1140111<p>1:1&nbsp;<em>The book of the generation</em>- &ldquo;Book&rdquo;, Gk.&nbsp;<em>biblos</em>, suggests a formal volume. It could be that Matthew refers only to the genealogy- but in this case,&nbsp;<em>biblos</em>&nbsp;hardly seems the appropriate word. The Gospels were transcripts of the Gospel message preached by e.g. Matthew, and as time went on and the Lord didn&rsquo;t return, under inspiration they wrote down their standard accounts of the good news. The Greek&nbsp;<em>genesis</em>&nbsp;translated &ldquo;generation&rdquo; is also translated &ldquo;nature&rdquo; in its&rsquo; other two occurrences (James 1:23; 3:6). If the &ldquo;book&rdquo; refers to the book of the Gospel of Matthew, the idea could be that this is a Gospel which focuses upon the nature of Jesus. Related words occur often in the genealogies- people &ldquo;begat&rdquo; [Gk.&nbsp;<em>gennao</em>] their descendants, until Jesus was&nbsp;<em>gennao</em>&nbsp;of Mary (Mt. 1:16). Jesus as a person had a &lsquo;genesis&rsquo;, He was &lsquo;generated&rsquo; by Mary as His ancestors had been &lsquo;generated&rsquo; by the &lsquo;generations&rsquo; of their ancestors- the whole chapter is a huge blow to the idea that Jesus pre-existed as a person before His birth. His &lsquo;generation&rsquo; is presented as being of the same nature as the &lsquo;generation&rsquo; of His human ancestors.</p> <p><em>The son of David, the son of Abraham</em>- The Roman emperors and Greek heroes sometimes traced their pedigree back to a god- and therefore the genealogy of Jesus, whom the Gospels present as the ultimate Emperor, is quite radical in this regard. For it traces the pedigree of Jesus back to a man, Abraham. The greatness of Jesus was in his humanity.</p> 2140122<p><span>1:2&nbsp;</span><em>Abraham begot Isaac, Isaac begot Jacob, Jacob begot Judah and his brothers</em><span>- The fact Isaac and Jacob had brothers is carefully omitted- because the descendants of Ishmael and Esau were not counted as the people of God.</span></p> 3140133<p>1:3&nbsp;<em>Judah begot Perez and Zerah of Tamar and Perez begot Hezron, Hezron begot Ram</em>- Since the Lord was descended through the line of Phares, why mention the birth of Zara- seeing that so many details are omitted in this genealogy, even whole generations, why take space to record this? Perhaps it was because Zara was the first born, but Phares got the birthright. And the genealogies teach us how God delights to work through the underling, the rejected, the humanly weak.</p> <p>Tamar was a prostitute and adulteress, just like Rahab. See on 1:5.</p> 4140144<p><span>1:4&nbsp;</span><em>Ram begot Amminadab, Amminadab begot Nahshon, Nahshon begot Salmon- </em><span>Salmon was of the tribe of Judah, because this is the genealogy through Judah (1:2). The two spies who had been faithful the first time when spies were sent out were Joshua and Caleb- of the tribes of Ephraim and Judah (Num. 13:6; Jud. 2:9). It seems a fair guess that when the two spies were sent out, they were from these same two tribes. Salmon was a prince of the tribe of Judah- it&rsquo;s a fair guess that he was one of the two spies who went to Rahab, and he subsequently married her.</span></p> 5140155<p><span>1:5</span><em> Salmon begot Boaz of Rahab and Boaz begot Obed of Ruth and Obed begot Jesse- </em><span>Rahab was a Gentile and a sinner. Jesus was morally perfect, and yet the genealogy shows how He had much against Him spiritually. We can&rsquo;t blame our lack of spirituality upon our bad background. Note that there was so much intermarriage with Gentiles like Rahab and Ruth throughout Israel&rsquo;s history; their standing with God was therefore never on the basis of ethnic purity, but rather by cultural identity and God&rsquo;s grace.&nbsp;Matthew&rsquo;s genealogy features [unusually, for Jewish genealogies] several women, who had become the ancestors of Messiah through unusual relationships. It&rsquo;s almost as if the genealogy is there in the form that it is to pave the way for the account of Mary&rsquo;s conception of Jesus without a man.</span></p> 6140166<p>1:6&nbsp;<em>Jesse begot David the king</em>- Literally &ldquo;<em>the&nbsp;</em>David&nbsp;<em>the</em>&nbsp;king&rdquo;. The others aren&rsquo;t mentioned as being kings. The implication may be that Jesus was the promised descendant of David and the promises of eternal Kingship made to David&rsquo;s descendant are therefore applicable to Jesus.</p> <p><em>And David begot Solomon of her that had been the wife of Uriah-&nbsp;</em>Literally &ldquo;she of Uriah&rdquo;. &ldquo;She that that been the wife of&rdquo; is added by some translators in explanation, but isn&rsquo;t in the original. Whilst God &lsquo;forgets&rsquo; sin in the sense that He no longer holds it against us, the memory of those sins isn&rsquo;t obliterated, and His word is full of such allusions to sin which although He has forgiven it and symbolically &ldquo;blotted it out&rdquo;, it still remains within Divine history. We too can forgive but &lsquo;forgetting&rsquo; isn&rsquo;t always possible, and is no sign that we have failed to forgive.</p> 7140177<p>1:7&nbsp;<em>And Solomon begot Rehoboam, Rehoboam begot Abijah, Abijah begot Asa&nbsp;</em>- Wicked Roboam begat wicked Abia; wicked Abia begat good Asa; good Asa begat good Josaphat; good Josaphat begat wicked Joram. Perhaps the emphasis is that spirituality isn&rsquo;t genetic, and neither is sinfulness. Jesus was perfect despite being from such &ldquo;bad blood&rdquo;; and we likewise can&rsquo;t blame our failures on bad background. Neither can we assume that the children of the faithful will be righteous.</p> 8140188<p><span>1:8&nbsp;</span><em>Asa begot Jehoshaphat, Jehoshaphat begot Joram, Joram begot Uzziah</em><span>- Three generations are skipped here. See on 1:17. Perhaps the omission was because Joram married Athaliah, daughter of Jezebel the wife of Ahab, and those generations were idolaters. As we note on 1:12, children who don&rsquo;t worship the true God are forgotten in the ultimate course of Divine history. In this case, his iniquity was indeed visited upon the third generation (Ex. 20:3-6). We also see here a fulfilment of the prophecy that Ahab&rsquo;s house would be eradicated (2 Kings 9:8).</span></p> 9140199<p>1:9 <em>Uzziah begot Jotham, Jotham begot Ahaz, Ahaz begot Hezekiah</em>- The record here and in :10 seems to stress that the good beget the bad who beget the good; as if to establish the point that natural pedigree is no guarantee of spirituality. This was something the Jews needed to appreciate.</p> 1014011010<p><span>1:10 </span><em>Hezekiah begot Manasseh, Manasseh begot Amon, Amon begot Josiah</em><span>- See on :9.</span></p> 1114011111<p><span>1:11&nbsp;</span><em>Josiah begot Jechoniah and his brothers, at the time of the captivity in Babylon</em><span>- The apparent contradiction with 1 Chron. 3:5,6 is solved if we understand this to be a reference to Joachin.&nbsp;</span></p> 1214011212<p><span>1:12&nbsp;</span><em>And after the captivity in Babylon, Jechoniah begot Shealtiel, Shealtiel begot Zerubbabel</em><span>- Therefore the reference to Jechoniah being written &ldquo;childless&rdquo; (Jer. 22:30) perhaps means that as Jeremiah goes on to comment &ldquo;No man of his seed shall prosper&rdquo;. If our children aren&rsquo;t spiritually prosperous, it is as if we were childless. Thus we see that the whole purpose of having children is to &ldquo;raise a Godly seed&rdquo;.</span></p> 1314011313<p>1:13 <em>Zerubbabel begot Abiud- </em>Other children of Zerubbabel are recorded in 1 Chron. 3:19. But it was through one who was not otherwise of note or fame that the Lord was descended. Or perhaps Abiud was another name for one of the sons listed there. The apparent contradiction with Lk. 3:27 is solved if we read that as &quot;which was the son of Rhesa Zerubbabel&quot;. See on :16.</p> <p><em>Abiud begot Eliakim, Eliakim begot Azor</em>- This part of the genealogy is not found in the Old Testament. We wonder whether God as it were beamed this information into Matthew, or whether he did his own research through public registers and was Divinely guided and inspired in his findings and how he recorded it.</p> 1414011414<p><span>1:14&nbsp;</span><em>Azor begot Sadoc, Sadoc begot Achim, Achim begot Eliud</em><span>- Matthew is presenting the line through Judah. But there was a Levite at this time also called &ldquo;Zadok&rdquo; (Neh. 10:21). It could be that this person was descended from both Judah and Levi through an inter-tribal marriage of his parents. In this case he would&rsquo;ve been a potential king-priest, preparing the way for us to understand Jesus as a king-priest.</span></p> 1514011515<p><span>1:15&nbsp;</span><em>Eliud begot Eleazar, Eleazar begot Matthan, Matthan begot Jacob</em><span>- The genealogies prove that Joseph was a descendant of David, indeed the rightful king of Israel had there been a monarchy at the time of Jesus. Jesus was his adopted son; he was &quot;as was supposed&quot;, or 'as was reckoned by law', the son of Joseph (Lk. 3:23). The record in Luke appears to be that of Mary; Joseph being &quot;the son of Heli&quot; was probably by reason of marrying Mary, the daughter of Heli (Lk. 3:23); the Talmud speaks with gross vitriolic about Mary the daughter of Heli going to hell for her blasphemy, referring to Mary the mother of Jesus. This shows that the Jews accept that Mary was the daughter of Heli. Heli's father was Matthat, who can be equated with Matthan the grandfather of Joseph. Thus Mary and Joseph were cousins (hinting at an arranged marriage?), and therefore Jesus was a son of David through both his mother and father by adoption. In the light of this it is evident that the question mark over the validity of a genealogy through Joseph is an irrelevancy, seeing that Joseph and Mary had a common grandfather. The point has to be made that a humanly fabricated genealogy would be sure to make some glaring errors, especially if it was produced by simple, uneducated men as the Jews claim the New Testament was. The wonder of the New Testament genealogies is that closer study reveals ever more intricate internal evidence for their truth and reliability, rather than exposing more problems.</span></p> 1614011616<p>1:16 <em>Jacob begot Joseph the husband of Mary, of whom was born Jesus, who is called Christ</em>- Lk. 3:27 describes Zerubbabel as the head / chief / leader. The term Rhesa is incorrectly rendered in many versions as a name. Perhaps Luke&rsquo;s point was that the Lord Jesus was the final Messiah, after the failure of so many potential ones beforehand. &lsquo;Zerubbabel the chief&rsquo; would then be a similar rubric to &ldquo;David the king&rdquo; in Matthew&rsquo;s genealogy (:6).&nbsp;</p> <p>Joseph was actually the rightful king of Israel, according to this genealogy. Yet he was living in poverty and without recognition for who he was- exactly the kind of person God would use for the great task of raising His only begotten Son.</p> 1714011717<p>1:17&nbsp;<em>So all the generations from Abraham to David are fourteen generations and from David to the captivity in Babylon fourteen generations and from the captivity in Babylon to the Christ fourteen generations- </em>This must have some connection with the 42 stopping places before Israel reached Canaan, as described in Num.33:2. Thus the birth of Christ would be like God's people entering the promised land of the Kingdom in some way. It could be argued from this (and other evidence) that it was God&rsquo;s intention for the Kingdom to be entered by Israel at the time of Jesus- it was after all, His intention that Israel accepted their Messiah. But they crucified Him, and therefore the potential didn&rsquo;t come true. This open ended nature of God&rsquo;s prophetic program means that it&rsquo;s impossible to fit together all latter day prophecies into some chronological framework.</p> <p>The genealogy presented by Matthew doesn&rsquo;t include every generation, there are some gaps (see on 1:8; and Zorababel was Salathiel&rsquo;s grandson, 1 Chron. 3:19, yet 1:12 says be &ldquo;begat&rdquo; him). Thus some &ldquo;begat&rdquo; their grandson or great grandson. Clearly Matthew had a purpose in presenting the material like this- but expositors have failed to come up with anything convincing. It could simply be that the Gospels were designed to be memorized, as most Christians were illiterate; and the 3 x 14 structure was to aid memorization. One interesting observation is that the last 14 generations from the captivity to the time of Christ amount to the 490 years prophesied for this same period by Dan. 9:25- if we take a generation to be 35 years, which it is in Job 42:16. The numerical value of the Hebrew word &ldquo;David&rdquo; is 14, so it could also be that Matthew is eloquently demonstrating that Jesus was indeed the promised seed of David. If indeed six is the number of man and seven represents perfection, then 6 x 7 = 42- the generations culminated in the perfect man, Jesus.</p> 1814011818<p>1:18&nbsp;<em>Now the birth of Jesus Christ was as follows. When his mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Spirit</em>- The Greek seems to imply she was understood [&ldquo;found&rdquo;] to be with a child which had come&nbsp;<em>ek</em>, out of, from, the Holy Spirit. This could be implying that Joseph himself believed or perceived that the child was from the Holy Spirit. This would explain why he sought not to humiliate her publicly about the matter (1:19).</p> <p>The descriptions of Mary as keeping things in her heart (Lk. 2:19,52), and the way it seems she didn&rsquo;t tell Joseph about the Angel&rsquo;s visit, but instead immediately went down to Elisabeth for three months&hellip; all these are indications that Mary, like many sensitive people, was a very closed woman. Only when Mary was &ldquo;found&rdquo; pregnant by Joseph (Mt. 1:18- s.w. to see, perceive, be obvious) was the situation explained to him by an Angel. It seems His move to divorce her was based on his noticing she was pregnant, and she hadn&rsquo;t given any explanation to him. She &ldquo;arose&rdquo; after perhaps being face down on the ground as the Angel spoke with her, and went immediately off to Elisabeth. And then, after three months she returns evidently pregnant (Lk. 1:39). Mary is portrayed as somehow separate from the other ministering women. It would have been psychologically impossible, or at best very hard, for the mother of the Lord to hang around with them. The group dynamics would have been impossible. Likewise in Acts 1:14 we have &ldquo;the women, and Mary the mother of Jesus&rdquo;, as if she is separate from them. She followed Him to Cana, uninvited, and also to Capernaum. Next she is at the cross risking her life, but she isn't among the women who went to the grave. Why not? It was surely natural that she would go there, and that the other women would go with her to comfort her. But she was a loner; either she went alone, as I think I would have tried to, or she just couldn&rsquo;t face contact with the others and simply hid away. And could it be that Jesus, in recognition of her unique perception of Him, appeared to her first privately, in a rightfully unrecorded meeting? But by Acts 1:14, she was in the upper room, as if His death led her to be more reconciled to her brethren, to seek to get along with them... although by nature, in her heart and soul, she was a loner, maybe almost reclusive. A struggler to understand. A meditator, a reflector, who just wanted to be alone, one of those who take their energy from themselves rather than from other people. &nbsp;</p> 1914011919<p>1:19&nbsp;<em>And Joseph her husband, being a righteous man and not willing to make her a public example, decided to send her away secretly</em>- The very same phrase is used by Matthew to describe Christ as the ultimately just or righteous man as He hung upon the cross (27:19,24; Lk. 23:47; 1 Pet. 3:18); the implication is surely that Joseph&rsquo;s just or righteousness played a role in the final perfection of Jesus as the ultimately &ldquo;just man&rdquo;. For it was he who would&rsquo;ve first taught Jesus the&nbsp;<em>shema</em>, emphasizing the word &ldquo;one&rdquo; as Jewish fathers did, correcting the young Jesus as He stutteringly repeated it. The same term is used about Jesus now in His heavenly glory (Acts 22:14; 1 Jn. 2:1) and as He will be at the day of judgment (2 Tim. 4:8); the influence of parents upon their children is in some sense eternal. For Jesus is the same yesterday, today and forever; we too, as the sum of all the influences upon us, will really be saved and immortalized as persons. And the same was true of Jesus; hence the words and style of Mary&rsquo;s hymn of praise can be found repeated in the later words of Jesus, and also in the words He spoke from Heaven to the churches in Revelation. Joseph had various alternatives open to him; the trial of jealousy of Numbers 5, divorce, seeking compensation from the father, public shaming of the wife, or to stone her. But his justice was such that he sought to show grace and quietly divorce her (see on 1:20&nbsp;<em>Take unto you</em>). Love protects from shame, not as it were covering up sin which needs to be exposed, but seeking to cover over in the sense that God&rsquo;s atonement covers over our sins, as 1 Cor. 13 defines at length.&nbsp;</p> <p>It was normal that the father of the crucified disposed of the body. But another Joseph, also described as a &ldquo;just man&rdquo; as Joseph was (Lk. 23:50), was the one who took this responsibility; remember that Joseph was alive and known as the apparent father of Jesus during His ministry (Jn. 6:42). Likewise one would think it appropriate that the first person to whom the risen Lord revealed Himself would&rsquo;ve been to His mother, for she after all was the channel of the whole marvellous thing, the only one who for sure believed in a virgin birth. But by an apparently cruel twist of circumstance, it was to another Mary, Magdalene, that the Lord first revealed Himself, and it is she and not His mother Mary who takes the message to others. In this context we recall how in His last mortal moments, Christ motioned to His mother that John and not He was now her son (Jn. 19:26), addressing her as &ldquo;woman&rdquo; rather than &ldquo;mother&rdquo;- an unusual and even rude form of address to use to ones&rsquo; mother in public. In all this we see a conscious diminishing of the human significance of the Lord&rsquo;s earthly family, in order to underline that now a new family of Jesus had been brought into existence by the cross. This must have been so hard for Joseph and Mary, as it is for us- to realize that we are but channels, used by God in certain ways at certain times, to the development of His glory according to His program and not our own.</p> 2014012020<p>1:20 <em>But as he thought on these things, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying: Joseph you son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit</em>- The descriptions of Jesus as a &quot;man&quot;, a human being, have little meaning if in fact He pre-existed as God for millions of years before. The descriptions of Him as &quot;begotten&quot; (passive of&nbsp;<em>gennan</em>&nbsp;in Mt. 1:16,20) make no suggestion of pre-existence at all. And the words of the Lord Jesus and His general behaviour would have to be read as all being purposefully deceptive, if in fact He was really a pre-existent god. There is no hint of any belief in a pre-existent Jesus until the writings of Justin Martyr in the second century- and he only develops the idea in his dialogue with Trypho the Jew. The Biblical accounts of the Lord's conception and birth just flatly contradict the idea of pre-existence.</p> <p><em>He thought</em>- The Greek&nbsp;<em>en-thumeomai</em>&nbsp;could mean to be angry or indignant, for that is how&nbsp;<em>thumeomai&nbsp;</em>is usually translated in the NT. His anger and frustration would still be possible even if he correctly perceived that the child was from God (see on 1:18).&nbsp;</p> <p>&quot;Do not be afraid&quot; was a feature of Joseph's life at this time. The three Angelic appearances to him which are recorded show him immediately responding. Such immediacy of response is typical of God&rsquo;s faithful servants; delay in these cases is so often an excuse for inaction and disbelief.&nbsp;The Greek&nbsp;<em>phobeo</em>&nbsp;is also used of reverence and awe before God. Perhaps he understandably thought that he could in no way marry and sleep with a woman who had been the channel of God&rsquo;s Spirit to produce His only begotten son. Those thoughts surely did cross his mind, whatever view we take of&nbsp;<em>phobeo</em>&nbsp;here. We see here the sensitivity of God to human fears and feelings; He knows our thoughts and fears perfectly, and gives the needed assurance. The message that &ldquo;that which is conceived of her&nbsp;<em>is</em>&nbsp;of the Holy Spirit&rdquo; would therefore have had the emphasis upon the word &ldquo;is&rdquo;, confirming Joseph in his perception (see on 1:18- he had perceived [AV &ldquo;found] that the child was of the Holy Spirit).</p> <p>The implication of &quot;take Mary as your wife&quot; could be that they were about to marry, when it became apparent Mary was pregnant. He immediately married her (:24), seeking to protect her from the shame of the situation, thereby giving the impression that the child was his.</p> 2114012121<p><span>1:21&nbsp;</span><em>And she shall give birth to a son, and you shall call his name Jesus; for it is he that shall save his people from their sins</em><span>- But the mission of Jesus was to save &ldquo;the world&rdquo; (Jn. 3:17), to save those enter into Him (Jn. 10:9; Acts 2:21; Rom. 10:13). The &ldquo;world&rdquo; is ultimately the people of Christ whose sins have been forgiven. &nbsp;</span></p> 2214012222<p><span>1:22&nbsp;</span><em>Now all this happened so what was spoken by the Lord through the prophet might be fulfilled, saying</em><span>- The present tense reflects the ongoing, living nature of God&rsquo;s word. Otherwise, a past tense would be required. What was spoken is still being spoken to each individual Bible reader / listener.</span></p> 2314012323<p><span>1:23</span><em> The virgin shall be with child and shall give birth to a son; and they shall call his name Immanuel, which means God with us</em><span>- God&nbsp;</span><em>meta&nbsp;</em><span>us means somewhat more than simply &ldquo;God with us&rdquo;. The idea is also &ldquo;among&rdquo;. God is now among humanity through we who are the body of Christ.&nbsp;</span></p> 2414012424<p>1:24 <em>And Joseph woke from his sleep and did as the angel of the Lord commanded him, and took Mary as his wife</em>- Such immediate obedience is highly commendable, especially as marrying an already pregnant woman was bound to make the rest of his life very difficult. We think of Rebekah and others who were immediately obedient; it is the flesh that always wishes to delay our response.</p> 2514012525<p><span>1:25&nbsp;</span><em>But he did not have sexual intercourse with her until she had given birth to a son; and he called his name Jesus</em><span>- The obedience of Joseph (in this case, to :21) is emphasized. Likewise 2:20,21 &ldquo;Arise... and he arose&rdquo;.&nbsp;</span></p> 26140211<p><span>2:1&nbsp;</span><em>Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea in the days of Herod the king, astrologers from the east came to Jerusalem, saying</em><span>- Probably Jews from Babylon who had seen the similarity between the 'star' and the Messianic star out of Jacob whom Balaam had prophesied (Num. 24:17). Perhaps they are called here&nbsp;</span><em>magos</em><span>, sorcerers, magic men, because this is the image they presented to Herod, rather than stating they were Jews in search of Judah's Messianic King. Daniel had once been counted amongst the 'wise men' of Babylon (Dan. 2:48).&nbsp;</span></p> 27140222<p><span>2:2 </span><em>Where is he that is born King of the Jews? For we saw his star in the east and have come to worship him</em><span>- The star did not take them directly to Bethlehem. It may have disappeared for a while, so they went to Jerusalem, assuming the king was to be born there. This would indicate they were ignorant of Mic. 5:2, the prophecy of Messiah's birth in Bethlehem, or had at least failed to interpret the prophecy properly. Seeing that stars do not move across the sky over time in a way which can be followed on earth over a period of days or weeks, it's clear that again (see on :1), things are being described as they appeared to an observer on earth. It could be that they first saw the 'star' two years previously (see on 2:16).&nbsp;</span></p> <p><span style="font-size: 11pt; line-height: 107%;"> <br /> Some kings become kings by revolution or war, others are born into a kingly line. They clearly understood that this king was in the kingly line of Judah- a direct descendant of David.</span></p> 28140233<p><span>2:3 </span><em>And when Herod the king heard it, he was disturbed and all Jerusalem with him-&nbsp;</em><span>&quot;All Jerusalem&quot; were &quot;troubled&quot;, whereas the birth of Messiah was to be a time of joy for Israel and &quot;to all people&quot; (Lk. 2:10). The despised and lowly shepherds rejoiced, but &quot;Jerusalem&quot;, perhaps referring to the Jewish ruling class, were &quot;troubled&quot;. They rejected the good news of the Gospel because it threatened their little power structure. &quot;All Jerusalem&quot; cannot be taken literally because there were some in the city awaiting the birth of Messiah and joyful at the news of His birth (Lk. 2:38).</span></p> 29140244<p><span>2:4&nbsp;</span><em>And gathering together all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Christ should be born</em><span>- The priests are repeatedly described in the OT as the priests&nbsp;</span><em>of Yahweh</em><span>. Now they are merely the priests of the people, just as the OT &quot;the feasts of Yahweh&quot; become 'feasts of the Jews' in the Gospels. They hijacked Yahweh's religion and turned it into their own religion, meeting the basic religious needs of humans, rather than accepting His Truth for what it was. Biblically there was to only be one chief priest- but Israel now had several, hence the plural&nbsp;</span><em>chief priests</em><span>.&nbsp;</span></p> <p>&quot;Be born&quot; is Gk.&nbsp;<em>gennao</em>. Messiah was procreated, gendered, beginning within the womb of Mary- a concept incompatible with theories of a literal pre-existence of Christ.</p> <p>Herod understood that the wise men were seeking the Messiah. This indicates that they were Jews who understood Messiah to be the King of Judah in David's line.</p> 30140255<p>2:5 <em>And they said to him: In Bethlehem of Judea. For thus it is written through the prophet</em>- We get the impression that the reply was immediate, and that it was expected that Messiah would be born in Bethlehem. When Angels appeared in praise of a baby born to a poor woman in a stable, people were not so quick to accept that God acted not according to their expectations of Him. And Judaism within the next 30 years moved away from this expectation towards a position whereby they taught that nobody could know where Messiah was from (see on Jn. 7:27).</p> 31140266<p><span>2:6 </span><em>And you Bethlehem, land of Judah, are in no way least among the princes of Judah. For out of you shall come forth a Ruler, who shall be shepherd of My people Israel</em><span>- The emphasis is on the word &quot;not&quot;. She was perceived as the least, but she was not in God's sight. This is so typically His style- to use the most despised and lowly in order to do His work.&nbsp;The same was His style with Mary.</span></p> 32140288<p><span>2:8&nbsp;</span><em>And he sent them to Bethlehem</em><span>- They followed this providential leading, and then the star re-appeared and confirmed them in the path (:9). Divine guidance is rarely constant, there are times when it appears to leave us and we are left to work and order our path on our own initiative, and then guidance reappears to confirm us.</span></p> <p><em>And said: Go and search carefully for the young child, and when you have found him, bring me word, that I may also come and worship him</em>- &quot;Search&quot; is the same Greek word as in 2:7 concerning how Herod enquired diligently about Jesus. The impression is given that Herod wanted the wise men to as it were be his agents; his diligence was to be theirs. It could be that he was simply lazy to himself go to Bethlehem to see the child when it was far from confirmed that the child was in fact there.</p> 33140299<p><span>2:9 </span><em>And they, having heard the king, went their way; and the star which they saw in the east went before them until it came and stood over where the young child was</em><span>- The star gave varying degrees of guidance- it led them to Palestine, and then to Jerusalem in general. Then it disappeared. Now it specifically pinpointed the building in Bethlehem. Divine guidance is rather similar in our lives.</span></p> 3414021010<p><span>2:10&nbsp;</span><em>And when they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceedingly great joy</em><span>- Because the star had disappeared but had now reappeared.&nbsp;</span></p> 3514021111<p>2:11&nbsp;<em>And they came into the house and saw the young child with Mary his mother; and they fell down and worshipped him, and opening their treasures they offered to him gifts, gold and frankincense and myrrh</em>- These three gifts are typically what was offered to kings and there are several references to kings being presented with these three things. The extent of the wise men's conviction was therefore very great. This is how much it can cost us to accept that Jesus really is Lord and King of our lives- financial expense, risk, long travel...</p> <p>Note the absence of any reference to Joseph. His amazing obedience and immediacy of response to God&rsquo;s word wasn&rsquo;t rewarded by any permanent recognition. He played his role without recognition, and this is the lesson to us in our largely unrecognized and humanly unappreciated lives.</p> 3614021212<p>2:12&nbsp;<em>And being warned in a dream that they should not return to Herod</em>- The Greek for &quot;warned&quot; implies 'to be answered', so it seems they had prayed to God for guidance- and now received it.</p> <p><em>They departed for their own country by another route</em>- As Joseph the next night likewise had an Angelic message, immediately responded and 'departed' to another country. Their obedience was an example for Joseph and Mary to follow.2:13,14 Joseph was told to arise and take Jesus to Egypt; and he arose from sleep and did it. And the same double &lsquo;arising&rsquo; occurred when he left Egypt to return to Israel (Mt 2:13,14 cp. 20,21).</p> 3714021313<p><span>2:13&nbsp;</span><em>Now when they had departed, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream, saying: Arise and take the young child and his mother and flee into Egypt and stay there until I tell you, for Herod will seek the young child to destroy him</em><span>- The Hebrew idea of 'seeking' includes the idea of worship- which was exactly Herod's pretext for wanting to locate Jesus.&nbsp;If Joseph hadn't been obedient, would God's whole plan in the Lord Jesus have been destroyed? Presumably so, or else the whole impression given of command and obedience would be meaningless, for Joseph would've just been acting out as a puppet.&nbsp;</span></p> 3814021414<p><span>2:14&nbsp;</span><em>And he arose and took the young child and his mother by night and departed into Egypt-&nbsp;</em><span>That same hour of the night (assuming dreams happen at night), Joseph obeyed the strange call. The observation has been made that Matthew&rsquo;s record has much to say about Joseph, and Mary is presented as passive; whereas in Luke, far more attention is given to Mary herself. The suggestion has been made by Tom Gaston that Joseph gave eyewitness testimony which was used by Matthew, and Mary gave such testimony to Luke. &quot;Arose and took&quot; was in exact obedience to 2:13 &quot;arise and take&quot;. See on 1:25.&nbsp;For </span><em>Departed</em><span>- See on 2:12.&nbsp;</span></p> 3914021515<p>2:15&nbsp;<em>And stayed there until the death of Herod, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the Lord through the prophet, saying: Out of Egypt did I call My son</em>- One of many NT statements of the nature of inspiration of the OT writers. God spoke&nbsp;<em>dia</em>&nbsp;the prophets, they were a channel&nbsp;<em>for His word</em>, they were not speaking merely for and of themselves.</p> <p>The emphasis is that&nbsp;<em>Joseph</em>&nbsp;fulfilled this prophecy- the grammar states that&nbsp;<em>he</em>&nbsp;was in Egypt until he was told to return. Hos. 11:1,2 speaks of how Israel were disobedient to this call: &ldquo;When Israel was a child, I loved him, and called my son out of Egypt<em>...&nbsp;</em>But the more I called Israel, the further they went from me&rdquo;. The implication again is that Joseph had the freewill to obey this call or not- and he was obedient. For the call to leave Egypt had not been answered by Israel and it was no foregone conclusion that it would have to be by Joseph.&nbsp;</p> 4014021616<p>2:16&nbsp;<em>Then Herod, when he saw that he was deceived by the astrologers</em>- The record doesn't give the impression that the wise men did what they did because they were mocking Herod. Rather did they fear him and obeyed God's desire to foil his evil plot. But Herod perceived what they did as mocking him, and the record states things from the perspective of how he perceived things [as with the language of demons]- see on 2:1.&nbsp;</p> <p><em>Was furious</em>- An example of where the Bible teaches us basic human psychology. He felt mocked by the wise men, although actually they hadn't mocked him, he just perceived it that way- and so he took out his anger against them on the babies of Bethlehem. He transferred his anger from one to another. And that explains why the woman behind the till was so angry with you for no reason this morning- because she was transferring onto you the anger she felt against her mother / partner / neighbour arising from an incident [probably a misunderstanding and wrong imputation of motives] which happened last night.&nbsp;</p> <p><em>And sent out soldiers and slew all the male children that were in Bethlehem and in all the borders of it aged two years and under, according to the time which he had determined from the Magi</em>- This would suggest that when he asked them when the star had first appeared, they replied 'about two years ago'. It would seem they had been planning their journey, or perhaps even making it, for two years.&nbsp;</p> 4114021717<p><span>2:17 </span><em>Then was fulfilled that which was spoken through Jeremiah the prophet, saying</em><span>- Be aware that when it comes to&nbsp;</span><em>prophecy</em><span>, in the sense of foretelling future events, the New Testament sometimes seems to quote the Old Testament&nbsp;</span><em>without&nbsp;</em><span>attention to the context- at least, so far as human Bible scholarship can discern. The early chapters of Matthew contain at least three examples of&nbsp;quotations whose context just cannot fit the application given: Mt. 2:14,15 cp. Hos. 11:1; Mt. 2:17,18 cp. Jer. 31:15; Mt. 1:23 cp. Is. 7:14. Much Christian material about Israel shows how they have returned to the land, rebuilt the ruined cities, made the desert blossom etc., as fulfilment of Old Testament prophecies in Jeremiah etc. The context of these prophecies often doesn&rsquo;t fit a return to the land by Jews in the 20th century; but on the other hand, the correspondence between these prophecies and recent history is so remarkable that it can&rsquo;t be just coincidence. So again we are led to conclude that a few words here and there within a prophecy can sometimes have a fulfilment outside that which the context seems to require.</span></p> 4214021818<p><span>2:18&nbsp;</span><em>A voice was heard in Ramah, weeping and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children</em><span>- But the focus of the massacre was Bethlehem. Clearly a reference to one event is being applied to another, and this is how Matthew understood the 'fulfilment' of prophecy. &nbsp;</span></p> <p><em>And she would not be comforted, because they are not</em>- The words are used about Rachel's husband Jacob weeping for Joseph, a clear type of the Lord, and refusing to be comforted because he 'was not' [Gen. 37:35- cp. the brothers' explanation about Joseph's supposed death, that &quot;one is not&quot;, Gen. 42:13]. This again is rather out of strict context because Rachel died before Joseph's supposed death (Gen. 35:19). The literary argument seems to be that&nbsp;<em>if</em>&nbsp;she had then been alive,&nbsp;<em>then</em>&nbsp;she would have wept as Jacob wept for her son Joseph. Jacob's weeping [on behalf of Rachel] for the death of Joseph / Jesus was ultimately misplaced because Joseph was safe in Egypt. And so the weeping of 'Rachel' for the Bethlehem babies was done whilst Jesus was in fact safe in Egypt. This could explain the semantic link between the quotation of 'Out of Egypt have I called My Son' and then this quotation about Rachel weeping as Jacob wept for Joseph, when in fact he was safe in Egypt. Jer. 31:15,16 reports Rachel weeping for her children who had been lost, and then being told to stop crying because they would come again from the Gentile land where they had been taken. In other words, she was being told that the children she thought were dead and gone were actually alive- in a Gentile land. Which was exactly the case with Jacob's mourning for Joseph which is clearly the basis for the mourning of 'Rachel' here. But then the problem is that the women this verse is applied to in Matthew 2 had lost actual children by real physical death. It's all a very complicated argument, and very forced and unsatisfactory to Western eyes and ears because the context appears to always be so inappropriate and the facts don't quite fit. Only parts of the picture fit. But this is very much the style of Jewish&nbsp;<em>midrash</em>&nbsp;[commentary] on the Old Testament. It probably would've been more persuasive, interesting and intriguing to first century Jewish ears than it is to ours in the 21st Century.</p> 4314021919<p><span>2:19&nbsp;</span><em>But when Herod was dead, an angel of the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt, saying</em><span>- Literally, &quot;appears&quot;, not 'appeared'. The inconsistent use of tenses isn't the grammatical mistake of an uneducated, uninspired writer. This device is common in the Gospels. It focuses attention upon the Angel appearing, and encourages us to re-live the moment, as if to say, 'And wow, lo and behold- an Angel appears!'. The Gospels were initially intended for public reading, even performance on street corners, as the majority of people in the first century world were illiterate. So this kind of device is just what we would expect.&nbsp;</span></p> 4414022020<p><span>2:20&nbsp;</span><em>Arise and take the young child and his mother and go into the land of Israel, for they are dead that sought the young child's life</em><span>- Herod was not alone in wanting Jesus dead. The &quot;they&quot; presumably referred to the Jerusalem leadership of 2:3 [see note there].</span></p> 4514022121<p><span>2:21 </span><em>And he arose and took the young child and his mother and came into the land of Israel</em><span>- Again we note his immediate obedience. International migration was a major thing in those days, when people rarely travelled more than 50 km. from their birthplace let alone moved that far.&nbsp;</span></p> 4614022222<p><span>2:22</span><em> But when he heard that Archelaus was reigning over Judea instead of his father Herod, he was afraid to go there. And being warned by God in a dream, he withdrew into the region of Galilee</em><span>- The implication could be that Joseph had no other information apart that from Herod had died, but on crossing the border, he learnt that Herod's son was reigning- and Joseph feared to go further. Therefore, so I read the record, God made a concession to Joseph's weakness and told him to go to the backwater of Galilee. He &quot;turned aside&quot; into Galilee suggests in the Greek that he 'withdrew himself', as if pulling back into obscurity. The same Greek word is found in Mt. 12:15: &quot;Jesus withdrew himself from there&quot;. He likewise &quot;withdrew into a desert place&quot; (Mt. 14:13), &quot;withdrew [from the crowds]&quot; (Mk. 3:7), &quot;withdrew&quot; when the crowds wanted to crown Him King (Jn. 6:15), judges &quot;withdrew&quot; and talked privately amongst themselves (Acts 26:31). So the picture seems to be that God intended Joseph to raise Jesus somewhere other than Galilee, perhaps in Bethlehem or Jerusalem. But Joseph feared Archelaus, and therefore he was given a 'plan B', to withdraw and fade away into the obscurity of Nazareth. But in God's perfect way, the upbringing in Nazareth could also fulfil His plans and this explains the otherwise rather forced interpretation that Jesus lived in Nazareth so that He would be a 'Nazarene' (see on 2:23). God works oftentimes with us in the same way. He makes concessions to our weaknesses, and whilst the plan Bs, Cs and Ds don't fit as snugly into His prophetic intentions as plan A might have done- they still fit. Because He makes them fit. And that in my opinion explains the slight sense we get in some parts of the record here that events are being 'made to fit' Bible prophecies. And we see it in our own lives. We may take a plan C or D, e.g. a sister may marry an unbeliever, and this doesn't mean that God's purpose with her finishes, but rather that [e.g.] Bible teaching about marriage just doesn't fit as snugly to her experience as it might have done otherwise.</span></p> 4714022323<p><span>2:23&nbsp;</span><em>And he went and dwelt in a city called Nazareth. That it might be fulfilled which was spoken through the prophets-</em><span>&nbsp;It was not specifically spoken by plural prophets that Messiah was to be called &quot;a Nazarene&quot; because He would grow up in despised Nazareth, but that was the implication of the prophecies that Messiah was to be despised of men. See on 2:22 for some thoughts about this apparent 'forcing' of the prophetic fulfilment here.&nbsp;</span></p> <p><em>That he should be called a Nazarene</em>&nbsp;- The town was despised spiritually as incapable of producing a prophet (Jn. 1:46; 7:52), and yet in Hebrew it meant 'town of the shoot', and the shoot was a title of Messiah (Is. 11:1). Again this is typical of God's style- to invest the most spiritually despised with the highest spiritual calling.</p> 48140311<p>3:1&nbsp;<em>And in those days came John the Baptist, preaching in the wilderness of Judea, saying</em>- Presumably this connects with 2:23, meaning that whilst the Lord was still living in Nazareth, John began preaching. One wonders whether John maybe began his ministry up to three and a half years before the baptism of Jesus, seeing his work was typical of the three and a half year Elijah ministry preparing for the&nbsp;<em>second</em>&nbsp;coming of the Lord Jesus.&nbsp;</p> 49140322<p>3:2&nbsp;<em style="font-size: 11pt;">Repent! For the kingdom of heaven is at hand</em><span style="font-size: 11pt;">- There has always been the rulership of God over the individuals whose hearts accept His Kingship. But through the work of the Lord Jesus, this rulership was made so much greater, and His example, teaching and spirit enabled believers to come more totally within that rulership. But clearly the Kingdom was &quot;at hand&quot; not in the sense of its literal establishment on earth physically, but in that as King of the Kingdom, the Lord Jesus could rightly have &quot;the Kingdom of Heaven&quot; as a title.&nbsp;</span></p> <p>It appears that Matthew under inspiration expressed the Gospel in terms which were attractive and not unduly provocative to his hearers, hence he uses 'Heaven' for 'God' as was common Jewish practice. We too should present the Gospel with the same kind of forethought to the sensitivities and nature of our audience, rather than baldly present 'truth' to them considering that we have thereby done our duty. We are not seeking to merely fulfil a duty, but to actually &quot;so speak&quot; that we convert men and women.</p> <p>A possibility is that the Kingdom of God / Heaven could have come soon at that time [&quot;at hand&quot;]&nbsp;<em>if&nbsp;</em>Israel had repented. Then they would not have killed their Messiah and King but rather accepted Him. Whilst God's purpose was not ultimately thwarted by Israel's rejection of the Lord Jesus and their impenitence, the Divine project would have taken a different form if they had repented and accepted Him. We note that those who responded to John&rsquo;s call to repentance were again asked to &ldquo;Repent&rdquo; by the Lord (Mt. 4:17). Their repentance was therefore only surface level. The Lord cursed the fig tree (cp. Israel) because they had only leaves, an appearance of repentance and spiritual fruit in responding to John&rsquo;s message, but actually there was not even the first sign of real fruit on that tree when it was really analysed. The Lord describes John as mourning to his audience, and them&nbsp;<em>not&nbsp;</em>mourning in sympathy and response (Lk. 7:32). They rejoiced in the idea of repentance, but never really got down to it.</p> 50140333<p>3:3&nbsp;<em>For this is he</em>- Is this part of John's message about&nbsp;<em>Jesus</em>? Or is this a note from Matthew about&nbsp;<em>John</em>&nbsp;being the voice in the wilderness? The other Gospel writers use the Isaiah quotation as if it is their comment on John (Mk. 1:3; Lk. 3:4). The present tense 'this is he' can be understood as part of the dramatic present tense style of some parts of the Gospels [see on 2:19]. The way Mt. 3:4 continues &quot;And this same John...&quot; might suggest that &quot;This is he&quot; is also Matthew's comment about John. &nbsp;</p> <p><em>The voice of one crying</em>- When asked who he was, John&rsquo;s reply was simply: &ldquo;a voice&rdquo; (Lk. 3:7). He was nothing; his message about Jesus was everything. In all this there is a far cry from the self-confident, self-projecting speaking off the podium which characterizes so much of our &lsquo;preaching&rsquo; today. So John&rsquo;s appeal to repentance was shot through with a recognition of his own humanity. It wasn&rsquo;t mere moralizing. We likely don&rsquo;t preach as John did because we fear that confronting people with their sins is inappropriate for us to do, because we too are sinners. But with recognition of our own humanity, we build a bridge between our audience and ourselves. In this context it's worth reconsidering Lk. 3:7: &quot;Who has warned you to flee from the wrath to come?&quot;. John said these words to those who were coming to him wishing to be baptized by him- exactly because he had warned them of the wrath to come. It's possible that John meant this as a rhetorical reflection, thus enabling us to paraphrase him something like this: 'And what kind of man am I, who am I, just another sinful guy like you, who has warned you to flee? I'm nothing- don't get baptized because of me, but because you repent and are committed to bringing forth the fruits of repentance&quot;. And it&rsquo;s worth meditating that if Israel had responded to his preaching, then the glorious salvation of God might have even then been revealed in the form of the Kingdom coming on earth, even then. But instead of heeding John&rsquo;s message, Israel in the end crucified their King, necessitating a latter day John the Baptist mission (Mt. 11:13,14; 17:11,12). And it&rsquo;s not going too far to suggest that our latter day witness to Israel and indeed to the world is to conducted in the spirit of John&rsquo;s preaching; hence the crucial importance of understanding the spirit and content of his witness.</p> <p><em>In the wilderness</em>- John the Baptist prepared a highway in the desert through baptizing repentant people (Mk. 1:3,4). This highway was to be a path&nbsp;<em>to&nbsp;</em>Christ as well as the one He would travel. Those converted became a path to Christ for others. One purpose of our calling to the Gospel is to assist others onto that same way. And it's worth reflecting that Christ can only come once the way for Him is prepared- as if His coming depends upon a certain level of response to our preaching, especially to the Jews of the very last days.</p> <div><em>Make ready the way of the Lord</em>- The quotation from Isaiah suggests that if the way was prepared by human repentance, then this would be the path over which the Lord's glory would return to Zion in the establishment of the Kingdom. See on 3:2&nbsp;<em>repent</em>. The strong suggestion is that the Lord's coming in glory was a possibility if Israel had repented at John's preaching and accepted Jesus as their Messiah. Lk. 3:6 goes on to say that if they had repented, then the prophecy that &quot;all flesh shall see the salvation of God&quot; would come true- and that is clearly language of the future Kingdom of God on earth. For not even all Israel saw / perceived the Jesus / salvation of God, let alone &quot;all flesh&quot;. The term &quot;all flesh&quot; is used frequently in the OT about mankind generally rather than just Israel; indeed it is used in contradistinction to Israel (Dt. 5:26; Job 34:15; Is. 49:26; Is. 66:16,23,24; Jer. 25:31; Dan. 4:12). <p></p> <p><em>Make His paths straight</em>- The implication is that the repentance of people in Judah would make straight the Lord's path over which He would travel. Repentant people are therefore His way to Jerusalem. This of itself suggests that the Lord shall only come to Zion once there is repentance in Israel, seeing repentant people are the way or road which enables Him to travel. The allusion is clearly to the practice of preparing the road for an important person to travel upon. The whole metaphor suggests that Christ will only come to Zion once His people are spiritually ready, once there is repentance, perhaps specifically in Israel. John the Baptist was to prepare the Lord's way (Lk. 1:76 same Greek words). But it was repentant people who were to prepare the Lord's way. John's appeal was for others to prepare the Lord's way by repentance. But his preaching meant that he was the one preparing the way; the change of life in his hearers would therefore as it were be counted to John. The work of preparing the Lord's way is mentioned in Mal. 3:1 as being the work of &quot;the messenger&quot;; and the context appears to be the restoration from Babylon. Perhaps because those addressed in Is. 40:1 (&quot;Prepare&nbsp;<em>ye</em>&quot;) failed in their task and God sought to see it fulfilled through a specific messenger.</p> <p>The ideas of fleeing wrath (Lk. 3:7) and preparing a way are surely based upon the Law&rsquo;s command in Dt. 19:3 that a way or road should be prepared to the city of refuge (symbolic of Christ- Heb. 6:18), along which the person under the death sentence for manslaughter could flee for refuge. John was preparing that way or road to Christ, and urging ordinary people to flee along it. They didn&rsquo;t like to think they were under a death sentence for murder. They were just ordinary folk like the soldiers who grumbled about their wages, and the publicans who were a bit less than honest at work. But they had to flee. But they wouldn&rsquo;t be alone in that. If a man prepares his way after God&rsquo;s principles (2 Chron. 27:6; Prov. 4:26), then God will &lsquo;prepare&rsquo; that man&rsquo;s way too (Ps. 37:23; 119:5), confirming him in the way of escape.&nbsp;<br /> <em>His paths straight</em>- There is a definite allusion to the language here in Acts 13:10, where a man is accused by Paul of perverting &quot;the right [s.w. 'straight'] ways of the Lord&quot;. Paul clearly saw&nbsp;<em>his</em>&nbsp;mission as likewise to prepare straight paths for the Lord Jesus by preaching the Gospel of transformation. The implication could be that John's mission ultimately failed, in that the Lord Jesus did not come to Zion in glory. Paul seems to imply that therefore that work is now placed upon all Christian preachers; we are to prepare the way so that the Lord can come to Zion and establish God's Kingdom. When we read that Paul instructed men &quot;in the way of the Lord&quot; (Acts 18:25) we have the same idea- we are preparing the way of the Lord Jesus. Each person who is truly converted is part of the Lord's highway, and once there is sufficient transformation of human life, the way will be ready enough for the Lord to return upon it.&nbsp;</p> <p>Just as the preaching of the Gospel was to make straight paths for the Messiah to come (Lk. 3:4), so we are to make&nbsp;<em>our</em>&nbsp;paths straight (Heb. 12:13)- as if somehow we are the Lord Jesus; His revelation to this world at the second coming will in a sense be our revelation. Hence the final visions of Revelation speak of the Lord's second coming in terms which are applicable to the community of those in Him [e.g. a city of people coming down from Heaven to earth]. John&rsquo;s preaching was in order to make [s.w. &lsquo;to bring forth fruit&rsquo;] His [the Lord&rsquo;s] paths straight- but the ways of the Lord are &ldquo;right&rdquo; [s.w. &ldquo;straight&rdquo;] anyway (Acts 13:10). So how could John&rsquo;s preaching make the Lord&rsquo;s ways straight / right, when they already are? God is so associated with His people that their straightness or crookedness reflects upon Him; for they are His witnesses in this world. His ways are their ways. This is the N.T. equivalent of the O.T. concept of keeping / walking in the way of the Lord (Gen. 18:19; 2 Kings 21:22). Perhaps this is the thought behind the exhortation of Heb. 12:13 to make straight paths for our own feet. We are to bring our ways into harmony with the Lord&rsquo;s ways; for He is to be us, His ways our ways. Thus Is. 40:3, which is being quoted in Lk. 3:4, speaks of &ldquo;Prepare ye the way&nbsp;<em>of the Lord</em>&rdquo;, whereas Is. 62:10 speaks of &ldquo;Prepare ye the way&nbsp;<em>of the people</em>&rdquo;. Yet tragically, the way / path of Israel was not the way / path of the Lord (Ez. 18:25).</p> <p>There was an intensity and critical urgency about John and his message. John urged people to make their path &ldquo;straight&rdquo;- using a Greek word elsewhere translated &ldquo;immediately&rdquo;, &ldquo;forthwith&rdquo; (Lk. 3:4 s.w. Mk. 1:12,28 and often). Getting things straight in our lives is a question of immediate response. He warns people to &ldquo;flee from the wrath to come&rdquo; (Lk. 3:7). This was what their changed lives and baptisms were to be about- a fleeing from the wrath to come. He speaks as if that &ldquo;wrath to come&rdquo; is just about to come, it&rsquo;s staring them in the face like a wall of forest fire, and they are to flee away from it. And yet Paul (in one of his many allusions to John&rsquo;s message, which perhaps he had heard himself &lsquo;live&rsquo;) speaks of &ldquo;the wrath to come&rdquo; as being the wrath of the final judgment (1 Thess. 1:10), or possibly that of AD70 (1 Thess. 2:16). But both those events would not have come upon the majority of John&rsquo;s audience. And the day of &lsquo;wrath to come&rsquo; is clearly ultimately to be at the Lord&rsquo;s return (Rev. 6:17; 11:18). Yet John zooms his hearers forward in time, to perceive that they face condemnation and judgment day right now, as they hear the call of the Gospel. This was a feature of John; he had the faith which sees things which are not as though they already are. Thus he looked at Jesus walking towards him and commented that here was the &ldquo;Lamb of God&rdquo;, a phrase the Jews would&rsquo;ve understood as referring to the lamb which was about to be sacrificed on Passover (Jn. 1:29). John presumably was referencing the description of the crucified Jesus in Is. 53:7; for John, he foresaw it all, it was as if he saw Jesus as already being led out to die, even though that event was over three years distant. And so he could appeal to his audience to face judgment day as if they were standing there already. We need to have the same perspective.</p> <p>John the Baptist's ministry was so that the 'crooked' nation of Israel should be 'made straight' and ready to accept Jesus as Messiah (Lk. 3:5). God's enabling power was present so that this might have happened; but the same word is used in Acts 2:40 and Phil. 2:15 to describe Israel as still being a 'crooked' nation. John's preaching, like ours, was potentially able to bring about the conversion of an entire nation. So instead of being discouraged by the lack of response to our witness, let's remember the enormous potential power which there is behind it. Every word, witness of any kind, tract left lying on a seat... has such huge potential conversion power lodged within it, a power from God Himself. John&rsquo;s mission was to prepare Israel for Christ, to figuratively '<em>bring low'&nbsp;</em>the hills and mountains, the proud Jews of first century Israel, and raise the valleys, i.e. inspire the humble with the real possibility of salvation in Christ (Lk. 3:5). Paul uses the same Greek word for &quot;bring low&quot; no fewer than three times, concerning how the Gospel has humbled him (Acts 20:19; 2 Cor. 11:7; Phil. 4:12). It's as if he's saying: 'John's preaching did finally have its&rsquo; effect upon me; it did finally make me humble enough for the Lord Jesus'. And as John made straight paths for men's feet that they might come unto Christ (Mt. 3:3), so did Paul (Heb. 12:13).&nbsp;There was another reason behind John&rsquo;s appeal for repentance. It was that he perceived how eager God is to forgive, and how our acceptance of that forgiveness is His glory and His salvation. John says, quoting Is. 40:5, that if men repent and ready themselves for the Lord&rsquo;s coming, then &ldquo;all flesh shall see the salvation of God&rdquo;. But he is changing the quotation- Isaiah said that all flesh shall see the glory of God. But saving men and women is the thing God glories in.&nbsp;</p> </div> 51140344<p>3:4&nbsp;<em>Now John wore a garment- </em>Lit. 'Had his clothing<em>'. </em>The Greek&nbsp;<em>ekho&nbsp;</em>translated &quot;had&quot; is also translated 'conceive', 'count' and 'take for'. He took himself as Elijah. Clearly John was consciously presenting himself as the Elijah prophet by the way he dressed. He had to make some personal effort to fulfil the prophecies about him. Even if a calling is intended for us by God, we still have to make conscious effort to fulfil it. We can easily overestimate the amount and frequency of Divine contact with Bible characters. It was not so much that John was told 'You are to be the Elijah prophet, now you must dress, act and speak like him!'. The choice of dress, appearance and even location in the wilderness were all probably John's own conscious attempts to be like Elijah, without being specifically asked. We too are set up with Bible characters whom we are asked to follow in essence- for this is why so much of God's word is really history. And there are ways in which the initiative is left with us as to how and how far we follow them.</p> <p><em>Of camel's hair and a leather girdle about his loins</em>- This was not the clothing of the poor- their garments were typically made of goat's hair. Indeed, camel's hair coats were a luxury. We therefore conclude that John was consciously modelling himself on Elijah, who had dressed like this (2 Kings 1:8).</p> <p><em>And his food was locusts and wild honey</em>- Not necessarily from bees, but perhaps tree gum e.g. from the tamarisk tree.</p> 52140355<p>3:5<em> Then Jerusalem, all Judea, and all the region around the Jordan went out to him- </em>These global terms such as 'all Judaea' clearly aren't literal- people from all Judaea went out to John. Perhaps John set up his place of witness as he did so that those interested had to make some effort to come out to him for baptism, considering that candidates had to make some effort and show some commitment. On the other hand, if he wanted to reach as many people as possible, surely he could've set up his place of preaching and baptism in the city and thereby attracted and saved more people. For not everyone was able to make the long journey down to Jordan and back. One wonders whether he made the same mistake as the historical Elijah, in having too low a view of others. Whatever, his hard hitting message attracted people, so much so that the city dwellers streamed out to him, motivated by the testimony of the others who had been there and returned to share the good news of sin confessed and forgiven and of the coming of the Christ.</p> 53140366<p>3:6&nbsp;<em>And they were baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins</em>- As if they confessed their sins whilst in the water and the baptism process was ongoing.&nbsp;<em>Exomologeho&nbsp;</em>essentially means to agree with, hence the same word is used about 'confessing' in the sense of praising (s.w. Mt. 11:25, Rom. 15:9). To repent, to confess sin, is essentially to agree with God's perspective on our sins. They agreed that they were sinners. Elsewhere, what they did is described as 'the baptism of repentance', of&nbsp;<em>metanoia</em>&nbsp;(Mk. 1:4; Lk. 3:3; Acts 13:24; 19:4).&nbsp;<em>Metanoia</em>&nbsp;strictly means to think again, or legally, a reversal of a legal decision. The legal connotations of the language are developed further in Romans 1-8, which expounds the Gospel in terms of the court room. I have suggested elsewhere that Paul may have heard John preaching, for all Jerusalem went to hear his message, including &quot;many of the Pharisees&quot; (:7), and Paul the Pharisee was living in Jerusalem at the time. This would explain his many allusions to John's teaching, and it could be that the whole legal approach of Romans 1-8 is based upon this language of charge, agreement with the charge and re-thinking of the human case which we meet here, right at the start of the NT Gospel story (see on 3:7&nbsp;<em>The wrath to come</em>&nbsp;to see how Romans uses John's term 10 times). The decision that we are condemned must be agreed with by us, whereas previously we had not agreed with it- considering us to be not that bad as people, victims of circumstance etc. Our re-thinking leads to God's re-thinking and reversal of the judgment against us. Note that the whole sense of the Greek words for 'confessing' and 'repenting' is internal to the human mind. Practical change is not of itself implied in the words. This of course comes as a result of a genuine agreement with the charge of sin and a radical re-thinking. It is not therefore for us to demand repentance from others in terms of external appearance. We cannot judge the secrets of the heart, and are to accept repentance as claimed, seeing that it is a deeply personal and internal affair.&nbsp;</p> 54140377<p>3:7&nbsp;<em>But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming to his baptism, he said to them</em>- Lk. 3:12 records how there &quot;came also publicans to be baptized, and said unto him, Master, what shall we do?&quot;. There is a parallel between desiring baptism and realizing that they must<em> do</em>&nbsp;something concretely in their lives. The baptism process brings us into the realm of God's gracious forgiveness and redemption, and into living contact with the real Christ. There is no way we can be passive to this and do nothing about it. Note that Matthew himself was a publican- this is an example of the Gospel records being a transcript of the message standardly taught by e.g. Matthew.&nbsp;</p> <p><em>You offspring of vipers</em>- This intense, urgent presentation of the ultimate issues of life and death, acceptance and rejection, brought forth a massive response. People lined up for baptism. And John was hardly polite. He called his baptismal candidates a &ldquo;generation of vipers&rdquo;, alluding obviously to the seed of the serpent in Gen. 3:15. Yet his tough line with them, his convicting them of sin, led them to ask what precisely they must do, in order to be baptized. They didn&rsquo;t turn away in offence. They somehow sensed he was for real, and the message he preached couldn&rsquo;t be ignored or shrugged off as the ravings of a fanatic. Time and again we see the same- the very height of the demand of Christ of itself convicts men and women of Him. And it&rsquo;s for this reason that it seems almost &lsquo;easier&rsquo; to convict people of Christ and the need for baptism into Him in societies [e.g. radical Moslem ones] where the price for conversion to Him is death or serious persecution&hellip; than in the easy going Western countries where being &lsquo;Christian&rsquo; is the normal cultural thing to do. The Gospel was presented in different forms by the early preachers, according to their audience. John the Baptist set the pattern in this. Having quoted the prophecy about the need for the rough to be made smooth and the proud to be humbled in order for them to accept Jesus, John &ldquo;said&nbsp;<em>therefore</em>&nbsp;to the multitude&hellip; ye offspring of vipers&rdquo; (Lk. 3:7 RV). He used tough and startling language because that was what the audience required. He had set his aims- to humble the proud. And so he used &ldquo;therefore&rdquo; appropriate approaches. The early preachers as Paul became all things to all men, so that they might win some. They therefore consciously matched their presentation and&nbsp;<em>how</em>&nbsp;they articulated the same basic truths to their audience. But perhaps even his comment &ldquo;Generation of vipers&rdquo; was said with a heart of love and appeal, reflecting the &ldquo;heart of mercy&rdquo; which he had come to know in the Father. He was &ldquo;the friend of the bridegroom&rdquo; (Jn. 3:29)- the one who introduced the groom to the bride and arranged the marriage and then the wedding. John&rsquo;s &ldquo;Generation of vipers&rdquo; stuff was all part of his attempt to persuade the bride, Israel, to accept the groom, the Lord Jesus. He wasn&rsquo;t angrily moralizing, lashing out at society as many a dysfunctional preacher does today, working out his own anger by criticizing and condemning society in the name of God. No, John was appealing. He had an agenda and an aim- to bring Israel and the Son of God together in marriage.</p> <p><em>Who warned you</em>- The Greek means to exemplify, to 'exhibit under the eyes', and can imply that John had himself shown them the way of repentance by having done so himself. John the Baptist rhetorically asked his hearers: &ldquo;Who hath warned you to flee from the wrath to come?&rdquo; (Mt. 3:7). The answer, of course, was &lsquo;Well, you, John&rsquo;. And John continues: &ldquo;Bring forth&nbsp;<em>therefore</em>&nbsp;[i.e., because I am the one who taught you] fruits meet for repentance&rdquo;. John recognizes that his converts will be after his image in one sense; as Paul put it, what his hearers had heard and seen in him as he preached, they were to do. So I suggest the emphasis should be on the word 'who', rather than on the word 'you'. The sense is not 'You lot of sinners? Ha! And where did you lot hear of the need for repentance!'. Rather is it a rhetorical question. Who warned them to flee from the wrath to come? John himself. Here we see another window onto the humility of John in his appeal. He is saying that he too has confessed and repented of his sins, and he knew this was witnessed in his life. And he asks the legalistic Pharisees to follow his example. John was asking them to repent of their legalism and accept Jesus as Messiah, and it would seem that John had had to pass through that very same path himself, freeing himself from the Essene's legalism which it seems he had got associated with. And Elijah, John's role model, was another man who was led to repent of exclusivism and legalism. The point is clinched by a look at the Greek word translated 'warned'. It literally means to exhibit, to exemplify. John was the pattern for them. And if Paul was indeed amongst that crowd of cynical Pharisees, Paul was ultimately John's most stellar convert, although little did he realize it at the time. The same can happen with our preaching. We may make converts years after our death. And the lesson comes home clearly, that the preacher or the teacher is to be the living embodiment of his or her message, the word being preached made flesh in the preacher.</p> <p><em>To flee from the anger to come</em>- A common idea of Paul's especially in his letter to the Romans (Rom. 1:18; 2:5,8; 3:5; 4:15; 5:9; 9:22;12:19; 13:4,5). 1 Thess. 2:16 surely alludes here in speaking of how the wrath has come upon the orthodox Jews. See on 3:6. In Mt. 23:33 Jesus seems to say that it is now impossible for that group to flee the coming wrath. Even in this life the frame of opportunity can come to an end before death.</p> <p>Paul alluded to some parts of the Gospels much more than others. An example of this is the way in which he alluded so extensively to the passages related to John the Baptist. I would suggest that the reason for this is that he saw John as somehow his hero, one for whom he had a deep respect. In doing so he was sharing the estimation of his Lord, who also saw John as one of the greatest believers. There are many 'unconscious' links between Paul's writings and the records of John, indicating how deeply the example and words of John were in Paul's mind (e.g. Mt. 3:7 = 1 Thess. 1:10; 5:9; Jn. 3:31 = 1 Cor. 15:47). Or consider how John said that wicked Jewry would be &quot;hewn down&quot; (Mt. 3:10); Paul uses the very same word to describe how the Jewish branches had now been &quot;cut off&quot; (Rom. 11:22,24). Paul saw himself as being like the best man, who had betrothed the believers to Christ (2 Cor. 11:2,3)- just as John had described himself as the friend of the bridegroom (Jn. 3:28). Or again, reflect how Paul's mention of John in Acts 13:24,25 apparently adds nothing to his argument; it seems out of context. But it surely indicates the degree to which John was never far below the surface in Paul's thinking. &nbsp;</p> 55140388<p>3:8<em> Bring forth therefore fruit worthy of repentance</em>-It seems likely that Paul went to hear John the Baptist preach; &quot;there went out to him all the land of Judea and they of Jerusalem&quot; (Mk. 1:5), and at this time Paul was living in Jerusalem. I believe Paul heard John and was convicted by him of Christ. John preached the need to &quot;bring forth fruits meet unto repentance&quot; (Mt. 3:8); and Paul made those his own watchwords in his world-wide preaching (Acts 26:20)- Paul describes his preaching in language which is directly alluding to how John preached. As John said that he was&nbsp;<em>sent</em>&nbsp;to baptize, but especially to witness of Christ (Jn. 1:33), so Paul felt that he too was&nbsp;<em>sent to baptize</em>, but his emphasis was more on the preaching of Christ than physically baptizing (1 Cor. 1:17).</p> <p>&ldquo;Bring forth therefore fruit worthy of repentance&quot; must be connected with our Lord's description of the Gentile believers as &quot;a nation bringing forth the (vineyard) fruits&quot; of the Kingdom (Mt. 21:43). These are defined in Rom. 14:17: &quot;The Kingdom of God is... righteousness, and peace, and joy&quot;. Christ's parable of the vine in Jn. 15 explains that it is the word abiding in us which brings forth fruit. Bringing forth fruit is therefore a way of life (cp. Rom. 6:21,22). In each aspect in which we 'bear fruit', we have in a sense 'repented'. Our repentance and fruit-bearing is not something which we can set time limits on within this life. Christ would have been satisfied if Israel had borne at least some immature fruit (Lk. 13:7). Only when there is no fruit at all, in any aspect of spiritual life, will Christ reject us. Some will bear more fruit than others- some sixty, some an hundredfold. Mt. 3:8 connects repentance with fruit bearing. This shows that God may recognize&nbsp;<em>degrees</em>&nbsp;of repentance and response to His word, as He recognizes degrees of fruit bearing. It is far too simplistic for us to label some of our brethren as having repented and others as being totally unrepentant. In any case, the fruits of repentance are brought forth unto&nbsp;<em>God</em>, not necessarily to fellow believers (Rom. 7:4). There is a marked dearth of evidence to show that a believer must prove his repentance in outward terms before his brethren can accept him.&nbsp;The &ldquo;fruits&rdquo; John had in mind are made more explicit in Luke 3. In order to prepare the way of the Lord, to make a level passage for Him, the man with two coats should give to him who had none, and likewise share his food (Lk. 3:11). So the &lsquo;equality&rsquo; and levelling was to be one of practical care for others. We have to ask, how often we have shared our food, clothing or money with those who don&rsquo;t have&hellip; for this is all part of preparing for the Lord&rsquo;s coming. It could even be that when there is more of what Paul calls &ldquo;an equality&rdquo; amongst the community of believers, that then the way of the Lord will have been prepared. And He will then return.</p> <p>And yet despite the demand for &ldquo;fruit&rdquo;, John the Baptist showed a spirit of concession to human weakness in his preaching. He told the publicans: &ldquo;Extort no more than that which is appointed you&rdquo; (Lk. 3:13 RV). He tacitly accepted that these men would be into extortion. But within limits, he let it go. Likewise he told soldiers to be content with their wages- not to quit the job. And seeing there were no Roman Legions in Judaea at his time [Josephus,&nbsp;<em>Antiquities</em>&nbsp;18.5.1], these were likely Jewish soldiers. He didn&rsquo;t tell them to quit their jobs, but to live with integrity within those jobs. He told the soldiers to be content with their wages- implying he expected them to not throw in their job. This is juxtaposed with the command for them to do no violence. But not grumbling about wages was as fundamental an issue for John as not doing physical violence to people. To have as Paul put it &ldquo;Godliness with contentment&rdquo; [another of his allusions to John&rsquo;s preaching?] is as important as not doing violence. And yet our tendency is to think that moaning about our wages is a perfectly normal and acceptable thing to do, whereas violence is of an altogether different order. It&rsquo;s like Paul hitting the Corinthians for their divisiveness, when if we&rsquo;d been writing to them we would likely have focused upon their immorality and false doctrine. John would have been far less demanding had he simply told the publicans and soldiers to quit their jobs. By asking them to continue, and yet to live out their lives within those jobs with Godly principles, He was being far more demanding. John places complaining about wages [a common human fault] in juxtaposition with doing violence to others (Lk. 3:14)- to show that in his serious call to a devout and holy life, there are no such things as little sins. Ez. 16:49,50 defines the sins of Sodom as including &ldquo;pride, fullness of bread, and abundance of idleness, neither did she strengthen the hand of the poor&hellip; they were haughty, and committed abomination&rdquo;. The abomination of their sexual perversion is placed last in the list, as if to emphasize that all the other sins were just as much sin. Likewise Paul writes to the Corinthians about their failures, but he doesn&rsquo;t start where I would have started- with their drunkenness at the memorial meeting. Instead he starts off with their disunity. Those things which we may consider as lesser sins, the Bible continually lists together with those things we have been conditioned into thinking are the greater sins. Clearest of all is the way Paul lists schism and hatred in his lists of sins that will exclude from the Kingdom. The Anglo-Saxon worldview has taught that sexual sin is so infinitely far worse than a bit of argument within a church. But is this really right&hellip;?</p> 56140399<p>3:9&nbsp;<em>And think not to say within yourselves</em>- Always the Biblical emphasis is upon internal thought processes and the need to be aware of them. John's great convert Paul several times uses the same device in his letters- foreseeing the likely thought process in response to his message, and answering it ahead of time (e.g. 1 Cor. 15:35).</p> <p><em>We have Abraham as our father, for I say to you, that God is able from these stones to raise up children to Abraham</em>- Said perhaps pointing to the stones. Perhaps they were the 12 stones set up after the Jordan crossing (Josh. 3 and 4). There is a word play between&nbsp;<em>avanim</em>, stones, and&nbsp;<em>banim, </em>sons.&nbsp;<em>Avanim</em>, stones, in turn sounds like&nbsp;<em>evyonim</em>, the term for the poor, the social outcasts- these were the &quot;stones&quot; which were being accepted into the covenant of grace.&nbsp;</p> 5714031010<p>3:10<em> And even now the axe lies at the root of the trees. Therefore, every tree that does not bring forth good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire- </em>John's words about cutting down the fruitless tree are directly quoted by the Lord Jesus in Mt. 7:17-19; 12:33- as if to show His solidarity with John's teaching. Perhaps the Lord Jesus had heard these very words being preached by John when He went to be baptized by him. &quot;Now [also]&quot;, right now; John felt that the day of Christ's judgment was very close. The language of gathering grain into the barn and burning the chaff is used by the Lord concerning the future judgment at His second coming (Mt. 13:30). John saw the Lord Jesus as already having the winnowing fork in His hand (:13), meaning that in essence, judgment began with the ministry of Jesus. In essence, we stand before His judgment right now. Judgment day is not some unknown future entity which has no connection with this life.&nbsp;</p> 5814031111<p>3:11<em>&nbsp;I indeed baptize you in water to repentance, but he that comes after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to carry. He shall baptize you in the Holy Spirit and fire</em>- Christ &quot;shall baptize&nbsp;<em>you</em>&quot; plural was deeply meditated upon by Paul, until he came to see in the fact that we&nbsp;<em>plural</em>&nbsp;are baptized the strong implication that therefore we should be one body, without unnecessary divisions (= 1 Cor. 12:13).</p> <p>John prophesied that the disciples would be baptized with fire (Mt 3:11); this was fulfilled by tongues of Spirit descending which looked like fire (Acts 2:3). Evidently this was not literal fire or else it would not have rested on the heads of the disciples. So the words of Matthew 3:11 spoke of how things would&nbsp;<em>appear&nbsp;</em>to the disciples, without saying so explicitly.</p> <p>John described himself as a preacher of Christ who was not &quot;worthy&quot; to do so. The same Greek word is used by Paul when he says he is &quot;not&nbsp;<em>meet</em>&nbsp;(s.w.) to be called an apostle&quot; (1 Cor. 15:9); and that it was God's grace alone that had made him an &quot;<em>able</em>&nbsp;(s.w. &quot;worthy&quot;) minister of the Gospel&quot; (2 Cor. 13:6). He knew that his &quot;<em>sufficiency</em>&quot; (s.w. &quot;worthy&quot;) to give knowledge of salvation (John language- Lk. 1:77), to be a preacher, was from God alone (2 Cor. 2:16; 3:5); and that in fact this was true of&nbsp;<em>all</em>&nbsp;preachers. But do we really feel like this in our preaching? John was a burning and shining light to the world (Jn. 5:35), just as we should be (Phil. 2:15). And therefore, if we are to witness as John did, we need to have the humility of John in our preaching. He was 'in the Truth' from a baby, he lived a spiritual, self-controlled life. And yet he had this great sense of personal sinfulness and unworthiness as a preacher. It's difficult for those raised Christian to have the sense of sinfulness which Paul had, and thereby to have his zeal for preaching. But actually his zeal was a reflection of John's; and John was a 'good boy', brought up in the Faith. Yet he had a burning sense of his spiritual inadequacy. Anglo-Saxon Christianity urgently needs to capture his spirit.&nbsp; Truly Paul 'bore' Christ to the world just as John 'bore' (s.w.) Christ's Gospel (Acts 9:15 = Mt. 3:11). If ever a man was hard on himself, it was John the Baptist. His comment on his preaching of Christ was that he was not worthy (RVmg. &lsquo;sufficient&rsquo;) to bear Christ's sandals (Mt. 3:11). The sandal-bearer was the herald; John knew he was heralding Christ's appearing, but he openly said he was not worthy to do this. He felt his insufficiency, as we ought to ours. Would we had that depth of awareness; for on the brink of the Lord's coming, we are in a remarkably similar position to John. Paul perhaps directs us back to John when he says that we are not &ldquo;sufficient&rdquo; to be the savour of God to this world; and yet we are made sufficient to preach by God (2 Cor. 2:16; 3:5,6 RV). To carry the master&rsquo;s sandals (Mt. 3:11) was, according to Vine, the work of the lowest slave. This was how John saw himself; and this is what witnessing for Jesus is all about, being the lowest slave and servant of the Lord of glory. It's interesting in this context to note how the Lord Jesus states that in some sense, John 'was Elijah', whereas he himself denies this (Mt. 11:14; 17:12; Mk. 9:13). Such was his humility.</p> <p>For baptizing in water unto repentance, see note on Mt. 3:3 above. Given that Isaiah 40 offered forgiveness in order to provoke repentance, it could be that the AV translation is correct- although&nbsp;<em>eis</em>&nbsp;[&quot;unto&quot;] has a very wide range of meaning. John baptized in order to lead people to repentance, rather than baptizing only those who had repented and got their lives in order. Even the NET Bible's &quot;baptize... for repentance&quot; could be read the same way- baptism was for the end of provoking repentance, rather than being baptism only for the visibly repentant. This likelihood is strengthened once we realize that there is surely an allusion here to Wisdom 11:23: &quot;You overlook the sins of men, unto repentance&quot;. Repentance in any case is an internal attitude (see on 3:6), and John as he stood in the Jordan River was totally incapable of judging whether or not in practice his hearers had actually changed their lives. He baptized them because they had confessed their sins and re-thought, re-pented. Not because they had actually changed in practical, ongoing lifestyle issues. Likewise the apostles who baptized 3000 people in Acts 2 had no way of measuring repentance in practice. Mk. 1:15 records John&rsquo;s message as being: &ldquo;Repent ye and believe the Gospel&quot;. This might seem to be in the wrong order- for we have come to think that surely belief of the Gospel comes before repentance. And so it does very often- but there is another option here- that the repentance is ongoing. Life after conversion is a life of believing the basic Gospel which led us to conversion and repentance in the first place.&nbsp;&nbsp;</p> <p><em>&quot;</em>He shall baptize you&quot; points up the contrast is between John baptizing unto repentance, and Jesus baptizing with the Holy Spirit. The contrast is between 'repentance' and 'the Holy Spirit'. I suggest that the idea is that the gift of the Holy Spirit would empower repentance and new-mindedness far more than what was achieved by unaided, steel-willed human repentance.</p> 5914031212<p>3:12&nbsp;<em>Whose fan is in his hand, and he will thoroughly cleanse his threshing-floor and he will gather his wheat into the barn; but the chaff he will burn up with unquenchable fire</em>- &quot;He (Jesus) shall baptize you with the Holy Spirit (even) with fire: whose fan is in his hand, and... he will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire&quot; (Mt. 3:11,12). John put a choice before them: fire, or fire. Either we are consumed with the fire of devotion to God, or we face the figurative fire of condemnation. This is the logic of judgment. John says that the axe is laid to the root of the trees; his hearers were about to be cut down and thrown into the fire of condemnation. And He says that the Jesus whom he heralds is about to come and divide the wheat from the chaff in judgment, gathering in the wheat, and burning the chaff with &ldquo;unquenchable fire&rdquo; (Lk. 3:17). But the &lsquo;fire&rsquo; of condemnation and the division of wheat and chaff is to be done ultimately at the Lord&rsquo;s second coming (Mt. 13:30; Mk. 9:48). But for John, the moment his audience met Jesus, they were standing before the Lord of judgment, the Judge of all the earth. In their response to Him, they were living out the final judgment. And this is just as true of us, both as preachers and hearers of the Gospel. The message that the Lord will &quot;burn with unquenchable fire&quot; those who reject Him is described as preaching &quot;good tidings unto the people&quot; (Lk. 3:18 RV). Likewise the stark teaching about the mortality of man in Is. 40 is quoted in 1 Pet. as being the Gospel. The harder side of God is in fact the good news for those who reflect deeply upon the essential message and nature of the Almighty. In Jer. 26:2, Jeremiah is warned to &ldquo;diminish not a word, if so be&hellip;&rdquo; Israel may repent. His temptation of course was to water down the message which he had to deliver. But only the harder, more demanding side of God might elicit response in them. By making the message less demanding, it wouldn&rsquo;t have any chance of eliciting a response.</p> 6014031313<p>3:13 <em>Then Jesus went from Galilee to the Jordan, to John, to be baptized by him</em>- John's ministry was known throughout the Lord; perhaps the Lord travelled with others, some who would later become His disciples; this of itself was an act of identity with the humanity of first century Palestine.</p> 6114031414<p>3:14 <em>But John would have stopped him, saying: I need to be baptized by you, and yet you come to me?</em>- There had clearly been contact between the Lord and John; John had not literally remained his whole life in the wilderness. Or if he did, then the Lord had travelled out there to meet him. His limited contact with the Lord had persuaded him that He was Messiah; for he wanted the Lord to baptize him. Baptism was something which it was expected would be done either by the Elijah prophet or Messiah (Jn. 1:25).&nbsp;</p> 6214031515<p>3:15&nbsp;<em>But Jesus answering said to him-&nbsp;</em>The sensitivity of the Lord is reflected in how He frequently sensed and foresaw human behaviour and objections / response to His teaching and actions. You can read the Gospels and search for examples. Here&rsquo;s a classic one: &ldquo;But John would have hindered [Jesus]&hellip; but Jesus answering said&hellip;&rdquo; (Mt. 3:14 RV). Jesus &lsquo;answered&rsquo; John&rsquo;s objection even before John had properly expressed it (see another example of this in Lk. 22:70).</p> <p><em>Permit it now, for thus it becomes us to fulfil all righteousness. Then he permitted him</em>- Maybe the Lord Jesus felt that this act of total identification with sinners in their need was necessary for Him to achieve perfect / total righteousness. And He needed John's assistance in this- &quot;it becomes&nbsp;<em>us</em>&quot;.&nbsp; He was baptized in order to be absolutely perfect, and that perfection involved the act of identification with sinners in order to totally identify with them. Perfection will never be achieved by holding aloof from sinners, but rather by identification with them that they might be saved. The reason for Jesus being baptized was surely that He wanted to identify with sinful man, taking His place in the line of mixed up folk waiting on the banks of the Jordan.&nbsp;</p> 6314031616<p>3:16<em> And Jesus when he was baptized immediately came up out of the water, and the heavens were opened to him and he saw the Spirit of God descending as a dove and coming to rest on him</em>- Sometimes God indicates from what perspective the record is written; at other times He doesn&rsquo;t. Thus Matthew 3:16 makes it clear that the Lord saw Heaven opened at his baptism, and the Spirit descending like a dove. But Luke 3:21-22 just says that &ldquo;the heaven was opened, and the Holy Spirit descended&rdquo;. Luke doesn&rsquo;t say that this is only what happened from the Lord&rsquo;s perspective. This problem of perspective is at the root of the misunderstanding of the demon language in the Gospels.</p> <p>&quot;To Him&quot; suggests that only the Lord Jesus saw this, although John too saw the dove descending and heard the voice (Jn. 1:33). But He uses the same language in Jn. 1:51: &quot;Hereafter&nbsp;<em>you</em>&nbsp;shall see Heaven open, and the Angels of God... descending&quot;, just as He had seen the heavens opened and the dove descending upon Him. His sense was that His experience at baptism was in essence to be that of all in Him. This connection lends weight to the idea that His baptism was an act of identification with us, He shared our experience and we are to share His. Likewise the Spirit 'lighted' upon Jesus at His baptism, and the only other time we find this idea is when He promised that although we know not from whence the Spirit 'lights' [&quot;comes&quot;], it will indeed 'light' upon every one that is born of water and Spirit (Jn. 3:8). The same term is used in Acts 19:6, where after baptism the Spirit 'lighted upon' those baptized. Thus the believer's baptism is spoken of in terms reminiscent of the Lord's. He was baptized to set us an example, identifying with us in order to appeal for us to likewise identify with Him.&nbsp;</p> 6414031717<p>3:17&nbsp;<em>And a voice came from the heavens, saying: This is My beloved Son</em>- Surely an allusion to Gen. 22:2 (LXX), where the sacrificed Isaac was Abraham's beloved son.</p> <p><em>In whom I am well pleased</em>- Combining references to Ps. 2:7 and Is. 42:1. Klausner: &quot;In whom I shall be blessed&quot;. Quoted about the Lord also in Mt. 12:18; 17:5. The contrast is with how the Father was not &quot;well pleased&quot; with Israel when they were in the wilderness (1 Cor. 10:5); but He was well pleased with His Son in the wilderness. Many prophecies about Israel, the 'servant' of Isaiah's prophecies, come true in Jesus. God's plan in Israel failed due to their disobedience, but the intention behind it came true in Jesus; He was the Son who fulfilled the Father's wishes after Israel failed Him. Jesus thus became the embodiment of Israel; He was their representative before God. It is in this context that the representative nature of the Lord Jesus was first established; He was God's Son who was fully representative of Israel. It is thereby through Him that Israel can be finally restored to their Father.</p> 65140411<p><span style="font-size: 12pt;">:1&nbsp;</span><i style="font-size: 12pt;">Then was Jesus led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the Devil- </i><span style="font-size: 12pt;">The Lord Jesus was led of the Spirit at His time of testing; and Paul uses just those words of us in our present experience of trial (Rom. 8:14). &nbsp;His victory in the wilderness therefore becomes a living inspiration for us, who are tempted as He was (Heb. 4:15,16). Note how Mark speaks of Jesus being 'driven' at this time. Being driven by circumstances can be a form of leading- it just depends which perspective we have.</span></p> <p>Commentary on what this passage does <i>not</i> mean can be found in my <a href="http://www.realdevil.info/5-8.htm"><i><span style="font-size:12.0pt;Verdana&quot;,sans-serif;Times New Roman&quot;;Times New Roman&quot;;color:#42413C;">The Real Devil</span></i></a><span style="font-size: 12pt;">.</span></p> 66140422<p><span style="font-size: 12pt;">4:2 </span><i style="font-size: 12pt;">And when he had fasted forty days and forty nights, afterwards he hungered</i><span style="font-size: 12pt;">- The only other two men recorded as doing this are Moses and Elijah (Ex. 34:28; 1 Kings 19:8). The Lord chose to seek to enter into their experience; it was presumably His decision to fast for this period. And the Father responded to that by giving Him the encouraging vision of those same two men at the transfiguration. We see here how God is in dialogue with man; if we wish to identify with some Bible character, the Father will respond His side to enable us to do so yet more.</span></p> <p>With His familiarity with Scripture, Christ would have seen the similarities between Himself and Elijah, whose morale collapsed after 40 days in the wilderness (1 Kings 19: 8) and Moses, who forfeited his immediate inheritance of the land at the end of 40 years in the wilderness. Jesus at the end of 40 days, was in a similar position to them - faced with a real possibility of failure. Moses and Elijah failed because of human weakness - not because of a person called &ldquo;the devil&rdquo;. It was this same human weakness, the &ldquo;satan&rsquo;, or adversary, that was tempting Jesus.</p> <div style="line-height:normal"><span style="font-size: 12pt;">The temptations were controlled by God for the Lord&rsquo;s spiritual education. The passages quoted by the Lord to strengthen Himself against His desires (&ldquo;devil&rdquo;) are all from the same part of Deuteronomy, regarding Israel&rsquo;s experience in the wilderness. Jesus clearly saw a parallel between His experiences and theirs: - <p></p> <p> <table border="1" cellspacing="3" cellpadding="0"> <tbody> <tr> <td width="293" valign="top" style="width:146.5pt;padding:.75pt .75pt .75pt .75pt"> <div style="line-height:normal"><span style="font-size: 12pt;">Deuteronomy 8:2 &ldquo;The Lord thy God led thee these forty years in the wilderness to humble thee, and to prove thee, to know what was in thine heart, whether thou wouldest keep His commandments (word), or no.&rdquo;</span></div> </td> <td width="402" valign="top" style="width:201.0pt;padding:.75pt .75pt .75pt .75pt"> <div style="line-height:normal"><span style="font-size: 12pt;">Matthew 4 / Luke 4 &ldquo;Jesus led up of the spirit&rdquo; &ldquo;forty days&rdquo; &ldquo;in the wilderness&rdquo;. Jesus was proved by the temptations. Jesus overcame by quoting the Scriptures that were in His heart (Ps. 119:11), thus showing it was the Scriptures that were in His heart. </span></div> </td> </tr> <tr> <td width="293" valign="top" style="width:146.5pt;padding:.75pt .75pt .75pt .75pt"> <div style="line-height:normal"><span style="font-size: 12pt;">Deuteronomy 8:3. &ldquo;And he humbled thee, and suffered thee to hunger, and fed thee with manna... that He might make thee know that man doth not live by bread only, but by every word...of the Lord...&rdquo;</span></div> </td> <td width="402" valign="top" style="width:201.0pt;padding:.75pt .75pt .75pt .75pt"> <div style="line-height:normal"><span style="font-size: 12pt;">&ldquo;He was afterward an hungered&quot;. In John 6 manna is interpreted by Jesus as representing the Word of God, which Jesus lived by in the wilderness. Jesus learnt that spiritually He lived by the Word of God. &ldquo;He answered...it is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word ...of God&rdquo;.,</span></div> </td> </tr> <tr> <td width="293" valign="top" style="width:146.5pt;padding:.75pt .75pt .75pt .75pt"> <div style="line-height:normal"><span style="font-size: 12pt;">Deuteronomy 8:5 &ldquo;Thou shalt also consider in thine heart, that, as a man chasteneth his son, so the Lord thy God chasteneth thee&rdquo;</span></div> </td> <td width="402" valign="top" style="width:201.0pt;padding:.75pt .75pt .75pt .75pt"> <div style="line-height:normal"><span style="font-size: 12pt;">Jesus no doubt reflected on His experiences. God chastened His Son, Jesus- 2 Sam. 7:12; Ps. 89: 32.</span></div> </td> </tr> </tbody> </table> </p> <p>Thus the Lord showed us how to read and study the Word - He thought Himself into the position of Israel in the wilderness, and therefore took the lessons that can be learnt from their experiences to Himself in His wilderness trials. The description of the Lord Jesus as being in the wilderness with beasts and Angels (Mk. 1:13) is another connection with Israel&rsquo;s experience in the wilderness- they were plagued there by &ldquo;wild beasts&rdquo; because of their disobedience (Dt. 32:19-24 and context).&nbsp;</p> </span></div> 67140433<p><span style="font-size: 12pt;">4:3 </span><i style="font-size: 12pt;">And the tempter came and said to him- </i><span style="font-size: 12pt;">Matthew's record speaks of &quot;the tempter&quot;, and the suggestion has been made that this was a technical term used to refer to the Essene priest whose duty it was to test the claims to Messiahship made by people (5). This would confirm the suggestion that the Lord's temptations were at the hands of the Jews. The desert where He was would've been accessible from the Qumran settlement of the Essenes, and the preceding chapter 3 of Matthew has recorded how many of these people appear to have accepted baptism from John the Baptist in the very area where the temptations occurred. Perhaps &quot;the tempter&quot; priest stayed around and entered into dialogue with Jesus. In confirmation of the idea that the &quot;devil&quot; was some form of Jewish priestly figure, we note that Mt. 4:4 records that Jesus told him that &quot;It is </span><i style="font-size: 12pt;">written</i><span style="font-size: 12pt;">...&quot;. To the illiterate, Jesus usually said that they would have </span><i style="font-size: 12pt;">heard</i><span style="font-size: 12pt;"> something </span><i style="font-size: 12pt;">said</i><span style="font-size: 12pt;"> in the Old Testament; but to the literate Jewish religious leadership, He prefaces His quotations or allusions by saying that &quot;It is </span><i style="font-size: 12pt;">written</i><span style="font-size: 12pt;">&quot;. The fact He uses this phrase here would suggest He may have been talking to one of that class. The Wisdom of Solomon 2:12-20&nbsp;has a surprising number of similarities to the Lord&rsquo;s life and death amongst the Jews, suggesting that they did indeed subject Him to tests of His Messiahship:</span></p> <p>&ldquo;Let us lie in wait for the virtuous man, since he annoys us and opposes our way of life, reproaches us for our breaches of the law an accuses us of playing false...he claims to have knowledge of God, and calls himself a son of the Lord. Before us he stands, a reproof to our way of thinking, the very sight of him weighs our spirits down; His way of life is not like other men&rsquo;s... in His opinion we are counterfeit... and boasts of having God as His father. let us see if what he says is true, let us observe what kind of end he himself will have. If the virtuous man is God&rsquo;s son, God will take his part and rescue him from the clutches of his enemies<i>. Let us test him with cruelty and with torture, and thus explore this gentleness of His and put His endurance to the proof. Let us condemn him to a shameful death</i> since he will be looked after- we have his word for it&quot; (Susan Garrett lists several Greek words and phrases found in the Gospel of Mark which are identical to those in this section of the Wisdom of Solomon. It would seem that Mark was aware of this passage in the Wisdom of Solomon, and sought to show how throughout the Lord's ministry, and especially in His death, the Jews were seeking to apply it to Him in the way they treated Him. See Susan Garrett, <i>The Temptations Of Jesus In Mark's Gospel</i> (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1998) p. 68.).</p> <p>Every other use of the word &quot;tempter&quot; in Matthew is about the temptation / testing of Jesus by the Jewish leadership (Mt. 16:1; 19:3; 22:18,35); and that very group are presented as the 'satan' or adversary to the Lord Jesus and His work. There is nothing sinful of itself about putting someone to the test. The same word is used about Jesus putting the disciples to the test (Jn. 6:6); Paul tested / put to the test [s.w., A.V. &quot;assayed&quot;] the idea of preaching in Bithynia (Acts 16:7); we are to put ourselves to the test (2 Cor. 13:5); God put Abraham to the test (Heb. 11:17), false apostles were to be put to the test by the faithful (Rev. 2:2). It ought to be clear that there is nothing sinister nor sinful about the idea of being 'put to the test' nor of putting another to the test.&nbsp;</p> <p>If you are the Son of God, command that these stones become bread - It's perhaps noteworthy that in the wilderness temptation, the Lord responds to the &quot;If you are the Son of&nbsp;<i>God</i>...&quot; by quoting Dt. 8:3 &quot;<i>man</i>&nbsp;shall not live by bread alone&quot;- and the Jonathan Targum has&nbsp;<i>bar nasha</i>&nbsp;[son of man] here for &quot;man&quot;. If we are correct in understanding those wilderness temptations as the Lord's internal struggles, we see Him tempted to wrongly focus upon His being Son of<i> God</i>, forgetting His humanity; and we see Him overcoming this temptation, preferring instead to perceive Himself as Son of&nbsp;<i>man</i>. The&nbsp;<i>if... then</i>&nbsp;structure here (a 'first class conditional') effectively means 'Because...' (See Craig A. Evans,&nbsp;<i>Matthew</i>&nbsp;(Cambridge: C.U.P., 2012) p. 83). In this case, we are clearly being given an insight into the internal thinking of the Lord Jesus. 'Because You are Son of God, why not...'. A truly human Jesus would inevitably have had such thoughts, and the record here makes that clear. Seeing that Mary appears to have become somewhat influenced by the surrounding view of Jesus as her illegitimate son, it's likely the Lord too had moments when He wondered whether this could all be true- whether He really was God's Son.&nbsp;</p> <p>Command that these stones become bread<span style="font-size: 12pt;">- This would not in itself have been a sin if He had agreed to it. But it would have been choosing a lower level, by breaking His fast. But the next temptations were to actually sin. If He had agreed to the first suggestion, obedience to the next ones would have been harder. It could even be argued that to put the Lord to the test was permissible on a lower level- for passages like Ps. 34:8 and Mal. 3:10 almost encourage it for those with a weak faith. Gideon likewise put the Lord to the test and was answered. But the Lord chose the higher level: and He knew Scripture which could support it. But the fact He chose the highest level first of all, meant that He was better able to take the higher level again, and to finally overcome the third temptation, which was definitely a clear choice between right and wrong. More than this, anything other than a desire to make the highest maximum commitment can lead to failure. &ldquo;The heart of the wise inclines to the right, but the heart of the fool to the left&rdquo; (Ecc. 10:2 NIV) has been understood as referring not so much to right and wrong, good and evil, as to the highest good and lesser good (cp. how the left hand can stand for simply lesser blessing rather than outright evil, e.g. Gen. 48:13-20). The fool inclines to lower commitment. The wise will always incline to the maximum, wholehearted level.</span></p> 68140444<p><span style="font-size: 12pt;">4:4 </span><i style="font-size: 12pt;">But he answered and said: It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone but by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God</i><span style="font-size: 12pt;">- The&nbsp;Lord&nbsp;overcame&nbsp;all&nbsp;His&nbsp;temptations&nbsp;by&nbsp;quoting&nbsp;from Deuteronomy, showing that His mind was seeking strength from the words of the Angel leading Israel through the wilderness. There are clear similarities between the Angel's leading of Israel through the wilderness and the Lord's experience in the wilderness:</span></p> <p align="center"> <table border="0" cellspacing="3" cellpadding="0" width="80%" style="width:80.0%;"> <tbody> <tr> <td valign="top" style="padding:0cm 0cm 0cm 0cm"> <div style="margin-bottom:0cm;margin-bottom:.0001pt;line-height:&#10; normal"><b><span style="font-size: 12pt;">Deuteronomy 8&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;</span></b></div> </td> <td valign="top" style="padding:0cm 0cm 0cm 0cm"> <div style="line-height:normal">&nbsp;</div> </td> <td valign="top" style="padding:0cm 0cm 0cm 0cm"> <div style="line-height:normal"><b><span style="font-size: 12pt;">Matthew 4</span></b></div> </td> </tr> <tr> <td valign="top" style="padding:0cm 0cm 0cm 0cm"> <div style="line-height:normal"><span style="font-size: 12pt;">v. 2 &quot;The Lord thy God [an Angel] led you... in the wilderness&quot;</span></div> </td> <td valign="top" style="padding:0cm 0cm 0cm 0cm"> <div style="line-height:normal">&nbsp;</div> </td> <td valign="top" style="padding:0cm 0cm 0cm 0cm"> <div style="line-height:normal"><span style="font-size: 12pt;">v. 1 Jesus led by the spirit (an Angel?) into the wilderness.</span></div> </td> </tr> <tr> <td valign="top" style="padding:0cm 0cm 0cm 0cm"> <div style="line-height:normal"><span style="font-size: 12pt;">Forty years in the wilderness</span></div> </td> <td valign="top" style="padding:0cm 0cm 0cm 0cm"> <div style="line-height:normal">&nbsp;</div> </td> <td valign="top" style="padding:0cm 0cm 0cm 0cm"> <div style="line-height:normal"><span style="font-size: 12pt;">Forty days in the wilderness</span></div> </td> </tr> <tr> <td valign="top" style="padding:0cm 0cm 0cm 0cm"> <div style="line-height:normal"><span style="font-size: 12pt;">v. 3 &quot;He (the Angel who led them in v. 2) suffered you to hunger&quot;.</span></div> </td> <td valign="top" style="padding:0cm 0cm 0cm 0cm"> <div style="line-height:normal">&nbsp;</div> </td> <td valign="top" style="padding:0cm 0cm 0cm 0cm"> <div style="line-height:normal"><span style="font-size: 12pt;">The Angel made Jesus hunger.</span></div> </td> </tr> <tr> <td valign="top" style="padding:0cm 0cm 0cm 0cm"> <div style="line-height:normal"><span style="font-size: 12pt;">The Angel &quot;fed you with manna&quot; (Ps. 78:25)</span></div> </td> <td valign="top" style="padding:0cm 0cm 0cm 0cm"> <div style="line-height:normal">&nbsp;</div> </td> <td valign="top" style="padding:0cm 0cm 0cm 0cm"> <div style="line-height:normal"><span style="font-size: 12pt;">Jesus was tempted to ask the Angel to provide bread as He did to Israel in their testing.</span></div> </td> </tr> <tr> <td valign="top" style="padding:0cm 0cm 0cm 0cm"> <div style="line-height:normal"><span style="font-size: 12pt;">&ldquo;Man does not live by bread alone&quot;</span></div> </td> <td valign="top" style="padding:0cm 0cm 0cm 0cm"> <div style="line-height:normal">&nbsp;</div> </td> <td valign="top" style="padding:0cm 0cm 0cm 0cm"> <div style="line-height:normal"><span style="font-size: 12pt;">v. 4 &quot;Man does not live by bread alone&quot;</span></div> </td> </tr> </tbody> </table> </p> <p>Thus the Lord Jesus surveyed His own experience in the wilderness, and saw that He could take to Himself personally the lessons given to Israel. The Angel led Israel through the wilderness &quot;to prove thee, to know what was in thine heart, whether thou wouldest keep His commandments or no&quot; (Dt. 8:2). God Himself knows anyway, so this must be regarding the Angel, seeking to know the spiritual strength of Israel, as Job's&nbsp;Satan Angel sought to know Job's strength. Similarly, the Lord&rsquo;s&nbsp;Angel led Him into the wilderness, suffering Him to hunger, to humble and&nbsp;prove Him, to reveal His real attitude to the word of God. His quoting of the word to answer the temptations surely proved this to the Angel, especially since the Lord showed Himself so capable of thinking Himself into Scripture, and therefore taking the lessons most powerfully to Himself. The Lord was made to realize the importance of His memory of the word, as He would have later reflected that this was the only way He had overcome- that man spiritually lives by &quot;every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God&quot;. As a result of their wilderness temptations, both Israel and Christ were led to &quot;consider in (their) heart, that, as a man chasteneth his son, so the Lord thy God (the Angel) chasteneth thee&quot;. The chastenings of the Lord spiritually&nbsp;in&nbsp;the&nbsp;wilderness&nbsp;were therefore arranged by the Angels. There did not have to be Angels actually tempting Christ in the wilderness temptations- because they can act directly on a man's heart, they can lead us into temptation. The fact we pray for Him not to implies that He does- through the Angels, as He Himself tempts no man (James 1:13), although the Angels tempted Abraham, and Israel among others. Thus the Angels may arrange an external stimulus, e. g. the fruit of the tree of knowledge, knowing it must produce certain internal desires within us which tempt us. Note how the temptation to throw Himself off the top of the temple was a temptation to misuse Angelic care. He answered it by a quotation which has an Angelic context: &quot;You (Jesus) shall not tempt the Lord your God, as ye tempted Him in Massah&quot; (Dt. 6:16). At Massah the Israelites put the Angel to the test by questioning whether He could provide water (Ex. 17:2-7).</p> 69140455<p><span style="font-size: 12pt;">4:5&nbsp;</span><i style="font-size: 12pt;">Then the Devil took him into the holy city and set him on the pinnacle of the temple</i><span style="font-size: 12pt;">- The Greek for &quot;took him&quot; is often used in a non-literal sense, with the idea of receiving someone into an office or situation. The same word is used in :8 about the Lord being taken up a high mountain. The idea may well be that He was imagining being received into rulership of the Messianic Kingdom, and was wondering whether that would be possible through accepting 'the devil', be it His own flesh or the Jewish system, who humanly speaking seemed able to offer a path to this. Likewise '</span><i style="font-size: 12pt;">set him</i><span style="font-size: 12pt;">' later on in :5 carries the idea of being appointed, established in authority.&nbsp;</span></p> <p>The Synoptics speak of how satan &lsquo;comes to&rsquo; and tempts and challenges the Lord Jesus to claim earthly political power, which &lsquo;satan&rsquo; can give him (Mt. 4:8,9). But John describes this in terms of &ldquo;the people&rdquo; coming to Him and trying to make Him King- which temptation He refused (Jn. 6:15). Likewise it was &lsquo;the devil&rsquo; in the wilderness who tempted Jesus to make the stones into bread. But in Jn. 6:30,31, it is the Jewish people who offer Him the same temptation. In the wilderness, the Lord responded that man lives by the bread which comes from the mouth of God. In Jn. 6:32, He responds likewise by speaking about &ldquo;the true bread from heaven&rdquo;. The temptation from &lsquo;the devil&rsquo; to publicly display His Divine powers in front of Israel in the Jerusalem temple (Mt. 4:5,6; Lk. 4:9-12) is repeated by John in terms of the Lord&rsquo;s brothers tempting Him to go up to the same temple and openly validate Himself &ldquo;to the world&rdquo; (Jn. 7:1-5).&nbsp;</p> 70140466<p><span style="font-size: 12pt;">4:6&nbsp;</span><i style="font-size: 12pt;">And said to him: If you are the Son of God, cast yourself down. For it is written, He shall give His angels charge concerning you, and on their hands they shall carry you up, lest you dash your foot against a stone</i><span style="font-size: 12pt;">- Presumably this was to be taken literally- the Angels physically with Him would have literally held Him under the arms if He jumped from the temple. So we see the literal physical presence of the Angels in our lives. The eyes of God, an evident reference to the Angels, are associated with the temple (1 Kings 8:29; Ps. 11:4; Ps. 5:6-8). The implication surely is that the Angel[s] specifically functioned in the temple / sanctuary. It seems that great stress is placed in Scripture on the Angels physically moving through space, both on the earth and between Heaven and earth, in order to fulfil their tasks, rather than being static in Heaven or earth and bringing things about by just willing them to happen.</span></p> <p>The &lsquo;devil&rsquo; of the Lord&rsquo;s own thoughts tempted Him to apply Ps. 91:11 in a wrong context, and jump off the pinnacle of the temple. But if the Lord had gone on, as surely He did, He would have found the words: &ldquo;Thou shalt tread upon the lion and adder: the young lion and the dragon shalt thou trample under feet&rdquo; (Ps. 91:13). This promise would have been of wonderful comfort, as throughout the wilderness temptations the Lord &ldquo;was with the wild beasts&rdquo; (Mk. 1:13).&nbsp;</p> 71140477<p><span style="font-size: 12pt;">4:7&nbsp;</span><i style="font-size: 12pt;">Jesus said to him: Again it is written, You shall not make trial of the Lord your God</i><span style="font-size: 12pt;">- The Greek effectively means 'On the other hand, it is also written...'. The Lord Jesus did not try to reconcile the two verses, He accepted them as part of a dialectic whereby this verse says that but this verse says this- which is typical Hebrew reasoning. Geek reasoning would seek to explain that this verse says this, but that is qualified by this other verse, so the truth is a mixture between the two verses. The Hebrew style of reasoning leaves apparent contradictions to the Western, Greek reasoning mind. But they are not this at all, just dialectical style.</span></p> 72140488<p><span style="font-size: 12pt;">4:8&nbsp;</span><i style="font-size: 12pt;">Again, the Devil took him to an exceeding high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and the glory of them</i><span style="font-size: 12pt;">- The Greek could be translated 'the very highest', clearly a reference to the time of the Kingdom of God on earth. It can hardly be that a fiendish being took the Lord Jesus literally up the highest mountain (Everest) from where He could see all the world. Nor would being up a tall mountain enable the Lord to see &quot;the glory of them&quot;. Surely a non-literal event is implied here- within the Lord's mind.</span></p> <p>The temptations are hard to take literally:-</p> <p>- Matthew 4:8 implies that Jesus was led up into a high mountain to see all the kingdoms of the world in their future glory, &ldquo;In a moment of time&rdquo;. There is no mountain high enough to see all the world. And why would the height of the mountain enable Jesus to see what the world would be like in the future? The earth, being a sphere, there is no point on its surface from which one can see all the parts of the world at one time.</p> <p>- A comparison of Matthew 4 and Luke 4 shows that the temptations are described in a different order. Mark 11:13 says that Jesus was &ldquo;in the wilderness forty days, tempted of Satan&rdquo;, whilst Matthew 4: 2-3 says that &ldquo;when he had fasted forty days...the tempter (Satan) came to Him...&rdquo;. Because Scripture cannot contradict itself, we can conclude that these same temptations kept repeating themselves. The temptation to turn stones into bread is an obvious example. This would fit nicely if these temptations occurred within the mind of Jesus. Being of our nature, the lack of food would have affected him mentally as well as physically, and thus his mind would have easily begun to imagine things. Just going a few days without food can lead to delirium for some (cp. 1 Sam. 30:12). The similarity between rolls of bread and stones is mentioned by Jesus in Mt. 7: 9, and doubtless those images often merged in his tortured mind - although always to be brought into swift control by his recollection of the Word</p> <p>- Jesus probably told the Gospel writers the record of His temptations, and to bring home in words the intensity of what He underwent, He could have used the figurative approach seen in Matthew 4 and Luke 4.</p> <p>- It seems unlikely that several times the devil led Jesus through the wilderness and streets of Jerusalem and then scaled a pinnacle of the temple together, all in view of the inquisitive Jews. Josephus makes no record of anything like this happening - presumably it would have caused a major stir. Similarly, if these temptations occurred several times within the forty days as well as at the end of that period (which they did at least twice, seeing that Matthew and Luke have them in different order), how would Jesus have had time to walk (note the devil &ldquo;led&rdquo; Jesus there) to the nearest high mountain (which could have been Hermon in the far north of Israel), climb to the top and back down again, return to the wilderness and then repeat the exercise? His temptations all occurred in the wilderness - He was there for forty days, tempted all the time by the devil (he only departed at the end, :11). If Jesus was tempted by the devil each day, and the temptations occurred only in the wilderness, then it follows that Jesus could not have left the wilderness to go to Jerusalem or travel to a high mountain. These things therefore could not have literally happened.</p> <p>That the temptations were internal to the mind of Jesus is suggested by the way that in Matthew's record, there is a progression from the desert, to the temple pinnacle, to a high mountain- as if in some sort of ascent toward Heaven. It's even possible that Paul has this in mind when he comments that Jesus did not consider rising up to equality with God a thing to be grasped at, He dismissed that temptation, and instead He progressively <i>lowered</i> Himself, even to the death of the cross (Phil. 2:6-8).</p> 73140499<p><span style="font-size: 12pt;">4:9 </span><i style="font-size: 12pt;">And he said to him: All these things will I give you, if you will fall down and worship me</i><span style="font-size: 12pt;">- The Lord knew full well that &quot;all things&quot;, the Kingdom of God when the kingdoms of this world have been subsumed beneath it, could only be given to Him to God. He was tempted to play God, to assume that by His own action He could grasp it for Himself without the cross. It is perhaps to this that Paul alludes when he writes that the Lord did not consider such equality with God a thing to be even grasped after (Phil. 2:6). Again we see how the essence of the wilderness temptations returned to the Lord on the cross. For Phil. 2:6 specifically speaks of the Lord in His time of dying.</span></p> 7414041010<p><span style="font-size: 12pt;">4:10&nbsp;</span><i style="font-size: 12pt;">Then said Jesus to him: Away with you Satan! For it is written: You shall worship the Lord your God and Him only shall you serve</i><span style="font-size: 12pt;">- The record of the Lord&rsquo;s wilderness temptations is almost certainly a reflection of&nbsp;</span><i style="font-size: 12pt;">His</i><span style="font-size: 12pt;">&nbsp;self-perception; He spoke to the &lsquo;devil&rsquo; / personification of sin which was within Him, He saw Himself as two people, and His spiritual man triumphed gloriously against the man of the flesh. Lk. 4:8 records how &ldquo;Jesus answered and said unto him, Get thee behind me, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve&rdquo;. He understood that we can only serve two masters: God or the flesh (&ldquo;mammon&rdquo; is another personification of the flesh, similar to &lsquo;satan&rsquo;). He saw His own flesh, His own internal thoughts, as a master begging to be served which He must totally reject. His words are a quotation from Dt. 6:13, which warns Israel to serve Yahweh alone and not idols. He perceived His own natural mind and desire as an idol calling to be served. When the Lord explained what had happened in the wilderness to the disciples and thereby to the Gospel writers, He opened His heart to them. He gave us all a window on how He perceived Himself, as He sought to explain to men the internal struggles of the Son of God. Bringing it all back home, I must ask firstly how much we even&nbsp;</span><i style="font-size: 12pt;">struggle</i><span style="font-size: 12pt;">&nbsp;with temptation? And as and when we do, would we not be helped by the Lord&rsquo;s example of talking to ourselves, and personalising Scripture as He did? &lsquo;You don&rsquo;t want to do&nbsp;</span><i style="font-size: 12pt;">that</i><span style="font-size: 12pt;">! Give up your place in the Kingdom, for that... drug, that girl, that job? Of course not! Come on. There&nbsp;</span><i style="font-size: 12pt;">is</i><span style="font-size: 12pt;">&nbsp;a way of escape; Paul told me God won&rsquo;t try me beyond my strength, He will make me a way of escape&rsquo;.&nbsp;</span></p> 7514041111<p><span style="font-size: 12pt;">4:11&nbsp;</span><i style="font-size: 12pt;">Then the Devil left him, and angels came and ministered to him</i><span style="font-size: 12pt;">- The same words are used of how they minister to&nbsp;</span><i style="font-size: 12pt;">us</i><span style="font-size: 12pt;">&nbsp;(Heb. 1:14). And the theme of Hebrews 1 and 2 is that the Lord was indeed of our nature, and in essence had the same relationship with us as they had with Jesus.</span></p> 7614041212<p><span style="font-size: 12pt;">4:12&nbsp;</span><i style="font-size: 12pt;">Now when he heard that John was imprisoned-&nbsp;</i><span style="font-size: 12pt;">It's as if the Lord took the end of John's public ministry as the cue to begin His (&ldquo;from that time&hellip;&rdquo;, :17). He may have worked this out from the implication of the prophecies about the Elijah prophet. Or it may be that He took John&rsquo;s imprisonment as the sign to go to Galilee. Whatever, He was acting according to information which came to Him, and structuring His ministry accordingly. We get the impression that this was done without direct commandment from the Father but at His initiative.</span></p> <p>He withdrew into Galilee<span style="font-size: 12pt;">- The Greek definitely implies to withdraw oneself. This seems typical of the Lord during His ministry- to go public for a while and then withdraw.</span></p> 7714041313<p><span style="font-size: 12pt;">4:13&nbsp;</span><i style="font-size: 12pt;">And leaving Nazareth</i><span style="font-size: 12pt;">- Gk. &lsquo;to forsake&rsquo;. Perhaps because of the lack of response already apparent in His home town. Again, as commented on :12, we see the Lord making decisions about His ministry on His initiative in accord with how situations developed.</span></p> <p><i>He went and dwelt in Capernaum, which is by the sea, in the borders of Zebulun and Naphtali</i>- The idea is of 'to reside'. He changed His base from Nazareth to Capernaum in order to give His message more access to Gentiles.</p> 7814041414<p><span style="font-size: 12pt;">4:14&nbsp;</span><i style="font-size: 12pt;">That it might be fulfilled which was spoken through Isaiah the prophet, saying</i><span style="font-size: 12pt;">- This sounds as if the Lord was consciously attempting to fulfil God's word. He was &quot;the word made flesh&quot; but He had to consciously achieve that. See on 3:15.</span></p> 7914041515<p><span style="font-size: 12pt;">4:15&nbsp;</span><i style="font-size: 12pt;">The land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, toward the sea, on the other side of the Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles-</i><span style="font-size: 12pt;">&quot;Toward the sea&quot; is &quot;by the way of the sea&quot; (AV)</span><i style="font-size: 12pt;">.</i><span style="font-size: 12pt;">&nbsp;The idea was that John the Baptist was to prepare &ldquo;the way&rdquo; for Messiah. Even at this early stage in the ministry, it seems that the Lord recognized that that &ldquo;way&rdquo; was going to have to be amongst the Gentiles.&nbsp;</span></p> 8014041616<p>4:16&nbsp;<i>The people dwelling in darkness have seen a great light-</i>Each of the Gospels is somehow personalized to the writer. Matthew, for example, changes the Lord's quotation of Is. 9:9 from &quot;the people which&nbsp;<i>walked</i>&nbsp;in darkness...&quot; to &quot;the people which<i> sat</i>&nbsp;in darkness saw great light&quot; (Mt. 4:16), because he was&nbsp;<i>sitting</i>&nbsp;at the receipt of custom when the Lord called him (Mt. 9:9).&nbsp;</p> <p><i>And for those dwelling in the region and the shadow of death- </i>As if death is personified, having its own region and shadow. The darkness of the context in Is. 9:2 is that of Is. 8:22- the darkness of condemnation, for the rejected for whom there was 'no dawn' (Is. 8:20 Heb.). We can be condemned in this life and yet still change that verdict- by coming to the light of Christ. Isaiah 8 concluded by speaking of the wicked being sent into the darkness of condemnation (a common figure in Isaiah, e.g. Is. 5:30; 9:19). Those who dwell in the dark shadow of death are therefore those who have been condemned- but for them, the light of Christ arose from despised Galilee and the area around the Sea of Galilee (Is. 9:1- &quot;the sea&quot; surely refers in the context to the Sea of Galilee, not the Mediterranean).&nbsp;</p> <p><i>On them a light has dawned-</i> The light is clearly the Lord Jesus. He uses the same word soon afterwards in speaking of how God makes His light to &lsquo;spring up&rsquo; upon both the just and the unjust, the evil and the good (Mt. 5:45). These categories are therefore within the group of those to whom the light of the Gospel has been revealed. Likewise the rising of the sun in the parable of the sower (Mt. 13:6 s.w.) would refer to the beginning of Christ&rsquo;s public ministry; the various types of ground initially responded to John&rsquo;s message, but when Christ&rsquo;s ministry was revealed openly, i.e. the sun sprung up, then persecution began, and they fell away.</p> 8114041717<p><span style="font-size: 12pt;">4:17&nbsp;</span><i style="font-size: 12pt;">From that time began Jesus to preach and to say: Repent!-</i><span style="font-size: 12pt;">&nbsp;The Lord&rsquo;s first public word was the challenge to change. His opening words were surely carefully chosen to verbatim repeat those of John (Mt. 3:2). He wanted to show the continuity of the message from John to Himself. For He was building upon John&rsquo;s work, which had been intended to prepare the way for Him to come triumphantly to Zion over the &lsquo;way&rsquo; which had been prepared in the hearts of repentant people. The exact repetition of John&rsquo;s message could suggest that the Lord saw John&rsquo;s ministry as not having been responded to- and therefore his message and appeal needed repeating.</span></p> <p><i>For the kingdom of heaven is at hand</i>- Gk. 'approaching'. The idea was that John the Baptist had attempted to prepare the way, the highway, over which Messiah would come. So now, Messiah was approaching. &quot;The kingdom of God&quot; was a title for Messiah, seeing that He was the King of the Kingdom; and the term is used like that in Scripture too, e.g. Lk. 17:21. The Kingdom could have been then established, the glory of Yahweh could have come to Zion if John's work of preparing the road for it had been successful. But ultimately, Israel would not. But the Greek can also mean that the Kingdom was being &lsquo;made near&rsquo;, it was being drawn near by repentance- which is why the Lord was appealing for repentance. This is a significant theme in Bible teaching- that the exact calendar date of the Kingdom&rsquo;s establishment is dependent upon the repentance of Israel. This repentance appears a prerequisite to the Lord&rsquo;s coming in glory and the establishment of the Kingdom. Our focus should therefore be upon appealing to Israel to repent.</p> 8214041818<p>4:18<i> And walking by the sea of Galilee- </i>&quot;Walking by&quot; is literally &lsquo;around&rsquo;. The idea could be that He walked all around the lake.&nbsp;</p> <p><i>He saw two brothers, Simon who is called Peter and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea, for they were fishermen</i>-The Lord's call always comes at the most inconvenient moment. It was whilst Simon and Andrew were in the very act of casting their net into the sea, caught in a freeze-frame of still life, silhouetted against the sea and hills of Galilee, that the Lord calls them to go preaching (Mk. 1:17). The Lord surely intended them to [at least later] figure out His allusion to Jer. 16:14-16, which prophesied that fishermen would be sent out to catch Israel and bring them home to the Father. And He called them to do that, right in the very midst of everyday life.&nbsp;Lk. 5:5 gives more detail. Despite having toiled all night and caught nothing, Peter was able to subdue his natural wisdom, his sense of futility, and the sense of irritation and superiority which exists in the experienced working man: &quot;Nevertheless (how much that hides!) at&nbsp;<i>thy word</i>&nbsp;I will let down the net&quot; (Lk. 5:5). It would seem that the parallel record of this is found in Mt. 4:18, which describes the call of the disciples soon after Christ's triumphant emergence from the wilderness temptations. We learn from Jn. 1:41,42 that it was Peter's brother, Andrew, who first told Peter about Jesus, and who brought him to meet Jesus first of all. The point is that at the time of Peter's call as he was fishing, he had probably heard very few of Christ's words personally. He had heard about Him, and listened to His words for perhaps a few hours at different times in the past. So where did he get this tremendous respect for the word of Christ from, which he demonstrated when Christ called him? The answer must be that he meditated deeply on those words that he had heard and understood, and came to appreciate that the man saying them was worth giving all for. Our far easier access to God's word does not seem to make us more meditative as individuals. We have access to hearing God's word which previous generations never had. We can listen to it on any manner of mobile devices, have recordings of Scripture playing at home, analyse it by computer, hear it sung to us according to our taste in music, read it from pocket Bibles as we work and travel... we&nbsp;<i>can</i>&nbsp;and&nbsp;<i>could</i>&nbsp;do all these things. My sense is that we just don't make use of our opportunities as we should. Why has God given our generation these special opportunities to be ultra-familiar with His word? Surely it is because our age contains temptations which are simply more powerful than those of former years. So it is&nbsp;<i>vital</i>, vital for our eternal destiny, that we do make as much use as possible of all these opportunities. We should be&nbsp;<i>cramming</i>,&nbsp;yes cramming, our hearts and brains with the words of God. I certainly get the feeling that Peter would have listened to a recording of Isaiah on his mobile device if he had one, as he went out fishing; that he'd have had tapes of the Psalms going all evening long in his little fisherman's cottage, wife and kids caught up in his enthusiasm too (Mk. 10:10,15 suggests that the incident with the little children occurred in Peter's house).&nbsp;</p> 8314041919<p>4:19&nbsp;And<i> he said to them: Follow me, and I will make you</i>- One intention of our calling to the Gospel is to bring others to the Kingdom. Evangelism isn&rsquo;t therefore something intended for only some within the body of Christ. And the Lord has a personal training program for each of us- &quot;I will make you...&quot;.</p> <p><i>Fishers of men</i>- The Greek&nbsp;<i>halieus</i>&nbsp;is literally &lsquo;a salty one&rsquo;, from&nbsp;<i>hals</i>, salt. The Lord invites all in Him to see themselves as the salty ones of the earth (Mt. 5:13). The call to be fishers, salty ones, is therefore not only for those men on the shore of Galilee, nor for just some of us- but for us all. The Qumran documents spoke of &lsquo;the fishers of men&rsquo; as being those who would condemn Israel in the last day; and yet the Lord clearly had the idea that they were to &lsquo;catch&rsquo; people out of the &lsquo;sea&rsquo; of the nations and bring them to salvation. So the preachers as &lsquo;fishers of men&rsquo; actually have a double role- as Paul put it, to some our preaching is the savour of death, to others, the savour of life (2 Cor. 2:16). Not only does this encourage us as the preachers to&nbsp;<i>plead</i>&nbsp;with men to choose life rather than death; but it is a sober reminder that we too face the impact of the very Gospel which we ourselves preach, and must likewise live lives of ongoing response. We preach, therefore, aimed at a decision- not merely &lsquo;witnessing&rsquo;, nor simply imparting helpful information.</p> 8414042020<p><span style="font-size: 12pt;">4:20&nbsp;</span><i style="font-size: 12pt;">And they immediately left the nets and followed him</i><span style="font-size: 12pt;">- The Greek word translated &ldquo;left&rdquo; is used throughout the Synoptic records of the disciples &lsquo;leaving&rsquo; what they knew in response to the Gospel. They left their nets, then their boat and even their father (:22). The same word is translated &lsquo;to forgive&rsquo;. Because of our experience of having our sins &lsquo;let go&rsquo; by God and His Son, we are thereby motivated to &lsquo;let go&rsquo; not only others&rsquo; sins and debts to us, but all the ties that bind us to the things of this life. The immediacy of their response is a theme of Matthew's; it is he who begins by so stressing how immediately Joseph and Mary responded.</span></p> 8514042121<p><span style="font-size: 12pt;">4:21&nbsp;</span><i style="font-size: 12pt;">And going on from there he saw two other brothers, James the son of Zebedee and John his brother, in the boat with Zebedee their father, mending their nets; and he called them</i><span style="font-size: 12pt;">- They were intending to continue fishing. There was therefore no theatrics attached to their dramatic leaving of all.&nbsp;</span></p> 8614042222<p><span style="font-size: 12pt;">4:22&nbsp;</span><i style="font-size: 12pt;">And they immediately left the boat and their father and followed him-&nbsp;</i><span style="font-size: 12pt;">They became His disciples, that is the meaning of the idiom. The way the Lord called people in the midst of their daily lives, and they immediately &ldquo;left all and followed Him&rdquo; is surely recorded to set a pattern for all future response to Him (Mt. 4:22; Mk. 1:18). See on :20. Those fishermen who left their nets had heard the message some time earlier, but the record is framed so as to stress the immediacy and totality of response to Him, in the midst of daily life. In a day when the complexity of modern living can become an excuse to justify almost anything as an expression of discipleship, we need to remember the starker simplicities of Jesus&rsquo; first call: &ldquo;Follow me&rdquo;. And the immediate response which was made to it. In this sense, Jesus through His word that makes Him flesh to us, i.e. an imaginable person&hellip;still walks up to fishermen, into shops, accountants&rsquo; offices, school classrooms: and bids us urgently and immediately leave behind our worldly advantage, and follow Him in the way of true discipleship. The immediacy of response is quite a theme (:20, and especially in Mark's early chapters). It continues with the speed at which people were baptized in the Acts.&nbsp;</span></p> 8714042323<p>4:23&nbsp;And<i> Jesus went about in all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues and preaching the gospel of the kingdom and healing all manner of disease and all manner of sickness among the people- &quot;</i>Went about&hellip; teaching&hellip; preaching&hellip; healing&quot; is just what we read of the Lord's followers doing in Acts. The preaching of the apostles (and of ourselves) continues the personal work of the Lord in whom they lived and moved, and therefore often Acts records the preaching work in language lifted from Luke as well as the other Gospel records (e.g. Acts 4:2; 5:12-16 = Mt. 4:23).&nbsp;</p> <p>The preaching of the Kingdom is made parallel to preaching the time of acceptance with God and forgiveness of sins&nbsp;<i>now</i>&nbsp;(Lk. 4:43 cp. 19, 2 Cor. 6:2); Rom. 14:17, which seems to teach that the Kingdom of God is more about &quot;peace and joy in the Holy Spirit&quot;, both now and eternally, than physical, tangible things. Christ's parables about the Kingdom don't speak of a political Kingdom, but rather about the relationship between God and the believer in the here and now.&nbsp;</p> 8814042424<p><span style="font-size: 12pt;">4:24&nbsp;</span><i style="font-size: 12pt;">Then his fame went throughout all Syria; and they brought to him all sick people who were afflicted with various diseases and torments, and those who were demon possessed, epileptics, and paralytics; and he healed them</i></p> <p><i> -</i>&nbsp; The repetition of the word &ldquo;and...&rdquo; gives the impression that every kind of illness &ndash; physical and mental, understood and not understood &ndash; was healed by the Lord Jesus. &ldquo;Lunatic&rdquo; translates the Greek&nbsp;<i>sel&#275;niazomai&nbsp;</i>&ndash; &ldquo;to be moon struck&rdquo;, derived from the noun&nbsp;<i>sel&#275;n&#275;</i>, the moon. It&rsquo;s not true that some mental illnesses come from being moon&ndash;struck. But the idea is used, without correction &ndash; just as the idea of &lsquo;demon possession&rsquo; is in the preceding phrase. &ldquo;Brought&rdquo; translates a word which was used in the technical sense of bringing sacrifice- and the idea of converts as sacrifices is repeated in Rom. 15:16.</p> 8914042525<p><span style="font-size: 12pt;">4:25&nbsp;</span><i style="font-size: 12pt;">And great crowds followed him, those from Galilee and Decapolis and Jerusalem and Judea and from the other side of the Jordan</i><span style="font-size: 12pt;">- Luke makes the point that His popularity was not only because of the miracles, but because of His teaching. Lk. 4:22 records how people were amazed at the gracious words He spoke; there was something very unusual in His manner of speaking. Because of the gracious words and manner of speaking of Jesus, therefore God so highly exalted Him (Ps. 45:2). The Father was&nbsp;</span><i style="font-size: 12pt;">so&nbsp;</i><span style="font-size: 12pt;">impressed with the words of His Son. Evidently there must have been something totally outstanding about His use of language. God highly exalted Him because He so loved righteousness and hated wickedness (Ps. 45:7), and yet also because of His manner of speaking (Ps. 45:2); so this&nbsp;</span><i style="font-size: 12pt;">love&nbsp;</i><span style="font-size: 12pt;">of righteousness and hatred of evil was what made His words so special. &nbsp;&nbsp;</span></p> 90140511<p><span style="font-size: 11pt;">5:1 </span><em style="font-size: 11pt;">And seeing the crowds, he went into the mountain and when he had sat down, his disciples came to him</em><span style="font-size: 11pt;">- The article suggests a specific mountain in mind- perhaps the great mountain Jesus had in mind in 4:8? Jesus taught up a mountain, suggesting that His teaching is accessible to those who make some effort to receive it. The Sermon on the Mount is the equivalent of the giving of the Law, also on a mountain. As God / the Angel gave the law to Moses, so Jesus did to the disciples. The disciples ascending the mount to receive the teaching parallels them with Moses, with the implication they too were to relay it to Israel. Instead of the people being forbidden to come up the mountain, they were allowed to- for by the end of the Sermon we learn that the multitudes were also there (7:28,29) and descended from the mountain (8:1). The Rabbis also&nbsp;</span><em style="font-size: 11pt;">sat</em><span style="font-size: 11pt;">&nbsp;to teach- but they taught always indoors. The similarities and differences are being emphasized to demonstrate how Jesus was in continuity with Jewish culture and yet also radically different. The scene of Ex. 20 is of Moses ascending the mount to receive the Law, the first part of which was the ten commandments. The beatitudes seem to be the New Covenant's equivalent of the ten commandments- see on 5:22. The Lord's sermon quotes or alludes to all of&nbsp;the ten commandments (excluding the Sabbath) and redefines them (5:21,27). The way the Lord makes no comment upon the command to keep the Sabbath is surely significant. Simplistically, one could argue that He was suggesting that His followers would not be bound by the Sabbath commandment. But it was well understood in the first century that priests on duty&nbsp;were free from the Sabbath legislation. The hint could therefore be that the Lord believed that because His obedient listeners were to live their lives as the new priesthood, they were therefore free from Sabbath legislation. The Lord was surely very conscious that John had come to prepare the way for Him, in terms of Isaiah 40. And yet that same prophecy saw the good news being declared to Jerusalem from a mountain (Is. 40:9). Perhaps the Lord was seeking to consciously fulfil this by going up a mountain and proclaiming blessedness and good news to spiritual Jerusalem. It could be further noted that the Gospel of Matthew features five sections of recorded speeches of Jesus, each concluded by the phrase &ldquo;When Jesus had finished these sayings&rdquo; (Mt. 7:28; 11:1; 13:53; 19:1; 26:1). It may be that Matthew is seeking to present the Gospel as a new Torah, with five &lsquo;books&rsquo; to it just as there were in the old Torah.</span></p> 91140522<p>5:2&nbsp;<em>And he opened his mouth and taught them, saying</em>- As if this struck Matthew, recalling how this manifesto of His teaching first fell from His lips. There may be the implication that what He said was by direct revelation from God.</p> 92140533<p>5:3- see on 5:43.</p> <p><em>Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven-&nbsp;</em>Our prayers should be like those of a man on death row in a dark dungeon, waiting to die, but groaning for salvation (Ps. 102:17,20). This is the extent of our desperation. We are &ldquo;the poor&rdquo; (Gk. &lsquo;the crouchers&rsquo;), cringing in utter spiritual destitution (Mt. 5:3). And yet we have a terrible tendency to only occasionally&nbsp;<em>really</em>&nbsp;pray, content with prayer on a surface level. The Lord's parables invite us to see ourselves as, e.g., the desperate widow woman pleading for deliverance from her oppressive landlord (Lk. 18:3).</p> 93140544<p>5:4&nbsp;<em>Blessed are they that mourn, for they shall be comforted-&nbsp;</em>Associated in the Old Testament with mourning for sin (Ex. 33:4,5; Ezra 10:6; Neh. 8:9; Ps. 38:5,6). The comfort offered in Isaiah was specifically comfort for sinners who realized their desperation (Is. 12:1; 40:1). The time of God's grace was extended, therefore, to those who mourned for their sins (Is. 61:2,3; 66:10). Such Godly sorrow is the sorrow of repentance (2 Cor. 7:10).&nbsp;</p> <p>We noted in chapter 4 that the Lord had in mind the way that John had prepared the way for Him in terms of the prophecy of Isaiah 40, which spoke of 'comfort' to God's doubting people. If this comfort were accepted, then the glory would come to Zion and John's work would have prepared a highway of repentant people over which the Lord Jesus could have come to Zion and established the Kingdom there and then. Comfort to the mourners was one of Isaiah's descriptions of that possible Kingdom. It could have all happened in the first century, but Israel would not- and so the final fulfilment of this comfort will be at Christ's return and the establishment of God's Kingdom fully on earth. &quot;Be comforted&quot; may be a prophesy of the Comforter which was to give a measure of comfort even in this life (Jn. 14:16).</p> 94140555<p>5:5&nbsp;<em>Blessed are the meek</em>- Those humbled by their sins. James, in his commentary on the Sermon, alludes here by saying that God gives grace to the meek, and therefore sinners should cleanse themselves (James 4:6,8-10).</p> <p><em>For they shall inherit the earth</em>- Clearly a reference to the promises to Abraham. But it was no good just being a physical descendant of Abraham- humility was the required characteristic. To the Lord, humility was the very<em> epitome</em>&nbsp;of righteousness (Mt. 5:5 cp. Ps. 37:29), as Malachi saw pride as the epitome of wickedness (see the parallelism in Mal. 4:1). There is a telling parallelism in Zeph. 2:3 which equates Yahweh God of Israel with humility: &quot;Seek ye Yahweh... seek meekness&rdquo;.</p> 95140566<p>5:6&nbsp;<em>Blessed are they that hunger and thirst after righteousness-&nbsp;</em>Notice how some of the Lord&rsquo;s very first words on opening His ministry were &ldquo;<em>Blessed</em>&nbsp;(Lk. 1:48) are they which do&nbsp;<em>hunger</em>&nbsp;(Lk. 1:53) and thirst after righteousness, for they shall be&nbsp;<em>filled&nbsp;</em>(Lk. 1:53)&rdquo; (Mt. 5:6). Clearly He is alluding to His mother&rsquo;s own description of herself. It&rsquo;s as if He stands up there before the hushed crowd and lays down His manifesto with those words. This was the keynote of what He had to say to humanity. Everybody was waiting to hear what His message really was. And this is what He said. He was saying &lsquo;This, guys, is what I essentially and most fundamentally seek to inspire in you&rsquo;. And He saw His dear mother as the epitome of the converts He was seeking to make. I lay great store by this allusion. For it makes Mary, at least at the time of the Angel&rsquo;s visit, truly our pattern. She heard the glad tidings and believed that word in faith, holding on to it in her heart (Lk. 8:15,21). She was a model for all who hear the Gospel. It could even be that the language of Lk. 1:32,33,35 is framed in such a way as to make Mary appear to be the first person who heard the gospel about Jesus. &nbsp;</p> <p><em>Thirst after righteousness</em>- The characteristics of the 'blessed' in the first four beatitudes are that they will be spiritually poor (:3), mourning (often used in connection with contrition for sin), humbled, and thirsting to be more righteous than they are. &quot;Righteousness&quot; could mean 'justice' but the term is used by Paul to specifically refer to 'justification from sin'. These descriptions immediately give us all the encouragement that this message of the Kingdom is for me, even me. The next blessing is for the merciful, the forgiving, because they shall obtain mercy- i.e. final cleansing from sin and justification on judgment day. Although of course this is possible even now. See on 5:9&nbsp;<em>peacemakers&nbsp;</em>and on 6:12.</p> <p><em>For they shall be filled</em>- S.w. Mt. 14:20 about the 'filling' of the multitude who came to hear the word of Jesus. All the Kingdom blessings have some fulfilment in this life. John's version of this is the record of the Lord saying that the salvation He provides would satisfy those who hungered and thirsted for it (Jn. 6:35).</p> 96140577<p>5:7&nbsp;<em>Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy</em>- This is apparently missing in Luke's record. He says instead that the reviled and excluded will be blessed (Lk. 6:22). Samuel Lachs suggests another original text actually read &quot;Happy are they who are excommunicated for they shall receive mercy&quot; (Samuel T. Lachs,&nbsp;<em>A Rabbinic Commentary of the New Testament</em>&nbsp;(Jersey City: Ktav, 1987) p. 75). There's a clear connection with Ps. 18:25: &quot;With the merciful you will show yourself merciful. With the perfect man, you will show yourself perfect&quot;. This verse was clearly in the Lord's mind, and it may shed light on His later challenge to be perfect as the Father is perfect (Mt. 5:48)- in this case, He would be inviting us to forgive others as God does. Paul in 2 Tim. 1:16 saw Onesiphorus as the merciful man of Mt. 5:7; and the Jerusalem ecclesia (Heb. 10:34) as the persecuted people of Mt. 5:12.</p> 97140588<p>5:8&nbsp;<em>Blessed are the pure in heart</em>- Heb.&nbsp;<em>bare lev</em>, also translated 'broken hearted' in Is. 61:1. A pure heart can also be understood in the context of what happens on repentance and receipt of forgiveness, for Ps. 51:10 uses the term to describe David's position after his repentance and forgiveness (also in Ps. 73:13).</p> <p><em>For they shall see God</em>- Again the Lord is encouraging the disciples whom He was addressing to see themselves as Moses (see on 5:1), for Moses was held in Judaism as the only one who had seen God (Ex. 33:11).</p> 98140599<p>5:9&nbsp;<em>Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God</em>- Samuel T. Lachs suggests another original text actually read &quot;Blessed are they that stumble&quot; (Lachs, p. 77), and this would fit with our suggestion made on 5:6 that the 'happy' people are those who are spiritually weak but are accepted and forgiven. However, the reference may be to the priesthood, with whom God made a covenant of peace, that they might bring Israel to peace with Him (Num. 25:12; Mal. 2:6). Just as the Lord encouraged the disciples to see themselves as Moses, so He inspires them with the thought that they, the nothing special, secular Jews, could and would take over the work of the priesthood.&nbsp; Rabbi Hillel &ldquo;exhorted his students to become disciples of Aaron, &lsquo;peace lovers and peacemakers&rsquo; (mAb1:12)&rdquo; (As quoted in Geza Vermes,&nbsp;<em>The Authentic Gospel of Jesus</em>&nbsp;(London: Penguin, 2004) p. 314).</p> 9914051010<p>5:10 <em>Blessed are they that have been persecuted for righteousness' sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven</em>- 'Persecute' is literally 'to drive away' (s.w. Mt. 1:23; 23:34), maybe carrying the idea of excommunication. Being thrown out of the synagogue was a major and frequent occurrence for many who came to Jesus (Jn. 9:22). There are Old Testament connections between persecution and suffering for sin (Dt. 30:1-7), so the Lord could also have in view, as often in the Beatitudes, that He is offering blessing and happiness for the messed up sinners who are suffering in this life for their sins.</p> 10014051111<p>5:11 <em>Blessed are you when men reproach you because of me, and persecute you and falsely accuse you of all sorts of evil</em>-&nbsp; Quoted by Peter in 1 Pet. 4:14 where he says that we are blessed / happy if we are reviled for the sake of Christ's Name. Verses 10 and 11 seem to imply that persecution, slander and serious opposition is inevitable for all who will follow Christ. Yet when these things happen, we seem to be shocked and surprised.</p> <p>Paul's extraordinary ability to rejoice in his trials seems to have been rooted in his sustained reflection upon Mt. 5:11,12: &quot;Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you... rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward... for so persecuted they the prophets&rdquo;. These words are alluded to in at least 5 verses in his epistles. Again seeking to challenge the prevailing views of the Jewish leadership, the Lord invited His humble fishermen-followers to see themselves as the great prophets of old being persecuted by a wicked Israel (Mt. 5:11). When Corinth reviled him (2 Cor. 7:4), Paul saw this as being reviled and persecuted after the pattern of Mt. 5:12.</p> 10114051212<p>5:12- see on 5:7.&nbsp;</p> <p><em>Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven; for likewise they persecuted the prophets that preceded you-&nbsp;</em>The language of persecution is also rooted very much in the language and experience of the prophets. The similar language in Mk. 13:8-11 and Lk. 21:12-18 suggests the same. Again, just as the Lord has challenged his secular, nothing-special followers to see themselves as Moses, now He invites them to see themselves as the prophets. And so a theme develops in the Sermon- that He is seeking to place the mantle of Moses, David and the prophets upon ordinary, sinful members of spiritual society, seeking to show them their huge potential significance in God's program. And that impression must come home to us too in our situations, no longer considering that spiritual heroics and work for God are somehow for 'the others', the leaders.</p> 10214051313<p>5:13&nbsp;<em>You are the salt of the earth</em>- Salt inevitably affects, by reason of&nbsp;<em>what it is</em>, whatever is next to it. We are lights in a dark world. Lights give light. If the salt doesn't have the influence of salt, it is thrown away. Our&nbsp;poor&nbsp;record of preaching by personal contact is very worrying when seen in this light. We have hidden behind leaflets and press adverts and giving money. But if we aren't the salt, if we don't show&nbsp;<em>our</em>&nbsp;light in our little world; are we in fact the salt or the light of the earth? This unconscious spirituality, this natural witnessing, is the essential reflection of our experience of the Lord Jesus. He didn't say 'Do good works so that men may see the light'. He said &quot;<em>let your light shine</em>&quot; - and&nbsp;<em>then</em>&nbsp;men will see your good works and glorify the Father.&nbsp;</p> <p>One characteristic of salt is that it creates thirst. We are mistaken if we assume that all those people out there are just waiting for us to come to them with a series of true doctrinal propositions. Virtually nobody is seriously interested- until they meet you and me. We need to create some sort of realization of need in those we mix with. Through our examples and through the way we make our initial approaches to them, we need to plug in to that basic human hunger for their creator. Plenty of other religions do just this- and we ought to be far more &lsquo;in there&rsquo; than many of us are. The language seems to suggest that unless we are not influencing others, then we will be condemned. As in 4:19, the Lord seems to be teaching that some form of outgoing effect upon others, if not evangelism, is part and parcel of following Him. The parable of the light under the bucket in 5:15 teaches the same.</p> <p>We&nbsp;<em>are</em>&nbsp;the salt of the earth. The Lord doesn&rsquo;t say that we ought to be the salt of the earth, or should try to be. Salt with no flavour or influence is pointless, worthless, untrue to what it is intended to be, displeasing to its user, fit only to be thrown out; and so are we, if we fail to witness to others (Lk. 14:35). Likewise, we&nbsp;<em>are</em>&nbsp;the light of the world. By the very nature of who we are as in Christ, we are to influence the world around us. We don&rsquo;t just hold the light in our hands;&nbsp;<em>we&nbsp;</em>are the light, our whole being, every moment we live. Preaching the light is not therefore something which we occasionally do. Sodium chloride (salt) is inert, meaning it remains unchanged by processes acting upon it and retains its characteristics through whatever. In the same way as the believer is the city set on a hill which cannot be hid, the man who builds on rock, the good tree that must bring forth good fruit, so the Lord seems to be saying again that the essential direction of a believer's life is clear. God sees as either His people or not, and there is no grey area. We don't drop in and out of fellowship with Him. And this should be a comfort to us. We are His. Any salt that lost its saltiness was not true salt, but some imitation (at the time, gypsum was sold by rogue salt traders as salt) or just something which appeared like salt- there is some 'salt' from the Dead Sea area which may have been in the Lord's mind. But the point was, that it was not true salt from the start. The covenant of salt was given to Aaron (Num. 18:19)- so yet again, the Lord is encouraging those secular men to see themselves as a new priesthood.&nbsp;<br /> The counter-culture of which Jesus is Lord is indeed radical. The Sermon on the Mount, and so much of Jesus' later teaching, revolves around &quot;us&quot; [His people] acting one way whilst the world acts in another. We are to love all men, whereas the world loves only its friends; we are to pray meaningfully, whilst the Gentile world merely heap up empty phrases; we are to seek the things of God's Kingdom, whilst the world seeks only for material things. Human values are radically reversed in Christ. The humble are exalted and the proud debased; the first are put last, the servant made the greatest. But Jesus also contrasts His followers not only with &quot;the Gentiles&quot; but with the contemporary religious people- the 'scribes and Pharisees'. Thus we are to be radically different both from the nominal church, and the secular world in general. Repeatedly Jesus speaks of &quot;they&quot; and &quot;you&quot;; and yet He also spoke of the handful of Palestinian peasants who really grasped His teaching as being the salt of the earth [Israel?] and the light of the [whole Gentile] world. It was their separateness from the world that was to be a part of the world's salvation. So Jesus was certainly not teaching a bunker mentality, an island existence, but rather a reaching out into the world of others for their salvation. The true radicalism is the radicalism of love- love lived out in ordinary life. Whether we strive for absolute truthfulness, what place we seek at a feast, the struggle to grant real and total forgiveness- this is the radicalism of love.</p> <p>The beatitudes were spoken generally of all believers, but &quot;You are the salt of the earth&quot; was spoken specifically to the disciples. We can understand the 'earth' as the land- of Israel. The Lord pinned His hopes for the whole land of Israel on that band of rather unlikely men, most of them secular, non-religious Jews. It was in their power to change and prepare the whole land for Him. The very metaphor of salt was well chosen- for salt was cheap and common. It was by their very earthliness and humanity that their mission was to succeed, just as was the case for the Lord Himself.</p> <div><em>But if the salt has lost its savour, with what shall it be salted? It becomes good for nothing but to be thrown out and trodden under the feet of men</em>- The idea could be that if we are not salt for the earth, preparing people to be acceptable sacrifices to God, then there is no plan B. It all depends upon us. And if we don&rsquo;t do that work, then we shall be rejected. Note how Paul speaks of the conversion of people as the offering up in sacrifice of the Gentiles (Rom. 15:16). <p></p> <p>&quot;Good&quot; in &quot;good for nothing&quot; has the idea is of being able, to have possibility. If we will not use our potential for good, then we will be rejected, because we have no possibilities for use. It's only when we wilfully lose our potential for good that we really are of no use. Lk. 14:34 carries the same idea- if salt loses savour, what then can be used for seasoning [&quot;wherewith shall it be salted&quot;]? The idea is surely that if salt cannot be used for making salty- then it can be used for nothing, it has no practical use.</p> <p>The same phrase &quot;thrown out&quot; is used about the rejection of the wicked at the last day (Mt. 13:48; Jn. 15:6). The 'treading underfoot by men' would then refer to the faithful having some part to play in the condemnation of the wicked. The idiom may mean that they will be despised by them. Or there could be a literal element to it (Mal. 4:3 &quot;the wicked shall be ashes under the soles of your feet in that day&quot;). It is not for us to thus judge others&nbsp;<em>now</em>&nbsp;because we are to do so&nbsp;<em>then</em>.</p> </div> 10314051414<p>5:14<em>&nbsp;You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hid</em>- The reference is surely to Jerusalem, which was known as the city set on a hill (N.T. Wright,&nbsp;<em>Jesus and the Victory of God</em>&nbsp;(London: S.P.C.K., 2001) p. 289). The connection between this city and &quot;the light of the world&quot; is clearly drawing from Old Testament descriptions of Jerusalem being a light to which the true Israel would rally and the Gentile world would come for enlightenment about the true God (Ps. 132:17 cp. 1 Kings 11:34-36; Is. 2:2; 60:1; 66:20). Jerusalem was the classic external symbol of Israel and Judaism- and the Lord is saying that His largely non-religious, secular Jewish disciples were to be the true Zion for the enlightenment of both Israel and the world. This is similar to His invitation for them to see themselves as Moses, who alone &quot;saw God&quot;, and sharing in the persecutions of the prophets. This high calling echoes down to us- we who like to think that we are not amongst God's great heroes, and who prefer to leave the dramatic acts of faith to our leaders and high profile members. But the calling is to each of us, to be of no less significance than them, not to hide behind the grand religious symbols of faith such as the temple and the city of Jerusalem- but to be those things in daily life. Judaism understood the Levitical priesthood as the light of the Jewish and Gentile worlds. The Testament of Levi 14:3 claimed of the priesthood: &quot;For as the heaven is purer in the Lord&rsquo;s sight than the earth, so also be ye, the lights of Israel, (purer) than all the Gentiles [or in another manuscript &quot;ye who are the lights of Israel, shall be as the sun and moon&quot;]&quot;. And yet as so often in the Sermon, the Lord applies the language of priesthood to his secular, spiritually poor listeners.&nbsp;</p> <p>There appears the idea that if we hide who we are from others, then we are not really Christian. A city on a hill cannot possibly be covered. It is totally public. There must be an element about our discipleship which is likewise absolutely open and obvious to the world. When the Lord returns, it would be strange indeed if our neighbours were shocked to know that we were actually one of His people. The same word is used about the man who 'hid' the talent of the Gospel (Mt. 25:25). The relevance of this emphasis in the first century world was that it was apparently easier to merely quietly assent to Christian teaching, rather than come out in the open about it. The same word is used of how Joseph of Arimathea 'secretly', hiddenly, believed, for fear of the Jews (Jn. 19:38). But in the end, he 'came out', as we all are lead to do by providential circumstance and our own growing conviction of Christ.&nbsp;</p> <p><em>All&nbsp;</em>those who preach Him are like a city that cannot be hidden (Mt. 5:14); just as He likewise &ldquo;could not be hid&rdquo; in His preaching (Lk. 7:24). He was the light of the world, and so are we. In the work of witness, we find ourselves especially united to Him. We are Him to this world, and in a sense, He only shines in this world through us. Witnessing is in a sense for our benefit. Perhaps in answer to the unspoken question 'How can we avoid losing our saltiness?', the Lord replied by saying that a city set on a hill cannot be hid (Mt. 5:14). He meant that the open exhibition of the Truth by us will help us in the life of personal obedience to Him. The city set on a hill is specifically spoken as being Nazareth, where the Lord had grown up (Lk. 4:29). Jesus must've seen the town from the distance and thought out His teaching over the years before He now publicly stated it.</p> 10414051515<p>5:15&nbsp;<em>Neither do men light a lamp and put it under a basket but on the stand; and it shines for all that are in the house</em>- The Lord speaks of how we are the light of the world, giving light to the world in the same way as &quot;they&quot; light a lamp. Who are the &quot;they&quot;? The point has been made that to 1st century Palestinian ears, the answer was obvious: Women. Because lighting the lamps was a typical female duty, which men were not usually involved in. Could it not be that the Lord Jesus even&nbsp;<em>especially</em>&nbsp;envisaged women as His witnesses? Did He here have in mind how a great company of women would be the first to share the news that the light of the world had risen?</p> <p>The Greek article in &quot;the lamp / candlestick&quot; refers to the specific candlestick, and to Jewish minds this would surely have referred to the candlestick in the Holy Place (s.w. Heb. 9:2). This continues the theme of the Lord teaching a new form of Judaism, for His sermon on the mount is full of allusions to previous Mosaic practice, but redefining it. The implication of :16 is that ordinary men are present in the Holy Place too, who will see our light. Or it could be that Jesus has in mind how it was the priests who alone entered the Holy Place- and He is saying that the light from those who followed Him would illuminate the Jewish priesthood. The light of the candlestick is both the believer (Mt. 5:15) and the Gospel itself (Mk. 4:21). We are to be the Gospel. We must burn as a candle now, in shedding forth the light, or we will be burnt at the judgment (Mt. 5:15 and Jn. 15:6 use the same words). This is but one of many examples of the logic of endurance; we must burn anyway, so why not do it for the Lord's sake and reap the reward.</p> <p>The story of the candle that was put under a bucket brings out an issue related to that of the desire to root up the tares: the candle was put there (presumably) on account of an almost paranoiac fear that the wind would blow it out; but this over-protection of the lamp in itself caused the light to go out (Mt. 5:15). Time and again, preaching the light, holding up the beacon of the word of Christ's cross, has been impeded or stifled in the name of preserving the truth, strengthening&nbsp;what remains (words taken out of context). And because of this lack of witness, this lack of holding out the light to others, the fire of Christ has waxed dim amongst us. This ties in to the theme that preaching is not just commanded as a publicity exercise for Almighty God; He doesn't need us to do that for Him. It is commanded for the benefit of the preacher more than those preached to. To put a candle under a bucket or bed seems senseless; yet this is how senseless and inappropriate it is to hold back preaching for the sake of defending the Faith. Indeed, to put it under a bed (Mk. 4:21) and then go to sleep (candles are normally only lit at night) is likely to destroy the person who does it, to burn them while they are asleep. All who have the light but don't preach it (in whatever form) are likely to suffer the same; notice how the Lord (by implication) links night time and sleepiness with an apathy in preaching. Evidently the Lord foresaw the attitude that has surfaced amongst His people: 'We must concentrate on keeping the Truth, new converts are often problematic, too much energy goes to preaching rather than building up ourselves in the faith'. Probably the resistance to preaching to the Gentiles in the first century used similar reasoning. The Lord may have had in mind a Talmud entry (<em>Shabbat</em>&nbsp;107a) which permitted the covering of a lamp with a bowl on the Sabbath if it was done in order to stop the entire house catching fire. He is arguing that such a fear based attitude, fearful of possible consequence if we share the light, will result in the light going out. And that lesson needs to be learnt time and again.</p> 10514051616<p>5:16&nbsp;<em>Likewise, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father who is in heaven</em>- These are those &quot;in the house[hold]&quot; (:15), &quot;those who enter&quot; (Lk. 8:16; 11:33). The general public does not seem to glorify God because of good works. 2 Cor. 9:2 seems to understand the verse as meaning that we give light and opportunity for praise to other believers. Paul writes of how the generous commitments of the Corinthian ecclesias had &ldquo;inspired very many&rdquo; to generosity (2 Cor. 9:2). And we too, in our abundant responses to God&rsquo;s super-abundant grace, will inspire each other likewise. I don&rsquo;t mean, of course, in the proud manner of many charity donors, trying to outshine each other before the publics&rsquo; gaze by their &lsquo;generosity&rsquo;. I mean that in the graces of forgiveness, kindness in a myriad modest ways, that we see performed by others, we will find&nbsp;<em>our</em>&nbsp;motivation to do likewise. For rightly-performed good works are a light to the world; perhaps it is their very modesty which makes them &ldquo;<em>shine</em>&nbsp;before men&rdquo;. So in this sense we will perceive others&rsquo; acts of grace and be inspired by them, no matter how discreetly and modestly done they are. For they inevitably shine in a way that gives light to all who are in the (ecclesial) house, so that they too glorify the Father (Mt. 5:16).</p> <p>It could be that the &quot;men&quot; who glorify God in Heaven are the Angels- the same &quot;men&quot; who lit our candle in the first place (:15). &quot;Men&quot; in the parables who do the 'gathering' of our fruits (Jn. 15:6; Mt. 7:16) represent Angels, who are the ones who will actually do the gathering at the last day (Mt. 13:41; 24:31). This seems to make most sense, and avoids the idea of our doing good works specifically in order to impress men. And men do not glorify God just because they see our good works. But Angels, who lit our candle in the first place, notice how our light is shining out to others &quot;in the house&quot;, and glorify God in Heaven [&quot;<em>is</em>&nbsp;in Heaven&quot; is unjustified- the idea is that they glorify the Father, in Heaven]. In this interpretation, the &quot;men&quot; are different to those who are &quot;in the house&quot;.</p> 10614051717<p>5:17&nbsp;<em>Think not that I came to destroy the law or the prophets. I came not to destroy but to fulfil</em>- The idea that the Lord Jesus ended the Law of Moses on the cross needs some reflection. That statement only pushes the question back one stage further- how exactly did He &lsquo;end&rsquo; the Law there? How did a man dying on a cross actually end the Law? The Lord Jesus, supremely in His death, was &ldquo;the end of the law&rdquo; (Rom. 10:4). But the Greek&nbsp;<em>telos</em>&nbsp;[&ldquo;end&rdquo;] is elsewhere translated &ldquo;the goal&rdquo; (1 Tim. 1:5 NIV). The character and person of the Lord Jesus at the end was the goal of the Mosaic law; those 613 commandments, if perfectly obeyed, were intended to give rise to a personality like that of the Lord Jesus. When He reached the climax of His personal development and spirituality, in the moment of His death, the Law was &ldquo;fulfilled&rdquo;. Then, it was &quot;accomplished&quot; (:18), and&nbsp;<em>ginomai&nbsp;</em>there is usually used about events being accomplished; the supreme event in view is the cross. The Lord taught that He &ldquo;came&rdquo; in order to die; and yet He also &ldquo;came&rdquo; in order to &ldquo;fulfil&rdquo; the Law (Mt. 5:17). Mt. 5:17 = Gal. 5:14. Christ fulfilled the Law by His supreme love of His neighbour (us) as Himself. The Law of Moses was intended to create a perfect man- if it were to be totally obeyed. The Lord Jesus did this- and therefore there was no more need for the Law. Yet the Beatitudes were addressed to those who hungered to be righteous, and who were spiritually poor, having broken God's laws. It was therefore in this context that the Lord Jesus sets before those very people the ultimate good news- that He has come determined to succeed in perfect obedience to the Law, and thus fulfilling it, He would remove its binding nature upon others. Hence the Law was added&nbsp;<em>until&nbsp;</em>the Seed should come (Gal. 3:19). This conclusion (in broad terms) was also arrived at by Dietrich Bonhoeffer (Dietrich Bonhoeffer,&nbsp;<em>The Cost of Discipleship</em>&nbsp;(London: S.C.M., 2001 ed.) pp. 74-76). The Lord's total obedience and fulfilling of the Law is therefore further good news for we who have failed both historically and in present life to keep it.</p> 10714051818<p>5:18&nbsp;<em>For truly I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not one jot or one tittle shall in any way pass from the law, until all things be accomplished</em>- Vine comments: &quot;Jot is for jod, the smallest letter in the Hebrew alphabet. Tittle is the little bend or point which serves to distinguish certain Hebrew letters of similar appearance. Jewish tradition mentions the letter jod as being irremovable; adding that, if all men in the world were gathered to abolish the least letter in the law, they would not succeed. The guilt of changing those little hooks which distinguish between certain Hebrew letters is declared to be so great that, if such a thing were done, the world would be destroyed&quot;.</p> 10814051919<p>5:19&nbsp;<em>Whoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments</em>- See on 'jot and tittle' (:18). Note the connection between breaking &quot;these least commandments&quot; and being &quot;least in the Kingdom&quot;. The least in the Kingdom will therefore be those who didn't consider the small things worthy of their attention. But the principle is that by our attitude to that which is &quot;least&quot; we show our appropriacy to receive that which is great (Lk. 16:10 s.w.).&nbsp;</p> <p><em>And shall teach men to do so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever shall do and teach them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven</em>- The Lord explained that &ldquo;the least in the Kingdom of Heaven&rdquo; would have broken &ldquo;the least&rdquo; commandments, and would have taught men so (Mt. 5:19); and yet &ldquo;the least in the Kingdom&rdquo; was a phrase He elsewhere used about those who would actually be in the Kingdom (Mt. 11:11; 25:40 &quot;the least of these my brothers&quot;). Here surely is His desire to save, and His gracious overlooking of intellectual failure, human misunderstanding, and dogmatism in that misunderstanding (&lsquo;teaching men so&rsquo;). The idea of being called / named / pronounced great or least in the Kingdom suggests differing degrees of reward distributed at judgment day. The idea of being called / named at the day of judgment has just been used in Mt. 5:9 (s.w.). There is thus the possible implication that some who will be accepted by the Lord who even at their acceptance at the judgment have wrong attitudes towards their brethren. Thus before the Lord of the harvest, those who thought they had worked hardest complained that those they thought had done less, were still getting a penny. They were rebuked, but they still had their penny (cp. salvation; Mt. 20:11). The subsequent comment that the first shall be last might imply that they will be in the Kingdom, but in the least place. Likewise the brother who takes the highest place in the ecclesia will be made with shame to take the lower place (Lk. 14:9). Or the bitter elder brother, angry at the Father's gracious enthusiasm for the worthless brother, is addressed by the Father (God) in language which is relevant to the Lord Jesus: &quot;Son, thou art ever with me, and all that I have is thine&quot; (Lk. 15:30). These sentiments are elsewhere expressed about the Lord Jesus. Is the implication that bitter elder brother is still in Christ and accepted in Him, even though his attitude to his brother is not what it should be? The least in the Kingdom will be those who break commandments&nbsp;<em>and teach men so&nbsp;</em>(Mt. 5:19); but the least in the Kingdom will be counted greater than John the Baptist was in this life (Mt. 11:11). The simple message is that there will be some in the Kingdom who simply weren't very obedient in this their day of probation. Admittedly, these details are capable of other interpretations. But bear these points in&nbsp;mind, especially if you ever struggle with the apparent harshness of some Christians you may meet.</p> <div>The least in the Kingdom will be those who break commandments&nbsp;<em>and teach men so&nbsp;</em>(Mt. 5:19); but the least in the Kingdom will be counted greater than John the Baptist was in this life (Mt. 11:11). The simple message is that there will be some in the Kingdom who simply weren't very obedient in this their day of probation. Admittedly, these details are capable of other interpretations. But bear these points in&nbsp;mind, especially if you ever struggle with the apparent harshness of some Christians you may meet.&nbsp; <p></p> <p>It is Jesus Himself who shall be called great (the same two words used in Lk. 1:32 &quot;He shall be&nbsp;<em>great</em>&nbsp;and shall be&nbsp;<em>called</em>&nbsp;the Son of the Highest&quot;). The one who would do and teach supremely would be Jesus. Here, as so often, the Lord makes an oblique reference to Himself (as in mentioning that some seed would bring forth one hundred fold). The fact we teach others to do righteousness will be a factor in our acceptance (Mt. 5:19); although not the only one. Again we see the implication that we are to somehow teach others, to engage with others, in order to be acceptable.&nbsp;</p> </div> 10914052020<p>5:20&nbsp;<em>For I say to you, that unless your righteousness shall exceed that of the scribes and Pharisees, you shall in no way enter into the kingdom of heaven-&nbsp;</em>The Lord asks us to&nbsp;<em>exceed</em>&nbsp;the &ldquo;righteousness&rdquo; of the Pharisees (Mt. 5:20). By &ldquo;righteousness&rdquo; he refers to their charity, for which they were well known. In addition to tithing ten percent of absolutely everything, they gave a fifth of their income to charity such as widows, orphans, newly-wedded couples etc. In addition they made anonymous gifts in a &ldquo;quiet room&rdquo; of the Temple. How does our giving compare to that? And the Lord challenges us that unless we&nbsp;<em>exceed</em>&nbsp;that, &ldquo;ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven&rdquo;. Radical, challenging words- that are hard to re-interpret or get around. And yet surely the answer is that super-abounding (AV 'exceeding') righteousness is only attainable by being justified / counted righteous in Christ. The Lord's challenging statement was surely in order to lead us to the same conclusions reached in Romans 1-8 about being counted righteous when we have no righteousness of our own. For to super-abundantly exceed the technical, points-scoring righteousness of the Pharisees was well-nigh impossible.&nbsp;</p> <p><em>'</em>Entering the Kingdom' is a very common idea in the Lord's teaching. But He understood people to be 'entering' the Kingdom right now (&quot;them that are entering&quot;, Mt. 23:13). In the same way as judgment is ongoing now, so is condemnation and entry into the Kingdom.</p> 11014052121<p>5:21&nbsp;<em>You have heard that it was said to those of old: You shall not kill, and whoever shall kill shall be in danger of the judgment</em>- Jesus was addressing the illiterate poor. Elsewhere, to the educated and literate, He says that they are aware that &quot;It is&nbsp;<em>written</em>&quot;. Here He quotes both one of the ten commandments and also the tradition of the elders. We need to reflect upon the implications of the fact that the vast majority of the early Christians were illiterate. Literacy levels in first century Palestine were only 10% at the highest estimate. Some estimate that the literacy level in the Roman empire was a maximum of 10%, and literacy levels in Palestine were at most 3%. Most of the literate people in Palestine would have been either the wealthy or the Jewish scribes. And yet it was to the poor that the Gospel was preached, and even in Corinth there were not many educated or &ldquo;mighty&rdquo; in this world within the ecclesia. Notice how the Lord said to the Pharisees: &ldquo;Have you not&nbsp;<em>read</em>?&rdquo; (Mk. 2:25; Mt. 12:5; 19:4), whilst He says to those who responded to Him: &ldquo;You have&nbsp;<em>heard</em>&rdquo; (Mt. 5:21,27,33). His followers were largely the illiterate.&nbsp;As the ecclesial world developed, Paul wrote inspired letters to the ecclesias. Those letters would have been&nbsp;<em>read</em>&nbsp;to the brethren and sisters. Hence the great importance of &lsquo;teachers&rsquo; in the early churches, those who could faithfully read and transmit to others what had been written.</p> 11114052222<p>5:22&nbsp;<em>But I say to you</em>-&nbsp;Having quoted one of the ten commandments, Jesus implies that His teaching now supersedes them. See on 5:1.&nbsp;</p> <p><em>That everyone who is angry with his brother</em>- We are all brothers and sisters, each of us adopted into the Divine family, each of us freed slaves, rejoicing in that pure grace. Most times the NT speaks of &lsquo;brothers&rsquo;, it is in the context of tensions between people (see Mt. 5:21-24, 43-48; 7:1-5; 18:15-35). We can&rsquo;t separate ourselves from our brethren any more than we can from our natural families. Once a brother, we are always a brother. No matter what disappointments and disagreements we may have, we are baptized into not only the Lord Jesus personally, but also into a never ending relationship with each other. We cannot walk away from it.</p> <p><em>Without a cause</em>- As added in some texts and AV. The Greek is always translated elsewhere 'vainly', the idea being 'in vain', 'without an effect'. Anger which doesn't achieve anything positive is wrong. God's anger is creative- e.g. the 'anger' of His judgment through the flood brought about the salvation of the faithful. Anger therefore is not in itself wrong. The motives are all important.</p> <div><em>Shall be in danger of the judgment, and whoever shall say to his brother Raca shall be in danger of the council, and whoever shall say Moros shall be in danger of the fire of Gehenna-&nbsp;</em>One of the major themes of the Lord's teaching in the sermon on the mount was the need to respect others; to see the value and meaning of persons. Indeed, it can rightly be said that all sin depersonalizes another person. Sin is almost always against persons. Relentlessly, ruthlessly, the Lord drives deeper, and yet deeper, into the very texture of human personality in demanding that, e.g., we are not even angry with others, lest we effectively murder them. To say &quot;Raca&quot; to your brother was to commit sin worthy of serious judgment, He taught (Mt. 5:22). &quot;Ra-ca&quot; was the sound made when a man cleared his throat to spit, and it was a term of abuse in earlier Semitic languages. To despise your brother, to disregard his importance as a person, was to be seen as an ultimate sin. In this light we should seek to avoid the many terms of abuse which are so common today:&nbsp;&ldquo;a right idiot&quot; etc. The Law taught that one should not curse a deaf person. Think what this really means. Surely the essence of it is that we should never be abusive, in any form, to or about anyone, even if it is sure that they will never know or feel our abuse.<br /> Every word will be judged (Mt. 12:36), and in some cases by words we will justified and by our speech we will be condemned. So we must speak as those who will be judged for what we speak (James 2:12). The man who&nbsp;<em>says&nbsp;</em>to his brother 'Raca' or 'Thou fool' is in real danger of hell fire (Mt. 5:22). The tongue has the power to cast a man into hell fire (James 3:5,6)- some may be condemned for what they have said, perhaps connecting with how the beast is thrown into the fire of destruction because of his words (Dan. 7:11,12). Thus there is a link between the judgment of the unworthy and that of the world. The process of condemnation will remind the wicked of all their hard words and hard deeds (Jude 15). Yet now, we can speak words all too easily. Yet we talk and speak as those whose words will be taken into account at the last day. This little selection of passages is powerful- or ought to be. There is reason to think that specific record is kept of incidents, and in some form there will be a 'going through' of them. Thus when self-righteous Jews told their brethren &quot;Stand by yourself, come not near me, for I am holier than you&quot;, God comments that &quot;This is written before me... I will recompense&quot; (Is. 65:5,6).&nbsp; <p></p> <p><em>&nbsp;</em>His standards were sometimes unbelievably high. Whoever called his brother a fool (Gk.&nbsp;<em>more</em>- a moron, but implying a rebel, an apostate- Ps. 78:8; Jer. 5:23 LXX) was liable to eternal condemnation by Him. John Stott claims that the Greek may directly transliterate the Hebrew word&nbsp;<em>mara</em>&nbsp;(a rebel or apostate) (John Stott,&nbsp;<em>The Message of the Sermon on the Mount: Christian Counter-culture</em>&nbsp;(Leicester: I.V.P., 2003) p.84). The fact that calling our brother a 'fool' warrants definite condemnation surely implies of itself that the term meant that the fool would be condemned at judgment day. If we condemn others, even if they are to be condemned, then we shall be condemned. That is the Lord's message. We must remember that in Hebrew thought, to pronounce a curse upon a person was seen as highly meaningful and likely to come about. To declare someone as condemned at the future judgment seat would therefore have had a huge psychological effect upon the person. They would have felt that they really would be condemned. The evil practice of disfellowshipping individuals, implying implicitly and at times explicitly that they have no place in the body of Christ, can have the same effect.&nbsp;<br /> When the Lord spoke about calling your brother a fool being the same as murdering him (Mt. 5:22; 1 Jn. 3:15), He may well have been thinking of the passage in Leviticus 19:16-18: &quot;Thou shall not go up and down as a talebearer among thy people... thou shalt not hate thy neighbour in thine heart: thou shalt in any wise (frankly, NIV) rebuke thy neighbour... thou shalt not avenge nor bear any grudge... but thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself&quot;. The fact this passage is expanded upon so many times in Proverbs would indicate that gossip was as major a problem among the old Israel as it is among the new. But notice the fine psychology of the Spirit here: gossip in the church is related to having a grudge, to hating your neighbour in your heart, to not loving your neighbour as you love yourself (and we are&nbsp;<em>very</em>&nbsp;conservative about our own failings). To hate your brother in your heart, to gossip about him, was and is as bad as murdering him. And this same connection between gossip and murder is made in the prophets (Ez. 22:9 cp. Prov. 26:22). But the Law provided a way out. If you had something against your brother, frankly tell him about his failure,&nbsp;<em>so that</em>&nbsp;you would not hate him in your heart. If we don't do this, or try to get someone else to do it, we will end up hating our brother in our heart and we will gossip about him. &nbsp;</p> <p><em>&quot;</em>In danger of&quot; in the Greek doesn't imply a mere possibility, but rather, that such a person will receive the threatened judgment. &quot;The council&quot; refers to the Sanhedrin; but you didn't come before them for muttering 'Raca'. The Lord surely meant that such would come before the Heavenly council, of Angels. For this was a well-known, Old Testament based idea- that there is a Heavenly council of Angels. And Christ will come with the Angels with Him to judge us. So the rejected will first come before the Lord, then the Angelic council, and then condemnation. It could be argued that calling a brother 'Raca' and being angry at him without a cause would lead to discussion about this at the day of judgment; but not condemnation ['hell fire', Gehenna]. Only pronouncing a brother a 'fool&rsquo;, i.e. positively condemned and not to enter God's Kingdom, would lead to that condemnation. There appears to be a three stage progression here from judgment / discussion to council (Gk.&nbsp;<em>sanhedrin</em>), to condemnation in Gehenna. It could be that the three ideas are all parallel. But it's tempting to see them rather as a progression, and to note the similarity with the three stage progression of Mt. 18:15-17, where in case of interpersonal conflict there was firstly a private reasoning with the brother, then bringing the church together to discuss the case (cp. the Sanhedrin), and then treating the person as a sinner. However, the surrounding context of Mt. 18:15-17 suggests to me that the Lord spoke all that tongue in cheek and did not intend it to be obeyed literally. For the question of the context is 'If my brother sins against me'. The Lord outlines the three step scenario- and then says that if your brother sins against you, forgive him 70 x 7, that is, even if his repentance seems less than credible, without seeking to test the legitimacy of his repentance. The three stage process was well known in Judaism, and the connection with Mt. 5:22 shows that in the Lord's thinking, it was an attempt to reflect the judgment and condemnation of God in the community of believers today. And that is precisely what the Lord implores us&nbsp;<em>not</em>&nbsp;to do (especially in Mt. 7:1).&nbsp;<em>We</em>&nbsp;are not to attempt to mimic Heaven's judgment and condemnation in our encounter with our brethren in this life. There are churches and groups who seek to follow Mt. 18:15-17 to the letter, claiming they are being Biblical in their approach. But some more research would indicate that perhaps by doing so they are doing exactly what the Lord did not want us to do, and by doing so may be placing themselves in danger of condemnation.</p> </div> 11214052323<p>5:23&nbsp;<em>If therefore</em>- The link with :22 is not immediately apparent. The idea seems to be that we should reconcile with our brother in order to avoid the temptation to unwarranted anger with our brother, muttering 'raca' about him, or pronouncing him a condemned fool. If we are unreconciled, even if the situation is our brother's fault because&nbsp;<em>he</em>&nbsp;has something against&nbsp;<em>us</em>, then we are liable to the temptation to become wrongly aggressive and condemnatory towards him. And this is a significant part of spiritual life- getting ourselves into an environment of thought and situation with others where temptation will not press so strongly upon us. It's easy to leave situations unreconciled, but time does not actually heal them, and the situations lead to temptations towards aggression and judgmental attitudes which may lead to our condemnation.</p> <p><em>You are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you-&nbsp;</em>I&rsquo;d always read this, or perhaps glanced over it, as saying that I shouldn&rsquo;t offer my gift on the altar if&nbsp;<em>I</em>&nbsp;had something against my brother, but I should reconcile with him; but seeing&nbsp;<em>I</em> have nothing against anyone, well I can just go on in serving the Lord. There may be others who have a problem with me, but then, that is for them to sort out with me. But no. The Lord is saying: &lsquo;If your brother has something&nbsp;<em>against you</em>; if the fault is&nbsp;<em>his</em>... then&nbsp;<em>you</em>&nbsp;take the initiative and try to reconcile it, before doing anything else&rsquo;.</p> 11314052424<p>5:24&nbsp;<em>Leave your gift before the altar and go your way</em>- The only Old Testament case of an interrupted sacrifice was Cain and Abel. Yahweh told Cain that if he would 'do well', then his sacrifice would be accepted, and Yahweh appears to suggest an animal for Cain to offer (Gen. 4:7)- on this basis I would suggest that the sacrificial meeting was interrupted by Cain murdering Abel. The Lord also may have in view the way that a thief or deceiver could repent by&nbsp;putting things right with his brother&nbsp;<em>and then</em>&nbsp;offering a sacrifice (Lev. 6:4-6). The Lord is assuming that we are guilty- and this is part of the hyperbole. If you have a relationship breakdown with your brother, then you are guilty. That's the hyperbole; we are not always guilty, but the Lord is making the point that we simply must do all within our power to reconcile, with a sense of pounding urgency. Refusal to talk to our brethren is absolutely not the right way. The Lord also surely has in mind the teaching that the sacrifice of the wicked is unacceptable (Prov. 15:8; 21:27). Again the hyperbolic point is that we should act as if we are the guilty party in the case of relationship breakdown, and act with urgency to put things right. For time never heals in these cases- the longer the situation continues, the harder it is to ever resolve. Perhaps in turn Paul alludes to these things by urging us to examine ourselves (and his context is to examine our attitude to our brother) before we make the sacrifice at the Lord's table in the breaking of bread (1 Cor. 11:27,28)- 'the Lord's table' was another way of speaking about the altar, thus making the breaking of bread meeting the equivalent of offering sacrifice under the Old Covenant.</p> <p><em>First be reconciled to your brother and then come and offer your gift-&nbsp;</em>Particularly in that watershed night of wrestling, Jacob was our example. The Lord taught that we must all first be reconciled with our brother before we meet with God with our sacrifices (Mt. 5:24)- an obvious allusion to Jacob's reconciliation with Esau in his heart, and then meeting with God. We really must&nbsp;<em>all</em>&nbsp;go through that process, whether in one night or a longer period. Reconciliation with our brother is required before acceptably meeting God. And yet many if not most die unreconciled with someone. This is one window onto the necessity of the judgment seat- it is for our benefit rather than the Lord's. There we will become reconciled to our brethren as we observe their judgments, realizing why they were as they were, and perceiving our own desperate need for grace. The tough alternative to this suggestion is that those who refuse to reconcile with their brethren in this life shall not therefore meet the Lord acceptably. Now we perhaps understand better what Paul meant when he urged us &quot;as much as lies in&nbsp;<em>you</em>&quot; to live at peace with all men (Rom. 12:18). Given that Christ can come at any moment, or our lives end, there is an urgency in all this. Which lead the Lord to urge us to reconcile &quot;quickly&quot; with our brother at any cost (:25). See on :25&nbsp;<em>lest at any time</em>.</p> 11414052525<p>5:25&nbsp;<em>Agree with your adversary</em>- The context of the preceding verses imply this is our brother. The Lord recognized there would be satans and personal adversaries within His ecclesia.</p> <p><em>Quickly-&nbsp;</em>We must agree with our adversary quickly, for we are on our way to judgment (Mt. 5:25). This continues Matthew's theme of immediate response; see on 4:20. The call of the Gospel is effectively a call to go to judgment. If we truly perceive this, and our coming need for the utmost grace, we will settle our differences with our brethren- &ldquo;quickly&rdquo;. The whole Kingdom of God is likened to the parable of the virgins about the judgment (Mt. 25:1). We are&nbsp;<em>speeding</em>&nbsp;towards judgment, therefore we should watch with urgency what manner of people we are (2 Pet. 3:11,12). This urgency of our approach to preaching is in harmony with the generally urgent call to spiritual life which there is everywhere in the Lord&rsquo;s teaching. He gives the impression that we are living life on a knife edge. He saw men as rushing to their destruction. We are the accused man on the steps of the court, whose case is hopeless. Now is the very last moment for him to settle up with his brother (Mt. 5:25 cp. Lk. 12:58). We&rsquo;re like the unjust steward, with a knife at our throat because all our deceptions have been busted.<em> Everything</em>&nbsp;is at risk for the guy. Life in prison, goodbye to wife and kids, poverty&hellip; stretch out before him. He&nbsp;<em>must</em>&nbsp;get right with his brethren by forgiving them their debts. We can&rsquo;t come before God with our offering, i.e. our request for forgiveness, if our brother has any complaint against us regarding unforgiveness (Mt. 5:23). Forgiving each other is as important as that. As we judge, so we will be judged. Our attitude to the least of the Lord&rsquo;s brethren is our attitude to Him. There are likely no readers who don&rsquo;t need this exhortation- to ensure that they have genuinely forgiven all their brethren, and that so far as lies within them, they are at peace with all men. At any moment the bridegroom may return&hellip; so have your lamp burning well, i.e. be spiritually aware and filled with the Spirit. Put on your wedding garment, the righteousness of Jesus, before it&rsquo;s too late (Mt. 22:11-13). He&rsquo;s just about to come. The judge stands before our door, as James puts it.</p> <p><em>While you are with him in the street</em>- Gk. &quot;in the way&rdquo;. The Lord seems to have in mind Joseph's admonition to his brothers to not fall out whilst in the way together, but to abide under the deep impression of his grace towards them (Gen. 45:24).</p> <p><em>Lest</em>- The idea seems to be 'In case he...', or even perhaps stronger, implying 'because he will...'. Surveying the NT usage of the term, it generally seems to imply that 'this will be the case'. The idea is that if you have an adversary and do not reconcile with him, then you will be found guilty. The facts of the case don't come into it- if you are unreconciled, then you are guilty. Thus hyperbole is to reinforce the point made in :24- that reconciliation is so vital. There is of course the unspoken rider, that we must be reconciled &quot;as much as lies in you&quot; (Rom. 12:18). Paul died apparently unreconciled to many brethren- they in Asia had turned away from him personally (note the irony, that they 'turned away; (2 Tim. 1:15) from the one who had 'turned them away' from idols (Acts 19:26)), although some of the believers in Asia are addressed positively by the Lord Jesus in the letters of Rev. 2 and 3. But the point of the Lord's hyperbole is that those unreconciled to their brethren will be tempted to get into aggressive and condemnatory attitudes which may well lead to their exclusion from the Kingdom. And therefore He uses this hyperbole- that the unreconciled will be certainly found guilty and condemned, simply because they are unreconciled and have adversaries amongst their brethren.</p> <p><em>The adversary deliver you</em>- The implication is that our brother has the power to deliver us to judgment, or not. Again we see how reconciliation is a choice; it is in our power to bring our brother to judgment for certain things, and that process might even lead to his condemnation. But, the metaphor implies, we can&nbsp;<em>not</em>&nbsp;be adversarial, reconcile, and therefore our brother will not come to judgment for being unreconciled with us.&nbsp;</p> <p><em>To the judge</em>- The synagogue official. Luke seems to translate the Palestinian style of things into terms which were understandable by a Roman audience. Thus Lk. 6:47; 11:33 speak of houses with cellars, which were uncommon in Palestine; and in Lk. 8:16; 11:33 of houses with an entrance passage from which the light shines out. The synagogue official of Mt. 5:25 becomes the &quot;bailiff&quot; in Lk. 12:58. In Palestine, the cultivation of mustard in garden beds was forbidden, whereas Lk. 13:19 speaks of mustard sown in a garden, which would have been understandable only to a Roman audience. It seems in these cases that inspiration caused Luke to dynamically translate the essence of the Lord's teaching into terms understandable to a non-Palestinian audience. Even in Mt. 5:25 we read of going to prison for non-payment of debts, which was not the standard Jewish practice. Imprisonment was unknown in Jewish law. The point of all this is to show that we must match our terms and language to our audience.</p> <p><em>And the judge deliver you to the officer and you be thrown into prison</em>- There will be degrees of punishment. For some, the judge will pass them to the officer, who will cast them into prison (i.e. condemnation). For others, the judgment will pass them to the council and from there to hell fire (Mt. 5:21-25). Although the wages of sin will still be death at the judgment, it will be a &quot;sorer punishment&quot; for those under the New Covenant than those under the Old. Because there are, in some way, degrees of sin, there must also be degrees of punishment (2 Chron. 28:13,22; 1 Cor. 6:18; Lev. 5:18 note &quot;according to thy estimation&quot;; Judas had a &quot;greater sin&quot; than Pilate, Jn. 19:11). The punishment of the wicked at judgment will somehow take this into account. If the rejected are destroyed together (Mt. 13:30) and yet there are varying degrees of punishment, it follows that the punishment must be on a mental level; and &quot;gnashing of teeth&quot; certainly fits in with this suggestion. The progression judge-officer-prison is similar to judgment-council-Gehenna condemnation in :22. I suggested that this may refer to the stages of the judgment process for the condemned at the last day, with unresolved sin being passed further on to others [Angels?] to consider. I suggested also that perhaps judgment and council may refer to unresolved sins being referred to more serious processes of judgment, out of which we may still emerge 'saved', but have eternally learnt our lesson. The same idea may be here- and even the final 'prison' can be exited, although at great cost to us (although on the other hand, a similar metaphor is used in Mt. 18:34 for the unforgiving debtor who is cast into prison and tormented &quot;until he should pay all that was due&quot;. This could be speaking of condemnation). These metaphors may all be speaking about the learning process through which the unreconciled may have to pass at judgment day.</p> <p>The rejected amongst the people of God will in some ways share the condemnation of the world which they loved. It may be that there will be different geographical areas of punishment; some are cast into fire, others into outer darkness, into prison (Mt. 5:25)... or are these simply saying that there will be different kinds of punishment? Or are they different figures for the same thing? Whatever, the sense that the day is drawing near should find expression in the love and care we show towards our brethren. The Lord exhorts to agree with our adversary quickly, whilst we are on the way to judgment- and He says this in the context of warning us to be reconciled with our brother (Mt. 5:23,25). In the light of approaching judgment there is an urgency about our need for reconciliation both with our brother and thereby with God (is He the &quot;adversary&quot; in the parable?). All this talk about reconciliation is placed in the Lord's opening manifesto of His fundamental values and beliefs. It should have the same prominence in our thinking and action.</p> 11514052626<p>5:26 <em>Truly I say to you, you will never get out until you have paid the last penny</em>- This may refer to the eternity of final condemnation for having been unreconciled to our brethren. In this case, we need to do all we can so that each and every situation of lack of reconciliation is truly not our fault. At the very least we are to have an open table to all our brethren. But not getting out &quot;until&quot; could mean that a slack attitude to reconciliation with our brethren will lead to dire consequences for us in this life, and there will be no way out until whatever our fault was in the matter, our debt, is completely manifested and paid.</p> 11614052727<p>5:27&nbsp;<em>You have heard that it was said: You shall not commit adultery- </em>AV &quot;Said by them of old time&quot;. The Lord seems to avoid saying 'By Moses'. He seems to be stressing that the ten commandments had come down to them in oral form; and He was standing before them actually telling them new commandments. The contrast is 'They said... but I say', rather than 'Moses wrote, but I write...'.</p> 11714052828<p>5:28&nbsp;<em>But I say to you, that everyone that looks on a woman-&nbsp;</em>Bathsheba was &quot;very beautiful to&nbsp;<em>look upon</em>&quot; (2 Sam. 11:2). And David did just that. Our Lord surely had his eye on that passage when he spoke about him that &quot;<em>looketh on</em>&nbsp;a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already&quot; (Mt. 5:28). Jubilees 4:15,22, a commonly known book in Judaism at the Lord's time, claimed that the sons of God of Gen 6.2 were Angels who fell because they lusted with their eyes after &quot;the daughters of men&quot;. As so often in the Bible, wrong ideas are alluded to and corrected. It was not that Angels sinned by lustful looks leading to adultery- this language is reapplied to us as humans.&nbsp;Looking on a woman lustfully is also the language of Job 31:1: &quot;I made a covenant with mine eyes; why then should I think upon a maid?&quot;. Job recognized that if he did so, this would be the same as actually committing the deed. He says he will not look lustfully on a maid because &quot;Is not destruction to the wicked? and a strange punishment to the&nbsp;<em>workers</em>&nbsp;of iniquity?&quot; (Job 31:3). Thus Job's understanding that a lustful look in the heart was working iniquity was at the basis of Christ's teaching.</p> <p><em>Lusting for her</em>- Gk. 'to set the heart upon'. The Lord is not speaking about involuntary turning of the eyes to simply look at a woman.</p> <p><em>Has already committed adultery with her in his heart</em>- Gk. 'even now'. The suggestion is that the adultery is going to happen in real physical terms, but it happened before God at the time of fantasizing it. It seems to me that the sense of the Greek here implies that an act of actually physically committed fornication will always begin with lust for the act in the heart. This is not to say that sexual fantasy is OK and only actually performing it is sinful. But the sense of 'even now' would appear to mean that this is not what the Lord is teaching here. He is saying that acts of fornication are actually committed ahead of the act- within the human heart. Sexual fantasy about forbidden partners would surely be outlawed by the many NT commands about spiritual mindedness- e.g. &quot;Having therefore these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God&quot; (2 Cor. 7:1).</p> 11814052929<p>5:29&nbsp;<em>And if your right eye causes you to stumble</em>- To make to stumble, not to give umbrage. The eye must surely be understood in the context of :28. It could be that the Lord specifically has sexual sin in mind. It is His form of &quot;Flee fornication&quot;. Paul saw Mt. 5:29, 30 in a sexual context (= Col. 3:5); which fits the context of Mt. 5:28.</p> <p><em>Pluck it out</em>- The Greek word is every other time translated to save or deliver.&nbsp;</p> <p><em>And throw it away -</em>&nbsp;The Lord taught that we should cut off those parts of our lives that offend us, and &ldquo;cast it [away] from you&rdquo;- because in the end, the whole body of the wicked person will be &ldquo;cast [away] into hell&rdquo; (Mt. 5:29- the same Greek word is used in both places in this same verse). What He&rsquo;s saying surely is that we must recognize those parts of our lives which are worthy of condemnation, and&nbsp;<em>we</em>&nbsp;must condemn them now in this life, dissociating our spiritual self from our carnal self as Paul does in Rom. 7- for this is the meaning of the figure of &lsquo;casting away&rsquo;. He has just used the term in 5:13,25, and it is so often used to mean 'cast to condemnation' elsewhere too (Mt. 3:10; 7:19; 13:42,50; 18:30; Lk. 12:49; Jn. 15:6). We are to &quot;cast out&quot; the parts of our lives which offend us, and if we don't, we will be &quot;cast&quot; into condemnation at the last day (Mt. 5:29.30). The word play on &quot;cast&quot; is obviously intentional; the Lord clearly has the idea that we are to self-condemn those things in our lives which are sinful and worthy of condemnation. If we don't, then we will be 'cast out' in our entirety at judgment day. Sin is to be condemned; we either condemn ourselves for it now, or we will be condemned for it then.&nbsp;</p> <p><em>For it is profitable for you that one of your members should perish and not your whole body be thrown into Gehenna</em>- The idea of self-condemnation is continued here.&nbsp; If we literally cut off part of our body, it perishes. If we do not, then the whole body will perish in Gehenna, the condemnation of the last day. For God is able to destroy [s.w. to perish] the body in Gehenna (Mt. 10:28). So we are to make perish those parts of our lives which make us sin- i.e. we are to condemn them.</p> 11914053030<p>5:30- see on 7:19.</p> <p><em>And if your right hand causes you to stumble-&nbsp;</em>Not just 'your hand'. The right hand was a Hebrew idiom for the power, the thinking, the dominant desire of a man. If it&rsquo;s all taking us the wrong way, we must cut it off- and cast it from us, with no regrets about what we have given up.&nbsp;</p> <p><em>Cut it off and throw it away, for it is profitable for you that one of your members should perish and not your whole body go into Gehenna-&nbsp;</em>Even though Jesus never sinned, He reveals a remarkable insight into the process of human sin, temptation and subsequent moral need. This was learnt not only from reflection on Old Testament teaching, but surely also by a sensitive seeking to enter into the feelings and processes of the sinner. This is why no sinner, ourselves included, need ever feel that this perfect Man is somehow unable to be touched by the feeling of our infirmities. Consider how He spoke of looking upon a woman to lust after her; and how He used the chilling figure of cutting out the eye or hand that offended (Mt. 5:29)- the very punishments meted out in Palestine at the time for sexual misbehaviour. He had surely observed men with eyes on stalks, looking at women. Although He never sinned, yet He had thought Himself into their likelihood of failure, He knew all about the affairs going on in the village, the gutter talk of the guys at work... yet He knew and reflected upon those peoples' moral need, they were questions to Him that demanded answers, rather than a thanking God that He was not like other men were. Reflect on the characters of the Lord's parables. They cover the whole gamut of first century Palestinian life- labourers and elder sons and officials and mums and dads. They were snapshots of typical human behaviour, and as such they are essays in the way Jesus diagnosed the human condition; how much He had reflected upon people and society, and perceived our tragic need as nobody else has. &nbsp;He invites the zealous saint to cut off the various limbs of the body (for they&nbsp;<em>all</em>&nbsp;cause offence at some time!), so that he might enter the Kingdom. To the Jewish&nbsp;mind, imagining such a scene would have created the impression of priestly action. The sensitive reader is invited to see himself as &ldquo;the offering and the priest&rdquo;.</p> 12014053131<p>5:31 <em>It was also said: Whoever shall send away his wife, let him give her a contract of divorce</em>- I suggested earlier that the Lord was carefully not saying that 'Moses said this, but I say differently'. But now He moves on to criticize the teaching of the religious leaders about divorce, which had effectively been elevated to the level of God's law. Divorce was often practiced in ancient societies for trivial reasons and in the heat of the moment. The divorce contract demanded by Moses however required some forethought; for one thing it had to be written, which in a largely illiterate society would involve getting others involved. And the contract would have stated the reasons, and the conditions regarding any issues of maintenance. This is a far superior and more morally developed way than in many primitive societies.</p> 12114053232<p>5:32&nbsp;<em>But I say to you, that everyone that divorces his wife, except for the cause of sexual immorality- </em>The Lord has in view the guilty Pharisees of the Hillel school who were twisting Dt. 24:1-4 to mean that one could divorce for any reason so long as a divorce paper was written. Jesus at this point is not addressing the Pharisees but His potential followers. He is probably citing this well-known controversy in order to demonstrate how motives behind an action are what are culpable. He is inviting His hearers to consider the motive for divorce and perceive that as all important, rather than the fact of divorce. This is why I suggest the key word in this verse is&nbsp;<em>logos</em>, translated &quot;cause&quot;. It is the&nbsp;<em>logos</em>&nbsp;of fornication which is the reason for divorce (see on 5:37). The thinking, reasoning, idea of fornication is what leads to divorce. This interpretation makes the Lord's reasoning here flow seamlessly and directly on from His teaching in preceding verses about the root of sexual sin being in the mind. So the Lord is indeed saying that the Hillel school of thought- that divorce was possible for any trivial reason- was wrong. But as always, He moves the focus to a higher and more demanding level. He implies that &quot;fornication&quot; is the Biblical justification for divorce, but He says that actually it is the&nbsp;<em>logos</em>, the thought, of fornication which is the problem. And this is in line with what He has just been teaching about the thought and action of fornication being so closely connected.&nbsp;</p> <p><em>Makes her commit adultery- </em>There is no doubt that we can be counted responsible for making another brother sin, even though he too bears responsibility for that sin. The man who commits adultery causes his ex-wife to commit adultery too, the Lord observed (Mt. 5:32). Her sin remains her sin, but he too is guilty. Prov. 5:15,16 (NIV) teach likewise: that a man should drink the waters of his own well, i.e. take sexual fulfilment from his own wife, otherwise his waters (i.e. the sexuality of his wife) will overflow into the streets for all and sundry. She will turn to other men due to his unfaithfulness. Sin thus has so many aspects.</p> <p><em>And whoever shall marry a divorced woman commits adultery</em>- The 'whosoever' earlier in this verse seems to refer to men who thought they could divorce their wife for any reason and go off with another woman. This view led women into sinful relationships with those men. But perhaps what is in view in this part of the verse is the women who divorced their husbands for any reason- for women in some circles did have the power to divorce in the first century. The man who married such a woman was also committing adultery. The 'whosoever' refers to people who were getting divorced for any reason apart from fornication, and thereby leading both themselves and their new partners into sin.</p> 12214053333<p>5:33&nbsp;<em>Again, you have heard that it was said to them of old: You shall not swear falsely, but shall perform your oaths to the Lord</em>- This refers to perjury, i.e. lying about something in court. Perjury has a motive- e.g. simply lying about your age to a causal enquirer is not perjury, but it is perjury if you lie about your age in order to get old age retirement benefits. So we see the theme of&nbsp;<em>motive</em>&nbsp;being continued. But the Lord takes the matter further. He not only forbids false swearing but swearing at all- as if He foresaw that any oath is likely to end up a false oath, such is the weakness of humanity and our tendency not to be truthful. James 5:12 quotes this and says that &quot;Above all&quot; we should not swear falsely, lest we fall into condemnation. This is strong language. The implication is that if we lie in a human court, that is one thing- but that lie will be tried in the court of Heaven and will lead to condemnation.</p> 12314053434<p>5:34 <em>But I say to you: Swear not at all, neither by the heaven, for it is the throne of God</em>- The Lord taught that His people were to be unconditionally truthful, because every untruthful word would be judged at the last day (Mt. 12:36). When He taught us &lsquo;swear not at all&rsquo; (Mt. 5:33-37), He spoke specifically about not swearing by the judgment throne of God at Jerusalem. Jews and indeed all Semitic peoples were in the habit of swearing by the last day judgment, to prove that they were truthful (cp. Mt. 23:16-22). The Lord is saying that His people have no need to use those invocations and oaths- because they are to live&nbsp;<em>always</em>&nbsp;as if they are before the final judgment seat of God in Jerusalem. And therefore, our words will be true- because we live as men and women who stand constantly before His judgment presence. Swearing by &quot;heaven&quot; may refer to the temple; the &quot;earth&quot; of :35 would be the land of Israel.</p> 12414053535<p>5:35 <em>Nor by the earth, for it is the footstool of His feet. Nor by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great King</em>- The Jews, like many people, swore too easily. They thought that swearing by something greater than them was so acceptable that it actually excused them from basic truthfulness within their hearts. Their reasoning therefore was that they could lie about a matter because they judged they would never be found out; and swore by all manner of greater things to add credibility to their lie. This is the whole problem with religious structures of whatever kind; external things&nbsp;are invested with more authority and importance than the need for internal truth and spirituality. We see here the Lord's penetrating analysis of human psychology. The Lord clearly understood God as a personal being, who was personally manifest in the earth / land of Israel and Jerusalem- despite their apostasy. Clearly God does not offer His fellowship only on the basis of purity, nor does He practice any sense of guilt by association.</p> 12514053636<p>5:36&nbsp;<em>Neither shall you swear by your head, for you cannot make one hair white or black</em>- Starting with the greatest thing- the throne of God- down to the apparently most insignificant (one hair), the Lord shows that absolutely nothing (great or small) can give any more meaning to human words than the words themselves.</p> 12614053737<p>5:37&nbsp;<em>But let your Yes mean Yes, and your No, No. For whatever is more than these comes from evil- </em>The AV and some manuscripts add &quot;Let your communication be...&quot;. The word&nbsp;<em>logos </em>is used. The contrast is between 'swearing' in words, and having an internal&nbsp;<em>logos</em>, a thought behind the words, which is clear and honest. This continues the theme of 5:32 about the<em> logos</em>&nbsp;of fornication. We are to pay attention to our&nbsp;<em>logos</em>&nbsp;rather than merely the external word and action.</p> <p><em>Yes, yes</em>- People had the idea that there was normal language, and then oaths, which ensured that what you were saying was really true. The Lord is teaching that we should operate on only one level of language- absolute truth. We should not think that some areas of our language use can be less honest than others. The demand is for a total influence of God's truth into every aspect of human life and thinking.</p> <p>Wrong words come&nbsp;<em>ek</em>, 'out of', evil or &quot;the evil one&quot;. Yet the thrust of the Lord's teaching so far in the Sermon has been that wrong words and behaviour come&nbsp;<em>ek</em>, out of, the human heart and motivations. This, then, is 'the evil', personified as 'the evil one'. In using this term the Lord was radically redefining the popular conceptions of an external 'evil one' as an external being, teaching that it is the evil<em> logos&nbsp;</em>within the human heart which is the real 'evil one'. We note how deeply the Lord's teaching is concerned with internal thought processes. Whatever is more than a simple yes-no way of speaking involves something from 'the evil one'; and we weasel our way with words and meanings only when we are under temptation to be sinful. But that is a deeply internal, psychological situation, deep, deep within the human heart.</p> 12714053838<p>5:38<em> You have heard that it was said: An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth</em>-When the Lord Jesus gave His commandments as an elaboration of Moses' Law, that Law was still in force. He didn't say 'When I'm dead, this is how you should behave...'. He was showing us a higher level; but in the interim period until the Law was taken out of the way, He was opening up the&nbsp;<em>choice</em>&nbsp;of taking that higher level, even though making use of the concessions which Moses offered would not have been a sin during that period. Thus He spoke of not insisting on &quot;an eye for an eye&quot;; even though in certain rare cases the Law did allow for this. He was saying: 'You can keep Moses' Law, and take an eye for an eye. But there is a higher level: to simply forgive'. And that in fact was inculcated by Moses' law itself.</p> 12814053939<p>5:39&nbsp;<em>But I say to you: Do not resist him that is evil</em>- The Greek term for resisting evil occurs only in Eph. 6:13. We are in this life to arm ourselves spiritually, so that we may be able to resist in the evil day. If Paul is alluding to this part of the Sermon, the point would be that we are not to resist evil in this life, because our time to ultimately resist it will be in the last day. Then, along with the Lord Himself, we will resist and overcome evil through the establishment of the Kingdom on earth. Rom. 13:2 is likely another allusion to &quot;resist not evil&quot;- if we &quot;resist&quot; [s.w.] Governments whom God has put in power, then we are resisting God. This means that Paul fully understood that the 'powers that be' are indeed &quot;evil&quot;, but they are not to be proactively 'resisted' by those in Christ. The time for that will come, but is not now. We are, however, to &quot;resist the devil&quot; (James 4:7; 1 Pet. 5:9). Surely &quot;resist not evil&quot; is in view. We are to resist sin within us, but not evil in its political form around us. Again, as so often in the Bible, we see that the focus for our spiritual struggle is within rather than without. As always in the Sermon, the example of Jesus was the making of the word into flesh. James 5:6 seems to make this point, by pointing out that Jesus did not and in a sense does not resist evil done against Him: &ldquo;You have condemned, you have murdered the righteous one. He doesn&rsquo;t resist you&rdquo;. And yet He will judge this behaviour- not now, but at the last day.</p> <p><em>But whoever hits you on your right cheek</em>- You singular. Time and again the Sermon on the Mount / Plain seems to take a broad sweep in its record of the Lord&rsquo;s teaching to us all; and then He suddenly focuses in on the individual. The AV brings this out well through the use of &ldquo;you&rdquo; (plural) and &ldquo;thee&rdquo; (singular): &ldquo;Blessed are you poor&hellip; love your enemies&hellip; to him who strikes thee on the cheek&hellip;&rdquo;. Note how many times there is this change of pronoun in Luke 6. Clearly the Lord wants us to see our collective standing before Him, and yet not to overlook the purely personal nature of His appeal to us individually.&nbsp;</p> <p><em>Turn to him the other also</em>- The Lord was smitten on the cheek but enquired why He was being smitten, rather than literally turning the other cheek. But to do this would be so humiliating for the aggressor that it would be a far more effective resistance of evil than anything else. The power in the confrontation is now with the one who turns the other cheek. S/he is calling the shots, not the beater. The idea of not resisting evil and offering the other cheek (Mt. 5:39) we normally apply to suffering loss from the world without fighting for our rights. Yet Paul took this as referring to the need to not retaliate to the harmful things done to us by members of the ecclesia (Rom. 12:16,17; 1 Cor. 6:7; 1 Thess. 5:15). When struck on the right cheek- which was a Semitic insult to a heretic- they were to not respond and open themselves up for further insult [surely a lesson for those brethren who are falsely accused of wrong beliefs]. And yet the compassion of Jesus shines through both His parables and the records of His words; as does His acceptance of people for who they were. People were relaxed with Him because they could see He had no hidden agenda. He wasn't going to use them for His own power trip.</p> 12914054040<p>5:40&nbsp;<em>And if anyone wants to sue you and take away</em>- A rather liberal translation of the single Greek word&nbsp;<em>krino</em>. The idea is quite simply of judging. We can be wrongly judged by others without them taking us to court. The simple principle 'Do not resist wrong judgment of you' is a very large ask. Even in this life, truth often comes out. And if we believe in the ultimate justice of the final judgment, we will not for ever be going around correcting others' misjudgements and wrong impressions of us. That is something I have had to deeply learn in my own life.</p> <p><em>Your coat, let him also have your cloak-&nbsp;</em>It was forbidden by the Law to keep a man&rsquo;s outer garment overnight (Ex. 22:26,27). But the Lord taught&nbsp;<em>whilst the law was still in operation&nbsp;</em>that we should be willing to give it up, and even offer it (Mt. 5:40). The threatened man could have quoted the Law and kept his clothing. But the Lord bids us go to a higher level, beyond using God&rsquo;s law to uphold our own rights. And in this He raises a vital if difficult principle: Don&rsquo;t always enforce what Biblical rights you have against your brother. Don&rsquo;t rush to your own defence and justification even if Scripture is on your side. Live on the level of true love and non-resistance to evil. In this case the idea would be that even if someone amongst God's people does something unBiblical to us, clearly breaking God's laws, we are still to not resist evil but rather by our grace to them, shame them into repentance.</p> 13014054141<p>5:41&nbsp;<em>And whoever shall compel you to go one mile, go with him two-&nbsp;</em>The Lord&rsquo;s high value of persons is reflected in how He taught His followers to not resist evil. A poor man had only two garments- an outer one, and an inner one (Dt. 24:10-13). Underneath that, he was naked. Yet the Lord taught that if you had your outer garment unjustly taken from you, then offer your abuser your undercloth. Offer him, in all seriousness, to take it off you, and leave you standing next to him arrystarkus. This would have turned the table. The abuser would be the one left ashamed, as he surely wouldn&rsquo;t do this. And thus the&nbsp;<em>dignity of the abused person was left intact at the end</em>. This was the Lord&rsquo;s desire. Likewise, Roman soldiers were allowed to impress a Jew to carry their pack for a mile, but they were liable to punishment if they made him carry it two miles. To offer to carry it the second mile would almost always be turned down by the abusive soldier. And again, at the end of the exchange, he would be the one humiliated, and the Lord&rsquo;s follower, even though abused, would remain with head up and dignity intact.</p> 13114054242<p>5:42&nbsp;<em>Give to the one who begs from you, and do not refuse the one who would</em>- Luke says that the Lord taught that we should &ldquo;give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, shall they give into your bosom. For with what measure ye mete it shall be measured to you again&rdquo; (Lk. 6:38). We might have expected Him to say: &lsquo;Give generously, with a good, running over measure, and this is what you will receive in return&rsquo;. But He doesn&rsquo;t. He says simply &ldquo;Give&rdquo;; and then we will be given to in a generous measure, because with what measure we use in our giving, we will receive. Thinking it through, He means surely that &ldquo;giving&rdquo;, by His definition, means a generous, well packed, abundant giving; for that&nbsp;<em>is&nbsp;</em>Christian giving. And note that the context of Lk. 6:38 is the Lord talking about not being critical and judgmental of others, but rather forgiving and accepting them. It is our 'giving' in this sense which is to be so full and generous. Only God&rsquo;s grace / giving can inspire this attitude within us, as we live hemmed in by the people of a materialistic, mean world, where nobody takes up a cross for anyone else. This is why Paul makes a play on the word &lsquo;grace&rsquo; when writing to the Corinthians about giving; for&nbsp;<em>charis</em>, &ldquo;grace&rdquo;, means &lsquo;giving&rsquo;. He urges them to not receive God&rsquo;s grace in vain, but rather, motivated by it, to give grace to others (2 Cor. 6:1; 8:6,7,19).&nbsp;</p> <p><em>Borrow from you</em>- The Greek strictly means to borrow for interest. Seeing this was illegal under the Law of Moses, the Lord is saying that we should just lend- but not for interest. We would all soon bankrupt if we read this as it stands in many English translations. Or it could be that the Lord was aware that He was talking to extremely poor people who had so little to lend that it was not as hard for them to take Him seriously on this point as it is for those who have so much more.</p> <p>According to Luke&rsquo;s record here, the Lord taught that we must love our enemies &ldquo;and lend [in whatever way] never despairing&rdquo; (Lk. 6:35 RV). The Lord sought to inculcate in His followers His same positive spirit. To never give up with people, for all the losses, the casualties, the hurt&hellip; never despairing of humanity. This was and is the spirit of Jesus.</p> 13214054343<p>5:43<em> You have heard that it was said: You shall love your neighbour and hate your enemy- </em>The Lord's attitude to the Essenes is a case study in bridge building- developing what we have in common with our target audience, and yet through that commonality addressing the issues over which we differ. The Dead Sea scrolls reveal that the terms &quot;&quot;poor in spirit&quot; and &quot;poor&quot; are technical terms used only by the Essenes to describe themselves&quot;. So when the Lord encouraged us to be &quot;poor in spirit&quot; (Mt. 5:3), He was commending the Essene position. Likewise when He praised those who were eunuchs for God's Kingdom (Mt. 19:10-12), He was alluding to the Essenes, who were the only celibate group in 1st century Israel. And yet lepers were anathema to the Essenes, and the Lord's staying in the home of Simon the leper (Mk. 14:3) was a purposeful affront to Essene thinking. The parable of the Good Samaritan has been seen as another purposeful attack upon them; likewise the Lord's teaching: &quot;You have heard that it was said, You shall love your neighbour and hate your enemy&quot; (Mt. 5:43). It was the Essenes in their&nbsp;<em>Rule Of The Community</em>&nbsp;who taught that Essenes must yearly chant curses upon their enemies. So the Lord even within Matthew 5, and certainly within His teaching as a whole, both commended and challenged the Essenes; His bridge building didn't involve just accepting their position.</p> 13314054444<p>5:44&nbsp;<em>But I say to you: Love your enemies and pray for them that persecute you- </em>Praying for our enemies and abusers, not wishing a curse upon them but rather a blessing, sounds like Job (Mt. 5:44 = Job 31:30). 'Blessing' has Biblical connection with the ideas of forgiveness and salvation. There would be no point in praying for forgiveness for the obviously impenitent unless God might actually grant it. This opens huge possibilities and potentials to us. God is willing to forgive people for the sake of the prayers and efforts of others (Mk. 2:5). Jesus isn't simply telling us to vaguely pray for our enemies because it is psychologically good for us and eases our pain a bit. Genuine prayer for abusers really has the possibility of being heard- for God is willing to save people for the sake of our prayers. Otherwise, this exhortation to do good to abusers through praying for their blessing would be rather meaningless. 'Cursing' likewise tended to carry the sense of 'May you be condemned at the day of judgment'. Those who condemn others will be condemned (Mt. 7:1 etc.)- and yet we can pray for their blessing. It is perhaps only our prayers and desire for their salvation which can over-ride the otherwise certain connection between condemning others and being condemned. This gives those condemned and abused by others so much work to do. In fact, so amazing are the possibilities that that alone is therapeutic. Moses' praying for Pharaoh in Ex. 9:28,29 is perhaps the Old Testament source of Christ's words. Let's not read those records as implying that Moses simply uttered a few words to God, and then each of the plagues was lifted. There was an element of real fervency in Moses' prayers- which may well be lacking in ours. This is surely an example of genuinely praying for our enemies.</p> <p>Curse [condemn]... hate... despitefully use [slander]... persecute [chase out- excommunicate]<em>&shy; </em>the terms used here are very applicable to attitudes from some members of God's people to others- first century Israel, in the first context, and the Christian church in the longer term context. The language is not to applicable to persecution at the hands of the unbelieving world. Likewise the commands to pray for spiritual blessing and acceptance of our abusers is surely more appropriate to prayers for those who are bitter misbelievers than for complete unbelievers who profess no desire to please God.&nbsp;</p> 13414054545<p>5:45 See on 6:26.<br /> <em>That you might be sons of your Father who is in heaven-&nbsp;</em>Jesus juxtaposed ideas in a radical way. He spoke of drinking His blood; and of a Samaritan who was good, a spiritual hero. It was impossible for Jews to associate the term 'Samaritan' and the concept of being spiritually an example. And so the stark, radical challenge of the Lord's words must be allowed to come down into the 21st century too. Lk. 6:35 has Jesus speaking of &quot;children of the Most High&quot; and yet Mt. 5:45 has &quot;children of your father&quot;. What did Jesus actually say? Perhaps: &quot;Children of&nbsp;<em>abba</em>, daddy, the Most High&quot;. He juxtaposed His shocking idea of&nbsp;<em>abba&nbsp;</em>with the exalted title &quot;the Most High&quot;. The Most High was in fact as close as&nbsp;<em>abba</em>, daddy, father.&nbsp;&nbsp;</p> <p><em>For He makes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the just and the unjust-</em> God consciously makes the sun rise each day- it isn't part of a kind of perpetual motion machine. Hence the force of His promises in the prophets that in the same way as He consciously maintains the solar system, so He will maintain His Israel. Ps. 104 is full of such examples: &quot;He waters the hills... causes the grass to grow... makes darkness (consciously, each night)... the young lions... seek their meat from God... send forth Your Spirit (Angel), they are created&quot; (not just by the reproductive system). There are important implications following from these ideas with regard to our faith in prayer. It seems to me that our belief that the world is going on inevitably by clockwork is one of the things which militates against faith. To give a simple example: we may need to catch a certain train which is to leave at 9 a.m. We wake up late at 8:30 a.m. and find it hard to have faith in our (all too hasty) prayer that we will get it, because we are accustomed to trains leaving on time. But if we have the necessary faith to believe that each individual action in life is the work of God, then it is not so hard to believe that God will make the action of that train leaving occur at 9:30 a.m. rather than at 9 a.m. when He normally makes it leave. The whole of creation keeps on going as a result of God having a heart that bleeds for people. &ldquo;If he causes his heart to return unto himself&rdquo;, the whole of creation would simply cease (Job 34:14 RVmg.). His spirit is His heart and mind, as well as physical power. Creation is kept going not by clockwork, but by the conscious outpouring of His Spirit toward us. In times of depression we need to remember this; that the very fact the world is still going, the planet still moves, atoms stay in their place and all matter still exists&hellip; is proof that the God who has a heart that bleeds for us is still there, with His heart going out to us His creation. And the spirit of the Father must be in us His children.</p> <p>Just because the Father gives His sun and rain to all without discrimination, we likewise should love our enemies (Mt. 5:43-45). This is the imperative of creation. We noted on 5:44 that our prayer and goodness to our enemies is in order to lead them to repentance and salvation. This is surely one motive behind the way God sends rain and sunshine upon the evil as well as the good. His goodness to them is intended to lead them to repentance. Only at the day of judgment will He execute judgment against them, and that is to be our perspective too. See on 5:39&nbsp;<em>resist not evil</em>.&nbsp;</p> 13514054646<p>5:46&nbsp;For<em> if you love them that love you</em>- We tend to love in response to others' love. But the love which the Lord has in mind is the love which is an act of the will, consciously effected towards the&nbsp;<em>un</em>loving.&nbsp;</p> <p><em>What reward have you?</em>- The idea is of wages. Whilst salvation itself is a free gift, in contrast to the wages paid by sin, this is not to say that there will not be some element of reward / wages / eternal recognition of our spiritual achievements in this life. The preceding verses have spoken of prayer and blessing for our abusers. This kind of attitude will be eternally rewarded. Not least if we see those we prayed for, those we blessed and forgave without their repentance, eternally with us in God's Kingdom. The final judgment will be of our works, not because works justify us, but because our use of the freedom we have had and exercised in our lives is the basis of the future reward we will be given. Salvation itself is not on the basis of our works (Rom. 11:6; Gal. 2:16; Tit. 3:5); indeed, the&nbsp;<em>free gift&nbsp;</em>of salvation by pure grace is contrasted with the&nbsp;<em>wages </em>paid by sin (Rom. 4:4; 6:23). And yet at the judgment, the preacher receives&nbsp;<em>wages</em>&nbsp;for what he did (Jn. 4:36), the labourers receive&nbsp;<em>hire</em>&nbsp;(s.w. wages) for their work in the vineyard (Mt. 20:8; 1 Cor. 3:8). There is a&nbsp;<em>reward</em>&nbsp;(s.w. wages) for those who rise to the level of loving the totally unresponsive (Mt. 5:46), or preaching in situations quite against their natural inclination (1 Cor. 9:18).&nbsp;<em>Salvation</em>&nbsp;itself isn't given on this basis of works; but the nature of our eternal existence in the Kingdom will be a reflection of our use of the gift of freedom in this life. In that sense the judgment will be of our works.</p> <p>Lk. 6:32 speaks of us having &ldquo;thanks&rdquo;. The Greek for &quot;thank&quot; in Lk. 6:32 is 'charis', normally translated &quot;grace&quot;, and often connected with the help of the Spirit which is given to us in response to our own efforts. Taking responsibility for others is often thankless. Our human dysfunction cries out for recognition and affirmation, and we tend not to do those things for which we are not thanked. This is one of the most radical aspects of our calling as followers of Christ- to serve without being thanked. Belief in God&rsquo;s judgment helps us with this. For all our works will be rewarded in some sense by Him at the last day. If we love those that love us, we have no &ldquo;thank&rdquo;- but we will have &ldquo;thank&rdquo;, or &ldquo;praise of God&rdquo; ultimately. And this is what ultimately matters.</p> <p><em>Even the tax collectors do the same</em>- As demonstrated by the account of Zacchaeus, these were the most friendless people in society. Rejected by family, they were unloved by about everyone. The only person who would salute / greet them was a fellow publican (:47). The implication is that publicans [tax collectors] were loved only by themselves. Loving those who love us is little better than the selfish self-love of the lonely publican. Matthew was a publican and he surely had himself very much in view as he recounted this teaching of the Lord.</p> 13614054747<p>5:47&nbsp;<em>And if you greet your brothers only, what do you more than they. The tax collectors do likewise</em>- &quot;More&quot; is, Gk., 'to super-abound'. This is a word characteristic of the new life in Christ. As God makes His grace&nbsp;<em>abound</em>&nbsp;to us,&nbsp;<em>we</em>&nbsp;are to&nbsp;<em>abound</em>&nbsp;to every good work (2 Cor. 9:8). We are to &lsquo;abound&rsquo; in love to each other, as God abounds to us (1 Thess. 3:12). This is why there will never be a grudging spirit in those who serve properly motivated by God&rsquo;s abundance to us. This super-abounding quality in our kindness, generosity, forgiveness etc. is a feature lacking in the unbelievers around us. If we salute our brethren only, then we do not super-abound (Mt. 5:47); if we love as the world loves its own, then we have missed the special quality of love which the Father and Son speak of and exemplify. This radical generosity of spirit to others is something which will mark us apart from this world.</p> 13714054848<p>5:48 See on 5:7.</p> <p><em>You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect-&nbsp;</em>We are either seen as absolutely perfect, or totally wicked, due to God's imputation of righteousness or evil to us (Ps. 37:37). There is no third way. The pure in heart see God, their righteousness (to God) exceeds that of the Pharisees, no part of their body offends them or they pluck it out; they are perfect as their Father is (Mt. 5:8,20,29,48). Every one of the faithful will have a body even now completely full of light, with no part dark (Lk. 11:36); we will walk, even as the Lord walked (1 Jn. 2:6). These impossible standards were surely designed by the Lord to force us towards a real faith in the imputed righteousness which we can glory in; that the Father really does see us as this righteous. Men have risen up to this. David at the end of his life could say that he was upright and had kept himself from his iniquity (2 Sam. 22:21-24). He could only say this by a clear understanding of the concept of imputed righteousness. Paul's claim to have always lived in a pure conscience must be seen in the same way.</p> <p>God makes concessions to human weakness; He sets an ideal standard, but will accept us achieving a lower level. &quot;Be ye therefore perfect,&nbsp;<em>as</em>&nbsp;your Father in heaven is perfect&quot; (Mt. 5:48) is proof enough of this. The standard is clear: absolute perfection. But our lower attainment is accepted, by grace. If God accepts our obvious failure to attain an ideal standard, we should be inspired to accept this in others. Daily Israel were taught this; for they were to offer totally unblemished animals. And yet there was no totally unblemished animal. We need to recognize that God sets an ultimately high standard, but is prepared to accept our achievement of a lower standard- i.e. God makes concessions. We all disobey the same commandments of Christ day by day and hour by hour. Yet we have a firm hope in salvation. Therefore obedience to commandments is not the only necessity for salvation. &quot;Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in Heaven is perfect&quot; (Mt. 5:48) goes unfulfilled by each of us- as far as our own obedience is concerned. It is possible to disobey Christ's commandments every day and be saved. If this statement is false, then salvation is only possible is we attain God's moral perfection, which is impossible. If disobedience to Christ's commands is tolerable by God (on account of our faith in the atonement), how can&nbsp;<em>we</em>&nbsp;decide&nbsp;<em>which&nbsp;</em>of those commandments we will tolerate being broken by our brethren, and which of them we will disfellowship for? If we cannot recognize degrees of sin, it is difficult to pronounce some commands to be more important than others.</p> <p>There are times when Paul's inspired commentary opens up some of the Lord's more difficult sayings. On &quot;Be you therefore perfect&quot;, Paul's comment is: &quot;Be perfected&quot; (2 Cor. 13:11). This is quite different to how many may take it- 'Let God perfect you' is the message. Relatively late in his career Paul could comment: &ldquo;Not that I have already obtained, or am already made perfect&rdquo; (Phil. 3:12), alluding to the Lord&rsquo;s bidding to be perfect as our Father is (Mt. 5:48). Through this allusion to the Gospels, Paul is showing his own admission of failure to live up to the standard set. And yet we must compare &ldquo;Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect&quot; with &ldquo;Let us therefore, as many as be perfect&hellip;&rdquo; (Phil. 3:12,15). In 1 Cor. 13:10, he considers he is &lsquo;perfect&rsquo;, and has put away the things of childhood. Thus he saw his spiritual maturity only on account of his being in Christ; for he himself was not &ldquo;already perfect&rdquo;, he admitted.<br /> Luke&rsquo;s account has &quot;be merciful, as your Father also is merciful&quot; (Lk. 6:36). Quite simply, who God is should inspire us to be like Him; to copy His characteristics [the things of His Name] in our personalities. We must be &quot;perfect&quot; as our Father is; &quot;be ye holy&quot;, because He is holy (1 Pet. 1:14-16); &quot;kind one to another, tender hearted, forgiving one another, even as God forgave&hellip; be ye therefore followers of God, as dear children&quot; (Eph. 4:32; 5:1); &quot;merciful, as your Father also is merciful&quot; (Lk. 6:36). Prov. 19:11RV uses language frequently applied to Yahweh Himself and applies it to the wise man: &quot;The discretion of a man maketh him slow to anger; and it is his glory to pass over a transgression&quot;. And thus Phinehas was commended for being &quot;jealous with my jealousy&quot; (Num. 25:11 RV)- his emotion at that time was a mirror of that of God Himself. Not only was language re-interpreted by the Christians. Whole concepts were reoriented. Holiness in the sense of separation from the unclean had been a major theme in the Mosaic Law, and it figured largely in the theology of the Pharisees. But the Lord quoted &ldquo;Be holy because I, Yahweh your God am holy&rdquo; (Lev. 19:2) as &ldquo;Be ye therefore merciful, even as your father in heaven is merciful&rdquo; (Lk. 6:36). To be merciful to those who sin is now the true holiness- not merely separation from them and condemnation of their ways. Note, too, how He invites us to interpret the Yahweh as &ldquo;father&rdquo;, rather than transliterating the Name.</p> <p>The Lord&rsquo;s manifesto as recorded in the Sermon on the Mount was structured and set up by Him in some ways as a &lsquo;new law&rsquo; as opposed to the old law of Moses. And yet His law likewise proves impossible to keep. We cannot be perfect as our Father is. To a man and to a woman, we would admit that we cannot fully forgive our enemies from our hearts. And so, according to the Lord&rsquo;s law, we each stand unforgiven. We are to sell all that we have and give to the poor, or risk forfeiting the Kingdom because of our love of this world&rsquo;s goods (Mk. 10:17-22). An angry thought is murder, a passing lustful look becomes adultery- all mortal sins, which catch each of us within their net. Why was this? Surely yet again, the Lord wished to convict us of our guilt before Him, our inabilities, our desperation&hellip; so that we could come to appreciate the wonder of His character and His saving grace. For He was the one and only embodiment of His own teaching, to the point that the person who fulfilled all His teaching was in fact He Himself- and no other man. In knowing Him, we thus know our own desperation, and yet we likewise know- because we know Him- the certainty of our salvation by grace. Further, it becomes apparent that the Lord accepted with open arms those who were so very far from the ideals He laid down in the Sermon on the Mount. He convicted them of their guilt in such a way that with joy and peace they ran to His grace.</p> 138140611<p>6:1&nbsp;<em>Take heed you do not do your good deeds</em>- Gk. 'to hold the mind towards'. Again and again, the Lord's emphasis is upon the innermost functioning of the mind and thought processes. For to be spiritually minded is the essence of Christianity.&nbsp;</p> <p><em>Before men, to be seen by them</em>- The same Greek phrase is used in Mt. 23:5 about the Pharisees doing all their works motivated by this desire to be seen of men. What we do&nbsp;<em>unseen</em>&nbsp;by men is therefore the litmus test of our love and Christianity. We should almost have an obsession about doing good works unseen by men- we must &quot;take heed&quot;, consciously set our mind, to do unseen acts of kindness to others. Because the &quot;reward&quot;, the nature of our eternity, will depend on these things.</p> <p><em>Else you have no reward with your Father who is in heaven-&nbsp;</em>Salvation is by grace, but the 'reward' will be in terms of how the&nbsp;<em>nature</em>&nbsp;of our eternal existence reflects good things done in this life. The Greek word for 'reward' is quite common in the Sermon, and the first usage of it suggests that the reward is given in Heaven right now (Mt. 5:12 &quot;great&nbsp;<em>is</em>&nbsp;your reward in Heaven&quot;, s.w. Jn. 4:36 &quot;he that reaps receives wages / reward, and gathers fruit unto life eternal&quot;; Mt. 5:46; 6:1,2,5,16). Yet the Lord comes from Heaven to give us the rewards after we have been resurrected at the last day (Mt. 20:8; Rev. 11:18; 22:12). So if we will be given an eternal reward for our works, it follows that there is a recompense for us noted in the books of Heaven at the very point we do the good deed. But there will be no such recompense for things which are openly seen of men, or anything which is consciously done so as to be seen by men. In the reality of life, the hardest thing about good deeds is when we sense nobody appreciates us, that we are holding the fort alone, that we have no recognition. On one hand, recognition for labour is hugely important to our basic psychological makeup- and employers have all come to realize that. It is only by appreciating the principle of eternal blessing for being<em> u</em>nrecognized that we can live the way Jesus asks of us. It is my observation in the life of believers that often the Lord's most zealous servants are marginalized, falsely accused, rejected from churches etc. The Lord's teaching here makes perfect sense of that phenomenon. He wants them to continue their service in a way which will be eternally recognized, and He wants to ensure their motives for their good works are not in order to be seen of men. Therefore He allows them to be marginalized. So that their works may be totally sincere, and receive an eternal recognition. It is also the case that when serving others, we reflect that nobody realized all the host of planning and frustrations which went into one good deed. A plan to visit someone in hospital may involve struggles with public transport, getting lost on the way, forgetting our telephone, being late home which meant we missed something important... and so forth. It is all those good deeds which others don't see. They 'see' only that we spent 15 minutes in a hospital visiting someone. But those other components to the good deed of the 15 minutes are all carefully logged with the Lord.</p> 139140622<p>6:2&nbsp;<em>When therefore you do alms, do not sound a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets</em>- The reference may be to the bronze collection 'trumpet' into which the wealthy loudly poured large numbers of pennies. Remember that Jesus was addressing His sermon to the illiterate and desperately poor. There was little likelihood they would ever do this. So we are to understand the Lord as making a warning out of those wealthy people- to all of us, in whatever context, great or small, to not advertise our kindnesses, and to not be motivated to it by the thought of what others would think of it.</p> <p><em>That they may have glory from men</em>&nbsp;- Perhaps the emphasis is upon &quot;they&quot;. Our good works are to be so that &quot;men&quot; give glory to&nbsp;<em>God</em>&nbsp;(Mt. 5:16). To have any intention of attracting glory to ourselves is therefore to play God. For all glory is to go to Him.&nbsp;</p> <p><em>Truly I say to you, they have received their reward</em>- The Greek translated &quot;have&quot; means both to receive fully, and intransitively, 'to keep away'. They get their full reward now, so they are keeping themselves away from any future reward at the last day. According to the allusion here in 1 Tim. 4:8, the implication is that we aren't to take Mt. 6:2,3 (&quot;they have their reward&quot;) as implying that we have&nbsp;<em>no</em>&nbsp;reward in this life. We do (cp. Mt. 19:29).</p> 140140633<p>6:3&nbsp;<em>But when you do alms</em>- The Lord Jesus was addressing the very poorest in society. And yet He assumed they would do some good and show some generosity to others. We can too easily dismiss Bible teaching about generosity and assume it applies to the rich, or at least, not to me. Yet the Lord's implication is that every single person can give and be generous in some way. The Lord speaks here of &quot;<em>when</em>&quot; you give, rather than&nbsp;<em>if</em>&nbsp;you give. He took giving to others in need as being a basic, intrinsic part of life in Him.</p> <p><em>Do not let your left hand know what your right hand does-&nbsp;</em>There had developed a strong Jewish tradition that the right hand side of a man was his spiritual side, and the left hand side was the equivalent of the New Testament 'devil'. The Lord Jesus referred to this understanding when He warned: &quot;Let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doeth&quot; (Mt. 6:3)- implying that the good deeds of the spiritual man would be misused by the 'devil', e.g. in using them as grounds for spiritual pride.</p> <p>The idea perhaps is that our good deeds should not be done consciously, we hardly know ourselves that we are doing them. The Lord taught just the same when He portrayed the faithful at the last day almost arguing back with their Lord before His judgement seat, totally denying they had done the good deeds which He was now rewarding them for (&quot;when did we see You...&quot;, Mt. 25:39).</p> 141140644<p>6:4<em>&nbsp;That your alms may be in secret, and your Father who sees in secret shall reward you</em>- as if God is especially manifest in Christ when we stand before him in judgment to receive our rewards openly. Our prayers &ldquo;in secret&rdquo; will be &lsquo;rewarded&rsquo; &ldquo;openly&rdquo;; but the language of &lsquo;open reward&rsquo; is used by the Lord in reference to the judgment: &ldquo;For the son of man shall come in the glory of his father with his angels; and then he shall reward [s.w.] every man&rdquo; (Mt. 16:27). In that day the workers will be &lsquo;rewarded&rsquo; for their work (s.w. Mt. 20:8; Rom. 2:6; 2 Tim. 4:8; Rev. 22:12); yet Mt. 6:4-6 says they will be rewarded for their prayers. Prayer will only ultimately be answered when the Lord returns; hence Mt. 6:4-6 leads on to the Lord&rsquo;s prayer, with its emphasis upon requesting the coming of the Kingdom, forgiveness etc. rather than petty human requests. Here again we see a connection between prayer and the final judgment.</p> <p>Giving alms should be so secret, according to our suggestion on 6:3, that we ourselves are not even fully conscious of them. There is repeated emphasis that what is in secret, concealed from view, will be openly rewarded (Mt. 6:6,18; Lk. 12:2). The day of judgment will be a judging of the secret things (Rom. 2:16; 1 Cor. 4:5). Absolutely nothing that is now hid shall not then be made open- this is a considerable theme in the Lord's teaching (Mt. 10:26; Mk. 4:22; Lk. 8:17; 12:2). The Lord's own journey to die at Jerusalem was done 'in secret'- as so often, He spoke His teaching to Himself (Jn. 7:10). The need for a sense of significance, reward and recognition to be attached to our works is basic to the structure of human personality. We're not asked to deny this, to live as if we are more or less than human. We're asked instead to realize that the day for that shall come, but it is not now, nor are we to seek it now from the eyes of men.</p> <p>The public dimension to the judgment process [AV &quot;openly&quot;] will mean that somehow in a moment we will know 'the secret things' of each other. Only with that basis of understanding could believers who appear to differ in this life live eternally together.</p> 142140655<p>6:5&nbsp;<em>And when you pray, you shall not be as the hypocrites. For they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen by men. Truly I say to you, they have received their reward</em>- The same Greek word for &quot;seen of men&quot; occurs in 6:16,18 (AV &quot;to appear&quot;). Doing spiritual things for the sake of external appearance was clearly a particular concern of the Lord Jesus. Church life inevitably leads to temptations in this area- mixing with the same people regularly, with families intermarrying over the years, appearance becomes a great temptation. But having this as a motivation for any act of spirituality is so abhorrent to the Lord.</p> 143140666<p>6:6&nbsp;<em>But you, when you pray, enter into your room and shut your door, pray to your Father who is unseen-&nbsp;</em>The Lord taught the intensity of the life He required by taking Old Testament passages which refer to the crisis of the last days, and applying them to the daily life of His people. Take Is. 26:20, which speaks of how in the final tribulation, God&rsquo;s people will shut the doors around them and pray. The Lord applies this to the daily, regular prayer of His people- we are to pray in secret, in our room, with doors closed (Mt. 6:6)- clearly an allusion to the Isaiah passage. In the time of Elisha we read that when a problem arose, the people concerned went indoors and shut the door. Going inside and shutting the door is associated with prayer, both by the Lord (Mt. 6:6) and Elisha himself (2 Kings 4:33). The other instances of shutting the door don&rsquo;t involve prayer, but they involve obediently doing something in faith- the woman shut the door upon her sons and poured out the oil in faith; she shut the door upon her sick son (2 Kings 4:5,21). Perhaps the implication is that what she did in faith and hope was read by God as prayer, even though she didn&rsquo;t apparently verbalize anything.&nbsp; The widow woman shut the door and started to pour out the oil into the vessels (2 Kings 4:5); the way the Lord alludes to this implies that she prayed before she started pouring, and yet she was sure already that it would happen (Mt. 6:6). This should inspire a spirit of soberness in our prayers.</p> <p><em>And your Father who sees in secret shall reward you-&nbsp;</em>We should be saying and expressing things to God which are our most intense, essential, personal feelings. We cannot, therefore, easily use trite, stock phrases in our personal prayers. Note the grammatically needless repetition of the personal pronoun in Mt. 6:6: &quot;You, when&nbsp;<em>you</em>&nbsp;pray, enter into&nbsp;<em>your&nbsp;</em>closet, and when&nbsp;<em>you&nbsp;</em>have shut&nbsp;<em>your&nbsp;</em>door, pray to&nbsp;<em>your&nbsp;</em>Father, which is in secret; and&nbsp;<em>your</em> Father who sees in secret shall reward&nbsp;<em>you</em>&nbsp;openly&quot;. Likewise when reading the Psalms, especially 71, note how many times David addresses God with the personal pronoun: thee, thy, thou&hellip; it really is a personal relationship.</p> 144140677<p>6:7&nbsp;<em>And in praying do not use vain repetitions, as the Gentiles do, for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking-&nbsp;</em>We will not use &quot;vain repetitions&quot; (Mt. 6:7); the Greek means literally 'to stutter / stammer with the&nbsp;<em>logos</em>'. We know what the man with a chronic stammer is trying to say before he actually finishes saying it. To hear him saying the same syllables again and again is a frustration for us. It's a telling way of putting it. God knows our need before we ask (Mt. 6:8). Say it, if we have to be explicit, and mean what we ask. And leave it there. 'Don't keep stammering on in your prayers' is to be connected with what comes a bit later: &quot;Take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? Or, What shall we drink? Or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed? (For after all these things do the Gentiles seek)... but seek (i.e. pray for, Is. 55:16) the Kingdom of God, and His (imputed) righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you&quot; (Mt. 6:31-33). We are not merely to believe that what we ask for we will receive. Note how again the word&nbsp;<em>logos</em>&nbsp;occurs; we commented several times in chapter 5 that this is a core idea in the Sermon. Our innermost thought and intention is of the essence.</p> 145140688<p>6:8&nbsp;<em>Therefore, do not be like them! Even before you ask Him, your Father knows </em>- This gives a profound insight into the purpose of prayer. Prayer is not in order to inform God of human need. He knows all things, and He knows every human need. So if prayer is not in order to inform God of anything, what is it for? Ultimately, it is for our benefit. Keeping on and on repeating our perceived needs, repeating them vainly, as if we are endlessly stuttering, is actually a form of selfishness. Prayer is to be about dialogue with God, sharing life with Him, confession, sharing thoughts. An analysis of David's prayers as recorded in the book of Psalms shows that only about 5% of the verses are requests for anything material. The rest is simply talking with God. The idea of prayer as a mindless repetition of specific needs, in the belief that the more times we state them, the more likely God is to respond- is the very opposite of the kind of prayer which God intends. The Lord's model prayer which He goes on to give features only one request for anything material- and that is simply a request that God gives us enough food for today.</p> <p>The Kingdom prophecy that &ldquo;Before they call, I will answer; and while they are yet speaking, I will hear&quot; (Is. 65:24) is applied to us&nbsp;<em>now</em>&nbsp;(Mt. 6:8)- as if answered prayer is a foretaste of the Kingdom life.</p> <p><em>What things you need-&nbsp;</em>The hope of the future Kingdom means that we will not now be materialistic. It will give us strength against materialism. And the model prayer was given by Jesus in the context of His comment on how some tend to always be asking God for material things. The Lord teaches that the paramount thing we should request is the coming of the Kingdom, and our forgiveness so that we might partake in it.&nbsp;<em>This</em>&nbsp;is the request we should be making- for &quot;Your Father knoweth what things ye have need of&hellip; after&nbsp;<em>this</em>&nbsp;manner therefore pray ye&hellip;&quot; (Mt. 6:9,10). Later in Mt. 6 the Lord repeats the same words: &quot;Your heavenly Father&nbsp;<em>knoweth that ye have need of all these things</em>&hellip; seek ye first his Kingdom&quot; (Mt. 6:32-34 RV). The structure of the Lord's prayer reflects this- for the first and only request in it is a seeking for the coming of His Kingdom. The RV of Heb. 10:34,35 brings out well the same theme: &quot; Ye took joyfully the spoiling of your&nbsp;<em>possessions</em>, knowing that ye have your own selves for a better&nbsp;<em>possession</em>&quot; (RVmg). Having warned against materialism, the Lord bids His men to &ldquo;rather seek ye the Kingdom of God... it is your Father&rsquo;s good pleasure to give you the Kingdom&rdquo; (Lk. 9:31,32) in the place of seeking for material things. The more we grasp that it really is God&rsquo;s will that we will be there, the more strength we will have to resist seeking for material things in this life. By being sure that we will be there, the Kingdom becomes our treasure, where our heart is, rather than any material treasure in this life (Lk. 9:34).</p> 146140699<p>6:9&nbsp;<em>In this manner you should pray-</em>&nbsp;The model prayer given by the Lord can of course be used just as it is. But it&rsquo;s worth noting that the Lord&rsquo;s own subsequent prayers, and some of Paul, repeated the essence of some of the phrases in it, but in different words. This may be a useful pattern for us in learning how to formulate prayers. The prayer of Jesus in Jn. 17 is in some ways an expanded restatement of the model prayer. In it, the Lord asks for the Father&rsquo;s Name to be hallowed or glorified (Jn. 17:1,11,12); for His work or will to be done or finished (Jn. 17:4); for deliverance from the evil one (Jn. 17:15). The prayer of Jn. 17 can be divided into three units of about the same length (Jn. 17:1-8; 9-19; 20-26). Each has the theme of glory, of directly addressing the Father, and of the needs of God&rsquo;s people- all clearly taken from the model prayer.</p> <p><em>Our Father</em>- The model prayer begins with the words &quot;Our Father&quot;. Straight away we are bidden remember that no man is an island; the Lord intended us to be aware of the entire community of believers in our private prayers. &quot;Give us this day&nbsp;<em>our</em>&nbsp;daily bread&quot; may appear hard for comfortably off Christians to pray- until they grasp that they are praying for &quot;our&quot; daily bread, not &quot;my&quot; daily bread. There are so many in the brotherhood for whom having daily bread is indeed a constantly uncertain question. We should be aware of the whole brotherhood; and pray that &quot;we&quot; will be given our bread for today.&nbsp;</p> <p><em>Who is in Heaven</em>- A feature of Biblical prayers is the way they start with some reference to God, often involving several clauses. We are to firstly visualize Him there. This is to be connected with the idea of lifting the eyes to Heaven at the start of a prayer (Ps. 121:1; 123:1; Ez. 23:27; Dan. 4:34; Lk. 16:23; 18:13; Jn. 11:41; 17:1). &quot;God&nbsp;<em>is in Heaven</em>, and thou upon earth; therefore let thy words be few (more often translated &quot;little&quot;)&quot; (Ecc. 5:2). Ezra, Nehemiah and Solomon all start their major prayers with a reference to the fact that God really&nbsp;<em>is</em>&nbsp;there in Heaven. The fact that God is a material, corporeal being is vital here. The very fact God has a spatial location, in Heaven, with Christ at His right hand, indicates of itself that God is a physical rather than purely spiritual being. The fact Christ really is there, seated at God's right hand interceding for us, was a concept which filled Paul's thinking (Rom. 8:34; Eph. 1:20; Col. 3:1; Heb. 1:3,13; 8:1; 10:12; 12:2 cp. 1 Pet. 3:22). This teaching about our having a&nbsp;<em>Heavenly&nbsp;</em>Father may appear quite painless to accept; but it was radical, demanding stuff in the first century. The family then was &ldquo;the centrally located institution maintaining societal existence&hellip; it [was] the primary focus of personal loyalty and it [held] supreme sway over individual life&rdquo;. &ldquo;Our father,&nbsp;<em>who is in Heaven</em>&rdquo; was a prayer hard to pray if one really accepted the full import of the words; every bit as much as it is today. The idea of belonging to another family, of which the invisible Lord Jesus in Heaven was the head, belonging to a new society of world-wide brothers and sisters, where the Lord from Heaven held &ldquo;supreme sway over individual life&rdquo;, was radical indeed. It took huge commitment and a deep faith in this invisible head of the new family to step out from ones existing family. And the call of Christ is no less radical today. The social circle at uni, the guys at work, our unbelieving&nbsp;family members&hellip; now all take a radical second place to our precious family in Christ. And yet we so easily abuse or disregard the importance of our spiritual family; we too easily exclude them, won&rsquo;t meet with them, can&rsquo;t be bothered about them. &nbsp;&nbsp; &lt;&gt;<em>Let Your Name be glorified</em>- &ldquo;Hallowed / sanctified be Your name&quot; uses an aorist tense which implies that it will be accomplished as a one-time act; at the coming of the Lord. Indeed, the aorist tenses in the Lord's model prayer are arresting; each phrase of the prayer asks for something to be done in a one-time sense. This alone suggests an intended 'answer' in terms of the final establishment of the Kingdom. &ldquo;Hallowed be Your Name&rdquo; was actually one of the Eighteen Benedictions used by most Jews at the time. This common phrase was consciously seen as a reference to the YHWH Name (Hal Taussig,&nbsp;<em>Jesus Before God: The Prayer Life of the Historical Jesus</em>&nbsp;(Santa Rosa, CA: The Polebridge Press, 1999) p. 76). But the Lord purposefully juxtaposes&nbsp;<em>Abba</em>, &ldquo;Father&rdquo;, with that phrase. This Aramaic, non-Hebrew, familiar word, an equivalent of &ldquo;Daddy!&rdquo;, is placed by the Lord next to Judaism&rsquo;s most well-known and frequently used blessing of the YHWH Name. By doing so, He was making the Name even more hallowed and glorious- by showing that the essence of that Name speaks of familiar family relationship with us, and is no longer the carefully guarded preserve of Hebrew people, thought, culture and language. &lt;&gt;The Lord prayed this in Gethsemane; and it took Him so long to say these words that the disciples fell asleep.</p> 14714061010<p>6:10&nbsp;<em>Your Kingdom come-&nbsp;</em>Greek scholars have pointed out that some phrases in the Lord's prayer show a remarkable lack of etiquette and the usual language of petition to a superior; literally, the text reads: &quot;Come Your Kingdom, done Your will&rdquo;. Is this part of the &quot;boldness&quot; in approaching God which the NT speaks of? That God should encourage us in this (although He also encourages us in reverential fear of Him) reflects something of His humility. The Kingdom of God refers to that over which God reigns. We are &ldquo;a colony of Heaven&rdquo; in our response to His principles (Phil. 3:20 Moffat). We are to pray for His Kingdom to come, so that His will may be done on earth (Mt. 6:10). The Kingdom and the doing of His will are therefore paralleled. His Kingdom reigns over all in Heaven, for there, all the Angels are obedient to Him (Ps. 103:19-21). By praying for the Kingdom to come on earth we are not only praying for the Lord&rsquo;s second coming, but for the progress of the Gospel world-wide right now. Not only that more men and women will hear it and respond, but that those who have accepted it might work God&rsquo;s will rather than their own to an ever greater extent. Whether or not we can physically spread the Gospel is in this sense irrelevant; our prayer should be, first and foremost if the pattern of the Lord&rsquo;s prayer is to be taken exactly, for the triumph of the Gospel world-wide. It has been pointed out by Philip Yancey that &quot;Thy Kingdom come!&quot; was violently in conflict with the Roman view that the lives of a subject people like Israel belonged to Caesar's kingdom.</p> <p>&quot;'Your kingdom come!' is therefore a word of defiance; to pray it is a subversive activity. This is also how the authorities understand the ministry of Jesus: it is subversive and not to be tolerated&quot; (Philip Yancey,&nbsp;<em>The Jesus I Never Knew</em>&nbsp;(Harper Collins, 1998). The word&nbsp;<em>basileia&nbsp;</em>translated &ldquo;Kingdom&rdquo; definitely brought to mind the imperial reign or empire of Rome. Thus Hal Taussig comments: &ldquo;Whenever anyone in Jesus&rsquo; time used the term &ldquo;basileia&rdquo;, the first thing people thought of was the Roman &ldquo;kingdom&rdquo; or &ldquo;empire&rdquo;. That is, &ldquo;basileia&rdquo; really meant &ldquo;Roman empire&rdquo; to most people who heard it&hellip; It was to many ears a direct insult to the Roman empire. Uttered in the presence of Roman soldiers, such a prayer could have gotten [a person] in immediate trouble&rdquo; (Hal Taussig,&nbsp;<em>op cit</em>&nbsp;pp. 21,96). And so with us, the seeking of the future Kingdom is a radical denial of the spirit of our age, which seeks its Kingdom now; it demands a separation from the world around us. The well-known description of the Kingdom in Is. 2:1-4 is in the context of appealing to Israel to change their ways. Because they would&nbsp;<em>then</em>&nbsp;walk in the ways of the Lord, therefore &quot;O house of Israel [therefore] Come ye [now] and walk in the ways of the Lord&quot; (2:5). The hope of Israel ought to motivate Israel to live the Kingdom life here and now.</p> <p><em>Your will be done- A</em>gain using an aorist which demands a one-time fulfilment- in the sense of 'May Your will come about...'. The will of God is often associated with His ultimate plan of salvation (e.g. Eph. 1:5-12; Col. 1:20). It has been pointed out that &quot;Hallowed be Your Name&quot; is (grammatically) a request for action, rather than simply an expression of praise. Jesus prayed this in Gethsemane and it cost Him His life. We know from the Old Testament that God in fact &quot;hallows&quot; His own Name (Ez. 20:41; 28:25; 36:22,23; 38:16; 39:27). By asking God to &quot;hallow&quot; or sanctify / realize that Name in our lives, we are definitely praying in accordance with His will. He wishes to do this- and so He will surely do this in our lives if we ask Him. All the principles connected with His Name will be articulated in our lives and experience for sure if we pray for this- for we will be praying according to His revealed will in His word. And the ultimate fulfilment of all this will be in final coming of the Kingdom. But see on 7:21.<br /> In interpreting the Sermon on the Mount, we need to look for similar phrases within the Sermon in order to grasp the sense the Lord was seeking to develop. And we have just such a connection of though here when we observe that the Sermon concludes with an appeal to 'do the will of My Father' (7:21; and the theme continues in the Lord's teaching, e.g. Mt. 12:50; 21:31; Lk. 12:47). We are praying therefore not only for Christ's return when the literal coming of the Kingdom on earth will mean that God's will shall be done on earth. We are asking for the principles of God's rulership / Kingdom over men (as outlined in the Lord's parables of the Kingdom) to be manifested in our lives; and for strength to do God's will on earth here and now. In probing deeper how the Lord understood the Father's will, we find the term&nbsp;specifically and repeatedly linked with the salvation of persons, supremely enabled through the Lord's death (Mt. 18:14; Jn. 6:39,40; Gal. 1:4; Eph. 1:5). We would therefore be justified in seeing this request for the Kingdom to come and [in parallel] God's will to be done as a request for the successful spreading of the Gospel worldwide (see note on &quot;in earth&quot; below). The coming of the Kingdom and the doing of God's will are in parallel- the coming of the Kingship of God in human life means that humans do God's will as taught by the Lord in the Sermon. Of course, the final physical coming of the Kingdom is also in view, but that is the final manifestation of the process which is now ongoing in human hearts. This more internal, spiritual interpretation of the coming of the Kingdom would be in line with the rest of the Sermon, which emphasizes the rule of Divine principles in the deepest parts of the human heart.</p> <p>This phrase occurs verbatim on the Lord's lips when He Himself prayed in Gethsemane &quot;Your will be done&quot; (Mt. 26:42). So often we find the Lord Himself being the embodiment of His own teaching in the Sermon. The difficulty with which the Lord said those words shows how hard it is to really pray 'the Lord's prayer'. The way it can be rattled off so quickly is tragic.&nbsp;</p> <p><em>On earth as it is in Heaven</em>- Gk.&nbsp;<em>epi</em>&nbsp;the earth, as the will of God is now done in (Gk.&nbsp;<em>en</em>) Heaven.&nbsp;<em>Epi</em>&nbsp;in this context has the sense of being spread throughout; whereas&nbsp;<em>en</em>&nbsp;more simply and directly means &quot;in&quot;. Is there a hint here that we are to be praying for the success of the geographical spreading of the Gospel of the Kingdom throughout the earth? Not just knowledge of that Gospel, but people actually submitting to God's Kingship and living by Kingdom principles; not just baptisms but transformed lives. By doing God's will as it is now done in Heaven, we are developing outposts of God's Heavenly Kingdom here on earth, and this will come to term in the return of Christ and the more physical establishment of the Kingdom on the planet, the Kingdom of Heaven on earth, in every fibre of earthly existence.</p> 14814061111<p>6:11&nbsp;<em>Give us this day our daily bread-&nbsp;</em>This has long been recognized as an inadequate translation of a very strange Greek phrase. The adjective&nbsp;<em>epiousios</em>&nbsp;in &quot;our daily bread&quot; is one example of Christ&rsquo;s radical use of language; there in the midst of the prayer which the Lord bid His followers constantly use, was a word which was virtually unknown to them. Our bread only-for-this-day was the idea; the word is used for the rations of soldiers. The idea is 'Give us today, right now, the bread / food of tomorrow'. In ancient Judaism,&nbsp;<em>mahar&nbsp;</em>means not only tomorrow but the great Tomorrow, i.e. the Kingdom. Jesus spoke of the inauguration of the future Kingdom in terms of eating food together (Mt. 8:11; Lk. 6:21; 14:15; 22:29,30; Rev. 7:16). 'Give us the future Kingdom today, may it come right now' is perhaps one of the levels on which He intended us to understand the prayer. The aorist implies: 'Give us this once and final time' the bread of tomorrow. The Lord was surely alluding to the way that Israel in the wilderness had been told that &quot;in the morning [tomorrow] you shall be filled with bread&quot;; and this was widely understood in first century Palestine as being typical of the coming of Messiah's Kingdom. Notice too how Is. 55:10 connects the descent of God's word made flesh in Jesus, with the giving of bread. And one practical point. Even though we may have daily bread, we are still to pray for it. It&rsquo;s rather like Zech. 10:1: &ldquo;Ask ye of the Lord rain in the time of the latter rain&rdquo;; even when it&rsquo;s the season, still ask Him for what it appears you naturally already have. Israel were fed with manna one day at a time- this is so stressed (Ex. 16:4,19,20).</p> <p>The idea of 'daily bread' recalls the gift of manna. There was to be no hoarding of manna- anything extra was to be shared with others (Ex. 16:8; 2 Cor. 8:15). But we live in a world where the financial challenges of retirement, housing, small family size [if any family at all]... mean that there appears no other option but to 'hoard manna' for the future. To some extent this may be a reflection of the way that life in these very last days is indeed quite different to anything previously known in history; but all the same, we face a very real challenge. Are we going to hoard manna, for our retirement, for our unknown futures? Or will we rise up to the challenge to trust in God's day by day provision, and share what's left over? &quot;Give us this day our bread-for-today&quot; really needs to be prayed by us daily. Let's give full weight to the Lord's command to pray for only &quot;our daily bread&quot;, the daily rations granted to a soldier on active duty. It's almost impossible to translate this term adequately in English. In the former USSR and Communist East Germany (DDR), there was the idea that nobody in a Socialist state should go hungry. And so if you were hungry in a restaurant after eating, you had the right to ask for some food, beyond what you paid for. In the former East Germany, the term&nbsp;<em>S&auml;ttigungsbeilage&nbsp;</em>was used for this in restaurants- the portion of necessity. It's this food we should ask God for- the food to keep us alive, the food which a Socialist restaurant would give you for free. We shouldn't be thinking in terms of anything more than this. It's an eloquent essay in what our attitude to wealth, materialism and long term self-provision ought to be.&nbsp;</p> <p>To steal is to take the Name of Yahweh called upon us in vain (Prov. 30:9), and therefore we ask to be given&nbsp;<em>only</em>&nbsp;our daily bread and no more (NIV); not so much that if we are found out, the Name will be brought into disrepute, but rather that we personally will have blasphemed the imperative of Yahweh which is heavy upon us; these words of Agur are applied to us in Mt. 6:11.</p> 14914061212<p>6:12&nbsp;<em>And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors</em>- Probably an allusion to the jubilee. We release / forgive men their debt to us, as God does to us. If we chose not to participate in this Jubilee by not releasing others, then we cannot expect to receive it ourselves (note the Jubilee allusions in Lk. 24:47). Around 90% of Old Testament references to sin use the metaphor of a weight or burden, which can be lifted by forgiveness. The Lord Jesus prefers to speak of sin as a debt, which can be forgiven by not being demanded and the debt erased. The metaphor of debt is somewhat richer than that or burdens. It opens the possibility that God lent to us, that He allowed us to get into that debt- because He didn't strike us dead for the sin. 'Debt' also carries with it the idea that we would like to repay, but cannot. This is the flavour of the Lord's opening to the Sermon- that He is the solution for those who would like to be spiritual but feel unable to be as they would wish to be (see on 5:6). The release of debt carries with it a greater sense of gratitude, knowing that we should not have got into the debt in the first place. All this was foreseen by the Lord in His change of metaphor from sin as weight to sin as debt. It has been noted that sin was not spoken as debt until Jesus introduced the idea. We are in debt to God. And yet so many have the idea that God owes them, and big time. The prayer of Apollonius of Tyana was that &ldquo;Oye gods, give me the things which are owing to me&rdquo;. And that ancient attitude is alive today, leading to some who think it is their right not to work and to be supported, or expect some kind of material blessing from God. When actually, we are in deep debt to God, and forgiven it only by pure grace.</p> <p>Those &ldquo;indebted&rdquo; to us (Lk. 11:4) are those who have a debt to us. But Biblically, who are those who are &lsquo;indebted&rsquo;? The same Greek word occurs often in the New Testament. Mt. 18:30 explains that there is a debt to us if we have been sinned against and it&rsquo;s not been reconciled. The debt our brethren have to us, and we to them, is to love one another, to lay our lives down for each other, to entertain and receive each other at home (s.w. 3 Jn. 8; 1 Jn. 3:16; 4:11). A wife has her husband in her debt if he doesn&rsquo;t love her with the love of Christ (Eph. 5:28); our brethren are in debt to us if they don&rsquo;t give us material help when we truly need it (Rom. 15:27); or if they don&rsquo;t wash our feet (Jn. 13:14). A debt implies that it&rsquo;s not been paid; and so I come to the conclusion that the&nbsp;<em>forgiveness&nbsp;</em>of our debtors is forgiving our brethren when they don&rsquo;t love us as they should, don&rsquo;t care for us&hellip; and never apologize or rectify it. The debt is outstanding; they&rsquo;ve not cleared it. But we are to forgive it; we are to forgive unconditionally, without demanding restoration or grovelling repentance before us. This is the challenge of that phrase in the Lord&rsquo;s prayer. For we ask for &ldquo;our sins&rdquo; in general to be likewise forgiven; and they surely include many &lsquo;secret sins&rsquo; which we don&rsquo;t even perceive or haven&rsquo;t repented of. And further. &ldquo;As we also forgive every one that is indebted to us&rdquo; (Lk. 11:4) can actually be read as a word of command, a statement that is actually a request. The request is that the sins of those who&rsquo;ve sinned against us be forgiven- in this sense, &ldquo;whosesoever sins ye remit [s.w. forgive] they are remitted unto them&rdquo; (Jn. 20:23). That&rsquo;s another challenging thought. If they&rsquo;re impenitent, how can they be forgiven? But if&nbsp;<em>we</em>&nbsp;forgive them, perhaps we are to understand that God is happy to forgive them. If we feel, as I do, that we&rsquo;ve been sinned against so much&hellip; then we have a wonderful opportunity to gain our own forgiveness and even that of those people&hellip; by forgiving them. The more I hurt at how others have treated me, the more I realize my own desperate need for forgiveness. The two things, as the Lord foresaw in His model prayer, dovetail seamlessly together.<br /> Further evidence that Jesus prayed in Aramaic is found by comparing the two records of the Lord's prayer; Matthew has &quot;forgive us our debts&quot;, whilst Luke has &quot;forgive us our sins&quot;. The Aramaic word&nbsp;<em>hobha</em>&nbsp;means both 'sin' and 'debt'. The conclusion is therefore that Jesus taught the disciples to pray in their native Aramaic dialect rather than in Hebrew or Greek. Further, the Lord's prayer has many links to the&nbsp;<em>Kaddish</em>, an ancient Aramaic prayer which included phrases like &quot;Exalted and hallowed be his great name... may he let his kingdom rule... speedily and soon&quot;.</p> <p>&quot;As we<em>...&quot; </em>is a challenge.&nbsp;The crucial little Greek word&nbsp;<em>hos</em>&nbsp;is elsewhere translated: according as, as soon as, even as, like as, as greatly as, since, whenever, while. Clearly enough, our forgiveness by God is dependent upon and of the same nature as our forgiveness of others.</p> <p>&quot;Forgive us our / debts sins as we have forgiven those who sin against us&quot; (Lk.)<em>&nbsp;</em>again uses the aorist which implies 'Forgive us this once'. Could this not be an anticipation of the state of the believer before the judgment seat of Christ- 'forgive me please this once for all my sins, as I have forgiven those who sinned against me'. If so, we have a powerful exhortation to forgive&nbsp;<em>now</em>; for in that awesome moment, it will be so apparent that the Lord's gracious acceptance of us will be directly proportional to how deeply we accepted and forgave our brethren in this life. Notice how strongly Jesus links future judgment with our present forgiveness (Lk. 6:37). He teaches us to pray now for forgiveness on the basis of how we have forgiven others, knowing that in prayer, we have a foretaste of the judgment. Now we can come boldly before the throne of grace in prayer, just as we will come before that same throne in the last day.</p> 15014061313<p>6:13&nbsp;<em>And lead us not</em>- The Greek&nbsp;<em>eisphero</em>&nbsp;definitely means to lead inward. The internal process of temptation is in view here, as explained specifically by James 1:13-15- which may be a specific comment on this part of the Sermon. Much of James is an expansion upon the Sermon. Whilst the process of temptation is internal (and note how internal processes are the great theme of the Sermon), God is capable of leading a person in the process. The dynamics in the upward and downward spirals are ultimately of God.</p> <p><em>Into temptation but deliver us from evil- </em>This<em>&nbsp;</em>can only really come true when we are changed into divine nature; for only then will we be freed /delivered [aorist- once, finally, for all time] from the 'devil' of sin. The word for trial / temptation is&nbsp;<em>peirasmos</em>, and I have never been entirely satisfied that we can reconcile the Lord's words here with the fact that God does not tempt any man (James 1:13-15). However, I feel happier with the idea that the Lord may specifically be bidding us pray for deliverance from the latter day holocaust to come upon the saints. The Lord Jesus can keep us from &quot;the hour of trial [<em>peirasmos</em>] which is coming on the whole world&quot; (Rev. 3:10). When the disciples were bidden pray that they enter not into temptation (Mk. 14:38-&nbsp;<em>peirasmos</em>&nbsp;again), they were being asked to pray the model prayer with passionate concentration and meaning. Yet those men in Gethsemane were and are representative of the latter day saints who are bidden pray that they may escape &quot;all those things&rdquo;, the hour of trial /<em>peirasmos&nbsp;</em>which is coming, and to stand acceptably before the Son of man at His coming. We ought to be praying fervently for this deliverance; but I wonder how many of us are? For the days of the final tribulation will be shortened for the sake of the elect- i.e., for the sake of their prayers (Mk. 13:19,20). The final tribulation of the last days will be the supreme struggle between the flesh and spirit, between the believer and the world, between Christ and the Biblical 'devil'; and we are to pray that we will be delivered victorious from that struggle. Thus &quot;Lead us not into 'the test'&quot; (Mt. 6:13) could in this context be understood as a plea to save us from entering into the time of final tribulation- just as the Lord specifically exhorts us to pray to be delivered from that time. The implication would be that the final time of testing will be so severe that indeed the elect will scarcely be saved. It seems to me that none of us have the urgent sense of the time of testing ahead which we should have; how many are praying daily to be spared it? How many are in actual denial that it will ever come, even though it's clear enough in Scripture?</p> <p>We must pray not to be led into temptation (Mt. 6:13); but when we fall into such temptation (s.w.), count it all joy, James says (1:2). The exercise of praying not to experience those temptations was for our spiritual benefit, and God is willing that it should be so.</p> <p><em>&quot;</em>Deliver us from evil&quot; is surely alluded to in 2 Pet. 2:9 &ldquo;The Lord knows how to&nbsp;<em>deliver</em>&nbsp;the Godly out of temptations&rdquo;. Evil and temptation are thereby paralleled.</p> <p>The Lord Jesus based this part of His prayer on Old Testament passages like 1 Chron. 4:10; Ps. 25:22; 26:11; 31:8; 34:22; 69:18; 78:35,42; 140:1 and Prov. 2:12; 6:24, which ask for &lsquo;deliverance&rsquo; from evil<em> people</em>, sin, distress, tribulation etc. here on earth. Not one of those passages speaks of deliverance from a personal, superhuman Satan. Esther&rsquo;s prayer in Es. 4:19 LXX is very similar &ndash; &ldquo;Deliver us from the hand of the evildoer&rdquo;, but that &lsquo;evildoer&rsquo; was Haman, not any personal, superhuman Satan. Even if we insist upon reading &lsquo;the evil one&rsquo;, &ldquo;the evil one&rdquo; in the Old Testament was always &ldquo;the evil man in Israel&rdquo; (Dt. 17:12; 19:19; 22:21&ndash;24 cp. 1 Cor. 5:13) &ndash; never a superhuman being. And there may be another allusion by the Lord to Gen. 48:16, where God is called the One &ldquo;who has redeemed me from all evil&rdquo;. As the Old Testament &lsquo;word made flesh&rsquo;, the thinking of the Lord Jesus was constantly reflective of Old Testament passages; but in every case here, the passages He alluded to were&nbsp;<em>not&nbsp;</em>concerning a superhuman Devil figure. God &lsquo;delivers from&rsquo; &ldquo;every trouble&rdquo; (Ps. 54:7), persecutors and enemies (Ps. 142:6; 69:14) &ndash; but as Ernst Lohmeyer notes, &ldquo;There is no instance of the [orthodox understanding of the] Devil being called &lsquo;the evil one&rsquo; in the Old Testament or in the Jewish writings&rdquo; (Ernst Lohmeyer,&nbsp;<em>The Lord's Prayer</em>, translated by John Bowden (London: Collins, 1965) p. 214).</p> <p>It&rsquo;s been observed that every aspect of the Lord&rsquo;s prayer can be interpreted with reference to the future coming of the Kingdom of God on earth. Prayer for deliverance from evil, the time of testing (Gk.), would then tally well with the Lord&rsquo;s exhortation to pray that we may be delivered from the final time of evil coming on the earth (Lk. 21:36). Another insight into this petition is that God does in fact lead men in a downward spiral as well as in an upward spiral of relationship with Him &ndash; Pharaoh would be the classic example. &ldquo;Why do you make us err from your ways?&rdquo; was the lament of Israel to their God in Is. 63:17. It is perhaps this situation more than any which we should fear &ndash; being hardened in sin, drawing ever closer to the waterfall of destruction, until we come to the point that the forces behind us are now too strong to resist... Saul lying face down in the dirt of ancient Palestine the night before his death would be the classic visual image of it. And the Lord would be urging us to pray earnestly that we are not led in that downward spiral. His conversation in Gethsemane, both with the disciples and with His Father, had many points of contact with the text of the Lord&rsquo;s Prayer. &ldquo;Watch and pray that you enter not into temptation&rdquo; (Mt. 26:41) would perhaps be His equivalent of &ldquo;lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil&rdquo;.</p> <p><em>For Yours is the Kingdom, the power and the glory, for ever</em>- AV and some manuscripts. &quot;For Yours<em>...&quot; </em>is significant. The sense of &lsquo;for&rsquo; is definitely &lsquo;because&hellip;&rsquo;, but it could simply be with reference to the entire preceding prayer. Or it could particularly be with reference to the preceding request: &ldquo;Deliver us from evil&rdquo;. In any case, the question arises: Why should God answer the prayer, be it the entire prayer or the specific request for deliverance from evil, because the Kingdom, power and glory is God&rsquo;s? The idea may be that because the Kingdom we seek now to be part of, and to eternally live in, is God&rsquo;s, therefore it follows that He earnestly desires to grant it to us His children. And we plead that He hears our requests, especially for deliverance from temptation and evil, because surely He wants to give us His glorious Kingdom. Because the Kingdom is&nbsp;<em>His</em>, all glory is to Him, and He wants to see us giving Him glory; because He has all power- therefore we ask Him to give us the requests we have made, because they are all intended to achieve glory to Him and to ensure our entry into His Kingdom. Another angle of exposition would be to consider that we ask for deliverance from temptation and sin because we know that God has rulership (&ldquo;Kingdom&rdquo;) and power over all- given His unlimited physical and spiritual power, we ask Him to use it to answer our requests. This reasoning of course assumes that all that has preceded in the prayer is in order for us to enter the Kingdom and to see His glory worked out. Any requests for merely human benefit and advantage cannot be concluded with such an argument- that we ask God to hear this&nbsp;<em>because</em>&nbsp;the Kingdom, power and glory is His.&nbsp;</p> <p>This is the appropriate conclusion to a prayer that asks for the establishment of that Kingdom. Whilst commenting upon the Lord's prayer, it is worth pointing out that the Lord repeated the essence of each phrase at various points during His life. When facing His ultimate struggle when facing up to the cross, He asked that the Father's Name would be glorified (Jn. 12:28)- quoting His own words from His model prayer. It hurt and cost Him so much to pray that prayer- the prayer we may have known for so many years that we can pray it almost at no cost. But to truly ask for the Father's will to be done is in fact a commitment to the way of the cross (Jn. 6:38; Heb. 10:7-10; Mk. 14:36). So let us pray the prayer- but putting meaning into the words.</p> <p>May I place two well-known Scriptures together in your minds. &ldquo;<em>Yours&nbsp;</em>[God&rsquo;s] is the Kingdom&rdquo;. And &ldquo;Blessed are you poor, for&nbsp;<em>yours</em>&nbsp;is the Kingdom&nbsp;<em>of God</em>&rdquo; (Lk. 6:20). The Lord assures us that the Father wants to give&nbsp;<em>His</em>&nbsp;Kingdom to those who are poor in spirit, to the broken, to the self-doubters, the uncertain, those uncomfortable with themselves, the unbearably and desperately lonely, the awkwardly spoken&hellip; the poor in spirit. Those who would be the very last to believe that God would give&nbsp;<em>them</em>&nbsp;what is evidently&nbsp;<em>His</em>&nbsp;Kingdom. But not only&nbsp;<em>will</em>&nbsp;the Father do this, but Jesus stresses that it&nbsp;<em>is</em>&nbsp;ours right now. The certainty of the glory that will be revealed for us means that we cope better with suffering; as Paul writes, they &ldquo;are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us&rdquo; (Rom. 8:18).&nbsp;</p> <p><em>Amen</em>- AV and some manuscripts. Joachim Jeremias mentions that &quot;according to idiomatic Jewish usage the word&nbsp;<em>amen&nbsp;</em>is used to affirm, endorse or appropriate the words of another person [whereas] in the words of Jesus it is used to introduce and endorse Jesus' own words... to end one's own prayer with&nbsp;<em>amen&nbsp;</em>was considered a sign of ignorance&quot; (See the article &quot;Amen&quot; in Joachim Jeremias,&nbsp;<em>New Testament Theology</em>&nbsp;(New York: Scribner's, 1971) pp. 35,36). Thus the Lord Jesus was introducing a radically new type of speaking. But He did so because He wanted us to realize that if our spirit is united with God&rsquo;s, then our words to God are in a sense God talking to Himself; hence we say &lsquo;Amen&rsquo; to our own words, when &lsquo;amen&rsquo; was usually a confirmation of God&rsquo;s words. Jn. 16:26 fits in here, where in the context of speaking of the unity of the believers with the Father and with Himself, the Lord says that He will not need to pray for the believer, but God Himself will hear the believer. I take this to mean that Jesus foresaw that the time would come when our prayer would be His prayer. It&rsquo;s not so much that He prays for us, but rather prays with us and even through us.</p> 15114061414<p>6:14&nbsp;<em>For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you</em>- The Lord guessed that His teaching to ask for forgiveness &ldquo;as&rdquo; we forgive others would be radical and hard to accept. The Lord&rsquo;s teaching in the prayer [&ldquo;as we forgive&rdquo;] was clear enough, but He repeats it twice (also in :15), so that there be no possible difficulty in interpretation. He rarely spells things out this specifically and with such immediate repetition. The vital, eternally vital need to forgive others is underlined. And the Lord repeats this teaching later in His teaching, with the further detail that unless we forgive others &ldquo;from your hearts&rdquo;, we will not be forgiven (Mt. 18:35; also in Mk. 11:25). This chronic and urgent need to forgive others, aware that&nbsp;<em>how</em>&nbsp;we forgive them is the basis of&nbsp;<em>how</em>&nbsp;God will forgive us, leads to the question of whether we should forgive others without their repentance. If we first demand specific repentance, then this is the basis upon which we are asking to be judged; and we all, surely, sin without repentance, sometimes because at the time we do not perceive the sinfulness of our behaviour.&nbsp;</p> 15214061515<p>6:15 <em>But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses</em>- Paul alludes here in Eph. 4:32. Jesus said: &quot;If you forgive, you'll be forgiven&quot;. Paul subtly changes the tenses: &quot;You've been forgiven already, so forgive&quot;. It's as if Paul is saying: 'Think carefully about Mt. 6:14. Don't think it means 'If you do this, I'll do that for you'. No. God has forgiven you. But that forgiveness is conditional on the fact that in the future you will forgive people. If you don't, then that forgiveness you've already been given is cancelled. This is what Jesus really had in mind'. This would suggest a very close analysis of those simple words of Jesus, using all the logic and knowledge of Biblical principles which Paul had. Note that the command to forgive our debtors when we pray is applied by Paul to the need to forgive those who sin against us in the ecclesia (Eph. 4:32; Col. 3:13).</p> 15314061616<p>6:16&nbsp;<em>Moreover when you fast, do not look gloomy like the hypocrites. For they disfigure their faces</em>- There is a semantic connection between these words. A&nbsp;<em>hupokrites</em>&nbsp;was a play actor, one who wore a mask. These hypocrites create false faces for themselves, that is the idea- their disfigured faces are but as a mask. The Greek for &ldquo;disfigure&rdquo; occurs only five times in the NT, once here- and twice in the next few verses, 6:19,20, where the Lord warns that external material wealth &lsquo;corrupts&rsquo;, destroys itself, or is disfigured. By disfiguring their faces, they were destroying their faces, destroying themselves because they wanted to appear other than they were.</p> <p><em>So that their fasting may be seen by men. Truly I say to you, they have received their reward</em>- &quot;May be seen&quot; is s.w. 6:5, also in Mt. 23:27,28. To act in a way so as to spiritually impress men is especially distasteful to the Lord. The issue of what other churches, ecclesias or individuals will think of us is not to pay any part in our decision making and action. We are living, thinking and deciding in the loving gaze of the Father and Son. The wonder of that should mean that all fear of human criticism or desire for human approval plays absolutely no role.</p> 15414061717<p>6:17 <em>But you, when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face</em>- Every effort is to be made to conceal our spiritual sacrifices. We are to appear as usual (as in Dan. 10:3). We are to be actors, hypocrites, in a good sense. The Lord is also alluding to how the rabbis forbad &quot;washing and anointing&quot; on the day of atonement, which was a day of fasting. The Lord is teaching open defiance to their hypocrisy.&nbsp;</p> 15514061818<p>6:18<em>&nbsp;So you will not be seen by men to fast, but by your Father who is unseen; and your Father, who sees in secret</em>- Gk. &lsquo;the One who is in secret / hidden&rsquo;. The hiddenness of God is in the sense that He specifically looks at the hidden man of the heart (1 Pet. 3:4). This is the sphere in which He operates and sees.</p> <p><em>Shall reward you- </em>&quot;Openly&quot;. Who we will eternally be in the Kingdom, is who we were secretly in this life. What we think about as we fall asleep, as we travel, walk down streets&hellip; this is the essence of the life in Christ. The change of nature we will experience at the Lord&rsquo;s return will simply be a physical manifestation of who we are in spirit in this life. We will be made manifest [s.w.], declared openly, at the day of judgment (1 Cor. 3:13). This means that we will be preserved as we spiritually are in this life. This means that the development of our spiritual person is of paramount importance, because that is how we shall eternally be. The Lord goes right on to warn against materialism (:19,20). But that is in the context of the paramount need for the development of spiritual mindedness. It is petty materialism which is the greatest enemy of this development- the cares of this life and the attainment of material wealth are what crowd out spiritual thinking. The treasure, the most important thing in our life, is our &ldquo;heart&rdquo;, our thinking (6:21; &ldquo;the good treasure of the heart&rdquo;, 12:35). Building up spirituality is placed in opposition to building up material wealth.</p> 15614061919<p>6:19&nbsp;<em>Do not store up for yourselves treasures upon the earth</em>- see on 6:18 &ldquo;openly&rdquo;.</p> <p><em>Where moth and rust consume</em>- Or, &quot;corrupt&quot;. James 5:2 alludes here and states that wealth is already rusted and moth-eaten. So this perhaps was the Lord&rsquo;s idea here, although the grammar is unclear. The idea of gold is that it doesn&rsquo;t rust. What appears to be permanent material wealth is not, and is already rusted in God&rsquo;s eyes.</p> <p><em>And where thieves break in and steal</em>- Literally, &lsquo;dig through&rsquo;. Relevant to the earth houses of the very poorest people. The Lord&rsquo;s return is going to break up the house of those not looking for His return (Mt. 24:43 s.w.). It may be that &lsquo;thieves&rsquo; is an intensive plural referring to the great thief, whom Jesus likens to Himself in Mt. 24:43. In this case He would be saying that He will take human wealth anyway at the last day- so we should give it to Him now and not seek it.<br /> Because we know people (and brethren) who are richer and more wealth-seeking than we are, it's fatally easy to conclude that therefore we aren't rich, therefore we aren't materialistic. This is part of the subtle snare of materialism; that we all think that this is an area where we're not doing too badly; that really, we don't care&nbsp;<em>that</em>&nbsp;much where we live, or what the furniture's like, or whether we have money to take a holiday... But remember, our attitude to materialism is the litmus test of all our spirituality. None of us should be so quick to say that we're OK in this area. &quot;Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break (Gk. dig) through and steal&quot; (Mt. 6:19) was spoken to a huge crowd of Jewish peasants. The Lord wasn't only referring to the few rich men who might be hanging around on the edge of the group. He was talking to all of them. He knew their mud walled homes which thieves could so easily dig through. That little cheap bangle, that ring, thinly buried under the bed mat after the pattern of Achan, that prized tunic... the petty riches of the poor which they so strove for, which&nbsp;<em>to them</em>&nbsp;were priceless treasures. This is what the Lord was getting at; and His point was that&nbsp;<em>every one of us</em>, from beggar to prince, has this 'laying up' mentality. He is almost ruthless in His demands.</p> 15714062020<p>6:20&nbsp;<em>But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust consumes, and where thieves cannot break in or steal</em>- The idea is of incremental growth. It&rsquo;s as if spirituality, both in personality and deed, is carefully noted in Heaven as it occurs.&nbsp;</p> 15814062121<p><span style="font-size: 11pt;">6:21&nbsp;</span><em style="font-size: 11pt;">For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also</em><span style="font-size: 11pt;">- Gk. &lsquo;to there&rsquo;. The direction of our heart is towards where our treasure is. If our treasure is in Heaven, with God, then our life direction will be towards Him and not towards earthly things. The emphasis of the Lord throughout the Sermon has been on the state of the heart. The overall direction of our heart, our thinking, is all important. That direction cannot be both to earthly things and Heavenly things. Laying up treasure on earth cannot be done whilst having treasure in Heaven. The emphasis of course is on &lsquo;laying up&rsquo;, wilfully incrementing, not the mere possession of wealth which the Lord may send into our hands. &lsquo;Laying up&rsquo; means to increment, not to merely possess. But it is the overall direction of our hearts which will be the deciding factor in our eternal destiny; &lsquo;to where&rsquo; they are directed. And we can direct them by deciding what our treasure really is, and where it is.</span></p> 15914062222<p>6:22&nbsp;<em>The lamp of the body is the eye. If therefore your eye is healthy, your whole body shall be full of light</em>- This observation about single-mindedness [&quot;healthy&quot; = 'single'] follows on from the Lord&rsquo;s teaching about the overall direction of the human mind, observing that we cannot have two overall directions for our heart. Our eye must be single, the entrance of light must be only from one source. God gives to all men with a single eye (James 1:5 Gk.); and in response, we too must be single eyed in our giving (Mt. 6:22 s.w.- this is one of James&rsquo; many allusions to the sermon on the mount). If our eye / world-view / outlook on life is&nbsp;<em>single</em>&nbsp;[s.w. &lsquo;simple&rsquo; in the passages quoted], then our whole body / life will be full of light (Mt. 6:22). In daily work, in private reflection and planning for our immediate futures and present needs, there must be a direct and undiluted belief of the teachings of the Gospel, connecting those teachings to our daily life of faith. In this simplicity of the life of faith, in a world that makes life so complicated [especially for the poor], we will find humility. With that simplicity and humility will come peace, and the ability to pray with a concentrated and uncluttered mind, without our thoughts wandering off into the petty troubles of life as we frame our words before Almighty God each morning and night.</p> <p><br /> I&rsquo;ve always sensed that the more complex a person, the harder it is for them to be generous. But we are all commanded to be generous to the Lord&rsquo;s cause, knowing that nothing we have is our own. And I am not only talking to wealthy brethren.&nbsp;<em>All</em>&nbsp;of us have something, and all of us can give something to our brethren. Consider how the poor believers of the first century such as Corinth [amongst whom there were not many rich or mighty, Paul reminds them] collected funds for the poor brethren in Judea. There is a Greek word translated &ldquo;simplicity&rdquo; which is related to the word translated &quot;single&quot; here in Mt. 6:22. It occurs eight times in the NT. Five of these are in 2 Corinthians, written as it was in the context of Corinth giving funds for the Jerusalem poor.</p> <p>Consider how the word is translated:<br /> - Paul had &ldquo;<em>simplicity</em>&nbsp;and Godly sincerity&rdquo; (2 Cor. 1:12)<br /> - They had &ldquo;<em>liberality</em>&rdquo; (2 Cor. 8:2)<br /> - &ldquo;<em>Bountifulness</em>&rdquo; (2 Cor. 9:11)<br /> - Their &ldquo;<em>liberal distribution</em>&rdquo; (2 Cor. 9:13)<br /> - He feared lest they be corrupted from &ldquo;the&nbsp;<em>simplicity</em>&nbsp;that is in Christ&rdquo; (2 Cor. 11:3).</p> <p>Evidently Paul saw a link between generosity and the simplicity of the faith in Christ. It doesn&rsquo;t need a lexicon to tell you that this word means both &lsquo;simplicity&rsquo; and also &lsquo;generous&rsquo;. The connection is because the basis for generosity is a simple faith. Not a dumb, blind faith, glossing over the details of God&rsquo;s word. But a realistic, simple, direct conviction. This is why Paul exhorts that all giving to the Lord&rsquo;s cause should be done with &ldquo;simplicity&rdquo; (Rom. 12:8- the AVmg. translates &lsquo;liberally&rsquo;). Give, in whatever way, and don&rsquo;t complicate it with all the ifs and buts which our fleshly mind proposes. Paul warns them against false teachers who would corrupt them from their &ldquo;simplicity&rdquo;- and yet he usually speaks of &lsquo;simplicity&rsquo; in the sense of generosity. Pure doctrine, wholeheartedly accepted, will lead us to be generous. False doctrine and human philosophy leads to all manner of self-complication. Paul was clever, he was smart; but he rejoiced that he lived his life &ldquo;in simplicity...by the grace of God&rdquo; (2 Cor. 1:12).&nbsp; If our eye is single (translating a Greek word related to that translated &lsquo;simple&rsquo;), then the whole body is full of light (Mt. 6:22)- and the Lord spoke again in the context of generosity. An evil eye, a world view that is not &lsquo;simple&rsquo; or single, is used as a figure for mean spiritedness.&nbsp;</p> 16014062323<p>6:23&nbsp;<em>But if your eye is bad, your whole body shall be full of darkness. If therefore the light that is in you is darkness, how great is the darkness!</em>- A bad or evil eye was an idiom for mean spiritedness. It continues the theme of materialism from the previous verses. To follow materialism is to be mean spirited- towards God. Speaking in the context of serving<em> either</em>&nbsp;God&nbsp;<em>or</em>&nbsp;mammon, the Lord uttered these difficult words: &quot;Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth... the light of the body is the eye: if therefore thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of light. But if thine eye be evil, thy whole body shall be full of darkness... how great is that darkness!&quot; (Mt. 6:19-22). All this is in the context of not being materialistic. The Lord is drawing on the OT usage of &quot;an evil eye&quot; - and consistently, this idiom means someone who is selfishly materialistic (Prov. 22:9; 23:7; 28:22; Dt. 15:9). The NIV renders some of these idioms as &quot;stingy&quot; or &ldquo;mean&quot;. A single eye refers to a generous spirit (1 Chron. 29:17 LXX), and a related Greek word occurs in 2 Cor. 8:2; 9:11,13 with the sense of &ldquo;generous&quot;. So surely the Lord is saying that our attitude to wealth controls our whole spirituality. Whether we have a mean or generous spirit will affect our whole life- an evil [stingy] eye means our whole body is full of darkness. Just let this sink in. If we are materialistic, our whole life will be filled with darkness, whatever our external pretensions may be, and there is a definite link to be made here with the &quot;darkness&quot; of rejection. The riches of Jericho are described with a Hebrew word which means both a curse, and something devoted (to God; Josh. 6:18). This teaches a powerful lesson: such riches of this world as come into our possession will curse us, unless they are devoted to the Father.</p> 16114062424<p>6:24&nbsp;<em>No one can serve two masters</em>- It would be too simplistic to interpret this as meaning that we are either totally serving the Lord, or not serving Him. Paul seems to have thought a lot about this verse because he refers to it several times in Romans, basing his entire Romans chapter 6 around the idea that we do not serve sin as a Master (Rom. 6:6). But he goes straight on to lament that in reality, he does serve &quot;the law of sin&quot; with his flesh, but &quot;I myself&quot; serve the law of God (Rom. 7:25). And he concludes the letter by warning that some do not serve the Lord Jesus (Rom. 16:18). Perhaps Paul is writing partly in response to confusion about the Lord's words- for we keep on sinning, yet He taught we can only serve Him alone. And his perspective is that we ourselves as believers are totally devoted to Him as our only Lord and Master. But the flesh, which we do not identify as the real self of the believer, continues to serve the sin principle.&nbsp;</p> <p><em>For either he will hate the one-&nbsp;</em>The Lord wasn't just trying to shock us when He offered us the choice between hating God and loving Him (Mt. 6:24 cp. James 4:4); He was deadly literal in what He said. The Lord hammered away at the same theme when He spoke of how a tree can only bring forth one kind of spiritual fruit: bad, or good (Mt. 7:18,19). James likewise: a spring can either give sweet water or bitter water (James 3:11). We either love God, or the world. If we love the world, we have&nbsp;<em>no</em>&nbsp;love of God in us (1 Jn. 2:15). The man who found the treasure in the field, or the pearl of great price, sold&nbsp;<em>all</em>&nbsp;that he had, in order to obtain it. If he had sold any less, he wouldn't have raised the required price. These mini-parables are Christ's comment on the Law's requirement that God's people love Him with&nbsp;<em>all</em>&nbsp;their heart and soul, realizing the logic of devotion. Samuel pleaded with Israel: &quot; Serve the Lord with all your heart; and turn ye not aside: for then should ye go after vain things [i.e. idols]&quot; (1 Sam. 12:20,21). If we don't serve God whole-heartedly, we will serve the idols of this present age. There's no third road. If we are God&rsquo;s people, we will flee from the false teacher (Jn. 10:5). If we do anything other than this, we reflect our basic attitude to God&rsquo;s truth.</p> <p><em>And love the other-&nbsp;</em>Because Israel were in covenant with God,&nbsp;<em>therefore</em>&nbsp;they were not to make covenants with the other nations, and marriage is mentioned as an example of this (Ex. 34:10,12). In his repetition of this part of the law in Deuteronomy, Moses gave even more repeated emphasis to the fact that our covenant with God precludes any covenant relationship with anyone else: &quot;Thou shalt make no covenant with them... neither shalt thou make marriages with them... for thou art an holy people unto the Lord thy God: the Lord thy God hath chosen thee to be a special people unto himself, above all (other) people that are on the face of the earth. The Lord ...set his love upon you ...chose you... because the Lord loved you, and because he would keep the oath which he had sworn unto your fathers... the Lord hath brought you out (of the world) with a mighty hand, and redeemed you out of the house of bondmen... know therefore that the Lord thy God, he God, the faithful God, which keepeth covenant and mercy with them that love him and keep his commandments... and repayeth them that hate him to their face, to destroy them; he will not be slack to him that hateth him. Thou shalt therefore keep the commandments...&quot; (Dt. 7:2-11). The wonder of our relationship with Yahweh is stated time and again. To marry back into Egypt, the house of bondmen from which we have been redeemed, is to despise the covenant, to reverse the redemptive work which God has wrought with us. In this context of marriage out of the Faith, we read that God will destroy &quot;him that hateth Him&rdquo;, and repay him to his face. On the other hand, not marrying Gentiles was part of&nbsp;<em>loving</em> God (Josh. 23:12,13).&nbsp;So according to Moses, whoever married a Gentile was effectively hating God. It is possible that the Lord had this in mind when He taught that we either serve God and hate the world, or we love the world and hate God (Mt. 6:24). This isn't, of course, how we see it. We would like to think that there is a third way; a way in which we can love God and yet also love someone in the world. Yet effectively, in God's eyes, this is hating Him. Doubtless many Israelites thought Moses was going too heavy in saying that those who married Gentiles were hating God. And the new Israel may be tempted to likewise respond to the new covenant's insistence that our love of God means a thorough rejection of this world. Whoever even&nbsp;<em>wishes</em>&nbsp;to be a friend of the world is an enemy of God (James 4:4).</p> <p><em>Or else he will be loyal to the one- </em>There are only two masters whom we completely serve; we hold to either mammon, or God&nbsp;(Mt. 6:24). The idea of loyalty or &ldquo;holding to&rdquo; in Greek implies holding&nbsp;<em>against</em>&nbsp;something else; the result of holding to God is that we are against everything else. &quot;He that is not with me is against me; and he that gathereth not with me scattereth abroad&quot; (Mt. 12:30)- rather than being passively indifferent. Men reacted to the Lord in ultimately one of two ways- they either truly believed on Him, or supported the Jews in murdering Him (Jn. 11:45,46). Those who apparently believed on Him but kept it quiet were forced by the cross and resurrection to make their commitment one way or the other [and serious reflection on the memorials of these things in bread and wine leads us to the same decision]. So much for the philosophy of balance! The Hebrew word for vacillate (translated &quot;dissemble&quot; in AV) also means to go astray; indecision and indifference are effectively decisions against God's way. The Hebrew language often reflects God's characteristics and attitudes.</p> <p><em>And despise the other</em>- The Greek word is usually used elsewhere about despising other believers (Mt. 18:10; 1 Cor. 11:22; 1 Tim. 4:12; 6:2; 2 Pet. 2:10). Loving God involves loving our brother, and despising our brethren means we do not love God but rather despise Him.</p> <p><em>You cannot serve God and money-&nbsp;</em>When the Lord spoke of the impossibility of serving two masters, He personified the one as &quot;Mammon&quot; (AV), the antithesis of God. He goes on to define what he meant: &quot;Therefore... take no&nbsp;<em>thought</em>&nbsp;for your life... which of you by&nbsp;<em>taking thought</em>... why&nbsp;<em>take ye thought</em>&nbsp;for raiment... therefore take no&nbsp;<em>thought</em>&nbsp;saying, What shall we eat?... seek ye first the Kingdom of God... take therefore no&nbsp;<em>thought</em>&nbsp;for the morrow&quot; (Mt. 6:24,25,27,28,31,33,34). Clearly the Lord saw &quot;Mammon&quot;, this personified anti-God, as an attitude of&nbsp;<em>mind</em>. He had the same view of 'Satan' as we do: a personification of sin in the human mind. He also saw seeking &quot;the Kingdom of God&quot; as somehow parallel with serving God rather than mammon. We would wish there were some third category, God, mammon and something in between; as we may idly speculate that it would suit us if there were three categories at judgement day, accepted, rejected, and something else. But both then and now, this very minute, this isn't the case. A deep down recognition of this will have its effect practically. If we are serving God, let's not give anything to mammon, let's not play games, juggling and using brinkmanship.&nbsp;</p> <p>There is fair evidence that in God's eyes, our attitude to materialism is the epitome of our spirituality. The Lord places before us only two possible roads: the service of God, or that of mammon (Aramaic for riches / wealth, Mt. 6:24). We would rather expect Him to have said: service of God or the flesh. Indeed, this is the choice that is elsewhere placed before us in the NT. However, the Lord evidently saw &quot;mammon&quot; as the epitome of all the flesh stands for. It is probably the view of many of us that while we have many areas of spiritual weakness, materialism is not one of them. But according to the Lord, if we are reading Him rightly, our attitude to the flesh generally is reflected in our attitude to wealth. This is why the Bible does have a lot to say about the sacrifice of 'our' material possessions; not because God needs them in themselves, but because our resignation of them to His service is an epitome of our whole spirituality.<br /> Mt. 6:24 is alluded to in Tit. 1:9. Holding to God as your master rather than mammon is achieved through holding on to His word. Paul sees one application of serving mammon as acting in a hypocritical way in order to please some in the ecclesia (Mt. 6:24 = Gal. 1:10).</p> 16214062525<p>6:25&nbsp;<em>Therefore I say to you</em>- Because our hearts can only be in one place, either with God or not, we should especially beware of materialism. For this more than anything else can lead us to hate God and to despise Him- because it takes our hearts away from Him.</p> <p><em>Do not be anxious for your life; what you shall eat, or what you shall drink. Nor for your body; what you shall wear</em>- The Sermon is concerned with how we think, with inculcating spiritual mindedness. The exhortations in this section against materialism arise out of that- they are appeals not to be materialistic and faithless in God's provision, because this leads to our thinking, our heart and mind, being on those things rather than with the Lord. It's true that the Greek translated 'thought' can mean 'no&nbsp;<em>anxious</em>&nbsp;thought'. But the problem is that we can make this mean that we are in fact allowed to spend a lot of time thinking about material things, so long as we're not 'anxious'. This line of interpretation seems to ignore the wider context. We can be spiritually minded, the Lord is teaching, if we simply accept that we shall never go hungry or naked. God will provide for His children who trust in Him. The Lord clearly saw material concerns as being the great enemy of daily spiritual mindedness. The emphasis upon not taking thought is considerable- the Lord uses the word five times in swift succession (Mt. 6:25,27,28,31,34). And He repeats the command not to take thought for what we shall eat or drink (Mt. 6:25,31). Luke's record records this warning not to worry about what we shall 'eat and drink' only once (Lk. 12:29), but it is prefaced by the parable of the rich fool, upon whose lips we find the same words. After he has spent a lifetime amassing wealth, he says to himself &quot;eat, drink and be merry&quot; (Lk. 12:19). Clearly we are to understand him as a man who failed to live by the Lord's principles not to worry about eating and drinking. Yet he was not poor. He was fabulously rich. The point is thus established that the rich, or at least those who have enough to eat and drink, are not to consider the Lord's principle as speaking only to the desperately poor who are tempted to worry about what they shall eat. The principle applies to the rich too. For it is a basic human principle that all of us, rich or poor, are tempted to expend mental thought about how we shall basically survive. The omission of the Sermon in John is typical of how John omits much of the Synoptic material, and yet repeats it in essence. He records the same 'eat and drink' language about our need eat and drink of the flesh and blood of the crucified Lord Jesus (Jn. 6:53). The point perhaps is that instead of expending mental energy worrying about how we shall eat and drink, we are to instead focus upon absorbing the Lord Jesus into our lives. And all material things will somehow fall into place. A similar idea is to be found in the Lord's warning not to worry about what clothing to &quot;put on&quot;, because He uses the same word about how the rejected man had not 'put on' the wedding garment of the Lord's righteousness (Mt. 22:11). Repeatedly the later New Testament appeals for us to &quot;put on [s.w.] the Lord Jesus&quot; (Rom. 13:12,14; Gal. 3:27; Eph. 4:24; 6:11,14; Col. 3:10,12; 1 Thess. 5:8), so that in the last day we may 'put on' the clothing of immortality (s.w. 1 Cor. 15:53,54; 2 Cor. 5:3). If putting on&nbsp;<em>this</em>&nbsp;garment is our mental focus, then we need not worry about what we shall 'put on' for clothing in this life.<br /> This is alluded to in Phil. 4:6. How do we obey that command to &quot;take no thought for your life&quot;? By praying consciously for every little thing that you need in daily life, e.g. daily bread. We do not have two masters; only one. Therefore, the more we grasp this, the more we will give ourselves solely to Him. And this leads on, in the thinking of Jesus, to having no anxious thought for tomorrow; for a life of total devotion to Him means that we need not worry about tomorrow (Mt. 6:24,25). If we seek first His Kingdom, then we will not be anxious for tomorrow (Mt. 6:33,34).</p> <p><em>Is not the life more than the food, and the body more than the garment?</em>- This continues the theme outlined above. The presence of the articles focuses attention upon&nbsp;<em>the</em>&nbsp;life and&nbsp;<em>the&nbsp;</em>body- and surely the Lord has in view the life to come, which will involve having a glorious&nbsp;<em>body</em>&nbsp;(Phil. 3:21), not existence in any disembodied sense. The contrast is therefore between this present life, and&nbsp;<em>the</em>&nbsp;life to come; this present body, and&nbsp;<em>the</em> body which is to be given us. It's a question of identification; whether we focus upon this present life and body, or perceive that this life is but a miniscule percentage of our eternal existence, when we will not be living this life with this body. The life and the body to come are &quot;more&quot; than the present life and body; and the Greek for &quot;more&quot; is elsewhere translated 'the greater part', the idea being 'the major portion'. The vastly greater part of our existence will be with&nbsp;<em>the</em>&nbsp;life and&nbsp;<em>the&nbsp;</em>body which is yet to come. If we are secure in Christ and confident of our eternal destiny by His grace, then issues pertaining to this life and this body become insignificant.</p> 16314062626<p>6:26&nbsp;<em>Look at</em>- Gk. 'gaze into'. Surely He drew attention to some birds flying around. And the Greek words behind &quot;Behold&quot; mean more than a casual glance. He asks us to look for some time with deep penetration at the birds of the natural creation, and learn a lesson.</p> <p><em>The birds in the sky; they do not sow, nor do they reap or gather crops into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of much more value than they?</em>- As always, the Lord applied His words to Himself. For we sense in Mt. 8:20 that He had really thought about His words. Yes, the Father feeds the birds- but they have nests, and the Son of Man at least that night had nowhere to lay His head. Note too that the birds of the air are generally unclean (Acts 10:12). The fact God feeds even the unclean animals ties in with the Lord's opening comfort when He began the Sermon that His message is for those who worry about their uncleanness and spiritual inadequacy before God.</p> <p>Sow... reap... gather into barns&nbsp;are words repeatedly used by the Lord Jesus, especially in Matthew, for the work of the Gospel. The seed of the word is&nbsp;<em>sown&nbsp;</em>(Matthew records three sowing parables- Mt. 13:3,24,31 cp. Mt. 25:26), then&nbsp;<em>reaped</em>&nbsp;at Christ's return (Mt. 25:26- as in 2 Cor. 9:6; Gal. 6:7-9; Rev. 14:15), and finally&nbsp;<em>gathered</em>&nbsp;(by the preachers and Angels, Mt. 3:12; 12:30; 13:30,47; 22:10; 25:26,32), &quot;into my barn&quot; (Mt. 3:12; 13:30)- the Kingdom. We cannot simply ignore all this use of identical language in Matthew's Gospel. I noted at 6:25 and elsewhere that the Sermon is often saying 'Do not worry about the activities which are part of this life, but focus instead on doing those activities in a spiritual sense'. I gave the example of how the command not to worry about what we shall physically eat and drink implies that we should instead be concerned about our spiritual eating and drinking. Remembering the focus of the Sermon upon the need for outgoing, proactive sharing of the Gospel, it would be fair to conclude that the Lord wishes us to not worry about sowing, reaping and gathering into barns in the literal sense, but instead to concern ourselves with doing those things&nbsp;<em>in the work of the Gospel</em>. 'Focus on sharing the Gospel, and all the material things will fall into place if you just trust that they will work out OK'.</p> <p>God consciously feeds the birds with their every mouthful. &nbsp;&quot;If God so clothe the grass of the field... shall He not much more clothe you?&quot; (Mt. 6:30). In the same way, God individually and consciously cares for each blade of grass. Fundamentally, they do not grow so much as a result of chemical combination or photosynthesis, but due to the conscious care of God using such processes. The idea of every little thing in life and the world being controlled by Angels contradicts the notion that God has set this world in motion according to certain natural laws, and that things continue without His direct intervention- as if the whole system is run by clockwork which God initially wound up. Intervention in this system by God has been called 'the hand of providence'. However, these ideas surely contradict the clear Biblical teaching that every movement in the natural creation is consciously controlled by God through His Angels, thus needing an energetic input from Him through His Spirit for every action to occur.&nbsp; &quot;Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither&nbsp;do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your Heavenly Father feeds them&quot; suggests that God consciously feeds the birds with their every mouthful. See too Mt. 5:45; 6:30; 10:29-31; Job 38:12,32; 39:27; Amos 9:6; Is. 40:7; Ps. 90:3; 104: 13; Prov. 11:1.</p> <p>Things being &quot;better than&quot; or &quot;of more value than&quot; is quite a theme in the thinking of the Lord Jesus. The Greek word is used by Him at least three times in this way. Better than the birds, than many sparrows (Mt. 10:31), than a sheep (Mt. 12:12). Doubtless this thought was developed in the Lord by His observation of birds, flocks of sparrows and sheep- developing the implications of the simple thought that we are of more value than them to God. For we are made in His image in a way in which they are not.</p> 16414062727<p>6:27&nbsp;<em>Which of you by worrying</em>- As always, the emphasis is upon the state of the heart. No amount of mental worry can add anything to us. And so our hearts and minds should instead be devoted to the God who can transform our body into an eternal state of existence (see on 6:25).</p> <p><em>Can add</em>- The same word occurs in 6:33. We cannot ultimately 'add' anything to ourselves in secular life; if we seek first the things of God's Kingdom [i.e. 'take thought' for them rather than our material life], then what is necessary for the material, human life will be added to us. The concept of 'addition' suggests we are to see ourselves as ourselves&nbsp;<em>without</em>&nbsp;the issues of food, clothing and survival. We are then to decide how we are to take care of those 'additional' issues. And the Lord is teaching that we are to focus upon spiritual things and the service of God's Kingdom, believing that He will 'add' these things to us. To perceive ourselves independent from our human, secular needs and position is hard. But Paul got the idea right when he spoke of how we bring nothing into this world and can take nothing out (1 Tim. 6:7). 'We' come into this world; we exist, but have nothing added to us initially. And 'we' exit this world, likewise without anything 'added'.</p> <p><em>One cubit to his stature</em>- The Greek can mean 'age' as well as referring to our body. No amount of secular thought can add age to our lives. Because life, the eternal life, comes only from God. So it is to Him that our hearts belong. Again, the Lord Jesus was the word of the Sermon made flesh in His own example. For we read that He grew in stature before God (Lk. 2:52 s.w.)- not by anxious worldly thought. Perhaps Zacchaeus thought upon the implications of the Lord's words, because Luke uses the same word to note that he was of inadequate stature (Lk. 19:3). The 'stature' that we seek to attain is not any physique or longevity in this life- but the &quot;stature of the fullness of Christ&quot; (Eph. 4:13 s.w.). The amount of thought and effort that goes into trying to live longer, adding a cubit to our lifespan, is immense. And understandably so, for those who have only this life. Surely the Lord is saying that we should give no anxious thought to this, but rather, give our mental energy to growing into the age / stature of Himself.</p> 16514062828<p>6:28&nbsp;So<em> why do you worry about clothing?</em>- The allusion is surely to how God provided food, drink and clothing which didn't wear out for the Israelites on their wilderness journey (Dt. 8:4), just as He will for those who have crossed the Red Sea in baptism (1 Cor. 10:1,2). Again, it seems likely that the Lord intended us to refocus from material to spiritual. For later in Matthew we read of Him emphasizing the ultimate importance of having the right 'clothing' [s.w. &quot;wedding garment&quot;] to enter God's Kingdom at the last day (Mt. 22:11,12). On a simply practical level, it's my observation that many believers find spirituality hard because their minds are too taken up with making money- to fund the buying of branded, designer clothing. In our generation as never before, the price range of clothing is as never before. It is rather beyond me why in a brotherhood of need, it seems perfectly acceptable to not buy good second hand clothing and pay ten or more times the price for new clothing with the right brand name on it. But maybe that's just me.</p> <p><em>Consider the lilies of the field</em>- Gk. 'to study deeply', used only here in the NT. The same idea, although a different word, as the Greek for &quot;Behold&quot; in 6:26. Whilst no doubt the Lord with a wave of the hand did draw attention to the mountain lilies growing where He was teaching, He was most definitely not inviting us to take a cursory glance at them. But rather to study them; and the unusual Greek word used for &quot;consider&quot; drove home that point. Perhaps He picked one and invited the disciples to gaze at it in silence for some time.</p> <p><em>How they grow</em>- The Greek can mean 'in what way' and also 'how much', 'to what great extent'.</p> <p><em>They neither toil nor spin!</em><span style="font-size: 11pt; line-height: 107%;">- As so often in the Lord's teaching and parables, He was careful to balance what He said with relevance to both men ['toiling' in Greek has the idea of heavy labour], and women [spinning]. The later appeal for those who are 'toiling' in heavy labour to come to Christ (Mt. 11:28) is an invitation to know in this life a lifting of the curse of labour which came upon Adam. This is not to say that we shall not have to labour, but the desperate toiling for survival is mitigated by the knowledge that God will ultimately provide for His people.</span></p> 16614062929<p>6:29&nbsp;Yet<em> I say to you, that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these</em>- It is hard to avoid the connection with the description of the righteous as being clothed in glory at the last day. The clothing metaphor is repeated throughout the NT in this connection (e.g. Rev. 3:5,18; 7:9,13; 19:8). Of course we are dealing with metaphor here- plants are not literally clothed, although perhaps the Lord was alluding to them flowering as their 'glory'. The lily is glorious for what it is, not because it has laboured to make itself something other than it is. We will be made glorious by God in Christ. The city set on a hill cannot be hid. We are who and as we are before God. There is nothing to cover with clothing. This consideration alone puts the whole issue of present clothing into perspective.</p> <p>The Lord Jesus hinted indirectly at Solomon's pride when he said that Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one wild flower, symbolic of how God would clothe, with imputed righteousness, even the weakest believer (Mt. 6:29,30).&nbsp; This reference to Solomon is only one of several hints that our Lord read Solomon in a negative light.&nbsp;&nbsp;He goes on to warn against excessive attention to food, drink and clothes (Mt. 6:31)- all things which the court of Solomon revelled in to a quite extraordinary extent. &quot;Take therefore no (anxious) thought for the morrow... sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof&quot; (Mt. 6:34) sounds like a rebuke of the way Solomon did just this in Ecclesiastes, as he intellectually battled with the sadness of knowing that all his achievements would mean nothing in the future. &quot;But&quot;, says Jesus, &quot;seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you&quot; (Mt. 6:33)- clearly a reference to Solomon seeking Divine wisdom and subsequently being blessed; surely the Lord is telling us to follow Solomon's example in this, but to avoid his pride and materialism. Solomon didn&rsquo;t seek the future Kingdom of God, but rather his own. The Lord taught that we should love our enemies, and not fall into the trap of only loving those who love us (Mt. 5:44-46). He seems to be alluding here to Solomon&rsquo;s claim that wisdom says: &ldquo;I love them that love me&rdquo; (Prov. 8:17). Maybe I&rsquo;m wrong, and the Lord didn&rsquo;t have His mind there on that passage; but in the context of Him re-interpreting and re-presenting Solomon to us, it seems likely that He was consciously showing that God&rsquo;s grace is in fact the very opposite of what Solomon thought. God loves His enemies, and doesn&rsquo;t only love those who love Him; and this is to be our credo likewise.&nbsp;The record of how Solomon spoke of his building of the temple can now be seen as blatant pride in his external appearance of spirituality;&nbsp; without the foregoing analysis of the&nbsp;<em>hints&nbsp;</em>of Solomon's pride, this wouldn't necessarily be a correct conclusion to reach;&nbsp; but with all these inspired links, surely we can read the following as pure pride: &quot;Solomon stood before the altar of the Lord in the presence of all the congregation of Israel, and spread forth his hands toward heaven (hardly praying in his closet!&nbsp; Was Christ alluding to Solomon in Mt. 6:6?)... the house that I have built for thy name&quot; (1 Kings 8:22,44).&nbsp;&nbsp;Solomon's frequent emphasis on the fact that&nbsp;<em>he&nbsp;</em>built the house makes a telling connection with the principle that God does not live in houses&nbsp;<em>built</em>&nbsp;by men (Acts 17:24?) &nbsp;</p> 16714063030<p>6:30&nbsp;<em>Now if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is here today-</em>&nbsp; The blessings God gives us do not come by clockwork- we thankfully recognize they are individual acts of mercy towards us. Perhaps&nbsp;our sometimes 'clockwork' prayers are an indication that we think God's blessings of food etc. are clockwork too? In the same way, God individually and consciously cares for each blade of grass. Fundamentally, they do not grow merely as a result of chemical combination or photosynthesis, but due to the conscious care of God using such processes. See on 6:26. The worry-free life is a characteristic of the true believer. If God gave us His Son, how much more will He not give us &ldquo;all things&rdquo;? The Lord brought out the point in Mt. 6:30: If God so clothes the grass&hellip; how much more will He clothe us, therefore, don&rsquo;t worry! &ldquo;Clothe&rdquo; translates the Greek&nbsp;<em>amphi-hennumi</em>- to enrobe around. The Lord seems to have been referring to a type of wild flower that appears to be draped around by its natural skin, rather like an iris. God gives the wild flowers robes&hellip; although they do not spin them or work for them (Mt. 6:29). Solomon&rsquo;s robes weren&rsquo;t as beautiful as them. And how&nbsp;<em>much more</em>&nbsp;will God clothe us, both literally and with salvation (for this is how the Bible usually uses the idea of God clothing us). God does so much for the lilies, who are to be &lsquo;thrown into the fire&rsquo;&hellip; a phrase which inevitably connects with the Lord&rsquo;s other uses of that idea to describe the final condemnation of the wicked (as in James 1:11). God cares for flowers, and He even cares and provides for those whom He will one day condemn. For God to keep such people alive is a conscious outflowing of His lavish energy, His gracious gift of life and health. If He does that for things and persons which will ultimately be &lsquo;thrown into the fire&rsquo;, how&nbsp;<em>much more</em>&nbsp;will He clothe us. Let&rsquo;s remember that creation isn&rsquo;t run on clockwork; God makes His rain come, and His sun to rise, on the just and unjust; He&rsquo;s aware when a bird falls from the air; counts the hairs on our heads, as a mother dotes over a new-born baby&rsquo;s features. Just by keeping alive humanity (indeed, all of creation), God is lavishing His grace and consciously outgiving of Himself.</p> <p><em>But tomorrow is thrown into the furnace</em>- We have noted that the idea of 'casting' is used by the Lord with reference to condemnation at the last day; and 'the oven' is reminiscent of the imagery of Gehenna fire to destroy the rejected. If God shows so much care and gives so much passing glory to that which shall be rejected and be ultimately unused by Him in eternity- how much more will he clothe us whom He loves and has accepted with His nature. All worry about what garment we shall physically put on, let alone whether it has a brand name on it or not, becomes subsumed beneath the wonder of the metaphor of our final clothing.</p> <p><em>Will He not more surely care for you, O you of little faith!</em>- The word is used another three times in Matthew (Mt. 8:26; 14:31; 16:8). In each case it refers specifically to a lack of faith in the saving power of Jesus. The &quot;little faith&quot; is not so much in God's promised provision of physical clothing, but in the promise of final clothing in salvation. But God's care even for those whom He shall condemn, keeping them in life, and the glory He gives to the plant and animal creation which last but for days, is sure encouragement that He shall so much more super abundantly clothe us with salvation- and also, will ensure we don't go physically naked in this world. The Gospel records, as transcripts of the disciples' early preaching, show the disciples appealing to others to have faith, to believe and be baptized. And yet the same accounts record so often how weak and small was the disciples' faith. Matthew is a classic example: Mt. 6:30; 8:26; 14:31; 16:8; 17:20. It was on the basis of this acknowledged weakness of their own, that the disciples could appeal so powerfully to others. The more real they showed themselves to be, the more credible was their appeal.</p> 16814063131<p>6:31&nbsp;<em>Therefore, do not be anxious, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, How shall we be clothed?</em>- The three things God provided for Israel in their wilderness journey. The same old clothes, food (manna) and water, of course. But He provided for them.</p> <p>God will provide for us to be &quot;clothed&quot;, but the question is, how does He provide? The same word is used in Mt. 25:36,38,43 about the believer in Christ who is not clothed, and needs to be clothed by other believers- some of whom refuse to, whilst others do. If God really does provide food and clothing for His people- why are some apparently without them? One window onto that question might be that potentially all such needs have been met, in that the food and clothing is within the brotherhood. But there can be a dysfunction, in that it is not shared out as it should be- meaning that some go without the provision which God has potentially provided. But another window is that David could say that he had never seen the seed of the righteous begging bread at any time in his long and varied life (Ps. 37:25). And despite a lifetime in the poorer world I also have yet to encounter this. The promise holds true, in my observation.</p> 16914063232<p>6:32&nbsp;<em>For the Gentiles clamour for all these things- </em>God's people who worry and spend their thoughts on eating, drinking and clothing are no better than the Gentile world. This was a radical thing to say to first century Jews. It is a common Biblical theme that the unspiritual amongst God's people shall share the judgments of the world whom in spirit they are like. The idea of the Gentiles seeking is of course from Is. 11:10, where we read that finally the Gentiles will seek unto Christ (as in Acts 15:17). Perhaps the idea is that we should right now have that changed direction of 'seeking' which the Gentile world will have in the future. Our practical life in Christ is really all about our response to the abounding nature of God&rsquo;s grace. If we really believe it, then we will trust in Him and not worry. Mt. 6:32 goes on to imply that the difference between the Gentile world and the believer in Christ is quite simply that we believe that our Father has this level of care and concern for us; and therefore we will not worry, whereas the unbelieving world worry constantly about material things. This is how much of a &lsquo;first principle&rsquo; this really is.</p> <p>'Clamour' is the idea of seeking, and is parallel with 'thinking' anxiously in :31. Again it is the overall direction of our hearts, to where our seeking is set, our mental life and thinking, which is the issue. Rather than individual acts of spiritual failure or success.</p> <p><em>Even though your heavenly Father knows you have need of them all</em>- God knows our human situation. Our faithlessness and lack of spiritual mindedness is because of an unspoken sense that actually He is unaware of our needs and the nature of being human. But the God who knows all things is not unaware of humanity and the needs which accompany being human. Frequently the prophecies directed to the Jews returning from Babylon spoke at length of God's amazing knowledge- because the sense was that whilst God existed, He did not know close-up about the human situation. He does, of course, know perfectly.</p> <p><em>Hapas</em>, 'all things', means strictly 'each and every one of'. God knows every single human need relating to eating, drinking, clothing and existing. And He knows better than we do our greatest need- to eat and drink of that bread and blood which gives eternal life, and to be clothed with His nature.</p> 17014063333<p>6:33&nbsp;<em>So seek first</em>- Seeking is paralleled with taking thought in :31,32. The overall direction of our lives must be towards the Kingdom of God above all. If that is put &quot;first&quot;, then actually there is no room for thought about much else. The idea is not 'Seek the Kingdom first, and other things secondly'. Rather must the 'seeking' of our thinking be towards the Kingdom. 'Seeking' was a common Hebraism for 'worship'. But the Lord has defined 'seeking' as thinking, as the overall direction of our mental state, our heart. It was not merely a question of going through the worship rituals of Judaism in a holy space such as the temple. True worship is redefined as the state of our heart.</p> <p><em>His Kingdom</em>- I noted under 6:10 that the coming of the Kingdom in our lives is through the doing of God's will. The Lord's message is not simply that we should long for the coming of the Kingdom at His second coming; it is that starting right now, we should seek above all things to extend the principles of the Kingdom (as taught in the Lord's parables of the Kingdom) in our lives and in the world around us.</p> <p><em>And His righteousness</em>- The Sermon was intended for those who earnestly wished to be righteous but felt unable to attain it as they wished (see on 5:6). Yet we should continue 'seeking' it. And Paul takes the thought further by declaring that if we really seek to be righteous, then we will become &quot;in Christ&quot; and believe in God's offer of imputed righteousness.</p> <p><em>And all these things</em>- Semitic languages such as Aramaic and Hebrew can often have various levels of meaning in a phrase. The phrase may mean or say one thing, but also suggest something else. We are of course reading the expression of those phrases in Greek.&nbsp;<em>Pas tauta</em>&nbsp;(usually translated &quot;all these things&quot;) need not necessarily be translated as a plural. The idea could equally be 'The whole, complete thing'- we might say 'The real deal'. And that would make sense of the connection between 'added' and Mt. 6:27, which speaks of how we cannot 'add' a cubit to our lifespan. The implication could be that 'the real deal', the&nbsp;<em>real</em> thing- eternal life, salvation in God's Kingdom- shall be added if we seek that Kingdom first and foremost. Alternatively, we can interpret more in line with the common translations and understand that 'all these things' is the same 'all these things' of the preceding verse 32- the material things which God knows we need. These things&nbsp;<em>will be added</em>&nbsp;to us if we do not seek them first, but rather seek God's Kingdom first. But there is the suggestion that the real 'all things' for us is eternity in God's Kingdom. For a discussion of what may have happened if these basic things are apparently&nbsp;<em>not</em>&nbsp;added to a believer, see on 6:31.</p> <p><em>Shall be added to you</em>- The only other usage of the word in Matthew is just a few verses earlier, where the Lord has pointed out that we are unable to 'add' a cubit to our length of human life nor to our body height (6:27).</p> 17114063434<p>6:34&nbsp;<em>Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own-&nbsp;</em>The only other occurrence of the Greek word in Matthew is a few verses earlier in :30. God provides for the grass which &quot;tomorrow&quot; will be cast into the fire. We observed under 6:30 that this is the language of condemnation. If God even keeps alive and provides for those who shall be condemned, and the things of the animal and plant creation which live for only a day or so, how much more will He care for us. The &quot;tomorrow&quot; which is in view is therefore the ultimate 'tomorrow'- of the coming of Christ. We are to take no anxious thought for the outcome of that day if we know that in our hearts we are seeking the things of the Kingdom above all. In the same spirit, Paul taught that all who wholeheartedly love the Lord's appearing shall be saved (2 Tim. 4:8). We should not be full of worried thought about our possible rejection on that day, but rather the overall thinking of our mind should be positively full of the things of the Kingdom. &quot;Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof&quot; could be read as meaning 'Yes there will be evil for some on that day, but don't waste your thoughts worrying about that. If your heart is for the Kingdom of God, you are secure. Don't worry about it&quot;. Although this is the ultimate sense of 'tomorrow' which the Lord has in mind, His words can be understood on a quite simple literal level too. We are to live one day at a time without worrying about the future, because quite simply- God will provide. Each day has its own problems, and don't worry about them ahead of time. Rather focus your thinking and mental energy upon the things of God's Kingdom. This is exactly in the spirit of the command in the Lord's model prayer to ask for enough food only for today (6:11). Living like this is of course seen by the world as irresponsible. But it is not irresponsible if we do so with a firm faith that God is responsible for our tomorrows.</p> 172140711<p>7:1&nbsp;<em>Judge not, that you be not judged-&nbsp;</em>For Paul, one phrase from these chapters echoed in his mind throughout the years; thus &quot;Judge not, that ye be not judged&quot; (Mt. 7:1) is at the basis of Rom. 2:1; the whole of Rom. 14, and 1 Cor. 4:3,5. The Lord's teaching about judging does not in fact say that the act of condemning our brother is in itself a sin- it's simply that we must cast out the beam from our own eye first, and then we can judge our brother by pointing out to him the splinter in his eye. But the Lord tells us not to judge because He foresaw that we would never completely throw out the beam from our own eye. His command not to judge /&nbsp;condemn at all was therefore in this sense a concession to our inevitable weakness (Mt. 7:1-5). The commentary of James on this part of the Sermon is interesting: &ldquo;Don&rsquo;t speak against one another, brothers. He who speaks against a brother and judges his brother, speaks against the law and judges the law. But if you judge the law, you are not a doer of the law, but a judge&quot; (James 4:11). In what sense is to judge / condemn our brother to judge the law? And which law? Maybe James considered Mt. 7:1 to be so fundamental a part of &quot;the law of Christ&quot; that he refers to it as &quot;the law&quot;. I suggest under 7:24 that James considers the Sermon to be &quot;the perfect law&quot;. The Lord had taught clearly that under His law, to condemn meant being condemned. Yet there were those in James' readership, as there are today, who think they can go ahead and condemn others. Seeing the Lord's law is so clear, James is saying that effectively they are condemning the law of Jesus, placing themselves as judges over His law by deciding that they can break it at will.</p> 173140722<p>7:2&nbsp;For<em> with what judgment you judge, you shall be judged</em>- The &quot;judgment&quot; is of condemnation- every one of the 28 occurrences of the Greek word refer to &quot;damnation&quot; or &quot;condemnation&quot;. The 'judging' which is prohibited in :1 is therefore of condemning others.</p> <p><em>And with what measure you use, it shall be applied to you</em>- This verse begins with &quot;For&quot;. Because of the principle that we shall be condemned if we condemn, we need to remember that we will receive according to the measure we use to people in this life. Again, a direct connection is made between our judgment experience before Jesus at the last day, and our attitude to others now.&nbsp;</p> 174140733<p>7:3<em> And why do you see the splinter that is in your brother's eye but ignore the plank that is in your own eye?- </em>In Luke, the Lord prefaces this mini-parable by saying that the blind can't lead the blind. For Him, a man with even slightly impaired vision was effectively blind. In this very context He speaks of the need to be &quot;perfect... as his master&quot;. Only the perfect, by implication, can criticize their brethren. And the final reason He gives for not attempting to cast out the plank from our brother's eye is that &quot;For a good tree bringeth not forth corrupt fruit&rdquo;. This is rather hard to understand in the context. But on reflection, it seems that He is teaching that if we are good trees, we will have no corrupt fruit, no splinters in our eye- and because none of us are like this, there is corrupt fruit on each of us, we aren't perfect as our Master, therefore we shouldn't think of trying to cast out the plank from our brother's eye (Lk. 6:39-43). And of course He bids us to be perfect as our Father is. These high standards of demand were mixed with an incredible grace. Only a man who was evidently perfect could speak like this with any realness or credibility. Otherwise His words would just have been seen as the ravings of a weirdo. But there was a realness to His perfection that made and makes His demands so piercingly appropriate to us. The way He handled His perfection is a wonderful insight into His character. He knew that He was without sin; and He knew that the life He lived moment by moment was to be the pattern for all God&rsquo;s people. Yet somehow, He handled this in a manner which was never arrogant, never proud, and never off-putting to sinners; but rather, actually inviting to them.</p> <p>This continues the context about judging from verses 1 and 2. Our attitude to others will be the Lord's attitude to us at the last day. If we are hyper-critical of others, then this is how the Lord will look upon us. If&nbsp;<em>He</em>&nbsp;should mark iniquity in us, none could stand (Ps. 130:3)- and we should struggle with the natural human tendency to mark iniquity in others. The question 'Why...?' is answered by the Lord in verse 4- He perceived that we excuse our judgmentalness and critical attitudes with the excuse that we actually want to assist the poor person who is the object of our critical gaze. How many times have we heard the bitterest, most carping criticism of others- rounded off with the excuse 'I actually really feel so sorry for him'. This is the very mentality the Lord is bringing to our attention. He bids us realize how we justify critical attitudes towards others on the basis that we kind ourselves that we want to help them.<br /> <br /> The splinter is literally, a twig. Both a twig and a beam are all of the same material- wood. If the Lord was indeed a woodworker, He would have prepared this teaching during meditation in His workplace. The point is, all our faults are of the same essence. The problem is that although we have been called out of darkness / blindness into the light of life, we are still blind in so many ways- even though blindness is a feature of the unsaved, and ignorance of God is the basis of His anger with men (2 Thess. 1:8). Crystal clear teaching of Jesus relating to wealth, brotherly love, personal forgiveness, the vital unity of His church, personal purity&hellip; these all go ignored in some way by each of us, and therefore by us as a community. The Lord gently warns us that we are&nbsp;<em>all</em>&nbsp;likely to be blind in some way- why, He asks, are we so keen to comment on our brother's blindness / darkness, when we too have such limited vision (Mt. 7:3)? We can read the same passages time and again, and fail to let them really register.<br /> <br /> &quot;Consider not&quot; is alluded to by James. James is full of references to the Sermon, and James 1:23,24 repeat this Greek word for &quot;consider&quot;. James warns that we can be like the man who considers / beholds his face in a mirror and then carries on with life, immediately forgetting what he has seen of himself. It's not that we are totally, blissfully unaware of our faults. We see / consider them, but for a fleeting moment. And then live as if we have not seen them. The Lord is telling us to indeed see / consider our own planks. The idea seems to be that the plank in our own eye is our judgmental attitude towards our brother. This is what damages our vision; John teaches that we cannot see where we are walking if we hate our brother in our heart (1 Jn. 2:11). If we are without this major impediment to our vision, then maybe we will be able to assist others with removing small parts [a twig] of the major problems [a beam] which we have ourselves overcome.</p> 175140744<p>7:4&nbsp;<em>Or how will you say to your brother-&nbsp;</em>Remember that the Sermon was spoken to the disciples. The Lord is foreseeing how things would tend to go in the life of His collective people. There is something grotesque, absurd, over the top in this story. Christ's parables often have an element of unreality in them to highlight how His attitudes are unusual (e.g. the employer who pays all his men the same wages for different hours of work). And these unusual attitudes of His reflect the sensitivity of Jesus.&nbsp;But in this story of the two carpenters there is something not only unreal, but almost cartoon-like. We read it and think 'The Lord's obviously exaggerating, nobody would really be so foolish'. But that's exactly how He knew we would think! Our attempts to sort out our brother really are that absurd! Christ is effectively saying: 'Now, I know you'll think I'm exaggerating- but I'm not' (Lk. 6:41,42). Often it seems the Lord intends us to think His parables through to their end, imagining the necessary details. A splinter will come out of the eye naturally, it's presence will provoke tears which ultimately will wash it out. 'The grief of life will work on your brother to solve his problem, there are some spiritual weaknesses which time and the experience of life will heal; but I know you people will want to rush in and speed up the spiritual growth of your brother. But you can't do it!'. Christ even foresaw how we will stress the fact that our fellow believer is our &quot;brother&quot; as we try to do this; as if we'll try to be so righteous in the very moment when in God's eyes we do something grotesquely foolish. Doubtless the Lord's carpenter years were the time when He formulated this story. Perhaps He intends us to take it further, and pick up the implication that these two carpenters couldn't help each other; but there's another one who can...&nbsp; See on 13:28.</p> <p><em>Let me remove the splinter in your eye, when you have a plank in your own eye?-</em> &quot;Remove&quot; is s.w. 'cast out' in :5. The word is elsewhere used about the casting out of the rejected in condemnation (Mt. 8:12; 22:13; 25:30; Lk. 13:28; Jn. 6:37). It is also used about casting out from church (3 Jn. 10) and synagogue and society (Acts 13:50; Jn. 9:34; Lk. 6:22). In Luke's account of the Lord's presentation of the material, he uses the same word for &quot;cast out&quot; from religious association (Lk. 6:22) as he does just a few verses later for this 'casting out' of splinters (Lk. 6:42). The casting out is therefore a judgmental condemning of others- and that is the connection with the preceding context of Mt. 7:1-3. In practice, this involved religious disfellowship. Christ's people are to associate with each other in fellowship because they are convinced that by grace, they in the body of Christ shall share eternity together. To 'cast out' from fellowship someone is therefore to effectively 'cast them out' in condemnation. The same word is used in both senses. The Lord's parable is most insightful- because He observes that actually to do this is a natural tendency for His followers, and they will justify it in terms of thinking they are doing it out of concern. And yet their attempt to do this is in fact the plank in their own eye. That judgmentalism is in fact a far worse failing than any fault they have observed in their brother. And this all flows directly and seamlessly on from the Lord's point blank statement that He will condemn those who condemn others (Mt. 7:1). The practice and upholding of the wicked practice of disfellowship therefore appears to be an issue upon which our eternity may be staked. We must pay any price, including social death and being cut off from communities and families we have known and loved, in order to avoid doing this.</p> <p>We cannot &quot;behold&quot; our plank. This is an invitation to try to actually see the plank in your own eye. The plank is there exactly because you have tried to 'cast out' your brother, having heard the Lord's teaching about the need for a &quot;single eye&quot; (Mt. 6:22) and deciding that your brother's eye is defective. The plank is your judgmentalism. And that is what is so hard to perceive.</p> 176140755<p>7:5&nbsp;<em>You hypocrite</em>- Usually on the Lord's lips with reference to the Pharisees whom the Lord clearly detested and whom the rank and file disciples whom He was addressing likewise despised. But the Lord is saying that their critical, condemnatory attitude to each other would make them no different to the Pharisees.</p> <p><em>First</em>- The Greek&nbsp;<em>proton</em>&nbsp;suggests that the following clause is of ultimate, supreme importance; it's not simply a chronological statement that 'first do this, then do that'. If we condemn ourselves in our self-examination, we will not be condemned (1 Cor. 11:31). We are to most importantly [Gk.&nbsp;<em>proton</em>] &ldquo;cast out&rdquo; the beam from our own eye (Lk. 6:42)- and the Lord uses the same word about the &lsquo;casting forth&rsquo; of the rejected at the last day. We are to judge our own weaknesses as worthy of condemnation.</p> <p><em>Remove the plank from your own eye and then shall you</em>- We are to condemn ourselves firstly, recognizing our major blindness, and then with the humility of spirit elicited by this, we will have crystal clear vision with which to assist others.</p> <p><em>See clearly to remove the splinter in your brother's eye</em>- The Greek&nbsp;<em>dia-blepo</em>&nbsp;is related to the verb&nbsp;<em>blepo</em>&nbsp;in :3 (&quot;why do you&nbsp;<em>behold / see</em>&nbsp;the splinter...&quot;). The judgmental believer sees the splinter in his brother's eye and wants to condemn him for it, but the one who has repented of his judgmentalism and removed that plank from his spiritual vision will see through ('through' is really the sense of&nbsp;<em>dia</em>). The translation &quot;see clearly&quot; doesn't seem to me to have much to commend it. The one who has repented of the plank of his judgmentalism will see through casting out / condemning the splinter in his brother's eye. &quot;Then&quot; you will see through casting out the splinter from his eye-&nbsp;<em>tote</em>&nbsp;more comfortably carries the sense of 'right then'. The moment you repent of your condemnatory judgmentalism, you immediately see through condemning your brother's weakness. And so the Lord has powerfully enforced His principle which He began with at the start of this section- do not condemn. And through this profound parable of casting out splinters and planks, He has brought us to see through our brother's splinter. But the only way you can do that is to cast out / condemn your own condemnatory attitudes. It is often claimed that those who have committed what some would see as 'major' sins feel unable to judge others for their sins, and this is seen as a weakness. But actually, we are all major sinners. Those who have repented or matured into softer, non-condemnatory attitudes are mature, and not 'weak' as they are portrayed by their hard line brethren.</p> <p>The Lord foresaw the problems we would have within our community of believers in Him; from the schisms of the first century to the struggles of latter day believers. This story is a classic- of the carpenter with a beam in his own eye who is so keen to extract the splinter from the eye of his fellow worker (note how he almost forces himself upon his brother to do this!). There is something grotesque, absurd, over the top in this story. In this story of the two carpenters there is something not only unreal, but almost cartoon-like. We read it and think 'The Lord's obviously exaggerating, nobody would really be so foolish'. But that's exactly how He knew we would think! Our attempts to sort out our brother really are that absurd! Christ is effectively saying: 'Now, I know you'll think I'm exaggerating- but I'm not' (Lk. 6:41,42). Often it seems the Lord intends us to think His parables through to their end, imagining the necessary details. A splinter will come out of the eye naturally, its presence will provoke tears which ultimately will wash it out. 'The grief of life will work on your brother to solve his problem, there are some spiritual weaknesses which time and the experience of life will heal; but I know you people will want to rush in and speed up the spiritual growth of your brother. But you can't do it!'. Christ even foresaw how we will stress the fact that our fellow believer is our &quot;brother&quot; as we try to do this; as if we'll try to be so righteous in the very moment when in God's eyes we do something grotesquely foolish. Doubtless the Lord's carpenter years were the time when He formulated this story of the two carpenters. Significantly they both had wood in their eye- as if a brother will tend to seek to correct another brother who has in essence the same weaknesses, but the &lsquo;helping&rsquo; brother considers that the other brother&rsquo;s is so much greater than his. Perhaps the Lord intends us to take it further, and pick up the implication that these two carpenters couldn't help each other; but there's another one who can...&nbsp;</p> <p>In Luke, having spoken of the need to tolerate our brother, the Lord Jesus repeated His common theme: that there is no third road: &quot;Why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother's eye...? For a good tree bringeth not forth corrupt fruit; neither doth a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit&quot; (Lk. 6:41-43). There's no third position. Either we love our brother, and bring forth good fruit; or we don't get down to it, and bring forth bad fruit. We can't sometimes bring forth good, sometimes bad. At heart, we are either loving or selfishly hateful. Anything less than following Yahweh with all our heart is seen as doing evil in His eyes (1 Kings 11:6).</p> <p>If we can achieve true self-examination, perceiving what needs to be cast out of our lives and doing so, we have achieved something extremely valuable. We need to ask ourselves what real, practical influence the Gospel is having upon us; for life in Christ is about change, not mere acceptance (let alone inheritance) of a theological position which we loyally preserve to the end of our days as many misguided religious folk do. The value of true change is brought out powerfully when the Lord speaks of casting our pearls before pigs, to be trodden underfoot by them. He says this immediately after stating that we are to &ldquo;cast out&rdquo; the beams from our own eyes; but we are not to &ldquo;cast [out]&rdquo; our pearls before pigs (Mt. 7:5,6)- the Greek words for &ldquo;cast out&rdquo; in 7:5 (<em>ek-ballo</em>) and &ldquo;cast&rdquo; in 7:6 (<em>ballo</em>) are related. Clearly verse 6 belongs in the section about judging which begins in :1. The idea of being &ldquo;cast out&rdquo; is found earlier in the Sermon on the Mount, where the Lord warns of how saltless salt will be &ldquo;cast out&rdquo; and trodden underfoot (Mt. 5:13), the unforgiving will be &ldquo;cast out&rdquo; into prison (Mt. 5:25), those without fruit will be &ldquo;cast out&rdquo; into the fire (Mt. 7:29). To be cast out is to be rejected at the last day; and by condemning ourselves now in our self-examination, casting out the eye that offends (Mt. 5:29,30), we avoid having to be &ldquo;cast out&rdquo; at the last judgment. If we condemn ourselves now in our self-examination, we shall not need to be condemned at the last day (1 Cor. 11:31). But we are not to cast out our pearls before pigs, lest they trample them underfoot and attack us. In this context, I take this to mean that the offending eyes etc. which we cast out are not to be cast out to the world, lest they condemn us (which is how the Lord used the figure of trampling underfoot in Mt. 5:13). Thus the teaching about not casting pearls before pigs is seamlessly in context with the previous teaching about casting the beam out of our eye. Our repentances are to be before God and not necessarily the uncomprehending world. The pigs would&rsquo;ve confused true pearls with swine feed, and become angry once they realized those stones weren&rsquo;t food but stones. They just wouldn&rsquo;t have appreciated them. This isn&rsquo;t any justification for hypocrisy; it&rsquo;s simply stating that repentance is a private thing before God. But the point to note is that the offending eyes etc. which are cast out are likened by the Lord to &ldquo;pearls&rdquo;; they are of such priceless value. Thus we see the colossal importance of true change, of self-examination resulting in the transformation of human life in practice.</p> 177140766<p>7:6&nbsp;<em>Do not give</em>- We are to judge, but not to condemn (7:1). Clearly this verse 6 requires us to show discernment.&nbsp;</p> <p><em>That which is holy to the dogs-</em>&nbsp;<em>Hagios</em>, &quot;the holy&quot;, could be translated 'the holy ones', the saints. They were not to be thrown out to the dogs- i.e. to be condemned. This command not to condemn would then fit in seamlessly with the teaching of the preceding verses. The dogs which were on the edge of the city are associated with condemnation in both Jewish thought and Biblically (Ps. 59:6,14; Rev. 22:15). We are not to condemn, to throw the saints out to the dogs.</p> <p><em>Nor cast</em>-&nbsp;<em>Ballo</em>, related to&nbsp;<em>ekballo</em>&nbsp;(&quot;cast out&quot;) in :5. I have noted several times that 'casting out' is used in the Lord's thought for condemnation.</p> <p><em>Your pearls</em>- Pearls represent the believers. The 12 pearls of Rev. 21:21 represent the 12 disciples. The Lord Jesus in His work with us is &quot;seeking goodly pearls&quot; (Mt. 13:45). The pearls are 'ours' in the sense that all that are Christ's are ours, as He makes explicit in John 17. His pearls are our brethren.&nbsp;</p> <p><em>Before the pigs, lest they trample them under their feet</em>- Trampling by pigs was another Jewish figure of condemnation, of rejection into the Gentile world. Earlier in the Sermon, the Lord used the figure of trampling [s.w.] to describe condemnation and rejection (Mt. 5:13). To trample under foot meant to despise and specifically, to reject (s.w. Heb. 10:29 &quot;trodden underfoot the Son of God&quot;). Again the point is being made- don't condemn your brethren and treat them as mere worldlings, or even worse, those who shall be rejected from God's Kingdom. To refuse to fellowship them is treating them just like that.&nbsp;</p> <p><em>And turn again and tear you to pieces</em>- If we condemn our brethren, as it were casting them out to the pigs- those same pigs will turn on us and rend us- i.e.,&nbsp;<em>we</em>&nbsp;will share the same condemnation which we gave our brethren. And thus the point of 7:1 is repeated- if you condemn, you shall be condemned. The same word translated &quot;rend&quot; is used by the Lord in Mt. 9:17 about how the wine of the new covenant will &quot;burst&quot; or destroy the old wineskins and the wine will run out from them. The bursting or rending of the wineskins is a picture of destruction and condemnation. The pigs of condemnation to whom we consigned our brethren will turn again and trample&nbsp;<em>us</em>&nbsp;underfoot. Therefore- do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. This interpretation of verse 6 fits snugly into the context of the preceding verses. Any attempt to make it apply to not offering the Gospel to &quot;pigs&quot; in case we get hurt by them would seem out of context- and contrary to the spirit of taking the Gospel to all men without discrimination, and never holding back in sharing the Gospel from fear that we might get beat up for it.&nbsp;</p> 178140777<p>7:7&nbsp;<em>Ask and it shall be given you</em>- The connections within the Sermon surely send us back to Mt. 5:42 &quot;Give to him that asks&quot;. The same Greek words are used. Our responsiveness to others will be reflected in God's responsiveness to us. And yet the Lord's style throughout the sermon is to elevate the natural onto a higher, spiritual plane. This is not a blank cheque promise, as is clear from both personal experience and Bible teaching. What we can be utterly assured of being given is God's grace and salvation. The Lord surely foresaw that the initial mental objection to His words would be 'But that's not true! I don't get everything I ask for, and neither did many Bible characters!'. But He wanted us to therefore think further as to what He might be really saying- and what He is saying is that forgiveness and salvation will surely be given to whoever asks. These things are summarized in 7:11 as God for sure giving &quot;good things to them that ask Him&quot;. The parallel Lk. 11:13 summarizes those &quot;good things&quot; as &quot;the Holy Spirit&quot;. The power of spiritual victory, the real way to holiness in practice, a spiritual mind, unity through forgiveness with God's mind / spirit, is assured to those who simply ask for it in faith. Seeking and finding, knocking on the door and it being opened, are likewise metaphors elsewhere used for God's assured positive response to our spiritual requests. John's equivalent to this part of the Sermon is perhaps the Lord's assurance that He will definitely<em> give</em>&nbsp;&quot;living water&quot; to whoever&nbsp;<em>asks</em>&nbsp;Him (Jn. 4:10); and the frequent references to us being given &quot;the Holy Spirit&quot; or whatever we ask in His Name if it results in the Father being glorified (Jn. 14:13,14; 15:7,16; 16:23,24,26). The letter of James is full of reference to the Sermon, and his allusion to 'ask and you will be given' is that if any man ask for&nbsp;<em>wisdom</em>, he will be given it (James 1:5,6), but a man will&nbsp;<em>not</em>&nbsp;be given things if he asks for material things to fulfil his own natural desires (James 4:2,3). It's as if James is answering the primitive objection: 'Jesus said if you ask, you will be given- but I asked for stuff and never got it'. And his answer is that the blank cheque promise is obviously about asking for spiritual things, not material things. 1 Jn. 3:22; 5:14,15 likewise speak of receiving whatever we ask- in the context of saying that we can look forward to the day of judgment and be confident of acceptance there. God is willing and eager to save us, as the whole wonder of the crucifixion makes clear. If we ask for forgiveness, salvation and the strength to be spiritual, then He has promised to give those things to us. The wonder of that means that any attempt to try to as it were extort material blessing from God is sadly inappropriate and will not enter the mind of those who are rejoicing in His salvation.</p> <p><em>Seek and you shall find</em>- As David &quot;found&quot; God through experiencing His forgiveness, so can &quot;every one that is Godly&quot; today (Ps. 32:6). It is quite possible that &quot;seek and you shall find&rdquo;&nbsp;was uttered by the Lord with his mind on Ps. 32:6 and David's experience. After all, we cannot expect this to be a blank cheque offer, that whatever we seek for we must receive. But if these words are an allusion to David's seeking and finding forgiveness in Ps. 32:6, then the promise is more realistic. If we seek for forgiveness and a living relationship with God, then we have this unconditional promise that we&nbsp;<em>will</em>&nbsp;find this. Yet in a sense, the time when we will ultimately find God will be at the judgment: we will &quot;find mercy of the Lord in that day&quot; (2 Tim. 1:18), so that &quot;ye may be found of him in peace, without spot and blameless&quot; (2 Pet. 3:14). We will find God, as He will find us, in that great moment of consummation; &quot;for then shall (we) know (God), even as also (we) are known&quot; by Him (1 Cor. 13:12; ). Then we will &quot;be&nbsp;<em>found</em>&nbsp;in him... that I may (then)&nbsp;<em>know</em> him&quot; (Phil. 3:9,10). Yet David says that after forgiveness, we can find and know God. It is as if whenever we sin, we in a sense face our judgment seat. And the knowledge and 'finding' of God which we will then enjoy should be prefigured in our present experience of forgiveness. Should we not therefore pray for forgiveness with the intensity with which we would at the judgment, if we were then offered the chance to do so? &nbsp;<br /> The 'seeking' which is in view is clearly of spiritual things. Not long previously in the Sermon, the Lord had used the same word in encouraging us to above all &quot;seek the Kingdom of God&quot; (Mt. 6:33). And now He is encouraging us that if we seek it, we will 'find' it- the word for &quot;find&quot; is elsewhere translated &quot;obtain&quot;. If we really want the things of the Kingdom and to eternally be in that environment- we will be. The Lord Jesus Himself went out seeking for goodly pearls- and found them (Mt. 13:45,46). He goes seeking His sheep- and finds it (Mt. 18:12,13). He &quot;found&quot; faith in a Gentile (Mt. 8:10), He was as the woman who sought and found her precious coin (Lk. 15:8,9). Our seeking the things of the Kingdom is therefore not merely our personal seeking a place in its future establishment upon earth. We can seek the progress of the Kingdom principles which comprise the reign and kingship of God on earth right now. Part of that is in seeking men and women to submit to that Kingship / Kingdom. And that too shall ultimately succeed, as the Lord Jesus demonstrated in His own life despite so many setbacks and failures in response to Him. 'But nobody's interested!' is really the cry of unbelief in this promise. If we are seeking for men and women to submit to the things of God's Kingdom, then we shall find them- even if they may not join our denomination or agree totally with all of our theology.</p> <p><em>Knock and it shall be opened to you</em>- This again is the language of preaching. For Paul appears to allude to it three times in speaking of how doors of opportunity have been opened for him in the work of the Gospel (1 Cor. 16:9; 2 Cor. 2:12; Col. 4:3). The implication is surely that he had knocked in prayer, and the doors had been opened. If we pray for opportunities to preach, to save people (rather than spending our mental energy on condemning our brethren, in the context of :6), then God will respond. According to our principle of letting the Sermon interpret itself, it may be that the idea of the door being opened looks back to Mt. 6:6- in prayer, we are to shut our door and pray. And our knocking means that the door is opened. The particular metaphor of knocking upon a door and it being opened is used in Lk. 12:36 about the Lord knocking on our door at the second coming, and us opening; yet He stands today and knocks at the door, and we are to open to Him (Rev. 3:20). The point is surely that our relationship with Him is mutual, we knock and He opens, He knocks and we open. And at the last day, tragically too late, the rejected knock and the door will not be opened to them (Lk. 13:25). Their knocking is a desperate plea for salvation. But if we ask for it in this life- we shall receive it. So the metaphor speaks of seeking salvation and a relationship with the Lord in this life, but in context of the rest of the verse it also refers to our desire for others to have the door opened to them. John's equivalent to all this is perhaps His description of the Lord Jesus as the door, through whom any man may enter in to salvation. It's the same idea- the door is easily opened in this life, indeed the implication is that Jesus is effectively an open door for all who believe in Him.&nbsp;</p> 179140788<p><span style="font-size: 11pt;">7:8 </span><em style="font-size: 11pt;">For everyone that asks receives, and he that seeks finds, and to him that knocks it shall be opened</em><span style="font-size: 11pt;">- Note that the first two clauses [asking and seeking] are in the present tense. If we ask and seek for spiritual things, we shall receive them. But the metaphor of knocking and opening I suggested on 7:7 has a specific reference to seeking salvation at the last day. Hence the Lord uses the future tense. His repetition of what He has said in 7:7 is to drive home the wonder of it all. That if we ask for salvation, for ourselves as well as opportunities for others to have it, for the extension of God's Kingdom and glory- we really will receive it.</span></p> <p>The other couplets use the same Greek words as in 7:7 (seek... find; knock... opened). 'Ask' is the same Greek word, but&nbsp;<em>lambano</em>&nbsp;is used for 'receive' rather than&nbsp;<em>didomi</em>&nbsp;(&quot;given&quot;, 7:7). The words 'ask... receive' are to be found again in Jn. 16:24, where the Lord says that in the era of the comforter, whatever is asked for in His Name will be received. This would not be the only time that the Sermon appears to look ahead to the promises of the Comforter era- see on 5:4. James 4:3 continues James' commentary on the Sermon by saying that his readership asked and did not receive (same Greek words) because they asked for the wrong things from the wrong motives. He was correcting the impression some had taken that the Lord was offering a blank cheque for anything. Our commentary so far has shown that the Lord is promising salvation and the things connected with the extension of His Kingdom principles in our lives and those of others.&nbsp;</p> 180140799<p>7:9&nbsp;<em>Which one of you</em>- The Lord was addressing the disciples in Matthew's record of the Sermon. We can imagine Him looking around at each of them.</p> <p><em>If his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone?- </em>Ask... giv<em>e </em>are the same words as in 7:7. The Lord sensed that His promise of Divine response to prayer for salvation would be so hard for them to accept. He is here persuading them by all manner of methods to simply accept that reality. We are God's children, and He will not be cruel to us. It would be unnatural and counter-instinctive for Him to not save us. For His is the Kingdom- therefore He desires to give it to us, He designed it for us.&nbsp;<br /> <br /> The point has been made that loaves of bread looked like stones, just as there were some fish (similar to eels) caught in the sea of Galilee which looked like snakes (7:10). This surely played a part in the Lord's temptation to turn the stones of the wilderness into bread (Mt. 4:3). The similarity of the Aramaic words for bread and stone would have strengthened the connection. The simple message is that God will not play a cruel trick on us- because He is our loving Father. The Lord sensed human scepticism about God's simple offer of salvation. It is simply there- for all who will trust Him in a simple, child-like way. Perhaps the stone is to be connected with how the same word is used for the millstone of condemnation in Mk. 9:42 and Rev. 18:21, and &quot;the stone of stumbling&quot; in 1 Pet. 2:8. If we seek the bread of the Kingdom (a common Jewish concept at the time, Lk. 14:15), God will not condemn us. Note how the Lord spoke of salvation and relation with Him as &quot;the children's bread&quot; (Mt. 15:26), the bread of salvation given (<em>didomi</em>&nbsp;as in Mt. 7:7) freely (Jn. 6:32). The Lord saw to the essence of human fear- of Divine condemnation, that instead of the children's bread we would be given the stone of condemnation. One reason for the crucifixion was in order to try to openly persuade the world of God's grace- that it is for real. The Lord's teaching here signals one of man's greatest difficulties: to believe in God's grace. To accept His desire and passion to save us.</p> <p>The&nbsp;<em>giving</em>&nbsp;of bread to us by Jesus at the breaking of bread (<em>lambano</em>&nbsp;again, as in 7:8) is surely an acted parable of His utter commitment to indeed give us the bread we seek above all things (Mt.&nbsp; 26:26). Earlier in the Sermon, the Lord had used the same words to teach us to do just this: &quot;Give us this day our daily bread&quot;. So He clearly intends us to see ourselves as the hungry little child, asking his daddy for bread. And surely God will not disappoint. The prayer will be answered.</p> 18114071010<p>7:10&nbsp;<em>Or if he shall ask for a fish, will give him a serpent?</em></p> <p>- Lk. 11:11 labours the point: &quot;If he ask a fish, will he&nbsp;<em>for a fish&nbsp;</em>give him a serpent?&quot;. The Lord is penetrating deep into the psychology of His people. We fear that the promised salvation may only be an appearance. And we are being shown here that that is to effectively accuse God of a cruel trick. At what stage the fish became a symbol of Christianity is not clear (there is a distinct similarity in sound between the Aramaic for 'Jesus' and for 'fish', something like 'Iisus' and 'Ikfus'), but the combination of fish and serpent tempt us to interpret this as also having the sense: Do you think that Christianity, the whole offer of the Kingdom I am making, is really such a cruel trick that it's really the serpent, the symbol of evil incarnate? Because that really is how it would have to be. It's either that, or gloriously true. And if we accept God as our loving Father, then with childlike faith we must also believe that His offer of salvation is simply true for us- if we ask. Again we see a connection with earlier teaching in the Sermon; for the Lord had taught His people to pray to &quot;Our Father&quot;. Like all of the Lord's prayer, that is harder to pray than might first appear. Because if He really is our loving Heavenly Father, then we are to believe that if we ask Him for salvation and the things of His Kingdom, we shall surely receive.&nbsp;</p> 18214071111<p>7:11&nbsp;<em>If you then, being evil</em>- This record of the Sermon was addressed to the disciples. Did the Lord consider them to 'be evil'? The only other time we encounter the phrase &quot;being evil&quot; is again on the Lord's lips and again in Matthew: &quot;O generation of vipers, how can you,&nbsp;<em>being evil</em>, speak good things?&quot; (Mt. 12:34). He may have the sense that 'Even the worst Pharisees have a soft spot for their little boys and would never play a cruel trick on them- so do you think God will do that to you?'. The sentence opens with the particle&nbsp;<em>ei</em>, and it would be justifiable to translate this 'Whether' or 'Even if' instead of &quot;if&quot;. Even if they were as evil as the very worst sinners, they would still give their child bread rather than a stone. The logic is very powerful. If we believe God is basically good, then seeing even wicked people would not play a cruel trick on their kiddies, how much more would God not do that to us His beloved children, whom we address as &quot;Our Father&quot;?&nbsp;</p> <p><em>Know how to give</em>- Now the Lord moves beyond simply teaching that God will give us daily bread and salvation if we ask. He alludes here to how a father, even a man who is otherwise evil, has an intuitive sense as to what present his child would like. Paul Tournier's insightful book&nbsp;<em>The Meaning of Gifts</em>&nbsp;demonstrates that the desire to give gifts is psychologically part of 'love'. God knows what ultimately we would love so much. And yet, as the James 4:3 allusion demonstrates, it is not material things in this life which are in view here. God knows us and He knows all our possible futures, our eternal possibilities throughout His Kingdom. And He will surely give us that. He has created for us the most wonderful things to lavish upon us. To think that in any sense God is a 'hard man' is to tragically misunderstand. That persuasion only really comes from a lack of basic faith in Him and His grace.&nbsp;</p> <p><em>Good gifts to your children</em>- The emphasis upon &quot;good&quot; continues the laboured addressing of our fear that God just might not be 'good' and we might get a serpent rather than a fish from Him. The point is laboured because it is such a powerful array of step logic- if it's not all a cruel trick, then it is all wonderfully true. The parallel record speaks of &quot;the Holy Spirit&quot; instead of &quot;good gifts&quot;, and there is a clear connection with Eph. 4:8: &quot;He gave gifts unto men&quot;, referring to the Holy Spirit. All the Greek words there are used here in Mt. 7:11,12. On one level, there is a prediction of the Comforter, as elsewhere in the Sermon (see on 7:8). And yet the principle appears to be clearly that in general terms, God will not only give us daily bread and future salvation, but so much more besides- in spiritual terms. Whilst the form of manifestation of Spiritual gifts has changed since the first century, the principle remains- that God will give His Spirit to those who are poor in spirit and who hunger and thirst for righteousness.&nbsp;</p> <p><em>How much more shall your Father who is in heaven-&nbsp;</em>Many times the idea of &quot;Your father which is in heaven&quot; is used in the context of faith in prayer being answered (Mt. 7:11; 18:19; 21:22; Mk. 11:24; Jn. 14:13; James 1:5,6,17 etc.). It's as if the reality of God actually existing in Heaven in a personal form should be a powerful focus for our prayers.&nbsp;</p> <p><em>Give good things to them that ask him-&nbsp;</em>Answered prayer is paralleled with being given the Holy Spirit (Mt. 7:11 cp. Lk. 11:13). The prayer of the Philippians for Paul is likewise linked with &quot;the supply of the Spirit&quot; (Phil. 1:19). These passages therefore teach that having spiritual fruit is associated with answered prayer (Jn. 15:16), as is the possession of the Comforter (Jn. 14:14; 16:24 are in this context). Many passages imply that God's hearing of our prayers is proportionate to His perception of our spirituality. He will not respond to the prayer of those whose way of life is contrary to His word: Ps. 66:18; Pro. 1:24-28; Is. 1:15; 59:2; Jer. 7:16; 11:14; 14:10-12; 29:12; Lam. 3:8,44; Mal. 1:7-9; Mk. 11:25; Jn. 9:31; James 1:6,7; 4:3; 1 Pet. 3:7,12. But He will hear the prayer of the righteous; and 'hearing' is an idiom for 'answering', it doesn't just mean that God takes cognizance of the fact the righteous have prayed: 2 Kings 19:20; Mt. 7:7; 18:19,20; Jn. 14:14.</p> 18314071212<p><span style="font-size: 11pt;">7:12&nbsp;</span><em style="font-size: 11pt;">Therefore</em><span style="font-size: 11pt;">- The reason why we should do to others as we would like them to do to us flow straight on from :11. But what is the connection of thought? Perhaps the Lord is changing tack here and introducing His concluding summary for the Sermon, which is about 'doing' what He has been teaching. The same Greek for 'do' here in :12 is translated 'bring forth' or 'do' in the distinct seven-fold exhortation to do' which we find in 7:17,18,19,21,22,24,26. The Greek&nbsp;</span><em style="font-size: 11pt;">oun</em><span style="font-size: 11pt;">&nbsp;translated &quot;therefore&quot; is of wide meaning, and could just as comfortably introduce a new section rather than conclude the section about judging which began in 7:1. It can have the sense of 'truly' or 'certainly', as if introducing a major truth. But it may be that the context of judgment, so clearly established in the preceding 11 verses, is not out of the Lord's mind in His use of the word&nbsp;</span><em style="font-size: 11pt;">oun</em><span style="font-size: 11pt;">, &quot;Therefore...&quot;. If we condemn others, if we drag them before God's judgment because we refuse to forgive them, then we must consider: Do I want others to do that to me? For we have all sinned and upset others to the point some struggle to forgive us. As we judge others, then we shall be judged likewise. If we really hope they have to answer for their sin against us, then perhaps they will have to. And would you like others to take you to the Divine court for your sins?</span></p> <p><em>Whatever you want men to do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets</em>- This is another way of saying 'Love your neighbour as yourself'. The Greek for 'do to you' recurs in Mt. 18:35 where we read how God shall 'do to you' if you do not forgive your brother. We also find the phrase in Mt. 25:40,45- 'whatever you do' to Christ's brethren, you do to Him and shall receive from Him accordingly. It is true that what goes around, comes around- so it's best to treat others as you would like to be treated. But that kind of truth is expressed in almost every religious and cultural system of the world. My sense is that the Lord is not merely repeating conventional, folksy wisdom, but rather is elevating it to a far higher and more deeply internal, spiritual level. For this is His style throughout the Sermon. The recurrence of the phrase 'whatever you do' in Mt. 25:40,45 teaches that whatever we do (or do not do) to others, we do to Christ personally. And in that dimension of life, the 'come back' of our actions will not simply be in this life, but more importantly, at the last day. Judgment day, either explicitly or implicitly, forms a major theme in the Lord's teaching. If He is indeed teaching that what we do to others is done to Him and therefore will have its response at the day of judgment, rather than merely in this life as folksy wisdom teaches, then indeed we can understand His comment: &quot;For this is the law and the prophets&quot;. The law and the prophets do indeed teach that human behaviour, especially that done to others, shall come to final judgment in the last day. But I would not say that 'what goes around, comes around' is exactly their major and noteworthy theme, true as that bit of folksy wisdom is.</p> 18414071313<p>7:13&nbsp;<em>Enter in</em>- The context is quite clear that the Lord means 'enter into the Kingdom' (Mt. 18:3; 19:24; Lk. 18:25). But the question is, whether the Lord speaks of entering into the Kingdom at the last day, or in some sense, in this life. Luke's record of this statement of the Lord is in Lk. 13:24: &quot;Strive to enter in at the narrow gate: for many... will seek to enter in, and shall not be able&quot;. This favours a 'last day' interpretation, for we know from the parable of the foolish girls that some will seek to enter at the time of the Lord's return and be unable to. Some other usages of the phrase 'enter in' imply the same (Mt. 5:20; 18:3;&nbsp;25:10; Acts 14:22; Heb. 3:19; 4:6; Rev. 22:14). However, John's equivalent of this phrase speaks of the believer 'entering in' to a relationship and salvation with the Lord right now (Jn. 10:9). And other words of the Lord speak of 'entering in' to &quot;life&quot; right now (Mt. 18:3,8,9; 19:17). The guests enter in to the Messianic banquet now, before the Master comes, Mt. 22:12; the Scribes stopped men entering the Kingdom right now, Mt. 23:13; by birth of water and spirit we enter the Kingdom, Jn. 3:5; the Gentiles enter in every time one is converted (Rom. 11:25); a promise is given us of entering the promised rest, but we who believe do right now 'enter in' to that rest (Heb. 4:1,3). And yet we are to labour in order to enter into that rest (Heb. 4:11). The rich man must shed the load of his wealth and enter in- now (Mt. 19:23,24). For judgment day is too late to shed the load of wealth. We can therefore conclude that by following the Lord's teaching now, we enter into His Kingdom; insofar as His Kingship is exercised over us, we are His Kingdom, those whom He is King over. The outcome of the judgment day is not therefore some terrible unknown to us if we are in our hearts and lives clearly under His Kingship in this life. Our passage into the future Kingdom of God on earth will be a seamless continuation of our present experience.&nbsp;</p> <p><em>By the narrow gate</em>- The Greek could imply 'made narrow'. The Lord repeats the term in :14, emphasizing how narrow is the entrance. The contrast is with the wide gate and broad road. The idea of two gates facing a man was surely an allusion to the gates of Jerusalem, which had a main gate, through which camels could pass, and the small gate through which only pedestrians could enter. This leads me to favour the traditional interpretation of entering through into the Kingdom through the eye of a needle (Mt. 19:24; Lk. 18:25)- the rich must unload their camels of all their wealth and squeeze through the small needle gate. The narrowness of the gate is because it is so hard for people to give up their materialism. They desire spirituality, to enter in, but not without their present attachment to wealth. Remember the Lord was primarily and initially addressing the poor. The desire for wealth, and especially mental concern about it, is the main reason why people do not grasp the way to the Kingdom. That needs some sober reflection, because our natural assumption is that warnings against materialism do not apply to&nbsp;<em>me</em>. Whenever we find ourselves making such an assumption, that Biblical warnings do not apply to us, we need to really ensure that we are thinking straight and that our self-deceiving flesh is not kidding us that we simply don't have to take the Lord at His word.</p> <p><em>For wide is the gate and broad is the way</em>- Surely the Lord at this stage in His ministry had in mind the way that John the Baptist had come to prepare a &quot;way&quot; for Him (Mt. 3:3). By admitting that this way would only be found by a minority of Israel, the Lord was perhaps tacitly recognizing that John's attempt to prepare a way over which the King of glory could come to Jerusalem had not succeeded.&nbsp;</p> <p><em>That leads</em>-&nbsp;<em>Apago</em>&nbsp;is used another 14 times in the New Testament. Ten of these specifically refer to being 'lead away to death', the majority referring to the leading away of the Lord Jesus to death on the cross. 7:14 contrasts being lead to destruction with being lead to life; but the way to life is through the death of the cross. We either bear our iniquities and their result (Lev. 19:8), or we bear the cross of the Lord Jesus. It's a burden either way. The Lord played on this fact when He spoke of there being two roads, one which&nbsp;<em>leads</em>&nbsp;to death, and the other to life (Mt. 7;13,14). The Greek word translated 'lead' is in fact part of an idiom: to be led is an idiom for 'to be put to death' (cp. Jn. 18:13; 21:18). Indeed, the very word translated &ldquo;lead&quot; in Mt. 7:14 is rendered &quot;be put to death&quot; (Acts 12:19). So, we're led out to death either way, as the criminal made his 'last walk' to the cross. We're either led out and put to death for the sake of eternal life, or for eternal death. The logic is glaring. The Hebrew of Ps. 139:24 reveals a telling play on words which makes the same point: &quot;Wicked way&quot; is rendered in the AVmg. as 'way of pain'; the way of wickedness is itself the way of pain.</p> <p><em>To destruction</em>- The Greek is used another 19 times in the New Testament, nearly always with reference to condemnation at the last day. We are making the choice now- condemnation, or the path to the cross, to death, and thence to eternal life. The essence of the future judgment is before us daily; &quot;we make the answer now&quot;.</p> <p><em>And many are they that enter in thereby</em>- The same word used about the &quot;many&quot; who were now listening to Him teach (Mt. 4:25; 8:1). Surely He was saying that the Kingdom road is not found by many. And yet we compare this with the promise that Abraham's seed will become many. Compared to the wonder of salvation, we are indeed &quot;many&quot;, but relative to the many who do not respond, we are a minority.</p> 18514071414<p>7:14&nbsp;<em>For narrow is the gate and straight the road that leads to life-&nbsp;</em>&quot;The way of the sluggard is blocked with thorns; but the path of the upright is a highway&quot; (Proverbs 15:19 NIV). The road of the wise is described as a highway in Proverbs 16:17 too; and the way of the wicked is also strewn with difficult obstacles in Proverbs 22:5; &quot;Whose ways are crooked, and they froward in their paths&quot; (2:15). There is probably a designed contrast between this and the way the Lord described the road to the Kingdom as made narrow, and the way to death as a wide, broad highway (Mt. 7:13,14); the Proverbs seem to say the opposite. The answer may be that Proverbs is presenting God's viewpoint; in ultimate reality, the way to the Kingdom is wide and clear and easier, better marked, than the road to death. But the Lord turned all this round, because He appreciated that from&nbsp;<em>our</em> perspective, this wouldn't be the case. We will think that the way to the Kingdom is made narrow (Gk.) and hard, restricted; whilst the road to death seems so wide and obviously right. The Lord Jesus based many of His parables on the Proverbs, and His words concerning the wide road to destruction and the narrow road to the Kingdom (Mt. 7:13,14) are surely based on the frequent descriptions of the ways / great way to life, and that to death, which Proverbs so often mentions. The road / way of life which we are on is really leading somewhere. &quot;The way of the wicked&quot; is opposed to the way of him &quot;that followeth after righteousness&quot; (Proverbs 15:9 cp. seeking the Kingdom and God's righteousness, Mt. 5:47).</p> <p><em>But few</em>- See on &quot;many&quot; in 7:13. We find another contrast between the few and the many when we read that only &quot;few&quot; will be chosen from the many who are called (Mt. 20:16; 22:14). The implication seems to be that out of the &quot;many&quot; who were then listening to the Lord's teaching (&quot;many&quot; in 7:13 is s.w. Mt. 4:25; 8:1), only a minority would enter into life. There seems fair Biblical reason to think that the community of God's people are a minority in the world, and yet within them, only a minority will finally choose the way of salvation. This helps make sense of why all the faithful lament the weak spiritual state of the church communities surrounding them. And recognizing that this is a general principle shields us from the disillusion which arises from having started out believing that the majority of our community are genuine believers. We have no option but to assume they will be saved, for we cannot condemn any individual; but on the other hand, we are to recognize that on a statistical level, only a few of those within the community will be saved. The majority of those who were 'baptized' in the Red Sea did not make it to God's Kingdom, and this fact is used in 1 Cor. 10 and Hebrews 3 and 4 to warn us not to assume that the ratio will be much higher in the Christian community.</p> <p><em>Are they that find it</em>- This is clearly to be connected with the Lord's teaching a few verses earlier that whoever seeks will find (Mt. 7:7,8). He is balancing out the statistical difficulty of salvation with the fact that those who want to be there just have to ask- and they will be. The promise that whoever seeks / asks will find / receive is not a blank cheque about material things, but rather is a promise of entry into the Kingdom. All those who truly love the Lord's appearing will enter the Kingdom (2 Tim. 4:1,8). It is so simple that it is hard to believe- those who truly seek to be in the Kingdom, will find a place therein. Note how the Lord here speaks of finding the way that leads to life, elsewhere He speaks of finding life (Mt. 10:39; 16:25). This is typical of the now / but not yet teaching of the New Testament. We have the eternal life in the sense that we are living that kind of life which we shall eternally live, we have entered the way to life; but we are still mortal and await the physical change to immortality.</p> 18614071515<p>7:15&nbsp;<em>Beware</em>- Clearly the prohibition against judging others in the sense of condemning them (7:1) doesn't mean that we can't form a valid opinion about someone's genuineness as a teacher.</p> <p><em>Of false prophets</em>-&nbsp;<em>Pseudo-prophetes</em>&nbsp;means that these people are not spiritual at all, they are faking it, pseudo- prophets. To be such a fake, a&nbsp;<em>pseudo</em>, is not the same as being a believer who has failed in behaviour at times or who has some Biblical interpretations which we don't personally agree with.</p> <p><em>Who come to you</em>- The Greek phrase likely means 'Appear to you'.&nbsp;</p> <p><em>In sheep's clothing</em>- Dressed as if they are Jesus?</p> <p><em>But inwardly</em>- Given our inability to judge the inner thoughts of others, and the clear prohibition against judging to condemnation in the context (7:1), perhaps this is the Lord's comment upon them, and is not meant to be an invitation to us to claim to read the inward thoughts of others? However the next verse goes on to say that we can observe their fruits, and it is by their fruits that&nbsp;<em>we</em>&nbsp;are to discern them. But the Lord discerns them by their inward thoughts, which are visible to Him. Thereby His position on these false prophets becomes our position too- but we arrive there by different routes. We are to observe their fruits, whereas He looks upon their hearts. The Lord uses the same word several times to tell the Pharisees that&nbsp;<em>inwardly</em>&nbsp;or 'within' they are full of unspirituality (Mt. 23:25,27,28; Lk. 11:39). This suggests that His warning against &quot;false prophets&quot; is a warning against the Jewish leadership. But He uses the language of 'prophets' because this fits in with the Old Testament theme of false and true prophets. Just as the people had to discern between those two groups, so now, in an era when there were no more prophets in the Old Testament sense, God's people had to beware of imposters like the Pharisees. They were false prophets, false speakers of God's word, in that they had effectively elevated their interpretations of God's word [the&nbsp;<em>halakah</em>] to the same level as God's actual inspired word.</p> <p><em>Are ravening wolves</em>- The Greek word is always translated elsewhere as 'extortioner'. The Pharisees are clearly in view here, and yet the Pharisee of Lk. 18:11 thanked God with the same word, that he was not an 'extortioner' (Lk. 18:11). The Pharisee didn't see his own sin. The Lord saw their hearts and saw that they were extortioners, but they thanked God that they were not. This is an essay in the blindness of humans to their own sins, and in our need to see ourselves as the Lord sees us, with His eyes and from His perspective. This is the essence of self-examination. The motive of the Pharisees / false prophets was clearly financial gain. This is pinpointed by the Lord as the fundamental reason for their false prophecies, for their external appearance of spirituality- it was because they wanted cash out of people. This was and is clearly deeply upsetting to the Lord.</p> <p>We've seen that these false prophets were specifically the Pharisees in the Lord's immediate context. When He warns the disciples that He is sending them out as sheep amongst wolves (Mt. 10:16), He is clearly alluding to His teaching here- that the Pharisees appear as sheep, but are as wolves. The implication could be that there would be fake disciples of Jesus, and that the real opposition to the work of the disciples would be the wolves of the Pharisees (see on 'The Jewish Satan' in my&nbsp;<em>The Real Devil</em>). This clearly happened after the Lord's death, where the Judaist plot to destroy Paul's preaching of Christianity involved Judaist 'false brethren in Christ' entering in to the flock as wolves (Gal. 2:4). In Jn. 10:12, the Lord speaks of how He as the good shepherd would give His life fighting the wolf so that the sheep might be saved; the implication is that the wolf killed Him. His death was at the hands of the Jewish leadership. Wolves don't usually kill men. This is an element of unreality to highlight the point- that legalism may not appear too bad nor too ultimately dangerous; but in fact it is, and was what led to the death of God's Son. Paul's warning that wolves would enter the flock (Acts 20:29) likewise came true in the Judaist false teachers who entered in to the ecclesias and destroyed so much, both spiritually and doctrinally. I have shown elsewhere that the roots of the false thinking which led to later false doctrines such as the Trinity actually began in Judaist ideas which entered Christianity. From our standpoint today, we can take the point that the major enemy of the Gospel will be legalism and posturing religious leaders.</p> 18714071616<p>7:16&nbsp;<em>By their fruits you shall know them</em>- Perhaps the emphasis was upon the &quot;you&quot;. The Lord knows the evil hearts of these people- but we can't see their hearts, and so&nbsp;<em>we</em>&nbsp;shall know them by their external fruits.&nbsp;The need for fruit as a sign of repentance had been a theme in John's teaching (Mt. 3:8,10), and the Lord in His Sermon is often building on John's words. The Lord's concern is about those who appear to have accepted His message, dressing as sheep, and yet are in fact completely false. The whole thrust of His Sermon is that acceptance of Him produces a change in human life; there must be fruit. And we take a simple lesson from that- if we are to be able to tell whether someone is a genuine Christian or not by whether their fruits are visible, we have to ask ourselves whether our lives are so markedly different from unbelievers. There is to be something about us, fruit hanging on us, which clearly differentiates us from the unbelieving world. The difference has got to be fairly obvious, because the Lord is here teaching that we can easily discern whether someone purporting to be spiritual is indeed so because the fruits of it will be evident. Therefore there will not be any debate about whether someone is in the wolf / false prophet category- because they either have the fruits of the Spirit, the signs of the transformed life, or they do not. And the difference will be obvious. And yet endless energy has been expended trying to judge false prophets according to the content of their Biblical exposition and teaching. The Lord, however, teaches that the litmus test is in their life, rather than in their intellectual position.&nbsp;</p> <p><em>Do men gather grapes from thorns, or figs from thistles?</em><i><br /> </i>- The idea is 'Of course not'. The Lord's point is that spiritual fruit is obvious, it cannot be hidden, like a city set on a hill. If there are grapes, the blessed fruit of the new covenant, on a person- then for sure they are not a thorn bush, with all the associations between thorns and cursing. In Mt. 12:33 the Lord makes an apparently obvious point- a good tree has good fruit, a bad tree has bad fruit. But the point is that we can easily, clearly tell whether someone has the fruit of the transformed life or not. There is no argument about it, because the fruit of the transformed life, lived according to this Sermon on the Mount, is public and visible. The seed of the Gospel which is sown by Jesus either brings forth fruit, or it doesn't (Mt. 13:8,26). So much angst about labelling individuals as false teachers is rendered unnecessary if we take this approach. And the false teachers with whom the later New Testament letters engage are teaching a false way of life, and Jude, Peter and John especially point out that their way of life indicates that they are false teachers.&nbsp;</p> <p>Figs are associated with spiritual fruit (Mt. 21:19; 24:32), whereas thistles, like thorns, are associated with the curse (Gen. 3:18 &quot;thorns and thistles&quot;; s.w. Heb. 6:8 &quot;that which bears thorns and thistles is rejected&quot;). The point is, that the difference between the accepted and the condemned is apparent even in this life, because the fruit of the transformed life simply has to be seen publicly on people. This is perhaps the Lord's expansion upon His command not to judge / condemn in 7:1. He's saying that we should not, however, walk around life blind and imperceptive, but rather take good notice of the presence or absence of fruit on a person.&nbsp;<br /> The Lord puts it slightly another way in Lk. 6:44 when He says that men don't &quot;gather&quot; good fruit from a corrupt tree. The language of gathering is very much that of judgment to come; and yet the fruit is produced and gathered now, in the words / fruit that comes out of our mouth. This is why right now we can judge a false teacher, by his corrupt words [this is one of the contexts of the Lord's words about corrupt trees and fruit- we see the fruit&nbsp;<em>now</em>]. The corrupt man&nbsp;<em>will</em>&nbsp;speak villainy (Is. 32:6). But corrupt words don't just mean expletives- the false teacher would be too smart to use them. He comes in sheep's clothing. But Lk. 6:41-44 gives us an example of &quot;corrupt&quot; words; words which create a corrupting spiritual influence in a man or in a community. One may&nbsp;<em>say</em>&nbsp;to his brother that he must cast out the splinter from his eye, although he has a plank in his own. And the Lord goes on to say that a good tree doesn't bring forth corrupt fruit. The corrupt fruit, as in the above passages, means 'corrupt words'. And in Lk. 6:45 the Lord concludes by saying that &quot;for of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh&quot;. The corrupt fruit are the corrupt words of Lk. 6:42- saying, 'My brother, I'm very sorry, but I just have to correct you, you are so obviously wrong and stupid to walk round with a splinter in your eye, I can correct your spiritual vision, because I see perfectly. At the moment your spiritual perception ['eye] is just hopeless'. The Lord understood 'the eye' as ones' spiritual vision (Mt. 6:22,23). These kind of words, in essence, are the real leaven; they corrupt / pull apart over time communities as well as individual faith. These criticisms work away within a brother or sister, disaffirming them as believers, disaffirming them for who they are, raising doubt and not hope, humiliating them that they haven't made the grade&hellip; until they are corrupted. We have a specific example of a man being punished in judgment for his words, and it may well be the basis for the Lord's teaching here: &quot;When the Lord hath performed his whole work upon mount Zion and on Jerusalem, I will punish the fruit of the stout heart of the king of Assyria, and the glory of his high looks. For he saith, By the strength of my hand I have done this&hellip;&quot; (Is. 10:11,12). And there follows a long quotation of his words. These words were the 'fruit of his heart'- out of the abundance of his heart his mouth had spoken. And these words were almost cited back to him at the time of his condemnation. We know, however, that it is quite possible for human actions and words to&nbsp;<em>not</em>&nbsp;reflect the heart. Consider how Sennacherib invaded Judah but in his heart &quot;he meaneth not so, neither doth his heart think so&quot; (Is. 10:7). This is why the Lord clearly condemns the thought as being as bad as the action, even if the action isn't actually committed. Ps. 55:21 laments how words cannot reflect the true state of a man's heart: &quot;The words of his mouth were smoother than butter, but war was in his heart: his words were softer than oil, yet were they drawn swords&quot;. So why, then, is there so much emphasis on spoken words as the basis for judgment to come? Surely it is that although thoughts will also be judged, and the hypocrites revealed for who they are, it doesn't follow that a good man sometimes uses 'corrupt speech'. It's impossible. A good man cannot bring forth bad words. But a bad man can sometimes bring forth words which seem good on the surface, but which are in fact counterfeit. But it can't happen another way- a good man's words aren't just his surface level sin. And I for one flinch at this; because when I have to own up to having said inappropriate words, my flesh wants me to think that in my heart, I didn't mean them. And yet, ruthlessly, I must press the point: bad words reflect a bad heart. We can't justify them. We must repent of them, and by the influence of knowing God, through and in His Son and His word, we must change the state of mind that leads to them. And we should be, on one hand, simply&nbsp;<em>worried</em>: that bad words came out of a bad heart. And a good man cannot bring forth such corrupt fruit. There is with some especially the problem of temper, saying things well beyond what they really mean in hot blood. But here again, the words of hot blood do reflect something of the real man or woman. The tongue is a fire that can lead to condemnation, whatever and however we justify its' words as a relatively harmless outcome of our personality type. This may be true, but it isn't harmless.</p> 18814071717<p><span style="font-size: 11pt;">7:17 </span><em style="font-size: 11pt;">Even so every good tree brings forth good fruit but the corrupt tree brings forth evil fruit</em><span style="font-size: 11pt;">- See on :18.</span></p> 18914071818<p>7:18 <em>A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit- </em>This appears to belabour the point made in the preceding verses. But the Lord so wishes to drive the point home- that fruit on a transformed person is obvious and visible. If we are to use the presence or absence of fruit as a basis for perceiving false teachers, then we will have no problem at all discerning who is of the Lord and who isn't. And yet this very issue of deciding on others' status has been fatally divisive and destructive for the Lord's church. Statements of faith are analysed, and the teaching of others is watchfully dissected to see if it fits that given statement- in order to decide whether someone is 'in' or 'out'. The Lord foresaw that tendency, for it was the tendency of the scribes too. And instead He offers us this other way, elevating spirituality to the highest level- whoever has the fruits &quot;cannot&quot; be a bad tree. The issue of 'fruit' therefore becomes the key methodology through which to make the judgments which we are called to make in life. The attitude is often expressed that 'Well they may be very nice Christians and all that, but they do not understand the Truth about... [issue X]'. The Lord is tackling that mentality head on, by saying that this &quot;cannot&quot; be the case; if the fruit is there, then they are a good tree, whatever misunderstandings they may have (and we all have them).&nbsp;</p> 19014071919<p><span style="font-size: 11pt;">7:19&nbsp;</span><em style="font-size: 11pt;">Every tree that does not bring forth good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire-&nbsp;</em><span style="font-size: 11pt;">The Gehenna fire of condemnation of the wicked is &quot;already kindled&quot; by men's attitude now (Lk. 12:49). The tree that will not bring forth good fruit &quot;</span><em style="font-size: 11pt;">is</em><span style="font-size: 11pt;">&nbsp;hewn down, and cast into the fire&quot; (Mt. 7:19)- alluding to the figure of Gehenna, into which the rejected will be 'thrown'. The ungodly&nbsp;</span><em style="font-size: 11pt;">are</em><span style="font-size: 11pt;">&nbsp;already like the chaff that will be blown away after the Lord's return (Ps. 1:4,5; 35:5; Job 21:18-20 cp. Is. 5:24; 17:13; 29:5; Dan. 2:35; Lk. 3:17). Those who lose their first love are&nbsp;</span><em style="font-size: 11pt;">now&nbsp;</em><span style="font-size: 11pt;">condemned (1 Tim. 3:6; 5:12). The Lord Jesus stands with the sword of judgment&nbsp;</span><em style="font-size: 11pt;">now&nbsp;</em><span style="font-size: 11pt;">going out of His mouth (Rev. 1:16), as it will do at the final judgment (Is. 11:4). The Lord's description of the rejected being cut down and thrown into the fire is surely referring to the words of Dt. 12:3 (cp. 7:5); where the idols of the world were to be hewn down and thrown into the fire. The Lord understood that those who worship idols are like unto them (Ps. 115:8; 135:18). Because the idols will be destroyed in the last day, all who worship them will have to share their destruction. And yet we can be hewn down by God's word now (Hos. 6:5) rather than wait for God to do it to us by the condemnation process. We must cut off (s.w. hew down) our flesh&nbsp;</span><em style="font-size: 11pt;">now&nbsp;</em><span style="font-size: 11pt;">(Mt. 5:30; 18:8 cp. 7:19).</span></p> 19114072020<p><span style="font-size: 11pt;">7:20</span><em style="font-size: 11pt;"> Therefore by their fruits you shall know them- </em><span style="font-size: 11pt;">The belaboured repetition of the point (see on 7:17,18) is surely because we will have a strong temptation to undervalue spiritual fruit, and to seek to judge others in terms of their traditions, culture and specific interpretations- rather than by their fruit.&nbsp;</span></p> 19214072121<p>7:21&nbsp;<em>Not everyone that says to me: Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven-&nbsp;</em>Mt. 7:21 = Rom. 2:13. Paul saw the &quot;Lord, Lord&quot; people of the parable as the Jews of the first century who initially responded enthusiastically to the Gospel. The contrast is between saying &quot;Lord, Lord&quot; in this life, and then in the future not entering into the Kingdom (&quot;in that day&quot;, :22). The contrast is between merely&nbsp;<em>saying</em>&nbsp;and actually&nbsp;<em>doing</em>. The Lord repeats the idea in His mini parable of the two sons; the one who 'said' he would be obedient, and the other who 'did' the will of his father (Mt. 21:30,31). The acceptance of Christ as Lord means that we are as His servants and slaves; it is for us to 'do' His will and work. This fits with the context of the preceding verses- that if He is really our Lord, we will inevitably&nbsp;<em>do</em>&nbsp;His will, and that doing will be actual, practical and visible. It is the false prophets who merely say but don't&nbsp;<em>do</em>, just as they claim to be good trees but don't have good fruit.</p> <p><em>But he that pleases my Father who is in heaven</em>- Or, &quot;does the will&quot;. Allowing the Sermon to interpret itself, we see an obvious connection with our prayer asking &quot;Your will be done&quot; (Mt. 6:10). If that request was just asking for God to do His will, it would be easy to pray and also somewhat meaningless. But the connection with Mt. 7:21 means that we are asking that&nbsp;<em>we</em>&nbsp;do God's will. And doing His will is difficult, slow progress, building on a rock- as the rest of Matthew 7 records. The Lord's prayer in Gethsemane demonstrates the difficulty of praying for the Father's will to be done in our lives- prayed there with sweat like drops of blood (Mt. 26:42). So we are to pray for strength to do God's will, for spiritual strength to live obediently to the principles of the Sermon. 1 Jn. 5:14 encourages us that if we ask for anything &quot;according to&nbsp;[<em>kata</em>] His will, He hears us&quot;. But asking&nbsp;<em>kata</em>&nbsp;His will could just as well be translated 'in order to fulfil'. If we want strength to do His will in practice, He will give it to us. And His will is expressed here in Matthew 5-7 quite clearly.&nbsp;</p> <p>&quot;The will of My Father in Heaven&quot; is a fairly common phrase with the Lord (Mt. 12:50; 18:14; John's equivalent seems to be 'to do the will of Him that sent Me', Jn. 4:34; 5:30; 6:38,39,40). The idea seems to be that we on earth can do the will of Him who is in one sense so far away from us, &quot;in Heaven&quot;; and thereby collapse that distance between us.&nbsp;</p> 19314072222<p>7:22&nbsp;<em>Many</em>- The Greek often means 'the majority'. Here perhaps we have the clearest implication that only a minority of those who come to Christ shall ultimately be saved. Hebrews, Romans and 1 Cor. 10 suggest that if we think that natural Israel were far worse than spiritual Israel in terms of percentage coming to salvation- then we must take heed lest we fall.</p> <p><em>Will say to Me in that day</em>- Judgment will be a process, with the rejected initially protesting, seeking to change the Lord's mind- and then slinking away in shame. Nobody will be passive in that day. The only thing important will be acceptance at His hand and a place in the Kingdom. We will come to that position either by loving obedience to His ways in this life- or all too late, in condemnation. The logic is powerful- we must choose that desire for the Kingdom life&nbsp;<em>now</em>&nbsp;as the dominant emotion, overarching all our emotions, decision making and formation of our deepest desires.</p> <p><em>Lord, Lord</em>- Mt. 7:22 = 1 Cor. 13:2. To say &quot;Lord, Lord&quot; without really&nbsp;<em>knowing</em>&nbsp;Christ is living without love. Thus Paul saw an association between a lack of true love and an external show of appreciation of Christ's Lordship. Not doing what Christ says is a lack of love, in Paul's mind. If we appreciate this, we will see that those who are ignorant of Christ's words cannot show true love. Biblically ignorant Christians need to think through the implications of this. Those who insincerely say &quot;Lord, Lord&quot; now, will say the same then, at the judgment, with the same lack of reality (Mt. 7:21,22). The repetition of &quot;Lord, Lord&quot; shows that our attitude to Him in this life will be that we have when we meet in the last day. The sensation of working for the Lord can be so self-deceptive. He draws the difference between doing many wonderful works in His name, saying &ldquo;Lord, Lord&rdquo;; and&nbsp;<em>really</em>&nbsp;doing the will of the Father (Mt. 7:21,22). The parallel Lk. 6:46 has that men will say &ldquo;Lord, Lord&rdquo; but not really hear His words. To hear them is to do the will of the Father. Putting all this together, it is perfectly possible to bear His Name, call Him Lord, work hard for Him- and yet never really hear His words, and thereby never really know the will of our Father. From this parallel we can conclude that our attitude to Christ in this life (e.g. &quot;Lord, Lord!&quot;) will be our attitude to Him at the judgment seat. If we think He is a hard, unreasonable Lord: that is how He will be. To the froward (in this life), He will show Himself froward. Straight away we are met head on with a major challenge: Our attitude to Christ in this life will be our attitude to Him at the judgment seat. John's letters reason down the same line: &ldquo;If (in this life) our heart condemn us not, then have we confidence (now) toward God... this is the confidence that we have in him... abide in him; that, when he shall appear, we may have confidence... before him (at the judgment) at His coming&quot; (1 Jn. 3:21; 5:14; 2:28). The confidence we have towards Christ now will be the confidence we have at judgment day. This fact should pull us up out of the spiritual indifference which characterizes so much of our lives. If we see Christ as an abstract theological necessity, a black box in our brain called 'Christ'; if we don't have a dynamic, two- way relationship with Him now- then this too is how we will regard Him then.&nbsp;</p> <p><em>Did we not prophesy in your name</em>- When we consider the Lord's teaching of Mt. 7:22,23 and 25:42-44 together, He's saying that those rejected at the day of judgment will be so on account of their&nbsp;<em>omissions</em>- hence their surprise, and anger because they knew that they had&nbsp;<em>done</em>&nbsp;good works; they thought that what they had&nbsp;<em>committed</em>&nbsp;was morally acceptable to God, and this would usher them into the Kingdom. But their sins of&nbsp;<em>omission</em>&nbsp;cost them the Kingdom. The mention of prophesying must be seen in the context of the Lord's warning in 7:15 about&nbsp;<em>false</em>&nbsp;prophets. To claim to have spoken / prophesied in His Name (cp. 'in sheep's clothing', appearing as Jesus) implies these people had considered themselves followers of Jesus in this life.&nbsp;</p> <p><span style="font-size: 11pt; line-height: 107%;"><br /> <em>And in your name cast out demons and in your name do many mighty works?</em>- The possession of Holy Spirit gifts which enabled healings and miracles to be performed was no guarantee of final acceptance at the last day. Pentecostal theology needs to take note of this- for the power to do miracles is simply not any guarantee of salvation, as they wrongly suppose. And we who live in an era when the miraculous gifts have been withdrawn can still take a powerful lesson- no matter how dramatically we may be a channel for God's activity in the lives of others, this is irrelevant to our final salvation. The essence of the life in Christ, the life of the Kingdom, is internal spiritual mindedness. The contrast is between 'doing' wonderful works and 'doing' (the same Greek word is used in :21) the will of the Father. The language of 'doing the Father's will' is used about the Lord's life and final death on the cross. To be as Him, to give our deepest life as He did, is not the same as doing external works for others. &nbsp;</span></p> 19414072323<p>7:23 <em>And then will I tell them- </em>The attitude which we have to the Lord Jesus&nbsp;<em>now</em>&nbsp;will be the attitude we have to Him at the day of judgment (Mt. 7:23 cp. Lk. 6:46). The Lord will &quot;profess&quot; to them that He doesn't know them and they must depart from Him; but Strong understands the Greek to mean 'to say the same thing as another, i.e. to agree with, assent'. The Lord will be agreeing with them, that they are worthy of condemnation. They will have condemned themselves, and the Lord will simply confirm this to them in His final verdict. If we are ashamed of Him now, we will be ashamed from before Him then (1 Jn. 2:28), and He will be ashamed of us (Lk. 9:26). Every time we are asked to stand up for Him and His words in the eyes of men, we are as it were living out our future judgment.</p> <p><em>I never knew you-&nbsp;</em>&ldquo;Many&quot; will be rejected at the judgment seat because they don't&nbsp;<em>know</em>&nbsp;the Lord Jesus Christ; they never had a personal relationship with Jesus, even though they have experienced answered prayer, done miracles, worked for their Lord etc. (Mt. 7:22,23; 1 Cor. 13). They will have built a spiritual house, but on sand. It isn't difficult to be a good Christian outwardly. But to&nbsp;<em>know</em>&nbsp;the Lord Jesus? That's another question. The Greek for &quot;never&quot; means literally 'never at any time'. The course of their lives was such that there had never been a time when He 'knew' them. We rather expect Him to say '<em>You</em>&nbsp;never knew&nbsp;<em>Me</em>'. But He says that&nbsp;<em>He</em>&nbsp;never knew&nbsp;<em>them</em>- because the whole idea of 'knowing' Him is mutual. Insofar as we know Him (in a relational sense), He knows us- and vice versa. We really need to ask whether we are praying to Jesus, talking to Him, 'knowing' Him...&nbsp;</p> <p><em>Depart from me-&nbsp;</em>This is alluded to in 2&nbsp;Tim. 2:19: &lsquo;Depart from sin now, or you'll depart from Christ at the judgment&rsquo;. This is Paul's classic way of making plays on words; again an indication of how his writings are partly a product of his own meditation upon and familiarity with the Gospels.&nbsp;</p> <p><em>You that work iniquity</em>- And yet they have just protested all the good they did for others, healing, teaching etc. On one level, good can be done- but the good is a work of iniquity if it is done with an unspiritual heart, and especially in order to gain personal wealth or advantage (see on &quot;ravening wolves&quot;, 7:15). In Old Testament times, God used the nations to do His will, but they were still condemned for their hearts being far from Him. Those who &quot;do iniquity&quot; [s.w.] are gathered out of the Kingdom at the last day (Mt. 13:41)- confirming that these people are within the visible Christian community. And there will be &quot;many&quot; of them (:22)- suggesting the Lord doesn't just have in view a handful of charlatans at the leadership level who claim to do miracles and teach in His Name just for money. This problem of thinking that we are justified before Him just because we are His channel of work is clearly foreseen by the Lord as a major and widespread problem. Mt. 24:12 could imply that this will be a specific latter day problem- for within the believing community, &quot;because iniquity [s.w.] shall abound, the love of many [Gk. 'the majority'] shall become cold&quot;.</p> 19514072424<p>7:24 <em>Everyone therefore that hears these words of mine</em>-&nbsp;<em>Logos</em>&nbsp;suggests more than simply words. The Lord intends us to get to the essential intention of His Spirit. God's word is often styled His 'judgments' in the OT (e.g. Ps. 119:43,160; 147:19). In His word we see His judgments- how He judges and will judge. And in the wealth of Bible history we see examples of how these judgments have been articulated with men in practice. Thus the Lord Jesus concluded the sermon on the mount with a parable of judgment, that of the two builders (Mt. 7:24-27). One heard the Lord's words of the sermon and did them, the other heard but didn't deeply apply them. The message was clear: 'Deeply meditate on what I've just been saying. For this is the basis upon which I will judge men in the last day. You can try to discern for yourselves how seriously and fundamentally you apply my words; and in this you will have a preview of how I will judge you&quot;.</p> <p><em>And does them</em>- An echo of :21, he who&nbsp;<em>does</em>&nbsp;the will of the Father. The parallel is thus made between the will of the Father, and &quot;these sayings of Mine&quot; in the Sermon. Yet in the Lord's own case, the doing of the Father's will meant the death of the cross. This finally was and is the outcome of living in accordance with the Sermon. This is what it leads to. The figure of building a house on a rock conjures up the idea of sweating labour. Do we feel that we are spiritually sweating, in a sense? Is it that hard to understand and therefore do the words of Christ? A number of passages make this connection between labouring&nbsp;and understanding the word. Elders labour in the word (1 Tim. 5:17), as the prophets laboured in writing the word of God (Jn. 4:38); and the true Bible student is a labourer who will not be ashamed of his work at the end (2 Tim. 2:15). And the Lord Jesus spoke of us labouring for the manna of God's words, even harder than we labour for our daily bread, and more earnestly than the crowds ran around the lake of Galilee in the blazing midday sun in order to benefit from Christ's miracles (Jn. 6:27). One could be forgiven for thinking that most of us find hearing the words of Christ easy. But there is an element of difficulty, even unpleasantness for us, in truly understanding Him in practical application. &nbsp;How do we hear and do? We are helped to get the answer by considering how Christ elsewhere appealed to people to &quot;Hear&nbsp;<em>and understand</em>&quot; (Mt. 15:10). Truly understanding is related to action, 'doing'. In the parable, hearing and doing is like the hard work of digging the foundation on a rock. This is how hard it is to truly understand the words of Christ. Remember how the one talent man also dug into the earth (Mt. 25:18). He did some digging, he did some work. But he failed to truly understand. The very physical action of digging deceived him into thinking he had done enough, as the physical action of building deceived the man who built on earth. Of course we are progressing somewhere spiritually, as we live day by day. But our movement can deceive us. &nbsp;</p> <p>James clearly alludes to the appeal to not only hear but do: &ldquo;But be doers of the word, and not only hearers, deluding your own selves&rdquo; (James 1:22). James spells out the problem- we hear the Lord's words and for a moment assent to them- but don't continue to do them in the long term. &quot;The word&quot; is paralleled by James with &quot;the perfect law of freedom&quot;.&nbsp; &ldquo;But he who looks into the perfect law of freedom, and continues, not being a hearer who forgets, but a doer of the work, this man will be blessed in what he does&rdquo; (James 1:25). The term &quot;perfect law of freedom&quot; is hard to interpret, and it seems to be in contrast with how the New Testament elsewhere speaks of the Mosaic law as being a form of bondage, with Christ's teaching as the way to freedom. I would suggest that this &quot;perfect law of freedom&quot; refers to the Sermon on the Mount (see on 7:1), perhaps specifically to the challenge to be perfect (Mt. 5:48); the Sermon, as we showed in commenting on 5:1, was the Lord's equivalent to the Mosaic Law. The Sermon would've been memorized and recited by the vast mass of early Christians who were illiterate. And James is urging them to not merely encounter the words and nod approvingly at them, nor even merely recite them- but continuing in actually doing them. And this of course is the challenge to us too, assailed as we are in our generation by too many words, to the point that we can easily give a passing 'like' to them, and yet live on uninfluenced. &nbsp;</p> <p><br /> <em>Shall be like</em>- As in :27, &quot;shall be likened unto&quot;. The future tenses imply that the truth of the parable of the builders will only be apparent at the day of judgment. The purpose of judgment day is largely for our benefit, and therefore the process will be public- we will learn from the rejection and acceptance of others. Paul alludes to the idea by saying that &quot;the day [of judgment] shall declare&quot; each man's building work (1 Cor. 3:13). And to whom will it be declared? The Lord already knows them that are His. It will be declared to the individual being judged, and to those who are observing. The Lord uses the same word translated 'likened' in speaking of how in this life, the state of the Kingdom in a man's life &quot;<em>is</em>&nbsp;likened&quot;, present tense, right now, to various things (Mt. 13:24; 18:23; 22:2). But in Mt. 25:1 we find another future tense- at the Lord's return, the Kingdom&nbsp;<em>will be likened unto</em>&nbsp;the wise and foolish girls [cp. the wise and foolish builders]. We can perceive the essence of the Lord's future judgment in this life- for the Bible is full of His &quot;judgments&quot; ahead of time. Therefore the nature and outcome of the final judgment need not be a mystery for us, if we perceive the principles of judgment which the Lord teaches in the Sermon and elsewhere. But all the same, that day will be the final and ultimate declaration of those values.<br /> <br /> <em>A wise man who built his house upon the rock-</em>&nbsp;This is exactly what the Lord Himself is doing (Mt. 16:18; 26:61). There is a mutuality between the Lord and us. We build upon a rock, and He builds us upon a rock. We ourselves build, and yet we are &quot;built up a spiritual house&quot; by God (1 Pet. 2:5; note how Peter goes right on to speak of the Jews as foolish builders in 1 Pet. 2:7; he surely had the Lord's parable of the two types of builder in mind). Both men&nbsp;<em>built</em>&nbsp;in that both men&nbsp;<em>heard</em>&nbsp;the Lord's sayings. We are all making progress on our spiritual journey, for good or bad. There's no way to just take a break from the journey. We are building, hearing the Lord's will- but the question is, where is our foundation. The fundamental core, the dominant desire, of the Lord's people is Him. For the rock is clearly a symbol of the Lord Jesus (&quot;that rock was Christ&quot;, 1 Cor. 10:4; 1 Pet. 2:8 s.w.). On one hand, the Lord teaches that obedience to His sayings in practice is building upon a rock. And yet the rock is Him. He was the word made flesh, the perfect fulfilment and example of obedience to His sayings. To follow the Sermon fully means becoming as Him. And yet the judgment of the last day will not be a simple test of legalistic obedience. It will be a revelation of where our core foundation, our dominant desire, really is. Many people living in this postmodern, passionless world will have to think long and hard before answering the question: 'What is your dominant desire?'. Short term things such as getting a qualification, a career, a particular level or form of wealth, buying a particular house, marrying a particular person, some specific success for our children... all these things fade from dominance in the course of a person's life. Many people simply don't have a dominant desire. The difference with true believers is that we do- and it is 'Christ', Him as a person, the things of His eternal Kingdom. This perhaps more than anything else is the simple difference between the true believer and all other people. This is why there is a simple test as to whether a person is a genuine Christian or not- and it's 'fruit', as the Lord has just previously explained. The difference is clear. The dominant desire of a true Christian is manifest and cannot be hid.&nbsp;</p> <p>Comparing with the parallel Lk. 6:48 it seems that both men built on the same kind of ground- it was rock overlaid with sand. The difference was that the wise man dug through the sand to the rock, whereas the fool built only on the sand. To really get down to the rock of Christ is hard and long work. It is achieved through the process of 'doing' what He teaches. And the story is true to life- for so many of us in our spiritual biography can relate how we passed through years of being 'Christian' or religious without having any personal relationship with Jesus, not praying nor talking to Him, not sensing Him at all as a living Lord. The story suggests that there will be some, perhaps &quot;many&quot;, who build a spiritual edifice of grand appearance which has no personal root in a relationship with Jesus- indeed, some actually preach against this because of their obsession with upholding theologies about the supremacy of God the Father. But getting through the sand, through the dirt and dust of our own humanity, to truly knowing Christ- this is what alone will come through judgment day.<br /> <br /> Paul uses the metaphor of building about the work of converting and building up others in Christ (Rom. 15:20; 1 Cor. 10:23; Gal. 2:18), knowing that the day of judgment shall declare the quality of our work (1 Cor. 3:13). But even if that building work does not pass through the fire of judgment, we shall personally be saved (1 Cor. 3:15). But our personal house must stand firm throughout the judgment process. Note there is a continuity between the house before and after the storm of judgment day- it &quot;fell not&quot;. Who we essentially are in spiritual terms is who we shall eternally be; our spirit shall be saved at that day (1 Cor. 5:5), our essential spiritual person will be preserved. The experience of the day of judgment will not make us somehow flip over another side and relationship with the Lord, previously unknown to us. Those who say &quot;Lord, Lord&quot; in this life without meaning will use the same empty terms in that day (Mt. 7:21,22).</p> <p>To get down to the rock, the man who truly heard Christ had to dig through the earth which the foolish man also dug into. Hearing Christ's words is likened to digging into that earth. Doing and understanding them is likened to then digging into the bed- rock. The foolish man did allow the word to go into him- skin deep. We need to ask ourselves how often these days the word really goes right through our skin, and forces us to hack into the bed- rock. Are we truly building our house on a rock? The force of Mk. 16:16, for example, went more than skin deep just before our baptism. We read it, thought about it, and did it. But now. Are we old and brave, thick skinned, hardened by the humdrum of repetition, no longer building a house on a rock? My sense is that many of us are. Let's be aware that Heb. 6:1,2 defines &quot;the foundation&quot; as &quot;repentance&quot;, and an awareness of the reality of the resurrection and coming judgment. In some ways, the longer we are in Christ, the more likely it is that we will not reach down to the bedrock of these things as we ought to. I mean, how often these days do we really repent of something? How often does the reality of the judgment seat truly come home to us? The poetry of the Bible's language, especially if we read the same version, makes God's word glide over us. Exhortations, even the recollection of Golgotha's tragic scene, the final, friendless end... can all slip so easily over our heads. We rest on the laurels of past spiritual victories. Nothing really shakes us up, reaching right down to the bedrock. Surely each of us should be sensing a surge of spiritual urgency when we look at ourselves like this. Yet God will help us; it is He Himself who will &quot;settle&quot; us, or 'make a foundation for' us, as the Greek can mean (1 Pet. 5:10).&nbsp;The rock which our response to the word must reach down to is that of the crucified Christ. That rock represents Christ and Him crucified, according to Paul (1 Cor. 10:4 and 3:11 cp. 2:2). The Lord's parable of building on the rock was surely quarried from His understanding of Is. 28:16,17: &ldquo;I lay in Zion for a foundation a stone... a precious cornerstone. The hail shall sweep away the refuge of lies, and the waters shall overflow the hiding place&quot;. Truly doing God's word will always lead us back to the spirit of the suffering Christ on Calvary. If it does not, our building, our apparent development within the much-vaunted Biblicism of our faith, is just a &quot;refuge of lies&quot;. All our spiritual effort and suffering finds its ultimate summation in Christ's crucifixion. His suffering there is the quintessence of all spiritual struggle.&nbsp; It is quite possible that as we break bread weekly, we are merely digging a little deeper than usual in the earth, yet still not reaching down to the real meaning of building on the example of Christ's death. The wise man's house was &quot;founded upon a rock&quot;. The same Greek word occurs in Col. 2:7, describing how we are &quot;rooted and built up in him&quot;. The parallel Eph. 3:17 expands this to mean that if Christ dwells in our hearts, we are &quot;rooted and grounded in love... able to comprehend... and to know the love of Christ&quot;, which was supremely shown in His death. Col. 1:23 associates this being &quot;grounded and settled&quot; with not being &quot;moved away from the hope of the Gospel, which ye have heard&quot;. If the word really sinks down deep within us, it will reveal to us the love of Christ on the cross, it will result in true love, and all this will be the outworking of the basic doctrines of the Truth which we understood at baptism. Thus the hacking away at the rock is not only hard, grim work against human nature. It reveals the wondrous love of Christ. The implication is that we can only really understand this love, that passes human knowledge, if we are really sweating away to obey Christ's words, to build our house on a rock.</p> 19614072525<p>7:25&nbsp;<em>And the rain descended and the floods came-&nbsp;</em>The allusion is clearly to Noah's flood; although the Greek for 'flood' here usually refers to a river. Only those within the ark of Christ were saved. To do he will of God, to hear and do the Lord's teaching, to be in the ark of Christ, to be founded upon the rock of Christ as our dominant desire- these are all different ways of saying the same thing. Our core root, our foundation, our dominant desire, our main self-perception and self-understanding, must be of being and living in Christ. This is the fundamental divide between persons, not their statement of faith, their spiritual culture. It comes down to whether they have a heart for the Lord Jesus and His Kingdom. And we cannot judge those &quot;secrets of men&quot; in this life, but we can at least be sure never to reject anyone who professes to have such a heart for the Lord. Paul uses the same word for &quot;descended&quot; to describe how Christ shall descend from Heaven at His return (1 Thess. 4:16); likewise the word for &quot;came&quot; is used about the coming of Christ (Mt. 24:30,39 parallel the coming of Noah's flood with the coming of Christ). The coming of Christ will be judgment; our meeting with Him will be the coming of the rain etc. Even the house founded upon the rock took a fair beating- the purpose of judgment day is to reveal to the builder (and other observers) how he built.&nbsp;</p> <p>The flood which came was like the day of judgment. This fits in exactly with the way Christ used the figure of the flood to describe His second coming in Mt. 24. Peter does the same in 2 Pet. 3. The beating of the stream upon the house on a rock (v.49) is a truly apposite figure for the day of judgment. It certainly implies a process of judgment, in which the unworthy will experience a gradual collapse of their spirituality. For the man with the firm foundation, the flood of the parable would have been a worrying experience. Would the house stand up to it? In many of the parables, we can profitably speculate as to likely details of the story. The wise man would have remembered his hard work on the foundation, not with any sense of pride or self- gratitude. But he would nevertheless have been aware of it. Our real spiritual effort will be so valuable in that day. Only then will we realize the extent of the fact that there can be no short cut to true spiritual development. A man cannot be crowned, unless he strive lawfully.&nbsp; The Lord's parable was no doubt partly based on Is. 28:17, which speaks of the day of judgment being like hail which &quot;shall sweep away the refuge of lies, and waters (which) shall overflow&quot;. The spiritual house of the foolish builder was a lie, effectively; an appearance of real development which deceived men. For externally, men cannot know anything about the different foundations of houses built side by side. We are left to imagine the details of the parable. The foolish man would have run outside and watched his house being beaten down and washed away. He would have thought of trying to do something to stop the destruction, but then given up, realizing it was too late. The foolish girls saw that &quot;our oil&nbsp;<em>is</em>&nbsp;running out&quot; (Gk.). The unworthy will have that terrible sense of their opportunity and spirituality ebbing away from them. The impression is given in the parable that the two houses were next door to each other; again confirming our feeling that this parable is about different attitudes to the word within the ecclesia.&nbsp;<br /> <br /> &quot;Came&quot; is the same word in the model prayer- we pray for God's Kingdom to &quot;come&quot; (Mt. 6:10), but again we find it hard to pray that prayer if we understand it. We are praying for the storm of judgment to come and beat upon our house.&nbsp;<br /> <br /> <em>And the winds blew</em>- The disciples surely recalled the Lord's teaching when they were on the sea of Galilee with winds blowing so strongly that they were going to drown (s.w. Mt. 8:26; 14:24; Jn. 6:18 s.w. 'blow'). Those incidents they would've understood as a foretaste of judgment and condemnation- out of which they were saved only by the presence and grace of the Lord Jesus. Perhaps the winds refer here to the Angels who will play a major part in our judgment process; for God makes His Angels winds (Ps. 104:4).<br /> <br /> <em>And beat upon that house-&nbsp;</em>The Greek for 'to beat upon' is used seven other times in the NT- and always about falling down at the feet of the Lord Jesus. We either do that in our desperation today, or His judgment shall fall upon us in the last day. There is good reason to think that our meeting of the Lord will not be just to receive a yes/no decision. The picture of the storm beating on the house to see if it collapses implies a purpose and process of the judgment (Mt. 7:27). If it were only a yes / no decision, the language of tribunal, judgment and appeal which occurs in passages concerning the judgment seat would appear to be out of place. Both sheep and goats register their surprise at their Lord's comments on various specific actions of theirs which he discusses with them- &quot;When saw we thee...?&quot; (Mt. 25:44).</p> <p><em>And it did not collapse</em>- The same house stood before and after judgment. See on 7:24 &quot;his house&quot;. The same word is used of how we desperate sinners in this life fall down before Jesus in confession that we have sinned and we dearly wish to do something about that debt (Mt. 16:26). We either do that, or we shall fall down in condemnation at the last day, with the same realization (Mt. 18:26). Every knee shall bow to Him in this manner- either in this life, or in condemnation before Him. This is what flesh must come to; and we must realize that now. We must fall down and be broken upon the rock of Christ now, or that rock will fall upon us and grind us to powder with the rest of the kingdoms of men (Mt. 21:41). Ananias and Saphira fell to the earth at their condemnation, whereas Saul fell to the earth in repentance (Acts 5:5,10; 9:4 s.w.). At the last day, we shall fall to the earth but be lifted up and made to stand (Rom. 14:4).&nbsp;<br /> <br /> <em>For it was founded upon the rock</em>- Surely alluded to by Paul when he teaches that we must be grounded / have a foundation in love (Eph. 3:17), in the Gospel of the Kingdom (Col. 1:23). And God Himself has the ability to &quot;settle&quot; or ground / foundation us (1 Pet. 5:10 s.w.)- if we so wish to have the things of the Lord Jesus, His love and His Kingdom, as the dominant, master passion of our lives, then God will confirm us in that.</p> 19714072626<p><span style="font-size: 11pt;">7:26</span><em style="font-size: 11pt;">&nbsp;And everyone that hears these words of mine and does not obey them, shall be like a foolish man who built his house upon the sand</em><span style="font-size: 11pt;">- The Jews who rejected the Lord Jesus are described as builders in Mk. 12:10; Lk. 11:48- and to unwise builders in Lk. 14:28.&nbsp;</span></p> 19814072727<p>7:27&nbsp;<em>And the rain descended and the floods came and the winds blew and slammed against that house; and it collapse-</em>&nbsp;The Lord spoke of the rejected at the judgment as being like a house against which &quot;the floods came, and the winds blew, and smote upon that house; and it fell&quot;. Floods (of the ungodly), winds (whirlwinds), smiting, a falling house- this is all language taken from Job's experiences. He went through all this&nbsp;<em>now</em>, just as each righteous man must come to condemn himself in self-examination&nbsp;<em>now</em>&nbsp;so that he won't be condemned then. Flesh must be condemned, each man must come to know his own desperation. And if he won't do this, the judgment process at the last day will teach it him.</p> <p><em>And great was its collapse</em>- A common figure for condemnation (Mt. 15:14; Acts 5:5; Rom. 11:11,22; 14:4; 1 Cor. 10:8,12; Heb. 4:11; James 5:12). Condemnation will be tragic- &quot;great&quot;. Not only for those individuals, but for the Father and Son and all of us who view it. These are the final words of the Sermon. The Lord ends on the note of the possibility of condemnation, despite His many positive, upbeat and encouraging words about the certainty of salvation. The tragedy of the future we might miss is simply so great that the Lord felt He had to say this. It isn't mere negative psychology. The eternal reality of the issues before us are such that we can do nothing else but let the Lord's concern and earnestness ring in our ears.</p> <p>The parable of the builders is fundamentally about our attitude to the Lord. There is good reason to think it mainly concerns the attitude of the responsible; in Luke, these words of Jesus (Lk. 6:47) are set against the background of Lk. 6:27: &quot;I say unto you which hear&quot;. The rest of the chapter seems to be addressed primarily to the disciples- e.g. Lk. 6:41,42 speak of them beholding the mote in their brother's eye; warning surely more relevant to believing disciples than to the world generally. The parable of the builders likewise refers to those within the ecclesia, who know Christ as their Lord: &quot;Lord, Lord&quot;, they say. Among this class of people there would be &quot;many&quot; (Mt. 7:21- 23) who would hear Christ's sayings, but not do them. I'm obviously labouring this point, that the builders in the parable are those within the ecclesia, or at best the responsible. This is because the parallel record in Mt. 7 is rather unpleasant to apply to the ecclesia; it says that &quot;many&quot; of us will be in the category who say &quot;Lord, Lord&quot;, and whose house will be destroyed. The Greek for &ldquo;many&quot; can imply 'the majority'. Even the majority of those who hear Christ's words simply don't do them. Now that's an uncomfortable statistic for us who sit before the bread and wine each week, seeking to hear Christ's words and do them. This parable was spoken in the context of crowds of the ecclesia of Israel coming to Christ, hearing His words, and doing sweet nothing about it. Such an attitude is not building a house on a rock.</p> 19914072828<p><span style="font-size: 11pt;">7:28&nbsp;</span><em style="font-size: 11pt;">And it came to pass, when Jesus had finished these words that the crowds</em><span style="font-size: 11pt;">- Although the Lord started teaching only His disciples, leaving the multitude at the bottom of the mountain (Mt. 5:1), clearly many of them came up to hear Him over the course of His discourse- for in Mt. 8:1 we learn that the multitudes returned from up the mountain.</span></p> <p><em>Were astonished at his teaching</em>- The sense of reality commented upon in :27 left the people with utter astonishment. Never before nor since have the eternal issues of existence been stated so clearly and compellingly.&nbsp;</p> 20014072929<p>7:29&nbsp;<em>For he taught them as one having authority and not as their scribes-</em>&nbsp;It was exactly because the Lord Jesus had the power to give or take eternity that He had this authority which the people sensed.&nbsp;</p> 201140811<p><span style="font-size: 12pt;">8:1 See on 7:28.</span></p> <p><i>And when he had come down from the mountain, great crowds followed him- </i>The word for &quot;crowds&quot; is used 48 times in Matthew alone. The verbal picture is powerful- the Lord Jesus at the head of a multitude, with them, followed by them, and yet so alone...</p> <p></p> 202140822<p><span style="font-size: 12pt;">8:2&nbsp;</span><i style="font-size: 12pt;">And a leper came to him and knelt before him, saying-&nbsp;</i><span style="font-size: 12pt;">The Greek literally means to bow or crouch. Perhaps it is being used here in that literal sense, inviting us then to imagine the Lord extending His hand to the kneeling man (8:3). Or the idea could be that the man's worship was not in any external display of respect, but in the fact he believed in the Lord's ability and power to respond to his request. In this case, the man worshipped Jesus&nbsp;</span><i style="font-size: 12pt;">in saying</i><span style="font-size: 12pt;">&nbsp;&quot;If You will, You can...&quot;.</span></p> <p>Lord, if You desire, You can<span style="font-size: 12pt;">- The Lord replied that this was indeed His will (8:3). This coincidence of human will with that of our Lord is what fellowship with Him and answered prayer is all about. The phrase &quot;If You will, You can...&quot; is recorded identically in all three of the synoptics (Mk. 1:40; Lk. 5:12), as if they all wished to draw attention to the man's attitude and make an example of it- accepting that the Lord has all power (&quot;can&quot; =&nbsp;<i>dunamai</i>), but that our will is not always His.</span></p> <p>Make me clean<span style="font-size: 12pt;">- The leper didn't ask so much for healing as for cleansing. He wanted the healing&nbsp;<i>so that</i>&nbsp;he could be accepted into the community of believers in the temple. Our requests for health and healing should likewise be motivated by a desire to use the healed situation in the Lord's service. Faith is inculcated by an appreciation of the height of Christ&rsquo;s exaltation. He now has all power in Heaven and in earth, and this in itself should inspire us with faith in prayer and hope in His coming salvation. On the basis of passages like Ex. 4:7; Num. 12:10-15; 2 Kings 5:7,8, &ldquo;leprosy was regarded as a &ldquo;stroke&quot; only to be removed by the Divine hand which had imposed it&quot; (L.G. Sargent,<i>&nbsp;The Gospel Of The Son Of God</i>, p. 28). The leper lived with this understanding, and yet he saw in Jesus nothing less than God manifest. Inspired by the height of the position which he gave Jesus in his heart, he could ask him in faith for a cure: &ldquo;If thou wilt,&nbsp;<i>thou canst</i>&nbsp;[as only God was understood to be able to] make me clean&quot;.</span></p> 203140833<p>8:3&nbsp;<i style="font-size: 12pt;">And he stretched out his hand and touched him, saying</i><span style="font-size: 12pt;">- The Lord is described a staggering 28 times in the synoptics as touching people. This was a studied rejection of the false teaching of 'guilt by association' or 'contamination by contact'. More than that, the Lord was at such lengths to identify Himself with suffering people.</span></p> <p><i>I do desire. Be made clean!</i><span style="font-size: 12pt;">- In Mt. 10:8 the Lord told the disciples to likewise &quot;cleanse the lepers&quot;. Again the Lord is giving the disciples the work of the priests to do. For it was their job to pronounce lepers cleansed. But He is asking them to do what He Himself had done in Mt. 8:3. His work was to be theirs. The later NT references to&nbsp;<i>our</i>&nbsp;being cleansed by the Lord Jesus (Eph. 5:26; Tit. 2:14; 1 Jn. 1:7,9 etc.) perhaps look back to how the historical Jesus cleansed lepers in Galilee. We are to see ourselves in that isolated and rejected man.</span></p> <p><i>And immediately his leprosy was cleansed</i>- The Greek literally means 'scales' and the same word is used of scales falling from Saul's eyes in Acts 9:18. It could've been any skin disease rather than Hansen's disease.</p> 204140844<p><span style="font-size: 12pt;">8:4&nbsp;And</span><i style="font-size: 12pt;"> Jesus said to him: See you tell no one, but go show yourself to the priests and offer the gift that Moses commanded, for a testimony to them-&nbsp;</i><span style="font-size: 12pt;">The Lord had told the cured leper to tell no other man but go and offer for his cleansing, in order to make a witness to the priests. All three synoptics record this, as if it made a special impression on everyone (Mt. 8:4; Mk. 1:44; Lk. 5:14). It could be that the Lord is using an idiom when He told the leper to tell nobody: &lsquo;Go and make a witness&nbsp;</span><i style="font-size: 12pt;">first and foremost</i><span style="font-size: 12pt;">&nbsp;to the priests as opposed to anybody else&rsquo;. Such was His zeal for their salvation. And the fact that &ldquo;a great company of the priests were obedient to the faith&rdquo; (Acts 6:7) shows how this apparently hope-against-hope desire of the Lord for the conversion of His enemies somehow came true. We noted on 8:3 that the work of the priests was to cleanse the leper- but this had been done by the Lord. The man was therefore to show himself to the priests- in order to demonstrate to them that another priest and priesthood was already coming into operation.</span></p> 205140855<p><span style="font-size: 12pt;">8:5&nbsp;</span><i style="font-size: 12pt;">And when he was entering into Capernaum, there came to him a centurion, begging him</i><span style="font-size: 12pt;">- &quot;There came&quot; is a poor translation. The Greek word is related to that translated 'worship' in 8:2. The parallel is thus drawn between the socially isolated and poverty stricken leper, and the wealthy, respected Centurion. The point is that they both were experiencing the same utter desperation which led them to cast themselves upon the Lord. Social differences are therefore eliminated within the community gathered around Christ- on the basis of our common recognition of our desperation and His unique and sole ability to help and save.</span></p> 206140866<p><span style="font-size: 12pt;">8:6&nbsp;</span><i style="font-size: 12pt;">Saying: Lord, my servant</i><span style="font-size: 12pt;">- Masters were well known for disregarding the welfare of their slaves, so in the centurion's passionate concern for his slave we have an insight into the nature of this delightful man.</span></p> <p><i>Lies in the house paralysed</i>- The same words recur in 8:14, where Peter's mother also lies at home sick, and the Lord heals her. The centurion's servant and Peter's mother are thus being paralleled- just as in 8:5 the wealthy Centurion and the poor leper are paralleled. The point is being made that many people from very different lives and circumstances had one thing in common- desperate need for healing and salvation at the hands of the Lord.</p> <p><i>Grievously tormented</i>- The same word for 'grievously' is used about the disciples' fear during the storm on the lake (Mt.8:26); the Lord was seeking to educate the twelve by showing them His ability to cure a person in a 'grievous' situation, and then the next day (or later that same day?) giving them the opportunity to themselves be in a 'grievous' situation from which likewise just His word was sufficient to save them. But they failed to see the similarity. And so a bit later, He have them another opportunity to learn from this situation. The servant was &quot;tormented&quot;, and the very same Greek word is used about how the disciples &quot;toiled&quot; or were tormented in trying to row their boat in another storm (Mk. 6:48); in Mt. 14:24 we read that their ship was &quot;tossed&quot;, or tormented [same word again]. And again, they failed to learn the lesson- that a word from the Lord was sufficient to save them out of 'grievous torment', just as it had done for the centurion's servant. In our struggle to attach meaning to event, we are to likewise perceive how the Lord demonstrates His power in another's life- and then brings us into a situation which in essence is similar, so that we might ourselves experience His power to meet&nbsp;<i>our</i>&nbsp;human need. And whether we 'get it' or not, He tends to repeat the lessons, as He did with the disciples.</p> 207140877<p><span style="font-size: 12pt;">8:7&nbsp;</span><i style="font-size: 12pt;">And he said to him: I will come and heal him</i><span style="font-size: 12pt;">- See on 8:9&nbsp;</span><i style="font-size: 12pt;">Come and he comes.</i></p> 208140888<p>8:8&nbsp;<i>And the centurion answered and said: Lord, I am not worthy that you should come under my roof</i>- He was aware that Jews were not supposed to &lsquo;come to' or under the roof of a Gentile (Acts 10:28). He was therefore aware that the purpose of God at that time was for Jews rather than Gentiles- his understanding was quite deep. See on 8:9. But the Lord was quite willing to go under the roof a Gentile; that is the significance of the Lord's response that He would come to the sick servant.</p> <p><i>But only say the word and my servant shall be healed</i><span style="font-size: 12pt;">- He had a deep belief in the power of the Lord's word, and may well be alluding to the unique Hebrew conception of the creation of all things being through the medium of a word spoken. One of Paul's many allusions to the Gospels is in 1 Thess. 1:5, where he observes that the Thessalonians had not heard &quot;the word only&quot; but had had it confirmed by signs and miracles. He seems to be reminding them of the centurion, who believed &quot;the word only&quot;&nbsp;<i>before</i>&nbsp;he experienced the healing miracle.</span></p> 209140899<p><span style="font-size: 12pt;">8:9&nbsp;</span><i style="font-size: 12pt;">For I also am a man under authority</i><span style="font-size: 12pt;">- The centurion had perceived exactly who the Lord Jesus was- a man, who was under (Divine) authority and yet had others beneath&nbsp;</span><i style="font-size: 12pt;">his</i><span style="font-size: 12pt;">&nbsp;authority. And he understand the Lord Jesus as his representative, very similar to him, but with far more power. Admittedly he seems to have misunderstood the issue of demons- he understood that the Lord could say 'go' to whatever mighty ones [cp. his soldiers] were making his servant sick. Whatever his beliefs about sickness and its cause, he believed the Lord Jesus was far more powerful than whatever was causing it. But the Lord all the same commended the man for his&nbsp;</span><i style="font-size: 12pt;">faith</i><span style="font-size: 12pt;">&nbsp;even if the precise content of that faith was misinformed, and if his way of life as a Roman centurion was not the best way of being a Jesus follower; not to mention that he was a Gentile. This opens a helpful window onto how the Lord feels about those who strongly believe in Him but have their understanding of some details awry.&nbsp;</span></p> <p><i>Come and he comes</i>- The same word just used by the Lord in saying that in response to the centurion's request: &quot;I will come&quot; (8:8). Perhaps the centurion is marvelling at the grace of the fact that he had asked the Son of God to come, and He had come in response...</p> <p><i>Having under myself soldiers and I say to one: Go! And he goes. And to another: Come! And he comes. And to my servant: Do this! And he does it-</i>&nbsp;The centurion seems to have believed in demon possession. He understood that his servant was &ldquo;grievously tormented&rdquo; by them. He believed that the Lord could cure him, in the same way as he could say to his underlings &ldquo;go, and he goeth&rdquo; (Mt. 8:6-10). And so, he implied, couldn&rsquo;t Jesus just say to the demons &lsquo;Go!&rsquo;, and they would go, as with the &lsquo;demons&rsquo; in the madman near Gadara? The Lord didn&rsquo;t wheel round and read him a lecture about &lsquo;demons don&rsquo;t exist&rsquo; (although they don&rsquo;t, of course, and it&rsquo;s important to understand that they don&rsquo;t). He understood that this man had faith that He, as the Son of God, had power over these &lsquo;demons&rsquo;, and therefore &ldquo;he marvelled, and said&hellip; Verily&hellip; I have not found so great faith, no, not in Israel&rdquo;. He focused on what faith and understanding the man had. With the height of His spirituality, with all the reason He had to be disappointed in people, the Lord marvelled at a man&rsquo;s faith. It is an essay in how He seized on what genuine faith He found, and worked to develop it, even if there was an element of false understanding in it.</p> 21014081010<p>8:10&nbsp;<i>When Jesus heard this, he was astonished and said to those following him</i>- He admired him [Gk.]. Here we see the humility of the Lord Jesus, that despite His own peerless perfection, He could admire the faith of a man who as a centurion was yet far from His own level of spirituality. Despite His peerless faith, the Lord Jesus marvelled at the extent of other's faith; the Gospels stress how sensitive He was to the faith of others (Mt. 9:2,22,29; 15:28; Mk. 5:34; 10:52; Lk. 7:9,50; 8:48; 17:19; 18:42). Yet measured by His standards, they probably hardly knew what faith was. &ldquo;No, not in Israel&quot; suggests the Lord thought that Israel&rsquo;s faith was something&nbsp;<i style="font-size: 12pt;">very</i><span style="font-size: 12pt;">&nbsp;high; when their rejection of Him was the cruellest tragedy in their history. The Lord marvelled at the man's faith, and also at the extent of unbelief in others (s.w. Mk. 6:6). Given the Lord's tiredness, mental and physical exhaustion, demanding program, extreme loneliness etc., the fact He had the emotional energy to marvel is an essay in His extreme sensitivity, and how He let neither His spiritual mission nor His external circumstances stop Him from having such sensitivity regarding the spiritual state of others. In this we see a deep challenge to ourselves.</span></p> <p>There must have been certain similarities of personality type between the Lord and His mother. Thus in Lk. 2:33 Mary &ldquo;marvelled&rdquo;, and the same word is used about Jesus in Mt. 8:10 and Mk. 6:6.</p> <p><i>Truly I say to you, I have not found anyone in Israel</i>- The Lord was and is actively searching for faith in people. He is the man looking to find a great treasure (Mt. 13:44), seeking to find a pearl of great price (Mt. 13:46), finding a lost sheep or coin (Mt. 18:13; Lk. 15:4-9), finding weak and rejected workers to work for Him in His work (Mt. 20:6), wanting to find spiritual fruit on the fig tree (Mt. 21:19), finding willing guests for His own wedding (Mt. 22:10)- any who believe in Him. As He meets so many disappointments, imagine His joy at finding&nbsp;<i>our</i>&nbsp;faith, incomplete and at times misplaced as it is. Surely in all this work of seeking and finding just a few He was living out His own command to seek, because we will find (Lk. 11:10). He seems to allude to the idea in telling the disciples to fish on the right side of their boat, and they would find (Jn. 21:6). The incident is replete with symbolism- the message surely is that we will find converts for the Lord, if we seek for them as the Lord did. We in our turn are searching to find the Lord (Acts 17:27); and He is seeking to find us. Hence the flash moment when the searching God and His Son meet searching man in conversion to Christ. Ultimately we are 'found' at the Lord's return (Phil. 3:9; 2 Tim. 1:18; 1 Pet. 1:7; 2 Pet. 3:14), but we are also 'found' by Him at the point of first faith in this life.<br /> <br /> <i>With such great faith</i>- But as demonstrated in the comment on 8:9, this man had profound&nbsp;<i>understanding</i>. Faith must have content, it is belief&nbsp;<i>in</i>&nbsp;something, and in this sense faith and understanding are connected.</p> 21114081111<p>8:11&nbsp;<i>And I say to you, that many shall come from the east and the west and shall sit down with Abraham and Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven</i>- Gk. &lsquo;to recline&rsquo;. The reference is to the Messianic banquet, where Gentile Christians will sit with Abraham and the Jewish fathers- because they have become the children of Abraham by faith and baptism into Christ (Gal. 3:27-29). Lk. 12:37 comments that the Lord will have to&nbsp;<i>make</i>&nbsp;the faithful sit down at that banquet- so strong will be our abiding sense that &lsquo;I am not worthy of this&rsquo;. We note too the literal, personal nature of our existence in the Kingdom age.</p> 21214081212<p>8:12&nbsp;<i>But the sons of the kingdom shall be</i>- The similar passage in Lk. 13:28 identifies this class as &ldquo;you yourselves&rdquo;, the Jews of the first century in whose streets the Lord had taught (Lk. 13:26). They were therefore still in some sense God&rsquo;s Kingdom, even though the political form of that Kingdom had been overthrown in Zedekiah&rsquo;s time (Ez. 21:25-27). Likewise those who are under the dominion of the King are in a sense His Kingdom right now, even though the Kingdom is not yet restored in its visible, literal, political sense.</p> <p><i>Cast out into the outer darkness-</i>&nbsp;The metaphor continues from the idea of reclining at banquet in 8:11. Some would be cast out from that happy, well lit room- into the darkness outside. The idea of entering a banquet and then being cast out of it is repeated in the parable of the man without a wedding garment, who enters the banquet but is then likewise cast out into &ldquo;outer darkness&rdquo; (Mt. 22:12,13). That man therefore becomes symbolic of the Jews who trusted in their fleshly descent from Abraham as a guarantee of salvation and eternal fellowship with him. &lsquo;Cast into outer darkness&rsquo; to experience weeping and gnashing of teeth is paralleled in Mt. 13:42 by &ldquo;Cast them into a furnace of fire; there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth&rdquo;. The &ldquo;furnace of fire&rdquo; and the &ldquo;outer darkness&rdquo; are both therefore figurative. The language speaks of intense aloneness (in the darkness) and searing mental pain. The spectre and possibility of rejection at the last day is brought frequently before us in the Scriptures, especially in the teaching of the Lord Jesus. It is an element, a dimension of life, that we need to bear in mind. On the one hand, the Lord seems eager to save anyone who believes, such is His grace; on the other pole there is this kind of language about condemnation. I submit that this is an intended, irreconcilable paradox which we are left with, purposefully, and for our good. I doubt that the paradox can be resolved, at least not by any intellectual, expositional process.</p> <p><i>There shall be the weeping</i>- Either we will mourn now in repentance (Lk. 6:25; the Greek for &quot;mourn&quot; is often in a repentance context), or we will mourn at the judgment (Mt. 8:12 etc.). Having foretold the inevitable coming of judgment day, Yahweh Himself pleads with Israel: &quot;Therefore also&nbsp;<i>now</i>... turn ye even to me... with weeping, and with mourning&quot; (Joel 2:12).</p> <p><i>And the gnashing of teeth</i>- Weeping and gnashing of teeth is emphasized in Matthew (Mt. 13:42,50; 22:13; 24:51; 25:30). Luke mentions it once (Lk. 13:28), Mark and John never. It was clearly a dimension to the Lord&rsquo;s teaching which struck Matthew deeply, and he used it often in his teaching of the Gospel, of which &lsquo;the Gospel according to Matthew&rsquo; is a transcript. Gnashing of teeth suggests anger, and Lk. 13:28 says it is triggered by seeing Gentiles in God&rsquo;s Kingdom and Jewish people from the time of Jesus rejected. So it is partly anger with self, but also the raging anger which comes from jealousy. We need to meditate upon the way in which actual human beings who met Jesus in the flesh are for sure going to reappear at the day of judgment. On their deathbeds or later in life they may&rsquo;ve idly reflected &lsquo;Ah yes, there was that Jesus guy I met once, the one they killed, and then a cult started based around Him afterwards&rsquo;. Such people will reappear at judgment day, and their same basic personality will continue. As they were furious at the Lord&rsquo;s claim that Gentiles would be in God&rsquo;s Kingdom, so they will be in a blind rage about it still at judgment day. The only other time the Greek for &lsquo;gnashing&rsquo; is used in the New Testament is in Acts 7:54, where again the Jewish conscience was pricked, leading them to gnash upon Stephen. How they were then in the first century is how they will be at the last day. The gnashing of teeth is clearly connected with the anger which comes from jealousy at others&rsquo; acceptance. One cannot help think of the very many professing believers who have huge anger at the thought of an open table, or of someone they consider to be &lsquo;outside&rsquo; of their small circle breaking bread at the Lord&rsquo;s table. Those same basic structures and constructs of thinking, that same essential personality, will reappear at judgment day. The awesomeness of having been resurrected and actually meeting Jesus in person will not change our basic personalities. Our spirit, in that sense, is preserved. The time for change of attitudes and transformation of character is now.&nbsp; In the OT, gnashing of teeth always means to hate somebody, often the righteous (Job 16:9; Ps. 35:16; 37:12; 112:10; Lam. 2:16). Could it not be that the rejected hate their Lord and His people, who will be watching the judgment in some form, and therefore go and join the ranks of the embittered armies that come against Him? Or is their extreme hatred against themselves? Ps. 112:10 speaks of the wicked gnashing with their teeth and melting away, suggesting that the slinking away process goes on even in the outer darkness; they wander, but in their aimless wandering they slowly slink yet further away from their Lord- the one who once fain would have carried them on His shoulders, gathered them under His wings. It's a terrible picture. Cain, in typifying all the rejected, felt that his condemnation was something greater than he could bear (Gen. 4:13).</p> 21314081313<p>8:13&nbsp;<i>And Jesus said to the centurion: Go your way</i>- The Lord several times uses this word (literally, &lsquo;depart&rsquo;) to a person after having healed them or having had a saving encounter with them. He used it to the healed leper in Mt. 8:4, and again in Mt. 9:6 (the paralyzed man); Mk. 5:19 (Legion); Mk. 5:34 (the woman with an issue of blood); Mk. 7:29 (the Syrian woman); Mk. 10:21 (the rich young man); Mk. 10:52 (the blind man); Lk. 17:14 (the lepers); the Samaritan woman (Jn. 4:16); the blind man at Siloam (Jn. 9:7); the resurrected Lazarus (Jn. 11:44). This is a significant theme, therefore, in the Lord&rsquo;s dealings with people. It suggests a commission, a sending forth on His work- the same word is found in the commission to &ldquo;Go into the vineyard&rdquo; to work (Mt. 20:4,7; 21:28), &lsquo;going&rsquo; to bring forth fruit (Jn. 15:16) and finally in &lsquo;going&rsquo; to the world to tell them of the Lord&rsquo;s resurrection (Mk. 16:7). We are each individually sent out from Him to do His work in our own unique way. The way for the great commission is therefore prepared by these many examples of &lsquo;sending&rsquo;. That commission, the sending out, is therefore a totally personal matter- not something to be merely considered by missions committees, or groups of enthusiasts. We are each personally &lsquo;sent&rsquo;, bidden depart on our personal way, as a result of our encounter with the Lord.</p> <p><i>As you have believed, so it is done for you</i>&ndash; The idea could be that the quality, nature and extent of healing was dependent upon the nature of the faith. We ask for forgiveness for our own sins &ldquo;as&rdquo; we have forgiven others. There is here a recognition by the Lord that issues like faith and forgiveness are not simply black or white situations. They are processes, and there is clearly a sliding scale of measurement for things such as faith and forgiveness. The point is that according to where we set the slider on our own faith or forgiveness, so there will be a corresponding response from God. God&rsquo;s possibility is our possibility; and this is what the Lord was teaching the man who thought that it all depended upon the Lord&rsquo;s possibility alone (Mk. 9:23). The extent and nature of the Lord's healing seems to have been limited by the faith of the recipient (Mt. 8:13 &quot; as...so&rdquo;; 9:29 &quot; according to&rdquo;; 12:22 &quot; inasmuch&rdquo;).</p> <p><i>And the servant was healed in that hour</i>- The phrase could mean that the servant was cured within the same hour, or at that very instant. In this case the suggestion would be that the centurion&rsquo;s faith was great and therefore the cure happened totally and instantly. The Greek for &lsquo;healed&rsquo; is also translated &lsquo;made whole&rsquo;, so there could be a comment upon the extent (total healing) and immediacy (instant) of the cure- as a result of the man&rsquo;s great level of faith.</p> 21414081414<p>8:14&nbsp;<i>And when Jesus had entered Peter's house, he saw his wife's mother lying</i>- As if the Lord noticed the problem and took the initiative to assist, rather than being asked to. Yet Mk. 1:31 states that &ldquo;they [told] Him about her&rdquo; and He responded. Surely the overall picture is that He did notice her need. But He waited to be asked before responding- not because He would not otherwise have responded, but because He wanted to pique the intensity of request and entreaty on their part. We sense the same spirit in how He appeared to be asleep on the sinking boat, and how He made as if He would go further on the way to Emmaus. And His apparent silence in our own lives is surely to provoke our prayerfulness and faith likewise.</p> <p><i>Sick with a fever</i>- The Greek literally means &lsquo;to be on fire&rsquo;. This is yet another example of phenomenological language. A high temperature was thought to be a sign that something was on fire within a person; that wrong idea is repeated without correction, just as the language of demons is. The simple point being made, time and again, is that however folk understood disease, the power of the Lord Jesus was so infinitely greater that whatever was supposed to be causing the illness effectively didn&rsquo;t exist.</p> 21514081515<p>8:15&nbsp;<i>And he touched her hand and</i>- One of the colossal 28 references in the Gospels to the Lord touching needy and neglected people, thereby showing His desire to connect with us in our humanity. We noted under 8:14 that the belief was that this woman&rsquo;s high temperature was because of our fire deep within her. By touching her&nbsp;<i>hand</i>, an extremity, perhaps the Lord was showing that actually that belief was wrong. But as with the whole issue of belief in demons as a cause of unexplained illness, the Lord dealt with the issue by inference and implication rather than a direct statement that &lsquo;this is wrong&rsquo;. He reserved such a style for the condemnation of spiritual intolerance and other moral issues.</p> <p><i>The fever left her</i>- Also the language of the day, because illness was understood as having to go somewhere when it was healed.</p> <p><i>And she arose and ministered to him</i>- Her response to her healing was to serve the Lord and His people. This should be the underlying motive why we ask for healing and good health- so that we can serve. And our response to the Lord&rsquo;s touching of us can never be passive- it involves some level of active serving. Perhaps the use of&nbsp;<i>diakoneo</i>&nbsp;looks forward to the office and practice of women being deacons, ministers, in the early church. For the church of any age is to be an extension of the men and women who followed the Lord Jesus in Galilee.&nbsp; There was a Rabbinic prohibition of women serving men at table, so this is yet another instance of the Lord and His people being driven by their desire to respond to God's grace to breaking accepted social norms about gender.</p> 21614081616<p>8:16 <i>And when evening had come, they brought to him many possessed with demons, and he cast out the spirits with a word and healed all that were sick</i>- The healing had been done on a Sabbath, and so they only carried their sick to the Lord after sunset. We see here the power of religious tradition and fear of religious leaders and infringement of their traditions. There would have been urgently sick people, who needed healing as soon as possible. The people believed the Lord could heal them; but their fear of infringing Sabbath traditions was even greater. And we see the same in essence today.</p> 21714081717<p>8:17&nbsp;<i>So that it might be fulfilled which was spoken through Isaiah the prophet, saying: He took our infirmities and bore our diseases</i>- &ldquo;He took our infirmities and bore our diseases&rdquo; is how Is. 53 described the cross; but these words are quoted in Mt. 8:16,17 about the Lord&rsquo;s healing of people. The miracles therefore were performed in the spirit of the cross- personally identifying with the sick and healing them through that identification.</p> 21814081818<p>8:18&nbsp;<i>Now when Jesus saw-</i>&nbsp;An example of how the Lord was so human that He still acquired knowledge by the exercise of His senses. Knowledge was not just beamed into Him.</p> <p><i>Great crowds</i>- Why did the Lord dislike the crowds? It may be that He simply found it nervously and spiritually too exhausting for Him to be surrounded by so many wrongly motivated people. If so, what does that mean about our decision making in view of our human limitations? Or it could be that His focus was upon the training of the twelve and He didn&rsquo;t want to be distracted from that. Or perhaps He foresaw that if the crowds remained too long with Him, then they would begin a public revolt to enthrone Him as a King or at least some figurehead in protest against the Roman occupation. Hence His continual emphasis that His kingdom was about internal renewal, not external revolt. There may well have been a simple logistical issue- He could not normally address thousands of people and be heard by them all without speech reinforcement. The feeding miracles seem to have involved the use of a natural amphitheatre which enabled this. But thousands of people just tagging along, pressing closer to see or feel a miracle&hellip; often there would have been no chance to actually teach them anything, and most of the crowd would&rsquo;ve only heard exaggerated and distorted versions of what was being said and done by Jesus. And there was also the very real practical danger of a stampede and people being trampled to death; Lk. 12:1 speaks of how one such &ldquo;innumerable multitude&hellip; trod one upon another&rdquo;.</p> <p><i>About him, he gave commandment to depart to the other side</i>- The Greek&nbsp;<i>peran&nbsp;</i>doesn&rsquo;t have to mean this; it can also simply mean to go further or beyond.</p> 21914081919<p>8:19&nbsp;<i>And there came a scribe and said to him</i>- Not necessarily a religious one, although probably this is the reference. The same word is also translated &ldquo;clerk&rdquo;. It was after Jesus had commanded the disciples to sail to the other side of the lake, that this scribe came to Him. By talking to this man, who likely was just asking the Lord trick questions and trying to catch Him out, the Lord delayed their departure; with the result that they nearly lost their lives in the storm that came (Mt. 8:18-23). The disciples must have many times during that storm reflected with bitter annoyance how the Lord has gotten them in to this problem all because He had been wasting time with that Scribe. But the Lord had such a hopefulness and a spirit of passionate concern for the salvation of the individual, however arrogant and conceited they seemed to be, that He would risk danger in order to spend time with such a person. I find this an amazing example, surrounded as we are by a majority of people who appear like that Scribe.</p> <p><i>Teacher, I will follow you</i>- A massive 76 times we read in the Gospels of people following Jesus. Following Him&nbsp;<i>wherever He goes&nbsp;</i>is the characteristic of the faithful (Rev. 14:4). The following of Jesus around Palestine therefore was presented in the Gospel records (and they are transcripts of the preaching of the Gospel) as the pattern for all who would later follow Him. His teaching in these verses, as so often, is that following Him is not about being part of a large crowd which broadly identifies with Jesus and hangs around Him, although often not hearing and taking seriously His words (see on 8:18). It is about real self-sacrifice, and a following Him to the cross. In this we see a rebuke of the cultural &lsquo;Christianity&rsquo; which has historically been so much a part of the Western world. It&rsquo;s hard to follow Him; whereas joining the Christian denomination in which they were raised is for many people easier to do than not do. But really following Jesus is not so easy, and it leads to the death of the cross.</p> <p><i>Wherever you go</i>- He sensed the Lord was trying to distance Himself from the crowds (see on 8:18) by going on beyond them, or to the other side of the Lake. And this man said he was willing to do that, to be in the inner circle which the Lord visibly had around Him. For when surrounded by the crowds, He addressed Himself to the disciples (Lk. 12:1; and also in giving the Sermon on the Mount, Mt. 5:1 cp. 8:1). &ldquo;Go&rdquo; here translates the same Greek word as the Lord has just used in 8:18- He commanded the inner circle disciples to &ldquo;depart&rdquo;, or &ldquo;go&rdquo;. And this scribe wanted to be in that inner circle and to go with them. The Lord Jesus had a way of gently turning comments and questions back on the person who made them, and of redefining the terms used. The man said that he would follow Him &ldquo;whithersoever you got&rdquo;, i.e. to whatever end point the road may lead to. The Lord replied that He had nowhere to lay His head. In other words, it&rsquo;s the following of Him that we need to focus on, rather than the hardness of some possible great future sacrifice that may lie ahead. It&rsquo;s the road, and not the destination, that are important (Mt. 8:19-21).</p> 22014082020<p>8:20 See on 6:26.</p> <p><i>And Jesus said to him: The foxes have holes and the birds of the sky have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head</i>- The only other time the Greek phrase is used in the record that on death, He &lsquo;bowed His head&rsquo; (Jn. 19:30). His later warnings about what it meant to follow Him were to the effect that it meant carrying our cross with Him to the place of crucifixion. Perhaps there is a hint of that here. It may be that that night, the Lord literally had nowhere to sleep. But it was not the case for Him every night. Yet He seems to be purposefully painting a demanding picture in order to make the point- that following Him was not a case of tagging along with the crowd, hearing garbled reports of His words from others and enthusiastically hoping for some personal benefit from being involved with Him. Jesus died because He gave out His Spirit, as an act of the will. He gave His life, it was not taken from Him by murder. The fact the Lord died not just because events overtook Him and happened to Him is perhaps reflected in Paul&rsquo;s speaking in Rom. 6 of &ldquo;the death that he died&hellip; the life that he liveth&rdquo;. He died a death; he Himself died it; and yet just as truly, He lived a life. He didn&rsquo;t just let events happen to Him. He was not mastered in His life by human lusts and selfish desires; He was in that sense the only ultimately free person to have ever lived. When He &ldquo;bowed his head&rdquo;, the same Greek is used as in Mt. 8:20: &ldquo;The Son of man has no place to lay / bow his head&rdquo;. It was as if He only lay His head down, giving out His life, when He knew it was time to rest from a day&rsquo;s work well done. He lived a surpassingly free life, and freely gave that life up; it was not taken from Him.&nbsp;When the Lord spoke of how &quot;the son of man has nowhere to lay his head&quot; (Mt. 8:20), He was apparently alluding to a common proverb about how humanity generally [&quot;son of man&quot; as generalized humanity] is homeless in the cosmos. In this case, we see how the Lord took every opportunity to attest to the fact that what was true of humanity in general was true of Him. Perhaps this explains His fondness for describing Himself as &quot;son of man&quot;, a term which can mean both humanity in general, and also specifically the Messiah predicted in Daniel.</p> 22114082121<p>8:21&nbsp;<i>And another of the disciples said to him</i>- The scribe of 8:19 could therefore be classed as a &lsquo;disciple&rsquo;. The term doesn&rsquo;t necessarily refer to the twelve, although there does seem a distinction between the &lsquo;multitudes&rsquo; who followed and from the edge of that crowd heard a few garbled versions of the Lord&rsquo;s words and work (see on 8:18), and &lsquo;disciples&rsquo;, those who were willing to be learners from Him as from a rabbi.</p> <p><i>Lord, permit me first to go and bury my father</i>- This was perhaps said in response to the Lord&rsquo;s decision to move on beyond the crowds, or &ldquo;to the other side&rdquo; (see on 8:18). Like the scribe, this man wanted to be in some kind of inner circle. And he had shown some interest- it would seem that on the morning of his father&rsquo;s funeral, he had come to listen to Jesus. But he wanted the Lord to delay His departure until he had completed burying his father that afternoon. It seems that a third individual also wanted to follow the Lord further in response to the command He gave to the inner circle to &ldquo;depart&rdquo;; for Lk. 9:61 records another person wanting the Lord to just wait until he had run home to say goodbye to his family and explain his absence.</p> 22214082222<p>8:22&nbsp;<i>But Jesus said to him: Follow me, and leave the dead to bury their own dead</i>- All three people (see Lk. 9:61) wanted to follow Jesus. But the Lord&rsquo;s point is that unless they were going to pay the price until it hurt, then they were not following Him. They were just tagging along the huge crowds. There is a clear link between following Christ and carrying His cross. Mt. 10:38; Mk. 8:34; 10:21 make it apparent: &ldquo;Whosoever will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me&rdquo;. But there are other less evident connections. The man following his father&rsquo;s coffin was told to break off and come follow Christ instead (Mt. 8:22)- as if following Him involved following Him unto the place of death. The faithful women who literally followed Him to the cross are described as&nbsp;<i>also</i>&nbsp;having followed Him in Galilee (Mk. 15:41), as if their following then and their literal following of Him to Golgotha were all part of the same walk.</p> 22314082323<p>8:23&nbsp;<i>And when he had boarded a boat, his disciples followed him</i>- This is quite a compliment, given the definitions the Lord has been giving in :22 about the difficulty of following Him truly. Chapter 8 emphasizes this theme of following Jesus, the Greek literally means to take the same road as (8:1,10,19,22). Verses 21 and 22 emphasize that this was not as easy as merely literally walking around Palestine with Him, externally following- but it involved the loss of all one holds dear in human life. And the road or way taken by the Lord ultimately led to the cross. A huge 76 times this word is used in the Gospels. The following of Jesus in all ways is the essence of Christianity- for the faithful are those who follow the Lamb&nbsp;<i>wherever</i>&nbsp;[and that surely is the emphasis] He goes (Rev. 14:4).</p> 22414082424<p>8:24&nbsp;<i>And without warning, a furious storm</i>- The word is also translated &quot;earthquake&quot;. The waves from the earthquake &quot;covered&quot; or 'hid' [s.w.] the ship. Given the intensity of the situation it seems unlikely the Lord was really &quot;asleep&quot;. Here we have a picture of the apparent silence of God. He appeared to be asleep, He remained with eyes closed, lying there as the boat was hidden beneath the waves. But He did this surely to pique the intensity of faith and urgency of appeal in their prayer to Him for salvation. And the apparent silence of the Lord in our lives is ultimately to try to achieve the same effect.&nbsp;</p> <p><i>Arose on the sea</i>- Same Greek word occurs in 8:26 &quot;there was / arose a great calm&quot;. Just as easily as God can raise up a crisis, He can raise up the resolution to it. The changes of tense in the Gospel records suggest an eye witness telling the story. Take the parallel Mk. 4:37: &quot;And there arises a great storm of wind, and the waves beat into the boat, insomuch that the boat was now filling&quot; (RV). But the rest of the account in the surrounding verses is in proper past tenses- e.g. &quot;He arose, and rebuked the wind, and said...&quot; (Mk. 4:39). The impression we have is of the author getting carried away with the memory of the event, and telling it as if it's happening. And this is especially fitting if in fact the Gospels were performed live rather than coldly memorized as prose.<br /> <br /> <i>So much so that the boat was covered with the waves; but he slept</i>- The Greek could also stand the translation 'lying down to rest'. But how could He appear to be resting or asleep in such a situation? I suggest He did this to elicit their desire for Him. Likewise He made as if He would walk by them during another storm, and acted as if He would go on further on the walk to Emmaus. It was all in order to elicit their urgent desire for Him. And so it is with His apparent silence to us; that silence or lack of immediate response is in order to heighten our final sense of His grace and action. We see it in how He delayed going to Lazarus; it is the principle of Is. 30:18: &quot;Therefore Yahweh will wait, that He may be gracious to you; and therefore He will be exalted, that He may have mercy on you, for Yahweh is a God of justice. Blessed are all those who wait for Him&quot;.</p> 22514082525<p>8:25&nbsp;<i>And they came to Him</i>- 'Coming to' can be understood in the sense of worship. His apparent silence led them to an intensity of prayerful approach to Him. See on :24.</p> <p><i>And awoke him</i>- Literally, to raise up. 'Asleep' in 8:24 can also mean simply to lay down to rest. It seemed He didn't want to do anything- until they imposed upon Him with all their energy and intensity of focus upon Him and Him alone as their Saviour. And the whole situation was raised up to that end.<br /> <br /> <i>Saying, Save us, Lord!</i>- Peter used the same word when he urged the Lord in another storm &quot;save&nbsp;<i>me</i>&quot; (Mt. 14:30). We see how the Lord repeated the storm experience in the lives of the disciples, hoping they would learn the lesson of faith and focus upon Him, and repeating them so that they might be learnt. The two incidents are again connected by the rebuke &quot;Ye [plural] of little faith&quot; (8:26) and then to Peter &quot;You [singular] of little faith&quot; (Mt. 14:31).<br /> <br /> <i>We perish!</i>- The same Greek words for 'save' and 'perish' also occur together in Mt. 16:25, where the Lord teaches that if we seek to save our lives in this world then we will perish. He could thereby be making a criticism of the disciples' plea to be saved from perishing; His sense would then have been 'You should have an even greater, focused intensity upon your need to be saved spiritually and not to perish eternally'. Again the two words occur together in Mt. 18:11, where the Lord says that He came to save those who are perishing- and again, He has in view spiritual, ultimate salvation. The perishing disciples on the lake, in need of saving, are therefore being set up as a picture of the intensity of desire we should have for forgiveness and salvation. The way essential intention is understood as prayer is perhaps reflected in the way Matthew records that the disciples prayed during the storm on the lake: &quot;Lord, save us, we are perishing!&quot; (Mt. 8:25). Mark records that their actual words were &quot;Teacher, do you not care if we perish?&quot; (Mk. 4:38). Perhaps this was read by Matthew's inspiration as prayer. An alternative would be that they firstly said the words recorded by Mark, and then those by Matthew- in which case we could perhaps notice the difference between &quot;Teacher!&quot; and &quot;Lord!&quot;, as if the higher they perceived the greatness of the Lord Jesus, the more moved they were to prayer.</p> <p><br /> Mark records that they actually said:&nbsp;&ldquo;Carest thou not that we perish?&rdquo; (Mk. 4:38). His whole life and death were because He&nbsp;<i>did</i>&nbsp;so care that they would not perish (Jn. 3:16). It&rsquo;s so reminiscent of a child&rsquo;s total, if temporary, misunderstanding and lack of appreciation of the parent&rsquo;s love and self-sacrifice.</p> 22614082626<p>8:26&nbsp;<i>And he said to them: Why are you fearful?</i>- Fear and unbelief are again connected in Rev. 21:8. The unbelief refers ultimately to disbelief in our salvation, fear of condemnation; see on 8:25 'We perish'.</p> <p><i>O you of little faith!</i>- See on 8:25 &quot;save us&quot;. The question as to&nbsp;<i>why</i>&nbsp;they had little faith echoes to us. Why is it that faith is so hard for us? The track record of the Father and Son as rewarding faith is clear and without question. This&nbsp;<i>why</i>&nbsp;question drives each individual into personal introspection, reviewing our history, past and present influences upon us, the nature of our personality.&nbsp;<i>Why</i>&nbsp;do we not believe very strongly... ? The records of the Lord&rsquo;s words to the disciples in the sinking ship are significantly different within the Gospel records. Luke&rsquo;s record has Him upbraiding them: &ldquo;Where is your faith?&rdquo;, as if He thought they had none. Matthew and Mark have Him commenting: &ldquo;O you of&nbsp;<i>little</i>&nbsp;faith...&rdquo;. Putting them together, perhaps He said and implied something like: &lsquo;O you of little faith, you who think you have a little faith, in my view you have no&nbsp;<i>real</i>&nbsp;faith. Come on, where is your&nbsp;<i>real</i>&nbsp;faith, not the little bit which&nbsp;<i>you&nbsp;</i>think you have...?&rsquo; (Mt. 8:26 cp. Mk. 4:40). The Greek for &ldquo;little&rdquo; faith is also translated &lsquo;almost&rsquo;; as if the Lord is saying that they almost had faith, but in reality, had nothing. The Lord spoke of how just a little piece of real faith, like a grain of mustard seed, could result in so much (Mk. 11:12,13)- as if He recognized that there was pseudo-faith, and the real thing.&nbsp;<i>Oligopistos&nbsp;</i>(&quot;little faith&quot;) is used five times by Matthew (Mt. 6:30; 14:31; 16:8; 17:20); it never occurs in Mark and only once in Luke. Perhaps Matthew's Gospel record was written to challenge those whose faith was small, and he encourages them that the disciples likewise started with &quot;little faith&quot;.&nbsp;</p> <p>It seems to me that all the Lord's servants are taught by increments, progressively, being given tests as to the degree to which they have grasped what the Lord has sought to teach them previously. And the Lord Jesus used a similar structured approach with the training of the twelve disciples. When the Lord commented &ldquo;Have you not yet faith?&rdquo; (Mk. 4:40 RV) it becomes immediately apparent that He was working with the twelve according to some program of spiritual development, and He was frustrated with their lack of response to it and slow progress. He surely has a similar program in place, and makes similar patient efforts, with each one of us. It is apparent to any reader of the Greek text of the Gospels that Jesus almost always left the verb &ldquo;believe&rdquo; without an object (e.g. Mk. 4:40; 5:34,36; 9:23). The question naturally arose: &lsquo;Believe&nbsp;<i>in what or whom</i>?&rsquo;. And seeing the speaker of the words, the answer was there before their eyes.</p> <p><i>Then he arose and rebuked the winds and the sea, and there was a great calm</i>- The Greek for &quot;rebuked&quot; can mean just this, but it is also translated 'to solemnly charge'. There are times in the Gospels where the sovereign authority of Jesus as Lord simply shines through. He did His work with a minimum of such displays of authority. Yet there are enough of them to make us appreciate how He could so easily have 'come down from the cross'; such incidents of sovereign authority in His ministry simply pave the way for us to appreciate the degree of self-control and wilful sacrifice and suffering which He achieved on the cross. The peoples of the first century, and their predecessors, believed that demons and the Satan monster were somehow associated with water &ndash; that was why, they figured, the water mysteriously kept moving, and at times blew up into storms. When we read of God &lsquo;rebuking&rsquo; the waters and making them calm or do what He wished (Ps. 18:16; 104:7; 106:9), we&rsquo;re effectively being told that Yahweh of Israel is so infinitely superior to those supposed demons and sea monsters that for God&rsquo;s people, they have no effective existence. The Lord Jesus taught the same lesson when He &lsquo;rebuked&rsquo; the sea and wind during the storm on the lake (Mt. 8:26). The same Greek word is used to described how He &lsquo;rebuked&rsquo; demons (Mt. 17:18 etc.). I have no doubt that the Lord Jesus didn&rsquo;t believe there was a Loch Ness&ndash;type monster lurking in Galilee which He had to rebuke in order to save the disciples from the storm; and likewise He spoke of &lsquo;rebuking&rsquo; demons as a similar way of teaching others that&nbsp;<i>whatever</i>&nbsp;ideas they had about demons, He was greater and was in a position to &lsquo;rebuke&rsquo; them. Likewise He assured His men that they had the power to tread on snakes, scorpions, and all their enemies (Lk. 10:17&ndash;20). The image of a victorious god trampling his foes and snakes underfoot was well established in the surrounding cultures, and had entered Judaism. The Lord is teaching those fearful men that OK, if that&rsquo;s your perception of things, well, in your terms, you have ultimate victory through working &lsquo;in My name&rsquo;.</p> <p>Mark records that the Lord commanded the waves &ldquo;Peace, be still&rdquo;. His authoritative &quot;Peace, be still&quot; (Mk. 4:39) was probably primarily addressed to the Angels controlling the natural elements. The reference to Angels 'ministering' to Him after the temptations suggests their inferiority. Thus He could summon twelve legions of Angels at the time of His greatest passion- maybe He remembered this incident and it was a temptation to Him to use this power over Angels at the crucifixion.</p> <p>All three of the Synoptics use the same phrase for &quot;a great calm&quot; (Mk. 4:39; Lk. 8:24). It would've been a profound experience. The whole experience looks ahead to the calm of God's Kingdom being brought about by intense latter day prayer during a tribulation so intense that unless it were shortened, the faithful would die. When the Lord calmed the raging sea into a still calmness, He was consciously replicating what happened when Jonah was cast into the sea. He said plainly that He understood Jonah&rsquo;s willing submission to this as a type of His coming death. Therefore He saw the stilled sea as a symbol of the peace His sacrifice would achieve. And yet even during His ministry, He brought that calmness about; for in principle, His sacrifice was ongoing throughout His life. His blood is a symbol both of His cross and of the life He lived.</p> 22714082727<p>8:27&nbsp;<i>And the men</i>- An unusual term for the disciples. But it's understandable- they were awed by the power and majesty of the Father and Son, and therefore keenly felt their humanity.</p> <p><i>Marvelled, saying</i>- A word so often used about the response of people to miracles. The Lord had marvelled at another's faith in 8:10, and now men marvel at His faith. A very positive mutuality is suggested here between the Lord and His followers.<br /> <br /> <i>What manner of man is this</i>- What&nbsp;<i>sort</i>&nbsp;of man is this (Gk.&nbsp;<i>potapos</i>), they asked themselves. They felt very much their own humanity (hence they are called &quot;the men&quot; at this time), and their awe was because they sensed that Jesus too was a man. Accepting the humanity of the Lord Jesus is relatively easy on one level, as a matter of theology, exposition or logic. But then comes the far harder part- the awe at the fact that One who was like me could actually do so much and be so much. And this can lead to our feeling a kind of gap between Him and us, although we know He shared the same nature, this in a sense means that we feel the spiritual distance between Him and us very keenly. In later spiritual maturity, Peter seems to have reflected upon this gap and realized that it was bridgeable- for he uses a similar word in saying that because of God's grace, &quot;what manner of persons(<i>potapous</i>) ought we to be...&quot;. Just as Jesus was human and yet different from unbelieving men, so that same element of difference can be seen in us. The whole consideration is an essay in His humanity and representation of us as humans.<br /> &quot;What manner of&nbsp;<i>man</i>&nbsp;is this?&quot; was maybe said on perceiving that His actions were in fulfilment of the prophecy that&nbsp;<i>Yahweh&nbsp;</i>would still the waves of the sea. And in the context of stilling another storm, He comments: &quot;Fear not, it is I&quot; - not 'it's&nbsp;<i>me</i>'. He was surely suggesting they connect Him with the essence of the Yahweh Name, I am that I am. But the connection was only for those who would truly meditate and connect things together. As our Moslem friends have correctly pointed out many times, Jesus Himself never in so many words claimed to be Messiah. When others said this about Him, He replies by describing Himself as the &quot;son of man&quot;. Indeed, this was His preferred self-image. He was intensely conscious of His humanity, His solidarity with us, and it was as if He directed us who later have believed to image Him first and foremost as a&nbsp;<i>man of our nature</i>. Of course, He was and is so much more than that. But because we are human, we have to image ourselves around a perfect human- Jesus, the real and full humanity as God intended. Here those who believe Jesus was God Himself place themselves at a distinct disadvantage- our understanding that Jesus did indeed come &quot;in the flesh&quot; ought to be a tremendous inspiration to us to be like Him. The power and compulsion of His life and example are surely diminished by relating to Him as God Himself.</p> <p><i>That even the winds and the sea obey him?</i>- The disciples spoke of the wind and sea as if they were conscious entities, able to be obedient to the word of Jesus. The same word is used to describe the marvel of the people that &quot;even the unclean spirits... obey Him&quot; (Mk. 1:27). Just as wind and sea are not actually living entities, so unclean spirits likewise don't actually exist. But the disciples clearly had the idea in their head. Yet the scale of the Lord's power over such entities in fact showed their effective non-existence in practice.</p> 22814082828<p>8:28<i>&nbsp;And when he had arrived on the other side</i>- The Gospel records often paint a broad scene and then zoom in upon the person of Jesus. Mark does this by using a plural verb&nbsp;<i>without an explicit subject</i>&nbsp;to paint a picture of the disciples or crowd generally; and then follows this by a singular verb or pronoun referring specifically to Jesus. Here are some examples: &quot;They came to the other side... and when He had stepped out of the boat&quot; (Mk. 5:1,2); &quot;when they came from Bethany, he was hungry&quot; (Mk. 8:22); &quot;they went to a place called Gethsemane; and he said to his disciples...&quot; (Mk. 14:32). The grammatical feature is more evident in Greek than in English. If the writer of Mark had been a cameraman, he'd have taken a broad sweep, and then suddenly hit the zoom to focus right up close upon Jesus Himself. This is what is being done with words, and it reflects the Christ-centeredness of the whole narrative and preaching of the Gospel, of which the Gospels are transcripts.</p> <div><i>In the country of the Gadarenes</i>- The &quot;Girgashites&quot; of Dt. 7:1, some of the original inhabitants of Canaan who had never been cast out of the land as intended by God. These men stopped anyone passing along the way or road. The point may be that those whom Israel should've 'cast out' to secure their inheritance of the Kingdom were finally cast out by Christ. This lays the basis for the language of 'casting out' the demons into the lake.<br /> <br /> <i>There met him two possessed with demons-&nbsp;</i>Mark and Luke focus upon just one of them, Legion. Luke says that Peter went to the Lord's tomb after the resurrection, yet several other disciples also went there (&quot;some of our number&quot;). Luke chose to focus upon only Peter; and here too, he chooses to focus upon only one of the two demoniacs.&nbsp;&nbsp;<br /> <br /> <i>Coming out of the tombs, exceedingly fierce, so that no one could go that way</i>- See on 8:34.&nbsp;</div> <p>For a detailed study on this incident, see my discussion of it in <a href="http://www.realdevil.info/4-3-1.htm"><i>The Real Devil</i></a><i>. </i>See too commentary on Mark 5 and Luke 8.</p> 22914082929<p>8:29&nbsp;<i>And they cried out, saying: What have we to do with you, you Son of God? Have you come here to torment us before the time?</i>- The language of judgment at the last day, &quot;the time&quot; (Rev. 14:10; 20:10). See on :30&nbsp;<i>a good way off&nbsp;</i>and on :31&nbsp;<i>cast us out</i>. Legion believed he was demon possessed. But the Lord didn&rsquo;t correct him regarding this before healing him; indeed, one assumes the man probably had some faith for the miracle to be performed (Mt. 13:58). Lk. 8:29 says that Legion &ldquo;was driven of the devil into the wilderness&rdquo;, in the same way as the Lord had been driven into the wilderness&nbsp;<i>by the spirit</i>&nbsp;(Mk. 1:12) and yet overcame the &lsquo;devil&rsquo; in whatever form at this time. The man was surely intended to reflect on these more subtle things and see that whatever he had once believed in was immaterial and irrelevant compared to the Spirit power of the Lord. And yet the Lord &lsquo;went along&rsquo; with his request for the demons he thought were within him to be cast into &lsquo;the deep&rsquo;, thoroughly rooted as it was in misunderstanding of demons and sinners being thrown into the abyss. This was in keeping with the kind of healing styles people were used to at the time &ndash; e.g. Josephus records how Eleazar cast demons out of people and placed a cup of water nearby, which was then [supposedly] tipped over by the demons as they left the sick person [<i>Antiquities of the Jews</i>&nbsp;8.46&ndash;48]. It seems to me that the Lord &lsquo;went along with&rsquo; that kind of need for reassurance, and so He made the pigs stampede over the cliff to symbolize to the healed man how his disease had really left him.</p> <p>A comparison of the records indicates that the voice of the individual man is paralleled with that of the 'demons'- the man was called Legion, because he believed and spoke as if he were inhabited by hundreds of 'demons':</p> <p>&quot;Torment <i>me</i> not&quot; (Mk.5:7) = &ldquo;Are you come to torment <i>us</i>?&rdquo; (Mt. 8:29). <br /> &ldquo;<i>He</i> [singular] besought him&rdquo; (Mk. 5:9) = &quot;<i>the demons</i> besought him&quot; (Mk. 5:12) <br /> The man's own words explain his self-perception: &quot;<i>My</i> name [singular] is Legion: for <i>we</i> are many (Mk. 5:9)&quot;. This is classic schizophrenic behaviour and language. Thus Lk. 8:30 explains that Legion spoke as he did because [he thought that] many demons had entered into him.</p> 23014083030<p>8:30&nbsp;<i>Now there was afar off from them a herd of many pigs feeding</i>- The term is used about those 'far off' from Christ, the unsaved (Lk. 15:20; Acts 2:39; 22:21; Eph. 2:13,17). The men saw themselves as far from Christ, with nothing in common between them and Him (:29). His response was to say that OK, let's get the condemnation over and done with- and you yourselves shall be saved. This is very much the kind of teaching which John's Gospel records as being specifically on the Lord's lips. See on :31.&nbsp;</p> 23114083131<p>8:31&nbsp;<i>And the demons begged him, saying: If you cast us out</i>- The word is used about 'casting out' to condemnation at the last day (Mt. 8:12; 22:13; 25:30; Lk. 13:28; Jn. 6:37). These men were obsessed with the thought of condemnation at the last day, being 'tormented' at the last day (:28), being 'far off' from Christ and His salvation (see on :30), 'going away' into condemnation (s.w. Mt. 25:46), plunged into the sea of condemnation (see on :32). They correctly perceived that meeting Jesus in this life was in effect a meeting of Him in judgment, for even then, even now, He is the judge of all. The Lord was assuring them that their fear of condemnation was well and truly 'cast out'; His destruction of the pigs was an acted parable of final condemnation at the last day. John's Gospel doesn't record this incident but as so often, he records the essential teaching in spiritual terms. In John's terms, we need have no fear of future condemnation, for we have received it now, and have passed from judgment to life and salvation. These men had a fine understanding of the Lord Jesus. They realized that meeting Him was meeting their judge. And they ask that the pigs bear their condemnation. And the Lord agrees- which meant that once they had as it were received their condemnation, they had passed from death into life.&nbsp;</p> <p><i>Suffer us</i>- AV and some manuscripts. They recognized Jesus as not only Son of God but also their Lord, in total control of their final destiny.<br /> <br /> <i>Send us away into the herd of pigs</i>- The same word is used about the rejected at the final judgment 'going away' into condemnation (Mt. 25:46).</p> <p>Why did the pigs run over the cliff, and why did the Lord Jesus agree to the man's request for this?</p> <p>Because mental illness features intermittent episodes, it's understandable that the Lord sought to comfort those cured that the change He had brought was permanent. Thus the Lord tells the 'spirit' assumed to be tormenting the mentally afflicted child: &quot;I command you, come out of him, <i>and enter no more</i> into him&quot; (Mk. 9:25). It's in the same vein that He drove the pigs into the lake as a sign that Legion's cure was permanent. I suggest that it was a kind of visual <i>aide memoire</i>, of the kind often used in the Bible to impress a point upon illiterate people. I suggest that's why in the ritual of the Day of Atonement, the scapegoat ran off into the wilderness bearing Israel's sins. As the bobbing animal was watched by thousands of eyes, thousands of minds would've reflected that their sins were being cast out. And the same principle was in the curing of the schizophrenic Legion- the pigs were made to run into the lake by the Lord Jesus, not because they were actually possessed by demons in reality, but as an <i>aide memoire</i> to the cured Legion that his illness, all his perceived personalities, were now no more. Mental illness is typically intermittent. Legion had met Jesus, for he recognized Him afar off, and knew that He was God's Son (Mk. 5:6); indeed, one assumes the man probably had some faith for the miracle to be performed (Mt. 13:58). He comes to meet Jesus &quot;from out of the city&quot; (Lk. 8:27) and yet Mt. 8:28 speaks of him living in the tombs outside the city. He pleads with the Lord not to torment him (Mk. 5:7)- full of memories of how the local folk had tied him up and beaten him to try to exorcise the demons. Probably Legion's greatest fear was that he would relapse into madness again; that the cure which he believed Jesus could offer him might not be permanent. And so the Lord agreed to the man's request that the demons he perceived as within him should be permanently cast out; and the sight of the herd of pigs running over the cliff to permanent death below, with the awful sound this would've made, would have remained an abiding memory for the man. Note how the 'demon possessed' man in Mk. 1:23 sits in the synagogue and then suddenly screams out (Mk. 1:23)- showing he was likewise afflicted by intermittent fits.</p> <p>Steve Keating pointed out to me that the madness may have been an infection in the brain of the trichina parasite, commonly found infecting the muscles of pigs - and transmissible to humans in undercooked pork.&nbsp; The infected man would likely have been&nbsp;forced by poverty to eat this kind of food, and likely associated his &quot;problem&quot;&nbsp;with it because of&nbsp;the prohibition of pork&nbsp;under the Mosaic Law.&nbsp; This approach is confirmed by medical observations such as the following:</p> <p>&ldquo;Neurocysticercosis is the most common parasitic disease in the world which affects the central nervous system&hellip; A 25 year old, illiterate married Hindu male&hellip; presented with a three month history of gradual change in behaviour in the form of irrelevant talk &hellip; On mental status examination, he was well oriented to time, place and person, cooperative, communicative and responded well to questions asked&hellip; Delusions of persecution and reference were present&hellip; he accepted the illness but attributed the cause to evil spirits&hellip; histopathology report of subcutaneous nodule confirmed the diagnosis of cysticercosis cellulosae&hellip;. Significant improvement in psychiatric symptoms was also observed following albendazole (an anti-parasitic drug) therapy. Delusions of persecution and delusions of reference were not found on mental status examination. Insight also improved; instead of attributing the illness to evil spirits, the patient accepted having a physical illness.&rdquo; (&ldquo;Neurocysticercosis Presenting as Schizophrenia: A Case Report&rdquo;, B. Bhatia, S. Mishra, A.S. Srivastava, <i>Indian Journal of Psychiatry</i> 1994, Vol. 36(4), pp. 187-189).</p> <p>The&nbsp;desire to see the disease return to the&nbsp;herds of swine probably stemmed from a need to know that his affliction had been cured in a rather permanent sort of way. And the Lord went along with this. The idea of transference of disease from one to another was a common Semitic perception, and it&rsquo;s an idea used by God. And thus God went along with the peoples' idea of disease transference, and the result is recorded in terms of demons [which was how they understood illness] going from one person to another. Likewise the leprosy of Naaman clave to Gehazi (2 Kings 5:27). God threatened to make the diseases of the inhabitants of Canaan and Egypt to cleave to Israel if they were disobedient (Dt. 28:21,60). Here too, as with Legion, there is Divine accommodation to the ideas of disease transference which people had at the time.&nbsp;</p> 23214083232<p>8:32&nbsp;<i>And he said to them: Go. And they came out and went into the pigs, and the whole herd rushed down the hill into the sea and perished in the waters-&nbsp;</i>Death in the sea was seen as condemnation; the same figure is used of Babylon's final condemnation.&nbsp;</p> <p>The Legion incident &quot;proves too much&quot; if we are to insist on reading it on a strictly literal level. Do demons drown? Presumably, no. And yet the story as it stands requires us to believe that demons drown- if we are talking about literal 'demons' here. Clearly, Legion was mentally ill. We therefore have to face the hard question: Was that mental illness caused by demons, or, as I am suggesting, is the language of demon possession merely being used to describe mental illness? If indeed mental illness is caused by demons, the observations of T.S. Huxley are about right: &quot;The belief in demons and demoniacal possession is a mere survival of a once universal superstition, its persistence pretty much in the inverse ratio of the general instruction, intelligence, and sound judgment of the population among whom it prevails. Demonology gave rise through the special influence of Christian ecclesiastics, to the most horrible persecutions and judicial murders of thousands upon thousands of innocent men, women, and children... If the story is true, the medieval theory of the invisible world may be and probably is, quite correct; and the witchfinders, from Sprenger to Hopkins and Mather, are much-maligned men&hellip; For the question of the existence of demons and of possession by them, though it lies strictly within the province of science, is also of the deepest moral and religious significance. If physical and mental disorders are caused by demons, Gregory of Tours and his contemporaries rightly considered that relics and exorcists were more useful than doctors; the gravest questions arise as to the legal and moral responsibilities of persons inspired by demoniacal impulses; and our whole conception of the universe and of our relations to it becomes totally different from what it would be on the contrary hypothesis&rdquo; (T. S. Huxley, <i>Science and Christian Tradition</i> (New York: Appleton, 1899) p. 225).</p> 23314083333<p>8:33&nbsp;<i>And they that fed them fled, and went away into the city and told everything, including what had happened to them that had been possessed with demons</i>- See on :34&nbsp;<i>besought</i>.&nbsp;</p> 23414083434<p>8:34 <i>And all in the city came out to meet Jesus, and when they saw him they begged him- </i>&quot;Begged&quot; is the very same word used about the demons / mentally ill men 'beseeching' Jesus in :31. As the mentally ill men besought Jesus to send away the demons, so the city dwellers besought Jesus to also 'go away'. As the keepers of the pigs &quot;went their way&quot; (:33), so the same word is used of the demons 'going away' into the pigs (:31,32). As the city dwellers 'came out' to meet Jesus, so the mentally ill men 'came out' of the tombs to meet Jesus (8:28) and the demons 'came out' of them (8:32). Perhaps the idea is that those unbelievers were spiritually in the same position as the despised mentally ill men whom they had excluded from their society. And the story ends with the mentally ill saved, and the townspeople asking Jesus to depart from them, which will be the exact position of the rejected at the last day (Mt. 25:41; Lk. 13:27). It is they who are condemned, by their own wish; the mentally ill men asked for the pigs to bear their condemnation, which they felt worthy of- and thus were saved. The parallel record in Mark 5 records three prayers to Jesus: &quot;the devils besought him&quot;, and &quot;Jesus gave them leave&quot; (vv. 12,13); the Gadarenes &quot;began to pray him to depart out of their coasts&quot; (v. 17); and He obliged. And yet when the cured, earnestly zealous man &quot;prayed him that he might be with him... Jesus suffered him not&quot; (vv. 18,19). After the fascination, physically and intellectually, had worn off, very few of the crowds continued their interest. The Lord scarcely converted more than 100 people in the course of His ministry. We are familiar, from our own experience of sin and failure, with the pure grace of the Lord Jesus. We see that largeness and generosity of spirit within Him, that manifestation of the God of love, that willingness to concede to our weakness; and therefore we can tend to overlook the fact that the Lord Jesus set uncompromisingly high standards. I would even use the word &quot;demanding&quot; about His attitude.</p> <p><i>To depart from their borders-</i>&nbsp;Consider how the believers were assembled praying for Peter's release, and then when he turns up on the doorstep, they tell the servant girl that she's mad to think Peter was there. Or how the Lord Jesus did such wonderful miracles- and people asked him to go away. We too have this element within us. We would rather salvation and forgiveness were 'harder' to attain. The popularity of Catholic and Orthodox rituals is proof enough of this. It always touches me to read in the Gospels how the Lord Jesus cured wide eyed spastic children, crippled, wheezing young women, and sent them (and their loved ones) away with a joy and sparkle this world has never known. But the people asked Him to go away, and eventually did Him to death. A voice came from Heaven, validating Him as the Son of God; those who heard it involuntarily fell to the ground. But the people didn't really believe, and plotted to kill him (Jn. 12:37). They turned round and bayed for His blood, and nailed Him to death. He cured poor Legion; and the people told the Lord to go away. &nbsp;</p> <p>Mark records further: &ldquo;And as he was entering into the boat, he that had been possessed with demons pleaded with him that he might go with him. But Jesus did not permit him. Instead he said to him: Go to your home, to your family, and tell them how great things the Lord has done for you and how he had mercy on you. And he went his way and began to publish in Decapolis the great things Jesus had done for him, and all men marvelled&rdquo; (Mk. 5:18-20). This preaching in Decapolis rather than to his family could be read as disobedience. The Gospels are transcripts of the twelve disciples&rsquo; own preaching and obedience to the Lord&rsquo;s commission for them to go into all the world and tell the news of what they had seen and heard of Him. Yet there is a theme in the Gospels, consciously included by the writers and speakers, of men being disobedient to the preaching commission which the Lord gave them. When some were told to say nothing, they went and told many others (Mk. 7:36). And as Acts makes clear, the disciples themselves were disobedient, initially, to the commission to go tell the Gentiles the good news of their salvation. Legion&rsquo;s disobedience is especially instructive for us:</p> <div align="center"> <table border="0" cellspacing="10" cellpadding="0" width="80%"> <tbody> <tr> <td valign="top"> <p><b>Mk. 5:19</b></p> </td> <td valign="top"> <p><b>Mk. 5:20</b></p> </td> </tr> <tr> <td valign="top"> <p>Go to thy&nbsp;<i>house</i></p> </td> <td valign="top"> <p>He goes to the<i>&nbsp;ten cities&nbsp;</i>[Decapolis]</p> </td> </tr> <tr> <td valign="top"> <p>unto thy&nbsp;<i>friends</i></p> </td> <td valign="top"> <p>He goes to&nbsp;<i>strangers</i></p> </td> </tr> <tr> <td valign="top"> <p><i>tell&nbsp;</i>them [Lk. 8:39 &ldquo;<i>show</i>&nbsp;them&rdquo;- by personal demonstration to individuals]</p> </td> <td valign="top"> <p>He &ldquo;<i>publishes</i>&rdquo;</p> </td> </tr> <tr> <td valign="top"> <p>how great things</p> </td> <td valign="top"> <p>how great things</p> </td> </tr> <tr> <td valign="top"> <p>the&nbsp;<i>Lord [i.e. God]</i>&nbsp;hath done for thee</p> </td> <td valign="top"> <p><i>Jesus&nbsp;</i>had done for him</p> </td> </tr> <tr> <td valign="top"> <p>and how he had mercy on thee.</p> </td> <td valign="top"> <p>[ignored]</p> </td> </tr> </tbody> </table> </div> <p></p> <p>The record of the commission given him and his obedience to it are clearly intended to be compared. The man went to strange cities, indeed he organized a whole preaching tour of ten cities- rather than going home and telling his immediate friends / family. And how true this is of us. It&rsquo;s so much easier to embark upon a campaign to strangers, to do &lsquo;mission work&rsquo;, to &lsquo;publish&rsquo; the Gospel loudly, rather than&nbsp;<i>tell</i>&nbsp;and<i> show</i>&nbsp;it to our immediate personal contacts. And we notice too how he omits to tell others of the Lord&rsquo;s merciful grace to him personally. Rather does he speak only of the material, the literality of the healing. And he tells others what Jesus had done for him, rather than take the Lord Jesus&rsquo; invitation to perceive the bigger picture in all this- that this was the hand of God. One wonders whether the disciples were commenting upon their own sense of inadequacy in their initial personal witness. The Lord told the cured demoniac to go back to his friends (Mk. 5:19) and family (Lk. 8:39) and witness to them. Clearly enough, the man didn&rsquo;t have any friends- for he had a history of violence and lived alone, many having tried unsuccessfully to bind him due to the grievous harm he must have inflicted upon many. Yet the man went out and preached to the whole area (Mk. 5:20). Was this just rank disobedience to what His Saviour Lord had just told him? Perhaps, due to unrestrained enthusiasm. But more likely is that the man now considered the whole world around him to be his family and friends, and therefore he witnessed to them. His care for others in desiring to witness to them flowed quite naturally from his experience of conversion at the Lord&rsquo;s hands.</p> <p>Mary&rsquo;s praise that &ldquo;He hath done to me great things&rdquo; is surely behind her Son&rsquo;s words in Lk. 8:39, where He bids Legion go home&quot; and shew how great things God hath done unto thee&quot;.&nbsp;Her eternal influence on her Son is a huge encouragement to all mothers. For the language of the risen Lord in Revelation has discernible links with language she used to Him in His infancy.</p> 235140911<p>9:1&nbsp;<em>And he entered into a boat and crossed over</em>- The Gospels record the Lord entering into a boat around 15 times. The visual image of Him entering the boat remained deeply with the Gospel writers. It's an incidental proof of the veracity of their records as eyewitness accounts. There must've been something about His body language as He climbed over the boat's side which lodged deeply within them. Perhaps because it is awkward for a man to climb over a boat's side, especially for one who had not grown up as a fisherman, messing with boats from childhood. Perhaps that proof of His utter humanity remained with them all, and is artlessly reflected in their later write-up of their time with Him.</p> <p><em>And came into his own city</em>- Another essay in the Lord's humanity. The same term is used about Joseph going to be taxed in &quot;his own city&quot; (Lk. 2:3).</p> 236140922<p>9:2&nbsp;<em>Behold</em>- AV and some manuscripts. Another encouragement for us to play 'Bible television' with the record, inviting us to 'Look' at Him, imagining the Lord in a particular situation which is being described.</p> <p><em>They brought to Him</em>- The term is also used of bringing a sacrifice to God, but in this case of the lame.&nbsp;<br /> <br /> <em>A paralysed man, lying on a bed</em>- The Greek&nbsp;<em>ballo</em>&nbsp;suggests they had thrown him onto the bed / stretcher in their haste to bring him to Jesus. &quot;Bed&quot; is Gk. a table or a couch. They had grabbed whatever could serve as a stretcher.<br /> <br /> <em>And Jesus seeing their faith said to the paralysed man- </em>This is emphasized in all the accounts of this incident. Because of the faith of third parties, the sins of this man were forgiven. James speaks of the same possibility (James 5:15- the same Greek words for &quot;sins&quot; and &quot;forgiven&quot; are used there). Here we have a principle which can totally affect the course and hourly practice of our lives. In some cases, the sins of others can be forgiven because of&nbsp;<em>our</em>&nbsp;faith. Job understood that when he offered for his sons after their wild parties. Of course there are invisible limits to the principle, but many of those with whom we have to do in church life are surely within those limits. Quite simply, the salvation of others depends to some extent and in some cases- upon our faith and prayers, and effort to get them to Jesus. This imparts huge and eternal significance to our lives, lived and prayed for others. The same Greek words for &quot;sins&quot; and &quot;forgiven&quot; are used again in the enigmatic Jn. 20:23: &quot;Whose soever sins you forgive, they are forgiven them&quot;. I suspect this is John's version of the great commission to preach the Gospel of forgiveness to others- the idea being that if we bring them to Jesus, then thanks to our efforts for them, they will be forgiven. And if we are slack to do this, then God may not always find another way, and their sins remain unforgiven. Prayer really does change things. God is willing to do things in the life of a third party (even forgive them) for the sake of the prayers and efforts of others. That man was healed for the sake of the faith of others. The widow woman&rsquo;s son was resurrected because God heard Elijah&rsquo;s faithful prayer (1 Kings 17:22).</p> <p><em>Son, be of good courage</em>- The same term is used later in the chapter, when the sick woman is told that because of&nbsp;<em>her</em>&nbsp;faith, she can be of good comfort because the Lord will heal her (9:22). Note too that the woman &quot;said within herself&quot; (Mt. 9:21), using the same phrase as used about the scribes talking 'within themselves' (9:3). The parallel in the situations is surely to underline the lesson- that the faith of&nbsp;<em>others</em>&nbsp;can be as effective as the faith of an individual in leading to healing and forgiveness.<br /> <br /> <em>Your sins are forgiven</em>- The Lord emphasized this first, and then went on to heal him physically. It's common for the sick and their carers to focus almost exclusively upon their need for healing, whereas the most essential human need is for forgiveness. So the Lord stressed the forgiveness first, and the healing secondly. Clearly there was a link in this case between sin and illness. It could be argued that the two things are connected as they both arise from the curse in Eden. But I would suggest that it's likely that in this case, the connection between the man's paralysis and his sin was more direct. We too often shrug at those in such situations and consider that 'it's their fault'. So it may be, but if a man digs a hole and falls into it, he's still in the hole. And we have all done this, and the Gospel was designed for us exactly because we have done that. There is an inevitable connection between this incident and Is. 33:24, where we read of the restored Zion that &quot;the inhabitant shall not say, I am sick: the people that dwell therein shall be forgiven their iniquity&quot;. The Lord is implying here as elsewhere that the prophecies of the restored Zion were to be fulfilled in the lives of individuals who had come to Him, and not in the literal glorification and exaltation of Jerusalem over the Roman occupiers.</p> 237140933<p>9:3&nbsp;<em>Behold-&nbsp;</em>AV and some MSS. We are invited to imagine the faces of those men, and likewise perceive as Jesus did what they were thinking within.</p> <p><em>Certain of the scribes said within themselves: This man blasphemes</em>- Consider the huge emphasis of the New Testament upon 'thinking / talking within oneself', especially within the Gospels. The same Greek phrase is used repeatedly:<br /> - &quot;Think not to say within yourselves&quot; (Mt. 3:9)<br /> - &quot;The scribes said within themselves&quot; (Mt. 9:3)<br /> - &quot;She said within herself&quot; (Mt. 9:21)<br /> - The believer who fails to grow spiritually has no root &quot;within himself&quot; (Mt. 13:21)<br /> - &quot;They reasoned within themselves... Why do you reason within yourselves...&quot; (Mt. 16:7,8)<br /> - &quot;The husbandmen... said within themselves&quot; (Mt. 21:38)<br /> - The disciples &quot;disputed within themselves&quot; (Mk. 9:33)<br /> - Have salt &quot;within yourselves&quot; (Mk. 9:50)<br /> - The Pharisee &quot;spake within himself&quot; (Lk. 7:39)<br /> - The guests &quot;began to say within themselves&quot; (Lk. 7:49)<br /> - The rich fool &quot;thought within himself, saying...&quot; (Lk. 12:17)<br /> - &quot;The steward said within himself&quot; (Lk. 16:3)<br /> - The unjust judge &quot;said within himself&quot; (Lk. 18:4)<br /> - Peter &quot;doubted in himself&quot; (Acts 10:17)<br /> - Jews who heard the Gospel &quot;reasoned within themselves&quot; (Acts 28:29 Gk.)<br /> - Israel &quot;through the lusts of their own hearts... dishonoured their bodies within themselves&quot; (Rom. 1:24)<br /> - &quot;Within yourselves... you have a better and enduring substance&quot; (Heb. 10:34)<br /> - &quot;Partial within yourselves, judges of evil thoughts&quot; (James 2:4).</p> <p>There are many other Bible verses which likewise speak of the internal state of a person and the significance of our self-talk- these are just examples of one Greek phrase. It is logical therefore to expect that the great adversary or 'satan' to be internal thinking, how we think and speak within ourselves. And properly understood, this is indeed what 'satan' in the Bible sometimes refers to.</p> <div>&nbsp;The Jews got caught up on the issue of whether Christ's forgiveness of others made Him God or not- just as some folk do today. His response was to refocus them on the fact that He wanted&nbsp;<em>you</em>&nbsp;to<em> know</em>&nbsp;that He had real power to forgive&nbsp;<em>their</em>&nbsp;sins (Lk. 5:24). I spend a lot of time arguing against the trinity and the 'Jesus = God' mentality. But the essence is, do we&nbsp;<em>know</em>&nbsp;on a personal level that the Lord Jesus really has the power to forgive&nbsp;<em>our</em>&nbsp;sins? <p></p> </div> 238140944<p>9:4&nbsp;<em>And Jesus knowing their thoughts</em>- Matthew says the same about the Lord in Mt. 12:25. Time and again, the Gospels record how He &ldquo;perceived&rdquo; things about people. Admittedly this could have been because He simply had a Holy Spirit gift to enable this. But I prefer to think that His sensitivity, His perception, aided by His extraordinary intellectual ability as the Son of God [for intelligence and perception / sensitivity are related]&hellip; these things developed within Him over the years so that He could sense the essential needs and feelings of others to an unsurpassed extent. &ldquo;Jesus, seeing their thoughts&hellip;&rdquo; (Mt. 9:4 RVmg.) shows how He came to perceive the hearts of others from His observation of them. This was the same Jesus who could be ridiculed into scorn / shame / embarrassment (Mt. 9:24), such was His sensitivity to others. This incident helps us to understand the ability of the mind / spirit of the Lord Jesus to connect with that of human beings. Mk. 2:8 puts it like this: &quot;Now immediately, when Jesus realized in his spirit that they were contemplating such thoughts, he said to them, &quot;Why are you thinking such things in your hearts?&quot; (NET Bible). The spirit / mind of Jesus was at one with the spirit / mind of those men. Such was His sensitivity. I don't think it was a gift of Holy Spirit knowledge so much as His sensitivity to the minds of men... and yet Rom. 8:16 calls Jesus &quot;The Spirit&quot; as a title, saying that He bears witness with our spirit / mind, in His intercession to the Father. So this incident in the Gospels gives us as it were an insight into how He&nbsp;<em>now</em>&nbsp;operates too... He's the same today as yesterday. He's at one with our mind / spirit, and also with the mind / Spirit of the Father. Thus is He such a matchless mediator. The way the Lord Jesus 'knew' things because of His extreme sensitivity, rather than necessarily by some flash of Holy Spirit insight, isn't unparalleled amongst other men. Elisha knew what Gehazi had done when Gehazi went back to ask Naaman for a reward- Elisha commented: &quot;Went not my heart with you, when the man turned again from his chariot to meet you?&quot; (2 Kings 5:26). Elisha imagined Naaman dismounting from his chariot, etc. And he could guess that the request had involved &quot;money... garments&quot; etc. That the Lord's knowledge wasn't necessarily automatic is reflected in the way we read things like &quot;When he saw their faith... when Jesus heard it...&quot; (Mk. 2:5,17). He 'saw' and knew things by the sensitivity of His perception.</p> <p><em>Said: Why do you think evil in your hearts?</em>- The Gk. means 'to ponder', to dwell upon- which is how the word is translated in its two other occurrences in the New Testament (Mt. 1:20; Acts 10:19). The human heart is a fountain of evil thoughts, but the sin is to dwell upon them as the Jews were doing. We note again how the root cause of the Jewish plot to murder the Son of God is located as attitudes within their hearts which grew into the final sin of the crucifixion.</p> <p>What evil did the Lord have in mind? The use of&nbsp;<em>poneros</em>&nbsp;here rather than any word carrying the idea of sin would suggest the Lord had a particular evil act in mind; and surely, He could foresee the evil of the crucifixion. He perceived that this was beginning as a jealous thought brooded upon within their minds. The Lord may have had the same idea in mind when He taught that the Jews would bring forth evil things from their evil hearts (Mt. 12:34,35). The 'evil things' may have been an intensive plural for the greatest evil- the crucifixion. A review of the passages listed in the commentary on 9:3 will reveal that He perceived it was the state of their mind which would lead them to kill Him; there is therefore a great appropriacy in the language of 'satan' being used about both the Jewish opposition, and the mind of the flesh.</p> 239140955<p>9:5&nbsp;<em>For which is easier to say</em>- Gk. 'less work'. The Lord meant 'Which is easier&nbsp;<em>for Me</em>'. There were plenty of claims to heal people; but to forgive sins was of a different order altogether. But the Lord is saying that for Him, they are one and the same; and that His healing was performed in this case on the basis of having forgiven the man his sin. Not only could He forgive sin, but in this case He could remove the consequence of it. For the Lord healed the man&nbsp;<em>so that</em>&nbsp;they would realize that He had power to forgive sins (:6).</p> <p><em>Your sins are forgiven, or, Arise and walk?</em>- The same words used by Peter when he tells the lame man to 'arise and walk' (Acts 3:6). Peter consciously or unconsciously replicated his Lord in doing healing miracles. The very body language and word choice of the Lord were so impressed upon him that they became the pattern for&nbsp;<em>his</em>&nbsp;ministry; and the same should be true of us. The paralyzed man of Jn. 5:8 was likewise told to arise, take up his bed and walk- using the same words used here about the paralyzed man. Clearly the Lord Jesus worked with people according to some pattern. And we can discern similar hallmarks of His work as we get to know each other within the body of Christ today, perceiving as we exchange stories and testimonies that the Lord in essence works in similar ways between human lives today.</p> <p>The disciples observed as Jesus made a lame man&nbsp;<em>arise</em>, take up his bed, and follow Him (Lk. 5:25). But in Acts 9:34, we find Peter doing just the same to Aeneas, even taking him by the hand as he had seen Jesus do to Jairus&rsquo; daughter. What Peter had seen and learnt of the Lord Jesus, he was now called to do. Not for nothing did he tell Aeneas that &ldquo;Jesus Christ maketh thee whole&rdquo;, thereby recognizing the connection between him and his Lord.</p> 240140966<p>9:6&nbsp;<em>But so you may know</em>- The reason for the healing miracle was to teach that He could forgive sins. This is why I suggest that in this man's case, his paralysis was a direct and publicly known result of his sin. Perhaps he had been alcoholic, or become paralyzed in an accident whilst stealing something. In this case his friends are to be commended for so wanting his healing, because many would have shrugged him off as someone who was suffering justly. The link between his illness and his sin was so clear that to heal him was seen as effectively forgiving him&nbsp;<em>and</em>&nbsp;removing the consequence of his sin. David, Moses and others often asked for the consequences of sin to be removed and at times received this. The palsied man was healed by the Lord in order to&nbsp;<em>teach others</em>&nbsp;that Jesus had the power to forgive sins. Job was a &ldquo;perfect&rdquo; man before the afflictions started; and he is presented as a &lsquo;perfect&rsquo; man at the end. The purpose of his trials was not only to develop him, but also in order to teach the friends [and we readers] some lessons. The purpose of our trials too may not only be for our benefit, but for that of others. If we suffer anything, it is so that we might help others (2 Cor. 1:4). He didn&rsquo;t&nbsp;<em>only</em>&nbsp;reward the faith of the man&rsquo;s friends; His motive for the miracle was to seek to teach those Scribes. Our tendency surely would have been to ignore them, to be angry that in the face of grace they could be so legalistic and petty and so far, far from God... and get on and heal the sick man who believed. But the Lord&rsquo;s picture of human salvation was far wider and more inclusive and more hopeful than that.</p> <p><em>That the Son of Man</em>- The humanity of Jesus was the very basis upon which He could and can forgive human sin. This is why 9:8 records that the crowds praised God for having given such power&nbsp;<em>unto men</em>. He understood Himself as rightful judge of humanity exactly because He was &quot;son of man&quot; (Jn. 5:27)- because every time we sin, He as a man would've chosen differently, He is therefore able to be our judge. And likewise, exactly because He was a &quot;son of man&quot;, &quot;the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins&quot; (Mk. 2:10). If it is indeed true that &quot;'Son of Man' represents the highest conceivable declaration of exaltation in Judaism&quot;, then we can understand the play on words the Lord was making- for the term 'son of man' can also without doubt just mean 'humanity generally'. Exactly because He was human, and yet perfect, He was so exalted.</p> <p><em>Has authority on earth to forgive sins-</em>&nbsp;He had that power during His mortal life, and yet after His resurrection &quot;<em>all</em>&nbsp;power is given unto Me in Heaven and in earth&quot; (Mt. 28:18). His power to save and forgive is therefore even greater. Perhaps the contrast was that He had the power of forgiveness delegated to Him in specific cases during His ministry, but after the resurrection He had power in His own right to forgive, not on the basis of delegated power but power / authority in His own Name; even though that exalted position was of course given Him by God the Father.</p> <p><em>He then said to the paralytic</em>- As if He turned from the Jews to the paralyzed man. It could be that the healing was really for the benefit of the hard hearted scribes- the Lord was going to all this trouble to try to persuade them of His authority as God's Son. We would likely have given up with them, but the way the Lord kept on trying with the orthodox Jews of His day is an essay in perseverance in witnessing. And amazingly, it paid off- in that a number of priests and Pharisees were baptized after His resurrection (Acts 6:7; 15:5).</p> <p><em>Arise, take up your bed-&nbsp;</em>The same word is used for taking up the cross (Mt. 16:24), and the Greek for &quot;bed&quot; is also translated a table or couch. He was to pick up a piece of wood and go his way. He was given a simple task of obedience immediately after meeting with Jesus, and we can see that pattern repeated in how the Lord works with people today.</p> <p><em>And go to your house-&nbsp;</em>The Lord was sensitive to the situation of those He healed or converted. Just as He commanded the resurrected girl to be given something to eat, so He realized the pressure that would be on the healed man- and so He told him to go home immediately and thus avoid the limelight.</p> 241140977<p>9:7&nbsp;<em>And he arose and departed to his house</em>- Emphasizing his exact and studied obedience to the Lord's command to Him in :6.</p> 242140988<p>9:8&nbsp;<em>But when the crowds saw it</em>- A word used about 150 times in the Gospel records. The crowds were a major feature of the Lord's ministry, and they must have been a great trial to Him. We sense Him seeking to avoid them, to stop them gathering, and yet being so compassionate towards them, despite their often superficial grasp of His works and message. It makes an interesting exercise to consider whether on balance the Gospel writers take a positive view of the crowds or not. John seems to be more negative about them, whereas Matthew seems to emphasize their wonder, naivety, weak understanding and fickleness. But all the Gospels seem to present a clear pyramid structure beginning with Jesus, then an inner circle of disciples, then the twelve, then the crowds, and then the unbelieving, aggressive Jewish leadership. There are certainly similarities with Moses on Sinai and in his relationship with Israel, but they cannot be pushed too precisely. The crowd here in Mt. 9:8 is contrasted favourably with the Scribes- the opening &quot;But...&quot; suggests that they marvelled at the Lord's authority, whereas some of the Scribes became bitterly jealous.</p> <p><em>They were afraid and glorified God, who had given such authority to men</em>- See on 9:6&nbsp;<em>Son of Man</em>. There may be significance in the plural&nbsp;<em>men</em>&nbsp;rather than&nbsp;<em>a man</em>. They marvelled that one of them could have such power to forgive and remove the consequences of sin. It is all an essay in the Lord's evident humanity.</p> 243140999<p>9:9- see on 4:16.</p> <p><em>And as Jesus left there he saw a man-&nbsp;</em>Towards Matthew, the author of the account. Such close up detail makes sense if this is indeed an eyewitness account. It's almost as if Matthew had a video camera on his desk and captures the Lord walking towards him after healing the paralyzed man.</p> <p><em>Called Matthew-&nbsp;</em>Matthew&rsquo;s preaching of the Gospel makes reference to himself as if he had no personal awareness of himself as he recounted his part in the Gospel events. Whilst personal testimony has a role, the Gospel is about Jesus and therefore &quot;we preach not ourselves&quot; but Christ as Lord and Saviour. If the focus is upon us rather than Him, then we are failing dismally. The humility of the Gospel writers when they refer to themselves is highly instructive. There is reason to believe that Matthew was himself a converted Scribe, who had perhaps turned away from it to being a tax collector; the way he has access to various versions of Scripture and quotes them as having been fulfilled in a way reminiscent of the Jewish commentaries (compare Mt. 4:12-17 with Mk. 1:14,15) suggests this. Matthew's other name was Levi (see Mark and Luke's record), strengthening the possibility he was once a Levitical scribe; for the scribes were drawn from the priests and Levites. The point is that in this case Matthew would be referring to himself when he writes: &ldquo;Every scribe who has become a disciple of the kingdom of heaven is like a householder who brings out of his treasure things new and old&rdquo; (Mt. 13:52). Yet he does so in a beautifully oblique and selfless manner. The Scribes have just been mentioned in the previous incident, which apparently took place within sight of Matthew's desk (9:3).</p> <p><em>Sitting at the&nbsp;tax office</em>- It's hard to grasp the degree to which tax collectors were despised and distrusted. We may at times think that we need to show our best front personally when preaching the Gospel, to display our credentials, in order to persuade others of our message. Matthew thought otherwise. He was quite open about who he had been when he was called. Human credentials do not ultimately persuade men and women of Christ- a degree in theology, knowledge of Hebrew or Greek, academic status, a stable career, an externally spotless family history. Rather do the Gospels show us that it is those from questionable backgrounds who are chosen by the Lord as His most effective messengers. The content of the message ultimately far outweighs the credibility of the messenger. And the same is seen today in the preaching of the Gospel.&nbsp;<br /> <br /> It was whilst he was at work that he was called, just as the other disciples were called exactly whilst they were about their fishing business, and like Matthew, left all and &quot;followed&quot; the Lord. This is when the call of Christ comes to us- in the very midst of secular life, rather than resting at home looking at a screen.<br /> <br /> <em>And he said to him: Follow me</em>- The Greek means to share the same road with. And the road or way of Jesus led to Jerusalem, to the death of the cross, and then to life eternal. The word is used about 80 times in the Gospels. The call was to follow Jesus; the crowds followed, the disciples followed, but often the Lord tries to teach them the difference between merely externally following Him on the same public road, and following Him as He intends; which is to carry a cross and follow Him to Golgotha. We who follow Him in our life situations today are in essence continuing the following of Him which began in those early days in Galilee. But we likewise are challenged as to whether our following is mere membership of a denomination, or a personal following of Him.&nbsp;<br /> <br /> <em>And he arose and followed him</em>- Exactly as he had just observed the paralyzed man obediently arise and go where the Lord told him (9:6- another example of Matthew highlighting immediate response to the Lord's call). It's as if Matthew saw himself in that paralyzed man. As the man was laying on the 'bed', so Matthew was sitting 'on' the receipt of custom, the elevated chair and desk (<em>epi</em>, translated &quot;at&quot;, is better translated in this context &quot;on&quot;). The Lord spoke with &quot;authority&quot; in the eyes of the people- so that a man arose and followed Him. What gave Him this? Surely it was His lifestyle, who He was, the way there was no gap between His words and who He was. The word of the Gospel, the message, was made flesh in Him. There was a perfect congruence between His theory and His practice. The repeated amazement which people expressed at the Lord's teaching may not only refer to the actual content of His material; but more at the way in which He expressed it, the unique way in which word was made flesh in Him. The way the Lord could ask men to follow Him, and they arose and followed is surely testimony to the absolute, direct and unaccountable authority of Jesus. It was surely His very ordinariness which made Him so compelling. &nbsp;</p> 24414091010<p>9:10&nbsp;<em>And it came to pass, as he sat eating in the house</em>- Matthew's record is purposefully ambiguous. Whose house? His own house, where He was living? For Capernaum is called &quot;his own city&quot; at that time (9:1). Or the house to which the healed paralytic had returned (9:6)? Or Matthew's house? However, the other Gospels say that the house was Matthews, and the presence of other publicans supports that. We note Matthew's humility in his recounting of the Gospel, that he leaves the identity of the house vague. He had no desire to boast that he had once hosted Jesus within his private home. Humility and self-abnegation must really be the lead characteristics of all tellers of the Gospel.</p> <p><em>Many tax collectors and sinners came and sat down with Jesus and his disciples</em>- Clearly the associates of Matthew. They came and sat down with Jesus whilst He was eating. And He accepted them. See the digression about the significance of eating together, and the Lord's open table. Lk. 5:30 RVmg. describes how publicans and sinners had Pharisees and Scribes among them as they all sat at the same table gathered around Jesus. There was something in His person and teaching which welded people together.&nbsp;</p> 24514091111<p>9:11 <em>And when the Pharisees saw it, they said to his disciples: Why does your Teacher eat with the tax collectors and sinners?</em>- To break your bread with someone, to eat together, was a religious act in Palestinian Jewish society. The Lord broke His bread with sinners in order to bring them to repentance; not because He considered they had cleared some kind of bar of moral and doctrinal acceptability. His table was open, radically so, and so should ours be.</p> 24614091212<p>9:12&nbsp;<em>But when he heard it, he said</em>- Did He overhear? Or simply perceive, as in 9:4?</p> <p><em>They that are sick need a doctor</em>- Literally, a healer. The same word is used of how &quot;by his stripes you were healed&quot; (1 Pet. 2:24). All who will finally be saved have been healed by Jesus. Therefore &quot;they that be whole&quot; must be understood as meaning 'those who&nbsp;<em>think they are</em>&nbsp;whole'. The Lord's healing work was done by fellowshipping with those who realized their need for healing. He broke His bread with them first; He didn't heal them and then invite only the healed to His exclusive table. This breaking of bread with them was a 'calling to repentance' (9:13). The many records of the Lord's physical healing were all intended to be acted parables of His healing of spiritual sickness<br /> <br /> <em>Not they that are healthy</em>- The Greek word is usually translated with the sense of 'being able'. The Lord's work was with them who felt&nbsp;<em>unable</em>&nbsp;to be righteous, who felt that circumstance and past history had left them spiritually incapacitated.<br /> <br /> Perception of need and spiritual helplessness is the vital prerequisite. The Lord healed &quot;them that had need of healing&quot; (Lk. 9:11), those who perceived their need. The Lord uses the same word in speaking of how He doesn't go find and save those &quot;which need no repentance&quot; (Lk. 15:11); again, an ellipsis must be read in: 'Those who&nbsp;<em>think they</em>&nbsp;need no repentance'. And again in Rev. 3:17- the Laodiceans thought that they &quot;had need of nothing&quot;. This, therefore, was a major concern of the Lord- that we cease to perceive our need for Him. The attitude that 'I have no need...' is picked up by Paul in 1 Cor. 12:21,24, where he warns against thinking that we have no need of weaker members of the body of Christ. Our need for Christ personally is to be reflected in practice in our need for association with His body, however weak we feel it to be. God supplies all our need in Christ (Phil. 4:19), but that supplying of our need is not solely in the death of Christ for us, but in the body of Christ.&nbsp;</p> 24714091313<div>9:13&nbsp;<em>Go</em>- The Lord was telling them to literally get out of the house, and do some Bible study. Of course, the Pharisees spent their time doing this. The Lord's point was that if they really meditated upon the implications of God's love of grace over sacrifice, then they would understand that it is therefore actually necessary to eat with sinners to call them to repentance.</div> <div><em>And learn</em>- The Pharisees saw themselves as only teachers, not pupils. The Lord had diagnosed this problem, for He told them as a teacher would tell a pupil: &ldquo;Go ye and learn what that means...&rdquo;. He sent them away to do some homework. And there is a warning for speaking brethren here; the repeated experience of teaching can take away from the eternal sense of student-ship which the true believer will ever feel.</div> <div><br /> <em>What this means</em>- Literally, 'what is'. The same two Greek words have just been on the Lord's lips to the Scribes- &quot;<em>What is</em>&nbsp;easier...&quot; (9:5). Capernaum was a small place, and probably the incidents recorded in Matthew 9 featured the same group of opponents.&nbsp;<br /> <br /> <em>I desire mercy and not sacrifice</em>- This was some kind of proof text for the Lord, for He says exactly the same words in Mt. 12:7: &quot;If you had known what this means, I will have mercy and not sacrifice, you would not have condemned the guiltless&quot;. The context of Hos. 6:6 (from where the Lord was quoting) was of God appealing to a deeply apostate Israel through the situation of Hosea and Gomer. He appeals for her to show&nbsp;<em>chesed</em>, covenant love (&quot;mercy&quot;), and not just give the external appearances of a marriage relationship (cp. offering sacrifices). Here in the Capernaum incident, the Lord is saying that He fellowships with sinners because God loves the display of grace rather than technical obedience. If God wishes&nbsp;<em>chesed</em>, covenant love, from us, then how do we show it? By fellowshipping with sinners and thereby calling them to repentance. The love which God wishes us to show to Him is channelled in practice through calling others to repentance. For that is the greatest display of love for Him. And if that principle is followed, then we will be lead through the practice of such grace to never condemn the guiltless (this is how the Lord uses&nbsp;Hos. 6:6 in Mt. 12:7).&nbsp;<br /> <br /> <em>I came not to call</em>- It was the disciples, including Matthew, who had only recently been 'called' (Mt. 4:21). Matthew again is showing that he considered himself a sinner, one of the sick who needed a doctor.&nbsp;<br /> <i><br /> <em>The righteous</em></i>- Those who&nbsp;<em>thought they were</em>&nbsp;righteous.</div> <p><em>But sinners to repentance</em>- AV and some MSS. The fellowship of the Lord Jesus was a call towards repentance, not a reward for it. See on 3:11; John baptized people&nbsp;<em>unto</em>&nbsp;repentance. The methods of the Lord should be ours, for having spent His ministry doing this, He transferred it to us in bidding us likewise go worldwide and call others to repentance (Lk. 24:47).&nbsp;</p> 24814091414<p>9:14&nbsp;<em>Then the disciples of John came to him, saying</em>- Was this also in Capernaum? If so, we note that John's influence had spread as far north as Galilee. In any case, the impression is given of wave after wave of questioning, activity, controversy. It would've all been so mentally draining of the Lord's spirituality and emotions.</p> <p><em>Why do we and the Pharisees often fast</em>- The Greek for 'often' can just as well mean 'largely', i.e. they abstained from food for long periods.&nbsp;<br /> <br /> <em>But your disciples do not fast?</em>- Implying they didn't even do so at the Day of Atonement, the one Biblical command for fasting? The Lord's disciples were mostly secular men whom He was trying to turn into spiritual people. And this continues to be the thrust of His work with people. The focus of our preaching should likewise be on getting unspiritual, secular people to believe, rather than focusing on trying to persuade those who already believe in Him to change their understandings of some points. I don't say we shouldn't do this, but far more will be achieved to His glory by bringing unbelievers to faith, rather than correcting misbelievers. Another reason why John's disciples thought the Lord's men didn't fast could have been because they took seriously His command to not appear to others to fast. And John's disciples proclaiming their fasting meant they were overlooking the Lord's clear teaching&nbsp;<em>not</em>&nbsp;to do this in the Sermon on the Mount. But in His gracious way, the Lord didn't point out the obvious&nbsp;<em>faux pas</em>&nbsp;in their reasoning. He could've said 'John told you to obey Me. I teach not to proclaim your own fasting. Why aren't you obedient to My teaching?'. But instead He reasoned with them on their own ground. And again, we see a pattern for our engagement with others- not to always baldly confront misunderstanding and reduce it to a right / wrong, black and white issue, but to lead the person further by accepting for a moment that their faulty assumptions are true; for they are true to the person who holds them, and the Lord recognized that.</p> <p>We also see the Lord's gentle grace in teaching His disciples how to fast, acting as if they were not fasting; when actually they never fasted at all until that point. He wanted them to continue showing themselves to be secular men, who really believed in Jesus. This had been exactly His approach until age 30, to manifest God's perfection through the shroud of ordinariness.</p> 24914091515<p>9:15&nbsp;<em>And Jesus said to them: Can the sons of the bride chamber</em>- John had likened himself to the Lord's best man at a forthcoming wedding. The Lord phrases his reply to John's disciples in terms they would've understood- a pattern for us to follow in our response to people. Note too that the Lord's answer implied that His wedding was about to happen. He hoped against hope that Israel would respond, and the Messianic banquet would be soon. But in His later parables, He spoke of how even the guests couldn't be bothered to attend it; it was delayed until human response was suitable. But His hopefulness for human response is again a pattern for us, to have a hopeful attitude in our witness.</p> <p><em>Mourn while the bridegroom is with them?</em>- The joy of the bridegroom's friends is a sharing of the groom's joy. John's Gospel records this truth in a different way when speaking of how the Lord's joy is to be our joy (Jn. 15:11; 17:13); at His return, we will enter into His joy (Mt. 25:21). We note again how the Lord phrased His response to John's disciples in terms they would best relate to- for John had said that his joy was complete, because he was 'the friend of the bridegroom' (Jn. 3:29). The Lord here in Mt. 9:15 is saying that His disciples are also friends of the bridegroom- He is seeking to persuade John's disciples that actually His disciples are the same as they are, notwithstanding differences in spiritual culture, in that they are related to Jesus in the same way, as friends of the groom. The Lord was always very positive about His followers. He explained their lack of fasting on their joy at the forthcoming Messianic banquet, when in reality their lack of fasting was because they were secular, non-religious people. The Lord wasn&rsquo;t na&iuml;ve, although He was so positive. He told the disciples quite frankly that they were full of &ldquo;unbelief&rdquo;, and couldn&rsquo;t do miracles which He expected them to because they didn&rsquo;t pray and fast (Mt. 17:19-21). And yet when quizzed by the Pharisees as to why His disciples didn&rsquo;t fast, He said it was because they were so happy to be with Him, the bridegroom (Mt. 9:15). Here surely He was seeing the best in them. They come over as confused, mixed up men who wanted the Kingdom there and then and were frustrated at the Lord&rsquo;s inaction in establishing it. But He saw that they recognised Him as the bridegroom, as Messiah, and He exalted in this, and saw their lack of fasting as partly due to the deep-down joy which He knew they had.<br /> <br /> <em>But the days will come, when the bridegroom shall be</em>- Not necessarily plural- s.w. &quot;the day&quot; (Mt. 6:34; 10:15), &quot;that day&quot; (Mt. 7:22)<br /> <br /> <em>Taken away from them, and then they will fast</em>- The Gk.&nbsp;<em>apairo</em>&nbsp;is a form of the Greek&nbsp;<em>pairo</em>&nbsp;which has just been used in 9:6 (&quot;<em>take up</em>&nbsp;your bed&quot;) and which is now used in the next verse about the new cloth 'taking from' the old garment (9:16). What exactly the connection of thought might be is hard to say. But clearly the 'taking of Jesus from' the disciples was to be at the same time as when the new wine and new cloth were available, which would 'take from' the old cloth in destroying it. This time was surely the death of the Lord Jesus, at which the new wine of His blood confirmed the new covenant and thus ended the old. It was then of course that the disciples mourned (s.w. Mk. 16:10 &quot;they&nbsp;<em>mourned</em>&nbsp;and wept&quot;); and the same Greek word for 'taken from' occurs in Jn. 19:15 where the Jews cry &quot;Away with Him!&quot;- to the cross; in Jn. 19:31,38 where the body of Jesus is 'taken from' the cross and in Acts 8:33 &quot;His life is&nbsp;<em>taken from</em>&nbsp;the earth&quot;. Significantly, Col. 2:14 uses the word to describe how on the cross, Christ 'took away' the old covenant. This is the idea of its usage in Mt. 9:16, that the new wine and new garment would 'take from / away' the old. And it was achieved by the 'taking away' of Jesus at the cross. Through the grace of Jesus, He is in love with us; He has called us to be His bride. He sees us in an extremely positive light. He counts us as righteous to a degree that is a real struggle to believe- even during His ministry, &quot;when we were yet sinners&quot;, and when the only example He had of His bride were those faltering 12. He tells the Jews that&nbsp;His people will fast and mourn for His absence after His departure, with the intensity that the friends of the bridegroom would have if the groom suddenly collapsed and died at the wedding (this seems to be the picture of Mt. 9:15, seeing &quot;taken away&quot; as an idiom for sudden death). This is surely a positive view of the sorrow of the body of Christ for their Lord's absence. Even if we see in this mini-parable only a description of the disciples' sorrow after the&nbsp;Lord's death, He is giving a very positive description of the disciples' joy, saying that they didn't fast for joy of being with Him; He describes their joy as the joy of the friends of the groom at the wedding. Yet the Gospels paint the twelve as a struggling, uncertain group of men, eaten up with the petty arguments of this life, unused to the self-control of fasting. Peter, for example, had until very recently been a possibly immoral young fisherman (1 Pet. 4:3).&nbsp;The happiness of the disciples is explained in terms of them being at a wedding. The happiness of the wedding is normally associated with alcohol, and the context of Mt. 9:15 goes on to explain that Christ's new covenant is symbolised by new wine. The difference between John's disciples and Christ's was that Christ's were full of the joy of the new covenant. But there is ample reason to think that they were heavily influenced by Judaist thinking; they didn't go and preach to the Gentile world as Christ commanded, and even Peter was marvellously slow to realize the Jewish food laws had been ended by Christ, despite the Lord's strong implication of this in Mk. 7:19 (not AV). Yet the grace of Jesus saw His men&nbsp;<em>as if</em>&nbsp;they had grasped the meaning of the new covenant,&nbsp;<em>as if</em>&nbsp;they had the joy of true faith in and understanding of His work; and He spoke of them to the world in these terms. We can take untold comfort from this; for we dare to believe that the Lord does and will confess our name (character) in a like exalted manner to the Father and His Angels.</p> <p>There seems to be the idea that fasting was somehow part of the Mosaic system that we have now left behind. Yet the Sermon on the Mount clearly implies that the Lord saw fasting as part of the path of discipleship (Mt. 6:16-18). And there are many examples of fasting in the Old Testament that are quite unconnected with obedience to the Law. When the bridegroom is away, then we will fast [by implication, for His return- Mt. 9:15]. Try it, that's all I can say. Just start by going without some meals. Use the time and the natural desire to eat to increase the poignancy of the special requests you are making. Is. 58:4 RV says that fasting makes &ldquo;your voice to be heard on high&rdquo;. Yet the essence of fasting is to take us out of our comfort zone. We human beings have a great tendency to form habits in order to create or keep us within the comfort zone. Yet truly creative thinking and action, not to say true obedience to the call of Christ, all occur outside of the comfort zone. Fasting is only one of many ways to go outside of it. Take a different route home from work; describe your faith to yourself in terms and language you wouldn't usually use. Pray at different times, bring before the Lord the most banal things you usually wouldn't dream of talking with Him about.</p> <p>Time and again, the Lord uses language about the restoration from exile and applies it to Himself. Thus fasting was common amongst Palestinian Jews of His time, and it was involved with mourning the destruction of the temple and Judah's submission to Rome. And yet the Lord pronounced that the days of fasting were over, and His people were to be feasting because of His work. But He brought no freedom from Rome, and spoke of the principles of the Messianic Kingdom as being non-resistance to evil rather than military resistance to it. He spoke of Yahweh as 'visiting' His people- but not to save them as they expected, but rather to judge them, with Messiah on His behalf at the head of the Roman armies who would come to destroy Jerusalem and the temple. And thus Jesus deeply disappointed people who didn't want to change their self-centred, nationalistic outlook- those who didn't want to see things spiritually rather than naturally, those who refused to accept the extent of Israel's sin.</p> 25014091616<p>9:16&nbsp;<em>No one puts a piece of unshrunk cloth</em>- The stress may be on &quot;a&nbsp;<em>piece</em>&quot;. Taking parts of Christ's teachings was the temptation being given in to by John's disciples (9:14 and see note there on&nbsp;<em>fast not</em>). The torn old garment had to be thrown away and the new one totally accepted and publicly worn. The Greek for &quot;new&quot; is not the same as in &quot;new wine&quot; in :17. Here the word means not dressed, not worked by a dressmaker. The only other time the related word occurs is in Mk. 9:3 concerning the clothes of Jesus not having been worked by a dressmaker (AV &quot;fuller&quot;). The Lord Jesus presents Himself here as raw, fresh, unworked to suite the appearance of men.&nbsp;</p> <p>To get a piece out of a new garment, that new garment would be spoiled; and the old one likewise would be rent further (Mt., Mk.). &quot;New&quot;&nbsp;cloth refers to cloth which hasn't yet been washed; on first washing of the new garment, it would shrink, and thus make a tear. The tragic waste envisioned here is like the new wine running away on the ground from the burst old bottles. Likewise the old wine skins would've had to have the old wine poured out from them to have this new wine put into them. Mixing the old life and the new covenant, a bit of the one here and a bit of the other there, results in this tragic wastage all around. The parables make it seem so obvious that this isn't the way to go; but in reality, we find it hard to be so complete in our devotion to the new covenant.</p> <p>The unrent garment is that of Christ- the same Greek words are used about the fact that His garment was not rent at His death (Jn. 19:24). Division both within ourselves and within the community is caused by partial response to the new covenant; mixing grace with legalism; it is a rending of Christ's garment, cutting out just a part of it and mixing it with the old way. An old garment that is torn can't be mended by anything new- it must be thrown out and a new garment accepted. The Mosaic system is described as an old garment in Heb. 1:11; it &quot;shall perish&quot; uses the same Greek word as in 5:37, where the bottles &quot;perish&quot;. The new garment of Christ is unrent. We are each clothed with the white garment of Christ's imputed righteousness (Rev. 19:8; Mt. 22:11); by dividing with each other we are seeking to rend and thereby destroy that covering. &quot;New&quot; translates a different Greek word than that which in the parallel Mt. 9:16 and Mk. 2:21 is translated &quot;new&quot;. The word there means something which has not been carded. &quot;<em>Agnaphos</em>&nbsp;is a combination of the negative article&nbsp;<em>a</em>, with&nbsp;<em>knapto</em>, meaning, &quot;to card&quot;.&nbsp; It is sometimes translated undressed, uncombed or, as above, unfinished, and refers to wool or cotton cloth that has not been carded or combed so that the fibres are aligned, giving it both strength and a smoother, more finished appearance&quot;.&nbsp; This suggests that the New Covenant is an unfinished work, God's work in us is ongoing and may take apparently unstable turns and changes- e.g. prophecy is often conditional, the intended timing of Christ's return has and may yet still change, dependent upon factors like the freewill repentance of Israel; God may plan one line of possibility for someone or a whole nation, e.g. Nineveh or Israel at the time of Moses- but change His stated intention in response to human prayer and repentance. This open-ended approach simply can't be squared with the &quot;old&quot; set-in-stone approach of the Old Covenant. The same message is taught by the next parable-&nbsp;<em>new</em>&nbsp;wineskins are required, because the New Covenant wine is fermenting, they need to be soft and flexible enough to change; if they are old and set, they will burst because of the movement and dynamism of the new wine. The wine of the Lord Jesus is therefore not about tradition, about a set pattern; but is rather a call to constant change and evolution. Yet paradoxically, religious people become set in their ways more than any, and seek stability in those traditions; whereas the activity of the Lord Jesus is the very opposite.&nbsp;<br /> <br /> <em>Onto an old garment</em>- The same phrase is used to describe the Mosaic system in Heb. 1:11.</p> <p><em>For the patch tears away from the garment, and a worse tear is made-&nbsp; </em>AV and some MSS: <em>That which is put in to fill it</em>- This translates one Greek word,&nbsp;<em>pleroma</em>, which is elsewhere simply translated 'to fulfil' and refers to the fulfilment of the Law in Christ and &quot;the fullness of Christ&quot; (Eph. 4:13).&nbsp;<br /> <br /> <em>Takes from</em>- Gk. to separate, divide. The encounter with Christ means that ultimately there can be no brinkmanship in remaining partly with the old way, be it the Mosaic way or the way of secular modern life, and partly in the Lord's way. There will only be a painful and messy division in the end.<br /> <br /> <em>The rent </em>[NEV &quot;tear&quot;]- Gk.&nbsp;<em>schisma</em>, used elsewhere about divisions between people, especially the Jews, concerning Christ (e.g. Jn. 7:43; 9:16). We note the contrast with unrent, untorn garment of the Lord Jesus which even in His death was not rent. Acceptance of the way of Christ means that there will come schism with the old; and more positively, seamless unity is only possible between those who have totally given their lives and way of thinking to Him and His way.<br /> <br /> <em>Is made worse</em>- The word and its NT usage has a moral sense. The division is made more evil. In the context, the Lord was addressing John's disciples who had come under the influence of the Pharisees (9:14). He is saying that they must fully commit to Him, or else the schism between them and the Jews and them and Himself will only become worse and more destructive. There could be no middle way between Christ and orthodox Judaism; the early church tried it, as the NT letters demonstrate, but in the end, it came to a sad and bitter end, and the permanent division of the garment. And this is how all schisms go- unless there is a wholehearted acceptance of Jesus and His teachings, the end finally will be a bitter, destructive rending. The pre-existing, initial schism between persons (cp. that between John's disciples and Christ) will only be made worse unless there is a total surrender to the Lord's ways. In all the unhappy church history which most of us have experienced, that is proved true time and again. Likewise there are those who seek to hide their faith in societies and social situations where it is costly to go Christ's way; but ultimately, they have to choose one way or the other. The rent is made worse. A city set on a hill cannot be hid by its nature.</p> 25114091717<p>9:17<em> Neither do men pour new wine into old wineskins</em>- A clear reference to Christ's blood of the new covenant.</p> <p><em>If they do, the skins will burst</em>- Gk. to shatter, divide. The context is of John's disciples uniting with the Pharisees against the disciples of Jesus. He's saying that if His new wine is not totally accepted, if it is mixed with the old, then lives will be destroyed through further schism. The only basis for avoiding schism is a total acceptance by all parties of the blood of the new covenant.&nbsp;<br /> <br /> <em>The wine will run out</em>- S.w. &quot;shed&quot; (Lk. 20:20). Especially significant is the reference in Mt. 26:28 to Christ's blood of the&nbsp;<em>new</em>&nbsp;covenant being &quot;shed&quot;. Failed spiritual life, the life which only partially accepts the new wine of Christ but refuses to change, refusing to be new containers for it, results in the blood of Christ being as it were shed, the blood of Calvary wasted in the dust, and Christ crucified afresh by our apostasy (Heb. 6:6). This is the final tragedy of refusing to change upon receipt of the new wine.<br /> <br /> <em>And the wineskins will be ruined</em>- The point is twice emphasized. The bottles are 'broken' or shattered, and they also &quot;perish&quot;. The word is used of the final destruction in condemnation at the last day (Mt. 10:28,39; 16:25; Jn. 3:15). The lives of the untransformed recipients of the new wine are shattered (&quot;break&quot;) and then finally they are destroyed in final condemnation.&nbsp;</p> <p><em>No, they pour new wine into new wineskins</em>- Wine skins were made of goat skin. The goats speak of the rejected, the sinners, in the parable of the sheep and goats. The wine skins may therefore speak of our flesh of sin. It's no sin to be a human being and have human flesh, but because of the nature of the new wine, we must become wholly new- or we will be destroyed. The new wine fermented powerfully- similar to the Lord describing His Gospel as yeast which works through flour (Lk. 13:21). The new covenant will work powerfully in us if we let it, and our skins, the life structure we have, must be prepared to accept that. Each wineskin expanded slightly differently in response to the fermenting of the new wine poured into it; no two wineskins expanded to an identical shape or form. We too will individually and uniquely respond to the new wine.&nbsp;<br /> <br /> <em>And both are preserved</em>- The loss is not only to the untransformed person. There is also a loss and damage to the new wine, the Lord Jesus. He is not undamaged by the loss of any of His people. Their failure is His re-crucifixion, the pouring out again of His blood, but in vain. All this signals the danger of not being totally transformed after having received the Truth. Interestingly, a form of the Greek&nbsp;<em>suntereo</em>&nbsp;[&quot;preserved&quot;] is used in Jn. 2:10, where it is noted that the Lord Jesus&nbsp;<em>kept</em>&nbsp;[Gk.&nbsp;<em>tereo</em>] the best wine.&nbsp;<em>Tereo</em>&nbsp;is frequently on the lips of the Lord in John's Gospel (and is widely used by John in his letters), in the context of 'keeping' His word. But this is done by totally surrendering human life to be a vessel totally devoted to the new wine we have received, rather than steel willed, nail-biting, white-knuckled struggle for obedience to specific laws.<br /> <br /> Luke's record adds that the Lord concluded by observing that &quot;No man also having drunk old wine immediately desires new: for he says [deep within himself], The old is better&quot; (Lk. 5:39). This appears to be a concession to the weakness of John's disciples, and to our weakness. Having taught that unless we are transformed, we shall shatter and be destroyed / condemned, the Lord accepts the basic conservatism of human nature- that we will not make the change immediately. There was indeed a changeover period between the Lord's death and the destruction of the temple in AD70. And in human lives today, the Lord recognizes that the total change of life will not come immediately- because we are essentially conservative. In seeking to make the total transformation, we ourselves must realize that however progressive, liberal, flexible, open to new ideas we think we are- when it comes to spiritual change, we are terribly conservative. And it is such unbridled conservatism which stops people changing and accepting the new wine. There is the assumption in many Christian groups and minds that conservative = righteous, and change is likely to be for the worst. And yet the Lord is teaching that it is our native conservatism which stops the vital, transforming change which is necessary to avoid the shattering of life and personality now, and final destruction at judgment day. The Lord here recognizes the basic conservatism of human nature; even those who consider themselves &quot;liberal&quot; are often only so in comparison to others, in relative terms- we are all in fact basically conservative. We stick with what we know and don't easily go outside our comfort zone of the old and familiar. We all find change hard; new wineskins are able to be stretched. He was perhaps, in the context, making some apology for John's disciples, who still couldn't fully allow themselves to be filled with the new covenant wine. The Gospel of Jesus is all about change and being stretched; and He recognizes that we find this so very difficult. People do not immediately / quickly respond to the new wine of the new covenant because, the Lord piercingly observed, they think the old was better (Lk. 5:39). He perceived, with His amazing penetration of the human psyche, that there is a conservatism deep within us all that militates against the immediate response to Him and the new wine of His blood / sacrifice which He so seeks. Yet once we have made this immediate response in a few things, it becomes easier to get into an upward spiral of response to Him. We become truly a new creation in Him, breaking constantly with factor after factor in our past, which has previously defined us as persons. Quite simply, we become new persons, with all the rejection of the &lsquo;old&rsquo; ways which this requires.</p> <p>The parable of the sower shows how the Lord foresaw that the majority who responded to His word would not hold on; He knew that men would not immediately appreciate the blood of His cross, but would prefer the old wine of the old covenant (Lk. 5:39). He saw that our spiritual growth would be an agonizingly slow business; as slow as a tiny mustard seed growing into a tree, as slow as a man digging a foundation in rock, or a seed growing and bringing forth fruit. Such growth is&nbsp;<em>very</em>&nbsp;slow&nbsp;<em>from a human perspective</em>. &nbsp;The parable of the wine exactly predicted the attitude of people to Christ's work in taking the Old Covenant out of the way. The Lord is surely saying: 'I know you won't immediately want the blood of my new covenant. I understand your nature, by nature you'll prefer what you are familiar with, the Old Covenant; you won't &quot;straightway&quot; desire the new wine, but (by implication) you will, after a while' (Lk. 5:39). He foresaw how the implication of the blood of His sacrifice wouldn't be accepted by His people first of all. It would be a process, of coming to accept how radical the gift of His blood is. As we weekly take the cup of His covenant, we come to see more and more the excellency of that blood, and its supremacy over all else. Christ recognized that conservatism in human nature which will naturally shy away from the marvellous implications of what He achieved for us. And true enough, whenever we talk about the present aspect of the Kingdom of God, our present blessings of redemption in Christ, the sense in which we have already been saved...there is a desire to shy away from it all.&nbsp; And true enough, the early Christian believers desperately clung on to the Mosaic food laws, circumcision and synagogue attendance as far as they could; the command to witness to the Gentiles was likewise not taken seriously for some time. It must have been painful for the Lord to know this and to see it, recognizing in it a lack of appreciation of His life and final sacrifice, a desire to reconcile with God without totally committing oneself to His work. He saw the possibility of His blood being wasted if men didn't change from old to new wineskins. The slowness of the changeover in attitudes amongst the early believers must have been a great pain to Him; as if His blood was being poured out again. The implication is that we shed His blood afresh if we won't change, if we allow the conservatism of our natures to have an iron grip upon us we not only destroy ourselves, but waste the blood of the Son of God. This is the danger of the conservatism that is in our natures; it was this which led men to shed the Lord's blood, and it is this same element within us which He foresaw would lead us to crucify Him afresh. How many times has this conservatism been mistaken as true spirituality! How careful we must be, therefore, not to adopt any attitude which glorifies that conservatism and masks it as the hallmark of a stable believer. The sensitivity of Jesus to the value of the human person was the very opposite of this.&nbsp;</p> 25214091818<p>9:18&nbsp;<em>While He spoke these things to them</em>-&nbsp; The impression is given that the ruler was begging the Lord for the healing of his daughter, but instead the Lord delayed responding in order to complete the teaching He was giving about the vital need for total transformation if we have received the new wine. He felt His message was that important. We also notice something which we see several times in the Gospel records- the Lord appears to not respond to human need, to even be deaf to it. For a while. The reason for that, both then and now, was surely to pique the intensity and urgency of the requests.</p> <p><em>A ruler</em>- Jairus, a ruler of the synagogue (Mk.). Matthew omits his name- perhaps because his Gospel first circulated in areas local to Jairus where the mention of his name could've led to persecution? The Orthodox Jewish opposition claimed that none of the rulers [i.e. rulers of the synagogues] had believed on Jesus (Jn. 7:48), and yet Jn. 12:42 notes that &quot;Among the chief rulers also many believed on Him; but because of the Pharisees they did not confess Him, lest they should be cast out of the synagogue&quot;. Jairus clearly was one such ruler, and yet he didn't confess Jesus for fear of consequence and disfellowship. Remember that Jairus had come to Jesus whilst He had been teaching John's disciples the need to totally accept His new wine and not compromise with Judaism and the Pharisees who were standing with them. But whilst He was teaching that, Jairus had been clamouring for Jesus to come and heal his daughter (see on&nbsp;<em>While He spake</em>). He rather missed the essential spiritual point because he was distracted by his human need. The Lord's sermon on the mount taught that we are a city set on a hill which cannot be hid, and that if we seek to hide our light under a bucket, then we will lose the light altogether. The omission of Jairus' name in Matthew leads me to fear that perhaps Jairus drifted away from faith, although his great faith at this particular moment in time is recorded positively.<br /> <br /> <em>Came and knelt before him, saying</em>- Perhaps not in so many words, but in that believing in the Lord's absolute power in action is a form of worshipping Him. The same formula is used in Mt. 8:2- the leper worshipped Jesus in that he expressed faith in His power to cleanse (also in Mt. 15:25). The Greek&nbsp;<em>proskuneo</em>&nbsp;is not used (as some Trinitarians wrongly claim) exclusively of worship of God. It is used in the LXX, classical Greek and in the later New Testament for worship of men- e.g. Cornelius worshipped Peter (Acts 10:25), men will worship faithful Christians (Rev. 3:9), the beast is worshipped (Rev. 13:4).&nbsp;<br /> <br /> <em>My daughter is even now dead</em>- The Greek could carry the idea of 'for now, she is dead' (see the usage in Mt. 3:15; Jn. 13:7; 16:12,31; 1 Cor. 13:12 etc.); in this case, the man believed her death state was only temporary, until the resurrection he believed Jesus would achieve.<br /> <br /> <em>But come and lay your hand upon her that she shall live</em>- The man &quot;came&quot; to Jesus, and now Jesus 'comes' to the man; the same Greek word is used twice. The impression is given of a mutuality between the Lord and those who come to Him in faith.</p> 25314091919<p>9:19<em> And Jesus rose and followed him, as did his disciples- </em>This verse zooms in close on the body language and physical movement of the characters, as if the author was the cameraman on the scene. Truly we have eye witness accounts in places like this. The image of the Lord Jesus following a man is unusual, as readers are accustomed to the disciples following the Lord, not Him following men. The point perhaps is that He is responsive to human need and prayer in a sense controls Him, according to His will of course. The picture is of the man racing ahead, so eager to get home. This sets the scene for the interruption to the journey, and serves to heighten the sense we get of his frustration with the woman who is taking up the Lord's time, when for him, every second counted so crucially.</p> 25414092020<p>9:20&nbsp;<em>Behold</em>- AV. If Matthew is like a cameraman at these scenes, the word &quot;behold&quot; is as it were a zoom in message, bringing us to focus upon an individual.</p> <p><em>And a woman who had an issue of blood for twelve years</em>- Exactly how old the child was. Clearly the hand of providence had been at work in both these lives according to some defined sense of timing.<br /> <br /> <em>Came behind Him</em>- The scene is being developed from 9:19, where the Lord and the disciples are following the rushing man; and now we 'see' the woman coming behind Jesus, as if she in this sense was also one of the disciples who followed behind Him.<br /> <br /> <em>And touched the border of his garment</em>- Her example inspired the many others who later sought to do this in Mt. 14:36. It has been suggested that the hem of the garment referred to the blue band which was to be worn by Jews to remind them of their commitment to obedience to God. In this case she would have been seeking to associate herself with the righteousness of Christ and be healed / saved [the same Greek word is used] thereby. In essence, this is what faith and baptism into Christ is all about. But the simpler reading is that she thought that if she associated herself even with the Lord's periphery, she would thereby be saved / healed. Given Jewish phobia about blood and the fact that any touching her would have been ritually unclean, she surely disguised her condition. And yet she didn't consider that her uncleanness could make the Lord unclean. Her view of His righteousness was correct- it can be shared with us, but our uncleanness cannot negate His purity. She was driven to this insight by her desperation, just as Job's desperation led him to understand doctrinal truths that were beyond his time and place.</p> <p>The Lord allowed this interruption when the man was so earnest that the Lord would haste to his home. The Lord, and the hand of providence, wanted to teach the man that how long a person has been dead is no barrier to resurrection; his faith needed to be developed further. And it fits in with the apparent silence of the Lord, always to develop the intensity of our desire for Him and our focus upon Him. Jesus focused on the essential whilst still being human enough to be involved in the irrelevancies which cloud the lives of all other men. Just glancing through a few random chapters from the Gospels reveals this tremendous sense of focus which He had, and His refusal to be distracted by self-justification. In all of the following examples I suspect we would have become caught up with justifying ourselves and answering the distractions to the point that our initial aim was paralyzed.&nbsp;</p> <p align="center"> <table border="0" cellspacing="8" cellpadding="0" width="80%"> <tbody> <tr> <td valign="top"> <div><b><font size="3"><strong>Focus</strong></font></b></div> </td> <td valign="top"> <div><b><font size="3"><strong>Distraction</strong></font></b></div> </td> <td valign="top"> <div><b><font size="3"><strong>Resumed Focus</strong></font></b></div> </td> </tr> <tr> <td valign="top"> <div>The sick woman touches His clothes, and He turns around to see her. He wants to talk to her.</div> </td> <td valign="top"> <div>The disciples tell Him that this is unreasonable, as a huge crowd is pressing on to Him</div> </td> <td valign="top"> <div>&quot;He looked round about [again] to see her that had done this thing&quot; (Mk. 5:30-32). He talks to her.</div> </td> </tr> <tr> <td valign="top"> <div>He says that the dead girl is only sleeping; for He wants to raise her.</div> </td> <td valign="top"> <div>&quot;They laughed Him to scorn&quot;</div> </td> <td valign="top"> <div>&quot;But...&quot; He put them all out of the house and raised her (Mk. 5:40,41).</div> </td> </tr> <tr> <td valign="top"> <div>He was moved with compassion for the crowds, and wants to feed them and teach them more.</div> </td> <td valign="top"> <div>The disciples tell Him to send the people away as it was getting late</div> </td> <td valign="top"> <div>He tells the disciples to feed them so that they can stay and hear more (Mk. 6:35-37)</div> </td> </tr> <tr> <td valign="top"> <div>Again He has compassion&nbsp;on the hunger of the crowd</div> </td> <td valign="top"> <div>The disciples mock His plan to feed them</div> </td> <td valign="top"> <div>He feeds them (Mk. 8:3-6)</div> </td> </tr> <tr> <td valign="top"> <div>He explains how He must die</div> </td> <td valign="top"> <div>Peter rebukes Him</div> </td> <td valign="top"> <div>He repeats His message, telling them that they too must follow the way of the cross (Mk. 8:31-34)</div> </td> </tr> </tbody> </table> </p> 25514092121<p>9:21&nbsp;<em>For she said within herself</em>- Earlier in this chapter the inner thoughts of the Scribes were discerned by the Lord (9:4); here again we have insight into private thoughts. This emphasis upon thoughts continues that of the Sermon on the Mount; and contributes to the general impression Matthew gives of the importance of thought, what Paul later calls 'spirit'. For to be spiritually minded is indeed the very quintessence of Christianity.</p> <p><em>If I only</em>- 'If I can&nbsp;<em>only</em>' is the idea; she thought that physical touch was all that was required. She had the same wrong notion as many Orthodox and Catholic believers have today- that some physical item can give healing. The Lord corrected her by telling her that it was&nbsp;<em>her faith</em>- not the touch of His garment- that had made her whole (Mt. 9:21,22). As so often, He had focused on what was positive in her, rather than the negative. We know that usually the Lord looked for faith in people before healing them. Yet after this incident there are examples of where those who merely sought to touch His garment were healed (Mk. 6:56; Lk. 6:19). They were probably hopeful that they would have a similar experience to the woman. One could argue they were mere opportunists, as were their relatives who got them near enough to Jesus&rsquo; clothes. And probably there was a large element of this in them. But the Lord saw through all this to what faith there was, and responded to it. It is perhaps not accidental that Mark records the link between faith and Jesus&rsquo; decision to heal in the same chapter (Mk. 6:5). When we fear there is interest in our message only for what material benefit there may be for the hearers, we need to remember this. To identify wrong motives doesn&rsquo;t mean that we turn away; we must look deeper, and hope more strongly.</p> <div><em>Touch his garment I shall be healed</em>- The Greek&nbsp;<em>sozo</em>&nbsp;is that usually used for 'saved'. She had a wider desire for not only healing (for which other Greek words could have been used) but for salvation on a wider level. <p></p> </div> 25614092222<p>9:22&nbsp;<em>But Jesus turning and seeing her, said</em>- Again the emphasis is upon recording the physical movement of the persons involved in the scene, so that we can visually reconstruct it. The Gospel records, Luke especially, often record how the Lord turned and spoke to His followers- as if He was in the habit of walking ahead of them, with them following (Lk. 7:9,44,55; 10:23; 14:25; 23:28; Mt. 9:22; Jn. 1:38). Peter thought that following the Lord was not so hard, because he was literally following Jesus around first century Israel, and identifying himself with His cause. But he simply failed to make the connection between following and cross carrying. And we too can agree to follow the Lord without realizing that it means laying down our lives. &nbsp;</p> <p><em>Daughter</em>- Perhaps the Lord was using the term in the Hebraic sense of 'descendant', seeing her as a daughter of Abraham because of her faith in Him.</p> <p><em>Be of good courage</em>- The language has clear parallels with the healing of the paralyzed man recorded earlier in 9:2. &quot;Son&quot; there is matched by &quot;daughter&quot; here, and is followed by the same &quot;be of good comfort&quot;. This phrase is used by the Lord four times in the Gospels (Mt. 9:2,22; 14:27; Jn. 16:33); like all of us, He had some phrases He liked to use. But after His resurrection, He used the same phrase when He appeared to Paul (Acts 23:11). He is the same today as yesterday (Heb. 13:8), even down to His word choice and style of speaking. The Jesus whom we shall meet at judgment day is the same Jesus who walked around Galilee; and likewise, our essential personality will be continued eternally throughout the Kingdom. Our spirit will be saved (1 Cor. 5:5), just as His was.</p> <p><em>Your faith has healed you. And the woman was healed at that moment</em>- The emphasis was on the word &quot;faith&quot;; see on 9:21. The&nbsp;<em>faith</em>&nbsp;of the sick woman is commended by the Lord- when it was due to her&nbsp;<em>understanding</em>&nbsp;of the significance of the&nbsp;<em>hem</em>&nbsp;of the Lord's robe that she had touched Him. She had perceived the connection with the High Priest's hem; perhaps too she had added Job's comment about our touching but the hem of God's garment into the equation. And certainly she perceived that the sun of righteousness of Mal. 4 had healing in his hems / wings of his garment.</p> <p>The Centurion&rsquo;s servant was healed for the sake of&nbsp;<em>his</em>&nbsp;faith; Jairus&rsquo; daughter was healed because of&nbsp;<em>his</em>&nbsp;faith (Mk. 5:36). Hence the Lord told them to believe and stop wavering, so that she would be made whole, or &ldquo;saved&rdquo; (Lk. 8:50). This comes straight after the Lord&rsquo;s commendation of the woman with &ldquo;an issue of blood&rdquo;: &ldquo;Thy faith hath made thee whole [or, saved]&rdquo; (Lk. 8:48). It&rsquo;s as if the two healings are similar in their result- being made whole, or saved- and both required faith. But the woman&rsquo;s own personal faith which led to her healing is paralleled with the faith of the family of the girl who was resurrected.</p> <p>Luke adds: &ldquo;There comes one from the ruler of the synagogue&rsquo;s house, saying to him, Your daughter is dead, trouble not the Master&rdquo; (Lk. 8:49). We naturally ask:&nbsp;<em>who</em>&nbsp;was this &ldquo;one&rdquo; who came with this message? In the Gospels, it is often the disciples who term Jesus &ldquo;the Master&rdquo;. The implication is that it was they who thought that Jesus wouldn&rsquo;t have the power to raise the dead, perhaps connecting with their own studied lack of faith in His resurrection later. And the Lord goes on to calm them: &ldquo;Do not fear&nbsp;<em>but&nbsp;</em>believe&rdquo; (Lk. 8:50). This shows the power of fear- it is fear which stops faith, fear is the opposite of faith. If we know the love that casts out fear, then a whole new style of relationships becomes possible. In so many relationships there is a balance of power which is more realistically a balance of fear- a fear of losing, of being made to look small, a fighting back with self-affirmation against the fear of being subsumed by the other. Be it parents and kids, teachers and students, pastor and flock, so often both sides fear the other. Yet if we are truly affirmed in Christ, no longer seeking victory because we have found victory in Him, His victories become ours&hellip; then our whole positioning in relationships becomes so different. For example, our fear of rejection becomes less significant if we believe firmly in our acceptance in the eyes of the Lord, the only one whose judgment has ultimate value. If we can say with Paul that for us the judgment of others has very little value, because we only have one judge&hellip; then we will no longer worrying about acting in such a way as to impress others. No longer will it be so important to not express our inner thoughts about people or situations for fear of not using the constant &lsquo;nicespeak&rsquo; which results in judgment from others unless it&rsquo;s used. There will be a congruence between what we feel and think within us, and what we actually show. And thus we will avoid the dysfunction which is so apparent in so many, as they forever struggle to control their outward expressions, hiding their real self, with the real self and the external self struggling against each other in a painful dis-ease.</p> 25714092323<p>9:23&nbsp;<em>When Jesus came into... He saw...He said</em>- This is the process of usual human experience, perception and response to perception. It's yet another evidence of the Lord's humanity. The Greek phrase for &quot;came into&quot; is used so often in the Synoptics. Just in Matthew 9, Jesus came into His own city (9:1), came into the ruler's house (9:23) and came into a house (9:28). Consider the other usages of the phrase in Matthew alone: He came into Israel (Mt. 2:21), came into Nazareth (2:23), came into Capernaum (4:13), came into Peter's house (8:14), came into the land of the Gergesenes (8:28); came into a synagogue (12:9), came into a house (13:36), came into His own region (13:54), came into the land of Gennesaret (14:34), came into Magdala (15:39), came into Caesarea (16:13, came into Capernaum (17:24), came into the borders of Judea (19:1), came into Bethphage (21:1), came into the temple (21:23), came into Gethsemane (26:36), came into the place called Golgotha (27:33). Mark and Luke record even other cases of His 'coming into' various towns, areas and situations. It is a huge emphasis. John's Gospel uses the term, but frequently in the more abstract sense of the Lord Jesus 'coming into' the (Jewish) world. The prologue uses the Greek phrase three times alone in describing how Jesus 'came into' the world and into &quot;His own&quot; (Jn. 1:7,9,11). He was the light and prophet that &quot;came into the world&quot; (Jn. 3:19; 6:14). John's references to the Lord Jesus coming &quot;into the world&quot; (Jn. 12:46; 16:28; 18:37) are therefore not to be read as implying that He literally came down out of Heaven into the world; but rather they are John's more abstract equivalent of the Synoptics' direct and repeated statements that the Lord came into the Jewish world of His day, into human situations. His sending of us out &quot;into&quot; the world is therefore inviting us to go forth and enter into our world and its various situations just as He did. We are to replicate His ministry in our world and situations.</p> <p><em>The ruler's house and saw the flute-players and the crowd making a tumult</em>- Flute players. If these had already been called, the implication is that the girl had been dead for some time. This places a question mark over the ruler's claim that his daughter had only just died (9:18 Gk.). All through these accounts we see the Lord's grace. The man exaggerated, just as the woman thought that merely touching Christ's clothes was all that was needed for a miracle- and yet the Lord graciously worked with all these people and situations to bless them. On the other hand, embalming would've been done quickly, and perhaps the intensity of the tumult and weeping was because she had indeed just died, and the minstrels would have only just arrived. The Lord in this case would've arrived at the very peak of human distress and need. This is why He was 'delayed' on the way, in order for that peak of need to be reached. Mk. 5:38,39 emphasizes the extraordinary agitation.</p> 25814092424<p>9:24&nbsp;<em>He said: Leave!</em>- He was not particularly attempting to create some calm before doing the miracle; but rather was He telling the hired mourners and flute players that their services were no longer necessary. Often the Lord acts before a miracle as if He is sure the miracle is going to actually happen. In this He exemplifies faith- believing that we have already received what we asked for, and acting appropriately. We think of Paul being so confident in his release from prison that he asks people to prepare a room for him to stay in (Philemon 22). In this case, the Lord saw the dead as if she was actually alive, although sleeping. This is to be our perspective regarding those whom we believe shall be resurrected.</p> <p><em>For the little girl is not dead but sleeps. And they Laughed at him in scorn</em>- This is recorded in all three of the Synoptics (Mk. 5:40; Lk. 8:53). It made a deep impression upon them all. The Greek could suggest (although not necessarily) that there was a process of derision here which left the Lord looking somehow scorned (&quot;to scorn&quot;). Perhaps He blushed, or looked at the ground- for He was after all human. Clearly these people were just the hired mourners and flute players. There was an element of anger in their derision because clearly money and payment were at issue if they were to just be sent away.</p> <p>Luke records how Peter, James, John and the parents of the dead girl entered the house where she was&nbsp;<em>alone</em>; and then &quot;they&quot; laughed Jesus to scorn when He proclaimed she was merely asleep (Lk. 8:51,53). It's psychologically unlikely that the distraught, desperately hopeful parents would've ridiculed Jesus like this at that time. The reference is surely to the three disciples doing this. This is a profound recognition of the disciples' weakness- there, alone with Jesus and the distraught parents, they mocked Jesus' ability to resurrect the girl. And they have the profound humility to tell the world about that in their record of the Gospel.</p> 25914092525<p>9:25&nbsp;<em>But when the crowd had been put outside</em>- The Lord was consciously seeking to reduce the element of hysteria at the miracle He knew He was going to do. He wanted as few as possible to see the dead body actually revive. There was perhaps a similar logic in the way His own resurrection was not done publicly and His risen body was only seen by a relatively few rather than being displayed publicly. This was not His way, nor the Father's way, even during His ministry.</p> <div> <p><em>He entered in and took her by the hand, and the little girl arose</em>- The whole scene of putting mourners out of the house, taking her by the hand and raising her up was followed exactly by Peter in raising Tabitha. The Lord's style, language and even body language became the pattern for those who had been with Him, and it must be the same for us. The Gospels are written in such a way, that through the power of inspiration we can as it were be there with the disciples likewise watching Jesus and learning of His Spirit.</p> <p>Mark adds that the Lord said: &quot;Talitha cumi, which is, My child, I say to you, Get up&quot; (Mk. 5:41). &quot;Get up&quot; there isn't from the '<em>anastasis</em>' group of words which are used about the 'rising up' of dead people in resurrection. It's&nbsp;<em>egeiro</em>, which more literally means 'to get up'. 'Honey, it's time to get up now' was what the Lord was saying- not 'I command you to resurrect'. He had raised her, given her life, and He knew that. In fact, He'd done it a while beforehand. For He told the mourners: &quot;The girl isn't dead, she's only sleeping&quot; (:24; Mk. 5:39). He raised her even before going into the room- and He knew that. And so when He finally saw her, He took her hand and gently asked her to get up out of bed. His gentleness, His faith, His calmness, His certainty that the Father heard Him- are all wondrous. The way the Lord healed people reflects His sensitivity- He commanded food to be brought for this girl who had been dead and was therefore hungry (Lk. 8:55).</p> <p>The Lord Jesus, in His ministry, had forbidden the extroverts from publicly preaching about Him, as they naturally wanted to (e.g. Mk. 8:26). To keep silent was an act of the will for them, something against the grain. It is hard to find any other explanation for why He told Jairus not to tell anyone that He had raised his daughter (Lk. 8:56)- for it would have been obvious, surely. For they knew she had died (8:53). By contrast, those who would naturally have preferred to stay quiet were told to go and preach (e.g. Mk. 5:19). Perhaps Paul was in this category. The parallel between the Lord&rsquo;s words and works is brought out in Lk. 9:43,44: &ldquo;They wondered at all things which Jesus&nbsp;<em>did</em>&hellip;He said&hellip;let these&nbsp;<em>sayings</em>&nbsp;sink down into your ears&rdquo;. There are no distinct &lsquo;sayings&rsquo; of Jesus in this context; He wanted them to see that His works were His words. There was perfect congruence between what He said and what He did. Perhaps this was why He told the parents of the girl whom He resurrected &ldquo;to tell no man what was done&rdquo; (Lk. 8:56), even though it was so obvious; He wanted His self-evident works to speak for themselves, without the need for human words. For His works were essentially His message.&nbsp;</p> </div> 26014092626<p>9:26&nbsp;<em>And the fame thereof went into all that land</em>- Gk. 'the rumour'. This is why the Lord seems to have disliked doing public stunts and miracles in front of many eyes; He didn't want this kind of publicity. Rumours, inevitably exaggerated and distorted, started to spread about Him. He wanted to teach God's word, and the miracles were incidental to that. So easily, they created a false message about Him because of the rumours which were created by them. It was inevitable that such rumours would spread, and yet it is hard to find anywhere in the Gospels where the Lord specifically seeks to correct them. Instead He focused upon being Himself and teaching the message He had come to deliver, and living the life He had to live. This focus needs to be remembered by us in our ministries, for the more earnestly we work for Him the more rumours will be generated and come back to our ears. But the Lord appears to have largely ignored them, and to have allowed His own personal example to be the ultimate answer to all rumours.</p> <p>The Greek&nbsp;<em>ge</em>&nbsp;is used for &quot;land&quot; and the language could hint at a global distribution of the Lord's fame, as if Matthew saw in this a foretaste of the future spreading of the Gospel about Jesus.</p> 26114092727<p>9:27&nbsp;<em>And as Jesus passed on from there</em>- It was such a long day for the Lord, wave after wave of need assailing Him. And perhaps He had many such days, this is just one typical day recorded. That He maintained mental perfection despite exposing Himself to such pressure and exhaustion is a window into His love and desire to save humanity. He could easily have reasoned it was better to take it easy locked in a monastery-type existence. But that would've led to sins of omission, and love is simply not like that. The same word is used again in Mt. 20:30, where again two blind men latch onto Him as He 'passes by' or 'departs'. The picture is of circumstances repeating in the Lord's life, just as they do within ours. Doubtless the later two blind men were inspired by the story of these two blind men. The note that the Lord 'passed by' is again an indication of eye witness accounts, with the Gospel writer as a kind of inspired cameraman focusing closely upon the Lord's movements and presenting us with a gripping picture of Him and His movements, so that we may really feel we too are 'there'.</p> <p><em>Two blind men followed him, crying out, and saying: Have mercy on us, son of David!</em>- A phrase emphasized in Matthew more than the other Gospels. Significantly, he records the phrase on the lips of the wise men who came from a Gentile land (Mt. 2:1-12), a Gentile woman (Mt. 15:22), children (Mt. 21:15) and twice on the lips of two blind men (here and in Mt. 20:30). Perhaps the implication is that the Jewish spiritual leadership didn't perceive Jesus of Nazareth as the Son of David- it was the blind, Gentiles, children, women, i.e. the marginalized, who did so.</p> <p>There is a definite connection between the appeal for mercy and faith the Jesus is &quot;Son of David&quot;, both here and elsewhere (Mt. 15:20; 20:30,31). This surely was because of their understanding that God's mercy would not depart from David's son (2 Sam. 7:14; 22:51), the mercy to David was therefore &quot;sure&quot; (Is. 55:3); thus these people understood that if&nbsp;<em>Jesus&nbsp;</em>as the &quot;Son of David&quot; enjoyed the mercy / favour of God, therefore He could share that mercy with them. They believed what the Lord made explicit in John 17- that the relationship He enjoyed with His Father could really be shared with all who believed in Him. No wonder that the Lord healed these thoughtful, marginalized people; they really had meditated deeply upon Him. We should also note that in Hebrew thought, being a 'son of' someone meant sharing their characteristics. And David must be the most merciful of all the Old Testament characters; his grace to Saul and the family of Saul, to Absalom and all who rose up against him, are amazing.</p> 26214092828<p>9:28&nbsp;<em>And when he had arrived into the house</em>- The men had been crying (Gk. 'shrieking') to Him as He was walking to the house; but He waited until He was in the house before healing them. This is similar to how on the way to cure Jairus' daughter, the Lord appeared not to be so urgently responsive; He stopped to cure the woman with blood issues. Likewise He remained 'asleep' on the boat as the waves almost submerged it. This is not because He doesn't care, is too busy, or has slow responses to human situations. Rather by this method does He seek to heighten&nbsp;<em>our</em>&nbsp;sense of desperation, faith and need for Him.</p> <p><em>The blind men came to him, and Jesus said to them: Do you believe</em>- It might have seemed obvious that they believed the Lord was able to heal them. But by having to face the question, the issues are focused. And the Lord also perceived a difference between people who simply have desperate need and urgently beg anyone for help- and those who believe in His ability to resolve the issue. The cry of need is not the same as the cry of faith. The cry of need simply is an animal cry of desperation for help, any help, from anyone. Whereas the cry of faith is focused specifically upon the Father and Son and their unique ability and power. The Lord clearly wanted to ensure these men made that distinction, and He works in our lives likewise. The question &quot;Do you believe...?&quot; sounds rather like a question asked before baptizing someone. It's possible that Matthew was aware of that, and was again seeking to develop a continuity between the people Jesus encountered during His ministry, and we whom He encounters today.</p> <p><em>That I am able to do this?</em>- The Lord wanted to know if they accepted His&nbsp;<em>ability</em>&nbsp;to do the cure. He was probing the degree to which they would accept that He could therefore choose not to cure them. He therefore spoke in terms of His&nbsp;<em>ability</em>&nbsp;to cure.</p> <p><em>They say to him: Yes Lord</em>- A poor translation.&nbsp;<em>Nai&nbsp;</em>means far more than &quot;yes&quot;, it is a solemn affirmation, better rendered 'Truly'. Along with the confession of the Lordship of Jesus, this heightens the impression that we have here some form of early confession of faith, as if these men were being set up as representative of all those who later would likewise profess faith and come from darkness to light. Being blind, these men had never seen Jesus and yet they believed in Him; perhaps there is emphasis in Matthew upon the faith of blind men because these people were in a similar situation to the recipients of his Gospel- believing on having heard but never having actually seen Jesus.</p> 26314092929<p>9:29&nbsp;<em>Then he touched their eyes, saying</em>- The eyes of these blind men may well have been secreting ritually unclean body fluid. Actually touching the eyes, when the Lord had all manner of options open to Him, reflects His desire to connect with human weakness and need as directly and intimately as possible. Again, Matthew the cameraman is as it were zooming in close up on the movements of even the Lord's fingers. Around 30 times the Lord is described as touching people to heal them, with the principle &quot;touch not the unclean thing&quot; clearly in view. By doing so, making this conscious allusion to one of the greatest tenets of Judaism and Jewish social interaction, He was redefining 'touching'. He perceived that the ritual requirements not to touch the unclean were not because there was anything unclean in itself on a metaphysical level, but rather to teach against involvement in wickedness. But to save the unclean, we must touch them, be involved with them, enter into their lives, engage with them. And the Lord insistently and repeatedly demonstrated this by touching the unclean. Many conservative Christian believers make the same mistake as the Jews- they consider that the Lord's table must be closed to the unclean. But there is no guilt by association. We are not to &quot;fellowship the unfruitful works of darkness&quot; in the sense of participating in them ourselves, but we are to reach out to and 'touch' the individuals caught up in those things. The Lord's redefinition of 'touch' needs to be taken seriously by many conservative communities today. And we note how just a few verses earlier, earlier that same day, the unclean woman had 'touched' Jesus. And now He in turn touches others. In ritual terms, He was unclean and was spreading His uncleanness to another. But He was actually spreading His holiness by doing so. He was purposefully subverting the understanding of guilt by association and uncleanness by physical touch.</p> <p><em>According to your faith be it done unto you</em>- This might imply that the extent of their restored vision was dependent upon the degree of their faith. In some cases, the Father and Son operate in a sovereign way, as with the blind man of John 9 who was cured without knowing who Jesus was. In others, their action and the extent of it is directly in proportion to human faith.</p> 26414093030<p>9:30&nbsp;<em>And their eyes were opened</em>- The Lord's work is to be repeated by us, for we are commissioned as Paul was to open the eyes of those in spiritual darkness (Acts 26:18). We therefore are not to simply view Him and His work in Palestine as history, as interesting background... He there, in all His ways, in life and death, is our real pattern to be copied in our own contexts of life.</p> <p><em>And Jesus strictly ordered them, saying: See that no one knows it!-&nbsp;</em>The Greek for &quot;see&quot; means just that, indeed it can mean to stare, to look intently at something. Clearly it's a play on ideas- 'Now you can see, use your seeing to ensure that nobody knows about this'. But surely it would be obvious? How can a healed blind man be hidden? How can it not be known what has happened to him? And this was exactly the point. In line with the Lord's teaching in the Sermon on the Mount, our witness is essentially in who we are. A city set on a hill cannot be hid. There is no possibility that a lamp burning in the darkness can be unnoticed. And by this command to tell nobody, the Lord was encouraging them to witness in exactly the way He had outlined in the Sermon. Clearly the man wanted to shout out his good news. But by quietly walking around, seeing life as it really is, being his normal self, this would be an even more powerful witness.</p> 26514093131<p>9:31&nbsp;<em>But they went and spread abroad his fame in all that land</em>- Disobedience to the Lord's commands about witness is a sad feature of the New Testament record, not least in the initial refusal by the disciples to obey the great commission and take the Gospel to the entire Gentile world.</p> 26614093232<p>9:32&nbsp;<em>As they were leaving</em>- S.w. &quot;departed&quot; in :31. This was a very long day for the Lord. Again, Matthew's record focuses upon physical movement of the players in the scene. It was as the cured blind men were going out of the house, intent on disobedience to the Lord's request not to publicize their cure, with the Lord surely guessing that would be the case, that people brought a dumb man to him for healing. Wave after wave of pressure and human need broke against the Lord; we can only admire His stamina and core principle of love which enabled Him to endure and not turn others away because of His own exhaustion.</p> <p><em>A dumb man who was possessed with a demon was brought to him</em>- Gk. they lead to Him. Again, Matthew focuses close up on the person of the Lord and the physical movements involving Him. The statement is not that he was dumb&nbsp;<em>and</em>&nbsp;demon possessed. Clearly the idea was that his dumbness was thought to be due to His possession by a demon. The causes of dumbness have now been analysed and explained. It's not caused by demons, and is today usually capable of some degree of cure or improvement. Therapy doesn't partially drive demons away. Clearly, the language of demon possession was used to describe illness and human conditions which could not be otherwise explained in the first century.</p> 26714093333<p>9:33&nbsp;<em>And when the demon was cast out, the dumb man spoke and the crowds marvelled, saying: Such a thing has never been seen in Israel!</em>- Recorded from the perspective of the onlookers. They couldn't perceive that a dumb person could be healed without something exiting them. I have heard doctors in less developed parts of the world using language such as 'This will get it out of you' when persuading uneducated folks to take medicines. This verse proves too much for those who claim demons actually exist- for it suggests that dumbness is cured by a demon being located and cast out from within the person. Yet dumb people are cured by medical methods that make no reference to demons. The dumb spoke, whilst in the same chapter, on the same day, the lame had been made to walk and the blind been given sight; and the deaf had been given hearing (if Mk. 7:32-37 occurred at the same time). So during this very long day in the Lord's ministry, the Kingdom prophecy of Is. 35:5-7 had been initially fulfilled. Perhaps the people came seeking such healing because they were convinced that Messiah had come and His Kingdom must be beginning. Despite their misunderstanding the nature of the Kingdom, the Lord seems to have responded positively to their faith, just as He does with misbelievers today.</p> <p>There were people claiming to cast out demons in Israel at the Lord's time. But as Josephus records, they operated by first asking the sick person for the name of the demon within them and then cursing that demon until it supposedly departed. The need to name demons was therefore very important for the exorcists. The problem with dumb people was that they couldn't speak, most were illiterate and couldn't write, so it was thought to be very hard to cure the dumb because they could never name the demon possessing them to an exorcist. The Lord's healing of dumb demons (as the people understood it) therefore placed Him in a category of His own far above the exorcists.</p> 26814093434<p>9:34 <em>But the Pharisees said: By the prince of the demons he casts out demons-</em> We sense that the Pharisees were desperate to minimize the Lord's miracles, but they were driven to admit they were miracles, the demons did actually leave (as they saw it), and all they could say was that the Lord must therefore have been in league with the prince of the demons. This of course was a foolish and desperate argument, because as the Lord later pointed out, their sons also claimed to drive out demons, so that would imply that they were also in league with the prince of the demons. This shows that the miracles of Jesus were beyond doubt, as those by Peter were later. Genuine miracles wrought by the Holy Spirit cannot be denied even by the most cynical- contrasting sharply with many Pentecostal claims of healing and supposed exercise of the Spirit gifts of healing.</p> 26914093535<p>9:35&nbsp;<em>And Jesus went about all the cities and the villages, teaching in their synagogues and</em>- As in 4:23, the emphasis seems to be upon the Lord trying to get to as many isolated people as possible. The Greek suggests this idea, and is used again in Mt. 23:15 &quot;You&nbsp;<em>compass</em>&nbsp;sea and land to make one proselyte&quot;. The Lord's emphasis upon the villages rather than the big cities such as Sepphoris was in line with His mission to specifically get to the marginalized and those whom no itinerant preacher ever would bother trying to get to. The &quot;villages&quot; would've been no more than a few houses, requiring hours of walking to, over hilly tracks. Our own missionary work can take an example from this, but for all of us there should be the spirit of wanting to spread the message to the very corners of society.</p> <p><em>Preaching the Gospel of the Kingdom</em>- Literally, heralding the Gospel of the Kingdom. Not 'Preaching / heralding the Kingdom', but heralding the preaching of that Kingdom. The difference is significant. The Lord saw Himself as doing the groundwork for another evangelizing of the Kingdom- namely that which would be done by us. Significantly we read that Paul simply preached [s.w.] the Kingdom (Acts 28:31). Matthew, like the other evangelists, often hints at the great commission to spread the Gospel with which the Gospels all end (even John, if you look for it!).</p> <p><em>And healing all manner of disease and all manner of sickness</em>- As if the Lord purposefully tried to engage with every kind of human need and weakness. This means that His unity with humanity, His ability to be a total representative and utterly sympathetic High Priest &quot;in every point&quot; (Heb. 2:14-18; 4:15,16), was not something which was achieved automatically. He consciously worked on it, and His life of engagement with humanity resulted in Him developing into the unique mediator and representative which He is. The language here is repeated in 10:1 concerning the work of the disciples- the Lord's preaching ministry isn't mere history, it is to be replicated in essence in&nbsp;<em>our</em>&nbsp;ministry.</p> <p><em>Among the people</em>- AV and some MSS. Literally, &quot;in&quot; the people. There is the hint at internal sickness and healing.</p> 27014093636<p>9:36&nbsp;<em>But when he saw the crowds, he was moved with</em>- This is part of the general summary of His preaching work which we have in :35. Most men would've inwardly groaned whenever they saw the crowds surging towards them. But not the Lord. Every time He saw a crowd of humanity, He was moved with compassion. We too are faced by human need, crowds of it, if only we will have the sensitivity to perceive it. And instead of groaning and raising eyebrows, we ought to be moved with compassion at their need, at how humanity is rudderless- if we have the spirit of Christ.</p> <p><em>Compassion for them</em>- Several times used in the Gospels about the Lord's response to people. In His self-revelation in the parables, the Lord uses the same word about Himself and the Father- He is the Samaritan who &quot;had compassion&quot; on the wounded man (Lk. 10:33), as the Father of the prodigal son likewise had compassion on him (Lk. 15:20). Mk. 6:34 adds at this point that He&nbsp;<em>therefore</em>, as a result of that compassion, started to &ldquo;teach them many things&rdquo;. Then He asked His disciples, &quot;The harvest truly is plenteous, but the labourers are few; Pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest&hellip;&rdquo; (Mt. 9:36-38). It was their spiritual as well as their material and human need which evoked His compassion. I have to say that this spirit of urgent compassion is not as strong among us as it should be. There seem few if any tears shed for the tragedy of humanity. The world&rsquo;s desperation seems written off as &lsquo;they&rsquo;re not interested&rsquo; rather than felt as a tragedy that should evoke our emotional and practical response. When Jesus saw the leper who wanted to be &ldquo;clean&rdquo;- not just &lsquo;cured&rsquo; or eased of his discomfort- He made an emotional response. He put forth His hand, touched him, and made him clean- because He was &ldquo;moved with compassion&rdquo; (Mk. 1:40,41). Mt. 14:14; 15:32; 20:34; Mk. 5:19 and Lk. 7:13 all record other times when the sheer humanity of the situation evoked the Lord&rsquo;s compassion: e.g. the woman in the funeral procession of her dear son, or the hungry crowds, unfed for 3 days&hellip;</p> <p>Because they were distressed and scattered, as sheep not having a shepherd</p> <p>- Could be rendered &quot;harassed and helpless&quot;. The hypocrisy of the Pharisees didn't simply irritate the Lord, He went further to proactively feel sorry for the crowds who were without a shepherd- and He did something about it. Their lack of shepherds is the background for the Lord's command to pray therefore for&nbsp;<em>workers</em>&nbsp;to be sent out into the harvest (Mt. 9:37,38). We might think that the crowds being without a shepherd would lead the Lord to urge that good shepherds be sent to them. But instead He chooses another metaphor- seasonal labourers required to go and reap a harvest. Perhaps this was because He didn't consider the disciples nor indeed anyone in Palestine at the time to really be capable for shepherding. He was the only shepherd- the singular good shepherd. Perhaps the point of the change of metaphor was that the Lord's flock doesn't need mere shepherds, those in the positions of leadership, so much as&nbsp;<em>workers</em>&nbsp;first and foremost. The Lord is clearly alluding to the concern of Moses that after he died, the people would not be &quot;as sheep which have no shepherd&quot; (Num. 27:17). The hint is that Israel were in effect without Moses- whereas the Jewish religious leadership considered that they were being fiercely faithful to Moses. Perhaps there is also the hint that the Lord realized that He would not always be with these crowds (He had just taught that the bridegroom would be taken away from them in 9:15), and His prayer is that the Father will send out workers to replace Him. For our ministry in this world is effectively that of Jesus reincarnated in us as His body. See on 10:1.</p> 27114093737<p>9:37&nbsp;<em>Then said he to his disciples: The harvest-</em>&nbsp;The harvest and reaping is ultimately at the Lord's second coming (Mt. 13:30,39). The prayer here could not simply be for more Gospel workers, but for the Angels who are the reapers in Mt. 13:39 to be sent forth- thus, a prayer for the second coming, motivated by the hopeless situation with the shepherds of God's people. But we can surely interpret the Lord as once again teaching the 'now but not yet' aspect of His Kingdom. Insofar as we go out and reap the harvest, we are doing what the Angels will do at the second coming. Note how He saw the crowds who wanted only loaves and fishes as a great harvest. He saw the potential... Note how the phrase &ldquo;the harvest is&nbsp;<em>plenteous</em>&rdquo; uses the word usually translated &ldquo;great&rdquo; in describing the &ldquo;great multitudes&rdquo; that flocked to the Lord (Mt. 4:25; 8:1,16,18; 12:15; 13:2; 14:14; 15:30; 19:2; 20:29). Those crowds were seen by Him as a harvest.</p> <p><em>Indeed is plentiful-&nbsp;</em>His preachers were like harvesters working in the very last hour to bring in the harvest- in fact, the harvest was spoiling because it&rsquo;s not being fully gathered. The fault for that lies with the weak efforts of the preacher-workers (&quot;few&quot; both in number and weakness, as the Greek means). This means that the ultimate degree of success of the Father's work with men to some degree depends upon us. There are people who would be gathered if there were more and stronger, better workers (not so &quot;few&quot;), but who will not be. To some extent the Father has delegated His work into our hands. He will not necessarily raise up another way of harvesting those people into His Kingdom if we fail Him. In this lies the power of the fact that&nbsp;<em>we</em>&nbsp;are the labourers who do the reaping in our Gospel work now; and yet it is the Angels who do this reaping at the last day (Mt. 13:39). This means surely that there is a direct correlation between whom&nbsp;<em>we</em>&nbsp;reap for the Lord now and who shall finally be gathered into His Kingdom by the Angels at the second coming. Our responsibility for others' eternity and the extent of God's glory on this earth is huge. The Lord Himself here prayed that more labourers would be sent forth into the harvest, but the real answer only came in the sending forth of labourers by the Father in the post-resurrection dispensation (Mt. 20:1). We are all commanded by the great commission at the end of Matthew to go forth and do this work.</p> <p><em>But the labourers</em>- The parable of the labourers in the vineyard (Mt. 20:1-8) suggests that all who are called to the Gospel are called to be labourers in the harvest. The call is not to learn a few theological truths and preserve them, nor to slump into a culture of meeting attendance or churchianity. It is to labour in harvesting the great potential which there is in this world.</p> <p><em>Are few-&nbsp;</em>The Greek means in both number and strength. The parable of the labourers in the vineyard (Mt. 20:1-8) suggests that many of those who are called for this work only work a few hours, they are standing idle a long time before being called. They are the weak, the lazy, the handicapped, the old, those with a bad work record, whom nobody wanted to hire. Most of the Lord's workers are like that- we shouldn't be surprised to find the Lord's workforce full of those who seem most unsuited to the work of harvesting others. The disciples were the labourers- for a few verses later we read that He sent them forth in His work with the comment that they were labourers who were worthy of their hire (Mt. 10:10). The Lord only had the 12, perhaps, because that was all there was in Israel able to do the job. And He asked them to pray that there would be more sent forth by the Father. This shows the blessing which will go behind the efforts to spread the Gospel to all the world in the last days. There is a fervent,&nbsp;<em>urgent</em>&nbsp;desire of the Lord for this, and so His blessing will surely be with all who catch the same spirit of urgency. According to the parable of Lk. 14:23, the quality of converts is sacrificed (by the Lord, not us) for the sake of numbers- which connects with the idea that the coming of Christ is to some degree dependent upon the full number of the Gentiles being converted (Rom. 11:25). Likewise the drag net was brought to land once it was full of fish (Mt. 13:48). The Lord speaks of how &ldquo;few&quot; (the Greek implies physically weak, cp. the unwanted labourers in the market place) the labourers are (Mt. 9:37), and therefore more (numerically) are needed. Any lamentation about the weakness of the latter day ecclesia must be seen in this context; the Lord is desperate for the places at the supper to be filled, although woe to those who come in without a wedding garment (Mt. 22:12). &nbsp;</p> 27214093838<p>9:38<em>&nbsp;Therefore ask the Lord of the harvest to send out workers into His harvest</em>- The Lord is praying that the time of the great commission, the sending forth of God's people worldwide to reap the harvest, would be hastened. But it had to wait until after the Lord's resurrection because the disciples were not yet mature enough for it. The Lord&nbsp;<em>prayed</em>&nbsp;and urged others to pray, that the great commission would be given as soon as possible. With what eagerness, therefore, does He watch our fulfilment of it; and with what sadness therefore does He observe our negligence and even denial of it.</p> 2731401011<p>10:1&nbsp;<em>And he called to him his twelve disciples</em>- Implying they were not always with Him. But there seems an intended contrast between calling them to Him, and then sending them forth (:5). They were with Him when they were away from Him. It is simply so, that when we witness, the words we speak are in effect the words of Jesus. Our words are His. This is how close we are to Him. And this is why our deportment and manner of life, which is the essential witness, must be in Him. For He is articulated to the world through us. And it explains the paradox of the parallel record in Mk. 3:14, whereby Jesus chose men that they should &ldquo;be with Him and that He might send them forth to preach&rdquo;. As they went out to witness, they were with Him, just as He is with us in our witness, to the end of the world [both geographically and in time]. And this solves another Marcan paradox, in Mk. 4:10: &ldquo;When He was alone, they that were about Him with the twelve asked Him&hellip;&rdquo;. Was He alone, or not? Mark speaks as if when the Lord was away from the crowd and with His true followers, He was &ldquo;alone&rdquo;- for He counted them as one body with Him. This was why the Lord told Mary, when she so desperately wanted to be personally with Him, to go and preach to His brethren (Jn. 20:18), just as He had told some of those whom He had healed- for going and preaching Him was in effect being with Him.</p> <p><em>And gave them authority over unclean spirits, to cast them out-&nbsp;</em>This is in the context of the Lord's concern that the crowds were sheep with no shepherd, which I suggested was an allusion to Moses' words of Num. 27:17 (see on 9:36). Moses asks for God to raise up another to do his work, and God gives him Joshua- and is told &quot;You shall invest him with some of your authority&quot; (Num. 27:20). So the Lord is here treating the disciples as if they are His replacement, going out to do His work, just as the later body of Christ are to do. We have in this preaching tour they are sent on some sort of foretaste of the great commission.</p> <p><em>And to heal all manner of disease and all manner of sickness&shy;</em> Every kind of sickness and disease was to be engaged with by them because they were to be the re-incarnation of Jesus' personal ministry, His body to the world. See on 9:35.</p> 2741401022<p>10:2<em> Now the names of the twelve apostles are these. The first Simon, who is called Peter, and Andrew his brother- </em>Note this is not the record of the choosing of the twelve, but rather of their commissioning and being sent out. The list is broken up into pairs, perhaps because they were sent out as six pairs.</p> <p><em>James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother</em>- Mark adds that James and John were to be the &ldquo;sons of thunder&quot; (Mk. 3:17), another Rabbinic phrase, used of the young trainee Rabbis who stood at the left and right of the Master of the Synagogue during the Sabbath services (hence the later appeal for confirmation as to whether they would&nbsp;<em>really&nbsp;</em>stand at the Master&rsquo;s right and left in His Kingdom). These uneducated men were to take the place of the learned Scribes whom they had always respected and lived in fear of... truly they were being pushed against the grain. See on 16:19.&nbsp;</p> 2751401033<p>10:3&nbsp;<em>Philip and Bartholomew&shy;&nbsp;</em>Apparently the same as Nathanael, also mentioned with Philip in Jn. 1:46-51<em>.</em></p> <p><em>Thomas and Matthew the tax collector, James the son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus-&nbsp;</em>The Gospel records were transcripts by the evangelists of their personal preaching of the Gospel. Matthew adds in the list of the disciples that he was &ldquo;the publican&rdquo; (Mt. 10:3). And throughout, there are little hints at his own unworthiness- in his own presentation of the Gospel to others.</p> <p></p> <p></p> 2761401044<p>10:4&nbsp;<em>Simon the Canaanite</em>- Not 'from Canaan' but a&nbsp;<em>kananites</em>, a zealot. We see the wide range of men the Lord called into His band; Matthew the tax collector would've been seen as a traitor, whereas the zealots were at the other end of the political spectrum. The way the 12 didn't break up as a group after living together under extreme psychological conditions is a testament to the unifying power of the person of Jesus. The composition of the Lord's body is the same today, including &quot;all [types of] men&quot;. Sadly denominationalism and churchianity has led to churches often being clusters of believers having the same socio-economic, racial and personality type positions, rather than being conglomerations of literally all types of t, of whatever accent and formation.</p> <p><em>And Judas Iscariot who betrayed him- </em>&quot;Iscariot&quot; is perhaps 'man of Kerioth.' Kerioth was a small village in Judea (Josh 15:25). Judas would therefore have been the only Judean. It could be that 'Iscariot' is from&nbsp;<em>sicarius</em>, 'dagger-man' or 'assassin'. This would suggest that Judas belonged to what was reckoned to be the most far right of the various resistance groups, the Sicarii (the partisans, cp. Acts 21:38). Again we see the wide range of people the Lord was calling together in order to weld them into one body in Him.</p> <p></p> <p></p> 2771401055<p>10:5&nbsp;<em>These twelve Jesus sent out and ordered them, saying</em>- Literally, apostled them. Whoever is sent forth is apostled, and the great commission sends forth all believers.</p> <p><em>Do not go unto the Gentiles and do not enter into any city of the Samaritans</em>- Given Judaism's strong opposition to Jesus and His teaching, did the Lord foresee they would be tempted to go to the Gentiles? He surely wanted them to replicate His ministry as exactly as possible- and He was sent at that stage to Israel and not to the Gentiles.</p> <p></p> 2781401066<p>10:6&nbsp;<em>Instead</em>- The construction 'Not this but rather that' could mean 'Focus more on that than this', i.e. focus upon the Jews. It was not necessarily a total prohibition on preaching to Gentiles. For similar constructions see Jn. 17:9 and 1 Cor. 1:17.</p> <p><em>Go to the lost sheep of the house of Israel</em>- It's hard to tell whether the Lord meant that all Israel were lost sheep, or whether He meant that the apostles were to go to the lost sheep within Israel- to the spiritually marginalized whom He too had targeted. For the sense of the commission is that they were to replicate His ministry, as if they were Him to the world around them. He was personally sent to the lost sheep of the house of Israel (Mt. 15:24) and He asks them to do just the same. His mission was theirs, and it is ours. As He was sent out by the Father, so He sends us out; we&rsquo;re all in that sense &lsquo;apostles&rsquo;, sent out ones. The Lord's parables about&nbsp;<em>His </em>searching for the lost sheep until He found it were to be understood by the apostles as now applying to&nbsp;<em>them</em>. And we understand from His words here that He considered that lost sheep to be Israel. The search until it was found would then be an appropriate figure for the Lord's never ending search for Israel, a love which He can never give up over the centuries. The allusion is also to Ezekiel 34, which speaks of &quot;the house of Israel&quot; being lost sheep because of their bad shepherds. The Lord doesn't specifically state that the disciples are now the new shepherds of Israel (see note on 9:37,38). He simply sends them to the lost sheep. It seems they were not ready for full pastoral responsibility, but they were to begin their shepherding. We note that the Lord specifically commissions Peter to &quot;feed My sheep / lambs&quot;, and these are here defined as the lost sheep of Israel. Hence Peter's ministry specifically to the Jews. These were the sheep who were now lost because of the Jewish religious leadership. The Lord was sending out the apostles to try to provide what the standard religious leadership didn't, even though they weren't mature enough to be designated as 'shepherds' at that stage; and that is how many of us feel or felt when we first perceived we too are being sent out just as much as they were. Notice that the Lord sent the disciples to the lost sheep as sheep (10:16)- not as shepherds. It is the commonality we have with our audience which is the bridge across which we can engage with them and persuade them. To stress what we have in common on a human level is what sets up the possibility for those 'flash' moments when we really get something of the Gospel across to them.&nbsp;</p> 2791401077<p>10:7&nbsp;<em>And as you go, preach</em>- The idea could be that they were to 'preach' whilst travelling, not just as set piece deliveries of speeches about the Gospel, but the good news of the Kingdom should come out of them from who they were, &quot;as&quot; they were going. The same word is in the great commission to us, to 'go and preach' (Mt. 28:19). It was a foretaste of the greater worldwide campaign which was to be the way of life for all in Christ.&nbsp;</p> <p><em>Saying: The kingdom of heaven-&nbsp;</em>In the person of Jesus, the essence of the Kingdom came nigh to men (Mt. 10:7; 11:4; 12:28)- and this was why one of His titles is &ldquo;the Kingdom&rdquo;. The Kingdom of God is about joy, peace and righteousness more than the physicalities of eating and drinking. In this sense the Kingdom was &ldquo;among&rdquo; first century Israel. The Kingdom of God is not merely a carrot held out to us for good behaviour. It is a reality right now, in so far as God truly becomes our king.</p> <p><em>Is at hand</em>- Mt. 10:7 and Mk. 6:12 parallel preaching the soon coming of the Kingdom with preaching repentance. The Greek could mean 'Is soon coming', 'Is being brought near' or 'Has come near (already)'. All these meanings were likely intended by the Lord, hence the choice of this wide meaning phrase. The Kingdom was potentially scheduled for establishment 'soon', but Israel's refusal of the Gospel and rejection of the Lord Jesus meant that it was delayed. Mt. 21:34 uses the same phrase to describe how the time of harvest 'drew near'- but the husbandmen refused to give the fruits, and so another program of operation was put into practice. Rom. 13:12, James 5:8 and Heb. 10:25 likewise speak of the day of the second coming drawing nearer by the day. Regardless of whatever delays there may be to the Divine program, we are to live as if &quot;The Lord is at hand&quot; (s.w., Phil. 4:5), as if He is about to come soon. In another sense, by response to the Gospel, the time for the establishment of the Kingdom was being hastened, being 'brought near'. But in a sense, the Kingdom had come near to Israel in that Jesus as King of the Kingdom was the embodiment of Kingdom principles, and He was amongst men at that time. Those who witnessed His Kingdom-like healing miracles had the Kingdom brought near to them (Lk. 10:9). The teaching of the Gospel of the Kingdom was therefore a bringing near of the Kingdom to men. The Lord Jesus, the essence and embodiment of the Kingdom, was there amongst men, and the apostles were heralding ['preaching'] His presence.</p> <p></p> 2801401088<p>10:8<em> Heal the sick- </em>The sayings of Jesus have been translated back into Aramaic, the language of His day, by C.F. Burney. He was struck by the degree to which they had a rhythmic shape, like many of the prophetic sayings of the Old Testament. Thus a passage like Lk. 7:22 has six two-beat lines followed at the end by a three beat line; the commission to the disciples here in Mt. 10:8 rhymes, both in Aramaic and in Greek. The Lord&rsquo;s prayer is expressed in two-beat lines. The crunch point of the Lord&rsquo;s forgiveness parable in Lk. 15:7, that there is joy in Heaven over one sinner that repents, uses the device of alliteration, i.e. similarly sounding words.&nbsp;</p> <p>The noun for &quot;heal&quot; is found once, in Heb. 3:5, where in the context of describing the Lord Jesus He is called &quot;a servant&quot;. The acts of healing were done in a servant-like way. This contrasts sharply with the pride associated with many Pentecostal healers. Whatever good we do others, dramatic or not so dramatic, is to be done as an incarnation of the supreme Servant of all, the Lord Jesus. For it is His ministry which we are performing, not ultimately our own.</p> <p><em>Raise the dead</em>- The Greek definitely means 'to awake'. We wonder how many dead people were raised by the apostles, even though the power of resurrection appears to have been granted them here. It's tempting, given the spiritual dimension to the three words chosen here for their work (heal, cleanse, raise), to wonder whether their ministry was intended to be of spiritual service and healing, with physical miracles in second place, although not out of the picture.&nbsp;</p> <p><em>Cleanse the lepers, cast out demons</em>- The word also has the sense of moral cleansing. Again the Lord is giving the disciples the work of the priests to do. For it was their job to pronounce lepers cleansed. But He is asking them to do what He Himself had done in Mt. 8:3. His work was to be theirs.</p> <p><em>Freely you received, freely give</em>- Gk. 'without a cause'. The allusion is not to anything monetary, but to the free gift of God's grace to us. The only other occurrence of the Greek phrase 'give freely' is in Rev. 21:6, where we read of the free gift of the water of eternal life to whoever really wants it. There is a connection between us 'freely giving' the Gospel now (Mt. 10:8), and being given 'freely given' salvation at the last day (Rom. 8:32; Rev. 21:6). The freeness of God&rsquo;s gift to us should be reflected in a free spirited giving out of the Gospel to others. Paul&rsquo;s decision not to take money from Corinth (1 Cor. 9:18) was due to his deep, deep meditation on the principle contained in Mt. 10:8; although there were other passages in the Gospels which he knew implied that it was Christ's will that the missionary should be paid (1 Cor. 9:14 = Mt. 10:10). This issue of payment shows how Paul based his life decisions on his understanding of the principles of the Gospels. He did far more than learn those Gospels parrot-fashion. They were in his heart, and influenced the direction of his life.</p> 2811401099<p>10:9&nbsp;<em>Acquire no gold, nor silver</em>- The idea of the Greek is to get or acquire, and the hint could be against taking money for their work with people. But the meaning extends into verse 10, and the sense is clearly that they were not to worry about how materially they were going to do their preaching tour. They were to trust that what was basically necessary would be provided, just as it was for Israel on their wilderness journey. To just go out and preach with nothing behind them was a huge challenge to their faith in the principles of the Sermon on the Mount, which taught to take no anxious thought for food or clothing (Mt. 6:25). And their obedience and success is likewise a great challenge to our own faith- for so often lack of finance and material things is what leaves many good intentions to preach stillborn. But it is the Lord's will that should spread the Gospel, and as a wise old brother of wide missionary experience told me in my youth &quot;I have never seen a preaching initiative fail for lack of funds&quot;.&nbsp;</p> <p><em>Nor brass for your purses</em>- Even small coins were not to be considered necessary for the missionary work to finally succeed.</p> <p></p> 282140101010<p>10:10&nbsp;<em>No wallet for your journey, neither two coats</em>- Maybe a reference to a double garment. But the similarity with Israel's wilderness journey is clear. No food pouch for the road, no extra clothes or shoes- because as the Father provided those things for Israel, so He would for those who preach His Kingdom.&nbsp;</p> <p><em>Nor shoes, nor staff; for the labourer is worthy of his food</em>- The Lord has used the word about how the labourers are &quot;few&quot;, meaning both weak and also few in number (9:37,38), and He will go on to speak of how the labourers He uses to reap the harvest are those who have been standing around unused by others because they are maybe old, weak, lazy or have a poor work record (Mt. 20:1,2,8). Clearly the Lord recognized that His labourers would be weak, but He still expects them to be recognized as &quot;worthy&quot; of support as they attempt to do His work.</p> <p>The Greek for &quot;food&quot; can mean 'rations', as if they were to be as soldiers on duty. They were to believe that their needs would be met. The mechanism for meeting that need was presumably from the things provided by those who would receive them, although the Lord was clear that they wouldn't always get a positive reception (:14). Their faith in the provision of their needs by their audience was therefore tantamount to faith that some at least would respond positively to their message. Note that by the time Paul wrote 1 Tim. 5:18, this phrase was considered as &quot;Scripture&quot;, another hint at an early date for the writing down of the Gospel accounts. The context of that verse is of the financial support of teachers of the Gospel. It seems the Lord expected that those who gave their lives to spreading and teaching His word should be supported in doing so. Note that the context here in Mt. 10 is of itinerant preachers being supported; Paul doesn't quote the Lord's words strictly in context, because he applies them to teachers based in one particular church. But this is how we are to interpret Scripture- taking the principles and applying them to our situation locally, even if that situation may differ in some ways from the original situation and context in which the principle was first established or stated.</p> <p>There is a strong theme in the NT that none of the Lord's people are ultimately &quot;worthy&quot;, but rather unworthy. There will be faults with all preachers. But by reason of their devotion to the Lord's word and work we are to consider them &quot;worthy&quot; of support- even if aspects of their wider unworthiness are apparent. Support is not only to be given to those who appear faultless, for none are. The word 'worthy' is used later in Matthew 10. Those who respond to the message are &quot;worthy&quot; (:13); there is a mutuality between the teacher and the convert, they both consider each other 'worthy' in that the righteousness and worthiness of the Lord is imputed to them both. Later in the chapter, the Lord teaches that the 'worthy' are those who take up their cross and follow Him, regardless of loss of family and social standing. Their journeys in the preaching of the Gospel were therefore seen by the Lord as a taking up of the cross and following Him (10:37,38). There is nothing therefore glamorous to missionary work, and that point needs to be well understood especially by young people who jet off to exotic places in the name of Gospel extension work.&nbsp;</p> <p>According to Mark&rsquo;s record of the Lord&rsquo;s words here, He is picking out the picture of Israel as they were on Passover night, as an illustration of how His disciples should be on their preaching mission.&nbsp;&quot;He called unto him the twelve, and began to send them forth... and commanded them that they should take nothing for their journey, save a staff only;&nbsp;no scrip, no bread, no money in their purse:&nbsp; but be shod with sandals;&nbsp;and not put on two coats&quot;.&nbsp;&nbsp; All this is couched in the language of Israel on Passover night.&nbsp;His next words for them appear to be stating the obvious, unless they allude to Israel remaining at whatever place they reached until the fire and cloud moved them on: &quot;In what place soever ye enter... there abide till you depart from that place&quot; (Mk. 6:8-10).&nbsp;It must be remembered that God intended Israel to be a missionary nation, teaching the surrounding world of His ways by their example of obedience to His law.&nbsp;As Israel left Egypt with the gold and jewels of Egypt, so, Jesus implied, the disciples were to carry the precious things of the Gospel.</p> 283140101111<p>10:11&nbsp;<em>And into whatever city or village you shall enter, search out who in it is worthy</em>- The contrast is between the worthy and those who don't accept the Gospel (:13,14). So the worthy would be those who have responded to the Gospel already. The Lord's fame had gone throughout Israel (Mt. 4:24) so the apostles weren't going into totally virgin territory. They were following up on the rumours people had already heard about Jesus. &quot;Worthy&quot; seems a strange term to use for the believers, but maybe already the Lord was teaching the idea of imputed righteousness. Those who had believed in Him were &quot;worthy&quot;, and He expected them to likewise consider the preachers of the Gospel to be &quot;worthy&quot; of their support. Belief in Him, therefore, was not without practical demands; it was natural and expected of the Lord that those who had believed in Him should provide materially for His preachers. The first mention of this word for &quot;worthy&quot; in the NT is in Mt. 3:8, where John the Baptist asks his followers to bring forth fruit worthy of repentance. Perhaps 'the worthy' had become a technical term for those who had responded to John's teaching about Jesus, or at least openly confessed faith in Jesus. The mission of the apostles here may have been to follow up on them. This would mean that the information in Lk. 7:4 that a man was &quot;worthy&quot; of a healing may have implied that he was one of those who had responded to John the Baptist.</p> <p><em>And stay with them until you go</em>- To build relationships, to enhance the possibility of a house church developing there later, and to avoid the temptation to shop around for the best accommodation or the wealthiest sympathizers. Luke adds: &ldquo;Go not from house to house&rdquo;. The Lord at least twice stressed to His disciples that they were not to go preaching from house to house, but rather focus upon one house in a village and make that the centre of their work (Lk. 9:4; 10:7). Clearly His intention was that they built up house groups rather than scattered converts. Perhaps this was alluded to by Paul when he criticized sisters who went spreading gossip &ldquo;from house to house&rdquo; (1 Tim. 5:13). He surely had house churches in mind.</p> 284140101212<p>10:12&nbsp;<em>And as you enter into the household, greet it</em>- The Lord empowered the traditional&nbsp;<em>Shalom</em>&nbsp;greeting with real meaning when uttered by the apostles on entering a house. The household were offered real peace with God- all they had to do was say yes to it. If they did not, then the opportunity was withdrawn (:13).</p> 285140101313<p>10:13&nbsp;<em>If the household be worthy</em>- Worthy of Christ (same word in :37,38). None are worthy (Rev. 5:4) except Christ (Rev. 5:9), yet if we are in Him, we are counted worthy. The Greek word is used about those who responded to John the Baptist producing fruit 'worthy of repentance' (Mt. 3:8; Lk. 3:8). It could be that the Lord is using the word in a technical sense, referring to those who had responded to John's preaching.&nbsp;</p> <p>The apostles would have gone to the household because they had heard that it was worthy, or believing in Jesus (see on :11). But the Lord was well aware that there would be those who had a name as believers in Him who actually were not. Even though the household was &quot;worthy&quot; in the sense of having professed faith in Him, they needed to confirm that by accepting the&nbsp;<em>shalom</em>&nbsp;offered in Christ's Name. Note that the household was judged as worthy or unworthy. Here we see the beginnings of the house church movement which was so characteristic of early Christianity. We note too the household baptisms mentioned in the NT. One purpose, therefore, of the apostles visiting these households was to find out who had a name as a Christian believer, and to ascertain whether they were indeed believers. The test was whether the household who claimed to be Christian would receive them, the representatives of Jesus, who were as His body to the world. If the household publicly professed faith in Jesus, having heard something about Him or maybe learnt from John the Baptist, but refused to accept Christ's brethren and the word of Christ as they taught it- then they were classified as not actually believing at all. This has uncanny parallels with our own day, where many claim publicly to be &quot;worthy&quot;, to be believers in Jesus personally- but refuse and reject His brethren and are not seriously interested in His words. Herein lies the danger of 'out of church Christianity'. Whatever that means, if it means in reality that we profess a personal allegiance to Jesus but have no time for His people- then it is wrong and a path to rejection by Him. Vague connection with the idea of Jesus and advertising it publicly is not enough of itself- if we reject His brethren, then we have rejected Him. This is a sobering challenge to those whose closed table policies lead them to reject many of His brethren and representatives. There has to be a connection with the use of the same word &ldquo;worthy&rdquo; in 10:12- the labourer in the Gospel&rsquo;s work is &ldquo;worthy&rdquo; of being supported. The connection could simply be that the worthiness of the household is proven by whether they consider Christ&rsquo;s servants likewise &lsquo;worthy&rsquo;, and whether they treat them accordingly.</p> <p><em>Let your peace come upon it, but if it be unworthy, let your peace return to you</em>- See on 10:12. If the household didn't accept Christ's brethren, then the peace of salvation which He had invested the apostles' greeting with, would be withdrawn. His&nbsp;<em>shalom</em>, His peace and fellowship with those who name His Name, is dependent upon whether or not they accept His brethren.</p> 286140101414<p>10:14&nbsp;<em>And whoever</em>- Whichever town, according to :15.</p> <p><em>Shall not receive you, nor hear your words, as you go out of that household, or that city</em>- To receive an apostle personally was to receive his words. As the Lord was the word made flesh, so there should be a continuity, an identity and congruity between the words we preach and us as persons. This means that the receiving of the preachers as persons was connected with receiving their words.&nbsp;</p> <p><em>Shake off the dust of your feet-&nbsp;</em>The disciples were to shake off the dust of their feet against unbelieving Israel (Mt. 10:14; Mk. 6:11; Acts 8:51), in allusion to the Rabbinic teaching that the dust of Gentile lands caused defilement. Israel who rejected the Gospel were thus to be treated as Gentiles. Time and again the prophets describe the judgments to fall upon Israel in the same terms as they speak of the condemnations of the surrounding nations (e.g. Jer. 50:3,13). The message was clear: rejected Israel would be treated as Gentiles. Thus Joel describes the locust invasion of Israel in the language of locusts covering the face of Egypt (Joel 2:2,20 = Ex. 10:14,15,19). Israel&rsquo;s hardness of heart is explicitly likened to that of Pharaoh (1 Sam. 6:6); as the Egyptians were drowned, so would Israel be (Am. 9:5-8). As Pharaoh&rsquo;s heart was plagued (Ex. 9:14), so was Israel&rsquo;s (1 Kings 8:38); as Egypt was a reed, so were Israel (1 Kings 14:15). As Pharaoh-hophra was given into the hand of his enemies, so would Israel be (Jer. 44:30). Even if we are separated from this world externally, we can still act in a worldly way, and share the world's condemnation by being finally &quot;condemned with the world&quot; (1 Cor. 11:32).</p> 287140101515<p>10:15&nbsp;<em>Truly I say to you, it shall be more tolerable</em>- There will be degrees of punishment for the rejected at the last day.</p> <p><em>For the land of Sodom and Gomorrah in the day of judgment, than for that city</em>- The people from Sodom will appear at the day of judgment. Seeing that knowledge brings responsibility, it follows that somehow those people had had God&rsquo;s word preached to them, just as the towns of first century Israel had. But by whom? There is no direct record of Abraham or Lot witnessing to them, but it could be that Lot&rsquo;s righteous living was counted as a witness to them which demanded they too accepted Lot&rsquo;s righteous lifestyle. Seeing that Melchizedek lived in the area, one wonders whether he may have witnessed to them. In any case, we read only a few incidents from the lives of Bible characters; perhaps Abraham and / or Lot made a major witness to those cities and to the area around them (&ldquo;<em>the land</em>&nbsp;of Sodom&hellip;&rdquo;).</p> 288140101616<p>10:16- see on 24:14.</p> <p><em>I am sending you out</em>- When He uses the metaphor of sending out His sheep in Jn. 10, the Lord makes the point that He leads them forth, going ahead of them. And yet with the sending out of the apostles, He didn&rsquo;t literally go with them nor go a day&rsquo;s journey ahead of them. He went before them in the same way as He goes before us, His sheep of this age- in personal example. As He had gone around Israel preaching, so they were to replicate His ministry. And He is a most unusual shepherd, in that He sends them forth knowing that they are walking right into the wolves. &ldquo;I send you forth&rdquo; is actually a quotation from the LXX of Ex. 3:12, where Moses is sent forth to take Israel out of Egypt. Thus the Lord bids His men see themselves as Moses, taking Israel out of Egypt, which becomes a symbol for orthodox Judaism. This subversion of popular Jewish understandings continues throughout this section.</p> <p><em>As sheep-&nbsp;</em>Bridge building involves us becoming 'as' our target audience- as Paul was a Jew to the Jews and a Gentile to the Gentiles. Thus the Lord tells the disciples to go forth and preach as sheep / lambs; in order to appeal to the lost sheep of Israel (Mt. 10:6). They were to be as sheep to win the sheep.</p> <p><em>In the midst of wolves-&nbsp;</em>The language suggests they would be totally outnumbered. They were making a brave witness in the teeth of aggressive opposition. Jewish teaching was that Israel was the sheep which was surrounded by 70 wolves, seen as the Gentile nations (<em>Pesiqta Rabbati&nbsp;</em>9:2<em>; Tanhuma Toldos</em>&nbsp;5). The Lord is subverting this idea- the apostate, legalistic, Torah-observant Pharisees were in fact Gentiles in the Lord&rsquo;s eyes, and the true Israel was comprised of the secular, spiritually immature followers of Jesus.&nbsp;&nbsp;</p> <p><em>Therefore be wise as serpents-</em>&nbsp;The Lord may not be using the snake here as a symbol of sin or sinful people. He may simply be alluding to the way that when a snake moves into a new area, it is cautious, uses camouflage to blend in, spies out opportunities, doesn&rsquo;t act hastily and doesn&rsquo;t immediately go for what looks the easiest target. These kinds of characteristics were absolutely necessary for the apostles to emulate in their work. The Lord was not a fan of mass rallies and high profile publicity, rather did He prefer to work as quietly as possible and as deeply as possible with individuals; and He wanted His preachers to do the same. Yet again, as with &ldquo;in the midst of wolves&rdquo;, the Lord is alluding to an understanding then common within Judaism; in this case, to&nbsp;<em>Shiyr hashirim Rabba</em>, fol. 16: &ldquo;The holy blessed God said to the Israelites, Ye shall be toward me as upright as the doves; but, toward the Gentiles, as cunning as serpents&rdquo;. The Lord is saying that the Jewish religious leadership, with all their hatred of Gentiles, were to be treated as Gentiles- for this is who they were. And again, the true Israel are the Lord&rsquo;s bungling, hesitant, misunderstanding followers and preachers.&nbsp;</p> <p><em>And harmless as doves</em>- Doves and snakes are not aggressive and move away from conflict- whereas wolves are aggressive. Perhaps that is the Lord&rsquo;s point- be wise, prudent, but not aggressive, and retreat from confrontation.&nbsp;</p> 289140101717<p>10:17&nbsp;<em>But beware of men</em>- As in 10:16, this is an appeal to not be like sheep in their naivety. The apostles were going to suffer, ultimately. Therefore, they should beware of trusting men too quickly, because the aggression towards them was going to be far greater than they imagined. The apostles likely didn&rsquo;t think that the Jewish religious leadership were as bad as the Lord knew them to be, and they were initially too concerned not to upset them (Mt. 15:12). The &ldquo;men&rdquo; of whom they were to &ldquo;beware&rdquo; were surely the Pharisees, because elsewhere the Lord teaches the disciples to &ldquo;beware&rdquo; of them (Mt. 7:15; 16:6,11,12; Lk. 20:46); and He goes on in this verse to speak of &ldquo;<em>their</em>&nbsp;synagogues&rdquo;, showing that &ldquo;men&rdquo; are in fact the Jewish religious leadership.</p> <p><em>For they will deliver you up to councils-&nbsp;</em>Their Sanhedrin. The language of &lsquo;handing over&rsquo;, Sanhedrin and scourging is all relevant to the sufferings of the Lord Jesus. He is teaching here that the preaching of His Gospel is an incarnation of Himself, and will result in our suffering the essence of His own sufferings and death. To go out on the road of missionary witness is to walk the path of the cross. It&rsquo;s not anything glamorous- if done properly as He intended.</p> <p><em>And in their synagogues they will scourge you</em>- Scourging was usually only practiced for blasphemy or breaching public order. Maybe we are to read this in the context of the Lord asking His preachers to be as snakes and doves, to not be provocative and not seek to create public showdowns with the Jewish leadership. Perhaps the Lord foresaw that some of His men would fail in this, and suffer accordingly. Or perhaps He foresaw how belief in Him as God&rsquo;s Son would be classified as the ultimate blasphemy. And yet synagogues could only scourge those who were members. The Lord foresaw that His preachers would remain within the synagogue system rather than leave it totally. The fact Paul was scourged in synagogues (2 Cor. 11:25) shows that in being a Jew to the Jews, he opted to remain within the synagogue system. This fact shows that the Lord Jesus didn&rsquo;t intend His people to formally break with the synagogue system, even though it was apostate in doctrine and practice. This indicates that there was absolutely no sense within Him of &lsquo;guilt by association&rsquo; nor a demand for His people to leave apostate systems- they were to remain there until they were cast out of the synagogues (Jn. 16:2) (See references to the Jewish laws in W. D. Davies and Dale C. Allison,&nbsp;<em>Matthew</em>&nbsp;(Edinburgh: T &amp; T Clark, 1988) Vol. 2 p. 183).&nbsp;</p> 290140101818<p>10:18&nbsp;<em>Yes and before governors and kings you shall be brought for my sake, for a testimony</em>- The Lord wanted to give even kings and rulers the chance of repentance. The legal language suggests that a court case was going on- in the court of Heaven, situations on earth are tried, and the witness of the apostles at their earthly court cases against&nbsp;<em>them</em>&nbsp;was used in the court case&nbsp;<em>against the rulers</em>&nbsp;which was going on in Heaven.</p> <p><em>To them</em>- Or, &quot;against them&quot;. The &ldquo;men&rdquo; of :17, the Jews; for there is a contrast made between &ldquo;them&rdquo; and &ldquo;the Gentiles&rdquo;. In :14 the Lord has taught to shake off the dust of their feet as a &ldquo;witness against&rdquo; the unbelieving Jews (this is added in the parallel records in Mk. 6:11 and Lk. 9:5).&nbsp;</p> <p><em>And to the Gentiles</em>- Yet the commission told the apostles to&nbsp;<em>not</em>&nbsp;go to the Gentiles. The Lord speaks in this wider sense because He wanted them to realize that what He was asking them to do on their brief preaching tour was to be understood by them, even then, as programmatic and prophetic of their (and our) later witness to the entire world, as required by the great commission. The implication is that the &ldquo;men&rdquo; of :17 are the ones who will lead to the disciples being persecuted by Gentiles; and this indeed is how it worked out, due to a program of Jewish orchestrated opposition to the Gospel&rsquo;s spreading. The idea of a testimony to or against the Gentiles is to be found in Mt. 24:14, where we find the same two Greek words used in speaking of the preaching of the Gospel as a&nbsp;<em>testimony</em>&nbsp;to &ldquo;the nations&rdquo; (s.w. &ldquo;Gentiles&rdquo;) in the very last days. The spreading of the Gospel to the whole world will likely be facilitated by high profile, well publicized legal cases against the Gospel&rsquo;s preachers- something perhaps we have yet to see in the last days.&nbsp;</p> 291140101919<p>10:19&nbsp;<em>But when they deliver you up</em>- The Jews (the &ldquo;men&rdquo; of :17, the &ldquo;them&rdquo; of :18) delivering Christian preachers to Gentile powers, after the pattern of what they did to Jesus.</p> <p><em>Do not be anxious how or what you shall speak, for it shall be given to you at that time what to speak</em>- A major theme of the Sermon on the Mount is not to be anxious; the same word occurs in Mt. 6:25,27,28,31,34. Here the Lord is surely saying that the general principles He had taught there would not have specific fulfilment in time of persecution. Likewise &ldquo;for My sake&rdquo; in 10:18 alludes to Mt. 5:11.&nbsp;</p> <p>&quot;Given you&quot; is language appropriate to Moses and prophets like Jeremiah; it is here applied to the Lord's generally secular followers (Ex. 4:10-12; Jer. 1:6-10). He was continually encouraging them to see that ministries which they had never considered possible of realistic emulation were in fact to be their pattern. Time and again, the Lord is saying that His experience under persecution will be ours. For it was&nbsp;<em>given&nbsp;</em>Him what to&nbsp;<em>speak&nbsp;</em>(Jn. 3:34; 12:49 same words) and He wants us to know that if we preach Him and seek to replicate His ministry in our own, then God likewise will strengthen us as He did His own Son. We note that it was likewise&nbsp;<em>given</em>&nbsp;to the apostles what to&nbsp;<em>speak</em>&nbsp;in Acts 2:4; 4:29. They misunderstood the great commission- they twisted it to mean that they must preach to all Jews rather than to all the Gentiles; but by grace, God still kept this aspect of the promise to support obedience to the commission given; even if it was misunderstood.</p> 292140102020<p>10:20&nbsp;For<em> it is not you that speaks, but the Spirit of your Father that speaks in you</em>- Mark has &ldquo;the Holy Spirit&rdquo;, but the reference to God as Father paves the way for the next teaching- that human family will likely forsake us if we are faithful to our true Father (:21). Even although &ldquo;we do not know how to pray for as we ought, the Spirit himself intercedes for us&rdquo; (Rom. 8:26). The Spirit of the Father and Son speaks in us when we pray (Rom. 8:15), if our will / spirit is theirs. To put this in more technical but I think very telling terms: &ldquo;The subject-object scheme of &lsquo;talking to somebody&rsquo; is transcended; He who speaks through us is he who is spoken to&rdquo; (Paul Tillich,&nbsp;<em>Systematic Theology</em>&nbsp;Vol. 3 (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1963) p. 192). It&rsquo;s perhaps the thought behind Mt. 10:20: &ldquo;It is not you who speak, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you&rdquo;. This is why Paul can thank God that he finds himself praying constantly for Timothy (2 Tim. 1:3)- because he recognizes that not only can we influence God by our prayers, bur He influences us in what we pray for.</p> <p>We read &quot;in you&quot;, not, as we might expect, &lsquo;through you&rsquo;. It may be that the Lord is hinting that if we have the Spirit of God within us, if we are thinking in a spiritual way generally in life, then in times of crisis that Spirit which is in us will guide us to say the right things when under pressure. This approach would explain the present tense here, when the context is speaking of the future (:19). He doesn&rsquo;t say &lsquo;It will not be you who will speak, but the Spirit which will speak in you&rsquo;. The present tense is used here in :20 to suggest that if we are&nbsp;<em>now</em>&nbsp;spiritually minded, with our spirit being God&rsquo;s Spirit, then in that future time of crisis we will know how to speak, the words will come out right, because we have lived now in a spiritually minded way. The idea of the Spirit of God speaking in a person, so that their words are not theirs but God&rsquo;s, was language which Jews would&rsquo;ve associated with the Old Testament prophets. Again we see the Lord inviting His secular, immature followers to see themselves as the prophets, those whom they had been taught were in a class of their own, and to whom they as mere secular men could in no way pretend. But the Lord&rsquo;s followers were to be a new Moses, new prophets, a new priesthood, a new Israel.</p> 293140102121<p>10:21&nbsp;<em>And brother shall deliver up brother to death and the father his child, and children shall rise up against parents and cause them to be put to death- </em>&quot;Deliver up&quot; is a term used about the Lord&rsquo;s delivering to death, just as &lsquo;to cause to be put to death&rsquo; is used of His death (Mt. 26:59; 27:1; Mk. 14:55; 1 Pet. 3:18). Our sufferings in the final tribulation, and for preaching the Gospel generally, grant us a fellowship with our Lord&rsquo;s sufferings. Given the close knit nature of Middle Eastern families, the language of family breakup used here would&rsquo;ve been far harder for the initial hearers to accept than it is for many of us. The family was seen as sacrosanct, somehow your family would always be there for you. But the Lord is teaching that the dislike of Him and His message would be such that it would unleash a social and psychological force of hatred such as had not been known previously. Judaism taught that it was only Gentile families which were like this- only Gentiles betrayed their brother, their parents and their children. But the Lord is teaching that through Israel&rsquo;s rejection of Him and His people, Israel were acting like Gentiles and thus becoming as them in God&rsquo;s sight.</p> 294140102222<p>10:22&nbsp;<em>And you shall be hated of all men</em>- This again was Judaism&rsquo;s understanding of Israel&rsquo;s experience in the Gentile world (the word is used of Gentile &lsquo;hate&rsquo; for Israel in Lk. 1:71); but the Lord is teaching that His followers were the true Israel, and the Jewish orthodoxy who hated them were in fact the unsaved Gentile world.</p> <p><em>For My Name&rsquo;s sake</em>- It is the Jews who would do this (Jn. 15:21) and yet by doing so, they would simply be doing what &ldquo;all nations&rdquo; would do the Lord&rsquo;s people &lsquo;for His Name&rsquo;s sake&rsquo; (Mt. 24:9).&nbsp;</p> <p><em>But he that endures to the end, the same shall be saved- </em>It is only by having&nbsp;<em>hupomone</em>&nbsp;that we can be saved (Mt. 24:13 cp. Lk. 21:19). And yet Mt. 10:22 would suggest that it will be difficult to have&nbsp;<em>hupomone</em>&nbsp;in our last days; many will fall away. Our present world is ever changing; stability in work, residence, relationships etc. seems impossible.&nbsp;<em>People give up so easily.&nbsp;</em>The generation brought up on telly and Snickers bars and deregulated Capitalism seeks only immediate resolution and satisfaction; and their short-termism fuels yet further their endless quest for the new and novel. And yet&nbsp;<em>we</em>&nbsp;must endure to the end in our work for the Lord and our relationship with Him, believing the same One Faith, living the same spiritual life which those doctrines demand. He amongst us who has&nbsp;<em>hupomone&nbsp;</em>to the end of the last generation, right up to the day when the Lord comes, the same will be saved (Mt. 24:13). The Lord Jesus had&nbsp;<em>hupomone</em>, it lead Him to the cross and beyond; and we must share His spirit of&nbsp;<em>hupomone</em>&nbsp;if we would ultimately share in His salvation (2 Thess. 3:5; Rev. 1:9; 3:10).</p> <p>The &ldquo;end&rdquo; in view may well be the Lord&rsquo;s second coming, when &ldquo;the Son of Man comes&rdquo; (:23), in the context of the latter day preaching of the Gospel during the tribulation; for this passage in Matthew 10 is repeated in the Olivet prophecy in this same context. But not all readers of these words will have lived at that time. James so often comments upon Matthew&rsquo;s Gospel, and James 5:11 is the only other place in the NT where the words for &lsquo;enduring&rsquo; and &lsquo;end&rsquo; occur: &ldquo;We count them happy which endure [an allusion to the &lsquo;blessedness&rsquo; of the Beatitudes as recorded in Matthew]. You have heard of the patience [endurance] of Job, and have seen the&nbsp;<em>end</em>&nbsp;of the Lord&rdquo;. The &ldquo;end&rdquo; may therefore refer to the end of the period of trial in some aspect which the Lord brings into the life of a believer.</p> 295140102323<p>10:23&nbsp;<em>But when they persecute you-</em>&nbsp;Persecution was and is a matter of &lsquo;when&rsquo; rather than &lsquo;if&rsquo;. The parable of the sower likewise assumes that persecution because of the word will definitely come. &ldquo;Persecute&rdquo; is yet another word which figures frequently in the Sermon on the Mount (Mt. 5:10,11,12,44) as an event bound to happen to those who follow the Lord. So often, believers stumble because their experience of it catches them off guard. But we are to expect it, and a life lived under Sermon on the Mount principles will prepare us for the moments of crisis when persecution comes to us in direct and ugly forms. &nbsp;</p> <p><em>In this city</em>- Which city? The fulfilment of this prediction was surely in the persecution of the Christians which began in Jerusalem; but Jesus was not then talking in Jerusalem. But &ldquo;this city&rdquo; could be translated &ldquo;that city&rdquo;, and the city every Jew had in mind was Jerusalem.</p> <p><em>Flee into the next</em>- Fleeing persecution was a characteristic of the persecuted prophets and righteous. Hebrews 11 is full of allusion to the language in which Judaism's heroes were spoken about in the first century, and Heb. 11:34 speaks of how the Old Testament heroes of faith&nbsp;<em>fled</em>&nbsp;the edge of the sword (s.w.). Again and again, the Lord is seeking to inspire His secular followers that they are not to glance at those men as icons of a faith far beyond they themselves, but to realize their significance, and to be as them in the history of the new Israel that was now being created.</p> <p><em>For truly I say to you, you shall not have gone through the cities of Israel, until the Son of Man comes</em>- The construction could mean that&nbsp;<em>when&nbsp;</em>they had gone over the cities of Israel, then the Son of Man would come. &quot;Gone over&quot; translates&nbsp;<em>teleo</em>, the noun of which the Lord has just used in the preceding verse (:22) in saying that despite persecution for preaching, they must endure to &quot;the end&quot;. All this was His intention for the disciples in the first century, but this whole section of Matthew 10 is later repeated in the Olivet Prophecy, which clearly has reference to the last days. When the witness to Israel is ended, then the Lord will return. The whole picture of preaching within Israel whilst enduring fierce persecution is exactly the picture we get from a futuristic understanding of parts of the book of Revelation. I have outlined such an interpretation in my&nbsp;<em>The Last Days</em>.</p> <p>The idea could be that they would still have cities to flee to right up to the point when the Son of Man comes. The preachers of the Gospel will somehow be preserved in the final tribulation- that would appear to be the message, although Rev. 11 and other passages hint that some at least of them will due.&nbsp;</p> 296140102424<p>10:24&nbsp;A<em> disciple is not above his teacher, nor a servant above his lord</em>- The Lord is partly speaking to the possible desire in some of the disciples to be martyrs for His cause. Peter's attitude in Gethsemane was clearly of that nature, and some of the disciples came from radicalized, fanatical backgrounds. Martyrdom was a common concept in the first century, and the Lord's warning to flee persecution, to bring about a quiet revolution rather than a political one, was aimed at warning against any desire for a quick, glamorous death for the sake of the Kingdom. In the context, He has warned them to flee persecution (:23). He could be saying that the game plan was that&nbsp;<em>He</em>&nbsp;was to die in 'that city' of Jerusalem, but&nbsp;<em>they</em>&nbsp;were to seek to preserve their lives so that they could make a longer and more effective witness to Him. They were not 'above' Him- He was the one who had to die as the perfect sacrifice, not them. They were to be 'as' Him in terms of personality (:25), and be satisfied with that- it was to be &quot;enough&quot; for them to bear His reproach (:25). The Lord elsewhere taught Peter that the time for martyrdom would indeed come for Peter- but not right then. So there is the possibility that the Lord is implying 'You are not at this stage&nbsp;<em>huper</em>&nbsp;(&quot;above&quot;) Me, for the moment, focus on being &quot;as&quot; Me (:25), as disciples learning to copy their teacher'. This suggestion is strengthened by the fact that Paul later writes that we are indeed to be&nbsp;<em>huper</em>&nbsp;Christ, in the sense of being instead of Him, for His sake, in our witness. Thus we are to preach &quot;<em>huper</em>&nbsp;Christ... in Christ's stead [<em>huper</em>&nbsp;again]&quot; (2 Cor. 5:20), suffering in the work of preaching&nbsp;<em>huper&nbsp;</em>Christ (2 Cor. 12:10; Phil. 1:29; Col. 1:24), giving our lives&nbsp;<em>huper</em>&nbsp;Christ (Acts 15:26), in response to Christ's death&nbsp;<em>huper</em>&nbsp;us (Rom. 5:8 and often). So when the Lord taught in Mt. 10:24 that the disciples were not to give their lives&nbsp;<em>huper</em>&nbsp;Him their Lord and Master, He might have meant 'at this time'. The time would come, but for then, they were to focus on learning of Him.&nbsp;</p> 297140102525<p>10:25&nbsp;<em>It is enough-&nbsp;</em>As explained on :24, the Lord may be teaching that the apostles were not to eagerly choose a martyr's death- that was for Him, not them. It was enough for them that they shared in His sufferings by being slandered as He was.</p> <p><i><em>For the disciple that he be as his Master</em></i>- See on :24.</p> <p><em>If they have called the Master of the house-</em>&nbsp;The head of household. A term often used by the Lord in His parables. And yet He implies that this role is to be functionally aspired to by us. Those instructed in the things of the Kingdom are like a 'master of the house' (Mt. 13:52), and as the household's master would watch for the thief coming, so&nbsp;<em>we&nbsp;</em>are to fulfil His function and watch (Mt. 24:43,44).&nbsp;</p> <p><em>Beelzebub</em>- 'Beelzebub' has various possible meanings, but one of them is 'Lord of the house'. By using this term, the Lord's critics were implying He did in fact have a household over whom He was Master and Lord. The Lord is saying that He is the head of the family, the household, and the disciples are His&nbsp;<em>oikiakos</em>, His relatives, His family (&quot;them of His household&quot;). This idea of disciples being part of a new family based around their teacher, with them all thereby becoming brothers and sisters, was unheard of in the various schools of the Rabbis. A Rabbi had disciples, but the imagery of family was not used. The family unit was exalted as supreme in importance, and could not be emulated in other contexts. The Lord is teaching that the bonds between Him and His followers were so strong that they were indeed a new family, of more importance and significance than the natural family, which no longer claimed first loyalty in the lives, feelings and self-perceptions of His followers. Even today, this is a radical challenge- for so many turn back from full discipleship because of placing loyalty to family above loyalty to Christ. The reasoning is that what we do for family is done for Christ, and family must come first. But time and again the Lord's teaching is that our spiritual family are to come&nbsp;<em>before</em>&nbsp;our natural family. So many divisions and dysfunctions within the Lord's body are caused by those who name His Name insisting on putting their family unity before the unity of&nbsp;<em>His</em>&nbsp;family. We can't fellowship&nbsp;<em>them</em>&nbsp;because if we do, then uncle Tommy won't fellowship&nbsp;<em>us</em>... and so the selfish destruction of the Lord's body continues by those who love themselves more than their Lord.&nbsp;</p> <p><em>How much more them of his household!-&nbsp;</em>At first blush, this may seem strange. Usually the charismatic, visible leader attracts more slander than his individual supporters. But we see here the Lord's sensitivity to every individual experience of slander for His sake- for He presumably means 'The&nbsp;sum total of all the suffering of My preachers down the centuries until I return will be far more than what I personally shall suffer from the Jews'. We see here His loveliness- His grace, His generosity of spirit, His sensitivity to all we suffer for Him.</p> <p></p> 298140102626<p>10:26&nbsp;<em>Therefore fear them not-</em>&nbsp;Because of the detailed judgment which is to come, at which every name calling, every suffering, shall be openly revealed for what it is and judged- why fear men and their religious elites, or even death itself (social or literal) at the hands of their persecution.&nbsp;</p> <p><em>For there is nothing</em>- The Greek could be translated 'Nobody'. This would fit with the sense of the next verse, which is that we as persons should not hide ourselves but come out in the open now, just as we shall be openly revealed at judgment day.&nbsp;</p> <p><em>Covered</em>- The Lord uses the same word to warn against 'covering' our light in the sense of not openly preaching and showing who we are (Lk. 8:16).&nbsp;</p> <p><em>That shall not be revealed</em>- Judgment has a sense of 'now, but not yet'. Thoughts are revealed now, both to God and to ourselves (if we are perceptive enough to know ourselves); and this is especially stimulated and enabled by reflection upon the cross (Lk. 2:35 s.w.). And yet the public revealing of our thoughts and who we essentially are will be done publicly at the day of judgment (1 Cor. 3:13 s.w.). In this sense, 'we make the answer now'. More on this huge theme in&nbsp;<em>Judgment to Come</em>.&nbsp;</p> <p><em>And nothing hid that shall not be known</em>- The Father right now &quot;sees in secret&quot; (Mt. 6:4,6,18 s.w.). So the concept of being able to even be 'hidden' from Him is foolish. Again, we are to live as if we are at judgment day. Therefore our light of the Gospel should not be placed in a 'hidden place' (Lk. 11:33 s.w.)- the idea of&nbsp;<em>not</em>&nbsp;preaching, concealing our faith, is foolish because we shall come out in the open about it at the last day anyway. The &quot;secrets of men&quot; (s.w. 'hidden') shall be judged openly (Rom. 2:16), the &quot;hidden things of darkness&quot; will be made manifest (1 Cor. 4:5)- not to God, who sees them right now anyway, but to ourselves and to others. We are therefore to 'come out' with the Gospel now, whatever the cost, and take comfort that &quot;the hidden man [s.w.] of the heart&quot; is noticed by God and it is this which shall be judged (1 Pet. 3:4).</p> 299140102727<p>10:27&nbsp;<em>What I tell you</em>- It could be argued that the content of the Gospel which is to be preached is therefore to be the words of Jesus, what He told the disciples. That is certainly how they understood it, for the four Gospel records are transcripts of the early preaching of the Gospel by the disciples, and they are just that- what the Lord told the disciples.</p> <p><em>In the darkness</em>- In the same way as the day of judgment will be a bringing to light what was done and said in darkness (:26), we should live now in that transparent spirit, openly speaking the Gospel, not hiding it, bearing in mind that one day and for eternity, it will be openly revealed who we are and what we believe. The Lord later stated that &quot;in secret [s.w. &quot;hid&quot; in :26] have I said nothing&quot; (Jn. 18:20). He was for a moment adopting the perspective of the disciples, just as He does with the language of demons;&nbsp;<em>to them</em>, what He was telling them was said in darkness, was hidden. But it was not to remain hidden within their hearts and brain cells, they were to speak it forth&nbsp;<em>now</em>, in that they were to live in the spirit of judgment day today. There are many allusions to Job in the New Testament; far more than may be apparent on the surface. Mt. 10:27 is one of them: &quot;What I tell you in darkness, that speak ye in light: and what ye hear in the ear, that preach ye upon the housetops&quot;. The idea of God telling us things in the ear which we must then openly declare is surely looking back to Job's words in Job 42:5. &quot;Darkness&quot; is also a Job idea; the word occurs at least 30 times in the book. The final appearance of Yahweh in the darkness of the thundercloud was His reproof of Job's repeated suggestion that the darkness of sin somehow separated God from involvement with man. What Job was told out of darkness, he had to speak forth in the light. It seems that Job's spiritual growth is being picked up by the Lord and presented as our pattern. He does the same in Lk. 18:30, another of the allusions to Job in the New Testament, when He speaks of how each of us must give up house, wife, brethren and children for the Kingdom&rsquo;s sake, and then afterwards receive &ldquo;manifold more in this time, and in the world to come&hellip;&rdquo;. This is exactly the position of Job (Job 42:10), and yet the Lord applies it to each of us.&nbsp;</p> <p><em>Speak in the light</em>- This verse is repeated in Lk. 12:3 but from a different perspective: &quot;Therefore whatever you have said in the darkness shall be heard in the light, and what you have whispered behind closed doors shall be proclaimed upon the housetops&quot;. We are to preach upon the housetops what the Lord told us in the ear. But what&nbsp;<em>we</em>&nbsp;have spoken in the ear, or whispered, shall likewise be broadcast from the housetops. Nothing will be secret in the day of judgment, and so we are not be secretive about our faith now. We are to live as if we are in the Lord's judgment day presence- because in essence, we are. For judgment is going on right now. John's take on light and darkness is that Jewish society was the darkness in which the light of Christ was shining (Jn. 1:5; 12:46). The Lord may therefore be implying that they were still partially in darkness, and into that darkness He had come and was showing them the light.</p> <p><em>And what you hear in the ear-&nbsp;</em>The personal relationship which we have had with Christ will be very evident at the judgment. What we say to Christ in His ear in the bedroom in the darkness, will be openly spoken by Christ at the judgment (Lk. 12:2,3). God dwells in darkness (Ex. 20:21; 1 Kings 8:12). Speaking in the bedroom in secret with the knowledge we will be openly rewarded is the language of prayer (Mt. 6:6). Our private relationship with the Lord now, praying to Him in our bedroom, meditating about Him there, will then be spoken out loud. But there is a related statement from the Lord: What we hear from Him in the ear, we must speak openly (Mt. 10:26,27; after the pattern of Isaiah in 22:14). Putting these passages together, we get the picture of us speaking to God through Christ, talking in His ear, as one might whisper something very personal into a friend's ear, in the darkness of our bedroom. And then the Lord whispers back in our ear, i.e. His revelation to us (through the word) is very personal and not perceived by others; but we must openly, publicly act upon it. And this private relationship we have with the Lord in our prayer life will then be revealed openly at the judgment. God told Samuel &quot;in his ear&quot; about Saul's future, and although the message must have been hard to relay to Saul, Samuel did so, on the housetop (1 Sam. 9:15,25). The similarities with the Lord's words are too close to be accidental. Surely He saw each of us as passing through the essential experience of Samuel. As we witness our relationship with Christ to an unspiritual world now, so He will&nbsp;speak openly of us to God (Mt. 10:32; Rev. 3:5), Angels (Lk. 12:8) and to the world (Lk. 12:2,3). He will openly confess our name, i.e. our character and personality. What we have said to Him privately will be revealed in the light, i.e. in the Kingdom (Col. 1:12). &nbsp;Preaching on the housetops is built on the language of 1 Sam. 9:15,25, where God speaks in Samuel&rsquo;s ear, and then he speaks that word to Saul on the housetop. The Lord is saying that in essence, we are all in Samuel&rsquo;s position; we hear the word of this world&rsquo;s salvation, the word about &ldquo;the Kingdom&rdquo; as it was for Saul, and that very fact is in itself the imperative to overcome our natural reservations and share it with those for whom it is intended- even if, as with Saul, we consider them unlikely and unspiritual hearers.</p> <p>The outcome of the judgment seat will be a reflection of our&nbsp;attitude to witnessing to others: &quot;What you (the twelve disciples) hear in the ear, that preach upon the housetops...&nbsp;<em>whosoever&nbsp;</em>therefore shall confess Me before men, him will I confess also before My Father which is in heaven&quot; (Mt. 10:27,32). The Lord seems to go beyond briefing His men before they set off on their preaching mission; He goes on to say that in a sense,&nbsp;<em>whoever</em>&nbsp;follows their example will be confessed before the Father. Notice what He&nbsp;<em>isn't&nbsp;</em>saying: He isn't saying that if you're keen about preaching, this is the be-all-and-end-all of spiritual life, and this alone will guarantee your acceptance with God. He says that what we hear (i.e. believe) in the ear, our own very personal understanding and belief of the Gospel, must be spread abroad openly to others. Our salvation is through faith in God's absolute grace; but if it is&nbsp;<em>real</em>&nbsp;faith, we will preach it on the housetops, we simply can't keep the knowledge of&nbsp;<em>such</em>&nbsp;grace, such great salvation, to ourselves.&nbsp;</p> <p><em>Proclaim upon the housetops</em>- According to the Talmud (<em>Shabbat&nbsp;</em>35b), it was the priests who were to proclaim the commencement of the Sabbath by blasts on the shophar from the housetops. Again, the Lord takes language appropriate to the professional religionists and applies it to His largely secular followers. All the time He was seeking to encourage them that&nbsp;<em>they</em>&nbsp;were to do this work. And the proclamation of the Kingdom is thus turned into a form of proclaiming a Sabbath of rest. Hebrews uses the language of the Sabbath concerning the Kingdom of God. The idea of teaching upon the housetops what we hear in the ear is language which surely alludes to how Isaiah and the prophets heard God's word in their ear and then taught it to others (Is. 5:9; 50:4). The idea was that the Lord&rsquo;s followers were not to see the prophets as pale faced, iconic figures- but to realize they were no less than them in their service of God and His Son.</p> 300140102828<p>10:28&nbsp;<em>And do not be afraid-</em>&nbsp;The Lord was quite clear that His followers should expect death and serious suffering for preaching Him. He perceived that fear of audience response would be a strong factor in the temptation not to preach Him. But He gave the reason for not fearing in :26- all shall be revealed at the day of judgment. Belief in the doctrine of final judgment therefore has huge impact upon life in practice- in this case, giving us strength not to fear the consequences of our witness. For many believers today, persecution unto death is not a likely consequence of witness; fear of slight embarrassment, being thought &lsquo;odd&rsquo; for turning a conversation around, is a very small price. The Lord is asking us here to accept that witness for Him may well cost us death. If we accept that, accept it as part and parcel of the Lord&rsquo;s basic message, then our approach to witness will be quite different. Fear of audience response will no longer be a major factor, if we have solemnly accepted that we are prepared to die for the sake of preaching the Gospel. Luke&rsquo;s record adds: &ldquo;I say unto you&nbsp;<em>My friends</em>, Be not afraid of them&hellip;&rdquo; (Lk. 12:4). If we are His friends, the friends of the Son of God, the prince of the kings of the earth- why fear audience response when we witness? The laboured assurances of the next verses about being of more value than sparrows etc. are all in the context, therefore, of assuring us that we need not ultimately fear negative response to our witness.</p> <p><em>Of those that kill the body but are not able to kill the soul-&nbsp;</em>It is our &lsquo;real self&rsquo; which will eternally endure. In this sense, for the faithful, their body may be killed but their soul cannot be. I take this to mean that who they essentially are is for ever recorded by the Lord, and they will be given that same personality at the resurrection. Significantly, the Bible speaks not of the &lsquo;resurrection of the body&rsquo; [it&rsquo;s the creeds which speak of this], but rather &ldquo;the resurrection of the just&rdquo;, &ldquo;the resurrection of the dead&rdquo;. The resurrection is more about resurrected characters than resurrected bodies, although the process will involve a new body being given.</p> <p><em>But rather fear Him who is able to destroy</em>- See on 16:25&nbsp;<em>lose it</em>.&nbsp;</p> <p><em>Both soul and body-</em>&nbsp;The inference can be drawn that the rejected will have both soul and body destroyed at the last day. This means there must be a resurrection of the body- and then the destruction of that body in the condemnation process, as well as of their &quot;soul&quot;.&nbsp;<em>Psuhe</em>&nbsp;has a wide range of meaning- sometimes it can mean simply the body, at other times, the essential personality. This too will be destroyed, for the memory of the rejected will be forgotten, they will cease to exist in all dimensions. There should be a &quot;fear&quot; of rejection; there are more details, more frequently, about the condemnation experience than the joy of acceptance in that day. This is not negative psychology; the Lord in His wisdom knew that this was necessary for us, to keep ever before us the sense of the future we may miss. This should be our fear, far more than death or social rejection by those to whom we witness.</p> <p><em>In Gehenna</em>- The Jews believed that &lsquo;hell&rsquo; had three sections: Gehenna, a place of eternal fire for those Jews who broke the covenant and blasphemed God; &lsquo;the shades&rsquo;, an intermediate place similar to the Catholic idea of purgatory; and a place of rest where the faithful Jew awaited the resurrection at the last day. This distinction has no basis in the Bible. However, it&rsquo;s significant that the Lord Jesus uses &lsquo;Gehenna&rsquo; and the figure of eternal fire to describe the punishment of people for what the Jews of His day would&rsquo;ve considered incidental sins, matters which were far from blasphemy and breaking the covenant &ndash; glancing at a woman with a lustful eye (Mk. 9:47), hypocrisy (Lk. 12:1,5; Mt. 23:27&ndash;33), not giving a cup of water to a &ldquo;little one&rdquo;, forbidding a disciple of John the Baptist to follow Jesus (Mk. 9:39&ndash;43); not preaching the Gospel fearlessly and boldly (Mt. 10:25&ndash;28). These matters were and are shrugged off as of no eternal consequence. But just like the prophets of Israel did, the Lord Jesus seizes upon such issues and purposefully associates them with the most dire possible punishment which His Jewish hearers could conceive &ndash; Gehenna. Time and again, the Bible alludes to incorrect ideas and reasons with people from the temporary assumption those ideas might be true. The language of demons, as we will show later, is a classic example. And it&rsquo;s quite possible the Lord is doing the same here with the concept of Gehenna &ndash; the punishment for the Jew who breaks the covenant and blasphemes. The Lord was primarily teaching about behaviour, not giving a lecture about the state of the dead. And so He takes the maximum category of eternal punishment known to His audience, and says that this awaits those who sin in matters which on His agenda are so major, even if in the eyes of the Jewish world and humanity generally they were insignificant.</p> 301140102929<p>10:29&nbsp;<em>Are not two sparrows-&nbsp;</em>&ldquo;An inscription of the Emperor Diocletian setting out the maximum prices that might be paid for various articles of commerce shows that sparrows were the cheapest of birds used for food...&rdquo; (Leon Morris,&nbsp;<em>The Gospel According to Matthew</em>&nbsp;(Leicester: I.V.P., 1992)). This is another example of the Lord&rsquo;s radical collision course with the Rabbis; He taught that God&rsquo;s care even embraces sparrow. For the Rabbis explicitly forbad prayers that mentioned God&rsquo;s care for birds, because they argued that it was dishonouring to God to associate Him with something so small as a bird (<em>Berith</em>&nbsp;5.3). And the Lord purposefully stood that idea upon its head. The Rabbis had a whole list of unforgivable sins, like murder, apostasy, contempt for the Law, etc. But the Lord went further. His many words of judgment weren&rsquo;t directed to the murderers and whores and Sabbath breakers; they were instead directed against those who condemned those people, considering themselves righteous. He calls those who appeared so righteous a &lsquo;generation of vipers&rsquo;. The publican, not the Pharisee, finds God&rsquo;s acceptance, according to Jesus. And again, the Lord is making a telling point- because Rabbis held that repentance for publicans was almost impossible, because it was impossible for them to know exactly all the people they&rsquo;d cheated. Very clearly, the Lord&rsquo;s message was radical. He was out to form a holy people from whores and gamblers, no-good boys and conmen. And moreover, He was out to show that what God especially judges and hates are the things that humanity doesn&rsquo;t think twice about: hypocrisy, self-righteousness, judgmentalism, exclusion of others&hellip;&nbsp;</p> <p><em>Sold for a very small coin- </em>An <i>assarion</i> / farthing, the tenth part of a drachma / denarius, which was a day's pay for a labourer. The Matthew record has the Lord saying that two sparrows are sold for one farthing; Luke 12:6 records that He said that five sparrows were sold for two farthings. So what did the Lord really say? I suggest something like this: 'As you know, two sparrows are sold for one farthing, they cost half a farthing each; but often, as you know,&nbsp;<em>five&nbsp;</em>sparrows are sold for&nbsp;<em>two</em>&nbsp;farthings, they'll throw one extra in for free, they're worth so little'.</p> <p><em>And not one of them shall fall on the ground-&nbsp;</em>One sparrow &quot;shall not fall&nbsp;on&nbsp;the&nbsp;ground&nbsp;without (the knowledge of) your Father&quot;. God is aware of the death of each bird- He does not allow animals to die due to their natural decay (the clockwork mechanism) without Him being actively involved in and conscious of their death. Again, Jesus shows how God's knowledge&nbsp;and participation in the things of the natural creation must imply an even greater awareness of us. &quot;The very hairs of your head are all numbered&hellip; you are of more value than many sparrows&quot; (Mt. 10:30,31). God hasn&rsquo;t wound up this world and left it ticking by clockwork, dispassionately looking on as Israel and all His people make such a mess of things. He sends the rain, consciously; not a sparrow falls from the air [i.e., as the result of a man&rsquo;s sling stone- for birds die in their nests usually, not in mid-flight] without Him being aware, and, by implication, grieving for it. He even knows how much sparrows are sold for. &nbsp;See on 6:26.</p> <p><em>Without your Father</em>- The Lord was &ldquo;the word made flesh&rdquo;. All that He taught, He in some way experienced and obeyed. In the time of His persecution and death, He fell to the ground literally (same words- Mk. 14:35) as well as figuratively (same words Jn. 12:24); and called out to the &ldquo;Father&rdquo;. Clearly He had in mind His own earlier teaching; but how hard and demanding it was for Him to live it out.&nbsp;</p> 302140103030<p>10:30&nbsp;<em>But the very hairs of your head are all numbered- </em>see 2 Sam. 1:23.&nbsp;The redeemed are a community whom man cannot number (Rev. 7:9), as many as the stars in the sky which neither Abraham nor any man could number. The Lord may be making an allusion to this in order to highlight the scale of knowledge which God has- He numbers the community of believers exactly, over space and over time, and He also numbers the hairs on every one of His people. This vast knowledge of God is often referred to in the Psalms as a guarantee that therefore God will ultimately protect His people. Lk. 21:18, which we have shown to have similarities with the preaching commission of Mt. 10, comments that &ldquo;there shall not an hair of your head perish&rdquo;. The question is whether the Lord is assuring His preachers that they will not ultimately die; it might sound like it, from such assurance. And yet earlier verses in the preaching commission sound as if the preachers will indeed suffer, quite possibly unto death. And we know that some of them did suffer death. So what are we to make of these assurances of protection, so strong that the preacher should be fearless and not fear death as a consequence for preaching? I suggest that the Lord, as often in His teaching, is speaking on an elevated, spiritual level. The possibility of death for witness is a clear theme of His, especially in Revelation. These strong assurances of protection and salvation from death would therefore be His way of saying that His ultimate salvation of His preachers at the resurrection will involve the preservation of them as unique personalities, down to the hairs of their head. And therefore they should not fear death in this life. For He knows them. The fear of death revolves around the sense that I as the sum of all my experiences, my uniqueness, shall be no more- and the Lord is urging us to believe that God not only knows our unique attributes better than we do, but shall ultimately preserve them in the resurrection of the body and in the nature of the life eternal.</p> 303140103131<p>10:31 <em>Therefore fear not</em>- The Lord is asking a lot here; He&rsquo;s asking for us to preach without fear of consequence and audience reaction. That is a step beyond preaching knowing the likely price, and being willing to pay that price. To know that price and yet preach without fear is a step beyond being willing to accept consequence.</p> <p><em>You are of more value than many sparrows</em>- The same word is used in the same context in Mt. 6:26. Having spoken of how God provides for the birds of the air, the Lord drives home the comparison: &ldquo;Are you not much better [s.w. &ldquo;of more value&rdquo;] than them?&rdquo;. The term is again used in Mt. 12:12: &ldquo;How much then is a man better than a sheep&rdquo;. We must give full weight to this triple emphasis on how much more valuable we are than the mortal animals whom God is so careful for. The request that we do not fear is repeated and laboured throughout the section. It is fear of what others think and may do which so often holds us back from witness, be it to family members or literally approaching people on the street. With such laboured assurances, we are to overcome fear and &ldquo;therefore&rdquo; preach openly- this is the force of the &ldquo;therefore&rdquo; in :32.</p> 304140103232<p>10:32- see on 10:27.</p> <p><em>Therefore</em>- See on :31 &ldquo;more value&rdquo;. The sense here is &lsquo;accordingly&rsquo;- in accordance with the colossal emphasis upon not being held back one bit by fear of consequence, we are to accordingly confess Christ before men. The requirement not to fear but to confess is so strong that it could be called a first principle of the Lord&rsquo;s teaching. We are to be fearless in witness.</p> <p><em>Everyone who shall confess me before men-&nbsp;</em>Confessing Christ before men can also be an allusion to baptism, not just bucking up the courage to give someone a tract at work (Mt. 10:32 = Rom. 10:9,10). This allusion is confirmed when we realize that &ldquo;confess&rdquo; translates two Greek words, &lsquo;to confess in&rsquo;. We confess in Christ by baptism into Him. In another sense, our witness is because we are in Christ, we are Him to the world, and therefore His fearlessness unto death in witness should be ours. The Lord spoke of how if we confess Him before men, He will confess knowledge of us before the Father; and if we deny Him, He will deny us. This language is applied by John to John the Baptist- for he comments that John the Baptist &quot;confessed and denied not, but confessed, I am not the Christ&quot; (Jn. 1:20). In this sense, John Baptist is being set up as our example in preaching- and again, John comments that we too are to confess the Son and not deny Him (1 Jn. 2:23), after the pattern of John the Baptist. And yet note what John's 'confession' was- it was a profession of his unworthiness, that although he was the herald of the Christ, he was not Jesus. Again, we see here a pattern for our witness to the Lord. Eph. 6:15 speaks of our each being 'sandaled' with the preparation of the Gospel. Who prepared the way of the Lord by preaching, wearing sandals? John the Baptist. It seems Paul is alluding to John here, setting him up as the preacher's example. The reference to &quot;loins girt&quot; (Eph. 6:14) would also be a John allusion- the record twice (in Mt. 3:4; Mk. 1:6) stresses how John had his 'loins girded'.</p> <p>When He says He will confess&nbsp;<em>us</em>&nbsp;before the Father, He means He will confess&nbsp;<em>our name</em>&nbsp;before God (Rev. 3:5); He knows us according to our names / characters. He speaks of ecclesial members as &quot;names&quot; in Rev. 3:4; He calls His own sheep by name, and they each know His voice, responding to His word&nbsp;<em>individually</em>. The call to one sheep will only be recognized by that sheep; the others won't respond (Jn. 10:3). He will take individual note of each sheep, treating them accordingly, as the shepherd leads more gently those that are with young (Is. 40:11). It seems that even now, we each have our own individual name with the Father and Son, encompassing their understanding of our essential character. It may even be that in the record of Scripture, God inspired the writers to record the names of individuals according to His judgment of them (or at least, how the faithful viewed them at the time), rather than by the names they actually went under. What mother would have named her child Nabal (fool), or Ahira (brother of evil, Num. 1:15), or 'sickness' or 'wasting' (Mahlon and Chilion)? These names were either given to them by others and the use adopted by God, or simply God in the record assigned them such names.&nbsp;&nbsp;</p> <p>The same two words for &quot;confess [in]&quot; are found in Rom. 10:9 &ldquo;If you shall&nbsp;<em>confess with</em>&nbsp;your mouth the Lord Jesus&hellip; you shall be saved&rdquo;. The idea of&nbsp;<em>homolegeo</em>&nbsp;seems to be of public confession; literally to&nbsp;<em>homo-logos</em>. The Lord has just used the word&nbsp;<em>logos</em>&nbsp;with reference to the &ldquo;words&rdquo; of our preaching before men (10:14).&nbsp;<em>Homo</em>&nbsp;has the sense of being together with others. It can carry the sense of &lsquo;assent&rsquo;, in that our<em> logos</em>&nbsp;comes together with the&nbsp;<em>logos</em>&nbsp;of another; but the majority of NT usage is clearly with the sense of professing, making our&nbsp;<em>logos</em>&nbsp;before others. At the day of judgment, the Lord will &ldquo;profess&rdquo; His verdict to men (Mt. 7:23) and here we learn that He will &ldquo;profess&rdquo; it to His Father too. The weight of evidence on the basis of usage is that this word refers to public profession of a&nbsp;<em>logos</em>, of our innermost thought- which is exactly in line with the themes of the Sermon on the Mount: that our internal thought and position, our&nbsp;<em>logos</em>, is crucially important; but if it is a Christ-like&nbsp;<em>logos</em>&nbsp;then it will be impossible to conceal it, it must naturally become public, for a city set on a hill cannot be hid. Consider the evidence:<br /> -Herod&nbsp;<em>confessed</em>&nbsp;[AV &ldquo;promised&rdquo;] with an oath&rdquo; in front of witnesses to give Herodias&rsquo; daughter whatever she wished (Mt. 14:7)<br /> - John the Baptist&nbsp;<em>confessed</em>&nbsp;in his preaching (Jn. 1:20)<br /> - If anyone&nbsp;<em>confessed&nbsp;</em>openly that Jesus was Messiah, then they would be cast out of the synagogue (Jn. 9:22; 12:42)<br /> - The Pharisees&nbsp;<em>confessed</em>&nbsp;their doctrinal positions, i.e. they openly taught them (Acts 23:8)<br /> - Paul&nbsp;<em>confessed</em>&nbsp;his beliefs publicly when on trial (Acts 24:14)<br /> - Timothy&nbsp;<em>confessed&nbsp;</em>his confession before many witnesses (1 Tim. 6:12)<br /> - Some openly&nbsp;<em>confess</em>&nbsp;their knowledge of God when their private lives don&rsquo;t match that public confession (Titus 1:16)<br /> - The faithful&nbsp;<em>confessed</em>&nbsp;their faith in God&rsquo;s promises before all (Heb. 11:13)<br /> - Teachers&nbsp;<em>confess</em>&nbsp;a doctrinal position about Jesus in their teaching and must be assessed by their audience accordingly (1 Jn. 2:23; 4:2,3,15; 2 Jn. 7).</p> <p>In Matthew 10, the Lord uses the word in the very context of the need to openly witness. He who refuses to make this public profession will not be accepted in the day of judgment; the Lord Jesus will not confess such a person before &ldquo;My Father&rdquo;. Rom. 10:9,10 likewise predicate salvation upon this public confession. And the contrast in Matthew 10:32,33 is between&nbsp;<em>confessing</em>&nbsp;Christ and&nbsp;<em>denying&nbsp;</em>Him before men, leading to being&nbsp;<em>denied</em>&nbsp;by Jesus before &ldquo;My&nbsp;<em>Father</em>&rdquo;. Without doubt, 1 Jn. 2:23 has all this in mind when teaching that &ldquo;Whosoever&nbsp;<em>denies</em>&nbsp;the Son, the same has not&nbsp;<em>the Father</em>, but he that&nbsp;<em>confesses</em>&nbsp;[s.w.; AV &ldquo;acknowledges&rdquo;] the Son has the Father also&rdquo;. Taken together, these usages of&nbsp;<em>confession</em>&nbsp;present a solid case- that salvation is related to public confession. That is not to say that salvation is by works, nor is it to say that evangelism is the be all and end all of the Christian life- after all, we all have different gifts, some are more pastoral than evangelical. Salvation is by grace&nbsp;<em>through faith</em>; and if we believe, then we cannot be passive, we become a city set on a hill which cannot be hid. Otherwise, as the Lord teaches several times in the Sermon on the Mount, we have not really believed in God&rsquo;s grace. The Sermon teaches that there is no such thing as a secret Christian, a candle lit which nobody else sees or gets a hint of. The absolute necessity of public confession was taught throughout the Sermon, and it is being made plain again here in Mt. 10 and throughout the other references to confession. In this area particularly, we are faced with the temptation of sins of omission- to consider that we are believers because we have mentally assented to certain theological propositions about Christ, but not making any public commitment or confession about them. No wonder the Lord raised this theme in encouraging His preachers to go forth fearlessly.</p> <p><em>I will also confess him before my Father who is in heaven-&nbsp;</em>The &ldquo;also&rdquo; suggests there will be a direct correlation between our confessing of Him before men now, and how He speaks of us before the Father both now and in the last day. The same idea is found in the way in which He earlier taught that we are forgiven&nbsp;<em>as</em>&nbsp;we forgive others. What&rsquo;s going on in Heaven concerning us need be no mystery to us- because it is a direct reflection of our lives of forgiveness, witness etc. in this world. The future judgment seat will be only a bringing to earth of the judgment seat which even now is going on in Heaven. Mt. 10:32 surely also has in view the Lord's speaking to the Father in Heaven right now, in this life. But compare the parallel Lk. 12:8: &quot;Everyone who acknowledges Me before men, the Son of man also will acknowledge before the angels of God; but he who denies Me before men will be denied before the angels of God&quot;. Of what does this speak? Surely of the last judgment [note the reference to the &quot;Son of man&quot;, a term usually used about judgment to come; and denial before the angels surely equates with the &quot;I never knew you&quot; of the final judgment]. The events of the last day, with the Lord confessing or denying us before the Father and the Angels, are actually going on this very day.</p> 305140103333<p>10:33&nbsp;<em>But whoever shall deny me-&nbsp;</em>The whole purpose of the true church is to be a light to the world- &ldquo;the only cooperative society in the world that exists for the benefit of its non-members&rdquo;, as William Temple put it. The Lord will tell some in the last day that He never knew them, He will deny them; and yet He will deny those who never confessed Him before men (Mt. 8:23; 10:32,33). These people will have prophesied in His Name [i.e. preached to the ecclesia], and done &ldquo;mighty works&rdquo; for Him; but the fact they didn&rsquo;t confess Him before men is seen as not knowing Him; for to know Him is to perceive that we are intended to confess Him before men. This, perhaps, is our greatest danger. The presence and witness of God is no longer in a tent in the Sinai, nor in a Jerusalem temple. God reveals Himself through the group of ordinary, mixed up folks who comprise the ecclesias. For the watching world, we present proof that Christ is indeed alive; we provide the visible shape of what God and Jesus are really like. This is how vital is the matter of witness. It is utterly fundamental to the whole purpose behind our having been called. If we deny Christ, we deny that Jesus is the Christ (1 Jn. 2:22); and yet we deny Christ if we don&rsquo;t preach Him (Mt. 10:33). It follows that if we really believe that Jesus was not just Jesus of Nazareth but the Christ of God, therefore we won&rsquo;t deny Him but will preach Him. This is why there is connection between confessing Jesus as Christ and preaching Him (Jn. 9:22; Acts 18:5; Phil. 2:11). A grasp of who the Lord Jesus really is and the height of His present exaltation will naturally result in a confession of Him to the world, as well as a deep personal obedience to His word and will (Heb. 2:1).</p> <p>There are at least three Biblical examples of people denying Jesus- the same Greek word is used- and yet repenting. Peter denied the Lord &ldquo;before all&rdquo; (Mt. 26:70), and yet was restored. The entire crowd around Jesus, including the healed woman, initially &lsquo;denied&rsquo; they had touched Jesus (Lk. 8:45); but the woman then came out into the open and confessed Christ before all. The Jews &lsquo;denied&rsquo; Christ (Acts 3:13,14) but then repented and were baptized publicly. The point is, that in the moments when we deny Him, He denies us; but we can change the situation.</p> <p>It&rsquo;s tempting to wonder whether all this talk of confession and denial is only really relevant to those standing trial for their Christian faith, with the threat of death before them and the possibility of saving their life if they make some symbolic denial of Christ. But the words for confessing and denying occur together in Tit. 1:16 about those within the ecclesia who &ldquo;Profess [s.w. &lsquo;confess&rsquo;] that they know God, but in works<em> deny</em>&nbsp;Him&rdquo;. We can make the profession of faith before men, and in the public confession of baptism- whilst effectively denying the faith in our lives. There were some within the ecclesias of the first century who &lsquo;denied&rsquo; the Lord (2 Pet. 2:1). External membership can appear as &lsquo;confession&rsquo;, but the point is that it isn&rsquo;t necessarily. It can actually be a front for denial of Him&hellip;</p> <p><em>Before men I will also deny him before my Father who is in heaven-</em>&nbsp;There is a direct correlation between our attitudes to witnessing before men now, and the attitude of the Lord Jesus about us in Heaven &ldquo;before&rdquo;, or &lsquo;before the face of&rsquo;, the Father. Witnessing is essentially personal, each of us individually &ldquo;before men&rdquo;. As modern life progresses in reducing relationships to online abstractions, we must remember this. An individual may press the right keys on their keyboard, send money online to a preaching organization- and yet never be making any witness about Christ before the faces of men. Indeed, those with whom the person does have face to face relationships may well be totally unaware he is a Christian. It&rsquo;s this kind of thing which the Lord is addressing in such demanding terms- our witness&nbsp;<em>before men</em>, not in some anonymous world of avatars, is related to how we witnesses about us&nbsp;<em>before the face of God in Heaven</em>.&nbsp;</p> 306140103434<p>10:34&nbsp;<em>Think not that I came to send peace on earth</em>- The Lord surely has in mind what He has just commanded in 10:13, where He uses the same words to describe how the apostles were to let their&nbsp;<em>peace</em>&nbsp;<em>come</em>&nbsp;upon the households they entered- the peace of&nbsp;<em>shalom</em>&nbsp;with God, the salvation of Jesus. But that peace could return to them unclaimed, and the Lord's words here in :34 seem to imply that He is warning them that generally, their message of peace will not be accepted. In the exposition of 10:13,14 I suggested that the households being visited were those who had initially responded to the message about Jesus as preached by John. The sad reality was that many of these did not further respond to the peace offered to them in Christ.</p> <p>&quot;Peace on the earth<em>&quot; </em>is an allusion to the prophecies of peace in the Messianic Kingdom, and to the Angelic proclamation that there would be peace on earth through Christ (Lk. 2:14). The disciples were prone to be influenced by Jewish expectations and hopes for an imminent Messianic Kingdom to be established. The Lord's point is therefore surely that they were not to preach a gospel of immediate peace on earth, but rather one to come in the future; He made the point later that He had come to take peace from the earth (Rev. 6:4), but of course He offered&nbsp;<em>peace with God</em>&nbsp;through forgiveness and reconciliation which He would achieve through His life and death (Col. 1:20).&nbsp;</p> <p><em>I came not to send peace-</em>&nbsp;The context is the Lord telling His preachers to 'come' to households and pronounce the 'coming' [s.w.] of peace (10:13). But He is warning them that the potential will typically not be realized; only a few individuals within those households would accept the message, and effectively they were going to be breaking up those households because of the total loyalty to Christ and the new household in Him which they were to demand. Their coming to those households was effectively His personal coming to them- for in the work of witness they were Him, just as we are too. Who wants to break up another's household? I found myself thinking about that after coming to realize the social and relational results of baptizing individuals into Christ in Moslem families and societies. We can only do so if we are utterly convinced that the only ultimate household worth belonging to is that in the body of Christ.</p> <p><em>But a sword</em>- The&nbsp;<em>machaira</em>&nbsp;was really a dagger, suggesting interpersonal conflict and hatred. He wanted His preachers to be under no illusion as to the result of people accepting their message; there would be acceptance of it on a national level, the implication is that the Lord expected individuals to accept it, and to suffer in their relationships and family life as a result of it. This needs to be remembered in our preaching too. We are not offering an easy life now, of peace and happiness on all fronts- but rather peace with God and hope in the future Kingdom of God on earth.</p> 307140103535<p>10:35&nbsp;<em>For I came to set a man at variance against</em>- The single Greek word translated here is a form of the noun for 'two'. The division would be down one line, into two groups- the household of origin, and the household of Christ, where He was head of the household. Division within families, especially between sons and fathers, was seen as far more awful than it is today. But the offer of Christ to be Lord, to be our head, is so compelling and colossal in implication that there can simply be no other option than division, at least emotionally and psychologically, between those members of a household who accept Him as Lord and head, and those who will not. The implications of what the Lord is teaching here outlaws any thought of marriage out of the faith; to consciously create a divided family from the start can only reflect a very low level of commitment to Him as Lord, Master and household head.</p> <p><em>His father and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter in law against her mother in law</em>- Why these specific examples? Perhaps the Lord envisaged the younger generation being more responsive than their elders. But maybe His point was that the younger members of an extended family were expected to obey the head of the household- and the good news of His Kingdom, His dominion over men and women, was that loyalty was no longer to be to the head of the family, but to Him. For He was offering men and women entrance into a new King-dom, where He was King and His dominion was accepted in the lives of those who accepted the Gospel of that Kingdom.</p> 308140103636<p>10:36&nbsp;And<em> a man's foes shall be they of his own household</em>- Jewish thought was that their enemies were the Romans, and Zechariah's song reflects this expectation- that Messiah was to save Israel from her foes (s.w. Lk. 1:71,74). The Lord is redefining things. The foes were no longer to be the Gentiles, but all those who rejected the Gospel. For a strongly family based society, this was an almost impossibly high bar to jump. But the implication was that those who accepted it would not be alone, but would be making the sacrifice in order to take their place in a new family. For those raised within believing households, the radical nature of the call to leave family is hard to appreciate. One can understand all the positive hopes and often unrealistic expectations held by those who do break with their families in order to come to Christ, and their difficulty in finding that many long established members within the new household are sceptical and highly critical of the community. The Lord's teaching about the cost of following Him in terms of loss of relationships must be given its full weight. Loss of relationships, especially family ones, is part of following Him in spirit and truth.</p> <p>The use of &quot;own&quot; in &quot;own household&quot; suggests that the believer was still to accept his or her unbelieving family as their own.</p> 309140103737<p>10:37&nbsp;<em>He that loves father or mother more than me is-&nbsp;</em>This is the language of Levi (Dt. 33:9), encouraging the disciples that they, secular men that they largely were, must consider themselves the new priesthood by whom Israel were to be taught and saved.</p> <p><em>Not worthy of Me-</em>&nbsp;We must supply something for the &ldquo;Me&rdquo;; the idea is surely that we are not worthy of His love and death for us, of&nbsp;<em>His&nbsp;</em>family, if we love&nbsp;<em>our</em>&nbsp;family members more than Him. The contrast is between &ldquo;Me&rdquo; and our earthly families. &lsquo;Worthiness&rsquo; was an idea associated in the first century mind with families. We cannot be worthy of membership in His family if we choose to identify ourselves as members of our natural family first and foremost. On one hand we are never worthy of Christ, and yet He implies here that He does consider us worthy of Him&nbsp;<em>if</em>&nbsp;we respond. This is not the same as salvation by works in the sense that Paul later decries; it is salvation by grace through faith, but faith without works is dead. There must be some response. The idea that we can never be worthy of Christ is therefore quite simply wrong, or at best poorly worded and inadequate. He speaks here of being worthy of Him by sacrificing family relationships; and being not worthy of Him by refusing to sacrifice them.</p> <p><em>And he that loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me</em>-&nbsp;<em>Huper</em>&nbsp;Christ means just that in the accusative, &ldquo;more than&rdquo; Him. But the idea of&nbsp;<em>huper</em>&nbsp;in relation to the Lord is used many times in the NT concerning His death &ldquo;for&rdquo; or&nbsp;<em>huper</em>&nbsp;us. It would seem likely that the Lord had His death for us in mind at this point, for He goes straight on to speak of how we are to take up our cross and follow Him to His death on Golgotha (:38). The shift of thought towards the cross in :38 is more natural if we perceive that He is already thinking of it in :37 when speaking of our being worthy of &lsquo;Him&rsquo;, i.e. His death for us.</p> 310140103838<p>10:38&nbsp;<em>And he that does not take his cross</em>- The context is about the preaching of the Gospel. It is not at all glamorous. We should be ready to die a martyr's death. That is the clear teaching here. The context before and after this teaching about the cross is of preaching the Gospel and suffering persecution and broken relationships because of it. This, then, is the sense in which the Lord foresaw many of us suffering for His sake. We are bidden carry His cross (Mt. 20:23; Gal. 6:12), and yet also our own cross (Mt. 10:38). In our cross-experiences, those times when there is no other Christian option but to shoulder it...&nbsp;<em>then</em>&nbsp;we know something of the cross of the Lord, and then He is actively aware of that small kindred between His cross and ours. He remembers how it was, and sees the commonality of feeling which we have attained.</p> <p><em>And follow after me, is not worthy of me</em>-&nbsp;Reflect on a Gospel parallel to see the huge importance of being a disciple of Jesus. In Mt. 10:38 the Lord says that whoever doesn&rsquo;t take up his cross and follow after Him, &ldquo;is not worthy of me&rdquo;. In Lk. 14:27 we have the same words, but concluded with &ldquo;&hellip; the same cannot be my disciple&rdquo;. To be a disciple of the Lord is to be worthy of Him. To seek to walk as He walked, to follow behind Him, is to be worthy of Him. The important thing is to follow, for all our stumblings, but at least to be in the way behind Him<em>.&nbsp;</em>I have made the point that the instructions regarding witnessing here have their equivalent in the Olivet prophecy, and they may particularly refer to our preaching just before the Lord&rsquo;s return. At that time especially, &quot;a man's foes shall be they of his own household&quot;, and therefore &quot;he that takes not his cross (then), and follows after Me, is not worthy&quot;. Our response to our trials then during the tribulation will effectively be our judgment seat.&nbsp;</p> <p>Consider the contexts in which the Lord spoke of taking up His cross:<br /> (1) In Luke 9:23-26 He tells the crowds that they have come to His meetings because of the intriguing miracles of the loaves and fishes. The Lord is saying: 'Don't follow me because of the loaves and fishes; take up my cross'!<br /> (2) The rich young man was willing to be obedient in everything apart from parting with his wealth. In this context, of asking the most difficult thing for him to do, the Lord spoke of taking up His cross - in the man's case, giving up his wealth.<br /> (3) The command to take up the cross in Mt. 10:38 is in the context of the Lord's description of the family problems which would be caused by responding to His word. Presumably some were willing to follow Christ if they didn't have to break with their families; but He asks them to take up the cross in this sense.</p> <p>In all of these cases people were willing to follow the Lord - but only insofar as it didn't hurt them. They were unwilling to take on board the idea of consciously deciding to do something against the grain of their natures and immediate surroundings. Yet this is what taking up the cross is all about, and it is vital for our identification with our Lord. It is very easy to serve God in ways which reinforce the lifestyles we choose to have anyway; it is easy to obey Divine principles only insofar as they compound our own personality. By doing so we can deceive ourselves into thinking that we are spiritually active when, in reality, we have never walked out against the wind, never picked up the cross of Christ.</p> 311140103939<p>10:39 <em>He that finds his life</em>- The Lord must surely mean us to read in an ellipsis: &lsquo;Thinks he has found the meaning of life without Me&rsquo;. For the Lord has just called the unsaved audience of His preachers &ldquo;the lost&rdquo; (10:6 s.w.).</p> <p><em>Shall lose it</em>- The Lord has just spoken of how God will &ldquo;destroy&rdquo; (s.w. &ldquo;lose&rdquo;) the &ldquo;soul&rdquo; (s.w. &ldquo;life&rdquo;) of those rejected at the last day (10:28). So here in :39 He is surely thinking of destruction of the &lsquo;soul&rsquo; / &ldquo;life&rdquo; at the last day. Only those responsible to judgment will appear at the day of judgment; so the Lord&rsquo;s teaching here concerns those who have known Him, who are responsible to Him, but who are not totally committed to Him; those who think that despite their knowledge of Him, they can &lsquo;find their lives&rsquo; without Him. See on 16:25&nbsp;<em>lose it</em>.</p> <p><em>And he that loses his life for my sake-&nbsp;</em>The same Greek word is translated to destroy, to die, to mar, to cause to perish. Once again, this is not what we wish to hear- that we must do real damage to our human life, crucify it, if we are to share in the life of Jesus. 10:28 has just spoken of the destroying / losing of life in condemnation; perhaps the &lsquo;loss / destruction of life&rsquo; is in self-condemnation. This would continue a major theme of the Lord&rsquo;s teaching- that those who condemn themselves in this life shall be saved from condemnation at the last day.</p> <p><em>Shall find it-&nbsp;</em>As we go up the spiral of spiritual growth, we will find the true life- perceive, see, realize (Mt. 10:39 Gk.) the real, spiritual life, as the wayward son &quot;came to himself&quot;, he found himself, when he repented. The Lord had laboured the point that whoever seeks shall&nbsp;<em>find&nbsp;</em>(Mt. 7:7,8,14), and the context clearly is of spiritual things and salvation. The Lord spoke in Mt. 7 of&nbsp;<em>seeking</em>&nbsp;and finding, here He speaks of&nbsp;<em>losing life</em>&nbsp;in order to find it. The language of seeking and losing suggests a process, rather than some finely spoken, albeit genuinely intended, momentary statement of commitment to the Lord. The more we<em> seek</em>&nbsp;the things of the Kingdom, the more we will naturally lose our fleshly life. The loss of life the Lord has in view is clearly a process of &ldquo;seeking&rdquo; the things of His Kingdom- rather than the death of martyrdom. The taking up of the cross in the previous verse is the epitome of losing life&hellip; but the Lord intended it to be understood as a way of life, a sharing of the same road as Him [&ldquo;following&rdquo; Him], upon which dying is literally a way&nbsp;<em>of</em>&nbsp;life as well as the way&nbsp;<em>to</em>&nbsp;life. What in practice does it mean to &lsquo;lose life&rsquo;? Issues concerning where we live, careers, food, the pleasures of this life, all become eclipsed by the mission before us- of consciously dying,&nbsp;<em>in His service</em>. For the entire context here is about serving the Lord by sharing the Gospel with others, engaging fully with the mission the Lord intends for us. The context of the Lord giving His people work to do would suggest that the life which is &lsquo;found&rsquo; is not only the life eternal at the last day, but is the life in His service. This kind of life will be eternally lived, and it is in that sense that we can understand the Lord&rsquo;s words elsewhere that those who follow Him right now begin living the eternal life, the kind of life in His service which they will eternally live. If we are ever seeking to balance and arrange things so that we can apparently live our fleshly life as well as &lsquo;His&rsquo; life, then we have failed to grasp the entire point of His teaching. Total surrender, absolute and eager, willing submission, is what He is about.</p> 312140104040<p>10:40&nbsp;<em>He that receives you receives me, and he that receives me receives him that sent me</em>- The Lord is speaking of &lsquo;receiving&rsquo; His preachers and materially supporting them (:13). He&rsquo;s saying that every act of support given to them is done as it were directly to Him. He has the same idea in Mt. 25:35-45- whatever was done to &ldquo;the least of these My brothers&rdquo; was done to Him. His &ldquo;little ones&rdquo;, the disciples / preachers in their immaturity (:42), were all the same His, and whatever was done to them was done to Him and to His Father. We note that Mt. 25 speaks of material support of food, clothing, hospitality to the unknown and visiting in prison- all exactly in the context of the preaching mission He sent His disciples on. Whatever more general reference there may be in Mt. 25:35-45, clearly the primary reference was to the Lord&rsquo;s future judgment of those who claimed to be His (who had accepted John the Baptist&rsquo;s message), in accordance to whether or not they had materially supported the disciples on their preaching mission. Luke&rsquo;s version of this teaching records that the Lord said that &ldquo;He that&nbsp;<em>hears&nbsp;</em>you, hears Me&rdquo; (Lk. 10:16). The &lsquo;receiving&rsquo; was therefore of the message and therefore receiving the disciples personally (10:14 &ldquo;receive you&hellip; hear your words&rdquo;). We are the voice and face of Jesus to people- it&rsquo;s a concept colossal in its implications. Our attitude to receiving or accepting each other is our acceptance or rejection of Jesus personally. Hence Paul tells the Galatians that they had &ldquo;received me&hellip; as Christ Jesus&rdquo; (Gal. 4:14), surely alluding to the Lord&rsquo;s teaching here. We are to &ldquo;receive one another, as Christ also received us&rdquo; (Rom. 15:7).</p> <p>The idea of&nbsp;<em>shaliach</em>, whereby someone&rsquo;s representative was seen as them, was well known in Judaism; the Lord is almost quoting it here, and He does the same in the next verse. Realizing this is going on is a key to correct interpretation of the next verses.</p> 313140104141<p>10:41<em> He that receives a prophet in the name of a prophet shall receive a prophet's reward, and he that receives a righteous man in the name of a righteous man shall receive a righteous man's reward- </em>This is a quotation of well-known Jewish thinking. I have shown multiple times in this commentary that the Lord was seeking to encourage His followers that they were no less than Moses, the prophets and the &ldquo;righteous men&rdquo; of the Old Testament. The context here is encouraging them that they are worthy labourers, worthy to receive material support from those they stay with. The &lsquo;receiving&rsquo; of them on their preaching mission (:13) is the &lsquo;receiving&rsquo; the Lord now has in view. His idea is that just as those who received Old Testament prophets will receive a prophet&rsquo;s reward at the last day, possibly &lsquo;from the prophet&rsquo; as the Greek could mean- so just as much those who materially support the disciples will be rewarded. Such supporters will in no wise lose their reward (:42) &ndash; just as surely as those who supported Old Testament prophets will be rewarded, to no lesser extent, those who supported the disciples would likewise be rewarded.</p> 314140104242<p>10:42&nbsp;<em>And whoever gives one of these little ones even a cup of cold water because he is a disciple; truly I say to you, he will by no means lose his reward-&nbsp;</em>Giving a cup of cold water to the little ones doesn&rsquo;t necessarily refer to sticking banknotes in a collection for Oxfam. The Hebrew writer took it as referring to our love for Christ's little ones, within the ecclesia (Mt. 10:42 = Heb. 6:10). And the context says the same.&nbsp;The Lord was inviting the disciples to see themselves as none less than the likes of Elisha, who were supported in their work by various well-wishers.&nbsp;</p> <p>According to the interpretation of :41, these &ldquo;little ones&rdquo; refer to the disciples. But why &ldquo;<em>these</em>&nbsp;little ones&rdquo; and not &ldquo;you&rdquo;? I suggest that verse 42 is effectively a soliloquy, perhaps spoken out loud in the presence of the disciples, but all the same, it is Jesus speaking to Himself.</p> 3151401111<p>11:1<em>&nbsp;And it came to pass when Jesus had finished commanding his twelve disciples</em>- Vine feels that the&nbsp;<em>dia&nbsp;</em>in&nbsp;<em>diatasso</em>&nbsp;[&quot;commanding&quot;] suggests &quot;a distributive force: giving to each his appropriate charge&quot;. In this case we see the initial application of the parables about the servants being each given a specific work to do. That work was to preach to specific people whom the Lord intended for each of the disciples. Those parables apply to us- perhaps in that we are each intended to take the Gospel to specific individuals. If we fail in that work, there is no guarantee that the Lord will give that work to others; the harvest will simply not be gathered as it could have been.</p> <p><em>He departed from there to teach and preach in their cities</em>- Without their presence (as they were away on their preaching tour), the Lord went to their home areas. He showed by this how He saw out witness amongst those whom we know and our families to be of the utmost importance- and He was and is willing and eager to back up our credibility in such witness.</p> 3161401122<p>11:2&nbsp;<em>Now when John heard about the works of the Christ while in prison, he sent word by his disciples- </em>AV &quot;Sent two of his disciples&quot;. It can&rsquo;t be insignificant that John sends two disciples out just after the Lord had sent out&nbsp;<em>His</em>&nbsp;disciples two by two in Matthew 10. Surely this is a literary device to set up John in negative contrast to the Lord at this time; John sent out his pair of disciples in response to his crisis of faith. He knew Jesus was to do mighty works- but he had heard of them only by report. Those he sent out had already heard and seen the Lord&rsquo;s miracles (:4), and yet John sends them to Jesus to ask if He is Messiah. It all reads rather negatively about John. It could even be that he died at a low point in his faith, and yet the Lord&rsquo;s positive comment about Him surely suggests that He saw John as being ultimately saved. The records of the Kings of Israel and Judah, along with various passages in Ezekiel 18, place great emphasis upon how a man&nbsp;<em>finishes</em>&nbsp;his spiritual journey, and yet there are also Biblical examples of faithful men dying at low ebb spiritually; this will not necessarily exclude from the Kingdom, and John the Baptist may be another example.</p> 3171401133<p>11:3&nbsp;<em>And said to him: Are you he that comes</em>- The emphasis may be on the word &ldquo;you&rdquo;. The coming one was a well-known term for Messiah, based upon Ps. 118:26.</p> <p><em>Or look we for another?</em>- Despite John&rsquo;s clearly stated belief that Jesus was the promised bridegroom, the lamb of God and Son of God (Jn. 1:29-34), it seems things had not gone according to the prophetic program John had imagined- and he now had doubts about Jesus. For a man claiming (at least implicitly) to be Messiah, it would&rsquo;ve been an unnecessary question to ask Him &lsquo;Are you Messiah?&rsquo;. It could be inferred that John still believed in Jesus as Messiah and Son of God, but had begun to wonder if He was only the&nbsp;<em>herald</em>&nbsp;of &ldquo;another&rdquo; whom they should be looking for in order to establish the Kingdom. It could be that John&rsquo;s understanding of himself as the Elijah prophet had led him to expect that all Israel would repent, and then Messiah Himself would come and establish His Kingdom immediately. For this is indeed how the prophecies of Isaiah 40 and Malachi 4 could be read. Perhaps John was full of such self-doubt that he wondered if he really had been the Elijah prophet, and was thinking that maybe he had just heralded the Elijah prophet, Jesus, who was in turn to herald &ldquo;He that should come&rdquo;. This is the problem with holding a dogmatic view of prophetic sequences- when they prove wrong, either because our interpretation was faulty or because human lack of response means they are to come true in another way than ideally planned, then often peoples&rsquo; faith in Christ Himself is damaged. If we have an open ended view of prophecy, whereby we understand it to state possibilities which may have other ways of fulfilment than what is ideally intended, then such crises don&rsquo;t arise. &ldquo;Look we for another?&rdquo; doesn&rsquo;t sound as if John was simply asking for a sign, in the spirit of Gideon. He had major questions about the whole prophetic program, sensing that something had changed; the word for &ldquo;another&rdquo; is also translated &ldquo;altered&rdquo; (Lk. 9:29). In this sense, his question may not necessarily reflect a crisis of faith in Jesus personally, but rather an earnest desire to know the new details of the revised prophetic program.</p> <p>So even John the Baptist, whose teaching had prepared most of the twelve to accept Jesus, seems to have not been altogether clear about what we might consider fundamental things. He speaks here of Jesus as &ldquo;the one to come&rdquo;, a commonly understood description of the Elijah prophet, based on the phrase being used about him in Mal. 3:1- and not of Messiah Himself. Thus John the Baptist anticipated that this &ldquo;one to come&rdquo;, his cousin Jesus, would be a refining fire (Mt. 3:12)- which is exactly Malachi&rsquo;s language about the Elijah prophet (Mal. 3:2; 4:1). This would explain why John the Baptist had apparent &lsquo;doubts&rsquo; whilst in prison as to whether Jesus really was the Messiah. And it would also explain why the disciples expected Jesus to act like Elijah in Lk. 9:52-56. It was not until the baptism of Jesus that John the Baptist came to understand Jesus as the &ldquo;one to come&rdquo;; so the preparatory work which he had done with the disciples must have had what we would call a flimsy doctrinal basis. When Jesus called them to follow Him, and they so quickly obeyed, it is often assumed that John the Baptist had prepared them for this. But that preparation must at best have been very shallow and incomplete, given John&rsquo;s own admission that he did not recognize Jesus for who He was until His baptism. Why, however, was John&rsquo;s misunderstanding recorded in the Gospel records? Or the misunderstanding of his father Zacharias, that John was in fact the promised Messiah, &ldquo;the prophet&rdquo;, the one would bring forgiveness of sins and freedom from the Romans (Lk. 1:71-79)? Perhaps for the same reason as the language of demons is used, especially to describe the miracles at the beginning of the Lord&rsquo;s ministry. He didn&rsquo;t correct this. But over time it became evident that the sheer power of the Son of God meant that in practice, demons didn&rsquo;t exist. Likewise, as the ministry of Jesus unfolds to us in the Gospel records, it becomes apparent that He was Son of God, the Messiah- and not merely an Elijah prophet.&nbsp;</p> 3181401144<p>11:4&nbsp;<em>And Jesus answered and said to them: Go and tell John- </em>&nbsp;They had already told him once- the same word is used for how they initially had told John these things (Lk. 7:18). There is definitely the sense that John needed to work through the implications of what he was hearing, rather than having some specific explanation from the Lord.</p> <p><em>The things which you hear and see</em>- The request that John &lsquo;hear&rsquo; these reports more carefully begs connection with the Lord&rsquo;s frequent comment that the Jews heard but did not really hear (e.g. Mt. 13:13-17). John&rsquo;s lack of understanding appears to be in some sense culpable and at best disappointing to the Lord. The Lord is seeking to assure John that if he just thinks about the evidence, it&rsquo;s clear that Jesus is indeed Messiah, and as John had earlier preached- Son and lamb of God, who saves His people from their sins. He seems to be saying that that was so wonderful and fundamental, that the rearrangement of the prophetic timetable is in a sense irrelevant compared to that. Whether or not the timing or chronology of events surrounding the Kingdom comes true as we expect, or whether or not we discern how God has re-planned the fulfilment of prophecy- is all irrelevant compared to the wonder of knowing Jesus as the Christ and personal Saviour.</p> 3191401155<p>11:5<em> The blind receive their sight and the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear and the dead are raised up- </em>The teaching of Jesus included frequent quotations from and allusions to the Old Testament. When we go back and read around the contexts of the passages He quoted, it becomes apparent that He very often omits to quote the negative, judgmental, or conditional aspects of the blessings which He quotes. Consider the way He quotes Is. 29:18; 35:5,6 and 61:1 in Mt. 11:5,6. These are all talking about Messianic blessings. But they are embedded amidst warnings of judgment and the conditionality of God&rsquo;s grace. Likewise Luke records how Jesus read from Is. 61:1,2, but He stopped at the very point where Isaiah&rsquo;s message turns from promise to threat. None of this takes away from the terrible reality that future failure is a real possibility, even tomorrow. We can throw it all away. We may do. We have the possibility. And some do. There is an eternity ahead which we may miss. And each one who enters the Kingdom will, humanly speaking, have come pretty close to losing it at various points in his or her mortal life. But the Lord&rsquo;s positivity is a powerful example.</p> <p><em>And the poor have good tidings preached to them</em>- This was as remarkable and significant as the previous miraculous signs, of the blind seeing etc. There was a deep impression that religion was for the middle class or wealthy. Teachers didn&rsquo;t bother preaching to the poor because there was no possibility of financial support coming from them. Yet the Lord opened His manifesto in the Sermon on the Mount by saying that His message was especially intended for &ldquo;the poor&rdquo; (Mt. 5:3 s.w.). In many Christian circles, the same is true today. Churches need money (or, they think they do), and so their focus is not on taking the Gospel to the poor but rather to the potential tithers. The disciples were amazed that the rich wouldn&rsquo;t be saved (Mt. 19:24,25), so deeply ingrained was this idea that spirituality and wealth were somehow supposed to go together. The Lord was teaching the opposite. There&rsquo;s no doubt that the Gospel is designed for the poor; and that if one were to bring &ldquo;the poor&rdquo;&nbsp;<em>en masse</em>&nbsp;into many churches / ecclesias today, the existing membership would up and go somewhere else. The Spirit was clearly upon the Lord Jesus exactly&nbsp;<em>because</em>&nbsp;He preached the Gospel to the poor (Lk. 4:18). Our preaching attitude to &ldquo;the poor&rdquo; is a reflection of our spirituality. &ldquo;The poor&rdquo; in the immediate context were the disciples, for the Lord had just looked upon them in love and commented: &ldquo;Blessed are you poor&rdquo; (Lk. 6:20). In the response of &ldquo;the poor&rdquo; to Him, the Lord saw a Divine confirmation of His ministry. And it is the same with us. Our ministry is to take the Gospel to the unbelieving poor, and not to get middle class Christian religionists to shift churches and allegiance to our group. James 2:5 is clear that God chooses the poor&nbsp;<em>more than&nbsp;</em>the rich to be heirs of His Kingdom; so in this case, our preaching focus should be specifically towards them.</p> 3201401166<p>11:6&nbsp;<em>And blessed is he, whoever shall find no cause to stumble over me-</em>&nbsp;Clearly the Lord saw John as likely to be about to stumble. As explained earlier, the cause of stumbling was [and is to this day] that the Lord at times makes changes in the outworking of His prophetic program. Because things haven&rsquo;t gone just as mere humans imagined it, because they can&rsquo;t get their heads around God&rsquo;s huge sensitivity to human repentance and choices, nor His subsequent willingness to change His timetable to accommodate that&hellip; therefore people stumble at Christ. The Lord encountered a similar situation in Nazareth, where people again were &ldquo;offended in Him&rdquo; (Mt. 13:57) because His Messiahship was not as they supposed it ought to be. Likewise the death of the Messiah by crucifixion caused even the disciples to be offended- it was simply not how they had imagined Messiah&rsquo;s salvation. They were &ldquo;offended&rdquo; exactly because He was &lsquo;smitten&rsquo; (Mt. 26:31), even though the Lord had warned them ahead of time about His death so that they would not be offended (Jn. 16:1). The cross was therefore a rock of offence to many (1 Cor. 1:23; Gal. 5:11). So often we see the process- people come to Jesus with preconceived notions of how things should be, and fit those notions into the structure of their &lsquo;Christianity&rsquo;. But the Christ&rsquo;s most fundamental teachings may in fact outlaw their beloved notions and favourite suppositions. And because their imagination of Jesus doesn&rsquo;t fit in with who He actually is- they stumble. It&rsquo;s like falling in love with an idea of a person, rather than with the person as they actually are. God&rsquo;s word presents Jesus as He actually is, and it is this which we must accept, allowing it thereby to jettison all preconceived notions we have of Him. The parable of the sower taught that persecution leads to people being offended (Mt. 13:21), and John was certainly undergoing persecution for the word there in prison. But persecution leads to spiritual stumbling largely because of the dashed expectations- that with Christ, all shall go well for us, and we in this life shall be delivered from problems. But the Lord is stressing throughout His teaching that that Jewish conception of Messiah and Messiah&rsquo;s Kingship over men was simply incorrect. Those who followed Him would suffer and die, in one form or another, the death of the cross.</p> <p>The Lord tried not to offend people (Mt. 17:27) and yet people were indeed offended in Him. But in Mt. 18:6-9 He makes offence of others a serious sin. In this connection of thought we see an example of where there are some things which can be said of Jesus, some things He could do, which we simply cannot do. In forgiving others, we are often challenged to forgive&nbsp;<em>as</em>&nbsp;the Lord does. Not all that He does can be replicated by us, nor indeed is it possible. Thus for us, forgiveness is usually a process, whereas for the Father and Son it appears to be more instantaneous.</p> 3211401177<p>11:7&nbsp;<em>And as these went their way, Jesus began to say to the crowds concerning John: What did you go out into the wilderness to see?-&nbsp;</em>The crowds whom the Lord was addressing were therefore eager listeners of John, even perhaps in a sense his disciples. We see her the fulfilment of John&rsquo;s commission- to prepare&nbsp;<em>in the wilderness</em>&nbsp;a smooth way for the coming of the Messianic King of glory. But the crowds didn&rsquo;t respond, and Messiah didn&rsquo;t come in His glorious Kingdom. I suggested on 10:11 that the mission of the disciples was initially to those who had responded to John the Baptist&rsquo;s teaching; and now whilst they were away on their preaching tour doing such follow up work, the Lord was doing the same, addressing a crowd who had also responded to John enough to trek out into the wilderness to hear him.</p> <p><em>A reed shaken with the wind?-</em>&nbsp;The reference is probably to the reeds growing in the Jordan where John baptized. Just as the people didn&rsquo;t go there to look at the reeds but at John as God&rsquo;s prophet, so the Lord is hinting that they should not look on John&rsquo;s weakness but upon who he essentially was. When John the Baptist had this crisis of faith, the Lord spoke of John to the multitude as if he was a strong believer, no reed shaken in the wind of doubt. And yet He didn&rsquo;t just paper over John&rsquo;s doubts and forget them, pretending He hadn&rsquo;t seen. The message He returned to John encouraged him to look back to the Isaiah prophecies of Messiah, and to remember especially the way that the weak, doubting ones would be made strong. The Lord evidently sought to strengthen the weak John by this allusion. The language of being&nbsp;<em>shaken</em>&nbsp;by&nbsp;<em>wind</em> is used elsewhere by the Lord in describing the process of condemnation at the last day (both Greek words are found in Mt. 7:25,27). The Lord&rsquo;s idea may therefore be: &lsquo;Sure, John is wavering at this very moment. But when you saw him in the wilderness, he wasn&rsquo;t; and in God&rsquo;s eyes, even now, he&rsquo;s not shaking in the wind, he&rsquo;s not going to be condemned at the day of judgment- even though, as you&rsquo;ve just heard, he has his doubts and weaknesses&rsquo;. Perhaps the Lord had John in mind when He soon afterwards spoke of how He would not condemn even a broken reed (s.w.- Mt. 12:20), but rather still use it as a channel for the oil of the Spirit. The whole situation with John is helpful in coping with others who clearly are passing through times of trial which is resulting in their faith wavering. Think positively of who they were, have been, and still essentially are&hellip;</p> 3221401188<p>11:8&nbsp;<em>But what did you go out to see? A man clothed in soft garments?</em>- The allusion is surely to Herod and Herodias, who had imprisoned John. John&rsquo;s clothing was rugged, not soft (Mt. 3:4).</p> <p><em>Those that wear soft garments are in king's houses-</em>&nbsp;The Lord is drawing a contrast between John and Herod who imprisoned him. Herod Antipas had minted coins with a reed on them to celebrate the building of Tiberias. Perhaps the Lord is saying: 'OK, so John is weak for the moment, there in prison. But just think of the man he was when he was free, and how in God's eyes he compares so favourably against Herod who imprisoned him'. In His gracious way, the Lord is teaching that the overall sum of a man's spiritual life must be considered, and not whether he ends it with some element of weakness. This approach is also to be found in the way the inspired record appears to comment upon some of the kings of Israel and Judah- weakness at the end didn't necessarily scribble God's overall judgment of their lives.</p> <p></p> 3231401199<p>11:9&nbsp;<em>But what did you go out to see?-</em>&nbsp;Three times in :7-9 the Lord reminds them of their trek out into the wilderness to hear John; His point is that the respect they once had for him should remain, despite his wavering under extreme suffering. God's overall impression of Job appears similar, and it is a good teaching for we who are all too inclined to too harshly judge a good believer for a temporary period of weakness. The Greek phrase &lsquo;go out to see&hellip;&rsquo; is used in classical Greek about going out to a spectacle or show. The Lord is suggesting that perhaps that was all their interest in John might have been, just as today likewise, it&rsquo;s quite possible to visit the truest church and hear the truest teaching, yet unperceived by those who are merely &lsquo;going to church&rsquo;.</p> <p><em>To see a prophet? Yes! And I say to you, much more than a prophet!</em>- The idea is 'the greatest prophet'. Judaism had various theories about who had been the greatest of the Old Testament prophets. The Lord was saying that actually, the greatest of them was that man who was now sitting in the grim prison cell in Machaerus Fort, having a crisis of faith and understanding.</p> 324140111010<p>11:10&nbsp;<em>This is he-&nbsp;</em>The emphasis is on the word &quot;is&quot;. He&nbsp;<em>was</em>&nbsp;the prophet who came to herald Messiah. And yet John had denied that he was Elijah, nor &quot;that prophet&quot; (Jn. 1:20), surely a reference to the Elijah prophet; even though he later stated that he had been 'sent before' Messiah (Jn. 3:28), and was the voice of the Isaiah 40 prophet crying in the wilderness (Jn. 1:23). The Lord is saying 'Actually, John&nbsp;<em>was</em>&nbsp;that prophet. He initially denied it in his humility, but he really was and is &quot;that prophet&quot;. Now again his humility has led him to self-denial, he's wondering whether in fact I am the Elijah prophet and the Messiah Himself is yet to be 'looked for'. But take it on My authority- he really was the Elijah prophet, even though his humility leads him to self-doubt at times'. See on :14&nbsp;<em>this is Elijah</em>.&nbsp;</p> <p><em>Of whom it is written: Listen</em>- AV &quot;Behold&quot;. An invitation to perceive, and the Lord was asking them to perceive in that imprisoned man a great prophet, to see beyond his temporary, surface-level crisis of John, to perceive that &quot;this&nbsp;<em>is&nbsp;</em>he&quot;.</p> <p><em>I send my messenger before your face; he shall prepare your way before you-&nbsp;</em>The pronouns are somewhat different from the original in Mal. 3:1: &quot;Behold, I send My messenger, and he will prepare the way before [My face] ... says Yahweh of Armies&quot;. Jesus, as the face and presence of God to men, interpreted the words of His Father as being spoken personally to Him. The way was prepared before God's face, according to Malachi, but God's Son applies that to Himself. That is not to say that Jesus was God in any Trinitarian sense. He was the supreme manifestation of God, and He quotes Malachi 3 in such a way as to teach that to those with ears to hear. We have a window here onto how the Lord Jesus read Scripture; passages about His Father were applied by Him to Himself, but that is no claim by Him to be God Himself in person.</p> <p>The Lord is reminding the crowds who had gone out to hear John in the wilderness that&nbsp;<em>they</em>&nbsp;were the way which John had tried to prepare, and He was now the face of Yahweh standing before them. But they had become side-tracked from the essence of personal transformation by a worry about the credibility and humanity of the messenger; and again, this is a principle which badly needs our attention in our own path. So often believers leave the path, the way prepared, because of the perceived weakness or plain humanity of the one who taught them.</p> <p>The Hebrew text being quoted in Mal. 3:1 has a word play here. &quot;Prepare&quot; translates&nbsp;<em>panah</em>, meaning to turn the face (s.w. Gen. 18:22 where the Angels &quot;turned their faces&quot;), and &quot;Before [your face]&quot; translates&nbsp;<em>paniym</em>. The idea is that the messenger would turn the faces of people towards the face of God. The height of the calling was hard for Jewish minds, indeed for any human mind, to take on board; that the God whose face even Moses could not see can be seen face to face, thanks to the work of John the &quot;messenger&quot; turning men's faces to the face of Christ, who is the image of God. No wonder the people so easily became distracted from the height and wonder of the invitation, by focusing upon the fact that a depressed and humble prophet awaiting death in a dark prison cell had some crisis of Biblical interpretation. And so, so often the wonder of our calling likewise is eagerly forgotten by us and eclipsed by petty gossip and speculation about the faith and possible spiritual status of another man.</p> 325140111111<p>11:11- see on 20:11.</p> <p><em>Truly I say to you, among those that are born of women-&nbsp;</em>The Lord Jesus was Himself the greatest of all born of women (Gal. 4:4), but in His humility He adds no rider to the effect 'John was the greatest of all born of women, Myself excepted, of course'. How we love Him for His humility.</p> <p><em>There has not arisen a greater than John the Baptist. Yet he that is the least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he-&nbsp;</em>The little ones were the disciples, according to what the Lord had recently said in Mt. 10:42 (s.w.). He was urging them, yet again, to see their exalted status and to get over Judaism's attitude that the prophets were icons to whom the rank and file of God's people should never pretend. The Lord is using hyperbole here to make the point- that His immature 'little ones' were going to be far greater than even John, the greatest prophet. Or He could be implying that there will be some element of rank in God&rsquo;s future Kingdom- ruling over different numbers of cities, one star differing from another in glory. And the least in that age will be far greater than John was&nbsp;<em>in this life</em>. And yet Jesus was proclaiming the coming of the Kingdom in the sense of the breaking in of God&rsquo;s principles in the lives of men. He could mean that John was the greatest under the old system, but the least of those within the new system were greater than John. Oscar Cullmann made a case for translating&nbsp;<em>mikroteros</em>&nbsp;here as &ldquo;the youngest&rdquo;, with reference to the Lord being younger than John the Baptist and yet greater than him (see Jn. 3:30).</p> <p>Note the present tense in &quot;is greater&quot;. The following verse speaks of preaching the Gospel of that Kingdom (Mt.11:12 cp. Lk.16:16), perhaps implying that by responding to Christ's Gospel of the Kingdom we are associated with the Kingdom, and are thereby &quot;greater&quot; than the message which John preached.</p> <p>Luke adds: &ldquo;But the Pharisees and the lawyers rejected for themselves the counsel of God, being not baptized by him&rdquo; (Lk. 7:30). God will fulfil His purpose for us- if we align ourselves with it, and thus see in everything that happens in our lives&nbsp;<em>His</em>&nbsp;will being forwarded. We can choose to not align ourselves with His will. The Pharisees rejected the purpose of God against themselves by not being baptized by John (Lk. 7:30 ESV). His will is not that we should sit around doing Sudoku, watching movies, bantering on the internet, trying to get as much money as possible to finance our nice meals, expensive coffees and designer clothes. His will, as expressed in His very Name, is that He &lsquo;will be&rsquo; grace, love, care, justice, salvation, righteousness, all over the world and to every man and woman. If these things are our focus, our mission, our purpose, our passion, our underlying heartthrob, if&nbsp;<em>His</em>&nbsp;will is behind&nbsp;<em>our</em>&nbsp;will&hellip; then everything somehow comes together for us in a dynamic and fulfilling existence, both in this world and in the life eternal.</p> 326140111212<p>11:12&nbsp;<em>And from the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffers violence and men of violence take it by force</em>- This can be seen as constructing a parable from the idea of Roman storm troopers taking a city. And those men, the Lord teaches in his attention grabbing manner, really represent every believer who responds to the Gospel of the Kingdom and strives to enter that Kingdom. The same word translated 'take by force' is used by the Lord in Lk. 16:16: &quot;The Kingdom of God is preached, and every man&nbsp;<em>presses into</em>&nbsp;it&quot;; true response to the Gospel of the Kingdom is a struggle. Entering the Kingdom is a fight (1 Tim. 6:12; 2 Tim. 4:7). We either violently snatch / take the Kingdom by force (Mt. 11:12), or the devil of our own nature will snatch us away (s.w. Mt. 13:19; Jn. 10:12). The choice before us is that pointed: fight or fall. The Lord graciously and generously saw the zeal of the mixed up, uncertain, misunderstanding disciples as storm troopers taking the city of the Kingdom of God by force- knowing exactly where they were coming from and where they were going. The cause of the Kingdom must be forcefully advanced by &ldquo;violent men&rdquo;. This was the sort of language the Lord used. He wasn&rsquo;t preaching anything tame, painless membership of a comfortable community. The Lord saw the zeal of the uncertain, misunderstanding disciples as storm troopers taking the city of the Kingdom of God by force- knowing exactly where they were coming from and where they were going.</p> <p>However, there are other alternatives in interpretation. It&rsquo;s been suggested that &lsquo;the violent ones&rsquo; may have been a term used to describe Jesus and His followers by His opponents; in which case the Lord would be alluding to this and saying that the enthusiasm of His people was in spiritual and not physical terms. Another option would be that the Lord is alluding to the Zealots and other groups who were trying to bring the Kingdom of God about by political, violent action; and the Lord would then be lamenting that since John&rsquo;s time, there were men who had misunderstood his message of the Kingdom by trying to bring it about by force. And there is a telling double meaning in the Greek for &lsquo;take it by force&rsquo;; it could also mean that the Kingdom is under attack by these violent men. In this case, the real meaning and progress of the Kingdom as God intended, in terms of His spiritual dominion in human life, was being hindered by those who were trying to establish it by force. This suggestion is re-enforced by the use of the same word in Jn. 6:15, where the mistaken multitudes wanted to 'take [Christ] by force' and make Him King there and then. And this would explain the context- the imprisonment of John by the violent Herod would then be the basis for this saying. The violent were attacking and taking by force the Kingdom preachers like John.</p> 327140111313<p>11:13&nbsp;<em>For all the prophets and the law prophesied until John-</em>&nbsp;The sentence begins with &ldquo;For&hellip;&rdquo;. This is an explanation of the cut-off point between the time of the Kingdom, and the period of the law and prophets. It was as if their work was being done up until John. The&nbsp;<em>law</em>&nbsp;prophesied until John in the sense that in the Messiah whom John proclaimed, the law&rsquo;s prophecies were fulfilled. Note that the law just as much as the prophets is to be seen as prophesying. And yet other changeover points or boundaries are suggested within the New Testament. The law would &lsquo;pass&rsquo; when all was fulfilled, which seems to hint at the &lsquo;finishing&rsquo; of all when the Lord cried &ldquo;It is finished!&rdquo; on the cross. The law would not pass&nbsp;<em>until</em>&nbsp;this point (Mt. 5:18, using the same word as in 11:13 &ldquo;until&rdquo;). The Lord&rsquo;s death was clearly a major ending point for the old system. And yet Heb. 8:13 speaks of the old system as decaying and becoming old, and being about to vanish away- surely in the destruction of the temple in AD70. There are other hints in the NT that the old system somehow operated with some level of acceptance from God until AD70. Why the different potential changeover points? Presumably because the hope and intention was that John would successfully prepare the way, and the Messianic reign would be ushered in by Israel&rsquo;s acceptance of their Messiah. And yet they killed Him. That point in itself was the theological changeover moment. But still not all Israel accepted the apostolic preaching of repentance for the crucifixion. And so in practice, the changeover point came when the temple was destroyed and any serious obedience to the old covenant was thereby rendered impossible. In all this we see God&rsquo;s amazing grace and desire continually to work with people, factoring in the possibility of their repentance.</p> 328140111414<p>11:14- see on 21:32.</p> <p><em>And if you are willing to receive it-&nbsp;</em>The same word was used earlier in this section, when the Lord spoke of the apostles being &lsquo;received&rsquo; by those who had initially responded to John&rsquo;s teaching (Mt. 10:14,40,41). If Israel would receive it, John the Baptist was the Elijah prophet. The course of fulfilment of prophecy was conditional upon whether John succeeded in turning the hearts of Israel back to the fathers or not; on preparing them for the great and terrible day of the Lord. The Kingdom&nbsp;<em>could&nbsp;</em>have come in the 1st century had Israel received John as Elijah. But they would not. And so another Elijah prophet is to come in the last days and prepare Israel for her Messiah. &ldquo;If ye are willing to receive him, this is Elijah which is to come&rdquo; (RVmg.) says it all. The Elijah prophet who was to herald the Messianic Kingdom&nbsp;<em>could have been</em>&nbsp;John the Baptist- if Israel had received him. But they didn&rsquo;t, and so the prophecy went down another avenue of fulfilment. It could be that Mal. 4:6 implies that there is still the possibility that even the latter day Elijah ministry may not be totally successful- for the earth / land is to be smitten with a curse unless he succeeds in turning the hearts of the fathers to the children, and there is no lack of evidence that the land may well be &lsquo;smitten&rsquo; in the last days.&nbsp;</p> <p>Some prophecies are fulfilled according to the acceptance of their fulfilment by believers, and therefore have their fulfilments in different ways at different times. Thus for those who received it, Malachi&rsquo;s &lsquo;Elijah&rsquo; prophecies were fulfilled in John the Baptist, for those who accepted him (Mt. 11:14). The implication is that for those who didn&rsquo;t, those prophecies weren&rsquo;t fulfilled. When the Lord stood up and read from Isaiah, He commented that &ldquo;this day is this Scripture fulfilled in your ears&rdquo; (Lk. 4:21). He didn&rsquo;t mean that His reading those words in a synagogue had fulfilled them. He speaks of &ldquo;your ears&rdquo; as standing for &lsquo;your correct perception / understanding&rsquo; in Mt. 13:16. What He was surely saying was that for those of them who perceived who He was, Isaiah&rsquo;s words were ringing true. For those who rejected Him, of course, they weren&rsquo;t fulfilled, and therefore their complete, universal acceptance&nbsp;/ fulfilment would be delayed until a future day; just as it was with the &lsquo;Elijah&rsquo; prophecy.</p> <p>The &ldquo;it&rdquo; in &quot;receive it&quot; could refer to the prophetic message of the Law and prophets- hence GNB offers &ldquo;and if you are willing to believe their message&hellip;&rdquo;. It was taken as assumed that every Jew received / accepted the Law and the prophets, but the Lord&rsquo;s point was that if they really received it, then they would accept John&rsquo;s message and now accept Him as Messiah. Likewise the Lord challenges the Jewish scribes as to whether they had ever really read the Old Testament (Mt. 21:16,42; Mk. 2:25)- when they spent their days doing so (Jn. 5:39 RV).&nbsp;</p> <p><em>This was Elijah that has to come</em>- See on :10. John in humility and self-effacement had denied being the Elijah prophet (Jn. 1:20), and he now had a similar doubt, wondering whether in fact Jesus was the Elijah prophet and the Messiah was still to be looked for. The Lord is saying that John was who he was, the Elijah prophet, despite John's self-doubt. And we again have an example- we are to treat our brethren as whom God sees them as being, notwithstanding their temporary weaknesses and self-doubt. The use of &ldquo;this&rdquo; rather than &ldquo;he&rdquo; could be because the Lord had in mind the Elijah prophet&rsquo;s ministry, and not just John personally. &nbsp;</p> 329140111515<p>11:15&nbsp;<em>He that has ears to hear, let him hear</em>- The Lord often uses this phrase, the idea seems to be that not all have the capacity to really hear, but if we do, then, we still have to exercise a choice as to whether we do or not. That would also be true to observed experience, because that is indeed how it seems- some people have no interest in God&rsquo;s word, something is not &lsquo;given&rsquo; them, so that they never &lsquo;get it&rsquo;; and those to whom it is given, there must still be a conscious choice exercised. For those who decide rightly, it becomes true that to him who has, more is given (Mt. 13:12). That verse in 13:12 begs the question &lsquo;Has what?&rsquo;. The answer is surely given here in 11:15: &lsquo;ears to hear&rsquo;. The hearing or listening which the Lord refers to is listening to the message of John- for the next verses liken John&rsquo;s ministry to calling out to people to respond, although most choose to be non-responsive. Maybe the idea is &lsquo;Despite John having a temporary crisis of faith and understanding, that is no excuse for not hearing his message&rsquo;. Perhaps the tension is being developed between the need to&nbsp;<em>hear</em>&nbsp;John, whereas it is thrice stressed that this crowd had gone out into the desert to&nbsp;<em>see</em>&nbsp;John (11:7-9), as if they were going to a show- a powerful challenge that echoes down to our generation of churchgoing and churchianity.</p> 330140111616<p>11:16&nbsp;<em>But unto what shall I liken this generation?</em>- The Lord several times spoke of that entire generation as sinful and unresponsive to the Gospel. Yet the context here is talking of John the Baptist&rsquo;s work. This therefore was a tacit recognition that John&rsquo;s ministry had been unsuccessful in terms of converting all Israel, and therefore clearly&nbsp;there was to be a change in the prophetic program. As noted earlier in commentary on this chapter, it was this change in the prophetic program which was worrying John, even though unnecessarily in terms of his own salvation.&nbsp;</p> <p><em>It is like children sitting-&nbsp;</em>John&rsquo;s ministry was like children wanting to play funerals, and taking the initiative by beginning with mock weeping- but not getting any response. The Lord&rsquo;s ministry was as children wanting to play weddings, piping to the other children, who would not respond by dancing. Note that in 10:42 the Lord has likened His preachers to little children. Children were considered non-persons in society, and yet the Lord uses children in this parable as representative of His preachers. We note that although He likened them to children, He had to sternly warn them that they still needed to be converted and become&nbsp;<em>as</em> children (Mt. 18:3). We see Him so often imputing status to His followers which they had not in reality attained. This is to help us appreciate how He can impute righteousness to we who are not righteous. The parable of preaching here pictures children appealing to children. The commonality between us and our audience is very attractive and persuasive. We are humans reaching out to humans, indeed, children to children; the children called out (cp. calling out the Gospel) to &ldquo;their&nbsp;<em>fellows</em>&rdquo;.&nbsp;</p> <p><em>In the market places, who call to their fellows</em>- The town square. The Lord uses the same word in the parable of Mt. 20:3, where the call of the Gospel comes to men who are standing idle in the market place (s.w.). The picture is perhaps of society getting on with its existence, but the weak labourers and the children being left to one side, excluded from standard adult social and economic life. And it is to these that the call of the Gospel comes, in the midst of human busyness.&nbsp;</p> 331140111717<p>11:17 <em>And say: We piped to you and you did not dance. We wailed and you did not mourn- </em>The Old Testament as well as the New is written in such a way as to encourage memorization, although this is often masked by the translation. There are several devices commonly used to assist in this. Not least is alliteration, i.e. similarly sounding syllables. &quot;We have piped unto you, and ye have not danced (<em>orchee-sasthe</em>); we have mourned unto you and ye have not lamented (<em>ekop-sasthe</em>)&quot; (Mt. 11:17) could be dynamically rendered: 'We piped for you, and you never&nbsp;<strong>stept</strong>; we dirged for you, and you never&nbsp;<strong>wept</strong>&quot;. We note that the Lord parallels the work of the children John&rsquo;s &lsquo;children&rsquo; or disciples, and His. Although both of them were somewhat negative about each other, the Lord saw both groups of children as doing the same work, despite a different culture and even doctrinal emphasis. The division in the town square was between the children begging the others to respond, and the children of this world who didn&rsquo;t want to, in the midst of those who didn&rsquo;t even have ears to hear and were just getting on with their worldly business and never &lsquo;heard&rsquo; the invitation from either group of children.</p> <p>The Lord was speaking this whilst the disciples were away on their preaching tour. He could say that just as John&rsquo;s preparation of the way had not been responded to on the level of the whole &ldquo;generation&rdquo; or society, neither had His more upbeat and joyful invitation been accepted. Note that the call of the Gospel is a call to engage with the preacher, to dance in response to the tune piped. Community and fellowship are all part of response to the Gospel; it&rsquo;s not about delivering truths to an individual who then accepts them and has no further relationship with the preacher. This is why the father-son analogy is used for preaching and conversion later in the NT. There is the implication too that the initial preacher continues to call the tune, to direct the dancing of the convert, even after initial acceptance of the invitation.</p> <p>Remember that the Lord is addressing those who had gone out to hear John preach (:7-9). He is implying that they had no actually responded to his call to them.&nbsp;</p> 332140111818<p>11:18&nbsp;<em>For John came neither eating nor drinking and they say he has a demon-</em>The Gospels give the impression that there was mass response to John&rsquo;s preaching, but according to the Lord&rsquo;s reasoning here, He felt that &ldquo;this generation&rdquo;, society as a whole, had rejected John&rsquo;s message and slandered him as in league with demons. Exactly the same was said about the ministry of Jesus (Jn. 8:48 uses the same term about Jesus- &ldquo;He has a demon&rdquo;). Surface level interest in the message, even applauding it and making a great effort to go out into the desert to hear it preached, was and is not the same as responding in real repentance.</p> 333140111919<p>11:19&nbsp;<em>The Son of Man came eating and drinking and they say, Look, a gluttonous man and a drunkard-&nbsp;</em>The Lord was accused of being a drunkard, a glutton, and a friend of tax collectors and sinners (Mt. 11:19; Lk. 7:34). This is all language reminiscent of the commands for the parents to slay the 'rebellious son' of Dt. 21:18-21. It's conceivable that one of the reasons why His death was demanded was because of this. Hence His relatives sought to take Him away out of public sight. It's also been claimed that the Jews' complaint that Jesus 'made Himself equal to the Father' (Jn. 5:18) is alluding to a rabbinic expression which speaks of the 'rebellious son' of Dt. 21 as being a son who makes himself equal to his father. The shame of being Jesus' mother eventually wore off upon Mary, or so it seems to me. Just as the shame of standing up for Christian principles can wear us down, too. In passing, note that the prodigal son is likewise cast in the role of the 'rebellious son' who should be killed; the correspondence suggests that the Lord Jesus can identify with sinners like the prodigal because He was treated<em>&nbsp;as if</em> He were a sinner, a rebellious son; even though He was not in actuality.</p> <p>The criticisms of the Lord here were all related to His drinking, eating and table company. Jesus showed by His fellowship with &ldquo;the poor in spirit&rdquo; that He meant what He said. He, as God&rsquo;s Son, extended His Father&rsquo;s fellowship to them in the here and now of this life. Luke seems to have been especially perceptive of the fact that Jesus often accepted invitations to eat with those whom others despised (Lk. 5:29; 7:36; 10:38; 11:37; 14:1). In 1st century Palestine, to eat with someone was a religious act.&nbsp; The host blessed and broke the bread and then broke off a piece for each guest, thus binding together all present. This was why the many sects of Judaism carefully limited their table fellowship (notably the Pharisees and Essenes). Thus it was the Lord&rsquo;s desire to share table fellowship with the very lowest (apparently) within the community of God that brought Him such criticism (Mt. 11:19; Mk. 2:16). His teaching also made it plain that He saw table fellowship with Him at a meal as a type of the future Messianic banquet, to be enjoyed in His Kingdom at His return, when redeemed sinners will again sit and eat with Him (Lk. 22:29,30). To accept the gift of the bread of life at the breaking of bread is to symbolize our acceptance of the life that is in Him. If we believe what we are doing at the memorial meeting, we are showing our acceptance of the fact that we will be there, and that what we are doing in our humble breakings of bread is in fact a true foretaste of the Kingdom experience which awaits us.</p> <p><em>A friend of tax collectors and sinners!</em>- The Lord was &lsquo;fond&rsquo; [<em>philos</em>] of sinners; He liked them and their company. In this we see His greatness, for most spiritual people admit to finding the company of the unspiritual somewhat of a burden. But the Lord&rsquo;s spirituality was beyond that. Truly He is the sinners&rsquo; friend. And Matthew as a tax collector is testifying to this personally.</p> <p><em>But wisdom is justified by her children-&nbsp;</em>Appreciating the inter-relation between 'doctrine' and practice will result in our seeing through the fallacy that because someone's deeds are good, therefore it doesn't matter too much about their doctrine. The spiritual fruit which God seeks is that which is brought forth by the seed of His word, the Gospel. To&nbsp;<em>really</em>&nbsp;understand the basic Gospel with one's heart is to bring forth fruit, to be converted. True wisdom is justified by the works she brings forth (Mt. 11:19). This is why true conversion involves understanding and perceiving, and not merely hearing doctrinal truth (Mt. 13:15). Yet the counter argument would be that there are people who know God&rsquo;s truth who behave poorly, and there are those who know little of it who act well. This is why the Lord speaks of &ldquo;wisdom&rdquo;, not &ldquo;truth&rdquo;; for wisdom is God&rsquo;s truth applied in practice.&nbsp;<br /> On another level, we see here the Lord&rsquo;s response to slander, both of Himself and John. Wisdom is justified of her children- in the end. The &ldquo;children&rdquo; are those of Himself and John, who have just featured in His parable of the preachers, His children, meeting lack of response in the town square. Even if there is lack of response to the invitation, the Lord was confident that both His &lsquo;children&rsquo; (the &ldquo;little ones&rdquo; of Mt. 10:42) and John&rsquo;s would be the justification of the truth and wisdom which they were teaching. This is all a comfort to those undergoing slander. In the end, if we are on the side of wisdom, we shall be justified.</p> 334140112020<p>11:20 <em>Then he began to chastise the cities-</em>&nbsp;The Lord also upbraided the disciples for their unbelief (Mk. 16:14 s.w.). Again we see the Lord being positive towards His disciples in the eyes of the world, and yet privately challenging them with the same language of criticism which He had for the unbelieving world. His imputation of righteousness to us doesn&rsquo;t mean He is blind to our weakness.</p> <p><em>Wherein most</em>- Gk. &lsquo;the majority&rsquo;. We must give this word its full weight. The majority of the Lord&rsquo;s miracles were done in three tiny villages- Chorazin, Bethsaida and Capernaum. We have just learnt that whilst the disciples were away on their preaching tour, He had gone to preach in their home villages (11:1). Perhaps some time had elapsed between verses 19 and 20. He had had little response. Philip, Andrew and Peter were all from Bethsaida, the &lsquo;home of fishermen&rsquo; (Jn. 1:44; 12:21). We sense that the Lord had a specific plan in mind for His preaching work. He made a particular focus upon Galilee and the home villages of His disciples- and Galilee was of course His own home area. We see in this policy a desire by Him for us to witness in our own immediate environment and family situations. Mk. 8:22-26 records the only miracle the Gospels record as performed in Bethsaida, and the Lord told the cured blind man not to tell anyone in Bethsaida about the miracle- presumably because the people there had already seen ample miracles and had not repented.&nbsp;</p> <p><em>Of his mighty works had been done, because they had not repented-</em>&nbsp;Here we see the purpose of the healing miracles. They were not simply to alleviate human suffering for the sake of it- they were specifically designed to lead people to repentance. God&rsquo;s goodness is intended to lead to repentance (Rom. 2:4). The doing of Christian &lsquo;good works&rsquo; can&rsquo;t be criticized in itself, but it needs to be observed that they often seem to be performed &lsquo;for the sake of it&rsquo;, whereas the Lord&rsquo;s works were always within a wider plan and aim of bringing people to spiritual healing.&nbsp;</p> 335140112121<p>11:21&nbsp;<em>Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the mighty works had been done in Tyre and Sidon which were done in you, they would have-&nbsp;</em>God likewise looks down upon our lives today, seeing all possibilities, and how unbelievers would respond so much more to Him than His own dear people. It's the pain of the parent, knowing that other children would respond so much more to their love than their own beloved offspring. The Lord Jesus had something of this when He commented that Tyre and Sidon would've repented had they had His message preached to them; but Israel would not. To know all possible futures must make experiencing human life and poor decision making all the harder and more tragic for the Father and Son.</p> <p><em>Repented-</em>&nbsp;Here we see that the intention of the miracles was not merely healing in itself, as a good to humanity- but rather to invite people to repentance. Hence the connection between healing and forgiveness in the account of the healing of the paralyzed man.&nbsp;</p> <p><em>Long ago in sackcloth and ashes</em>- Made of camel and goat hair, therefore very similar to the clothing of John the Baptist- which is the context here (11:8).</p> 336140112222<p>11:22&nbsp;<em>But I say to you, it shall be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon in the day of judgment than for you-</em>&nbsp;Tyre and Sodom were major Gentile cities. The Lord clearly believed their inhabitants would be resurrected and appear at the future day of judgment. Seeing that knowledge is the basis of responsibility to judgment, it follows that there was some witness made to them. Ezekiel&rsquo;s prophecies of condemnation against Tyre can therefore be seen as conditional prophecies, like the prophecy of Nineveh&rsquo;s destruction- they could have repented in response to them. The witness to Sodom was presumably through the witness of Lot&rsquo;s righteous life. The extent of human responsibility to Divine judgment would appear to be far greater than we might suspect. Those who live in the presence of believers are surely responsible to judgment, according to the pattern of Sodom. Clearly there will be degrees of punishment at that day- and for the home villages of the disciples, their suffering will be &lsquo;intolerable&rsquo;. The implication is that if the witness of Ezekiel, Lot etc. had been backed up by the kind of miracles the Lord was performing, then this would&rsquo;ve tipped the balance- and they would&rsquo;ve repented.&nbsp;</p> 337140112323<p>11:23&nbsp;<em>And you Capernaum, shall you be exalted to heaven? -&nbsp;</em>Here we have another example of the Bible being written from the perspective of men. Capernaum was exalted in her own eyes, the people there were spiritually proud and exalted in their own eyes. Likewise &ldquo;the wise&rdquo; in :25 refers to those who thought they were wise.</p> <p><em>You shall go down to hades-</em>&nbsp;The prophecy against Babylon of Isaiah 14 is here applied to the towns of Israel. The point is that the condemnation of the wicked Gentiles will come upon those of God&rsquo;s people who act like them. Likewise the punishment of Babylon was to be cast as a millstone into the sea, but this is applied by the Lord to those of God&rsquo;s people who make their brethren stumble (Mt. 18:6; Rev. 18:21).</p> <p><em>For if the mighty works-&nbsp;</em>The Greek&nbsp;<em>dunamis</em>&nbsp;also has the sense of ability, possible power. The miracles, to which the &ldquo;mighty works&rdquo; clearly refer, had potential power to bring the people to repentance, but they were content to just accept the temporal blessings of knowing Jesus rather than being moved by those blessings to repentance.</p> <p><em>Had been done in Tyre and Sidon which were done in you, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes-&nbsp;</em>The Lord knew that cities like Tyre and Sidon would have responded to the Gospel in the first century; had it been preached to them. But the message was taken to Jewish villages like Chorazin and Bethsaida instead. Such was God&rsquo;s love, His especial and exclusive love for Israel. Sodom likewise would have repented if the message of Lot had been backed up by miracles; but, that extra proof wasn&rsquo;t given. But such a concession was made to Israel through the ministry and miracles of Jesus.</p> 338140112424<p>11:24&nbsp;<em>But I say to you, that it shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom in the day of judgment, than for you</em>- The Greek for &quot;tolerable&quot; could suggest &lsquo;endurance&rsquo;, hinting at a period of suffering rather than an eternal state of suffering. The suffering will be the sense of regret for what could have been, how they could have responded. This sense will be so acute that it is described in figurative terms as Gehenna fire, gnashing of teeth etc. Time and again we must remind ourselves of this, so that day by day we &lsquo;grasp the moment&rsquo; and proceed in life with no ultimate cause for spiritual regret.</p> 339140112525<p>11:25 <em>At that time Jesus answered-</em>&nbsp;Often the Gospels record that Jesus &quot;answered and said...&quot;. Yet it's often not clear whether anyone had asked a question, or said anything that needed a response (Mt. 11:25; 22:1; Mk. 10:24, 51; 11:14,22,33; 12:35; 13:2; 14:48; Lk. 5:22; 7:40; 8:50; 13:2; 14:3,5; 17:17; 22:51; Jn. 1:50; 5:19; 6:70; 10:32; 12:23,30; 16:31). If you go through this list, you will see how Jesus 'answered' / responded to peoples' unexpressed fears and questions, their unarticulated concerns, criticisms, feelings and agendas. This little phrase reveals how sensitive Jesus was. He saw people's unspoken, unarticulated needs and responded. He didn't wait to be asked. For Jesus, everybody He met was a question, a personal direct challenge, that He responded to. And of course this is how we should seek to be too. And yet here in Mt. 11:25 He could be responding to His own question and reflection upon why so few responded and why only the immature disciples seemed to understand anything at all? We see here a window into the very internal thought process of the Lord, something which could only come from a Divinely inspired record.</p> <p><em>I thank You O Father, Lord of Heaven and earth-</em>&nbsp;This is language taken directly from the&nbsp;<em>Hodayot</em>, the Qumran &ldquo;Thanksgiving Psalms&rdquo;. There is reason to think that in his years in the Qumran area, John the Baptist became familiar with the Qumran community, and may have passed on some of their style and culture to his converts. The multitudes addressed here by the Lord had initially responded to John (11:7). So it would seem that the Lord is bridge building with them, speaking to them in terms known and accessible to them, and yet leading them further and away from the legalism and extremes of Qumran thought. Note how there is a juxtaposition of God&rsquo;s Almightiness, as Lord of Heaven and earth, with His closeness to us as &ldquo;Father&rdquo;.</p> <p><em>That You did hide these things from the wise</em>- Those who think they are wise in their own eyes- see on &ldquo;exalted&rdquo; in :24.</p> <p><em>And prudent-</em>&nbsp;Again we see the Lord&rsquo;s grace, for the disciples themselves weren&rsquo;t &lsquo;understanding&rsquo; (s.w.) of everything at this time (s.w. Mt. 13:51; Mk. 6:52 they considered / understood not; 8:17,21; Lk. 18:34; 24:45). Yet to them was revealed the Truth which others had hid from them.</p> <p><em>And did reveal them to-</em>&nbsp;This continues the thought of 11:15, that only some have ears to hear. The word is used in Mt. 16:27 of how the truth of Christ was revealed to Peter, one of the &ldquo;babes&rdquo;.&nbsp;</p> <p><em>Babes</em>- An essay in the serious immaturity of the disciples, and yet the Lord&rsquo;s love of them all the same. They are the &lsquo;little ones&rsquo; of 10:42, the little children in the town square of 11:16.&nbsp;See on 1 Cor. 1:19. Paul saw the simplicity of the Corinthian believers as the sort of thing Christ referred to in Mt. 11:25.</p> 340140112626<p>11:26 <em>Yes Father, for so it was well-pleasing in Your sight</em>- We have the same kind of thing in Revelation, where Angels as it were take a breath and praise the Father for His wisdom in the judgments which they have just executed. We have here one of the few times when we get the record of the Lord's actual words to God in prayer. We note that He repeatedly addresses Him as &quot;Father&quot;; and through receipt of the Spirit, His relationship with the Father becomes ours. And &quot;Father&quot; ought surely to be our most common form of address to God.</p> 341140112727<p>11:27&nbsp;<em>All things have been delivered to me by my Father-&nbsp;</em>Gk. 'were delivered'. The &ldquo;all things&rdquo; may be the power of salvation for all men.&nbsp;</p> <p><em>And no one knows the Son save the Father. Neither does anyone know the Father</em>- Gk. 'to know fully'. Nobody, the disciples included, to whom the Father had &lsquo;revealed&rsquo; repentance, fully knew the Son nor the Father. There is a parallel to be observed here between &lsquo;knowing the Father&rsquo; and repenting; for the context speaks of how the majority had not repented despite the Lord&rsquo;s miracles. The little ones, the babes, the disciples, had repented- but this had been &lsquo;revealed&rsquo; to them by the Father (:25). Now, the Lord speaks of how the Son &lsquo;reveals&rsquo; the Father. The life of repentance is the life of knowing the Father. To know God is to know our sinfulness and repent. And this is the &ldquo;rest&rdquo; from sin which the Lord speaks of in :28.&nbsp;</p> <p><em>Save the Son-&nbsp;</em>Whether or not Joseph died or left Mary by the time Jesus hit adolescence, the fact was that Joseph wasn&rsquo;t His real father. He was effectively fatherless in the earthly sense. As such, this would have set Him up in certain psychological matrices which had their effect on His personality. He could speak of His Heavenly Father in the shockingly unprecedented form of &lsquo;abba&rsquo;, daddy. He grew so close to His Heavenly Father because of the lack of an earthly one, and the inevitable stresses which there would have been between Him and Joseph. A strong, fatherly-type figure is a recurrent feature of the Lord&rsquo;s parables; clearly He was very focused upon His Heavenly Father. He could say with passionate truth: &ldquo;No one knows a son except a father, and no one knows a father except a son&rdquo; (Mt. 11:27; Lk. 10:22).</p> <p><em>And to whomsoever</em>- The idea is not that the Lord Jesus had a list of humanity and chose a few from that list. He has earlier spoken of the freedom of choice to &lsquo;receive&rsquo; (:14) God&rsquo;s message, and He was urging all men to do so. Although all men are potentially delivered to Him, the Father is revealing Himself to only some of them. The Father is revealed in the Son, as John&rsquo;s Gospel makes clear. It&rsquo;s not that some people are chosen by the Son to have this revelation; rather is it a statement of fact, or method- the knowledge of the Father is through the Son revealing Him. And this is why He goes straight on in :28 to urge people to come to Him. The ideas of coming to Him and &lsquo;whomsoever&rsquo;, anyone, are very much the language of John&rsquo;s Gospel and the Revelation, which concludes with an appeal to &lsquo;whosoever will&rsquo; to &lsquo;come&rsquo; to Christ and salvation.&nbsp;</p> <p><em>The Son wishes to reveal Him</em>- This revealing is by the Spirit (1 Cor. 2:10; Eph. 3:5). It was not flesh and blood that revealed the Lord to Peter (16:17). As noted on 1 Pet. 1:21, relationship with God is predicated upon relationship with the Son; He is the only way to the Father. Academic Bible study, consideration of the apparent evidence of apologetics, will not reveal God as Father to men. It is the Son who reveals Him. If we take the jump of faith in accepting Him, only then will He reveal the Father to us.&nbsp;</p> 342140112828<p>11:28&nbsp;<em>Come to me all you that labour and are</em>- See on :27 &ldquo;whomsoever&rdquo;. The Lord may be urging the audience to come unto&nbsp;<em>Him</em>&nbsp;in the same way as they had come out to hear John preaching (:7-9). The invitation at the last day to &ldquo;Come&rdquo; into the Kingdom (Mt. 25:34 s.w.) is heard even now in the invitation to come after Him. The preceding verses share with us a beautiful insight into the mind and inner prayer of the Son to the Father. He meditated upon why apparently so few were responding, and went on to marvel at the Father&rsquo;s wisdom in revealing only to some, and to the immature &lsquo;little ones&rsquo; of His disciples. But arising out of that time of prayer and meditation, the Lord goes on to make a public appeal to whosoever will to come to Him. And this is the exact pattern which our public witness and appeal to others should follow.</p> <p><em>Heavy laden</em>- The context is a lament that because people are wise, prudent and exalted in pride, they will not come to the Father and Son. But this way of life and thinking is in fact a hard way to live. Hence the Lord commends His own humility to those proud people. Whilst the arrogance and self-assurance of modern man seems an impossible barrier to the Gospel, we must be aware that actually they are struggling with it and are laden down with it. The word is only elsewhere used about the lawyers lading people with heavy burdens (Lk. 11:46)- not only of guilt, but also of pride in having kept irrelevant laws. David found his sins associated with Bathsheba &quot;as an heavy burden... too heavy for me... I am (thereby) bowed down greatly&quot; (Ps. 32:4,6). Surely our Lord was thinking back to David when he invited all of us: &quot;Come unto me, all you who labour and are heavy laden (with sins), and I will give you rest... for My... burden is light&quot; (Mt. 11:28-30).&nbsp;</p> <p><em>And I will give you rest-&nbsp;</em>The Lord Jesus invites those who follow Him to accept the &ldquo;rest&rdquo; which He gives (Mt. 11:28). He uses a Greek word which is used in the Septuagint, the Greek translation of the Old Testament, for the Sabbath rest. Jesus was offering a life of Sabbath, of rest from trust in our own works (cp. Heb. 4:3,10). We shouldn&rsquo;t, therefore, keep a Sabbath one day per week, but rather live our whole lives in the spirit of the Sabbath.&nbsp;</p> <p>The Pharisees were the ones burdening the people (Mt. 23:4; Lk. 11:46), so this could be read as a fairly direct appeal to quit respecting the religious leaders of the day and follow the teaching of Jesus instead. Legalism and obedience to the Law is likened to an unbearable yoke (Acts 15:10; Gal. 5:1).&nbsp;</p> 343140112929<p>11:29&nbsp;<em>Take-&nbsp;</em>The same word is used in the challenge to &quot;take up&quot; the cross. To take up Christ's cross, to take on His yoke, is to learn of Him, to come to know Him. Yet do we sense any&nbsp;<em>pain</em>&nbsp;in our coming to know Christ? We should do, because the cross was the ultimate symbol of pain, and to take it up is to take on the yoke, the knowledge, of Christ. Clearly the knowledge of the Father and Son is so much more than knowing theological propositions about them.</p> <p><em>My yoke</em>- The yoke metaphor was commonly used at the time to speak of a career or profession / daily occupation. Our 'career' is to be in His service, and any human yoke or career is to not be seen by us as our defining situation in life. We can't be 'career people' in the sense that many are in this world- for our career is with the Lord. And yet the yoke was also understood as &lsquo;teaching&rsquo;; for Sirach 51:26 has the sage inviting students to put their necks under his yoke and learn his teaching. The Lord Jesus is a yoke- He unites men together, so that the otherwise unbearable burden of the spiritual life is lighter (Mt. 11:29). If we do not let our fellowship with others lighten our load, then we basically have not been brought under Christ. To be in Him, under His yoke, is to put our arms around our brethren and labour together. The Lord paralleled &quot;Come unto&nbsp;<em>Me</em>&quot; with taking His yoke upon us, in order to have a light burden (Mt. 11:28-30). A yoke is what binds animals together, so that they can between them carry a burden which otherwise would be too great for them individually. The invitation to come unto Jesus personally is therefore an invitation into a community- to be lined up alongside another, and have a yoke placed upon us. Without submitting to this, we can't actually carry the heavy burden laid upon us. This heavy burden laid upon the believer must surely have some reference to the cross we are asked to share in and carry. We can't do this alone; and perhaps it happened that the Lord Himself couldn't even bear His own cross without the help of another, in order to show us the point. We can't claim to have come personally unto Jesus, somehow liking the idea of the Man Jesus, intellectually accepting His teachings on an abstract level- and yet keep our distance from our brethren. It seems increasingly true that human relationships are almost impossible to maintain at an intimate level- without Christ. He is the yoke which enables the psychological miracle of people pulling together, for life, in order to carry His cross. The most essential &ldquo;law of Christ&rdquo; is to bear one another&rsquo;s burdens (Gal. 6:2). Paul had this in mind when he described his brethren as 'yokefellows' (Phil. 4:3). For Paul, his joy and crown would be to see his brethren accepted into God's Kingdom at judgment day. David had the same spirit when he wrote of how he longed to &quot;see the prosperity of Your chosen, that I may rejoice in the gladness of Your nation, that I may glory with Your inheritance&quot; (Ps. 106:5). His personal vision of God's Kingdom involved seeing others there; there's no hint of spiritual selfishness in David. And he goes straight on to comment: &quot;We have sinned with our fathers, we have committed iniquity... our fathers understood not...&quot; (Ps. 106:6). David felt himself very much at one with the community of God's children, both in their failures and in their ultimate hope. Life with God simply can't be lived in isolation from the rest of His people. Our salvation in that sense has a collective aspect to it, and if we want 'out' with the community of believers in this life, then we're really voting ourselves out of their future glory.</p> <p>The reference to having a heavy yoke lifted recalls the servant song which spoke of the need to &ldquo;undo the bands of the [heavy] yoke&rdquo; (Is. 58:6). Paul takes passages from Isaiah&rsquo;s servant songs and applies them to us. The servant who suffered and witnessed to the world was evidently the Lord Jesus. And yet Isaiah is also explicit that the servant is the whole seed of Abraham, &ldquo;Jacob&rdquo;, the slowly-developing people of God (Is. 41:8; 44:1). There are many connections within Isaiah between the servant songs, and the descriptions of the people of Israel into which the songs are interspersed. The Saviour-servant was to bring out the prisoners from the dungeons (Is. 42:7), so was every Israelite &ldquo;to let the oppressed go free... loose the bonds&rdquo;, and to &ldquo;undo the bands of the [heavy] yoke&rdquo; (Is. 58:6) as Christ does here (Mt. 11:28,29); His work of deliverance is to be replicated by each of us in our witness. Whoever is in Him will by this very fact follow Him in this work. In Isaiah&rsquo;s first context, the suffering servant was King Hezekiah. Yet all Israel were to see themselves as &lsquo;in&rsquo; him, as spiritual Israel are to see themselves as in Christ. &ldquo;He was oppressed&rdquo;, as Israel at that time were being &ldquo;oppressed&rdquo; by Assyria. As they were covered in wounds and spiritual sickness (Is. 1:5,6), so the suffering servant bore their diseases and rose again in salvation victory. Significantly, Isaiah 40-53 speak of the one servant, whereas Isaiah 54-66 speak of the &ldquo;servants&rdquo; who fulfil in principle the work of the singular servant. When the Lord speaks of a change of yokes for the weary and a granting of rest in Him (Mt. 11:28-30), He is using terms taken from Isaiah&rsquo;s restoration prophecies. The offer of rest was rejected by the exiles then; but is taken up now by all who accept Christ, realizing that they are in the same state as the exiles in Babylon.</p> <p><em>And learn from me, for I am meek and lowly in heart</em>- Vine comments: &quot;The word for the Christian virtue of humility was not used before the Christian era, and is distinctly an outgrowth of the Gospel&quot;. To be able to say in genuine humility that one knows the state of their own heart, and that it is humble, is an essay not only in humility but in the acute self-knowledge of the Lord. The Greek translated &ldquo;lowly&rdquo; definitely means cast down, depressed, implying a bringing down from a superior position (s.w. 2 Cor. 7:6). This helps us understand the language of Phil. 2:5-11, which speaks of the progressive humiliation of Christ, culminating in the death of the cross. Even at this point in His ministry, the Lord felt that He had been brought down in mind- He felt the progressive nature of His humility. And in that passage, the appeal is to allow that kind of mind and process to be in us, which was in Christ.&nbsp;</p> <p><em>And you shall find</em>- The yoke is&nbsp;<em>given</em>&nbsp;but we still have to&nbsp;<em>find</em>&nbsp;it by accepting the potential enabled by the Lord.</p> <p><em>Rest for your souls-&nbsp;</em>He assures us that if we come to Him, we will find &ldquo;rest&rdquo; (Mt. 11:29); but the same word is only used elsewhere about the&nbsp;rest / comfort which our brethren give us (1 Cor. 16:18; 2 Cor. 7:13; Philemon 7,20).</p> 344140113030<p>11:30- see Ex. 2:11.</p> <p><em>For my yoke is easy</em>- A poor translation. The cross of Christ is anything but &quot;easy&quot;; the idea is more that it is helpful for service; the relationships He enables between believers is what makes it easier for us to carry the heavy loads of His service, i.e. the cross. Even if we still insist on the translation &ldquo;easy&rdquo;, we reflect that the way to the Kingdom is easy relative to the wonder of what is in store for the faithful (2 Cor. 4:17); and yet from our human perspective it is hard indeed, a life of self-crucifixion (Acts 14:22; Rev.7:14). &ldquo;Easy&rdquo; translates&nbsp;<em>chrestos</em>, which sounds very like the &lsquo;Christ&rsquo;. By this word play the point is being made that Christ&nbsp;<em>is</em>&nbsp;His yoke. One of the most essential things about Christ is that those in Him are bound together with each other. Any view of &lsquo;Christ&rsquo; which excludes those in Him is therefore fundamentally flawed. Paul therefore teaches avoidance of any who cause division contrary to the teaching of Christ which we have &ldquo;learned&rdquo;- using the same word used here about Christ&rsquo;s uniting yoke being &lsquo;learning&rsquo; of Him (Rom. 16:17). See on&nbsp;20:16.</p> <p><em>And my burden is light-&nbsp;</em>Mic. 2:3&nbsp;reminded Israel that they will be under the yoke of judgment if they reject Yahweh&rsquo;s yoke. The Lord spoke of His servants having a light yoke. The Bible minded among His hearers would have thought back to the threatened punishment of an iron yoke for the disobedient (Dt. 28:48). 'It's a yoke either way', they would have concluded. But the Lord's yoke&nbsp;<em>even in this life</em>&nbsp;is light, and has promise of the life which is to come! The logic of taking it, with the restrictions it inevitably implies (for it is a yoke), is simply overpowering. Note that the Greek for &lsquo;light&rsquo; essentially means &lsquo;able to be carried&rsquo;- which connects with the idea of &lsquo;taking up&rsquo; the yoke and cross (see on 11:29). The point is- it is doable. The cross can be carried, the yoke can be worn- if we learn of Christ and thereby learn to take our place with others in carrying it.</p> 3451401211<p>12:1&nbsp;<em>At that time, on the Sabbath day, Jesus went through the grainfields, and his disciples were hungry</em>- The very poor were allowed to do this by the Law (Lev. 19:9; Dt. 23:24,25), and so we see in this a picture of the deep poverty of the Lord&rsquo;s followers; He later parallels the urgent hunger of David&rsquo;s men at the time of 1 Sam. 21 with that of His followers. It would seem that He Himself did not make use of the concession, because the criticism was focused upon His disciples rather than Himself. W.D. Davies lists evidence that Judaism forbad fasting on the Sabbath (Jubilees 50:12) (W.D. Davies&nbsp;<em>Matthew&nbsp;</em>p. 312 (<em>op cit.</em>)). In this case, the record is showing how the legalism of the time would&rsquo;ve condemned the disciples- and the poor generally- either way: for fasting on the Sabbath, or for &lsquo;threshing&rsquo; on the Sabbath to get food so as not to fast. The Lord therefore takes the whole argument to a level far above such petty legalism.</p> <p><em>And began to pluck ears of grain to eat</em>- The only point in mentioning this would presumably be because the Pharisees came and stopped them. This shows how closely the Lord and His men were under the critical eyes of others, even from a distance.</p> 3461401222<p>12:2&nbsp;<em>But the Pharisees, when they saw it, said to him: Look, your disciples do what is unlawful on the Sabbath</em>- A constant concern with the Pharisees (Mt. 19:3; 22:17; 27:6; Jn. 5:10; 18:31). The Lord's attitude here was to show that the Old Testament itself envisaged situations where true spirituality was above law. The parable of Mt. 20:15 brings the point home- the generous employer justified his pouring out of grace, giving the weak and lazy the same penny a day as the hard workers, on the basis that 'It is lawful for me to do what I wish'.</p> 3471401233<p>12:3&nbsp;<em>But he said to them: Have you not read-</em>&nbsp;Of course they had, many times. But the Lord here and several times elsewhere challenges them (and us) as to whether we have really read what we have. The Lord could have legitimately answered them: &lsquo;It is lawful to pick corn whilst passing through a field, the Law allows for this if one is poor, and my followers are indeed poor. There is nothing in the Law which stipulates this permission doesn&rsquo;t operate on the Sabbath&rsquo;. But as always, the Lord was prepared to meet people where they were, and to take them to a higher level. He seeks to teach by general principle that the extent of His Lordship meant that He and His men were free to do as they pleased on this kind of matter. He reasoned that &lsquo;OK, let&rsquo;s assume you&rsquo;re right, but David and&nbsp;<em>his</em>&nbsp;men broke the law because they were about God&rsquo;s business, this over-rode the need for technical obedience&rsquo;. The Lord Jesus wasn&rsquo;t constantly correcting specific errors of interpretation. He dealt in principles much larger than this, in order to make a more essential, practical, useful point.</p> <p><em>What David did when he was hungry, and they that were with him-</em>&nbsp;The Lord&rsquo;s reasoning depends upon drawing a parallel between Himself and David, and David&rsquo;s warriors and the disciples. Again, He is encouraging them to see themselves as no less than the warriors of David who later became the governors of Israel. Aaron&rsquo;s sons were the ones who were intended to eat the showbread (Lev. 24:5-9)- and again the Lord is inviting His secular disciples to see themselves as a new priesthood.</p> 3481401244<p>12:4&nbsp;<em>How he entered into the house of God</em>- For non-Levites to enter the Sanctuary was also not 'lawful', quite apart from eating the bread which only the priests could lawfully eat. This prepares the way for the Lord's later parable about God urging unclean street people to 'enter [His] house' because Israel had rejected the invitation (the same words are used- Lk. 14:23). The psychological magnitude of the Lord's new system of thinking is hard to appreciate. Non-Levites could now enter it- and even the worst of the Gentiles. But the magnitude of the new thinking in Christ for anyone, not least secular people of the 21st Century, is no less.</p> <p><em>And ate the showbread, which it was not lawful for him to eat, neither for them that were with him, but only for the priests?</em><i><br /> </i>- The Lord defended the non-observant Judaism of the twelve as being due to their joy that He, the bridegroom, was with them (Lk. 5:33,34). When they &lsquo;ground corn&rsquo; on the Sabbath, the Lord defended them to their critics by saying that they were like David&rsquo;s men eating the showbread. Those guys were just walking through a cornfield rubbing ears together as their manner was, as they had done on many a Sabbath day, but not realizing that this time there was some Scribe out with his binocular vision scrutinizing them. They surely weren&rsquo;t doing it because their minds were on the incident of David&rsquo;s men eating the showbread. The Lord had asked them to obey the Scribes, who sat in Moses&rsquo; seat, over this kind of trivia. But He doesn&rsquo;t rebuke them. Rather, He defends them to others, imputing far more spiritual perception to them than they had (Lk. 6:1-4). &nbsp;</p> <p>Clearly the Lord is suggesting that His ragtag crowd of disciples and questionable ministering women were the new priesthood of a new Israel.</p> 3491401255<p>12:5&nbsp;<em>Or have you not read in the law, that on the Sabbath day-</em>&nbsp;We need to reflect upon the implications of the fact that the vast majority of the early Christians were illiterate. Literacy levels in first century Palestine were only 10% at the highest estimate. Some estimate that the literacy level in the Roman empire was a maximum of 10%, and literacy levels in Palestine were at most 3%. Most of the literate people in Palestine would have been either the wealthy or the Jewish scribes. And yet it was to the poor that the Gospel was preached, and even in Corinth there were not many educated or &ldquo;mighty&rdquo; in this world within the ecclesia. Notice how the Lord said to the Pharisees: &ldquo;Have you not&nbsp;<em>read</em>?&rdquo; (Mk. 2:25; Mt. 12:5; 19:4), whilst He says to those who responded to Him: &ldquo;You have&nbsp;<em>heard</em>&rdquo; (Mt. 5:21,27,33). His followers were largely the illiterate.&nbsp;As the ecclesial world developed, Paul wrote inspired letters to the ecclesias. Those letters would have been&nbsp;<em>read</em>&nbsp;to the brethren and sisters. Hence the great importance of &lsquo;teachers&rsquo; in the early churches, those who could faithfully read and transmit to others what had been written.</p> <p><em>The priests in the temple</em>- The rabbis taught that &ldquo;Temple service takes precedence over the Sabbath&rdquo; (W.D. Davies&nbsp;<em>Matthew&nbsp;</em>p. 313 (<em>op cit.</em>)). Thinking through the logic of the Lord&rsquo;s argument, He clearly has the view that His disciples are about the work of the temple, walking through that cornfield. Otherwise His appeal to the rabbinic dictum had no sense. Again, He is encouraging His followers to see themselves as far more than secular, not very spiritual people who are personally attracted to the teachings of Jesus and are awed by His miracles. He&rsquo;s saying that actually they are as priests, professionally committed to serving God actively.</p> <p><em>Profane the Sabbath and are guiltless?-&nbsp;</em>The Lord (Mt. 12:5) said that the priests &quot;profaned&quot; or &lsquo;desecrated&rsquo; the Sabbath; He didn't say that because they kept the spirit of it, that was OK. By using a word as extreme as &quot;profaned&quot; He seems to be even emphasizing the point of paradox within God&rsquo;s self-revelation.</p> <p>Having accepted the Bible as the source of authority, we find that the Bible does not categorically list what behaviour is acceptable and what is unacceptable. Even within the Law of Moses, to obey some commands meant breaking others. And it is a common dilemma of sincere believers that they find themselves having to break one principle to keep another. The Bible is written in such a way as to give clear instruction to those who love and respect it, and yet to confuse those who do not fundamentally accept it into thinking that their faulty understanding is in fact the will of God. This is why it is true, on a surface level, that you can prove what you like from the Bible. Adolf Hitler, Jim Jones, David Koresh&nbsp;<em>et al</em>&nbsp;all managed to 'prove' the most bizarre things from the Bible- and persuade others to genuinely think that to do evil was in fact doing righteousness. So the fact that someone thinks that they are correctly interpreting the Bible does not thereby justify them, however sincere their conscience may be. And it does not mean that the church must therefore accept them, just because their conscience is clear and they think the Bible justifies their behaviour. The opposite of love isn&rsquo;t so much hatred, as indifference. To be indifferent to the real welfare of our fellows in this world, and of&nbsp;<em>all</em>&nbsp;our own brethren, is perhaps our most common sin. The Lord taught us that we should have a sense of urgency in our response to others. The Lord showed by His example that it is better to meet the hunger of human need than to keep the letter of Sabbath law (Mk. 2:25,26).&nbsp;<em>His&nbsp;</em>urgency,&nbsp;<em>God&rsquo;s&nbsp;</em>urgency,&nbsp;<em>our&nbsp;</em>consequent urgency&hellip; all means that when even Divine principles appear to come into conflict, we are to be influenced above all by the urgency of others&rsquo; need.</p> 3501401266<p>12:6&nbsp;<em>But I say to you, that one greater than the temple is here</em>- AV &quot;in this place&quot;. Sacred space was a big idea within Judaism. The Lord is directly challenging it by stating that He as a person was more holy and significant than the temple. The way He ate with sinners and touched the ritually unclean likewise reflect a redefinition of the holy. The implication could be that the Lord was standing at the edge of a cornfield (He was not within the synagogue- :9)- and He declared everywhere touched by Him to be holy.</p> 3511401277<p>12:7&nbsp;<em>But if you had known what this means</em>- This continues the challenge of :3- &quot;Have you never read?&quot;. They&nbsp;<em>had</em>&nbsp;read, but without understanding. They had read without perceiving meaning- and it led them to &quot;condemn the guiltless&quot;. Without unduly exalting intellectualism for its own sake, this is a sobering thought- that the crucifixion of God's Son was the result of a chronic lack of understanding of God's word. To pay lip service to Biblicism is not enough; the meaning in the words, the whole issue of interpretation, is crucially important; getting it wrong can lead to crucifying the Son of God afresh. The Greek&nbsp;<em>esti</em>&nbsp;translated 'means' is basically the verb 'to be'- if they had known what the Scripture 'is' they would've have condemned the guiltless. The Bible 'is' its true interpretation, and this idea comes to its ultimate term in the declaration of Jesus as being 'the word'.&nbsp;</p> <p><em>I desire mercy</em>- Hos. 6:6 says that Yahweh &quot;desires mercy&quot;. These two Hebrew words sound similar to each other- mercy / grace is so identified with God's passion and desire. The same Hebrew words are to be found in the statements that He desires / delights in grace / mercy (Jer. 9:24; Mic. 7:18). If&nbsp;<em>He</em>&nbsp;delights in forgiveness and grace, then we should also; His passion should be ours. This of itself outlaws the critical eyes of the Pharisees, noticing the disciples' infringement of a law and feeling the need to 'take up the matter' with them. And it will be the same with us. The human tendency to observe others with eyes of criticism and sensitivity to their weaknesses will be displaced if we simply delight in mercy. The Hosea passage goes on to condemn the Jewish religious leadership in language which the Lord clearly used in constructing the parable of the good Samaritan: &quot;As troops of robbers wait for a man, so the company of priests murder in the way by consent&quot; (Hos. 6:8). But there's a subtle twist- the priest in the Lord's story passed by on the other side and simply did nothing. That inaction is paralleled with being as bad as the thieves themselves. The priest was returning from having offered sacrifice, but he didn't show mercy- and God wants mercy and not sacrifice. Note that the passage in Hos. 6:6 is perhaps purposefully ambiguous. It could mean 'I want to see you showing mercy, and not [so much offering] sacrifice'; or it could mean 'I myself want / love / delight in [showing] mercy rather than [receiving] sacrifice'. The ambiguity is because God's will / love / delight should be ours. And we can read the quotation of that passage here in Mt. 12:7 with the same double meaning. His passion for grace must be ours, and this precludes looking critically at others, eager to perceive their breaches of our perceptions of God's law.</p> <p><em>And not sacrifice, you would not have condemned the guiltless</em>- Who exactly did the Lord have in mind? He has just used the same word when stating that the priests work on the Sabbath and are &ldquo;blameless&rdquo;. By condemning the disciples, the Pharisees were thus condemning the priests too. This argument of course supposes that the Lord&rsquo;s secular, spiritually ragtag followers were in fact priests- the priests of the new system He was bringing in. The ultimately guiltless was of course the Lord Himself, and He foresaw their final condemnation of Him, perceiving that in essence it had already happened. For whoever condemns His followers condemns Him, so deeply is He associated with them. But how would the Pharisees have avoided condemning the guiltless disciples by appreciating that God wants mercy and not sacrifice? I suggest that the Lord is again meeting them on their own level: &lsquo;You consider the disciples are guilty. OK, that&rsquo;s not what the Law says, but OK, let&rsquo;s assume they are. But if you simply&nbsp;<em>loved</em>&nbsp;showing mercy as God does, then you would not have condemned them anyway. You would&rsquo;ve overlooked the incident&rsquo;.</p> 3521401288<p>12:8&nbsp;<em>For the Son of man is Lord-</em>&nbsp;Here as elsewhere we see the juxtaposition of the Lord's humanity and His Lordship. His exaltation is precisely because He was human; He has authority to judge us because He was Son of man (Jn. 5:27). The Lordship of Jesus was predicated upon His obedience to death and exaltation (Acts 2:36), and yet Jesus was calmly confident that this would be achieved by Him; to the point that He could reason that He already was &quot;Lord&quot; and thereby able to abrogate the Sabbath and act as the ultimate temple.</p> <p><em>Of the Sabbath-</em>&nbsp;The &ldquo;of&rdquo; is supplied as guesswork by the translators; it could equally be left unsupplied, giving the sense of &ldquo;the Lord the Sabbath&rdquo;; or, &ldquo;Lord&nbsp;<em>on</em>&nbsp;the Sabbath&rdquo;. Mark adds that the Lord went on to teach that God's law was made for man, rather than man being built in such a way as to easily fit in with God's word (Mk. 2:27).</p> 3531401299<p>12:9<em> And he departed from there and- </em>Luke&rsquo;s record adds that this was on another Sabbath- at least the next week.</p> <p><em>Went into their synagogue</em>- The point is that the Lord was&nbsp;<em>outside</em>&nbsp;the synagogue when He declared that the &quot;place&quot; where He was then standing, in or near a cornfield, was holy ground; see on :6. It was &quot;their&quot; synagogue, just as the temple was &quot;the temple of the Jews&quot;, and the feasts of Yahweh had been hijacked to become &quot;the feast of the Jews&quot;.</p> 354140121010<p>12:10&nbsp;<em>Behold</em>- AV. I have suggested that this word is best understood by likening Matthew to a cameraman shooting a movie, who now zooms in on an encounter.</p> <p><em>And saw a man having a withered hand. And they asked him, saying: Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath day?</em>-His right hand, according to Luke. His own strength and ability to act was withered.&nbsp;</p> <p><em>So that they might accuse him</em>- A legal term. They wanted to get Jesus in court over this issue. But there&rsquo;s no evidence they actually did, and there was no recorded mention of Sabbath breaking in His final trial- so well and profoundly did He answer them.</p> 355140121111<p>12:11&nbsp;<em>And he said to them: Which of you, if having only one sheep</em>- A poor man, who had only one sheep- as in the parable Nathan told David. The Lord saw the man with the withered hand as His sheep- His only sheep. Here we have an insight into an old problem: &lsquo;Seeing we are many and Jesus is one, how can it be that He feels so uniquely towards me, when He has so many other people to think about and relate to?&rsquo;. It is possible for God and His Son to have emotional and psychological capabilities which we do not have. The Lord seems to be teaching here that He identifies with the poor, who has only&nbsp;<em>one</em>&nbsp;sheep; but He feels to each of us as if we are all that He has. Likewise in the parable of the woman who lost one of her dowry coins; they were all she had. We are all Jesus has. He has no other group on another planet in another dimension- we here on earth, we with all our dysfunction and poor response to His love, are all He has. And further-&nbsp;<em>you</em>&nbsp;are all He has. The man had been sick for some time, but the Lord saw his situation as if it had only just happened, that Sabbath day, and felt an urgency to respond. The&nbsp;<em>urgency</em>&nbsp;is a key issue- for the issue wasn&rsquo;t healing, it was why Jesus couldn&rsquo;t wait a few hours until the end of the Sabbath to heal. The Mishnah taught that the Sabbath could be broken if life was in immediate danger (m. Yoma 8.6). The Pharisees obviously reasoned that this wasn&rsquo;t the case- a paralyzed hand could wait a few hours for healing. But Jesus was perhaps making the point that to Him, human need is urgent and cannot wait. We must remember His sense of urgency when we struggle with His apparent slowness to respond. The spirit of urgency comes through the Gospel records and also the Acts.</p> <p><em>And it falls into a pit on the Sabbath day</em>- The Law specifically foresaw such a situation, pronouncing judgment against the person responsible for leaving a pit open so that animals might fall into it (Ex. 21:33,34). The Lord's point was that there was not a moment to lose once this happened- there was an urgency to save the animal, and that urgency was far more important than seeking to condemn the person who had breached the law. And this was how the Lord saw that man with a &quot;withered hand&quot;; the need was the call, and to Him there was an urgency about the situation that was far more important than any concern about legalistic obedience to laws- be they real or imagined.</p> <p><em>Will not grab hold of it</em>- This apparently unnecessary detail is included because the same word is used about the Lord's touching or grasping of people before He healed them (Mt. 9:25; Mk. 1:31; 5:41; 9:27). As they would urgently lay hold upon a lost sheep and lift it out of a pit, so the Lord laid hold upon people and healed them. Reflect on how the Lord 'took hold' of people before healing them. This feature of the miracles demonstrated His desire to fully take hold of our human experiences, thereby identifying Himself with us- and on that basis, healing us. The same idea, although a different word, is to be found in the language of Heb. 2:16, speaking of the Lord Jesus taking hold upon humanity by having our nature.</p> <p><em>And lift it out?</em>- The same word is used for people 'rising up' after being healed by the Lord (Mt. 8:15; 9:5,6,25; 10:8; 11:5).&nbsp; Jewish people would&rsquo;ve thought of the rescue of Joseph and Jeremiah from pits. The healing of this man, like so many of the healing miracles, had a spiritual intention- it was in order to save him from the pit of death. We saw on 11:20 that the purpose of the miracles was to lead people to repentance, not simply to alleviate human need for the sake of it.</p> 356140121212<p>12:12&nbsp;<em>How much then is a man of more value than a sheep!-</em>&nbsp;The Lord favourably compares men to animals (to birds, Mt. 6:26; sparrows, Mt. 10:31; and again in Lk. 12:7,24). Whilst in the manner of our death we are as &quot;the beasts of the field&quot;, the Lord seems to be at pains to ensure we realize the value and meaning of the human person, made as we are in God's image. If we treat people as animals, we have failed to perceive something of God which is uniquely in humanity.&nbsp;</p> <p><em>Therefore</em>- Again, the Lord doesn't base His argument around the obvious misunderstanding of the Law which the Pharisees had. He avoids a tit-for-tat expositional battle over semantics by introducing higher principles- the sheer value and need of the human person transcends any issue of legalistic obedience to any law, be it God's laws or the interpretation of them. This is a principle which legalistic churches need to bear in mind to this day in their decision making.</p> <p><em>It is lawful to do good on the Sabbath day</em>- Mark records that He developed this point- if He had&nbsp;<em>not</em>&nbsp;performed the miracle, He would have been actively committing &ldquo;evil&rdquo;, even &lsquo;killing&rsquo;. When the Lord taught that it was right to break the Sabbath because they were in the business of saving life (Mk. 3:4), His words were purposefully alluding to how the Maccabees had pronounced that it was acceptable for Jewish soldiers to break the Sabbath in time of war, in order to save lives through their fighting (1 Macc. 2:32). He intended His people to live as active soldiers on duty, at war in order to save the lives of God&rsquo;s people. Indeed, so frequently, the whole language of the future judgment is applied to us right here and now. We are living out our judgment now; we are standing as it were before the final judgment seat, and receiving our judgment for how we act, speak and feel and are. Thus if He had omitted to heal the man with the withered hand on the Sabbath, this would have been 'doing evil' and even 'killing' (Mk. 3:4). That's how seriously He took omitting to do good when it's in our power to do it. He had a choice of saving life or destroying life, were He to prefer to keep the Sabbath laws above the need for preserving life. Clearly He saw failing to act to save life as tantamount to destroying life. We must give our Lord's words their due weight here in our decision making. To not act to save life, to excuse ourselves for whatever reason, is effectively destroying life, or, as Mark's record puts it, &ldquo;to kill&quot; (Mk. 3:4; Lk. 6:9). We can't therefore be passive in this matter. The context of the Lord's statement was in response to questions about whether something was &quot;lawful&quot; or not; it was the age old question, 'Is it is a sin to do X, Y or Z?'. His answer was as ever in terms of a principle- that our guiding principle must be the saving and healing and preservation of human life. The attitude of the Pharisees was that the Lord was infringing a letter of the law and therefore was guilty of death. They murdered Him on the Sabbath days; and thus they chose to destroy life rather than save it. The word for &ldquo;to kill&quot; in Mk. 3:4 is so often used in the Gospels about the killing of Jesus. They failed to take His exhortation. The crucifixion of God's Son was thus a result of legalism; it was because of His attitude to the man with the withered hand that the Pharisees first plotted to kill Jesus (Lk. 6:11). Whatever our individual conscience, let us not &quot;be filled with madness&quot; as the Pharisees were at the fact the Lord approached human behaviour in terms of principles, rather than reducing everything to a common right / wrong scenario. The principle is clearly the saving and preservation and enriching of others' lives. Surely we should each allow each other to articulate this fundamental issue as we each have occasion to do so.&nbsp;</p> 357140121313<p>12:13&nbsp;<em>Then said he to the man: Stretch out your hand-</em>&nbsp;Matthew uses the same word to describe how the Lord Himself stretched forth&nbsp;<em>His</em>&nbsp;hand in order to heal, save and welcome (Mt. 8:3; 12:49; 14:31). Again we are encouraged to perceive a sense of mutuality between the Lord and His people.&nbsp;</p> <p><em>And he stretched it out and it was restored whole, as the other-</em>&nbsp;This detail is recorded in Matthew, Mark and Luke. It is another touch of the eye witness- the man would've held out both his hands and everyone would've looked from the one to the other, observing they now looked so similar.&nbsp;</p> <p></p> 358140121414<p>12:14&nbsp;<em>But- </em>AV &quot;then&quot;.&nbsp;Here we see the common human feature of doing evil in response to the experience of grace. Even amongst believers, and even at judgment day, there is the possibility of the eye becoming evil because of His goodness and grace to others (Mt. 20:15). We see the principle in both secular and church life. Grace shown to others can elicit the worst evil from religious people. We shouldn't be surprised at this phenomenon; but it is the very surprise at encountering it which causes so many to become disillusioned with the church and ultimately with the Lord.</p> <p><em>The Pharisees went out</em>- Again, an emphasis on physical movement. We imagine Matthew's camera covering their departure from the synagogue.</p> <p><em>And took counsel against him, how they might destroy him</em>- S.w. &quot;a consultation&quot;. Nothing formal is necessarily implied by the word. Perhaps we are to imagine them gathering in a tight circle somewhere outside the synagogue.</p> 359140121515<p>12:15&nbsp;<em>And Jesus perceiving it-</em>&nbsp;Were there sympathizers for Jesus within the Pharisees who told Him this? Or is this another case of Him perceiving the minds of men?</p> <p><em>Withdrew from there; and many followed him and he healed them all</em>- Several times we read of the Lord withdrawing from the public, or at least trying to (Mt. 4:12; 14:13; 15:21; Mk. 3:7; Jn. 6:15). We get the impression that He made public appearances, did some healing and teaching, and then 'withdrew'. The Gospel records focus much on the last week and months of His ministry. The first three years has relatively little recorded- but there is a lot of information about some very long, action packed days. We can assume too easily that these recorded days were typical. But perhaps they were not. There are probably no more than 20 days' events recorded- out of the three and a half years of the Lord's ministry. One possibility is that the rest of the time, or much of it, He spent simply teaching the disciples. If the Lord maintained the same tempo and intensity of His recorded activity throughout the three and a half years, it surely would've been almost impossible to have avoided His being propelled to political power by the masses. This suggestion of limited public activity makes better sense of the note we made on Mt. 11:20, that the majority of His miracles were performed in three small villages in Galilee. That also must provide some context to the comment here that He healed 'all' the multitudes on this occasion; He healed 'all' amongst the crowds who were in need of healing, not every member of the crowd.</p> <p>Mark adds that the Lord withdrew grieving for their hard hearts. The way the Lord didn&rsquo;t just ignore the Jewish leaders, as we might ignore trouble makers at a public meeting or correspondence course students who ask endless questions... this is really quite something. He grieved for the hardness of their hearts (Mk. 3:5), and finally broke down and wept over Jerusalem, in an agony of soul that they would not respond. The apparently foolish catch questions of Mk. 3:21-29 are answered in some depth by the Lord, and He concludes with pointing out that they are putting themselves &ldquo;<em>in danger&nbsp;</em>of eternal damnation&rdquo; (although, notice, not yet condemned). One senses the urgency with which He put it to them. He was angry [i.e. frustrated?], &ldquo;being grieved for the blindness of their hearts&rdquo; (Mk. 3:5). Are we just indifferent or evenly smugly happy that men are so blind&hellip;? Or do we grieve about it to the point of angry frustration? Remember how Moses and Paul would fain have given their eternal life for the conversion of Israel, this is how they felt for them.</p> 360140121616<p>12:16&nbsp;<em>And charged them that they should not make him known</em>- It was predicted of the Lord&rsquo;s preaching that He would not &ldquo;strive, nor cry; neither shall any man hear his voice [raised up in this way] in the streets&rdquo;. And for this reason He asked His converts not to &ldquo;make him known&rdquo; in this way; He wanted them to witness&nbsp;<em>as He witnessed</em>&nbsp;(Mt. 12:16,19). This is quite something, the more we reflect upon it. He rebuked the self-righteous, restored peoples&rsquo; dignity, alleviated their poverty and sicknesses to give them a foretaste of the future blessings of His Kingdom on earth, opposed legalistic and corrupt religious practices, and ultimately gave His life to show that even His enemies were encompassed in His love. This is the pattern for us, especially in our seeking to do these things in the lives of those who respond to the Gospel.</p> <p>But the same words (&ldquo;<em>make Him known</em>&rdquo;) are used about how later, He was made known by the church (Acts 4:16; 1 Jn. 3:10). It could well be that as so often with Semitic languages, we must read in an ellipsis- 'Not make Him known [immediately, right then, at that time]'. The implication could be that they were indeed to make Him known- but later. The great commission, to take the knowledge of Christ to all men everywhere, could then be comfortably read in this context; the commission signalled the end of the relative silence which the Lord called for. In line with our comments on how and why the Lord withdrew Himself from the crowds in the preceding verse (:15), it would seem that the Lord was constantly concerned on a practical level that His ministry would be badly impaired if the masses of Palestine rose up out of His control and made Him King. He wanted above all to teach and personally model the Kingdom, and being at the centre of a political uprising thrusting Him forward would not enable that.&nbsp;<em>Phaneros</em>, &quot;known&quot;, is only elsewhere used in Matthew in the Lord's teaching about what would happen &quot;openly&quot; (s.w.) at the establishment of the Kingdom at the last day (Mt. 6:4,6,18). The Lord didn't want them trying to establish the Kingdom there and then in their own strength, and especially whilst so seriously misunderstanding the nature and essence of the Kingdom- for they still thought it was all about military victory against Rome. So it could be that the idea of 'to make known' may mean far more than 'Don't tell anyone'; it was psychologically impossible to expect that multitudes of people who had seen healings would literally not breathe a word to anyone else. It was obvious that healings had been done- people came home healed. To 'not make known' doesn't have to mean 'Don't tell a word of this to anyone', indeed the Lord's parables and other teachings suggest that such telling of others is an inevitable part of response to Him. I suggest it means more of the flavour of 'Don't declare Me publicly as King'.</p> 361140121717<p>12:17&nbsp;<em>That it might be fulfilled-</em>&nbsp;This is often stated as the reason why the Lord did and said things. He was consciously seeking to be 'the word made flesh' and consciously tried to fulfil the Old Testament prophecies. Despite strong resistance to this idea by some expositors, Harry Whittaker particularly, it seems to me the most natural understanding of the phrase and the force of the word &quot;That...&quot;.&nbsp;</p> <p><em>Which was spoken through Isaiah the prophet, saying</em>- The implication could be that Isaiah publicly spoke these words, directing Israel's attention to a &quot;servant&quot; figure of his own time, who all the same failed to be Messianic as intended, meaning that the prophecy had its fulfilment reapplied in Jesus. Or perhaps it was because the Lord was addressing people who had largely only&nbsp;<em>heard</em>&nbsp;Isaiah being read. Literacy was only a few percent in first century Palestine, and nobody had the Old Testament scrolls at home. Therefore the Lord speaks in terms of Isaiah&nbsp;<em>speaking</em>&nbsp;and&nbsp;<em>saying</em>, rather than writing and us reading.&nbsp;</p> 362140121818<p>12:18<em>&nbsp;Look at My servant whom I have chosen, My beloved in whom My soul is well pleased. I will put My Spirit upon him-&nbsp;</em>The focus was to be upon beholding Jesus personally, and not listening to endless tales of miracles, inevitably exaggerated as they were passed around. If this is the reason for the quotation, then the stress would be upon&nbsp;<em>beholding</em>&nbsp;Him, appreciating Him, rather than seeking to get temporal benefit from His healing miracles.&nbsp;</p> <p><em>And he shall declare judgment to the Gentiles-</em>&nbsp;The Lord didn't want the crowds getting so maxed out on His miracles and other physicalities that they paid no attention to His message; for the purpose of His being amongst men was primarily to &quot;show justice&quot;. And that justice was to be shown to&nbsp;<em>Gentiles</em>- they were to be shown justice and salvation, not slain so that a Kingdom of God open to Jews only could be established upon Gentile corpses. This was the kind of false view of the Kingdom which the Lord didn't hold and didn't want given credibility by associating Himself and His miracles with it. But&nbsp;<em>krisis</em>, translated &quot;justice&quot;, can also mean judgment in the sense of future judgment to come. Yet these same Gentiles who were to be shown (according to that reading) judgment to come, were to be given the opportunity to trust in the Messiah's Name (:21). And justice [s.w.] was to be &quot;cast out&quot; in victory- i.e. victory against judgment. In Christ, mercy was to triumph against judgment, rejoicing against it as if after a bitter contest which was won by mercy (James 2:13). But to appreciate that good news, the Gentiles firstly had to realize what &quot;judgment&quot; really was. These were the things the Lord wanted to teach, but to get the points over, He needed the crowds to not be so hyped up by His miracles and to stop all talk of establishing a political Kingdom at that time.&nbsp;</p> <p>The Lord's showing judgment to the Gentiles and not publicly striving or crying in his preaching (Mt.12:18-21) primarily fulfilled the Kingdom prophecy of Is. 42:1-3. Note how His gentle, low pressure attitude to preaching will be the same in the Kingdom as it was in the first century. In the same way Is. 54:13 concerning the future preaching of the Gospel in the Kingdom is quoted about Christ in Jn. 6:45.</p> <p>As in :21, the purpose of the healing was to show something to the Gentiles. But there were no Gentiles mentioned as being in the audience. Are we to infer that there were some present? More likely, as this whole incident occurred in a Jewish synagogue (:9), the Lord&rsquo;s point was that the unbelieving amongst God&rsquo;s people are no better than Gentiles. The Lord's miracles showed forth God's judgment principles; in them He showed judgment to the Gentiles, and sent forth God's judgments (Mt. 12:18-20 quotes Is. 42:1-3 concerning how the Lord will do this at the events of the second coming).</p> 363140121919<p>12:19<em> He shall not strive, nor cry aloud, neither shall anyone hear his voice in the streets- </em>Is. 42:1,2 concerning Christ's witness to the&nbsp;<em>Gentiles</em>&nbsp;is quoted in Mt. 12:19 regarding His witness to an apostate Israel. Those among God's people who break their covenant with Him, He sees as the world. Israel were to be made like &ldquo;the top of a rock&rdquo; just as Gentile Tyre would be (Ez. 24:7; 26:4). &ldquo;Fill ye up then the measure of your fathers&rdquo;, the Lord said to Israel (Mt. 23:32)- yet He was alluding to how the Gentile Amorites filled up the cup of God&rsquo;s judgments and then had to drink it. Pharaoh's heart was hardened to bring about God's glory, but Paul uses the very same language, in the same context, to describe what was happening to an apostate, Egypt-like Israel (Rom. 9:17). Korah and his company were swallowed by the earth, using the very language which Moses so recently had applied to how the Egyptians were swallowed by the earth at the Red Sea (Ex. 15:12).</p> <p><em>Not strive-</em>&nbsp;This is quoted from the servant song of Is. 42, and the Lord is applying it to all those who follow Him. If&nbsp;<em>He</em>&nbsp;is not to strive or clamour in the streets, then neither are those who follow Him to do so. For all that is true of Him is true of them. Paul makes the same point in stating that &quot;the servant of the Lord must not strive&quot; (2 Tim. 2:24). The &quot;servant&quot; is ultimately the Messianic servant of Isaiah's servant songs, but the point is that all that is true of that Servant is true of all those in Him.</p> <p><em>The streets-&nbsp;</em>The Lord didn&rsquo;t shout out in the streets who He was. He wished His followers to follow His example in&nbsp;<em>showing</em>&nbsp;the message to the world just as He did- in who He was (Mt. 12:18). Christ's instruction to His recent converts not to spread the Gospel in an unseemly way, because it was written about&nbsp;<em>Him personally&nbsp;that</em>&nbsp;&ldquo;he shall not strive nor cry; neither shall any man hear&nbsp;<em>His</em>&nbsp;voice in the streets&quot;. In other words, the true preacher of Christ is solidly identified with Him by the very act of preaching. Truly &quot;we are ambassadors for Christ&quot; (2 Cor. 5:20) in our witnessing. His voice is our voice.</p> 364140122020<p>12:20&nbsp;<em>A bruised reed he shall not break and a smoking wick he shall not quench</em>- The Hebrew words used in Is. 42:3 suggest this is a reference to the candlestick; the words respectively mean a shaft / stem, and a wick. Little strength, little light (if the reference is to the reed which took oil to the lamps of the candlestick), little heat- but all the same, the Lord seeks to fan it into life rather than walk away in disappointment; and by doing so, sets a challenging example to many of us, whose most frequent complaint is the weak state of the brotherhood's members. If the reference is to a damaged and smoky candlestick, this becomes the more poignant- for the candlestick was a clear symbol of Israel and then of the ecclesias (Rev. 1:12,13,20; 2:1).&nbsp;</p> <p>When judgment is finally cast out by mercy at the last day, then the dysfunctional candlestick will be quenched or destroyed in condemnation. Note how the metaphor of quenching a fire is used here for condemnation; but in another metaphor, condemnation is spoken of as the very opposite- unquenchable fire. This is sure proof that we are not to read 'unquenchable fire' as literal.</p> <p><em>Until</em>- The Lord's patience with the useless candlestick of Israel and the weakness of the ecclesia will be &quot;until&quot; His final victory over judgment. That happened in one sense on the cross, but in another sense it will only happen when death is swallowed up in victory at the day of judgment. Until then, both He and us are to patiently bear with the damaged and dysfunctional ecclesial candlestick. But in that day, those elements of the candlestick which refuse to give light to the house will be &quot;broken&quot;, the Greek meaning 'broken in pieces'- the language of condemnation (Mt. 21:44).</p> <p><em>He sends forth judgment to victory-&nbsp;</em>Gk. to cast out, thrust out. See on 12:19&nbsp;<em>show justice</em>. Judgment is cast out&nbsp;<em>eis</em>, &quot;in&quot;, victory.</p> <p></p> 365140122121<p>12:21&nbsp;<em>And in his name shall the Gentiles hope</em>- Mark's record adds what Matthew strangely omits- that the great crowds whom He charged to not &quot;make Him known&quot; included Gentiles (Mk. 3:6-8). This makes sense of why the Lord healed &quot;all&quot; in the crowd (:15)- the sense is not that He healed every person in the crowd, as not all of them were in need of healing; perhaps rather the stress on &quot;all&quot; is to show that the sick Gentiles who were present were&nbsp;<em>also</em>&nbsp;healed. Note that &quot;In His Name shall the Gentiles trust&quot; is a quotation from the LXX of Is. 42:4 and not the Masoretic Text, which reads &quot;The isles shall wait for His law&quot;. The ready acceptance of the LXX by the inspired NT writers, even preferring it over the Hebrew, has many implications. One of them is that the genealogies as found in the LXX do not support the idea of Adam being 4000 years before Christ, which is essential to those who believe that the six day / thousand year periods ended in 2000 AD and the Millennium must now be established.</p> 366140122222<p>12:22&nbsp;<em>Then was brought to him one</em>- The Greek is used about bring an offering. We recall how the conversion of individuals is spoken as offering them as a sacrifice in Rom. 15:16. Bringing people to the Lord is offering them to Him because they are to present themselves, or be presented, as living sacrifices in His service (Rom. 12:1). There may therefore be a connection with the use later in this verse of&nbsp;<em>thereapeuo</em>&nbsp;for &quot;healed&quot;, as this word is also translated &quot;worship&quot; in the sense of Divine worship. The Lord had just cured large numbers of people, but then withdrew from them. Now they find Him again and bring just one sick person for healing. The people were &quot;amazed&quot; (:23) at this one healing- whereas the Lord had healed many sick people in :15. We are left with the impression of how deeply &quot;amazed&quot; the crowds must have been, if there was so much amazement at just one cure, there must have been super amazement at the mass healings.</p> <p><em>Possessed with a demon, blind and dumb, and he healed him, so much so that the dumb man spoke and saw-</em>&nbsp;The Greek strictly means to be exercised or controlled by a demon. This is the language used at the time for explaining medical situations which today we would diagnose differently. Blindness and deafness are explicable in medical terms. The verse states that the Lord 'healed' the man and therefore, because of that healing, the blindness and deafness left him. The language of healing of persons is not what we would expect if the Lord instead engaged in battle with demonic entities in Heaven or at least, outside of the man.</p> 367140122323<p>12:23&nbsp;<em>And all the crowds were amazed, and said</em>- See on 12:22&nbsp;<em>brought</em>. This is a strong word, meaning utterly astonished, and even used about madness (Mk. 3:21; 2 Cor. 5:13).</p> <p><em>Can this be the son of David?-&nbsp;</em>The people made a direct connection between the ability to do miracles and being Messiah. Yet earlier in this commentary I have pointed out that generally the Lord worked with an economy of miracle, and the number of miracles He did appear to have decreased as His ministry progressed. His understanding of Isaiah 42:1-3 just quoted was that Messiah should be 'beheld', be understood and appreciated on a spiritual level, rather than be a miracle worker whipping up mass support because of that. And yet He appreciated the strong connection in peoples' minds between Messiahship and miracles, and He therefore conceded to this by doing miracles.</p> 368140122424<p>12:24&nbsp;<em>But when the Pharisees heard it, they said: This man does not cast out demons but</em>- Their comment appears to have been made in very hot blood, for it was logically contradictory to claim that someone who cast out demons must therefore be in league with the prince of the demons; because their own sons (either literally or in the sense of their disciples) claimed to cast out demons (:27). And if Jesus was actually on the side of the prince of demons, why then was he as it were fighting for the other side by casting out demons. Such gaping error in logic was exactly what the Pharisees were constantly careful to avoid; but their intense jealousy of the Lord led them to make this logical error. Again we note that the Lord's style was not so much to directly state the errors of his opponents, but to work on the assumption that their beliefs were correct- and to then follow those beliefs to their logical conclusions, thus showing how those positions contradicted themselves to the point they could not be true. This is one explanation for the use of the language of demons in the Gospels, even though demons don't in fact exist.</p> <p><em>By Beelzebub-&nbsp;</em>By the instrumentality of Beelzebub. They were driven to assume that the Lord was in league with some higher power in order to perform His miracles. If it wasn't the Holy Spirit of God- it had to be by some other power, and the only option in their theology was some form of the Satan myth. Their logical desperation is a reflection of the undeniable nature of the Lord's miracles (as in Acts 4:16). Any who claim to be able to do miracles through the Holy Spirit should likewise be producing healings which even their most sceptical opponents cannot deny are miracles; but that feature is not seen in many claims of healings today. When accused of being in league with &lsquo;satan&rsquo;, the Lord didn&rsquo;t read them a charge of blasphemy. He reasoned instead that a thief cannot bind a strong man; and likewise He couldn&rsquo;t bind &lsquo;satan&rsquo; unless He were stronger than Satan (cp. Mk. 3:23-27). He doesn&rsquo;t take the tack that &lsquo;Satan / Beelzebub / demons&rsquo; don&rsquo;t exist; He showed instead that He was evidently stronger than any such being or force, to the point that belief in such a concept was meaningless. Faith must rather be in Him alone.<br /> <br /> The Jews accused the Lord of being in league with the prince of the demons, Beelzebub. His comment was that if the family / house of Satan was so divided, then Satan &ldquo;has an end&rdquo; (Mk. 3:26). His approach was &lsquo;OK you believe in demons, Beelzebub etc. Well if that&rsquo;s the case, then according to the extension of your logic, Satan will soon come to an end, will cease existence. That&rsquo;s the bottom line. As it happens, I am indeed &lsquo;binding the strong man&rsquo;, rendering Satan powerless, making him &lsquo;have an end&rsquo;, and so whichever way you look at it, believing in demons or not, the bottom line is that My miracles demonstrate that effectively Satan is powerless and not an item now&rsquo;. The way the New Testament is written reflects the same approach. When the Lord was alone with His disciples, He explained further: &ldquo;If they have called the Master of the House [i.e. Jesus] &lsquo;Beelzebub&rsquo;, how much more shall they call them of his household?&rdquo; [i.e. the disciples] (Mt. 10:25). By saying this, the Lord was clarifying that of course He didn&rsquo;t&nbsp;<em>really&nbsp;</em>mean that He was part of the Satan family, working against Satan to destroy the entire family. Rather was He and His family quite separate from the Satan family. But He didn&rsquo;t make that clarification to the Jewish crowds &ndash; He simply used their idea and reasoned with them on their own terms. Note in passing how the Jews actually thought Jesus was Beelzebub, or Satan. This would be one explanation for their mad passion to kill Him; for those labelled &lsquo;Satan&rsquo; were hunted to their death in such societies, as seen later in the witch hunts of the middle ages. The Jews say Jesus as a false miracle worker, a false Messiah, a bogus Son of God &ndash; all characteristics of their view of &lsquo;Satan&rsquo;. Some centuries later, the Jewish sage Maimonides described Jesus in terms of the antichrist: &ldquo;Daniel had already alluded to him when he presaged the downfall of a wicked one and a heretic among the Jews who would endeavour to destroy the Law, claim prophecy for himself, make pretences to miracles, and allege that he is the Messiah&rdquo; (<em>Maimonides&rsquo; Epistle to Yemen</em>). It&rsquo;s been suggested that the way the Jewish rabbinical writings call Him&nbsp;<em>Yeshu</em>&nbsp;is an acronym for the Hebrew expression&nbsp;<em>yemach shemo vezichro</em>&nbsp;&ndash; &ldquo;May his name and memory be obliterated&rdquo;). This was the very Jewish definition of Satan. They saw Jesus as Satan himself; hence they were so insistent on slaying Him. Yet by the deft twist of Divine providence, it was through the death of Jesus that the&nbsp;<em>real&nbsp;</em>Devil (i.e. the power of sin) was in fact slain (Heb. 2:14). To those with perceptive enough minds to see it, yet once again the Jewish ideas had been turned back upon them to reveal the real nature of the Devil to them, within their own frames of reference and terminology. Likewise Beelzebub means literally &lsquo;the lord of the house&rsquo;; and the Lord Jesus alludes to this in describing Himself as the Master of the House of God.&nbsp;</p> <p>Judaism had taken over the surrounding pagan notion of a personal &lsquo;Satan&rsquo;. And the Lord Jesus and the Gospel writers use this term, but in the way they use it, they redefine it. The parable of the Lord Jesus binding the &ldquo;strong man&rdquo; &ndash; the Devil &ndash; was really to show that the &ldquo;Devil&rdquo; as they understood it was now no more, and his supposed Kingdom now taken over by that of Christ. The last Gospel, John, doesn&rsquo;t use the term in the way the earlier Gospels do. He defines what the earlier writers called &ldquo;the Devil&rdquo; as actual people, such as the Jews or the brothers of Jesus, in their articulation of an adversarial [&lsquo;satanic&rsquo;] position to Jesus.</p> <p><em>The Prince of the demons</em>-&nbsp;<em>Archon</em>, &quot;the first&quot;, would imply that Beelzebub was also a demon, the &quot;first&quot; or leading one. Thus the fallacy of their argument is the more apparent- if Beelzebub really existed, why would he cast out his own fellow demons?</p> 369140122525<p>12:25&nbsp;<em>And knowing their thoughts, he said to them-</em>&nbsp;But they had &quot;said&quot; these things (:24). Perhaps they said these things within their own minds. Or maybe the contrast is to highlight the upcoming teaching that thoughts are as good as words (:34-37). To hear their words was to know their thoughts.</p> <p><em>Every kingdom-</em>&nbsp;Again the Lord accepts their position for one moment as true, and yet takes it forward to its logical implication. If Beelzebub was fighting against his own side, then all the same, Satan's Kingdom was divided against itself and would soon crumble into self-destruction. Therefore what Jesus had done ought to be seen as a presage of Satan's Kingdom ending and, by implication, the soon triumph of God's Kingdom.</p> <p><em>Divided against itself</em>- The Lord Jesus framed His parable about Satan's kingdom rising up and being divided against itself in the very language of the Kingdom of Israel being &quot;divided&quot; against itself by Jeroboam's 'rising up' (1 Kings 12:21; 2 Chron. 13:6)- as if Israel's Kingdom was Satan's kingdom.</p> <p><em>Is brought to desolation-</em>&nbsp;The Lord only uses the Greek word elsewhere with regard to latter day Babylon's destruction as a result of her followers rising up against her (Rev. 17:16; 18:17,19). This typically been how God destroyed Israel's enemies in the Old Testament- by them turning upon themselves. It follows another great Biblical theme- that those who ultimately will be condemned are in practice self-condemned and bring about their own condemnation.&nbsp;</p> <p><em>And every city or house divided against itself shall not stand-</em>&nbsp;The Lord is teaching that the breakup of a Kingdom, even Satan's, must start on the household level and progress higher. Perhaps this is a hint at the growth of&nbsp;<em>God's</em>&nbsp;kingdom beginning with the household conversions and house churches with which Christianity started.</p> 370140122626<p>12:26&nbsp;<em>And if Satan-</em>&nbsp;Mark adds that the Lord spoke all this &quot;in parables&quot; (Mk. 3:23). 'Satan' was a parable and is being used here in a non-literal sense. The Lord reasons with them on their own ground, assuming for a moment that their wrong ideas were true- hence &quot;<em>if</em>&nbsp;Satan...&quot;. The one who cast out Satan / demons was of course Jesus personally. Their false logic and theology had led them to label a good man as Satan just because He did a good work of healing. So quickly, false logic and theology drives jealous people along a path of demonization, negative labelling of others and religious hatred.&nbsp;</p> <p><em>Casts out Satan-</em>&nbsp;But the argument is about casting out of&nbsp;<em>demons</em>&nbsp;(:27). One thing we learn from this use of language is that beliefs about 'Satan', demons and the casting out of demons were very vague and poorly defined. And that is how it is to this day with those who believe in the literal existence of 'Satan' and demons. When pressed for definition and a more connected theology, they flounder.</p> <p><em>He is divided against himself. How then shall his kingdom stand?-&nbsp;</em>Ez. 17:14 uses this language about how Old Testament kingdom of Judah no longer 'stood' because of their disobedience. The true Kingdom of God would 'stand' for ever (Dan. 2:44). The Lord may be hinting that Israel was no longer God's Kingdom and was in fact therefore Satan's kingdom- for the true Kingdom of God would always stand. It is Satan's Kingdom which falls, not God's.</p> 371140122727<p>12:27&nbsp;<em>And if I</em>- Three times in succession the Lord uses the &quot;if... &quot; clause. Logic and consequence of position is therefore significant to Him. If it were not, it would totally not matter what we believed about anything.</p> <p><em>By Beelzebub-&nbsp;</em>2 Kings 1:2 clearly tells us that Beelzebub was a false god of the Philistines. Jesus did not say, &lsquo;Now look, 2 Kings 1:2 says Beelzebub was a false god, so your accusation cannot be true&rsquo;. No, He spoke as if Beelzebub existed, because He was interested in getting His message through to His audience. So in the same way Jesus talked about casting out demons &ndash; He did not keep saying, &lsquo;actually, they do not exist&rsquo;, He just preached the Gospel in the language of the day.</p> <p><em>Cast out demons, by whom do your sons cast them out?</em>- The miracles claimed by the Jews would've compared poorly with the Lord's, rather like the attempts by the Egyptian magicians to imitate the miracles of Moses. The Lord never makes that point directly. He accepts that these people claimed to 'cast out demons' and reasons as if that is true- in order to clinch the greater point, that their whole belief system was deeply flawed. It seems to me that this is one reason why the NT writers go along with the idea of demons- to demonstrate by colossal implication that either they do not exist, or they are utterly powerless.</p> <p><em>Therefore shall they be your judges-</em>&nbsp;Their own sons who had claimed to do miracles would be presented at the day of judgment when their lives were examined. The point would be made that they had condemned Jesus for something which their own sons did, and yet they had not condemned&nbsp;<em>them</em>, and therefore they would be condemned / judged at the hands of their own sons. Likewise the Lord reasoned that the presence of the Queen of Sheba at judgment day would be a condemnation for some in first century Israel (12:42). Judgment day will not be a mere yes / no encounter. Our lives will be laid bare, specific incidents raised and the implications of them discussed, with the persons involved or implicated standing there giving testimony; or at least, this is how it shall be for the rejected. There is a colossal importance to life and living, to justice, to the implications of actions. It&rsquo;s no good just shrugging and hoping for the best, allowing the passage of time to work a kind of pseudo-atonement, whereby we forget the implications of our actions.</p> <p>The fact the Pharisees' children cast out demons condemned the Pharisees. Noah's very example was a condemnation of his world (Heb. 11:7); the very existence of believing Gentiles judges the Jews as condemned (Rom. 2:27); and the very existence of the repentant Ninevites condemned first century Israel (Mt. 12:41). The faithful preaching of the Corinthians would judge an unbeliever (1 Cor. 14:24). Noah's very act of righteousness in building the ark condemned / judged those who saw it and didn't respond (Heb. 11:7). This is why the rejected will be shamed before the accepted; they will bow in shame at their feet (Rev. 3:9; 16:15). Perhaps it is in this sense that &quot;we shall judge angels&quot; (1 Cor. 6:3)- rejected ecclesial elders, cp. the angels of the churches in Rev. 2,3? The point is, men's behaviour and conduct judges others because of the contrast it throws upon them. And this was supremely true of the Lord. No wonder in the naked shame and glory of the cross lay the supreme &quot;judgment of this world&quot;.</p> 372140122828<p>12:28&nbsp;<em>But if I by the Spirit of God-</em>&nbsp;One reason the Lord did miracles was to try to drive people towards a final decision about Him- see :30. Either He did them by the Spirit, and was therefore attested at God's Messiah and providing a true foretaste of the Messianic Kingdom- or, as the Pharisees claimed, the source of power He was clearly tapping into must be from 'the other side', from evil. The population were therefore faced with a deep choice- either He was who He claimed, or He was an agent of Satan. There was no middle position. It was clear that Jesus, a manual worker from Nazareth, had access to some cosmic power on a scale previously unknown in the earth. The Bible clearly teaches that there is no power but of God. And there is only one God. Those teachings alone make redundant any concept of a personal cosmic Satan and demons. If I had faced off against first century Palestinians deeply persuaded of demonic forces, I think I would've gone down the road of arguing that the God of Israel is omnipotent, quoting Is. 45:7 etc. But the Son of God did it differently. He demonstrated beyond doubt, even by his fiercest enemies, that He had access to superhuman power. He was happy to bear with their idea that there were two 'powers' in the cosmos- of good (from Yahweh) and evil (from Satan). But He then argued that seeing He was doing good, He must therefore have access to that good power. He must, therefore, have unique relationship with Yahweh. Those who clung on to their beliefs in Satan and the power of evil were left with no option but to accept that either He was of Satan, or of God. And seeing His works were&nbsp;<em>good</em>&nbsp;(as they grudgingly admit in Jn. 10:33), they really had to accept He was of God. And clearly His power was such that effectively, the supposedly 'evil force' was of no account. The next verse goes on to develop the point- that these miracles were a plundering of the palace of 'Satan', so therefore the power of Jesus was such that He had effectively subdued this being and left 'him' powerless. This was a far more effective path to take than a point blank denial of the existence of any evil power or Satan figure. A comparison of Mt. 12:28 and Lk. 11:20 shows that &ldquo;the finger of God&rdquo; and &ldquo;the spirit of God&rdquo; are parallel - God in action is His spirit.</p> <p><em>Cast out demons, then is the kingdom of God come upon you</em>- The Greek&nbsp;<em>phthano</em>&nbsp;can carry the idea of to anticipate or precede; it is translated &quot;go before&quot; in 1 Thess. 4:15. The Lord's miracles were a foretaste of how the Kingdom of God on earth will be, with no sickness and total healing, spiritually and physically. In the ministry and person of Jesus we see a foretaste of how the Kingdom of God will actually be; and 'the Kingdom' was a title of Christ, so closely was He personally the epitome of that time (Lk. 17:21). If we want to know what the future Kingdom of God on earth will be like- look at the person and actions of Jesus. He was in Himself the proclamation and essence of that Kingdom. The descriptions of a renewed earth in Isaiah focus very much on the physicalities of that time, and at best describe the situation during the initial part of God's Kingdom. But the ultimate spiritual essence of life in eternity is to be found in Jesus as a person.</p> 373140122929<p>12:29&nbsp;<em>Or how can one enter into the house of the strong man and ruin his goods-</em>&nbsp;'Beelzebub' can mean 'Lord of the house'. The 'strong man' is clearly 'Satan' in the parable the Lord is creating here (Mk. 3:23). See on :28&nbsp;<em>by the Spirit</em>. And note the allusions to Samson (Jud. 14:18).&nbsp;The strength of sin, and thereby the extent of the Lord&rsquo;s victory, is brought out by another unreal element in the Lord&rsquo;s picture of &ldquo;a strong man fully armed [guarding] his own court&rdquo; (Lk. 11:21 RV). This householder is fanatic; he wanders around fully armed to protect his own courtyard and his goods, rather than getting servants or guards to do it. The Lord being &ldquo;stronger than he&rdquo; through the cross was therefore indeed strong.&nbsp;</p> <p><em>Except he first bind the strong man?-&nbsp;</em>The binding of the strong man was already in process, for the Lord's miracles were proof that his goods were being spoiled and he was powerless to stop it. But the ultimate binding of the enemy was in the Lord's death- and several times the records of the Lord's passion use the word to describe how He was 'bound'. Surely He was encouraged by the intended paradox- that through His binding, the power of sin was being bound. The binding of the strong man in the parable was done by the death of Christ. One of the spoils we have taken from his house is the fact we don't need to keep the Mosaic Law (Mt. 12:29 = Col. 2:15).</p> <p>The idea of Christ binding satan (the &quot;strong man&quot;), stealing his goods and sharing them with His followers is a picture of His victory on the cross. It is full of allusion to Is. 53:12, which says that on account of the fact that Christ would pour out His soul unto death and bear our sins, &quot;he shall divide the spoil with the strong (Heb: 'those that are bound')&rdquo;. With the same thought in mind, Paul spoke of how through the cross, Christ &quot;<em>spoiled</em>&nbsp;principalities and powers&quot; (Col. 2:15). It may be that this is one of many examples of the New Testament writers thinking in a Hebrew way, despite writing in Greek. &quot;Principalities and powers&quot; is perhaps an intensive plural, referring to the&nbsp;<em>great&nbsp;</em>principality and power, i.e. Satan. The way He 'triumphed over them in himself' (Gk. + AVmg.) would certainly make more sense if they referred to the Biblical devil / satan which was overcome within Christ (cp. the language of Heb. 2:14-18; 1 Pet. 2:24). Eph. 2:15,16 appears to be parallel to Col. 2:15. It speaks of how Christ &quot;abolished in his flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments... for to make&nbsp;<em>in himself</em>&nbsp;of twain one new man, so making peace; and that He might reconcile both unto God in one body by the cross, having slain the enmity thereby&quot;. Col. 2:15 speaks of the Lord on the cross as the victorious champion, killing &quot;principalities and powers&quot; and then triumphing over them by sharing their spoils with his soldiers. Eph. 2:15 speaks of Christ on the cross &quot;slaying the enmity&quot; (the Biblical Devil) and achieving peace and reconciliation for all those within His body. Yet in the immediate context, the Lord is offering an explanation of why His miracles proved He was the Messiah. He hadn't yet died on the cross; but He was doing the works which were possible as a result of the binding of Satan which He would then achieve. This is yet another example of the Lord's confidence that He would overcome, and God going along with Him in this. The Lord's miracles were a physical foretaste of the great spiritual blessings which would be made available as a result of the binding of Satan by Christ's death and resurrection.</p> <p><em>And then he will ruin his house- </em>AV &quot;Spoil his goods<em>&quot;. </em>The same word is used in Mt. 11:12 of how the Kingdom of God is being &quot;taken by force&quot; by those entering into it. The &quot;spoils&quot; of Satan are those things which he has taken away; surely the spoils taken from Satan by Christ refer to the righteousness which our nature takes away from us. Lk. 11:22 adds another detail to the story. The &quot;armour&quot; of Satan which he depends upon is taken away by Christ on the cross, and then Satan is bound, and his spoils shared out. The armour of Satan is the antithesis of the armour of righteousness (Eph. 6:11,13). As the Kingdom of God has a God who dwells in darkness, a Prince, an armour, a Christ, a dominion, a will and spirit, fruits, rewards etc., so does the kingdom of (the personified) Satan. The armour of righteousness is the fruit of the Spirit, the righteous characteristics of the Spirit. The armour of Satan is the fruits of the flesh nature. These have been taken away by Christ, He has bound Satan, and therefore what Satan has robbed us of, the fruits of righteousness, his spoils, can be taken at will by the Lord Jesus. We have shown that Christ was alluding to Is. 53:12, which says that through the cross, Christ divides the spoil with the bound ones, i.e. us. In this lies a paradox. Binding is associated with sin (Ps. 68:6; Is. 61:1; Lam. 1:14; Lk. 13:16). We are bound, in many ways, intrinsically limited by our own natures. Only at the second coming will Satan be bound, i.e. the Lord's personal achievement will be physically shared with the world (Rev. 20:2). Yet we, the bound ones, are given the goods which the Lord personally took away from the bound Satan. Those goods are the righteous attributes which our natures stop us possessing as we should. The dividing of the spoils to us by the victorious Lord (Lk. 11:22; Is. 53:12) recalls how the Lord divided&nbsp;<em>all</em>&nbsp;His goods between His servants (Mt. 25:14), the dividing of&nbsp;<em>all</em>&nbsp;the Father's goods between the sons (representing the good and bad believers, Lk. 15:12).<br /> We have elsewhere shown that these goods refer to the various aspects of the supreme righteousness of Christ which are divided between the body of Christ. The spoils divided to us by the Lord are the various aspects of righteousness which He took for Himself from Satan. The picture of a bound strong man having his house ransacked before his eyes carries with it the idea of suspense, of daring, of doing something absolutely impossible. And so the idea of Christ really taking the righteousness which the Satan of our very natures denies us, and giving these things to us, is almost too much to believe. It is normally the fellow-soldiers who share the spoils (cp. Heb. 7:4). But we didn't even fight; the spoils are divided amongst the bound ones (Is. 53:12 Heb.). Satan in general is still unbound (cp. Rev. 20:2). Christ bound the Satan within Himself personally, and took the spoils of victory for Himself. Col. 2:15 says that Christ &quot;spoiled&quot; as a result of His victory on the cross; and the Greek specifically means 'to completely divest&nbsp;<em>for oneself</em>'. He is being painted as the lone hero who took it all for Himself; of the people there was none with Him in His great battle on the cross (Is. 63:3). And indeed, He was the lone hero. But the point is that He has shared with us the spoils of righteousness which He took for Himself as a result, even though we are not worthy to receive them. Seeing the teaching of the Lord is just outline principle, it is evident that through His death He gained possession of absolute righteousness, and then shared this with us. In the first century, the outward demonstration of this was in the miraculous gifts of the Spirit. &quot;He led captivity captive (more language of the heroic victor), and gave gifts unto men&quot;, the miraculous gifts, in the first century context (Eph. 4:8,11). But what was taken away from Satan was not only power over illness. If this was the main meaning of Satan being bound and his spoils shared with us, then it would follow that the effect of Christ's binding of Satan was only in the first century; for those miraculous gifts of the Spirit are no longer available; illness still triumphs over God's people. The spoils of Satan refer to the righteousness which Satan limits and denies. It is this which has been taken from him, and divided to us all as a result of the cross. The miracles of the first century were a physical reflection of this, just as the rending of the temple veil and resurrection of some dead saints was a physical foretaste of the spiritual possibilities opened up by the Lord's death. There are many references to the spiritual blessings which are even now mediated to us (as the whole body of Christ) on account of the Lord's death; we (as a community) are given peace and &quot;eternal life&quot; (Jn. 14:27; 17:2; 1 Jn. 5:11), knowledge (2 Cor. 4:6), wisdom (Eph. 1:17; James 1:15), peace (2 Thess. 3:16), understanding (1 Cor. 2:12; 2 Tim. 2:7), love in our hearts (Rom. 5:5), grace (Eph. 4:7), comfort (2 Thess. 2:16), righteousness (Rom. 5:16,17), confidence (2 Tim. 1:7), sexual self-restraint (1 Cor. 7:7). All the different aspects of the 100% righteousness of our Lord,&nbsp;<em>all</em>&nbsp;His goods, the spoils He personally took from Satan, are divided up amongst ourselves, some having spiritual possibilities in one area, others in another. As a community we are counted as if we have overcome the world, overcome Satan, as Christ did, although on a human level we are still bound (Jn. 16:33 cp. 1 Jn. 2:13,14; 5:4). Only at the day of judgment will we have overcome all (Rev. 21:7 cp. Lk. 11:22 s.w.), but we are treated as if we have already done so.&nbsp;<br /> <em>Goods-</em>&nbsp;If indeed sickness was caused by Satan's power, then the Lord's miracles were a spoiling of his goods. The language here is clearly parabolic- including the reference to 'Satan'. But the miracles were an invitation to others to come and share in the victory the Lord Jesus had won over the 'strong man'; and this provides the context for the 'gathering' of the next verse.</p> 374140123030<p>12:30&nbsp;<em>He that is not with Me is against Me</em>- The original is memorable- either&nbsp;<em>meta</em>&nbsp;Me, or&nbsp;<em>kata</em>&nbsp;Me. The Lord is speaking here from&nbsp;<em>His</em>&nbsp;perspective. For He Himself observed that Judas 'ate&nbsp;<em>with Me</em>', but lifted up his heel '<em>against</em>&nbsp;Me' (Jn. 13:18). It's simply not so that all those who claim to be with the Lord are therefore with Him and on the same side as we who know we are in truth 'with' Him. He is simply observing an ultimate truth- that finally, there will be (and therefore is not now) any middle position in relation to Him. It's not therefore for us to insist that anyone who claims to be 'with Him' is so merely because they say so. Let His words sink in to you personally: &ldquo;He who is not with me is against me&hellip; he that is not against us is for us&rdquo; (Mt. 12:30; Mk. 9:40). We may think we are not against the Lord&rsquo;s cause, even if we&rsquo;re not as committed to it as we might be; many an unbaptized young person has told me this. But to be &lsquo;not against&rsquo; Jesus means we must be&nbsp;<em>with Him</em>. Nobody can be passively &lsquo;not against&rsquo; Jesus. If we&rsquo;re not whole heartedly with Him, we&rsquo;re against Him. That&rsquo;s how His demanding logic goes. A relationship with Him demands the whole person;&nbsp;<em>you</em>, your very heart and essence.</p> <p><em>And he that does not gather with me scatters-</em>&nbsp;In connection with the gathering of spoil from the strong man's house in :29. There is a tendency to use this verse as a general statement of principle, but the surrounding context is specifically about the Lord's healing miracles being part of the spoil He has plundered from the 'Lord of the house', Beelzebub / Satan. We saw on :28 that people were faced with the choice of accepting the Lord's miracles were performed using either God's power, or Satan's. The whole issue pushed the audience to a crucial choice- of accepting of Jesus as God's special Son, or as Satan. The miracles were proof that the Lord Jesus had bound the power of Satan- the power which people believed was behind illness. If you didn't want to go and gather the spoil, then you were actively scattering it abroad. This hyperbole was used to force all the cautious people who remained undecided to realize that ultimately, there is no such thing as agnosticism. If you are not eagerly gathering the spoil the Lord has now released, then you are actively working against Him.&nbsp;</p> 375140123131<p>12:31&nbsp;<em>Therefore I say to you: Every sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven to men</em>- His simple claim that God can forgive men all sins was radical (see the parallel Mk. 3:28)- for the Rabbis had a whole list of unforgivable sins, like murder, apostasy, contempt for the Law, etc. But the Lord went further. His many words of judgment weren&rsquo;t directed to the murderers and whores and Sabbath breakers; they were instead directed against those who condemned those people, considering themselves righteous. He calls those who appeared so righteous a &lsquo;generation of vipers&rsquo;. The publican, not the Pharisee, finds God&rsquo;s acceptance, according to Jesus. And again, the Lord is making a telling point- because Rabbis held that repentance for publicans was almost impossible, because it was impossible for them to know exactly all the people they&rsquo;d cheated. Very clearly, the Lord&rsquo;s message was radical. He was out to form a holy people from whores and gamblers, no-good boys and conmen. And moreover, He was out to show that what God especially judges and hates are the things that humanity doesn&rsquo;t think twice about: hypocrisy, self-righteousness, judgmentalism, exclusion of others&hellip; See on 10:29.</p> <p><em>But the blasphemy against the Holy Spirit shall not be forgiven</em>- The exposition offered above suggests that people were forced to a choice. Jesus of Nazareth had access to superhuman power, far more than anyone had ever had. Which power was it, within the framework of their dualistic view of the cosmos- of Satan or God? Was He God's supreme agent on earth- or Satan's? There was no middle ground. All had to choose. The miracles were good. Therefore, it was Satan who had been bound. Jesus was therefore of God. To insist He was from Satan was to wilfully refuse to believe the evidence God had placed before them. There was no forgiveness for this choice- whilst it continued. If anyone wanted to repent and accept that Jesus was of God, to gather with Him, to be with Him rather than against Him- then that was always possible. Note that there is no statement that&nbsp;<em>repentance</em>&nbsp;is impossible, rather that&nbsp;<em>forgiveness</em>&nbsp;is impossible whilst a person is in the position of so strongly rejecting Christ as God's Son. For those who did accept Christ as of God rather than of Satan, then &quot;all manner of sin&quot; could be forgiven them, including even at times speaking against Him personally (:32). From one viewpoint, the only way we cannot be saved is to wilfully refuse to participate in the new covenant. The Lord laboured the point that the &quot;unforgivable sin&quot; was to &quot;blaspheme the Holy Spirit&quot; (Mk. 3:28-30; Mt. 12:31-37; Lk. 12:10). But it's been demonstrated that this is a reference to Jewish writings and traditions such as Jubilees 15:33 &quot;where not circumcising one's child is unforgivable, because it is a declaration that one does not belong to the covenant people&quot;.</p> 376140123232<p>12:32&nbsp;<em>And whoever shall speak a word against the Son of Man</em>- See on :31. The sin of stating that Jesus was Satan's agent rather than God's could not be forgiven whilst it continued to be the position of a person- although repentance was always possible. For those who had accepted Jesus as God's unique agent, they can be forgiven all manner of failure (:31), including speaking &quot;a word&quot; against Him. Maybe the Lord foresaw the situations in which persecution could be avoided for an apparently few words calling Him accursed. And He, along with Matthew, wanted to assure those who would do this in the weakness of a moment that in fact they had&nbsp;<em>not</em>&nbsp;blasphemed the Spirit and were not beyond forgiveness. The 'speaking against' is clearly parallel to 'blaspheming'. Blaspheming the name of Jesus was and is required by various anti-Christian regimes such from Judaism through the Roman empire to fundamentalist Islamic states today. Surely the Lord had this in mind. And the encouragement is that this is forgivable. But to decide He is not the Son of God but the embodiment of evil is a situation for which there is no forgiveness because it is wilfully continued in. The Lord has just stated that whoever is not with Him is against Him (:30), but here He foresees a situation when one of those who is ultimately 'with Him' will speak 'against Him'- and yet be forgiven. Because that moment of failure was not the overall position of a man's life. The denials by Peter, replete with curses / blasphemy, would surely be the parade example.</p> <p>The &ldquo;son of man&rdquo; here could refer to Jesus, but it could just as comfortably mean &lsquo;human beings&rsquo;. One angle on this passage is to remember that the Gospels were written as a means of preaching to Jewish people at some point after the Lord&rsquo;s resurrection. The message may be: &lsquo;Whatever sin you committed against Jesus, even to the point of crucifixion, is forgivable. But now the Holy Spirit is witnessing to you through the apostles to repent and accept His forgiveness. If you refuse&nbsp;<em>that</em>, then there will [obviously] be no forgiveness for you&rsquo;. The Lord foresaw the situation as it would be in the lives of his audience, and that explains His language here.</p> <p><em>It shall be forgiven him; but whoever shall speak against the Holy Spirit, it shall not be forgiven him</em>- Whenever we sin, we are judged by the court of Heaven as deserving condemnation. Yet now is our day of opportunity; the verdict really is given, but we can mercifully change it. Consider the implications of the parallel Mk. 3:29: &quot;he that shall blaspheme against the Holy Spirit hath never forgiveness but is in danger of&nbsp;<em>eternal</em>&nbsp;damnation&quot;. Not being&nbsp;<em>ever</em>&nbsp;forgiven is paralleled with having&nbsp;<em>eternal </em>damnation. The implication is that when we sin and are unforgiven, we are condemned. But in this life we can be forgiven, and therefore become uncondemned. Abimelech was &quot;but a dead man&quot; for taking Sarah (Gen. 20:3), as if although he was alive, for that sin he was in God's eyes condemned and dead. But that verdict for that case was changed by his change of the situation.&nbsp;</p> <p><em>Neither in this age, nor in the age to come</em>- This is not suggesting that there is some kind of forgiveness in this world and another kind of forgiveness in the world to come, the Kingdom age. Rather is the simple point being made that the forgiveness granted or not granted now is directly related to &quot;the world to come&quot;. The judgment is as it were ongoing now. The positions we adopt now are those we shall eternally hold.</p> 377140123333<p>12:33&nbsp;<em>Either make</em>- In their interpretation of Jesus they had to see Him as either good or bad, and He urged them to make a choice. The miracles were good fruit- therefore He was good, and working by God's Spirit rather than being an agent of Satan. The fruit of the tree equals the words (as in Prov. 12:14; 13:2); a corrupt man will speak corrupt words. And these will be the basis of his condemnation. By contrast &quot;the fruit of&nbsp;<em>our</em>&nbsp;lips&quot; should be praise (Heb. 13:15). &quot;Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth&quot; (Eph. 4:29) refers to this passage- the corrupt fruit is corrupt words. But the idea is that we bear the fruit<em> now</em>- our words&nbsp;<em>now</em>&nbsp;are our fruit.&nbsp;</p> <p><em>The tree good and its fruit good, or make the tree corrupt-</em>&nbsp;The Lord had taught in the Sermon on the Mount that it was a fundamental principle with Him that true spirituality cannot be hidden; what is within is openly revealed, even in this life. Good fruit means a good tree. His works were the good fruit. The Pharisees were claiming that His fruits, His works, were corrupt, and therefore He was corrupt. The Lord is asking everyone, especially the disciples, to decide one way or the other- either He is a good man doing good works, or an evil man doing evil works. There is no half way position, as He made clear in :30 (&ldquo;He that is not with Me is against Me&rdquo;). They were to &lsquo;make&rsquo; or consider, decide, about Him one way or the other.</p> <p><em>And its fruit corrupt; for the tree is known by its fruit- </em>As so often, the Lord is repeating the principles of His opening manifesto in the Sermon on the Mount (cp. Mt. 7:17,18). The fruit of a man's life reflects who he essentially is; the good fruit of the Lord's miracles was clear proof He was not of Satan but God's Son and supreme agent.&nbsp;</p> 378140123434<p>12:34&nbsp;<em>You offspring of vipers</em>- A clear allusion to the Jews as the seed of the serpent of Gen. 3:15 who would be the ones who would be in conflict with the seed of the woman, the Lord Jesus.</p> <p><em>How can you-</em>&nbsp;Because of the principle that who we are internally is ultimately reflected by our external actions and words (:33), it was impossible that their 'good words' could be sincere because the other fruit of their lives showed they were rotten within. &quot;How can you...&quot;&nbsp; doesn't mean that they could not change. It means that given their present internal condition, they could never speak good things. The 'good word' which the context has in view is the confession that Jesus of Nazareth is God's Son; the evil word was that He was Satan's agent. This wrong judgment of Jesus' identity was because of their evil heart. Their doctrinal mistake was a reflection of their internal fleshly thinking. The Lord said that the Jews were evil, and therefore good things could not come from them (Mt. 12:34; 7:17-20). And yet He also said, presumably with the same audience in mind, that although they were evil, they potentially knew how to give good things, e.g. to their children; and therefore how much could God give them good things if they repented (Mt. 7:11).</p> <p><em>Being evil speak good things-</em>&nbsp;This may be an intensive plural, 'the good thing'. The good thing to be spoken was the confession that Jesus was Son of God. John's Gospel emphasizes this, and Rom. 10:9,10 suggests that a verbal confession of Jesus as Lord was required in the conversion process: &quot;if you shall confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and shall believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you shall be saved. For with the heart man believes to righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made to salvation&quot;. This confession was likely made at baptism, as in the case of the Ethiopian eunuch. We must ever remember that Matthew's gospel is the transcript of his preaching of the Gospel; it was a missionary document, intended to bring forth the confession that Jesus is Lord and Son of God. This is not to say that the Lord's teaching here does not establish basic principles regarding the connection between thought and speech. It does. But the specific context is of confessing that He is Lord rather than of Satan.&nbsp;</p> <p><em>For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks-</em>&nbsp;Gk. 'that which remains'. The idea may be that a certain amount of human thought is taken up with basic human functioning, but that which remains over and above that, the part of our thinking which we can consciously control, is what must be controlled- for it is that part of our thinking which controls the words and actions which are the fruit on the tree of a man's life (:33).</p> 379140123535<p>12:35&nbsp;<em>The good man</em>- The good man is as the good tree. His good fruit or works is because of a good mind within- and vice versa. The Lord as always took the issue to its deepest essence- which was within the deepest heart. He was the ultimate &ldquo;good man&rdquo; and good tree. His good works came forth from deep within Him, they were a reflection of His mind.</p> <p><em>Out of his good treasure brings forth good things-</em>&nbsp;The heart is our wealth. This is the real gold and silver, the core value of a man's life- what we are thinking about. Spiritual mindedness is the essence of Christianity.</p> <p><em>And the evil man out of his evil treasure brings forth</em>- The Lord uses the same word to speak of &quot;this evil (AV &quot;wicked&quot;) generation&quot; in :45. The problem with Jewish society as a whole was how they thought. This is the Biblical emphasis- sin comes from our thinking, and not because society is controlled by a personal cosmic 'satan' figure.</p> <p><em>Evil things</em>- The words of blasphemy accusing Jesus of being Satan's agent.</p> 380140123636<p>12:36&nbsp;<em>And I say to you, that every idle word that men shall speak-</em>&nbsp;Gk. lazy, unproductive. At first blush, this seems a strange word to use in the context of explaining that the words of blasphemy the Jews had uttered would be judged at the last day. We expect a word to be used which carries the sense of blasphemy or proactive aggression. Instead, the Lord uses this word for &quot;idle&quot;. His point was that what is ultimately wrong with blasphemy is what is wrong with all unspiritual language- it is not creative, not productive, it is a waste of potential resource. We marvel at His insight. Words can be powerful and creative, but we will answer for those which are not. The connection between Rom. 14:12 and Mt. 12:36 suggests that Paul recognized that we all speak idle words which we will have to give account of at judgment. Therefore, because of our rampant tongue, we will stand in deep need of grace. So therefore, Paul says, you'd&nbsp;better be soft on your brother now, in this life. Every word will be judged (Mt. 12:36), and in some cases by words we will justified and by our speech we will be condemned. So we must speak as those who will be judged for what we speak (James 2:12). The man who&nbsp;<em>says&nbsp;</em>to his brother 'Raca' or 'You fool' is in real danger of hell fire (Mt. 5:22). The tongue has the power to cast a man into hell fire (James 3:5,6)- some may be condemned for what they have said, perhaps connecting with how the beast is thrown into the fire of destruction because of his words (Dan. 7:11,12). Thus there is a link between the judgment of the unworthy and that of the world. The process of condemnation will remind the wicked of all their hard words and hard deeds (Jude 15). Yet now, we can speak words all too easily. Yet we talk and speak as those whose words will be taken into account at the last day. This little selection of passages is powerful- or ought to be. There is reason to think that specific record is kept of incidents, and in some form there will be a 'going through' of them. Thus when self-righteous Jews told their brethren &quot;Stand by yourself, come not near me, for I am holier than you&quot;, God comments that &quot;This is written before Me... I will recompense&quot; (Is. 65:5,6).</p> <p><em>They shall give account of it in the day of judgment-</em>&nbsp;For every idle&nbsp;<em>rhema</em>&nbsp;[&quot;word&quot;], men shall give a&nbs