J. N. Darby.
(Notes and Comments Vol. 6.)
All the wealth which sustained the outward service of God passed for nothing. The Lord looked at the real devoted love of the heart there was to Him, and to His service. There is much to be learned yet from this passage. There may be a very evil system, a system now judged, and a sincere soul minister to it most acceptably, but then the Lord judges not the least according to the system, but according to the principles of that righteousness and grace which distinguish it from the system, and by which the system was even judged and condemned. He knows how to separate the intention of the individual and own it, while by that itself He judges the whole state of that with which the individual is associated. The difference of giving one's living, and one's superfluity, is evident. One may, when self is satisfied, compliment God with presents, and make it minister to self. But she who gives her living gives herself, devoted all to God, and depends on God; the whole is in action towards God, in devotion and in faith. The two mites were the most perfect expression of it, for need and everything to hinder it was there, and the applause of men, and the pride of the donor could find no place here. It was true love to God, and confidence in Him; for Jewish splendour it had little worth.
303 The account which the Lord gives in this gospel of the sorrows of Jerusalem is also much more allied to the simple fact of the judgment on the nation, and the change of economy; consequently, although there be clear reference to what arrives at the end in the latter day, much more to the then present time, and setting aside of Jerusalem than in the other gospels. Certain remarked the beauty and riches of the deposits of the temple. The Lord declared that all these things should be destroyed. This declares the judgment to fall on all the outward wealth of the temple, and the whole outward relationship of God with it, as the smallest act of grace was preferred to it all in what preceded. The question in reply also, here observe, extends itself only to the fact of the destruction, and consequently, in what follows, we have the judgment on the nation taken as a whole from the time of its then destruction till the times of the Gentiles (with whom, or the economy of whom at least, this gospel so much occupies itself) be fulfilled. All is taken together. Jerusalem trodden under foot till then. And indeed otherwise it would have been imperfect, for though to the Jews the existence of Jerusalem and a temple, whatever their infidelity, evidently made the greatest difference, and this will have existed at the two periods of national judgment by the Gentiles, and national judgment with the antichristian Gentiles by the Lord Himself - for so great as that is the difference - yet to the Gentiles all was one long scene in relationship to the Jews. Jerusalem was, is, and will be, then trodden down of the Gentiles till their times are fulfilled, and that by the judgment of the Lord.
We may remark, if the Lord have cast away His delight and desire in the earth, and broke the band, then it is not great marvel if to us it must be broken which nature and habit have formed for our ease, pleasure, or aggrandisement. The manner of the Lord's address is also much more general here - certain said - and though much applies to those that were faithful, the distinction is more between Jews and Gentiles than disciples and Jews. The scribes are denounced as evil, but the nation, the people are addressed as (men) listening. The sign given here is in no wise "the abomination of desolation," a prophetic sign of evil, but an historical fact - Jerusalem encompassed with armies. Its desolation was then nigh. The days of vengeance then had place, and the time of testimony was closed, for there is a difference in the character of tribulation, the trials of the faithful, and the judgment of the evil, and evil-doers - both may be by means of men. With this, though the distinction may require the watchfulness of spirituality, the saints have nothing to do, as is evident. If they eat and drink with the drunken, no marvel if the evil overtake them, even if they be saved so as by fire.
304 The progress towards Jerusalem would be gradual. It would at last be the centre of these operations, but many tumultuous waves would toss in flux and reflux before that, but the end was not immediately. It is not in this gospel said when the end should be, because the precision of the latter days is not entered on, but there was another subject apart. Nation should indeed rise against nation. There would be signs, frightful sights from heaven. But before all these things, there would be hostility against them before Satan would raise up the tumultuous waves of the nations to overwhelm the once-beloved, and by him therefore hated city, left to judgment. He would seek to destroy the testimony which the Lord would certainly send in the devoted country first. But the disciples were to continue notwithstanding all this, or their sufferings, to render their testimony, untroubled by rumours, undismayed even by death, while the unhappy devoted city, where the testimony yet was, filled up the measure of its iniquity; see Matthew 23:32. But the Lord's eye was ever on them; He would permit the trial, but He had counted the hairs of their head, not one of them would be lost. It was a time of appointed trial and testimony. There must be suffering, for they were evil and rebellious. There must be testimony, for He was good. But this from the very nature of it, for it was a final effort of goodness, could not last, and the sign to the disciples that judgment, the time of judgment was now come on His people was, Jerusalem the beloved city now encompassed with armies. Its desolation now approached; they were then to flee, not to return. They were days then of vengeance. All that was written was to be fulfilled. They have not ceased yet, but will have indeed a much more signal fulfilment.
305 - 18. The Lord's mind must have been in a very different world, to say: "They shall kill some of you, but there shall not a hair of your head perish."
I see four instructions very distinctly here, in two distinct parts on two distinct grounds. The first general - the danger of the effect of what passed in seducing or bewildering them. The second, the actual trials or difficulties they would find themselves in; the trials the Remnant were in by their faithfulness, and the trials the nation were in by their unfaithfulness. First, "See that ye be not led astray, for many shall come," etc.; verse 8. Secondly, "When ye shall hear … be not terrified," for "the end is not immediately." "Then he said to them," such and such things will come, but before all these things you yourselves will be in trial and affliction, judged, put to death, but I will assist you. "By your patient endurance possess your souls." Fourthly, "Let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains," etc. "For these are days of avenging," etc. Then the Lord proceeds to pronounce and describe the time of judgment and vengeance. But besides, it was not merely a judgment on the Jews, but on the Gentiles also, for the powers of the heavens, the sources of authority were shaken as in Haggai and Hebrews 12. "The habitable earth" (oikoumene) here is the scene in question, the responsible organisation of the earth before God (the Lord). And then they would see the Son of man coming with power and great glory. Consequently, when these things, terrible to the children of men, began, they should lift up their heads for their redemption drew nigh. For the judgment of the world is the deliverance of the Remnant. When the grounded staff (decreed rod) falls, it is with tabrets and harps.
These things, it seems to me, are in general, i.e., when the signs which marked Jerusalem's judgment, and man's confusion, and efforts, and terror, began to show themselves, they knew the end, and discerned their character. Men were astounded and amazed because they did not see the end, and trembled as they were dragged along to some awful and unknown conclusion. For principles were at work which dragged them, they knew not how, along whether or no. The Lord's coming disclosed all the scene to the believer, the disciple. Redemption here shows clearly earthly disciples, for earthly deliverance by judgment here, not the Church. The Lord in mercy turns the terror of man into a sign of the deliverance of the disciple, for it is terrible to man, to flesh, to see all things breaking down from under it, all props going. The Lord's coming met all, while it separated entirely from all.
306 We have further here a remarkable evidence that the kingdom of God is not the gospel of grace, for when they see all these things, they are to conclude that the kingdom of God is nigh. Whether it be the first destruction of Jerusalem, or that of the latter days, it is evident that the power of the gospel was extended far and wide before either in fact. The manifestation of its influence declined rather from that time, as we see in the later epistles, and in the addresses to the Churches in the Apocalypse. But the things which they saw here were signs like the budding of the trees, and the kingdom of God evidently at the coming of the King, when God Almighty takes His great power and reigns. That there was a partial analogous judgment in the destruction of Jerusalem is true, which introduced the sorrows of the Jews in the time of vengeance, and the treading down of Jerusalem, but it is evident from verses 25-28, that the signs introduce the Son of man in His kingdom. If it be asked, What then is "this generation shall not pass" until all take place? If the whole scene be viewed as one which the Lord does - Jerusalem trodden down of the Gentiles till in fact it was so - as a period, but viewed as one, the generation is viewed as one also, as in Deuteronomy 32, "I will hide my face from them, I will see what their end." The long suspense before their end alters not the position of the generation. It passes in few words in its great character - Jerusalem trodden down - the Lord's face hidden. The Lord has provided for His then disciples in what was needful, but in the written word also for the like times to come. Still, though the principle be always true, it is evident that verse 34 applies to a day coming on the earth - those dwelling on the face of all the land or earth. The privilege is to escape the judgments and stand before the Son of man. This is purely Jewish - before the Son of man coming here below - though the character of the address be more general and discipular, as in Matthew more addressed to Jews, here rather to disciples, though about what should happen to Jews, there to Jewish disciples.
307 - 33. There is much solemnity in this expression. It is evident that deeper interests than a casual change as to Jerusalem, or its capture were in question. But Jerusalem was the beloved city, the city of the Eternal, hedged in by a thousand privileges, sustained by a confidence which rested on these privileges, on ancient hopes, and present prosperity. But what had made it so? The word of the Lord. And His word now judged it with all this fortification of hope to rest in. All passed before the word of the Lord; they were no better than the scoffers in 2 Peter 3. They might be shut up in darker bondage by a carnal confidence in forfeited privileges, for the effect of faith is to discover the sin against privilege, not in sin to reckon on its constancy, but to seek its enjoyment in repentance. But now, in the day of their visitation, they would not, and their prosperity, and their continuance, in which they rested, passed as the cloud of the morning, and found no place, nothing to sustain it. Yet, as Apostle of mercy, the Lord yet returned to give testimony, walking in the day, but His resting-place was as where He was ready to depart, the point whence He went, and where His feet shall stand in that day - patient in service, at night separate from the judged and devoted city.
Thus also with greater ease, now devoted Himself, Judas accomplished the service to which he had given himself up to the chief priests. Thus also by His continual teaching in the temple, His position was forced upon the chief priests and scribes, who became null by the power and authority of His word and presence. It was not a movement for applause, but authority on the conscience. Jesus had not thus put Himself forward before; He had taught when He came up, but had retired and gone to Galilee, to Ephraim, etc., but His time was now come to be delivered up. He stands prominent before Israel, and yet separated from it. The attention of the people was remarkably drawn to His teaching, for everything was evidently drawing to a crisis, and the priests must get rid of Him, if He were not to lead all the people after Him. But the Lord was not to reap His harvest; it had been too poor here. Here this grain was to abide alone, however fully ripe and perfect. But, withal, vast preparation had been made for the manifestation of a people by the Holy Ghost; we are apt to forget this sometimes. But God does all things in their season. But if the influence on man was such as to at once increase the desire and the difficulty to get rid of Jesus, Satan, the hour being now come in which this was permitted, takes his part that the cup of wickedness may be full, and sorrow on either side at the moment of the memorial of God's great deliverance of the people, and this Victim must be offered, which should fulfil and replace for ever that of which the other was but type.
308 Luke 22
- 3. We have here another example of the generality with which Luke speaks as to the dates of circumstances. Satan entered into Judas. This was what was morally necessary here to present; the particularities of it were not so here. Satan put it into Judas' heart at this time, and entered strictly into Judas after he received the sop. The general fact in its full bearing was all that was important here. All this was Satan's own work, whoever the unhappy instrument - one of the twelve - one nearest to Jesus. And then the rulers of the people, under Satan's guidance, agree in the awful crime of this terrible accomplishment of iniquity - it needs not to say anything.
I find yet in the midst of the most perfect abstraction from all worldly acceptance and honour, the Lord, passing into the perfection of His suffering, is enabled, as it were, by being entirely absorbed into those that owned Him from the effect of His patience and lowliness on the people, for they rejected Him, into the counsels of the Lord and God's thoughts concerning Him, to act naturally with the authority and manifested dignity which belonged to His Person, and was the subject of those counsels. The more He is rejected of men, the more He is thrown into God's thoughts respecting Him. It is always the path of faith, sometimes painful but always glorious in result. It depends on what is, for indeed if what is in us is too excellent for that through which we move, it will be rejected and even hated by the spirit which lusteth to envy.
But then God (of whom it is) will give it its place, and so manifest His justice, His righteousness. Grace does this in us; in Christ it was what He really was in Himself. This was also necessary at the end, to vindicate His true glory, and their evil, and make us feel where we are in this scene - this scene which stands utterly alone in heaven and earth, in all ages, and that the light of His true glory, even here below, might be cast upon and give their true colour to the darkness into which He was now entering for sin, but of grace. And what calm and peaceful dignity! It is no effort, nothing to display a character. All yields before the unwitnessed authority of this rejected and despised of men, all but that to which it had been most manifested and revealed, the unrenewed heart of man. How little does the Lord leave His simplicity! And yet in what heavenly and divine dignity is all He needed led to form itself around His will, to manifest His divine knowledge of all things. To this householder there was One, "The Teacher," honoured in his obedience, though unknown; to every eye it seems but One. We have withal these traits at the close of a wider work than was manifested, wrought by the Saviour on earth. It was not His part to reap it here below - the corn of wheat must die - but others did where He had sowed. It is the part of the Holy Ghost to manifest. Christ laid the foundation, and the Lord, by the Holy Ghost, added to the Church. Yet withal it was the Hellenists who first were called in; the dwellers of Jerusalem thereon addressed by Peter.
309 - 14. But now we come to the expression of all the Lord's mind on this scene on His now position, deeply to be weighed. "The hour was come." How the Lord's mind must have been bent upon the subject of His departure, and have felt the weight, and all the importance of it!
- 15, etc. The Lord, it seems to me, distinguishes here between the Paschal lamb and the wine, and both from the institution of the memorial of His deliverance of His people by death. First, He desired to eat the Passover, and He did not partake of the wine. In partaking of the Passover, it was the last and deep testimony of God's faithful love to Israel as His people delivered from Egypt, and the Saviour's entering, in the fullest individual way, into all the feelings of a ransomed Jew before God, the feelings and interests of the people as such. He felt for and with Israel, and that as one of themselves, too, until by His rejection they stood on other ground, and divine favour passed into another scene by the resurrection, and He became the Substitute, Himself the true Paschal Lamb. They rejecting their own mercies, their history, as so received, ended in His death.
310 But He never failed to the end, and that we may add even to the Cross, His enemies had to send a message after Him to countervail the effect of the intercession: "Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do." But His disciples held the foremost rank on this ground of fellowship. They were happy, they His friends among Israel His people, as we have Hushai the king's friend. With them specially He had desired this last testimony of parting affection and love. He had desired it with desire. For while this was blessedly human, yet was it God manifest in the flesh, and it is good ever to remember that there is more desire in Jesus for the communion or expression of His love, for fellowship with us, than in us for it with Him. His heart was with His disciples, and He longed for this last expression here of His affection, His human but real and, in perfection and eternity, divine affection for them He wished to be with, and, as affection ever does, find this occasion of its expression towards them. While He thus expressed His thoughts and feelings in affection to them, He was ever really the Nazarite among His people, and now, externally and painfully yet in the fulness of perfect love, took this character upon Him. Blessings were to be upon the head of Him that was separated from His brethren.
- 18. This verse seems to present distinctly this Nazarite character of Christ, and it seems to me to imply that indeed this was always His character. He, in assuming manifestly this separatedness from sinners, gives us to understand that in truth it was always so. "I will not drink of this fruit of the vine" - 'I cannot have it in joy with you - take the blessedness of that which maketh glad the heart of God and man, here with man in his present state; God's kingdom must come first.' In a certain sense, as to dispensation with the Jews, the kingdom of God had come among them, but in the mind and counsel of God the kingdom of God was not come. Thus, He who was always the Nazarite in spirit and life, becomes avowedly and openly the Nazarite as to the joy of God in this world. It could not be - Oh! how true! as the world was. He had taken His farewell of Jewish sympathies and recollections with His disciples, with the deepest and truest feelings, in this last earthly Passover (He was to be the Passover now). The earthly joy could not be then, and He passes openly into the character of the heavenly Nazarite till the kingdom of God comes. If it be asked: 'Is not the kingdom of God come?' I answer: 'In a certain sense, yes, in Spirit.' And in this sense Jesus dwells with His disciples, and the Father also, and has communion and joy with them, and they, though they see Him not, with Him. They sit in heavenly places in Him. But for the earthly actuality of it, it is evident it is not come, and the joy therefore is not actually fulfilled. This principle of the Nazarite, and the separation from sinners and the earth, is found also in the Hebrews. "For such a High Priest became us, holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, made higher than the heavens." The Lord is manifestly and openly separate from sinners, as He will return the second time: "Without sin." Still in Spirit we know Him perfectly, and as perfectly, and therefore more proved in nature separate from sinners when here below; and hence man and sin in the flesh condemned alike, while those one with Him are eternally and blessedly redeemed for brighter and better scenes, far brighter, better scenes, our hope and joy below. Thus also is the Lord declared "Son of God with power according to the Spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead" - an expression of vast import!
311 The life of God in Man ever before Him, doubly proved by the resurrection, in Him in the power of it, by the Father in the acceptance of Him and all He was, by and in the resurrection, for the life of God is holiness, and power over death. He submitted to it, but it was not possible that He could be holden to it, nor derivatively, as united to Him, may it be for His now. But then the power is in Him, but a power by union; compare 2 Peter : 3, 4, in Greek. And this likewise should be and is in principle true in us now as manifestly in the resurrection; only in us as Christ is in us in power over a body of death, the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus making us free from the law of sin and death, for God has condemned sin in the flesh by Jesus, but by Him also sacrifice for us because of it. We have it in sorrow because of our union with a condemned world by the flesh, as Jesus was in sorrow because of the state of the world around Him, whose sorrows He partook of in love. So the new man in us, and that as in an unredeemed body, proved so, and not changed by Jesus' resurrection, and united by this body to the fallen creation. Minister too of its woes, as He, only in feebleness, in love and intercession, at least in presenting its sorrows in the expression of the Spirit to God; see Romans 8. What a place of weakness but of glory, by grace, to be in! What a place for the drawing forth every possible sentiment towards God, and occasion of the unfolding all the riches of His grace, of His heart towards us! Christ perfect sustains us in all this above; and there is our power, and therein the capacity of feeling the sorrow for God, in love not in selfishness.
312 Thus then the Lord postponed His joy till the kingdom of God should come, which would take away and remove the evil, i.e., His joy with them as in the blessing of common enjoyment in the kingdom, for love could not do so then, and that was true really even as to them. The Lord having thus, in deep affection, joined in the last memorial with His disciples of Israel's redemption of old - having declared the impossibility of present earthly communion with them, with men and their joy, and separated Himself to God for them in love, till the kingdom of God should come, proceeds to institute for them the memorial of His better and surer redemption, of His dying, self-denying love which did all - the memorial of Himself, for He desired, and desires to live in the memory of those He has thus loved. It was not the Lord's Passover, but: "My body given for you." If He separated Himself now to God in His joy, it was not want of love to His people, to His disciples, for it was in the act of giving Himself for them He did so. Thus in death to all the former system, to the world in the condemnation of the world, and the breaking up of earthly Judaism, He founded in the evidence of perfect love, and accomplished redemption for those who were one with Him, the ground of a memorial of this better and eternal deliverance. This was the food of their souls. They were to eat it, as Israel the Paschal lamb, as the priests at their consecration those things wherewith the atonement was made.
- 19. With what touching simplicity and care for them does the Lord give them these symbols of His deep and infinite sufferings! He thought of them here entirely. As to the blood, the Lord gives not merely the fact of suffering, but an immense new principle. The new covenant is established in His blood - the blood of the everlasting covenant, through (in) which the Great Shepherd of the sheep is brought again from the dead. Here they are looked at, as to both parts, as disciples. It is not: "You and many," i.e., Jewish disciples and Gentiles. Old things were passed away in what was said in the previous part, and the Church was now viewed. His blood here is viewed as shed for His disciples, after the supper, for it was not in the light of intercourse here, or communion, but of the establishment of the covenant, of the new covenant for His disciples - the old things being passed, the expression of His love for them, though one of them was to betray Him. The passing away of the old made place for a better. When the Lord said: "New," that one word, as the apostle reasons, decided all on the old. It was sentenced, and for ever, and Israel, as in the flesh, with it, for it was the ground of their relationship with God. But then also was there a great principle of distinction. The blood of the old covenant sealed the undertaking of obedience by Israel in the flesh under the Law, the blood of the new the accomplishment of grace for the people who believed in Jesus by the Spirit: "In my blood which is shed for you." In fact this last principle of "Shed for you," is of all possible importance. It is the divine accomplishment of grace brought to light beyond all question with man or thoughts of man, the accomplishment of the counsels of God entirely proceeding from Him. The Jewish economy had been disposed of, enjoyment of visible communion postponed, and now the gift and efficacy of the blood of the Son of man, according to the counsels of God, for the disciples is laid as the one great basis of all dealing of the Lord with man. As to man's part in it, it was treachery and wickedness. "The Son of man indeed goes as it is determined, but woe unto that man by whom he is delivered up." It was given to them; He took it with them. This was just the difference. It was the memorial then of the basis of the new covenant in His blood shed for them that believed in Him. It was not a mere question of Judah and Israel, for the blood-shedding of the new covenant, while it received its accomplishment, admitted thus to peace all those who trusted in it. Further, how little of legal institution is in this revelation as to the Lord's supper. Its sense, import, and value is given, and there it is left to the faith, and love, and grace of the disciples to profit by it.
313 I return to remark that the Lord, in chapter 20, not only judges all classes among the Jews, but all the great subjects connected with God's relationship with Israel. First, their present state in competency to judge what testimony it was - of God or not; so that He had no reason to make them the judges of the credentials of His. They were superseded entirely. Then He judges. First, their own relationship with God as His vineyard, as established by Moses. They had rejected the prophets seeking fruit, and lastly the Son, to have the inheritance for themselves; the Lord would destroy them. In a word, we have Israel judged in its own relationship with God, and the Stone they reject set up; first stumbling on it the judgment passed already, then it falling on them, and whomsoever else, and grinding them to powder in the judgment to come. Next, we have their relationship with Caesar. Sin had placed them there, but they could, though authority was lost under Nebuchadnezzar, have given to God the things that were God's, and, humbled for their sins, to Caesar the things that were Caesar's, till God in grace interfered to deliver them by Messiah. The Lord puts them on the true ground, but leaves them where their sin had placed them, without deliverance. After the glory, He will judge the nations.
314 Next, He shows the resurrection, and, in its true character, the resurrection of the saints to be the key and power of the new position - God's thought and purpose from the first. Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob had their place in the kingdom thus. Lastly, He introduces that which laid the basis of it all, setting David's Son as David's Lord at the right hand of Jehovah on high, when rejected on earth. The word of God without power was the test at first which doctors could not judge, which the poor knew and owned as of God without a question, because they received it in their conscience by grace, as judged divinely by it - not judging it - for so man knows the Word. The power of the rejected Messiah, at the right hand of God as Lord, settles and gives its character to all at last.
Note in the rejection of Christ, and David's Son becoming David's Lord, we get what brings out the position of the two Adams. He does not take the place of David's Son in Israel according to promise, nor is it simply His divine title as Jehovah, for it is Jehovah who speaks to Him as rejected as Son of David down here. There He sits till His enemies be made His footstool, but He is Lord as set there by Jehovah. He will rule among His enemies, and He has drunk of the brook in the way, i.e., been humbled to dependent faith on God His Father
The first man would be as God, exalting himself, and is abased, and, in the full development of man as Antichrist, he opposes, and exalts himself above all that is called God, or worshipped, so that he sits in the temple of God showing himself that he is God, and pretends to mount yet higher, and set his throne above the stars of God, and be like the Most High ascending up to heaven, but he will be brought down to the pit. The Second Adam thought it not robbery to be equal with God, but emptied Himself and came down to the form of man - then was obedient unto death (as Adam was disobedient) even the death of the Cross; and God has highly exalted Him. It is not the man of creation but the Man of God's counsels, the Heavenly Man, exalted by God, Heir of all that God in His counsels has given to man, i.e., all things which indeed this Man has created as God, and inherits as Son. And now all flows out merely from God, as of course it does, but from thus Heavenly Man. Life has this character and place, righteousness also. The kingdom hereafter - He is gone there to receive it - the inheritance of all things according to Psalm 8. That is the source and centre of the whole condition of all God's ways in Man - His place with Himself, on which all else depends, for He has put all things under His feet. The Church is united to Him there by the Holy Ghost which He has sent down, and the Father in His Name. This is the keystone of all God's ways, His purpose as to all things; and our moral relationship has its character from this. It has the character, standing, and perfection of what God has wrought. It is the Second Man set on God's right hand, the self-humbled One, as the first or creation man was the self-exalter, tried in responsibility till Christ's death, and even after, to see if he would own the exalted One. Then adversary, shown in principle in the Jews, thereon set aside (and specially in Paul, pattern of Israel's mercy, and the witness of sovereign grace and the Church) and finally as Gentiles, and as man in the Antichrist, when the man of the earth will give place to the Heavenly Man now exalted, with God known by faith, then displayed to man, and setting aside all that opposes. Such are the first and Second Man or Adam - the self-exalting One, and self-humbled One.
315 Note, too, in the consideration or execution of the most terrible judgments, and to our mind on the largest scale, the Lord never fails to see the smallest proof and fruit of grace. In the midst of the change of the whole scene, and the establishment of the heavenly place and glory of the Son of man, and the pressure of all that was Jewish, He takes notice in grace of the two mites of the poor widow's simple hearted and devoted offering to her God. It is a blessed consideration.
316 Note, too, in chapter 21:19, ktesasthe (possess) is something more than "possess," i.e., it is not possess what I have simply, but obtain, or, as here, keep, have, when you are in danger of not keeping, as, 1 Thessalonians 4:4. Cod. R. has ktesasthai. Though we have little of it, it is a great lesson.
It is worthy too of remark that in Luke where the histories of the siege of Jerusalem and of the end are separated, the saying that: "This generation shall not pass till all be fulfilled," is applied not to the siege of Titus, but to the end, using the word "all." Note thus the use of "this generation" in chapter 21:32. If, as is clear, coming after the times of the Gentiles proves that it is not the man's life-long period, successively, but the race in that moral state, it includes the whole time of the Gentiles.
Note, we have here the full wickedness of man in chief priests and Judas, and the worthlessness of man, even when right, in the disciples. And, in opposition to this, the divine and perfect grace of Christ, in answer to the wickedness, in giving Himself - His personal grace rising above all, however felt, in tender comfort and instruction to the disciples - and then the full owning of the fruit of grace recompensing it according to the largeness of His own heart, and the Father's counsels, in answer to the worthlessness. Besides that, we have, as regards the worthlessness, sifting, that we may know it, and, where self-confidence, this going far in utter failure, met, when judged, by perfect grace which healed.
- 20. Syr. and Cod: Verc. put verse 19 before 17, and leave out verse 20. "Which is poured out for you," it is to ekchunomenon, not to ekchunomeno. It gives the character.
- 28. A striking expression of the difference of the Lord's condition during His ministry and at the end may be seen, besides all already remarked, in this verse. "Ye are they which have continued with me in my temptations," closing in verse 30. Then comes, prophetically, what was coming on, and the change, on to verse 37. Afterwards, as the Lord had foretold them, "they all forsook him" (not the subject of Luke) "and fled." This is in Matthew, and in connection with His service in Israel. The Shepherd was to be smitten and the sheep scattered. It is repeated in Mark. In Luke, as Son of man, He is "reckoned with the transgressors." The sifting of Satan is there - the question of the state of a soul and its preservation.
317 - 30. I do not think eating and drinking refers to any physical eating in the kingdom on earth, but their being with Christ in the glory in which He rules over the earth, and seated at His table as the King's accepted ones, and then, as such would naturally do, ruling over His subjects, and here in the most favoured position. The thought starts from verse 27. The eating and drinking after His resurrection has another object - to prove He was a real Man; compare Acts 10:41. So Luke 24:39, et seq.
The Lord then distinctly characterises the dispensation in which they were now to be placed. He being humbled, and that even to death, they were to walk now in the same lowliness, and not be at all as the world. No Jew, or Jewish grandeur was now recognised, for earthly grandeur was recognised among the Jews, but now it had passed, as it really was, as the rudiments of the world; so all their system, see Gal. 4:9-10. Therefore now the Lord speaks of Gentiles: "The kings of the Gentiles exercise lordship," but you, my disciples, are not to be so. All this is not the part of God's peoples. Jewish recognition, as we have said, there is none. It is now "You," disciples, or the world, Gentiles. For the Jews were lost in the world, and He, who resumed the privileges and title of the people of God in His Person, was despised and rejected of men. The people had abhorred, and were about to crucify Him. Enmity and treachery would meet its reward. It were good for him who had delivered up the Son of man that he had not been born; his iniquity was not altered, nevertheless the Son of man went as it was written. Thus was needful morally, and in the counsel of God. His disciples must take the place where this set them. Uncertain of their own state on the one hand, as entirely feeble in the faith, and looking to themselves, but, as looking to themselves, justly distrusting themselves, desiring glory with Christ, as they ought, yet, as yet carnal, desiring it carnally and after the manner of the world, the Lord (the Holy Ghost not yet come to set them on wholly other ground) rectifies them in all this. First, greatness in the present position of His kingdom was to be the lowliest and the nearest to the despised and rejected Son of man. That was real greatness, considering how things stood morally before God, and that in the world which had manifested its enmity, and the true character of the heart which sought greatness in it by crucifying the Son of God. He in the world, for His whole life had been self-renunciation, He had humbled Himself. It was not only rejection by the world as if one was to wait for providence; in love He had done it for men, for them. He had humbled Himself, He had been among them as one that serveth. This was the answer, as to their position here below, to the question of their poor earthly and yet carnal hearts: "Who should be the greatest." And what a time to reason on it! What a thing is the human heart! Yet what blessed and gracious patience in the Lord! He was surely greatest, for He was, and He alone could, going alone, and lowest of all, into death. That was the character of their greatness. All other greatness, though under the form of being benefactors, was of this world. Further, as they knew not their own hearts in this, so neither on the other side, and the Lord comforts and blesses them in owning their fidelity in the highest fullest degree, miserable as it had been, adding the other part of the economical dispensation of God. They were to be low, and nothing, like Him, He being crucified and absent.
318 But the Lord owns their faithful continuance with Him while in His temptations. We know what this was in them when the dark hour really came - asleep, or fugitive, or denying Him - so were they sifted. Yet by grace they had continued with Him in the time of His humiliation and temptations, to which He had subjected Himself in His life here below, for man's sake. He owns and recognises this in them, who, with gracious ill-informed anxiety, thought one of themselves might betray Him. They believed His word, distrusted themselves, but knew not yet by the Holy Ghost the fidelity and safeguard of God. Further, though to be proved and suffer here as companions of Christ here below, they were to have a kingdom.
Here, in this dispensation, introduced by His death, conformity to His death and fellowship of His sufferings, but they who had been the companions of rejected Messiah would be the companions of glorified Messiah, and as His Father had appointed Him a kingdom and recompense of His humiliation and faithfulness, so He to them, and that with Himself. Then the joy and dominion and power would have place - the conviviality of the kingdom of the Lord, when all would be to His honour, and according to His holy will, His will "done on earth as it is in heaven." He appointed it to them, for they were His servants; they would be at His table in His kingdom. But the kingdom withal would be theirs. They would have special relationship with Him as Head of the earthly people, having been with Him in His rejection among the earthly people. The time was not yet come for this. He humbly, and full of grace, ate the Passover with them before He suffered, and passed from recognising the Jewish goodness of the Lord, into the suffering which became Him who should glorify God. He could not take the joy of the kingdom. They were to take what would have been the sign of it now as the symbol and memorial of His death - that was the basis of all true joy, the need which the state of things, of men, of God's people occasioned - then suffer with Him, but afterwards they would find again their place with Messiah as Head of God's people, the twelve tribes of Israel. Analogous blessing - gracious, and full of blessing is He who has called, and saved, and suffered for, and loves us - is in store for us. We shall have our cities for our poor, and miserable, yet highly-honoured service; but this was Jewish, for they were with Him in His Jewish humiliation as Messiah - that of which the Psalms are full. Thus God's part in the Jews, and in Messiah, would be owned, and they as in their ways will in the flesh set aside entirely, for both are here accepted and glorified in God, and rejected in man. They who have suffered with Christ, in Gentile service, will have their analogous glory, but they will never forget the blessing and ways of God to Israel His people, not cast away though stumbled and chastened for a season, and understand in Christ the reason and the riches of grace in it, the provoking of them to jealousy, and the reconciling of the world. What perfection of all gracious love in this trying hour! In truth the more the Lord is oppressed, and His heart, and inward feelings forced to expression, the more we find the sweet and tender, yet unfailing grace which was in Him, and the more proved and tried, the more known and tasted. To Him be all the praise of this great grace!
319 But other instruction as to the character of the flesh, ourselves, and the Lord, is to be drawn for us, as brought out of these circumstances. These disciples were the little Remnant of Israel, and Messiah the Lord (the only support of Israel) was rejected. Satan had his hour here against all that was owned of the Lord, against the Head of His people, all that was owned of God. So fared in measure the sheep, attached now ever fully to their Head not yet in power, but therefore the rather sifted though guarded. If the Shepherd was smitten, it was clear the sheep were to be scattered. Here if the Lord smote the Shepherd, Satan would take his occasion against the sheep; he had desired to have them to sift them as wheat; he would have his way, for the Lord knew His end in it, and its result and effect through grace, which Satan can never measure nor grapple with. So that all his efforts turn against him as to God's children. Power in them by the Holy Ghost was not yet manifested, nor they endued with it, for the Lord was not yet risen, nor glorified and His work accepted. Thus, further, as regards the flesh, i.e., their state, not natural, but as not yet having received the Holy Ghost, the effect of this sifting time of Satan's power would be shown, and what the flesh was in trial, for they were passing out of the guardianship of the flesh, i.e., the guardianship of Christ, the good Shepherd of them in their then state, just as they were, into conflict with Satan in His absence, by the energy of the Holy Ghost. And now, what the flesh was, and what this condition was into which they were entering, in contrast with His present care, was brought out to their knowledge and so conscience. Hence also he that had most energy in the flesh, forward, devoted and active, full of zealous affection, but confident, he stands foremost to the Lord's eye in the trial. Also the Lord loved him, "Simon, Simon," for He knew what Simon was, "Satan hath desired to have you, to sift you as wheat, but I have prayed for thee." And here is deep instruction. All were sifted, scandalised at Christ that night, and fled, deserting Him. But he in whom the flesh was strongest, most earnest, and that withal in true affection, was sifted, and what the flesh was most fully proved, and hence the profoundest humiliation of all, and so source of strength to aid and strengthen others, for His strength is made perfect in weakness.
320 - 32. "When once thou hast returned back" (epistrepsas); see Psalms 19:7 and 22:3, Septuagint.
This the discovery of the flesh, the Holy Ghost not yet given, but in one truly loving the Lord, in Peter at Antioch, and Paul descended from the third heaven - we have it in those who had received the Holy Ghost, and that unchanged. But thus the Lord deals with it when there is confidence in the flesh; He lets it be sifted, and that, if need be, so as to produce a fall, that we may know what it is. But this is not His way but in extreme cases where the seal of the Spirit is given, but in the meantime He intercedes that our faith fail not. He does not take out of the trial which sifts, but He sustains in it that we may thoroughly know what the flesh is, where our force is, and that His strength is made perfect in weakness. But then there are two ways in which Satan is employed for our good in this respect. First, to prevent the evil, as in Paul, where there is an energetic nature, and the Lord for service has placed us where, by reason of the flesh, this nature is in danger, He counterbalances this by putting weakness and dishonour on the flesh, even externally if need be, i.e., letting Satan do it, who loves to torment if he cannot injure the children of God. Thus the flesh is made painful, when it would have been the seat of the action of what was enticing, and danger avoided. It was the case of the thorn in the flesh of Paul.
321 Also when it is simply the confidence and heady reliance on self, and the gift of the Lord has not been the occasion of stumbling, then Satan, naturally desirous of sifting the servants of the Lord, and dishonouring Christ's Name in them, presents an occasion of stumbling, and the Lord for the good of His creature does not hinder this, and His servant falls, i.e., the weakness of what he thought strong is made manifest to his conscience, and he acquires a painful but lastingly profitable experience. Had he heeded the Lord's counsel, it had not been necessary, but if they do not learn of Him they must learn what they are so as to be made distrustful of themselves, and feel the need of learning of and leaning upon Him. Yet, in the yet more patient exercise of His love, for even when His admonitions are despised, as here, He who knows the danger prays for His foolish disciple, and restores him to the consciousness of a love which he had been ashamed to own, but which therefore surpassed his thoughts, and to which he returned with immensely increased sentiment of its force, tenderness and constancy, and with fruitful shame of reliance on so base a self. Here Satan was not a rod, as in the other case, but as a tempter his work allowed for good. Thus by this deep, and deep-wrought, for it was terrible knowledge of self, and by consequence of our sole resource in God, he who stumbled thus and who knew the weakness and worthlessness of the flesh best, and the grace of God best, was capable by weakness felt and grace, best to strengthen his brethren. Thus the position of the flesh in the conflict with Satan, and Christ withal meanwhile interceding, was brought to light, not here noticing the Holy Ghost, because this did not change the nature of things, but was strength superinduced.
322 And how was this manifested in leaning wholly on God, as in Jesus, and in us by a clear and full discovery of the perfect evil and ruin of the flesh! "I know that in me." What is the just and due effect of the presence of the Holy Ghost? We are kept in the presence of God. Therein there is a distinct and full discovery by His presence of all that is in our heart, of all that is not of the light. The nature is judged in the presence of God, and by, and in understanding, and so receiving the grace that is in Him, and so we go before men in the grace which has displaced the evil in humbling us because of it. And thus we are humbled and fortified at the same time, and fortified in being humbled we judge ourselves because spiritual; and thus this external humiliation has neither occasion nor necessity, as when the flesh is not humbled it has. So that the effect of the presence of the Holy Ghost is not to falsify this state of things, but to render the manifestation of it unnecessary. But the nature which would have produced it is judged in its roots, judged in the heart because God is manifested. Thus there is no need that it should be externally manifested to the conscience, so that one has to appeal to divine knowledge to assert the good or divine life in us, for the divine presence and knowledge has been applied to the old man. Thus much for the judgment and manifestation, the contrast of the old man in the hour of the power of darkness. The details show all the contrast of the flesh in Peter with the blessed Lord, with the life of the Spirit. This gives us then the flesh left to the assaults of Satan, not introducing the Holy Ghost which governs, but does not change the realities of this state. It is given us here without that power that we may know what it is. Peter repeats his confidence, and the Lord predicts his fall - warning of no avail when the flesh has confidence in itself.
Then the Lord gives us the effect of this change from the companions of Messiah here, and His servants, witnesses in His absence; as to the circumstances, His earthly temporal guardianship which kept them for this world would be lost. For the preservation of the disciples and then, and the saints now is quite other. Then they were kept for earth - now for heaven. He kept them according to the place and system in which He exercised His power. Then "When I sent you without purse and scrip and sandals, lacked ye anything? And they said, Nothing." He provided according to His right and power for them here, though not for Himself, but now they were to be left to the difficulties and trials of a world where, the Lord absent, Satan governed and would raise opposition and alienation of heart around them. They would learn in the world, as regards men, as we say, to shift for themselves. They were left in face of Satan, the Lord absent in heaven, to partake of the suffering occasioned by the power to which He Himself was subjected, for it was to spring up as though He knew not how. They were not now the followers of Messiah among the Jews, and He yet not actually displaced by evil from His right, but the servants of the Lord in a world where the Lord was not, over which He had not yet assumed His power in governance, and where He was not known, though He had made it. They were left to its principles, i.e., to the effect of them in their walk. "For," saith the Lord, "this that is written must yet be accomplished in me." "He was reckoned with the transgressors," "for the things concerning me have an end"; they are not even in suspense - the will of God must be accomplished in them, and all have its end, for indeed here He was on ground which, though presented to man was impossible with God, man being a sinner. But thus all had an end. Their minds still rest on man's strength, not on Messiah crucified in weakness, and say: "Lord, here are two swords." I do not conceive that in saying, "It is enough," the Lord alluded to the number of the swords, more or less, but to their words, implying that they did not enter into His mind. They said enough to show that the Lord had no need to say anything more to them about it, and He closes His discourse, for indeed, for the whole Church, He had said all needed, for the time was come for Him to pass through all these things in Spirit first, and then indeed.
323 The Lord, possessing His soul in patience, goes as He was wont, acting on the ordinary motives of a life devoted already to God, and, come evil or come good, He could not walk better than to walk always with Him; He was wont to do that. The knowledge of the trouble and sorrow, however deep, changed nothing in this. He walked in the day and did not stumble - not insensible, not unaffected in heart and feeling, on the contrary deeply moved before God, and even before His poor disciples, for at the least there was truth there, but in the simple constancy of One who sought not Himself at all, but to do the will of and glorify Him who sent Him, whose Servant He was, and had made Himself, and the more high and perfect, the more completely and entirely Servant. He passes on His way in holy simplicity; what else had He to do here but to go on in this way? What a blessed example the Lord is here! In vain to say: "Of late the Jews sought to stone thee." A man, as we have said, that walks in the day, does not stumble, and His path and He was the day. His disciples followed Him, ignorant mainly of what was to come, but led by Him and thus far happy, not led intelligently for they were not yet strong enough for that, but led by Him, blessed in being His companions. But it was different from a guidance of the Holy Ghost, because it was not in the intelligence of His ways, but affection through grace and the operation of the Spirit in their hearts, and so led. Being there, His heart, full of instruction from the circumstances He was in, overflows in instruction to His disciples whom He loved. "Watch and pray, lest ye enter into temptation." Then, though the Lord was to have witnesses and companions of His sorrow according to His love to them, He was to be alone with God. He withdraws to commune with, for there alone all could be said and told to Him, for it was between Him and His Father. The Lord does not say: "Enter not into sin," for it was not here the question. Satan presents a certain thing to act upon the flesh; we walk in the Spirit, all effect is lost. Is it by insensibility? No! but by superiority. Christ, in the discernment which watching, and so a life run with God gave (in Himself perfectly even as Man) knows by His communion with the Father, "All things that should come upon him," passes through all these things in communion with the Father. He had thoroughly gone through it in communion with Him, seen His will in it, and therefore when the evil came by man, it was not of man at all to Him; man and his doings was an accident in it, which was all that the flesh in us would see (save to murmur against the Lord), He was accomplishing in patience and in peace, a known will of His Father. Thus instead of entering into a temptation, He was in the highest exercise of spirituality, accomplishing the will of God in the most difficult circumstances, and the most perfect submission when it cost everything. In the presence of the opposition of Satan, of his terrifying from the path of obedience, the danger, meeting it in the strength of the flesh, not in the seductions of what is pleasant in life - then it is that watchfulness which realises our position before God, and prayer which communicates its whole operation on our nature to God, introduces us into the will of God in it; and the force of His known will, in obedience to which we are sustained by communion with Him, saves us from entering into temptation. This separating power of Satan from God, the sifting of the enemy, because the circumstances to us then are the simple occasion of accomplishing a will already known, and so much the more glorious as penible, and not a sifting and discovery of what is in us by the circumstances, for that has already in communion been done before God our Father. Besides, the strength of the Lord is then actually with us. And this is the force to me of: "Lead us not into temptation." It is not: "Lead us not into sin" - nothing so impossible as that our Father which is in heaven should do that; but He can lead us into temptation, i.e., to be sifted by the enemy, into the place where the flesh shall be exposed and crucified, when this is needful, because hardness, or lightness, or inattention to His patient warnings has supervened. He can lead us into temptation as the last and forced necessary means of self-knowledge and discipline, and it is great grace that the Lord will take this pains with us, but yet, seeing our weakness and the terribleness of the conflict with the enemy, and the holy fear, which becomes us, of falling, it well becomes us to pray that we may not be cast into this furnace, that the Lord may have no need with His thus humbled child. Satan is ever active, and he has, as it were, certain rights, and vast power now that sin is entered, if the children of God are not watchful to prevent his having occasion (for in the times of sifting a bad conscience tends to drive to despair) and do not walk in communion and dependence.
325 The flesh in its carelessness and undiscerning blindness meets the trial in distress and uncertainty, or carnal opposition, and falls, and Satan so far has gained his point, though the Lord may restore. If, on the other hand, trial be there, we have this model of our position before God - not proud heroism which despised the sorrow, the pain, and the danger, but entreaty to be spared the evil, casting itself on God for that, and spreading out its desire before Him in blessed and childlike confidence, which does not fear to tell all its sorrow and its feeling, but perfect submission and a desire that the Father's will, and not his, be done.
326 The Lord here was thoroughly Man, the Son of man. Angels, or an angel from heaven, appeared to Him, waiting on Messiah, strengthening Him. But the conflict of His soul was great. He felt all this, but it urged Him in the sense of what the trial, and terrible moment was, the relinquishment of Israel, of life, of all earthly and living accomplishment of the promises, of the sentence of death upon Him, of being brought into the dust of death, seeing what death was in His eyes before God, for He knew the truth - but all this urged yet more to expose all before God, to wrestle with the Father as to all this death, and "He was heard in that he feared." The effect of this communion with God is to see more clearly the power of evil, and the sorrow. It is felt and realised in the soul in the clearness of divine light, but in the presence of God this urges to more earnest prayer and supplication with God. And this so as to act on the very body, the human system, for here we see the Lord Jesus in all the distress of a soul pressed and in anguish, the power and darkness of death making its way in, the waters coming in into His soul. He was not merely sorrowful in sympathy, and pressed by the contradiction of sinners, but in anguish Himself; His soul was under the anguish of the pressure of death. Ever Man in this, He was externally and providentially succoured and fortified by an angel. But while this strengthened and sustained Him in and for the combat, it did not take Him out of the combat; rather, His human nature being sustained enabled Him to enter more deeply and thoroughly into the combat. In all this, however, He prays, "Father." He is in His relation as Son, and speaks in it. It is not the Victim yet before God, but the Sufferer, in Spirit feeling all the depths of the waters He is passing through, but crying out of the depths to His Father. In these circumstances the flesh shrinks from the suffering, and overpowered, and weak, and seeks in stupid and after all heartless (yet from incapability) forgetfulness, refuge from the sense and oppression of the evil. But Christ is here as Man, sustained but feeling as Man - though, as we have said, in the full light of God, to see the evil.
We may remark again here, how Luke omits the detail of circumstances, to present the full moral features of what happened. How near the circumstances often which try to us, to our carelessness, while He said, "Pray," etc. "Behold the multitude," it was not now the time for praying but for acting in the Spirit realised through prayer, obtained from on high, and acting in us the operation of the presence of God. What calmness and perfection in Jesus as Man! The Holy Ghost does not give us here what the dignity of the Son of God, the Good Shepherd guarding and putting Himself in front of His sheep produced, the divine nature which had shut the bounds at Sinai, breaking forth to show that it was His will, not theirs, which allowed, ordered, or bore with all that was done, and let the sheep go in peace. It is the Man in agony before His Father, in calmness and peace before man, sensible to the full as Man of all the circumstances, but calm in them all. Force and treachery here united to overwhelm the soul of Jesus, but He had passed through it already in much deeper reality with His Father, and He calmly and touchingly notices the act of treachery, unparalleled and wily, and hardness ("Good for that man, had he never been born") with which the unhappy man kissed Him with whom he had walked, and whom now in sacrilegious hardness he betrayed. He betrays the Son of man, his Companion, and his familiar Friend, for so, i.e., Son of man, the Lord calls Himself here.
327 The human zeal and feeling of His disciples awoke here, and they demand if they should contend, and one of them strikes the servant of the High Priest, and smote off his ear in hasty zeal. This, permitted of the Lord to show that it was no want of power in Jesus, gives occasion to His answer, and the manifestation of the same calmness in grace as in patience. Divine in all things, He possessed His soul, perfectly submitted, but the same yesterday, to-day, and for ever. "Suffer," says the Lord, "thus far," and then He healed the servant, for, come in blessing, the wickedness, nor the hatred of man did not change His grace. He was not to contend as Man; peradventure, afterwards, grace brought this poor servant to know Him whom he had helped to take in his blindness. However that might be, the Lord went on in His course of patience and grace. His power and His mercy unshortened, but His walk, obedience and submission in grace. The Lord then, in reply to the violence of the chief priests, and officers, and elders, states the real case as to that also. "Are ye come out as against a thief with swords and staves? I was daily with you in the temple, and ye laid no hands upon me." Why not then? What position of conscience were they in? Was He more, as a Man, in their power now? "But this is your hour and the power of darkness." In full knowledge of what it was, the Lord, explaining their awful position, submits to the will of God by their hardened heart and relentless purpose of evil. But "they took him and led him away." It was the hour - so ordained - of darkness, and therefore they were in power. Awful truth! And the Lord as a Lamb for the slaughter, submits because it was His Father's will. He, not the Jews, had given Him the cup; it might be judgment on the hand that brought it to be the instrument of such, but otherwise that made no difference. If it was the hour of darkness, He was the Light and walked as the Light. Though to suffer all things, Himself in conduct shone only brighter, but it was perfect darkness all around, not the shining of the light actively on others, but the perfect walking in it when all was the essence of darkness (even His disciples under its influence or terror) proving who He was. It was in Himself, not in others.
328 Then we come to the conduct of Peter, for all now are left to themselves below, though not deserted of God, but left to the effect of circumstances on their way and thoughts, for Jesus, shut up into His own obedience and pure suffering, is not here a leader of others by light, and power, and keeping, but a Sufferer Himself, perfect in all. We have still to observe in Jesus this perfect calmness and self-possessedness. No trial produced that dismay of spirit which disables the perfect and simple action of grace, and what each moment requires. When the cock crows the Lord looks on Peter. As the flesh had hurried Peter there, so the Lord recalls his position to his conscience, in thus looking at him, and, poor Simon, his boasted strength now tried, but, after all, his heart right with God, goes out and weeps bitterly. There the blessed Lord then spent the night; not before His judges - they took their ease till morning, to judge the Lord, the Creator, the Lord of Glory; and Jesus was the object of the insults and injuries of the men whom they employed. But: "As a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers," He was dumb and opened not His mouth. This was the reckless amusement of the human heart. The plans of Satan came after, though doubtless this also was his malice. The Lord had finished His testimony. He had already, after His communion with the Father, declared what this hour was. He was, and was content, yea, His joy in obedience, to suffer and obey in it. In what perfect grace!
329 - 40-46. Note the warning of the Lord bears the stamp of what He was passing through faithfully. He urges to watch and pray; He was doing it. And so afterwards, with the increased sense of it. "Why sleep ye? Rise up and pray." But further, I would note the faithful watching and praying of the saint keeps him safe from the temptation, i.e., the power of God in answer to it. We know not what is coming, though some temptations may be anticipated. The last thing we thought of, Peter never would have supposed the question of a little maid where all seemed easy and a friend had brought him in, was the danger to be apprehended in that night of violence. But with God temptation has not this character. The quiet path of obedience is before us. Who so calm as Jesus when Judas came? Our prayer, through grace, is to produce this, but if not, Christ's prayer for us meets the truth, and need of our case exactly. Satan, though there are special moments of trial, is an ever active enemy: "Satan hath desired." Had Peter been less confident, and looked to the Lord, Satan would not have had him at all. We are always the subjects of this mighty spiritual conflict, and when flesh is not put down and God present, Satan can touch us; the temptation is felt, we fall into it. Watching and prayer, before the temptation, keep us clear. Christ's intercession fits itself to our actual state. Satan would sift; He does not pray he might not. Peter wanted it; so do we often, all. If I am with God about it all goes well; at the utmost, the chaff is sifted away, the bands burned in the fire, but the smell of fire does not pass on our clothes. The devil's fire, in God's hands, burns the devil's bands. So with Job. But He prayed that, when failure had come through Satan's sifting, and Peter's want of prayer, faith, confidence in the heart of Christ and of God might not fail. Thus he learned weakness and incapacity of standing, and that Christ's grace met all, and, the worst of cases, he could strengthen his brethren. There is an active desire and purpose of Satan; he was to sift the Lord - he had nothing in Him; the flesh is in us. If we are with God by the Spirit actively watching and praying, it is, when needed, judged there, and the wicked touches us not as born of God. We do not so, we are sifted, nor does, where needed, Christ ask we should not be, but in His intercession demands the exactly fitted process, and the maintenance of a conscious link with Himself. He looks at the right moment, then it is with Him we have to say, and He goes on with divine wisdom to deal with the root that bore the outward sin, and to which some other inward one had exposed us, which was not judged before. Warning, watching and prayer is the path of security - but, if humbled, it is a blessed thing to know that Christ's prayer for us, though not sparing the needed humiliation, is put up when we have not prayed ourselves. Had Christ been their only Object, they would have watched, and been led to pray in that dark hour. Feeling their own sorrow, they cannot bear it, and are overpowered, and sleep is their resource; the rest fly. Sorrowful enough! But boasting Peter must learn a sadder tale of the self he too much trusted. The place of our prayer is thus learnt. It is previous watchfulness with Christ when the temptation is not there; its fruit, the temptation, is not at all entered into when it is, and the extreme goodness and mercy of Christ which suits itself to the exact circumstances of the case.
330 - 41, et seq. It is striking that Luke gives more conflict and anguish in Gethsemane than Matthew and Mark, but less, indeed none, on the Cross. It is not, as John, the peaceful dignity and majesty of the Son of God, the divine Person, in contrast with the suffering Son of man. That is not Luke. He is more simply Man, in Luke, in Gethsemane, and, on the Cross, the introduction of the new estate of things; hence its efficacy. In Matthew and Mark, He prays the cup may pass, sorrowful unto death, and bows to His Father's will. In Luke He is in conflict, praying more earnestly, and there is seen an angel from heaven strengthening Him. His sweat was, as it were, great drops of blood falling on the ground. But on the Cross He is as Man, by faith on the other hand above the sufferings, and enters into the present going of His Spirit to heaven. He comforts the thief with this, not to wait for the kingdom; He cries with a loud voice, but the utterance is not, as in Matthew and Mark, recorded, and commends His own Spirit to His Father. It is not "He gave up" (paredoke), it is simply human "He expired" (exepneuse), but in perfect faith, in death He commends His Spirit, to His Father. In Matthew and Mark we have the cup as sorrow and suffering; He prays it may pass, which is more fully given than in Luke where we have merely the fact, and praying more earnestly, and we see that cup drunk on the Cross in the utterance there. This was to be, and must be; and so it is shown us. It was His work of which He felt all the weightiness anticipatively in Gethsemane, actually on the Cross. In Luke He is the perfect Man feeling, as such, in Gethsemane "in conflict"; praying earnestly, and strengthened, feeling, as we ought to, beforehand with God, the sorrows and sufferings which are before us, and, in them, exercising perfect faith with God.
331 He is subject to God's hand in Matthew and Mark. He is the perfect Man in Luke, the divine Person in John. How blessed it is to have all His characters, though our feeble hearts have to trace them apart thus! The whole path of Christ, from the time of Pilate's condemnation of Him, will be found to have this character in Luke. It is there He tells the daughters of Jerusalem not to weep for Him, there He says: "Father, forgive them." Note, we have not in Luke the first examination of the Lord when He was brought in.
I return for a moment to Luke, in Gethsemane and on the Cross. We see Him truly a Man in Gethsemane, in Luke, perfectly a Man anticipating what was coming on Him, and bowing to His Father's will in it, looking wholly to Him in the anticipation of the sorrow. It was perfectness as a Man, the cup fully felt anticipatively, i.e., in His mind (and we know how this works in us) but, in that sense of it, looking to God, as we ought, and submission to His will. On the Cross, in the suffering, He looks out of it. He had passed through it in Spirit with God, and His perfectness as Man is here displayed in so looking out of it, and, having the mind of God, free to possess and express it to others. This does not touch the fact of His feeling the drinking the cup of wrath as such, but the expression of His sense of that is not inserted by Luke. And as a human Sufferer His faith is perfect. It is not "He gave up" (paredoke) but: "Into thy hands I commit my spirit." Sonship, but Man trusting in God. Perfect, He did not enter into the temptation, but obeyed His Father, knowing it was His will. And, perfect in the suffering, in His faith (I do not speak of atonement) He looks out of it, and the time of His death being come, commends His Spirit to God.
I do not think that the angels in Matthew 4 are quite the same thought as the angel, in Luke, in Gethsemane. After His victory in the wilderness, angels (ascending and descending on the Son of man) come as attesting indeed His manhood, but as attesting also His claim to their service. He had been tried, faithful, in that left to Himself as far as such ministry went. Victorious, they come and render to Him the just tribute of their service. In Luke, One comes, in the time of His trial, to strengthen Him. The fact of angel service, now to man (according to John 1) is the same; but here He is the weak, distressed Man, strengthened by an angel when the trial pressed so terribly upon Him. But how wonderful the truth! How perfect the grace of His being so! Of the Lord's humanity! What scenes are the wilderness and Gethsemane for the Son of God! How truly He is become a Man! See, in Mark too, how "The angels ministered to him," comes in as a title contrasted with trial.
332 I think too in Luke, I have justly thought the temptations are arranged in a spiritual order, mere flesh (hunger) the world, and promises, Satan changing himself into an angel of light. In Matthew there is more than historical order, as heretofore noticed. It is, in a certain sense, dispensational, or refers to the place He takes. First, simply Man, hunger, His refusal, as Man, to take a step, or have a thought or a will without God. Man lives by every word out of His mouth, dependence and obedience. The next is Israel, promise to the Remnant, and in fact the Messiah. The Lord answers, not by what is said of man but of Israel: "Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God." In all He carefully keeps the place of Man in obedience, but in Israelite - was not to try if God would be as good as His word. So Deuteronomy 6. In the last He is Son of man, to reign over the nations. Here Satan is obliged to show himself. Was the Son of man to be as unfaithful to God as the first Adam, or keep His place as Man owning God? Was He to take the world as Man by the passions and lusts on which Satan acts, and avoid the Cross? - in a word, under Satan, where man and, as a present scene of lusts, the powers of the world, were? But still "It is written" suffices, only Satan is detected, rejected, and dismissed. Born of a woman, Son of man in nature and derivation, though miraculously, a Man, born under the law, as Messiah, and Son of man with the title to all things in a new position, only now in tested obedience, and so the place to be won, though His as Son of God, ever perfect, though here to prove it in trial, only not here going beyond the earth. All the Lord's answers are from Deuteronomy; and this is quite suited.
Up to the end of Numbers, we have, speaking of Israel, the patterns of things in the heavens, and though we have surely a divinely given history of what occurred to Israel, yet the accounts of the tabernacle are shadows of good things to come, not history. Sacrifices were "to be offered," so and so - not "were offered." Priests "to do" so and so - not "they did." I am not aware of the statement of a single sacrifice after Sinai, unless one Passover, and that indeed was at Sinai, and where even it is history, as specially in Exodus at the beginning, and Numbers. They happened unto them for types, and were written for our admonition, on whom the ends of the world are come. Deuteronomy, on the contrary, gives the conditional, historical possession of the land, and directions for Israel's conduct in it, and, even after the warnings, the secret things of faith. It was the actual directory in the land, in the state in which Israel found themselves when they entered. It was the actual, responsible, and conditional terms of possession of the land, given indeed when they were not in it, and which do not suppose their final possession in purpose, but looking to obedience in order to their keeping it, and referring to their conduct in the desert as warning (see Deut. 6) given just at the point when they had passed through the wilderness, and were going into the land, stating the turning point of blessing and cursing. And so with Jesus, it was the testing time personally, till He came to take the curse of a broken law, which was another thing. Then He was a Propitiation for Israel's sins, and also for the whole world. Here tempted as Man, and also as Messiah. In the last temptation, the whole question of allegiance as Head of the world was brought out. Satan takes power used in will as Man if Son of God, and promise in Israel, and the world of glory over the nations. Christ takes ever the lowly place of obedience in the place He was in, as in Israel, for God had set Him there. This is blessedly perfect. The authority of the Word over us as to our walk precedes promises, and glory to us, for that sets God in His place, i.e., the first with us.
333 What deep pain Peter's denial must have been here to the Lord! It was not only treacherous and well-known Judas, but beloved Peter. Here too remark the difference. All were, as it were, left to themselves. It was not, as Judas, the direct power of Satan in them. Satan entered into him, and thus acted by him; here, not being directly kept of God, they were left to the natural fruits of their own heart, when the circumstances directed of Satan, so allowed of God, presented the temptation to their corrupt or feeble nature.
334 - 66. As it stands: "To their own council." When the convenience of their hour suited them, they assembled in their own council, i.e. (if so to be read, apart from the Romans, and so probably, certainly in sense, for the guilt was to be their own) in the chief priest's house, and by their own council, apart, Jesus, Messiah, the Lord was to be delivered up by the nation. We have still to remark how Luke seizes the great moral circumstances, for there is abundance of detail in all this part entirely omitted, but all the moral and Jewish, in contrast with Gentile characteristics are thereby brought out more to light. But the Lord knew it was the time to be delivered up, that it was their hour, not the time of testimony, and He left them to their own wickedness. "If I tell you, ye will not believe." In the time of testimony to conscience, testimony was ample. Now they were the accomplishers of a plot to destroy Him through jealousy. "If I should ask, ye will not answer me at all, nor let me go." The Lord in truth judges their state.
- 69. "Henceforth," not "Hereafter."
- 70. The presenting of Messiah to the Jews (blinded by their leaders) was finished. From this the Son of man was to be seated at the right hand of God. The whole Jewish Sanhedrim: "They all said," identified "the Son of man" as declared to be henceforth "sitting on the right hand of the power of God" with "the Son of God." "Thou then art the Son of God?"
The Lord gives them the great general revelation of the counsel of God, which in fact rendered answer unnecessary, and judged their position. All was settled with God. They could go on. Here the Sanhedrim thought they had found an opportunity, though the testimony was very general, of making Him commit Himself, for they judged after man, and they say: "Thou then art the Son of God?" Truth it was, and the other, true also of Jesus, implied it, though He had merely stated the counsel of God without applying it to itself. The Lord had nothing to conceal, nay, He must be condemned for the truth because He was the Truth, and they be guilty of rejecting the Son of God because He was such, and spake the truth, and they were of him who was the father of a lie. They must be guilty, not of mistake but of condemning Him because He was the Son of God and bore witness, as He should do, before God of the truth. Yet here it was no testimony offered them on His part, but He conceals nothing. "Ye say that I am." This was enough; the full truth had only to be told for them to reject it. They themselves (and as judges they condemn themselves utterly) had heard the truth, the glory of His Person from the mouth of Truth (so they say) "We ourselves have heard from his own mouth," and they reject it. It was complete, final - they could not go further - they, judges, reject Messiah, the Son of God bearing witness (as they said, though He had but assented to their demand) to the truth because He did so. They had now only to complete their iniquity in leading, as religious iniquity ever does, the world to finish the wickedness, to accomplish its guilt. The civil power must give in to the perfect and wilful moral evil of an apostate people, of professed servants of God. This is the history of the world, for religious iniquity is always nearest to Satan.
335 The Lord answers nothing at all to the question as to Messiah, for the mission as such was ended, and would have been to them in the flesh, not to His danger. Perhaps they might have been content to get Him on their side, as such, on His own avowal; and the testimony would have been wholly misplaced, for Israel was incapable utterly of her Messiah. But to His personal glory He could not refuse confession, for that claimed, and necessarily the truth and their recognition, though it was base condemnation. It was not a relative office, but the sure, necessary, and everlasting dignity of His Person in relation with the Father - this He must own, or not tell the truth. But when they could not condemn Him for saying He was Messiah, of which Israel was incapable under the Gentiles, and in sin so as to continue, they could equally accuse Him on this ground to the Gentile power, and seek its favour, and secure their object by this double accomplishment of their apostasy.