Charles Simeon Commentary - Luke 11:27 - 11:28

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Charles Simeon Commentary - Luke 11:27 - 11:28

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Luk_11:27-28. And it came to pass, as he spake these things, a certain woman of the company lifted up her voice, and said unto him, Blessed is the womb that bare thee, and the paps which thou hast sucked. But he said, Yea rather, blessed are they that hear the word of God, and keep it.

THE words of our Lord, though made the continual subject of cavil and dispute amongst his obstinate opposers, carried conviction to the hearts of all who candidly considered them: nor was the gentleness of his manners less impressive than the wisdom of his discourses. He had been just exposing the folly of imputing his miracles to a confederacy with Beelzebub: and to such a degree had his discourse wrought upon one of his audience, that she exclaimed out of the midst of the multitude, “Blessed is the womb that bare thee,” &c. This was the most natural language for a woman to use in expressing her admiration of him: and it furnished him with an occasion to declare before all, who, and who only, could with propriety be accounted blessed.

In his answer he sets before us,

I.       The character of the true Christian—

Numberless are the ways in which this is drawn in the Holy Scriptures. But there is a peculiar simplicity in the description before us, at the same time that it very sufficiently distinguishes the Christian from all others.

1.       “He hears the word of God”—

[Every true Christian considers the preaching of the Gospel as God’s instituted means of converting and edifying the souls of men. Instead therefore of making frivolous excuses for staying at home, he will suffer many inconveniences rather than absent himself from public worship. And when he is there, he will “receive the word, not as the word of man, but, as it is in truth, the word of God.” He will listen to it as the word of God to his own soul in particular, and will apply to himself the truths which the minister, as God’s ambassador, shall set before him.

In this he differs widely from all other persons: for though others may be regular in their attendance on divine ordinances, they do not hear the word of God with that reverence, that self-application, that submission, which become sinners in the presence of their God.]

2.       He “keeps it” —

[The godly keep it in their hearts us a ground of hope. They do not come to the word of God, determining to receive nothing but what accords with their own pre-conceived notions; but they desire to know what method God has prescribed for the reconciling of sinners to himself: and when they find that he has sent his only dear Son to die for them, they do not say, How can this be? but they acquiesce thankfully in the divine appointment, and trust in Christ as their only Saviour [Note: They see his suitableness, and sufficiency, and excellency, and say as Paul, 1Co_2:2. Gal_6:14.] — — —

They keep it also in their lives, as a rule of conduct. They will no longer regulate themselves according to the maxims of the world, but will inquire, What does my God require of me? What is the way in which he has directed me to walk? Having ascertained these points, he does not turn back because the world calls him precise, or because his own corruptions render his progress difficult; but he holds on in his course with firmness and uniformity. He finds many who endeavour to turn him out of the way; but he keeps the word of God, as “a light,” that points out his path in general, and as “a lantern,” that is to direct every step he takes — — —

It is scarcely needful to observe, that this part of the character is peculiar to the Christian; for there is no other person that can at all be compared with him in these respects.]

Together with the character of a Christian our Lord proclaims also,

II.      His blessedness—

We are not to take a general view of this subject, but to consider it in that particular light, in which it is represented in the text.

The Virgin Mary, beyond a doubt, was the most highly favoured of women, in that she was honoured with bringing into the world her incarnate God. So the angel told her; and so she expected that all future ages would consider her [Note: Luk_1:28; Luk_1:48.]. But the true Christian, whoever he be, is incomparably more blessed than she [Note: The Virgin, as a believer in Jesus, was doubtless a partaker of all the privileges that we enjoy through him: but, simply as his mother, she possessed none of them: and all our assertions respecting her must be understood with this limitation.].

1.       He has a closer union with Christ than ever she had—

[The union which the Virgin had with Christ was that of a mother with her child. He was bone of her bone, and flesh of her flesh [Note: Gen_2:23.]. Yet this, close as it was, cannot be compared with that which subsists between Christ and his believing people: for “he is formed in their souls [Note: Gal_4:19.];” “he dwells in their hearts by faith [Note: Eph_3:17.]:” he in them is the hope of glory [Note: Col_1:27.]:” and so inseparable is this privilege from the Christian character, that, “if he dwell not in us, we are reprobates [Note: 2Co_13:5.].” She was one flesh with him: but believers are one spirit with him [Note: 1Co_6:17.]. Her union was like that which universally obtains between parents and children; but that which believers enjoy, resembles rather that which subsists between Christ and his heavenly Father [Note: Joh_17:20-23.].]

2.       He has a more intimate communion with him—

[Doubtless, till he attained to the age of thirty, she must have enjoyed many sweet seasons of communion with him under her own roof: and during the four years of his ministry, she must have had familiar access to him on many occasions. But, after all, this was no other fellowship than what every parent, and every friend, enjoys. She beheld him only as a man; we behold him as God. she saw him merely as a prophet; we see him in the whole of his mediatorial character, as the King, Priest, and Prophet, of the universal Church. She heard only partial instructions, on particular occasions, with the outward ear: but we have access to him at all times, to hear the whole of his revealed will, and to receive instruction in our inmost souls.

How far preferable this is to his bodily presence our Lord himself informs us [Note: Joh_16:7.]: and consequently our state is far more blessed than even that of his own mother.]

3.       He has richer communications from him—

[She, as his mother, received nothing from him in this world [Note: Mat_12:46-50.]; nor does she receive any thing in heaven on account of this relation to him [Note: Mat_22:30.]. But every believer, as a believer, is blessed in him with all spiritual and eternal blessings [Note: Eph_1:3.]. Unspeakable are the benefits he imparts to all his people. Whatever grace they possess, they have received it all out of his fulness [Note: Joh_1:16.]. In heaven also their relation to him shall be acknowledged, and suitable honours be conferred upon them. A throne [Note: Rev_3:21.], a crown [Note: 2Ti_4:8.], a kingdom [Note: Luk_22:29.], are the inheritance that he has reserved for them, and will finally bestow upon them.

Let these things be considered, and, however blessed we may conceive the Virgin to have been on account of her relation to him, we shall see that incomparably greater blessedness is ours, provided we hear the word of God, and keep it.]


1.       Those who do not statedly hear the word of God—

[Upon what principle can you conceive that any blessedness belongs to you, when you prefer your ease, your business, your pleasure, to an attendance on God’s ordinances? Can it be imagined that God is unconcerned about the honour of his word, and that he will not notice the contempt poured upon it? Has he not repeatedly declared the very reverse [Note: Deu_18:19. Mat_10:14-15. Luk_10:16. 1Th_4:8. Heb_2:1-3.]? Whatever excuses then you may make, remember that you have not even the semblance of Christianity, so long as you remain indifferent to the public ministration of the word, and neglectful of it in your secret retirements.]

2.       Those who hear the word, but without keeping it—

[There are many who are regular in their attendance on divine worship, but never regard one word they hear. They are taught to come to Christ as their righteousness and strength [Note: Isa_45:24.]; but they still cherish self-righteousness and self-dependence. They are instructed to die unto the world, and to live unto God [Note: 1Pe_2:24. 2Co_5:15.]; but they still continue alive to the world, and dead to God. But what will their hearing profit them, if they will not keep the word they hear? To what purpose do they cry, Lord! Lord! if they will not do his will [Note: Luk_6:46.]? Let such then know that they deceive themselves [Note: Jam_1:22.]; and that they must both embrace in their hearts, and exemplify in their lives, the word of God, if ever they would be blessed in their deeds [Note: Jam_1:23-25.].]

3.       Those who both hear and keep it—

[Whatever the world may say of these persons, they are, and shall be, blessed. The Lord Jesus Christ pronounces them so, and will himself impart the blessedness that he has reserved for them. Go on then, holding forth, and holding fast, the word of life [Note: Php_2:16.]. You will find numberless temptations to forsake the good way; but keep it steadfastly unto the end. You may meet with trials for your adherence to the word; but your consolations shall be sure to abound above all your tribulations [Note: 2Co_1:5.]; and strength shall be given you according to your day [Note: Deu_33:25.]. Even in this world you shall have no reason to repent of your steadfastness; and in the world to come your blessedness shall be complete.]