The Gospels

(Volume 5 of the Numerical Bible: The Fifth Pentateuch of the Bible)

F. W. Grant.

Luke

Division 3. (Luke 18:35 — 24.)

Restoration, its hindrances and accomplishment; and the peace-offering work by which man is brought nigh.

We enter now upon the last division of the book, in which the glorious work is set before us, in that Peace-offering aspect which, as we have seen, gives character to the whole of Luke. For the most part, the history here comes closely together in the three synoptic Gospels, yet with peculiar passages in the present one, such as the story of Zacchaeus and of the penitent thief, which any one would recognize as such. In Luke also, as in Mark only besides, the Lord's ascension into heaven closes the book; a fact so much the more significant because with the ascension and what immediately precedes this, the same writer commences the Acts. The Father's house, which we have before seen opened to receive a prodigal, here receives the One whose work has justified this reception. "We joy in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom we have now received the reconciliation."

Subdivision 1. (Luke 18:35 — 21:36.)

The King.

The subdivisions are similar to those in Mark: the first giving the first coming of the King, with the fatal hindrances to restoration for Israel at that time, when for a moment it might seem to be at hand; going on; however, to His second coming when that restoration is accomplished. The general character of what is here resembles Mark rather than Matthew, as indeed we might expect; those parts also in which Mark cleaves to Matthew being often omitted by Luke. It is the King, however, necessarily, that is presented here in all the three.

1. (1) That which takes place at Jericho is more fully given by Luke than elsewhere. The story of the blind man, however, is almost precisely as in Mark, Luke showing its character in the closing ascription of glory to God, both on the part of the blind man; and the people who witness it. The beginning of God's work in a soul, as it was in nature, is the bringing in of light. Israel was now but the blind, led of the blind; and with the light in their midst, the "God of this world darkened the minds of those that believed not, lest the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them."

We have seen in the blind men here (for Matthew shows us two of them) a picture of that remnant in the last days who shall have their eyes opened to see and follow Jesus as their King. Crying after Him, the multitude in that day will indeed "rebuke them that they should hold their peace," but they will only cry the louder to Him, who, finding them in the city of the curse, will presently lead them up to the city of blessing, and of His rest for ever.

(2) The story of Zacchaeus follows and is still connected with Jericho and the Lord's passing through it. The name means "pure" or "clean," as his words to the Lord show him to be. We are to take them surely, not as the profession of what he meant to do, but as the answer to the murmured charge against him, and which implicated Christ also, that He was gone to lodge with a man that was a sinner. "A sinner!" he would say, "behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor, and if I have taken anything from any one by false accusation," — a thing which might be done without design — "I restore him fourfold." He is speaking of what he does habitually, not of what he has made a new resolve to do.

And yet Zacchaeus is no mere Pharisee under his publican's garb. There may well be the Pharisee in him, for it is in our fallen nature; and the Lord's words, gentle and gracious as they are, are well adapted to meet such a condition; even while to one characterized by it He could not have used them. For "a son of Abraham" meant with Him assuredly a child of faith (comp. John 8:39); and that day had salvation come to that house, with the Object of faith received within it. Thus, not from that "cleanness" of life that he could claim came salvation to him, nor even the assurance of it, but from Him whom he had sought, who had been seeking Him first: "for the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost." Such, then, was Zacchaeus.

(3) The parable that follows is plainly stated to be supplemental to the Lord's words just spoken; and in correction of the thought that the Kingdom of God was going to be manifested immediately. Nay, He was as a man going into a far country, to receive for himself a kingdom and to return to take possession of it. Time would be given in this way for His servants to prove their faithfulness to Him; and while salvation was by faith, and for the lost, such faithfulness would be recognized and rewarded when the Kingdom would be set up. His ten servants have (like the ten virgins) the number of responsibility, and are not necessarily servants in heart, as we see directly. His citizens moreover are in open rebellion against him, and send after him a positive refusal of subjection to him.

All this, of which then His disciples needed to be warned, is, of course, for us as plain as possible in application. The emphasis, however, is laid upon the different result in the case of those who are all entrusted with the same amount, to trade with on his behalf. Here the parable of the pounds differs from that of the talents in Matthew, which comes after it and is a development of it. "Matthew presents the sovereignty and wisdom of the giver, who varies his gifts according to the aptitude of his servants; in Luke it is more particularly the responsibility of the servants, who each receive the same sum, and the one gains by it, in his master's interest, more than the other. Accordingly it is not said, as in Matthew, 'Enter into the joy of your Lord,' the same thing to all, and the more excellent thing; but to the one it is authority over ten cities that is given; to the other over five: that is to say, a share in the kingdom according to their labor. The servant does not lose that which he has gained, although it was for his master. He enjoys it. Not so with the servant who made no use of his pound; that which had been committed to him is given to the one who had gained ten. That which we gain spiritually here, in spiritual intelligence and the knowledge of God in power, is not lost in the other world. On the contrary we receive more, and the glory of the inheritance is given us in proportion to our work. But all is grace" (Synopsis).

It is the apprehension of grace also that enables for work, as we see by the opposite of this in the unfruitful servant, who is indeed to be judged out of his own mouth. His words, however, are but an excuse for slothfulness. "Instead of laboring in the sweat of his brow for the interests of his lord, he had hidden the entrusted money in the now entirely superfluous soudarion: literally 'sweat-cloth'" (Van Oosterzee.)

Upon the enemies of the King judgment comes to the uttermost.

2. (1) With these forewarnings of the character of His Kingdom, and of how His claim to it would be treated at this time, Jesus ascends to Jerusalem, by the way of the "house of unripe figs" (Bethphage) and of the "house of humiliation" or "of sorrow" (Bethany). Then; as in the previous Gospels, He fulfils — or presents Himself for the fulfilment of Zechariah's prophecy, riding into the city on an ass's colt. But it is noticeable how much higher is the character, beyond the former Gospels, in which He is presented here. As Son of David He is not even spoken of, but as the King that cometh in the name of the Lord — Jehovah; and with "peace in heaven; and glory in the highest."

This is a strain, indeed, beyond the intelligence of the disciples; as all here is manifestly under the control of God, and pointing onward to a future time. The King that comes in Jehovah's Name brings not only peace on earth, but peace in heaven. We have heard the Lord announce already the casting down of Satan out of it (see Luke 10:18), and have seen to what period this refers. It is but, however, the effect of the Cross, as that which has overcome principalities and powers, and led captivity captive. Back of man's sin; the Cross reaches to the incoming of sin at the beginning, glorifying God about it all. We little realize the need of this, where it is no longer a question of the salvation of sinners, but of the purification of heavenly things (Heb. 9:23), the reconciliation of things in the heavens (Col. 1:20). Scripture speaks plainly of it, however, both in type and open speech of the New Testament. Nor will God deal with sin even in definitive judgment until He has glorified Himself in view of it. "Hallowed be Thy Name; Thy Kingdom come:" such is the divine order. That "hallowed be Thy Name" is in effect "peace in heaven," as "glory in the highest."

The Pharisees dare to appeal to the Lord Himself to deny Himself, and rebuke the disciples. He tells them that, if they held their peace, the very stones would cry out. As a result of His rejection this has indeed taken place, and the stones of the plowed up city bear witness for Him today.

(2) This was the alternative, which His lament over the city brings fully out: it was the Saviour or the destroyer, Christ or the dreaded and hated Roman. In fact, they had already made their choice, and could only be left to it. But the Judge weeps as He gives sentence. If Jerusalem had known; though but at the last moment, the things belonging to her peace! but now they were hidden from her. She and her children within her would be destroyed — not a stone left upon a stone — because she knew not the time of her visitation.

(3) But this that He foresaw does not hinder the completion of His testimony among them. He purges the temple: for Him, until. He leaves it desolate, His Father's house, and the place of Jehovah's throne on earth, though now long vacant. It was the symbol of His life-long thought, the zeal which was to be as the flame of sacrifice consuming Himself, as the psalmist had long since expressed it (Ps. 69:9). Luke mentions, however, the casting out of the traffickers very briefly, dwelling more upon His teaching in the house that He had purged, and how the people hung upon His words. What seed was sown, to spring up at an after-time, we cannot tell; but we know that He was emphatically the Sower, and that upon all seed sown the sign of the cross must pass, that it may be fruitful (John 12:24).

3. (1) The conflict with the leaders is now upon Him. They begin it with the challenge of His authority, which He answers by one on His side to settle that of John: as to which, to their confusion; but even then insincerely, they have to own incompetence. He refuses then to show them His: for of what use would it be with those who had just acknowledged themselves to be no proper judges? and when the things about which they asked Him bore the authority for doing them upon their lace?

(2) The parable of the two sons is here omitted, as in Mark; and Luke goes on to that of the Vineyard and its Heir, and the rejection of the messengers crowned by the murder of the last, the only son of the owner. He searches out their hearts, foretells their triumph and the ruin it would bring upon themselves, shows them from their own scriptures, that the Stone to be made by God the Head of the corner was first of all to be rejected by the builders themselves. Here they could not help recognizing that He spoke of them, while their blind passion urged them on to the fulfilment of His words.

4. (1) They go on testing Him, as in the previous Gospels. First, by the question of tribute to Caesar, in which His answer goes to the root of the matter, and shows the way of deliverance also, if only they would take it. They had borrowed Caesar's money; let them pay it him back: a just debt could not be met by rebellion and repudiation. On the other hand, there was a way out: let them render to God His due, and He would come in for them. Thus the whole question is settled in a few simple words, and so that they cannot even say a word against it.

(2) The Sadducees take the place of the beaten Pharisees, and raise their question of relationship in the resurrection state, illustrating their difficulty by the case of a woman who had married seven brethren. The Lord answers, that marriage belongs to this world or age, while in the age to come and the resurrection from the dead those counted worthy to obtain these will be as the angels in this respect. The Lord's words announce a resurrection from among the dead comprising the sons of God alone: they are necessarily sons of God if they are sons of the resurrection; the one involves the other. The obtaining the "age to come" (the millennium) goes with this; which is exactly what is said in Rev. 20:5, that the rest of the dead — the wicked — do not rise again till the thousand years are finished. Among the ranks of these blessed ones there is no death either: and so no need of marriage to fill up the gaps caused by death. He adds that even the dead are yet alive to God; and so destroys the materialistic idea of death held by the Sadducees, the basis of their denial of resurrection. And finally, He proves this last out of the Scriptures they acknowledged — the books of Moses. They acknowledged, but did not know them.

(3) They are silenced, — Pharisees, Herodians, Sadducees, all the leaders of the unhappy people, — and He turns -upon them with a question which reaches the bottom of the whole controversy, the question of His Person; of the true glory of Christ. Was He merely David's Son? Why then did David, speaking by the Spirit, call Him "Lord," saying, "The Lord said unto my Lord, Sit thou on my right hand until I make thine enemies the footstool of thy feet"? How could He be his Son and yet his Lord? Clearly no answer could be made which did not admit His higher nature.

(4) Then He denounces the scribes as those whose ways made known too certainly what they were. Self-importance, rapacity, hypocrisy, marked them. More abundant judgment would be their lot at last. Let us observe that He first meets and refutes their doctrines before He brings their ways into question. Scripture alone could settle as to the truth; and His appeal is there to the Word and nothing else. Truth might have evil professors of it, without annulling its right as truth; but now it was in place to show how sadly their errors were mated with their characters. The common conscience of men was sufficient to condemn them.

(5) But He does not close with this, for judgment is work in which He has no delight. If He be wearied with the evil, He refreshes Himself with the good, and among the rich who are casting much into the treasure, His eye discerns a single poor widow who casts in a contribution hardly to be reckoned amid their costly gifts. But He reckons differently from men at large, and not so much by what is put in as by what is kept back. She has kept nothing back. For Him this poor widow has cast in more than all. For these have given out of their abundance, leaving much still behind; but site has cast in all the living that she had.

Such sights, then, were still to be seen in Israel. Alas, they were few, as the very terms of the commendation show. For all the gifts of the rich were not equal to these "two mites, which make a farthing."

5. The Lord's prophecy from the Mount of Olives has a conspicuous place in each of the three synoptic Gospels: in John only it is not found. Luke's version of it, however, though approaching that of Mark most nearly, differs in a very striking way from both; and all the more because of its resemblances to them.

Matthew gives the fullest account, showing the coming of the Lord in its relation to the Jews, the Church, and the Gentiles. Mark is briefer, and omits altogether the last two; but like Matthew he speaks of the abomination of desolation and the tribulation unequalled in any other time. This last, through the mercy of God very limited in duration; has the abomination as the date of its commencement, and continues till immediately before the appearing of the Lord, — linking in this way the two together, and showing that we are in the time of the end throughout this part. What precedes it is general in character, and might (and doubtless does) take in from the beginning of Christianity, but as a dispensation says nothing of this. It is passed over, quite as in Old Testament prophecy; though in Matthew taken up in its relation to the coming of the Lord in the parables which follow. Luke also says nothing indeed of Christianity as such, and is briefer as to the Lord's coming and what connects with this. We have nothing of the abomination nor of the tribulation following, but in place of this Jerusalem encompassed with armies and her being trodden down of the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles — of the empires pictured by Daniel — are fulfilled. Then follow the signs of the Lord at hand.

Luke retains his character in this as the Gentile Gospel; and the smaller details are in harmony with this. Thus there is no angelic mission to gather together the elect; and to the parable of the fig-tree he adds "and all the trees." The indefinite lapse of time fulfilled in Jerusalem's desolation, as contrasted with the immediate coming of the Lord after the tribulation which follows the setting up of the abomination; distinguishes in the clearest way the destruction by Titus spoken of in Luke from the signs of the end-time in the other Gospels. Jerusalem at the end is not destroyed but delivered, though at her extremity, by the appearing of the Lord.

(1) The commencement of the prophecy is very similar in the three Gospels. In Luke, as in Mark, the disciples, questions have to do entirely with the destruction of the temple, of which He had just been speaking, and only in Matthew have we the additional ones, "What shall be the sign of Thy coming, and of the end of the age?" Matthew accordingly it is who develops most fully, as we have seen; the circumstances connected with the end-time and the Lord's return; while Luke gives the full answer to the question as to the temple. In relation to this, he brings out also as the others do, the false Christs that should arise, the wars and rumors of wars, the convulsions and disasters. But before all these things the hatred of men to Him would break out in the bitter persecution of His followers. The nearest ties would be no restraint; the dearest affections of nature would be turned to enmity. They would be delivered up to the synagogues and brought before rulers and kings; Christ, however, being borne witness to in this way, and the Spirit, therefore, with them to furnish them with the needful ability to glorify Him. Through all not a hair of their heads would really perish: He who has counted them all would certainly give a good account of them. By endurance they would gain their lives, instead of losing them: by the very loss of them they would keep them, as the Lord assured them before, to life eternal.

Upon the guilty city, stained with the blood of the prophets, and now to be with that of their glorious King also, days of vengeance were coming. When they saw Jerusalem encompassed with armies, then they might know that its desolation was near: a very different thing, nevertheless, from the "abomination of desolation" of which Matthew and Mark speak, and which is connected with the middle of the last week of Daniel, while this comes between the sixty-ninth and seventieth in the same chapter: "and the people of the prince that shall come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary" (Dan. 9:26). There is really no excuse for confounding things so different, and where the interval between them is so plainly expressed.

There are, no doubt, similar warnings to depart from the city, and lamentations over the child-bearing women in each case — as easy to be understood in one connection as in the other. But the omissions in Luke are noticeable. Where the armies encompassing the city are the sign; there is naturally no exhortation as to speediness of departure, no need to pray that it might not be upon the sabbath day. In fact, for those in Jerusalem, such haste would be rather dangerous than wise, and abundance of time was given, after Cestius Gallus had retired from the city, for leisurely departure. All, therefore, is in perfect keeping.

How terrible these days of vengeance were is known to all. Josephus gives the number of the slain in the siege as 1,000,000; of those carried away captive as 97,000. The complete fulfilment of our Lord's words is matter of common history. The times of the Gentiles are not yet concluded, after more than eighteen centuries of treading down; although there are many signs that they are near their end: to what then takes place the prophecy passes on.

(2) The signs of the end are more briefly given than in the previous Gospels; signs in the sun and in the moon and in the stars, answered by the roaring of the sea with its billows from below; between them the nations in distress and perplexity; men ready to die for alarm at what is coming on the earth. There seems good reason to believe that these signs are physical, while yet there are corresponding ones in the political sphere, as the book of Revelation clearly shows. At such a time God's mercy multiplies His calls to men to give heed to what He is doing; and such mysterious sympathy of nature with human woes gives all the apparent countenance that there may be to the fables of astrology. In such ways man perverts the goodness of God to his destruction.

Amid such signs the Son of man will be seen coming in a cloud with power and great glory. Nothing is said of attendant angels or of the gathering of the dispersed of Israel. But when the disciples should see the beginnings of these things, they were to rejoice and lift up their heads, because their redemption was drawing nigh. These would be, in fact, Jewish disciples, such as they were to whom the Lord was now addressing Himself. Christianity was yet unknown, and the long lapse of time designedly hidden.

The parable of the fig-tree applies, as we have seen in various places, to the Jewish remnant of returned captives in the land. Since dispersed, as Luke has told us they would be, they are now again gathering there; the fig-tree is shooting. But Luke adds "and all the trees": in which we are to see apparently, according to the character of Luke, the revival of the nations making up Daniel's empires. Notable it is that Greece and Italy, after a time of long depression, have again become kingdoms. If we go outside of these, but still within the range of Daniel's vision, Egypt is also reviving under British care. Certainly the trees seem putting forth their leaves. The summer surely is already nigh; and there is no summer apart from the Kingdom of God. Again we are reminded, as in Matthew, of the rapidity with which it will at last come on. The generation that sees the beginning will see the end. And here the Lord solemnly affirms the immutability of His word: though heaven and earth pass, this shall not.

In view of such a time again there come warnings, lest the world, its pleasures and its cares engross and stupefy the heart, and these things come unawares; for as a snare it will come upon those who dwell on the face of the whole earth. They must watch and pray, that they may prevail to escape, and stand before the Son of man. "This is still the great subject of our Gospel. To be with Him as those that have escaped from the earth, to be among the 144,000 on Mount Zion; will be an accomplishment of this blessing, but the place is not named; so that, supposing the faithfulness of those whom He was personally addressing, the hope awakened by His words would be fulfilled in a more excellent manner in His heavenly presence in the day of glory" (Synopsis).

Subdivision 2. (Luke 21:37 — 23.)

The Cross and its Salvation.

We have now, as in the other Gospels, the descent to the cross, but which takes here, as has been already stated, that peace-offering character which is so entirely in unison with all that has been before us in the book. The shadow on the cross itself is in no wise what Matthew and Mark have pictured. It is just indicated, but not felt as there. The glory of its accomplishment shines through it and irradiates it. Correspondingly the descent thither is less protracted, the detail is less minute. In Gethsemane, indeed, the effect of the conflict upon His human frame is given; as not elsewhere: for Luke's is, as we know, the Gospel of His humanity; but the conflict itself is not so fully brought before us. Upon the cross there is suffering, but not distance; and the Saviour and His salvation are completely manifested.

Section 1. (Luke 21:37 — 22:62.)

Anticipations.

Anticipations of the cross naturally fill now the short space of time which yet remains before it. He is a willing sacrifice; not taken unawares, but with the full consciousness of all that is to come upon Him. The disciples on the other hand, in spite of all His forewarnings of what would so profoundly affect their whole future, are still unprepared for it. He is occupied, therefore, here in setting it before them, with its consequences and lessons. We must wait, indeed, for John; to see how perfectly He does this; and how at this time His human heart overflows towards them with divine fulness. Luke, of all the synoptists, is nearest John; but here, on that very account, seems to be limited by him; while he is yet outside the sphere of the previous Gospels.

1. We see first how many consenting wills lead Him onward to the cross. The wicked wills of men; pursuing independently their wretched ends, are yet under the control of that divine will which in holiness and loving-mercy governs all. A suited preface this to that which follows. The first thing we are apt to see is man's will, and that under the government of Satan; as it was here: and these things are just as truly to be owned, with all their consequences in responsibility and judgment, as if they were the whole truth, which they are so far from being. We may consider them by themselves, or as simply against the will of God; which in their wickedness they were. Yet the whole mystery of sacrifice in heathendom, coming into light in the Old Testament, and crowned with the glory of prophecy, guides on the course of human history to the Great Sacrifice which was to come. The Son of man goeth as it was determined; yet most freely following out the will of God; and now faith looks back in the memorial instituted by Himself, to this as the centre of the ages: the salvation of man, the manifestation of God.

(1) In the temple day by day, teaching as never man taught, the crowds hanging upon His lips, those who looked little below the surface might say with the priests themselves, "The world goes after Him. "But the more they feared, the more they were inflamed against Him, seeking His death.

An awful colleague appears: Satan; in Judas the "trafficker,"* ready to make merchandise of his Lord. And these all take their own way, follow their own will, as if God had none, or knew nothing. Yet Satan knows and trembles (James 2:19); and goes on as if he knew not: such is the infatuation of sin.

{*See p. 119.}

(2) The type-shadow of that in which they thus were to have their part was now brooding over them. Other eyes were watching it with what mingled feelings. It was the shadow upon the dial-piece of time which had now reached the decisive moment when it was to pass into the brightness which should illuminate all else. But how pass? Thank God, that is not any more a question. Follow where the man with the water goes in, and there you will find the place prepared which only He can fill. For the Old Testament leads thus to the New; the pitcher merely of water to where presently flow out the living streams in their fulness. This seems to be the meaning which we cannot doubt there must be in the sign given to the disciples here. Christ was going to the place already prepared for Him.

(3) When the hour is come, the Lord takes His place, and the apostles with Him. It is striking how many times more, compared with the other Gospels, the official title of the twelve is used in Luke. We might have expected this rather in Matthew; but there, as in Mark and John; it occurs but once, while Luke has it six times. And we can understand, I think, clearly why this is so, when we consider the evangelic character which Luke has throughout. The heart being filled, the going forth of the "good news" which had filled it necessarily follows. The recurrence of the word here is therefore the very opposite of officialism. It is love which calls to and qualifies for and necessitates the mission, — the overflowing of the heart of God towards men.

Here the Lord shows how His heart goes out. The strong Hebrew iteration most fittingly expresses it: "With desire I have desired to eat this passover with you before I suffer." He is closing, as the words following intimate, His earth-sojourn with them, and the old dispensation together. He closes it with honor, magnifying it by His celebration of it, while longing for the better thing beyond, its glorious fulfilment in the Kingdom of God. His suffering was the only way to this fulfilment, and itself the assurance, the fullest that could be given; of His longing after it.

He celebrates the old feast, therefore, before He institutes the new; in which He emphasizes, as none of the other Gospels do, its character as a remembrance. As the passover in its full meaning was anticipative, though a memorial of the deliverance from Egypt, the Supper, on the contrary, has its blessedness in being commemorative only. The work of which it speaks is done — complete for ever: the joy is to realize that it is finished. The work is central, closing the old, bringing in the new economy, the new covenant; displacing the temporal with the eternal.

The language used in Luke here is also characteristic in its evangelic appropriateness. "My blood shed for many" in Matthew and Mark both, is here "shed for you;" as the bread also is "My body which is given for you." The appropriation is here not by them, but to them. He would have them realize all the consolation — all the tenderness of it.

With a pang comes the realization that the hand of the traitor is with Him on the table. The Son of man was, indeed, going in the way determined; but that altered nothing as to the guilt of him who in his wickedness had set himself to accomplish what was the purpose of God. "Woe to that man," He says, "by whom the Son of man is betrayed."

But Luke touches this less than any other of the evangelists, and he only notices in a general way the questioning that arises among the disciples on account of the Lord's words.

2. There follow what, I think, stand here together as lessons of the Cross; in which are plainly the roots of the Lord's teaching. But the Cross is indeed, as has been said, the great central point of light in human history, and therefore the lesson of lessons: God and man alike displayed in it; God and man come together, man opposed, and reconciled. What have we not in the Cross? In a sense, all lessons are lessons of it; but here, it is with the Cross in view that they are given; and none the less that disciples show themselves even yet as knowing nothing of it. How much do we know of it yet? And is it the gilded cross of the church fane? or the bare and bloody cross of the Christ of the Gospels?

(1) The controversy among the disciples as to who was to be accounted the greatest among them is peculiar to Luke as to the form and place in which we find it here. But it is the echo of what we find elsewhere in Matthew and Mark, and the manifestation of a spirit which would naturally show itself upon other occasions. In the history of the Church, how terribly has it shown itself all through: of which Matthew also has given us Luke's forewarning (24:49). Whether it is given by Luke in the sequence of time or not, it is evident that we are to read it as here given: brought into plain; naked opposition to the spirit of Him who was now descending so manifestly to the lowest depths of His humiliation, — to that which, above all, our necessity and His love united to bring Him into. For them the Kingdom of God was still but as the kingdoms of the nations, and they knew not that the humbling oneself as a little child was the way of greatness in it. The Lord, as He had done before, reminds them of the essential difference between dignity among fallen men; and that where divine love ruled. The title of "benefactor," Euergetes, is that by which one of the Ptolemies is known in history, and was often bestowed upon the Roman emperor. But this flattery was not to be among His disciples; but the greater as the younger, and the leader as in the servant's place. Who was the greater in men's thoughts, the one who was at table or the one that served there? In Him what did they see? The Greatest was the One who served them all!

But on His part He was not unconscious of their faithful continuance with Him in His temptations at the hands of men and Satan throughout His ministry. They were thus shown to have after all another spirit than what their present contention would imply. Love had wrought in them also, and love would exalt them to a place in His Kingdom at His table, appointed to a kingdom as the Father had appointed Him, and to sit on thrones judging under Him the tribes of Israel. So far as rule is service, love may desire rule; and where need is, the love that serves does rule; while that which seeketh not its own can have a pleasure which it seeks, and as love, joy in love. Thus the table and the throne can be rewards in the Kingdom of God, looked for and sought after, while not departing from the Saviour's rule. The way appointed for the Kingdom is the Cross, the sacrifice of love; and "if we suffer, we shall also reign with Him."

(2) In the next lesson there is shown a ministry which is not of love, and yet love reigns in it: the sifting of God's wheat by a skilful, but not a friendly hand. "Satan has demanded to have you," says the Lord; "that he may sift you as wheat." It is in that character the accuser of the brethren, as with Job of old, would test their pretension; and he found that it was no light thing to be in Satan's sieve. For Simon the Lord has to pray that his faith, sore tried as it is, may not fail; it is in danger, it would seem, of fatal lapse. Nay, he has really turned aside; he must be "turned back"; but then with a gain, for he is now able, spite of the weakness he has shown; to strengthen others: "when thou hast turned back, strengthen thy brethren."

Would it not seem as if, after all, Satan had nearly succeeded? too nearly, surely, for Peter to claim a victory. His faith has not altogether failed, but that is due only to the intercession of Another: he has in fact a terrible fall. What gain can there be in all this? how can he have learned how to strengthen others, — himself just proved so feeble! and what did Satan's sieve accomplish? or did it accomplish anything? if not, why was it permitted?

All is answered by the fact of what faith is; and of where, being what it is, its strength is found. Faith is dependence upon another; self-distrust, the consciousness of inherent weakness, is therefore necessary to it. We see, then, how it would be possible for defeat to be a victory; how Satan's sieve would then be that strange ministry of evil of which the Cross is the fullest example: for Simon the bringing him out of a strength which was but weakness, into a conscious weakness which would he strength, and in which his lesson learnt would enable him not only to stand himself, but to strengthen his brethren.

Thus all is plain; and in that which follows the Simon who needed this is unveiled to us. Honest, earnest, zealous — all that, — his "Lord, I am ready to go with thee both to prison and to death" displays the Simon whose faith in Christ needed to be strengthened by a fall. The end of this story is not yet reached; but the comforting assurance is read plainly in it that (as Paul proved it at a later day) the "messenger of Satan" may be God's missionary too, to do His needed work in the souls of His own.

Yet, had he taken warning, Peter might have escaped, not without his lesson learnt, but by learning it from the lips of the Lord. That before cock-crowing he would thrice deny Him, might have been so accepted as the revelation of his weakness and danger as to save him from it, by delivering him from the need. Instead of this, he resisted the gracious Voice that would have shielded him from the evil; and the prophecy had to take effect. Even then there remained for him, when strength and pride were smitten down together, the comfort of the exhortation: "thou, when thou hast turned back, strengthen thy brethren."

(3) The Lord goes on to warn His disciples of the altered circumstances in which now they would find themselves. The cross was His definite rejection both by Israel and the world. He was submitting to it, and they must submit, and expect to find the full edge of its opposition. When He had sent them forth before, they had lacked nothing: He had effectually provided for them. Now, although His faithful love could not cease, yet they were to be permitted to feel the condition of things. Accordingly, they were to take with them what they had, and go armed, as in a hostile country: better have no garment than no sword. He uses the figurative language so common with Him, and by which He would exercise their hearts with regard to all His utterances; indeed, ours as well as theirs. Presently Peter is using his sword; appealing evidently to the words here, as so many have appealed since, only to find how sadly he had misinterpreted them. "The weapons of our warfare are not carnal," says the apostle afterwards, "but mighty through God to the pulling down of strongholds." The sword does not naturally symbolize mere defensive warfare; and the spiritual sword is the word of God alone. The true disciple will not meet the opposition of the world with a passive resistance merely, but with that which has power over the conscience and heart. If the world is in active opposition to Christ we are to be His soldiers; and that which is the food of mighty men furnishes at the same time for the battle-field. Thus no one can properly assimilate the bread of God, without becoming so far a champion.

The disciples did not understand it. "Lord, behold," they said, "here are two swords." He replied, "It is enough." For the present, it was of no use to press it further. When the Spirit of God should bring to their remembrance all that He had said to them, they would understand it better.

3. He goes out, as He was accustomed to the Mount of Olives, and we have now (more briefly than in the other Gospels,) the mystery of Gethsemane. We have already sought to show the character of the suffering there, so far as it is permitted to us to enter into it. The depths who can penetrate? The mysteries of His Person and of His work combine here to make us realize that "no one knoweth the Son but the Father," and the danger of any speculation as to these divine things. Luke, from the character of his Gospel, does not enter so fully into this suffering, for the same reason that the Cross itself does not exhibit the cup in its bitterness, as the previous Gospels do. And we must not mistake for this the physical effects upon Him which Luke alone describes. Even the significant name of the place, Gethsemane, the "oil-press," is not given here; and John makes no mention either of this or of the agony endured there. Each writer is divinely guided in what he gives or withholds, and the only evangelist who was one of the three selected by the Lord to watch with Him in that hour of agony is the only one who omits all notice of it.

Those who dwell most upon the bitterness of the "cup" that was before Him, are they who tell us of the hymn before their starting out. Luke, who dwells upon the effects for others, emphasizes by repetition the Lord's warning, "Lest ye enter into temptation." But he does not speak of the selection of the special three to be with Him; a selection which shows, as in the transfiguration, the sanctuary character of that to which they are admitted. We do not hear the threefold repetition of the prayer, nor see Him prostrate on the ground as He utters it. The appearance of the angel also relieves the darkness. It is not the forsaking of the Cross, although His human frame is oppressed, and needing the ministry that He receives. We dare not say with some, that His soul required it. He was going out to that in which He would be absolutely alone, and where all the blessing of man; all the fulfilment of the divine counsels, would depend upon His ability to endure it all. Who could imagine an angel helping Him on to this?

But the body suffers, and presently the strain upon it is seen in the "sweat, as it were great drops of blood," that fall down upon the ground. Laborer for God and man as He is, His labor is a warfare also: the enemy is here, as He presently says to those who come to apprehend Him: "This is your hour, and the power of darkness." The Seed of the woman is planting His heel upon the head of the old serpent, but His heel is bruised in doing this. In the weakness of perfect Manhood He suffers, and conquers by suffering.

The darkness of the hour is on the disciples also. Coming back to them, He finds them sleeping for sorrow. And again He has to urge on them the peculiar character of that which they are meeting: "Rise and pray, that ye enter not into temptation."

4. Immediately a multitude are upon Him, headed by Judas, who, according to a preconcerted signal, draws near to kiss Him. Of all signs that could have been given, it was surely that of the most brazen; smooth-faced hypocrisy. The Lord shows His deep sense of the insult: "Judas, betrayest thou the Son of man with a kiss?"

On the other hand the zeal of a disciple would do Him the wrong of defending Him. A sword is out and a servant of the high priest is smitten. The appeal they make to Him has evident reference to His own words: were they to arm themselves with swords without using them? But we must be in communion with Christ to use His word aright. Was He so weak as to need help at hands like theirs? He does not answer this as in Matthew, by any assertion of how the Father's angels waited upon His will; but according to the manner of Luke puts forth His power in grace, and heals the wound. Yes, power He has; but now to lay down His life and take it again; they knew not yet the Cross as the symbol of fullest, widest, sweetest authority.

He turns to the multitudes, to appeal against their treatment of Him as a robber, when day by day He had been openly with them in the temple, and they had not laid hold of Him. They had waited for their hour and found it; darkness had favored them: alas, in reality that "power of darkness" which brooded over and swayed men's minds. They knew not what they were doing, or whither they were going, because that darkness had blinded their eyes.

5. The multitude lead Him to the house of the high priest; but the first thing we are called to see there is the conclusion of that story of Simon Peter which we have already heard announced to him by the Lord. It is a brief one. He follows His Master into the place of His mock trial, hoping to escape notice amid the crowd that had swarmed in after Him; but thus obliged already to deny Him with his looks, if not his words. The rest soon follows. He is seen in the light of the enemy's fire, at which he is warming himself. Accusation after accusation brings out denial. In the midst of it all, the crow of a cock startles him into remembrance, and he must have turned, spite of his danger, his eyes upon the well-known Figure, silent, patient, amid the rabble of His accusers. At that moment, "the Lord turned and looked upon Peter." How the eyes met! Then the whole horror of his position burst upon him. "He went out and wept bitterly."

Section 2. (Luke 22:63 — 23:25.)

Judgment without judgment.

We are now to see the Son of God before the judgment-seat of man. Luke is briefer here than any of the Gospels. The attempts of the false witnesses before the Jewish tribunal are entirely ignored, as well as the adjuration of the high priest. We have simply the Lord's affirmation for Himself of who He is, which is sufficient for their purpose: any serious inquiry as to the truth they do not mean. Before Pilate we have only the simple fact of His acquittal of the charge preferred; spite of which He is delivered up to the people's will. It is a judgment without judgment — without the poorest semblance of right. The reference to Herod is peculiar to Luke; but he merely scoffs, and is met on the Lord's part by absolute silence. He is not in any place of authority that calls for recognition, as with Pilate and the Jewish high priest, and in his character there is nothing that can in the least measure claim it. He is past even reproof.

On the whole, Luke, following the other synoptists, seems to give simply the result morally of that of which they have given the history. The guilt of pursuing the Lord to death is that of Israel, Pilate guiltily yielding to them, indeed; and Herod being but the sign of how low Israel had fallen; even though, nay, even because himself (born of an Edomite father and a Samaritan mother,) no real Israelite.

1. As is everywhere apparent, the Jewish question was the supreme one of the Person of the Christ, — the fundamental question for every soul. Here also the fundamental witness is His own. As He stands before us, — as we see Him in every circumstance and relation of life, — who is so worthy to be believed as He?

Here, then; we have His testimony, the "Faithful and True"; and it is in faithfulness as in truth that He renders it. A passage peculiar to Luke points out this: for, when they ask, "Art Thou the Christ? tell us," He can say with assurance, "If I tell you, ye will not believe; and if I also ask you, ye will not answer Me, nor let Me go." It was in fact the incriminating question; and since they asked it for an evil purpose, why should He give them the answer that they sought? But this does not influence Him. What they will make of it is for them to decide; He will not on that account refuse the testimony of such unspeakable importance to them. He is in their hands, for them to work their cruel will upon Him; yet only to bring Him out of His present humiliation, and set Him free for the glory before Him. "Henceforth shall the Son of man sit on the right hand of the power of God." They understand the claim and challenge it: "Art Thou the Son of God, then?" they ask. "Ye say it: for I am," He answers. He is condemned, not at the mouth of other witnesses, but His own.

2. He is carried before Pilate, charged with the notoriously false charge of forbidding tribute to Caesar: this based upon the truth that He is Christ a King. Pilate puts the question to Him, "Art Thou the King of the Jews?" to which John gives the full answer. Luke simply gives His affirmative reply, and the outcome of the examination, in which Pilate clears Him of all that would involve a crime against Caesar; from which judgment he never recedes. When he sentences Him at last to the death of the cross, it is with the carefully maintained acknowledgement that he is sacrificing an innocent man.

3. The scene with Herod is peculiar to Luke. Pilate sends Him to him, hoping for something from the ruler from whose jurisdiction Jesus has come, which may settle a case made troublesome by the persistence of the people. Herod has got over his fear of Christ, and is glad to have the opportunity of seeing Him, hoping even to see Him do some "sign" in his presence. His conscience more and more hardened by his evil course, he evidently regards the Lord simply as a magician; such as was Simon the sorcerer in Samaria afterwards, and who would be sure to take the opportunity to impress such an audience with proofs of his power.

He finds indeed a sign, such as he had not looked for, a Man silent and unmoved, answering nothing to his questions, nor to the accusations of the chief priests and scribes, who, fearing the effect upon Herod, vehemently accuse Him. There is not even a word of warning or rebuke, but only that unbroken silence so much more terrible.

The unhappy man answers it but with mockery. Arraying Him in a brilliant robe, perhaps that of a candidate for honors, he sends the Lord back to Pilate, as if to intimate that such claims as these merited no more serious consideration.

With this Pilate and Herod are made friends again: they had before been at enmity. They are often represented as united by their common enmity to Christ; but enmity is too strong a term: He had not in fact been enough to them even to draw out enmity. He was to them, as with so many, a mere circumstance in a day's history, with Pilate an annoying one; with Herod, the possible material for amusement which it had failed to yield. Both men had enough of scepticism in them to make it impossible to give themselves to investigate a difficult problem, as to which the cost was much more certain than the profit. Their friendships were probably much less real than their enmities; but both were in a world where Christ was not. or an uncertain speculation at the most. Would that one could believe it an uncommon case.

4. The matter is again upon Pilate's hands, however, who has just enough conscience and enough guilt of his own; to make him unwilling to burden himself with the guilt of others. These miserable Jews too, whom he despised and hated, but who held him by that formidable reminder of his accountability to Caesar, who was near and real, whatever might be thought of God. So he weakens and vacillates, — makes it not a question of righteousness as at first, but of mercy, — puts it thus into the hands of the Jews themselves whose malignity even he cannot understand, — Barabbas or Jesus? Barabbas? then they must tell him what to do with Jesus, this man in whom no evil has been found: crucify him? surely impossible; but he is now helplessly in their hands. With a last vain effort to have the guilt wholly theirs, he delivers up the Man whose innocency he has so openly declared to the death of the slave, of the criminal, and the curse of God (Deut. 21:23).

Section 3. (Luke 23:26-56.)

The Offering up and its Fruits.

In the story of the Cross the peculiar character of Luke is unmistakable. He omits most of the Lord's suffering from the mere wickedness of men. We do not read of the scourging or the crown of thorns. The mockery round the cross is more briefly given. The darkness falling upon the land is noticed, but there is no cry to One who has forsaken Him. On the other hand, the fruits of His work of atonement are seen all through: in the prayer for the forgiveness of His murderers; in the story of the dying robber; as well as in the rending of the veil of the temple. Even His last words, "Father, into Thy hands I commit My spirit," have their own significance in this way.

The Gospel of the Manhood is seen also. The centurion's testimony is to the "righteous Man." And the lament of the women of Jerusalem is in accordance with this: that human sympathy too simply natural for the Lord, spite of its manifestation of the better side of man's nature, unreservedly to accept.

1. This lamentation of the women is the first thing here, after the account, given in all the synoptists, of the cross being laid upon Simon: the need of cross-bearing by the disciple being a necessary thing to hold up before us all.

To the women He replies with lamentation for lamentation. They have more cause to weep for themselves and their children than for Him, for the day of their sorrow was near at hand in which the blessing would be theirs who had no children. In the midst of a generation the fire of whose wrath could kindle after this sort in the green and fruitful tree, what must be the lot of those who were like the dry wood, fit fuel for the flame? This is not divine wrath of which He is speaking, though divine wrath indeed might give them up to it, but what they would inflict one upon another. The sufferings of those shut up in the cauldron of that besieged city are matters of common history. The Lord would lead them to consider the state before God in which the nation as a whole was, already putting their hand to that which as the consummation of their guilt would ensure the awful doom that was just at hand.

2. The cross is reached, and He is placed upon it, two malefactors with Him, one on either side. And now He pleads for those who have placed Him there the ignorance in which they have done it: a thing which leaves them yet the possibility of shelter in the city of refuge; and which the apostle accordingly takes up afterward with the people in his pleading with them to repent and turn to God (Acts 3:17), as Paul applies it to himself also: "Howbeit for this cause I obtained mercy, because I did it ignorantly, in unbelief" (1 Tim. 1:13). Thus the Lord has fulfilled His own parable (Mark 13:6-9): the barren fig-tree is to be digged about and dunged, in order that it may yet be seen if it will bring forth fruit. This, notwithstanding His sentence pronounced upon it (Matt. 21:19), which He will give them still the opportunity to avert, as Nineveh averted theirs. And such is the mercy of God.

Heedless and heartless, they part His garments among them, casting the lot. Luke is briefest of all as to this, of which John will show us another side. The superscription over him in the languages of wisdom-seeking, of empire, of religion; publishes His title to the world.

And now the cry begins to ring out, though in mockery, of salvation. "He saved others" say the rulers: "let Him save Himself, if He be the Christ, the chosen of God." Even the soldiers take it up after their own fashion: "If thou be the King of the Jews, save Thyself." And then one of the robbers makes the impossible conjunction: "If Thou be the Christ, save Thyself and us." Truly impossible to put these things together.

But the rulers know no more of salvation than the soldiers or the robber. A Christ who would save Himself could not be the Christ predicted by the prophets, or the Saviour of others, and Isaiah had pictured exactly what was passing before their eyes. Who could doubt the application of such words as we find here? "Therefore will I divide Him a portion with the great, and He shall divide the spoil with the strong: because He hath poured out His soul unto death; and was numbered with the transgressors, and bare the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors" (Isa. 53:12).

Here was the secret of the Cross unveiled as the mystery of salvation; and for the Jew with his ritual of sacrifice not to understand it seems to us now almost incomprehensible. The veil was upon their heart, as the apostle declares. Pharisaic pride refused the humbling of the gospel. A Christ crucified was to the Jew a stumbling-block.

But it pleased God to give a lesson of salvation which was to accompany the story of the Cross, just in the place where every eye directed to that Cross should see it. Suddenly the voice of one of the malefactors rebukes his fellow. He, a dying man involved in the same sentence, does he not fear God, before whom he is soon going? does he not fear with that sin upon him which had brought them both justly where they were? but here was One who had done nothing amiss.

Then with this guilt upon himself also, and confessing it, he turns with the boldest possible prayer to this confessed Sinless One. "Jesus," he says, — "Jehovah Saviour," — he could not be ignorant of the meaning Of the name he uttered — "Jesus, remember me when Thou comest in Thy Kingdom." Immediately he is answered — more than answered — "Verily I say unto thee, Today shalt thou be with Me in Paradise."

We can imagine many things, of course, as to what had inspired him with a faith like this. Whatever he may have known of the Lord, however, at a former time, both Matthew and Mark assure us that "those who were crucified with Him reviled Him." The fair meaning of this has been denied without reason. The fact seems mentioned as if for the purpose of cutting off those methods of making faith easier (and therefore less notable) in the dying man, and the grace of God necessarily, at the same time, less conspicuous also. We all are familiar with the saying, that "there was one such case, that none might despair; and there was but one, that none might presume." Let us rather say that here is a pattern case of salvation, outlined in the sharpest manner that could be imagined, and placed in the most conspicuous place that could be given to it. Without works, except bad works, — without sacrament or ritual of any kind, — by no slow process and by no conditional salvation, — this condemned malefactor is given at once the perfect assurance of a place that very day with his Lord in Paradise.*

{*For the efforts of materialistic annihilationists to break down the evidence, derived from this promise, of the consciousness of souls in the separate state, see "Facts and Theories of a Future State." Their arguments are briefly, that Paradise is in the new earth, and so not yet existent, although the apostle did not know but that he might have been bodily in it (2 Cor. 12:3, 4). Then, as necessitated by this, that we ought to read, "I say to thee today;" or else "today" must mean "in the day of which you speak"!}

Thus the answer of grace goes beyond even the boldness of such a prayer; and when indeed does not grace exceed all possible expectations? Who could have asked or thought that God would give His Son to die for sinners? and He who has done this, "how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things?" How perfectly does all this suit the peace-offering Gospel! The mockery and insult call forth no response from the blessed Sufferer: He seems all unconscious of it. The need that sought Him, the faith that recognized under such disguise the Lord of glory, drew from the smitten Rock the living waters.

3. The record of divine accomplishment in that hour is told in the briefest way. The darkness that comes over the land is just mentioned, and traced to its cause, the darkening of the sun itself. There follows as connected with it the end of spiritual darkness. With the veil of the temple rent, the sanctuary is open, and God is in the light. This is the characteristic of Christianity, and the result of His entrance into that darkness of which the darkness of nature was but the external sign. Luke places the cause and effect together here, ignoring, as so often elsewhere, the order of time.

But with the cry of "Father," the darkness is ended: the cry of abandonment has been answered; the cup which alone He dreaded is drained (compare the notes on Matthew and Mark); He has but now in peace to depart. The death lying upon man has still to be taken for the perfecting of atonement: God must be owned in regard to the whole penalty on sin, and Matthew has shown us the resurrection of the saints as connected with this. For doctrinal statements of all that is involved here we must wait for the epistles; but here we have the work itself whose meaning, they explain.

The word used in Luke for His dying is, as in Mark, "He expired" — "breathed out." It is the simple reality of death as man endures it, quite different from the terms used in Matthew and John. It is passive endurance; in the others activity of will, though in surrender. Here, as true Man; He dies like other men; committing His spirit to His Father, His work accomplished.

4. The faith of the Gentile centurion is recorded in a different form to that which it takes in the other Gospels: "he glorified God, saying, In very deed this Man was righteous." Righteous He is emphatically, not merely, as with others, in the comparative sense: this all that he has seen attests. Prompt and out-spoken in his confession; the Gentile takes the first place now, as he has since done for many centuries. He is the first sign of the change impending.

But Luke shows us also a multitude of Jews returning heart-smitten from the spectacle of the cross. For Israel also there is hope in this precious death. We have learned also something of the significance of these ministering women who are seen waiting as the darkness lifts. Things are in transition: if the nation has rejected her King, God too is moving; His purposes in connection with His Son are not to be defeated.

5. The intervention of God is seen more evidently in the provision of a sepulchre suited for that incorruptible body: a sepulchre that has never seen corruption. His grave appointed Him with wicked men, He is delivered from it, and is with the rich man after He has died. He is buried by a Joseph from Elkanah's and Samuel's city, Ha-Ramathaim, (or Arimathea,) the city of the "two heights": names which cannot but speak to us of the elevation which is to be His, and to which He is to lift His people, as the true Joseph in the advancement following His sufferings (See Sam. 1, notes). In this connection the burial of Christ will have for us a deep significance, as the apostle shows us; but it would carry us too far now to speak of it.

The women still are here as watchers; and even though the new day has not shined upon them, they are heralds of it.

Subdivision 3. (Luke 23:56 ― 24.)

Resurrection and Ascension to Heaven.

The sorrow is past; the suffering is over; upon it all rises the glory of a serene and perfect day. The Lord risen; there is peace with God accomplished, acceptance in the Beloved; and with ascension; not only heaven opened, but (as another has said) "heaven furnished for us."

What strikes one especially in these resurrection scenes in Luke, as compared with the other Gospels, is the large place the word of God has in them. This is still, no doubt, the continuation of that Human Face which, as we have seen abundantly, the third Gospel presents to us. The word of God, as that by which in his true life man lives, (as He Himself affirms from Deuteronomy,) was that by which He walked and to which He ever appealed, which He honored and held up, whether before His own, or His enemies. In these last scenes it assumes peculiar prominence. In the journey to Emmaus it is that by which He leads the perplexed disciples to a firmer faith before He manifests Himself to them in the breaking of bread. Afterwards with the eleven He refers to what is written in the Law of Moses and in the Prophets and the Psalms concerning Himself, and opens their understanding to understand the Scriptures. His ascension is to be a new light over all, the basis of mysteries hidden in the Old. Testament itself and which necessitate a new testimony afterwards to be committed to a fresh apostle sent forth from Christ in glory, and which is distinctively what he calls it in one place, "the gospel of the glory of Christ" (2 Cor. 4:4, R.V.).

1. The light of the resurrection morning dawns with comparative slowness in Luke's Gospel. Even because it is the Gospel of peace, we are made to see all the exercise and perplexity about it, and have that upon which all peace rests established upon the surest foundations. Here at first we have but the announcement, "He is alive," carried to the apostles by those who had themselves been only taking their spices to the grave to complete His burial, and hide away for ever their best hopes!

The angels, announcement has in the very fact that it is by angels an air of distance in it, intensified by the reserve and reproof pervading the message. They do not even promise a meeting with Him: He is alive; had He not told them He would rise? why seek the living One among the dead? The women are perplexed and terrified; the apostles sceptical: these are tales, idle tales, bred in the minds of enthusiastic and visionary women: just the thought of a noted sceptic of these latter days. Peter runs, however, to the sepulchre: nothing is said of his companion; John, who will relate the visit in his own Gospel. He sees the linen clothes lying, their tenant gone, and departs, wondering.

2. We are now made to accompany two disciples, of whom we have heard nothing before and shall hear nothing again; and of whom we only know the name of one, Cleopas, upon a sorrowful walk to Emmaus, a village sixty furlongs outside Jerusalem. Their backs upon the city at such a time, and under the peculiar circumstances which they themselves relate, is surely significant. Perplexity and discouragement have taken hold of them; and in such a condition a backward course is inevitable.*

{*There is something in the names that impresses us, though one may fail in giving them their proper application. Yet if we believe that every jot and tittle of the inspired Word have meaning, we cannot refuse to see significance in such points as these. Cleopas seems then to mean "All," or "every one," "a glory." The village to which he is going, if we accept the form that used to be given to the word, means "a despised people." Here is contrast, certainly, and one in agreement with a backward (and downward) course. It would remind us naturally of Israel according to the glory with which God in His promises has clothed her — (see Rev. 12, the "woman clothed with the sun") and her condition, with Christ her glory renounced. The unbelief of the disciples tended to identify them with this lapsed condition, though divine love was about to recall them — could not possibly leave them to a path like this. But this is only a suggestion as to the meaning.}

While, then, they were on the road discussing the events that had happened, "Jesus Himself drew near and went with them." It is a sign of their condition that "their eyes were holden, that they did not know Him." In answer to His inquiries, the whole thing comes out, and "we trusted that it had been He who is going to redeem Israel" tells the tale of doubt and trouble. Yet they have heard the women's story of His being alive, and of Peter's visit to the sepulchre. What to think they know not.

Then, with a reproof for their unbelief, He begins to unfold the long prophetic burden of the ages past, through Moses and all the prophets following: their hearts burning within them as faith is rekindled at the sacred fire. They reach the village while He is reciting; and there they stay the wondrous Stranger from passing on; as He appears ready to do. Constrained by their solicitude, He enters the house to abide with them. There, in the breaking of bread He is revealed to them at last.

It is striking the character of all this: the first announcement made to women; here, before the apostles, two simple disciples are taken up to be ministered to, and with painstaking earnestness to bring them back to simplicity of faith. When they come back to Jerusalem, they find that He has appeared unto Simon; and we realize that here there is more pastoral work of the same tender sort. This appearing, however, is not given us any where at large, as we might have expected. They meet, as it were in secret, the Lord and His failed disciple, before He meets them together, Peter and the rest of the eleven. The tender style of all this, how like the Lord it is! How unofficial, too. It is plain that this is One who is going to be Himself the Shepherd of every individual soul of His, and not put them into the hands of some ecclesiastical go-between. It is, "One is your Teacher, even Christ; and all ye are brethren." Scripture is used, and they are built up with it: no miracles take the place of it: we hear again the Voice that said, "If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded though one rose from the dead."

3. (1) But the time is now come for fuller manifestation; and we see Him presently in the midst of the gathering of His people, inviting them to assure themselves fully of the reality of what they behold. With the doors shut, as John expressly tells us, His appearance in the midst impresses itself upon them as that of His bodiless spirit rather than the reappearance of the One they knew so well as He had lived and moved among them. In the tenderest way He invites them to make proof of His being in the body, to look at and handle Him, with the very wounds He had received still upon Him. When even yet, because of the greatness of the joy, they cannot realize it, he takes of the food they give Him and eats before them. It is the blessed fact and its full certification to those who are to be His witness that are put before us in Luke, and not yet the doctrines in connection with it, which are to be given us elsewhere.

(2) The Word is again appealed to, and His solemn testimony given to the written Word as it existed in His day, His sufferings and resurrection being a special part of this prophetic witness. Repentance and remission of sins are to be preached to all nations in the name of the Risen One; Jerusalem, guilty above all, to be first addressed. Thus Luke maintains its character to the end. Nothing is said of miraculous attestation, nor of baptism: the gospel is left in its own sufficiency. But they, its witnesses, are to be clothed with the power of the Spirit, the promise of the Father, sent by Himself: a step in advance of both Matthew and Mark, and in the line of the Acts and Paul.

(3) The gospel is to be first addressed to Jerusalem, but He does not ascend from thence, but from Bethany. "From thence He had set out to present Himself as King to Jerusalem. It was there that the resurrection of Lazarus had taken place; there that the family which present the character of the remnant — attached to His Person, now rejected, with better hopes — in the most striking manner received Jesus. It was thither He retired when His testimony to the Jews was ended; that His heart might rest for a few moments among those He loved; who, through grace, loved Him. It was there that He established the link (as to circumstances) between the remnant attached to His Person and heaven. From thence He ascends." (Synopsis.)

He ascends with His hands stretched out in blessing, to take that place before God in which He abides, the Representative of His people, the Head of blessing for them. While Israel and the earth wait for His return to find what the Old Testament has pledged in their behalf, His place in heaven is the sign of a new order of blessing which the "mysteries" of Christianity are to take up and unfold to us. Luke is here again the precursor of Paul while John has first his own glories to display, which, while seen on earth, are essentially of heaven; and at last will unite heaven and earth together, as surely as He in whom we recognize them unites already in His Person; in one indissoluble perfection; God with Man.