them that looked for redemption in Jerusalem."

Nor is this all the Spirit gives here. The chapter closes with a picture of our Saviour that is admirably consonant to this gospel, and to no other; for what gospel would it suit to speak of our Lord as a youth? to give us a moral sketch of this wondrous One, now no longer the babe of Bethlehem, but in the lowly company of Mary and Joseph, grown up to the age of twelve years? He is found, according to the order of the law, duly with His parents in Jerusalem for the great feast; but He is there as one to whom the word of God was most precious, and who had more understanding than His teachers. For Him, viewed as man, there was not only the growth of the body, but also development in every other way that became man, always expanding, yet always perfect, as truly man as God. "He increased in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and man." But there is more than this; for the inspired writer lets us know how He was reproached by His parents, who could but little understand what it was for Him even then to find His meat in doing the will of God. As they journeyed from Jerusalem, missing Him, they return, and find Him in the midst of the doctors. A delicate place it might seem for a youth, but in Him how beautiful was all! and what propriety! "Both hearing them", it is said, "and asking them questions." Even the Saviour, though full of divine knowledge, does not take the place now of teaching with authority never, of course, as the scribes. But even though consciously Son and the Lord God, still was He the child Jesus; and as became One who deigned to be such, in the midst of those older in years, though they knew infinitely less than Himself, there was the sweetest and most comely lowliness. "Both hearing them, and asking them questions." What grace there was in the questions of Jesus! what infinite wisdom in the presence of the darkness of these famous teachers! Still, which of these jealous rabbis could discern the smallest departure from exquisite and absolute propriety? Nor this only; for we are told that "his mother said unto him, Son, why hast thou thus dealt with us? behold, thy father and I have sought thee sorrowing. And He said unto them, How is it that ye sought me? wist ye not that I must be about my Father's business?" The secret thus early comes out. He waited for nothing. He needed no voice from heaven to tell Him that He was the Son of God; He needed no sign of the Holy Ghost descending to assure Him of His glory or mission. These were, no doubt, seen and heard; and it was all right in its season, and important in its place; but I repeat that He needed nothing to impart the consciousness that He was the Son of the Father. He knew it intrinsically, and entirely independent of a revelation from another.

There was, no doubt, that divine gift imparted to Him afterwards, when the Holy Ghost sealed the man Christ Jesus. "Him hath God the Father sealed," as it is said, and surely quite right. But the notable fact here is, that at this early age, when a youth twelve years old, He has the distinct consciousness that He was the Son, as no one else was or could be. At the same time He returns with His parents, and is as dutiful in obedience to them as if He were only an unblemished child of man their child. The Son of the Father He was, as really as the Son of man. "He came to Nazareth, and was subject unto them." It is the divine person, but the perfect man, perfect in every relation suitable for such a person. Both these truths, therefore, prove themselves to be true, not more in doctrine than in fact.

Then a new scene opens in Luke 3:1-38. "In the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar" (for men soon pass away, and slight is the trace left by the course of earth's great ones), "Pontius Pilate being governor of Judaea, and Herod being tetrarch of Galilee, and his brother Philip tetrarch of Ituraea and of the region of Trachonitis, and Lysanias the tetrarch of Abilene, Annas and Caiaphas being the high priests, the word of God came unto John the son of Zacharias in the wilderness." How strange is this state of things! Not only have we the chief power of the world passed into another hand; not only do we see the Edomite a political confusion in the land, but a religious Babel too. What a departure from all divine order! Who ever heard of two high priests before? Such were the facts when the manifestation of the Christ drew near, "Annas and Caiaphas being, the high priests." No changes in the world, nor abasement in the people of the Lord, nor strange conjunction of the priests, nor mapping, out of the land by the stranger, would interfere with the purposes of grace; which, on the contrary, loves to take up men and things at their worst, and shows what God is towards the needy. So John the Baptist goes forth here, not as we traced him in the gospels of Matthew and Mark, but with a special character stamped upon him akin to the design of Luke. "He came into all the country about Jordan, preaching the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins." Here we see the remarkable largeness of his testimony. "Every valley shall be filled," he says, "and every mountain and hill shall be brought low." Such a quotation puts him virtually in connection with the Gentiles, and not merely with the Jew or Jewish purposes. "All flesh," it is therefore added, "shall see the salvation of God."

It is evident that the terms intimate the widening of divine grace in its sphere. This is apparent in the manner in which John the Baptist speaks. When he addresses the multitude, observe how he deals with them. It is not a question now of reproving Pharisees and Sadducees coming to his baptism, as in Matthew, but while he here solemnly warns the multitude, the evangelist records his words to each class. They were the same as in the days of the prophets; they were no better after all. Man was far from God: he was a sinner; and, without repentance and faith, what could avail their religious privileges? To what corruption had they not been led through unbelief? "O generation of vipers," he says, "who hath warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Bring forth therefore fruits worthy of repentance, and begin not to say within yourselves, We have Abraham to our father." This, again, accounts for the details of the different classes that come before John the Baptist, and the practical dealing with the duties of each an important thing, I believe, for us to bear in mind; for God thinks of souls; and whenever we have real moral discipline according to His mind, there is a dealing with men as they are, taking them up in the circumstances of their every-day life. Publicans, soldiers, people they each hear respective]y their own proper word. So in that repentance, which the gospel supposes as its invariable accompaniment, it is of moment to bear in mind that, while all have gone astray, each has also followed his own way.

But, again, we have his testimony to the Messiah. "And as the people were in expectation, and all men mused in their hearts of John, whether he were the Christ or not; John answered, saying unto them all, I indeed baptize you with water; but one mightier than I cometh, the latchet of whose shoes I am not worthy to unloose: he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost and with fire: whose fan is in his hand, and he will throughly purge his floor, and will gather the wheat into his garner; but the chaff he will burn with fire unquenchable. And many other things in his exhortation preached he unto the people." . And here, too, you will observe an evident and striking illustration of Luke's manner. Having introduced John, he finishes his history before he turns to the subject of the Lord Jesus. Therefore he adds the fact, that "Herod the tetrarch, being reproved by him, added yet this above all the evil that he had done, that he shut up John in prison." Hence it is clear that the order of Luke is not here, at any rate, that of historic fact. This is nothing peculiar. Any one who is at all acquainted with historians, either ancient or modern, must know that they do the same thing. It is common and almost inevitable. Not that they all do so, any more than all the evangelists; but still it is the way of many historians, who are reckoned amongst the most exact, not to arrange facts like the mere chroniclers of an annual register, which confessedly is rather a dull, rude way of giving us information. They prefer to group the facts into classes, so as to bring out the latent springs, and the consequences even though unsuspected, and, in short, all they desire of moment in the most distinct and powerful manner. Thus Luke, having introduced John here, does not care to interrupt the subsequent account of our Lord, till the embassy of John's messengers fell into the illustration of another theme. There is no room left for misunderstanding this brief summary of the Baptist's faithful conduct from first to last, and its consequences. So true is this, that he records the baptism of our Lord by John immediately after the mention that John was put in prison. Chronological sequence here manifestly yields to graver demands.

Next comes the baptism of those who resorted to John, and above all of Christ. "And Jesus himself began to be about thirty years of age, being (as was supposed) the son of Joseph," etc. Now, at first sight, the insertion of a pedigree at this point seems irregular enough; but Scripture is always right, and wisdom is justified of her children. It is the expression of a weighty truth, and in the most fitting, place. The Jewish scene closes. The Lord has been fully shown to the righteous remnant, i.e. what He was to Israel. God's grace and faithfulness to His promises had presented to them an admirable testimony; and the more so, as it was in the face of the last great or Roman empire. We have had the priest fulfilling his function in the sanctuary; then the angel's visits to Zechariah, to Mary, and, final]y, to the shepherds. We have had also the great prophetic sign of Immanuel born of the virgin, and now the forerunner, greater than any prophet, John the Baptist, the precursor of the Christ. It was all vain. They were a generation of vipers even as John himself testified about them. Nevertheless, on the part of Christ, there was ineffable grace wherever any heeded the call of John albeit the faintest working of divine life in the soul. The confession of the truth of God against themselves, the acknowledgment that they were sinners, drew the heart of Jesus to them. In Him was no sin, no, not the smallest taint of it, nor connection with it: nevertheless, Jesus was with those who repaired to the baptism of John. It was of God. No necessity of sin brought Him there; but, on the contrary, grace the pure fruit of divine grace in Him. He who had nothing to confess or repent was none the less the One that was the very expression of the grace of God. He would not be separated from those in whom there was the smallest response to the grace of God. Jesus, therefore does not for the present take people out of Israel, so to speak, any more than from among men severally into association with Himself; He associates Himself with those who were thus owning the reality of their moral condition in the sight of God. He would be with them in that recognition, not of course for Himself, as if He personally needed, but their companion in His grace. Depend upon it, that this same truth connects itself with the whole career of the Lord Jesus. Whatever the changes may have been before or at His death, they only illustrated increasingly this mighty and fruitful principle.

Who, then, was the baptised man on whom, as He prayed, heaven opened, and the Holy Ghost descended, and a voice from heaven said, "Thou art my beloved Son: in thee I am well pleased"? It was One whom the inspiring Spirit here loves to trace finally up thus: "Which was the Son of Adam, which was the Son of God." One that was going to be tried as Adam was tried yea, as Adam never was tried; for it was in no Paradise that this Second Adam was going to meet the tempter, but in the wilderness. It was in the wreck of this world; it was in the scene of death over which God's judgment hung; it was under such circumstances where it was no question of innocence but of divine power in holiness surrounded by evil, where One who was fully man depended on God, and, where no food, no water was, lived by the word of God. Such, and far far more, was this man Christ Jesus. And hence it is that the genealogy of Jesus seems to me precisely where it ought to be in Luke, as indeed it must be whether we see it or not. In Matthew its insertion would have been strange and inappropriate had it there come after His baptism. It would have no suitableness there, because what a Jew wanted first of all to know was the birth of Jesus according to the Old Testament prophecies. That was everything, we may say, to the Jew in the first place, to know the Son that was given, and the child that was born, as Isaiah and Micah predicted. Here we see the Lord as a man, and manifesting this perfect grace in man a total absence of sin; and yet the very One who was found with those who were confessing sin! "The Son of Adam, who was the Son of God." That means, that He was One who, though man, proved that He was God's Son.

Luke 4:1-44 is grounded upon this; and here it is not merely after the dispensational style of Matthew that we find the quotation given, but thoroughly in a moral point of view. In the gospel of Matthew, in the first temptation, our Lord owns Himself to be man, living not by mere natural resource, but by the word of God; in the second He confesses and denies not Himself further to be Messiah, the temptation being addressed to Him as in this capacity; the last clearly contemplates the glory of the "Son of man." This I clearly call dispensational. No doubt it was exactly the way in which the temptation occurred. The first temptation was to leave the position of man. This Christ would not do. "Man", He says, "shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God." It is much more important to keep God's word than to live; and, at any rate, the only living He valued was living as man by God's word. This is perfection. Faith holds it for certain that God knows how to take care of man. It was man's business to keep God's word: God would not fail to watch over and protect him. Satan, therefore, was foiled. Then Satan tempted by a quotation from Psalms 91:1-16, which clearly describes the Messiah; assuredly Jesus was not going to deny that. He believed and acted upon it. If He were the Messiah, why not, according to this word, prove God? But the Lord Jesus equally refuted him here, though I need not enter now into the particulars of that which we have already looked at. Then came the last temptation addressed to Him, not as Messiah according to a psalm that refers to it, but rather in His quality of the Son of man about to have all the kingdoms of the world. Here Satan's temptation was, "Why do you not come into their possession and enjoyment now?" Jesus would take them only from God, as the rejected of man, and the sufferer for sin, too; not as the living Messiah here below, as if in a hurry to have the promises fulfilled to Him. In vain was the snare spread in His sight; God alone could give, whoever might actually hold, the kingdoms of the world. The price was too dear to pay, the price of worshipping the devil. Jesus thereon denounces the tempter as Satan.

But this is not what we have in our gospel. Here there is no dispensational order of the temptation suitable to the gospel of Matthew. Such an order, which is here that of the facts also, is exactly according to the design of the Holy Spirit in Matthew. But it suits no other gospel. Mark was not called to furnish more than the record of the temptation, with a graphic touch which reveals its dreary scene, and passes on to the active ministry of our blessed Lord. On the other hand, Luke purposely changes the order a bold step, in appearance, to take, and the more if he knew, as I suppose, what was given by the evangelists who preceded him. But it was necessary to his design, and God, I hope to show, puts His own seal upon this deviation from mere time. For, first of all, we have Jesus tried here as man. This must be in every account of the temptation. It is, of course, as man that even the Son of God was tempted of Satan. Here, however, we have, in the second place, the offer of the kingdoms of the world. This, it will be perceived, does not give prominence, like Matthew, to that momentous change of dispensation which ensued on His rejection by the Jew; it does illustrate what the Holy Ghost here puts forward the temptations rising one above the other in moral weight and import. Such I believe to be the key to the changed order of Luke. The first was a temptation to His personal wants Hath God said you shall not eat of any thing? Surely you are at liberty to make the stones bread! Faith vindicates God, remains dependent on Him, and is sure of His appearing for us in due time. Then comes the offer of the kingdoms of the world. If a good man wants to do good, what an offer! But Jesus was here to glorify God. Him He would worship, Him only would He serve. Obedience, obeying God's will, worshipping Him such is the shield against all such overtures of the enemy. Lastly comes the third temptation, through the word of God, on the pinnacle of the temple. This is not the worldly appeal, but one addressed to His spiritual feeling. Need I remark, that a spiritual temptation is to a holy person far subtler and deeper than anything which connected itself with either our wants or our wishes as to the world? Thus there was a personal or bodily, a worldly, and a spiritual temptation. To attain this moral order Luke abandons the sequence of time. Occasionally Matthew, and indeed no one more than he, deserts the simple order of fact whenever it is required by the Spirit's purpose; but in this case Matthew preserves that order; for it so is that by this means he gives prominence to dispensational truth; while Luke, by arranging the acts of temptation otherwise, brings out their moral bearing in the most admirable and instructive way. Accordingly, from Luke 4:8, "Get thee behind me, Satan: for" disappears in the best authorities. The change of order necessitates the omission. The copyists as often added to Luke what is really the language of Matthew; and even some critics have been so undiscerning as not to detect the imposition. As it stands in the received Greek text and the English version, Satan is told to go, and seems to stand his ground and again tempt the Lord, stultifying His command. But the clause I have named (and not merely the word "for," as Bloomfield imagines) is well known to have no claim to stand, as being destitute of adequate authority. There are good manuscripts that contain the clause, but the weight, for antiquity and character of MSS., and for variety of the old versions, is on the other side, not to speak of the internal evidence, which would be decisive with much inferior external evidence. Hence, too, Satan could hardly be spoken of here as going away like one driven off by indignation, as in Matthew. "And when the devil had ended all the [every] temptation, he departed from him for a season." This lets us into another very material truth, that Satan only went off till another season, when he should return. And this he did for a yet severer character of trial at the end of the Lord's life, the account of which is given us with peculiar elaborateness by Luke; for it is his province above all to show the moral import of the agony in the garden of Gethsemane.

Jesus then returned in the power of the Spirit to Galilee. Man was victor over Satan. Unlike the first Adam, the Second Man comes off with energy proved triumphant in obedience. How does He use this power? He repairs to His despised quarters. " And there went out a fame of him to all the region round about. And he taught in their synagogues, being glorified of all. And he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up." The fact that follows is mentioned here, and here only, with any detail; whatever allusion there may be to it elsewhere, it is here only we have, by the Spirit of God, this most living and characteristic portrait of our Lord Jesus entering upon His ministry among men according to the purpose and ways of divine grace. Deeds of power are but the skirts of His glory. It is not, as Mark opens it out to us, teaching as nobody ever taught, and then dealing with the unclean spirit before them all. This is not the inauguration we have in Luke, any more than a crowd of miracles, at once the herald and the seal of His doctrine, as in Matthew. Neither is it individual dealing with souls, as in John, who shows Him attracting the hearts of those that were with the Baptist or at their lawful occupations, and calling them to follow Him. Here He goes into the synagogue, as His custom was, and stands up to read.

"And there was delivered unto him the book of the prophet Esaias." What a moment! He who is God was become man, and deigns to act as such among men. "And when he had opened the book, he found the place where it is written, The Spirit of the Lord is upon me because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor." It is the man Christ Jesus. The Spirit of the Lord was not upon Him as God, but as man, and so anointed Him to preach the gospel to the poor. How thoroughly suitable to what we have already seen. "He hath sent me to heal the broken-hearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovery of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, to preach the acceptable year of the Lord. And he closed the book, and he gave it again to the minister, and sat down. And the eyes of all them that were in the synagogue were fastened on him. And he began to say unto them, This day is this Scripture fulfilled in you ears." A real man was there and then the vessel of the grace of God upon the earth, and the Scripture designates this most fully. But where could we find this most apt application of the prophet except in Luke, to whom in point of fact it is peculiar? The entire gospel develops or, at least, accords with it.

"They all bare him witness, and wondered at the gracious words which proceeded out of his mouth," but immediately they turn to unbelief, saying, "Is not this Joseph's son?" "And he said unto them, Ye will surely say unto me this proverb, Physician, heal thyself: whatsoever we have heard done in Capernaum, do also here in thy country." He had been already at work in what Matthew calls "his city;", but the Spirit of God here passes over entirely what had been done there. He would thus ensure the fullest lustre to the "grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, who, though he was rich, yet for our sakes became poor, that we, through his poverty, night be made rich." This is what we have in Luke. Our Lord then shows the moral root of the difficulty in their minds. "Verily I say unto you, No prophet is accepted in his own country. But I tell you of a truth, many widows were in Israel in the days of Elias, when the heaven was shut up three years and six months, when great famine was throughout all the land; but unto none of them was Elias sent, save unto Sarepta, a city of Sidon, unto a woman that was a widow." Our Lord does not yet call a publican or receive a Gentile, as inLuke 5:1-39; Luke 5:1-39; Luke 7:1-50; but He tells of the grace of God in that word which they read and heard, but understood not. It was His answer to the incredulity of the Jews, His brethren after the flesh. How solemn are the warnings of grace! It was a Gentile, and not a Jewish widow, who during the days of Israel's apostacy became the marked object of God's mercy. So, too, "many lepers were in Israel in the time of Eliseus the prophet, and none of them was cleansed, saving Naaman the Syrian." At once the hostile rage of the natural man is roused, and his jealousy of divine goodness to the stranger. Those that wondered the moment before at His gracious words are now filled with fury, ready to rend Him. "And they rose up, and thrust him out of the city, and led him unto the brow of the hill whereon their city was built, that they might cast him down headlong. But he, passing through the midst of them, went his way, and came down to Capernaum, and taught them on the Sabbath days. And they were astonished at his doctrine: for his word was with power." It is the word that has especial prominence in Luke; and justly so, because the word is the expression of what God is to man, even as it is the word which tries him.

These are the two qualities, therefore, of the gospel: what God is towards man; and what man is, now revealed and proclaimed and brought home by the word of God. Thereby God's grace shines out; thereby, too, the evil of man is morally proved not merely by the law, but yet more by the word that comes in, and by the person of Christ. Man, however, hates it, and no wonder; for, however full of mercy, it leaves no room for the pride, the vanity, the self-righteousness, in short, the importance of man in any way. There is one good, even God.

But this is not all the truth; for the power of Satan is active on the earth. It was then too plain, too universal, to be overlooked; and if man was so unbelieving as to the glory of Jesus, Satan at least felt the power. So it was with the man who had an unclean spirit. "He cried out with a loud voice, saying, Let us alone; what have we to do with thee, thou Jesus of Nazareth? art thou come to destroy us? I know thee who thou art, the Holy One of God." Remark here how Jesus, the fulfilment and fulfiller of God's word, accomplishes law and promise, the prophets and the Psalms. Devils own Him as the Holy One of God and again, we shall see presently, as the Anointed (Christ), the Son of God. In Luke 5:1-39 He is seen acting rather as Jehovah. "And Jesus rebuked him, saying hold thy peace, and come out of him. And when the devil had thrown him in the midst, he came out of him, and hurt him not." This proves, therefore, that there was in Christ not only grace towards man's necessities, but power over Satan. He had vanquished Satan, and proceeds to use His power in behalf of man.

He then enters into Simon's house, and heals his wife's mother. "Now when the sun was setting, all they that had any sick with divers diseases brought them unto him; and he laid his hands on every one of them, and healed them. And devils also came out of many, crying out, and saying, Thou art Christ the Son of God. And he rebuking them suffered them not to speak: for they knew that he was Christ." Here we coalesce with the earlier gospels. When this attracted the attention of men He departs. Instead of using what people call "influence", He will not hear of the people's desire to retain Him in their midst. He walks in faith, the Holy One of God, content with nothing that made man an object to obscure His glory. If followed into a desert place, away from the crowd that admired Him, He lets them know that He must preach the kingdom of God to other cities also; for therefore was He sent. "And he was preaching in the synagogues of Galilee."

And now we have, in the beginning, of the fifth chapter, a fact taken entirely out of its historical place. It is the call of the earlier apostles, more particularly of Simon, who is singled out, just as we have seen one blind man, or one demoniac, brought into relief, even though there might be more. So the son of Jonas is the great object of the Lord's grace here, although others were called at the same time. There were companions of his leaving all for Christ; but we have his case, not theirs, dealt with in detail. Now, from elsewhere, we know that this call of Peter preceded the Lord's entrance into Simon's house, and the healing of Simon's wife's mother. We also know that John's gospel has preserved for us the first occasion when Simon ever saw the Lord Jesus, as Mark's gospel shows when it was that Simon was called away from his ship and occupation. Luke had given us the Lord's grace with and towards man, from the synagogue at Nazareth down to His preaching everywhere in Galilee, casting out devils, and healing diseases by the way. This is essentially a display in Him of the power of God by the word, and this over Satan and all the afflictions of men. A complete picture of all this is given first; and in order to leave it unbroken, the particulars of Simon's call are left out of its time. But as the way of the Lord on that occasion was of the deepest value as well as interest to be given, it was reserved for this place. This illustrates the method of classifying facts morally, instead of merely recording them as they came to pass, which is characteristic of Luke.

"It came to pass, that, as the people pressed upon him to hear the word of God, he stood by the lake of Gennesaret, and he saw two ships standing by the lake: but the fishermen were gone out of them, and were washing their nets. And he entered into one of the ships, which was Simon's, and prayed him that be would thrust out a little from the land. And he sat down, and taught the people out of the ship. Now when he had left speaking, he said unto Simon, Launch out into the deep, and let down your nets for a draught. And Simon answering, said unto him, Master, we have toiled all the night, and have taken nothing: nevertheless at thy word I will let down the net." It is plain that the word of Jesus was the first great trial. Simon had already and long, toiled; but the word of Jesus is enough. "And when they had this done, they enclosed a great multitude of fishes: and their net brake. And they beckoned unto their partners, which were in the other ship, that they should come and help them. And they came, and filled both the ships, so that they began to sink." Next, we have the moral effect. "When Simon Peter saw it, he fell down at Jesus, knees, saying, Depart from me; for I am a sinful man, O Lord." It was the most natural thing possible for a soul arrested, not merely by the mighty deed which the Lord had wrought, but by such a proof that His word could be trusted implicitly that divine power answered to the word of the man Christ Jesus. His sinfulness glared on his conscience. Christ's word let the light of God into his soul: "Depart from me; for I am a sinful man." There was real sense of sin and confession; yet the attitude of Peter at the feet of Jesus shows that nothing was farther from his heart than that the Lord should leave him, though his conscience felt that so it ought to be. He was convicted more deeply of his sinful state than he had ever been before. Already a real attraction had knit Simon's heart to Christ. He was born of God, as far as we can judge, before this. He had really for some while known and heard the voice of Jesus. This was not the first time, as John gives us to see. But now the word so penetrated and searched him out, that this utterance was the feeling of his soul an apparent contradiction to draw near to the feet of Jesus, saying, Depart from me, but not in the root of things an inconsistency only on the surface of his words; for his innermost feeling, was one of desire after and delight in Jesus, clinging to Him with all his soul, but with the strongest conviction that he had not the slightest claim to be there that he could even pronounce condemnation on himself otherwise in a certain sense, though quite contrary to all his wishes. The more he saw what Jesus was, the less fit company he felt himself to be for such an One as He. This is precisely what grace does produce in its earlier workings. I say not, in its earliest, but in its earlier workings; for we must not be in too great a hurry with the ways of God in the soul. Astonished at this miracle, Peter thus speaks to the Lord; but the gracious answer sets him at ease. "Fear not," says Christ; "from henceforth thou shalt catch men." My object in referring to the passage is for the purpose of pointing out the moral force of our Gospel. It was a divine person who, if He displayed the knowledge and power of God, revealed Himself in grace, but also morally to the conscience, though it cast out fear.

Then follows the cure of the leper, and subsequently the forgiveness of the palsied man: again the exhibition that Jehovah was there, and fulfilling the Spirit ofPsalms 103:1-22; Psalms 103:1-22; but He was the Son of man too. Such was the mystery of His person present in grace, which was proved by the power of God in one wholly dependent on God. Finally, there is the call of Levi the publican; the Lord showing, also, how well aware He was of the effect on man of introducing among those accustomed to law the reality of grace. In truth, it is impossible to mingle the new wine of grace with the old bottles of human ordinances. The Lord adds what is found in no gospel but Luke's, that man prefers, in presence of the new thing from God, the old religious feelings, thoughts, ways, doctrines, habits, and customs. "No man", He says, "having drunk old wine straightway desireth new: for he saith, The old is better." Man prefers the dealing of law with all its dimness, uncertainty, and distance from God, to that divine grace infinitely more blessed, which in Christ displays God to man, and brings man, by the blood of His cross, to God.

In Luke 6:1-49 this is followed up. We see the Lord on the two Sabbath days: the defence of the disciples for plucking the ears of corn, and the well-nigh defiant cure of the withered hand in the synagogue. The Lord does not pluck the ears of corn Himself; but He defends the guiltless, and this on moral ground. We do not here meet with the particulars set forth dispensationally as in Matthew's gospel: though the reference is to the same facts, they are not so reasoned upon. There the subject is much more the approaching change of economy: here it is more moral. A similar remark applies to the ease of healing the withered hand. The Sabbath, or seal of the old covenant, was never given of God, thou, abused by man, to hinder His goodness to the needy and wretched. But the Son of man was Lord of the Sabbath: and grace is free to bless man and glorify God. Immediately after this, clouds gather over the devoted head of our Lord; "They were filled with madness; and communed one with another what they might do to Jesus."

The Lord retires to a mountain, continuing all night in prayer to God. On the next day, out of the disciples He chooses twelve who were pre-eminently to represent Him after His departure. That is, He nominates the twelve apostles. At the same time He delivers what is commonly called the sermon on the mount. But there are striking differences between the manner of Luke and Matthew, in conveying that sermon to us; for Luke brings two contrasts together; one of which was dropped by Matthew at any rate in this, the beginning of his gospel. Luke couples the blessings and the woes; Matthew reserves his woes for another occasion, for that one would affirm that the Lord did not proclaim the woes of Matthew 13:1-58 on another and later occasion; but it may be safely said, that the first evangelist passed by all questions of woes for the discourse on the mount. Luke, on the contrary, furnishes both. Who can fail to recognize in this circumstance a striking mark; both of the evangelists, and of the special designs of Him who inspired them? Luke does not confine himself to the bright side, but adds also the solemn. There is a warning for conscience, as much as there is grace which appeals to the heart It is Luke that gives it and most gloriously. Besides, there is another difference. Matthew presents Christ alone as the lawgiver. No doubt greater than Moses He was; He was Jehovah, Emmanuel. Therefore He takes the place of deepening, enlarging, and ever bringing in principles so infinitely better as to eclipse what was said to them of old. Thus, while the authority of the law and prophets is maintained, there is now an incalculable change, in advance of all before, suitably to the presence of His glory who then spoke, and to the revelation of the Father's name More even was yet to be; but this was reserved for the presence in power of the Holy Ghost, as we are told inJohn 16:1-33; John 16:1-33.

Here, in the gospel of Luke, another course is pursued. It is not as One who lays down principles or describes the classes that can have part in the kingdom, as "Blessed the poor" etc.: but the Lord views, and speaks to, His disciples, as those immediately concerned; "Blessed ye poor: for yours is the kingdom of God." It is all personal, in view of the godly company that then surrounded Him. So He says, "Blessed ye that hunger now: for ye shall be filled. Blessed ye that weep now"' etc. It was sorrow and suffering now; for He who fulfilled the promises, and psalms, and prophets was rejected; and the kingdom could not yet come in power and glory. "He must first suffer many things."

Thus all through it is not description alone, but a direct address to the heart In Matthew it was most appropriately a general discourse. Here it is made immediately applicable. That is, He looks at the persons then before Him, and pronounces a blessing upon them distinctly and personally.

For that reason, as also for others, He says nothing about suffering for righteousness' sake here In Matthew there are the two characters those blessed when persecuted for righteousness' sake, and yet more those who were persecuted for His name's sake. Luke omits the righteousness: all persecution here noticed is on account of the Son of man. How blessed it is in Luke to find that the great witness of grace acts Himself in the spirit of that grace, and makes this to be the one distinguishing feature. Both sufferers are surely blessed; each is in his own season precious; but the least portion is not that which characterizes the word of the Lord in his gospel who has mainly in view us who were poor sinners of the Gentiles.

In Luke the points pressed are not detailed contrasts with the law, nor the value of righteousness in secret with the Father, nor trust in His loving care without anxiety, but practical grace in loving our enemies, merciful as our Father is merciful, and so children of the Highest, with the assurance of corresponding recompence. Then comes the warning parable of the blindness of the religious world's leaders and the value of personal reality and obedience, instead of moralising for others, which would end in ruin. In the chapter that follows (Luke 7:1-50) we shall see the Lord still more evidently proving that grace cannot be tied to Jewish limits, that His was a power which the Gentile owns to be absolute over all yea, over death as well as nature.

But before we pass on, let me observe that there is another feature also that strikes us in Luke, though it does not call for many words now. It appears that various portions of the sermon on the mount were reserved for insertion here and there, where they would it in best for comment on or connection with facts. The reason is, that moral grouping of conversations which has been already shown to be according to the method of Luke. Here there is not at all the same kind of formal order of discourse as in Matthew. There were, I doubt not, questions asked during its course; and the Holy Ghost has been pleased to give us specimens of this in the gospel of Luke. I may show on another occasion, that this which occurs not infrequently throughout the whole central part of Luke is found in him only. It is for the most part made up of this association of facts, with remarks either growing out of what has occurred, or suitable to them, and therefore transplanted from elsewhere.

In chapter 7 the healing of the centurion's servant is recounted, with very striking differences from the form in which he had it in Matthew. Here we are told that the centurion, when he heard of Jesus, sent unto Him the elders of the Jews. The man who does not understand the design of the gospel, and has only heard that Luke wrote especially for the Gentiles, is at once arrested by this. He objects to the hypothesis that this fact is irreconcilable with a Gentile bearing, and is, on the contrary, rather in favour of a Jewish aim, at least here; because in Matthew you find nothing about the embassy of the Jews, while here it is in Luke. His conclusion is, that one gospel is as much Jewish or Gentile as another, and that the notion of special design is baseless. All this may sound plausible to a superficial reader; but in truth the twofold fact, when duly stated, remarkably confirms the different scope of the gospels, instead of neutralizing it; for the centurion in Luke was led, both being Gentiles, to honour the Jews in the special place God has put them in. He therefore sets a value on this embassy to the Jews. The precise contrast of this we have inRomans 11:1-36; Romans 11:1-36, where the Gentiles are warned against high-mindedness and conceit. It was because of Jewish unbelief, no doubt, that certain branches were broken off; but the Gentiles were to see that they abode in God's goodness, not falling into similar and worse evil, or else they also should be cut off. This was most wholesome admonition from the apostle of the uncircumcision to the saints in the great capital of the Gentile world. Here the Gentile centurion shows both his faith and his humility by manifesting the place which God's people had in his eyes. He did not arrogantly talk of looking only to God.

Allow me to say, brethren, that this is a principle of no small value, and in more ways than one. There is often a good deal of unbelief not open, of course, but covert which cloaks itself under the profession of superior and sole dependence on God, and boasts itself aloud of its leaving any and every man out of account. Nor do I deny that there are, and ought to be, cases where God alone must act, convince, and satisfy. But the other side is true also; and this is precisely what we see in the case of the centurion. There was no proud panacea of having to do only with God, and not man. On the contrary, he shows, by his appeal to and use of the Jewish elders, how truly he bowed to the ways and will of God. For God had a people, and the Gentile owned the people as of His choice, spite of their unworthiness; and if he wanted the blessing for his servant, he would send for the elders of the Jews that they might plead for him with Jesus. To me there seems far more of faith, and of the lowliness which faith produces, than if he had gone personally and alone. The secret of his action was, that he was a man not only of faith, but of faith-wrought humility; and this is a most precious fruit, wherever it grows and blooms. Certainly the good Gentile centurion sends his ambassadors of Israel, who go and tell what was most true and proper (yet I can hardly think it what the centurion ever put in their mouth). "And when they came to Jesus, they besought him instantly, saying, That he was worthy for whom he should do this: for he loveth our nation, and he hath built us a synagogue." He was a godly man; and it was no new thing, this love for the Jews, and the practical proof of it.

It will be observed, again, that Matthew has not a word about this fact; and cannot but feel how blessed is the omission there. Had Matthew been writing merely as a man for the Jews, it was just the thing he would have surely fastened on; but the inspiring power of the Spirit wrought, and grace, I do not doubt, also, in Matthew as well as in Luke, and thus only have we the fruit now apparent in their accounts. It was fitting that the evangelist for the Jews should both leave out the (Gentile's strong expression of respect for Israel, and dwell upon the warning to the proud children of the kingdom. Equally fitting was it that Luke, in writing for Gentile instruction, should especially let us see the love and esteem for God's sake which a godly Gentile had for the Jews. Here was no scorn for their low estate, but so much the more compassion; yea, more than compassion, for his desire after their mediation proved the reality of his respect for the chosen nation. It was not a new feeling; he had long low loved them, and built them a synagogue in days when he sought nothing at their hands; and they remember it now. The faith of this Gentile was such, that the Lord avows He had not seen the like in Israel. Not only does Matthew report this a weighty admonition even for the believers of Israel but also Luke, for the encouragement of the Gentiles. This common point was most worthy of record, and attached to the new creation, not to the old. How beautiful the scene is in both gospels' how much is that beauty increased when we more closely inspect the wisdom and grace of God shown out in Matthew's presentation of Gentile blessing and Jewish warning for the Israelites; and withal, in Luke's presentation of respect for the Jews, and the absence here of all notice of Jewish excision, which might so easily be perverted to Gentile self-complacency!

The next scene (verses 11-17) is peculiar to Luke. The Lord not only heals, but with a grace and majesty altogether proper to Himself, brings in life for the dead, yet with remarkable consideration for human woe and affection. Not only did He, in His own quickening power, cause the dead to live, but He sees in him, whom they were even then carrying out to burial, the only son of his widowed mother; and so He stays the bier, bids the deceased to arise, and delivers him to his mother. No sketch can be conceived more consonant with the spirit and aim of our gospel.

Then we have the disciples of John introduced, for the special purpose of noting the great crisis that was at hand, if not come. So severe was the shock to antecedent feeling and expectation, that even the very forerunner of the Messiah was himself shaken and offended, it would seem, because the Messiah did not use His power on behalf of Himself and His own followers did not protect every godly soul in the land did not shed around light and liberty for Israel far and wide. Yet who could gainsay the character of what was being done? A Gentile had confessed the supremacy of Jesus over all things: disease must obey Him absent or present! If not the working of God's own gracious power, what could it be? After all, John the Baptist was a man; and what is he to be accounted of? What a lesson, and how much needed at all times. The Lord Jesus not only answers with His wonted dignity, but at the same time with the grace that could not but yearn over the questioning and stumbled mind of His forerunner no doubt meeting, too, the unbelief of John's followers; for there need be little doubt, that if there was weakness in John, there was far more in his disciples.

Thereupon our Lord introduces His own moral judgment of the whole generation. At the close of this is the most remarkable exemplification of divine wisdom conferred by grace where one might least look for it, in contrast with the perverse folly of those who thought themselves wise. "But wisdom is justified of all her children," no matter who or what they may have been, as surely as it will be justified in the condemnation of all who have rejected the counsel of God against themselves. Indeed, the evil side as well as the good are almost equally salient at the house of Simon the Pharisee; and the Holy Ghost led Luke to furnish here the most striking possible commentary on the folly of self-righteousness, and the wisdom of faith. He adduces exactly a case in point. The worth of man's wisdom appears in the Pharisee, as the true wisdom of God, which comes down from above, appears where His own grace alone created it; for what depositary seemed more remote than a woman of ruined and depraved character? yea, a sinner whose very name God withholds? On the other hand, this silence, to my mind, is an evidence of His wonderful grace. If no worthy end could be reached by publishing the name of her who was but too notorious in that city of old, it was no less worthy of God that He should make manifest in her the riches of His grace. Again, another thing: not only is grace best proved where there is most need of it, but its transforming power appears to the greatest advantage in the grossest and most hopeless cases.

"If any man be in Christ, he is a new creature." Such is the operation of grace, a new creating, no mere change or bettering of the old man according to Christ, but a real life with a new character altogether. See it in this woman, who was the object of grace. It was to the house of the Pharisee who had invited Jesus that this woman repaired attracted by the Saviour's grace, and truly penitent, full of love to His person, but not yet with the knowledge of her sins forgiven; for this was what she needed, and what He meant her to have and know. It is not the exhibition of a soul starting upon the knowledge of forgiveness, but the ways of grace leading one into it.

What drew her heart was not the acceptance of the gospel message, nor the knowledge of the believer's privilege That was what Christ was about to give; but what won her, and drew her so powerfully even to that Pharisee's house, was something deeper than any acquaintance with conferred blessings: it was the grace of God in Christ Himself. She felt instinctively that in Him was not more truly all that purity and love of God Himself, than the mercy she needed for herself. The predominant feeling in her soul, what riveted her was, that, spite of the sense she had of her sins, she was sure she might cast herself on that boundless grace she saw in the Lord Jesus. Hence she could not stay away from the house where He was, though she well knew she was the last person in the town the master of it would welcome there. What excuse could she make? Nay, that sort of thing was over now; she was in the truth. What business, then, had she in Simon's house? Yes, her business was with Jesus, the Lord of glory for eternity, albeit there; and so complete was the mastery of His grace over her soul, that nothing could keep her back. Without asking for Simon's leave, without a Peter or a John to introduce her, she goes where Jesus was, taking with her an alabaster box of ointment, "and stood at his feet behind him weeping, and began to wash his feet with tears, and did wipe them with the hairs of her head, and kissed his feet, and anointed them with the ointment."

This drew out the religious reasoning, of Simon's heart, which, like all other reasoning of the natural mind on divine things, is only infidelity. "He spake within himself, saying, This man, if he were a prophet." How hollow the fair-looking Pharisee was! He had asked the Lord there; but what was the value of the Lord in Simon's eyes? "This man, if he were a prophet, would have known who and what manner of woman this is that toucheth him: for she is a sinner." Indeed, she was a sinner. This was not wrong but that. The root of the worst wrong is just that depreciation of Jesus. Simon within himself doubted that He was even a prophet. Oh, how little thought he that it was God Himself in the person of that lowly man, the Son of the Highest! Herein was the starting-point of this most fatal error. Jesus, however, proves that He was a prophet, yea, the God of the prophets; and reading the thoughts of his heart, He answers his unuttered question by the parable of the two debtors.

I will not dwell now on that which is familiar to all. Suffice it to say, that this is a scene peculiar to our gospel. Might I not ask, where possibly could it be found harmoniously except here? How admirable the choice of the Holy Ghost, thus shown in displaying Jesus according, to all we have seen from the beginning of this gospel! The Lord here pronounces her sins to be forgiven; but it is well to observe, that this was at the close of the interview, and not the occasion of it. There is no ground to suppose that she knew that her sins were forgiven before. On the contrary, the point of the story appears to me lost where this is assumed. What confidence His grace gives the one that goes straight to Himself! He speaks authoritatively, and warrants forgiveness. Till Jesus said so, it would have been presumption for any soul at this time to have acted upon the certainty that his sins were forgiven. Such seems to me the express object of this history a poor sinner truly repenting, and attracted by His grace, which draws her to Himself, and hears from Him His own direct word, "Thy sins are forgiven thee." Her sins, which were many, were forgiven. There was no hiding, therefore, the extent of her need; for she loved much. Not that I would explain this away. Her loving much was true before, as well as after, she heard the forgiveness. There was real love in her heart already. She was transported by the divine grace in His person, which inspired her by the Spirit's teaching with love through His love; but the effect of knowing from His own lips that her sins were forgiven must have been to increase that love. The Lord is here before us as One that thoroughly sounded the evil heart of unbelief, that appreciated, as truly as He had effected, the work of grace in the believer's heart, and speaks out before all the answer of peace with which He entitled such an one to depart.

In the last chapter (Luke 8:1-56) on which I am to speak tonight, the Lord is seen not only going forth now to preach, but with a number of men and women in His train, children of wisdom surely, the poor but real witnesses of His own rich grace, and thus devoted to Him here below. "And the twelve were with him. And certain women, which had been healed of evil spirits and infirmities, Mary called Magdalene, out of whom went seven devils, and Joanna the wife of Chuza, Herod's steward, and Susanna, and many others, which ministered unto him of their substance." Here, too, is it not a wonderfully characteristic picture of our Lord Jesus, and so only found in Luke? Entirely above the evil of men, He could and did walk in the perfect calm of His Father's presence, but withal according to the activity, in this world, of God's grace.

Hence, He is here presented in our gospel as speaking of the sower, even as He was then scattering the seed of "the word of God;" for so it is called here. In the gospel of Matthew, where the same parable appears as introducing the kingdom of heaven, it is called "the word of the kingdom." Here, when the parable is explained, the seed is "the word of God." Thus it is not a question of the kingdom in Luke; in Matthew it is. Nothing can be more simple than the reason of the difference. Remark that the Spirit of God in recording does not limit Himself to the bare words that Jesus spoke. This I hold to be a matter of no little importance in forming a sound judgment of the Scriptures. The notion to which orthodox men sometimes shut themselves up, in zeal for plenary inspiration, is, to my mind, altogether mechanical: they think that inspiration necessarily and only gives the exact words that Christ uttered. There seems to me not the slightest necessity for this. Assuredly the Holy Spirit gives the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. The differences are owing to no infirmity, but to His design; and what He has given us is incomparably better than a bare report by so many hands, all meaning to give the same words and facts. Take the chapter before us to illustrate what I mean. Matthew and Luke alike give us the same parable of the sower; but Matthew calls it "the word of the kingdom;" while Luke calls it "the word of God." The Lord Jesus may have employed both in His discourse at this time. I am not contending that He did not; but what I affirm is, that, whether He did or did not employ both, the Spirit of God did not give us to have both in the same gospel, but acts with divine sovereignty. He does not lower the evangelists into mere literal reporters, such as may be found by dint of skill among men. No doubt their object is to get the precise words which a man utters, because there is no such power or person to effect the will of God in the world. But the Spirit of God can act with more freedom, and can drive this part of the utterance to one evangelist, and that part to another. Hence, then, the mere mechanical system can never explain inspiration. It finds itself entirely baffled by the fact that the same words are not given in all the gospels. Take Matthew, as we have just seen, sating, "Blessed are the poor," and Luke, saying, "Blessed are ye poor." This is at once an embarrassing difficulty for the mechanical scheme of inspiration; it is none at all for those who hold to the Holy Ghost's supremacy in employing different men as the vessels of its various objects. There is no attempt in any of the gospels to furnish a reproduction of all the words and works of the Lord Jesus. I have no doubt, therefore, that although in each gospel we have nothing but the truth, we have not all the facts in any Gospel, or in all of them. Hence, the richest fulness results from the method of the Spirit. Having the absolute command of all truth, He just gives the needed word in the right place, and by the due person, so as the better to display the Lord's glory.

After this parable we have another, like Matthew's, but not relating to the kingdom, because this is not the point here; for dispensation is not the topic before us as in Matthew. Indeed, this parable is one not found in Matthew at all. What Matthew gives is complete for the purposes of his gospel. But in Luke it was of great importance to give this parable; for when a man has been laid hold of by the word of God, the next thing is testimony. The disciples, not the nation, were given to know the mysteries of the kingdom of God. Enlightened themselves, the next thing was to give light to others. "No man, when he hath lighted a candle, covereth it with a vessel, or putteth it under a bed; but setteth it on a candlestick, that they which enter may see the light. For nothing is secret, that shall not be made manifest; neither anything hid, that shall not be known and come abroad. Take heed therefore how ye hear: for whosoever hath, to him shall be given; and whosoever hath not from him shall be taken even that which he seemeth to have." Thus responsibility in the use of light is enforced.

What follows here is the slight of natural ties in divine things, the approval of nothing but a relationship founded on the word of God heard and done. Flesh is valueless; it profits nothing. So when people said unto Him, "Thy mother and thy brethren stand without desiring to see thee; he answered and said unto them, My mother and my brethren are these which hear the word of God, and do it." Still it is the word of God. It is not as Matthew puts it after the formal giving up the nation to apostacy and a new relationship brought in; here it is simply God's approval of those who keep and value His word. The place that the word of God has morally meets the mind of Christ.

But Christ does not exempt His witnesses from troubles here below. The next is the scene on the lake, and the disciples manifesting their unbelief and the Lord His grace and power. Passing, to the other side me see Legion who spite of this awful evil has a deep divine work wrought in his soul. It is not so much a question of making him a servant of God. That we have in Mark and much detailed. Here we have Him rather as a man of God; first the object of the delivering power and favour of the Lord; then, delighting in Him who thus made God known to him. No wonder when the devils were cast out the man besought that he might be with Jesus. It was a feeling natural so to speak, to grace and to the new relationship with God into which he had entered. "But Jesus sent him away saying, Return to thine own house, and show how great things God hath done unto thee. And he went his way and published throughout the whole city how great thing's Jesus had done unto him."

The account of Jairus's appeal for his daughter follows. While the Lord is on His way to heal the daughter of Israel, who meanwhile dies He is interrupted by the touch of faith; for whoever went to Him found healing. The Lord however while He perfectly meets the case of any needy soul at the present time does not fail in the long run to accomplish the purposes of God for the revival of Israel. He will restore Israel; for in God's mind they are not dead but sleep.

Bibliographical Information
Kelly, William. "Commentary on Luke 2:13". Kelly Commentary on Books of the Bible. https://www.studylight.org/​commentaries/​wkc/​luke-2.html. 1860-1890.
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