An Interpretation of the English Bible
THE FOUR GOSPELS
by B. H. CARROLL
Late President of Southwestern Baptist
Theological Seminary, Fort Worth, Texas
J. B. Cranfill
Grand Rapids, Michigan
New and complete edition
Copyright 1948, Broadman Press
Reprinted by Baker Book House
First Printing, September 1973
Second Printing, September 1976
PHOTOLITHOPRINTED BY GUSHING - MALLOY, INC
ANN ARBOR, MICHIGAN, UNITES STATES OF AMERICA
I Season of Retirement, Part I (Matthew 14:13-16:12;
Mark 6:30-8:26; Luke 9:10-17; John 6:1-7:1)
II Season of Retirement, Part II (Matthew 16:13-28;
Mark 8:27-9:1; Luke 9:18-27)
III Season of Retirement, Part III (Matthew 17:1-13; Mark 9; 2:13;
Luke 9:28-36; John 1:14; 2 Peter 1:14-18)
IV Season of Retirement, Part IV (Matthew 17:14-18:35; 8:19-22;
Mark 9:9-50; Luke 9:37-62; John 7:2-10)
V Christs Discourse at the Feast of Tabernacles (John 7:11-10:21)
VI The Sending Out of the Seventy (Luke 10:1-24)
VII Parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:25-42)
VIII Discourse with the Pharisees (Luke 11:1-13; 59)
IX Are there Few that Be Saved? (Luke 13:1-14, 22-25; John 10:22-42)
X Five Parables (Luke 15:1-17:10)
XI The Raising of Lazarus and its Results (John 11:1-54)
XII The When and Where of the Kingdom (Luke 17:11-18:8)
XIII The Pharisee and the publican, Marriage and Divorce, etc.
(Luke 18:9-17; Matthew 19:1-15; Mark 10:1-16)
XIV The Rich Young Ruler (Matthew 19:16-20:28; Mark 10:17-45; Luke 18:18-34)
XV Bartimeus Healed; Zaccheus Saved (Matthew 20:29-34;
Mark 10:46-52; Luke 18:35-19:28)
XVI The Crisis of the World (Matthew 2I:1-22; Mark 11:1-18;
Luke 19:29-48; John 11:55 to 12:50)
XVII Three Questions Answered (Matthew 21:23-22:33;
Mark 11:27-12:27; Luke 20:1-40)
XVIII The Last Public Discourse (Matthew 22:34-23:39;
Mark 12:38-44; Luke 20:41-21:4)
XIX Our Lords Great Prophecy (Matthew 24:1-51;
Mark 13:1-37; Luke 21:5-36)
XX Christs Second Coming (Matthew 24:1-25:46;
Mark 13:1-37; Luke 21:8-36)
XXI Christs Second Coming (Conclusion)
(Matthew 64:1-25:46; Mark 13:1-37; Luke 21:5-36)
XXII The Bethany Supper (Matthew 26:1-25, 31-35; Mark 14:1-8, 27-31;
Luke 22:1-16, 21-38, John 12:2-8, 13:1-38)
XXIII The Lords Supper (Matthew 26:26-29; Mark 14:22-25;
Luke 22:17-20; 1 Corinthians 11:23-26)
XXIV The Book of Comfort (John 14-17)
XXV Jesus in Gethsemane (Matthew 26:30; 36-48; Mark 14:26; 32-42;
Luke 22:39-46; John 18:1; Hebrews 5:7-8)
XXVI Arrest and Trial of Jesus (Matthew 26:47-87, 59-75; 27:1-2;
Mark 14:48-15:1; Luke 22:47 to 23:1; John 18:2-28)
XXVII Christ Before Pilate and Herod (Matthew 27:3-30; Acts 1:18-19;
Mark 15:2-19; Luke 23:2-25; John 18:28-19:16)
XXVIII Crucifixion of Christ (Matthew 27:31-44; Mark 15:20-22;
Luke 23:26-43; John 19:16-27)
XXX Our Lords Resurrection (Matthew 27:57-66; Mark 15:42-47;
Luke 23:50-56; John 19:31-42)
XXXI Appearances and Commissions (Matthew 28:1-15; Mark 16: 1-18;
Luke 24:1-43; John 20:1-21:25; 1 Corinthians 15:5)
XXXII Appearances and Commissions (Continued) (Matthew 28:16-20;
Mark 16:15-18; Luke 24:44-53; Acts 1:3-12; 1 Corinthians 15:7)
XXXIII A Harmony of Peter
SEASON OF RETIREMENT
Harmony, pages 76-89 and Matthew 14:13 to 16:12; Mark 6:30 to 8:26; Luke 9:10-17; John 6:1 to 7:1.
We now take up Part V of the Harmony, the general theme of which is "Season of Retirement into Districts Around Galilee." The time is six months, i.e., from just before the Passover (John 6:4) to the Feast of Tabernacles. There are four of these retirements, found in sections 57, 61, 62, 63-67, respectively. The occasion of the first was twofold, (1) the hearing of the death of John the Baptist, and (2) the return of the twelve apostles for rest. The place of this retirement was Bethsaida Julias, which is referred to by Luke, as over against the Bethsaida mentioned by Mark, which was near Capernaum. The occasion of the second retirement was also twofold, (1) the fanaticism of the disciples in trying to make him king (John 6:15), and (2) the hostility of the Jewish rulers (Matt. 15:1). The place of the second retirement was Phoenicia, about Tyre and Sidon. The occasion of the third retirement was the suspicion of Herod Antipas, who was a very wicked man and had much fear respecting Jesus and his great works. The place of this retirement was Decapolis. The occasion of the fourth retirement was continued Jewish hostilities, and the place was Caesarea Philippi, in the extreme northern part of Palestine on the east side of the Jordan. In every case he avoided Herod's jurisdiction.
The first outstanding event of these retirements is the feeding of the five thousand, the account of which is prefaced by the report of the twelve apostles, who had just returned from their first missionary tour. This is a glowing account of their work and their teaching. The latter item of this report is unusual in a missionary report. Matthew says that Jesus withdrew to a desert place apart when he heard of the death of John the Baptist. In this desert place the multitudes thronged from the cities, and this excited the tender compassion of Jesus because they were like sheep without a shepherd. Mark says that he taught them many things. His work here continued until the day was far spent, upon which the disciples besought him to send the multitudes away to buy food. Here begins the beautiful story of "Feeding the Five Thousand," which is told by all four of the evangelists and does not need to be repeated in this expression, but there are certain facts and lessons here that need to be emphasized. First, there is the test of his disciples as to what they were willing to undertake. Second, this furnished the occasion for the great discourse of John 6 on the Bread of Life. Third, it was the occasion of sloughing off unworthy disciples. Fourth, it supplied the physical wants of the people. Fifth, there is here a most excellent lesson on order in doing things. Sixth, Christ is presented here as the great wonder-worker in supplying the needs of his people.
Following this miracle is the incident of Jesus walking on the sea. After feeding the five thousand Jesus retired to the mountain to pray and sent the disciples back across the sea in a boat. A storm arose and they were distressed, but on the troubled sea they saw Jesus walking and they were afraid. Out from the storm of their distress came the voice of Jesus: "It is 1; be not afraid." What a lesson for us! Jesus walks on the troubled sea. But Peter, impulsive Peter, must put the matter to a test and he receives the command to try his strength in walking on the sea, but the wind and the waves disturb his faith and he sinks, only to be rescued by the hand divine. Our Lord rebukes his little faith, as he does the "little faith" of others in two other instances in this division of the Harmony, (viz., on pp. 88, 95).
This incident made a profound impression on the disciples. Matthew says, "They that were in the boat worshiped him, saying, Of a truth thou art the Son of God." Mark says, "They were sore amazed in themselves; for they understood not concerning the loaves, but their heart was hardened." John says, "They were willing therefore to receive him into the boat." There seems, at first sight, to be some discrepancy here, but these evangelists are speaking from different standpoints. Matthew seems to look at it from the standpoint of the effect in strengthening their faith in his divinity; John, from the standpoint of their scare when they first saw him, and Mark, from the standpoint of the preceding incident of "Feeding the Five Thousand." Broadus says, "Mark (6:52) censures their astonishment at this miracle, for which the miracle of the loaves would have prepared them if their minds had not been stupid and dull. This language of Mark does not necessarily forbid the supposition that they were now convinced Jesus was divine; but it best falls in with the idea that they were at a lower standpoint." They straightway landed at Gennesaret, according to Matthew and John, where the people came in great numbers to touch his garment that they might be healed. Mark's description of this healing work of our Lord is most vivid, closing with the words, "as many as touched him were made whole."
All this prepared the way for the great discourse of our Lord on the Bread of Life in John 6 (Harmony, pp. 81-82). This is a marvelously strong discourse on the spirituality of his kingdom. The introduction (John 6:22-25) explains the connection of this discourse with the miracle of the loaves and how the multitudes found Jesus after that event in Capernaum. In v. 26-40 we have the first dialogue between them and Jesus in which Jesus reveals their purposes and exhorts them to seek the Bread of Life. Then they ask, "How?" and he explains that it is by accepting him whom the Father sent. Then they demand a sign, referring to the sign of the manna to the Israelites in the wilderness, upon which Jesus showed them the typical and spiritual import of the manna, explaining that it referred to him. In v. 41-51 we have the second dialogue arising from their murmuring at his teaching, that he came down from heaven. Here he announced the great doctrine of God's drawing in order to salvation, his relation to the Father and the nature of the salvation he brought as eternal, over against the perishable manna which their fathers ate in the wilderness. In verses 52-59 we have the third dialogue arising from their strife among themselves about his teaching, in which Jesus shows them their utter hopelessness apart from him and his sacrifice. In v. 60-65 we have the fourth dialogue, which was between Jesus and his disciples, growing out of their murmuring at his hard doctrine. Here he explains that the words which he had spoken were spiritual and life-giving, and then revealed the fact that one among them was an unbeliever. This he knew, says John, from the beginning. In v. 66-71 we have the final effect of his discourse upon them, driving many of his disciples back, but confirming his immediate disciples in his divine mission as voiced by this first great confession of Peter: "We believe and know that thou art the Holy One of God." But Jesus let them know that one of them was a devil. Note that this revelation of the betrayer was nearly a year before the revelation of Judas at the Passover supper (John 13), and shows that Jesus knew all the time that Judas would betray him. Note also that this discourse is progressive. Each dialogue brings a new revelation and the effect of this progress upon his audience is marked, finally driving them away from our Lord to walk with him no more, while the severity of the test brought forth from his disciples their strongest expression of faith in his divinity up to this time.
In section 60 we have the account of another issue between Christ and the Pharisees at Capernaum. They sent an embassy to him from Jerusalem and asked why his disciples did not keep the tradition of the elders with regard to the washing of their hands, the full explanation of which is given by Mark and needs only a careful reading to be understood. To this Jesus responded with a charge of hypocrisy and quotes a prophecy of Isaiah which he applies to them. This prophecy has in it a double charge, (1) of emptiness, of heartlessness, in their service and (2) that they taught the doctrines and precepts of men. This applied to all their traditions, what a comment on the whole of the Jewish Talmud! Then he goes further and charges them with transgressing the commandment of God because of their tradition in respect to honoring parents. If they should say that their property was "Corban," i.e., given to God, that exempted them, according to the Jewish tradition, which made void the word of God. Then he explained the fallacy of their tradition by showing that it was not what goes into a man that defiles him, but that defilement was an issue of the heart. But this offended the Pharisees, to which he replied to his disciples with the parable of the blind guides, which the disciples did not understand, as it applied to the matter under consideration. This called for a more elaborate explanation, that the heart and stomach of a man were vastly different and that sin issuing from the heart was the only true defilement of the man. Mark gives thirteen items in his list of sins coming out of the heart, and Matthew seven, but these are but illustrations of the principle that all sin issues from the heart.
Immediately following this issue with the authorities at Jerusalem, Jesus retired to the region of Tyre and Sidon, in the territory of Phoenicia, which is outside of the land of Israel. This retirement, as already explained, was caused by the fanaticism of his disciples in trying to make him king, and the hostility of the Jewish rulers. Phoenicia (see map) was located northwest of Palestine and contained two cities of importance Tyre and Sidon. It was in this territory and while on this retirement that Jesus healed the Syrophoenician, or Canaanitish woman's daughter. The term "Canaanitish," as used by Matthew, refers back to the time when the inhabitants of this section were called Canaanites. It is probable that the Jews continued to apply this name to the inhabitants of Phoenicia, though the after inhabitants may have been of later origin. To Matthew's Jewish readers this word would show that she was a Gentile. (Broadus' Commentary). But Mark says that she was a Greek, meaning a Gentile, and a Syrophoenician, meaning an inhabitant of the united countries of Syria and Phoenicia, a term used to distinguish this country from Libyphoenicia, or the Carthaginians. To Mark's Gentile readers this name also would mean a Gentile. This country of Syria extended from the northern part of Palestine all the way up the Mediterranean coast to the headwaters of the Euphrates, following that river east to the great Syrian Desert, and thence south to the headwaters of the Jordan, including Antioch and Damascus, two cities well known to Bible history. This country has a vital connection with the Greeks. It was conquered by Alexander the Great, allotted to the Seleucids after his death, who built Antioch and ruled this country till it was taken by the Romans. This was in the fourth, third, and second centuries before Christ.
It was in this country Jesus sought retirement and rest for himself and disciples, but this rest was broken by the coming of the Syrophoenician woman to Jesus in behalf of her daughter. Jesus could not be hid because of his fame and his approachableness by those who were in distress. We find that, in every effort which he made at retirement, the people found him. So, this Canaanitish, Greek, Syrophoenician woman found him when he came into those parts. The facts of this case are as follows: This Syrophoenician woman had a little daughter who was grievsouly demonized. She heard of the presence of Jesus in those parts, came and besought him to cast forth the demon out of her. He made no answer. Then the disciples intervened and asked him to send her away, but he answered that he was not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel. The woman personally renews her petition and begs for help, but Jesus tells her that it is not meet to give the children's bread to the dogs. She answered that she would be satisfied with the crumbs, and this brought forth from the Saviour the highest commendation of her faith.
Now let us look at this picture again and see if we can find in it the lessons intended for us. First, let us look for the proofs of this woman's faith. There are four of these: (1) Her address in which she calls him the Son of David; (2) she worshiped him; (3) she recognized Jewish priority; (4) her humility and importunity.
This scene was, perhaps, on the road and not in the house, which helps us to understand better some of the points in the story. The seeming indifference of Jesus was only to test and develop her faith. The intervention of the disciples was not to ask that she be dismissed without help, but, rather, to give her the blessing and let her go. Evidently the woman did not hear Christ's reply to the disciples. Being in advance of the woman on the road, this conversation was not understood by her, which explains the next statement that "she came and worshiped him." The statement of Jesus to the disciples that he was not sent but to the lost sheep of the house of Israel meant that he was unwilling to carry on a general ministry in Phoenicia, because his mission was to the Jews. The "crumb" idea here introduced by the woman and acted upon by Christ does not conflict with this idea of avoiding a general ministry in Phoenicia. This referred to the smaller blessing to a Gentile dog which would not take any of the children's bread. She seems here to argue that Jesus is now away from the Jews and not feeding them. So a blessing in this isolated case would not interfere with the blessings for the Jews. The dogs here referred to were little dogs. The word in the Greek is diminutive and means the little house dogs allowed to run around in the house and under their master's table. The woman was willing not only to be called a dog, but to be called a little dog and to have a little dog's share of food. This incident is also an illustration of the scriptural teaching that we should pray for the salvation of others who are not even interested.
After the incident of the Syrophoenician woman Jesus hastened to return to the land of Israel. Going from the borders of Tyre and Sidon he passed through Sidon, thence across to the east side of the Jordan and down on the east side of the Sea of Galilee through the borders of Decapolis. This was intentional, to avoid the territory of Herod, who was suspicious of Jesus. As soon as he arrived they brought him a deaf and dumb man whom he healed, and charged not to tell it, but he published it the more, which resulted in their bringing the multitudes of the unfortunate to him for a blessing. He healed all of these and then fed four thousand, the circumstances and particulars of which are similar to the feeding of the five thousand.
Then, sending away the multitudes, he crossed over the Sea of Galilee to the borders of Magadan, where he was met again by the Pharisees demanding a sign, but sighing deeply in his spirit he rebuked them and left them, never to return to this part again to teach. This text illustrates the grieving of the Holy Spirit. On leaving here he went across the Sea of Galilee to Bethsaida, where he tarried a short time on his way to Caesarea Philippi. When they arrived at Bethsaida the disciples were reminded by a little parable of Jesus that they had forgotten to take bread with them. This parable referred to the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees, which was their doctrine, but the disciples did not understand it and thought that he referred to their forgetting the bread. Then he issued a sharp rebuke to his disciples. as follows: (1) for hardness of heart; (2) for dimness of perception; (3) for a torpid memory; (4) for lack of faith. Then they understood that he referred to the teaching of the Pharisees and Sadducees. Does teaching, or doctrine, leaven? It seems to have leavened them. Does it make any difference what we believe? Certainly there is a moral quality of belief.
At Bethsaida was brought to him a blind man whom he carried out of the village. He healed him by the use of means; at least apparently, and gradually, thus illustrating the gradual perception of conversion. Then he sent him away and would not even permit him to go into the village. This case is very similar to the case of the deaf and dumb whom he healed in the borders of Decapolis. In each case he took the person out and healed him privately. In each case he also used means, apparently. Why this method in these two cases particularly? On the point of the "why" here we cannot be dogmatic. Perhaps it was to prevent excitement as far as possible by making it appear that he used means; that he was healing more in the natural way and thus avoid the excitement that usually followed his regular method.
1. What is the theme of Part V of the Harmony?
2. What was the time and what the time limits of this division?
3. How many retirements in this period and where are they found in the Harmony?
4. What was the occasion and place of each?
5. What was the first outstanding event of this period of retirements and how is it prefaced?
6. What, in order, are the events which led up to the feeding of the five thousand?
7. Tell the story of the feeding of the five thousand.
8. What are the lessons of this incident?
9. Give the story of Jesus walking on the sea and its lessons.
10. How do you harmonize Matthew, Mark, and John on this incident?
11. Where did they land and what incidents there?
12. What was the occasion and nature of the great discourse in John 6?
13. Give an analysis of this discourse, showing its introduction, its dialogues, the progress of the thought in these parts of the discourse, the progress of its effect on the enemy and its effect on the disciples of Jesus.
14. What issue raised between Christ and the Pharisees at Capernaum and how did Christ meet it?
13. Give an account of the progress of this issue and show the final outcome of it.
16. Bid Jesus ever leave the land of Israel? If so, why?
17. In what country were Tyre and Sidon?
18. State the geographical position of Phoenicia.
19. Explain the terms "Ganaanitiah," "Greek," and "Syrophoenician" as applied to the woman who approached Christ in these parts.
20. What is the extent of Syria?
21. What, briefly, was Syria's connection with the Greeks, and how long since to this incident?
22. Why should Jesus desire to remain incognito here?
23. How was the rest broken?
24. Why could not Jesus be hid?
25. What are the facts of this case in their order?
26. What was the proofs of this woman's faith?
27. Was this scene in the house or out doors?
28. Why did Jesus so act in this case?
29. Did his disciples ask that she be dismissed without help?
30. Why should Jesus avoid a general ministry in Phoenicia?
31. Explain how "crumbs" did not conflict with this idea.
32. What kind of dogs here referred to and what the import?
33. What is the lesson here on praying for others not interested?
34. Trace on the map the journey of Jesus from Tyre to the neighborhood of the Sea of Galilee. Why this course?
35. What were the events of his stay in this section?
36. Where did he go from there and what were the events at the next place?
37. Where then did he go, and what important lesson did he there teach his disciples and how?
38. What are the items of his rebuke here and what the importance of doctrine as here indicated?
39. Give the incident of the healing of the blind man here and its lessons.
SEASON OF RETIREMENT PART II WHO IS JESUS OF NAZARETH AND WHAT IS HIS MISSION?
Harmony, pages 89-92 and Matthew 16:13-28; Mark 8:27 to 9:1; Luke 9:18-27.
The scene of this discussion is Caesarea Philippi, in the extreme northern part of Palestine. The historians are Matthew (16:13-28); Mark (8:27-28; 9:1); and Luke (9:18-27). These records, being presented in parallel columns, sections 64-65, on pages 89-92 of the Harmony of the Gospels, it is quite easy to observe the peculiarities of each. Note three general observations: First, they exhibit the most remarkable independent testimony, each supplying entirely some detail omitted by the others, or adding somewhat to details given by them, not only without the slightest discrepancy, but so that all that each says may be incorporated into one perfectly congruous statement. Second, Mark, commonly called Peter's gospel, modestly omits Christ's high commendation of Peter, but is particularly careful to record Peter's sin, the public rebuke of it, and the exhortation based on it; while Luke, commonly called Paul's gospel, omits the sin of Peter, its rebuke and the connection between it and the exhortation. Third, Matthew writing for Jews, records particularly and elaborately the things most needed by them, to wit: the kind of faith necessary to salvation; the true foundation of the church; its indestructibleness; its high functions and authority; the necessity of the vicarious passion of Jesus; the certainty and glory and judgment of the second coming.
Now, combining a congruous statement of all the records, it is easy to fashion an outline for the whole. The following is submitted as that outline:
1. The great ministry in Galilee is ended forever.
2. To sum up and crystallize its results, and to rest somewhat before entering upon a final ministry elsewhere there is a season of retirement.
3. Having reached the place of retirement, a suburban village of Caesarea Philippi, our Lord separates himself from his immediate disciples and the attendant multitudes to seek God in prayer (Luke 9:18).
4. The object of that prayer, as inferred from the context, is that however variant the opinions of others concerning himself, his own disciples may have a God-revealed faith in his office and divinity, so that they may be able to receive clearer teaching concerning his vicarious passion by which his office becomes efficient in the salvation of men (Matt. 16: 17-21).
5. What men think of him and why.
6. What the disciples believed as expressed in Peter's confession.
7. Our Lord's wonderful response to this confession and the doctrines involved.
8. Clearer teaching concerning his passion.
9. Peter's rebuke of Christ and Christ's rebuke of Peter.
10. Terms of discipleship and why so hard (Mark 8:34-37).
11. A great danger and its antidote, the danger of being ashamed or afraid before the world, to confess Christ (Mark 8:38).
12. An assuring promise: That some of them should not taste of death until they saw Jesus coming in glory to judge the world (Matt. 16:28).
It cannot reasonably be expected that I should discuss all this outline in one chapter. I can cover none of it elaborately except one capital point. But it is desirable to make an outline of all the salient points suggested by these remarkable incidents at Caesarea Philippi. Let it be impressed on the mind that the Galilean ministry is ended forever. For that great section, parable, and miracle are over forever. In his teaching capacity he has finally left Capernaum and the Sea of Galilee. True, we will find him subsequently, passing through Galilee, but in hurry and silence. True, after his resurrection, he there, once more, meets with is own people and commissions them. But his own personal ministry to that lost people to those doomed cities is completely ended.
This ministry being finished, it becomes to Christ a very solemn question: What are its results? The people who heard him, who witnessed his miraculous deeds, were bound, by the very nature of the case, to propound each to himself and to others this question: Who is he? We need not be surprised that the answers to this question were widely variant. It requires no deep philosophy to understand why men, hearing the same things and looking upon the same facts, shall yet reach widely different conclusions from what they hear and see. The standpoint alone will account for the divergence. We may easily understand why Herod would suppose from what he had heard of Jesus that he was John the Baptist risen from the dead. He reasoned from the standpoint of an excited and guilty conscience, taking counsel of his fears. His superstitious apprehension of coming evil for his wrongdoing would lead him to put a construction upon Christ and his work that would not suggest itself to any other man. It is just as easy to understand how others familiar with the closing passages of the Old Testament, which predict the coming of Elijah before the great and notable day of the Lord, should surmise that this Jesus, working such wondrous deeds, was that Elijah. A widely prevalent tradition accounts also for the fact that yet others supposed he might be Jeremiah. The tradition was that Jeremiah, at the destruction of Jerusalem by the king of Babylon, had hidden away in some secret place in the mountains, known only to himself, many of the sacred utensils of the Temple, and that at some time in the future he would return and show Israel the place of deposit of these precious relics. We see the same divergent opinions concerning Christ at the present time. Some say he is a good man; others that he is an impostor; others that his teaching concerning morality is perfect, but there is no reason to admit the claims of his divinity. Conscious in his own mind of the divergent conclusion concerning himself and his work, and having so faithfully instructed his immediate disciples, and intending now to call forth a definite expression from them, we can see an occasion for his prayer. While we may not dogmatize, it would seem that he would pray after this manner: O Father, the world does not understand me and my mission. But here is a particular group that I have called out from the others to be with me and to hear thy word. They have witnessed more than the others. They have been near to me; O Father, grant that these, my disciples, at least, may have a God-revealed faith in me as the Messiah." That his prayer was somewhat in this direction may perhaps be inferred from the exultation manifested by him on Peter's avowal. Anyhow, immediately after his prayer comes first the question calling out the popular verdict, and then the emphatic question, "Who say ye that I am?" Very naturally Peter speaks for the others. We have had reason already to observe the readiness with which he takes the lead. Mark the principal elements in his answer: "Thou art the Christ," recognizing his office; "the Son," recognizing his divinity; "of the living God," sharply drawing a distinction between the real God and the dead and dumb deities of the heathen world.
In considering Christ's response let us take up each word. "Simon" means a hearer. "Peter" means a rock, "Barjona" means the son of Jona, or, according to the best Greek text, the son of John. This answer of Christ to Peter gives us a clue to the true faith: "Flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father, who is in heaven. Many other passages of Scripture might be cited to show that evangelical faith is not an intellectual perception of the truth of a proposition, but that it is a product of the divine Spirit, as is expressed in the beginning of John's Gospel: "To as many as received him, even to them that believed on his name, he gave the power to become the sons of God, who were born, not of flesh, nor of blood, nor of the will of man, but of God." Let the reader, therefore, especially note the nature of the true faith. It might be asked just here if this was the first time that there had been among his disciples a recognition of his messiahship. We have twice already found in the ground over which we have passed, some recognition on the part of his disciples of Christ as the Messiah. Now there has been clearer teaching, and the statement, under the present conditions, that he is the Messiah, shows a great advance in the nature of their faith.
We come now to consider perhaps the most remarkable passage in the New Testament: "Thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whosoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and whosoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven." Here almost every word calls for explanation and occasions controversy. Who or what is the "rock" upon which the church is founded? In what sense is the term "church" used? What is the import of Hades and what signifies, "the gates of hell shall not prevail against it"? What signify the "keys of the kingdom," and the binding and loosing power?
The first thought that I would impress upon the mind is that Christ alone founded his church. I mean that the church was established in the days of his sojourn in the flesh; that the work of its construction commenced with the reception of the material prepared by John the Baptist. That organization commenced with the appointment of the twelve apostles, and that by the close of his earthly ministry there existed at least one church as a model, the church at Jerusalem.
We find in the history immediately succeeding the Gospel account that this church at Jerusalem began to transact business by the election of a successor to Judas; that they were all assembled together in one place for the reception of the Holy Spirit, and that to them were added daily the saved. Hence, we are prepared to ask: On what did Christ found his church? What is the rock?
After mature deliberation and careful examination of all the opposing views, and after a thorough study of the Word of God, it is clear to my mind that the rock primarily and mainly is Christ himself.
If it seems to violate the figure that he, the builder, should build upon himself, the violation is no more marked here than in the famous passage in John where he gives the bread to the disciples and that "bread of life" is himself. I would have the reader note the scriptural foundation upon which I rest my conclusion that the rock is Christ. The first argument is from prophecy:
"Therefore thus saith the Lord God, Behold I lay in Zion for a foundation, a stone, a tried stone, a precious corner stone, a sure foundation; he that believeth shall not make haste" (Isa. 28:16).
This prophetic scripture clearly declared God's purpose to lay in Zion a foundation, a stone foundation, one that was to be tried, that was assured, a foundation on which faith should rest, without haste or shame.
We next cite Psalm 118:22: "The stone which the builders refused is become the head stone of the corner. This is the Lord's doing. It is marvelous in our eyes. This is the day which the Lord hath made. We will rejoice and be glad in it." In fulfilment of these prophecies we cite first the testimony of Peter, unto whom the language of our passage was spoken: "To whom coming, as unto a living stone, disallowed indeed of men, but chosen of God and precious. Ye also as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ. Wherefore also it is contained in the scripture, Behold I lay in Zion a chief corner stone, elect, precious; and he that believeth on him shall not be confounded. Unto you therefore which believe he is precious: but unto them which be disobedient the stone which the builders disallowed the same is made the head of the corner. And a stone of stumbling, and a rock of offense, even to them which stumble at the word, being disobedient: whereunto also they were appointed" (1 Peter 2: 4-8).
The spiritual house of which Peter here speaks is unquestionably the church. The foundation upon which that church as a building must rest, is unquestionably our Lord Jesus Christ himself. He claims this as a fulfilment of the prophecies which have been cited. Our Lord's own words in another connection (Matt. 21:42), claim the same fulfilment: "The stone which the builders rejected, the same was made the head of the corner." With any other construction it would be impossible to understand Paul's statement (1 Cor. 3:1117): "For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if any man build upon this foundation gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble; every man's work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man's work of what sort it is. If any man's work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward. If any man's work shall be burned he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire. Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you? If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy; for the temple of God is holy, which temple ye are."
Here again the church is compared to a building. The foundation of that building is distinctly said to be Christ. It is also worthy of note that any other foundation for the church than Christ himself would be wholly out of harmony with the Old Testament concept, as given by Moses, Samuel, David, and Isaiah, and Paul's New Testament comment in the following passages, which the reader will please note and examine carefully for himself: Deuteronomy 32:4, 15,31; I Samuel 2:2; 2 Samuel 22:2, 32; Psalm 18:2, 31; 61:2; 89:26; 92:15; 95:1; and Isaiah 17:10; 1 Corinthians 10:4. Do not understand me to affirm that all these passages refer to God as a foundation. The thought is that the Bible concept regards God as the rock of his people under every variety of image, and so uniformly that to make a mortal and fallible man that rock on the doubtful strength of one disputed passage, which may easily and naturally be construed in harmony with the others, does violence to the rule of the faith as well as to the usage of the term.
In a secondary sense, indeed, other things may be called the foundation and are so called, but all these senses support the view that Christ is the rock, primarily and mainly. By examining and comparing Isaiah 8:14; Luke 2:34; Romans 9:33; 1 Peter 2:8; Luke 20:18, we may easily see how the faith which takes hold of Christ may be compared to a foundation. This accounts for the fact that many of the early fathers of the church understood the rock in this passage to be Peter's faith in Christ, and also explains how others of the fathers understood the foundation of the church to be Peter's confession of that faith. The great majority of Protestant scholars regard the confession of faith as the rock, and it is a notable fact that Baptists particularly make this confession or its equivalent a term of admission into the church. Indeed, in a certain sense, both the faith and the confession may be regarded as the foundation of the church. From Ephesians 2: 20-22 and Revelation 21:14, we see that the apostles are called the foundation. But it is only because they teach Christ. They are but instruments in leading souls to Christ, and are not the true foundation. By so much as Peter was more prominent than the others, in this sense the church may be gaid to be founded on Peter. The scriptural proof of Peter's prominence is very clear. Though not the first apostle chosen, his name heads all the recorded lists of the twelve (Matt. 10:2Mark 3:16; Luke 6:14; Acts 1:13). He also leads the movement in filling the place of Judas (Acts 1:15). He opens the door to the Jews on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2:14). And he is selected to open the door to the Gentiles (Acts 10; 15:7). By noting carefully Hebrews 6:1-2, we see that the primary or fundamental doctrines concerning Christ may well be called a foundation, and at the close of the Sermon on the Mount, obedience to Christ is compared to building a house on a rock (Matt. 7:24), but all these secondary senses derive their significance from their connection with Christ, the primary and real foundation.
Inasmuch as there are in the world at least 200,000,000 nominal professors of the Romanist faith, constituting over half of Christendom, and as all of these regard Peter as the rock upon which the church was founded, and as they deduce most tremendous and portentous consequences from this interpretation, I think it well to carefully examine this Romanist faith I would not, however, have the reader derive his views of Romanist doctrine from any other sources than those regarded as authoritative by themselves. A natural inquiry of the mind would be, "On what scripture do Papists rely for proof of Peter's primacy"? Only three passages of Scripture are cited by them: Matthew 16:18-19; John 21:15-17; Luke 22 31-32 These are called the "rock-argument," the "keysargument" the "shepherd-argument," and the "confirmerargument." I" connection with our text, which is the main one cited "Thou art Peter and on this rock I will build my church " they construe John 1:42, where Christ promises that Simon shall be called Cephas, a stone. When they speak of the powers indicated by the keys as conferred upon Peter, they understand that government and Jurisdiction are among those powers, in proof of which they usually cite Isaiah 22:22; Revelation 3:7; Job 12:14; Isaiah 9:6; from which they claim that if putting the key upon the shoulder of Jesus implied government, surely it meant as much when applied to Peter; and they interpret the historical usage of giving up the keys of a walled city or fortress to a conqueror, as signifying that the control of that city or fortress is thereby publicly ceded, and that to the one to whom these keys are presented is the province of receiving or excluding.
In the same way they derive the thought of jurisdiction from the shepherd argument, by construing it with 2 Samuel 5:2; Psalm 78:71-72; Ezekiel 34:1-23; Jeremiah 3:15, 23; Nahum 3:18; Isaiah 40:11; Micah 7:14; John 10:1-18; 1 Peter 2:25; 5:4; Acts 20:28. Whoever is able to meet these four arguments, the rock, the keys, the shepherd, the confirmer, is able to answer the whole of the papal system.
On these three scriptures they predicate the stupendous doctrine of the supremacy of the Pope, signifying that the Pope, or Bishop of Rome, as the successor of Peter, possesses authority and jurisdiction in things spiritual over the entire church, so as to become the visible head and the vicar or viceregent of Christ on earth; that, as the universal shepherd, he is the center of unity, with whom all the flock must be in communion or be guilty of schism; that he is the fountain of authority, all subordinate rulers in the church being subject to him, and deriving their limited jurisdiction from him; that all the executive power of the universal church is vested in him. He confirms in the faith; he oversees all; he corrects all; he corrects abuses; he maintains discipline; he possesses all inquisitorial power necessary to evil, and all authority to subdue or excommunicate the refractory. He is infallible in all utterances concerning faith and morals, being God's mouthpiece, and his decrees thereon are absolute and final, being God's viceregent.
It is necessary for me to cite the authentic Romanish authyroids from which this monstrous doctrine is gathered. I cite: (1) the profession of the Tridentine faith, which says, "I acknowledge the holy, Catholic, apostolic Roman church as the mother and mistress of all churches, and I promise and swear true obedience to the Bishop of Rome, successor to St. Peter, prince of the apostles, and vicar of Jesus Christ." The Council of Trent met in the Tyrol near the middle of the sixteenth century, lasting off and on for about eighteen years. The language which I have quoted is not a part of the canons and decrees of the Council of Trent, but it is from the profession of the Tridentine faith, issued by the Pope, and to which all Catholics must subscribe. The date of it is 1564. The second authoritative source is the dogmatic decrees of the Vatican Council held in 1870, which declare the following propositions:
1. That our Lord Jesus Christ himself instituted the apostolic primacy at Caesarea Philippi, by setting Peter as prince and chief over the rest of the apostles, and making him, as God's vicar, or viceregent, the visible head of the universal church, which becomes indestructible because founded on Peter, thereby constituting him the center of all ecclesiastical unity and fountain of all directly, in his single person, with supreme jurisdiction over preachers and church. The council expressly denies that this supreme jurisdiction was conferred upon the twelve apostles originally and reached Peter through them, or as one of them, and expressly denies that it was conferred on the church originally and on Peter through the church, but by a variety of expressions set forth the claim that his jurisdiction was direct, immediate, single, original, personal, centripetal, supreme, and, by being transmissible to his successor, perpetual, thus putting him alone in the place of God to all the rest of the kingdom of Jesus Christ, to the end of time, and anathematizes all who deny the claim. This declaration of the institution of the papacy, as I have just said, and as this council expressly declares, is based upon the rock, keys, and shepherd arguments, drawn from Matthew 16:18-19, and John 21:15-17.
2. The second declaration purports to show how this power of Peter was transmitted to his successor as the Bishop of Rome. They declare that Peter founded the church at Rome; became its first bishop, constituted this bishopric the Holy See, and that to this day Peter lives, presides, and judges in his successors in that bishopric, so that whoever obtains the office of Bishop of Rome does by the institution of Christ receive the entailed supremacy conferred on Peter over the whole church. This declaration closes with this clause: "If then any should deny that this be the institution of Christ the Lord, or by divine right that blessed Peter should have a perpetual line of successors in the supremacy over the universal church, or that the Roman pontiff is the successor of blessed Peter in this primacy, let him be anathema."
3. Their next declaration relates to the nature and extent of this power. Let us quote: "Hence we teach and declare that by the appointment of our Lord the Roman church possesses a priority of ordinary power over all other churches, and that this power or jurisdiction of the Roman pontiff, which is truly episcopal, is immediate, to which all, of whatever right or dignity, both pastors and people, both individually and collectively, are bound by their duty of hierarchical subordination and true obedience to submit, not only in matters which belong to faith and morals, but also in those that pertain to the discipline and government of the church throughout the world."
The council makes him the supreme judge of the faith, and further declares that recourse may be had to his tribunal in all questions, the discussion of which belongs to the church, and that none may reopen his judgment, nor can any review his judgment. There is no greater authority than his. His office is not merely of inspection and direction, but of full and supreme power of jurisdiction over the universal church. His power is not mediate and extraordinary, but immediate and ordinary over each and all the churches, over each and all the pastors. Whoever denies it, let him be anathema.
4. Their fourth declaration is concerning infallibility. Citing one proof text only, "I have prayer for thee that thy faith fail not" (Luke 22:3). The council declares that this See of Holy Peter remains ever free from any blemish of error, and as through Christ's prayer Peter's faith failed not, so his. inerrancy of teaching is transmitted to his successors. Therefore, quoting their precise language: "It is a dogma, divinely revealed: that the Roman pontiff, when he speaks ex-cathedra, that is, when in the discharge of the office of pastor and doctor of all Christians, by virtue of his supreme apostolic authority, he defines a doctrine regarding faith or morals, to be held by the universal church, by the divine assistance promised to him in blessed Peter, is possessed of that infallibility with which the divine Redeemer willed that his church should be endowed for defining doctrine regarding faith of morals; and that, therefore, such definitions of the Roman pontiff are irreformable of themselves, and not from the consent of the church. But if any one which may God avert presume to contradict this, our definition: let him be anathema."
It seems an incalculable thing, an inexplicable thing, that in the latter part of the nineteenth century such a quadruple declaration could be made by the distinguished and educated leaders of any form of religion. We may well inquire just here what proof is necessary to support these stupendous claims. This much proof is absolutely necessary: (1) Scriptural proof that the supreme and absolute power here claimed was conferred on Peter himself. (2) Scriptural proof that it was transmissible and actually transmitted. (3) Scriptural proof that the method of transmission was through a local pastorate. (4) Scriptural proof that the See of Rome was constituted that pastorate.
In his lectures on the church Cardinal Wiseman seems to consider himself able to furnish abundant proof, if not just this proof. The limits of this discussion admit only a suggestion of some things in reply: (1) All the apostles were declared to be a foundation of the church (Eph. 2:19-22; Rev. 21:14). (2) All the apostles had the same binding and loosing power (John 20:23; 3 John 10). So also had Paul (1 Cor. 5:3-5; 2 Cor. 2:6-10; 13:2, 10). (3) So had every local church (Matt. 18:18; 2 Cor. 2:10). (4) For preserving unity and averting schism all the apostles and others were appointed and no human headship hinted at (1 Cor. 12:25-30; Eph. 4: 11-16). (5) A short time after our Lord used the words, "Thou art Peter and on this rock I will build my church," cited as indubitable proof by Papists of the institution of the office of Pope, none of the disciples knew who was to be the greatest, and our Lord, in reply to their question, was careful not to say that he had just given that office to Peter (Matt. 18:1-4). Indeed he seems to deny that he had given it to any one (Mark 9:38-39). If the Papist claim, that the office of Pope was established in Peter at Caesarea Philippi, as recorded in Matthew 16, is correct, this incident a short time after recorded in Matthew 18, is inexplicable. (6) On a still later occasion we find the question of priority still unsettled. How else account for the fact that James and John, sons of Zebedee, through their mother, asked for the highest places in the kingdom? Why did not Jesus, in answering this request, reply that he had already given the highest place to Peter? Why did he expressly declare that none of them should exercise authority over the others, and that there should be no greatness and no primacy but in humility and service? (See Matt. 20:20-28; Mark 10:35-45.)
On a yet later occasion, up to the institution of the Lord's Supper, we find the question still unsettled (Luke 22-24-40). And again it is declared that there shall be no primacy of authority and jurisdiction, but all are put on an equality, each occupying a throne. On still another occasion we have these words: "One is your master, even Christ, and all ye are brethren. And call no man your father upon the earth, for one is your Father, which is in heaven. Neither be ye called masters, for one is your Master, even Christ."
Now as the word "Pope" means father, this language is equivalent to saying, "And call no man your Pope on earth, for one is your Pope, which is in heaven."
When we examine the history of the apostles, as recorded in Acts, and the references to apostolic authority cited in the letters, we find every reason to suppose that such supreme and absolute authority had not been conferred upon Peter. Take, as an example, the case of Samaria, as recorded in Acts 8:14. When the apostles heard that the Samaritans had received the word, it is not Peter who sends the others, but it is the others who send Peter. And even in the case of Cornelius, where Peter was specially empowered by divine authority for opening the door to the Gentiles, we find that he was held to an account for his action by the others (Acts 11:1-18).
Again in the great consultation on a question of salvation, as recorded in Acts 15, there it not only no indication that Peter exercised Papal functions, but it is evident that the sentence was framed by James and not Peter, and that it was sent out in the name of all the apostles and the church. In Galatians 2:11-12, we find a proof of Peter's deference to James, the half brother of our Lord, utterly inconsistent with the papal office. And the scriptural proof is overwhelming that there was no subordination of Paul to Peter. That Peter was not the fountain of authority to Paul. He did not derive his gospel from Peter. He withstood Peter to his face when Peter was in error. But examine particularly the following scriptures; 1 Corinthians 9:1-5; 2 Corinthians 10:8-15; 9:5-28; Galatians 1:11-12,17; 2:6-14.
Another observation in this connection will be regarded as just. There is abundant New Testament proof of Paul's presence and work in Rome, but not a hint in that Holy Book about Peter's ever being there. It is equally true that Paul's argument in 1 Corinthians 1:12 and 3:4-23, is adverse to the papal claim. But what is more remarkable still, Peter himself not only never claimed such authority, but exhorts against its exercise (1 Peter 5:1-4).
We may add this pertinent fact: Inasmuch as Peter died be-fore John (that is, as John was the last surviving apostle), if Peter's succession in the papal authority was transmitted through his pastorate at Rome to his successor, that uninspired successor would become the fountain of authority for the apostle John, yet alive, and John, who derived his authority directly from the Lord, would be under the absolute jurisdiction of one who had never known the Lord in the flesh, nor received authority from him.
The true history of that Vatican Council would make interesting reading. It was a secret conclave. Its program was dictated by the Pope. It was neither free nor ecumenical. The awful subordination of intelligent human conscience to such a dictum, and the horror it excited in the minds of even true and long-tested papists, may be gathered largely from a speech of the late Archbishop Kenrick, prepared to be delivered before this council, in which he sets forth some views very little different from those I have advocated as to the rock being Christ, and to the utter insufficiency of any scriptural proof for the papist claim, based on any of the other passages. It may be well to cite a few statements from this famous speech of Archbishop Kenrick. After combating the papal argument based on the several scriptures which have been cited, Archbishop Kenrick says:
The natural and primary foundation, so to speak, of the church, is Christ, whether we consider his person, or faith in his divine nature. The architectural foundation, that laid by Christ, is the twelve apostles, among whom Peter is eminent by virtue of the primacy. In this way we reconcile those passages of the fathers, which understand Him on this occasion (as in the instance related in John 6, after the discourse of Christ in the synagogue of Capernaum), to have answer-ed in the name of all the apostles, to a question addressed to them all in common; and in behalf of all to have received the reward of confession.. In this explanation of the word rock, the primacy of Peter is guarded as the primary ministerial foundation; and the fitness of the words of Paul and John is guarded, when they call the apostles by the common title of the foundation; and the truth of the expression used with such emphasis by Paul is guarded: "Other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, even Christ Jesus" (1 Cor. 3:2); and the adversaries of the faith are disarmed of the weapon which they have so effectively wielded against us, when they say that the Catholics believe the church to be built, not on Christ, but on a mortal man.
Again referring to the fallacy of the usual modern Romanist interpretation of Luke 22:31-32, he cites his own "Observations," from which we extract the following paragraph:
Neither is there any more value as a proof of papal inerrancy in those words of Christ to Peter (Luke 22:31-32), in which the advocates of this opinion think to find their main argument. Considering the connection in which Christ uttered them, and the words which he proceeded to address to all the apostles, it does not appear that any gift pertaining to the government of the church as then granted or promised to Peter, much less that the gift of inerrancy in Christ's prayer for him that his faith might not fail that is, that he might not wholly or forever lose that trust by which thus far he had clung to Christ. The words of Christ, then, are to be understood, not of faith as a body of doctrine, in which sense it is never used by our Lord.
In another part of the speech he says: "I believe that the proofs of the Catholic faith are to be sought rather in tradition than in the interpretation of the scriptures." And again,
We have in the Holy Scriptures perfectly clear testimony of a commission given to all the apostles, and of ths divine assistance promised to all. These passages are clear, and admit no variation of meaning. We have not even one single passage of scripture, the meaning of which is undisputed, in which anything of the kind is promised to Peter separately from the rest. And yet the authors of the Schema want us to assert that to the Roman pontiff, as Peter's successor, is given that power which cannot be proved by any clear evidence of Holy Scripture to have been given to Peter himself, except just 60 far as he received it in common with the other apostles; and which, being claimed for him separately from the rest, it would follow that the divine assistance promised to them was to be communicated only through him, although it is clear from the passages cited that it was promised to him only in the same manner and in the same terms as to all the others. I admit, indeed, that a great privilege was granted to Peter above the rest; but I am led to this conviction by the testimony, not of the Scriptures, but of all Christian antiquity.
Yet again he says, with reference to the proposed declaration of infallibility:
I boldly declare that that opinion, as it lies in the Schema, is not a doctrine of faith, and that it cannot become such by any definition whatsoever, even by the definition of a council. We are the keepers of the faith committed to us, not its masters.
God only is infallible. Of the church, the most that we can assert is, that it does not err in teaching the doctrines of faith which Christ has committed to its charge; because the gates of hell are not to prevail against it. Therefore, infallibly, absolute and complete, cannot be predicated of it; and perhaps it would be better to refrain from using that word, and use the word "inerrancy" instead.
What need would there be to a Pope who accepted this notion, of the counsel of his brethren, the opinions of theologians, the investigations of the documents of the church? Believing himself to be immediately led by the divine Spirit, and that this Spirit is communicated through him to the church, there would be nothing to hold him back from pressing on in a course on which he had once entered. At the close of his speech, arguing against undue haste, and meeting the objection of the Archbishop of Dublin that an examination into the facts would last too long, in that it would reach to the day of Judgment, he says,
If this be so, it were better to refrain from making any definition at all, than to frame one prematurely. But it is said the honor and authority of the Holy See demand a definition, nor can it be deferred without injury to both. I answer in the words of Jerome, substituting another word for the well-known word auctoritas: Major est calus orbis quam urbis. ["It is better to save the world than the city."] I have done.
Let the reader understand that the authoritative pronunciamento of papal infallibility issued by the Vatican Council in July. 1870. is retroactive. It means that. every ex-cathedra utterance of every Pope of the past ages is infallible and irreformable. As this decree of infallibility is retroactive, I will illustrate its awful significance by citing only four things out of many thousands:
1. In 1320, Pope Boniface VIII issued ex-cathedra a bull, entitled Unum Sanctum, which, under pain of damnation, claims for the Pope what is called the "double sword"; i.e., the secular as well as the spiritual, over the whole Christian world, and the power to depose princes and absolve subjects from their oaths of allegiance. If we would know whether this power has ever been exercised we should ask history to tell us what Pope Paul III did for Henry VIII; Pius V for Queen Elizabeth; how Henry IV of Germany on demand of the Pope went to Canossa, and there barefooted and clad in a hair shirt, waited in penitence, for days, in an outer court, until Pope Gregory VII condescended to receive and absolve him; how Pope Innocent III treated Raymond VI of Toulouse; and others too numerous to mention. Connect all this with the papal declaration that the Popes have never exceeded their powers.
2. In September, 1713, Pope Clement XI issued the bull called Unigenitus, which condemns 101 sentences in a book of the Jansenist, Pasquier Quesnel. Among the sentences condemned are some that assert the total depravity of fallen human nature, others the renewing power of the free grace of God in Christ, but particularly some that assert the right and duty of all Christians to read the Bible for themselves. In the bull of condemnation the following terms are indiscriminately employed to describe the condemned sentences: "False, captious, ill-sounding, offensive to pious ears, scandalous, rash, injurious, seditious, impious, blasphemous, suspected of heresy and savoring of heresy itself, near akin to heresy, several times condemned, and manifestly renewing various heresies, particularly those which are contained in the infamous propositions of Jansenius."
I will cite now the condemned sentences that assert the right and duty of the people to read the Bible, and that there may be no mistake I give them in both Latin and English, retaining the original number of each condemned proposition: (79). Utile et necessarum est ornni tempore, omni loco, et omni personarum generi, studere et cognoscere spiritum, pietatem et mystheria sacrae Scripturae. (80). Lectio sacrae Scripturae est pro omnibus. (81). Obscuritasi sancti verbi Dei non est Jaicis ratio dispensandi se ipsos ab ejus lectione. (82). Dies Dommicus a Christianis debet sanctificari lectionibus pietatiset super omnia sanctarum Scripturarum. (83). Damnosum est, velle Christianum ad hac lectione retrahere. (84). Abripere e Christianorum manibus Novum Testamentum seu eis illud clausum tener auferendo eis modum istud intelligendi, est illish Christi os obturare. (85). Interdicere Christianis lectioneum sacrae Scripturae, praesertim Evangelii, est interdicere usum luminis filis lucis et facere, ut uatiantur speciem quamdam excommunicationis.
As I know of no English version of Quesnel's book, I submit a reasonably accurate translation of the foregoing Latin propositions:
(79). It is useful and necessary at all times, in every place, for all sorts of people, to study and investigate the spirit, piety, and mysteries of the Holy Scriptures. (80). The reading of the Holy Scriptures is for all. (81). The obscurity of the Holy Word of God is not a reason why laymen should excuse themselves from reading it. (82). The Lord's day ought to be hallowed by Christians by readings of piety, and, above all, of the Holy Scripture. (83). It is injurious to wish that a Christian draw back from that reading. (84). To snatch the New Testament from the hands of Christians, or to keep it closed to them by taking away from them this manner of understanding it, is to close to them the mouth of Christ. (85). To forbid to Christians the reading of the Holy Scriptures, especially the Four Gospels, is to forbid the use of light to the sons of light, and to cause them to suffer a certain kind of excommunication.
Let the reader fix the solemn and awful fact in his mind matized by a so-called infallible Pope, claiming to be God's viceregent, and delivering himself ex-cathedra in a sentence of condemnation which) according to the Vatican Council, is irreformable.
3. On December 8, 1854, Pope Pius IX, issued ex-cathedra, the bull entitled Ineffabilis Deus, declaring it to be a divinely revealed fact and dogma, which must be firmly and constantly believed by all the faithful on pain of excommunication, "that the most blessed Virgin Mary, in the first moment of her conception, by a special grace and privilege of Almighty God, in virtue of the merits of Christ, was preserved immaculate from all stain of original sin." The reader will understand that this Romanist dogma of "the immaculate conception" has no reference to our Lord's immaculate conception referred to in Luke 1:35, but to Mary's own conception and birth, concerning which the Scriptures are entirely silent. And to further show what is meant by this unscriptural and antiscriptural dogma, I now cite a paragraph of an encyclical letter, dated February 2, 1849, and sent out to the world by Pope Pius IX: You know full well, venerable brethren, that the whole ground of our confidence is placed in the most holy Virgin. henceforth, if there be in us any hope, if there be any grace, if there be any salvation, we must receive it solely from her, according to the will of Him who would have us possess all through Mary.
4. On December 8, 1864, Pope Pius IX, issued another encyclical letter, entitled Quanta Cura, and a Syllabus of Errors which he anathematized. It was this Syllabus that roused Mr. Gladstone to issue his pamphlet entitled "Vaticanism."
As an encyclical letter of Pope Gregory XVI, in 1831, condemned the liberty of the press, so this encyclical letter, together with the Syllabus condemns liberty of conscience and worship, liberty of speech, free schools under secular control, the authority of the state to define the civil rights of the church, the binding force of any marriage not performed by Romanist authority, the right of a state called Catholic to tolerate any religion but the papal system. Not only are these and many like things condemned, but there are affirmed: The union of church and state, provided it be the Romanist church only; the right of the Romanist church to employ force. Those also are condemned who hold that Roman pontiffs have ever transgressed the limits of their lawful power. Hence I say that these four things, to wit: The bull Unum Sanctum, 1320; the bull Unigenitus, 1713; the bull Ineffabilis Deus, 1854; the Syllabus of Errors, 1864, serve as well as a thousand things to show what papal infallibility, decreed in 1870, means and involves. The dogma certainly places any Pope, however ignorant or immoral, in the place of God to the whole world, and substitutes a sinful and fallible woman for the im
1. What was the scene and who are the historians of the great confession. of Peter at Philippi?
2. What three general observations on these accounts?
3. Give the outline submitted for the whole of sections 64-65.
4. What question arose in the minds of the people from Christ' Galilean ministry?
5. What were the various answers and how do you account for the divergent answers to this question? Illustrate each.
6. What, probably, was our Lord's prayer on this occasion, and what occasion, what Peter's answer and what elements of his answer?
7. What was our Lord's question addressed to the disciples on the meaning of the terms used?
8. What was Christ's response to Peter's answer and what is the inference to this effect?
9. What does Christ's answer to Peter reveal and what other pas sages show the same thing?
10. Indicate the beginning and growth of the disciples' faith in bin as the Messiah up to this time.
11. What important questions arise from this passage?
12. Who founded the church and when?
13. Upon what did Christ found his church and what is the scriptural proof?
14. What is the import of Deuteronomy 32:4, 15, 31; I Samuel 2:2; 2 Samuel 22:2, 32; Psalms 18:2, 31; 61:2; 89:26; 92:15; 95:1; Isaiah 7:10; and 1 Corinthians 10:4?
15. How may faith in Christ be the foundation also? Proof.
16. What do the majority of Protestant scholars regard as the "rock'" here and in what sense is it true?
17. In what sense are the apostles the foundation and what is the scriptural proof?
18. In what sense may the church be founded on Peter?
19. What is the doctrinal foundation? Proof.
20. What is the Roman Catholic position on this question and on what scriptures do they rely to prove it?
21. What are the names of their various arguments? Explain each.
22. What is the resultant jurisdiction of the Pope?
23. What have the Romanist authorities cited here?
24. What four propositions of the Vatican Council? Explain each.
25. What proof is necessary to support these stupendous claims?
26. What was the author's reply to Cardinal Wiseman's contention?
27. Give a summary of Bishop Kenrick's speech combating the papal argument.
28. What was the nature of the pronunciamento of the Vatican Council in 1870?
29. How does the author illustrate its awful significance?
30. What is the sum total of such dogma?
PART III THE TRANSFIGURATION
Harmony, pages 92-94 and Matthew 17:1-13; Mark 9; 2:13; Luke 9:28-36; John 1:14; 2 Peter 1:14-18.
The transfiguration of Jesus is one of the most notable events of his history. The occasion which called forth the event the wonderful facts of the event itself the manifest correlation of these facts with both the near and the remote past, and the near and distant future the primary and multiform design of this event, and the secondary important lessons which may be deduced from it, all conspire to make it notable. The history of the whole case may be gathered from what are called the Synoptic Gospels, that is, Matthew, Mark, and Luke, and from the references to the event by two out of the three witnesses, Peter and John. James, the other eyewitness, was prevented by an early martyrdom from leaving any record. We find an account of his death in Acts 12. He was put to death by Herod. So these are the five historians of the transfiguration. In discussing the subject of the transfiguration, let us consider:
1. The occasion. From the context in Matthew, Mark, and Luke we group in order the following facts, which, taken as a whole, constitute the occasion of the transfiguration:
First fact: While the people generally had vague and conflicting views of the person and mission of Jesus, his immediate disciples had now reached a definite and fixed conclusion that he was the divine Messiah, and had publicly confessed that faith near Caesarea Philippi.
Second fact: On this confession of their faith in his messiahship, he began for the first time to openly and plainly show that the Messiah was to be a suffering Messiah; that he must die; that he must die an ignominious death; that he must die under the condemnation of the supreme court of their nation.
Third fact: At this plain revelation of his death their faith staggers. It is both an inexplicable and abhorrent thing to them. It so deeply stirred them that, through Peter, they present the strongest possible protest. Peter says, "Mercy on thee, Lord, it shall never be." They, while believing him to be the Messiah, wanted a living, conquering Messiah, with a visible, earthly, triumphant kingdom and jurisdiction.
Fourth fact: He sharply rebukes this protest, as satanic in its origin as coming from the devil, and it had originally come from the devil. Now, one of his own apostles comes as a tempter. As if he had said, "You are a stumbling block to me. You quote the very sentiments of the devil, when you would beguile me from the cross to accept an earthly crown." He then adds that to take that view of it is to think men's thoughts and not God's thoughts. He says, "You are minding the things of men and not the things of God when you present such a view as that to me."
Fifth fact: Whereupon, after his turning sharply away from Peter, he calls up the whole multitude to hear with his disciples, the great spiritual and universal law of discipleship, and perhaps it will stagger some to hear it, if they take it in. What was it? Absolute self-renunciation the taking up daily of the cross upon which one is appointed to die, and the following of Christ; carrying the cross even unto the death which is appointed. We have such low conceptions of self-denial. We count it self-denial if we want a little thing and do not get it. We count it cross-bearing if some little burden is put on us and we bear it. That is not the thought in this connection at all. "If any man, whether he be an apostle or anybody else if any man would be my disciple, he must have absolute self-renunciation, and he must take up every day the cross upon which he is appointed to die, and he must follow me, bearing that cross even unto the appointed death." He assured them that a man must not be merely willing to suffer temporal death, if an occasion should arise not at all such a mere contingency but he must actually lose temporal life in order to find eternal life. He must do it. He must lose temporal life to find eternal life, and then puts it to them as a supreme business question of eternal profit and loss. In that very connection he says, "What will it profit a man if he shall gain the whole world and lose his own soul, and what will a man give in exchange for his soul?" It is the universal law of discipleship, from which there is no exception. No Christian can escape crucifixion. The reference is to our sanctification. We not only die judicially on the cross in Christ our substitute (Col. 3:2), but we must actually "put to death our members which are upon the earth" (Col. 3:5). I say this is a universal law: "If ye through the Spirit do mortify [put to death] the deeds of the body ye shall live" (Rom. 8:13). Our sanctification consists of both death and life. The old man must die. The new man must be developed. Paul died daily. In putting on the new man we put off the old man. Our baptism pledges us both to death and life. ' In our progressive sanctification the Holy Spirit reproduces in every Christian the dying of our Lord, as well as his living. In every Christian "a death experience runs parallel with his life experience." Not only Paul must fill up "that which is behind of the afflictions of Christ in his flesh, for his body's sake, which is the church" (Col. 1:24), but all of us must have fellowship with his sufferings. We must suffer with him if we would reign with him. The lamented Dr. Gordon quotes this remarkable passage: "The church is Christian no more than as it is the organ of the continuous passion of Christ." Yes, it is no possible contingency, but a universal fact we must take up the cross. We must lose our life to find it.
Sixth fact: The solemnity of this occasion was deeply intensified by his announcement of his second coming in power and great glory for the final judgment of all mankind according to their decision of that question which he had presented. All this comes just before the transfiguration. After announcing to them his death; after rebuking other conceptions of the messiahship; after presenting the great universal law of discipleship; now he says, "For the Son of man shall come in his glory, with his angels, and shall reward every man according to his doings.
Seventh, and last, fact: Mark it well. Then follows the startling announcement that some of them standing there should never taste of death until they saw this second coming.
These seven facts, taken as a whole, constitute the occasion of the transfiguration of Jesus Christ. Let us restate them: (1) That while the world had vague and conflicting ideas of his person and missions, his immediate disciples had reached the conclusion that he was the divine Messiah, and had publicly confessed that faith. (2) That upon that public confession he commences for the first time plainly and openly to show that this Messiah must be a sufferer and must die. (3) They indignantly and abhorrently repudiate that conception of the Messiah. (4) He rebukes their protest as coming from the devil. (5) He announces the great law of discipleship, that no man could be a disciple of Jesus Christ without absolute self-renunciation, and without taking up every day the cross upon which he was appointed to die, and following Jesus even unto the appointed death, and that it was simply a question of business a supreme business question of profit and loss, and they had to decide one way or the other. "If you prefer to find your life, you will lose it; if you prefer to lose your life, you will find it; if you want to take this world, you will lose your own soul; if you want to save your soul, you must renounce the world." Just that, no less and no more. (6) He announces his second coming in power and glory, as a final judge to determine the destiny of men upon this solitary question: "Did you lose your life for my sake?" (7) The still more startling announcement that some people some of those to whom he was speaking would never taste death until they saw his second coming. That these seven facts, considered as a whole, do in some way constitute the occasion of the transfiguration, is to my mind incontrovertible. Some of the most convincing reasons for the conclusion may be stated.
First: In all the histories the account of the transfiguration follows immediately after the record of these events without & break in the connection. No event of the intervening week is allowed to separate the two transactions. Now, that three historians should, without collusion, follow this method, seems to establish a designed connection between these facts and the transfiguration which followed.
Second: The disheartening protest of the disciples against his position and in favor of the common Jewish idea of an earthly kingdom, would naturally so depress the humanity of Jesus that he himself would need some marvelous encouragement from heaven and would seek it in prayer.
Third: From the same sad cause, it would be necessary that some compensating revelation of future glory must be shown to the disciples in order to make them bear up under the hard condition of present discipleship, and under the awful thought of separation from him by death.
Fourth: It cannot be a mere coincident that the transfiguration is calculated to so exactly supply these things the encouragement to Jesus and compensation to the disciples, both for the death of Jesus and for the hard terms of present discipleship.
2. The event. Such being the occasion, then, let us reverently approach the wonderful transaction itself. The scene cannot have been at Mount Tabor in Lower Galilee, as tradition would have us believe. While it is not now necessary to show how insuperable are the objections to Mount Tabor as the place, yet it is important to note, by the way, that little reliance can ever be placed on the exact localities of great events in the New Testament, as indicated by tradition, because the inspired record oftentimes designedly and wisely leaves them indeterminate. It is not small proof of inspiration by him who knew the superstitions of men, and would provide no food to feed it on. Christ left neither autograph nor portrait to be worshiped as relics. None of the historians even/ hint at a personal description of Jesus. We know absolutely nothing of the color of his eyes or hair. Absolutely nothing of his height or size. Worshipers of shrines, relics, and souvenirs derive no sort of help or encouragement from the New Testament. The scene of the transfiguration was evidently near Caesarea Philippi, and on some mountain spur of the Hermon range. It could not have been anywhere else from the circumstances going before and after the event. The time is night, somewhere about seven months before his crucifixion. The object is prayer in some lonely private place. His companions are Peter, James, and John. It must have been an all-night prayer meeting, for they did not come down from the mountain until the next day, and it is stated that the three disciples were heavy with sleep, as on a later and more solemn occasion, these very three men succumbed to the spirit of sleep, through the weakness of the flesh. The original here, however, would lead us to infer that they forced themselves to remain awake, notwithstanding their strong inclination to sleep, and now, late in the night, struggling against an almost irresistible desire to sleep, but yet their gaze fixed upon their Master, who is yet praying, they behold a sight that drives sleep utterly away. What do they see? A wonderful sight indeed; earth never saw a more wonderful one. Mark you, it is no vision or dream. With the use of their natural senses, sight and hearing, being fully awake, they became the wit- nesses of three distinct remarkable supernatural events. These three things are: first, the transfiguration of Jesus; second, the glorified forms of Moses and Elijah; third, the luminous cloud symbol and the voice of the eternal God. Now, let us consider separately each one of these things:
"Transfiguration: what does the word mean? The word means to transform to change the form or appearance. In what respect was the appearance or form of Jesus changed? It was this: It is in the night; it is on that lonely mountaintop; and while they look at him, he begins to shine as from a light within. The light seems to struggle through him. He seems to become translucent, and his whole body becomes luminous, as if it were a human electric jet, and the light is white whiter than any fuller on earth could make it, and his face is brighter than the shining of the sun at midday. Let us carefully collate the several records: Matthew says, "And after six days Jesus taketh with him Peter, and James, and John, his brother, and bringeth them up into a high mountain apart." Mark says, "They went up into that mountain to pray." There are the four separating themselves from all the others and going up into that high mountain to hold a prayer meeting. Luke then says, "And as Jesus was praying, the fashion of his countenance altered," or, as Matthew says, "His face did shine as the sun and his garments became as white as light," or, as Mark says, "And his garments became glistering, exceeding white, so as no fuller on earth could whiten," and, as Luke says, "His raiment became white and dazzling." We notice that two things are referred to, first, the fashion of his countenance, and second, the shining of his garments. Jesus becomes as a pillar of fire to them, as they look at him. That is the first thing they saw that night. Then suddenly there is an interview held with him. Those who come to hold the interview with him are not from hell; they are not from earth. He has gone up on that mountaintop and implored the Father for something. As a result of his prayer, an interview is held with him. Who comes to hold that interview with him? The two most remarkable men of the past: the representative of the law, and the representative of prophecy Moses, the great law-giver, and Elijah, the greatest of the prophets. These three witnesses could instinctively, by spiritual intuition, recognize them. Of course, they had never personally known them, but it was given to them to recognize them. And what do they look like? They are also in glory; they are luminous. There are the three shining bodies together, and they enter into conversation they are talking. What are they talking about? Now, mark the occasion. Jesus had said to his disciples, "I go up to Jerusalem to die. I must die. There is a' necessity that I should die, and these disciples abhorred the thought that I should die. Oh, Father, show them by some way that I must die. Is there no one in the past whose evidence would avail?" Out from the past comes Moses and says, "Jesus, I came to talk to you about your death." Out from the land of the prophets comes Elijah and he says, "Jesus, I came to talk to you about your death." The law says the substitute of the sinner must die. Moses comes from the other world, representing the law, saying to the substitute of the sinner, "You must die." Elijah says, "You must die." Every voice from the prophets calls for the death of the Messiah. "And they come to talk to him about his death" his death that should take place at Jerusalem. Suppose Moses had said this: "Jesus, I died on Mount Nebo. No man on earth knows where my bones are resting. Unless you die, that body will never be raised, never, never." Suppose Elijah had said: "Jesus, I escaped death as to my body. I was translated. I was carried up to heaven, and am now enjoying in both soul and body the blessed glories of the eternal world, upon your promise to die. That promise must be redeemed. I am in heaven on a credit the credit is on your promise to pay. You must die." "They talked with him concerning his/ death at Jerusalem."
They are now about to leave. They have had their interview, and they are going back, and just as they are about to depart. Peter is terribly frightened, but they never could put Peter in a place where he would not say something. Peter sees that the guests are about to leave, although trembling with apprehension, and not knowing what he did thinking, however, that he ought to say something, as if he had said, "Lord, they intend to go," and in the original it does not say, let us build three tabernacles; it says, "Lord, I will build three tabernacles, one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah." Now, while Peter said that, there came the third wonderful thing, and the only time that it ever was seen in the New Testament dispensation, though it had often been seen in the earlier days the cloud symbol of God. How did the cloud symbol of God appear? If it was in the daytime, it appeared as a beautiful pillar of cloud; if it was the nighttime, it appeared as a pillar of fire. Now, the old-time drapery of God, the fire cloud, that had not been witnessed since far off Old Testament days that fire cloud came down and wrapped Moses and Elijah and Jesus in its folds of light. As it wrapped them, there leaped from its bosom, as leaps the lightning from the clouds, a voice: "This is my beloved Son: hear ye him." And they fell as if lightning had struck them. Fear had taken possession of them from the beginning; their apprehensions had grown more and more demoralizing from the very beginning of the supernatural manifestation, but when this voice spoke this voice of God, they fell on their faces; they could not bear to face that burning cloud and to hear that awful voice, and there they lie, as still as if dead, until Jesus comes and stoops over them, and touches them, each one, and says: "Do not be afraid," and they rise up and the cloud is gone, and Moses and Elijah are gone. Now, these are the things they witnessed three entirely distinct things: The transfiguration of Jesus; the glorified appearance of Moses and Elijah; the fire cloud, which was the symbol of the divine presence, and the audible Voice. Such were the wonderful facts of the event. Now comes the next question:
3. The design What was meant by the transfiguration? We go back and look at it to see if we can gather there the design. We take the testimony of the men who actually witnessed these transaction, in order to get the design. Lets see what that is. First, he had said that there were some people there that should never taste death until they saw the coming of the Son of man until they saw the second coming of the Son of man until they saw the kingdom of God come with power. Unquestionably that is what he said: that there were some people there that should never taste death until they saw the second coming of Jesus Christ. Let's see what one of the witnesses says about this. I cite the testimony of Peter: "For we have not followed cunningly devised fables, when we made known unto you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of his majesty. For he received from God the Father, honor and glory when there came such a voice to him from the excellent glory, This is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased. And this voice which came from heaven we heard, when we were with him in the holy mount." Now mark what Peter says, that in preaching to these people that Christ would come again the second time with power and great glory and as a final judge, he had not followed a cunningly devised fable, but he preached what he had witnessed; that he, on Mount of Transfiguration, had gazed upon the second coming of Christ in some sense, in whatever sense that might be. He had seen it. He was an eyewitness of the power and majesty of that second coming. Let's see what J John said about it. He was the other witness. In John l:14, and in the parenthesis of that verse, we have this: "And we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father." When did John see his glory, as of the only begotten of the Father? The glory of Christ always in the New Testament when spoken of in its fulness, is that glory which shall attend him when he comes the second time. The first time he came without glory; he came in his humiliation. The second time, he comes in glory, as we learn from Matthew 24: "The Son of man shall come in all of his glory, and all of his holy angels with him, and then shall he sit on the throne of his glory." John says that he, with others witnessed the glory of Jesus Christ, as of the only begotten of the Father. He saw it, and like Peter, he saw it on the Mount of Transfiguration. As a further proof of it, in John 12:24 we have an account of Jesus praying, and he says, "Father, glorify me," and instantly that same voice says, loud as thunder, "I have glorified thee, and will glorify thee." So that the glory that they witnessed was in some sense the glory of the second Coming of Jesus Christ. It was a miniature representation of the power and glory that would be displayed when he does come an anticipatory scene presenting to the ye on a small scale that great and awful event in the future.
When Jesus does come, every living Christian will instantly be transfigured. He will take on the resurrection body. He will take on a glorified body just as Elijah and Enoch did. As Paul puts it: "Behold I show you a mystery; we shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump; for the trumpet shall sound and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?" Here was Elijah, the type and representation of that work. Here was Elijah, who without death, by the transfiguring power, had been carried up to heaven. Here he was talking to Jesus.
There is another thing that will take place when Jesus comes. The dead will be raised. The bodies that have been buried and turned to dust are to be reanimated and "are to be glorified in one moment of time. Corruption puts on incorruption; mortality puts on immortality; sleep changes to waking; and the dead rise up and are glorified in the twinkling of an eye. As Paul again puts it: "But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him. For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord, shall not prevent them which are asleep. For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God; and the dead in Christ shall rise first. Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air, and so shall we ever be with the Lord. Wherefore comfort one another with these words." Here is Moses representing that thought. Moses died; he did not escape death like Enoch and Elijah. Moses died, and no man has ever been able to tell where he was buried. The devil tried to take possession of his body, but here in this transfiguration scene appears Moses glorified as Elijah is glorified. In type, these represent the two great displays of divine power at the second coming of Jesus Christ, and they are the very two that are needed to be brought to bear on the discouraged heart of the disciples who have been informed that Jesus will die.
They wanted a living Messiah. They wanted an earthly king. To say that he will die means the loss of everything to them. They have not yet looked over the border. Now, how can a revelation be given to them that will compensate them for the awfully disheartening effect of the announcement that their Messiah must die? Why, in order to compensate them, there must be some revelation of the future. They must have an insight into the things which shall be. The curtains must be drawn aside. They must look beyond death. They must see into the spirit world. They must see samples of heavenly glory that are to be brought about by the death of Christ, and as they gaze upon that transfiguration of Jesus, which pledges the resurrection of his body when he dies, they can understand that death; and when they see the forerunner of his death in Moses and Elijah, as types of classes, and can thereby look to the end of time and see all the sleeping bodies brought to life, and the living Christians changed if anything on earth is calculated to remove their depression, that scene is certainly calculated to remove it.
I venture to say that every Christian has become at times disheartened and depressed when he looked at the sacrifices that have to be made in order to be a Christian; when he looked at the stern and unrelenting laws of discipleship absolute self-renunciation absolutely, a man must deny himself. When one denies Christ, what does that mean? "I will not have him to rule over me." Now, when we deny self, what does that mean? "I absolutely abjure thee, O self, as the ruler of my life. I repudiate thee, self. I have another King." When we take up these duties and requirements, that is the start only, but every day of our lives requires us to see to it that self is crucified; that the body shall be mortified; that the deeds of the flesh shall be crucified; that they shall be put to death. When we daily take up that cross, and know that this must go on as long as we live, even up to the very time that we die, where is the compensation? It is in this: If I do not renounce self, if I do not follow Christ to crucifixion, I will ultimately lose self. I will lose my soul. This supreme business question comes up before me for decision: Shall I gain the world and lose myself, or shall I save myself and lose the world? Now, to help a man on that; to help him to decide rightly; to take away from him any discouragement, and the disheartening depression, what can do it so forcibly as to bring him up on a mountain and cause him by night, in the loneliness of its solemn hours, to witness an interview with the glorified spirits that have passed out of earth's sorrows and pains and disappointments, and now in the midst of the blessedness which is theirs forever. It is to bring him where he can see the ordinarily closed doors of the arching heavens open, and down through the opening the light of the eternal world transfigures everyone upon whom it shines, and looking at that he will say, "Oh, self, die; oh, world, you shall not be my master. Jesus, I am coming; I follow; I take up the cross. I carry it to the place where I must die the appointed death on the appointed cross. I accept it for Christ's sake." So the transfiguration fits the occasion of it by meeting the needs of the disciples.
Let us now see if that design of the transfiguration met the need of Christ. Oh we must remember that he had humanity, that, he could not help feeling terribly discouraged when these, his chosen disciples, the witnesses of his power, at this late day in his ministry, while they had clearly recognized him as the divine Messiah, yet did not recognize him as a suffering Messiah, and still clung with old Jewish ideas to the thought of an earthly conquering king. How it must have disheartened him! Then, we remember that from the beginning he saw his death, but as he neared it, the shadows on his brow had deepened, and the depressing effect of it weighed him down more and more as he got closer to it, at every approach of it, feeling more and more the anguish of it, and now with these thoughts upon him, he had spent so much time and labor, his loneliness, his solitariness oppresses him, and he wants to pray. He wants to get alone and pray; and on that mountain top he prays: "Oh, Father, nobody down here understands me, nobody, not even my disciples; send me sympathy, send me some revelation that shall cheer and sustain me; let somebody from the upper world come and talk with me here on the edge of the battlefield, where I am breast- ing the tide by myself." And he prays until the glory of God in him bursts through the opaqueness of the flesh and makes translucent, and he is glorified by his importunate prayer. And the Father comes down from heaven, comes in a drapery of clouds, comes in his drapery of fire, and wraps around with its folds of light the dear Redeemer, and speaks to him. "My Son, my beloved Son, my chosen One on earth, hear him! Hear him! Hear him I Not Moses, not Elijah, hear the Son of God." That strengthened him, and he went back to his burden with lighter heart. That is what I understand to be the design of the transfiguration.
4. Its relations See how the facts of that transfiguration correlate themselves. with the near and the remote past and with the near and the remote future.
The facts of the transfiguration reached right over and took hold of the scene of that confession at Caesarea Philippi; they go on back until they touch the prophetic days and grasp the hand of Elijah; they go on back to the days of Israel in the wilderness and take the hand of Moses; they go on back until they touch the first promise of mercy in Eden. Then they go forward until they touch the death in Jerusalem. They touch the resurrection after that death; they reach through the silent centuries of the unborn future and take hold of the second coming; they speak of hovering angels and heavenly glory, and open graves, and the white throne of the judgment, correlating with all the past, and correlating with all the future, harmonizing law and prophecy and gospel; showing that in Jesus, they all meet in perfection, and also showing that in Jesus is the redemption of all the world.
Such is the relation of the transfiguration to the past and present and future.
"Say nothing about it; say nothing about ill" Well, why say nothing about it? "Do not tell it now; wait until I am dead; wait until I have risen from the dead; and when I have risen from the dead you may tell this story, and it will fit into the resurrection so that no man will disbelieve it. If you tell it now they cannot understand it, but wait until I have risen and then it will instantly appear to men to be a miniature resurrection scene."
I have thus presented to you what I conceive to be: (1) the occasion of the transfiguration; (2) the wonderful facts of the event itself; (3) the design of that event; (4) the correlation of that event with the past and with the future, and now what are its lessons for us?
5. Its lessons for us. There is one thing about a pastor that a congregation never can understand never can, and that is his concern that the congregation may get upon a higher plane of Christianity. Sometimes it is like a stroke of death. What kind of Christians are we? What kind of self-denial do we now exhibit? What kind of cross-bearing? What kind of discipleship? What kind of decision of the question of profit and loss? And after intense agony, I pray, "Oh, God, multiply the number that will make a full renunciation of self." We ourselves know that the majority of church members are walking on the edge only of practical Christianity; just. on the edge of it. Oh, the value of the spiritual power that will come upon all who will utterly decide the question who will truly say: "I am God's all over. He is Lord of all my time, and all my money and all of my life." Now and then we find a few that will come up to that just a few. In view of the low grade of present Christianity, the very few that attain the gift of the Spirit, what is it that keeps pastors from being discouraged? From being utterly disheartened? What is it that keeps despair from spreading her mantle of gloom over his pulpit and over his heart? What is it that keeps away the howling wolves, and the ill-boding owls and ravens, that creeping or swooping from the plutonian shores of night, croak and howl their prophecies of evil? What is it? It is that every now and then he gets on some mount of transfiguration, where after long prayer; where after reconsecration; where after offering up himself and his soul and his body to God Almighty, the heavens open and show him the glorious future, so beautiful, so shining, so near, so enchanting, so drawing, so thrilling, that he goes back, and says, "Well, I can stand anything now." And every now and then God comes so to a church. He did to us, once, while I was pastor in Waco. He did rend the heavens and come down. The fire cloud was on the church. Heaven was near to us. We saw it. We felt it. Its glory could be touched, and under the power of that revival, earth seemed little and insignificant, and all of its claims were DO more than thistledown on the breath of the storm.
O that our children some dark night, awfully dark night, should be up on a spiritual mountain and see a fire church, see a translucent church, a church in touch with angels, a church hearing heavenly voices, a church wrapped in the great fire symbol of God, then might they believe and receive in their trusting hearts an impression that would affect forever and forever their life.
Shall we not pray that God may cause us to take a solemn look at that universal and spiritual and absolute law of discipleship? "If any man would be my disciple, let him renounce himself, take up his cross and follow me. He that loses his life for my sake shall find it." "What shall it profit a man if he shall gain the whole world and lose his own soul?" O Lord, we are in the valley just now. Its shadows are as the shadows of death. Lead us, we pray thee, for a little while up to the top of the Delectable Mountains, from whose unclouded summits we may catch again the inspiring, transfiguring view of the Heavenly City. Thus reassuring our desponding hearts, and refreshing our weary minds, we may resume our pilgrimage in hope of speedily arriving at our heavenly home.
1. What things conspire to make the transfiguration a notable event?
2. What are the sources of its history and import?
3. What facts constitute its occasion?
4. What reasons assigned for the conclusion?
5. What was the scene of this event and what left in doubt by the inspired record? Illustrate.
6. What was the time?
7. What was the object of the going on this mountain?
8. Who were Jesus' companions?
9. What were the events while on the mountain leading up to the transfiguration?
10. Was what they saw a dream or vision?
11. What were the three distinct, supernatural events which they saw here?
12. What is the meaning of the word "transfiguration"?
13. Describe this transfiguration of Jesus.
14. What two Old Testament characters appear in interview here with Jesus, how were they recognized by Peter, James, and John and what was the bearing on the question of heavenly recognition?
15. What was the subject of their conversation, what were the circumstances which led up to it, what was the bearing of the work of Moses and Elijah on this subject, respectively, and how illustrated in each case?
16. What was Peter's proposition and why?
17. What Old Testament symbol reappeared here and what was its special significance?
18. What voice did they hear and what was its import?
19. What was the design of this incident?
20. What was Peter's testimony? What was John's?
21. What was the significance of the appearance of Elijah here and how does this correlate with the New Testament teaching on this thought?
22. What was the significance of the appearance of Moses here and how does this thought correlate with New Testament teaching?
23. What was their conception of the Messiah and what was the bearing of this incident on that conception?
24. What was the requirement of discipleship and what was the bearing of this incident on it?
25. Show that the design of the transfiguration met the need of Christ just at this time.
26. What was probably Christ's prayer here on this occasion and how does this fit the idea of his need at this time?
27. How do the facts of the transfiguration correlate themselves with the past and the future?
28. What charge did our Lord give his disciples relative to this incident & why?
29. What are the lessons of the transfiguration for us?
30. What illustration of this transfiguration power from the life of the author?
SEASON OF RETIREMENT PART IV THE CLOSING INCIDENTS
Harmony, pages 94-103 and Matthew 17:14 to 18:35; 8:19-22; Mark 9:9-50; Luke 9:37-62; John 7:2-10.
When Christ and the three disciples who were with him at the transfiguration returned from the Mount they saw a great multitude gathered about the nine and the scribes questioning with them. Then follows the story of the failure of the nine to cast out the evil spirit of a demoniac boy and Jesus' rebuke of their little faith, upon which our Lord healed the boy and restored him to his father. This story is interesting from several points of view. First, the case was an exceptional One and so difficult that the nine were unable to cast the Evil spirit out. Second, this is the only case of demonical epilepsy in the New Testament, the description of which by Mark is very vivid and much more in detail than that of either of the other evangelists. Third, Christ's momentary impatience at dwelling amid such an environment is nowhere else so expressed, perhaps the more distressing from the contrast with the scene of the transfiguration, a few hours before. Fourth, the rebuke of the boy's father is a fine lesson. He said, "If thou canst do anything, have compassion on us, and help us." Jesus answered, "If thou canst!" We see here the point of the rebuke. Herefore we have found the form of faith that said, "If thou wilt, thou canst," but this man reversed it: "If thou canst do anything, help us." But the rebuke of Jesus set him right in his faith and then healed the boy. What a lesson for us! So often the Lord has to set us right in our faith before he can consistently give us the blessing. Fifth, the explanation which Jesus gave of their failure and the possibilities of God through the children of faith are a most helpful encouragement to the Christian of today. All difficulties may be removed by the power of faith. Sixth, the prescription of prayer as a means to the strengthen- ing of faith is a valuable suggestion as to the mans of our overcoming. Prayer is the hour of victory for the child of God. This is the winning point for every worker in the kingdom. All victories for God are won in the closet before the day of battle. Let us heed the lesson.
While on the way from Caesarea Philippi Jesus revealed again to his disciples that he must suffer and die and rise again, but they did not understand and were afraid to ask him. They were very slow to comprehend the idea of a suffering Messiah. This they did not understand fully until after his resurrection. This thought is more fully developed in connection with his submitted test of his messiahship which is discussed elsewhere in this INTERPRETATION OF THE GOSPELS.
When they came to Capernaum an event occurred which made a lasting impression on Peter. This was the incident of the half-shekel for the Temple. When asked if his Lord was accustomed to pay the Temple tax, Peter said, "Yes." But Peter did not have the money to pay it with, and our Lord, after showing Peter that he (Jesus) was exempt, told him to go to the sea and take the piece of money from the mouth of a fish and pay the Temple tax for Peter and himself, in order that there might be left to the Jews no occasion of stumbling with reference to him as the Messiah.
In section 70 we have the lesson on how to be great, which arose from their dispute as to who among them should be the greatest. To this Jesus replied that the greatest one of all was to be servant of all, and illustrated it by the example of a little child. The characteristic of the little child to be found in the subjects of his kingdom is humility.. Then he goes on to show that to receive one of such little children was to receive him. Here John, one of the "sons of thunder," interrupted him with a question about one whom he saw casting out demons, yet he was not following with them. Then Jesus, after setting John right, went on with his illustration of the little child, showing the awful sin of causing a little one who believes on him to stumble, and pronounces a woe unto the world because of the occasion of stumbling, saying that these occasions must come, but the woe is to the man through whom they come. The occasions of stumbling arise from the sin of man and the domination of the devil, but that does not excuse the man through whom they come.
Now follows a pointed address in the second person singular, showing the cases in which we become stumbling blocks, in which he also shows the remedy, indeed a desperate remedy for a desperate case. This passage needs to be treated more particularly. Then, briefly, what the meaning of the word "offend"? If thy hand offend thee, if thine eye offend thee, if thy foot offend thee; what is the meaning of this word? We find it in the English in the word "scandal," that is, "scandal" is the Anglicized form of the Greek word here used. But the word "scandalize," as used in the English, does not express the thought contained in this text, since that is a modern derived meaning of the word. Originally it meant the trigger of a trap, that trigger which being touched caused the trap to fall and catch one, and from that of its original signification it came to have four well-known Bible meanings. An instance of each one of the four meanings, fairly applicable to this passage here, will be cited. First, it means a stumbling block, that which causes any one to fall, and in its spiritual signification, that which causes any one to fall into a sin. If thy hand causeth thee to fall into a sin, if thine eye causeth thee to fall into a sin, if thy foot causeth thee to fall into a sin, cut it off, pluck it out. It is more profitable to enter heaven maimed than to have the whole body cast into hell. The thought is as we see it in connection with a stumbling block, that we fall unexpectedly into the sin, as if we were going along not looking down and should suddenly stumble over something in our regular path, where we usually walk. Now, "if thine eye causeth thee, in the regular walk of life, to put something in that pathway that, when you were not particularly watching, will cause you to stumble and fall into a sin" that is the first thought of it.
Its second meaning is an obstacle or obstruction that causes one to stop. He does not fall over this obstacle, but it blocks his way and he stops. He does not fall, but he does not go on. To illustrate this use of the word, John the Baptist, in prison, finding the progress of his faith stopped by a doubt, sent word to Christ to know, "Art thou he that should come, or do we look for another?" Evidently showing that some unbelief had crept into his heart that had caused him to stop. He was not going on in the direction that he had been going, and hence, when Jesus sent word to John of the demonstrations of his divinity, He added this expression, using this very word, "Blessed is the man who is not offended in me." "Blessed is the man who in me does not find an obstacle that stops him." Anything that is an occasion of unbelief fulfils this meaning of the word. If thine eye causes something to be put in thy path that suggests a doubt as to the Christian religion, and by that doubt causeth thee that had been going steadily forward, to stop, pluck it out. Let me give another illustration: In the parable of the sower, our Saviour, in expounding why it was that the grain that had fallen upon the rock and came up and seemed to promise well for awhile, afterward, under the hot sun, withered away and perished, says, "There are some people that hear the word of God and, for awhile, seem to accept it, but when tribulation or persecution cometh they are offended they are stopped." That is the meaning of the word strictly. Persecution and tribulation cometh and an obstacle is put in their path that causes them to stop. Now, if thine eye causes an obstacle to be put in thy Christian path, that causeth thee to stop and not go forward, pluck it out. Yet another illustration: Our Saviour, who had announced a great many doctrines that people could easily understand and accept, suddenly, on one occasion, announced a hard doctrine, very hard, and from that time it is said that many of his disciples followed him no more. They stopped. Now, there was something in them, in the eye or the hand or the foot, that found an occasion of unbelief in the doctrine he announced, and they stopped. I remember a very notable instance, where a man, deeply impressed in a meeting, and giving fair promise of having passed from death to life, happened to be present when the scriptural law of the use of money was expounded, and he stopped. Some obstacle stretched clear across his path. It was the love of money in his heart. He couldn't recognize God's sovereignty over money. As if he had said, "If you want me to cry; if you want me to say I am sorry, I will say it; if you want me to join the church, I will join it; if you want me to be baptized, I will be baptized; but if you want me to honor God with my money, I stop."
Now, the third use of the word. It is sometimes used to indicate, not something over which one stumbles and falls into a sin, and not an obstacle that blocks up his pathway, but in the sense of something that he runs up against and hurts himself and so becomes foolishly angry. As when one, at night, trying to pass out of a dark room, strikes his head against the door, and in a moment flies into a passion. "Now, if thine eye causeth thee to run up against an object that when you strike it offends you, makes you mad, pluck it out and cast it from thee."
These three senses of this word have abundant verifications in the classical Greek and a vast number of instances in the Bible, in the Old and New Testaments. But there is a fourth use of the word. That is where the eye has caused a man to turn aside from the right path and to reject the wise counsel of God, and to indulge in sin until God has given him up; then God sets a trap for him right in the path of his besetting sin. In Romans 11:9 we find that use of the word: "Let their table be made a trap for them." That is to say, God, after trying to lead a man to do right, if he persists in doing wrong, the particular sin, whatever hat may be, whether it be of pride, or lust, or pleasure, whatever it may be, that particular, besetting sin which has caused him to reject God, will make the occasion of his ruin, and in the track of it God will set the trap, and the man is certain to fall into it and be lost. Now, these are the four Bible uses of this term "offend." Greek: Scandalon, the noun, and skandalizo, the verb. "If thine eye causeth thee to offend," that is, "If your eye causeth you to put something in your path over which you will unexpectedly fall into a sin; if thine eye causeth thee to put an obstacle clear across your path, so that you stop; if thine eye causeth thee to put some object against which you will unthoughtedly run and hurt yourself and become incensed; if thine eye causeth thee to go into a sin that shall completely alienate you from God, and in the far distant track of which God sets a trap that will be sure to catch your soul pluck it out."
The next thing needing explanation: People who look only at the shell of a thing may understand this passage to mean mutilation of the body. They forget that the mutilation of the body is simply an illustration of spiritual things. Take a case: One of the most beautiful and sweet-spirited girls I ever knew, before whom there seemed to stretch a long and bright and happy future, was taken sick, and the illness, whatever the doctors may call it, was in the foot, and the blood would not circulate. The doctors could not bring about the circulation and that foot finally threatened the whole body. Then the doctors said, "This foot must be amputated." And they did amputate it. They amputated it to save her life. They cut off that member because it offered the only possible means of saving the other foot and both hands and the whole body and her life. It was sternness of love, resoluteness of affection, courage of wisdom that sacrificed a limb to save the body. Now using that necessity of amputation. as an illustration, our Saviour says, "If thy hand offend thee, cut it off; if thy foot offend thee, cut it off. If thine eye offend thee, pluck it out." But that he does not mean bodily mutilation is self-evident from this: that if we were to cut off our hand we could not stop the spiritual offense; if we were to pluck out the eye we could not stop the spiritual offense on the inside, in the soul; no lopping off to external branches would reach that. But what our Saviour means to teach is this: That as a wise physician, who discovers, seated in one member of the body, a disease that if allowed to spread will destroy the whole body, in the interest of mercy cuts off that diseased limb, so, applying this to spiritual things, whatever causes us to fall into sin, we should cut loose from it at every cost.
One other word needs to be explained, the word "Gehenna." It is a little valley next to Jerusalem that once belonged to the sons of Hinnom. It came to pass that in that valley was instituted an idol worship, and there the kings caused their children to pass through the fire to Moloch, and because of this iniquity a good king of Israel defiled that valley, made it the dumping ground of all refuse matter from the city. The excrement, the dead things, the foul and corrupt matter was all carried out and put in that valley. And because of the corruption heaped there, worms were always there, and because of the burning that had been appointed as a sanitary measure, the fire was always there. Now that was used as an illustration to indicate the spiritual condition of a lost soul; of a soul that had become as refuse matter; of a soul that had become entirely cut loose from God and given up to its own devices; that had become bad through and through; that had become such a slave to passion, or lust or crime, that. it was incorrigible, and the very nature of the sin which possessed it was like a worm that never dies. There was a gnawing, a ceaseless gnawing going on, referring to conscience, and there was a burning and a thirst going on. Now those images our Saviour selected were to represent the thought of hell.
Having explained its words, look now at the passage itself: "If thine eye offend thee, pluck it out." What is the principle involved in that exhortation? First, that it is a man's chief concern to see that he does not miss the mark; that he does not make shipwreck; that he does not ruin himself. That is the chief concern of every boy, of every girl, of every man and woman, to see to it that he does not miss the mark of his being; that he does not make shipwreck; that he does not go to utter ruin.
The next thought involved in it is that in case we do miss the mark; in case we do make shipwreck; in case our soul is lost, then there is no profit and no compensation to us in any thing we ever had. "For what shall it profit a man if he gain the whole world and lose his own soul?" If he misses the main thing, if he makes shipwreck of his own soul, then wherein does the compensation come to him that in his life he had this or that treasure, this pleasure or that; that he was able to attain to this ambition or that; that he for such a while, no matter how long, was on top in society or fashion in the world? What has it profited him if the main thing worthy of supreme concern, is lost?
The next thought is this: Whatever sacrifice is necessary to the securing of the main thing, that we must make. That is what this passage means, and no matter how dear a treasure may be to us; no matter how much we esteem it, if it be necessary that we should give it up or that our soul should be lost, this passage calls on us to give it up. A man may have in a ship a vast amount of money which he idolizes, but in the night he is alarmed by the cry of fire; he rushes upon the deck and he finds that the ship is hopelessly in flames and that the only way of escape is to swim to the shore. Now he stands there for a moment and meditates: "I have here a vast amount of money, in gold. If I try to take this gold with me in this issue in which the main thing, my life, is involved, it will sink me. My life is more than this money. O glittering gold, I leave you. I strike out, stripped of every weight and swim for my life." It means that he ought to leave behind everything that would jeopardize his gaining the shore. A ship has a valuable cargo. It has been acquired by toil and anxiety and industry. It may be that the cargo in itself is perfectly innocent, but in a stress of weather, with a storm raging and with a leak in the vessel and the water rising, it becomes necessary to lighten that ship. Now whatever is necessary to make it float, to keep it above water, that must be done. If there be anything which, if permitted to remain in that ship, will sink it, throw it out. They that do business in great waters know the wisdom of this. Why? It is a question of sacrificing the inferior to the greater and better.
The next thought involved is this: Whenever it says, "If thine eye offend thee, pluck it out," I venture to say that it is a demonstration, by the exhortation addressed to us personally, that if ruin comes to us it comes by our own consent. I mean to say that no matter what is the stress of outside seduction, nor how cunningly the devil may attempt to seduce and beguile us, all the devils in hell and all the extraneous temptations that may environ a man can never work his shipwreck if he does not consent.
The next point involved is, that whenever one does consent to temptation, whenever the ruin comes to him, it comes on account of some internal moral delinquency. Out of the heart are the issues of life. Out of the heart proceed murder, lust, blasphemy, and every crime which men commit. I mean to say that as the Bible declares that no murderer shall inherit eternal life, that external incentives to murder amount to nothing unless in him, in the man, in the soul, there be a susceptibility or a liability or moral weakness that shall open the door to the tempter and let in the destroyer.
Now if that be true we come naturally to the next thought in this text, that is, God saves a man, and if God can save a man, he must save him in accordance with the laws of his own nature. That is to say, that God must, in order to the salvation of that man, require truth in the inward part; that nothing external will touch the case; that God's requirements must take hold, not of the long delayed overt act, but of the lust in the heart which preceded the act and made the act. And therefore, while a human court can take jurisdiction only of murder actually committed, God goes inside of the man and says, "Whosoever hateth his brother is a murderer." From hate comes murder. If God saves you he must save you from the internal hate. Human law takes hold of a case of adultery. God's law goes to the eye: "Whosoever looketh upon a woman to lust after her hath already committed adultery with her in his heart." God requireth truth in the inward part. And if one is saved he must be saved internally; he must be saved, not only from the guilt and penalty of sin, but he must be saved from the love of it and from the dominion of it.
The next point: With that law looking inside, looking at our thoughts, looking at the springs of action, the question comes up, "How shall one save his soul? How shall one so attain to the end of his being as that in the main thing he shall not miss the mark?" He has to look at it as an exceedingly sober question. There is no child's play about it. He must not rely upon the quack remedies of philosophers and impostors, or rely upon any external rite, upon joining the church or being baptized, or partaking of the Lord's Supper. The awful blasphemy of calling that the way to heaven! God requireth truth in the inward part, and if we are saved, we must be saved inside. As a wise man, having my chief business to save my soul, I must scrupulously look at everything with which I come in contact. Some men's weaknesses are in one direction and some in. another, but the chief thing for me is to find out my weakness, what is my besetting sin, where is the weak point in my line of defense, where am I most susceptible to danger, where do I yield most readily? And if I find that the ties of blood are making me lose my soul, I must move out of my own family, and therefore in the Mosaic law it is expressly said, "If thine own son, if the wife of thy bosom, shall cause thee to worship idols and turn away. from the true God, thou shalt put thine own hand on the head as the first witness, that they may be stoned. Thou shalt not spare." It is a question of our life, and if our family ties are such that they are dragging us down to death, we must strike out for our life. And that is why marriage is the most solemn and far-reaching question that ever came up for human decision. More souls are lost right there, more women go into hopeless bondage, more men are shipwrecked by that awful tie, than by anything else.
Then he goes on to show that these little believers must not be despised, because their angels are always before their heavenly Father, just as the angels of more highly honored Christians. This thought he illustrates with the parable of the ninety and nine, the interpretation of which might be considered as follows: (1) If there are many worlds and but one is lost, (2) if there are many creatures and only man is lost, (3) if there were many just persons, and only one is lost, then we find the lost world, the lost race, the one lost man is near the heart of the Saviour, the principle being that the weakest, the most needy, the most miserable are nearest the Shepherd's heart. "Even so it is not the will of your Father which is in heaven, that one of these little ones should perish," is the conclusion of the Saviour.
In section 71 we have our Lord's great discussion on forgiveness, i.e., man's forgiveness of man. This subject is amply treated in volume 1, chapter xvi of this INTERPRETATION and also in my sermon on "Man's Forgiveness of Man." (I refer the reader to these discussions for a full exposition of this great passage.)
In section 72 we have a very plain word on the sacrifices of discipleship. Here three different ones approached Christ asking permission to be his disciples. The first one that came proposed to go with him anywhere. Jesus told him that he had no abiding place; that he was a wanderer without any home, which meant there were many hardships in connection with discipleship. The second one that came to him wanted to wait till he could bury his father, which according to Oriental customs, might have been several years, or at least, thirty days, if his father was dead when he made the request, including the time of mourning. Luke tells of one who wanted first to bid farewell to them of his own house. But Jesus said, "No man, having put his hand to the plow, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God." The import of all this is that Christ will not permit his disciples to allow anything to come between them and him. He must have the first place in their affections. The expression, "No man, having put his hand to the plow, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God," means that the man who is pretending to follow Christ and is looking back to the things he left behind is not fit for his kingdom. This is a strict test, but it is our Lord's own test.
Then, following the Harmony, we have, in the next section. the counsel of the unbelieving brothers that Jesus go into Judea and exhibit himself there. But he declined to follow their counsel and remained in Galilee. This incident shows that the brothers of Jesus had not at this time accepted him, which was about six months before his death and thus disproves the theory that the brothers of Jesus were apostles.
We now come to the close of this division of the Harmony in section 74, which tells of Jesus setting his face toward Jerusalem in view of the approach of the end of his earthly career. This going up to Jerusalem, John says, was after his brothers had gone, and it was not public, but as it were in secret. He sent James and John, the "sons of thunder," ahead to Samaria to make ready for him, but the Samaritans rejected him because he was going toward Jerusalem, which exemplifies the old, deep-seated hatred between the Jews and the Samaritans. This section closes with a rebuke to James and John for wanting to call down fire upon these Samaritans. The next chapter of this INTERPRETATION connects with this section and gives the results of this trip to Jerusalem and his ministry in all parts of the Holy Land.
1. What was the incident immediately following the transfiguration?
2. What are the points of interest in the story of the epileptic boy?
3. What revelation did Jesus again make to his disciples while on the way from Caesarea Philippi, how did the disciples receive it and why?
4. Tell the story of Peter and the Temple tax and give its lesson.
5. What was the lesson on "greatness" here and what its occasion?
6. What was the point in the illustration of the little child?
7. What is the lesson from John's interruption of our Lord here?
8. How does Jesus show the awfulness of the sin of causing a little child who believes on him to stumble?
9. From what do the occasions of stumbling arise and upon whom rests the responsibility for them?
10. What would you give as the theme of Matthew 18:8-9; and Mark 9:43,45,47-50?
11. What are the several meanings of the word "offend" in these passages? Illustrate each.
12. What is the application of all these meanings? Illustrate.
13. Explain the word "Gehenna" as used here.
14. Looking at the passage as a .whole, what is principle involved the exhortation? Give details.
15. What reason does Christ assign for the command not to despise one of these little ones and what does it mean?
16. How does he illustrate this
17. In a word what is the author's position on the subject of man's forgiveness of man?
18. What is Christ's teaching here on discipleship and what is the meaning of his language addressed to each of the three, respectively, who approached him here on the subject?
19. What advice here given Jesus by his brothers, how did Jesus regard it, and what the lesson of this incident?
20. What are the closing incidents of this division of our Lord's ministry and what are their lessons?
CHRIST'S DISCOURSES AT THE FEAST OF TABERNACLES
Harmony, pages 104-110 and John 7:11 to 10:21.
The great Galilean ministry is ended and we now take up the closing ministry of our Lord in all parts of the Holy Land. The time is about six months before the crucifixion, probably in the autumn of A.D. 29. These incidents occurred in Jerusalem at the Feast of Tabernacles. The law of this feast is found in Leviticus 23:34-36, 39-43; Deuteronomy 16: 13-15. The time of it was the fifteenth day of the seventh month of the Jewish year, or the month of Tisri, which corresponds to our September and October. The duration was one week and there were two distinct ideas: (1) it was a memorial, Leviticus 23:42-43, and (2) an ingathering, Exodus 23:16.
The writer of these sections is John, and there are several peculiarities of his Gospel. First, he confines himself mainly to the Judean ministry of our Lord. Second, special incidents and miracles were the occasions of his great discourses. Third, John is truly the theologian of the evangelists, as may be seen in these discourses. Fourth, there are mighty lessons here. Fifth, these sections are of special homiletic value, abounding in great public themes. Each of these peculiarities will have special attention as we proceed with the discussion.
There were several notable incidents at this Feast of Tabernacles. The first was that of the interest of the people. They inquired about him and some murmured because of him. One faction said that he was a good man, while the other contended that he led the multitude astray. His teaching brought forth the inquiry, "How knoweth this man letters, having never learned?" To this he replied with a discourse, the points of which will be noted presently. The second great incident at this feast was the issue with the leaders on the sabbath question. This connects with the miracle wrought on the impotent man, the account of which is recorded in John 15 (Harmony, pp. 39-41). The third event was the attempt to arrest him, but they were not able. The fourth incident was the report of the officers, that "never man so spoke." The fifth incident was the reasoning of Nicodemus, that their law did not condemn a man until he had been heard.
In reply to their question, "How knoweth this man letters, having never learned?" Jesus made the following points in his discourse with them: First, the message was not his, but God's. Second, if any man desired to know the doctrine let him will to do God's will and he would know. Third, he replied to their sabbath question by showing that they circumcised on the sabbath day, and then he entreated them to judge righteous judgment. Fourth, his reply to their seeking him was, that they knew him, but they did not know his Father, and this was the reason why they tried to kill him. Fifth, he closes with the great invitation and the promise of the Holy Spirit and his effect in the outflowing life.
Upon this the multitude divided in their opinion of him, some saying that he was a prophet and others that he was the Christ. They were greatly puzzled with reference to his birthplace and parentage, not being able to reconcile his residence in Galilee with the prophecies of the lineage of the promised Messiah. They were not willing to believe that any prophet should arise out of Galilee.
Section 76 gives the account of the adulterous woman brought to Jesus. This section is now generally considered to be spurious, though perhaps a true story, very likely taken from the collection of Papias (see note in Harmony). This accords with Luke 21:38 and John 21:25. The evangelists did not pretend to give a full history of Christ's work, but selected only such material from his life and ministry as suited their purposes, respectively. The lesson of this incident is the rebuke of the censorious spirit of this woman's accusers. Christ did not mean here that the woman was not guilty of sin, but that she was no more guilty than her accusers. This fact seems to have made a deep impression on them, as they did not stone her, but sneaked away. His words to the woman here are in line with his utterance in John 3:17, "God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world should be saved through him" and shows that Christ had a tender compassion for the fallen and outcast of earth. Note carefully his final words: "From henceforth sin no more." How we would like to know what Jesus wrote on the ground! But alas I We are left to conjecture.
In section 77 we have a continuation of Jesus' contest with the Pharisees begun in section 75. Omitting section 76, the story of the adulterous woman brought to Jesus, the contest goes right on without a break. This great passage consists of a dialogue between the Pharisees and Jesus touching the great questions of his mission.
First, Jesus announced that he was the light of the world, to which the Pharisees objected that he was bearing witness of himself. Jesus replied that even if he did bear witness of himself, his witness was true, because his Father bore the same testimony. Then they raised the question as to who his Father was, to which Jesus replied that they did not know his Father because they did not know him.
Second, Jesus tells them of their responsibility and sin because they rejected him; that except they should believe that he was the Messiah they should die in their sins. This is a plain statement of the necessity of accepting Jesus as the Messiah and Saviour in order to salvation. Here they raise again the question as to who Jesus was, to which he replied, "Even that which I have also spoken unto you from the beginning. Then he submitted the text by which they would recognize him as the Christ, viz.: his death at their hands. Upon this "many believed on him."
Third, from 8:31-59 we have our Lord's great discussion with the Pharisees on true liberty. While I was pastor in Waco, Ingersoll, the great infidel, delivered his lecture there on "Liberty for Man, Woman, and Child," to which I replied in a sermon on this passage. (See author's sermon on "Liberty for Man, Woman, and Child.") Here several things are evident: (1) There is a faith which does not constitute discipleship nor secure freedom. To be truly a disciple one's faith must not only be in the head, but extend to the life. We must abide in his word. (2) Truth and not falsehood leads to freedom. Not indeed scientific truth, but truth concerning God the truth of revelation; the truth as it is in Jesus. But this truth is not speculative nor theoretical it must be inwrought in the life. (3) There may be, as in the case of these Pharisees, unconscious bondage; indeed, the most deplorable of all bondage, resulting from such blunting of the moral perceptions and such perversion of sensibilities, as will make one call bitter sweet, and put light for darkness yea, that will make one hug his chains and hate the coming deliverer. (4) The great slavery of this world is bondage to sin, and the great slave master is the devil. (5) Jesus Christ is the only liberator. (6) The most enslaved of all can talk eloquently of "liberty." (7) The only true liberty is the glorious liberty of the children of God.
In section 78 we have the case of the blind man. The place was Jerusalem, going out from the Temple. The time was the sabbath, i e., the eighth day of the feast, a sabbath construction. The topics here are as follows: A question concerning sin, the work of God, the miracle itself and the means used, the problem to Christ's enemies, the difficulty of rejecting the evidence, a question of prayer, and the law of excommunication. The first of these, in order is
A question concerning sin. There were certain prevalent beliefs concerning sin, implied by this question: (1) That there is a connection between sin and suffering. (2) That every affliction is proof of some special sin. (3) That this sin was on the part of immediate parents of child. (4) That a child might sin before birth (v. 34). The answer implies certain limitations. It does not deny (1) that all suffering in some way comes from sin; (2) nor that the consequences of parental sin fall on the children; (3) nor that children may inherit sinful tendencies; (4) nor that children have sinful natures; (5) nor that sickness is sometimes the direct consequence of sin (Lev. 26:16; Deut. 28:22; 1 Cor. 11:30); (6) nor that judgments are sometimes direct (See the cases of Herod, Ananias, and Elymas). But it shows (1) that suffering is a large and varied problem; (2) that God often distributes sufferings for other than punitive purposes, for example: the cases of Job, Esau, and Jacob (Rom. 9:11); the death of Josiah, Lazarus (John 11:4); the fall of the Jews (Rom. 11:11), the Galatians, the tower of Siloam; and the chastisements of Christians. The next thought is
Work and its season. Whatever the cause of affliction we must work. (See author's sermon on "Working for Christ.") Here we have set forth the obligation to work: "We must work, etc.," then who must do it? "We must, etc.," then whose work is it? "Of him that sent me," then the time is specified: "While it is today," i.e., in this life; then the reason for it: "For the night cometh," i.e., the night of death. This thought is enforced by Psalm 104:23 and finds its application in every phase of our religious life.
The miracle itself and the means used. Jesus spat on the ground, made clay of the spittle and with the clay anointed the eyes of this man. Then he commanded him to go wash in the pool of Siloam, which means, "Sent." The man went and washed and came seeing. Such is the simple story of the miracle, but why this use of means? Here the record is silent and we are left wholly to conjecture. Perhaps it was to test the man's faith, as in the case of Naaman.
A problem to Christ's enemies. They did not agree as to the fact, though many affirmed that a great miracle had been "wrought. They raised the question of his identity with the beggar whom they knew, but the man said, "I am he." Then they raised the question as to the means of his healing. To this the man responded definitely that it was a man called Jesus, and then he detailed the process to them. They were not satisfied and called for the healer, but he was gone. So they brought the man to the Pharisees and they asked him to state the case again. This the man did, but they brought the charge against Jesus of the sin of breaking the sabbath law, because this miracle was wrought on the sabbath. Then they divided, some saying he was a sinner and others that no sinner could do such signs. Therefore they asked the man his opinion of the healer and he replied that he was a prophet. This led to the complete distrust of all he had said. So they called for his parents, and they identified the man as their son who was born blind, but for fear of the threatened excommunication they declined to give testimony as to the healer and put the responsibility off on the son. Here they called him the second time and tried to make him waver in his testimony, but the man gave the clear, unwavering testimony of his conviction that the healer was from God. Then follows their
Difficulty of rejecting the evidence. They had to confess (1) that they knew not whence Jesus was, (2) that they could not tell how a sinner could do such works, nor (3) how God would hear such a sinner, but they did not mind a contradiction. So they resorted to excommunication.
A question of prayer. The following scriptures should be studied carefully in the light of this passage: Job 13:16:27:9; 35:13; Psalm 50:16; 66:18; 109:7; Proverbs 1:28; 15:8, 29; 21:27; 28:9; Isaiah 1:11-15; 59:1-2; Jeremiah 14:12; Amos 5:21-23; Micah 3:4; James 4:3. They reveal the following facts: (1) That the hypocrite may not come before God; (2) that there is prayer that may be too late; (3) that a wicked man, persisting in sin, need not come before him; (4) that one who regards iniquity in his heart will not have a hearing with God; (5) that prayer with the wrong motive will not avail anything; (6) that prayer may be sin, if offered for obedience (Cf. case of Saul and Samuel). All this furnishes the background for the statement of the man here that God does not hear sinners, but it has no reference whatever to God's hearing a humble, penitent sinner who comes to God confessing his sins. The Bible teaches abundantly that a penitent sinner may come to God with the assurance that God will hear him and save him.
Jewish excommunication. "Put out of the synagogue they cast him out." There were three kinds of excommunication. First, that which prohibited (a) the bath, (b) the razor, (c) the convivial table, (d) approach to any one nearer than four cubits (e) making the circuit of the Temple in the usual way. The time of this kind was thirty days and might be extended to sixty or ninety days. Second, if the subject was contumacious, he was prohibited (a) from teaching or being taught in company with others, (b) from hiring or being hired, (c) from any commercial transactions beyond purchasing the necessaries of life. A court of ten men delivered the sentence with malediction. Third, the entire cutting off from the congregation of Israel.
There are some things that need to be noted in the last paragraph (35-41) of this section. First, Jesus found the "outcast" and led him to accept him as the Messiah. Notice how he develops the man's faith: "Dost thou believe on the Son of God?" (Cf. v. 22). The emphasis here is on "thou." Second, what is the meaning here of "judgment"? It means that our Lord is a touchstone (Luke 2:34-35), a rock of offense (1) Peter 2:8) a savor of death (2 Cor. 2:16). and a means of strife (Matt. 10:10), according to the different attitudes of people toward him. So to those who do not receive him his work becomes judicial, and though they see now, they are blinded judicially when they reject the offered light. This is forcefully illustrated in the case of the Jews themselves. This discussion is vitally connected with the parable and discussion of the next chapter, furnishing the background for the great chapter 10 of John.
This chapter (sec. 79) is introduced by a parable (1-6) founded on visible facts. There was one large enclosure for sheltering many small flocks. All the shepherds brought their flocks to this one enclosure and caused the sheep to pass under the shepherd's rod for the purpose of counting. A porter kept the door and knew all the shepherds. The porter guarded all night, but the thief did not come to the door, but climbed up some other way. In the morning each shepherd came to the one door and, being recognized by the porter, was admitted into the enclosure. There he called the names of his several sheep which heard and followed him. Then he counted them as they came out and passed under the rod, led them forth to pasture, guarded them by day, and defended them against the attacks of the wolves. Such is the story of the parable.
Now let us look at the interpretation. Jesus is the door to the shepherd. There is no rightful way to the office of the shepherd except by him. Therefore we have the divine call to the ministry. Yet some assume the office without the call. The Holy Spirit is the porter. He will not open the door to the uncalled, and the uncalled who assume this office climb over the wall. Their motive is selfish. Jesus is also the door of the sheep. Through him they find life. His motive is to give life and life more abundantly. Then Jesus is the Good Shepherd. The false shepherd cares not for the sheep, but flees when the wolf comes.
There are certain great doctrines taught in these sections of John, which need special attention. Let us note them in order:
First, as they relate to the life of Jesus. (a) His preexistence: "Before Abraham was, I am." (b) His unity with the Father, (c) He was consecrated and sanctified to be sent into the world, (d) The object of his coming was to give his life for his people.
Second, as they relate to his death. (a) It was voluntary: I lay down my life." (b) It was according to his Father's will and was by his own will. (c) Without his will he could not be put to death by the Father, by the people or by the devil, (d) It was expiatory in its nature: "I lay down my life for the sheep."
Third, as they relate to his resurrection: (a) His resumption of life was a part of the original purpose, (b) It was accomplished by his will and power: "I take it up." (c) It was one of rights: "Other sheep I have." (d) It was one of activity: "Then must I bring."
Fourth, as they relate to his redeemed: (a) They are the Father's covenanted gift: "He gave them to me." (b) Their regeneration is assumed their heavenly parentage, (c) Their safety is forever guaranteed from deception: "I know them they recognize me"; from danger: "They shall never perish." (d) Their food is guaranteed: "Shall find pasture."
Fifth, as they relate to his coming day: (a) This day was revealed, (b) It was in sight by faith: "Abraham saw my day." (c) The sight of it filled Abraham with gladness: "And was glad."
This great division of John's Gospel is a mine of homiletical material. There are many texts and themes here for sermons. These may be found in every paragraph from John 7:17 to 10:18.
1. What was the time, place, and date of the incidents of these sections of the Harmony
2. What was the law, date, duration, and ideas of the Feast of Tabernacles?
3. Who was the writer of this part of the Harmony and what are the peculiarities of his Gospel?
4. What was the first notable incident of this Feast of Tabernacles? Discuss.
5. What was the second incident and what was its remote occasion?
6. What was the third and fourth incidents and what the results?
7. What was the fifth incident?
8. What are the points in the reply of Jesus to the question, "How knoweth this man letters, having never learned?"
9. What was the result of this discourse and what was the puzzle of the multitude concerning him?
10. What can you say of the incident of the adulterous woman brought to Jesus and what was its lessons?
11. What was the connection between sections 75 and 77 and of what do these sections consist?
12. What was the Pharisees' objection to the announcement of Jesus that he was the light of the world, and what was his reply?
13. How did Jesus show their responsibility, what questions did they raise in response and what was his reply?
14. What is the theme of John 8:31-39 and what historic incident connects?
15. What things are evident from this passage?
16. What was the place and time of the incident of healing the blind man?
17. What were the topics growing out of this incident?
18. What were the prevalent beliefs concerning sin implied in the question?
19. What are the limitations implied in the answer?
20. What further does the answer show? Illustrate.
21. On the text, "We must work, etc.," show (1) the obligation, (2) who must work, (3) whose work it is, (4) the time to do it and (5) the reason for it.
22. What was the story of the miracle, what were the means used and why?
23. Discuss the problem to Christ's enemies arising out of this miracle.
24. What were the points of their confession in their difficulty?
25. What question about prayer here and what is the Bible teaching on this?
26. What is meant by the Jewish excommunication? Discuss.
27. What are the points to be noted in John 9:35-41?
28. Give the parable of John 10:1-21 and its interpretation.
29. What are the great doctrines here as they relate to the life of Jesus?
30. What, as they relate to his death?
31. What, as they relate to his resurrection?
32. What, as they relate to his redeemed?
33. What, as they relate to his coming day?
34. Search out from this section thirty good texts and indicate the theme suggested by each.
THE SENDING OUT OF THE SEVENTY
Harmony, pages 110-111 and Luke 10:1-24.
This passage of Scripture at times impresses my own mind more than any other passage except Luke 15. I am never able to read it without being deeply and solemnly impressed. There are in it the solutions of more difficult questions than in I any similar amount of statement ever compacted into so small a space. There are more texts for revival preaching in it than in any similar space of scripture in the Bible. After such fashion as I am able I will try to impress upon the reader its import its deep, high, and wide import. It contains the foundation principles underlying the spread of the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.
1. The great destitution. "The harvest is plenteous." On several momentous occasions in his life, and with every possible emphasis of solemnity, our Lord called the attention of his disciples to this fact. The destitution pressed on his spirit at the well of Jacob, near Sychar, so that he had no appetite to eat earthly food. He says, "I have meat to eat that ye know not of." And while they were concerned about what kind of a dinner they would have, he pointed to the great crowd of lost and uninstructed people that were pouring out of that city to approach them and said, "Say not ye, there are yet four months, and then cometh the harvest? Behold, I say unto you, lift up your eyes, and look on the fields, that they are white already unto harvest." And before he sent out the twelve apostles we are told that he looked out over the vast destitution 1 mean spiritual destitution of the masses of the people the common people, the poor people, the sick people, the sad people. He stood there alone and he wanted help. And when he saw that destitution, he appointed the twelve and sent them out. And we have here another sight of destitution and he appoints seventy more and sends them out. Now do let us impress upon our minds the nature of this destitution among the just as it appears in the United States, the most enlightened country of the world, and where we have greater religious privileges than any other country in the world. The destitution is appalling: People that do not hear the word of God preached; people that are without God and without hope in the world; people that are dying by thousands, unforgiven; a dearth of the word of God; a dearth of the promise of eternal life. In the vicinity of the strongest churches that destitution lurks. The light that shines from the brightest church of God's kindling in the world today does not illumine the darkness thoroughly one square from that church building. It is not merely a destitution of privation, a privation of life, not merely that, but it is a privation enhanced by the fact of false teachers, of wolves in sheep's clothing, of those who claim to be guides and are themselves blind; of those who go in and out among these people ignorant of the teachings of God's Word and kindling the hot and blasting fires of prejudice and strife and malice, making every poor little church an arena of contention and of shame in the sight of God. Men claiming to be preachers men claiming to be sent out by the Holy Spirit, who will, to serve some selfish purpose, see the light put out, the only light that shines in a vast circumference of darkness. A destitution not merely of being harried by wolves in sheep's clothing, but a destitution of shepherds.
Our Saviour saw the people scattered like sheep without a shepherd, no safe guides, no unselfish God-loving, prayerful, pious, God-fearing men, to stand among these scattered and dying masses of people and shepherd them as the flock of God. O the destitution the destitution! Look at it, church of God. Look at it, ye grumblers, ye growlers, ye kickers, ye splitters, ye cavilers look at it and remember the judgment to come. Look at it and ask your souls what emotions should be excited by it. This leads to our next thought.
2. The great compassion. Of course I mean the Lord's compassion. Here are the very words of the touching record concerning the occasion of sending out the twelve: "But when he saw the multitudes, he was moved with compassion for them, because they were distressed and scattered, as sheep not having a shepherd. Then saith he unto his disciples, The harvest truly is plenteous, but the laborers are few. Pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he send forth laborers unto his harvest" (Matt. 9:36-38).
Who that is converted, who that himself has experienced the grace of God, who that himself has rejoiced in the glory of God, who that has tasted for himself the Bread of Life and quenched his own burning thirst in the cool waters of life, can be without concern and without deep anguish of spirit when he looks out over this destitution?
I would be willing, God being my judge, this day to renounce all my claim or title to any mansion in the skies; I would count myself an exile from God's favor; I would reckon myself to be among the reprobate, if I did not have something of the compassion that was in the heart of Christ when he looked out over this destitution. If I could eat and drink and be merry; if I could be absorbed in the pleasures of this world; if I could follow the bent of a worldly mind, without concern, without anguish of soul, concerning the appalling destitution that there is in the world, I would be willing to say, "It is certain that my own name is not written in heaven."
Having adverted to the appalling destitution and noted the divine compassion excited by it and the human pity and prayer that ought to be excited by it, let us now be amazed as we consider
3. The simplicity of the means for supplying the destitute Napoleon Bonaparte wanted to establish a world empire; he wanted to be the dominant spirit in the world; over Spain, over Portugal, over Holland, over the German Confederation, over Austria, over Prussia, over Turkey, over Egypt, and on into India, where Alexander halted, and he wanted to unfurl his flag, though it froze, over Moscow, the ancient capital of the Czars. Wanting such an empire, what means did he deem necessary for its establishment? How much money? What treasure? What systems of taxation? What sources of revenue? He thought it necessary to lay the resources of the entire world under an exhaustive tribute in order to establish it, so far as money could do it. And so far as men were concerned, he called out every able-bodied man in France. He anticipated the conscription two years in advance. He not only robbed the cradle of its youth, but he robbed the tomb of tottering old age. By the side of his hoary-headed veterans who ought to have been in the hospital, were boys that ought to have been in school. And then he called upon Portugal for its contribution of men, and Spain for hers under the Marquis of Romano; Holland for her contingent; Bavaria for hers, and a vast army corps from Prussia after he conquered it; and Saxony for hers and Poland for hers. He said to the world, "Give me men," and he took them. And what else? He wanted artillery that could not be numbered; not twenty pieces, nor a hundred, nor a thousand, but many thousand pieces of field and siege artillery. And what number of horses? Horses by the hundreds, by the thousands, by the ten thousand, by the hundred thousand, by the million. And what arms? The sword, the bayonet, gunpowder, and every means of destruction. These were the means he employed and failed.
We see the Son of God looking out on a world over which he purposes to establish an empire, and with a view that he shall not reign a few short years, as did Napoleon and then, before the close of an ordinary lifetime meet his Waterloo; but reign while the sun rises and sets and ocean tides beat against the shores; reign until the moon waxes and wanes no more and the heavens are melted and rolled together as a scroll; reign one hundred, one thousand, two thousand years, forever, over the whole world.
And what means? "Shall I send to the universities and call the learned professors from their chairs? Shall I gather about me the philosophers who have inquired touching the secrets of life? Shall I gather about me metaphysicians who can spin webs so fine spun that they are transparent? Shall I gather about me men who in logic and argument or in oratory surpass all other men? Shall I do this? Not that; not any of it. I do not want the wise, nor the great, nor the noble. I gather a few fishermen together. I will not reach up to what is called the upper crust of society and take some man of lordly intellect or of colossal wealth. No, I will go down here next to the mud-sills, in the haunts of poverty, where men are sickening and dying, and there from among the people, I will gather me a lot of simple folk, and I will say to them, 'Carry no sword; beat no drum; unfurl no flag; carry no purse; do not carry even an extra pair of shoes; but go out and take the world.' " This is the thing that caused profound astonishment to Napoleon Bonaparte in his exile. Over and over again at St. Helena he looked at it and thought about it and compared it with his method of establishing a world empire. "My empire is gone. I am in exile; and two thousand years in passing away have added only to the glory and power of the Galilean." How wonderful the simplicity of the means!
4. How were these men educated for their work? Mighty question! The question of ministerial education! What is a school for the prophets? We readily understand the necessity of preparation, of training, of disciplining in order to attain great success in any work. There is West Point for training army officers. See the West Pointers under Taylor and Scott in the Mexican war and doubt, if you can and dare, their value at Palo Alta, Resca, Monterey, Buena Vista, Cerro Gordo, Cherubusco. There is the naval academy in Annapolis. What thoughtful student of naval warfare will have the hardihood to deny the value of that school? But a school of prophets what is that? Did Jesus send out uneducated men? As the destitution was so great why did he not send out 12,000 instead of twelve? Why not 70,000 instead of seventy? Be- cause only twelve were ready first, and only seventy later. But how were they made ready? That is the supreme question the vital inquiry. I answer, by patient training under Jesus himself. They had no need to sit at Gamaliel's feet. What Paul learned there, he had to forget and count it loss and refuse when compared to the excellency of the knowledge of Jesus. But it does not follow that ignorance of human learning means knowledge of Christ. Let not ignorance so presume. Training under Jesus implies hard and long continued study of what God has revealed, lesson after lesson, here a little, there a little, as they are able to bear the light. It implies a subordination of the passions, a bringing of every thought, desire, and imagination into the subjection of Christ, a crucifixion of self, of cowardice, and a patient and persistent cross-bearing. Therefore before he would send out anyone he took the selected ones near to himself. "Stay close to me. Let me teach you. Imbibe my spirit. Learn my methods. See how I endure. See the spirit of self-sacrifice that prompts me in what I do. Learn from me the revelation from heaven, so that men may take knowledge of you when you go out that you have been with Jesus, and then when you are instructed I will put you in this field."
But though the destitution was vast, and the darkness intense, and the wailings and the sobs and sighing of the perishing were like the dirges of a lost world, he would send no man until that man was ready. Better not send anybody if) he is not qualified to teach, if he does not know what to preach, if he has not the spirit of the Master, if he will not go to de- liver the people from their ignorance and prejudice. If he go out simply to stir up and excite parties for selfish ends, better never send him. And so he waited until he had instructed twelve, and sent them, and now having instructed seventy, he sends them. Now when he has instructed these men and they are ready to be sent out the question comes up
5. "What were they to do?" He says, "You are to do this: Heal the sick and preach the gospel. Say unto every city you visit, The kingdom of God is at hand. Repent ye and believe the gospel." That is the whole of it. But, says one who assumes to be a critic and who would check the benevolence of the people of God, "Our Lord sends men out simply to preach the gospel. Why attempt in missionary lands to heal the sick and care for the poor? Why tax missionary money to have the bodies of these people attended to in their suffering?" And they think they have raised quite a question. I ask them to go back and look at Jesus. Go and see him who never could have filled the prophecy that he was the Messiah if the lame man did not leap at his coming, if the blind did not receive their sight, if the sick were not visited and healed. What commission of our Lord Jesus Christ was ever given that did not enjoin it upon his disciples to give heed to the sufferings of the body? Where is there one? I challenge any man to find one.
And he who would try and put the church so supernally and spiritually high as to put it out of contact with suffering humanity, just as it is, with its poverty and its cold and its hunger and its groanings and its fever, that man has a sublimated view of the subject that is foreign to his Saviour. "As you go, heal the sick, remember the poor." Paul had that solemn charge given to him, "Do not forget the poor." And if we were to take off of the brow of Christianity today its crown of benevolence, what it has done for asylums, for orphanages, for the amelioration of human sufferings, for the relief of the destitute, we would deprive it of the characteristic of the New Testament, and we would sap its power with the people to whom the gospel is to be preached. And why? Because our Lord came to save the body as well as the soul; because he suffered in the body; because he purposed to redeem the body; because the consummation of salvation is a glorification of the body as well as a sanctification of the spirit.
6. Other amazing things. I stand amazed when I look at these men. We see two of them coming along down a dusty road, walking with staves in their hands, coming to a city, a great city, without a letter of recommendation, no bank account, no armies back of them; coming up to a house and saying, "Peace be to this house," accepting just what hospitality was accorded them; if a crust of bread, taking it and making no complaint; if better fare, eating that without comment; not running around from house to house eating big dinners and to be entertained. They were sent out on a message of life and death sent to redeem the world, to minister unto others and not to be ministered unto; not to be the pets, the pampered pets of the sickly sentimentalism of a community, but the vitalized exponents of the religion of the Lord Jesus Christ in the community they visit. I stand amazed at their authority: "We come not to argue anything. We come not to indulge in metaphysical speculation. We come as heralds we come with a proclamation, a proclamation from heaven. It is our business to herald it and let God take care of it. He did not appoint us to prop it up with our feeble strength. He sent us in his name to say, 'The kingdom of God is come; the kingdom of God, the power to forgive sins here on earth, is come. And we offer to you people the peace of God.' "
I have a picture in my mind of that peace of God going out from them to the unworthy, and returning, as Noah's dove went out from the ark, to find a resting place for its feet, and after long and weary flight, coming back again to the window of the ark. "If there be no son of peace in that house, your peace shall return unto you"; and yet in eternity it will be true that in that house that house that had so little thought of God and so much thought of the world it would be eternally true that one time the dove of God's peace, the white dove of that peace that passeth all understanding, came to that house and tried to get in; tried to find a resting place for its feet, and was rejected and returned and no more reappeared at that place. And the same way with the cities. They were to go to that city and say, "The kingdom of God is come nigh unto you"; you bankers, you merchants, you rich people, you poor people, you lawyers, the kingdom of God, the power on earth to forgive sin, is come among you, and you are commanded to repent of your sins and believe the gospel. And if they rejected it, then they were to shake the dust off their feet. Shake it off! What does it mean? It means two things: That there is upon that preacher a responsibility for the sins of that community and there rests upon him blood guiltiness until he does faithfully and courageously preach the gospel. But when he cries aloud and spares not, and seeing the sword coming he blows his trumpet, though the people perish, yet he can shake off the dust. He can shake it off of his feet and say, "You die in your sins, but your blood can not be required at my hands. You are lost. You go down to death and hell. Lost forever, but O Lord, I was faithful. I stood in that city and preached to you. I did not preach philosophy. I did not preach an empty, indefinite morality. I preached life, eternal life through our Lord Jesus Christ, and every grain of your dust I shake from my feet. I am clean from the blood of you men."
It means that and it means more than that. It means that when that dust is shaken from that man's feet it becomes a witness, an imperishable evidence of the fact that the kingdom of God had once come nigh to that soul and been rejected. And when the great day of account rolls around and that convicted soul stands in the presence of its Master and would attempt to proffer before God's bar the empty pretenses that fell so glibly from his lips here upon the earth, the grains of sand upon which apostolic feet stood and testified that life had come right to his door, they become vocal and Bay, "Your excuses are false. Remember, on us poor grains of sand, stood the feet of the messengers of the Son of God, and preached peace to you and you rejected it." Just as the prophet describes it, the rafter in the roof and the beam of timber in the wall, cry out against the man. So even on the very verge of the final and eternal separation there will be a demonstration for that man: "I might have repented. I had an opportunity to repent. The dove hovered over my house once. The waters came to my door once. The minister of God approached my vicinity once. To me, now lost, to me, now without hope, to me, doomed to a prayerless, hopeless, merciless, and eternal condemnation; to me is the conviction that I might have obtained eternal life by just holding out my hands, but I would not do it."
7. The great victory. In looking at this scripture another thought presses on my mind and it should certainly teach a solemn lesson to every preacher, and that is, the astounding victory that resulted from sending out these seventy men. It eclipsed their own conception. They did not understand it. The means seem to be so utterly disproportionate to the result! Not only blindness saw; not only the halt were made to stand erect and walk with ease; not only the deaf heard and the dead were quickened; not only did hoary-headed sinners find forgiveness of sin and peace with God; not only did these fall before them, but even the very devils, at the name of Jesus, the principalities and powers in high places, fell before them at the first stroke of the gospel sword. "Oh Jesus; even the devils were subject to us through thy name." And Jesus says, "I know it; I saw it. My spirit was with you. I saw you go to that town and I saw Satan fall as you preached." Fall how? Fall struggling? Fall after stubborn resistance? No! "Have you ever been out when clouds were gathering and have you seen the lightning fall from heaven so swift the eye could scarcely see it before it was gone? Well, I saw Satan fall that way."
He does not mean, "I saw Satan in heaven fall from heaven, but when you preachers went to a community and preached in that earthly community, I saw the devil fall as suddenly while you were preaching as the lightning falls from heaven." And it has no other meaning than that. We know when people, who never amounted to much in themselves (and I frankly say that preachers do not amount to much, I mean the very best of them, and some of them are a terrible lot), whenever instrumentalities thus weak, thus powerless, see such a mighty result as that, it is an easy thing for them to be puffed up; it is an easy thing for each of them to say, "I came; I saw; I conquered." It is an easy thing for them to begin to lay the flattering unction to their souls that by their own might and power this was accomplished, and to rejoice that they are conquerors of the devil. But our Lord said, "I would not stop to rejoice over that. You did not do it. I would not stop to glory over that. I will tell you something that ought to make you glad, even in the darkest sorrow and the blackest night that this earth, with its vicissitudes of trial, ever brings upon a soul." "Well, what is it?" "Rejoice because your names are written in heaven." By the power of God a Judas might cast out devils, but Judas' name is not written in heaven, and there will come a time when it would be better for him that he had never been born. Balaam had prophetic power and Balaam is lost.
Gifts are not graces, and in the world to come there will be something of such a nature that when the mind reflects upon it joy will spring up in the heart like an unsealed fountain, that will spontaneously bubble and outflow and glow and sparkle and sing as it goes. And what is it? "My name is written in heaven. I am sick. but my name is written up yonder, and sickness shall not have eternal dominion over me. I am slandered, but my name is written up yonder and slander's foul stain shall not forever spot my good name. My name is written up yonder. I am dying, but death shall not have eternal dominion over me. My name is written up yonder. The Judgment Day is coming. The heavens are on. fire and the earth is in blaze. Graves open and hell yawns, and the white throne looms up, but, ah me! on that throne a book called the Lamb's Book of Life, and whosoever's name is written there need never fear the second death, which means to be cast into the lake of fire with the devil and his angels. Now, I rejoice in that."
8. The strange joy of Jesus. "At that hour Jesus rejoiced in spirit." I do not say that Jesus rejoiced in spirit on account of the report made by these missionaries. I know we sometimes grow jubilant over the report made by our missionaries. He rejoices not at that. Here is the ground of his joy: He rejoiced because the Father was well pleased to reveal these things to babes and not to wise men. That caused him to rejoice. Often I have considered that joy of Jesus and philosophized. And when men would say, "Come here now and get a gospel out of geology; go to Chicago University and get a gospel out of higher criticism; go to Yale, go to Oxford, and get a gospel out of the speculations of the very learned few.'" I don't want to do it, because it would give no joy to Jesus. Our Saviour saw that any way of salvation that let in only great people, would be a very limited way of salvation, for there were a very few great people; and he saw that a way of salvation that would only let in rich people who already have the earth, why, that would make a very small heaven. And he saw that a way of life that could be found out only by a college and a post-graduate course, would be a very limited road, and he wanted a wider road. He wanted a way that the masses could find, for it was their destitution that touched his heart. It was their condition that excited his compassion. O Father, I thank thee that thou hast made the way so plain and so simple that the weak and the poor and the suffering and the untutored can enter in." I am glad of that. That saves the millions. That saves those who are hemmed up by cruel circumstances and ever narrowing environment; that saves the prisoner in the dungeon; that saves the sailor on the plank in mid-ocean; that saves the thief on the cross; that saves the man whose time is but a few gasping moments ere he is gone. O God, I do thank thee that thou hast revealed these things to babes I"
There are some great cities almost utterly lost because they have only worldly great preachers. Every preacher there is a great man; every one of them a graduate and a postgraduate; every one of them is learned in philosophy and nearly every one of them preaches more politics than religion; and the proportion of the saved to the total population gets smaller all the time. Yet there one may hear the most unanswerable arguments on mere morality. He may hear the most beautiful essays on philosophy to which the world ever listened, but ah me! it does not save a man and it does not awaken a conscience; and it continually diminishes the crowd that hears it, and there is no saving power in it. The sooner the last one of such sermons is forgotten the better for the world.
Let a preacher preach Christ to the lost and not Epicurus; preach salvation through the blood of the Lamb instead of the miserable subterfuge of speculative vagaries and unverified hypotheses of conceited so-called philosophers, that cannot kindle a glow worm's spark, much less make a sun to dispel the darkness. There is no contempt so deserving as the contempt for the idea that all good men ought to pour out upon the people are the miserable, sickly, frivolous, drivelling things they substitute for the gospel.
Hasn't it been tried? Where did it reform a nation? Where did it save a soul? Where did it quicken a conscience? O my soul, come thou not into such traitorous counsel! Oh, let us keep the gospel of the blessed God, that causes the mother to die in peace and with heaven-lighted face to say, "My boy, meet me in heaven." O God, let us keep that! What is to become of these people when such stuff as that is commended for preaching? Why should one man preach that more than another? What right has any man to claim to be a minister of that? What right has any man to demand of an audience a support for talking such stuff as that? Why, you do not need any church for that. Tear your churches down. Pull down your altars. Tear down your religious schools and join the dizzy walk down to death. I could give some samples. I have in my mind passages of Genesis and other portions of the Old Testament, that even within my time were held up as absolute, scientific demonstrations that the book was not from God.
I have seen that chameleon, Science, that forty years ago was one thing, and thirty years ago was another, and twenty years ago was still another, and ten years ago another, and today is anotherω1 have seen Science come with her spade and dig up from the ruins of buried cities the conviction of the falsity of what she taught ten, twenty, thirty, forty years ago. Why, it doesn't stand still long enough to believe in it. It doesn't stand still long enough to put your finger on it. A man would have to be swifter than Atalanta; yea, he would have to have the wings and heels of Mercury, or ride upon Pegasus, to be able to keep near enough to it to be orthodox, and then he would have to go on the supposition, "I hold myself prepared to denounce as false tomorrow everything I bold sacred today."
I think we had better wait until it settles in one place long enough to know "where it is at" before we give up religion for it. I went out on all of those tracks in my early life. I was a fool, a downright fool. I laughed at the religion of my father and my mother, and like many another young man, half-fledged, imagined that I was wiser than those whose souls had been converted by the Spirit of God, and whose feet rested upon the everlasting Rock. I was a fool. But God delivered me from my follies. And now I would not give one ray of light that shines from this blessed Book for all the fox-fire light that emanantes from decaying philosophies. If the whole world was Egyptian darkness, whose opaqueness was penetrated in only one place, through which one flicker of light from that Book would come, do you think that I would exchange that ray of heavenly light for all the dim glow the lightning bugs of science could kindle by holding their phosphorescent tails together?
To the young preachers who are concerned about a support, I do not say, "Trust the brethren." I do not. But I do say to you that if you will trust Jesus Christ, and rely upon his word, for he cannot deny himself the heavens will fall before one of his words shall fail to come to pass 1 say that if you will just rely on the word of Jesus Christ and go out and preach the pure, simple gospel of eternal life, God will take care of you. He will feed you and he will clothe you; don't you be uneasy about that. Go out where wolves are raven, I admit. Go out in danger, I know. Go out to face contradiction and slander, is conceded. Go out to be spoken against by men. I know that. But I do know here on earth Jesus will make your heart sing with happiness, and give you plenty of food to eat and clothing to wear, and in the world to come eternal life. O thou doubting heart; thou hesitating foot, that will not step out on the promises of God; thou palsied hand of incertitude that will not lay hold of the promises of God with a grip that never turns loose, have faith in God and preach his word and leave the results to him.
1. How does the author show the importance of section 80?
2. What can you say of the great destitution? Give other similar experiences of our Lord.
3. What of our Lord's great compassion and its relation, to the Christian experience?
4. What can you say of the simplicity of the means used by our Saviour? Contrast with Napoleon Bonaparte.
5. How were these men trained and what is the bearing on theological schools for preachers?
6. What were they to do and what is the bearing on the benevolent work of Christianity?
7. What are some of the amazing things in this connection?
8. How is the return of their peace illustrated from the Old Testament?
9. What two things signified by shaking off the dust of their feet?
10. How does the prophet describe the second thought?
11. How is the lost soul represented as reflecting on this opportunity?
12. What can you say of the victory of this movement?
13. What is the meaning of Satan falling as lightning?
14. What is the danger of a preacher in such a time of victory?
15. What was the real cause for rejoicing noted by our Lord here? Discuss.
16. What can you say of the joy of Jesus on this occasion?
17. How does the author here philosophize on this joy of Jesus?
18. What has the author to say of chameleon Science?
19. What was the author's experience with these speculative philosophies?
20. What is the author's final word to preachers?
THE PARABLE OF THE GOOD SAMARITAN; JESUS, THE GUEST OF MARTHA AND MARY
Harmony, pages 111-112 and Luke 10:25-42.
We commence this chapter with section 81 of the Harmony. Taking up Luke 10:25, we have this statement: "And behold, a certain lawyer stood up and tempted Jesus." "Lawyer" here does not mean a pleader before a court, but an expounder of the Jewish law, which was both civil and ecclesiastical. The word tempt may have a good or a bad sense. May judgment is that the sense here is good. It means to try. "And behold, a certain lawyer stood up and tempted Jesus, saying, Master [that means teacher], what shall I do to inherit eternal life? And Jesus said unto him, What is written in the law?" i.e., You are a lawyer. Your business is to expound the law. "What is written in the law? How readest thou? And he answering said, 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." Well, that is written in the law. It is a summary of the Ten Commandments. Not a New Testament summary, but the synopsis given by Moses himself, not all in one place, but in two different books of the Pentateuch. Here it is a quotation: "It is written in the law that 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." "And Jesus said unto him, Thou hast answered right. Do this and thou shalt live." Mark the answer: "Do this and thou shalt live." "But he, desiring to justify himself, said unto Jesus, Who is my neighbor? Jesus made answer and said, A certain man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho and he fell among robbers who both stripped him and beat him and departed, leaving him half dead."
That road from Jerusalem to Jericho was down hill all the way, the grade very steep and in certain parts of it almost a canyon through the mountains; a very narrow passway, with porous rocks on each side, honeycombed with caves. From time immemorial robbers have harbored in those caves and attacked travelers passing over that road from Jerusalem to Jericho and from Jericho to Jerusalem. In the time of the Crusaders an organization was formed called the "Knights Templars," for the sole purpose of establishing their headquarters on that road and protecting travelers, keeping robbers off. That organization of the Knights Templars increased and changed its original form until it became the mightiest organized power of chivalry at one period, and of rascality at a later period. Kings found it necessary to the peace of their realms to banish them. Romance readers will recall Scott's vivid description in Ivanhoe of their expulsion from England by Richard the Lion-hearted. In modern times we have the Knights Templars, a continuation of the old organization, only with different objects. Here it is well to note in passing that the illustrations of Jesus, while always supposititious, are always natural. His illustration is always a verisimilitude of real life; the thing could have naturally happened Just as he stated. "And by chance a certain priest was going down that way; and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side. And in like manner a Levite also, when he came to the place, and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came where he was; and when he saw him, he was moved with compassion, and came to him, and bound up his wounds, pouring on them oil and wine; and he set him on his own beast and brought him to an inn, and took care of him. And on the morrow he took out two-pence and gave them to the host, and said, Take care of him; and whatsoever thou spendest more, I, when I come back again will repay thee. Which of these three, thinkest thou, proved neighbor to him that fell among the robbers? And he said he that showed mercy on him. And Jesus said unto him, Go and do thou likewise."
I ask the reader to note, first, our Lord's method of dealing with men. He always addressed himself to the man's standpoint in such a way as to awaken thought and produce self-conviction. Here was an expounder of the law relying upon his conformity to the law for eternal life; an expounder of the law who wanted to call out and try Jesus on this standard. Hence he comes with this most important of all questions: "Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life? Oh, what a question! What a question for you, for me, for anybody, for everybody! "What shall I do to inherit eternal life?" Or, "What shall I do to escape eternal death?" Jesus says to him, "What does the law say?" "Well, the law says this: Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy strength and with all thy mind and with all thy heart, and thy neighbor as thyself." Jesus replied to the man, "You have answered right. That is what the law says. That covers the scope of all the Commandments. That summary comprehends every detail, not only of the decalogue, but of every other statute, civil, ecclesiastical, ceremonial, or of any other kind. That is the whole of it. "On these two hang all the law and the prophets." What was the question? "What shall I do to inherit eternal life?" Mark the answer: The law says, "Thou shalt love God with all thy heart and thy neighbor as thyself. Do this and thou shalt live. You are standing in the law. You are an expounder of the law. You are seeking justification before the law, from your standpoint. Here is your chance. Do this and thou shalt live. Fail to do this and thou shalt die."
Just here comes up a question. As men now are am not talking about Adam and how he was, but as men now are, is this a practical way of life? That is, is it possible for eternal life to be obtained this way? And the answer to it is prompt and clear: "By the deeds of the law shall no flesh be justified in the sight of God." That makes it absolutely impracticable. There is God's inspired declaration that while it remains true if a man will do what the law requires, he shall inherit eternal life, yet under present conditions it cannot be done; no man can obtain eternal life that way. And here arises a question in morality. Why then did Jesus say, "Do this and thou shalt live?" Why did be answer the question that way? For this reason: It was the object of Jesus to convict that man. That man did not think he was a sinner. Jesus knew he was. The Bible says, "By the law is the knowledge of sin." And Paul says, "I was alive without the law once, but when the commandment came sin revived and I died." Now that man stood before Jesus without any consciousness that he was a lost soul, and there in that delusion, he was going along a road that he thought would certainly land him in heaven, and the only way on the earth to cause him to turn from his hopeless and doomed path was to produce the conviction in his mind that he was a lost sinner. Hence Jesus says, "This is what the law says: Do it. Come and look in this mirror and let it, as you look, reflect back yourself to your sight, that you may see that you are not loving God with all your heart, with all your strength, with all your mind, and that you are not loving your neighbor as yourself." In other words, he turned Mount Sinai, trembling with the touch of God's foot and crested with the fire that shows his presence and throbbing with the thunders of his power, over on this man, not to save him, but to bring him to Calvary. Moses was a schoolmaster unto Christ. This lawyer stood there and said: "I am for the law. I am going to stand on my own record. I am going before the bar of God, at the last, and according to what I have done I will seek justification. Now, the sooner Jesus got that man to see what was the heart, the spirit, as well as the exceeding broadness of the divine commandment, the better it was for him. That was the object that Jesus had.
Pursuing the discussion our next question is: What is the constant attitude of the mind of a man who is trying to get to heaven that way? This passage says of the lawyer, "He, desiring to justify himself." There it is. The constant attitude is a desire to justify himself. But what does that desire to justify himself prompt him to do? Here is that high, broad commandment of God: "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart and thy neighbor as thyself," and here is a man trying to save himself by obedience to that law, and very anxious to justify himself. What result follows? He lowers that law to suit the grades of his obedience. How does this lawyer manifest that? By the question, "Who is my neighbor? Oh, yes, I am seeking salvation by the law. The law says I must love my neighbor as myself. Now in order for my obedience to that law to be practicable, I must so limit I the meaning of that word 'neighbor' as that my obedience will be co-extensive with it." The very first thing that it induces is the lowering of the divine commandment to suit the grade of the obedience. The lawyer in his mind was saying, "My neighbor is a Jew, and a Jew of my own sect, a Pharisee; of course not a Sadducee. He is not a neighbor of mine; an Essene, he is not a neighbor of mine; a Samaritan, pah! I would not even look toward a Samaritan. I love my neighbor as myself, but you must let me say who my neighbor is, that it means my brother Pharisee." Now we can see why Jesus gave him that answer, and to expose that man's profanation of the divine commandment and the sophistry with which he sought to justify himself, he gives the parable of the good Samaritan. As if he had said, "I will throw a side light on that subject of neighbor, and I will throw such a side light as you yourself with your own mouth shall condemn yourself." Didn't he condemn himself? What does the record say? When Christ got through with that story of the good Samaritan he puts the question to this lawyer: "Which of these three thinkest thou proved neighbor to him that fell among the robbers?" And out from his very lips the answer had to come, "He that showed mercy to him." But where does this answer land his law-righteousness? "If that is what the word 'neighbor' means, looking back over your past life, O Pharisee, where is your Justification? How have you loved your neighbor as yourself? You that seek to be justified by the law, in the light of this parable defining neighbor, you are a lost soul and you know it. You know you hate a Samaritan. You know you hate a Sadducee. You know you hate the Gentile. You know that you have wrapt the mantle of your exclusiveness about you, lest you should come in contact, and by contact receive defilement, from other men, and you have kept narrowing the law, narrowing it until you have got a little bit of a circle here, described by the word 'neighbor,' that confines only you and your wife and your son and his wife, and nobody else in the world."
I never saw a man on the face of this earth that stood on the basis of his morality, that stood on his own record, either before or after his conversion, that did not lower the divine law in order to make his obedience fill what the law required. A sliding scale! A sliding scale! I can keep the law perfectly if I may reach up and slide it down to fit what I do. So the parable of the good Samaritan disposes of the lawyer's quibble on the Second Commandment.
Let us now take up section 82, our Lord's first visit to the home of Mary and Martha. Perhaps no part of the Bible has attracted more quiet, pleasing attention than the part which tells of the relation of Jesus Christ to this Bethany family, consisting of two sisters and a brother. We have four special accounts of it. This is the first one, where Jesus makes the acquaintance of the family, and Martha, who seems to be the head of the house, the elder sister, invites him to be her guest. The second account is when they send him a message that their brother is sick, and his coming after the brother dies, and raising him to life again. The third account is later, six days before his last Passover, when he visits Bethany again. The fourth is still later, when, in this very village, a certain man, once a leper, gives him a feast and invites to meet him his friends and his disciples. In this case, as in the first, Martha characteristically serves the outer man while Mary ministers to the spiritual nature of Jesus.
The first question that called for solution in my own mind as I began to study this passage, was this: What object had Christ. in view in entering into this or any other house while he was here upon earth? If we once understand his purpose, the great reason prompting him to come, we can understand then what reception of him would be most consistent with that purpose and hence would best please him. He himself tells his purpose. He says, "I come not to be ministered unto, but to minister." He did not come into the world to be made much of as a guest, to receive a stranger's hospitality. He came to save the world, to minister to them. That purpose never left his mind. It follows that when he accepted this invitation he would approve as the better reception of him, that which best accorded with his object in going there.
The two sisters seem to have formed separate ideas of the kind of reception to tender Jesus. One of them, as we infer from what is said of her every time she is mentioned in the Bible, was a very careful housekeeper, with much pride in her housekeeping, and who, when she received a guest, thought that the best thing she could do would be to prepare a very sumptuous meal for him, and so she put herself to a vast deal of trouble in the preparation of this meal. She counted it a big thing, something well worthy of thought and anxiety and preparation. And so highly did she emphasize this part of hospitality that it drove everything else out of her mind. "Now the way I am to receive this guest who comes to my house this day is to spread before him such a table as he has not seen in a long time." This involved a great deal of work. The other sister had this idea of hospitality that to receive a guest properly implies that he be given her company; that it did not suffice to feed him, for he could provide food elsewhere, but if he came to that house he came to enjoy the companionship of those who were there. So, while the one concluded to give him a dinner, the other decided to give him her company, to entertain him personally. This view of it would strike any thoughtful mind at once as being the best attention a thoughtful hostess could possibly pay to a guest; to show by her presence, by the delicate manner in which she listens to what he says, is the best way to receive him, far higher in the scale of hospitality than to so busy herself about less important matters as to allow no opportunity for personal conversation or communion with him. On this point then, all good judges of hospitality will say that Mary's method was the better method.
But I pass to something very much higher than this. As was stated, our Lord came to minister to other people. He came to do them good. He was the great teacher of the way of life. He came to open up to them a plan of reconciliation to God. He came to save the souls of the people with whom he came in contact. Mary seemed to understand that: "Now as that is his mission, as his heart is on that, as he is thinking more of saving my soul than of eating a fine dinner in this house, I will receive him, not to my table but to my heart. Come and reign in my soul forever, Lord Jesus." And I submit that the reception of Jesus into the soul, to give him a welcome into the heart, is far higher than simply to give him a welcome at the table. A great many people have kind thoughts about the Son of God and his kingdom who are ready enough at times to minister, with some degree of thoughtfulness, to what are called the external wants of the kingdom of God, and yet these people are very slow to welcome that kingdom into their own souls, very reluctant to say, "I will not only give a portion of my time, of my money, and of my best skill to attend to the external parts of the Christian religion, but independent of all this, and higher than all of this infinitely, I will give myself, and let the Lord Jesus Christ be the King of my soul."
It is important next to observe that when he came to that house these two ways were optional. Martha chose one. Mary chose the other. I am not now discussing that high and mysterious and great doctrine of God's election, God's choosing us from before the foundation of the world, but I am speaking of the choice that we make. Here was a necessity of choice put upon these two women: "Jesus is coming to this house today. He will be a guest under this roof, and to both of us is an opportunity of election, as to the better method of receiving him." Martha chose one way and Mary chose the other way. Let us see then what this choice was. It is said that, "Mary sat at his feet." What does it mean? Does it mean that he occupied a high chair and that she took a stool or low chair, and literally and actually sat at his feet? There is not the slightest reference to that. Painters indeed catch that thought and so represent it in the great masterpieces given to the world on canvas, concerning this scene. But the expression "sitting at the feet is what is called a Hebrew idiom. Paul refers to it. He says he sat at the feet of Gamaliel. What does it mean there? It means that Gamaliel was the teacher and Paul was the pupil. To sit at one's feet then, in all the sense meant here, is to put one's self under the instruction of another, to become a pupil, to be taught. Behold then, the scene! The great Teacher has come to this house. His object is to teach and to teach the greatest thing. He comes to teach as no other can teach. Now, if the Teacher is coming, which is the better, to be no more than an ordinary cook to furnish him a dinner, or to receive instruction from him, to put the life under his direction? Note this point: To submit ones self to the tuition of Jesus is to become the disci- ple of Jesus. Jesus is the Master, the Teacher. Mary became the disciple or pupil. Approach that thought through a lower form. Suppose such a man as Socrates, the great teacher of philosophy, has come to the marketplace in Athens; and two services are there offered to him. First, a friendly huckster in the marketplace arranges for him a sumptuous repast, which is confessedly a very thoughtful, pleasant kindness; second, Alcibiades comes with lordly intellect, and princely form, and mighty influence to say, O Socrates, teach me; impart to me thy wisdom. Let me receive thy familiar instruction." Which service would please the great philosopher most? And when we consider that our Lord's teaching was infinitely higher than the teaching of any earthly philosopher, that it involved a gathering back of all the clouds of darkness that hide the other world from human sight, that it revealed to the clear eye of faith the great hereafter, eternity and judgment and salvation and glory, and that this is the first time that this Teacher comes to that house, why did it not occur to Martha: "The supreme thing that I can do this day is to place myself at Jesus' feet, saying, 'O Lord, instruct me.' "
The question recurs, Which would he like the better? Fortunately we have some examples from the Bible that show us which he liked best. On one occasion when traveling through Samaria, he stopped at Jacob's well near Sychar. They were tired and hungry; Jesus was very weary; they had walked a long way, and the minds of the disciples were very much concerned about dinner and what they should eat. For this they left him. But there came a woman to this well, and instantly Jesus forgot the hunger of his body and began the joyous work of leading a soul to salvation and making that soul the instrument of leading many others to salvation. And when the disciples return with their baskets of dinner he waves them aside and says, "I have meat to eat that ye know not of. You ask me which I prefer, which I would esteem as the greater joy, for you to bring me food to minister to temporal and physical hunger, or for God my Father to open up a way for me to show a lost soul how to find salvation." No wonder that his worldly minded brothers thought he was crazy on this very point, for we are told that on one occasion when word was brought to them that he was so much absorbed in teaching, in reaching out the hand to lead souls to eternal life, that he would not so much as eat, they said, "He is out of his mind." They wanted to get out a writ of lunacy against him and apprehend him, to lay violent hands upon the one who was so crazy as to prefer teaching the plan of salvation and the way of eternal life to the satisfaction of temporal hunger.
These two cases show how much more the Son of God appreciated the reception that Mary gave him than the reception that Martha gave him. She sat at his feet and heard his words. He says, "Mary hath chosen that good part. Martha, thou art anxious and troubled about a great many things. There is only one thing in this world that it is needful to be anxious about, just one, and that is the obtaining of that good part which can never be taken away." It is a waste of human energy; it is a degradation of human dignity; it is a reflection upon the majesty of the image of God in which a human being is made, that we should have distracting cares and anxieties about infinitesimally small things, the millions of them, when if they were all put together they would not weigh even as a particle of fine dust in the balance of God's judgment, and that too, when the great question of eternal life is not solved. Look at the Sermon on the Mount. See how he addresses himself to this question. He says, "Be not anxious about what ye shall eat nor what ye shall drink, nor what ye shall put on. The life is more than the raiment, than the food of the body, but seek ye first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and afterward all these things shall be added to you."
There was the wisdom of Mary; she chose the chief thing first. She made the great thing paramount. And there was the folly of Martha, that she disturbed her mind and fretted and fumed and took cares and burdens on her soul when that supreme question with her had not been settled. Here is a comparison between many things and one thing. "Martha, Martha, thou art disturbed about many things, but one thing is worth anxiety, only one thing in this world that you need to be deeply concerned about, and when that thing is settled, everything is settled, and when that is unsettled, all things are unsettled." It is only another instance of our Lord's manner of impressing upon his audience, whether that audience was a great crowd of people or a single individual, that we should first settle our relation with God, that we should fix our thoughts on the great need of the soul, and never allow anything else to be accounted as worthy of consideration until that supreme question was thoroughly and effectually settled. He gives as a reason for this that the good part that Mary chose could not be taken away from her.
This is the doctrinal point and I will discuss is briefly.
Our Saviour here certainly teaches that if one does choose God and eternal life, it can never be taken away from him.. I know there are some who teach that one may have that good part today and may lose it tomorrow. That puts it on an equality with the dinner that Martha made, with the perishable things, sweet to the taste and gladsome to the sight, here now and gone tomorrow, and the same hunger crying out to be appeased as if we had never stood at that feast. Over against the perishable in sublime contrast Christ puts the imperishable. Over against the things which slip through our fingers even while we grasp them, and the robes which fade even while we wear them, he puts the crown of eternal life, and predicates the wisdom of choice upon the fact that no change of season, no vicissitudes of life, no emergency that can arise under the sun, can ever jeopardize what we have gained when our souls once get that good part.
The psalmist refers to this in that precious division of the book of Songs that has always been a favorite with me, Psalm 73. After staling that God will guide him on earth with his counsel and afterward receive him into glory, he bursts into this rapture: "Though my heart fail, though my flesh fail, O God, thou art my portion forever." "Mary hath chosen that good portion which shall not be taken away from her." And in talking with his disciples about it he says, "I give unto them eternal life [mark the nature of it, eternal], and they shall never perish." "None shall pluck them out of my hand." "I am persuaded that neither life, nor death, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus." The value then of this good part consists in that when we once get it, it is ours forever. It is inalienable.
There are no destroying forces of wind or wave, or fire or persecution, that can eliminate one grain of substance from the solid and enduring gift of God, but in its fulness and in its entirety it is ours forever and ever.
"Mary hath chosen that good part which can never be taken away from her."
Let us notice in the next place that when we make an election of the good thing first that it shows the highest wisdom in this, that we secure the other things also. The apostle Paul referring to this says, "All things are yours. Is Peter a gifted apostle? If you are Christ's, Peter is yours. Is Apollos, that great rhetorician from Alexandria, who being converted to God turned all of the powers of his cultured mind to the ministry of God, desirable? Then Apollos is yours, and life is yours, and death is yours, and heaven is yours." All things are ours if we get the main thing, which is God.
We are so constituted, God made us so, that we can never be satisfied if we do not get that lasting portion that never can be taken away from us. The prophet Isaiah compares what are ordinarily called the good things of this world to a cistern. The cistern is a vessel limited, and a broken cistern can not hold any water. Not only is it limited in its capacity, while our cravings are unlimited on account of the eternity of our being, because we have a deathless soul, but even as a cistern it is cracked and lets the water out, whereas God, he says, is an unfailing fountain that is not wasted by its outgushing fulness and its overflowing, a fountain which comes from such deep reservoirs and such a great volume of accumulated waters that it commenced to sparkle and sing when the earth was created, and when the last day dawns on the world that fountain is still flowing. He says, "My people have committed two evils. They have forsaken me, the fountain of living water, and have hewed out for themselves broken cisterns which can hold no water."
Hear the words of a great and good man. Patrick Henry thus closed his last will and testament: "I have now disposed of all my property to my family. There is one thing I wish that I could give them and that is the Christian religion. If they had that (and I had not given them one shilling) they would be rich; and if they have not that (and I had given them all the world) they would be poor." Whoever has God and nothing else is rich indeed. Whoever has everything else and not God, is poor indeed. Then we see why one is called the good part. We see how there is no necessity to have any undue cares and anxieties about the little things. They are not worth it. The human soul ought not to vex itself over the nonattainable. Let them go if they do not come of themselves. Now we can understand what our Saviour meant when the disciples, the seventy that were sent out, came back rejoicing. "What are you so glad about?" "Lord, the devils are subject unto us." "Rejoice not that the devils are subject unto you. Why? Because there is only one thing in which the soul should rejoice. Rather rejoice that your names are written in heaven. Rejoice that the good portion is yours; rejoice that the great question of salvation has been settled and settled forever, and can never become unsettled." And that is why also those preachers who go out among the people, whose minds are so possessed with the value of a soul, who can enter into the depths of that question of Jesus, "What shall it profit a man if he gain the whole world and lose his own soul, or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul when it is once lost?" why the preachers who go out with that great ruling thought in their heart and address themselves to saving men, become such grand preachers. It is a nice thing to get up in the pulpit and sometimes, if we do not take too much time for it, a profitable thing to tell how many miles it is from Dan to Beersheba, and what is the grade of the fall of the river Jordan, and how much lower the Dead Sea is than the Mediterranean. These are good points, but if a preacher's mind is fixed on them, if he stops to look at landscapes, if his fancy is carried away with the height and blueness of mountains, if he stops to gaze at the trees and the flowers as he goes and forgets that souls are perishing, his ministry is barren, and the world could well do without him.
1. Recite the story of the good Samaritan.
2. What is the meaning of "lawyer" in this connection?
3. What are the two meanings of the word "tempt" and what its meaning here?
4. What question did the lawyer ask Jesus and how did Jesus turn the question upon him?
5. What was the lawyer's reply and where do we find this teaching in the Old Testament?
6. What was Jesus' reply to the lawyer's statement?
7. How did the lawyer then try to evade the proposition and what was Jesus' reply?
8. Describe the road from Jerusalem to Jericho.
9. What organization was formed as a result of such conditions as herein described and what of their later history?
10. What can you say of the illustrations of Jesus and what does this parable illustrate?
11. Who then is your neighbor?
12. What can you say of Jesus' method of dealing with men, what our Lord's purpose here and how is it here demonstrated?
13. What use does Jesus make of the law here and how does it con- form to the New Testament teaching on the same point? Discuss.
14. What is the constant attitude of a man who is trying to get to heaven by the works of the law and what result follows?
15. How does the parable of the good Samaritan explode the lawyer's theory of "Who is my neighbor"?
16. What can you say of the Bible accounts of the relation of Jesus to the Bethany family? Recite these accounts.
17. What was the purpose of our Lord in entering this or any other house in his earthly ministry?
18. What were the different ideas of the two sisters respecting the entertainment of our Lord and which must have pleased him the better?
19. How do these two women illustrate the relative importance of the externals and internals of the kingdom?
20. What can you say of the freedom in the choice of Martha and Mary and what is meant by "Mary sat at the Lord's feet?" Illustrate.
21. What illustrations from Christ's ministry showing his appreciation of the spiritual over the temporal?
22. What of the teaching of our Lord here touching anxieties and how does it correspond to his teaching elsewhere?
23. How is Mary's wisdom here seen above her sister Martha's?
24. What is the doctrinal point here? Discuss.
25. How is the highest wisdom shown in the election of the "good thing" first?
26. Why is this called the "good part"? Discuss and illustrate.
THE MODEL PRAYER REPEATED; A BLASPHEMOUS ACCUSATION; HOW TO BE CLEAN; AND A DISCOURSE ON HYPOCRISY, WORLDLY ANXIETIES, WATCHFULNESS, ETC.
Harmony, pages 112-118 and Luke 11:1-13; 59.
In section 83 of the Harmony (Luke 11:1-13) we have the model prayer repeated. It will be noted that the phraseology here is quite different from that found in section 42 (Matt. 6: 5-15), but the ideas are the same. Then follows immediately the parable of the friend at midnight, which teaches that importunate prayer overcomes the greatest difficulties, to which is added the promise of success to the one who asks, seeks, and knocks. In this same connection is also given the promise of the Holy Spirit to them who ask for him. This promise is emphasized by contrasting the willingness of earthly parents, though evil, in giving good gifts to their children, with the heavenly Father's willingness to give the Holy Spirit.
In section 84 of the Harmony (Luke 11:14-36) we have the incident of casting out the demon which was dumb, and the blasphemous accusation that Jesus did this by the prince of demons. This incident and the teaching growing out of it needs to be considered more particularly.
When that question came up about the expulsion of that demon, Jesus met it substantially thus: Here is a fact. This man was occupied and Satan has been cast out. How do you account for it? The Pharisees reply: "You cast him out by the chief of demons." "But that is absurd. A house divided against itself cannot stand, and if Satan cast out Satan, Satan's kingdom ends. Moreover, you and your children profess to be able to cast out demons. Turn your logic there, and if I, by the prince of demons, cast out demons, do not your children? As you say of your children, then let them judge you in this accusation. If not then by Satan, then what follows? Here is a superhuman power that could not be expelled except by a stronger force. Man is no stronger force. This superhuman power has been overthrown. It is absurd to suppose that Satan did it himself. Hence it follows that I by the finger of God have cast him out. And then it follows that if I by the finger of God have cast him out, the kingdom of heaven is come to him. The kingdom of heaven is present whenever Satan is overthrown, for Satan will not overthrow himself, and it must be a power greater than Satan, and therefore it is the kingdom of heaven, and that kingdom of heaven is among you." What a thought! See one who last year rejoiced in the fact that he was a sinner, that he did not go to church, that he reviled religion, that he mocked at its holy claims, that he laughed at its threatenings, that he invoked presumptuously a judgment this man that pitched his frail straws of opposition against the thick bosses of Jehovah's buckler look, a change has come, and profanity has died on his lips and praises sit there, praises unto his God. A glorious change! Light has come into his eye, innocence into his face, joy and love into his heart, hope into his soul, consecration into his life, and it has been done by the finger of God, and it is a demonstration that the kingdom Of God has come. It is here. That is one thing it proves. What other thing? It proves the Judgment. "When the Holy Spirit is come he will convince the world of judgment, because the prince of this world is judged." The Scriptures say that there shall appear a great white throne, and him that sitteth on it, before whom the heavens shall fade away, and before whom all nations shall be gathered, and that they shall be judged out of the things that are written in the book. One solid argument that judgment is coming is that the prince of this world is judged. Satan is judged and overthrown, and if the captain be judged and his power demolished, then we may rest assured that his subjects will be judged. That crisis on Calvary was the only crisis the world ever had after the fall of man in the garden of Eden, the only one. Just as sure as Satan is judged; just as sure as the finger of God delivers one here and there throughout the land; every time there is heard the voice of a newborn soul; every time there is an emergence from darkness into light; every time one lifts himself up through the power of God and shakes off the crushing bondage of the devil, it is another thunder-toned demonstration that the judgment is coming, and all who are of Satan shall go to Satan's place, to the place prepared for the devil and his angels.
The strong man here then is Satan, but what is his trusted armor? I will name some pieces of it which show the ground of his confidence. First, "this subject of mine is lawfully condemned by the divine statute. There is the strength of my hold on him. There is the chief part of my armor even the righteous law of God. I could not have done anything with him if I had not made him transgress the law, and now, while God's law stands and calls for a victim to satisfy its penal sanction, my hold on him is good." What else? "When he sinned his nature became perverted. That which had loved God now hates God, and I trust in that aversion to his heart from God. I know that his mind is not subject to God's law and cannot be made subject to God's law. His inherited depravity, therefore, is a part of my armor. By it I shut the windows of the cup held out before him. If his bent be not in this direction, if he have a disposition that cannot be extravagant or spendthrift, then I lead him in the path of the miser, and fill his mind full of wise laws and maxims and apothegms about saving and holding on to what he gets, and that 'if a man doth not provide for his own he hath denied the faith and is worse than an infidel'; and in the guise of economy I will make him so stingy and hard-hearted that the granite is softer than his soul. I trust to his habits." These things constitute Satan's armor. Evidently till some one stronger than Satan shall come, this usurped dominion over this world will be successfully maintained. And Just here I want to call attention to one of the most remarkable missionary sermons ever preached by man, by one of the profoundest thinkers that ever honored the American continent. It is Dr. Lyman Beecher's great sermon on the "Resources of the Adversary and the Means of His Overthrow."
The next question is, "How are these captives at peace in a state of captivity?" "When a strong man armed keepeth his palace his goods are at peace." How can people be at peace who are in bondage, who are slaves, who have lost that liberty with which God originally endowed the moral agent? How is it that they are at peace? In a case of mesmerism so long as the subject is under the influence of the mesmerizer he is at peace; he reflects the mind of the one who has put the spell upon him. He voices the will of that one. He performs what the mesmerizer commands. No one can come in from the outside and break that spell, and so long as the spell obtains, that man, if one were to ask him the question, "Are you obeying this mesmerizer cheerfully?" "Yes." "Are you doing this of your own will?" "Yes, I want to do just what he tells me to do." That illustration may partly serve to introduce this scriptural thought, that when a strong delusion possesses the mind it assures the mind of its rightfulness, and there is perfect confidence on the part of the deluded one in the rightfulness of the position which he occupies. He is thinking another's thought. A superior and imperious will is suggesting his thought and inditing his words and prompting his acts and filling his heart so that he becomes but the expression of another, doing the will of another, and while in that state he is at peace. What good would it do to argue with one who is mesmerized? What pictures would he see if we were to hold them up before him? What impression could we make on his mind that is occupied? His mind is preoccupied. His mind is filled full of another. Hence, before that man can be delivered we must overcome the one that holds him under the spell. Hence, this passage says that "when a strong man armed keepeth his palace his goods are at peace." We have illustrations of this in people that we from our standpoint of regeneration, of redemption in Christ, know to be lost. We know them to be slaves. We know them to be doomed. And yet, they calmly look into our eyes and claim as complete a satisfaction with their state as we claim for our state. How many times have I heard one of the most deluded men repeat, putting his hand upon his heart, "I have perfect peace. I am at rest."
The next question is, "How is the captor at peace?" He seems to be perfectly quiet, as long as his subject remains in subordination, as long as there is no effort to throw off the yoke of bondage, as long as there is no rebellion against his authority, the captor seems to be at peace; and we also notice in this passage that if that evil spirit be expelled from a man or voluntarily leaves him that then he, the captor, is at unrest: "But when the unclean spirit is gone out of the man he walketh through dry places seeking rest and finding none." To dispossess him is to put him at unrest. Note this thought. We get at the nature of a mind by the surroundings it seeks. This evil spirit seeks dry places, waste places, desolate spots, volcanic shores, treeless countries. There is something in the brazen sky above, in the iron bound earth beneath, in the dust, in the barren rocks, in the lava beds and other tokens of volcanic eruptions; in other words, in the desolation and the absence and privation of life, there is something consonant with his feelings. If consonant with his feelings why does he not find the rest that he seeks in these places? This demon that has been cast out, when he comes to a desert where no rose blossoms and no water laughs, no birds sing and no flowers perfume the air, no luscious fruits hang from the trees; when he comes to a country that seems to be a land of ashes and despair, looking for rest in such surroundings, why does he not find it? Here is the answer:
It does not content a deathless mind to have an empire only over rock and soil. It does not content such a lost spirit to see a land burned up in drought or convulsed by volcanic eruptions. It does not content such a mind as that to see the lightning rive the vigorous oak and blast the surrounding trees about it. That does not content it. "I want to see desolation and despair come not only to rocks and trees, but I want to see it come to intelligence. I want to rule over minds. I want to rule over souls." Hence, he is never at rest until he gets some soul in subjection. When the unclean spirit is gone out of the man he walketh through dry places seeking rest, and finding none he says, "I cannot stay out here. I will return unto my house, whence I came out. I want to inhabit a man's body and dominate a man's soul and make that a desert. I want to put that in ruin, so that when I look abroad on the prostrate image of God, on the understanding darkened, on the conscience seared, on the judgment deflected, on the affections perverted, on the brain collapsed, on great powers prostituted when I look on that I can then say, 1 am getting even with God.' I am at rest, satisfied while I can hold such a possession as that. Take this away from me and I cannot content myself with fire and ashes and rock and drought." And what is true of an expelled demon is true of one who is demon like. A man whose character is crystallized in evil would not be satisfied in the presence of purity. He seeks impurity. He is not satisfied simply to have the forces of nature subject to him. Not he. "I want to poison youth. I want to defile the minds of young men. I want to turn aside the right thoughts of young maidens. I want to dominate and hold in subjection, under bondage to my dictation, people who have immortal souls." We sometimes wonder why these recruiting sergeants of the devil, these agents of evil, why they take such a delight and go so much out of their way, to cause another human being to fall. That is the reason. It is their unrest. They will not be content with a barren sway. They want to exercise power over intellect and over soul, and that is why they do this.
Who then is the stronger than Satan? On this point the Bible is clear as the sun. Immediately after Satan obtained his dominion by guile, God promised to put enmity between the woman and Satan, and that the seed of the woman should bruise his head the seed of the woman, not of the man. As by subtlety he overcame Eve, so through the seed of the woman shall a Deliverer come. When Cain was born Eve thought the promise was fulfilled and said, "I have gotten the man from the Lord," but that was not the seed of the woman, nor was Abel. Not he. He saith, "And the seed" (not seeds), meaning one there should come one born of a woman that would overthrow Satan. How could he do it? Who could solve the problem? And yet at last a bright being winged his way from the heavenly mansion and came down to the lowly hut of a Jewish maiden and said, "Hail, Mary. Blessed art thou among women. I announce to thee that of thee shall be born the Holy One that shall overcome Satan." And the power of the Highest overshadowed the virgin and the Holy One born of her was called the Son of God.
Here in this passage, are two releases spoken of: A release that simply expels Satan and then a release that expels Satan and puts Christ in: that release which simply drives out Satan and leaves the house empty is not a complete victory, for there may be a relapse. The mind is not occupied. Man's mind, man's soul, is derived, it is created. It is not a creator. Hence it must be in subjection, and simply to expel one master and not provide another is not to win a final victory, because when the unclean spirit is gone out of a man, that does not mean that the Holy Spirit is gone into the man. And though that house be swept and garnished, yet if it is empty, no Spirit of God reigning in those chambers, that evil spirit may come back, and "the last state of that man is worse than the first." And just here a capital mistake is often made. Some men suppose that it is conversion to have Satan expelled. How does the expulsion of Satan turn the carnal mind into amity? Now, if Satan had taken possession of innocent people, if Satan had taken violent possession, and not by guile and through their consent, the expulsion of Satan would have been sufficient. But since they are fallen in their nature the expulsion of Satan and the cessation of his direct domination, does not mean that a man is converted. We have seen people who had an experience similar to this in the abandonment of a bad habit, and they thought they were converted. "I was once a drunkard; I have quit; now am I not a Christian? I was once a swearer; I no longer swear; am I not now a Christian? I was once the slave of sensual desires; I now govern my passions; am I not now a Christian? I once was stingy; I now make large contributions to benevolent purposes. The evil spirit is gone out of me; am I not now a Christian?" Certainly not, unless another master has come in unless Christ, unless the Holy Spirit dwell in that heart, and have renewed that soul by regeneration we are simply delivered from the immediate domination of Satan, and our house is without a tenant. That is all without a tenant; but we may be assured the devil will get tired of ruling over dry rocks, and he will say, "I cannot find anything to sufficiently occupy my powers or satisfy my desires out here on mere material nature. I will go back to my old house. I remember, I remember how I dominated that intellect, that soul; how I prostituted it. I will go back." And he goes back and he takes a look, looks into the window: "The house is swept; it is garnished. Nobody in that house; empty, empty! Jesus is not in there. The Holy Spirit is not in there. I went out, but nobody else has been put in, and now I go back in there, this time to stay, and so I will call to me other evil spirits, many in number, more evil than I am, and our name shall be legion, and we will re-enter that house and fortify again and hold that soul," and the "last state of that man is worse than the first." Sometimes a man, just by one of those little tricks of the devil, the cessation of an evil habit, perhaps imagines he in converted, joins the church and becomes a preacher, but the house being empty shall he escape Satan? Can Satan find him in the pastor's study? Can Satan follow him into the pulpit? Can Satan enter into that pulpit and refill that unoccupied heart, and say, "Go thou and be my infidel! go thou and be the apostle of unbelief"? Unquestionably. And unquestionably the "last state of that man is worse than the first," for it is hopeless.
I have never in my life heard of any man being saved who has apostatized from the pulpitω1 mean who went into infidelity from the pulpit. I have never heard of a case; I have never read of a case. "The last state of that man is worse than the first."
There are several other items of interest in section 84 which call for special mention. First, a woman with true motherly instinct cried out from the multitude: "Blessed is your mother." But Jesus referred her to the higher relation which is expressed in obedience to God. Second, he reproved that generation as evil because they were seeking a sign, but no sign would be given it but that of Jonah, typifying the Lord Jesus Christ in his resurrection. Third, he gives a principle of the judgment, as illustrated by the incident of the "queen of the south" and that also of the Ninevites. These show that the judgment will be conducted on the principle that the condemnation will be according to the amount of light that people have here in this world. Fourth, the illustration of the lighted lamp, which connects back with Matthew 6:22-23. There the dark side of the illustration is presented, but here the light side. The thought is expressed in v. 36, which is a thrust at their stubborn and wilful darkness in the face of such light as they had in Jesus Christ.
We now take up section 85 of the Harmony, the incident of Jesus break fasting with a Pharisee. The paragraph is Luke 11:37-54. Now as he spake, a Pharisee asketh him to take breakfast with him, and he went in, and sat down to meat. And when the Pharisee saw it, he marveled that he had not dipped himself before breakfast. And the Lord said unto him, replying to his thought, "Now do ye Pharisees cleanse the outside of the cup and of the platter; but your inward part is full of extortion and wickedness. Ye foolish ones, did not he that made the outside make the inside also? Howbeit, give for alms those things which are within; and behold, all things are clean unto you." The King James Version reads: "But rather give alms of such things as ye have; and, behold, all things are clean unto you." But this reads: "Give for alms those things which are within and all things are clean unto you." There is no doubt in anybody's mind as to the word in the original Greek, enonta. This word was before the King James translators and the Canterbury revisers, but it can be grammatically derived from either one of two words, eni or eneimi. If from the former, it means "such things as ye have," but if from the latter, it means, "those things that are within." Where the grammatical construction favors one derivation as much as another, we must go to the context to determine the true word from which it is derived; and the context here unquestionably shows that the Canterbury revisers derived it from the right word. I recall many books which I have read and hundreds' of things which I have heard, predicating an awfully false theology upon the King James rendering, "Give alms of such things as ye have and all things are clean unto you," that is, if we are benevolent, if we are open-hearted, why, the Lord will forgive everything else; and the way to get to heaven, the way to inherit eternal life, is just to give alms. But that is far from the meaning of Jesus.
To resume the quotation: "But woe unto you Pharisees! for ye tithe mint and rue and every herb, and pass over judgment and the love of God; but these ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone. Woe unto you Pharisees! for ye love the chief seats in the synagogues and the salutations in the market places. Woe unto you! for ye are as the tombs which appear not, and the men that walk over them know it not. And one of the lawyers answering said unto him, Master, in saying this thou reproachest us also. And he said, Woe unto you lawyers also! 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 tombs of the prophets, and your fathers killed them. So ye are witnesses and consent unto the works of your fathers; for they killed them, and ye build their tombs. Therefore also said the wisdom of God, I will send unto them prophets and apostles; and some of them they shall kill 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 Zachariah, who perished between the altar and the sanctuary: Yea, I say unto you, it shall be required of this generation" (Luke 11:42-50).
What an awful thing is God's dealing with a nation or a race! Just as he deals with an individual, so with a nation the whole race. And how the long treasured wrath that has been massing up from the beginning of a nation's history until its iniquity is full, bursts over the barriers, and on that last generation falls all of the accumulated woe.
Instance the French Revolution. Louis XVI was about the most moderate, the most amiable of all the Bourbon kings, and yet on him and in his day came the doom that the predecessors of his dynasty had gathered up. "Woe unto you lawyers! for ye took away the key of knowledge!" Not the key that unlocks knowledge, but the key, knowledge; knowledge itself is the key. "Ye took away the key." What key? Knowledge. "Ye entered not in yourselves, and them that were entering in, ye hindered."
This passage shows that what that man in section 81 did as an individual the Pharisees did as a class; that in order to obtain justification by the law they were sliding God's law down on everything. How? Well, the law requires us to be clean, clean, clean. But they said that we will slide the law down so that it just means to be clean on the outside; that it only means to keep the outside of the cup and the platter clean. That is all. Inwardly full of rottenness and dead men's bones. "Ye foolish ones! Did not he that made the outside make the inside also? Does not the law of God require truth in the inward part? Does it .not say that the inward part shall know wisdom and righteousness? And now you will slide it down until it only means obedience in little things, but not the great things, tithing mint and rue and herbs and leaving undone love and judgment and mercy. Ye hypocrites! It says, 'Honor thy father and thy mother,' but you do not want to honor your father and your mother, so you slide that law down, so that it says, that if I take some of my property and write 'Corban' on it, and say, It is a gift,' then I am under no obligation to take care of my old worn-out father; I am under no obligation to support, in her last days, my infirm mother. Thou hypocrite! sliding the law down, and it must be slided down to get any justification."
How shall I be clean? How shall I keep clean? "Give alms of those things that are within and all things are clean unto you." Here is a question of how to be clean and how to keep clean. Some say, "Wash externally"; Jesus says, "Wash inwardly, and let the soul be made clean." What a man has on his hands, the little dirt on his hands that when he goes to eat may get into his mouth, that does not defile him, but defilement comes from within. "Out of the heart of man proceed murder and blasphemy and adultery and every foul and loathsome thing." That is where defilement comes from.
In section 86 of the Harmony (Luke 12) we have a continued discourse of our Lord, interrupted here and there by a question from the audience. There are some things in this discourse which remind us of the Sermon on the Mount, and others which remind us of his great discourse on the second advent. These parts are v. 21-34 and 35-40 respectively. The first thought here presented by our Lord is the danger of the leaven of the Pharisees, which was hypocrisy. With this statement as a predicate he showed that all hidden things should be revealed, and exhorted them not to fear them who could kill the body and not hurt the soul, but to fear him who had power to cast into hell. Then follows the great passage on the providential care of God's children; that God cares for the small birds, and the very hairs on our heads are numbered. All this was given to encourage them to be steadfast in their testimony of him in the most trying times of persecution. In this connection he refers to the sin against the Holy Spirit which I discussed at length in The Four Gospels, Volume I of this INTERPRETATION.
Just at this point our Lord was interrupted by a request from the audience, that he become a divider of an inheritance, to which he replied that he was not a judge nor a divider of inheritances. Then he issued a warning against covetousness, illustrating it by the parable of the rich fool, which shows the folly and danger of selfish wealth. Out of this incident also came forth his great teaching on God's providential care for his children (21-34) so similar to his great teaching on the same subject in his Sermon on the Mount. In this she shows God's pledge to care for those who make his kingdom paramount in their lives. Then he closes this paragraph by exhorting them to secure perennial purses by transmuting the money of this world into the money of heaven, where thieves and moths could not steal nor destroy. But the reason for it all is that the heart follows the treasure.
Our Lord follows this teaching with the parable of the watchful servant, which warns God's people to be ready at all times to meet the coming Lord. He introduces this thought with the imagery of the parable of the ten virgins, viz.: the girded loins, the burning lamps, and the watchfulness of the five who were ready to go out to meet him, but the thought is different in that when they receive him as here described he makes a feast for them and serves them. The point of both, though, is readiness for his coming in view of the concealment of the time at which he shall come.
The next paragraph (12:41-48) enlarges the idea and teaching of the preceding parable. This was suggested by Peter's question, "Speakest thou this parable unto us, or even unto all?" The Lord apparently ignores Peter's question, but" shows by the application that he here included all, i.e., those who were his faithful servants, and that his dealing with all would be on the same principle of justice; that one principle is that the rewards and punishments at the judgment will be according to the amount of light people have here, but all disobedience will receive its just recompense of the reward.
The rest of this chapter consists of three parables. The first is the parable of fire, sword, and flood, which shows the divisive effect of the gospel. This has been illustrated in thousands of homes as here described. The second is the parable of the weather signs, which shows that, as the weather signs forecast the weather, so spiritual developments forecast themselves to the observing, just as the sons of Issachar were wise to discern what Israel ought to do. The third is the parable of the settlement with an adversary which warns against the delay in being reconciled with God.
1. What can you say of the model prayer given, here as compared with the one given in Matthew 6:5-15?
2. What parable in this connection, what is its lesson, what promises growing out of it, and how is the latter one emphasized?
3. What blasphemous accusation did the Jews make against Jesus here, what was its occasion and how did Jesus meet it?
4. How does Jesus turn their logic against them?
5. If Christ cast out demons by finger of God, what followed from that fact?
6. How is the kingdom of heaven brought to a man? Illustrate.
7. How does this prove the judgment?
8. Who then is the strong man here and what is his trusted armor?
9. What sermon commended by the author in this connection?
10. How are these captives at peace?
11. When is the captor at peace and what causes his unrest?
12. Who then is the stronger than Satan?
13. What two releases here spoken of? Discuss and illustrate each.
14. What cry from the multitude in response to this teaching of Jesus, what was the reply of Jesus and what its meaning?
15. What reproof did Jesus here give the Jews? Explain?
16. What principle of judgment did he here announce & how did he illustrate?
17. What is the illustration of the lighted lamp and what does it illustrate?
18. Give an account of Jesus' breakfasting with a Pharisee.
19. What is the difference in the rendering of Luke 11:41 in the King James Version and in the Canterbury Version?
20. Which is the true rendering and what is the proof?
21. What heresy based upon the King James rendering?
22. What was Jesus' charge here against the Pharisees?
23. What was his charge against the lawyers?
24. How does Jesus here show God's dealing with a nation? Illustrate.
25. What is the meaning & application "Ye took away the key of knowledge"?
26. How does this passage here show that the Pharisees as a class did just what the man described in section 81 did as an individual? Discuss.
27. What are the two theories of cleanliness and which is scriptural?
28. In our Lord's discourse in Luke 12 what do we find to remind us of the Sermon on the Mount and the discourse on the second advent?
29. What was our Lord's warning respecting the Pharisees and what his teaching growing out of this warning?
30. What is the teaching here on the providence of God, and what was its occasion and what its purpose?
31. What reference here to the sin against the Holy Spirit?
32. What was our Lord's teaching respecting wealth, what was the occasion of this teaching, how did he illustrate it, and what special teaching on the providence of God growing out of this incident?
33. What is the meaning of "purses perennial"?
34. What of the parable of the watchful servant; its imagery; the difference in the thought of this and that of the parables of the ten virgins?
35. How does the next paragraph (12:41-48) enlarge the idea and teaching of this parable and what is the teaching here in particular?
36. What three parables in Luke 12:49-59, and what is the import of each? Illustrate.
REPENT OR PERISH; PARABLES OF THE MUSTARD SEED AND LEAVEN; AT THE FEAST OF DEDICATION; "ARE THERE FEW THAT BE SAVED?" DINING WITH A PHARISEE AND A THREEFOLD LESSON; THE COST OF DISCIPLESHIP
Harmony, pages 118-I22 and Luke 13:1-14, 22-25; John 10:22-42.
In this chapter we commence with section 87 of the Harmony (Luke 13:1-9), which is on the necessity of repentance. This thought is elaborately treated in my discussion on repentance (see The Four Gospels, Volume I of this INTERPRETATION). Therefore, I pause here only to say that the parable in v. 6-9 illustrates the teaching on repentance in the preceding verses as it applied to the Jews. The "three years" of this parable refers to the three years of Christ's ministry to the Jews prior to this time. "This year" refers to the time from the giving of this parable to the end of Christ's ministry and was the last space for repentance granted the Jewish nation. This parable of the fig tree should be taken in connection with the cursing of the barren fig tree which marks the end of the space here allotted for their repentance. Then the mercy limit was passed and the tree was cut down, i.e., the sentence was pronounced though it was not executed until the year A. D. 70 when Jerusalem was destroyed by Titus.
In section 88 we have an account of an act of mercy on the part of Jesus, performed on the sabbath day, which provoked the indignant expression of condemnation from the ruler of the synagogue because this was done on the sabbath day. To this Jesus replied with the parable of watering the ox on the sabbath, which shows the triumph of mercy over statutory law. This put his adversaries to shame, and all the multitude rejoiced because of the glorious things that were done by him. Then he gave two parables that of the mustard seed and that of the leaven, illustrating, respectively, the extensive and intensive phases of the kingdom. The kingdom, with a very small beginning is destined to be the biggest thing in the world, and the method of the kingdom is the leavening process. The principles of the kingdom, through the gospel, must permeate every part of the world until the whole shall be leavened.
In section 89 (John 10:22-42) we have an account of an incident in Solomon's porch in the Temple at Jerusalem. The Jews here demanded that Jesus should tell them plainly whether he was the Christ. To this he replied that he had already told them, but they would not believe. Then he cited them to his works and his relationship to his people and the Father, upon which they attempted to take him, but "He went forth out of their hand," and went away into Perea where many believed on him. In this section is to be noted one of the strongest teachings of our Lord on the final preservation of the saints: that his people know him intimately and are held by the firm hand clasp of himself and the Father, which shows that God's people are beyond the power of the devil to destroy them. Not one of them shall perish without breaking the omnipotent grip of the hands of the Trinity. In section 90 of the Harmony (Luke 13:22-35) we have a very important question asked, and therefore I shall dwell upon it at length here because it involves a most important proposition respecting the final outcome of the gospel of the kingdom of our Lord. To a Bible class I once put these questions and passed them all around, insisting on direct answers from each one: "Have you ever been seriously concerned about the comparative number of the saved and the lost? Does the question obtrude itself often? So far as you are able to determine, is mere curiosity the predominant element prompting the question?"
It was developed by the answers that all had been concerned and often about this matter the concern sometimes resulting from curious speculation sometimes from graver causes. Where the spirit of inquiry is reverent, in view of the infinite God, and humble, in view of our own finite nature, and for good ends, very gentle is our Lord in replying to our questionings, and only where it is best for us do we find the barrier, "Hidden things belong to God, but revealed things to us and our children." If then we have this reverent spirit, this humility so becoming to our finite nature, if our inquiry looks to good ends only, and if we are willing to stop where our Lord's wisdom and love raises a barrier to further investigation just now, and if at that barrier we consent in patience to wait, comforting ourselves with his assurance that we shall know hereafter what we know not now, even knowing as we are known, then I see no reason why we may not follow our great Teacher as he, in his own fashion, answers the question: "Are there few that be saved?" Let us then very reverently consider the whole paragraph: "And one said unto him, Lord, are they few that be saved? And he said unto them, Strive to enter in by the narrow door: for many, I say unto you, shall 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, open to us; and he shall answer and say to you, I know you not whence ye are; then shall ye begin to say, We did eat and drink in thy presence, and thou didst teach in our streets; and he shall say, I tell you, I know 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 yourselves cast forth without. And they shall come from the east and west, and from the north and 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."
Now that the whole paragraph is before us we are first of all reminded of this saying in the Sermon on the Mount: "Enter ye in by the narrow gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many be they that enter in thereby. For narrow is the gate, and straitened the way, that leadeth unto life, and few be they that find it."
Here then we learn our first lesson if our minds are docile, that our Lord's words are often repeated, but always with a variant setting of conditions and circumstances. Wide apart are the places and yet wider apart the conditions and times of the two lessons. The scene of the Sermon on the Mount is Galilee, the time early in his ministry. The application of the paragraph cited (Matt. 7:13-14) more local. The scene of our lesson today is Perea, late in his ministry, the application more worldwide.
In Matthew 7:14 he says, "Few there be that find it." But we may not arbitrarily construe these words of our Lord to be an answer to the general question: "Are there few that be saved?" When he says "few" in Matthew 7:14, we are sure he is not referring to the whole number of the elect. He refers to Jews and to Jews of that day. Allow me to prove this double limitation. Turn to the next chapter in Matthew, where our Lord marvels at the faith of the Gentile centurion: "And the centurion answered and said, Lord, I am not worthy that thou shouldest come under my roof: but only say the word, and my servant shall be healed. For I also am a man under authority, having under myself soldiers: and I say to this one, Go, and he goeth; and to another, Come, and he cometh; and to my servant, Do this, and he doeth it. And when Jesus heard it, he marveled, and said to them that followed, Verily I say unto you, I have not found so great faith, no, not in Israel. And I say unto you, that many shall come from the east and the west, and shall sit down with Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, in the kingdom of heaven: but the sons of the kingdom shall be cast forth into the outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth."
This incident occurred immediately after the Sermon on the Mount and that "few" there has become the "many" here. So, then, we must not construe Matthew 7:14, "few there be that find it," with this passage. For a true parallel read together Matthew: 8:11 and Luke 13:29, this way: "And I say unto you, that many shall come from the east and the west, and shall sit down with Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, in the kingdom of heaven" (Matt. 8:11). "And they shall come from the east and west, and from the north and south, and shall sit down in the kingdom of God" (Luke 13:29).
The glorious prophecies and promises in both Testaments concerning the ingathering of the Jews after the fulness of the Gentiles, show that the "few" of Matthew 7:14 is limited even in its Jewish application. So that we may express the whole matter somewhat in this fashion: "Are there few that be saved?" Answer: Of the Jews of Christ's day, few; of the Gentiles, not many; of Jews and Gentiles in apostolic days, perhaps we find an answer in the glowing imagery of Revelation 7:2-17. But two verses express the thought: "And I heard the number of them that were sealed, a hundred and forty and four thousand, sealed out of every tribe of the children of Israel. . . . After these things I saw, and behold, a great multitude, that no man could number, out of every nation, and of all tribes and peoples and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, arrayed in white robes, and palms in their hands. . . . These that are arrayed in the white robes, who are they, and whence came they? . . . These are they who come out of the great tribulation, and they washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb." But we must not look on this as the final showing. This is the first fruits only. This is but the first martyr crop. We must read Revelation 21-22 to get a full view of the Holy City the Lamb's Bride.
So then if I were called on to answer, in the light of Bible teaching, this question: "At the judgment will the saved outnumber the lost?" I would reply by citing in contrast a Jewish opinion prevalent just before Christ was born, and a Christian opinion of the present day, and say frankly that I am inclined to the Christian opinion. The Jewish opinion is thus expressed twice in the apocryphal book of Esdras: "The kingdom on earth was made for many; the kingdom above for few," and "The number of the saved is like a drop to the wave." Such is the Jewish opinion. The Christian opinion, expressed by one of the truly great expositors of this generation is: "The number of the finally lost will compare with the whole number saved about as the criminals in jails and penitentiaries now compare with the free and law-abiding citizens of this country." For myself, without taking time just now to cite the scriptural basis of the judgment, I heartily cherish the Christian opinion.
Understand me, I do not dogmatize here, but express the deepest, maturest conviction of mind, that at the round up, the outcome, the consummation, our blessed Lord will have saved the overwhelming majority of the human race. There are many mansions in the Father's house. They will be occupied. There is great room in paradise. It will be filled. Many indeed that were bidden shall not enter in, but other hosts will. I count much on the millennium. Even if it mean only a literal thousand years, who can estimate the teeming population this earth may bring forth and nourish in ten centuries of the highest religious civilization, with Satan shut up; peace reigning; no armies; no wars; no plague, famine, or pestilence? I am quite sure that all the population for the first six thousand years would not be a tithe of the population of the seventh thousand and under millennial conditions of health, knowledge, peace, and love. The devil banished and selfishness routed and religion reigning as Christ taught it, all the latent forces of nature developed by civilization, disease checked, and this earth could easily produce and support a hundred billion people for each generation of the thousand years. I mention this just this way because of the deep earnestness and ever-recurring interest attaching to the question: "Lord, are there few that be saved?"
Let us now take up this passage and mark our Saviour's treatment of this dread question. The questioner here, as I think) was prompted by prurient curiosity, or to evade personal responsibility. This may be inferred from the fact that our Lord did not answer him directly. He heard him, but he answered aside to the others; and always where some good and honest motive is at the bottom of a question propounded to our Lord, he answers to the person. Seeing then that when this man asked this question, "Are there few that be saved?" he turned and gave his answer to the crowd that were about him, I believe that the question was prompted by an evil motive, though the questioner may not have been conscious of it.
It is that answer of our Lord Jesus Christ to that question, as set forth in this passage, that I wish to speak very earnestly about. Our Saviour's answer suggests several reflections, each worthy of some notice, in its order.
1. There is an implied rebuke of the questioner. This may be fairly gathered from the answer: "Strive to enter in at the strait gate." Does not that seem to suggest to the questioner that there was a much more important matter to which he should be giving his attention? Does not that say to him plainly that his mind is exercised upon the solution of a problem comparatively unimportant, and especially when considered in contrast with this mightier one? The rebuke points with emphatic earnestness to the necessity of giving precedence to a personal matter. "Are you to be one of the saved? Are you to be one of the saved, whether the whole number be few or many? That number, great or small, will not amount to much to you if you are lost." Whatever the number, whatever the comparative status of the number, here is a question of great and personal interest, "Are you to be one of the saved?" This means that each one should settle the question of his personal salvation; that there is no other question comparable to it in urgency and importance. There is nothing superior in obligation. If we are not now saved we might combine all the other matters which excite public interest, from one end of this earth to the other, and the combination means less to us personally than this: "Are we to be of the saved?"
2. Following that thought comes this reflection: In the matter of personal salvation, whatever many scriptures seem to teach, there must be earnest exertion upon our part. No man believes more than I do the doctrine of predestination, the doctrine of the elect, the doctrine of the absolute sovereignty of God in salvation, the doctrine that salvation from its inception to its consummation is of God, the doctrine of the necessity of the work of the Holy Spirit at the very beginning and throughout the entire course of the Christian life. All of these I believe, without a shadow of reservation. And yet the Bible teaches that man must not sit still; that he occupies no waiting attitude; that he is not to remain in a morally passive state, and if I knew that I had to stand before the judgment bar tomorrow and answer for the orthodoxy, the soundness of the statement 'I now make, I would lift up my voice confidently and say that this lesson shows that in the matter of salvation there must be the most attentive, the most earnest, the most vigorous and the most persistent exertion upon our part. On what word do I found this? I found it on this word "strive." It is our Lord, not I, who turns the questioner from a question of curiosity first to his own case and then to the responsibility of exertion. The Greek word is agonizes. The Milton has a poem, "Samson Agonistes," that is, "Samson the Wrestler." This very good word is employed in the Greek to indicate, not only the kind of preparation and training one must make to be able to wrestle on the arena with a competitor, but the degree and persistence of intense exertion that he actually puts forth in that conflict. He prepares himself for the contest by a regimen of diet. He does not eat the things that enervate. He does not give himself up to dissipation, but by temperance, by self-denial, by practice, by continual exertion, he drills and trains his muscles the muscles of his fingers, of his hands, of his legs, of his back, of his whole body, and when after the most diligent training the hour comes for the wrestling, then see the exertion that he puts forth! What can equal it? Every muscle is on tension and it is not relaxed for one moment. It is persistent. Some of the most expressive works of art in painting and sculpture exhibit the bulging outlines of the muscles of the athlete. And yet that is the word which our Saviour uses by which to express personal exertion in the matter of salvation. And it is the precise thought that the apostle Paul brings out in his letter to the Hebrews under the image of the race course. In view of the fact that they are surrounded by so great a crowd of witnesses, the competitors are commanded to lay aside every weight and every besetting sin, and to run, and to run with patience the race which is set before them. Evidently our Lord did not employ such terms to express a passive state of mind on the question of personal salvation. Not only this term "strive," but others of like import are employed: "Seek ye first the kingdom of heaven." He calls upon us to direct our attention, to call forth all our powers, to concentrate our minds, and to lay hold and to hold on, and to press to its settlement the question of our personal salvation in the sight of God.
3. The third thought is that not all who strive will be saved: "I say unto you, Strive to enter in at the strait gate, for many shall seek to enter in and shall not be able." Here it is of infinite moment to know certainly the ground of this disability. By paraphrase and punctuation we may easily learn. Note this reading. "Do you strive now to enter in at the strait gate, for many shall seek to enter therein later and shall not be able when once the Master of the house is risen up and the door is shut." The thought then is this: That there comes in a limitation as to time; that there is a time to seek and a time when not to seek; that there is a time when seeking has the promise and hope of accomplishment, and there is a time when if one were to put forth all the exertion in the world it would make no difference at all. That certainly is the thought of our Saviour here. It is the keynote of this very lesson. It is Isaiah's emphasis: "Seek ye the Lord while he may be found; call ye upon him while he is near." It is Matthew's emphasis: "Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy by thy name, and by thy name cast out devils, and by thy name do many mighty works, and then will I profess unto them, I never knew you; depart from me, ye that work iniquity." It is the regnant thought in the parable of the ten virgins. Those five foolish virgins tried to get in, tried hard to get in, and knocked and said, "Lord, Lord, open to us." Then let it be fixed in our minds in what the inability consists. These that did strive and failed, in what did the inability consist? So far as the teaching of this lesson is concerned the inability consisted in striving after it was too late to strive, when no good could be accomplished by it, when the door was shut, when the opportunity was gone. Then they wake up; they are aroused, and with eyes wide open take in at one appalling sight, the eternal importance of the question, feeling that outside is darkness and death and banishment, and that inside is light and life and glory. Realizing at last the great importance of personal salvation they do then seek him, they do try, they do strive, they do knock and pray, but in vain. "Too late; too late; you cannot enter now."
4. Keeping strictly to the lesson, which only presents certain views of this question, and not the fulness of it, I call attention to another feature of our Lord's answer: Enter the strait gate. If one would enter he must try at the right place. Of what avail is it to be concerned about eternity, and what shall it profit if one exert himself from early youth to bended old age, and how much will it count in the solution of the question, that he shall sacrifice any amount of property, if he tries to get in where there is no opening? This part of the subject is brought out very prominently in all the scriptures. People who vainly busy themselves to establish a righteousness by which to enter heaven, they may show a zeal toward God, but it avails nothing if not according to knowledge. They seek to build a tower so high that from its summit they can put their fingers in the crevices of the skies and pull themselves up into the realms of glory. They seek to construct a ladder so long that when its base rests on the earth its summit will touch the skies, and up that ladder, step by step and rung by rung, they fain would climb to glory and to God. But they are never able. Though they rise early, commencing betimes, though they persist in struggling, their ladder is ever too short; their tower does not reach the skies. Their righteousness is spotted, and cannot bear the test, and at that day when they take their seat at the marriage supper of the Lamb, the finger of the bridegroom rests on the guilty shoulder: "Friend, what doest thou here without the wedding garment?"
I mean to say that no matter how much one does, how much he exerts himself, what sacrifices he makes, that if he ever tries to enter heaven except by the strait gate he will never enter. Never!
How important then to settle the question, "What is meant by the gate?" A gate or door is a means of entrance. What is the door? See the walls of heaven rise up in their impenetrable solidity, and I wish to enter in. What is the door? Where will I find an open place through which I may enter in? Following the language of the figure, this is the answer: Our Saviour says, "I am the door." Whoever seeks to enter heaven, and not through Christ, and not through the atonement of Christ, not through the vicarious expiation of Christ, that man is lost.
5. Let us next inquire what is meant by the door being shut. If Christ is the door what is meant by the inability of people to enter heaven even by Christ? That also we may easily understand. God gives to us here upon earth an opportunity; that opportunity he measures himself. We cannot measure it for ourselves. God measures it out himself. How much there is of it to any particular person only he knows. He may to one school girl give a measure of three weeks. He may to a wicked man give a measure of sixty years, I don't know. It is wholly, absolutely, with him. Herein is divine sovereignty. This much we do know: There is a time in which Christ may be found, and there is a time in which he cannot be found. Because of that I say, "Exert yourselves, seek ye the Lord while he may be found. Call ye upon him while he is near." The passages which I have cited show that these people were trying to enter through Christ, but Christ had then withdrawn. Now then plainly, how is the way of life through Christ limited to men? One thing shuts the door, we know, and shuts it forever. If death finds us out of Christ there never will be another opportunity to us. We know that as the tree falls so it lies. One who dies unjust is raised unjust, and all the proceedings of the final judgment are predicated, not on what we do after death, but on what we do in this life. We know that the door is shut then. Our Saviour tells us of a case where it is shut before that time. He says that if one should blaspheme against the Holy Spirit he has committed an eternal sin which hath never forgiveness, neither in this life nor in the life to come, which means that while people are yet alive, before the dissolution of the soul and body they may have that door shut, and that shutting is eternal, and though they may live ever so long after that time, the door is shut and forever shut against them. Rising up early, sitting up late, knocking by day and by night, weeping as Esau wept, they then find no place for repentance. God says about Jezebel, "I gave her space to repent and she repented not." Jesus said to Jerusalem: "And when he was come near, he beheld the city, and wept over it, saying, If thou hadst known, even thou, at least 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 about 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."
6. There are many that be saved. "Are there few that be saved?" He seems now to answer that question. So far, he has not answered it. He has desired to awaken attention to a more important question. But now, in the last of his words he does give an answer to this question. As if he said, "You ask me if there are few that be saved; I say, Look yonder toward the north, you see them coming; you see many coming. Look south, you see them coming; you see many coming. Look east, look west, look at every point of the compass, and behold them coming as the birds gathered in clouds to the ark. What mighty multitudes are these? And they are coming and entering into the kingdom of God, and they are sitting down with Abraham and Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of God, the multitude, the uncounted and uncountable multitude."
7. Heaven's joy is its company and feast. What image of heaven is here presented? There are two elements of blessedness set forth, so far as this lesson goes. First, the company of heaven, as represented by the words, "Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob." Second, the feast of heaven. There is one long Greek word which is translated by "sit down." It means this: "Recline at the table." They shall recline at the table with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. So that there is presented to us heaven, as to its company and its banquet. Elsewhere he tells us of a great supper in which many are invited, and over and over again is heaven presented in that way. In the parable of the rich man and Lazarus that is the ruling thought. The rich man here on earth fared sumptuously every day. He had his feast here. Lazarus hungered here. Lazarus died and immediately he was carried up and made to recline at the table with Abraham, for the phrase "in Abraham's bosom," means that in reclining at the table he would be next to Abraham, so that in the posture of eating, his head would touch the bosom of Abraham, as John at the Last Supper reclined on the Lord's bosom. There is the feast of life. The hunger and starvation on the opposite side are presented in the case of the rich man. "Remember that in yonder world you had your feast, your good things. Now you are tormented. In yonder world Lazarus had his evil things, his starvation; now he is filled."
Heaven I say, in this lesson, is represented in the two features: its company and a feast, and in that company the light shining on them, the music delighting them and the converse of the good and great and wise and pure and true and noble; we may eat and drink to our fill of things which the soul has been hungering for so long, the bread of life the water of life. It cannot but be an attraction that a certain place, no matter how difficult of access, has in it the good people of the world, the women that as daughters were true, as wives were true, as mothers were true, as children of God were true, and who lived not for fashion, not for time, but for eternity. Oh, what a grand thing it will be to see that company of women, and the men that have been self-denying, that have not said, "I live for myself, I satisfy my hunger, I foster my pride, I pander to my tastes, I yield to the cravings of my passions"; not them, but the men who have endeavored to do good, to love God, to brighten the world, all of them gathered together in one grand company. O how sweet in the next world to have that association I No evil men or women among them. No man or woman of slimy thought; no man or woman of vile affections. No man or woman but whose soul has been sanctified by the Spirit of God and made spotless and holy. That is a goodly company to join. And then their feast! When the Queen of Sheba, coming from the uttermost parts of the earth, saw Solomon's house that he had built, and the sitting of his servants, their apparel, and. the feasts that he had spread for them, she fainted away. There was no more breath in her. She said that the half was never told. But O the servants of God, and the sheen of their apparel, and their banquet, and the richness of it, if we could. see it we would fall breathless before the ravishing prospect of the things that God has in reservation for them that come to him.
8. Sorrow and despair. We now come to the last thought. of the lesson. When we see people coming from the north and the south and the east and the west and reclining at the table with Abraham and Isaac and Jacob, there will also be weeping and gnashing of teeth. Here are two thoughts: First, that the blessedness of the saved will be within the vision of the lost. That is certainly taught in the parable of the rich man and Lazarus. The rich man was not only penetrated with a sense of his own awful loss and agony; but when he lifted up his eyes he saw Lazarus afar off in Abraham's bosom: "That miserable beggar, in yonder world, I did not count him as the dust of my feet; he had no name on the exchange, he could not even pay for his supper. Oh, to look across the wide and deep and impassable gulf, and to see Lazarus in Abraham's bosom I Does not that double my hell?" This brings home an awful thought. What is it? The most painful thing in this world to an evil soul, is the anguish of seeing other people happy I The evil people in this world are tormented by that sight now. Mark how a man with an envious, jealous disposition will cast his eye sideways at the prosperity of his neighbor! See how it did fill the devil with malice when Job prospered! The righteous have not that feeling, but I say that the unregenerate heart has it, and one of their enduring pangs of anguish will be to look upon the class of people that they now despise, that they call fools, and to see those fools in heaven and glorified, and they, the wise ones of earth, in the depths of dark and endless damnation. How unspeakable the scorn now extended to the simple-minded followers of Jesus Christ! How the eye is haughtily elevated above them! But when youω0 proud man, O scorner, O intellectual giant, drawing about yourself the mantle of your exclusiveness when you see the poor despised people enter heaven, enter light and glory, there will come to you these awful pangs: Weeping and gnashing of teeth. You are cast out! You, that had been a governor, you that had been a senator, you that had been a Congressman, you a banker, you a great man in time; you are cast out into outer darkness, and that one that you despised is in heaven! The weeping expresses grief, the gnashing of teeth expresses both the impotence of ungratified malice, and also of despair. A wolf that has sprung at the throat of a lamb and missed his aim, gazing at his victim, now beyond his reach, will gnash his teeth. That is the impotence of malice, malice unable to reach and glut its vengeance. Then when one has striven and has failed, and sees the sand slipping from under his feet, and the opportunities of recovery gone forever, he gnashes his teeth in despair. Unglutted malice, impotence, and despair that shall be the pang of the lost.
In that hour come certain Pharisees to him, warning him that Herod would kill him. But he told them to tell that fox that he must finish his course before any one could kill him; that Herod was not to be feared because Jerusalem was the place where the prophets perished. Then he pronounced the doom and desolation of Jerusalem and that they should not see him again until they should be prepared to serve him, when all the Jews as a nation should be converted. Then they will say, "Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord."
The incident of dining with a Pharisee (Luke 14:1-24) and the lessons growing out of it were very instructive and valuable. The healing of the man with the dropsy and his defense is the first item of interest. The Pharisees were watching him and seeking an occasion to accuse him, but Jesus here anticipated their accusation by raising the question of the lawfulness of healing on the sabbath day, and seeing that he had thus anticipated their objection they held their peace. Then Jesus took the man, healed him, and defended the act by an appeal to their own custom of helping lower animals on the sabbath day. From the occasion comes also the parable of the seats of honor, which shows that the host should designate the relative places of the invited guests and not the guests themselves; or, in a word, this parable teaches that there is no place of conceit in the kingdom of God; that the subjects of the kingdom should be humble and await the call of the Master to promotion. Then follows a second parable growing out of the same occasion, to the end that acts of benevolence should be toward those who are needy, and that those who do them should look to the Lord for the reward which will be bestowed at the resurrection of the just. The third parable growing out of this occasion is the parable of the great supper. This parable shows the vain excuses for not accepting Christ and is one of our Lord's master strokes at the Jews. They are the ones who were bidden first, but their vain excuses provoked the Lord to denounce them and to send out after the poor and needy, and then again to go into the highways and hedges, everywhere and for everybody, that the Lord's house should be filled. But the Jews who had the first chance at the gospel were rejected because they rejected him.
In section 92 of the Harmony (Luke 14:25-35) we have an impressive lesson on the cost of discipleship. The renouncing of everything which is most dear to the individual and cross-bearing are the essentials to being a disciple of our Lord. He does not mean here that one must literally hate his earthly relations, but that no earthly, or human relation can come between the disciple and his Lord. It is a figure of speech by which one extreme is counteracted by another. Then in view of such cost of discipleship our Lord gives two parables showing that one should consider well the step when he would enter upon discipleship to him. This section closes with another stroke at the Jews. They had been the salt of the earth, but now, since they had lost their savor, they were fit only for the refuse heaps of the world.
1. What is the relation between the parable of the barren fig tree and the preceding teaching on the necessity of repentance?
2. Explain the meaning of this parable and show its connection with the incident of cursing the barren fig tree and the destruction of Jerusalem.
3. Give an account of the healing in the synagogue (Luke 13:10-17) and the controversy growing out of it.
4. What is the meaning of the two parables, the mustard seed and the leaven?
5. Give an account of Jesus' controversy with the Jews in Solomon's porch.
6. What great and consoling doctrine here is taught by Christ and how is it here set forth?
7. What important question raised in Luke 13:22-35 and why is it important?
8. What can you say of the general interest in this question and the causes for it?
9. In what spirit should we approach the solution of such problems, and with what assurance may we come to them in such a spirit?
10. In what particular does this passage remind us of the Sermon on the Mount?
11. What is the first lesson from this comparison with the Sermon on the Mount, and what is the variant setting of conditions and circumstances?
12. To whom does the "few" of Matthew 7:14 refer and what is the proof?
13. Where do we find and what a true parallel to Luke 13:29?
14. What was the testimony of the prophets on this question, how may we express the whole matter, and what was the testimony of Revelation 7:2-17; 21-22?
15. Contrast a Jewish opinion just before Christ was born and a Christian opinion of the present time on this point.
16. When, perhaps, will most of the elect be saved, and what are the conditions then conducive to their salvation?
17. What prompted the questioner here to ask this question and what is the evidence?
18. What is the implied rebuke of the Saviour here? Discuss.
19. What is here taught as to personal exertion in one's salvation? Discuss,
20. Will all who strive to enter be able to do so? Why? Discuss and illustrate.
21. What other limitation here and what is the door?
22. What is meant by the door being shut? Discuss.
23. Then what is our Lord's answer to the question?
24. What image of heaven is here presented? Illustrate.
25. What can you say of the attractions of heaven here pictured?
28. What is the contrast with this condition of the saved as represented in the lost, and what will then constitute the horrors of the lost? Illustrate.
27. What warning came to Jesus just here from certain of the Pharisees, what his reply and why?
28. What sentence did he here pronounce and what great prophecy did he give in this connection?
29. What issue arose when Jesus dined with the Pharisee (Luke 14:1-24), how did Jesus anticipate their objection and how did he defend the act afterward?
30. What is the parable of the seats of honor, and what does it illustrate?
31. What is the second parable growing out of this occasion and what its lesson?
32. What is the parable of the great supper and what in detail does it illustrate?
33. What is our Lord's teaching on discipleship and what is the meaning of his language in this instance?
34. How does our Lord illustrate the caution one should have when he enters upon discipleship to him?
35. What is the meaning and application of Christ's illustration of the salt here?
FIVE PARABLES: THE LOST SHEEP; THE LOST COIN; THE LOST BOY; THE UNJUST STEWARD; DIVES AND LAZARUS
Harmony, pages 123-125 and Luke 15:1 to 17:10.
We are now in the section treating generally of the closing ministry of our Lord in all parts of the Holy Land, but particularly of his Perean ministry. We have already (in The Four Gospels, Volume I of this INTERPRETATION) learned what is a parable, etymologically and by usage; we have stated clearly the distinctions in the meaning between the word "parable" and such other words as proverb, allegory, illustration, fable, myth, and legend; we have given the principles of interpreting parables, particularly noting the discrimination between what is important and what is the mere drapery of the illustration, and we have noted the wisdom of our Lord in grouping parables so that the many sides of a great truth or of a complex subject may be shown.
It has been my custom, hitherto, particularly when considering our Lord as the great Teacher, to lay special stress on his method of teaching by parables. And to this end I have prepared a large chart showing, in the order of their occurrence and in the setting of their occasion, all of his parables, citing for each the page of the Harmony, the chapter and verse, and the leading thought, or principal lesson. Every Bible student, every Sunday school teacher should have such a chart. (For this chart see The Four Gospels, Volume I of this INTERPRETATION.)
Since there has been so much injudicious and even wild interpretation of the parables, I warn the reader against certain books purporting to expound them, and especially commend certain other books which treat generally of the whole subject in a masterly way and expound each particular parable on sane and profitable lines. And even now I delay the present discussion long enough to urge the reader to put into his library and to master by close study, the books of both Taylor and Trench on the parables. I do not endorse every particular statement, or detail, in either of the books, but on the whole I can commend them most heartily. To those who are more advanced in scholarship and general information, I commend in the same general way Edersheim's discussion of the parables in his really great work The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah. What a pity that many young preachers, following the promptings of an unripe judgment, waste their scanty means for purchasing good books, and fill up their few shelves with not only profitless, but poisonous literature. But now to our subject.
It would not be difficult to show some connection between these parables and the others closely following in Luke's Gospel, but it is more important just now to note the close connection between the two last parables of this group and the three parables immediately preceding, namely, the lost sheep, or one of a hundred; the lost coin, or one of ten; the lost boy, or one of two.
There five parables arise from one occasion, to wit, the censure of the Pharisees on our Lord's receiving sinners, and make an incomparable group, surpassing in value all of the uninspired wisdom of the ancients and the philosophies of all heathen sages since the world began.
The first exhibits the attitude of mind toward sinners and his special work in their behalf, of God the Son, who, like a good shepherd, seeks and saves the lost. The second illustrates the part of God the Holy Spirit in the same salvation as a shining light which discovers the lost coin. The third discloses the heart of God, the Father, in receiving the penitent prodigal. The third also exhibits, in an inimitable way, the experience of the sinner himself in passing from death unto life, and all three vividly exhibit heaven's joy at the salvation of the lost, in sharp contrast with earth's scorn and censure. (For detailed explanation of the parable of the prodigal son see author's sermon in Evangelistic Sermons.)
It is the purpose of the fourth, that is, the unjust steward, to teach a forward lesson to these saved publicans, viz., as God the 'Son had come down from heaven to seek out and save them; as God the Spirit had shined into their hearts the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of his Son; as God the Father had embraced them coming in their penitence, and, as all the bells of heaven ring out their welcome, so, after salvation, they should offer their service and, the particular lesson is that the wisdom which prompted them as publicans to make provision for the future in time must now be applied to making provision for the future in eternity, else the "children of this world in their generation will be wiser than the children of light in their generation."
The reader must not fail to note the mixed audience listening to these parables. The lesson of the unjust steward is indeed addressed primarily to his disciples, that is, mainly to the recently disciplined publicans, but yet in the hearing of the Pharisees, while the warning lesson of Dives and Lazarus. is addressed primarily to the Pharisees, but yet in the hearing of the others. It is important to note that both parables have one theme, namely: "How the use or misuse of money in this world affects our status in the world to come, whether in heaven or hell." But we must bear in mind that, while the parables in chapter 16 discuss-service and rewards, we must carefully hedge against the idea of any power in money to purchase heaven or evade hell. I repeat that the three preceding parables in chapter 15 teach us the way of salvation; the parable of the unjust steward, on the other hand, is addressed to saved men to show how their lives as Christians may yet affect their status in heaven. It is a matter of rewards, not salvation. Just so, the parable of Dives and Lazarus does not teach that the rich man was lost because of the wrong use of money, but that being already lost, his misuse of money in time aggravates his status in hell. Apart from salvation and damnation is the question of awards when saved or of aggravated suffering when lost. And as both parables have one theme, so one moral links them together indissolubly. That moral is, "And I say unto you, make to yourselves friends by means of the mammon of unrighteousness; that, when it shall fail, they [the friends made by it] may receive you into the eternal tabernacles."
In the case of both parables the leading thought is that a reasonable mind should provide for the future, and that the use or abuse of what we have in time, whether opportunities, or talents, or money, does in some way affect our status in eternity. Other important things may be taught incidentally; and in the parable of Dives and Lazarus, particularly, other quite important things are certainly so taught but sound principles of interpretation require that first of all there should be due stress on the main point. With these premises in mind we now consider
THE PARABLE OF THE UNJUST STEWARD
As has been said, it is addressed primarily to "his disciples," that is, particularly to the publicans recently discipled; that its purpose is to show that after their salvation comes service, with its appointed rewards in glory; that since the publicans, before their conversion, had endeavored to provide for their future on earth, so now as disciples they must with the same foresight, only better directed, provide for an eternal future; that for only a little while on earth they are blessed with opportunities and means of usefulness, and that these are held in trust. How then shall they be transmuted into eternal exchange? This grave question is answered by this illustrative parable. The substance of the story is this: A rich lord, on learning that his steward was wasting the substance entrusted to him, notifies him that he may no longer be steward, and orders him to give an account of his stewardship. This dishonest servant had no illusions, attempted no self-deceptions, but in a candid, practical way, looked the facts and the logic of the situation squarely in the face. He knew that his own books would confirm the accusation against him; that his office was inevitably lost; that there was no defense possible; and that there was no hope of future employment from his lord. He must, therefore, rely wholly on himself. He saw clearly and rejected both of the ordinary alternatives, hard manual labor or beggary. He felt himself unable to dig and was ashamed to beg. What remained then? In some way he must provide for his future. He was as quick to decide what to do as he was clear in his apprehension of the facts. Being only a child of this world, no moral scruples hampered his decision. Moreover, as the time was short he must be as prompt in action as in decision. Having yet the power of attorney that accompanies stewardship, his disposition of his employer's interests would be legal. That point he must safeguard. So he proceeded at once to make friends in another direction by further misuse of his employer's means, according to the saying, "In for a penny, in for a pound," or "One may as well hang for a sheep as for a lamb." Rapidly and separately he approached his lord's debtors and by sharp reduction of the amount due in each case he succeeded in securing the good will and gratitude of each debtor. By that creative faculty, the imagination, he could vividly see each relieved debtor going home, and hear him tell the delighted family all about the kind offers of the friendly steward who sympathized with labor against capital; with the oppressed tenant against the bloated landlord. He argued: "Now, when I am cast out of this office these grateful debtors will receive me into their homes with welcome and hospitality, and so I shall be provided for the rest of my days with shelter and food without the necessity of digging or begging." It is also true that he could hold in terror over these tenants the fact that they had knowingly conspired with him to defraud the landlord, but there is no hint in the parable that he relied upon exciting fear in the tenants, but friendship only. When his lord (not our Lord) heard of this new exploit of rascality, he could not but admire the sagacity and shrewdness with which the cornered steward had escaped from his dilemma and caught upon his feet with catlike dexterity. We must not for a moment suppose that in relating this story our Lord approves either the rascality of the steward or shares the employer's commendation of his shrewdness. He is merely showing how children of this world, without thought of heaven or hell, do from their worldly viewpoint, make shrewd provision for the future in this life and how they apply a shrewdness that wins by any means without technically breaking any human law. He is showing how with practical business sense they are clear in their apprehensions of the facts of a case, quick to decide on a course, prompt to act on their decision, and ready to use all available means to attain their object.
The application is that "the children of light" from a higher viewpoint of the future, extending into an eternity of heaven and with higher moral standards, should so wisely use their fleeting wealth as to make it a friend, not an enemy; to make friends by it, who passing ahead into eternal habitations await to greet and welcome them when they arrive.
There is a difference between a mere entrance and an abundant entrance. Two ships sail from one harbor and are bound for the same port. Much depends upon skillful seamanship and the prompt use of all available means. Both reach the port of destination. One of them by bad seamanship arrives at last, a battered hulk, masts broken, shrouds riven, cargo damaged, and is towed by a tug into safe anchorage. It is much to get there at all. But the other arrives with every mast standing, every sail filed, freighted to the water's edge with precious cargo, and flags flying. How joyous her welcome! Friends crowd the wharf to greet her coming. Salvos of artillery salute her. So, while salvation is one definite thing for all, the heavenly status of the saved is not one uniform, fixed quantity. In my Nashville, Tennessee address on the death of Spurgeon I gave an illustration of the meaning of the scripture, "Make to yourselves friends by means of the mammon of unrighteousness; that, when it shall fail, they may receive you into the everlasting tabernacles." Spurgeon was saved by grace, not money; but he made wise use of his money in building orphanages, almshouses for widows, and his pastoral college. Orphans, widows, preachers were not only beneficiaries of his bounty, but many of them had been led to Christ by him, and others comforted and strengthened by his ministrations. Many of these died before he died, and waiting up there, welcomed him when the Master called him home.
The parable of Dives and Lazarus shows another side of the same picture. It is addressed to the scornful Pharisees who were lovers of money and callous to human suffering, who lived with reference to this world and not at all with reference to the world to come. Keeping in mind first the main thought, that the misuse, or ill use, of money on earth will affect the final status in eternity, we may by a diagram make visible this leading thought, as the words make it audible (diagram on next page). From the upper left hand corner (marked A) is a line to the lower right hand corner (marked C). So from the lower left hand corner (marked B) is a line to the upper right hand corner (marked D). Then two perpendicular lines in the center, inclosing the crossing point of the diagonal lines. The perpendicular space is death; all to the left in this world; all to the right, the eternal world. In this world Dives has the upper place at A, faring sumptuously every day, while Lazarus has the lower place at B) starving with hunger for even the crumbs that fell from the rich man's table. In the other world the position of the two is reversed: Lazarus has the upper place (marked D) reclining at the heavenly banquet with Abraham, while the rich man has the lower place (marked C) starving with hunger and burning with thirst. It will be observed that death does not break the continuity of being in either case, nor interrupt the exercise of the senses of the disembodied soul. Both are alive, conscious, sensible (the one to enjoyment, the other to pain), seeing, speaking, hearing, feeling, remembering. It will further be observed that there is no midway stopping place for either after death, but both pass at once to a final place and state; to the one, a place and state of happiness; to the other, a place and state of wretchedness. It will be noted that in this world Lazarus may pass to the rich man and the rich man to Lazarus; not so after death; neither can pass to the other. Here wealth may help poverty and poverty may serve wealth. The rich man may send crumbs to hungry Lazarus. Yonder the opportunity is dead; Lazarus may not bring water to thirsty Dives. It will be more particularly observed that neither Dives nor Lazarus may return to this world for any service to the living; that opportunity is dead. The rich man, conscious that hell's restrictions prevent his own return, pleads that one from heaven may return and bear a message for him. But the one from heaven is not permitted to return. Each has gone to a bourne from which no traveler, except One, has ever returned. If, therefore, we desire to make friends with our money or our service, we must do it in this world or never. If we desire to keep the lost from hell and lead them to salvation we must do it while we are living in the body and they are living in the body. If they die first, from earth we cannot help them by prayer, money, or service. If we die first, we cannot return to help them from either heaven or hell. In either case, so far as we are concerned, "their redemption must be let alone forever."
The main thought is that while Dives and Lazarus were both living the rich man had an opportunity by means of the wealth entrusted to his stewardship to make a friend of Lazarus. But failing to use the means, when, at death his wealth failed, he, in his eternal habitation of woe could not have the friendly service of Lazarus. The parable implies that Lazarus was a Christian and the rich man an unconverted Jew, relying upon fleshly descent from Abraham. It does not teach that Lazarus went to heaven because he was poor in this world, but because in this world he prized future good above present good. Nor that Dives went to hell because he was rich in this world, but that he prized present good above future good. This is implied in the words of Abraham: "Son. remember that thou in thy lifetime receivedst thy good things, and Lazarus in like manner evil things: but now here he is comforted, and thou art in anguish." Each man made deliberate choice. The rich man, according to the saying, "A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush," preferred his good in time and despised eternity; the poor man elected eternal good instead of temporal good, and each reaped according to his sowing.
But let us consider more particularly the details of the story. Lazarus was laid at the rich man's gate. This fact stops Dives from pleading ignorance of the special case. The opportunity to do good with his wealth was brought home to him who would not seek it. The destitution was real and great. The poverty, hunger, rags, and sores advertised themselves and all pleaded for help, though Lazarus, in the parable, utters no word. It is related that a traveler in Ireland coming upon a diseased, emaciated wretch, ill-clad in dirty rags, silently standing by the wayside, said, "Why are you dumb? Why don't you ask for help?" "Can my mouth," replied the miserable one, "speak louder than my rags and sores and skeleton bones?" Dives was abundantly able to help without impoverishing himself, as even crumbs falling from his table were desired. But he so fully trusted in his wealth he could not conceive that he ever might, himself, be in want. He had no realization that death would strip him of all he possessed and send him bankrupt into eternity. He could not conceive that he ever would be in a situation to desire the help of Lazarus. We can almost hear him saying, "What impertinent busy-body thrust this disgusting nuisance upon my attention? Let every man take care of himself. When I put money out it is to make more money. It is absurd to think that I should ever need, in return, anything that this diseased and helpless beggar could do. I do not care for his friendship or good will. And so let him die the sooner the better." And the beggar died; the rich man never expected to see or hear of him again. He could not see the angels bearing the disembodied soul to heaven. He could not see heaven's banquet table awaiting the starved pauper. He could not see his place of honor, resting his head on Abraham's bosom as he reclined at the table, even as the head of the beloved John rested on the bosom of his Lord at the Last Supper. "The rich man also died," and, what a revelation! All his wealth gone! Gone all his purple and fine linen, all his obsequious servants! And, oh, this burning thirst, this eternal hunger! With uplifting eyes seeking help he sees the sore-smitten, rag-covered, starving Lazarus of earth, now healed, now in shining apparel whose sheen out-glistens all his fine linen in time, now feasting at a banquet whose viands far surpass his own sumptuous, everyday fare on earth, now resting his head on the heart of glorified Abraham.
What a revelation! What a reversal of earth's conditions! What an overthrow of his time confidence that he was a true child of Abraham! But shall he not still think to himself that Abraham is his father? Is he not a Jew and shall not a Jew claim relationship with the father of the Jews? In his torment may he not appeal to his father?
Mark where he prays. In hell.
Mark to whom he prays. To one of the heavenly saints, Abraham.
Mark for what he prays. One drop of water.
Mark for whose service he prays. "Send Lazarus."
Mark how small a part of Lazarus. "The tip of his finger."
These questions thunder:
May prayers in hell avail?
May prayers to saints avail?
Can the thirst of hell be quenched?
May the saved in heaven minister to the lost in hell?
"Son" The fleshly relation acknowledged.
"Remember" So memory survives death.
Remember what? The supreme choice of time. "In yonder world you preferred your good things and Lazarus had his evil things."
The appeal to reason: "Now here he is comforted and thou there art in anguish." So reason survives death. So time fruits in eternity. So is the law of cause and effect inexorable: "What a man sows that shall he also reap."
The answer reveals another law, viz.: One may not invoke the service of friendship where no friend was made. The rich man, wretched in eternity, had no title to the services of Lazarus, whose wretchedness he had ignored in time.
The answer reveals a far greater law: Between the saved in heaven and the lost in hell yawns a fixed and impassable gulf. No saint in heaven may pass to hell on a mission of mercy. No lost soul may after death enter heaven.
HE PRAYS AGAIN
Mark what he accepts that his own case is without remedy. "I pray thee therefore Father" i.e., since no help can come to me.
Mark what he remembers: "I have five brothers in yonder world," not yet forever lost.
Mark what he implies: It is as if he said, "I am now at last concerned for their future. I am now troubled at the thought of my influence over them. They looked to me as the head of the family. They imbibed my spirit. They endorsed my business maxims. They are following in my footsteps. I hear them coming! They are under my delusions. They are nearing the boundary line of death. I am in great anguish already, but if they come here my anguish will be greater, my hell enlarged. Then, must I eternally remember that my influence dragged them here. Oh, my brothers! My brothers! I cannot myself return to warn them. Hell's restrictions forbid. I am in prison, in everlasting chains."
Mark what he prays for: "Send Lazarus to my father's house." Ah! He needs again the friendship and service of Lazarus. Send him for what? "That he may testify unto them; lest they also come into this place of torment." Let us suppose that the testimony was permitted. He comes to the house he so well remembers, the house whose portals were shut against him in time when he was in need. He obtains an audience. "I am Lazarus, who died unpitied and unhelped at your gate. From that very gate angels carried my soul to recline at the banquet with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven, while you were carting off my body and rattling my bones in a pauper's grave. In that glorious place and company we heard a voice from hell, the voice of your brother in torment. That voice said, 'Send Lazarus to my father's house to testify to the reality, certainty, and eternity of the heaven and hell in which they do not believe, and to tell my brothers not to come to this place of torment.' So here I am, risen from the dead, with testimony and message from the eternal world. I testify that I saw your brother lost forever, and bring you his very words." But be was not permitted.
The answer: "They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them." That is, they have light enough. God's written inspired Word is sufficient. Or, as teaches Paul: Every one of these holy writings is God-inspired and is profitable for teaching what one should believe or do, and for convicting one of any error in belief or deed, and for correcting the error of belief or deed, and for training one into right belief or deed that one should be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work. What more light is needed?
THE DESPERATE PERSISTENCE of A LOST SOUL
"Nay, father Abraham: but if one go to them from the dead, they will repent." Ah! The incorrigible blindness and delusions of the lost! They keep on affirming that they need more light, when what they need is an eye to see the light and a heart to walk in the light. If our God's light be hid, it is hid to them whom the god of this world has blinded. Their condemnation is, that light has come into the world, but they love darkness rather than light because their deeds are evil. All whose deeds are evil hate the light and shun it.
The final answer: "If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded, if one rise from the dead." This very Moses suffered not a wizard, witch, necromancer, or soothsayer to live, because they taught the people that messages from the dead could be obtained throwing more light on the other world than shines in God's revelation. Isaiah, the most evangelical of the prophets taught: "And when they shall say unto you, Seek unto them that have familiar spirits and unto the wizards, that chirp and that mutter: should not a people seek unto their God? On behalf of the living should they seek unto the dead? To the law and to the testimony; if they speak not according to this word, surely there is no morning for them" (Isa. 8:19-20).
Now let us impress our minds with a brief restatement of some of its great doctrines, expressed or implied:
1. At death probation ends, character crystallizes, the constant tendency to fixedness of type reaches its consummation. This is evident because in all the Scriptures there is no hint that any man is brought into judgment for speech, thought, or conduct after death. The final judgment is only on "deeds done in the body." But if there were probation after death there must needs be judgment for deeds done out of the body. As the tree falls, so it lies. He that dies just remains just, and he that dies unjust is raised unjust.
2. There is no half-way stopping place between death and the final place of happiness or woe. The banquet feast at which Lazarus reclined, leaning his head on Abraham's bosom, is in "the kingdom of heaven."
The tormenting flame into which the rich man was cast was the real and only hell for the soul. The body after the resurrection will go to the same place. It is true that the word in this parable is Hades, not Gehenna. But Hades means only the invisible world where disembodied spirits go, whether good or bad. The idea of hell is not in the word Hades, but in the torment and flame into which the rich man enters, its irretrievable nature and its eternal fixedness. There is no purgatory from which souls may ascend after purification unto heaven, or becoming confirmed in wickedness, pass on to hell. Therefore, all prayers for the dead are without scriptural warrant. Lazarus and Dives each passed at once without a pause to his final home.
3. No saint or sinner after death can return to earth in behalf of or against the living. Going from this world to the next, death is passable; returning from the other world, it is impassable.
All attempts through mediums, necromancers, wizards, and witches or spirit-rapping is expressly contrary to God's law and does despite to the sufficiency of God's revelation.
4. We should not pray to the saints, but unto God only. Jesus Christ is the one Mediator between God and man, and we need no human mediator between ourselves and Jesus. He is more approachable, more willing to hear than Mary or Peter or Paul. They are but sinners themselves saved by grace.
The stupendous system of Mariolatry is one of the most blasphemous heresies ever propagated by priestcraft. The only prayer to a saint in heaven recorded in the Bible is the prayer of Dives in hell to Abraham, and every request was denied.
5. We should stand upon the impregnable rock of the Holy Scriptures as the sufficient means of light in defining creed and deed.
6. Between the saved and lost, from death to eternity, there is a fixed and impassable gulf. On earth the saved may go to the lost in order to seek their salvation or the lost may hopefully appeal to the saved for help, but after death no saved man can pass over to the lost in any kind of helpful ministration, not even to carry on the tip of one finger a single drop of water to cool the tongue.
The parable, as a whole, and in all its parts, stresses the thought: Now, not hereafter, is the day of salvation.
1. Where are we in the discussion of the life of our Lord, generally and particularly?
2. What instruction on parables precedes the discussion at this point?
3. What books commended on the parables?
4. What parables constitute the group which are discussed in this chapter, what was their occasion, and what is the direct connection of the two last with the preceding ones of the group?
5. What is the purpose of the parable of the unjust steward?
6. To whom was the parable of the unjust steward addressed, to whom the parable of Dives and Lazarus, and what is their common theme?
7. In interpreting these parables what teaching must .be hedged against; and what is the moral of both?
8. What question is answered by the parable of the unjust steward?
9. What is the substance of the story?
10. What are the points illustrated by our Lord in this parable as it relates to the children of this world and what is the application?
11. Illustrate the difference between mere entrance and an abundant entrance into heaven.
12. How is this truth illustrated in the life of Spurgeon?
13. Give the diagram showing bow the misuse of money on earth affects the final status in eternity, as illustrated by the parable of Dives and Lazarus.
14. What three observations worthy of note relative to the change wrought by their exit from this world?
15. What changes have been wrought as to possibilities & opportunities each?
16. What does the parable imply, what does it not teach and what the basis of the implication?
17. Show how the opportunity came to Dives in this world, illustrate how he disposed of his responsibility and the reversed state of Dives and Lazarus in eternity.
18. Dives prays, where, to whom, for what, whose service asked, how much, and what four questions arise from this prayer?
19. What is the answer to this prayer and what three laws revealed?
20. What was his second prayer, what does he accept, what does he remember, and what does he imply?
21. What was the answer, what the meaning and application?
22. Show the desperate persistence of a lost soul and what the final answer.
23. What was the teaching of Moses and Isaiah on this very point?
24. What are the great doctrines of this parable expressed or implied?
1. Why is it "impossible but that occasions of stumbling should come"? Answer: This arises from the sin of man and the domination of the devil.
2. What is the meaning of "stumbling"? Answer: Sin.
3. What is meant by "little ones" in v. 2? Answer: Young converts.
4. What law of forgiveness is 'here stated? Answer: That we must forgive those who repent of their sins against us. (See author's discussion of this subject in The Four Gospels, Volume I of this INTERPRETATION.
5. What kind of faith is referred to in v. 6 & what its nature? Answer: Miracle-working faith, which was temporary & passed away with apostolic age.
6. What is the lesson of the parable on unprofitable servants, and what of the Romanist doctrine to the contrary notwithstanding? Answer: The lesson here is that we cannot go beyond God's law in works, and is a strong teaching against the Romanist doctrine of supererogation.
THE RAISING OF LAZARUS AND ITS RESULTS
Harmony, pages 126-127 and John 11:1-54.
In the preceding chapter we considered, in group, the greatest of the parables; in this chapter we consider the greatest miracle wrought by our Lord. The following are the several Greek terms employed by our four historians to describe or define miracles, particularly these four:
Ergon work, meaning the deed itself. Dunamis power, expressing the supernatural energy by which the deed was wrought. Teras miracle, expressing the effect or wonder in the witnesses of the deed. Semeion sign, expressing the purpose of the deed.
Several times in the New Testament three of these terms occur in the same connection: "Wonders, signs, powers," (Acts 2:22; 2 Cor. 12:12; 2 Thess. 2:9; Heb. 2:4). There is a propriety of miracles. To illustrate what I mean by "propriety" I recall substantially from memory a saying of Horace, found in his Ars Poetica, somewhat to this effect: "Never, in your story, introduce a god unless there is a necessity for a god; and when introduced let his words and deeds be worthy of a god." These words of a heathen not only express a high idea of literary taste, but embody a principle by which many spurious and silly miracles, both ancient and modern, may be exposed. We may not, with materialists and atheists, carry this principle so far as to reject whatever may not be accounted for naturally, and thus altogether deny the supernatural. In the creation, providence, and history of this world many occasions have arisen to justify the intervention of God, and on all these occasions, the speech and deeds, whether mediate or immediate, have been worthy of God.
It is well to note just here, that no one of the four historians, nor all of them together, claim to record all the miracles wrought by our Lord, but each one only so many as comport with the special plan of his own story. On this point, at the close of his Gospel, John says, "And there are also many other things which Jesus did, the which if they should be written every one, I suppose that even the world itself would not contain the books that should be written" (21:25). And with special reference to miracles he had just said, "Many other signs therefore did Jesus in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book: but these are written, that ye may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye may have life in his name" (20:30-31). Indeed, apart from his miraculous appearances after his resurrection, John is led of the Spirit to select and record only seven miracles. Let the reader prepare a citation from the Harmony, of John's seven recorded miracles in the order of their occurrence.
Among the miracles recorded, restoration to life, after death, quite naturally excited the most wonder in the minds of the witnesses; they were truly terata, wonders. Only three instances of these restorations are specially recorded, and yet the three represent every grade of restoration: the raising of the little daughter of Jairus, who had just died; the raising of the widow's son at Nain, who had been dead longer and was being borne to the tomb; the raising of Lazarus, who had been in the tomb four days. While the evidences and signs of death increased with each new case, yet all were equally dead, and the restoration of the little girl to life, from whose cheek the flush of life had scarcely faded, called for the exercise of omnipotent power as much as the restoration of Lazarus, of whom his sister said, "By this time he stinketh." All these were erga, by the same dunamis, yet the last was the most wonderful of the terata, and the most significant of the semeion class.
The reader would do well to read Spurgeon's great sermon on "The Spiritual Resurrection," based on the analogue of these three graded physical restorations, and he should also note that neither these New Testament restorations to life, nor those recorded in the Old Testament, contradict the scripture that Jesus was, in his resurrection, "the first fruits of them that slept," since they were not glorified, but died again, but he was glorified, raised to die no more. I mean by not being glorified in their case, that mortality did not put on immortality, nor corruption) incorruption, nor did their natural bodies become spiritual bodies.
We call this the greatest miracle wrought by Jesus, not because it was greater as a deed, nor greater in its power, but greater as a wonder and a sign.
This miracle is connected with the history of one of the most remarkable families in the New Testament history. We know nothing of Jairus, nothing of the widow of Nain, and but little of the family life of many other beneficiaries of Christ's supernatural power. Here all is different. By a very few words here and there in the Gospels we are able to see into the very heart of the little family at Bethany. We know Martha, Mary, and Lazarus as we know our nearest neighbors in their home life. To bring out the word painting power of these few and brief references, let the reader look up and note all these references, in the order of their occurrence in the Harmony, and read an account of the Bethany family in art, citing the great paintings and by whom.
Biblical critics who deny the intervention of the supernatural, have based an objection against the credibility of John's account of the raising of Lazarus on the silence of Matthew, Mark, and Luke concerning so marvelous an event. They argue that three out of four authors of the memoirs or life of a distinguished personage could not naturally omit reference to so stupendous a fact; that an author of Washington's life might as well omit any reference to the battle of Yorktown. Quite true, they would not naturally omit such reference. But what about supernatural omission? The strongest proof of their inspiration lies as much in the fact of what they omit as in what they record. Here are four historians of one life. Each author from his own independent viewpoint, and according to an evident plan, writes an account, recording this and omitting that, and yet preserving unity of plan that gives a perfect individual portrait of a life. When you arrange the four stories into a harmony, the united story also forms a natural guidance in the selection and omission of matter, otherwise the narratives of the four would not fit into each other with such exactness as to form a combination evidencing as much plan, unity, and perfection as any one of the parts.
John's account of this miracle makes plain a divine prearrangement of all the facts with a view to a definite end, the glorification of our Lord. This central event becomes, from foreordination, a stupendous wonder and sign, upon which pivot all the subsequent events of his life, including the fact that it shall bring to a head the long developing malice of his enemies, and instrumentally bring about the tragedy of the cross, the triumph of his own resurrection, glorification, and enthronement, and the consequent salvation of men. The sickness of Lazarus was providential as much as it was natural. It was not intended to be "unto death," i.e., unto final death. The restoration to life was predetermined. And it was deliberately delayed to invest it with every circumstance of publicity, of wonder, of solemnity, of nearness to Jerusalem, of the presence of such witnesses, friendly and hostile, and of demonstration of power, so that it would be impossible to ignore it, and so that it would force alignment for or against him and draw an impassable line of cleavage between the corrigible and incorrigible, while at the same time exposing the utter malice of his enemies. From this time on the battle will be fast and furious. Colossal events, at double-quick, will converge to the great crisis. The next time he approaches Jerusalem will be the last time. The appendices to Greenleaf's Testimony of the Evangelists appears first the work of a learned Jewish rabbi attempting to prove from the Gospels themselves that Jesus was legally condemned and executed, and, therefore, his people were innocent of judicial murder; and, second, a reply to the rabbi by Dr. Dupin, a distinguished French lawyer. Both of them lay stress on the raising of Lazarus as the pivotal deed of our Lord, which occasioned the high court of the Jews to determine on his death.
As the text of the familiar story is before us we will consider only such details as need some explanation beyond what has been set forth in the introductory remarks:
1. "Lord, behold, he whom thou lovest is sick." This message of the sisters to our Lord in Perea is an exquisite gem in brevity, simplicity, pathos, and delicacy. They ask nothing in words, but the message suggests a prayer, "Lord help us."
2. "This sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God, that the Son of God may be glorified thereby." The apostle John seems, more than others, to recognize the higher purpose of miracles. His comment on the first miracle is: "This beginning of his signs did Jesus at Cana of Galilee, and manifested his glory" (John 2:11). So presently he will say to Martha at the tomb: "Said I not unto thee, that, if thou believedst, thou shouldest see the glory of God?" Spurgeon has a great sermon on "The Voices from the Most Excellent Glory," in which the Father attests the Son:
(a) At his baptism when he prayed for the Spirit (Luke 3: 22).
(b) At his transfiguration (Luke 9:35).
(c) On the occasion when the Greeks sought to see him (John 12:20-30).
On all these occasions the Father's voice responded to his prayer. As in this case the raising of Lazarus for his glory was in answer to his prayer (11:41-42) and as later in his greatest prayer (John 17:5).
As a pastor visiting the afflicted who were either attributing their troubles to the cruelty and injustice of God, or to his punitive judgments on account of special sins, how often have I expounded this passage: "This sickness is not unto death but to the glory of God, that the Son of God may be glorified thereby." It was not the anger of God nor any absence of his love, that brought this trial on the beloved Bethany family. In like manner we may judiciously use these other scriptures: "Neither did this man sin, nor his parents, but that the works of God should be made manifest in him" (John 9:3). "Those eighteen, upon whom the tower in Siloam fell, and killed them, think ye that they were offenders above all the men who dwell in Jerusalem? I tell you, Nay" (Luke 13:4).
3. "Are there not twelve hours in the day?" How clearly this passage teaches that a man cannot die until his work is done, nor malice strike the beloved of God until he permits! It is a statement of the doctrine of predestination, and surely the men of this spirit have been the world conquerors. The Huguenots, the Dutch Calvinists, Cromwell's Ironsides, the Scotch-Irish of Londonderry, swarming into Pennsylvania, down the Shenandoah into Virginia and on into the mountains of the Carolinas, Georgia, Tennessee, and Kentucky, sending out great spirits here and there like Andrew Jackson and Stonewall Jackson, together with the Baptist hosts of Texas, who have helped much to make this Texas a commonwealth of perfect portrait of a life, the writers supporting and supplementing each other to a degree inexplicable in any natural way and demonstrating that each of the four was led by super God these all illustrate the meaning of the passage. I deny not that the Arminians, particularly the Methodists, have achieved great things in evangelism, but this they did not by "falling from grace," but by "the perseverance of the saints" and their doctrine of the power of the Holy Spirit.
4. "Let us also go, that we may die with him." Thomas, the twin, was indeed slow to believe, a doubter, a man inquiring after explanations, somewhat pessimistic withal, but he had more pluck and staying power than some faster and impulsive men.
5. "Lord, if thou hadst been here, my brother had not died." The words of both sisters show both had unfaith. "If thou hadst been here," as if Jesus had to be physically present to know and to do! So the nobleman at Capernaum: "Sir, come down ere my child die" (John 4:49). Not so the centurion of the same city: "Lord, trouble not thyself; for I am not worthy that thou shouldest come under my roof: wherefore neither thought I myself worthy to come unto thee: but say the word, and my servant shall be healed. For I also am a man set under authority, having under myself soldiers: and I say unto this one, go, and he goeth; and to another, come, and he cometh; and to my servant, do this, and he doeth it" (Luke 7: 6-8). The limitations are not in the Lord, but in ourselves. One man will say, "Lord, if thou wilt, thou canst make me clean," questioning the Lord's willingness, but not doubting his ability. Another says, "If thou canst do anything, have compassion on us and help us," questioning his ability, but not his willingness. No wonder to this last Jesus said, "If thou canst! All things are possible to him that believeth." The "if" was on the man, not on our Lord.
But we are not yet through with Martha's faith, now great, now small: "Even now I know that, whatsoever thou shalt ask of God, God will give thee." This seems to mean, that though Lazarus is dead, Jesus, through prayer, can bring him back to life. But does it? If so, why does the Lord continue to probe her heart with questions, and why does she protest against his command to remove the stone closing the tomb? "Lord, by this time the body decayeth," so as to provoke the gentle rebuke of Jesus: "Said I not unto thee, that, if thou believedst, thou shouldest see the glory of God?" Martha believed indeed that Lazarus would rise again in the resurrection at the last day, and that Jesus was the Messiah that should come into the world, but did she believe his positive assertion, in any present sense, "He that believeth in me, though he die, yet shall he live again?" And especially may we question her faith in, and the realization of that stupendous affirmation, that ringing declaration of the Lord's present and eternal sovereignty over life and death, that supreme claim of divinity that he was the eternal source and fountain-head of all life: "I am the resurrection and the life." As in the beginning of his Gospel, John had said, "In him was life." As he is Lord of the sabbath day so he is Lord of life and death. Paul grandly puts the thought: "Our Saviour Jesus Christ, who abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel." "I am the resurrection" now or hereafter; "I am the life," physical and eternal. "In him," as the source, in all potentiality, "was life." But what inhered, because of his divine nature, was unrecognized by men, until brought to light in the gospel.
6. Another declaration of our Lord in this connection staggers faith: "Whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die. Believeth thou this?" What does it mean? Perhaps some may say, "It means the same as he that believeth on me hath eternal life," referring to spiritual life, which is about the same as our doctrine of final perseverance, or, rather, preservation of the saints; in other words, shall not die the second and eternal death. The doctrine is sound enough, but would Martha have staggered at that? She has already avowed her faith in the final salvation of Lazarus. The question therefore recurs: What does it mean? Does it mean that if one's faith were strong enough he might be translated without death, as was the case of Enoch and Elijah, and as will be the case of the living saints at the final advent of our Lord? These rare cases meet all the conditions of "shall never die," but can these three exceptional instances square with the broadness of "Whosoever liveth and believeth in me"1 Then, does it mean that the "sting of death" is removed from every believer? That seems hardly large enough to meet the case. "The sting of death is sin," and Martha would not have doubted so obvious a truth as the remission of sin to a believer. Doubtless, then, the reader says, "Let the author himself tell us the meaning." The author, then, disavowing dogmatism, will tell what, in his opinion, it most probably means. It cannot mean that every believer will escape dissolution of soul and body. We know it cannot mean that. And yet it must mean something true of every believer (the whosoever requires that) which yet is very hard to believe. What I think it means can best be set forth by reference to an Old Testament type and to an incident which came under my own observation. When Israel went on a pilgrimage from bondage in Egypt to the Promised Land, the last barrier to cross was the river Jordan, which in that sense was typical of Death, the last barrier between us and the Promised Land. A reference to this typical character of death appears in the hymn:
On Jordan's stormy banks I stand, And cast a wishful eye To Canaan's fair and happy land, Where my possessions lie.
Could I but climb where Moses stood, And view the landscape o'er, Not Jordan's stream, nor death's cold flood, Would fright me from the shore.
Now, it is the purpose of the New Testament gospel light to give every believer in this world to see a vision of the world to come, surpassing that secured by the vantage ground of Moses on Nebo. To these people Jordan was a formidable and dreadful barrier that well might fill them with forebodings. It was at the flood no bridge, no ferry, naturally impassable. Yet when they reached its brink, God divided the flood and they passed over dry-shod. Their task was po more than they had often accomplished, going down one hill and climbing another. In other words, they crossed the channel, but there was no river there.
The incident further illustrating the probable meaning is this: In my early ministry, 1869, I was holding a great meeting under a brush arbor by the roadside. One day, when about half way through the sermon, I observed a ramshackle sort of a mover's wagon stop in the road) and through a rent in the dirty wagon sheet, there looked out at me the most hungry eyed, emaciated, woebegone, cadaverous face of extreme poverty and suffering I ever saw. Quick as lightning came the impression to stop my sermon to the crowd and go out and preach present and eternal salvation to the one sick and despairing man. I yielded at once to the impression, walked down the aisle, put one foot on the wagon wheel and, with all my soul, lifted up Christ as a present and everlasting Saviour to that poor dying man. In one moment he accepted the Lord as his Redeemer and from the wagon was received into the church. He was so weak that he had to be baptized sitting in a chair. A few days later I found him dying on the Brazos in an old Negro cabin, with dirt floor and straw bed. He was already cold to his elbows and knees. I leaned over him and said, "Brother Bryan, you have come to the river. But in the name of Jesus I assure you that in the crossing you'll find no river and no darkness. And now, when you reach it, if God permit you, give us a token that what I say is true." He merely nodded his head and seemed to die. We thought him dead. But when I reached over to put my finger on an eye to close it, he shivered, gasped, raised his head and said, in jerking words, "Brother Carroll no river all bright," and died. He found no darkness and the channel was empty.
So awful are the seeming sufferings of the body, the crumbling tenant house, when the soul is evicted, we find it hard to believe that every Christian finds no real death, no darkness, only an empty channel all ablaze with the light of the pillar of fire. We can easily believe that this is so with some bright cases, but how many of us believe that "Whosoever liveth and believeth shall never die"?
7. "The Master is here and calleth thee." I heard, if not a great, yet, a most moving sermon on this text by the noted evangelist, A. B. Earle. He applied it this way: Every revival is a coming of the Lord to the community. When it is known that he is present, some, like Martha, rise up immediately and go forth to meet him; others, like Mary, "still sit at the house," intending to do nothing, to whom he sends his preemptory message: "The Master is here and calleth thee." Then all the Marthas who heard that sermon went out after the Marys and delivered the message. There was a crowd of Christians to hear the next sermon.
8. He groaned in the spirit . . . again groaning in himself." In the margin we find probably a better translation (vv. 33, 38) of the words rendered "groaned," "groaning." That rendering is, "He was moved with indignation to himself." To justify preference for the marginal rendering we must find in each connection something to call forth indignation on such a solemn occasion. The cause for his first indignation was his seeing in sharp contrast, Mary's sincere weeping, and the shallow, perfunctory, hired, hypocritical weeping of the Jews. The cause of the second indignation was the sceptical insinuation of some of the Jews who said, "Could not this man who opened the eyes of him that was blind, have caused that this man also should not die!" He felt the antagonism and malice of their presence. He knew that part of the Jews present would not believe though one rose from the dead, and that it would only inflame their hate. They were the men who went away and reported to the Pharisees what Jesus had done.
9. "Jesus wept." This shortest verse in the Bible (v. 35) expresses the humanity, tenderness and sympathy of our Lord. He was touched with a sense of all our infirmities. It has been, by some, regarded as unmanly to weep. But this standard of manliness is false. The sufferings, the sorrows, and sins of the world call for tears. Earth's greatest men have manifested their sympathy, or penitence, or earnestness with tears.
Thomas Moore in the "Peri and Paradise" story of Lalla Rookh makes the tear of the penitent more potent in opening the gate of paradise than the last drop of a patriot's blood, or the last sigh of human love. The psalmist declares: He that goeth forth and weepeth, bearing seed for sowing, Shall doubtless come again with joy, bringing his sheaves with him.
The great prophet, Jeremiah, cried, "Oh, that my head were waters, and mine eyes a fountain of tears, that I might weep day and night for the slain of the daughter of my people." Macauley, in his Battle of lvry, thus speaks of Henry of Navarre: He looked upon the foeman and his glance was stern and high; He looked upon his comrades and a tear was in his eye.
So Jesus is here indignant at the simulated grief of his foes, and tender toward Mary. Paul, "even weeping," warned against the enemies of the cross, and day and night for three years, testified, in tears, to the Ephesians of the grace of God. elsewhere it is said concerning our Lord that in the days of his flesh he cried unto God with strong crying and tears and was heard in that he feared. And his lament over Jerusalem is more touching and pathetic than David's lament over Absalom:
Did Christ o'er sinners weep And shall our cheeks be dry? Let floods of penitential grief Burst forth from every eye.
He wept that we might weep; Each sin demands a tear; In heaven alone no sin is found And there's no weeping there
10. "Take ye away the stone loose him and let him go" Men could not raise the dead; Christ did that. But men could remove the stone from the mouth of the tomb that the Lord might say, "Lazarus, come forth." And when the dead was raised men could loose him and let him go. They could loose him from the grave clothes which bound him hand and foot. What men can do the Lord commands them to do. Two of the most impressive sermons I ever heard on "Human Instrumentality" were, first, from Dr. Burleson at the beginning of a meeting on, "Take ye away the stone," the theme, "What men should do that God might make the dead alive." The other, at the close of the meeting, by Jesse Thomas, "Loose him and let him go." The theme of the last was, "Men may be made alive by the power of God and yet remain bound in grave clothes, unless intelligent friends loose them from the difficulties that prevent them; though living they are kept from the activities of life."
Two classes of unbelieving Jews witnessed the resurrection of Lazarus: one class, open to conviction, and these believed and were saved; the other class, too blind to see and too full of hate to be melted. These carry the astonishing news to Jerusalem. The tidings led to a session of the Sanhedrin. No one dared to deny the fact. They openly confessed it. They feared that all men would believe on such overwhelming evidence of divine and benevolent power. Something decisive must now be done, or they would lose "their place." But in hypocrisy they attribute their malice to concern for the nation. The high priest in that dreadful years was Caiaphas, and he justified the decision to put Jesus to death on the ground of political expediency: "It is expedient for you that one should die for the people, and that the whole nation perish not."
Concerning this remarkable session of the Sanhedrin, two special things need to be said:
1. I agree with the rabbi and dissent from Mr. Dupin in believing that this was a legal meeting of the Sanhedrin, but dissent from the former and agree with the latter that it did not order the arrest of Jesus, on the alleged ground of political expediency, but resolved to kill him really from malice and selfishness. Their determination to put him to death, and the alleged ground of it, was in his absence; preceded any form of investigation or trial, confessed the miraculous facts which excited their hate, and so this fixed determination of the supreme court of their nation, contrary to their own law, was but the source from which flowed all their subsequent illegal, malicious proceedings culminating in his judicial murder. There remained only to devise means of executing their judicial and official purpose, and of rendering him odious to the people, and for espionage and suborning testimony, and such other arrangements as would render their wicked deeds plausible and safe to themselves. Jesus himself, a short time after, showed them plainly, in the parable of the wicked husbandman, their malicious, murderous purpose, and thereby only increased the hate and deepened the purpose.
2. A comment of John on the words of Caiaphas is indeed remarkable: "This he said not of himself: 'but being high priest that year, he prophesied that Jesus should die for the nation; and not for the nation only, but that he might gather together in one the children of God that are scattered abroad." Truly, it was "making the wrath of man to praise him" when Caiaphas, meaning evil, should be unwittingly constrained to utter such a glorious and far-reaching truth. The man in his freedom proposed, but God in his sovereignty disposed. As Joseph's brethren meant evil in selling him, but God meant good in sending him into Egypt, or as Peter later puts it: "Him being delivered up by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye by the hand of lawless men did crucify and slay"; so, whenever God wills it, a wicked man may unconsciously prophesy. Whether this prophecy was at that time a function of the office of high priest, is an interpretation I shall not now consider. But I do say that the raising of Lazarus was the greatest and most consequential of all the miracles personally wrought by our Lord.
1. What was the greatest miracle wrought by our Lord?
2. What are the four Greek words used to define miracles, what are their English equivalents and what do they severally express?
3. In what four New Testament passages do we find three of these words used in the same connection and what are the three words?
4. What is the propriety of miracles? Illustrate.
5. What danger pointed out in connection with this illustration?
6. What is the plan of the four historians relative to the miracles they record and what is the double testimony of John on this point?
7. What seven miracles recorded by John and what is the Harmony page and scripture of each?
8. What class of Christ's miracles naturally excited the most wonder in the minds of the witnesses, what three of these recorded, and how do they represent every grade of restoration?
9. What sermon commended on these three miracles? Show how they do not contradict the scripture that Jesus was in his resurrection "the first fruits of them that slept."
10. In what respect was the raising of Lazarus the greatest miracle of our Lord?
11. Give the references in the order of their occurrence in the Harmony, to the family of Mary, Martha, and Lazarus; give also an account of this family in art, citing the great paintings and by whom.
12. What objection urged against the credibility of John's Gospel based on the silence of the synoptic Gospels concerning this marvelous events, and what the reply?
13. Show how, by foreordination, the raising of Lazarus becomes the pivot of all the subsequent events of our Lord's life.
14. What does the message of the sisters, "Lord, behold, he whom thou lovest is sick," suggest?
15. How does John, more than others, seem to recognize the higher purpose of miracles (John 11:4; 2:11), what sermon commended on this thought, and what the application of 11:4 by the author?
16. What is the teaching of "are there not twelve hours in the day"? Illustrate.
17. What trait of Thomas here revealed?
18. What does the statement by both sisters, "Lord, if thou hadst been here, my brother had not died," show?
19. What other instances of a similar nature referred to and what instances in contrast?
20. What did Martha mean by "Even now I know that, whatsoever thou shalt ask of God, God will give thee"?
21. What is the meaning of "whosoever liveth and believeth in. me shall never die"?
22. What is the application of "The Master is here and calleth thee"?
23. What is the meaning of "He groaned in the spirit . . . again groaning in himself," and what in the context to justify the meaning in each case?
24. What does "Jesus wept" express, is it unmanly to weep, what of Thomas Moore's testimony, the psalmist's testimony, Jeremiah's testimony, Macaulay's testimony, Paul's testimony, and what other illustrations from the life of our Lord?
25. What is the meaning and application of each of these expressions, "Take ye away the stone" and "Loose him and let him go"?
26. What two classes of Jews witnessed the raising of Lazarus, what did the second class do and the results?
27. What two special things concerning the meeting of the Sanhedrin. discussed by the author?
THE TEN LEPERS; WHEN AND WHERE OF THE KINGDOM; THE PARABLE OF PRAYER FOR JUSTICE
Harmony, pages 128-129 and Luke 17:11 to 18:8.
This section commences on page 128 of the Harmony and includes three subjects:
1. The healing of the ten lepers
2. The when and the where of the kingdom and the king
3. The parable of the prayer for Justice
On the page immediately preceding this section we learn that "Jesus therefore walked no more openly among the Jews, but departed thence into the country near to the wilderness, into a city called Ephraim; and there he tarried with the disciples." That Ephraim is in the northern part of Judea. The first verse of the section says, "And it came to pass, as they were on their way to Jerusalem, that he was passing along the borders of Samaria and Galilee." The question naturally arises: Why did not Jesus, being in Judea, go straight back to Jerusalem, why did he go through Samaria and a part of Galilee, both north of him, in order to get to Jerusalem south of him? The answer is: Jesus in making this last visit to Jerusalem wishes to fall in with the pilgrim throng from Galilee attending the Passover near at hand, and this pilgrim throng would not pass through Samaria to go to Jerusalem, but would cross the Jordan and pass through Perea to Jericho and thence to Jerusalem, the object being to avoid Samaria. The Samaritans were very hostile to all Jews going south to the feasts, but hospitable to them going north, because they claimed that theirs was the true temple in Mount Gerizirn.
THE TEN LEPERS
In John 20-21, we have these two passages: "And there are also many other things which Jesus did, the which if they should be written every one, I suppose that even the world itself would not contain the books that should be written" (John 21:2&); and, "Many other signs therefore did Jesus in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book: but these are written that ye may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye may have life in his name" (John 20:30-31).
In other words, the inspiration of God leads each historian to record, not everything that Jesus said and did, but just such things as fall in with his plan and viewpoint, leaving the combined histories to show a larger plan. Therefore, when we come to consider this healing of the ten lepers we first compare it with the passage on page 31 of the Harmony, where Matthew, Mark, and Luke give an account of the healing of one leper in the early Galilean ministry. I have already discussed all the general features of leprosy, so it remains now to consider only the distinguishing features of the two passages, which are these:
There, on page 31 of the Harmony, only one leper is healed, and here ten.
There, the leper was near at hand and was healed by a touch; here the ten lepers are afar off, in speaking distance however, and are healed by a word.
There, the healing of one leper was instantaneous; as soon as Christ touched him he was healed. Here the healing of the ten lepers is as they were going away obeying what he told them to do.
There, the healer enjoins silence on the healed because he didn't want to spring prematurely on the unbelieving Jews the claims of his messiahship lest their hostility should hinder the laying of the foundations of his kingdom and the preparation of his disciples. But here no silence is enjoined.
Apart from these distinctions of the two lessons, we now note these special things:
1. Leprosy, as it outlaws a Jew, unites him in association with the Samaritan. One of these ten was a Samaritan. On account of the religious jealousies, only a great calamity upon all could associate them. We often see in life that the people who scratch and fight in the days of prosperity become bedfellows in the day of adversity.
2. One reason for recording a second healing .of lepers is to show the exceptional gratitude of one of the recipients of the divine mercy. Jesus healed all the ten. One of them, feeling himself to be healed, rushed back and prostrated himself at the feet of Jesus and returned thanks and glorified God. Hence comes the great text from which many preach: "Where are the nine?" Ten were healed. Only one is grateful, which leads to another reason.
3. Both the judgments and mercies of God are given to lead to salvation. Paul says that the goodness of God leadeth to repentance. Now only one out of the ten who received this goodness, physical healing, was led to spiritual healing, and that one was a Samaritan. Nine Jews, one Samaritan. The one, following the leading of the divine mercy, is saved saved spiritually as he had been saved physically. The nine were saved physically, but no hint of their spiritual salvation is given.
When any great trouble or any great blessing comes upon us we should stop right there and ask ourselves the question, What is the shortest road from this trouble or blessing to God? What did he mean by it, to me?
He meant good of some kind. He always means good. But some people both judgments and mercies harden. Leprosy was regarded as a special divine judgment, and its healing a divine mercy. Therefore, both the affliction and its cure should turn the mind toward God. In order that we may get vividly before us the fearful nature of leprosy and the blessedness of its cure, we should study the case of Job. His affliction was leprosy. The account in Ben Hur of Christ's healing his leprous mother and sister, and N. P. Willis' great poem on the healing of the leper are worthy of note.
This part of our discussion is given by Luke alone (17:20-37). In the beginning of the paragraph the Pharisees ask, "When is the kingdom of God?" At the close the disciples ask, "Where, Lord?" So that this paragraph is an answer to two questions, "When" and "Where?"
If we turn to our Lord's great prophecy on page 160, we find a similar question, last part of the third verse in Matthew and corresponding places in Mark and Luke: "Tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world?" Mark says, "Tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign when these things are all about to be accomplished?" And Luke puts it: "Teacher, when therefore shall these things be? and what shall be the sign when these things are about to come to pass?" Again, on page 229 of the Harmony, near the bottom, Acts l:6f, "They therefore, when they were come together, asked him, saying, Lord, dost thou at this time restore the kingdom to Israel? And he said unto them, It is not for you to know times or seasons, which the Father hath set within his own authority." So, that first question is, When? It is the most natural question that comes to the mind. Jesus is talking about the judgment, about his final coming. They say, "When, Lord? Will it probably be tomorrow, or next week, or next year?" In both ancient and modern times experts have not been wanting to answer that question, When? But notice that Jesus does not answer it. So we, when we preach, may safely imitate our Lord.
I heard an old Negro preacher say to an ambitious young Negro preacher, "My young brother, don't you be cocksure about the time the Lord is going to come." The Lord himself said that the angels in heaven did not know it, that no man knew it, not even the Son of man, Jesus himself, as far as his humanity was concerned. Of course, he knew it in his divinity. The Pharisees asked when the kingdom of God should come.
Now notice how he replies to questions of that kind. He says, "The kingdom of God cometh not with observation: neither shall they say, Lo, here! or, there! for, lo, the kingdom of God is within you." To Pilate he said, "My kingdom is not of this world." Paul says that the kingdom of heaven is not meat and drink, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. In other words, instead of being curious as to dates, we should be concerned as to the spiritual nature of the kingdom, and our preparedness for it.
There was a kingdom set up and it was a visible kingdom, but the spiritual nature of the kingdom should concern us, and our preparedness for it, far more than to know the date. Keeping in mind the question asked by the Pharisees, he then turns to the disciples and begins to talk about the final coming of the Lord: "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." In other words, many sad things must intervene. "You will be discouraged at the delay of your vindication. You will be outcasts, persecuted, put to death, so that the souls of the saints under the altar will be crying out, 'How long, Master, the holy and true, dost thou not judge and avenge our blood on them that dwell on the earth?' " So his answer here and elsewhere puts the When a long way off. Likewise as to the place, in answering the question, Where? Pay no attention to men's "Lo, here, and Lo, there." The Millerites in the United States were wiser than the Lord. They appointed a date for the Lord to come and a place from which they were to ascend to heaven. He warns against such folly. When that day comes, it will advertise itself. As a flash of lightning from one end of heaven to the other, in a moment of time, so will be the coming of the Son of man. There will be no need of human heralds to say, "Lo, here, and Lo, there." Here and elsewhere many times, the New Testament teaches and warns that the necessary intervening things must precede his coming. Here he says, "But first must he suffer many things and be rejected of this generation." In this great discourse on this subject, to be considered later, he warns: "The end is not yet . . . famines and earthquakes . . . are the beginning of travail." Paul, in the letter to the Thessalonians, rebukes them for expecting the advent to come right away. He says that it cannot be until first the great apostasy comes, and the revelation of the man of sin. In other words, it comes at an appointed time.
It is not true that the final advent and general judgment may come tomorrow or next day that it is always imminent.
Likewise, Peter explains the delay of the coming of the Son of man when they were saying, "Where is the promise of his coming?" i.e., "He said he was coming quickly and he has not come." He explains that God's delay is in order to the salvation of the lost; that we must reckon that the long delay of his coming meaneth salvation, i.e., he delays his final advent in order to save men, for after he comes nobody will be saved. This section does teach, however, that the coming will be sudden and that the wicked will be unprepared. It will be as in the days of Noah. Noah for 120 years had been preaching righteousness and telling them the flood was coming; at first, he may have attracted some attention, but after awhile they got to laughing at him, doubtless joked the old man for spending all that money building that huge old tub of a ship, and on the very last day the sun was shining as brightly as it ever shone, the wedding bells were ringing, people were marrying and giving in marriage, eating and drinking. The likeness of his advent to the days of Noah does not consist in the relative number of the saved and lost. Our passage does not mean that as there were only eight people saved at the deluge, so only a few Christians will be on the earth at the coming of Christ, as some premillennialists insist on preaching, but the likeness is in the suddenness of the event and in the unpreparedness of the wicked. Similarly he compares the advent on these points, with the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah. Lot, a preacher of righteousness, was vexed in his soul at their wickedness. They did not repent and reform, so the very day that Lot went out of Sodom, it rained fire and brimstone from heaven and those cities were buried under the Dead Sea. So, to the unprepared wicked the advent will be sudden. The great point of the passage is that there will be no chance to get ready after the coming. A man on the housetop has no time to go back into the house to get anything. If he is out in the field he cannot go back home. Whereover a man may be or in what engaged (he may be asleep; he may be traveling), when that great shout and the sound of the trumpet come, the preparation is ended forever.
This scripture teaches clearly that it will be a time of separation very unexpected and startling separation. The very day that Christ comes two women will be grinding at a mill, one will be taken and the other left; two men will be in the field, plowing, grubbing, or harvesting, and in one flash of the eye one will be translated and caught up in the clouds to meet the Lord, and the other will be left. Nothing that has ever happened on this earth will equal the suddenness and sharpness of this separation: "When the Son of man shall come . . . he shall separate them one from another, as the shepherd separateth the sheep from the goats." The father may be placed on the left, and the mother on the right; the daughter on the left, and the son on the right.
Now comes the disciples' question, Where, Lord? "When he comes, to what place is he coming?" Man's questions are, When is it? Where is it? As he answered the When, so here, the Where: "Where the body is, thither will the eagles also be gathered together." He will not tell whether the place be Jerusalem or London or New York or Texas, but "wheresoever the carcass is, there will the eagles be gathered."
This is a lesson on prayer. If the reader will take the Harmony and go through it on the subject of prayer, first, as to Christ praying, and what he prayed for; second, Christ's lessons on prayer, what he taught concerning it, he will be wonderfully impressed by these prayers of Jesus.
Here are two of his prayer lessons. The first connects right back with his advent-teaching just discussed, that is, the relation of the prayers of his people to their vindication at his advent.
Because of this connection we must not construe the words, "Men ought always to pray, and not to faint," as being equal to Paul's exhortation, "Praying without ceasing." Paul gives an exhortation concerning prayer in general, but this parable refers to praying for one particular thing. The idea here is that Christians ought to keep on praying that Jesus would vindicate them, avenge them on their adversaries and not become discouraged at his long delay.
This idea he illustrates by a story of how one on earth, persisted in her plea for justice, before a human court, until her wrongs were righted. Her persistence until successful under far more unfavorable conditions than those surrounding a Christian, constitutes the point of the story.
The judge before whom she pleads is far less approachable, far less disposed to hear, than the Judge to whom the Christian prays for vindication. The argument is, that by just so much as our Judge is better than the woman's judge, on all the points of contrast, by just that much the Christian should be encouraged to pray in faith, and to keep on praying, nothing doubting.
But though this argument makes it certain that God will at last avenge the wrongs of his people, yet as faith in long deferred vengeance is difficult to impatient people, will the Lord at his coming find that faith on earth?
In general this is the idea of the parable. But let us note somewhat in detail the points of contrast between the human and the divine Judge. In both cases it is the office of the judge to right wrongs, to dispense justice. The Mosaic law sternly requires every judge to acquit the innocent and condemn the guilty and particularly enjoins him to protect the widow and the orphan from oppression. But this judge was unjust. The plea for justice did not move him. This judge cared nothing for widows. He was not concerned to protect the helpless. Usually the fear of God hereafter influences men to do right in time. But this man feared not God. He was an atheist. Usually deference to public opinion somewhat constrains men to do right. But this judge "regarded not man." The case seemed hopeless. But the woman kept on crying out: "Avenge me of my adversary." Every day she appeared in the court and renewed her plea: "I am a widow. I have been wronged. You are the judge. Avenge me of my adversary." Perhaps she waylaid him on the streets or followed him home and stood under his window, if the door was shut in her face, all the time, everywhere crying out, "Avenge me of my adversary," and so at last she found the one and only way to reach him. He loved himself and his ease, or feared danger to his person from a desperate woman, and therefore righted her wrongs.
But God is just; God loves his people. They are his elect. God has promised to right their wrongs. Therefore, shall not God avenge his own elect who continually, day and night, pray unto him, though he delay long to avenge? He will avenge them speedily, though not as we count speedily. Nevertheless, when the Son of man cometh to avenge them, so long has he delayed to come, and so impatient are they, and so sick from hope deferred, will he find that faith on the earth? Not, Will he find faith on earth, but that faith, faith in his speedy vengeance on their enemies, not saving faith in Christ. Indeed, not even faith that he will ultimately avenge them, but faith in his speedy vengeance, ten pistin, "that faith." The article has all the force of a demonstrative pronoun. It designates a particular kind of faith. The difficulty in the way of exercising that particular faith lies in the two ways of understanding "speedily." He promised to come quickly. But men construe the "speedily" and "quickly" from their idea of the meaning of the words. But God construes them from his idea of the meaning. With him a thousand years are as one day. So when he said, "speedily" and "quickly," though eighteen centuries have passed away, that is less than two of our days to him.
Bulwer, in his drama of Richelieu, represents that great cardinal as scornful of future judgments, to whom Annie of Austria replies: "The Almighty, my lord cardinal, does not pay every week, but at last He pays." The German poet, Von Logau, well says: The mills of God grind slowly, But they grind exceeding small. Though with patience He stands waiting With exactness grinds He all.
All our premillennial friends should restudy on the "quickly Peters great argument on this point (2 Peter 3), and no longer allow their misconception of Luke 7:26;18:8 to fill them with pessimistic views concerning the progress of the kingdom and the fewness of Christians on earth at the coming of our Lord.
1. Why did Jesus go through Samaria and Galilee, which were north of him, on. his way to Jerusalem?
2. What was the cause of the hostility of the Samaritans toward the Jews?
3. What two passages in John bearing on inspiration, and the individual plan and viewpoint of the several historians?
4. What did inspiration lead each historian to record?
5. What method, therefore, is adopted in the study of the healing of ten lepers?
6. What are the distinguishing features of the healing of the one leper and the healing of the ten?
7. What three special things noted?
8. What great text for a sermon in this connection and what is the point of application?
9. How was leprosy and its healing regarded in that day?
10. What Old Testament case of leprosy cited and what are the points of its illustration?
11. In what country was leprosy most prevalent?
12. What two instances of the healing of leprosy in current literature cited?
13. What two questions does Luke 17:2&-37 answer?
14. What were the similar questions which brought forth "the great prophecy" of our Lord?
15. What similar question just before our Lord's ascension and what was his answer?
16. How does Christ answer the question, "When the kingdom of God"?
17. What should be our principal concern as to the kingdom?
18. What statement of our Lord here puts the when a long way off, and what does it mean?
19. What illustration given of the foolishness of appointing the date and place of our Lord's coming?
20. What of the warning of Christ against such folly?
21. According to Christ, what must first take place?
22. According to Paul, what?
23. What was Peter's explanation of our Lord's delay?
24. What two Old Testament illustrations cited by our Lord?
25. In what does the likeness of the coming of our Lord to the days of Noah consist, negatively and positively?
26. What of the likeness to the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah?
27. What is the great point of the passage?
28. What illustrations given by our Lord of the startling separations that will take place at his coming?
29. What was Christ's answer to the question, "Where"?
30. What is the lesson of the parable of the importunate widow and how does it connect back with his advent teaching?
31. What is the principal idea in this parable?
32. Repeat the story of the widow and the judge. What is the point of the story?
33. What is the argument of the parable?
34. What is the relation of this argument to faith?
35. What are the points of contrast between the human and divine Judge?
36. What faith is mentioned in this parable and what is the difficulty in exercising it?
37. What is the meaning of "avenge them speedily"?
38. What is Bulwer's illustration of this?
39. What is Von Logau's?
40. What misconception of Luke 17:26; 18:8 here cited and what u the result of such interpretation?
PARABLE OF THE PHARISEE AND THE PUBLICAN; THE LAW OF MARRIAGE, AND DIVORCE; THE CASE OF THE LITTLE CHILDREN
Harmony, pages 129-131 and Luke 18:9-17; Matthew 19:1-15; Mark 10:1-16.
Our last section closed with the prayer for vengeance or justice, called the prayer of the importunate widow. Over against that we have a prayer for mercy, not for justice. Nothing in any language, in so short a space, conveys such clear ideas of prayer as this parable, both negatively and positively negatively, in that the prayer offered by the Pharisee is not prayer at all. Let us see if we can find any petition in it: "The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, God, I thank thee, that I am not as the rest of men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican." No petition there. "I fast twice in the week." No prayer there. Neither in form nor in spirit is that a petition. Truly does the text say, "And prayed thus with himself." He is simply congratulating himself upon his superiority over other people and his absolute need of nothing.
The other prayer, how different! "Standing afar off"; he does not feel that he can come close to God. "Would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven." There is utter absence of presumption, "but smote his breast," as if there in his heart was the seat of his trouble, "saying [now we come to the prayer], God, be merciful to me the sinner." How few the words, how expressive each word and how more expressive the conjunction of the words! "Ho theos, hilastheti mm toi hamartolm," "God, be propitious to me the sinner." Mark the elements of this great prayer:
First, there is an evidence of contrition for sin. The Holy Spirit had convicted him of sin, and now he exercises contrition. In receiving members into the church I often put this question to them, "Did you ever realize that you were a sinner?" I had one man to answer me by saying he never did feel like he was a sinner. Then I asked him what need he had for a Saviour.
The second element is humility. The parable has this application: "Every one that exalteth himself [as that Pharisee did], shall be humbled, but he that humbleth himself [as that publican], shall be exalted." So that the second element of power in this prayer is the deep humility. He did not trust in himself that he was righteous. He did not despise others.
The third element is the sense of helplessness. He comes for something that he can't secure by tithing or fasting. He stands there contrite, humble, helpless.
The fourth element of his prayer is the earnestness manifested in going right to the heart of the matter in the fewest words. There is not only the absence of anything perfunctory in this petition, but there is directness and earnestness. When I was studying Latin my teacher called my attention to this distinction between the Latin language and the English, viz., that the Latin language always puts the main word first, and the illustration used was this: We say in English, "Give me fruit," and the Latin says, "Fructum do mihi," "Fruit give to me." So this prayer gets at the very heart of the matter with a directness and simplicity that has never been surpassed and seldom, if ever, equalled.
The fifth element that we note is that it is a prayer of faith, evidenced by the word employed, hilastheti in the Greek. The hilasterion is the mercy seat where the atonement is made and hence asking God to be propitious is exactly the same as saying, "God be merciful to me through a sacrifice; be propitious to me through the atonement." That shows it to be a clear case of faith, which is further evidenced by the result: This man went down to his house justified and not the other. We are justified by faith. We do not get to justification except through faith. God's mercy has appointed a propitiation for sin and with that propitiatory sacrifice atonement was made on the mercy seat. So the one word hilastheti expresses every thought in the "be propitious to me through the atonement," and hence it is the prayer of faith, and justification follows it.
The next section of this discussion gives us Christ's teaching concerning divorce, and also concerning the expediency of not marrying. There are two elements in the discussion: The lesson on divorce, if one be married, and the lesson on the expediency of not getting married if one be single.
The heart of the lesson is presented in the following language: "Have ye not read, that he who made them from the beginning made them male and female, and said, For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife; and the twain shall become one flesh?" (Matt. 19:4f). Now, that is the great law of marriage as instituted by the Father himself when he created the world, when he first made man, when he himself performed the first marriage ceremony. That constitutes the law of marriage. "They twain, saith he, shall become one flesh" (1 Cor. 6:16). It contemplates such a complete unity that there is in it no idea even of separation. That being the law in the beginning, the question comes up, Why did Moses, an inspired man, allow in his legislation divorce for a number of causes? Jesus says that on account of their hardness of heart Moses did that. In other words, they had been slaves for a long time, just as the Negroes have been here in the South. What low ideas of marriage those slaves had and have yet! These Israelites were but little prepared for the enforcement of a high moral standard. The original law was not changed nor its high ideal standard withdrawn. Whatever evil custom his people had adopted from heathen nations, such as divorce, polygamy and slavery, which were rooted too deep for immediate and complete eradication, these he modifies in his practical legislation, softening their asperities, restricting their evil, while always upholding in theory a pure, ideal standard, whose principles ever tend to eliminate the evil altogether. Moses prescribed no law on divorce, slavery, or polygamy that did not ameliorate the evils of these deep-rooted customs. And we must distinquish between the moral law inculcated by Moses and his civic regulations. The moral law standard was never lowered. It was absolutely perfect. But he was also the head of a nation, a political entity, and must needs legislate on civil, criminal, sanitary, and other matters.
This legislation was as high in its moral tone as they were able to bear. He did not proscribe divorce, but mitigated its existing evils. Men already were putting away their wives. He regulated the evil by requiring a bill of divorcement, which was some protection to the divorced and their children. On account of their hardness of heart and unpreparedness for better things he suffered them to retain the custom of divorce for the time being, while all the time teaching moral principles that tended to the utter eradication of the evil. A critical examination of the Mosaic civil and criminal law makes evident to an unprejudiced mind that all his statutes on existing social evils elevated the standard far above the prevalent custom, and never lowered it. If he suffered divorce while hedging against its evils, he did not approve it. But when the question was put to our Lord, "Is it lawful for a man to put away his wife for every cause" he promptly set forth the primal law of marriage for all men; for man, as man, in the creation, long anterior to Moses and the civil law of the Jews. Instead of its being lawful for a man to put away his wife for every cause, be acknowledged only one justifiable cause, viz., infidelity to the marriage vow. The husband alone had title to the body of the wife and the wife alone to the body of the husband. An offense against this authority justified absolute divorce, for thereby was the unity of "one flesh" broken. But even this did not operate ipso facto. The one wronged might forgive and not legally plead the offense. It is always lawful to forgive, as God, married to his people, oftentimes does forgive spiritual adultery.
These two spheres of law, civil and moral, together with the prevalence of social customs, cause, for Christian people, many vexations and hard problems. Our missionaries today in heathen lands confront these problems, in dealing with new converts. Paul confronted them in the heathen city of Corinth in his day. Many slaves, many from the dregs of society, many polygamists, many liars, thieves, and murderers were converted, many with loose ideas of purity and of family sanctity. He could not regulate the state, but what should the church do? What must be the stand of preachers and churches in relation to members of the church in matters of discipline? On these problems the letters to the Corinthians constitute a mine of instruction. It was there that a new question came to the front, a question not of absolute divorce, but of legal separation. Suppose a heathen man becomes a Christian and his wife on that account leaves him? Or, because the wife becomes a Christian her husband abandons her? Paul's reply is: "If the unbelieving departeth, let him depart: the brother or sister is not in bondage [rather, enslaved] in such cases" (1 Cor. 7:15).
Here arises a question of interpretation upon which Christian theologians differ, and even the discipline of churches differ. The question is, Do Paul's words fairly teach that abandonment of the other, by husband or wife, justifies absolute divorce or merely separation a mensa et toro? And if it justifies absolute divorce, then since abandonment may be "for every cause," does not this interpretation put Paul in direct conflict with our Lord,, who justifies divorce for only one cause? Even if one insists on limiting Paul's words to the one course of abandonment on religious grounds, it yet makes two justifiable grounds of absolute divorce, whereas our Lord taught but one.
The author believes that Paul's words, "is not in bondage in such case," mean only, "is not in bondage" to so much of the marriage bond as the abandonment necessarily renders impracticable. That is, is not in bondage to live with, to provide for, and like things. But in 1 Corinthians 7:11 Paul settles the question by quoting our Lord to the effect that cases of abandonment do not permit remarriage. This seems further evident from Paul's later statement in the same connection: "A wife is bound for so long a time as her husband liveth; but if the husband be dead, she is free to be married to whom she will; only in the Lord" (1 Cor. 7:39). This reaffirms the primal law limited only by our Lord's one exception (see Matt. 19). We must also note the difference in Paul's words. In 1 Corinthians 7:15 the word is "enslaved," but in v. 30 the word is "bound." To sum up:
1. Death breaks the marriage bond and leaves the survivor free to marry.
2. Divorce on the ground of adultery leaves the innocent party free to marry.
3. Abandonment frees the abandoned one from so many of the marital duties as it necessarily renders impracticable, but confers no privileges. Therefore, there may be separation a mensa et thora on other grounds than adultery, but no privilege of remarriage.
I urge, with insistent emphasis, on the reader, particularly the preacher, to immediately supply himself with Dr. Alvah Hovey's little book, The Law of Divorce, because the divorce question is much to the front. When I conducted the "Query Column" of the Baptist Standard, more queries on divorce came to me than on all other matters put together. It is 80 now in letters asking for advice.
The civil divorce mill is grinding day and night. Divorces are granted by the courts for almost every cause. The sanctity of the family is continually violated and children put to open shame by their parents and by the law. The public conscience on marriage and purity in this country is debauched to the ancient heathen level, and in some respects below it, and even below the mating of the brutes which perish.
The churches all over the land are staggered with the perplexing problems of discipline and in fear of libel laws. Three imperative duties devolve upon us:
1. We must as citizens seek to reform the civil divorce laws.
2. We must as churches maintain a Christ standard on the reception of members and on discipline. No matter what the complications or hardships in a given case, the church suffers more in receiving or retaining them than it gains by their membership. Their membership gags the pulpit, and commends the example of sin to the young.
3. We must as preachers refuse to officiate at marriages which violate divine law.
In addition to the more vital matters just considered it may not be amiss before we leave the subject of marriage to call your attention to the import of these words of our Lord: "For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall cleave unto his wife." We generally construe it the other way: The bride must leave her father and mother and cleave unto her husband. If we put emphasis upon the "his" it would mean that it is better for the groom to live with his father-in-law than to take his bride to his father's home. The reasons would be obvious. The wife's life being indoors and the husband's outdoors, it would entail greater hardship on her to live with his mother than for him to live with her mother. He would not be, in his outdoor field, subordinate to her mother; but her sphere, being indoors, would make her subordinate to his mother.
But doubtless the meaning is that both bridegroom and bride, having now become a family unit, should each leave the old home and strike out together for themselves. Neither marries the family of the other. Both want a home of their own in which no outsider is boss. They must be free to live their own life, unhampered by each other's relatives. Living with her father reflects on his manhood. Living with his mother breaks her heart. If marriage means to her only subordination to somebody's mother, naturally she would prefer her own. Let them visit occasionally each other's family, but not dwell; and let not the parents of either side interfere.
Let the reader particularly note that while nearly all the scriptures on this subject speak of the man's putting away his wife, yet Mark 10:12 expressly applies the law to a woman's putting away her husband. So Paul, in 1 Corinthians 7, applies it to both parties. Because of the importance of the subject, we must take time to expound one other word, "fornication." Some expositors contend that this term can refer only to unchastity before marriage, therefore no offense after marriage justifies divorce. The position is wholly untenable on three grounds:
1. The Greek word porneia is a general term, not limited to unchastity before marriage. This is the verdict of most scholars. This abundantly appears from classical, biblical, and later usage by great scholars. The term is applied to married people in the noted case in-1 Corinthians 5: 1ff. The corresponding Hebrew word is always employed figuratively to denote Israel's unfaithfulness to Jehovah, her husband. Dr. John A. Broadus, one of the greatest Greek scholars in American history, cites Amos 7:17; Ezekiel 23:5; Numbers 5:19f; Hosea 3:3, and many passages from great Greek scholars and theologians, including Dion, Cassius, Chrysostom, Origen, and notes that the Peshito Syriac translates this very passage by "adultery." The reason for the general term is to include un chastity during betrothal, as well as adultery after marriage is consummated. (See supposed case in Matthew 1:18-19.)
2. The limitation of the meaning to unchastity before marriage would give most married women and multitudes of married men a scriptural ground for divorce. Divorces would be disastrously multiplied.
3. The limitation is absurd, opposed to sound principles of common sense and law. Nations hold each other responsible for violations of treaties after they are made, not before. Married people cannot reasonably dissolve the bonds of marriage for offenses before the marriage or the engagement to marry. Contracts do not bind before made or the pledge to make.
Here it is important to note what the disciples said: "If the case of a man is so with his wife, it is not expedient to marry." What does this mean? It means, if marriage is so binding as our Lord had just stated, if only one extreme offense justifies divorce, then it is not expedient to marry at all. The "so" refers directly back to Christ's statement of the binding power of marriage on both man and wife. Many commentators attach a delicate meaning to the word "so" and interpret it as if it read: "If the case be so with a single man, it is not expedient for him to marry." But there is nothing in their statement touching single men. They say, rather: "If the case of the man is so with his wife [i.e., as Christ has just de~ dared], then marriage at all is inexpedient." To them this was one of Christ's "hard sayings." In other words, they thought his teaching here, as at other times, put a man in too tight a place. This shows that the disciples shared the general Jewish view that a man might put away his wife for every cause, otherwise marriage was not desirable; concubinage would be preferable. That this is the meaning of their statement further appears from the "but" with which Jesus commences to refute their statements. "But" indicates opposition to the preceding clause. Instead of citing instances of inexpediency to confirm and illustrate their general statement, he cites certain exceptional cases to which alone their inexpediency would apply. In effect affirming that in all ordinary cases men and women ought to marry, notwithstanding the stringency of the marriage bond. We come then to these exceptional cases where marriage is inexpedient:
1. Natural disqualifications, whether congenital or from violence or from accident. This would include physical and mental cases, or those subject to grave hereditary diseases.
2. Voluntary, but temporary, abstinence from marriage in view of "a present distress" of any great character, as that of which Paul speaks.
3. Certain widows and widowers might find it inexpedient to remarry (others had better remarry).
4. Voluntary and permanent abstinence from marriage on the part of certain people in order to special concentration in the service in the kingdom of God. But, as our Lord declares, this saying is only for those who are able to receive it. The cases are rare, special, exceptional. The rule is the other way. Man's original commission required marriage. "Marriage is honorable in all" and "Forbidding to marry" a mark of the great apostasy.
Any church law forbidding the marriage of its preachers outrages both the precept and example of the New Testament. All of the apostles, except Paul, were married men, and it is quite probable from a passage in 1 Corinthians 7 that he was a widower, not choosing to remarry. The law concerning church officers contemplates the bishop or pastor as a married man and father of a family. An unmarried pastor is greatly handicapped, and, indeed, only very prudent bachelors or widowers can safely be pastors.
We now pass from celibacy to consider one of the most touching and instructive incidents in the life of our Lord, the case of his praying for
What a pity that this impressive, heart-moving story was ever wrested from its truly great lessons and marred by being irreverently dragged into the baptismal controversy. It has nothing whatever to say or suggest about baptism.
These children were certainly not brought to our Lord that he might baptize them, for our Lord himself personally baptized nobody. Nor, that being the purpose of their being brought, would the disciples have forbidden their coming if they had been accustomed to baptize children. The purpose of being brought is expressly stated: That he should touch them, lay his hands on them, and pray. What he did is expressly stated: He called them unto him, took them in his arms, blessed them, laying his hands upon them.
But the defenders of infant baptism who employ this passage in defense of their view, say our Lord said, "Of such is the kingdom of heaven," and quote his words on another occasion: "Except ye be converted and become as little children, ye cannot enter the kingdom of heaven." They interpret these passages to mean that little children, in their natural state, are free from sin, equal to converted adults and therefore possess the spiritual qualifications for baptism. But this denies their own doctrine of depravity, as set forth in their confessions, and denies their avowed purpose for baptizing infants, namely, to cleanse them from sin, regenerate them, and make them children of God and members of the kingdom. Their prescribed rituals for baptizing infants makes this very clear. Indeed, church history abundantly shows that it was the doctrine of baptismal regeneration that led to infant baptism. If until today there had been no infant baptism, and tomorrow for the first time baptismal regeneration should be widely received, then inevitably would follow infant baptism.
"Such" in the passage, "Of such," expresses likeness rather than identity. Here it cannot mean identity. It would be absurd to say, "Of little children is the kingdom of heaven." The true lesson of the touching passage is that the imperfectly developed disciples considered those children too young and too unimportant to be thrust upon the attention of the Saviour engaged in great matters about grown people. Our Saviour promptly rebuked their error. Children, because more docile, more trustful, less bound by evil habits, less absorbed in business or other cares are more susceptible to religious impressions than adults. Prayer takes hold on them more powerfully. We should pray for them before born and when in their cradles, as well as later. We should welcome, not distrust, their interest in the Lord. The mothers did well to bring them in touch with Christ and seek his prayers in their behalf. No one of the little ones could ever forget, "The Lord noticed me. He called me to him. He took me in his arms. He prayed for me. He laid his hands on me and blessed me."
1. What contrast in the parable of the Pharisee and publican and the parable of the importunate widow?
2. To whom was the parable of the Pharisee and publican addressed?
3. What do the Pharisee and the publican each illustrate respectively concerning prayer?
4. What was the petition of the Pharisee?
5. What was the petition of the publican?
6. What was the contrast between it and the prayer of the Pharisee?
7. What are the elements of this prayer?
8. What is the literal translation of this prayer?
9. What is the bearing on justification?
10. What are the two elements in the discussion on marriage and divorce?
11. What is the primal law of marriage?
12. Then why did Moses allow divorce for a number of causes? I3. How did Moses adapt his law to the social evils of his time, and which of the elements of the Sinaitic covenant was thus adapted to their conditions?
14. What one cause alone for divorce did Christ recognize?
15. Did this law operate ipso factor Why?
16. What are the perplexing problems relative to this question?
17. What letters furnish much light on these questions?
18. What new question arises in these letters?
19. What was Paul's reply to this question?
20. What question of interpretation arises here?
21. What is the author's interpretation of Paul's language on this point and what is his proof?
22. Give a summary of this teaching.
23. What book is commended on this subject?
24. What is the present status of things relating to marriage and divorce?
25. What three imperative duties devolve upon us?
26. What is the import of Christ's words in Matthew 19:4-5?
27. What one scripture applies to the law of the woman's putting away her husband?
28. What is the meaning of "fornication"?
29. What false theory 13 mentioned and what are the three arguments against it?
30. What is the meaning of the language of the disciples in Matthew 19:10?
31. What was Christ's reply and what did he mean?
32. What are the exceptional cases where marriage is inexpedient?
33. What was the original commission of man and under what limitation was he placed with respect to it?
34. What do you think of the doctrine of celibacy for the ministry?
35. Did Jesus baptize the children and why your answer?
36. What is the argument of the defenders of infant baptism and what is the reply?
37. What is the relation of infant baptism to baptismal regeneration?