11 For whosoever exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted.
The Parable of the Lowest Place.
This, ... seems not so much what is technically understood by a parable, as a piece of preceptive counsel. Yet it is a parable in so far as it selects one sort of occasion, and one form of humility to inculcate a lesson that applies to all occasions and any form.
Invitation to partake in wedding festivities is a casual occurrence, and it would be a poor modesty that was to be confined to such occasions. It is, therefore, a parable in teaching a general lesson by a special instance. The need of the lesson may not be very apparent in modern educated circles where it has become embalmed in the forms of their etiquette: but a different feeling is created in the contemplation of either the harsh and undisguised emulations of Greek and Roman life, or Jewish life either, 1,800 years ago: or the barbarous self-assertiveness still prevalent in the vast mass of human population on the earth.
To the end of Gentile times, Christ's parable will remain the unmistakeable indication and inculcation of the kind of behaviour that is acceptable with him. He emphasized the lesson with the immediate remark:
"Whosoever exalteth himself shall be abased: and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted."
The lesson may have no power with the mass of men, but it will to the last prevail with those who conform to the mind of Christ with the docility and zeal of true disciples. A modest and retiring disposition everywhere is more or less the indirect result of the commandment which took shape in this parable.
Nazareth Revisited Ch 30.
14 And thou shalt be blessed; for they cannot recompense thee: for thou shalt be recompensed at the resurrection of the just.
The Reward - Rev 11:18
"The time of the dead" was, not only for the judicial separation and exclusion of the unworthy, and the strengthening, or quickening, of the approved; but for the giving of "the reward to the servants the prophets, and to the saints, even to those who fear the name of the Deity, to the small and to the great." This testimony shows, that whatever "the reward" may consist in, the righteous do not obtain it until after their resurrection and strengthening.
Christ himself, in the days of his weakness and suffering, plainly taught this. "Thou shalt be recompensed," said he, "at the resurrection of the just" (Luke xiv. 14). And again, he said:
"The Son of man shall come in the glory of his Father with his angels; and THEN he shall reward every man according to his works" (Matt. xvi. 27).
This is the teaching which belongs to "the simplicity which is in Christ." Nothing can be more plain and easy to understand. The resurrection has not yet transpired, because "the time of the dead to be judged" is yet future; and because the Son of Man, who is the resurrection and the life, has not yet come with his angels in his Father's glory.
The resurrection being future, then, none of the righteous have yet received "the reward." Enoch, Elijah, Moses, and the few who came out of their graves after the resurrection of Jesus, have been "strengthened;" but even they have not received "the reward;" for this is only to be obtained upon the earth.
16 Then said he unto him, A certain man made a great supper, and bade many:
... Was it the merit of the poor, the maimed, the lame, and the blind that procured the great supper made by a certain man for his rich friends? If the procurement was unconditional, could they have enjoyed it unconditionally? Assuredly not. They could only enjoy the supper on condition of accepting the invitation, going to the house of entertainment, laying hold of the viands, masticating and swallowing them.
So with the gospel feast of Jesus Christ; it is a free gift to all the human family, and every man and woman may enjoy it on condition of accepting it, and going to the place where it is prepared; and those who will neither listen nor go, will never partake of his divine repast.
Belief, repentance, confession and baptism, or no remission in this world or the next, if the word of God means what it says; which I verily believe it does.
The Apostolic Advocate Sept 1834
18 And they all with one consent began to make excuse. The first said unto him, I have bought a piece of ground, and I must needs go and see it: I pray thee have me excused.
The "few that be saved" are of a different order, and comprise the humble and meek, the contrite, the childlike, the wise, the God-fearing, the obedient and self-sacrificing, the believing and thankful, and those in general who magnify and tremble at the Word of God, and desire the truth at any cost.
To such explorers of the divine ways, the Bible yields its hidden treasures of wisdom and knowledge.
Proof: Matt. 11:25; 16:17; Dan. 12:3, 10; John 7:17; Prov. 8:17; Psalm 25:14; Prov. 3:32; Dan. 2:19; Amos 3:7; James 1:5, 25; 2:5; Matt. 5:3-12; 13:11, 16; Isaiah 66:2; 57:15; Psalm 34:18; 51:17; 50:23.
Bro F. R. Shuttleworth - TC 01/1872.
26 If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple.
In what sense were they to hate father and mother, sister and brother, husband and wife? In Matthew 10 he says "Think not that I am come to send peace on earth," -- that is, at that time. "I came not to send peace but a sword," and the history of the world since that time has shown the truth of his words. "I am come to set son against father." How? Let history illustrate.
Sons who received Christ were estranged from fathers who did not receive him. They could only retain their friendship by denying Christ, but Christ called upon them to hate father rather than let love of father induce them to please father by rejecting him. They were not to love father more than him. He demanded to be put first. His words are "He that loveth father or mother more than me, is not worthy of me," and "he that findeth his life shall lose it."
Bro Roberts - Was Jesus of Nazareth The Messiah?
27 And whosoever doth not bear his cross, and come after me, cannot be my disciple.
True discipleship is a work of soberness, of calm, fixed and determined purpose. No man can properly enter on it who does not resolve by the grace of God to fulfil all His requirements, and make it the prevailing and dominating business of his life. It will cost the mortification of sin, a life of self-denial, and a conflict with one's own lusts, as well as the enmity and ridicule of contemporaries. It may cost us our liberties and our life, and all that is dear to us -- but, as the apostle Paul states: "What things were gain to me, I counted loss for Christ..." (Phil. 3:7-8). We watch the Lord in his last hours and listen to his voice, and thereby learn the real spirit of discipleship. - GEM, Logos.
28 For which of you, intending to build a tower, sitteth not down first, and counteth the cost, whether he have sufficient to finish it?
It is no light matter to become a Christadelphian.
Jesus might well say to the people that were following him in crowds,
"If any man is not prepared to sacrifice everything for me, he cannot be my disciple." "Which of you," says he,
"wants to build a tower, and does not first sit down and count whether he is able to do it?"
It is no very small matter to believe the truth-though a very easy and pleasant thing. The truth is so clear and so glorious in itself, that this believing it is the easiest part of our duty; but we may nevertheless fail to become Christ's servants in deed and in truth.
It is in the doing of Christ's word that we gain the victory. It is in the keeping of his commandments that we have great reward. In the keeping of these, we must needs fellowship his sufferings, and shall then find his companionship at the table a new and delightful and a very profitable thing.
Ambassador of the Coming Age, Nov 1868
33 So likewise, whosoever he be of you that forsaketh not all that he hath, he cannot be my disciple.
The eternal reward we claim to treasure so highly and seek so devotedly is perfection, spirituality, holiness, freedom from all the motions and lusts of the flesh, closeness to God, total godliness in thought and action.
How badly do we really want this condition, and what are we really willing to give up to get it?
If we are not willing to sacrifice EVERYTHING else, and drop everything else in this life to strive for perfection in these divine things, then we reveal that our professed devotion to them and desire for them is shallow and weak. We really want the pleasure of this life and the flesh -- and then God LATER, when this life is over, and the flesh is worn out and has lost its excitement and appeal.
Giving up what we have ceased to enjoy is no sacrifice. God wants our best NOW, not our dregs.
Often we do not recognize failure because we do not realize what success could be.
There are only two ways to be: only two sides to take -- God's side and the flesh's side. We have got to be all the way over on God's side in everything. We cannot mix it. We cannot have half-and-half.
Salvation depends on TOTAL choice of God's side of every decision, every issue, every choice, every activity. Face it: it's for your life.
We never see a finer thing than love on earth.
We don't see it often in its perfect form, because the conditions necessary for its full play are rarely met with. There is plenty of the abundant scope for the love that takes the form of benevolence: kindness to the afflicted, attention to the humble and poorly-gifted, and almsgiving to the poor.
These are godly manifestations, and satisfying to the doer; but the glowing attachment that is gendered by the mutual exhibition of excellence-the luxury of requited noble love-is a flower of heaven that grows not by the way-side.
It is to be met with in secret corners, now and then, blooming like the violet unseen, and coming never to maturity then, unless the good seed of the kingdom is the germ of the flower.
In the Captain of our Salvation, the conditions of love exist in their fulness. Presented to us as the object of supreme attachment-attachment to whom is the indispensable condition of discipleship-we have in him, as Paul expresses it,
"all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.-(Colos. 2:3.)
He is the wisdom of God, manifested in an individual of our race. He is the "power of God:" to whom is committed all power in heaven and in earth. He is the goodness of God:
"God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself."-(2 Cor. 5:19.)
Wisdom, power, excellence, goodness, and authority combine to make him altogether lovely, and this loveliness is made to shine with greater power into our hearts by the fact that he died for and gives life to us, but for which we should never have risen above the level of the perishing races around.
We can love him without danger of recoil. No inferior manifestation on his part will ever cool our ardour or tire our preference. He is the focus of the covenanted goodness; the head of the body; the centre of the circle, the nucleus of the glorious family, the beginning of the new creation; the spirit of the system; the life of the community.
"As is the heavenly, such are they also that are heavenly."
The body is a common nature with the head. The younger members of the family bear resemblance to the Elder Brother. The wisdom, nobility, and love of the head radiate to the utmost member, and impart a contour of beauty and health to the whole alike.
We may not see this illustrated at present. The one body, of whom these things are affirmed, is only in process of development. Its principal constituents are in the womb of the night. The gates of hades enclose the multitude of sleeping saints. The few who are in the land of the living are set in ungodly surroundings, and in association with many who have the name but not the spirit of the calling.
In the family as it exists in the state of probation, there is much that is adventitious and destined to be rejected. This is needful to the effectual proving of the genuine. The aspect of the family in the land of the living will disappoint those who consider it in the light of its divine ideal. They make a discouraging mistake who look to find the heavenly excellences in every professed member of the bride.
Only a few will be saved. The divine ideal will not be realised till "all the children of God scattered abroad (living and dead,) are gathered together in one," (John 11:52; ) and presented to Christ by himself, a glorious ecclesia, without spot or wrinkle, or any such thing.-(1 Eph. 5:27).
Keeping the eye on this, faith can feed, and purpose in Christ grow strong. We can see in the future a whole family of glorious sons and daughters, among whom will be no liars, cold hearts or fools-a community of righteous men in perfect health, with boundless wealth, unwearying faculty, overflowing love, and everlasting joy.
The Christadelphian, Aug 1871
34 Salt is good: but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be seasoned?
Lesson from the Meal offering (Lev 2): - There must be zest for acceptable service. Perfunctory or grudging service is an offering without a salty savour.