The Lord pursues what occupied Him at the close of the last chapter. He is laying bare before them the crisis that was now approaching for Israel. He was the Truth, manifesting the reality of things on earth - for instance, of the Jewish people in the sight of God underneath all religious forms. Nothing eluded Him, and He reveals all that was needful to man. It has not the high character of the truth in John as the revelation of what was in Himself, what God was as displayed in the Word made flesh; but it is equally necessary in its place. According to the general tone of Luke, there is moral dealing with men, and here with Israel.
"There were present352 some at that season who told him of the Galileans whose blood Pilate mingled with that of their sacrifices." The cruel and hard-hearted governor had dealt with excessive brutality and had shown his contempt of the Galileans. This furnished a subject for conversation: it was a judgment. They could more easily speak of it as it was a question of Galileans, whom the men of Jerusalem were apt to despise. But the Lord answers them, showing that the time for the kind of discriminative dealing which was in their minds has not really arrived. It will do in the millennium, but it had not and could not come while the Messiah was in humiliation, a Sufferer, sent to die by the same governor who so unworthily used those Galileans - yea, by those highest in Jerusalem whose sin was yet greater; sent, not to have His blood mingled with sacrifices, but to be Himself the Sacrifice for sinners, in the infinite grace of God to all, beginning with Jerusalem. "And he* answering said to them, Think ye that these Galileans were sinners beyond all the Galileans, because they suffered such things? No, I say to you, but, if ye repent not, ye shall all perish in like manner." The Lord makes it an appeal to their own conscience, and shows that *the light of Himself on earth reveals the deplorable state of all men Without exception, and, if there be a difference, the exceeding guilt of the Jew in particular. They should all perish except they repented.352a
*He": so Edd. after BLT, Amiat. ADE, etc., 1, 33, 69, Syrr. have "Jesus."
He does not here speak of believing, though no doubt it is implied and goes along with faith; but repenting brings in the thought of their sin and their want of all right moral judgment of it. On this He insists, but He does more: He brings forward a case calculated to arrest and search their consciences. They had spoken of Galileans; He reminds them of some nearer home in like case - men of Jerusalem, eighteen of whom had some time ago perished from a tower in Siloam that fell upon them. The Lord accordingly asks them, "Or those eighteen on whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them, think ye that they* were debtors beyond all the men† who dwell in Jerusalem? No, I say to you: but, if ye repent not, ye shall all perish in like manner." It is not so grave before God, nor so near to man's danger or best interests that a special disaster had occurred to Galileans, or to men of Jerusalem. What Jesus shows is the inevitable ruin of all who do not repent. This is characteristic of Christianity. It is the most separative of all things. It severs even out of Israel to God by the judgment of sin as it is and the knowledge of His grace; but at the same time it is the most comprehensive testimony possible. Not only does it go out to all nations to gather from them and put believers on equal privileges whether Jew or Gentile; but it is no less profound than universal, inasmuch as it shows both what God is towards every child of man, and what He is to none but His own children. Indeed, it is a revelation of God in Christ, both for the Church and in His connection with the Whole universe. He is the God and Father of all, "Who is above all and through all and in you all"; (Eph_4:6) though this will in no way hinder the destruction of all men who do not repent. Christ, come in humiliation to redeem from sin to God, alone reveals things as they are.
*"They" (αὐτοί so Edd. after AB, etc., 33, 69, Syrsin Amiat. EΓΔ etc., 1, Memph., have "these" (οὗτοι
†"The men": so Edd. after ABDL, etc., 69. E, etc., 33, omit.
Cf. Mat_21:19; Mar_11:13.
The Lord adds a parable also "A certain [man] had a fig-tree planted in his vineyard; and he came seeking fruit upon it, and did not find [any], and he said to the vine-dresser, Behold, [these] three years I come seeking fruit on this fig-tree and find none: cut it down: why doth it also render the ground useless? But he answering saith unto him, Sir, let it alone for this year also, until I shall dig about it, and put dung: and if it shall bear fruit,-, but, if not, after that thou shalt cut it down."* This manifests, on a still larger scale, a similar truth; it adds the grounds on which they were so peculiarly responsible. The fig-tree was planted in his vineyard and he came and sought fruit on it and found none, and he said, "Cut it down: why doth it also render the ground useless?" So far from security, nothing could be more critical than the condition of Israel now. It was not for them to be coolly speculating about Galileans and forgetting men of Jerusalem; for the thought's of men are always partial and self-deceptive. The Lord, then, does not merely bring in counter-facts, but shows in a parabolic form their moral history and what was impending from God. It was only through His intervention and intercession that God was willing to bear with Israel. "Behold [these] three years I come seeking fruit on this fig-tree and find none." There was the most ample testimony rendered - more than enough - these three years. 353 "Cut it down: why doth it also render the ground useless? And he answering saith unto him, Sir, let it alone for this year also, until I shall dig about it, and put dung: 354 and if it shall bear fruit,-, and if not, after that "thou shalt cut it down." This was what awaited Israel. The Lord was giving them a last opportunity, as far as His ministry was concerned. We know well that, whatever His pains, whatever the means used, all was vain for the time and that generation. They did not bear fruit; they rejected Himself. "After that thou shalt cut it down." And so it was. Israel has disappeared from its place of testimony: the fig-tree, the emblem of their national existence, is cut down, and withered away. Not that God cannot renew them on a different principle. Grace will interfere and bring in this Messiah for the generation to come; but their national position under the law, even in the feeble condition of a remnant from Babylon, is completely blotted out from their land.. The fig-tree is cut down; so the Lord told them it would be, and so it is.
*Such is the order of words in AD and later uncials, most cursives, Old Lat. Syrr.; but Edd. (as Revv.) read "and if it bear fruit after that (thenceforth)..." as it is in BL, 33, 69, Sah. Memph., etc. Syrsin has "next year thou shalt cut it down."
Although the Lord showed the impending fate of the Jews because of their uselessly cumbering the ground, He did not the less teach in their synagogues on the Sabbath day. It was still the term of patience; and further, grace was in no way hindered from acting individually. "And lo, [there was]* a woman, having a spirit of infirmity eighteen years, and was bent together, and wholly356 unable to lift her head up." She did not seek the gracious power of Jesus, but when He saw her, "he called to [her], and said to her, Woman, thou art loosed from thine infirmity." Not satisfied with this, He laid His hands upon her. There was far more grace in acting thus than in simply curing her by a word. He could have done the one as easily as the other.
*["There was"]: so AE, etc., 1, 69, Syrrcu pesch sin; but Edd. omit, as BL, etc., 33 Old Lat. Memph.
But grace, though it tenderly stoops to the wretched, does not accommodate itself to the obstinate unbelief of men, more particularly of men who make a show of their religion but who have nothing real in the sight of God. Christ cured her on the Sabbath and in face of the congregation, knowing it would provoke the enmity of the ruler of the synagogue. There is no use in striving to keep fair terms with men who profess to be friends, but are really the enemies, of God. "And immediately she was made straight and glorified God.357 But the ruler of the synagogue answered with indignation, because that Jesus had healed on the sabbath day." Now had he for a moment reflected, he would have seen the folly and wickedness of his affectedly pious indignation; he would have seen that he was fighting against God. But passion in religious matters never reflects; and, being wholly apart from true faith, it is apt to be governed by present interests. So this man, little suspecting that he was carrying on war with God to his own eternal ruin, turns to the people with the words, There are six days in which [people] ought to work; in these* therefore come and be healed and not on the sabbath day." Vain and wicked man, that presumed to lay down the law to God! He was far from keeping the law himself, yet ventured to give law to Him who was not more truly man than God. God is not to work on His own Sabbath day! But as the Lord told the Jews in the Gospel of John, it is a folly to suppose that God, in the presence of such a world, of man and Israel as they are, is keeping the Sabbath. Morally speaking, He could not do so. His love would not permit Him to rest when the earth and human kind are full of sin, wickedness, and misery. Accordingly grace led both the Father and the Son to work for poor guilty man: "My Father workmen hitherto and I work." (Joh_5:17.) The Jews might be keeping their Sabbaths in pride; but God was working for man! Alas! the world has as little sense of the holiness as of the love of God; and so the Lord here answers the ruler with stern rebuke: "Hypocrite,† doth not each one of you on the sabbath loose his ox or his ass from the manger and leading [it] away, water [it]?" He does not take His text from the Father, as in the Gospel of John, but from men's own acknowledged ways, what even natural conscience feels to be right, what no legalism can blot out from the heart of man. Luke is the great moralist of the Gospels. It would be cruel towards the poor brute to withhold its necessary provender or drink because of the Sabbath day; and if it would be a mistake of God's mind so to treat one's ox or ass to keep it from what is necessary to its refreshment in natural life, how much more was it not worthy of God to relieve in grace a victim of Satan's power! "And this [woman] who is a daughter of Abraham, whom Satan hath bound, lo [these] eighteen years, ought she not to be loosed from this bond on the sabbath day?" He puts it on the double ground of relationship to Abraham, God's friend, and of subjection to the insulting power of the enemy. A daughter of Abraham, she ought surely to have in their eyes an additional claim, and no less because Satan had bound her for so long a time.358 It was plain therefore that the ruler, under the pretence of high respect for God's institutions, was in truth a satellite of Satan. If true-hearted, he would have rejoiced at the expulsion of that spirit of infirmity by which the woman had been so long bound. The people felt the truth of what Jesus said as well as the grace of His deed. "And as he said these things, all who were opposed to him were ashamed, and all the crowd rejoiced at all the glorious things which were being done by him." Even the open opposers, if not won, were ashamed; but all the people rejoiced, for they at least had a sense of their need and were more free to acknowledge what was good and true. There may not have been power, and there is not without faith, to receive the truth in the love of it (for the heart is alienated from God); but they hailed with joy the Divine power that rescued the miserable. Where there is Divinely given faith, I doubt that the first action of the Spirit of God is joy. The entrance of the Word gives light, and discovers what is within of sin, and guilt, and ruin. But, even without being converted, people who have no particular animosity against the truth presented in Christ and who feel the value of light nowhere else to be seen, may well rejoice. They are not broken down in the sense of their own evil, they are not brought to God, but they rejoice in what is come to men, owning the evident and excellent hand of God, and feeling the difference between Christ, however little seen, and the parchment divinity of the ruler of a synagogue. "All the crowd rejoiced at all the glorious things which were being done by him."
*"These": so D, etc., Latt. Syrr.; but Edd. adopt "them,"' according to ABL, 1, 69.
†"Hypocrites": so most Edd. with ABEL, etc., later uncials, numerous cursives (69), Old Lat. Amiat., Sah. Memph. Blass upholds T.R., "thou hypocrite," which is in DVX, many cursives (1), and Syrr. So all English versions before R.V.
Then the Lord is brought in by our Evangelist, as comparing the kingdom of God to "a grain of mustard [seed] which a man took and cast into his garden." 359 The kingdom of God was not yet coming in that power and glory in which all adversaries should be destroyed. The essential feature of it, evident to every eye which beheld Christ as its actual witness, was the power of God in lowliness displayed in His own humiliation; it was in no way a king governing with external majesty, but a man who takes a grain of mustard seed, a very little germ indeed, and casts it into his garden, where it grows and waxes a great* tree, so that the fowls of the air lodge in its branches. The Lord has before His eye the rising up of a vast worldly power which Christendom should become from the very little beginning planted by Himself then present. Such is the first view that is here given by our Lord. People were premature in rejoicing for all the glorious things that were done by Him, if they counted on a mighty deliverance and kingdom just yet. This would be the result in due time at His coming again, and man would try to found it on what He had already done. No doubt there would be deeper things underneath; but He speaks now of what would be before all the people, before men's eyes. It is Christendom commencing as a little seed in the world and becoming such a power that even the very adversaries themselves should find grateful shelter there. But it is not yet the time for the kingdom of God to come in power and glory. There is Divine power dealing by the Spirit with individual souls, but not at all in the direct public government of the world. Christianity would grow into an outward system of power, but not such as to expel scandals and those who practise lawlessness. Far different is the state of things now. Christendom is become a worldly system, just as much as Mahomedanism or Judaism. It is become an active worldly power in the centre of civilisation, and not a few among those of chief influence in nominal Christianity are the enemies of God and His truth.
*"Great": so A and later uncials, most cursives, Syrpesch Memph. Aeth., but Edd. reject, following BDLT, Syrrcu hier Arm.
But, besides the outward power, our Lord compares the kingdom to "leaven which a woman took and hid in three measures of meal until the whole was leavened." The man is the figure of the agent in what is done publicly, the woman of the resulting condition of what is done hiddenly. Hence Babylon is compared to the woman in Revelation. There is the spread of doctrine, of creed, of a mere verbal confession which does not suppose faith. It is not only that there is that which, rising from the least beginning, becomes a great and towering power in the earth; but there is also a doctrinal system spread over a defined space (Christendom) which affects men's minds and feelings. This is compared to leaven, and leaven in Scripture is never the symbol of what is good. The leaven of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees was their doctrine, which differed in each, but was far from good.
Here the leaven was hid in the three measures of meal till the whole was leavened. It does not mean all the world becoming Christian - a vain and groundless inference, opposed to many plain Scriptures which treat of this subject expressly. There is a very small part of the world even nominally Christian; a very much larger part consists of Buddhism, Mahomedanism, and of heathenism. We hear of "three measures," a certain definite space of the world which God has permitted to be influenced by nominally Christian doctrine - a witness even more than enough.
Thus the spread of Christendom, as a political power, is set forth by the tree, and the spread of the doctrine of Christian dogma is shown by the leavening of these three measures. Both these things have taken place, and there is nothing in either to hinder the coming of the Lord on the plea that these Scriptures have not been fulfilled. Christendom has long become a great power in the earth, and has spread its doctrine within extensive limits. What sort of doctrine it is, and what sort of power, Scripture elsewhere at least does not leave doubtful; but the object here is not so much to show the character of its power or the quality of its doctrine, as to imply the height of pride to which it would grow, and its prevalence over a defined space. The fact is, that from a little beginning it becomes great in the earth, and is also accompanied by a certain spread of doctrine over a limited area. There is no trace whatever in these parables of the coming millennium, or reign of righteousness, where evil is put down. It is rather this age where evil insinuates itself and reaches the highest places under the protection of Christendom along with the spread of a mere creed without life or the power of the Spirit. How truly both have been and are before all eyes!360
Those who had the chief place and power in Israel the Lord had convicted, under pretence of jealousy for law, of utter hypocrisy and hatred of grace even to the seed of Abraham. Under the parables of the mustard seed and the leaven, He had shown what would be the outward form of the kingdom during His rejection. But this does not hinder His going on for the present with His labour of love: "He went through one city and 'village after another, teaching, and journeying to Jerusalem." He knew right well what was to befall Him there, as indeed is expressly stated at the end of this chapter. One now says to Him, "Sir, are such as are to be saved361 few in number?" Are those that shall be saved (the remnant and those destined to salvation) few? The Lord does not gratify such curiosity, but at once speaks to the conscience of him who inquired: Take care that you stand right with God. "Strive with earnestness to enter in through the narrow door,* for many, I say unto you, will endeavour to enter in and will not be able." (Cf. Mat_7:13f.) It is not, as is sometimes thought, so much a question between "seeking" and "striving." 362 This would throw the stress upon man, and the difference of his state; though it is true that conversion means a mighty change, and that where the Spirit of God works in grace there must needs be a real earnestness of purpose given. But the true point is that people must "strive to enter in through the strait gate." The strait gate means conversion to God through faith and repentance. It is a person who is not content with being an Israelite, but feels the need of being born again, and so looks to God, who uses the Lord Jesus as the Way. This is to "strive to enter in through the narrow door." "There are many," He says, "who will endeavour to enter in and will not be able," This does not mean that they would seek to enter in by the narrow door; for, if they did so, it would be all right. But they seek to get the blessing of the Kingdom without being born of God; they would like to have all the privileges promised to Israel without being born of water and of the Spirit. This is impossible: "Many will endeavour to enter in, and will not be able." For if they enter, it must be through the narrow door of being born anew.
*"Door": so Edd. after BDL, 1, Arm.; whilst AE and later uncials 33, 69, have "gate."
"From the time that the master of the house shall have risen up, and shall have shut the door, and ye shall begin to stand without and to knock at the door, saying, Lord,* open to us; and he answering shall say unto you, I know you† not whence ye are." (Cf. Mat_25:11f.) The Lord takes this position outside them through His rejection; they rejected Him and He has no alternative but for the time to reject them, unless God would be a party to the dishonour of His own Son. But whatever be His grace (and He will be most gracious), God shows His complacency in Christ and His resentment at those who, though taking the highest ground of their own merits, proved their unrighteousness, and unbelief, and rebellion against God when He displayed Himself in love and goodness in the Lord Jesus.
*"Lord" (once): so Edd. after BL, Amiat., Memph. ADE, etc., 1, 33, 69, most Syrr. repeat "Lord" (from Matthew). Syrsin has "our Lord."
†"You": so AΔ Syrsin; but Edd. omit, after BLRT and cursives. Blass reads "you," but omits "whence ye are," as D.
"From the time that the master of the house shall have risen up, and shall have shut the door" - it would be quite unavailing for the Jews to plead that Jesus had come into their midst, that the Messiah had been in their streets, that "they had eaten and drunk in his presence," and He "had taught in their streets." (Cf. Mat_7:22f.) This was what most evidenced their guilt. He had been there, and they would not have Him. He had taught in their streets, but they had despised and rejected Him even more than the Gentiles. They had insisted upon His crucifixion when the most hard-hearted of Gentile governors had wished His acquittal.
It is always so. Religious privilege, when misused and abandoned, leaves those who enjoy it worse than before, worse than those who have never enjoyed it. Messiah therefore shall say to them, "I tell you, I do not know you whence ye are; depart from me, all [ye] workers of iniquity." 363 God could not have mere forms: there must be what suits His nature. This is invariably proved true, when the light of God shines. The Gospel does not mean that God now sanctions what is contrary to Himself. Even in remitting sin through faith He meets what is opposed to Himself, but produces what is according to Himself by His own grace. But He always holds to His own principle, that it is those who "by patient continuance in well-doing seek for glory, and honour, and incorruptibility," that have eternal life, and none others. (Rom_2:7.) Those "who by patient continuance in well-doing" please Him are to be with Him, and none but they. How this patient continuance in well-doing is produced is another matter, and how souls are awakened to seek after it. Certainly it is not from themselves, but from God. Conversion essentially consists in distrust of self and turning to God. This the Jews had not, and, in spite of all their high pretensions to religion, they were only workers of iniquity. (Cf. Mat_8:11f.) "There" - not among the heathen - "shall be the weeping and the gnashing of teeth, when ye shall see Abraham, and Isaac and Jacob, and all the prophets in the kingdom of God, but yourselves cast out." But this is not all - the picture would not be complete if they did not see others brought in too. It is not only the Jews shut out from their fathers when the time of glory comes; but others "shall come from east and west, and from north and south" - that is, the widest ingathering of the Gentiles - "and shall lie down at table in the kingdom of God."364 Thus it was manifest that "there are last which shall be first." Such were the Gentiles; they were called by grace to be first. And "there are first which shall be last." Such were the Jews. They had held the earliest and chief place in the calling of God; but they renounced it for self-righteousness and rejected their Messiah accordingly. The Gentiles would now hear, when the natural children, we may say, of the Kingdom should be thrust out. Grace would conquer where flesh and law had utterly failed, reaping woe to themselves as much as dishonouring God.
Scripture is very careful to press the respect and obedience which are due to authority, but it is not a Christian's work to occupy himself with settling questions of the earth. He has nothing to do with the ways and means whereby kings or other governors have reached their place of authority. There may have been wars, and revolutions, and all sorts of questionable means for them to arrive at such exaltation. What he has to do is to obey, as a matter of fact, those who are in authority. "Let every soul be subject unto higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God." (Rom_13:1.) Scripture does not demand obedience to the powers that ought to be, but to "the powers that be." No doubt this may expose to danger where a revolutionary leader usurps authority for a season; but God will care for results, and the duty of the Christian remains simple and sure. He obeys the powers that be. Notwithstanding, all obedience in man has its limits. There are cases where the Christian is bound, I do not say to be disobedient, still less to set up his own authority (which is never his duty), but "to obey God rather than men." (Act_5:29.) Where earthly authority demands sin against God, for instance where a Government interferes with and forbids the stewardship of the believer in proclaiming the name of Christ, it is evident that it is a question of a lower authority setting aside the highest. Consequently the principle of obedience to which the Christian is bound forbids his being swayed by what is of man to abandon what he knows to be the will of God.
Take, again, a peremptory call on a Christian to fight the battles of his country. If he knows his calling, can he join Christ's name with such unholy strife? If right for one side, it is right for another, or the Christian becomes a judge instead of a pilgrim, and the name of the Lord would be thus compromised by brethren on opposite sides, each bound to imbrue their hands in one another's blood, each instruments of hurrying to perdition souls ripening in sins. Is this of Christ? Is it of grace? It may suit the flesh and the world; but it is in vain to plead the Word of God to justify a Christian's finding himself engaged in such work. Will any one dare to call human butchery, at the command of the powers that be, Christ's service? The true reason, why people fail to see here is, either a fleshly mind or an unworthy shrinking from the consequences. They prefer to kill another to please the world, rather than to be killed themselves to please Christ. But they should not ask or expect Christian sympathy with their unbelief or worldly-mindedness. To sympathise, with such is to share their failure in testimony to Christ. To deplore the thing while doing it does not mend matters, but is rather an unwitting testimony of our own lips against our own ways.
In short, the Divine rule is what our Lord Himself laid down with admirable wisdom and perfect truth: "Render unto Caesar the things which be Caesar's, and unto God the things which be God's" (20: 25). This alone gives us the true standard of the path of Christ through a world of evil and snares. He Himself seems to act on the same principle here. "The same hour* certain Pharisees came up, saying to him, Get out and go hence, for Herod is desirous to kill thee." The Lord knew better. He knew that, bad as Herod might be, the Pharisees were no better, and that their profession of interest in caring for His person was hypocritical. Whether Herod had made use of this or not, He was not going to be influenced by any such suggestions, direct or indirect, from the enemy. He had His work to do for His Father. As the child, we have seen in this Gospel, He must he about His Father's business. It was not otherwise when the anxiety of His mother was expressed to Him at a later day before His public. work. So now the Lord said to the Pharisees, "Go, tell that fox."
*"The same hour": so Edd. following ABDLXΔ and some other later uncials, most cursives, Old Lat. Sah. Memph. Arm. Aeth. have "the same day."
There is no hiding the truth of things where there is an attempt at interference with the will of God. The cunning that wrought to hinder the Lord's testimony for God was vain. He saw through it all and did not scruple to speak plainly out: "Go, tell that fox, Behold, I cast out demons, and I do cures365 today and tomorrow, and the third day I shall be perfected." The Lord was then evidently the vessel of the power of God on earth. The gracious work which He was doing showed man's folly in seeking to hinder God. "Behold, I cast out demons." Not all the power or authority of the world could have done such deeds as these. This was paramount to every consideration: He was here to do the will of God and finish His work.
It was in vain therefore for Pharisees or Herod, under false pretensions, to draw Him aside and thus interrupt the execution of His task. He was obeying God rather than men. He came to do the will of Him who sent Him, and at all cost this must be done. "I accomplish cures today and tomorrow, and the third [day] I am perfected." The work was in hand and assuredly should be done. The Lord, having finished His course, entered into a new position for man through death and resurrection into heavenly glory. "But I must needs walk today, and tomorrow, and the [day] following." He knew better, too, than that any power of man would be permitted to stop Him till His work was completed. He knew beforehand and thoroughly that Jerusalem was the place where He must suffer, and that Pharisees were to play a far more important part in His suffering unto death than even Herod. Man does not know himself. Christ the Truth declares what he is, and shows that it was all known to Him. There is nothing like a single eye, even in man, to see clearly; and Christ was the true Light that made all things manifest.
"It must not be that a prophet perish out of Jerusalem." Their anxiety, therefore, was a mere pretence. The Lord has His work to do, and devotes Himself to it till it is done. From the beginning and all through He shows clearly as here that He knew where His rejection was. to be. We gather this clearly from a previous chapter, where we are told that He steadfastly set His face to go to Jerusalem, and this, too, when the time was come that He should be received up. He looked onward to His being perfected. He knew right well the pathway through which this lay: it was through death and resurrection. So here; it might be the perishing of the great prophet in Jerusalem, but it was the receiving up of the Lord of glory, now man, after accomplishing redemption, into that glory from which He came. The Lord, therefore, remains perfectly master of the position.
But there is more than this: He was free in His love. Not all the cunning of Herod, nor all the hypocrisy of the Pharisees could turn aside the grace that filled His heart - grace even to those who loved Him not. If His servant could say that, though the more abundantly he loved the less he was loved, (2Co_12:15) how much more fully true was it of the Master! The disciple was like his Master; but the Master was infinitely perfect. And so love fills His heart as now He utters these solemn words over Jerusalem, guilty of all the blood of the witnesses of God from Abel downwards. He has His own cross before Him; yet He says: "Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the [city] that killeth the prophets, and stoneth those that are sent unto her; how often would I have gathered thy children together as a hen her brood under her wings,366 and ye would not." (Cf. Mat_23:37-39.) He was then more than a prophet - the Lord Jehovah. He was one competent to gather; and He had a love that proved its Divine spring, source, and character by His willingness often to have gathered the children of Jerusalem together. He could have been their 'Shield and exceeding great Reward, but they would not. There is no blessing that the will of man cannot shut its eyes to and reject. Flesh can never see aright, because it is always selfish; it does not see God, and consequently misses all that is really good for itself. Man is most of all his own enemy when he is God's enemy; but of all enemies, which are so deadly as religious enemies - as those whose hearts are far from God, though they draw near with their lips and have the place of the highest religious privilege? Such was Jerusalem. They had had the prophets, but they killed them. They had had messengers sent from God to them unweariedly, but they stoned them. And now that He who was the great prophet, Messiah, Jehovah Himself, was in their midst in Divine love, what would they not do to Him! There was no death too ignominious for Him. "Behold, your house is left unto you."* It was their own ruin, when they thought and meant it to be His. But love rises over every hindrance. It is impossible that grace should be defeated in the end for its own purposes. And He adds: "I say unto you, that ye shall not see me [this was judgment, 'Ye shall not see me'], until it come that ye say, Blessed [is] he that cometh in the name of [the] LORD "this is grace. He comes in glory, but in the perfect display of that love which had suffered for them and from them and which will not fail in the end by this very suffering to ensure their eternal blessing.
*After "you," DXΔ etc., 33, Syrr. Aeth. add "desolate" (Syrsin "forsaken"). Edd. omit, after ABKL, etc., Amiat., 1, 69, Sah. Arm. See note 367 in Appendix.
NOTES ON THE THIRTEENTH CHAPTER.
351 Luk_13:1-9. - A notable passage, as bearing on sins of omission, for which cf. Mat_25:24-30.
352 Luk_13:1 ff. - "There were"; or, "There came," παρῆσαν (with the news, ἀπαγγέλλοντες so Alford, followed by Field, who cites Act_10:21. The critical German Bible (Weizsäcker's version) takes it in the same way.
352a Luk_13:3. - See Archbishop Leighton's Sermon on Repentance; also one of G. Whitefield from this verse. Repentance is essentially thorough change of heart and mind Godwards, and is closely connected with Renunciation earthwards (14: 33). For its relation to Faith, see Expositor's remarks in vol. on Mark, p. 65.
353 Luk_13:7. - The three years may represent completeness (Spence). Anyhow, it is the time required by the fig tree for maturity. See Spurgeon's Sermons, 650 and 1451; also one of Augustine (vol. i., p. 451).
354 Luk_13:8. - Euthymius and Theophylact, followed by Matthew Henry, regarded our Lord as being the vine-dresser. For the sequel to this, see Mat_24:32 f., when He comes again.
355 Luk_13:9. - "After that." The εἰς τὸ μέλλον Markland, followed by Field, would render "next year." The former cites Joseph. "Antiqq.," i. 11, 2. In 1Ti_6:19 the same phrase means "against the Millennium." μέλλειν is used in the New Testament constantly for the future in that connection, as in "the age to come."
For the rhetorical figure here (called aposiopegis), cf. Act_23:9, Rom_9:22-24. In the Old Testament cf. Exo_32:32, etc. (Plummer).
356 Luk_13:11. - "Wholly," εἰς τὸ παντελές Used only here and in Heb_7:25, and exhibiting one of the many similarities between the language of that Epistle and the Lucan vocabulary.
357 Luk_13:13. - Cf. Psa_145:14.
"Immediately": Maclaren happily remarks, "Where He is the physician, there is no period of convalescence" ("B. C. E.," p. 169). On "glorified God" the same writer says, "He did not substitute doing good to man for worshipping God" (as did Cotter Morison), ". . . but He showed us both in their true relations" (p. 167).
358 Luk_13:16. - "A daughter of Abraham." For "a son of Abraham," cf. 19: 9. For connection between physical disease and sin, see Mar_2:5-12, Joh_5:14, and Act_10:38. For "bound," cf. Psa_146:7, and Deissmann, op. cit., p. 88. See Spurgeon's Sermon, 2110.
359 Luk_13:18 f. - For Luke's κηπος Matthew has ἀγρός Mark γῆ Luke shares with Matthew ἐν τοῖς κλάδοις for which Mark has ὑπὸ τὴν σκιάν
360 Luk_13:20 f. (cf. Mat_13:33). - The mystery lies in the leaven being hidden.
There are three forms of leaven of which our Lord speaks: (1) the leaven of the Pharisees, - hypocrisy, or false worship, 12: 17; (2) that common to Pharisees and Sadducees, false doctrine, Mat_16:6; (3) the leaven common to Pharisees and Herodians, - false conduct, Mar_8:15.
To the reference to Aulus Gellius in Plummer, add that to Plutarch, in Rose's edition of Parkhurst's Greek-English Lexicon, under ζύμη for the circumstance that no Flamen Dialis, or priest of Jupiter among the Romans, was allowed to touch leaven. "Leaven," says that old biographer, "both arises from corruption and itself corrupts the mass with which it is mixed."
With verse 22 cf. Joh_10:22.
361 Luk_13:23. - For οἱ σωζόμενοι cf. Act_2:47. It was a recognized religious formula among the Jews (Carr. referring to 2 Esdr. viii. 1 and ix. 15 f.). As for the Canonical Books, the LXX. use it in Isa_37:32; Isa_45:20 (ἀπὸ τῶν ἐθνῶν In 10: 20 of the same prophet that version has σωθέντες in Jer_51:14, σεσωμένος (cf. Eph_2:8, and for the verbal form, Rom_10:9; Rom_10:13). See Westeott, "Some Lessons," p. 161 f., and Vaughan, "Sermons on the R.V.," p. 71, and especially a paper on "The Force of the Present Tense in Greek," one of "Occasional Papers on Scriptural Subjects," No. ii., p. 76 ff., by B. W. Newton (who took a distinguished degree at Oxford in 1828).
Professor Burton, in his "Syntax of the Moods and Tenses in New Testament Greek" (§ 125), rightly rejects "are (were) being saved" in passages in which forms of the present tense (as 1Co_15:2) or present participle (as Act_2:47) are used. Cf. the like usage of οἱ ἁγιαζόμενοι etc., in the Epistle to the Hebrews; and for the Apostle Paul's use of οἱ σωζόμενοι 1Co_1:18 and 2Co_2:15.
Godet takes it here of entrance into the Messianic kingdom. Cf. "We shall be saved from wrath, etc.," in Rom_5:9, referring to the apocalyptic judgments that are to fall upon the earth.
362 Luk_13:24. - "Strive with earnestness." Carr, "Keep on striving." Application of this to the Gospel of Grace is excluded by such passages as Joh_6:37 (cf. note 337). Maclaren: "The entrance gate is very low . . . it must be on our hands and knees that we go in" (B. C. E., p. 227).
There are sermons from verses 16-24 by Augustine, Luther, and G. Whitefield.
363 Luk_13:25-27. Cf. Mat_25:10-12.
364 Luk_13:28 f. - The Kingdom again in its future aspect, that of the "Kingdom of Heaven" (Mat_8:11). As to the "Messianic banquet" of Isaiah, see note on 22: 30.
365 Luk_13:32. - For "Herod that fox," see Whyte, "Bible Characters," No. LXXXVI. Neil: "The only purely contemptuous expression of Jesus recorded."
Observe again the distinction which this Evangelist makes between casting out demons and healing disease (see note 148): critics are loth to recognize it.
For "I am perfected," cf. Exo_29:9 (filling of priest's hands in consecration) and Hos_6:2. The word is elsewhere used of our Lord, in Heb_2:10, alone. It is strictly middle voice: "I bring my work to an accomplishment" (Carr). American marg. Or, I end my course." Cf. Paul's use of the word in Php_3:12.
366 Luk_13:34. - For the motherhood of GOD, see Deu_32:18, and cf., of course, Mat_23:37-39, where a lamentation over Jerusalem was uttered by the Lord in the city itself, similar to this placed in Galilee at an earlier time.
367 Luk_13:35. - The "desolate," Harnack wrote ("Sayings," p. 30), was not left out by Luke because (as Wellhausen on Mat_23:38 suggests) at the time he wrote the city had raised itself up again. But for his latest view as to this see note 2, ad fin. Moreover, he does not see why ἀφίεται should not be taken as prophetic future (so the Latin, etc.). The Expositor, however (see his Lecture on Matthew, p. 472), takes this word to mean in the light of "your" that "it was no longer His house, or His Father's, but theirs." Cf. "having a form of godliness," without the power (2Ti_3:5).