J. N. Darby.


(Notes and Comments Vol. 6.)

Luke  19

Thus introduced in His character (the Lord that healed and gave sight to Israel in its need) the Son of David, Jesus pursues His way. This was a herald act; it therefore precedes Jericho here, it being said merely: "When he drew near" to it. And He entered and passed through Jericho to have the facts according to their moral order, as we have seen universally in Luke, not their chronological.

- 1, 2. These are not historically subsequent, but having given a fact morally antecedent in character, the gospel proceeds with the succession of events consequent on this character of Jesus. From this out, He acts royally, explains that He was to go, and receive the kingdom, leaving His servants to trade, but in a dignity which might command indeed, but which did not require the reception or the acceptance of man. Zacchaeus stood in circumstances most unfavourable - a publican and rich. But the Lord, as King, chooses where He will go, whom He will favour, always indeed as the moral Servant of the Father, but as King in Israel who brings salvation by His royal presence, and honours in His house, as the true Restorer, a publican if He sees good, being a son of Abraham. All was in disorder, but His good pleasure set in its perfection, acting from itself, all things right. In Jericho the accursed, but the entry of Israel, He chooses a publican, to go and dine there uninvited. He acts as King, and brings salvation to the house, but Israel was all in disorder. Zacchaeus pleads his full action on the righteous principle of Israel - he restored fourfold, gave the half of his goods to the poor. It was all well, in a sense, a good feeling that is, he desired the approbation of Jesus, and Jesus having gone there, Zacchaeus, really good and just in his conduct, would cover his shameful position as a Jew in society by his ways. It was a great mixture, but the Lord puts it all out of place, the bad and the good together, saying: "This day is salvation come to this house." The grace of God brings salvation. Conscience was awake, many fruits followed; he desired to see Jesus, what and who He was. But he was placed all wrong. Neither were of importance. When salvation comes, it brings its wealth, and its all, and sets aside the goodness and the wrong position alike, by the one word of what it is. It brings, and not finds what it seeks. Zacchaeus was despised of the Jews, and the readier therefore to receive Jesus. It is always good for us to be despised humanly. The Lord knew him, His poor wandering sheep, by name, goes to him in this despised state, a publican and a sinner, and brings him salvation. The multitude thought a prophet ought to preserve his character. But the Son of David, the Lord, had no need of character from the world; He had His own, and He showed it in this, for He acts in perfect grace and condescension, but as the Lord in royalty. Still as in reference to Jews, he was a son of Abraham, owning, clinging to, they were His gift to His Beloved, their privileges, but never losing this character of grace (but His life, because He held fast these two things together) the Son of man is come to seek and to save what was lost. Royal grace and human service found their place together. And as the blind man had heralded Him Son of David, He makes Himself a Servant, but in the lordship and power of grace. But grace thus presented, or the highest privilege presented in grace, puts under the extremest responsibility to it in grace, a last resource; and this was Israel's case now. But the Lord fully knew all the result, and before presenting Himself as Messiah, Son of David, come in the Name of the Lord, gives an account of how in a higher way that it might be heavenly, and of the Father, He would receive the kingdom, and what would be the lot, whether of the servants to whom He trusted His goods in His absence, or His enemies who refused to have Him for their King. And, having thus let in the scene of His rejection, shown it was in no uncertain spirit, but the spirit of knowledge as of grace, and of full warning to them to whom He went, He proceeds to make His royal entry into Jerusalem, that the unhappy city might come under the full guilt of having rejected their King.

284  - 7, 8. I cannot help considering this as presenting the Lord's view and judgment of one esteemed by the world evil, and presenting an example on the highest authority of one who in secret and in unfavourable circumstances was under holy influences, and seeking right, without gospel revelation, who came to the light that his deeds might be made manifest that they were wrought in God, who, seeking to walk acceptably, was rejoiced to receive One whom he supposed and who appeared to be of God, and the Light of the world, and opened out all his ways to him, desirous to approve himself to Him, and have His judgment. A holy purpose! He was, however, as is manifest, short of salvation. Observe then that our Lord, without reproving his account of himself, for it was not cold self-righteousness, and it was before others, gives him the true consolation and comfort, declaring that salvation was come to his house that day, putting him therefore on the only true ground of acceptance. He is silent as to what he had done, but gives him full assurance, and declares the acceptance of his person as a son of Abraham, and so manifested and acknowledged by Him to them all. And hence the change of autos (he). When speaking of salvation, He addresses Himself to Zacchaeus, and in speaking to him is silent as to claim or worth, stating salvation to be come to him then, and indeed to one lost. In addressing them, He owns him fully in the character of highest worth in their eyes, and his genuine excellence. The same was our Lord's way with the woman in Simon's house. He draws out the features of internal excellence in the sinner - there, no doubt, by grace - to the shame of the self-righteous, and throwing the robe of His comforting favour and acceptance in the presence of others over the shame of their nakedness, as it were, of character, while not concealing that they are lost and sinful, He does it, but as the sphere of exercise of His own inimitable, considerate love.

285 Here we have an interesting and new exhibition of character, and our Lord's judgment on it. That He knew what was in Zacchaeus is evident, and called him from this knowledge, for the showing forth the divine glory, wisdom, and compassion, for our instruction and knowledge of His ways, as for the blessing of poor Zacchaeus, cannot be doubted. How calculated too was His conduct to meet the anxieties, and draw out the confidence of Zacchaeus! How full of grace in itself! How prompt to the secret workings of his mind, known better as to what they were than by himself, and calculated to put down with authority the pride of the others, and to exhibit the work of God in himself in its true and genuine character. The expression "stood" (statheis) shows the anxiety of Zacchaeus, and his absorption into his own enquiries, and his full idea that Jesus could solve them, which He did with the perfect wisdom we have seen, as if He had said: 'Be at peace, see here salvation.' Perhaps "stood" means "standing up." I think if it had been a new resolve it would have been unbecoming, and the Lord's answer seems to be a sort of return for it.

- 11. Their thoughts were fixed on an earthly and present kingdom. The Lord reveals it heavenly as flowing from the Father, and an interval of responsibility of service, meanwhile, until He returned in the power of it. For the expectation was rife of this kingdom, and the Lord had acted on this thought, increasing its force and weight. In the thoughts, evidently there was something extraordinary in His presence, and power, and ways. Jerusalem was the centre to them of this thought naturally, and justly in a certain sense. It was the city of the great King. The Lord therefore explains the heavenly nature and character of His kingdom, for, in the rejection of Messiah, the Lord had provided for the introduction of better, higher, and heavenly things, holy things which presented His divine nature, and communion with it directly. For the veil thereof was to be rent, but at the same time not as though He took the kingdom, i.e., exercised it while far off. He was to receive it and return. Also the kingdom which Jesus takes, and thus exercises, He does as Servant, at least as received as Man, however divine glory may be discovered by the Father having given all things into His hand, and His coming from God, and going to God. In the fulness of the character of these things, in itself revealed by the admission of man, the veil rent within, yet qua kingdom He receives it and exercises it as God and King, as having it as Man under Him, that God may rule by Him. Jehovah has put all things under His feet. Yet God has provided in the intermediate dispensation by the cross, for the full revelation of what He is, that we may go to the Source, and morally enjoy it.

286  - 13. Here we have the disciples then sent of Jesus after His death.

- 14. Evidently here the Jews, His countrymen. It is said that they sent a message after Him, because He had not taken the kingdom here. But He having gone, and sent the Holy Ghost, who proposed His return, on their owning Him, in the kingdom and glory, they refuse this message of the Spirit, and after His departure declare that they will not have Him, send, as it were, a message to insult God in the rejection of His Son. These therefore were gone all wrong. But the servants also were placed under responsibility; they were set to serve. And here it is specially responsibility and fidelity. It is not, as in Matthew, difference of gifts, and that according to the vessel too, prepared, showing the administration of God, and the grace of His wisdom. A grace which, understood, was the cause (source) of action, but a common responsibility. And that suffers in the smallest thing which may concern the Lord, and a reward proportioned to the faithfulness, I say not 'merited by,' for the faithfulness itself even is by grace, and the reward is of grace beyond all possible proportion with the work.

- 17. En elachisto (in the least). But the rewards proportioned inter se to the fidelity, not each individually to the fruit produced. "Ten cities" bore no proportion to being faithful with a mina*. It was evidently favour, but ten to him who had gained ten, five to him who had gained five, had a mutual proportion to the fidelity and labour. The great point here is grace valuing the favour of the Lord, and introducing, in grace and by grace, the sense of responsibility, and the desire to be well-pleasing to Him, and so to labour with what is confided to us for Him. The mina* was the Lord's also, not theirs. That which was theirs, through grace, was service with the mina* through living fidelity to Him who had given it, and was absent. The third did not waste, did not make away with, nor prove unfaithful to the trust of the money, but he was not faithful to the confidence which the trust implied. Why give him money to put in a napkin? Want of confidence in the Lord always deprives of spiritual intelligence, as confidence in Him is the source of it. But we are so close in relationship and responsibility to God, that if we have not a gracious and good character of Him, we always form a wicked and a false one. The responsibility, however, exists whether or no, and if He returns in the glory of His power, and if we have formed a strong idea of His severity and exaction, why have we not laboured, or at least acted accordingly? In a false character formed of God, there is always the grossest inconsequence of conduct, for it is false in the heart, and responsibility is neglected, self coming in. Where grace is not understood, all the conduct flows from a deceitful lie in the heart.

{*Mina, translated 'pound.'}

287  - 21. "For I feared thee" (ephoboumen) is the word of a naughty and unfaithful heart, of a bad conscience. The Lord judges on the conduct due, on the estimate formed by the heart itself. On its own showing, the responsibility existed, the talent was there; where was the consequent conduct? All the acquisition of spiritual competency remains, and even is added to in those that have been faithful. In the unfaithful, the boon bestowed is taken away. They had it not in relation with God whence all its power and force flowed. Having judged first His servants, as is the case with the Lord towards us, He then judges the Jews, His energies, who would not have Him reign over them.

- 27. "Before me," for it is on His return, and the sentence of His indignation in His presence. Thus having said, He drew near to Jerusalem, still going on towards the devoted city.

- 31. Jesus still acts on His supreme and holy Lordship, knowing, directing and having all things at His command; the wills - for His people shall be willing in the day of His power, and this was a brief demonstration of what He was and His rights - of men. "The Lord hath need of it." All the wills of the people, by this divine influence, burst forth on this occasion, every demonstration of their joyful recognition. It was a wonderful scene, the meek and lowly Jesus, still meek and lowly, no forced pomp to demand honour from the careless, but a divine influence pervading all hearts. Himself in wonted meekness and lowliness, the object of universal recognition and praise, for He had done all things well. Divine influence which wakes, and gives memory, the stubborn and forgetful heart, gives it spring in taking off the load of selfishness. Gratitude in mindfulness of innumerable benefits, sense of divine presence in the Messiah, which awakens the sense of the Source of it all, concur to give life, to raise, and to sound loud the chord of praise thus struck by the presence of Jesus. For what incidents in His life, and how far deeper the truth than all these incidents, they were but as the tops of the rocks which. reaching to the everlasting depths of the sea, were the occasion of the expression of its force in awakened majesty on the surface. Man saw it then, and feared and honoured; but thought taught of God pursues it into the infinitude of what it, as hidden though, thus revealed. But for a moment all was awakened in joy and recognition, the gleam of divine Jewish truth ere the sunset, and the sad night-storm came on. All was calm, but prognostic of far other things. Over against long loved Jerusalem, thus in mercy visited, the sound of praise awoke - awoke to the city plunged in the deepest slumber of unbelief. What a work was here too of Jesus! As far as man's mere heart, that gained; but there must be a new life, and divine power to rescue it from the power and dominion of Satan. Yet it was an evident divine influence at the time, thus distinguishing clearly between a divine influence on the natural man, which may exist to any, the greatest possible extent, and the giving of life from above. This is eternal. But I know of no limit to the extent of the other except life that is not there at all, but to the action of the Holy Spirit, of divine agency, on what is there. It was not properly the Holy Spirit here, i.e., according to the force of the New Testament, and therefore was a reparable departure, quoad hoc. It operated in a Jewish form, recognised Him with Jewish though divine joy as a Jewish Messiah, because of the mighty deeds which He had done. It was the King who came in the name of the Lord. God was the object of their praise. Messiah was the presentation of His power in their favour.

288  - 38. The King coming in the name of the Lord inspires this principle, for they spoke under the enthusiasm of divine influence, that they on earth no longer subject to the consequence of wrath and malediction above, to the malice of Satan who had title of accusation against them. Peace was in heaven, for the King could appear. It was not a temporary peace of patience on repentance, but all was at peace above, for the King, the full testimony of favour and divine complacence, the accusation of evil removed, all peace in the divine thoughts towards them was actually here. It was not peace produced by grace acting towards us here, peace on earth, but a Jewish thought that God was at peace with them fully. A rest of peace above, and therefore they had the Messiah, for God was at peace with them. Heaven, no longer tormented with the witness of evil, Satan cast down and incapable, no cloud there, the odour of rest before Jehovah, before God. The odour of (hannikhoakh, rest) had been presented, met the thought of their minds as to its effect; "And I will no more curse" the consequence. Therefore I say 'the enthusiasm of divine influence,' for it was not the new man taught by the Holy Spirit in full holy, calm knowledge. How many sighs, and how much sorrow of heart over Jerusalem had been the effect of that! But the conclusions of joy and delight, which flowed from the impression of the fact of Messiah being there by divine influence, conclusions true abstractedly, but which showed no divinely taught knowledge of the real state of things. Yet the praise most right, for it was not the moment for that knowledge in them. And in the divine counsel and will it was so, for the just glorifying of the Son of God, and the judgment on the blind and wilful of His rebellious and obstinate people follow. Christ represented this full and perfect love, and the calm perfection of a knowledge full of sorrow. Was their joy then wrong? No! It would not be realised. It was ignorant, for they knew not what the rebellion of the heart of man was, but righteous, in this sense God owned it. The stones would have cried out to honour Jesus, if these had not. Yes, the stones, for honoured He must be even then, the Son of God in the midst of despite could not pass without receiving honour, seeing what He had suffered, done, was. It could not be otherwise. There would have been a claim of righteous honour crying out, which must be answered. It was not to be accomplished, it is true, but owned, and in this righteous dignity the Lord proceeds now. He does not lose His lowliness personally the least, but He was not hiding to be able to serve, and as a Servant that God only might be honoured, and His full moral character produced, but Himself presenting Himself in the dignity of His Person, Jehovah, King, acting on the hearts of His disciples and the people, the sign of divine presence, however blind the rest, and in this relation presenting Himself to Jerusalem and the governors among the people, to the nation. It was a marvellous scene, remembering who and where it was.

290 But to Pharisee all God's glory was wrong, and he alone right, and the orderer and watch of what was right. The stones would have had more sense than he, for they would not have resisted God. But if joy and praise were among the multitude, under this influence, which were with Him, tears were His portion. What a singular contrast! The only righteous, and rightly influenced, shouting for joy, and yet Jesus weeping! How is this? Alas! it is continually so. The intelligence of divine things will ever give sorrow while man is before us, till divine accomplishment is come, and the time of deepest sorrow when those who rest on the impression of the moment are fullest of joy, for it is the impression of what might abstractedly be of the true blessing of the moment, and the very thought of this gives force to the consciousness, which needs yet no contrast that it cannot be because man is. Was it a false joy? Oh, no! The stones would have cried out, but it was joy for that which the nation and city would spue out, and reject, and hate. It added to sympathy and love, bitterness on reflection; when Jerusalem presented it to Jesus, tears. So when the conversion of the world is announced, and hearts rejoice in it, is it a false joy? By no means. Far from it. It should be so abstractedly. It is due to Christ's love. The power of God is there. The Lord rouses and influences His disciples, but the more one is convinced that power is in the Spirit, that it is the debt of this dispensation, that we must look to the Spirit for it, the more, if we understand the real state of things where the Church is, the more shall we be plunged in sorrow and humiliation. The Lord direct our hearts, in faithful testimony, to the end in energy and love, yet with all depth of intelligence of the real case of the rejection and neglect, that the Church has not persevered in the goodness of God, and will be cast off, yea, spued out of Christ's mouth, the righteous Judge in the Churches in indignation and offended grace, and follow His heart who went on with all the means, though in the certainty from the beginning, where all would end. For harvest of joy according to the perfection of God, there will be, but man will not have it now. Better to sow in tears and reap in joy, when Jesus shall joyfully, and in measure according to His joy, for He had it in that which the Lord gave Him by the way, than to sow with apparent joy, and the harvest be a heap in the day of sorrow. He did drink of the brook, but it was in humiliation. It was just that secret joy received in humiliation to continue His labour, dependence on, refreshing thankfulness for refreshing received in entire humiliation of will. He drank of it in the way. Later He will lift up the head. Oh, for a spirit to follow Him!

291 What interest the Lord takes too in all the particulars of her sorrow! If indeed the righteous indignation of the Lord was upon her, He is afflicted in all her affliction. He counts and treasures up her tears. He thinks, as His servants touched by His Spirit after, upon her stones, and it pitieth Him to see her in the dust. Oh, "If thou hadst known, at least," all would have been pardoned then - "in this thy day" - what a day for Israel! For if all her sin was accumulated, all grace was accumulated too by virtue even of that, and the divine tenderness, but, alas! to sum up, Jesus', if not Jerusalem's, His beloved's sorrows. Now they were hid from their eyes. No! the joy and acclamation, just joy and acclamation of His disciples gave occasion to, rather than wiped the tear of Jesus. He justified it indeed. It was righteous, but He knew the truth. A Mary Magdalene, or a thief on the cross carried Him farther, beyond what was to fail, and ministered comfort and joy to a dying Saviour, for it was grace. Owning His royalty was right, but led to tears; but preparations for His burial in love, and the confession of a brigand, carried Him on into a paradise where sin and man in ruin were not, into the depth of divine grace. All as to Jerusalem hung on this: "Thou knewest not the time of thy visitation."

The next thing the Lord does is, with just indignation, to purge the temple, indeed He went out to Bethany, and returned, and did this on the morrow. But here it was the morally consequent act, the judgment pronounced of the King entered. God's house was a house of prayer; that was its moral character, not of sacrifice. It was not thus God designated His house, though that were done there, but in grace to need of those that had need. Where His presence and ear was was a house of prayer, where all wants were told to God, and He was there the Depositary of all grief and all need; and they had made it a den of thieves. Note it is the sin against the gracious character of God that the Lord notes as the sin against the temple of God. His charge is very general: "Ye have made it." For all evil thus permitted, and gone along with, is really common guilt on all, for the heart allows and concurs in it. But the spirit which lusts to envy soon showed itself. The people, who were nobody, gladly heard; they had no reputation, and externally they sought the good, but the chief priests, scribes, and principals of the people, the chiefs of religion, learning, specially religious learning, and of place or power, sought to get rid of Him. It was natural they should, for He was true, and all their state and place was false, and they traitors to what was of God in it, using the divine honour of it to their own glory. To the people, good was good, because they needed good; to the rulers, and priests and scribes not, because it displaced their pretensions, detected their hypocrisy, and wounded their pride. Yet Satan had power over all this, one and the other, for it needs an absolute and real deliverance to be out of his power, an actual deliverance of God. God working in us to set us free, by making Himself the only Object. Otherwise, the habits of religion and pre-eminence rest in force over the mind, and, though convinced in conscience that Jesus is true and the Lord, there is no power to resist what has power over the flesh, for the life which emerges from out of it all, strengthened in the Holy Ghost, is not there. The time was not yet come for Him to be offered up, and He was there in the dignity of His untouched Person till the full time of divine counsel was come, that the people might have the full witness and testimony of grace and perfectness, and the iniquity of the rulers and great men ripen to its conclusion and accomplishment. The position, and total want of conscience, and selfishness, in His rejection, of their rulers and religious authorities, is brought out in what follows.

292 Luke  20

In truth, what profound iniquity marks their conduct! They had been occupied with their particular interests which Jesus thwarted, but the testimony of John, which they dared not disown, was plainly before them. And how perfectly opposed was their interest with that of the people! Alas! it is ever so. With the interest of souls, of God's people as a mass professedly, always are they the instrument and power of evil, and hindrance of good. They sought nothing but their own credit. But there was One who put them to a loss in their shame. Indeed the question was one of confusion and helplessness. No discernment, no power of judging, nor, if evil as they alleged it, power to hinder it. They come to demand from Him. They condemned what was the source of His power and authority. It assumed indeed authority on their part, but demonstrated total want of power. It also demonstrated their want of interest in, and insensibility to good. A conscience toward God would have honoured the righteous zeal of God's house, love of truth received His teaching, as bowed their hearts too before the testimony of His miracles. But the jealous question: "Who gave thee this authority," marks where all their interest was. Authority ill placed cannot bear power if accompanied by ever so much goodness and truth. But this is the ecclesiastical spirit always, when the spirit of mere service is gone. The Lord appeals at once to their conscience, when they dared not own or disown, and thus rested self-condemned, for this authority is, after all, dependence. It is also of mercy to us that the Lord's appeal puts all question of miracles aside, for John did no miracles, but all he said was true, and wrought in the power and testimony of the Spirit. There was no principle in them confessing their incapacity to judge a matter which concerned the whole nation from God, which all the people bore witness to (because it bore to Him really). The Lord declined to recognise their authority. But in all this there is a much more open taking of a place by the Lord. He does not hide Himself, and go out of the temple; the ministry was ended, the crisis come, and full testimony must be borne. He sits there publicly in the temple teaching, and owns and silences the chief priests and elders when they come to Him, yet never assuming anything, nor giving up His place of meekness, but knowing how to deprive them of all power to act by revealing their real place and nothingness to themselves by themselves, for He had the key of conscience. This is more or less ours according to our measure in the Spirit, so that all our adversaries should be ashamed.

293  - 9. The Lord by presenting a case, in which through want of integrity they had to avow their utter want of capacity to direct the people of God, having entirely set aside these rulers, yet by themselves, assuming nothing to Himself, and refusing nothing in them of which they had the form, but having their own avowal of incapacity, yet as we have seen in a far higher tone than of old, for the time for judgment, the judgment of truth, was come, proceeds to announce to the people the real state of the case, and instruct them, for He could, of the result, and of their conduct, God's judgment of their conduct. Silencing the rulers did not set aside the power of evil, though it might prove the evil, for it was not the time now to vindicate the right, nor execute judgment, though the case was clear. If they did not render the good, nor discern the good, they would seek to get rid of all testimony and claim to it, and make good their security in evil, if they altogether rejected, as they failed to produce, good and righteousness. Their responsibility was thus doubly complete in evil, failure to render, and violent rejection of all claim of God.

294  - 13. What affecting patience! God is, as it were, at a loss how to act, and get at the conscience and heart of those He had so favoured, and by one immense act tries if anything can recall them to a sense of their position, but it did but bring out the evil. "My beloved Son" - the Lord presents what was in God's mind. How He acted from it, and from His estimate, as it were, of such ways, not from the wretched selfishness and rebellion in which the heart of men, of His favoured people, was plunged, in such love to them that He will venture all on the hope to reclaim them, for He loved His people! It was not here question of purpose in the act, though God's character and purpose really go together. He reveals one by the accomplishment of the other. But here it was responsibility flowing (as it ever flows) from the fullest revelation of God's character, acting generously, shall I say, after the manner of men, on the generous expectation or hope of sensibility, capacity to feel in others if not good. "I will send my beloved Son." How should One, perfectly good, estimate the deep malignity of impotent but pure evil and malice? As Judge surely He will and does, but God acts so as to produce, by the real demonstration of His character, the fullest responsibility in that which He presents to man. The life-giving power of His grace is another thing, and is in His hand, and He accomplishes, as He has fully provided for it, in Jesus, His death, His life. But He lays the ground of responsibility acting in love, and that by what has withal the highest claim on our obedience, subjection, affection, and respect - He sends His Son, under this character, His heart going forth in doing it. "What shall I do? I will send my beloved Son." So did God to this unhappy and self-destroying people, whom He had taken from the iron furnace, and now dealt with in the last and highest sources of His patient love. But all in vain; for what is the heart of man? That well of corruption and selfishness, the slave of Satan, and wilful only, in its enmity to God.

295  - 14. "That the inheritance may be ours," characterises the whole principle. It is the source of their ways and action, and so of the world. They reject Him, just as having no right or business in the vineyard, and then kill Him. Necessary judgment follows. They felt the force of this, and, involuntarily, as it were, cry out: "God forbid." Such were none of their thoughts. Poor people! However involved in the ruin and sin, they were far from wishing the results. No! Israel was not thus to suffer, and be set aside. Their heart could look for no such thing; it dung, in fond though untrue associations, round the name of their glory. "The vineyard given to others" rung upon the heart of a Jew. The Lord felt this, entered into this awakened feeling, this involuntary "God forbid." His heart echoed this in a sense, and He fixed His regard upon them. "Looking upon them," He said, "What is this then that is written, The stone which the builders rejected is become the head of the corner?" Is it not prophesied that the builders will do thus? They had not denied the justice of the conclusion, but its character had produced, when presented to them, the shock expressed in the exclamation. The Lord from the word, they thus now susceptible, proves the fact on which that judgment hung. He adds on the authority of His own, now judging, word, for He plainly declares things to them at this period; it was faithfulness, needed faithfulness at such a period. "Everyone falling on that stone shall be broken, but on whomsoever it shall fall it shall grind him to powder." A general and full statement abstractedly accomplished in more than one instance. The Lord in the plainest terms declares the judgment now on His rejection, for everywhere He appears as the Superior. He who fell on the Stone, this Stone of stumbling, would be broken, as many did then, the nation did then. They stumbled at the stumbling Stone. On the individuals who rejected, the Stone fell. And so at the end, wherein also the apostate Gentiles will have part, and a chief part. It was a general principle, destruction, judgment, breaking to pieces as to their actual condition, if they stumbled at it, as the nation did in their ignorance. But when Christ fell in judgment as on that race, as on the anti-Christian confederacy, and specially anti-Christ himself, and the false prophet, it should be utter confusion and ruin. Thus presented as Messiah, the Lord, the King, Satan would seek to entangle the Saviour in questions of the supremacy of Caesar. All wickedness was in the question, for he used the extent and effect of their guilt (which they resisted in pride) to entangle and destroy the righteous. The subjection of God's people to Gentiles was indeed an evil, but who had brought them there? But at least they thought He should offend against Caesar, or lose His reputation with the people. They saw clearly the parable was against them, while the people only cared for the sorrowful announcement, in a certain sense with a just, at least natural feeling. We see their object, the object of these wicked men. They could not take hold of His words before the people. May grace give holy and just influence over the people! It is the only holy resource against the authority and subtlety of the leaders of a system opposed to God. It was this in service to God, and not attacking them which distinguished the Lord, and the apostles too. Satan humbles himself, that the bands of the poor may fall into the hands of his captains (Psalm 10:10), and the Lord's servants may at least do the same in grace, that they may be delivered. The wisdom of the Lord's answer is too obvious to need comment. He was not come then to deliver the nation from Caesar. He could not, for they rejected Him. In adding: "The things of God to God," they were condemned in all their ways, while in saying: "Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar's," He left them in the position into which their guilt and sin had brought them, and where their guilt kept them; for how delivered from Caesar, when they rejected Messiah, the Son of the Most High, their God, come in mercy and lowliness to enter into their sorrows? Was He to deliver, according to their mind, rebels, to sanction them in their rebellion? That were not mercy, for it was rebellion against God their Lord and Saviour. He leaves, therefore, the nation, and leaders in their condition, only fully warning the people.

296 It is interesting to observe the constant use of this term: "The Stone" relative to the Lord; it is consecrated to this purpose. In Isaiah 28 we have Him declared to be the Stone laid in Zion, foundation and judgment against the evil Jews who made their alliance with Antichrist and evil. In chapter 8:14, He is the Sanctuary, but a Stone of stumbling and rock of offence. In Psalm 118, as here cited, His rejection by the builders of the Jews, and exaltation. In Zechariah, He is the Foundation of the Lord's house in the all-discerning purity and vigilance of the Spirit. Trace also there "eyes of the Lord," which here form part of the foundation, for otherwise, if the perfect discernment of evil and righteousness were not there, how should He maintain the foundation of Jehovah's house, and receive Jehovah's blessing? Here, because He had this, He is rejected by the builders, for they were judged, for indeed it tried all things. In Zechariah 4:7, 9, 10, as Headstone, we find the house by the same finished. In Daniel 2, as we have seen it, a Stone of judgment, as of stumbling for Israel, and also of foundation and blessing. It is ever as the Stone of judgment on the whole Gentile power. Here, in Luke, it falls on Jews at least; it is put generally "On whomsoever" as on Gentile. In Peter, though writing to Jews indeed, yet in them, familiar with this type or symbol of Christ, we find it the Foundation in them of the Church, and we withal however living stones built on it, for there is always this difference.

297  - 20, et seq. We have in these passages, not, as in Matthew, a successive judgment of the different classes of Israel, but a clear transition from the Jewish system and estate to the heavenly economy and privileges. Having pronounced the judgment on the husbandmen, and declared what the power of the rejected Stone would - they, understanding the application, for judgment reaches the conscience of the wicked, send instruments to entangle Him in His speech before the people. His answer, which left them silent, was however of the last importance. It left the subjection of Israel to the Gentiles entirely where it was; a fact of the greatest possible importance, allied to the rejection of the King Messiah. But in few and simple words, they are left there. They had rejected Him, and He broke His staff, and the poor of the flock would understand that it was the word of the Lord. And it rescued the things of God entirely from the question of Caesar's power over the Jews. This was a fatal judgment for them, for all their relation and association with Messiah, their Jewish hopes, did hang on this deliverance, and the things of God, on Jewish principles, demanded nationally national deliverance. But the staff was really broken, and He owned them not at all. They, in their madness, loathed Him, and His soul abhorred them. In the bitterness of their need and darkness, they, unhappy people, had, with more truth than they were aware of, to cry out: "We have no king but Caesar," and they pronounced therein their own judgment. It was an awful thing for a Jew to say.

298 After the setting aside thus of the Jewish economy, there is the introduction of the resurrection economy of fellowship with the Lord, or the state of that world and the resurrection - children of God and children of resurrection. And then, after some of the scribes owning the power of the truth in His word, at least with their understanding, and all being now hushed by the wisdom of Him who spake as never man spake, surely it was so, the Lord takes up, in an allusion to one of their own scriptures, not merely the state of the raised faithful, but the nature of the intervening economy as to its basis, before the judgment of the Jewish people, Jehovah saying to David's Son and David's Lord: "Sit on my right hand till I make thy foes thy footstool," revealing the state of the risen, and intimating the position of Messiah, and the ground of the delay of judgment: "Sit on my right hand till." He proceeds then, notwithstanding the applause of the scribes, to the separate instruction of His disciples, beginning with warning against them, though perhaps there might even be a remnant there also.

- 27. It is evident that the Sadducees connected the resurrection with the letter of the Jewish economy. When the pain of its introduction is over, man's heart which loves a large self, and that which attaches itself to his position, attaches all to the economy in which his glory is. It is not the Word, or the revelation of God to the conscience, but the lazy honour of circumstances, in which we are, which requires no faith. The Lord transplants it at once into another economy and dispensation, and the difference between the two is distinctly marked. There was a great general principle; "this world," and the introduction of the resurrection kingdom and glory (by the rejection of Jesus by the Jews) threw necessarily all the Jewish system, as the Gentiles, into a common "that world." It belonged to this life, this nature, this world and its principles. But there was "that world" to which the resurrection from amongst the dead belonged, which stood in the power and nature of a quite other life. Those who had title to it were children of God, being born by the power of resurrection, the energy of the divine life communicated through Him in whom was life, whom death could not hold, but who had power to lay down and to take up. Both demanded the same power of the Life of God.

299 There was a world for the fallen Adam, heir of death, and interests, and principles which belonged to it. There was a world for the Second Adam according to the principles, and objects, and character of that power of life which was manifested in His resurrection, and in which what was suited to One that had passed into it by the condemnation of His death, the annihilating by His death of all that flesh was heir to, and in a new life which had no association with the springs of joy of fallen Adam - suited to the risen Lord, and His co-heirs through grace would be found. They also are children of resurrection. Fallen man cannot be child of God. Innocent man there is none. All must be begun afresh by that which justified all of God in the condemnation of the old, told the truth of its state, and yet produced those who were subject to it, according to the energy of Him who had removed every defilement in the power of a life which necessarily had its own character and its own desires. A new world, and a Second Adam were needed to accomplish the glory of God in a benevolence and excelling worthy of Him, and that Adam must be His Son, for who else could it be? And that world, and that Adam were in resurrection, and children of God in a higher, better, infallible shape.

The only question which arises on it at all is what room it leaves in its testimony for the existence of men in the flesh during the period of "that world," and it does not seem to me to touch that question. On the other hand, the state of the departed as the final state of the believer is entirely negatived by this passage. The existence of man is adduced as proof of the necessity of his resurrection, and while this continued existence is asserted as life not to man visibly indeed, but to God, the idea of that state as a recognised state of continuance is not even supposed. Moses intimated the resurrection in saying God was the God of Abraham, when Abraham was, according to man's thought, dead. A Sadducee saw nothing beyond this life. The word of the Lord revealed another, but it was a resurrection one, not a vague, uncertain continuance of something which continued already, but of which the continued existence of those who were dead before God was the pledge and proof. And this was owned in the word of the Lord: "I am the God of Abraham." Further, the Lord intimates that this was no extraordinary revelation of the prophets, no peculiar effect of a dispensation now introduced, though this might be avowedly based on the truth now revealed. It was not only a truth, but the economy was based on this truth, for man in his state of nature was treated as lost. It rested on the primary revelation given to the people of God, when the relation in which He stood towards those first called out from the world was revealed. Moses intimated it. It lay at the root of all Israel's real hopes, for Abraham, Isaac and Jacob could not participate with Israel in the hopes of Israel, unless they were raised from the dead. In sending Moses to call Israel out of Egypt, God declares that He is the God of Abraham, etc., thus indicating that the promises of God rested for accomplishment for a future dispensation, in which these fathers would have part, and consequently there would be resurrection of the dead. The manner and order are not intimated. They might be raised to have part here below, not the same part, but part, or else in the heavenly places, or all might be raised. But this is not entered into here, but the great fact of a relationship with God which stood in a life in the power of resurrection, and this in the very earliest bases of Jewish promise and Jewish hope, the name of God, on which all their hope was based, for indeed they are beloved for the Fathers' sakes. The Law is but entered in by the bye.

300 All heresies touch the foundation when judged by the Spirit of God. That God was the God of Abraham, was the foundation of Jewish hope and Jewish promise. That God was the God of a dead man that did not exist, was folly. If all lived to Him, which was true, yet if it was merely his spirit in heaven, he as a man was under the power of death, and there could be no association whatever with Israel or the promises, and hopes of man thus put separated for God's earthly people. The patriarchs must rise again. It stood, as we have said, as the link of the Name God took, and Israel's hopes. When these hopes were centred in David, the sure mercies of David convey to the mind of the apostle, by the Spirit, the same necessary conviction in its accomplishment in the resurrection of Jesus, in whom these promises were to be fulfilled. Here the necessity of resurrection, and the continuous life which proves and assures it, are mentioned in the same sentence. It is exactly the principle of the apostle in 2 Corinthians 5, though the order be inverse, for here it is the revelation from what God was - there the consequence of what man was heir to and assured of, the nature and ground of his inheritance, and the conclusion drawn to the intermediate life, here from God's nature, and promise, and the intermediate life revealed.

301 Having thus based the promises of God, and that even in their expression to Abraham, or at least as in relation with Abraham when making Himself the God even of earthly hope and earthly promise, the Lord proceeds to lay the foundation of it all in the glory of His Person, which, necessary when searched into, set the glory above the earth, and introduced principles, which were not Jewish, and which in fact had their accomplishment in the rejection of Christ by Israel, accomplishment founded on the plain manifestation of the incapacity of man to be blessed here below in relationship with God, but which had its source and firmness in the divine glory of the Person of the Messiah, making Him capable of sitting on the right hand of God, His perfect accomplishment of His Father's will, and of all the counsel of God in obedience, having glorified God fully on earth, which rendered Him qualified in strict and necessary righteousness to take His place there, and thus while righteously owned meanwhile, prove the case and position of those who had rejected Him who came in the fulfilment of their own hopes and prophecies here below, and by abundant mercies should have attracted the heart of man, let his hope or his ignorance be what it might. But learning, not ignorance, formed the barrier, for Christ made His way to the heart of the ignorant; learning made its difficulties for vanity's sake. To these learned it was that the Lord presented a question which, while it rested on the most important question of their religion, really condemned, or had its accomplishment in their entire condemnation. The Lord cites not this till they are in this state of condemnation, and signalises this state by the citation. It placed Messiah in a heavenly state, the Jews in the place of enemies. While the Lord however proves the entire incapacity of the scribes to instruct the people, by their ignorance of the most important point of the whole system of Jewish truth, He condemns them, as is ever the case, before the people on the plainest points of hypocritical conduct.

302  - 35. This is exceedingly plain. Note also the life of the righteous is evidence of their resurrection, quod nota; therefore their resurrection of their life. This utterly destroys the notion (unbelieving, I think) of those who feign that the souls of the just are not properly alive till the resurrection, and the appearing of Jesus. They are indeed confounding the whole specialty of revelation in this matter, as well as unbelievingly denying the believer's hope, to wit, to be with Christ alive on leaving the body. Also it is expressly affirmed here in the statement of the blessed Lord, "For for him all live," in a distinct and revealing way, in which the "for him" has great force, for indeed they are not manifested. And here we may compare John's discovery in due time of "the souls of those beheaded," Rev. 20:4. Note also, though there we have only those under the Gentile dispensation, here we have both, nay the conclusion drawn from Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, and then laid upon its general necessity, for indeed they deprive the Lord of half His kingdom, or else make Him a God of the dead, who disbelieve that those who are dead are asleep till the resurrection. Nay! but let us rather believe that, whether we die we die unto the Lord, so that whether we live or die we are the Lord's. For indeed the thing could not be, for if we did not live to Him we should never live again, nor be the same persons. And the idea of the soul's sleeping is nonsense. But we believe that them that sleep in Jesus shall God bring with Him. In a word it is mere unbelief.