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The Ninth Sunday after Trinity is on August 14, 2022.

Readings for Year C can be found here.

The Gospel reading is as follows (emphases mine):

Luke 12:49-56

12:49 “I came to bring fire to the earth, and how I wish it were already kindled!

12:50 I have a baptism with which to be baptized, and what stress I am under until it is completed!

12:51 Do you think that I have come to bring peace to the earth? No, I tell you, but rather division!

12:52 From now on five in one household will be divided, three against two and two against three;

12:53 they will be divided: father against son and son against father, mother against daughter and daughter against mother, mother-in-law against her daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law against mother-in-law.”

12:54 He also said to the crowds, “When you see a cloud rising in the west, you immediately say, ‘It is going to rain’; and so it happens.

12:55 And when you see the south wind blowing, you say, ‘There will be scorching heat’; and it happens.

12:56 You hypocrites! You know how to interpret the appearance of earth and sky, but why do you not know how to interpret the present time?

Commentary comes from Matthew Henry and John MacArthur.

Luke 9 through Luke 19 are our Lord’s principal teaching chapters in his Gospel.

Luke 12 has hard-hitting lessons. On the Seventh Sunday after Trinity this year, we had the Parable of the Rich Fool. Last Sunday, we had our Lord’s warning that we know not the day nor the time of His Second Coming.

Today, we read of His telling us to reconcile with God through faith in His Son.

These are the intervening verses between last week’s Gospel reading and this week’s:

41 Peter asked, “Lord, are you telling this parable to us, or to everyone?”

42 The Lord answered, “Who then is the faithful and wise manager, whom the master puts in charge of his servants to give them their food allowance at the proper time? 43 It will be good for that servant whom the master finds doing so when he returns. 44 Truly I tell you, he will put him in charge of all his possessions. 45 But suppose the servant says to himself, ‘My master is taking a long time in coming,’ and he then begins to beat the other servants, both men and women, and to eat and drink and get drunk. 46 The master of that servant will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour he is not aware of. He will cut him to pieces and assign him a place with the unbelievers.

47 “The servant who knows the master’s will and does not get ready or does not do what the master wants will be beaten with many blows. 48 But the one who does not know and does things deserving punishment will be beaten with few blows. From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked.

Many Christians today interpret the last part of verse 48 as one of giving money to the Church. It is often used during stewardship season when congregations are asked to pledge money for the following year.

However, Jesus meant it as saying that we will be punished in eternity depending on how much we turned away from Him and, by extension, from God.

Believers who have a good knowledge of Christianity then fall away from the faith will have the harshest punishment; they are the servants who know the Master’s will and do not obey it. Those who have little to no knowledge of Christ will receive a lighter punishment; they are the ignorant servants.

Matthew Henry’s commentary says:

The knowledge of our duty is an aggravation of our sin: That servant that knew his lord’s will, and yet did his own will, shall be beaten with many stripes. God will justly inflict more upon him for abusing the means of knowledge he afforded him, which others would have made a better use of, because it argues a great degree of wilfulness and contempt to sin against knowledge; of how much sorer punishment then shall they be thought worthy, besides the many stripes that their own consciences will give them! Son, remember. Here is a good reason for this added: To whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required, especially when it is committed as a trust he is to account for. Those have greater capacities of mind than others, more knowledge and learning, more acquaintance and converse with the scriptures, to them much is given, and their account will be accordingly.

Jesus then said that He came to bring fire to the earth and how He wished it were already kindled (verse 49).

Some commentators say He spoke of the Holy Spirit, but, as Henry explains, it is more likely He spoke of a fire of judgement for some and a refining fire of persecution for others:

By this some understand the preaching of the gospel, and the pouring out of the Spirit, holy fire; this Christ came to send with a commission to refine the world, to purge away its dross, to burn up its chaff, and it was already kindled. The gospel was begun to be preached; some prefaces there were to the pouring out of the Spirit. Christ baptized with the Holy Ghost and with fire; this Spirit descended in fiery tongues. But, by what follows, it seems rather to be understood of the fire of persecution. Christ is not the Author of it, as it is the sin of the incendiaries, the persecutors; but he permits it, nay, he commissions it, as a refining fire for the trial of the persecuted. This fire was already kindled in the enmity of the carnal Jews to Christ and his followers. “What will I that it may presently be kindled? What thou doest, do quickly. If it be already kindled, what will I? Shall I wait the quenching of it? No, for it must fasten upon myself, and upon all, and glory will redound to God from it.”

John MacArthur has more. A fire of judgement is referred to often in the Old Testament:

Fire is a picture of judgment.  I mean it is pretty obviously that.  You have that in the Old Testament as well as the New Testament.  We’re familiar with statements like that.  “I am come,” He says, “from the Father.  I have come into the world to save but I’ve also come to judge.”  Fire is emphatic in the Greek.  The Greek reads this way, “For fire, I have come upon the earth.”  Fire is the first thing and this is prophesied in the Old Testament.  You know, there were statements about the Messiah’s coming that talked about fire and the Jews knew thatIsaiah 66:15, Joel chapter 2, verse 30; there are number of places that promise fire and they all knew what that meant.  Amos is one that I might just remind you.  Amos 1, “So I sent fire on the wall of Gaza.  It’ll consume her citadels.”  And then it goes on to talk about the fire of God’s judgment all the way down to verse 14.  Chapter 2 of Amos further discusses this fire.  “I will send fire on Moab.  I’ll send fire on Judah.”  Malachi chapter 3, as the Old Testament closes, talks about God coming in fiery judgment, but the Jews believed that the fire would fall on the Gentiles and that the peace would come to themThey never expected that the Messiah would come and the fire of judgment would fall on them and it is the fire of judgment.

Listen to John 9:39, “For judgment I came into this world that those who do not see may see and that those who see may become blind.”  That’s a very important verse.  “For judgment, I came into this world that those who do not see may see and that those who see may become blind.”  His judgment is two-way.  It is a judgment that saves and it is a judgment that condemns.  It’s two-sided.  If you go back to Luke chapter 3 for a moment, verse 9, we’ll look at a couple of verses there. Luke 9…Luke 3:9, he says for those who don’t believe, of course, in Israel, “the ax is laid at the root of the tree.  Every tree that doesn’t bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.”  Verse 16, John the Baptist says, “The One who is coming is mightier than I.  I am not fit to untie the thong of His sandals.  He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire and He will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire.”  So there’s the fire of judgment, the fire of destruction that is unleashed.

But it’s not only a fire of judgment; it’s also a fire of purging.  You see, the gospel is that fire that either purifies or punishes and Paul said it’s life to life or death to death.  In John 3, Jesus said, “If you believe, you have eternal life.  If you don’t believe, your unbelief puts you under judgment.”  Fire consumes what is combustible and does not consume what is noncombustible.  It purifies the noncombustible and it destroys the combustible and so the coming of Jesus is a fire.  It’s a fire cast to the earth.  To those who believe, it purifiesTo those who reject, it consumes.  And so Jesus is saying, “Look, I’ve come as fire,” and then He adds this most interesting statement, “and how I wish it were already kindled.”  He came for fire but the fire’s not started yet.  The fire hasn’t been kindled yet.  What does He mean by that?  Well, He’s talking about starting the fire.  Kindling is used to start the fire and that’s the intent of the language.  What is He saying?  “It has not been kindled.”  What’s the kindling?  What’s going to kindle the fire?  This is an amazing statement.  “I wish it were already kindled.”  What’s He looking at?  He’s looking at His death, because in the next verse, He calls it a baptism that He has to undergo.  The kindling that started the fire, the gospel fire that both purifies and punishes — the kindling was Jesus.  He was judged by God.  Before He judges, He must Himself be judged.  He’s looking at His cross.  It’s an amazing statement.  The kindling of the fire of judgment is the cross, His death, which is a fire of judgment that God puts on HimGod literally consumes Him in wrath, the just for the unjust, and He’s punished for our sins and He says here, look at this, “How I wish it were already kindled.”  He wishes it were over.

He spoke of His impending death as a baptism and the stress He was under knowing it was coming (verse 50).

Baptism in the Greek sense meant full immersion into something.

Henry tells us that Jesus said that to emphasise how much He wanted to bring us the salvific benefits of His death on the Cross:

See here, (1.) Christ’s foresight of his sufferings; he knew what he was to undergo, and the necessity of undergoing it: I am to be baptized with a baptism. He calls his sufferings by a name that mitigates them; it is a baptism, not a deluge; I must be dipped in them, not drowned in them; and by a name that sanctifies them, for baptism is a name that sanctifies them, for baptism is a sacred rite. Christ in his sufferings devoted himself to his Father’s honour, and consecrated himself a priest for evermore, Heb 7 27, 28. (2.) Christ’s forwardness to his sufferings: How am I straitened till it be accomplished! He longed for the time when he should suffer and die, having an eye to the glorious issue of his sufferings. It is an allusion to a woman in travail, that is pained to be delivered, and welcomes her pains, because they hasten the birth of the child, and wishes them sharp and strong, that the work may be cut short. Christ’s sufferings were the travail of his soul, which he cheerfully underwent, in hope that he should by them see his seed, Isa 53 10, 11. So much was his heart set upon the redemption and salvation of man.

MacArthur says:

… “I have a baptism to undergo,” and again He says, “How distressed I am until it’s accomplished.”  A “baptism” was a word the Greeks liked to use to speak about being immersed in something and we use it that way.  It is used in Greek literature to refer to death but Jesus used it as being immersed in pain, immersed in suffering, immersed in judgment, divine wrath, immersed in death.  He knows that’s a baptism that He must undergo.  He understands that this is necessary because He must bear the judgment for all who will believe.

He refers to it the same way in the 38th verse of Mark 10 where He says to the sons of Zebedee, “Can you be baptized with the baptism with which I am baptized?”  You want prominence in the kingdom.  Can you suffer what I’m going to suffer?  I have a baptism to undergo.  I have an immersion into divine wrath and how distressed I am until it’s accomplished.  The word “distressed,” synechomai.  The verb simply means to seize.  I’m seized.  It’s used for being gripped with fear.  It’s used for being pressed.  It’s used…Paul…Philippians 1:23, I think it is, being hard-pressed from two directions.  It was a…It was an incessant squeezing, just a relentless pressure, until it was finally accomplished. And He uses the word teleō, tetelestai, “until it’s finished,” and, of course, at the end of the cross, He said, “Tetelestai,” same verb, different form, “It is finished,” John 19:30.

So here He’s saying, “I…I wish it was over.”  Our Lord here is anticipating the dividing event.  He is pressed between the suffering and the purpose, between the anticipation of the pain and the plan, between His own will and the Father’s will, but He never wavered when He said in the garden, “Father, if it’s your will, let this cup pass from Me.”  He immediately responded by saying, “Nevertheless, not My will but yours be done.”  “I’ve come to cast fire,” He said, “and it’s going to be kindled by the cross and that’s going to set the fire of judgment.”  That will be the dividing point.  That is where all men are divided.  All men are divided at the cross, both in eternity and in time.

Then He asked the crowd if He was going to bring peace to the earth and said that He was going to bring division (verse 51).

MacArthur puts these verses into context for us:

Now let me just give you a little bit of background in the chapter that we’re in.  If you go back to chapter 12, verse 1, it tells us that Jesus was speaking to many thousands of people, probably tens of thousands of people.  So many people were gathered together they were stepping on each other.  The mass of these people, by the way, already had made up their mind to reject Jesus but He was still the greatest curiosity in existence and the most profound teacher who ever lived and attracted massive crowds, but most of them stood with their leaders.  They had imbibed what their leaders had been giving them to drink in terms of Jesus being satanic, but there were still some who could be classified as disciplesThe word is mathētēs and learners.  It simply means that they were still open to what He was sayingSome of them were apostles.  They had come all the way to faith and been called to ministry.  Some of them were the seventy who also had been sent out to minister for Him because they were true believersSome of them had become believers and there were some who were just still open and the end of verse 1 says He was really talking to them.

And the nature of this message is that it’s a call to salvationIt’s a call to come to Him, to come into the kingdom of salvation, to receive the forgiveness and redemption that He brings.  This is an evangelistic invitation.  It starts in verse 1 and it runs all the way to verse 9 in chapter 13.  There are a couple of interruptions for questions but, in the main, it’s one long discourse.  It is an invitation.  It is a call by our Lord to the crowd and those in the crowd who were still open and still learning and still listening to receive His claims, embrace Him as Messiah, and come into the kingdom of salvation and receive forgiveness of sin and eternal life; and then He delineates what they must do.

MacArthur tells us what Jesus meant about bringing division rather than peace in verse 51:

That’s a mashal.  That’s a paradoxical statement.  “Do you suppose?” is a verb that could be translated “Do you presume?” or “Does it seem right to say?”  That’s the implication of that verb.  It’s sensible for you to assume that I’m bringing peace, right?  Of course, absolutely, based upon all of those Old Testament promises, and His response in the Greek starts with the word “no”, ouchhi, an emphatic “No, I tell you, but rather division,” pretty devastating statementThe promised peace was taken awayThey had rejected the Prince of PeaceThey had therefore forfeited the kingdom of peaceIt could only come through individuals putting faith in the Lord Jesus Christ as Messiah Savior and if there was no peace between the sinner and God, there would be no peace among the people.  There would be no kingdom of peace.  There will be no kingdom of peace until salvation comes to the heart, so in place of peace comes divisionIn Matthew chapter 10 verses 34-36 you have a comparative passage to this where Jesus said the same thing.  Only on that occasion, He said He came not to bring peace but a swordJesus, who came as the Prince of Peace, becomes the great divider, becomes the source of disunity and separation.

Nearer to the time of His death, Jesus referred to the destruction of the temple as He wept over Jerusalem:

… as Jesus approaches Jerusalem headed for the cross, He saw the city and He wept over it saying, and here’s the key, “If you had known in this day, even you, the things which make for peace.” You missed it! “But now they’ve been hidden from your eyes.” Boy! That is one serious condition. When peace is offered and you reject it and then it’s not offered.

what He’s talking about there is the Roman destruction of Jerusalem in 70 A.D. Hundreds of thousands of Jews were massacred. Eventually, nearly 1,000 towns in Israel were sacked by the Romans. The temple was destroyed. It was the end of Judaism. There’s never been a sacrifice offered since then. They thought He was bringing peace. No, as it turned out, because they rejected Him as the Prince of Peace, He brought destructionI brought you peace and you didn’t want it on My terms. So the warnings escalate and they escalate until finally, it’s now hidden. There is a time. There is an opportunity, but God has the right to shut it down whenever He wants, as He did in history, as He does in the life of every individual who rejects that warning.

Jesus emphasised how strong the division would be with regard to faith. He used the example of a family setting rather than, say, a village. He made His message hit home, as it were.

He said that, from now on, a household of five would be divided: three against two and two against three (verse 52), elaborating on the division among family members, especially the women (verse 53).

MacArthur analyses the verses for us, pointing out how relevant they still are today:

Verse 52, “For from now on…”  I want to stop you right there.  That’s another little sort of phrase that Jesus liked to use.  He used it back in chapter 5 verse 10 when He said to James, John and Andrew or James, John and Peter. He said, “From now on, you will be fishers of men.”  “From now on” sort of signifies the way it’s going to be in the future, from now onLuke 22:69, Jesus, anticipating His ascension, said, “From now on, the Son of Man will be seated at the right hand of God in heaven.”  From now on. “From now on,” He says, “this is how it’s going to be.”  Throughout life here, five members in one household will be divided, three against two, two against three.  They will be divided father against son, son against father, mother against daughter, daughter against mother, mother-in-law against daughter-in-law, and daughter-in-law against mother-in-law.  We know… We know that the gospel divides, don’t we?  We just saw that.  At the cross, it dividesIt divides in eternity but I’ll tell you also that backs into time and the gospel of Jesus Christ is very divisive even here and now.

John 7 says, “And there arose a division in the crowd because of Him.”  John 9 verse 16, “There was a division among them.”  John 10, “There arose a division again among the Jews.”  He divided everywhere He went.  Not just in eternity are these people divided, but in time they are divided.  The gospel is a serious problem to people who reject it and those who believe it are outcasts.  In the time of Jesus, they were un-synagogued.  They were thrown out of the synagogue, social outcasts, and it goes all the way down to the most intimate point of human unity, the family.  Jesus could have illustrated it by talking about a town or a community or a neighborhood, but He takes it all the way down to the place where the most natural kind of unity exists and says, “This thing is going to be so divisive it’s going to turn a family against itself, three against two or two against three,” depending on how many Christians in the family and that’s hypothetical.  It might be one against four or four against one.  The gospel is divisive.

The family division is a chilling one, especially because many families lived together in that era but also because there was a similar filial division in the Old Testament. Jesus was citing Micah:

Now you notice in verse 52 there are five members in a household and then they are sorted out in 53: a father, a son, mother, daughter, mother-in-law, daughter-in-law. You say, “Wait a minute. That’s six.” You’re right. That’s six. But remember, the mother-in-law is also the mother of the son who has the wife, not that that’s a big issue but the Bible is very precise. The point is that there is going to be division in the family and sometimes that division can be so severe that it can end up even in death. Listen to the words of our Lord. These are somewhat frightening words when you think about it. Matthew chapter 10 verse 21, “Brother will deliver up brother to death, a father his child, children rise up against parents, cause them to be put to death. You will be hated by all on account of My name. Whenever they persecute you in this city, flee to the next,” pretty serious stuff. It goes on in the world; always has gone on. If you’ve been spared that, that’s a blessing, but Jesus said, “I came to bring a sword and that sword not only cuts into eternity but it comes into time.” I understand that.

I understand that the gospel that we believe, the gospel that I preach, cuts me off from people. I understand that it indicts them, that it condemns them by virtue of its message. It is divisive, really nothing new, by the way. The words of Jesus in verse 53, you might not have ever read this, but He borrowed from the prophet Micah because Micah said this very same thing in the 7th chapter and 6th verse, “For son treats father contemptuously. Daughter rises up against her mother, daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. A man’s enemies are the men of his own household.” So they would know that Jesus was speaking of something that was biblical. It was from the Old Testament.

Jesus then rebuked the crowd, telling them they were good at predicting the weather by looking at rain clouds (verse 54) and judging temperature by the way the wind blew (verse 55).

He called them hypocrites, saying they could interpret the appearance of the wind and the sky yet do not know how to interpret the present time (verse 56), by which He meant the purpose of His ministry among them.

MacArthur tells us that Jesus played on the fact that the Jews took pride in their powers of discernment, especially spiritual discernment:

This, of course, is down in…in Judea. These are warning words and warning sort of becomes the tone of Jesus’ ministry from now on in these remaining months before His death, but not just warning. It’s sort of an indicting warning. It’s a warning that the die is cast and it gets stronger and stronger as the months go on. The nation has made itself the all-time illustration of wasted opportunity and it’s not just Judas. It’s a whole nation of Judases and the consequences are monumental and forever. Here in these two illustrations, our Lord says, “You failed to discern two things, the time and the threat, the time and the threat.” And, of course, the Jews prided themselves on their discernment. They prided themselves on their spiritual insight but they failed with damning, deadly and eternal results to discern the time and the threat

Jesus warned that the invitation to salvation through Him as their Messiah would soon be withdrawn:

here in verse 54, He opens it up to the crowd and it stops being an invitation because they’ve already made up their mind and it becomes an indictment. It becomes a warning directed at them in their unbelief and from here on to the end of this discourse, chapter 13, verse 9; all of it has that same tone of indictment and judgment to fall. Essentially, up to verse 54, He is inviting Jews to believe. Here, He begins condemning unbelieving Jews and we can extend it beyond that because the Bible is intended for all generations. Up to this point, He has been inviting people to believe and now He condemns those who do not. And first of all, let’s look at illustration No. 1, which shows that they failed to discern the time. Verse 54, “When you see a cloud rising in the West, immediately you say a shower is coming and so it turns out.” Now that’s just a simple, unsophisticated way to tell the weather and, as I said, very much like an illustration Jesus used in Matthew 16 verses 1-4 …

verse 56. Listen to this, “You hypocrites!” Now let me stop you there. You say, “What’s the connection? What does telling the weather have to do with hypocrisy?” Well, first of all, let me say that this was our Lord’s favorite term to describe the people of Israel. He called them hypocrites more than He called them anything else and not only the leaders but the people as well. If you just take your little concordance and bounce through, for example, the gospel of Matthew and see how many times He calls them hypocrites, you would be surprised. Well, you say, “I know they were hypocrites. Sure, because of their false religion.” That’s true. To be a hypocrite means to lie about what you really are, right? It means to deceive somebody about the truth and they were hypocrites because their piety was phony. Their spirituality was false. Their allegiance to God was a sham. Their…Their holiness was superficial. Their religion was external and their hearts were wicked and evil. Their whole religion was an hypocrisy. It was all phony, as all false religion is, all of it, because false religion can’t change the heart. Is that what Jesus meant? Well, that would be a little oblique, wouldn’t it? Why after telling two weather stories would you just make a blanket statement like, “You’re all a bunch of hypocrites” unless you had something more specific in mind.

Well, He does and He says what it is. Verse 56: “Here’s your hypocrisy. You know how to analyze the appearance of the earth and the sky. Why do you not analyze this present time?” What was their hypocrisy? Their hypocrisy was simply this: You see a cloud and you conclude rain. You feel a wind and you conclude heat. Minimal evidence and you draw a confident and accurate conclusion; and with all the evidence that I have shown you that I am God the Redeemer, the Messiah, the Savior, you reject Me. You hypocrites! You have more than enough. Their hypocrisy was in pretending not to have enough evidence and so they forever said to Jesus, “Show us a sign.” He says, “I’m not giving you any more signs except the sign of Jonah,” resurrection. You phonies!

At this point in Luke’s Gospel, Jesus had only six months more of ministry before He was crucified. The people and their leaders had ample evidence that He was their Messiah, yet they wanted more.

MacArthur describes the culmination in Luke 19, when Jesus wept over Jerusalem.

I posted about the destruction of Jerusalem above, but it bears repeating. Jesus tells us what true peace really is — reconciliation to God through faith in Him:

Look at Luke 19.  This is where it all gets kind of summed up.  Luke 19:41, He approached the city, saw it and wept.  And this is what He said, verse 42.  Listen to this statement.  “If you had known in this day, even you, the things which make for peace.”  If you had only known that I was offering you peace, if you had only known, but you refused.  “Now they have been hidden from your eyes.”  This is a judicial act on God’s part.  I gave you time.  I gave you opportunity.  It’s gone.  For the most part, for that nation, by now it was over.  And He pronounces the judgment, verse 43, “For the day shall come upon you when your enemies will throw up a bank before you, surround you, hem you in on every side, level you to the ground, and your children within you, and they will not leave in you one stone upon another.”  That’s the destruction of Jerusalem, began in 66 A.D., finished up in 70 A.D. when the Romans besieged and finally sacked the city of Jerusalem, the horrific event that caused the deaths of hundreds of thousands of the Jews, many who of course were hearing Jesus even then who were very young, still thirty years away from this occasion. But He says, “If you had only known…if you had only known.”  End of verse 44, “…but because you didn’t recognize the time of your visitation, now it’s hidden from your eyes.”  If only you had known.

Of course, tens of thousands of Jews converted to Christianity after the first Pentecost, but many more did not believe.

On a broader note, how can we evangelise unbelievers?

MacArthur recommends suggesting John’s Gospel as a starting point:

When somebody comes to me and says, “I don’t know if Jesus is really God,” do you know what I tell them to do? Read the gospels. Start with the Gospel of John because it’s written that you might know that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God, and that you might believe, and believing, have life. That’s why it was written. That’s the record.

As for finding true peace, he says:

… at the Great White Throne Judgment of God, there are only unbelievers. No believers will ever be there because we’re not under any condemnation. Why? Because we put our trust in Christ. That’s how you settle with God. You put your trust in Christ, the one who bore the penalty for your sin and the justice of the court and the judge is satisfied. God is willing to reconcile. God is willing to reconcile. He’s a reconciling God.

May all reading this have a blessed Sunday.

The Eighth Sunday after Trinity is on August 7, 2022.

Readings for Year C can be found here.

The Gospel reading is as follows (emphases mine):

Luke 12:32-40

12:32 “Do not be afraid, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.

12:33 Sell your possessions, and give alms. Make purses for yourselves that do not wear out, an unfailing treasure in heaven, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys.

12:34 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

12:35 “Be dressed for action and have your lamps lit;

12:36 be like those who are waiting for their master to return from the wedding banquet, so that they may open the door for him as soon as he comes and knocks.

12:37 Blessed are those slaves whom the master finds alert when he comes; truly I tell you, he will fasten his belt and have them sit down to eat, and he will come and serve them.

12:38 If he comes during the middle of the night, or near dawn, and finds them so, blessed are those slaves.

12:39 “But know this: if the owner of the house had known at what hour the thief was coming, he would not have let his house be broken into.

12:40 You also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an unexpected hour.”

Commentary comes from Matthew Henry and John MacArthur.

Last week, we had the Parable of the Rich Fool, whom God called to his death just as he was contemplating building barns for his harvest and his goods.

Today’s reading is about the Second Coming of Christ.

In between the Parable of the Rich Fool and today’s verses is another instruction from Jesus, which is not to worry.

Here are those verses from Luke 12:

Do Not Worry

22 Then Jesus said to his disciples: “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat; or about your body, what you will wear. 23 For life is more than food, and the body more than clothes. 24 Consider the ravens: They do not sow or reap, they have no storeroom or barn; yet God feeds them. And how much more valuable you are than birds! 25 Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to your life[b]? 26 Since you cannot do this very little thing, why do you worry about the rest?

27 “Consider how the wild flowers grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you, not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. 28 If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today, and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, how much more will he clothe you—you of little faith! 29 And do not set your heart on what you will eat or drink; do not worry about it. 30 For the pagan world runs after all such things, and your Father knows that you need them. 31 But seek his kingdom, and these things will be given to you as well.

Luke 9 through Luke 19 is all about our Lord’s instructions during the last six months of His life on Earth.

The discourse that Jesus gives in Luke 12 runs all the way through to Luke 13:9.

John MacArthur says:

At this point probably the buzz through the crowd to whom Jesus is speaking… Remember now, 12:1 to 13:9 is one discourse Jesus gave to a crowd, very large crowd, tens of thousands of people. And the buzz through the crowd would be, “Wow, this is pretty amazing stuff here.”

Jesus addressed the crowd as ‘little flock’, telling them not to be afraid, because God would give them His kingdom (verse 32).

Matthew Henry explains the words ‘little flock’:

This comfortable word we had not in Matthew. Note, [1.] Christ’s flock in this world is a little flock; his sheep are but few and feeble. The church is a vineyard, a garden, a small spot, compared with the wilderness of this world; as Israel (1 Kings 20 27), who were like two little flocks of kids, when the Syrians filled the country. [2.] Though it be a little flock, quite over-numbered, and therefore in danger of being overpowered, by its enemies, yet it is the will of Christ that they should not be afraid: “Fear not, little flock, but see yourselves safe under the protection and conduct of the great and good Shepherd, and lie easy.”

God will gladly give the faithful His kingdom as their inheritance:

[3.] God has a kingdom in store for all that belong to Christ’s little flock, a crown of glory (1 Pet 5 4), a throne of power (Rev 3 21), unsearchable riches, far exceeding the peculiar treasures of kings and provinces. The sheep on the right hand are called to come and inherit the kingdom; it is theirs for ever; a kingdom for each. [4.] The kingdom is given according to the good pleasure of the Father; It is your Father’s good pleasure; it is given not of debt, but of grace, free grace, sovereign grace; even so, Father, because it seemed good unto thee. The kingdom is his; and may he not do what he will with his own? [5.] The believing hopes and prospects of the kingdom should silence and suppress the fears of Christ’s little flock in this world. “Fear no trouble; for, though it should come, it shall not come between you and the kingdom, that is sure, it is near.” (That is not an evil worth trembling at the thought of which cannot separate us from the love of God). “Fear not the want of any thing that is good for you; for, if it be your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom, you need not question but he will bear your charges thither.”

Jesus told the crowd to sell their possessions and give to charity, to create a spiritual, heavenly ‘purse’ that does not wear out and cannot fall prey to a thief or a moth (verse 33).

Henry says that Jesus did not mean to literally sell everything and leave oneself a pauper but give away whatever prevents us from fully coming to Christ:

Sit loose to this world, and to all your possessions in it: Sell that ye have, and give alms,” that is, “rather than want wherewith to relieve those that are truly necessitous, sell what you have that is superfluous, all that you can spare from the support of yourselves and families, and give it to the poor. Sell what you have, if you find it a hindrance from, or incumbrance in, the service of Christ. Do not think yourselves undone, if by being fined, imprisoned, or banished, for the testimony of Jesus, you be forced to sell your estates, thought they be the inheritance of your fathers. Do not sell to hoard up the money, or because you can make more of it by usury, but sell and give alms; what is given in alms, in a right manner, is put out to the best interest, upon the best security.”

MacArthur says that Jesus is inviting the crowd into His Father’s kingdom:

So here is an invitation then to the kingdom But it appeals only to the desperate, only to the broken, only to the penitent, only for the hungry and thirsty whose desire to be delivered from sin and death and hell into the kingdom of righteousness, joy and peace is so strong that they would pay any cost.  So Jesus is saying what John the Baptist said, “Bring forth fruits unto repentance.”  You say you want to repent, do you?  Are you willing to give up everything?  Are you willing to make for yourself purses which don’t wear out?  In other words, instead of accumulating everything in this world in earthly barns, or earthly purses, are you…are you willing to put them in a heavenly purse, to put your treasure in heaven?  Are you willing to give up everything in a spiritual investment with God, who will return to you eternal dividends?  You will receive in heaven an unfailing treasure where no thief comes near nor moth destroys.

Jesus said that, where our hearts are, there will our treasure also be (verse 34). That is one of my favourite Bible verses.

MacArthur says:

So here is our Lord’s invitation.  It is an invitation to live in His kingdom.  It is an invitation to submit your life to the heavenly King and to invest everything into His careTo set your affections on things above, as verse 34 says, to put your heart in heavenHeart is kardia, cardiacIt means feeling, thought, desire, will, the core of life; everything in that heavenly investment.

Jesus then went into an allegory of a wedding feast, with the bridegroom not yet home and with waiting servants. This is His discussion of His Second Coming.

He said to be dressed appropriately — ‘for action’ — and have enough oil in the lamps, as did servants and slaves in that era (verse 35).

MacArthur explains that the length of time for a wedding feast in those days varied. No one knew when it would begin or end:

… a wedding feast was something that just sort of happened in a general sense at a general time rather than saying, you know, we’re going to have a wedding, it’s going to be Saturday at eight o’clock. They would say you’re all invited to a wedding. They would send out wedding invitations and it would say, like, “In the month of April and we’ll let you know when it starts.” And by the way, they would last … up to seven days or even more, depending on how wealthy they were, how many people came, and how much food there was available. They weren’t sure exactly when it would begin because all of the accumulation of the food and all that needed to be done was somewhat undetermined. And so here’s a perfect illustration. A master goes to a wedding. And he has to tell his people, “I…I don’t know when I’ll be back,” because that’s how weddings were. “So I’m just going to put you in charge of everything.” Now they could take it seriously or not so seriously.

MacArthur explains the attire, being dressed ‘for action’:

The Lord gives four analogies of readiness, OK?  Four analogies of readiness.  Now we’ll go back and look at verses 35 to 39 and it will all just unfold pretty simply.  Four analogies of readiness. Number one, verse 35, first half of the verse, “Be dressed in readiness.”  Literally, let your loins be girded. Let your loins be girded.  Everybody wore dresses in those days, everybody wore wrong…long robes.  They had a couple of holes for the arms and a hole for the head and you just threw on this robe.  You’ve seen all the pictures and film depictions of life in this period and it’s true.  They all wore these flowing robes.  If you were going to go into action that was a very, very inconvenient way to be dressed and so what they would typically do would be take a sash or some kind of belt and pull it around their waist and pull all of that loose material together.  And very often they would take the corners of their robes, pull them up through so that they would shorten them up so that they could move with more facility and more alacrity.  It was very important.  This goes even back to the Exodus, back in Exodus chapter 12 verse 11, the angel of death was going to come and it was moving time. After four centuries in Egypt, they were going.  And Israel was going out of Egypt.  God was going to deliver them.  And you remember what He said?  “You eat the Passover but you eat the Passover fast and you eat the Passover with your loins girded and your sandals on.” We’re moving out.

What is He saying?  He’s saying you’ve got to be ready to be goingIt’s going to happen so fast, it’s going to happen in a nanosecond, you don’t know when it’s going to happen. You better be ready to move.  The New Testament adds to that. There are a number of Old Testament uses of that phrase, 1 Kings 18:46, 2 Kings 4:29. It was a very familiar Jewish metaphor for readiness It also worked in the Roman worldPaul said that a Roman soldier, when he was talking about the armor of the Christian, had on a belt of sincerity or truthfulness, the belt of truth. And what he was saying by that is, look, if you’re going to engage in spiritual war, you’ve…you’ve got to pull the loose ends of your life together.  First Peter 1:13, “Gird up your minds for action.”  Pull in the loose ends of your lifeIt’s a metaphor for spiritual readiness, call to action to be ready to move and move fast.

Now on to the lamps:

Second metaphor is lamps. The first one is clothing. The second one is lamp, lamps. “Keep your lamps alight,” or “keep your lamps lit.” This is not time to be meandering around in the darkness. This is no time to be fumbling and stumbling. Be alert, be aware, be watchful, have everything ready. You remember the story in Matthew chapter 25, the parable that Jesus told about the ten virgins. And the ten virgins, you know, were the bridesmaids to the bride and they were supposed to be ready for whenever the bridegroom came. Weddings were really very hard to nail down in terms of time. They started when they started and they ended when they ended. You know, they started when everything was done and the preparations were made and the food was fixed and they ended when they ran out. And so they were sort of floating as to their beginning and their end. And in the case of Matthew 25, they were waiting and waiting for the bridegroom to come and He didn’t come and He didn’t come and it got to be night and dark and, of course now it’s midnight and some of them let their lamps go out. They weren’t ready when He came. That’s a metaphor of lack of preparation. The bridegroom came, the wedding took place, the door was slammed in the faces of the virgins who had no oil and Jesus is saying by that story…story, “You don’t know when the bridegroom is coming and you better be ready or you’re going to be on the outside. And outside is weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth.” Be ready when He comes. You don’t know when He’s coming.

Paul put it this way in Romans 13, “Do this knowing the time that now it is high time to awake out of sleep.” Wake up. “Now our salvation is nearer than when we first believed. The night is far spent, the day is at hand.” He’s saying that 2,000 years ago. “Let us cast off the works of darkness. Let us put on the armor of light. Let us walk properly as in the day, not in revelry and drunkenness, not in lewdness and lust, not in strife and envy. Put on the Lord Jesus Christ. Make no provision for the flesh to fulfill its lust. It’s time to come to Christ. It’s time to live godly lives.” Jesus is coming, could come at any moment. You need to be alert, have the light on and not be in spiritual darkness.

Jesus told the crowd to be ready for the time the bridegroom returns — His Second Coming — so that they can be ready to open the door as soon as he/He knocks (verse 36).

MacArthur says:

Third picture, third metaphor is of servants. Clothing, lamps, and servants …

And so in verse 36 he’s saying, “You need to be like that. You need to be like servants waiting for their master to return from a wedding feast which carries the idea of you don’t know when it’s going to be, so that he may immediately open the door to him when he comes and knocks. You’ve just got to be there waiting so that when he arrives and puts one hand on that door, that door is open and you’re ready to receive him and give a full account of everything.”

Jesus went on to say that those servants or slaves who are ready for the master’s return will be blessed, because he will fasten his belt, call them to table and serve them himself (verse 37).

Now that must have struck the crowd as an amazing thought, because it was unheard of.

MacArthur says:

That’s turning the proverbial tables. When he comes home and he finds you ready, everything is ready, everything is as you know he would want it to be, you are prepared for his arrival. He is going to be so thrilled and so thankful for that that he is going to say, “Folks, sit down, I’ll cook dinner. I’ll feed you. You are now my honored guests.”

Jesus said that the slaves who were ready in the early hours of the morning and near dawn would be blessed indeed (verse 38).

MacArthur says that big households with servants or slaves set up a schedule so that a group of them would be on watch at various times starting in the evening and going into the early morning:

The Romans had divided the night military watch into four parts: six to nine, nine to twelve, twelve to three, three to six. The Jews divided into three parts. Scholars like to debate whether Jesus was thinking of a Jewish watch or a Roman watch and really, who cares? It’s not a critical point. Who knows what Jesus was thinking, we only know what He said, and He didn’t say either. The point is this, the second or the third watch would be late. In a Roman setting, it would be between nine and three A.M. and in a Jewish setting it would span basically the same amount of time. So you’re talking about a very inconvenient time when people would normally be asleep and they had finished their day of work and he said, “But you know what? If you’re ready in that most unexpected time, if you’re ready even if he comes in the third watch of the night, even if he comes in the dark when you should be asleep, and you’re ready, He is going to light everything, He’s going to set a table, He’s going to sit you down and He’s going to feed you.” And there’s another picture of the Marriage Supper of the Lamb at which the bridegroom Himself will serve His bride. When He comes and takes us to heaven, He will sit us at His table and He will serve us. That’s one of the great pictures of the love of Christ for His redeemed church. I understand the part that we serve Him. This is over the top, that He serves us. When He comes back and finds us faithful, He will serve us.

Jesus ended with a warning.

He said, ‘Know this’, that, if the owner of the house knew what time a thief would break in, he would have been on guard to prevent it (verse 39).

He ended by saying that we must be ready, at all times, because the Son of Man will return at an unexpected hour (verse 40).

In verse 39, we have our Lord’s fourth and final metaphor, that of the thief and the associated element of shock and surprise that accompanies a break-in.

MacArthur tells us:

one final metaphor here in Luke 12: that of a thief. Clothing, lamps, servants, and a thief, verse 39, “Be sure of this.” This is emphatic, obvious but emphatic, “that if the head of the house had known at what hour the thief was coming, he would not have allowed his house to be broken into,” or literally, dug through, because houses were made out of mud and the thieves would dig through as verse 33 says, they would steal.  And so if a man knew when the thief was coming, he would make sure that no thief could do his dastardly work.  A thief’s stock-in-trade is surprise, when you don’t expect it.  I mean no thief is very successful who comes when you expect it.  They thrive on coming when you don’t expect it.  And this is the picture of the coming of the LordHe’s going to come like a thief, not in that he’s going to do damage, not in that he’s going to take something he’s not entitled to, but it’s the element of surprise that is carried in this metaphor.  Listen to 1 Thessalonians 5 verse 2, “You yourselves know full well the Day of the Lord will come just like a thief in the night,” just like a thief in the night.  “But you, brethren, are not in darkness that the day should overtake you like a thief, for you are all sons of light and sons of the day.”  You’re ready, you have the lamps on, you have your loins girded and you’ve rendered your service to your Master and you’re ready to go.  He’s coming like a thief. Peter said the same thing in 2 Peter, using that same metaphor.  Once the Lord used it, they all started borrowing it from Him.  Second Peter 3:10, “The day of the Lord will come like a thief.”  Revelation, we even have the same thing and here in chapter 16 and verse 15 says, “Behold,” this is the Lord talking, “I am coming like a thief.  Blessed is the one who stays awake, has the lamp on, keeps his garments,” that is, is dressed and ready to go.  And even back in I think it’s the 3rd chapter of Revelation, and verse 3, “Remember therefore what you have received and heard, keep it and repent. If therefore you will not wake up, I will come like a thief” and here it is, “and you will not know at what hour I will come upon you.”  That’s the concept of the thief, you don’t know when.  So be ready.

Luke has more quotes from Jesus on spiritual readiness:

How do we get ready?  How do you get ready?  First of all, you need to come to Christ.  We can go back to Luke 9, can’t we, on that one and it says in verse 23, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, let him deny himself, take up his cross and follow Me.”  Come to Christ, “For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, whoever loses his life for My sake is the one who will save it.  What does a man profit it he gains the whole world and forfeits his own soul?  For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words, of him will the Son of Man be ashamed when He comes.”  Get ready, He’s coming and you don’t want Him to be ashamed of you when He comes.

Listen to Luke 21:34, “Be on guard that your hearts may not be weighted down with dissipation and drunkenness and the worries of life and that day suddenly come upon you like a trap.  For it will come on all those who dwell on the face of all the earth, but keep on the alert at all times, praying in order that you may have strength to escape all these things that are about to take place and to stand before the Son of Man.”  Be ready to stand before the Son of Man when He comes.  This is a call to salvation.

Readiness also implies sanctification:

But there’s also a call to sanctification, a call to sanctification, and Peter gives us that call in 2 Peter 3:14.  He says, “Therefore, beloved, since you look for these things” I love this “be diligent to be found by Him in peace, spotless and blameless.”  You want to be ready when He comes, not just because you belong to Him but because you are living a godly life.  You’re living a holy life.  Since we are looking for this coming, what kind of persons should we be?  Second Peter 3:11 says: “You are to be holy in your conduct and godly.”  He’s coming. He’s coming when we don’t expect it.  You need to come to Christ and be saved, to be ready when He arrives to be taken to glory and you need to be living a godly life to receive then a full reward when He arrives.

A lot of Christians think that the end of the world will come in our lifetime.

It might, but it might not. However, we will surely pass this mortal coil, and for that, we also need to be ready.

As to when the end of the world will come, I often think of one of the lines of O God, Our Help in Ages Past:

A thousand ages in thy sight are like an evening gone …

MacArthur gives us reason to think the end of the world is coming, but, perhaps not yet. He cites 2 Peter 3:

… you say, “But…but He said He’s coming and it’s 2,000 years.” Verse 8, here’s the key. “Do not let this one fact escape your notice, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as (what?) a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.” You’re talking about the eternal God who is beyond time. You say, “But still, what’s He waiting for?” You know, we want to crawl under the altar with the saints in Revelation, “How long, oh Lord, how long, how long? When are You going to come? When are You going to glorify Yourself? When are You going to judge the ungodly? When are You going to vindicate Your name and manifest the glory of Your people? How long? What’s He waiting for?”

Verse 9 tells you what He’s waiting for. “The Lord is not slow about His promise as some count slowness.” Some people accuse God of not…just not getting around to it, maybe, “but is patient toward you.” You? Who are you? The ones He’s writing to. Who are they? Verse 1 chapter 1, “Those who have received a faith of the same kind as ours by the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ.” You believers, what is God waiting for? Listen to me, He’s waiting for you because He does not wish that any of His own who have been chosen perish, but that all come to repentance, and God cannot come, He cannot return, Jesus can’t return until all the elect are redeemed. That’s what He’s waiting for. The reason for His delay is not that He’s negligent. It’s not that He’s careless. It’s not that He’s doing other things. He’ll come when His bride for His Son is complete. He’ll come when redemption is over. The fact that 2,000 years have elapsed is utterly irrelevant to the doctrine of imminence. It’s still imminent. I don’t know when He’s coming, but I’ll tell you this, it’s sooner than it’s ever been. A certain event, an uncertain time.

Until then, MacArthur gives us guidance for readiness:

One other comment from Luke and that is to ask the question. So what are we supposed to do now in the light of this? And that’s how Jesus begins that verse, verse 40. “You too be ready.” Be ready. How do you get ready? Abandon false religion, fear God, confess Christ, trust the Holy Spirit, be rich toward God, leave the world behind, seek His spiritual kingdom. That’s how you get ready. He’s coming and His coming is certain and powerfully and for the purpose of motivation, motivating every generation, its timing is uncertain. And so the message is, you better be ready, you better be ready.

May all reading this enjoy a blessed Sunday.

The Seventh Sunday after Trinity is on July 31, 2022.

The readings for Year C can be found here.

The Gospel is as follows (emphases mine):

Luke 12:13-21

12:13 Someone in the crowd said to him, “Teacher, tell my brother to divide the family inheritance with me.”

12:14 But he said to him, “Friend, who set me to be a judge or arbitrator over you?”

12:15 And he said to them, “Take care! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of possessions.”

12:16 Then he told them a parable: “The land of a rich man produced abundantly.

12:17 And he thought to himself, ‘What should I do, for I have no place to store my crops?’

12:18 Then he said, I will do this: I will pull down my barns and build larger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods.

12:19 And I will say to my soul, ‘Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years; relax, eat, drink, be merry.’

12:20 But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your life is being demanded of you. And the things you have prepared, whose will they be?’

12:21 So it is with those who store up treasures for themselves but are not rich toward God.”

Commentary comes from Matthew Henry and John MacArthur.

For those who have not been following the Year C Gospel readings from Luke, we are now in the final six months of our Lord’s temporal life.

Luke 9 through Luke 19 give us the bulk of His lessons to the disciples and to the people who heard Him.

By now, Jesus has sadly accumulated many detractors, some of whom want to end His life.

John MacArthur tells us more about the composition of the crowds who saw and heard Him, particularly with relation to Luke 12:

Jesus, of course, attracted people in huge crowds with His message and His miracles. But as the three years of His ministry progressed, it became apparent that the people were rejecting Him and His message. In fact, they were increasingly moving from being interested, to being curious, to being hostile.

The crowds are still huge. Verse 1 says there were many thousands. It really means tens of thousands who were following Him – huge crowds. The majority of those crowds had drunk deeply of the Pharisees’ and scribes’ propaganda. In spite of the miracle power, in spite of the clarity of His teaching, in spite of the winsomeness of His person, they had bought into the spin that the Pharisees and scribes had put on Jesus, that He was of Satan, not God.

More and more people are now buying into that. He must be of Satan, they think, because He contradicts their Jewish religion; and their Jewish religion must be of God, for they’re the people of God. And so the idea is to surface everywhere that Jesus disagrees with them and therefore point out that He must be satanic. They are, however, still curious. Jesus is still the best show in town – stunning, riveting, compelling – and they follow Him if only to trap Him in some opposition to their law.

But inside this increasingly hostile crowd, inside these tens of thousands, inside this mass of curious rejecters, there are still some who haven’t made up their mind, and they are described in verse 1 as disciples. That’s not a technical term for the twelve, that’s a nontechnical word in the Greek, mathētēs, that simply means “learners.” There are some still studying Jesus, still learning, still trying to come to a conclusion; and it is to them that He directs this sermon, this discourse that starts there in verse 1 and runs all the way to verse 9 of chapter 13. It’s a long sermon and discourse directed, heard by all, but directed at those still trying to decide concerning Jesus. That’s why verse 1 says, “He began saying to His disciples, first of all.”

Jesus had two themes here:

Beware of hypocrisy and beware of greed

These are not randomly selected sample sins among many. Rather, these are the two essential realms which exist.

There are only two realms which exist: one is the material realm, and the other is the immaterial; one is the spiritual, the other is the physical; one is the natural, the other is the supernatural. There are only those two realms. Hypocrisy relates to the spiritual realm, and greed relates to the material world. Both the material and the immaterial world threaten to damn eternal souls

And by the way, though they can be separately described and separately defined, they don’t exist separately. That is to say, they are blended together in the lives of the unregenerate. And that is true even of those who are most involved in the religious world. Religious hypocrites, the architects of and the perpetrators of false religion are invariably motivated by money …

In fact, if you look at the world of false religion today, you will see the purveyors and the architects of those false religions inevitably become fat cats, inordinately wealthy, as all false teachers do what they do for money. That’s what’s behind this discussion because it’s a warning. You can be seduced right into hell from the immaterial or the material, from the spiritual or the physical, from the world above or the world below. And that’s why Jesus gives this double warning of bewares. Let’s turn to the text, verse 13; and the story flows fairly quickly.

Luke 12 begins with Jesus giving the crowd powerful lessons about this world and the next:

Warnings and Encouragements

12 Meanwhile, when a crowd of many thousands had gathered, so that they were trampling on one another, Jesus began to speak first to his disciples, saying: Be[a] on your guard against the yeast of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy. There is nothing concealed that will not be disclosed, or hidden that will not be made known. What you have said in the dark will be heard in the daylight, and what you have whispered in the ear in the inner rooms will be proclaimed from the roofs.

“I tell you, my friends, do not be afraid of those who kill the body and after that can do no more. But I will show you whom you should fear: Fear him who, after your body has been killed, has authority to throw you into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear him. Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? Yet not one of them is forgotten by God. Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.

“I tell you, whoever publicly acknowledges me before others, the Son of Man will also acknowledge before the angels of God. But whoever disowns me before others will be disowned before the angels of God. 10 And everyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but anyone who blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven.

11 When you are brought before synagogues, rulers and authorities, do not worry about how you will defend yourselves or what you will say, 12 for the Holy Spirit will teach you at that time what you should say.”

With all those powerful teachings, it seems incongruous that a man in the crowd would interrupt and demand that Jesus tell his brother to share his inheritance with him (verse 13).

While not defending the man, MacArthur explains that this was not such an odd demand, because rabbis were seen to be arbiters of the law:

the word “teacher” informs us – didaskale in the Greek – he identifies Jesus as a rabbi. And rabbis did this as a routine in their villages and their regions. Rabbis were approached by people to bring the law to bear upon civil issues. This is pretty routine stuff. They often did this. And so his request is within the framework of cultural expectation: “Tell my brother to divide the family inheritance to me.” He probably pointed to his brother who had to be there, or Jesus couldn’t have told him. He feels like he’s not getting what he deserves.

Now it’s useless to speculate the facts, you know, whether who’s the older brother, who’s the younger brother, you know, did he have a right to this. He didn’t want any discussion about the facts, he just said, “Tell him.” We don’t know whether he had a legitimate claim on it or not, but I would find it hard to believe that he had any legitimate claim. This was just a manifestation of his greed.

Matthew Henry’s commentary goes through the possible family situations prompting the man’s demand and concludes:

whereas the law gave the elder brother a double portion of the estate, and the father himself could not dispose of what he had but by that rule (Deut 21 16, 17), he would have Christ to alter that law, and oblige his brother, who perhaps was a follower of Christ at large, to divide the inheritance equally with him, in gavel-kind, share and share alike, and to allot him as much as his elder brother. I suspect that this was the case, because Christ takes occasion from it to warn against covetousness, pleonexiaa desire of having more, more than God in his providence has allotted us. It was not a lawful desire of getting his own, but a sinful desire of getting more than his own.

MacArthur says that some of the Old Testament laws had been in abeyance in our Lord’s era. In addition, the rabbis found or created loopholes to exploit in terms of everyday religious law:

There were ancient laws in Israel about the inheritance, Deuteronomy 21, the book of Numbers. The estate was left to the oldest son. The estate therefore was kept intact and the oldest son would manage the estate, and use all of its wealth and all of its products and all of its possessions for the benefit of the whole family. He sort of became the new father of the family. He didn’t waste it all on himself, he simply managed it. That’s what the law of primogenitor was intended to do, not to divest certain members of the family of the care they needed, but rather to pass on the responsibility of headship and leadership to the father, the next generation.

But changes have come so much in the intervening centuries since those laws. There were laws in the early years of the theocracy that said if a teenager is disobedient, kill him. That was a real quick way to stamp out juvenile delinquency. But that had long since gone by the way, as the theocratic kingdom was no longer really ruled by God at all. And many of these things that were established early on had changed; and the culture less agrarian at this point, long moved away from the Old Testament laws, although they certainly kept the ones they wanted to keep.

The man is a materialist. He’s greedy, he’s covetous, and he wants Jesus to tell his brother with some kind of authority, because it was obvious Jesus had great power and authority to give him his money.

So Jesus replied, addressing the man as ‘friend’ — some translations use ‘man’, indicating an insult — asking who appointed Him to be judge and arbiter (verse 14).

Henry says that Jesus responded in that way because He was solely concerned with health and the spiritual world:

He could have done the judge’s part, and the lawyer’s, as well as he did the physician’s, and have ended suits at law as happily as he did diseases; but he would not, for it was not in his commission: Who made me a judge? Probably he refers to the indignity done to Moses by his brethren in Egypt, with which Stephen upbraided the Jews, Acts 7 27, 35. “If I should offer to do this, you would taunt me as you did Moses, Who made thee a judge or a divider?He corrects the man’s mistake, will not admit his appeal (it was coram non judice—not before the proper judge), and so dismisses his bill. If he had come to him to desire him to assist his pursuit of the heavenly inheritance, Christ would have given him his best help; but as to this matter he has nothing to do: Who made me a judge? Note, Jesus Christ was no usurper; he took no honour, no power, to himself, but what was given him, Heb 5 5. Whatever he did, he could tell by what authority he did it, and who gave him that authority. Now this shows us what is the nature and constitution of Christ’s kingdom. It is a spiritual kingdom, and not of this world.

Jesus then gave the man and the crowd a sharp warning, beginning with ‘beware’, a word that demands attention and awareness. He said that they — and we — should be on our guard against all kinds of greed, because the purpose of life is not about piling up possessions (verse 15).

Our commentators explain the words from the Greek manuscript.

Henry says:

Take heed and beware of covetousness; horate—”Observe yourselves, keep a jealous eye upon your own hearts, lest covetous principles steal into them; and phylassesthepreserve yourselves, keep a strict band upon your own hearts, lest covetous principles rule and give law in them.” Covetousness is a sin which we have need constantly to watch against, and therefore frequently to be warned against.

MacArthur tells us:

Beware, horate, look – present imperative – behold, mark, observe, and then guard. Phulassō is a military term: “Provide protective vigilance against every form of greed, all covetousness, pleonexias,” – strong word – “all covetousness.” And the word basically means “an inordinate desire for riches,” “grasping,” “extorting.” “Scheming” is included in this kind of thing. This is as damning as false religion. This is the thirst. Pleonexias is the thirst for more. It’s like drinking salt water: the more you drink, the thirstier you get.

In Ecclesiastes it is wisdom. What Solomon says in chapter 5, verse 10, “He who loves money will not be satisfied with money, nor he who loves abundance with its income.” People who worship money and who love money and who love abundance and love possessions are never satisfied when they get it; it’s just like drinking salt water.

It is not wrong to be blessed with material things. The sin comes in wanting more of them:

The sin is not in having more, the sin is being discontent. The sin is not in having wealth, the sin is in what you do with it. It’s not the amount, it’s the attitude. Abraham was wealthy. Job was wealthy. Solomon was wealthy. Even in the New Testament, no doubt Joseph of Arimathea was wealthy. And there were wealthy people in the New Testament who had the church in their home because they had a large enough home to have a church. It’s not about what you have, it’s about how you feel about what you have. And that’s what the Scripture warns about. It warns about greed and covetousness and the lust for more, so as to consume it on your own desires.

Then Jesus related a parable about a man whose land produced crops in abundance (verse 16).

He thought about what he should do because he had no place to store his abundant crops (verse 17).

So, he decided on a plan: tearing down his existing barns and building larger ones for his grain — and his goods (verse 18).

Note that the pronoun ‘I’ appears five times in total in verses 17 and 18. It was all about him.

MacArthur analyses the parable thus far:

To define life as an acquisition of material possessions is to commit the deadly sin of serving the creature rather than the Creator, Romans 1:25. “Beware of this,” – Jesus says, back to verse 15, and here’s why – “for not even when one has an abundance does his life consist of his possessions.” Not even when you have – and the word “abundance” means “more than enough,” “more than sufficient.” It could be “excess.” It could be “surplus.” That’s the way it’s used three other times in Luke: Luke 9:17, Luke 15:17, Luke 21:4.

Even if you have more than enough, it still doesn’t provide real life. By the way, the word “life” in Greek can be one of two words: bios, which is simply life as opposed to being dead, biological life. You might translate it existence. Then the word for life which is used here, zōē, encompasses all that makes life worth living, all that is real life: satisfaction, fulfillment, enjoyment, meaning, purpose. And he says, “Even when you have surplus and you have excess, that doesn’t make really living, that doesn’t take care of giving you real life.” In fact, the life He’s referring to here is eternal life, because that’s the only kind of life that is fulfilling, satisfying, meaningful, purposeful, producing peace and joy and hope and blessing. You’re never going to get that real life from the material world even if you have more than enough …

Jesus said in John 10:10, “I’ve come that they might have life, the real life, and have it more abundantly.” He wants to give you the life that truly is abundant, and it’s that eternal life. That’s the admonition.

Look at the anecdote; story’s simple. He told them a parable, parabolē. The second part of that word, bole from ballō, “to place,” para, “alongside.” “To place alongside.” That’s what a parable is, it’s a story placed alongside a principle to illustrate the principle.

So He said the land of a certain rich man was very productive. Now that’s good. No dishonesty here, no extortion, no crime, nothing; he just had a great crop. By the way, I love that verb where it says “very productive.” That is the verb euphoreō, and it means “to yield a good crop.” And we get an English word out of it, “euphoria.” Now for us, euphoria has nothing to do with a crop. Euphoria is “elation,” “being filled with joy,” kind of “over the top satisfaction,” “fulfillment,” “feelings of happiness,” “feelings of well-being.” But how interesting that that came in an agrarian culture from having a good crop, being successful.

And he had this crop, it was just absolutely huge. No dishonesty, no ill-gotten gain, no extortion, no evil, no immorality, no illegality; he came to honest wealth. That’s fine. And you know what? If you’re a farmer, of all things that human beings do, that one is most dependent upon circumstances and factors that are outside your control, right? If ever you should thank God, you should thank God for a good crop, since providentially He controls all the elements in the factors. And so, verse 17, “This man began reasoning to himself, saying, ‘What shall I do, since I have no place to store my crops?’” …

You know what strikes me about that, two verses: eight “I’s” and four “my’s”: “I, I, I, I. My, my, my, my.” And here you get the insight into the materialist. This is an imaginary story. But I mean, wouldn’t there be in the minds of the people standing there listening to this – an imaginary group of people who went out and pulled in the harvest. And maybe you might say to those hard-working people, “I’ll share some with them”? And wouldn’t there be an imaginary village with some widows and some orphans? And wouldn’t there be an imaginary village with some poor people? And isn’t there a temple, and isn’t there a synagogue, and isn’t there the work of God? And wouldn’t He be up for consideration for some of this stuff? “I, I, I, I, I. My, my, my, my, my.”

What’s wrong with this picture? No, he’s a smart guy. He is crafty. You say, “Well, he could just sell it all and make some money.” Nah, nah, nah, you don’t want to do that. You flood the market with too much stuff and the price goes down. So what do you do? You restrict what? Supply. So you build bigger barns on the same pad, higher ones so you don’t take up any more of your fields, and you store it all, and then you let it out at whatever pace you want. And then you become the fat cat, you become the Middle Eastern local guru. You’re going to control the prices.

By the way, he didn’t just store his grain there, he stored his goods there, “and my goods.” What’s that? This is the only biblical storage unit I know of. This guy’s got other stuff he’s storing up.

The greedy gentleman farmer was consumed by the abundance of his crop which impressed him. He did not consider that the new, larger barns might catch fire or that someone might steal his grain or that the grain might spoil.

He thought of none of that. Instead, he told himself that he would have ‘ample goods’ laid up for years to come, so he could ‘relax, eat, drink, be merry’ (verse 19).

Henry has this observation:

It is the great absurdity which the children of this world are guilty of that they portion their souls in the wealth of the world and the pleasures of sense.

But God intervened, addressing him as ‘you fool’, telling him that his life was now demanded of him, meaning he was going to die. God asked him who would then possess what he now has (verse 20).

MacArthur explains the phrasing in that verse:

“This night your soul is required of you,” and the actual Greek says, “This night they demand your soul.” That’s an old rabbinic expression, a common plural construction used by the rabbis to refer to an act of God, because God is plural: Elohim. “They” – God, the Trinity, the very Trinity He had been referring to a few minutes before this – “are going to require your soul.”

How foolish to make all your grandiose plans – forget God, forget others, forget your own mortality.

Jesus concluded by saying that this is the fate of those who store up treasure on Earth for themselves but are stingy towards God (verse 21), from whom all blessings come.

MacArthur says:

You never saw a hearse pulling a U-Haul. You can’t take it with you, it doesn’t go. And if you haven’t sent it on ahead somehow, you’re a fool. If you haven’t used what God does give you for His glory and for the benefit of others, and if you haven’t dealt with your own mortality and prepared for eternity, you’re a fool.

If you give it to God, it’ll be there to welcome you. If you’ve invested in His kingdom, Jesus said, “Lay not up treasure for yourselves on earth, but lay up for yourselves treasure in heaven, where moth and rust do not corrupt, and where thieves don’t break through and steal. For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” You can reverse that. “If your heart’s there, that’s where your treasure will go, It’ll go.” It’ll invest in your family, it’ll invest in the kingdom work, it’ll invest in the needs of others, because that’s where your heart is.

How foolish to be a materialist – to be greedy, covetous, self-indulgent, to horde what you have and leave it all behind. So is the man who lays up treasure for himself. It’s not about how much you have, it’s what you do with it.

No doubt there will be many more sermons on this denouncing wealth, but as MacArthur says, it’s what one does with one’s wealth that counts. This is how Christendom developed the ethos of charity and philanthropy over the centuries. Some today would use the expression ‘give back’. It’s the same concept.

As for the materialist’s nightmare of losing all that he has to someone else after his death, Henry points out:

If many a man could have foreseen to whom his house would have come after his death, he would rather have burned it than beautified it.

How true, how true.

Henry also lays out tenets of Christianity that we have long forgotten. Remembering that Christ’s kingdom is not of this world, please note that our faith is not a socio-political construct:

It is a spiritual kingdom, and not of this world. 1. It does not interfere with civil powers, nor take the authority of princes out of their hands. Christianity leaves the matter as it found it, as to civil power. 2. It does not intermeddle with civil rights; it obliges all to do justly, according to the settled rules of equity, but dominion is not founded in grace. 3. It does not encourage our expectations of worldly advantages by our religion. If this man will be a disciple of Christ, and expects that in consideration of this Christ should give him his brother’s estate, he is mistaken; the rewards of Christ’s disciples are of another nature. 4. It does not encourage our contests with our brethren, and our being rigorous and high in our demands, but rather, for peace’ sake, to recede from our right. 5. It does not allow ministers to entangle themselves in the affairs of this life (2 Tim 2 4), to leave the word of God to serve tables. There are those whose business it is, let it be left to them, Tractent fabrilia fabriEach workman to his proper craft.

May all reading this have a blessed Sunday.

The Sixth Sunday of Trinity is on July 24, 2022.

Readings for Year C can be found here.

The Gospel reading is as follows (emphases mine):

Luke 11:1-13

11:1 He was praying in a certain place, and after he had finished, one of his disciples said to him, “Lord, teach us to pray, as John taught his disciples.”

11:2 He said to them, “When you pray, say: Father, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come.

11:3 Give us each day our daily bread.

11:4 And forgive us our sins, for we ourselves forgive everyone indebted to us. And do not bring us to the time of trial.”

11:5 And he said to them, “Suppose one of you has a friend, and you go to him at midnight and say to him, ‘Friend, lend me three loaves of bread;

11:6 for a friend of mine has arrived, and I have nothing to set before him.’

11:7 And he answers from within, ‘Do not bother me; the door has already been locked, and my children are with me in bed; I cannot get up and give you anything.’

11:8 I tell you, even though he will not get up and give him anything because he is his friend, at least because of his persistence he will get up and give him whatever he needs.

11:9 “So I say to you, Ask, and it will be given you; search, and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened for you.

11:10 For everyone who asks receives, and everyone who searches finds, and for everyone who knocks, the door will be opened.

11:11 Is there anyone among you who, if your child asks for a fish, will give a snake instead of a fish?

11:12 Or if the child asks for an egg, will give a scorpion?

11:13 If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!”

Commentary comes from Matthew Henry and John MacArthur (as indicated below).

This is another long post, so please be prepared with refreshment.

Unlike the Jewish hierarchy who prayed aloud in public, reciting the same prayers several times a day, the ordinary Jew in our Lord’s era had forgotten how to pray in a heartfelt way as exemplified by the Psalms.

Jesus never prayed aloud in public. He said that those who did, i.e. the hierarchy, already had their reward. They prayed so that they would be seen and admired by other Jews. Jesus said that God was having nothing of their showy rituals.

Recall that Luke 9 through to Luke 19 documents how Jesus taught His disciples. Here, by request, He teaches them how to pray.

Now, at this point, Jesus was teaching and preaching in Judea. These were the final months of His life.

We are not sure exactly where He was at this point except that He was likely praying away from the crowds in a private place, as He always did. His disciples might have been praying with Him, using their own prayers. Luke does not tell us.

At this place, one of His disciples requested that He teach them to pray in the manner that John the Baptist taught his followers (verse 1).

Matthew Henry explains the request:

Their plea is, “As John also taught his disciples. He took care to instruct his disciples in this necessary duty, and we would be taught as they were, for we have a better Master than they had.” Dr. Lightfoot’s notion of this is, That whereas the Jews’ prayers were generally adorations, and praises of God, and doxologies, John taught his disciples such prayers as were more filled up with petitions and requests; for it is said of them that they did deeseis poiountaimake prayers, ch. 5 33. The word signifies such prayers as are properly petitionary. “Now, Lord, teach us this, to be added to those benedictions of the name of God which we have been accustomed to from our childhood” … This disciple needed not to have urged John Baptist’s example: Christ was more ready to teach than ever John Baptist was, and particularly taught to pray better than John did, or could, teach his disciples.

Students of the Bible know that Jesus had already laid out the Lord’s Prayer earlier in His ministry at the Sermon on the Mount. Matthew’s account has our Lord’s instructions in his sixth chapter.

Henry lays out the differences between Matthew’s and Luke’s accounts:

There are some differences between the Lord’s prayer in Matthew and Luke, by which it appears that it was not the design of Christ that we should be tied up to these very words, for then there would have been no variation. Here is one difference in the translation only, which ought not to have been, when there is none in the original, and that is in the third petition: As in heaven, so in earth; whereas the words are the very same, and in the same order, as in Matthew. But there is a difference in the fourth petition. In Matthew we pray, “Give us daily bread this day:” here, “Give it us day by day“—kath hemeran. Day by day; that is, “Give us each day the bread which our bodies require, as they call for it:” not, “Give us this day bread for many days to come;” but as the Israelites had manna, “Let us have bread to-day for to-day, and to-morrow for to-morrow; for thus we may be kept in a continual dependence upon God, as children upon their parents, and may have our mercies fresh from his hand daily, and may find ourselves under fresh obligations to do the work of every day in the day, according as the duty of the day requires, because we have from God the supplies of every day in the day, according as the necessity of the day requires. Here is likewise some difference in the fifth petition. In Matthew it is, Forgive us our debts, as we forgive: here it is, Forgive us our sins; which proves that our sins are our debts. For we forgive; not that our forgiving those that have offended us can merit pardon from God, or be an inducement to him to forgive us (he forgives for his own name’s sake, and his Son’s sake); but this is a very necessary qualification for forgiveness, and, if God have wrought it in us, we may plead that work of his grace for the enforcing of our petitions for the pardon of our sins: “Lord, forgive us, for thou hast thyself inclined us to forgive others.” There is another addition here; we plead not only in general, We forgive our debtors, but in particular, “We profess to forgive every one that is indebted to us, without exception. We so forgive our debtors as not to bear malice or ill-will to any, but true love to all, without any exception whatsoever.” Here also the doxology in the close is wholly omitted, and the Amen; for Christ would leave them at liberty to use that or any other doxology fetched out of David’s psalms; or, rather, he left a vacuum here, to be filled up by a doxology more peculiar to the Christian institutes, ascribing glory to Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.

Some might wonder why this disciple asked again, if he had heard Jesus teach the prayer before.

It could be that some among them needed reminding of how to pray, as John MacArthur explains:

… they had been raised in a Judaistic environment of apostate religion.  They had been raised with heresy.  They had been raised under the leadership of rabbis and scribes and priests and Pharisees and Sadducees who didn’t know God.  They thought they did but they did not, and so they had invented a false kind of praying; a ritualistic, vainly repetitious kind of praying. It was external, ceremonial that was used for hypocritical purposes to demonstrate one’s supposed self-righteousness publiclyThey had been cheated out of the examples of what it really is to pray.  And as we saw, listening to Jesus pray here in verse 1, waiting till He was finished they were hearing a kind of prayer that was very different from what they were experiencing in the Judaism in which they were raised.  And so one of them says, “Teach us to pray like You pray. Teach us to pray the way John the Baptist taught his followers to pray,” which gives us a wonderful insight. John the Baptist, of course, was a true man of God, a true servant of God, a true saint of God, a true believer in God and so in the midst of apostate Judaism there were those true believers, John being one, who did know how to pray.  And John’s disciples had the same problem Jesus’ disciples had, they had been raised in that apostate environment, they had been raised in the environment of false and hypocritical prayers and they also needed to know how to pray the right way.  And John the Baptist had instructed them. Even the Pharisees comment on that in Luke 5:33, they say, “John’s disciples always fast and pray.” And so here the disciples of Jesus bring up the question: How are we to pray?

He had already taught His apostles to pray.  He had already given this prayer in the Sermon on the Mount so we might conclude that this was a different group of disciples this timeCertainly there were some who had departed from Him and there were others who had been attracted to Him.  We don’t know specifically who these people were, but it may well have been as well that the others who knew the prayer when it was given in Galilee needed to hear it again here in Judea many months later.  It’s really important to know how to pray the right way.  If we have access to all of the supply of heaven, if we have entrance given to us, if the gates to the treasure house of heaven have been kicked wide open and God has invited us to come and put no constraints or limits on our coming, we certainly know then how to access that is critical for us.  They understood it and I think they heard the way Jesus prayed and it was different than the way they were used to hearing people pray.  And they needed Him to teach them.

Note that the Lord’s Prayer begins first by acknowledging God’s power and glory and ends with personal petitions for sustenance and forgiveness.

Jesus told the disciples to first say, ‘Father, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come’ (verse 2).

‘Hallowed be your name’ means ‘Holy is your name’.

MacArthur has more on the word ‘hallowed’, which has two meanings:

First, to hallow, to make holy, to set apart as holy, can mean to make an ordinary thing holy by bringing it into contact with something that is holy, to make an ordinary thing holy by bringing it into contact to something that is holy. Now that’s biblical because that’s what happened to us. I’m not holy and you’re not holy but God views us as holy because He’s united us to whom? To Christ. So in our union with Christ, that which is unholy has been made holy. So we are now called holy ones. We are called saints. That’s what the word “saint” is. So we are holy in the sense that we have been made holy by being brought into contact with one who is holy.

That’s not the usage here because God doesn’t need to be made holy by being brought into contact with someone else who is holy. It simply means here to treat as holy, to hold as holy. That is to say, to recognize that God is different, separated, separated, separated, separated, holy, holy, holy, a different sphere, a different quality of being, a different power, a different knowledge, a different wisdom way beyond us. God is supremely separate from us. He absolutely belongs to a different sphere of life and being. And we come acknowledging that. He is vastly beyond us and above us.

MacArthur advises us on how to consider the words ‘Thy kingdom come’:

When you come to Christ and you’re sick of yourself and sick of your sin and your selfish ways and you bow the knee to the lordship of Jesus Christ and receive from Him eternal salvation, from then on the objective is expressed in this praise and prayer, “Thy kingdom come.” Confessing Jesus as Lord and King is to say, “Take over my life, fit me into Your purpose, put me somewhere in Your objectives and agenda and program.” When I say, “Thy kingdom come,” I am affirming that I have relinquished the rule over my own life. And I allow You to do whatever it is that You want to do. It’s very like the next phrase, “Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” Now this petition is based on one great assumption and that is that God is sovereign and Jesus is Lord and at salvation we are submitting to that glorious reality

“Thy kingdom come.” This puts His interest first. Do whatever advances Your kingdom

First: the logical flow. You know He cares, He’s your Father, you have access, He has wisdom; He has resources. At the same time you know He’s holy and only does what is right. And then, thirdly, you concern yourself with His kingdom and not your own. There are only really two kingdoms. There is the kingdom of God, and there is the kingdom of Satan. There is the kingdom of darkness, as Paul called it, or the kingdom of God’s dear Son, just those two. And everybody is in one or the other. We are either the children of God in His kingdom, or the children of the devil in his kingdom. We either serve God, or we serve Satan. Jesus said, “You’re either for Me or against Me.” There really is no middle ground. And as believers, it shouldn’t be any stretch for us to understand that all of our desires and longings and hopes would be toward the kingdom of which we are a part and in honor and affirmation of the King whom we love and serve.

Then Jesus prayed, ‘Give us each day our daily bread’ (verse 3).

He used ‘bread’ as an all-encompassing word symbolising what we need to survive this life.

MacArthur says:

Now let’s break this request in verse 3 down into several little features.  OK?  Just break it down a little bit.  Number one, the substance, what is it that we’re praying for?  Bread, see it there.  “Give us each day our daily bread.”  What do we mean by bread?  Well we mean more than cooked or baked wheat or flour.  Don’t we?  What do we mean by bread?  Well basically that simply stands for all the temporal issues of life, physical care; food, clothing, housing, basics to survive, to stay alive Martin Luther wrote that bread was the symbol for everything necessary for the preservation of this life Luther said, “Like food, health, good weather, a house, a home, wife, children, good government and peace.”  It’s a way of saying, Lord, if I’m to survive physically You have to be the source of my survival And again, it’s not the necessities of life, it doesn’t talk about what kind of house or what kind of food, or what quality of life.  It just says, “Lord, sustain my life because I cannot advance Your kingdom, I cannot do Your will, I cannot honor Your name, I cannot bring You glory unless I am alive.”

Finally, Jesus said to petition God to ‘forgive us our sins, for we ourselves forgive everyone indebted to us. And do not bring us to the time of trial’ (verse 4).

Henry explains that we cannot expect God to forgive our sins if we do not forgive those who sin against us. We also pray that we are not tempted to sin:

(9.) That we have no reason to expect, nor can with any confidence pray, that God would forgive our sins against him, if we do not sincerely, and from a truly Christian principle of charity, forgive those that have at any time affronted us or been injurious to us. Though the words of our mouth be even this prayer to God, if the meditation of our heart at the same time be, as often it is, malice and revenge to our brethren, we are not accepted, nor can we expect an answer of peace.

(10.) That temptations to sin should be as much dreaded and deprecated by us as ruin by sin; and it should be as much our care and prayer to get the power of sin broken in us as to get the guilt of sin removed from us; and though temptation may be a charming, fawning, flattering thing, we must be as earnest with God that we may not be led into it as that we may not be led by that to sin, and by sin to ruin.

Jesus then illustrates God’s infinite love for them — and us — by giving them a hypothetical situation of a disciple who goes to a friend in the middle of the night to ask for three loaves of bread (verse 5) because he has an unexpected houseguest and nothing to give him to eat (verse 6).

The friend doesn’t want to give him anything because it is the middle of the night, he is drowsy from being awakened and his wife and children are asleep (verse 7).

Yet, persistence, Jesus said, will cause the friend to relent in the end and give the man what he needs, if only to get rid of him and go back to bed (verse 8).

Jesus was saying that God is different to that friend. We have only to ask and if it be His will, He will give us what we request; if we knock, He will open His door to us (verses 9, 10).

MacArthur explains our Lord’s illustration leading into His Father’s response:

What happened here was this guy finally got out of bed and gave the man what he wanted because he was annoyingly persistent He was overly persistent.  He was troublesomely urgent.  It’s the word in the Greek anaideian, it’s hapax legomena, that is, once said in the New Testament, the only place it ever appears And really what it means – and you might see this in your marginal reading in the NAS – is “shamelessness, somebody who just sets aside all sense of shame.”  It’s, one lexicon said, “overly bold.”  Another one said, “utter shamelessness.”  Somebody who is just brash, and bold, somebody who has a lot of nerve.  Are we supposed to pray like that?

That’s what Jesus is going to teach us here to pray like that, and thus to participate in the means by which God achieves His ends … 

“Lend me three loaves.”  Now he doesn’t mean three great big bakery loaves, like we’re used to.  A loaf would be basically one piece of flat bread He wants three pieces of flat bread, which would be a normal meal dipped in perhaps some kind of olive oil, or spread with some kind of fruit, or whatever.  This would be sufficient for an evening meal.

Now this is not an emergency He isn’t saying, “My wife is having a baby.  My wife is dying.  My kid broke his leg.  We’ve got a robber in the house.”  He’s in the middle of the night and he says, “I want these three loaves.”  And the guy is probably thinking, “What in the world?  He is waking me up for a midnight snack.  This is ridiculous.”  Actually, it’s a very generous and unselfish act on his part because he’s been awakened himself.

Because verse 6 says, “For a friend of mine has come.”  I’m just passing on the joy here.  “Friend of mine has come to me from a journey and I have nothing to set before him.”  People often traveled at night in that hot part of the world, and his friend came at midnight, and he had to get up and host him.  He arrived unexpectedly. 

Hospitality, by the way, was expected in the ancient world, very much expected among the Jewish people.  They majored on hospitality.  It was part of their social duty, more a part of their religious duty.  Part of their duty to God to care for the stranger, right?  I mean, that’s Old Testament stuff.  They knew what they had to do.  And so this poor man who had this guest arrive at midnight at his house, he had sort of a difficult dilemma: I can be a poor host or a poor neighbor, right? 

Being a poor host was not an option because hospitality was at the high level of priorities in cultural considerations And he knew his neighbor knew it, as wellSo both of then would really be doing what’s right, even though it was a bit inconvenient for both of them So he says, “It’s really not for me.  I don’t want a midnight snack.  It’s a friend of mine that’s come to me from a journey, and I have nothing to set before him.”  He’s obviously hungry, hasn’t had anything to eat, no shops, restaurants, no stockpile of food, nothing.  Very different, by the way, from our world, isn’t it?  When you just make it every day with the bread you have …

“The door has already been shut.”  It wasn’t a door like we have that you shut it easily Sometimes doors actually dropped through rings, a combination of metal and iron, and removing it was not just a simple thing to do, and opening would make a lot of racket And there was a whole family there And he says, “My children and I are in bed.”  Usually the same bed.  They had a big mat, one-room houses, right?  One-room houses The kitchen in one corner, living space over here, and bedroom in the same place.  Just roll out the mat and everybody goes down on the mat with some pillows, or whatever.  And the colder it got, the closer they all got together.  That’s how they all kept themselves warm. 

So if he gets up, everybody’s up, all the kids are up, everybody’s up.  And probably by now the people living close next door are up because they’re listening to the conversation, as well.  The whole thing seems very presumptuous, very bothersome.  It really isn’t a big emergency.  I mean, couldn’t he – would he die if he waited till breakfast?  Isn’t he – aren’t you a little bit overdoing this hospitality thing?  Tell the guy to go to bed.  You’ll forget it when you fall asleep.  You know, give him a speech.  You’ve been on a long journey.  You’re probably tired.  Just lay down.  You’ll fall asleep and you’ll forget.  The man says, “I’m not going to get up and give you anything.  This is too much trouble.”

And then Jesus, skipping any prolonged narrative, jumps to the point of the story in verse 8 “I tell you, even though he will not get up and give him anything because he is his friend, yet because of his persistence – his importunity, his brashness, his boldness “ – he will get up and give him as much as he needs.”  There’s really no sense in not getting up because he’s not going away.  And you’ve already awakened me, and you’ve already awaken the kids. 

I tell you, he’s going to get what he asks for because of his shamelessness That’s the word, anaideian, because of his shamelessness, his brashness, his gall.  The emphasis here is on this boldness.  It isn’t so much on persistence and much asking, it’s just the boldness of asking at such an inopportune time, just took a lot of gall to do this. 

Well, it’s a perfect illustration.  It’s just a perfect illustration of us going to God and saying, “I know it’s inappropriate to interrupt You because You’re running a universe and You’ve got all these things going But I just need You to sit down and listen to me, and look at this, and don’t be distracted.  I’ve got some things I need to – ”  That is just – that’s over the top.

But it isn’t.  The picture here is of shameless nerve, boldness, importunity, things that seem almost ludicrous to us going into the presence of the God of the universe.  But our Lord is teaching us how to be invasive, how to be bold in our prayers This man responded not for friendship, but for irritation.  He is in contrast to God who, by the way, the Old Testament says, “Never sleeps and never – ” what? “ – slumbers.”  So you’re not waking Him up.  And if this man would give this man what he wanted not for friendship, but just because of his shameless boldness, what will God who loves you perfectly give you when you come into His presence?

Here’s how you pray.  “Father, hallowed be – ” what? “ – Your name, Your kingdom come – ” and then we add, of course, from Matthew 6, “Your will be done.”  So it’s always according to God’s name, according to God’s kingdom, and according to God’s will that we ask.  It’s not a blank check.

The generosity of the statement in verses 9 and 10 is absolutely amazing And because verse 9 is so shocking, verse 10 repeats the same thing It’s not necessary to say the same thing twice, especially when you don’t really change anything.  But he does because of the first verse, verse 9, just sort of leaves you stunned.  “Come on,” God says, “you can start whispering if you want through the wall, and you can raise your voice and begin to make demands, and you can even bang on the door, if you want, and I’ll tell you this.  When you ask, you’ll find; and when you knock you will receive what you desire.  I will open the door.”  What a great statement

And what comes out of this?  I’ll tell you what comes out of this, an experience of the goodness of God.  An experience of communion with God This is the richness of what we enjoy in this life and in the life to come, the eternal reward for being eager participants in the purposes of God.  Next time you pray, be bold.  Next time you pray, which should be at all times, praying without ceasing, be shamelessNext time you pray, go into the presence of God eager to pour out your heart Next time you pray, ask God to listen and to see, and not to turn away, and to hear the cry of your heart.  And as you pray and God unfolds His purpose, you will be enjoying the experience of having been a part of what He accomplishes and enjoy His goodness

This concept, this great truth, this great promise is built on a sort of axiom, an obvious principle, and that is built on a divine foundation. 

Then Jesus spoke of a father’s innate goodness.

I realise that with all the horrible news stories we read, some will think that few fathers have innate goodness, but most of them do — and that’s why we do not read about them in the newspapers. They get on with providing well for and loving their children.

Jesus asked the disciples, a number of whom must have been fathers themselves, if their child asks for a fish, will these men give them a snake instead (verse 11).

Or, if their child asks for an egg, would they give them a scorpion (verse 12).

MacArthur says that Jesus was asking them to follow His logic by moving on from friendship to fatherhood:

Friendship is one thing and friendship goes so far. Fatherhood is something else, isn’t it? This again is a typical common Jewish pattern of reasoning from the lesser to the greater. If a friend will respond to your boldness, what will a father do?

My children certainly didn’t hesitate to ask me for what they wanted.  Do yours?  They certainly have never hesitated to ask their mother what they wanted.  And the expectation is that if it’s something they need and we know they need it, they’re going to receive it, because they understand the relationship that we have is one of love, and care, and responsibility, and affection.  And that’s the point here. 

So Jesus is then saying this promise.  You can ask, and seek, and knock, and you will receive, and you will find, and the door will be opened, is based on the fact that you’re coming to a father.  This is the analogy.  This is the principle here.  And it’s very interesting how he lays it out.  He says one of you fathers, one of you of the disciples that are listening to this – it says back in verse 1 that He was speaking to His disciples.  “One of you fathers is asked by his son for a fish.  Your son’s hungry.  He wants a fish.  He wants fish.”  That was kind of the staple meat. 

And so what are you going to give him?  You’re going to give him a snake instead of a fish?  I mean, if he wants to eat and he’s hungry, you’re not going to mock his hunger and you’re certainly not going to give him a snake.  Some suggest that this is also the word for eel, I think it’s best to see it as a snake.  You wouldn’t give him an animal that could poison him.  When he wants food and he wants to be fed, you’re not going to give him something that could kill him.

And then He gives another simple analogy. “If he asks for an egg, he will not give him a scorpion, will he?”  Why that comparison?  Because scorpions were kind of a yellowy color.  There are different breeds that are different kinds of scorpions.  But historians tell us the kinds in those days were of a sort of a yellow color, not unlike the color of an egg, and they would curl up, and when they curled up in a little ball, they looked like a small egg.  So there was some kind of a similarity there to make the analogy work.  He says, “If your son wants an egg because he’s hungry, you’re not going to give him a deadly scorpion.”

Now when Jesus taught this elsewhere in the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 7:9, He added a third analogy.  He said, “If your son asks for bread, you’re not going to give him – ” what?  “ – a stone.”  You’re not going to mock your son’s hunger.  You’re not going to mock your son’s need.  And you’re not going to give him something that he can’t eat.  You’re not going to give him something that will kill him.  That’s the principle.  The principle is that fathers take care of their childrenAnd when children come and they have needs, the father meets the needs.

And so we see the parable which illustrates that we are to come at any time, no matter how simple the need, and to be overly bold in our asking.  The promise that underlies our coming is that whatever it is that we seek, if it’s within the framework of His will, we’ll receive it.  That is based upon the principle that God is a father.

Jesus ended by saying that if the disciples, who are evil — inherently sinful — know how to give good gifts to their children, how much more will God the Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him (verse 13).

MacArthur explains ‘how much more’, a longstanding Jewish comparison used to emphasise the greater of two things:

You, being evil.  However, have the residual imago dei, you have left in you the residue of the image of God that was defiled in the fall, but it’s still there, because even though you are at heart evil, “the heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked,” Jeremiah 17:9; “there is none good, no not one,” Romans chapter 3.  We are evil. “Yet know how to give good gifts to your children.”  That’s the residual of the image of God

Whenever you see what we call “the milk of human kindness,” whenever you see people who don’t know God parent well, love their children, show kindness, give their children what they need, be philanthropic; you’re seeing the residual of the image of God, so warped and scarred in the fall, but still there.  And so He says, “You, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children – ” and here comes the key “ – how much more – ”

This is an old rabbinical way to argue, an old Jewish way to argue, the “how much more” argument, the “how much more” approach.  “How much more than you who are evil shall your heavenly Father – ” implied, who is not evil, who is perfectly holy “ – give?”  I mean, if you who are at heart evil give good gifts to your children, how much more shall your heavenly Father who is holy give to His children?  If you who can only love imperfectly give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father who loves perfectly give to His children?  If you who are limited in your wisdom give to your children what you think is best, how much more will your Father who is perfectly wise give the best to His children?

The whole thing sets a huge gulf in our understanding.  You can go to God because He’s a loving Father.  But He’s a loving Father far beyond the most loving father in this world who is by nature evil and who does his best to give good gifts out of a corrupt and fallen heart.  How much more will your heavenly Father love you with a perfect love?  How much more with perfect wisdom, and perfect compassion, and perfect mercy and grace, and perfect understanding of your situation, and perfect goodness give to you?

So when you go to God, and you go with boldness, and you go with persistence, and you rush in and you unload what’s on your heart, and first you ask, and then you start pleading, and then you start banging, know this, that God is delighted with that – delighted with that – because He, with His perfect love, and perfect wisdom, and perfect power, and perfect provision is able to give the best to His children.  In fact, Psalm 84:11 says, “He withholds no good thing from those who walk uprightly,” His children.  He holds nothing back.  So how much more shall your heavenly Father give than any earthly father? 

I must confess that I have been praying boldly for something in the distant future for some time now.

I do end my petition by asking if it be His will. I have no idea if it is His will and, just by praying that, I accept that it might not be.

But I most certainly know one thing: if what I ask for is not His will, then He will grant me something far better than I had ever imagined.

Therefore, I pray boldly.

MacArthur summarises the Lord’s Prayer as follows, which will help put us in the right mind when we recite it. Note that this great prayer ends just as it started with an affirmation of God’s supreme nature:

… as you look back at the prayer, this is a pattern, a framework for praying.  It gives us what it is that God expects to be the character of our prayers.  It is a marvelously simple, memorable little framework.  And as I’ve been saying each week, you learn to pray your way through this framework.  It’s sequential. It’s designed that way, and if you blend together the Luke passage with the Matthew passage, you get the full prayer in terms of our Lord’s instruction and we’re doing that, importing what we need to from Matthew to get the whole thing.  It sets the record straight once and for all as to how we are to pray, how we are to access the throne of God for the glory of God.  You remember our little verse, John 14:13, “Whatever you ask in My name, that will I do that the Father may be glorified in the Son.”  In the end, all our prayers are for the glory of the Father through the Son.  And this prayer points that out.  When you say, “Father,” you acknowledge God as source.  When you say “Hallowed be Thy name,” you acknowledge God as sacred.  When you say, “Thy kingdom come,” you acknowledge God as sovereign.  When you say, “Thy will be done,” you acknowledge Him as superior.  When you say, “Give us this day our daily bread,” you acknowledge Him as supporter.  When you say, “Forgive us our sins,” you acknowledge Him as Savior.  When you say, “Lead us not into temptation,” you acknowledge Him as shelter.  And when you say, “Thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever and ever, amen,” you acknowledge Him as supreme.  It really is praying to the end that God is glorified.

May all reading this have a blessed Sunday.

The Fifth Sunday of Trinity is on July 17, 2022.

Readings for Year C can be found here.

The Gospel reading is as follows (emphases mine):

Luke 10:38-42

10:38 Now as they went on their way, he entered a certain village, where a woman named Martha welcomed him into her home.

10:39 She had a sister named Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to what he was saying.

10:40 But Martha was distracted by her many tasks; so she came to him and asked, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to do all the work by myself? Tell her then to help me.”

10:41 But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and distracted by many things;

10:42 there is need of only one thing. Mary has chosen the better part, which will not be taken away from her.”

Commentary comes from Matthew Henry and John MacArthur.

Ever since I first paid attention to this reading in my early teens, part of my heart goes out to Martha.

Martha was a pragmatist. Even when Jesus appeared after hers and Mary’s brother Lazarus died and He asked to see the body, she said:

39 Jesus said, Take ye away the stone. Martha, the sister of him that was dead, saith unto him, Lord, by this time he stinketh: for he hath been dead four days.

She did not want to expose Jesus to any unpleasantness. She wanted everything to be just right.

Moving on to Luke’s Gospel, John MacArthur explains the narrative that has been unfolding since Luke 9 and which will extend into Luke 19:38:

that whole section is primarily going to focus on His teaching ministry. It’s a teaching time. Miracles will take a backseat. They are only occasionally mentioned. The emphasis is going to be on the Lord’s teaching. And the students, through this whole six months, are primarily His apostles and disciples. This is their final semester in preparation for taking the gospel to the ends of the earth. This is their final preparation to proclaim the will of God, to ready them to be inspired by the Spirit, some of them to write the New Testament. And what dominates this section is teaching. Luke isn’t even interested in where Jesus goes. Here we read in verse 38 He entered a certain village. In chapter 11 verse 1 He was praying in a certain place. And it’s going to be like that until chapter 18 verse 35 and we finally get a town mentioned. And it’s Jericho, Jericho down at the Dead Sea, from which Jesus starts up to Jerusalem. Luke is not concerned about where Jesus is. And as I said, miracles are only occasionally discussed. The focus here is on the content of His teaching, not on where. And we’re not even sure that this is necessarily in chronological sequence. We can’t hold Luke to that. This is not necessarily in the order that Jesus taught all of this. In fact, He crisscrossed in Judea even into the border areas of Galilee into Perea, moving north and south and east and west all over that area throughout this time. But what is important is that we learn what He taught. This is private instruction from the incarnate God of the universe, nothing like it. It is in many ways the richest time in this whole gospel of Luke

Now the Lord’s teaching is radical. The Lord’s teaching calls for a departure from Jewish conventional wisdom. It is cogent. It is powerful. It is urgent. It is and is and will be life changing. For us this could be the greatest adventure of our Christian life. It will all sort of culminate when we come into chapter 19 verse 28, Jesus will enter Jerusalem, start the last week of His life, which runs to the end of chapter 23 and then chapter 24 is the resurrection. So we’re going to be in school with Jesus for the last months of His life. And He prepares us for this with this wonderful little story of Martha and Mary.

Matthew Henry calls to our attention the fact that Jesus spent much of His time in villages and the countryside:

Christ honoured the country-villages with his presence and favour, and not the great and populous cities only; for, as he chose privacy, so he countenanced poverty.

That is something to keep in mind, especially as history shows us that people have often scorned the countryside and those they consider to be ‘country bumpkins’. Jesus thought — and acted — differently in this regard.

Luke tells us that as ‘they’ — Jesus and His disciples — went on their way, He entered a certain village where a woman named Martha welcomed Him into her home (verse 38).

Henry says:

This village was Bethany, nigh to Jerusalem, whither Christ was now going up, and he took this in his way.

MacArthur has more on Bethany, the village that would become so pivotal for Jesus:

The name of the village was Bethany. How do we know that? Because we find out from John in John 11 and 12 that that’s where Mary and Martha lived with their brother Lazarus. And so we know this village, Bethany. Been there many, many times. It’s just a little under two miles east of the eastern wall of Jerusalem, just over the top of the Mount of Olives and down the backside … Bethany was so near to Jerusalem as just to be a brief walk. And that’s where He was, indicating again His crisscrossing. This isn’t at the end, this is many months before He’ll finally go back to Bethany, stay with Mary and Martha, raise Lazarus from the dead, then enter the city when the buzz has hit the whole city that He raised him from the dead. And that is the thing that finally precipitates His crucifixion because the leaders realize He’s completely taken over the people. That comes later.

This may have been the first visit, may have been the first time they met. But between this time and the last time when Lazarus was raised from the dead, there may have been other visits in between because by the time you get to the account of Lazarus, He knows them very well, very intimate and perhaps had stayed there on a number of occasions. But for now, He comes to this village of Bethany. And it says there in verse 38, “A woman named Martha,” and the language here indicates that He probably didn’t know her. It doesn’t say a friend, it doesn’t say Martha. It says a woman named Martha.

We know from the past few weeks in the Year C readings, specifically those from the Second and Third Sundays after Trinity, that Jesus and His disciples did not always receive a welcome when they entered a village.

Here, they did.

MacArthur shows us that Martha gave Jesus and His disciples a warm welcome:

“Martha” is an Aramaic word meaning “mistress.”  That is rather than the master of the house, the mistress of the house.  It suits her since obviously she appears to be the hostess and it is her houseShe is likely the oldest because she’s usually named first when Martha and Mary are namedAnd also likely she was a widow since no husband is named.  Well she welcomed Him.  That’s a grand word. Dechomai is to receive. Hupodechomai is to embrace and entertain as a guest.  They were happy to have Him.  They were excited to have HimThey believed in Him.

How do you know that?  Verse 40, Martha says to Him, “Lord,” Kurios. They had at some point embraced the truth that He was Lord.  And here He was coming to their town, they having heard the gospel perhaps from the seventy. Perhaps they had been some who had been delivered from demons when the seventy went out. We don’t know.  But she rushed to take the initiative.  And here was a receptive house.  And you remember the instruction for the seventy, when you go into a house and they’ll take you there, stay there. Remember?  Stay there.  Her goal was to take Jesus in, serve Him with hospitalityThis is only equaled by Abraham and Sarah having God and two angels come for dinner.  Here comes God and the apostles and whoever else and she makes extensive preparations, of course.

Luke tells us that Martha had a sister Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to what He was saying (verse 39).

It appears that this was a spontaneous and natural act for Mary.

She was also the lady who anointed Jesus with nard, a very expensive perfume used in embalming, a short time before He was crucified.

That also appeared to be a spontaneous reaction. She was, it would seem, a woman for whom still waters — emotion — ran deep.

Here is Matthew’s account (Matthew 26:6-13). Those nearby criticised Mary for her heartfelt act of love for the Lord. He, in turn, rebuked them:

Jesus Anointed at Bethany

While Jesus was in Bethany in the home of Simon the Leper, a woman came to him with an alabaster jar of very expensive perfume, which she poured on his head as he was reclining at the table.

When the disciples saw this, they were indignant. “Why this waste?” they asked. “This perfume could have been sold at a high price and the money given to the poor.”

10 Aware of this, Jesus said to them, “Why are you bothering this woman? She has done a beautiful thing to me. 11 The poor you will always have with you,[a] but you will not always have me. 12 When she poured this perfume on my body, she did it to prepare me for burial. 13 Truly I tell you, wherever this gospel is preached throughout the world, what she has done will also be told, in memory of her.”

Returning to today’s reading, MacArthur tells us that it was highly unusual for a woman to sit at a man’s feet. Only a man could do that:

The rabbis didn’t allow that.  A woman could learn in the back, or in the woman’s section.  But to come up and be at His feet, actually parakathezomai, para, alongside, she was as close as she could get, as near as she could be.  Her position indicated her intense interest in His teaching.  She got as close as she could get not to miss a wordShe was literally riveted to the most powerful, clear, truthful teacher who ever spoke.  There she is right alongside Jesus, sitting at His feet.  That’s a term we use today.  When you say you go to school, you sit at the feet of a certain scholar. It’s borrowed from the ancient world But women didn’t have that privilege.  Some rabbis said it’s useless to teach a woman.  It wasn’t. It isn’t.  She didn’t care about conventional wisdom. She was there listening to the Lord’s words, the closer the betterAnd she demonstrates the attitude of a true believer.

We can see from that there was but a short step in her mind to anointing Jesus with precious perfume some time later.

Meanwhile, Martha was elsewhere in the house, ‘distracted by her many tasks’; in her frustration, she went up to Jesus and asked if He did not care that she was left with all the work, wanting Him to tell Mary to go and help her (verse 40).

Henry points out the good and the bad side of Martha in that verse:

1. Something commendable, which must not be overlooked. (1.) Here was a commendable respect to our Lord Jesus; for we have reason to think it was not for ostentation, but purely to testify her good-will to him, that she made this entertainment. Note, Those who truly love Christ will think that well bestowed that is laid out for his honour. (2.) Here was a commendable care of her household affairs. It appears, from the respect shown to this family among the Jews (John 11 19), that they were persons of some quality and distinction; and yet Martha herself did not think it a disparagement to her to lay her hand even to the service of the family, when there was occasion for it. Note, It is the duty of those who have the charge of families to look well to the ways of their household. The affectation of state and the love of ease make many families neglected.

2. Here was something culpable, which we must take notice of too. (1.) She was for much serving. Her heart was upon it, to have a very sumptuous and splendid entertainment; great plenty, great variety, and great exactness, according to the fashion of the place. She was in care, peri pollen diakonianconcerning much attendance. Note, It does not become the disciples of Christ to affect much serving, to affect varieties, dainties, and superfluities in eating and drinking; what need is there of much serving, when much less will serve? (2.) She was cumbered about it; periespato—she was just distracted with it. Note, Whatever cares the providence of God casts upon us we must not be cumbered with them, nor be disquieted and perplexed by them. Care is good and duty; but cumber is sin and folly. (2.) She was then cumbered about much serving when she should have been with her sister, sitting at Christ’s feet to hear his word. Note, Worldly business is then a snare to us when it hinders us from serving God and getting good to our souls.

Martha made a bold, possibly impertinent, request of our Lord.

In response, Jesus gently rebuked Martha, addressing her by her first name, to make it all the more pertinent, telling her that she was worried and distracted by many things (verse 41) — too many things.

Henry says:

He repeated her name, Martha, Martha; he speaks as one in earnest, and deeply concerned for her welfare. Those that are entangled in the cares of this life are not easily disentangled. To them we must call again and again, O earth, earth, earth, hear the word of the Lord.

Jesus said that there is only one thing which is important and Mary chose the better part, which will not be taken away from her (verse 42).

MacArthur gives us this analysis about Martha and our Lord’s response to her:

she was doing it for the Lord, the guest of all guests. But in the process she just had her priorities completely twisted. Forget that. You’ve got God in there speaking divine truth, Martha. She’s fussing around all over the place trying to get done what she wants done the way she wants it done and loses sight completely of a rare privilege, to hear the Lord of the universe teach privately and personally she and her sister; could have learned from His lips. Her sister took the privilege; she got it. Furthermore, it wasn’t bad enough that Martha’s priorities were messed up, but once your priorities get messed up your attitude does too. So she starts losing the joy of this service. She becomes agitated. She becomes frustrated. And then she gets mad. That is not the right attitude by which to dispense your hospitality. At the apex of her exasperation, she acted in a way that shows how twisted she was, how easy it is to start out doing something good but because you don’t understand what is best, even what is good, creates selfishness, frustration, and then you do something that’s outrageous. Because you can’t contain your attitude, it comes out.

Look at this. “She came up to Him.” I mean just that. “Lord, could You just hold it there for a minute? And I know these are important things. Could You…” She came up to Him. What she should have done, especially when she was frustrated and angry and full of anxiety, irritated, she should have just gone in there and sat down next to Mary and listened. The Lord didn’t care about the stuff. He didn’t care about the meal. He came to teach the truth. If He ate or didn’t eat, it wouldn’t matter to Him or the rest. She comes up to Jesus and she says this, “Lord, do You not care?” That’s unbelievable. What an indictment. “Do You not care?” I mean, that is one of the most graceless statements ever made by a human being to Jesus. Do you mean the One on whom you cast all your care because He cares for you? Do you not care? That is a sad attack. That is an unthinking indictment. She’s out of control, she’s over the top. This is what we call, “She’s lost it.” It’s like saying, “Well, are You just going to stand there or sit there, whatever posture Jesus was in, and just keep talking about divine life-changing, soul-transforming, sin-shattering, heavenly blessing-producing joy, giving peace, bringing glorious truth, and ignore the fact that the table isn’t set?”

I mean, she could have come up behind Jesus, you know, and got Mary’s attention and gone… But to come up to Jesus and say what she said? Specifically she says, “Do You not care that my sister has left me to do all the serving alone?” I know You know all the secrets of time and eternity. I know You know all that needs to be known about life and death, righteousness and iniquity, and all the glories of heaven. But do You know the bread is burning? And Mary is just sitting there doing nothing.

Now Martha was all caught up in the bread that perishes, wasn’t she? She was worried about the bread that feeds the body and Mary was into the bread that feeds the soul. What a skewed view. And finally she says, well it’s kind of hidden in there, “I assume You do understand that so tell her to help me.” She’s gone all the way to commanding God. Tell her to help me. Staggering, frankly, to me; this is a very bossy lady. And it all comes because she has a twisted priority. She doesn’t get it …

Now, you know, the Lord could have said to her, “Whoa, back off, Martha,” like we might.  But He didn’t, so gracious.  Verse 41, “The Lord answered and said to her, ‘Martha, Martha…'” There’s tenderness in that, isn’t there?  “Martha, Martha.”  It’s a rebuke but it’s a sympathetic rebuke.  “Martha, Martha, you are worried,” merimnaō, to be unduly concerned, “and bothered,” thorubazō, to be troubled.  You are all messed up, worried, bothered about so many things, but only a few things are necessary, really only one.  This is corrective, but it’s sympatheticIt was good to do what she did, but not then, not when it was time to hear the Word of God.  And He says this amazing statement, “Only a few things are necessary, really only one.”  You can boil it down, a few things. David said, “I…I just seek Your face, I just want to see Your beauty.”  Paul said, “I want to be like You, I want to see Your beauty, I want to be like You, I want to love You.”  Well all that boils down to one, doesn’t it?  You have to know Me. And how you going to know Me?  You’ve got to know My mind.  How you going to know My mind?  Hear My Word.

The lesson of the story, MacArthur tells us, is this:

How can you tell a true believer? They hear the Word of God and they do itShe had a desire to hear the Word of God. She grasped the amazing opportunity. Here was the Lord in of all places in her little village, of all places her house, in her little room and she was sitting at His feet and hearing the very truth of God from the lips of the Lord of heaven Himself. And her priority was to hear, to listen, to love that truth, to believe that truth, to act on that truth.

The single priority for all Christians is to hear the revealed Word of God because that is prior to every other spiritual duty, which is motivated by, informed by, and defined by Scripture. The story makes it so clear. Number one priority, hear what God has said. Now if that’s your responsibility, what is mine? Pretty obvious. To tell you what God has said. Is that not true? Talk about basic and simple, that’s it. And how rare is that? How many times every week of my life do I hear from people, “We cannot find a church anywhere in our place where the pastor will tell us what is in the Bible,” unthinkable

Nothing is as important as divine truth. It is the priority. And the Lord takes Mary’s side. This rare opportunity is too rich and too critical to turn to anything else.

May all reading this have a blessed and beautiful Sunday.

The Fourth Sunday after Trinity is on July 10, 2022.

Readings for Year C can be found here.

The Gospel reading is as follows (emphases mine):

Luke 10:25-37

10:25 Just then a lawyer stood up to test Jesus. “Teacher,” he said, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?”

10:26 He said to him, “What is written in the law? What do you read there?”

10:27 He answered, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbor as yourself.”

10:28 And he said to him, “You have given the right answer; do this, and you will live.”

10:29 But wanting to justify himself, he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”

10:30 Jesus replied, “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell into the hands of robbers, who stripped him, beat him, and went away, leaving him half dead.

10:31 Now by chance a priest was going down that road; and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side.

10:32 So likewise a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side.

10:33 But a Samaritan while traveling came near him; and when he saw him, he was moved with pity.

10:34 He went to him and bandaged his wounds, having poured oil and wine on them. Then he put him on his own animal, brought him to an inn, and took care of him.

10:35 The next day he took out two denarii, gave them to the innkeeper, and said, ‘Take care of him; and when I come back, I will repay you whatever more you spend.’

10:36 Which of these three, do you think, was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of the robbers?”

10:37 He said, “The one who showed him mercy.” Jesus said to him, “Go and do likewise.”

Commentary comes from Matthew Henry and John MacArthur.

The Parable of the Good Samaritan follows on from last week’s reading whereby Jesus sent the 70 disciples out to evangelise and perform miracles in order to save people’s souls. My exegesis, with quotes from our commentators, is a long read but is necessary background for evangelising in a biblical manner.

Before going into today’s reading, it is important to understand that everyone in our Lord’s era believed in eternal life.

John MacArthur looks at the Jewish preoccupation with eternal life. They had it right because they knew the Old Testament:

They knew the reality of the condition of their hearts.  They had painted themselves white on the surface.  But that nagging question was there because they knew they weren’t right with God, because they knew they weren’t in control of their lives.  They knew they couldn’t live righteously on the inside There was the fear that they were going to miss that eternal life And the fact that they came and asked the question points up how this question existed and it was everywhere.

They believed in eternal life They wanted to be there.  And when Jesus started preaching, what did He preach about?  “For God so loves the world that He gave His only begotten Son that whosoever believes in Him might not perish but have eternal life,” everlasting life His message was about eternal life all through the preaching of Jesus.  I…I’m amazed how many, many times He talked about eternal life. At least fifty times eternal life is referred to in the New Testament The Jews looked at the Scripture and they searched Why?  They wanted to find the way to eternal life.  That’s what they were looking for.

You know, they were a lot further ahead of many evangelicals today, at least on the surface.  At least they knew that the issue was eternal life, not a better life here … 

Also:

The promise of the Old Testament was that God would send His Anointed who would establish an eternal kingdom. The Jews anticipated that eternal kingdom where God would rule through His anointed Messiah, where righteousness would prevail and peace, where all that was ever promised to Abraham and to David and all that was promised in the New Covenant to Jeremiah and Ezekiel would come to fruition and fulfillment. There would be a realm of perfect righteousness, perfect joy, perfect peace, perfect fulfillment, perfect satisfaction, perfect relationships. They wanted to be there. Their preoccupation was with eternal life. And by that, they were referring to the next world, the next life, God’s eternal kingdom of heaven, not the current world and not the current life.

This question was so much on their minds that it surfaces numerous times in Jesus’ encounters in His ministry. As I pointed out last time, there are several such incidents recorded in the New Testament. Each gospel refers to it; Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. Different occasions when people came and essentially asked the same question: What do we do to receive eternal life? What do we do to make sure that we do the works that are going to bring us into Your eternal kingdom? They had that forward look. They had that perspective about the life to come and thus they asked the most critical question.

The pagan Gentiles also believed in eternal life.

MacArthur tells us:

All the Greeks were believers in eternal life All the Romans were believers in eternal life.

Atheism, he says, is a relatively recent invention:

All that other materialism, humanism and atheism is a modern invention of man and it’s not a rational invention It didn’t come out of his understanding of the universe, it is a moral invention, or if you like, an immoral invention. 

Now on to today’s reading.

While Jesus was preaching, a lawyer stood up to test Him, asking what must he do to inherit eternal life (verse 25).

Jewish lawyers were theological, not civil, lawyers. Any lawyer then judged a case through theology. There was no civil Jewish law. It was all religious, based not only on Scripture but also on their own traditions.

Jewish lawyers were the scribes mentioned in the New Testament. The Pharisees liked the scribes to come to hear Jesus teach so that they could come up with legalistic ways of trapping Him. Jesus won the debates every time.

Our commentators differ as to whether this scribe — lawyer — had good intentions. MacArthur says he did, but Matthew Henry says that he did not, even if he asked the right question. That is probably because Luke says that the man tested Jesus:

A question to this purport was proposed to our Saviour by a certain lawyer, or scribe, only with a design to try him, not with a desire to be instructed by him, v. 25This was a good question: What shall I do to inherit eternal life? But it lost all its goodness when it was proposed with an ill design, or a very mean one. Note, It is not enough to speak of the things of God, and to enquire about them, but we must do it with a suitable concern. If we speak of eternal life, and the way to it, in a careless manner, merely as matter of discourse, especially as matter of dispute, we do but take the name of God in vain, as the lawyer here did.

MacArthur sets out our Lord’s model for evangelisation, setting it against what many churches mistakenly do today:

I reminded you last week that Jesus doesn’t promise you health, wealth, prosperity, a better career, a perfect marriage, a great family, freedom from problems, not at all. Those are not guarantees in the gospel. Those are not attendant blessings to salvation. The ability to endure difficulty is in salvation. The ability to see God work good out of the bad things that come in life is part of the guarantee but there is no guarantee that you’re going to be free from pain and suffering and trouble, etc. That’s not what salvation is designed to do. Salvation is about the next life, not this life. And so, if you’re going to evangelize somebody, instead of focusing on this life you have to get them to the next life. Instead of saying, “We’re here with our gospel to make your marriage better, or your family better, or your life better,” or whatever, we’re here to talk about the next life, forget this life. It’s eternity that you need to deal with. And we went into detail last time on how the Bible indicates that all people are going to live forever, either in heaven or in hell. And the first task of every evangelist, of every witness, of every Christian who goes out to present the gospel is to show someone that what matters is the next life because it is forever and it is either forever in the bliss of heaven or in the horrors of conscious punishment away from God in hell. The message of the gospel is about eternal life, life in the next world

The man in the story, the scribe, the lawyer, he comes, he asks the right question. And here we are living in our culture. People aren’t asking the right question. Instead of cultivating their minds in the direction of the right question, we reinvent Christianity as some kind of a message to change your current circumstances. That is not what it is. We’ve got to get back to the fact that our message is a message of deliverance from eternal damnation and punishment in hell into eternal life. And so, we started last time with the recognition of eternal life.

We come to the second pointAfter there’s a recognition of eternal life, there needs to be a motivation for eternal life.  If the person will come to the place where they recognize that the gospel is not about here and now, it’s about then and there, it’s about eternity, not time, if we can get them to understand that they’re going to live forever, that there are two places where they will possibly live, either heaven or hell, then we move to the motivation.  And obviously as we come to the text now, this particular man was motivated for eternal life.

How do you get somebody motivated for eternal life?  The only thing you can do is explain the joys of heaven and the horrors of hell.  You explain to them that everybody is immortal. Everybody lives forever in one of those two placesTake the time to lay that outDon’t give the gospel on the basis…do you have trouble in your life, do you have pain, do you feel bad about things?  Let Jesus fix you upThat is superficial and maybe not even saving.  That isn’t the issue because as soon as you start talking about heaven and hell, you have to inject into the discussion sin because somebody is going to say, “Well, I’m not going to hell, am I?”  And then you’re into the issue aren’t you?  You’re into the issue of sin, why you’re going to hell and why God justly condemned you to hell because of your violation of His Law and what you did and what you said, what you thought and what you are.  That is where you start effective evangelism.  You get their attention off this world onto the next.

And if you present the joys of heaven, the glories of heaven, the horrors of hell, the reality of sin, the desperate need for forgiveness, the provision of God in Christ to provide that forgiveness and to deliver the sinner from the kingdom of darkness into the kingdom of His dear Son, you’ve now at least put them in a position to be motivated toward eternal life.

This lawyer that came to Jesus must have known that there was some place that he definitely wanted to be, and that was in the kingdom of God.  He wanted eternal life.  He did not want what Daniel 12:2 said. He did not want a resurrection that would bring him to eternal disgrace and contempt and shame.  He wanted eternal life.  He had the motivation for eternal life.  That is the first necessary attitude in bringing a person to Christ.  You’ve got to get them away from wanting something in this world to desperately wanting eternal life in the world to comeThat raises the stakes very highly

MacArthur explains why he thinks the man approached Jesus honestly:

And so, this man comes whether or not on behalf of the Pharisees on or his own, we don’t knowBut since it doesn’t say the Pharisees were behind him, let’s just assume that this was an issue for him, for him.  He may have come at the behest of Pharisees to question Jesus.  He may have been in a meeting and arisen to ask the question because he was prompted or even paid to do it.  But we don’t know that.  So let’s just take it at face value and as Jesus was teaching, perhaps about the kingdom of God as that was always His subject — even after His resurrection, for forty days He spoke of things pertaining to the kingdom — this man stood upThis is not a disrespectful interruption because it says that he stood up and addressed Jesus as teacher, didaskale, very respectful, very appropriate, something that would normally be done in a teaching context.

But that interesting phrase between those two indications is he stood up and put Him to the testThis doesn’t necessarily ascribe to this man some evil intent, nor does it sort of open the veil a little bit on a plot.  It’s just really a test as any question is a test when you want to know the answerYou’re testing the person’s knowledge and ability to give you the answer.  This word can be used for a temptation as it is in Luke 4:12 when it says Satan put Jesus to the test, same Greek word.  But it doesn’t necessarily have to be a temptation It’s just an effort to find out if Jesus knows the answer.

You say, “Well how would he know if Jesus knew the answer?”  Because he knew the answer.  And he was just going to find out if Jesus knew the right answer to the question And maybe he wanted to sort of reinforce the answer that he knew to be the right answer.

The question was fair, the question was important.  The lawyer appears to be genuinely interested.  I don’t think we can read anything else into it.  We know from the fact that this question was asked so often that it was a general question on the minds of Jews under the surface and so there’s a certain level of honesty here for him to jump up and ask this question.

Whatever his motivation was is less important than what he — and we — learned from our Lord’s response.

Jesus asked the lawyer what was written in Mosaic law (verse 26).

The man answered, reciting the Scripture that comprises the daily Jewish prayer, the Shema: loving the Lord our God with all our heart, with all our soul, with all our strength and with all our mind as well as loving our neighbour as ourselves (verse 27).

MacArthur gives us the words of the Shema:

Twice every day, two times every single day, the Jew said this, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, with all your mind and your neighbor as yourself,” twice every single day … That was part of the recitation of the Shema, Deuteronomy 6:4 and 5, that most notable portion of Scripture in the book of Deuteronomy, the second law.  “Hear, oh Israel, the Lord is our God, the Lord is one and you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your might.  And these words which I’m commanding you today shall be on your heart.”  And then they added from Leviticus, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself,” Leviticus 19:18

Now you come into the issues of eternal life here.  You want eternal life?  Here’s how: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, with all your mind and love your neighbor as yourself.”  The emphasis is so…is so strong here. “With all your” is repeated four times, four times.  What’s the point of that?  Well, the point of that is to emphasize the extremity, the perfection, the completeness of this kind of love.  “With all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, with all your mind,” so that nobody would think that He meant, “Well, with all your heart and your soul and your mind and your strength,” and somehow diminish the latter three.  No, this is a call for perfect love of all human faculties.

You want to go to God’s kingdom?  Then love Him with all your kardia, you know, the cardiac area.  That’s… To the Jew, that’s the place of thought and mind, with all the psuchē, all the fleshly part of you, all the soulish part of you, all the human part of you with your…your ischus, your will, your volition. Love Him with all your dianoia, all your intelligence, your intellect, with all your human faculties, love Him completely.  And it’s the word agapaō in the Greek, translating the old Hebrew ahab or aheb in Deuteronomy 6:5 which refers to the love of the mind, the love of the will, the love of the emotion, the love of the affection, the highest kind of love.

Jesus commended the man for giving the correct answer, adding that, if he obeys those commandments he will live (verse 28) in glory.

MacArthur explains why our Lord’s asking a question instead of giving an answer was important:

by asking the question He does, what is written in the law, Jesus affirms His commitment to the law. And when He said, “The law,” the man knew exactly what He’s referring to and He was referring to the Mosaic Law. The first five books of the Old Testament summarized in the Ten Commandments and further summarized in the answer the man gives. This is wise in response. He shows His affirmation of God’s Word, forces the lawyer to answer his own question, and he could answer it. “What is written in the law?” Jesus said. You’re the expert. And here Jesus also affirms that what God has written is the authority. Jesus is affirming the Scripture.

Luke says that the man wanted to justify himself, to proclaim his own righteousness, by asking Jesus to identify his neighbour (verse 29) in a scriptural way.

Henry says the man didn’t want to discuss his own frailties in loving God completely, so he went on to ask who his neighbour was in order that he might gain leverage on that point:

His care to avoid the conviction which was now ready to fasten upon him. When Christ said, This do, and thou shalt live, he began to be aware that Christ intended to draw from him an acknowledgment that he had not done this, and therefore an enquiry what he should do, which way he should look, to get his sins pardoned; an acknowledgment also that he could not do this perfectly for the future by any strength of his own, and therefore an enquiry which way he might fetch in strength to enable him to do it: but he was willing to justify himself, and therefore cared not for carrying on that discourse, but saith, in effect, as another did (Matt 19 20), All these things have I kept from my youth up. Note, Many ask good questions with a design rather to justify themselves than to inform themselves, rather proudly to show what is good in them than humbly to see what is bad in them.

… This [asking about his neighbour] is another of this lawyer’s queries, which he started only that he might drop the former, lest Christ should have forced him, in the prosecution of it, to condemn himself, when he was resolved to justify himself. As to loving God, he was willing to say no more of it; but, as to his neighbour, he was sure that there he had come up to the rule, for he had always been very kind and respectful to all about him.

The Jews believed that only they were each other’s neighbours. Gentiles and half-Jews, e.g. Samaritans, were not included:

They would not put an Israelite to death for killing a Gentile, for he was not his neighbour: they indeed say that they ought not to kill a Gentile whom they were not at war with; but, if they saw a Gentile in danger of death, they thought themselves under no obligation to help to save his life. Such wicked inferences did they draw from that holy covenant of peculiarity by which God had distinguished them, and by abusing it thus they had forfeited it; God justly took the forfeiture, and transferred covenant-favours to the Gentile world, to whom they brutishly denied common favours.

MacArthur says of our Lord’s answer in the Parable of the Good Samaritan:

Immediately Jesus has turned the question on its head.  He asked, “Who is my neighbor?”  Jesus turned it around and said, “Let’s talk about who is neighborly.”  Instead of talking about who qualifies to be your neighbor, let’s talk about the quality with which you love.  If you’re even asking the question, “Who qualifies for me to love?” you can’t fulfill that commandment.  It’s not about who qualifies, it’s about the character of your love So, Jesus has already turned this upside down and now He’s talking about the love of the individual toward someone in need, not whether the person in need qualifies to be loved.

Did this incident actually happen or is it a true parable?

Henry says it did happen:

The mentioning of those places intimates that it was matter of fact, and not a parable; probably it happened lately, just as it is here related.

MacArthur disagrees with that assessment as we will see.

Jesus said that a man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho when he was set upon by highwaymen — bandits — who robbed him and beat him until he was half dead, at which point they left him (verse 30).

A priest happened to be walking along the same road but when he saw the man, he went to the other side (verse 31).

A Levite also saw him and passed to the other side of the road (verse 32).

However, a Samaritan who was travelling saw the poor man and was moved with pity for him (verse 33).

MacArthur says:

It’s a storyThe point is simple: You expect the priest, who knew the law, knew what was required to go help the man You would expect the priest, of all people, who made sure that all the people recited twice every day that you’re to love your neighbor as yourself, would do that which he required the rest of the people to recite, and himself also.  You would expect a priest to go and help.  Was this an indictment of the priesthood in general?

I think it would be safe to say that the priests in Israel lacked compassion wouldn’t you?  In Matthew 23 Jesus says they bind heavy burdens on people and don’t so much as lift a finger to relieve the burden.  Jesus … sort of casts the priests in Israel like wolves who come in and tear up the sheep and put heavy burdens on people. That’s why He said, “Take My yoke upon you and learn of Me for my yoke is easy, My burden is light.”  I think it would be safe to say that the priests were externally legalistic and hypocritical but lacked compassion They certainly lacked compassion toward Jesus and the apostles.  But I don’t think this is an indictment of the priesthood. This is just a story about a man you would expect to help because he knew the Law but he didn’t help. He didn’t help.

And then Jesus goes on in verse 32, “Likewise a Levite also,” a Levite because of the tribe of Levi.  The priests were from the tribe of Levi also, but anybody who was in the twenty-four courses of the priest was not just the son of Levi who was son of Jacob, but anybody who was in the priesthood was a son of Aaron Levites came from Levi, but not from Aaron and they were given priestly duties. They were the lowest people on the ladder, the priestly service ladder They were assistants to the priests, they were the temple police They saw to the issues of the liturgy and they aided the priests They had to know something about the law.  They were close.  They were intimately acquainted with the function of Judaism with the studies of the lawyers and the scribes and so forth.  And so, they should have known what the priests knew as well.

And so, at the top of the sort of religious ladder is the priest, at the bottom is the Levite. He comes to the place, he saw him, verse 32, pass by the other side.  Same verb: went the other direction, opposite direction.  And you have again an illustration of a man who had no love.

You could say that these religious … elite were the ones called in verse 21 “the wise and intelligent who didn’t know the things of God.”  But we have to say at least this, neither of these men, if they were real people, would be qualified for eternal life They didn’t love God, first of all, because if you love God you keep His what?  His commandments.  So they didn’t love God to start with and also, they didn’t love their neighbor because there’s one right there and they have a perfect opportunity to demonstrate it and they don’t.  So being religious, doing all the ceremonies, being Jewish, being circumcised, being a part of the whole system, being as tightly connected to the religious system as you can get, being a priest and a Levite isn’t going to get you in the kingdom of God.  And when you look at the character of these men, they don’t pass the test.  The test is to love your neighbor as yourself.  They went the other direction, wanted nothing to do with it.  This is the attitude we see in human life, human nature today even with ourselves, “I don’t want to get what? Involved.  I don’t know what they might do to me.”

Verse 34 says that the Samaritan took some of his own travelling supplies — wine and oil — to treat the man’s wounds. The alcohol in the wine was a primitive disinfectant. The oil served as a soothing balm, such as it was in that era. Then he put the man on his beast of burden — leaving the Samaritan to walk alongside — and took him to an inn where he cared for him throughout the night.

Henry says:

See how friendly this good Samaritan was. First, He went to the poor man, whom the priest and Levite kept at a distance from; he enquired, no doubt, how he came into this deplorable condition, and condoled with him. Secondly, He did the surgeon’s part, for want of a better. He bound up his wounds, making use of his own linen, it is likely, for that purpose; and poured in oil and wine, which perhaps he had with him; wine to wash the wound, and oil to mollify it, and close it up. He did all he could to ease the pain, and prevent the peril, of his wounds, as one whose heart bled with him. Thirdly, He set him on his own beast, and went on foot himself, and brought him to an inn. A great mercy it is to have inns upon the road, where we may be furnished for our money with all the conveniences for food and rest. Perhaps the Samaritan, if he had not met with this hindrance, would have got that night to his journey’s end; but, in compassion to that poor man, he takes up short at an inn. Some think that the priest and Levite pretended they could not stay to help the poor man, because they were in haste to go and attend the temple-service at Jerusalem. We suppose the Samaritan went upon business; but he understood that both his own business and God’s sacrifice too must give place to such an act of mercy as this. Fourthly, He took care of him in the inn, got him to bed, had food for him that was proper, and due attendance, and, it may be, prayed with him.

The next day, the Samaritan paid the innkeeper two denarii and asked him to take care of the man, saying that he (the Samaritan) would pay the balance upon his return (verse 35).

MacArthur explains the import of this gesture:

Now he has now exposed himself to serious extortion He’s left an open account And he’s saying, “I’m going to where I need to go, and you spend whatever you need to spend, give him whatever he needs for a full recovery.  And when I come back, I’ll pay you for that.”

Now what comes across in this?  Generosity, would you say?  More than generosity?  This is sort of over the top, would you say?  You say, “Well, I saw a stranger one time in need and I gave him five bucks.”  Think that deserves applause?  Did you ever see a stranger in need, somebody you didn’t know, better yet somebody who was your arch-enemy and you went over, ministered to all his needs, gave him everything he needed, stayed with him, took him somewhere, put him to bed, fed him, stayed all night to make sure that he was recovering appropriately, then paid for his care for up to two months and said if it’s more than this, when I come back I’ll give you all the rest?  Have you ever done that for anybody?

I’ll tell you, there’s somebody you’ve done that for and it’s you That’s how we care for ourselves, isn’t it?  Give me whatever I need.  Whatever I need, get me to the best doctor; get me to the best place. Get me the best care I can get.  Take care of me as long as I need it.  We buy insurance policies, we get in HMOs. We do whatever we need to assure ourselves the best care.  This is over the top for a stranger, over the top for an enemy.  You might somewhere get close to this with a friend or a family member because you love them in the family.  But we’re not talking about family; we’re talking about somebody outside of that This is just not done.

Jesus then asked the scribe who was a neighbour to the man who fell into the hands of the robbers (verse 36).

MacArthur interprets the verse as follows:

Forget who is your neighbor and let’s talk about who’s neighborly. Which of these three do you think proved to be a neighbor to the man who fell into the robber’s hands?  You’ve been following Me through the story, who was the neighbor?

The lawyer answered that the Samaritan, the one who showed the man mercy, was the true neighbour. Jesus told the lawyer, ‘Go and do likewise’ (verse 37).

Henry concludes:

This lawyer valued himself much upon his learning and his knowledge of the laws, and in that he thought to have puzzled Christ himself; but Christ sends him to school to a Samaritan, to learn his duty: “Go, and do like him.”

MacArthur has more and, no, none of us will ever be able to consistently love a stranger the way the Samaritan did. This is why we require God’s mercy and forgiveness. This is why Jesus died for our sins:

If this is what it requires for me to get in heaven, I’m not getting there I not only couldn’t earn my salvation by loving like that, even as a Christian in whom the love of Christ has been shed abroad, who has a capacity to love like an unconverted person doesn’t have, I still don’t love like this.  So we were saved by grace and we are kept by grace, are we not?  The Lord not only forgave me for my lack of love toward God and love toward others when He saved me, He continues to forgive me for my lack of perfect love toward God and others, which is a part of my fallen life I’ll never be able to love God perfectly until I’m in His presence and I’ll never be able to love others perfectly until I’m in His presence either and then they won’t have any needs.  So it will be a different kind of expression of love.

See, what Jesus was doing here with this man was driving the same sword right back into his heart to convict him of his total inability to deserve the kingdom of God and eternal life on his own If he thought his Jewishness, his circumcision, his law-keeping, his sacrificing, and all of that was enough, Jesus ended that by his own admission that it was: loving God and loving others.  If he thought he qualified there, then he’s going to have to say that I’ve always loved everyone in my path the way the Good Samaritan loved that man with that same kind of limitless, open-ended, lavish, generous, sacrificial care and he knew as we all know we don’t love like that.

By the way, that’s how God loves us This is not an allegory about that But that is how God loves us And there stood Jesus before him, ready to offer him mercy, ready to offer him grace, ready to offer him forgiveness if he only would repent and admit what he knew was true.  But as we move through the life of Christ toward the cross, the hearts get harder and harder and harder.

The end of the story, the end of the encounter is Jesus saying, “Go and do the same.”  Did he?  No.  Could he?  No.  Would he repent?  Apparently not.  Will he inherit the kingdom of God?  Of course not.  Who will?  Those who repent of their lack of love toward God and others, cry out for mercy and forgiveness from the Christ who has paid the penalty for that forgiveness through His death on the cross.

May all reading this have a blessed Sunday.

Anyone wishing to do so may leave a comment on the sermons they heard on this parable.

The Third Sunday after Trinity is July 3, 2022.

Readings for Year C can be found here.

The Gospel reading is as follows (emphases mine):

Luke 10:1-11, 16-20

10:1 After this the Lord appointed seventy others and sent them on ahead of him in pairs to every town and place where he himself intended to go.

10:2 He said to them, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore ask the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.

10:3 Go on your way. See, I am sending you out like lambs into the midst of wolves.

10:4 Carry no purse, no bag, no sandals; and greet no one on the road.

10:5 Whatever house you enter, first say, ‘Peace to this house!’

10:6 And if anyone is there who shares in peace, your peace will rest on that person; but if not, it will return to you.

10:7 Remain in the same house, eating and drinking whatever they provide, for the laborer deserves to be paid. Do not move about from house to house.

10:8 Whenever you enter a town and its people welcome you, eat what is set before you;

10:9 cure the sick who are there, and say to them, ‘The kingdom of God has come near to you.’

10:10 But whenever you enter a town and they do not welcome you, go out into its streets and say,

10:11 ‘Even the dust of your town that clings to our feet, we wipe off in protest against you. Yet know this: the kingdom of God has come near.’

10:16 “Whoever listens to you listens to me, and whoever rejects you rejects me, and whoever rejects me rejects the one who sent me.”

10:17 The seventy returned with joy, saying, “Lord, in your name even the demons submit to us!”

10:18 He said to them, “I watched Satan fall from heaven like a flash of lightning.

10:19 See, I have given you authority to tread on snakes and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy; and nothing will hurt you.

10:20 Nevertheless, do not rejoice at this, that the spirits submit to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.”

Commentary comes from Matthew Henry and John MacArthur.

This is a long exegesis requiring a cup of tea and perhaps a snack.

Today’s reading follows on from last week’s, which was about the Samaritans’ rejection of our Lord’s planned visit, the fury of James and his brother John at the refusal and the Lord’s subsequent refusal to accept three potential disciples.

What we learned about Luke 9 was that it represents a turning point in Luke’s account. Jesus has but one year of ministry left; what we discover through to Luke 19 is how He trains and prepares His disciples for His imminent death.

‘After this’ — meaning after Jesus turned down the three offers of discipleship from men who were deeply flawed with internal conflicts — He appointed 70 — some translations say 72 — disciples, sending them in pairs to towns and places where He intended to visit (verse 1).

These disciples were heralds, or, in today’s parlance, advance men.

There are some numbers in the Bible that are referred to as divine numbers, because they have a religious significance. The number three is significant for the Persons of the Trinity. Twelve is another: the twelve tribes of Israel, the twelve Apostles.

Matthew Henry’s commentary explains the significance of 70:

As in the choice of twelve apostles Christ had an eye to the twelve patriarchs, the twelve tribes, and the twelve princes of those tribes, so here he seems to have an eye to the seventy elders of Israel. So many went up with Moses and Aaron to the mount, and saw the glory of the God of Israel (Exod 24 1, 9), and so many were afterwards chosen to assist Moses in the government, in order to which the Spirit of prophecy came unto them, Num 11 24, 25. The twelve wells of water and the seventy palm-trees that were at Elim were a figure of the twelve apostles and the seventy disciples, Exod 15 27. They were seventy elders of the Jews that were employed by Ptolemy king of Egypt in turning the Old Testament into Greek, whose translation is thence called the Septuagint. The great sanhedrim consisted of this number.

In the beginning of Luke 9, Jesus had already given the Apostles His own gifts, sending them out to preach and heal. Now it is the turn of these 70 or 72 disciples.

Jesus sent them out in pairs for mutual support: physically, emotionally and spiritually.

Jesus said that the harvest was plentiful but the workers to gather it were few; therefore, it was important to ask the Lord of the harvest for more labourers to gather the harvest (verse 2).

Henry says that the harvest refers to lost souls, those whom the Jewish hierarchy neglected. The disciples were to bring them to salvation, especially with the presence of Christ in the region:

They must be duly affected with the necessities of the souls of men, which called for their help. They must look about, and see how great the harvest was, what abundance of people there were that wanted to have the gospel preached to them and were willing to receive it, nay, that had at this time their expectations raised of the coming of the Messiah and of his kingdom. There was corn ready to shed and be lost for want of hands to gather it in. Note, Ministers should apply themselves to their work under a deep concern for precious souls, looking upon them as the riches of this world, which ought to be secured for Christ. They must likewise be concerned that the labourers were so few. The Jewish teachers were indeed many, but they were not labourers; they did not gather in souls to God’s kingdom, but to their own interest and party. Note, Those that are good ministers themselves wish that there were more good ministers, for there is work for more. It is common for tradesmen not to care how few there are of their own trade; but Christ would have the labourers in his vineyard reckon it a matter of complaint when the labourers are few. (2.) They must earnestly desire to receive their mission from God, that he would send them forth as labourers into his harvest who is the Lord of the harvest, and that he would send others forth; for, if God send them forth, they may hope he will go along with them and give them success. Let them therefore say, as the prophet (Isa 6 8), Here I am, send me. It is desirable to receive our commission from God, and then we may go on boldly.

Matthew’s account also includes our Lord’s mention of the harvest.

John MacArthur tells us about that and the gut-wrenching compassion that Jesus, in His humanity, felt for the lost souls:

Go back to verse 35, Matthew 9:35.  Jesus was going about all the cities, all the villages, and this is in Galilee.  And He was teaching in their synagogues.  He was proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom, healing every kind of disease, every kind of sickness.  “And seeing the multitudes, He felt compassion for them, because they were distressed and downcast, like sheep without a shepherd.  Then He said to His disciples, ‘The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few.'” That statement was born of His compassion. It was born of His compassion.  Everywhere the Lord went in His ministry, and particular in Galilee, but everywhere else the Lord went in His ministry, He was moved with compassion.

For example, if you go through Matthew, you see Matthew 14:14 in addition to this, Matthew 15:32, Matthew 18:27, Matthew 20 verse 34, and it will say, “The Lord was moved with compassion, the Lord felt compassion.”  Luke 7:13, “The Lord was moved with compassion.”  And again other places in Luke; this is just a sampling.  The Lord moved through His ministry literally overcome with compassion.

Now this word is the strongest word for “compassion” in the language, the Greek language.  It refers to a deeply felt sympathy.  It refers to a deep pain that comes from empathy or affection.  You feel this one.  It actually comes from a root word that has to do with abdominal painYou feel it in the pit of your stomach where suffering emotions are felt even by folks like us.  What it’s saying is the Lord felt an aching in His stomach.  It is to say the Lord was nauseated physically.  You see Him, for example, at the tomb of Lazarus in the 11th chapter of John and the picture of Him there is first He’s sobbing and then He’s groaning, and then He bursts out into tears and then He shudders over the plight of sinners when He sees the reality of a dead Lazarus and a weeping Mary and Martha.  And it’s not all this agony simply over Lazarus and Mary and Martha because He was going to raise him from the dead and stop all the pain, but it’s the agony of seeing that as an illustration of the horrendous suffering in the world.  Lazarus was an illustration of what all of humanity goes through.  And Jesus literally sobbed, groaned, burst into tears, and shuddered with agony

MacArthur tells us of the horrifying plight of the lost souls, the lost sheep, that Jesus saw through that compassion:

Isaiah said about Him, “He would be a man of sorrows, acquainted with grief.”  And Matthew, as I said, uses the strongest word for “compassion,” one that indicates that the Lord had a deep ache, a pain, a nauseating churning in His stomach over the future condition of the unregenerate, as well as their present state.  Look back at that passage in Matthew.  It says He saw them as distressed and downcast, eskylmenoi and errimmenoi. Those two words mean worn out, exhausted, or literally flayed, skinned, like sheep whose shepherds had not only exhausted them, not fed them, but then flayed them, as it were, injured them, wounded them.  The second word, errimmenoi, means thrown down, lying prostrate, totally helplessHe looked at the sheep of the shepherds of Israel, the scribes and the Pharisees and religious leaders and their sheep were not healthy, they were not well fed, they were not well watered, they were not well cared for, they were literally wounded and injured, they had been attacked and assaulted and left for near dead by their evil false shepherdsAnd these people would have some kind of vague craving for satisfaction and not have any idea how to find it.  As Psalm 111:4 says, “The Lord is gracious and full of compassion.” That’s describing God, and here is God in human flesh and His heart is literally achingOn another occasion He wept over the city of Jerusalem, the ache was so profound.  He looks at the people of Israel and He sees them like flayed, mangled corpses.  They’re sort of like road kill sheep who have been totally destroyed by their own shepherds.  And there they lie bewildered and desolate.  They have been treated mercilessly.  They have been devoured by their own shepherds, as Jesus said of the Pharisees in Matthew 23:13.  And so He is so overwhelmed with sympathy for them that He says to His disciples, “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few.”

However, there is another meaning to ‘harvest’ and that is one of burning chaff during the time of reaping. The farmer saves the good crops and burns whatever was unproductive. This refers to judgement.

MacArthur has more:

The Jews knew about a harvest. They knew about a harvest. The prophets had talked about a harvest. In fact, Joel chapter 3 verse 12, “Let the nations be aroused and come to the valley of Jehoshaphat. I’ll sit to judge and all the surrounding nations, put in the sickle for the harvest is ripe. Come tread, for the winepress is full, the vats overflow, for their wickedness is great. Multitudes, multitudes in the valley of decision, for the Day of the Lord is near in the valley of decision. The sun and the moon grew dark. The stars lost their brightness as the Lord roars from Zion.” That…That’s the harvest. It’s the harvest of the final judgment. And that’s why the compassion of the Lord is excited because He sees these people on a path to devastation. He sees them not only in their stricken condition, but in their disastrous future. He looks ahead, down human history, as it were, and He sees many who will be literally devastated, depressed and destroyed by false leaders, false shepherds. And His heart aches over them because they’re headed for the final harvest and it is a harvest of judgment. The New Testament follows that imagery. The Lord Himself in Matthew 13 verse 30 talks about the wheat and the tares growing together and He says they will grow together until the harvest. And the time of harvest will come, I’ll say to the reapers, “Gather up the tares. Bind them in bundles to burn them. But gather the wheat into My barn.” Again, the harvest is the end of the age when the angels gather together God’s people and put them in His kingdom, that’s the barn, and gathers together the ungodly and they burn forever in hell. That is clearly explained later in Matthew 13 verse 39. “The enemy who sowed the tares is the devil. The harvest is the end of the age and the reapers are angels. Therefore just as the tares are gathered up and burned with fire, so shall it be at the end of the age. The Son of Man will send forth His angels, they’ll gather out of His kingdom all stumbling blocks, all those who commit lawlessness, cast them into the furnace of fire. In that place, there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” That’s the harvest … It’s not a harvest that we often think about like there are all those souls that need to be harvested for the gospel. That’s not the imagery. The imagery is this, these unredeemed, unconverted people, deceived and left destitute by their false religious leaders and fake shepherds, are headed toward a harvest of judgment and it is a massive harvest. It is a worldwide harvest. It reminds us again that few there be that find the narrow way. The mass of humanity are headed toward a divine harvest.

And in verse 14 of chapter 14 of Revelation, we read further and more specifically about that harvest. Listen to these gripping words, “I looked and behold, a white cloud. Sitting on the cloud was one like a Son of Man, having a golden crown on His head and a sharp sickle in His hand.” That was the tool of harvest. “And another angel came out of the temple crying with a loud voice to Him who sat on the cloud, ‘Put in your sickle and reap because the hour to reap has come because the harvest of the earth is ripe.’ And He who sat on the cloud swung His sickle over the earth and the earth was reaped.” The next few verses carry the imagery. “Another angel came out of the temple which is in heaven. He also had a sharp sickle and another angel, one who had the power over fire came out of the altar and called with a loud voice to the one who had the sharp sickle and said, ‘Put in your sharp sickle and gather the clusters from the vine of the earth because the grapes are ripe.’ And the angel swung his sickle to the earth and gathered the clusters from the vine of the earth and threw them into the great winepress of the wrath of God.”

The harvest is associated with wrath. Wrath at the end of the tribulation, wrath at any point at the coming of Jesus Christ, it is the wrath of God at the end of time. And so the Lord looks at the people and His heart is just overturned. He is literally sick in His stomach because He sees the future all the way out to the great, horrific wrath of the final harvest. And to compound the matter, back to verse 2, the laborers are few. You’ve got this mass of humanity moving toward judgment and only a few laborers, only a few.

Therefore, prayer was — and remains — important:

That leads to a second essential motive and that is prayer.  You stand there and say, “Well how are we going to do anything about it?”  And the Lord says in verse 2, “Therefore,” in consequence, “beseech,” beg, plead with “the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest.”  You don’t just pray for the salvation of people. You do that, 1 Timothy 2 makes it clear. “Pray for all men, for kings and those in authority, and everybody else to be saved.” You don’t just do that though. You pray that the Lord will raise up more missionaries, that the Lord will save more and send more.  By the way, the Lord of the harvest, isn’t that an interesting phrase?  Who is the Lord of the harvest?  The judge.  John 5:22 to 29 says, “The Father has committed all judgment to Christ.”  So Christ is going to be the judge.  Christ is the executioner.  This is amazing.  The Lord Himself, the Lord of the harvest says, “Pray to Me and ask Me to send laborers to go out to deliver people from Me.”  It’s amazing.  It is the Lord Himself in 2 Thessalonians 1, the Lord Jesus, who is “revealed from heaven with His mighty angels in flaming fire, dealing out retribution to those who do not know God, to those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus.”  It is Jesus who is the Lord of the harvest.  It is Jesus who is the one who comes back with the sword in his mouth.  It is Jesus who brings the sickle along with the angels who attend His return.  It is Jesus who is the judge.  It is Jesus who is the executionerAnd it is also Jesus who is the one who hears your prayer and sends the people to deliver those who are perishing from His execution.  You can put it this way. Pray to Jesus to send somebody to deliver people from Jesus.  Pray to the Son of God and ask Him to send more messengers to reach this great harvest to deliver them from the Son of God.  Saved from what?  Saved from hell, yes.  But saved primarily from the God who sends you there and the God who sends you there has delegated that authority to His Son, so the Son says, “Pray to Me and ask Me to send messengers to preach a gospel so sinners can be delivered from Me.”  Amazing.  Amazing depth and profundity.

Jesus told His disciples to go on their way; He was sending them out like lambs into the midst of wolves (verse 3).

In other words, they were to expect rejection, possibly persecution.

However, as Henry says, one of the gifts that Jesus gave the disciples was courage, which would give them fortitude and perseverance:

They must set out with an expectation of trouble and persecution: “Behold, I send you forth as lambs among wolves; but go your ways, and resolve to make the best of it. Your enemies will be as wolves, bloody and cruel, and ready to pull you to pieces; in their threatenings and revilings, they will be as howling wolves to terrify you; in their persecutions of you, they will be as ravening wolves to tear you. But you must be as lambs, peaceable and patient, though made an easy prey of.” It would have been very hard thus to be sent forth as sheep among wolves, if he had not endued them with his spirit and courage.

In the next several verses, Jesus, as He did with the Twelve, instructs the disciples on how to evangelise, beginning with their personal behaviours.

They were not to carry any purse — money bag — or bag for clothes and possessions, no extra pair of sandals; furthermore, He told them not to greet anyone along the way (verse 4).

With regard to material possessions, they were to go with what they had on them already and nothing more. They were to trust that He would ensure they would have what they needed.

With regard to refusing to greet strangers along the way, this refers not to a simple greeting of ‘Hello’ or ‘Good day’ but developing a relationship with people, which could prove to be a distraction.

MacArthur says that Jesus implied urgency with these instructions:

The Lord just collects seventy who have denied themselves, taken up their cross, followed Him. They are genuine and true believers. They have entered into His kingdom. That’s enough, go your way and tell them I’m coming. The mission is immediate. It is urgent. The time is short. The cross is only months away. There are many, many, many villages and towns all across Judea and Perea, across the Jordan, that need to be ready for His coming and they need a full explanation of who He is so that when He gets there they’ll be ready to receive what He has to say. Evangelism is immediate. And I say this, if you are a Christian, I don’t care if you were saved five years ago or you were saved yesterday, start today with your ministry of evangelism. It’s urgent. Today is the day of salvation, 2 Corinthians 6. This is the time, don’t wait.

Henry cites a precedent in the Old Testament for going on a mission without a bag and not to greet strangers along the way:

They must not encumber themselves with a load of provisions, as if they were going a long voyage, but depend upon God and their friends to provide what was convenient for them: “Carry neither a purse for money, nor a scrip or knapsack for clothes or victuals, nor new shoes (as before to the twelve, ch. 9 3); and salute no man by the way.This command Elisha gave to his servant, when he sent him to see the Shunamite’s dead child, 2 Kings 4 29. Not that Christ would have his ministers to be rude, morose, and unmannerly; but, (1.) They must go as men in haste, that had their particular places assigned them, where they must deliver their message, and in their way directly to those places must not hinder or retard themselves with needless ceremonies or compliments. (2.) They must go as men of business, business that relates to another world, which they must be intent in, and intent upon, and therefore must not entangle themselves with conversation about secular affairs. Minister verbi est; hoc age—You are a minister of the word; attend to your office. (3.) They must go as serious men, and men in sorrow. It was the custom of mourners, during the first seven days of their mourning, not to salute any, Job 2 13. Christ was a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief; and it was fit that by this and other signs his messengers should resemble him, and likewise show themselves affected with the calamities of mankind which they came to relieve, and touched with a feeling of them.

MacArthur tells us more about the ancient meeting of greeting someone:

greeting in the ancient Near East was a big event kind of thing. You stayed and you got involved. Don’t depend on friendships to sustain you. Don’t depend on making relationships with people so that they provide for you. Don’t…don’t go the human route. Just go, don’t stop to make relationships, and know this, I will provide even if you have no human relationships to depend on. That’s the great lesson of trust. You’re going to have to be cared for by strangers you don’t even know, people you haven’t even cultivated a relationship with. This is just trust. You go, you trust, wherever God sends you, you go, you preach the gospel, you leave the results to the Lord. If you have nothing, you go, He provides. If you have everything, you go, you use what you have and if you ever come to a point where you have need, you know He’s going to step in and make provision. Don’t worry about the friendship side of it. Keep the message clear … But it is interesting that this was not friendship evangelism which may be…some people may overrate. I think friendship evangelism is good, you should evangelize your friends, but I don’t think you should wait to evangelize someone until after you’ve made a friendship. I don’t think that’s necessary. People are saved by the power of the gospel, not by the power of a friendship.

Jesus told them about where they were to stay and how to handle the initial greeting at those homes.

The disciples were to proclaim peace to that house (verse 5). If someone there shared in that peace, it remained with them, but if someone refused the offer of peace, it would return to the disciples (verse 6).

Henry says:

“You will meet with others that are no ways disposed to hear or heed your message, whole houses that have not one son of peace in them.” Now it is certain that our peace shall not come upon them, they have no part nor lot in the matter; the blessing that rests upon the sons of peace shall never come upon the sons of Belial, nor can any expect the blessings of the covenant that will not come under the bonds of it. But it shall return to us again; that is, we shall have the comfort of having done our duty to God and discharged our trust. Our prayers like David’s shall return into our own bosom (Ps 35 13) and we shall have commission to go on in the work. Our peace shall return to us again, not only to be enjoyed by ourselves, but to be communicated to others, to the next we meet with, them that are sons of peace.

Where they did find a home of peace, the disciples were to stay there and not seek another abode; they were to eat and drink what was provided, as that was to be their only wage (verses 7, 8).

Henry says that we should learn not to be fussy about our hosts’ food nor, as did some of the ancient Jews, enter into rigid beliefs about nourishment:

Be thankful for plain food, and do not find fault, though it be not dressed according to art.” It ill becomes Christ’s disciples to be desirous of dainties. As he has not tied them up to the Pharisees’ superstitious fasts, so he has not allowed the luxurious feasts of the Epicureans. Probably, Christ here refers to the traditions of the elders about their meat which were so many that those who observed them were extremely critical, you could hardly set a dish of meat before them, but there was some scruple or other concerning it; but Christ would not have them to regard those things, but eat what was given them, asking no question for conscience’ sake.

MacArthur has more about our Lord’s proscription on moving from house to house and taking a wage. That is how false prophets made their money:

This was all about authenticating the integrity of the messengers because it was very typical of false prophets, false teachers everywhere who were itinerant, they were like ants, they were all over everywhere And they were looking for the…for the most comfortable situation They were looking for the place where they could get the most money.  They would go into a place; they would go into a home. They would take whatever the home had to offer They would then go somewhere else They would keep moving up the ladder, taking money from as many as they could and bettering their circumstances That was the pattern.  False teachers are always in it for the money They’re always in it for filthy lucre How often do you meet a false teacher, long-term false teacher who hasn’t managed to make money off his lies and deceptions?  That’s why they do what they do.  Some of them make an awful lot.

Typically the itinerant preachers would take advantage of as many people as they could, as many houses as they could and as many comforts as were available Jesus says when you find a worthy place, you find a son of peace, for the sake of fellowship, for the sake of comfort, for the sake of discipleship and for the sake of integrity and sincerity and honesty and as an example that sets you apart from false teachers, stay there, don’t seek a better place Don’t seek any other food than what they give you.  If the food is meager, so be it; if it’s unappetizing, tough luck.  If it’s different than you’re used to, you’ll have to learn to endure it.  Whether it’s clean or unclean, whether it’s idol food, whether it’s a Jewish house or a Gentile house, stay there, accept the accommodations and accept the food Don’t be discontent.  Let them see that you live for the peace gospel; you don’t live for your own personal gain This will set you apart from false teachers very rapidly.

Jesus said that, where people accepted them, the disciples were to cure the sick telling them, ‘The kingdom of God has come near to you’ (verse 9).

What does that message mean?

MacArthur says that the kingdom of God is moving throughout human history, but especially for those sons and daughters of peace, because the long-awaited Messiah was in their midst and would be in person soon:

It has arrived. Eggiz is the Greek verb. It has arrived and nothing can stop it I don’t know if I can give you the picture, but the kingdom is moving and it’s moving through human history and finally the acceptable year of the Lord has arrived, the Messiah is here, the kingdom has come in the fullness of the very King Himself And for the people who were sons of peace, this was the fulfillment of all their dreams, all their aspirations, all their hopes, all their longings, all their desires The kingdom had come for their peace The kingdom had come for their peace.  It’s here now today and for all who believe in the King and submit their lives to Him, all who repent of sin, trust Christ and submit to Him, they enter into the kingdom.  The kingdom is peace to them.  We have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.  When you embrace the King, you enter the kingdom of peace.

However, for those places that did not welcome the disciples (verse 10), Jesus told them to shake the dust off their feet in that place — in the traditional Jewish way — and warn them, ‘Yet know this: the kingdom of God has come near’ (verse 11).

That warning was to be made public, as MacArthur explains:

Don’t steal away quietly in the night. “Go out in the streets and say…” Go right in the middle of the street in that place and make a public announcement.  Expose that rejection at the widest level possible.

The idea is not to pronounce some quiet judgment on rejecters but a public judgment.  Declare openly God’s absolute displeasure with that rejection Make it as public as it possibly can be made.  And make it known that they have rejected the King and the kingdom of peace and then say this, verse 11, “Even the dust of your city which clings to our feet, we wipe off in protest against you.” Can you imagine that vivid thing going on?  They stand in the middle of the town wiping off the dirt from that town from their feet?  That in the ancient Near East was the most demonstrative expression of disdain.  When the Jews went into a Gentile country and came back, they shook the dust off their garments. They washed the dust off their feet so they didn’t bring Gentile dust into the holy land.  That showed their hatred, their disdain for the Gentiles.  And here are the servants of the King, the kingdom messengers, missionaries who came in with the message of grace and a message of peace and a message of salvation and they leave town with a message of judgment, of warning, of condemnation, of disdain, a message literally of punishment We will have nothing to do with you and symbolically, of course, and neither will the King, except to treat you in this same way with the same disdain and the same rejection that you have treated Him.  “If they don’t receive you” means as back in chapter 9 verse 5, “as for those who do not receive you as you go out from that city, shake off the dust from your feet as a testimony against them.”  The apostles did it and now the seventy are doing it Show God’s displeasure openly before the whole town and do it with an abject lesson.

MacArthur says that this applies even today:

It is literally the testimony of God against those rejecters that they are acting out.  You can’t let people sort of come into the church and hear the gospel, or go to them and give them the gospel and then they don’t receive and quietly go away It demands a strong, final gesture, effort, proclamation of the reality of the implications of that rejection That is the last appeal, you see.  You have to understand what you’re doing.

As I was saying in talking to a prominent person not too long ago, at the end of our two-hour conversation, I just said, “You have to understand the consequences. You have to understand the consequences.  To reject Jesus Christ is to be rejected by Jesus Christ and that is to spend all eternity in torment in the punishments of hell.”  I don’t discharge my responsibility if I don’t say that That in itself, while a statement of judgment, is also a last appeal.

So this is the message and this is the messenger’s responsibility Find those who hear, give them the truth, and the kingdom will come in peace.  When you find those who don’t hear, you give them the truth and the kingdom will still come but will come in punishment.  Look at the end of verse 11, how interesting, “Yet be sure of this,” even where a rejection occurs, “be sure of this, the kingdom of God has come near.”  You know, the picture is this, folks, the kingdom of God is moving inexorably through history and you are either getting swept up in the kingdom or crushed by it That’s it.  It is the dominant reality in existence in the spiritual realm.  The kingdom of God is moving. It is moving through the world and it is gathering those who bow to the King in peace and it is crushing those who reject it.  That is the gospel It is good newsBut it is the worst news to those who refuse it The kingdom moves.  Preach the kingdom.  It’s no effort to change the strategy.  There’s no effort to…nothing here that says, “You know if they reject you, go back and retool the gospel.  Hang around and make some friends.”  It doesn’t say that.  Give the gospel, the gospel is the gospel When heard is either believed or rejected When believed it brings peace When rejected it brings punishment But be sure of this, you will not avoid the kingdom.  You will not avoid the King.  Every human being, whoever has lived on the planet will stand one day before the King and either that King will say, “Enter into the joy of your Lord,” or He will say, “Depart from Me, you workers of iniquity.”  But He will render the final judgment on everyone because there’s only one King in the world, there’s only one King in the universe, the King of kings and Lord of lords.  His kingdom is for peace or it is for punishment It is for salvation, forgiveness and heaven, or sin, guilt, judgment and hell.  We are this generation’s kingdom missionaries and God calls us to this same challenging task.

Now we get into some of the Lectionary’s sins, the omitted verses. Their omission proves MacArthur’s point. We can’t just have the positives, we also have to have the warnings. Here they are:

12 I tell you, it will be more bearable on that day for Sodom than for that town.

13 “Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the miracles that were performed in you had been performed in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago, sitting in sackcloth and ashes. 14 But it will be more bearable for Tyre and Sidon at the judgment than for you. 15 And you, Capernaum, will you be lifted to the heavens? No, you will go down to Hades.[b]

In verse 12, Jesus meant that any town that rejected His imminent arrival and the word of His disciples would suffer a worse judgement than Sodom.

Henry says that this is because Sodom rejected Lot’s warnings but these towns were rejecting the Messiah and Lord of all who was ministering to the people:

The Sodomites indeed rejected the warning given them by Lot; but rejecting the gospel is a more heinous crime, and will be punished accordingly in that day. He means the day of judgment (v. 14), but calls it, by way of emphasis, that day, because it is the last and great day, the day when we must account for all the days of time, and have our state determined for the days of eternity.

As for verses 13 through 15, you can read more about the significance of our Lord’s mention of them. This is my post from Forbidden Bible Verses, which are also Essential Bible Verses:

Luke 10:13-15 – condemned towns: Chorazin, Bethsaida, Capernaum; Sodom, Tyre and Sidon

Because the people in these towns actually saw and heard Him, yet disbelieved or were indifferent, Jesus says their punishment will be greater than that of Sodom, Tyre and Sidon.

Jesus explained the judgement by saying that whoever rejects the disciples rejects Him and that anyone who rejects Him rejects He who sent Him, meaning God the Father (verse 16).

MacArthur elaborates on the meaning of that verse:

If you think it’s going to be bad in eternity for the people who rejected the law of Moses, it’s going to be worse for the people who’ve rejected Jesus Christ.  There are degrees of punishment in eternityThere are degrees of suffering in hellAnd the more you know about the gospel and reject it, the severer will be your punishment.

To make it very practical, if you’re a non-believer, being in this church and hearing the gospel is high-risk behaviorYou’d be better off to climb Everest in a snowstorm or jump out of an airplane with a parachute with a huge hole in the middle of it.  Or better yet, jump out of an airplane with an umbrella than to sit in this church and listen to the gospel because the implications of rejecting it are so severe forever.  Don’t just come here, sit, know more and more about the gospel and continue in your rejection and not expect to be eternally held accountable for that rejection.  The severest eternal punishment belongs to those who rejected the most exposure to the gospel.

You say, “Why are you telling all this to us?”  Because this is exactly the point of the text.  Let’s go back to Luke 10.  This is the point of this text.  Let me pick up the text in verse 12, Luke 10:12.  “I say to you, it would be more tolerable in that day for Sodom than for that city.  Woe to you, Chorazin, woe to you, Bethsaida, for if the miracles had been performed in Tyre and Sidon which occurred in you, they would have repented long ago sitting in sack cloth and ashes.  But it will be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon in the judgment than for you.  And you, Capernaum, will not be exalted to heaven, will you?  You will be brought down to Hades,” or hell.  “The one who listens to you listens to Me.  The one who rejects you rejects Me.  And he who rejects Me rejects the One who sent Me.”

The message here is very clearThere are comparative punishments in hell.  The more exposure you have to the glory of Christ, the more potential judgment you will receive if you reject it.

Turn over to the 11th chapter of Luke. This is not an isolated teaching from Jesus, it is oft repeatedIn the 11th chapter of Luke verse 29, the crowds were increasingHe began to say this generation is a wicked generation.  It seeks… It was a religious one, it was steeped in Judaistic religion, but it was wicked by Jesus’ judgment.  “It seeks for a sign and yet no sign shall be given it but the sign of Jonah for just as Jonah became a sign to the Ninevites, so shall the Son of Man be to this generation.  The queen of the south shall rise up with the men of this generation at the judgment and condemn them because she came from the ends of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon and behold, something greater than Solomon is here.”

This is an interesting statement.  Jesus is saying the queen of the south, the pagan, Gentile queen at least was so stunned and struck by the glory of Solomon as to come and give honor to Solomon, and here when a pagan woman gave honor to a great king like Solomon, she demonstrated the appropriate response to the glory of a man.  You, who are Jews, who are the people of God’s promise, cannot even give honor to one far greater than Solomon who comes to youAnd so in the Day of Judgment the queen of the south, that is to say a pagan, is going to stand up to your condemnation She showed an attitude toward a man that you didn’t even show toward the Son of God.  You’ll be condemned even by what she did.

Luke’s account then gives us a glimpse of joy as the disciples returned rejoicing that, when they invoked the Lord’s name, even the demons submitted to them (verse 17).

Henry says:

Though only the healing of the sick was mentioned in their commission (v. 19), yet no doubt the casting out of devils was included, and in this they had wonderful success. 1. They give Christ the glory of this: It is through thy name. Note, all our victories over Satan are obtained by power derived from Jesus Christ. We must in his name enter the lists with our spiritual enemies, and, whatever advantages we gain, he must have all the praise; if the work be done in his name, the honour is due to his name. 2. They entertain themselves with the comfort of it; they speak of it with an air of exultation: Even the devils, those potent enemies, are subject to us. Note, the saints have no greater joy or satisfaction in any of their triumphs than in those over Satan. If devils are subject to us, what can stand before us?

MacArthur expands on the theme of joy:

Joy is the operative word. We’re going to talk about joy here. The seventy returned with joy. Nobody died in this effort. They were willing. They came back and after going out in all these towns and being rejected in many places, being certainly put out of town, run off, having to give warnings, shake dust off their garments, pronounce judgment. They also had spiritual success. There also, as always, was a remnant out there that responded positively. They gave up their lives. They gave up their comfort, their money, their popularity. And what they got in return for that was joy. They returned after their first effort into these various towns and villages all over the place where Jesus was going to eventually come. And they were full of joy. And we ask the question immediately, “Where did the joy come from?” In the light of such a demanding call to discipleship, where did the joy come from? …

Reason number one: divine power over Satan’s kingdom, divine power over Satan’s kingdom. Verse 17, “And the seventy returned with joy saying, ‘Lord, even the demons are subject to us in Your name'” …

The key phrase, “in Your name.” That is, by Your power. There was no other power that could command demons. You remember the exorcist in the 19th chapter of Acts, they were trying to cast out demons and the demons said, “Jesus we know, and Paul we know, but who are you?” You have no authority over us. It may…it may not have been that they even particularly went to cast out demons, it doesn’t say when it tells about the power they had back earlier in chapter 10. It says in verse 9, “They had power to heal the sick.” It doesn’t say specifically that they were given power to cast out demons, they may have been. But it may well have been that when they were preaching the gospel, the power of the gospel was delivering people who responded and believed and therefore the demons were thus overpowered and perhaps manifestly so. They saw the power of Christ flowing through them, conquering the power of Satan …

In other words, you’re going to invade the kingdom of darkness and rescue the souls of men and womenPaul says that was my commission and I was obedient to it.  Well who wouldn’t be?  What a calling.  And it’s true for us.  I mean, think of how your life really should matter.  When you go out and faithfully proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ, you literally invade the kingdom of darkness to rescue the souls there.  Through your faithfulness to the proclamation of the message, the power of God flows to awaken the dead, give sight to the blind, and rescue the perishing as the old hymn put it, out of the kingdom of darkness, literally, Colossians 1:13, transferring them from the kingdom of darkness into the kingdom of God’s dear Son.  This is what we do.  Is that cause for joy?  To have your life matter like that?  What else matters?

Jesus said that He knew of their success against the powers of darkness, telling them that He saw Satan fall from heaven like a flash of lightning (verse 18).

MacArthur explains the Greek words from the original manuscript:

You guys were out there, you were preaching, people were hearing, they were being delivered.  I was watching.  I was watching, theōreō in the imperfect tense. I was a spectator continuously.  It’s not talking about a one-time event, the fall.  Not talking about a one-time event, the temptation.  Not talking about a one-time event, the future, although I think He saw the future fall of Satan in that.  I think that was in certainly in His mind and in His view.  But for this moment He was saying, “I was watching Satan fall from heaven like lightning.”  Have you ever been in a lightning storm?  Sha-koom! And then it’s black.  Sha-koom! And then it’s black.  Choo! And then it’s black. And choo! It’s black.  And I was watching you.  Satan in a final flash and then the soul was rescued and he was goneThen I saw it again.  Then I saw it again.  Then I saw it again.  Then I saw it again.

Jesus told the disciples that He had given them authority over all unpleasant beasts, such as snakes and scorpions — synonymous with evil spirits — and over the power of the enemy; therefore, nothing could hurt them (verse 19).

‘See’ in that verse is sometimes translated as ‘Behold’, an emphatic word that demands attention.

MacArthur has more on this verse:

The thought might be, “You know, we could get ourselves in trouble with the forces of hell and that might not be too good.”  So immediately in verse 19 Jesus says this, “Behold,” a startling fact is coming, that’s why He uses this term “behold.”  “Behold, I” love that, the divine sovereign Lord have given you, perfect tense in the past with continuing effect, I have permanently given you exousia, dominance, right, authority, “power to tread upon serpents and scorpions and over all the power of the enemy and nothing shall injure you.”  Wow!  They might not like you and they might want to stop you but they can’t.  I, the sovereign divine Lord, have given you permanently as My own the power and dominance that gives you the right to tread upon serpents and scorpions.  Sounds like the Marine image, doesn’t it?  Serpents and scorpions… He’s not talking about the literal animals, bugsThat’s metaphorical for demonsSatan is viewed as a serpentIn the book of Revelation chapter 9, demons have tails like scorpions and a scorpion king over them. The angel of the abyss called Abaddon and Apollyon.  In Revelation 16 demons are like slimy frogs.  These deadly kinds of creatures, serpents and scorpions, are metaphors for the subtle, sneaky, deadly demons.  Those are well-known symbols, by the way, of evil spirits.

Jesus concluded by saying that, while that power was a real cause for joy, there was a greater one: the fact that their names were written in heaven (verse 20). Therefore, they would know salvation.

MacArthur explains the reference to names written in a book, an ancient custom of the time:

In Jewish thinking there was a Book of Life. Exodus 32:32 and 33 talks about it, Psalm 69:28 talks about it, Isaiah 4:3, Daniel 12:1, Revelation 3:5, Revelation 13:8. There was a Book of Life and God has written the names of His own in the book.  That’s the way they did it in ancient timesIn towns they had a book and all the citizens who were in good standing were in the bookGod has a book and all the citizens of heaven have their name thereAnd He says your names are there because you’re My true disciplesIf you’re going to rejoice supremely, rejoice in that.

I would like to close with an observation from MacArthur which is particularly pertinent to atheists and agnostics.

People have said to me, ‘He’s your God, not mine. I have nothing to fear from a so-called Last Judgement.’

MacArthur explains that unbelievers live in a kingdom, just as believers live in the kingdom of God. Both kingdoms will fall under divine judgement:

… when you become a Christian, you enter a kingdom.  In fact, the apostle Paul in Colossians 1:13 says you’re delivered out of the kingdom of darkness into the kingdom of His dear Son.  Lest people get the wrong idea, if you’re not in the kingdom of God, that doesn’t mean you’re free, you’re just in the kingdom of darkness and you’re under another sovereign, and that sovereign is Satan and you’re a slave to sin Everybody lives in a kingdom You just live in the kingdom of darkness or the kingdom of light, the kingdom of Satan, or the kingdom of the Savior.  You live in a kingdom.  You are subject to the authority and the power of the enemy of your soul, or you are subject to the authority and power of the Savior of your soul.  You are either in the kingdom that ends up in hell, or the kingdom that ends up in heaven.  You’re either a slave to sin, or a servant of righteousness.  Don’t be under any illusion that somehow coming into the kingdom of God takes away all your freedom You really have no freedom except the freedom to sin You can choose your poison, that’s all.

This is how you must view the spiritual realities of life

I wish when we preached the gospel we talked more about it like that We talk so much about sharing Christ, like you’re inviting people to get in on something that’s the sort of superficially enjoyable What we’re asking people to do is to come into a kingdom and submit their lives entirely to a King, an absolute monarch who has the right to determine everything without our consultation and who has revealed His will to us in the pages of the Word of God and calls on us to live in absolute submission and obedience to that revelation.  It’s not about your self-satisfaction. It’s not about your self-promotion or your self-fulfillment. It says: We’ve been saying about self-submission and self-suicide, it’s the end of you because you’ve had enough of you. You refuse to associate any longer with the person you are.  You’re sick of the kingdom of darkness, you’re sick of the kingdom of sin and Satan and you are now ready to submit yourself to the benevolent, gracious, loving Lord and King Jesus Christ who will give you forgiveness of your sins and the promise of eternal blessing in His perfect kingdom.

There is a sense in which God is King over the whole universe, His kingdom rules over all, Psalm 103 says.  But we’re not talking about that sort of universal kingdom, the realm of His creation.  We’re talking about the spiritual kingdom in which He rules over the souls of those who have come to Him through Christ This is what we preach, but we preach a kingdom and nothing less and we preach a King and no one less and this King is an absolute monarch.  That is why it says in Romans 10 that if you want to be saved, you must confess Jesus as (what?) Lord.  And Lord is the name above every name.  Lord is the name in which every knee bows.  Lord is a synonym for King.

My sincere thanks to anyone who made it this far, however, this reading has several eternal truths which needed exposition and explanation.

May everyone have a blessed Sunday.

The Second Sunday after Trinity is on June 26, 2022.

Readings for Year C can be found here.

The Gospel reading is as follows (emphases mine):

Luke 9:51-62

9:51 When the days drew near for him to be taken up, he set his face to go to Jerusalem.

9:52 And he sent messengers ahead of him. On their way they entered a village of the Samaritans to make ready for him;

9:53 but they did not receive him, because his face was set toward Jerusalem.

9:54 When his disciples James and John saw it, they said, “Lord, do you want us to command fire to come down from heaven and consume them?”

9:55 But he turned and rebuked them.

9:56 Then they went on to another village.

9:57 As they were going along the road, someone said to him, “I will follow you wherever you go.”

9:58 And Jesus said to him, “Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests; but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.”

9:59 To another he said, “Follow me.” But he said, “Lord, first let me go and bury my father.”

9:60 But Jesus said to him, “Let the dead bury their own dead; but as for you, go and proclaim the kingdom of God.”

9:61 Another said, “I will follow you, Lord; but let me first say farewell to those at my home.”

9:62 Jesus said to him, “No one who puts a hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.”

Commentary comes from Matthew Henry and John MacArthur.

A lot happens in Luke 9. Jesus gives the Apostles all of His own powers and sends them out to teach, preach and heal in His name. Herod worried that Jesus was a reincarnated John the Baptist or a resurrected prophet from Old Testament times. Jesus fed the Five Thousand. Going back to the rumours that Herod had heard, Peter declared that Jesus is the Messiah. Then Jesus predicted His own death, which he did twice in this chapter:

21 Jesus strictly warned them not to tell this to anyone. 22 And he said, “The Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests and the teachers of the law, and he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life.”

While everyone was marveling at all that Jesus did, he said to his disciples, 44 “Listen carefully to what I am about to tell you: The Son of Man is going to be delivered into the hands of men.” 45 But they did not understand what this meant. It was hidden from them, so that they did not grasp it, and they were afraid to ask him about it.

The Transfiguration took place, after which Jesus healed a demon-possessed boy. The Apostles disputed amongst themselves who would be the greatest in the world to come. Jesus corrected their folly by bringing a child to illustrate that whoever welcomed young innocents welcomed Him and, in turn, God the Father.

The chapter ends with our Lord’s visit to Samaria.

Of it, Matthew Henry’s commentary says that this particular visit is recorded only in Luke’s Gospel:

This passage of story we have not in any other of the evangelists, and it seems to come in here for the sake of its affinity with that next before, for in this also Christ rebuked his disciples, because they envied for his sake. There, under colour of zeal for Christ, they were for silencing and restraining separatists: here, under the same colour, they were for putting infidels to death; and, as for that, so for this also, Christ reprimanded them, for a spirit of bigotry and persecution is directly contrary to the spirit of Christ and Christianity.

John MacArthur says that today’s reading is all about mercy, even though the word itself is not used:

He took every experience that the disciples had and turned it into an education about how He thought about everything. And here in this village of Samaria, He finds a perfect opportunity to teach a very short lesson but a riveting and unforgettable one about mercy, about mercy. And they had just completed a lesson on humility, verses 46 to 50. He had taught them the deadly dangers of pride and instructed them by that to be humble.  And this is a perfect way to follow that up because only the humble are merciful. Proud people tend to be without mercy and the prouder they are, the more merciless they become. So from the lesson on humility to the lesson on mercy is not a big jump.

MacArthur says that Luke 9 represents a shift in emphasis:

this is a huge change, huge. Up to now everything in Luke’s gospel has been focusing on His coming, on His coming. The prophecies in the first chapter, the angel’s announcement of John the Baptist, the forerunner, then the angel comes to Mary, the announcement to Mary, the meeting with Elizabeth, the genealogies. And all of a sudden He comes and He’s born and the stories around His birth, the shepherds the wise men. And then He comes to the temple at twelve and all those years go by and finally He embarks upon His ministry and He comes into Judea first, then He comes to Galilee and He’s there well over a year in His ministry.  And He’s come, the Messiah’s come, the Messiah’s come and He’s going from place to place, town to town, village to village. And His coming reaches its pinnacle at the Mount of Transfiguration in this chapter, verses 28 to 36. He’s come all the way to the peak of revelation and there on the mount, Peter, James and John see Him transfigured, they see that He is the eternal Son of God, He is the glory of God, the Shekinah incarnate and they also see Moses and Elijah and they are there and they see the fullness of His revelation, His full coming. And after that, that’s the high point, they start down the mountain, verse 37, and things begin to change. Up to that point it was about His coming. From now on it’s about His going. It’s about His going. Now He sets His face to go to Jerusalem. The whole tenor of the gospel of Luke is going to dramatically change. Up to this point we’ve been talking about He’s the Messiah, He’s revealing Himself as the Messiah. All the evidence is there. Look at His power. Look at His miracles. And now what we’re going to see is He’s headed to the cross, He’s headed to the cross. He’s headed to the cross. Look at the hostility, look at the hatred, look at the vitriol, look at the plots. Look at the plans. Watch what’s happening. Up to now it’s been His coming and from now on it’s going to be His going.  He was literally moving toward His exaltation, moving toward the revelation of His full Messiahship. And now He’s going to move to His humiliation.

Luke says that when it was time for Jesus to be taken up, He set His face to go to Jerusalem (verse 51).

MacArthur contrasts this event with the Transfiguration and how important the next ten chapters of Luke’s Gospel are with regard to Christ’s teaching the Apostles:

Wait a minute!  You saw the glory but the glory is not yet possible because before the crown there has to be the cross, before the glory there has to be the sufferingBefore the exaltation, there has to be the humiliation This is really important teaching time Now that they know who He is, now they know His power and the revelation of His person, now they have to understand His death. And so now we’re going to go through the training of the twelve and in these months as He takes them through, as it were, the valley of humiliation with certainly some moments of wondrous glory, but as they go through the time of humiliation, He teaches them all the things they need to know.  And this training, by the way, goes on from chapter 9, verse 51 to chapter 19, verse 27. That whole section is the training of the twelve as Jesus moves toward Jerusalem.

MacArthur discusses the interpretations of ‘taken up’, or ‘lifted up’ in some translations:

Now in verse 51 it’s identified as when the days were approaching for His ascension, specific days, specific days designed by whom? God. “They were approaching” is sumplro, fulfilled. And you see that word “fulfilled” so often in connection with the plan of God. He said something and it’s fulfilled. He plans something and it’s fulfilled. This is sumplro, really fulfilled, thoroughly, completely fulfilled. Jesus operated on a divine timetable. There were times when Jesus said, His hour had not yet come. And then there was another time when He said, “My hour has come.” He operated not on a human schedule or a human timetable, but on God’s timetable.  And He knew that the days were approaching, the fulfillment was coming when He would analmpsis, be lifted up. Only some months left, time to crank up the instruction of the twelve and time now to progress through suffering and sorrow.

Now what is this ascension? Look at it, verse 51, it’s the word, as I said, analmpsis. It’s only used here in the Bible. It means to lift up, to take up. Some think it could be the cross. John 3, as the serpent was lifted up in the wilderness, so shall the Son of Man be lifted up. John 12:32, “If I be lifted up, I’ll draw all men to Myself.” Is He looking at the cross?  Is He thinking about the cross? Is that what He has in mind?  Well the translators must have had something other than that in thought when they used the word “ascension.”  And I think there’s a reason for that. If you go back to verse 31, you remember that up on the mountain at the transfiguration when Moses and Elijah appeared in glory, they were talking with Jesus and they were speaking of His departure, His exodus. And it is that departure, not the cross, but the final departure from the earth that Jesus has in view. It is, John 17, where Jesus says, look, He says to the Father in His prayer, “I glorified You on earth, now glorify Me in heaven with the glory I had with You before the world began.” I’m ready to come back, Father, is what He said, I’m ready to come back. It is what Hebrews 12 calls the joy that was set before Him, and that’s why He endured the cross and the shame.

Jesus sent messengers ahead of Him, probably a number of Apostles and disciples, who entered a village in Samaria in order that they might prepare for His arrival (verse 52).

Henry says that Jesus did this out of courtesy to the villagers, not for self-aggrandisement, which He would never do:

Observe here, 1. How civil he was to them: He sent messengers before his face, some of his disciples, that went to take up lodgings, and to know whether he might have leave to accommodate himself and his company among them; for he would not come to give offence, or if they took any umbrage at the number of his followers. He sent some to make ready for him, not for state, but convenience, and that his coming might be no surprise.

However, the Samaritans from this village did not wish to receive Jesus, because His face was set towards Jerusalem (verse 53).

That means they knew He worshipped at the temple in Jerusalem.

Henry describes the ongoing loathing between the true Jews and the Samaritans, which dated back centuries:

Now the reason was because his face was as though he would go to Jerusalem; they observed, by his motions, that he was steering his course that way. The great controversy between the Jews and the Samaritans was about the place of worship—whether Jerusalem or mount Gerizim near Sychar; see John 4 20. And so hot was the controversy between them that the Jews would have no dealings with the Samaritans, nor they with them, John 4 9. Yet we may suppose that they did not deny other Jews lodgings among them, no, not when they went up to the feast; for if that had been their constant practice Christ would not have attempted it, and it would have been a great way about for some of the Galileans to go to Jerusalem any other way than through Samaria. But they were particularly incensed against Christ, who was a celebrated teacher, for owning and adhering to the temple at Jerusalem, when the priests of that temple were such bitter enemies to him, which, they hoped, would have driven him to come and worship at their temple, and bring that into reputation; but when they saw that he would go forward to Jerusalem, notwithstanding this, they would not show him the common civility which probably they used formerly to show him in his journey thither.

MacArthur has more:

This was typical Middle Eastern tribal hostility that we see even today Samaritans, I remind you, were a mixed race, semi-pagan offspring of Israelites from the northern kingdom who were left behind when the northern kingdom was taken into Assyrian captivity. They were left there. They intermarried with pagans who were loyal to the Assyrian king so they were half breeds. They had abandoned their Jewish roots and heritage.  They had absorbed paganism.  They feared the Lord, 2 Kings 17:33 says they feared the Lord, yet served their own gods They were amalgam of race and amalgam of religion.  They had their own worship at a place called Mount Gerizim, although their temple had been destroyed in 128 by a man named John Hyrcanus so they had no temple but they still had their own religion, full of spirit, void of truth, mongrel race, mongrel religion, deemed unclean, hated by the Jews. But it was to a Samaritan woman that Jesus first revealed His messiahship. Remember John 4, the woman at the well?  And did you know that Jesus made a Samaritan the hero of one of His most wonderful stories? The story called, “The Good Samaritan,” which was a rebuke to the Jewish leaders, because, you remember, the rabbis and the Jewish leaders passed by and didn’t help the man. And later the gospel was commissioned to go to Samaria, Acts 1:8. Go to Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria.

MacArthur explains that our Lord’s intended visit to Samaria was one of mercy, which He showed to all people. Our Lord’s mercy was in stark contrast to the way that everyone else treated each other, including in matters of religion:

Mercy is extended to all. This flows out of this account. Verse 52, He sent messengers on ahead of Him. They’re leaving Galilee. The Galilean ministry is over. It’s been going on for over a year. It’s over now. They’ve had their opportunity. Where are they going? They’re headed toward Jerusalem in a meandering fashion for months.  But the first place it says they went was they went and entered a village of the Samaritans to make arrangements for Him; of all places, the Samaritans. This illustrates what Luke tells us so much about the ministry of Jesus and that is that it was extensive, it was expansive, it went beyond the conventional limitations. Matthew focuses his gospel on the Jews. Jesus is King of the Jews, the rejection of the Jews, etc. Luke is expansive. Luke embraces the world. Luke knocks down all the conventional walls In the Magnificat of Mary in Luke chapter 1, Mary celebrates the blessing of God upon the Jews.  But in the blessing of Simeon at the temple of the child Jesus, Simeon celebrates the salvation of the Gentiles So early on in this gospel we know from Luke’s account that this is a Messiah who has come to Jew and Gentile and Jesus when He goes to the synagogue in Nazareth preaches that great sermon out of Luke … He says, “Salvation is not for Jews, salvation is for the poor, prisoners, blind, and oppressed.” Anyone who is destitute just like in the Old Testament when God went to a pagan, Gentile widow in Zarephath and also God delivered a Syrian Gentile terrorist named Naaman. Luke features the expansiveness of God’s redemptive mercy. Luke also reminds us extensively of how Jesus hung around tax collectors and prostitutes and criminals and riff-raff, needy people. Luke writes about lepers and the demonized and the diseased and the dead and women and thieves and the fringes of society, and even further — as we’ll see in the chapters ahead of us — the poor, the handicapped, the blind, and even children. Jesus just shattered all the stereotypes. The rabbis didn’t want to pay attention to any of those. Jesus cared for those of low status, all ages, all genders, all races, offering divine mercy to everybody. At the same time that the Pharisees and the scribes, according to Matthew 23:23, paid no attention to justice or mercy, Jesus broke all the conventional stereotypes of religion.

And so, He has to train His twelve to this expansive proclamation. And He has to teach them about mercy beyond the borders. The Jews had no mercy for children, the leaders. They had little mercy for women. They had no mercy for Gentiles. And of all people, they hated Samaritans. Jews generally going from Galilee down to Judea, Jerusalem, wouldn’t even walk through Samaria, they’d go all the way around, cross the Jordan twice, just to avoid going through there because it was a defiled, unclean place. 

When James and John saw how the villagers had rejected Jesus, they asked Him if they should command that fire come down from heaven upon them (verse 54). That is a reference to Elijah’s command centuries before. And, recall from the opening verses of Luke 9, they now had those powers so to do.

Henry says:

they would not have thought of such a thing if Elijah had not done it upon the soldiers that came to take him, once and again, 2 Kings 1 10, 12. They thought that this precedent would be their warrant;

Early in His ministry, Jesus called James and John, Zebedee’s sons, Boanerges, or the sons of thunder (Mark 3:17):

17 James son of Zebedee and his brother John (to them he gave the name Boanerges, which means “sons of thunder”) …

Jesus turned and rebuked Boanerges (verse 55). He came to save souls, not destroy them.

Henry says:

so apt are we to misapply the examples of good men, and to think to justify ourselves by them in the irregular liberties we give ourselves, when the case is not parallel.

MacArthur further explains the reaction of James and John and why Jesus rebuked them:

Old feelings ran deep and were lasting. They said no, we’re not going to let you have an easy journey down to your place and help you on your way.  And so it wasn’t really theological, it was more this whole racial thing and this religious jealousy. And verse 54 when His disciples James and John saw this, they said, “Lord, do You want us to command fire to come down from heaven and consume them?” This is the Saddam Hussein kind of reaction.

Now on the one hand, you might say, “It’s understandable. They love the Lord.  They’ve seen His glory on the mountain.” I mean, there’s a touch of nobility in this righteous indignation. These two are called the sons of thunder, Boanerges. I think it’s Mark 3:17. They were volatile guys and they just blew up, they were so angry. Probably tired, probably hungry, probably wanting to rest and they had been rebuked and rebuffed and their Lord has been dishonored and He is the God of the universe in human flesh and they are just outraged by this. And they say, “Lord,” feeling their sort of apostolic oats a little bit, “Do You want us to command fire to come down from heaven and consume them?” Well what made them think they could do that?  They had never done that. They healed some people and maybe raised the dead and perhaps cast out some demons, but they hadn’t been calling fire down from heaven. What in the world are they thinking? Well, I’ll tell you what they were thinking, because some translations say, and you’ll see it in the margin even here, “Do you want us to command fire to come down from heaven and consume them as Elijah did?”  They knew where they were and they were thinking back to 2 Kings, chapter 1. Elijah was in the same area, the same region. And some of the enemies of God got in a situation with Elijah and he called down fire from heaven and burned them up.

Verse 55: “He turned and rebuked them.” He rebuked them. And some manuscripts say, when you go back to the originals some of the old, old manuscripts, some have it and some don’t, but certainly what is here is true, whether or not it was said on this occasion, a similar thing was said and we’ll see it in Luke 19:10, but anyway, we’ll take it as it comes in the text. “He turned and rebuked them and said, ‘You don’t know what kind of spirit you’re of.'” You better get in touch with yourself, guys. You can’t go through ministry with that kind of an attitude. I mean, you’re going to go in and you’re going to make a simple proclamation of Jesus Christ and somebody doesn’t accept Him and you want to burn them to death? This is not sensible evangelism. You know, “Repent or die,” you know, what in the world?  We don’t need that. This is the time of mercy. 

Verse 56: “For the Son of Man didn’t come to destroy men’s lives but to save them.” We know that, don’t we? The Son of Man, Luke 19:10, is come to seek and to save the lost. This may not have been in the original text, but some scribe wanting to embellish it added it and that’s why it shows up in some of the later manuscripts, but even though it’s sort of scribally parenthetic, it’s accurate.  The Son of Man didn’t come to destroy men’s lives but to save them John 3; read that. He didn’t come to destroy. He came to save, to seek and to save the lost.

And what’s the point here?  He gives mercy to the ignorant They didn’t reject Jesus because He claimed to be God and they rejected that claim.  They didn’t reject Jesus because He claimed to save by grace and they wanted law.  They didn’t reject Jesus because they didn’t like the religious doctrines He taught.  They rejected Him because He was Jewish and He was going to the temple, which means they didn’t even understand who He was And there’s always mercy extended to those who may be deeply religious but are ignorant of the truth.

As they were rejected, they moved on to another village (verse 56).

Along the way, Jesus encountered three men who wanted to follow Him.

MacArthur gives us the full import of following. It is not for a few hours or a day here and there. It is a full time commitment:

Three would-be disciples and the subject is, “Following Jesus.”  The first man says I will follow. To the second man Jesus says, “Follow Me.” The third man says, “I will follow.”  Follow is the operative word here.  It’s about following Jesus.  That’s the subject.  It’s about the high cost of following Jesus It’s about what hinders people from following Jesus.  Right at the core it’s about following Jesus.

And though that is a very familiar word in the gospels, Jesus many times called people to follow Him.  He called Matthew to follow Him.  He called the rich young ruler to follow Him.  He called Philip to follow Him.  He called Peter to follow Him.  He called all of the twelve to follow Him at some point and He called many others to follow Him.  And always when He did that He used the same word, akoloutheō, and He used it in the present imperative, which implied an ongoing command“Following” in itself implies a future, implies continuity.  It implies something beyond the moment.  And in the present tense, that implication becomes explicit.  Keep on following Me.  You might even say, “From now on in your life, follow Me.”

It is for that reason that we should reject the Evangelical style of a simple altar call or prayer recitation:

That really is not typical of the modern style of calling people to discipleship or evangelismModern evangelism would lead us to believe that becoming a Christian is a matter of a moment, not a lifetime.  It’s a matter of an accepting of Christ.  It’s a matter of an emotional experience to which you were led by fiery preaching or heart-rending stories or music.  Whatever might be used to induce a person to a moment of emotional breakdown where they will pray a prayer, make a decision, accept Christ, that seems to be the direction of modern evangelical evangelism.  All they have to do is grab that moment, say that prayer.  And if they don’t know what it should be, we’ll give them a formula to pray.  And that’s all it takes to become a Christian.

It’s obvious that Jesus didn’t do that. He never tried to, quote, “Get people saved” by moving them emotionally to a moment of crisis, or a moment of decision, or a moment of acceptance of Himself. He never brought anybody that I know of in the New Testament to a place where they were supposed to pray a prayer. Never did He do that and never did the apostles do that. None of them ever moved toward some crisis event in which supposedly the sinner was redeemed from sin and death and hell. And yet the call to Christ, the call to salvation is typically viewed in our world as an event, as a…a response to an emotional moment. Not so in the words of Jesus. When Jesus invited someone to come into His kingdom, when Jesus invited someone to receive His forgiveness and salvation, He asked that person for the rest of his life. He didn’t want a moment. He didn’t want the emotion of a moment. He wanted the carefully thought out, understood, commitment of a lifetime. Repentance from sin, confession of Jesus as Lord, obedience from the heart to the Word and the Spirit was for life. And there was always that emphasis in the ministry of Jesus. He disdained the short-term disciple. He made things so difficult for many would-be disciples that, for example, in the 6th chapter of John it says, “Many of His disciples walked no more with Him.” The standard was just too high. What was required was too demanding.

As they walked along, a man approached and told Jesus that he would follow Him wherever He went (verse 57).

MacArthur says that the chronology of this differs to Matthew’s account:

though the chronology here is not clear, Luke just kind of throws this little account in here. It is clear in Matthew. And it is clear in Matthew that this event actually happened in the ministry in Galilee around the town of Capernaum which is the headquarters for Jesus’ ministry. In Luke’s flow we are outside Galilee now, we’re moving outside Galilee. The Galilean ministry is over. You remember back in verse 51 that Jesus had resolutely set His face to go to Jerusalem. So He’s on the way now to Jerusalem. There’s a number of months, less than a year now until His death. And as He moves toward Jerusalem, He goes to various places, moving about. But the primary goal is the training of the twelve, to prepare them for the ministry that awaits them after He is gone. Matthew tells us this was during the Galilean ministry. Luke includes it here because it’s part of the training of the twelve. In chapter 9 verse 46 He gave them a lesson on humility. In verse 51 and following He gave them a lesson on mercy. And here He gives them a lesson on discipleship. This is all part of how He’s preparing them and us for this responsibility

Matthew tells us that when this incident happened, Jesus had been doing many powerful miracles. So whenever that happened, there was a swelling of the crowd.

In Matthew’s version, this man was a scribe, therefore well ensconced in the Jewish hierarchy and leading a privileged life. His emotions were no doubt running high. He might also have hoped to bask a bit in our Lord’s reflected glory, so to speak.

Whatever the case, Jesus, being omniscient, knew the man’s heart and mind.

Jesus told him that the foxes have their holes for shelter, just as birds have nests for theirs, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head (verse 58), meaning that being a disciple meant material hardship, including lack of a regular home.

MacArthur says:

The scribe saw the crowds, he saw the miracles. He heard the teaching. He wanted to be associated with Jesus because there was no one like Him.

This offer was very complete on the part of the scribe, and yet on the part of Jesus it wasn’t complete enough. It’s really amazing. If anybody came today and said, “I want to follow Jesus wherever He leads,” the average evangelical Christian is going to say, “Pray this prayer, sign this card, start into follow-up.”

Jesus doesn’t do that. He says the most amazing thing to him. You want to follow Me? We’re not going to the Ritz Carlton.

To a second man, Jesus extended an invitation to follow Him, but the man asked if he could first bury his father (verse 59).

Now if we look at one of the first readings for this particular Sunday, we read in 1 Kings that Elisha asked Elijah if he could kiss his parents goodbye before following him:

19:20 He left the oxen, ran after Elijah, and said, “Let me kiss my father and my mother, and then I will follow you.” Then Elijah said to him, “Go back again; for what have I done to you?”

19:21 He returned from following him, took the yoke of oxen, and slaughtered them; using the equipment from the oxen, he boiled their flesh, and gave it to the people, and they ate. Then he set out and followed Elijah, and became his servant.

However, the man whom Jesus encountered had a different home situation as MacArthur explains:

Now you might think that his father’s body is lying at the house. That isn’t the case. And it does seem reasonable, it really does, to go bury your father and the Jews had thirty days of mourning, you know, to take a month and go and do that if your father had just died is reasonable. According to Jewish custom, burial took place immediately after death. They didn’t embalm, they just wrapped bodies and put them immediately in the grave. And there was a thirty-day time of mourning. It would have been appropriate for the son to be there. It was honorable to give burial to the dead and particularly a son’s responsibility to make sure that his father was cared for in death …

On the surface it says some good things about the man, says some necessary things about the man. This man, however, knows that the Lord is moving away from the area. He just said He doesn’t have anywhere to lay His head. He’s itinerant, He’s on the move. He’s on the road, as verse 57 says. Where’s He going to be in a month? Where’s He going to be in two months? Where’s He going to be in whatever amount of time is involved here? And to just make this story very clear, the point here is his father wasn’t dead. He’s not saying the body is laying at the house waiting to be buried. He wouldn’t be there if that were the case because they buried them immediately. He’s saying, “Look, I’ve lived too long to leave now without my inheritance. I’ll follow You but I was just listening to the conversation You had with that guy and You said that You don’t have anywhere to lay Your head, the resources are meager here, You can’t promise us anything, no prosperity gospel here, so I think it would be better for me if I just hung around and I waited till I got what I have been waiting for all these years. I’ll pad my own pockets and I’m in a good fall-back position, if, you know, things don’t work out.”

By the way, “I must bury my father” is a familiar Middle Eastern statement still used. And when they use it and they say, “I must bury my father,” they mean I must stay at home until he’s gone so that I can bring his estate to its final point and so that I can receive my inheritance. I’ll follow You someday, when my father’s dead and I’ve gotten what I need. Ah, he’s attracted to Jesus, who wouldn’t be? He’s amazed at His power, but he loves money. He’s like the weedy soil in the parables of the kingdom.

Jesus, recognising the superficiality and materialism of this man, tells him that the dead should bury their own dead and that he should proclaim the kingdom of God (verse 60).

MacArthur explains the nuances in our Lord’s reply:

If you had a decaying body sitting at the house, Jesus wouldn’t have said this. His intentions weren’t good. Jesus said, “Let the spiritually dead…” What He means by that is: the unconverted people. Let the people in this world who are outside the kingdom of God take care of the dead. Leave temporal things to temporal people. Leave the matters of the temporal kingdom to the people who live in that kingdom. You are called to come into the kingdom of God and for the rest of your life to go and proclaim the glories of that kingdom. Let go of the kingdom of this world, even its good elements, even its noble responsibilities. I mean, that is clearly again an indication that Jesus knew what was in the man’s heart. And it wasn’t something He had to read, He heard it out of his mouth. I want to wait till my father dies. And Jesus would be long gone by then. Who knows years maybe? You don’t get the picture here. Your priorities are messed up. Secular matters belong to secular people. You’re telling Me you want to follow Me, you want to follow Me into the kingdom of God, then forget the secular world and do what relates to the kingdom. What’s that? Go and proclaim the kingdom of God. What does that mean? Go and preach the gospel because proclaiming the kingdom of God is simply telling people how they can enter the kingdom of God, and that’s the gospel. This man is committed to personal riches. He’s like the rich young ruler back in Matthew 19, remember the rich young ruler who said, “How do I receive eternal life?” You know, “What do I do, good Master, to receive eternal life?” And Jesus said, “Well before we talk about eternal life, let’s talk about the law, let’s talk about the law, let’s talk about the Ten Commandments.”

“Oh, I’ve kept the Ten Commandments. I’m not a sinner.”

That’s a problem. That’s a problem.

“And then let’s talk about submission and self-denial. Take everything you have. Sell it and give all the proceeds to the poor.”

And he went away. That’s not what he was willing to do. There was no self-denial there. He wouldn’t deny his own self-righteousness and he wouldn’t deny his own possessions. And so he went away, tragic figure.

Jesus put the barriers up at the appropriate time to make sure that the devotion was complete and consummate. And here was a man who was asked to follow, said I’ll do it sometime in the future after I’ve been taken care of with my inheritance. Jesus said, “You don’t understand. You come into My kingdom, you let go of the kingdom of this world. Friendship with the world is enmity with the God.” If you love the world or the things that are in the world, the love of the Father is not in you.

Then the third man came along, saying that he would follow Jesus but wanted to bid farewell to his parents at home (verse 61).

Again, we think of Elisha’s request to Elijah about kissing his parents goodbye before returning to follow that great prophet.

However, once again, Jesus knew the nature of this man’s heart.

Both commentators surmise that Jesus knew his family would try and talk him out of following Jesus.

Henry says:

This seemed reasonable; it was what Elisha desired when Elijah called him, Let me kiss my father and my mother; and it was allowed him: but the ministry of the gospel is preferable, and the service of it more urgent than that of the prophets; and therefore here it would not be allowed. Suffer me apotaxasthai tois eis ton oikon mouLet me go and set in order my household affairs, and give direction concerning them; so some understand it. Now that which was amiss in this is, (1.) That he looked upon his following Christ as a melancholy, troublesome, dangerous thing; it was to him as if he were going to die and therefore he must take leave of all his friends, never to see them again, or never with any comfort; whereas, in following Christ, he might be more a comfort and blessing to them than if he had continued with them. (2.) That he seemed to have his worldly concerns more upon his heart than he ought to have, and than would consist with a close attendance to his duty as a follower of Christ. He seemed to hanker after his relations and family concerns, and he could not part easily and suitably from them, but they stuck to him. It may be he had bidden them farewell once, but Loth to depart bids oft farewell, and therefore he must bid them farewell once more, for they are at home at his house. (3.) That he was willing to enter into a temptation from his purpose of following Christ. To go and bid them farewell that were at home at his house would be to expose himself to the strongest solicitations imaginable to alter his resolution; for they would all be against it, and would beg and pray that he would not leave them. Now it was presumption in him to thrust himself into such a temptation. Those that resolve to walk with their Maker, and follow their Redeemer, must resolve that they will not so much as parley with their tempter.

MacArthur says:

This guy had long apron strings. I just want to go home. Well that sounds kind of reasonable. I figure he’s thinking to himself, and this is speculation, you know, I don’t need to wait till my father dies to get all the money, I’ll just go home and raise some support for my mission adventure. I’ll just go home and have a big farewell party. And, you know, I’ll cash in on that and that will give me a little to follow. Jesus is worth following, Jesus is exciting. This is phenomenal stuff. I’ll just make a short trip home, be back in a week or so and I’ll have collected something from everybody for the journey. Or it may have been that in his heart was this hold with the family that he couldn’t let go of and you do remember, don’t you, how absolutely adamant Jesus was and said what is so hard to hear, “Do not think that I came to bring peace on the earth. I didn’t come to bring peace but a sword. I came to set a man against his father, or a daughter against her mother, a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law and a man’s enemies will be the member of his household. He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me, he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me.”

Jesus warned him about looking back, using an ancient proverb about a plough: no one who puts a hand to a plough and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God (verse 62).

MacArthur tells us about the proverb:

Jesus responds, verse 62, with a proverb that can be traced back to a writer named Hesiod in 800 B.C. “No one, after putting his hand to the plow and looking back is fit for the kingdom of God.” The proverb probably said something like, “You can’t plow a furrow looking backwards.” Jesus said, look, you…you can’t follow Me looking backwards. You can’t have a divided heart. You can’t be Mr. Facing Both Ways, to borrow the words of John Bunyan. There are people who come all the way up to believing, all the way up and could be pushed to pray the prayer, make the decision, accept Christ, do whatever the moment called to do, but if you confronted them with the fact that the self-denial is so complete that it asks you to be willing to give up all your comfort, all your possessions if that’s what the Lord asks, and all your relationships. And the one who is truly being prompted by the Spirit of God and brought into the kingdom is going to say, “Look, Jesus Christ is so infinitely valuable to me that I don’t care what the price is, I will gladly sell all for the pearl.” This man’s heart was divided. And there was no way that he was fit for the kingdom of God because he was holding on to the kingdoms of this world.

Today’s Gospel is about rejection. The Samaritans, like the Gadarenes, whose story we had last Sunday, rejected Christ for a superficial reason. However, Christ also rejected those who would have been fickle followers. However, He did so for good reason, unlike the Samaritans and Gadarenes who rejected Him.

MacArthur concludes:

The issue here is salvation, people. The issue is coming into the kingdom. And if you’ve ever wondered what the issue here was, some people think it’s sort of second-level discipleship. No. And verse 62 makes it clear. It’s about coming into the kingdom. And Jesus is simply saying to these people, “Look, if you’re holding back anything, you can’t come in. Salvation is for those who have come to complete self-denial.” The Lord may not take away all your comfort. He may not take away all your possessions. He may not take away all your relationships. But you’re not negotiating. You’re simply saying the infinite value of the gospel of Jesus Christ is so great that if He asks, I’ll give it all up. I’ll give it all up.

So responding properly to Christ is not a matter of emotion. It’s not a matter of an event. It’s not a matter of a momentary acceptance or a decision. It is not some superficial interest. It is not even a matter of saying, “I will follow.” It is a matter of self-denial, total self-denial, a willingness to give up everything because the value of Christ is so infinite. The sinner has reached that level of desperation by the prompting of the Holy Spirit. He who doesn’t take up his cross and follow me is not worthy of Me, Jesus said. He who has found his life shall lose it. He who has lost his life for My sake shall find it. It’s about losing your life. It’s about hating yourself. It’s about holding on to nothing. It’s a beatitude attitude.

We aren’t told how these three responded to what Jesus said, but it’s pretty obvious. They left Christ to hold on to their earthly loves. What a sad decision. The pearl of great price is available for those who sell all. The treasure hidden in the field is available for those who sell all. That’s how it is with true disciples. They’ve entered into a life of following Jesus, following Jesus.

May all reading this have a blessed Sunday.

Anyone wishing to share their sermon experiences is most welcome to do so in the comments.

The First Sunday after Trinity is June 19, 2022.

Readings for Year C can be found here.

The Gospel reading is as follows (emphases mine):

Luke 8:26-39

8:26 Then they arrived at the country of the Gerasenes, which is opposite Galilee.

8:27 As he stepped out on land, a man of the city who had demons met him. For a long time he had worn no clothes, and he did not live in a house but in the tombs.

8:28 When he saw Jesus, he fell down before him and shouted at the top of his voice, “What have you to do with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I beg you, do not torment me”

8:29 for Jesus had commanded the unclean spirit to come out of the man. (For many times it had seized him; he was kept under guard and bound with chains and shackles, but he would break the bonds and be driven by the demon into the wilds.)

8:30 Jesus then asked him, “What is your name?” He said, “Legion”; for many demons had entered him.

8:31 They begged him not to order them to go back into the abyss.

8:32 Now there on the hillside a large herd of swine was feeding; and the demons begged Jesus to let them enter these. So he gave them permission.

8:33 Then the demons came out of the man and entered the swine, and the herd rushed down the steep bank into the lake and was drowned.

8:34 When the swineherds saw what had happened, they ran off and told it in the city and in the country.

8:35 Then people came out to see what had happened, and when they came to Jesus, they found the man from whom the demons had gone sitting at the feet of Jesus, clothed and in his right mind. And they were afraid.

8:36 Those who had seen it told them how the one who had been possessed by demons had been healed.

8:37 Then all the people of the surrounding country of the Gerasenes asked Jesus to leave them; for they were seized with great fear. So he got into the boat and returned.

8:38 The man from whom the demons had gone begged that he might be with him; but Jesus sent him away, saying,

8:39 “Return to your home, and declare how much God has done for you.” So he went away, proclaiming throughout the city how much Jesus had done for him.

Commentary comes from Matthew Henry and John MacArthur.

This is the famous story of the Gadarene Swine, covered in the three Synoptic Gospels, Matthew, Mark and Luke.

I wrote about Matthew’s version in Forbidden Bible Verses and also in my Apologetics Corner series, here and here.

In Luke 8, just before this tremendous episode, Jesus had calmed a sea storm. The disciples had been terrified by its power. Jesus rebuked them for having such little faith.

Matthew Henry’s commentary states:

5. Christ’s business is to lay storms, as it is Satan’s business to raise them. He can do it; he has done it; he delights to do it: for he came to proclaim peace on earth. He rebuked the wind and the raging of the water, and immediately they ceased (v. 24); not, as at other times, by degrees, but all of a sudden, there was a great calm. Thus Christ showed that, though the devil pretends to be the prince of the power of the air, yet even there he has him in a chain.

6. When our dangers are over, it becomes us to take to ourselves the shame of our own fears and to give to Christ the glory of his power. When Christ had turned the storm into a calm, then were they glad because they were quiet, Ps 107 30. And then, (1.) Christ gives them a rebuke for their inordinate fear: Where is your faith? v. 25. Note, Many that have true faith have it to seek when they have occasion to use it. They tremble, and are discouraged, if second causes frown upon them. A little thing disheartens them; and where is their faith then? (2.) They give him the glory of his power: They, being afraid, wondered. Those that had feared the storm, now that the danger was over with good reason feared him that had stilled it, and said one to another, What manner of man is this! They might as well have said, Who is a God like unto thee? For it is God’s prerogative to still the noise of the seas, the noise of their waves, Ps 65 7.

Henry introduces our Gospel reading:

II. His power over the devil, the prince of the power of the air. In the next passage of story he comes into a closer grapple with him than he did when he commanded the winds. Presently after the winds were stilled they were brought to their desired haven, and arrived at the country of the Gadarenes, and there went ashore (v. 26, 27); and he soon met with that which was his business over, and which he thought it worth his while to go through a storm to accomplish.

Luke tells us that the country of the Gerasenes is opposite Galilee (verse 26).

John MacArthur describes the scene for us:

Starting in verse 26, they sailed, remember now, the storm was stilled by Jesus, they finished their little trip across the north section of the lake, the Sea of Galilee, really seeking some rest from the huge crowds that just literally never left Jesus alone. Jesus had gotten in a boat with the apostles and disciples. There were a lot of other boats. There was a little flotilla of followers of Jesus going away for some rest and perhaps some private instruction. Jesus, remember now, from this point on in His ministry in Galilee spoke only in parables and only to His own disciples did He explain their meaning so there was always a public meeting and then a private meeting when the explanation was given. So off they went following Jesus on a clear night only to find that a storm came up. Jesus stilled the storm. It had blown them off course so they have to sort of regroup, head the direction they need to go and they arrive there probably just at daybreak, sailing to the country of the Gerasenes which is opposite Galilee. It’s opposite the Galilee which had to do primarily with the western part, the western shore of the Sea of Galilee. So they’re across on the eastern shore to the country of the Gerasenes.

I just need to comment on that. Luke and Mark use Gerasenes. Matthew calls them Gadarenes. Some Greek texts use Gergesenes. I don’t want to get into a big convoluted explanation of all of that. I think it’s relatively simple. There was a town there about six miles due east called Gerasa, or Gergesa, hence the Gerasenes, or the Gergesenes. The modern name is Kersa. There was another town called Gadara which explains why some of the writers refer to it as Gadara. Gadara was further south down the lake and further inland. It wasn’t on the edge of the lake and so it doesn’t provide the right topography to be the place where the pigs ran down the hill into the lake. Gadara, however, was a larger town and gave the name to the region, so that Gerasa or Gergesa was a town in the country of the Gadarenes. So, all of these terms essentially describe the same area. The focus is on the town of Gergesa or Gerasa because it suits the incident so perfectly. There are around Kersa, modern Kersa, in the hillsides many tombs still to this day to be seen and there is a slope that descends to the lake where the pigs could run…tombs being the place where this man was dwelling.

MacArthur says that the demons Jesus encountered during His ministry were unusual in both the Old and New Testaments:

It is a curiosity to me that if you go through the Old Testament you’re not going to find demon-possessed people with the exception of the very unique situation in the 6th chapter of Genesis where the sons of God and cohabitated with the daughters of men, that unique situation where apparently some fallen angels came upon some women. Apart from that… And those demons, you remember, according to what Peter said and Jude said were put into everlasting chains for doing that. But apart from that you don’t have any demon-possessed people in the Old TestamentYou have a lying spirit, you have the appearance of a medium in connection with the demon, but you don’t have people manifesting that they’re full of demons.  Interestingly enough that after the four gospels you only have two occasions, Acts 16 and Acts 19, where you have a demon-possessed situationAnd it’s never even referred to in the epistles of the New Testament, never referred toIt wasn’t an issue in the churches to which the apostle Paul wrote, or John wrote, or Jude wrote, or Peter wrote or James wroteBut in the life of Christ and in the three years of His ministry there is a manifestation of demon possessions that is unlike anything in all of human history, to be exceeded only by the manifestation of demonic power in the time yet to come called the Great Tribulation, just prior to Christ’s Second ComingAnd God Himself will aide that manifestation by opening up the pit of hell and the place of bound demons called the pit, the bottomless pit, the abussos, the abyss and letting it belch out some demons who have been bound there so that there is a greater force of demons in the time of the tribulation than ever before and they are allowed to run rampant over the earth in ways prior to which they have been restrained.

At His Second Coming, Jesus will subdue Satan and his angels.

Returning to our text, when Jesus reached land, a demon-possessed man from the city went to meet Him. It had been a long time since the man wore clothes; he lived not in his house but in the tombs (verse 27).

Students of the Gospels will ask whether there was one man or two.

MacArthur says:

In Matthew 8:28 Matthew says there were two men. There were two men.  He had a compatriot, perhaps equally demon possessed and equally bizarre, and equally deadly and dangerous. But in all the accounts, the one man becomes the focus, so we really don’t know what happened to the second man.  Two of them appeared. The focus of the story is on one man.  Perhaps he was included in the deliverance, perhaps he was not.

MacArthur says the man was naked because he was possessed by these many demons and was far removed from his right mind:

I like to think of this man, I guess the best word I can think of to use is maniac. The definition of maniac is a person exhibiting extreme symptoms of wild behavior. And that’s exactly what you have here. This man is so out of control as not to even be defined in human terms. It’s just so bizarre, so far beyond … Here we’re going to see the greatest exhibition of power over the forces of hell to this point in Scripture. Jesus vanquishes this mass of demons in this horrific individual

Anybody without Christ then is under the rule of Satan and under the influence of his demons and therefore anybody who is a sinner who is not protected by salvation through Jesus Christ is therefore vulnerable. What the entry points are, I’m not sure I can be explicit about in every case. I can say this, that as you study the Scripture, idolatry seems to be a way to throw the door open. Tampering in the occult seems to be a way to throw the door open. But that is not so say the most tormented people were necessarily the worst sinners. This is a Gentile man outside of Israel, so he was involved, if in any religion at all, in some pagan religion. It may have been, as most of them were occultic, and that may have thrown the door open to him, but he’s not any worse. In fact, as the story ends, the people who are the worst people in the story are the townspeople who were sane enough to bind this man up but not willing to believe in the man who delivered him, the God-Man Jesus Christ. So who is really the maniac?

I don’t know that there’s any way to say except that God allows Satan to do his work and demons have their agenda. And within God’s allowance, they pick and choose who they will. It isn’t that these people are worse sinners because what happens to them is not just an expression of their evil heart; it is for them a demonic torment. This man wasn’t happy about his condition, he was tormented by it

Now the person is not necessarily more evil and that gives entrance to the demon, but once the demons come in then evil becomes accelerated. Evil becomes manifest in some cases beyond what can even be discussed or described or understood humanly. They can become so infested by demons, so literally dominated by forces of unclean spirits as to conduct themselves in ways as we’ve been pointing out, that are absolutely beyond description humanly. And that’s this man. Let’s look at some of the characteristics of his conduct.

First of all, it says he hadn’t put on any clothing for a long time. You say, “Well that’s really strange. What’s that about?” Well it’s about perversion. It’s about shamelessness. You remember in the 19th chapter of Acts, I think it’s about verse 16, the evil spirit there pounces on these people and strips off their clothes? From the time that Adam and Eve sinned there has been a shame associated with human nakedness because from the time of their sin on they had lustful and perverted thoughts. And they knew that. And immediately the first thing they did was make coverings. But theirs was only temporarily made out of leaves. God came, killed an animal which is a picture of His Son who had become the final covering, and He covered them with a more permanent garment. And from then on uncovering someone’s nakedness was tantamount to sexual evil. That little phrase “uncovering someone’s nakedness,” you find it in the Pentateuch. It’s tantamount to sexual perversion and evil. The Bible is very clear about clothing and about modesty and about covering. Nakedness is a sign of shamelessness. It is a sign of sexual perversion. I’m talking all the way from the naturalists at the nudist colony to the pornographers at the other end and everything in between. It’s aberrant. But not only was it aberrant, it was also a torment for the man. It gets cold and it gets hot and there are extremes of weather in that part of the world. This was a kind of torment for him as the demons had dominated him and turned him into a shameless, perverted, evil person …

Now it says he was not living in a house but he was living in tombs. Obviously you couldn’t have somebody like this in a house. What would we do with him today? What would we do with somebody like him? We’d put him in prison, right? We’d put him in prison and then you have to isolate him so they can’t get near anybody, or put him in a padded cell. I remember some years back when people who behaved like this were put in straight-jackets. Remember that? I’ve seen people in those things in mental institutions. Now today what is done with people who have this kind of potentiality is they put them on drugs and when they slaughter a bunch of people, such as the Andrea Yates thing, we say the problem was, “She didn’t take her medication.” Demons can’t be medicated but since the human body can be medicated, it becomes less useful to them when it’s medicated. But in those days they couldn’t control them with medication. They didn’t have a mental institution to put them in. They didn’t have a padded cell to put them in.

Furthermore, he was suicidal.  He was a danger to himself.  Mark 5:5 says, “Night and day he was gashing and hacking at his naked body with sharp stones.”  He was mutilating himself because Satan is a murderer, is he not?  He is a killer.  He is an abaddon, he is a destroyer.  And his demons are the same.  Here is a man literally taking sharp rocks and gashing his body.  Mark 5:3 and 4 says nobody could control him. The demon power was too great.  He was violent and he was not only harmful to himself but he frankly was absolutely deadly to other people because he had murderous intentIn the account in Matthew it says he along with his friend, the two of them, were so exceedingly violent that no one could pass by the road.  You couldn’t even walk along the road below where they were because they were so violent they would come screaming down the hill.  It says they would scream, they would shriek, run down the hill nakedness with the intention of doing harm, taking life.  They are really the most manifest bearers of the mark of satanic personality.  They would then stay up in their tombs, as we’ll see, and when people came on the road, screaming and shrieking in nakedness they would run down the hill with the intent to attack, to maim and to kill.  This is what Satan wants to do.

When the man saw Jesus, his demons spoke through him, saying to our Lord, ‘What business do you have with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I beg You, do not torment me’ (verse 28).

Note that even demons recognise that Jesus is Lord. Put that to your atheist and agnostic friends sometime. See how they react.

Demons know that they are living on borrowed time. One day, Jesus, through the power of God, will defeat them permanently.

Henry explains:

4. They are much enraged against our Lord Jesus, and have a great dread and horror of him: When the man whom they had possession of, and who spoke as they would have him, saw Jesus, he roared out as one in an agony, and fell down before him, to deprecate his wrath, and owned him to be the Son of God most high, that was infinitely above him and too hard for him; but protested against having any league or confederacy with him (which might sufficiently have silenced the blasphemous cavils of the scribes and Pharisees): What have I to do with thee? The devils have neither inclination to do service to Christ nor expectation to receive benefit by him: What have we to do with thee? But they dreaded his power and wrath: I beseech thee, torment me not. They do not say, I beseech thee, save me, but only, Torment me not. See whose language they speak that have only a dread of hell as a place of torment, but no desire of heaven as a place of holiness and love.

5. They are perfectly at the command, and under the power, of our Lord Jesus; and they knew it, for they besought him that he would not command them to go eis ton abyssoninto the deep, the place of their torment, which they acknowledge he could easily and justly do. O what a comfort is this to the Lord’s people, that all the powers of darkness are under the check and control of the Lord Jesus! He has them all in a chain. He can send them to their own place, when he pleaseth.

MacArthur tells us:

“What do I have to do with You, Jesus, Son of the Most High God?”  I’m telling you, the demons’ theology is orthodox. They know who Jesus is.  There were disciples there who weren’t sure.  The demons know.  It is a strange and bizarre testimony to the reality of who Jesus Christ is.  “What do I have to do with You, Jesus, Son of the Most High God?”  It’s very much like that other demon in the 4th chapter who said essentially the same thing.  In chapter 4 the demon said, “What do we have to do with You, Jesus of Nazareth. I know who You are, the Holy One of God.”  And here in an amazing way God gives testimony to the identity of His Son through demons, amazing.

By the way, they are timeless, they are ageless.  They were created at one time. They do not reproduce. They are as old as creation.  They have vast knowledge. They were originally holy angelsThey have vast knowledge of the personality of God and the Godhead, and they knew exactly who Jesus was.

“What do I have to do with You, Jesus?  What’s this all about?”  As if to say, “Why are You here?  What’s this about?  I beg You, do not torment me.”  He calls Him, “Son of the Most High God.”  We’ve discussed that term because it was used in chapter 1. When the angel came to announce the birth of the Messiah, he said He would be the Son of the Most High God and God would give to Him His kingdom.  It’s a New Testament term taken from the Old Testament. The Most High God is El Elyon. It means “God, the sovereign one, God the sovereign Lord.” And so what they’re saying is, “Son of the sovereign Lord.”  Often in the Old Testament “the Most High God” is followed by the statement, “possessor of heaven and earth.”  They know this is the Lord of heaven and earth. This is the Creator God in human form.  This is God the Son, the One who is Most High.  The demons knew Him well.  Even Satan knew Him well.  Remember back in chapter 4 when Satan confronted Him, he said, “Since You are the Son of God,” do this, do this.  Since You are the Son of God do this, do this.  The devils know exactly who He is.

The demons had said that to Jesus because He commanded them to leave the man; the unclean spirit they made up within him caused him to break his shackles, which the townspeople had put him in, and go out into the wilderness, or the desert, in some translations (verse 29).

Jesus asked the man for his name, and the demons replied through him, ‘Legion’, for they were many (verse 30).

The demons numbered themselves as soldiers in the Roman Empire. The size of a Roman legion varied throughout the centuries, but, much of the time, there were more than 3,000 men in a single legion.

How this poor man must have suffered through the years, day after day. It’s horrible.

Because they knew the power of Jesus, they begged Him not to send them to the abyss, where they are eventually doomed in defeat (verse 31).

Their destiny is ultimately under our Lord’s control at all times. Note that they had to ask His permission not to go into the abyss.

On the hillside, a herd of swine were feeding, so the demons begged — yes, begged — His permission to enter them; Jesus granted them permission (verse 32).

MacArthur says:

they didn’t want Him to send them, verse 31, to the abyss, to the abussos, the bottomless pit. It’s called the bottomless pit in the book of Revelation, you read about it in chapter 9, chapter 11, chapter 17. “Don’t send us into the abyss.” That is the present place of demon incarceration. As many demons as there are in the world, thankfully by the goodness of God, His providential common grace, not all the demons that exist are running loose in the world. In fact, 2 Peter 2:4 and Jude 6 and 7, both those places tell us that the demons that possess the people described in Genesis 6 were at that time put in everlasting chains and sent to that bottomless pit from which they will never be released. So there are eternally, or permanently bound demons, ultimately in the end they will all go to the final incarceration in the lake of fire. But there are today bound demons who are bound permanently. Also in this abussos, this bottomless pit there are some demons bound temporarily because in the ninth chapter of Revelation we find in the time of the Great Tribulation to come, God’s going to open up that bit and belching out of that pit are going to come forth some demons to add to the demon force that runs amuck on the earth during the time of the Great Tribulation when Satan has his final heyday under Antichrist. But there is a place where many of the demons are currently incarcerated so that their power is in some way limited in the world. These demons say, “We don’t want to go there before the time. Don’t send us there yet, we want our freedom. Please don’t send us there.”

Henry’s commentary raises an interesting point about the herd owners’ loss of an occupation:

When the devil at first brought man into a miserable state he brought a curse likewise upon the whole creation, and that became subject to enmity. And here, as an instance of that extensive enmity of his, when he could not destroy the man, he would destroy the swine. If he could not hurt them in their bodies, he would hurt them in their goods, which sometimes prove a great temptation to men to draw them from Christ, as here. Christ suffered them to enter into the swine, to convince the country what mischief the devil could do in it, if he should suffer him.

Therefore, this was a demonstration that the demons affected not only the poor man, but others in that town, who probably were a bit sanctimonious about themselves with regard to his plight.

The demons left the man and entered the swine, then the whole herd rushed down the steep bank into the lake, where they all drowned (verse 33).

Henry says:

No sooner had the devils leave than they entered into the swine; and no sooner had they entered into them than the herd ran violently down a steep place into the lake, and were drowned. For it is a miracle of mercy if those whom Satan possesses are not brought to destruction and perdition.

When the swineherds saw what had happened, they ran into the city and adjoining countryside to tell everyone (verse 34).

It was an extraordinary event, as MacArthur explains:

Two thousand pigs careening down a hill, drowning? By the way, from what I’ve read, pigs can swim. But the point was, the demons slaughtered them all. Why? Well, first of all, to show that the man had been delivered, visual, physical proof. Secondly, to reveal the deadly intent of demons to kill. Also, as I said, to reveal the power of Jesus over the kingdom of darkness. That was a tremendous and dramatic illustration that this man had been delivered because the pigs acted in the kind of frenzy and self-destruction that characterized the man. They became maniac pigs. The testimony is convincing. This man definitely had demons. They’re gone because the pigs are behaving like the man did.

And that’s what people concluded. Verse 34, “When the herdsmen saw what had happened, they ran away and reported in the city and out in the country.” They were eyewitnesses. Whoever was working for the owner of the pigs, these men who were taking care of 2,000 pigs, they saw what happened, they reported it in the city and out in the country. The bottom line is it’s another way to say they couldn’t stop talking about it. Everywhere they went they...I mean, they had never seen anything like this in their entire lives, they were probably experienced with pigs and pigs don’t just uniformly all at once dive off a cliff and kill themselves. The most powerful, startling, amazing event of their lives by far and they spread it everywhere. They can’t stop talking about it, everywhere they went they said, “It…it’s inexplicable.” They heard the conversation between Jesus and the man, at least they saw the conversation going on because it says the pigs were nearby. They knew about this man, if they herded pigs in that area they knew about that man, they knew about the maniacal character of that man. And all of a sudden this thing takes place and it’s just the most amazing thing ever. And so they become heralds, as it were, telling everybody about it.

Naturally, people began coming to the site where this had happened, and they saw Jesus, with the now fully restored man, also fully clothed, sitting at His feet; they were afraid (verse 35).

MacArthur brings us back to the terror that people felt when Jesus performed other miracles and calmed storms. They instinctively knew that they were in the presence of the Most High God, and they were ashamed of their own weaknesses, especially their sins:

Well the reaction at the end of verse 35, “They became frightened,” from the word phobeo from which we get phobia. They were terrified is basically what it was. Here again we see the same thing. We see it all the way through the gospel of Luke, people who realize they’re in the presence of the power of God are scared, frightened, traumatized, terrified. And it is so throughout particularly this chapter, back in verse 25 when Jesus stilled the storm, stopped the wind and the waves. It says they were fearful, they were frightened there, they were panicked there. We see it throughout the rest of the chapter as we will note later that people are literally terrified every time Jesus does a miracle, whether it’s a healing or the raising of a dead person, it creates a certain amount of terror in people because they know they’re in the presence of the power of God and that is a holy presence and they are sinful people.

That leads us then to the third power demonstrated here, the damning power of sin…the damning power of sin. The demons exert a power, the Lord Jesus brings His great delivering power, but we also see the terrible damning power of sin. It is the nature of sin to blind. It is the nature of sin to hate the truth. It is the nature of sin to reject proof. It is the nature of sin to resist righteousness. It is the nature of sin to cling tightly to the love of iniquity. Here you have irrefutable evidence that Jesus is the power of God. Here you have a miracle that is so massive that demonstrates not His power over the physical realm, but His power over the supernatural realm, His power over the spiritual world, His power over the forces of evil, to deliver men from evil. You see this without any argument, without any debate. They don’t discuss it. They don’t debate it. They know what has happened. It terrifies them.

Those who had seen the miracle told these people how Jesus had healed the man (verse 36).

Interestingly, instead of thanking Jesus for restoring local peace at long last and inviting Him to stay, they all told Him to leave; they were that frightened. So, He went into the boat and left (verse 37).

Henry makes this observation:

Those lose their Saviour, and their hopes in him, that love their swine better.

They displayed the same spiritual blindness as did the Jewish hierarchy.

MacArthur expands on their extraordinarily negative response:

instead of saying “thank you,” and “how do we get delivered?” you notice verse 36, “Those who had seen it reported to them how the man who was demon possessed had been made well.” This is an interesting verse. They want to know what happened…what happened…give us the details…how did this happen? They’re terrified of Jesus, what’s going on here? And so those who had seen it told them the full story of how the man who was demon possessed had been made well, esothe(?), from sozo, had been saved…sozo-to be saved. How the man had been delivered. And they gave them the full story, details of which aren’t given to us. I’m sure they said, “Well, you won’t believe how it happened. The guy came down the hill and…” And they, they must have been, as I said earlier, close enough to see the engagement and the encounter and to even hear what went on. The man had been delivered, not just from Satan, but I believe he’d been delivered from sin, or at least he was, when those people heard the discussion, beginning to awaken to the forgiveness and the salvation that Jesus had offered which I believe became completed, and I’ll show you why in a moment.

You know, you think sinners would really be convinced if you just had a powerful enough miracle. No, no, you don’t understand the power of sin. You know, if you could just figure a clever enough way to pronounce the gospel, if you could just figure an attractive enough way to present Jesus Christ, if you could just get a powerful enough exhibit of the life of Jesus Christ and His miracle might, boy, people would really be convinced. No…no, the damning power of sin just obliterates reality. The idea that sinners will be convinced by a powerful miracle…a powerful miracle isn’t true.

Well what did the Jews do? They saw miracle after miracle after miracle after miracle after miracle for three years. And at the end of that time what did they do? They wanted Him dead. The Gentiles weren’t any different. I can’t imagine a more powerful, clear example of the saving power of Jesus Christ than this. I can’t imagine a more dramatic event than sending thousands of demons out of a man with a word. And the proof of it in the drowning of this herd of pigs. I…rationally you’ve got to fall down and say, “This is the power of God.” But the truth of the matter is, this is hard soil back from Jesus’ story in the eighth chapter verses 5 and 12, hard soil, the seed of the truth falls just like falling on concrete, it doesn’t penetrate.

What was their reaction? Verse 37, “All the people,” apparently without exception, “All the people of the country of the Gerasenes and the surrounding district, everybody.” Apparently you’ve got a big crowd out there. “All of them asked Him to depart from them. Go away.”

Why? “For they were gripped with phobe, you know, fear megala, great fear, massive fear. What were they terrified of? After all, hadn’t He brought safety where there was danger? Hadn’t He brought peace where there was chaos? What was to be afraid of? What was to be afraid of was they knew they were in the presence of God? They knew they were seeing the great power of God and they knew it was a holy power, a purging, purifying, cleansing power that dispensed with evil and they therefore knew that they were exposed to sinners. And loving their evil so much they wanted to get rid of the intimidation. Even Peter had that reaction when Jesus commanded the fish to come to his boat and he said in Luke 5:8, “Depart from me, O Lord, for I am a…what?…sinful man.” It’s the intimidation of holiness in the presence of sin that causes them to want Jesus to go away. Instead of saying, “Thank You, thank You for delivering us, could You go up and get his friend up there, that other guy and do to him what You’ve done to this man? And could You tell us how we can be delivered from whatever satanic influences exist in our lives? And could You tell us how we can be forgiven of our sin? And could You tell us how this holy power could come upon us?”

They don’t say that. There’s not a word of thanks for the deliverance from the danger of the man. They see Jesus as a greater danger than that man. They would rather have a maniac than the Son of God. They would rather be terrified by Satan than terrified by God. They would rather endure the presence of demonic danger than the presence of divine deliverance. They preferred the unholy to the holy. They preferred a tomb dweller over the Lord of life. Just like Israel. They were not asking Jesus to go away because He messed with their economy, killing their pigs. They weren’t asking Him to go away because they were materialists and not spiritualists and they were mad at Him for what He had done. The whole town and the whole region wanted Him to go away because they were terrified of His holiness. You know, the world is really comfortable with pigs and maniacs, but it’s not comfortable with Jesus Christ, is it? Not the Son of God. David Gooding writes, “What a sad comment on man’s fallen and unregenerate state it is that man should feel more at home with demons than with the Christ who has the power to cast them out. Who would try to help a criminal or a drunkard, or if they should prove incorrigible would want the one imprisoned and the other put into a hospital find it embarrassing and somewhat frightening if that criminal or drunkard is saved by Christ and turned into a wholesome regenerate disciple.” That’s really true…it’s really true. They would rather have a maniac than a Christian. They would rather have the presence of Satan than the presence of Christ. This is the blindness and the damning darkness and ignorance of sin.

And so, sad note, it says verse 37, “He got into a boat and returned.” He never came back, by the way. One time…one day…one occasion…they said, “Get out.” He got into a boat and went back to Capernaum. Was it an insult? Yes. It was more, it was a damning rejection and Jesus never ever came back.

Not surprisingly, the man who had been healed begged Jesus to allow him to be a disciple, but Jesus sent him away, saying (verse 38) that he should return to his home and declare how much God has done for him. Obediently, the man went away, proclaiming to the city just how much Jesus had done for him (verse 39).

Henry says that it is possible that the man’s words might have gained traction once the Gerasenes recovered from what had happened:

Perhaps Christ knew that, when the resentment of the loss of their swine was a little over, they would be better disposed to consider the miracle, and therefore left the man among them to be a standing monument, and a monitor to them of it.

MacArthur says that Jesus told the man to stay because he would be the only witness in that place:

He’s the first Gentile missionary…the maniac who became a missionary. And as I said, if he knew enough to be saved, he knew enough to tell somebody else. And if that man had left with Jesus, there would have been no witness in that place. Here was grace in the face of rejection. Jesus sent him back to his own people and He said to him, “Describe what great things God has done for you, and he went away proclaiming throughout the whole city what great things Jesus had done for him.” How interesting. You tell them what God has done, he told them what Jesus had done because Jesus is God. He became a witness. When I get to heaven I want to ask him how successful he was, how fruitful. He went proclaiming throughout the whole city, kerusso, preaching throughout the whole city. This is personal evangelism, the story of what the Lord had done. Mark 5:20 says, “Everyone was amazed…amazed.”

Well that’s what Jesus does. He turns maniacs into missionaries. It shows us the power of the demons, the power of the delivering Lord, and the damning power of sin. What a story. 

Perhaps we, too, are the only witnesses where we live:

If you have been delivered, you too are a missionary, amen? Tell the story.

I always wonder what sort of sermon I will hear when this Gospel passage is read. Perhaps you do, too.

I hope we will not be disappointed on Sunday morning.

Trinity Sunday is on June 12, 2022.

The readings for Year C — and other resources — can be found here.

The exegesis for the Gospel reading, John 16:12-15, can be found here.

The Epistle is as follows (emphases mine):

Romans 5:1-5

5:1 Therefore, since we are justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ,

5:2 through whom we have obtained access to this grace in which we stand; and we boast in our hope of sharing the glory of God.

5:3 And not only that, but we also boast in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance,

5:4 and endurance produces character, and character produces hope,

5:5 and hope does not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us.

Commentary comes from Matthew Henry and John MacArthur.

In Romans 4, Paul discussed Abraham’s unswerving faith in believing everything that God promised him. He also obeyed, doing everything that God asked him to do. As such, God imputed righteousness to Abraham.

Two years ago, I wrote about Romans 4:6-12. The second half of Romans 4:9 reads:

For we say that faith was counted to Abraham as righteousness.

Matthew Henry’s commentary introduces Romans 5 as follows:

The apostle, having made good his point, and fully proved justification by faith, in this chapter proceeds in the explication, illustration, and application of that truth. I. He shows the fruits of justification, Romans 5:1-5

The precious benefits and privileges which flow from justification are such as should quicken us all to give diligence to make it sure to ourselves that we are justified, and then to take the comfort it renders to us, and to do the duty it calls for from us. The fruits of this tree of life are exceedingly precious.

Paul begins by saying that, since we are justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ (verse 1).

Let us look at the word ‘peace’ in the divine meaning of the word.

Twice in the past few weeks — on Pentecost Sunday and earlier on the Sixth Sunday of Easter — we have had two readings featuring John 14:27:

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not let them be afraid.

Through His crucifixion and resurrection, Jesus reconciled us to the Father, thereby bringing us divine, everlasting peace.

Henry says that we have this peace because Jesus has redeemed our sins:

We have peace with God,Romans 5:1; Romans 5:1. It is sin that breeds the quarrel between us and God, creates not only a strangeness, but an enmity; the holy righteous God cannot in honour be at peace with a sinner while he continues under the guilt of sin. Justification takes away the guilt, and so makes way for peace. And such are the benignity and good-will of God to man that, immediately upon the removing of that obstacle, the peace is made. By faith we lay hold of God’s arm and of his strength, and so are at peace, Isaiah 27:4; Isaiah 27:5. There is more in this peace than barely a cessation of enmity, there is friendship and loving-kindness, for God is either the worst enemy or the best friend. Abraham, being justified by faith, was called the friend of God (James 2:23), which was his honour, but not his peculiar honour: Christ has called his disciples friends, John 15:13-15. And surely a man needs no more to make him happy than to have God his friend! But this is through our Lord Jesus Christ–through him as the great peace-maker, the Mediator between God and man, that blessed Day’s-man that has laid his hand upon us both.

John MacArthur explains the strength of God’s anger with unbelievers:

God is at war with men whether they’re conscious of their own animosity toward Him or not. In fact, the background of this concept of peace is Romans l and 2. And that tells us about the wrath of God, doesn’t it? Romans l:l8: “The wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who hold the truth in unrighteousness.” You see, it’s God who’s at war with the ungodly and the unrighteous, and those who do not know Christ. In fact, God even says if you don’t embrace Jesus Christ you are anathema, you are cursed.

This is why Jesus issued the Great Commission (Matthew 28:16-20):

16 Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. 17 When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. 18 Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

Luke wrote another form of the Great Commission (Luke 24:47), which was read on Ascension Day, ten days before Pentecost:

repentance and forgiveness of sins is to be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem.

Paul says that through Jesus Christ we have obtained access to this divine grace in which we abide, and we boast — or rejoice — in our hope of sharing the glory of God (verse 2).

Jesus wants others to be brought to faith as well so that they, too, repent, realise that their sins are forgiven and come to know this same divine grace and hope of life eternal.

MacArthur elaborates further:

God is not on the side of sinners. God is not on the side of Christ rejecters. He is their enemy and He seeks their destruction

God was appeased, as it were, for all of His vengeance and all of His anger and all of His wrath, found its full fury on Christ on the cross, did it not? And we have peace with God. Boy, that is good to know. That’s my new status and it flows out of the reconciliation accomplished by the work of Jesus Christ. You see, in Christ our sin was penalized, as it were. In Christ there was the full payment and God was propitiated, God was satisfied. The price was paid. And that’s why it says in Colossians I, “Having made peace through the blood of His cross”

Now, so we introduce into the concept of justification the concept of reconciliation. And may I say for you who are thinking theology with me, justification and reconciliation are distinguishable as terms, but they are inseparable as reality because justification embraces reconciliation. That’s the message of chapter 5. Justification embraces sanctification, that’s the message of chapter 6 and chapter 7. Justification embraces glorification, that’s the message of chapter 8.

So that justification, although it can be distinguished in terms of just the words from these other things, is utterly inseparable from them in reality. And so when you embrace Jesus Christ by faith and are justified, inherent in that justification is not only glorification to come, sanctification immediately to begin its process, but reconciliation to God

And in II Corinthians 5 it says He not only reconciled us to God but He gave us the ministry of reconciliation and that is to go out and preach the gospel to others who need to be reconciled.

MacArthur then discusses the security we have in our justification and our salvation.

When I was a Catholic, we were told that certain religious observances — e.g. going to Confession, receiving Communion — put us in a state of grace but that, once we sinned, we fell out of that state of grace until the next time.

However, the New Testament tells us that is not true.

MacArthur explains that Jesus keeps us in that state of grace, even when we sin, as all of us do:

Now listen to this, very important. He not only reconciled us to God initially, but He maintains that reconciliation. And that is His high priestly work. You understand that? First John l says: “He keeps on cleansing us from all (What?) sin.” You see, the continual cleansing, the continual mediation, the continual washing of our sin provides for us the maintaining of that reconciliation. Do you see? So you have two tremendous truths that cannot really be perceived. On the one hand we are at peace with God forever because every sin we will ever commit was already borne by Christ. And so there is nothing to violate our reconciliation, for the sin for which we should be cast out was paid for and covered. And even in the daily walking through the world as we sin the Lord keeps on cleansing and keeps on cleansing so then we are maintained in reconciliation, not only by the past act of Christ on the cross, but by the present mediation of Christ at the right hand of God. His high priestly ministry says He ever lives to make what? Intercession for us. Isn’t that great? I’m at peace with God.

For how long? For as long as Jesus Christ lives. And how long does He live? Forever. He intercedes for us. When a person embraces Christ by faith the spotless Son of God makes that person one with God and he’s at peace.

Therefore, we rejoice — boast — of that wonderful state of being.

Both commentators put emphasis on the word ‘access’ in verse 2.

Henry says:

1. The saints’ happy state. It is a state of grace, God’s loving-kindness to us and our conformity to God; he that hath God’s love and God’s likeness is in a state of grace … Prosagogen eschekamenWe have had access. He speaks of those that have been already brought out of a state of nature into a state of grace … 2. Their happy standing in this state: wherein we stand. Not only wherein we are, but wherein we stand, a posture that denotes our discharge from guilt; we stand in the judgment (Psalms 1:5), not cast, as convicted criminals, but our dignity and honour secured, not thrown to the ground, as abjects. The phrase denotes also our progress; while we stand, we are going. We must not lie down, as if we had already attained, but stand as those that are pressing forward, stand as servants attending on Christ our master. The phrase denotes, further, our perseverance: we stand firmly and safely, upheld by the power of God; stand as soldiers stand, that keep their ground, not borne down by the power of the enemy. It denotes not only our admission to, but our confirmation in, the favour of God.

MacArthur says:

Circle that word in your Bible. “We have access by faith into this grace in which we stand.” Stop right there. The first link that secures us eternally to the Savior is peace with God. The second one is standing in grace, standing in grace. We aren’t moving in and out of grace. We’re what? Standing in it. We’re not coming and going through it. We’re standing in it, standing in grace and the… My feeble brain can’t touch the boundaries of this truth. It is so vast and so profound and every word is powerful. Start with “by whom.” By whom? Jesus Christ, everything is because of Him.

The key thought in the whole text is the mediation of Jesus Christ, through His marvelous mediation. By His death He brings us to God and to peace. And notice this, and it says:  “By whom also we have access by faith,” again. Now let me just stop on this word “access.”

That’s a monumental word. It’s a staggering word. It is a shocking word. It is an infinitely incomprehensible word. It is a word that is beyond the purview of a Jew to even conceive that anybody on earth could have access to God. Why?  Because everything a Jew had ever known all his life was that God is the utterly holy and unapproachable one. Didn’t he know that?  Didn’t he believe that? Throughout all their history that’s all they knew. And by the way, the word “access” here, this word is used three times. It is used here and it is used in Ephesians 2:18 and 3:12 and it always speaks of access to God. He’s given us access to God. And a Jew just never knew that.

Even the ancient Jewish priests could go into the Holy of Holies only on the Day of Atonement and only for a few seconds, because God told the Jews that those who approached Him would be struck dead. MacArthur’s sermon has all the relevant verses. And, yes, people did die.

However, with the death of Christ on the cross, that evening, the veil to the Holy of Holies at the temple in Jerusalem was rent asunder (Matthew 27:51).

Jesus, through His obedience to the Father, tore the veil, so that we may now approach His Father in confidence as His sons and daughters.

Now let’s look at ‘boasting’, or ‘rejoicing’ in some translations.

MacArthur tells us:

The third link, verse 2 again, ”We have access by faith into the grace in which we stand, and we rejoice,” or we exult, or actually we boast, we make our boast, “in hope of the glory of God.” The third link in our security is hope of glory.

We are secure because we have peace with God. We are secure because we stand in grace. And we are secure because we have been given the hope of glory. In other words, to put it another way, God has promised us future glory, right? He promised. Does God keep His promises? He is the God who cannot lie. And we will enter into that glory in the future

Now watch this, so He isn’t predestining the initiation, He is predestining the completion. Do you understand that? We are predestined not to start, but we are predestined to what? To finish. We are not predestined to be incomplete but predestined to be complete. And so, in verse 30: “Whom He did predestinate, them He also called.

And whom He called, them He also justified. And whom He justified them He also (What?) glorified.” There’s no loss, because if you’re predestined to begin, you’re predestined to end. If you’re predestined to start, you’re predestined to finish. If you’re predestined to be in Christ, you’re predestined to be like Christ. Isn’t that a marvelous truth? You see, that’s the securing reality of the hope of the believer. And the doctrine of security is based on the hope of glory.

Because we have that hope in the promise of glory in the future, we are able to boast — rejoice, exult — in our present sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance (verse 3), one of Paul’s favourite words, which would have resonated with his audience because of the ancient endurance races, some of which we see in the Olympics.

In other words, for the believer, earthly trials, as physically or psychologically painful as they are, will not be everlasting. We will be with God one day.

Henry says that our sufferings are refinements, as tests are on precious metals to purify them:

the patient sufferers have the greatest experience of the divine consolations, which abound as afflictions abound. It works an experience of ourselves. It is by tribulation that we make an experiment of our own sincerity, and therefore such tribulations are called trials. It works, dokimenan approbation, as he is approved that has passed the test. Thus Job’s tribulation wrought patience, and that patience produced an approbation, that still he holds fast his integrity, Job 2:3.

Paul goes on to say that endurance produces character, and character produces hope (verse 4).

Henry continues with the analogy of purifying precious metals:

He who, being thus tried, comes forth as gold, will thereby be encouraged to hope. This experiment, or approbation, is not so much the ground, as the evidence, of our hope, and a special friend to it.

A secular version of this is: whatever doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. It builds character.

MacArthur explains:

It would be much like we use the term sterling, sterling silver, or when we say about someone’s character, they’re a sterling character. We mean there’s no flaws, there’s no impurities. You see, the pressure takes all that out of us. Why? Because we learn to trust God in the trials, we learn to trust God in the stress, we learn to trust God in the pain. And tribulation is not a problem for us. For one thing it’s an honor to suffer for Christ, isn’t it? For another thing it is a joy to learn to experience His sustaining power in the middle of suffering. It increases our faith. It purges us. It sanctifies us. It washes us. It strengthens us. It’s like spiritual weight lifting. It builds our muscles. It raises our level of holiness. And so, we look at tribulation and we rejoice in that also. We’re not just saying, hey, pie in the sky, by and by, folks, we’re just hanging on for dear life till we can get to the glory land. We’re not moaning and groaning here with all of the struggle and hoping for that heaven; we’re even rejoicing right here because the process of trouble is building proven character, purging out the flaws, purging out the dross.

James talks about this, doesn’t he? “And blessed is a man that endures testing, for when he is tried he’ll receive a crown.”

It’s part of the purifying. Now listen, that’s James 1:12, the reason we enjoy the suffering, the reason we’re patiently enduring it, is because it’s building proven character and sterling character, and more flawless character. And the stronger we grow spiritually, the richer our hope becomes, the greater our rejoicing. Why? Because the greater the reward that awaits us there, the greater the joy to receive it and cast it at the feet of Jesus Christ. Great truth.

Back to the hope we have in God’s promises. Paul says that this hope does not disappoint us, because the Holy Spirit, which the Father gave us, pours His — the Father’s — love into our hearts (verse 5).

Instead of ‘disappoint’ some translations use ‘ashamed’, as in not being ashamed of this hope of divine promise.

Henry says:

Sense of God’s love to us will make us not ashamed, either of our hope in him or our sufferings for him.

MacArthur concludes:

And here’s the wrap-up on hope. “Hope makes not (What?) ashamed.” What it really means is hope is never disappointed. You don’t have to be ashamed of God. And you say, ah, I put all my faith in that God, I put all my faith in that Jesus Christ and He deceived me, He never came through, and I lost everything and what a deceiver, I’m ashamed that I ever mentioned that name. No, you’ll never come to that point. Hope is not going to be ashamed, not when it’s put in Jesus Christ. Hope is never disappointed. It will never be ashamed. It will never be disappointed. Why? Because it will receive the promised anticipated glory; that’s what it’s saying.

Because we are at peace with God through Christ’s death on the cross, because we stand in grace, we have a promised future glory. And I don’t blush to say that’s my hope. I’m not ashamed to say to anybody on the face of the earth, I’m going to be in glory with Jesus Christ some day, radiating the eternal glory of God throughout the eternal Jerusalem. That’s my destiny. That’s where I’m going, and I’m not going to be ashamed, because hope in God, hope in the Lord Jesus Christ is never disappointing.

May everyone reading this have a blessed Trinity Sunday.

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