Luke presents the Man of Sorrows and the good pleasure of God. God was in Christ (2 Cor. 5). Throughout the Gospel, two classes come before Christ's eye:- (1) the self righteous who justify themselves, (2) the repentant sinners who justify God. (Wisdom's children). It has been well said that the subject begins with a dumb priest, an empty temple and barrenness and it ends with a fruitful praising company in the temple. In His public ministry Christ came in priestly grace to secure everything for God, and thus infuse new life into the dead barren condition, and so caused those who received him to be vocal with praise to God. Luke 1:1, says "many" had attempted to declare the basis of the Gospel (evidently more than three). The eye witnesses were ministers of the Word, lit. personal attendants forming a bodyguard of those who treasured every saying. The artists depicting the disciples surrounding Christ evidently hanging on every syllable, apprehensive that not one should be missed is a well known picture. v. 3 "From the very first," obviously could not apply as to time since Luke did not appear in the record until 20 years after the Crucifixion, but the expression means that Luke did not get his information by hearsay, but from the fountain head through the Holy Ghost. Theophilus, probably a Grecian convert, was true to the meaning of his name "a lover of God!"
"First born son" of Luke 2:7, proves the perpetual virginity and the mariolatry of arch ritualism to be fictions. To simple shepherds was given the angelic announcement of good news for all. (That they watched their flocks by night disposes of the current idea that the transcendent incident happened in mid-winter). The theme was that the good pleasure of God was manifested in a man towards men. He was and is the Son of God's love. The shepherds were stirred and published abroad what they saw. Their audience wondered, but they did not move a step to see the child! Mankind generally was not in harmony with the angelic testimony. The poverty of the parents was evident in the offering of two birds instead of a lamb. The first mention of "comfort" occurs relative to Simeon who was warned by the Holy Ghost that he should not die until he had seen the Lord's anointed. (The Pharisees were insensible to the Holy Spirit). Simeon's heart was full and he poured out the matchless prophetic statement as he held in his arms the true Ark of the Covenant. Then Anna, like Simeon, did not come in by chance, she was in time to join in the thanksgiving and to testify to all who looked for redemption in Jerusalem (i.e., the counterpart of the consolation of Israel). The subsequent twelve years are tersely summarised in Luke 2:40. His conduct as a child was perfect. The incident in the temple occurred on the occasion of His first visit to Jerusalem. He did not teach, he simply asked questions and heard the answers. Those present were amazed; Luke 2:49, gives His first recorded statement (John 5:17, is analogous). In the 18 years following there was no premature assumption of authority but simple obedience. Mary in faith waited patiently for the solution of her perplexities. She was probably the only one mentioned at the beginning of the Gospel who survived to the end thereof. We may be sure that these obscure years were marked by the same features as emerged in His later years when under the searchlight of scrutiny by carping critics!
An important event was the advent of John the Baptist who emerged from his seclusion in the wilderness much like Elijah of old. He preached the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins and the fulfilment of Isa. 40 (the lowly valley of penitents, the lofty mountains of Pharisees, the crooked publicans and the rough soldiers, would all be dealt with by the power of God). Was this the Messiah? John dispelled all illusions, proclaiming the forthcoming baptism of the Spirit and fire. The Pharisees were exposed in their essential character as vipers which had contaminated the people. Grace can flow forth to all (not merely to Israel). All flesh shall see the salvation of God (Luke 3:6). External formalities and reliance on national prescriptive right would be useless. He warned vehemently of coming judgment, yet preached good news. John's baptism was a preparatory work and to the life of the Coming One. (Christian baptism is to the death of Christ). John preached in the wild region of Jordan, not at the seat of man's authority in Jerusalem, where boasted light and learning were.
In due course Christ presented Himself for baptism, while praying He received Heaven's salutation of good pleasure. The genealogy is said to be via Mary, (as Matthew gave that via Joseph), although credited via Joseph as head, both came to a focus in David. Luke 4. opens with the temptation in the wilderness. 40 days formed a perfect test (it is instructive to see the recurrence of 40 in the O.T.). The test was not in a garden of delights like Eden, but in the desert. The order of the temptations was moral. (Matthew gives the historic or time order). The order and character of test in Eden is an important analogy. The devil appealed to the same cravings which had been so successful there. As in 1 John 2, the lust of the flesh is seen in the need of bread; the lust of the eye re the kingdoms of the world. (The Lord could not take the kingdom from Satan, nor later, from the mob which was His by right). The pride of life was seen in the advice to test God's care. (In Eden to the man and woman the fruit appeared to be good for food, pleasant to the eye and desirable as making wise). These were the same three elements in evidence with disastrous results to them, but the elements appealed in vain to the Lord, because these elements making up man's constitution found no reciprocation in Him. The enemy was countered in all the tests by the word of God. He knew that the words were no mere words of Moses or other scribes and thus made no protest against their use. The same principles based on the value of the Scriptures as the word of God are valid for the christian now. The devil's quotation of scripture was faulty and his contentions were lies!
After the test the Lord began his public ministry. Luke dwells chiefly on that part in Galilee. The Lord had bound the strong man and now proceeded to spoil his goods! The powers of evil were manifested in two ways:- (a) allurement, appealing to lust or desire, (b) the threat of the power of death, which the Lord came to annul. He began at his home town of Nazareth. V. 18 presents Him as the vessel of grace which arrested attention but was despised by the mob. Israel had always done so. "Is not this Joseph's son?" Grace had leaped over the wall to the helpless widow and to the hopeless Naaman (26, 27). As of yore they could not bear free grace and would have killed Him, but His hour was not come. He moved to Capernaum. In the synagogue he would not receive testimony from the devil in the man. (The devils see, only men are blind). The devil had to quit his victim at the word of the Lord. Then in the case of Simon's mother-in-law, disease had to go. His great business was preaching the kingdom of God. In Luke 5 by the lake He preached the word of God. He was not long in Peter's debt for the loan of his boat as a platform. He was the Creator and so His word had authority over created things. The dubious Peter obeyed the command. The partners in the other boat shared in the privilege of fishing in the lake. James and John were more intimate with Peter as partners in the business. To express the distinction two different Greek words are used (vv. 7, 10). Peter's confession was similar to those of Job and Isaiah of old! The sequel was they forsook all and followed Him to be fishers of men. The cleansing of the leper followed (type of the hideousness of sin). None could have touched the leper with impunity but He! Note the leper's faith, "Lord if thou wilt," answered by "I will." No one appealed in vain. The priest was to certify the cleansing. The fame of Jesus spread abroad, yet He was ever dependent; he prayed. Next the helplessness of paralysis is reviewed; note the perseverance. Forgiveness of sins is more important than healing of the body! But the criticism of the Pharisees was crushed by the body being healed with surplus strength to carry the bed which had hitherto carried the palsied. Strange things indeed were being seen (a new day had dawned, antecedent to grace reigning through righteousness). Levi who had been hitherto squeezing out the resources of the people, left all at the word of the Lord and followed Him. His enlarged heart made a great farewell feast to a great company and doubtless he received great grace in return. This was a great blow to the Pharisees who misapprehended the meaning and they were astonished to hear that sinners were the very people wanted. To the quibblers he answered "could the sons of the bridechamber fast, while the bridegroom was with them." The cross was implied in the days of fasting later! Christianity and Judaism were incompatible, just as a new unfelted cloth could not hold with the old and the old skins could not accommodate the new wine The Spirit and ordinances were inconsistent! The disciples enjoying His presence could not recognise old practices irrespective of the taste of those who did not know grace and pronounced the old wine or pleasures better.
In Luke 6 that tradition was hostile to grace and man's interest is seen in the plucking of the ears of corn and the sequel. The formalist could not stand grace, and appealed to tradition not the word of God. A new principle was introduced in the Lord being supreme over the Sabbath, the sign of the covenant. The man with the withered hand could not work. There was no Sabbath for man under such conditions. The Lord asserted His right to do good and the restoration of the hand was a work for God. But to maintain tradition the cavillers would forbid God's mercy. Subsequently the Lord went into the mountain and prayed all night. Next day, His love was active in the choice of the twelve who were attracted to Him as centre. They were an inner circle in the multitude of other disciples and without these there was the great multitude of needy folk. His goodness flowed out to all in healing, then their minds were free to hear the Gospel. Then followed the "Sermon on the Mount" more tersely stated than in Matthew. That was moral instruction for the new company; the remnant and yet the nucleus for the heavenly calling. The sermon is full of paradoxes to those who judge by external evidences. Their reward was in heaven! The disciples were taught how to view their enemies, showing abundant love and mercy, avoiding a censorious spirit, exercising self-judgment. (The blind Pharisees could only fall in the ditch). The man who attended to the Lord's words would be like the builder on a rock; while the negligent would be involved in the same irrevocable disaster as the builder on earth or sand. (Galashiels, 1940-41).
In Luke 7, the principles and powers of the Kingdom are recorded. The centurion's servant (who was "precious") was sick. As a proselyte he induced the elders to intercede. The centurion truly discerned the situation and had his servant restored according to his faith. In simplicity the unnamed centurion achieved undying fame! Then followed the raising from the dead of the son of the widow of Nain. The pressure of bereavement was there, but the Lord had compassion on her. His power triumphed over death, and the lad was delivered alive to his mother. God had indeed visited his people, just as in the dark days of Elijah and Elisha. Then John the Baptist thought the coming kingdom was of a curious nature when it allowed its herald to be imprisoned. Was He really the Christ? The Lord's answer was by exhibiting the powers of the world to come. Disease, death and devil had to yield their prey! "Go tell John, what things ye have seen"! They were more potent than words and restored the faith of John, then followed rich testimony to the greatness of the herald, yet there was a great change of dispensation taking place. Wisdom's children justified God; but the self-righteous rejected the counsel of God against themselves. They behaved with the captiousness of children. John was too righteous, Jesus too gracious for them! In the next incident the devotion of the woman was in striking contrast to the calculating criticism of the Pharisee. (It is pure speculation to identify the woman with Mary Magdalene and most unlikely). The incident led to the unfolding of "grace abounding "in the creditor's treatment of the two debtors. Forgiveness of sins, salvation and peace were exhibited!
In Luke 8, the characteristic features of the Kingdom were continued. Devoted hearts were drawn to Christ, appreciating the power of deliverance. The parable of the sower evinces what and whom Christ was gathering. In the world there was no good seed. There had been no crop previously; the soil was variable and so also the results. The devil, the flesh and the world were adverse! The responsibility of the manner of hearing was enforced. Moreover relationship was essentially spiritual and not natural. The storm on the lake showed that the disciples did not apprehend who He was. So to-day in adverse circumstances often accentuated by the enemy, especially re our Christian associations, do we exhibit more faith than they? The demon-possessed man illustrates mankind, as the sport of the mighty forces of evil. These were completely dissolved and departed to their proper place at the word of the Lord. The man (changed, clothed and sane) found his proper place too at the feet of Jesus, forthwith to be a willing slave according to the instructions of his new Master! Faith was evident in the woman with the issue of blood. She tasted that the Lord is good, even to the hem of His garment. The conduction of good was only through faith. He was insulated from the faithless, curious crowd! Jairus daughter was dispensationally the picture of Israel. She was past all hope, but that only enhanced the greatness of the miracle performed by the One Who is the resurrection and the life. So helpless, hopeless (yea! dead) Israel will not be delivered by Zionism, but by the coming of the Lord!
In Luke 9, the Lord sent out the twelve disciples, arranged their circumstances, invested them with power over the devil, instructed them as to their attitude to their surroundings as preachers of the Kingdom. These epoch-making events perturbed the usurper, Herod, as he feared it was the Baptist who had risen again. what must be the inmost thoughts of a despot whose conscience is stained with the blood of myriads of innocent people? But Herod wished to see and identify the miracle worker! The apostles returning from their successful mission were drawn aside into the desert. It is not good to have continuous publicity! But the Lord's ministry and grace continued. The multitude needed bread, the disciples were at a loss. The lad with five rolls and two fishes was the only one of the crowd who had a day's provision for himself! But in the hands of the Lord administered through the disciples, there was abundance for all. The residue of twelve hand baskets was adequate testimony (dispensationally) of the overflowing grace and blessing in the Millenium after the Church period has been completely filled. In our immediate connection Christian affairs may be at a low ebb; but we need not despair because there will not be any shortage of resource in our time! Thus there is no excuse for half-heartedness Peter's confession of the Christ of God led to the unfolding that no longer the Messiah but the Heavenly Christ would occupy attention, and that called for patience and discipleship. But they were to expect the coming glory of which the Transfiguration was a picture and of which there were Three chosen witnesses. The giver of and the recaller to the Law were also present in glory. They conversed of the accomplishment of righteousness, on account of which grace would reign. But the greatest men of the Old Testament could not share the place of honour with Christ. Coming down from the mount they were met by a crowd, Satan's handiwork and the disciples' unbelief and powerlessness. The result was that another only child was healed. The devil holds men captive here, but on high all is in accord with the will of God! Then the disciples disputing about their relative positions in the coming Kingdom, called forth the Lord's rebuke and a little child served as an object lesson. That "the least should be great" is a contrast to what obtains in the world; then the Lord set His face to go to Jerusalem and the fleshly zeal of the disciples was rebuked as incongruent with the spirit of Christ. Forwardness, backwardness and lukewarmness of would-be disciples concluded the chapter.
In Luke 10, the sending out of "the seventy" begins the new section of the gospel. The same gracious features were evinced as with "the twelve." But the centre of reference had been shifted to the glory! Their power in subjecting the demons through the Lord's name was a minor incident, compared with the value of their names being written in heaven, forming a burgess roll beyond the reach of the eroding influences of time; that is subsequent to Satan's lightning eclipse from the heavenly sphere. The comparative judgments of the cities (Luke 10:12-16) have an eternal bearing. The transcendent prayer puts emphasis on the exclusion of the wise Pharisees and the revelation to faith's babes, i.e., all in accordance with the Father's will. (It has been said that the mission of "the twelve" illustrates the Gospel of the Grace of God, while the mission of "the seventy" connects with the Gospel of the Glory of God). The lawyer wanted to inherit eternal life by doing. He was an apt reciter of the Law, but evaded the implication of neighbourship. "This do and thou shalt live" does not imply participation in eternal life; but simply continuing to live here. Then follows the incident of the Good Samaritan, who did not quibble about who was his neighbour, but acted in grace. The Law on both spiritual and material sides could only pass by the distressed man! The lawyer found the pill difficult to swallow, but had to admit that the neighbour was the dispenser of mercy. The conclusion of Luke 10. presents Mary sitting at the Lord's feet hearing His word (the good part which cannot be taken away)! She appreciated His preciousness. Martha's service would have been quite right at another time, but she was missing the needful thing!
In Luke 11, at their request the Lord taught His disciples a prayer. The old petitions were inept. The prayer was fitting for the revelation extant, but was not descriptive of what would be revealed later. It appertained entirely to earth and secular relations, nevertheless the prayer is comprehensive. Daily bread, forgiveness of sins, and deliverance from trial are sought. Then emphasis is put on perseverance and brevity in prayer ("ask, seek, knock"). The gift of the Spirit was contingent on asking by the people connected with an earthly calling! Then the Lord casting out the demon was attributed to His being an agent of the devil! There was rich irony in His words "by whom do your sons (or disciples) cast them out?" It was ridiculous to contend that the devil would destroy his own work. But only the finger of God was required to evict demons! Thus the Kingdom of God in His person was among them. Moreover, there was no neutrality in that war. The unclean spirit had left the Jews since their return from Babylon, but the rejection of Christ would lead to a worse state than at first! The ritualist would bless the Lord's mother, but greater blessing attached to hearing and keeping the Word of God. The Lord then proceeded to brand the generation as apostate. The sign of Jonas indicated the repentance of the hearers as well as judgment proclaimed and the Queen of the South believed the word without miracle. But the Lord's contemporaries had not been attracted as the latter had been to Solomon nor had they listened as the Ninevites had to Jonas. Yet He was greater than both! As to the light, it is intended to be displayed. The nation had boasted of illuminating those around who had been sitting in darkness. But in reality their eye had been astigmatic and had twisted the rays of light so that the boasted knowledge transmitted and reflected had been "darkness." An eye of "transparent honesty "was needed to fill the body with the true sense of the Glory of God. A Pharisee seeking advertisement entertained the Lord. Their external punctiliousness and internal evil were condemned. They had taken away "the key of knowledge" (spiritual meaning of the Scriptures) by their tradition.
In Luke 12, the Lord warned His hearers against formalism and the world's hostility (even in its best estate). Then God's care received emphasis especially as to its minute details. If such great provision for small creatures what care may be expected for man! The transcendent ministry seemed to be missed by a bystander who was worried about share of an inheritance. A man's life (zoe, what he is) is not to be confused with his living (bios, what he has). Then the rich man provided for the future of his body and failed to take account for his soul! He was certainly a fool. Then the disciples were instructed that they could safely trust every secular issue to the administration of God. Therefore they needed not to be racked with anxiety!
In the second section of Luke 12, the true servant is watching, waiting, working; that the Lord on His return should gird Himself and serve them is contrary to secular practice. Love serves, selfishness desires service. The faithful steward administers well, giving meat in due season and is commended. On the other hand, the selfish servant may abuse his position, but he will be held responsible. Christendom will receive greater punishment than the heathen! Symbolically there are indicated, in Luke 12:32 the remnant, 47 Christendom, 48 the heathen, 59 Judaism. The Lord's first coming did not bring peace but discord. Christianity would not be popular in the world which rejected Him. Households would be disrupted; having ability to read the signs of the physical universe and unable to judge moral right was hypocrisy, they would be punished in consequence.
In Luke 13, the great principles of God's government in the world, justice and mercy, are adduced. The Galileans slain by Pilate were no worse than the-others who were all responsible to repent while mercy was still available. God's long-suffering is indicated in His patience with the unfruitful fig tree (Israel). The tree was cut down, not rooted up, Israel will spring again! The chronic crooked woman (yet daughter of Abraham) was made straight; she glorifed God. The indignant ruler upheld tradition, he was scathingly condemned as a hypocrite. Temporal interests vitiated all fine profession. The rapid and widespread growth of profession (Christendom) is illustrated by the parable of the mustard seed. The fowls (forces of evil) lodge in the branches. The permeability and limited sphere of operation of the leaven are shown in the next parable. The question of the number of the remnant sought by the curious was ignored. Many will seek to enter, but at the wrong gate of human effort. The individual should see that he is right. The real gate is narrow, because it will not admit pretension. The solemnity of the closed door was then enforced! The Lord disregarded expediency. He owned only the will of God which determined his demise at Jerusalem, the headquarters of all the prophetic murders. The chapter concludes with the Lord's tender solicitude for Jerusalem and its unhappy prospect.
In Luke 14, he took a meal with a Pharisee (never with a Sadducee). In healing the dropsical man, mercy was before ceremony. His advice in the parable to the guests was contrary to the current practice. His advice to the host was equally at variance with the practice, then or now. The pious ejaculation of a guest led to this parable, testing the hearts of man. But a deeper lesson was enforced in the Great Supper parable, type of God's boundless grace in Christ. God's disposition was evinced in that he "bade many." The invited pleaded harmless necessity of temporal interests to evade the invitation (i.e., the attitude of the Jew dispensationally). But the angry host was not to be frustrated. He commanded to bring in the outcasts of the city and its surroundings (i.e., the Gentiles dispensationally). Grace does not exclude. The sinner's own course shuts him out from blessing! Note the growing insistency, "bade" "bring" and "compel"! Salvation, satisfaction and endless joy are implied. (The end of the supper is the celebration of righteousness in the day of display). Outside the Pharisee's house, the Lord showed the spirit of true discipleship, self-renunciation and sacrifice. Then prudent people count the cost either of building or war. Salt is grace in spiritual power. Failure to maintain discipleship was analogous to salt losing its savour. (The salt would be ammonium carbonate from which the ammonia, the great principle in manures, had evaporated, and the residue was useless). Dispensationally the leaders of Israel were useless.
In the three-fold parable of Luke 15, the Lord gives the full display of God's love to the publican and sinners as they drew near. They were the fruit of the preceding chapter, typified by the younger son. In His infinite grace He received sinners! How fitting it was that the shepherd, the woman, and the Father should rejoice while the critical Pharisees murmured, (typified by the elder son). The wayward sheep illustrated the course of this world; the insensible coin, the dead sinner; the younger son, the child of disobedience (Eph. 2:2). All set forth features in sinnership. The son's pre-conceived ideas and speech are all eclipsed in the unexpected wealth of unconditional forgiveness. "They began to be merry" indicates consonance with the endless joy of the Father's heart. The elder son had only done his duty, yet his heart was far off, as evinced in "my friends" and "thy son." The oracles and promises were still viewed as pertaining to Israel (15:31).
In Luke 16, the idea is continued in the parable of the unjust steward spoken to the disciples, in which God was discharging the Jew as an unsatisfactory steward. The Lord enforced the satisfactory use of material things with the everlasting future in view. None can serve two masters : (a) God and (b) material things. Character is evinced by conduct. Our own interests are eternal. The present things of which we are life-holders belong to God. Then followed perhaps the most solemn incident in Scripture, it is not a parable although resembling one. That is indicated by "there was." The nameless rich man was primarily the Jew, but essentially the careless voluptuary of every generation! The beggar, the perfect antithesis of his name, Lazarus (O.T. Eleazar=God helps) in the depths of his misery, probably did not get the crumbs he desired. According to the common-lot, they both died; but death was not the end. Abraham's bosom (the Jewish thought of bliss) was the future portion of the beggar, while Hell (where his previous wealth was valueless) was the portion of the erstwhile plutocrat. In Hell, the smallest mercy was not available and the impassable gulf was fixed. But his selfishness had vanished !He thought of his five brethren. He had no use for God's word or messengers previously, but thought that the resurrected would obtain a hearing. The sequel is shown that the time-seeker pays no attention to the word of the One who rose from the dead!
In Luke 17, God's grace is contrasted with self-righteousness. Forgiveness was enjoined. The disciples thought that the injunction was too hard to believe! All ten lepers were healed, but only the Samaritan recognised God's glory therein. The chapter introduces the new section of the gospel in the manifestation of the kingdom in power (meanwhile it does not come by observation or evidence to the eye). The kingdom was among them in His own person. People who wanted ocular evidence would be chasing an ignis fatuus or "will o' the wisp", looking here or there. The days of the Son of Man entailed responsibility now. The Lord cited instances from the O.T. of judgment after warnings had been ignored. Similar will come on this world with lightning speed which cannot be detected by the eye. In the O.T. for example the careless world went on regardless of judgment to come but that did not avert the blow which fell, when God intervened in judgment. So it would be logical to expect that God's final intervention will be of similar character. His judgment will discriminate! One will be taken for execution, and the other left for earthly blessing. Divine judgment will be inexorable and inescapable. Safety for the disciples will be found in dissociation from the world and its things going on to judgment. All must be given up which man values. "Remember Lot's wife" who was loth to give up Sodom. These matters relate to the Lord's coming with His saints to put the world right!
Luke 18 opens with the resource of the righteous in prayer. The widow, type of the remnant, had no redress from the oppressor, until the judge became tired of her importunity. If expediency should result in relief, then we can depend upon God, the righteous judge, effecting deliverance. Moreover, He is long-suffering and the delay results in blessing for others. The humility of the publican was acceptable rather than the self-satisfaction of the Pharisee who paraded his virtues. Then children were ignored under the Law, but childlike obedience, simplicity and faith are essential to the Kingdom. The ruler sought to ingratiate himself with the Lord but he ignored sin and the need of grace. Even such excellence in man only ensured continuance of life here, but gave no title to eternal life. His riches were the stumbling block for complete fulfilment of the Law and had no relation to the results of grace. A complete revolution was taking place. Under the Law riches formed a token of God's approval, but they had no place in the new Kingdom. That provoked the question: "who then can be saved?" The solution rests with God! Peter wanted credit for their faithfulness. True discipleship would be recompensed in the present time; while everlasting life would ensue. Then the Lord showed that His pathway would lead to death, but he was misunderstood. At Jericho, he was accosted by a blind man in the place where Zedekiah, the last king of Judah, had lost his eyesight. But the blind man there would prove to avail himself of the last opportunity for blessing which was according to his faith. The result was glorifying God by the man and the people.
Luke 19 opens with the last public testimony of grace mentioned and it is peculiar to Luke's gospel. The Lord entered Jericho for the last time. Zaccheus overcame difficulties to see the Lord, who also saw Zaccheus and invited Himself to be a guest. (The only instance of the kind). The crowd murmured; Zaccheus vindicated himself; the Lord ignored both; saying, "this day is salvation come to this house, etc." That was of infinitely greater moment than any matter for time. The "pounds" parable emphasises opportunity, as the "talents" parable of Matt. 25 ability. The reward of satisfactory occupancy is increased sphere of service. The idler (primarily the Pharisee) sought to besmirch the nobleman's reputation in the description as harsh oppressor. On that conclusion, he should not have obstructed progress by failing to pass on the pound to another who might have used it satisfactorily. Then follows the description (fourfold in the Gospels) of the Lord's entry into Jerusalem as Messiah. In the matter of the colt, there was no gainsaying the Lord's claims. The outburst of the disciples fulfilled the prophetic word in the Old Testament. The only alternative to that was the stones uttering praise. The creation groans towards that end! The Lord knew how unreliable was the popular acclamation and wept over the city's fate and its subsequent destruction owing to failure to appreciate the opportunity presented in His coming. Meanwhile He asserted His authority in suppressing the base use of the temple which was essentially the House of Prayer and it had become on the pretext of convenience really a nest of unrighteousness. The leaders sought to kill the Lord, but were undecided because the people hung on His words!
Luke 20 goes on with the incidents arising during the four days of His teaching in the temple. The rulers demanded His certificate of authority. They were put in a dilemma by the question about John's baptism, thus they evaded the answer. To the people the Lord propounded the vineyard parable. The Pharisees were face to face with their secret thoughts and seeing its implication exclaimed "God forbid." The rejected stone, becoming the copestone of the pyramid Godward, would also have a manward aspect! The one who repented and fell thereon would be blessed in being broken, but the opponent would be ground to powder under it in God's unswerving judgment. Still the chief priests could not pluck up courage to seize Him and they employed secret agents (hypocrites) that they might have plausible excuse to put Him under Roman condemnation. So they subtly desired the Lord's mind on paying tribute to Caesar. If the coinage belonged to Caesar, it was right that he should receive it, nevertheless God's claims over the people should also be recognised. The hecklers were silenced. Then the Sadducees received their only notice in Luke, in the question of marriage and resurrection. (They were not greatly concerned about doctrine of any kind, they corresponded to the modern rationalist). Their question was hypothetical and most unlikely. Their theory was demolished as they were ignorant of Scripture and the nature of resurrection. Marriage appertains only to this life, but death is not the end. God is the God of the living! Then the Lord put an insoluble problem to the Jew as to how Christ could be David's son and Lord (Adonai in Ps.). The chapter closes with the solemn denunciation of the self-interest of the scribes.
Luke 21 presents the contrast to the scribe in the poor widow contributing all she had to the treasure. The Lord's companions marvelled at the embellishment of the temple which called forth the solemn prophecy of its destruction, but they were not to be occupied with rumours. They would be persecuted but they would receive eloquence and words for adequate testimony. Then followed the prediction of the Roman invasion and the sad fate of the city. From that period on to the fulfilment of the times of the Gentiles, Jerusalem would be crushed under the oppressor, but the ruling powers and their nations would come under great distress. When the climax of trial would be reached, the Son of Man would intervene with great power and glory. The people of God were not to be cast down, they were to look up for the redemption which would be near. The fig tree parable illustrates the point. In Luke 5:32, the generation has the moral character of the remnant which will persist. (Moreover, the Jews continue and other nations vanish.) The parenthesis of grace is bridged over. They were to be watchful and not abusing the mercies supplied. (By day He taught in the temple, but at night He was on Mount Olivet.)
Luke 22 begins with Satan possessing the traitor who doubtless thought that the silver would be easily earned and his Master would soon use His power in getting free. But what must have been his thoughts as he still continued in the company? His covetousness was his ruin! In spite of the rulers' ban, the man with the pitcher of water provided the guest room without demur. Luke's narration differs from the others in distinguishing the passover cup from that of the Lord's Supper, the cup of the New Covenant. The reference to the traitor, the strife about position in the kingdom and Peter's boastful confidence follow. They had had direction for every contingency but they would now be left without their protector. Their stolid literalism misunderstood His reference to the sword! The Lord's agony in Gethsemane proclaims the climax of His obedience. While He was reproving the disciples, Judas and his motley crowd appeared and the sword was used, but grace healed the wound. He told the rulers he had not sought to evade them! (No reference to prophecy occurs at this point). There were three arraignments. The first was informal in the High Priest's house, where Peter's threefold denial occurred. The second trial took place at daybreak in the council chamber where the Lord proclaimed His deity.
Luke 23 opens with the third trial before Pilate who sought to evade his responsibility. Before Herod, the Lord would not recognise the usurper and He was silent. (The enemies were reconciled). On His return to Pilate, Barabbas was chosen. The vacillating timeserving governor yielded to the popular clamour! On the way to Golgotha, the Cyrenian was impressed to share the burden of the cross. The Lord advised the weeping sympathisers to retain their feelings for their own sad lot. Man rejected the true life in the green tree, but God will reject the dry tree. In Luke, the Man of Sorrows shows grace on the cross in three recorded statements:- (1) "Father forgive them for they know not what they do." (2) "Today shalt thou be with me in Paradise," (to the thief). (3) "Father into Thy hands I commend My spirit." The rough centurion gave glory to God. If Satan had his agents there God had His too! The secret disciple, a man of quality, who only could have had access to Pilate boldly claimed the Lord's body, which was buried in the rich man's tomb, according to prophetic utterance. (Isa. 53:9).
Luke 24 shows the faithful band of women who had rested obediently during the Sabbath, early astir on the first of the week at the sepulchre. They were too late to render the customary service, because the Lord was risen, the stone was rolled away and the angelic testimony stated that it was useless to seek the living among the dead and that everything had been foretold by the Lord while in Galilee. Then the thrilling episode on the way to Emmaus is recorded. Evidently the testimony of the women had been treated largely as an hallucination, because the couple were on their way home with their backs to the company of disciples on the greatest day that had ever dawned in human history. A man had risen from the dead, on the merits of His work and Person! Their conversation had been gloomy and the stranger alluded to that fact as an introduction. He was indeed a stranger in Jerusalem! To them apparently He had been no more than a prophet. They had trusted that He would have redeemed Israel, etc. How they must have been thrilled as He challenged their dull apprehension and as He demonstrated from the Scriptures that Christ could only enter the Glory through sufferings! He would not press His company further but they could not let Him go, and He accepted their hospitality, but suddenly took the place of the host. Immediately He was recognised in the act of blessing and He vanished. The result of His burning words was burning hearts, and the long rough dark road was as nothing to them. They speedily retraced their steps to their own company and no sooner had they added their testimony, when the Lord appeared in their midst with His customary salutation, "Peace unto you." He invited them to handle Him to assure themselves that He was a real man. He confirmed that by eating before them. Then He referred to the fulfilment of the testimony to Himself of the three main parts (Pentateuchs) of the Old Testament. He opened their understanding to comprehend the Scriptures. Then He told them that repentance and remission of sins, the great elements of the preaching, to be instituted at Jerusalem, would spread all over the world. They were witnesses of His death and resurrection. But for the execution of the commission they required to be endowed with power from on High! Then He led them out to Bethany and while in the act of priestly blessing He was carried into heaven where He has continued ever since in the same attitude. Thus the book which commenced with great ebullition of joy ends on the same note. (Galashiels, 1940-1).