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praise him, therefore, for works which are beneficial to us, as well as to those for whose use they were first intended.
Luke xiii. 18-21. corresponds with Matt. xiii. 31-33.
Luke xiii. 22-33.
22. And he went through the cities and villages, teaching, and journeying towards Jerusalem.
Jesus was now going up to Jerusalem, for the last time, with the full persuasion that he should die there in the most painful and ignominious manner. This drew from him the sorrowful acknowledgment in the 50th verse of the last chapter; "I have a baptism to be baptized with, and how am I straitened' or distressed "until it be accomplished!" His mind, however, was not so oppressed with the prospect of his sufferings, as to prevent him from discharging the duties of his office, by instructing the people wherever he came.
23. Then said one unto him, Lord, are there few that be saved?
The intention of the person who asked this question was probably to enquire whether the doctrine taught by Christ would be embraced by many, or confined to a few; in order either that if the number were small, he might have the honour of ranking himself among them, or that he might justify his own rejection of the gospel by the unbelief of the multitude. Believing in Christ, is with propriety called being saved, because it was attended with temporal deliverance; whereas unbelief produced inevitable destruction, in the calamities which awaited the Jewish nation. Christ, therefore, in his answer to this question, exhorts the person who made it, and others who might hear it, to enter the strait gate, that is, to embrace his religion, which was
at that time attended with many difficulties, and which might fitly be compared to entering a strait or narrow passage; and he enforces this exhortation, by assuring them that the time would come when many would seek an entrance into the kingdom of the Messiah, but would be refused admission.
And he said unto them,
24. Strive to enter in at the strait gate: for many, I say unto you, will seek to enter in, and shall not be able;
The question of this inquirer referred only to the reception of the gospel among the Jews: the answer of Christ implies that there would be many by whom it would be rejected; but that a time would come, the day of final judgment, when they would change their mind, when they would apply for admittance, and be refused: hence he infers the propriety of exerting all their endeavours to enjoy this advantage, while it might be ob
When once the master of the house is risen up, or, by a slight correction of the present text, "hath composed himself," and shut to the door, and ye begin to stand without, and to knock at the door, saying, Lord, Lord, open unto us; and he shall answer and say unto you, I know ye not whence ye are.
The happiness of Christians in a future life is here represented, as in other parts of the gospel, under the idea of a feast, made by the master of a family for his friends; and the exclusion of the unbelieving Jews is represented by the rejection of strangers, who apply for admittance after the master of the family has sat down to meat. The parable and the application, however, are not kept entirely distinct, but intermingled, in such a Vol. 2.
manner, however, as that the sense is sufficiently obvious. To the application of strangers for admittance, the master of the house very naturally replies that he knows them not, whence they are.
26. Then shall ye begin to say, We have eaten and drunk in thy presence, and thou hast taught in our streets.
This language is very properly put into the mouths of Jews, as addressed by them to Christ: for as he had lived among them and exercised his public ministry, eating and drinking with them at the same tables, and teaching in their streets, they would naturally hope that this would furnish them with some claim to his favour, inasmuch as it appeared that they were countrymen and familiar acquaintance. To this plea the master of the family replies, by again denying any knowledge of them as his friends, and desiring them to depart from him; for that notwithstanding he might have some acquaintance with them in the intercourse of life, yet their wicked conduct forbad him to regard them in any other light than as strangers.
27. But he shall say, I tell you, I know you not, whence you are. Depart from me, all ye workers of iniquity.
The Jews, who rejected the Messiah from a love of worldly greatness and an aversion to the pure doctrines of religion which he taught, accompanied also with the most surprising miracles, might be justly characterised as workers of iniquity.
28. There shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth, when ye shall see Abraham and Isaac and Jacob, and all the prophets, in the kingdom of God, and you yourselves thrust out.
The three patriarchs here mentioned, and the prophets, were held in the highest veneration and esteem
by the Jews; and they flattered themselves with the hope, no doubt, that when they died they should be admitted into their company, in heaven: but Jesus informs them, that, by rejecting him, they would deprive themselves of that honour, and hereby expose themselves to the deepest sorrow and the most cutting mortification; such as is usually expressed by tears and gnashing the teeth.
29. And they shall come, or, "these shall come," from the east and from the west, and from the north and from the south, and shall sit down in the kingdom of God.
The question proposed to Jesus was, whether there were but few that should be saved, that is, who should believe in the Messiah; and his answer implies that not many of the Jews would believe in him; but at the same time he declares that great numbers from among the Gentiles, in all quarters of the world, would acknowledge his divine mission, and hereby procure themselves admission to the grand feast provided for all Christ's disciples in the kingdom of heaven.
30. And behold there are last which shall be first; and there are first which shall be last.
The Jews now stood first in the divine favour, and in the possession of religious privileges: but the time would soon come, when this order should be reversed; when the Gentiles, who now seemed to be neglected by God, should, by the general reception which they gave to the gospel of Christ, occupy the first place in his regard; while the Jews should be punished and degraded for their unbelief. Or perhaps the sense may be; the Gentiles, to whom the gospel will be offered last, shall be the first to embrace it.
31. The same day there came cer
tain of the Pharisees, saying unto him, Get thee out, and depart hence: for Herod will kill thee, or, " meaneth to kill thee."
From the well-known enmity of the Pharisees to Jesus, it is reasonable to suppose that this warning of his danger proceeded not from any concern for his security, but was given with a view to intimidate him, in order to prevent him from exercising his office any longer, or to drive him into Judæa, where the priests and Pharisees were prepared to put him to death. From Christ's reply it appears that Herod had some concern in this message, and that he had employed the Pharisees to deliver it. He was alarmed at the fame and popularity of Jesus; but having suffered so much in his own mind, from the murder of John the Baptist, he was afraid to involve himself in the same trouble, by putting Jesus to death: he took, therefore, this indirect method to drive him from his dominions.
32. And he said unto them, Go ye, and tell that fox, that cunning artful man, Behold I cast out dæmons, and do cures to-day and to-morrow, and the third day I shall be perfected; rather, "end my
Tell him that in a short time I shall die; so that he need not trouble himself to put me to death; yet that, while I live, I shall go on with my work, without being deterred by his threatening. Some have supposed that there is a reference to the time which actually passed between the season at which Christ spoke and his death, and that this was no more than three days. But three days are too short a space for the many events which are afterwards recorded as having taken place before his death. This language is rather to be considered as expressing a very short but indeterminate time; just in the same manner as the phrase two or three days, reads in our own language.