J. N. Darby.
(Notes and Comments Vol. 6.)
Having thus largely exhibited His own mission, exercised His disciples in acquaintance with it, and shown the source from which it flowed, the Lord sent others (the twelve) to exercise a similar one as to work through the country. It was necessary for both reasons, specially as to the latter, that it should be first exhibited in His Person, they appearing as His disciples. Then He sent them out. As to their manner of carrying it on, it was founded in the soundest principles of holy wisdom, and is therefore applicable at all times as to their conduct. As to reception, it is to be remembered it was an express mission.
It was evidently the mission of God manifest in the flesh. There is in it power over all created things high and low, the thoughts and ways of men. There is nothing like it in anyone else. Indeed there is no instance of mission other than of the Lord directly. There may have been committal of received truth to faithful men within their own sphere, but this by the bye.
157 Note also when the Lord called, as endowed with special gifts, any whom it seemed good to Him to call and endow, He afforded objects on which the faith of these persons should work and find support in the trials into which faith would necessarily call them, and feed their own souls in the statements they should make. It required sinews of strength, as it were in their own mind, when they were claiming the attention of others to their moral statements, things not exactly the matter of their statements, or the proof of their arguments, for it was confined to themselves, but which should animate and strongly determine their own minds as they went on. Thus we find here and at the Transfiguration, and some other occasions. Thus, too, we find Peter using it in his first epistle, chapter 1:16. And we may add the case of Paul; see the circumstances of those transactions.
This mission of this chapter seems to me to have been a mission also within the Jewish sphere of our Lord's service. It was power in mercy come in, then dependent on His presence. They lacked nothing; they healed diseases; they preached the kingdom of God. The prohibition to go is not mentioned, the character of this gospel not being contracted to this, but the nature of the ministry was this. It was not exactly here amid, as in Nazareth, but then sent to declare the kingdom, and authoritative denouncement if rejected. This was mercy to rescue.
The rumour had reached even the apostate king of the Jewish people, for so he was though his dominion was now partial, but where Christ's ministry chiefly was - the prince of the Land, the last and farthest from hearing ordinarily of any, for the Lord left them without excuse. We have, in this sending, a most important exercise of divine authority, and competency to communicate divine power.
- 6. "Everywhere" (pantachou). It was general - a testimony, no witness to them as objects but to their mission, i.e., the Lord. Is it not, "They went through from village to village"? Preaching and healing, as we have seen, is quite of proper Jewish blessing, because the blessing was here no disease of Egypt was to be on them, and "Who forgiveth all thy sins, and healeth all thine infirmities," was the promised blessing. Verses 7-9 marked how far the rumour of Him had reached.
158 - 7. We have in Herod, all through, the anxiety of a natural convinced mind about the manifestation of the things or power of God, no affection for the things themselves, that acts when no power is manifested, no witness of them present. It is full of doubts and enquiries, occupied with them when this power is manifested, with itself and its pleasures at all other times. It follows exciting causes not gracious affections - the outward, not the inward, power of God. To others this may be instrumental, but in no way final. The abiding power of divine goodness occupies the chambers of their heart and thoughts, and they act by it, or according to it.
- 10. This was natural; they were but missionaries. Note, here is the place of report, the subject matter "Whatsoever they had done." And indeed the only safe one. It is a different thing to report one's doings to a holy Judge, who has committed work to us, and to an indolent neighbour. Fruits of grace we may report, to the joy of the Church. From work into the wilderness is a good transition, and not to the midst of men. Among them work retires to Christ, if it may be alone, as far as reference goes. Then you will, if it be for you, work well again. If you follow the Lord in it His work will soon be upon you again, be wholly it. Know when your work is ended, or you will do something besides your work, and miss that which will fit you for the next work that is to come. You can only do God's work, and that is what is given you to do. Seek the Lord's guidance in this, for in ourselves we have anything but sufficiency for these things. But the multitudes soon came. It is not pleasant to have crowds always about one claiming attention, but He came to do the will of Him that sent Him, and to finish His work. He received them, spoke to them, healed them. Note even here may we say, though with the Lord it was deliberate, "Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh." He gave Himself every way to their need.
The Lord having taken them into retirement, the people still follow Him, and He occupies Himself with that in mercy and grace, of which the disciples were merely representative instruments, but they were quite unconscious of its resources now to be developed according to another Jewish promise, "He shall satisfy the poor with bread." "We are here in a desert place," was their consciousness, i.e., we have no resources. The Lord expects the recognition of present power in them: "Give ye them to eat." They reckon, as ever alas! unbelief, upon their present actual resources, showing their state of darkness as to who was there. But it did not hinder Jehovah's love, nor Jesus' power as such. They are witnesses instead of agents, for indeed it must be His work, but faith participated in this. But we may remark that, although acting with Jehovah's power, He still acts with the most blessed expression of a Servant's but a Son's confiding dependence - the consciousness that blessing was in heaven, and grace in His Father, He knew that well, though He were the witness and agent of it on earth, the medium and witness of it.
159 - 12. Unbelief is often too wisely considerate; but love outpasses it, for love often suggests faith.
- 13. This assumes and therefore tries their faith in Him present and caring for Israel, and so competency to meet Israel's need, as the consciousness and expression of that power in Him, still holding and using it, however, as a Servant. Certainly if the Lord had not been there, it had been strange and inconceivable.
- 16. "Looking up to heaven, he blessed," serves as the full expression of the blessed Lord's position.
The answer was abundance and over. Not as Moses in the wilderness: "He that gathered much had nothing over," where the diligence of man came in, checking the assumption of his competency, and withal showing mercy to the feeble suited in application to what we had; here it was now the multiplying and multiplied abundance of the Lord present Himself, greater in His humility and fuller in blessing than man in his acquired blessing in the fullest human favour, for the weakness of God is stronger than men. But we are to observe it bore the character of grace. But however rich the manifestation of grace, the Lord entering into the secret place of God, in His humiliation knew and found, that, let His benefits be what they would, man in his pride, man in all that man had, would reject them. As He was praying alone, His disciples with Him - for His ministry and the grace of Jehovah in it had been fully publicly shown to the people - He began to unfold this to them.
160 - 18, et seq. The position the Lord takes is very clear and full. He is praying as Son of man - forbids the disciples to say any more He is the Christ, saying the Son of man must suffer. Here it is all Jewish rejection, death and resurrection. Then He is seen in the glory of the kingdom, and owned as Son of God. He speaks of His own glory in connection with this manifestation of the kingdom (and revelation of the Father's house, the excellent glory), i.e., Son of man; His Father's, i.e., Son of God; of the holy angels, i.e., Jehovah glory. Then He tells them the Son of man will be delivered into the hands of the Gentiles. His love abides, He heals, and was the Son of man come to save men's lives.
First, however, the Lord brings out the position of the nation and that of the disciples, not resting here in contrast, as in Matthew, on the subject matter of the faith as changing the dispensation and founding the Church, but on the contrast of their and the nation's state as to their faith in what was proper to themselves as actually presented unto them. It was not a question of the enmity of chief priests, but the current notion among the multitude to whom full evidence had been afforded. But among them were merely the speculations which wonder had created. But Peter, ever the spokesman of the disciples, expresses in the certainty, the instruction of faith - the Christ of God - He was the Anointed of God. This man therefore was born of God, as we know from John. But this glory of Judaism, and truth of God, this appropriate, divine, and Jewish dignity, this office to the nation they were now no longer to tell. Having been refused on the merits of His glory and truth, He was not to be presented for the excitement and satisfaction of their passions. They were to tell no man that He was the Christ. He had presented Himself as the Fulfilment of the Prophets to them, and now as Son of man, a larger more humble Name but with glory reaching much farther, He was to suffer. He was to be owned by no fascinating and locally honoured title, but to accomplish a much larger and more important work by means of this very rejection. This was the counsel now to be fulfilled. He was to suffer, and all that was respectable by age, office, and learning was to be arrayed against Him, death to be the consequence, and He to rise again. This was opening quite a new and another scene, but the entire rejection and suffering here was to be His portion, and this would be in principle true of them.
This was not what we saw before - a trial of the Jews by ministry amongst them, but the results of their rejecting Him, in the sorrow, utter humiliation, and death of Jesus, and the accomplishment of the Father's counsels, of a better and righteous, in the fullest sense righteous, glory thereby. The Lord announces to all the plain consequence. If anyone will follow after Him (He was not going to have the present glory of Messiah) he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow Him, and He was going a sorrowful journey quite to the end, even to death. And this was the daily character of the service, for sin and Satan's power had come in on the world's condition, and so now proved. And whosoever would save his life would lose it. "I protest by your rejoicing," says the apostle, "I die daily," for this too is a matter of detail. Whosoever should lose his life for Christ's sake should find it really.
161 "For whosoever shall desire to save his life shall lose it," etc. Have we faith for this?
Our Lord was interested to know this (v. 18), and justly asked, speaking of Him as a Prophet. There is always a floating enquiry, to an unknown degree, prevalent in such a case. Though His part was simple consistency with His own character if He were a Prophet, yet His whole work hung on the influence which that consistency had on the minds of others. Whatever He might have been Himself, His work would have wholly failed if it had not been so. He asks accordingly, regarding the multitudes (hoi ochloi). Subsequently the power of the Spirit might bring home His glory to individual consciences, but the question now was of Him as One conscious perhaps of His own place, but whose influence on the thoughts of others, as an Object, was the turning point of divine influence.
Our Lord too, Himself, had, observe, to go through, for it is thus brought before us, the various rumours of man's uninstructed judgment, while He knew the remedy if they had but known Him, while He felt their wanderings because they did not know Him, while He saw Himself unknown the while. Yet faithful consistent testimony was all, ever His instrument in ministering amongst shepherdless man; indeed so it must be, but this calls for wonderful constancy and faithfulness. And there are those that know the Lord - indeed so much so that to spread the testimony that He was Christ, save by the witness of His work and character, i.e., by morally converting means, was a direct hindrance to His work, and He corrects any such tendency in the minds of His disciples by telling them He must suffer. His glory cannot be let out but in the Lord's way. And, note, it was necessary that it should be brought into direct collision with those who assumed the glory, that it might stand on its own true ground, even of God, and this by their growing opposition to the character, influence, and moral power of Him who was sent, and to this end as righteous against them, for God is always, always righteous. It must have grown in secret, i.e., separate from other influences, by the simple influence of His character and true glory. This was what they proved themselves opposed to. It was evident that the Lord's only part, speaking of Him as exercising a ministry, was consistency with this character, the growing influence of which He knew indeed was to lead Him only to rejection and to death, by all that was commonly looked up to. "And he said to them all: If any one will come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me."
162 - 25. First, on the great and broad principle, what would a person give in exchange for his soul, gain the whole world and be lost himself, the case is clear in se. Secondly, as to dispensation, the rejection of Christ was not for ever. The time of His righteous glory would come. Those who were ashamed of Him and His words, He would be ashamed of when He came in His glory and His Father's, and the holy angels'. This would turn all things to their true account and glory. But the righteousness and truth of this glory (at least the manifestation of the kingdom of God) would be shown before some then present tasted death at all. This was accomplished, as we see, by 2 Peter 1, in the scene of the transfiguration which follows.
Indeed it is a question between the world and Christ, and indeed a short, even the present, time will manifest, by the glory of the everlasting kingdom, where wisdom, where truth was. Christ and Christ's words are the immutable and stedfast guides, and confession of them is faithfulness, and "What shall it profit if a man gain the whole world and lose his own soul, or be cast away?" For there is a time in which God will show Himself in His power. What say we to this nearness? It is welcome to the Christian. Rest, and answerable rest too, is welcome to the tried.
163 - 29. One cannot doubt that this was the form of His glorified humanity.
We have to remark here again, how this gospel places the Lord in the place of dependence. It is not noted in the other gospels He went up into the mountain to pray. It was the privacy into which He was cast by the mighty change which was now developing, and the dependence on His Father, with disciples called into this intimacy as the school and birthplace of service, which induced the unfolding of the glory, accustomed in one sense to Him, but blessed in such an epoch, and formed as peculiar to His suffering, so new to them, but introducing them to the service and the suffering of which it was to be the result. He was praying when it took place. And then Moses and Elias, the great messengers of that economy, and so harbingers of His glory, and the failure of all before, speak of this great and marvellous event, His leaving the world, His decease which was to happen at Jerusalem - the centre of the blessing of God upon the earth, and David's royal line, but in man's hand the place of the rejection of that blessing, and the death of the Son of David the blessed. Moses and Elias appeared in glory - the condition and exhibition anticipatively of the kingdom of God. But in all this the wondrous centre of the hope, the manifestation of every goodness and wonderfulness in God, of evil in man, and yet blessing by grace to him when every principle from every side, and from every agent came into play, and when the blessed Jesus bound Himself that all might be accomplished, giving Himself up for this glory of God (His Father), and the display of all this, the departure of Christ out of a world of sin by man's will in madness, Satan's power, and yet the Lord's love, to begin a new scene of moral beauty and glory yet unknown, formed the subject of these chosen witnesses, and in glory anticipative associates of Christ. The topic of the kingdom of God, and so worthily and rightly, as the glory was the display of it, Moses the establisher, and Elias the witness of failure returning in despair to Horeb, but the signally faithful witness in the failure under the law, for Elisha savoured of resurrection, were the just witnesses to His death, and instruments of the display of His glory as the close of that, and as the faithful Remnant themselves rejected, partakers of the glory. The poor disciples, pictures of human nature in this solemn scene, have fallen asleep, not wilful wickedness but the thorough good-for-nothingness of the flesh.
So on other ground it was in Gethsemane. But, being awake, they saw His glory. They were no present associates in the counsels, i.e., their minds did not enter into them; it required what was heavenly to do that. The portion of the heavenly glory, not the actual glory, they saw, that their faith might be strengthened and their testimony fortified thereby, as we see in 2 Peter 1. They were standing with the Lord, we may observe, on the earth. He was in this scene transfigured, but not elevated. They were all on earth, though this may not be all, but it remains true thus far, as the kingdom of God upon earth. The disciples show that until they had the heavenly teaching of the Spirit, though struck with the glory, and so benefited, they had no understanding of the counsels of God, or purport of it, and zeal but displayed the ignorance, and their real unconsciousness in any abiding faith of the true heavenly glory and authority of the Lord - no sense of His being really the Son of God.
164 But in the meantime this signal of the glory had passed away, and they all entered into the cloud. In fact, though great things are simple and gracious when Jesus is near, as much the revelation and immediate authoritative instruction dispensed from God, as Sinai, they entered into the cloud, and God talked to them there out of the cloud. It was "without law," but witnessed by the Law and the prophets. Peter was permitted to propose the erection of three places of recurrence to divine wisdom and instruction, but they are brought into the cloud with God Himself, not now to reveal the glory to them - that was not the path required, nor were they capable, that was to be the Holy Ghost - but the revelation was to set up the Person of the Lord Jesus as the One who, as the Son of God, could have no associate as the source of direction and wisdom, and, by the authority of the voice of God the Father, point His Son out as the only One who was to be heard. In the revelation of glory to come Moses and Elias are with Him. In the designation of who is to be heard the blessed Jesus is alone. This is what is given parallel to Moses receiving the law in the mountain of Sinai; not a new law, not words pronounced by Jesus even, but reference to Jesus Himself whom they were to hear. A much more blessed thing! A Person to look to who was Son of God! Much more largeness of apprehension and liberty! We have the mind of Christ, and yet constraining in conduct, yet more fully, deeply, and perfectly the words and mind of the Lord are to guide us in everything, even in thoughts, and to form ourselves instead of merely presenting rules of conduct, however suitable they might be, or holy, just, and good.
165 The effect of this, however, was to be revealed afterwards. It was for them now, for their use hereafter, not the subject of their revelation but the strengthening their souls, and the additional authentication of it; and they kept it close, the Lord so ordering it, till the time of their testimony publicly to His glory came. Still this is, in a certain sense, Jewish glory - the kingdom, but not the manifested union of the Church with Christ. This glory, which Peter saw and quotes, was different from what Paul saw and acted on; this, the confirmation of what prophets might have stated - that, the revelation of a mystery hidden from ages, and then revealed. Moses and Elias in glory on earth with Jesus was not Jesus as the Lord declaring the unity of the (suffering) Church with Himself. The power and coming as manifested on earth was here, but the union of the Church with Him in glory was revealed there, and on this the Church properly rests now. The gift of the Holy Ghost is connected with both these points (touched on elsewhere) in Peter's testimony the witness of the exaltation of Jesus, in Paul's the seal of the Church's union with her exalted Head. Thus the rejection of the nation conducted Jesus, and His disciples with Him, up to this scene of glory. But the Lord returns to His exercises of mercy, but with "How long shall I be with you?"
It is not that the Church does not share the glory manifested simply as glory, for when He who is our Life shall appear, we also shall appear with Him in glory. But still there is that which is properly prophetic, and that which is of the Father's house, unrevealed till He who could alone reveal that Name came, and, by the Holy Ghost given, introduced the disciples into the power of it. The power is what the ancient saints specially desired to see, and they will see and enjoy it, and be perfected in it. But there was this better thing reserved for us, that they without us should not be made perfect. They as "just men made perfect," we as the "Assembly" or "Church of the firstborn whose names are written in heaven." They rejoiced to see Christ's day, they saw it and were glad; but our joy is to dwell now in the Father's house where Christ is hid, meanwhile partakers of the Spirit, and the promise to us is "We shall see him as he is." It is not only as the glorious Christ, but as the Son of God and our life now hid with Him in God, we sons with Him, and He shall come in His Father's glory. And I take it the Day-star arising in our hearts, for so, after all, I still take it, is to us connected with this, and a distinct thing from the word of prophecy however sure, and which it confirms, the present revelation by the Spirit of our portion in that day, though how that may be connected with its nearness, I do not now or here say. But this vision confirmed the word of prophecy, and was not the Church's enjoyment of the Father's house, nor, consequently, the fulness of our present joy, nor the revelation of our portion there when the marriage of the Lamb comes, and we are where He is. Though it be the glory of that day, and He is manifested with us in glory, John 17:22, compared with 2 Peter 1:17, created difficulty in my mind when I first opened the subject above, and the blessedness came on my soul, but it was forgetfulness of verse 24 which just adds the thought I have sought to express, for the close of that verse evidently introduces us into a still higher region of blessedness, a place, however, where we by grace participate, as is evident from the close of verse 23. Hence too, as to the counsels of it; 2 Tim. 1:9. The grace has been given us "before the ages of time," 2 Tim. 1:9. Now this very glory of the kingdom, though it display more, for it does, is one of the "ages," or "ages of time." So Titus 1:2, and compare the place of the Church in Ephesians 3:21, where this love is spoken of in its present dispensation in power to us, on the title "Father of our Lord Jesus Christ," as contrasted with glory merely (chap. 1), founded on the title "God of our Lord Jesus Christ"; both of them, however, take it up for the Church and its portion in this, not merely the day of earthly glory, "the power and appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ," though that be involved in it. Our being with Christ, so as to see in His glory the witness of the Father's own love to Him, is distinct from our manifestation in it that the world may know that we have been so loved. The accomplishment of prophetic promises, so as to show the faithfulness of Jehovah to all His saints of old, is yet another thing, though all these things may be assembled in one blessed time and scene, and Creation itself be involved in the blessing for the glory of Him who formed and redeemed it, the happy and blessed witness of His power who is the Second Adam, though the time beyond ages may be behind all this. And indeed our place is before and beyond ages, for it is the Father's love to the Son, "before the foundation of the world." But this was the confirmation to Jews, disciples, of the prophetic glory, and a clearing up of it. His day, His power and coming, not the Church's portion in the Father's house, though the relationship, on which that was founded, was declared by the Father's voice carrying them thus on from this into the groundwork and basis of their intermediate, and true, and lasting service.
167 - 31. A strange time to talk of His decease! Yet so it must be with the Lord. It was His way of glory, there it all had its root. That must be passed through; Heb. 2:9.
Moses was the original gatherer, Elias the characteristic restorer of the people of God. They were as fountains from which the Church flowed, but it here appeared but secondary instruments but appointed cisterns of refreshment; ministers to Him in whose house they had indeed been faithful in their generation.
We have remarked on the force of this elsewhere, but there is something very simple and very grand in the whole transaction. God, i.e., the Father where Christ is, shows Himself in no awful and alarming phenomenon. His presence is always the presence of God, but it is in calm and sanctified peace, as One, so to speak, on holy and familiar terms. Christ has clothed His majesty in favour, and He now points to the Son, if we may be permitted so to speak, as a Supreme common Object here. He rests in His love, as will be manifested hereafter. Therefore now "Hear him," i.e., Him come in flesh, for it is thus He has revealed the Father.
It is evident that this is presented to us as associated with prayer, as a place where, in ministry, the revelations and communications of God are specially made. The Lord went up there for that purpose, doubtless led of the Spirit with the divine purpose to this effect, but in His own mind not so much looking for it, as led to pray. But we do not go further as to this at present here.
- 34. There is in the intervention of God in the scene, the glory of God and the communion of the Father. Remark too this, that there is a separation between the intercourse of Moses and Elias with Christ, and the cloud. These speak of Jesus and His sufferings, Moses and Elias being then in the heavenly glory; Peter, James, and John form the earthly part of this millennial picture. But the cloud comes, and Moses and Elias are gone. Now the cloud was the glory above Israel, but the disciples enter into it. The Church is placed in what was above, and protected, and guided Israel, and being there the communion of the Father takes place, and Jesus alone is their Companion there. This makes the Church's place more distinct, and with the whole scene more remarkable. The word ekeinous (they, those) must be noticed; not that I question the above - the "who" is important in another way.
168 Note in connection with ekeinous, and the force of it here, the use of it in 2 Corinthians 8:9, "Through his" (ekeinou) "poverty." 'Such a one as He,' is the force of it. Query, if it be not thus emphatic here in Luke.
I am quite disposed to think that "they" (ekeinous) in "as they entered into the cloud," refers to the disciples. It is the rhetorical or emphatic use of it. The cloud was the excellent glory, and they were afraid when they entered into it. It intimates the place of the Church. Moses and Elias disappear as witnesses, in the presence of the Son. Their testimony was of the earth earthy, though they would have their place in the glory and kingdom. The Church they could not testify of. Now Christ was to be rejected as far as they had testified of Him - who had believed their report? But that just laid a ground for the Church's entrance into the heavenly glory. I do not mean that Moses and Elias will not be there; they will in their place. But they could not testify of it, and as such did not at all bring men into it. Christ's death does those who have part with Him. The de (and) I think connects the ekeinous (they) with the autous (them) in "overshadowed them"; autous (them) merely states the persons (ekeinous). How wonderful that they should! God might be there, yea, Jesus, but that they should was unlooked for, and beyond all their thoughts. It is in contrast with God and Christ. If this be not so, it must be taken that He spoke at the moment of their departing, and that the same cloud that overshadowed them the others entered into, and that the overshadowing of the cloud did not make them afraid. The question much hangs on the force of epeskiasen (overshadowed). And I think Exodus 40:34, shows that it is the cloud descending and environing them. I cannot doubt a moment that the cloud represents that.
169 Ekeinos has the force, I judge, of something mentally marked out as distant from the present subject or natural condition of the mind, and hence notes what is elevated, or degraded, or terrible, or strongly marked and characterised to the mind. "That" answers to it pretty nearly in English. Only when definite character is expressed can it refer to the first person, and then it has ceased to be the normal I, as if I gave a horrible character of myself, and then said: Can you walk with that man - really a man of that character? So that the principle is unchanged. Hence contrast does come in, but it is one 'there' (ekez) not 'here' (hode). In the now in English vulgar, but still in German commonly employed, "there" we have the original force. 'That man there,' 'That there table.' But it seems to me that to say the cloud came and overshadowed the disciples, and they feared when the others entered into the cloud does not give any very strong or lucid sense. The departing seems to have been before the overshadowing of the cloud. Only it was while they were being separated from them that Peter spoke, and as he was speaking the cloud came, so that all was rapid. Still the separation was antecedent to the cloud, and if I am right as to epeskiasen, there cannot, I think, be a doubt that ekeinous refers to the disciples. In Matthew, the expression of "a bright cloud" seems to confirm the thought that it was not a shadow over them. So even Luke 1:35, "shall overshadow thee."
- 36. "And as the voice was heard, Jesus was found alone." The Law and the prophets can give testimony to Jesus, but never with Jesus - that was Peter's wistless thought, to meet God through the three. Moses and Elias can also be in the glory with Him in the kingdom, but when the Father comes forth to bear testimony, all is displaced but Jesus. His testimony, too, stands alone. He only can say "My" - "This is my beloved Son." But here indeed the Church is brought into special relationship of blessing and union, as the Father says, in His excellency as Father, "My beloved Son" - who totally different, though to the same truth, from all other testimony, so the Church, as blessed as united to Jesus, says, "My," and enters through grace, though lowly, as the Father is supreme in blessing, on the same ground with the Father, and says: "My," in union and in the love which knows it; this, through the Spirit, by whom we are one with Jesus. It is a great thing to say "My" in such a union.
170 Nothing can more perfectly present, or bring us present to the scenes he speaks of than Luke's descriptions. Our Lord, various and exercising as that in which He was exercised was, and apparently absorbing in its character, never was taken by surprise, always did that which was just fit to be done in the circumstances which presented themselves. His heart was always in its centre, i.e., perfect with God, in His exercises towards others, not forcedly but in truth. Though trials might be passing as deep clouds over His inward man, and though pressed downward by the relentless wind, His way was ever held onward, yea, furthered by it, for His course was set right. So the saint.
- 37. We see the Lord here, whatever the revelation of the glory which intimated their rejection of Him, pursuing the course of timely mercy expressing the sense of their condition and His own thought of leaving them, yet in sorrowful though judicial testimony still fulfilling as a hireling His day of faithful mercy, His disciples being under the same cloud of unbelief though loving Him, and no way engaged in opposition. The Son of man did not find faith on the earth to rescue the then scene, though He might have disciples whom grace could carry into another. But "How long" ("until when") carried the sense of the dignity which belonged to Him, for in measure as His lowliness in grace was rejected, the dignity of His Person rises over it and breaks forth, and that magnificently. But while Jesus pursued His work of mercy for them, and all wondered at Him, He was in no sort diverted from pressing the condition in which He stood in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation; and this He presses on His disciples. "These words" (v. 44) were verse 23, and confirmed by what went before and followed, for these were His thoughts and instructions unbroken by any circumstance. The assistance afforded belonged properly to that scene - the deliverance of human nature - but proved their insensibility to that power, divine power which His direction brought into display, and which they ought to have recognised, and recognising, for it was divine and therefore communicable, enjoyed the fruits of. For whatever power in God we are enabled really to recognise, we are enabled to enjoy the fruits of. They wondered at the mighty power of God, but did not see Him in Jesus, nor link the divine power really with Him. Jesus returns, as we have seen, to His humiliation and rejection as Son of man.
171 - 41. A strange remedy for their perverseness, but one of mercy. Note that the ground on which the Lord speaks of leaving the generation, i.e., putting an end to that manner of dealing with those with whom He was in relationship, was the disciples who had acknowledged Him in that position being unable to avail themselves of the power which the Lord exercised in it. It was not that evil was in the world, but that the testimony against the evil was unavailing according to the power which was available for its being rendered. The failure of the testimony in those who own the Lord brings the judgment. I see the same thing in Elias at Mount Horeb. It was the failure of the testimony; he returns to God, as unable to do any more. This is a very serious point. The Lord expects us to act by the power which is thus at our disposition. Why continue it any longer if it is of no avail? However, He maintains His grace in full exercise, until judgment actually comes in.
- 43. How many passages are simple, if we would take them simply! But we take them compared with previous thoughts, or affixing these thoughts to them, and all is obscure. Simple faith does not wonder, for wonder is at that which is not expected. It was a matter of course with Him to do mercy and show divine power, and He was unmoved by it or their wonder. But though they were astonished at His doings, having fulfilled the mercy, His mind occupied with that which was before Him, the application of what the apostles witnessed to their minds, it was addressed perhaps to all His disciples, and they could not see its bearings. It might, without being specifically understood, have more deeply affixed in the minds of the then apostles the things which they had seen and connected them, though as yet they were ignorant about it, with the delivery of the Son of man into the hands of men. His death, it is to be remembered, had been the subject of His discourse in His Transfiguration - a wondrous scene! Enough to have made heaven astonished, yet bringing heaven and earth wonderfully near, indeed they are one in Him - they touch and they are one, if we did but know it.
- 47. The rebuke was simple, deep and touching, and went to the very highest principles.
Practical directions often flow from deeper thoughts than are communicated; this is so when we are able to love perfectly others, not ourselves.
172 Observe the perfect calmness with which our Lord pursued the course of His mind in useful application of facts in ministry, when that had occurred which drew out the wonder of all around Him, though that occurrence claimed none less than Himself, and He had done it. The testimony of the glory and the sufferings should occupy us, though other things may interrupt, and we have to turn to them.
The Lord proceeds to apply the whole truth of the human rejection, but real exaltation of Messiah, to a great but simple moral principle of the kingdom. They, resting still on their previous thoughts of Messiah, were reasoning who should be greatest in the kingdom, the principle of death not being the least understood - Jesus, again evincing His divine knowledge, turns it to human humbleness, for what is divine is in grace in being humbled here, and what is human is right if it be humble before God, so proving its exaltation, i.e., that it has entered into the divine presence, and so proving what was really intelligent in it, and found its place there when the glory came.
There is no relation between the greatness of God and the greatness of man. The greatness of God is shown towards man in grace, and this in His humbling Himself to behold and receive. Thus this grace and humbleness, and real value for Christ is shown in receiving a child in His Name - the test of everything here, and while the world goes on all is inverted. The glory of God has found its place upon the Cross, and the gracious valuing the most despised and insignificant for Christ's sake is really receiving Him, and in receiving Him His Father's delight, receives Him that sent Him, has this blessing and glory of showing attention to, so to speak, Christ in His rejection, and so fully satisfying the Father's heart and receiving Him. But this is now self-humiliation, and, while all things are thus inverted, he that is least, so humbled, and feeblest, in grace is really greatest. But there was a subtler form of self-exaltation, the association of the Name of Christ itself with us. "We saw one casting out devils in thy name," and Christ's Name therefore was glorified clearly, "but he followeth not with us." Now in one sense that was wrong, for certainly following Christ was the right and best place. Still the mind and ways of God are greater than ours, the very feebleness of the disciples' faith who were right in being with Him, gave occasion, imposed a sort of necessity upon God of manifesting the glory of His Son by extraneous means, and this man, thus forbidden by them, had de facto in these circumstances (for the order and power of the Holy Ghost was not yet come) glorified the Name of Christ in a way they who did follow Him had entirely failed in doing, as we have just seen, for it is seldom, nay only when the full power of the Holy Ghost is at work, that the exigency of Christ's glory is met; hence the evil of narrowness. Satan tries to avail himself of the weakness of those who are right by presenting the semblance of power which properly should be found in them, and operations of spiritual energy are found in irregular spheres of operation, and thus confusion and difficulty arise in judgment. The only remedy is the concentration of energy, such as we have seen it in the beginning of Acts, or the coming of the Lord to take the power Himself. But then God is faithful to His own little ones to keep them. Blessed be His Name! It is more remarkable here, because the disciples of Jesus had just failed in this. His Name be praised, in whom all power, and goodness, and grace is! The great point is that God must and will ever vindicate the glory of Jesus. If we are by the Holy Ghost in the way of that glory, we walk clearly and in power; if not, in uneasiness and confusion, though safe. I speak of the whole Body of Christ.
173 Here the judgment of Christ is founded on this, which occupies the whole of this part - His entire rejection and humiliation. He that was not against Him was for Him. Let us learn this, and keep ourselves in this lowliness; being in the place of it, the recognition of it is our strength. Patience in this humiliation next presents itself, for while our voluntary humiliation is the evidence of love, when in this, and subject to the trying consequences of it, the patient endurance of it is the test of the endurance and strength of the love, and the spirit in which it is done how far the flesh is in it in us, for the flesh may imitate the humiliation of Christ. Thus Christ accomplishing the blessed purpose of His love, the time of His receiving up being come, steadfastly sets His face to go to Jerusalem, and pass through the necessity (for us) of death, to heaven above, seeing where love carried Him. If He had anything to say to us according to the order of God, He openly pursues His course; these wretched Samaritans, because He does so, refuse Him entrance into their village. But, His soul being fixed on His purpose of love, not on Himself, He passes on, in the execution of it, elsewhere, leaving the testimony that, whatever His power, He came to save (see critical note) "not to destroy men's lives." How perverse is the prejudice too of man! Because He was going in the full purpose of love, they would not receive Him. He set His face to go to Jerusalem and because His face was so they would not receive Him. But, I repeat, the thing the Lord is pressing all through here is rejection and humiliation here, and that to instruct us. Blessed be His Name! But He did so by passing through it Himself. See, moreover, how James and John instantly assume power when it is to gratify self-importance. The Saviour exercises it when it is to show mercy. How treacherous is the human heart! Again making the name of Christ's glory serve to the security of self-exaltation. "Wilt thou that we command?" I like the omission of the reason, though the other be true, for the Lord is dwelling, as habitually here, on the moral character of their walk before God. Elias came in judgment, or testimony of it righteously. They sought just to gratify their own importance and anger which self felt at the injury withal. Easy to affix Elias' name to this! And what ignorance of Christ's mission! He was not now clearing His floor by judgment but by suffering, and allowing others to sift, having the good grain through death for better blessing.
174 - 48. "In my name" was in fact the point of the answer of our Lord. They were seeking their own name. This is the real secret trial of one's acts, and ought to be applied. Their error here was precisely the same. "He is great" in the sight of God, gave unlooked-for instruction.
- 49. The moral connection of this is evident. It is a supplemental lesson detecting, as that individual so this corporate, pride - both equally remote from the Spirit of grace. It was in Christ's Name he was casting them out; it was simply: "He follows not with us." It was their folly as well as error against Christ and their neighbour, for they had enemies enough, and all this bore witness to them, and helped them. But he who makes Christ the minister of his own pride above all mars his own prosperity, for the very energy, which would sustain him if he did seek Christ, he restrains by the name of that which, if he let it alone, it would support. Besides, he must recollect he sins against his neighbour who would have him relieved.
The drawing near of a day dissolves surrounding engagements of mind, and makes the heart beat towards it; this, I mean, is human nature. The Lord set His face firmly towards His suffering, for "for this cause" came He to this hour. It was suffering, but He set about to suffer. When His time came He set His face towards it not of His own will, not to suffer but to the place where He was to suffer - for He was to accomplish it at Jerusalem.
175 - 53. O, strange, ignorant, misguided man! What a reason for rejecting Him! He was rejected for that which He had to set His face firm to do, and that to save the world, for they knew nothing of what He was about. So the saint - if our eye be not to Him, we shall be explaining, and think it hard. We must keep our very faithfulness to ourselves - nothing more important in ministry and conduct; if we act on high principles (and he who acts by faith does) few can understand them. The less is said, except for the Lord, the better - rather let nothing; yet openness with the saints is good.
This certainly is a wonderful sentence and to be much thought of. Meanwhile what should the saint do? Pursue his object, go to another object. Purpose, fixed purpose, and the mind occupied with it causes calmness, besides the direct duty of it. When the need of others claimed, He turned to it though it were an interruption, and then resumed His own needful task. When these rejected Him in His path towards it, He pursued His object in another way. His messengers might think of the village and the insult - He of the purpose of His heart. Also fixedness of purpose gives great room for the development of grace and patience, and grace sets one much towards one's purpose, and leaves the heart open to and undistracted from its higher motives, producing manifested consistency with those higher motives. His to mercy - was to save in purpose and result; they would have had Him destroy by the way. This is a rebukeable offence. Though we think we honour Christ, and mean to, let us take heed it is not ourselves. It was the same: "And he follows not with us," or akin to it at least. But dwell on the former part of this paragraph - reject the Saviour in the hour of His devotedness for us, for a prejudice - What a scene! And then see His, HIS way! Who shall honour Him rightly save One?
Note, the ground of the rebuke was the Spirit they were of in praesenti, for the frame of God's Spirit is always suitable to the end which God proposes. An unsuitable spirit is always unsuitable to the end. We are always in the way of the end when we are really in the way of the Spirit. Is it not so? It was not for their forgetfulness of the end, but ignorance of the Spirit they were of, though he who was wise might understand it was inconsistent with the end.
176 The Lord proceeds to apply the consciousness of this principle of rejection to the circumstances of His disciples as associated with Him. His rejection and strangership was complete, and He had to bear it, and they must enter into company with Him on this principle. If one would say: "I will follow thee wherever thou goest," He could only say: I have nowhere to go to: you must take Me as a Stranger with no home at all; Israel has rejected Me. He assumes this title of Son of man distinctively here. It is One who has entered, on the part of God, into this place in which God sees man, the sons of men to be, as in this place, as of man before Him. The following instances press and enforce the entire and utter separation from all that could link or tie here, and the constancy of one who was quite dead to them in the course which another principle had introduced him into. The world was dead and ruined, it was finished. There was no more real relation between God and man livingly but in Christ. All was gone that sanctioned nature when Christ, the Head of blessing to it, was rejected. In the closest and most imperative claim it was only: "Let the dead bury their dead." That was all about it, and having begun on this principle there must be no relenting. It was evidence we were alive in their sense of it. The world was to be acted on by a principle which was not in it, but which was by the death of Christ through the power of life in Him powerful to act on it.
- 57 to end. This may be looked on as a sort of title to what follows. But I observe strong moral distinction. The first offered himself generally, without distinction: "Whithersoever thou goest." The Lord puts before Him the giving up everything, and leaves it there. The Lord "said to another, Follow me"; he made difficulties, but the Lord did not put him but the hindrances off his mind, for Christ was supreme in it, so the Lord sees through weakness and strengthens by His command in it. He felt that Christ had claim, and so said: "Suffer me." He only needed the direction for himself, and he was sent. In the third we have a more mixed case. It was an offer to follow, but with that simplicity which recognised the remaining ties on itself. It was so far true, if not devoted, and said: "Suffer me." Nor was it merely, however, a supposed duty though not a real one. There was the lingering "my house" which showed the remaining hold; he was, so far, mindful of the country whence he came out. This could not be.
177 Thus verse 51 begins a distinctly new head or division - the state of ministry and service of believership as sent into the world; thence to verse 62, the spirit of patience, and separation or cutting of worldly ties belonging to ministry, i.e., the personal spirit and inward object or character.
I have of old remarked that in this chapter we are already at the last journey to Jerusalem. But it seems, as has been suggested to me, that that is kept in view on through to chapter 17, although subjects are introduced without reference to chronological order. It is the web into which the rest is woven. The evidence is thus: chapters 9:51, 10:1 (chapter 10:38 does not follow in order of time, but in chapter 11 we are at the close), 13:22, we are again on the road. The Lord seems to have gone slowly up; at the end of chapter 13 He was not yet at Jerusalem. In chapter 17:11, He is again on His way up. In chapter 18:31, He is still on His way up; in verse 35, He has got to Jericho, where in all the Synoptics the last scenes of His life begin. It is evident many things are introduced without its being at the time, but it seems it is all connected in recital with this last journey up.
Indeed, we have the whole Christian life in this chapter. First, He prays, then is in heavenly communion and glory, and then comes down in power into the midst of this crowded world and Satan's power. Such is ours.
Remark we have here the divine power of Christ, the divine Person, Jehovah, He gives power to work miracles, over all devils, sends out to preach, and, according to Psalm 132, satisfies the poor with bread. Then forbids to be announced any more as the Christ of God (with men, only the subject of opinion) and then takes the name of Son of man to suffer, and enter into His glory. He is praying, and then transfigured, and reveals both the kingdom and the Father's house. For the present, He manifests divine power and grace, but is the rejected Son of man. Our place is the cross, and self-judged in every respect. Compare this chapter and John 12; only the last much more the blessed Lord's part in it personally, Luke much more probing our hearts and all that the Cross judged in us, so that there should be no self but a new life. Even in our taking up our cross there is more of following Christ in John, more its practical moral bearing in Luke.
178 There are three things in this chapter - the fellowship in the glory, the kingdom in its heavenly and earthly part, together with the personal relationship of the Son to the Father; secondly, the perfect grace of Christ on earth, and that however faith may fail in us, He is ever in the power of grace for need; thirdly, the searching out of self all that hindered true association with the glory as regards relationship to Christ, and then service.
In this way too the end of the chapter has a very powerful application, beginning with verse 43 (compare verse 23, et seq.) as the groundwork of all, and then self-judged in all forms, and what death-to-it service implies.
The chapter taken, as a whole, has a very complete character. In verse 12, He shows Himself the Jehovah of Psalm 139. Then alone as the dependent Man, all manner of opinions in the people, His disciples own Him as the Christ. They are not to tell it, for He is going to suffer as Son of man; they must take up their cross consequently, if they follow Him. Man's soul and life or gain here contrasted, and their being owned by Himself when He came in Son of man's glory, Son of God's, and with His angels as Jehovah. Then the kingdom is shown them. The saints seen in glory on earth like Him, with Him, conversing with Him according to the mind and affections of God. But, as to His Person, all disappear, and He is alone Son of the Father. That is the visible kingdom and glory, but there is more here - they enter into the cloud the excellent glory (the Shekinah, the cloud of Israel). This is the heavenly saints' own place, not the kingdom; incredible to a Jew that men should enter that cloud! But then Christ comes down to the crowd of the world, and Satan's power, finds unbelief in His own disciples so that they could not avail themselves of the present power (so now). This leads to closing the whole scene (as noticed elsewhere) but Christ, whatever the unbelief of His own, leading to closing the dealing they could not use the power of, is infallibly there in power and grace wherever there is faith enough to express a want. God's power is wondered at, if Satan's is pretty much borne with as an accustomed and hopeless affair. The Lord brings them back to the Cross, and then applies it to self in all its shapes of self-seeking or hindrance of service, as also noted elsewhere. So that we have the Cross, kingdom, and heavenly state, glory, then Christ's grace sure, whatever unbelief is aroused, but every part of self tested and judged in every shape it assumes; and so it must be.
179 The historical progress of Luke is Luke 9:51, Luke 17:11, Luke 18:31, Luke 19:1. Luke 18:35 is merely "When he came into the neighbourhood of Jericho" contrastive, but not specifying the moment.
From this chapter begins, not the simple setting forth of certain characters and qualities in Christ, as previously, but the application or address of these to Israel, so as to test them, only in grace and testimony, the dealing with Israel on the footing of them.
To return for a moment; in Luke 7, we have blessing to Gentiles through the faith of one who owns His divine power over all creation, and next His power over death. This was a kind of power which clearly took it out of all dispensational connection with Israel. This display of divine presence and necessary superiority to the bounds of Israel and over death is brought to the ears of John, and leads to a distinct declaration of the whole state of things. John individually must receive Him, like others, by the testimony given, and Jesus gives testimony to John instead of receiving it from him. He is His own Witness, and to John too, and then Israel's state is shown, and the moral condition, and submission to God's ways which led to receiving Jesus. But the state of the men of the generation is brought clearly out, but the children of Wisdom justify Wisdom (justify God). The picture of each is given in the history that follows. He whom the generation could see nothing in, wisely settling He was no prophet, gives peace to the sinner as He detects all that was in the Pharisee's heart. And which was lovely and in good estate - the poor woman or the Pharisee?
Chapter 8 singularly unfolds the consequent state of things. The Lord gathers round Himself these children of Wisdom out of the nation, in devotedness to Him (the woman) and service the twelve. He shows He was the Sower, i.e., came by the word, not for fruit in the nation. The mysteries of the kingdom of God belong to His disciples; the nation (others) are only blinded by the utterance of them. But then the enlightening the disciples was to give light by them, and they must take heed how they hear; they would be judged accordingly, and everything would be brought out to light. If it were only hearing, it would be taken away from them. Thereon He rejects His birth-ties with Israel, and owns only the fruit of the Word. Cast into storms by their accompanying Him, they should trust simply. They were with Him. Was He and His work to perish? Then what He was doing in Israel was gathering to a right mind, to sit at His feet. The unclean would hurry themselves under Satan's power to destruction, and so Israel did. It was not the time to shut up Satan in the abyss; that will come. Nor yet the time to take away the Remnant who had been blessed; they were to return to the place whence Christ had been rejected, to be witnesses of the power which had delivered themselves. As to delivering Israel, further, the order was this. He comes into the crowd when called to heal, but on the way blessing is had only by faith. In fact the daughter of Israel was dead. Still He was blessing in the power of resurrection, and He would raise her to life again. This closes this special presentation of His Person. In chapter 9, and on to verse 24 of chapter 10, He is dealing with Israel in view of His rejection, and afterwards, in various parables and discourses, urges it on the people and disciples, and shows the path of faith, and grace towards and in man.
180 It is interesting to see how the change of dispensation connects itself with the state of souls. John comes as prophet with the testimony of fulfilment of prophecy. But now Christ, having given His own witness of Himself in grace to Gentiles and in power over death itself, does not receive testimony from John but gives it to him, and John comes in, in personal faith, as others do. But further, to meet man's need in grace, and detect man's false pride and glory, to put down flesh, He comes in utter humiliation. John's testimony is left behind; divine goodness and power gives witness to itself (chap. 7:22), but in such a state that flesh could not brook it, "Blessed be he whosoever shall not be offended in me." This manifestation of God reaches conscience on one side, and on the other gives perfect confidence in love. Conscience made, by grace, children of Wisdom. They owned God was right in His judgment of fruitless trees, and where flesh saw a devil they saw the true testimony of God as to themselves. When perfect love came down to their low estate, it was just what they wanted. They justified God, in that Wisdom was justified of her children. So the poor woman; and the stupid Pharisee who could not discover a Prophet when God was there and just because He was there. But it led farther to forgiveness, salvation by faith, and peace from the Lord Himself. John had come to the highest place of those who could be connected with Christ after the flesh, but the least in the kingdom, when the work would be accomplished and men in relationship with God by Christ, was greater. The promise fulfilling passed away - Israel would not have it - John who announced it had to believe on other ground - but it was only to make way for divine manifestation of grace to sinners which would triumph over death itself. The confidence of the sinner's heart won to God by the manifestation and exercise of perfect love towards it. It was not Christ with Israel, but sinners with divine love leading to the answer of peace.
181 God can never accommodate Himself to the sin or to the righteousness of man. But the perfection, revelation of Himself in grace, detects the falseness of the one and meets the extremest evil of the other. But in order to this detection, and to this perfect grace, He humbles Himself. Man avoids gross evil, perhaps, and then gratifies his selfishness as much as he can. God comes with perfect grace as the Friend of publicans and sinners, but in such grace that man must give up his pride, his self-importance, his greatness, his vanity, all the glorying of flesh, but gets what is blessed in God. This tests him. All grace and power are shown, as in chapter 7:22. God gives witness of Himself, but verse 23: "Blessed is he whosoever shall not be offended in me." Where conscience is reached the soul justifies God as to oneself, in His utter judgment of man, of evil, and Him gladly in grace in Christ. It really is the perception of the full evil of sin by the attractive perception of the full blessedness of Christ, of the manifestation of God in Him. The result, as an answer, is in verses 48, 50.
My impression is that in Luke 9 the disciples are invested with the testimony and power of the kingdom (the powers of the world to come, in testimony) but that they do not enter into the full character of Christ. Though entrusted with the power, and so, as deputed, exercising it, they cannot by their own faith, showing what man is. Christ does, and shows Jehovah power. Peter owns Him, when the nation were speculating, as the Christ; but this testimony was over, they were to tell it to no man. But here we have nothing of the Church built on earth, but the Son of man suffering, and the saving the soul of all importance; hence, as to this world, the cross is to be taken up. Then the glory of the kingdom is shown, and Christ is to be heard, not Moses or Elias. But again, even the disciples could not by their own faith work Christ's work. Hence His staying was over. In the previous part it was: "Give ye them to eat"; they counted the loaves. So here, they could not cast out the evil spirit. Christ did, still in grace, but He presses His rejection and leaving them He is Son of man. They would be great; they must be little as a child. In all that follows, while self-seeking in flesh is detected, the Lord is also bringing out the rejected character in which He and the kingdom must be taken up, while He is really come to save men's lives, and the urgency therefore of the work, love finding in the state which rejected it an additional motive; see verses 50, 56, 58, 60, 62. The mission of the seventy bears the stamp of this stronger than that of the twelve, and more urgent; chapter 10:11-16. Yet it is beautiful to see how divine love can see much to do in such a sphere, though few are possessed with it so as to labour accordingly. Yet (chap. 10:21), the Lord fully recognises divine grace revealing the blessing come to babes, and hiding it from the wise and prudent. Another thing we see, that in the midst of the display of the power of the kingdom, the better thing was not that, but that their names were written in heaven. But the Lord goes yet farther here, beyond the present power of the kingdom, and shows what was the key to His rejection, and the special blessing of the disciples. The Son has all things delivered to Him of the Father, and no one knows Him but the Father Himself, nor the Father but the Son, and he to whom the Son reveals Him. This leaves all the Church revelation, however true, behind, and this was what was really going on. The Christ was no more to be told of, the Son of man was to suffer, but the Father was revealed by the Son whom no one knew. How we see the consciousness the Lord had, here in His rejection, of the blessing He carried with Him (vv. 23, 24)! Doubtless this must have been deep joy to Him. I do not think this was any particular part of what is before, but His own estimate of what they had received, for had they received Him as Christ they had received all, for He was so presented. So was the Son revealing the Father, that if that was a hindrance they would not have received Him at all, even as the Christ (see remarks on chapter 7). What follows with the lawyer is an evident testimony to the change from law to grace, and the way this looks at everything. The law gives the full rule how to have life. Man is willing to justify himself, conscious he has not fulfilled it. Christ shows that we are to be neighbour in grace to those who need it, not ask who is it according to law, so that its exigencies apply; we are to act from grace. Verse 38 begins a new subject; what we have been speaking of closes here.
183 Note, not only the association of the saints with the Lord, but, above that, His association with, and owning by the Father. He was here up in the Mount - Himself in glory - and in the conscious owning above, glory by the Father alone, His Son in this way. It was a refreshing entrance, to the recognition of others, into this glory, and title, and joy. In verse 37, He descends, down again into the crowd where He had assented to walk. He walks in the power of the glory He was to enjoy, even when not in the present sensible display of it. Alas! We do not. And the disciples get classed as to this with the generation, at least are hidden by it. But grace flows unhindered; at power everybody wonders, but He teaches the disciples the Cross; and the residue of the chapter is the judgment of the various phases of selfishness and nature, which flow from not seeing the glory and applying it. Jesus being therefore all, and this glory in hope, and so using, and walking according to it in the denial of self by the Cross - individual greatness, common aggrandisement as Christ in a carnal way, we are entitled to be of one spirit with Him. Then separatedness of heart, and self-deception as to it a hindrance when Christ calls.
The mind of the Lord carries altogether here the impression of a closing scene, and Christianity is come into the world with this, and has never lost it. It received it in the world by the death of Christ. Yet, while the purpose of it was in His mind, only inducing the energy of action on the mass around Him, so for His followers He felt too how few with the energy the emergency called for were the labourers in such a field. What a lesson from the Lord thus going away! All this part of this book is deeply interesting in its practical power as resting on the rejection of Jesus, and His consciousness of this, and the character this stamped on His lot, and those with Him. No hanging of hands, no flagging of love - blessed be His Name! The evil around Him but drew forth the energy of His love by its need. He came to work in love. The sorrowful state around Him, shown in His rejection, was occasion of more earnest service. His record was on high, and, indeed, how fruitful was the harvest though it was not to Him here! May we, I scarce dare to say may I, so walk! How blessedly high is the Saviour above us, yet how near to us! And everything in this our joy, even when we are so short of it surely! At least it is my food and my solace thus to hold communion with Him, to know His ways, to follow His steps, to know Himself and hold communion with Himself in them all. Most blessed Lord! Still, though a closing message of mercy, it was a closing message. The character too of the service is marked in connection with His now manifest rejection. It is not sending to His loved Israel, but: "Go ye, behold I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves." Nothing could be more marked than this. There was conscious rejection, but asserted and maintained authority with judgment on those who refused it in those sent by Him.
184 In this chapter both the present service of Christ, conclusive as to Israel as then before God, and the entirely new thing, both morally and in the Person of Christ, and in grace, is very distinctly brought out. The seventy are sent out with definite judgment resting on those who reject them. It was rejecting Christ, and rejecting Him who sent Him; and He pronounces final woe on the cities where He had wrought. But the seventy were to rejoice, not in the power they had even from Christ then, which prevailed over the power of Satan there - a power which marked to Christ's foreseeing eye the total destruction of his power, and which would be conferred on them even then, so that all his power, while it did exist, could not hurt them. It was not in this they were to rejoice, but that their own names were written in heaven. It was their heavenly portion which was their true joy; in verse 21, this is referred to the good pleasure and sovereign grace of the Father, but connected with the given glory of Christ associated with the unfathomable and divine glory of His Person, and the revelation of the Father by Him to others. Yet they were then enjoying what prophets and kings had desired to see and had not seen, and, indeed, though the full heavenly blessing was not come, there was the revelation of the Father by the Son. Finally, the essence of the Law in man, as regards God and man, is brought out in answer to the lawyer, as the way of life if man kept it, but on the shrinking of the conscience from the test by a subterfuge, another principle is brought out - our acting in grace according to the pattern of Christ who has manifested that grace on earth to be, not to have, a neighbour.
185 In this and the following chapter we are still on the rejection of Israel, but it takes not a dispensational but a moral and individual character - the word of God valued and received, prayer, and the gift of the Holy Ghost. This moral operation is as yet viewed as within Israel in the Remnant, the disciples, but as not to be confined to it. The light thus lighted up was to shine up. First, Mary has the good part, the word - not the world even to receive Christ. Next, prayer as then taught, but the millennial parts left out, and its general moral demands retained, further the value and power of it, and the promise of the Spirit as a result. Then the chapter turns to the kingdom being come and blasphemously rejected, but the question was finally at issue in the Person of Christ, and the state of the Jews depicted, but left in its moral application to man. But there was more blessing in hearing His word than in any natural nearness to Him. Jonas himself is then given as a sign not of death and resurrection, but by his preaching in Nineveh. The light set up in Christ was for all that came in to see, but then the moral state of the individual was tested by it - the eye might be single or evil. On the one hand, as with the Pharisees and many now, the light was darkness, but where the light was received it was absolute light, not only light was there, but, received, it lightened everything, no part was dark. Then the Pharisees, cleaners of the outside not the in, and covetous are denounced as are the lawyers. There is a present application of the great principles spoken of. Chapter 12 continues the same subject, only showing the principles which are to govern the discipular Remnant in the testimony they are to give, and the result on Christ's return, and then from verse 49 to the end, the present state of the case as to Himself, and between Himself and Israel, and their judgment.
- 1-16. This gives the character of the ministry itself, and its consequences; but, verses 17-42, there is something higher than the ministry of, i.e., the glory, character, and spirit of reception of the kingdom of which it was the harbinger; this introduced in verses 17 to 21, on the consideration of the object of the work on the return of the seventy. The real truth of its glory, and the as yet hidden mystery of godliness (yet not to faith altogether) and the manner of its revelation, verses 22-24. But in truth being such, its life flowed down from and reflected that which revealed it, or which it was, God manifest in the flesh, and thus we find its moral character drawn out (vv. 25-37) the title which it gave, being a supreme revelation of God restoring all things, to absolute and soul-claiming attention, and that God recognised and approved this attention to it. 'Ye are idle,' having no claim upon faith, but that God in Christ claimed all, and that it was a good choice, because the old world, and all its formal duties had lost their power and were, in truth, of unbelief and rejected, not of that world to come whereof it spake, verses 38-42.
186 - 3. I suppose the "I" (ego) has force here. At any rate "I send you" is the great basis. The Lord knew what He was doing when He was sending them; He knew it was "As sheep in the midst of wolves." Their knowing He knew this disarmed it if they felt the force of that "I." It was not merely: Ye will be, but "I send you as," etc. It was a supreme commission.
- 7. Experience assures me that there are the deepest laid principles of abstraction from the world in all this, which nothing but the fulness of the former part would carry through, or the gift of grace suited to such office.
- 9, et seq. These are displays of judicial and providential dealing, but the whole course of events is not a present display, nor are the circumstances of the display the ultimate result. The moral trial of individuals is quite distinct from display of character in judicial conduct in dispensations. If Tyre had such it would have repented, but Tyre had not; such were given to those who never repented by them at all. This is a question of judgment and display, not of individual salvation. Still the Lord asserts His supremacy in them. But responsibility for ultimate judgment is connected with the presentation of the means, or their absence, which are the occasion of judgment inflicted for instruction of others (see verse 14), i.e., had Tyre repented it would have been as Nineveh, spared in judicial government as a city, not the souls saved necessarily thereby. But this was not the suitable order of the divine government. But when the miracles and testimony of the Lord were presented, it became personal sin, their rejection, and thus the responsibility to be met "in that day" incomparably greater, though Tyre and Sidon may be under condemnation as sinners. Thus, while perfection of righteous wisdom will be displayed at the end, the all-important principle of supremacy, divine supremacy, is maintained by the way, and yet signal instances, as He sees fit, given of the just righteousness and indignation against evil, of the character of Him who is supreme, so as to instruct and act morally on men. This is a most important instruction. The mind of man is narrow and knows not how to bring these things together, but supremacy in wisdom does. Man must act finally in justice, if he acts at all, but God has reserved "that day" for the display of His judgment on individual conduct against Himself, and individual righteousness. But He has exercised a providential government, and given multiplied displays here of a patience marvellous to behold, and a righteousness never acted against with impunity, though the time of judgment be His own. The Church can apply within its sphere, partially without it as knowing all things, the ground and ordering of this judgment - without, it assumes to man the form of providence by no means without witness in conscience, when that is not hardened, but having no settled rule to them because of the blindness of their hearts. Of either within or without Satan serves himself to assume the dispensation of it to the one, and to cloud the love of God to the other, alike false in his ways in both. Judgment may come both here and hereafter, and one be significative of the other; so Capernaum is denounced. The whole is a high scene of the supreme judgment of God, and dignity of Christ breaking forth in it, though in the form of a Servant, for, note, though able He never exercised it here, but told those who would: "Ye know not what manner of spirit ye are of," for He came in the Spirit of loving gracious service and Himself never went out of it. But He, as we have said, could not be hid. And note, Christ in His glory and rejection bringing in the whole moral display of God's nature, and the grounds of judgment, enables the Church taught and fully apprehensive of this by the Holy Ghost, to apprehend the whole of this. The Lord thus instructing them, for it is interested in all His glory, whether a full moral test of the heart as a sign spoken against, or judging Tyre and exercising providential government because of its pride, Christ is the Interpreter as the Centre of it all, and we have the mind of Christ; our attainments in this are another question. The nations too are all guilty, so that He can exercise judgment on them all. The specialties of His government, His giving them times of humbling so as to spare, and enable Him righteously to exercise it are all matters of grace. His own nation is the great example and public centre of this government. The Lord give such humiliation to foolish nations for their mercy and good, for He is gracious! And it may be He has a people among them, wherefore they should be spared a little.
188 We are to observe here He extends His government, on Israel's rejection of Him, over the heathen nations, and those of the land even before Israel. It so happens here that they are within the bounds, but it is a matter of principle, and Tyre and Sodom just represent the commercial human pride and natural wickedness of man. But all was centred now in: "He that rejects me." This was the point of evil, all hinged on owning or rejecting Jesus in His messengers, for all manifest authority and divine beauty was in Him, in Man.
We may remark as to the whole of this commission that it is one clothed with the authority of the Lawgiver and Prophet of the Jewish people, to whom whosoever should not hearken was to be cut off from among His people. He sends them out with a final claim (in mercy) on the attention and acceptance of His people, secures authoritatively their provision, sanctions their message by the works He enables them to do, and announces that whoever receives them receives Him, they preceding Him as heralds making plain the way for Him, He following, for if He went up to suffer it was to be received up into glory really. He went up with divine will, divine glory and divinely exercised power, power which as divine He could commit authoritatively to others, and evince the riches of the grace in which He gave Himself. By the glory and dignity which was in Him so going up to give Himself up the divine glory proved, as we have often seen, in proportion as He was rejected in His mission as Messiah, the glory and dignity of His Person. His divine glory broke forth, content to be received as Messiah in a certain sense, rejected in that, "He could not be hid." The whole of this savours of authority - a final message - if you will not receive it "We shake off the dust of our feet," but, nothing less "be sure of this, the kingdom of God is come nigh to you." It was the present manifestation and acting in the kingdom of God as a final witness in mercy, in the dignity of mission as a last thing, not merely the patience of service. Hence moreover it was a separating work. It was who receives it - well; woe to him who does not. It would practically separate the sons of peace.
189 There is something very peculiar in the character of this mission, and altogether most blessedly suited to the dignity, grace and authority of the blessed Lord. How far in vindication of that authority it may be used in principle is clearly a matter of special judgment, and it is only in special cases that it has its application at all where for the securing of Christ's glory and authority we may be found (and vindicating it for the preservation of the feeble against the rejection of the hostile) to act on a principle of, in testimony, judicial separation. The judgment on cities is clearly Israelitish, and of the character of divine government, not ministerial service, and this characterises the whole. He acts en roi (like a King) with His people, though patient grace may have characterised the action, and what brought Him there. On some, the scene of His labours which He was now leaving, He pronounces sentence Himself, thus showing His title, power and righteous judgment now in declaring the distinctive judgment of these different places. Divine knowledge, competency, and title, the announcement of the judgment of God, of His knowledge before the time arrives, and yet all this done as a Servant! It is wonderful to see the divine Person of the Lord thus brought into the place of humanity, and yet seen in it. It stands alone, the one great Object for eternity when God even is all in all. Note, too, it is not at the beginning of His course the Lord says: "Woe" ever; it is the result of rejecting evil. The Lord also authoritatively closes the door on them in saying (a strong encouragement to them among "the wolves") "He that despiseth you despiseth me, and he that despiseth me despiseth him that sent me."
It is, as I have said, a supreme commission; would this in any sort apply to the Gentiles? "When I sent you forth," etc. "But now I say unto you." "While I was with them in the world," in this Christ was not indeed outwardly showing or using the power which He had as Lord over all, though He left them to go "As lambs in the midst of wolves." It was a partial exercise of it. He had not put Himself into the trial of the crucifying in weakness yet, where He could indeed have prayed, but "How then," etc. Therefore also it was among Jews, not in the world. But the Spirit witnessing in the world is a Witness and not a Governor, i.e., Christ, as in Spirit in the world. He may control providences to the end, and make "All things work together," etc., but it is a different thing from the presence of His Person in the world - this the world has turned out, and the Spirit is a Witness of the Saviour in heaven. Therefore all things, save grace in the heart of His, are as though there were no Christ save to him; he must be "All things to all men" in the activity and independence of the Spirit, if by any means he might save some, and "Know how to be full and to be hungry," to carry a purse and be without one, and do all things through Christ strengthening him. I have noticed that I do not think miracles so properly belong to Gentiles, i.e., to the system; they are the witness of God upon earth. But this was not the cause of rejoicing, but that in which the (Gentile) Church fully participated, their names written in heaven.
190 The exercise of this power fully verified the position of authority and grace from which it emanated; the devils were subject to the disciples through His Name. The Lord recognised, with the clearest sense of joyful power, the principle of power thus exercised by them. He saw prospectively - not His reception as Messiah simply now, but the secret cause of all His rejection broken, and man's deliverance wrought - Satan fall from heaven like lightning, the consequence of rejected power and mercy breaking forth in its higher sphere of exercise in the power in which He, Jesus the Lord, could delegate it to these simple ones. He sees the whole perspective display of this power; he who in heaven wrought the mischief, and rejection on the earth, fell before the display of power and the exercise of the dignity of that place into which He, Jesus, was cast by that rejection. The Lord breaks forth, as it were, for the comfort of the disciples, in the consciousness of this - comforting them, we may say, with the comfort wherewith He Himself was comforted of God - still here emptied in that the display of the power was through others, strengthening them in their faith on His rejection in the lower or Messiah sphere of His power and glory, in which He was to be rejected and crucified. He tells them strengthened by this experience that He will give them authority over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall wrong them. How completely we see here Jesus the Source of full power over, and setting aside all the power of Satan over the world, as in the heavens! This was true and blessed. It will be just the full blessing of the millennium, the full ample display of this, for he will be bound in the bottomless pit, and the world blessed by his exclusion from the heavens - they not to be regained. And this would be, in title and comfort to them, displayed in the disciples. But He carries their minds higher to where His heart - Blessed be His Name! - was above it all, and where He would carry in His rest of love theirs with Him, a place of rest and of holiness, a place of acceptance and favour, where it was not question of superiority over evil but enjoyment of good - the place of His Father's delight, where holiness and joy unhindered and unsullied had their dwelling place, their fulness and their home. There His heart was, whatever His service, and there He would carry theirs. And surely the Church's greatest joy and delight is not even dominion over a world restored from Satan's destructive and corrupting dominion, and being the instrument of blessing to it - most blessed as that is, for it is being given to participate in the exercise and administration of Christ's love, still less in the exercise of power over evil which is here the point - but in the delight in the Father's love, infinitely blessed as to Jesus Himself, and in Jesus' love full of the devoted tenderness in which He has brought us to Himself, for we are of God, in the highest heavenly sense partakers of the divine nature, children of the Father, the spouse of Christ, our communion even now with the Father and with Him. And all this higher than, as indeed the blessed source of our participation in the dominion of blessedness which He the holy, just, and mighty One exercises over the world. This is the display to others of the certainty of what we enjoy there; see John 17, "That the world may know." Holiness and love any way, and the Father's delight in us are more than the exercise of power. But note the unalterable perfection of Christ our blessed Lord.
191 The power was in the title of Christ's Person. The full display of it was before Him in that word: "I beheld Satan like lightning fall"; but there was a joy in eternal favour more than in the exercise of power. The Lord then proceeds to His own joy in the righteous economy of grace, righteous because the vindication and the justification of the divine glory. While He pointed them to that higher and better joy which in divine grace is theirs, He rejoices in Spirit that these things, even the full exercise of beneficent power in His Person, from the Lord of heaven and earth, are hidden from the pride and haughtiness of human reason and understanding, and revealed in grace to babes, the witness of sovereign grace to them, the source and subject of joy and boundless thankfulness. So it seemed good in His sight. We still remark here the blessed Lord maintaining the place of Servant, but the revelation therein, and that He might effectuate sovereign beneficence, He addresses: "Father" as "Lord of heaven and earth." Thus withal extending the sphere of this blessing to be accomplished in the casting down of Satan, He thanking the Father for what seemed good in His sight, while the blessed character of the way of it was felt and enjoyed by Jesus as the blessing and joy of His little ones, as well as the sovereign pleasure of Him who sent Him, the double joy of the Son a Servant in His house. But in very deed the glory of His Person was just maintained by this. Was He rejected by the Jews, guilty as they were in it - yet the truth was, - it was that the glory of His Person as the divine Son was such that none could understand Him but the Father. And by virtue of His union with the Father, still the glory of His Person, none but He could know the Father, and he to whom He, the Son, should reveal Him; and this last was just His gracious, blessed service with the disciples. Messiah they ought to have received, but indeed the Son none knew, and the Son He really was. Then looking at this second sphere, the revelation of the Father, who they said was their God, none knew Him but He, and He alone thereon could, as He did, reveal Him to the little ones. The passing of the heart of Christ, on His rejection, over the whole scene of His portion with the little ones and with the Father, to His glory as to the place Christ took, but really revealing the excellency and glory of His Person and place, is of the deepest and, to us, most blessed interest. How are we let by this infinite grace of the Holy Spirit into the workings of His heart! And what a place to be admitted to towards His little ones before the Father, and Himself the humbled Centre of the whole display! It is most blessed. Who is like or can be compared with Him who is our Joy, and Excellency, and Crown?
192 The Lord having passed from the exercise of power to their place in heaven as the more blessed part, and His Spirit having gone through the whole scene of what formed the basis of the gospel revelation - future blessedness, the breaking forth of His Person and glory on the Jewish rejection - returns in quiet care for His little ones, the poor of the flock. "Turning to his disciples privately he said, Blessed are the eyes that see the things that ye see," i.e., the intelligent perception of Messiah's power thus revealed, for indeed it involved all the rest over which His Spirit had passed in prospect; but He brings them back in joy to the present object of their faith (whatever the result in His mind) for this actual manifestation of Messiah had been the object of longing desire to many a prophet and king who had passed from the scene below without the accomplishment of their ardent wish, blessed, honoured, as they were, but not as these. Such is the effect on the soul on well-understood rejection! It is but the breaking down of what hinders the full development of the glory of the counsel of God, and in us would hinder the enjoyment of it, the tearful entrance into the spirit and glory of another world.
193 - 21. "In spirit" (to pneumati) as a Man. In all this Christ is speaking in His prophetic spirit as a Man, rather as the Son subject than Christ governing, and accordingly immediately afterwards He says: "All things are delivered to me," etc. Is not therefore as a witness to man of principle Christ more excellent in this subjection, though the glory be due? It is in this the perfection of righteousness, and moral truth of the great principles of eternal life and relationship were shown.
- 23, 24. "Those things"; what things? Is it not evident that the hope of Christ upon earth was the first object of prophets and kings? What more could they look for? It is hardly necessary to remark that this is no question of how a man is to be saved.
- 25. This is the state and condition suitable to the direct kingdom and administration of Christ; one of principle, too, not of party, as under Him. Meanwhile it is exercised on principle in respect of evil, in mercy. The Lord well knew how to draw the conduct suited to His kingdom and ministry.
So, connected with verse 24, the connection is thus: the great character in which Christ was manifested as Christ, "All things are delivered to me of my Father" (it was not seeing the miracles, but the Person, the power from which the miracles flowed, for the miracles they did, and were bid not to rejoice in that, and the world saw - it was this taken in all together, the conference of power in Christ and the saving of the people - it was indeed to man singular, but rejoicing to Christ that the revelation of it was to the poor and simple, it was well pleasing to the Father) and this as connected with the revelation of the Father - and of this He says: "Blessed are the eyes," etc.; compare John 1:14, and Matthew 13:11, et seq., and observe the places they come from. Then compare the case of Thomas and 1 Peter 1:8. Then come the great principles of the state which Christ dispensatorily establishes - the restitution of all things, "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God," etc. The everlasting principles of God's character, as exhibited in relationship to Him now, as we have seen, the joy and what was our portion meanwhile while we wait for it, so as these are their principles on the perfectness of God's character, so is it manifested in the midst of evil by showing mercy on them that hate us, as John 1:16.
194 The Lord returns on the circumstances, as we have seen, denoting the breaking up of the dispensation and passage into another, into the moral principles and relationship which the law contained, and, sanctioning the great eternal principles contained in it, as the form and unchangeable character of eternal life in its perfection and nature, the love of God and one's neighbour - on the self-justifying enquiry of a bad conscience, breaks down the whole narrowness of fleshly exaltation by the law, and introduces the principle and display of sovereign goodness manifested in Man on the evident failure of all that was right and gracious in those who had the privileges the law externally attached as a form or dispensation, and presents a Samaritan as an example unanswerably to a lawyer. In a word, while sanctioning the eternal principle of truth between God and the creature in righteousness - the kernel hidden in the law - breaks down the form which ministered to human pride by the exhibition of what was, beyond controversy, intrinsically goodness in a stranger in contrast with the heartlessness of formal privilege. Nothing could be more clear, more definite in its purpose, or more conclusive than this of the Lord, and yet it broke up (with the sanction of its contained righteousness) the whole form and principle of the law, but by bringing in God in goodness where man had failed in righteousness, bringing in Substance instead of form. So the power of the Holy Ghost always does. "The kingdom of God is not in word but in power," and the Spirit of love characterises its ways, for God who is Love is revealed in it, and He does not wait for goodness on the pride of men's forms. How blessed when God is thus brought in! And how perfect in His ordering of all things! The way of righteousness fully preserved, the pride of distinctive circumstance completely laid low before the true goodness of God!
195 - 27. Some are apt to take the second member of the great commandment as though it was a measure of the extent to which love to our neighbour was to go, and that we need not love him better, but if we thus weigh the obligation we shall be apt to lose the very principle wholly, and in essence, which we seek thus to limit to make self-love the judge of how far we are to go in kindness to our neighbour, instead of a holy urgency by which another is identified (not contrasted in obligation) in interest with oneself in unity of love. But it seems to me, though it be a simple practical direction, yet it teaches us the moral measure of love towards man or our neighbour, while it gives a regulating principle when we love God. It is unlimited in its nature. The object is infinite, the debt is infinite. It is an entire devotedness fluent in obligation, which in duty takes its measure from the nature and essential supremacy of God, and His claim over us from His being our God and all in all, which none can express, but the believer alone can apprehend. Whereas thus to love man would be so far from excellent that it would be idolatry. Man is to be loved as man, yet with a perfect love according to its nature, such as every man must bear to himself, and when love exists it identifies our neighbour not in necessity but in unity of interest with ourselves, and we seek his good with a perfect heart. But it is in its nature essentially different from love to God, in that God is so from man, and every affection follows the nature, and, if a holy affection, is perfectly and precisely suitable to the nature and character of the object of it. We may remark the facility of our Lord's transition from the summit, as it were, and fulness of contemplation and, so to speak, divine philosophical enunciation of truth, to the practical dealing with the lawyer's reluctant conscience. It was one thing to Him.
- 38. That these are the general moral instructions of Jesus is manifest. The general division begins when the seventy returned.
- 38-42. The different reception of Christ by one given to choose Him and the word by Him as their part, and one who receives Him indeed to the saving of their soul, being renewed as to evil and alienation from God, but not as to be lost to the world and brought away into the new kingdom (in a measure everlasting kingdom) from self, is here strongly marked. And how deeply, and how perfectly shown! Yet Martha was a believer, and loved the Lord.
196 We have here the distinctive privilege of the saint. Jesus, separated from all here into which, in gracious fulfilment of the ancient promises of God, He had thrown Himself, leads the way in sanction to undivided attention to the interests of the heavenly kingdom; no attention to Himself in the flesh could replace this. There was the necessity of death and life, and life cheered with the blessedness of the favour of grace into which it passed, but with the urgency of a rejection to death, and therefore sentence of death passed on all that was of man, and that by His death who should have been the power of it. And the whole of man was now to give attention to His words which flowed from life and source of life which was beyond all that death could touch, and above all, and yet now in His Person guided through all. The hearing of Jesus' words was everything. What unselfish disregard of self in the accomplishment of blessing is manifested in the Lord! The one thing needful is to hear Jesus. All these many "things" ended in death. It was care and trouble, not what led into life eternal, for so Jesus' words did - words issuing from a heart broken that it might let forth the stream of eternal life.
We have the word of Christ as the way of blessing. Mary acted according to the exhortation to the disciples: "Hear him." In chapter 11:1-13, the Holy Spirit to be given, and the power of prayer. That is, we have the Word, prayer, and the Holy Ghost, our ear open to God and assurance that God's ear is open to us. Earnest importunity on one side, and sure goodness on the other; both as to hearing and prayer earnest purpose of heart. After verse 13, it is His pleading with the Jews as to their state, ending in judgment, to the end of the chapter; only the moral state, and the doctrine which has influence within, settles the question of our reception of the truth. In chapter 12:1-12, the grounds of service for the disciples in the midst of the wickedness and opposition around them. In what follows, the same subject as regards the temporal part of it, and their waiting for Him; thus the Church's losing her true character by saying: "My Lord delayeth his corning," to verse 48. Then the then present state of things, though division and opposition would not cease with that, only that with Christ's death the straitening of the outflowing of His love would pass away. On the whole, all is a pleading in respect of His rejection, with the path of His disciples in it, and the result for Israel. In chapter 13, Israel and flesh in Israel is rejected for ever - is a barren fig tree. The unrepentant in Israel would be violently destroyed. He convicts them of hypocrisy, justifying the workings of His own grace, shows the nature of the coming kingdom through His rejection. Soon the door would be shut, though He should walk to-day and to-morrow, all the due time. Then Jerusalem should do its accustomed work of rejecting prophets, and its house, with the mourning voice of Christ the Jehovah that would have gathered her children, is left desolate. Chapter 14 carries on the same subject, the moral ground of breach with Israel, and the introduction of the new order of things by grace.
197 A little more detail here as to Luke. After introducing the word and prayer as the standing ground of His own then (and ever) we get the utter rejection by ascribing His power to Beelzebub, whereas God's kingdom was come amongst them. The strong man and Stronger were there. He not with Christ was against Him. Hearing the word of God took the place of connection of Christ with Israel after the flesh. He pronounces His judgment on them. But the light was lighted up not to be hid; the moral state, singleness of eye, however, was the way of receiving - the fruit complete light. Then the Pharisees and lawyers judged, and specially by their treatment of prophets and apostles who would test their willingness to receive the word. This leads to urgent pressing testimony on His disciples; they were to beware of the leaven of the Pharisees. All would come out to light. They must be faithful. The next motive was, if they found hostility they were to fear not those who could kill the body and do no more, but Him who could after death cast into hell. Next, they were precious to God, their hairs counted. Next, him that confessed Christ before men He would confess before the angels. Next, they would have the Holy Ghost, so that he that treated that with outrage would be worse than he who outraged the Son of man. But it was He who would speak in them. In what follows the Lord shows indeed the folly of having a portion in this world, and disclaims its government or ordering, but mainly expatiates on the spirit in which His disciples should walk through it. First, God would have care of them, they could not take care of themselves. The nations who do not know God seek after them; their heavenly Father knew they had need of them. They were to seek the kingdom of God, and these would be added. Far more than that was in the Father's thoughts - they were to have the Kingdom. They were to have their treasure in heaven, and their heart would be there. Next, they were to wait for Christ with loins girded and lights burning; in heaven they would sit down and be at ease. They were to be ready for His return, the faithful servant would be ruler over all God's goods. The mark of faithfulness would be always expecting Him, and not go on with assumption and worldliness while He was away. The Church position is shown, and greater judgment on it than on heathen. Christ was come to send fire on the earth by that testimony, and His very presence, though in peace and grace, had kindled it. But till His death was accomplished, love, perfect in Him, was shut up as it were, could not freely flow forth to a sinful world. Though His presence kindled a fire, He must die to let out love abroad. Still from that out divisions through Him would come. Yet the Jews ought to have discerned the signs of the times, and even morally of themselves seen what was right. The aphorism of the man with his adversary going to the judge is used as to their state. They must all repent or perish by a present destruction. Israel was on its last trial, digged about and dunged, and, if it did not bear fruit, would be cut down. Such is the end of human nature!