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16 He that heareth you heareth me; and he that despiseth you despiseth me; and he that despiseth me despiseth him that sent me.
This saying constitutes the Father, Christ, and the Apostles, as one authority; and the only authority to which obedience should be rendered in spiritual affairs. Where this authority rules, everything works to the self-edification of the body in love. Had its members continued faithful to this supremacy, there would have been no scope for sovereign bishops and popes. But the Divine authority fell into disuse. It was no longer, what saith the Scripture? but, what saith the Bishop? And in later times, what saith the Bishop of Rome, or the Pope?
17 And the 70 returned again with joy, saying, Lord, even the devils are subject unto us through thy name.
I am trying to formulate some mental picture of the group that accompanied Jesus. It could hardly have been less than forty or fifty. It could have been much more. We know on at least one occasion Jesus sent out seventy to preach.
What a strange sight it must have been. What an object of ridicule to the learned and sophisticated! They were of the simplest and commonest of the people. We know how limited their understanding was, right to the end. And while they were utterly devoted to Jesus, yet to the end they were small-minded and the best of them disputed who should be first.
What a background for the manifestation of God's Son! What a naturally-speaking humiliating and unimpressing presentation he made! The intellectual of the nation said in scorn, looking disdainfully at this motley, itinerant company --
"Have any of the rulers believed in him?"
They would seem like gypsies, wandering about the countryside, with no apparent means of support, and no fixed abode -- nothing normal or respectable about them.
And furthermore he did not hesitate to company with publicans and sinners. He recognized no social distinction -- no normal standards of propriety. He violated all their artificial etiquette -- he did not even wash his hands to eat.
Bro Growcott - Woman, Why Weepest Thou
18 And he said unto them, I beheld Satan as lightning fall from heaven.
This Satan, which is Sin in official manifestation, holds the power and glory of the world's dominions. They are delivered unto him, and to whomsoever he will, he gives them (Luke iv. 5,6). All the evil that afflicts humanity is "the power of the enemy," or the Satan, whether that evil be enthroned in the heaven, or be found in the poison of serpents and scorpions. But the Satan in the heavenlies is doomed; for Jesus in vision of the future, said: "I beheld the Satan as it were lightning fall out of the heaven." .
He falls thence by virtue of a stronger than the Satan breaking into the heaven and casting him out. The Satan's house or kingdom is strongly fortified against all burglars and besiegers, at present upon the earth. Under existing circumstances, there is no chance of the saints being able to make a breach, or to open a door in the heaven, to effect an entrance into it, and after the example of Cromwell and his Ironsides, to expel the Satan, and eject him with all his instruments of mischief and abomination.
But though this present inability exists, the expulsion is to be accomplished. The oracle before us proclaims "a door opened in the heaven," which is equivalent to saying, that a power had been apocalypsed on earth, stronger than the Satan; that this power had made a breach in the enemy's works; and that this breach had become practicable, so that the breaching power could march through it as through a door, and take possession of the heaven, or "kingdom under the whole heaven." (Dan. vii. 27).
...the Deity proposes to enact a great and mighty coup-d'etat, or stroke of policy, upon the world's government. He intends so to shape and overrule its ambitions and schemes, as to cause them to make the territory of His kingdom the seat of war between hostile confederacies, contending for dominion over the hundred and twenty seven provinces of Daniel's lion, bear, and leopard. "I will gather," saith He, "all the nations against Jerusalem to war; and I will bring them down into the Valley of Jehoshaphat."
"They shall pitch the tents of their entrenched camp between the seas to the mountain of the glory of holiness"; a region which in Apoc. xvi. 16, is indicated by the Hebrew word "Armageddon". This concentration of the hosts of the nations in the Holy Land, is its invasion by Gog, the Prince of Rosh, in hostility to the Merchant Power of Tarshish and its allies, then in possession of Jerusalem. But "this city shall be taken"; "and the land of Egypt shall not escape."
Advanced to this sovereignty, the Gog-dominion stands forth as "the Dragon, the Old Serpent, surnamed the Diabolos and the Satan" Apoc. xx. 2; and as the Image of the kingdom of men in its latter day manifestation, as represented to Nebuchadnezzar in his dream. In the development of these events a crisis is formed, such as the world, for magnitude and importance, has never seen before.
The Satan will then have attained to the loftiest pinnacle of the temple, with the presumption that universal sovereignty is within the grasp of his omnipotence. The heaven will be filled with his glory; and no son of sin's flesh will find admission there, whose zeal runs not in the way of a ready and devout allegiance to the God-defying principles of "the spirit that works in the children of disobedience."
But things having arrived at this crisis, under the leadership of the Lawless One, the time will have also arrived for opening a door into Satan's heaven, through which the saints may enter in. This will be done by a divine coup-d'etat such as the Satan little expects. This political stroke consists in the power represented by a Stone falling upon the enemy, and crushing them with a terrible overthrow. This STONE-POWER is the power of the Eternal Spirit in Jesus and the saints; who with sword, pestilence, rain, hail, fire and brimstone, plead with the adversary, and destroy him from the Promised Land.
In this way Yahweh makes Jerusalem "a cup of trembling, unto all the people round about when they shall be in the siege both against Judah and against Jerusalem: also a burdensome stone for all people, all that burden themselves with it shall be cut in pieces, though all the people of the earth be gathered together against it." Their multitudes and power will not appeal him. He will go forth and fight against them, and stand victorious upon the Mount of Olives, which is before Jerusalem on the east. In this way, He, who the prophet styles, Yahweh my ELOHIM comes in, "all the saints with him." In proof of all this, the reader is referred to Ezekiel, Daniel, Joel, and Zechariah.
Thus YAHWEH Elohim, the saints, "come in." By the crashing power of the Stone a door is opened, and they march in. Their Prince, who came as a thief, obtains possession of Jerusalem and the Holy Land, and becomes a potentate among the thrones, dominions, principalities, and powers of the heaven, in which, until He breaks in upon them, "the Devil and his Angels" only can be found.
25 And, behold, a certain lawyer stood up, and tempted him, saying, Master, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?
The "certain lawyer" in this case probably shared the soreness felt by the profession in general at Christ's unmeasured condemnations.
...How could such a question be a "tempting" of Christ? We may realise this when we remember that a lawyer's business was to stand up for the law and to bring punishment on those who should treasonably speak against it.
The lawyer evidently expected that Christ would speak against the law, and his question was a trap to lead Christ to do so. In view of this, how masterly was Christ's answer...
Nazareth Revisited Ch 43
28 And he said unto him, Thou hast answered right: this do, and thou shalt live.
In what way was Christ able to make such an answer in view of the truth afterwards proclaimed, that "by the deeds of the law shall no flesh be justified" (Gal. ii. 16), and that any man "justified by the law is fallen from grace?" (Gal. v. 4). We may understand if we consider the part of the law quoted by the lawyer: "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart and with all thy strength, and with all thy soul, and thy neighbour as thyself." Any man in true subjection to these precepts would be sure to submit to every further development of the will of God, and therefore to the reception of Christ as "the end of the law for righteousness to everyone that believeth" (Rom. x. 4).
Submission to God would mean submission to Christ, who came from God. The greater includes the less. Christ's answer was therefore complete, while at the same time it was a masterly evasion of the trap laid for him by the lawyer.
Nazareth Revisited Ch 43
29 But he, willing to justify himself, said unto Jesus, And who is my neighbour?
The lawyer did not like to be foiled... Christ's answer was the parable of the good Samaritan, ... It was the most telling rejoinder that could have been made to a lawyer, who is generally the last man to put himself out of the way in any attempt to go to the rescue of a stranger that has fallen among thieves.
Nazareth Revisited Ch 43
33 But a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came where he was: and when he saw him, he had compassion on him,
The Good Samaritan.
The meaning of this parable is shown by the incident that called it forth, and by the application that Christ made of it. A certain interesting young man who was rich, asked him what he must do to inherit eternal life. Jesus asked him what he found written in the law; to which, the young man responded by quoting that summary of its principles contained in the words of Moses:
"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 neighbour as thyself."
Christ's answer was: "Thou hast answered right: this do and thou shalt live." This ought to have closed the colloquy, because the question was completely answered. But we are informed that the young man was "willing to justify himself." He evidently concluded -- (probably from the manner of Christ's answer) -- that Christ implied shortcoming on his part in the desired conformity to the command; not as to God, but as to his neighbour.
He took quite a complacent view of his own case on this point. He was evidently of opinion that he not only rendered unto God the things that were God's, but that he fulfilled a neighbour's part as well, or at least that if he did not, it was for lack of opportunity. Perhaps he was one of those who retire into a comfortable corner, and shut their eyes to the miseries of their race, and who become so absorbed in their own personal affairs as to forget that there are any neighbours to love and serve; or, who at the most, think their duty in that direction discharged by a reluctant donation unsympathetically flung here Or there. "Willing to justify himself," he said, "and who is my neighbour?"
This is the question which the parable is designed to answer, and does answer. It has probably done more than anything else uttered by Christ to foster acts of disinterested kindness wherever his teaching has become influential. The parable does not introduce to notice a next-door neighbour or a fellow townsman or a compatriot, but a total stranger in faith and blood. And the man who acts the right part is not a priest or a Jew, but a detested Samaritan.
The priest and the Jew are shewn avoiding their duty.
"A certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho and fell among thieves, who stripped him of his raiment and wounded him and departed, leaving him half dead. And by chance there came down a certain priest that way, and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side. And likewise a Levite, when he was at the place, came and looked on him, and passed by on the other side. But a certain Samaritan as he journeyed came where he was, and when he saw him, he had compassion on him and went to him, and bound up his wounds, pouring in oil and wine, and set him on his own beast and brought him to an inn, and took care of him. And on the morrow, when he departed, he took out two pence, and gave them to the host, and said unto him, 'Take care of him, and whatsoever thou spendest more, when I come again, I will repay thee.' "
The application of the parable Jesus drew from the man's own mouth by a question: "Which now, of these three, thinkest thou was neighbour unto him that fell among the thieves?" There could be but one answer: "He that shewed mercy on him." What then? "Go and do thou likewise." Here is what is meant then by "Doing good unto all men as we have opportunity."
"Relieve the afflicted" when it is in your power. "Deal thy bread to the hungry; bring the poor that are cast out to thy house: when thou seest the naked, cover him: hide not thyself from thine own flesh (that is, from human nature). Then shall thy light break forth as the morning, and thine health shall spring forth speedily: and thy righteousness shall go before thee, and the glory of the Lord shall be thy reward. Then shalt thou call, and the Lord shall answer: thou shalt cry, and He shall say, 'Here am I' " (Is. lviii. 7-9).
This practical benevolence towards the afflicted is the most beautiful of all the fruits of the Spirit. It is one, however, requiring great hardihood for its cultivation. It has often to be brought forth in great bitterness. The tendency of things as regards man is to make you shut up the bowels of your compassion, and pass on with the Levite and the priest. It seems a hopeless, thankless, useless business. Nothing will keep a man to it but the constant setting of the eye on God and Christ, who have required it, and the constant realisation of the fleeting character of the state of things to which we are presently related, and the certainty of the glorious age that God has promised, which will chase away the self-denials and confusions incidental to the present evil world.
A word -- not exactly on the other side -- for there is not another side, but in deprecation of the extreme to which the helping of the distressed can be and is carried. Christ did not mean to hide any other part of the truth by telling the young man to imitate the Good Samaritan. He did not mean to say that salvation was to be found in the succouring of the destitute, though the succouring of the destitute is one of the duties connected with it. Though he shows a Jew disobedient and a Samaritan doing a neighbourly part, he did not mean to deny or cast the least discredit on what he said to the woman at the well of Samaria, concerning the Samaritans and the Jews respectively:
"Ye worship ye know not what: we (Jews) know what we worship, for salvation is of the Jews."
Nor did he mean to weaken the words he spoke to his disciples, when he told them to "Go not into the way of the Samaritans;" or when he spoke to the Syrophenician woman of the non-Jewish people as "dogs." The modern treatment of the subject calls for this remark. Where the Samaritan example is recognised at all, it is generally done with the effect of nullifying very much else of the teaching of the Spirit of God.
The doing of good to the poor in the matter of temporal supplies is made to take the place of the "righteousness of God, which is by faith in Christ Jesus." The outcast position of Adam's race is denied: the mortal and hopeless relation of man to God, both by nature and character, is not admitted: the imperative necessity for the belief of the Gospel, and submission to its requirements before men can become acceptable worshippers of God or heirs of life eternal, is completely ignored -- because of the parable of the Good Samaritan.
This is a great evil, and calls for circumspection: "We must contend earnestly for the faith once delivered to the saints," even against many who may seek to shine in the work of the Good Samaritan. We must, on the other hand, contend for the neighbourly part against those who would confine the service of Christ to the agitation of doctrines. We live in a world where there is a constant tendency to extremes; and even good itself carried to an extreme becomes evil. But there is less likelihood on the whole, perhaps, that the parable of the Good Samaritan will be overdone than that it will be overlooked. -
Nazareth Revisited Ch 28.
39 And she had a sister called Mary, which also sat at Jesus' feet, and heard his word.
There have been many comments on this brief domestic incident, and various views indulged in. People have taken Martha's part or Mary's part according to their predispositions and affinities. Some have said that Martha's request was only reasonable, and that Mary should have chosen another time for listening to Christ than just the moment when her services were wanted for housework. Others have said that Martha was a worldly woman, and was guilty of sacrilege in obtruding household affairs upon the attention of one absorbed in the words of Christ.
Those who sympathise with Martha as a practical, sensible serving woman, think she was severely dealt with. Or, if afraid to impute injustice to Christ, they explain away the force of his words by suggesting that what he meant was that Martha was getting ready too many dishes, and that only one dish was needful. Those who take strong sides with Mary consider that Martha's salvation was placed in doubt by the words of Christ, and that, in fact, Christ meant to discourage domestic industry, and to countenance even slovenliness and neglect in things pertaining to this life.
There seems no occasion for any of these extremes. Christ's life was a teaching life. It was his mission for three years and a half to manifest the mind of God on the various things that go to make up human life, and to use circumstances as they arose to that end. The domestic circumstance before us was not too insignificant to be employed in that way. It stood related to the most common form of slavery to which people subject themselves from want of enlightenment.
"Cumbered about much serving," is the peculiarity which the narrative notes about Martha; and this has always been the bane of whole classes of otherwise sensible people. It was, therefore, a matter which it was natural that Jesus should bring under his reprehension when a suitable opportunity arose. He seizes this opportunity.
He is a passing visitor. He is to be but a short time under the roof. Mary shows her appreciation of the occasion by giving her fixed attention to what Christ had to say, even to the neglect for the moment of the little ways of the household. This was reasonable in the circumstances. Martha does not show the same discernment. She is interested in the circumstance of Christ's presence, but it is not the same kind of interest. It is a social interest -- a ceremonial interest -- in which she, Martha, as hostess, will divide the honours with Christ, the guest, by a lavish display of hospitality, and a considerable fussiness of attention.
Mary's interest was a spiritual interest -- an interest in what Christ had to say of the Father's work and purpose by Him, rather than an interest in his visit as reflecting honour upon their household. The latter was the character of Martha's interest. Had Martha let well alone, her service would have been accepted at what it was worth -- not so fragrant as Mary's, still acceptable as the best she could offer. But she challenged criticism by her interruption. And Jesus did not spare: "Thou art careful and troubled about many things" -- that is, needlessly careful, needlessly troubled: much less would do in that line of things.
And is it not so with the Martha class all over the world? Their lives are eaten up with attention to the mere trivialities of life, -- a little of which is good in its place, but much of which obstructs the action of the understanding and taste in higher directions. A woman whose house is her shrine is good for nothing in the higher relations of existence. Her mind is narrowed and lowered and deteriorated and rendered insipid by constant action upon petty objects.
Cooking and dressmaking and music and etiquette are all very well as adjuncts: but without something else, the higher nature starves. If she would give herself time and occasion for the contemplation and application of the higher principles underlying life -- our relation to God and His law -- our relation to man and our duties -- her mind would have opportunity to expand to the beauty of her original type. A woman cannot be noble whose attention is confined to domesticities, though a due amount of attention to these is part of true nobility; and a woman who is not noble is no companion to the sons or daughters of God who will all be assorted on the principle of affinities around their living head by and bye.
Mary is the type of the right class. Christ's description of her gives the cue: "She hath chosen that good thing that shall not be taken away." Discernment and decision are implied in this: an eye to see what is good, and a will to choose it. The eye is the deficient part with most people -- both man and woman. They see only that which is proximately visible. The others see beyond the appearances of the day: As Paul expresses it, "We look not at the things which are seen," which are but for a moment. They look beyond to things which, though for the moment not seen, are the coming realities and not phantoms -- not imaginations -- but facts as substantial as anything we now stand related to, but much more glorious, and destined to abide when they once arrive.
God has promised them, and, therefore, men and women of the Mary class "choose them," at his invitation, and are characterised by a strong and irrepressible interest in them now while they are matters of promise. They form "that good thing, that shall not be taken away." All other things are destined to be taken away: the fashion, the social prestige, the fine establishments, possessions of every description. The Marthas, therefore, make a mistake in being troubled so much about them. A little less attention and care would do.
"One thing is (absolutely) needful" -- indispensable; and this is the one thing that almost everyone in every house, in Christ's day and ever since, agrees to consider not quite urgent, a thing that may be left alone a bit, that at least need not be a matter of great prominence or pressing arrangement. This was the one thing that transfixed Mary's attention as "she sat at Jesus' feet and heard his words," and it is the one thing that is supreme with the same class in every age and country -- the good part that will not be taken away when all human things will vanish like a dream.
This class will always be considered extreme by those who do not see with open eyes as they see; but time will justify the former. Jesus meant to emphasize this in his commendation of Mary; and it is far from a needless lesson. At the same time "he loved Martha" and appreciated her service, and has doubtless a cordial place for her in the everlasting household that will shortly be manifested in the earth. He was not anxious to condemn her. At the same time, he did not shrink to teach at her expense a lesson for all time, affecting every day and every house where there are those who desire to abide in the love of Christ.
Nazareth Revisited Ch 44