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1 Then said he unto the disciples, It is impossible but that offences will come: but woe unto him, through whom they come!
2 It were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and he cast into the sea, than that he should offend one of these little ones.
3 Take heed to yourselves: If thy brother trespass against thee, rebuke him; and if he repent, forgive him.
4 And if he trespass against thee 7 times in a day, and 7 times in a day turn again to thee, saying, I repent; thou shalt forgive him.
They were not only to avoid causes of stumbling, but even when such had arisen, they were to endeavour to extricate those who had stumbled -- with a patience that was to go to the extremest limit: "seventy times seven."
It is in fact an inculcation of the reverse sentiment from that which animated Cain when he said, "Am I my brother's keeper?"
Christ means to say we are our brother's keeper to a certain extent, and Paul, his servant, carries the idea to an extent much beyond what men in our age are disposed to recognise. In his argument about the conscientious scruples of brethren in matters of eating and drinking, he says,
"If thy brother be grieved with thy meat, now walkest thou not charitably. Destroy not him with thy meat for whom Christ died ... It is good neither to eat flesh nor to drink wine, nor anything whereby thy brother stumbleth, or is offended or is made weak."
It is manifest that by the law of Christ, we are under an obligation to consider the bearing of our actions upon others. If we are indifferent on this head, we may find ourselves unexpectedly confronted with unknown responsibilities in the day of account. *
10 So likewise ye, when ye shall have done all those things which are commanded you, say, We are unprofitable servants: we have done that which was our duty to do.
Man, as a created being, owes it to God to obey His commandments. God has associated our highest well-being with it. God's approval of the performance of our obligation, and the recompense He purposes are all of His favour. There is no claim on our part. We do our duty: we do not profit God in this. We cannot profit Him. "We are unprofitable servants," in this sense. The profit is all on our side.
Boastful sentiment is barbarous. Even complacency is offensive. Only the attitude of humility is reasonable. *
Let us ever keep that saying of Christ in mind. It is a healthy and wholesome view. ALL that we have and are belongs to God, by right. It is no special virtue to use everything in His service: it's our common duty.
We are very deeply PRIVILEGED to be allowed to use God's goods in His service and to be "fellow-workers" with Him.
We can never give God an infinitesimal fraction of what He has given and has promised us. Stamp your heel promptly and decisively on any stupid stirring of self-glory or self-satisfaction: God hates such folly. If doing ALL is still unprofitable, what is God's judgment of those who do even less?
12 And as he entered into a certain village, there met him ten men that were lepers, which stood afar off:
Journeying towards Jerusalem, on the highway passing through the Roman provinces of Galilee and Samaria, Jesus and his disciples were met near a certain village by a company of lepers. The lepers, numbering ten, did not come close, but kept at the distance which their diseased condition required. "They stood afar off." That a company of men in their condition should associate together is not wonderful, considering the complete insulation from the rest of the community which the law and custom imposed upon them.
Though insulated, they had heard of Jesus and his wondrous healing power: and now saw their opportunity had come. Perhaps they travelled on the highway at this time in the hope of meeting him. At all events, seeing their opportunity, they seized it. Though standing afar off, they arrested the attention of Jesus by their signals, and at the top of their voices implored him to have mercy on them. *
13 And they lifted up their voices, and said, Jesus, Master, have mercy on us.
Jesus, whose mercy was never appealed to in vain, complied with their wishes in an indirect mode. *
14 And when he saw them, he said unto them, Go shew yourselves unto the priests. And it came to pass, that, as they went, they were cleansed.
"Go shew yourselves to the priests!" They knew what this meant. The law required a cured leper to shew himself to the priest. Though the priests were Christ's enemies, and though he had to condemn them in toto, yet as himself under the law (Gal. iv. 4) he was obedient to the law, because it was God's law, and therefore directed this melancholy group of social outcasts to do as the law required.
They were not slow to catch his meaning, and at once departed with all speed to the nearest priest. As they went along with the ardour of new hope, they felt in themselves that their disease was arrested, and that in fact a sound state had set in. The power of God in Christ had rectified the functional disorder that caused the disease, and they experienced the joyful sensation of being healed. They would no doubt exchange remarks on the subject. *
16 And fell down on his face at his feet, giving him thanks: and he was a Samaritan.
One of them was so impressed that he left the other nine to go forward, and turned back to where Christ was, and threw himself down at his feet with overflowing thanksgiving for the benefit he had received. "With a loud voice he glorified God." The man was not a Jew, but a stranger -- a Samaritan. Jesus took notice of the fact, and found no fault with him, but the reverse. Why were not the others with him? *
19 And he said unto him, Arise, go thy way: thy faith hath made thee whole.
Many are the benefits conferred. Life is a string of benefactions from the cradle to the grave. "He giveth unto all life and breath and all things." Why do so few recognise their obligation? Why are there so few to give hearty thanks? Why is it that praise to God for common mercies should seem cant and sentiment?
Because the minds of few are exercised to discern the roots and relations of things; and this is the result of the unhappy situation of things upon earth when mankind are left to govern themselves instead of being taken charge of and led by God who made them, who only knows the right conditions of human life and development, and who will yet set up a kingdom that will govern and guide them all.
It is for those, meanwhile, to whom it may have been given to see wisdom in the matter, to decline the example of the absent nine and their countless companions; and to imitate the tenth, in obedience to the apostolic command,
"In everything give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you" (1 Thess. v. 18). *
20 And when he was demanded of the Pharisees, when the kingdom of God should come, he answered them and said, The kingdom of God cometh not with observation:
'with observation' - (public demonstration)
21 Neither shall they say, Lo here! or, lo there! for, behold, the kingdom of God is within you.
'within you' - (among you)
That the reference was to his own presence among them is made certain by the remark he immediately added:
"The days come when ye shall desire to see one of the days of the Son of Man and shall not see it." (v22)
He was with them then -- in their midst: and his presence in the capacity of the King inviting to a future inheritance of the Kingdom was the only form in which the Kingdom was to be looked for at that time. By and bye, he would be gone, and it would be no longer affirmable that "the Kingdom of God was among them."
Why he should identify himself with the Kingdom is not difficult of apprehension when we realise that he is the kernel and root of all that the Kingdom will ever be when established over all the earth. The Kingdom, when it comes, will be but his power organically applied in the locality and constitution of things foreshewn in the prophets. He was the Kingdom in the germ.
It was in this sense that the people sang on the occasion of his triumphal entry into Jerusalem a little later:
"Blessed is the Kingdom of our father David that cometh in the name of the Lord."
It was, therefore, permissible for him to tell the Pharisees, in answer to their question when the Kingdom was coming, that it was already come and actually in their midst, though without the outward show of a political institution. The statement was a rebuke of their blindness. *
30 Even thus shall it be in the day when the Son of man is revealed.
The difficulty lies here: the subject of the remarks is apparently the second coming of the Son of Man, and yet they refer to events connected with the impending overthrow of the Jewish nation and the destruction of Jerusalem, as where he counsels flight from the midst of destruction, reminding them of Lot's wife; and speaks of the gathering of vultures to a dead body (the gathering of the Romans to prey on the carcase of the Jewish party). How came two such apparently widely separated subjects to be interwoven one with another? We may find our answer if we go back and take our stand with Christ at the time he uttered the words.
Looking forward from that point of time, the events would not seem so far separated as they do to us. In fact, in a sense, they were actually part and parcel of one another. Looking forward, the long-foretold overthrow of the Jewish state was the immediately proximate and impending event. It would fill the mental sky of the beholder. It was to happen within the life-time of that generation (Matt. xxiv. 34).
It was to happen after Christ's departure from his disciples, but it was associated with the idea of his personal co-operation and presence: for he was to be alive, with "all power in heaven and earth in his hands." The infliction of judgment on Jerusalem was to be by "the King sending forth his armies, destroying those murderers, and burning up their city" (Matt. xxii. 7). It was therefore in a sense a coming of Christ in judgment: not an appearing, but a coming. He was alive and there to take part.
The idea of his personal though unseen participation in the events of the period is countenanced by the fact that he appeared to Saul of Tarsus on the way to Damascus, saying, with reference to Paul's antagonism to believers, "Why persecutest thou me?" also by his declaration to John in Patmos, that he walked in the midst of the golden candlesticks (this is, the ecclesias), and that if certain did not repent, he would come on them as a thief, and they would not know when (Rev. iii. 3). It is not an act of the imagination, therefore if we realise his cooperation in the events that devastated the land in destroying judgment long-gathered up.
This harmonises all the allusions of the discourse under consideration. A day of judgment had come in Noah's day, a day of judgment had come in Lot's day. In both cases, the approach of the day was disregarded. So it would be in the day of judgment fast hastening upon Israel, when He, Jesus ("first suffering many things and rejected of that generation, but afterwards raised and glorified"), would come upon them as a thief, invisible, but powerful for their destruction. *
36 Two men shall be in the field; the one shall be taken, and the other left.
Those who obeyed his instructions would be thus "taken" from the midst of the judgment: those who did not would be "left." Where? Why, where the vultures were about to gather to fatten on Israel's carcase. Such directions could not apply to the incidents of his second appearing in power and great glory, when the gathering of his household is for judgment, and not left to their will, but effected by angelic agency. *
Nazareth Revisited Ch 47