Chapter 1 Chapter 6 Chapter 11 Chapter 16 Chapter 21
Chapter 2 Chapter 7 Chapter 12 Chapter 17 Chapter 22
Chapter 3 Chapter 8 Chapter 13 Chapter 18 Chapter 23
Chapter 4 Chapter 9 Chapter 14 Chapter 19 Chapter 24
Chapter 5 Chapter 10 Chapter 15 Chapter 20

Chapter 1

(Verses 1 through 4) "Forasmuch as many have taken in hand to set forth in order a declaration of those things which are most surely believed among us, even as they delivered them unto us, which from the beginning were eyewitnesses, and ministers of the word; it seemed good to me also, having had perfect understanding of all things from the very first, to write unto thee in order, most excellent Theophilus, that thou mightest know the certainty of those things, wherein thou hast been instructed."


This is, beyond question, the best preamble that can be written of Luke's record of the gospel. It tells us why he set forth to write it, "Forasmuch as many have taken in hand to set forth _ _ _." Though we have not so many writings of this today, there were many circulated among the early Christians. Among them were "The Gospel Of The Birth Of Mary," "The Protoevangelion," "Thomas' Gospel Of The Infancy Of Jesus Christ," "The First Gospel Of The Infancy Of The Jesus Christ," "The Acts of Pontius Pilate," or "The Gospel Of Nicodemus," and many others. Some of these contain things not only not given in the accounts of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, but even contrary to them. Because of these things it seemed good to Luke to write an account of "those things which are most surely believed among us." He tells us his qualifications for the task, "having had perfect understanding of all things from the very first." We have no mention of Luke in either of the gospel records, not even his own. But when he is first mentioned by the Apostle Paul in Colossians, it is as one who had been with the disciples all the time, "Luke the beloved physician," and, of course, he was with Paul in most of his ministry; and, perhaps, a disciple far longer than that. His address of this is to Theophilus, to whom he also addressed his record of the Acts Of The Apostles. This name can be translated, "lover of God," or "beloved of God;" and for that reason some have thought it to simply be Luke's manner of addressing any one of God's children. Yet, since he uses the term, "most excellent," as a prefix to the name, one would think that most likely it was some government official of Luke's acquaintance, who had been converted to Christianity. And Luke's purpose seems to have been to more fully instruct him in those things in which he had already been to some extent instructed, that he might be fully assured of the truth of them.


(Verses 5 through 7) "There was in the days of Herod, the king of Judaea, a certain priest named Zacharias, of the course of Abia: and his wife was of the daughters of Aaron, and her name was Elizabeth . And they were both righteous before God, walking in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blameless. And they had no child, because that Elizabeth was barren, and they were both well stricken in years."


This is the beginning of the description of the background of the birth of John the Baptist. These are his parents. This is that same "Zacharias son of Barachias" mentioned in Matthew 23:35 and Luke 11:51. He was a priest of the Lord, and his wife was of the family of the Aaronic priesthood. Both of them were "righteous before God," but Elizabeth was barren, and they were both old.


(Verses 8 through 13) "And it came to pass, that while he executed the priest's office before God in the order of his course, according to the custom of the priest's office, his lot was to burn incense when he went into the temple of the Lord. And the whole multitude of the people were praying without at the time of incense. And there appeared unto him an angel of the Lord standing on the right side of the altar of incense. and when Zacharias saw him, he was troubled, and great fear fell upon him. But the angel said unto him, Fear not, Zacharias; for thy prayer is heard; and thy wife Elizabeth shall bear thee a son, and thou shalt call his name John."


There should be little, if any, need for explanation of this. Luke simply tells us that, as Zacharias was performing his priestly duty of offering incense while the multitude outside were engaged in prayer, an angel of the Lord appeared to him, and gave him a very welcome, if hard to believe, message. His barren wife, Elizabeth, would bear him a son. It was looked upon among the Jews as almost, if not altogether, a disgrace for a woman to be barren. This is clearly shown in 1 Samuel 1:5-16. Not only was a son promised, but also his name was given, "John," meaning "one to whom God is gracious."


(Verses 14 through 20) "And thou shalt have joy and gladness; and many shall rejoice at his birth. For he shall be filled with the Holy Ghost, even from his mother's womb. And many of the children of Israel shall he turn to the Lord their God. And he shall go before Him in the spirit and power of Elias, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just; to make ready a people prepared for the Lord. And Zacharias said unto the angel, Whereby shall I know this? for I am an old man, and my wife well stricken in years. And the angel answering said unto him, I am Gabriel, that stands in the presence of God; and am sent to speak unto thee, and to shew thee these glad tidings. And, behold, thou shalt be dumb, and not able to speak, until the day that these things shall be performed, because thou believest not my words, which shall be fulfilled in their season."


Anyone, surely, can understand what Luke writes here, but it brings to mind a few points, which need to be addressed. The birth of this son to an old couple, who, have all these years been in sorrow because they had no child, would surely give them great joy. He also was to bring joy to many others; for he would turn many of the children of Israel to the Lord their God. We should not confuse his being filled with the Holy Ghost from his birth with the sending of the Holy Ghost as Jesus promised to His disciples in His discourse to them in Chapters 14, 15, and 16, of John's gospel record. There are several mentions of the Holy Ghost before He was sent in the general manner encompassed by that promise, which was fulfilled on the day of Pentecost. (Acts 2:1-21) Jesus cast out devils by the Holy Ghost. John would come in the spirit and power of Elijah, "to make ready a people prepared for the Lord." He called them to repentance before Jesus made His appearance to the public.


As mentioned earlier, though this was a very pleasing message, it was difficult for Zacharias to believe. Because he knew that he was old, and that not only was his wife old also, but that she had also been barren all her life to this point, and now she was beyond the age of child bearing. So he asked for a token whereby he might be assured of this. This should serve as a lesson to us, that we should not always be asking for proof of the word of God, but take Him at His word in all things. The token given to Zacharias was, "Behold, thou shalt be dumb, and not able to speak, until the day that these things shall be performed, because thou believest not my words, which shall be fulfilled in their season."


(Verses 21 through 25) "And the people waited for Zacharias, and marveled that he tarried so long in the temple. And when he came out, he could not speak unto them: and they perceived that he had seen a vision in the temple: for he beckoned unto them, and remained speechless. And it came to pass, that, as soon as the days of his ministration were accomplished, he departed to his own house. And after those days his wife Elizabeth conceived, and hid herself five months, saying, Thus hath the Lord dealt with me in the days wherein He looked on me, to take away my reproach among men."


Just as Gabriel had said, Zacharias was not able to speak when he came forth to the people. So he had to use sign language to communicate with them, "he beckoned unto them and remained speechless." After his shift of service was finished, he left the temple, and went home. Then Elizabeth conceived, and her statement concerning this was, "Thus hath the Lord dealt with me in the days wherein He looked on me, to take away my reproach among men." As mentioned before, barrenness of a woman was considered a reproach, and almost a disgrace.


(Verses 26 through 33) "And in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God unto a city of Galilee named Nazareth , to a virgin espoused to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; and the virgin's name was Mary. And the angel came in unto her, and said, Hail, thou that art highly favored, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women. And when she saw him, she was troubled at his saying, and cast in her mind what manner of salutation this should be. And the angel said unto her, Fear not, Mary, for thou hast found favor with God. And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call His name JESUS. He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord shall give unto Him the throne of His father David: and He shall reign over the house of Jacob forever; and of His kingdom there shall be no end."


Having given us the background concerning the birth of John the Baptist, Luke begins the record of the birth of Jesus. The first thing we learn is that Elizabeth was six months pregnant with John when the message was sent to Mary, announcing that she was chosen to be the mother of Jesus. Mary is described as "a virgin espoused [engaged] to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David." Some try to object to the virgin birth of Jesus, on the basis that the word "parthenos," here translated "virgin," does not always mean "virgin." But this argument becomes moot when we come to verse 34, where Mary declares to the angel that she is a virgin in the strict sense of the word. Gabriel, the same angel who announced to Zacharias that Elizabeth was to have a son, is also the one sent to tell Mary that she was to be the mother of JESUS. When Gabriel hailed her, and called her highly favored and blessed among women, there is no indication that fear fell upon her, as it had upon Zacharias, when Gabriel appeared to him, but rather a sense of surprise and mild confusion, as she wondered what such a salutation meant. Gabriel then said to her, "Fear not, Mary, for thou hast found favor with God." Though there is so far no indication of fear, he calms her before it could lay hold of her. He then announces to her that she shall bring forth a Son, and declares the name of that Son to be JESUS, the Greek translation of "Yeshua," or "Joshua," which literally means "the help of God," and is often rendered "Saviour." He is to be called "the Son of the Highest," and to Him is to be given the throne of David, and He shall have an eternal kingdom, as He rules over the house of Jacob, or Israel .


(Verses 34 through 38) "Then said Mary unto the angel, How shall this be, seeing I know not a man? And the angel answered and said unto her, The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee; therefore also that holy thing that shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God. And, behold, thy cousin Elizabeth, she hath also conceived a son in her old age: and this is the sixth month with her, who was called barren. For with God nothing shall be impossible. And Mary said, Behold, the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word. And the angel departed from her."


Mary did not question whether or not this message was true; nor did she ask for any token of its truth, but only asked, "How shall it be, seeing I know not a man?" Mary knew that in the natural course of procreation a union of male and female is necessary; and she knew that she had had no such relationship with any man. So the very natural question was not, "Can this be?" but "How shall it be?" Then Gabriel explained that it would be without the agency of any man; only the power of God would be involved. For that reason her offspring was to be called "the Son of God," because He is indeed the Son of God. Then he told her the news of her cousin Elizabeth, and declared, "For with God nothing shall be impossible." Mary's answer to this was a simple declaration of obedience to the will and word of God.


(Verses 39 through 45) "And Mary arose in those days, and went into the hill country with haste, into a city of Juda ; and entered into the house of Zacharias, and saluted Elizabeth . And it came to pass, that, when Elizabeth heard the salutation of Mary, the babe leaped in her womb; and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Ghost: and spake out with a loud voice, and said, Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb. And whence is this unto me, that the mother of my Lord should come unto me? For, lo, as soon as the voice of thy salutation sounded in mine ears, the babe leaped in my womb for joy. And blessed is she that believed: for there shall be a performance of those things which were told her from the Lord."


This is a very simple account of a very extraordinary event. The fact that the angel announced Elizabeth 's good news to Mary seems to indicate that this was her first knowledge of it. So she immediately went to Zacharias' home to congratulate Elizabeth . However, as soon as she spoke to Elizabeth , the whole scene changed. Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to congratulate Mary instead. Surely, Elizabeth had known nothing about the angel's appearance to Mary, until it was revealed to her by the Holy Ghost by Whom she was filled. She declared that both Mary and the Son she was to bear are blessed. Then she asked a question, "Whence is this unto me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me?" This is the equivalent of saying, "Why should I be so greatly blessed as to receive this honor?" We know that it is not unusual for babies by the end of the second trimester to leap in their mothers' wombs; but there is something special about this. Elizabeth said, "For, lo, as soon as the voice of thy salutation sounded in mine ears, the babe leaped in my womb for joy." Some might say that she was just assuming that joy was the cause of the babe's leaping; but since she was filled with the Holy Ghost, and her entire speech at this time was of the Holy Ghost, she cannot be mistaken about it.  The logical question is, "What caused the joy?" The only answer that will fit the circumstances and the occasion is, Jesus was already conceived in the womb of Mary, and as she approached near enough to salute Elizabeth , the presence of Jesus caused John to leap with joy. Elizabeth then declared to Mary, "And blessed is she that believed: for there shall be a performance of those things, which were told her from the Lord." This, we can all rely upon. Those who believe Him are blessed: for whatsoever He says shall come to pass.


(Verses 46 through 56) "And Mary said, "My soul doth magnify the Lord, and my sprit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour. For He hath regarded the low estate of His handmaiden: for, behold, from henceforth all generations shall call me blessed. For He that is mighty hath done to me great things; and holy is His name. And His mercy is on them that fear Him from generation to generation. He hath shewed strength with His arm; He hath scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts. He hath put down the mighty from their seats, and exalted them of low degree. He hath filled the hungry with good things; and the rich He hath sent empty away. He hath holpen His servant Israel , in remembrance of His mercy; as He spake to our fathers, to Abraham, and to his seed forever. And Mary abode with her about three months, and returned to her own house."


This is such a wonderful declaration of praise to God, that one hesitates to make any comments concerning it, lest he take from it instead of helping to a better understanding of it.  Clearly in verses 46 through 49 Mary is praising God for the wonderful blessing He has bestowed upon her, in choosing her to be the mother of our Lord. When she says, "From henceforth all generations shall call me blessed," that is exactly what she means, and nothing more. There is no indication of even any thought of her being worshipped, and prayed to, as some have taught, and still teach. She simply means that her being chosen to bear Jesus, the Christ, is a blessing so great that it will be remembered by all generations.  God's sending His Son into the world shows that His mercy is always upon all those who fear Him, even from generation to generation. In verses 51 through 55 the focus is turned upon the work of the Christ in doing what He sets forth in His parable of the vineyard, as recorded in Matthew 21:33-40, and concluded in Matthew 21:43. There He says, "Therefore say I unto you, The kingdom of God shall be taken from you, and given to a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof." After this Mary stayed three months with Elizabeth , before returning home.


Although Luke has recorded at some length what the angel said to Mary, and her reaction to his message, as well as her activities immediately thereafter, he says nothing about Joseph, nor any message he received. At the same time Matthew records the message given to Joseph from the Lord, and makes no mention of what Mary was told. So it takes both of them to give us the full picture.


(Verses 57 through 66) "Now Elizabeth 's full time came that she should be delivered; and she brought forth a son. And her neighbors and her cousins heard how the Lord had shewed great mercy upon her; and they rejoiced with her. And it came to pass, that on the eighth day they came to circumcise the child; and they called him Zacharias, after the name of his father. And his mother answered and said, Not so; but he shall be called John. And they said unto her, There is none of thy kindred that is called by this name. And they made signs to his father, how he would have him called. And he asked for a writing table, and wrote, saying, His name is John. and they marveled all. And his mouth was opened immediately, and his tongue loosed, and he spake, and praised God. And fear came on all that dwelt round about them: and all these sayings were noised abroad throughout all the hill country of Judaea . And all that heard them laid them up in their hearts, saying, What manner of child shall this be! And the hand of the Lord was with him."


There seems to be no need of explanation here. We, perhaps, should take notice that, although there is never any mention of Elizabeth's having been told what name the angel said her son should have, she was just as adamant that his name was John as was Zacharias. Of course, Zacharias may have informed her of it, and it just was not mentioned, or the Holy Ghost could have revealed it to her.  Nevertheless, only when all things, including the naming of the child, were satisfactorily accomplished, was Zacharias given back the ability to speak. All these things were quickly spread throughout the area, and the people began to wonder about the future of the child.


(Verses 67 through 75) "And his father Zacharias was filled with the Holy Ghost, and prophesied, saying, Blessed be the Lord God of Israel; for He hath visited, and redeemed His people, and hath raised up an horn of salvation for us in the house of His servant David; as He spake by the mouth of his holy prophets, which have been since the world began: that we should be saved from our enemies, and from the hand of all them that hate us; to perform the mercy promised to our fathers, and to remember His holy covenant; the oath which He sware to our father Abraham, that He would grant unto us, that we being delivered out of the hand of our enemies might serve Him without fear, in holiness and righteousness before Him, all the days of our lives."


This much of Zacharias' prophecy has to do not with the work of John, but rather with the work of our Lord Jesus, the Christ. He is the "horn of salvation," or power of salvation, that is raised up for us in the house of God's servant David. He it is Who had been spoken of by all of God's "holy prophets, which have been since the world began. He it is Who will perform the mercy promised to the fathers, and "remember," in the sense of fulfilling it, His holy covenant, which is the same as "the oath which He sware to our father Abraham." The crowning blessing of it all to us is that, being through Him delivered from the hand of our enemies, we are now able to serve Him without fear, in holiness and righteousness before Him, all the days of our lives." Of course, the "we" that should be saved from the hand of our enemies is not limited to Israel . Neither are those enemies limited to the Romans under whose bondage Israel then served. But the "we" of this prophecy includes all, everywhere, who are brought to trust in the Lord Jesus; and "our enemies" includes all, both men and devils, who would hinder us. Being delivered from fear of them, we can "serve Him without fear, in holiness and righteousness before Him, all the days of our lives." Then Zacharias' prophecy turns its focus upon John.


(Verses 76 through 80) "And thou, child, shalt be called the prophet of the Highest: for thou shalt go before the face of the Lord to prepare His ways; to give knowledge of salvation unto His people by the remission of their sins, through the tender mercy of our God; whereby the Dayspring from on high hath visited us, to give light to them that sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace. And the child grew, and waxed strong in spirit, and was in the deserts till the day of his shewing unto Israel ."


Verses 76, 77, and down to the semi colon in verse 78, tell of the work of John the Baptist. From that point forward the focus is again upon Jesus. John was to be called the prophet of the Highest, because that, in a ministerial way, he would precede the Lord. His mission was to prepare His ways by "giving knowledge of," teaching the people of the salvation they were to receive by the remission, or taking away of their sins. This was to them a new doctrine. Under the law service, atonement was made by offering the appropriate sacrifice, but true remission, or taking away, was never achieved. So John was sent to preach this principle to the Lord's people, before He, Jesus the Christ, made His appearance. Looking forward, we find that, when John was asked whether or not he was the Christ, he answered, "I indeed baptize you with water; but one mightier than I cometh, the latchet of Whose shoes I am not worthy to unloose: He will baptize you with the Holy Ghost and with fire." (Luke 3:16). So his mission was not to give salvation, but to give knowledge of the salvation which comes through the remission of sins by Jesus, Who was anointed for that very work. Jesus is the Dayspring from on high. He it is that gives light to those  that "sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, and guides our feet into the way of peace." The child, John, grew, and was evidently strong in both body and spirit; for he lived in the deserts until time for him to make his appearance in his ministry, which began when he was about thirty years of age.

Chapter 2

(Verses 1 through 7) "And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus, that all the world should be taxed. (And this taxing was first made when Cyrenius was governor of Syria .) And all went to be taxed, every one to his own city. And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth , into Judaea, unto the city of David , which is called Bethlehem ; (because he was of the house and lineage of David:) to be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child. And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered. And she brought forth her firstborn Son, and wrapped Him in swaddling clothes, and laid Him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn."


One might think it a very easy thing to establish the year in which Jesus was born. Luke says that it was at the time of this taxing, decreed by Augustus, and further relates it to the time when Cyrenius was governor of Syria . Nevertheless, there has been, among learned historians, some controversy. Our present system of counting time A. D. assumes the count to begin with the first year of Jesus' life here on earth. Yet Herod the Great, who ordered the massacre of the children at Bethlehem in an effort to destroy Him, is said to have died in 4 B. C. And Jesus must have been about two years old at the time of the massacre. For Herod ordered all "from two years old and under, according to the time which he had diligently inquired of the wise men," to be killed. All of this establishes only one thing. That is, that God purposely concealed the year, as well as the season of the year, in which He was born, that men would have no excuse for doing exactly what they have done anyway, setting up a worship of the time of His birth, instead of worshipping Him. The so-called "Christmas" celebration was not established, until some 350 years after the birth of the Christ. It was adopted from altogether pagan celebrations, has retained their rituals, and was from the beginning admitted to be only a substitute for them, under the guise of Christianity. Today it and Easter are the two greatest pagan celebrations in the world. Some have raised the cry, "Put Christ back into Christmas." The big question is, "How can you put Him back into something in which He never was in the first place?" The Christian thing to do is to abandon paganism, and turn to the simplicity of worshipping the Christ, and not the man appointed day, which is a fallacy in the beginning, since as no one knows in what year He was born, surely, no one can know what month or day.


Since Joseph and Mary were both of the house and lineage of David, they were required to go to Bethlehem , the city of David , to be taxed. Luke calls Mary Joseph's "espoused wife," which can mean "engaged wife," which she was at the time of the angel's appearance to her. But she is at this time his "married wife," in keeping with what the angel is recorded by Matthew to have told Joseph, though they did not come together sexually until after the birth of Jesus. Mary was about to reach full term with her Child Jesus. While they were at Bethlehem , she did deliver her Son, and since there was no room for them in the inn, when she had dressed Him, she laid Him in a manger.


(Verses 8 through 14) "And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; ye shall find the Babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men."


As pointed out earlier, men do not even know in what year Jesus was born, so they certainly cannot know in what month, or on what day. This account says that, in that time there were shepherds "abiding in the field," or living out in the open, "keeping watch over their flock by night." Since this was in the "hill country," which is the cooler part of the area, and December is the cold and rainy season for that area, it is not likely that they would be living out in the open at this season. In fact, when people first began to celebrate "Christmas," there was much argument about when would be the proper season for it. One of the great reasons for the selection of December 25, was that, this was the time of the great feast to Tammuz, the sun god of many of the Middle Eastern people. The winter solstice was supposed to be the day of his death; and as the days began to lengthen, he was thought to revive, and this was their time for celebration.  Another important reason for the selection of this day was that, it coincides with the Pagan Roman celebration of Saturnalia, which it was intended to replace.


To these shepherds there appeared an angel of the Lord, and the glory of the Lord so lighted up the night around them, that they were very much afraid. The angel spoke peace to them, and said, "I bring you good tidings of joy that shall be to all people." Not only will there be great joy to many in Israel , but that joy shall also reach out to all people, not to every person in the world, but to every nation, people, and tongue, in the world. The occasion of this joy is that the time has come for the fulfilling of God's promise, and there is now a Saviour born in the city of David . This Saviour is none other than the Christ, or the Messiah, the Lord Himself. He then described to them how they would be able to recognize this Saviour. They were not sent to the house of the richest person in Bethlehem , but to a stable, where they would find this Baby in a manger. As soon as this message was delivered, a multitude of angels joined this angel who had spoken to them, and they were all praising God, and saying, "Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace, good will toward men." This does not mean that they were declaring that the world would from thenceforth be in peace: for Jesus Himself said, "Think not that I am come to bring peace on earth; but a sword." Rather it is much the same as the angel's message to the shepherds, "Fear not," or as Jesus said to His disciples, "Peace be unto you." (John 20:19). Those on earth are not to be afraid because of this: for it is the result of God's good will toward men.


(Verses 15 through 19) "And it came to pass, as the angels were gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another, Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us. And they came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the Babe lying in the manger. And when they had seen it, they made known abroad the saying, which was told them concerning this Child. And all they that heard it, wondered at those things, which were told them by the shepherds. But Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart."


Surely, this needs no explanation for clarity, but there are some things one should compare with Matthew's record of the birth of our Lord. Neither Mark nor John gives anything about it; so our only details must come from Matthew and Luke. In Matthew's account, no mention is made of the shepherds, but he does tell of the visit of the wise men, of whom Luke says nothing. The seeming discrepancy is cleared up, when we study the details themselves. Luke records the shepherds as going immediately to Bethlehem , and finding Joseph, Mary, and Jesus, in the stable, just as the angel had said. When the wise men, of whom Matthew tells, arrived on the scene, their answer to Herod concerning when the star first made its appearance, indicates that their arrival was about two years after the birth of Jesus. And in that same account, it is said, of the wise men, that when they "were come into the house, they saw the young Child, with Mary His mother, and fell down, and worshipped Him." This had to be some time after the birth of the Child. The family is no longer in the stable, but in a house. It must be, that after going back to Nazareth , as said in verse 39 of this chapter, they made another trip back to Bethlehem about two years later. For Matthew tells us that Bethlehem is where the wise men found the family. And immediately upon their departure from Bethlehem , an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph, warning him to take Mary and Jesus to Egypt , which he did, even arising in the night, and departing with them. Then, after Herod's death, in obedience to the commandment of God, they returned to Nazareth . Nevertheless, one should not be disturbed by such small apparent discrepancies. For all of these accounts were written several years after the events themselves took place. And, although the Holy Ghost could easily have inspired each writer so that every account would have been, as it were, a carbon copy of every other account, that would, in itself, have caused more disbelief of the record than these slight discrepancies. They only serve to show that each account was written by a different witness, and, in the case of the details of things concerning Jesus' birth, from what had been told these witnesses, and not what they themselves had seen. In such accounts there are necessarily slight differences. When the shepherds found all things just as the angel had told them, they spread the word around, but apparently, only locally: for the news did not reach Herod until the coming of the wise men. All the people, who heard these things, wondered at them, and at what they might portend; but Mary, who had already been told by the angel Who this Child was, simply kept these sayings in memory, and thought upon them.


(Verses 20 through 24) "And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told unto them. And when eight days were accomplished for the circumcising of the Child, His name was called Jesus, Which was so named of the angel before He was conceived in the womb. And when the days of her purification according to the law of Moses were accomplished, they brought Him to Jerusalem to present Him to the Lord. (As it is written in the law of the Lord, Every male that openeth the womb shall be called holy to the Lord;) and to offer a sacrifice according to that which is said in the law of the Lord, a pair of turtle doves, or two young pigeons."


In this account, the shepherds returned to their charges, praising God for what He had told them, and had had them witness. When the Child was circumcised, which was also the time for recording His name as a son of Abraham, His name was called Jesus, just as God had commanded. Nothing extraordinary took place until the time of His being taken to the temple to be presented to the Lord, and to have the proper sacrifice offered for Him, as required by the law.


(Verses 25 through 32) "And, behold, there was a man in Jerusalem , whose name was Simeon; and the same man was just and devout, waiting for the consolation of Israel : and it was revealed unto him by the Holy Ghost, that he should not see death, before he had seen the Lord's Christ. And he came by the Spirit into the temple: and when the parents brought in the Child Jesus, to do for Him after the custom of the law, then took he Him up in his arms, and blessed God, and said, Lord, now lettest Thou Thy servant depart in peace, according to Thy word: for mine eyes have seen Thy salvation, which Thou hast prepared before the face of all people; a light to lighten the Gentiles, and the glory of Thy people Israel."


Simeon was a man chosen of God for a rare privilege. Though nothing is said about his age, the circumstances and events seem to indicate that he was somewhat advanced in years; but God had by the Holy ghost revealed to him that he would not die until he had seen the Lord's Christ. That, in that day, would seem almost as great a promise as if today He should reveal to someone by the Holy Ghost, that he should not die, but remain alive on earth until the return of our Lord. He was moved by the spirit to go into the temple, and was there when Joseph and Mary brought Jesus in to do for Him that which was required by the law of God. He took the Child in his arms, praised God for the fulfilling of His promise, and declared his readiness now to die. This salvation which he had been blessed to see, God had "prepared before the face of all people; a light to lighten the Gentiles, and the glory" of Israel . Thus He is not the God of the Jews only, but also the God of the Gentiles.


(Verses 33 through 39) "And Joseph and His mother marveled at those things which were spoken of Him. And Simeon blessed them, and said unto Mary His mother, Behold, this Child is set for the fall and rising again of many in Israel; and for a sign which shall be spoken against; (yea, a sword shall pierce through thine own soul also,) that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed. And there was one Anna, a prophetess, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Aser: she was of great age, and had lived with an husband seven years from her virginity; and she was a widow of about fourscore and four years, which departed not from the temple, but served God with fastings and prayers night and day. And she coming in that instant gave thanks likewise unto the Lord, and spake of Him to all that looked for redemption in Jerusalem . And when they had performed all things according to the law of the Lord, they returned into Galilee, to their own city Nazareth ."


Simeon called upon God to bless Mary and Joseph, and spoke to them about Jesus. Let us take what he said, and remove the parenthesis from its present location to the end of his speech, which may clarify it somewhat. Thus we have, "Behold, this Child is set for the fall and rising again of many in Israel ; and for a sign that shall be spoken against; that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed: (yea, and a sword shall pierce through thine own soul also.)" Without looking at all those who, because of Jesus, would fall, and rise again, let us consider only one as an illustration, Saul of Tarsus. He was a great man in what he later called "the Jews' religion," even to the point of representing the council when Stephen was stoned to death. But when it pleased God to make him fall on the road to Damascus , he arose again by the grace of God, so that without boasting he could say that he was "not a whit behind the chiefest of the apostles." Jesus was also to be "for a sign that shall be spoken against; that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed." By reason of the speaking against this sign [or wonder] the wicked thoughts of the hearts of the scribes, Pharisees, Sadducees, priests, and elders, and all they could control, were revealed. At the same time, and by reason of this same sign, the thoughts of the hearts of those who were given faith in Him were also revealed. Surely as Mary stood by the cross on which He was crucified, and sat by the tomb in which He was buried, a sword pierced through her own soul also.


As Simeon finished his prophecy, another, a prophetess by the name of Anna, came on the scene. The word "prophetess" here, no doubt carries the old testament meaning, "one who foretells events." When Luke says that she was "a widow of fourscore and four years," it may not be clear whether he means that, she had been a widow for eighty-four years, or whether she was eighty-four years old. But, since he has already said that she was "of great age," probably, the meaning is that she had been a widow that long. She never left the temple, but was continually engaged in fastings and prayers to God. She was not in one continuous fast, which would, of course, soon have brought her to death; but she was regularly fasting at specified times, and continuing in prayers. When she saw Jesus, she too gave thanks to God, and declared Him to be the One to give redemption to all who looked for it. As soon as all the required rituals were accomplished, Joseph and Mary took Jesus home. See earlier notes concerning the apparent differences between the accounts of Luke and Matthew regarding their going to Nazareth .


(Verses 40 through 45) "And the Child grew, and waxed strong in spirit, filled with wisdom: and the grace of God was upon Him. Now His parents went up to Jerusalem every year at the feast of the Passover. And when He was twelve years old, they went up to Jerusalem after the custom of the feast. And when they had fulfilled the days, as they returned, the Child Jesus tarried behind in Jerusalem ; and Joseph and His mother knew not of it. But they, supposing Him to have been in the company, went a day's journey; and they sought Him among their kinsfolk and acquaintance. And when they found Him not, they turned back again to Jerusalem , seeking Him."


One might wonder how Joseph and Mary could go a whole day's journey without their Son, without knowing that He was missing. The key to this is the phrase, "Among their kinsfolk and acquaintance." In making the trip from Nazareth to Jerusalem, especially when going to the Passover, a large group, comprised of several families, would travel together, both for safety, and for the social value of the occasion. So with such a crowd, a twelve-year old boy might readily be overlooked for a day.


(Verses 46 through 52) "And it came to pass, that after three days they found Him in the temple, sitting in the midst of the doctors, both hearing them, and asking them questions. And all that heard Him were astonished at His understanding and answers. And when they saw Him, they were amazed: and His mother said unto Him, Son, why hast Thou thus dealt with us? Behold, Thy father and I have sought Thee sorrowing. And He said unto them, How is it that ye sought Me? Wist ye not that I must be about My Father's business? And they understood not the saying that He spake unto them. And He went down with them, and came to Nazareth , and was subject unto them: but His mother kept all these sayings in her heart. And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man."


Some people preach what they term "the age of accountability," which they try to set at about twelve years of age, claiming this event as proof of it. This, of course, is utterly ridiculous, as well as completely without even a hint of scriptural support. Jesus being only twelve years old at this time, was filled with wisdom so that, He was talking with these doctors, (not physicians, but doctors of the law,) "both hearing them, and asking them questions." This Child was so filled with wisdom that "all that heard Him were astonished at His answers." When His parents found Jesus and reproached Him for thus dealing with them, He answered, "How is it that ye sought Me? Wist ye not that I must be about My Father's business?" They could not understand this saying, although they knew that He is the Son of God. He was about His Father's business in talking to these doctors of the law; but His mother and Joseph were probably thinking Him too young to begin His work, since the official service of the priests and Levites begins at about thirty years of age. Nevertheless, He went with them to Nazareth , and was obedient to them. His mother, as she had done with the other sayings she had heard, kept these sayings in her heart. Luke says, "And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man."


Chapter 3

(Verses 1 through 6) "Now in the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar, Pontius Pilate being governor of Judaea, and Herod being tetrarch of Galilee, and his brother Philip tetrarch of Ituraea and of the region of Trachonitis, and Lysanias the tetrarch of Abilene, Annas and Caiaphas being the high priests, the word of God came unto John the son of Zacharias in the wilderness.  And he came into all the country about Jordan, preaching the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins; as it is written in the book of the words of Esaias the prophet, saying, The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make His paths straight. Every valley shall be filled, and every mountain and hill shall be brought low; and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough ways shall be made smooth; and all flesh shall see the salvation of God."


Luke seems to have gone to great length to establish the timing of this event, the beginning of the ministry of John the Baptist. Since Tiberius began to reign in 14 A. D., (UNIVERSAL WORLD REFERENCE ENCYCLOPEDIA) and this took place in the fifteenth year of his reign, it would appear to be in about 28 A. D. Looking ahead, we see in verse 23 that at this time, Jesus was about thirty years of age, which, since it was apparently said to establish the fact that He was at the proper age, according to the law of Moses, to enter into His ministry, could stand a variation of a few months, but not a few years.  Had He been born at the beginning of 1 A. D. there would have been, of necessity, more than that much variation. All of this proves of a certainty that man does not know even the year in which He was born; so we can not know the season of the year.


Since there was never more than one high priest at the time, one might wonder why Luke says, "Annas and Caiaphas being the high priests." Some learned men have set forth long discussions of this matter, and then concluded that they did not have sufficient evidence to prove their contention. So the only thing we can suggest is that, it may have been because Annas had been high priest, and was succeeded by Caiaphas, his son in law. Apparently, although Caiaphas was actually high priest when Jesus was arrested, John tells us that those who took Him, "led Him away to Annas first; for he was father in law to Caiaphas, which was the high priest that same year." (John 18:13) Except for this, there appears to be no hint in scripture for such a statement. It may be possible that Luke is considering the fact that the Jewish year does not exactly coincide with the Roman year, and speaking of the Roman year. In that case, Annas was the high priest at the first of the Roman year, and Caiaphas in the later part.


At this time, the word of God came to John, who, as we were earlier told, "was in the deserts till the day of his shewing unto Israel ," and now he came into "all the country about Jordan , preaching the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins." Just a quick look at a map of the area will show that "the country about Jordan " is almost the only suitable place in the region for John's activities. He was "preaching the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins." That is, he was preaching that those who repent have their sins remitted, and that they should be baptized in witness thereof. Since Jordan was almost the only stream in the region with sufficient water for baptism, [immersion,] this was the most logical place for him to go for his work. Luke declares that, John's coming thus was the fulfilling of Isaiah's prophecy. (See Isaiah 40:3-8.) In this day we hear a great cry from people concerning economic matters, "We want a level playing field." That is exactly what is in Isaiah's prophecy, except that, it refers not to political or economic conditions, but to the salvation God has prepared, and will now reveal to "all flesh." The same understanding is to be used concerning "all flesh," as is to be used of "all men." It does not include every individual person in the world, but every nation, kindred, tongue, and people, of all classes, all sexes, and all ages. The mighty, "every mountain and hill," are brought low; and those of low estate, "every valley," shall be "filled," or exalted. No more will one nation have the pre-eminence, but "all flesh shall see the salvation of God."


(Verses 7 through 11)"Then said he to the multitude that came forth to be baptized of him, O generation of vipers, who hath warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Bring forth therefore fruits worthy of repentance, and begin not to say within yourselves, We have Abraham to our father: for I say unto you, That God is able of these stones to raise up children unto Abraham. And now also the axe is laid to the root of the trees; every tree therefore which bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. And the people asked him, saying, What shall we do then? He answereth and saith unto them, He that hath two coats, let him impart to him that hath none; and he that hath meat, let him do likewise."


Matthew records what John said to the multitude as being primarily directed at the Pharisees and Sadducees who came to him, but since he was speaking publicly, in a manner of speaking he was addressing the multitude also. This shows that even John had no confidence in baptism, except as a testimony of repentance; because he demanded that they first show repentance by their works before being baptized. Heretofore the Jew said, "I have a right to the blessings of God, because I am a son of Abraham." He felt that this set him above everyone else; it made him "a mountain," or "a hill." Now he is "brought low;" this will no longer suffice. "God is able of these stones to raise up children unto Abraham." Some have argued that John was not speaking of the literal stones that were lying around the area, but of the "hard and stony hearts" of the people. This is an utterly ridiculous argument. First, because John was not saying, "God is going to raise up children unto Abraham," but "God is able to raise up children unto Abraham." If one believes that God is God, he can not fail to believe that He can raise up children from the stones on the ground, the leaves of a tree, or any other source he might choose. Second, all those gathered around were already children of Abraham according to the flesh, whether they had the faith of Abraham, or not. "And now also the axe is laid to the root of the trees _ _ _." The end has come for all pretending, and all lip service without reality. If there is no good fruit, the tree will be cut down, and cast into the fire. This immediately brought a question from the people, "What shall we do then?" If they had to bring forth fruit, they wanted to know what would be counted as such fruit. His answer was simple: to use our own words, "If you have two coats, and see someone who has none, give him one of yours; and if you have food, and see one who is hungry, share it with him." This will work now as well as then.


(Verses 12 through 14) "Then came the publicans to be baptized, and said unto him, Master, what shall we do? and he said to them, Exact no more than that which is appointed you. And the soldiers likewise demanded of him, saying, And what shall we do? And he said unto them, Do violence to no man, neither accuse any falsely, and be content with your wages."


The word "publican," in the New Testament actually means "tax gatherer," or "tax collector." These often obtained their office by what we today might call "bidding" for it. He who agreed to pay the government the largest sum of taxes from the district obtained the office. Then what he collected above what he had to pay the government was his to keep. This naturally led to a lot of what we sometimes call gouging. This is one of the reasons why publicans, as a class, were so vehemently hated by the whole Jewish society. Now they asked John what they should do to show repentance. His answer was, "Exact no more than that which is appointed you." Certainly, since tax collecting was their means of livelihood, they should be allowed reasonable pay for their work; but they should not exact any more than was reasonable.


After the publicans, the soldiers came with the same question concerning themselves. Most likely these "soldiers" were not Roman soldiers, but private guards permitted to the Jewish council for guarding the temple, and for other purposes of actually a civilian nature; but they were nevertheless called soldiers. John said, Do violence to no man, neither accuse any falsely, and be content with your wages." All three of these things address a problem that had long been between these soldiers and the remainder of the civilian population. Most of these soldiers were such, primarily because they thought this work to give them the right to be arrogant and violent toward the remainder of the people. They thought nothing of pushing their way through a crowd, and even violently shoving someone out of their way as they went. So John's answer to them was, "Do violence to no man." When there was any resistance to their roughshod ways, they would sometimes falsely accuse the civilians of starting the trouble, and call in more of their fellow guards to control the crowd. They are told, "neither accuse any falsely." They even seemed to think that their profession entitled them to take anything they wanted from anyone, and claim it as their due, because they were underpaid for the risks they took in battle for the protection of the people and the temple. To them John also said, "Be content with your wages." Many other things may also be addressed in John's answer to them.


(Verses 15 through 20) "And as the people were in expectation, and all men mused in their hearts of John, whether he were the Christ, or not; John answered saying unto them all, I indeed baptize you with water, but One mightier than I cometh, the latchet of Whose shoes I am not worthy to unloose: He shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost and with fire. Whose fan is in His hand, and He will thoroughly purge His floor, and will gather the wheat into His garner; but the chaff He will burn with fire unquenchable. And many other things in his exhortation preached he unto the people. But Herod the tetrarch, being reproved by him for Herodias his brother Philip's wife, and for all the evils which Herod had done, added yet this above all, that he shut up John in prison."


John's preaching was completely different from anything the people of that day had ever heard; and, probably, they had heard some rumors of the predictions made of Jesus at the time of his birth. So now, as they observed John, they were much confused, wondering if he were the Christ. He cleared this question for them quickly and positively. He declared to them that, he was not the Christ; but that the Christ was about to make His appearance. He, Who was to follow John, is so great that John was not worthy to even untie His shoes. The difference between their baptisms is just as great as the difference between the persons. John only baptized with water as a testimony of repentance. The Christ baptizes with the Holy Ghost and with fire, the baptism that actually takes away sin. Not only so, but He is prepared to judge the world, as signified by the separating of the wheat and the chaff in the harvest. The fact that the judgment will wait until His second coming does not deny that He is ready to judge, because all judgment is of the Father committed unto Him. (See John 5:22.) When the time comes for the judgment, He will make a clean sweep of His floor: He will put His wheat into the garner, but all the chaff will be burned with unquenchable fire. This and much more John preached to the people.


Here Luke looks somewhat ahead, omitting several things of which John tells us in his account. Though it sounds a little like Herod imprisoned John immediately after this, such is not quite the case, but Luke is only looking ahead to what he considers the more important events. Later Herod did indeed imprison John, because John had reproved him for his taking Herodias as his wife. This Herodias had been the wife of his brother Philip, who was also her uncle, as was Herod. As if this were not bad enough, she abandoned Philip, and Herod took her as his wife. This is why John reproved Herod for marrying her; and for this Herod had him put into prison.


(Verses 21 through 23) "Now when all the people were baptized it came to pass, that Jesus also being baptized, and praying, the heaven was opened, and the Holy Ghost descended in a bodily shape like a dove upon Him, and a voice came from heaven, which said, Thou art My beloved Son; in Whom I am well pleased. And Jesus Himself began to be about thirty years of age, being (as was supposed) the Son of Joseph, which was the son of Heli."


Matthew, Mark, and John also record this event. Each uses different words to describe it, but overall they agree very closely. When Jesus, the Son of God, was baptized, the Holy Spirit descended from heaven and alighted on Him in the form of a dove; and a voice from heaven declared Him to be the Son of God, beloved of, and well pleasing to, God. We have already addressed the matter of Jesus' age. Matthew tells us that, "Jacob begat Joseph," which Joseph is here said to be "the son of Heli." Most of those who have made an in depth study of these two genealogies seem to agree that indeed that given by Matthew is Joseph's, and that given by Luke is Mary's. They tell us that although Joseph is here called "the son of Heli," he actually was his son in law, and that this was a common manner of speaking among the Jews. The remainder of the chapter is only a list of names, tracing this genealogy all the way back to Adam who, though called "the son of God," was not God's son by generation, but by creation. Thus is the lineage of Jesus traced all the way back to the first man, Adam, proving Him to be "the Son of Man."


Chapter 4

(Verse 1 through 4) "And Jesus being full of the Holy Ghost returned from Jordan , and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness, being forty days tempted of the devil. And in those days He did eat nothing: and when they were ended, He afterward hungered. And the devil said unto Him "If Thou be the Son of God, command that these stones be made bread. And Jesus answered him, saying, It is written, that man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word of God."


Matthew records this same event. There are three temptations in the series; and Mathew records the second and third in reverse order from that given here, which makes little difference to us; for the lesson is the same in either order. They both record the present temptation as the first in the series. The only difference being that Luke seems to indicate that the devil was tempting Jesus all during the forty days, while Matthew seems to say that the tempting only began after the forty days of fasting were accomplished. Since Luke does not give the text of any of the temptations until the end of the fast, we shall consider this the first temptation.


One of the things for which Jesus taught His disciples to pray is, "Lead us not into temptation." Yet here Luke says that Jesus "was led by the Spirit into the wilderness." Matthew says, "Then was Jesus led up of the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil." Some might ask, "How can all this be compatible with James' statement, `For God cannot be tempted of evil, neither tempteth He any man'?" We shall attempt to organize these in a manner that will give us the answer. Certainly James is correct in his statement. Nevertheless, God does sometimes lead His servants into, or cause them to be placed in, situations where they will be tempted, so that their faith and their faithfulness may be tested and made manifest to all, to the glory of God. Witness the sending of Joseph into Egypt and the placing of him in the house of Potiphar. His story is recorded in detail in Genesis, so we shall not repeat it here. In Genesis 45:7 Joseph says, "And God sent me before you to preserve you a posterity in the earth, and to save your lives by a great deliverance." Then in Genesis 50:20 He says, "But as for you, ye meant it for evil against me; but God meant it for good." Nevertheless, Jesus instructed His disciples to pray that they be not led into temptation, because we are of such weak faith that we should always pray that we avoid such, instead of asking to be tested. Yet, if we are thus led, we are still to pray to be delivered from the evil, the evil being yielding to the temptation. The Spirit led Jesus into the wilderness to be tempted for a purpose. Since "God giveth not the Spirit by measure unto Him," (John 3:34 ) He could not be overcome by Satan. And by the very means He used to drive Satan away, He shows us the weapon available to every one of His children: and He will also give us the grace to use it, if we strive valiantly to serve Him.


The first temptation is one that is common to all men, except that, all men, are not the Son of God with power to make bread of stones. Jesus had that power. Since He had fasted forty days, that body of flesh in which He was, was hungry, just as would be yours or mine. Satan said, "If Thou be the Son of God, command that these stones be made bread." What a temptation!  He was hungry. He had the power. What would be wrong in so doing? First, it would be for the satisfying of the flesh; He was hungry. Second, it would have been for self-aggrandizement, to prove to Satan that which both of them knew already, He is the Son of God. Finally, it would have shown unwillingness to wait upon the Father. What then is the solution? The word of God: "It is written, That man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word of God."


(Verses 5 through 8) "And the devil taking Him up into an exceeding high mountain, shewed unto Him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time. And the devil said unto Him, All this power will I give Thee, and the glory of them: for that is delivered unto me; and to whomsoever I will I give it. If Thou therefore wilt worship me, all shall be Thine. And Jesus answered and said unto him, Get thee behind Me, Satan, for it is written Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and Him only shalt thou serve."


Many have overlooked the true lesson in this. They read what Satan said, and agree with him, that all these things are given to him to distribute as he will. They even say that the fact that Jesus did not dispute what Satan said proves it to be true. When a person is a liar of such magnitude that everyone knows that he never tells the truth, it is foolish to deny what he says, or to argue with him. Notice what Jesus has told us about Satan, as He spoke to the Pharisees, "Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because THERE IS NO TRUTH IN HIM. When he speaketh of a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it." Jesus is Himself the Master of all. The only power Satan has is that which he maintains by conning men into believing and following him. Many have learned to their sorrow, that he cannot deliver on his promises. Jesus' answer to this temptation teaches us that we should never argue with Satan, but reach for the same weapon by which He overcame him, the word of God.


(Verses 9 through 13) "And he brought Him to Jerusalem, and set Him on a pinnacle of the temple, and said unto Him, If Thou be the Son of God, cast Thyself down from hence: for it is written, He shall give His angels charge over Thee, to keep Thee: and in their hands they shall bear Thee up, lest at any time Thou dash Thy foot against a stone. And Jesus answering said unto him, It is said, Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God. And the devil departed from Him for a season."


In these two temptations we notice: in the first, "the devil taketh Him;" and in the second, "and he brought Him." Some seem to think these to be only figments of the imagination, but they literally took place. Jesus suffered Satan to carry Him to these places. We see in this last temptation the same thing that was in the first one, Satan demanding that Jesus prove Himself to him. In this temptation Satan even quoted scripture to support his demand, and he quoted it correctly: his failure was that he made the wrong application of it, and by so doing tried to lead Jesus into disobeying a commandment of God. So Jesus answered him with, "It is said, (or it is written,) Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God." As with all scripture, this is, no doubt, written for our benefit, to warn us that we must study the word of God that we know how far one scripture can be extended before it would develop an idea that would be contrary to another scripture. For there is no contradiction between one scripture and another, when they are properly understood. No matter how good a proposition may sound, and even if someone accompanies it with a scriptural quotation, if it is contrary to other scriptures, it must be refused. We sometimes hear a doctrine of that sort today. Its proponents begin by pointing out that we are saved by the grace of God, without consideration of our works, which is true, and is supported by the word of God. Then they bring in the same doctrine that Satan presented in this temptation, "Since you are saved by His grace, you can commit any sin you want to, and it will have no effect on your salvation. You will be saved regardless." If this is not an effort to teach men to tempt God, What is it?


(Verses 14 through 16) "And Jesus returned in the power of the Spirit into Galilee : and there went out a fame of Him through all the region round about. And He taught in their synagogues, being glorified of all. And He came to Nazareth , where He had been brought up: and as His custom was, He went into the synagogue on the Sabbath day, and stood up for to read."


This is only a simple account of Jesus' return to Galilee . Since He returned there in the power of the spirit, He evidently wrought some miracles among the people, because His fame spread quickly through the area. He taught in their synagogues, and everyone considered Him an excellent teacher, "He was glorified of all." He came back to the city Nazareth , where He had grown up. As He had been doing in other places, He went into the synagogue on the Sabbath day, and stood up before the congregation to read. The custom there was somewhat different from our modern customs, probably, in some measure, because books were not so common as they are today. He did not carry a book of His own; and whether He called for the book of Isaiah, or not, we do not know; but that is what was given Him to read.


(Verses 17 through 22) "And there was delivered unto Him the book of the prophet Esaias. And when He opened the book, He found the place where it was written, The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, because He hath anointed Me to preach the gospel to the poor; He hath sent Me to heal the broken hearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, to preach the acceptable year of the Lord. And He closed the book, and He gave it to the minister, and sat down. And the eyes of all them that were in the synagogue were fastened on Him. And He began to say unto them, This day is this scripture fulfilled in your ears. And all bare Him witness, and wondered at the gracious words that proceeded out of His mouth. And they said, Is not this Joseph's son?"


The passage Jesus read is Isaiah 61: 1, and down to the comma in verse 2. As in many of Isaiah's prophecies, there is a mingling of events of Jesus' first coming with those of His second. The very next phrase of this prophecy is "and the day of vengeance of our God." Jesus closed the book without reading it, because it is not included in His first advent, but will be fulfilled when He returns. The Spirit of the Lord was upon Him, and He was anointed to preach the gospel to the poor. This is one of the points of evidence He sent back to John the Baptist in answer to his question, "Art Thou He that should come? or look we for another?" He was sent to "heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, to preach the acceptable year of the Lord." But both the preaching of, (or proclamation of,) and the fulfilling of "the day of vengeance of our God," are still pending, and will be at the appointed time. Having read this selection, He closed the book, returned it to the minister, and sat down. The congregation in the synagogue, evidently, felt that He would have something more to say, so they watched Him very intently. As they did so, He began to speak.


His first statement was very simple, but extremely important, "This day is this scripture fulfilled in your ears." This is the same as saying, "You have heard this prophecy read; and now you see it fulfilled." "And all bear Him witness." That is, they all heard Him. Notice their reaction, and compare it to the reaction of the same ones a few moments later. They "wondered at the gracious words that proceeded out of His mouth." Yet it appears that, even now there may have been a little jealousy among them toward Him; for "they said, Is not this Joseph's son?"


(Verses 23 through 27) "And He said unto them, Ye will surely say unto Me, this proverb, Physician, heal thyself: whatsoever we have heard done in Capernaum , do also here in Thy country. And He said, verily I say unto you, No prophet is accepted in his own country. But I tell you of a truth, many widows were in Israel in the days of Elias, when the heaven was shut up three years and six months, when great famine was throughout all the land. But unto none of them was Elias sent, save unto Sarepta, a city of Sidon , unto a woman that was a widow. And many lepers were in Israel in the time of Eliseus the prophet; and none of them was cleansed, saving Naaman the Syrian."


Jesus knew the jealous nature of humanity, and set it forth in the proverb He quoted. It really comes down to the idea of, "If someone else has it, I want it." He reminded them that, historically, prophets are not honored or accepted in their home communities. The general attitude is exactly as the people had just said, "Is not this Joseph's son?," or "We know him; he can't be any greater than we are." He called to their minds two incidents of which they had many times read, or been told. The first is in 1 Kings 17:8-24, and the second is found in 2 Kings 5:1-19. He emphasized the fact that, in Israel there were many, in both instances, who suffered the same problems as the ones who were relieved by these prophets. But the prophets were sent to Gentiles, a Sidonian, and a Syrian, instead of to Israelites, signifying that, God is sovereign in His work, sending both His messages and His messengers to whom He will. It further reinforces what Jesus many times declared, He came not to do His will, but that of the Father Who sent Him.


(Verses 28 through 32) "And all they in the synagogue, when they heard these things, were filled with wrath, and rose up, and thrust Him out of the city, and led Him to the brow of the hill whereon their city was built, that they might cast Him down headlong. But He passing through the midst of them went His way, and came down to Capernaum , a city of Galilee , and taught them on the Sabbath days. And they were astonished at His doctrine: for His word was with power."


How quickly the little touch of jealousy in the minds of the people became such anger that, they wanted to kill Jesus, when they found that He would not demonstrate His power just to satisfy their curiosity! However, He just passed through the midst of the crowd, and went to Capernaum . Though with the methods of travel in those days, it may have taken two days to go from Nazareth to Capernaum , there are no incidents along the way recorded here. While at Capernaum , Jesus went into the synagogue on the Sabbath days, and taught the people; and they were astonished at His doctrine: [or teaching:] for His word was with power." Not only was the power of the Spirit in Him to perform miracles, but, as we consider what Mark says about this same incident, "And they were astonished at His doctrine: for He taught them as One that had authority, and not as the scribes." (Mark 1:22 .) No matter how sincere, and how well versed in the scriptures the scribes were, they could only say, "The scriptures say," or "such and such great rabbis have interpreted this to mean." But not so with Jesus: He many times said, "But I say unto you," or "Verily I say unto you," signifying One with authority. Sometimes His saying directly contradicted the accepted interpretation of some point. This would indeed astonish the people, just as it does today when someone challenges the traditions of today.


(Verses 33 through 37) "And in the synagogue there was a man which had a spirit of an unclean devil, and cried out with a loud voice, saying, Let us alone; what have we to do with Thee, Thou Jesus of Nazareth? Art Thou come to destroy us? I know Thee, Who Thou art; the holy One of God. And Jesus rebuked him, saying, Hold thy peace, and come out of him. And when the devil had thrown him in the midst, he came out of him, and hurt him not. And they were all amazed, and spake among themselves, saying, What a word is this! for with authority and power He commandeth the unclean spirits and they come out. And the fame of Him went out into every place of the country round about."


According to both Luke and Mark, this might be the first miracle of casting out devils that Jesus wrought, though John insists that His very first miracle was the turning of the water into wine at Cana of Galilee. James said, "Thou believest there is one God; thou doest well: the devils believe also, and tremble." Many seem to think that, any person who says that he believes there is one God, is a saved character; but James denies that, and here is his proof: "Let us alone; what have we to do with Thee, Jesus of Nazareth? Art Thou come to destroy us? I know Thee, Who Thou art; the holy One of God." Not only do the devils believe there is one God: they also know Jesus of Nazareth as the holy One of God, and fear Him as the Judge, Who will sentence them to eternal torment. And, in this instance, this devil feared that He had come to destroy the devils, albeit, at this time He had only come to deliver the captives, and set at liberty them that were bruised by the devils. As the people were already astonished at His doctrine, they now found that, His power justified His doctrine: "for with authority and power He commandeth the unclean spirits, and they come out." Such a miracle could hardly fail to cause His fame to spread through all the region.


(Verses 38 and 39) "And He arose out of the synagogue, and entered Simon's house. And Simon's wife's mother was taken of a great fever; and they besought Him for her. And he stood over her, and rebuked the fever; and it left her: and immediately she arose and ministered unto them."


In comparison to some of the miracles Jesus wrought, this might be considered a small incident. Nevertheless, let us look a little more closely at it. Though nothing is here said about this woman's being bedridden because of the fever, the fever is said to be great, and Matthew says, "And when Jesus was come into Peter's house, He saw his wife's mother laid, and sick of a fever." Also Luke does say, "And He stood over her, and rebuked the fever. So there can be no doubt that, this fever was severe enough that Simon's mother in law was bedridden, and completely incapacitated because of it. We all know that such a fever would so weaken the body that, if the fever were cured by any natural means known to man, it would still have taken days for the body to regain its strength. Not so with the work of our Lord: when He rebuked the fever, "it left her, and immediately she arose and ministered to them."


(Verses 40 through 44) "Now when the sun was setting, all they that had any sick with divers diseases brought them unto him; and He laid His hands on every one of them, and healed them. And devils also came out of many, crying out, and saying, Thou art (the) Christ, the Son of God. And He rebuking them suffered them not to speak: for they knew that He was (the) Christ. And when it was day, He departed, and went into a desert place: And the people sought Him, and came unto Him, and stayed Him, that he should not depart from them. And He said unto them, I must preach the kingdom of God to other cities also: for therefore am I sent. And He preached in the synagogues of Galilee ."


Since this is only a very simple recital of events, there should be no difficulty in one's understanding it. There appear in this text, however, two mistakes of the translators, which have caused a general misunderstanding of people concerning the word "Christ." If this were the only place they occurred, they would have done little harm; but one of these they consistently made, and the other they made far more often than was good for the readers. The first is, they did not translate the word "Christos," but simply used in the English the Greek word with the deletion of the last two letters, which has caused the almost universal mistake of thinking the word "Christ" to be a name of our Lord Jesus. IT IS NOT. It is His title, and means "Anointed;" and in most instances should be preceded by the definite article "the." In most instances in the Greek text it is thus; but even in many of these, the translators left it out of the English. This is one of those complaints that will by many be considered "hair splitting," and worthless. Perhaps the real significance of the lack of translation is best shown by a quotation from the Apostle Peter on the day of Pentecost. (Acts 2:38 ) As in the K. J. V., "Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins:" complete translation, "Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Anointed for the remission of sins." In the first reading, it appears that being baptized might remit sins, which Peter himself says it will not do. (See 1 Peter 3:21) The second reading makes it clear that Jesus was anointed for the remission of sins, and this the entire Bible will support. The people of Capernaum tried to persuade Jesus to stay with them, but He told them that, He must continue His mission, which He accordingly did.


Chapter 5

(Verses 1 through 5) "And it came to pass, that, as the people pressed upon Him to hear the word of God, He stood by the lake of Gennesaret, and saw two ships standing by the lake but the fishermen were gone out of them, and were washing their nets. And He entered into one of the ships, which was Simon's, and prayed him that he would thrust out a little from the land. And He sat down, and taught the people out of the ship. Now when He had left speaking, He said unto Simon, Launch out into the deep, and let down your nets for a draught. And Simon answering said unto Him, Master, we have toiled all night, and have taken nothing: nevertheless at Thy word I will let down the net."


As we continue, we find that this is all leading up to the calling of Peter, Andrew, (though Andrew is not here mentioned,) James, and John. There seem to be some differences in the memories of the gospel writers concerning this event, which we shall not try to discuss at length at this time. Matthew sets this incident earlier than some of the events of the last chapter. He also gives some details that are a little different from those here given. One might wonder why, since the Holy Ghost inspired these men to write, He did not make them agree perfectly in every detail. Why He did not is not ours to inquire; but certainly we can see a great advantage in doing as He did. Had He caused these witnesses to agree in all details and in the sequence of the details, men would have looked upon these accounts, and said, "This is all pre-arranged and coached testimony, and therefore cannot be received as the truth." By leaving faithful witnesses to rely, each upon his own memory of events, He provided testimony that agrees in principle, but has just enough differences to prove it genuine.


At this point, we have Luke's account of Jesus as he taught the people by the lake of Gennesaret , (or Sea of Galilee ). With two boats sitting idly by, He borrowed one, and sitting in it He taught the people. It was Simon Peter's boat: and when Jesus had finished speaking, He told Peter to take the boat out into deeper water, and let down his net. Although he had worked unsuccessfully all night, he agreed that he would let down the net when Jesus gave the word.


(Verses 6 through 11) "And when they had this done, they enclosed a great multitude of fishes; and their net brake. And they beckoned unto their partners, which were in the other ship, that they should come and help them. And they came, and filled both ships, so they began to sink. when Simon Peter saw it, he fell down at Jesus' knees, saying, Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord. For he was astonished, and all that were with him, at the draught of fishes which they had taken. And so were also James and John, the sons of Zebedee, which were partners with Simon. And Jesus said unto Simon, Fear not: from henceforth thou shalt catch men. And when they had brought their ships to land, they forsook all, and followed Him."


When Peter and his crew let down their net, they enclosed such a multitude of fish that their net began to break. When Luke says, "their net brake," he does not mean that it broke so that all the fish escaped, but that it was so severely strained that it began to tear in some places. When they had called their partners to come in the other boat, and help them, they overloaded both boats with their catch. When this took place, Peter fell down before Jesus, and made a strange sounding declaration: "Depart from me; for I am a sinful man, O Lord." Without trying to read Peter's mind, we would only suggest that, since at Jesus' command they had let down their net and caught such a great number of fish that the net began to tear apart; and when they loaded the fish into the boats, the boats began to sink, he may have thought this to be an act of judgment against him for his sins. And as it had thus started, it might become more severe, and ultimately be his ruin, because of his sins. Of course, it might also have been as when on the mount of transfiguration he proposed the building of three tabernacles. Mark said of him at that time, "For he wist not what to say; for they were sore afraid," and Luke says, "not knowing what he said." whatever moved him to say it, the Lord's answer was, "Fear not; from henceforth thou shalt catch men." Though Luke makes no mention of Andrew, according to Matthew, he and Peter were together. So, when they had brought the ship to land, Peter, Andrew, James, and John, left their ships, apparently in the care of those who had made up their crews, and followed Jesus.


(Verses 12 through 15) "And it came to pass, when He was in a certain city, behold, a man full of leprosy: who seeing Jesus fell on his face, and besought Him, saying, Lord, if Thou wilt, Thou canst make me clean. And He put forth His hand, and touched him, saying, I will: be thou clean. And immediately the leprosy departed from him. And He charged him to tell no man: but go, and shew thyself to the priest, and offer for thy cleansing, according as Moses commanded, for a testimony against them. But so much the more went there a fame abroad of Him: and great multitudes came together to hear, and to be healed by Him of their infirmities."


We often read that Jesus healed this, or that, disease by which a person was afflicted; but, though leprosy is a disease, He is seldom said to heal a leper: the leper is usually "cleansed." The reason for this is that, probably because of the fear of contagion, leprosy was always considered a defilement as well as a disease. According to the law of Moses the leper was unclean, and was required to cover his upper lip, and go about, crying, "Unclean, unclean." Anyone who even accidentally touched a leper was unclean. Usually when a leper approached other people, he was warned away, and if he did not heed the warning, the people would pick up stones and throw them at him, until he did leave. Imagine the consternation of the multitude when, as this leper approached and fell down before Jesus, saying, "Lord, if Thou wilt, Thou canst make me clean," Jesus deliberately reached out and touched him, and said, "I will: be thou clean." The only thing that could have bewildered them more followed, "Immediately the leprosy departed from him."


One might wonder why Jesus would instruct this man to tell no one about this incident, but go and show himself to the priest, and make the offering required by the law, since Jesus, and not the law nor the priest had cleansed him. Our Lord does not tell us why He charged the man to tell no man. So we can only guess at His reason. But of the rest, the law requires one who has been cleansed of leprosy to be looked upon by the priest and pronounced clean; then he could offer the appropriate sacrifice. Nothing is said in the law about how his cleansing must be brought about; whatever the means of cleansing, the follow up ritual is the same. Since Jesus had not, at the time of this cleansing, made the final sacrifice, all things must still be done according to the law. In spite of the charge Jesus gave the man, His reputation quickly spread through the area, and many came both to hear Him and to be healed by Him.


Verses 16 through 19 tell us, first, of Jesus as He withdrew to the wilderness for prayer. Nothing is said that will even give us a hint as to how long He remained in the wilderness. Then, after His return to the public, He was teaching, and in the congregation were Pharisees and doctors of the law from every town in Galilee and Judaea, including Jerusalem . Also the power of God was being manifested in healing the infirm. In verses 18 and 19 Luke describes the bringing of a man "taken with the palsy" into the presence of Jesus to be healed.  Since Luke gives full details of this, we shall not repeat the account. People today are sometimes afflicted with a malady, which causes a great deal of trembling, or shaking of the limbs, and this condition is sometimes called "palsy." The condition usually referred to in the scriptures as palsy, is in reality a paralysis, which is really the meaning of the Greek word here used.


(Verses 20 through 26) "And when He saw their faith, He said unto him, Man, thy sins are forgiven thee. And the scribes and the Pharisees began to reason, saying, Who is this, which speaketh blasphemies? Who can forgive sins, but God only? But when Jesus perceived their thoughts, He answering said unto them, What reason ye in your hearts? Whether is easier, to say, Thy sins be forgiven thee; or to say, Rise up and walk? But that ye may know that the Son of man hath power on earth to forgive sins, (He saith unto the sick of the palsy,) I say unto thee, Arise, and take up thy couch, and go into thine house. And immediately he rose up before them, and took up that whereon he lay, and departed to his own house, glorifying God. And they all were amazed, and glorified God, and were filled with fear, saying, We have seen strange things today."


This is, perhaps, no greater miracle than others which our Lord wrought; but what sets it apart from others is that it demonstrates His power to forgive sins, thus proving His claim as the Son of God. When He told this man that his sins were forgiven, the declaration stirred up a great commotion among these scribes, Pharisees, and doctors of the law, who were sitting there. They had been taught, and rightly so, that God alone has the power to forgive sins. What they did not know, and what many of them never believed, was that, they were sitting in the Presence of the Son of God. It was for this very reason that He forgave the man's sins before healing him, to call their attention to the fact that He, the Son of man, (and Son of God,) had power to forgive sins. After creating such a stir among them, Jesus asked, "Whether is easier, to say, Thy sins be forgiven thee; or to say, Rise up and walk?" This is not a matter of asking which words are easier to say, but rather which, by saying it, can be more easily accomplished; and the underlying idea is, "Which can you more easily do?" Of course, they could do neither. Then to prove that this was no idle claim, He said to the paralytic, "Arise, and take up thy couch, and go into thine house;" which the man immediately did, praising God as he did so. It seems that this must have been one occasion when the scribes and Pharisees joined in the praising of God: for Luke says, "And they were all amazed, and glorified God."


(Verses 27 through 32) "And after these things He went forth, and saw a publican, named Levi, sitting at the receipt of custom: and He said unto him, Follow Me. And he left all, rose up, and followed Him. And Levi made Him a great feast in his own house: and there was a great company of publicans and of others that sat down with them. But the scribes and Pharisees murmured against His disciples, saying, Why do ye eat with publicans and sinners? And Jesus answering said unto them, They that are whole need not a physician; but they that are sick. I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance."


We earlier discussed the attitude of the Jews toward publicans, and their reasons for such an attitude. Here we find Jesus as He passed by where a publican was engaged in collecting taxes. This publican's name was Levi, or Matthew, as it is given in some other places. He it is who is the author of The Gospel According to Matthew. This scene presents such a complete contradiction to that with which we are today bombarded, that it must be noticed. We are constantly hearing someone today telling us that the Lord is calling men to follow him, even begging and pleading with them to do so; but, alas, they reject Him, and refuse to follow Him. Here we have a publican, about whom, as an individual, we may know very little; but we do know the type of men most publicans were. It was their greed that motivated them to get the office in the first place. Here is one "sitting at the receipt of custom," that is, actually engaged in this very lucrative activity. Jesus walked by, and spoke two words to him, "Follow Me;" and this publican "left all, rose up, and followed Him." He did not even say, "Wait a moment," nor did he ask, "Where are we going?" nor "When shall we return?" This is the typical reaction of every one mentioned in scripture to whom Jesus said, "Follow Me." One man is recorded as asking permission to first go and bury his father; to which Jesus answered, "Let the dead bury their dead: but go thou and preach the kingdom of God," and this was the end of the matter. Some will say that there was one young man who refused to follow Him, the one to whom He said, "If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven; and come and follow Me." This man went away sorrowful, but any one who reads Jesus' answer, which we have just quoted, can see that Jesus had not called him to follow Him, but had only said, "If thou wilt be perfect," do this. When He called Levi, not only did Levi follow Him immediately, but also the next thing we hear concerning Levi is that in his own home he made a great feast for Jesus. And there were many guests, among whom, apparently, there were not only other publicans, friends of Levi, but even scribes and Pharisees. These same scribes and Pharisees immediately found fault with Jesus' disciples, and began to question why they would sit with publicans and sinners. Evidently these scribes and Pharisees, though glad to take advantage of the feast, sat by themselves, and had no fellowship with the other guests, lest they be defiled. Jesus did not leave it to His disciples to give answer to such questions; but Himself said, "They that are whole need not a physician; but they that are sick.  I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance." The truth of His first statement is self-evident and needs no explanation; and His second is equally clear. Therefore, as He has come to call sinners to repentance, the logical follow up is, "How will He call them, if He refuses to have contact with them?"


The law enjoined fasting upon the Jews at specific times, but the Pharisees had added many more times for fasting. The Pharisee of whom Jesus spoke when He was showing the contrast between the two men who prayed in the temple, said that he fasted twice a week, which was far more than was ever called for by the law. Apparently, John and his disciples had adopted the practice of much fasting. The scribes and Pharisees thought everyone should do as they did: so they asked why the disciples of Jesus did not also fast. Jesus' answer to this simply states that, while He is with them, they are too happy to fast, since fasting is a sign of sorrow; but He knowing for what purpose He came into the world, declares that He is to be taken from them, and then they will fast.


(Verses 36 through 39) "And He spake also a parable unto them, No man putteth a piece of a new garment upon an old; if otherwise, then both the new maketh a rent, and the piece taken out of the new agreeth not with the old. And no man putteth new wine into old bottles; else the new wine will burst the bottles, and be spilled, and the bottles shall perish. But new wine must be put into new bottles; and both are preserved. No man also having drunk old wine straightway desireth new: for he saith the old is better."


Verses 36 through 38 are all one lesson, though shown in two different parables. Just as to cut a piece out of a new garment to patch a hole in an old one would be foolish and unprofitable, so it would be foolish and unprofitable to use Christianity as a patch for, or a means of reforming the law service. To take a piece out of the new garment to patch the old ruins both. Because taking the patch out of the new garment makes a hole in it, thus ruining it; and the color of the new is so much brighter than the old faded color of the old garment that, they can never be made to look right, when used together. The new wine of Christianity is so moving and powerful that the old bottles of legalism cannot contain it. Both it and they would be destroyed by any attempt to so confine it. Of course, He is not speaking of glass bottles such as we use today, but, actually, goatskins taken off the animal without splitting them open. The legs and the back end of the skin, after proper preparation, were tied up. Then the skin was filled with wine, and the remaining opening was tied. Such a bottle was weakened by the chemical reaction of the wine so that it could not be safely reused. Both of these parables show that the gospel church is not an extension, or a reformation of the old Jewish legal system, but an entirely new manner of worship. Just as one who has been drinking old wine has no desire for new, because he prefers the taste of the old, these scribes and Pharisees, who have been drinking the old wine of the law service, will have no desire to follow the Christ.


Chapter 6

(Verses 1 through 5) "And it came to pass on the second Sabbath after the first, that He went through the corn fields; and His disciples plucked the ears of corn, and did eat, rubbing them in their hands. And certain of the Pharisees said unto them, Why do ye that which is not lawful to do on the Sabbath days? And Jesus answering them said, Have ye not read so much as this, what David did, when himself was an hungered, and they that were with him; how he went into the house of God, and did take and eat the shew bread, and gave also to them that were with him; which it is not lawful to eat but for the priests alone? And He said unto them, That the Son of man is Lord also of the Sabbath."


The point of contention here is not the going through someone else's "corn" (grain) field, and plucking the "ears" (heads) of grain, and eating them. That was expressly allowed by the law. The bone of contention was that, they did this, as well as threshing the grain by rubbing it in their hands, on the Sabbath day. (As to what Sabbath day it was, it seems that each commentator had, or has, his own idea, and none agree together concerning it. Since at this late date it can make little difference to us, we shall leave it as said by Luke.) Some of the Pharisees, as usual, had to complain that the disciples were Sabbath breakers.


In answer to the charge Jesus reminded them of an incident with which they were well acquainted, but had never raised any objection. Once David, who not being a priest, yet went to the house of God, and demanded that the priest give him the "shew bread," both eating it himself, and giving it to the men who were with him, all of which was unlawful. (For more details see 1 Samuel, chapter 21.) Then He declared to them that, "The Son of man is Lord also of the Sabbath."


(Verses 6 through 11) "And it came to pass also on another Sabbath, that He entered into the synagogue and taught: and there was a man whose right hand was withered. And the scribes and Pharisees watched Him, whether He would heal on the Sabbath day, that they might find an accusation against Him. But He knew their thoughts, and said to the man which had the withered hand, Rise up, and stand forth in the midst. And he arose and stood forth. Then said Jesus unto them, I will ask you one thing; is it lawful on the Sabbath days to do good, or to do evil? to save life, or to destroy it? And looking round about upon them all, He said unto the man, Stretch forth thine hand. And he did so: and his hand was restored whole as the other. And they were filled with madness; and communed one with another what they might do to Jesus."


Obviously, this needs no explanation, but it shows clearly the constant watchfulness of the scribes and Pharisees for anything they might find, or imagine against Jesus. Had His healing of the man been on some other day instead of the Sabbath, they would have tried to find some other complaint.


In verses 12 through 16 Luke gives the account of the choosing of the twelve apostles; and he gives us the name of each. First, before choosing them, Jesus spent the night in solitary prayer to the Father. (A man, in trying to write a psychological profile of Judas Iscariot, said, "In his case Jesus had made a magnificent venture of faith, but had failed." Any man, who believes that Jesus ever failed, or made a mistake in anything, has no right to call himself a Christian.) After His night of prayer was over, Jesus called His disciples unto Him, and of their number made choice of twelve, whom He called apostles. Matthew and Mark also give the names of the apostles, in Matthew 10:1-4, and Mark 3:16-19, respectively; and, as will be seen by comparison. more than one of the apostles had more than one name each. Luke lists them thus: "Simon, (whom He surnamed Peter,) and Andrew his brother, James and John, Philip and Bartholomew, Matthew, and Thomas, James the son of Alphaeus, and Simon called Zelotes, and Judas the brother of James, and Judas Iscariot, which was also the traitor." (Luke 6:13-16.) In this list there are, at least, three sets of two brothers each, and, possibly, a fourth set; the fourth set being Philip and Bartholomew. Scripture does not clearly point this out, and it may not be the case; but in John 1:43 -51 we are given the account of the calling of Philip and Nathanael, but Nathanael is never mentioned by either, Matthew, Mark, or Luke. So it might be that Nathanael and Bartholomew are the same person; but of this we cannot be sure. Bartholomew's name is never mentioned except in the list of the apostles, and in every case it is linked with that of Philip. It seems that he whom Luke calls "Judas the brother of James" was also called Thaddaeus, and "Simon called Zelotes," (the zealot,) was also Simon the Canaanite. Apparently, this meeting in which Jesus made choice of His apostles was in the mountains, as well as was His prayer vigil through the night before. Because after it was over, He came down to the plain where a great multitude came to Him from all the region, from Jerusalem and Judaea through the coasts of Tyre and Sidon, bringing their sick and those possessed of demons, and he healed them. Even their touching him healed whatever infirmities they had. At this time He also made an address to them, which, though not so long as His Sermon on the Mount recorded by Matthew, contains some of the same teachings.


(Verses 20 through 26) "And He lifted up His eyes on His disciples, and said, Blessed are ye poor: for yours is the kingdom of God . Blessed are ye that hunger now: for ye shall be filled. Blessed are ye that weep now: for ye shall laugh. Blessed are ye, when men shall hate you, and when they shall separate you from their company, and shall reproach you, and cast out your name as evil, for the Son of man's sake. Rejoice ye in that day, and leap for joy: for, behold, your reward is great in heaven: for in like manner did their fathers unto the prophets. But woe unto you that are rich! for ye have received your consolation. Woe unto you that are full! for you shall hunger. Woe unto you that laugh now! for ye shall mourn and weep. Woe unto you, when all men shall speak well of you! for so did their fathers unto the false prophets."


Jesus' first statement here literally means, "Blessed are you beggars _ _ _," and is to be understood just as is Matthew 5:3, "Blessed are you beggars in spirit, (or beggars before God.) Those who are brought to a realization of their complete dependence upon God, and are thus made beggars before Him, are indeed blessed: for the kingdom of God is theirs; they are members of it, and have access into it. Matthew also recorded a little more description of those who hunger, "Blessed are they that hunger and thirst after righteousness." It may also be that even natural hunger is under consideration: for Jesus is addressing His disciples, who having left even their means of livelihood to follow Him, are at times suffering natural hunger; witness their eating the grain as they passed through the field. Be that as it may, He promises, "Ye shall be filled." Both kinds of hunger shall be satisfied. He says, "Blessed are ye that weep now: for ye shall laugh." Those who, while looking for that glory that shall be revealed at the manifestation of the sons of God, suffer sorrow, affliction, and troubles, shall indeed "laugh," or rejoice in that day. The Apostle Peter says, "Wherein ye greatly rejoice, though now for a season, if need be, ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations: that the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ." (1 Peter 1:6-7.) The apostle Paul says, "And to you who are troubled rest with us, when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven in flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ." (2 Thessalonians 1:7-8.) Finally, We have what, because of the old human nature of every one of us, is, probably, the hardest thing of all to do, or to be reconciled to. "Blessed are ye, when men shall hate you, and when they shall separate you from their company, and shall reproach you, and cast out your name as evil, for the Son of man's sake. Rejoice ye in that day, and leap for joy: for, behold your reward is great in heaven: for in the like manner did their fathers unto the prophets." Any one of us who has ever experienced any of this knows that one who can follow our Lord's instructions under these circumstances must be a blessed character. For the first reaction of the flesh is anger, not rejoicing, when a report is circulated about us, which both we, and those who circulate it know to be false. Yet by God's grace, and by it alone, we can be brought to lay aside anger, and rejoice in the situation, as we look not at the present, but the future.


Then Jesus addresses the opposites of these principles. When He pronounces a woe upon the rich, it is not to be thought that, he is condemning every person who has wealth. For even the man who took Jesus' body down from the cross, and laid it in his own new tomb was rich; and thus was fulfilled Isaiah's prophecy, "And He made His grave with the wicked, and with the rich in His death." He was crucified between two thieves, and buried in the tomb of a rich man, by that rich man himself. Here His reference is to those who delight in worldly wealth and have not the true riches of the love of God. They have had their consolation; but later shall, even as the rich man of Luke 16:19-31, lift up their eyes, being in torments, and see Abraham afar off with these poor in his bosom. Jesus continues, declaring woes upon those who, being filled with the things of this world, have no place in their hearts for the Lord or His word. The time is appointed in which they shall suffer a great hunger: and those who are now engaged in such riotous laughter shall weep and mourn. The greatest danger signal for anyone is that all men speak well of him; for that is exactly the treatment, which has always been given to the false prophets. They are of the world, and therefore the world loves them.


(Verses 27 through 31) "But I say unto you which hear, Love your enemies, do good to them which hate you, bless them that curse you, and pray for them which despitefully use you. And unto him that smiteth thee on the one cheek offer unto him the other; and him that taketh thy cloak forbid not to take thy coat also. Give to every man that asketh of thee; and of him that taketh away thy goods ask them not again. And as ye would that men should do to you, do ye also to them likewise."


Verses 27 and 28 set before us instructions, which no man can do by nature. That is, no doubt, why Jesus prefaced them with, "But I say unto you which hear." This is not even addressed to the world, but only unto those whom God has called, and has opened their ears to hear spiritual things. If we have been thus wrought upon by the Holy Ghost, we are by this message instructed to love our enemies. This does not mean that we must love the evils in which they engage, nor even their evil treatment of us; but rather that we should have such a love for them that we might desire good things for them, and pray for them, as the Apostle Paul prayed for the Jews in spite of all the evils they did against him. For he declared, "For I could wish that myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh," (Romans 9:3,) and "Brethren, my heart's desire and prayer to God for Israel is, that they might be saved." (Romans 10:1.) We are to do good to them that hate us. This does not mean that we are to try to do everything that they may want us to do, but should the opportunity occur, we should do whatever we can for their benefit. In another place, Jesus says that, to do this will be as heaping coals of fire on their heads, though that is not to be our motive in doing such. To bless those who curse us is totally foreign to the nature of our flesh. We want to respond in kind, but that will only fan the fire of strife; and our Lord has called us to peace. He, while hanging on the cross, gave us the greatest example of praying for those who despitefully use us that has ever been given, when He said, "Father forgive them; for they know not what they do." Some might try to excuse themselves by saying, "Yes; but He was God manifest in the flesh, and we cannot do what He did." To any who might be tempted to reply thus, let me direct you to the last words of Stephen, the first recorded martyr after the crucifixion of Jesus. "And he kneeled down, and cried with a loud voice, "Lord, lay not this sin to their charge: and when he had said this, he fell asleep." (Acts 7:60.) If we can keep in mind that their evil deeds are caused only by their ignorance, (for they know nothing of the love of God,) it is much easier to pray for them. The servants of our Lord Jesus the Christ are not even to resist violence. In the present time of so much violence, and all evils, multitudes of people, even those who profess to be Christians, are arming themselves; but our Lord said, "And unto him that smiteth thee on the one cheek offer also the other." This does not please the flesh at all. It wants to fight back: but the command is clear. In the Sermon on the Mount, Matthew records Jesus as saying, "And if any man will sue thee at the law, and take away thy coat, let him have thy cloak also." Here, however, He says, "and him that taketh away thy cloak forbid not to take away thy coat also," signifying not only the taking away of it by the law, but even by violence, or any other means. And, obviously this can be extended to cover other things in addition to the coat and the cloak. Some may think that, in this time of universal moral decadence, dishonesty, and all other evils, we should add to the next statement a provision that if one is truly in need, and asks something of you, you should give it to him. But Jesus knew as well when He said this as you and I know now that, these times were to come, and His words are, "Give to every man that asketh of thee." You may wonder whether or not he really needs what he is asking for, and indeed he may not, but our Lord did not tell us to inquire into that part of the matter. If someone takes away some of your possessions, do not try to get him to bring them back. Jesus then says, "And as ye would that men should do to you, do ye also to them likewise." This rule, if strictly maintained by everyone, would do away with all necessity for laws of any sort.


(Verses 32 through 36) "For if ye love them which love you, what thank have ye? for sinners also love those that love them. And if ye do good to them which do good to you, what thank have ye? for sinners also do even the same. And if ye lend to them of whom ye hope to receive, what thank have ye? for sinners also lend to sinners, to receive as much again. But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, hoping for nothing again; and your reward shall be great, and ye shall be the children of the Highest: for He is kind unto the unthankful and to the evil. Be ye therefore merciful, as your Father also is merciful."


This is simply intended to instruct us that, if we are going to claim the relationship to God of being His children, the only way we can justify that claim is by doing better than the people of the world, whom He calls sinners. If we do not do more good than they, we have not justified our claim. None of these things need any explanation. When He says, "and ye shall be the children of the Highest," His meaning is not that your doing this will cause you to be His children, but that it justifies your claim of so being. Because these are His characteristics, and as we show them in ourselves, we prove ourselves to be His children. Although He does indeed show special favors to His children, He, nevertheless, shows kindness to both the evil and the good, the unthankful and the thankful. Even natural life and all the good things pertaining thereunto are gifts from Him, and are of His mercy: for no one has earned them. Then since He is merciful, so also should we be.


(Verses 37 and 38) "Judge not, and ye shall not be judged: condemn not, and ye shall not be condemned: forgive, and ye shall be forgiven: give and it shall be given you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again."


This passage has to do with our relationship, not so much with God, as with man. If one engages in criticizing, making judgments of, and condemning others, that is exactly what he can expect from them. If, on the other hand, he refrains from such, people will be more lenient with him. If he is of a forgiving nature, so that he does not harbor grudges, resentment, etc., against his neighbor, those with whom he has to do will be more ready to overlook and forgive his faults. Notice that, in verse 38, Jesus specifically says, "Give and it shall be given to you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom." Not one word is here spoken about what God will do for you. All is concerned with how men will treat you. The reason for this is that people, for the greater part, respond in kind. If you want a quick, simple, and inexpensive, proof of this, just take a stroll down the sidewalk in any town, speaking to and smiling at every person you meet. While it is true that once in a while you will encounter someone who will not even acknowledge your greeting, the majority of them will respond, and that with smiles. On the other hand, take that same stroll with a sour look on your face, neither smiling at nor speaking to any one; and few indeed will there be who will speak to you.


(Verses 39 through 42) "And He spake a parable unto them, Can the blind lead the blind? shall they not both fall into the ditch? The disciple is not above his master: but everyone that is perfect shall be as his master. And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother's eye, and perceivest not the beam that is in thine own eye? Either how canst thou say to thy brother, Brother, let me pull out the mote that is in thine eye, when thou beholdest not the beam that is in thine own eye? Thou hypocrite, cast out first the beam that is in thine own eye, and then shalt thou see clearly to pull out the mote that is in thy brother's eye."


Of course, there can be only one logical answer to the two questions in verse 39. That answer is, "No, they cannot: for indeed both would surely fall into the ditch." Let us skip verse 40 momentarily, and return to it after considering verses 41 and 42. Because the blind cannot lead the blind without both falling into the ditch, it is evident that one who has his vision blocked out, or even distorted by a beam in his own eye, can not, without danger of severe damage remove a mote from his brother's eye. A mote is a very small particle of some foreign matter that may get into the eye; and if it is there, it can cause irritation, and even infection. Nevertheless, if one who cannot see attempts to remove it, surely more damage will be done, Of course, though speaking of physical eyes, Jesus was using them to illustrate a spiritual lesson. My brother may indeed be involved in some small error. But if I am involved in something worse, and something that is a major blockage of my vision of the true precepts of the gospel, my attempts to correct my brother will be as detrimental as would be the effort of a blind man to remove a natural mote from someone's eye. The only way in which I can successfully correct my brother is first to correct myself. Usually when this is done, the mote in my brother's eye will already have disappeared. It will prove to have been a figment of my own distorted vision. If indeed there is still a mote in his eye, I can see more clearly how to deal with it. Therefore we are always to keep in mind that, "The disciple is not above his master." So the disciple, if he would be as his master, must strive always to follow the teachings of his Lord, not substituting his own rules and ideas for those of his Master. "Everyone that is perfect shall be as his Master." The word here translated, "perfect," carries the meaning of perfection derived from completion or maturity, and not from sinlessness.


(Verses 43 through 45) "For a good tree bringeth not forth corrupt fruit; neither doth a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. For of thorns men do not gather figs, nor of a bramble bush gather they grapes. A good man out of the good treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is good: and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is evil: for of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh."


This should be one of the most easily understood texts in the Bible, were it not that, men go to extra effort to misunderstand it. It can all be summed up thus: Righteous works are the product of a righteous heart, and have no part in causing the heart to be righteous; and likewise evil works are the product of an evil heart, and have no part in causing the heart to be evil. Some will say that, "This is like the old argument of which came first, the chicken or the egg?" However, that argument is also settled by the word of God. Genesis 1:21-22 says, "And God created great whales, and every living creature that moveth, which the waters brought forth abundantly after their kind, and every winged fowl after his kind: and God saw that it was good. And God blessed them, saying, Be fruitful, and multiply, and fill the waters in the seas, and let fowl multiply in the earth." God created the fowl, but said nothing about creating the egg. Just as the fowl is the source of the egg, the tree is the source of the fruit. When God commanded the earth to bring forth the grass, the herbs, and the trees, He said, " _ _ _ and the fruit tree yielding fruit after his kind." Thus the thorn tree will not yield figs, nor will the bramble bush yield grapes: and man, with all his vaunted "wisdom" has never been able to change that. Therefore the corrupt tree, the man with the evil heart, (the heart which God has not made new by His grace,) brings forth evil things. And the good tree, the man whose heart God has quickened from death in sins into life in our Lord Jesus the Christ, brings forth good things. The mistake men seem bent on making in this subject is that, they do not believe that the "good fruit" and the "corrupt fruit" are considered not from the viewpoint of whether the fruit is "sound" or "rotten," but from the nature of the fruit, such as, "Is it a grape? or a bramble berry? A bramble berry may be perfect in form, and the grape somewhat deformed; but the grape will never be a bramble berry, nor the bramble berry a grape.


(Verses 46 through 49) "And why call ye Me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say? Whosoever cometh to Me, and heareth My sayings, and doeth them, I will show you to whom he is like. He is like a man which built an house, and digged deep and laid the foundation on a rock: and the floods arose, the storm beat vehemently upon that house and could not shake it: for it was founded upon a rock. But he that heareth and doeth not, is like a man that without a foundation built an house upon the earth; against which the stream did beat vehemently, and immediately it fell; and the ruin of that house was great."


Jesus' question, "And why call ye Me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say?" carries the idea that to do so is totally useless. If we call Him, "Lord," we are acknowledging ourselves as His servants. Yet, if we do not what He says, our actions say that, we are not His servants; and therefore we have no right to call Him, Lord. He then gives us the word picture of two men. One of these men, guided by wisdom, dug down to the rock to lay the foundation for his house, while the other foolishly "without a foundation built an house upon the earth," that is, without digging down to any solid bearing for it. Matthew records Jesus as saying that, this second man built his house upon the sand. When the "stream," or flood, beat upon these houses, the one on the rock stood, and the other fell. He says of the one that fell, "The fall of that house was great." Now Jesus tells us what is represented by these two men. The one, who comes to Him, hears what He says, and does it, is like the wise man whose house stood the test of the flood; and one who hears what He says, and does not do it is like the man whose house fell. Here is where men always attempt to prove themselves wise by injecting into this a question, which is never so much as hinted at by our Lord. One will argue that, both of these men were children of God, while another will say, "Not so. Only the wise one was a child of God." Jesus did not say, nor even hint at whether either or neither was, or whether both were children of God. His lesson is that if we do not do what he says, whatever "house" we may build, whether that "house" be a profession of faith, a reputation, or something else, it cannot stand, because it has no foundation. But if we do what He teaches us, that house will stand the test. Notice that nothing is said about the material of which the house is built. All is concerning the foundation. Surely, anyone who even casually looks at the terrible wreck that has been made of modern humanity, without setting himself up as a judge of who belongs to the Lord, and who does not, can see the fall of the "house" of our present social structure, and the reason for it. The same thing will happen to any structure we try to set up, when we lay aside our Lord's teachings, as we have in that field.


Chapter 7

In verses 1 through 10 is given the account of a miracle wrought by Jesus at Capernaum , which is clearly enough detailed to need no explanation. There are, however, certain things concerning it that stand out enough to be worthy of our closest attention. The first thing we notice is that, the man for whom this miracle was wrought was not a "son of Abraham," a Jew, but a Gentile, a Roman centurion (an officer in command of a hundred soldiers). The arrogance of Roman army officers is legendary. But notice what the centurion said, "Lord, trouble not Thyself: for I am not worthy that Thou shouldest enter under my roof: wherefore neither thought I myself worthy to come unto Thee: but say in a word, and my servant shall be healed. For I also am a man set under authority, having under me soldiers, and I say unto one, Go, and he goeth; and to another, Come, and he cometh; and to my servant, Do this, and he doeth it." This, no doubt, is clear enough, as he speaks of his feeling of unworthiness, but some might be confused, when he begins to speak of his being under authority, etc. His meaning here seems to be that, though he is under the authority of others, he yet has sufficient authority over those under his command that, when he issues orders he does not have to go to the place of their execution for them to be carried out. All that is necessary is that he command the proper person, and the order will be executed. Therefore, if he, a man under the authority of others can do this, Jesus, Who, he recognizes, is above all, has only to speak, and the work is done. Then notice Jesus' answer to this declaration. "When Jesus heard these things, He marveled at him, and turned Him about, and said unto the people that followed Him, I say unto you, I have not found so great faith, no, not in Israel." Inasmuch as Jesus being God manifested in the flesh knew all things, it is not to be thought that, the centurion's answer surprised, or astonished Him. But He "marveled" in that He brought it to the attention of the people, declaring this to be a greater confession of faith than any He had encountered among the Jews. "And they that were sent, returning to the house, found the servant whole that had been sick."


From this point through verse 18 we have the account of Jesus as He restored a man from death to life; and we also have the account of the reaction of the people. Jesus, accompanied by His disciples and a great multitude was approaching the city of Nain , when He met a funeral procession. The dead was a young man, the son of a widow. Since the incident is so clearly set forth, we shall, with only one comment, quote verses 13 through 18. "And when the Lord saw her, He had compassion on her, and said unto her, Weep not. And He came and touched the bier: and they that bare him stood still. And He said, Young man, I say unto thee, Arise. And he that was dead sat up, and began to speak. And He delivered him to his mother. And there came a fear on all: and they glorified God, saying, That a great prophet is risen up among us; and, That God hath visited His people. And this rumor of Him went forth throughout Judaea , and throughout all the region round about. And the disciples of John shewed him of all these things." The only comment we have to make concerning this is that, we would call special attention to the fact that when Jesus spoke to the young man, His words were, "I SAY, unto thee." And we can be sure that when He speaks, as in this case, there will be a positive result.


(Verses 19 through 23) "And John calling unto him two of his disciples sent them to Jesus, saying, Art Thou He that should come? or look we for another? And in that same hour He cured many of their infirmities and plagues, and evil spirits; and unto many that were blind He gave sight. Then Jesus answering said unto them, Go your way, and tell John what things ye have seen and heard; how that the blind see, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, to the poor the gospel is preached. And blessed is he, whosoever shall not be offended in Me."


One must remember that, this John, though he is the same John the Baptist to whom was given the glorious privilege of baptizing the Son of God, is now shut up in prison. And sitting in the solitude of his cell, he has, no doubt, relived that memory many times, but Satan has also been busy. He has imposed upon John many doubts and fears, making him wonder if he made a mistake, when he announced Jesus as "The Lamb of God, Which taketh away the sin of the world." John knew the character of Herod who had had him cast into prison, and likely realized that he would never again be set free. So for final assurance, he sent two of his disciples to Jesus to ask the questions, "Art Thou He that should come? or look we for another?" Surely, Jesus could have sent back the simple message, "Do not worry John. I am He," but the answer He did send was, probably, of even greater comfort. He first showed the messengers what He was doing, and sent them back with the commandment, "Tell John what things ye have seen and heard." They not only could tell John, "Jesus said _ _ _," but also "We saw Him do _ _ _." The last sentence of that message is one we can all take to heart, "And blessed is he, whosoever shall not be offended in Me." The Greek word here translated "be offended" literally means "be made to stumble," and the sense of the message is ,"Blessed is he, whosoever shall not fail to believe in Me." One who fails to believe in Him, "is made to stumble" in Him.


(Verses 24 through 28) "And when the messengers of John were departed, He began to speak unto the people concerning John, What went ye out into the wilderness for to see? a reed shaken in the wind? But what went ye out for to see? a man clothed in soft raiment? Behold, they which are gorgeously appareled, and live delicately, are in kings courts. But what went ye out for to see? a prophet? Yea, I say unto you, and much more than a prophet. This is he of whom it is written, Behold, I send My messenger before Thy face, which shall prepare Thy way before Thee. And I say unto you, Among those that are born of women there is not a greater prophet than John the Baptist: but he that is least in the kingdom of God is greater than he."


The questions asked in verses 24 and 25 are all to the same intent and purpose. They are to call attention of the people to their purpose in going out into the wilderness to see John in the first place. They did not go for sight seeing, "to see a reed shaken in the wind," and neither did they go to see some man famous for his wealth and fancy clothes. In verse 26 Jesus comes to their real purpose in going, to see a prophet. They had read of, and been told of, the prophets God had in times past sent to Israel; but it had been a long time since the last one had made his appearance. So when John appeared, all the region went out to see him. Jesus declared that indeed John was a prophet, and as great a prophet as ever was "born of woman." He was a prophet, whose coming another prophet had foretold, "This is he of whom it is written, ‘Behold, I send My messenger before Thy face, which shall prepare Thy way before Thee.’" He was the harbinger of our Lord. Yet, with all this, "he that is least in the kingdom of God is greater than he." John, though one of the greatest of the prophets, was yet in the law dispensation. His access to God was through the ceremonies of the law in anticipation of the one great sacrifice of God, which would perfect forever them that are sanctified. The one who is least "in the kingdom of God ,"(and at this point, this expression refers to a particular phase of the kingdom, the gospel age,) is greater than John, in the sense of freedom and knowledge. All who are in the present age of the kingdom of God look, not to a promised redemption, but to a finished one, in the sacrifice of our Lord Jesus. John, as great as he was, still falls into the category of those of whom Jesus spoke when He said, "Many prophets and righteous men have desired to see those things which ye see, and have not seen them; and to hear those things which ye hear, and have not heard them." Had they been able to see and hear these things, their knowledge would have been greatly increased. We, even the least of us, are greater in knowledge than John, because we have been given access to the knowledge of these things.


(Verses 29 and 30) "And all the people that heard Him, and the publicans, justified God, being baptized with the baptism of John. But the Pharisees and lawyers rejected the counsel of God against themselves, being not baptized of him."


Since God is of Himself just in all His works and ways, one might wonder how man can justify Him. The key to this is that the Greek word, "dikaiso," here translated "justified," also means, "to judge, declare, or pronounce righteous." This "the people," that is, the common people, and even the publicans did, by receiving John's baptism as ordained of God for a witness of their repentance. (Confession of repentance always signifies a confession of being a sinner: for where there is no sin, there can be no repentance.) The Pharisees and lawyers (not attorneys, but men who were considered expert in the laws of God) refused to confess themselves sinners, thereby rejecting the counsel of God against them, and they would not be baptized of John.


(Verses 31 through 35) "And the Lord said, Whereunto shall I liken the men of this generation? and to what are they like? They are like unto children sitting in the market place, and calling one to another, and saying, We have piped unto you, and ye have not danced; we have mourned unto you, and ye have not wept. For John the Baptist came neither eating bread nor drinking wine; and ye say, He hath a devil. The Son of man is come eating and drinking, and ye say, Behold, a gluttonous man, and a winebibber, a friend of publicans and sinners! But wisdom is justified of all her children."


What Jesus says about "the men of this generation" indeed fits the men of all generations according to nature. It should be remembered that, the Greek word here translated "generation," does not always refer to an age, as we sometimes use it in reference to "the older generation," or "the younger generation," but very often is used in reference to "men of the same characteristics," such as a family or a race of people. And in this it could well be applied to the entire human race, with the exception of those Jesus mentions as the children of wisdom, in verse 35. Humanity according to nature has no more understanding of, nor care for, the things of God, than the children playing in the market place have for the serious things of life. The children think that their playmates should be ready to rejoice, or mourn, in their games at any time, depending upon nothing more than what signal is given. This lack of understanding is very clearly shown in the reaction of the people to John the Baptist, and our Lord Jesus. "John the Baptist came neither eating bread nor drinking wine, and ye say, He hath a devil." The angel told John's father before John was born, "For he shall be great in the sight of the Lord, and shall drink neither wine nor strong drink," and Matthew says, "His meat was locusts and wild honey." So when John came thus, the Pharisees said, "He hath a devil." "The son of man is come eating and drinking." He came partaking of the ordinary diet of the people, and they said of Him, "Behold, a gluttonous man, and a winebibber, a friend of publicans and sinners." In short, they criticized, no matter what one might do, or refrain from doing. However, the conclusion of the matter is, "But wisdom is justified of all her children." Since the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, those who are of God manifest that wisdom by recognizing both the prophet of God and the Son of God, thus bearing witness that they are the children of wisdom.


(Verses 36 through 39) "And one of the Pharisees desired Him that He would eat with him, And He went into the Pharisee's house, and sat down to meat. And, behold, a woman in the city, which was a sinner, when she knew that Jesus sat at meat in the Pharisee's house, brought an alabaster box of ointment, and stood at His feet behind Him weeping, and began to wash His feet with tears, and did wipe them with the hairs of her head, and kissed His feet, and anointed them with ointment. Now when the Pharisee which had bidden Him saw it, he spake within himself, saying, This man, if He were a prophet, would have known who and what manner of woman this is that toucheth Him: for she is a sinner."


This is not the same event recorded by Matthew, Mark, and John, although there are some similarities. The houses in which both events took place were owned by men named Simon. The Simon of this event was a Pharisee, while the other Simon was Simon the Leper, probably one whom Jesus had healed. The woman who wiped Jesus' feet with her hair in the other incident was Mary, the sister of Lazarus and Martha, while the woman in the present text was "a woman in the city, which was a sinner." The occasion presently under consideration, though not exactly pin-pointed by scripture, very likely took place in the general area of Capernaum , or at least somewhere along the western shore of the sea of Galilee. Because the last towns Luke has mentioned were Capernaum and Nain; and the next location he will identify is the country of the Gadarenes, and Jesus and His disciples crossed the sea of Galilee to get there. The other incident took place in Bethany, a little town near Jerusalem .


In the present situation, Jesus' host, Simon the Pharisee, loaded as he was with the traditions of the Pharisees, though he said nothing aloud, was seemingly very much disappointed in Jesus. No doubt, Simon's reason for inviting Jesus to dine with him was that, he thought Him to be a prophet. According to the traditions of the Pharisees, if one were even touched by a sinner as he passed along the street, he was defiled. Now this woman, whom all the city knew to be a sinner, was at Jesus' feet, washing them with her tears, wiping them with the hair of her head, kissing them, and anointing them with ointment. He was surely overcome by this. So, in his mind he was saying, "This man, if He were a prophet, would know who and what manner of woman this is that toucheth Him: for she is a sinner." What Simon did not know is that, Jesus knew not only who and what manner of woman this was, but also what Simon's thoughts about the situation were.


(Verses 40 through 43) "And Jesus answering said unto him, Simon, I have somewhat to say unto thee. And he said, Master, say on. There was a certain creditor which had two debtors: the one owed him five hundred pence, and the other fifty. And when they had nothing to pay, he frankly forgave them both. Tell Me therefore, which of them will love him most? Simon answered and said, I suppose that he, to whom he forgave most. And He said unto him, Thou hast rightly judged."


Apparently, a few words were somewhere lost at the beginning of verse 41. They are, "And Jesus said unto him," for it is obvious that verses 41 and 42 are the "somewhat" Jesus had told Simon He wished to say to him. The word translated "pence" in verse 41 is literally "denarii," but that makes little difference to us, because the emphasis is not on what either debtor owed, but on the difference between the amounts of indebtedness. The one owed ten times as much as the other. The creditor freely forgave them both. The question then is, "Which of them will love him most?" Here we have a subtle, but very important lesson. We sometimes hear it said that, human reasoning will not work in spiritual things; but watch Simon's answer, and the response Jesus gives to it, not just the first four words, but His whole speech, which continues in the next verses. Simon's answer to the question was, "I suppose that he to whom he forgave most." This is the logical, natural manner of consideration or judgment of this matter. Jesus immediately declares this the proper judgment of the affair.


(Verses 44 through 50) "And He turned to the woman, and said unto Simon. Seest thou this woman? I entered into thine house, thou gavest Me no water for My feet: but she hath washed My feet with tears, and wiped them with the hairs of her head. Thou gavest Me no kiss: but this woman since the time I came in hath not ceased to kiss My feet. My head with oil thou didst not anoint: but this woman hath anointed My feet with ointment. Wherefore I say unto thee, Her sins, which were many, are forgiven; for she loved much: but to whom little is forgiven, the same loveth little. And He said unto her, Thy sins are forgiven. And they that sat at meat with Him began to say within themselves, Who is this that forgiveth sins also? And He said to the woman, Thy faith hath saved thee; go in peace."


In general, this should need very little in the way of explanation. Having declared that those, to whom more is forgiven, will love more, Jesus calls Simon's attention to the illustration of this principle that is immediately before them, and in which Simon is himself a participant. He mentions three customs of the Jews, which Simon has failed to observe. The first is of such long standing that Abraham himself observed it, the furnishing of water that a guest might refresh himself by washing his feet. (This is the one many try to tell us that Jesus was following when He washed His disciples feet, as recorded in the thirteenth chapter of John's gospel record. That is totally incorrect, because, first, the water was to be provided when the guest arrived, and second, the guest washed his own feet.) Simon had not provided water for this; but the woman furnished the water from her own tears, washed His feet herself, and wiped them with the hair of her head. It was, and still is, in the Middle East , the custom to greet a guest with a kiss. This Simon had not done, but this woman had continually kissed His feet, from the time she came up behind Him. The third failure of Simon was, "My head with oil thou didst not anoint." However, this woman anointed His feet with ointment.


In concluding this lesson, Jesus said, "Wherefore I say unto thee, Her sins, which were many, are forgiven: for she loved much: but to whom little is forgiven, the same loveth little." In considering this, we must keep in mind that, this whole lesson teaches one principle: The debtor's love of the creditor is the result, and not the cause of the forgiveness of the debt, and its intensity is proportional to the magnitude of the debt forgiven. Because this woman's actions show her great love, Jesus says to Simon, "Her sins, which were many, are forgiven: for she loved much." This does not change the order of the whole lesson, and make her love to be the cause of the forgiveness, but it is the cause of Jesus' telling Simon that, her sins were forgiven, because her actions verify it. "But to whom little is forgiven, the same loveth little." When Jesus first spoke to the woman, He said, "Thy sins are forgiven," making no reference to either her works or her faith. After the other guests began to question Who this might be Who could forgive sin, He said to her, "Thy faith hath saved thee; go in peace." In this incident we see the illustration of James' discussion of justification by works and Paul's teaching of justification by faith. When Jesus was talking to Simon, the subject was the woman's works, as they demonstrated her great love of Him for having had her many sins forgiven. Yet, when He spoke to the woman, He spoke of her faith: for a believer's faith, not his works is his assurance.


Chapter 8

The first three verses of this chapter tell us that, Jesus went through the area preaching the kingdom of God in every city and village. His twelve apostles were with Him, as were also many others, among whom are some that are named. One of them was Mary of Magdala, (Mary Magdalene,) out of whom Jesus had cast seven devils. There were also some, who, having some material wealth, ministered to Him of their substance.


(Verses 4 through 8) "And when much people were gathered together, and were come to Him out of every city, He spake a parable: A sower went forth to sow his seed: and as he sowed, some fell by the wayside, and it was trodden down, and the fowls of the air devoured it. And some fell upon a rock; and as soon as it was sprung up, it withered away, because it lacked moisture. And some fell among thorns; and the thorns sprang up with it, and choked it. And other fell on good ground, and sprang up, and bare fruit an hundred fold. And when He had said these things, He cried, He that hath ears to hear, let him hear."


Anyone acquainted with farming can readily understand the natural picture in this parable. It is simply that of a man who goes out to the field to sow small grain, by hand, as they did in that day. He sows it in the manner we usually speak of as "broadcast." In so doing, as he approaches the edge of the field, some of his seed falls along the roadside, or path. Some falls on places where there is barely enough soil on the top of the rocks to sprout the seed, some falls in the thorn thicket at the edge of the field, and some falls in ground that is good, and has been properly prepared for the seed. Jesus tells us the results of the various locations of the seed, all of which any farmer can verify. We shall leave the spiritual explanation until the Lord makes it, but that it has a spiritual application Jesus makes clear, as He says, He that hath ears to hear, let him hear."


(Verses 9 through 15) "And His disciples asked Him, saying, What might this parable be? And He said, Unto you it is given to know the mysteries of the kingdom of God : but to others in parables; that seeing they might not see, and hearing they might not understand. Now the parable is this: The seed is the word of God. Those by the wayside are they that hear; then cometh the devil, and taketh away the word out of their hearts, lest they should believe and be saved. They on the rock are they, which when they hear, receive the word with joy; and these have no root, which for a time believe, and in time of temptation fall away. And that which fell among thorns are they, which, when they have heard, go forth, and are choked with cares and riches and pleasures of this life, and bring no fruit to perfection. But that on the good ground are they, which, in an honest and good heart, having heard the word, keep it, and bring forth fruit with patience."


Many people seem to think that, Jesus was making every effort to reach every person in the world, but verse 10 clearly denies that. Instead, He used parables for the very purpose of preventing some from understanding what He did teach. Since it is given to His disciples to know the "mysteries" (secrets) of the kingdom of God , He explained the parable to them. When the natural meaning of a parable is understood, the principal explanation needed is the identification of the elements of the parable. "The seed is the word of God." "The word of God" is a phrase that is used in more than one way, and with more than one meaning, in the scriptures. There are more Greek words than one that are translated, "word." The one used here is the same as that used by John in John 1:1, but with a different meaning. There it is the very fullness of the Godhead, all of which dwells in the Son. The word "logos" originally meant "a collection," and John's usage of it in the above mentioned scripture is as the collection of the attributes, power, and purposes of God, or as already said, the fullness of the Godhead. Here, however, it is the collection of the testimony, teachings, etc., of God, or the gospel. Though Jesus makes no identification of the sower, it logically follows that he is the gospel minister: for even his manner of preaching is the same as that of the sower, broadcast. It is not within his power to direct the seed to a particular spot. That is the work of the Holy Ghost.


Man has, at this point, injected an argument into this parable, which is not even mentioned in any part of it. That argument is, "Which of those who received seed were children of God? And which were not?" The only question ever addressed in this parable is, "Where, or under what conditions, will the gospel, the preached word, bear fruit?" That question the parable fully answers, and that question alone. Since Jesus did not say that, one of these is a child of God, and the other is not, the question is not to be brought up: first, because that is not the subject of the parable; and second, because it is none of our business: God will judge that.


Jesus explains, "Those by the wayside are they that hear; then cometh the devil, and taketh away the word out of their hearts, lest they should believe and be saved." Immediately one says, "They were children of God; for the devil took the word out of their hearts, and if it was in their hearts, they had to be children of God." His opponent quickly replies, "No, they were not children of God: because the devil removed the word "lest they should believe and be saved." The first idea has no foundation: for a study of the Greek wording shows that the word could as well have been removed from somewhere near the heart as "out of it," as the K. J. V. says. The latter idea is also groundless: for the purpose of the devil, and not the condition of the persons, is under consideration. Nevertheless, one thing shines forth very clearly: the preached word will not under such conditions produce any fruit.


Concerning those who receive the seed on the rock and those who receive it among thorns, men have tried to inject the same arguments, with no better foundation than in the former case. Jesus explains both of these clearly enough that, we do not need to repeat them. In both situations, the word is still unfruitful.


"But that on the good ground are they, which in an honest and good heart, having heard the word, keep it, and bring forth fruit with patience." This needs no explanation beyond that given, When a heart, made good and honest by the grace of God, receives the word, it brings forth fruit.


The same person may at one time be in one of these first classes, but later be brought into the last one. Consider the Apostle Paul. He heard Stephen preach one of the greatest of gospel sermons, and immediately gave his consent for the stoning of Stephen. Later he heard from Ananias what we would all, probably consider a much inferior sermon; and he arose, and was baptized. What was the difference? The ground was not prepared when he heard Stephen, but it was when he heard Ananias. So, if we do not see immediate results from our preaching, let us not give up on someone, and condemn him. He may later be made ready.


(Verses 16 through 18) "No man, when he hath lighted a candle, covereth it with a vessel, or putteth it under a bed; but setteth it on a candlestick, that they which enter in may see the light. For nothing is secret that shall not be made manifest; neither any thing hid, that shall not be known and come abroad. Take heed therefore how ye hear: for whosoever hath, to him shall be given; and whosoever hath not, from him shall be taken even that which he seemeth to have."


Some might wonder what is the significance of verse 16. Certainly only an extremely foolish person would do what Jesus said no man does. That is the significance of the statement. If man, as foolish as he is, is too wise to do that, surely, we should not expect God to do such. Up to this point, Jesus has spoken of the conditions under which the preached word will be unfruitful, and under which it will be fruitful. Since God is the One who makes a heart "honest and good," the picture continues with the falling of the seed into good ground being the same as the Lord lighting a candle. He will not hide it, but will place it on the candlestick, "that they which enter in may see the light." This is the same principle as that expressed by an old proverb, which was very common among people in the area where I grew up, "You can't hide grease in a gourd." It sprang from a practice commonly used among people in rural areas. When they killed their hogs in the fall, they rendered their lard, and put it into huge gourds, which they had raised and prepared for the purpose. Of course, the lard would soak through the gourd, and show on the outside. Because of this, they began using this proverb to mean that when God works a work of grace in the heart of a person, it will show in the life and actions of the person. It cannot be hidden. Just so, Jesus said that God does not light a candle, and then hide it. He sets it where it will shine forth. This is the great difference between the work of God and the work of man. God lights the candle, (works a work of grace in the heart). And as a result the light shines forth; while man thinks that he can put a little of his light on the outside (do a few ritualistic acts he has deemed righteous) and that will light the candle in the heart. However the abiding quality of the work of God and the falseness of the work of man will both be made manifest: "For nothing is secret, that shall not be made manifest; neither any thing hid, that shall not be known and come abroad."


Since this is true, He warns us, "Take heed therefore how ye hear; for whosoever hath, to him shall be given; and whosoever hath not, from him shall be taken even that which he seemeth to have." He who truly is a candle lighted by the Lord, and therefore has the light of His love in his heart, to him shall be given: but he that is only a pretender, and has it not, "from him shall be taken even that which he seemeth to have." He did not say, "Take heed what ye hear," but "Take heed how ye hear."


(Verses 19 through 21) "Then came to Him His mother and His brethren, and could not come at Him for the press. And it was told Him by certain which said, Thy mother and Thy brethren stand without, desiring to speak with Thee. And He answered and said unto them, My mother and My brethren are these which hear the word of God, and do it."


Jesus' answer at this time was in no wise intended to cast scorn upon His mother or His brethren, but was for the purpose of teaching us that our relationships in the kingdom of God and in the church are not to be based upon our natural family ties, but upon our spiritual family membership, and our service to the Lord. Those who "hear the word of God, and do it," are to be counted as our spiritual family. In the kingdom of God no other ties are recognized.


(Verses 22 through 25) "Now it came to pass on a certain day, that He went into a ship with His disciples: and He said unto them, Let us go over unto the other side of the lake. And they launched forth. But as they sailed He fell asleep: and there came down a storm of wind on the lake; and they were filled with water, and were in jeopardy. And they came to Him, and awoke Him, saying, Master, Master, we perish. Then He arose, and rebuked the wind and the raging of the water: and they ceased, and there was a calm. And He said unto them, where is your faith? And they being afraid wondered, saying one to another, What manner of man is this! For He commandeth even the winds and water, and they obey Him."


It surely is not difficult to understand this account, but the big question is, "When there comes in our lives that which we would consider a life-threatening crisis, do we believe it?" It is easy for us, as we sit back in a time of relative peace and quiet and read this account, to say, "Yes, I believe that, and I believe He still has the same power to bring peace and calm into our lives in time of trouble." But the real test comes when it looks as if everything around us, including all we have ever worked for and cherished, and even our own selves are about to perish. (And this can be a physical, emotional, psychological, or spiritual, crises.) If we have experienced that, and were at the height of it able to remain calm and completely unruffled, firmly declaring with Job, "Though He slay me, yet will I trust Him," we might think ourselves justified in being surprised that these disciples, who had watched our Lord as He wrought so many miracles, were so afraid of the storm, while Jesus was with them. Until we have experienced such, and proved ourselves faithful, we have no right to criticize their conduct. It is only the natural course for every one of us. The only exception is any case in which God grants special grace for the occasion. Matthew records this incident in slightly different words: "And His disciples came to Him, and awoke Him, saying, Lord, save us: we perish," which seems to indicate faith that He was able to save them. Yet, as soon as He did save them from what they perceived as imminent destruction of life, they seemed surprised that He was able to do so, an experience which, perhaps, we all have shared to a greater, or a lesser degree. The real lesson for us is that we should constantly pray Him to increase our faith so that in the storms of life we may remain calm, leaning upon, and depending upon Him.


(Verses 26 through 28) "And they arrived at the country of the Gadarenes, which is over against Galilee . And when He went forth to land, there met Him out of the city a certain man, which had devils long time, and ware no clothes, neither abode in any house, but in the tombs. When he saw Jesus, he cried out, and fell down before Him, and with a loud voice said, "What have I to do with Thee, Jesus, Thou Son of God most high? I beseech Thee, Torment me not."


This incident is recorded by Matthew and Mark also, and with a little difference of details, but only such as would be natural with three different witnesses. The major difference is that Matthew says there were two of these men; but we shall at this point follow Luke's account. This man would, by men today, be called insane, which certainly appears to be the case; but such a condition was in that time held to be caused by demoniac possession. Luke tells us this man had thus been possessed of demons for a long time, so much so that, he would not wear clothes, and would not live in a house, but abode in the tombs. These tombs were, for the greater part, caves excavated in the hillsides, and were used as tombs. As soon as Jesus disembarked, this man met Him, and the demons in him caused him to cry out, and with a loud voice declare Jesus to be the "Son of God most high," and ask why He thus confronted them. Matthew adds another question to what they asked: "Art Thou come to torment us before the time?" Evil spirits not only know that Jesus is the Son of God, but they also know that, He will be their Judge, that there is a time appointed for their judgment, and they will be consigned to torment. These evil, or unclean, spirits begged Jesus not to torment them now.


(Verses 29 through 34) "(For He had commanded the unclean spirit to come out of the man. For oftentimes it had caught him: and he was kept bound with chains and in fetters; and he brake the bands, and was driven of the devil into the wilderness.) and Jesus asked him, saying, What is thy name? And he said, Legion: because many devils were entered into him. And they besought Him that he would not command them to go out into the deep. And there was there an herd of many swine feeding on the mountain: and they besought Him that he would suffer them to enter into them. And He suffered them. Then went the devils out of the man, and entered into the swine: and the herd ran violently down a steep place into the lake, and were choked."


Luke continues to use the singular in reference to the devils in this man, until Jesus asked the name of the evil spirit. The devil answered, "Legion," because there were so many of them. This is not the man's name, but the number of devils by whom he was possessed. Though it had been up to this point the voice of the man, it was the legion of devils by whom he was possessed, and whom Jesus had commanded to come out of him, who were with that voice carrying on the conversation with Jesus. From this point forward, Luke changes to the plural in referring to them. Had Jesus commanded them to "go out into the deep," that is, into outer space, they would have been completely removed from any further opportunity of causing any trouble or confusion: and this they did not want. So they begged permission to go into the herd of swine, which permission Jesus granted them. When they did this, the whole herd of swine was destroyed.


(Verses 34 through 36) "When they that fed them saw what was done, they fled, and told it in the city and in the country. Then they went out to see what was done; and came to Jesus, and found the man, out of whom the devils were departed, sitting at the feet of Jesus, clothed, and in his right mind: and they were afraid. They also which saw it told them by what means he that was possessed of the devils was healed."


When the swineherds saw what was done, they having no idea Who Jesus was, were so frightened that, they ran away, telling everyone in both the city and the surrounding area about this great thing that took place. Then those who heard about it came to see for themselves. When they did, they saw a sight that surely must have put them in total shock. This man, who for so long had refused to wear clothing or live in a house, and, no doubt, had shown other indications of being totally insane, they now saw "sitting at the feet of Jesus, clothed, and in his right mind." Though nothing is at this point said about it, he, probably, was carrying on a conversation with Jesus, and, perhaps, others: for this is the most common manner in which the condition of the mind is made manifest. While they were thus looking upon the results of this miracle, those who saw it done described to them how it came about.


(Verses 37 through 40) "Then the whole multitude of the country of the Gadarenes round about besought Him to depart from them; for they were taken with great fear: and He went up into the ship, and returned back again. Now the man out of whom the devils were departed besought Him that he might be with Him: but Jesus sent him away, saying, Return to thine own house, and shew how great things God hath done for thee. And he went his way, and published throughout the whole city how great things Jesus had done for him. And it came to pass, that when Jesus returned, the people gladly received Him: for they were all waiting for Him."


When these Gadarenes understood what had been done, they were filled with great fear. One can only wonder of what they were afraid. It would appear that the healing of this man who was possessed of devils would have given them great joy instead of fear. The only other thing that was done was the destruction of the herd of swine. Did they fear greater destruction? At this we can only guess. Nevertheless, they begged Jesus to leave, which He immediately set forth to do. The man who had been possessed of devils wanted to go with Him, but Jesus had another mission for him; "Return to thine own house, and shew how great things God hath done unto thee." We are not all called to go to foreign lands, nor even to travel over much area of our own country. Our field may be extremely limited, but if it is the one to which our Lord has called us, it is His pleasure that we serve in it, and not attempt to take over a wider range. May we fulfill our ministry as did this man, "And he went his way, and published throughout the whole city how great things Jesus had done unto him." When Jesus returned to the other side of the lake, the people were eagerly awaiting His arrival.


(Verses 41 and 42) "And, behold, there came a man named Jairus, and he was a ruler of the synagogue: and he fell down at Jesus' feet, and besought Him that He would come into his house: for he had one only daughter, about twelve years of age, and she lay a-dying. But as He went the people thronged Him."


This is only the beginning of the account of a miracle wrought by Jesus, and of course, what is thus far said is in no need of explanation. Here, however, the account is broken by that of another miracle of healing which is a little unusual in its manner of coming about. The account of Jesus and Jairus will resume in verse 49. Since no real action takes place concerning it until that point, we shall leave it and take up that of the other miracle, which starts in verse 43.


(Verses 43 through 48) "And a woman having an issue of blood twelve years, which had spent all her living upon physicians, neither could be healed of any, came behind Him, and touched the border of His garment: and immediately her issue of blood was staunched. And Jesus said, Who touched me? When all denied, Peter and they that were with Him said, Master, the multitude throng Thee and press Thee, and sayest Thou, Who touched Me? And Jesus said, Somebody hath touched Me: for I perceive that virtue is gone out of Me. And when the woman saw that she was not hid, she came trembling, and falling down before Him, she declared unto Him before all the people for what cause she had touched Him, and how she was healed immediately. And He said unto her, Daughter, be of good comfort: thy faith hath made thee whole; go in peace."


As earlier mentioned, the manner of the occurrence of this is a little unusual. This woman had for twelve years been trying to find a physician who could cure, or, at least, help her condition, and Mark says that, instead of getting better, she continued to grow worse; and finally she has no more money for physicians. Now having heard of, and perhaps, having seen some of the miracles done by Jesus, she has been given faith to believe that if she can just touch the hem of His garment, she will be healed. One can readily understand why she wanted to do this in secret. She did not wish to tell the whole crowd about her condition. There can be no doubt that Jesus knew who touched Him as well as He knew He had been touched. (He surely was touched accidentally by many, but the touch about which He was concerned was that deliberate touch brought about by the faith of the one who reached forth to touch Him.) His question was not for the purpose of embarrassing the woman, but for the glory of God. When she came forth, and confessed the full story, He comforted her with, "Daughter, be of good comfort: thy faith hath made thee whole; go in peace."


(Verses 49 through 53) "While He yet spake, there cometh one from the ruler of the synagogue's house, saying to him, Thy daughter is dead; trouble not the Master. But when Jesus heard it, He answered him, saying, Fear not: believe only, and she shall be made whole. And when they came into the house, He suffered no man to go in, save Peter, and James, and John, and the father and mother of the maiden. And all wept and bewailed her: but He said, Weep not; she is not dead, but sleepeth. And they laughed Him to scorn, knowing that she was dead."


This is the continuation of the account begun in verse 41. While Jesus was speaking to the woman who had interrupted their going to the house of Jairus, one came from his house to tell Jairus that his daughter was already dead. In his opinion it was too late for Jesus to do anything, and therefore there was no need for Him to come to the house. No doubt this was a great blow to Jairus, as it would be to any of us. The answer Jesus gave Jairus at this time was, "Fear not: believe only, and she shall be made whole." We do not know how far they were from Jairus' house at that time; but it must have been some distance: because Matthew tells us that when Jesus came into the house, He found "the minstrels and the people making a noise." The minstrels were the professional mourners that were hired to come and make a great lament for the dead. If the messenger left immediately after the child died, to go and tell Jairus, the only time lapse in which the minstrels could have been called was from the time of his leaving until the arrival of Jesus and those with Him. When Jesus arrived, He told the mourners, "Weep not: she is not dead, but sleepeth. And they laughed Him to scorn, knowing that she was dead." This is no contradiction of events against the word of Jesus, nor of His word against the event. They knew that she was dead, because to them she was dead; but Jesus said, "she sleepeth," because to Him none are dead: for He is the resurrection and the life.


(Verses 54 through 56) "And He put them all out, and took her by the hand, and called, saying, Maid, arise. And her spirit came again, and she arose straightway: and He commanded to give her meat. And her parents were astonished: but He charged them that they should tell no man what was done."


We do not know how long this girl had been sick, but we do know that the severity of her illness was such, at the time her father went to call Jesus that, she was at the point of death; and before he returned home, she was dead. Yet, when Jesus spoke to her, she not only revived to the point of having life come back into her body, but to the extent that she was able to take food: for Jesus commanded food to be given her. Jesus never does anything in a half-way manner: His work is perfect. Some might say that, when He raised Lazarus from the dead, the people were ordered to loose him, and let him go. That is true; but not a single one of them went into the tomb to get him. "And Lazarus came forth, bound hand and foot with grave clothes;" but the power of the voice of Jesus brought him forth.



Chapter 9

(Verses 1 through 6) "Then He called His twelve disciples together, and gave them power and authority over all devils, and to cure diseases. And he sent them to preach the kingdom of God , and to heal the sick. And He said unto them, Take nothing for your journey, neither staves, nor scrip, neither bread, neither money, neither have two coats apiece. And whatsoever house ye enter into, there abide, and thence depart. And whosoever will not receive you, when ye go out of that city, shake off the very dust from your feet for a testimony against them. And they departed, and went through the towns, preaching the gospel, and healing every where."


Luke does not mention the restriction Jesus placed upon His apostles at this time, but Matthew gives His first commandment to them thus: "Go ye not into the way of the Gentiles, and into any city of the Samaritans enter ye not. But go ye rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel ." These apostles were all chosen of Jesus for special work, and endowed with special powers and authorities. The questions are often asked, "Did Jesus know at the beginning that Judas would betray him? And, if so, did He confer upon him the same powers as He did upon the others?" The answer to the first is an unequivocal "Yes." And, while the answer to the second may not be quite so clearly shown, it seems equally sure that it also is "Yes." For had Judas been cut short on such powers, the other apostles would surely have noticed a difference between him and themselves. And as Jesus more than once said that He must be betrayed into the hands of sinners, they would have suspected Judas. But, according to John, even when, on that last night, Judas left them to go and make the final step of the betrayal, although Jesus said to him, "What thou doest, do quickly," not one of them suspected him.


At this time Jesus sent them forth "to preach the kingdom of God , and to heal the sick." They were to make no elaborate preparations for their journey, but go as they were, taking no money, no food, and not even an extra coat. They were to take no "scrip" which was a sort of shoulder bag, or knapsack, in which shepherds carried a little food and other necessities for themselves as they followed their flocks. Neither were they to take staves. Travel in those days was both difficult and dangerous. a good staff was considered a necessity, both as something to lean upon and as a weapon of defense. In Jesus' address to these apostles as He sent them forth, Matthew also records His saying, "Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves." Just as the only defense a sheep has in the midst of wolves is its shepherd, so their only defense was their Master, and they were to make no effort at self-defense, nor should they carry weapons for that. When they entered a city, whatever house received them, there they were to abide, considering it their "home away from home" as long as they remained in that city. When any would not receive them, whether a household, or a city, they were to shake off the dust from their feet as a testimony against it. With these instructions, they went forth from town to town preaching the gospel, and healing the sick. Matthew's account of this should be studied with this.


(Verses 7 through 9) "Now Herod the tetrarch heard of all that was done by Him: and he was perplexed, because that it was said of some, that John was risen from the dead; and of some, that Elias had appeared; and of others, that one of the old prophets was risen again. And Herod said, John have I beheaded: but Who is this of Whom I hear such things? And he was desirous to see Him."


Herod had imprisoned John, and later, to satisfy the daughter of Herodias, (or, more properly, Herodias herself, since she it was who told Salome to request it,) he had had John beheaded in prison, and his head presented on a platter to her. Though Herod was superstitious, He still, knowing that John had been executed, did not believe that this was John who was doing such wonderful works; and he wanted to see this Jesus. However, there is no scriptural indication that he did see Him, until the morning of the day of His crucifixion.


(Verses 10 through 12) "And the Apostles, when they were returned, told Him all they had done. And He took them, and went aside privately into a desert place belonging to the city called Bethsaida . And the people, when they knew it, followed Him: and He received them, and spake unto them of the kingdom of God , and healed them that had need of healing. And when the day began to wear away, then came the twelve, and said unto Him, Send the multitude away, that they may go into the towns and country round about, and lodge, and get victuals: for we are in a desert place."


This was not long after Herod had had John the Baptist beheaded. According to Mark, Jesus said to His disciples, "Come ye apart into a desert place, and rest," but the people followed them even here. So, as it was getting late in the day, the disciples wanted Jesus to dismiss the crowd so that, they could go and hunt for food and lodging.


(Verses 13 through 17) "But He said unto them, Give ye them to eat. And they said, we have no more but five loaves and two fishes; except we should go and buy meat for all this people. For they were about five thousand men. And he said to His disciples, Make them sit down by fifties in a company. And they did so, and made them all sit down. Then He took the five loaves and the two fishes, and looking up to heaven, He blessed them, and brake, and gave to His disciples to set before the multitude. And they did eat, and were filled: and there was taken up of fragments that remained to them twelve baskets."


The first observation we wish to make concerning this is that, it was an actual event, which did take place. Jesus did take five loaves of bread and two fish, and with them feed a multitude of more than five thousand persons: for Matthew says, "And they that had eaten were about five thousand men, beside women and children." Surely, some beautiful spiritual lessons can be drawn from this episode, but let us never forget that, this is the record of a physical event, which actually took place by the power of our Lord.


Although the disciples had seen Jesus work many miracles, no doubt, they were greatly perplexed, when He said to them, "Give ye them to eat." Their answer showed that they did not see any way they could do this. They only had five loaves of bread and two fish, and likely they did not have enough money among them to buy enough food for such a crowd, even had there been a place at hand in which to buy it. They were in a desert place, so even had they had the money, there was no place in which to find that much food. Jesus instructed them how to arrange the people so that they could more easily distribute the food among them. Then He took the food, blessed it, and gave it to His disciples to serve to the people. After all had eaten their fill, more was gathered up of left over fragments than they had in the beginning. Here is a wonderful lesson for us concerning His providing of our spiritual food; but our function at present is to comment on the scriptures themselves.


(Verses 18 through 22) "And it came to pass, as He was alone praying, His disciples were with Him: and He asked them, saying, Whom say the people that I am? They answering said, John the Baptist, but some say Elias; and others say, that one of the old prophets is risen again. He said unto them, But Whom say ye that I am? Peter answering said, The Christ of God. And He straitly charged them, and commanded them to tell no man that thing; saying, The Son of man must suffer many things and be rejected of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be slain, and be raised the third day."


For comparison this should be studied with Matthew 16:13-23, as Matthew gives a few more details of this conversation than does Luke. When asked for the opinions of the people concerning Who Jesus is, the apostles gave several answers: for, as we saw in verse 7, some had one opinion and some another. When asked for their own opinion, only Peter replied, but, apparently, his view was shared by the others. He said, Thou art the Christ of God." Matthew's wording of this reply is, "Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God." Then Jesus put them under strict orders to tell this to no man; and he followed this by telling them of His upcoming death and resurrection.


(Verses 23 through 27) "And He said to them all, If any man will come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: but whosoever will lose his life for My sake, the same shall save it. For what is a man advantaged, if he gain the whole world, and lose himself, or be cast away? For whosoever shall be ashamed of Me and My words, of him shall the Son of man be ashamed, when He shall come in His own glory, and in His father's, and of the holy angels. But I tell you of a truth, there be some standing here, which shall not taste of death, till they shall see the kingdom of God ."


When Luke says, "And He said to (them) all," it is to be understood that He was speaking to all of His twelve apostles: for this is still the same occasion in which He was praying alone with His disciples. (Verse 18) So when He says, "If any man _ _ _," though it can by extension include others, its principal reference is, "If any man of you _ _ _." We must remember that even in this audience was one "son of perdition." Verse 23 presents the instruction for the one who "will come after Me," that is, he who has been given a desire to follow the Christ. One, who has no such desire, will certainly not do what is commanded. If one does desire to do so, he must follow the commandments. When Jesus said, "Let it be," or "Let him do," this is a commandment, not an invitation. The first thing he must do is to "deny himself." To deny oneself is to lay aside one's own will, plans, desires, intentions, etc., in short, put himself out of the picture entirely, and strive to learn and do the will of God only. These men to whom He spoke had been with Him for about three years, but still He says to them, "If any man will come after Me," which means, "If you desire to walk as I walk." Even they had not yet achieved this, as is evident from their contention among themselves about who among them was greatest in the kingdom of God . They still had their own wills and desires. The next thing that must be done is, "And take up his cross daily, and follow Me." Many today have, apparently forgotten, if they ever knew, what the expression, "take up his cross," means. From what we hear about this, when someone mentions it in a sermon, one would get the idea that, it means one must be ready to bear whatever criticism, reproofs, rebukes, scorn, insults, false accusations, and little persecutions, that may be cast upon him by his enemies, or even erstwhile friends, and that is all there is to it. In fact, this is something all men must endure, whether or not they desire to "come after" the Christ. Business men and politicians, especially, must do this, if they wish to have any success at all in their careers. The first thing we must know about a cross is, what it is. The cross of which He spoke, was, literally, two timbers: one for an upright post, and the other, attached to it in a horizontal position; and it was the Romans' preferred machine of execution. When one was condemned to crucifixion, his cross was laid upon his shoulders at the place of his sentencing, and he, carrying it, was led away to the place of execution. The figure in which Jesus is here using it is that, just as the condemned man, by bearing his cross, says to the whole world that he is condemned by the world, and as he goes to his death, can partake of no worldly pleasures, activities, etc., but is, in effect, already dead to the world, so the one who "will come after" Him, must separate himself from worldly lusts, pleasures, etc., and by his life proclaim himself dead to the world, and it dead to him. Having done this, he is to follow Jesus, that is, walk in the path in which he walked.


Notice that in verse 24, the emphasis is still on "Whosoever will," that is, those who have this desire. "For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: but whosoever will lose his life for My sake, the same shall save it." In John 12:25, Jesus says, "He that loveth his life, shall lose it; and he that hateth his life in this world, shall keep it unto life eternal." Both of these quotations, obviously mean the same thing. One who loves his life in this world, is satisfied with the things of the world, and enjoys the lusts and pleasures thereof, "will keep it," that is, he desires to keep it, and will put forth every effort to keep it. Nevertheless, he will lose it. That is sure unto all. On the other hand, he who "will lose it" for the sake of our Lord, or is willing to lose it for Jesus' sake, is surely the same as he who "hateth his life in this world," and "shall save it," or "shall keep it unto life eternal." For one of the greatest examples we have of one who hated his life in this world, read Romans 7:14-25.


Jesus then asked a question, not for information, but to drive home a point. "For what is a man advantaged, if he gain the whole world, and lose himself, or be cast away?" Matthew records it thus: "For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?" Obviously, this was not said to try to scare someone into "accepting Christ," as we so often hear some try to present it. It was spoken to men, all of whom, with one exception, were already true disciples of the Christ, and would be the ones to carry on the setting up of His church here in the world, after His resurrection. Only those who have been brought to faith in Him by the work of the Holy Spirit, and believe in the kingdom of God , which He preached, can even understand the question He asked. Any other will revert to the old proverb quoted by the Apostle Paul in 1 Corinthians 15:32 , "_ _ _ Let us eat and drink; for tomorrow we die." (He immediately condemned this saying by, "Be not deceived: evil communications corrupt good manners.") Those who by faith have been given a glimpse of the kingdom of God, know that there would be no profit or advantage to one, if he could gain the whole world, but himself was not saved, while they who have not been blessed with faith will readily say, "Worldly gain is the only profit that exists." We know that if the choice were given when one comes before the judgment bar of God, he would gladly give everything for his soul; but that choice has never been, and will never be, given. He who has not been given faith does not believe that there will be a judgment; so He considers it worth nothing.


Some of our brethren and friends seem to be bent on watering down verse 26, and making a loophole for those who are ashamed of our Lord. "For whosoever shall be ashamed of Me and My words, of him shall the Son of man be ashamed, when He shall come in His own glory, and in His Father's, and of the holy angels." This simply means that those who in this life are ashamed of Jesus and His words, (or teachings,) and have no desire to follow Him. will, when He returns to the earth "in His own glory, and His Father's, and of the holy angels," find that He is ashamed of them, and will say to them, "Depart from Me, ye workers of iniquity; I never knew you." To be ashamed of any one, or any thing, is to consider him, or it, so worthless and degrading, that one wants nothing to do with that person, or thing. Those who go through life with this feeling concerning our Lord will, when they face Him in judgment, find the feeling mutual.


In verse 27 Jesus announces that some in this group to whom He was speaking, would be permitted to actually see, with their eyes, before they died, the kingdom of God . Of course He was referring to the kingdom in its glory, which Peter, James, and John, were permitted to see on the mount of transfiguration. This was indeed a rare privilege, one that was not even given to all His apostles.


(Verses 28 through 32) "And it came to pass about an eight days after these sayings, He took Peter and John and James, and went up into a mountain to pray. And as He prayed, the fashion of His countenance was altered, and His raiment was white and glistering. And, behold, there talked with Him two men, which were Moses and Elias; who appeared in glory, and spake of His decease which He should accomplish in Jerusalem ."


Should any inquire why Jesus chose only three of His apostles to witness His transfiguration, their attention is directed to Matthew 11:26. His reason was exactly the same as that of the Father for doing what He did. He chose Peter, John, and James, for this rare privilege. Luke tells us, "And as He prayed, the fashion of His countenance was altered." The Greek word "eidos," here translated, "fashion," literally means, "the external appearance, form, figure, or shape," and of course, "countenance" is "face." So the sentence could read, "The appearance of His face was altered." How much alteration we do not know; but, surely, it must have taken on a glorious appearance, and His garments were changed to dazzling white. Two men also appeared in glory, or in a glorified appearance. These men were Moses and Elijah, and their subject of conversation was the death of Jesus, which was soon to take place at Jerusalem . If what they said about it had been any of our business, no doubt, the scriptures would have reported it. Without such report, we need not inquire.


Some have taken the fact that the disciples recognized Moses and Elijah to indicate that, in glory we will recognize each other as we do now; but this has nothing to do with that doctrine. One must remember that neither of the apostles had ever seen Moses or Elijah, and not even a picture of either: for the law forbade the making of any image of man or beast. So the only means they had of recognizing them was the revelation of God.


(Verses 32 through 36) "But Peter and they that were with him were heavy with sleep: and when they were awake, they saw the glory, and the two men that stood with Him. And it came to pass, as they departed from Him, Peter said unto Jesus, Master, it is good for us to be here: and let us make three tabernacles; one for Thee, and one for Moses, and one for Elias: not knowing what he said. While he thus spake, there came a cloud, and overshadowed them, and they feared as they entered into the cloud. And there came a voice out of the cloud, saying, This is My beloved Son: hear Him. And when the voice was past, Jesus was found alone. And they kept it close, and told no man in those days any of those things which they had seen."


It appears that the apostles did not hear the conversation among Jesus, Moses, and Elijah, since they were so heavy with sleep. However, they did see the two men, and Jesus in His glorified appearance. Sometimes we hear men say, in speaking of this event, that, Peter's reason for wanting to build three tabernacles was that he desired to worship God under the law, the prophets, and the Christ; but both Mark and Luke agree that he had a different reason. Here Luke says, "Peter said unto Jesus, Master, it is good for us to be here: and let us make three tabernacles; one for Thee, and one for Moses, and one for Elias: NOT KNOWING WHAT HE SAID." And Mark says, "For HE WIST NOT WHAT TO SAY; for they were sore afraid." So it really comes down to his being so scared that, he did not know what he was saying. This is not said to criticize him: for we, no doubt, would have been fully as afraid as was he. Even while he spoke, a cloud enveloped them, and a voice spoke out of the cloud, saying, "This is My beloved Son: hear Him." Thus the Father calls upon the apostles, and indeed upon all, who worship Him, to reverence the Son, even as they reverence the Father. His is the final word. When this voice had spoken, the disciples found themselves alone with Jesus. Luke says only that, they "told no man in those days any of the things which they had seen," but both Matthew and Mark say that Jesus charged them to tell no man any of these things, until He had arisen from the dead.


(Verses 37 through 42)"And it came to pass, that on the next day, when they had come down from the hill, much people met Him. And, behold, a man of the company cried out, saying, Master, I beseech Thee, look upon my son: for he is mine only child. And, lo, a spirit taketh him, and he suddenly crieth out; and it teareth him that he foameth again, and bruising him, hardly departeth from him. And I besought Thy disciples to cast him out; and they could not. And Jesus answering said, O faithless and perverse generation, how long shall I be with you, and suffer you? Bring thy son hither. And as he was yet a-coming, the devil threw him down, and tare him. And Jesus rebuked the unclean spirit, and healed the child, and delivered him again to his father."


The description given of this case makes it seem to have been a classic example of epilepsy, so severe that the child was in almost continuous seizure. Of course, our modern doctors claim that epilepsy is caused by an electrical malfunction of the brain, which may indeed be true in most cases, but in this case, if it was, a demon, by whom the child was possessed, who was causing the malfunction. The man brought the child to Jesus' disciples in His absence, and they could do nothing for him. Jesus' answer to the man may seem strange to some. "O faithless and perverse generation, how long shall I be with you, and suffer you? Bring thy son hither." This may seem to some to be something of a protest against having to endure being constantly called upon by this "faithless and perverse generation;" but rather, since He knew that the time of His death was almost at hand, He was emphasizing the fact that He would soon be no longer with them to bear their griefs and carry their sorrows. As the man was in the act of bringing his son to Jesus, the child had another seizure; but "Jesus rebuked the unclean spirit, and healed the child, and delivered him again to his father."


(Verses 43 through 45) "And they were all amazed at the mighty power of God. But while they wondered every one at all things which Jesus did, He said unto His disciples, Let these sayings sink down into your ears: for the Son of man shall be delivered into the hands of men. But they understood not this saying, and it was hid from them, that they perceived it not: and they feared to ask Him of that saying."


At this moment, Jesus was riding high on popular opinion, and, perhaps, this hindered His disciples from understanding what He told them. When He said, "Let these sayings sink down into your ears," His obvious meaning was, "Listen closely, and remember what I am about to tell you; and do not be fooled by the present attitude of the people." He knew how fickle man is. That which He told His disciples to lay hold of was the fact that He was soon to be betrayed into the hands of His enemies, forsaken by all men, including His disciples, condemned to death, and be crucified; but His disciples could not understand this.


(Verses 46 through 48) "Then there arose a reasoning among them, which of them should be greatest. And Jesus, perceiving the thought of their heart, took a child, and set him by Him, and said, Whosoever shall receive this child in My name receiveth Me: and whosoever shall receive Me receiveth Him That sent Me: for he that is least among you all, the same shall be great."


We may sometimes wonder how it is that men who had been so long in such close fellowship with Jesus, could still get into arguments about which of them should be greatest; but this is not the only recorded instance of this discussion among them. The only conclusion to which we can come is that, they were still men, and not yet made perfect, as we hope to be, when we see our Lord as He is. All men have "ego," and as long as they do, they will sometimes try to glorify themselves. By His illustration and teaching, Jesus established that greatness in the kingdom of God is attained by exactly the opposite characteristics from the worldly system. In the world, the self-centered and arrogant usually rise to the top, while in the kingdom of God , the more gentle and humble one is, the greater he is. Satan, though not the legal ruler of the world, has by usurpation and cunning manipulation of men, arisen to be called the "prince of this world," and he is the most self-centered and arrogant being in existence. On the other hand, Jesus the Lamb of God is the Prince of the kingdom of God : for He is the Prince of Peace! His humility and gentleness were so great that he humbled Himself to the suffering of death on the cross for His people. So in both kingdoms, he who is most like his prince is great.


(Verses 49 and 50) "And John answered and said, Master, we saw one casting out devils in Thy name: and we forbade him, because he followeth not with us. And Jesus said unto him, Forbid him not: for he that is not against us is on our part."


Does this not remind one of the infighting, which has gone on through the centuries, and is still going on, among professed Christians? Somebody may be doing something worthwhile in the name of the Lord, "and we forbade him, because he followeth not with us." A minister may be blessed in his ministry so that by it many are led to glorify God. But someone will say, "His preaching is wonderful, and he seems to be living as a minister should; but we cannot have any fellowship with him, because he is a member of another `church,' (or another splinter of `our church')." Or it may be, "he believes a certain point of doctrine a little differently from our view of it." Our Lord's answer to this is, "Forbid him not: for he that is not against us is on our part." And Mark records this answer as containing even more than Luke says, "Forbid him not: for there is no man that shall do a miracle in My name, that can lightly speak evil of Me." Why can not all we, who love the Lord, take this message to heart, and, recognizing that we are all human and can all be mistaken about some things, lay aside our petty dependence upon one or two particular points of doctrine here and there, and establish among ourselves a unity against sin and Satan? If one will but watch closely, he will observe as many differences of scriptural interpretation among the ministers of "his own church" as those of "his church" and those of "other churches." Yet the reasoning is always the same, "I don't quite agree with him; but he is a minister of `my church,' and is entitled to his opinion." Jesus says, "he that is not against us is on our part."


(Verses 51 through 56) "And it came to pass, when the time was come that he should be received up, He steadfastly set His face to go to Jerusalem , and sent messengers before His face: and they went, and entered into a village to make ready for Him. And they did not receive Him, because His face was as though He would go to Jerusalem . And when His disciples James and John saw this, they said, Lord, wilt Thou that we command fire to come down from heaven, and consume them, even as Elias did? But He turned, and rebuked them, and said, Ye know not what manner of spirit ye are of. For the Son of man is not come to destroy men's lives, but to save them. And they went to another village."


Jesus, knowing all things, was fully aware that the time for His crucifixion and return to the Father was at hand. Therefore He set forth with determination to go to Jerusalem where He must accomplish this. He sent messengers ahead to prepare lodging along the way. And when they attempted to make arrangements for Him in one village, the villagers would not welcome Him, apparently being angered that He was only passing through on His way to Jerusalem , and would not stay with them for any time. James and John hearing of this, asked permission to destroy the village by calling down fire from heaven, as Elijah had done to soldiers sent to arrest him. There are two things that immediately stand out concerning this, as lessons to us, even before we come to the answer Jesus gave them. First, they forgot that they were only men, and had not the power to do that for which they asked permission to do. We too sometimes think more highly of our abilities than can be justified by the facts. Then they forgot that it is neither our duty nor our privilege to take vengeance, neither on our enemies, nor on His: for "vengeance is Mine: I will repay, saith the Lord."


Now to the answer our Lord gave them, “Ye know not what manner of spirit ye are of. For the Son of man is not come to destroy men's lives, but to save them." Surely, there will be a day, (and it is already appointed,) in which Jesus will indeed destroy His enemies, but that was not His mission at that time. When we forget this, and want to take vengeance upon anyone, even on those who insult our Lord, we forget "what manner of spirit we are of." Notice the Apostle Paul's statement in Romans 10:1, "Brethren, my heart's desire and prayer to God for Israel is, that they might be saved;" and this he said knowing not only their enmity against him, but also what they had forced Pilate to do to Jesus. The manner of spirit of which we are is that of love and forgiveness to even those who scorn us and abuse us. Our Master came not to destroy, but to save. So they simply turned away, and went to another village.


(Verses 57 and 58) "And it came to pass, that, as they were in the way, a certain man said unto Him, Lord, I will follow Thee whithersoever Thou goest. And Jesus said to him, Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man hath not where to lay His head."


We have no further identification of this "certain man," which phrase is itself intended to keep his identity unknown. It is always equivalent to saying, "There was a man, who _ _ _." He voluntarily declared to Jesus, "Lord, I will follow Thee whithersoever Thou goest." One might expect Jesus to say, "Come on: I am glad to have you." But He did not say that. Instead, in keeping with His teaching in Luke 14:28-33, He reminds him of the cost. We having no further mention of this man cannot say whether or not he did follow Jesus.


(Verses 59 and 60) "And He said unto another, Follow Me. But he said, Lord, suffer me first to go and bury my father. Jesus said unto him, Let the dead bury their dead: but go thou and preach the kingdom of God ."


This is in stark contrast to the foregoing incident. There the man volunteered to follow Jesus wherever He might go, and our Lord discouraged him, by reminding him of the cost of discipleship. Here He calls one, who wants to wait a while. Some commentators have said that this man's father was not dead, as some might read into the man's answer; but that, what he meant was, that he wanted to go and take care of his father until such time as he did die, and was buried. Then he would be free to follow Jesus. Be that as it may, our Lord's answer is still the same. "Let the dead bury their dead; but go thou and preach the kingdom of God ." Those who have not been called to this work are "the dead" who may "bury their dead," or take care of any other secular necessities, while those who are called to preach the kingdom of God must attend to that calling. Nothing more is said about this incident; but by reason of what is said in every other recorded instance of Jesus' calling men to follow Him, we can rest assured that, this was the end of the conversation, and that, this man did exactly what he was commanded.


(Verses 61 and 62) "And another also said, Lord, I will follow Thee; but let me first go bid them farewell, which are at home at my father's house. And Jesus said unto him, No man, having put his hand to the plow, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God ."


This, of course, is another instance of one volunteering for the service of our Lord, but he wanted it on his own terms: he was not yet ready. We even hear men today saying, "If the Lord will just let me do this, or that, I will dedicate the rest of my life to His service." What is the answer of Jesus? "No man, having put his hand to the plow, and looking back is fit for the kingdom of God ." Had this been said under different circumstances, it might have needed a little explanation, but here, surely, it is self-explanatory.


Chapter 10

(Verses 1 through 7) "After these things the Lord appointed other seventy also, and sent them two and two before His face into every city and place, whither He Himself would come. Therefore said He unto them, The harvest truly is great, but the labourers are few: pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he would send forth labourers into His harvest. Go your ways: behold, I send you forth as lambs among wolves. Carry neither purse nor scrip, nor shoes; and salute no man by the way. And into whatsoever house ye enter, first say, Peace be to this house. And if the son of peace be there, your peace shall rest upon it: if not, it shall turn to you again. And in the same house remain, eating such things as they give: for the labourer is worthy of his hire. Go not from house to house."


This occasion, though having some similarities to it, is different from the sending forth of the apostles. The only restrictions on the apostles regarding where they should go, were, "Go ye not into the way of the Gentiles, and into any city of the Samaritans enter ye not, but go ye rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel ." Here He "sent them two and two before His face into every city and place whither He Himself would go." In the present instance, our last indication of exactly where Jesus and His disciples were is in a desert place belonging to Bethsaida . We are not given the exact location of any other of their activities, though we are told that, He had "steadfastly set His face to go to Jerusalem ," and He has passed by one village, and gone to another. Now these seventy are sent forth in pairs, to go only to "every city and place whither He himself would come." There is nothing said about His giving to them special powers as He did to the apostles. Yet when they returned to Him, in their report to Him we find that they had been given power over devils through His name; and they seemed to be somewhat surprised that they had this. Jesus' instructions to these are very similar to those He gave to the twelve. See Chapter 9, verses 3 through 5.


(Verses 8 through 12) "And into whatsoever city ye enter, and they receive you, eat such things as are set before you. And heal the sick that are therein, and say unto them, The kingdom of God is come nigh unto you. But into whatsoever city ye enter, and they receive you not, go your ways out into the streets of the same, and say, Even the very dust of your city, which cleaveth on us, we do wipe off against you: notwithstanding be ye sure of this, that the kingdom of God is come nigh unto you. But I say unto you, that it shall be more tolerable in that day for Sodom , than for that city."


No doubt, each twosome of the messengers was sent to a different city or village, and Jesus instructs them, "Into whatsoever city ye enter _ _ _." No matter to what place they were sent, they had the same message, and were to follow one plan of operation. If they were received, they were to enter into the house of him who received them, and there remain, not going from house to house. The people would bring their sick to them, and they would heal them. Their message was always to be the same, "The kingdom of God is come nigh unto you." Though nothing is said to that effect, probably, when the people ceased to bring their sick to them was their signal to return to Jesus. If they entered a city, and were not "received," (welcomed,) they were to go out into the streets, and declare to the city, "Even the dust of your city, which cleaveth to us, we wipe off against you: notwithstanding be ye sure of this, that the kingdom of God is come nigh unto you." They had the same final message for such cities as for those that did receive them. Jesus declares that, "in that day," (which evidently is intended to mean "the Day of judgment:" for that is what He says in His address to the cities of that region,) it shall be more tolerable for Sodom than for that city.


(Verses 13 through 16) "Woe unto thee, Chorazin! woe unto thee, Bethsaida ! For if the mighty works had been done in Tyre and Sidon , which have been done in you, they had a great while ago repented, sitting in sackcloth and ashes. But it shall be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon at the judgment, than for you. And thou, Capernaum , which art exalted to heaven, shalt be thrust down to hell. He that heareth you, heareth Me; and he that despiseth you, despiseth Me; and he that despiseth Me, despiseth Him That sent Me."


This is identical to Matthew's recording of Jesus' rebuke to these same cities, except that, in Matthew's recording of it, (Matthew 11:21-23,) after verse 15 of the present text, Jesus continued thus: "For if the mighty works, which have been done in thee, had been done in Sodom it would have remained until this day. But I say unto you, that it shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom in the day of judgment, than for thee." Of course, verse 16 of the present text was not in Matthew's writing: for it really belongs between verses 12 and 13, as it is further instructions to the seventy. Tyre and Sidon , two cities on the Mediterranean coast, had once been world renowned for their commerce, shipping, and wealth; but at this time, though still in existence, they had lost most of their glory. In Isaiah, Chapter 23, we find the prophecy of the bringing down of Tyre . What her particular sin was we do not know, unless it was her haughtiness, but Jesus says that, Tyre and Sidon both would have repented long ago, had such great works been done in them, as were done in Chorazin and Bethsaida; yet these have not repented. Therefore in the judgment it shall be "more tolerable" for Tyre and Sidon than for Chorazin and Bethsaida . Though Luke does not complete it, Matthew says that He said the same concerning the comparison of Capernaum and Sodom . Everyone knows the story of Sodom . Luke does record the statement, "And thou, Capernaum , which art exalted to heaven, shalt be thrust down to hell." Many tell us that, this does not mean what it literally says, because they cannot accept the idea that there will be degrees of punishment on the Day of Judgment. Nevertheless, we maintain that, Jesus knew exactly what He was saying, and said exactly what He meant.


(Verses 17 through 20) "And the seventy returned again with joy, saying, Lord, even the devils are subject to us through Thy name. And He said unto them, I beheld Satan as lightning fall from heaven. Behold, I give unto you power to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy: and nothing shall by any means hurt you. Notwithstanding in this rejoice not, that the spirits are subject unto you; but rather rejoice that your names are written in heaven."


This is another instance, which shows how easy it is for even the servants of God to get their priorities out of order, and focus upon the wrong thing. These seventy came back to Jesus, rejoicing, and, apparently, filled with excitement because evil spirits were subject to them through the name of Jesus. He acknowledged that He had actually seen Satan fall from heaven as lightning; and He further told them that, He had also given them other powers, which were greater than all the forces of the enemy. Then He set them straight about what is a greater cause than this for rejoicing. It is also a cause of rejoicing, which is given to every one who believes in the Christ, whether or not he has been given any extraordinary powers. The real cause for rejoicing is that their names are written in heaven. If we have this, all else is secondary.


(Verses 21 and 22) "In that hour Jesus rejoiced in spirit, and said, I thank Thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that Thou hast kept these things hid from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes: even so, Father, for so it seemed good in Thy sight. All things are delivered to Me of My Father; and no man knoweth Who the Son is, but the Father; and Who the Father is, but the Son, and he to whom the Son will reveal Him."


This is almost word for word the same as Matthew 11:25-27. It is one of the strongest declarations of the sovereignty of God to be found in the scriptures. Jesus was thanking the Father for hiding "these things from the wise and prudent," and revealing them to babes. "These things," probably should be taken to mean everything in the purposes, intentions, and works of God concerning salvation, along with many other things, which He has kept hidden until the time appointed according to His good pleasure for their revelation. Especially has he hidden them from the wise and prudent, who always seem to think that, they can discover all the secrets of the universe by their wisdom. And having so hidden "these things" from them, He has revealed them unto those whom the world considers as having no more wisdom than babes. The only reason given for this, and the only reason we will ever know for it, is, "Even so, Father, for so it seemed good in Thy sight." Since the Father has delivered all things to the Son, and as the Father is the only One Who knows the son; and the Son is the only One Who knows the Father, except those to whom the Son will reveal Him, it follows that, all revelation of both the Father and the Son is now at the discretion of the Son.


(Verses 23 and 24) "And He turned Him unto His disciples, and said privately, "Blessed are the eyes that see the things that ye see: for I tell you, that many prophets and kings have desired to see those things which ye see, and have not seen them; and to hear those things which ye hear, and have not heard them."


This blessedness of which He spoke, extends to every believer today: for although we have not had the privilege of seeing with our eyes and hearing with our ears, we do have the testimony of those who did; and we can rely upon that testimony. Here it is said, "Many prophets and kings _ _ _," while in another, "Many prophets and righteous men have desired to see those things which ye see, and have not seen them; and to hear those things which ye hear, and have not heard them." For just one illustration from many, think how Isaiah would surely have rejoiced to see these things, and those on through the resurrection of Jesus. He then could have seen clearly the separation between the suffering and the glory of our Lord Jesus.


In verses 25 through 37 we find a very interesting story, which we shall not attempt to quote, but rather we shall confine our work principally to commenting concerning it, while leaving the reading to others.


The first thing to attract our attention is the question asked by the lawyer who came to Jesus. "Master, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?" It is obvious, even if we did not already know it, that this man was laboring under a law oriented state of mind, and that he was also trying to set a trap for Jesus. He had never been taught that eternal life is a gift of God, and not payment for services rendered. Jesus knew the man's state of mind, and answered him in kind, "What is written in the law?" If we are to obtain life by works, we must certainly do so according to the law. The lawyer readily answered, "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbor as thyself," not for a moment realizing that such love is not an emotion which is subject to the will of man. Jesus knowing that they who follow these two commandments do so because this love has been implanted in their hearts by the Holy Ghost, answered him, "Thou hast answered right: this do, and thou shalt live." Everyone who does this shall live, because in every heart that keeps these two commandments, God has begun a good work, which He will maintain until the day of Jesus the Christ.


This lawyer seeing that he could not entrap Jesus, found himself in need of an excuse. While, before men, he might, since God is never in need of anything, get away with only a profession of loving God with all his mind, heart, soul, and strength, this will not be acceptable for loving his neighbor as himself. For a neighbor may be in need, and in such cases love can only be shown by doing for him what he needs. So he asked, "And who is my neighbor?" This is a question to which, apparently, few indeed know the answer. The common perception is, "My acquaintances, and those who live near me are my neighbors." Jesus tells the story of an unfortunate man to show the answer. Read verses 30 through 35. Then He sums it all up with the same question asked by the lawyer, but in slightly different words.


Since nothing to the contrary is said, it is to be assumed that the poor man who was set upon by thieves, wounded, and left "half dead," was a Jew. Surely one would expect a priest, the representative of God on earth, finding a brother Israelite, one of his own flock, in so sad a plight, would render help immediately; but no, "he passed by on the other side." Apparently, the thieves had left the wounded man, not in the road, but on one side thereof. And the priest even went over to the other side of the road, probably, to make sure he would not be defiled by touching what he may have perceived to be a dead body. After the priest passed by, there came a Levite, one of those whom God had set aside as servants of the tabernacle, and of the temple. Of course, he would have compassion on a fellow citizen of the nation of God; but he too, as did the priest, passed by on the other side, leaving the poor man to his suffering.


Now the Samaritans, because they were considered by the Jews to be of mixed blood, were by them despised, and were not permitted to have fellowship with them in the worship of God. One of these despised persons came along. He was so unimportant that his name is not even given, but we are only told that, "a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed came where he was." "A certain Samaritan" has exactly the same connotation as a phrase we commonly use today. When we tell someone something we have heard, and do not remember just who told us about it, or we do not wish to identify him, we say, "A certain person told me this," which really means nothing more nor less than that the person is unidentified. This Samaritan not only stopped and rendered first aid to the wounded man, but also set him on his own beast of burden, and took him to an inn. The next day, when he left, he paid the innkeeper, and told him that, if any more expenses were incurred by the wounded man, he would pay them on his return. The record says, "he took out two pence, and gave them to the host," but the amount seems unimportant in view of the fact that the account was left open ended, to be properly settled later. Many like to take this Samaritan and what he did as a type of Jesus and what He has done for us. However this falls completely flat, because when He returns, there will be no possibility of any additional price for Him to pay. He has already fully paid the account, and declared it finished. The only lesson in this whole address is the answer to "And who is my neighbor?"


Having set forth this scene, Jesus asked the lawyer, "Which now of these three, thinkest thou, was neighbor to him that fell among thieves?" And he said, “He that shewed mercy on him.” Then Jesus said unto him, “Go, and do likewise." The answer here focuses not so much upon considering the one who will help us as being our neighbor, as it does upon our being a neighbor to others as this Samaritan was to him who fell among thieves. It is hardly likely that, had the circumstances been reversed, the Jew would have helped the Samaritan. Therefore the lesson is that we are to be as the Samaritan, and not as the priest or the Levite.


The remainder of this chapter tells us of an incident in the home of Martha, Mary, and Lazarus, in Bethany , near Jerusalem . Luke does not tell us the name of this village, but John does. The principal point of interest here is Martha's complaint and the answer Jesus gave her concerning it. See verses 40 through 42. Mary, instead of helping Martha with the work of housekeeping, "sat at Jesus' feet, and heard His word."


(Verses 40 through 42) "But Martha was cumbered about much serving, and came to Him, and said, Lord, dost Thou not care that my sister hath left me to serve alone? Bid her therefore that she help me. And Jesus answered and said unto her, Martha, Martha, thou art careful and troubled about many things: but one thing is needful: and Mary hath chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her."


It surely is not difficult to understand Martha's complaint. All of us are subject to becoming burdened with the mundane things of life, at which time we may indulge a little self-pity, and think someone else is shirking his, or her, duty. We may wonder, "Does the Master care that I am doing this alone? Why will He not make someone help me?" This was Martha's feeling, and she came to Him with that complaint. In Jesus' answer to her the word "careful" actually means "worried." So His answer is, "Martha, Martha, you are worried and troubled about many things." This is not said as a stern rebuke, but His twice calling her name gives it the quality of a mild scolding by one who loved her dearly, and makes it the equivalent of a question, "Martha, Martha, why are you worried and troubled about many things? But one thing is needful." He was simply saying to her, "Let all of these chores about which you are so worried and anxious be laid aside for the moment, and let us visit quietly together." This message is also to us today. Let us lay aside the cares of life for a little while, and sit down at His feet to hear His words. It is written, "Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God." He continues: "And Mary hath chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her." May we follow her example, and spend more time considering the words of our Master, instead of being constantly caught up in the worries and cares of this life.


Chapter 11

The first four verses of this chapter have to do with what is commonly called the Lord's prayer. This is not His prayer. It is the model He gave to His disciples when they asked Him to teach them how to pray, as John had taught his disciples. Accordingly He instructed them to pray in this manner. The first thing that is to be done in prayer is to acknowledge God as our heavenly Father, and pray that His name may be "hallowed," or acknowledged by all men to be sacred and worthy of reverence. Although we do not see that done today, there is an appointed day when every knee shall bow before Him, and confess that Jesus the Christ is Lord, to the glory of the Father. Then His name will indeed be hallowed unto all men.


The next petition is, "Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done, as in heaven, so in earth." This is all one item: for when His kingdom comes, in the sense of this text, His will shall be done in earth as it is in heaven. Some may argue that, inasmuch as our Lord's message at the beginning of His ministry was, "Repent: the kingdom of heaven is at hand," His kingdom was at the time of this saying, and is now, already here. Our answer to this is, "His kingdom has been in the world since the first one of His children was brought into the world; but not in its glory, which is the manner of its coming for which we are to pray. That will be when the promise is fulfilled to which the Apostle Peter refers, when he says, "Nevertheless we, according to His promise, look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness." When the new heavens and new earth appear, Satan and wicked men will no more resist the will of God. It will be done in earth as it is in heaven.


We are not to be concerned about what we shall eat or drink next year, next month, or even tomorrow. Our prayer is to be, "Give us this day our daily bread." This does not preclude our making plans for the future. But it does demand that when we do make those plans, we make them under the full realization that they are still subject to the will of God, and that He not only has veto power over them, but also that if He does veto them, it will ultimately be for our good.


The next petition is one, which seems to have been forgotten by many, or was never known by them. The very wording of it asks that, we be forgiven in exactly the same manner, or to the same extent that we forgive those who are indebted to us. The indebtedness mentioned here has nothing to do with financial obligations per se, but with trespasses. If one has trespassed against us, whether we perceive it to be by mistake, or with malice aforethought, if in our hearts there is no forgiveness for him, why should we expect God to forgive us? Remember Jesus' prayer for those who were in the very act of crucifying Him, "Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do."


"And lead us not into temptation; but deliver us from evil." James says, "God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth He any man." Nevertheless, God often leads His servants into positions where they are tempted. Even Jesus, the Son of God, was led by the Spirit into such. In Chapter 4, verse 1, Luke says, "And Jesus being full of the Holy Ghost returned from Jordan , and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness." Matthew says, "Then was Jesus led up of the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil." God did not tempt Him, but It was God Who by the Spirit led Him into the place of temptation. Consider also the story of Joseph. We, knowing our weakness, are to pray that God will not lead us into such situations. Nevertheless, if He sees fit to do so, we are to pray that He will deliver us from evil. The evil is not the being tempted; but the yielding to the temptation: and we are to pray for deliverance from that.


In verses 5 through 8, Jesus gives us an illustration, which is so simple that we see no need for comments concerning it; but we shall attempt to consider the lesson, which He taught by it.


(Verses 9 through 13) "And I say unto you, Ask and it shall be given you: seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you. For everyone that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened. If a son ask bread of any of you that is a father, will he give him a stone? Or if he ask a fish, will he for a fish give him a serpent? Or if he shall ask an egg, will he give him a scorpion? If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask Him?"


When we review the illustration given to lead into this, we readily see that the lesson is not, that we should ask once or twice, and not immediately receiving that for which we pray, give up; but rather that we continue to pray until we receive an answer. Notice that, though the friend would not rise, and give the three loaves at once, he finally would after the continued asking. Of course, we can sometimes ask for things we do not need; and when we do, He may see fit to withhold them for our own good. However, the key of the whole is in the last verse of this text. If we are burdened with a desire for a closer walk with God, a sweeter fellowship with our Saviour, more grace to do those things He has taught us to do, stronger faith to rely upon His promises, (the list can go on and on,) let us continue asking, seeking, and knocking, until we receive it. For He has said, and He cannot lie, "For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened." Not only so, but if we who are evil, (and compared to God, every man, no matter how faithful he strives to be to our Lord, is evil,) know how to give good gifts to our children, we can be fully assured that our heavenly father will give the Holy Spirit to us if we continue to ask Him.


Verses 14 through 16 tell of the casting out of a devil, and the reaction of some of the people. The man, in whom this devil was, was dumb, or mute. When the devil was cast out, the man was able to speak, and some of the people were astonished, but others accused Jesus of casting out devils by Beelzebub the chief of the devils, and others demanded that he show them a sign from heaven. Since they could not recognize this miracle as a sign from heaven, one can only wonder what they were looking for, as a sign.


(Verses 17 through 20) "But He, knowing their thoughts, said unto them, Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation; and a house divided against a house falleth. If Satan also be divided against himself, how shall his kingdom stand? Because ye say that I cast out devils by Beelzebub. And if I by Beelzebub cast out devils, by whom do your sons cast them out? Therefore they shall be your judges. But if I with the finger of God cast out devils, no doubt the kingdom of God is come unto you."


No one can fail to see the logic in what Jesus said to them. Internal strife and division are the fastest means in the world for destroying a home, a community, or even a kingdom. Such being the case, if He were casting out devils by Beelzebub, Satan's entire kingdom would soon collapse. Then He said to them, "If I by Beelzebub cast out devils, by whom do your sons cast them out? Therefore they shall be your judges." It is obvious that "their sons," or followers, had no means whatsoever by which they could cast out devils. Since they have no power to cast them out, and He does cast them out, they themselves will be the judges of the matter. He does not mean that they will sit on the seat of judgment, when these men come up in that final day, but simply that, the fact that He does cast them out and these men cannot, makes them the judges, (or the witnesses,) in that they prove His power greater than both the men and the devils, which brings us back to the same fact He had earlier proved. It cannot be by Beelzebub: for that would bring to destruction the kingdom of Satan . On the other hand, if it is by the power of God that these devils are cast out, He says, "No doubt the kingdom of God is come upon you." The word translated, "upon," also means "near, or hard by," and by no means intends that these are in any manner embraced in, but rather that they are confronted by, "the kingdom of God :" for where the power of God is, there is the kingdom of God .


(Verses 21 through 23) "When a strong man armed keepeth his palace, his goods are in peace. But when a stronger than he shall come upon him and overcome him, he taketh from him all the armour wherein he trusted, and divideth the spoils. He that is not with Me is against Me: and he that gathereth not with Me scattereth."


The natural, or literal, meaning of verses 21 and 22 can scarcely be misunderstood. We all are aware that as long as a man is able to drive away all attacking forces, no one will, or can, disturb his possessions; but when one comes with a sufficient force to overcome him, there comes into play the old slogan, "To the victor belong the spoils." The aggressor will then take whatever he pleases of that which the strong man had held. As a metaphor, the first strong man is Satan, who holds men in the bondage of sin, and as shown in the preceding incident, under demon possession and afflictions stemming from that. No one can overcome him, and release his captives until a stronger than he comes, and overcomes him. The One greater than he is He Who is the power of God, the Christ, Jesus our Lord. This is how the devil of this incident was cast out; and this is also how men are set free from the bondage of sin even today. Since there can be no division in a kingdom, and that kingdom survive, Jesus says, "He that is not with Me is against Me: and he that gathereth not with Me scattereth."


(Verses 24 through 26) "When the unclean spirit is gone out of a man, he walketh through dry places, seeking rest; and finding none, he saith, I will return unto my house whence I came out. And when he cometh, he findeth it swept and garnished. Then goeth he, and taketh to him seven other spirits more wicked than himself; and they enter in and dwell there: and the last state of that man is worse than the first."


Our first observation concerning this is, Let no one ever be afraid that the evil spirit which has been cast out by the power of God, will ever come back and dwell in the heart from which it has been cast out. This lesson concerns not an evil spirit that has been cast out, but one that has voluntarily "gone out," as is the case in "self reformation," in which a man decides that he will put on a cloak of righteousness for some purpose of his own, or even that he decides that he can become righteous by doing "righteous works," and observing certain regulations and rituals. This lesson can be applied in either of two ways. It can be applied to the individual who decides of himself, or is over persuaded by another, to become righteous by studying the written word of God, and keeping its commandments, but has not by the Father been drawn to the Son, and as a result has faith in his own works, and not in Jesus, the Christ of God. Since the going out was a voluntary matter on the part of the evil spirit, he also is at liberty to come back. At this point, notice that the house is cleaned up and decorated, but has no occupant. The Spirit of God is not there; and the heart is still just an empty hull, in spite of all the sweeping and decorating. The evil spirit goes and gets seven companion spirits more wicked than himself, and they all come back to that house, which is, of course, the heart of the poor man in whom the evil spirit was at the beginning, and they dwell there. There is no indication that they ever leave again; "And the last state of that man is worse than the first."


The other application of this is to those unbelieving Jews who accused Jesus of casting out devils by Beelzebub. They for the greater part were the Pharisees and the scribes. They all believed that by their works they could become righteous, or rather that, they had already obtained righteousness by their works, so much that, it was a defilement even to be touched by a sinner as they walked along the street. Until the time of this encounter, they had, in most cases, refrained from actual violence against Jesus and His disciples; and even at this time, they refrained. The evil spirit was either still seeking rest, or gathering his companions; but the time was fast approaching when he and his companions would take up their abode in "this house." Then their wrath would crescendo to their cry of, "Crucify Him, Crucify Him." Indeed their last state would be worse than the first.


(Verses 27 and 28) "And it came to pass, as He spake these things, a certain woman of the company lifted up her voice, and said unto Him, Blessed is the womb that bare Thee, and the paps Thou hast sucked. But He said, Yea, rather, blessed are they that hear the word of God and keep it."


Mary, in Luke 1:48, said, "from henceforth all generations shall call me blessed," and some have taken this to mean that she occupies a position higher than the remainder of humanity, even so much so that some idolize her and pray to her. This may even have been the thought of the woman who, in the present text, spoke out concerning her. Yet what she said is not so important as the answer Jesus gave her, "Yea rather, blessed are they that hear the word of God, and keep it." He did not deny that Mary was blessed; in fact, He gave assent to her declaration. Nevertheless, He said something else was more important than this. That which He established as the greater is, "Blessed are they that hear the word of God, and keep it." This is His declaration of the matter, and should settle all argument.


(Verses 29 through 32) "And when the people were gathered thick together, He began to say, This is an evil generation: they seek a sign; and there shall no sign be given it, but the sign of Jonas the prophet. For as Jonas was a sign unto the Ninevites, so shall the Son of man be to this generation. The queen of the south shall rise up in the judgment with the men of this generation, and condemn them: for she came from the utmost parts of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon; and, behold, a greater than Solomon is here. The men of Nineve shall rise up in the judgment with this generation, and shall condemn it: for they repented at the preaching of Jonas; and, behold, a greater than Jonas is here."


"Generation" is a word that appears several times in this text. The common perception of it in this excerpt, as well as in most places where it occurs, is that it means the people of that immediate time, which it sometimes does mean, but the more basic meaning of the word thus translated is, "people of similar characteristics, a family, a race, or a nation." Since most of this is directed against the Pharisees, there is some probability that it may refer to people of any time frame who have the same unbelieving, self-righteous, characteristics and ways as did these Pharisees. Jesus waited until quite a crowd had gathered, and then declared this to be an evil generation, which was always seeking for a sign. Since they could not recognize the great miracles Jesus wrought as signs from heaven, He said that no sign would be given them except the sign of Jonas the prophet. In another place, He told us that the sign of Jonas was his being "in the belly of the whale" for three days and nights, thus answering to Jesus' being in the tomb for three days and nights. However, here it seems that the sign of which He speaks is rather that the Ninevites repented at the preaching of Jonas, and thus their repentance sets them as witnesses in the judgment against the men of this generation, because a greater than Jonas is presently before them. The very same reasoning applies to the "queen of the south," or "the queen of Sheba ," as she is elsewhere called. She came from a great distance, at great effort and expense, to hear the wisdom of Solomon: and Jesus is greater than was Solomon.


(Verses 33 through 36) "No man, when he hath lighted a candle, putteth it in a secret place, neither under a bushel, but on a candlestick that they which come in may see the light. The light of the body is the eye: therefore when thine eye is single, thy whole body also is full of light; but when thine eye is evil, thy whole body is full of darkness. Take heed therefore that the light which is in thee be not darkness. If thy whole body therefore be full of light, having no part dark, the whole shall be full of light, as when the bright shining of a candle doth give thee light."


The metaphor of verse 33 is the same as that of Chapter 8, verse 16, which we have already discussed. It declares that man, as unwise as he is, knows better than to light a candle, and then hide it. Therefore the inference is that God, Who is infinitely wiser than man, would surely, not act so foolishly. Every work that He does shall be made manifest, and every candle that he lights, shall be placed "on the candlestick." When He here speaks of the eye, the word here translated, "single," when referring to the eye means, "having no obstruction, but being sound and clear," while that translated, "evil," means, in the same usage, "diseased or blind." So verse 34, in its literal meaning, is simply a statement of fact which we can all readily understand: Physically, he whose eyes are sound and well, has plenty of the light of day, while he whose eyes are blind, is always in the dark. Metaphorically, Jesus is concerned with the eyes of the understanding. This is why He says, "Take heed therefore that the light which is in thee be not darkness." No matter how great it may be perceived by the world, and no matter how valuable it may be to us as we have to deal with worldly things, worldly wisdom is nothing but darkness, when compared to the wisdom of God. Let us therefore strive to gain the wisdom that is of God; and as He told us earlier in this chapter, the way to gain that is to continue to ask Him for it. In another place, He said in connection with the same subject, "But if the light that is in thee be darkness, how great is that darkness!" One may have the greatest light among men of worldly wisdom, but if he has not the light of the wisdom of God, understanding of spiritual things, he is in terrible darkness. On the other hand, when the wisdom of God shines in his heart, his whole body is filled with light, as when a candle, set in full view on the candlestick, is shining brightly forth. Since Jesus is "the true light that lighteth every man that cometh into the world," let us take heed therefore to what He has done, and has taught.


(Verses 37 through 41) "And as He spake, a certain Pharisee besought Him to dine with him: and He went in and sat down to meat. And when the Pharisee saw it, he marveled that He had not first washed before dinner. And the Lord said unto him, Now do ye Pharisees make clean the outside of the cup and the platter; but your inward part is full of ravening and wickedness. Ye fools, did not He that made that which is without make that which is within also? But rather give alms of such things as ye have; and, behold, all things are clean unto you."


No doubt, should any of us today be invited to go and dine with someone, and immediately after sitting down at the table, begin to rebuke our host as Jesus did on this occasion, not only would our host be ready to throw us out, but even our own friends would be so incensed at it, and embarrassed by it, that they would immediately forsake us. We are so entangled with "proprieties" that we think we have to avoid controversy at all costs. Not so with Jesus: for His mission was one of truth, not diplomacy.


Whether Jesus' host actually said anything about His not following the Pharisaic ritual of washing before eating, is not clear; but whether or not he said anything, Jesus knew his thoughts. His statement in verse 39 is strictly metaphoric: because, so far as actual cups and platters are concerned, they were very careful to completely wash them. His meaning is that they were great sticklers for physical cleanliness, but their minds and hearts were evil. He calls attention to the fact that the same God Who made the body also made the mind and the heart. Verse 41, in this context, is a little unclear, unless His message is, that they should give alms of whatever they have at hand when someone is in need, and make no great fanfare about it, as they were wont to do. By giving from a loving heart instead of for the sake of ritual and for the praise of men, all things would be clean unto them.


(Verses 42 through 44) "But woe unto you, Pharisees! for ye tithe mint and rue and all manner of herbs, and pass over judgment and love of God: these ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone. Woe unto you, Pharisees! for ye love the uppermost seats in the synagogues, and greetings in the markets. Woe unto you, Pharisees, hypocrites! for you are as graves which appear not, and the men that walk over them are not aware of them."


Many come to verse 42 for proof that tithing is a New Testament doctrine; but it is wasted effort. Jesus was not speaking to His disciples, but to Pharisees; and Pharisees were a sect of the Jews worshipping under the law. So, surely, they were under obligation to pay their tithes. His rebuke to them was for their preoccupation with tithes to the neglect of the "weightier matters of the law," as Matthew records His saying. (Matthew 23:23) Matthew lists these "weightier matters" as "judgment, mercy, and faith," while here they are "judgment and the love of God." Of course, they amount to the same thing, since the love of God includes mercy and faith. Inasmuch as these are the more important ("weightier") matters, they should get the greater attention. Nevertheless, as worshippers under the law, it was also their obligation to pay their tithes.


The next thing for which He rebuked them was their self-righteous arrogance and egotism. They were always striving for the "uppermost seats," or the highest positions in the synagogues. This is an attitude, which seems to have rubbed off on almost everyone. Even the apostles themselves, sometimes argued about which of them was greatest. These Pharisees loved to be recognized in public places; they "loved greetings in the markets." Then Jesus declared to them that with all their pretensions, they still are as graves which, having been abandoned, so far as caring for them is concerned, have become so completely unrecognizable that men who walk over them are totally unaware of their existence.


(Verses 45 through 48) "Then answered one of the lawyers, and said unto Him, Master, thus saying Thou reproachest us also. And he said, Woe unto you also, ye lawyers! for ye lade men with burdens grievous to be borne, and ye yourselves touch not the burdens with one of your fingers. Woe unto you! for ye build the sepulchres of the prophets, and your fathers killed them. Truly ye bear witness that ye allow the deeds of your fathers: for they indeed killed them, and ye build their sepulchres."


A "lawyer," as mentioned here was not necessarily an attorney, or someone who argued cases in court. The word refers rather to one who was well taught in the law of Moses and in the traditions of the Jews. It was they who "interpreted" the law for the Jews. They would indeed make the burden for the common people under the law service as burdensome as possible; but they could find loopholes for themselves, not according to the law, but according to the traditional interpretation of the law.


Verse 47 might be a little obscure to us, until we consider that Jesus knew all things, even the secret thoughts of the hearts of these lawyers. We might be prone to think that this building, and as He said in another place, "garnishing," or decorating, the tombs of the prophets showed their great love for them and the word of God which they prophesied; and that is exactly what they wanted every one to think. Yet Jesus knew that in their wicked hearts they were only seeking the praise of men, and cared nothing for God and His word. In the next three verses He will make that crystal clear.


(Verses 49 through 51) "Therefore also said the wisdom of God, I will send them prophets and apostles, and some of them they shall slay and persecute: that the blood of all the prophets, which was shed from the foundation of the world, may be required of this generation; from the blood of Abel unto the blood of Zacharias, which perished between the altar and the temple: verily I say unto you, It shall be required of this generation."


In verse 49 Jesus declares that this very generation of people who build and decorate the tombs of the prophets, when the opportunity is presented, will show themselves to be the same as were their fathers, by persecuting and killing the prophets and apostles who are sent unto them. And this they certainly did. In another place where this is recorded, Jesus says, "Fill up the measure of your fathers. Ye serpents, ye generation of vipers, how can ye escape the damnation of hell?" So in the wisdom of God, He said, "I will send them prophets and apostles, and some of them they shall slay and persecute." It was no surprise that these lawyers did not believe in Jesus, even after His resurrection, when it was preached by the apostles. In fact, they were sent, not to convert these people, but, so far as God's purpose concerning these lawyers is concerned, God's purpose was absolutely single, "That the blood of all the prophets, which was shed from the foundation of the world, may be required of this generation." "Generation" in this sentence may indeed mean people of this particular time frame, but it still may reach to its basic meaning of, "men of like characteristics" as these lawyers, that is, self-righteous hypocrites who are seeking only worldly recognition, and care nothing for the word of God, nor for its Author. Everyone knows that Abel was the righteous son of Adam who was murdered by his wicked brother, Cain. It may be that some do not know who Zacharias was. This is the same Zacharias who was the father of John the Baptist. Just as God had warned Joseph to take Jesus and Mary to Egypt to escape the wrath of Herod when he had the children of Bethlehem massacred, so was Zacharias warned to hide John away. When the executioners came seeking John, his father refused to tell them where he was. They murdered him in the court of the priests, "between the altar and the temple," while he was engaged in his duties as a priest. He was the last prophet murdered, before the execution of John the Baptist. Notice that the fact that God set up this matter so that all the righteous blood from Abel to Zacharias was to be required of this generation did not lessen the guilt of their fathers for the blood they had shed.


(Verses 52 through 54) "Woe unto you, lawyers! for ye have taken away the key of knowledge: ye entered not in yourselves, and them that were entering in ye hindered. And as He said these things unto them, the scribes and Pharisees began to urge Him vehemently, and to provoke Him to speak of many things: laying wait for Him, and seeking to catch something out of His mouth that they might accuse Him."


One more woe Jesus pronounced against the lawyers; and that was because they had "taken away the key of knowledge." Just as so many have today, these lawyers had long since abandoned the actual sayings of the word of God, in favor of the interpretations of some rabbis along the way. The moment that they, we, or anyone else, does that, he takes away the key of knowledge. He does not gain true knowledge himself, so he is not entering in; and as he teaches these interpretations instead of the actual sayings of God's written word, he hinders those whom he teaches. Thus he stands in the same position as these lawyers: he enters not in himself, and those who are entering, he hinders: so woe unto him!


This was no more pleasing to those to whom he spoke than it is to most people today. So they all set in on Him, trying to provoke Him to say something that would give them an excuse to carry an accusation against Him to the council of the chief priests and elders, or even to the Roman officials.


Chapter 12

(Verses 1 through 3) "In the mean time, when there were gathered together an innumerable multitude of people, insomuch that they trode one upon another, He began to say unto His disciples first of all, Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees which is hypocrisy. For there is nothing covered, that shall not be made known. Therefore whatsoever ye have spoken in darkness shall be heard in the light; and that which ye have spoken in the ear in closets shall be proclaimed upon the housetops."


Though nothing is said about it, sometime during the events of verses 38 through 54 of the preceding chapter the scene must have moved from the Pharisee's table back into the street: for "in the mean time" a great crowd of people gathered. Luke's expression, "an innumerable multitude," as in many other places where it is used by others as well as by Luke, does not intend to convey the idea that the crowd was larger than we have numbers to count. But the Greek word, "ochlos," translated "multitude" means, not a regimented group readily subject to numbering, but a milling throng, which it is impossible to number. The next clause of Luke's sentence bears witness of this concept, "insomuch that they trode one upon another." They were milling around in such a confused manner that they were actually running over one another. Under such circumstances they could not be numbered.


When such a crowd had gathered, the first thing Jesus said to His disciples was, Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy." As always, Jesus' choice of words was perfect. Just as leaven, when put into dough, will seep through and leaven the entire lump, so hypocrisy permeated every thought, word, and deed of the Pharisees. Jesus warned His disciples to beware of that. His meaning is not only that they should beware of this in the Pharisees themselves, but also to beware lest they also be affected by it; and this warning is for our instruction as well. Hypocrisy seeks always to cover up, not remove, the evil; and to put on a facade of righteousness, although what is thereby concealed is the epitome of evil. This seems to work for a while; but Jesus says, "For there is nothing covered, that shall not be revealed; neither hid, that shall not be known. Therefore whatsoever ye have spoken in darkness shall be heard in light; and that which ye have spoken in the ear in closets shall be proclaimed upon the housetops." That "friend" you thought was so close that, he, or she, would never tell of that evil deed you confessed to him, or her, is now telling everyone that will listen. And that deed you did, which you were sure no one else knew about, and of which you have been thoroughly ashamed ever since, is suddenly public knowledge. If we have not actually experienced this, we know someone who has. This is the result of hypocrisy. If we have used hypocrisy in the past, there is little we can do about that now; but we can cease from such, lest it overtake us with a greater vengeance.


(Verses 4 and 5) "And I say unto you, My friends, Be not afraid of them that kill the body, and after that have no more that they can do. But I will forewarn you Whom ye shall fear: fear Him Which after He hath killed hath power to cast into hell; yea, I say unto you, Fear Him."


Only one thing in this might need clarification in the minds of some. All else is self-explanatory. Some have adopted the Miltonic idea that Satan rules in hell, and that he has the power to cast one into hell. We have even heard the expression, "If you do that," or "If you don't do this, the devil is going to get you, and put you in hell." This is absolutely a lie. Although it is Satan who leads people into sin, he has neither the power nor the authority to cast anyone into hell. Matthew 25:41 says "Then shall He (the Lord) say also unto them on the left, Depart from Me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels," and Revelation 20:10 says, "And the devil that deceived them was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are, and shall be tormented day and night for ever and ever." These two scriptures prove two points. First, He, Who has the power to cast into hell is the King, the Son of man, the Christ, Jesus our Lord; and, second, the devil himself, instead of ruling in hell, will be cast therein, and there tormented for ever and ever. Therefore, since Jesus is "God with us", this leaves only God with the power to cast into hell. So He, and He alone, is the one Whom we should fear. Man cannot reach beyond the killing of the body, and that only as God will suffer him to do.


(Verses 6 and 7) "Are not five sparrows sold for two farthings, and not one of them is forgotten before God? But even the very hairs of your head are numbered. Fear not therefore: ye are of more value than many sparrows."


Have you ever heard someone say, "I do not believe that God is concerned with such trivial things as this, or that?" There are few things, which we would think of as more trivial than one sparrow, that little bird which almost everyone thinks of as more of a nuisance than anything else. Yet, "Not one of them is forgotten before God." Then, what about that hair that stuck in your comb this morning, when you were grooming yourself? How can any thing be more trivial than one hair? Nevertheless, "Even the very hairs of your head are numbered," meaning that God knows, and is conscious of each one of them. With this background, are you still too worthless for God to take notice of you? Are your troubles and burdens too trivial for God to care about them? If you think so, remember that you are, of yourself, just that worthless and trivial; but God has shed His love abroad in your heart, and by it you are of more value than many sparrows. Since He never forgets even one of them, and He has made you of more value than many of them, He will surely remember you.


(Verses 8 and 9) "Also I say unto you, Whosoever shall confess Me before men, him shall the Son of man confess before the angels of God. But he that denieth Me before men shall be denied before the angels of God."


Many try to water down this statement to make loopholes for sinners. They say that, when Jesus said that these who deny Him before men shall be denied before the angels of God, He did not mean that in the Day of Judgment at His return they will be denied, but only that, while here in the world they will be denied certain blessings, and thus chastised. Then as proof of that position they will turn to the Apostle Peter's denial of Jesus. What they fail to understand is that, the present text is in perfect harmony with the principle which underlies all the teachings of our Lord concerning the comparison of the elect vs. the non-elect, His sheep vs. the goats, the righteous vs. the wicked, the believer vs. the unbeliever, etc. That principle is, "A good tree cannot bring forth corrupt fruit, and neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit." When He says, "Whosoever shall confess Me before men," He does not mean, "Whosoever says that he believes in Me, but continues on in his same old sinful path." Rather His meaning is, "Whosoever by his manner of living confesses Me before men, him will I confess before the angels of God." Neither does his statement, "He that denieth Me before men," mean one who, in a momentary panic of fear, denies Him in word, but continues to serve Him, will be denied before the angels of God. It is noteworthy that, Peter, though thrice denying Him, just as He had foretold, never left His presence, until so stricken with remorse, grief, and repentance, when Jesus looked at him at the crowing of the cock, he went out, and wept bitterly; and never did his life deny Jesus. Those who go on in the way of sin, with their lives a constant denial of our Lord, will find themselves denied on that great day when they shall be arraigned before Him in the presence of the angels of God.


(Verse 10) "And whosoever shall speak a word against the Son of man, it shall be forgiven him: but unto him that blasphemeth the Holy Ghost it shall not be forgiven."


The first thing to remember here is that, this is addressed to Jesus' disciples. He is alerting them to what they will encounter as they fulfill their ministry upon which He will send them. Only two Persons are mentioned about Whom people will speak evil, the Son of man and the Holy Ghost. He has already addressed this matter before, on an occasion when the Pharisees accused Him of casting out devils by Beelzebub, the prince of devils. See Matthew 12: 24-32 and Mark 3:22-30. Now He reminds His disciples of this, so that they will be able to recognize this principle. There may be some, who, for a while, disbelieve their message, and even speak evil of Jesus. This is not a positive sign that they will never be forgiven; but those who, after viewing the miracles the disciples shall do by the power of the Holy Ghost, ascribe that power to the devil, show themselves to be totally and eternally depraved.


(Verses 11 and 12) "And when they shall bring you unto the synagogues, and unto magistrates, and powers, take no thought how or what thing ye shall answer, or what ye shall say: for the Holy Ghost shall teach you in the same hour what ye ought to say."


This is further preparation for the ministry of the apostles. Jesus knowing that they would be arrested, and brought before various officers, councils, and assemblies, instructs them to give no thought to what answer to give, nor how to give that answer. The Holy Ghost Himself would properly instruct them in the time of need. Some have tried to extend this to ministers when they come before a congregation to preach; but the description given here will not fit such a situation. In addition to that, the Apostle Paul's instruction to Timothy, "Meditate upon these things; give thyself wholly to them; that thy profiting may appear to all," (1 Timothy 4:15 ,) very clearly indicates that ministers are to study the word of God, that they may be able to set it forth to others in an intelligent manner.


(Verses 13 through 15) "And one of the company said unto Him, Master, speak to my brother, that he divide the inheritance with me. And He said unto him, Man, who made Me a judge or a divider over you? And He said unto them, Take heed, and beware of covetousness: for a man's life consisteth not in the abundance of things he possesseth."


Since we have no information on this case other than what is said here, we do not know whether this inheritance is one of which this man's brother had defrauded him, or whether it was one his brother had rightfully received, and this man's greed made him want a part of it. However that may be, Jesus, by His question, declared to him that judgment was not His mission at this time. Then He warned His disciples to beware of covetousness. The covetous person sets his mind upon the accumulation of an "abundance of things," thinking that such brings joy, which, in fact, it seldom does. So Jesus warned them against this, declaring that, the abundance of things possessed is not what real life is made of; and He follows this with a very graphic illustration.


(Verses 16 through 21) "And He spake a parable unto them, saying, The ground of a certain rich man brought forth bountifully: and he thought within himself, saying, What shall I do, because I have no room where to bestow all my fruits? And he said, This will I do: I will pull down my barns, and build greater; and there will I bestow all my fruits and my goods. And I will say to my soul, Soul, thou hast much goods laid up for many years; take thine ease, eat, drink, and be merry. But God said unto him, Thou fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee: then whose shall these things be, which thou hast provided? So is every one that layeth up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God."


The key to this parable is the rich man's attitude, and what Jesus said about it in verse 21. Jesus never taught that just the fact that one has great wealth is a sin. The sin is in the attitude of the person who has it toward that wealth, and the use he makes of it. In some cases it is even in the manner in which it is acquired; but in this case there is no consideration of the manner of acquisition. At the beginning of this parable, the man is already rich, with nothing said about how he obtained the wealth; so that does not enter into the discussion. Two things identify this man as a farmer: his ground brought forth bountifully, and he stored his fruits and goods in barns. The fact that his present prosperity is due to the bountiful yield of his ground establishes this as a blessing from God. At this point we are given an insight into the attitude, and by it the character, of the man. He was selfish, with no compassion for the needy, who are always on hand. When wondering what to do with his great increase, apparently, no thought crossed his mind of dividing any of it with anyone, or distributing any of it to the poor. He just intended to keep it all for himself. And to that end he planned to do away with his present barns, and build bigger ones, thinking that he would have enough that he could live in leisure and in plenty for many years, never considering that anything could cut him short. He thought he was in for a long time of ease and pleasure; "But God said unto him, Thou fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee: then whose shall these things be, which thou hast provided?" Those who never consider anything except their own pleasure, if they do not have it taken from them, may be taken from it. Things of this world are never sure, and they who have all their attention and affection centered upon them are indeed foolish: for they will be separated from them. Jesus sums it all up in the one statement, "So is he that layeth up treasures for himself, and is not rich toward God."


(Verses 22 through 26) "And He said unto His disciples, Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat: neither for the body, what ye shall put on. The life is more than meat, and the body is more than raiment. Consider the ravens: for they neither sow nor reap; which neither have storehouse nor barn; and God feedeth them: how much more are ye better than the fowls? And which of you with taking thought can add to his stature one cubit? If ye then be not able to do that thing which is least, why take ye thought for the rest?"


Since Jesus introduced this with "therefore," it is evident that it is based upon the illustration He had just presented. In that He showed the futility of a man's trying to lay up great provisions for the future, since even that future itself might be taken away. Because of that we must not devote our time to providing food and clothing for the future. This is not a condemnation of reasonable planning, so long as we do not become self-centered and covetous. It is definitely a condemnation of becoming obsessed with the thought of making provision for the future, and being constantly worried about whether or not we have sufficient goods laid by to meet that contingency which may, or may not, ever come to pass. We are to stop and consider the fowls of the air, which have no storehouses nor barns in which to store for the future, so they are day to day dependent upon God for their needs; and He supplies them. One thing, however, should here be noticed: although they do not plan ahead nor store up provisions for the future, neither do they sit idly by waiting for someone to feed them. God provides the food, but they are busy serving Him, while they seek for it. Jesus then by a question points out a fact, which we all know can not be denied. This is that worry ("taking thought") will never add anything to our height. Not only will it not add a cubit; it will not add an inch. Though this is impossible to us, He calls it "that thing which is least:" and if we can not do this, there is no need to worry about the rest: for that will not help.


(Verses 27 through 30) "Consider the lilies how they grow: they toil not, they spin not; yet I say unto you, that Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. If then God so clothe the grass, which is today in the field, and tomorrow is cast into the oven, how much more will He clothe you, O ye of little faith? And seek not what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink, neither be ye of doubtful mind. For all these things do the nations of the world seek after: and your Father knoweth that ye have need of these things."


The further we go into this the more apparent it becomes that we should make every effort to clear our minds of worry concerning material things. When our minds are filled with worry, we cannot apply ourselves as we ought to the worship or service of God. Jesus reminds us of the brevity of the life of the lily. It blooms out in great beauty today, and tomorrow it may be burned up. Yet it is God Who gave it such beauty that even Solomon, the wisest man (other than Jesus) who ever lived, and also the richest king of Israel , could not match it. Will He not also take care of us for whom He has paid such a great price. So let us put aside all worries about material things, such as food, drink, clothing, etc., and remember that He knows that we have need of these things. These are the things for which the heathen of the world seek, not knowing that God already knows our needs. The word translated "nations" in verse 30, also means "heathen," which in this context seems far better.


(Verses 31 through 34) "But rather seek ye the kingdom of God ; and all these things shall be added unto you. Fear not, little flock; for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom. Sell that ye have, and give alms; provide yourselves bags, which wax not old, a treasure in heaven that faileth not, where no thief approacheth, neither moth corrupteth. For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also."


Having warned us what we should not be overly concerned about, Jesus tells us that instead of seeking material things, we are to make the kingdom of God our first priority. Of course, "the kingdom of God " is a phrase, which is used many times, and in various ways in the scriptures. We think of it as being all the saints of God from all ages of time, and especially when the wonderful glory of our Lord shall be fully revealed. Yet, perhaps the best manner of considering it in this text is as the Apostle Paul defines it in Romans 14:17, "For the kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost." This seems to be exactly what we are admonished to seek instead of material things. While seeking this kingdom of God , we shall find our natural necessities provided by our loving heavenly Father: for it is His good pleasure to give us the kingdom. Therefore we should have no fear. God usually speaks of His people as "few," "a remnant," "a little flock," etc., but in this instance this was especially fitting. From verse 22 He has been speaking to only His disciples, not to the multitude. And when it is said that, "He spake to His disciples," the meaning usually is that He spoke to the twelve apostles; and it will be remembered that at the beginning of the chapter, there was such a multitude that they were running over one another. Against such a background, twelve would indeed be a little flock. So instead of trying to build up great possessions, and being worried about them, the right thing to do is to sell them, and use the proceeds to give alms. "Provide yourselves bags that wax not old, a treasure in heaven that faileth not, where no thief approacheth, neither moth corrupteth." The reference here is to the bag called a "scrip," which was carried by a shepherd, when out in the field with his flock. In it he carried sufficient food to take care of him until he could find where he might re-supply it. From it he would also be able to contribute to one he might meet in the way, who was in need. Here Jesus says, "provide yourselves bags that wax not old," or that never run short, "a treasure in the heavens that faileth not." Perhaps, the Apostle Peter best tells us how this can be done. In 2 Peter 1:5-11, he tells us how to do this, closing that particular subject with, "Wherefore the rather, brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure: for if ye do these things ye shall never fall: for so an entrance shall be ministered to you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ." Since Paul has defined the kingdom of God, (which, surely, is the same as that of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ,) we can safely conclude that if we add these seven graces to our faith, cultivating them so that they abound, we will receive an abundant opportunity to enjoy the "righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost," of which that kingdom consists. These provisions will continue on and on, the bags will not wax old. This is treasure "laid up in the heavens," where no thief can steal it, and it can not be corrupted; and "where your treasure is, there will your heart be also."


(Verses 35 through 38) "Let your loins be girded about, and your lights burning; and ye yourselves like unto men that wait for their lord, when he shall return from the wedding, that when he knocketh, they may open unto him immediately. Blessed are those servants, whom the lord when he cometh shall find watching. Verily I say unto you, that he shall gird himself, and make them all sit down to meat, and will come forth and serve them. And if he shall come in the second watch, or come in the third watch, and find them so, blessed are those servants."


These instructions, being delivered at the time they were, should be considered in the light of that time. This being as it is in about the middle of Luke's gospel record, we might forget that it took place on Jesus' last journey to Jerusalem , and that this journey was for the purpose of being at Jerusalem at the appointed time for His rendezvous with the cross. He is soon to leave His disciples, and return to the Father. So He instructs them, and us, inasmuch as He still has not returned. Just as a man going away to a wedding leaves his household servants to take care of the house in his absence, so Jesus is leaving them, and us, to take care of His "house" until He returns. Although few indeed are the masters who will do as Jesus says this one will, this is still His promise of what He will at His return do for His servants who are faithful, and continue watching for Him. "Verily I say unto you, that He shall gird Himself, and make them all sit down to meat, and come forth and serve them." Certainly this is a complete reversal from the common order, but we must remember that Jesus elevated His disciples from servants to friends. (John 15:15) "Henceforth I call you not servants; for the servant knoweth not what his lord doeth: but I have called you friends; for all things that I have heard of My Father, I have made known unto you." So He declares that when he returns, He will serve His faithful servants instead of having them serve Him. In whatever watch He may come, we are to remain faithful and watching. He has not told any of us in what watch He will come, so that leaves upon us the responsibility of watching for Him, and expecting Him all the time.


(Verses 39 and 40) "And this know, that if the goodman of the house had known in what watch the thief would come, he would have watched, and not have suffered his house to be broken through. Be ye therefore ready also: for the Son of man cometh at an hour when ye think not."


This is said to emphasize two things. One is that He will return; and the other is that no man knows when it will be. Just as servants who have been elevated to "friends" of their master, and who really love him, will wait up for him, all night if necessary, that they may greet him immediately upon his arrival, so should our Lord's servants watch for Him, however long it may take. For He will come; and the time of His return is withheld from them that their faithfulness may be tested.


(Verse 41) "Then Peter said unto Him, Lord, speakest Thou this parable unto us, or even unto all?"


This same question is often asked about many of our Lord's sayings. Notice that Jesus did not give the short direct answer of either, "I speak only to you," or "I speak unto all." Instead, He began to explain to them the repercussions of this from both sides of the question. As we follow through His discussion of it, we find it indeed to be addressed to all his servants, both those who know His will, and those who do not.


(Verses 42 through 44) "And the Lord said, Who then is that faithful and wise steward, whom his lord shall make ruler over all his household to give them their portion of meat in due season? Blessed is that servant, whom his lord when he cometh shall find so doing. Of a truth I say unto you, that he will make him ruler over all that he hath."


Again He is continuing the parable He started in verse 35. His question, "Who then is _ _ _," amounts to the same as saying, "Any servant whom He considers faithful and wise enough to be set as a steward." And the remainder of the question tells us in what capacity he is set as a steward, or ruler, "to give them their portion of meat in due season." He is charged with feeding them, not with being a taskmaster over them. So it is not his responsibility to assign them their various duties: for this, no doubt, their master has already taken care of. The position of this steward is exactly parallel to that of a gospel minister, who is to "Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God , which He hath purchased with His own blood." (Acts 20:28 ). When the lord of that servant returns, if he finds that servant faithfully doing that to which he was appointed, blessed is that servant. This applies to us either when our Lord calls us away in death, or when He returns to gather all His elect, and take them home with Him. Some try to apply this to our Lord's daily judging His servants; but it must be remembered that this is a continuing of what He has said in verse 40, and is an explanation of the whole parable, which He has just spoken. In verse 44 He says, "Of a truth I say unto you, that He will make him ruler over all that he hath." This is in perfect harmony with Paul's question, (Romans 8:32,) "He that spared not His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things?" As the Lord said that this master will elevate his faithful servant to a position of "ruler over all that he hath," He is declaring that such are indeed joint heirs with Him, and this is promised to all of His elect. However this applies in a special way to His apostles. For He has promised to them, "Verily I say unto you, that ye which have followed Me, in the regeneration when the Son of man shall sit in the throne of His glory, ye shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel ." (Matthew 19:28).


(Verses 45 and 46) "But and if that servant say in his heart, My lord delayeth his coming; and shall begin to beat the menservants and the maidens, and to eat and drink, and be drunken; the lord of that servant will come in a day when he looketh not for him, and at an hour when he is not aware, and will cut him in sunder, and will appoint him his portion with the unbelievers."


This is exactly the opposite side of the picture from that already given. Here we have a servant placed in exactly the same position of stewardship as the former, "ruler over his household, to give them their portion of meat in due season," to feed them, not to order them around. He having the interest of neither his master nor his master's servants at heart, tries to take over as their taskmaster, even to the point of beating them if he is not pleased with what they do. He feeds himself instead of the flock, and is drunken. Some will argue that this servant is "a child of God, just as the former servant, and is only walking in disobedience; but he will be saved in the end." We shall not even attempt to answer such an argument. Jesus is the Judge, and He has already answered it, "The lord of that servant will come in a day when he looketh not for him, and in an hour when he is not aware, and will cut him in sunder, and will appoint him his portion with the unbelievers." The Greek word here translated "cut in sunder," literally means "cut into two pieces," which was an ancient custom of execution of criminals. However, in statements in which the one thus treated is considered as surviving, it is usually taken to mean "cut to pieces by scourging," which was often the case with the type of whips used for scourging, as the flesh was sometimes actually flayed from the bones. Then in addition to this the master appoints "him his portion with the unbelievers." In John 8:24, Jesus tells us what is the portion of the unbelievers: "I said unto you, that ye shall die in your sins: for if ye believe not that I am he, ye shall die in your sins." This servant is illustrated by Judas Iscariot.


(Verses 47 and 48) "And that servant which knew his lord's will, and prepared not himself, neither did according to his will, shall be beaten with many stripes. But he that knew not, and did commit things worthy of stripes, shall be beaten with few stripes. For unto whom much is given, of him shall be much required: to whom men have committed much, of him they will ask the more."


Here Jesus speaks not of servants set in a position of stewardship, but rather of servants in general. Here also He is speaking of chastisement of servants, and not of "cutting them in sunder." The one who knows what his master would have him do, but makes no effort to do it, will be beaten with many stripes, while he who ignorantly commits something worthy of chastisement will be beaten with few stripes. Here, instead of reasoning that it is better not to know our Lord's will, lest we, in failing to do it, be beaten with many stripes, we should consider that the more we learn of His will, the better able we will be to do it. And the more we do His will the greater is our fellowship with Him. Although we may be so stubborn and set in our way that it takes many stripes to turn us back into His way, we should remember "Now no chastening for the present seemeth joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby." (Hebrews 12:11). Just as with men, the more they commit to a man, the greater service they will expect of him, the greater gift our Lord bestows upon one, the greater the service he is to render; and, sometimes, the greater the suffering he must endure. The life of the Apostle Paul is an outstanding witness of this.


(Verses 49 and 50) "I am come to send fire on the earth; and what will I, if it be already kindled? But I have a baptism to be baptized with; and how am I straitened till it be accomplished!


Since it was His mission to send a fire on the earth, Jesus had no reason to be disturbed or worried if it was already kindled. John the Baptist said of Him, "But One mightier than I cometh, the latchet of Whose shoes I am not worthy to unloose: He shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost and with fire: Whose fan is in His hand, and He will thoroughly purge His floor, and will gather the wheat into His garner; but the chaff He will burn with fire unquenchable." (Luke 3:16-17). Fire is twice mentioned in this statement. The former fire had already been kindled at the time of this incident: and the other will be when He returns in judgment of this world and the wicked. Since this first fire is already kindled, it was no point of worry to Him; but He was faced with a baptism which held Him in great difficulty until its accomplishment. That baptism was His suffering and death on Calvary 's cross, into which He was to be completely immersed, as in baptism. The time was fast approaching, and He was fully aware of it.


(Verses 51 through 53) "Suppose ye that I am come to give peace on earth? I tell you, Nay, but rather division. For from henceforth there shall be five in one house divided, three against two, and two against three. The father shall be divided against the son, and the son against the father; the mother against the daughter, and the daughter against the mother; the mother in law against her daughter in law, and the daughter in law against her mother in law."


Many try to take the message of the heavenly host, "Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace, good will toward men," to mean more than was intended by it. Indeed peace came on earth when the Prince of Peace was born, but not universal peace as will be when the full glory of the kingdom of God is revealed at the return of our Lord. Paul tells us that, "The kingdom of God is not meat and drink: but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost." So in the kingdom of God there is peace; but every person on earth is not in the kingdom of God . Because of this there is division. This division is between those who are of the kingdom and those who are not. As Jesus said, this division will be even between members of the same family, or household, since family relationships have no bearing upon the work of the Holy Ghost.


(Verses 54 through 57) "And He said unto the people, When ye see a cloud rise out of the west, straightway ye say, There cometh a shower; and so it is. And when ye see the south wind blow, ye say, there will be heat; and it cometh to pass. Ye hypocrites, ye can discern the face of the sky and of the earth; but how is it that ye do not discern this time? Yea, and why even of yourselves judge ye not what is right?"


In this, Jesus calls attention of not the disciples, but the people, to how well they could predict the weather by the signs of nature. The two signs of which he spoke were: first, that of a cloud rising out of the west being a sign of a coming shower, and, second, the wind's blowing from the south was a sign of rising temperatures. These signs were faithful, inasmuch as to the west was the Mediterranean Sea ; and a cloud coming up from it would indeed bring a shower. Also, since the area to the south was mostly desert, wind from that direction would bring heat. These signs they could clearly see. He called them hypocrites because, since they knew the prophecies of the Old Testament, they should have been able to recognize the fulfilling of them as they came to pass, and thus "discern this time." Yet they were completely without any recognition of that which was taking place immediately before them, in spite of all of their pretensions. Then He said that without those prophecies, they should have been able of themselves to "judge what is right;" but they could not.


(Verses 58 and 59) "When thou goest with thine adversary to the magistrate, as thou art in the way, give diligence that thou mayest be delivered from him; lest he hale thee to the judge, and the judge deliver thee to the officer, and the officer cast thee into prison. I tell thee thou shalt not depart thence, till thou hast paid the very last mite."


This is not instruction to His disciples, that they should compromise His commandments in order to keep from being thrown into prison; but it is instruction to all that they not be contentious, selfish, and stubborn. The case He mentions has already developed to the point that both parties are on their way to the magistrate, or judge. In such a case, one should put forth every effort to "settle out of court," that is, before they get to the judge. One may think he has every right on his side, but the judge might disagree and decide to send him to prison, and exonerate his adversary. If that takes place, no matter how much one may think himself in the right, he will still have to pay the entire fine before he is released. Wouldn't it be far wiser to compromise some of his "rights" just a little, and avoid going before the judge? This is the lesson our Lord is setting forth. It is better to bend a little in matters regarding "our rights," than to have to pay the full price.


Chapter 13

(Verses 1 through 5) "There were present at that season some who told Him of the Galilaeans, whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices. And Jesus answering said unto them, Suppose ye that these Galilaeans were sinners above all the Galilaeans, because they suffered such things? I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish. Or those eighteen, upon whom the tower of Siloam fell, and slew them, think ye that they were sinners above all men that dwelt in Jerusalem ? I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish."


Here Jesus addresses a proposition, which we sometimes hear brought up today. Though but one side is mentioned, both should claim our attention. In the first instance mentioned, Pilate, the Roman governor, had sent in his soldiers to murder a number of Galilaeans, even while they were engaged in offering their sacrifices to God. In the other, a natural disaster had occurred: the tower of Siloam at Jerusalem had fallen upon eighteen men, and crushed them to death. In both instances the same question is asked; and the same answer given. The question is, "Do you think that those who were killed were greater sinners than others?" and the answer is, "No: even you are just as bad as they, and unless you repent, you also shall perish." During last year there was a great flood throughout the Mid Western section of our nation, and some of the news media personnel put out one of their infamous polls. The question they asked was, "Do you think that the reason for this great disaster is that, these people upon whom it came were worse sinners than others?" I thank God that we do not even have the responsibility of giving an answer: Jesus has already answered it for us, "I tell you, Nay; but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish." The other side of this picture is that, when every thing seems to be going exactly right in financial, social, political, or other worldly things for one, someone will say, "He surely must be living right." He might indeed be, but this is no indication of that. Compare the rich man and Lazarus, of whom Jesus spoke in Luke 16:19-31. It is readily seen that we have neither the ability nor the right to make either judgment.


(Verses 6 through 9) "He spake also this parable; a certain man had a fig tree planted in his vineyard; and he came and sought fruit thereon, and found none. Then said he unto the dresser of his vineyard, Behold, these three years I come seeking fruit on this fig tree, and find none: cut it down; why cumbereth it the ground? And he answering said unto him, Lord, let it alone this year also, till I shall dig about it, and dung it: and if it bear fruit, well: and if not, then after that thou shalt cut it down."


This parable, though entirely different from that in Matthew 21: 33-41, is addressing the same general lesson. There the husbandmen were the culprits, while here it is the fig tree that yields no fruit. There the lord of the vineyard showed his patience by sending messenger after messenger, and, finally, his own son. Here he endures three fruitless years, and in mercy grants one more season of cultivating and fertilizing the tree, after which, if the tree is still fruitless, it will be cut down. In both parables the lesson is that the kingdom of God is to be taken from the Jews, because of their unbelief and unfruitfulness. They are to be cut down, or cut off. Later the Apostle Paul tells us that, even so, the same thing shall be done to the Gentiles, and the Jews, though broken off, shall be grafted in again.


(Verses 10 through 13) "And He was teaching in one of the synagogues on the Sabbath. And, behold, there was a woman which had a spirit of infirmity eighteen years, and was bowed together, and could in no wise lift up herself. And when Jesus saw her, He called her to Him, and said unto her, Woman, thou art loosed from thine infirmity. And He laid His hands on her: and immediately she was made straight, and glorified God."


Surely this needs no explanation; but we can hardly pass without notice the difference between the attitude of this woman who glorified God for this wonderful work, and that of the ruler of the synagogue, as shown in the next verse.


(Verse 14) "And the ruler of the synagogue answered with indignation, because that Jesus had healed on the Sabbath day, and said unto the people, There are six days in which men ought to work: in them therefore come and be healed, and not on the Sabbath day."


Some might applaud this man's idea, that people should come to be healed only on the "work days" of the week, and not on the Sabbath; but the great error here was this man's unbelief, which prompted such an answer in the first place. He believed that Jesus was only a man, though with the gift of healing, and he did not believe Him to be "God with us." Had he so believed, he would have recognized that when God works, man is not to question the time or the place, but praise and glorify Him for His goodness and mercy, whether it be on the Sabbath day, or in the middle of the week.


(Verses 15 through 17) "The Lord answered him, and said, Thou hypocrite, doth not each one of you on the Sabbath loose his ox or his ass from the stall, and lead him away to watering? And ought not this woman, being a daughter of Abraham, whom Satan hath bound, lo, these eighteen years, be loosed from this bond on the Sabbath day? And when He had said these things, all His adversaries were ashamed: and all the people rejoiced for all the glorious things that were done by Him."


It is amazing how easy it is for us to gloss over the things we do with the statement, "It had to be done," while at the same time criticizing someone else for doing something that may be of far more importance. This ruler of the synagogue was just like all the rest of the people: he had either an ox or an ass, which he used for his work animal. He would not think of going out and harnessing him up to work on the Sabbath day; but it would be inhumane to keep him penned up in the stall without water even on the Sabbath day. So he would loose him, and lead him to some place where there was water for him, and then lead him back to the stall, excusing this work on the grounds that it was an absolute necessity. Nevertheless, he was much incensed because Jesus had spoken to this woman, and laid His hands upon her, thereby releasing her from a bond in which she had been held for eighteen years; and she was a daughter of Abraham, not a beast of burden. So Jesus rebuked the ruler for his hypocrisy, and put him and all the other adversaries to shame. When Luke says, "all His adversaries were ashamed," it does not mean that they were ashamed of what they had said and done, but that they found themselves put to shame before the people. At this "the people rejoiced for all the glorious things done by Him."


(Verses 18 through 21) "Then said He, Unto what is the kingdom of God like? and whereunto shall I resemble it? It is like a grain of mustard seed, which a man took and cast into his garden; and it grew, and waxed into a great tree; and the fowls of the air lodged in the branches of it. And again He said, Whereunto shall I liken the kingdom of God ? It is like leaven which a woman took and hid in three measures of meal, till the whole was leavened."


Men have raised many great arguments about both these parables, all because they have tried to read into them more than they contain. In the first parable we find a question and an answer. The question is, "Unto what is the kingdom of God like?" Then He repeats the question in slightly different words in the second. This is the only question involved. The answer is just as simple. "It is like a grain of mustard seed, which a man took and cast into his garden." The mustard of which He speaks is not that which we are accustomed to use as a "salad green," but the Oriental mustard which has a smaller seed than ours, and grows to a height of from eight to ten feet, putting out branches in which the birds may indeed lodge. Here is where the great controversy begins. Someone thinking himself "wise above that which is written," sets in to "spiritualize" these "fowls of the air," about which not one word of scripture can ever be found, except that they can lodge in the branches of this mustard; and this is only said to show how large a plant it will grow into, from so small a seed. Since the kingdom of God is like this mustard seed, which from so small a beginning grows into so large a plant, the lesson has to be that the kingdom of God , from the minute beginning it showed to be at that time, would grow into such a great kingdom as it will be in its time of eternal glory. That is the entire lesson of the parable. That which causes so much argument is not even hinted at in this parable.


The second parable is just as simple, if we maintain strict observance of what is said, instead of going off on the tangent of men's imaginations. To begin it, we have the same question as before, "Whereunto shall I liken the kingdom of God ?" The answer is also simple, "It is like leaven, which a woman took and hid in three measures of meal, till the whole was leavened." Practically every commentary one may read concerning this, although quoting this scripture as above, turns it completely around when making a discussion of it. In them it is discussed as if it said, "The kingdom of God is like unto three measures of meal, in which a woman hid leaven till the whole was leavened," and therein comes up their great argument. They set up two arguments, neither of which has any basis in fact. First of all, they say, "Leaven always represents evil." This cannot be proved by scripture. When "leaven is used to represent evil, it is accompanied by identifying words, such as, the "leaven of the scribes and Pharisees," the "leaven of malice and wickedness," the "leaven of hypocrisy," etc. Here it is free of such identification. Not only so, but the Lord says, "It (the kingdom of God ) is like unto leaven." So let us remember that the kingdom of God is like the leaven, and not like the meal. The next argument they raise is, "A woman used in a bad ethnic sense, or out of place, always signifies something evil." Two points should here be remembered. First, the woman is not said by our Lord to represent anything; certainly not the kingdom of God . Second, since putting leaven into meal is a basic part of the act of making bread, and the making of bread is part of the woman's ordinary work, how can it be said that here she is out of place, or is used in a bad ethnic sense? Some have indeed tried to properly interpret this parable, but have made the mistake of trying to extend it too far. Though the spreading of the leaven through the whole of the meal does show the spreading of the kingdom of God throughout the world, it is by no means to be construed as that every person in the world will be saved or converted to the gospel. It does show that the kingdom will spread through every nation of the world, thus reaching every one of God's elect in all the world, and also that the gospel shall be preached in every nation. There is also in this the promise that when the great smiting stone of Daniel 2:44 -45 "shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and shall stand forever," the kingdom of God shall indeed cover the entire world. Let us hold, not to what "wise men" imagine the scriptures ought to say, but to the very word itself.


(Verses 22 through 30) "And he went through the cities and villages, teaching, and journeying toward Jerusalem . Then said one unto Him, Lord are there few that be saved? And he said unto them, Strive to enter in at the strait gate: for many, I say unto you, will seek to enter in, and shall not be able. When once the Master of the house is risen up, and hath shut to the door, and ye begin to stand without, and to knock at the door, saying, Lord, Lord, open unto us; and he shall say unto you, I know ye not whence ye are: then shall ye begin to say, We have eaten and drunk in Thy presence, and Thou hast taught in our streets. But He shall say, I tell you, I know ye not whence ye are; depart from Me, all ye workers of iniquity. There shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth, when ye shall see Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, and all the prophets, in the kingdom of God, and you yourselves thrust out. And they shall come from the east, and from the west, and from the north, and from the south, and shall sit down in the kingdom of God . And, behold, there are last which shall be first, and there are first which shall be last."


This is another very controversial portion of our Lord's teachings. Although there may be many variations, there seem to be two principal schools of thought concerning it. Both seem to have some merit, and yet both leave some points a little confused, in spite of, or, possibly, because of, the great amount of arguing that has been done about them. One line of doctrine concerning it takes the question asked by one in the crowd as the basis for the whole address. That question is, "Lord, are there few that be saved?" Certainly it appears, as we read the account, that this is exactly what is being answered by the whole speech. That being the case, we then have to consider what that person meant by "be saved." Although Luke has not, up to this point, recorded such parables as The Wheat And The Tares, or The Net Cast Into The Sea, and has not recorded some of the teachings which John records our Lord as having taught before this time, it is certain that the one who asked the question was considering "being saved" as equivalent to "having eternal life," or "being part of the kingdom of God." The answer Jesus gave him was not a direct "Yes," or "No." Indeed such an answer is none of our business. The answer He did give is one that, when put into practice, gives assurance that we are saved, or that we do have eternal life, "Strive to enter in at the strait gate." Thus He advises this one exactly as the Apostle Peter, "Wherefore, the rather, brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure," that is, strive for the assurance that you are one of those who are saved, and do not worry about how many there will be. The Lord will take care of that matter. Jesus continues by telling him that there will be a day when the Master of the house rises up, and shuts the door. Then there will be those who will stand outside the door, knocking and demanding entrance, on only the basis of having "eaten and drunk" in His presence. Remember that this is in keeping with what He said on another occasion, "Verily, verily, I say unto you, Ye seek Me, not because ye saw the miracles, but because ye did eat of the loaves, and were filled." (John 6:26). They will also claim that He has taught in their streets. With their having no closer relation to him than this, He will say to them, "I tell you, I know ye not whence ye are; depart from Me, all ye workers of iniquity." This will be a time of great sorrow and anger on their part, as indicated by His saying, "There shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth." This will take place when they shall see the gathering together of the patriarchs and the prophets in the kingdom of God , and themselves thrust out of it. They have all this time put so much store upon their being the descendants of the patriarchs, that when they shall see them in the kingdom of God , and themselves shut out, there will be much weeping and gnashing of teeth. The word order is such that it is not clear whether or not they shall be able to see those who come from the east, west, north, and south, but those will come, and be at rest ("sit down") in the kingdom of God. Not only so, but some who are now esteemed to be first, shall be last; and some who are counted as last, shall be first.


The other school of thought on this tries to consider this only as the establishing of the gospel church, and the cutting off of the Jews in their unbelief. As said before, this seems to have some merit; but it leaves too much unanswered. First, it completely ignores the question which triggered the whole address; and, second, it tries to establish that the unbelieving Jews can see the patriarchs and prophets in this phase of the kingdom of God, which they cannot do because of their being blinded to it by their unbelief. Then it all supposes these same Jews to be knocking on the door of the gospel church, and trying to get into it, which they definitely are not: for they want no part of it. So, although the other line of thought concerning this matter may leave a few things not quite clear, this side leaves far more unanswered.


(Verses 31 through 33) "The same day there came certain of the Pharisees, saying unto Him, Get Thee out, and depart hence: for Herod will kill Thee. And He said unto them, Go ye, and tell that fox, Behold, I cast out devils, and I do cures today and tomorrow, and the third day I shall be perfected. Nevertheless, I must walk today and tomorrow, and the day following: for it cannot be that a prophet perish out of Jerusalem ."


When these Pharisees told Jesus that Herod would kill Him, He told them to go and tell him that He had three more days, today, tomorrow, and the next day, in which He would continue His work of healing and casting out devils. On that third day He would be "perfected," that is, He would have finished that part of His work. At the same time, He must walk all three days, as He was that far from Jerusalem ; and "It cannot be that a prophet perish out of Jerusalem ."


(Verses 34 and 35) "O Jerusalem, Jerusalem , which killest the prophets, and stonest them that are sent unto thee: how oft would I have gathered thy children together, as a hen doth gather her brood under her wings, and ye would not. Behold, your house is left unto you desolate: and verily I say unto you, Ye shall not see Me, until the time come when ye shall say, Blessed is He that cometh in the name of the Lord."


The religious world today tries to interpret this as the cry of sorrow and disappointment of a helpless "would be savior," facing rejection by a Jerusalem which he had tried to save, but could not. How degrading to the Lord, Who created heaven, earth, and all the fullness of both! Consider what He said just before this, and what He says here. He has just declared that He must walk for three days to meet His appointment with death at Jerusalem , to fill up Jerusalem 's score as the place where prophets perish. Now He says that there have been many times in Jerusalem 's history in which He would have gathered together "her children," but Jerusalem has always been so rebellious that He did not do so. Now she must drink to the dregs the cup she has filled for herself. Her house is left desolate. There is nothing worthwhile there. She therefore shall see Him no more, until He has brought her to repentance, and she says, "Blessed is He that cometh in the name of the Lord." This is the decree of the omnipotent Judge, not the disappointed cry of a "would be savior."



Chapter 14

(Verses 1 through 6) "And it came to pass, as He went into the house of one of the chief Pharisees to eat bread on the Sabbath day, that they watched Him. And, behold, there was a certain man before Him which had the dropsy. and Jesus answering spake unto the lawyers and Pharisees, saying, Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath day? and they held their peace. And He took him, and healed him, and let him go. And answered them, saying, Which of you shall have an ass or an ox fallen into a pit, and will not straightway pull him out on the Sabbath day? And they could not answer Him again to these things."


As always, the lawyers and Pharisees were hunting every opportunity to bring some accusation against Jesus; but in this case He left them no room to make any criticism. He first asked their opinion of whether or not it was lawful to heal on the Sabbath day; and when they refused to answer, He answered for them in a manner that left them with nothing to say.


(Verses 7 through 11) "And He put forth a parable to those which were bidden, when He marked how they chose out the chief rooms; saying unto them, When thou art bidden of any man to a wedding, sit not down in the highest room; lest a more honourable man than thou be bidden of him; and he that bade thee and him come and say to thee, Give this man place; and thou begin with shame to take the lowest room. But when thou art bidden, go and sit down in the lowest room; that when he that bade thee cometh, he may say unto thee, Friend, go up higher: then shalt thou have worship in the presence of them that sit at meat with thee. For whosoever exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted."


Possibly, the only thing in need of explanation here is that "room" or "rooms," as used here has no reference to a room of a house, as we commonly use it, but rather to positions at the banquet table. A certain protocol was observed in such things, so that positions were graduated from the person of lowest degree up to the one of greatest importance. The whole lesson comes out in verse 11, "For whosoever exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted. This principle is true in all things, not only in going to weddings, or to feasts.


(Verses 12 through 14) "Then said He also to him that bade him, When thou makest a dinner or a supper, call not thy friends, nor thy brethren, neither thy kinsmen, nor thy neighbors; lest they also bid thee again, and a recompence be made thee. But when thou makest a feast, call the poor, the maimed, the lame, the blind: and thou shalt be blessed, for they cannot recompense thee: for thou shalt be recompensed at the resurrection of the just."


This also is a saying which should give us no difficulty in understanding; but we should notice that this can, and should be, applied to far more than just the making of a feast and inviting guests thereunto. We should make it our habit to do for those in need more than for those who are able to repay us in kind. There is nothing wrong in helping a friend, a brother, a kinsman, or a neighbor, to do any worthwhile work even though he may be fully able to repay us; but our greatest effort should be set forth to help those who have nothing with which to make a recompense. If we have been blessed with the spirit and attitude that make us act thus, there is a recompense for us. Sometimes we hear well meaning, but poorly informed Christians say, "All the rewards we will ever receive are here in this life: everything we shall receive in eternity is a free gift by the grace of God, and cannot be called a reward." A little study of the two words, as defined in the dictionary, will convince anyone that "recompense" and "reward" are synonyms, meaning exactly the same thing; and Jesus said, "For thou shalt be recompensed at the resurrection of the just." Whose word will you believe? His, or that of men?


(Verses 15 through 24) "And when one of them that sat at meat with Him heard these things, he said unto Him, Blessed is he that shall eat bread in the kingdom of God . Then said He unto him, A certain man made a great supper, and bade many: and sent his servant at supper time to say to them that were bidden, Come; for all things are now ready. And they all with one consent began to make excuse. The first said unto him, I have bought a piece of ground, and I must needs go and see it: I pray thee, have me excused. And another said, I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I go to prove them: I pray thee, have me excused. And another said, I have married a wife, and therefore I cannot come. So that servant came, and shewed his lord these things. Then the master of the house being angry said to his servant, Go out quickly into the streets and lanes of the city, and bring in hither the poor, and the maimed, and the halt, and the blind. And the servant said, Lord, it is done as thou hast commanded, and yet there is room. And the lord said unto the servant, Go out into the highways and the hedges, and compel them to come in, that my house may be filled. For I say unto you, That none of those men which were bidden shall taste of my supper."


There can be no doubt that this is the same parable recorded in Matthew 22:2-14, although the wording is slightly different in the two accounts. In Matthew's account, this supper is given by a king, as the marriage supper for his son. It also extends beyond the end of Luke's recording by the addition of five verses (Matthew 22:10 -14). See comments on Matthew 22:2-14. Also in the last part of the parable, as Matthew records it, we find, "And when the king came in to see the guests, he saw there a man which had not on a wedding garment. And he saith unto him, Friend, how camest thou hither not having a wedding garment? And he was speechless. Then said the king to his servants, Bind him hand and foot, and take him away, and cast him into outer darkness; there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth. For many be called, but few chosen." (Matthew 22:11-14). However, since at this point, we are considering Luke's account of this, we shall only go as far as he goes with it. The first part of this parable, though using different symbols, teaches the same lesson as the parable of the vineyard in Luke 20:9-16, the failure of the Jewish leaders to render proper worship and service to God, and His subsequent cutting them off in unbelief, "He shall come and destroy these husbandmen, and shall give the vineyard to others." (Luke 20:16). Those who were bidden to the feast, obviously, are the Jewish leaders, priests, and scribes. But when John the Baptist came announcing that all things were ready, (preaching, "Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand,") they wanted no part of it; and the same was true when Jesus began to preach the same message. So the message was given to "the poor, and the maimed, and the halt, and the blind," in the streets and lanes of the city. That is, "the lost sheep of the house of Israel ," unto whom Jesus declared that He was sent, and to whom He sent His disciples before His crucifixion. After His resurrection He said to His disciples, "Go ye into all the world," the "highways and the hedges," outside the city. Let no one think even for a moment that this was a change in God's plan. It was a change of only His providential dealing with men. During the law dispensation, although God had the power, and at His discretion used it, to call Gentiles, and reveal Himself to them, He did not give to them the benefit of the fellowship of His established manner of worship; and neither were there great multitudes of them called. Now God has, in His manner of providential dealings with men, turned from the Jews, although He still calls a few of them, and is calling out His people from among the Gentiles, according to His eternal purpose. One word, which may seem to pose a problem to some, is "compel." Although the Greek word thus translated can mean "compel," in the sense of using actual force, it also means "urge, or strongly advise," and its usage here certainly indicates that it is to be considered as "urge." So "the servant" answers to the gospel, the preached word, which is sent forth throughout the world, ("into the highways and the hedges,") to urge them to come in. This is continuing today, and will continue until the return of our Lord Jesus.


(Verses 25 through 33) "And there went great multitudes with him: and He turned, and said unto them, If any man come to Me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be My disciple. And whosoever doth not bear his cross, and come after Me, cannot be My disciple. For which of you, intending to build a tower, sitteth not down first, and counteth the cost, whether he have sufficient to finish it?  Lest haply, after he hath laid the foundation, and is not able to finish it, all that behold it began to mock him, saying, This man began to build, and was not able to finish.  Or what king, going to make war against another king, sitteth not down first, and consulteth whether he be able with ten thousand to meet him that cometh with twenty thousand? Or else, while the other is yet a great way off, he sendeth an ambassage, and desireth conditions of peace. So likewise, whosoever he be of you that forsaketh not all that he hath, he cannot be My disciple."


We hear many today urging people to come, and follow Jesus, that is, be His disciples, which is a very commendable thing to do; but there seem to be few that will attempt to tell people the cost of discipleship. While it is true that the Apostle Paul made a statement in 2 Corinthians 4:17 -18 which does, and should thrill the soul of every sincere believer in our Lord Jesus the Christ, it does not rule out there being a cost to discipleship. Jesus not only tells what the cost is, but also advises every man who thinks of following Him to take time to consider it. He uses two illustrations of this. One is that of a man who intends to build a tower (and the same would apply to any other structure he might desire to build). The first thing he will do is to sit down and compute the cost of it. If he doesn't, he may get no more done than laying the foundation of it. In such a case, he will be ridiculed by everyone who passes by, because he started something he could not finish. The other illustration is that of a king who is on the verge of war with another king. If he doesn't count the cost, he may find his whole country overrun and he may be completely removed from being king. So his best policy is to determine before hand whether or not he has the resources to win the war; and if not, his next best move is to find out what is the price of peace. Jesus names all of those closest to a man, and says that, one must hate all of them in order to be His disciple. "Hate," in this usage does not mean that one should hate them in the sense of wanting to murder them, or to do them some other violence; but that, whatever feeling he may have for them must be as hate when compared to his love of the Lord. As spelled out in verse 33, being a disciple of the Christ will cost a man everything that he has. "So likewise, whosoever he be of you that forsaketh not all that he hath, he cannot be My disciple." Verse 17 adds one more thing that must be done to achieve discipleship. "And whosoever doth not bear his cross, and come after Me, cannot be My disciple." Men have so "watered down" the "cross" we must take that, perhaps, few today even know what it means. In the first place, "bear his cross" refers to the Roman practice of having a man who has been condemned to crucifixion, to take up his cross at the place of judgment, and bear it to the place of execution. In this act, he testified to the world that he was under the sentence of death, and, in effect, dead, having no more participation in worldly business or pleasures, and no more ties to the world. Thus as the disciple bears his cross, he testifies the same message to the world, simply that he is dead to it. So the real conclusion of the matter is, Discipleship of the Christ will cost you the world. Are you ready to be His disciple?


(Verses 34 and 35) "Salt is good: but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be seasoned? It is neither fit for the land, nor yet for the dunghill; but men cast it out. He that hath ears to hear, let him hear."


This illustration is several times recorded in the four gospel records, and was, perhaps, used many times by our Lord, since it is recorded as linked with different other sayings of His. In the present context, it seems obvious that His meaning is that discipleship is a good thing. But he that counts not the cost, but sets out to be a disciple, and finds himself unable to go all the way, is like the salt which has lost its savor, or taste. There is no way to season the salt again; and there is no way to bring the man again to discipleship. Both are henceforth good for nothing. Just as the salt, if put on the land, that is, in the field, it will cause barrenness where used; (and if it is put in the dunghill, the result is the same, since the contents of the dunghill are ultimately to be used on the land;) in like manner the apostate disciple will be an influence for evil wherever he is. Jesus concludes this with, "He that hath ears to hear, let him hear," clearly signifying that this discussion of the salt is to be applied to the foregoing subject.



Chapter 15

(Verses 1 through 7) "Then drew near unto Him all the publicans and sinners for to hear Him. And the Pharisees and scribes murmured, saying, This man receiveth sinners, and eateth with them. And he spake this parable unto them, saying, What man of you, having an hundred sheep, if he lose one of them, doth not leave the ninety and nine in the wilderness, and go after that which was lost, until he hath found it? And when he hath found it, he layeth it on his shoulders, rejoicing. And when he cometh home, he calleth together his friends and neighbors, saying unto them, Rejoice with me; for I have found my sheep which was lost. I say unto you, that likewise joy shall be in heaven over one sinner that repenteth, more than over ninety and nine just persons, which need no repentance."


The thing of importance in this text is not verses 1 and 2, which tell us what we would expect anyway. The parable Jesus sets forth is the important lesson; and its wording is the most overlooked of all the lessons Jesus taught. In Matthew's account of this parable, he left off one phrase, used by Luke; and it is the one, which establishes the part, which is so often overlooked. Songs have been written, and many sermons have been preached about "the ninety and nine, that safely lay in the shelter of the fold," while there is no expression in scripture to give credence to such. Although Matthew does not say specifically where the ninety and nine were left, Luke is very specific concerning this. He says, "What man of you, having an hundred sheep, if he lose one of them, doth not LEAVE THE NINETY AND NINE IN THE WILDERNESS, and go after that which was lost, until he find it?" This one question, coupled with the circumstances under which it was asked, establishes the fact that this parable is concerning the participants in the scene, described in verses 1 and 2. Without question, the sheep "which is lost" is the "publicans and sinners" of verses 1 and 2, while "the ninety and nine" are, just as clearly, "the Pharisees and scribes," of the same text. With these two symbols thus confirmed, there is only one left: that is the shepherd, or owner of the sheep, which can surely be no other than our Lord Himself. Since the scriptures teach that all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God, there can be no doubt that the ninety and nine are sinners also, and that Jesus, when, in the last part of this parable, he says, "ninety and nine just persons, which need no repentance," is speaking of them as they think they are, and not as they really are. Therefore, in keeping with His declaration on other occasions, "I am come not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance," he says that they are left "in the wilderness," which, certainly, has to be the wilderness of sin. One of the most beautiful thoughts in this passage is what He says of the shepherd, he will "go after that which is lost, until he find it. And when he hath found it, he layeth it on his shoulders, rejoicing." Since we have already established that this shepherd is our Lord, we must apply all the action of the shepherd to Him. Two points here are extremely important. First, He will never let up, or abandon search, until He has found the lost sheep; and, second, when He finds it, He will not lead the way, and call upon the sheep to follow Him, and neither will He put the sheep before Him and attempt to drive it home. Instead, He will pick it up, place it on His own shoulders, and carry it home. How can it fail to reach home, under these conditions? "And when He cometh home, He calleth together His friends and neighbors, saying, Rejoice with Me; for I have found My sheep which was lost. I say unto you, that likewise joy shall be in heaven over one sinner that repenteth, more than over ninety and nine just persons, which need no repentance." Many will immediately say that, when He says, "likewise joy shall be in heaven _ _ _," He means "joy shall be in the church." This is utterly absurd, unless the word, "church," is used to mean the eternal kingdom of God , and not the gospel church. Even then it is not quite right: for the present text seems more to indicate the joy of the angels of God in heaven, as they see the shedding forth of the grace of God. The idea that the expression does mean the gospel church has caused much unnecessary argument in the past ages, concerning the phrases, "the kingdom of God ," and "the kingdom of heaven." A close study of the scriptures will show that both phrases are one and the same, the eternal kingdom of God, which He purposed in eternity, before the world began, has developed through time, and will continue to develop, until the return of our Lord Jesus, and will be manifested in all its glory in eternity, after the world is destroyed. Every child of God is a member of this kingdom, but all are living in a foreign land as long as they are in this world. The law dispensation and the gospel dispensation are only two different "patterns of embassies," used of God for the protection and comfort of His people while they are in this foreign country. The law service, "the old embassy," is no longer in use. God has authorized "the new embassy," the gospel church; but both are only embassies, and not the kingdom itself. Almost all major countries maintain embassies in nearly all other major countries. These embassies and certain grounds pertaining to them are considered the property, not of the country in which they are, but of the country whose ambassador is stationed there with his staff. Thus it is that the church, both under the law and under the gospel, is God's embassy in the world, but they, though belonging to God's kingdom, are not the whole kingdom. Jesus says that when He brings that lost sheep home, there is rejoicing in heaven, and "heaven" is exactly what He meant.


(Verses 8 through 10) "Either what woman having ten pieces of silver, if she lose one piece, doth not light a candle, and sweep the house, and seek diligently till she find it? And when she hath found it, she calleth her friends and neighbors together, saying, Rejoice with me, for I have found the piece which I had lost. Likewise, I say unto you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner that repenteth."


The principal difference between this parable and that of the lost sheep is that, this one makes no reference to the self-righteous Pharisees and scribes. It focuses only upon the care and diligence of God that every one of His "lost coins" shall be found. None will remain lost, but every one will be finally brought in, to the great joy of the angels of God.


Verses 11 through 32 are all one parable, and because of its great length we shall not quote all of it, but refer the reader to the Bible itself for that, The story is that of two sons of a man. One of them was a wayward type of person, who decided that home was too confining upon him; and he went to his father, and asked that he give him whatever his part of the inheritance might be, which his father did. He then, not only left home, but went off into a foreign land ("a far country"). There, as long as his money held out, he indulged himself in riotous living. When he became bankrupt, the only job he could find was very demeaning, and of very low pay. Finally, as his thoughts went back to the home he had left, he was brought to the realization that, even the servants of his father were better off that he; so he determined to go back to his father, apologize to him, and try to get a job as a hired servant of his father. Upon his return he was lovingly received by his father, who made a great feast for him, and celebrated his return with a homecoming party. At this his brother was highly incensed, and would have nothing to do with him or any of the celebration.


From various points in this parable many beautiful lessons can be drawn, but the overall teaching of the parable is that, "the publicans and sinners," represented by the younger son, though they have wasted their lives with riotous living, and have thereby been reduced to the poverty of even being ready to eat the husks wherewith they have been feeding the swine of Satan, have been brought to their senses, and given repentance at the preaching of John the Baptist and our Lord Jesus. At the same time, the Pharisees and scribes, represented by the elder son, say, "Lo, these many years do I serve Thee, neither transgressed I at any time thy commandments." They are the same as the sheep, which were left in the wilderness, in the earlier parable. It angered them to see Jesus receive sinners, and eat with them, as in verse 2. Jesus said to them on one occasion, "Verily I say unto you, that the publicans and the harlots go into the kingdom of God before you. For John came unto you in the way of righteousness, and ye believed him not: but the publicans and harlots believed him: and ye, when ye had seen it, repented not afterward, that ye might believe him." (Matthew 21:31-32). In the parable, there is no indication that the elder son ever repented, and went in to the feast: neither is there any scriptural evidence that the scribes and Pharisees ever repented, nor is there any indication today that they have, although there were a few of them, in our Lord's time on earth, and, perhaps, a few from time to time after that, that have been brought to repentance. The ones who did not repent are the ones represented by the "elder son." Lest we think that they were the only ones who could ever answer to this description, we must constantly examine ourselves, and strive against becoming enwrapped in their self-righteous attitudes, and thus be partakers of their judgment.


Chapter 16

Here again we have a parable, which is quite lengthy, and for the details of which, we recommend a close reading of verses 1 through 12, rather than our quoting it verse by verse. In general, the picture is that of an unjust, or dishonest, steward. His master had become aware of his dishonesty, and demanded of him an audit of his affairs, before removing him from the stewardship. This steward was ashamed to beg, and thought himself too good to work at any menial task. Therefore, to put his master's debtors under obligation to himself, so that, perhaps, he could make them support him, when he was removed from office, he called them in, one by one, and altered the books to reflect a lesser debt than what they actually owed. Verse 8 tells us, "And the lord commended the unjust steward, because the children of this world are in their generation wiser than the children of light." The first thing we want to bring to attention here is, "the lord" here has no reference to God in either Person, Father, Son, or Holy Spirit, but to the lord, or master, of that steward. The next point of importance is, that a better translation of "in their generation" is "among their kind:" for the Greek word "genea," translated "generation," means "men of like characteristics." It is not completely clear whether his master knew what he had done, and was commending him for the wisdom of such action, or whether because of this his master thought he had done wisely in holding down the amount of indebtedness of the debtors. In either case, the result is the same: the master thought the dishonest steward had done wisely. Others of like mind and characteristics consider such people as much wiser than the children of light, who maintain that we should follow the truth and honesty, even if they may bring unpleasant results to us. Verse 9 says, "And I say unto you, Make to yourselves friends of the mammon of unrighteousness; that when ye fail, they may receive you into everlasting habitations." Before commenting on this verse, let us consider another commandment Jesus spoke to his disciples, "Take heed therefore how ye hear: for whosoever hath, to him shall be given; and whosoever hath not, from him shall be taken even that which he seemeth to have." (Luke 8:18). With this background, it is obvious that the ones Jesus is addressing in verse 9 are those who have not, and from whom shall be taken even that which they seem to have: for He does not say, "If ye fail," but "when ye fail," signifying that they, just as this dishonest steward, will be put out of the office which they think they have. Since to those who have shall be given, no true servant will be permitted to fail; but all pretenders will fail. Therefore to the pretenders who set forth as servants, "Make to yourselves friends of the mammon of unrighteousness; that when ye fail, they may receive you into everlasting habitations."


(Verses 10 through 12) "He that is faithful in that which is least is faithful also in much: and he that is unjust in the least is unjust also in much. If therefore ye have not been faithful in the unrighteous mammon, who will commit to your trust the true riches? And if ye have not been faithful in that which is another man's, who shall give you that which is your own?"


This is surely not a difficult passage. It is, more than anything else, a conclusion drawn from the foregoing illustration. Honesty, or dishonesty, does not depend upon the value of that with which one deals, but upon the character of the person himself. If he can really be trusted with small things, he will also be trustworthy with greater ones. The converse is also true. If he cannot be trusted with the one, neither can he be trusted with the other. Faithfulness is not something, which applies only to spiritual things, but must also apply to worldly things. If one desires people to have confidence in him concerning the things of God, "the true riches," he must show himself faithful in whatever worldly wealth he may deal with. If he works for another, and is found unfaithful, how can he expect to receive anything of his own?


(Verse 13) "No servant can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon."


This entire verse is summed up in the last sentence, "Ye cannot serve God and mammon." The only explanation needed of this verse is the simple reminder that, "mammon" is another term for "worldly wealth." The earlier part of this verse is only setting forth the fact that, with two masters as widely different as God and worldly wealth, no servant can love both of them. The word of God declares that God's servants, though called to glory in the world to come, are called to a life of suffering, affliction, and, oftentimes poverty, in the present world. Those who love worldly wealth cannot love this. The wealth of the world calls to "good times" here, but torment later. (See the latter part of this chapter.) So those who love God cannot love this.


(Verses 14 through 18) "And the Pharisees also, who were covetous, heard all these things: and they derided Him. And He said unto them, Ye are they which justify yourselves before men; but God knoweth your hearts: for that which is highly esteemed among men is abomination in the sight of God. The law and the prophets were until John: since that time the kingdom of God is preached, and every man presseth into it. And it is easier for heaven and earth to pass, than one tittle of the law to fail. Whosoever putteth away his wife, and marrieth another, committeth adultery: and whosoever marrieth her that is put away from her husband, committeth adultery."


As always, the Pharisees were looking for an excuse to ridicule the teaching of the Lord. So when He told them that they could not serve God and, at the same time, be seeking and grasping for worldly wealth, they derided Him. Verse 15 has no need for explanation. In it Jesus is simply rebuking the Pharisees for trying to make themselves look good before men, while the very things which men highly esteem are abomination before God. He then tells them that, "the law and the prophets" have served their time. They were until John; but now are to be set aside, because now the kingdom of God is preached. When He says, "and every man presseth into it," it is not to be thought that this wording is absolute, that is, that it means that no one at all is left out, but rather that, the kingdom of God has so much greater appeal to men than does the old law service that multitudes of the people have been striving to hear, and find out more about it. They are turning away from the old traditions and turning to the kingdom of God . His next statement, at first glance, may appear irrelevant, but this is not the case. Although the emphasis has shifted from "the law and the prophets" to "the kingdom of God ," this does not mean that the law itself is made void. These Pharisees claimed to uphold the law of God. Therefore He said to them that, they must keep it all. "It is easier for heaven and earth to pass, than for one tittle of the law to fail." The "tittle" to which He refers, are the little diacritical marks, or points, by which one Hebrew letter that otherwise is similar to another, is distinguished from it. Thus the most minute point of the law cannot be disregarded. Then He makes a declaration of the law much older than that given by Moses. It is based upon Genesis 2:23-24; and His manner of stating it left no room for "extenuating circumstances," and leaves no need for explanation. "Whosoever putteth away (divorces) his wife, and marrieth another committeth adultery: and whosoever marrieth her that is put away from her husband committeth adultery."


The remainder of this chapter gives us the story of two men: one, a rich man; and the other, a beggar. Luke gives the story in very clear detail, so we shall not quote all of it. Men have argued about whether or not this should be called a parable; and, technically, it probably should not: because it is not used as an illustration, or likeness of anything else; but it is a simple straightforward account of the final end of these two men. The name of the rich man is not given, although men often refer to him as "Dives," because that is the Latin word, which means "rich." The poor beggar's name was Lazarus. Apparently, the rich man was so caught up in his own pleasures that he was not even aware of Lazarus, who lay at his gate, covered with sores, and begging to be fed with the crumbs which fell from the rich man's table. Lazarus, apparently, had no friends, and could not even keep the dogs driven away: for they came and licked his sores. How long this condition existed we do not know, but finally Lazarus "died, and was carried by angels to Abraham's bosom." In the Jewish manner of speaking, this is the equivalent of being carried to heaven: for that is their concept of the matter. "The rich man also died, and was buried; and in hell he lift up his eyes, being in torments, and seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom." Neither at this point, nor anywhere else in this account is anything said about Lazarus as seeing the rich man, or even being aware of his plight. But the rich man is described as being very much aware of the joy of Lazarus. All of this seems to indicate that in glory the souls of the righteous will be shielded from even the knowledge of the torment of the wicked; but the wicked will be acutely aware of the joy of the righteous.


(Verses 24 through 26) "And he cried, Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water, and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame. But Abraham said, Son, remember that thou in thy lifetime received thy good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things: but now he is comforted, and thou art tormented. And beside all this, between us and you there is a great gulf fixed: so that they which would pass from hence to you cannot; neither can they pass to us, that would come from thence."


Back in verse 23 we were told concerning the rich man, "And in hell he lift up his eyes." The word here translated "hell" is "Hades." Hades was considered by the Jews, as well as by many other ancient peoples, the place of abode of departed spirits. It is therefore obvious from this account, that immediately upon the death of the righteous, their souls enter into joy in the presence of the Lord, likewise the wicked enter immediately into torment, both awaiting their proper resurrections, and reunion to their bodies. That the wicked will be tormented by fire is here clearly shown. Upon receiving this punishment, the rich man cried to Abraham for mercy. This answers to the wicked, as they cry to God for mercy, after they are made to know their doom. The first thing the rich man wanted was a little relief from the torment of the flame, even for Lazarus to come, and "dip the tip of his finger in water, and cool" his tongue. This seems like such a little thing; but it can not be done. First, the rich man was reminded that in life he had "good," or pleasant, things, while Lazarus received "evil," or unpleasant, things. Now their roles are reversed: he is tormented, and Lazarus is comforted. Not only so, but there is a great chasm which separates the two places, so that there can be no passing from one to the other.


(Verses 27 through 31) "Then he said, I pray thee therefore, father, that thou wouldst send him to my father's house: for I have five brethren; that he may testify unto them, lest they also come into this place of torment. Abraham saith unto him, They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them. And he said, Nay, father Abraham: but if one went unto them from the dead, they will repent. And he said unto him, If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded, though one rise from the dead."


The lesson in these verses is summed up in verse 31. It is in perfect harmony with what Jesus told the Jews in John 5:46-47, "For had ye believed Moses, ye would have believed Me: for he wrote of Me. But if ye believe not his writings, how shall ye believe My words?" In the present text He prophesies of His death and resurrection, and declares that it will have no effect upon those who do not believe Moses and the prophets, "If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded, though one rose from the dead."


Chapter 17

(Verses 1 and 2) "Then said He unto His disciples, It is impossible but that offences will come: but woe unto him, through whom they come! It were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and he cast into the sea, than that he should offend one of these little ones."


In Matthew 18:7, Jesus said almost the same thing that He says here concerning offenses. There the literal translation is, "Woe unto the world because of offenses. Offenses are compelled to come, but woe to the man by whom the offense comes." Here the meaning is similar. The world being what it is under the curse of sin, offenses are indeed compelled to come; but that does not lessen the responsibility of the one by whom they come. In verse 2, the clause, "than that he should offend one of these little ones," should, properly, read, "than that he should cause one of these little ones to stumble," or "_ _ _ cause one of these little ones to go astray." So one who leads one of God's children astray is under a terrible judgment. He would be better off had he drowned in the sea to prevent his leading them astray rather than being allowed to do so.


(Verses 3 and 4) "Take heed to yourselves: If thy brother trespass against thee, rebuke him; and if he repent, forgive him. And if he trespass against thee seven times in a day, and seven times in a day turn again to thee, saying, I repent, thou shalt forgive him."


The Greek verb, "epitamao," here translated "rebuke," is very similar in usage to the old English manner of using certain words, in that, it can mean one thing in one context, and its opposite in another. This verb can mean "to give honor to," or "to tax with fault, rate, chide, rebuke, reprove, or censure severely." In the present context, it seems proper to consider it as simply to call, in a gentle manner, the brother's attention to his trespass, since the whole lesson is concerning forgiveness. Therefore when a brother trespasses against us, we are to call it to his attention, gently. If he says he repents, we are to forgive him. Then Jesus says that, if this takes place seven times in one day, we are to forgive the seventh time just as freely as the first. Perhaps, the number seven is not to be taken as an absolute number, but simply as another way of saying, "As often as it takes place:" for on one occasion, Peter asked the Lord, "How oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? till seven times?" The answer Jesus gave was, "I say not unto thee, Until seven times; but until seventy times seven." Although the phrase, "in a day," is not used in that conversation, it might readily apply, since the teaching of Jesus is all founded upon forgiveness, seeing that, His life and death were acts of forgiveness.


(Verses 5 through 10) "And the apostles said unto the Lord, Increase our faith. And the Lord said, If ye had faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye might say unto this sycomine tree, Be thou plucked up by the root, and be thou planted in the sea; and it should obey you. But which of you, having a servant plowing or feeding cattle, will say unto him by and by, when he is come from the field, Go and sit down to meat? And will not rather say unto him, Make ready wherewith I may sup, and gird thyself, and serve me, till I have eaten and drunken; and afterward thou shalt eat and drink? Doth he thank that servant because he did those things that were commanded him? I trow not. So likewise ye, when ye have done all those things which are commanded you, say, We are unprofitable servants: we have done that which was our duty to do.


Surely, someone will ask, "What is the relevance of Jesus' answer to the request made to Him by the apostles?" This we shall try to answer, because, although it may seem elusive, the relevance is there. First, the request is, "Increase our faith," a prayer that we all have, no doubt, many times prayed. Yet, if we do not recognize the answer, how shall we ever know when it is answered? He could simply have said, "Faith be increased," and it would have been so. But that He did not do.


The first thing He did was to tell them what could be accomplished by undoubting and unwavering faith. He uses as His illustration, "the grain of mustard seed," which in another place, He says, "is the least of all seeds," but it will grow into a bush of about eight or ten feet height. This is, of course, the oriental mustard, not the mustard which we have in our gardens. Some will argue that, since the mustard seed is vegetable, it cannot have faith, which, of course, they can neither prove nor disprove. Still the illustration is based, not upon whether or not such an argument can be proved, but upon the fact that such a small seed is never afraid to sprout forth, and grow, when called upon by the elements of nature, no matter what may surround it. This is equivalent to a person who has such faith that, he will immediately set forth to do whatever the Holy Ghost calls upon him to do, without any questions or doubts, and without fear of the consequences. He believes that the One, Whom he serves, is able to do all things, and to enable him to do whatever it is to which He has called him.


In verses 7 through 9, Jesus gives an illustration of the proper position and attitude of, not only the apostles, but also all of His servants, great, or small. He uses the example of a man and his servant. No matter what the master has had his servant working at, when the servant comes to the house from that task, be it at noon , or at the end of the day, the master does not set the servant down at the table, and serve him. Rather, he demands that the servant prepare his meal, and serve him, before the servant is allowed to eat. Even when this is all done, the master does not thank his servant for doing what he has been commanded. This is a situation with which the apostles were well acquainted. It may be that none of them were wealthy enough to own servants themselves; but they had witnessed such as this all their lives. The lesson in this is building up to its climax in verse 10.


"So likewise ye, when ye shall have done all those things which are commanded you, say, we are unprofitable servants: we have done that which was our duty to do." Perhaps, a slight change of the word order in the last clause of this sentence might make this matter a little clearer: "That which we have done was our duty." The emphasis is on the fact that everything we have done, when we have done all that we have been commanded, is no more than our duty, instead of being on our having done all of our duty. Thus, there is no room left for us to expect to be thanked for doing it, just as it is with the servant who, having already worked all day, yet must serve his master before being permitted to refresh himself. The lesson here is that, the more fully we realize that our Lord has already done so much for us, in paying the price of our redemption from sin, that we can never make it up to Him, no matter how closely we follow His commands, the greater will be our dependence upon Him. And this is what faith really is, the confidence in Him that makes one ready to do His commands regardless of the odds against him, and leaving the outcome in His hands, knowing that He is able to bring about His purposed result. Before our faith can ever be strong, we must be brought to the realization that, "civil rights" is a phrase of man's gibberish which means nothing to a Christian. The Christian's only rights are, to do the commands of God, and leave the outcome in His hands. When we reach that position, our faith will have been increased as it ought to be, and not before.


The incident recorded in verses 11 through 19, shows that, sometimes we may be surprised by where faith is found. We do not know exactly where this took place, but it was a village of either Galilee or Samaria . The most notable point of this incident is not that Jesus cleansed ten lepers at the same time: He, had it been the will of God, could have cleansed all the lepers in the world at once. The point which claims our attention is set forth in verses 15 and 16. "And one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, and with a loud voice glorified God, and fell down on his face at His feet, giving Him thanks: and he was a Samaritan." The fact that he is specifically said to be a Samaritan is reason enough to conclude that the other nine were Jews. There is no more said about them, though they, probably, did go to the priest, and follow through with the ritual demanded by the law. This man, however, being a Samaritan, had no access to the priest or the temple, since the Jews had no dealings with the Samaritans. In spite of this, the power of God, in cleansing him, made him to know also from whence it was: so he publicly, and with a loud voice, glorified God, and fell down prostrate at the feet of Jesus to give thanks to Him. Verses 17 through 19 need no explanation. "And Jesus answering said, Were there not ten cleansed? but where are the other nine?  There are not found that returned to give glory to God, save this stranger. And He said unto him, Arise, go thy way: thy faith hath made thee whole."


(Verses 20 and 21) "And when He was demanded of the Pharisees, when the kingdom of God should come, He answered them and said, The kingdom of God cometh not with observation: neither shall they say, Lo, here! or lo, there! for, behold the kingdom of God is within you."


As we see from reading the four gospel records, the Pharisees were always looking for some great sign, visible to the natural eye. Now they demanded of Jesus when this kingdom of God , of which He so often spoke, would come, that is, when would they be able to see the great signs of it. His answer, "The kingdom of God cometh not with observation," simply means that it does not come in a manner visible to the natural eye. (This, of course, has to do only with the present phase of it, and as it was in their day. When it comes in the glorious phase at the return of the King Himself, it will be visible indeed.) Then He declared that no one is going to see it, and declare, "It is here," or "It is there:" for it is already here. The expression, "the kingdom of God is within you," has sometimes brought forth arguments that are totally unnecessary. The word here translated, "within," also means "in the midst of." And, in view of the fact that these to whom He was speaking were the unbelieving Pharisees, it is evident that he did not mean that the kingdom of God was in their souls; but rather, since He, the King, and His apostles, some of His subjects, were present in the midst of these Pharisees, the kingdom was certainly in their midst. Still they could not see it.


(Verses 22 through 25) "And He said unto the disciples, The days will come, when ye shall desire to see one of the days of the Son of man, and ye shall not see it. And they shall say unto you, See here; or see there: go not after them, nor follow them. For as the lightning, that lighteneth out of the one part under heaven, shineth unto the other part under heaven; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be in His day. But first must He suffer many things, and be rejected of this generation."


Before commenting on these verses, or any of the remainder of this chapter, a few things of a general nature should be brought to mind. Since nothing more is said about the Pharisees, we do not know whether they left, or stayed around to try to find fault with the remainder of what Jesus said; but we do know that the remainder of this chapter was addressed to His disciples, and not to the Pharisees. Also there are only two principal subjects in the remainder of this chapter. They are, His going away, which is only hinted at in verse 22, and His return, to which the remainder of the chapter is devoted. everything after verse 22 concerns His return.


In speaking of His death, Jesus says only, "The days will come, when ye shall desire to see one of the days of the Son of man, and ye shall not see it." No doubt, the disciples thought they were having a hard time, as they followed Jesus from place to place, and experienced the scorn with which He and they were treated by the religious leaders; but after the crucifixion of our Lord, the persecution began in earnest. Then, surely, they desired to "see one of the days of the Son of man:" even the hardest one they had ever endured while He was present, would have been a welcome change from what they would then suffer. Also they, while He was present, could go to Him with their problems and cares; but after He was gone, though He sent the Holy Ghost according to His promise, they still did not have His personal companionship, as before. His instructions to them are that, when this comes to pass, they are to pay no heed to any who may try to tell them that He has returned, and is in some certain place, whether here, or there. When He does return, it will be known immediately throughout the world, which it will cover with the speed of light, just as when the lightning flashes from one place it is immediately seen by those in another. But before that can take place, He has to suffer many things, including rejection by "this generation." As in many other places, though it is a commonly held idea that, "this generation" refers to "the people now living," I see no reason why it should not mean "the Jews," or more properly their religious leaders. This would be more in keeping with the basic meaning of the original word. Although it was indeed the leaders of the people of that day, who rejected Him, and demanded His crucifixion, the descendants of those same leaders are still rejecting Him today.


(Verses 26 through 32) "And as it was in the days of Noe, so shall it be in the days of the Son of man. They did eat, they drank, they married wives, they were given in marriage, until the day Noe entered into the ark, and the flood came, and destroyed them all. Likewise also as it was in the days of Lot; they did eat, they drank, they bought, they sold, they planted, they builded; but the same day that Lot went out of Sodom , it rained fire and brimstone from heaven, and destroyed them all. Even so shall it be in the day when the Son of man is revealed. In that day, he which is upon the housetop, and his stuff in the house, let him not come down to take it away; and he that is in the field, let him not return back. Remember Lot 's wife.


This is to take place "in the day when the Son of man is revealed," that is, as the Apostle Paul says, "When the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with His mighty angels, in flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ." Although, chronologically, this will take place after He has removed His saints from the earth, He speaks of it before He tells of the other. Just as in the days of Noah and the days of Lot , it will be "business as usual" for the wicked until our Lord brings destruction upon them. In their unbelief they will have no warning of their impending doom, though the signs are all around them; and should someone attempt to warn them, he would be ridiculed to the utmost. Nevertheless, just as destruction descended upon the wicked in the days of Noah, and in the days of Lot , so it shall upon the wicked in that day. None shall escape. Remember Lot's wife: although she reached the gate of Sodom , her heart was still in the city, and when she looked back, she found that there was no escape for her. There will be no time in which one can pick up his possessions, to take them with him; and neither will he have any need for them.


(Verse 33) "Whosoever shall seek to save his life shall lose it; and whosoever shall lose his life shall preserve it."


This seems to be more of a parenthetical expression inserted as an admonition to the disciples than to be actually in close connection with the principal subject. In other contexts He did use this statement for that purpose. Any person who is so in love with his present life in this world that he will seek to save it, will find his efforts futile; and if that is all he has, he is in a fearful condition. On the other hand, one who will lose his life, or is ready to hazard it for the sake of our Lord, will preserve it, because he is looking not upon the things that are seen, but upon those that are not seen. And the Apostle Paul has told us that those things that are seen are temporal; but those that are not seen are eternal.


(Verses 34 through 37) "I tell you, in that night there shall be two men in one bed, the one shall be taken, and the other left. Two women shall be grinding together; the one shall be taken, and the other left, Two men shall be in the field; the one shall be taken, and the other left. And they answered and said unto Him, Where, Lord? And He said unto them, Wheresoever the body is, thither will the eagles be gathered together."


It will be noticed that in verse 34 Jesus speaks of its being night when this great taking away is done. Then in verses 35 and 36, by reason of the work He mentions as ongoing, it seems to indicate that it will be in the day time. This is in perfect keeping with the fact that His coming for His elect will be an instantaneous action, making it take place in the night in some parts of the world, while in the day time in others. Since we do not know the day nor the hour, when He shall come, we cannot say whether it will be day or night in any particular spot of the earth. Whenever it is, the result will be the same, a selective, or an elective, taking away of some, and leaving of others. This perfectly harmonizes with 1 Thessalonians 4: 13-17. And certainly, the "rapture of the saints" is here meant. Some object to this phrase, because it does not appear in these words in the scriptures. Nevertheless, since the meaning of the phrase is "the taking away of the saints by power, or force," it is certainly a legitimate expression; for that will be the greatest demonstration of the power of God ever seen by man, up to that time. As mentioned earlier, chronologically, this takes place before that in verses 26 through 31, but is, in the account, described after it. The disciples questioned where these would be taken. At first, our Lord's answer may to some seem gross, but when rightly understood, it is a beautiful picture.


"Wheresoever the body is, thither will the eagles be gathered together." some commentators have said that the meaning of this is, "Where there are sinners, judgments will follow." In another context where this is used, that is, probably, a proper meaning for it; but it hardly fits as an answer to the question asked by the disciples. Instead, a totally different approach seems more fitting. The eagles mentioned here are actually the scavengers, such as vultures, which feed upon the dead bodies of animals, etc. Let us then take an excerpt from a saying Jesus spoke to the Jews on one occasion, John 6:53-56,) "Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink His blood, ye have no life in you. Whoso eateth My flesh, and drinketh My blood, hath eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day. For My flesh is meat indeed, and My blood is drink indeed. He that eateth My flesh, and drinketh My blood, dwelleth in Me, and I in him." Surely, we understand that He was not attempting to teach cannibalism. He certainly meant that we must by faith feed upon the fact that His flesh was crucified for us, and His blood was shed for us; and this is the spiritual food and drink upon which everyone who has eternal life must feed. Nothing else will nourish us spiritually. Therefore in the saying of the present text, since wherever the body is, there will those gather together who feed upon it, the answer to the disciples' question is as Paul declares it in 1 Thessalonians 4:17, "_ _ _ and so shall we ever be with the Lord."


Chapter 18

In verses 1 through 5, we have a parable of a judge who cared nothing about God nor man, but because of the continual complaints of a widow, who had been wronged, he decided he would take up her case, and "avenge her of her adversary." Jesus uses this parable to teach a very important lesson in the next three verses.


(Verses 6 through 8) "And the Lord said, hear what the unjust judge saith; and shall not God avenge His own elect, which cry day and night unto Him, though He bear long with them? I tell you that He will avenge them speedily. Nevertheless when the son of man cometh, shall He find faith on the earth?"


Looking back at the judge's thoughts upon the matter, we find him saying, "Though I fear not God, nor regard man; yet because this widow troubleth me, I will avenge her, lest by her continual coming she weary me." If this man, unjust as he was, would finally, in order to stop her from bothering him, do what this widow wanted him to do, consider God, Who not only is just, but also loves His elect so much that He gave his only begotten Son for them. Surely, He will avenge them, and that without interference or failure. He may not do it immediately at the first time we call upon Him, but do not be discouraged: He hears our prayers, and if He delays the answer, there is a good reason for the delay. It is not that He has forgotten us, nor that He is not able nor willing to answer our cries.


Often we hear men attempt to quote the question Jesus asked, but they usually change it from a question to an indicative statement, thus, "Nevertheless when the son of man cometh, He shall find faith on the earth." Notice that this is not correct. It is a question: "Nevertheless when the Son of Man cometh, shall He find faith on the earth?" Although it is evident from other scriptures that there will be faith on the earth at His coming, or return, the question seems to have been asked to call attention to the fact that wickedness will be suffered to increase more and more so that by the time of His coming there will be comparatively very few on earth who have faith. The Apostle Paul said, "Evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived;" and history certainly bears witness of this.


(Verses 9 through 14) "And He spake this parable unto certain which trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others: Two men went up into the temple to pray; the one a Pharisee, and the other a publican. The Pharisee stood and prayed with himself, God, I thank Thee that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican. I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess. And the publican standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, God, be merciful to me a sinner. I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other: for every one that exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted."


Verse 9 tells us the purpose of this parable by telling to whom it was spoken. Since it was spoken to those "which trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others," the obvious purpose of it was to condemn self righteousness. For His illustration, our Lord took a character from each extreme of the social spectrum. The Pharisee was regarded by himself, and by the general public, as very righteous, a real "stickler" for the law to the letter, while the publican, no matter what was his real character, was regarded as a traitor, an unscrupulous cheat, and in general, a most despicable person, just by reason of the job he held and the manner of his obtaining it. As Jesus narrates His parable, we see this Pharisee as he prayed, not to God, but "with himself," in spite of his saying, "God, I thank Thee." Instead of thanking God for what He had done for him, his thanks were for what he was, and what he did; and he considered himself a "self-made man." He thought himself better than others, even pointing out, in particular, this publican, who had also come to the temple to pray. On the other hand, this publican whom the Pharisee so much despised, was so burdened with repentance that he could not even lift up his eyes toward heaven, but could only beat upon his breast, a sign of great distress, and say, "God be merciful to me a sinner." He was simply throwing himself upon the mercy of God, as any repentant sinner must do, because he realized that nothing else would do. Our Lord says that, as these two went down to their houses, the publican, not the Pharisee, was justified. His prayer was acceptable to God, while the Pharisee's was not. This lesson is just as applicable today as it was when first spoken.


(Verses 15 through 17) "And they brought unto Him also infants, that he would touch them: but when his disciples saw it, they rebuked them. But Jesus called them unto Him, and said, Suffer little children to come unto Me, and forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of God . Verily I say unto you, Whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child shall in no wise enter therein."


Since no explanation is given as to why the disciples rebuked the people for bringing their infants to Jesus, we can only guess at it; and that is not beneficial. So our best course of action is to leave that as it is. What is of importance to us is what Jesus said to His disciples when He called them to Him. The first thing He did was to command them that they put no hindrance in the way of little children, but let them come to Him, "for," said He, "of such is the kingdom of God ." Some have taken this to mean that all who die in infancy are saved. While we certainly will not argue that they are not, this passage has nothing to do with that doctrine. In the first place, not one of these infants was dead. Had such been the case, some special mention would have been made of the fact. What He is teaching is, that the kingdom of God is made up of those who have been made humble as these infants. Just as an infant is totally dependent upon his parents, or whoever takes care of him, so every one who in any wise enters into the kingdom of God is just as dependent upon God as the infant is upon those who take care of him.


(Verses 18 through 23) "And a certain ruler asked Him, saying, Good Master, what shall I do to inherit eternal life? And Jesus said unto him, Why callest thou Me good? none is good, save One, that is God. Thou knowest the commandments, Do not commit adultery, Do not kill, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Honour thy father and thy mother. And he said, All these have I kept from my youth up. Now when Jesus heard these things, He said unto him, Yet lackest thou one thing: sell all that thou hast, and distribute unto the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come, follow Me. And when he heard this, he was very sorrowful: for he had great possessions."


This ruler in verse 18, was not necessarily an official of the government at all. He may have been a "ruler of the synagogue," such as has been mentioned in other places. At any rate he was a leader of some sort among the Jews. One must keep in mind that this whole episode is centered on one question, "How can I obtain ("inherit") eternal life by works?" That accounts for the answer Jesus gave him. The scriptures abundantly teach that eternal life is the gift of God by the merit of Jesus the Christ, and not by the works of the individual. However, the question still is, "What shall I do to inherit eternal life?" If eternal life could be obtained by works, those works must be works of righteousness. Therefore they must be the fulfilling of the law of God, which can only be done by keeping all His commandments, and falling short in nothing. When the ruler said that he had kept all the commandments from his youth up, some might think this sufficient; but there is still a further test. Once in answer to a lawyer's question, Jesus gave, as the first and second commandments, one which has to do with our relation to God, and the second, which covers our relation with men. Not only so, but these two commandments were commonly held by those who knew the law to be the "sum and substance of the law:" for when Jesus asked a lawyer, "What is written in the law? How readest thou?" the lawyer answered in almost the same words Jesus had used to give the first and second commandments, "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbor as thyself." Therefore, with his answering that he had kept all these commandments from his youth, before he could be pronounced perfect, there was still one more question, "Did he love his neighbor as himself?" Unless he could show that he did, he was still lacking. Therefore the statement, "Yet lackest thou one thing: sell all that thou hast, and distribute to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come, follow Me." If he had loved his neighbor as himself, he would have found no difficulty in selling all that he had and giving the proceeds to the poor: for, surely, he would have done as much for himself. We sometimes fool ourselves into believing that we love our neighbor as ourselves, but everyone of us fails this test, just as did this man. Whether we have little or much, we still are reluctant to give it all to others who are in need. He was very sorrowful, because he was rich. Another writer says, "He went away sorrowful."


(Verses 24 through 27) "And when Jesus saw that he was very sorrowful, He said, How hardly shall they that have riches enter into the kingdom of God ! For it is easier for a camel to go through a needle's eye, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God . And they that heard it said, Who then can be saved? And He said, The things which are impossible with men are possible with God."


This is the real key to this entire episode. After the rich ruler was so sorrowful, Jesus called the attention of those present to the impossibility of the rich entering the kingdom of God , no doubt, for the very purpose of informing them that for one to enter the kingdom takes not the work of man, but the work of God. Since by the power of their wealth, the rich have the advantage of the poor in all worldly things, those who heard His statement were completely astounded. They could not visualize salvation for anyone, if the rich could not obtain it. Then the Lord gave them the ultimate answer, "The things which are impossible with men are possible with God." Although no man, rich or poor, can by his own works obtain eternal life, God can, and does, give it to whom He will, without regard to financial status, or social standing.


(Verses 28 through 30) "Then Peter said, Lo, we have left all, and followed Thee. And He said unto them, Verily I say unto you, There is no man that hath left house, or parents, or brethren, or wife, or children, for the kingdom of God's sake, who shall not receive manifold more in this present time, and in the world to come life everlasting."


In Matthew's record of this incident, he tells us that Peter said a few words more than Luke records. According to him, Peter asked, "What shall we have therefore?" Mark's account of what Jesus said His followers should receive is a little more detailed than this of Luke; "But he shall receive an hundred fold now in this time, houses, and brethren, and sisters, and mothers, and children, and lands, with persecution; and in the world to come eternal life." Although Luke does not mention the persecution, Jesus had contended throughout His ministry, that persecutions are indeed the lot of His servants, just as they were His.


(Verses 31 through 34) "Then He took unto Him the twelve, and said unto them, Behold, we go up to Jerusalem , and all things that are written by the prophets concerning the Son of man shall be accomplished. For He shall be delivered unto the Gentiles, and shall be mocked, and spitefully entreated, and spitted on: and they shall scourge Him, and put Him to death: and the third day He shall rise again. And they understood none of these things: and this saying was hid from them, neither knew they the things which were spoken."


As we look at this, having already been informed of the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus as historical facts, it is sometimes hard for us to see why it was impossible for the apostles to understand what Jesus was telling them. However, we must remember that their expectation, even at the time of this incident, was much different from the actual events, which took place. They had the same general idea as the rest of the Jews, about the Messiah, or the Christ. They thought that He would immediately set up the kingdom of God as a political kingdom, which would free Israel from Roman occupation, and establish itself as the dominant world power. Even at the time Jesus was telling them of His upcoming suffering and death, their minds were not opened to the reality of a spiritual kingdom that will be brought into its full glory only at the return of our Lord. They were never able to understand this until He appeared to them after His resurrection, and taught them "the things pertaining to the kingdom of God ." So when He told them of His betrayal, how He would be despised and abused by the people, about His death, and about His resurrection, "they understood none of these things: and this saying was hid from them, neither knew they the things which were spoken." Matthew 16:21-23 gives the account of a time when, as Jesus was telling His disciples these same things, Peter took it upon himself to rebuke Him, saying, "Be it far from Thee, Lord: this shall not be unto Thee." Of course, Jesus properly rebuked him for this; but it still shows the attitude of the disciples at the time.


The remainder of the chapter tells of the giving of sight to a blind man who sat by the way. The account is given in such detail that, surely, it needs no explanation, but there is in it a lesson, which deserves comment. We are told that the blind man, as he sat there by the side of the road, heard the noise of the multitude as Jesus and His followers approached. When he inquired what was the cause of the commotion, he was told, "Jesus of Nazareth passeth by." Nothing is said about whether or not he had ever heard of Jesus before; but, probably, he had, since the reports of the miracles Jesus had done had circulated far and wide. Upon hearing that Jesus was present, he cried out, "Jesus, Thou Son of David, have mercy on me." This is a very simple statement, a request for mercy, or help, which one might address toward anyone, except that, in this, he addressed it not just to "Jesus," which was a very common name among the Jews; but to "Jesus, Thou Son of David," which is the same as acknowledging Him as the Messiah, or the Christ, Which indeed He is, thus signifying that he believed Him to be the Christ. It showed his faith in Him. "And they which went before rebuked him, that he should hold his peace." we do not know who was going along ahead of Jesus. In such a multitude it could have been anyone, even some of His disciples; but if so, again they made a mistake, as they had back in verse 15. When they told this man to be quiet, he cried out even more, "Thou Son of David, have mercy on me, thus acknowledging before all his faith in the Christ. Jesus stopped, and had the blind man brought to Him. Then He asked him, "What wilt thou that I shall do unto thee?" The blind man answered, "Lord, that I might receive my sight." In the answer Jesus gave him He laid stress upon the very thing we have already mentioned, this man's faith. "Receive thy sight: thy faith hath saved thee." When God has given us faith by which to call upon our Lord Jesus, let no man make us refrain from doing so. This man's faith was such that when the people rebuked him, he only called more upon the Lord, and his reward was that he received his sight: his faith had saved him, saved him from continuing in blindness for the rest of his life. "And immediately he received his sight, and followed Him, glorifying God: and all the people, when they saw it, gave praise unto God." Not only did this man's faith cause him to receive his sight, but also the exercise of it caused others to praise God.


Chapter 19

The first 10 verses of this chapter tell of an incident which took place as Jesus passed through Jericho . Luke is the only writer who records this matter. It is not a great miracle, nor a long discourse about deep subjects. Rather it is a simple account of a meeting between Jesus and a man who, because he was so short in height that he could not see over the multitude, and was so desirous of seeing Jesus, that he ran ahead of the crowd, and climbed a sycamore tree in order to see Him as He passed by.


This man, Zachaeus, was "the chief among the publicans, and he was rich." He was not only a tax collector, but was chief among them, or, probably, as we would say, he was the regional tax collector, with others under him. Not only was he chief among them, but he was also rich, a fact that did not endear him to the Jews in general, considering the attitude the Jews had toward all tax collectors. When Jesus came to where Zachaeus was up in the tree, "He looked up, and saw him, and said to him, Zachaeus, make haste, and come down; for today I must abide at thy house. And he made haste, and came down, and received Him joyfully." Since, apparently, he and Jesus had had no prior acquaintance, it, no doubt, surprised Zachaeus that Jesus would call him by name, and tell him that He must be his guest that day; but he joyfully received Him. It is certainly no surprise that this did not sit very well with the other Jews who were crowded around. "They all murmured, saying, That He was gone to be guest with a man that is a sinner." As we have remarked before, the real character of a publican made no difference in the opinion of the Jews: to them, if he was a publican, he was a sinner. Nevertheless, since we have no witness to the contrary, let us consider what Zachaeus said of himself, as he talked with Jesus: "Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor; and if I have taken any thing from any man by false accusation, I restore him fourfold." Perhaps we should remind ourselves that, in the business in which Zachaeus was engaged there might come up a case in which by false accusation not of his making, but brought by others, he would be obliged to take something from someone. If so, and later the evidence showed the accusation to be false, he restored fourfold to the one who had been wronged. Not only that, but his ordinary manner of operation was to give half of his goods to the poor. We do not know whether or not he lived up to what he said, but we certainly have no evidence to the contrary. Therefore his testimony will have to stand. It is hardly likely that so much could be said about any of those who murmured against him, and called him a sinner. Regardless of that, the real lesson is in verses 9 and 10.


The New English Bible gives this translation of verse 8: “But Zachaeus stood there and said to the Lord, ‘Here and now, Sir, I give half my possessions to charity: and if I have cheated anyone, I am ready to repay him four times over.’” This seems, according to this translation, to be, not what he had been doing, but what he is now determined to do.


(Verses 9 and 10) "And Jesus said unto him, This day is salvation come to this house, forasmuch as he also is a son of Abraham. For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost."


Not only did Jesus procure our salvation by His death on the cross, but He is our salvation. Therefore "This day is salvation come to this house." Although he was hated by his fellow Jews, Zachaeus was just as much a son of Abraham as were any of them; and though they may have considered him an outcast, or "a lost sheep," the mission of Jesus was "to seek and to save that which was lost." Why then should they complain?


(Verse 11) "And as they heard these things, He added and spake a parable, because He was nigh unto Jerusalem , and because they thought that the kingdom of God should immediately appear."


If one ignores this verse, he may as well not read the next eighteen verses. They contain the parable, which is here mentioned, but unless we know why it was given, we can become bogged down in arguments over its meaning as many have before us. The first reason given for it is, "because He was nigh to Jerusalem ." This is far more significant than it sounds. He had been nigh, and even in, Jerusalem before; but now He was approaching that city for the final time before His death. This was the time when He was, upon leaving Jerusalem , to return to the Father, or as He expresses it in the parable, to go "into a far country to receive for Himself a kingdom, and to return." The second reason for the parable is, "because they thought that the kingdom of God should immediately appear." Yet, as the parable points out, it could not appear until His return from "the far country."


Here we refer the reader to verses 12 through 27 for the parable itself, which we shall not attempt to quote completely. This is, perhaps, the same parable recorded by Matthew in Matthew 25:14-30, but it is set in somewhat different words. As Luke records it, a nobleman, (by which we should understand a Prince, the Son of the King, for Jesus is Himself this Nobleman,) must go to a far country to receive for himself a kingdom. This exactly represents Jesus as He, by His sacrificial death, His resurrection, and His ascension, must go back to the Father in heaven to receive this kingdom; all of which agrees perfectly with the Apostle Peter's declaration. (Acts 2:36 ,) "Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly, that God hath made that same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ." In this parable He says, "His citizens hated him, and sent a message after him, saying, We will not have this man to reign over us." The activities of the Jews, not only at His crucifixion, but as recorded throughout the Acts Of The Apostles, set forth this message in capital letters. In this parable, his final act before departing was to call his ten servants, to deliver to each "a pound," and to say to each, "Occupy till I come." (The word translated "pound," is "mna," which, in Old Testament usage is the equivalent of one hundred shekels, and in Attic usage, one hundred drachmae.) Although ten servants are mentioned at this point in the parable, only three are mentioned when the King returns to find out how much each has earned from trading.


As the going of this nobleman to the far country to receive his kingdom represents our Lord's return to the Father to receive His kingdom, so the return of the nobleman after having received his kingdom must represent the return of our Lord in His glory. Thus the time of his reckoning with his servants is established as being at that time. In one respect the end of this parable is similar to that of the net which was cast into the sea, and caught a full complement of fish of every kind, but when it was dragged to the shore its catch was separated, the good being kept, and the bad, thrown away. The first and second servants with whom the king reckoned represent the true servants of the Lord, among whom there is, and always has been variation, since some are more diligent in their service than others, yet each made a gain of what was given him; and was praised by his master. Finally we come to the third servant, who can only represent one who, though claiming to be a servant of our Lord, does not even know Him: for his own testimony condemns him.


(Verses 20 through 23) "And another came, saying, Lord, behold, here is thy pound, which I have kept laid up in a napkin: for I feared thee, because thou art an austere man: thou takest up that thou laidst not down, and reapest that thou didst not sow. And he said to him, Out of thine own mouth will I judge thee, thou wicked servant. Thou knewest that I was an austere man, taking up that I laid not down, and reaping that I did not sow. Wherefore gavest not thou my money into the bank, that at my coming I might have required mine own with usury?"


There are so many holes in the lie this servant told, that his lord had to look no further than his own testimony to condemn him. First of all, he accused his lord of being dishonest, picking up what he did not lay down, and reaping what he did not sow. This is the same as accusing him of stealing. Some try to say that this servant indeed represents a true servant of God, but one who just did not obey Him; but this will not fit the definition Paul gives in Romans 6:16, "Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness?" Besides, it is totally inconceivable that one of God's servants, in conversation with our Lord, will call Him dishonest, or a thief. The next discrepancy is that this servant said, "I feared thee, because thou art an austere (hard or cruel) man." His master points out the lie in this by showing that had this servant thus feared him, the least he could have done was to put the money in the bank that it might draw interest. The fact that the servant did not do this proves that he did not fear his master, as he claimed. The real key declaration of this matter is the master's statement, "Out of thine own mouth will I judge thee, thou wicked servant." A wicked servant does not represent one of the Lord's redeemed.


As the parable continues, the lord of these servants commands that the pound originally entrusted to this servant be taken from him and given to the one who had the ten pounds. This, apparently, caused some surprise, for the other servants said, "Lord, he hath ten pounds." This servant reminds one of Judas. Though Judas, instead of being a true servant of the Lord, was a devil, and the son of perdition, (both of these terms were applied to him by our Lord himself,) yet, obviously, he must have been given the same powers as the other apostles: for they never suspected him as the traitor, even when he left them, to go and make the final step of the betrayal. At that time they thought Jesus was sending him out to buy what they needed, or to give something to the poor. When the other servants remarked that the servant, to whom the master commanded the unused pound to be given, had ten pounds, Jesus used this as the introduction of a saying which He had used in other places; "For I say unto you, That unto every one which hath shall be given; and from him that hath not, even that he hath shall be taken." Back in Luke 8:18 , He used the same saying in slightly different words, "Take heed therefore how ye hear: for whosoever hath, to him shall be given; and whosoever hath not, from him shall be taken even that which he seemeth to have," which is probably a better rendering of the statement. Then the conclusion of the parable is the sentence the king pronounces upon those citizens who would "not have this man reign over" them. "But those mine enemies, which would not that I should reign over them, bring hither, and slay before me." Not only will He at his return judge his servants, but also He will bring destruction upon Satan and all the wicked, and the world itself.


(Verses 28 through 36) "And when He had thus spoken, He went before, ascending up to Jerusalem . And it came to pass, when He was come nigh to Bethphage and Bethany, at the mount called the mount of Olives, He sent two of His disciples, saying, Go ye into the village over against you; in the which at your entering ye shall find a colt tied, whereon yet never man sat: loose him, and bring him hither. And if any man ask you, Why do ye loose him? thus shall ye say unto him, Because the Lord hath need of him. And they that were sent went their way, and found even as He had said unto them. And as they were loosing the colt, the owners thereof said unto them, Why loose ye the colt? And they said, The Lord hath need of him. And they brought him to Jesus: and they cast their garments upon the colt, and they set Jesus thereon. And as He went, they spread their garments in the way."


Some might consider this incident so simple as to be unworthy of comment; but simple as it is, there is much involved. As we glance back at the latter part of the preceding chapter, we see that some of those with Jesus were walking before Him as they approached the blind man. Here, as they approach the ascent of the mount of Olives, Jesus knowing full well what awaited Him in Jerusalem , stepped forward, and took the lead as they ascended the mount. He also sent two of His disciples on an errand, giving them exact details of what they would find, where they would find it, and of what to say to whoever might question them about what they were doing. Although none of it was pre-arranged, (except by the power of God,) it appears as if every detail, even to the challenge and password, had been worked out before. This errand was for the purpose of procuring the necessary animal for the fulfilling of Zechariah's prophecy, (Zech.9:9) "Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion ; shout, O daughter of Jerusalem : behold, thy King cometh unto thee: He is just, and having salvation; lowly, and riding upon an ass, and upon a colt the foal of an ass." It was to procure this colt that they were sent.  They found everything exactly as Jesus had said, and even the owners of the colt honored the password Jesus had given them, "The Lord hath need of him." When they brought the colt, some took their outer garments, and spread them on the colt as a makeshift saddle, and they set Jesus on the colt. Then as they went on, others spread their outer garments on the road before Him as an honor carpet upon which the colt was to walk.


(Verses 37 through 40) "And when He was come nigh, even now at the descent of the mount of Olives, the whole multitude of the disciples began to rejoice and praise God with a loud voice for all the mighty works that they had seen; saying, Blessed be the King that cometh in the name of the Lord: peace in heaven, and glory in the highest. And some of the Pharisees from among the multitude said unto Him, Master, rebuke Thy disciples. And He answered and said unto them, I tell you that, if these should hold their peace, the stones would immediately cry out."


When they reached the summit of the mount of Olives, there was Jerusalem just across the little valley of Kedron . Simultaneously with their seeing Jerusalem , the Spirit came upon the disciples, and the multitude began praising God with a loud voice, and saying of Jesus, "Blessed be the King that cometh in the name of the Lord." This saying is the part of their praise, which so infuriated the Pharisees; because it acknowledged Jesus as the King, the Christ, the Messiah. They were so enraged that they tried to get him to rebuke the disciples for this saying; but the answer they received was far from what they wanted. "I tell you that, if these should hold their peace, the stones would immediately cry out." Thus He declared that this is not of them, but of the Spirit of God.


(Verses 41 through 44) "And when He was come near, He beheld the city, and wept over it, saying, If thou hadst known, even thou in this thy day, the things which belong unto thy peace! but now they are hid from thine eyes. For the days shall come upon thee, that thine enemies shall cast a trench around thee, and compass thee round, and keep thee in on every side, and shall lay thee even with the ground, and thy children within thee; and they shall not leave in thee one stone upon another; because thou knewest not the time of thy visitation."


This passage, as much as any other in the Bible, shows the dual being of Jesus. As God, He knew that all these things that would have promoted the peace of Jerusalem were hidden from her eyes. There was no way in which she could see them, even as they were presented to her. And He on one occasion even prayed, "I thank Thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because Thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes. Even so, Father: for so it seemed good in Thy sight.(Matthew 11:25-26 and Luke 10:21). Yet as man, He wept and lamented the miseries that were to come upon her. He gives a very apt description of her troubles during Titus' siege of Jerusalem and his overthrow of her.


(Verses 45 and 46) "And He went into the temple, and began to cast out them that sold therein, and them that bought; saying unto them, It is written, My house is the house of prayer: but ye have made it a den of thieves."


Since there was but one temple, and all sacrifices had to be offered there, those living a long distance from Jerusalem, instead of bringing an animal for sacrifice, would sell the animal chosen for sacrifice, bring the money to the temple, and there buy an animal from those who maintained herds of "kosher" animals for the purpose. They maintained their seats, or booths, in the temple itself; and their prices were always inflated. Also when an animal was brought for sacrifice, it had to be examined by the priest, and by him pronounced fit, before it could be offered. If he declared it unfit, the owner would be faced with the option of taking it home, and bringing another; or selling it to those who were set up in the temple to buy such, always at a discounted price. Then he could buy a suitable animal from those who sold, at an inflated price. All of this made for a very lucrative business. This is what Jesus meant by saying that they had made the temple a den of thieves.


Verses 47 and 48 are self-explanatory, and we shall quote them without comment. "And He taught daily in the temple. But the chief priests and the scribes and the chief of the people sought to destroy Him, and could not find what they might do: for all the people were very attentive to hear Him."


Chapter 20

(Verses 1 through 8) "And it came to pass, that on one of those days, as He taught the people in the temple, and preached the gospel, the chief priests and the scribes came upon Him with the elders, and spake unto him, saying, Tell us by what authority Thou doest these things? or Who is He that gave Thee this authority? And he answered and said unto them, I will also ask you one thing; and answer Me: The baptism of John, was it from heaven, or of men? And they reasoned with themselves, If we shall say, From heaven; He will say, Why then believed ye him not? but if we say, Of men; all the people will stone us: for they be persuaded that John was a prophet. And they answered, that they could not tell whence it was. And Jesus said unto them, Neither tell I you by what authority I do these things.


This group, chief priests, scribes, and elders, were the greatest enemies of Jesus throughout His earthly ministry. They considered themselves "the authority of God" in all matters pertaining to religion. So after Jesus had driven out the buyers and sellers from the temple, and himself remained, and continued to teach the people, and preach the gospel in the temple, they came to him demanding that he tell them by what authority He did these things, and from whom he received such authority, since they certainly had not given it to him. He being well acquainted with their hypocrisy, agreed to answer their question if they would first answer one question of His. That question is, "From whence had John the authority to baptize? Was it from heaven, or of men?" One interesting point in this is that the true answer to that question is the answer to theirs also. However, they were in a quandary. They knew that if they said, "From heaven," they were open to criticism for not believing him. And, although they believed it to be of men, that is, not of God, nor of heaven, they were afraid to say so. Because this would turn the people against them, and indeed, it might result in their being stoned by the people; for John was commonly received as a prophet. They told Jesus that, they COULD NOT tell whence it was. So He told them that, He WOULD NOT tell them by what authority He did these things.


(Verses 9 through 16) "Then began he to speak to the people this parable; a certain man planted a vineyard, and let it forth to husbandmen, and went into a far country for a long time. And at the season he sent a servant to the husbandmen, that they should give him of the fruit of the vineyard: but the husbandmen beat him and sent him away empty. And again he sent another servant: and they beat him also, and entreated him shamefully, and sent him away empty. And again he sent a third: and they wounded him also, and cast him out. Then said the Lord of the vineyard, What shall I do? I will send my beloved son: it may be they will reverence him when they see him. But when the husbandmen saw him, they reasoned among themselves, saying, This is the heir: come let us kill him, that the inheritance may be ours. So they cast him out of the vineyard, and killed him. What therefore shall the lord of the vineyard do unto them? He shall come and destroy these husbandmen, and shall give the vineyard to others. And when they heard it, they said, God forbid."


Without question, this is the same parable that is recorded in Matthew 21:33-41. The wording is slightly different in some places, and at the close of it, Matthew records the Jewish leaders as giving the answer to the final question, while Luke says that Jesus answered His own question, and the Jews said, "God forbid." In either instance it is clear that they got the message. As one identifies the symbols of this parable, the whole message becomes clear. The lord of the vineyard is God the Father. The vineyard itself is the kingdom of God ; and the husbandmen are the priests, scribes, and elders of the Jews, to whom the vineyard was entrusted during the law dispensation. The servants sent to them from time to time are the prophets; and the beloved son of the lord of the vineyard is Jesus, the Son of God. With all characters established, it is clear that up to the sending of the son is the history of the kingdom under the law. That this is the accurate record of the activities of the Jewish leaders Jesus testifies in Matthew 23:37 , as he says "O Jerusalem, Jerusalem , thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them that are sent unto thee _ _ _." Now He predicts to them His death, as He tells the plan of action of these husbandmen. And He follows that with the destruction of Jerusalem , and the sending of the gospel to the Gentiles, as He says, "He shall come and destroy these husbandmen, and shall give the vineyard to others." This is what so enraged the Jews that they said, "God forbid."



(Verses 17 and 18) "And He beheld them, and said, What is this then that is written, The stone which the builders rejected, the same is become the head of the corner? Whosoever shall fall upon that stone shall be broken; but on whomsoever it shall fall, it will grind him to powder."


Since they could not believe His conclusion of the parable, He called upon them to explain a statement, with which they were well acquainted, from Psalms 118:22, signifying by His manner of question that there could be no other explanation of it. "The stone which the builders refused is become the head of the corner." This can only mean that this son whom the husbandmen killed, and which answers to Jesus, the Son of God, whom these very Jews would demand crucified, is the One Who shall destroy them: for He is over all, "the head of the corner." He then added a statement, "Whosoever shall fall upon this stone shall be broken; but upon whomsoever it shall fall, it will grind him to powder." This is in perfect harmony with the prophecy of Simeon, (Luke 2:34 ,) "Behold, this child is set for the fall and rising again of many in Israel ." Those who fall upon Him are indeed broken, but they are also made whole, and rise again. But those upon whom He shall fall shall never rise again, but are ground to powder, as was Nebuchadnezzar's great image. (Daniel 2:35,) "Then was the iron, the clay, the brass, the silver, and the gold, broken to pieces together, and became like the chaff of the summer threshingfloors; and the wind carried them away."


Verses 19 through 26 tell of the anger of the chief priests against Jesus because they knew that he had spoken the foregoing parable against them and of their efforts to entrap Him, which they tried in verses 21 and 22, "And they asked Him, saying, Master, we know that Thou sayest and teachest rightly, neither acceptest Thou the person of any, but teachest the way of God truly: is it lawful to give tribute unto Caesar, or no?" This statement which they prefixed to their question was absolutely true, except for the "we know," but those who said it did not believe a word of it. They used it only as flattery, for the purpose of deceiving Jesus, and getting Him to say something, which they could report to the authorities, and make trouble for Him. This was actually a "two edged sword." They really wanted Him to say that it was not lawful, and this they would report to the Roman governor, and accuse Jesus of trying to incite rebellion. Failing that, if they could get Him to say that it was lawful, they would use that to turn the people away from Him: for no Jew liked to pay taxes to Caesar. However, Jesus knew their thoughts as well as they did.


(Verses 23 through 26) "But He perceived their craftiness, and said unto them, Why tempt ye Me? Shew Me the penny. Whose image and superscription hath it? They answered and said, Caesar's. And He said unto them, Render therefore unto Caesar the things which be Caesar's, and unto God the things which be God's. And they could not take hold of His words before the people: and they marveled at His answer, and held their peace."


Thus Jesus thwarted their whole effort. Since on the piece of money there was the image and "superscription" (inscription) of Caesar, it must belong to Caesar. Therefore any honest person should render, or give, it to him. On the other hand, Do not take those things which belong to God, and render them to Caesar, but render them to God to Whom they rightly belong. Among these things would, of course, be worship, service, praise, and like things. By this the priests were completely put to silence.


The Sadducees seeing the priests thus silenced, decided to try their hand. They wanted to establish a point of doctrine upon which they differed completely from the Pharisees. The Pharisees, in spite of all their faults, believed in the resurrection; but the Sadducees completely denied it. They first quoted a provision of the law which required, in the case of a man's dying and leaving no children, that his brother must marry his widow to raise up a child for the dead man. Then they proceeded to tell a story of seven brothers. One of them married, and died childless. In keeping with law, his brother married his widow; but he also died leaving no child. This continued on till all seven had married the woman, and had died. Finally the woman died also. Here we return to Luke's wording of the event, (verses 33-38,) "Therefore in the resurrection whose wife of them is she? for seven had her to wife. And Jesus answering said unto them, The children of this world marry, and are given in marriage: but they which shall be accounted worthy to obtain that world, and the resurrection from the dead, neither marry, nor are given in marriage: neither can they die any more: for they are equal unto the angels; and are the children of God, being the children of the resurrection. Now that the dead are raised, even Moses shewed at the bush, when he calleth the Lord the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob. For He is not a God of the dead, but of the living: for all live unto Him."


It seems that it would be rather difficult to make this any clearer than it is here expressed by Jesus Himself. First he told these Sadducees that there is a difference between the people as they are here in this world, and as they will be in the resurrection. In the resurrection there will be neither marrying, nor giving in marriage, and there will be no more dying. So the question of whose wife she shall be is moot. She will not be a wife of anyone any more. He then declares that the resurrection is a positive fact that will take place; and that even Moses at the burning bush bore witness of this fact. Although Luke makes no mention of it, both Matthew and Mark say that Jesus told these Sadducees that the cause of their error was that they knew neither the scriptures, nor the power of God.


(Verses 39 through 44) "Then certain of the scribes answering said, Master, Thou hast well said. And after that they durst not ask him any question at all. And He said unto them, How say they that the Christ is David's son? and David himself saith in the book of Psalms, The Lord said unto my Lord, Sit Thou on My right hand, till I make Thine enemies Thy footstool. David therefore calleth Him Lord, how is He then his son?"


After Jesus had put His opposition to silence, He asked them a question, which, of course, they could not answer. They had always considered the Christ, or the Messiah, as the son of David, but somehow they never noticed the fact that He was also David's Lord. They never thought of Him as the Son of God. Their only concern was that He was to be of the lineage of David, never linking this to Isaiah's prophecy, (Isaiah 7:14 ,) "Therefore the Lord Himself shall give you a sign; behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and thou shalt call His name Immanuel." This Son of the virgin Mary who was indeed of the lineage of David, is also the Son of God; for it was the power of God which overshadowed Mary, and caused her to conceive; and His name is Immanuel, (or Emmanuel,) which means "God with us." Thus He is both the son of David, and the Lord of David; but the scribes could not answer the question, because they did not believe Him to be the Son of God.


(Verses 45 through 47) "Then in the audience of all the people He said unto His disciples, Beware of the scribes which desire to walk in long robes, and love greetings in the markets, and the highest seats in the synagogues, and the chief rooms at feasts; which devour widows houses, and for a shew make long prayers: the same shall receive greater damnation."


So far as His description of these scribes is concerned, it can hardly be made any plainer. But His warning to His disciples is not only a warning to beware of these scribes, lest they do them damage, but also lest they be tempted to follow in their ways, which is far more detrimental to the disciples than any thing the scribes could do to them. Since they "shall receive greater damnation," what can we expect, if we follow their ways?


Chapter 21

(Verses 1 through 4) "And He looked up, and saw the rich men casting their gifts into the treasury. And He saw also a certain poor widow casting in thither two mites. And He said, Of a truth I say unto you, that this poor widow hath cast in more than they all: for all these have of their abundance cast into the offerings of God: but she of her penury hath cast in all the living she had."


The Greek word translated "mite," is "lepton," a very small brass coin for which we have no exact equivalent, though some compare it to a cent. Nevertheless it was of very little monetary value. Yet our Lord declared these "two mites" to be more than all the other gifts that were put in the treasury, not because of their "face value" as money, but because they were all the widow had, while all the other givers, no matter how much they put in the treasury, reserved the bulk of their wealth for themselves. This same principle is just as true today as then. One who gives his all, whether in money or service, even if it be very little, has still given more than he who only gives part of what he has.


(Verses 5 through 9) "And as some spake of the temple, how it was adorned with goodly stones and gifts, He said, As for these things which ye behold, the days will come, in the which there shall not be left one stone upon another, that shall not be thrown down. And they asked Him, saying, Master, but when shall these things be? and what sign will there be when these things shall come to pass? And He said, Take heed that ye be not deceived: for many shall come in My name, saying, I am Christ; and the time draweth near: go ye not therefore after them. But when ye shall hear of wars and commotions, be not terrified: for these things must first come to pass; but the end is not by and by."


Before making any comments concerning this text itself, one thing must be noted. In verse 9, where the expression, "by and by," occurs, the Greek word thus translated is "eutheos," and it literally means, "straightway, immediately, or forthwith." Today we use "by and by" to mean sometime in the far distant future; but at the time of this translation there were many words and phrases that were used to mean entirely the opposite of what they mean now. This part of Jesus' speech was in answer to those who were admiring the temple with its beautiful ornaments. First, He told them that the time was coming when the temple would be totally destroyed, with not one stone left upon another. As always, the people, and sometimes even His disciples, were looking for some great sign in the heavens, to foretell the time of this great event. So He began to instruct them. There were some things which people might assume to be signs of the approaching end, but they were only such as must, in the general course of events, come to pass, and had no significance in this matter. There would be many, who would come, claiming to be the Christ. This is even continuing to the present day. Yet we are not to follow such, and neither does this sign, of itself, have any great significance. Also there shall be wars and commotions, but these of themselves cannot be taken to mean that the time has come: it will not be immediately. We see that this sign also continues to our time. So in these things He simply cautioned them not to panic, and think because of these that the time had come.


(Verses 10 through 19) "Then said He unto them, Nation shall rise up against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and great earthquakes shall be in divers places, and famines, and pestilences; and fearful sights and great signs shall there be from heaven. But before all these, they shall lay their hands on you, and persecute you, delivering you up to the synagogues, and into prisons, being brought before kings and rulers for My name's sake. And it shall turn to you for a testimony. Settle it therefore in your hearts, not to meditate before what ye shall answer: for I will give you a mouth and wisdom, which all your adversaries shall not be able to gainsay nor resist. And ye shall be betrayed both by parents, and brethren, and kinsfolks, and friends; and some of you shall they cause to be put to death. And ye shall be hated of all men for My name's sake. But there shall not an hair of your head perish. In your patience possess ye your souls."


Our Lord is here continuing His answer to the questions asked in verse 7. Although it is not said here whether the questions were asked by one of the disciples, or by someone of the crowd, the language of both the questions and the answer seem to indicate that it was one of the disciples. All the things He mentions as taking place, except the "fearful sights and great signs _ _ _ from heaven," are only such as have been, more or less, common occurrences in the world in all ages; and He does not tell what these sights and signs are. However, it would have been of little consequence to them if He had. Because He tells them, "But before all these, they shall lay their hands on you, and persecute you _ _ _," indicating that His disciples would be so occupied with their persecutions that, they would not be much concerned about such things as these sights and signs. And, in fact, some of them would even be put to death before these would come to pass. So instead of describing these sights and signs, He instructs them concerning both what they may expect, and how to conduct themselves when they are persecuted. First of all, they are not to concern themselves about what nor how they shall answer those who accuse them, and bring them before the officials, but rely completely upon their Lord: for he will provide the proper answer at the right time. They will be betrayed by the very ones they hold dear. Some of them will be put to death, and they will be hated of all men for his name's sake. Some have tried to apply verse 17 to the Jews, but we shall see shortly that our Lord has something different to say about them. This applies to His disciples, and continues with them, as does verse 18, even to this day. In spite of the fact that His disciples are hated by all men, and some of them are put to death for the testimony of the Christ, He says to them, "But there shall not an hair of your head perish. In your patience possess ye your souls." This is why Paul could say, "For me to live is Christ, and to die is gain." (Philippians 1:21) If we die for the Lord, we do not perish, and therefore we are to "possess," or keep, our souls in patience, in spite of all persecutions that may come upon us.


(Verses 20 through 24) "And when ye shall see Jerusalem compassed with armies, then know that the desolation is nigh. Then let them which are in Jerusalem flee to the mountains: and let them which are in the midst of it depart out: and let not them that are in the countries enter thereinto. For these be the days of vengeance, that all things which are written may be fulfilled. But woe to them that are with child, and to them which give suck, in those days! for there shall be great distress in the land, and wrath upon this people. and they shall fall by the edge of the sword, and shall be led away captive into all nations: and Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the Gentiles, until the times of the gentiles be fulfilled."


Here Jesus gives the final, and unmistakable sign of the approach of the destruction of the temple and Jerusalem . "When ye shall see Jerusalem compassed with armies." When this took place, there would be no more hope for Jerusalem . Once the siege was set, there would be no drawing back. It would not only be destroyed, but would be in Gentile hands, "be trodden down of the Gentiles," until the beginning of the restoration of Israel , "until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled." This is a clear indication that we are living in the last days of Gentile world dominion. How fast, or how slowly, events will develop concerning the wars that will take place in those last days, is not ours to know, and neither should we attempt to guess at it, in the sense of trying to set the time for its completion. But it has already begun, almost fifty years ago. World events today seem to be developing the scenario for the great battle prophesied by Ezekiel in Chapters 38 and 39 of his prophecy.


(Verses 25 through 29) "And there shall be signs in the sun, and in the moon, and in the stars; and upon the earth distress of nations, with perplexity; the seas and the waves roaring: men's hearts failing them for fear, and for looking after those things which are coming on the earth: for the powers of heaven shall be shaken. And then shall they see the Son of man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. And when these things begin to come to pass, then look up, and lift up your heads; for your redemption draweth nigh."


Having answered the questions posed earlier, Jesus shifted the focus of His address from the destruction of Jerusalem to His return in glory, which, of course, will be after "the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled." Luke does not give so much detail of His coming in this address, as do Matthew and Mark. Having already given many of these details back in Chapter 17, he makes this very concise. Some attempt, as they do with all scriptures, to "spiritualize" these things, which we feel is a serious mistake. In verse 25 He says, "There shall be signs in the sun, and in the moon, and in the stars." There shall be unusual and noticeable movements, or changes in them. Upon the earth there shall be "distress of nations, with perplexity." Almost all Greek words have several equivalent English words into which they can be translated; but it is noteworthy that the only English equivalent given for "aporia," here translated "perplexity," is "perplexity," which, according to Webster, means, "the state of being perplexed, puzzled, or at a loss." As we listen to the news reports today, we readily see that every nation on earth is in distress of one sort or another; and the leaders, as well as the people, of every nation, are at a complete loss to know what to do, or which way to turn. Some nations are even engaged in civil war, decimating their populations; and with all their efforts and those of other world leaders, they can find no way to bring their wars to a peaceful resolution. The nations that are not engaged in civil war, are doing nothing but wrangling over what to do. That is the present condition of our own government, no one knows what to do, and no one wants to do any thing, except to point the finger of accusation at someone else. The next thing He mentions as taking place on earth is, "the sea and the waves roaring." We all know that what causes the sea and the waves to roar are violent storms. These have not yet become much, if any, more frequent than has been normal; but it will not be surprising if they do become so: "for the powers of heaven shall be shaken." This certainly does not mean that the power of God is shaken, or in any wise weakened, or is even threatened; but in this instance the word "heaven" has the same connotation as in Genesis 1:8, "And God called the firmament heaven." Scientists have long known that the heavenly bodies, such as the sun, moon, stars, planets, etc., have special influences upon things on earth. The moon exerts some control on the tides; and even the study of the weather is called "meteorology." Since there shall be signs or noticeable changes in the heavenly bodies, who can say what changes shall be in the weather, and how great, and how frequent may be the storms? When these things take place, men's hearts will be "failing them for fear." They will be so frightened that they will not be able to do anything, except look with dread upon what they think lies ahead of them, "those things which are coming on the earth.” The hearts of some may literally fail them, insomuch that they will be so frightened that they will die of heart attacks. "And then shall they see the Son of man coming in a cloud with great power and great glory." This is said concerning the unbelievers: for they are the ones who will be frightened when these things come to pass. But our Lord gives a totally different message to his disciples, "And when these things begin to come to pass, then look up, and lift up your heads; for your redemption draweth nigh." We do not have to wait until all these things have come to pass, but "when these things begin to come to pass," we are to look up, and lift up our heads, that is, cheer up, and be happy, because our redemption is near. In fact, according to the Apostle Paul, in his two Thessalonian letters, as well as according to Jesus himself, in Matthew, Chapter 25 and Luke, Chapter 17, we will already be taken away before all these things are finished. As we view the present conditions in the world, it seems that these things may already be beginning.


(Verses 29 through 33) "And he spake to them a parable; Behold the fig tree, and all the trees; when they now shoot forth, ye see and know of your own selves that summer is now nigh at hand. So likewise ye, when ye see these things come to pass, know ye that the kingdom of God is nigh at hand. Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass away, till all be fulfilled. Heaven and earth shall pass away: but My words shall not pass away."


This parable is certainly one which all can understand. When we see the trees bud and put forth their leaves, we know that summer is not yet here, but we also know that it will not be long before it arrives. That is exactly the relation between the beginning of these things, which He sets forth, and His return. One is just as sure as the other. Verse 32 seems to be confusing to some, because of a misunderstanding of the word, "generation." There are two principal schools of thought concerning this verse, and both are founded upon the same misunderstanding. Both consider the phrase, "this generation," as meaning the people of a particular time frame, as we often use the expressions, "the older generation," "the younger generation," "the present generation," etc. While it is possible to use it thus, the primary meaning of the Greek word "genea," which is translated "generation," is, "a begetting, a birth, a nativity, that which has been begotten, men of the same stock, a family, or a race." In this sense, it gives no difficulty at all, since Jesus was simply declaring that this race, the Jews, shall not pass away until all these things have been fulfilled. He says that both heaven and earth shall pass away, but His word shall not pass away.


(Verses 34 through 36) "And take heed to yourselves, lest at any time your hearts be overcharged with surfeiting and drunkenness, and cares of this life, and so that day come upon you unawares. For as a snare shall it come upon all them that dwell on the face of the whole earth. Watch ye therefore, and pray always, that ye may be accounted worthy to escape all these things that shall come to pass, and to stand before the Son of man."


Notice the division of the message in this quotation. Verses 34 and 36 are instructions to believers, while 35 deals with the unbelievers. In verse 34 Jesus tells us to take heed, lest we become enwrapped in the things of the world, and forget to watch for the approach of these things. There was among the twelve whom Jesus first sent forth, one who was "a devil," "the son of perdition." And Jude says, "For there are certain men crept in unawares, who were before of old ordained to this condemnation, ungodly men, turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness, and denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ." So we know that there will be some of the same in the last days, just as there are today; but Jesus said, (Matthew 7:17,) "Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit." With this background, we know that those among His disciples who are indeed His, will be kept by His power, and thus obey His warning, while those among them who are not, will ignore it, and yet He has left them without excuse: for they are warned. Because of this, the word order in the next two verses is highly important: "For as a snare shall it come on all them that dwell on the face of the whole earth." This clearly signifies that anyone, who is at that time living on the earth, will be caught in that snare, or that terrible outpouring of judgment. "Watch ye therefore, and pray always, that ye may be accounted worthy to escape all these things that shall come to pass, and to stand before the Son of man." Since they are coming upon "all them that dwell on the face of the whole earth," the only escape from them is to be taken from the earth. For a description of that taking away, see 1 Thessalonians 4:13-17. Let us pray always, that He will account us worthy to be thus taken away from these things. "So shall we ever be with the Lord." Only thus can we stand before Him.


(Verses 37 and 38) "And in the day time He was teaching in the temple; and at night He went out, and abode in the mount that is called the mount of Olives. And all the people came early in the morning to Him in the temple, for to hear Him."


From this we see the reality of what Jesus told one man who volunteered to follow Him wherever He might go: "The foxes have holes, and the fowls of the air have nests; but the Son of man hath not where to lay His head." It is true that He had some friends who lived in the little town of Bethany , just beyond the mount of Olives; but instead of staying with them at night, He, during this time, lived out in the open on the mount. He would come into the temple early each morning, and "all the people, that is," the common people, would gather to hear His teaching. The leaders did not come to hear him except when they were trying to find some fault with His doctrine.


Chapter 22

(Verses 1 through 6) "Now the feast of unleavened bread drew nigh, which is called the Passover. And the chief priests and scribes sought how they might kill him; for they feared the people. Then entered Satan into Judas surnamed Iscariot, being of the number of the twelve. And he went his way, and communed with the chief priests and captains, how he might betray Him unto them. And they were glad, and covenanted to give him money. And he promised, and sought opportunity to betray Him in the absence of the multitude."


The longer Jesus continued teaching the people, the more determined were the chief priests and the scribes to kill Him; but they were afraid to attempt anything in the presence of the multitude. That is why they had to do so much plotting in order to bring about what they wanted to do. As we follow the record, we see that, what they wanted to do was to get Him officially condemned by the high priest before the people were aware of what was being done. Then, since all the Jews had been taught that the high priest is God's official representative on earth, his condemnation of Jesus would hold the people in check while the sentence of death was being approved by the Roman governor. When Judas, led by Satan, came to them with his plan, this was exactly what they wanted. This was a day or two before the actual feast of the Passover. So when John says, (John 13:27 ,) "And after the sop Satan entered into him. Then said Jesus unto him, That thou doest, do quickly," this only means that Satan again moved him to go through with what he had already agreed to do; and Jesus told him that he must do it quickly. The plan had already been laid before that time.


When the day arrived for the paschal lamb to be killed, Jesus sent Peter and John to make ready the Passover. They wanted to know where He would have them prepare it; and He instructed them thus: "Behold, when ye are entered into the city, there shall a man meet you, bearing a pitcher of water; follow him into the house where he entereth in. And ye shall say unto the goodman of the house, The Master saith unto thee, Where is the guestchamber, where I shall eat the Passover with My disciples? And he shall shew you a large upper room furnished: there make ready. And they went, and found as He had said unto them: and they made ready the Passover." (Verses 10-13). This surely needs no explanation. It simply is another demonstration that Jesus, the Son of God, has all knowledge. The instructions He gave may have seemed strange, even to Peter and John, but they found all things exactly as Jesus had described them.


(Verses 14 through 16) "And when the hour was come, He sat down, and the twelve apostles with Him.  And he said unto them, With desire I have desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer.  For I say unto you, I will not any more eat thereof, until it be fulfilled in the kingdom of God ."


Not only was the Passover celebrated on a particular day, but even the hour of its beginning was set so there would be uniformity throughout Israel in its celebration. The time given for the beginning of the first Passover was "at even," which, of course, means the close of the day, and according to the usual count of hours of the day, would be six o'clock . The instructions given for the original Passover supper, were: "And thus shall ye eat it; with your loins girded, your shoes on your feet, and your staff in your hand; and ye shall eat it in haste." Though it is not so stated, one might think from this that, they would stand while eating this supper; but such seems not to be the case. As they sat down to the feast, Jesus told his disciples, "With desire I have desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer." Just the way this is translated seems a little strange, but the word which is translated, "desire," also means "craving or longing," so a little more natural translation might be, "With longing I have desired _ _ _." He knew that the time for His suffering was at hand, and He had a great longing to celebrate this Passover with them before that took place. He further says that, this will be His last participation in it, "until it be fulfilled in the kingdom of God ." This does not mean that this feast will be celebrated in the kingdom of God when it comes into its glory at the resurrection of the saints; but rather, He is the true Passover Lamb of Whom this whole feast, together with the passing over of the LORD in the first Passover is only a type. Now that type will be fulfilled in the kingdom of God by His being sacrificed for us in His crucifixion. That will truly fulfill this type.


(Verses 17 and 18) "And He took the cup, and gave thanks, and said, Take this, and divide it among yourselves: for I say unto you, I will not drink of the fruit of the vine, until the kingdom of God shall come."


John makes no mention of this supper, unless the passing reference to "supper," in John 13:2 and 13:4 can be considered such, and many commentators think this was a completely different occasion. Matthew and Mark record it, but neither of them say anything about the cup before supper, and neither does Paul mention it in his description of the Lord's Supper, in 1 Corinthians 11:23-29. So it is never included in the observance of the Lord's Supper. Concerning this cup, Jesus said to His disciples, "Take this, and divide it among yourselves: for I say unto you, I will not drink of the fruit of the vine, until the kingdom of God shall come." Just what the significance of this is may be a matter of controversy. But it appears to be His manner of telling His disciples that the time was at hand for His separating Himself from taking any part with them in activities of this world, as He was about to return to His Father.


(Verses 19 and 20) "And He took bread, and gave thanks, and brake it, and gave unto them, saying, This is My body which is given for you: this do in remembrance of Me. Likewise also the cup after supper, saying, This cup is the new testament in My blood, which is shed for you."


When Jesus said, "This is My body," He was speaking symbolically, that is, as Paul explains both the bread and the wine, in 1 Corinthians 10:16 , "The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not the communion of the blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not the communion of the body of Christ?" It is not the literal flesh of our Lord, but the communion of it. It is the symbol, which reminds us that He did suffer in the flesh, and lay down His life for us. Thus as our minds dwell upon His suffering, we by faith feed upon Him. In so doing, we are brought into a sweeter fellowship and communion with Him. In verse 20 the word translated, "testament," also means "covenant." So the sense is, "This is the seal, or mark of the new covenant which is based upon My blood as its authority." His blood is what validates the new covenant, and it now has been shed for us. Though at the time of his saying this, it actually had not yet been done, He could speak of it as an accomplished fact because with Him there could be no failure.


(Verses 21 through 23) "But, behold, the hand of him that betrayeth Me is with Me on the table. And truly the Son of man goeth as it was determined: but woe unto that man by whom He is betrayed! And they began to inquire among themselves, which of them it was that should do this thing."


Here our Lord makes the announcement that one of the twelve will betray Him. He then explains that all these things which He must suffer will be exactly as was predetermined; but that by no means lessens the responsibility of the man, by whom he is betrayed. This is a theme which recurs from time to time in the teachings of Jesus. The sovereignty of God in bringing things to pass according to His own purpose never removes or nullifies the responsibility of those who carry them out. Therefore "Woe unto that man by whom He is betrayed!"


(Verses 24 through 30) "And there was also a strife among them, which of them should be accounted the greatest. And He said unto them, The kings of the Gentiles exercise lordship over them; and they that exercise authority are called benefactors. But ye shall not be so: but he that is greatest among you, let him be as the younger; and he that is chief, as he that doth serve. For whether is greater, he that sitteth at meat, or he that serveth? is not he that sitteth at meat? but I am among you as he that serveth. Ye are they, which have continued with Me in My temptations. And I appoint unto you a kingdom, as My Father hath appointed unto Me; that ye may eat and drink at My table in My kingdom, and sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel ."


We see that even among the twelve who had been with Jesus throughout His ministry there were still the same feelings, ambitions, and emotions, that are common to all men: even now they were arguing about who among them should be considered the greatest. To set them on the right track, Jesus first says, "The kings of the nations ("Nation" is another accepted meaning for the Greek word "ethnos," and fits the context better than "Gentiles," because the Jews did the same;) exercise lordship over them, and they that exercise authority upon them are called benefactors." This is the way of the world: it is universal with man. Nevertheless, the kingdom of God does not operate on this plan. In fact, it is directly opposite from that. As He continues his speech, we see that there is one principle, which governs both the kingdoms of the world and the kingdom of God , though they are complete opposites. In the worldly kingdoms the self-exalted and arrogant are usually the kings and leaders of the nations, and they who are most like their leaders are usually promoted to positions of greatness. In the kingdom of God , the King made Himself the most servile of all, even taking the sins of every one of his subjects upon himself, and dying in their stead; and those most like Him shall be the greatest. So the principle, by which greatness is judged in both the kingdom of God , and the kingdoms of the world, is: “He that is most like his King shall be greatest.” Jesus further declared that, to these who had accompanied him in His ministry and trials is appointed a kingdom, as the Father has appointed to Him a kingdom. The purpose of this is twofold: "That ye may eat and drink at My table in My kingdom, AND sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel ." This promise was not made to all His disciples, but only to the apostles.


(Verses 31 and 32) "And the Lord said, Simon, Simon, behold, Satan hath desired thee that he may sift thee as wheat: but I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not: and when thou art converted, strengthen the brethren."


Obviously this address was to one person only, Simon Peter. The real purpose of it is not clear until a little later. Jesus was telling Simon, not only that Satan wanted to get hold of him and "sift him as wheat, but that he indeed would do so. The word translated "sift" means "to agitate as in a sieve," and its metaphoric use simply means to severely try one's faith. Though Satan was going to put Peter to the test, Jesus said, "But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not, and when thou art converted, strengthen the brethren." Since we have no way of reading the hearts of men, we may not know absolutely what Jesus meant when He said, "When thou art converted, strengthen the brethren; but Jesus knew that Peter was afflicted with "I" trouble. He had demonstrated that before, when he undertook to rebuke Jesus for telling them that He must be betrayed, abused by the authorities, and crucified. At that time Jesus had to rebuke him very sharply. Peter's statement at that time showed that he thought himself able to prevent those things from taking place. And as we shall see in the next two verses, even at this time, Peter felt that he was able to do anything that was necessary, even to going to prison, or dying with Jesus, if need be. When you, I, or anyone else, is of that mind, we have the most serious "I" trouble possible: We are thinking, "I can do what is necessary," and forgetting that of myself, I can do nothing. In that condition, we not only cannot strengthen the brethren, but will, on the contrary, weaken them when the showdown comes; for we, like Peter, will fail; and our failure will weaken those who depended upon us. After Peter experienced the very thing of which Jesus told him in verse 34, he was converted from this dependence upon himself to leaning upon the power of God. He then was able to strengthen the brethren.


(Verses 33 and 34) "And he said unto Him, I am ready to go with Thee, both into prison, and to death. And He said, I tell thee, Peter, the cock shall not crow this day, before that thou shalt thrice deny that thou knowest Me."


This clarifies what we have already discussed. Peter's arrogance shows in his statement, "I am ready _ _ _." His resolve was made, and nothing, not even prison, or death, could stop him, or so he thought; but Jesus knew the weakness of the flesh, and the lack of reliability in the human will. He declared to Peter that before that night should pass, he would prove himself a coward, and three times deny that he even knew Jesus. This is no reason to judge Peter harshly: for we would do no better. Our only hope of standing is to rely upon the power of God, and not upon ourselves.


(Verses 35 through 38) "And He said unto them, When I sent you without purse, and scrip, and shoes, lacked ye anything? And they said, Nothing. Then said he unto them, But now, he that hath a purse, let him take it, and likewise his scrip; and he that hath no sword, let him sell his garment, and buy one. For I say unto you, that this that is written must yet be accomplished in Me, And He was reckoned among the transgressors: for the things concerning Me have an end. And they said, Lord, behold, here are two swords. And he said, It is enough."


When Jesus sent forth the apostles to preach the kingdom of God to "the lost sheep of the house of Israel , He ordered them to go without purse, scrip, or extra shoes. He now asked them if at that time they ever found themselves in need of anything; and their answer was, "Nothing." Then his next statement seems somewhat strange. "But now, he that hath a purse, let him take it, and likewise his scrip: and he that hath no sword, let him sell his garment, and buy one." Surely, He is not instructing them to prepare themselves to go from henceforth ready to fight with carnal weapons. That would be counter to all His teaching. What then is He saying? Let us take verse 38 ahead of verse 37. He has, in verse 36, instructed the apostles that they must have swords, even if it takes selling their cloaks in order to buy them. In verse 38, we are told, "And they said, Lord, behold, here are two swords. And he said unto them, It is enough." For what purpose are two swords enough, when He has already said, "He that hath no sword, let him sell his garment, and buy one?" The answer is in His first statement in verse 37, "For I say unto you, that this that is written must yet be accomplished in Me, ‘And He was reckoned among the transgressors.’" If there were not a sword among them when He was arrested, there could be no excuse for Him to be reckoned as such. Any band of transgressors (thieves or robbers) would surely have swords.  In this case, two would be sufficient. "For the things concerning Me have an end." He is simply saying that this is to be the end of his earthly mission.


(Verses 39 through 46) "And He came out, and went, as he was wont, to the Mount of Olives ; and His disciples followed Him. And when He was at the place, He said unto them, Pray that ye enter not into temptation. And He was withdrawn from them about a stone's cast, and kneeled down, and prayed, saying, Father, if Thou be willing, remove this cup from Me: nevertheless not My will, but Thine be done. And there appeared an angel unto him from heaven, strengthening Him. And being in an agony He prayed more earnestly: and His sweat was as it were great drops of blood falling down to the ground, And when he rose up from prayer, and was come to His disciples, He found them sleeping for sorrow, and He said unto them, Why sleep ye? rise and pray, lest ye enter into temptation."


This account is simple and straightforward enough that it should need little, if any, explanation. Yet there are a few things about it that should be mentioned. As is true about other events that are recorded by more than one of the writers, Luke's account varies slightly from some of the others, but the basic facts are the same. Jesus left His disciples at one point, and withdrew a little distance from them that he might be alone while praying to the Father. Some seem to get the idea, as they read His prayer, that It was not heard, or at least, was not answered by the Father, but what they fail to recognize is that in that short sentence, there are two prayers. He did indeed ask that, if the Father was willing, this cup of suffering might be removed from him; but He immediately added, "Nevertheless not My will but Thine be done." One might think that this is just a simple expression of, "If You are not willing to remove this cup, I will be reconciled to your will." However, it is somewhat stronger than that. He is indeed praying that the Father's will be done; and in John 6:38 -40 He tells us what the Father's will is. He being both man and God, the man prayed that, if the work could be done any other way, let the suffering be removed, while as the divine Son of God He yet prayed that the purpose for which He came into the world be done, whatever the cost. This is the only scene in scripture of an angel appearing for the purpose of strengthening Him, which of itself shows how great was His agony at the time. Some have tried to make the expression, "And his sweat was as it were great drops of blood falling down to the ground," to be somewhat less serious than what it really is. They insist that the phrase, "as it were," indicates that He did not actually sweat blood, but only that His sweat beaded up in great drops as blood might do. Rather the statement is designed to show that the blood came through the pores of the skin with His sweat, and was so mixed with His sweat that it all appeared to be blood. While this is an uncommon occurrence, it is not totally unique: for a few others have been recorded as sweating blood because of the great agony they experienced. Returning to His disciples Jesus found them asleep. Even then He only admonished them mildly, "Why sleep ye? Rise and pray, lest ye enter into temptation."


(Verses 47 through 51) "And while He yet spake, behold, a multitude, and he that was called Judas, one of the twelve, went before them, and drew near unto Jesus to kiss Him. But Jesus said unto him, Judas, betrayest thou the Son of man with a kiss? When they which were about Him saw what would follow, they said unto Him, Lord, shall we smite with the sword? And one of them smote the servant of the high priest, and cut off his right ear. And Jesus answered and said, Suffer ye thus far. And He touched his ear, and healed it."


Luke tells us at the beginning of this chapter that Judas had gone to the chief priests and captains, and had agreed to betray Jesus into their hands; and he makes no further mention of his activities, until the present text. However, John tells of his leaving from the supper, and going to set up the final details of the betrayal. In the present text we find him coming with a multitude to arrest Jesus. He led the way, and approached Jesus to kiss Him, as the pre-set way of identifying Him to the multitude. (See Matthew 26:48.) One might assume from Luke's account, that Jesus did not permit Judas to kiss Him; but both Matthew and Mark say that he did kiss Him. John tells us that Peter was the one who cut off the right ear of Malchus, the servant of the high priest. As the disciples saw what was taking place, they asked if they should use the swords they had brought; and Peter, without waiting for an answer, struck Malchus and cut off his ear. However, Jesus commanded them, "Suffer ye thus far." Then He touched the ear of Malchus and healed it. This shows conclusively that His purpose in having them bring swords was not that they were to use them, but only that they might give the people an excuse for counting Him among the transgressors.


(Verses 52 and 53) "Then Jesus said unto the chief priests, and captains of the temple, and elders, which were come to Him, Be ye come out, as against a thief, with swords and staves?  When I was daily with you in the temple, ye stretched forth no hands against Me: but this is your hour, and the power of darkness."


According to some of the other writers, this multitude was made up chiefly of rabble, along with some of the temple guards. But with them were the chief priests, (not the high priest, but other very influential priests,) captains of the temple guard, and elders of the Jews, all of whom had been acquainted with Jesus, as he taught in the temple. He asked them, "Be ye come out, as against a thief, with swords and staves?" Surely they knew Him well enough that they had no need for such; but we must remember the prophecy, "And He was reckoned among the transgressors." He then reminded them that He was daily with them as He taught in the temple, and they made no effort to arrest Him; but His next statement gives the answer to the situation: "but this is your hour, and the power of darkness." Thus He declares to them that the reason they are now able to do this is that this is the time that was appointed of the Father that He should yield to them and to the power of darkness; not meaning that it is just under the cover of the darkness of night, but that for the sake of bringing to pass that for which He came into the world, He is now yielding Himself into the power of Satan, the prince of darkness.


Verses 54 through 62 tell of the arrest of Jesus, and subsequent activities through Peter's three denials that he even knew Jesus. They need no explanation, but we should give careful attention to verses 61 and 62. "And the Lord turned, and looked upon Peter. And Peter remembered the word of the Lord, how He had said unto him, Before the cock crow, thou shalt deny Me thrice. And Peter went out and wept bitterly." We remember that earlier, Peter, in his rash arrogance, had declared himself ready to go with Jesus to prison, or even to death, and in that same night he has already denied Him three times, just as Jesus told him that he would. When the cock crowed, and Jesus looked at Peter, he was reminded of the earlier conversation. Here he was brought to repentance; and he went outside into the darkness, and wept bitterly. This is what Jesus was referring to when He said, "When thou art converted, strengthen the brethren." We find no other recorded instance of his denying our Lord. We do, however, find instances of his accusing the Jews to their faces of being the murderers of the Christ.


(Verses 63 through 65) "And the men that held Jesus, mocked Him, and smote Him. And when they had blindfolded Him, they struck Him on the face, and asked Him, saying, Prophesy, who is it that smote Thee? And many other things blasphemously spake they against Him."


Notice particularly that this was while they were still at the house of the high priest, while it was yet night. They were already heaping upon Jesus not only mockery, and what people today call psychological abuse, but very strong physical abuse also. When Luke says, they "mocked Him, and smote Him," nothing is said about where the blows landed, whether on body or head, but after they blindfolded Him, they began beating Him in the face. Along with this beating, they were heaping upon Him verbal abuse.


(Verses 66 through 71) "And as soon as it was day, the elders of the people and the chief priests and the scribes came together, and led him into the council, saying, Art Thou the Christ? tell us. And He said unto them, If I tell you, ye will not believe: and if I also ask you, ye will not answer Me, nor let Me go. Hereafter shall ye see the Son of man sit on the right hand of the power of God. Then said they all, Art Thou then the Son of God? And He said unto them, Ye say that I am. And they said, What need we any further witness? for we have heard of His own mouth."


We do not know at exactly what time Jesus was arrested, nor at what time the abuse and beatings of Him began. Although Luke does not mention the latter until after his account of Peter's denial and repentance, he does not insist that the chronology of the matter followed that order. The beatings and other abuse continued until day, at which time the council of the chief priests, scribes, and elders, was convened, and Jesus was brought before them. When they asked Him, "Art Thou the Son of God?" they were not seeking the truth, but only trying to get some statement that they could use as an excuse to accuse Him of blasphemy. His answer to their question of "Art Thou the Son of God?" may at first glance appear to be simply a statement that they had said that He was the Son of God; but the original language carries the idea that we would express as, "You've said it. I am," and this is the basis of their declaration, "What need we further witness? for we have heard of his own mouth." They considered it to be blasphemy when He said, "I am."



Chapter 23

(Verses 1 through 7) "And the whole multitude of them arose, and led Him unto Pilate. And they began to accuse him, saying, We found this fellow perverting the nation, and forbidding to give tribute to Caesar, saying that He Himself is Christ a King. And Pilate asked Him, saying, Art Thou the king of the Jews? And He answered him and said, Thou sayest it. Then Pilate said to the chief priests and to the people, I find no fault in this man. And they were the more fierce, saying He stirreth up the people throughout all Jewry, beginning from Galilee to this place. When Pilate heard of Galilee , he asked whether the man were a Galilaean. And as soon as he knew that He belonged to Herod's jurisdiction, he sent Him to Herod, who himself also was at Jerusalem at that time."


Here we see just how anxious the Jewish leaders were to destroy Jesus. As soon as he had answered them as he had in verse 70 of the preceding chapter, they rushed him away to the judgment hall of Pilate, the Roman governor, and immediately began to make false accusations against Him. To see just how false were those accusations, one has only to look back at Chapter 20, verse 25, and compare it with verse 2 of the present chapter. When Pilate asked Jesus if He was the king of the Jews, He gave the same answer He had given the council, when asked if He was the Son of God. At this answer, Pilate's response was exactly opposite from that of the council; and he said to the Jews, "I find no fault in this man." This only angered the Jews even more. When Pilate had ascertained that Jesus was from Galilee, he, probably hoping to have Herod, who was tetrarch of Galilee and was now in Jerusalem , take over the case, sent Him to Herod.


(Verses 8 through 12) "And when Herod saw Jesus, he was exceeding glad: for he was desirous to see Him of long season, because he had heard many things of Him; and he hoped to have seen some miracle done by Him. Then he questioned with Him in many words; but He answered him nothing. And the chief priests and scribes stood and vehemently accused Him. And Herod with his men of war set Him at naught, and mocked Him, and arrayed Him in a gorgeous robe and sent Him again to Pilate. And the same day Pilate and Herod were made friends together: for before they were at enmity between themselves."


No one need think for a moment that love for Jesus was the cause of Herod's great joy in seeing Him. In Luke 13:31-32 we find what they thought of each other at that time; and in the remainder of the present text, we see that this had not changed. Herod did not believe in Jesus as the Christ, but he had heard so much about His miracles that he hoped to have Him work a miracle for his personal entertainment. However, though he asked Jesus many questions, he received no answers at all. Then, showing his real colors, he and his soldiers made a great mockery of pretending to honor Him as king, even to the extent of clothing Him in a gorgeous robe, when they sent Him back to Pilate. Luke says nothing about any physical abuse, which may have been inflicted upon Jesus while he was in the hands of Herod, but one can be sure that he was not handled gently. This whole episode seems to have been the thing, which developed friendship between Herod and Pilate, who had heretofore been against each other.


(Verses 13 through 25) "And Pilate, when he had called together the chief priests and the rulers and the people, said unto them, Ye have brought this man unto me as one that perverteth the people: and, behold, I, having examined him before you, have found no fault in the man touching those things whereof ye accuse him: no, nor yet Herod: for I sent you to him; and, lo, nothing worthy of death is done unto him. I will therefore chastise him, and release him. (For of necessity he must release one unto them at the feast.) And they cried out all at once, saying, Away with this man, and release unto us Barabbas: (who for a certain sedition made in the city, and for murder, was cast into prison.) Pilate therefore willing to release Jesus, spake again unto them. But they cried, saying, Crucify Him, crucify Him. And he said unto them the third time, Why, what evil hath He done? I have found no cause of death in Him: I will therefore chastise Him, and let him go. And they were instant with loud voices, requiring that He might be crucified. And the voices of them and of the chief priests prevailed. And Pilate gave sentence that it should be as they required. And he released unto them him that for sedition and murder was cast into prison, whom they had desired; but he delivered Jesus to their will."


This is a strange situation indeed. It also shows us something of Pilate's character. He was wise enough to recognize the motive behind the false accusations of the Jews against Jesus, and he was honest enough to tell them, that their charges were false and without any evidence. Yet as we follow the record, we find him to be so weak that he was willing to order the execution of a man whom he knew to be innocent, just for the sake of political expediency. This is most likely the only case on record, in which the judge declared the accused to be innocent, and at the same time ordered him executed. No doubt many innocent persons have been ordered executed; but not when the judge has publicly declared them innocent. So Jesus was committed to the soldiers who made up the execution squad.


(Verse 26) "And as they led Him away, they laid hold upon one Simon, a Cyrenian, coming out of the country, and on him they laid the cross, that he might bear it after Jesus."


In this account Luke has passed over some details which are recorded by Matthew, Mark, and John. We called attention earlier to the fact that the beating of Jesus began before daylight, at the house of the high priest, and as we study the other accounts, we find that He was both beaten and scourged before and after He was ordered crucified. The custom of the Romans was to force the condemned to bear his cross from the judgment hall where his sentence was pronounced, to the place of execution. John tells us that, at least, Jesus started forth, according to this custom, bearing His cross. All three of the other writers declare that the soldiers took this Simon, the Cyrenian, and made him bear the cross. From this we are brought to the conclusion that, Jesus was so weakened from the beatings and scourgings He had received, that He was physically unable to carry the cross. And as He, possibly, fell under its weight, the soldiers laid hands on the first stranger they saw, and that stranger was Simon of Cyrene.


(Verses 27 through 31) "And there followed Him a great company of people, and of women, which also bewailed and lamented Him. But Jesus turning unto them said, Daughters of Jerusalem, weep not for Me, but weep for yourselves and your children. For, behold, the days are coming, in the which they shall say, Blessed are the barren, and the wombs that never bare, and the paps which never gave suck. Then shall they begin to say to the mountains, Fall on us: and to the hills, Cover us. For if they do these things in a green tree, what shall be done in the dry?"


Jesus' message to these women who were making such a lament for Him is just as important for us today, as it was for them. He knew that His suffering, though severe, would soon be past, and He would be with His father. Therefore there was no need to weep for Him. At the same time, not only those women, but also all, who remain on earth have the potential for much prolonged suffering. The time is coming when those who have no children, and who never had any children, will be happier than those who have, not for the reason the world is advocating today, "their freedom of choice;" but because those who have no children will be spared the sorrow of seeing the terrible suffering of those children. The time is yet to come, when men shall cry to the rocks and mountains, "Fall on us, and hide us from the face of Him that sitteth on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb: for the great day of His wrath is come; and who shall be able to stand. (Revelation 6:16-17.) In verse 31 Jesus says, "For if they do these things in a green tree, what shall be done in the dry?" Thus He points out that this world is not going to "be won to Christ," as some try to tell us, but, on the contrary, it will get worse and worse, until He returns, and brings judgment upon it. He was present in the world at that time, and His presence is the "green tree," of which He speaks; and they were taking Him to the place of execution. With their being thus bold with their wickedness in His presence, to what lengths will they go in His absence, "the dry tree."


(Verses 32 and 33) "And there were also two other, malefactors, led with Him to be put to death. And when they were come to the place, which is called Calvary , there they crucified Him, and the malefactors, one on the right hand, and the other on the left."


Here we see the further fulfilling of Isaiah's prophecy, "And He was numbered with the transgressors:" because they brought forth these two evildoers, and crucified Him between them. It is really amazing how closely, even to the smallest detail, all things concerning His death fulfilled the prophecies given long before. Yet men, after reading both the prophecies and the record of their being fulfilled, still do not believe! The only reason one can give for this is that their eyes and their understanding have been closed. Only when God opens them can men understand and believe.


(Verse 34) "Then said Jesus, Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do. And they parted His raiment, and cast lots."


Here is the example of examples set by our Lord for every believer. While hanging, nailed to the cross He prayed to the Father for the very ones who crucified Him, "Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do." There has been a great deal of debate about this. Some contend that, since He prayed for them, these people are forgiven, while others take a different view of the matter. While we certainly do not know whether or not they were at some time forgiven, we do know that at the time of this incident they showed no signs of being forgiven. From the standpoint of divine forgiveness, Jesus had no need to pray to the Father to forgive them: He simply could have spoken forgiveness to them, as he did to the paralytic in Luke 5:18-25: because "the Son of man hath power upon earth to forgive sin." Whether or not the sins of those who crucified our Lord were forgiven, is really none of our business. The real lesson for us is that, just as He had taught men to pray for them that despitefully use us, so He Himself did, as an example that we are to follow. Yet even as He prayed for them, these men divided His few articles of clothing among themselves, casting lots for His coat.


(Verses 35 through 38) "And the people stood beholding. And the rulers also with them derided Him, saying, He saved others; let Him save Himself, if He be the Christ, the Chosen of God. And the soldiers mocked Him, coming to Him, and offering Him vinegar, and saying, If Thou be the King of the Jews, save Thyself. And a superscription also was written over Him in letters of Greek, and Latin, and Hebrew, THIS IS THE KING OF THE JEWS."


Surely there were some of Jesus' followers who came to witness His crucifixion, but the clause, "And the people stood beholding," refers primarily to the unbelieving crowd who were gathered to watch the crucifixion for their own entertainment. This is made clear by the statement, "the rulers also with them derided Him." This, His followers would never have done, To this crowd, watching someone die was considered a great sport. It was not unheard of for men to stand by, and make bets as to how long it would take for one to die. So the rulers and the crowd ridiculed Him, as did also the soldiers. When the soldiers offered Him vinegar, they were unwittingly fulfilling the prophecy of Psalms 69:21."They gave Me gall for My meat, and in My thirst they gave Me vinegar to drink." Luke does not say so, but Matthew tells us that the vinegar was mixed with gall, while Mark says it was mixed with myrrh, both of which (gall and myrrh) are very bitter. Some have said that the gall was intended also to dull the pain; but from the action of the soldiers, one would think them to have been very little concerned about alleviating pain. According to Luke's account the sign that was placed above Jesus said, "THIS IS THE KING OF THE JEWS," and it was written in all three of the languages most common in the area, Greek, Latin, and Hebrew. The wording given by the other writers is slightly different, but the differences are only such as one would expect from witnesses drawing upon perhaps a thirty or forty year old memory.


(Verses 39 through 43) "And one of the malefactors which were hanged railed on Him, saying, If Thou be the Christ, save Thyself and us. But the other answering rebuked him, saying, Dost thou not fear God, seeing we are in the same condemnation? And we indeed justly; for we receive the due reward of our deeds: but this man hath done nothing amiss. And he said unto Jesus, Lord, remember me when Thou comest into Thy kingdom. And Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, Today shalt thou be with Me in Paradise ."


Before commenting upon the sense of this text, let us take notice of a point which some might think insignificant. Before "Christ," in verses 35 and 39, the translators omitted "the," which is in the Greek, and which should always be included, except when "Christ" is followed by "Jesus," because Christ is not a name, but a title. We have in both places included the definite article as it is in the Greek text. In what we recognize as "The Bible" this is the only account of this incident. There is an ancient writing called The Gospel Of Nicodemus, and said to have been written by Nicodemus, in which this account is also given, and in more detail than here. It even tells the names of the two malefactors who were crucified with Jesus, and which was on the right and which on the left. However, since this is not pertinent to Luke's account, we shall pass it by. Even in the very experience of dying, one of these evildoers railed on Jesus, and demanded that He prove Himself by coming down from the cross, and bringing the two thieves with Him. The other, in the time of the same experience, was blessed of God with repentance from his evil life, and given faith in Jesus, the Christ. This is one of the strongest illustrations of the sovereignty of God in the salvation of sinners that is given in scripture. From a human standpoint, both of these men appear to be equal. According to the doctrine of the world, both had "the same chance." Both were evildoers; both knew they were guilty; both heard the taunts of the crowd against Jesus; both saw His meekness; and both were dying and knew this was their "last chance." One joined the crowd in deriding Jesus, while the other was brought to repentance, even to the point of rebuking his fellow malefactor for his impiety, and was made to pray, "Lord, remember me when Thou comest into Thy kingdom." Why? The answer is very simple. God is sovereign in the choice and calling of His elect. How comforting must have been the answer Jesus gave him! "Verily I say unto thee, Today shalt thou be with Me in Paradise ."


(Verses 44 through 46) "And it was about the sixth hour, and there was a darkness over all the earth until the ninth hour. And the sun was darkened, and the veil of the temple was rent in the midst. And when Jesus had cried with a loud voice, He said, Father into Thy hands I commend My Spirit: and having said thus, He gave up the ghost."


The Greek word "ge," translated "earth" in verse 44, though it can mean "earth," it can, and often does mean "land;" and the phrase "all the land," usually means "all the surrounding area," or "all the country," not "the whole world." In the records of both Matthew and Mark the same word is translated "land;" and this seems to be what Luke had in mind also. Whether the darkness extended to the entire world or not is of little consequence. It did cover the entire area in connection with this event. This lasted for three hours, which, if the time given is according to the Roman clock, which it most likely is, since the execution was carried out by Romans, it was from about noon to about three o'clock in the afternoon. Matthew also records that at this time there was an earthquake. Now, at some point in this time frame Jesus cried with a loud voice, and then said, "Father, into Thy hands I commend My Spirit." Then He very quietly died. We sometimes think of "commend" as meaning about the same as "recommend;" but the word thus translated here means, "place or entrust." So we see that giving up His life into the hands of the Father was a voluntary action on the part of Jesus. He placed His Spirit in the hands of the Father, and laid down His life that he might take it up again.


(Verses 47 through 49) "Now when the centurion saw what was done, he glorified God, saying, Certainly this was a righteous man. And all the people that came together to that sight, beholding the things, which were done, smote on their breasts, and returned. And all His acquaintance, and the women that followed Him from Galilee , stood afar off, beholding these things."


There are three very noteworthy things set forth in this text. First, the centurion who was in charge of the execution squad is, probably, the last man of the whole crowd one would expect to be affected in any wise by the events of the day. He was, as signified by his title, a Roman soldier who had arisen through the ranks to a position of being in command of a hundred soldiers; which indicates that he was experienced in warfare, with all its terrible scenes. And, likely, this was not his first crucifixion to carry out. Yet when he saw the things which took place here, a strange change came over him. "He glorified God, saying, Certainly this was a righteous man." Matthew records it this way: "Now when the centurion, and they that were with him, watching Jesus, saw the earthquake, and those things that were done; they feared greatly, saying, Truly This was the Son of God." So, according to Matthew, not only the centurion, but also the soldiers ("they that were with him") gave the same testimony. Next we consider "all the people that came together to the sight," those who came just for the "sport" of seeing a crucifixion. They had been taunting and mocking Jesus; but now, as they saw those things, which took place, the mood changed. They smote their breasts," the sign of great sorrow, or of the great dread of impending woe. As they returned to their own places the merriment was all gone. Then there are the others, those who followed Him from Galilee , including His acquaintance, as well as some women who followed along with Him. (We, in speaking of a crowd of people, would make no distinction between them and the women who were in the crowd, but this was a normal manner of speaking in that time and place.) These all stood at some distance away, possibly, afraid of the multitude; but nevertheless watching what was done.


(Verses 50 through 54) "And, behold, there was a man named Joseph, a counselor; and he was a good man, and a just: (the same had not consented to the counsel and deed of them;) he was of Arimathaea, a city of the Jews: who also himself waited for the kingdom of God . This man went unto Pilate, and begged the body of Jesus. And he took it down, and wrapped it in linen, and laid it in a sepulchre that was hewn in stone, wherein never man before was laid. And that day was the preparation, and the Sabbath drew on.


John tells us that Nicodemus helped Joseph in the work of taking Jesus down from the cross and placing Him in the tomb; and Matthew says that this sepulchre in which they placed Jesus was the property of Joseph, "which he had hewn out in the rock." Since the Jewish manner of counting time was that a day begins at sunset, they were rushed for time, because this was late in the afternoon, and the next day was the Sabbath. Therefore they did not do all that they intended for the body when they placed it in the tomb.


(Verses 55 and 56) "And the women also, which came with Him from Galilee , followed after, and beheld the sepulchre, and how the body was laid. And they returned, and prepared spices and ointments; and rested the Sabbath day according to the commandment."


After making sure of where the body was laid, the women went back to where they were staying, and prepared the spices and ointments they intended to use on the body. Then, because it was the Sabbath, they rested according to God's commandment.


Chapter 24

(Verses 1 through 9) "Now upon the first day of the week, very early in the morning, they came unto the sepulchre, bringing the spices which they had prepared, and certain others with them. And they found the stone rolled away from the sepulchre. And they entered in, and found not the body of the Lord Jesus. And it came to pass, as they were much perplexed thereabout, behold, two men stood by them in shining garments: and as they were afraid, and bowed down their faces to the earth, they said unto them, Why seek ye the living among the dead? He is not here, but is risen: remember how He spake unto you while he was yet in Galilee , saying, The Son of man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, and be crucified, and the third day rise again. And they remembered His words, and returned from the sepulchre, and told all these things unto the eleven, and to all the rest."


This surely needs no explanation, but the message given to the women by the men in shining garments must have brought great joy to the hearts of these women; and even today it thrills the soul of every believer, "Why seek ye the living among the dead? He is not here, but is risen." That is the foundation of the hope of every Christian. He says, in Revelation 1:18 , "I am He that liveth, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive for evermore, Amen; and have the keys of hell and of death."


(Verses 10 through 12) "It was Mary Magdalene, and Joanna, and Mary the mother of James, and other women that were with them, which told these things unto the apostles. And their words seemed to them as idle tales, and they believed them not. Then arose Peter, and ran unto the sepulchre; and stooping down, he beheld the linen clothes laid by themselves, and departed, wondering in himself at that which was come to pass."


We surely cannot afford to find too much fault with Peter and the other apostles for not believing the report the women brought to them. Here was something, which had never occurred in the history of man. While it is true that when questioned, all the apostles acknowledged Jesus as the Christ, the Son of God, they still, perhaps, because of their close association with Him, usually thought of Him as a man, and forgot that he is also God. This man, with whom they had traveled for three years, had been put to death. This they knew, because they had witnessed it. Now these women had come to them, saying that, He was not in the tomb, and someone had told them that he had arisen, and was alive. This was too much. So Peter ran to the tomb to see for himself. When he reached the sepulchre, all he saw was the linen clothes laid by themselves. Surely he was overwhelmed. He had nothing to say, but he left the tomb, wondering about all these things which had taken place.


Verses 13 through 35 are the account of an experience of Cleopas and his companion, disciples of Jesus. we shall not quote the account verbatim, but may quote excerpts from it. These two disciples went from Jerusalem to a little village called Emmaus on the same day the women had gone to the tomb. Naturally, as they walked along they discussed the events of the past few days, and were very much saddened by the memory of them. Jesus approached them, but He did not reveal himself to them. They thought Him a stranger. Noticing their sadness He asked, "What manner of communications are these that ye have one to another, as ye walk, and are sad?" Cleopas then answered Him, "Art Thou a stranger in Jerusalem , and hast not known the things, which are come to pass there in these days?" Jesus asked, "What things?" So they began to tell the story of the arrest, trial, condemnation, and crucifixion of Jesus. The statement they made as they finished telling of His crucifixion shows just how badly they needed to be reminded of what Jesus had told them in the same night He was arrested, and only shortly before that was done. See John, Chapters 14, 15, and 16. They said, "But we trusted that it had been He which should have redeemed Israel ." The fact that they said, "We trusted," signifies that they no longer had any hope of His doing anything. In their minds at that moment He was dead, and completely out of the whole matter. Their spirits were so low that even the report of the women who told them that they "had also seen a vision of angels, which said that He was alive," although it astonished them to hear such, could not revive their hopes, nor cause them to believe. Further, those who went to check on the report found all things in the sepulchre just as reported, but saw nothing of Jesus.


At this point Jesus said to Cleopas and his companion, "O fools, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken. Ought not the Christ to have suffered these things, and to enter into His glory?" From the earliest prophecy of the Christ through all the prophecies, and even in His own teachings, this theme runs continuously; and yet the disciples had never realized that so it must be. Now this, as they thought, stranger, reminds them of it, and reprimands them for having no understanding, and for being "slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken." "And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, He expounded unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning Himself." He did all this without their even suspecting Who He was.


Since they are self-explanatory, let us, with little comment, quote verses 28 through 35. "And they drew nigh unto the village, whither they went: and He made as though He would have gone farther. But they constrained Him, saying, Abide with us: for it is toward evening, and the day is far spent. And He went in to tarry with them. And it came to pass, as He sat at meat with them, He took bread, and blessed it, and brake, and gave to them. And their eyes were opened, and they knew Him; and he vanished out of their sight. And they said one to another, Did not our hearts burn within us, while He talked with us by the way, and opened to us the scriptures? And they rose up the same hour, and returned to Jerusalem , and found the eleven gathered together, and them that were with them, saying, The Lord is risen indeed, and hath appeared to Simon. And they told what things were done in the way, and how He was known of them in breaking of bread."


The Emmaus Road experience is one that, metaphorically, is often the lot of the Christian. While passing through a time of sorrow or stress, we may not recognize our Lord as He walks with us, and brings to our minds the things pertaining to Himself; and only afterward are we made to know that it was He Who communed with us through that difficult time.


(Verses 36 through 40) "And as they thus spake, Jesus Himself stood in the midst of them, and saith unto them, Peace be with you. But they were terrified and affrighted, and supposed that they had seen a spirit. And he said unto them, Why are ye troubled? And why do thoughts arise in your hearts? Behold My hands and My feet, that it is I Myself: handle Me, and see; for a spirit hath not flesh and bones, as ye see Me have. And when He had thus spoken, He shewed them His hands and His feet."


We might think that after the women saw and reported the vision of the two men and their message, and Jesus had been seen by Peter, and by Cleopas and his companion, all the disciples would readily receive Jesus when He appeared. But this was not the case, even when His greeting to them was, "peace be with you," which is the equivalent of "Be not afraid." They were very much afraid, and thought Him to be a spirit (or ghost). He very carefully explained to them that a spirit does not have flesh and bones as He did, and as further proof that He was really Jesus, He showed them His hands and His feet.


(Verses 41 through 44) "And while they yet believed not for joy, and wondered, He said unto them, Have ye here any meat? And they gave Him a piece of broiled fish, and an honeycomb. And He took it, and did eat before them. And he said, These are the words which I spake unto you, while I was yet with you, that all things must be fulfilled, which were written in the law of Moses, and in the prophets, and in the Psalms, concerning Me."


They, though overjoyed at His Presence, could hardly believe that it was He. So, to reassure them, He asked for food, and ate it before them. Then He reminded them of what He had told them before, that all things written in the scriptures concerning Him had to be fulfilled.


(Verses 45 through 49) "Then opened He their understanding, that they might understand the scriptures, and he said unto them, Thus it is written, and thus it behooved the Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day: and that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. And ye are My witnesses of these things. And, behold, I send the promise of My Father upon you: but tarry ye in the city of Jerusalem , until ye be endued with power from on high."


Heretofore, although Jesus had many times pointed out to his disciples what the scriptures said, and especially what they said about those things he was to suffer, they could understand none of it. Now He opened "their understanding that they might understand the scriptures." This He did before He reminded them that it was proper that He, the Christ, should suffer as He did, and rise from the dead the third day. Only thus could repentance and remission of sins be preached in His name among all nations. Before His crucifixion He commanded his apostles, "Go ye not into the way of the Gentiles, and into any city of the Samaritans enter ye not. But go ye rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel ," and even said of Himself, "I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel ." Now He says that repentance and remission of sins are to be preached in his name among all nations; and it must begin at Jerusalem . He further says that His disciples are to be His witnesses of these things. So He commands them to tarry in Jerusalem , until they are endued with power from on high. This power is what He refers to when He says, "And, behold, I send the promise of My Father upon you." Until they received that, they were not properly equipped to be witnesses of these things.


(Verses 50 through 53) "And He led them out as far as to Bethany , and He lifted up His hands, and blessed them. And it came to pass, while He blessed them, He was parted from them, and carried up into heaven. And they worshipped Him, and returned to Jerusalem with great Joy: and were continually in the temple, praising and blessing God. Amen."


Surely, these verses need no explanation; but Oh, what joy must have filled the hearts of these disciples!


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