From Advent to Advent.

or, The Outline of the Gospel According to Luke.
C E Stuart.

Contents
1. Introduction
2. The Birth and Early Years of the Lord Jesus Christ (Luke 1 — 3).
3. The Temptations in the Wilderness, and the Commencement of His Ministry in Galilee (Luke 4: 1 — 5: 26)
4. The Dawn of a New Day (Luke v. 27 — vi. 49)

The Kingdom of God (Luke vii. — ix.).
5. The Kingdom — Blessings Connected with it (Luke Vii.)
6. The Kingdom — Characteristic Features of it (Luke viii.)
7. The Kingdom — Further Teaching about it (Luke ix.)

The State of Things in Israel in the Lord's Day (Luke x. — xiii.).
8. The Need of Souls and the Way of Blessing (Luke x. — xi. 13)
9. Empty Profession and True Discipleship (Luke xi. 14 — xii. 53)
10. Impending Judgment (Luke xii. 54 — xiii. 35)
11. Grace (Luke xiv. — xvii. 19)
12. The Advent of the Kingdom in Power (Luke xvii. 20 — xviii. 34)
13. From Jericho to Jerusalem (Luke xviii. 35 — xix. 48)
14. Teaching in the Holy City (Luke xx. — xxi. 38)

The Last Day upon Earth (Luke 22 — 23).
15. The Last Day upon Earth. From Eve to Dawn (Luke xxii. 1-65)
16. From Morn to Night (Luke xxii. 66 — xxiii. 56)
17. The First Day of the Week (Luke xxiv.)
18. Notes on the Kingdom
19. Concluding Remarks

Preface.

No one can read the gospel of Luke with any attention without being aware of great differences between it and the other three. Very many things related in it are met with nowhere else, and though it has a good deal in common with the gospels of Matthew and of Mark, there are things common to them which Luke did not bring before Theophilus.

It appears, we think, that the account of the Transfiguration is introduced relatively earlier in his gospel than in either of the other two. Had we only Luke's account, we should naturally have supposed that it took place shortly after the feeding of the five thousand, whereas we learn elsewhere that a great deal went on between these two events, and a whole circuit of the Lord's itinerating labours must be placed between them. See Mark vi. 46 — viii. 26.

Then Luke recounts, after the transfiguration scene, an offer of a man to follow the Lord whithersoever He went (chap. xi. 57); whereas Matthew introduces that same incident at a much earlier stage in the Lord's history (Matt. viii. 18, 19). There can be little doubt that it occurred at the time when Matthew mentioned it, for he seems to fix the date of it, whereas Luke brings it in without reference to chronological order, with the prefatory words, "And as they went in the way." But when, and whither, he has not stated. Very often does he introduce a narrative of an event in some such general way, not meaning to fix the date of the occurrence, nor intending his readers to suppose that it took place just after what had been previously related. In the present case that is plain. He had just noticed the Samaritans rejecting the Lord, when the days were well-nigh come that He should be received up. Following directly upon that, we have this offer of one to follow Him whithersoever He might go. Chronological order is here set aside. Chronological sequence, so characteristic of Mark's Gospel, was not that at which the "beloved physician" for the most part aimed. But a moral order in arranging these two incidents may be traced.

Again, both Matthew and Mark agree in giving the parable of the mustard seed as spoken on the same day as that of the sower (Matt. xiii.; Mark iv.). Luke gives the parable of the sower in chap. viii., and never mentions that of the mustard seed till chap. xiii. 18. Of course the Lord may have spoken this parable more than once; He certainly did speak it on the day that He sat in the ship and addressed the multitudes on the shore. Yet Luke there passes it over.

Why is this? The answer must be, that the evangelist, under the guidance of the Holy Ghost, had a definite plan before him when writing, in accordance with which he introduces his subjects and marshals his facts. To see this is a great help to the student. For since Luke has a moral order in his gospel, he can introduce events without reference, unless he distinctly states the contrary, to chronological sequence, and can group together incidents which took place at different times. Now, this is just what he does. And of this chap. ix. 52-58, to which we have already referred, is an illustration.

There is, then, in this the third Gospel, what we may call a moral order in the way the different great subjects are introduced. What that order is, it is endeavoured in the following pages to set forth. Just thirty years ago the writer first discerned it, and, as he read on in the gospel day by day, it opened up to him as a flower expands under the warmth and light of the sun. Subsequent study having only confirmed him in the correctness of that which he then perceived, and having never come across in all these years any attempt on the part of others to elucidate it, he ventures now to make it public, that the reader may share in that which he has found of profit and interest to himself.

The plan pursued in this volume has been, first, keeping Luke's moral order in view, to go into the gospel in measure in detail, and then in a concluding chapter to state concisely what that moral order is. The quotations, it may be added, are for the most part in the words of the A.V., the R.V. being noticed when needful.

1. Introduction

"Luke, the beloved physician" (Col. iv. 14). These few words of the Apostle Paul, with the additional notices of the evangelist in Philemon 24 and 2 Tim. iv. 11, constitute nearly all our knowledge of him, as derived from the pen of the Apostle of the Gentiles. Other details about him must be gleaned from himself.

In common with Mark, he never names himself. St. Paul alone has furnished us with his name, whom he designated, in Philemon 24, by the honourable title of "fellow-labourer." An honourable title we say, considering who Paul was, but one borne in common with others, as we see in that Epistle and elsewhere (Rom. xvi. 3, 9, 21; Phil. ii. 25; iv. 3; Col. iv. 11). Further he was "beloved" of Paul. Now, though the Apostle thus characterises the saints collectively at Corinth, Ephesus, Philippi, and Thessalonica, he does not bestow this appellation on every individual among them. Of saints in Rome, Epaenetus, Ampliatus, Stachys and Persis are thus described; but not Aquila, nor Priscilla, though he knew them well, and valued them much. Timothy, on the other hand (1 Cor. iv. 17; 2 Tim. i. 2); Tychicus (Ephes. vi. 21; Col. iv. 7); Onesimus (Col. iv. 9; Philem. 16); Epaphras (Col. i. 7); with Philemon* (Philem. 1), come in for that same term of endearment, which is never applied to Titus, Paul's own son in the faith, nor to Aristarchus, who like Epaphras had shared in his imprisonment (Col. iv. 10). Evidently then the term "beloved" was applied to individuals with discrimination. And though Luke never, that we read of, shared in the Apostle's imprisonment, Paul writes of him in a way which intimates marked endearment for the physician. He was Paul's fellow-labourer, and one beloved of him likewise, and must be carefully distinguished from Lucius (Rom. xvi. 21), a kinsman of the Apostle. The two names are really distinct, though to an English reader there might seem some resemblance.

{*According to the common reading, Apphia, Philemon's wife, is called "beloved," but the better reading describes her as "the sister."}

Travels with Paul. — He was a physician; but his parentage, birthplace, the time of and circumstances connected with his conversion, the place and manner of his death, — these personal details are unnoticed in the Word; so we leave them among the things of which we have no certain knowledge. He may have been a Roman freedman, though of that there is no certainty. Most probably he was a Gentile, and not, like Paul, one of the circumcision (Col. iv. 11). Certainly he was a man of education, and he has by his writings greatly enriched the vocabulary of the Greek New Testament. He was reticent, however, about himself, for we only know of his having travelled with Paul by the change of pronouns in the Acts from the third person to the first person plural, viz., we, us, our. At Troas, when the Apostles first visited that town, Luke seems to have met him, and travelled with him to Philippi (Acts xvi. 10-17), where he apparently remained when Paul went on to Thessalonica, and subsequently to Achaia. Watching perhaps over the newly-formed assembly at Philippi, which was early noted for its thoughtful care of Paul when labouring elsewhere (Phil. iv. 15), Luke appears to have attached himself again to the Apostle, when the latter passed through Macedonia from Greece on his last recorded journey to Jerusalem (Acts xx. 5). From that time he was Paul's travelling companion till he reached Rome, that hurried journey 'by night from Jerusalem to Caesarea excepted (Acts xxiii. 23-33). He therefore witnessed many events of deep interest. He was present at the affectionate leave-taking between the Ephesian elders and Paul (Acts xx. 37). He was one of the company who held that prayer-meeting outside the city of Tyre (xxi. 5-6); and, in common with the rest in the house of Philip the evangelist at Caesarea, attempted, but ineffectually, to dissuade Paul from going forward to Jerusalem (xxi. 12). At Jerusalem he lodged with him in the house of Mnason of Cyprus, probably in former days a Hellenistic Jew, though then an old disciple; and he was present at that memorable interview with James and the elders, and heard doubtless their proposals, compliance with which nearly cost Paul his life, and led to his prolonged enforced cessation from active missionary work, owing to the Apostle's subsequent appeal to the Emperor at Rome (Acts xxi. 18-25).

How Luke spent the next two years, till Festus remitted the prisoner to Rome, is wholly unknown; but taking passage in the same ship with Paul, who was in the custody of the centurion Julius, he went through those days of anxiety, darkness, and peril, which ended in their shipwreck. In common with the rest he got safe to land, though whether by swimming, or by clinging to some portion of the wreck, he has not enlightened us; thus, as was his wont, keeping himself as much as possible in the background. Staying on the island of Melita for three months, he witnessed the surprise of the barbarians, when Paul shook off into the fire the viper which had fastened on his hand, and felt no harm; he must have witnessed too the healing of the father of Publius, who had been attacked by dysentery and fever, and doubtless the healing of many, if not all of those other cases of sickness, of which he has made but cursory mention.

Leaving the island in the ship (xxviii. 11), the Twin Brothers, he reached Puteoli, where they all landed, and thence proceeded along the Appian Way to Rome. Present as he was at the meeting between Paul and Roman saints, first at the Market of Appius and then at the Three Taverns, he has recorded how the heart of the Apostle was cheered at the sight of them. He who had been the one to encourage all in the vessel to take refreshment, on that night when shipwreck was imminent, was himself encouraged at the sight of those brethren in Christ, who had travelled so far to meet him. With Paul's arrival in Rome, and his interview with the chief men of the Jews at his lodgings, Luke's history draws to an end, no fact being subsequently mentioned but that of the Apostle's sojourn for two whole years in his hired house, receiving all that came unto him, preaching the kingdom of God, and teaching those things which concern the Lord Jesus Christ with all confidence, no man forbidding him. For all that we know subsequently of the evangelist's history, we are indebted to St. Paul. That he was with him till near the close of his life, 2 Tim. iv. 11 informs us. There, however, where history stops, we must stop. Very possibly he was in the company of those who were present at his martyrdom, and who went with him on his last earthly journey along the Ostian Way to the place of his execution. His devoted attachment to the Apostle would incline us to that supposition, though anything about Luke beyond St. Paul's notice of him, already referred to, is derived from tradition.

A Writer. — We have traced out his service to, and association with, St. Paul, both of whom have long passed away from earth. His personal service to the Apostle terminated, of course, with the latter's death. But Luke's service to the Church of God in general was and is of a different character. Written, not personal, ministry is that to which we refer. Paul, Peter, and John laboured both orally and by writing for the good of souls. Luke's ministry to the saints is displayed in his writings. The trusty, personal, and beloved friend of the Apostle Paul was the sacred historian of apostolic days, and one of the four evangelists to whom we owe an inspired account of the life of the Lord Jesus Christ. With this last are we now concerned.

Of the four evangelists, Matthew and Mark tell us of whom they write (Matt. i. 1; Mark i. 1); Luke and John, on the other hand, put on record why they write (Luke i. 1-4; John xx. 31). John wrote for the instruction of people in general, viz., that they might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing they might have life through His name. Luke wrote primarily for the instruction of one Theophilus, who was already a Christian, and therefore had life through Christ's name, and what he desired by his gospel to effect, he told Theophilus in his remarks introductory to the Acts. In his eyes it was a "treatise of all that Jesus began both to do and to teach, until the day in which He was taken up, after that He through the Holy Ghost had given commandments unto the Apostles whom He had chosen" (Acts i. 1, 2). But who Theophilus was, in common with much of our evangelist's own history, is now enshrouded in darkness. From the appellation "most excellent" (Luke i. 3), he was probably a man of rank, or one at the time, like Felix (Acts xxiii. 26), filling some high post. Certainly he was a convert to Christianity. This is all we know of him, and indeed his biography would doubtless have been of little or no service to any of us. But the biography of the Lord Jesus Christ, as Luke sketched it out for that man's instruction, is of priceless value to the Christian, and most attractive to hearts which have not yet found rest in the bosom of their Saviour, "They that are whole need not a physician, but they that are sick ” (Luke v. 31). Was not our evangelist, in writing his gospel, acting the part of a physician indeed, answering to his secular calling, by pointing his readers to Him whom sinners need, and introducing to their notice healing water for the soul?

Independence of the Evangelists. — studying his gospel side by side with the other three, one may see that each evangelist had a line of his own, and followed out a plan predetermined by the Spirit of God. Both their manner of introducing subjects, and the connection in which they relate events, etc., show it. For instance, Matthew introduces subjects so often by the adverb "then." Mark connects them by the copula "and." Luke resorts very frequently to the phrase "now" (or, and) "it came to pass." Then the order in which the three, viz., Matthew, Mark, and Luke, present their contents, and the brevity and fulness with which they are narrated, evidence complete independence of each other. How much, for instance, is there in the shortest gospel (Mark) not met with elsewhere; little touches often, like the strokes of a master artist, which fill in details of a picture, besides some incidents which he alone has preserved. It would be interesting to enlarge on this, but the present is neither the time nor the place.

A Clue to each Gospel. — What has just been said may help to show up the mistake of forming harmonies of the gospels. For, since each writer manifests his independence of his co-labourers, and narrates what he does and as he does, evidently by design, the object should be rather to trace out, if possible, that design, as evidenced by the order and manner in which they severally marshal their facts, ever remembering that the plan of each gospel, when discovered, opens up to us the purpose of the Spirit of God in inspiring the evangelist to write as he did. Whilst on this point, we would for a few moments direct the reader's attention to the miracle of the feeding the five thousand in the wilderness. It is the only miracle related by all four evangelists, and the manner of its introduction by each affords a clue to the special character in which the Lord is presented by each writer.

In Matthew's gospel we read of Him specially as Israel's Messiah, Son of David, Son of Abraham, who was sent, as Matthew only records, to the lost sheep of the house of Israel (xv. 24), and to whom alone during His life the twelve were sent to preach (x. 6). As Israel's Messiah, those needing it among them could claim His help in healing. (Compare ix. 27, xx. 30, with xv. 22, 24.) In accordance with this, Matthew prefaces the history of that miracle with the statement, that the Lord had been engaged that day in healing their sick (xiv. 14). Turning to Mark, which presents Him more as the Prophet or Teacher, we learn that He had been engaged that day in teaching the multitude many things (vi. 34). Matthew has told us only of His healing, Mark only of His teaching. Now when we turn to Luke, who introduces the Lord as the Son of man, and whose gospel dwells a good deal both on the kingdom and on grace, we find that his account of the miracle is prefaced by the announcement that the Lord had been both teaching and healing (ix. 11). Was Luke seeking to combine the two previous accounts? He tells, what Mark does not, that the subject of the teaching was the kingdom of God, that subject which occupies a large place in his own gospel (vi. — ix.). He intimates too, in a way Matthew did not, the fulness of grace that day put forth in healing power. Matthew, in keeping with his manner of relating things, wrote that the Lord healed their sick. The fact is stated, nothing more. Luke, who treats so much of grace, has recorded that the Lord healed that day "them that had need of healing." No one in that crowd, that was sick, went away unhealed. We get thus a better understanding from Luke of the fulness of that display of power. Was Luke then, we ask again, simply combining the statements of his brother evangelists? We think not. For as the statement of Matthew, and that of Mark, is each in character with the special teaching of those writers, not less so is that of Luke, who, treating so markedly of grace, calls attention to the double manner of its manifestation that day. The Lord thought of the soul's need, and met the wants of the body as well. He taught and He healed.

Turning to the gospel by John, which presents the Lord as a divine Person, the Word of God, and the only-begotten of the Father, the son of Zebedee, though present throughout the day, omits all notice of the Lord's occupation in healing and teaching, and introduces the history of the miracle, with the Lord's question to Philip, "Whence shall we buy bread, that these may eat?" "And this," adds John, "He said to prove him: for He Himself knew what He would do" (John vi. 5, 6). To the Lord's prescience and power John calls attention, in perfect character with his presentation of Christ as the Eternal Son of the Father. Can one doubt then, with the facts we have mentioned before us, and remembering that both Matthew and John were present, that there was a design in the way in which each evangelist introduced this miracle? And further, that the manner of its introduction by the writer is in harmony with that aspect of the Lord, in which each presents Him to us in his gospel? It is then a kind of key-note, which may always remind the reader of the light in which the evangelist, whose history he is studying, presents the Lord Jesus Christ.

St. Luke's Gospel. — Coming now to our evangelist, St. Luke, the reader will not be surprised, after what has been stated, if we remind him of some of the marked peculiarities of his gospel. Marked they are, for whole portions of it are peculiar to himself. Thus the events of the first two chapters are all peculiar to Luke; e.g., those visits of Gabriel, the Virgin's song and Zacharias' effusion, the birth in the stable, the angels' carol, the presentation in the temple, etc. Then the history of that Sabbath-day at Nazareth (Luke iv.); the miraculous draught of fishes (v.); and the raising of the widow of Nain's son (vii.); the story of the woman in Simon the Pharisee's house (vii.); and that of Mary under her sister's roof, with the mission of the seventy (x.); and very much that is related in chaps. xi, xviii. 14, — all this is only met with in our gospel. Add to this the story of Zacchaeus (xix.); the Lord strengthened by an angel (xxii. 43, 44); the penitent thief's conversion (xxiii.); and most of what Luke records in the last chapter of his gospel; and we see for how much we are indebted to his diligent labour on behalf of Theophilus.

Of parabolic instructions, to which the Lord so often resorted, we may mention the good Samaritan (x); the rich man who was a fool (xii.); the fig-tree (xiii.); the great supper (xiv.); the lost piece of money, and the prodigal son (xv.); the unjust steward, with the story of Dives and Lazarus (xvi.); the unjust judge, and the Pharisee and the publican (xviii.); to which may be added that of the pounds (xix.).

Amongst other points, we may notice the record of the Lord resorting to prayer. He prayed at His baptism (iii. 21). He prayed after cleansing the leper (v. 16). He spent a whole night in prayer before calling out the twelve (vi. 12). He was praying alone, when He asked the disciples who men thought that He was (ix. 18). He was praying when He was transfigured (ix. 28, 29). It was when He had been praying, that a disciple asked to be taught how to pray (xi. 1). He prayed too in the garden when in agony (xxii. 41). Thus Luke depicts Him as a dependent man, and fittingly so, because he presents Him as the Son of man, without, however, noticing every occasion on which the Lord was thus engaged. And further, as a man amongst men, we often read of Him as a guest; at times of Pharisees, then of publicans, as well as of Martha the sister of Lazarus (v. 29; vii. 36; x. 38; xi. 37; xiv. 1; xix. 5). He was on earth in grace to minister grace, so He did not, in the earlier part of His ministry at least, keep Himself aloof from people; but accepted proffered hospitality by whomsoever tendered, whilst ever, as the Great Physician, ministering under the roof of His host that which was suited for the occasion. But this leads on to details. To them let us now turn.

2. The Birth and Early Years of the Lord Jesus Christ (Luke 1 — 3).

The life of the Lord Jesus Christ on earth was the manifestation of the Word made flesh. By it was revealed the mystery or secret of piety (1 Tim. iii. 16). The Holy One of God, as the demon owned (Mark i. 24), was in this world. The only-begotten Son of the Father, who declared God by all He did and said, was walking about amongst men. No wonder then was it, as Luke has told us, that "many had taken in hand to set forth in order a declaration of those things which are most surely believed among us." It was but natural that accounts should be compiled, to perpetuate the remembrance of sayings and doings of the Lord Jesus; for "never man spake like this Man" [or, so spake] was the testimony, an unbiassed one, of some who heard Him (John vii. 46). Moreover, there was ample material for such records; for, as John has stated of the Lord's acts, "If they should be written every one, I suppose that even the world itself would not contain the books that should be written" (John xxi. 25). Many, therefore, might take in hand to write about the Lord, without needlessly repeating what their fellow-chroniclers had set forth. Evidently records about Him were numerous enough.

The Source. — Now those to which Luke refers were authentic, being derived from eye-witnesses and ministers of the Word, for legends and apocryphal gospels were the product of later times. But authentic though these were, they were derived from human sources. Thus they differed from the gospels of Matthew and John, the writers of which were themselves eye-witnesses of most that they related; for none of them professed to be histories drawn up at first hand. They were compilations of facts, etc., reported by others. That evidently was well known, and doubtless fully acknowledged. Now, was Luke's gospel of a nature akin to these compilations? His differed from such, he tells us, inasmuch as though not an eye-witness, any more than those to whom he refers, he had "perfect understanding of all things from the very first" [or, traced the course of all things accurately from the first]; so that Theophilus might know the certainty concerning the things wherein he had been instructed. Certainty, therefore, the evangelist claimed for his narrative. On it Theophilus could rest. It was not a mere statement of that which Luke had gleaned from human sources. He knew the certainty of it all. It differed from all those he referred to. It was really inspired. Now by that we mean, as St. Paul has explained what inspiration is, that Luke wrote his history in words taught of the Holy Ghost (1 Cor. ii. 13). He did not write to correct the other records. He does not for one moment call in question their truthfulness, but certainty as to the things wherein Theophilus had been instructed that Gentile convert could acquire, not by perusing them, but by giving heed to the history as set forth by our evangelist. Luke does not assert that his gospel is inspired; but it is difficult to think he could thus write, if it was not.

Gabriel's Visits. — For centuries there had been no fresh communication from God. Malachi, the last of the prophets, lived almost four hundred years before the Lord's incarnation. With his closing words he announces the coming in power of the Lord as the Sun of righteousness (iv. 2), having previously predicted the appearance of His forerunner (iii. 1), of whom Isaiah had also written (xl. 3). But when would that take place? Of it Malachi gave no indication. Was the Old Testament, then, silent upon it? No. Daniel in his prediction of the seventy weeks, or heptads of years (Dan. ix. 25, 26), furnished chronological data by which the coming of Messiah, and that in humiliation, to which he distinctly refers (26), could be determined. As Jeremiah was commissioned to announce the duration of the Babylonish captivity, which was limited to seventy years; so Daniel, near the close of that, was commissioned in his turn to announce the presence of Messiah upon earth, ere seven times seventy years, dating from the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem, had run their course. So the angelic messenger Gabriel, who had gone forth by divine command to give Daniel skill and understanding, appeared again on earth in the days of Herod the King, charged to announce the approaching birth of the Lord's immediate forerunner. God thus began afresh to communicate with His chosen people.

To Zacharias, a priest of Aaron's house, and of the course of Abia (1 Chron. xxiv. 10), he suddenly appeared. Low indeed were things in Judah, the fruit of Israel's sin; but God had not forgotten His promise, nor did He delay the fulfilment of it. If He fixes a time, He keeps to it. He fixed with Himself the limit of His forbearance with the old world (Gen. vi. 3), at the end of which the flood came. He fixed the date of the Exodus long before Jacob entered Egypt (Gen. xv. 16), and it took place (Ex. xii. 41). He limited the period of the captivity in Babylon (Jer. xxv. 11 xxvii. 7; xxix. 10), after which Cyrus set them free. He announced to Daniel the date from which the heptads of years must run ere Messiah the Prince would be cut off. That moment was near at hand, so Gabriel again visited earth, and appeared in the temple, near the altar of incense.

As to Daniel so to Zacharias, Gabriel came in answer to prayer, and on both occasions was permitted to announce more than had been solicited from God. Daniel was concerned about the termination of the captivity. He got an answer which looks on to the future and final deliverance of his people. Zacharias had asked for a son. He got an answer that his son should be the immediate forerunner of the long-expected Messiah. His prayer was heard. His wife should bear a son, rejoicing the heart of the father, and causing many to rejoice at his birth. Particulars about the child were added. His name was to be John, a reminder of the graciousness of Jehovah. He should be great in the sight of the Lord. Years after we have that confirmed (Luke vii. 28). Then in the spirit of a Nazarite, as far as abstention from wine was concerned, he was to live, and he would be filled from the womb with the Holy Ghost. Of his work, too, the angel spoke. He would be a mighty instrument to deal with consciences, turning many to the Lord their God, whose forerunner he was to be in the spirit and power of Elias, to make ready a people prepared for the Lord. Far beyond the aged priest's desires or conceptions God was about to go. The son asked for should come, not indeed to minister in his father's stead in the sanctuary at Jerusalem, but to bow the hearts of multitudes like bulrushes before the wind, to make ready a people for the Lord. The coming of the Lord was drawing nigh.

Inside the sanctuary Gabriel thus spoke. Had Zacharias forgotten his prayer, that he asked Gabriel, "Whereby shall I know this? for I am an old man, and my wife well stricken in years." Had he ceased to pray for a son that the glad tidings took him by surprise, and unbelief like a dark lowering cloud enwrapped his heart? The answer to his prayer had surely been long of coming, but now that delay was explained as he learnt who his son was to be. God answers prayer at the right time. All may now see the cause of the delay. God's purposes are carried out in His appointed way. Zacharias asked for a sign; a sign he should have. Dumb should he be, until God's promise was fulfilled. He had entered the sanctuary with the power of speech. He left deprived of it, till his son should be born. God gave him a sign, but it witnessed of his unbelief.

The Annunciation. — Six months passed, and again the angel Gabriel visited earth, sent this time to a virgin at Nazareth of Galilee, espoused to a man named Joseph of the house of David. The virgin's name was Mary. As by Zacharias, so by Mary, the angel's visit was wholly unexpected, and his salutation, "Hail, thou that art highly favoured, the Lord is with thee,"* troubled her much. What could it mean? She was to learn as he proceeded: "Fear not, Mary: for thou hast found favour with God. And behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name Jesus. He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto Him the throne of His father David: and He shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of His kingdom there shall be no end" (Luke i. 26-33).

{*"Blessed art thou among women" should be here omitted. Elisabeth (Luke i. 42) thus addressed Mary.}

Two sons were to be born, both named by the angel — John and Jesus. Both would be great, but of the former it is added "in the sight of the Lord." Speaking of the latter, there is a significance in its omission. The former was but a creature, the latter was more. The former would go before the face of the Lord, the latter would be the Son of the Highest. The former would turn many hearts to God, the latter would sit on David's throne reigning over the house of Jacob, and of His kingdom there should be no end. The differences between them were great indeed. John was to be filled with the Holy Ghost even from his mother's womb. Mary's Child was to be conceived of the Holy Ghost. Hence, as to His human nature, He would be holy. Saints can say they are born of the Spirit. He was conceived of the Spirit, a very different matter. In that He stands alone. Of no woman but Mary was it ever true, to be found with child of the Holy Ghost (Matt. i. 18). Truly man — we have to say of the Lord — He became man in a way peculiar to Himself. He was conceived of the Holy Ghost. This must ever be remembered as we think of His manhood, and the words of the angel would impress it on us, "That holy thing which shall be born* shall be called the Son of God" (Luke i. 35). Son of God from all eternity, the only begotten Son, as John writes of Him (John iii. 16, 18), He is Son of God as born in time as well, having been conceived of the Holy Ghost.

{*" Of thee" should be omitted.}

Zacharias had questioned the announcement made by Gabriel to him. Mary in her turn questioned the angel. Was unbelief at work in her? No. God reads hearts, and knows the spirit in which the creature speaks; Zacharias had spoken in the spirit of unbelief, Mary in that of inquiry. So the angel explained to her what she desired without one word of reproof. "The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee, therefore also that holy thing which shall be born shall be called the Son of God" (Luke i. 35). That pronoun uttered by God in Eden to the serpent, "her," i.e. the woman's "seed," a mysterious statement then, now received elucidation. The prophetic word, too, to Ahaz, the assurance that David's throne would not be supplanted by the son of Tabeal, was literally to come true, "Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call His name Immanuel," etc. (Isa. vii. 14). That virgin was Mary of Nazareth, and her Son was the woman's seed indeed, born of her, a pure virgin, by the mighty power of the Holy Ghost; and her Son would be the second man (1 Cor. xv. 47), the head of a new race. Mary bowed to the divine will, "Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word." Gabriel's visit then ended, but not before he had told Mary of her cousin Elisabeth's expectations, of which she now evidently heard for the first time. The barren was to become fruitful. The virgin was to bear a son. Both were miraculous events. Elisabeth, however, could turn to her ancestress Sarah for a precedent. Mary could cite none for her case. Of that which God could do, if He was pleased, Sarah was of old an illustration. For the fulfilment of God's word in the Garden of Eden, Mary was the appointed vessel.

The Expectant Mothers. — To Elisabeth's house Mary forthwith repaired. Doubtless Elisabeth had learnt from her husband Zacharias that her son John was to be the forerunner of Messiah, and the messenger of Jehovah, predicted by Malachi (iii. 1). But of whom, and when, was Messiah to be born, were questions as yet for her and her husband unsolved. Unexpectedly, and suddenly, it would appear, the narrative gives us to understand these were cleared up. Mary crossed the threshold of her house, saluted her cousin, and the expectant mother of John learnt who was to be the mother of her Lord. In what terms Mary saluted her we know not, but her response to Mary is recorded. It was the utterance of one filled with the Holy Ghost. She lifted up her voice with a loud cry (Luke i. 42-45). She knew both Mary's expectations and Mary's faith. When and how did she learn all this? Mary had not had time to speak of it. No whisper of it carried by human instrumentality had reached the hill country of Judea. Mary evidently, as Matthew teaches us, had not even told Joseph, to whom she was betrothed (Matt. i. 18, 19). How did Elisabeth know? She told, as she alone could declare it: "As soon as the voice of thy salutation sounded in mine ears, the babe leaped in my womb for joy" (Luke i. 44). The mother of her Lord was there.

Elisabeth having relieved her heart, Mary again spoke, and poured out her song of praise to God, which had Him as her Saviour for its object, His grace to her for its subject, and that in connection with His mercy and sovereignty, as well as His faithfulness to Abraham and their fathers of old (Luke i. 46-55). With the last notes of her song, all that passed between those two for us comes to an end, though for about three months those holy women enjoyed each other's society. Then Mary retraced her steps northward to Nazareth, and Elisabeth's full time drew near for the birth of her son. The child was born, her neighbours and her cousins rejoiced, but Zacharias was still dumb.

Prophecy begins afresh. — On the eighth day after its birth the father's tongue was loosed, and he spake and praised God, and prophesying through a human channel was now heard again. Silent for ages, it burst forth afresh as Zacharias blessed God, that He had visited and redeemed His people, and had raised up an horn of salvation for them in the house of His servant David. His unbelief had vanished. With God nothing shall be impossible, Gabriel had said, and to that Zacharias added his Amen, as he spoke with no uncertain note about that which was still future: John was born, but the Virgin's Son was not. The forerunner, however, having appeared, the Son of David, he believed, would come. His coming was close at hand. Many should rejoice at John's birth, had been the announcement made by Gabriel, the fulfilment of which the historian now records (i. 58), and the effect produced on people in the neighbourhood is related. Fear fell on them, and they laid up in their hearts what was now noised abroad (i. 65). A wonderful child was born, but a greater had yet to appear.

Zacharias' prophetic effusion. — Of the kingdom of God, and of the grace of God, the aged priest prophesied. Both these themes, and in this order, are very prominent in the gospel which follows. Fittingly, therefore, do his words find a place in its pages. But, as was natural with one who lived before the first Advent, and in keeping with Old Testament revelation, Zacharias connects the kingdom with Israel's full and everlasting blessing (i. 68-75), for as yet the existence of the kingdom in mystery had not been openly taught. But he spoke also, and that beautifully, of grace flowing from the tender mercy of their God, whereby the dayspring from on high should visit them, to give light to (or, to shine upon) them that sit in darkness and the shadow of death, and to guide Israel's feet into the way of peace. How far Zacharias understood the full meaning of his words it is not for us to determine; but, with Isa. xlii. 6 before us, may it not be that the Holy Ghost embraced in His thoughts more than a Jew would naturally have sung of, even grace which would reach Gentiles, as that prophet had foretold? Of Zacharias we hear no more, and further notice of the infancy, childhood, and early manhood of his son is for us compressed into one verse, "The child grew, and waxed strong in spirit, and was in the deserts till the day of his shewing unto Israel" (i. 80).

The Lord's Birth. — Nearly six months have passed by, and Mary, who had returned to Nazareth, left it again to journey southwards, and this time to Bethlehem. What took her south again? She went not to see the child John, nor to visit his parents. But we see God's hand in her movements. The Emperor in Italy was the instrument used to make the Virgin leave her home to visit Bethlehem, and there to give birth to her child. A decree was issued from Rome that all the world should be enrolled.* The Emperor may have had one object, God had another. And this decree stands out as an important link in the chain by which prophecy received its accomplishment. The Virgin who dwelt at Nazareth, must be taken to Bethlehem for the birth of Him whose kingdom would in time break in pieces the Roman empire, and fill the whole earth (Dan. ii.). Poor was she. Naturally, she would not have left Nazareth at such a time. Friendless too, it seems they were, at Bethlehem. The inn was crowded. No one offered them a home. No place had she wherein to cradle her child, but in a manger. The world desired not His presence, over whose birth heaven would rejoice.

{*It appears from modern research that Cyrenius was governor of Syria twice. This enrolment was made at the time of his first governorship. See Alford's article in Smith's Dictionary of the Bible. In accordance with this the Revised Version reads the passage, "This was the first enrolment made when Quirinius was governor of Syria.}

Born at night,* cradled in a manger, who would announce the event? Must men wake up from nocturnal slumber, ere the news could be spread abroad? No. That birth was singular in this, that an angel first announced the event to some shepherds, and a multitude of the heavenly host were then heard engaged in praise. Heaven was stirred. And those shepherds, watching their flocks by night, heard it, and witnessed it. The angel had announced to them the birth of a Saviour, Christ the Lord, and gave them a sign by which they should know Him — a babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, and lying in a manger (ii. 12). With the angel there was assembled a multitude of the heavenly host. The angel of the Lord addressed the shepherds. The angelic choir, as if unmindful of their presence, was wholly engaged in praising God. Silence they could not keep, for glory to God, and blessing to men, would result from that child's birth.

{*Luke carefully states that "she brought forth her firstborn son" (ii. 7). From Matt. i. 25 "firstborn" should be omitted. The perpetual virginity receives no countenance from the Word. }

"A Saviour, Christ the Lord." Thus was He described. A Saviour was born. Of grace that spoke. "Christ the Lord" were His titles. The former reminds us that He is man. The latter proclaims His dignity, as apart from, and superior to, every intelligent creature. He is Lord in relation to angels as well as to men (Phil. ii. 11). The angels went back into heaven, the shepherds then went to Bethlehem to see the child, after which they spread abroad the announcement of its birth. Their listeners wondered. They themselves glorified and praised God for all that they had heard and seen. Mary kept all those sayings, and pondered them in her heart. Heaven was moved, but earth, how little was it stirred! Elisabeth's kinsfolk rejoiced with her. We read of no such demonstration when Christ was born. Significant that surely was. Men wondered at that which the shepherds told them, but which of them moved a step to see the child? How far was earth out of tune with heaven! How listless were men about that which so interested the angels!

In the Temple. — The child born, the historian now directs our attention to Him, who henceforth becomes the prominent object in the foreground of the picture. He was first circumcised, and named. He was next presented before the Lord in the temple at Jerusalem in accordance with the word of Ex. xiii. 12, 13; Num. xviii. 16. His mother at the same time brought the offering for herself prescribed in Lev. xii. 8, a burnt offering and a sin offering, to make atonement for her, that she should be clean. For the male child, which opened the womb, no atonement was on such an occasion ever required, though every one but the Virgin's child was born in sin. God, however, had a claim on the firstborn which dated from the Exodus. That claim had to be met as the law appointed. Redemption by money, for every firstborn male of the twelve tribes, was a necessity. But this redemption by money was not redemption from judgment, with which it has been too often confounded. So from it the Lord Jesus was not exempted; as the historian's reference to the law (ii. 23) makes clear. And the law, it seems, made no difference in the money payment between a poor man's child and a rich one's son. On the other hand, Mary could avail herself of the provision in the law for those unable to bring a lamb, and so brought two birds. Her offering betokened her poverty. The object for which she brought them betokened her need as a sinful creature. How could that really be met? She surely little thought that the child she presented that day before the Lord was God's Lamb to meet the need of her soul. She was sinful. Her child was holy. But more. He would in due time give Himself as the ransom for His mother's soul.

Simeon and Anna. — But other events of that day are noticed. So we read of the aged Simeon, and of the devout widow Anna, a prophetess of the tribe of Asher. Simeon was looking for the consolation of Israel. Anna was in touch with those who waited for the redemption of Jerusalem, as we should here read (ii. 38).

To Simeon it had been revealed, that he should not see death till he had seen the Lord's Christ. We may well believe, from this his first and for aught we know his last interview with the infant Saviour, that the story of the Lord's birth had not previously reached Jerusalem. Certainly neither he nor Anna had travelled the little distance between the metropolis and Bethlehem, to see the child of whom the shepherds had spoken. Would he have remained at home in Jerusalem a whole month had he known that the Lord's Christ was at Bethlehem? Would Anna have kept silent for a month, had she learnt what the angel had told the shepherds? The introduction of Simeon and Anna at this juncture to the infant Saviour, shows how little concerned people had been with the event of the Lord's birth. Heaven had rung with the news, which on earth for a whole month seems not to have spread beyond Bethlehem.

Simeon entered in the Spirit into the temple, and Mary and Joseph brought the child. It was nothing new to the habitual frequenters of its courts to see a poor couple, their poverty expressed by the mother's offering, approach the altar with their first-born male in its parent's arms. Simeon however knew, what others did not, the officiating priest not excepted (for the Spirit of the Lord had taught him), that the child of that poor mother was the Christ of God. Taking Him in his arms, the aged saint blessed God. His desire was accomplished. In the temple court he saw the Lord's Christ. In his arms he held God's salvation. His heart was full, his mouth was opened, and he poured forth those words, which generation after generation has since taken up and repeated (ii. 29-32). He who had come by the Spirit into the temple was surely under the guidance of the Spirit in what he uttered. He spoke of the child as a light for the revelation of Gentiles as well as the glory of God's people Israel (ii. 32). A Jew would naturally have first thought of his nation, God's earthly people. Old Simeon set Gentiles in the foreground, for in truth they would be evangelised in common with Israelites, and thus be brought out of the obscurity in which dispensationally they had been kept, ere the Jewish nation would enter into final blessing.

Simeon was satisfied. He held in his arms that little child by whom salvation would be effected. In the temple court he expressed his satisfaction as he blessed God. How instructive and significant! Surrounded by that which spoke of the Mosaic ritual, and of the service of song to accompany it instituted by David, he turned his back, as it were, on it all. Often doubtless had he heard the musicians with the cymbals, the trumpets, and that most melodious of all instruments the human voice, harmoniously praising Jehovah. Often too must he have witnessed the service at the altar, but nothing of that now engaged him. He was occupied with the infant child of a poor mother, of whom, as we know, all the sacrifices offered upon the altar were but types. The Lord's Christ was before him. He was permitted to have Him in his arms. His desires were fulfilled. Salvation would be effected; Israel's blessing would be wrought out; he could die then in peace, though he would never witness this side of death the glory of that kingdom, to which there is no end.

He had spoken of himself. He next blessed Joseph and Mary, but divinely directed, we may certainly say, did not bless the child. "The less is blessed of the better" (Heb. vii. 7). Then addressing His mother, he speaks first about the child, and next about her. "Behold this child is set for the fall and rising again [or, up] of many in Israel: and for a sign which shall be spoken against; yea, a sword shall pierce through thine own soul also, that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed" (ii. 34, 35). At the cross she proved indeed the truth of the old saint's words.

Ere Mary and Joseph left the temple Anna came up, and, like Simeon, was immediately engaged with the child, giving thanks first to God, and then speaking of Him to all them that looked for the redemption of Jerusalem (ii. 36-38). God provided a suited instrument, to spread abroad amongst His waiting people the knowledge of the presence on earth of Israel's King, and David's Lord. To Anna the prophetess such would give heed. But of that we hear no more.

And now those eventful sixteen months came to an end. Twice had Gabriel visited earth. Two children had been born. Joy was occasioned by the birth of the first. Praise and thanksgiving flowed to God by reason of the birth of the second. The first great step in the work of redemption for guilty creatures had been openly seen. Incarnation, predicted of old, was an accomplished fact. The Lamb of God had appeared in the person of the Virgin's child, and He had been presented to the Lord in the temple according to the law. To Nazareth, therefore, Mary and Joseph returned, and the brief record of the first eleven years of that child's life tells us that He "grew, and waxed strong,* filled with wisdom; and the grace of God was upon Him" (ii. 40).

{*"In spirit," is now generally rejected.}

The Child with the Doctors. — An incident in illustration of this last statement the evangelist now relates. It is the only one that has come down to us in sacred Scriptures connected with the Lord's boyhood. At twelve years of age He was found by His mother and Joseph "in the temple, sitting in the midst of the doctors, both hearing them, and asking them questions. And all that heard Him were astonished at His understanding and answers." Three points should be noticed as we read the passage (ii. 42-51). First, as a child, He kept the place, and behaved as a child. He heard the recognised teachers speak as becomes a child. He asked questions like a child. But He did not attempt to teach. That would not have been comely for a child. Second, as the Son of His Father, and conscious of it, He was about His Father's business, as He told His mother. Yet with the full knowledge of His Godhead, the Father's Son, He was then a child, and kept the place of one. All were astonished at His understanding and answers. But none could raise a finger in disapproval of His deportment: And third, as the child of His mother, He went down with her and Joseph to Nazareth, and was subject unto them. What a picture! What a lesson! He who was concerned about the things of His Father, submitted Himself to Joseph and Mary as long as He was a child. And the evangelist adds, "Jesus increased (or, advanced) in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and men" (ii. 52).

Eighteen years of His life roll by ere we again read anything about Him. How different is the commencement of Luke's gospel from that of Matthew's! The latter tells of the cloud which had crossed Joseph's mind about his betrothed. It tells us, too, of the visit of the wise men, of Herod's attempt to destroy the Infant, how God at length guided those travellers to the house, and how God had provided for the preservation of the child by flight into Egypt. We learn also therein of the angel's visit to Joseph, who told him what the child should be called, and why (Matt. i. 21). In Matthew (chaps. i., ii.) we have the acts of Joseph; in Luke i., the acts of Mary.

And now we part company with Zacharias and Elisabeth and with Simeon and Anna. Joseph, too, disappears from view. John also will soon be off the scene, leaving the Lord as the object before us, during His ministry amongst men. And the only one of whom we have read, who remained on earth after the Crucifixion, Resurrection, and Ascension, was Mary, His mother. The sword did pierce through her soul when she stood by the cross. But the joy of which the world could not deprive her was hers, in common with the disciples, when the Lord was risen, and had sent, consequent on His Ascension, the Holy Ghost; for in the reception of that gift His mother must have shared in common with the rest.

John the Baptist. — Eighteen years, we have said, had to roll by with nothing in the history to mark them. Then the historian again gives us a note of time. He had told us that Gabriel visited Zacharias in the days of Herod the King. He had also told us of that first census, or enrolment, made when Quirinius was governor of Syria. He now tells us of a very important event, and fixes the date of it by the fifteenth year of Tiberius Caesar, naming at the same time the contemporary governors of Judea, and of the neighbouring provinces, not forgetting the high priesthood (for so we should read) of Annas and Caiaphas. The important event was the commencement of John the Baptist's ministry in the country about Jordan, called to it by God (iii. 2) from his previous seclusion in the wilderness. He preached the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins. This was quite a new ministry, differing from any which had in any age preceded it. New to the people therefore it was, though in full accord with the prophetic word by Isaiah (xl. 3-5) which Luke quotes, but freely, from the LXX., giving us in its concluding clause (in agreement with the LXX.) those words, which are in perfect keeping with the character of his gospel, "and all flesh shall see the salvation of God" (iii. 6). Neither Matthew nor Mark quotes here so fully from the prophet, and neither of them gives that last clause of the Greek version. Their line of teaching did not call for it. With Luke it was otherwise. Grace can flow out to all people, not to Israel only. Hence, treating as he is about to do so fully of grace, that clause to which we have called attention is an index to what the reader may expect to learn from the pages of his gospel, "All flesh shall see the salvation of God."

His Preaching. — The Baptist introduced, his ministry is noticed: how he addressed the crowds, and how he spoke to different classes (iii. 7-14), this last being peculiar to Luke. All must be real, if they would henceforth share in blessing. Conformity to outward ordinances, trusting in national privileges, would not avail. Judgment must come. He who is to be the Judge was not far off, and the unfruitful tree would surely be cut down. How earnest, how personal, how solemn, was his preaching. Yet there was glad tidings connected with it (iii. 18), for he preached the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins. Multitudes flocked to him for baptism — the confession, outwardly at least, if it never went beyond it, of individual and utter failure under the law. For why be baptised for the forgiveness of sins, if they needed not that favour? And John desired, oh how earnestly! reality in those who came to his baptism; and for each class, whether the common crowd, or the publicans, or the soldiers, who asked him what they should do, he had a ready and a suitable answer to give. To make ready for the Lord a prepared people was to be his work, as announced by the angel to his father Zacharias. How he attempted to effect that, Luke, who alone recorded the angel's words, has taught us as none of his brother evangelists have done, and has indicated also that more might have been recorded of John's preaching had it been requisite (18).

Marvellously popular seemed the movement. Crowds converged from different parts to where John was, for God was working; and, when He works, men listen, and are moved. A man, it would seem little heard of previously, began to preach, not at Jerusalem, the great centre of Jewish life, but in the region of the Jordan, and men went thither from the metropolis, and were baptised of him in the river, confessing their sins. Who was he, they were asking, who had such power over men? Had the Messiah appeared? Was John the coming one, the prophet like unto Moses? Such thoughts passed through people's minds. But John dispelled every illusion about himself by his announcement before all, contrasting the coming One with himself: "I indeed baptise you with water: but One mightier than I cometh, the latchet of whose shoes I am not worthy to unloose: He shall baptise you with the Holy Ghost and with fire; whose fan is in His hand, and He will throughly purge His floor, and will gather the wheat into His garner; but the chaff He will burn with fire unquenchable" (iii. 16, 17).

Baptism of the Spirit and of Fire. — The Baptist was but the forerunner. Great as he was thought, and great as he really was, he was nevertheless unworthy to stoop to the lowest office for the coming One — to loose even His shoe latchet. Nor was that all. He baptised with water; but the Christ would baptise with the Holy Ghost and with fire, i.e., He would bestow the fullest blessing, and execute judgment likewise — for fire is here emblematic of judgment, as the Baptist went on to explain — but the chaff He will burn with fire unquenchable. An outline we here get in a few words of that which the Christ would do. And addressing a mixed multitude John spoke to them of both, though the saints of God only share in the one, and the impenitent only in the other. For to baptise with the Holy Ghost is to bestow the fullest blessing that saints can enter into upon earth. There is nothing beyond the gift of the Holy Ghost, and the becoming members by the baptism of the Spirit of the Body of Christ (1 Cor. xii. 13). Fire, on the other hand, as we have stated, is here emblematic of judgment. The reader may seize the full bearing of the Baptist's statement, if he compares Matt. iii. 11 and Luke iii. 16 with Mark i. 8 and Acts i. 5. In both the former gospels, judgment is a prominent thought, and in both is baptism with fire mentioned. But in Mark, where the theme of judgment is but sparingly touched on, and in Acts, where the faithful were alone for the moment in view, the fire is not mentioned. It would not be in place. The evangelists were evidently no copyists, but wrote with a design, that of the Spirit of God.

What we have said is confirmed by Peter's words to those of the circumcision in Jerusalem, subsequent to the outpouring of the Spirit on the Gentiles at Caesarea. He discerned that God had done for these last, what He had previously done for the others in the upper room at Jerusalem. "As I began to speak, the Holy Ghost fell on them, as on us at the beginning. Then remembered I the word of the Lord, how that He said, John indeed baptised with water, but ye shall be baptised with the Holy Ghost" (Acts xi. 15, 16). Not a hint does he give of the baptism of fire having taken place. He speaks of that of the Holy Ghost. He is wholly silent about the other, and rightly so. That yet awaits its fulfilment. But were there not cloven tongues like as of fire seen in the upper room? Unquestionably. Was not that the baptism of fire? We firmly believe not. The Lord in the Acts did not mention it; and Peter never alluded to it. The Baptist, as we have said, has explained his own words. Let us learn from. him.

The Baptism of Christ. — John had witnessed of Christ. He was now to baptise Him. The Lord thus submitting to all the rites and ordinances to which one of Israel had to conform, would get access to the sheep in the fold, after which His ministry could begin. Circumcised, presented to God, and now to be baptised: of all these does Luke tell us. At last the two were to meet, hitherto strangers to each other (John i. 31, 33), and the Lord to be baptised of John in Jordan! When that had taken place, John's great work would be accomplished; so our historian here finishes up the history of John's ministry by the mention of his subsequent imprisonment by Herod the tetrarch (Luke iii. 19, 20), that he may leave himself free to pursue uninterruptedly his theme of the life of Christ in ministry amongst men. The Lord's baptism is briefly noticed. The address of John to the Lord and His reply when he saw Him coming to be baptised, recorded by Matthew (iii. 14, 15), are wholly omitted by Luke, who, however, tells us what none of the others do — the Lord's occupation when the heavens were opened to Him. He was praying. Who but Himself on earth then knew the blessed results to the sheep in Israel from His baptism that day? He had now entered by the door into the sheepfold (John x. 2), as the Shepherd of the sheep. But who was it who submitted to the rite of baptism to get into intercourse with the sheep? As to His person, He was perfectly holy, differing from every other man, His holiness being demonstrated by the Holy Ghost descending "in a bodily shape like a dove upon Him," and as John records (i. 32) abiding on Him. But more, "a voice came out of heaven, Thou art My beloved Son; in Thee I am well pleased" (Luke iii. 22). He was then the Father's Son, God as well as man. The voice, our historian tells us, addressed Him. With this Mark (i. 11), when rightly read, is of accord; Matthew giving us, it would seem, only the subject of the heavenly communication. But all agree that His baptism had special features connected with it. At His birth the angelic choir was heard praising God. At His baptism the heavens were opened, the Holy Ghost was seen like a dove descending on Him, and the Father's voice was heard proclaiming what He was to Him who is in the heavens. The Father spoke to Him. Son of God, He was also Son of man. For men to know the former, the witness from heaven was vouchsafed. The latter could be proved by genealogical records, tracing up His descent through David and Abraham to Adam. This Luke does, acquainting Theophilus with the age of the Lord at His baptism. He was then about thirty, the age appointed by God for the Levites to commence bearing burdens in the sanctuary (Num. iv.). Thirty years old also was Joseph, when he stood before Pharaoh (Gen. xli. 46). Thirty years old was David when he began to reign (2 Sam. v. 4). About thirty years old was the Lord when baptised by John in Jordan.

The Genealogy. — Whose line is it that Luke gives us, Joseph's or Mary's? From very ancient times it has been held that he gives us the genealogy of Joseph, as does also his brother evangelist Matthew. Africanus, who lived in the third century, quoted by Eusebius, maintained this, and endeavoured to explain it. Some moderns have viewed it as the genealogy of Mary. There are difficulties in accepting either of these conclusions as indubitably correct. We may be sure, however, Luke has made no mistake in that which he presented to Theophilus, having, as he has given us to understand, verified what he wrote (Luke i. 3). But as yet no one has been able successfully to settle the question. There, then, we must leave it. The Lord's Davidic descent is unquestionable, whichever view be adopted. Peter affirmed it (Acts ii. 30), and Paul also (Acts xiii. 23; Rom. i. 3; 2 Tim. ii. 8), and the Lord Himself declared it (Matt. xxii. 45; Mark xii. 37; Luke xx. 41; Rev. xxii. 16). And the angel Gabriel's words to the Virgin (Luke i. 32), and Zacharias in his song (i. 69), both speak of it, though knowing, certainly the former, doubtless the latter, that Joseph was not the real father of the child about to be born. The Virgin's child was really David's seed. If the genealogy be that of Mary, of course it proves it. If it be not, it does not deny it. We have referred to Africanus as an early advocate for the genealogy being that of Joseph; it is only right to add that the Talmud, according to Lightfoot, declares that Mary was the daughter of Eli, which favours of course the view that Luke gives us her descent. Looking at the context, one would incline to the view that it is Mary's genealogy. For in Matthew, who gives Joseph's line, Joseph is prominent throughout. Our historian has presented us with that which may be called the acts of Mary. It would, therefore, be quite in keeping with this, that the genealogy should be hers, not Joseph's. But this seems one of those questions for the solution of which we must yet wait.

3. The Temptations in the Wilderness, and the Commencement of His Ministry in Galilee (Luke 4: 1 — 5: 26)

The Lord Jesus Christ had entered by the door into the sheepfold. On Him the Holy Ghost had descended, and rested, — a proof to John the Baptist, who saw it, that He was the Son of God, the same who would baptise with the Holy Ghost and with fire (John i. 33, Matt. iii. 11). The threshing-floor was His, the garner was His (Luke iii. 17), the wheat too was His, and so with the chaff He would deal, burning it with fire unquenchable (Matt. iii. 12). Divine power He would wield, for He was God; yet He was here, and ever will be, a man. So He who was to baptise with the Holy Ghost (He must be God to do that), returned from Jordan full of the Holy Ghost, to be led in (as Luke probably wrote, not into) the wilderness during forty days, being tempted of the devil. In Matthew and in Mark we read that He was led of the Spirit into the wilderness. Luke, however, tells us how during all those forty days He was under the guidance of the Spirit. In the wilderness, through the Spirit's guidance thither, He was subjected to that same guidance throughout the forty days, both these statements being illustrative of that which our evangelist writes, "Jesus, full of the Holy Ghost."

Full, not Filled. — For full of, not filled with the Holy Ghost, is the statement about the Lord. This distinction should be noticed. Full of the Holy Ghost, tells us, it would seem, of that which habitually or generally characterised the individual. So Stephen and Barnabas are thus described (Acts vi. 5, xi. 24), and the seven deacons were to be men of that class. Filled with the Spirit, on the other hand, is used of vessels taken up for God's service, whether for a longer or for a shorter duration of time. Instances of this last will be found in Elisabeth and Zacharias (Luke i. 41, 67); the company at Pentecost; Peter too and Paul (Acts ii. 4; iv. 8, 31; xiii. 9). Full of the Spirit was characteristic of the Lord throughout His ministry. And bearing in mind the distinction just noted, one observes the propriety of Luke's statement about Him, and may mark the force of the Apostolic exhortation in Ephes. v. 18, though it is not so easy to express in a translation.

Forty. — Forty days was the Lord in the wilderness, fasting all that time. For forty years Moses was in the desert feeding the flock of Jethro, his father-in-law. For forty years Israel was in the desert, to prove them, to know what was in their heart, whether they would keep God's commandments, or not (Deut. viii. 2). For forty days Goliath challenged Israel to find a man to fight with him (1 Sam. xvii. 16), but no one, who daily witnessed that sight, was bold enough in reliance on God to enter into the conflict, till David appeared, and conquered. For forty days Elijah went in the desert on the strength of the meat which God graciously provided for His servant, to Horeb, the mount of God (1 Kings xix. 8). Forty days were allowed the Ninevites in which to repent, or the threatened judgment would fall on them (Jonah iii. 4). Hence it would appear that this number forty has to do with the thought of probation. The Lord in the wilderness forty days without food proved Himself to be faithful, and really dependent on God.

The Temptations. — The first man had yielded to the enemy's seduction through the instrumentality of his wife. Would the second man stand? The first fell by eating of the forbidden fruit, but having no excuse for what he did, for in the Garden of Eden he was surrounded by all that he could desire. He knew no want. To the pangs of hunger he was a stranger. The second man was led by the Spirit into the wilderness. He did not go there without Divine and special guidance. A man, He kept the place of a man. Led by the Spirit, and only thus, He went into it. But He was also led by the Spirit in it during those forty days and forty nights, as Matthew expressed in Jewish phraseology the duration of time. At its close, and He had fasted all that time, the devil came to Him and assailed Him, who was found not only without human support or countenance, but hungry likewise. In three ways was He tempted. And as Luke presents the three temptations a moral order in them is observable, corresponding to those by which Eve had been seduced, which may be described in the language of Scripture as "the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life" (1 John ii. 16). She saw that the tree was good for food, was pleasant to the eyes, and was a tree to be desired to make one wise (Gen. iii. 6). So she took of the fruit of it, and ate, and Adam after her. She was ensnared by that which John tells us is of the world. Would the second man refuse these, which were to Eve irresistible temptations, and overcome, where the first had failed? He did resist, manifesting the most perfect obedience to the Word of God. Adam and Eve had the word for their day. Eve knew it, and quoted it; but they did not keep it. Had they done that, it would have kept them. The second man found, and brought forth from the written word, all that was needful for one in His day, in the wilderness with the devil. God does not send any to warfare at their own charges.

We have spoken of the moral order of the temptations, as that in which St. Luke presents them, for he does not, be it remarked, tell Theophilus that in that order the devil assailed the Lord. Matthew, on the other hand, distinctly asserts, that the temptation on the pinnacle of the temple was the second, not the third of Satan's assaults. For in common with the dispensational character of his gospel he tells us how the Lord was tempted, first as man, then as Messiah, and last as the Son of man; Psalm xci. referring to Him as Messiah, whilst sovereignty over the whole world is to be His, as the Son of man, in accordance with the eighth Psalm. By the words "then" and "again," Matthew (iv. 5, 8) marks the order of the temptations. Luke simply connects them together by "and" (iv. 5, 9), as events which took place. An instance thus early we have of Luke's practice of arranging his materials in a moral, not an historic order, when his plan called for it.

Alone with the enemy, who was allowed to lead Him from place to place as he would, the Lord Jesus met every assault by the word of God, surely in this teaching us that, if God leads into temptation, He can, and will if we are subject, furnish us with the word wherewith to meet and to resist the tempter (Eph. vi. 17). It was the Son of God who was in the wilderness, and He was hungry. Why not put forth His power, and relieve His own want? Nothing would seem to a fallen creature more natural. If He had the power, why not use it? Was the devil mistaken as to who He was? He was the Son of God in the highest sense, but He was man as well. So He kept the place of a man, and answered the enemy each time from the Word. "It is written." "If thou be the Son of God, command this stone that it be made bread," were the words of the tempter — pointing, doubtless, to one lying at their feet. "It is written," was the reply, "that man shall not live by bread alone." He turned the tempter to Deut. viii. 3 as the sufficient and conclusive answer to his suggestion. For having received no word from God to do that, He would not in that way supply His need. Man was to live by the word of God, as well as by bread,* as Moses told Israel, that Jehovah had been teaching them all through the wilderness. To it the second man submitted. But who would have supposed when and by whom these words would be quoted as applicable to His own case? Who would have presupposed that the Son of the Father would have found Himself alone and hungry in the wilderness? The sequel showed that He was right in what He did for the angels subsequently came and ministered to Him. He was not forgotten, though for a time left without food.

{*It has often been noticed that the Lord met the enemy each time from the book of Deuteronomy as the Word of God, that book which it has been the fashion of late with some to regard as a compilation of some unknown scribe of a much later date than the day of Moses. Evidently the Lord viewed it as Scripture, and the devil knew that it was so. Had it been but a human compilation, falsely ascribed to Moses, would not the devil at once have put that forward, to demonstrate that the quotations made by the Lord had no Divine authority? He knew well that it was part of the Law, and he felt the force of the Word of God. Further on (Luke x. 27), in answer to the Lord's question to the lawyer, "What is written in the law?" that man replied by quoting Deut. vi. 5 as the Word of God. And the Lord fully endorsed his answer as a quotation from the Divine Word. Later still (xx. 28), the Sadducees came to Him with their question about the resurrection, and referred to Deut. xxv. 5-9 as the writing of Moses to Israel. Did the Lord correct their mistake? — for mistake it must have been, if some modern critics are right. No. Moses did write Deuteronomy. It was part of God's law given by him.}

The tempter, foiled but not abashed, led Him up, and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time, and offered them to Him with their glory as a free gift, if only He would worship before him, asserting what was wholly untrue, that they all had been delivered to him, and he could dispose of them as he chose. How the devil's true character (John viii. 44) here comes out! For rulers are God's ministers, not the devil's. The powers that be are ordained of God (Rom. xiii.). Besides this, all that the devil offered of sovereignty, God had centuries before announced to whom, as the Sovereign Ruler, He would give it (Psalm ii. 8). What a bold attempt was this! All should be the Lord's, he said, if only He would worship before him. All was to be His really, a gift from the Father to the Son. Again with "It is written," the Lord met this assault. "It is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and Him only shalt thou serve" (Deut. vi. 13). The other temptation, the scene of which was on a pinnacle of the temple, was also met by the written word (Deut. vi. 16), after the enemy had craftily adduced Psalm xci. 11 (for it was really a garbled quotation),* in support of that which he advanced. Satan, now thrice defeated, departed from Him for a season.** Persistent in his attack, he was effectually resisted.

{*"In all thy ways," Satan omitted. An important clause.

**There are some variations in Luke's account of the temptations, when rightly read, from that furnished by Matthew. In the latter, the Lord, in quoting Deut. viii. 3, gives what Luke omits, viz., "by every word of God." Luke also really omits "into an high mountain" (v. 5), and necessarily "Get thee behind me, Satan" (v. 8). But he tells us, what Matthew did not, of the devil's assertion that all the kingdoms of the world and their glory were his by deed of gift, to dispose of to whom he would. He owned, therefore, that he was a creature, yet asked for worship before him on the part of the Lord. How different was the conduct of that elect angel at whose feet John fell (Rev. xxii. 8, 9).}

A Lesson. — By the word of God's lips, to use the language of Psalm xvii. 4, the Lord Jesus Christ kept Himself from the paths of the destroyer. He met every temptation by the written word. God had provided centuries before that which would effectually silence and discomfit the enemy. But let us observe what here comes out in His use of the written word. For, though He who was thus tempted was without sin, and therefore different from all of us, yet the principle on which He acted is the principle for us. Asked to act on His own behalf, He would not, for He had no word from God to authorise that. Asked to worship before the devil, He refused, for a word of God distinctly forbade it. Solicited to cast Himself down from a pinnacle of the temple, to prove God's faithfulness to His word, He did not, because one word of God is not to be used to neutralise another, which remains still uncancelled. Shall the history of the Lord's temptations be to us only just like a beautiful picture, on which we can gaze with admiration? No. It furnishes us with principles for our day, and never more needful than now, illustrative of the value and sufficiency of God's Word, and it teaches us how to use it. Further, this same history suggests to us that much may go on without our knowledge. Who of men saw the Lord on the pinnacle of the temple, and the devil present with Him? There was a conflict going on in which men were deeply concerned, and yet of which they were profoundly ignorant. Israel had known nothing at the time of Balaam's attempt on the mount. Men knew nothing of the Lord resisting the devil.

Commencement of His Ministry. — Returning in the power of the Spirit into Galilee, there went out a fame of Him through all the region round about. "And He taught in their synagogues, being glorified of all" (Luke iv. 14, 15). Our evangelist now begins his account of the Lord's ministry, passing over, in common with Matthew and Mark, what is stated of Him by John previous to the Baptist's imprisonment (John ii., iii.); for, like them, it is on the Lord's ministry in Galilee that he chiefly dwells. The second man had resisted by the Word of God the temptations of the enemy, just what the first man did not do. Tested, He stood. As a man subject to God's Word, He had overcome. Shortly was it now to be seen, how by the exercise of Divine power He would despoil the devil of his prey.

Two Sabbath Days. — To Nazareth are we first turned, the city in which He had been brought up. As was His wont, He entered into the synagogue on the Sabbath day. Standing up to read, there was delivered unto Him the book of the prophet Isaiah, and finding the place, which answered to our chapter lxi. of that prophet, He read just a few of the opening clauses. Then He closed the book, and sat down, the eyes of all present being fastened on Him. He had read, it would seem, not the appointed portion, according to the Jewish lectionary, but a passage He Himself selected. His doing that may have the more fixed attention on Him. And now, having gained it, He opened His mouth and announced the fulfilment of the prophetic word in His own person. He was the one of whom Isaiah had written. Never before, we may be sure, had one there stood up to read, and then declared that the prophetic word was written of Himself. It was language with which the walls of that synagogue had never previously resounded. The first effect on the congregation the historian relates, "All bare Him witness, and wondered at the gracious words which proceeded out of His mouth." Then what they really wished for the Lord told them, for He knew their thoughts: "Ye will surely say unto Me this proverb: Physician, heal thyself. Whatsoever we have heard done in Capernaum, do also here in thy country" (Luke iv. 23). Works of power they wished to see, but for the word they had no heart. So He went on to announce that He knew what was before Him — rejection by the people, of which they that day gave proof. But rejection was, for Him, but the treatment meted out to Elijah and Elisha. And as God worked by them outside the apostate nation, so could God work in grace outside His earthly people, ministering to any who would receive it. The helpless, like the widow of Sarepta, those whose case seemed hopeless, like that of Naaman, would, if willing, share in the blessing to be bestowed.

For He had come into this sin-stricken world to act in grace, and since that was the case its outflow could not be confined within the channel of the Jewish people. His address stirred the animosity of the congregation, though the Lord adduced facts with which all were conversant. But grace which could include Gentiles within its limits, Jews would not hear of. So, filled with wrath, they "rose up, and thrust Him out of the city, and led Him unto the brow of the hill whereon their city was built, so that they might cast Him down headlong. But He, passing through the midst of them, went His way" (iv. 29, 30). A ministry of grace they would not listen to, though fully aware of the proofs He had already given in Capernaum of His Divine mission. Works of Divine power had been displayed in that latter city, supplying ample credentials, if they of Nazareth had been willing calmly to judge from them. They were willing to witness displays of power, but were not willing to hear of God acting in the sovereignty of His grace, so they cast Him out. Come in grace, He did not resist them, but illustrated in measure by His movements that which subsequently He enjoined on the twelve, viz., "When they persecute you in this city flee ye into another" (Matt. x. 23).

At Capernaum. — He went down therefore to Capernaum, a city of Galilee on the shore of the Lake of Gennesaret; Luke thus reminding us that Nazareth in the hill country was at a higher elevation than the margin of the lake. Matthew (iv. 13) tells us that having left Nazareth He came and dwelt in Capernaum. He mentions the fact. Luke acquaints us with the reason. At Nazareth they would not receive His ministry, hence Capernaum became His abode, having, as we have already learnt (Luke iv. 23), been previously visited by Him. Capernaum then became His own city (Matt. ix. 1), whilst Nazareth was His own country (Mark vi. 1); and at the former He taught them on the Sabbath days. To one of those Sabbaths attention is now directed. Entering the synagogue, which had been built, as we subsequently learn, by a centurion (Luke vii. 5), the Lord taught them. They were astonished, for His word was with power; and with authority He could and did act. A man was there with the spirit of an unclean demon, who cried out with a loud voice, "Ah [rather than, Let us alone], what have we to do with Thee, Jesus, Nazarene? Art Thou come to destroy us? I know Thee who Thou art, the Holy One of God." An awful question was asked, indicating what the demons know is their fate, and that without hope of deliverance in the future. To this the Lord made no answer. But as at Philippi (Acts xvi. 17), so here, the demon would attempt to advertise. Jesus, the Nazarene, it declared, was the Holy One of God. True indeed; and the folly and the blindness of the men of Nazareth, a demon could see and proclaim. But testimony from a demon to His person, however true in itself, the Lord would not receive. So He rebuked that spirit, distinguishing between it and the man through whom it had spoken, "Hold thy peace, and come out of him." The effect on the demon was seen at once. That word of command was instantly obeyed. It went out of its victim, and though it had first cast him on the ground, it hurt him not. The effect too on the beholders, and the result from that miracle, Luke has reported (iv. 36, 37). Those present were amazed, and the Lord's fame was spread abroad "into every place of the country round about." To exorcise demons was nothing new (Matt. xii. 27), yet all present were amazed. Unquestioning obedience to Him was rendered by unclean spirits. One was upon earth who had never as a man been here before.

Leaving the synagogue, He entered Simon's house, and healed his mother-in-law of a great fever, and so perfectly, and immediately, that she arose and ministered unto them. Then at sunset, when the Sabbath was past, all they that had any sick with divers diseases brought them unto Him, and laying His hands on every one of them He healed them. Demons also came out from many, confessing that He was the Son of God,* and knowing that He was the Christ. Again He refused their testimony. Night then closed on that day of activity in grace. To Him that day was clearly not one of rest, for the condition of men, the fruit of the fall, called forth His ministry in the word, and in acts of healing as well. A labour this last must have been, exceeding what we may have thought, for He laid His hands on every one of the sick, thus personally attending to all who had need. On the morrow, sought for by the people, He was found alone in a desert place. Invited to stay with them, so contrary to the treatment He had received at Nazareth, He nevertheless refused; assigning as the reason, obedience to Him who had sent Him. "I must preach," was His answer, "the kingdom of God to other cities also, for therefore am [or, was] I sent." "And He was preaching," the historian tells us, "in the synagogues of Galilee." Activity in service characterised Him. He preached the good news of the kingdom.

{*The testimony of the demons was, "Thou art the Son of God" (Luke iv. 41), for we should omit "Christ." They never so called Him, though they well knew as Luke here tells us, that He was the Christ.}

Two Sabbath days have been described. On the first He was rejected, and had to leave the place. On the second He was welcomed, and sought after on the following day. Mere ministry in the word was refused. Works of power were appreciated. A little picture this seems of the difference between His first coming and His second. Rejected formerly because Israel would not listen to grace which can embrace Gentiles as well as Jews, He will be welcomed when He comes in power to deliver and to reign (Luke xiii. 35).

Who was upon Earth? — The Lord had determinedly refused the testimony of demons to Himself, true though it was (Luke iv. 35, 41). For how could the Holy One of God receive testimony from such creatures? Nor were men to be indebted for their knowledge about Him to that which a demon might declare. So Luke goes on to show Theophilus how truth as to His person was brought out. His acts and His words proclaimed, and that in a threefold manner, who He was, viz., the Creator, Jehovah, and the Son of Man.

The Creator. — Standing on the margin of the lake of Gennesaret, the crowd pressed on Him to hear the word of God. To speak to them the better, the Lord entered a little ship, as Luke, it seems, really wrote. The vessel was Simon Peter's, and the Lord asked him to thrust out a little from the land. And He sat down, and taught the people out of it. Of that which He said we have no record. What effect it produced on any of His hearers, Peter included, is equally enshrouded in mystery. Much that could have been recorded is thus passed over. A reporter might have handed down the text of the Lord's discourse. A word-painter might have delineated in a graphic manner the scene. But to neither, if any such were present, are we indebted for information about it. All that we know is, that the crowd was great, and the Lord to reach all took His seat in the boat and so taught them all on the shore. His address concluded, instead of landing, He told Peter to launch out into the deep, and to let down their nets for a draught. Now, Peter was a practical fisherman. They had toiled all night, and had taken nothing. No supply of fish had been near them. Nor were there any natural indications of a change for the better. None of them were thinking of trying again just then. But the word of Christ made Peter willing, as he answered, "Master, we have toiled all the night, and have taken nothing; nevertheless at Thy word I will let down the nets" (Luke v. 5). The nets let down, they enclosed a great multitude of fishes, and their nets brake. Toil without reward all the night, now the draught too great for their nets! Summoning their partners to help them, they filled both the vessels with the fish, so that they began to sink. Nets broken, and boats sinking under the weight of captured fish such was their experience, such the result of obedience to the Lord's word. What a surprise for them all! But for Peter it was more. He learnt who was in his boat, and a consciousness of his unfitness to be in the Divine presence at once impressed him. He had had the Lord under his roof, but no such feelings then took possession of him. Now, with Him in the boat, and surrounded with the fish, he was constrained to say, "Depart from me; for I am a sinful man, O Lord." One was there who had power over fishes, and had brought them to that part of the lake, where a short time before there appeared to be none. The Creator was in Peter's boat, and had brought that large supply to Peter's nets. Instinctively, like Job, and like Isaiah, Peter was occupied with himself, and owned his unfitness to be in the presence of God, and that not because of something wrong which he had done, but because of what he was — a sinful man. His state by nature he speaks of, not of his acts. By nature, man is unfit for the presence of God.

Important teaching here comes out. In such a case as Peter's, and not in his only, neither efforts, however persistent, nor resolutions, however earnestly made, nor subsequent devotedness can avail one; for none of these can effect any change in our nature. And what thus troubles the individual is what he is, not what he has done. A deeper question was then raised than men oftentimes think about, and raised, as we here see, without one word of conviction or of reproach being uttered by the Lord. How simply, and how effectually, can a man be convinced of what he is. As long as he thinks only of that which he has done, he may compare himself with others, and, as he may hope, to his own advantage. But learning that there is another question — viz., what he is as a child of Adam — he can take no comfort from any comparison with others. He is unfit for God. Now, to remove that unfitness, nothing that he can do can avail him. For he must be born again, and his evil nature must be dealt with judicially by God. Peter had been born again, and provision would be made on the cross to deal with his nature. That last, however, was then future; though we now can speak of it as past, seeing that God has condemned sin in the flesh by the cross, and our old man is crucified with Christ (Rom. vi. 6, viii. 3); and for our deliverance by-and-bye from its presence God has also provided. For "once in the end of the ages hath He (i.e. Christ) appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself" (Heb. ix. 26).

But that of which we have just spoken waited for the coming of the Holy Ghost to be declared. So the Lord did not anticipate it, though at once He set Peter at liberty before Him. "Fear not: from henceforth thou shalt catch men." Marvellous grace! The Lord would use such a one in His service, who had just learnt the truth about himself, that he was a sinful man; and henceforth to follow Christ in company with his brother Andrew, and with his partners James and John, the sons of Zebedee, was to be Peter's lot, and that without care for the future. The Creator, it had been manifested, was in that little boat. Now, if He could bring such a supply to Peter's nets, He could fully meet all Peter's future wants. That night of fruitless toil was succeeded by a day of rich blessing to Simon and his companions; and those hours of unrequited labour were a fitting preparation to make more plain who it was who had asked for a seat in that boat.

Jehovah. — From the lake to some city, name unknown, are we next conducted, to learn from the healing of a leper more about Him who had overcome the devil in the wilderness. Matthew, Mark, and Luke tell of this miracle, yet none of them has put on record where it was wrought, save that it was in Galilee. It was in a city, and not in the country, that a leper, full of leprosy, meeting Him fell on his face, and besought the Lord to heal him, saying, "Lord, if Thou wilt, Thou canst make me clean." Many works of healing had already been wrought (iv. 40). Would the Lord have compassion even on a leper full of leprosy? Of His power the poor sufferer was assured; His willingness was apparently the only thing which he questioned. At the feet of the Lord, in his misery and need, he was heard saying, "Lord, if Thou wilt," etc. All uncertainty, however, on that score was speedily removed. The Lord put forth His hand, and touched him, saying, "I will, be thou clean; and immediately," we read, "the leprosy departed from him." Who could thus speak "I will," etc., and carry out what he said? Only He who is God. The man now healed was told to go and show himself to the priest, and to offer the offerings appointed for his cleansing. The priest was to certify that he was healed. The offerings were for the God of Israel, in token that He had healed him. But who had done that? He who had said, "I will, be thou clean." Only the true God, the God of Israel, could heal. The Lord Jesus was, then, Jehovah, the God of Israel, of whose grace in healing the priest would be a witness.

Here it may be interesting to remember that the law of leprosy, whilst leaving room for healing, and laying down the ritual connected with the leper's cleansing, could give no illustration of such grace. In Lev. xiii. we see the leper outside the camp. In chap. xiv. we have the provision for his cleansing, if Jehovah had healed him. Now, let the reader put the incident given us in Luke between Lev. xiii. and xiv., and he will have the whole history of a leper before him. The law decreed his exclusion whilst unclean, and laid down what he was to do when healed ere he could return to the camp, and to his tent. But the grace displayed in healing was another matter. A lid, Miriam excepted, we read of no leper in Israel who could have made use of the ritual of Lev. xiv., till this man who was healed by the Lord. Fitting was it that we should read in the gospel of that exercise of divine grace, which permitted the law's provision to be carried out rejoicingly by the sufferer. The leper, charged to tell no one of his healing, forthwith went on his way to the priest, but could not keep the matter to himself (Mark i. 45). Who could blame him? The effect of his story was speedily apparent. The fame of the Lord, we learn, spread abroad, and great multitudes came to hear and to be healed of their infirmities. Consequently He withdrew into the deserts and prayed. A man, yet the God of Israel too, acting at one moment as God, and manifesting at another His dependence as man! He prayed.

The Son of Man. — Again in Capernaum, as Mark (ii. 1) tells us, that city designated by Matthew (ix. 1) as His own, the Lord was in a house, probably the one in which He abode, and was surrounded by Pharisees and doctors of the law, who were come out of every town of Galilee, and Judea, and Jerusalem. A representative company indeed this was of the religious part of the nation. And the power of the Lord (i.e. Jehovah) was present with Him to heal, for so we should probably understand the evangelist. Then, in a way unexpected by many, that power was manifested. The house full even to the door, (Mark ii. 2), four men bearing on a couch one sick of the palsy went up to the roof, uncovered it, and let the helpless patient down before the Lord. No word, that we read of, was spoken. It was a mute appeal, but an evidence of the faith of the bearers. For when He saw their faith, He said, "Man, thy sins are forgiven thee." The governmental dealing with the man was removed. His sins, because of which, we may conclude, he was afflicted, were forgiven. Healing, therefore, at once followed.

But those present from among the scribes and Pharisees began at once to reason, saying, "Who is this which speaketh blasphemies? Who can forgive sins, but God alone?" (Luke v. 21). True it is, God only can forgive sins. Who, however, was there? They knew not, what Peter had discovered, and what the cleansed leper had proved, that God was upon earth in the person of the One who had just spoken to the palsied man. And now of this the Lord would give them proof. It is God's prerogative to search hearts (Jer. xvii. 10). The Lord read theirs, and answered audibly, and before all, the unspoken questions of the doctors. For Mark (ii. 6-8) tells us that they had not ventured to utter what was passing within them. Now the Lord exposed it. "When Jesus perceived their thoughts (or, reasonings), He said unto them, What reason ye in your hearts? Whether is easier, to say, Thy sins be forgiven thee; or to say, Rise up and walk? But that ye may know that the Son of man hath power upon earth to forgive sins (He said unto the sick of the palsy), I say unto thee, Arise, and take up thy couch, and go unto thine house. And immediately he rose up before them, and took up that whereon he lay, and departed to his own house, glorifying God" (Luke v. 22-25). The man was healed. Full strength of body had returned to him. He carried that whereon he had lain, and left the house to go to his own, unaided by, because needing not, a friendly arm, though the services and united strength of four men had been required to place him in the presence of the Lord Jesus. No one could dispute what had been done — a proof indeed, if they would receive it, that the Lord had power (or, authority) on earth to forgive sins. He was, then, the Son of man. He asserted it. He gave proof of it. Dominion was to be His over all the works of God's hands. All things would be put under His feet. For that He waited, and still waits. But authority He possessed then to remove Divine governmental dealing. Moreover, He was God, and for the difficulty which the scribes and Pharisees had raised the Lord had provided the solution. "Who can forgive sins but God alone?" they had asked. He showed that He was God, for He read and answered the thoughts of their hearts. He proved that as Son of man, He had authority to forgive sins. The sign He gave came to pass before their eyes. The palsied man took up his bed and walked. That which a mere man could not do, the Lord had done. Objectors were silenced. The healed one glorified God. Onlookers were amazed; and they too glorified God, and filled with fear, exclaimed, "We have seen strange things to-day" (Luke v. 26). He who was Creator, Jehovah, and Son of man was walking about upon earth. And faith could lay hold of blessing, which He was willing to impart; for He was here in grace, whether that blessing was for the individual himself, like the leper, or for others like those who brought their friend to that house.

4. The Dawn of a New Day (Luke v. 27 — vi. 49)

If, then, the Creator, Jehovah, and Son of man, all in one Person, were seen upon earth, and this One tabernacling amongst men — and to Luke we are indebted for the unfolding of this in its fulness — a new day had dawned. That was evident. Jehovah, who had dwelt for centuries on the cherubim in the midst of His people, was now here as Son of man as well. That of course implied incarnation. He who was God and man in one Person was walking about in that small district of the earth — for He never ministered outside of it — assigned of old to His people Israel. The reader may remember that the northern boundary of the land was near the watershed of Syria, the entrance of Hamath (Num. xxxiv. 8), and that will be the northern boundary in the future (Ezek. xlviii. 1), though under Joshua the people never took possession of all of it. Within that small area the Lord Jesus Christ dwelt and laboured. A new day, in truth, had dawned upon earth, and the festive board, the cornfields, the synagogue, and the mountain side, each telling its tale witnessed of it. Would humanly devised social rules and traditions still have sway, or must they give place to thoughts, practices and teaching in consonance with the day just commencing? To this the evangelist next addresses himself.

The Feast in Levi's House. — From that house crammed full to the door, through the roof of which the palsied man had been let down at the feet of Jesus, the Lord, going forth, found Himself on the shore of the lake (Mark ii. 13), and passing along He saw a publican named Levi sitting at the receipt of custom. To him He addressed just two words, "Follow Me." Without delay, that tax-gatherer, as he was, obeyed, sacrificing income and future temporal prospects to follow the One who, how or when we know not, had evidently got hold of his heart. For, not content with surrendering a lucrative calling, he made for the Lord, as Luke tells us, a great feast in his house, inviting to it a great number of publicans and of others to sit down with Christ. Actions, it is said, speak louder than words. Surely no one could have more plainly and fully expressed what the Lord had become to him, than his honouring Him in this way, and affording thereby an opportunity for his friends and acquaintances to come within the sound of that teaching which had so powerfully acted upon himself.

The Lord's Mission. — The feast went on, no seat apparently unoccupied, for there was a great company which sat down; the joy, too, that had reigned was still uninterrupted. But now the Pharisees and their scribes murmured against the disciples, saying, "Why do ye eat and drink with the publicans and sinners?" Or, as Matthew himself relates it (ix. 11), "Why eateth your Master with the publicans and sinners?" Were these wretched cavillers to spoil the feast, and to damp the joy which the host surely proposed to himself, of letting all the invited guests hear words of power and blessing for their souls' profit? The Pharisees might look on and murmur. But in order that neither the disciples should be troubled by inability to answer the question, nor Matthew be disturbed by such an intrusion, the Lord at once took up the question, and closed the mouths of those murmurers. "They that are whole need not a physician; but they that are sick. I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance" (Luke v. 31, 32). Sinners they had spoken of. It was sinners that the Lord came to call to repentance. Did they raise their objection in support of their own social rules? Nobody had asked them to break them. Would they contend for their observance, and desire the Lord and His disciples to conform to them? A new day had dawned. Those who thought themselves righteous (xviii. 9) were like people in health, who did not need a physician. For such He had not come. No wonder they murmured! One must be a subject of grace to understand it. One must learn one's need of it to rejoice at it. Of all that they were ignorant. And they knew not the character of the times. God was calling sinners to repentance. Divine grace was at work. And Jehovah, the God of Israel, was there in the person of Jesus Christ. Humanly devised social rules may have to give way before the activity of grace. The Pharisees were silenced.

"A great feast" Matthew made the Lord. A greater the Lord made Matthew. Whatever might have been his feelings when he heard those wretched cavillers speak, how joy must have welled up from his heart when he heard such a gracious declaration uttered in the hearing of his friends and acquaintances. Publicans, aye and sinners, the Master did not turn from. Nay, He came to call such to repentance. He knew well their moral state yet their everlasting welfare was a concern to Him. Who declared that? One fitted to be classed with them? No. The very objection of the Pharisees was a confession that the Lord was morally above such people. His announcement showed He would not stand aloof from such. He would gather them in grace around Himself. The objection raised gave a fitting opportunity to declare His grace.

Fasting. — Another question, raised this time by the practice of John's disciples, conduced to further unfolding of the character of the times. The Lord Himself had been baptised of John in Jordan, and certainly some of His disciples as well. Why, then, did His disciples act so differently from the practice inculcated, it would appear, by John? Or, to express the point in the language of Luke, "The disciples of John fast often, and make prayers, and likewise the disciples of the Pharisees; but Thine eat and drink" (v. 33). This might have been with some a real difficulty. The Lord in His gracious way pointed out its solution. Who was present? Around whom were the disciples gathered? The answer to that would settle the matter. And, indeed, John's disciples might have learnt something of that, had they remembered the Baptist's declaration recorded in John iii. 29: "The friend of the bridegroom, which standeth and heareth him, rejoiceth greatly because of the bridegroom's voice." Joy should reign under such circumstances. So the Lord quietly answered them, "Can ye make the children [or, sons] of the bride-chamber fast while the bridegroom is with them? But the days will come,* when the bridegroom shall be taken away from them, then shall they fast in those days" (Luke v. 34, 35). Very probably His answer was intended to recall to mind the Baptist's testimony to Him. Now, if one like a bridegroom was present, fasting would not be in season.

{*"But the days will come; and when the bridegroom," etc. (so runs the R.V.). The reader must remember that the bridegroom is just a figure connected with the idea of rejoicing. There is no reference to the Lord's relation to the Church.}

And this the Lord further demonstrates by parabolic teaching, the better reading of which the Revised Version gives, so we quote it: "No man rendeth a piece from a new garment, and putteth it upon an old garment: else he will rend the new, and also the piece from the new will not agree with the old. And no man putteth new wine into old wine-skins; else the new wine will burst the skins, and itself will be spilled, and the skins will perish. But new wine must be put into fresh wine-skins. And no man having drunk old wine desireth new; for he saith the old is good"* (Luke v. 36-39). To impose fasting on His disciples, who were enjoying the fruit of His presence, and drinking in divine grace, would be like patching an old garment with a piece out of a new, the result being that both would be spoilt. A new time had commenced. Things must be done in character with that. Foolish, too, to put new wine into old wine-skins. As with the garments, so with the skins and wine, both would suffer loss. The joy of the disciples could not accommodate itself to old forms and practices. Nevertheless, till others had proved what that joy was, they would naturally be satisfied with practices to which they had been accustomed. For "no man having drunk old wine desireth new; for he saith, The old is good." The feelings of the Lord's disciples were in character with that which they were enjoying. What a change, then, had begun by His presence in ministry amongst men! All saw the effect on His disciples. They ate and drank. But, alas! all did not desire to participate in the joy flowing from grace, being satisfied still with former things.

{*"Good," not "better," the reading accepted by Tischendorf, Tregelles, Alford, Westcott and Hort, commends itself to one. "Better" might imply a comparison. "Good" only states that the person is satisfied with the old wine.}

Traditional Teaching about the Sabbath. — Now, in another manner, it was demonstrated that a new day had dawned upon men. For traditional teaching about the Sabbath urged by its champions is next brought before us, and condemned by the Lord as inimical to man's interest, and hostile to God's activity in grace. In the corn-fields the former was made plain; in the synagogue the latter was seen. Now nothing is there, which men naturally more resent, than that which militates against their traditions. In the gospel of John we learn how the Lord's healing of the impotent man on the Sabbath stirred up the animosity of the Jews, so as even, if it had been then possible, to kill Him (John v. 16, 18; vii. 1, 19-23). Now, the due observance of the Sabbath was binding upon all Israelites. That day of rest was a sign between God and Israel (Ezek. xx. 12); and it was meant for their blessing, a day of rest at the close of each week of toil. But, as is so often the case, traditional teaching grafted on truth, but not really subject to Divine revelation, militates against the object originally in view. So when the Lord and His disciples were walking through the corn-fields on the Sabbath day,* and the latter, because hungry, plucked the ears of corn and ate of them, rubbing them in their hands, certain of the Pharisees (we presume they were not hungry) saw that, and immediately said, "Why do ye that which is not lawful to do on the Sabbath days?" (Luke vi. 2). This assumed what had to be proved, that in acting thus the disciples broke the law. But what law? Where in the Pentateuch was such an enactment to be found? The Pharisees adduced no word of God in support of their contention. In truth, it was traditional teaching on which they were resting, unsupported by the law of God. How often has the same kind of thing been done! Traditional teaching, which God never authorised, is held to be binding on men, and is enforced with rigour. Now, for man's benefit was the Sabbath instituted. The Pharisees perverted God's beneficent institution, so as to make it inimical to man's interest. Did God mean people to starve because it was the Sabbath? The Lord too, elsewhere, reminded the Pharisees that the priests worked on the Sabbath, and an infant, to save it alive, would be circumcised on that day (Matt. xii. 5, John vii. 23). Works of necessity were not forbidden by the fourth commandment. Moreover, the Jews themselves would water their ox or their ass on that day, and would pull a sheep out of a pit on the Sabbath, if it had fallen into one (Luke xiii. 15, Matt. xii. 11). The spirit of the law, and their own practices, where their temporal interests were concerned, alike condemned their traditional teaching on the subject.

{*Most MSS., some Versions, and many textual critics, read as in the Authorised Version: "on the second Sabbath after the first," or lit., "second-first." It is an expression never occurring elsewhere, and has been explained as the Sabbath after the Passover Sabbath, the first therefore on which it was lawful to pluck the ears of corn and eat of them. See Lev. xxiii. 14.}

But how was it that the disciples were reduced to such straits as to appease their hunger in that way? The answer was a solemn one, and indicated something about the times. And the Lord, without directly stating it, indirectly intimated it. The Messiah was suffering rejection, and His disciples, because with Him, were in want. The Messiah, then, had come. Now, a parallel to such a state of things could in measure be cited. David, as the Lord's anointed, had been hungry whilst persecuted by Saul. He took, history tells us (1 Sam. xxi.) of the shewbread, and ate of it, though that was lawful only for the priests. Who condemned David for breaking the law? Who should condemn the disciples, who clearly had not? For Matthew tells us (xii. 7) that the Lord pronounced them guiltless. David's history, then, was sufficient to silence such objections. And the Word of God, when duly weighed, would teach them that of which Mark informs us, how the Lord declared that "The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath" (Mark ii. 27). Now the Son of Man was present, and He was Lord of the Sabbath (Luke vi. 5). He would not allow God's beneficent institution to be turned into a weapon inimical to His people's interests.

In the Synagogue. — Persistent in the maintenance of their traditions, the scribes and Pharisees watched the Lord on another Sabbath day, whether He would heal a man then present, who had a withered hand. They watched Him, to find an accusation against Him. But He knew their thoughts, little as they suspected that, and drawing the attention of all to the case, He bade the man rise up and stand forth in the midst. Obeying the word of command, he arose and stood forth. With that object of compassion before them all, the Lord put the question, to which they returned no answer: "Is it lawful on the Sabbath days to do good, or to do evil? to save life, or to destroy it?" Looking round about upon them all, but receiving no answer (yet who could forbid the doing good on that day?), He said, "Stretch forth thy hand. And he did so, and his hand was restored." But the opponents, "filled with madness, communed one with another what they might do to Jesus" (Luke vi. 7-11). To maintain their traditional teaching they would forbid God to act in mercy. Puny, wretched creatures would, if possible, restrain even the Almighty from acting beneficently to a creature in his need! The hold such teaching had got of the people is evidenced by the boldness with which its advocates upheld it. Truly a new day had dawned. Sinners were being called; joy was filling hearts which drank in of Divine grace. The Lord of the Sabbath was present; and traditional teaching was being corrected.

Independence of the Writers.— It is interesting here to compare the three synoptic gospels, and to observe particulars with which each of them furnish their readers. Matthew (xii.) tells us that the scribes and Pharisees first asked the Lord if it was lawful to heal on the Sabbath; and the same evangelist has recorded how the Lord first of all reminded them, in answer, of their readiness to rescue a sheep out of a pit on that day, and then added that a man was better than a sheep. Hence their own practice, it was shown, afforded an answer to their insidious question. Mark (iii.) tells how they held their peace, when the Lord questioned them; and also acquaints us with the feelings of the Lord at that moment. He looked round about on them with anger, being grieved for the hardness (or hardening) of their hearts. Luke (vi.) supplements what the others have told us with the statement that the Lord knew their thoughts. Each gives us something not met with elsewhere, and whilst thus manifesting his independence of the others, makes us feel our indebtedness to his labours.

The Twelve Chosen. — We have seen that the recognised teachers amongst the Jews refused to receive the Lord and His instruction, and if possible would have got rid of Him. Hence He now called the twelve, whom He named Apostles, to send them forth at a later time on their mission of preaching the good news of the kingdom. God's work was not to suffer because the scribes and Pharisees persistently opposed the prophet of whom Moses had written. The moment, therefore, had come for the selection of the twelve out of the company of His disciples (Luke vi. 13). Ere, however, doing that, He went into a mountain to pray, and continued all night in prayer to God. That night of prayer Luke only records. It was a moment of importance in the work given Him to do. For the choice of the twelve was the open declaration on the Lord's part of His rejection of the scribes as fitting teachers of the truth He had come to communicate. Sitting as they did in Moses' seat, whatever of the Mosaic legislation they taught, to that people were still to hearken (Matt. xxiii. 2, 3) but the privilege of preaching the good news of the kingdom, and of showing by works of miraculous power that a new dispensation was commencing, was to be entrusted to others. They had proved themselves unfit for such an honour. Of the twelve we then hear, Simon Peter as always heading the list, and Judas Iscariot closing it. In none of the synoptic gospels are they all mentioned quite in the same order. Matthew enumerated them in couples, indicating very probably how they went out to preach, for two and two were they sent forth by the Lord on their mission (Mark vi. 7); and with becoming modesty he mentions himself after his travelling companion Thomas, whilst both Mark (iii. 18), and Luke (vi. 15), agree in giving him the precedence.

Disciples Addressed.— The choice made of the Apostles, and openly declared, the Lord came down with them to a level place, and found Himself surrounded by a great multitude of disciples, and a great multitude of the people from all Judea and Jerusalem on the south, and from the seacoast of Tyre and Sidon on the north, which came to hear, and to be healed of their diseases. "And they that were vexed with unclean spirits were healed," for so we should read the eighteenth verse. "And the whole multitude sought to touch Him; for there went virtue out of Him, and healed them all" (vi. 17-19). The exact locality of this mountain no evangelist has described. Tradition points to one above the village of Hattin, called Kurn Hattin, i.e., Horns of Hattin, from its two peaks. It is situated near the southern end of the plain of Gennesaret.

To hear Him and to be healed the people had come. Healing is first noticed by the evangelist. "He healed them all" is the concise statement; no one went away with his disease on him. Each one who had need participated in the healing virtue which went forth from Christ. Now all, set free from preoccupation caused by bodily sickness in themselves or in others, might listen without distraction to the teaching of the Gospel, and teaching was needed. For, as the displays of miraculous power evidenced that God was working in a new way, it was necessary, and for disciples especially, to learn what they should be, and do. To that the Lord now addressed Himself, directing His teaching primarily to such, to acquaint them with that which they must expect in the world (20-26), showing too what their conduct should be towards others (27-40). After that self-judgment is inculcated (41-42); and the end both of the obedient and of the disobedient hearer is presented in figurative language.

Standing on a level place, and lifting up His eyes on His disciples, He commenced the address with announcements of blessing in store for some classes of men, and of woes in store for others. Very probably such utterances astounded many, so different from those to which they must have been accustomed. Necessarily different in one way, because till then, those now addressed as disciples had looked for blessing on earth under the reign of Messiah, their King. Was that expectation all a delusion, a chimera? Is there to be no personal reign of Christ on earth? He certainly will thus reign, and under His sway God's earthly people will rest in the quiet enjoyment of millennial happiness. Saints, however, in myriads will reign on high with Christ. For that people are now called out to dwell in heaven. So the Lord began to teach men about the heavenly calling (Heb. iii. 1).

Heavenly Calling. — Now, by this is meant that heaven, not earth, is to be their home, their dwelling-place, and when in it saints will enjoy their inheritance. Those thus called were to walk here in the consciousness of this. Hitherto Israel, like Abraham, etc., had been called with an earthly calling, their portion, their inheritance, being in the Land of Promise. So of Abraham we read, that he "was called to go out into a place which he should after receive for an inheritance" (Heb. xi. 8). An earthly calling was his, with however a heavenly hope, being assured that, if on earth he did not receive what had been promised him, he would be no loser. Hence "he looked for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God" (Heb. xi. 10). But Messiah having come to earth, and rejection by men being His lot, He began in His teaching to unfold that heaven, not earth, was to be the home of His faithful disciples (Luke vi. 23). He taught the heavenly calling. Suffering and trials here, saints may experience. These are not to discourage them. Beyond death is their portion, their home. The full barn and the congested storehouse were now to be no proofs of special Divine approval, nor any indication that everlasting woe might not be the portion of their owners. Now, this calling necessarily made the subjects of it pilgrims on earth. Such were like Israel of old in the wilderness, and on the way to their home and inheritance. Hence, as we see in Heb. iii., iv., they needed special encouragement, so the writer of that Epistle addresses them as "holy brethren, partakers of a heavenly calling" (Heb. iii. 1). Those of them who were of the race of Israel were started afresh on a wilderness career. So Peter reminds them (1 Peter i. 4) that their inheritance was in heaven. To Jews this was an immense change, effecting a revolution in their thoughts and expectations. And the Lord elsewhere tells the disciples how to act in harmony with it.

The Beatitudes. — Most important, then, was it, as all may readily see, to give disciples a right view of things, differing as that would so much from all they had been accustomed to hear about. So the Lord began with four beatitudes, followed by a corresponding number of woes. "Blessed are ye poor: for yours is the kingdom of God. Blessed are ye that hunger now: for ye shall be filled. Blessed are ye that weep now: for ye shall laugh. Blessed are ye, when men shall hate you, and when they shall separate you from their company, and shall reproach you, and cast out your name as evil, for the Son of man's sake. Rejoice ye in that day, and leap for joy: for behold your reward is great in heaven; for in the like manner [or, in the same manner] did their fathers unto the prophets" (Luke vi. 20-23). Poverty, hunger, sorrow, excommunication for the Son of man's sake, might be their lot on earth. Nevertheless, such were blessed. To the poor belonged the kingdom. Hunger and sorrow would one day be for them a condition only of the past. Their reward was great in heaven.

What encouragement was thus offered to faithful disciples! And to emphasise it, the contrast is brought out. Woe was pronounced on those who were rich and full, and laughed, and on those who were well spoken of by all men; "for so," added the Lord, "did their fathers to the false prophets" (vi. 26). Suffering here has ever been the lot of the true prophets. Popularity and general acceptance have been accorded to the false ones. The world was not changed. The devil had not altered. Men's hearts were as bad naturally as ever. Faithfulness to God would still entail trouble, and it might be persecution, on those whom it characterised. Would they be hated for the Son of man's sake? That only demonstrated whose they were. Hence they should rejoice. Now the Lord here furnishes them with an antidote to the sting of the trial by pointing them upward to heaven; for trial it certainly is for any to have their name unjustly cast out as evil. But He provided the antidote ere the disciples had begun to feel the sting.

Conduct of Disciples. — Not only did He do that, but He taught them likewise how to act towards their enemies when in such circumstances. If hated, they were to love and to do good to them. Cursed, they were to bless them. Despitefully used, they were to pray for them. Meekness and yieldingness to enemies was to characterise them; doing to others as they would be done by; remembering whose children they were, and manifesting by their behaviour the outflow of the Divine nature, that they were sons, as we should read, of the Highest, who is kind to the unthankful and to the evil* (vi. 35). "Be ye," adds the Lord, "merciful, as your Father also is merciful. And judge not, and ye shall not be judged; and condemn not, and ye shall not be condemned; forgive, and ye shall be forgiven: give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure pressed down, shaken together, running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same [or, with what] measure that ye mete withal, it shall be measured to you again."

{*It should be observed that the exhortation to "Give to every man that asketh of thee" (vi. 30), is introduced in connection with suited conduct to enemies; and has no reference to indiscriminate relief of beggars. It is introduced in the same connection in Matt. v. 42.}

How all this must have struck the attentive and thoughtful ones! It was new teaching. It was not righteousness in dealing with others, as the law allowed, but grace that was inculcated, and that under circumstances of the gravest provocation, even when hated, and cursed, and smitten. New, indeed, was the Lord's teaching, so different from that of the scribes; for He spoke of the Father as their Father, and told them how they could show they were His sons. He was there revealing the Father. Revealing, we have to say; for till the Son came, the Father as such was not revealed (Luke x. 22).

By parable and by simile the Lord continued to instruct them; intimating the unchangeableness of a nature, and the incorrigibleness of, our evil nature, and insisting on reality on the part of the disciples; and then concluded His address with a picture of the end of the man who hears His sayings and does them, contrasted with another — viz., that of the one who hears but does not do them.

The Prophet. — To hear His sayings and do them would be to build on a sure foundation. To hear them and to refuse obedience to them must land the individual in irrevocable disaster. His sayings (or more correctly, His words), He calls attention to. For He was the prophet foretold by Moses, to whom Israel were to hearken (Deut. xviii. 15-19). As such He addressed His hearers on that day. The people, hitherto shut up to the law given by Moses, were now to hearken to the prophet like unto Moses (Deut. xxxiv. 10). For God, Moses declared, would put His words into that one's mouth, and He would speak all that God should command Him. Blessing, then, henceforth depended on men hearkening unto Him. No wonder that people discerned a difference in Him, who taught, they said, as one who had authority, and not as their scribes (Matt. vii. 29)! The prophet He was, but more than a prophet, He was God, the Son of God. He spoke not like those of old, with a "Thus saith the Lord." He spoke indeed with authority, indicative that what He uttered was to be received as the voice of God speaking to them.

Matthew and Luke. — Reading this address given us by Luke, we are of course reminded of that which Matthew has recorded, but have to remark some differences. Portions of that which the latter set forth, Luke gives us in his own way later on (xi. 1-13; 33-36; xii. 22-31; xiii. 24-30). But what he does here give in common with Matthew attests the independence of the evangelists the one of the other; Luke clearly did not copy from Matthew, nor were they indebted to a common original account, for that which they recorded. Of beatitudes Luke, as remarked above, gives us only four. His brother evangelist presents us with nine. And Matthew gives a moral character to some of them, which is not found in our chapter in Luke. Poor in spirit, hungering and thirsting after righteousness, we read of in Matthew; whilst it is the poor and the hungry simply, that Luke tells us the Lord pronounced blessed. And he adds, what the son of Alphaeus wholly passes by, those four curses pronounced on classes of men satisfied with things here — classes just the opposite of those which the Lord, he declares, had pronounced blessed. Again Matthew gives us a much fuller exposition of the Lord's teaching in contrast to that to which the people had been hitherto accustomed, in which he prefaced the different points emphasised with the common formula, "Ye have heard that it was said," though adding at times, "to (rather than, by) them of old time" (Matt. v. 21, 27, 33, 38, 43). The dispensational character of Matthew's gospel may account for this. Noting these differences, we may note also how, in both evangelists, the need of reality on the part of disciples is insisted upon; and that fault-finding with others, which savours of hypocrisy, is sternly reproved.

The Kingdom. — We must now call attention to a subject mentioned in this address, which has great prominence in this gospel. We refer to the kingdom. Already, in chap. iv. 43, the Lord had declared that He must preach the kingdom of God to other cities, for therefore was He sent. In this address to the disciples He refers to this subject: "Blessed be ye poor: for yours is the kingdom of God" (vi. 20). The kingdom was theirs. They were heirs of it, so would inherit it (James ii. 5). Now the Jews, as natural children of Abraham, prided themselves on being sons of the kingdom, and hence they looked certainly to inherit it. That assumption the Lord by His teaching wholly rejected (Matt. viii. 12; xiii. 38); and being, as He is, the King, He was competent to deal with it. The Jews looked only for the kingdom in power upon earth, the kingdom to be restored to Israel under Messiah's sway. This we learn from the question asked by the Apostles on the day of our Lord's ascension (Acts i. 6), as well as from the remark of Luke prefatory to the parable of the pounds (xix. 11). David's kingdom on earth will certainly be restored, and the Lord is Israel's Messiah (Luke i. 32, 33). On that throne, however, He will sit alone. But of a wider range of dominion God's word speaks. There is the kingdom over earth, in which the heavenly saints will have part, the seat of which power will be in the heavenlies. There they will sit with Christ in His throne (Rev. ii. 27; iii. 21). To that kingdom Daniel referred (vii. 18, 22), though he was not commissioned to enlarge upon it. This was reserved for the Lord, the King (Col. i. 13) first to open up, and for New Testament teaching to set forth. All the heavenly saints will reign with Christ (Rev. xx. 4), and that for ever and ever (Dan. vii. 18; Rev. xxii. 5). We say saints, for to sit with Him in His throne we must be saints of God. Unconverted people He could not have reigning with Him. So to share in this privilege men must be born again (John iii. 5). And all those now born again will inherit the kingdom, whilst every unconverted Jew and Gentile must be excluded from that inheritance (Matt. viii. 12; 1 Cor. vi. 9, 10; Gal. v. 21; Eph. v. 5).

Entering into it. — As none, then, can by natural descent lay claim to a share in it, it is important to remember the stress laid in the Word on entering into it, for which it is needed to be born again. Of this the Lord first spoke in that memorable interview with Nicodemus (John iii. 5). In His subsequent teaching He frequently pressed the entering into it (Matt. v. 20; vii. 21; xviii. 3; xix. 23, 24; xxi. 31; Mark x. 23-25; Luke xviii. 24, 25). For to be in the kingdom, in the sense of being within the range of it, is one thing: to enter into it, and so to become an heir of it, is another. Out of the kingdom on earth, i.e., the earthly part of it, when the Son of man comes back in power, all things that offend will be gathered, and them that do iniquity, the angels being the instruments appointed for that work. All then gathered out will be cast into the furnace of fire, where shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth. On the other hand, the righteous shall shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father, i.e., the heavenly part of it (Matt. xiii. 41-43). Now the kingdom, the Lord announced as already existing in His lifetime upon earth (Luke xvii. 21); and a proof of it was the power, which He exercised during His ministry, in dealing with demons (Matt. xii. 28; Luke x. 9, 11; xi. 20); for till He began His ministry, the kingdom was not in existence on earth. Hence John the Baptist, His immediate forerunner, was not in it (Matt. xi. 11; Luke vii. 28), nor was the kingdom of God preached, till the Lord proclaimed it (Luke xvi. 16). He preached, too, the gospel, or glad tidings of the kingdom (Matt. iv. 23; ix. 35; Luke viii. 1) — a gospel which, first proclaimed by Him, though ceasing to be heard after His death, will be afresh proclaimed, and in all the world for a witness, ere He returns to reign (Matt. xxiv. 14) Now the kingdom is to be preached (Acts xx. 25; xxviii. 23, 31), and the gospel of the grace of God, the gospel of the kingdom being for the time in abeyance. The kingdom, we say, is now to be preached, for God is calling out by the word of His grace those who will help to people the throne of Christ.

We have dwelt a little on this subject, because carefulness in noticing the language of Scripture will well repay the student. The kingdom, we repeat (not the gospel of it), is now to be preached. Men are to hear that God has a kingdom on earth, though it be now in mystery, and is not outwardly displayed. Its present existence, however, should raise the question of the creature's responsibility. He should own it as in existence, the Word also telling how one may enter into it. The gospel of the kingdom is, on the other hand, connected with the presence of Messiah upon earth, as in the past; or with the near approach of His coming back to earth in the future. Hence these tidings remain in abeyance, till His return in power is the proximate hope of God's suffering saints.

The Kingdom of God and the Kingdom of Heaven. — Of the kingdom of God Luke writes, and both Mark and John likewise. But Matthew very generally writes of the kingdom of heaven (or rather the heavens, as he always calls it). Are these different kingdoms? some may ask. What is the difference? others may inquire. It is one and the same kingdom to which the four evangelists refer. And this is clear, when we observe that parables of the kingdom of the heavens in Matthew's gospel are termed by Mark and Luke parables of the kingdom of God. Compare Matt. xiii. 31-33, with Mark iv. 30-32, and Luke xiii. 18-21. What, then, do these different designations import? By the kingdom of God, we understand to whom it belongs. By the kingdom of the heavens we are to understand that the government of it is exercised from the heavens. It is the rule of the heavens over earth. Hence, for that state of things to be in existence, the King must be in the heavens. Now, the Lord is the King. So, whilst He was on earth, the character of things indicated by the phrase "the kingdom of the heavens" had not begun to exist. The term is a dispensational one. The kingdom of God, as we have pointed out, was in existence when He was here, a proof of which was His power to cast out demons (Matt. xii. 28). We refer to Matthew in support of this last statement, because the change of term in his gospel in that passage, which speaks of the kingdom of God, shows that there were occasions when the dispensational term — kingdom of the heavens was out of place. See also Matt. vi. 33, xxi. 31, 43, in confirmation of this; who changes his term, be it observed, in these places to kingdom of God, because he was writing of that which was actually true in the lifetime of the Lord Jesus. To enter more into this subject at present would hardly be in place. In a chapter by itself, therefore, near the close of this volume, this subject will be treated of more fully.

The Kingdom of God (Luke vii. — ix.).

5. The Kingdom — Blessings Connected with it (Luke vii.)

The kingdom of God was, upon earth, a new thing indeed. Consequent on this, the historian proceeds to treat of that subject at some length (vii. — ix.). And first he directs the attention of Theophilus to blessings which can be enjoyed in connection with the kingdom (vii.). The fruits of sin, whether sickness or death, could be removed, and sins be forgiven, in harmony with Psalm ciii. 3, which will be sung on a coming day, "Who forgiveth all thine iniquities; who healeth all thy diseases." Then, too, the bright forecast of the evangelical prophet concerning Jerusalem will be fulfilled, "The inhabitant shall not say, I am sick; the people that dwell therein shall be forgiven their iniquity" (Isa. xxxiii. 24).

The Centurion of Capernaum. — In the gospel by Matthew (viii. 5-13), we have an account of this man personally entreating* the Lord on behalf of his servant, of which probably that evangelist was an eye-witness. Luke, however, tells us how he first made known his desire. He sent the elders to Jesus, beseeching the Lord to come and heal (or, save) his servant, whose death appeared to be imminent. The petitioner entrusted his cause to willing pleaders, for they besought the Lord instantly, saying, "He is worthy for whom Thou shouldest do this, for he loveth our nation, and he hath built us a [rather, the] synagogue" (Luke vii. 4, 5). The synagogue. It would seem there was but one, the one in which the Lord had already displayed His power (iv. 33), and in which He so often taught.

{*Looking at Matthew's account, and considering the answer by the Lord to the centurion's petition, which he alone records, "Go thy way; as thou hast believed, so be it done unto thee (Matt. viii. 13), it seems clear that he had gone himself after all to meet Him, having first sent his friends. Luke tells us of the elders, then of his friends, speaking on his behalf; Matthew, only of his personal entreaty. Luke has not recorded, it should be observed, the Lord's reply to the faith he manifested. It would not, we may see, have been in character to do that, seeing he did not mention the centurion's personal entreaty, to whom the answer was directly vouchsafed. The words of his friends the centurion repeated. This need not be wondered at. It is perfectly natural. But, till he himself had met the Lord, it would seem that the words "Verily I say," etc. (viii. 10), were not uttered. Matthew intimates that they were spoken to the crowd consequent on the centurion's own petition. Luke's account leaves room for that, as he writes, "when Jesus had heard these things," language which may without difficulty embrace both the words of the friends and those of the centurion. Luke made no mistake. He told part of the story, Matthew records the rest.}

Without delay the Lord went towards the house. Ere reaching it, He met another deputation, this time friends of the centurion, sent to deprecate His journeying thither. The elders had based their request on that which the centurion had done. The centurion, speaking first by his friends, as Luke tells us, and subsequently when in person he went to meet the Lord, makes mention of his unworthiness to receive such a one as the Lord under his roof. He intimated, too, his faith in the power of Christ to heal by His word. To say the word was all that was needed. Faith was in exercise. He believed in the Lord's power to heal. Nor was he disappointed. Such great faith the Lord had not found in Israel. This man, Gentile though he was by birth, had faith. So the desire of his heart was granted. For they that were sent, returning to the house, found the servant whole. How his faith had grown! At first, counting on the Lord's power, he had asked Him to come. Then, reflecting doubtless that for the exercise of power the Lord's presence was not needed, and conscious too that he was not one of the favoured race, he owned himself unworthy to receive such a guest, and was satisfied to rely on the word of power. Nothing more was needed. His desire was granted. His servant was healed.

The Widow of Nain. — But not only could sickness be healed, recovery from death could take place as well. Of this we next learn in that touching account of the raising of the widow's son, related only in this gospel. On the next day after healing the centurion's servant, according to some authorities, or shortly afterwards according to others, the Lord went to a city called Nain, which lay a good deal south of Capernaum. His disciples went with Him, and a great company. Drawing nigh to the gate of it, He and those with Him were confronted by a great company coming out. The Lord of Life was entering in. One in death was being carried out to burial — the only son of his mother, and she a widow. All hope of that son's recovery, who very likely had been her stay and support, had been extinguished in her heart. Death had claimed him, and burial must follow. Now the two companies met. No one had previously entreated the Lord on her behalf. No one with her had accosted Him to attract His attention, or to explain the distressing circumstances. Nor did she herself speak. "When the Lord," we read, "saw her, He had compassion on her." All was known to Him. He was not indifferent to that widow's bereavement. Power He could indeed put forth, the power of resurrection. Ere, however, doing that, He evidenced His tender pity. "Weep not," were the first words that He uttered. He spake them to the widow. Then advancing He touched the bier, and they that bare the corpse stood still. Again His voice was heard, as He addressed the dead. That voice, by which all that are in the graves will some day be awakened, was directed to the dead. "Young man, I say unto thee, Arise." He had previously spoken to the mother; He had now also spoken to the son.

What effect His words had on her we are not told; what effect the word of command had on the son we learn: "He that was dead sat up." Life had returned to the frame, and he began to speak. It was not a galvanised corpse; it was a living man. But, not content with displaying power, the Lord thought of the widow, for He delivered the son to his mother. He saw her. He had compassion on her. He comforted her. He touched the bier. He commanded the young man to arise. He gave him to his mother. Such are the successive steps in this most interesting story. Henceforth, Nain stands out on the page of history; a little place, probably with no previous eventful record to make it famous, its name will never be forgotten, nor has the site of the village ceased to be known.

We have spoken of resurrection. It was that in one way, but very different to the resurrection we look for if we die. The son was brought back to earth. Saints who die pass out of the grave never to return to it. The man's resurrection was a sample, somewhat, of that of the nation by-and-bye, of which Ezekiel (xxxvii.) and Daniel (xii. 2) have written,* and will be enjoyed when the kingdom is established in power.

{*Typical teaching would bear this out. But into that we will not here enter.}

Was this the first occasion on which a dead person was by the Lord restored to life? We read of no instance earlier, and the impression made by it would quite accord with such a supposition. "There came a fear," wrote Luke, "upon all: and they glorified God, saying, That a great prophet is risen up among us; and, That God hath visited His people" (vii. 16). Great prophets, as Elijah and Elisha, restored dead ones to life. They had prayed about it, and their prayers were answered. He who was walking about among men was not inferior to them, for He could command where they did not: a great prophet then He must be, at whose word death relaxed its grasp. "God had visited His people." The prophetic words of Zacharias were in process of fulfilment: "He hath visited and redeemed His people, and hath raised up an horn of salvation for us, in the house of His servant David" (i. 68, 69). So spoke the aged priest. "God hath visited His people" was, as it were, the response of the multitude at the gate of the city of Nain. But the report of the Lord's miracle reached beyond the bounds of Galilee. "This rumour of Him went forth throughout all Judea, and throughout all the region round about." And John the Baptist, in his prison in the castle of Machaerus, on the eastern shore of the Dead Sea, heard of it through the instrumentality of his disciples.

The Baptist's Message. — John had been cast in prison by Herod Antipas, the Tetrarch of Galilee, for reproving him in the matter of his brother Philip's wife, and for all the evils that he had done (Luke iii. 19); yet no deliverance had been wrought for him by the Lord, whose power over death had just lately been manifested. Was He really the Christ? John sends to ask — pondering, it may have been, in the solitude of his prison, over what seemed so strange, that His forerunner, if Jesus was the Christ, should be allowed to languish in the fortress of Machaerus. Clear had been the Baptist's testimony to the Lord at Bethany* beyond Jordan (John i. 21-34). He had seen the Holy Spirit descending on Him, and remaining on Him. He had borne witness in consequence that He was the Son of God, and had proclaimed Him as the Lamb of God. He had known, too, that he himself was the forerunner of the Christ. But now a cloud had come over what had once seemed so clear and distinct, — an earthborn cloud it was, — and the Baptist questioned within himself, whether the person to whom he had borne witness was indeed the One who should come, the theme of prophecy. For evidently (and the Lord's answer makes it perfectly plain), John sent two of his disciples on his own behalf, and not merely on theirs. His faith was wavering, not understanding why he should be apparently forgotten, and should experience cold neglect at the hand of the One to whom he had formerly borne witness. "Art thou He that should come? or look we for another?" (Luke vii. 19).

{*Bethany, not Bethabara, is the true reading.}

The question thus plainly put was as definitely answered, the answer betokening real wisdom; for the Lord pointed to His miraculous works in proof that He was the Christ, and thus would settle John's faith in Him by the word of God. The Baptist's messengers arrived at an opportune moment, for in that same hour He cured many of their infirmities and plagues, and of evil spirits; and unto many that were blind He gave sight. And answering, He said unto them, "Go your way, and tell John what things ye have seen and heard: how that the blind see, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, to the poor the gospel is preached. And blessed is he whosoever shall not be offended (or, shall find none occasion of stumbling) in me." The Baptist was evidently acquainted with the prophet Isaiah. The answer to the priests and Levites, sent from Jerusalem to ask who he was, proves that. Compare John i. 23 with Isa. xl. 3. To that same prophet's testimony the Lord turned him for the answer to his question, as He called the attention of the messengers to the proofs of His Messiahship (Isa. xxxv. 5, 6; lxi. 1). Wise indeed was this way of answering. John knew the prophetic word. What his disciples, then, would tell him they had heard and seen, was proof that the Christ was there, and that Jesus was the Messiah. What they had heard and seen, they were to tell John. They saw miracles of healing performed before their eyes, and they had heard of the dead being raised. The Christ of God was certainly upon earth. His miracles proclaimed it, for such were powers of the coming age (Heb. vi. 5): samples of blessings to be enjoyed when He reigns in power. The answer to John's question was clear. Faith, however, was required to be in exercise, for the kingdom in power was still in the womb of the future. The King was there, but the truth of the King present in humiliation was as yet unlearnt by men. So the Lord added, "Blessed is he, whosoever shall not be offended in me" (Luke vii. 23). Slow indeed are we all to learn.

Testimony to John. — The Baptist's messengers returned to their master. They had faithfully carried to the Lord their message. We cannot doubt that they as faithfully reported to John the answer. But they brought him no word of coming deliverance from the power of Herod. Was he neglected by the Lord — a vessel formerly used, and then flung aside when his work was done, without care or thought for him? How often have men acted in this way towards their servants! Not thus does the Lord: He never forgets His servants, though suffering for Him may be their lot. So now to the multitude He bears testimony in favour of His imprisoned forerunner, and by consequence proclaimed who He was Himself. Who was John, He asked, to whom multitudes had gone out? A reed shaken by the wind? John had not been carried about with every wind of doctrine, yielding to superior power, like a reed before the wind. He had not been clothed in soft raiment. No gorgeous apparel to attract the eye of the populace adorned his person. What was he? A prophet? Yes, and more than a prophet. For he was the predicted immediate forerunner of the Lord, the one of whom Malachi (iii. 1) had written. Great, then, was John. Of none born of woman was there a greater. Yet the least (rather, the lesser one) in the kingdom of God was greater than he (vii. 28).

The Lord then takes occasion to tell them of the privilege of being in the kingdom. John, on earth, never was in it. He preceded the King. We shall find him in the kingdom on high, but on earth he was never in it. He was never reckoned among the followers of the King. What a privilege it must be, to be in the kingdom in truth! The lesser one in that is greater, dispensationally speaking, than John the Baptist. Now the Lord would rouse people up, and if possible make them alive to the privileges they might enjoy; and for that used the occasion when speaking about John to draw the distinction between that wonderful man as he was, and any in the kingdom of God while here below.

For the kingdom was upon earth, and to be in it on earth in truth (for of true believers is the Lord, we conceive, here speaking) is a greater thing than to have even immediately preceded it. Would any have been ready to depreciate John? Time-servers might be willing to do that. His day of popularity was over. He was a prisoner. Often has it been seen that one, lauded up to the skies whilst the centre of attraction, has been trampled under foot by the fickle populace when the tide has turned against him. Would any, then, think little of John? Such evidently were not in the current of God's thoughts about him. Thus the Lord, who had to rebuke him, at the same time vindicates him. And what He did for John, He will do for every one who now faithfully confesses him (Matt. x. 32 Rev. iii. 9).

The Men of that Generation. — John, then, was the messenger of Jehovah, to whom all should have hearkened. Had that been the case? The historian tells us that the common people and the publicans justified God, in being baptised of John. They justified God, it is said, for they owned, by submitting to John's baptism, the rightness of God's way of dealing in their day. The Pharisees and the lawyers rejected the counsel of God against (rather, for) themselves, being not baptised of him. Was that all? No. The Lord Himself was rejected by the same classes. Hence He proceeded to liken those of that time to children sitting in the market place, and calling to their fellows, whom nothing would satisfy. If they piped to them, they danced not. If they mourned, they wept not. Nothing was right, or in character, in their eyes. John was for the Pharisees and lawyers too strict, and the Lord too free. Has that generation become extinct? But wisdom is justified of all her children. John called to repentance. The Lord ministered grace. Souls had found both ministries to be seasonable, and gratefully profited by them.

Sins forgiven. — The existence of the kingdom dated, as we have seen, from a time subsequent to John the Baptist's ministry. Of blessings connected with it, viz., recovery from sickness and from death, we have read, both sickness and death being fruits of sin. Now we are to learn of another blessing connected with it, viz., plenary forgiveness of sins, and that apart from the removal of governmental dealing, of which the palsied man of chapter v. was an example. For this we are now taken to the house of a Pharisee, named Simon, who had invited the Lord to eat with him. The Lord accepted the invitation; but Simon, whilst outwardly honouring Him by entertaining Him, did not think Him worthy of those customary proofs of courtesy — the kiss, the feet-washing, and the anointing. The Lord in humiliation was of little account in Simon's eyes. But wisdom is indeed justified of her children. For there entered the house a woman, who probably had never before crossed its threshold, and who went behind the Lord, and weeping began to wash His feet with tears, and did wipe them with the hairs of her head, and kissed His feet, and anointed them with ointment. The Lord allowed all this, nay, He accepted it, Simon the Pharisee looking on, and forming a judgment of his guest adverse to His being a prophet.

No word was uttered by the host in protest against the action of that woman. One only perhaps knew what was passing in the Pharisee's mind. To the woman the Lord had as yet said nothing: no word of recognition had passed His lips. Her service He had received, and continued to receive, without any inquiry as to the reason of it. A convincing proof, thought Simon, that He was no prophet. Could He have allowed such a one to touch Him, if He knew, as well as Simon did, her character and life? To Simon's surprise, doubtless, the Lord addressed His host: "Simon, I have somewhat to say unto thee." "Master (i.e. teacher), say on," was the quick reply; little thinking, we may be sure, that the parable about to be spoken, and the application of it that would follow, would answer the questioning of his heart, and demonstrate that the Lord was indeed a prophet, who could read Simon's heart, and was more fully acquainted with that woman than any one of the company.

Two debtors, so ran the parable, there were, of one creditor; one owed five hundred pence, the other but a tenth of that sum, but both were hopelessly insolvent. Having nothing to pay, the creditor frankly forgave them. Which, then, asked the Lord, would love the creditor most? "I suppose," replied Simon, "that he to whom he forgave most." Rightly had he answered. Now for the application. The woman was indeed a great sinner, and well known as such in the place. But Christ was a Saviour, and grace had reached her and attracted her to Him. How or when we know not. All that we do know, all that we need to know, is that it had then acted on her, and that the Lord did not spurn her. Why had she come there? Because she was forgiven. Why had He received her ministrations? Because she was a subject of Divine grace. What was her attraction inside that house? The presence of the Saviour. And those proofs of courtesy, withheld by Simon, were given by her, and graciously received. Little was the Lord to Simon. How much was the Lord to her! It was the offering of a willing, thankful heart that she rendered, and He accepted. And still addressing Simon, now reproved for his remissness, the Lord added: "Wherefore I say unto thee, Her sins, which are many, are forgiven for she loved much: but to whom little is forgiven, the same loveth little" (vii. 47). Love to Christ in a sinner's heart is engendered by grace shared in, forgiveness received. How was it seen that she was forgiven? She loved much, and had displayed it. That was the proof, as the last clause makes plain: "To whom little is forgiven, the same loveth little." She was not forgiven because she loved: she loved because she was forgiven. How slow are men to learn this simple truth! And now, addressing her for the first time, she heard, and all heard, what the Lord said: "Thy sins are forgiven." He had first said it of her to Simon. He said it now directly to herself. She was forgiven ere she washed His feet, and before He declared it.

Of one, and one only in that house, was that blessed announcement then made. Simon heard it, but it was not spoken of him. The company heard it, but it was not affirmed of them. The notorious sinner heard it, and knew it was spoken of her, and to her. The vilest sinner in that house, as men count vileness, was the favoured one of all that company. The gracious announcement raised the question in many a heart, "Who is this that forgiveth sins also?" But none apparently, who thus mused, desired that blessing for themselves. The sense of need must be created, ere the individual is willing to receive forgiveness. And now, was any doubt to linger in that woman's heart? The Lord again addressed her. His last word was to her. He dismissed her, but not in discouragement nor in uncertainty: "Thy faith hath saved thee: go in peace." Wisdom is justified of her children. She was a child of wisdom. The Lord's humiliation and His gracious ways were no stumbling-block to her. A friend of sinners He was, and that just suited her. Plenary forgiveness was hers, and will be the blessing of every one who has really entered the kingdom.

We pass on now from blessings connected with the kingdom to a study of some of its characteristic features.

6. The Kingdom — Characteristic Features of it (Luke 8)

The Lord had already begun the work of evangelising (Luke iv. 43, 44). Now, in company with the twelve, called out as we have seen in chapter vi., He went forth through cities and villages, preaching, and showing the glad tidings of the kingdom of God. The Apostles, who were shortly to be sent to preach, could thus first learn how the Master handled the theme of those glad tidings, a theme, till He handled it, never before dealt with upon earth. Villages on this occasion were to be evangelised as well as cities. The good news was not to be confined to places where there were synagogues. At first (Matt. iv. 23; Mark i. 39; Luke iv. 44) the Lord preached in synagogues. But He would extend the sphere of His labours to reach people, if possible, wherever they might be. It was the King proclaiming the kingdom. But what king had ever been called to do that, but Himself? He was the King, though in humiliation. And whilst Lord of all, and upholding all things by the word of His power, He was yet ministered to by certain women, some apparently of substance, who had been healed by Him of evil spirits and infirmities. The names of three are given us: Mary Magdalene, from whom seven demons had gone out; Joanna, the wife of Chuza, Herod's steward; and Susanna; and many others to us unknown. These ministered to them (i.e. the Lord and the twelve), as the better reading gives it. Woman's sphere of influence is not to be despised. In personal ministry she finds a place, and an honourable place, and one more suited for women than for men. The Lord sanctioned such service, and accepted it likewise. Of their substance they gave to Him and to the twelve. The three named were all doubtless women of note, or of station. Joanna is mentioned again (Luke xxiv. 10). Susanna appears nowhere else. Mary Magdalene had the distinguished honour of bearing a message from the risen Saviour to His brethren.

In accordance with his plan of unfolding his subject, our evangelist proceeds to give certain characteristic features of the kingdom: how it can be advanced, who can be workers for Christ, and the efficacy of faith. On these features he will dwell, noticing however others as well.

The Parable of the Sower. — First, then, we are taught how the kingdom can be advanced. The means for that were to men wholly new. By the sword kingdoms on earth have been extended and consolidated. By the word of God the kingdom of God was to be advanced amongst men. In perfect harmony with that, the Lord appeared as a preacher, and we may with reverence say, an itinerant preacher. People had to be met, and sought too, if the kingdom of God was to spread. The Master then set an example, which was followed years after by the great Apostle of the Gentiles and others. And the history of the Church will confirm the remark that, at different epochs down to the present day, preaching, and that of an itinerant kind, has been largely used, and blessed by God.

Now another thing comes out, illustrated by the parable of the sower — viz., the instrumentality which is to be used, or, to speak in parabolic language, the seed which is to be sown. It is, we learn, the word of God. The Lord, in the parable, presents Himself in the character of a sower. By this two things were indicated. First, that in the field which was to be sown there was previously no crop; and, secondly, that God desired by His word to minister blessing to men. A new departure in the ways of God was therefore taking place. Man in himself, and that as proved in Israel, the favoured nation, was utterly bad, and did not bring forth fruit for God. In the field, which is the world (Matt. xiii. 38), there was no good seed. It must be sown. That the Lord was doing as He itinerated through the country, for the seed, we are taught, is the word of God (Luke viii. 11). Good seed then it was, and it had full germinating power. To get, however, a crop, the soil, etc., must be taken into account, as well as the germinating power of the seed. A farmer knows well that, to ensure a good crop, it is not sufficient to be careful about the seed. Faultless pedigree seed, to speak in the language of the day, may fail in producing a good yield, owing to the untowardness of the circumstances in which it is placed. As in natural things, so much more in spiritual things: many causes there may be why a crop is not brought to perfection. So, when the Lord was sowing the seed, much of it never came to maturity.

The reason of this He explained to the disciples when they asked Him; for to them was it given to know the mysteries of the kingdom of God (viii. 10). He spake in parables to test people. Those who desired to understand could come and ask. And on this occasion Mark (iv. 10) tells us that His questioners were not confined to the twelve. They that were about Him with the twelve asked of Him the explanation. Now, on four kinds of ground did the seed fall — by the wayside, on the rock, amidst thorns, and into good ground. What fell on the last was alone fruitful. How well the Lord knew men (John ii. 25), and what the result of His labours would be! How often have disciples gone forth to sow, over-sanguine as to results — conscious, (and that, of course, is right) of the power of the Word, but forgetful of the hindrance it may meet with in men. Then discouragement is apt to take possession of them. They have failed to profit by the parable.

The Parable Explained. — In response to the request of those who asked Him, the Lord gave the interpretation. The seed sown indicates the responsibility of the different classes. For all, we are informed, had heard the word. All, therefore, were responsible for their treatment of it. From the first-named class — the wayside hearers — the seed was soon taken. The devil, the prince of the powers of the air, represented in the parable by the birds of the air, took away the word out of their hearts, lest they should believe, and be saved. How watchful he is, like a bird of the air! It should, however, be remarked that he takes away what has been sown in their hearts. And he only does that, as Matthew, who was present, states (xiii. 19), when any one understands it not. The devil cannot prevent them hearing the word — a solemn thought surely for all such. The second class, those on the rock, are those who, when they hear, receive the word with joy; but having no root in themselves, though for a while they believe, yet in time of temptation they fall away. But some may ask, Does not the Gospel minister joy? It does, it should, when presented to an already exercised conscience. The ploughing of the conscience, however — a needed work if real blessing is to be enjoyed — is no joyous matter. Convicting a person of sin does not make that one rejoice. Now, where conscience work has not gone on, the receiving the word with joy is by no means a healthy sign. People of this class have no real stability. They fall away in time of temptation. Conscience has never been reached. The third class are those (how many, alas! compose it) who after hearing go forth on their way but are choked with cares and riches and pleasures of this life, and so bring no fruit to perfection. Lastly, we come to the fourth, class — those who in an honest and good heart, having heard the word, keep it, and bring forth fruit with patience. How much seed was sown! How little came to perfection! If the Lord could experience that in His personal service, what may the servant not expect?

All then heard the word, but all were not fruitful. And now, to get the full instruction of this parable, we must keep before us what is presented by the three evangelists who have recorded it. In Matthew the fruitful ones hear and understand. In Mark they hear and receive. In Luke they hear and keep. To understand, to receive, and to keep are all requisite, to be a fruit-bearing hearer of the Word of God.

As far as we have gone we are taught, that one characteristic feature of the kingdom is the way it is advanced. A unique way we may say, and one never before heard of or thought of. The kingdom of God was to make way in a hostile world, by the word of God.

A Warning. — To the multitude, the Lord spoke in parables. To disciples, He had explained what He had set forth. He added a word of warning — needed indeed, as the interpretation of the parable of the sower makes clear. For since the four classes of people described are all hearers of the word, and thus must be held responsible for that which they have heard, though so few really hear to profit, a seasonable word follows (Luke viii. 16-18), pointing out the use of a light, which disciples (Matt. v. 14) were to be in the world, and the need of the careful hearing of Divine teaching, to profit by the same. A lighted candle is for our use in a house, and not to be covered with a vessel, or put under a bed. All understand that. Now the disciples were receiving instruction which was intended to fit them for service. To conceal it would never do. A day is coming when all that has been concealed will be uncovered. A privilege, indeed, had the disciples, but with a corresponding responsibility. Hence the warning, "Take heed how ye hear." Let none of them hear like the first three classes. Gain there would be for those hearing to profit; loss for those who did not. To the former more would be given; the latter would be deprived of that which they thought they had, having never really made their own, and so possessed, that which they thought they knew.

Ties, Natural and Spiritual. — An incident is next related, common indeed to the gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke; but introduced in the last in a connection different from that in which it really took place, though in perfect character with the moral order of the gospel to which we are seeking to direct the reader's attention. Both the first-named evangelists introduce it as preceding the parable of the sower, though Matthew tells us (xiii. 1) that it happened on the same day. Turning to Mark (iii. 21), we learn that the popular movement set on foot by the Lord's teaching had aroused His friends to attempt to lay hold of Him, affirming that He was beside Himself. Unsuccessful in their endeavours, His mother, it would seem, and His brothers, if not also His sisters,* sought to stop Him, by asking for an interview with Him. Natural relationship was put forward to hinder the work which was going on. It was surely a snare artfully laid by the enemy. The Lord refused that interference; and, as is so often the case, God triumphantly overruled the mistaken act of His mother and brethren, to bring out the light in which the Lord would regard all those who did the will of God. "My mother, and my brethren are these, which hear the word of God and do it." Such are born of God, and He would own them as in the closest of ties (Psalm xxii. 22; Heb. ii. 12, 17). Natural ties are not to be disowned. The Lord, when hanging on the cross, provided a home for His mother. There are, however, spiritual ties as well. And those who have entered the kingdom have part in them. The mistake of His brethren was manifest. The answer it elicited has ministered joy surely to many a one then, and since.

{*So Scholz, Lachmann, and Tischendorf with some uncials read, "and thy sisters" (Mark iii. 32). Alford gives it in his text, but in brackets. Westcott and Hort notice it in their margin, and Tregelles rejects it. The Revised Version does not notice it.}

The Storm on the Lake. — Closely following that gracious announcement — for Mark tells that it was on the same day, though in the evening of it — the Lord embarked with His disciples to cross the lake. A new experience now awaited the latter. A storm arose, the vessel was filling with water, and they were in jeopardy, but He was asleep. His presence, then, with them did not ensure a calm passage. But His power could convert the storm into a calm, which was better. How often since have disciples experienced that following Christ does not ensure them against storms and troubles! He, however, who stilleth the noise of the seas, can still the tumult of the people (Psalm lxv. 7). Waking Him, in their terror they said, "Master, Master, we perish!" That could not be, with Christ in their midst. Death had no power, in the presence of Him, in whom is life (John i. 4). "He awoke [rather than, arose], and rebuked the wind, and the raging of the waters; and they ceased, and there was a calm" (viii. 24). The King of God's kingdom was the Creator and Controller of the elements. Two words from Him proved it: "Peace, be still." So writes Mark (iv. 39), to whom we are indebted for a knowledge of what it was that the Lord actually said. He rebuked the sea, but He also rebuked the disciples,* saying, "Where is your faith?" And surely not to them only has He had need to put such a question.

{*According to Matthew, who was certainly in the boat, the Lord first rebuked the disciples. Their fears were to be allayed ere the storm ceased, Teaching for disciples this surely is.}

At the time, perhaps, it was very mysterious to them that such a storm arose. But reviewing the whole matter afterwards, they must have seen the reason of it. The enemy would put every difficulty in the way of man's blessing, and his deliverance from demoniacal thraldom. His power in Gadara, as the sequel shows, was great. No wonder that the storm arose, when the Lord crossed over to it. No wonder is it still, if storms arise to hinder, if possible, the advancement of God's work upon earth. The kingdom will not be advanced only in fine weather; and it may be that, when the storm seems most violent, blessing is near at hand. If we count on the presence of Christ (Matt. xxviii. 20), as He has promised, we need not fear. Opposition there will be. It may be great. In the end the Lord will triumph. That lesson for the disciples is one too for all who would further the interests of God's kingdom upon earth. But, as was the case with them, one may not always understand at the moment the reason of the storm. Time may be needed for that, whilst faith in the midst of it is to be in exercise.

A Demoniac. — Arrived at the country of the Gerasenes,* which was over against Galilee, there met the Lord on His disembarkment one out of the city who had demons. Afflicted as he had been for a long time, his case seemed hopeless; and as the prey of those demons, he wore no clothes, and dwelt in the tombs. A pitiable object indeed! When rulers, or great people visit a place, crowds assemble to see them and to welcome them. The Son of the Most High God set His foot on shore among the Gerasenes, and but two people, and those demoniacs, as Matthew states (viii. 28), came to meet Him! Was He to be there unrecognised? They at once proclaimed Him as the Son of God, whose power over demons was absolute. The power demons could have over men was patent. Those two poor sufferers displayed it. And the length of time that they had been possessed, manifested the inability of any in that region to exorcise their tormentors. But a word from Christ effected their deliverance. And in response, as it was, to His word of command, those wretched subjects of demoniacal possession at once opened their mouths, "What," so writes Matthew, "have we to do with Thee, Thou Son of God? art Thou come hither to torment us before the time?" (viii. 29). Terrible words indeed — the confession of hopeless despair. No future to contemplate but one of torment, the righteous desert of a wicked creature. But who uttered those words? The demoniacs. Whose words did they, however, really utter? Those of the demons. The demons possessed them, and spoke through them. And the two men gave utterance to their thoughts, and expressed them in their words. Those men were the mouthpiece of demons. Why should it be difficult to believe, that men can be the mouthpiece of the Spirit of God? What power, too, those demons possessed! A poor creature energised, and indwelt by one or more of such creatures, can become incapable of restraint by his fellows. For, if guarded and bound with fetters and chains, the chains and fetters can be snapped like tow; and as a free man, but at the same time really the sport of a superior power, the wretched creature can be, as those demoniacs were, driven into the wilderness, and made to speak what demons wish him to say.

{*This seems the better attested reading.}

Demons. — There is an order of malicious beings, hostile to God and to man. Of their existence we have full proof. Of their origin we know nothing. But their future they themselves have declared. Torment under the hand of God, and that without hope of deliverance, is the only prospect before them. These beings can dwell in men, and make such their tools. They can speak by them, and tyrannise over their hapless victims (Luke ix. 42). But to Divine power they must submit, and to those of God's people to whom power over them has been given they have to be obedient (Luke x. 17; Acts xvi. 18; xix. 15). To the abyss, or bottomless pit they belong, and that seems to be their prison-house (Rev. ix. 1-11). Moreover, they have a king over them, the angel of the abyss, or bottomless pit, whose name in the Hebrew is Abaddon, and in Greek Apollyon (i.e., destroyer). Into that same pit Satan, when bound, will be cast, and confined therein for a thousand years (Rev. xx. 2, 3), previous to his being cast into his final place of punishment, the lake of fire (Rev. xx. 10). As, then, the abyss is their prison-house, it explains the point of their urgent request to the Lord, that He would not then send them there, for that is what they said in Luke viii. 31. How conscious were they that One was there who had absolute power over them! Forced to leave their victims by the word of command, they owned they could go nowhere except by Divine permission. First, therefore, beseeching the Lord not to send them into the abyss, for His word is a law to them — a law, a power, against which they cannot rebel — they next besought Him to allow them to enter into a herd of many swine, feeding on the mountain. Not one step could they take without His distinct permission. To both their requests He assented. He did not send them into the abyss. He did allow them to enter into the swine, which, under their power, rushed madly down the steep into the lake, and perished in the waters — a proof, had the Gerasenes been able to perceive it, of the hostility of those demons to man and to his interests. A contrast to the Lord Jesus, they destroyed the swine; He delivered men from their thraldom.

A Worker for Christ. —The swine destroyed, their keepers then fled, and reported in the city and neighbourhood what had taken place. The demoniac set free — for Luke writes of but one — found his place at the feet of Jesus. What a change had come over him! That restless being in the past, from whose mouth had come so lately the words of demons, deprecating the Lord's appearance in that district, now sat contentedly at His very feet, clothed, and in his right mind. Once the sport of demons, his place now, where he desired to be, was at the feet of his deliverer. The people of the place knew him of old. They saw him now, but how changed! for they came out to see what was done. And now two more petitions were addressed to the Lord; this time from men. The first was granted, the second was refused. All the people of the country of the Gerasenes asked Him to depart from them. So He left them. The delivered one prayed Him, that he might be with Him. A subject of Divine grace, he wished to accompany his deliverer. The man was happy in the Lord's presence. The people of the country were miserable. Their prayer was granted. His was refused, for he was to work for Christ in the place where he had been delivered. The Lord sent him away, saying, "Return to thine own house, and show how great things God hath done unto thee. And he went his way, and published throughout the whole city how great things Jesus had done unto him"* (Luke viii. 38, 39). He became thus a worker for Christ, telling out what he had proved. The Lord left that district, but He left behind a willing worker, and a fitting one, a subject of His power in grace. The Lord, once on earth, is on earth no longer. But He has still willing workers, fitting workers for Him on this earth, even those who, subjects of Divine grace, desire the same blessing to be shared in by their fellows. It is from the conscious subjects of Divine grace that the ranks of true workers for Christ are recruited. Another characteristic feature has been developed — viz., the class of people by whom work can be carried on. It is those who have proved in their own history what it is to be recipients of the grace of God.

{*It is interesting to remember how Mark (v. 20) writes of that man's preaching: "He began to publish in Decapolis how great things Jesus had done for him: and all men did marvel." Later on (Mark vii. 31-37), we learn of the welcome reception the Lord met with, when again He visited Decapolis. Had that man's preaching anything to do with it?}

Faith. — Recrossing the lake, no storm, it would seem, was experienced to imperil the safety of the ship's company. Arriving on the western side of the sea, the people received Him, for they were all waiting for Him. At this point we meet with a break in the chronological order of events, caused by the introduction of the story of Jairus' daughter, and that also of the woman who had an issue of blood. Both these incidents are related as well by Matthew and by Mark. Each evangelist, however, introduces them in connection with the order of thought which he is pursuing, Matthew alone giving us a note of time as to when the ruler's daughter, as well as the woman, got healed. It was on the same day that the son of Alphaeus had entertained the Lord in his house (Matt. ix. 18). In his gospel these incidents come in, as illustrative of the reception the Lord met with amongst Israel — rejected by some, but welcomed by others (viii. — ix.). In Mark, one meets with them, as forming part of that interesting section (iii. 13 — vi. 6), which shows us the Apostles at school, as we might say, and learning of the Lord before being sent out to preach. In Luke, they are introduced as part of His teaching in connection with the kingdom. The King was there, and had power, and power which men had not, of which the Gadarene demoniac was an illustration. A new characteristic feature now comes out — viz., the efficacy of faith to draw out power in blessing from the Lord. There might be, as there had been, cases where that power on man's behalf had been exercised before the creature had sought it. There were cases, however, where the felt need prompted the desire to seek for its exercise. What, then, was requisite in the person to draw out that power? Faith, and faith whether for another's need or for one's own. Examples of both are furnished us. Jairus came to Christ for his daughter, a woman came on her own behalf.

The Issue Staunched. — Surrounded by multitudes, the Lord was on His way to the house of Jairus, at the earnest request of that anxious father. But ere the daughter was to be raised up from death, a poor woman, who for twelve long years had suffered from an issue of blood, was to rejoice in the flowing out of healing virtue from Christ. Her case, humanly speaking, hopeless, and all her resources having been already spent on physicians, but in vain, her cure, if it was to be effected, must be a gratuitous one, and a miraculous one. She spoke to no one. She solicited not the friendly offices even of an Apostle; nor did she, like Jairus, fall down at the Lord's feet and supplicate for His compassion, and entreat of Him a cure. But, believing that contact with only the hem of His garment would without doubt procure for her what she wanted, she went behind Him, and touched His garment, and was healed — an example of the efficacy of faith. No one saw her do it. No one knew what had taken place but One, the Lord Himself. Behind Him she was. One of the throng, she touched not His person, but His garment only. It was the touch of faith. She was healed. Power for healing, she proved, was ready for any who had faith in Him to draw upon it. Faith was the requisite. That in exercise was all that was needed. Not a word had passed between them. She touched the hem of His garment in faith, and found herself immediately made whole. Her name, like that of other women, as the woman in Simon's house (Luke vii.), the woman of Samaria (John iv.), and the woman taken in adultery (John viii.), has not been handed down. We cannot name her, but we all know her, as the woman who had faith to touch but the hem of His garment, and so as one in whom is illustrated the blessing resulting from simple faith.

Healed in this simple way, known at the moment by herself, but as she learnt by the Lord also, open confession had to be made of the benefit she had received. For that the Lord now spoke, and asked, "Who touched Me?" When all denied, Peter and they that were with him said, "Master, the multitudes throng Thee, and press Thee. And Jesus said, Somebody hath touched Me; for I perceive that virtue is gone out of Me" (Luke viii. 45, 46). To our evangelist are we solely indebted for these words of the Lord in reply, just quoted; whilst Mark tells us, what neither of the others have done, that the Lord "looked round about, to see her that had done this thing" (Mark v. 32). He knew, we learn, that virtue had gone out of Him. He knew too it was a woman who was healed. Fearing, and trembling, she now came forward, and prostrate at His feet declared before all the people for what cause she had touched Him, and how she was healed immediately. Her need, and the way it had been met, all had to come out. Open confession of the blessing, she was called upon to make. A moment of suspense it doubtless was — the prelude, however, to increase of blessing; for she got a word from the Lord, which quieted all agitation of mind: "Daughter,* thy faith hath made thee whole: go in peace." A word for her. A word for all. Her faith was commended. By faith we, like her, get blessing. And this history is most instructive, since it casts such a full and bright light on the efficacy of simple faith. She believed there was virtue for her. She touched Him. She got it. Not a word of prayer is recorded. She did nothing but act in accordance with her faith. And that was enough. Are any really desirous of blessing in their soul? Coming to Christ, they will surely get it (John vi. 37). She went to Him, and got what she wanted. Souls must act like her, but with this difference: she had no previous promise of blessing to rely on. We have the Lord's gracious assurance of a favourable reception by Him. Then if, like her, we have come to Him, like her we must neither be afraid nor ashamed to confess before all what it is that we have received. For whilst "with the heart man believeth unto righteousness, with the mouth," let us remember, "confession is made unto salvation" (Rom. x. 10).

{*Some differences of reading may be noticed. We should read "the multitudes" in vers. 42, 45. And we should omit, "and sayest Thou who touched me?" (ver. 45), as well as "be of good comfort" (ver. 48).}

Jairus' Daughter. — It was whilst the Lord was on the way to the ruler's house that the woman was healed; and ere that house was reached the daughter had died, and a messenger came to the father, sent very likely from the mother: "Thy daughter is dead, trouble not [or, as some would read, no longer] the Master." The feelings of that father, a parent will understand. The Lord's cognisance of them was now to be manifested. "Trouble not the Master," was the message. Thy daughter is beyond the reach of help so men reasoned. But ere Jairus could speak to the Lord, the Lord addressed him: "Fear not: believe only, and she shall be made whole." What limit was to be put to the power which would respond to faith?* To the house they went, and entering it, with Peter, John, and James, and the parents of the girl, He said to all present, "Weep not; for she is not dead, but sleepeth." Laughed to scorn by the company bewailing her, for the words He had just uttered, there was provided only a fuller proof of the reality of the miracle. All knew she was dead. If she was raised up after that, all must own His power to raise the dead. Putting them all out but the parents and the three disciples, the Lord took her by the hand, and "called, saying, Maid, arise." The voice which had wakened the widow's son at Nain, wakened the daughter of the synagogue ruler at Capernaum. "Her spirit came again, and she arose straightway: and He commanded to give her meat. And her parents were astonished: but He charged them that they should tell no man what was done" (Luke viii. 55, 56).

{*It may be asked, if sickness healed and restoration from death were blessings granted to faith, why are not the same witnessed now? The answer is obvious. To be with Christ is the blessing. When He was here, it was blessed to be here. Now that He is on high, "to depart, and to be with Christ is far better" (Phil. i. 23). So all are not now healed, nor the dead brought back to life.}

Characteristic features of the kingdom, we have headed this chapter. And surely not without reason. The good news of the kingdom, first preached by the King Himself (a unique fact in the world's history), the way of its advancement is taught us, and that, not by the exercise of power, but by the word of God. What other kingdom was ever advanced in such a way? Some hindrances raised up, if possible to stop it, having been next recounted, we learn afterwards what class of people it is that can be fitting instruments to work for Christ, and that in His absence. The subjects of grace are the fitting instruments to proclaim it. And how new to men was the use of such machinery! To this Acts iv. 13 bears witness, where the rulers wondered at the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were unlearned and ignorant men. Yet the wisdom of God, in the choice of instruments, is further strikingly displayed in this same book. For at Thessalonica the multitude bore witness to Paul and Silas "that they turned the world upside down" (Acts xvii. 6). What mighty effect could be produced by preaching the word of God? Then follows in our chapter the double illustration of the efficacy of faith, which can draw out the needed blessing from the Lord, fully meeting all that is wanted. To further teaching about the kingdom we must next turn.

7. The Kingdom — Further Teaching about it (Luke ix.)

The Mission of the Twelve. — A further step is now taken by the Lord: He sends out the twelve on their mission of grace, to heal and to preach. With both power and authority He endowed them, a power which demons could not overcome, an authority which they could not resist. We have seen how the demons at Gadara confessed openly their inability to stir one step except by the Lord's express permission. Now on men the Lord conferred power over all demons, and to cure diseases likewise. Over men these malignant beings tyrannised. Over all demoniacal agency the twelve were to have authority, but an authority delegated by the Lord. He dealt with demons because of who He is — God over all, blessed for evermore. The disciples could only act as authorised and empowered by Him. To cure diseases, too, were they sent, both these inflictions being consequences of the fall. Vast indeed were the powers now conferred on them, for in those fields just mentioned no limit to them was assigned yet limited they were, for there was a domain which lay outside the area of the Apostles' commission, though that too was completely subject to their Master. He could turn water into wine; He could bring fish to Peter's net; He could rebuke both wind and waves. Such things no disciple could do. Thus in giving and in withholding His deity was displayed. He gave them power over all demons: no one but God could do that. He wielded, too, power over nature, and nature's forces, in His own name, a prerogative which belongs to the Creator.

Great, then, was their power; great too was the dignity with which they were invested. Unlearned and ignorant men the rulers regarded them (Acts iv. 13). Humble fishermen, some at least of them were known to be, yet they went forth as accredited messengers of the King, to preach the kingdom of God and to heal the sick. Blessing both for soul and for body they were commissioned to dispense. Glad tidings they proclaimed, and brightness to many a sorrowful home they must have ministered, not encouraging the sick and their friends with hopes of a possible cure, but actually healing those who had need of it, that life and vigour might reanimate enfeebled frames.

Never before in the world's history had such an embassy gone forth, and yet these ambassadors, these heralds, were to be, outwardly at least, dependent on strangers for the supply of their bodily wants. We say outwardly, for, though recipients of the bounty of their hosts in each village, where they evangelised and were welcomed, the Lord who had sent them would dispose hearts to be favourable to them. And so it was, as they subsequently acknowledged. For in response to His question, "When I sent you without purse, and scrip, and shoes, lacked ye anything? They said, Nothing" (Luke xxii. 35). They went forth just as they were, unencumbered by wallet, provisions, money, or extra clothing. But after the cross, as the Lord intimated in that same portion of the gospel, it would be different. To labour before the cross, and to labour after it, would be productive of very contrary experiences. Before the Lord's death the world did not hate the Apostles. After it the world, which had always hated Him, hated also them. And they then went forth as messengers and servants of the crucified One; embarking in a cause which to outward eyes had already experienced defeat. Hence the change in the Lord's directions, as given in that chapter (xxii.), about carrying things needful for the way. Apathy, and even rejection of their message, they might prove in their first mission. Open and persistent hostility they would certainly meet with after the Lord's death and ascension.

How wise were His present directions (ix.)! Where should they lodge? Was that a question? As occasion arose it would be simply settled: "Whatsoever house ye enter into, there abide, and thence depart." Their welcome by the host would indicate the place of their sojourn. On the other hand, if rejected by any, whilst bowing to that, they were to shake off the dust of their feet against such.* The servant was not to strive, but God would surely remember it, for they were His messengers who were thus treated. Empowered then by the Lord, and furnished with the subject of their message — viz. to preach the kingdom of God, they went throughout the villages (as the word is), preaching the gospel, and healing everywhere.

{*This injunction Paul and Barnabas carried out at Antioch in Pisidia, consequent on their expulsion from that region.}

Herod's Perplexities. — The effect of this mission on people is nowhere, we believe, recorded. To the Lord the Apostles rendered their account (Luke ix. 10), no statement of which has, however, been preserved by Matthew, Mark, or Luke. Yet there was one person who was much disturbed and perplexed at all that was taking place. For his guilty conscience, stifled perhaps for a time, was speaking. His murder of John the Baptist he was not allowed to forget. The recent displays of power attracted general attention, and made men talk and discuss the question, who it was that was amongst them. Opinions varied, but they were opinions and nothing more. All such surmises were wide of the mark, and whatever different people thought, they manifested no real concern about it. With Herod, the king, the matter assumed a very serious aspect. And though it would seem from Luke that Herod asked who it was of whom he heard such things, Matthew (xiv. 2) tells us, and Mark (vi. 16) confirms it, that he answered his own question, saying, "This is John the Baptist; he is risen from the dead; and therefore mighty works do shew forth themselves in him." Nevertheless, he desired to see the one about whom people were talking. That desire was satisfied at a later date. The Lord and Herod did meet, and the latter was glad when he saw Him, sent as He was by Pilate, for he hoped to have seen some miracle wrought by Him. But neither a wonder was wrought, nor a word spoken in answer by the Lord, though questioned by the king and vehemently accused by the chief priests and scribes. They met. They parted. They will meet again, when Herod will see the Lord, in robes more resplendent than those which in mockery he put upon Him; and the king will stand before the Judge to hear His final decision about the murderer of John the Baptist, and the defrauder of his brother Philip in the matter of his wife.

Feeding Five Thousand. — The Apostles returned to the Lord on the completion of their mission, and told Him all that they had done. He then departed with them into a desert place. So they crossed over privately to the vicinity of Bethsaida Julias, which was a little north of the lake, and on the eastern side of the Jordan. His movements at that time were instructive. He had recently learned from the disciples of John of the death of their master (Matt. xiv. 12), and His forerunner. That act of Herod's, He did not resent. Nor did He put forth power to raise His servant from the dead. But He departed privately with the twelve. Was He indifferent to the murder of John? By no means. In a future day He will manifest that He was not. Was He afraid of the power of Herod? His answer to some Pharisees recorded in Luke xiii. 31-33 conclusively negatives that. Why, then, did He depart to a desert place, north-east of the lake, under the dominion of Philip? To Mark (vi. 31) are we indebted for an answer. He thought of His servants who, still in life, needed rest after toil, and therefore took them aside to procure it, for where they were they had no leisure so much as to eat.

The rest, however, was not obtained, for the multitudes went after Him, and on foot too, as they could reach Him without crossing the lake. Thus sought after, the Lord received them, and spake unto them of the kingdom of God, and healed them that had need of healing. Grace was manifested in this double way. He thought of the soul's need. He ministered to the wants of the body likewise. To our evangelist are we indebted for our knowledge of this full acting in grace, which is in harmony with the character of this gospel. And as we have already remarked (p. 17), the introduction in this connection of the miracle of feeding the five thousand, the only miracle recorded by all the evangelists, is characteristic of the line of teaching by Luke. In fact, the immediate connection in which each historian introduces it (the reader must pardon us for repeating it), will, when borne in mind, furnish a key to the aspect in which the Lord is presented by each writer.

The disciples, as the day declined, felt a difficulty pressing on them. A great multitude of five thousand men, besides women and children, were there with them in the wilderness, with evidently no thought or inclination of foraging in the surrounding country for themselves. Hence the Apostles urged the Lord to send the crowd away, that they might in the country round get food, and find shelter for the night. But how could that be? Had not God by the Psalmist declared, "I will satisfy her poor with bread"? (Psalm cxxxii. 15). God was in that desert in the person of His Son. To leave Him, as one unable to meet their wants, would never do. So the Lord replied, "Give ye them to eat." They answered, "We have no more but five loaves, and two fishes; except we should go and buy meat for all this people." Again the Lord spake, and Luke it is who has alone recorded the following utterance: "Make them sit down by fifties in a company." Mark tells us how they were arranged, viz., in ranks by hundreds and by fifties. Luke informs us why they were so arranged. It was the Lord's command. The crowd thus orderly seated on the grass, the Lord, having taken the five loaves and the two fishes, looked up to heaven and blessed them. He then brake and gave to the disciples to set before them. And they did eat and were all filled. A proof of this was seen in the twelve baskets of fragments collected after the meal. The Lord would satisfy the poor with bread. Was this all? No; the disciples were surely to learn a lesson for themselves, viz., their place in ministry to others. They had been preaching and working miracles. They were also to minister to souls of the truth of God; handing on what they should first receive, as they that day dispensed to the multitude of the loaves and fishes, having first received of them from the Lord. Evangelising and ministering to others that which they had received was to characterise them. Thus the Lord was preparing them for service at a future time. In Acts xx. 18-27 we see how Paul carried this out.

The Lord's Death. — But further teaching now follows, concerning not the duties of the servants, but the person, and the treatment by men, of the King. When with His disciples, and as He was alone praying, He asked them what the multitude said about Him. Various were the surmises. Yet on one point there was agreement. For whosoever He was, whether John the Baptist, or Elijah, or one of the old prophets risen again, He was in the estimation of all one who had been formerly on earth, and not one different from all who had previously appeared. Of His Person they were all ignorant. He then asked the disciples, "Whom say ye that I am?" Peter answered at once, "The Christ of God" (Luke ix. 20). To Peter He was the Anointed One of God, the Messiah, the theme of the old prophets (1 Sam. ii. 10, 35; Psalm ii. 2; Dan. ix. 25, 26) but clearly therefore not one of them. There was light for any simple soul to discern who He was. Peter had profited by it, and had answered correctly. The Lord accepted the answer as correct, but bade them not to tell it to any one that He was the Christ, for His day of exaltation as the Christ must be preceded by His death. Of this last He now began to speak, in connection with, and consequent on, His rejection by men.* "The Son of man must suffer many things, and be rejected of the elders, and chief priests and scribes, and be slain, and be raised up the third day." Of His death the prophets had written (Psalm xxii., xl., lxix., cii.; Isa. liii.; Dan. ix. Zech. xiii.); and to it the institution of animal sacrifice bore witness from the earliest times. Simeon alluded to it, when addressing Mary the Virgin, the Lord's mother, and John the Baptist also referred to it. Here the Lord announced it, and foretold His resurrection likewise. It was as the rejected Christ that He would die. Elders, chief priests and scribes, the leaders, the educated amongst Israel, as well as the professed students of the law, would agree in refusing Him. His death would thereupon follow. Men in consequence must be tested. For though the Lord had power over all that is opposed to God, and had already displayed it in His works, the enemy, in the wisdom of God, was to be allowed an apparent triumph, the prelude, as we know, to his crushing and final defeat.

{*It is at this juncture in His history that the three evangelists, Matthew, Mark, and Luke, first acquaint us with His approaching death. From John (ii. 19; iii. 14, 15; vi. 51, 53) we learn that His death had been ever before Him; but till this time it would seem He had not foretold how it was to be brought about.}

A Word for All. — So the Lord now spoke to all, not to His disciples merely. This, which Luke states, Mark (viii. 34) more clearly intimated, as he wrote, "And when He had called the people [or, multitude] unto Him with His disciples," etc. The crowd, then, we read, had been following the Lord as He went into the towns [or, villages] of Caesarea Philippi, and the Lord had spoken to His disciples openly, Mark tells us (viii. 32), of His approaching death. Remembering all this, the forwardness of Peter on that occasion is probably explained. Unwilling that the Lord should be lowered in the estimation of the people, Peter rebuked Him, but was immediately rebuked by the Lord Jesus, as Matthew and Mark have related. After that, instruction for the people followed, for the matter was a most important one. For if rejection and death would be meted out to Christ, the Christ of God, the path, in consequence, of true disciples could not be a smooth one. They must prepare for suffering — and it might be, and how often has it been, for death! The solemn words of the Master we do well to bear in mind: "If any man will come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross* daily, and follow Me. For whosoever will save his life, shall lose it: but whosoever will lose his life for My sake, the same shall save it. For what is a man advantaged, if he gain the whole world, and lose himself, or be cast away? [or, as R.V., lose or forfeit his own self]. For whosoever shall be ashamed of Me and of My words, of him shall the Son of man be ashamed, when He shall come in His own glory, and in His Father's, and of the holy angels" (Luke ix. 23-26). Now the earnest of His coming glory, some there present were shortly to behold.

{*"His cross," it is said, not the cross. So always. See Matt. x. 38; xvi. 24; Mark viii. 34; Luke xiv. 27. To this Mark x. 21 forms no exception, since "take up the cross" should be there probably omitted.}

The Transfiguration. — If, then, rejection and death the Lord was to experience, his return in power and glory His people were to expect. So next follows the account of His transfiguration — the earnest, as Peter who witnessed it assures us, of the coming kingdom, of which the prophets had written. For thereby the word of prophecy was made more sure (2 Peter 1. 19). And it was incontrovertible that the Apostles, in speaking of the future, had followed no cunningly devised fables, when making known the power and coming of the Lord Jesus; for Peter, in common with James and John, had been eye-witness of His majesty. The importance, then, to us of that scene on the mount, one of its eye-witnesses has put on record.

To return to our gospel. It was fitting that the Lord's rejection and death should have been announced previous to His ascent of the Mount of Transfiguration, because in the order of history His death had to precede His advent in power. It was fitting, too, that an interval of time should elapse between the announcement of the former and the foreshadowing of the latter, since there was to be an interval of time indeed between those two events. And in full keeping with this it surely is, that the interval of time in the gospel history — about a week — should be passed over without anything being recorded by the evangelists of that which went on during it. What was the world to see and to know of the Lord between the cross and His advent in power? It was to see Him no more, till Jerusalem should say, "Blessed is He that cometh in the name of the Lord!" (Matt. xxiii. 39).

That week over, the Lord took with Him Peter, John, and James, and went up into a mountain to pray. The mountain (Luke ix. 28), the Revised Version gives it. What mountain? Certainly not Tabor, for the Lord had crossed to the east of the Jordan, and we have no record of His having come back. Perhaps Hermon is intended, in which case the definite article would have point. But in this, as in so many other matters, we must wait to be enlightened (1 Cor. xiii. 12). The Lord went up to pray. To Luke are we indebted for this, as well as for our knowledge of the subject on which Moses and Elias talked with Him, and also for the probable reason of Peter's proposition (ix. 33). Engaged in prayer, "the fashion of His countenance was altered, and His raiment became white and glistering." Of that prayer not a syllable has been recorded. We know not even whether it was audible, or whether it was uttered in silence. Peter never mentions it, and John, the only other New Testament writer who witnessed the transfiguration, never even alludes to it. We may be quite sure he never forgot that sight, though he, the only evangelist who beheld it, is the only one who never mentioned it. So all that we know from those who were not present is, that, when praying, He was transfigured. And two men were seen with Him, both of them in glory, and they were heard conversing with Him about His decease [or, departure], which He should accomplish at Jerusalem.

{*It may be a question whether the article here points to more than the fact that it was on a mountain, and not in the plain, that the Transfiguration took place. Some would take this view.}

Peter, who had shortly before openly rebuked the Lord for speaking of His death, must have heard their conversation; and, as he afterwards pondered over it, must have felt rebuked afresh, that he had deprecated for his Master that with which Moses and Elias were evidently much occupied — the Lord's death to take place at Jerusalem. The disciples were at first heavy with sleep, as Luke records, but when fully awake they saw His glory, and the two men that stood with Him. Moses and Elias had appeared in glory, but now, thoroughly awake, the Lord's glory they beheld, which evidently far eclipsed that in which the two others were seen. A bright and blessed scene! But how transient! It soon came to an end. And the closing of it Peter and the others witnessed, for they saw Moses and Elias departing. Then it was that Peter opened his mouth, saying, "Master,* it is good for us to be here: and let us make three tabernacles; one for Thee, one for Moses, and one for Elias, not knowing what he said" (Luke ix. 33). Evidently he would have prolonged the scene. He felt it good to be there. But his wish shows how little he had understood of the mind of God. His request was not attended to. The Lord, Moses, and Elias were overshadowed by a cloud, that cloud of glory which Israel when in the wilderness had so often beheld, and they three entered into it. The disciples, beholding that, were afraid, and a voice was heard out of the cloud, for the instruction of those who were not in it: "This is My beloved Son [or, perhaps, my Son, my chosen], hear ye Him." It was the voice of the Father from the Shechinah, the dwelling-place of God, the most excellent glory, in attestation of His Son. The three disciples heard that voice (2 Peter i. 18). The heavenly communication then ceased, and Jesus was found alone. The disciples held their peace, and told no man in those days any of those things which they had seen. Two remarks we may here make. That scene shows that saints can be in glory with Christ (John xvii. 22), and that the Father's house, His dwelling-place, can be their home (John xiv. 2, 3). Heavenly saints will be in glory. Such also are God's children, and so will be in the Father's house as well.

{*Luke here as elsewhere — v. 5; viii. 24, 45; ix. 49; xvii. 13 — uses a term not met with in any other N. T. writer — epistates, Master, i.e. one who is over others, a little different in thought from Teacher, or from Lord.}

A Lunatic. — "It is good for us to be here," Peter had said. He was only thinking of himself, and of the two with him. He would therefore have made three tabernacles, to prolong that blissful scene. But others had to be cared for, and soon would Peter even be convinced that to abide there was impossible. There was work to be done in the plain. The presence and the power of the Lord was urgently needed below. For on the next day, when they came down from the mountain, "much people met Him. And, behold, a man of the company cried out, saying, Master [or, Teacher], I beseech Thee look upon my son: for he is mine only child. And, lo, a spirit taketh him and he suddenly crieth out and it teareth him that he foameth again; and, bruising him, hardly departeth from him. And I besought Thy disciples to cast him out; and they could not" (Luke ix. 38-40). A pitiable case! an earnest appeal "mine only child!"* The widow of Nain had her only son raised up (vii. 12). Jairus had his only daughter brought back to life (viii. 42). Now this afflicted father pleads pathetically for his only child, whose case had hitherto been deemed a hopeless one. Even the disciples could not heal him by casting out the demon. The father's appeal was not rejected. "Bring thy son hither," were the words of encouragement to the parent. "O faithless and perverse generation! how long shall I be with you, and suffer you?" was a word of reproof, however, addressed to them all. As the child was yet a-coming, the demon threw him down and tare him. It was manifestly a case of demoniacal possession, and to the last that demon would show his power over his victim. But his tyranny was to he terminated. The Lord "rebuked the unclean spirit, and healed the child, and delivered him again to his father."

{*"Mine only one." Strong ground, the father thought, on which to base his appeal, but surely, perfectly ignorant whom he was addressing. An only one is precious indeed. And the Lord responded to the parent's appeal. We can well imagine that in doing so He thought of another — an only One, whom His Father would give up, even Himself, to die for sinners. What a gift, God's only begotten Son! The term used of the Lord, monogenes, it may be remarked, is the same as that applied by the afflicted father to his demoniac son. Precious was that only son to his father. How his words express that!}

To have remained, then, on the mountain would not have done, whilst the power of the enemy was rampant in the plain. Now that power could only, in the purpose of God, be finally dealt with through the death of the Lord on the cross. For that, too, He must have descended from the mountain. And now, having manifested His power as absolute over those who could hold men captive, the effect on the multitude was that of amazement, as they witnessed the mighty power of God. But the disciples were to be reminded at this juncture of something which awaited their Master. "Let these sayings," He said to them, "sink down into your ears, for the Son of man shall be delivered into the hands of men. But they understood not this saying, and it was hid from them, so that they perceived it not: and they feared to ask Him of that saying" (Luke ix. 44, 45).

Ere closing this section of the gospel, which has treated at some length of the kingdom, we are reminded by the instances of personal failure, and by the instruction which follows, of the spirit which should animate those who have entered into it, whether they be Apostles or simply disciples.

Apostles rebuked. — First the Apostles are rebuked (ix. 46-56); then disciples get a word for themselves (57-62). Self-seeking, sectarianism, and the lack of meekness — how characteristic of all by nature, manifested by some in the Apostles' company — are severally corrected by the Master.

Self-seeking was displayed, as there arose a reasoning among them, which of them should be greatest — "which of them.'' That was the subject uppermost with the twelve. The Lord perceived the thought of their heart. Evidently they had not broached the subject to or before Him, but discussed it only among themselves. How does He deal with it? Were they glorying in being Apostles (i.e. sent ones), and in being received by the people as such? In that there was nothing to boast of. In receiving a messenger, it is the sender of the message who is thought of, and received. So, taking a little child, and setting it in the midst, He said, "Whosoever shall receive this little child in My Name, receiveth Me." What a rebuke! But more. They were messengers, and He Himself was a messenger (Heb. iii. 1). So, whoever received Christ, received Him that sent Him. Who could say a word after that? Did they ask, who should be the greatest? The answer was clear: "He that is least among you all, the same shall be [or, rather, is] great" (Luke ix. 48).

Sectarianism was next dealt with, an incident which had occurred furnishing the opportunity. On this occasion John was the spokesman: "Master, we saw one casting out devils [rather, demons] in Thy name: and we forbad him, because he followeth not with us." The Lord's answer, helpful now as then, is recorded: "Forbid him not; for he that is not against you is for you"* (Luke ix. 49, 50). Where it is a question of Christ, the Lord has said, "He that is not with Me is against Me" (xi. 23). There is no middle path. Where it is a question of working in His name, "he that is not against you," He would say, "is for you." Such a one is working in the common cause, and owns, and is owned by the common Master. No one, therefore, is to forbid him.

{*So the best authorities and editors. The Alexandrine codex, with a few uncials, reads, "against you is for us." In the parallel passage in Mark, the A.V. is in accord with the best attested reading in that gospel.}

Meekness next inculcated. The occasion for this was furnished by the Lord's last journey* to Jerusalem, as He passed through Samaria. Luke alone has preserved a record of it. His face was steadfastly set toward Jerusalem. And He sent messengers before His face, who entered into a village of the Samaritans to make ready for Him. But they did not receive Him, because His face was as though He would go to Jerusalem. James and John, his near kinsmen, and jealous for their Master, were evidently indignant at such conduct; and asked if they should command fire to come down from heaven to consume them. "But He turned and rebuked them. And they went to another village." He, the meek One, went to another village. He bowed to that indignity. What a lesson that was and is! We have given vers. 55, 56 as probably they should be read, omitting the larger part of each.

{*Our historian accurately dates this incident as taking place near the close of the Lord's life. But it by no means follows, nor do we believe Luke intended, that all in his gospel which comes after this incident took place subsequent to it, as some have thought. We cannot from the date here given fix a date for the rest of the book. Luke arranges his materials so often in a moral order. We believe this is an instance of it.}

Disciples taught. — The Apostles rebuked, disciples are next instructed. As with the former, so with the latter, three examples of it are adduced. And reading of them, must we not admit that those they taught have representatives still? The rash forwardness of some, the holding back of others, and the lack of wholeheartedness, are each dealt with, in that which follows.

"I will follow Thee whithersoever Thou goest," was the exclamation of one, who apparently had not been asked to tread that path, and who knew not himself. The Lord's quiet answer, neither repelling nor rebuking, told him that true discipleship was not an easy vocation. "Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man hath not where to lay His head" (vers. 57, 58). The Lord was a stranger in the midst of His own creation, though to Him all belonged, and He will by-and-bye openly rule over it all as Son of man (Psalm viii. 6; Heb. ii. 7-9). What effect the Lord's answer had on the man is not stated, nor does it concern us. What we need to know is the character of the path which a true disciple must be willing to face.

The forward one answered, the holder-back is next taught. Called to follow the Lord, the man tells Him there is a prior claim on him. Filial duty demanded his attention. That discharged, he would follow Him. To him comes the answer, that the Lord's work, if called to it, has the first claim. "Let the dead bury their dead; but go thou and preach the kingdom of God" (ix. 59, 60).

Whole-heartedness is next insisted upon for those who would follow Christ. "Lord," said another, "I will follow Thee; but let me first go bid them farewell which are at home at my house. And Jesus said unto him, No man having put his hand to the plough, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God" (ix. 61, 62). Who can plough straight if he looks behind him? The Lord knew the danger to which that man would expose himself. The true labourer must be whole-hearted for his work.

The Apostles then are taught what was not to characterise them. Disciples are shown that which should characterise such. Now these lessons come in well at the close of the great section of Luke's gospel, which has treated of the kingdom, lessons grouped together in a moral, not in a chronological order: for the two first lessons for disciples were called for really at an earlier period of the Lord's ministry. (See Matt. viii. 19-22.)

Here for the present the great theme of the kingdom stops, though to be resumed later. What a subject of interest it has proved itself to be! Luke has taught us of blessings connected with it, and of the privilege of being in it, even whilst upon earth (chap. vii.). The method, too, of its present advancement, so different from that which men would have supposed, with other characteristic features of it, have been traced out in chap. viii. And for a brief moment the King appeared on the mount in His millennial glory. Farther than the establishment of the kingdom in power, Luke does not carry his readers down the stream of time. But having given us the earnest of it in the transfiguration in chap. ix., before unfolding the circumstances which will usher in its advent in power (chap. xvii. 20-37), he has much to set before his readers. On that he next enters.

The State of Things in Israel in the Lord's Day (Luke x. — xiii.).

8. The Need of Souls and the Way of Blessing (Luke x. — xi. 13)

A new section of the gospel here commences (x. — xiii. 35): the state of things in Israel in the Lord's day. Hence matters connected with it have now to be presented by the historian to the reader; and much of what he relates is new and peculiar to his gospel; another illustration of his statement to Theophilus, that he had traced out the course of all things accurately from the first (i. 3).

Accordingly, we are now to be reminded of the spiritual need of the people (x. 1-37), and of the way of blessing then provided (x. 38 — xi. 13). After that the opposition of the teachers amongst them is brought out (xi. 14-54), which gives rise to instruction to disciples for their work and service in consequence (xii. 1-53). Then the condition of the people as in danger of judgment is developed (xii. 54 — 13: 35), coupled with an intimation by parables of the kingdom of the new order of things, which already had begun to be introduced. The state of the nation indicated its unfruitfulness, after all the attention shown it; so the platform is thus cleared for the introduction of grace, which follows in xiv. — xvii. 19, in a section to itself. We begin then with the spiritual need of the people in the Lord's day, illustrated in two ways; first by the mission of the seventy, and next by the question of a lawyer.

The Mission of the Seventy. — A last appeal would the Lord make, and for that chose and sent seventy disciples, to go as He had sent the twelve (Mark vi. 7), two and two before His face into every city and place, whither He Himself would come (Luke x. 1). Evidently the mission of the twelve had not won the nation to hearken to the prophet foretold by Moses. Another effort would therefore be made, by messengers sent before His face, to prepare His way. Now this appeal was not the fruit of human intercession, but had its origin in the grace of His heart, and in that love which nothing could quench. "The harvest," He said, "is plenteous, but the labourers are few. Pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest that He would send forth labourers into His harvest" (x. 2). With the same words Matthew (ix. 37-38) introduced the mission of the twelve. But, comparing Luke and Matthew, we cannot doubt that the Lord gave utterance to this, as to other statements, on more than one occasion.

Much in the short address to the seventy reminds us of the charge to the Apostles, which is related at length only by Matthew. Yet there are some differences. To the Apostles there was delegated power to raise the dead (Matt. x. 8). To heal the sick, which included casting out devils, the seventy were empowered (Luke x. 9, 17), but not a word have we of their raising the dead; nor is there any instance of that being done save by the Lord and by the Apostles. Again, the importance of the movement is especially brought out in the charge to these disciples given us in Luke, for they were to salute no one by the way. Intent on their service, without allowing even the ordinary courtesies of life to distract them, they were to go forth, as directed by the Master. He was in earnest. They were to be in earnest: but the nation, alas! as a nation, was unmoved by all it had seen and heard. So, as the Lord had told the twelve, He told the seventy, that they would find themselves like lambs amongst wolves (x. 3); and He prepared them, as He had the others, for rejection by some, whilst there might be acceptance of the message by others. Hence He laid down regulations for their conduct in a house or a city, according as they were welcomed or the reverse. Where welcomed, they were to accept of hospitality, "for the labourer," He added, "is worthy of his hire." He had spoken similar words to the twelve (Matt. x. 10). We learn now that, whoever it be, an Apostle or not, who is sent by the Master, hospitality, or help in other ways, as may be needed, he is free to accept. He is the Master's servant, a labourer engaged by the Lord of the harvest. He is not the servant of man, though he ministers to men. He is the servant of Christ. This the Holy Ghost by the Apostle Paul also teaches us, quoting, as St. Paul does in 1 Tim. v. 18, the words of the Lord in our evangelist.

The Lord, we have said, prepared the messengers for the reception they might meet with; acceptance in some quarters, rejection in others. They were then to act accordingly. Where received in any city, they were to heal the sick, and to tell them that the kingdom of God had come nigh to them (Luke x. 9). Where rejected, they were to go forth, and say, "Even the very dust of your city, which cleaveth on us [or, to our feet], we do wipe off against you: notwithstanding, be ye sure of this, that the kingdom of God is come nigh" (x. 11). That city might reject them. They would then shake off all connection with it, even the very dust collected therein by their feet. But there was that which the rejecters of the messengers could not shake off, — their responsibility; for the kingdom of God had come nigh ("unto you" should be here omitted), and they had cared nothing about it. Carelessness, indifference, scoffing, such might indulge in, but a day of reckoning must come — the day of judgment, when it would be more tolerable for Sodom, and for Tyre and Sidon, which had never had such opportunities as the cities of Galilee then enjoyed. Chorazin, Bethsaida, Capernaum, cities in which the Lord had worked, had that to answer for, which would not be demanded of iniquitous Sodom, nor of the idolatrous cities of Phoenicia. What a responsibility rests on any who are favoured with opportunities of hearing the message of God! It was so then. It is so now. "He that heareth you," the Master said, "heareth Me; and he that despiseth you, despiseth Me; and he that despiseth Me, despiseth Him that sent Me." Men are apt to judge of their freedom to refuse the message, by looking at the messengers. The proper thing is to think, and own whose messengers they are. And the One who sends them is received or refused, according as the messengers are welcomed or the reverse.

Joys. — Without purse, wallet, or shoes the seventy went forth; and they returned to the Lord with joy, for even the demons, they found, were subject to them in Christ's name. There was power to deal with those spirits which tyrannised over men. The name of the Lord Jesus was omnipotent in that warfare, and His messengers could use it effectively. Joy filled their hearts, and they told it out to the Lord. "Subject unto us," they said; not going in thought beyond themselves. But the Lord took at once a comprehensive view of it all. He knew what that presaged — the downfall of the enemy. They spoke of the demons. He spoke of Satan. "I beheld," He said, "Satan as lightning fall from heaven." The subjection of the demons to His name was the earnest of complete victory over all the power of the enemy. As yet men might not, did not see that. It was as the cloud like a man's hand, which Elijah's servant saw. But, as that cloud increased till it overspread the whole heavens, so the power of the enemy, which had begun to give way, would be completely annulled, and his final overthrow was certain. In the meantime the Lord would give His servants power to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy: "and nothing," He added, "shall by any means hurt you. Notwithstanding in this rejoice not, that the spirits are subject unto you; but rejoice,* because your names are written in the heavens" (x. 20). The grace they shared in, of which that power was a proof, and not the exercise of that power, should be their cause of rejoicing. Man naturally values power; and covets to wield it. The greater thing, the more blessed thing, is to be a partaker of divine grace, and to belong to heaven, from which Satan will be expelled (Rev. xii. 7, 8).

{*"Rather" should be omitted. The omission strengthens the statement. The seventy, it may be noticed, had spoken of the demons, the objects of fear and of worship by the heathen. The Lord called them spirits, expressing thereby the character of their being.}

Joy was to be theirs as recipients of grace. A joy we now read of, which the Lord had, and He gave expression to it. "In that same hour He rejoiced in the Holy Spirit,* and said, I thank Thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that Thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes: even so, Father, for so it seemed good in Thy sight. All things are delivered to Me of My Father: and no man knoweth who the Son is, but the Father; and who the Father is but the Son, and he to whom the Son will reveal Him" (vers. 21, 22). The seventy had rejoiced in the power with which they were endowed. He, to whom all power was given, found His joy in the Father acting as He would, and revealing things to babes. What a difference! But had we not Luke's gospel we should not have understood the full significance of this passage in the Lord's life. Some have thought, comparing Matt. xi. 25-27, that Luke has misplaced this incident. We believe our evangelist has correctly located it. Nor is there any such definite note of time in Matthew as would prove the contrary. "At that time," he wrote. "In that same hour," wrote Luke, expressing himself more definitely, and connecting it with the return of the seventy, and the expression of their joy.

{*So most probably we should read.}

They rejoiced, and might rejoice. The Lord also rejoiced. The Father was working, and He Himself was revealing. The Father was working, revealing things to babes. The Son was revealing the Father, as He alone could, who knew Him as the Father. There was that which men could not know — viz., the Son. That is for the Father, as such, alone to know. There was that which could be known — i.e. the Father, and the Son was making Him known, but as He would. Men, then, were dependent on the will and grace of the Son to know the Father. It was a new revelation. Blessed must they be who share in it. Of that the Lord now assured His disciples, as turning to them He said, "Blessed are the eyes which see the things which ye see: For I tell you, that many prophets and kings have desired to see those things which ye see, and have not seen them: and to hear those things which ye hear, and have not heard them" (Luke x. 23, 24). We are reminded by these words of a similar utterance recorded by Matthew (xiii. 16). Another instance, it may be (and in this there is nothing improbable), of the Lord expressing the same thing more than once. The disciples witnessed the advent of the kingdom, though in mystery. They heard, too, about the Father, as the Son could reveal Him. Men might reject their message, and Him who sent them. Then the Father would never be revealed to such, nor would they understand what was taking place on earth. What a privilege the disciples enjoyed, and which Christians enjoy also!

The Lawyer. — The condition of the people manifested by the need for the mission of the seventy, we have their condition further developed by the question of the lawyer, nomicos,* i.e. one learned in the law, as this term used by Luke expresses. This man came to the Lord, tempting Him, and saying, "Master" [i.e. Teacher,], "what shall I do to inherit eternal life?" His question was an acknowledgment of three things: 1. That the possession of eternal life was a blessing for individuals. 2. He confessed by his question that he had not got it. 3. He supposed that the Lord would say something on it, and may have heard that He taught about it. Tempting Him, the man put his question. The Lord read his heart, and, doubtless to his surprise, made him answer his own question, and that from the book with which he professed real acquaintance. "What shall I do?" asked the man, by implication asserting that, lawyer though he was, he knew not how to get that blessing. Professing then ignorance, he virtually took the ground that God had not supplied the information needed. For why ask the Lord about that to which an answer had been ages before furnished by the lawgiver? Had he asked the Lord, "What sayest Thou?" there would have been no implication that God had not provided the answer. His question, however, was different, and was professedly, but not really, that of an anxious inquirer. The Lord's dealing with him was wise, and instructive. He turned him to Scripture, and made him find therein the answer to that which he asked. And at once, in response to the Lord's interrogatory, "What is written in the law? how readest thou?" the lawyer quoted Deut. vi. 5, and Lev. xix. 18, the two commandments on which, we learn elsewhere (Matt. xxii. 40), hang all the law and the prophets. His reply was correct, and sufficient too, as the Lord rejoined, "Thou hast answered right: this do, and thou shalt live" (Luke x. 28). He had not eternal life, yet the law taught about it, and he could quote that law.

{*"Nomicos," writes Meyer on Matthew (vol. ii., p. 92), "is more specific ( juris-consultus) and more strictly Greek. Grammateus, on the other hand, is more general (literatus), and more Hebrew in its character."}

The Good Samaritan. — An honest inquirer, really anxious, would probably have been dumb. But the lawyer, willing [or desiring] to justify himself, asked, "Who is my neighbour?" The question asked, the answer came in a way that the man never expected. For the Lord proceeded to speak of the Good Samaritan; whether a parable or a history is not stated, and really it matters not. Had the lawyer answered his own question, he would doubtless have confined the thought of neighbour to one of his own nation, virtually confounding neighbour with brother. For all Israelites in the law were regarded as brethren (Deut. xxiii. 19, 20). But a neighbour is a more comprehensive term. This the Samaritan's act brings out. The priest and the Levite passed by the wounded one on the other side. The Samaritan did not. He noticed him. He had compassion on him. The man, beaten and half dead, had gone down from Jerusalem, and probably would, in health, have refused any intercourse with a Samaritan. The latter, however, thought not of the enmity between the races. He saw one in distress, and, whoever he might be, he would minister to him. The teacher of the law passed by. The doer of the law — the Samaritan — personally ministered to, and amply cared for the injured one. Who was that poor man's neighbour? Constrained to answer, the lawyer described him characteristically; but carefully, it would seem, abstained from mentioning his nationality: "He that shewed mercy on him," were the words. "Go and do thou likewise," was the answer of the Lord. Here the incident terminates. Did these words of Christ ring in the ear and find a place in the heart? That we shall never know this side of death, nor what the lawyer felt, as again he had to answer to his own confusion. Little did he think to whom he was approaching, when he brought his question to the Lord.

Scripture Misapplied. — We know the use to which this portion has been often put, making it a gospel subject, and thereby presenting the Lord as the Good Samaritan. It is a very old application, but surely a mistaken one. The point inculcated is loving one's neighbour as one's self. How could we apply that to the Lord who made atonement for us? Did He do for others as He would wish should be done for Himself? Then knowing, as we do, the light in which a Jew regarded a Samaritan (John viii. 48), and the light in which the Lord regarded them (John iv. 22), it is inconceivable that He meant to speak of Himself under the guise of one of that race; and further — this clenches the matter — the moral of the story is, "Go and do thou likewise," an application impossible for any one of us, if the good Samaritan were a personification of our Saviour. "None can by any means redeem his brother, nor give to God a ransom for him" (Psalm xlix. 7), holds good, and must for ever, as far as we are concerned. The real point, too, in the Lord's teaching must be eliminated, if we use it as an illustration of the gospel. The remark of Calvin* on such and kindred applications may well be quoted: "I acknowledge that I have no liking for any of these interpretations; but we ought to have a deeper reverence for Scripture than to reckon ourselves at liberty to disguise its natural meaning. And, indeed, any one may see that the curiosity of certain men has led them to contrive these speculations contrary to the intention of Christ." If we keep in view the reason for the introduction of the Good Samaritan, and remember the application to be made of it, we shall be preserved from such fanciful expositions.

{*"Harmony of Matthew, Mark, and Luke," vol. iii., p. 63. (Calvin Translation Society.)}

The Way of Blessing. — The nation had not been won to Christ. The lawyer had not got everlasting* life, and though the law could intimate that on its observance he might enjoy it, he had not fully kept it, and indeed never could. Whence, then, was blessing to be for men? They needed it. How could they have it? To this we are now to be turned. The attitude and occupation of a woman would teach about it, and the request of a disciple would further elucidate it. Eve had listened to the serpent. What misery had ensued! Mary of Bethany hearkened to the words of Christ. What blessing did she enjoy! From the north, then, to the south of the land are we now taken, and to the family of Bethany we are now introduced, for Bethany was the village of Mary and her sister Martha (John xi. 1). This is the only incident given by Luke the scene of which was in Judaea, from the commencement of the Lord's ministry to His approach to Jericho on His way to Jerusalem to His crucifixion.

{*We use the word everlasting advisedly. In this we have an advantage in the English language over some others, as we can speak of eternal and also of everlasting. Once none of us had this life, but having it, it is ours for ever. Everlasting, then, seems more suitable to use. We never lose it but there was a time when we did not possess it. It is in itself eternal but for us it is everlasting.}

At His Feet. — Into Martha's house the Lord entered, welcomed by her. As was natural and proper, she, the mistress of the house, was busy preparing refreshment for her guest. Her sister Mary was occupied in receiving ministry for her soul. She sat at the Lord's feet, and heard His word. Martha, cumbered about much serving, was evidently annoyed with Mary, and appealed to the Lord about it. One can picture the scene. Mary in a posture of repose, sitting at His feet, was drinking in His words. Martha, going to Him, thinks not of sitting down (too busy for that), but asks for His interposition to tell Mary to help her. Her sister she was. She reminded Him of it. "Lord, dost Thou not care that my sister hath left me to serve alone? bid her, therefore, that she help me." Was there not a reproach implied in this? Did He not see how she was neglected? Was there not, too, a consciousness of what a word from Him would be to Mary? "Bid her, therefore, that she help me." The Lord's answer justified Mary, and reminds us of the importance of using an opportunity. "Martha, Martha, thou art careful [or, anxious], and troubled about many things: but one thing is needful: and Mary hath chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her" (Luke x. 41, 42). Mary was mindful of her opportunity, and seized it. Martha was wholly intent on the then present.

To sit at His feet, and to hear His word, was the way of blessing then. And when next we read of these two, we see how Mary had profited by her opportunity. For in sorrow together, because of their brother's death, and both of them objects of the Lord's love (John xi. 5), Martha, unable evidently to leave all with Him, suggested to the Lord to do something to alleviate their grief. "Lord, if Thou hadst been here my brother had not died. And even now I know, that whatsoever Thou wilt ask of God, God will give it Thee" (John xi. 21, 22). Her active, bustling temperament could not be satisfied to leave the issue quietly in His hands. Mary, her sister, equally bowed down under the sorrow, addresses Him as Martha had done: "If Thou hadst been here, my brother had not died;" but quietly, and surely in confidence, counted on His interest in them, and His ability, if so minded, to remove the cause of their sorrow. She had not sat at His feet and heard His word for nothing. Then, on the last occasion on which we read about them, the habits of the two are seen to be unchanged. Martha, as was her wont, and doubtless in her place, was serving. Mary was occupied with the Lord, and anointed Him, and, as He interpreted her act, for His burial (John xii.). It was good to hear His word, and profit by it. That was the way of blessing.

Prayer. — The request of a disciple gives occasion for further elucidation of this subject. The Lord was praying in a certain place. When He had ceased, one of those with Him said: "Lord, teach us to pray, as John also taught his disciples" (Luke xi. 1). This request was an acknowledgment of the great advance in spiritual teaching which had characterised the Lord's ministry. The old forms of prayer were evidently no longer suited for the disciples of John, wherein to express all their desires. So he had taught them to pray. But John's ministry, which was of a rousing character, and so dealt with the conscience, did not minister grace like that of the Lord, which spoke of the Father. This was a revelation by the Son, never entrusted to John. Hence, with such fresh truth, old forms of prayer would not be in perfect harmony. And the Lord, by His answer, admitted that, and thereby intimated that prayer should be in keeping with the revelation vouchsafed us. An important principle this is, but how little, even now, understood!

The Lord's Prayer. — Thereupon follows the prayer known throughout Christendom as the Lord's Prayer, in harmony, of course, with the revelation of its day, but not anticipating that which was afterwards to be unfolded (John xvi. 24-26), when prayer to the Father was to be offered up in Christ's name. In our gospel, though the prayer is identical in character with that which Matthew has given us, we have it in a shorter form, when read in accordance with the best attested text: "Father, hallowed be Thy name. Thy kingdom come. Give us day by day our daily bread. And forgive us our sins; for we also forgive every one that is indebted to us. And lead us not into temptation." Short, yet suggestive! Short, for in a few sentences very much is comprised. Suggestive, because it reminds us, that God's glory, and that which concerns our Father, should have the first place in the heart, whilst there is perfect freedom to make known our wants as well.

"Father," it begins with, for in that relationship He is made known to all true disciples of the Lord Jesus. Next follow two petitions, the one concerning the hallowing of the Father's name, the other desiring the advent of His kingdom. His name had been blasphemed (Psalm lxxiv. 18; Isa. lii. 5; lxv. 7; Ezek. xx. 27). It shall be hallowed (Psalm cxlviii. 13; cxlix. 3; Isa. xxix. 23; Ezek. xxxvi. 23; Mal. i. 11). And the Father's kingdom shall come. But this last in its fulness will only be accomplished when the eternal state begins (1 Cor. xv. 24); though, during the millennial reign of the Lord Jesus Christ, the heavenly part of the kingdom will be known as the kingdom of our Father (Matt. xiii. 43). Comprehensive and far-reaching are these two petitions, the first having reference to intelligent creatures, the second looking on to the end of time. "Hallowed be Thy name," expresses a desire that by all it should be sanctified. "Thy kingdom come," gives utterance to the wish that God's purposes in time should all be worked out, that the eternal state may begin.

After that what concerns the child is taken up, and expressed in three petitions, viz., the supply of his daily need, the forgiveness of his sins, and the being kept from temptation. As a creature he needs to be cared for. As a failing one he needs forgiveness (1 John i. 9). As a fallen and weak one, with sin in him, he needs to be kept from temptation. So of his Father's interest in him he is assured; of his Father's love and upholding power and grace he is fittingly reminded; and of his freedom to present his petitions, the Son by this prayer teaches him.

Freedom to ask thus intimated, earnestness in prayer is next inculcated and illustrated. A man will give to his friend, if importunate, however untimely may be the request. "Because of his importunity he will rise and give him as many as he needeth." Will God be less easy to be entreated than a friend, or an earthly father? No. "Ask," says the Lord, "and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you. For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened." Importunity will avail with a friend. Earnestness is rewarded by God. But more; He is our Father, and has a Father's heart, and we may learn something of what that is from an earthly parent, placed in that relation by God. The parental tie was instituted by God. Parental love is implanted in the creature by the Creator. Will He do less, and care less for His children, than an earthly parent for his offspring? Impossible; and here we are not left to conjecture, nor to deduction. "If a son," we read, "shall ask bread of any of you that is a father, will he give him a stone? or if he ask a fish, will he for a fish give him a serpent? Or if he shall ask an egg, will he offer him a scorpion? If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children: how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask Him?" (xi. 5-13).

Of St. Luke's care and diligence in research we have here fresh proof, as we compare what he wrote with that which Matthew (vii. 7-11) has related. The yielding to a friend's importunity he alone mentions, as well as the egg and the scorpion. And whilst in Matthew we learn that good things can be given, Luke particularises the giving the Holy Ghost as a blessing to be enjoyed.

The way of blessing is thus set forth, and in an orderly manner. What is first wanted is to hear the Word, and to receive it. Then the person born again is brought into relationship with God, and having Him for his Father, he is assured of Divine parental interest in all that concerns him, as well as of the freedom which he may enjoy as a child, so as to give expression to his desires in filial confidence to His Father who is in heaven.

9. Empty Profession and True Discipleship (Luke xi. 14 — xii. 53)

The Lord cast out a dumb demon. The man delivered spake. The multitude marvelled and well they might, for as Matthew (xii. 22) tells us, the man had been blind as well as dumb. All beheld that he both spake and saw. To doubt the miracle was impossible. To discredit it as an act of Divine power was attempted, by ascribing the power displayed to Beelzebub, the prince of the demons. Others, tempting Him, sought of Him a sign from heaven, to attest the reality or His mission. His work of power and of mercy thus aroused the opposition of different classes. The Pharisees, — for Matthew, who is more full here than Luke, states that it was on this occasion their suggestion, — ascribed His miracles to demoniacal power. The scribes in conjunction with them, that same Apostle informs us, came and asked for a sign from heaven. Professors they both were. The Pharisees professed to be righteous, and strict observers of the law. The scribes, by profession, were interpreters of that law. (Matt. xxiii.) Both, however, are here seen opposed to the Lord. It was empty profession on their part.

Demoniacal Power. — To the former the Lord first addressed Himself. He openly refuted their suggestion, which it would seem they had not the courage to make before Him. For we read: "He, knowing their thoughts, said unto them, Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation and a house divided against a house falleth. If Satan also be divided against himself, how shall his kingdom stand? because ye say that I cast out demons through Beelzebub" [or rather, Beelzeboul] (Luke xi. 17, 18). There are occasions when one may leave objections unnoticed. An instance of this we have in Mark iii. 21, when the friends of the Lord said He was beside Himself. Of that it appears He took no notice. But there are occasions when the enemy must be boldly met, and his suggestions or accusations be distinctly refuted. So the Lord now showed the folly of these people. To what folly will not people stoop to oppose the work of God! Satan divided against himself! Who could have supposed that creatures endowed with reason would have broached such a theory? Demons cast out through Beelzebub, the prince of the demons! To put this in a clear light was sufficient for its complete refutation. Yet to do that was needful. For experience teaches how easily the crowd is led away by sound without substance, that is to say, by foolish statements which will not bear investigation.

Foolish, indeed, was the supposition; and the consequences of it they had never weighed. For if the Lord was working by Beelzebub, by whom were their sons working when they cast out demons? In thus assailing the character of the Lord, they were maligning that of their sons. Two things, however, were established, and of both of them they were witnesses. There is such a thing as demoniacal power; still, great as that power is, there is power yet greater, which can cast out demons, though it is not inherent in man. And demons were cast out by the Lord, for the genuineness of His miracles could not be disputed. The conclusion, then, was plain — Divine power was at work. This He declared. "If I by the finger of God cast out demons, no doubt [or, then] the kingdom of God is come upon you." The kingdom of God was upon earth. These miracles attested it, and the strong man was being spoiled of his goods. Satan was despoiled of his prey. It was then no time for neutrality, or for indifference. "He that is not with Me," the Lord declared, "is against Me: and he that gathereth not with Me scattereth" (23). Nor was that all. There was the future to be considered. The unclean spirit of idolatry had gone out of the Jews ever since the Babylonish captivity. But if they refused the Lord Jesus, they would become afresh a prey to demoniacal power. And that will be the case, and be openly seen, when the abomination of desolation shall be standing in the holy place (Matt. xxiv. 15). So the Lord spake, but in parabolic language (Luke xi. 24-26), of that which will be manifested in a coming day. The evil spirit of idolatry, purged out of Israel for a time, will again take possession of them (Isa. lxv.). And whilst Matthew (xii. 45) presents this in a dispensational light, furnishing his readers with the Lord's application of the parable, "Even so shall it be unto this wicked generation," Luke, by omitting that, suggests an application of it to the individuals of that nation who side not with Christ. For it is obvious that the parable cannot apply to all men, but only to those who, professing to have been delivered from demoniacal power, afterward relapse into it. Then the last state of that man becomes worse than the first.

Who are Blessed? — The common people, we read on another occasion, heard the Lord gladly (Mark xii. 37). He spake in a way they could understand, for the profit of all was His object. And now we learn that one at least in the crowd was struck with His words. A woman lifted up her voice, and said unto Him, "Blessed is the womb that bare Thee, and the breasts which Thou didst suck." True, all generations shall call her blessed. But blessing was not confined to her, so the Lord at once replied, "Yea, rather blessed are they that hear the word of God, and keep it" (Luke xi. 27, 28). Blessing there was for that woman in the crowd. Blessing, too, for each one who hears and keeps the Divine Word. The woman thought of His mother. He showed what He desired for that woman, and for all.

The Sign. — And now, with the multitudes gathered together, the Lord dealt with the request already made for a sign. It is significant that such a request was made more than once (Matt. xii. 38 xvi. 1) by those opposed to Him. Signs in plenty (John ii. 23) the Lord had given. His works were well known, and attested that the Father had sent Him (John v. 36). But persistent unbelievers would make God responsible for their sin, professing their inability to believe owing to the insufficiency of the evidence as yet provided. Now the people referred to by Luke, tempting the Lord, as we read, sought of Him a sign from heaven. But they knew not with whom they had to do. He whom they approached with their request read their hearts and searched them through and through. So He began to say, "This is an evil generation; they seek a sign, and there shall no sign be given it, but the sign of Jonas. For as Jonas was a sign to the Ninevites, so shall also the Son of man be to this generation" (Luke xi. 29, 30). Jonas was a sign to the Ninevites. His presence among them betokened impending judgment, to be averted only by their repentance. So was it with that generation. The Son of man was to that generation what Jonas had been to the people of Nineveh. Now, the Ninevites had repented. But the people in the Lord's day, as a people, had not. They were neither attracted to the Lord, the King of Israel, as the Queen of Sheba had been to Solomon; nor did they listen to the prophet of Deut. xviii. 15, as the Ninevites had hearkened to Jonas. So their case was a sad one. For "a queen of the south," the Lord declared, "shall rise up in the judgment with the men of this generation, and shall condemn them: for she came from the utmost parts of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon; and, behold, a greater than Solomon is here." "The men of Nineveh," too, He went on to say, "shall rise up in the judgment with this generation, and shall condemn it: for they repented at the preaching of Jonas; and behold a greater than Jonas is here" (Luke xi. 30-32). Gentiles on a coming day will condemn by their conduct in the past that favoured generation, which saw and heard the Lord; but refused to be attracted by Him, or to be obedient to Him. And, solemn as it is, the judgment in that coming day they will find cannot be averted.

A Light. — And here follows a warning. A lighted lamp is useful if placed on a stand, so that those coming in may see the light. But to put it in a cellar, or under a bushel, is to nullify its usefulness. Its purpose, its use, is to give light to those around. So should it be with them. "The lamp of the body is thine eye: when thine eye is single thy whole body also is full of light; but when it is evil, thy body, also is full of darkness. Take heed [or, look] therefore, that the light which is in thee be not darkness. If thy whole body therefore be full of light, having no part dark, the whole shall be full of light, as when the lamp with its bright shining doth give thee light." The nation and the individuals of it should really have been, what they prided themselves on being, a light of them that were in darkness (Rom. ii. 19). But it was otherwise. The light within was darkness, and, where that was the case, how great was that darkness

Dining with a Pharisee. — As the Lord spake, a Pharisee, whose name is unknown to us, asked Him to dine with him. He went in, and sat down to meat. Invited, as we see, to different houses, by Pharisees and others, the Lord accepted their invitations. On this occasion He sat down to eat just as He was, and His host, seeing that, marvelled that He had not first washed before dinner. It would appear that His entertainer was not satisfied with quietly observing, but gave expression to his astonishment; and thus afforded the Lord an opportunity of showing up the folly of the principle on which they acted. "Now do ye Pharisees make clean the outside of the cup and the platter; but your inward part is full of ravening [or, extortion] and wickedness. Ye fools, did not He that made that which is without make that which is within also? But rather give alms of such things as ye have [or as R.V., for alms, those things which are therein],* and behold all things are clean unto you."

{*This passage has exercised commentators. Some, with the A.V., would translate the words to enonta by "what ye have." Meyer and others refer it to the cup and the platter, what is in them. To this the R.V. seems to point. Alford refers it to the vessel, i.e., the man himself. Wordsworth combines the two: "Give what is within your vessels, i.e., your meat and drink, in charity — the opposite of rapacity, by which they are too often acquired. Give your heart." In this, as in most cases of difficulty, the simplest interpretation is the best. The R.V, is more literal here.}

Six Woes. — And now, at that Pharisee's festive board, the Lord delivered Himself concerning the hollow profession of both Pharisees and lawyers. Three woes were especially directed against the former, and three against the latter. The former, punctilious and ostentatious in the performance of small duties, neglected the weightier matters of judgment and the love of God (ver. 42). To give tithes was right, but judgment (see Psalm xxxvii. 30, 31) and the love of God should not be overlooked. Now, their practice was in keeping with a love of exaltation amongst men (ver. 43), and with a satisfaction in making a good appearance before their fellows (ver. 44). How ensnaring is that to us all naturally! On both of these the Lord pronounced a woe, addressing Himself here only to Pharisees, as the right reading of ver. 44 makes plain. For they were like hidden graves which appear not, and men that walked over them knew it not. Foul within, whatever was their outward appearance, was the Lord's judgment of them.

Turning to the lawyers, challenged as He was by one of them, "Master, thus saying Thou reproachest us also," the Lord in very plain language pronounced woes on them as well. They loaded men with burdens grievous to be borne, and yet would not themselves touch them with one of their fingers, inflicting upon and exacting from others as religious duties what they never thought of conforming to themselves. Further, they showed apparent reverence for prophets slain by their fathers. They built their sepulchres, a witness that they were the children of those who had killed them, and all the while they consented to the deeds of their fathers, in that professedly honouring the prophets they gave no heed to their reproofs. Their fathers' sins they proclaimed in building the sepulchres. Their fathers' iniquity they consented unto, seeing that they hearkened not to the teaching of the prophets, practically refusing their claim to have been Divine messengers, and therefore virtually justifying their fathers' deeds in killing them. "Therefore," added the Lord, "said the wisdom of God, I will send them prophets and Apostles, and some of them they shall slay and persecute: That the blood of all the prophets, which was shed from the foundation of the world, may be required of this generation; from the blood of Abel unto the blood of Zacharias,* which perished between the altar and the temple: verily I say unto you, It shall be required of this generation" (Luke xi. 49-51). As with Babylon (Rev. xviii. 24), so with the Jews, the sins of former ages would be visited on them. Those professedly in the place of testimony, but not responding to it, will suffer for the sins of their fathers in rejecting God's testimony in that day when Divine vengeance is poured out on the earth. The Jews proved that in the destruction of Jerusalem, Babylon will experience it in the future. For of governmental dealing the Lord here speaks, and not of the judgment at the great white throne. The key of knowledge those lawyers took away, so woes had to be pronounced on them.

{*Zechariah, the son of Jehoiada, was slain in the court of the temple (2 Chron. xxiv. 21). It was a most barbarous murder, and was long remembered with horror by the Jews, and his blood was said to "bubble on the stones of the court, like blood newly shed, until the temple was entered just prior to its destruction, by Nebuzaradan." (Speaker's "Commentary on Chronicles.") His dying words, "The Lord look on it, and require it," have a meaning indeed when read in the light of the Lord's reference to His death.}

The Wisdom of God. — "The wisdom of God," the Lord had said. Here only in the New Testament is wisdom said to speak. There was a fitness in the expression now used. Wisdom speaks in the Old Testament (Prov. viii.) to warn men, that the simple should understand wisdom, and the fools might be of an understanding heart. Wisdom speaks in the New Testament (Luke xi. 49) to announce the hopelessness of fools being warned, and the consequent certainty of the impending judgment. Hopeless indeed it was, and the proof of that was patent. For "when He was come out from thence," as Luke probably wrote (ver. 53), "the scribes and the Pharisees began to press upon Him vehemently, and to provoke Him to speak of many things; laying wait for Him to catch something out of His mouth" (vers. 53, 54). Wisdom's words they rejected, so their calamity would come upon them (Prov. i. 20-31).

Disciples warned. — What, then, were the faithful disciples to do in the midst of such people? This was a necessary and an important question, to the solution of which the Lord now turned attention, and that in the most public way. For when there were many thousands of the multitude gathered together, — "myriads," wrote Luke, a crowd so compact that they trode one upon another, — "He began to say unto His disciples first of all, Beware ye of the leaven of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy." What He here meant by leaven is explained to us. It was hypocrisy. The hypocrite attempts to conceal something from the eyes of others by presenting a false appearance.* He comes in a garb which is not his really. He feigns to be what he is not. To God that is hateful. Sooner or later hypocrisy is stripped of its mask, and is seen before all in its true character. "There is nothing covered up," so we should translate, "that shall not be revealed; and hid, that shall not be known. Therefore whatsoever ye have spoken in darkness shall be heard in the light; and that which ye have spoken in the ear in closets shall be proclaimed upon the house-tops" (Luke xii. 2, 3). The reader will doubtless call to mind what is said in viii. 17. But the statements are not the same. There the Lord is encouraging the disciples to be faithful in service, and to profit by His teaching. Here He is warning against hypocrisy. So in viii. 17 we have, "Take heed how ye hear." Here we read, "whatsoever ye have said," etc. Keeping these two words in mind, hear, and said, the reader will have a clue to the two passages.

{*Hypocrite, hypocrites, from the verb hypocrinomai, to represent another, as the ancient players did under a mask, hence to counterfeit, feign. So the noun hypocrites, used properly of a stage player, came to mean a counterfeit, a dissembler. In Luke xx. 20, spies came to the Lord feigning themselves hypocrinomenous, just men.}

Further, the disciples must be prepared to face the enmity of that sect, and to brave it if they would be true to the Lord. Hostility to God and to Christ the Pharisees were displaying. Persecution, then, even unto death, the disciples might expect. Hence to the future beyond earth the Lord points them. And that would give boldness, and nerve them for conflict. Men look at the present, and are often dismayed. Bring in the future, and what a difference! It is like the bright light of the sun, penetrating the thick mist which has surrounded one. In a moment objects dimly seen, and which through the mist were unduly magnified, appear in their true proportions; and the field of vision, hitherto restricted to that which just surrounded us, becomes enlarged, and we survey very distant objects. So is it when the future is before us. Hence the Lord continued, "And I say unto you my friends, Be not afraid of them that kill the body, and after that have no more that they can do. But I will forewarn you whom ye shall fear: Fear Him, which after He hath killed hath power to cast into hell [or, Gehenna]; yea, I say unto you, Fear Him." The field of vision is here enlarged, and in spirit we survey what lies beyond the bounds of earth. To fear God, and not to fear man, was to characterise them. God cares for His own. Creatures, birds which are of small account to men, He remembers; and the very hairs on the head of each disciple He numbers. How minute His observation! Then let them trust Him with all their concerns, and confess Christ before men. And here again the future is brought in, and this time by way of encouragement. Their responsibilities the Lord had just pressed on them. There was One who could cast into Gehenna, for God's power was not bounded, like that of man's, by temporal death. He has power over the creature after death. Now, the Lord proceeds to encourage them to be faithful by the assurance that whosoever should confess Him before men, He would confess before the angels of God. What favour will this be! On the other hand, the Lord added: "He that denieth Me before men, shall be denied before the angels of God" (vers. 8, 9). Boldness or persistent cowardice here will be remembered, and noted on another day; and that in the most public manner possible. Positive blessing, or the reverse, the disciples are here told about. And further, if brought before ruling powers for Christ's sake, they were not to be taking thought what they should say; "for," He added, "the Holy Ghost shall teach you in the same hour what ye ought to say" (ver. 12).

How graciously does He encourage them! The path of the true disciple with such surroundings could not be a smooth one. Hypocritical professors, and those in authority might, and in the Apostles' case would, be against them. Whom to fear, whom to confess, are plainly set before them. Of God's minute care of His own are they reminded. And who would teach them how to answer their opponents is also revealed. God, the Son of man, and the Holy Ghost would each and all be occupied with them. And if, like Stephen, quite alone confronting a crowd of enraged adversaries, the Holy Ghost would teach them, as we see He taught him, how to answer (Acts vi. 10). What a wonderful and blessed thing it is to be a true disciple and confessor of Christ! The court of heaven will one day bear of the faithfulness of such when here below. Fools the world might call them. Who are real fools we are now to learn.

A Fool. — For of other dangers had they need to be warned. Now, since persecution, which might be even unto death, was in the path of the disciples, the earthly inheritance, so precious to the Jew, was not to be the object of pursuit by the followers of the Lord. There was a better portion above. Teaching about this next comes out, drawn forth by a request from one in the crowd. "Teacher, speak to my brother, that he divide the inheritance with me" (Luke xii. 13-15). According to the law, the firstborn had the right to a double portion, but that was all (Deut. xxi. 15-17). What were the special circumstances of this case have not been revealed. But the Lord immediately warns all against covetousness, "for a man's life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth." How this man may remind us of Ezek. xxxiii. 31, hearing the word of the Lord, but the heart all the time going after covetousness!

The heavenly calling the Lord was setting forth, but the man had not understood that. He was thinking about his rights here, and of possessions in this world, things nothing wrong in themselves; for God had given to Israel an inheritance on earth. But there was something more important. So the Lord, in answering him, disclaimed the office of a judge or a divider in such matters, and uttered the parable of a rich man who was a fool. For, intent on amassing wealth and substance here, this one forgot God, to find out, when too late, his folly and his mistake. He was a fool. God says so. He was laying up treasures on earth, which he could not keep, and was not rich toward God. Suddenly his life was required of him, and the wealthy man of earth entered the other world to be poor for eternity. Real wealth, the being rich toward God — of that he was destitute. A fool indeed! How that parable acted on the man whose petition called it forth is left unnoticed. How it can act on us is an important question, for each concerned.

Lessons from Nature. — Another danger needed to be exposed. We are such foolish, unbelieving creatures, carrying a load of anxious care, which God has never laid upon us. "Therefore," the Lord continued, "take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat; neither yet for the body, what ye shall put on. The life is more than meat, and the body more than raiment" (Luke xii. 22, 23). So far the precept. The Lord will now turn attention to things of nature — the ravens, and the lilies of the field. Of food and of clothing He had spoken; and the ravens and the lilies could teach men about such wants. Surely many of us walk about little discerning what lessons we may learn from nature. How often did the Lord draw instruction from natural objects, and from operations in nature! And well He might, for the God of creation is the God of revelation. There is but one living and true God. Hence His ways in nature may have a voice for us His creatures. The ravens He cares for, which are wholly dependent on Him, though they have no treasured resources against the future. Storehouse or barn they have not, but daily is their food provided. "God feedeth them." Then the lilies grow, though they neither toil nor spin; and Solomon in all his glory, wealthy though he was, and with men and substance at his command, was not arrayed like one of them. What, then, is to be the deduction? We are not left to draw it. The Lord has stated it: "If then God so clothe the grass, which is to-day in the field, and to-morrow is cast into the oven," so transient may be its existence, "how much more will He clothe you, O ye of little faith?" (Luke xii. 28). Encouragement to trust God may be strengthened within us, as we watch the birds, or admire the flowers and the grass of the field.

But beside teaching from analogy respecting food and clothing, the disciples were reminded of a contrast that should be maintained between them and the nations of the world, who were not in relationship with God. Seeking after the supply of their temporal wants characterised the latter, but God, who fed the ravens, was the Father of all true disciples of Christ, and knew perfectly that which was needed by His children. We do well to mark here the change of language, for it is instructive. Speaking of the ravens, and of the lilies, the Lord spoke of God. God feedeth. God clotheth. He is only in the relation of Creator to them. But speaking to the disciples, He spoke of God as their Father. They were not only creatures of God, but children of God. Now, if God cares for His creatures, animate and inanimate, will He not provide for those who are in the double relation to Him of creatures and children? So here the truth of the Father is brought forward, "your Father knoweth that ye have need of these things." The nations of the world sought after them, as those who had to shift for themselves, and as if dependent entirely on their own resources. The disciples were to act differently. "Rather seek ye His [i.e. the Father's] kingdom," so we should here read, "and these things shall be added unto you." And that kingdom they should have, a free gift from Him. So the Lord proceeds, "Fear not, little flock; for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom." Rich, indeed, would they be. But the kingdom is not an earthly one. "Sell," then He adds, "that ye have, and give alms; provide yourselves bags which wax not old, a treasure in the heavens that faileth not, where no thief approacheth, neither moth corrupteth. For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also" (Luke xii. 29-34).

The Watching Servant. — The kingdom in power it became evident was a future one, for they were to seek it. And the King of God's kingdom (Col. i. 13) was addressing them both as children of the Father, and as His own servants likewise. So He now tells them what they should be as servants. They should be waiting, or looking, for their Lord. They should be working, too, during His absence. For of His departure from earth for a time, before they could have the kingdom, He here warns them. Hence watching for His return, for He will return having received the kingdom (Luke xix. 15), was to mark them, like servants who with girded loins and lighted lamps await an earthly master's return from a wedding feast, ready at any moment to open the door to him. It is an illustration from ordinary life that we here have, and no reference to the marriage supper of the Lamb of Rev. xix. 7-9. So, in perfect harmony with the teaching elsewhere of the Lord's return for His own without any premonitory signs (1 Cor. xv. 52), disciples are admonished to keep themselves in readiness. Blessed would they be, who should thus be found watching. And wonderful favour and honour would be theirs, a favour which no mere servant of an earthly master could look for. The Lord will minister to such. For, girding Himself for service, He will make these, who had been girded whilst waiting for Him, sit down to meat, and He will come forth and serve them. Sudden will be His return. It may be in the second watch, or in the third watch. He does not here speak of the fourth. For it will be whilst the night is still going on, ere daylight begins to light up the scene, that He will come for His own. Hence to be ready, not knowing the hour of His return, He would impress on us all.

The Working Servant. — But watchfulness is not to be synonymous with idleness. Working is to characterise the servants (1 Cor. xv. 58), and this the Lord inculcated in answer to Peter's question, "Speakest Thou this parable unto us, or even to all?" If really watching for their Lord, the servants will be working likewise. The expectation of His return was to stimulate them to work. For there was the danger lest any should say, "My Lord delayeth His coming." Then carelessness and idleness would creep in. Has not this been the case in the Church of God? So the Master would encourage the working one, and warn the idle one. "Who then is the faithful and wise steward, whom his Lord shall make ruler over His household to give them their portion of meat in due season? Blessed is that servant whom his Lord when He cometh shall find so doing. Of a truth I say unto you, that He will make him ruler over all that He hath." Blessed is the watching servant. Blessed is the working one. Rest and refreshment, with the Lord's personal, gracious, lowly ministry, will that one prove; and ruling over all that his Master has, will be his public reward. "But, and if that servant say in his heart, My Lord delayeth His coming; and shall begin to beat the menservants and maidens, and to eat and drink, and to be drunken: the Lord of that servant will come in a day when he looketh not for Him, and at an hour when he is not aware, and will cut him in sunder, and will appoint him his portion with the unbelievers." Judgment, then, there is in the future for any unfaithful servant — judgment after death, and that without hope of any remission. That servant's portion will be with the unbelievers. The mere professor will find himself with avowed unbelievers. A part with Christ saints will enjoy. Part with unbelievers, and that in the lake of fire (Rev. xxi. 8), is the future portion of the evil servant. And heavy punishment will be his lot. For punishment, we learn, in that coming day will be meted out to each condemned one according to his responsibility (Luke xii. 41-48).

Effects of the First Advent. — We have been carried on in thought to the Lord's return in power. It was evident, therefore, since He, rejected by the scribes and Pharisees, had thus to admonish His disciples, that millennial blessing was not so near at hand. He was, and He is, the Prince of Peace (Isa. ix. 6). But the effect of His first advent was not to bring peace. On the contrary, it stirred up opposition. He had come, He said, "to send fire upon the earth; and what will I, if it be already kindled? But I have a baptism to be baptised with; and how am I straitened till it be accomplished!" (Luke xii. 49, 50). He must die; for till then all that He desired could not be brought about. Now, certainly, if He was to die the death of the Cross, His cause during His absence could not be popular in a world which had cast Him out. Hence, households, and even families, would be divided; and members of them opposed in the strongest, and we may say, in the bitterest manner. Yet though popularity would not attend His cause, it would nevertheless make its way; and disciples, and confessors would be found, who would be faithful to Him at all cost. Conflict there must be, and that of the keenest kind; yet the truth would not be stamped out. This raised a solemn question for all concerned. To a consideration of that the historian now conducts us, for from speaking to the disciples the Lord turns to address the multitude.

10. Impending Judgment (Luke xii. 54 — xiii. 35)

There was a judgment, then, near at hand. There is also one to come. The importance of the Jews rightly using their then present opportunity became, therefore, a matter of no small concern. This the Lord proceeds to impress on the crowds (for Luke informs us that His audience was a large one); and He plainly warned all, that professed inability to discern, or to interpret the time, would not be accepted on high as a valid excuse for rejection of Him. They could look at a cloud arising from the west, and draw a right conclusion from its appearance. They noticed the quarter from whence the wind blew, and foretold in consequence the approach of heat. "Hypocrites," He adds, "ye know how to discern [or, interpret] the face of the sky and of the earth, but how do ye not interpret this time?" If the signs of coming atmospheric changes they understood, and read aright, why did they not of themselves judge what was right? (Luke xii. 54-57).

The Lord was in their midst in humiliation. That was their opportunity. If they let it slip, irreversible punishment would be their lot. They were like men in danger of being summoned before a judicial tribunal, who had no answer to give, to ward off the deserved punishment, and whose only hope lay in getting reconciled to their accuser ere they stood before the judge. Once that stage was reached, nothing but judgment could be expected, and a punishment which would only end with the payment of the whole debt. Mercy would not be found at the bar of judgment. In the sermon on the mount the Lord used language similar to that which we have here. Then He was pressing on disciples the importance of reconciliation with an adversary. Here, He is teaching the multitudes a similar lesson in view of the judgment impending on the nation. The occasion was different. But in both He reminds His hearers that at the judgment seat, whether of man or of God, no mercy can be expected by those who are brought to it as guilty: whilst, then, they had the opportunity, let them use it.

A Common Mistake. — In connection with this line of instruction we next learn of two events which had taken place in Jerusalem, neither of which has found a place, it seems, in profane history. Pilate, the Roman governor, had killed some Galileans, engaged in the act, apparently, of sacrificing. God, whom they were outwardly worshipping in the appointed way, had not protected them. God's altar was no refuge for them (Ex. xxi, 14). Their blood had been mingled with their sacrifices. Then, too, the tower in Siloam had fallen upon eighteen men, and had crushed them to death. Were these special marks of Divine displeasure? Some, perhaps, thought so. But they were wrong. Those Galileans, and those inhabitants of Jerusalem, who met with an untimely death, were not worse than others. Sinners they were, but not worse than others in the metropolis of Judaism. Men might draw their conclusions, and often, as in these cases, erroneous ones. The Lord would impress on all the true lesson, "Except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish" (Luke xiii. 1-5). Those events had a voice for the living, and concerned not only the dead.

A Parable. — And this the Lord proceeded to enforce by the parable of the barren fig-tree. For three years the owner of the vineyard, in which it was planted, had come seeking for fruit, but found none. It was planted there to bear fruit. A fig-tree, barren year after year, was evidently useless to its owner. The object for its continuance was defeated by its barrenness. For three years that state had remained unchanged, and there was no sign of improvement discernible. Hence to be cut down was the natural treatment to be looked for. This the owner of the vineyard gave orders to the vine-dresser to do. Who could wonder? Patiently had it been borne with. With persistent barrenness was that patience requited. But now the vine-dresser speaks: "Lord, let it alone this year also, till I shall dig about it and dung it: and if it bear fruit thenceforth,* well but if not, thou shalt cut it down" (Luke xiii. 6-9).

{*So Tischendorf, Tregelles, Alford, Westcott and Hort, followed by the Revisers.}

Such was the parable. The interpretation is to us plain. The fig-tree is one which, like the almond, shows its blossom before the leaves shoot forth so if in foliage, a promise of fruit may be expected. Hence it is an apt emblem of profession. The Jews were like a fig-tree. Much profession there was, answering to the foliage of the tree, which at once strikes the eye of a beholder, but no fruit. For three years of the Lord's ministry had God been looking for fruit from the people, but in vain. They had not hearkened to the prophet like unto Moses (Deut. xviii. 15-19). They were unfruitful. Delay was then asked, to see if yet they would be obedient. It was the closing time of God's forbearance with them. If they neglected their opportunity there was nothing but national judgment to overtake them. As with the fig-tree, so with them would it be. "Cut it down," was the word about the fig-tree. Mark, not root it up. For the nation in the godly remnant of the future will spring up, and be very fruitful. Who could question the righteousness of the decree against the fig-tree? Who could arraign the justice of God in dealing in judgment with that generation?

The Crooked made Straight. — But was there any hope of a change in them? An incident, which took place in the synagogue on a Sabbath-day, made it abundantly evident that there was none. A woman, bowed with a spirit of infirmity, was present. For eighteen years had that poor creature been unable to straighten herself. Demoniacal power (for it was a spirit of infirmity) thus tyrannised over her, and men were powerless to prevent it. Who that had not a heart of stone but would pity her, and rejoice over her liberation? But nothing acts with more hardening power than zeal for traditional teaching. The Lord on this occasion saw her, and called her, and said to her, "Woman, thou art loosed from thine infirmity. And He laid His hands on her: and immediately she was made straight, and glorified God." God got glory in the synagogue that day, and that from a poor and once heavily afflicted creature, in whose person was illustrated both the power of a demon and the greater and beneficent power of God.

The Lord had spoken. The woman, too, had spoken. Now the ruler of the synagogue opened his mouth. From the Lord had come the welcome announcement of her deliverance. From her lips poured forth a tribute of praise to God. To God she gave the glory not to her Deliverer. Had it been to the latter, one could better have understood the anger of the ruler, arising, as it might in that case have been supposed, from ignorance about the Person of the Lord. Glorifying God, however, who could object to? Who, too, could find fault with that which produced it? Now the ruler spoke, for he could not remain a silent witness of what had gone on. The woman was healed. She was made straight. None could doubt it. What, then, was the ruler's desire? To give a hearty amen to the healed one's thanksgiving? Nothing of the kind. He addressed the people, not God, and that with indignation. "There are six days in which men ought to work: in them therefore come and be healed, and not on the Sabbath-day" (Luke xiii. 14). The man was angry because the Lord had healed her on the Sabbath-day. An indignant synagogue ruler in the presence of the God of grace, the God of Israel! Indignant, and why? Because a poor, afflicted creature was made straight on the Sabbath-day. Had she asked for it? Not a word of that is there in the narrative. The Lord saw her, and spoke to her, as He had on a former occasion to the man with a withered hand (vi. 8).

The ruler had addressed the people, yet he covertly attacked the Lord. He would take his stand on the law (Ex. xx. 9), and hinder, if need be, by the law Divine activity in grace, turning the commandment given by God to Israel against the God of Israel Himself and attempting what was unblushingly elsewhere avowed (John v. 16; ix. 16), — to fix on the Lord Jesus the stigma of being a Sabbath-breaker. True, that ruler did not address Him, nor did he mention Him by name. But his language, recorded by the evangelist, "There are six days in which men ought to work," pointed to, a condemnation of the Lord; for He, not the woman, had been working that day. Improvement in the nation was hopeless. The presence of the Lord in grace affected not the rulers, save as in this case to fill them with indignation; and God, if they had their way, would be debarred from healing a poor creature, because it was the Sabbath-day! Traditional teaching they would invoke to limit the action of the Holy One of Israel.

The ruler had freedom to express himself. Now the Lord speaks again: "Ye hypocrites," so we should read — for a class was addressed and not that ruler only, who was but the mouthpiece of others — "Ye hypocrites: doth not each one of you on the Sabbath loose his ox or his ass from the stall, and lead him away to watering? And ought not this woman, being a daughter of Abraham" (therefore of the privileged race), "whom Satan hath bound, lo, these eighteen years, to have been loosed from this bond on the Sabbath-day?" (xiii. 15, 16). How preposterous to urge the sanctity of the day against delivering a human creature from Satanic power, when that sanctity was not infringed upon in their eyes by caring for the wants of their animals! Was it wrong to do the latter? By no means. Then à fortiori, it could not be so to do the former. Their practice, where their own temporal interests were concerned, showed the unreality of the ruler's objection, and the groundlessness of his indignation. How easily, and how effectually, did the Lord refute the hypocrites! The effect is noticed. "All His adversaries were ashamed: and all the people rejoiced for all the glorious things that were done by Him." That ruler gained nothing by his move. The people rejoiced, whilst that ruler's hypocrisy, and that of all who supported him, was unmasked, in a way the most illiterate could understand. A moral question that ruler tried to raise in order to condemn the Lord before all. A very old device, which here signally failed. There was a moral question, and it came out, into the light of day, as rank hypocrisy was unmasked, and those convicted of it were put to shame. Works of mercy they owned could be lawfully done on that day. Was that woman not better than an ox or an ass? Was the devil to afflict a poor creature because it was the Sabbath? "Satan hath bound," it should be remarked, the Lord said. Yet it was a spirit of infirmity from which she suffered. A demon had possessed her, not the devil, for demons are an order of beings distinct from him who fell. We read not that they fell. But we have it here on the highest authority that they are under Satan's directions, for what they do is said to be done by him.

Two Parables. — The state of the nation was manifest. Rejection of the Lord, and opposition to the testimony of God in that day, were but too apparent. Repentance, too, on the part of the men of that generation, it was hopeless to expect. Judicial dealing, of which they had been already warned (xiii. 1-9), was certain to take place, and the Jews would lose thereby their place in the eyes of men as God's professing people upon earth, when their city should be taken, they be led captive, and their polity and worship be put an end to by the will of the conqueror. Would religious profession be swept away and disappear from earth, when pagan arms should lay Jerusalem low? No! for the kingdom of God, already existing, would come to embrace the whole professing company of God's people here below. A professing body they would be, but not bounded by the limits of Judaism. The kingdom, as the Lord had previously intimated, would embrace many who had no natural connection with Abraham (Matt. viii. 11). Of the kingdom's appearance as men would see it He now speaks in the two parables which follow; the former of which both Matthew and Mark relate as well as Luke, whilst the latter is only elsewhere found in the gospel of Matthew.

On a previous occasion both these parables had been uttered, as we gather from Matt. xiii. 1, and Mark iv. 33. First spoken on the day preceding that memorable night when the Lord and His disciples crossed the sea to set the two Gadarene demoniacs at liberty, they were, we believe, repeated at the time that Luke introduces them, as intimating what it was that would be seen on earth when the sun of Judaism should be eclipsed. God would still be working amongst men, but in a new way, and irrespective of race or locality. Reading these parables, we cannot fail to observe that both are presented in a shorter form than that which we find elsewhere. This will excite no surprise, nor raise any difficulty, if we believe they were first spoken on an earlier occasion. Of profession they both treat. The former points out the spread and growth of that profession, starting from a very small beginning; so the simile is that of a grain of mustard seed,* very small in itself, but which becomes quite a tree, in which the birds of the air can find a resting-place. The latter intimates that the kingdom would be permeated by a generally accepted creed, a formula of doctrine just as leaven pervades the dough into which it is introduced.

{*The mustard seed is that of the Sinapis ilium, not the Salvadora Persica, as some have thought. See a little account by Mr. Carruthers, F.R.S., in "Bible Educator," vol. i. "There are traditions in Palestine," writes Mr. W. H. Groser in "Scripture Natural History," published by the Religious Tract Society, "of mustard trees into which a man could climb and Lord Claud Hamilton saw specimens in Upper Egypt higher than he could reach, and with a stem as thick as a man's arm!"}

Are not these characteristics true to the life of Christendom to-day? Has it not become a great overshadowing power, under which a shelter is found for all who seek it? From the small beginning at Pentecost how has it spread, and overshadowed a large part of the earth! Then, is there not a generally accepted system of doctrines, which pervades the whole, like leaven leavening the three measures of meal? There is the common creed of Christendom — certain doctrines generally accepted by the whole professing body. How far these doctrines are held in living power is outside the purpose of the parable to teach. It describes what all men might see, not what God, who reads hearts, would know and own. It is important to remember this; for though elsewhere leaven is generally used to describe what is evil, the point in the parable, as must be plain to a thoughtful mind, is not the moral character of that which works, but the existence of an all-pervading element. Were the former true, it would imply that the kingdom of God on earth would become wholly evil. It is sufficient to state this to see the absurdity of it, for there must always be true saints in the kingdom.

Another thing may be remarked. Whilst Christendom would become a great overshadowing power, of which a tree in prophetic Scripture is a symbol (Ezek. xxxi.), there is no thought in either of the parables that the kingdom of God, during the Lord's absence, of which these parables speak, would spread over all the earth. The mustard seed was planted in the man's garden, the leaven permeated three measures of meal; both teaching us surely of a limited area to which Christendom would after all be confined. And again we may ask, Is not this what we see to-day? We await the Lord's return in power for the kingdom of God to be established over all the earth. And that can only be consequent on the execution of Divine judgment.

The Closed Door. — To that solemn time are we next directed by the Lord's answer to a question, "Are there few that be saved?" The Lord was now going through cities and villages, teaching, and journeying towards Jerusalem, using, it would seem, the last opportunity of reaching people, if they would hear His words. Some one, whose name and whose spiritual state are alike unknown to us, put that question to Him about the class called the saved. It was purely a speculative one. He did not answer it, but sought to press on His questioner, and on all around, the importance of each one making sure that he would be found among the number of the saved. "Strive ye," was the Lord's immediate reply, "to enter in at the strait gate [or rather, door]: for many, I say unto you, will seek to enter in, and shall not be able. When once the Master of the house is risen up, and hath shut to the door, and ye begin to stand without, and to knock at the door saying, Lord, open unto us; and He shall answer and say unto you, I know you not whence ye are: then shall ye begin to say, We have eaten and drunk in Thy presence, and Thou hast taught in our streets. But He shall say, I tell you, I know you not whence ye are; depart from me, all ye workers of iniquity" (Luke xiii. 24-27).

An awfully solemn description of that which will be witnessed in the future! A company shut out, and shut out for ever from the presence of the Lord. A company anxious then to get in, which had never desired it before. But the shut door they cannot open. This is no ideal picture. For He, who spake that day, is the One who will act in the coming one. And He spake as One who had the whole scene before Him, so could describe what He knew will actually take place. And, what adds to the solemnity of it all, He spake that day as if addressing some of those who will be found outside the door: "Ye begin to stand without, and to knock at the door saying, Lord, open unto us." Their words are given, and their importunity described. Earnest, how earnest! but when too late. Aroused to the consciousness that blessedness is for them only to be found within that door; but aroused too late! Aroused to find the door for ever shut against them. "Then shall ye begin to say," etc. Does not it read as if it were a prophetic description of that which shall be in the future? Some who once enjoyed special privileges, having actually been in the Lord's company when on earth, but excluded for ever from His company when He returns in power!

Privileges once enjoyed, how will they then esteem them! But all too late. Doubts about His person, if they ever really had any, then all dispelled, and confession of Him made only when too late. They refused to profit by His ministry when they had the opportunity, and when the Lord in intense earnestness sought to press on them the value of the moment. "Strive ye," He said, "to enter in at the strait [or, narrow] door." He knew what hung on that, and if possible would arouse His hearers to understand it. "We have eaten and drunk in Thy presence, and Thou hast taught in our streets." All true — too true. But what had it profited them? What will it avail them, when He shall openly disown them? "I know you not whence ye are: depart from Me, all ye workers of iniquity," tells of the unchangeableness of His will. He will never open that door. To be owned of Him at that day, how will that be prized! The privileges once enjoyed, which they enumerate, only condemn them. They saw, they heard Him, but did not enter by the door. Do any ask what is the door? We answer in the words of the Master, "I am the door" (John x. 9). Christ is the door. We can understand, then, why it is a narrow one.

To neglect such opportunities is in God's eyes no light sin. Nor will it be then a light matter in the estimation of those shut out. For the Lord proceeds: "There shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth, when ye shall see Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, and all the prophets, in the kingdom of God, and yourselves thrust out. And they shall come from the east, and the west, and the north, and the south, and shall sit down in the kingdom of God. And, behold, there are last which shall be first, and there are first which shall be last" (Luke xiii. 28-30). Weeping and gnashing of teeth! We call attention to this phrase, elsewhere only used in the New Testament by Matthew (viii. 12; xiii. 42, 50; xxii. 13; xxiv. 51; xxv. 30), and always, it will be seen, with reference to those who have slighted the offer of grace. Gentiles will accept of grace and sit down in the kingdom with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob (Matt. viii. 11). Natural descent from Abraham, of which the Jews boasted, and in which they so much gloried, will avail them nothing if grace is rejected. And such, seeing those on whom they looked down in the kingdom with the patriarchs and the prophets, a kingdom of which they had heard, but into which they will never enter, such will weep and gnash their teeth. Everlasting sorrow and regret for their folly in rejecting in this life the proffered salvation they will then manifest.

Pharisaic Solicitude. — Of both governmental dealing with the nation, then near at hand, and of future judgment for the rejecters of grace, the Lord had now spoken. But His warnings were unheeded. Now the Pharisees, troubled, as we know they always were, at His presence; and showing on several occasions their desire to get rid of Him, advised Him, professedly for His safety, to leave the jurisdiction of Herod, lest he should kill Him (Luke xiii. 31). How unreal was this! Only too glad would they have been had the Lord been silenced by Herod the Tetrarch, as that ruler had silenced the Baptist. Man, however, can do nothing in a matter of that kind without the permission of God. Now, it was not the mind of God that the Lord should die anywhere but at Jerusalem. So He answered them, "Go ye and tell that fox, Behold, I cast out demons, and do cures to-day and to-morrow, and the third day I shall be [rather, am] perfected. Nevertheless I must walk to-day, and to-morrow, and the day following; for it cannot be that a prophet perish out of Jerusalem." Herod was like a cunning fox, anxious doubtless to get rid of the Lord. Yet, perhaps undesiring to shed innocent blood again, he employed the Pharisees to get the Lord to move out of his dominions from fear of death. Had he secretly resolved to kill Him, he would surely have kept his counsel to himself. Was the Lord afraid of him? No. If Herod had killed Him, he would have killed one who went about doing good. Did He hasten to depart? No. Did He shrink from death? He was going to die. He spoke of it. He was journeying on to the place of execution, for His death — a terrible thing for Jerusalem — could not take place but at the capital of Judaism. The blood of the prophet must be shed where the blood of so many of God's servants had been poured out. "It cannot be that a prophet perish out of Jerusalem." A solemn statement! At the headquarters of Jewish profession — there, and there only — could He die.

Jerusalem's Prospects. — Thereupon He began to speak of the near and the distant prospect of the city. The former was connected with the house being left desolate; the latter is bound up with His return to Jerusalem in power. "Left desolate," because since the Babylonish captivity the Shechinah never appeared there, nor will it till the Lord's advent in power. "Ye shall not see Me, until ye shall say," so we should read, "Blessed is He that cometh in the name of the Lord." Psalm cxviii. must have its fulfilment. For that Jerusalem waits, and meantime in Ezekiel we get all this made plain. The house was desolate, for the Divine presence had never taken possession of it since the cloud of glory in the prophet's day was seen in vision by him to leave the temple and the city (Ezek. x. 4; xi. 23). To the temple the glory will return by the same way that it left it. That, too, in vision Ezekiel saw (xliii. 2). To this last it is, Luke shows us, that the Lord here looks forward; when, as Zechariah (xiv. 4) has written, "His feet shall stand upon the Mount of Olives." Till then Jehovah will not dwell in the city, nor reinhabit the house. We say the house, because in God's eyes it is only one house, however often it may be rebuilt. One understands, then, the force of the expression left desolate, as we read actually in Matthew (xxiii. 38), and must conclude is the meaning of Luke.* The prophet, then, would be killed; but by Him, and Him alone, Jerusalem will centuries later be finally blessed. For that He must return in person. For that the city and nation have to wait.

{*The word "desolate," it is for the most part agreed, should be left out of the text in Luke. The sense, however, as the Revisers rightly indicate, requires it to be understood.}

We have referred the reader to Matthew xxiii. 38, where we have the same lamentation pronounced over Jerusalem. Are we to infer that the Lord pronounced it but once, so that Luke has misplaced it? We believe not. It appears in this gospel closely connected with the Lord's statement, not elsewhere recorded, "It cannot be that a prophet perish out of Jerusalem." It comes in Matthew very naturally in connection with the Lord's denunciations of the scribes and Pharisees. In neither place could the most captious critic reasonably question the suitableness of its introduction. We believe that the Lord uttered this lamentation twice, the first time as Luke records, the last when He was at Jerusalem just previous to His crucifixion. And His doing that twice would be quite in character with the love of which He speaks, and the sorrow of heart which He displays.

Much, however, has to take place ere He returns in power. The Shepherd of Israel was rejected. God would, therefore, work in other ways in the interval between His rejection and His return. A work of grace was to go forward on earth, such as the world had never known, to gather out saints for heaven, destined to people the throne of Christ, and to reign for ever and ever (Dan. vii. 18; Rev. xxii. 5). To that work we are next directed, to learn Divine teaching about grace, whilst Israel were to be disowned nationally by God, and the kingdom in power upon earth was still to be awaited, though with the certainty of its establishment.

Led up to this last, as we have seen, in the Transfiguration of the Lord on the mount (ix.), Israel's condition in the Lord's day, which justified their being for a time cast off, we have found detailed in chapters x. to xiii.; which leaves the platform clear for our evangelist to set forth in a new section (xiv. to xvii. 19), and in a way almost peculiar to himself, teaching from the lips of the Lord Jesus on that most attractive subject, Divine grace to the guilty, who were also spiritually dead.

11. Grace (Luke xiv. — xvii. 19)

The great theme of grace naturally divides itself into two parts, the one teaching us about those who share in it, the other telling us of God, who shows it. These may be classified respectively as subjective and objective.

From the lips of the Lord Jesus we are now taught about both; and Luke begins with the subjective (xiv.), ere going forward to the objective (xv.) part of the subject.

The Dropsical Man. — Into a Pharisee's house the Lord had entered on the Sabbath-day to eat bread. And that Pharisee was one of the rulers, but his name has not been recorded in the pages of inspiration. Of his previous and of his subsequent history we are therefore ignorant. His sentiments, too, are equally unknown to us. He received the Lord, having most probably invited Him. He heard Him address the company. He listened likewise to the word especially addressed to himself; yet, as far as we know, without uttering one word in reply to all that fell from the lips of his guest, which was not a little. For the reader will see that the incidents related to the close of the 24th verse of the fourteenth chapter all took place under that roof, and doubtless in the presence and within the hearing of the host.

Now, in that house was a man who had the dropsy. How he came to be present is not explained. He was before the Lord, is all that we know; and the Lord's enemies, as on another and a like occasion (vi. 7), were watching Him, as He well knew. So He "answering spake unto the lawyers and Pharisees saying, Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath-day, or not?"* (xiv. 3). On the previous occasion, already referred to, the Lord had asked the same question, to which then, as now, no answer was given. "They held their peace." Did He wait till they would decide that question? Was the dropsical man to bear his affliction till the lawyers and the Pharisees chose to sanction his healing? The Lord took him, healed him, and let him go. And now He put to these same people another question: "Which of you shall have an ass [or, as very many read, a son]** or an ox fallen into a well, and will not straightway pull him up on the Sabbath-day?" Silence still reigned among His adversaries. For "they could not," Luke remarks, "answer again to these things." How easily, but how effectively, was their hypocrisy unmasked! They would seek to impose a yoke on others, to which, where their own interests were concerned, they would not for a moment submit. But is that all we can learn? Are we just to read this little incident, to take note of the lawyers and Pharisees being silenced? There is positive instruction in it for us all, as we learn that Divine grace will not be hindered in its outflow by human regulations. For whensoever may be the need, then it is quite in season for God, if it please Him, to meet it.

{*We have added "or not" on the authority of B, D, L, and the Codex Sinaiticus, followed by Tischendorf, Tregelles, Alford, and Westcott and Hort, and adopted by the Revised Version.}

{**"Son," for "ass," is the reading of many uncial MSS., and is followed by nearly all the chief editors.}

A Word to the Guests. — Of the dropsical man we hear no more. But next the guests at the table are addressed in parabolic language (7-10). Self, and the gratification of self, governed them, for they chose out for themselves the chief seats. Now there, as elsewhere, where they might be as guests, such conduct was very unbecoming. It was favour, or grace, which moved the host to invite them. It was their place, then, to let him appoint to each one his seat. If they would take a seat, let them take the lowest, leaving it to the one who had invited them to give them a better. That was the conduct suitable for those who were subjects of grace. And if in natural things that was becoming, how much more is that suited for the subjects of Divine grace? "For whosoever exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted."

A Word to the Host. — But who are the fitting subjects for grace? A most important question, when Divine grace is flowing out so freely. A word to the host illustrates this, as the Lord told him: "When thou makest a dinner or a supper, call not thy friends, nor thy brethren, neither thy kinsmen, nor thy rich neighbours; lest they also bid thee again, and a recompense be made thee. But when thou makest a feast, call the poor, the maimed, the lame, and the blind: and thou shalt be blessed; for they cannot recompense thee: for thou shalt be recompensed at the resurrection of the just" (xiv. 12-14). The fitting subjects of grace are those who have real need of it. To such God shows it, as we learn further on. And acting on that principle, men would be displaying the character of God before the world, and would have God's approval manifested to them at the resurrection of the just.

The Resurrection of the Just. — For there are two resurrections of which the Lord could speak, and before this had taught (John v. 28, 29), the one to life, the other to judgment. The former concerns the just, the latter the unjust (Acts xxiv. 15). By the former will be fully perfected the resurrection from the dead, of which the Lord is the firstfruits (1 Cor. xv. 23), and which is called elsewhere (Rev. xx. 5, 6) the first resurrection. And all who shall share in that, i.e. all the heavenly saints who have died, will come forth from the tomb ere He comes in power. Not one of the just will remain sleeping in the grave during His millennial reign. Not so with the unjust. All of them who will have died before the second advent takes place will remain, as far as their bodies are concerned, in the grave, to be called forth only after the thousand years of His reign over earth, and raised then for judgment (Rev. xx. 5).

Parable of the Supper. — The resurrection of the just, then, is closely connected with, but precedes the establishment of the kingdom of God in power and in display, for all that class will reign with the Lord for a thousand years (Rev. xx. 4). So one of the company, carried on in thought by the Lord's words, exclaimed, "Blessed is he that shall eat bread in the kingdom of God!" (Luke xiv. 15). True indeed. But who will share in that is the important question, and in such a matter it will not do to rest in generalities. Nor would God leave any one to rest satisfied with such. So the Lord forthwith spake a parable to warn the company against shutting themselves out from blessing. For, if excluded, it would be by their own act. "A certain man," we read, "made a great supper, and bade many: and sent his servant at supper time to say to them that were bidden, Come; for all things are now ready." The Son of God was here opening up to men the desire and purpose of God. A great supper, and many bidden, tells of the largeness of God's heart. Sending the servant to say all things were ready, speaks of the desire to welcome and make glad those who were invited, and that not only in the fullest but in the most free way. All was ready. The invited guests had only to show their willingness, and come. That they would not do. Excuses were sent by each one, as being preoccupied in temporal concerns. Now, there was nothing sinful in the occupation of any of them. It was not wrong to buy a field or yokes of oxen, and to wish to examine the purchase. It was in perfect accord, too, with the Divine provision for the creature's earthly happiness, that a man should marry, and care for his wife. But the urging these pleas as valid excuses for not responding to a previously given invitation, indicated their unwillingness to share in the great supper to which they had been invited. They were indifferent to the desires, and to the favour of the master of the feast. So the servant had to return, and to give an account of his fruitless errand. The oxen, the field, were more to their purchasers than the invitation which they now openly slighted. They had no heart to respond to the favour offered them.

The indifference of the invited guests thus unmistakably manifested, the feelings of the master of the feast are made known. He was angry — who could wonder? Who would not justify him? But was he to be deprived of his joy of having his table furnished with guests? No; if those first called slighted the offer, others should have the opportunity of sharing in the feast. So he said to his servant, "Go out quickly into the streets and lanes of the city, and bring in hither the poor, and the maimed, and the blind, and the lame"; the same classes, it will be observed, as were spoken of in verse 13, but to be applied here in a moral sense. It was done: such were gathered in. Then the servant returned to his master and reported the carrying out of his commands. "Lord [or, Sir], what," as we should read, "thou didst command is done, and yet there is room. And the lord said unto the servant, Go out into the highways and hedges, and compel them to come in, that my house may be filled" (vers. 21-23).

This parable is perfectly plain to us who live in gospel times. The leaders and teachers in Israel, answering to those first invited, refused as a class the offer of grace. The common people then, as we see in Acts iii. — v., received it; those, as it were, in the streets and lanes of the city. After that those outside the city, i.e. outside Judaism — Gentiles — were to be called. They would come, and God's desire should be fulfilled: the house should be filled. God's purposes in grace were thus unfolded, both what He was then doing, and that which He would do, and still does. And wherever the Apostle Paul worked, the order marked in this parable was adhered to. To the Jew first he went and then to the Gentile (Acts xiii. 46; xxviii. 23-28). But more, whilst announcing the character of that which was going forward — viz. a free invitation on the part of God to share in everlasting blessing (for the feast is not viewed as coming to an end) — the danger of trifling with and neglecting the grace of God is set forth in plain language: "I say unto you, That none of those men which were bidden shall taste of My supper" (ver. 24). Grace excludes none. Those finally shut out only reap the fruit of their own ways. We seem to pass here from the lord of the feast to the Lord Himself. These words are addressed, it would appear, not to the servant but to the company.

On the Road. — So far have we instruction ministered in that Pharisee's house in connection with Divine grace. Now on the road, as great multitudes followed the Lord, He turned and admonished them as to the spirit of true discipleship. It was comparatively easy to follow Him in a crowd, as He moved from place to place. But real discipleship was an individual matter, and would involve self-denial and determination, each one first counting the cost. For natural claims must give way before it, and each must be willing to bear his cross, if he would really follow the Master. The Lord thus plainly set forth before them all for what they must be prepared; just as in matters of this life, whether in building or in warfare, prudent men count the cost, ere embarking on their undertaking (vers. 28-33). Discipleship was to be with people a real matter. To venture on it thoughtlessly might land the professor in a worse state than before. So taking up the simile of salt, He said: "Salt is therefore good: but if even the salt have lost its savour, wherewith shall it be seasoned? It is neither fit for the land, nor yet for the dunghill; but men cast it out. He that hath ears to hear, let him hear" (vers. 34, 35). He spoke of natural salt, which, if unsavoury, becomes useless. He was applying it to the subject in hand — discipleship. The true disciples were the salt of the earth (Matt. v. 13). To profess true discipleship, and afterwards not to maintain it, was to resemble salt that had lost its savour. Such people would become useless.

We have thus brought before us a great deal about grace. No institution of God for the creature's welfare hinders men, who have a need, partaking of Divine grace (vers. 1-6). But if partakers of it, low thoughts of self become such (vers. 7-11). For the fitting subjects of it are the needy (vers. 12-14). Then the danger of rejecting it is set forth, coupled with God's desire to welcome souls (vers. 16-24). And that is followed by suitable exhortations for all who would profess true discipleship (vers. 25-35). After this we have objective teaching, acquainting us with the joy of God in showing grace (xv.). This is illustrated by three parables — the first of the lost sheep, the second of the lost piece of money, and the third of the prodigal son.

The Lost Sheep.Subjective teaching was addressed to the company in the house. Objective teaching on grace was uttered in the presence and in the hearing of publicans and sinners. Suited was the line of instruction for each company. Near the Lord were now coming publicans and sinners for to hear Him. Beholding this movement on their part, for the historian tells us "they were drawing nigh," the Pharisees and scribes murmured, saying, "This man receiveth sinners, and eateth with them" (xv. 2). It was true. He did receive sinners, and eat with them. What grace! Not only to receive, but to eat with them! Those murmurers would have done neither. He did both. Unconsciously they were heralds of His grace, whilst intending to bring Him into disrepute. But they knew Him not, nor of what His ways with sinners were the indication. These murmurers had spoken and had freely expressed their mind. Now He will speak, and unfold something of the mind and heart of God, but in parables, thus bringing home to all that listened to them, and to any who should attentively read them, how natural it was, so to speak, for Him to act thus, illustrating it from pictures of real life — pastoral, domestic, and family.

And first of the shepherd and of the lost sheep: "What man of you having an hundred sheep, if he lose one of them, doth not leave the ninety and nine in the wilderness, and goeth after that which is lost, until he find it? And when he hath found it, he layeth it on his shoulders rejoicing. And when he cometh home he calleth together his friends and neighbours, saying unto them, Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep which was lost" (xv. 4-6). They had murmured at his receiving publicans and sinners. Now, of whom were those classes composed? Of Israelites, sharers by natural birth in the same privileges with themselves. They might look down on such, but they were sheep of the same flock; for the people of Israel are viewed in the Old Testament as a flock.

To understand aright these parables we must bear this in mind, otherwise we shall miss one point on which the Lord dwells. And remembering the occasion on which the parables were uttered — viz, when the scribes and Pharisees murmured at sinners and publicans being welcomed, and made at home with Him — we shall see that these parables speak of grace without any reference to a dispensational difference, which rightly existed between Jews and Gentiles. The publicans and sinners, we repeat, were before God nationally on the same privileged ground as the scribes and Pharisees. Had it been Gentiles who were then thus received and eaten with, there might have been ground to complain. But it was not so. Hence the form of the three parables: a sheep had wandered from the flock; one piece of money out of a number in a house, i.e. in a prescribed area, had been lost; and the prodigal son had left in wilfulness the parental roof, the home of his youth. Then, taking for granted the correctness of the Pharisees' estimate, that those attracted to the Lord were sinners, what reason could there be to refuse them? For if a sheep wanders, does not the shepherd spend all his energies and concentrate all his thoughts in finding it? Moreover, a sheep well illustrates a sinner, because if lost, it is naturally too stupid to find its way back. It must be sought after, if it is to return. Now, that is the shepherd's part, and it is what the parable describes.

The sheep showed its activity in wandering, and in wandering far away. The shepherd's activity was displayed in going after it to bring it back. No pains too great, no distance too far for him to go. To find it was the shepherd's settled purpose. He rested not, he stopped not, till then. And laying it on his shoulders rejoicing, he carried it home. His joy was demonstrated, a joy which, as far as the parable goes, never ends. For, reaching home, he called all his friends and neighbours to rejoice with him, who had found his sheep which was lost. A picture of course this is of that which might be seen in natural life. It is also a revelation on the part of the Lord of what was, and is, still going on, sinners sought and found by Him, and He rejoicing over them with joy unceasing. All that we read of the sheep is its wandering, not a word of its feelings when found. Attention is directed solely to those of the shepherd, and that by Him who had come to seek and to save the lost. The murmuring Pharisees understood not what it was that was going forward. They divined not why the publicans and sinners were attracted to the Lord, nor did they enter into His joy in such people finding their way to Him.

He was rejoicing. The Pharisees were murmuring. But His joy would be shared in by others. The inhabitants of heaven could understand it, and in it they all will have part. "I say unto you, that likewise joy shall be in heaven over one sinner that repenteth, more than over ninety and nine just persons, which need no repentance" (ver. 7). To expatiate at length on the parable would be foreign to our present purpose. Often as the gospel has been preached from it, its fulness has not been exhausted. Sufficient is it for the present to call attention to the unwearied love of the true Shepherd in seeking, and to His unceasing joy at finding. The Lord was telling out secrets of His own heart.

The Lost Piece of Money. — Another parable now follows, drawn from domestic life. A woman, having lost one piece of money out of ten, is in earnest about finding it. She lights a candle. She sweeps the house. She seeks diligently for it, till she finds it. That done, she calls her friends and neighbours to rejoice with her, as having found that which she had lost. All perfectly natural. What diligence and painstaking for one coin of the value of eightpence! If the shepherd and the woman could in natural life be so concerned, the one for the sheep, the other for the coin, called in the original a drachma, was it surprising that the Lord should care for sinners, immortal creatures, of far more value than a drachma or a sheep? And if the finding of the lost piece of silver was a fitting occasion and ground for the woman to summon all her female friends and neighbours, as the original implies, to rejoice with her, joy might, and certainly would, take place in heaven before the angels of God over one sinner that repents. In the former parable the angels may be viewed as rejoicing. Here the joy is viewed as manifested in their presence. Whose joy then is it of which we read? Any surely can answer that question, and, as they do it, find their heart warmed by this announcement of God's joy over repentant sinners.

So far these parables have a great deal in common. In both, that which was lost, but a small part of that which remained — a tenth in the latter case, a hundredth in the former — aroused the anxiety and activity in the one case of the woman, in the other of the shepherd. So that personally they searched, till they found what was lost. In both too there is the joy of the finders, and which could not be satisfied unless others shared it with them. Seeking, finding, rejoicing, these are the great features in common. Is the second parable then but a repetition of the first? No. For though both tell us of Divine activity in grace, it may be, as has been often stated, that in the first we have the activity of the Lord under the similitude of the shepherd, and in the second the activity of the Holy Ghost under the simile of the woman. But men, sinners, are the objects of that activity; and the desire is to get hold of the lost. So both parables were needed to present the truth of fallen man's condition, as far as parabolic teaching could convey it. For men, we learn, are both guilty (Rom. iii. 19), and by nature dead (Eph. ii. 1). Guilty because they have sinned; dead too, being without spiritual life in the soul. The Epistle to the Romans treats of the former condition, that to the Ephesians of the latter. As each one who consciously shares in Divine grace was both guilty and dead, the lost sheep, which had wandered, illustrates the first of these conditions, and the money, a lifeless thing, can recall to us the second. Then the well-known parable which follows shows us that both conditions are true of the one who is to be a recipient of Divine grace. And, as we have had illustrated the seeking of the sinner, we are taught in the next parable, drawn from family life, of his welcome by the One against whom he had grievously sinned.

The Prodigal Son. — Into two parts does this parable divide, as will be seen by comparing verse 24 with verse 32. In the first part (11-24) we read of the conduct of the younger son. In the second (25-32) we learn about the conduct of the elder son. In both parts the father is seen, first as welcoming the prodigal, then as entreating the self-righteous one. The younger had of his own accord left his father's house, and gone away, and wasted his substance in a distant land with riotous living. Brought into straits, and feeling them, consequent on a mighty famine in that land, he began to be in want, and sought and accepted the occupation of feeding another man's swine. The swine had food, the fruit of the carob, or locust tree, Ceratonia siliqua, food for swine, but only eaten by the poorest of men. The swine had sufficient; he had not. And he could not even eke out his scanty portion by the husks, or pods of that tree, fain as he would have done that, for (and this is the reason assigned) no man gave unto him. The swine were fully provided for, but no one cared for him. At length, in dire want, in misery and in rags, he came to himself, recalled the past, and thought of his father's house. Plenty reigned there even for the hired servants, but he was perishing with hunger. Now he retraced his steps toward the home which he had left, prepared to throw himself on his father's mercy, and willing to accept a place under the parental roof as one of the hired servants. For he had confidence in his father that he would not close the door against him, just as God, it has been well remarked, engenders confidence in Himself in the repenting sinner's heart. As yet, however, the prodigal knew not his father's feelings, that no place but a son's in the house would be allowed to him.

With fixed resolve he started to return, and the first one that he met was his father. He had seen him a great way off. He was moved with compassion toward him. He ran; he fell on his neck; he kissed him. Not a moment was he to be in doubt of the character of his reception. His father had seen him, not he his father, that we read of. His father was moved with compassion toward him. He did not wait for his son to reach him. He ran to his son! The father's feelings, the father's readiness — might we not say eagerness? — to receive the prodigal, these are points to which our attention is turned. And ere the son could utter the words of confession which he had intended, he was in his father's embrace, and had received his father's kiss! He was welcomed back.

Now he confessed his guilt: "Father, I have sinned against heaven, and in thy sight, and am no more worthy to be called thy son." All perfectly true. But he was already in his father's arms, where only a son could find himself. His confession was right. It was enough. He would have said more, but he could not. For now his father spoke, not to him, but to the servants. Would he assign him a place with them, unworthy indeed as he was to be called his son? No. He spoke, but in quite a different strain: "Bring forth quickly" (as we should here read) "the best robe, and put it on him; and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet: and bring hither the fatted calf, and kill it; and let us eat, and be merry: for this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found" (vers. 22-24). Nothing too good for the prodigal, who had returned confessing his sin. The best robe, a ring, and shoes, all were to be brought out for him, who was yet outside the house, where his father had met him. Clad, shod, and adorned with the ring, he recrossed the threshold of that house which he had in wilfulness left. Nor was that enough. Feasting must take place, so the fatted calf was to be killed; and throughout the house gladness was to reign. "They began to be merry." But there was no end to it. We learn the occasion of it, and of the time of its commencement, but never of its cessation. The joy and gladness were not transient, mere emotions of the hour, to give place to sorrow and vexation, as is so often the case with us. With the shepherd, with the woman, with the father, it was the same. Rejoicing over that which had been lost but found begins, and that is all that is told us, leaving us to draw the conclusion that it never ends.

The meaning of this is plain. God welcomes the repentant sinner, and rejoices over him. The prodigal manifested repentance by retracing his steps. With that, confession was made unreservedly to the one against whom he had sinned. Publicans and sinners were repenting, and showing it by coming to the Lord. A work of grace was proceeding; all heaven was rejoicing over it with God. On earth Pharisees and scribes were murmuring at it. Sinners were welcomed by God, and gladly, as the important reading "quickly" in verse 22 intimates, and that not to the servant's place in His house, but to be there as sons, and hence to be shod; for the wearing of shoes in the house belonged to the children, and marked them off as distinct from the slaves. Feasting too was called for. All in the house were together to share in the joy which the Lord, the Son of the Father, and who was in His bosom, was setting forth as reigning in God's heart. What a revelation for publicans and sinners! "No one hath seen God at any time; the only-begotten Son which is in the bosom of the Father, He hath declared Him," i.e., God. So wrote John (i. 18). How fitting then that the Lord should announce the joy of God over a sinner who has repented. And surely it should enhance our sense of the grace as we see the readiness to welcome, as well as the joy manifested in receiving. True it is, "He that covereth his sins shall not prosper: but whoso confesseth and forsaketh them shall have mercy" (Prov. xxviii. 13). But we must proceed.

The Elder Brother. — Brightness and joy was reigning in the house. Now a cloud appeared on the horizon. The elder brother was returning home; and hearing the sound of music and dancing, he inquired what was the cause of it. He was told, "Thy brother is come; and thy father hath killed the fatted calf, because he hath received him safe and sound." "Thy brother," "Thy father," these words should have evoked gentle and kindly feelings from him. On the contrary, opposition was at once aroused. To his brother's welfare he was wholly indifferent. In the common joy he had no part. He became angry, and would not go in. Then his father came out from the scene of unalloyed happiness to entreat him to come in, but in vain. Puffed up as he was with thoughts of his own goodness, he was angry, and he showed it. The prodigal had addressed his father, and had done it in a respectful way, saying, "Father." The elder brother addressed him likewise, but in language of reproach, and without any recognition of filial relationship: "Lo, these many years do I serve thee, neither transgressed I at any time thy commandment; and yet thou never gavest me a kid, that I might make merry with my friends: but as soon as this thy son was come, which hath devoured thy living with harlots, thou hast killed for him the fatted calf" (vers. 29, 30). An intentional contrast surely was drawn between a calf and a kid, the latter smaller, and of far less value. He had never had even that, though, as he said, years of unremitting faithful service he could enumerate. It is noticeable, too, the contemptuous way he speaks of his brother "thy son;" but not a hint that he was his brother. Such was the character and conduct of the elder brother.

The father now speaks, passing over, however, all reference to the assertion of unfailing and devoted service. Had the elder brother really done all that he declared, he had but done his duty — nothing more. The silence of the father, therefore, on that point, may be understood. But he speaks, and what to say? He would let it be known what is the proper place and portion of a child. "Child," he said, reminding him of the birth tie, "thou art ever with me, and all that I have is thine" (ver. 31). For to be with the father is the proper place of the child, and all that the father has is his. Now the prodigal was on the same ground of privilege as the elder brother, he was a child, and hence it was meet that they should be merry at his return. "This thy brother," the father said, "was dead, and is alive again; and was lost, and is found" (ver. 32).

The application of the parable is easy to be understood. The Pharisees and scribes, who murmured, are depicted by the elder brother. The publicans and sinners are portrayed under the garb of the prodigal. The Father's house is the home of the children, who are God's heirs, and joint heirs with Christ. Had the publicans and sinners wandered? So had the prodigal. Who would deny him the blessedness of such a welcome as he got? If men in this life might thus receive an erring one — and who could doubt it? — was God to be denied the joy of welcoming a penitent? The case, as thus put by the Lord, was unanswerable. Here, then, the parable ends. The elder brother is never seen to enter the house; he shuts himself out of it. The prodigal had entered it, never to leave it. Self -righteous people, like the elder brother, were in danger of excluding themselves from the Father's house, because they did not understand how God could show favour to, and delight in, those truly penitent, the fruit of His work in grace. Apparently the murmurers were silenced. What could they say? These pictures, drawn from real life, show the groundlessness of their objections, whilst the reason for their murmurings is no secret. They had never for themselves tasted of Divine grace.

God was showing grace, and those who shared in it, as there set forth, were to enter the Father's house, being partakers of the heavenly calling (Heb. iii. 1). A change was therefore introduced. Earthly wealth and earthly inheritance were not the assured destined portion of such. To Jews that was a great change, and one which we, who never had a country on earth allocated to us, cannot so well understand. But the Master knew what was then needed. So He next uttered two parables, the one addressed to the disciples, the other to the Pharisees. In the first we learn the blessed results of rightly using opportunities now. In the other we behold the future consequences of present selfishness.

The Unjust Steward. — First then we have depicted an unjust steward, who had wasted his master's goods, and therefore was to be dispossessed of his office. The future stared him in the face, and aroused him to provide for it. So calling his master's debtors, he questioned each as to his indebtedness, and allowed them to state in their own writing, or bond, that their debt was less than it really was, thus ensuring their friendship in the future. The amount was exhibited in their handwriting, the unjust steward assenting. They were, therefore, made partners with him in the fraud. For his foresight in providing for a coming day his master, or lord (not our Lord), commended him. Thus far the parable. Now for the application, which concerns all. We are each one but a steward of another one's goods, life-renters indeed, and nothing more. Hence the lesson to be inculcated is this: "Make to yourselves friends of [or, by means of] the mammon of unrighteousness; that when it [not, ye] shall fail, they may receive you into everlasting habitations [or, tabernacles]. He that is faithful in that which is least is faithful also in much: and he that is unjust in the least, is unjust also in much. If therefore ye have not been faithful in the unrighteous mammon, who will commit to your trust the true riches? And if ye have not been faithful in that which is another's, who shall give you that which is your own? No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon" (Luke xvi. 9-13).

The master of the dishonest steward commended him for his prudence. He made friends for the future whilst he had the opportunity. The Lord teaches His disciples to use what they have in view of the future, reminding all that the character of a man is evidenced by his ways. The one faithful in little things will be faithful also in much. Now, present things are the "little," those future the "much." In this light are we to view them, contrasting the unrighteous mammon with the true riches; remembering, too, that the things we have to deal with now are not our own things at all. They belong to another, even God. Our own things are on high, not here. Of possessions in this world, however valuable, however extensive, we are but life-renters. They are not our own. A new light is thus cast on all that men naturally seek to acquire down here; and the future possession, so apt to be viewed as airy and intangible, comes out to us as a solid and substantial reality.

The Rich Man and Lazarus. — But the Pharisees, who were covetous [or rather, lovers of money], derided Him, nor were they backward in openly showing it. For them the Lord had a word, and a lesson by which to enforce His teaching: "Ye are they which justify yourselves before men but God knoweth your hearts: for that which is highly esteemed among men is abomination in the sight of God" (Luke xvi. 15). In another light then are human actions and motives viewed; and by another than a human standard will they finally be weighed. The judgment of our fellows is one thing; the judgment of God is another. So a work was going on, and is still proceeding; for God will have reality. And some, responding to that, were manifesting their earnestness then, as others do now. For the kingdom of God was being preached, and men were pressing (or, entering violently) into it. The Pharisees had no thought of that. Self, gratification of self, temporal advantage, these objects swayed them. And to one proof of it the Lord referred, and distinctly condemned their practice, viz, that of getting divorces for frivolous reasons, to gratify a whim, or the pleasure of the moment. Many around them were seeking salvation whilst they were indulging their fleshly desires.

Now follows the lesson for the enforcement of the Lord's gracious warnings (xvi. 19-31). It comes to us not called a parable, though presented in the form in which so many had been uttered. There may have been two such men on earth as are here described, and whose history in the other world answers to that set forth in language suited to the day. A rich man is depicted, clothed in fine linen, and faring sumptuously every day. At his gate was laid a poor man, a beggar, full of sores, and desiring to be fed with the crumbs which fell from the rich man's table. Moreover, the dogs came and licked his sores (vers. 20, 21). A pitiable case. Who put him at the rich man's gate is not told us. Some one must have done it for he was laid at the rich man's gate, desiring that which fell from his table. Did he get it? That question is left unsolved. The beggar was called Lazarus, the same word as Eleazar, i.e., God helpeth. The rich man, whose name in life must have been in many mouths, is nameless. How fitting, all will own, was this. Who cares to know the name of the one who lived to himself? Better bury it in oblivion as regards any record on earth.

So far we have their earthly history, ending with death. Now we learn about them in the other world, where their positions were reversed. Lazarus, the suppliant for the rich man's crumbs whilst on earth, is the very one whose service the rich man craves to cool his parched tongue with one drop of water; for he was in anguish in the flame. Lazarus was at rest. He was in torment. His good things he had possessed on earth, but there they ended. Lazarus, whose lot had been a suffering one in life, was comforted, and was in Abraham's bosom. What a difference — anguish without alleviation the portion of the former, perfect rest the lot of the latter! The veil is here lifted by Him who was competent to do it, and the condition of the lost in the unclothed state laid bare for us. Isaiah had contrasted the lot of the righteous dead with that of the ungodly dead. The former, he wrote, shall rest in their beds, each one walking in his uprightness (lvii. 2). For the latter, the wicked, there is no peace, he has twice over declared (Isa. Xlviii. 22; lvii. 21). In Luke xvi. the rich man in the unclothed state speaks, and in the most awful way confirms the prophetic announcement. How gladly would he have welcomed the ministry of Lazarus, to whom he had shown no mercy when he had it in his power. But in vain. Between him and Lazarus there was an impassable gulf. Temporal death, it is plain, is not the end of human existence, nor the termination of the creature's consciousness. The rich man was in torments, and painfully conscious of his unmitigable sufferings. And now thought and concern were awakened in his bosom for his brethren still on earth. He who had been here the incarnation of selfishness desired a message from the other world to reach his brethren, lest they should enter that place of torment. His petition for himself had been denied. His petition for his brethren was rejected. "They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them." The written word, comprised under the designation of the law and the prophets, was sufficient. The revelation of the day is all that is needed, and no more will be vouchsafed.

Again the rich man speaks: "Nay, father Abraham but if one went unto them from the dead, they will repent." His request was a second time refused. "If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded though [or, if] one rose from the dead" (xvi. 31). Is that possible? That might once have been asked, but can be asked no longer. One did rise from the dead. They heard of Him from accredited messengers who had seen Him, yet they did not repent. Of what use then is earthly wealth, so dearly prized by the covetous, if it be just expended in gratifying the selfish desires of its possessor? There is a future. Use earthly things in view of that. Such is the teaching the Lord would enforce.

One other word ere we pass on. The rich man claimed relationship with Abraham, and truly, for he was descended from him after the flesh. Of what avail was that however to him when in torments? Abraham might, and did, acknowledge, the fact, but that child of his after the flesh would never rest in his bosom. External privileges, if the opportunities connected with them are persistently neglected, will avail nothing for their possessors. That rich man, who could call Abraham father, had never given heed to Moses and the prophets. The consequences were apparent, and his condition was henceforth irremediable.

Forgiveness to be Exercised. — To the disciples the Lord now again turns, and would teach them to show grace to others as often as needed. Offences would come. Occasions of stumbling would be met with, men being the instruments in that unhappy work. To exercise forgiveness then the disciples might be called, and that as often as an offending brother by true confession should seek it. But man by nature does not understand this. To the Apostles even it seemed a hard saying. And they at once said, "Increase our faith" (xvii. 5). But in a matter of this kind it is not faith that is needed so much as obedience. The power of faith indeed, if it be but as small as a grain of mustard seed, can effect mighty things (ver. 6). Obedience however becomes the servant. So, whatever the Lord enjoined, that they should be ready to do, and without glorying in it as anything great; for all can understand what it is that befits a servant. And are not all disciples professedly servants of Christ? So if obedient, we are but unprofitable servants, having done that which it was our duty to do.

The Ten Lepers. — This section of the Gospel, which commenced with a miracle in a Pharisee's house (xiv. 4), closes with an account of miraculous power exercised in a certain village. The name of the Pharisee in whose house the Lord healed the dropsical man has not been recorded.

In character with that omission, the name of the village associated with the cleansing of the ten lepers is also unnoticed. The Lord was on His way to Jerusalem, passing through the midst of Samaria and Galilee. As He entered a certain village, ten men that were lepers met Him. They stood afar off, for they were unclean. But they cried to Him, "Jesus, Master, have mercy on us." Short, but full of meaning, was this petition. Mercy they asked for, being — and their petition confessed it — utterly helpless. None then did, none now can, really supplicate for mercy, and find that it is refused. At once the Lord gave heed, and directed them to go, and to show themselves to the priests. They started off without delay, and found themselves healed on the way.

The Gospel Illustrated. — This incident in the Lord's life, most interesting as affording a proof of His power and grace, has an additional interest, since it illustrates principles of the gospel of God's grace. Those lepers were in sore need of the exercise of Divine power in healing. Unasked by them, the Lord went to the very place where they were, just as He came into this scene of wretchedness and sin to minister the grace of salvation. In that village those ten lepers besought His help in their dire need. No one else in the place that we read of welcomed His presence. They did, having a want, a pressing need, which He could meet. Ten men, lepers, all in one company, yet one was a Samaritan. Now those Jews, as the rest evidently were, had they been in their normal state of health, would never have kept company with that Samaritan. But being lepers, and lepers in common with that Samaritan, they evidently thought not of any dispensational barrier. They felt, they showed, that as lepers there was no difference between them. No difference, we too learn, is there between the ungodly who need salvation (Rom. iii. 22, 23). No difference amongst the latter because all have sinned. No difference among the former, for all were lepers, all unclean. The consciousness of their state made them companions in trouble out of which nothing but the exercise of Divine power in mercy could deliver them. So their petition was presented: "Jesus, Master, have mercy on us." They threw themselves wholly on His mercy, pleaded nothing but that, and found nothing more was needed. He heard. He answered. And He told them what to do. Did He mock them in saying, "Go show yourselves unto the priests"? Assuredly not. But why go to the priests if they were not healed? The priests had probably already pronounced the most of them unclean. The priests could not heal them. But they could certify to their state if healed. All started to go to them without a question, without a doubt, thus evidencing the reality of their faith. It was the obedience of faith. Leaving the Lord whilst still unclean, but just doing as they were told, they found that as they went they were cleansed. For faith had been in exercise in every one of them. Debtors to mercy, and owning it, they got what they wanted, for they did what they were bid. Are we not justified in saying that this history illustrates certain great gospel principles? For (1) unasked the Lord visited the scene of their wretchedness (2) they owned that between themselves there was no difference; (3) they supplicated for Divine mercy as those who felt their need of it; and (4) manifesting the obedience of faith, they got the desired blessing.

The Samaritan. — But now a difference is seen. The nine went on their way to the priests, with the full knowledge in each one that he was healed. The tenth, as fully conscious as the rest of the grace bestowed on him, turned back, and with a loud voice gave glory to God. His heart was evidently full. He was constrained to praise God for his cure. All that he had asked for in common with the others he had got; for the mercy shown was the same to all. All had been lepers. All were healed. But nine of them were Jews, who as such could claim Messiah's help. The tenth was a Samaritan, who could not rightly claim it.* This one it was who turned back, and, with a loud voice glorifying God, fell down on his face at the feet of Christ, and openly gave Him thanks. He, who was the most signal example of grace of them all, most valued it. And he got what the others did not, another word from the Lord: "Arise, go thy way thy faith hath made thee whole." Was he a loser by turning back? Unquestionably he was a gainer. And his conduct illustrates that those most value grace who are the greatest subjects of it, even as Paul, the chief of sinners, who never forgot that which it had done for him.

{*In John iv. 42, we have an interesting confirmation of this in the designation of the Lord by the Samaritans at Sychar. The true reading brings it out: "This is indeed," they said, "the Saviour of the world;" for "the Christ" should be omitted. They spoke of Him therefore under a designation which suited any one on earth who could not rightly claim the privileges of a Jew.}

Here this great division of the Gospel comes to an end. We have seen that no institution of God ordained for man's welfare is meant to be a barrier against God dispensing grace. We have been reminded, too, on the one hand, of the conduct befitting the subjects of it (xiv.), and have learnt, on the other, of the joy of God in bestowing it (xv.). Then the great change in the light in which earthly substance is to be regarded is brought before us (xvi.), with a reminder of the spirit in which the subjects of grace should act towards those who have sinned against them; the whole closing with that history of the Samaritan leper, illustrating by whom it is that Divine grace will be most appreciated, showing also that we never lose by acknowledging before God what He has done for us.

The evangelist, having completed this subject, now turns to trace out still more of the great theme of the kingdom of God.

12. The Advent of the Kingdom in Power (Luke xvii. 20 — xviii. 34)

In the transfiguration scene the Lord appeared for a brief moment in His millennial glory. Peter, James, and John then saw the kingdom of God (ix. 27). Much however had to take place on earth ere that kingdom could be established in power. Accordingly to teach that our evangelist was guided to treat of the condition of things amongst the Jews in the Lord's lifetime, and of the path of disciples in consequence till the King's return (12: 46). And intimating, as Luke did, by parables (13: 18-21) the outward appearance of the kingdom of God here below between the Lord's ascension and the events which will usher in His personal manifestation, he was led to open up at some length the attractive subject of grace, the showing of which by God to the lost and dead would especially characterise the long period that has already, and was to intervene, a period of greater duration than any preceding it. Sixteen centuries, speaking roundly, was the duration of the antediluvian period. Eight centuries more spanned the postdiluvian patriarchal period, ere the Exodus took place. From that to the birth of Christ nearly fifteen more rolled by. And now already upwards of eighteen are reckoned since the Lord's death and the commencement of the dispensation of grace, in the time of which our lot has been cast. Fitting, we may say, is this, being in perfect keeping with what we know of our God, who "is longsuffering, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance" (2 Peter 3: 9).

And here another remark may be made. All the unfoldings of grace in chaps. xiv. — xvii. 19 seem to have been made subsequent to the Lord's transfiguration. Thus the order of time in which that event took place, and that in which the teaching of grace was made known, is found to be morally in keeping with the unfolding of events upon earth. For God, it may be noticed, who brings events to pass in an order prearranged in the Divine mind, can, and at times does, bring things to light, or brings people on the stage, as we may call it, of this world, in an order which in subsequent ages can be seen to be morally in harmony with Divine teaching. A notable instance of this is furnished us in Heb. xi., in which certain people, mentioned in the order in which they lived, are found to be illustrations of various aspects of the walk of faith, all of which saints in Christian times may be called to experience. Abraham and Isaac, etc., were pilgrims. Moses and others were in conflict. Gideon, Barak, etc., lived in times of declension. Others, of whom the world was not worthy, underwent fierce persecutions. All these conditions Christians might have to pass through. Thus the Old Testament history appears in that chapter like a picture-book, illustrating by people of old different phases of the life of faith. But we must not pursue this interesting subject further. A hint we have just given which the reader, if so minded, may find it profitable to pursue.

The Coming of the Kingdom. — To the advent of the kingdom in power attention is now to be directed. And this branch of the subject is introduced by a question addressed by Pharisees to the Lord. They asked Him when the kingdom of God should come [or, cometh]. Often of course had they heard Him speak of the kingdom of God, which they connected with external displays of Divine power on Israel's behalf. There was truth in that. But as yet nothing of it had been seen. What prompted their question at this time is not apparent. The Lord's answer, however, was calculated to correct their mistake. The kingdom of God was already upon earth, though they were in ignorance of it. "The kingdom of God," He said in reply, "cometh not with observation; neither shall they say, Lo, here! or, Lo, there! for the kingdom of God is within [or, in the midst of] you." There was to be the kingdom in mystery before its advent in power. Now whilst it is on earth in mystery those only see it, as we learn from the Lord's discourse with Nicodemus (John iii.), who are born again. And none can enter it save those born of water and of the Spirit. The important thing then for any who had not then entered into it was to learn that it was already upon earth, so that they were not to be looking for displays of delivering power on behalf of Israel ere the kingdom could be said to be in existence. It was there. And, as the Lord had previously told the same class of people — Pharisees (Luke xvi. 16) — men were violently pressing into it; or, as Matthew writes (xi. 12), "the kingdom of heaven suffereth violence, and the violent take it by force." Without external show or observation it came, and was noiselessly spreading. The King was there, so the kingdom was already in existence in their midst. For in this sense it seems best to understand the term "within you,"* here used by the Lord, since probably none of His questioners had entered into it by being born again. They were most likely unbelieving Pharisees, not teachable disciples.

{*"Within you" were the Lord's words, to be understood as stated in the text. In John xii. 35, we have an analogous expression, if we follow there the better reading: Yet a little while the light is among you" (lit. in you).}

The Son of Man's Day. — For the unconverted it was needful to press the existence on earth of the kingdom at that time. There was no spiritual blessing for any outside of it. For disciples further teaching was called for. They needed instruction for their guidance in this scene as to the ushering in of the kingdom in power thinking probably, as others did (xix. 11), that the kingdom of God would immediately appear. Time, however, had to elapse, and events apparently disastrous to the cause which they had at heart must take place ere the Son of man's day can appear. Persecution of no light character His disciples would experience, such as would make them long for Divine intervention, and for the halcyon time of millennial rest. For before that could be enjoyed, the Son of man — a title of the Lord connected with power (Psalm viii.) — must suffer many things, and be rejected by that generation. The cross must precede the glory. His day, however, will come, and that openly. And "as the lightning, when it lighteneth out of the one part under the heaven, shineth unto the other part under heaven; so shall the Son of man be in His day" (Luke xvii. 24). There will be no concealment or uncertainty about it, nor the knowledge of it confined to a select few. It will be manifest to all.

Other facts in connection with it are next unfolded. First, it will take the world by surprise, and find the ungodly engaged in the common pursuits of life, regardless of the future, just as it was in the days of Noah, and subsequently in the days of Lot. Eating, drinking, marrying, and giving in marriage went on till Noah entered the ark. The antediluvian world was heedless of its danger, and wilfully unconscious of its impending doom. So in the days of Lot, the inhabitants of the cities of the plain were living as if nothing but permanent dwelling on earth was before them, not only, as the antediluvians had been, eating and drinking, but also buying and selling, planting and building, till their avocations were cut short by the fire and brimstone raining down on them from heaven. "Even thus shall it be in the day when the Son of man is revealed." In this gospel only have we this reference to Sodom in the days of Lot; and it is the Lord who tells us about the old world, and about the people of Sodom and of Gomorrah, of Admah too, and of Zeboiim. He witnessed it all. He foretells the future likewise.

Secondly, that day will be one of awful, though discriminating, judgment. For in that night two men shall be in one bed; the one will be taken, the other left. Two women will be grinding together, preparing for the day's provision; the one will be taken, and the other left.* But taken for what? The context shows it is for judgment. As the ungodly were swept off the earth at the flood, as the sinners of Sodom, etc., were cut off, so these, who will be taken, will be taken away by judicial action. "And where will this happen?" some asked. The answer came, "Where the body is, thither will the eagles also be gathered together." As birds of prey find out the carcase, so will Divine judgment light on the subjects of it.

{*The thirty-sixth verse should be here omitted. The uncial MS. authority against it is very great. It has its place in Matt. xxiv. 40.}

So far we have glanced at the features of that day. All will see it. The world will be taken by surprise, and Divine judgment will infallibly find out those doomed to it.

Having thus spoken to the disciples (xvii. 22), a word of admonition for the future time of trouble now follows. For, since unsparing judgment will alight on some alive on earth at that time, safety for disciples would be found in flight from the scene of judgment. In that hour all must be abandoned which men value connected with earth, rather than risk the being involved in the impending destruction, the centre of the awful storm being, as we learn from Matthew (xxiv.), the city of Jerusalem. "Remember Lot's wife." This short but pregnant sentence witnesses of the Lord's love for His own, and intimates what is the danger that will then have to be avoided.

It will be manifest, we trust, to the reader that this discourse treats of the future, even of the Lord's return to reign, but not of His coming into the air for His saints. Three considerations, however, will clear any one really subject to the Word. 1st, those who will be left on earth will be left for blessing, whilst it will be ungodly ones who will be taken away, just, as we have remarked above, as was witnessed at the flood. 2nd, at the capture of Jerusalem by the Romans nothing of this kind was experienced. So the Lord clearly did not refer to that event. And 3rd, the return of the Lord to which He refers is His return and manifestation to the world, and not His coming into the air for His saints (1 Thess. iv. 16). For He warns the disciples against being led away by the cry that "He is here," or "He is there," a cry which might entrap a Jew, who will look, and rightly, for Messiah to appear on earth; but which would not deceive a Christian, if rightly instructed, for he looks for the Lord's descent for him out of heaven, and to meet Him in the air.

The Unjust Judge. — A time of fierce trial for the saints there certainly will be, and their desire to see one of the days of the Son of man will evidence that. What then is to be their resource? Prayer, and that always. So the Lord added, and spake a parable (xviii. 1-8) to the end that they ought always to pray, and not to faint. The parable describes a widow crying to an unjust judge to be avenged of her adversary. Evidently the application is specially for the godly remnant of the Jews, to which the disciples in their day belonged, even that remnant which will be found upon earth between the rapture and the appearing. "Avenge me of mine adversary" is not Christian language, but was proper for saints before the cross, as the Psalms attest (xviii. 47), and will be a fitting wish for those who are persecuted between the rapture and the appearing (Rev. vi. 10). Christians look to be taken out of this scene, leaving their enemies behind them. Saints on earth after Christian times can only look for deliverance by judgment overtaking their persecutors. Hence such language as the widow in the parable expresses. To the righteousness of her appeal the unjust judge is seen to be utterly indifferent. Through her importunity, however, she gained her desire. Will God do less for His suffering saints, who cry unto Him day and night, though He bear long with them [or, is longsuffering over them]? "I say unto you," adds the Lord, "He will avenge them speedily. Nevertheless, when the Son of man cometh, shall He find faith [or, the faith] on the earth?" This last remark confirms the conclusion as to the time to which the parable refers, even to that terrible period of persecution for the elect of which we read in Matt. xxiv. 21, 22. "Except these days should be shortened," the son of Alphaeus wrote, "there should no flesh be saved; but for the elect's sake those days shall be shortened." Prayer is the resource always open to God's saints (Phil. iv. 6), that they should not faint. And how real a resource that is those who have need of it, and use it, discover. In the coming time of persecution how important will it be to have recourse to it, and that with the Lord's gracious assurance here given to encourage them, for deliverance will come. God will avenge His own elect, dependent as they will be on His interposition, as much as the widow was upon that of the judge. The elect belong to God. But He "is longsuffering, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance" (2 Peter iii. 9). Hence the apparent delay in avenging His own; and because of it they might think that He had forgotten them, and so their faith give way, and the faith seem in danger of being blotted out from the earth. Prayer, then, is the resource till God's intervention is manifested, but prayer in confidence that He hears, and will assuredly answer.

The Pharisee and the Publican. — But other traits should also characterise saints at that time. Of these the Lord proceeds next to speak, first in a parable (xviii. 9-14) and afterwards in plain language (15-30), availing Himself of the opportunities which presented themselves to set forth that which was needed.

A parable He first spoke, for the special benefit of some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised the rest [or, all others]. Sectarianism of the most hateful kind was at work, of which the Pharisaic spirit of the day afforded a good illustration. Two men, both Jews, and therefore equally privileged to share in the dispensational nearness granted to that people, went up into the temple to pray, the one a Pharisee, the other a publican. Both professed to have a want to lay before Jehovah, else why go to pray? Both very likely, but certainly the Pharisee, addressed God in silence. And He who reads the heart, and hears unuttered prayer, tells us what each expressed. The Pharisee had no want, no desire, for himself or for another, to lay before the throne of grace. Self-satisfaction filled his soul. He thanked God for what he was not, being, as he said, neither unrighteous, nor a gross sinner, nor like that publican; but assuming the truth of all he uttered, he did not thank God for grace ministered to him — self, only self, occupied him. He told God what he did, fasting twice in the week, and giving tithes of all he possessed. A pattern man in his own eyes! Nothing in his conduct to condemn, or to excuse. Of the publican we next hear. The Pharisee had taken up a position, as he thought, befitting one so good. The publican took a position befitting what he was. He was standing afar off; and not so much as lifting up his eyes unto heaven, he smote on his breast, saying, "God, be merciful* to me, the sinner." He told God what he was, and cast himself on His grace. The Pharisee thought no one was so good as himself. "I am not as the rest of men" (ver. 11), was his proud, self-righteous boast. The publican thought no one so bad as himself. "Me, the sinner," were his words. The language of each heart was interpreted by God, and the Lord announced the Divine decision. The publican "returned to his house justified rather than the other." He had taken his right place before God, and blessing could consequently result. "For every one that exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted" (Luke xviii. 14). He was justified rather than the other; not forensically justified before God, of which Paul wrote, since that follows believing the Divine testimony about the death and resurrection of the Lord (Rom. iv. 24, 25), and that is justification by faith. Here the question was raised who was righteous. The Pharisee thought he was, and condemned the publican. God's estimate — and that must settle all controversy — was that the publican was justified rather than the Pharisee, being righteous in what he said and did; for then the gospel of the grace of God, which tells of boldness to draw nigh, was unknown. In forensic justification, too, there are no degrees. No one in that is justified more than another.

{*"Be merciful." The Greek verb hilastheti, though it may mean "be propitiated," is not used in that doctrinal sense here, but, as elsewhere in Hellenistic Greek, in the sense of forgiving, answering to the Hebrew salaek, to forgive. See 2 Kings v. 18; xxiv. 4; Psalm xxv. 11; Lam. iii. 42; Dan. ix. 19. The Vulgate and the Peshito Syriac in our passage confirm the rendering of the A.V., which is supported by that of other modern translations. We add, God is never said to be propitiated, though propitiation was needed for in love He gave His Son to be the propitiation for our sins (1 John iv. 10).}

Babes Welcomed. — To proceed, we next read of babes brought to the Lord, that He might touch them (Luke xviii. 15-17). Here we are on ground trodden also by both Matthew (xix. 13-15) and Mark (x. 13-16), the two preceding parables being peculiar to Luke. The disciples resented the apparent intrusion, thinking doubtless that their Master had more important matters to occupy His attention than the laying His hands upon babes. The Lord, Mark tells us, on seeing what the disciples were doing was much displeased [or, moved with indignation], and rebuked them; but Luke adds, what the others do not, that Jesus called them — i.e., the babes — to Him. What joy that must have been to the parents, when He thus acted! They had not miscalculated His interest in such. How gracious, too, on His part at once to remove from their minds every feeling which the behaviour of the disciples very possibly engendered. But more, He would let all hear of His willingness to receive them, as He said, "Suffer the little children to come unto me, and forbid them not." He, the Prophet of Nazareth of Galilee (Matt. xxi. 11), was willing to receive all such. And surely the astonishment of His disciples must have been great, when He turned the incident into an occasion for instructing them all on the importance of simplicity and confidingness of heart, as characteristic of those who should enter the kingdom of God. "Of such," He said, "is the kingdom of God." "Verily I say unto you, Whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child, shall in no wise enter therein." It would now be understood what objects of interest little children are to Him, illustrations of that which God's children, who shall enter the kingdom, should cultivate and manifest. Babes were brought. He welcomed them, but then pressed on all that the moral characteristics of a little child are to be true of God's saints. For it is a little child, something more than a babe, who can manifest simplicity and confidingness. A lesson from flowers we had in xii. 27. A lesson from little children the Lord would here deduce.

A Recapitulation. — Thus far in this section of the gospel we have been taught of the certainty of the kingdom's establishment in power by the return of the Son of man (Luke xvii. 20-37). Hence, seeing that that day will be ushered in by judgments, which will sweep away the ungodly in Israel from the earth, moral conditions suited for those who will be spared are set forth, viz., the spirit of dependence and of constancy in prayer, illustrated by the widow; then reality before God as to one's moral condition, as seen in the publican and the simplicity so characteristic of a little child (Luke xviii. 1-17). Now there follows an incident in connection with a young ruler, of which the Lord made use to warn all against that which might hinder any one entering into the kingdom (Luke xviii. 18-30). Both Matthew and Mark relate this as well.

The Young Ruler. — From Luke we learn the rank of the young man. He was a ruler, and probably of the synagogue, as elsewhere in the gospels those thus designated seem to have been. Mark, with his usual observation, describes, as if he were an eyewitness of it, the man's apparent eagerness to get an answer to his question. He came "running to Him, and kneeled to Him, and asked Him, Good Master, what shall I do that 1 may inherit eternal life?" (Mark x. 17). In haste he ran. To do Him honour he fell at His feet. The Lord met him at once, first reminding him that there was no one good but God, and then pointing him to the sacred Word, an intimation that on such a vital subject God had not left His people in ignorance. "Thou knowest the commandments," He said, for the questioner was a ruler, and then, though not in their regular order, referred to five of them; viz., the fifth to the ninth inclusive, according to Matthew and Luke, Mark alone adding a reference in substance to the tenth. The young man answered, as one who could stand such a test, "All these have I kept from my youth up." The question had been, "What shall I do to inherit eternal life?" The ruler professed by that question his ignorance on the point. The Lord by His reference to Ex. xx. showed that there need have been no uncertainty in any mind about it, and prefaced his reply, as Matthew (xix. 17) tells us, by the statement, "If thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments," a reminder of the words of the lawgiver (Lev. xviii. 5).

A Test. — The ruler by his answer, affirming that he had kept the commandments referred to, showed how forgetful he was of the confession of the wisest of men that "there is no man that sinneth not" (1 Kings viii. 46). How then could such a person be dealt with so that light about his state should shine into his heart? The Lord did not enter into controversy with him about his past professed obedience. He tested him in another way, viz. as to his devotedness to Himself. What was Christ to him? Was the creature's heart right with God? Could he surrender for Christ's sake all he had in the world? A searching, testing question! For that the young ruler was not prepared. "He became," as we should translate, "exceeding sorrowful, for he was very rich." Coming to the Lord with the apparent desire to get eternal life, he left Him sorrowful, as both Matthew and Mark record. There was something that he loved better than God, or than Christ. In this way was it openly manifested. He had an idol, of which perhaps he had before been unconscious. Here our knowledge of his history ends. Like a comet, which suddenly appears above our horizon, but soon disappears, travelling away from the sun into space, where it is lost to sight, so was the approach of that young man, and his departure from the Lord. Earthly things were more to him than heavenly. Wealth, this world's substance, outweighed for him the inheritance of saints. The evil of his heart was detected.

The Lesson. — The matter however was not to end there, for the Master, noticing the effect on the ruler, would draw a lesson from it for disciples then, as well as in subsequent years. "Jesus, seeing him, said" (so we should here read, omitting, that he was very sorrowful), "How hardly shall they that have riches enter into the kingdom of God! For it is easier for a camel to go through a needle's eye, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God" (Luke xviii. 24, 25). Astonishment seized all at that announcement. They asked therefore, "Who then can be saved?" That rests with God, for the things that are impossible with men are possible with God. We shall better understand the astonishment of the disciples if we remember that sacrifices on God's altar were an essential part of Jewish religion. In the number and size of those the rich could surpass the poor. Hence wealth might be regarded as giving an advantage; for the rich could both offer more, and of course give larger alms. How true is it, though spoken in a different connection, "Man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart" (1 Sam. xvi. 7). The state of a man's heart hinders his entering the kingdom. On the other hand, salvation is from God; He works on man's heart. And the Apostles were a proof of it, they having done that to which the ruler was averse.

This leads to a word from Peter: "Lo, we have left all [or better, our own] and followed Thee;" and, according to Matthew's account (xix. 27), it led to a question as well: "What shall we have therefore?" In that gospel the Lord answers the question by telling the Apostles of the distinguished place which will be theirs in the kingdom, and then goes on to declare — and this is common to the three synoptic gospels — that no one who has forsaken things here for His sake and the gospel's will be a loser, but the contrary: "Verily I say unto you, There is no man that hath left houses, or wife, or brethren, or parents, or children, for the kingdom of God's sake, who shall not receive manifold more in this present time, and in the world [or, age] to come life everlasting" (Luke xviii. 29, 30). Peter and the rest had left all. Such a full surrender might not be required from every one. So the Lord graciously speaks of leaving house, or wife, or brethren, or parents, or children for the gospel's sake. Such will receive in the age to come life everlasting. He speaks here of the future, when in person, and not only in soul, such will enjoy everlasting life. And it may be, considering the context, that the entering into the kingdom in this section of the gospel looks on to the future likewise.

The Son of Man's Rejection. — Suffering, persecution, loss, for the kingdom of God's sake — why should that be? The secret of it is plainly stated. The Son of man, whose day of power is coming, had first to suffer rejection and death. Of this the Lord again warns them. He had spoken of it before His transfiguration (ix. 22), foretelling His rejection by the Jews — namely, by the elders, chief priests, and scribes — and the consequence of that — His death. He again mentioned it after His transfiguration (ix. 44), acquainting the disciples with the fact that men — i.e., Gentiles — would have part in the guilt of His death. He had foretold, too, where it was that He should die, viz., Jerusalem, the centre of Judaism (xiii. 33). Now He communicated to the disciples, but privately, as Matthew tells us (xx. 17), that the crisis was approaching, for He was on His way up to Jerusalem to suffer and to die. "Behold, we go up to Jerusalem, and all things that are written by the prophets concerning the Son of man shall be accomplished. For He shall be delivered unto the Gentiles, and shall be mocked, and spitefully entreated, and spitted on and they shall scourge Him, and put Him to death; and the third day He shall rise again." The details are amplified on this occasion, yet "they understood," we read, "none of these things, and this saying was hid from them, neither knew they the things which were spoken" (Luke xviii. 31-34).

Of the kingdom in power we have been reading. The cross however had to precede it, and at Jerusalem only could He die. He must therefore journey thither. So to that last journey up to the holy city are we to have our attention next directed.

13. From Jericho to Jerusalem (Luke xviii. 35 — xix. 48)

The Lord had reached Jericho, travelling southward from Galilee, on the eastern side of the Jordan, as Matthew (xix. 1), who was with Him, informs us. Nor is Luke's statement (xvii. 11) really at variance with this, as has been suggested, though he is less definite as to the Lord's exact route, whilst he mentions His presence in Samaria at that time, of which neither Matthew nor Mark takes notice. His reason for that his narrative (xvii. 11-19) discloses. The history of the ten lepers completed the teaching about grace.

Jericho. — As far as we know, this was the first and only occasion on which the Lord visited that wealthy city, situated in a very fertile district of country. And the time of His visit was in character with the history of that part of the land in connection with Joshua, and Israel. It was at the Jericho of that day that the first conquest on the west of Jordan took place; and from it Israel marched to victory over the old inhabitants of the land, dealing first with the Amorite confederacy in the south (Joshua x.), and subsequently with the host arrayed under the leadership of Jabin, king of Hazor, in the north (Joshua xi.). From Jericho the Lord went forward to Jerusalem, to achieve a greater victory, and that through His death, bringing to nought him that had the power of death — that is, the devil — and delivering them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage (Heb. ii. 14, 15). His visit therefore at this time was in moral harmony with Israel's first associations with it.

But other links are there between Jericho and Israel's history. As in Joshua's day God's power had been seen in throwing down the bulwarks of the enemy (Joshua vi.), in Ahab's day God's faithfulness to the word by Joshua was displayed, in that the curse, which Joshua pronounced on the rebuilder of that city, was fulfilled to the letter in the family of Hiel of Bethel (Joshua vi. 26; 1 Kings xvi. 34). Later on God's goodness was shown to the sons of the prophets, as Elisha healed the waters that there should be no more death or barren land (2 Kings ii. 21). Near Jericho, too, the last king of Judah was taken by his Chaldean pursuers, and the throne of David was then overturned (Ezek. xxi. 27), to await its final occupant, who "shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever, and of whose kingdom there shall be no end" (Luke i. 33).

Power, faithfulness, and goodness of God — to these did Jericho in the past bear witness. Now for grace bestowed in a double way would the locality be for ever famous, viz., in the healing of blind Bartimaeus and in salvation bestowed on Zacchaeus. Temporal need and spiritual need were alike to be ministered to by Him who was now on His way to enter Jerusalem as her King, appearing there as the rightful occupant of the throne, yet who must die on the cross ere He should as King execute judgment and justice in the earth (Jer. xxiii. 5). And near where the last king of Judah was taken prisoner (Jer. xxxix. 5) the blind men saluted the Lord as David's Son, the Messiah of Israel.

A Moral Order. — But here we must notice an instance of the moral order in which at times Luke arranges his subjects. He tells us of the healing of the blind man ere he recounts the history of Zaccheus. Chronologically the latter preceded the former. For, as Mark definitely states (x. 46), and Matthew confirms it (xx. 29), Bartimaeus received his sight as the Lord was leaving Jericho for Jerusalem. And with this Luke's narrative is not inconsistent, for he tells us that when the Lord was near Jericho He met with Bartimaeus (xviii. 35), a statement quite in harmony with the real fact, that it was as He was leaving it. In its neighbourhood the blind man was healed. Of that Luke speaks. He does not fix the time of the occurrence, but only the locality.* Now as to Zacchaeus Luke is more precise. The Lord "entered," we read, and was passing through Jericho, when He reached the sycamore tree into which the latter had climbed (xix. 1).

{*The shifts to which some commentators have resorted to explain the apparent contradiction between Luke and his brother evangelists any one may see by consulting them. The solution noticed above is quite admissible. The evangelist's language explains his meaning in the simplest way. This some have seen and noted, as Whitby, Scott, Darby, etc.}

But why this disregard to the order of events? That which follows, the history of Zaccheus, will clear it up to us. Both temporal and spiritual need were met on this visit to Jericho. But the bestowal of temporal blessing would not necessarily make its recipient a professed follower of the Lord. The bestowal of spiritual blessing would, for the recipients of that were to be His servants. And what He expected from them between His departure and His second coming the parable of the pounds, which immediately follows, sets forth. Hence the moral order in which Luke relates these incidents. One can see at once a design in this and the fitness of the arrangement of the subjects.

The Blind Beggar. — By the wayside the beggar named, as Mark tells us, Bartimaeus — i.e., son of Timaeus — was sitting and plying his calling (xviii. 35-43). Attracted by the noise of a multitude passing, he inquired what it meant. Jesus the Nazarean, they said, was passing by. At once he cried, not, as usual, asking for alms, but desiring his sight, "Jesus, thou Son of David, have mercy on me." Son of David! Now very few thus saluted the Lord when here in His humiliation. The blind men in Galilee (Matt. ix. 27), Bartimaeus and his companion (Matt. xx. 30, 31) here at Jericho, the Syrophoenician mother (Matt. xv. 22), and the children in the temple (Matt. xxi. 15), are the only examples furnished us. The multitudes in Galilee could ask one another, "Is not this the Son of David?" (Matt. xii. 23); but only blind men, who could not see Him, the woman who was not of Israel's seed, and children, to whom none would naturally turn for such information, saluted Him as the Son of David. Where learned scribes might profess to have a difficulty, the above-mentioned had none. He was — and they owned it — the Son of David.

Rebuked by those who went before that he should hold his peace, the blind man only cried out the more a great deal, "Thou Son of David, have mercy on me." Would his reiterated appeal reach the ear of the Lord? Could it be heard above the noise which necessarily accompanies a passing multitude? It could, and it did. And all progress on the onward march was arrested by the cry of blind Bartimaeus. "Jesus stood," we read, "and commanded him to be brought unto Him." Many had rebuked him to hold his peace. Now he had reached the immediate presence of the Lord, and was permitted to prefer in person his request. Sight, not alms, he wanted; sight he asked for; sight he got. But more, the Lord spake a word in commendation of his faith: "Receive thy sight; thy faith hath made thee whole." A beggar could receive blessing, for it depended, not on that which any man could give or do, but on faith in the Lord to heal. The man's circumstances were no obstacle to his receiving that which he desired. Where faith draws out the blessing the rich man has no advantage over the poor man, even if this last be a beggar. Receiving his sight, he forthwith showed that he needed no human hand any longer to guide him. He showed to all that he had sight, for he followed the Lord glorifying God. "He followed Jesus in the way," wrote Mark (x. 52), for the Lord had now left Jericho, with His face set toward Jerusalem. Luke however writes simply that "he followed Him," for he narrates this history, as we have remarked, out of its chronological order. In the way is in perfect keeping with Mark's note of time. It would not have been so suited for our evangelist. Independent each writer was of his fellow-historian, and each was guided of the Holy Ghost. So Luke closes his account with a notice of the effect on the multitude who witnessed it: "All the people when they saw it gave praise unto God" (Luke xviii. 43).

Ere passing on we would remark that though this miracle is related by two who witnessed it, and by a third who had subsequently, perhaps years after, become acquainted with it, each narrator furnishes something which is not mentioned by the others. From Matthew we learn there were two who got sight that day, and he likewise notices the Lord's compassion as well as His manner of healing them: "He touched their eyes." Mark, with Luke, writes of but one blind man, and tells us, in common with Luke, of his occupation. He was a beggar. Whilst Luke adds to this that he was at that time begging. But Mark alone acquaints us with his name, tells us too of the encouraging words addressed to him by the crowd when the Lord had called him: "Be of good comfort; rise; He calleth thee; and graphically describes the blind man's action as, "casting away his garment, he sprang up, and came to Jesus." From him also we gather the language in which the blind beggar answered the Lord. It was Aramaic, not Greek; for Mark has preserved the title of respect, Rabboni, applied by Bartimaeus to Christ. Luke, on the other hand, has recorded the effect of the healing on the man's heart, and also on the multitude. The former glorified God; the latter praised Him; and they both tell us what Matthew omits: the Lord's commendation of the blind man's faith. It is interesting to note these differences, and it is also well. Such serve to remind us of the danger of drawing hasty conclusions from inadequate data, supposing from the silence of a historian that such and such things could not have taken place, or thinking because we know some things — those which are related — that therefore we know all about a history or an event. What we have we can, and should, stand on. To deny the possibility of this or that on the ground that it is not recorded, may land us in mistakes, and demonstrate our folly.

Zacchaeus. — From that which is common to the three evangelists, we pass on to that which is peculiar to Luke, viz., the story of Zacchaeus and the parable which follows it. For, as Luke dwells in a marked way on grace, it was fitting that he should relate not only the temporal blessing received by Bartimaeus, but the spiritual one — salvation brought to Zacchaeus and the way that came about. The Lord "entered, and was passing through Jericho," so Luke really wrote. Who would receive Him? Who would show Him ordinary hospitality? No house seemed opened to Him. No Pharisee, if there were any there, requested His company. In Galilee He had been more than once invited, and had accepted the proffered hospitality. In fact, we never read that the Lord declined an invitation. At the same time He could be faithful to His host and to the company (Luke xi. 37-53 xiv. 1-24). At Jericho, wealthy as the city was, no one asked for His company, though the opportunity was freely given for any to invite Him. He had entered Jericho, and was passing through it and the inhabitants generally must have been aware of it, for He was accompanied by an escort which was not confined to a few faithful disciples (Luke xix. 3). His route, too, was known (ver. 4). Where then should He abide? The Lord knew, and made it plain, though as yet His intended host, Zacchaeus, was ignorant of it. Now he, a chief publican and a rich man, desired to see the Lord, for he had evidently never before met Him; but, being little of stature, he could not possibly see Him, for a crowd surrounded Him. So, running forward, he climbed up into a sycamore tree that his desire might be gratified. He was not disappointed. The Lord moved on to the very tree into which he had climbed. Zaccheus saw Him. The Lord also saw Zacchaeus, and spoke to him, addressing him by name: "Zacchaeus, make haste and come down, for to-day I must abide at thy house" (ver. 5). This is the solitary instance that we have of the Lord inviting Himself to any one's house. And His company on this occasion was not declined, for Zacchaeus made haste and came down, and received Him joyfully. His wish was gratified. He had seen Him. But, more than he expected, he was to entertain Him.

Now from the crowd a general murmuring was heard: "He is gone in to lodge with a man that is a sinner." But with whom but a sinner could the Lord lodge anywhere upon earth?" There is none righteous, no, not one" (Rom. iii. 10). The strictest Pharisee, as well as the chief publican, was a sinner in God's sight. To meet the murmurings of the crowd Zacchaeus next spoke, and told the Lord what he did, his practice, and not, as some have thought, what he would henceforth do: "Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor; and if I have taken anything from any man by false accusation [or, wrongfully exacted aught of any man], I restore fourfold." In the one case he gave more than the law could demand: a half, not a tenth; in the other he did no less than it enjoined. The Lord heard all, the murmurings on the one hand and the answer on the other. Then He spoke: "This day is salvation come to this house, forsomuch as he also is a son of Abraham. For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost." Did the crowd murmur at His entering that house? Its owner was one of the privileged race, a son of Abraham, in common with all of them. Would Zacchaeus justify himself by setting forth what he did? As one of the lost the Lord came to seek him and to save him. All his doings had not saved him, nor could they. Never till then had salvation entered his door. The Lord brought it that day. Grace in the fullest way that publican received, the grace of free and everlasting salvation. Memorable in Zacchaeus's life must that visit have ever been. Memorable, too, have the Lord's closing words proved to many a sin-burdened conscience. He "came to seek and to save the lost." Zacchaeus had desired to see Him, and evidently never thought of speaking to Him. He came to save that publican. Now this was not done in a corner, for in sight of a murmuring crowd the Lord crossed the threshold of the house. There was from thenceforth one saved person, if only one, resident in Jericho. That one was Zacchaeus.

Parable of the Pounds. — The Lord's right to enter that house fully vindicated and the murmurers silenced, a parable was spoken to dispel the mistaken supposition that the kingdom of God would immediately appear. Of the certainty of its appearance there was, there is, to be no doubt; but the time for its appearance was then, and is still, future. Would any now question the personal return of the Lord and the coming kingdom, let them interpret this parable in a way which will commend itself, whilst retaining and enforcing their preconceived ideas. We believe it will be as difficult to deny that this passage teaches the coming kingdom and personal reign of Christ, as it is to get rid of an earlier statement in this gospel, that made by the angel Gabriel to the Lord's mother: "The Lord God shall give unto Him the throne of His father David" (Luke i. 32).

The kingdom will appear. And with the return of the nobleman, having received it, as the parable puts it, two classes are mentioned, to both of which that return will be a matter of deep concern: His citizens on the one hand and His servants on the other. The former — i.e., the Jews — hated Him, and are viewed as sending a message after Him, saying, "We will not have this man to reign over us." We know how this was virtually done by the martyrdom of Stephen and others. But the Lord will return, and will then, as He announces (xix. 27), deal unsparingly with His enemies. Now was it a mere coincidence that such a parable was spoken in Jericho? In what place could it have been more fittingly uttered? For there was still to be seen a palace of Archelaus, who had gone to Rome to get kingly power confirmed to him. His citizens did send after him to frustrate his object, but he returned to reign, despite all their efforts to influence Augustus Cesar against him (Josephus, Ant., XVII. xi. 2; Wars, II. vi. 3). As their attempt had failed in the one case, so will it in the other. Archelaus was made ethnarch over Judea, Samaria, and Idumea, with the cities of Joppa and Caesarea put under him. The Lord was born King of the Jews, and will be established as such on God's holy hill of Zion (Psalm ii. 6). The parallel, then, as far as it went, would not favour the purpose of the Jews to reject Him, whilst the hopelessness of any such attempt is made in the parable unmistakably plain.

His Servants. — But this takes us on to a yet future day. What then was to go on in the interval of these eighteen centuries? The greater part of the parable treats of this last, as it tells us of the servants, and of that which was expected from each. For ere departing on his journey into a far country the nobleman called together his own servants and entrusted to each a pound (lit. mna), equivalent to about £3 6s. 8d. of our money, to trade with "till I come," as he said. In the prospect and expectation of his return each one was to go forth and work for his absent lord. The result the parable describes. The nobleman came back, having received the kingdom, and forthwith summoned each servant to reckon with him as to what he had gained by trading. One had traded well and gained ten pounds (or mnas); another had traded and gained five. According to that which each had gained, they were to have authority over cities in the kingdom; but the greatest approval is expressed of him who had gained the most. To him, and him only, does the master say, "Well done, thou good servant." Now came one who had not traded at all, and excused himself for his idleness by the known character, as he stated, of the master (ver. 21). His excuse only condemned him: he was proved to be a wicked servant; he had not used his pound, so he was now to be deprived of it, and the one who had gained the most was to have it. For "unto every one which hath shall be given; and [or, but] from him that hath not, even that which he hath shall be taken away from him" (ver. 20).

So far the parable. What is the interpretation? The pound represents the opportunity for service given to each professed disciple, of whom Zaccheus was now one. In this all are alike. The use each makes of it is seen by what each gains. And according to the servant's use of his opportunity, so will be his place and service by-and-by. "His servants shall serve Him," we read (Rev. xxii. 3). The parable attests that. Service is not confined to this world, though the character of it will change, just as the one who traded whilst the master was absent was made a ruler on his return. Hence we understand the justness of the award: "Take from him the pound, and give it to him that hath ten pounds." Now is the time of probation in service. He who does not use his opportunity will for ever lose it. He who has used his the best will have the greatest opportunity hereafter.

Here we must notice a parable preserved only by Matthew (xxv. 14-30) — that of the talents. Are these two parables different versions of the same thing? No. As that of the pounds speaks of the opportunity, that of the talents speaks of the ability. All have an opportunity, but all have not equal ability. The master knew that, and in the parable of the talents shows it, giving to each one according to his several ability, to one five, to another two, to another only one. No one was expected to do more than he could, but each was looked to to do all he could. This the one who had five and the one who had but two both did, and both received equal commendation from their lord, and were to become rulers over many things. Both these parables teach us therefore the character of service in the future — ruling in the kingdom, for we shall reign with Christ. And to get the full instruction on the question of present and future service we need them both.

Entering Jerusalem. — The journey was now resumed, and the Lord led the way, going before and ascending up to Jerusalem. The distance to be travelled was about seventeen miles and after leaving the fertile region in which Jericho was situated, the road lay through a desolate district ascending upwards from the Jordan valley to the neighbourhood of the metropolis, Jericho lying 820 feet below the sea level and Jerusalem being 2,593 above it. What length of time elapsed between the visit to Jericho and the public entry into Jerusalem none of the evangelists have made plain. From John (xii. 1-9) we learn that the resurrection of Lazarus had taken place, and was already well known, and that the supper in the house of Simon the leper was an event of the past, before the Lord, riding on an ass's colt, entered the city of the great King (Psalm xlviii. 2). His entrance that day marked an epoch in history. The King of Israel was presenting Himself to Jerusalem as her King. Never before had He done that, though born King of the Jews. As the entrance of the Ark into the city of Zion in David's day was an important event, which concerned the whole earth, God then for the first time entering that city which He has chosen for His local earthly habitation (Psalm cxxxii. 13, 14), so the Lord's entry on the foal of an ass was an event ever to be remembered. The King in person rode into the capital of the kingdom, as the long-expected Messiah, to which He will return some day in power to reign. True, His rejection and death were close at hand; but Jerusalem must reject Him as her King. Hence He presented Himself as such on this occasion.

Four Narratives. — Of this entry as King all four evangelists have written, the only event common to them all during the Lord's ministry, the feeding of the five thousand excepted, on which we have remarked in its place (p. 112). Now, as with that history, so with the present, each evangelist supplies us with something peculiar to his narrative, which helps to fill up the picture with details of no mere passing interest.

Matthew, for instance, recounts that there were two animals pressed into the Lord's service, a she-ass and her foal — and remarks on that as in accordance with the prophecy of Zechariah (ix. 9) which he quotes, and which in part then received its accomplishment. In part we say, because the son of Alphaeus omitted "and having salvation," which forms part of the prophecy of the son of Berechiah. That will surely characterise the Lord in a coming day, but did not on that occasion. Hence we believe it was that Matthew, divinely directed, omitted it, just as Peter, quoting Joel on the day of Pentecost, knew where to stop, breaking off in the middle of a verse (Joel ii. 32; Acts ii. 21). Further, Matthew reports how the whole city was stirred at the unusual sight of the Lord on the ass, accompanied as He was by great crowds; and asking, "Who is this?" the multitude without hesitation replied, "This is the prophet, Jesus, from Nazareth of Galilee." Verily the proverbial sayings about Nazareth and Galilee were that day refuted. A good thing could come out of Nazareth. A prophet could be associated with Galilee. Fulfilment of prophecy Matthew so often points out, nor did he miss the opportunity of doing it when recounting this history.

Turning to Mark, we learn, in accordance with that attention to details so characteristic of him, where exactly at Bethphage it was that the two disciples found the foal, viz., tied to a door without where two ways met, i.e., at the crossing. He acquaints us, too, if the better reading be adopted, with the Lord's exact message to any who should question what the two disciples were about: "The Lord hath need of him, and straightway He will send him back hither"* (Mark xi. 3). And he further supplies us with an addition to the cry of the multitude: "Blessed is the kingdom that cometh, the kingdom of our father David." Besides this, he alone has informed us that the Lord, having thus entered Jerusalem, and having gone into the temple, retired to Bethany for the night, and did not cleanse the latter till the following day (Mark xi. 12, 15). Mark's character as a historian of attention to details comes out here very distinctly.

{*With this the best uncials, the Codex Alexandrinus excepted, are in accord and of textual critics Tischendorf, Tregelles, and Westcott and Hort. Of versions the Revised exhibits it. The effect of this alteration is to make the last clause of the verse part of the message entrusted to the two disciples.}

From John we learn (xii. 1, 12) the real day of the triumphal entry. It was the fifth before the Passover, the morrow after Mary had anointed the Lord in the house of Simon the leper. And, as Matthew has told us of the stir in Jerusalem when the Lord entered on the ass, John, who has so often mentioned the hostility of the Pharisees of Jerusalem and their desire to kill the Lord, acquaints us with the avowed disappointment of those of them who witnessed it: "Perceive ye how ye prevail nothing? Behold, the world is gone after Him" (xii. 19). The rejoicing multitudes, the surprised city, the disappointed Pharisees — what lights and shades in this picture! Besides this, it is from John's account of the formation of the vast crowd that we can understand the definite point in the account of both Matthew and Mark, who notice those who went before and those who followed after. For there were originally two distinct companies: the one which had come with the Lord from Bethany, the other which went from Jerusalem to meet Him on hearing of His approach (John xii. 17, 18). These two joined on Olivet, those which came out from Jerusalem probably turning when they met Him, and heading the procession into the city. Then too, the son of Zebedee, in common with Matthew, quotes part of the prophecy of Zechariah, but for a different reason from that which led Matthew to do it, though in character with that which he had on a previous occasion pointed out, viz., that till after the Lord's resurrection, and in this instance till after His ascension, the disciples did not understand the meaning of that which they witnessed, though the prophecy was plain, and the Lord did as it was written of Him.

Coming now to Luke, the only one of the four who certainly was not an eyewitness, we gather from his account that the owners of the animals it was who permitted the disciples to take the foal. "The Lord hath need of him," was enough. Surely they were disciples of the Master, in common probably with the owner of the upper room in which the last Passover was eaten. For the Lord's claim was at once acknowledged, and without further parley the two disciples led off the foal, on which they seated the Lord, having first laid their garments on its back; nor was that enough, for others spread their garments in the way, carpeting, as it were, the track over which He was to pass.

The enthusiasm was immense. Those from Jerusalem met Him with branches of palm trees. Those accompanying Him from Bethany cut branches out of the fields, as Mark states, and strewed them in the way. And now as they began the descent of Olivet towards Jerusalem, there arose from the whole multitude of the disciples spontaneous praises to God, lifting up their voices for all the wonderful things which they had seen, saying, as Luke gives it, "Blessed be the King that cometh in the name of the Lord; peace in heaven, and glory in the highest." They thus hailed the Lord as King, a rehearsal, we may say, of that which will be heard when Psalm cxviii. 25, 26 is fulfilled; the "Save now" of the Psalm being the same as the "Hosanna" of the multitude. Onward swept the stream of men, and along that track over the mountain most suited for such a company,* and down the slope towards the city and the temple. The multitude seemed of one mind that day. The King was in their midst. The rightful occupant of David's throne was entering the capital of the kingdom, and in the manner foretold centuries before. He was entering, too, the city from the east, from the very quarter from which some day He will return to it, to leave it no more. For His feet shall stand upon the mount of Olives (Zech. xiv. 4), and from the way of the east the glory of the Lord will return to the house of God (Ezek. xliii. 2). But these prophetic announcements await their accomplishment. In harmony, however, with them, the Lord visited the temple that day, approaching it by the way of the east, and the multitude spoke not of "peace on earth," as the angelic choir had done (Luke ii. 14), but of "peace in heaven." Peace on earth will follow the second advent; peace in heaven flows from His atoning death. Were the people aware of the importance and suitability of their words? Probably not. We, however, living after the cross, can interpret them in a manner then not understood.

{*See for this Stanley's Sinai and Palestine, pp. 190-194.}

A joyous scene it must have been, and one fitted to awaken enthusiasm in the most phlegmatic of men. All know how taking is a popular movement of that kind, yet some there were in the very middle of the rejoicing crowd who remained uninfluenced, yet not unconcerned. These were Pharisees, who, turning to the Lord, asked Him to rebuke His disciples. His reply silenced them: "I tell you, that, if these should hold their peace, the stones would cry out" (Luke xix. 40).* Only a claimant to David's throne the Pharisees might regard Him. By-and-bye all inanimate nature will make itself understood when it welcomes Him back as Jehovah and as Israel's King (Psalms xcvi.; xcviii.).

{*"Immediately" should be here omitted.}

The Lord Weeping. — But there was one heart which was sad that day. He who was the object of that popular ovation could not restrain His tears as He surveyed Jerusalem. At times people shed tears for joy; His were not that. Were they called forth as He thought of the fickleness of popular acclamation, and of His coming sufferings? No. It was the fortunes, and the sufferings of the city about to come on her because she rejected Him, that called forth those tears, of which Luke only has given us an intimation. "When He was come near, He beheld the city, and wept over it, saying, If thou hadst known, even thou, at least in this* day, the things that belong unto peace! but now they are hid from thine eyes. For the days shall come upon thee, that thine enemies shall cast a trench [rather, bank] about thee, and compass thee round, and keep thee in on every side, and shall lay thee even with the ground, and thy children within thee; and they shall not leave in thee one stone upon another, because thou knewest not the time of thy visitation" (vers. 41-44). The political outlook might seem as bright and cloudless as very probably was the sky, with the rays of the setting sun shining on the temple buildings and on the city, for it was eventide when the Lord entered Jerusalem, as Mark informs us. Nevertheless, deep sorrow, suffering, and humiliation awaited her; and was it not in harmony with this that the darkness of night should be settling down on that scene, emblematic, we may say, of that long night of trouble for Jerusalem which must for her precede the rising of the Sun of righteousness with healing in His wings? (Mal. iv. 2). Ignorant she might be of her future, but He knew it, and could not but be deeply concerned about it. He wept, whilst the air rang with the Hosannas of the multitude.

{*The pronoun "thy" before "day" and before "peace" should probably be omitted.}

Cleansing the Temple. — Luke now hastens on, noticing in the briefest possible way an event of the next day, as Mark xi. 12 informs us it was — the cleansing of the temple. "The Lord, whom ye seek, shall suddenly come to His temple," Malachi (iii. 1) had written. The fulfilment of this will be seen when the glory returns to the house (Ezek. xliii. 5). Was it a foreshadowing of the future that the Lord went direct to the temple on the day of His triumphant entry, though He did not cleanse it till the following morning? It was His house, and He asserted His right to cleanse it, quoting Isa. lvi. 7, and referring as to its condition to Jer. vii. 11: "My house shall be a house of prayer; but ye have made it a den of thieves." On a previous occasion He had cleansed it (John ii. 14-16), viz., at the commencement of His ministry; and now again He did it at the close. On the former occasion it was as Son He acted, declaring that the house was His Father's: "Make not My Father's house an house of merchandise." Now, as Jehovah Himself, He cleansed it: "My house," etc., He said. He had entered Jerusalem as Messiah; He visited the temple as Jehovah. For Jerusalem was to reject Him who was the King and Jehovah, and, as Matthew (xxi. 16) teaches us by the Lord's application to Himself of the eighth Psalm, the Son of man likewise. This last, however, Luke wholly omits.

And now he acquaints us, in a few words, first with the Lord's occupation till the day of His death, then with the design of the chief priests, scribes, and chief men of the people to get rid of Him, as well as with the eagerness of the people to listen to His teaching (xix. 47, 48). In the section which follows (xx., xxi.), we are introduced to some of that teaching.

14. Teaching in the Holy City (Luke xx. — xxi. 38)

Galilee, Samaria, Perea — in each of these districts had the Lord's presence been known, and His voice heard. That was now over. The days of their visitation were past. A solemn consideration. His voice in ministry who spake as never man spake would be heard there no more. How far had men profited by it? Five hundred brethren could after His resurrection be collected together as fruit of His labours (1 Cor. xv. 6), a mere handful when we think of the Teacher. Now for less than a week He would be teaching in Jerusalem and in the temple daily (Luke xix. 47). Often had He visited the city, and publicly taught there (John ii.; v.; vii.; viii.-x.); but no record of that has been preserved by Luke, Matthew, or Mark. With His ministry outside of Judaea they are concerned, Luke alone mentioning a visit to Martha's house (x. 38-42) and His presence on two different occasions in Samaria (ix. 51, 52; xvii. 11).

With John it is different. He gives chiefly the Lord's ministry in Judea, narrating the events of but one visit to Samaria (iv.), and of three to Galilee (ii. 1-12; iv. 43-54; vi.). Independent of the others each evangelist undoubtedly was. So when Matthew and Luke turn their readers' attention to the Lord's teaching at Jerusalem, and tell them of much in common, yet with characteristic differences, John still pursues his independent course, supplying his readers with facts connected with the close of the Lord's ministry in the holy city quite different from any met with in the other gospels (xii. 20-50).

Characteristic differences we have called them. These are very marked, especially in Matthew and in Mark. In the former, since dispensational teaching has its special place therein, we meet with some parables of the kingdom of the heavens, spoken at that time, but not recorded by any of the others. In the latter, in which attention to details is a prominent feature, we are told of events of that last week, as the days are marked on which they took place. Mark's gospel here reads like a leaf from the writer's diary. With Luke it is different. He fixes attention on "one of the days" in that week (xx., xxi.). What day that was Mark shows, viz., the third before the Passover. And a busy and interesting one it must have been, the people very attentive to hear the Lord, He responding to their desires, meeting as they came up objections of His opponents, propounding questions Himself, and answering those put to Him whether from His enemies or from His disciples, laying bare to men their secret motives, opening up, too, the Word, and foretelling the future. In these different ways was He occupied that day.

Motives Detected. — The Lord had now returned to the temple, having re-entered the city from the mount of Olives, to some part of which on each evening He retired for the night. On the previous day, as Mark notes, the fourth before the Passover, He had cleansed the temple. Now revisiting it, He taught the people, and, as Luke informs us in character with his gospel, the Lord was that morning evangelising the crowd. Of this character of ministry he has elsewhere written. Indeed, he alone of all the evangelists (Matt. xi. 5 excepted) presents the Lord as engaged in such a service (iv. 18, 43; vii. 22; viii. 1; xvi. 16; xx. 1). And though he never employs in this his "former treatise" the term gospel, yet, as the reader may see, he frequently presents the Lord, and evidently delights to do it, as engaged in preaching the gospel, not, be it remembered, that of the grace of God with which we are familiar, but that of the kingdom (viii. 1), the gospel for that day. Engaged in that happy service, interruptions took place. The chief priests, the scribes, with the elders, a formidable and probably a numerous company, approached Him. Recovering, as we may suppose, from their surprise of the previous day, yet smarting doubtless under the rebuke, as they must have felt it was, they demanded His authority for what He had done in the precincts of the sacred building. Writing long after the event, Luke has put on record the object of those people. We learn of that at the close of the previous chapter — "They sought to destroy Him, and could not find what they might do." How they attempted to find something against Him is now related.

The house was Jehovah's. The Lord was not of Aaron's line. By what right then did He take upon Himself to drive out the traders, and to overthrow the money-changers' tables? What He had recently done in that way, He had done in His own name. "My house" He called it. Who had ever acted as the Lord? who had ever appropriated the prophet's language to himself? Hence the question, "Tell us by what authority doest thou these things, or who is he that gave thee this authority?" (xx. 2). Would He really exercise power in that house as inherently competent to do it? Or was it delegated authority that He professed to wield when He made all the traffickers flee before Him?

The question in itself was not an unreasonable one. But who asked it, and why? The Lord knew well His questioners and their motives. He replied therefore by interrogating them about John's baptism: was that from heaven, or from men? On that point there was no doubt in anybody's mind. But to answer the question as it ought to be answered would have convicted them of disobedience. On the other hand, to affirm that it was of men would expose them to the vengeance of the populace. Taking counsel what to answer — for they perceived the dilemma into which they were put — they deliberately agreed on what they knew was a lie. "They could not tell," they said. "Neither," rejoined the Lord, "tell I you by what authority I do these things." Their questions supposed their competency to sit in judgment on His claims, and to decide whether the answer He might give was satisfactory or the reverse. Their moral incompetence for such a business the Lord exposed by the answer which He elicited to His question about John. Reality was far from them. He would not therefore treat them as true persons. He declined, and justly, to answer what they asked.

Parable of the Husbandmen. — Foiled in this attempt to find an accusation against Him which would give a colourable pretext for judicial proceedings before the Sanhedrin, they had now to hear the Lord speak a parable to the people, which intimated His perfect acquaintance with their real intentions, and with the death which awaited Him at their hands. Matthew, Mark, and Luke all relate this, but with variations, as is usual. The ways of the teachers in Israel are the subject, viz., what they had done in the past, what they would shortly do, and the punishment which they would in consequence bring upon themselves. Under the figure of husbandmen, entrusted by the owner with the tillage of his vineyard, the teachers are depicted. All efforts to get the fruit from them having failed, one resource remained for the owner, viz., to send his son. So taking counsel with himself, as the parable represents — and this is peculiar to Luke — he says, "What shall I do? I will send my beloved son; it may be they will reverence him." Now, if anything could have changed the disposition of the husbandmen towards the owner, it would surely have been the mission of his son. The son thus sent was however ill-treated and killed. Were the husbandmen ignorant of his relationship to the owner? They knew it; they declared it. "This is the heir," they said. "Let us kill him, that the inheritance may be ours." They killed the heir knowingly and determinedly. Unsparing judgment would therefore righteously overtake them. So far the parable.

The application was evident. Prophet after prophet had God sent to get the fruit from the husbandmen. But they had mocked them, despised their words, and misused them (2 Chron. xxxvi. 16), and killed some of them. Now the Son had come. Did they ask who He was? The Lord in this parable intimated who He was, as well as their real cognisance of it. They were not in ignorance about Him. He intimated to them they would kill Him. But in that case God's forbearance with them would cease, and judgment must overtake them, and the vineyard would be cultivated by others. How this came to pass the Acts shows. For after the Lord's death fruit in Israel was produced through the labours of the Apostles, the chief priests and scribes being for that wholly set aside. Before the cross it was different (Matt. xxiii. 2, 3). This parable therefore was a warning, but a warning unheeded. They were intent on carrying out their nefarious purpose. "They perceived that He had spoken this parable against them" (Luke xx. 19). Yet they remained unchanged, for they sought to lay hands on Him in that same hour, and were only restrained through fear of the populace.

Now the Lord's rejection, and the folly of it, were the subjects of prophecy. So of that, having first looked on the multitude, He reminded them all, quoting the words, "The stone which the builders rejected, the same is become the head of the corner" (Psalm cxviii. 22). Then to Old Testament revelation, which in itself should have sufficed to check them in their insensate and wicked course, He here added a new one, which pointedly foretold the disastrous effects to them of their contemplated step: "Whosoever shall fall upon that stone shall be broken to pieces." Have not the Jews experienced this? "But on whomsoever it shall fall, it will grind him to powder." Such will be the awful end of those who reject Him. Matthew and Luke both record this solemn warning. Mark does not, for judgment is rarely his theme. Matthew, too, adds (xxi. 43) what is in keeping with the dispensational teaching of his gospel: "The kingdom of God shall be taken from you, and given to a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof." In this the Lord goes beyond the idea of the vineyard, using language which embraces God's dealings with Gentiles in common with those who are Jews. For of believers, from both Jews and Gentiles, is the kingdom of God composed.

The Tribute. — Warnings, however solemn, were utterly lost on the leaders. They now laid another trap to ensnare Him, and sought for something which might bring Him under the condemnation of the Roman government; so that, as Luke tells us, "they might deliver Him unto the power [or, to the rule] and to the authority of the governor." How determined were they to procure His condemnation by either the ecclesiastical or the civil tribunal! Foiled, as we have seen, as regards the former, they now sought for something to put in motion the latter. Hence they watched Him, and sent forth spies, who should feign themselves just men, that they might take hold of His words. Those spies, people secretly commissioned for this work, were, we learn from Matthew and Mark, selected from two parties, the Pharisees and the Herodians, the former being opposed to the Roman yoke, the latter favouring it. This plot, skilfully arranged, signally failed. The awful hypocrisy of those questioners was made evident. One wonders they had the effrontery to show it. Master, we know that Thou sayest and teachest rightly, neither acceptest Thou the person of any, but teachest the way of God truly. Is it lawful for us to give tribute unto Caesar, or no?" When before had those just men desired the Lord's mind on any matter, who they affirmed said and taught rightly? Were they intending to govern their course by His answer? It was sheer hypocrisy on their part. He knew it full well, for their hearts were open to Him,* and He answered them in a way they never expected.
{*"Why tempt ye Me?" it is generally agreed, should be omitted.}

To whom did the current coinage belong? Whose image did it bear? Caesar's, they answered with readiness. "Render therefore unto Caesar the things which be Caesar's, and unto God the things which be God's" (ver. 25). What wisdom was here displayed! The civil power has rights, and they should be respected. In this case the Caesar on the throne was anything but a pattern of goodness; yet, being God's minister (Rom. xiii. 4), tribute to him was to be paid. But God has His rights over men. They should be respected likewise, and submitted to. "We ought to obey God rather than men," said Peter on a memorable occasion, who was then upholding the duty of rendering unto God the things that were God's. "Tribute to whom tribute is due, custom to whom custom," so wrote Paul, upholding in turn the principle of rendering unto Caesar the things that are Caesar's. The Lord thus settled the question for that time, and for all subsequent ages as well. God has claims on His people, and the duly constituted civil power has likewise. Both are to be respected, and practically acknowledged. Here the attempt to get something against Him for His condemnation ended. "They could not take hold of His words before the people. They marvelled at His answer, and held their peace." Neither before the Sanhedrin, nor before the Roman tribunal, could they justly arraign the Lord.

The Sadducees. — Next the Sadducees approached Him. This is the first and only time that Luke in his Gospel mentions them. On one other occasion only does Matthew (xvi. 1-4) mention them as troubling the Lord; for they appear to have let Him alone for the most part.* The materialists of their day, denying the resurrection and the existence of angels or spirits (Acts xxiii. 8), they very probably concerned themselves little with His teaching, and seem only to have been roused into determined opposition when the Apostles "preached through Jesus the resurrection from the dead" (Acts iv. 2). On the present occasion, seeing that the Pharisees were silenced, and not sorry, we may believe, for the discomfiture of their opponents, they approached the Lord with what may be called a test case, decisive to their minds of the impossibility of the resurrection. The Pharisees, as we have seen, sought an occasion against Him to accuse Him before the ecclesiastical or the civil tribunal. The Sadducees had no such intention. Whatever His answer would be, it would not have furnished them with ground for a prosecution. They knew, too, that He taught the doctrine of the resurrection (John v. 28, 29); and the form of their question showed that. If, however, they could put a question which He could not satisfactorily answer, how great would be their triumph.

{*In accord with this, John, who gives so much of the Lord's ministry in Judea, never mentions them.}

The Resurrection. — Accordingly they approached Him with a difficulty professedly based on the Word of God, thus making Holy Scripture a ground for disbelieving an indisputable truth of revelation. A special provision was made in the law for what is called a levirate marriage, by which a surviving brother was bound to marry his brother's widow in the event of that brother having died childless, to preserve the dead man's portion of the inheritance, that his name should not be blotted out of Israel (Deut. xxv. 5, 6). Now a case, they averred, had occurred where seven brothers, one after the other, in observance of this law, had married the same woman. All had died without offspring. At last the woman died also. "In the resurrection, therefore," they asked, "whose wife of them shall she be? for the seven had her to wife." One can well suppose the eagerness with which they waited for the Lord's answer, and their confidence that He could say nothing in support of the doctrine which they denied. But what disappointment must have been experienced when they heard His reply! Ignorance, He gave them clearly to understand, lay at the root of their opposition: ignorance, on the one hand, of the condition of people in the other world; ignorance, on the other, of the Scriptures of truth. The Lord dealt with the first of these before He touched on the second. And though both Matthew and Mark relate the same incident, Luke supplies his readers with particulars unnoticed by them, and which set forth how fully the Lord refuted this special tenet of the sect, the denial of a resurrection.

"The sons of this world," was His answer, "marry and are given in marriage; but they which shall be accounted worthy to obtain that world and the resurrection from the dead neither marry nor are given in marriage. For [as we should read] neither can they die any more; for they are equal unto the angels; and are sons of God, being sons of the resurrection" (xx. 34-36). The Sadducees of that day, like many a person in subsequent ages, could conceive of nothing different from that which they had known. Here marriages take place. Hence in their thoughts, if there was a resurrection, marriages must also be contracted on high. Their deduction was fallacious. Marriages do not take place among the saints in heaven. And the Lord gives a reason for that, reported, as we find, only by Luke: "For [this important conjunction has been left out by the A.V.] neither can they die any more." Death reigns not there; hence marriage, by which the race is perpetuated on earth, has no place on high. Further, they are equal to angels, and all of them are sons of God, being sons of the resurrection. The test case, so conclusive to those Sadducees against a resurrection, broke down at once. The condition necessitated for its validity will not exist. The Sadducees, trusting to their very limited knowledge, made shipwreck of the faith by denying a fundamental truth, as we now know that of the resurrection to be (1 Cor. xv. 13-17). He who came down from heaven here declares the condition of saints in heaven, thereby showing the baselessness of Sadducean ground and the folly of their contention.

But more than that, they were ignorant of Scripture. They had quoted from the law of Moses in support of their position. The Lord refuted their tenet from the law, quoting Ex. iii. 6: "Now [or, but] that the dead are raised, even Moses showed at [or rather, in the place concerning] the Bush, when he called the Lord the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob; for He is not a God of the dead, but of the living" (Luke xx. 37, 38). How simply the tables were turned. Deut. xxv. 5 demonstrated in their eyes the folly of looking for a resurrection. Ex. iii. 6 distinctly implied a resurrection. Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob had died long before God thus addressed Moses; yet He was still their God. Hence they did exist, for He is not a God of that which has no existence. Further, though dead, their body was an essential part of their person, for man is a tripartite being, made up of spirit, soul, and body. Resurrection, therefore, of the body must take place. Abraham could not be complete without his body. The spirit of Abraham is one thing; the body of Abraham is another. But if we speak of Abraham, we speak of one to whom spirit, soul, and body all belong. Thus Ex. iii. 6 taught by implication the truth the Sadducees denied; and we learn from the Lord's use of it, that, where there is not a distinct assertion of a truth, there may yet be found what by implication teaches it. Hence the need of weighing carefully the statements of the Divine Word. How many a grievous mistake has been made from either assuming that one knows all about a subject because one knows a little of it, or from a lack of careful attendance to the words of the revelation vouchsafed us.

Luke now adds a few words which are of universal importance, and deeply concern all men: "For all live unto Him." Dead to us here, they live to God. Death, then, does not terminate any man's existence. They live to God. This refers of course to all the dead, and concerns therefore all the living. The Sadducees had raised a question of a resurrection of the body. The Lord in reply showed that He rejected all their distinctive tenets, as stated in Acts xxiii. 8. The resurrection is a Scripture truth. Angels there are, and the saints when raised will be equal to them. Spirits, too, exist,* for all the unclothed live to God. Into the far-reaching results of resurrection the Lord did not here enter. Resurrection from the dead was still a future event. When that, however, had been established by the Lord's resurrection, the Spirit of God opened up the subject further (1 Cor. xv.).

{*Josephus states (Antiquities, xviii. 1, 4) the Sadducees taught that the soul died with the body. The Lord's words recorded by Luke, "All live unto Him," have, in the light of this statement, a most pointed application. Nor are they devoid of force against opponents of eternal punishment in our day.}

Meanwhile the Sadducees were put to silence. What they felt on receiving the Lord's reply no evangelist has put on record. The effect of it on the multitude Matthew relates (xxii. 33): "They were astonished at His doctrine." The impression made on one of the scribes Mark (xii. 28) intimates, and Luke, recording the utterance of some of them, leaves us in no doubt of their judgment as to it: "Master, Thou hast well said" (xx. 39). Both the Pharisees and the Sadducees had been met on their own selected ground, and were discomfited. "They durst not," writes Luke, "ask Him any question at all" (xx. 40). Now then He was free to question them.

David's Son and David's Lord. — This He does, turning them to the Old Testament. Each party had an object in questioning Him. He had one in putting a question to them. With the Pharisees, as we have seen, there was the desire to find something against Him; with the Sadducees it was evidently to gain a triumph for their pet doctrine. With the Lord it was to meet a difficulty which the Jews had, viz., how He, being a man, made Himself God (John x. 33). Now the Psalm (cx.) to which He referred could throw much light on this subject. Hence, if possible, to help honest souls, the Lord asked the question, and in a very public way, "How say they that the Christ is David's Son? And [or, for] David himself saith in the book of Psalms, The Lord saith unto my Lord, Sit Thou on My right hand, till I make Thine enemies Thy footstool. David therefore calleth Him Lord; how is He then his Son?" (Luke xx. 41-44). A little reflection might have taught some that David's Son was to be David's Lord, and must be God as well, since He was able to sit (as David foretold) at the right hand of Jehovah, and that by Jehovah's expressed wish. Scripture then spoke beforehand of One who would be both God and man. To understand this mystery is beyond us. "No man knoweth the Son but the Father" (Matt. xi. 27). But, that there would be One who is both God and man in one person, was clearly revealed in the Scripture to which the Lord attracted the attention of His hearers, and notably, as Matthew (xxii. 41) tells us, His opponents the Pharisees. The Messiah, the Christ, would be that Person.

The Lord had come as David's Son, and as the long-expected Christ (John iv. 26). He had given proofs, too, by what He did that He answered to the prophetic description of the coming One (Matt. xi. 4, 5). Men and women had found for themselves that He was the Christ (John i. 41, 45, 49, iv. 29; Matt. xvi. 16). The demons too knew it (Luke iv. 41). Why then stumble at His claim to be the Father's Son? It was indisputable that David's Son was to sit on Jehovah's throne, on which no one but He who is God could ever be. That Psalm then, when pondered over, could remove prejudices, and let the light of truth shine into the soul. The Lord here gave by His question the key to that which so many had not understood, but in vain; we read not of one convinced by it. No evangelist tells us of a fresh disciple being thereby added to His followers, though the common people [literally, the great multitude, i.e., the mass] heard Him gladly," as Mark notes. (xii. 37). And Matthew (xxii. 46) has put on record that "no man was able to answer Him a word; neither durst any man from that day forth ask Him any more questions." He had effectually silenced His opposers, yet not silenced them only. Many a disputant has been utterly crushed by a spirited reply or a clever retort. The Lord's object, as we have said, was, whilst silencing all, to help all who really wished for help; and therefore He drew attention to that verse the bearing of which had evidently not been apprehended. What a verse it is, so full of instruction on more points than one! How many since the cross have reaped rich blessing from it, as opened up by the Spirit of God in Heb. i. 13; x. 12-14. But into that we must not now enter.

Before Man and before God. — Now, free from the attacks of disputants, He turned to address His disciples. For the remainder of that day He spoke to them (Luke xx. 45 — xxi. 36), first warning them against the scribes, and then commending a poor widow for her offering to the treasury of God. God's estimate of men's actions and man's might be, and often are, very different. All however was open to Him, and He unfolded it. What the scribes delighted in, what they did, and their motives too He noticed and exposed. Chief places in the synagogues and at feasts in private houses — in these they delighted, whilst widows' houses they devoured, and for show, to gain a reputation for sanctity before men, they made long prayers. At the root of all that lay self in one form or another. Against that class the disciples were warned, for they "shall receive greater condemnation" (xx. 47). Man's estimate is one thing; God's estimate is another.

Then, sitting over against the treasury, He observed those who cast in their gifts. Varied were the amounts. "Many that were rich," writes Mark (xii. 41), "cast in much." One poor widow however there was whom the Lord saw casting in just two mites. Men would naturally have been attracted by, and have commended, the rich for their larger offerings. The Lord commended the poor widow. Doubtless in the most unobtrusive way she contributed to the receipts of the temple treasury. Very probably she told no one about it, and the trifling sum as it fell amongst the heap would make little or no sound. The Lord however knew and declared exactly what she had given. Of course He knew the amount that each had contributed whilst He sat there, but the only offering, the amount of which has never been forgotten, was just that which naturally would never have been remembered. But He did not speak, that we learn, to her; He spoke with commendation of her. Very likely she slipped away as quietly as she had come, not caring to be seen; for what she gave she gave to God, and intended that it should be a secret between Him and her. In the balances of the heavenly sanctuary however that little offering was weighed, and was prized above all the others. It was not, it is not, the amount of the gift in itself that God values, but its amount in its relation to the circumstances of the giver. Those two mites were all her living. It may be she knew not whose eye rested on her as she slipped the coin into the treasury, nor perhaps at the time was she aware of His commendation. In a coming day however, when many a costly offering will have been for long buried in oblivion, those two mites will be remembered by Him who saw her, and before whom she will stand. Profession without reality is abhorrent to God. Of that the scribes were an example. Profession which is real, as displayed by that poor widow, will be ever remembered by Him. Are we desirous to gain the applause of men, or that praise which comes from God? (John xii. 43).

A Prophecy. — After this He left the temple; and as He went out, one of His disciples, Mark specifically informs us (13: 1) — but his name has been withheld — directed His attention to the goodly stones and offerings with which that house was adorned. The Lord in reply foretold its overthrow, which would be so complete that one stone should not be left on another that should not be thrown down. This struck them all; and four of them — Peter, James, John, and Andrew (Mark xiii. 3) — asked Him privately about it when sitting with Him that day on the Mount of Olives and facing the temple.

The three evangelists Matthew, Mark, and Luke record portions of His reply according as they relate to the questions which they tell us were put to Him. To understand to what they severally allude, it is important to remember this. In Matthew (xxiv. 3) we learn that He was asked, "When shall these things be? and what shall be the sign of Thy coming, and of the end of the age?" This was far-reaching, having reference to His return in power. In Mark (xiii. 4) we read that the Lord was asked, "When shall these things be? and what shall be the sign when all these things shall be fulfilled?" This, too, was far-reaching, for Jerusalem's desolations are not ended. Luke, on the other hand, tells us that He was asked, "When shall these things be? and what sign will there be when these things shall [or better, are about to] come to pass?" (xxi. 7). Of the desolation of the temple they all tell us that He was asked but the two former give us in addition questions which concern what is future, whilst our evangelist confines himself to questions which refer to what is now past. For of the commencement of Jerusalem's troubles, and not of the end of them, Luke states that inquiries were made. There is no real difficulty arising from this. All these questions were doubtless put to Him; but the different narrators give those which relate to the Lord's reply, as each was guided of the Spirit to record it.

The subjects of the prophecy are the troubles of Jerusalem resulting from the Lord's rejection by the Jews; the testimony of disciples in consequence of His rejection, and guidance for them in the midst of their sorrows; the whole ending with the Lord's second coming, which will usher in the city's and the nation's deliverance. Now Jerusalem's troubles, which began with the siege of the city by Titus, will not end till the times of the Gentiles have run their course. And as at the beginning of them, so in the closing days of them, there will be found upon earth real disciples of Christ, who will have to bear testimony in the face of direct opposition from their countrymen the Jews. Of these companies of faithful ones the three evangelists write, but Luke especially of the past, whereas Matthew and Mark dwell much on the trials of the coming days. In accord with what we have remarked, Luke, it will be found, acquaints us with the commencement of the sorrows of the holy city, when she was to be compassed about with armies and destroyed by Titus (xxi. 20, 24), and of her desolation for a long period after that, ending with the Lord's return, when the nation's redemption will have drawn nigh (ver. 28).

Matthew and Mark, on the other hand, dwell more particularly on the closing time of the sorrows (Matt. xxiv. 15-28; Mark xiii. 14-23) of which Daniel, to whom they pointedly refer, had previously written; both evangelists prefacing their reference to that with a mention of enduring "to the end," a thought to which Luke has given no expression. The reason for that, from what we have said, will, we trust, be obvious. To grasp then the full prophetic teaching about Jerusalem, we must put the account by Luke and that by Matthew and Mark together, not seeking to harmonise them, but remembering, as we have stated, that Luke directs attention to the beginning of these times, whereas his fellow-writers give details about the close of them.

This remark will be confirmed as the reader notices two points: first, how Matthew and Mark dwell on troubles connected with the abomination of desolation standing in the holy place, telling us that their equal never had been known, nor after them ever would, and that, in consequence of the fierceness of the trial, for the elect's sake those days shall be shortened (Matt. xxiv. 21, 22; Mark xiii. 19, 20); second, that the Lord's coming is spoken of as following close on those days of fierce trial (Matt. xxiv. 29; Mark xiii. 24). In Luke we have neither mention of those days, nor of the abomination of desolation; and in his gospel we are distinctly taught that a period of time unmeasured in length was to intervene between Jerusalem's capture and the Lord's return (Luke xxi. 24), all this showing plainly that, whilst Luke wrote of the then near future, the other two wrote of the distant future.

Jerusalem besieged. — There are troubles then yet in store for the city and the temple. Titus took the city and destroyed the temple in the past. Again will the city be captured, and the temple be laid low. And the northern power of a coming day, Daniel's king of the north, viewed in Isaiah as the Assyrian, will be the avenger in God's hand of the coming Jewish apostacy. Of both these events, the one past and the one future, Daniel wrote (ix. 26, 27). In ver. 26 what took place under Titus is referred to. In ver. 27 that which yet awaits the city is predicted. It will be besieged, and, as before, resistance will be in vain. For there will come "one that maketh desolate" (R.V., Dan. ix. 27). The apostacy of the last days, fostered by Antichrist and the Roman power, will draw down on the city most awful vengeance.* To this time other Old Testament Scriptures refer. Of the temple's future destruction Psalm lxxiv. treats. We say with confidence future, because no desolation of that house in the past has fulfilled the conditions laid down in that Psalm. Then in Psalm lxxix., evidently closely connected with lxxiv., we read of that coming overthrow of the city predicted by Daniel. To the same capture Isa. xxix. 1-4, we believe, refers, and also Zech. xiv. 1, 2; whilst Joel has foretold (ii. 1-17) the alarm that will be felt at the inroad of that devastating power — the northern army, whose king will be the desolator of Dan. ix. 27. A second siege of the city will be attempted, when the Lord will appear and deliver His people. To this last siege Zech. xii. 2-9 refers.

{*It is well called the abomination of desolation that maketh desolate (Dan. xii. 11). For an idol is an abomination, and desolation will result from it. Rev. xiii. 14, 15 helps us to understand what the idol will be — the image of the beast; just as Antiochus Epiphanes put a statue of Jupiter on the altar of burnt offering, which was styled by Daniel in somewhat similar terms (xi. 31).}

We have entered somewhat at length into the difference between the evangelists in this prophecy, because it is an important matter to grasp the points dwelt on by them in order to understand the dispensational teaching of the last days. And now just a few words on the order of the prophecy as given us by Luke.

Wars, political commotions, and physical disturbances would be experienced; fearful sights, too, and great signs from heaven were to be witnessed,* as the day of Jerusalem's trouble under the Romans drew nigh. False Christs would appear, and men might be thinking that the dissolution of all things was at hand. "But," said the Lord, "the end is not by-and-by" [or, immediately] (vers. 8-11). And before even those portentous events would begin, the Lord's true disciples would feel the persecuting power of their countrymen. Guidance, therefore, for them in such circumstances is vouchsafed, for to be hated of all men would be their lot; but "in patience they were to possess [or, win] their souls" (vers. 12-19). Then follow the prediction of the Roman army investing the city, and directions for the disciples as to what they were to do in consequence, lest they should be involved in its fate, the Lord at the same time foretelling that sorrows were in store for Jerusalem from that date till the times of the Gentiles should be fulfilled (vers. 20-24). After which, those times viewed as ending when the Lord returns, events connected with this last period are succinctly stated, and His people exhorted to look up and to lift up their heads, for their redemption then will draw nigh (vers. 25-28).

{*That such things were witnessed Josephus relates (Wars, VI. v. 3), and so attests the fulfilment of the prediction. As with the past, so will it be with the future, all shall be fulfilled.}

And now we are told — and Luke alone has preserved this — what men will be feeling and thinking in that awful time when the Lord's return in power is close at hand. "There shall be signs in sun and moon and stars." Of these his brother evangelists have also written but he adds, "and upon the earth distress of nations, in perplexity for the roaring [as we should read] of the sea and the waves; men's hearts failing [or, fainting] for fear, and for looking after those things which are coming on the earth; for the powers of the heavens shall be shaken" (xxi. 25, 26). What a time it will be! But He who foresees future events knows too beforehand what His creatures will then be feeling and thinking. Hence there can be a prophetic ministry to meet the need of saints at that time — of this the Psalms are full — as well as a prophetic description of the thoughts of others at that time. We know, therefore, not only what men will then be feeling, but also, as we learn elsewhere, what the devil will be feeling in those days, "having great wrath, because he knoweth that he hath but a short time" (Rev. xii. 12). Then the whole closes with the return of the Son of man from heaven, "coming with power and great glory." That event is kept before all. It will come despite the efforts of men and demons.

The Times of the Gentiles. — A word on the times of the Gentiles, of which the Lord had made mention. Apparently the disciples quite understood what He meant, for none of them asked for an explanation. But does every reader of the gospels understand what that phrase means, and from whence those times date? With Jerusalem's fortunes, and with those of the land of Canaan very much of God's purposes about earth is bound up. The throne once established at Jerusalem will be restored to her in a coming day. Meanwhile sovereign power over her is in the hands of Gentiles. This state of things commenced in the days of Nebuchadnezzar with the Babylonish captivity, and dates from the fourth year of Jehoiakim, king of Judah, when power over men, and beasts, and birds, was put into Nebuchadnezzar's hands as the head of gold (Jer. xxv. 9-11, xxvii. 6, 7; Dan. ii. 37, 38). And those times will run on in accordance with Nebuchadnezzar's dream given in that chapter of Daniel just referred to, till the stone cut out without hands shall break in pieces the image, and put an end to the four monarchies, and fill the whole earth. Then kingly power will again be exercised at Jerusalem, and the times of the Gentiles will have terminated. Till that comes to pass Jerusalem is to be, as she is still, trodden down of the Gentiles.

Now follow first a parable and next a warning. The parable (vers. 29-31), common, for the most part, to the three evangelists, is that of the trees, with special mention of the fig-tree, putting forth their leaves, the token that summer is nigh. So when the things just spoken of come to pass it will be known that the kingdom of God is near. And they will come to pass, for God's word will not pass away, nor, said the Lord, will this generation pass away, till all be fulfilled. The warning that follows (vers. 34-36), peculiar in some respects to Luke, charges the disciples to be watchful, lest that coming day should take them unawares. "Take heed," are His words, "to yourselves, lest haply your hearts be overcharged with surfeiting, and drunkenness, and cares of this life, and that day come on you suddenly as a snare for so shall it come upon all them that dwell on the face of all the earth. But watch ye at every season, making supplication, that ye may prevail to escape all these things that shall come to pass, and to stand before the Son of man." We have given the revised version of the passage, as there are several alterations consequent on following the better readings.

In both chap. xvii. and here we are taught of the Lord's second coming. In the former the Lord was speaking of the day in which He will be revealed, a day which will be evident to all upon earth. Here He was telling His disciples of the fortunes of the city, and of that which they would experience, all ending with His appearing and the redemption of the godly remnant. Judgment and the suddenness of it He spoke of in chap. xvii. Deliverance for His own at His appearing He taught in chap. xxi.

Difficulties. — Two difficulties may here present themselves to the reader. The Lord of course knew well, and had stated it, that His coming to reign was not then near at hand. It would not, in fact, come in the lifetime of His hearers. Why, then, it may be asked, did He address the warning about that day to those before Him? And what did He mean when He said, "This generation shall not pass away till all be fulfilled?"

As to the first of these. The warning given to be watchful, etc., is applicable in principle to disciples at all times. Remembering, however, that He was addressing some of the godly remnant of the Jews, who as such were representatives in their day of the remnant of the future, one need find no difficulty in the language of the Master. Compare Matt. x. 23: "Ye shall not have gone over the cities of Israel till the Son of man be come." This had evidently no fulfilment in His lifetime, for the disciples were persecuted, as is contemplated in that chapter, in no city whilst He was here in their midst. In their character, however, as part of the remnant of their day, they might well be addressed, the representatives, viewed in that light, of His servants among the Jews in the future.

As to the second difficulty. Though the words, "This generation," etc., might grammatically be applied to that then existing, they were clearly not intended to be taken in that sense in the prophecy. All three evangelists record this saying, and hence one can have no difficulty in perceiving the sense in which the words are to be understood.

For (1) the time referred to — viz., when all shall come to pass — we learn from Matt. xxiv. 14, cannot be till the gospel of the kingdom has been preached in all the world for a witness. Now that gospel, preached by the Lord and His disciples, never went out before the cross to any of the Gentiles (Matt. x. 5), nor was it ever preached after the Lord's resurrection. Another, and a very different gospel He gave His disciples to preach consequent on His death and resurrection, even the gospel of the grace of God, which still goes forth (Luke xxiv. 46, 47). The gospel of the kingdom, now in abeyance, will, however, be heard afresh, though only after the Church has left earth. Till that gospel is revived and preached to all nations, the end cannot come.

(2) Both Matthew and Mark refer to the abomination of desolation spoken of by Daniel the prophet, which must stand in the holy place ere the end comes. Now Daniel himself teaches us (xii. 11, 12) that not till near the close of Israel's long night of trouble will that be seen. And the Jews must be back in their land, and their worship have been re-established, ere that sign of apostacy will be displayed (Dan. viii. 11-14).

(3) The times of the Gentiles must run out, as Luke states (xxi. 24), before all the things spoken of in the prophecy are fulfilled. So from all this it is clear that the term "this generation" was not intended to mean just the generation alive in the Lord's day. It was meant, we believe, to refer to the Jewish race. That race shall not pass away till all shall be fulfilled. In that sense the word "generation" is used in the Septuagint (Deut. xxxii. 5, 20; Jer. vii. 28; viii. 3).* Of the nation then the Lord was speaking, and we are witnesses that Israel exists as a nation to this day. Other races have become merged, and their distinct nationality lost; but Israel remains still distinct, not reckoned among the nations, as Balaam predicted (Num. xxiii. 9).

{*Some would take the term here in a moral sense, as a collective whole, whose bond of union is not contemporaneousness, but similarity of disposition, referring to Psalm xxiv. 6, lxxiii. 15, cxii. 2, as examples of it. Whilst preferring the explanation in the text, it will be seen that there is ample evidence of the use of the term in the Septuagint in senses not restricted to men of any given age.}

Dwellers upon the Earth. — One other point may be noticed. The Lord in ver. 35 of the prophecy spoke of dwellers (lit. sitters) on the face of the whole earth, to whom His appearing will be an awful and a most unwelcome surprise. Who are these? There will be godly souls earnestly desiring His appearing (Isa. lxiv. 1). There will be apostates who, if it were possible, would keep Him out of His kingdom (Rev. xix. 19). We believe the people of which the Lord speaks are a moral class, who have chosen earth as their home, not heaven, and who would dwell here in fancied security, very probably the same people described in Revelation (iii. 10; vi. 10; viii. 13; xi. 10; xiii. 8, 14; xiv. 6; xvii. 2, 8), somewhat in a similar way, and who are the worst class in that book.

The prophecy was ended, and that day's teaching, as far as Luke's record of it goes, was now concluded. But the Lord's unwearied service was still carried on, the evangelist describing in a few concluding words His occupation throughout that last week of His life upon earth: "In the daytime He was teaching in the temple, and at night He went out and abode in the mount, that is called the mount of Olives. And all the people came early in the morning to Him in the temple, for to hear Him" (xxi. 37, 38). How well this short statement falls in with the grace so markedly characteristic of this gospel, the Lord daily teaching those desirous to hear Him! But of anything said to them after that which we have read, Luke gives not a word. The Light of the world was shortly to be put out of it. It was fitting, therefore, that the last teaching on that day carried on the disciples in thought to the time of His return. The Sun will rise. The day will dawn, a morning without clouds. With that before them in prospect, the shades of night might now settle on the scene. The kingdom will be set up, a kingdom which shall never be destroyed; but for that to come about the Lord must, according to the counsels of God, first die. So to events connected with His death the historian will now conduct us.

The Last Day upon Earth (Luke 22 — 23).

15. From Eve to Dawn (Luke xxii. 1-65)

The last day of His life of humiliation approached, a day never to be forgotten, the centre, as it were, of time, and on the events of which hung the interests of millions for eternity. Now that day began — for it is reckoned after the Jewish computation — with the observance of the Passover, and ended with the death and burial of the true Paschal Lamb. But before entering upon details concerning it, the evangelist prefaces what he intends to write, first with a notice of a council held in the house of Caiaphas (xxii. 1- 6), and then with the preparation on the part of Peter and John for the last paschal supper in an upper room at Jerusalem (vers. 7-13).

"The feast of unleavened bread drew nigh, which is called the Passover." On previous occasions the Lord had been found at Jerusalem now He was there again, but under special circumstances. His presence among them had become unbearable to the chief priests, the scribes, and the elders. They could tolerate it no longer. By some means they must, they felt, get rid of Him. Their national welfare and continued political existence depended, as they thought, on His apprehension and death (John xi. 47-53). So they were sitting in conclave about this in the house of Caiaphas the high-priest (Matt. xxvi. 3-5), to determine on some way for effecting it. But how should they manage it? for they feared the people.

Judas Iscariot. — One here comes upon the scene of whom little has been heard before, viz., Judas Iscariot, i.e., a man of Kerioth of Judea, an appellation which he bore in common with his father, Simon, as John (vi. 71; xiii. 26) really informs us. He was one of the twelve, and is always named last in the list, and the only one of them, as far as we know, who was a native of Judea. Till the supper at Bethany, nothing special is recorded of him, though the Lord had in the sixth chapter of John distinctly referred to him as a devil. His character and his awful treachery were even then fully known to Him. But circumstances had to develop what was within; and the rebuke he received from the Lord in the house of Simon the leper, the first occasion that we read of on which he opened his mouth (John xii. 4), was the inciting cause of his treachery. This both Matthew and Mark teach us by their introduction of the story of Mary of Bethany anointing the Lord, not in its chronological order as related by John, but in connection with that council held in the house of Caiaphas the high-priest.

Sitting in council, but evidently having elaborated no settled plan for the accomplishment of their purpose, from a most unexpected quarter assistance was proffered. Judas appeared before them, and offered himself for the unholy work. Surprised doubtless, but delighted at that, in their eyes, most opportune intervention, the bargain was soon struck, and for the paltry reward of thirty pieces of silver the wretched man was to seek an opportunity to betray his Master in the absence of the multitude. No one had attempted his seduction. No one, that we read of, had even approached him to sound him on the subject. Voluntarily he offered himself, for Satan had entered into him (Luke xxii. 3). The love of money was strong within him. "He was a thief," writes John (xii. 6), "and having the bag, bare [i.e., purloined] what was put therein."* But covetous though he was, no reward had been offered for the Lord's apprehension to tempt his cupidity. He offered himself, smarting evidently under that justly deserved rebuke administered publicly four days previous at Bethany. He asked, as Matthew (xxvi. 15) states, "What will ye give me?" That question showed that none had tempted him by a pecuniary consideration.

{*This seems the bearing of the Apostle John's remark. For to limit the meaning to simply carrying would be here, as Meyer truly remarks, tautological; for, of course, if he had charge of the bag he carried it.}

Here we would pause to remark on the man, and on the fulfilment of the prophetic word in his case. We see in him one who had opportunities and advantages such as few possessed. Chosen to be an Apostle, to be with the Lord, and to go out and preach like the rest of that company, he nevertheless remained an unrenewed man, ready to become the devil's instrument to betray his Master. What is man? What an evil heart he has, that after intercourse with Christ such as only Apostles enjoyed, witnessing the works done, and hearing the words uttered, he can remain unsoftened! Nothing could more distinctly intimate the need of the new birth, on which the Lord had years before insisted (John iii.).

Further, Judas' history is instructive as we view it in connection with the fulfilment of prophecy. To three different Psalms (xli.; lxix.; cix.) are we directed in the New Testament as applicable to him. The Lord (John xiii. 18) refers to xli. 9 as prophetic of Judas' treachery. Peter (Acts i. 20) applies the language of Psalms lxix. 25, cix. 8, as foretelling what should take effect consequent on his sin and death. His treachery, then, was distinctly the subject of prophecy; and he was chosen among the twelve that the word of God might be fulfilled (John. xiii. 18). Yet who ever looked for a traitor in that company? Evidently the chief priests, as we have remarked, had no previous thought of help from such a quarter, else why meet in council before Judas made overtures to them? Then we learn from Peter's own words to the Lord (John vi. 68, 69), and from those of Thomas about Him (John xi. 16), their attachment to Christ and that of others from close personal intercourse with Him. The sorrow, too, and the amazement which the eleven felt and expressed on hearing of the Lord's approaching betrayal by one of their number (Matt. xxvi. 22), show how inconceivable it was in their eyes that one among them should do such a thing. The inquiring among themselves who should do it, and the question, "Is it I" as it came from each one, indicated their inability to conceive that any of their number could be guilty of such baseness and wickedness. The Lord's positive declaration they could not doubt, but it came like a thunderclap upon them. Who could be ready, be willing, for such treachery? Most unlikely then was it according to human thought that from among the twelve the traitor should appear. Scripture, indeed, had not predicted that an Apostle should do it, though it spoke of one in familiar intercourse with the Lord who would turn against Him. We see how it was. Scripture was fulfilled. God's word came literally true. God's word does come true. And we may rest assured, and be fortified in that assurance by the history of Judas, that, however unlikely it may beforehand appear, what God has foretold will certainly be brought about.

Preparations for the Passover. — Whilst Judas and the rulers were concerting their plans, the Lord knowing all about them (Matt. xxvi. 2), the passover drew nigh; and Peter and John, as Luke alone informs us, were commissioned to go to Jerusalem and to prepare for it: "Go and prepare us the passover, that we may eat" (Luke xxii. 8). But where? The Lord had no abode at Jerusalem, as He had at Capernaum, nor had He passed a night within the city's walls all that week. Where then should they find a suitable chamber for the purpose? They knew not, so they asked Him, "Where wilt Thou that we prepare?" God has always ready what is needed for His work. And as in the case of the owners of the ass at Bethphage, so in that of the owner of the upper room in Jerusalem, the Lord knew where could be found the man who would provide what He needed. Probably, as with those at Bethphage, the man was a secret disciple, though evidently hitherto unknown to the Apostles as such. His name is never mentioned. How they were to find him and his house was therefore told them. Entering the city, they would meet with a man evidently a stranger to them bearing a pitcher of water. Meeting with him, they were to follow him into a house. Conversation with him was uncalled for. Their directions were to follow him. Where he entered they were to enter, and then address the master of the house with a message from the Lord: "The Teacher saith unto thee, Where is the guest-chamber, where I shall eat the passover with My disciples?" A few days before all the city had been stirred at His entry; but a commandment had gone forth from the chief priests and Pharisees that if any man knew where He was he should show it, that they might take Him (John xi. 57). To provide a room then for Him might expose the owner to trouble, if he did not denounce Him. But that man was willing to further the wishes of the Teacher. He showed them a large upper room furnished, the couches and the carpets being all ready, and now it appeared for whom. There they made ready.

Very possibly that upper room was well known afterwards and much frequented. For there seems nothing against the supposition* that there the Lord appeared to the eleven on the day of His resurrection; and in it six weeks afterwards, on the assembled company of disciples, with the owner in that case probably among them, took place the outpouring of the Holy Ghost. The Teacher! That would and did appeal to the man. For the Teacher the owner gave the room, and amply doubtless was he repaid.

{*It is right to state that Luke does not use the same word in the Acts to designate the chamber by which he has described it in his Gospel. Yet there seems nothing to militate against the thought that it was the same room, though the fact above mentioned would make any one cautious about positively affirming that it was.}

The Paschal Supper. — Things being thus all in train, we are now introduced to events of the last day of the Lord's life in humiliation, which commenced, as we have before said, with His celebration of the paschal supper. And though Luke traverses ground trodden in common by his fellow-biographers, yet his independence of them all, as well as his manner of marshalling his facts, deserves notice. All of them tell us of the passover, yet he alone has informed us of the strife amongst the Apostles whilst sitting at that feast. Again, whereas Matthew and Mark dwell on the preliminary examination of the Lord before the high-priest, Luke, passing over that, tells us of His formal condemnation by the Sanhedrin on the following morning (xxii. 66-71). So of the angel in the garden, and the story of the penitent thief on the cross, our evangelist is our only informant. And he, and he only, has separated in his account the observance of the paschal supper from the institution of the Lord's Supper. To Luke's care and investigation are we, under God, greatly indebted.

The hour came for the Lord to sit down in the upper room with the twelve. "With desire I have desired," He said, "to eat this passover with you before I suffer; for I say unto you, I will not any more eat it until it be fulfilled in the kingdom of God" (Luke xxii. 15, 16). It was the last passover in accordance with the mind of God that has as yet been kept. We say as yet, because by-and-bye the Mosaic ritual will be revived; and throughout the millennium the passover will be again observed (Ezek. xlv. 21). With the Lord's death and the coming of the Holy Ghost at Pentecost the observance of the Mosaic ritual began to fall into abeyance, and believers from among the Jews gradually discerned that their place was to be outside the camp, Jerusalem and the temple being, as it were, by them left behind. By the Lord's death the passover received its fulfilment, as by the coming of the Holy Ghost the feast of weeks received its fulfilment. The blood of the paschal lamb typified the blood of Christ. He, as our passover, has been sacrificed (1 Cor. v. 7). But the passover was not then fulfilled. So the Lord partook of it. He desired to do it. What thoughts, we may say with reverence, must have been in His mind! The remembrance of God's intervention in Egypt was not to be lightly treated. That night was to be "much observed unto the Lord for bringing them out from the land of Egypt; this is that night of the Lord to be observed of all the children of Israel in their generations" (Ex. xii. 42). As one of Israel, the Virgin's Child, the Lord observed it.

He ate the passover, but passed the cup in connection with it, as we believe, without drinking of it. A cup and more than one, three or four, we are told, — were drunk at that supper; but they were all an addition to God's institution, and the Lord did not on this occasion partake of them. That they were an addition the reader may see as he peruses the sixteenth chapter of Deuteronomy, which treats of the spirit in which each of the three great festivals was to be kept. At the feast of weeks and at that of tabernacles rejoicing was to be a marked feature (vers. 11, 14). At the passover not a word of that have we, but with unleavened bread, the bread of affliction, they were to eat of it. Joy characterised those feasts which could only be kept after they entered the land of their inheritance.* Passover, which could be observed in the wilderness, was not therefore characterised by joy. That they should have introduced a cup after they had entered the land one can readily understand. The instinct was right so far, though wine formed no part of the original institution. So on this occasion the Lord just before His death ate of the paschal supper in obedience to the Word, but passed to His disciples untouched by Himself the cup of wine. The time for full joy will come. Then, when the kingdom of God shall have come in power, He will drink of it, rejoicing with His own in His Father's kingdom.

{*The spiritual meaning of this marked distinction between the passover and the other two feasts will be apparent when it is remembered that at the feasts of weeks, or Pentecost, the Holy Ghost was poured out. Joy characterises His indwelling of the saints. Further those two feasts could neither of them be kept in the wilderness (Lev. xxiii. 10), but only after Israel entered the land, which typically spoke of saints being risen with Christ and seated in the heavenly places in Him (Col. iii. 1; Eph. ii. 6). Such can indeed rejoice.}

The Lord's Supper. — From the celebration of the paschal supper Luke proceeds to tell Theophilus of the institution of the Lord's Supper. This, we learn from his gospel, was quite distinct from the other, though instituted at the same table. It was also something quite new, and has a feature peculiar to itself. No service is there like it, for it is wholly eucharistic. Now the Lord was as the host. It was His supper, and the disciples were the guests seated at His table. Of His supper, of course, He did not partake. Of the passover He did. Then He was one of Israel commemorating in the appointed way the national deliverance from judgment in Egypt. At the supper He was the Dispenser to His disciples of that which was to be the memorial of His death. The two were very different in object and in character. At the passover there was remembered the goodness of Jehovah towards Israel; at the Lord's Supper there was to be before the mind the death of the Lord Jesus. To be eaten with unleavened bread, the bread of affliction, was the Divine command about the former (Deut. xvi. 3); thanksgiving, and that only, characterised the latter. The former was wholly retrospective; celebrating the latter, we look back and look forward, for till He come, as 1 Cor. xi. 26 states, we show the Lord's death who died for us, and eat of His supper in remembrance of Him (Luke xxii. 19).

As they did eat (Mark xiv. 22) the Lord "took bread, and when He had given thanks He brake it, and gave to them, saying, This is My body which is given for you; this do in remembrance of Me" (Luke xxii. 19). He took bread, for He was inaugurating what was quite new; and He gave thanks. What a moment that must have been when He was heard giving thanks in view of His death upon the cross! Thanksgiving, not prayer, occupied Him at that time. How speaking is this to us! He knew — and His act of giving thanks showed it — that nothing could be added to enhance the efficacy of His atoning death, and nothing would be lacking that a sinner needs of sacrifice when that death should have taken place. The sufficiency and the abiding efficacy of His sacrifice His thanksgiving abundantly attests. His body given for us! The hour for that was at hand. And great though His sufferings would be — and who knows what they were but Himself? — His heart overflowed in thanksgiving as He surveyed in anticipation the rich and far-reaching results of His death. But instituting the supper for His own disciples, He concentrated their thoughts at the table on the benefits they would receive. "My body which is given for you." A substitute indeed! Of the broken bread they were to eat, the symbol of His body given for them, then in anticipation, afterward in commemoration.

But more, there was a cup of which they were to drink. When celebrating the paschal supper He received a cup (Luke xxii. 17), one, we may suppose, which had been handed to Him, according to custom. Now He took the cup (Matt. xxvi. 27) — a spontaneous act on His part — and gave thanks. How full must His heart have been! After that He handed it to His disciples, with words explanatory of what it symbolised: "This cup is the new covenant in My blood, which is shed for you." So writes Luke. Of that new covenant Jeremiah (xxxi. 31) had written, a revelation made only to him. The first covenant had been ratified by the blood of victims (Ex. xxiv. 1-8). On what would the new one rest? Hitherto that had been a secret. Now it was disclosed, and He who was about to suffer, shedding His blood for it, had the joy of disclosing this. On His blood it would rest.

Of the blessings connected with the new covenant Jeremiah had also written. Those with whom it will be made will know God and the forgiveness of their sins. Of forgiveness of sins through the blood of Christ Matthew makes mention (xxvi. 28), and he only; for, in harmony with the dispensational teaching of his gospel, he fittingly has put on record those gladdening words of the Lord, and thus has directly connected that blood which we remember in the supper with Jeremiah's prophecy. Israel nationally will be blessed by virtue of the blood of Christ. Christians, too, and that now, share in blessings through that blood, even forgiveness of sins and justification, etc. (Eph. i. 7; Col. i. 14; Rom. v. 9). So, though Israel will enjoy the blessings of the new covenant which will rest on the blood of Christ, the Lord at the institution of His supper, whilst mentioning that covenant, connected the blessings of the disciples, as ours also, not with that which as yet has never been made, but directly with His precious blood shed, now long ago, on the cross. It is important to mark and to understand this. We have nothing to do with the new covenant, though the blood on which it rests is that in which we have everlasting interest.

Sin and Sins. — Of His body given for us, of His blood shed for us, He spoke, and would have us ever to remember them both. This, too, is important. For there are two distinct needs of fallen man, who has an evil nature, and has committed sins: sin has to be dealt with on his behalf, and his sins need to be forgiven. By virtue of the Lord's death, the former will be put away from the believer in the future, as well as from this creation ere the eternal state commences. The Lord appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself (Heb. ix. 26), being the Lamb of God who taketh away the sin (not sins) of the world (John i. 29). Saints will get free from the presence of sin within them on the ground of the Lord's sacrifice. Israel's land will share in the deliverance from sin's presence at the appearing of Christ, as the vision of the ephah in Zech. v. 6-11 seems to teach. And earth will be finally freed from its presence when righteousness shall dwell in it (2 Peter iii. 13). This, we believe, is the reason — and we submit it to the judgment of the reader — why the Lord's body given for us is mentioned at the supper as distinct from His blood, by which last forgiveness of sins is procured. We need, and shall enjoy, deliverance from the presence of sin; we who believe on the Lord Jesus Christ now know forgiveness of our sins. His blood especially meets the latter need; by His death provision is made for the former.

We have referred to Jeremiah. Another reference to his book may cast some light on the Lord instituting a supper of bread and wine. We learn therein (Jer, xvi. 7) of a custom of comforting mourners. We quote the Revised Version, which gives the sense of the original more clearly: "Neither shall men break bread for them in mourning, to comfort them for the dead; neither shall men give them the cup of consolation to drink for their father or for their mother." Clearly, as these words teach us, there was a custom of comforting mourners by breaking bread for them, and giving them to partake of a cup of consolation. Who would comfort the disciples after the Lord's departure? They would be without friends to do that, He then Himself would comfort them; and providing the supper, which speaks of rich and everlasting blessing flowing from His death, He would cheer them, though deprived of His presence, by the remembrance that, though He had died, He was risen, and would return. For, as 1 Cor. xi. 26 puts it, "ye do show the Lord's death till He come." Of course the Lord's Supper in its teaching goes far beyond such a ministry of consolation. But who, with Jer. xvi. before them, can say that there was no thought of that kind in the Lord's mind when He instituted it? Of love stronger than death it surely speaks. But the greater proof of love of which it reminds us need not wholly banish the thought of His love manifested in consoling those who would lose His presence, as they had known and enjoyed it.

Betrayed and denied. — We have seen the two suppers, though distinguished, placed close together, both of them having been instituted by Divine authority, the one in Egypt, the other at Jerusalem. Now some revelations given by the Lord that same night are brought under our notice, not mentioned indeed in chronological sequence, but marshalled, as, we have seen, is Luke's habit, in a moral order. Divine institutions having been first mentioned, men's ways and acts are next set before us, viz., the wickedness of Judas, the strife among the eleven, and the prediction of Peter's fall. Chronological order, we have said, is here disregarded. The bread, the symbol of the Lord's body, was given them to eat whilst the paschal supper (though quite distinct from it) was proceeding (Matt. xxvi. 26). The cup was handed, according to Luke, only after they had supped (xxii. 20). A little interval of time, therefore, may have elapsed between these two acts. With this the revelation vouchsafed to St. Paul agrees (1 Cor. xi. 25). The announcement of Judas' treachery was really made ere the meal was finished (Mark xiv. 18). And the prediction of Peter's denial both Matthew and Mark write of as taking place on the way to Gethsemane. John writes of it (xiii. 38) whilst they were still at the table. Whether the announcement was made first in the upper room, and then on their way to the garden, we do not presume to decide. John, it may be said, does not distinctly fix the time of its communication, neither does Luke. So there may have been but one, that made on the way to the Mount of Olives, as Matthew (xxvi. 30-35) and Mark (xiv. 26-31) have related.

The sin then of Judas and the sin of Peter are both foretold. For the former, Judas, there was no forgiveness; for the latter there would be. Judas would fulfil prophecy: "The Son of man goeth as it was determined; but woe unto that man by whom He is betrayed!" (Luke xxii. 22). And Matthew, who was present, adds (xxvi. 24), and Mark also (xiv. 21), "It had been good for that man if he had not been born." Yes indeed. The sin of Judas was unpardonable, and the wretched man went to his own place, adding to the guilt of betraying his Master the sin of destroying himself. He died by his own hand. Planning in secret, as he thought, with the chief priests the arrest of the Lord, it was made manifest, and that to the whole company, Judas included, that his act of treachery ere it was carried out was known to Him whom it so deeply concerned, and more, that the traitor's sin had centuries previous been the subject of prophetic communication. Of the Lord the Psalmist had written, and of the traitor likewise. The dark design of Judas was inscribed on the page of inspiration. By the tool of Satan the written Word would be fulfilled. In the case of Peter it was different. No Scripture is quoted as fulfilled by his fall, yet that fall was foreknown and foretold. For him the Lord prayed that his faith should not fail, and for him there was service in store. He was to strengthen (or, establish) his brethren (Luke xxii. 32). By his fall he would learn that which would be helpful to others. Grace then he was to prove in a double way, his forgiveness and restoration to service being both foreshadowed. And in this gospel, not in that by Mark, have we mention of this last; for grace, as we have before remarked, is characteristic of it. The willing tool of Satan would die by his own hand. The one ensnared by Satan would be forgiven.

A Surprise. — But we must not anticipate. The announcement by the Lord of His betrayal took the eleven by surprise. For so carefully had Judas concealed his real character up to this time, that evidently none of the rest suspected him. There are times when suspicion at once, and rightly, falls on a person. It was not so in this case. A close secret, too, must the chief priests have kept the fact of their bargain with that man of Kerioth, for as yet no hint of it had oozed out. The Lord, however, by the sop marked out at John's request (John xiii. 25, 26) the one who should betray Him. And then in answer to Judas' question, "Rabbi,* is it I?" of which Matthew has told us, there came that solemn reply "Thou hast said."

{*" Is it I, Lord?" the others said. "Is it I, Rabbi?" said Judas, his language apparently marking a separation in spirit from the rest. Bengel remarks that Judas never calls Him Lord.}

True Greatness. — Meanwhile other thoughts had occupied the rest, evidenced by a strife among them at the table as to which of them should be accounted the greatest. What a time for such a contest! Self in a sordid way was working in Judas. Self too occupied the rest. The Lord then, knowing what was passing, took occasion to instruct them in the lesson of true greatness, as well as in the favour in the kingdom in store for them all. True greatness would be shown in serving. And the Lord Himself exemplified this "I am among you as he that serveth." What a rebuke! Had not He been serving throughout? What more could they say? Ashamed they must have felt of that unseemly strife. "He that is greatest among you," the Lord went on to say, "let him be as the younger; and he that is chief, as he that doth serve." What, too, must they have felt when they saw Him rise from the table, gird Himself, and begin to wash the feet of each one of them (John xiii.)! for it was when at the supper that the Lord stooped to that lowly service. What an illustration of His words, "I am among you as he that serveth," when He who had come from God, and was going to God, ministered in that way to the Apostles!

The Thrones. — Then as to the future, what room could there be for strife amongst those who were all destined to sit on thrones? Would the Lord forget their service? Would He fail to estimate it aright? Let Him speak, and settle that: "Ye are they which have continued with Me in My temptations." So none of them will be forgotten in the coming day. Continuance with Him to the end will certainly have its recognition and full reward. "I appoint," He added, "unto you a kingdom, as my Father hath appointed unto Me, that ye may eat and drink at My table in My kingdom, and sit on thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel" (Luke xxii. 24-30). He had spoken of the twelve thrones on a previous occasion (Matt. xix. 28) with apparently little effect, as the account of the present strife makes only too plain. Had they remembered what Matthew has preserved, would there have been the strife that Luke has recorded? What patience on the Lord's part to teach them as He did!

Now for more information are we indebted to Luke, as he proceeds to tell us, first, of the address to Peter which drew forth that Apostle's rash boast of unswerving fidelity to Him (vers. 31-34), and then of the directions for the whole company in consequence of the changed condition in which they would soon find themselves (vers. 35-38). Speaking first to Peter, the Lord revealed both the desire (or, request) of Satan about them all, and also the fact that He had already made supplication on His servant Peter's behalf. Thus the wish of Satan was laid bare to them; the failure, too, of Peter foretold and his need in consequence. As yet Peter knew neither his danger nor his need. Before he knew either the Lord made supplication for him, a foreshadowing to us of that present service of the Lord as High-priest which He carries on for us. A foreshadowing we say, because till He had died He did not enter on His priesthood. Peter did fall, but his faith failed not, as the Lord had asked for him. And his fall fitted him when restored to strengthen his brethren, so completely was the devil outwitted. He had demanded to have them all that he might sift them as wheat. He did not get them. Peter indeed was led away through rushing into temptation; but the Lord's intercession was heard on his behalf. "To have you," the Lord had said, i.e., all of them. "I have prayed for thee," i.e., Peter; for, as his over-confidence in boasting must receive a check, to teach him his weakness, his faith, when alive to his sin, would be in danger of giving way. But would Peter really fall? Ere the morning came he had thrice denied all knowledge of his Master.

Changed Circumstances. — Consequent on the Lord's death the whole company would experience a change. The world's hatred, from which hitherto they had been screened, they would then prove. When sent out on their mission of preaching during the Lord's life He had cared for them, and men, we may conclude (ix. 4; x. 7, 8), ministered to them. They had lacked nothing, though they had taken nothing with them. Henceforth, with the world against them, they would, as it were, have to provide for themselves: "He that hath a purse, let him take it, and likewise his scrip [or, wallet]; and he that hath no sword, let him sell his garment, and buy one" (ver. 36). Did He intend them to take His word about a sword literally? They apparently thought that, as they said, "Lord, behold, here are two swords." His reply was sufficient to correct their misapprehension. What could two swords avail against the armed force that might be sent against them? And when Peter did use the sword in defence of his Master, the Lord's reproof recorded by Matthew (xxvi. 52), and fittingly in his gospel, as it indicated a dispensational change in dealing with opponents — that reproof, we say, was to set at rest for ever the idea of propagating the kingdom of God now by such weapons. "All they that take the sword, shall perish with the sword." And in a future time this same principle will hold good (Rev. xiii. 10). Great then indeed would be the change. Meanwhile Scripture had to be fulfilled. He was to be numbered with transgressors, for that which concerned Him had an end. Fulfilled it all would be.

The Agony. — From Jerusalem to Olivet the Lord went forth, and the eleven with Him. He was to be numbered with transgressors; but far more than that, He was really to bear Divine judgment for sinners. All this fully known to Him, we learn now from the agony in the garden what the anticipation of that was, as from His crucifixion we are permitted to gather, though faintly, what He passed through in bearing our sins. We say faintly. For that awful cry uttered in Aramaic, "Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?" tells us negatively rather than positively what He then and there endured. He was forsaken of God. But the full depth of sorrow in that who knows but Himself? What however of it has been revealed it was not the purpose of God that Luke should dwell upon. On the agony in the garden our evangelist is brief, and the darkest picture of the cross it was not for him to delineate.

Arrived at Gethsemane — i.e., the oil-press — a spot to which the Lord had often resorted (John xviii. 1, 2), a fact endorsed by Luke in the words "as He was wont" [or, as His custom was], the Lord, with the full consciousness of all that was before Him, and of the power of the enemy which He was to meet and perfectly resist, said to His disciples in warning for them, "Pray that ye enter not into temptation." He had taught them that petition in the Lord's prayer. He here reiterated it. For which of them could withstand for one moment the powerful assaults of the devil? Now the tempter, who had departed from Him for a season, would use His power against Him, if possible to divert Him from that obedience unto death, to conform to which, as God's will for Him, He had come. The Lord in the wilderness had vanquished him by the written Word. Now He resisted him by prayer and obedience. He kneeled down and prayed, "Father, if Thou be willing, remove this cup from Me: nevertheless, not My will, but Thine, be done" (Luke xxii. 42). Often in this gospel have we read of the Lord in prayer, but never before has the evangelist recorded what He said. Now he does. To drink that cup, the cup of death with the judgment of God connected with it, was no light thing for the Holy Sinless One. In obedience to His Father He would drink it. The Father's will, not His own, should be done. The Perfect One would be obedient to death, the death of the cross, to fulfil that will.

We have said that on the agony in the garden Luke is brief. Matthew and Mark tell us of the disposition of the eleven in Gethsemane, Peter, James, and John near the Lord, the rest farther off. They tell us too of His words to the three, "My soul is exceeding sorrowful, even unto death," and of His request that they should watch with Him. They also have noted that three times He went away from them and prayed the same words; and three times did He come back, to find them each time overcome by sleep, sleeping, as Luke tells us, for sorrow. But there are facts which neither Matthew, who was present, nor Mark, who may have heard much from Peter, has noticed, viz., the bloody sweat and the presence of an angel from heaven strengthening Him. All the eleven* probably, but surely we may suppose the three disciples nearest Him, were aware of the angel's presence. Yet neither Matthew nor John has hinted at it. Was that from inadvertence or from design? From design, we believe, since each evangelist presents the Lord in a character peculiar to his gospel. So Luke, who introduces Him as the Son of man, records — and it is fitting that he should — the appearance of the angel to strengthen Him, and has also told us, to show the greatness of the Lord's agony, that "His sweat was [or better, became] as it were great drops of blood, falling down upon the ground."

{*Doubts have been cast on the genuineness of these verses (43, 44) grounded on their absence from some of the most ancient MSS., but all doubts of that are generally admitted to be now set at rest by the evidence which there is in their favour. And their presence in Luke's gospel is, when the character of his gospel is apprehended, just what might have been expected.}

Intense was the agony. This unusual, but not unknown,* effect witnessed of it. Into what depths of anguish could He enter for us, and all alone! Human sympathy and companionship were denied Him. His disciples were sleeping while He was praying. He returned to arouse them: "Why sleep ye? Rise and pray, that ye enter not into temptation." That time of agony was over. He would submit to His Father's will, and drink the cup given to Him even to the dregs, leaving not one drop for any of His own to have to take. Blessed Master, what agony and what obedience were Thine!

{*The reader will find in Smith's Dictionary of the Bible, under the head of Sweat, Bloody, several instances which are on record of this terrible effect of agony or of fear. Charles IX., who ordered the massacre of the Huguenots, suffered at his death in this way.}

The Apprehension. — Now, under cover of the night, a company approached with lanterns and torches (John xviii. 3). It was Judas, with the band of soldiers from the Roman garrison under a chief captain (John xviii, 12), with officers of the Jews, and with chief priests and elders among them (Luke xxii. 52), who came to apprehend the Lord. On the one hand was a little company with Him, just eleven men, none of whom had ever been trained to arms. On the other was that great multitude composed as above stated. Resistance under the circumstances would have been impossible. Indeed, resistance the chief priests were determined to prevent. But resistance on the Lord's part was never contemplated. He would surrender Himself to their will, after, as John describes, having made them sensible of His Divine presence (xviii. 6). For they went back and fell before Him on the ground. What a sight — men trained to arms, and fully furnished with weapons of war, with officers of the law accustomed to carry out their superiors' directions, all on the ground before the Lord, — the chief captain, or chiliarch, chief priests and elders, and all their attendants in the dust, powerless to effect their purpose had not the Lord surrendered Himself!

And now, as so often before, the independence of our historian is again displayed, whilst the circumstances which he alone relates are found to be in harmony with the character of his gospel. What man can do, and how grace can work in the presence of evil here stand out in full relief. Judas' treachery and deceit appear, as he had the effrontery to kiss the Lord so as to point out to the band the one they were to arrest. It was the last meeting on earth of the traitor with his Master. "Hail, Rabbi!" had been his salutation. "Judas, betrayest thou the Son of man with a kiss?" (Luke xxii. 48), were the Lord's last words directly addressed to him. The Lord had openly announced in the upper room His approaching betrayal. He had told Judas to his face that he was the traitor. He had spoken to that wretched man as he left the upper room in language which he could not have misunderstood (John xiii. 27). Now He let him know that He was not deceived by that hypocritical appearance of affection.

We may here stop to notice a difference between the two evangelists, Matthew (xxvi. 54) and Luke. According to the former the Lord pointedly referred to prophecy in that which was taking place. Often, too, elsewhere does the son of Alpheus call attention to the fulfilment of Old Testament predictions. It is, as we had occasion elsewhere to remark, a feature of his gospel. And, in common with Mark, he here informs us that the Lord's apprehension was in compliance with Old Testament revelation. Writing, as he appears to have done, for Jews and those acquainted with the Hebrew Scriptures, that was natural. With Luke how different. He, writing to Theophilus, who had been a Gentile, busies not himself with such a matter, but tells him in what words the Lord characterised that moment when they took Him, and what, He declared, was the power then really at work. For, addressing the company sent to arrest Him, He said, "This is your hour;" and the power then at work was "the power of darkness" (Luke xxii. 53).

But what were the Apostles about? A band of just eleven men, what could they do? Two swords summed up the number of offensive weapons that they had carried to the garden. One of their company, however, smote the servant of the high-priest, and cut off his right ear. To John are we indebted for the name of that disciple, as well as for the name of the man who was wounded. Peter used the sword; Malchus was the name of the sufferer. But neither Matthew, nor Mark, nor John, all of whom relate the incident, tell us, what Luke has done, of the display of grace at that time on the Lord's part, who at once touched the servant's ear, and healed him. What a moment for the display of such goodness! How fitting, too, that the record of it should have found a place in this gospel!

Peter's Denials. — From the garden to the high-priest's house Luke's readers are now conducted. Passing over much that took place in the palace mentioned by the others, he hastens on to recount the history of Peter's fall. "Thou shalt deny Me thrice," the Lord had said. Thrice! What did He intend by that — a denial three times uttered, or a denial on three separate occasions? This last is evidently what was meant, and Luke marks off the three occasions very distinctly. He speaks of the second one as "after a little while" (ver. 58), and of the third as "about the space of one hour after" (ver. 59). This is confirmed by the others, though none of them have separated them off more distinctly than Luke.

Of Peter's denials we have four accounts, each differing in particulars from the others, thus indicating the independence of each writer of his brethren. Nevertheless, a harmony can be traced as we look into them. For though four writers, independent each of the other, they were the pens, as it were, really of one Author (Psalm xlv. 1), the Holy Spirit of God; and they each expressed what they did in words taught of the Holy Ghost (1 Cor. ii. 13). For nothing short of verbal inspiration is claimed for the Scriptures of truth by the vessels of inspiration. Impossible, it has been asserted, that such a statement can be admitted with these four different accounts of Peter's denial to contradict it. Let us look into this, and see if they really refute what Scripture claims for itself. I trust the reader will pardon my reproducing my own words written some years ago: —

"From Matthew we learn that a damsel in the palace court first addressed him, and he denied that he understood what she said. Another damsel subsequently addressed the bystanders, not Peter, and he denied — but Matthew does not say to whom — that he knew the Lord. Then the bystanders challenged him, and he denied again that he knew Christ.

"In Mark we read that a damsel of the high-priest's house first challenged Peter in the court, when he assured her that he knew not what she said, but, evidently afraid of recognition, he went out into the vestibule, and the cock crew. Then a damsel addressed the bystanders, not Peter, and he denied that he was one of the disciples of Christ. At length, challenged by the bystanders, he denied again.

"Luke's account is very different, but perfectly consistent. Sitting with the servants round the fire, by the light of it a damsel recognised him as a disciple of the Lord, but he denied it. Again challenged personally, but this time by a man, he denied his association with Christ. A third time challenged, and again by a man, he affirmed that he knew not what he said.

"According to John, the damsel doorkeeper first affirmed that he was one of Christ's disciples. Next, those standing by repeated the question, but he would not acknowledge it. At last a kinsman of Malchus, whose ear Peter had cut off, averred that he had seen him in the garden with the Lord, but he stoutly denied again any association with Him.

"According then to Luke's account and John's, Peter was personally addressed three times, whereas from Matthew and Mark we should only have known that he was directly spoken to twice. Do the evangelists contradict one another? We think not. All agree that a woman first spoke to Peter. Then, whilst Matthew and Mark tell us of a woman addressing the bystanders, which elicited a second denial, Luke says that one of the men directly challenged him, and John states that the general company did. Doubtless the whole company, when told by the damsel, did accuse him but Luke gives us only the direct charge of one of them. Then as to the third denial, Matthew and Mark tell us the general accusation of the company. Luke makes us acquainted with the fact that one man in particular challenged him, and John tells us who it was. All this seems natural, and the accounts do not really contradict one another. We can understand the general company receiving the damsel's affirmation, and one of their number being prominent in taxing Peter with it, on which all joined in it. Luke never asserts that only one man accosted him, nor do the other evangelists affirm that it was merely a chorus of voices to which the Apostle replied.

"How helpful, too, are the different accounts for the clear understanding of all that took place. Peter's change of place between the first and second challenges Matthew and Mark both notice; but Luke it is who gives a clue to the explanation of it in that the firelight had evidently betrayed him to the damsel, and he was aware of it. They had lit a fire in the court, and a certain maid having seen him sitting by [or, in] the light of it, as the evangelist mentions, and having earnestly looked at him, said, 'This man was also with him' (Luke xxii. 56). How naturally all is related! No apparent attempt is made to harmonise the accounts, yet they can, we believe, be harmonised. Then John, the only disciple who was present as an onlooker, tells us who was the damsel who first spoke to Peter — viz., the porteress — and who was the man who personally elicited the third denial from the failing Apostle. And as Luke has noticed the lapse of nearly an hour between the second and the third denials, John in his narrative interposes several verses between them (xviii. 19-24), recounting there all that he gives us of the Lord's examination before Caiaphas, the high-priest. We submit, then, that there is nothing in these four histories to militate against the assertion of the Apostle Paul of the verbal inspiration of the Scriptures of truth."

One more point in this history must be noticed. It is a remarkable one. Vehemently had Peter denied all knowledge of, and any association with, Him who was now the prisoner of the chief priests, etc. His speech had, however, been held to justify the accusation of those around him (Mark xiv. 70). A witness, too, had come forward who had seen him in the garden with the Lord (John xviii. 26); but Peter, with curses and oaths, denied his Master for a third time. His accusers were now silent. They said no more. Was the matter then ended? "The Lord," Luke writes, "turned and looked upon Peter. And Peter remembered the word of the Lord, how He had said unto him, Before the cock crow this day, thou shalt deny Me thrice." Grace this was on the part of his Master. A look was sufficient. It recalled to Peter the warning previously uttered, to which at the time he gave no heed. Now all had come true, literally true. He had faced men, but he could not stand, convicted as he was, in the sight of the Lord. So he went out and wept bitterly. The next meeting between the Lord and Peter was on the day of the resurrection.

Insults. To return. The Lord was now in the hands of men. It was their hour. They used their power. To insults was He subjected, and to them He submitted. Mockings, revilings, buffetings — these He suffered at the hands of the high-priest's servants and others (Luke xxii. 63-65) till the day dawned, and those events began to take place which led on to His crucifixion, death, and burial.

16. From Morn to Night (Luke xxii. 66 — xxiii. 56)

Twice already during the night had the Lord been examined, first by Annas (John xviii. 19-24) and then by Caiaphas (Matt. xxvi. 57-66; Mark xiv. 55-64). Questioned by Annas about His doctrine and about His disciples, the Lord referred him to those who had heard Him in the public places of resort, for in secret had He said nothing. Sent thereupon bound to Caiaphas, who was the high-priest, an attempt was made to substantiate by false witnesses a capital charge. But in vain. No two agreed together. What were the different accusations we have now no means of knowing. Only of one is there any account, and that furnishes a good illustration of the need of carefulness in repeating a person's words. How much evil is done by even unintentionally misrepresenting the saying of another. "We have heard Him say," so averred two witnesses, "I will destroy this temple that is made with hands, and within three days I will build another made without hands" (Mark xiv. 58). What the Lord had said was this: "Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up" (John ii. 19), and within three days from the examination before Caiaphas those words received their fulfilment. The Jews put Him to death. They destroyed the temple of His body. On the third day He rose again. The Lord's words and the statement of these witnesses were really very different. But even their testimony did not agree.

Hitherto before Caiaphas the Lord had kept silence. To all that was falsely charged against Him He said nothing. Each would-be witness was openly seen even by His enemies to be unreliable. Could something be drawn from Him which might furnish ground for His condemnation? That was resorted to, as the high-priest adjured Him by the living God to tell them whether He was the Christ, the Son of God. Being thus, as it were, put on His oath, God's name being brought in, He answered at once that He was the Christ, the Son of God, adding, "Hereafter shall ye see the Son of man sitting on the right hand of power, and coming in [rather, on] the clouds of heaven" (Matt. xxvi. 64). This answer really furnished a clue to that difficulty, raised by the Jews, to which we have before (p. 235) alluded, viz., that He, being a man, made Himself God (John x. 33). In their own Scriptures was found the solution. The Son of man of Dan. vii. is a Divine Person. They understood that well. But instead of letting the light from the Lord's words shine into their hearts, they accused Him of blasphemy. They were utterly blind, must we not say wilfully blind? They would not be helped, but adjudged Him guilty of death.

Before the Sanhedrin. — But blasphemy, whilst punishable by the Mosaic law, was not in this instance a charge that the Roman governor would take cognisance of; and further, ere carrying the case to Pilate, the Lord must be formally dealt with. For that a trial by day, it would seem, was necessary. The day had dawned. The Sanhedrin therefore was summoned. The Lord was brought before it. Now of this the third examination since His arrest Luke alone gives us any detailed account (xxii. 66-71), though both Matthew (xxvii. 1) and Mark (xv.1) refer to it; the three evangelists agreeing that this last, held before the elderhood of the chief priests and scribes, was quite different from the examination before Caiaphas during the night. Before the Sanhedrin the question raised and put to the Lord was, "If thou art the Christ, tell us" (Luke xxii. 67). An answer in the affirmative might bring Him within the power of Roman law. For as the Christ Pilate might hold that He laid claim to temporal sovereignty over the Jews, and thus denied the authority of Caesar. Before Caiaphas the Lord was asked if He was the Son of the Blessed, and was adjudged worthy of death on His reply in the affirmative. To His claim to be the Son of God Pilate would have been perfectly indifferent. Hence before the Sanhedrin He was asked about His Messiahship. Admitting that, the council would have something tangible upon which to accuse Him before Pilate. To their question the Lord replied in the affirmative, and added, "From henceforth shall the Son of man be seated on the right hand of the power of God," referring to Psalm cx. 1, and speaking of His ascension, but omitting all reference to Dan. vii. 13, 14, which tells of His return. They well understood what was involved in that reference, as they immediately challenged Him, "Art thou then the Son of God?" He was, He is, and He admitted it. The trial was concluded. To Pilate would they take Him.

Before Pilate and before Herod. — Standing at Caesar's judgment-seat (Acts xxv. 10), the Roman governor being the emperor's representative, we learn from Luke the nature of the indictment, and perhaps the very form of it:* "We have found this one perverting our [not, the] nation, and forbidding to give tribute unto Caesar, saying that He Himself is Christ, a King" (xxiii. 2). But Pilate evidently was in no mood to take serious cognisance of the accusation. He asked the Lord, was He the King of the Jews? He admitted it to Pilate. However, there was nothing that called for his judicial dealing, for, addressing the chief priests and the multitude, he said, "I find no fault in this man." He knew, as both Matthew (xxvii. 18) and Mark (xv. 10) tell us, that for envy the chief priests had delivered Him up; so he tried several times, as the history shows, to escape the responsibility of condemning the Lord to death. Some of these attempts Luke recounts. His first refusal to entertain any charge only made the chief priests and multitude more urgent in their demand. "He stirreth up the people, teaching throughout all Judaea, and beginning from Galilee even unto this place." The offence being committed in Judaea would be a ground for Pilate to entertain the charge; but their mention of Galilee afforded, he thought, an opening for getting rid of the case. Was He a Galilean? If so, to Herod should they go. To Herod, who was then at Jerusalem, Pilate therefore sent the Lord. Before Herod the Lord was silent, though questioned in many words, and vehemently accused by the chief priests and scribes. Nothing, however, was gained by Pilate, for Herod, after he had, with his soldiers, set Him at nought, and mocked Him, and arrayed Him in a gorgeous robe, sent Him back to the Roman governor. Herod and Pilate became friends. But Pilate's difficulty was in no way diminished.

{*We may compare with this the form of indictment by Tertullus against Paul (Acts xxiv. 5).}

For again he had to take up the case, and again he tried to evade the responsibility of the Lord's condemnation: "Ye have brought this man unto me, as one that perverteth the people; and, behold, I, having examined Him before you, have found no fault in this man, touching those things whereof ye accuse Him: no, nor yet Herod, for I sent you to him [or, as some read, he sent Him back unto us]; and lo, nothing worthy of death has been done by Him. I will, therefore, chastise Him and release Him" (vers. 14-16). He did scourge Him, and then, with a crown of thorns on His head, exhibited Him to the people (John xix. 1-5). Would not that satisfy the clamour? No; nothing but His death would calm the people, who urged on Pilate the release of Barabbas, an insurrectionist and a murderer, and called for the crucifixion of the Lord. Pilate, still desiring to release Jesus, spake again, reasserting His innocence. All was in vain. The people, led by the chief priests, were inexorable. Their voices prevailed. Pilate yielded, and Jesus was delivered to their will.

Pontius Pilate. — The character of this man, as Scripture unfolds it, may here be noticed. He was determined, Peter declared but a few weeks after the event, to release the Lord (Acts iii. 13). He laboured for that purpose, desiring to effect it (Luke xxiii. 20); and writes John (xix. 11), Pilate, after hearing the Lord's answer, "He that delivered Me unto thee hath greater sin," sought to release Him. Of the Lord's innocence of any charge laid against Him by the Jews, he was convinced, and reiterated to the Jews his firm conviction about it. Why then did he not release Him? Why did he consent to His crucifixion, his conscience and his judgment alike condemning such injustice? From Matthew and from Mark we get the answer. Matthew tells us (xxvii. 24), Pilate saw that a tumult was rising. So to stop it, and to content the people (Mark xv. 15), he released Barabbas, and delivered Jesus to be crucified. Of tumults Pilate had had no enviable experience during his term of office, as history informs us. Twice had he stirred up the people to almost fever heat, and had learnt how excited they could become. On the first occasion the cause was his introducing the Roman standards with the image of Caesar on them into the holy city. In that matter Pilate had at last to yield. The second occasion was on his appropriating sacred money to bring water into Jerusalem. That sedition was only quelled by the bloodshed of a great number of the populace. He might justly then fear to stir up another tumult. Besides, he was anything but popular, and dreading, doubtless, an appeal to the emperor against him for his conduct whilst in office, he was willing to content the people (Mark xv. 15) and to prove himself to be Caesar's friend (John xix. 12). His conscience made him a coward. He gave way to the popular call.

Pilate was not the last who has acquiesced in that which was wrong for temporal interests. Such a course, however successful it may appear at the time, very frequently turns out anything but happy for the individual in the end. Conscience, at some time or other, will speak, and make itself heard and those it has been sought to conciliate at the expense of righteousness may after all turn round, and attack the one who acted to content them. This Pilate proved. For in about three years after the Lord's death, accused by the Jews to Vitellius, the governor of Syria, he was ordered to Rome to answer the charges before the emperor. His end seems shrouded in uncertainty. By some he is supposed to have committed suicide in Rome. By others it is said that he died in banishment, and perhaps at Vienne, in Gaul, on the Rhone, "where a singular monument, a pyramid on a quadrangular base fifty-two feet high, is called Pontius Pilate's tomb." Weak, and afraid of popular opposition or resentment, he yielded against his conscience and better judgment. "The fear of man bringeth a snare" (Prov. xxix. 25). How many since his day have had to reproach themselves bitterly for yielding to that fear!

On the Way to Golgotha. — Now again have we to notice the independence of our historian as he takes his readers from Gabbatha (John xix. 13) to Golgotha (Matt. xxvii. 33), and relates what took place by the way. The procession, as we might call it, consisted of the Lord, bearing His cross, with Simon the Cyrenian, bearing by compulsion (Mark xv. 21) the lighter end of it behind Him (Luke xxiii. 26). Two others, malefactors, doubtless bearing also each one his own cross, formed part of the group, the attendant soldiers completing it. But far outnumbering these who figured in the procession was a great multitude of the people, and among them many women. These last bewailed and lamented Him (Luke xxiii. 27), all their sympathy, it seems, being extended to Him, but none to the others who were about to suffer for their crimes, for all knew He was innocent. As they moved along the wailing might have been heard probably at some distance. But now words fell from His lips — prophetic words — and Luke has preserved them: "Daughters of Jerusalem, weep not for Me, but weep for yourselves, and for your children. For, behold, the days are coming in the which they shall say, Blessed are the barren, and the wombs that never bare, and the paps which never gave suck. Then shall they begin to say to the mountains, Fall on us and to the hills, Cover us. For if they do these things in the green tree, what shall be done in the dry" (vers. 28-31). His death, He here intimated, would be followed by the destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans (xxi. 23), and by the troubles that will yet fall on that nation and that city (Matt. xxiv. 15-21). Messiah, the Shepherd of Israel, cut off, the Jews have had, and will yet have to feel bitterly His absence in their hours of trial who alone can shield them. And having cut Him off by death, they must of necessity wait God's time and grace for His return.

The Crucifixion. — Reaching the place called in the Hebrew, or rather Aramaic, Golgotha as Luke explains the name,* the place of a skull, probably from some resemblance to one — there they crucified the Lord, and the two thieves with Him. The place was situated outside the city (Heb. xiii. 12; John xix. 17, 20; Matt. xxviii. 11), and near a garden (John xix. 41). And now, reading Luke's account of the Crucifixion, the most cursory reader must be struck with its difference from that of the others. Four accounts of it we have, each evangelist describing it, and though Matthew and Mark agree very much in their relation, the former tells what the latter does not, and thus presents the darkest picture of them all. In Matthew men's hatred of Christ and their treatment of Him come out in the fullest way, that taunt of the chief priests of which Psalm xxii. 8 had forespoken being found only in his history. Then, too, from the time that the Lord owned to Pilate that He was the King of the Jews (xxvii. 11) till He cried with a loud voice, "Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani" (ver. 46), that evangelist has recorded no utterance from His lips. Nothing in all that part of Matthew's gospel comes in to relieve the darkness and gloom of the scene. In John it is different. Presenting the Lord as a Divine Person, we see Him in all the calmness of One who knew whence He was, providing for His mother, and caring for the fulfilment of every word of God. In Luke it is the Man Christ Jesus who suffers, but the One who shows grace even on the cross. Hence we have the Lord opening His mouth in words which told of grace, the dark picture of the Crucifixion thus lightened by sayings with which all Bible readers are now familiar.

{*The reader should remember that "Calvary" is a Latin word for a skull, retained in the A.V. from familiarity with the Vulgate. In the gospels, no name is ever given to the place but Golgotha (Matt. xxvii. 33; Mark xv. 22; John xix. 17), which each evangelist who uses that Aramaic word explains in Greek to his readers. Luke, writing for Theophilus, simply gives the meaning of the word, without introducing the Aramaic designation of the place: "When they came unto the place which is called The Skull" (Luke xxiii. 33, R.V.)}

For there were seven sayings of the Lord on the cross. Three of them are recorded only by John (xix. 26, 28, 30); one, that awful cry, is preserved by Matthew in common with Mark (Matt. xxvii. 46; Mark xv. 34); and three are found only in Luke, one of them being the first, and another the last of the Lord's words when crucified. And both the first and the last (xxiii. 34, 46) are addressed to His Father, the former just when He had been crucified, the other after those terrible three hours of supernatural darkness had passed, and when about to breathe out His life. The term "Father" in both speaks to us. In the first He was interceding for His murderers. But it was the Son who interceded: "Father, forgive them: for they know not what they do." And may we not say that He had the joy of announcing the answer to His prayer, when He told the disciples on the day of His resurrection, that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His name among all nations, and let us mark the especial grace "beginning at Jerusalem"? In the last utterance, "Father, into Thy hands I commend My spirit," the term "Father" assures us that in full cloudless communion with His Father, and not as one still forsaken by His God, He was giving up the ghost. Should we not have lost, if these sayings of Christ had by error or carelessness dropped out of the early copies of Luke's Gospel?*

{*It is right to add that some few ancient MSS. omit ver. 34. Its genuineness, however, is now generally accepted.}

But what effect had the prayer for forgiveness on any who heard it? The soldiers, intent on personal gain, cast lots for His garments. The rulers scoffed at Him. The soldiers, too, mocked Him. The former said, "He saved others; let him save himself, if this is the Christ of God, His chosen." The latter offering Him in mockery vinegar, said, "If thou be the King of the Jews, save thyself.'' The people "stood beholding." Who, then, had been moved by that prayer? No one that we read of.

And now Luke tells us that there was a superscription over Him: "This is the King of the Jews." One may observe, as another instance of Luke's method of marshalling his facts, that he introduces the notice of the superscription after telling us of the chief priests and the soldiers' conduct towards the Lord, and evidently out of its historical order. That superscription was Pilate's own writing (John xix. 19), and he was determined in that to have his way. He, who had yielded to the Jews as to crucifying the Lord, refused to alter the title which he had written to put over His head. Pilate therefore, when he liked, could be firm. "What I have written I have written" (John xix. 22) stopped all further remonstrance with him on the part of the Jews.

The Superscription. — But here we must pause to notice an objection raised against the doctrine of verbal inspiration. It is grounded on the different accounts of this superscription given by the evangelists. Certainly, as we have previously pointed out (p. 22), the Apostle Paul laid claim to verbal inspiration (1 Cor. ii. 13). Can his fellow-writers be appealed to in refutation of it? Let each evangelist here speak for himself.

Matthew tells his readers that "they set up over His head His accusation written, This is Jesus, the King of the Jews" (xxvii. 37).

Mark writes, "And the superscription of His accusation was written over, The King of the Jews" (xv. 26).

Luke states, "A superscription also was over Him, This is the King of the Jews" (xxiii. 38).

John says, "Pilate wrote a title, and put it on the cross. And the writing was, Jesus of Nazareth [or, the Nazarean], the King of the Jews" (xix. 19, 20).

Let us remark the term used by each evangelist, indicative as it must be of that which he wished to convey to his readers. John calls it a title, Luke a superscription, Matthew His accusation, and Mark the superscription of His accusation. Now a title and an accusation are not synonymous, nor a superscription and accusation either. This last Mark makes evident, for he uses both superscription and accusation. And if we turn to Acts xxv. 18, where Festus, speaking to Agrippa, tells him that the Jews brought against Paul none accusation of such things as he, the Roman governor, supposed, it would be clear that we could not there substitute for accusation either that term used by John, nor that used by Luke, when describing what was put upon the cross. Title or superscription and accusation are not equivalent.

Now there was an accusation brought against the Lord, and for which He was arraigned before Pilate, viz., that He declared Himself to be the King of the Jews. For that Pilate delivered Him to be crucified, the chief priests, etc., having cried out, "If thou let this man go thou art not Caesar's friend: whosoever maketh himself a king, speaketh against Caesar" (John xix. 12). Matthew then professes to state what the charge was for which He suffered, and which was written over His head but the title or superscription in its correct form he does not profess to give. We therefore may dismiss what he has written as really not relevant to the question, What was the actual inscription? and turn to Luke and to John, who profess to give it, and the latter of whom supplies the fullest information about it.

It was a trilingual superscription, written in Hebrew, Latin, and Greek, as the best attested text of John xix. 20 reads, the Latin, the official language, being in the middle, with the Hebrew and the Greek ones on either side of it. Written in three languages, must the different inscriptions have agreed word for word? That need not have been the case. Probably few, if any, of such inscriptions do. And what, for instance, could have been expressed in Latin in two words, in Greek would require more. Besides, as the reason evidently for writing it in three languages was to appeal to people of different nationalities, that which would especially call forth the contempt of a Jew might have no special meaning in the eye or ear of a Greek. To excite the scorn of the latter it might be enough to declare that the King of the Jews hung there, just that which Luke has recorded. What mattered it to a Greek whether the Crucified One belonged to Judaea or to Galilee, whether Jerusalem was His dwelling-place or Nazareth in the north? But for a Jew, how it would intensify his feeling of contempt as he read, "Jesus the Nazarean, the King of the Jews." The Nazarean! The reader may remember Nathaniel's question, "Can there any good thing come out of Nazareth?" (John i. 46). There seems then in that appellation an intentional appeal to the prejudices of the Jew.

Now it is John who records this, and he has told us of the trilingual inscription, mentioning the Hebrew first. We believe therefore — for there is nothing that can be urged against it — that "Nazarean" was in the Hebrew title, but that it found no place in the Greek superscription, which we believe has been preserved by Luke. And this supposition as to Luke would be immensely strengthened did we accept the reading in xxiii. 38, "in letters of Greek and Latin and Hebrew," exhibited by most uncials and, it would seem, all cursives and by most of the ancient versions. But we rest no argument on these words, because some of the best modern textual critics, on the authority of a few uncials and a few ancient versions, agree to reject them. The R.V., too, wholly omits them. Were they genuine, the supposition that Luke gives the Greek inscription, Greek being there first mentioned, would be strengthened. Rejecting them as not genuine, the supposition is in no way overthrown. We believe John gives the Hebrew title, and Luke the Greek one.

Of Mark we have as yet said nothing. Of course, since Matthew does not profess to give the full inscription, which we know was in three languages, no objection can be urged against verbal inspiration on the score of four varying inscriptions on the cross. It may well be, if Mark's language implies that he has given an inscription in full, that it is the Latin title which he translated for his readers into Greek. His is the shortest of all, just what the Latin doubtless must have been. And considering that we meet in his gospel with a number of Latin words, some common to other evangelists as well, but a few peculiar to him, it would not be surprising, nor out of character with this feature in his gospel, to conclude that he has given us the Latin inscription.

Viewing then the whole matter, what is there to militate against verbal inspiration? Certainly there is nothing to warrant the late Dean Alford's writing of the absurdity of it. Patient examination of the languages of the different writers clears away many a cloud, and removes many a misconception. We think it does so in this case.

The Penitent Thief. — Scoffed at by the rulers, mocked, too, by the soldiers, His claims to be the Christ of God and the King of Israel rejected by Jews and by Gentiles, with the superscription, too, over Him, "This is the King of the Jews," intended, as it very likely was, to call forth the scorn of those who should read it, there was, however, one person, and that one very near to the Lord, who openly owned that He was a King, and, strange as it may have sounded to some, professed a belief that He would not lose His kingdom by death. Crucified between the two thieves, the Lord had already endured the reviling of both of them (Matt. xxvii. 44; Mark xv. 32), writhing as they were by His side in mortal agony. To them, as to others, He had evidently made no response. What the tenor of their utterances had been we may doubtless understand from Luke's recital of the words of the impenitent thief, "Art not thou the Christ? Save thyself and us" (xxiii. 39). Deliverance from present torture and from approaching death was the sum of his desire. His appeal, however, evoked no answer from the Lord, but it called forth a reply from his fellow, a surprise as it must have been to him, and to all within earshot of the cross: "Dost thou not even fear God, seeing thou art in the same condemnation? And we indeed justly; for we receive the due reward of our deeds: but this man hath done nothing amiss" (vers. 40, 41).

The Lord vindicated. — A confessor of the Crucified One had come forward at a time and at a place little expected. Of the other thief we hear no more. Was he silenced, confounded by the rebuke of his fellow? The penitent thief, however, now speaks again, having thus boldly and unhesitatingly proclaimed the innocence of the One who hung by his side. And it is very interesting and instructive to remark, how the Lord by one and another was justified without one word in self-vindication falling from His lips. Pilate had several times affirmed His innocence. His wife averred that He was a just man. Judas confessed He was guiltless. The centurion after His death said that He was a righteous man. And here the penitent thief undertakes the vindication of His character from all aspersions: "This man hath done nothing amiss." What had wrought this change in the thief? Light had shone into his soul. When and how that comes to any one a bystander may not perhaps know. When, however, it does shine within the person himself is conscious of it. He sees what he had not seen before. It was thus with this thief. Of the Lord's innocence he was convinced. Of His coming in His kingdom he was assured. So, dying by His side, he desired to be remembered in the day of His power. "Remember me,"* he said, "when Thou comest in Thy kingdom." Doubtless the chief priests, etc., thought they were rid of the Lord for ever. The thief could teach them better. He was King, and would come in His kingdom. And to be remembered then by Him was the penitent one's earnest desire. It was worth to him more than all the wealth of the world. Who that has learnt of Christ would not heartily endorse that?

{*We should omit "Lord," and probably render the passage as the R.V. does, "And he said, Jesus, remember me," etc.}

"Remember me" — who? A convicted thief, who confessed, too, that he was rightly punished. What boldness can be imparted to a sinner! In the company of Christ on the cross, put there by men, justly deserving a malefactor's death, the Lord, as he owned, innocent, having done nothing amiss, he could nevertheless ask and hope that in the day of His power He would favourably remember him. As yet no word has escaped those lips to embolden the thief to make such a request. Would the Lord respond to his petition? Would He take notice of a convicted thief's prayer, and such a prayer? He did. The thief had asked for remembrance in the coming day. The Lord promised more than he had asked, for He told him he should be with Him that day in paradise.

To Luke are we indebted for this history. John, who probably heard what passed, has wholly omitted it. In his gospel it would not so naturally find a place. For of grace this history speaks, grace to a sinner, grace to the undeserving. So this same evangelist, who has placed on record the Lord's prayer for His murderers, tells us that a malefactor can be received and blessed, if he truly confesses Christ. Grace in the garden to Malchus, grace at the cross, grace to the penitent thief — of all this our sole informant is the beloved physician.

Paradise. — A word on paradise. It is Greek, and said to be derived, whether rightly or not, from the Persian, and is used of an enclosed garden or pleasure park (Cant. iv. 13; Neh. ii. 8). In the New Testament it occurs as descriptive of the present place of the unclothed saints (Luke xxiii. 43; 2 Cor. xii. 4), and also of their future place of bliss, in which will be found the tree of life (Rev. ii. 7). Understanding that the word is used of an enclosed park or pleasure ground, there need be no surprise to find it applied to the garden of Eden of old, to the present abode of the departed saints, and to the future place of bliss likewise. St. Paul clearly distinguishes it from the third heaven. He was caught (2 Cor. xii. 2) up to, or as far as, the third heaven where God dwells. He was caught up into paradise, the place where the unclothed saints now are, and there heard what he could not communicate to mortals on earth. It was of this place that the Lord spoke to the thief. Paradise then is used of definite places or regions provided for the blessing of men, whether on earth, as in the past, or elsewhere, as now, and in the heavenlies in the future.

Supernatural Events. — Crucified the third hour, all that we have read of took place before the sixth hour, the hour of noon, when a supernatural darkness enveloped the land; "the sunlight failing," as the R.V. reads, following the texts of Tischendorf and that of Westcott and Hort. Supernatural it certainly was, for it being the time of full moon, there was no eclipse of the sun to account for it. It was however in perfect keeping with that which was taking place. For as at the fall of the king of Egypt God declared, "I will cover the heaven, and make the stars thereof dark; I will cover the sun with a cloud, and the moon shall not give her light" (Ezek. xxxii. 7), how much more might that literally take place when the Creator, and the Upholder of all by the word of His power, was expiring on the cross! For three hours that mysterious darkness continued, the first intimation since the Lord's apprehension that God was not indifferent to all that was going on. During that time men seem to have been for the most part quiet, overawed probably by its occurrence. Having now mentioned that darkness, Luke, as his manner at times is, couples with it another supernatural event, which however occurred only after the Lord had died. We refer to the rending of the temple veil in the midst, and, as Matthew and Mark carefully note, "from the top to the bottom," indicating that no human power had done that. Classing these two occurrences together, the evangelist has to retrace his steps to tell us of the Lord's death, which took place, as we have remarked, before the rending of the veil.

The Lord's Death. — The end now approached. The last indignity had been endured. Every Scripture which He had to fulfil in life was accomplished, in token of which He had said, "It is finished" (John xix. 30). And now once more, but for the last time, His voice was heard audibly and distinctly addressing His Father, and showing that He did not die from exhaustion. He cried with a loud voice, and said, "Father, into Thy hands I commend My spirit" (xxiii. 46). Not a word more. Silence now reigned. It was the silence of death, an awfully solemn moment, and men evidently felt that. For the effect produced Luke carefully records. The centurion who was on duty "glorified God, saying, Certainly this was a righteous man." "All the multitudes," we read, "that came together to that sight, when they beheld the things that were done, smote their breasts, and returned." That which had taken place was of course beyond recall. Was there not in the minds of the multitudes a feeling of regret for the issue of the day's proceedings? Delivered to Pilate, as the Lord had been, by the chief priests and elders, were the multitudes now quite sure of the justice of His execution? Were no misgivings beginning to arise? The death of the two thieves caused no such display of emotion. No doubt could exist of the justice of their punishment. But why beat their breasts (Luke xxiii. 48), if they were equally sure of the justice of His? Of another class of spectators, distinguished by the evangelist from the multitudes, we now read, even "all His acquaintance, and the women that followed Him from Galilee." These stood afar off beholding those things. What they felt is not recorded. Nor was that needed. All can suppose what it was when they saw Him die.

The Burial. — After death comes burial. How was that to be carried out? The Apostles were not there. Who then would perform that last office for the dead? God — and how interesting it is to notice it — has always His instruments ready for His work. In this case they voluntarily came forward, for there were to be two of them, and both members of the Sanhedrin. Nobody would have expected that. We cannot suppose that either Annas or Caiaphas had the slightest idea that two men of reputation, one a man of wealth, and both members of the great council of the nation, would have come forward to bury the body of the Crucified One. By whom and where the thieves were buried has been for long shrouded in oblivion. By whom and where Christ was buried was to be remembered throughout all ages. We do not mean that we can at present authoritatively fix the site of the sepulchre. That controversy has still to be settled. But Scripture informs us that it was contiguous to the place of execution, being in a garden nigh to Golgotha (John xix. 41). Joseph, a rich man, says Matthew (xxvii. 57), an honourable councillor, writes Mark (xv. 43), a good man and a just, states Luke (xxiii. 50), was God's instrument for this service. He was a Jew of Arimathaa, a city of Judea, and not a Galilean, which makes his act the more remarkable. And though Nicodemus, as John records, was with him to help in taking down the body, and placing it, with the spices which the latter had brought, decently and reverently in the tomb, yet Joseph had gone alone to Pilate to ask for the body. And in his own new tomb, as Matthew (xxvii. 60) tells us it was, which he had hewn out in the rock, the dead body of the Lord was laid. Joseph had prepared, as he thought, that tomb for himself. He had really hewn it for an earlier occupant, even Him whose disciple he had become.

But time with them was short. The day declined. Evening shades of the approaching Sabbath were advancing over the earth (Luke xxiii. 54). Embalmment could not take place that night. All therefore was done that could be within the limited time, and the stone that formed the door of the tomb was then rolled into its place, and the aperture closed. With what interest must the angels have watched those two men intent on their work! But not angels only were spectators (though surely they were) for women which had come with the Lord from Galilee, followed after, and beheld the tomb, and how His body was laid. Luke is general in his statement. Matthew and Mark, on the other hand, mention but two: Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of Joses. Two men to bury, two women looking on, mourners in the truest sense — these only can we name as present at the funeral of the Lord Jesus Christ.

17. The First Day of the Week (Luke xxiv.)

To make provision for the proper embalming of the body on the day after the Sabbath was all that remained for loving hearts to do, ministering to Him as they had done probably often in life. One last service, ere the form of the One they loved would be hidden from their sight, they could, and they desired to, perform. Resting on the Sabbath according to the commandment, Mary Magdalene, Mark tells us (xvi. 1), and Mary the mother of James, and Salome the Virgin's sister, when the Sabbath was past — i.e., in the evening — bought sweet spices that they might be ready to anoint Him. And not content with that, those two Marys had likewise on that same evening visited the tomb, and had seen that all was secure. Of this visit Matthew tells us (xxviii. 1), fixing the time of it, as his words imply, viz., late in the evening, when the Sabbath was past. But, of course, evening would not have been a suited time to begin the process of embalmment. All arrangements were, however, then completed that they might carry out their purpose early in the morning. The hours of night passed, and at early dawn they went forth on their errand, carrying the spices which they had prepared. It seems to have been essentially woman's work. They had no man with them, nor apparently had they asked any to meet them in the garden. In what follows we shall not attempt to harmonise the different accounts of the visit paid on that morning to the tomb, content to follow Luke's history, who treats of this in a very general way. The names of certain women he does give — viz., Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James — and the words of the angels to them at the tomb he narrates, leaving it to John (xx.) to specify Mary Magdalene's movements, and to Matthew (xxviii. 9, 10) to record the Lord's appearance to some of the women on their way back to the city.

Angelic Communication. — Reaching the spot dear to them, they found the stone rolled away, so they entered the tomb expecting to find the body as Joseph and Nicodemus had left it. But it was not there. Safe in the tomb the previous evening and guarded by the soldiers, it was there no longer. Was it stolen? Who would steal it? Besides, the linen clothes in which it had been enwrapped were there. Very unlikely that any one should have taken the body and left the shroud. Where were the guards? They had, it would seem, already disappeared, frightened, terribly frightened, by the appearance of the angel (Matt. xxviii. 4). No human being was about to explain the unexpected occurrence. Perplexed they were, and no wonder. Their suspense, however, was not of long duration. For two men stood by them in dazzling apparel. Perplexity now gave way to fright, and with their faces bowed down to the earth they listened to the communication of these heavenly beings. At the birth of the Lord angels had spoken (Luke ii. 13, 14); at His resurrection they again opened their mouths. "Why seek ye the living among the dead? He is not here, but is risen: remember how He spake unto you when He was yet in Galilee, saying, The Son of man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, and be crucified and the third day rise again" (Luke xxiv. 5-7). That, which none of them had previously taken in, they began to apprehend. The Lord had told them of it beforehand, and the angels just remind them of the Lord's prophetic announcement. They now remembered His words. Interest in that tomb must cease. The Lord was not there. They left it, perhaps spices and all, to tell the eleven and all the rest.

Incredulity. — What tidings to bring back! The Living One was not with the dead. He was risen, as He said. Joy must have filled their hearts, and have given wings to their feet. But who believed them? The Apostles heard the women, but could not credit their report. It was just idle talk, and none of them stirred a step to visit the garden save John and Peter.* These who did, saw and believed; the evidence was sufficient (Luke xxiv. 12; John xx. 8, 9), though as yet they knew not the Scripture that He must rise again from the dead.

{*Luke xxiv. 12 Tischendorf, following the Codex Bezae, omits. Lachmann, Tregelles, Westcott and Hort put the verse in brackets as uncertain. But all the uncials except D have it. The R.V. accepts it. Peter, it would seem, believed that He was risen, for he departed to his home wondering at that which had come to pass. John (xx. 8) speaks for himself: "He saw and believed."}

Journey to Emmaus. — Up to this in our gospel we have read of no appearances of the Lord to any of His own on that first day of the week. Luke will now tell us of three different appearances, and of two of them he writes somewhat at length, indicating again in this his independence of his brother evangelists. To Emmaus, a village north-west of Jerusalem, and distant about sixty furlongs, going on to eight miles, two disciples were proceeding on foot, the name of one being Cleopas;* that of the other is unknown. Evidently he was not an Apostle (ver. 33); that is all we know. Ere leaving the city they had become acquainted with the report of the women that the Lord was risen, but clearly had not heard of His appearance to any one (vers. 22-24). They must then either have left Jerusalem before Mary Magdalene had told the disciples, "I have seen the Lord" (John xx. 18),** or had not been present when she announced that joyous fact. Much of deep interest had those two to speak about with reference to the events of the last few days, an interest now increased by the visit of the women to the tomb, and the vision of angels which they had seen there who affirmed that the Lord was alive. Pondering over these things, a stranger, as they supposed, drew near, and probably from behind. Talking together, they did not accost the stranger, but He accosted them, and asked what the communications were which they had one with another. Aroused probably by His interrogatory to the fact of His presence, they stopped, and, as Luke graphically describes it, "they stood still, looking sad" (ver. 17).

{*This person is met with nowhere else. He is to be distinguished from Clopas (John xix. 25), the father of James the Less.

**So Mary really said.}

Thus questioned, their hearts being full, Cleopas let out what was passing within them. Prudence would naturally have dictated reserve ere committing themselves in the presence of a perfect stranger. They could not, however, help it. And it all came out as he spoke of the Lord as a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people, whom their rulers had condemned to death and had crucified. All might know that He was a prophet, but they had regarded Him as the Redeemer of Israel. His disciples then they were. They owned it, and could not help doing that, whoever that stranger might be. Further, they told Him of the report of the resurrection on the part of the women, which was confirmed by certain who in consequence had visited the sepulchre. "But Him," Cleopas added "they saw not." Where was He? They knew not that He was talking with them.

Cleopas had finished. Then the stranger began, not asking any more questions, nor condoling with them on the death-blow to all their hopes, but at once rebuking them for their slowness of heart to believe all that the prophets had spoken (ver. 25). Who was the stranger, that He should act thus, taking at once a teacher's place? He was not a scribe nor a lawyer, nor by profession an expounder of the Divine Word. Yet surely never in any synagogue had they heard such an opening up of the Scriptures of truth. Acquainted they learnt that He was with Old Testament revelation from Moses downward, for He expounded all the things concerning the Christ, having prefaced that assuredly most masterly exposition with the words, "Ought not the Christ to have suffered these things, and to enter into His glory?" Were they mistaken as to the Crucified One being the Christ? The stranger affirmed that He was the Messiah, and all that had taken place was just the fulfilment of the prophetic word.

The tedium of the way must now have been removed. With burdened, questioning hearts, they had left the city. With elastic steps they doubtless now went forward till Emmaus was nearly reached. Malachi (iii. 16) wrote of those fearing the Lord speaking often one to another, and the Lord hearkening and hearing. These two could afterwards have said how blessed that was, but their blessing was greater. For the Lord drew near, talked with them, and went with them. What joy to Him it must have been to watch these two occupied with Him! What joy to them as He opened up?The Scriptures concerning Himself! But now must they part? Emmaus was their goal. What was His? He seemed disposed to go further. With untiring interest had they listened to His discourse, and that interest continued unabated. So they asked Him, nay, constrained Him, to tarry with them. He had entertained them. They would entertain Him. "Abide with us: for it is toward evening, and the day is now far spent." He agreed, and went in to tarry with them. Refreshment provided, He sat at meat with them. And now He who had been their Instructor by the way, to their amazement doubtless, took the place of host at the board: "For He took the bread, and blessed it, and brake, and gave to them." All doubt, all uncertainty, about the stranger was removed. Their Companion by the way, their Instructor out of the Word, their Guest at the table, was their Master, the Lord Jesus Christ. Their eyes were opened. They knew Him. But He vanished out of their sight. The Lord indeed was risen. He had travelled with them and talked with them that day.

We may here remark on the wisdom He displayed in dealing with these two. The written Word was enough to have taught them about all that had gone on. Reproving them first for slowness of heart in believing it, to it He turned them. He would settle their faith on that which God had already vouchsafed. No fresh revelation was furnished them. They must stand on the written word of God. That done, He made Himself known as risen from the dead. His work with them was finished. He vanished out of their sight. What He sought for those two, He seeks for still, that souls should take God at His word, and rest on that which has been revealed. The sooner the soul does that, the sooner will it have peace with God.

Of the meal He had apparently not partaken. Would they sit quietly at Emmaus, and go on with their supper? Nearly eight miles had they walked out. The same distance must they cover afresh, if at Jerusalem they were to sleep. Sweet converse with Him had they enjoyed, their hearts burning within them whilst He talked with them by the way, and while He opened up to them the Scriptures. They must return at once, and let those at Jerusalem who had been mourning and weeping (Mark xvi. 10) know what they had to communicate. Spiritual joy is unselfish. There is the desire that others should share in it. Those sixty furlongs, doubtless, seemed as nothing as they went along, intent on rejoining the company in the upper room. Reaching it, they found the eleven, Thomas excepted (John xx. 24), gathered together, and others with them. But before they could tell of their journey and the Lord's appearance the others told them of the certainty of the resurrection, and of the Lord's appearance to Peter (Luke xxiv. 34).

Appearance to Peter. — This is the second appearance of which Luke makes mention. No other Evangelist notices it; and Paul only of other writers records it (1 Cor. xv. 5), putting it first on the list of testimonies on which the resurrection has been accepted. But where the Lord met Peter and what He said to him are matters hidden from us. Of all other appearances that day we have specific accounts. We read of that to Mary in the garden (John xx.), and to the women on their way to the city (Matt. xxviii. 9); and we know what the Lord said to her, and to them. Of His appearance in the upper room both Luke and John write, and tell us, each in accordance with the character of his gospel, something that the Lord said. We are, as it were, taken into confidence, and permitted to know what passed. Of that interview with Peter, how different. Yet the silence maintained about it is in perfect harmony with God's ways in restoring to the sense of communion with Himself one who has failed. There was a question to be settled for Peter of communion with the Lord. Could he again enjoy it? That visit settled it, and for ever. We say visit, because evidently it was the Lord who sought him out. "He hath appeared unto Simon." The question of restoration to communion concerned Peter, and him alone. It was, and always is, a private matter between God and the individual. The question of service after such failure is quite another matter. A person might be restored in soul, and yet never again be entrusted with work for his Lord. Hence we believe it is that of that interview between Christ and Peter we have no details. No third person was present at it. No third person was to know of anything that passed during it. But the evident effect of it on Peter it is interesting subsequently to trace. For when, in John xxi. 7, Peter learnt that it was the Lord who was on the shore, he jumped into the water, and went off to Him at once without hesitation or reserve, and that before the question of his public restoration to service was taken up and settled. He knew what the Lord's heart was toward him, and that emboldened him. It is well to mark the distinction between these two questions, viz., restoration to communion and restoration to public service. A private interview was suitable for the former; a public announcement in Peter's case was required for the latter. But the sun that day was not to set before Peter was to be assured of restoration to communion. Fitting, then, is it that all details of that appearance are passed over. Fitting, too, is it that this appearance finds its place in the gospel by Luke.

The Upper Room. — The two had now the opportunity to relate the incidents of their journey, and how the Lord became known to them in the breaking of bread. But hardly had they finished their tale, which by some certainly was received with incredulity (Mark xvi. 13), when all eyes were arrested by the appearance of the Lord Himself in the midst. The doors were shut, we learn from John, who was present, for fear of the Jews, yet the Lord stood in their midst, and saluted them with words familiar to all, "Peace be unto you." It was the customary Jewish greeting (Luke x. 5). Terrified were they and affrighted at the apparition, for they thought it was a spirit. The Lord calmed them by pointing to His hands and His feet, and encouraging them to handle Him to be convinced that it was Himself. "A spirit," He said, "hath not flesh and bones, as ye see Me have." He was clothed in His body raised from the dead. Flesh and bones characterised it, for He was, and is, a Man. It should be remarked that there is no mention of blood. Blood, which is the life of the flesh (Lev. xvii. 14), was poured out when He died (Luke xxii. 20). That life given up was never taken back. Hence there seems a point of importance in the words used here by the Master. Then desiring to set them fully at ease, He asked for food, and ate it before them. How graciously did He deal with them.

The Commission. — Their fears removed, He could instruct them in the things that had taken place, inexplicable to them, though foretold by Him before the cross. All things had to be fulfilled that were written in the law of Moses, and in the Prophets, and in the Psalms concerning Him. For into these three divisions the Old Testament volume of inspiration was divided, and in each of them predictions about Him were to be found. What had taken place was just the fulfilment of prophecy. "It was written," He said, "that the Christ should suffer, and rise again from the dead the third day." But all that, clearly though stated in the Word, they had overlooked. A victorious Messiah effecting the redemption of the nation they looked for. A suffering Messiah they had not expected. But now among them once more, but in resurrection, the sufferings of death for ever past, He opened their understanding (or rather, mind) to understand the Scriptures, and communicated to them the will of God as to the service to be carried on through human instrumentality on earth, ere the day of power and glory should arrive. Repentance was to be preached, and remission of sins likewise, in His name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem (Luke xxiv. 47). A new gospel this was, tidings which had never been proclaimed among all the nations, even by the Lord Himself.

The Gospel of the Grace of God. — With the commencement of the Lord's ministry on earth subsequent to the imprisonment of John, a gospel was proclaimed to Israel called the gospel of the kingdom, etc. (Matt. iv. 23). Throughout the Lord's life that was the gospel He preached (Luke viii. 1; xvi. 16), and His disciples likewise (ix. 2, 6), as we have already had occasion (p. 245) to point out. Consequent on His death those tidings fell into abeyance, to be resumed indeed by-and-bye (Matt. xxiv. 14), but in the meantime giving place to another gospel, that called the gospel of the grace of God (Acts xx. 24). An essential element of this gospel is the proclamation of forgiveness of sins, and the field for this service is the world. Among all nations was forgiveness of sins to be preached, and repentance pressed upon all likewise, the exercise in the conscience as to the latter preparing the soul for the former; and no one on the face of the earth was excluded from the offer of grace. For this preaching was to begin at Jerusalem, the last place we should have supposed, but the first place in accordance with the mind of God, where this gospel was to be heard (Acts ii.). Repentance and forgiveness! These two were to be preached, and the Acts shows how faithfully and fearlessly the Apostles carried out their mission (Acts ii. 38; iii. 19; v. 31; xvii. 30; xx. 21; xxvi. 20). Power, however, was needed for the exercise of their commission. For that they had to wait till the coming of the Holy Ghost at Pentecost, consequent on the ascension of the Lord Jesus Christ. Till then to tarry in the city was the path the Lord marked out for them.

But why tell of the message of service weeks before the first gospel sermon was to be preached? The sacrifice on the ground of which that message could go out had been offered up, and had been accepted, the Lord present that day in resurrection attesting its acceptance by God. Hence on the first opportunity that presented itself, even the day on which He rose from the dead, the Lord, when He met His assembled disciples, announced what it was that they should preach. For the grace of plenary forgiveness rests for us on His atoning death. That accomplished, and proved to be so by His resurrection, no delay was permitted to intervene ere He told of plenary forgiveness which was to be preached far and wide. How His words that day shed a bright light on the efficacy of His sacrifice!

Luke and John. — We may stop here for a moment to contrast two circumstantial accounts of the first interview between the Lord and His assembled disciples on the day that He rose from the dead. We refer to the accounts given us respectively by Luke and by John. John of course was present; Luke, we are sure, was not. Both describe the uneasiness of the company on the Lord's sudden appearance, and His graciously quieting their fears. John then goes on to tell us of that significant action, His breathing on them to communicate the Holy Ghost, for a purpose which He proceeded to make plain. "Receive ye the Holy Ghost," were His words; "whose soever sins ye remit, they are remitted unto them, and whose soever sins ye retain, they are retained." It was with power to act for Him when absent, in administrative forgiveness, as it has been termed, that He then and there endowed them. It was not the gift of the Spirit, the promise of the Father, as Acts i. 4, 8 shows us. By receiving people into Christian fellowship or by refusing them, they would either forgive sins or retain them. But there is not a word in John's account of the character of the message which could act on the heart, and bring people to confess the Lord Jesus as their Saviour, and then to desire to be ranked among His own on earth. Luke, on the other hand, as we have seen, tells us of this last, but is wholly silent about the other. Their accounts of the same interview are very different, yet both equally correct. And each, we may again remark, gives us what is in character with the special line of his gospel. But the ministry of which Luke writes, be it ever remembered, must first have been in exercise, and have produced fruit in souls, before the administrative forgiveness of which John writes could have any call for its exercise.

Now this third appearance of the Lord came to an end. How grace had shone out in all three. To the two who were foolish and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets had spoken the Lord appeared, and opened up the Word. To that disciple who had so signally and openly failed the Lord appeared, and set him for ever at rest before Him. To the company so slow to believe that He was risen He also appeared, and told them of the message of grace that was to be carried far and wide throughout the earth.

The Ascension. — But for that ministry power was needed from on high. So the Lord had first to ascend. Luke then just touches on the Ascension ere closing the volume of his gospel, or, as he calls it (Acts i. 1), "the former treatise"; thus giving the most complete outline of any of the great movement of which he had been writing. For he commences with the announcement to Zacharias of the birth of John the Baptist, and closes with the ascension of the Lord into heaven. No other evangelist covers all this ground. And, indeed, of the Ascension he is the only historian; his fellow-writer Mark just notices it, but gives no details about it.

From Luke's pen we have two accounts of it, this at the end of his gospel, the other in the opening of the Acts, and as we read them we observe how much they differ. In Acts we learn what it was that the disciples had been asking, and the Lord's reply to their question completed ere He left them. We read, too, and we can picture the scene, the eleven (for we gather from Acts i. 2, 4 that they only were present) looking up to heaven as He ascended, and gazing upward still after He was lost to sight. We learn, too, of the ministry of angels, who assured them of His personal return. In the gospel we are told what the Lord was doing at the moment that He was parted from them. He was blessing them — a blessing which was not finished (Luke xxiv. 51), and we may say will never be exhausted. His instructions were completed in Acts i. 9. His blessing was not ended in Luke xxiv. 51. And now the gospel, which began with joy (Luke i. 14), closes with joy. They "returned to Jerusalem with great joy," for the angels had assured them of the Lord's personal return. Nor could that joy be damped, nor did they conceal it, for "they were continually in the temple blessing God" (Luke xxiv. 52, 53). A characteristic end. Opening as the gospel does in Jewish times, service was seen going on at the altar. Closing with the dawn of gospel times, the sacrifice of praise was already ascending up on high.

18. Notes on the Kingdom

{*The following chapter, which appeared years ago in a periodical, is here reprinted, having been first revised.

We here redeem the promise made on p. 79, and proceed to a consideration of what Scripture teaches about the kingdom and the terms used to describe it, seeking thereby to present a connected outline of the subject.}

"It shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel," was God's announcement to the serpent in the hour of its apparent triumph; for He would not leave the enemy in undisturbed possession of power over man and the earth. From the time, however, of man's acceptance of Satan's guidance, violence, self-will, and oppression began to be manifested in the world; but God's purpose must be fulfilled. So from time to time, during the forty centuries which rolled by between the prophetic announcement and the appearance of the One predicted, God disclosed something of the future concerning the kingdom to be established in power and permanence, where His authority has been disowned and His rights denied.

To Abraham it was promised, "In thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed," and to Isaac and to Jacob after him was this promise confirmed (Gen. xxii. 18; xxvi. 4; xxviii. 14). In the hope of the kingdom saints died. Jacob, before gathering up his feet into the bed, predicted the gathering [or better, obedience] of the nations to Shiloh, who was to come (Gen. xlix. 10); Moses closed his blessing of the tribes with the prospect of the people's welfare when the Lord should be reigning in person over the earth (Deut. xxxiii. 29); and David's last words are descriptive of the One who is yet to put down all that opposes itself to God (2 Sam. xxiii.). In the days of Israel's triumphs the hope of the kingdom was remembered, for they sang of it at the Red Sea, and looked on to it as the ark entered Jerusalem under David (Ex. xv.; 1 Chron. xvi. 23-33). Individuals cherished the prospect of it in their hearts. Witness Hannah, who, pouring forth the joyful utterance of a grateful heart, cannot close her thanksgiving for special favours without making mention of the King, the Lord's Anointed. And David, as he wandered over the land he was one day to govern, and as he sat on his throne in the city of Zion, looked onward to that which we too expect (Psalms xviii.; lxiii.); whilst of the personal majesty of the King he sang in Psalm xlv., and the beneficent character of His reign he celebrated in Psalm lxxii. After him the prophets took up the strain. Isaiah, Micah, and others predicted the blessings that will be enjoyed under His rule, and Daniel fixed the date of His first coming to earth; whilst to Nebuchadnezzar God revealed in dreams the crushing power of the stone cut out without hands, and the setting up by the God of heaven of a kingdom which shall never be destroyed, having taught him likewise that the heavens do rule (Dan. iv. 26).

To Jewish ears then it was no strange sound which John the Baptist gave forth as he proclaimed, "The kingdom of heaven [or, the heavens] is at hand." After him the Lord Jesus uttered the same words, when He began His ministry in Galilee; but both prefixed to their announcements the imperative call to repentance (Matt. iii. 2; iv. 17). For the children of Israel being sons of the kingdom (Matt. viii. 12), its establishment in power is connected with that nation's blessing, and their future glory depends on it, as Daniel had predicted: "The kingdom and the dominion, and the greatness of the kingdoms under the whole heaven, shall be given to the people of the saints of the Most High" (Dan. vii. 27). To them, then, whilst announcing the near approach of the kingdom, it was needful to declare the terms upon which they could enter it, and what God looked for from those who should receive it. In Galilee, therefore, the Lord preached repentance; on Nicodemus He impressed the necessity of the new birth (John iii. 3, 5) to His disciples He made known the childlike spirit requisite for those who shall enter it (Matt. xviii. 3), and warned all against mere profession without practice, which would for ever shut out souls from that which Israel had been taught to expect (Matt. v. 20; Luke xiii. 25-29). To John the kingdom was future, for dispensationally whilst on earth he was outside it (Matt. xi. 11); but the Lord could speak of it as existing on earth, manifested by the power over Satan which He Himself exercised (Matt. xii. 28).

John spoke of the prospect; the Lord preached the kingdom of God, and commissioned the twelve and the seventy disciples to proclaim it likewise (Luke iv. 43; ix. 2, 60; x. 9). The devils discerned the great change which had taken place consequent on His presence in the midst of Israel, for they felt His power, confessed His authority, and owned what alone they expected from His hands (Mark i. 24; Matt. viii. 28-31). He had come who was to destroy the works of the devil. The people who heard Him, and witnessed His works, should have discerned the great change and have rejoiced; for if He preached to them, as Matthew and Luke express it, "the gospel" or "glad tidings of the kingdom" or, as Mark perhaps really wrote, "the gospel of God" (Matt. iv. 23, ix. 35; Luke viii. 1; Mark i. 14), the kingdom was in existence, for the King was present. A power, which could deliver man from that one into whose hands he had put himself, was manifested in Him who went about doing good, and healing all that were oppressed of the devil. The people saw it and marvelled; the rulers confessed the works, and cavilled, and blasphemed (Mark i. 27; iii. 22-30). Men released from the tyranny of demoniacal possession were witnesses none could gainsay. The King was really on earth, and gathering souls around Himself by the word of the kingdom, the seed spread abroad by the sower; all who heard and received His word became really what Israel was only nationally, true children [or rather, sons] of the kingdom (Matt. xiii. 19, 38), wheat, or good seed sown in the field.

Turning back to Dan. vii. 18, 27, we find mention made of two classes: "the saints of the Most High," who "take the kingdom and possess the kingdom for ever, even for ever and ever"; and "the people of the saints of the Most High," to whom the kingdom under the whole heaven shall be given. The former are the heavenly saints who shall reign on high over the earth, the latter are the people of Israel on earth during the millennium; for the kingdom, as prophesied in the Old Testament, and often when spoken of in the New Testament, has reference to a rule to be exercised over the earth. To Jews, therefore, though the term "kingdom of heaven" is not found in the Old Testament, the thought it conveyed was not a new one, and when John preached, "The kingdom of heaven [or, the heavens] is at hand" (and he did not, that we read of, use any other formula), whilst his message must have gladdened the hearts of the faithful, he would have stumbled by his language none who were acquainted with Israel's hopes, or had studied the Old Testament Scriptures. And, often as we meet with the term "kingdom of heaven" in St. Matthew's gospel, where alone it is found, we never read of any one asking either John or the Lord what he meant by it, or what it was intended to express. The term might be new, but the thought it expressed had cheered the heart of many a saint in previous ages, as the language of the priest Zacharias, when his mouth was opened, shows us how the godly, before the Lord's first advent, looked onward to the fulfilment of God's word (Luke i. 71-79).

John the Baptist spoke of the kingdom of heaven; the Lord spoke besides of the kingdom of God. Are there then two kingdoms or one? One only. It is the kingdom of God, because it belongs to Him; it can be called the kingdom of the heavens, because in the heavenlies is, and will be, the seat of royal authority and power. If we take in the full range of the kingdom, it comprehends both heaven and earth. So we read of the righteous shining forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father (that is, the heavenly part of it), and of the kingdom of the Son of man (that is, the earthly part of it), which has earth for its sphere, though the seat of power will always be in the heavenlies (Matt. xiii. 43, 41) Again, addressing those who form part of the heavenly saints, the Lord said, "I will not drink henceforth of this fruit of the vine, until that day when I drink it new with you in My Father's kingdom" (Matt. xxvi. 29); whereas in the address He will at a future day make to the sheep, those among the Gentiles who shall have a portion on earth when He reigns, we read, "Come, ye blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world" (Matt. xxv. 34).

In general, however, in the gospels where the kingdom is spoken of, what was to be on earth, not in heaven, forms the subject of the teaching. And often we find the terms kingdom "of God" and "of heaven" used interchangeably. Thus the Lord could announce that both were at hand (Matt. iv. 17; Mark i. 15). He could speak, too, of the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, as in Matt. xiii. 11, and of the mysteries of the kingdom of God, as in Mark iv. 11 and Luke viii. 10; for He was teaching the things concerning the kingdom in existence, but not in display, as it would be known to the faithful whilst alive upon earth, and before it would be manifested to the world. So the parables of the leaven and of the mustard tree are similitudes of the kingdom of heaven as well as of the kingdom of God (Matt. xiii.; Mark iv.; Luke xiii.); for they describe the outward appearance and character of the kingdom on earth, after that the King should have entered into heaven. And looking on to the day when the kingdom shall be seen in power, and the heavenly saints shall have entered into their inheritance, the Lord could speak of souls sitting down with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven (Matt. viii. 11), as well as in the kingdom of God (Luke xiii. 28). Both terms could thus be used, because the epoch contemplated was that subsequent to His ascension to the heavenlies. For ever since the day that the cloud received Him out of the sight of His disciples, who stood gazing up to heaven, the kingdom as it exists on earth might be rightly called the kingdom of heaven as well as the kingdom of God.

But such was not always the case. When the Lord was on earth the kingdom of God was on earth, because He, the King, was here; but it could not be called the kingdom of heaven till He had taken His place in the heavenlies. So in certain places in the gospel, where Matthew adduces something characteristic of the whole of the present epoch, he uses the term the "kingdom of heaven"; whereas in the parallel places in Luke, where something is introduced characteristic of the time when the Lord was on earth, the term employed, and the only one which could be, is "the kingdom of God." Compare Matt. xi. 12, 13 with Luke xvi. 16. In the former, the Lord points out the new feature manifested in connection with the kingdom, which would be characteristic of the whole time till He returns in power. The Jew looked on the kingdom as his by right; his title to it he considered was bound up with his genealogy. As a son of Abraham he was a son of the kingdom; his birth according to the flesh settled the whole matter. But this was a grievous mistake, as the aspect of things around would point out. The Spirit of God was at work on souls, and the kingdom, whilst connected with birth, was connected with the new birth, and not with descent from Abraham according to the flesh. Men were finding that out, and as acted on by the Spirit, were taking the kingdom of heaven by violence, being in earnest about it. God's Spirit had then begun to work on souls who could not rest till they entered it. Such was, such is, the character of things as regards the kingdom. But in Luke the Lord speaks of what actually was done in His day: "The kingdom of God is preached," hence the change in the language, for we never read of the kingdom of heaven being preached. He preached — proclaimed — the kingdom of God, and taught about the kingdom of heaven.

Again, comparing Matt. v. 3 with Luke vi. 20, we may note the difference, and understand the reason of it. Describing the character of those to whom the kingdom belongs, the Lord speaks of it as the kingdom of heaven, but, telling those before Him of the blessings already theirs, He calls it the kingdom of God, for that was the character of it then existing.

Very guarded then is the language of Scripture, and it is well to observe it. This Matthew illustrates. For whilst he so often wrote the words "the kingdom of heaven," he teaches us that there were occasions when the Lord Jesus Christ could not use them. Disciples were to seek first the kingdom of God (chap. vi. 33), which had come unto Israel (chap. xii. 28), into which publicans and harlots were entering before the chief priests and elders, and from whom, because they rejected Christ, it should be taken and given to a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof (chap. xxi. 31, 43). These four passages are the only ones in which Matthew has used the term "the kingdom of God," except in chap. xix. 24. In the preceding verse to this last reference, we have the more usual term of the evangelist, "kingdom of heaven." And whilst the common text, with the majority of MSS., in ver. 24 reads "kingdom of God," Lachmann, Tischendorf, Tregelles, and Alford, following Z and many of the fathers, read here also "the kingdom of the heavens." Whichever reading be preferred on textual ground, there is nothing to forbid, looking at the passage exegetically, the reading of the Dublin rescript from being the faithful preserver of the original form of expression.

The hope of Israel was the kingdom in power when Messiah should reign. The angel in his message to the Virgin Mary took cognisance of it (Luke i. 32). The wise men from the east expected it (Matt. ii. 2). The aged Simeon died in the hope of it (Luke ii. 32). John the Baptist's question by his disciples when in prison proves it (Matt. xi. 3). All classes were familiar with it. The chief priests and scribes could turn up the Scriptures which spoke of it. Andrew, a humble fisherman, and the woman of Samaria, and the penitent thief, by their language confirm it. So, with Messiah at last really on earth, the appearance of God's kingdom was looked for as close at hand. To correct this mistake, the Lord spake the parable of the "pounds" (Luke xix. 11). Yet how deeply engraven this thought was on the hearts of the Jews is evidenced by the question addressed to Him by the disciples in their last moments with Him on earth (Acts i. 6-9). Joseph of Arimathea, who buried the Lord, waited, we learn, for the kingdom of God; and the two disciples on their journey to Emmaus confided to the stranger, as they thought, the once cherished hopes of their heart, now dashed to the ground by His death (Luke xxiii. 51; xxiv. 21). His answer confirmed the correctness of their hopes, and revived the anticipations of the nation's future blessing: "Ought not the Christ to have suffered these things, and to enter into His glory?" His death then, however startling and stumbling to His disciples, is no bar to the accomplishment of the prophecies recorded in the Scriptures; for, as Paul taught the assembled multitude in the synagogue at Antioch in Pisidia, the mercies of David would be made sure through the King reigning in resurrection (Acts xiii. 34).

All this, however, is yet future, though the kingdom exists on earth. What then would characterise the epoch whilst this anomalous condition of matters should last, the kingdom in existence without the King's power being everywhere really owned? The prophets can tell us nothing about it, so the Lord gave those parables, which are called similitudes of the kingdom, to explain it, and they supply the link in the chain which we should in vain search for elsewhere. Found in Matt. xiii., xviii., xx., xxii., xxv., Mark iv., Luke xiii., they come in each gospel, it should be remarked, only after His rejection by the nation has been unequivocally declared. See Matt. xii.; Mark iii. 22-30; Luke xi., xiii. "Therefore," said the Lord, "every scribe which is instructed unto [or, hath been made a disciple to] the kingdom of heaven, is like unto a man that is an householder, which bringeth forth out of his treasure things new and old ": "old things" because he can speak of what the prophets predicted; "new" because he can teach what the Lord revealed.

Of the parables in the gospels all are not similitudes of the kingdom. Those only are similitudes which have special reference to the characteristic features of the epoch between the Lord's ascension and return in power. Thus the parable of the sower is not a similitude of the kingdom, because it deals with the Lord's work, as the Sower of the seed, whilst He was on earth; but the parable of the tares is a parable of the kingdom, because it describes the evils that would be disseminated in the field by the enemy while men slept. So that parable, peculiar to Mark, of the seed cast into the ground, is a similitude of the kingdom, because it tells of the crop growing during the absence of Him who sowed the seed. Again, the parable of the husbandmen (Matt. xxi.) is not a similitude of the kingdom, because it only carries us down to the Lord's death, the heir killed, and the announcement of the judgment to be executed on the unfaithful husbandmen; but the parable of the marriage supper, which immediately follows, is a similitude of the kingdom, as it treats of events on earth in the kingdom after the Lord's ascension. And these two, placed so close together, and dealing with acknowledged facts in history, the death of the Lord and the death of His servants afterwards, help a careful student of the Word to discern when what is called the kingdom of heaven really did begin. Other parables there are, such as "the talents" and "the pounds," which treat of God's general dealings with men, but are neither of them similitudes of the kingdom (notwithstanding the unfortunate interpolation of the A.V. in Matt. xxv. 14); for though they apply to all who shall be in the kingdom, they do not confine themselves to what is characteristic only of the time during the Lord's absence from the earth.

That He will return to the earth, having received the kingdom, many of these parables intimate, as they speak of judgments to be executed and rewards to be bestowed. But this event, the ushering in of the kingdom in power, is rather outside their scope, and is treated of fully elsewhere in the book. They suppose it, for responsibility as servants does not cease till the Lord takes the kingdom; but they do not describe His advent, which will not take place till the gospel of the kingdom shall have been preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations, and then shall the end come (Matt. xxiv. 14). This last-mentioned phrase, the "gospel of the kingdom," very clear yet much misunderstood, marks at once the difference there must be between the character of the testimony that has been going forth since the Lord's ascension and that which was when He was on earth, and will again be ere He returns to reign.

These glad tidings He first announced, and these glad tidings will again be heard. He preached them in the land of Israel; they shall be preached throughout the whole world among all nations. How this is to be effected we learn in Rev. xiv. 6, and what the terms of the message are we there read. It is the everlasting gospel or good news, as it speaks of God's kingdom to be at last established in power on earth, to which, too, all are exhorted to submit, though it differs widely from the gospel or good news of God's grace. The former will be good news, because it will proclaim the end of the reign of wickedness and of Satan's meddling with the affairs of earth, and that the reins of power are henceforth to be in the hands of the Man competent to retain them. The latter is good news, as it tells us of God's plan of salvation for all the lost who believe on His Son, Jesus Christ.

Since the time when the Lord and His disciples preached the gospel of the kingdom before His crucifixion, that joyful sound has not been heard. When next it breaks forth, as a message from God to a groaning creation and a downtrodden people, from heaven will the tidings fall on the ears of all who will give heed to them. How those in heaven will regard the approach of the epoch when the Lord shall appear to the world and reign openly, Rev. xi. 15-17 discloses. Without one dissentient voice it will be hailed with joy. How creation and God's people on earth will view it, Psalms xcv. — c. bring out. "Zion heard and was glad; and the daughters of Judah rejoiced, because of Thy judgments, O Lord," is the simple statement of the Psalmist (xcvii. 8). And the Spirit, speaking by Isaiah, exclaims, "How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him that bringeth good tidings, that publisheth peace; that bringeth good tidings of good, that publisheth salvation; that saith unto Zion, Thy God reigneth" (lii. 7)! Till these days approach, though the gospel of the kingdom will not be proclaimed, the kingdom should have its due place in the teaching and preaching of God's servants. It had a place, as we will show, in the instruction which the first teachers of Christianity gave to their disciples; it should always have a place still.

During the forty days which elapsed between the Lord's resurrection and ascension, the kingdom of God had a prominent place in His teaching (Acts i. 3). Philip went down to Samaria and spoke about it (viii. 12). Paul at Ephesus, at Rome, and elsewhere preached it, and taught the things concerning it (xiv. 22; xix. 8; xx. 25; xxviii. 23, 31), but as the kingdom of God, and at times also of Christ, terms which must bring before the heart the thought of responsibility. It is God's kingdom; therefore to His will souls should conform, and His mind they should seek to discern. Were there contentions and strife about days and meats among the converts at Rome, the Apostle would remind them that "the kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost" (xiv. 17). Were the Corinthians taken up with gifts and the eloquence of their teachers, the Apostle would have them remember that "the kingdom of God is not in word, but in power." (1 Cor. iv. 20). And when he has to expose unrighteousness in various forms, he warns them that the unrighteous shall not inherit it (vi. 9, 10); and whereas some were seeking to persuade them that there was no resurrection of the dead, he would have them know that all the godly must be changed, "for flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God" (xv. 50). To the Galatians, and in the Epistle to the Ephesians, he has to speak of the same subject; for, whether he has to write and reprove those who were slipping away from foundation truth, or is able to unfold the true place of a believer in Christ, the truth concerning the kingdom having to do with the believer's walk on earth finds its proper place in both these letters (Gal. v. 21; Eph. v. 5). The saints at Colosse are reminded of the grace which had delivered them from the power of darkness, and translated them into the kingdom of the Son of His love (i. 13), though its display in power was, and is yet, future. The saints at Thessalonica had heard of it, and when in trouble were comforted by the prospect of it (1 Thess. ii. 12; 2 Thess. i. 5). Timothy was reminded of it, and the Hebrews received exhortations founded on the hope of it (2 Tim. iv. 1, 18; Heb. xii. 28). James speaks of it (ii. 5); Peter would stir up those to whom he wrote, that they might have an entrance into it ministered unto them abundantly (2 Peter i. 11); and John declares that he and the saints in his day had part in it (Rev. i. 9), as all the saints have still. At times, then, they taught about it as in existence; at times they spoke of its manifestation in power, which is future. As servants and instructed scribes they knew how to speak of it, and what to teach about it.

To enter the kingdom, however, and to be found in it when the Lord returns, are very different things. None can enter it now without being born of water and of the Spirit, nor even see it without being born again, and all who are so born during the time of Christ's absence become inheritors of it. It is the inheritance of God's Son, and God's children will inherit it with Him — "heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ." But within its range, as it now exists, all manner of evil is found, which at His coming will be gathered out of it (Matt. xiii 41); and ever after nothing actively evil will be allowed in it unjudged (Psalm ci.), though the unconverted will enjoy earthly blessings under His reign, if outwardly obedient to His sway (Psalm xviii. 44, margin).

Are the kingdom and the Church then the same, it may be asked? By no means. All who are of the Church inherit the kingdom, but all the heavenly saints will share in it likewise (Rev. xx. 6). Connected with each there is a hope. The hope of the Church is Christ's descent into the air; the hope connected with the kingdom is the Lord's manifestation in power. In the kingdom there are ranks; in the Church there are gifts. The rank and reward of each one in the kingdom will be determined by his service, as the catalogue of David's worthies shadows out, and the parable of the pounds clearly intimates; the gifts are bestowed on the Church in accordance with God's sovereign will, and responsibility flows from the possession of them. The place in the kingdom will be determined by the right use of the opportunities afforded and responsibilities discharged. From the kingdom all evil will be put out when the Lord returns; from the Church evil should, in subjection to the Word, be put out by His servants on earth whilst He is absent on high. The kingdom awaits an absent Lord; the Church is joined to a Head in heaven.

A few words in conclusion. Varied are the terms used in Scripture when speaking of the kingdom. It is God's kingdom, as we have seen, and the kingdom of heaven likewise. It is also the kingdom of God's dear Son, because to Him the rule in it has been committed. It is the everlasting kingdom, because it never will end. The Father's kingdom, and heavenly kingdom speak of the heavenly part of it; the kingdom of the Son of man is the earthly portion of it. We learn from the Word the commencement of the existence of the kingdom on earth. We learn, too, when the present form of it will cease. We read in the prophetical portions of the book how it will be displayed in power; and we read, too, that a time will come when Christ shall deliver up the kingdom to God, even the Father; but the kingdom will never end. He delivers it up, but it does not terminate. Daniel declares it shall last "for ever, even for ever and ever," and John in the last chapter of the Bible reaffirms it, as he writes, "They shall reign for ever and ever."

19. Concluding Remarks

Having now gone through the gospel somewhat in detail, to show that what we believe to be the plan of the writer is borne out by the order in which he marshals his facts and treats his subject, we would in this concluding chapter concisely state its outline, which distinguishes it from those of Luke's fellow-labourers Matthew and Mark. Much, as we all know, these three have in common; yet each of them has a plan peculiar to himself, which, whilst marking his independence of his co-evangelists, indicates, we believe, the direct guidance of the Holy Spirit of God.

A Summary. — Luke begins, as none of the others have done, with the visit of the angel Gabriel to Zacharias, the father of John the Baptist, that being the first intimation of the great events which were about to take place. After centuries of silence heavenly communications began afresh, for God was visiting His people, and the coming of Messiah was close at hand. So we next read of Gabriel's visit to the Virgin Mary, to announce the high destiny in store for her, viz., that she should become the mother of Him who is her Lord. In due time all this took place, and first John the Baptist appeared, and then the Lord.

Of the forerunner's birth and early years we have no details save those connected with his circumcision, viz., the opening of his father's mouth, and the prophetic utterance which poured forth from the lips of that aged priest. The place of John's birth in the hill country of Judaea is to us unknown, and as to how he passed his time in the deserts before commencing his ministry we are equally without information. Interest is concentrated on Him who was to come. So of His birth we read in detail, and about His early life we are not left in ignorance. At length, the time approaching for His manifestation to Israel, John the Baptist began his ministry, which was designed "to make ready a people prepared for the Lord." In full harmony with that, when all the people had been baptised, the Lord Himself appeared, hitherto a stranger to John, and submitted to the rite of his baptism, to fulfil, as we elsewhere read, all righteousness. Henceforth the Baptist is in the background, and the one Person whom the evangelist presents for all to be occupied with is the Lord Jesus Christ, the Saviour of the world (i. — iii.).

But ere commencing His public ministry, the Lord was led up of the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil. Resisting his allurements by the written word of God, He returned in the power of the Spirit into Galilee, and began preaching the gospel of the kingdom. To His labours in that northern part of the country, Luke, in common with Matthew and Mark, almost wholly confines himself, till the last week of Christ's life on earth commenced to run. And first of two Sabbath days we read, a fitting prelude to the history which is to follow. On each of those the Lord visited the synagogue. At Nazareth we learn of His ministry in the Word, and of the determined rejection of His teaching about grace by those who listened to Him. At Capernaum we read of Divine power in exercise on man's behalf, evidenced in casting out demons and in healing diseases. In these two services, proofs of Divine activity in grace, Luke delights to present Him (iv.).

But who was this One who was walking about and ministering among men? His miracles showed that He was the Creator, Jehovah, and the Son of man (v. 1-26). A new era then had dawned. Disciples were conscious of it. Old forms and ways did not suit the new order of things. "New wine must be put into new bottles." Further, traditional teaching about the Sabbath which had not authority from the Divine Word to rest upon, the Lord plainly intimated was no longer to have sway. Human regulations were not to hinder God in working. This stirred up the enmity of the scribes and Pharisees, who, filled with madness, communed one with another what they might do to Jesus (v. 27 — vi. 11).

It became now evident that the professed leaders and teachers of the people would not be helpers in the work which had begun. The Lord then chose twelve Apostles to be with Him, and that He might send them forth to preach. But before doing that He gave them instructions as to the duties of disciples, in the course of which He spoke about the kingdom of God. The kingdom was upon earth, for the King was there (vi.), and already had He preached the glad tidings of it, as He went about from place to place (iv. 43, 44).

So the subject of the kingdom is now taken up (vii. — ix. 62), and first blessings connected with it and the privilege of being in it on earth, a privilege John the Baptist did not enjoy, are set forth (vii.). After that characteristic features of it are traced out. First preached by the Lord as the glad tidings or gospel of that day, we learn that it is advanced solely by the word of God. Then suited instruments to labour for the Lord are found, it is seen, in those who have themselves first become subjects of Divine grace. And the principle on which blessing can be enjoyed is shown to be faith (viii.). Following on that, the twelve are sent out to preach, and to learn what their place and service in ministry was to be in relation to others, giving to them what they had first received from Christ. But the kingdom of God, though on earth, was not yet in display, for men had to be born again to see it (John iii.), and before this last could come about the Lord must die, so of that He now warned his disciples. Then for a brief moment He showed Himself to three of them on the mount in His millennial glory, the earnest, as Peter, who witnessed it, assures us (2 Peter i. 16), of the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ (ix.).

Beyond that Luke does not for a time proceed in his teaching about the kingdom, much having to take place on earth and centuries to roll by ere that coming in power would be known. Gospel times must first run their full course. Now that involved a great change, and, as we have already seen (viii.), a new way of working. Grace would flow out fully, and that irrespective of nationality. Of grace our evangelist would therefore treat (xiv.-xvii. 19). But that necessitated the setting aside for the time of Israel as God's privileged people. So, as introductory to the theme of Divine grace, to the state of the nation in the Lord's day, and to the consequences which would follow, the attention of readers is first directed (x.— xiii. 35).

The Lord had gone about through city and village preaching and showing the glad tidings of the kingdom of God (viii. 1). The twelve had been sent out on a like errand (ix. 2). Now for the third and last time an appeal was to be made to the nation, as the Lord appointed seventy others, and sent them two and two before His face into every city and place whither He Himself would come (x. 1-24). By this mission sent forth in grace, it was evident that the previous labours of the Lord and of the twelve had not won the hearts of the people to follow Him. Yet how was blessing to be then enjoyed? By keeping the law? That was seen to be hopeless (vers. 25-37). The way to get it in that day was to receive the ministry of Christ, and to pray to God (x. 38 — xi. 13). That generation, however, as Luke proceeds now to point out, refused to seek it. For the Lord's miracles they ascribed to the power of Beelzebub; His ministry was unheeded; and His withering rebuke of the lawyers and Pharisees for their hypocrisy only stirred up increased hostility against Him (xi. 14-54). Thereupon the evangelist enters on what may be called a digression, and a very important one, as he points out from the teaching of the Lord what must be the path of true disciples in consequence, and furnishes them with instructions which carry them on in thought to the Lord's return (xii. 1-53). That done, he returns to the subject of the nation, and tells of the national judgment then near at hand, and of the cutting down of the fig-tree because of its unfruitfulness. The Jews would lose for a time their political existence, to be restored to them when they shall welcome the Lord on His return in power (xiii.).

But a long interval was to elapse between the cutting down of the fig-tree and the Lord's return to reign. Would God cease to work during that time? No. The kingdom of God was already, and would continue to be, upon earth. A work of grace would therefore be going forward, and grace to sinners, and not to one favoured nation, would especially characterise that period. So to teaching about grace and the subjects of it, and God's joy in showing it, are we next directed (xiv. — xvii. 19).

That great theme treated by Luke in a way and in a fulness not met with elsewhere, to the subject of the kingdom he returns, but looking on to its establishment in power, resuming the thread from where he had dropped it in chap. ix. We there read of the Transfiguration, the earnest of the coming kingdom; we now read of the Lord's personal return in power to reign (xvii. 20-37). Closely connected with this we have parables and teaching to enforce lessons suited for those who look for the second coming (xviii. 1-30).

Having thus carried on his readers in thought to the commencement of the dispensation of the fulness of times (Eph. i. 10), Luke has reached the limit to which, under the guidance of the Spirit, he was to confine himself, viz., from the incarnation to the coming in glory. But for this last to be brought about the Lord must first die, and that at Jerusalem. An account then of His journey thither and of His ministry in that city during the last week of His life on earth naturally follows (xviii. 31 — xxi. 38). After that come the closing scenes, the last night, and the Crucifixion, followed by the Resurrection and the Ascension. And with that Luke's Gospel ends.

An Epitome. — Here we would remark that the great subjects of it, in the order in which they are brought forward, present us with an epitome of God's dealings on earth from the Lord's first advent to His second. He appeared in humiliation and ministered among men. Rejected by the people of Israel of His day, judgment overtook them, and God's ways in connection with the gospel of His grace began to be developed during His absence, who will, however, certainly return in power to reign. In harmony with this, the order of events on earth, is the arrangement in the gospel as stated above of the great subjects of which it treats. Was this arrangement a mere accident, or was it from design?

Elsewhere in Scripture we find that events or persons mentioned in historic order are found to be links in a chain of important moral teaching. See Heb. xi., which furnishes us with the history of a walk by faith, illustrated in the worthies of old from Abel downwards. Then, too, in the blessing by Jacob of his sons in Gen. xlix. an outline has been traced of the nation's political history to the end of all their troubles, just as their ecclesiastical calendar in Lev. xxiii. gives a history of God's ways in grace with them throughout their national existence. To come to the New Testament, the Epistles to the seven Churches, as has in recent times been pointed out, provide us with a moral history of the Church of God from apostolic times to the close of its earthly existence. With these examples before us, it need be no surprise that the arrangement of the gospel of Luke presents us with an epitome of the history of God's ways on earth between the two advents of our Lord.

Inspiration. — We have spoken in the preceding pages of the inspiration of the sacred writers. Some remarks ere closing on this important subject may not be out of place. Theories about it have been propounded, degrees of it have been advocated, and what is commonly understood by verbal inspiration has been mentioned by some only to be rejected as a dogma which no reasonable person could for one moment accept. Now the very propounding of theories about it is a confession of its reality, though the divergent views of its character and fulness indicate that no one now from his own experience can speak authoritatively about it. If then we would desire a definite conception about it, we must seek it from those who were themselves vessels of it. This is a course consistent with the daily actions of prudent men, who, if wanting reliable information on any matter of real importance, turn to those who are competent to furnish it. Theories in such circumstances will not satisfy the inquirer. Facts, reliable facts, or trustworthy information is desired. So with inspiration.

Of course, if God had not vouchsafed any light on the subject, one could understand men theorising on it; but since He has, and from the Scriptures of truth we can get reliable information from those who were personally conscious of it, to the Scriptures we should turn, and to that which they teach we should submit.

Both the Old and the New Testament treat of it, neither volume being reticent about it. Peter, writing of the Old Testament prophets, explicitly states that "prophecy came not at any time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake [or perhaps, men spake from God] as they were moved by the Holy Ghost" (2 Peter i. 21).

The Apostle Peter's competency to speak on this subject none, we presume, will call in question. He was an inspired writer, and pronounced with no hesitancy on the matter, and authenticated, too, his brother Paul's writings as part of Holy Scripture (2 Peter iii. 15, 16).

Prophetic Testimony. — But what will the prophets say of themselves? Let us listen to their statements. David has put on record his personal experience at the commencement of his last words (2 Sam. xxiii. 2): "The Spirit of the Lord spake by me, and His word was in [or, upon] my tongue." David was a saint of God. Was he under a delusion about this? He evidently would not have scouted the thought of verbal inspiration as that which no one of sense could for a moment accept. He believed in it. He was conscious of it. "His word was upon my tongue," was his recorded testimony at the close of a long life, and near the conclusion of his prophetic ministry.

Let us summon another witness, the prophet Balaam. What is said about him, and what can he say of himself? "He loved," we know, "the wages of unrighteousness," and, if he could, would have uttered what Balak desired. But a power that he could not resist held sway over him. He was for the time being the mouthpiece of God, and spake, however unwillingly, the words of God. And so conscious was he of the reality of inspiration, and that verbal, that on his first interview with Balak, before he uttered one prediction about Israel, he told him, "Have I now any power to say anything? The word that God putteth in my mouth, that shall I speak" (Num. xxii. 38). In accordance with this, we read in the next chapter that "the Lord put a word in Balaam's mouth and said, Return unto Balak, and thus thou shalt speak." Reproached by Balak for blessing his enemies, the prophet excused himself, saying, "Must I not take heed to speak that which the Lord hath put in my mouth?" Essaying a second time to curse Israel, the Lord again met him, "and put a word in his mouth, and said, Go again unto Balak, and say thus" (xxiii. 5, 12, 16). Balak now thoroughly indignant against Balaam, the prophet again excused himself: "Spake I not also to thy messengers, which thou sentest unto me, saying, If Balak would give me his house full of silver and gold, I cannot go beyond the commandment of the Lord to do either good or bad of my own mind; but what the Lord saith, that will I speak?" (xxiv. 12, 13). Balaam was no stranger to inspiration. He had no theory about it. He knew, and was constrained to own, that the words he uttered were those that God had put in his mouth, as God had told him on the way, "Only the word that I shall speak unto thee, that thou shalt speak" (xxii. 35). Had we then no instance save that of Balaam, we must have admitted that verbal inspiration — i.e., the speaking in words taught of God — was not only possible, but in his case was actually carried out. Nor was that, it appears, any surprise to the prophet.

We are not, however, shut up to Balaam's history for illustrations of it, valuable as they are because he was an unwilling instrument for David, as we have seen, is just as clear and definite about it: "His word was upon my tongue." But other testimonies there are to the same effect, as Micaiah, Jeremiah, and Ezekiel. Micaiah, the son of Imlah, a prophet in the days of Ahab, and well known to the king, appears but once in the page of history, viz., when sent for by Ahab, at the instance of King Jehoshaphat, that they might learn from him the mind of the Lord about their contemplated joint expedition to Ramoth-gilead. Urged by the messenger sent to summon him to speak that which was good — i.e., well-pleasing to Ahab — the faithful servant of Jehovah replied, "As the Lord liveth, what the Lord saith unto me, that will I speak." Ushered into the presence of the two kings, he delivered his message, and his farewell words to Ahab betokened his consciousness of having been the mouthpiece of God: "If thou return at all in peace, the Lord hath not spoken by me" (1 Kings xxii. 14, 28). Ahab did not return in peace, for the Lord had spoken by Micaiah.

Were this the only instance that could be quoted in the whole of the Old Testament in support of verbal inspiration, the inference might not have seemed so conclusive. But, taken in conjunction with that which we have read of Balaam and of David, one can be at no loss to understand what Micaiah meant to convey when he affirmed that the Lord spoke by him, nor what he intended the king to believe when he said, "Hear thou therefore the word of the Lord" (ver. 19). He spoke in words taught him by God. It was God's word to which he gave utterance, and not merely Micaiah's impression of something which had been revealed to him. He was a prophet of the Lord. Ahab knew that. No doubt existed in the king's mind that Micaiah could tell him what was true in the name of the Lord (ver. 16). And the sequel shows that the prophet did. What spirit it was that animated the false prophets, he fearlessly told him. And what he predicted came to pass. In language clear and definite, admitting of but one construction, he announced the king's death, if he went to battle at Ramoth-gilead. And Ahab had a consciousness that Micaiah was right, and his prophets wrong. He went into battle, but disguised, and fell. Probably he thought by that device he should yet return in peace. He went into battle, and was mortally wounded. God's word by the prophet failed not, for he was a prophet of God, and his utterance was inspired; and just as David could say, "The Spirit of the Lord spake by me," so Micaiah could affirm that the Lord spoke by him. Between them in that there was no difference. Both were prophets. Both were equally inspired.

David and Micaiah affirmed the inspiration of their words. Of Jeremiah and Ezekiel, we have the Lord's testimony to the inspiration of their predictions. To the former God said, "Behold, I have put My words in thy mouth" (Jer. i. 9), He would speak therefore the words of God. Addressing the latter, the Lord declared, "Thou shalt speak My words unto them, whether they will hear or whether they will forbear; for they are most rebellious" (Ezek. ii. 7). Again, "Son of man, go, get thee unto the house of Israel, and speak with My words unto them" "Moreover, He said unto me, Son of man, all My words that I shall speak unto thee receive in thine heart, and hear with thine ears. And go, get thee to them of the captivity, unto the children of thy people, and speak unto them, and tell them, Thus saith the Lord God, whether they will hear, or whether they will forbear" (iii. 4, 10, 11).

At different times and under different circumstances these prophets spoke as they were moved by the Holy Ghost. What that meant, the Scriptures we have referred to make very plain. They uttered the words of God. Men heard them speak perfectly naturally, as one man might speak to another but the words they uttered were the words of God, put into their mouths by the Holy Ghost. And that last quotation from Ezekiel makes very plain what we are to understand by the phrase, "Thus saith the Lord." In his case it meant that he was speaking God's words to the people. In the case of the others it meant the same. So whether we turn to Balaam or to Jeremiah there is no difference. What the historian affirmed of the son of Beor, that "the Lord put a word into Balaam's mouth," the Lord Himself declared of Jeremiah: "I have put My words into thy mouth." Nothing less then than verbal inspiration is affirmed of the Old Testament prophets. What they gave expression to were the words of the living God.

Apostolic Testimony. — Will the New Testament teach something different as we read the experience of the Apostle of the Gentiles? Let us quote his testimony about it: "We speak wisdom among them that are perfect: yet not the wisdom of this world, nor of the princes of this world, that come [rather, which are coming] to nought: but we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, even the hidden wisdom, which God ordained before the world unto our glory: which none of the princes of this world knew; for had they known it, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. But, as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love Him; but God hath revealed them unto us by His Spirit; for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God. For what man knoweth the things of a man save the spirit of man which is in him? Even so the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God. Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God. Which things also we speak, not in words which man's wisdom teacheth, but which the Spirit teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual [or, as it has been rendered, communicating spiritual things by spiritual means].* But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him; neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned" (1 Cor. ii. 6-14).

{*The Greek word translated in the A.V. and in the R.V. also "comparing" has been variously rendered. Wordsworth and Ellicott translate it "combining spiritual things with spiritual" Alford gives it "interpreting spiritual things to the spiritual" Meyer "connecting spiritual things with spiritual," and adds, "not uniting things unlike in nature, which would be the case, were we to give forth what was revealed by the Holy Spirit in the speech of human wisdom, in philosophic discourse, but joining to the matters revealed by the Spirit the speech also taught by the Spirit — things consequently of like nature." The late Mr. J. N. Darby translated it as given above: "communicating spiritual things by spiritual means."}

We have quoted this passage at length, for it furnishes us with the fullest information that we have on our subject. For (1) the distinction between revelation and inspiration is clearly marked; (2) the intelligence of the Apostles and prophets of the New Testament in that which they ministered is plainly asserted; (3) what is to be understood by Divine inspiration is unhesitatingly affirmed; (4) what hinders a natural man profiting by the inspired communications is openly stated. They are only spiritually discerned. So for that he must be born again.

Revelation and inspiration are quite different operations of the Spirit. "God," writes the Apostle, "hath revealed them unto us" — i.e., the vessels of inspiration — "by the Spirit," who is competent, of course, as being the Spirit of God, to unfold the mind of God (vers. 10, 11). Now a man might receive a revelation without being empowered to transmit it in inspired words. For that a further action of the Spirit was requisite. Besides, there was spiritual intelligence in those to whom revelations were vouchsafed. Three different operations of the Spirit on behalf of inspired writers are therefore stated in this passage: By the Spirit the revelation came; by means of that same Spirit the individual had understanding of that which was revealed to him, so different from that which is stated in the passage quoted from Isa. lxiv. 4; * and further he was empowered to make known, what had been revealed and what also he had understood, in words taught of the Holy Ghost. This last was alone inspiration. And the words of the Apostle, who knew well of what it was that he was writing, distinctly teach that it was verbal inspiration, for the words in which the Divine communications were expressed were taught him by the Holy Ghost.

{*In Old Testament times there was not always understanding by the prophet of that which was revealed to him. Of this Dan. xii. 8 is an example.}

In the Old Testament the different prophets we have referred to either claimed for their words that they were divinely inspired, or it was affirmed respecting them. The testimony about it, however, in each case was limited to the prophet in question. With the Apostle Paul it was different. He wrote of course of himself, but he included others likewise. "We," he wrote, not "I." Of what was true of all New Testament writers he bore witness. So, whether we examine the testimony about Old Testament prophets or turn to that full statement about New Testament Apostles and prophets, the result is the same. What they gave forth was the truth of God in words taught them by the Spirit of God. Of degrees or of measures of inspiration we have not a hint. The testimony throughout is uniform and decided.

In full accord with this, the Apostle Paul, writing to Timothy (2 Tim. iii. 16), reminds him and us of this special feature of the sacred writings. They are inspired of God. For whether we read with the A.V., "All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable," etc., or with the R.V., "Every Scripture inspired of God is also profitable," etc., the teaching of the passage is for our purpose the same, the context showing that the Apostle was concerned with the sacred writings.* Every one of them is inspired of God. And though at the moment he was referring to those which Timothy had known from his youth — i.e., the Old Testament Scriptures — his statement as to inspiration will include all the writings known as holy or sacred Scriptures, amongst which, as Peter distinctly affirmed, Paul's Epistles are to be classed (2 Peter iii. 15, 16).

{*Though either translation is admissible, the ancient versions — the Syriac, the Vulgate — omitting "and" before "is profitable," both translate "Every Scripture," etc. So Wiclif, Tyndall, and Cranmer the Genevan, being seemingly the first English version which exhibited "and," translated the passage like the A.V.}

Would any ask, How shall we know these writings? The Lord's answer to the Jews has an application here: "If any man will do God's will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God or whether I speak of Myself" (John vii. 17). For the Divine Word is found to act on the soul in character with the revelation of the nature and ways of God, acting as no other word does. It quickens (James i. 18; 1 Peter i. 23). It cleanses (Psalm cxix. 9; John xv. 3; Eph. v. 26). It enlightens (Psalm cxix. 105, 130). And it searches (Heb. iv. 12). It proves itself to the person to be the word of God, and proves what the individual is who persistently rejects it (John viii. 47; 1 John iv. 6). It bears thus witness in the soul that it is God's word.

We are now, then, in a position to understand what Scripture means by inspiration as a special feature of the sacred writings. And the three different operations of the Spirit of God, all of which each New Testament vessel of inspiration was a subject, are distinctly made known to us. Between a revelation and an inspired writing or oral communication there was a great and important difference. By the former was communicated to a person from God something which he had not previously known; by the latter a person was divinely taught how to express what he had to say, so that it should be really the Word of God. Keeping this in mind, one can readily understand that there might be, as indeed there are, things and sayings recorded by inspiration which in themselves had not the Divine approval. Thus the words of the devil asserting that the authority and glory of all the kingdoms of the habitable earth were at his disposal were not true. But the record of those words in the gospel is an inspired record, the evangelist having written it in words taught him by the Spirit. So, again, the words of the Apostle Paul to Ananias calling him a "whited wall" (Acts xxiii. 3) could not have been pleasing to God, yet they form part of the inspired history of the Acts of the Apostles. And this last instance illustrates a point, viz., that the operation of the Spirit of God by which the Apostles, and the teachers, and the writers communicated the words of God, was not necessarily continuous with them. Of this David at Nob (1 Sam. xxi.), Peter at Antioch (Gal. ii. 11-14), and Paul at Jerusalem, are all proofs. We commonly speak of inspired men; Scripture treats of inspired communications, both oral and written.

Again, between the spiritual understanding of a revelation and inspiration we have also to mark the difference. Now the sacred writers, we learn, were not left to their understanding of things, nor to their memory, to record what they would as best they could. Had that been the case, there might have been varied degrees of intelligence, and therefore varied degrees of accuracy, in that which they set forth. All that however has been guarded against by teaching them the very words in which they were to express God's mind. Does the smile of incredulity pass over the countenance of any reader of these lines? We fearlessly ask such, What course should we as prudent rational people pursue? Whose judgment in the matter should we accept, that of those who confessedly have had no personal experience of inspiration, or that of those whose truthfulness none can challenge, and who distinctly assert that they spoke in words taught them by the Spirit of God?

"Mechanical all that is," perhaps some may exclaim. "Quite a mistake," we readily answer, and can turn to an illustration that may help such. When Aaron delivered the message to the people, he spake in words put into his mouth by Moses (Ex. iv. 15). Was it mechanical with him? Doubtless those who heard him could have said, "It is Aaron to the life." The voice, the intonation, the gesture, all were Aaron's. "Yet he spake all the words which the Lord had spoken unto Moses, and did the signs in the sight of the people. And the people believed" (Ex. iv. 30, 31). So with the sacred writers. Each one exhibits his own characteristics and style. And at times how varied is the style. Take David, sometimes in the depths in prayer (Psalms lvi.; lvii.; cxlii.), at others in the freedom of spirit which results in praise (Psalm cxlv.). Then how different are his writings, often poetry of the highest order, from the prose of Ezekiel! So the beautiful language of Balaam may be contrasted with the plaintiveness of much that we have from the pen of Jeremiah; and the simplicity of the language of John, though treating of the deepest subjects, is very different from the character of Paul's writings. Yet each one put on record and treated the subjects which he handled in words taught of the Holy Ghost. Put together a volume made up of the works of thirty non-inspired writers, and there would not be more marked individuality to be traced in their compositions, than can be seen in those whose books make up the sacred volume.

But to return. The distinction between intelligence of matters to be written about and inspiration is especially important in the case of the evangelists. For much which they relate could not be called revelation. Many of the incidents and miracles had been witnessed by crowds, and were commonly known. Nevertheless God by the Spirit, if Paul is to be believed, taught them the words in which they were severally to set them forth, presuming in what we say that we are to receive the four gospels as part of the holy writings, rejecting in common with the Church of God the apocryphal gospels which have survived to our day. Hence, though different theories have been propounded to account for the origin of the three synoptic gospels, and explanations have been suggested of variations in many things which they relate in common, no explanation can be satisfactory which does not fully admit the truth of their verbal inspiration. And is it not the case that this important factor in the matter is the one most commonly in such theories wholly ignored?

And now in closing we would avow our belief that the more the different gospels are studied (and indeed the different books of Scripture) to ascertain the plan of each writer in the work which bears his name, the result will be to deepen the impression of the independence of the sacred penmen one of another, and to strengthen the belief that each one was distinctly guided as to the line he was to pursue, and divinely instructed to express what he did in words taught of the Holy Ghost. Such has been the experience of the writer of this volume. May it be that of his readers.