J. N. Darby.

<45011E> 258 {file section b.}

(Notes and Comments Vol. 5.)

Mark 6

We have then the view discussed of the effect of near relationship of mercy on the human heart. We have seen that, viewing after the flesh, it esteems itself, as in the poor ruler, though faithful, and moreover despises what is like itself; why should it be so much more than itself? They may not and cannot deny the wonderful things the Prophet may do, but they do not like the superiority. This was the secret of the position of the Jewish nation, "he knew that for envy they had delivered him." He was the carpenter, the Son of Mary. Why should He be thus distinguished? This was the history then of the unbelief of His country. The Scripture saith, not in vain, the spirit that dwells in us lusteth to envy. He wondered at their unbelief, but "a prophet is not without honour, save in his own country, and among his own kin, and in his own house." So He found it among His own to whom He came - "They received him not." But His mercy, though astonished and driven back as regards them, only was so to flow forth, thus pent up, on a wider sphere. Still, as we have seen all through this Gospel, with this great object in view, He went teaching, nor was He hindered in His mercy towards the Jews, even in His own country, who were glad to find, and who felt the need of His mercy and power. He healed a few sick folk, not leaving Himself anywhere without witness. Here this scene of ministry ended.

259  - 6. There is nothing more striking than the power of habitual circumstances in rendering null in effect, and so causing unbelief as to the operation of all moral evidence whatever.

- 7. "He gave to them." It ought not to be forgotten this has an authority quite peculiar, and standing on ground above even working miracles, in nature and evidence. The Apostles had it subordinately and partially, and seem thereby to have been distinguished from the most abundant gifts, but they had it as a gift in miracles. Our Lord told them they should do greater things than Himself, but in this they were wholly dependent and subordinate. The Lord gave, they laid their hands on, and the Spirit divided to every man severally as He would. That this was specially apostolic I have no doubt from the twelve at Ephesus who are introduced, I doubt not, as evidence of Paul's being fully an Apostle. Indeed, miracles only minister as evidence to the glory of this authority.

How blessedly, on this rejection of the "Prophet in His own country," does the Lord rise in the widening, and paramount, and therefore patient love still pursuing its purpose, of His glorious Person, and so more glorious character! Yet what could be more glorious than His service, the love of His service - but at least in the manifestation of the Person of Him who served? No wrong nor injury stayed His love. It might be the occasion of overflowing - for the source was inexhaustible - the banks which thus kept or pent it in. "And he calls the twelve to him; and he began to send them out two and two, and gave them power over the unclean spirits." This was much more than a prophet. Who could give authority over unclean spirits, not merely cast them out, though that itself was the Lord's specially hitherto, a new work of deliverance as He did it, but gave others this authority, commands them to take no supply? Yet they lacked nothing. Sends them to remain wherever they were received, for they came with a blessing, and if not, to shake the dust off their feet, for they came with the paramount authority of the Lord, and in His name. It was mercy in the Lord to make this distinction in the present state of the Jewish people (and, we may add, the world). He was claiming now for His own coming in blessing, and warning of the consequences of rejecting the messengers of Him who now showed Himself, in this, the Lord Himself, as they would not receive Him as their Servant and Prophet, after all He had done. If they would not receive Him, as little for their own interest, He must show Himself great to accomplish the purpose of His own love - if rejected, at least the solemn testimony is given against them, but, if so, for others, and in just maintenance of the glory and dignity of His Person.

260 Such was the ministry, the authoritative ministry now sent forth. If the world, or His own people rejected Him, He must act more in the power of His own character; He is thrown back, as it were, upon Himself. But the testimony was in principle still the same, and treated, with this greater evidence, the people all as lost, in a state of ruin. Going forth, thus sent, they preached - this was their business. Though Christ's authority in sending them was shown in His power over all the power of evil which, as the Lord come amongst them, He could give, and His control of providence, in taking care of all that they might want, they preached the same sore-needed errand, that they should repent. The evidence followed, confirming the word, casting out devils, anointing and healing many sick. But, though despised at home, yet His fame went much abroad withal.

But there was another secret brought out by this which altered the case of the Jewish people in position and principle. Herod the king - not of Jerusalem perhaps, but it mattered not as to this - had heard the testimony of John, had recognised his truth and righteousness, had feared even when offended and when he had been seized, because all men took him for a prophet; but, at the instance of his lusts and pleasures, and to save his character with his attendants, he had sacrificed John to those lusts, or to that of others who by them had power over him. This was a gloomy, dark blot in their history - a dark passage (of the same spirit) in this preparer of the Lord's way, and the Lord notices it, and takes it up here as such. The roaring lion had tasted blood, as it were, had found his way to this first victim by the passions of this unhappy people; it would not be long before they satiated it in their Lord's, "Likewise also shall the Son of man suffer of them." It was time to take His own place and character (among this dead people - and He took it in death) and this in grace, blessed grace, but in true and holy, humble glory, never leaving His humiliation, He begins to do. There is a perfection, a divine perfection in the Lord's ministry, and yet divine in Man, which there is nothing at all to be compared to, which has its own divine character, and yet in humiliation - "He thought it not robbery to be equal with God, but emptied himself," Scripture alone can express it, the divine word to man - and is example, and nothing else, which may communicate but derives nothing, but shows itself for all to learn and none to reach, because it is set, and sets itself, as an example, stands forth to be learned and followed, produces itself, and therefore has the stamp of the hidden yet manifested God in it - the more humbled, the more exalted in everything and all that He was, I AM, and yet a Servant of all, and yet serving only so as divine power and divine grace could - who could walk in life through the midst of the evil.

261  - 20. "Herod feared John." What power is there in that word, for it was from his communion with God that that fear came! A man that has communion with God is, though in perfect grace, a fearful thing. And yet what power it has on the conscience, "He heard him gladly." Such was the state of this poor unhappy people - want of simple faith had plunged them in thick darkness. Divine light was to their eyes but the glare (and that of judgment) that dazzled them, or the self judgment of an evil conscience.

- 22, 23. Wine, pleasure, and the pride of circumstances make conscience and the wisdom of the king as folly for the devil to serve himself of.

262  - 24. The bitter, lasting hatred of a guilty woman living in sin and guilt.

- 27, 28. Such was the story of Israel's king, as they had him (now) and Israel's more than Prophet (for "It could not be," etc.) as they had been so were they - the terrible note of preparation, as I said, for what was to follow. Such was his end, and then the scene of this blessed man closed - if in sorrow, through Israel's sorrow, yet glorious as the Lord's faithful and bold witness in righteousness - and now his joy fulfilled hearing "the Bridegroom's voice." He must give willing, though it be in sorrow and compulsion by Israel's sin (and so Christ willing) place as to his heart to One who was greater than he, whose righteous exaltation he delighted in. He was a blessed character, "Among them that are born of women there hath not arisen a greater"; but one wondrous, and humbling, subduing thought, if we look at anything but the blessing and place - we made greater than he! How came the blessed minister and prophet to leave the wilderness? We find that he was in kings courts.

- 29. Besides its direct operation as a ministry ancillary to our Lord's, I cannot but feel that this was a sort of initiation of the blessed Apostles into the service whereunto they were called, while the Lord was with them in the world, keeping them in the Father's name. It is true the energy of the Spirit was poured out upon them, but this was not directly the support of their practical patience and faith; compare Luke


There is one thing strikes my mind more almost than the particular points in this Gospel - the rapid and marvellous succession of characteristic facts and circumstances, so as to present our Lord in the full display and tenor of His ministry in those detailed points which constitute the whole - its power and character. But here I rather desire to note the instruction than what I feel about it, reserving that more for the Lord.

- 31, et seq. The Lord had now to bind up the testimony and seal the law among His disciples, for He and the children which God had given Him (this may also apply to the Church) were for signs and for wonders to both the houses of Israel. They come to Jesus and tell Him all things, and, accordingly, He occupies Himself with them in tender consideration - "Come ye yourselves apart, into a desert place and rest a little." Now, Israel having given Him up, He can spend the gracious care, the leisure of His heart, in caring for His disciples, for they had, with the many coming and going, time "not so much as to eat." "And they went by ship to a desert place apart." But it was not that the people ceased to frequent the Lord, or that He ceased - He could not - to be gracious, but He now stood, as it were, at a distance from them, and dealt with them as at a distance, not as amongst and one of themselves. As He had come and been rejected, He went away - they had to seek Him now - He had sought them; they followed Him, and came to Him out of all the towns.

263  - 34. "And going forth" (i.e., I take it, public from His privacy where He had gone with His disciples). "When he went forth, he saw a great multitude," and where did His soul see them? They might have rejected Him in His humiliation for their sakes when He was getting the tongue of the learned, to speak a word in season, but it was only to rise into the gracious mercy of His own place.

"He had compassion for them, because they were as sheep not having a shepherd," and who was it that could have these compassionate thoughts of Israel? Who was afflicted in their affliction? Was His arm shortened, or His ear heavy? His glory might rise above His own, but never above another's, sorrow. These "coming and going," though still showing the Lord was the point of attraction, was not the people pressing on Him to hear the word of God. It was distraction, not service, and He left them to attend to His disciples. His service was now of a different kind, as we have seen, but though their foolishness might have changed this, He served still. When He saw them thus followed after Him there, He had compassion on the multitude - they had none to guide them - His heart was towards them, and flowed out, never restrained for good, it needed but a channel - and in one sense He made it through and, in spite of sin (not of unbelief) in His death. "He began to teach them many things." They now in some measure appeared before His soul, as "the poor of the flock," and He would feed them. Blessed Master! How lovely to have Thy character to rest on, to study, to feed on! Oh, may we feed richly on it, that when we meet Thee, it may be a known Jesus, and the sympathies of Thy Spirit may be with what Thy Spirit hath matured in our hearts - that when we see Thee as Thou art, all the inward depths and springs of Thy character may be known in the glory - the glory be their glory, and have its brightness and beauty from them as its source! For so it will, though the glory be fully and plainly displayed.

264 But thus was His heart, though differing in circumstances, explaining and teaching these poor shepherdless sheep, or those that were really as such - as we have seen all through this Gospel - teaching them "many things." But the disciples, previously full of all they had been doing, though justly communicating to Him as the source and spring of their mission, and authority, and responsibility, can now advise the Lord (verses 35, 36); they felt as men with human estimate and feelings. The Lord was occupied with the moral desolation of these poor people. He felt it too much to have it set aside, or, in one sense, think for Himself of the hour or the want of food. He was teaching them "many things," for His heart was full; He had "compassion on them." But they, with human prudence and feeling (foresight) coming to Him, propose His sending them away. It was late, a desert place, and they would buy themselves victuals which they would want. But if the Lord had kept them, in compassion teaching them, His glory would shine forth in further considerate blessing - the manifest glory in compassion of that Lord whom they, as a nation, had rejected and stigmatised. They had blasphemed the Holy Ghost. He could still work as Son of man among them, though the nation now could not be forgiven thus, at least those guilty ones, until as Son of man He was cut off, was lifted up - then they would know, His disciples indeed blessedly, but they fatally know it was He. Unhappy people! When they had completely resisted the Holy Ghost testifying of this, then other scenes of mercy would open, founded on the union of the Church with that blessed One in glory, and He would say, not for Himself but for them, to the rebellious nation in the person of Saul its agent: "Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me?" But now the Son of man, not yet lifted up, was dealing at least with some of the flock (His covenant was not yet broken with the people; Zechariah 11 seems to show that Israel were reckoned united by the Lord, in some sense, after Babylon - now gathered together, but in prophecy viewed apart till they find one head) and satisfying her poor with bread, though through their sin, their rejection of Him their Jehovah and their David, He could not take this His rest for ever, nor dwell there, though the place He had desired. Still He manifested Himself as the One who could do all this that nothing might be wanting to fulfil, and present to the soul all that could reveal and attract in Him, though He should take nothing, though He were He whose enemies should be clothed with shame, and upon Himself His crown flourish.

265  - 37. The Lord, in reply to their proposal to send them away because they had nothing to eat, proposes to the disciples that they should give them to eat. They were to be the ministers of His glory in the time of His glory, and they ought to have reckoned on this, and so acted on it now, for He was the same Lord and Jehovah that could do it, for all through here He acts and speaks in the character of this glory, though hidden - acts in it in proving facts for the multitude, and expects the understanding of it from the disciples, to whom it was given to know the mysteries of the Kingdom of God. But He must prove it to them too. Still He here uses them as the ministers of His glory in the arranging, ordering, and distributing that in which He displays it. Himself thus acting, in principle, in His glory, He gave to the disciples, and they glorified Him before the multitude.

- 42. "And they did all eat, and were filled," and there was abundance over - the evidence of the ample satisfying of the whole company. The whole scene is a little picture of authoritative and instrumental order and blessing, actual blessing.

- 45. Having thus shown His future royal and real Jehovah glory, and called the disciples into action, He shows the circumstances in which they would be left; and as before, when the seed sowing was spoken of, and the secret operation of the word, and other things shown "as if a man slept," the Lord was presented as sleeping, indifferent and inattentive in Providence to the difficulties from without - the storms which would seem to sink the whole concern - so here, when the disciples had been sent forth (not merely the word sown by Him, and left to grow) and in activity, then His absence, and occupation while absent, and return to them, is proposed to us. Accordingly He sends them off, compelled them to get into the ship - ever the picture of their being thus isolated, and cast on the world as confusion but sustained there; so with Jesus Himself, for we have the ship often in this Gospel - they were to go before Him to the other side. He having long "taught many things," and now shown the sign of His glory to the multitude, dismisses them - this is Christ's act. They, the disciples, were to do His bidding, and go by ship across the sea. He does send them away, so was the Jewish nation dismissed, Christ having done everything possible in compassion, and Christ takes His intercessional office on high. And, when it was late, "the ship was in the midst of the sea, and he alone on the land," so is He that land of rest, and yet was His eye not off them. He sees them tormented with rowing, "for the wind was contrary," exceeding difficult to make head against and carry on the ship, and, "about the fourth watch of the night," for thus all night He had let them toil on their way, as to themselves alone, but thus late, and towards morning indeed, "He comes to them, walking on the sea, and would have passed by them." So do saints, thus troubled, lose their sense of Jesus, that they are ignorant, stupefied and affrighted at His return. But, seeing it is so, Jesus reveals Himself, tells them to take courage for it is Himself so known to them by previous intercourse. And He went into the ship, and all was calm. This has a more particular application to the Jewish Remnant, I doubt not, whom He will rejoin as they were first sent forth, but, in its general truth, the whole Church comes in. They were astonished at His presence, and that His presence produced the calm, for they had not understood that witness of His royalty and Jehovah power which they had seen in the waves just before, for their heart was stupefied. Alas! how much is it so! But with Him they passed over, and came ashore in the land of Gennesaret, that world outside Jordan, where Jesus had made the delivered Legion, not allowing Him to depart and be with Him, go and tell how great things God had done for him. Jesus now returns here, and as, when it was question of the sowing of the word, He in apparent neglect had gone there and sent the man forth, not allowing him to return beyond this sea of Jordan with Him, so now He returns thither with His disciples, having displayed not the sowing but the royal Jewish divine glory. Having dismissed the nation, and having finished His intercession, rejoined the Remnant across the troubled waters which to Him, wind and all, are the same, He passes with sure and governing footsteps over them all, and, when He returned to them, the wind ceased. Thus His royal power was manifested with intermediate intercession, but they were dull to understand what He had done before, and all this divine, royal power was grace and blessing for every supply, paramount to trouble, and bringing sure and commanding rest.

267 Note, the intercession of Christ does not necessarily give peace to the Church while He is absent. The wind remains contrary, and they were toiling with rowing, though going and working according to the Lord's will. Nay, often doubtless being in the place the Lord sets us in, and labouring by virtue of His intercession, causes the opposition of the adversary, until He enters in His power, present power, into the ship and the adversary himself is silenced and bound; otherwise, it is toiling against a contrary wind. Opposition, troubles, and also confusion in the world, often trying to the saint, yet good for sifting the saints together, may be the effect of intercession. When the smoke of the incense arose up with prayers of saints out of the angel's hand, the angel took the censer, etc., and there were voices and thunderings and lightnings, and an earthquake; and the seven angels prepared to sound, all for blessing, all to exercise and instruct, but not all for ease or pleasantness. I repeat, a contrary wind and Christ's intercession go together.

- 54. Upon His going forth to the shore again we find Him healing all. When the Lord went forth the former time, He only left a testimony in the midst of them of His saving power, and committed the testimony to his hand, but now there is universal healing, even by the hem of His garment. Thus this order of testimony closed that which was afforded to the nation of His connection with the Jewish people, its replacing by the Church, His connection with it, and His return to the disciples. But things were, as it were, done in parables.

Mark 7

Now the actual terms of the controversy, and the plain state of things in question between Him and the Jewish people is brought out. The Pharisees and some of the scribes coming from Jerusalem are gathered together, and the question of principles, as of two opposite parties, is brought out between them - a question turning on what is ever the hinge of the question between corrupt forms used as glory to the possessors, ordinances, and righteousness as of God, not sanctioned by their authority at the close of a dispensation - tradition and the Word of God. When I say "corrupt," their having been actually instituted of God does not alter the relative position of the question. "Washing of pots and cups, and many such things which they received to hold" - this is the Spirit's estimate, in the lightest way, of what it is all worth. But the Pharisees, for such systems are blind in this, and will always, having honoured themselves, rest on this honour, put it forward on its own ground: "Why do thy disciples not walk according to the tradition of the elders?" These things delivered to hold, such harmless things - and why offend, and not submit to reverence and authority in the persons of the elders? It is just self-will and self-exaltation. Such is man's judgment, because he honours himself - the Spirit, ever the authority of God and His Word, and that only, as authoritative direction: "Man lives by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God."

268 We here find man's religion the form of piety (rejecting the Word of God, its result) and man's heart - the outward and the inward. Then God, absolute grace to the most distant (by faith), Tyre, Sidon, Phoenicia (though come among Jews), and power in grace to open the ear to the Word, and give a tongue to praise, bless and recount received mercies and manifested power.

- 5. This verse is evidence that epeita (then) is used in the most ordinary sense, without reference to interval of time.

Note, in this chapter we have ecclesiastical hypocrisy, and natural wickedness - man's side; and then, God above hardness of heart (Tyre and Sidon) the devil's power, wickedness to a curse and spueing out. And where faith took the place, as such, owning this, God could not but be it, for He was it - and thus, when His people were deaf and dumb, sighing over them He makes them hear and speak. God is above evil. It is a perfect picture - take Gentile, absolute wickedness, or hardened nearness to God.

This chapter is very complete. First, obedience to God contrasted with observances of human will - tradition. Next, the human heart and its state - the real question, not what is external, but the testimony that out of it comes evil. Lastly, that even if in the ways and dispensations of God a limit was placed to those ways in God's dispensatory wisdom - it was the children's bread - yet that God's heart, who was Love, necessarily met the farthest from Him - could not deny itself (He is Love) when a want was presented by faith honestly taking its own place. Where man is in the truth as to himself, God must be in the truth of His love. He will open Israel's ears, and loose his tongue in due time, but He cannot deny Himself when a want appeals to what He is.

269  - 6, et seq. It is a most important principle on an anxious point, for the child of God driven, by the selfishness of an apostate system, to act on his own responsibility - for a child of God dreads selfwill above all things - and when this is pressed on him, if feeble in light and conscience hereon shrinks. Thus, therefore, the Lord puts it in all its apparently gracious force, and judges it. "Why do not thy disciples walk according to the tradition of the elders?" Then, first, they did not. Next, it was an indifferent thing washing their hands before they ate bread - a thing of excellent signification, for what more important than moral purity, or more agreed in as a representation of it? The simple answer was: it destroyed the integrity and importance of the commands of God. If I can add, and a person should do it, the completeness of God's revealed will is questioned, and mixing other things with it like obligation, nullifies the distinctive obligation on the soul of the will of God - the habit of reference, hearty single-eyed reference to the will of God, and taking that as a guide given in mercy, because we were in a labyrinth, to guide us through; add man's, and the whole recognition of the mercy of giving us a guide, because we were wandering in a wilderness where there was no way, is lost. The principle is clear, but the Lord has settled the point. The thing was a thing indifferent - of excellent signification, and commanded by the elders. His disciples did it not - and here is His judgment on those who minded these directions: "In vain do they worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men." It rendered the worship of God vain, produced hypocrisy, for it exalted man in his approach to God, as if he could come with beautifully arranged things for God, instead of a convicted, humbled heart, and, where it was thus arranged, enabled the unconvinced unhumbled to come with the same appearance, expression, and worship, as he who was nullifying the distinctive power of the Spirit of God. And the worship was vain; it was man, petty man's self-exaltation, - even when it might have the form of piety, and it was vain - indeed, in this high worship, the heart was far away. The Lord had taught the neglect of it, and judged the use of it, and solemnly even in indifferent things.

270 Here was the first point: "They teach commandments of men" - their worship is vain. "As it is written" judges all this, and the Lord pronounces on it. His disciples know where to turn to. The next point the Lord takes up, for "No man can serve two masters," is that these things become substitutes for the commandments of God, for the natural man can do man's commandments, but he cannot do God's, and he can acquire more credit from man by the former than the latter. Here is the charge: "Leaving the commandment of God, ye hold the tradition of men." And what does it come to? Washing of pots and many such things! Now the Lord goes farther, not to make remarks on what they presented, but to show the real force and extent of their ways, and where the principle went and led. "And he said to them: Full well ye reject the commandment of God." Man never learns the commandment of God, thus pretending to be righteous, but, inasmuch as the perfection of guiding truth is in God's commandments - and it must be that therefore or wrong - when man adds as he may call it, he always opposes and makes void God's commandment. It places man always instead of God, and exalts man and not God; now the will of God directs the Spirit, and humbles the flesh, exposing it. The direction of man hides and glorifies the flesh, and these commandments therefore are found to militate in principle against God and His holiness. There is another reason now emerges. This has the character of religion. Now true religion puts a man into immediate relationship with God, detecting his whole state, taking quite out and putting him into the truth before God (to which the Gospel is the answer of grace) but false cannot hear this - it has no reality of relationship with God, and therefore it constitutes an intermediate priesthood which is the consummation of what is false, when the true light has shone. Then by the authority of nearness to God thus reposed in, which, they being priests and the others not, is taken for granted and cannot be entered into, they act in the dark, indulge themselves, and crave from others, or "He that departeth from evil maketh himself a prey." If I be asked: How then do you say of the Jewish priesthood which God Himself appointed? I answer: That is exactly the point. Then God did dwell in the thick darkness, the way into the holiest was not made manifest, the veil was upon God's presence, which is now rent and done away in Christ, and therefore on Christ's death they that come to God are entirely in a new position. They must meet Him in personal responsibility, and that met by the blood of sprinkling, in the shedding of which the veil was rent; so that grace and holiness necessarily go together. The flesh used this, not even for the terror of judgment against sin, but to use God as their instrument of influence, yea, cultivated sin that they might have sin-offerings. Such is its full effect, the real character of priesthood in man's hands. But the principle of all human righteousness leads to this, for it never brings into the presence of God, and the teachers of it flatter, and minister to this, and therefore you will ever find human righteousness, human will, and priesthood go together, as divine righteousness, the divine will, and a divine priesthood in Christ, and all believers in Him, respectively, go together. But here it is rested not on the priests but on the principles and the teachers, which is important for us to see - "Ye say," but it ministered to this. The Lord for conscience seizes on the evidence, the actual evidence of the effect of these principles; but "in vain do they worship me" applies to every form of it. Indeed the Lord ever does this, waits in patience till sin is filled up to judge, and takes hold on the plain manifestation of it to convict, but we are called on, by the knowledge He affords us of the fruits in conduct, to mortify and have done with every root and branch. In convicting others, we may state the principle on the Lord's authority, as in verse 7, and convict the offenders, if we are spiritual, by the plain effects and facts, and that on their own principles and showing, which is needed to convict though not to guide us.

271 Further, we may observe that the guidance of the principle is constant, the conviction, which is by the grosser facts, is occasional, or minds would be continually occupied with evil, and much defiled and infused, and the wicked and infidels can find that out. It is the sign of evil and ruin when the infidel becomes more righteous than the Church (professing); then judgment is near, i.e., when the place of nominal and assumed privilege is more corrupt than natural conscience, so that mere natural conscience can judge it. It cannot then be a witness really to the world, even by profession, and is good for nothing. Here, further, a reproach often made - infidelity and the truest religion, the Lord Himself, seem to, and in a certain sense do, coincide. For the Lord to vindicate His own name condemns what natural conscience condemns, but in the unconverted man in only haughty hatred. The Gentiles and the Lord concurred in pulling down Jerusalem, but they condemned, in careless indifference or dislike, the Lord too, and He wept over what He had to judge. Our part is as plainly as possible to deny the association of the Lord with it, walking in righteousness that it be not blasphemed through them, and to separate not from that only but from all evil, following Him who, when He puts forth His own sheep, goes before them; and we go bearing His reproach. We find from Jeremiah's case that we shall always be treated by those who would have Jerusalem and the abuses, as traitors to Jerusalem. Be it so - we know our Master's mind.

272 Further, the excuse of such things being only abuses is nothing to the point. They are the occasions of the conviction by the Lord of the falseness of their whole principle. They are the effects of adding anything to God's commandment, "teaching for doctrines the commandments of men." And the saint with understanding knows, and judges, and rejects the principle, "the tree is known by its fruits," and the Lord has described it here. It is a most deeply instructive, and comforting, though humbling and sorrowful chapter, because it directs and strengthens with the authority of God by His Spirit and word, just where the saint would be anxious and troubling lest selfwill should come in.

Thus the Lord continually deals in watchful, thoughtful grace with His poor but loved truth-seeking disciples, and strengthens their inner man against reproach and condemnation. They know their Master's mind, and are content, and do not wish or need to look beyond it, save in love. It is most exceedingly instructive. Where is the subtle light, avoiding division, of unscriptural and anti-scriptural, in the presence of this passage? What thorough wretched wickedness that is! Here we have the whole principle, from such a simple thing as washing the hands to the fullest result of priestly wickedness - the substitution of themselves for the plain, happy, blessed and honourable duties in which God, in loving-kindness and His supreme will, has placed us; for the devil indeed defiles everything he touches. Note when the Lord would reprove, He speaks within about the things which are evil; when He would separate and judge, from without as a Prophet. But when He speaks, there must be reformation or judgment.

273 But there is a further point, not yet noticed, not only: "Ye reject the commandment of God," but "making the word of God of none effect through your tradition." Not only was a particular, or any particular commandment set aside that they might keep their tradition, but they rendered null, and rejected, nullified the authority of the whole word of God by this. If I break one, I am guilty of all; but in setting up another authority, I displace and render void and null the whole word of God which claims all authority. If another can direct, I am not sole master, and the man is not my servant; and not only is the servant misled but the master is set aside. God's authority, and His revealed will as authority is entirely set aside by one who adds one tittle. If it be only to wash my hands, another can meddle and claim obedience - the word of God is not the sole authoritative rule. God may be patient, but it is entire apostasy from the whole mercy and will of God saving the soul, He in mercy having taken the pains to take it into His hand, and to guide us. So was Paul jealous as to Titus. God, therefore, is jealous of His word, for whenever we get out of it, we get into the darkness and bondage of Satan. It is the only light and guide we have - the fulness and truth of the light of creation being embodied in it in all its clearness as far as an evidence to the conscience and soul. "Many such things," adds the Lord, "ye do." This solution of God's will was found in and by many things as well as tradition. Man, be it under the form of godliness, desires it everywhere, and everywhere to be without God; and the enemy can provide religion for that, as well as anything else, provided it is for nature worship, for nature is just what Satan does provide for, that we may not feel the need of grace, and man then can be zealous for that against the truth, for it is something of his own - ours, not God. The Lord then goes straight to the thoughts and purity of the heart - the plain direction for the whole multitude. He answered the enquiries (and therein us) as to all the principles of judgment against their tradition - a special subject before. Yet the disciples could not understand this plain principle. And here we have the further evidence of the deadly evil of the system, that so entirely does it rest the mind upon what is external that so plain a principle as this is darkened to the mind, even of those who are sincere, and had been led as followers of Jesus with unfeigned intention. They had not sense enough to see that it was not what went into the belly, but what came out of the heart, that defiled a man. There was that which "purged all meats." What a reproof! But the great principle of all Christ's dealings and ministry, the great ground of plain moral righteousness making the real difference, was brought out; at least the great principle on which He rested His controversy with them, for grace they did not understand. And the Lord, by their own petty objection, came now to the direct question of righteousness, and showed how, in their selfish and self-sufficient traditions, they set even their own law aside. The Lord looked, when asked by His disciples, to the heart, and showed what came forth out of it. He had addressed the great principle to the multitude carefully, that all who had ears to hear might hear. The Pharisees had been convicted on the law as it stood, in which they boasted, while the Lord withal judged them Himself. He left them, and turned to Gentile quarters.

274 All tradition, though the tradition of the elders so designated by the word, and so even called by man, for it has authority with him, is called by the Lord "your tradition." Man's religion glorifies man; it is his. God says: "From within, out of the heart, proceed" - what a catalogue there is when God's religion begins! A man, such as he is, can wash his hands, and say "Corban," but it is a terrible thing to see so laid bare - quite another thing. First, it is "tradition of men," then "your tradition." A Mahomedan likes Mahomedan tradition; an Establishment person that of the Establishment; a Roman Catholic that of the Romanists; a Greek that of the Greeks; it is his own, and it has that value to him. Nothing is so dear to a man as the cover of his corruption, or so full of Satan's power as false religion. This is true even in the worst of apostasy, the chief priests and Pilate, the prophet and the beast. Next, if I add anything, God is imperfect in what He has given as a guide - actually, I ever substitute, in fact I must, for the guide is perfect for the man of God, and this is the subtlest substitute of the man of nature. But, if God has been imperfect in one tittle, I can reckon upon Him in none of the rest; but indeed, on the contrary, "in vain do they worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men." The word of God to man, as he is, becomes purely a detective, a pure detective as the light, whereas the traditions satisfy the natural cravings after religion by what the flesh can do, and therefore are the worst securer against, and barrier of light, besides making void the sole authority of God's word, and therefore all of it, as well as rejecting the actual commandment. It is the arranged religion of nature, and therefore the stronghold of Satan; compare verse 21, taking man as he is, the light entering into the heart, and He was the light. They break through Moses, worship in vain, make void the word of God - whereas God's commandment detects man as he is; so of all true religion.

275  - 6. We may observe here that, whereas our Lord with consummate wisdom throws upon the questioners the onus of any difficulty they sought to impose upon Him when it was merely captious, ever speaks with the most unqualified decision when any principle is involved.

- 22. Folly (aphrosune); so often in the Septuagint. "The fool hath said in his heart." He that is uninstructed, I suppose, and disregards both counsel and instruction. It borders therefore, as to both man and God, upon impiety, flowing from groundless independence of will, with no independence of understanding and knowledge. This in act or habit is, I suppose, folly, showing itself in recklessness of conduct - conduct inconsistent with the real relations and obligations under which we are. This as to God, it will be observed, is practical atheism. The Psalms and Proverbs are full of matter connected with this. It is sometimes put for the vile person - Nabal (a fool) but moros is used for that. It is intimately connected therefore with self-confidence and assumption; it may therefore have here moral connection with haughtiness (huperephania) and then we have great light upon Paul's use of it in 2 Corinthians 11. But it does not, nor ought to lose the weight of its simple sense, though this may lead us to the moral sources of it.

- 24, et seq. The Lord had left the Pharisees and their haunts, and came into the coasts of Tyre and Sidon - a country in fact allotted to Israel, but possessed by Gentiles, their enemies amongst the Gentiles. It was really Israel in title, but actually Gentiles, so that He had left what practically constituted Israel now. There He would have been alone, not out of the territory of Israel but away from Israel, standing in the counsel of God as to it, but separate from the state of man in it. But His patient, gracious power had too widely spread His name. "He could not be hid." A woman heard of Him. Thus grace to the Gentile shown by abounding grace to the Jew, while the Lord strictly kept Himself as sent to "the lost sheep of the house of Israel." But, if unbelief was sadly manifested in Israel, sorrow and Satan had their power over the Gentile also, and there the Lord's compassion had its way. The woman had a daughter who "had an unclean spirit, and coming she fell down at His feet. She was a Greek, a Syro-Phoenician by race," one entirely an outcast, a dog. The Lord's heart had not at all left Israel, in spite of all their evil and rejection. "Suffer the children to be first filled; for it is not right to take the children's bread and cast it to the dogs" - curs, vile dogs. But she said, "Yea, Lord," or "Nay, Lord; for even the dogs eat of the crumbs of the children, under the table." Most blessed answer! How true - how full of understanding of God's ways! How honouring to His glorious counsels in exalting whom He would, and counting them exalted whom God had in spite of all; though to her own dishonour! What persevering confidence in the character of God, and in Jesus as the minister and exhibition of it! Owning all the dispensations of God actually, yet seeing through them all to the depths of His character of love and grace within, and pleading with Jesus on it, and all through the sense of need. What an instructor, through grace! That is, God having opened His heart in Jesus, but this woman saw through rejection, for the Lord was to be sought here in Israel. How blessedly was He led! How by divine power was she led also! And as the Lord stood the witness of patient love, but in the secret of His own glory, so she brought by being humble and utterly self-abased to the deep and gladdening knowledge of divine dispensations - for God had children there He loved as such - and that yet deeper knowledge, that secret of divine love which gave her power, if one may so speak, over the springs of the heart of Jesus, because it was in the divine nature and perfectness of which He was the witness, and thus He was glorified in His wider and supreme glory. How blessedly, while in perfect obedience here as a Servant to these rebellious Israelites for the Father's sake, did the light break forth, the light of the glory of that Father break forth in Him! Yet what glory (by being utterly self-abased) to be in the position which should draw forth, and be the object on which all the best glory of the humbled Son of man, the Lord Jesus, should shine! This poor outcast woman vindicated His glory when rejected; so every poor, humbled sinner - such is his place, not in exalting himself, but in his humiliation he is the exalter of a rejected Jesus as the displayer (as the object) of His character and glory, otherwise that glory would be lost in His humiliation; but here it is displayed. It is a glorious place - yet the lowest of us of Him. And how do these extremes, the poor manifested sinner and (the drawing forth) the glory of God in its highest character, meet here! May we have real humiliation, even in taking our true place, and, herewith, clear understanding of the dispensations of God, and the glory of God in them in spite of the wickedness of man, while man in them only finds his own glory to prop up and maintain his wickedness, and secure him from the charge of ungodliness on his conscience!

277 The Lord's mercy necessarily flowed forth; had it not, it would have been a denial of Himself. This is the force of faith acting on what the Lord is, according to His mind and will. He is necessarily so manifested, or it would be the denial of Himself. "For this saying go thy way; the devil is gone out of thy daughter." She did actively believe His word, the answer of faith, and departed to her house, and found the devil gone out - further witness of power and mercy!

- 31. The Lord returned to this "Galilee of the Gentiles" - His habitual resort after the beginning till the end. "To the sea of Galilee." The Lord is now, in all these particular miracles, the Object of faith; He is sought. This man, I should apprehend, presents the Remnant of the Jewish people that - while a poor Greek, a Syro-Phoenician by nation (that evil and rejected race) could discern the glory of God's love, the position of His people, recognise it in grace in spite of their wickedness, through the glory of the Person of Jesus their Head, the Lord of glory bursting forth in glory on the Gentiles - when He returned to His own people and into their quarters, He finds them deaf and scarce stammering what none could understand. His eye turned to heaven - the resource of every sorrow - and where all glory was understood, the dwelling place of that which made sorrow understood, and He groaned. But if He did, looking to heaven, looked to mercy and lovingkindness, and the groan (for heaven itself produces a groan while we are here below) turned, from an eye that rested there, into deliverance, and "Be opened." Such was the course of His patient love! And when He spake, as heaven drew out His word, and all the evil and wretchedness of His people drew His heart to heaven, power produced relief, the hearing was opened, and the tongue of the poor example of the effects and power of evil spake plain and rightly. Such was the state of that poor Remnant! Deaf actually, and what remained of traditionary knowledge of God was the stammering of an unintelligible, untaught heart - the occasion of sorrow and groan, not the answer of any praise to their God. In all these cases, the Lord charges to be hid, though He refrained from no mercy and deliverance. He was now more hid with God, and not presenting Himself publicly, as before and after.

278 Mark 8

Notice how very perfectly the turning point of the world's rejection of Jesus, and His glory in another sphere is brought out here. The Jehovah satisfying the poor with bread, in the double character of full government and divine perfection of patience, warning the disciples against both parts of Judaism - its religious and its worldly character - the taking the blind man out of the town, and His entire separation from it as a testimony - first on the disciples seeing only obscurely - then the full doctrine of the Cross, the soul's value, and the coming glory consequent on death and resurrection, the flesh in Peter judged only in that, and savouring what is of men being Satan's power.

But although there might be evidence of the deaf and stammering tongue of the happiest in Israel, yet the actual public evidence of the interference of the Lord's power was plain, and blessed, and a seed was sown by the patient grace of the Lord which was to ripen into a future harvest, and the Lord repeats this testimony of His grace. He shall satisfy the poor with bread, in His compassion for the long want of the multitude, for after three days He will revive them. Already had they been so long waiting on Him, and had nothing to eat. The former was when He went forth to them; here He had already had them with Him, these poor of the flock, three days, and had compassion on them then because they were as sheep without a shepherd; here, because they had nothing to eat, and how could they be satisfied with bread from the wilderness? For indeed many had sought Him from far. Such is the character of these blessed heirs - they had come out from their homes to seek Him. He had compassion, but the disciples saw no means of providing. Unbelief never reckons on a past mercy, for a present mercy ends in the boon received to it and therefore is forgotten as to God in it who is the same for ever. Well might the Lord groan over the last of the Remnant as deaf, and their speech worse than none. Yet it stated the difficulty, and that is something for the Lord. Bread in the wilderness is the great point - an old occasion of God's display of Himself in Israel, yet more in the true Bread. In God's hands there is sufficiency and perfection in whatever circumstances, and yet something over, for His riches are unsearchable.

279 There is remarkable difference as to the typical import of this and the former similar miracle. There, the Lord goes forth and finds the multitude, having been previously hid - finds them on His first going forth, and has compassion on them because they were as sheep that had no shepherd; here, they had been three days waiting on Him, and had nothing to eat. Then He is apart from His disciples in the former, praying - they, on His rejoining them go forth to land, and He shows His abundant present power. Thereupon arose the question of tradition and righteousness between Him and the Jews, and, in the Syro-Phoenician, and the deaf and dumb, the great question of the relationship to Gentiles and the Remnant of Israel. Here we have not, as to this, this primary Jewish character, the result of His visit to them at the outset, but a detail of what was consequent on His stay amongst them. Not the first abundant display and more over than originally, but His patience towards this waiting Remnant, supplying enough. There, it was "when it was late" the disciples proposed dismissing them, and the Lord, through their hands feeds them, and leaves abundance in the hands of each of them. It was the picture of His day in Israel. "He taught them many things," and then the different position of Him and disciples took place; here, at the close, on the ground of their having nothing to eat, after the relative way of grace to Gentile and Jew was manifested, sovereign grace, He shows that still He does not despise the Remnant, but will feed them. How this seeking Remnant was to be fed in the wilderness or from it, the disciples knew not. It was no proposal now to send them away. It was not: "Give ye them to eat," but He told them to sit down, thus watching over them. There, the Lord was revealing His sustaining absence after full manifestation in power in which He could minister by others, saying: "Give ye them to eat"; here it was the full compassionate sufficiency of His presence. The former, therefore, would in some sort apply to the condition even of the Jews during this period, but here He goes with His disciples - His compassionate sufficiency, and, on dismissing the nation after satisfying this seeking Remnant, though multitude of the poor, going with the disciples - there is no toiling, or rowing, or fear, or difficulty. As we have seen, after the former, on the one side, tradition ministering to iniquity and clericalism met by the convicting moral righteousness of the Lord Jesus, and thus the nation's resting-place condemned. (His going forth then had led to the full blessing to the world, as on His return.)

280 Here, as with His disciples, the question of a sign is raised - a sign from heaven. Such they asked from Him, such men announced before the great and terrible day, which was now in the Lord's mind and understanding really lowering over their heads. They take now the active enmity of unbelief. But He had come in grace - ample evidence of it had been given; signs from heaven were, in God's mind, signs of judgment preceding that great and terrible day. Every sign of grace had been given on earth, where it had been wanted, and where mercy brought it and produced it, to show there was deliverance in grace. Well might the Lord groan at this generation seeking a sign, rejecting all He had done, and the evidence He had manifested in grace, and asking for what would be signs of judgment. Whatever individuals may be, the public actings constituted before the Lord's eye "this generation"; compare Deuteronomy 32. But God would not minister to their unbelief, though He afforded every ground of faith; He would not meet their evil will which would be satisfied only with their own glory, though He would amply display, notwithstanding their sin, the graciousness of His own sending forth even His Son. It was the solemn pronouncing of divine authority: "Verily I say unto you, no sign shall be given to this generation." The generation was judged. They thus requited the Lord. Their spot was not the spot of His children - "A perverse and crooked generation." The Lord that had pronounced His knowledge of them then, now, after the exercise of indefatigable and unwearied patience, pronounces it in Person, thus come humbled, if anything could turn their hearts. But they were "this generation." What weighty words! A sign, after He had not spared His Son which He yet had! How were they judged! Yet with a groan in spirit, for He came Himself in love, if anything could be done, was the force of this needful judgment thus solemnly pronounced. But how affecting, a judgment so pronounced! It was the righteous judgment of where Love searching, Love itself could find no hope. The solemn utterance of the righteous despair of Love! Why a sign of judgment, when all had failed to avert it? It was too, too hopeless and bad. He left them. It was all that was to be done, for He judged not: for "He came not to judge … but to save." But what a judgment it was! He went forth on to the sea again, and the hope of testimony closed on them. He left them. He has only to warn His disciples, with whom He was, against the righteousness and royalty of His own people - the two great things in which Messiah was to be manifested, the most calculated to have a snare, by their Jewish pretention, to His disciples. The Pharisees and Herodians we hear of tempting Him.

281 The Remnant, then, was now distinguished - His companions. And the Lord proceeds to warn them against the nominal position and righteousness of the nation, presented in contrast with Him the righteous One, and their Jewish king, such as he was.

Note, the Sadducees opposed the Apostles, Satan raising suitable instruments against the testimony of resurrection; the Pharisees and Herod against the righteous royalty of Christ, alive amongst them. He warns them against them.

It is not material here to show on what ground He was separating His disciples from all they (the Jews) had to boast of, and warns them against them in their principles. It was leaven - corrupt, fraudulent principles - the sour, corrupted dough, which would corrupt all. But was their state really one of intelligence? Far from it! The patient grace of the Lord had attracted them, and kept them, and they had the saving point of attachment to and love for Christ. But neither did they understand; natural things had power over their hearts. They could see that the Christ that they trusted was averse to the Pharisees, and that He distrusted Herod, but they went no further than what concerned the body, or any distrust as to their evil conduct connected with that. They had taken no bread, and they were to be afraid of the leaven of the Pharisees and Herod. (The Pharisees were the principle of Judaism morally, and therefore at Jerusalem. Herod, over Galilee, witnessed the extent of royalty.) But if they understood not the Lord who cared for them, He understood their hearts, and kept them. They rested on circumstances, not breaking through them to divine power in His Person, and therefore their faith in the miracle ended in each miracle, and was not, as by a supply of the Spirit, a fresh apprehension and planting in the soul of divine power which answered for all circumstances, and was the joy of hope in His glory. They did not understand, for indeed the manifestation of this power had put the Lord at utter variance with the Pharisees and Jewish power, and it was evident how their leaven hindered their apprehension, and others apprehending the glory of Christ's Person, asking a sign just after such special signs. The disciples were to be warned against this, for the glory which it hid was theirs. They did see something of Christ, so as to be attracted to and knit to Him, but their understanding was all dim to be identified with His place. Their hearts too were darkened; they too had eyes and did not see, ears and did not hear. They partook of the darkness that was around; so strong is the effect, even upon the sincere, when the glory of Christ has not full sway, and is not revealed in power over the flesh in what we are akin to; compare Paul's deliverance on the road to Damascus. They did not remember, for it had not been the communication of God to the soul, and therefore they could draw no other conclusions from His power by it. The Person of Jesus was not revealed to their souls by it, though they saw Messiah's power by it, and were attached to Him who was so. Therefore they were, and because they were hardened in heart, and that even as to the analogous circumstance of the supply of bread. If they had had bread, they might have had to feed five thousand, but they understood nothing of all this.

282 The Lord then in the case of the blind man illustrates the double process by which the Remnant of the Jews were delivered from their total natural blindness. It was a thing with which the village (the nation) had nothing to do. He took them by the hand, and led them out, took them when blind, and first leads them forth, for, though they could not see Him, He could lead them, and lead them safely, even the blind, by a way that they knew not. And He led them forth from the crowd, that there He might make them see apart from them. The first effect was indeed to give sight, but all confusion; so with the disciples from Jesus' action on them while on earth. He led them forth, acted on their eyes in a human manner, yet divine power was there, and they saw, but men were as trees walking. All was seen through a medium, which put men in a false position (you would have thought him alone with Jesus) but the man still or now saw the men, but they assumed an exaggerated importance in his mind connected with this very act of Jesus' power. And this will be the effect when the Holy Ghost is not in power - the very persons whom Christ withdraws us from, to have us for Himself, assume an extraordinary importance as connected with religion, when the conscience is awakened by the act of the Lord, but clear sight not acquired. So it was even with the disciples, because religious obligation has more power, and divine judgment is not acquired. But all this is confusion; but when His hand then touches the eyes, then they see all things clearly. The Lord had laid His hand on him before, so that virtue went out, but not on his eyes; when He did that then he saw clearly. The first was the Lord's intercourse with the disciples Himself, the latter, the power of the Holy Ghost - they judged all things. The same is in principle often true of any soul, but Saul is more strictly the pattern properly for that.

283 Though He still exercised the mercy, it was not the Lord's object now to be known by these miracles, for He was now severing and discriminating in a nation that had rejected Him, or rather itself. So afterwards, they should tell no man of Him. They confessing He was the Christ, morally as Son of God in all His grace they had rejected Him. He was not now to take reputation as Christ, when they were morally bad and rejecting the Lord, and had no taste for what was true in it.

- 27, et seq. The scene of ministry was now really closed among the people, and indeed commented on in what preceded, and He now takes up the ground He is upon with His disciples to explain His real position, and what was coming - the deeper truths which belong to them as separated. The language of the Lord was remarkable. "Whom do men say that I am?" All were classed under this title (men) now. A Jew was just a man. Otherwise it was, "Ye, whom do ye say?" It was not moreover ecclesiastical judgment was in question, but the opinion raised. There were various suppositions, as people's minds had been affected by previous instruments of God. There was no faith in His present living power sending His Son, the Christ Himself. This, though there might be possibly in some cases a seed of enquiry sown, came to nothing as regards separation to Himself. They own Him here, not merely as the Prophet, nor, on the other hand, is the point here given by the Holy Ghost "the Son of God," but "the Christ" - a full Jewish recognition as He had come amongst them. This, as we have seen, they were to tell no one, for He had been indeed already rejected, though He had given every proof, and He was to be received not by the bruit of His renown, but by the grace of the Father seen (however dimly by dull eyes) in Him.

284  - 30. This charge seems to occur more frequently in Mark than in the other Gospels.

But owning Him as the Christ was their own glory too. They had Him specially as owned by Him as His. And He began to tell them what was to happen to this their Christ, giving Himself a larger, more humble title, yet a title connected with all His future glory. He began to teach them that the Son of man must suffer many things, and be rejected by all that had authority, learning, or strict religion, and be killed but rise again. The great mystery of a better world, a better life, a new thing that was to come in entirely of God, when man's rejection (of Himself, in his rejection of all that was good and blessed, as sent of God) was manifested. He who came in this character (whose the glory was) Son of man sprung among themselves, yet the true and blessed Offspring of God, sent by Him, and the pattern, crown, and source of all proper human blessedness would find no link in the condition (save their misery) or even religion. Though come according to it, and its brightest crown, learning in the Law, though He was the end of it all, nor righteousness though He was the only righteous One, and He who could alone have been, had there been any good, the very centre, and power, and source, and glory of all this, was rejected in the midst of it, and cast out as One that could have no part. But God had deeper thoughts, and a new thing to bring in, and the disciples having owned Him in the professed suitability of character He came to them, they are, on this being set aside (in man's sin) to know this far deeper, and intrinsically true and necessary counsel of God, one which might be brought about by dispensation, but was above it all, and flowed from the truth of God's own eternal character in relation with men.

285 Our Lord looking towards the Father, and seeing the power and importance of these dealings with the Son of man, and not seeking Himself, speaks openly of His own humiliation and degradation. To Him it was the condemnation of these poor priests, elders, and scribes. He was occupied with the truth, and told it plainly for man to know. It put man really in his place. It was the truth of that which His disciples had to go through - the great and deep, and eternal truth which was breaking out now, through His rejection. But Peter, forward to own Him as Christ, was yet all fleshly in his thoughts of this glory, and, He having said it quite openly, fearing the loss of influence and effect on the minds of the people, in his wisdom began to rebuke Him. It dishonoured his (Peter's) position, and what would the Jewish world say? It would hinder the people believing on Him. So does the truth of God's grace where it is not a savour of life. But Christ's heart was now on His disciples to strengthen and guard this separated flock, for the separation really was made; and, turning and looking on His disciples, He rebuked Peter, calling him Satan, for things must be spoken plainly, and put in their true light now. To exalt the importance of these scribes and Pharisees and priests was to plunge the disciples really into Satan's hands. God and man were at variance, and all the religiousness of men was the stronghold on the mind against God, and to set it up was to endanger the souls of the disciples by that which had the greatest hold on them. It was exalting man, the worst and highest pride of man - religion without God (for He breaks down the conscience - this built up pride, like the offering of Cain), and showed that, as the Lord was entering into the mind of God now in His great purpose, therein man being proved to be clean opposite to God, he was savouring the things that were of men, not those of God, and these were now proved opposite. It was not of Jews; all was now gone. It was God, and man was in question. And, as we have said, if of man, his religion is the worst part, and the strongest shutter - out of his conscience from God. And where we screen the form of religion under plea of not offending men, we are doing the work of Satan, who in this has power over our hearts, savouring what accredits man, and man against God - the cover, in pride, of his apostasy. All these things are of men, and what is man? Wherever in such a question I can say "of man," I can say "Satan," "For thou savourest not," etc. The whole depth of the things of God was in what our Lord had been saying of this discrediting in death, and so the thoughts of hearts were revealed. It is a very solemn and instructive truth. But the Lord was determined to make it plain, and He called the multitude with His disciples, and said to them: "Whoever wishes to come after me, let him deny himself," (there are no saving terms for man in this world - the Son of God is rejected) "and take up his cross, and follow me." He can follow Me in no other way. "For whosoever will save his life shall lose it; but whosoever shall lose his life for my sake and the Gospel's, shall save it." How with what weight and solemnity this comes, when the Lord had just been telling His own portion! But what a change in all His relationship, all that was Jewish upon earth! Yea, it was now man and God, and, if he saved his life, he must be conniving with those who were proved against God to save himself. This was after long patience, and their rejection of Him. It was a plain, moral, human, eternal question - something wonderfully beyond Judaism - what will a man give in exchange for his soul? So only could he follow Jesus (and He was dying for sin) and what would be given in exchange for his soul?

286  - 33. "And seeing his disciples." There is something deeply affecting in these little touches, as giving an insight into our Lord's mind; they seem to abound in Mark's Gospel. Every instance of the Lord's severe reproof has connection with jealous love for the weak ones of His flock. It is this which seems to draw out the urgent denunciation of anyone who would turn them aside from the path of faith. So Paul with Elymas, and the Galatians. It is therefore the perfection of charity. Here it had also other bearings perhaps, and therefore assumes another character. He seems to have waited as to the disciples, till their faith was manifested, and grounded, too, though indifferent to its getting abroad, or perhaps more then as regarded others, quod nota. And it was this which seems now to have occasioned His rebuking Peter thus severely. All the circumstances are to be weighed here, as composing the force of the passage.

Judgment was then passed on the generation altogether, and the glory of Him who announced it, and whose humiliation they had despised, declared as to come. And so foolish was their rejection of Him, be it as Christ, be it as the grace and truth of God come in His own Person, so foolish in their haughty pride, so truly was He all that He spoke of, and could claim their hearts, and secure their happiness, so near was it all to them though they knew Him not. There were some standing there at the moment - for if He announced the humiliation openly for His disciples, so also (this being discredited, and the false glory set up by one of them) must He countervail this sin in mercy to the multitude by the plain testimony to the glory which was His, and to appear, though He took none outwardly from man, because He had taken humiliation for man and for God's glory, and would take the glory for the same too - but some were standing there, who would not taste death, that death which He had spoken of as the portion of His people, till they had seen "the Kingdom of God come in power." All this was a very solemn announcement of a most important change in the position of the Lord towards the people. It was quite new ground, steadily as the history progresses to this, quite new ground to take, whether we look at the intrinsic truth as regards souls, God and man, or the dispensation of the glory connected with the actual rejection and humiliation, and sure and purposed manifestation of the heavenly glory, the glory of His Father, not merely Messiah with Jehovah as He stood in the flesh then, though ever the Son, by which eternal truths and dispensation would come together, and He, as Son of God, as Christ the Lord, and Son of man with attending angels would, to the full vindication of God's character and relationship with man, appear to the manifestation of that glory, and the vindication of the poor and condemned Remnant. It was now ready, as it were, and could be shown, for the rejection had come in, much as might be to be done for the accomplishment of all purposes connected with it. The Kingdom of God would be seen come in power. It was a complete transition this, whatever patience God in His goodness of salvation might have. And, in looking at the circumstances in which it stands, the point of the Lord's history here partly noticed, nothing can be more striking than the connection in verse 33, of Satan, God, and man. The spirit of pride, apostasy and its form, and, in some sort, root, worldliness, is thus so shown in this its very form and character, Satan. It is all adversary; compare the fall, the temptation, Ezekiel 28, the king of Tyrus, and Isaiah 14, Lucifer. We have it in Herod, Acts 12 - a remarkable type of all this. It will be accomplished in the latter day. Out of it we must take Christ's portion, death, so only, for our nature is allied to it. They are "the things of man," though Satan's power, if not. He had none really. And thus we enter into a new - the heavenly; for all that is in the world, etc., our righteousness, knowledge, place of religious approximation to God is all heavenly and immediate, all true and real in the sight of God, in the rending of that veil (to wit, Christ's death and flesh) which opened the holiest, and all that God is and was, no veil being upon Him; compare, for practice, 2 Corinthians 4 and Matthew 5 at the end.

288 The form of apostasy and the love of the world are wonderfully united: "All these things will I give thee"; "Demas hath forsaken me, having loved this present world." And note how much lighter a thing Peter is thus addressed for here; for He was judging the root in its workings, and that which was fair in the world was now proved. The least sanction of them was to be denounced as Satan. Note, too, how the flesh in Peter rested, not on glorious, divine and saving power in the resurrection, but the rejection by these wretched chief priests. Alas! how often this is so in principle indeed in all unbelief! In verse 27, He was just drawing them out to His real position.

There were, in fact, two judgments passed on the nation; one on the form of righteousness and royalty, which was corrupt and false - the Pharisees and Herod. The second was of that which was in a certain sense legitimate, and this was found in opposition. It was the respectability, and authority, and religious learning of the nation; all proved in opposition to the Lord Jesus. And, as we have said, the Son of man, man, and Satan brought out in their real place and character, their true place. Man's condition, essayed in every advantageous dispensation, having been proved hopeless, his righteousness, and royalty, the two great grounds of Israel's sustainings false, and the authorities which might be recognised, adverse to God. The former warned against, but the accrediting of these therefore, as more dangerous, denounced as "Satan" by the jealous care of the good Shepherd for His little ones.

The rejection of the Lord had made it necessary for Him to declare, to fortify the souls that might be hindered by it, the glory that was His, in which He would come, that there was a time coming when "Woe be to him" that the Son of man was ashamed of And those that were special witnesses to Him, He would now show this glory to, to confirm their faith; compare 2 Peter 1. It was a wonderful sight, if we take the simple fact, not of this world. Oh! how blessed, when this shall be the sight! When it shall not be of this world! My heart sighs for the time. It was not the inheritance here, but the glory with the saints, His personal glory. How blessed when this vile body shall be fashioned like His glorious body! How transporting, and what liberty of glory! My soul does sigh for the time. None can know what it is but by the Holy Ghost. It is not of this world, nor what man conceives or enters into.

289  - 38. Note its connection. And it will be true, not merely of personal confession but of acknowledging our belief in anything which is part of the teaching of the Lord.

Mark 9

- 1, et seq. And surely Jesus was more at home there than in the world, though love, always a stranger till it has wrought its own, its great effects, might make His home the resting-place of His love, where home He had none, save the need and sorrow of those He came to. And though, where love is perfect, this is its conscious and blessed place, yet still is it sorrow, and a burthen, and makes it feel more sensibly a stranger. All this passed apart, apart He conversed with this Moses and Elias, or rather they with Him. It was He was thus transfigured. It was He whose glory filled their minds, though the others - blessed and wondrous grace! - were with Him in it. There Jesus could let His heart dilate itself - there converse at ease. And what a privilege for us, for this is our place in that day; yea, blessed Jesus, now in Spirit, for Thou hast conquered. The glory is ours now, for it is our Head's, and we are one with Thee. There their joy and converse had no restraint, for sin was not there, and Jesus was fully honoured. All owned and reflected His true or real glory, and that glory was in Man there.

The Father's infinite delight drawn out by the presence of Him who was daily His delight, and His saints therein in the same glory with Him. The Father's heart could express and show itself in ineffable complacency and delight, due to Him who had perfectly glorified Him on earth, and fulfilled all His good pleasure, in whom all the fulness was pleased to dwell, by whom, and by whom alone, the divine character had been vindicated and exalted in man (by and in whom it had been dishonoured), and the great mystery of godliness accomplished and displayed, there His infinite oneness with the Father, understood and displayed, the debt due to the Son eternally paid, and that to the joy of the Father by the glory He ever had. Yet the glory He had acquired, and blessedness secure now, and divine ways, and benediction out of the possible reach of the enemy, yet in the infinite joy, and by union, communion even of the creature, there His oneness with the Father known, yet in Him that suffered (yea, that connected with it), and then the reverse of the suffering. There Jesus could speak of His decease without being rebuked. And what blessed ease of conscience do we see the saints to be in with Him! How interested in His ways! How occupied and conversant with them! How familiar with the glory! And in what peaceful understanding is the decease spoken of, yet how plain the fruit of glory!

290 The three Apostles admitted to see this, that they might be pillars, know also Moses and Elias there. Peter proposes to make three tabernacles, i.e., places of meeting, where the communications of God's mind might be found. It was to him a grand thing to see his Master in the same glory as Moses and Elias. There was no abiding sense of who Jesus was, and they were sore afraid - propose to honour them all. This then was the point to which the previous testimony of the Father came. "This is my beloved Son: hear him." And then none was found but Him - more blessed than Moses on the mount, or Elias returning to the same, the hopeless witness of the same evil which Moses had found on his descent. The Father's voice on the holy mount pointing out the Son Himself to be heard. Moses and Elias were alike set aside as to this. Moses might give the Law, Elias might call to repentance, because it was broken (and return in despair to Horeb) but the Father now points to the Son whose rejection and death had been just testified of, as the One for the disciples to hear. This was a great secret, and was to be kept by those who had seen and heard, until the resurrection should be the manifestation of the power and value of His intervention; and sealing up the prophecy should in establishing indeed, yet end the Law, for Jesus' death, in this sense, ended Law and Prophets. It was God's righteousness "without law." It was now Jesus alone with themselves. This was the manifestation of the power and coming of the Lord Jesus. Its effect was to leave them alone with Jesus, to follow Him in patience, as He was, because of the known glory, in hope, and take His word as their guide in every thing. Note, our hearing the Son is in connection with the Father's perfect delight in Him. This is a most blessed truth. To Him all our attention is to be given in the consciousness of His Person, and of the Father's love to Him. This love of the Father to the Son is a blessed point of knowledge, and communication to our souls, and what we know specially.

291 It is not merely Messiah and Jehovah, as in Zechariah, for example, but the Father's love to the Son. The Jews' confidence rested, if it was just, according to the full truth of the word, in Jehovah's reception of Messiah in faithfulness and truth; the Church's was the Father's love to the Son. What a blessed portion! For the word to us, "Thou hast loved them as thou hast loved me," and "I have declared unto them thy name, and will declare it: that the love wherewith thou hast loved me may be in them, and I in them." But this indeed is anticipating what is contained indeed in this word as to the Object but is known in communion only through the blessed power of the Holy Ghost. Jesus received as Messiah, known in communion as Son, the Son, and Jesus, company with Jesus as Son of man in the glory of the Kingdom are the three steps. Here they saw the latter, having owned Him Christ, and the Father's voice testified as to Him. The second, their own communion with Him in that place was known only afterwards, and very specially by Paul's ministry, and also John's. But this was all de facto consequent on His death; meanwhile, He only was to be listened to. The resurrection formed the cardinal point therein, "declared the Son of God with power," and entering on the whole of that new world "whereof we speak," and putting the Church into the place of that communion in redemption which His being on high warranted and effected before God and the Father. It was different from owning Him as Christ, and was to be spoken of only after resurrection. This communion in unity with the Son has special force in that deep identity of interest which gives a confidence and communion peculiarly its own. How blessed is it! See what a common interest there was between the Father and the Son; I mean as doing His Father's will upon earth. What a sense of drawing all from Him, of doing all for Him, whose soul delighted in Him, as He could say, "O righteous Father, the world hath not known thee: but I have known thee," and then adds, "and these!" What obedience! What knowledge that the Father heard Him always, that it was a delight without flaw in the essence of His own perfectness! And indeed He delights in us in Him, according to His perfectness. What confidence in the heart of Christ, let the circumstances be what they may! It was the expression of His communion, and, in His love to us, His desire of our communion in it. He must, in truth, have loved us wonderfully, to put us in the same place with Christ.

292  - 2. Note their faith of His being the Christ, the Son of the living God, was not founded on this, but the Father's teaching. This rather followed that, and the declaration of His rejection and death, quod nota; for the time is peculiarly, as not commonly nor without purpose, marked. It was, however, only to the three.

- 4. The two who were in glory with the blessed Lord on the mount are of a remarkable character. Not only were they the Law and the Prophets, which testify of and give place to Christ who, Son of God, is to be heard, but Moses stood alone from God with the people when faith had to be implanted in them, and Elias when, as a body, they had abandoned it, so that Elias came back to Horeb on the failure, as far as man could say, of the Law. (Elisha's ministry came from heaven, and was, in its nature, of the risen Christ.) So Christ was there, when all that His testimony, and all that He was connected with dispensationally, was over, but when His rejection here brought in the glory and the Kingdom. Only in Christ it was absolute, and an eternal redemption, but there was no connection in their ministry with what was when it was set up. It acted from God on all that was around them. It was not as the Prophets in the system in which they were. So also they wrought miracles, the Prophets not.

- 9. The reason as to this was stronger than the miracles. Did it include the other Apostles? Possibly it did. It is remarked elsewhere, that they talked of His decease, with which connect verse 2, and previous note. The first apprehensions of both run much together. It was, I suppose, altogether for their, and, through them, the Church's sake, and note verse 12. "From among the dead," is the correct rendering.

293  - 10. "From among the dead" (to ek nekron). Note in connection with the end of the previous verse. This shows clearly the emphasis on the "from among" (ek); they wondered what "rising from among the dead" could mean. The resurrection of the dead they were familiar with.

- 11. There was then a question as to the scribes' teaching as to Elias coming first. We hear in the force of "the scribes in Moses seat" - they had the Scriptures at command, and presented what they contained, as ready scribes; here, perhaps, to object against the truth. Here what they said was the truth. The Apostles readily bring it back to this doubt and difficulty, not being filled, though impressed with the glory. And this was natural, because the difficulty had been put in their minds; Satan using, quod nota, a truth, to make a difficulty. And how easily, when the glory and mystery of God in the suffering of His exalted Son was not understood, could the difficulty be made available! How was John Elias? He said he was not. But God's children are taught of Him, and given understanding. But their thoughts turn back to the point of His being this Person at all, of which the glory seen so strongly was evidence, and this very conviction brought out the difficulty which had been planted in their hearts. This the Lord at once meets plainly. Elias coming first, restores all things. This was entirely a solution on Jewish subjects. Elias, they said, was to come first; so he was coming first; he restores all things. This is a remarkable testimony. The work of Elias is to call back, and, as we have said, he returned to Horeb as the place of the character of his mission. He acted on the Horeb, or Sinai ground; recalled, and returned thither to hear the voice of God - then the answer of supreme grace. And when he is promised it is "Remember ye the law of Moses my servant, which I commanded unto him in Horeb for all Israel, the statutes and judgments." Elias comes and takes up Israel for Israel's portion. But Jesus, coming as Son of man, must suffer many things, and be set at nought; that was where He drew back their minds. His heart saw and felt the ruin of all Israel. He was just about to break His staff, Beauty, and He therefore says, "Elias truly cometh first, and restoreth all things" (taking them on their own ground). Then He would appear to them in glory now, the Son of man - a real (not of dispensation merely), a wider character - must suffer, and be set at nought, for things were all in confusion. "But I say unto you that Elias also has come" - now speaking of him who came spiritually as such, as Jesus came then rather spiritually, i.e., only so understood, though really He - "and they have done unto him whatsoever they listed." The ruin of all things, and dreadful, the totally ruined, state of Israel - all Israel - has been shown in him also. They have followed their own will against God and their own mercies, "as it is written of him." This is a very remarkable passage. I am not aware (there may be) of any direct passage, i.e., in open terms speaking of this, but then for this reason it shows a depth of application of Scripture that is most deeply interesting and instructive, and deeply affects my mind. In such case, such passages as Isaiah 59:15, would have their application, even by Him who saw all things in their principles, and full force according to the mind of God. Then the verses which follow would be the application of God's judgment to them, to which the Prophet passes on at once. What should happen to the Son of man is more precisely spoken of.

294 But the lot of His faithful though despised servant was not disregarded by Him; he was in His mind. It was written of him how honourable he had been noted in God's book. The restoring of all things was then here perfectly Jewish, though in principle, as repentance, it was of all, but in character Jewish and earthly, but applied to the root as to this portion, or possibility of portion in God's blessing - repentance. This itself really was grace - a new principle - for the Law was, "Do this and live"; here, "repent," because they had failed. It was, therefore, as the Apostle argues in Romans, though not yet developed, the righteousness of faith. The Law and the Prophets all went on to this. This really was a hinge to other things. The Kingdom of God was preached. John was soon rejected by the hearts of the sons of men, though coming in a strictly Jewish way. The principle was in John. But it was true Elias would come; he who had despaired and gone to Horeb, though very faithful, would come and restore. So it was written. But it was equally written that the Son of man would suffer, and that they must expect therefore. And indeed Elias had come, and they had fulfilled what was written of him, i.e., he who had come in the spirit and power of Elias. The will of man hitherto had had its full way; for mercy and grace in power, i.e., setting aside evil, had not yet come.

295 This total failure of power against evil (without Him) was then fully manifested, and therein the state of the disciples as well as of the Jews, as to the recognition of His power (for all things were possible to him that believeth) for indeed His power was present there. However, unless to faith, He was away in the glory, as it were. Whether to disciples or to the rest, He had to say of them as a generation, "Oh, faithless, how long shall I be with you?" Their unbelief was driving Him away; even in the disciples was this shown, but still He was with them in power - His glory, and so the scene of their unbelief still, so to speak, fresh in His mind. This presence of His glory from which He was just returning, brought the whole state of the nation before Him, pictured in this scene. His disciples, without faith as to the energy of it, unable to help; the power of Satan cruelly manifested in the young man, and with the misery of the father, the people just running in helpless curiosity, to know what was the power; and where was it without faith in Him? The sufferers miserable, cast only by misery on One they knew not really; they had no faith. "When the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth?" And such, though doubtless there be deep instructions in principle in it, such seems the intimation in it, that without the presence of Christ, that unhappy nation could not be delivered from the power of Satan; and this upon His return from the glory. "After the glory hath he sent me" unto you. Then they will receive Him, and receive Him with astonishment, not understanding this manner of God's dealings with Israel. They had not, long as He had been suffering them, learned His way, and interest in them, and power towards them in Jesus - no, not even His disciples who kept HIS commandments and had His testimony. In the sense of this power Jesus returned to them. They did not understand this separation, even from His disciples, and return. He returned, however, whatever His glory may be, in the prosecution of the same mercy as in power to deliver. And this had been Israel's character, too, from a child. It was not merely moral evil was now in question, but the power of Satan. Israel - though it might be there was no deliverance from this - it came to him from a child; One only could do it, and that was proved in resurrection. Yet, though it had often cast him into fire and water to destroy him, it never had after all. Wretched as was the power unbelief held them into - Satan - a superior hand restrained him, and now he was to be cast out. The man, as we have said, cast himself, in the sense of misery, in hope on the Lord. Let what evil would have happened, God's power had not been limited - the being able was in the believing. The Lord, in no wise seeking widespread popular display, but the suitable exercise of the power of God, that the evidence of it might be clear, by a word of power ejected the spirit, and restored the young man. The working of Satan in the presence of Christ all turns to the witness of His superior power. This deliverance, when Christ returned to deliver, was final; for, from the state described when taking seven others, and entering in, the last state was worse than the first. It is only in real abstraction from self to God, real denial, or, rather, abstraction from self and drawing close to God, that God is so known as to have this power identified with His interests, conscious of His glory concerned in it, sensible of the excellency and power of the extent of that glory, and that God is near, and interested in everything because He is God - able to detect the presence and power of Satan, and apply the power of God in judging him, so as that he must recognise the power which detects him, and which walks abstractedly for and with God in the world, and so by His presence with Him can, in the power of this union and communion, act for Him, for His glory is in it.

296  - 14, et seq. His absence was seasonable for the proof - His presence for the timely support of His disciples. Can one doubt that divine wisdom ordered the admission of these to the Transfiguration, and left those to that exercise? And His return to them - and it may be observed that it does not appear by any means that our Lord left them at the foot of the mountain - it was the next day He came to them. Nor does it appear that it was at the foot of the mountain, indeed, He came to the disciples; but if He did, the ground of their wonder was evident, for they looked not for Him then at all. If we are not so gifted as to qualify us for the Transfiguration, perhaps the next best mercy may be anxious exercise, by which our defect of faith may be discovered, and the Lord will doubtless come in aid to His own glory. Yet it is a sad thought, this strange unbelief.

It was the Lord's absence brought the trial of faith, but it was the feebleness of that faith which seems to have occasioned them thus to be left. Thus, often, in daily life does the weakness of faith bring its own punishment by exposing us to the situation in which its defect is evinced.

297 The remark as to the people's wonder - I think just, they did not know what was become of our Lord, absent not with but from His disciples in an unusual way.

- 19. No doubt of the father as well as of the disciples.

- 21, 22. The father's distrust seems partly to have arisen from extreme anxiety increased, no doubt, by the failure of the disciples. But, note, the cause for it is an abiding one, whether painful or joyous; he felt more about himself than the Lord. Here was the germ of unbelief. "Have pity on us"; he was full of the object, not calm reliance on the Lord's power in respect of it. This fills with the sense of the apparent difficulties; we do not see where the "if thou canst" lies. This accordingly is the point our Lord brings the man's mind to; he says, "If thou canst do anything, have compassion on us, and help us." It is not merely uncertainty as to the Lord's seeing right to interfere, for that is consistent, quod nota, with perfect faith. "Lord, if thou wilt, thou canst. And the Lord said, I will, be thou," etc. Here is no reference to Him as "Lord," but "If thou canst." The Lord therefore answers, 'The point of its possibility lies in your belief.' The "If thou canst," which was applied to Him, properly rested in others' faith. There is the whole "if," for "All things are possible to him that believeth." The question of ability, etc., is (are you able) to believe? Note, when we are anxious for some immediate object, we may apply for aid to what has the credit of being able to help, without any just faith in that which we apply to. Just faith recognises, so as to have moral power over the soul, the real character of its object, for it dwells upon it, not merely on what one would gain from it; see Hosea 7:14, and Psalms 78 and 107. And therefore it never reaches anything of willing obedience. "Who is the Lord that I should obey him?" See, when there was some measure of faith really in the case of Jairus, how our Lord anticipated, as observed, the effect of the news of her death, by holding him to the apprehension of the power, not of the difficulty - "all things are possible," etc.; and, God being indeed manifested, the being able is in the believing. The observations here are intimately connected with our seeking spiritual comfort, in our getting ease for ourselves. A burthened soul cannot but seek it, but a truly humbled and distressed soul is led much more to contemplate God, and wait upon Him, as one unworthy, than to seek ease selfishly for itself, faithlessly as regards Him. Such a soul rather wants deeper convictions of sin generally. There may be dealings of God with souls beyond these observations perhaps; see Jonah, the Israelites lusting for meat, and the answer of the three children to Nebuchadnezzar.

298  - 23. The question of power is in believing - "All things are possible to him that believes."

- 24. There was the confession of unbelief which is, so far, recognition, that it acknowledges the duty of faith which could not be but on the existence of the object, but avows a defect of moral ability. It here manifestly, as to occasion, arose from the same undue possession of mind by the anxious, selfish action about his son; nor was there, though he obtained his desire, and so often, that free manifestation of willing grace on the part of the Lord, which is the blessed power of affiance and communion in us. He saw the multitude running together; the instruction and suggestion was given here as to the power of faith, because it was wanting. There was no want of the Lord's doing all for the man He could do; he obtained his desire, but he did not gain that light of the Lord's countenance and acceptance, which others did who believed simply, and looked to the Lord. He did not contemplate it; it was not "According to thy faith be it unto thee," but "Jesus, seeing the multitude running together." It is surely an instructive lesson. The Lord's grace (while we are humbled and warned) shines most brightly.

But while the Lord showed there was abiding mercy, though He had thus to bear with them, He returns to instruct and fortify the poor of the flock, and seal the law among His disciples. Before, He taught them that the Son of man was to suffer and be set at nought; here, further, that He was to be delivered even by those with whom He was then dealing, into the hands of men, and they would kill Him. This was a further step, as in man's sin, so in the strange relationship of things which sin had brought in. The Son of man taking the title in love, and the Head and Glory of man is delivered by those in direct, divine association with whom He came, into the hands of men - those whose nature He had assumed in love, and to their glory, and they would kill Him. Death was to be His portion at the hands of men. But, being killed - here was the wonderful purpose of love and glory which permitted it, even sin and darkness and folly to the uttermost - that, being killed, He would rise again, putting away the sin, and conquering death. But they were quite ignorant of the Word. It was very simple, but it fell in with no previous ideas. It was therefore unintelligible. So ever - the statements of God are very simple, but they are not accordant with what we have received, and they are therefore difficult to the mind. "How is it that ye do not understand my speech? Even because ye cannot hear my word." If we hear what God says, there is no difficulty in understanding it. It was not surprising that they should not understand the humiliation (that deep glory) of the Son of man, when they were disputing who should be greatest in a kingdom which they had settled according to their own views, and ideas, and desires for themselves. Yet the resurrection glory was founded on this humiliation. The Cross, if God was holy, must be passed through for it. Yet, what a picture of the heartlessness of man! Just while the Lord was explaining His humiliation, and the new and blessed truth of His victory in resurrection, they were at that time disputing in selfishness as to the portion of each in that Kingdom. What a disclosure of their insensibility and selfishness! The glory of the Kingdom had but aroused it. Anything special for the three, seems to have left them on a par with all the rest, and the Lord's account of His betrayal to death into the hands of men seems to have left them where they were. The Lord, who knows their thoughts, asks them, but there is, at least, the silence of shame. Conscience had begun to work upon it, whether through His discourse or not, but they had disputed enough what they were ashamed to confess. It is before the Lord things assume their true character. But how sad and sorrowful is the picture of man! But the Lord takes the occasion to instruct them further in the spirit and character of His Kingdom - humiliation. He was a good example of it in all patience, for it was done to His Father. Whoever would be first should be last and servant, for it was self, and just so much distance from and want of the Spirit of Christ. Our Lord pursues this character of Christianity, self-humiliation and self-sacrifice, thus entirely brought out by Christ's death, and valuing Him and everything by reference to Him thus rejected would be the great test of this. It was not the vain glory of the world, but the links of God's love; His love rested on such, whoever received one of these despised and, to the flesh, unimportant little ones in His name, received Him, and whoever received Him received not Him - to the eye of the flesh a despised and rejected Man - but Him that sent Him. The glorious links of God's love!

300 Another form of this selfish, human, fleshly aggrandisement among His disciples (in the Church even) then discloses itself through this remark. He did not enlarge and accredit their party - this man that cast out devils in Christ's name; John thought it doubtless well, as he did not go with Christ, but he was casting out devils in Christ's name - the good was done in the power of His name, and no one who could use power in His name could readily speak evil of Him. If they loved the glory of His name, not their own aggrandisement and credit, they would be glad of it, as the blessed Apostle. "Some preach Christ of contention," "yet every way Christ is preached, and therein I do rejoice, yea, and will rejoice." And they need not hinder him, they would have plenty of opponents; to bear the name of Christ would turn the world against them, for the question between Christ and the world under Satan's power was fairly raised, and they were to find this on His death which was now before Him, as the very connection of this opposition, the manifestation of this enmity. Whoever was not against them was on their side. "Us" was the word on the Apostle's mind, he had a right, he thought, to use Christ's name to make people go along with them. Christ used it only for good in humiliation, and they would be in this warfare, and have plenty of it; wherever Satan was cast out by that Name, it would be so much force and reinforcement of their service for Christ. If they were looking for the fleshly importance, that was not Christ's name really, and if all the world and Satan's power were against them, whatever validated the power of Christ's name against the power of Satan would be for them - would actually and relatively strengthen their service. It was value for Christ evidently. It was recognised by Him, and so were they identified with Him, that if anyone gave them but a cup of cold water in His name, His name would be recognised - the great test, for indeed the whole mind of God was involved in it, and the moral state of the individual, for it owned God, for the love of Him as humbled, despised, and rejected in a world of sin - the man would not lose his reward, on purpose to put down the false view of man. The Lord had come, completely despised and outcast even to death, on purpose; so all that view, pro tanto, was got rid of for the sake of that very Name which conveyed all that. The kind act was done, and in that act God's view of Jesus and His work was taken. I say pro tanto, for I do not see that it is here brought to a question of salvation; but it was recognised, and not forgotten of God. He owns the truth, and reflex of His grace and truth, wherever He finds it, and acts on the presenting of it to Him. On the whole, the thing they were to value was simply His name - the great test, as He had His Father's - and so entire was, and would be, the opposition, whoever was not actually against them, they might reckon as gain and on their side. On the other hand, whoever should slight this Name in the least - the least and most insignificant believer - he had joined the world and Satan, in this great open conflict, in that in which the Lord was most interested. His feeble weakness showed his malice, and evil malignity, the baseness and cowardly spirit, yet acute malignity of evil, and that just in what was nearest the opposite feeling in the Lord's heart - His tenderness and watchfulness over the feeble, the poor, the weak, the lost; he had touched one of Christ's little ones - it were better a millstone were about his neck. But the real thing was the value of Christ's rejected name; that attached the greatest value to the least thing, to the feeblest. The glory had been brought out in the Transfiguration. His total rejection by the world rested on the mind of Christ - owning Him was owning all that the world had rejected. All hung on the consciousness of how He had come, and been sent, on owning Him.

301  - 38. The point of connection rests "in my name" (verse 37) and so in what follows.

- 40, 41. Remark with what singular beauty the Lord says "us," identifying Himself wholly with the disciples, after rebuking the selfishness of the "us" in verse 38.

I think this holds out in the strongest light the universal opposition of the world to the ministry of the Gospel; on the contrary, the perfect waiting on the weakness of those who, however weak, are willing towards the Gospel, and then, especially in ministers, the obligation of the maintenance of their own consistency in grace, for indeed they are subject to the same liability in stumbling, and the rather as the exercise of service is peculiarly apt to lead their mind off the frame of their own spirit and internal power of grace, and they defraud not only themselves but others.

302  - 42. Christ is everything - value for His name tests all. A cup of cold water for His name's sake, shows value for Christ. So a believing child is of all account; so what would turn us away from Him must be sacrificed, be it what it may. It is now an eternal question. The salt must be kept salt; and the judgment of God will test every thing. It is more testing, but less characteristic than Matthew 18. The principles are the same so far.

But as the Son of man had come to seek, and save what was lost, and His coming had proved how totally lost they were, as the principles of His kingdom were found at total variance with all that was in man, so really as God had set forth all that was attractive, all He had in Him, not merely Jewish hopes but eternal destinies hung on the rejection of and not following Him. He saw also how many things hindered the human heart from coming to Him, how many things got power over it, but if it cost a right hand or a right eye, it was better to enter into life. How solemnly and urgently the Lord repeats it! There was no offence really in Him. If it was in them, better to lose anything here, even what was good and given in nature, than eternal life, and go into Hell, "where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched." The unquenchable fire is its character, for that is God's judgment, but there is that which belongs to the place, a gnawing which characterises it, and is of them, and ceases not, and is lasting as they, their worm - worse, because theirs. It characterises the place, and as to this judgment of God, it is universal; everyone shall be under its influence. It is His nature, His necessary and blessed nature, on which the stability of all things hangs, which is connected with the very being of God, as God; He could not be so else, but to allow of sin. Our God, blessed be His name, "is a consuming fire"; He allows it not in us - thanks be to Him! It is our joy. He cannot allow it anywhere; "Holiness becomes his house for ever." It is our portion; and what perfect delight and joy to our souls! Our portion for ever! Hence what deep, deep consolation, that God knows everything in us! Then, on the knowledge of this, there is the activity of holiness spoken of here. It is addressed to the disciples only, all this, and is instruction to them - activity in rejecting all outward occasions, and stumbling blocks which nourish and cultivate the flesh, for we have the Spirit already; for, though not said to them when they had, it is said to them on the footing of His death which introduced all the principles of God's holiness, sentenced (though a sacrifice for sin or God by it, as by Christ's life and nature) sin in the flesh, and was that through which, as sin was judged, so we are made partakers of the Holy Ghost.

303 Now fire is just the application of the holiness of God in judgment; "Everyone shall be salted with fire." Christ, having taken our place, was salted with fire, and if our sin was entirely consumed by it, He Himself was therein an Offering made by fire, a Sacrifice of a sweet savour, an Offering made by fire unto the Lord. Coming into a world of sin, He must put Himself here, go on with the sin (at least in others) and go out of it again, i.e., in fact He must put Himself here. It was the only place He could put Himself into - yea, in this wonderful mystery of love, holiness, and wisdom - this mystery of God - of godliness, for sin had come in. But this shows necessarily that sin cannot pass at all, for it was the intervention of God about it. It was the great proof of this. But looking at it illustratively, if He did not escape putting Himself in this position, who shall? God's holiness is certain, and sooner or later vindicates itself, whether as an action or not. Everything is tried, and passes through the ordeal of this holiness; "Everyone shall be salted with fire." God's active, judicial, and, in one sense, avenging holiness, shall try everything. Everyone then shall be salted with fire, every sacrifice, everything offered to God shall be salted with salt - the preserving and enduring savour of grace. The salt of the covenant of our God must be, shall be in every sacrifice, every one offered to God. There is a process of judgment, even for the saints - the fire tries them, but in them it merely purges the evil, chastens them for the inconsistencies, and, removing the soil and hindrance, the new life moves unhindered and unobstructed, healthily, easily, and happily. When that is not, of course, it is mere judgment and condemnation. But every sacrifice, everyone really offered to God, he in grace shall be seasoned with the salt of the covenant of the God of His people. This is according to the measure and character of the offering, i.e., it is qua offering, he may, if careless in walk, undergo, and with the judicial process as another, perhaps more severely because of the position - he is in a nearer position to the consuming fire - but, as an offering, every saint, and in measure as actually offered, is salted with the salt of the savour of God's grace in communion with Him. For the whole of this indeed hangs on being brought completely to God, that all the figures of the Law had their realities now, Christ, the Lamb, the Gehenna of fire, everything. God Himself was revealed; questions had ceased to be Jewish. His rejection by them had rejected all questions into questions between sinful man and God. The last Hope of the Jews having been rejected by their evil nature, when really God, their God, was amongst them, who would have gathered them, and being rejected in His formal character to them as Jews, His character and theirs, as God and sinners, became manifested, and in juxtaposition. Hence the discoveries and truths in the previous passage. And in this nearness no sin could be allowed; the fire of God's holiness, dispensed mercy being rejected, must try everything. They must be salted, consecrated by this. This would be in nothing but judgment of men - unrenewed sinners - everlasting destruction from His presence. But, on the other side, in grace, this nearness to God was the power of real savour, and being spiritual consecration to Him, this consecration had its power in this nearness. There the savour of salt is; and it is impossible, further from God, to enter into the power which is nearer to Him, for the power of grace is of Him, and we are offered so far as the flesh is put down and sacrificed, and we are alive to Him in that we live in our place, and every energy of our mind as servants. This, as regards position; if in that position the flesh rises up, the fire will only, so to speak, burn hotter, because of its inconsistency with the position. Thus, suppose I were in the position of an Apostle - self-sacrifice to God - my work must be in the savour and power of that nearness, and so only could be; but any inconsistency we may expect to meet the fire for, according to the nearness of that holiness.

304 Then as to the Church - the salt of the earth is its position and character. It holds the place of grace, of the revelation of God's unveiled character in the earth. It holds His place. "Be ye therefore perfect as," etc. And so of light to the world. "God is Light." "Ye are the light of the world." Well now, this which was brought out in Jesus, God manifest in the flesh, is good. "Salt is good," but if that which holds this place lose its savour, "wherewith shall it be seasoned." It remains in its position, nor, when really Christian, does it cease to be salt, but it has lost its savour. There is no hope of recovery held out. It is not, as salt, spoken of for its security for heaven, but its savour for earth as a witness, and witness of what the Lord is on earth. Thus the Lord traces, synoptically, the effect of His rejection and the manifestation of deeper principles, which was to be the effect of that rejection. Though short, the statement of principles is of the very deepest possible importance, arising from the full manifestation of God, on the discovered impossibility of any dispensation with man, as such, and the principle of grace therein, brought out and manifested in the Church, and in it in responsibility on the earth; for man, let his security for heaven be what it will, is always responsible on earth - or whatever may strengthen him in that responsibility.

305  - 49. Is it not to be looked on as a promise, though in form and truth a warning? "Every branch in me that beareth not fruit, he purgeth it that it may bring forth more fruit." He had been recommending the putting away, at all cost, the occasion of sin, "For," says our Lord, every one shall be fully counted and purged, and that by judgment, for God will, if possible, mark more decidedly, in His people than in others, that it is and must be "so of a truth" to them, indeed all of grace; and then the reference to the Romans has full application, and many passages in Corinthians may be referred to. The "for" (gar) then is obvious.

Is it not also, for every one will be exercised in the fire of trial? The fire shall try every man's work, and indeed every individual's work in his own soul. "Present your bodies a living sacrifice." "Every sacrifice," i.e., every one devoted to the service of God in the Gospel of His Son - crucified with Christ. This can only be effectual and real in the power of genuine grace. "Salt is good," there seems to be a conjunction here of the instrumental power or means, and the person in whom it operates, as in the parable of the sower: "These are they which are sown," etc. Then of the salt (ye are the salt by the power of the salt in yourselves), "If the salt becomes saltless, wherewith will ye season it? Have salt in yourselves, and be at peace with one another." This connects it with the circumstances from which the discourse sprung. The result is simple and powerful - "salt in yourselves … peace with one another." The more real power of grace there be in us in truth, the more recognition of the Name of the Lord Jesus, the more genuine apprehension of nothingness in ourselves, more of the communion of the power of His Person, and so the more peace among ourselves. When real grace fails, though there be gifts, there will be jealousy and self-seeking even by those very gifts, and the Name which is the bond of power and unity will be disregarded, and division follow. They are most important as substantive directions, but have the utmost connection one with the other. Though peculiarly strong as to ministers, it is, as all other such places, true to all disciples.

306 Mark 10

This chapter continues to verse 45; from verse 46, the Lord enters afresh into Judaea as Jehovah and King, Son of David.

The Lord now put Himself, as it were, close to Judaea, but in contrast with it, outside it, in connection with it but now not within - a picture of His real place in dispensation as we have seen. But though now in principle without the camp, other glory and other revelations having come in, yet still His own mercy and patience unexhausted, the multitude come to Him there, for now they were to go out to Him, and, "as his custom was, he taught them." But this soon brought into question His relationship with the law of Moses. The Pharisees came to Him with this much-discussed question: Was it lawful to put away a wife for every cause? He refers them to their own authority: What says Moses? He permitted a divorce. To the lawgiver first - their own authority - but not their discussions, the question must be taken. But the Lord hereby assumes entirely a new position - a Judge of the Law itself, not condemning it, but accounting for its character in such provisions, and assigning it a temporary place. There could not be a more important principle in His controversy with them, nor one more consistent with, and flowing indeed from the place, which we have seen Him so distinctly assume, of the great moral principles of relationship with God. "Moses, for the hardness of your hearts, gave you this commandment, but from the beginning it was not so." What an account of their dispensation! Its stability and consequence! It hung on principles different from what God had instituted in blessing at the beginning, because of the hardness of their hearts now fully manifested. "Moses gave YOU this commandment, … but God made them male and female from the beginning of the creation." He was settling things now according to God's institution of them, not acquiescing in temporary arrangements of dispensation. Taking up God's institution at Creation into His own Person as Second Adam, the law entered; in this light God now returns in this place of Christ to His own thoughts; the hardness of man's heart had exhausted itself in evil, there was no more use in provision, patient provision for it, for the greatest provision, even Christ, had been rejected. God returns to pursue His own thoughts, dispensation being useless. I cannot but think Christ here treats the Jewish Remnant as His father and mother, and the Church as His wife. Thus, turning to this original creation purpose, one founded on deeper and more eternal things than anything in the law, for the dispensation of the Church is the manifestation by the Holy Ghost of that which the Church in the mind of God shall be when united to Christ, when its blessedness is complete. Hence the heavenly Jerusalem is looked at beyond the millennium; Rev. 21. The Church are members of His body, of His flesh, and of His bones, which is never true of the Jewish people, though, in a general sense, married to Jehovah. It is not a real union, as the union of the Church with the risen Jesus. This is God's act and work, the plan of His new Creation as of His old. But so far from sanctioning Moses' law whoever does it commits adultery, and if a woman (which Moses' law never sanctioned) did it she committed adultery. It was from the nature of the bond of God. And we may add, never had He rejected and given up the Jewish people. They had rejected Him and committed adultery, but He had been ever and unfailingly faithful to them. If He gave them up, it was that they rejected and refused them - this as to their responsibility; He will show His faithfulness in grace much more. As Second Adam the Church was His spouse; as Jehovah they had rejected Him; and, Head of the new Creation, the Church was His Bride. This was now brought out by their rejection of Him. As Second Adam He was never Bridegroom of the Jewish company - as Jehovah He was. They were unfaithful to Him then, not He to them. As second Adam, now just brought out, He takes His own real place. They had now on their lips: "We have no king but Caesar." They were an adulterous generation. All Jewish pride, wisdom, and learning was set aside too. A child, and its simplicity, was what was wanting for, and to enter into the Kingdom of God; "of such is the Kingdom of God." If a man did not come to receive, if he did not come with the simplicity which found the truth there, he could not enter. Man was a mere sinner; good must be found elsewhere. All the learning, and wisdom, and information of Moses and discussions of his principles and meaning, was all just hindrance, unless it brought to the discovery of the utter ignorance, evil, and ruin in all this, because of sin. Then would a man the rather come as a child. Christ had to confound and confute, or reprove and set aside the doctors. He had only to receive the child; what did the child find there? What did he not, in the riches of God's own blessing in the Mediator, in whom all fulness dwelt, in grace and supply to need? This was clearly the way to come. All He had to do here was to warn them of the truth - a truth present circumstances brought into such relief - and then to call, take them in His arms, lay His hands upon, and bless recipients as received. But we have then the question raised on more detailed ground, and the principles on which the conscience rests. Here we have had mind, and knowledge, and pride, contrasted, as hindrances, with the sweet and blessed grace which receives these little ones, that they may receive blessing; now the question of conscience, righteousness and goodness - what was to be found of it in man - or where goodness was to be found, and what temporal advantages and race availed to these - the things to the now position of the Kingdom of God, i.e., its real truth; for to a Jew they were promised blessings. This also was a hindrance. All natural (apparent) advantages were a hindrance. So Christ judged, and teaches, for God's thoughts are not as our thoughts.

308  - 17. And as Jesus went forth into the way, one attracted by the gracious goodness manifested in Jesus, His ways, and His teaching, and His Person, came and running to Him with alacrity - the hasty feeling of the flesh, no sense of His own nothingness, but what was most amiable as a creature, thought he had nothing to do but just to get the instruction required from One so evidently marked by grace, and to sail with full sails in race and willingness, as he was, into the enjoyment of eternal life. He had mistaken the whole matter; his nature was all wrong; the hardness of that did not come into his calculation. Conscience was unawakened - the only real instructor of the state of all things, because, when taught of God, it knows it in itself. "Good Master," saith he, "what shall I do to inherit eternal life?" What a willing mind! would we have said. How encouraging, and amiable! How to be drawn on in such a course! There was ignorance of the first principles of truth now brought to light. He knew nothing and speaking only under the delusion of the enemy, though in the amiableness of the flesh, he knew not himself. The Lord stops him quite short. He came to Him as a Teacher, setting Him up Jewishly as such, in this ardent flow of youth. "Why callest thou me good," says Jesus; thus casting all this hope down in the young man's estimate of himself, and goodness - he must reject it all. It would have been contrary to God. "There is none good but God." Had He answered to the young man's mind and question, Jesus would to him have denied the first principle of truth, the very point the young man needed - we ALL need. The law had said, "This do, and thou shalt live," but it included all. The young man, taking this principle on the assumption of his own goodness (which, if it had existed, could not have wanted the law) not the conviction of sin by it, asks what the good thing is that he should do, seeing Christ's holy wisdom and walk. The Lord, having stated the principle that none was good but God, takes the second table, so-called, and proposes these commandments to him. The young man, anxious to evince his desire to do right, and his avidity for eternal life as proposed as a portion of God for the soul, arrests the Lord with the answer: "All these have I kept from my youth." There was something exceedingly amiable in all this - it may be without knowledge of himself, but this alacrity of heart - the flowers of a weed are often fair, and if they bear no fruit it, as to nature however fallen, God, who has so clothed the grass, He who made it and could look with that separated eye of goodness which could rise over the sin, and separate the creature in His own holiness, could recognise this. His heart was not unaffected by it; looking upon him, He loved him. It was very attractive. It is not to be above sin always to be occupied with the evil; he who lives in his mind in good, will congenially recognise the good handiwork of God, marred and ruined as it may be and is. It was the same thing, the same intimacy with what good was which made the Lord say: "There is none good but God," and love the young man. Nor did the ignorance of his judgment arrest, but rather draw out the compassionate love of the Saviour. Still He did not fail to apply the probe: "One thing thou lackest. He must know his own heart. Of this he knew nothing, and nothing really of God in the claim he had on it. Outward evil to his neighbour he had not committed, and there was no doubt of his natural sincerity. It was the fairest possible specimen of the natural man in the flesh under the law. It had no common term, amiable as it was, with the kingdom of God. That, in discovering the heart, and going deeper than nature's judgment, bringing in God, good indeed, but alone good, found and demonstrated all sinners. There may then be the fairest natural exercises of heart, fulfilling in responsibility that in which we stand related to man, but when it comes to a question of the soul with God, and a heart resting on Him, according to His estimate of things all may be wanting. For this point the Cross is the test. In self-relinquishment, "Go, sell all that thou hast, and give to the poor." The principle of selfishness must be got rid of, and be replaced by love, "And you shall have treasure in heaven." Here the real character of the desires was tried. "And come, follow me"; here, the giving up the glory, honour, judgment of the world entirely closing with this plain truth, taking up thy cross - that is where I am leading hearts here, at least it is all I can put before them. If they prefer Me, it is in following Me they will find this. Thus love, heavenly-mindedness, attachment to Christ, and by and in that giving up and despising the world and its judgment, taking up the cross - these were the things proposed. And the young man, who outwardly was righteous enough - that was not the thing wanting - went away; he was grieved at that, and "went away sorrowful," for he had great possessions. That one thing contained in his heart the opposite of all Christ proposed - love, heaven, Christ despised, and the cross.

310  - 18. This verse seems strange to some minds, but we are apt to take words from Scripture out of connection. The fact is they strike precisely at the moral root of the whole evil in the young man's mind as regards his internal moral judgment, or rather blindness. And see Griesbach's text of Matthew 19:17: "Why askest thou me about the good? One is good." See note on Psalm 16.*

{*"Notes and Comments," Vol. 3, p. 70.}

There was doubtless gracious acceptance dispensationally. As far as he went, the man was seeking goodly pearls, but he was not prepared to sell all things for a pearl of greater price; it is knowledge of its value when brought before us leads to this - men rest upon the language; see Matthew 19, in thus case, "If thou wouldest enter into life, keep the commandments."

311  - 21. Lo, the fruit of the Lord's love! Does it pre-eminently show (except the coveting, which was a question of the power of grace) the man had kept, in act, all the commandments, and lacked one thing, which one lacking kept him out of the Kingdom of heaven? I see not what they gain by such a testimony as this. It is hardly necessary to observe that it is not "What must I do to be saved?" The force of the passage is as simple and plain as possible. Two things are wanted - apprehension of the Object, and faith in the power of the offerer; they will be found practically identical.

- 27. I cannot doubt the Lord's answer refers to those words among themselves, which drew our Lord's look upon them: "Who then can be saved?" "All things" - what ground does this set it upon? And then recollect, "All things are possible to him that believeth."

The principles of the Kingdom were now coming more clearly out, and its heavenly character; none therefore good but God; heavenly-mindedness, suffering with Christ, and taking up the cross, love to the despised poor, characterising it here. And the disciples were now to be accustomed to this; their Master was now really Jewishly rejected. They must be familiarised with, and instructed in the new principles of the Kingdom. Looking about upon His disciples, He said: "How hardly shall they that have riches enter into the Kingdom of God!" It is not in the shape of eternal life or salvation it is put here, though both may be involved, because in that light it is pure gift; but here, because of its nature and character, for the actual hindrances acting upon men's minds on its proposal, are noted of God - a warning and deep instruction to His saints. He cannot, and we may say that in every sense, compromise His principles for man's passions; He could not in them be called their God. To a Jew He was their God in riches in their basket and in their store, but their sin - the sin of all men in truth - brought out in His hand deeper truth. The detection of sin by the law then was the last thing the flesh thought of in it. The disciples were themselves astounded with the idea that one with the best advantages, and favoured most, fairest to the eye of the flesh, could hardly enter into the Kingdom they had before them. It baffled their thought, and the Lord answered them to bring down to their apprehension as children, their childish thoughts. Yet in His gracious affection, yet with much deeper rebuke to them - for grace ever rebukes most deeply, for it is not in anger, but puts the pure evil in its true light - "How hardly shall they that trust in riches enter into the Kingdom of God." Now it was evident, though perhaps in ignorance, the flesh still having such influence over their minds, that they did by their astonishment. It gave the cause of the difficulty without modifying the statement, and therefore the Lord adds at once, stronger almost than before: "It is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God." It is a strong and solemn statement, and alters the character of the Kingdom wonderfully to men's minds, and stamps it most significantly as contrary to all their thoughts. We have a constant tendency to get practically off this ground. They felt the force of this, that it struck at all human calculations, and said: "Then who can be saved?" The Lord's answer settles the whole question between the flesh, law and grace: "With men it is impossible." There is the whole matter. The most favourable circumstances do not alter this, except in some sense for the worse, because the flesh cherishes them for itself. But then it is not so with God - blessed be His Name - because He can act in creating, changing power, and therefore let us be ever so bad and hopeless, here is our resource, and our hope: "With God all things are possible." There it all rests. It is wholly impossible with man. When God acts, He can do what He pleases. He is wise, holy and powerful to produce His own effects. Here the whole thing rests. It is a change of the very nature of the question - man quite set aside, what he is, what he can do. And then a new thing, God in His own power in grace acting there, what could He not do? How deeply, though as yet little developed, are the principles of the Kingdom brought out in all this passage! There cannot be a more important one as to the nature of the Kingdom - "Who can be saved?" For there it is taught, let a man be ever so lovable, and in all apparent willingness, it comes to nothing when the test is put. Look at that young man, and the solution that it comes to, and all is settled - all to condemn us as ungrateful, and utterly worthless, and to exalt God as alone good, and the only Source of good and blessing to us in our souls. Then, let it be the worst, and He can make them what His own life-giving and communicative goodness produces. So, often we see the last first in this, and first last. The consequences of this principle of grace in the Kingdom then follow here - its introduction into the blessed power of God's grace towards us, and so to the chief of sinners.

[Enough of Mark remains to nearly fill the next part, in which, the Lord willing, it will be continued.]