CHAPTER V (CONTINUE)
The Middle Galilean Period (Continue)
J. Warnings: Matt. 7:15-27. The Sermon ends with a two-fold warning. The first is against false prophets, and the second against a poor foundation. No doubt in the coming Tribulation period there will be a rash of false prophets as indicated in Matt. 24:21-24, but even now they are increasing in number. Just because a man preaches about Jesus and claims to work miracles in the name of Jesus does not mean he is a true prophet.
Jesus said: “Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out demons? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.” In the light of these words, one should employ great discernment when viewing the growing charismatic movement. It is altogether possible that this movement is preparing the religious world for the host of false prophets who will arise after the Rapture of the Church to work their deceiving miracles as predicted by Jesus.
The other warning is the parable of the two houses, or more accurately, the two foundations. Regardless of the workmanship in the houses, their ability to stand the test depends not upon the beauty of their furnishings, but upon their foundations. The lives of some unconverted men may appear to be more noble, philanthropic, gentle, industrious than that of some Christians, but the one will be swept away in the flood of God’s judgment and the other will stand. Luke’s account adds that the wise man dug deep and laid his foundation upon the rock, and Paul tells us that other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Christ Jesus (1 Cor. 3:11). Jesus was speaking about the importance and the character of the foundation. Paul starts with the only true foundation and speaks of the importance and character of the building. The Christian’s life and ministry is the building. Paul laid the foundation for this dispensation as a wise master- builder, and we are to take heed how we build. We may build with wood, hay, and stubble, or with gold, silver, and precious stones. God’s fire will test the building and all that is worthless will be burned away. The building is not the person. The building may be destroyed, but the person will be saved, because man is not saved by his building but by faith.
4. Healing of the Centurion’s Servant References: Matt. 8:5-13; Lk. 7:1-10
A comparison of Matthew’s and Luke’s account of this incident is most enlightening. If we had only Matthew’s account, we would suppose that the Centurion came personally to Jesus, but when we read. Luke, we understand that certain of the Jews acted as intermediaries. The centurion did not consider himself worthy to have Jesus come under his roof, and apparently, he didn’t feel worthy to even speak to Him personally. Or perhaps he had enough discernment to know that Jesus ministered only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. This incident is one of the two recorded cases where Jesus ministered to a Gentile while He was on earth.
We think of Roman soldiers as hard, cruel, unconscionable men. But this man was different. To begin with, Luke tells us that this critically ill servant was “dear unto him.” He loved this servant enough to go to the trouble of getting a delegation of Jews to go to Jesus to intercede for him. The second and almost unbelievable thing about this centurion was that he also loved the nation of Israel and had demonstrated his love by building a synagogue for the Jews. This Roman is a foreshadowing of Gentile salvation to the children of the tribulation saints in the Millennial Kingdom. God had promised Abraham long ago that He would bless those who blessed Abraham’s seed and curse those who cursed his seed. One cannot help but wonder whether there was any connection between this centurion and centurion Cornelius in Acts 10.
Jesus went with this delegation of Jews and when they were not far from the house, the centurion probably saw them coming and sent some friends to tell Jesus not to go to the trouble of coming to his house. All He needed to do was to speak the word and his servant would be healed. When Jesus heard this, He said to all those about Him, “I have not found so great faith, no, not in Israel.” The friends upon returning to the house found the servant healed. One cannot help but wonder whether the centurion ever met Jesus face to face.
5. Raising of the Widow’s Son at Nain Reference: Lk. 7:11-17
This miracle is recorded only by Luke. Nain is located about 16 miles S.W. of Capernaum and about five miles S.E. of Nazareth where Jesus grew up. As He and His disciples and the crowd that was following Him approached the gate of the city, a funeral procession was passing through the gate. It was that of a widow’s only son, and when Jesus saw the situation, He had compassion on the woman. He stopped the procession and commanded the dead man to arise. And the dead man sat up and began speaking and Jesus restored him to his mother. One commentator feels that the compassion of Jesus is proof of His true humanity, and surely His command “to arise” manifested His Deity. The people all feared and said, “A great prophet has arisen among us.” He was a great Prophet, as Moses had predicted, but apparently that was all the people saw in Him. They did not recognize Him as the Son of God and the Savior from sin.
6. John in Prison Sends Disciples to Question Jesus References: Matt. 11:2-30; Lk. 7:18-35; 10:21, 22; cf. Lk. 16:16
We learned earlier that Jesus left Judea when He heard that John the Baptist had been thrown into prison. The reason for his imprisonment is given in Matt. 14:3-5; Mk. 6:17,18; Lk. 3:19,20. We do not know whether it was John personally or his disciples who had doubts about Jesus. Something seemed to be going amiss if Jesus was the promised deliverer and His forerunner was languishing in prison. When they asked Jesus if He was the One who was to come or should they look for another, He did not answer them directly but told them to go back and tell John what they had seen, that is, the various kinds of miracles being done. Miracles are not necessarily a divine accreditation, for Satan can work miracles also. But John would know the Scriptures and he would know that Isaiah had stated specific works which would identify the Messiah. These were the very works they beheld Jesus doing. See. Isa. 29:18; 35:4-6; 60:1-3.
After John’s disciples had departed Jesus began to question the people about John. What kind of a man was he? He was not a men-pleaser, a reed shaken with the wind. Neither was he a self-indulgent person living in worldly pleasure. He was a prophet the other prophets had predicted should come, (Mal. 3:1) to prepare the way for the Messiah. There was no one greater than John, according to Jesus, but interestingly enough, he that is least (or lesser) in the Kingdom of heaven is greater than John. Jesus did not mean that the lesser one in the Kingdom was personally or morally better than John, but that John belonged to a dispensation that was inferior to the new Kingdom dispensation which was now at hand. The Old Covenant dispensation contained promises of the new, but John died before experiencing the new. Note the contrasts between the old and the new in Jer. 31:31-35 and 2 Cor. 3:6-16. The spiritual benefits of the New Covenant sealed with the blood of Christ are shared both by the Church in this present dispensation and Israel in the coming Kingdom dispensation (Rom. 15:27).
Jesus continued speaking about John: “From the days of John till Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffereth violence, and the violent take it by force.” There is a similar statement made on a different occasion in Lk. 16:16: “The law and the prophets were until John: since that time the kingdom of God is preached, and every man presseth into it.” The word “presseth into” is the same Greek word translated “suffereth violence” in Matthew. Translators and commentators differ widely in their interpretation of these passages; mainly over the word violent, whether it refers to violent opposition to John and Jesus, or to the eager, enthusiastic thronging of the multitudes to get in on the blessings of this new dispensation. Interpreting the statement in the light of the immediate context it appears that Jesus is contrasting the period before John with the then present period. The law and the prophets were until John. The Kingdom of heaven was as yet only a promise. Now it is here, close at hand. It is being preached and multitudes are flocking to hear about it. The great multitudes who thronged Jesus are mentioned over 80 times in the Gospels. They would even have taken Him by force to make Him king (John 6:15, where “force” is the same Greek word translated “force” in Matt. 11:12). This does not mean that all of these multitudes became saved individuals, for many were like the “stony soil in the parable of the Sower” (Matt. 13:20,21): “the same is he that heareth the word, and immediately with joy receiveth it, yet hath he not root in himself, but dureth for a while, for when tribulation or persecution ariseth because of the word, immediately he is offended.” The multitudes were outwardly pressing into the Kingdom for the physical blessings which were being offered in the form of miraculous healings and supply of food, even though later on some of them would cry out: “Away with Him, crucify Him.”
There is yet another point that needs clarification about the words: “The law and the prophets were until John.” There are certain of the Baptist persuasion who teach that the new dispensation in which we now live began with John the Baptist; that he was the first Christian and the founder of the Baptist Church. If John was the first Christian and the founder of the Church, it is strange that the lesser one in the new arrangement is greater than John. But more importantly, Christ was not contrasting the law and the prophets with the Body of Christ Church of this dispensation, but with the Messianic Kingdom which will be set up on this earth at Christ’s second coming. Everything about John the Baptist and the Kingdom was predicted by the prophets of old, but none of the prophets predicted anything about the Body of Christ, for it was at that time a secret hidden in God Himself.
There was a big “IF” in the ministry of Jesus, and it is here expressed in Matt. 11: 14: “And if ye are willing to receive it, this is Elijah which is to come.” The establishment of the Kingdom was contingent upon lsrael’s receiving of it. Had they received it, John the Baptist would have been the Elijah who was to come, but Israel did not accept John or Jesus and the Kingdom economy was set aside.
Jesus seemed to be at a loss for words to describe the generation in which He lived, and we might say that the character of succeeding generations has not changed. He asked, “Whereunto shall I liken this generation?” He then gives the similitude or parable of the children in the marketplace playing games of weddings and funerals. Children were accustomed to putting on skits in the marketplace and were disappointed when people did not dance or lament in response to their plays. So John came preaching repentance and the people did not lament, and Jesus came preaching the abundant life and the people did not dance. They accused John of being demon possessed and Christ of being a glutton and a winebibber, a friend of publicans and sinners. But Jesus said, “Wisdom is justified of or by her children,” which is usually understood to mean that God’s wisdom is justified or proved right by its results. Christ is the wisdom of God personified (1 Cor. 1:24) and those who believed in Him were the children of wisdom. They repented at John’s preaching and understood the mercy and grace of Jesus in eating and drinking with publicans and sinners.
The cities around the Sea of Galilee were the most privileged cities of the world, Chorazin, Bethsaida and Capernaum where Jesus made His headquarters and where so many of His mighty works were done. And yet they rejected the Light and nothing but judgment awaits them. Here we see the foreknowledge of the Lord Jesus, one of His divine attributes. He knew that the cities of Tyre and Sidon and Sodom would have repented if the same mighty words had been done in them. Therefore, it will be more tolerable for them in the day of judgment than for the cities in which Jesus ministered.
Jesus then turned away from this scene of rejection and judgment and turned to His Father in heaven thanking Him that He had hidden these truths from the wise and the prudent and had revealed them unto babes, for so it seemed good or was well pleasing in His sight. The wiseacres of this world are foolishness with God. Paul states: “For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of the thing preached to save them that believe,” (1 Cor. 1:21). Jesus did not thank the Father in the usual sense of that word. He confessed or acknowledged the fact, for that is what the Greek word means. The word “babes” in this context does not mean actual infants but those who are humble and lowly in their attitude to God. When the Son came into the world the Father delivered all things to the Son and no one fully knows the Son but the Father, and no one fully knows the Father but the Son and the one to whomsoever the Son wills to reveal Him. There are a number of different words for knowing in the N.T. Here it means full or complete knowledge. It also bears the sense of relationship, as when it is stated that Joseph did not know Mary until she had brought forth her firstborn child (Matt. 1:25), or when Jesus professes, “I never knew you” (Matt. 7:23). The unsaved man knows about God, but he doesn’t know God; he has never come into a saving relationship with Him. He can know about God as revealed in nature, but he can never come into a living relationship with God by any natural means. This knowledge of God does not come by education but by revelation. The Spirit of God must reveal God to us for us to know Him in this relationship.
Jesus concludes this section with the invitation for all who labor and are heavy laden to come to Him for rest. The invitation to come is made to both sinner and saint. After coming to Him we are told to take His yoke upon us. A yoke is not made for one animal or person, but for two. It is that which couples two together to pull a load. We thus become yokefellows with Christ Himself. Yokefellows must have the same objectives and must pull in the same direction. When yoked with Christ the burdens and work of the ministry” become easy and light.
7. Jesus Anointed in the House of Simon the Pharisee Reference: Lk. 7:36-50
This story involves a parable of grace. We have pointed out before that Luke in his association with Paul must have imbibed the spirit of grace from this apostle of grace, for whereas the word grace does not even appear once in Matthew or Mark, it appears eight times in Luke, and the verb for showing grace appears three times more in this present incident.
Simon apparently wanted to learn more about this Rabbi who was creating such a stir, so he invited him to dinner. There was a woman also, who is simply described as a sinner, who had heard that Jesus was dining with Simon and she took advantage of the situation to meet Jesus. She came with a gift, an alabaster box of ointment. Apparently, she had listened to the teaching of Jesus, had been convicted of her sin and had repented of it, and brought this gift to show her gratitude. It is difficult for us to visualize this scene since we eat sitting up with our feet under the table. The orientals reclined on couches around the table and theft feet were thus extended to one side. It was the servant’s duty to wash and anoint the feet of guests, as seen from the story of Abigail (1 Sam 25:41). Thus, this woman took her place as a servant of the Lord. Instead of water, she washed His feet with her tears, tears which manifested a true sorrow for her past sinfulness, and then anointed His feet with the perfume.
While all of this was going on Simon sat back trying to figure out what kind of a Rabbi this was. Surely if Jesus was a prophet, He would have known that this woman was a common sinner and would never had let her touch Him. Jesus, being a prophet, not only knew what kind of woman this was, He also knew what was going through Simon’s mind. So, He related a little parable to Simon which was designed to make Simon himself pass judgment upon himself. It is one thing for a teacher to tell others of their sins; it is another thing to have the person tell himself he is a sinner, and this is what Jesus forced Simon to do, although he did it unwittingly.
A certain creditor had two debtors. One owed 500 pence and the other 50. Neither of them had a penny to his name, so the creditor frankly forgave them both. “Frankly forgave” is literally: “engraced them,” did something for them they did not deserve. “Now Simon, which one will love him most?” Simon answered, “I suppose that he, to whom he forgave most?” And Jesus agreed: “Thou hast rightly judged.” Then Jesus turned to the woman and began telling Simon that she had performed all of the social amenities toward Him that Simon had failed to do. Then He said concerning the woman, “Her sins which were many are forgiven; for she loved much: but to whom little is forgiven, the same loveth little.” And He said to her, “Thy sins are forgiven.”
Probably if Simon ever came to the place of admitting he was a sinner at all, and was the one who owed but fifty pence and unable to pay one penny, he would have been further convicted of his sin of self-righteousness, hypocrisy, and lovelessness and would have seen himself as sinful as the woman. This parable is, to our way of thinking, one of the clearest presentations of salvation by grace. If there is such a thing as big and little sinners, this story puts them all in the same fix; they are all morally and spiritually bankrupt. They can’t do one little thing to pay their debt of sin. And while they are in this hopeless condition, the Lord freely engraces them and cancels their debt, taking the loss upon Himself. Simon answered correctly. If he stuck by his answer he had to admit that he had very little love either for God or his fellow man. John says: “If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen?” (1 John 4:20).
(Main Source: Understanding The Gospels – A Different Approach – Charles F. Baker)
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