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Verse-by-Verse Bible Commentary
New American Standard Version
Bible Study Resources
Nave's Topical Bible - Chuza; Demons; Jesus, the Christ; Joanna; Liberality; Love; Mary; Steward; Susanna; Thompson Chain Reference - Liberality; Virtues; Womanhood, Crowning Qualities of; Women; Torrey's Topical Textbook - Devotedness to God; Galilee; Liberality; Missionaries, All Christians Should Be as;
Verse Luke 8:3. Herod's steward — Though the original word, επιτροπος, signifies sometimes the inspector or overseer of a province, and sometimes a tutor of children, yet here it seems to signify the overseer of Herod's domestic affairs: the steward of his household. Steward of the household was an office in the king's palace by s. 24, of Hen. VIII. The person is now entitled lord steward of the king's household, and the office is, I believe, more honourable and of more importance than when it was first created. Junius derives the word from the Islandic stivardur, which is compounded of stia, work, and vardur, a keeper, or overseer: hence our words, warder, warden, ward, guard, guardian, &c. The Greek word in Hebrew letters is frequent in the rabbinical writings, אפיטדופום, and signifies among them the deputy ruler of a province. Luke 16:1. In the Islandic version, it is forsionarmanns.
Unto him — Instead of αυτω, to him, meaning Christ, many of the best MSS. and versions have αυτοις, to them, meaning both our Lord and the twelve apostles, see Luke 8:1. This is unquestionably the true meaning. Christ receives these assistances and ministrations, says pious Quesnel,-
1. To honour poverty by subjecting himself to it.
2. To humble himself in receiving from his creatures.
3. That he may teach the ministers of the Gospel to depend on the providence of their heavenly Father.
4. To make way for the gratitude of those he had healed. And,
5. That he might not be burthensome to the poor to whom he went to preach.
Clarke, Adam. "Commentary on Luke 8:3". "The Adam Clarke Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/acc/luke-8.html. 1832.
54. The sower (Matthew 13:1-23; Mark 4:1-29; Luke 8:1-18)
To visit all the towns of Galilee was a huge task. Jesus and his disciples were helped in this work by a group of women who went with them to look after their daily needs (Luke 8:1-3). Crowds of people came to see Jesus wherever he went, and were often a hindrance to the progress of the gospel. It seems that one reason Jesus began to teach extensively in parables was to separate those who were genuinely interested from those who were merely curious (Matthew 13:1-3a; Mark 4:1-2).
The parable of the sower draws its lessons from the four different kinds of soil rather than from the work of the sower. The preacher puts the message of the kingdom into people’s hearts as a farmer puts seed into the ground. But people’s hearts vary just as the soil in different places varies. Some people hear the message but do not understand it because they are not interested. Others show early interest but soon give up because they have no deep spiritual concern. Others are too worried about the affairs of everyday life. Only a few respond to the message in faith, but when they do their lives are changed and a spiritual harvest results (Matthew 13:3-9,Matthew 13:18-23; Mark 4:3-9,Mark 4:13-20).
Parables may provide a pictorial way to teach truth, but they are more than just illustrations. Their purpose is to make the hearers think about the teaching. Those who gladly receive Jesus’ teaching will find the parables full of meaning. As a result their ability to understand God’s truth will increase. But those who have no genuine interest in Jesus’ teaching will see no meaning in the parables at all. Worse still, their spiritual blindness will become darker, and their stubborn hearts more hardened. Because their wills are opposed to Jesus, their minds cannot appreciate his teaching, and consequently their sins remain unforgiven (Matthew 13:10-17; Mark 4:10-12).
Although the teaching of parables may cause the idly curious to lose interest in Jesus, the basic purpose of a parable is to enlighten, not to darken. A parable is like a lamp, which is put on a stand to give light, not hidden under a bowl or under a bed. The more thought people give to their master’s teaching, the more enlightenment and blessing they will receive in return. But if they are lazy and give no thought to the teaching, their ability to appreciate spiritual truth will decrease, until eventually it is completely gone (Mark 4:21-25).
Returning to the picture of the sower, Jesus shows that good seed will always produce healthy plants and good fruit if given the opportunity. The farmer sows the seed, but he must wait for the soil to react with the seed and make it grow. Likewise the messenger of the gospel must have patient faith in God as the message does its work in people’s hearts (Mark 4:26-29).
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Flemming, Donald C. "Commentary on Luke 8:3". "Fleming's Bridgeway Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bbc/luke-8.html. 2005.
Herod’s steward - Herod Antipas, who reigned in Galilee. He was a son of Herod the Great. The word “steward” means one who has charge of the domestic affairs of a family, to provide for it. This office was generally held by a “slave” who was esteemed the most faithful, and was often conferred as a reward of fidelity.
Ministered - Gave for his support.
Of their substance - Their property; their possessions. Christians then believed, when they professed to follow Christ, that it was proper to give “all” up to him - their property as well as their hearts; and the same thing is still required that is, to commit all that we have to his disposal; to be willing to part with it for the promotion of his glory, and to leave it when he calls us away from it.
Barnes, Albert. "Commentary on Luke 8:3". "Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bnb/luke-8.html. 1870.
. Joanna, the wife of Chuza It is uncertain whether or not Luke intended his statement to be applied to those women in the same manner as to Mary To me it appears probable that she is placed first in order, as a person in whom Christ had given a signal display of his power; and that the wife of Chuza, and Susanna, matrons of respectability and of spotless reputation, are mentioned afterwards, because they had only been cured of ordinary diseases. Those matrons being wealthy and of high rank, it reflects higher commendation on their pious zeal, that they supply Christ’s expenses out of their own property, and, not satisfied with so doing, leave the care of their household affairs, and choose to follow him, attended by reproach and many other inconveniences, through various and uncertain habitations, instead of living quietly and at ease in their own houses. It is even possible, that Chuza, Herod’s steward, being too like his master, was strongly opposed to what his wife did in this matter, but that the pious woman overcame this opposition by the ardor and constancy of her zeal.
Calvin, John. "Commentary on Luke 8:3". "Calvin's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/cal/luke-8.html. 1840-57.
And it came to pass afterward, as he went throughout every city and village, preaching and showing the glad tidings of the kingdom of God: and twelve were with him, and certain women, which had been healed of evil spirits and infirmities, Mary called Magdalene ( Luke 8:1-2 ),
She was from Magdala, and because there were many Mary's, she was identified as Mary of Magdala, or Mary Magdalen. Jesus was called Jesus of Nazareth because there were many people by that name also. And so to identify who He was, they referred to Him as Jesus of Nazareth. Common Jewish name, Joshua in Hebrew, and it was a common name for the little boys. And so to identify Him, it was Jesus of Nazareth. Here it is Mary of Magdala, and so they called her Magdalene because that was the city from which she came.
And Jesus had cast seven devils out of her, and Joanna who was the wife of Chuza who was Herod's steward, and Susanna, and many others, which ministered unto him of their substance ( Luke 8:2-3 ).
In other words, these women that were following with the company of disciples were taking care of their needs with their substance. They were the ones that were providing the food and taking care of those needs.
I am certain that in heaven these woman who sacrificed to minister to the physical needs of Jesus during His lifetime have a very special place up there. And I imagine that they are very special women. We don't really hear much about them, not much is said concerning them. But they, no doubt, are very special women, and have a very prominent place there in the kingdom of heaven. And it will be interesting to meet them, and to get their side of the story. Because if they are anything like my wife, they can tell you so many more details of the color of their hair and eyes, and what they wore, than I can ever remember. And so the fact that we have men gospel writers, we've lost a lot of details that these women will, no doubt, be able to fill in for us, and it will be interesting talking to them indeed.
Now Jesus went about every city and village preaching and showing the glad tidings of the kingdom of God.
Paul the apostle, as he was talking to the elders of Ephesus there on the beach of Miletus, and knowing that this is the last time that he will probably see them, he said, "You know how that I kept back nothing that was profitable unto you, but I have showed you, and have taught you publicly, and from house to house." He is talking about his ministry there in Ephesus, and he said, "In my ministry to you, I showed you and I taught you."
There is much that we can learn from a lecture. But there is much that cannot be learned from a lecture, but must be learned by observation. As a person's life demonstrates what he preaches. Many times what a person preaches is totally negated because the life that he lives is not in harmony with the message that he preaches. Jesus both preached and showed. He demonstrated the message of the kingdom that He was preaching to these people. The message of the kingdom of God was the central message that Jesus had to declare to man.
Many people are confused about the kingdom of God and the kingdom of heaven. And there are some people who have tried to make it difference, and make spiritual kind of meanings and mysteries, and, "Has God revealed to you," brother bit. "The kingdom of heaven verses the kingdom of God." But the terms are used synonymously. Matthew usually refers to the kingdom of heaven. And the other gospel writers to the kingdom of God. But you can cross reference the scriptures and find that they are used synonymously. The kingdom of heaven usually refers to the kingdom of God when it has come to the earth. But it is all under the kingdom of God. And the kingdom of God is that kingdom where God is King. So when Jesus said, "The kingdom of God is among you," He was showing to them the kingdom.
He lived a life in complete submission to the Father. He showed them what it was like to live a life in submission to the Father. He said, "I do always those things that please the Father." And He showed them what kind of a life it was when you lived in complete submission to the Father as King. And when you live in submission to God as the King of your life, you are living in the kingdom of God. It's just that simple. And there is no sense in trying to make some deep spiritual mystery out of it. It's an extremely simple thing. So simple that a child can understand it. And so simple that unless you become as a child, you can't enter it. You've got to get rid of all this hocus, pocus, mysteries, spiritualizing of stuff, because Jesus said it isn't that. It isn't some kind of difficult mystery, only revealed to some initiates. It is something that a child can perceive and understand. And you've got to come as a little child to enter into the kingdom of heaven. Just as a little child says, "I love God, and I want to serve God." Bowing before God, acknowledging God as the King of your life, you've become a citizen of the kingdom of heaven. That's all it takes. Obedience to God, submission to God, and you're a part of the kingdom of God.
Jesus preached to the people of the kingdom of God. It was something that was central in their minds. They were anticipating God's establishing the kingdom of heaven on earth at that time. Especially the disciples--they felt that when the Messiah came, He was going to immediately establish the kingdom of God upon the earth. But that was not God's plan. But you remember that this was so important to them, that even when Jesus is saying to them, "Now I am going to go away, but I am going to pray the Father, and He is going to send you another Comforter, even the Spirit of Truth, that He may abide with you forever ( John 14:16 ). Now wait in Jerusalem until you receive this promise from the Father, which you've heard of Me. For John baptized you with water, but I am going to baptize you with the Holy Spirit in a few days." And they said, "Lord, will You at this time restore the kingdom? Is this when you'll set up the kingdom of God?" Jesus said, "Look, it is not given to you to know the times and the seasons that are appointed unto the Father, but you'll receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you."
They were anxious for the kingdom of God, and rightly so. Because they were living in miserable conditions as far as the world itself was concerned. We should also be anxious for the kingdom of God. And I tell you, there are times when I groan and cry for the kingdom of God. When I read the statistics of Orange County, the abused children for the month of September, and I read of all of these things that are happening to these little children, I tell you, my heart, it yearns for the kingdom of God. It cries for the kingdom of God to be established. How long, God, how long are You going to allow men to go on in his rebellion against Your kingdom? How long, God, will You forebear? And it is my prayer that the Lord come quickly and establish His kingdom. For I don't think that mankind can go on much longer. I don't think mankind will survive much longer. I think that it is imperative that God establish His kingdom soon. And as I look at the world today, my heart yearns for the kingdom of God. As I look at my little grandchildren, and I think of the world that they are growing up in, I tell you, my heart cries out to God. I don't know what I would do, should some sex pervert touch one of my grandchildren. You probably would have to bail me out. I cry, "Oh God, come quickly. Things can't go on much longer."
But Jesus was preaching the good tidings, the glad tidings of the kingdom. And it is glad tidings. A glorious day is coming. A day when men will live with peace with one another. A day when God will reign. A day when we will see the earth as God created it and intended it to be for all times. Where the deserts are blossoming like a rose. And there are streams in the deserts. And rivers in dry places. The parched ground has become a pool. And the blind will see, the lame will walk, and leap as the deer and all. These were the things that Jesus was showing as He was healing the sick. As He was feeding the multitudes. He was showing the things that would transpire in the kingdom age. And He proclaimed how beautiful and glorious it is when a man lives in obedience to God and in submission to God.
And so He preached and He showed to the kingdom of God. When Jesus was born and the angels announced to the shepherds, He announced it with these words, "Behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people" ( Luke 2:10 ). The angel was proclaiming the kingdom of God. "The King is born, He has come. He is over in Bethlehem. He is lying in a manger, you'll find Him there swaddled." And suddenly there was with that angel a multitude of heavenly hosts praising God, and saying, "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men" ( Luke 2:14 ). They were proclaiming the conditions of the kingdom. But the kingdom was to be brought by this child who the angel said, "For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, Christ the Lord" ( Luke 2:11 ). And to those who have found Jesus as their Lord, they have entered into the kingdom of God. And you can begin to enjoy even now a part of the benefits of the kingdom. As God fills your heart with His love, and with His peace.
Now there were many people that were gathered together, and they came to him out of every city, and he spoke to them by a parable: [And he said] A sower went out to sow his seeds: and as he sowed, some fell by the way side; and was trodden down, and the fowls of the air devoured it. Some fell upon a rock; and as soon as it was sprung up, it withered away, because it lacked moisture. And some fell among thorns; and the thorns sprang up with it and choked it. And other fell on good ground, and it sprang up, and it bare fruit an hundredfold. And when he had said these things, he cried, He that has an ear to hear, let him hear ( Luke 8:4-8 ).
Jesus was always saying that. And in His messages to the seven churches He repeated it to each church. "He that has an ear to hear, let him hear what the Spirit saith to the churches."
How important that we have an ear to hear what God is seeking to say. I am constantly praying, "God, give me an ear to hear what You have to say." And that is more than just hearing, it's understanding what God's message to man today would be. "God, what is Your message to me? What are You saying to me? What are You wanting to say to me? God, give me understanding, give me an ear to hear." For I realize that unless the Spirit does teach me, I can't learn. No matter how intelligent I might be, I cannot learn spiritual truth apart from the Spirit of God opening my heart to understand and to receive. For the natural man understandeth not the things of the Spirit, neither can he know them, they are spiritually discerned. God, give me an ear to hear.
And so the disciples asked him, saying, What does this parable mean? And he said unto them, Unto you it is given to know the mysteries of the kingdom of God: but to others it is spoken in parables; that seeing they might not see, and hearing they might not understand. Now the parable is this: The seed is the word of God ( Luke 8:9-11 ).
So we realize that the Word of God falls on different types of soil, or there is a different reception in the hearts of people to the Word of God. And the Lord is sort of illustrating the four types of people upon whom the Word of God falls.
Now these are those that are by the way side, there are those that hear the word of God; and then the devil comes, and takes the word out of their hearts, lest they should believe and be saved ( Luke 8:12 ).
Immediately there is just nothing, there is no penetration. The Word comes, but immediately Satan snatches it away, and it is as though they had never heard.
They that are on the rock are they, which, when they hear the word, they receive it with joy ( Luke 8:13 );
They have a great emotional experience.
but these have no root, which for a while they believe, and in time of temptation they fall away. And that which fell among the thorns, is those, when they have heard, go forth, and they are choked with cares and riches and pleasures of this life, and they bring no fruit to perfection [or completion] ( Luke 8:13-14 ).
There is no real fruit that comes from their life. They hear, they receive, but the fruitfulness is choked out by pleasures, riches, cares.
But that which fell on the good ground are they, which in an honest and good heart, having heard the word, keep it, and they bring forth fruit with patience ( Luke 8:15 ).
Now as you look at your own life and examine yourself, on what kind of soil has the Word of God fallen in your life? In which of the four categories would you place yourself: A, B, C, or D? And it might be good to take a moment with an honest look at your own heart. Am I bring forth fruit unto completion? If not, why not? Have I allowed cares, riches, desire for pleasure, to choke out my fruitfulness? On what kind of a soil has the Word of God fallen in your own heart? God help us. That we might bring forth fruit, with patience. Be not weary in well doing, in due season we will reap, if we faint not.
No man, when he has lighted a candle, covers it with a vessel, or puts it under his bed; but he sets it on a candlestick, that they which enter in may see the light. For nothing is secret, that shall not be made manifest; neither any thing hid, that shall not be known and come abroad. Take heed therefore how you hear [be careful how you hear the word of God]: for whosoever hath, to him shall be given; and whosoever has not, from him shall be taken even that which he seems to have ( Luke 8:16-18 ).
The importance of using what God has given to me for His glory. And if I do, God will add more. The Lord said, "Thou hast been faithful in a few things, now I will make you ruler over many things." That is always the process of God. Unless you are faithful in those little things that God has laid before you, He'll never lead you any further. There are a lot of people who want to jump into something big, major work for God. That's where they want to start. But they don't want to, they don't have time for teaching a Sunday school class. Or helping out in the nursery. "I want to do great things for God." And God always promotes through the ranks. Those who begin, and are diligent in those small things, God gives more. If you are not faithful in the little things, then who is going to entrust you the things of the kingdom?
Then came to him his mother and his brothers, and they could not come in because of the crowd. And it was told him by certain ones which said, Your mother, and your brothers are standing outside, and they desire to see you. And he answered and said unto them, My mother and my brothers are these which hear the word of God, and do it ( Luke 8:19-21 ).
Now in the previous parable there was that emphasis upon doing also. But here again, Jesus is declaring that that relationship that we have with Him who hear and do His word, is that of a brother. Close relationship.
Now it came to pass on a certain day, that he went into a ship with his disciples: and he said unto them, Let us go over unto the other side of the lake. And so they launched forth. And as they sailed he fell asleep: and there came down a storm of wind on the lake; they were filled with water, and were in jeopardy. And they came to him, and they awoke him, saying, Master, Master, we're perishing. And so he arose, and rebuked the wind and the raging of the water: and they ceased, and there was a calm. And he said unto them, Where is your faith? And they being afraid wondered, saying one to another, What manner of man is this! for he commands even the winds and the water, and they obey him ( Luke 8:22-25 ).
It is interesting that Jesus rebukes them for their lack of faith, when the ship was in jeopardy of sinking. Interesting, because from all appearances they were going to go under. "Where is your faith?" They weren't listening when Jesus said in verse Luke 8:22 , "Let us go over unto the other side of the lake."
Now, when you have the Word of Jesus that you are going to go over to the other side of the lake, there is no way you can go under. "He that has an ear to hear, let him hear." But they weren't listening carefully. And so when they were afraid that they were going to go under, He rebuked them because of their lack of faith, because He said, "Let's go over."
And they arrived at the country of the Gadarenes, which is over against Galilee ( Luke 8:26 ).
The city of Gadara has recently been discovered in the last two years. And at the present time they are excavating the sight of the city of Gadara. Actually, they were building a new road up into the Golan Heights, and as they were building this new road, they began to come across these ruins, and so they halted their building, and called in the archaeologist, and they discovered the sight of the aged city of Gadara. And so they moved the road a few hundred yards, and are now excavating the city of Gadara. Interestingly enough, a couple of miles from the sight of the city of Gadara is the only place around the Sea of Galilee where there is a steep incline leading into the sea. So the very area where Jesus landed in His boat can be ascertained there today, and it is near the ruins of the ancient city of Gadara. So in this very area Jesus came with His disciples.
And when they came to the land, there met him out of the city a certain man, which had devils for a long time, and he wore no clothes, nor did he live in any house, but he lived in the tombs ( Luke 8:27 ).
The rock tombs out there.
And when he saw Jesus, he cried out, and fell down before him, and with a loud voice he said, What have I to do with thee, Jesus, thou Son of God most high? I beseech thee, torment me not. (For he had commanded, Jesus had commanded the unclean spirit to come out of the man. For many times it caught him: and he was kept bound with chains and in fetters; but he broke the bands, and was driven by the devil into the wilderness.) And Jesus asked him, saying, What is your name? And he said, Legion: because many devils had entered into him. And they begged him that he would not command them to go out into the deep ( Luke 8:28-31 ).
The word translated deep is the Greek word abusso, which in other places in the New Testament is translated the bottomless pit.
There are four places mentioned in the scriptures as the places of abode for the wicked dead and for the disobedient angels and spirits. There is a place known as Tartaras, where certain angels are kept bound, awaiting the day of judgment. And they are bound in chains of Tartaras, awaiting that day of judgment. In the center of the earth, there is a place in the scriptures called Hades. In the Hebrew it is called Sheol. It is oftentimes translated grave, and many times translated hell. It is in the center of the earth. Prior to the death of Christ and resurrection, it was divided into two compartments, and in a few weeks when we get to the sixteenth chapter of Luke's gospel, we will get a description by Jesus of what this place in the center of the earth is like, known as Hades.
We know that it is in the center of the earth, because when they asked Jesus for a sign, He said, "No sign will be given to this wicked and adulterous generation, but the sign of the prophet Jonah. For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the whale, so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth" ( Matthew 12:39-40 ). And so when Jesus died, He descended into hell, into Hades, into this compartment in the center of the earth. And according to Peter, there He preached to those souls that were imprisoned. And according to Paul's letter to the Ephesians, when He ascended He led these captives from their captivity, fulfilling the prophesy of Isaiah, the sixty-first chapter, where He would "set at liberty those who were bound, and open the prison doors to those that were captive." And so Jesus led the captives from their captivity at the time of His resurrection. And they with Him ascended into heaven. However, Hades was divided into two compartments, of which there could be no concourse back and forth. And we'll get that in Luke's sixteenth chapter. And we'll just wait till we get there, and talk a little bit more at that time.
Now, somewhere upon the earth there is a shaft that goes from the surface of the earth down into Hades. This shaft in the scripture is called the abusso. It is translated the bottomless pit. And this shaft is the abode and incarceration of evil spirits. The antichrist will ascend out of the abusso, the shaft. When Satan is bound during the thousand-year reign of Christ, he will be cast into this same abusso, out of which the antichrist came. In the book of Revelation we read where an angel is given the key to the abusso during in the time of God's Great Tribulation and judgment upon the earth, and he opens up the abusso, and when he does, these creatures that John graphically describes in the book of Revelation come out of the abusso and began to attack men upon the earth. These hordes of demons released, and attacking men during the Great Tribulation period. I mean, those who have made these fantasy movies haven't seen anything yet. When you read of these creatures that will come out of the abusso, these demon apparitions, actually, and demons themselves who will come and attack men. And through the ultimate result, one third of the earth's population will be destroyed. In the beginning they have power only to hurt men for six months. And then they begin to this other horse-like creatures have power to kill, and by them a third of the earth's population will be wiped out.
Now, when Jesus comes again and He destroys the antichrist and the false prophet, they will be cast alive into Gehenna. Gehenna is described as in outer darkness.
Now how far out does space go? They say that they have discovered galaxies that are twelve billion light years away from the earth. When you get that far I don't know how accurate your measurements can be, but give or take a view billion years. But if you continued out beyond the farthest galaxy and continued on into space until the light of our galaxy did not shine, it could be that Gehenna is out there. Or it could be that Gehenna is a black hole. Sucking everything into it, the gravitation is so heavy, that not even light can escape. But it is called in the scripture, outer darkness. This is where the antichrist, the beast, and the false prophet will be cast when Jesus returns to the earth. A thousand years later, Satan will be released out of the abusso, this pit. Now, Satan and the demons will be put in the pit during the thousand-year reign of Jesus Christ in the kingdom age, but then they will be released.
Now notice, they are begging Jesus that He would not command them at this time to go to the abusso. They know that the time is coming when they will be consigned to the abusso. They're begging further liberties now. Which, interestingly enough to me, Jesus gave to them. He did not at that time command them. "Torment us not, don't send us to the abusso." And Jesus at that time did not send them to the abusso. However, they will have their time, when Satan is bound. Now, they will be released, and will create in the heart of wicked men a rebellion against God, and against the reign of Jesus Christ, and then they will be cast into Gehenna, where the beast and the false prophet are, and then the great white throne judgment of God when all men, small and great stand before God. And whosoever name was not found written in the Book of Life will also find his place in Gehenna.
Blessed is he who takes part in the first resurrection, because he's got it made, over him the second death will have no power. But this is the second death. It is God's final consignment of the wicked. They hate the light, they will not come to the light, and so God honors their desire for darkness, and casts them into outer darkness.
Way down in the depth of Oregon Caves they turned out the lights, and we experienced what the guide said was total darkness. And I mean, that was dark. We waved our hands in front of our faces to see if we could pick up any kind of a movement--you couldn't. In fact, there is something that just sort of began to press in on you. I was glad when they turned the lights on. Because total darkness can freak you out in a hurry. Especially if you are a little kid and have a vivid imagination. They will be cast into outer darkness. And Jesus said of Gehenna, "Where there is weeping, and wailing, and gnashing of teeth, and the worm dieth not." And in the book of Revelation speaking of it, it said, "And the smoke of their torment ascended from the ages throughout the ages."
So four places, by the grace of God, we don't have to go to any of them. Because now he that lives and believes in Jesus Christ shall never die, we will be changed. We know that when this earthly tent is dissolved, we have a building of God, not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. So we who are still living in these tents, our earthly bodies groan earnestly desiring to move out. Not to be unimbodied spirits, but we might move into that new building of God, not made with hands. For we know that as long as we are living in these tents, we are absent from the Lord, but we would choose rather to be absent from these tents, than to be present with the Lord.
Some day you may read Chuck Smith died, don't believe it, poor reporting. Chuck Smith moved out of an old worn out tent into a beautiful new mansion. A building of God not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. For Jesus said, "He who lives and believes in Me shall never die" ( John 11:26 ).
But here they are begging not to be sent to the abusso.
So there was a herd of many swine feeding on the mountain ( Luke 8:32 ):
Now that's illegal. These men were trafficking in illegal trade. It's like growing cocaine or poppies. And so these demons, legion,
besought him that he would allow them to enter them. And so he allowed them. And then went the devils out of the man, and entered into the swine: and the herd ran violently down the steep place into the lake, and they were choked ( Luke 8:32-33 ).
Now my son would say this is the first account of deviled ham. I wouldn't say that, but...
Now when those who were feeding the swine saw what was done, they fled into the city, and they told the people what had happened. And so the people came out to see what was done; and they came to Jesus, and they found the man, out of whom the devils were departed, and he was sitting at the feet of Jesus, he was clothed, and in his right mind ( Luke 8:34-35 ):
Healed, no longer naked and screaming and crying, and having to be bound with chains. But he is sitting there clothed, and in his right mind.
and they were afraid. And they also which saw it told them by what means the man who was possessed of devils was healed. And then the whole multitude of the country of the Gadarenes round about begged him to depart from them; for they were taken with great fear: and he went up into the ship, and returned back again ( Luke 8:35-37 ).
Isn't that tragic? The people were more interested in those swine than they were in this man's deliverance. The loss of their swine was of greater concern to them than a man's health. They begged Jesus to depart.
But the man, out of whom the devils were departed, begged him that he might be with him: but Jesus sent him away, saying, Return to your own house, and just show how great things God has done to you. And he went his way, and published throughout the whole city the great things that Jesus had done for him. Now it came to pass, that, when Jesus was returned [that is, back over the other side of the lake, Capernaum], the people gladly received him: for they were all waiting for him ( Luke 8:38-40 ).
What a contrast, on the one side they were saying, "Would you please get out of here?" And on the other side the crowd is waiting.
And, behold, there came a man name Jairus, and he was a ruler of the synagogue; and he fell down at Jesus' feet, and he besought him that he would come into his house: For he had only one daughter, about twelve years old, and she was dying. But as he went the people were thronging him. And a woman having an issue of blood for twelve years, which had spent all of her living upon physicians, neither could be healed of any, came behind him, and touched the border of His garment: and immediately her issue of blood was stopped. And Jesus said, Who touched me? And everyone denied, and Peter and those that were with Him said, Master, the multitude is thronging and pressing against you, and you say, Who touched me? Jesus said, Somebody has touched me: for I perceive that virtue is gone out of me ( Luke 8:41-46 ).
It is interesting to me that in a multitude of people who are thronging and pressing against Jesus, there is one in the crowd who touches Him. Her touch was different from the pressing and thronging. It is interesting to me that how that the Lord can minister to people individually, even in a throng, even in a multitude. And here we are tonight a multitude of people gathered together, many pressing, many thronging. How many are touching, really receiving the touch of Jesus in your life, by faith reaching out and really touching the Lord?
Here we have two cases, contrasting cases. Twelve years earlier, before the event that we read, this woman came down with a debilitating malady. She began to hemorrhage, and it would not stop. She had gone to many doctors, they treated her until her money had run out. But her condition did not improve, it was only worse. In that society, for a woman to be bleeding meant that she was unclean from a ceremonial sense and could not enter the synagogue or the place of worship. A woman afflicted with a malady for twelve years. The loss of the relationship with her husband, according to the law he could not touch her while she was hemorrhaging. She could not worship God in the synagogue while this condition persisted. And no doubt anemic and weakened as the result. For twelve years she lived in darkness, hopelessness, and was getting worse.
On the other hand, twelve years earlier in the house of Jairus, a little girl was born, and as little girls, no doubt, brought great joy, and happiness, and light, and laughter, and beauty into the home. And for twelve years they enjoyed watching this little girl as she grew up, as her personality began to develop, and all of the cute wonderful things that she had done. In one household twelve years of darkness and despair, in the other, twelve years of laughter and beauty. And so they are approaching Jesus from different angles. In both cases, the light was going out. This woman was getting worse. She didn't have any more money. She had only one hope. Get to Jesus, touch Him.
To this dad, the light was going out. His little girl who had brought such life, and joy, and happiness into the home, was at home, and she was dying. And he had only one hope: get to Jesus. And as Jesus was going to his house, and it was urgent, the girl was dying. As He stopped, I imagine that Jairus was a little irritated that He had stopped over a triviality over, "Who touched me?" For as He was going, the crowds were going with Him and pressing Him and pushing Him, thronging against Him. And I can imagine Jairus saying, "Lord, let's get unto my house; my daughter is dying. You don't understand the urgency. Why stop over a triviality of someone touching you in this crowd?" But Jesus is persisting. And even the disciples are beginning to object, they said, "Lord, with people pressing and thronging You, what do You mean, 'Who touched Me?'" Jesus said, "Someone has touched Me; I felt the virtue go out of from Me." And this woman stepped forth, and she knelt before Him trembling, and said, "I did it." And she told her story. Twelve years ago, twelve years that must have flashed on Jairus. "Twelve years ago I was stricken with a malady that ostracized me from the community, from my family, but I am healed. The moment I touched, I knew I was healed. I am healed; it stopped. I felt it, I know it." And Jesus continued on to Jairus' house, after saying to her:
Be of good comfort, daughter: thy faith has made thee whole; go in peace ( Luke 8:48 ).
Now as He was speaking, and Jesus no doubt knew this,
As he was speaking to the lady, one of the servants came running up, and he said, Don't bother the Master any more, [it's too late,] your daughter died. But Jesus turned to him, and he said, Fear not: only believe, and she shall be made whole. So when he came to the house, he did not allow any men to go in, except Peter, and James, and John, and the father and the mother of the girl. And all of those that were weeping, and wailing because of her: but he said, Don't weep; she is not dead, she is only sleeping. And they turned from their weeping, and laughed him to scorn, knowing that she was dead. And so he put them all out, and he took her by the hand, and called saying, Maid, arise ( Luke 8:49-54 ).
The word in the Greek is my little child. Twelve years old, beautiful little girl, no doubt. Who has never seen a twelve-year-old girl who wasn't beautiful? And He said, "My little child," very endearing term in the Greek, "arise."
And her spirit came again ( Luke 8:55 ),
You see, this indicates that at death our spirit departs from our body. Our spirit moves out of our body, and moves into that new body that God has. The real me is spirit, the real me isn't this body. The body is only a tent in which I am dwelling for a while. It was designed by God to exist in the conditions of this planet earth. It was designed by God and purposed by God to be the medium by which I might express me. But the body isn't me. Only the medium by which I express myself. The real me is spirit. One day my spirit will move out of this body.
Now her spirit returned to her body. It had moved out. She was dead. The spirit had moved out of the body. But her spirit returned, came again in to her body.
and she arose immediately: and he commanded that they give her something to eat. And her parents were astonished: but he charged them [or commanded them] that they should not tell any man what was done ( Luke 8:55-56 ).
Interesting little insights into the ministry of Jesus. The miracles that He performed, given to us by Luke, who being a doctor, was quite interested in these various healings that Jesus brought to the people. And interestingly enough, he uses terms that are medical terms in the Greek language, and can be found in much of the classical Greek in the very same types of diagnosis in records and classic Greek that Luke is describing here of those being healed by Jesus.
Next week chapters 9 and 10, as the Lord wills.
May the Lord be with you and may the Lord bless you. May the Lord fill you with His love and give you His grace, His power to live and to be that God would have you to do and to be. For He would have you to live in His kingdom, the child of the kingdom, the joy and the peace and the love and joy that mark His kingdom. For the kingdom of God is not meat or drink, but righteousness, peace and joy.
For extra credit get a concordance and follow up the kingdom of God and what the requirements are of that kingdom. You'll find it a very fascinating study as much is written concerning the kingdom of G "
Copyright © 2014, Calvary Chapel of Costa Mesa, Ca.
Smith, Charles Ward. "Commentary on Luke 8:3". "Smith's Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/csc/luke-8.html. 2014.
1. The companions and supporters of Jesus 8:1-3
Luke’s account stresses that concern for the multitudes motivated Jesus’ mission. Mark, on the other hand, presented opposition from the Jewish religious leaders as a reason for His activities. Matthew stressed Jesus’ desire to present Himself as the Messiah to the Jews. All these were factors that directed Jesus in His ministry.
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E. Jesus’ teaching in parables 8:1-21
The present section of Luke follows the same basic pattern as the former one. There is a block of teaching (Luke 8:1-21; cf. Luke 6:12-49) followed by another account of Jesus’ mighty works (Luke 8:22-56; cf. ch. 7).
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Luke’s mention of the women in this section prepares for his citing them as witnesses of Jesus’ resurrection later (cf. Luke 23:49; Luke 23:55; Luke 24:6; Luke 24:10; Acts 1:14). This is Luke’s third recent reference to women who benefited from Jesus’ ministry to them, several of whom responded by ministering to Him (cf. Luke 7:12-15; Luke 7:36-50). Their example provides a positive example for female readers of Luke’s Gospel.
". . . traveling around with a religious teacher conflicts strongly with traditional female roles in Jewish society. [Note: Footnote 55: B. Witherington III, Women in the Ministry of Jesus, p. 117.] Such behavior neglects a husband’s rights and a wife’s responsibilities to her family. It would probably arouse suspicion of illicit sexual relationships. In his later teaching Jesus will repeatedly tell his disciples that his call requires a break with the family (Luke 9:57-62; Luke 12:51-53; Luke 14:26; Luke 18:28-30). The last two of these passages speak of leaving ’house’ and ’children,’ which could apply to either a man or a woman, but these statements are male-oriented in that they also speak of leaving ’wife’ but not husband. [Footnote 56:] However, Luke 12:53 indicates that the division in the family caused by someone becoming a disciple will involve women as well as men. [End of footnote.] Nevertheless, Luke 8:2-3 refers to women who have evidently taken a drastic step of leaving home and family in order to share in the wandering ministry of Jesus. The discipleship of women is conceived as radically as for men-perhaps even more radically, since women of that time were very closely bound to the family-involving a sharp break with social expectations and normal responsibilities." [Note: Tannehill, 1:138.]
Many people have concluded that Mary Magdalene had been a prostitute. However the text gives no warrant for this idea. It simply says that seven demons had indwelt her. In other cases of demon possession in the Gospels the results were typically mental disorders rather than immoral conduct. "Magdalene" evidently refers to her hometown of Magdala (lit. the tower). It stood on the west side of the Sea of Galilee, south of Gennesaret and north of Tiberius. Joanna was present at Jesus’ crucifixion and empty tomb (Luke 23:55-56; Luke 24:1; Luke 24:10). She is the first of Jesus’ disciples identified as connected with Herod Antipas’ household. Chuza ("Little Pitcher") was evidently Herod’s manager or foreman, some high-ranking official in Herod’s employ (cf. Matthew 20:8; Galatians 4:2). He may or may not have been the royal official who came to Jesus in Cana and requested that Jesus come to Capernaum to heal his son (John 4:46-53).
"It may be that the special knowledge of Herod and his court reflected in Lk. came through him; he and his wife are no doubt named as well-known personalities in the church and are evidence for the existence of Christian disciples among the aristocracy." [Note: Marshall, The Gospel . . ., p. 317.]
Susanna ("Lily"), otherwise unknown to us, may also have been of special interest to Luke’s original readers. The support of these and other similar unnamed disciples explains how Jesus was able to continue His ministry financially. These women and probably some men provided money by giving sacrificially out of love for what Jesus had done for them (cf. Luke 7:36-50). It was apparently unusual for Jesus to have female followers (cf. John 4:27), though this was more common in the Hellenistic world than in Palestine. [Note: Liefeld, p. 905.]
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ON THE ROAD ( Luke 8:1-3 )
8:1-3 After that, Jesus travelled through the country, town by town, and village by village, preaching the good news of the kingdom of God. The Twelve were with him, as were certain women, who had been cured from evil spirits and from illnesses. There was Mary, who is called Mary Magdalene, out of whom there went seven devils, and Joanna, the wife of Chuza, who was Herod's agent, and Susanna and many others. It was their habit to minister to their needs out of their resources.
The time we saw coming had now come. Jesus was on the road. The synagogues were not now open to him, as once they had been. He had begun, as it were, in the church, where any man with a message from God might expect to find a responsive and receptive audience. Instead of a welcome he had found opposition; instead of eager listeners he had found the scribes and Pharisees bleakly waiting to catch him out; so now he took to the open road and the hillside and the lake shore.
(i) Once more we are confronted with a fact which we have already noted. This passage lists a little group of women who served him out of their resources. It was always considered to be a pious act to support a Rabbi, and the fact that the devoted followers of Jesus helped him in this way was in direct line with ordinary practice. But, as with the disciples, so with these women, we cannot fail to see how mixed a company they were. There was Mary Magdalene, that is Mary from the town of Magdala, out of whom he had cast seven devils. Clearly she had a past that was a dark and terrible thing. There was Joanna. She was the wife of Chuza, Herod's epitropos ( G2012) . A king had many perquisites and much private property; his epitropos ( G2012) was the official who looked after the king's financial interests. In the Roman Empire, even in provinces which were governed by proconsuls appointed by the senate, the Emperor still had his epitropos ( G2012) to safeguard his interests. There could be no more trusted and important official. It is an amazing thing to find Mary Magdalene, with the dark past, and Joanna, the lady of the court, in the one company.
It is one of the supreme achievements of Jesus that he can enable the most diverse people to live together without in the least losing their own personalities or qualities. G. K. Chesterton writes about the text which says that the lion will lie down with the lamb. "But remember that this text is too lightly interpreted. It is constantly assumed ... that when the lion lies down with the lamb the lion becomes lamb-like. But that is brutal annexation and imperialism on the part of the lamb. That is simply the lamb absorbing the lion instead of the lion eating the lamb. The real problem is--Can the lion lie down with the lamb and still retain his royal ferocity? That is the problem the Church attempted; that is the miracle she achieved." There is nothing which the church needs more than to learn how to yoke in common harness the diverse temperaments and qualities of different people. If we are failing it is our own fault, for, in Christ, it can be done--and has been done.
(ii) In this list of women we have a group whose help was practical. Being women, they would not be allowed to preach; but they gave the gifts they had. There was an old shoemaker who once had wished to become a minister but the way had never opened up. He was the friend of a young divinity student; and when the lad one day was called to his first charge the old man asked him for a favour. He asked to be allowed always to make his shoes so that he might feel the preacher was wearing his shoes in that pulpit into which he could never go himself.
It is not always the person in the foreground who is doing the greatest work. Many a man who occupies a public position could not sustain it for one week without the help of the home behind him! There is no gift which cannot be used in the service of Christ. Many of his greatest servants are in the background, unseen but essential to his cause.
THE SOWER AND THE SEED ( Luke 8:4-15 )
8:4-15 When a great crowd had gathered, and when they came to him from every city, Jesus spoke to them by means of a parable. The sower went out to sow his seed. As he sowed some seed fell by the wayside. It was trampled upon and the birds of the heaven devoured it. Other seed fell on rocky ground where it grew up and withered because there was no moisture. Other seed fell in the middle of thorns and the thorns grew up along with it and choked the life out of it. Other seed fell into good ground and it produced a crop a hundredfold. As he told the story he said, "He that has an ear to hear let him hear."
The disciples asked him what the parable meant. He said, "It is given to you to know the secrets of the kingdom of God. To the others it is presented in parables, so that they may see, and yet not see, and so that they may hear and yet not understand."
The meaning of the parable is this. The seed is the word of God. Those by the wayside stand for those who have heard, and then the devil comes and takes the word from their hearts so that they may not believe and be saved. Those on the rocky ground stand for those, who, whenever they hear the word, gladly receive it; but they have no root; they believe for a time; but when a time of trial comes they fall away. The seed that falls among thorns stands for those, who, when they have heard, go their way and are suffocated by the cares, the wealth and the pleasures of this life, and so never complete their crop. The seed that is in the good ground stands for those who have heard the word and keep hold of it in a heart that is fine and good, and bear fruit with fortitude.
In this parable Jesus used a picture that all his hearers would recognize. It is in fact quite likely that he was looking at some sower sowing his seed as he spoke.
The parable speaks of four kinds of ground.
(i) The common ground in Palestine was split into long narrow strips; between the strips there were paths which were rights of way; when the seed fell on these paths, which were beaten as hard as the road, it had no chance of getting in.
(ii) There was the rocky ground. This does not mean ground that was full of stones but ground which was only a thin skin of earth over a shelf of limestone rock. In such ground there was no moisture or nourishment, and the growing plant was bound to wither and die.
(iii) The ground which was full of thorns was ground which at the moment looked clean enough. It is possible to make any bit of ground look clean simply by turning it over. But the seeds of the weeds and the fibrous roots of the wild grasses had been left in it. The good seed and the weeds grew together, but the weeds grew more strongly; and so the life was choked out of the good seed.
(iv) The good ground was ground that was deep and clean and well-prepared.
Luke 8:9-10 have always been puzzling. It sounds as if Jesus is saying that he spoke in parables so that people would not be able to understand; but we cannot believe he would deliberately cloak his meaning from his listeners. Various explanations have been suggested.
(i) Matthew 13:13, puts it slightly differently. He says that Jesus spoke in parables because people could not rightly see and understand. Matthew seems to say that it was not to hinder people from seeing and understanding but to help them that Jesus so spoke.
(ii) Matthew quotes immediately after this a saying of Isaiah 6:9-10, which in effect says, "I have spoken to them the word of God and the only result is that they have not understood a word of it." So then the saying of Jesus may indicate not the object of his teaching in parables but the result of it.
(iii) What Jesus really meant is this--people can become so dull and heavy and blunted in mind that when God's truth comes to them they cannot see it. It is not God's fault. They have become so mentally lazy, so blinded by prejudice, so unwilling to see anything they do not want to see, that they have become incapable of assimilating God's truth.
There are two interpretations of this parable.
(i) It is suggested that it means that the fate of the word of God depends on the heart into which it is sown.
(a) The hard path represents the shut mind, the mind which refuses to take it in.
(b) The shallow ground represents those who accept the word but who never think it out and never realize its consequences and who therefore collapse when the strain comes.
(c) The thorny ground stands for those whose lives are so busy that the things of God get crowded out. We must ever remember that the things which crowd out the highest need not necessarily be bad. The worst enemy of the best is the second best.
(d) The good ground stands for the good heart. The good hearer does three things. First, he listens attentively. Second, he keeps what he hears in his mind and heart and thinks over it until he discovers its meaning for himself. Third, he acts upon it. He translates what he has heard into action.
(ii) It is suggested that the parable is really a counsel against despair. Think of the situation. Jesus has been banished from the synagogues. The scribes and the Pharisees and the religious leaders are up against him. Inevitably the disciples would be disheartened. It is to them Jesus speaks this parable and in it he is saying, "Every farmer knows that some of his seed will be lost; it cannot all grow. But that does not discourage him or make him stop sowing because he knows that in spite of all the harvest is sure. I know we have our setbacks and our discouragements; I know we have our enemies and our opponents; but, never despair, in the end the harvest is sure."
This parable can be both a warning as to how we hear and receive the word of God and an encouragement to banish all despair in the certainty that not all the setbacks can defeat the ultimate harvest of God.
LAWS FOR LIFE ( Luke 8:16-18 )
8:16-18 No one lights a lamp and then hides it under a vessel or puts it under a bed. No! he puts it on a lamp-stand so that those who come in may see the light. There is nothing hidden which will not be made manifest; there is nothing secret which will not be known and brought into the open. Take care, then, how you listen; for to him who has it will be given; and from him who has not there shall be taken away even what he thinks he has.
Here we have three sayings, each with its own warning for life.
(i) Luke 8:16 stresses the essential conspicuousness of the Christian life. Christianity is in its very nature something which must be seen. It is easy to find prudential reasons why we should not flaunt our Christianity in the world's face. In almost every person there is an instinctive fear of being different; and the world is always likely to persecute those who do not conform to pattern.
A writer tells how he kept hens. In the hen-run all the hens were precisely the same in marking except one. The one different hen was pecked to death by the other occupants of the hen-run. Even in the animal world, being different is a crime.
Hard as it may be, the duty is laid upon us of never being ashamed to show whose we are and whom we serve; and if we regard the matter in the right way it will be, not a duty, but a privilege.
A short time before the Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II most houses and shops were displaying flags. I was out on a country road at that time; and in a little copse by the roadside I came upon a tinker's camp. It consisted of only one little tent, and beside the tent there fluttered on a pole a Union Jack nearly as big as the tent itself. It was as if that vagrant tinker said, "I haven't got much in this world; but I am going to attach my colours to what I have."
The Christian, however humble his position and his sphere, must never be ashamed to show his colours.
(ii) Luke 8:17 stresses the impossibility of secrecy. There are three people from whom we try to hide things.
(a) Sometimes we try to hide things from ourselves. We shut our eyes to the consequences of certain actions and habits, consequences of which we are well aware. It is like a man deliberately shutting his eyes to symptoms of an illness which he knows he has. We have only to state that to see its incredible folly.
(b) Sometimes we try to hide things from our fellow men. Things have a way of coming out. The man with a secret is an unhappy man. The happy man is the man with nothing to hide. It is told that once an architect offered to build for Plato a house in which every room would be hidden from the public eye. "I will give you twice the money," said Plato, "if you build me a house into every room of which all men's eyes can see." Happy is the man who can speak like that.
(c) Sometimes we try to hide things from God. No man ever attempted a more impossible task. We would do well to have before our eyes forever the text which says, "Thou art a God of seeing." ( Genesis 16:13.)
(iii) Luke 8:18 lays down the universal law that the man who has will get more; and that the man who has not will lose what he has. If a man is physically fit and keeps himself so, his body will be ready for ever greater efforts; if he lets himself go flabby, he will lose even the abilities he has. The more a student learns, the more he can learn; but if he refuses to go on learning, he will lose the knowledge he has. This is just another way of saying that there is no standing still in life. All the time we are either going forward or going back. The seeker will always find; but the man who stops seeking will lose even what he has.
TRUE KINSHIP ( Luke 8:19-21 )
8:19-21 Jesus' mother and brothers came to him, and they could not get at him because of the crowd. He was given a message. "Your mother and your brothers are standing outside and they want to see you." "My mother and my brothers," he answered them, "are those who hear the word of God and do it."
It is not difficult to see that, at least during his lifetime, Jesus' family were not in sympathy with him. Mark 3:21 tells us how his kinsmen came and tried to restrain him because they believed him to be mad. In Matthew 10:36 Jesus warns his followers that a man's foes may well be those of his own household--and he was speaking out of hard and bitter experience.
There is in this passage a great and practical truth. It may very well be that a man finds himself closer to people who are not related to him than he does to his own kith and kin. The deepest relationship of life is not merely a blood relationship; it is the relationship of mind to mind and heart to heart. It is when people have common aims, common principles, common interests, a common goal that they become really and truly kin.
Let us remember that definition of the kingdom which we already worked out. The kingdom of God is a society upon earth where God's will is as perfectly done as it is in heaven. It was Jesus' supreme quality that he alone succeeded in fully achieving the identity of his will and the will of God. Therefore, all whose one aim in life is to make God's will their will are the true kindred of Jesus. We speak of all men being the sons of God; and in a very real and precious sense that is true, because God loves saint and sinner; but the deepest kind of sonship is ethically conditioned. It is when a man puts his will in line with God's will by the help of the Holy Spirit, that real kinship begins.
The Stoics declared that that was the only way to happiness in this life. They had the conviction that everything that happens--joy and sorrow, triumph and disaster, gain and loss, sunshine and shadow--was the will of God. When a man refused to accept it he battered his head against the walls of the universe and could bring himself nothing but pain and trouble of heart.
When a man looks up to God and says, "Do with me as you wish," he has found the way to joy.
Two things emerge:
(i) There is a loyalty which surpasses all earthly loyalties; there is something which takes precedence of the dearest things on earth. In that sense Jesus Christ is a demanding master, for he will share a man's heart with nothing and with no one. Love is necessarily exclusive. We can love only one person at a time and serve only one master at a time.
(ii) That is hard; but there is this great wonder--that when a man gives himself absolutely to Christ he becomes one of a family whose boundaries are the earth. Whatever loss he may experience is counterbalanced by his gain. As John Oxenham wrote:
"In Christ there is no East or West,
In him no South or North,
But one great fellowship of love
Throughout the whole wide earth.
In him shall true hearts everywhere
Their high communion find,
His service is the golden cord
Close-binding all mankind.
Join hands, then, brother of the faith,
Whate'er your race may be!
Who serves my Father as a son
Is surely kin to me.
In Christ now meet both East and West,
In him meet South and North,
All Christly souls are one in him,
Throughout the whole wide earth."
The man who, through Jesus Christ, seeks the will of God has entered into a family which includes all the saints in earth and in heaven.
CALM AMIDST THE STORM ( Luke 8:22-25 )
8:22-25 One day Jesus and his disciples embarked upon a ship. "Let us go over," he said to them, "to the other side of the lake." So they set sail. As they sailed he fell asleep. A violent squall of wind came down upon the lake; and the boat began to fill with water; and they were in peril. They came to him and woke him. "Master, Master," they said, "we are perishing." When he awoke, he rebuked the wind and the surf of the water. They ceased their raging, and there was a calm. "Where is your faith?" he said to them. But they were awe-stricken and amazed. "Who can this be," they said to each other, "because he gives his orders even to the winds and the water, and they obey him?"
Luke tells this story with an extraordinary economy of words, and yet with extraordinary vividness. It was no doubt for much needed rest and quiet that Jesus decided to cross the lake. As they sailed, he fell asleep.
It is a lovely thing to think of the sleeping Jesus. He was tired, just as we become tired. He, too, could reach the point of exhaustion when the claim of sleep is imperative. He trusted his men; they were the fishermen of the lake and he was content to leave things to their skill and seamanship, and to relax. He trusted God; he knew that he was as near to God by sea as ever he was by land.
Then the storm came down. The Sea of Galilee is famous for its sudden squalls. A traveller says, "The sun had scarcely set when the wind began to rush down towards the lake, and it continued all night long with increasing violence, so that when we reached the shore next morning the face of the lake was like a huge boiling caldron." The reason is this. The Sea of Galilee is more than six hundred feet below sea level. It is surrounded by table lands beyond which the great mountains rise. The rivers have cut deep ravines through the table lands down into the sea. These ravines act like great funnels to draw down the cold winds from the mountains; and thus the storms arise. The same traveller tells how they tried to pitch their tents in such a gale. "We had to double-pin all the tent-ropes, and frequently were obliged to hang on with our whole weight upon them to keep the quivering tabernacle from being carried up bodily into the air."
It was just such a sudden storm that struck the boat that day, and Jesus and his disciples were in peril of their lives. The disciples woke Jesus and with a word he calmed the storm.
Everything that Jesus did had more than a merely temporal significance. And the real meaning of this incident is that, wherever Jesus is, the storm becomes a calm.
(i) Jesus comes, calms the storms of temptation. Sometimes temptation comes with almost overmastering force. As Stevenson once said, "You know the Caledonian Railway Station in Edinburgh? One cold bleak morning I met Satan there." It comes to us all to meet Satan. If we meet the tempest of temptation alone we will perish; but Christ brings the calm in which temptations lose their power.
(ii) Jesus calms the storms of passion. Life is doubly difficult for the man with the hot heart and the blazing temper. A friend met such a man. "I see," he said, "that you have succeeded in conquering your temper." "No," said the man, "I didn't conquer it. Jesus conquered it for me."
"When deep within our swelling hearts
The thoughts of pride and anger rise,
When bitter words are on our tongues
And tears of passion in our eyes,
Then we may stay the angry blow,
Then we may check the hasty word,
Give gentle answers back again,
And fight a battle for our Lord."
It is a losing battle unless Jesus gives us the calm of victory.
(iii) Jesus calms the storms of sorrow. Into every life some day the tempest of sorrow must come, for sorrow is ever the penalty of love and if a man loves he will sorrow. When Pusey's wife died, he said, "It was as if there was a hand beneath my chin to hold me up." In that day, in the presence of Jesus, the tears are wiped away and the wounded heart is soothed.
THE DEFEAT OF THE DEMONS ( Luke 8:26-39 )
8:26-39 They came in their voyage to the district of the Gerasenes, which is across the lake from Galilee. When Jesus had disembarked on the land there met him a man from the town who had demons. For a long time he had gone unclothed, and he did not stay in a house and fell down before him and shouted, "What have you and I to do with each other, Jesus, you Son of the Most High God? I beseech you--don't torture me!"--for Jesus had commanded the unclean spirit to come out of the man. For many a time it had snatched at him, and he was kept bound with chains and fetters, but when he was driven into the deserted places by the demons, he would burst the fetters. Jesus answered, "What is your name?" He said, "A regiment"--because many demons had entered into him, and they begged him not to order them to depart to the abyss. There was a herd of many pigs there, feeding on the mountainside. The demons asked him to allow them to go into them. He did so. So the demons came out of the man and into the pigs, and the herd rushed down the precipice into the lake and were drowned. When those who were in charge of them saw what had happened, they fled and brought the story to the town and to the countryside round about. They came out to see what had happened. They came to Jesus and found the man from whom the demons had gone out sitting there at Jesus' feet, clothed and in his senses--and they were afraid. Those who had seen what had happened told them how the demon-possessed man had been cured; and the whole crowd from the Gerasene countryside asked him to go away from them, because they were in the grip of a great fear. So he embarked on the ship and went away. The man from whom the demons had gone out begged to be allowed to go with him; but he sent him away. "Go back," he said, "to your home and tell the story of all that God did for you." So he went away and proclaimed throughout the whole town all that God had done for him.
We will never even begin to understand this story unless we realize that, whatever we think about the demons, they were intensely real to the people of Gerasa and to the man whose mind was deranged. This man was a case of violent insanity. He was too dangerous to live amongst men and he lived amidst the tombs, which were believed to be the home and the haunt of demons. We may well note the sheer courage of Jesus in dealing with him. The man had a maniacal strength which enabled him to snap his fetters. His fellow-men were so terrified of him that they would never try to do anything for him; but Jesus faced him calm and unafraid.
When Jesus asked the man his name, he answered, "Legion." A Roman legion was a regiment of 6,000 soldiers. Doubtless this man had seen a Roman legion on the march, and his poor, afflicted mind felt that there was not one demon but a whole regiment inside him. It may well be that the word haunted him because he had seen atrocities carried out by a Roman legion when he was a child. It is possible that it was the sight of such atrocities which left a scar upon his mind and ultimately sent him mad.
Far too much difficulty has been made out of the pigs. Jesus has been condemned for sending the demons into the innocent swine. That has been characterised as a cruel and immoral action. Again we must remember the intensity of the belief in demons. The man, thinking the demons were speaking through him, pleaded with Jesus not to send them into the abyss of hell to which they would be consigned in the final judgment. He would never have believed that he was cured unless he had visible demonstration. Nothing less than the visible departure of the demons would have convinced him.
Surely what happened was this. The herd of swine was feeding there on the mountain side. Jesus was exerting his power to cure what was a very stubborn case. Suddenly the man's wild shouts and screams disturbed the swine and they went dashing down the steep place into the sea in blind terror. "Look!" said Jesus, "Look! Your demons are gone!" Jesus had to find a way to get into the mind of this poor man; and in that way he found it.
In any event, can we compare the value of a herd of swine with the value of a man's immortal soul? If it cost the lives of these swine to save that soul, are we to complain? Is it not perverse fastidiousness which complains that swine were killed in order to heal a man? Surely we ought to preserve a sense of proportion. If the only way to convince this man of his cure was that the swine should perish, it seems quite extraordinarily blind to object that they did.
We must look at the reaction of two sets of people.
(i) There were the Gerasenes. They asked Jesus to go away.
(a) They hated having the routine of life disturbed. Life went peacefully on till there arrived this disturbing Jesus; and they hated him. More people hate Jesus because he disturbs them than for any other reason. If he says to a man, "You must give up this habit, you must change your life"; if he says to an employer, "You can't be a Christian and make people work under conditions like that"; if he says to a landlord, "You can't take money for slums like that"--one and all are liable to say to him, "Go away and let me be in peace."
(b) They loved their swine more than they valued the soul of a man. One of life's supreme dangers is to value things more than persons. That is what created slums and vicious working conditions. Nearer home, that is what makes us selfishly demand our ease and comfort even if it means that someone who is tired has to slave for us. No thing in this world can ever be as important as a person.
(ii) There was the man who was cured. Very naturally he wanted to come with Jesus but Jesus sent him home. Christian witness, like Christian charity, begins at home. It would be so much easier to live and speak for Christ among people who do not know us. But it is our duty, where Christ has set us, there to witness for him. And if it should happen that we are the only Christian in the shop, the office, the school, the factory, the circle in which we live or work, that is not matter for lamentation. It is a challenge in which God says, "Go and tell the people you meet every day what I have done for you."
AN ONLY CHILD IS HEALED ( Luke 8:40-42 ; Luke 8:49-56 )
8:40-42,49-56 When Jesus came back the crowd welcomed him for they were all waiting for him. A man called Jairus came to him. He was the president of the synagogue. He threw himself at Jesus' feet and asked him to come to his house, because he had an only daughter who was about twelve years of age and she was dying. As he went the crowd pressed round him ... While he was still speaking someone came from the president's house. "Your daughter is dead," he said. "Don't bother the Master any more." Jesus heard this. "Don't be afraid," he said. "Just have faith and she will be cured." When he had come to the house he allowed no one to come in with him, except Peter and John and James, and the girl's father and mother. They were all weeping and wailing for her. "Stop weeping," he said, "for she is not dead but sleeping." They laughed him down because they were sure she was dead. He took hold of her hand and said to her, "Child, rise!" Her breath came back to her and immediately she rose. He told them to give her something to eat. Her parents were out of themselves with amazement; but he enjoined them to tell no one what had happened.
Here is the pathos of life suddenly turned to gladness. Very keenly Luke felt the tragedy of this girl's death. There were three things which made it so poignant.
(a) She was an only child. Only Luke tells us that. The light of her parents' life had gone out.
(b) She was about twelve years of age. That is to say she was just at the dawn of womanhood because children in the East develop much more quickly than in the West. She could even have been contemplating marriage at that age. What should have been the morning of life had become the night.
(c) Jairus was the president of the synagogue. That is to say, he was the man who was responsible for the administration of the synagogue and the ordering of public worship. He had reached the highest post that life could give him in the respect of his fellow-men. No doubt he was well to do; no doubt he had climbed the ladder of earthly ambition and prestige. It seemed as if life--as it sometimes does--had given lavishly of many things but was about to take the most precious thing away. All the pathos of life is in the background of this story.
The wailing women had already come. To us it sounds almost repulsively artificial. But to hire these wailing women was a token of respect to the dead that was never omitted. They were sure she was dead, but Jesus said she was asleep. It is perfectly possible that Jesus meant this literally. It may well be that here we have a real miracle of diagnosis; that Jesus saw the girl was in a deep trance and that she was on the point of being buried alive. From the evidence of the tombs in Palestine it is clear that many were buried alive. It could happen the more easily because climatic conditions in Palestine made burial within a matter of hours a sheer necessity. However that may be, Jesus gave her back her life.
We must note one very practical touch. Jesus ordered that the girl should be given something to eat. Is it possible that he was thinking just as much of the mother as of the girl? The mother, with the pain of grief and the sudden shock of joy, must have been almost on the point of collapse. At such a time to do some practical thing with one's hands is a life-saver. And it may well be that Jesus, in his kindly wisdom which knew human nature so well, was giving the overwrought mother a job to do to calm her nerves.
But by far the most interesting character in this story is Jairus.
(i) He was clearly a man who could pocket his pride. He was the president of the synagogue. By this time the synagogue doors were rapidly closing on Jesus, if indeed they had not already closed. He could have had no love for Jesus and he must have regarded Jesus as a breaker of the law. But in his hour of need, he pocketed his pride and asked for help.
There is a famous story of Roland, the paladin of Charlemagne. He was in charge of the rearguard of the army and he was suddenly caught by the Saracens at Roncesvalles. The battle raged fiercely against terrible odds. Now Roland had a horn called Olivant which he had taken from the giant Jatmund and its blast could be heard thirty miles away. So mighty was it that, so they said, the birds fell dead when its blast tore through the air. Oliver, his friend, besought him to blow the horn so that Charlemagne would hear and come back to help. But Roland was too proud to ask for help. One by one his men fell fighting till only he was left. Then at last with his dying breath he blew the horn, and Charlemagne came hasting back. But it was too late, for Roland was dead--because he was too proud to ask for help.
It is easy to think that we can handle life ourselves. But the way to find the miracles of the grace of God is to pocket our pride and humbly to confess our need and ask. Ask, and you will receive--but there is no receiving without asking.
(ii) Jairus was clearly a man of a stubborn faith. Whatever he felt, he did not wholly accept the verdict of the wailing women; for with his wife he went into the room where the girl lay. He hoped against hope. No doubt in his heart there was the feeling, "You never know what this Jesus can do." And none of us knows all that Jesus can do. In the darkest day we can still hope in the unsearchable riches and the all-sufficient grace and the unconquerable power of God.
NOT LOST IN THE CROWD ( Luke 8:43-48 )
8:43-48 There was a woman who had had a flow of blood for twelve years. She had spent all her living on doctors and she could not be cured by any of them. She came up behind Jesus and she touched the tassel of his robe; and immediately her flow of blood was stayed. Jesus said, "Who touched me?" When they were all denying that they had done so, Peter and his companions said, "Master, the crowds are all round you and press in upon you." Jesus said, "Someone has touched me, for I know that power has gone out of me." The woman saw that she could not hide. She came all trembling; she threw herself at his feet; and in front of everyone she had told him why she had touched him, and that she had been cured there and then. "Daughter," he said to her, "your faith has cured you. Go in peace."
This story laid hold on the heart and the imagination of the early church. It was believed that the woman was a gentile from Caesarea Philippi. Eusebius, the great church historian (A.D. 300), relates how it was said that the woman had at her own cost erected a statue commemorating her cure in her native city. It was said that that statue remained there until Julian, the Roman Emperor who tried to bring back the pagan gods, destroyed it, and erected his own in place of it, only to see his own statue blasted by a thunderbolt from God.
The shame of the woman was that ceremonially she was unclean ( Leviticus 15:19-33). Her issue of blood had cut her off from life. That was why she did not come openly to Jesus but crept up in the crowd; and that was why at first she was so embarrassed when Jesus asked who touched him.
All devout Jews wore robes with fringes on them ( Numbers 15:37-41; Deuteronomy 22:12). The fringes ended in four tassels of white thread with a blue thread woven through them. They were to remind the Jew every time he dressed that he was a man of God and committed to the keeping of God's laws. Later, when it was dangerous to be a Jew, these tassels were worn on the undergarments. Nowadays they still exist on the talith or shawl that the Jew wears round his head and shoulders when he is at prayer. But in the time of Jesus they were worn on the outer garment, and it was one of these the woman touched.
Luke the doctor is here in evidence again. Mark says of the woman that she had spent her all on the doctors and was no better but rather grew worse ( Mark 5:26). Luke misses out the final phrase, because he did not like this gibe against the doctors!
The lovely thing about this story is that from the moment Jesus was face to face with the woman, there seemed to be nobody there but he and she. It happened in the middle of a crowd; but the crowd was forgotten and Jesus spoke to that woman as if she was the only person in the world. She was a poor, unimportant sufferer, with a trouble that made her unclean, and yet to that one unimportant person Jesus gave all of himself.
We are very apt to attach labels to people and to treat them according to their relative importance. To Jesus a person had none of these man-made labels. He or she was simply a human soul in need. Love never thinks of people in terms of human importances.
A distinguished visitor once came to call on Thomas Carlyle. He was working and could not be disturbed, but Jane, his wife, agreed to take this visitor up and open the door just a chink that he might at least see the sage. She did so, and as they looked in at Carlyle, immersed in his work and oblivious of all else, penning the books that made him famous, she said, "That's Tammas Carlyle about whom all the world is talking--and he's my man." It was not in terms of the world's labels Jane thought, but in terms of love.
A traveller tells how she was travelling in Georgia in the days before the Second World War. She was taken to see a very humble old woman in a little cottage. The old peasant woman asked her if she was going to Moscow. The traveller said she was. "Then," asked the woman, "would you mind delivering a parcel of home-made toffee to my son? He can not get anything like it in Moscow." Her son's name was Josef Stalin. We do not normally think of the man who was once dictator of all the Russias as a man who liked toffee--but his mother did! For her the man-made labels did not matter.
Almost everybody would have regarded the woman in the crowd as totally unimportant. For Jesus she was someone in need, and therefore he, as it were, withdrew from the crowd and gave himself to her. "God loves each one of us as if there was only one of us to love."
-Barclay's Daily Study Bible (NT)
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Barclay, William. "Commentary on Luke 8:3". "William Barclay's Daily Study Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/dsb/luke-8.html. 1956-1959.
And Joanna, the wife of Chuza, Herod's steward,.... Joanna, or Juchan, as the Syriac version calls her, was a name, among the Jews, for a woman, as Jochanan, or John, was for a man. In the Talmud e we read of one Jochani, or Joanni, the daughter of Retibi, the same name with this. Her husband's name was Chuza. Dr. Lightfoot observes, from a Talmudic treatise f, such a name in the genealogy of Haman, who is called the son of Chuza; and Haman being an Edomite, and this man being in the family of Herod, who was of that race, suggests it to be an Idumean name. But in my edition of that treatise, Haman is not called the son of Chuza, but בר כיזא, "the son of Ciza"; and besides, Chuza is a Jewish name, and the name of a family of note among the Jews: hence we read g of R. Broka the Chuzite; where the gloss is, "for he was", מבי חוזאי, "of the family of Chuzai". And elsewhere h mention is made of two sons of Chuzai; and both the gloss, and Piske Harosh upon the place, say, "they were Jews": so Abimi is said to be of the family of Chuzai, or the Chuzites i; and the same is said of R. Acha k. This man, here mentioned, was Herod's steward; a steward of Herod the "tetrarch", of Galilee. The Arabic version calls him his "treasurer"; and the Vulgate Latin, and the Ethiopic versions, his "procurator"; and some have thought him to be a deputy governor of the province under him; but he seems rather to be a governor, or "chief of his house", as the Syriac version renders it: he was one that presided in his family, and managed his domestic affairs; was an overseer of them, as Joseph was in Potiphar's house; and the same Greek word that is here used, is adopted by the Jews into their language, and used of Joseph l: and who moreover say m,
"let not a man appoint a steward in his house; for if Potiphar had not appointed Joseph, אפוטרופוס, "a steward" in his house, he had not come into that matter,''
of calumny and reproach. It was common for kings, princes, and great men, to have such an officer in their families. We read n of a steward of king Agrippa's, who was of this same family. The Persic version is very foreign to the purpose, making Chuza to be "of the family of Herod". This man might be either dead, as some have conjectured; or, if living, might be secretly a friend of Christ, and so willing that his wife should follow him; or, if an enemy, such was her zeal for Christ, that she cheerfully exposed herself to all his resentments; and chose rather meanness, contempt, and persecution with Christ, and for his sake, than to enjoy all the pleasures of Herod's court without him.
And Susannah; this also was a name for a woman with the, Jews, as appears from the history of one of this name with them, which stands among the apocryphal writings. She, as well as Joanna, and perhaps also Mary Magdalene, were rich, and persons of substance, as well as note, as should seem by what follows: "and many others"; that is, many other women; for the words, are of the feminine gender:
which ministered unto him of their substance; four ancient copies of Beza's, and five of Stephens's, and the Syriac version read, "which ministered unto them"; that is, to Christ, and his disciples, as the Persic version expresses it. This shows the gratitude of these women, who having received favours from Christ, both for their souls and bodies, make returns to him out of their worldly substance, in a way of thankfulness; and also the low estate of Christ, and his disciples, who stood in need of such ministrations; and may be an instruction to the churches of Christ to take care of their ministers, and to communicate in all good things to them, of whose spiritual things they partake; and may be a direction to them to minister to them of what is their own substance, and not another's; and to minister a proper part, and not the whole, as these women ministered to Christ, and his apostles, of substance which was their own, and that not all of it, but out of it.
e T. Bab. Sota, fol. 22. 1. f Massechet Sopherim, c. 13. sect. 6. g T. Bab. Tasnith, fol. 22. 1. h T. Bab. Nedarim, fol. 22. 1. i Juchasin, fol. 75. 1. k Juchasin, fol. 78. 1. l Targum Jon. & Jerus. in Gen. xxxix. 4. m T. Bab. Beracot, fol 63. 1. & Maimon lssure Bia, c. 22. sect. 15. & Maggid Misn. in ib. n T. Bab. Sacca, fol. 27. 1.
The New John Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible Modernised and adapted for the computer by Larry Pierce of Online Bible. All Rights Reserved, Larry Pierce, Winterbourne, Ontario.
A printed copy of this work can be ordered from: The Baptist Standard Bearer, 1 Iron Oaks Dr, Paris, AR, 72855
Gill, John. "Commentary on Luke 8:3". "Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/geb/luke-8.html. 1999.
|The Ministry of Christ.|
1 And it came to pass afterward, that he went throughout every city and village, preaching and showing the glad tidings of the kingdom of God: and the twelve were with him, 2 And certain women, which had been healed of evil spirits and infirmities, Mary called Magdalene, out of whom went seven devils, 3 And Joanna the wife of Chuza Herod's steward, and Susanna, and many others, which ministered unto him of their substance.
We are here told,
I. What Christ made the constant business of his life--it was preaching; in that work he was indefatigable, and went about doing good (Luke 8:1; Luke 8:1), afterward--en to kathexes--ordine, in the proper time or method. Christ took his work before him and went about it regularly. He observed a series or order of business, so that the end of one good work was the beginning of another. Now observe here, 1. Where he preached: He went about--diodeue--peragrabat. He was an itinerant preacher, did not confine himself to one place, but diffused the beams of his light. Circumibat--He went his circuit, as a judge, having found his preaching perhaps most acceptable where it was new. He went about through every city, that none might plead ignorance. Hereby he set an example to his disciples; they must traverse the nations of the earth, as he did the cities of Israel. Nor did he confine himself to the cities, but went into the villages, among the plain country-people, to preach to the inhabitants of the villages,Judges 5:11. 2. What he preached: He showed the glad tidings of the kingdom of God, that it was now to be set up among them. Tidings of the kingdom of God are glad tidings, and those Jesus Christ came to bring; to tell the children of men that God was willing to take all those under his protection that were willing to return to their allegiance. It was glad tidings to the world that there was hope of its being reformed and reconciled. 3. Who were his attendants: The twelve were with him, not to preach if he were present, but to learn from him what and how to preach hereafter, and, if occasion were, to be sent to places where he could not go. Happy were these his servants that heard his wisdom.
II. Whence he had the necessary supports of life: He lived upon the kindness of his friends. There were certain women, who frequently attended his ministry, that ministered to him of their substance,Luke 8:2; Luke 8:3. Some of them are named; but there were many others, who were zealously affected to the doctrine of Christ, and thought themselves bound in justice to encourage it, having themselves found benefit, and in charity, hoping that many others might find benefit by it too.
1. They were such, for the most part, as had been Christ's patients, and were the monuments of his power and mercy; they had been healed by him of evil spirits and infirmities. Some of them had been troubled in mind, had been melancholy, others of them afflicted in body, and he had been to them a powerful healer. He is the physician both of body and soul, and those who have been healed by him ought to study what they shall render to him. We are bound in interest to attend him, that we may be ready to apply ourselves to him for help in case of a relapse; and we are bound in gratitude to serve him and his gospel, who hath saved us, and saved us by it.
2. One of them was Mary Magdalene, out of whom had been cast seven devils; a certain number for an uncertain. Some think that she was one that had been very wicked, and then we may suppose her to be the woman that was a sinner mentioned just before, Luke 7:37; Luke 7:37. Dr. Lightfoot, finding in some of the Talmudists' writings that Mary Magdalene signified Mary the plaiter of hair, thinks it applicable to her, she having been noted, in the days of her iniquity and infamy, for that plaiting of hair which is opposed to modest apparel,1 Timothy 2:9. But, though she had been an immodest woman, upon her repentance and reformation she found mercy, and became a zealous disciple of Christ. Note, The greatest of sinners must not despair of pardon; and the worse any have been before their conversion the more they should study to do for Christ after. Or, rather, she was one that had been very melancholy, and then, probably, it was Mary the sister of Lazarus, who was a woman of a sorrowful spirit, who might have been originally of Magdala, but removed to Bethany. This Mary Magdalene was attending on Christ's cross and his sepulchre, and, if she was not Mary the sister of Lazarus, either that particular friend and favourite of Christ's did not attend then, or the evangelists did not take notice of her, neither of which we can suppose; thus Dr. Lightfoot argues. Yet there is this to be objected against it that Mary Magdalene is reckoned among the women that followed Jesus from Galilee (Matthew 27:55; Matthew 27:56); whereas Mary the sister of Lazarus had her residence in Bethany.
3. Another of them was Joanna the wife of Chuza, Herod's steward. She had been his wife (so some), but was now a widow, and left in good circumstances. If she was now his wife, we have reason to think that her husband, though preferred in Herod's court, had received the gospel, and was very willing that his wife should be both a hearer of Christ and a contributor to him.
4. There were many of them that ministered to Christ of their substance. It was an instance of the meanness of that condition to which our Saviour humbled himself that he needed it, and of his great humility and condescension that he accepted it. Though he was rich, yet for our sakes he became poor, and lived upon alms. Let none say that they scorn to be beholden to the charity of their neighbours, when Providence has brought them into straits; but let them ask and be thankful for it as a favour. Christ would rather be beholden to his known friends for a maintenance for himself and his disciples than be burdensome to strangers in the cities and villages whither he came to preach. Note, It is the duty of those who are taught in the word to communicate to them who teach them in all good things; and those who are herein liberal and cheerful honour the Lord with their substance, and bring a blessing upon it.
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Henry, Matthew. "Complete Commentary on Luke 8:3". "Henry's Complete Commentary on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/mhm/luke-8.html. 1706.
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.
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Kelly, William. "Commentary on Luke 8:3". Kelly Commentary on Books of the Bible. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/wkc/luke-8.html. 1860-1890.
the Fifth Week after Easter