2 And he sent them to preach the kingdom of God, and to heal the sick.
6 And they departed, and went through the towns, preaching the gospel, and healing every where.
By comparing v2 and v6...
... it is clear that to preach the kingdom is to preach the gospel, and to preach the gospel is to preach the kingdom of God.
This is a most important demonstration, for it enables us to determine when we hear the gospel. The gospel is not preached when the things of the kingdom are omitted. And this is one grand defect in modern preaching; either there is nothing said about the kingdom, or a kingdom is preached which is a mere matter of speculation, a kingdom of heaven in principle, in the hearts of men, or somewhere beyond the skies!
But, the gospel does not treat of such a kingdom as this, a mere fiction indoctrinated into men's minds by "the cunning craftiness of those who lie in wait to deceive." So inseparable is the idea of gospel from that of kingdom, that we find them not only substituted for each other, but associated together as terms of explanation.
Thus, "Jesus went throughout every city and village, preaching and showing the glad tidings of the kingdom of God" (Luke 8:1; Mark 1:14); and in the prophecy of Mount Olivet it is written, "THIS gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the habitable (EN HOLE OIKOUMENE, the Roman empire) for a testimony to all the nations: and then shall come the end" (Matt. 24:14).
Elpis Israel 2.1.
23 And he said to them all, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me.
Such are these words of Christ. It requires time even to find out all that they mean-in fact, it seems that this process of fathoming their full implications is endless-and it takes further time to adjust ourselves to these implications as they unfold. No one could ever feel within himself that he had completely exhausted their meaning and satisfied their requirements.
Bro Growcott - Let Me First Bury My Father
Have we "lost our lives for Christ's sake?"-that is, given them over totally to his service? Only such, he says, will save them eternally.
With most people, religion - if they have any at all - is a self-pleasing hobby: and a part-time hobby at that. They do what they like, and they set their own limits of what they consider reasonable service to God - an hour or so a day, and they think they are heroes.
It can be the same with Christadelphians. We have the same self-deceptive flesh and hearts as everyone else: go through the motions, attend a fair number of the meetings, enjoy the association - but spend most of the life on self-pleasing and puttering about with the rubbish of the world, just like everyone else. Can we honestly feel this is enough to cause God to perpetuate us eternally, and let all the world perish? Is that reasonable? Do the Scriptures give us ground to expect it? Paul said-
"It is no longer I that live, but Christ liveth in me"
Everything we do must be Christ living in us. Paul told the Colossians-
"Whatsoever you do, do it as to the Lord"
This is just as much a divine command as "Believe and be baptized." Every activity of life must be purified and sanctified this way, as something done for Christ. This applies to everything - even the most humdrum and commonplace things. It is all or nothing, for it is a Way of Life, and part-time service is hypocrisy.
Bro Growcott - What Doth the Lord Require of Thee?
24 For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: but whosoever will lose his life for my sake, the same shall save it.
'...the way to the kingdom is a way of suffering for all -- necessitated by the prevalence of sin, and the moral need for humiliation and proof before exaltation...
It is "hard" only to a dark state of mind -- the state of mind that does not rightly estimate the vanity of human life -- that is not open to the reality of the work of God done in the earth through Moses and the prophets, Jesus and the apostles. To such a mind, it seems "hard" to lose anything now, for lack of faith in the connection between the losing and the getting promised....
A man must die; what can he gain by mortal success if it is at the expense of Christ's favour who can give life? His coming is compared to a time of harvest reaping. Let the analogy be followed. A farmer would think it "hard" to put his seed in the ground if he did not believe it would come up again multifold. But believing this, he cheerfully submits to the present loss.
So the man who clearly and confidently realises that letting life go now will lead to the keeping thereof in the day of Christ, when all mere natural life will wither like the flowers, can let it go. The words, of course, had special force at a time when the reception of the faith of Christ was about to become a capital offence in all the world; but they have not lost their force as a general truth, that a man to be an accepttable friend of Christ in the day of his coming, must be content to forego the world's favour in an age when the world is Christ's enemy. Men find this "hard." "He that is able to receive it, let him receive it."
Nazareth Revisited Ch 37
26 For whosoever shall be ashamed of me and of my words, of him shall the Son of man be ashamed, when he shall come in his own glory, and in his Father's, and of the holy angels.
The penalty incurred by neglecting to watch and keep the garments, is expressed in the words, "that he walk not naked, and they see his shame". When a body comes out of the dust of the ground, and there is impressed or written upon its organization a character previously developed in a former state, if that character be bad, such a person is said to "walk naked", even though he might be abundantly supplied with clothes.
He is morally naked, and certain to be put to shame. Being morally naked, he will continue to walk naked, in the sense of not being "clothed upon with the house which is from heaven;" that is, his earthy body will not be transformed into an identity with the spirit-body of the Lord Jesus. He will be dealt with judicially after the example of the first man, who, after receiving sentence of death, was "driven" with shame from the Divine Presence, to live awhile in sorrow and pain, and then to die and rot in the dust from whence he came (Gen. 3:24).
Such is the unhappy future of those "who profess to know God, but in works deny him;" and who, being "in Christ Jesus, walk after the flesh". After this order, "they come forth into a resurrection of condemnation," in which they reap of the flesh the corruption due to what they have thereunto sown.
But, the first man of the earth was put to shame before a plurality of Divine Personages. This is evident from the narrative, which records the saying of the Judge, who remarked, "Behold the man is as one of us, knowing good and evil". The "us" is indicative of the associates of the speaker, styled by MOSES YAHWEH ELOHIM. These it was who, in the language of our text, "Saw his shame". This Court of Assize in Eden, which condemned the man of the earth to remain earthy unto death because of one offence, is the type, or example, of the future Court of Assize in Teman, where his earthy representatives, who come forth from the dust as he, will be tried, or scrutinized, and justified or condemned, "according to their works".
As in the case of the first human pair, this justification and condemnation will be pronounced and carried into effect before a plurality of dignitaries. In relation to the condemned, this is indicated in the word bleposi "THEY see" his shame. If it be inquired, who are the "they," it must be admitted, that the words of [Rev] ch. 16:15, do not inform us. The exposition, however, I have given, will supply this lack.
The man of the earth condemned to walk naked in his shame, will stand in the presence of the Lord Jesus, of the angels of his power, and of the justified constituents of the Perfect Man, all of whom will be embodiments of the power or spirit of the Eternal Father.
This "I" who comes "as a thief upon the sons of night, is the "they" who see the shame of the earthborns, who are sentenced to condemnation with the world. And this interpretation is in harmony with the words of Jesus, who saith in Luke 12:8, "whosoever shall confess me before men, him shall the Son of Man also confess before the angels of the Deity, and before my Father who is in heaven;" and "whosoever shall be ashamed of me, and of my words, of him shall the Son of Man be ashamed when he shall come in his own glory, and the Father's, and of the Holy Angels" (Luke 9:26): "I will deny him before my Father" (Matt. 10:33).
So that what we confess, or deny, and do in the present state, will define our moral standing at the bar of the Divine Court of Teman; where "they who have been accounted worthy to obtain of that aion (the Resurrection-Aion) and of the resurrection from among the dead (which gives entrance into it) are equal to the angels:" all else are repudiated, or denied, and put to shame before all "his servants, both small and great," whether angels, or constituents of the Perfect Man.
27 But I tell you of a truth, there be some [Peter and John and James v 28] standing here, which shall not taste of death, till they see the kingdom of God.
Christ was now to show something that would not be open to any suggestion of this sort -- something affecting his own person.
The transfiguration - The immediate disciples of Christ, whom he was to leave behind him in the tempest of persecution that would arise in consequence of the testimony for his resurrection, stood in need of special strengthening for the difficult part they had to perform...
His transfiguration would shew them more conclusively than anything could, that the Messiahship of Jesus was not and could not be "a cunningly devised fable." In his own person, he would show in advance the glory of his power and coming of which he so frequently spoke.
How powerfully it affected the minds of the three apostles who beheld it is manifest from the words of Peter referred to:
"We have not followed cunningly devised fables when we made known unto you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eye-witnesses of his majesty, for he received from God the Father, honour 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" (2 Pet. i. 16-18).
The event thus referred to, occurred immediately after the conversation about what men thought of Christ.
Nazareth Revisited Ch 37.
28 And it came to pass about an eight days after these sayings, he took Peter and John and James, and went up into a mountain to pray.
Ceasarea Philippi a mountainous region
29 And as he prayed, the fashion of his countenance was altered, and his raiment was white and glistering.
The transfiguration is on a par with the conception of Christ and all his miracles. It was a phenomenon of divine energy specifically directed, and one that can have no difficulty for students of nature who have realised how universal and subtle is the potency of the electric force of the universe, and how easily under appropriate excitations, dead and lustreless things can be made to glow with blinding brightness.
Grant (as the facts in connection with Christ compel you to grant) the operation of the Father, through his Spirit, and nothing is impossible or too hard to understand. Christ was exhibited in glory that the disciples might see what it was they were related to, and have such assurance as would qualify them to maintain a testimony by-and-by against all the world.
30 And, behold, there talked with him two men, which were Moses and Elias:
31 Who appeared in glory, and spake of his decease which he should accomplish at Jerusalem.
They listen while the three men "in glory" talk. What is the topic of conversation? "They spake of his decease which he should accomplish at Jerusalem." Is not this the very climax of the interesting and sublime? We had Jesus a few days before instructing the disciples on this very subject, which naturally lay near his heart. We had Peter protesting, and Peter rebuked; and now here is the very same matter made the theme of communication among exalted personages, "appearing in glory."
Such a conversation could not fail to strengthen Jesus in prospect of his suffering; and it must have been equally powerful to send home to the hearts of the three disciples the fact which he had sought to impress upon them -- that he must die. Nothing could more strikingly shew the importance of the place occupied by the death of Christ in the scheme of God's love and wisdom, than this conversation of three men "in glory."
32 But Peter and they that were with him were heavy with sleep: and when they were awake, they saw his glory, and the two men that stood with him.
33 And it came to pass, as they departed from him, Peter said unto Jesus, Master, it is good for us to be here: and let us make three tabernacles; one for thee, and one for Moses, and one for Elias: not knowing what he said.
How they were able to recognise men they had never seen, and whose portraits the law of God deprived them of the means of being acquainted with, may appear a difficulty at first sight. The difficulty disappears if we take into account the presence and power of the Spirit of God, which evolved the whole manifestation and embraced the three onlookers in its power. This presence affected them physically.
The disciples were there to see and know, and, therefore, the Spirit of God would impart to them intuitively the knowledge that the two men were Moses, the representative of the law, and Elijah, the most notable of the prophets -- by whose presence the work and person of Christ were thus demonstrably associated with the whole work of God with Israel from the beginning.
Nazareth Revisited Ch 37
44 Let these sayings sink down into your ears: for the Son of man shall be delivered into the hands of men.
45 But they understood not this saying, and it was hid from them, that they perceived it not: and they feared to ask him of that saying.
Why were they afraid to ask further light? Because these things that Jesus was saying were disturbing and did not fit in with their conception of what lay before them. They did not want to face the implications of his words. Their minds were full of his coming glory, and their respective ranks of honour around his throne-see the next verse, where they contended among themselves who should be greatest.
It would have been better for them to have faced their fears, and asked him what he meant. They would have been better prepared for the ordeal to come, and braced against the hopeless despair that engulfed them at his crucifixion.
"Fools and slow of heart to believe all the prophets have written!"
How natural to close our eyes to unpleasant truths, but how comforting on the other hand to be fortified in a time of trouble by a clear perception beforehand that all is in harmony with a glorious divine plan!
Bro Growcott - Let Me First Bury My Father
51 And it came to pass, when the time was come that he should be received up, he stedfastly set his face to go to Jerusalem,
Received up - put on immortality.
Before it could take place, he must go to Jerusalem and go through the appointed terrible ordeal waiting him there, concerning which he said, "I have a baptism to be baptised with: and how am I straitened till it be accomplished." He seems at this time to face the prospect with what might almost be considered painful determination. This seems to be the significance of the statement that "he steadfastly set his face to go to Jerusalem."
He had hitherto lingered along in the neighbourhood of the Galilean lake, preaching the word to multitudes and healing their sick. He now realised that the time had come for the next move -- a move towards darkness, trouble, and death. He knew the issue of it all -- in life and light and joy: still it required an effort to take the path down into the valley of suffering that must be traversed before he could emerge on the heights beyond.
"He steadfastly set his face to go to Jerusalem." He was to return from Jerusalem and make a second visit to Galilee, but the ultimate purpose and end of his journey was what was most before his mind. With this view, "he sent messengers before his face:" that is, he sent disciples ahead of him to make the needful practical arrangements for a journey to Jerusalem coincident with the feast of tabernacles.
Nazareth Revisited Ch 39
52 And sent messengers before his face: and they went, and entered into a village of the Samaritans, to make ready for him.
53 And they did not receive him, because his face was as though he would go to Jerusalem.
What village it was we are not told: but it was one that was strongly infected with the jealous hatred that divided the Samaritans from the Jews; for when they ascertained that this small travelling band of Galileans were en route for Jerusalem, they refused them the temporary accommodation they desired.
Had they been proposing a visit to Mount Gerizim, or any other locality that implied a recognition of the Samaritan claims, they would have been full of courteous civilities, no doubt: but they had no hospitality for men who proclaimed by their attitude that the claim of Samaria, inherited from the appointments of Jeroboam, was without divine foundation. This was natural. These villagers were acting according to their light, which was darkness.
The only alternative was to patiently endure the incivility, and pass on. But the disciples were not yet enlightened enough for that. They were aflame against the insult offered them, and knowing it was directed against the very Son of God, and that the power of God was on their side, their impulse was to use that power in avengement of the affront. They appealed in this spirit to Christ...
Nazareth Revisited Ch 39
54 And when his disciples James and John saw this, they said, Lord, wilt thou that we command fire to come down from heaven, and consume them, even as Elias did?
And James the son of Zebedee, and John the brother of James; and he surnamed them Boanerges, which is, The sons of thunder (Mk 3: 17).
Sons of Thunder-which suggests that they were fiery men, of zealous mind and prompt action.
What was required : The spirit of saving men from their sins.
55 But he turned, and rebuked them, and said, Ye know not what manner of spirit ye are of.
...that is, the spirit to which they were related-the calling to which they had been called.
They knew what their individual spirits were; but Jesus meant to say that they did not comprehend the spirit of their calling; for he said, the Son of Man had not come to destroy men's lives, but to save them.
The disciples, however, were right to a certain extent. The destruction of the rebellious is a divine purpose. Christ came to save men's lives, but it is also true that he is coming to destroy them. The disciples were wrong in the sense of being premature, and, perhaps, wrong in the particular motive that actuated them.
Bro Roberts - Sunday Morning No. 8.
56 For the Son of man is not come to destroy men's lives, but to save them. And they went to another village.
That is, they did not understand the spirit applicable to that phase of the work to which they had been called, which was one, not of executing judgment, but of offering salvation: -- "The Son of Man is not come to destroy men's lives but to save them." The "spirit" pertaining to such a work was that of "giving place to wrath," "enduring grief," "suffering wrongfully," threatening not when abused; reviling not again when reviled, rather turning the cheek to the smiter, than calling fire from heaven upon him -- as was afterwards abundantly indicated by the teaching of the Spirit of God in the apostolic writings.
This does not preclude the divinely revealed determination, that when the time arrives, for which all this patient submission to evil is a preliminary discipline, the saints will take the sword in hand and inflict long-slumbering retribution, and break in pieces the institutions of the present evil world and rule the nations with a rod of iron.
Nazareth Revisited Ch 39
Our minds go back a little way: "And they said, Lord, teach us to pray. And he said, Pray ye on this wise: Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive them that trespass against us." How quickly this beautiful lesson of love was forgotten!
"Even as Elias did." How glibly we justify our natural desires by some eagerly-grasped Scripture that suits our end!-"Abraham was rich" . . "Daniel had great authority" . . "Solomon lived in splendor" . . "Moses led an army." The whole life and teaching of Jesus was of the spirit of lowly gentleness and kindness, but it is this fiery instance in the life of Elijah that immediately comes to their mind-because it fitted in with their feelings.
They little realized the exalted nobility of the purpose that centered in Christ. There was no room there for petty personal resentment. He saw men broadly as sheep without a shepherd, seeking rest and finding none. Even in their blind abuse of him, he pitied them, for they but vented on him the bitterness of their own frustration and futility.
This instance illustrates how difficult it is to seek scriptural guidance with an open mind, and how easy it is to find just what we are looking for. What assurance then have we ever that we are not self-deceived? Narrow is the way, he said, and few there be that find it. Few there be that even FIND it! But still the unchanging promise is-
"Ye shall find Me-when ye seek for Me with all your heart."
Millions are seeking with varying degrees of earnestness and effort, but few put their whole heart and soul into it, to the exclusion of all else.
This is the only guarantee of success. This is the only possible hope of success. One sole and all-exclusive purpose-
"If thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of light."
"A double minded man is unstable in all his ways" (Jam. 1:8).
Divided interests and affections lead only to endless mental turmoil. Lukewarmness is an abomination to both God and man. God gives us a positive guarantee of failure before we start if we do not throw ourselves into His service with wholehearted zeal. Those who attempt to serve two masters lose any real enjoyment and satisfaction that they might have derived from either service.
Bro Growcott - Let Me First Bury My Father
58 And Jesus said unto him, Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man hath not where to lay his head.
He was not allowed to use the miraculous power bestowed upon Him, for the provision of His personal wants, though He fed a crowd of 5,000 persons with a few loaves and fishes. Yet He had to live. He was a poor man...How was He provided for? The providence of God was visible in the raising up of friends "who ministered unto Him of their substance" (Luke 8: 3).
Ways of Providence Ch 23
59 And he said unto another, Follow me. But he said, Lord, suffer me first to go and bury my father.
60 Jesus said unto him, Let the dead bury their dead: but go thou and preach the kingdom of God.
"Lord, suffer me first to go and bury my father."
Jesus replied to him-"Let the dead bury their dead."
What a thing to say at such a time! A hard saying, indeed. Of course, human commentators explain it away. They say that the man meant, "Let me stay with my aged father until he dies." Instead of letting it "sink down into their ears," and seeking to extract divine wisdom from it, they attempt to water it down and thus escape its searching, transforming power-
"Let the dead bury their dead: but go thou and preach the Kingdom of God."
Would he stop to bury his father if a flood or tornado were sweeping down on him? Would he stop to care for the dead if his living friends were in dire and immediate need of his help? It is all a question of relative values.
He took his call too lightly. Men had been living and dying for thousands of years and were to do so for thousands more. Many had been buried and many had not, it was all the same in the end. But here was the turning point in God's plan of the Ages that would triumphantly sweep death from the earth.
In the fullness of time God had sent forth His Son, and this very moment he was saying personally to him, "I need you NOW, follow me!" The words still rang in the air. And the man said, "I can't make it right away, I have something else to do first." And so his great moment passed.
He did not realize-and how hard it is to realize-the utter insignificance of natural things. He was not ready when the call came. He hesitated. He had other things on his mind. Suddenly confronted with a decision, he failed. How important to be ready beforehand-to have laid the right foundation during the time of opportunity!
The lesson and the type is clear. "See that that day come not upon you unawares." Be ready. Keep your lamps trimmed and full of oil. Get mentally adjusted to the relative values of natural and spiritual things, so that when He once more shakes not the earth only, but heaven also, and many things that seemed well-grounded begin to rock and sway, and a decision is suddenly thrust upon us, we shall have the discernment to distinguish what to hold fast to-and what to let go.
Bro Growcott - Let Me First Bury My Father
61 And another also said, Lord, I will follow thee; but let me first go bid them farewell, which are at home at my house.
The human mind easily gives in to present facts, or rather, the impression they make, and these impressions are generally in the contrary direction to wisdom and well-being. Youth would eat unwholesome things and walk in hurtful ways, because they are pleasant for the time being, and do not, in their first impressions, show him the mischief.
Knowledge, parentally enforced where there is wisdom, steps in and says, "Don't." The child either has loving confidence in the restriction, and submits willingly to the disagreeable denial, to find out afterwards the sweetness of wisdom; or dislikes the "Don't," and yields only to compulsion, but afterwards to discover the same lesson.
Youth grown up, i.e., men and women, old and young, shows the same tendency to be led by the appearance of things, but lacks, in the absence of the kingdom of God, the guidance which is the privilege of some children. In most things, they judge by proximate sensations, and consequently go astray.
It is pleasant to be free from restraint, and therefore, they go, "every one to his own way," to find at last that the pleasant ways of the natural man incline to darkness and death.
It is irksome to watch daily at the gates of wisdom, waiting at the posts of her door; therefore, wisdom is made to lie on the library shelf, or under the table, or behind the door, or in the yard outside -- anywhere -- to wait the convenience of the man who prefers to find engagement in attending to the wants and pleasures, business and concerns, of the present animal existence; which, being interpreted, means that the Bible, which is to us the voice of Eternal Wisdom, is by some attended to in an only occasional and indifferent way, instead of being read and studied daily; and this because other things are sweeter to the taste or esteemed more important to be attended to.
Bro Roberts - Light and darkness
62 And Jesus said unto him, No man, having put his hand to the plough, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.
Christ's stern declaration is that such a man is not fit for the kingdom of God. That implies that there are some who are "fit," and some who are "not fit," and it also shows who are they that are "fit." Those who are fit are those who lay hold with full purpose of heart and accept the calling in Christ in its entirety. That calling is a thing that is very exacting indeed; it claims absolute ascendancy with those of whom it lays hold.
... the truth of Christ demands to be the object of life, the principle of action, the subject of supreme affection -- the engrossing thing.
Bro Roberts - Present suffering, Seasons 1: 32.