Luke 10

Luke 10:1-12. (To V. 37)149 251

The mission of the Seventy 252 is peculiar to Luke. It has in itself a character of grace about it, though really on its rejection the harbinger of imminent judgment to Israel. All things are now made manifest since the transfiguration of the Lord. The former mission preceded that great event and is given elsewhere; but Luke adds the mission of the seventy. His death, His suffering, His rejection have all been fully announced, and accordingly His departure from the world because of the inability of Israel or even of the disciples to profit by His presence in Israel, and then judgment of all the forms of human nature in hindering the following of Christ or His service. That we have had. Now as concluding the testimony to Israel, this new mission is sent out to announce not only before the revelation of His rejection, but since it, the kingdom of God.

Mark 6:7; Matt. 9: 37f.

“After these things the Lord appointed seventy150 others also, and sent them two and two253 before his face into every city and place where he himself was about to come.”254 The Lord’s heart felt for the people as He said, “The harvest indeed255 [is] great, but the workmen few.” Now there are more labourers raised up by far as the pressure of the need was before His soul. “Supplicate therefore the Lord of the harvest.” Nevertheless He was encouraging prayer, because before He tells them to pray He is Himself appointing these seventy to go forth. He was the Lord of the harvest. At the same time He warns them what they were to expect. “Go: behold, I151 send you forth as lambs among wolves.” He well knew, and they were to know, what man was, even in Israel. Flesh was completely judged. The Jews are no, longer regarded as the lost sheep of Israel, but as wolves with themselves to prey on as lambs.

But there is another thing. While they were thus sent forth in a spirit of grace, exposed to the evil of man, they were to go with the full consciousness of His glory. “Carry neither purse [pouch] nor wallet, nor shoes, and salute no one on the Way.” (Matt. 10:9ff; Mark 6:8ff.)216 The danger was imminent, the duty was urgent. There was no need of preparation and resources from without; they were entitled to count on the power of His name providing for them in Israel; for He was the King, let men reject as they might. So, on the other hand, there was no time for salutation. Such courtesy is all very well for. the earth and for the present time; but eternity was coming more and more distinctly before the minds of the servants as it was fully before the Lord. “Salute no one on the way.” Deeper interests were at stake, and everything that would occupy their minds with that which might be dispensed with was only a hindrance.

“And into whatsoever house ye enter, first say, Peace to this house.” Thus there was the full word of grace sent forth to them. At the same time, so much the worse for those who rejected it. Nevertheless the peace should turn to them again. It was not war; they had nothing to do with that. “If 152 a son of peace 257 be there, your peace shall rest upon it: but if not, it shall turn to you again.” Peace rejected was returned to themselves. “And in the same house abide, eating and drinking such things as they give: for the labourer is worthy of his hire.”258 There was to be no covetousness, no self-seeking; but, casting themselves upon their allegiance of heart to the Messiah, they were to take such things as were given. While the Messiah acknowledges the worthiness of the labourer, the labourer is worthy of his hire. Those who were of Him would feel it and own it. They were not to go from house to house. This would be derogatory to His glory because it might be charged with a seeming indulgence of self-seeking. The grand point was the solemn claim of the Lord Jesus in Israel.

“And into whatsoever city ye may enter, and they receive you, eat what is set before you:259 and heal the sick in it, and say unto them, The kingdom of God is come nigh unto you.” There was no want of power, but the word was, “The kingdom of God is come nigh unto you.” This they were to say to them. It was not a question of miraculous exhibition to strike the mind or eye, or anything for present life merely, but “the kingdom of God is come nigh unto you.” “But into whatsoever city ye may have entered,153 and they do not receive you, go out into its streets and say, Even the dust of your city, which cleaveth260 to us on the feet154 we shake off against you.” Thus the rejection of this mission would be most serious, and the very measure of grace out of which it springs would make unbelief the more perilous, and the judgment of it more peremptory. “Even the dust of your city, which cleaveth to us on the feet we shake off against you: but know this, that the kingdom of God is come nigh.”155 It would not alter the truth. They might reject, but the kingdom of God had come nigh unto them.

Luke 10:12-16.

Matt. 11:21-23.

“I say156 unto you, that it shall be more tolerable for Sodom in that day than for that city. Woe unto thee, Chorazin! woe unto thee, Bethsaida! for if the works of power which have taken place in you had taken place in Tyre and Sidon, they had long ago repented, sitting in sackcloth and ashes. But it shall be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon in the judgment than for you. And thou, Capernaum, which hast been raised up to heaven, shalt be brought down157 even to Hades.” This is a solemn principle much too easily and too often forgotten. People are apt to pity the heathen and to think of distant lands; but while it is well for those who are thoroughly rejoicing in the Lord to feel for those who want Him, there cannot be a greater delusion than to suppose that when the judgment comes, men as such will be better off, e.g., in England than they are in Tartary. No doubt, wherever there is faith in a rejected Christ, it will bring into heavenly glory; but the rejection of Christ when He was on earth, or now that He is in heaven, is fatal. More particularly the rejection of a heavenly Christ is ruinous; even then the Lord could say, “It shall be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon at the judgment than for you.” Not that Israel was not privileged; but privileges despised or misused bring only a deeper perdition upon those who reject or pervert them.

Therefore it is that these cities rise up before the Lord. It was bad enough for the cities Chorazin and Bethsaida inasmuch as there had been mighty works done in them and they had not listened, and the Lord said, “If the works of power which have taken place in you had taken place in Tyre and Sidon, they had long ago repented, sitting in sackcloth and ashes.” Israel were more guilty than the heathen, and the Israel of Christ’s day peculiarly so. No heathen had ever listened to such a testimony. To refuse the Word of God is to expose to the judgment of God. “It shall be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon in the judgment than for you.” And if there was one city that had even greater advantages than these, it was Capernaum, which is called His own city, (Matt. 9:1) where He was pleased to live and labour. And what as to it? “And thou, Capernaum, which hast been raised up to heaven, shalt be brought down even to Hades” — a still more awful judgment.

But it would not be a light thing now for those who rejected the disciples any more than for those who rejected Himself. He adds, “I say unto you, that it shall be more tolerable for Sodom in that day than for that city.” Mark, not merely for Tyre and Sidon, but for Sodom. The Lord clothes the words of His disciples with a more awful judgment than His own, because the disciples were more liable to be despised than their Master. Men might take advantage of His disciples and say that they were only men of like passions with themselves, and had their faults, and so they had. But the question was, What was their testimony — their mission? and from whom? What were the blessings held out and what the penalties with which God menaced those who scorned them? They testified of God’s kingdom at hand. There was nothing really that had ever been presented to man to compare with this Others as prophets had borne witness of it, but avowedly from a distance; but now that it was at hand, to despise those who preached it would be to despise Jesus and God Himself, as to listen to them would be a true way of honouring Jesus.

“He that hears you hears me; and he that rejects you rejects me; and he that rejects me rejects him that sent me.” It was contempt of God Himself, and this in all the painstaking of grace and loving desire that His people should possess the truth. It is still worse now where mankind refuse the Gospel, because its message is the revelation, not only of the kingdom, but of the grace of God that brings salvation. To put it away from the soul is to insult God in the depth of His love, and knowingly to reject His mercy for eternity. For now it is a question of heaven and hell of eternity with God or away from Him. All depends upon receiving Christ, and the testimony that He sends. The principle of this was begun now in the mission of the disciples, although literally it was addressed to Israel in view of the kingdom. Still deeper things begin to manifest themselves; and whether it be then or now, to reject His testimony, by whomsoever it may be brought, is to reject himself and God.261

Luke 10:17-20.

The seventy158 came back, when their mission was ended and their testimony given, saying, “Lord, even the demons are subject to us through thy name.” This was a great witness to Messiah’s power. Men in Israel always looked, and of course especially the faithful, for the manifestation of Divine power through Messiah over Satan in the world. It was not so much God as such to act directly, as through man in Israel, the Seed of the woman, the Son of David. And now what a sign and a seal was given, seeing that not only did He cast out demons, but they, His servants, through His name, did the same! Nevertheless, the Lord marked this the more to be a conclusory mission to the people and land, and that His Messianic glory, the object of promise, however true, was in no way the great truth that was beginning to unfold itself. Heavenly things were about to come in through His rejection and death. “And he said to them, I beheld 262 Satan as lightning262a fall 262b out of heaven.” It was quite true. The exaltation of Satan through man’s fall was gone, as it were, before His eyes, and the Lord had the full vista of God’s counsel in sight, the total destruction of the enemy’s power. “I beheld Satan as lightning fall out of heaven.” But while this was true to the Lord’s vision who sees things that are not as though they were, suggested by His disciples’ casting demons out of men, there were things even better than these, though He fully owned what there was then. “Behold, I give159 unto you the power of treading upon serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy; and nothing shall in any wise injure you.” He openly confirms what He had given. There was thus authority to trample upon the well-known symbols of Satan’s craft and torment for man, and over all the power of the enemy, whatever it might be. They were delivered from all calculated to injure; “nothing shall in any wise injure you.” They belonged to the Saviour. “Yet in this rejoice not, that the spirits are subjected to you; but rejoice rather160 that your names are written in the heavens.” To belong to heaven, to be called to that seat of Divine light and blessing, was a far greater prize: the rest was Satan’s power broken on the earth, a sample of the earthly kingdom, and the powers of the age to come. But a rejected Christ opens the door into the presence and glory of God. This was a matter of far more real and profound joy — that their names were written in heaven. To this the Jews were utterly blind, as man is still; for his cool assumption of heaven, as if it were a natural end for man, is even more evil and presumptuous. Present power and authority are great in his eyes; heavenly things are little, because they are distant and unseen. Nevertheless they are nigh to faith which beholds them, knowing that they are the great reality, and that present things are only the arena of sin and folly and distance from God. But the disciples must learn this; therefore the Lord would lead their hearts into this deeper joy: “but rejoice that your names are written in the heavens.”263

Luke 10:21.

Matt. 11:25-26.

“In the same hour Jesus 161 rejoiced in spirit162 and said, I praise thee, Father, Lord of the heaven and of the earth, that thou hast hid these things from wise and prudent, and hast revealed them to babes: yea, Father; for thus hath it been well-pleasing in thy sight.” Now in a legal state of things the wise and prudent have their importance. The law admits of angelic media, and supposes human administrators; it desires things in due order, regulated in a way that commends itself to men’s reason and conscience. But grace meets a ruined world when all this is set aside; and Jesus, rejected by those who boasted of the law, rejoices in the grace of God, and thanks Him as the Father, whom the law never revealed. He was Father in His own Divine relationship to the Son, entirely outside the ken of men or the Scope of their thoughts or imaginings. The Jews who had the law never saw the reality of Divine relationship. It was dimly couched under various obscure forms and terms in the Old Testament. For all through God was a veiled One, dwelling in the thick darkness, not revealed as Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. This comes out clearly in and through Jesus our Lord; as also light and incorruptibility comes to men through the Gospel, not through the law. In the law it was simply one God, the Jehovah-God of Israel, and He only behind the intricate barriers of the Levitical system. But the Gospel shows the veil rent, and, through Him who went down to the cross, the Father known by the Holy Ghost sent down from heaven. Thus Christianity supposes the full revelation of the true God and the persons of the Godhead 264 Hence it was impossible to have a distinct or full, if any, knowledge of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost under the law. And it may be a question how far those who are in the spirit of the law enter into it fully now; they may be orthodox, and recognise the general certainty of it but this is a very different thing from entering into and enjoying it practically as the known truth and blessing of the soul.

Our Lord Jesus, then, perfect in everything and with Divine knowledge of all, says, “I praise thee, Father, Lord of the heaven and of the earth, that thou hast hid these things from wise and prudent, and hast revealed them to babes: yea, Fattier; for thus hath it been well-pleasing in thy sight.” It was no longer a question of Israel and the land; neither are wisdom and prudence of account now. Things that are highly esteemed among men are judged as an abomination in the sight of God. He had revealed His mind unto babes. Clearly this was grace. There was no claim; and babes would have seemed ‘be very last persons to whom God would have revealed what was beyond the wise and prudent, what the vulture’s eye had not seen. “Yea, Father; for thus hath it been well-pleasing in thy sight.” It was His pleasure; He took complacency in His own love. And grace does not find but makes objects proper to itself and for God’s glory. Grace creates, the law does not. It does not give a nature capable of enjoying God, nor can it give an object, still less one worthy of God Himself to rest on; it can only press a claim on man from God. But grace does all this and more through Jesus, Who both gives us a nature capable of enjoying God and is also Himself the Object to be enjoyed.

Hear how He presents Himself even here: “All things have been delivered to me by my Father.” It is not now merely the land of Israel or the Jewish people, but “all things”; the Son of man with all things handed up to Him — a higher glory even than dominion over all peoples and tongues (Dan. 7.). It is the universe put under Him; and this because He is the Son of God. “All things (John 3:13) have been delivered to me by my Father.” It is not merely the Ancient of Days giving the universal kingdom under the heaven to the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven; but the rejected Man on earth revealing Himself as the Son of God, the Son of man, who is in heaven, as is said elsewhere, to whom His Father has delivered all things.163 We see not yet all things put under Him. But He speaks of a far deeper blessing and glory than even this universal inheritance. “No one knoweth* who the Son is, but the Father.” He is a Divine person — the glory of His person is unfathomable; it is for the Father alone to know and delight in, though for us to know it unknown. No man knoweth; indeed, it is not merely no man, but “no man knoweth who the Son is, but the Father; and who the Father is, but the Son, and he to whomsoever the Son is pleased to reveal [him].” It is clear that none but the Son knows of Himself the Father. But it is not merely true that the Son knows the Father, for He reveals Him to others — “he to whomsoever the Son Is pleased to reveal [him].” This is Christianity; and to lead on the souls of the disciples from their Jewish expectations to the heavenly and Divine truths of Christianity is the object of the Lord Jesus henceforth, as of the Spirit afterwards. It is remarkable that it is said “no one knoweth who the Son is, but the Father,” but it is not added he to whom He will reveal Him. Thus God envelops the Lord Jesus as it were with a Divine guard against the prying curiosity of the creature; and if the Son humbled Himself in grace to man, God forbids that man should approach that, as it were, holy ground. Not even with unsandaled feet can he tread there. God reserves the knowledge of the Son for Himself; He alone really penetrates the mystery of the Only-begotten. The Son does reveal the Father; but man’s mind always breaks itself to pieces when he attempts to unravel the insoluble enigma of Christ’s personal glory. All that the saint can, do is to believe and worship. No man knows the Son but the Father. On the other hand, it is our deepest comfort that the Son not only knows the Father but reveals Him. The revelation of the Father in and by the Son is the joy and rest of faith. It is true even of the babes. The little children ( παιδία), and not merely the young men and the fathers, know the Father (1 John 2:14); and this falls in with. these unspeakably blessed words of our Lord in Luke 10:23f. “And having turned to, the disciples, privately he said, Blessed are the eyes which see the things that ye see. For I say unto you, that many prophets and kings have desired to see those things which ye behold, and did not see [them]; and to hear the things which ye behold, and did not hear [them].164 Thus the Lord Jesus, while He is preparing them for greater things, fully owns, the blessedness of the present.266a

Luke 10:25-28.

Matt. 22:35-40; Mark 12:28-34.

The immense change from law to grace was set forth remarkably in the incident which now follows; and the more so, because the law was now directly introduced in order to show what man was under it, and that there is nothing which really fulfils the law but grace. Those who have only the law before them never accomplish it; they only talk about it, and would cover their self-condemnation by despising others if they could.. Those who are under grace are the only persons who do fulfil it (Rom. 8:3, 4); but they do a great deal more. They understand what is suitable to grace, while in them the righteousness, of the law is fulfilled.

“And behold, a certain lawyer stood up tempting him, and saying, Teacher, having done that, shall I inherit life eternal?” He did not ask, “What shall I do to be saved?” The law neither supposes the ruin of a sinner nor proposes salvation. It cannot but address itself to man’s competency, if he has any. The law is directed to those who assume that man can do what God requires; and consequently it is on God’s part a command of that which is due to Him, what He cannot but ask if they take such a ground with Him. The measure of duty which God proposes to man who thinks himself capable of doing it is the law.267

The lawyer accordingly asks Him as a teacher, what he is to do “to inherit life eternal.” The poor broken-hearted jailer at Philippi asked a far different question, and one more befitting a sinner — what he should do to be saved. The lawyer was not in earnest; he was a mere theorist. It was a subject for a discourse or argument. There was no real concern about his soul, no sense of his own condition or of what God is. “What shall I do to inherit life eternal?”267a The Lord answers him, “What is written in the law? how readest thou?” because, when he took this ground of doing something to inherit eternal life, he had betaken himself really to the law. Thus the Lord in His wisdom answers the fool according to his folly. A fool thinks he can keep the law, and that this is, the way to inherit eternal life. The Lord accordingly says,. “What is written in the law? how readest thou?” because he is going to convict him of the utter futility of all efforts on that ground. “But he, answering, said, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with165 all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thine understanding.” That is, the whole man must love the Lord our God inwardly as well as outwardly, “and thy neighbour as thyself.” This was excellent as a statement of duty: nothing could be better; 261 but how had he done it? and what hope was there for his soul on any such footing. as this? If he took the ground of doing something to inherit eternal life, this must be the way. He was wrong in the very starting-point of his soul, wrong in what he thought about this great concernment, because he was wrong about God; and indeed he that is wrong about himself must be wrong about God. The great fundamental difference of a soul taught of God is this, that, conscious of his own sinfulness, he looks to God and to His way of being delivered out of it; whereas a mere natural man in general hopes to be able to do something himself for God, so as to put Him under a kind of obligation of giving eternal life. Human thought always denies God’s grace, as it denies its own sinfulness and need of grace. However, the answer was all right on that ground, and the Lord says to him to this effect, “Thou hast answered right: this do, and thou shalt live.” But he was dead. Now, the law never deals with the man as dead, and therefore in Old Testament times there never was such a thing brought out as moral death. We never find a hint that this was known in the law or even the prophets. But in the Gospels and Epistles man is treated as dead and as wanting eternal life, which the Son of God alone can give; and He gives it, not by law but by grace — two totally opposite principles. Therefore it is by faith that it might be by grace: whereas the law appeals to that human ability of which man is proud. He deems himself competent to do the will of God and thus to live. The Lord answered him, “This do, and thou shalt live,” but there is where he was wrong. He could not do it, and on that ground therefore he could not live. He was dead, though he did not know it himself, morally dead while he lived.

Luke 10:29-37.

“But he, desirous of justifying166 himself,” not to justify God but himself, “said to Jesus, And who is my neighbour?”170 This is the constant resource of a heart that is not obedient. It makes difficulties and starts objections. “Who is my neighbour?” One would have thought this a very simple question to decide, who one’s neighbour was, but the plainest things are just those which the disobedient heart is prone to overlook. Had he entered into the obedience of Jesus (1 Peter 1:2) he would not have needed to ask the Lord; he would have known himself. He and all must be taught by a parable. “A certain man descended from Jerusalem to Jericho.” This is just the course of man. From the place of blessing, Jerusalem, he goes down to that of the curse, Jericho, and there of course falls among thieves. Such is the world. Having no real unselfish love, it does not give, but violently takes where and what it can. He “fell into [the hands of] robbers, who also, having stripped him and inflicted wounds, went away, leaving him in a half-dead state.” This is just the world. “And a certain priest happened271 to go down that way, and, seeing him, passed on to the opposite side.” There was no kindness, no purpose of love in his heart — only a concurrence of regrettable circumstances for the poor man: it was not the priest’s matter. There was no grace active there, and so the priest, this highest expression of the law of God, goes that way, “and meeting him, he passed on to the opposite side.” He did not know who his neighbour was any more than the lawyer: self always blinds. Surely he ought to have known; but the law never gives right motives. It claims right conduct from those who have not right motives, in order to show that they are thoroughly and inwardly wrong. By the law is the knowledge of sin; it is never the power of holiness. The law is said to be the strength of sin. It simply shows a man his duty, but convicts him that he does not practise it. So with the Levite. “And in like manner also a Levite, being at the spot, came and looked [at him], and passed on the opposite side.” He was next the priest in point of position, according to the law; but he looked on the man and did not recognise his neighbour any more than the priest. He too passed by on the other side. “But a certain Samaritan,” who had nothing to do with the law at all, “journeying, came to him; and, seeing [him],167 was moved with compassion,272 and came up, and bound up his wounds, pouring in273 oil and wine.” There was grace before his eyes which had won his heart, and accordingly he at once finds out his neighbour. Love sees clearly, whatever the heathens may dream. The law merely speaks of his neighbour to a man without heart, who has not ears to hear or eyes to see his neighbour; but grace gives eyes, and ears, and heart. The Samaritan accordingly, when he seeks him, seeks him with the suited provision of grace for the future as well as the present. “He put him on his own beast, and took him to [the] inn, and took care of him.” Thus the righteousness of the law was fulfilled in him who walked not after the flesh but after the Spirit. This was precisely the way of grace. It was so that God sent His Son in quest of those who were fallen among thieves, who were more than half dead. They were wholly dead; and the Son of God gave not only all that He had, but Himself. He far exceeded all that man or a creature could do. Only God could so humble Himself and so love; only He could work suitably to His humiliation and His love. And not only does this Samaritan do all the good he can, but he takes measures that, when he himself goes away, the needy one shall be taken care of adequately. “And on the morrow [as he left],168 taking out two denaria he gave them to the innkeeper, and said to him,169 Take care, of him, and whatever thou shalt expend more, I will render to thee on my coming back.” It is the provision of grace which not only furnishes the blessing with all freeness, but secures, it fully when the giver is no longer here. And Jesus will repay when He comes again. He took care Himself of the sinner when He was in the world. He takes care of him now that he is brought in as His sole charge; and when He comes again, all will be repaid.274 “Which [now]170 of these three seems to thee was275 neighbour [had been neighbour] to him that fell into [the hands of] the robbers? And he said” - even this lawyer, because man has a conscience - “he that showed him mercy.” Consequently it is not law that can avail. The great transition, then, is made plain to all who hear. Mercy, and mercy alone, can suit a lost man; but mercy is distasteful because it exalts, God; whereas law is used by man to exalt himself and his capacity. It is only when we believe our own ruin, perhaps after efforts under law, that mercy first saves our souls and then opens our eyes and makes us see a neighbour in each needy soul, without asking who he is. Mercy makes us feel every one that wants our help and compassion to be our neighbour; whereas the spirit of legalism contents itself with asking, “Who is my neighbour?” Without Christ, law merely acts upon the natural man; though it shows a man his duty, it never gives him power or heart to do it. The spirit of grace alone gives Divine motive and power. “What the law could not do in that it was weak through the flesh, God, sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh,” etc. (Rom. 8:3f.) Grace has shone in Jesus Christ; and the Holy Ghost works according to the same grace in those who have received Jesus, who are not under law but under grace.276

Luke 10:38-11:54.171

Luke 10:38-42.277

We here enter upon a new section of the Gospel. The Spirit of God sets before us, speaking now generally, two things: first, the unspeakable value of the Word of God, and more particularly of the Word of Jesus; secondly, as we shall see another time, the place and exceeding importance for the soul of prayer. But then there are many things to be considered in connection with each of these topics, of which we shall only now look at the first. There is a moral comparison between the two sisters who loved the Lord. She who chose the better portion was the one whose heart clung most to the Word as a link between the soul and God. As we all know, it is by the Word of truth that any are begotten of God, for it is the seed of incorruptible life, that Word which liveth and abideth for ever. But then it is much more than that. It is the means of growth, of cleansing the way, of enjoying God, and consequently of spiritual blessing day by day. This was made very apparent in the difference between Martha and Mary. They were sisters in the flesh, believers both of them, loved of Jesus. Nevertheless, difference there was; and the main cause and evidence of it between the two was the superior value that Mary had for the Word of Jesus. The Word of God has a formative power over the mind and affections, and she is proved to be the one who most prizes the Lord, and who most really and in the truest communion serves Him, who has the deepest value for His Word. This we find as a general principle elsewhere in Scripture (“This is the love of God, that we keep his commandments” 1 John 5:3), and particularly in John 14:23, “If a man love me, he will keep my word”; but here it comes out practically in the case of Martha and Mary. “A certain woman named Martha received him into her house.” She fully owned Him to be the Messiah. There was faith of God’s giving in Martha’s heart; but it saw no more in Him than simply the Messiah. Her faith did not go farther. “And she had a sister called Mary, who also, having sat down at Jesus’172 feet, was listening to his word.”

Mary is not characterised by such a reception of the Lord,. by loving attentions and hospitality, though founded, no doubt, upon a growing out of faith. “Mary sat at Jesus” feet and listened to his word.” Some might suppose this to be a far less proof of love; but to Jesus it was incomparably the more acceptable of the two. Martha did honour to Jesus as a believing, righteous Jew might; she owned herself subject, Himself as King, and was as happy as her faith would admit of in thus receiving the Lord to her house in the day of His humiliation; but her sister sat at His feet and heard His Word. In her case it was not so much what she did for the Lord; but she had such a sense of His greatness, and love that her one point was to sit at His feet (an attitude of far deeper humiliation than Martha ever took) with the consciousness of the Divine fulness there was in Him for her. She heard His Word; but Martha “was distracted with much serving.” How many there are who are fond of serving the Lord, but are much more full of their own doings for Him than of what He is to them as well as in Himself! This deceives many. They measure faith by their round of bustle and activity. But in truth this always has a great deal of self in it. When true humility animates, there way be much done, but there is little noise. Mary sat at Jesus’ feet and heard His Word.278

“But Martha was distracted with much serving, and, coming up, she said, Lord, dost thou not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? speak to her therefore that she may help me.” Thus not only was there a large spice of self-importance in Martha, but she felt herself constantly slighted and incommoded by others. The spirit of egoism measures by itself, and cannot appreciate a love which is deeper than its own, and which issues in ways and forms which have no beauty in its eyes. Therefore Mary, instead of being an object of complacency to Martha, troubled her: Why did Mary not help her? Martha’s thoughts circled round herself. Had she been thinking of Jesus, she would not have dictated to Him any more than have complained of Mary. “Lord, dost thou not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? speak to her therefore that she may help me.” What want of love and lowliness! She does not even leave it to the Lord to direct. Self is always captious as well as important, and as swift to impute to others as to arrogate to itself what is unbecoming. “Speak to her therefore that she may help me.” She forgets that she was but the servant of the Lord. Who was she to wish to control Him? Martha was full of zeal, but of her own ways (not to say her own will) in serving Christ.

Jesus,173 however, answers with the dignity that was proper to Him, and the love that always sees true to its mark (for there is nothing that gives such a single eye as genuine affection), but which at the same time vindicates the true-hearted before those who misunderstand them. He loved them both, indeed, and says in reply, “Martha, Martha, thou art careful and troubled about many things.” He deals first of all with herself. She ought not to have been thus anxious and careworn. Martha did not know what Paul knew so well: “This one thing I do.” (Phil. 3:13.) There was never a man with such multitudinous occupations as the apostle; there was never another with such a heart for the Church. And yet he could happily employ his hands in making tents, because he would not be burdensome, though he had a right to be so as an apostle of Christ. What was it that carried him through all his unexampled toil and suffering, undistracted and happy? The reason was that one person, the only worthy Object, filled and governed his heart. This made him thoroughly happy in the midst of the deepest afflictions. This “one thing” is precisely what is needful for the child of God, and the very thing that Martha practically had not.279 It was not that she did not believe in the Lord; but she had her own thoughts too. Nature was strong. Jewish feeling and tradition held their ground; all these things wrought actively in her mind; and to such a person receiving the Lord Jesus was not only a question of doing Him honour, but of receiving honour herself too. In such cases self always, more or less, mingles even with the desire to show present respect to Jesus.

“But there is need of one; and174 Mary hath chosen the good part, such as shall not be taken from her.” There is nothing like it. That good part is prizing Christ and His Word, not thinking what Mary could do for the Lord, but what the Lord could do for Mary. To receive all for her soul from the Lord, instead of receiving Him into her house, was before Mary’s soul. This was the one thing needful — it was Christ Himself. He is all, and Mary felt this. That “good part, such as shall not be taken from her” — it is eternal. Martha’s honours passed away; they were shortly about to end, for soon Jesus would not be known after the flesh, but must be known, if at all, in a higher glory than that of the Messiah. Soon, therefore, the possibility of receiving Him with a hospitable heart could not be Martha’s portion; for at His cross it would necessarily be cut short and disappear. But Mary’s position of lowly faith in hearing His Word could be always. Even in heaven the essence of it will not be lost. Communion with Jesus, delight in Jesus, humility of heart before Jesus, will always be true; it is the part of real devotedness and of the deepest. love. Great as faith and hope may be (and their value cannot be over-estimated on earth), still, after all, love is that which abides for ever and love now is in proportion to the power of faith and hope. All these things were incomparably richer and stronger in Mary’s heart than in Martha’s, and this because Christ filled her heart — this one thing that is needful.

149 Cf. “Introductory Lectures,” pp. 316-320.

150 “Seventy”: so Tisch. Treg. and Revv., as ACL., later uncials, nearly all cursives, Goth. Aeth. W. H., Blass, and Weiss read “seventy-two,” after BD, etc., several Old Lat., syrrcu sin.252

151 I” ( ἐγώ). “It is I who”: so CDL Δ. Edd. omit, as AB (from Matthew).

152 “If”: so Edd., after the uncials. Only minuscules have “if indeed.”

153 “May have entered”: so Edd. with BCDL Ξ, 1, 33, Amiat. “May enter” is the reading of A Δ, etc.

154 “Cleaves to us on the feet”: so Edd. after BD, Old Lat. Syrcu. Other uncial copies, besides many cursives, omit “on the feet.”

155 After “come nigh,” AC, etc., and most cursives (69), add “unto you,” which Edd. reject, following BDL, 1, 33, Amiat.

156 Before “I say,” Tisch. adds “But,” with E Ξ, etc., Memph., which W. H. and others omit, after BCL.

157 “Who hast been raised up”: so Weiss and Blass ( ὑφώθης), after A, most later uncials, and most cursives (33, 69), all having ὑψωθεῖσα, with Amiat. Other recent Edd. adopt “shalt thou indeed be exalted ( ὑφωθήσῃ),” after BDL Ξ, Syrcu. Old Lat. Memph.; of these, BD give καταβήσῃ (Treg. Marg., W. H., text, and Weiss), instead of καταβιβασθήσῃ (Revv. and Blass).

158 “The seventy”: BD, etc., read “seventy-two,” as above (verse 1).

159 “Give”: so Blass, following AD Δ, etc., most cursives (33, 69), Syrr.-Tisch., W. H., etc., adopt “have given,” after BCpmLX, 1, Old Lat. Amiat.

160 A few copies have “rejoice rather”; but the additional word is not in ABCD, etc., 1, 33, 69, Old Lat. Syrr. (Edd.).

161 “Jesus”: so ACE, etc., 33; but Edd. omit, after BD Ξ, Amiat., Memph.

162 “In (the, or His) spirit”: so Blass, after AEG Δ, etc., nearly all cursives, Syrsin. Other Edd. adopt “the Holy Spirit,” after BCD, etc., 1, 33, Syrrcu pesch, Old Lat. Memph., which was the text followed in the Vulg., Wycliffe’s, and the Rhemish versions.

163 As to the traditional reading in the present tense ( γινώσκει not ἔγνω) here, see note 265 in Appendix.

164 As to the last clause, see note 266 in Appendix.

165 “With.” The reading generally approved the first time is ἐξ (“from”); afterwards, ἐν, which Blass has throughout, as D; but this editor, after D and Γ, omits “with all thine understanding.” The last words are vouched for by the other copies.

166 “Of justifying.” BCpmDL Ξ have δικαιῶσαι, adopted by Edd.; whilst δικαιοῦν is the form in ACcorr ΓΔΛΠ, 1, 33, 69. See note 269 in Appendix.

167 [“Him”]: so ACDE, etc., 69, Syrr. Edd. omit, as BL Ξ, 1, 33, Old Lat.

168 [“As he left”]: so ACE, etc., 69, Syrr. Edd. omit, after BDL, etc., 1, 33, Old Lat. Syrrcu sin pesch, Memph.

169 “To him”: so ACE, etc., most Syrr. Edd. omit, after BDL Ξ, 1, 33, Syrsin, Amiat. Memph.

170 [“Now”]: so AC Δ, etc., 33, 69, most Syrr. Edd. omit, as BL Ξ, 1, Syrsin, Amiat.

171 Cf. “Introductory Lectures,” pp. 321-328.

172 “Jesus”: so ACcorr, later uncials, almost all cursives, with Syrsin, but Revv., as Edd., adopt “the Lord,” after DL Ξ Syrcu, most Old Lat. Memph. Aeth. Arm.

173 In verse 41, “Jesus” has the support of ACDE and all later uncials, most cursives (1, 69), Syrr. including sin., with Old Lat. and Memph.; but Revv., as Edd., have adopted “the Lord,” following Bpm L, Old Lat. and Amiat.

174 Blass omits all after second “Martha” as far as “and” (Revv. “for”), after Syrsin and some copies of Old Latin. D contains “thou art troubled.” The words reproduced are sustained by the mass of authority recognized by other Edd.; but there is a question as to “There is need of one,” which is the reading of ACpm, most later uncials with cursives, Syrrcu and some Old Lat. (Tisch. Treg.). W. H. and Weiss adopt “Few things are needful or one,” as in BCcorr L, 1, 33, Memph. Aeth. and Origen. But see Scrivener, ii., p. 349f. The “and” (Treg.) is in AC, etc. Revv., as most Edd.. “for,” after BL, 1, 69.