I apprehend that the Gospel of Mark, which brings under our view the service of Christ, and particularly His prophetic service, and, hence, records simply the accomplishment of that service, as the events arose, is that of the three first Gospels, which gives generally the chronological order of events. Luke places, in general, events in the same order as Mark, where he follows chronological order at all. In a large portion of his Gospel he drops the chronological order, and gives a general series of instructions, of which the occasions and elements are found scattered in the other two Gospels, or are found only in Luke. I take Mark, therefore, as presenting, in the main, the historical order. It is to be remarked, that, as is stated in the end of John, very few of the events or miracles of our Lord’s life are recorded: only such as shew forth His ministry, and specially in the earlier part in Galilee, and then at the close of Jerusalem. In these the Gospels, in the main, go together. Luke has a large portion of the middle part of his Gospel occupied with general moral teaching. But the way in which this comes in is not difficult to perceive, as in chapter 9 it is said that the time was come for Christ’s receiving up. In all the Gospels the common history of the concluding events begins with the healing of the blind man near Jericho. In Matthew the method pursued by the evangelist is very evident; and the displacement of subjects, where they are found, is connected with that method. I will begin with him. The birth of Christ itself—not found in Mark—is treated in connection with the subject of the evangelist, or rather of the Holy Ghost, by his pen. Luke’s account of Christ’s birth, far more detailed than Matthew’s, bears its own stamp too.
But I will now consider the order of Matthew and the reasons of it, as far as God enables me. Matthew gives us the presenting of Messiah-Jehovah, Son of David, to the people; and the form His service took in consequence of His rejection, with the substitution of the new thing which took the place of Messiah’s being then received—the church prophetically announced, and the kingdom of glory. The residue of Israel have also their place beyond the intervening epoch of the church, existing on to the close. The general subject of the Gospel, what characterises it, is the presenting of Messiah-Jehovah according to hope and promise, and its consequences. Hence the genealogy by which the Gospel begins50 is Messiah’s genealogy, traced to David and Abraham, the two great depositaries of promise and heads of blessing to Israel by original promise and given royalty. Christ was heir of both. It begins -also the Gospel; for the accomplishment of this blessing, according to promise, is its subject. Jesus Christ was a minister of the circumcision for the truth of God to confirm the promises made to the fathers. Luke has his genealogy elsewhere, after the whole history of Christ’s birth has been given in connection with Israel, but in Israel’s subject-place in the world. From heaven only the angels announce its universal scope. It is connected with the opening of His ministry, and goes up to Son of Adam, Son of God.
To return to Matthew. In speaking of Christ’s birth, Joseph is addressed as son of David, Mary being espoused to him. The child’s name thus divinely born is to be called Jehovah the Saviour, for He is to save His people from their sins; all coming to pass, that the prophecy of Emmanuel’s coming might be fulfilled. He was the Emmanuel of Israel who was thus born.
Next, at Bethlehem, according to the prophecy, the Gentiles come to own Israel’s king, in contrast, moreover, with the false one. Such is His place; but, from the beginning, to be rejected in it. But He is to begin Israel’s fortunes afresh, so to speak, as called out of Egypt, the true vine. In due time He returns back, but it is to take His place with the remnant of Israel, the poor of the flock, in despised Galilee, and be called a Nazarene. Such was the place in Israel of Jehovah-Messiah: fulfilment of promise—the place to which He had really a title, what He really was—His place, in fact. Such are the three great elements of the history of the introduction of Christ into the world, as given in this Gospel. Of course, this is not in Mark; but it gives to’us-the character of the Gospel. Matthew then passes on to—the opening of His ministry, John preparing His way. This, and the temptation, are given in all three Gospels, as the two opening facts, but with some characteristic differences. As to John’s ministry, it is simply generally introductory. In Luke you have “All flesh shall see the salvation of God”; and various moral instructions to different classes; and the title of “generation of vipers” is applied to the multitude in general. In Matthew he is simply to prepare the way of the Lord (Jehovah). His prophetic appearance is noticed. The Pharisees and Sadducees only are a generation of vipers. In Luke he preaches the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins; in Matthew “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” As regards the temptation, Mark only briefly mentions the fact. The only point to be noticed is, that Luke puts the temptation of the pinnacle of the temple last, giving the moral order: Matthew, the offer of the kingdoms of the world; after which, he sends Satan (now fully manifested) away. Luke, consequently, does not notice this last circumstance, not necessary for his object. Matthew and Mark both notice that Jesus’ ministry commenced after John was cast into prison. This makes Him go into Galilee.
In Matthew, thereupon, a fact is noticed which casts a light on the course of the Lord’s ministry, connecting Him, as it does, with the poor and despised of the flock in Galilee. He came and dwelt in Capernaum, leaving Nazareth; accomplishing thus a remarkable prophecy of Isaiah, directly connected with the most specific prophecy there is, of the separation of the residue in Messiah’s time. (See Isaiah 8:13, and following.) All this is generally stated in Luke (chap. 4:14,15), only His preaching in Nazareth is given51—of that when we speak of Luke.
The call of Andrew, Simon, James, and John, follows, as in Mark; for here what naturally followed historically has its place in Matthew. It is not merely preaching, but the beginning of the gathering of the residue round His own person. They leave all, and follow Him. They believed on Him, note, already (John 1). Luke here leaves the order, to give the character and service of Christ’s ministry, with which the Spirit is specially occupied in that part of that Gospel. Mark had already stated, generally, His preaching on His going into Galilee; and then proceeds with historical circumstances in Capernaum, etc. But Matthew opens out here, into a large general view of His public ministry, and the attention it drew; and then gives a full summary of all the principles of the kingdom He was preaching, and what characters had a place in it. Hence, after His beginning to gather the residue, he tells us of His going all round Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom (Mark says, kingdom of God), healing, casting out devils, so that His fame spread throughout all Syria. The report went abroad, and multitudes followed him from all sides. This, of course, embraces some considerable time, and presents, purposely, a general view of the work, and its effects; a picture, in a few verses, of the effects of His ministry. The gospel of the kingdom was spread abroad, and attention universally attracted, for it was accompanied with power.
Hereupon, the Spirit of God, without defining any time, but merely saying that the sight of the multitudes gave occasion to it, enters into a full statement, well known as the Sermon on the Mount, of the great principles of the kingdom embraced as preached, before it came in power, by a faithful few, to whom persecution for righteousness, and for His name’s sake, is presented as a probable part of their lot. These principles are the spirituality of the law, and the revelation of the name of the Father. Israel was on the way to the Judge. It was not the great, wise, doctors, Pharisees, but the poor of the flock that entered into the mind of God about the state of things—were like Christ—who would enter into the kingdom. It is not preaching the gospel of salvation, but the principles of the kingdom. The suitableness of this, after shewing us how the preaching of that kingdom had attracted the notice of all, is evident. The comparison of Mark 3:13, and Luke 6, shews, I think, clearly, that these are the same occasion; but Mark does not give the sermon; and Luke, who does more briefly, shews it was when He had chosen the twelve. This last circumstance is not given in Matthew. They are noticed as already chosen, at the time of their sending forth (chap. 10:1), which was a subsequent act.
We can hardly speak of date in Matthew for the sermon on the mount; because, while Mark gives details of Christ’s ministry in Galilee (of which Matthew, indeed, gives many afterwards), Matthew here gives a general comprehensive view of that ministry as a whole. Still it was, in a general way, at its commencement; and the sermon is introduced, out of its historic place, before all the details of the ministry in Galilee, in order to give the character of the heirs of the kingdom, when the fact of its preaching in Galilee, and the public attention it had excited, had been brought before us. The place which these instructions have in this Gospel is entirely determined by the subject. He gathers the residue round Himself. The kingdom is announced in all the prophetic country (Galilee) with power, the report spread, the character of the kingdom given. This closes the great introductory portion. We have then the details of the presentation of Jehovah Messiah, and the result gradually developed: and that at once very rapidly and characteristically. For the great statement, as a whole, of what was doing as regards Israel, was closed with the sermon on the mount.
A second portion of this Gospel closes with chapter 9:34. Into this second part I will now enter. First, He is Jehovah in Israel; for Jehovah alone cleansed the leper, and the Jewish Mosaic ordinances are here owned. This miracle is introduced out of its place. It took place after the going into Capernaum, and healing Simon’s wife’s mother. But it gave the first grand characteristic of Jesus’ presence in this Gospel—Jehovah Messiah in Israel. But Matthew teaches us the rejection also of this, and the consequent setting aside of Israel, and the introduction of the new thing. Hence, on the cleansing of the leprosy by “I will, be thou clean,” follows the healing of the Gentile’s servant on the Gentile’s faith in the divine person of the Christ, with the announcement of the admission of the nations, from all sides, into the kingdom, with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, while the children of the kingdom would be thrust out.
This, Mark does not mention. Though happening at this period generally, when the Lord was frequently at Capernaum, I apprehend, from the history given in Luke, that it happened later. It is introduced here for the great principle involved in it. What passed in the synagogue in Capernaum, in the first mentioned visit to it, is omitted in Matthew. It had no place in the purpose for which Matthew’s account is given. But he takes up the latter part of the same sabbath visit, the healing of Peter’s wife’s mother, and a multitude of other sick, because it gives an additional character of Christ’s presence, in which, in grace, prophecy was accomplished as to Him— His profound interest in the sorrows of Israel (and, indeed, of man), that is, His charging Himself and His own heart with all, taking them on Himself. This pity, note, is mentioned. His going out into the desert is left out. This scene at Capernaum is only so far out of place, as the account of the leper and the centurion are introduced before it, as the great characteristics of His position, whereas they historically come after it.
Another characteristic element of His condition, as thus come in Israel, was that Messiah and Lord as He was, He had nowhere to lay His head. He was just going to cross over the sea of Tiberias, when He declared this to the scribe: but this happened later in His service in Galilee, as we see by comparing Mark and Luke. But it is introduced here in Matthew, without any note of time, as an important element in the position of Jesus. The circumstances of this passage over the sea, afford us another element of His history. Not only is He rejected and houseless, through man’s hatred, and God’s love serving man in spite of that hatred; but, if so, His disciples, the remnant, will be tossed about while He appears to be asleep. But they are in the same boat with Him who can calm the sea with a word, and still the raging of the waters, though He may allow them to rise for the trial of the faith of those that are His.
The healing of Legion comes in exact order as regards the passage over the sea; but as to the general order, is, consequently, displaced with it. But the picture it affords of the character and results of Christ’s presence, tends to complete the divine instruction of this Gospel. Power was there to set aside wholly the most mighty, and, for man, unbridled and irresistible power of Satan. The time was not come for his being bound in the bottomless pit, and the demons therefore say, “Art thou come to torment us before the time?” The effect on the poor maniac is not told here. That is blessedly given in Luke; who, therefore, only speaks of one in whom this effect was produced. The simple point here was the complete power of Satan, and the power present to set it aside. In Luke we find the subsequent service of the delivered remnant unfolded. Here it is the present position of Jesus and the Jews. A word where His power is exercised, gives complete deliverance, and thus the remnant are set free; but, as regards the mass, the result is figured by the unclean swine. They hurry on to destruction. As to Christ, He leaves their coast.
Here Matthew returns pretty much to the general order of the history of His service in Galilee; but the bearing of the Gospel is fully maintained. The Lord heals the sick of the palsy in Capernaum, His own city, as it is called; for there He had fixed His residence when not going through the country. This case begins a new series, shewing the power, character, and efficacy of His coming, always keeping in view, and illustrative of, the general subject of the Gospel. That coming is presented here to Israel, according to promise; and its result as reaching far beyond Israel on His rejection. And here the case of the paralytic is presented with special view to this result; that is, to the place Jesus takes as rejected by Israel, and the grace and personal power from which that flows. Palsied as man, as Israel particularly, was, the source of this in the government of God lay deeper than outward circumstances. It was their sins that had brought them there. But grace had come; one having title to forgive, and specially here as regards God’s ways and government, though surely in view of, and founded on, the needed sacrifice. He is really the Son of man (far more than King of Israel); but, as such, He has brought grace and power into the midst of the people. The Lord meets the whole case—goes to the heart and conscience of the sufferer. “Son, be of good cheer, thy sins be forgiven thee.” In reply to the reasoning of the scribes in their hearts, He, who searches the heart, replies by this wonderful truth: “The Son of man hath power on earth to forgive sins.” Thus He takes not the title of Messiah, not the righteous man of Psalm i, nor the Son of God of Psalm 2, but of the Son of man of Psalm 8; His full title, when rejected in the former character, and, at the same time, of perfect grace, as entering into man’s condition and sorrow. To prove His title, He by a word makes the paralytic rise up and walk. This act then, under the title of Son of man, is of the largest import. It is grace, forgiveness so as to restore. He is Son of man—all Israel wants—but His title much larger; and meanwhile the Accomplisher of that which is the witness that He is the Jehovah of Israel’s blessing (though coming as Son of man), who forgives all their sins and heals all their infirmities. He proved His title to one by the accomplishment of the other. In this way it is very characteristic. Compare Psalm 103:3. The Lord, in this Gospel, never calls Himself anything but Son of man; others, Son of David; and the demons, Son of God.
Next, the Lord calls Matthew, or Levi. This is still in the historical order; but introduces most important elements of the Lord’s history, in connection with the subject of this Gospel. It is grace above all traditional, or even Israelitish thoughts (for he was the expression of Gentile dominion over Israel); but the Lord came as physician, not to call the righteous, but sinners. Note! to call, not simply to bring blessing to Israel (though labouring in Israel), and crown their hopes and state. He calls, and calls sinners. It is grace; but the Lord’s comment on this goes farther, and is more explicit. He cannot put the new wine of power, living power and grace, which He is bringing in, into the old bottles. The whole position is brought out in its double aspect. The Bridegroom—the Bridegroom of Israel—was there. The faithful remnant of Israel, the disciples, the children of the bride-chamber, who recognised Him, and attached themselves to Him, could not mourn. How should they? Besides, the truth was, that these ordinances for flesh could not receive the new wine of grace, and of the Spirit. Thus, that He was present in Israel, and the impossibility of Israel, as it was, being the vessel of the power, grace, and purpose of God in Him, are both here brought out. The new wine was to be put into new bottles.
Chapter 8 gives, historically, His service, and its results. This applies its principles, shewing the grace that met Israel in Jehovah’s presence; but, in fact, the impossibility of that power in its energies, being introduced into the system in which Israel then stood. In point of fact, He is rejected by the characteristic leaders of the nation.
In what follows in Matthew, we have the Lord’s persevering grace in Israel, though the new wine, He well knew, had to be put into new bottles. Israel’s real state is shewn, explaining why there must be this new power—life-giving power—introduced; but grace towards Israel is shewn, which will persevere across (however temporarily suspended by judgment on the people) the whole church interval of time, to resume its activity in the latter days towards the beloved and chosen people. This is remarkably brought out to the end of chapter 10. The disciples are sent forth, forbidden to go to Gentiles or Samaritans; and they would not have gone over the cities of Israel till the Son of man will come. Chapter 11 brings out their present rejection, as having rejected John and Himself; the revelation of the Father by the Son being the result—the resource of the heavy-laden, the easy yoke in the midst of sorrow.
I may remark here, that Matthew having, in order to shew the principles of the kingdom, introduced the sermon on the mount, already as a great general feature of the Lord’s teaching early in the Gospel, omits here the choosing of the twelve; on which, after coming down to a level place (English translation, “the plain”) a little lower down the mountain, the sermon seems to have followed. See Mark 3:13; and Luke 6. The case of Jairus’ daughter, on the other hand, and of the woman who touched the hem of His garment, are introduced here; though this comes, I apprehend, historically, after the parables by the sea-shore, and Jesus’ return from healing Legion; the last Matthew had, as we have seen, already given to complete his general picture of Jewish history.
The bearing of the two facts recorded in chapter 9, consequent on the teaching as to the new bottles and before the Jewish mission of chapter 10, on the course of the Messianic history as presented by Matthew, I shall now advert to. The real state of Israel was death. On the point of dying as seen by others, in God’s estimate Israel was dead before Jesus came. He visited it as dying—He really found it dead. So it is treated here; but, come in life-giving power, Jesus will give it life. This will be accomplished when He comes again; but He was, at His first coming, on the way with Israel and the whole crowd around Him, and power in Him where faith was in exercise through grace, to arrest death, to give life where all else had failed. The poor woman thus represents the residue whose faith laid hold on Jesus in the midst of the crowd around, and thus distinguished from it. These the Lord owned. They are healed and saved on the way. As regards the one for whom He set out, He must, when the time comes, not heal but raise from the dead. For God holds Israel yet as but asleep, though really dead morally. This will be at the close. Hence He acts in power with the blind in Israel, who own Him Son of David. On their faith, following Him even apart from the crowd and assured He could do it, He gives them sight. The dumb, in like manner, receives his speech. Sight and a voice to praise are restored to them. It was never so seen in Israel. The Pharisees, blaspheming, ascribe it to Satan. But we have seen that the subject here is the persevering grace towards Israel, of which the two forms were shewn in the woman and Jairus’ daughter.
Hence, in spite of the blasphemy of the Pharisees, which yet shews the condition of Israel as a nation, the Lord continues His course of patient grace (chap. 9:35), and seeing the shepherdless multitudes, is moved with compassion, and utters to His disciples His sense of the greatness of the harvest and the fewness of the labourers, urging them to pray to the harvest’s Lord to send them out; and in this spirit sends the twelve forth. These are sent exclusively to the house of Israel—the lost sheep of the house of Israel in the midst of opposition and difficulty; but their mission continues after Christ’s death, but still viewed as exclusively to Israel, and omitting all notice of the church or Gentiles, and overleaps all the time in which the people are not as such in the land, and tells them to go through the cities, which they would not have done till the Son of man was come. He was there, but the Lord goes on till He be come as such in power. It is, as I have said, the persevering grace to Israel distinguishing the remnant. This mission, relatively to what immediately proceeds, is not out of its historical order in Matthew; but its exclusively Israelitish character is only in this Gospel.
In chapter 11 the Lord returns to the present position of Israel in reference to Himself, and its results as to the place He was about to take, the real reason of His rejection. The preparatory message of John is closed, and he comes to have his own personal place according to his own faith. Great above all born of women, the least in the kingdom is greater than he. The Lord bears witness to him, not he to the Lord. He is rejected; Christ is rejected by the Jews: warnings and grace alike. But the real truth of this rejection was, not his want of worthiness, but that Christ’s person is too glorious to be known by any but the Father; or the Father whom He made known, by any but Him, and such as He revealed Him to j all were dependent on this, that is, on Christ’s revelation of the Father to them. That is the glory of His person as Son—as Man on earth is brought out. Next in reward of perfect submission comes full joy. He had learnt the sorrows of man; knew how hopeless to seek good there, and presents Himself in grace as the rest of the weary, and the spirit of submission as shewn in Him for repose of soul on the way. This is historically the complete change of the dispensation.
Mark has not this account, and the two parts of this discourse in Matthew (that is, the rejection of John and Christ, and the shewing what His rejection by the Jews, while guilty as to what they did see, really came from, that is, the divine glory of His person which none could fathom; and the blessed remedy in Christ’s revealing the Father to the babes) belong historically to different times. The latter part is found in Luke 10:21, where it is said, “in the same hour,” which is precise; and it is found after the mission to the seventy, where its connection is beautifully evident on the joy of His disciples on their return. It is general here, in Matthew 11:25; it was “at that epoch” or “season”: and such it essentially was, when His rejection, now after His ministry, took a definite form and a decided character. Luke’s statement in chapter 8, of what the Lord says as to John, has also a more moral character, that is, more reference to the moral grounds of rejection, less to the dispensational.
This change of dispensation is brought out in a very important point, in what follows in Matthew. The sabbath was a formal seal of the covenant, “I gave them my sabbaths.” See Ezek. 20:12. These were the intimation of, and based on, the idea of rest in the first creation, and that by man’s obedience under law, and the connection of Israel with God, as a people enjoying promise on the condition of obedience. Not only they had failed, but they had practically rejected the great Repairer of Breaches—the obedient One. The introduction of the facts relative to the sabbath here is only so far out of the chronological place as the introduction of other posterior events has pushed them forward. Their moral place, in connection with the object of the Gospel, the change of dispensation or ground of relationship with God, consequent on the rejection of Jehovah Messiah, is evident. Two great principles are presented;—the Son of man is Lord of the sabbath, and— grace—it is lawful to do good; mercy, not sacrifice, is what God delights in. Some interesting details are connected with it. David’s rejection opened this liberty. Sacred things had become in a measure common. So now where David’s Son was. The priests profaned it in the temple. The glory of Christ’s person was above the temple, as the duties of that, because God was there, were above the sabbath. Had they understood mercy, they would have had moral light, and not condemned those who through the glory of the Son of man were entirely guiltless. His person was above the conventional bond He Himself had formed, His rejection (and Son of man, compare Psalms 8 and 2, implies that), broke it on their part wholly, giving place to this higher and wider title. Thus the sign of the first covenant with Israel, and expression of God’s rest in creation, had found the place in which the truth of man’s and Israel’s state set it. Only sovereign grace took up the hope of rest; and, blessed be His name, through the unchangeable title of His person, above the effect of responsibility in His creation.
The closing scene is then beautifully and solemnly brought out. The Pharisees seek to destroy Him. The judgment of their system, and the introduction of supreme grace, was insupportable. But Christ was not now to execute judgment. He would shew judgment to the Gentiles, but personally then He would not break the bruised reed nor quench the smoking flax till He sent forth judgment to victory. Blind and dumb, healed by His power, are a witness to the people that He is Son of David. The Pharisees, unable to deny it, ascribed the power they cannot deny to Satan; blaspheming the Holy Ghost. For this there was no forgiveness. Sovereign grace may re-create and thus restore Israel; but the tale of its responsible condition is now told. The tree was corrupt. It was an evil and adulterous generation; no sign would be given it but that of the Son of man in the heart of the earth like Jonas, and all their hopes buried with it, to be founded by grace on Him they had rejected. Nineveh and the queen of the south would judge them. The unclean spirit once gone out, would return with worse; their state and judgment would be worse than when they went to Babylon. The Lord then denies all His natural ties with flesh, that is, with Israel, in the person of His mother and brethren, and accepts only the fruit of the word in the residue, as that which belongs to Him.
In Luke 8:19 the circumstance of His mother’s and brethren’s coming is placed at the end of the parable of the sower, bringing out the moral importance of the word without any reference to the rejection of Israel, or mark of date, though there be such found in the English, not in the Greek. The teaching as to Nineveh and Jonas, and the statement as to Beelzebub, is all given together in that part of the Gospel of Luke which is not chronologically arranged, but events put together in their moral bearing, and so applied; chap, 11:14-36. The message of John in Matthew 11, and the internal change connected with it, to the revelation of the Father by the Son, has no place in Mark. If Luke gives the moral change, and Matthew the governmental one, connected with the rejection of Jehovah-Jesus, Messiah, Mark, who shews us the service of the Lord in testimony, does not present this dispensational change in either form. The immediate facts leading to it are of course given by him historically in their place.
We find, therefore, in our Gospel, before the parables (in which the essential service of Christ in the word is given, and the subsequent forms of the kingdom; and in Mark, what is peculiar to him, the entire absence of Christ’s direct ministry when these forms arose)—before this, I say, we find the blasphemy of the Pharisees, and Christ’s preference of His disciples to all natural relationship. What follows the parables in Mark (save His being despised in His own country, which comes in its place in Matthew, and we will consider farther on), we have already seen transposed in Matthew to an earlier part of the history, where we have seen its application to the subject he treats of. The facts I refer to are the crossing in a storm, and the history of Legion which follows; the raising of Jairus’ daughter, which happened on His return; the woman with an issue of blood, which all go together; and the sending out the twelve, which, as we have seen, is given a peculiar importance in Matthew, and is introduced in connection with a most general statement of His ministry, so as to imply no date; Matt. 9:35, 36. But Matthew introduces there, in their proper place relatively to what goes before the displaced series just mentioned, two facts omitted in Luke and Mark, which bore upon his subject in a way already noticed; Matt. 9:27-34. On this follows the general statement of His ministry and sending out of the twelve. Luke, in the main, here follows the order of Mark, that is, gives the history chronologically; Luke 8:22.
The parables we have frequently noticed as beginning a new scene, taking a wholly new ground for Christ as to His own ministry on earth, and as to the kingdom. He comes to sow, not to seek fruit. He brings with Him the only thing which can produce fruit; and the kingdom is not His presence in power, at any rate until the harvest. We get the public result in the world while He is away, and then His aim and object, and the great result under His hand. But the result of His teaching in Israel was to be reckoned the carpenter’s son, and to prove, that in his own country and house the prophet has no honour. This, in Matthew, is in its place only by the transposition of other facts, above noticed, to a preceding part. It is thus brought into direct moral connection with His rejection, and the general effect of His sowing the word. It is not in Luke as a distinct event. In what follows we have a development by facts of the great change taking place, rather than the unfolding of it in figure or teaching, until He opens out the new thing, and then, after that, the closing history comes on. With the evidences of the change already fully taught came the proofs to Israel of the character of Him who was rejected.
First we have the account (chap. 14:1-13) of John’s imprisonment and death by the wicked and apostatising king of Israel, identified with the Gentile power of the west. But this does not diminish (chap. 14:14-31), though taking His full part in the sorrow, Christ’s interest in the shepherdless people. He shews Himself to be that very One who in Israel’s brightest days to come will satisfy the poor with bread (Psalm 132); but withal He dismisses Israel, and, while His disciples are toiling in His absence, is on high to pray; He rejoins them, and all is calm; v. 22, 23. There is such a thing as walking on the water by night to meet Him; but the eye must be fixed on Him. It fails for the earth. He rejoins the ship (the remnant of Israel), and all is calm, and He is owned Son of God. In Gennesaret, where He had been once rejected, He is now received, and all are healed. The death of John Baptist forms no part of Luke’s history; he refers to His imprisonment in closing the account of His ministry quite early in the Gospel; chap. 3. The results follow in the same succession here as in Mark. The greater part of them are not in Luke at all; that is, from the feeding the five thousand to Peter’s confessing Christ; the whole of which forms one subject. The retiring into the desert, in Matthew, consequent on John’s death, is, in Mark, connected with the rest given to the disciples on their return from their mission. In Matthew this mission had been displaced to shew all God’s dealings with Israel in this respect. It is found in chapter 10. What I have spoken of just above (chap. 14), evidently forms a complete subject—a view of all His relationship with Israel from John’s rejection to the millennium.
In chapter 15, we find the question of a Pharisaic righteousness, and tradition opposed to God’s law, and all Israel’s worship as a nation, rejected on Isaiah’s authority. God would have the heart right. To the disciples He denounces the true character of the Pharisees. They had only to leave them alone; with leaders in evil they were to have nothing to do. They were leading Israel into the ditch. The disciples were dull in apprehending this truth; but He explains that truth to them in grace, shewing what man, man’s heart, is. Christ having judged thus the Pharisaic Israel, an important event presents itself. He does not go out of Israel, but goes to the borders of Tyre and Sidon, which He could take elsewhere as a pattern of evil and obduracy. There a woman of the accursed race of Canaan meets Him. She appeals to Him in His character of Heir and Fulfiller of promise: on this ground she has no title, no answer. Christ fully recognised the people in God’s point of view. The bread was the children’s: He is minister of the circumcision. The woman owns it; but alleges there was grace in God, out of pure goodness, which could reach beyond the dogs which had no title. Hence she receives the blessing on the ground of what God was: a principle of immense essential importance, and at this moment opening up a ground of God’s dealings, which was to be the basis of all hope. Hence we see Jesus in the midst of Israel, and owning it, but a perspective of blessing which was founded on what God was in Himself, and applicable to the sorrows of one who had no title at all. In chapter 15:30, 31, the presence of persevering grace and goodness in Israel, so that every ear that could hear, and every heart that could feel, might be reached in spite of the Pharisees, is brought out in the power of Christ in grace, so that they glorified the God of Israel. Instead of this general statement, the force of which is evident as regards the place which Christ still held in respect of Israel, we find in Mark a special miracle of opening of ears, and loosing the tongue of the deaf and dumb man—Christ’s personal power and its character (for He will do this for Israel as He does for us). Hence it is not glorifying the God of Israel there, but Jesus has done all things well—His service and its excellency.
The second time the Lord feeds the multitude, the act is presented in another way from the first, though the power be the same, and its character confirms the view we have taken. This is the case in Mark, as well as in Matthew. The second instance of miraculous feeding is not found in Luke. In the first it is the power of Messiah as King in Israel, and able to give this power to others. There is no need, says the Lord, to send them away, “give ye them to eat.” In the second it is the patient and tender compassion towards Israel, of which we have spoken. The multitude had been long with Him, a,nd He would not let them go fasting away. The number twelve, as elsewhere remarked, is indicative of divine governmental power exercised in man; seven, of spiritual completeness; and such, I doubt not, are their bearings here. This patience of the Lord with Jsrael, though shewn everywhere in fact, was not the subject of Luke’s Gospel; it presents throughout, after the first two chapters, the morally new thing. The third chapter is transitional. The circumstances which followed the feeding the five thousand, in chapter 14, and subsequent reception when He had been rejected before; His absence on high, while the disciples were toiling on the sea, referring to the change which should take place in His relationship with Israel, have no place here; for it is His patient grace where that change has been already witnessed of and shewn. Indeed, what follows is the expression of the fact, that it is now already brought to light. The two great classes which composed the nation desire a sign: He refuses it; they could discern the sky, but not this time; they should have none but Jonas, and He leaves them; and warning His disciples against them, brings out the witness of their dulness to profit by their teaching. This closes this part of the history, and introduces the witness as to the entirely new order of things, which a rejected Saviour was going to set up—the church, and administration of the kingdom of heaven on the earth.
In Luke the demand of a sign is found, with other similar statements, and the Ninevites and queen of Sheba, in the general instructions of chapter 11. The prophetic doctrine as to the church and the keys of the kingdom of heaven is found only in Matthew. The Father had revealed to Peter the person of Christ, and Christ gave him his place in the kingdom.
Here the disciples are forbidden to announce Jesus any more as the Messiah; and the Lord henceforth tells them of His suffering, death, and resurrection; and next shews them the glory and character of the kingdom in the world to come; the law and prophets disappearing and leaving Christ to be heard as Son of God. Thus we have Christ—no more to be announced—the future glory of the Son of man—and the Son of God to be heard now, the law and prophets disappearing. All this is directly associated with the glory that was to take place on His rejection. They were not to tell of it till He was risen. His (as to the Jews) provisional but rejected coming is illustrated by that of Elias in John the Baptist. What is said here of Elias, forms no part of this instruction in Luke; for there it is more moral power which forms the subject, and not dispensational history. We find, after the transfiguration, the anticipated display of the kingdom in heaven, the power of Satan manifested; the disciples were not able to cast him out. This marks the incapacity to avail themselves of Christ’s presence here on earth as the reason of His departure; a solemn lesson in any dispensation of God. As yet, Christ Himself still exercises His patient power. The promise is given of displacing the most apparently solid seat of power if faith were there. This is remarkable after their incapacity to do the smallest thing when He was there. This is only in Matthew. In Luke there follows the judgment of the various forms in which selfishness displays itself. In all the three Gospels the cross is taught. In Matthew there follows a circumstance which gives its character to all this part of the Gospel of Matthew only—blessedly associating the disciples with Christ. As children of the great King, they were free from the tribute paid to Him (the temple Didrachma), but which then, not to offend, He will pay. He shews divine knowledge, and divine power over creation, but He is subject; and He puts Peter into the same rank of son with Himself. Thus we have the church and the kingdom in administration and in glory. The matter of the didrachma had shewn in what spirit the true sons of the kingdom were to walk till it came in power.
Thereon (chap. 18) follows a series of incidents opening out this walk, and with a good deal of detail. The principles which should govern this walk personally and collectively are taught, the assembly of disciples taking definitely the place of the synagogue as to being within and without. This is peculiar to Matthew, as introducing here the new institutions of God. Others are found dispersed in Luke, in their place, as general moral instructions, which character they also have. In particular we have the unprofitableness of flesh, but the relationship God formed in it owned. These general instructions go to the end of chapter 15:28. As to the order of it in Matthew, there is no particular remark to make. It follows as in Mark. The general instruction of leaving all, and taking up the cross, is also found in a similar way, put before the last part of the Lord’s history at Jerusalem, which begins with His passing through Jericho; Matt. 19:16; 20:19; Luke 18:15, and following. They naturally precede historically His own rejection; but in Luke a mass of instruction comes in between the last chronologically stated fact (chap. 10:17) and this, with much as to God’s ways in grace peculiar to Him; with parts, however, of what we find here in Matthew, dispersed among other matter, according to the subject spoken of.
A few of the points in Matthew call for particular notice. The spirit of a child is the pattern of a Christian. God has His eyes on little children with special favour. They are to be received in Christ’s name. It is not the Father’s will they should perish; not that they are not lost in nature: but Christ came to save the lost sheep. The parable of the lost sheep is applied to them. This last part, as to God’s dispensation as to them, is peculiar to Matthew. Next, extreme jealousy as to occasions of falling, in oneself; care not to stumble the weak; the means to be taken to preserve godly order as to wrongs done, are prescribed; and here the church, i.e., two or three assembled in Christ’s name, is introduced as taking its place. It thus becomes the new centre—completely takes the place of the synagogue. What is there bound on earth is ratified in heaven, and what agreed thus to be sought on earth given from heaven. The two or three assembled in Christ’s name become a constituted institution, sealed, when real, by the sanction and authority of heaven, and the inside or outside of it takes the place of Jew and heathen. This is peculiar to Matthew; this is extended to the spirit of personal forgiveness as regards the individual. Compare for both 1 Corinthians 6. But the kingdom of heaven (not the church) is hence like the King who forgives and afterwards brings all on the guilty where the principles of His own conduct were not accepted and imitated. Thus the Jews (with whom on Christ’s intercession God dealt in grace, forgiving them the ten thousand talents, refusing grace towards the Gentiles) came under the full guilt of all as to God’s ways with them as to the kingdom. But the principle is now morally true, save the general principle stated elsewhere; this also is peculiar to Matthew.
The teaching of the Lord on marriage, is not in Luke, referring, as it does, to the peculiar instructions of Judaism. The latter part which introduces the special power of the new thing, while sanctioning God’s original and gracious institution, is in Matthew alone, 1 Corinthians 7 answers to this. The case of the children and of the young man, in which nature as God created it is held blessed; the law, as applied to man (second table), shewn to be the path of life, if nature could keep it, is found in all. Sovereign grace is needed for being saved, for flesh is fallen and evil; and seeks, if outwardly blameless, its delight elsewhere than in God. This is more briefly stated in Luke, as a great general principle. The answer to Peter on this point, in Matthew, has this also in particular, that it introduces the dispensational glory hereafter in the kingdom, and thereon adds the parable of the householder and labourers, to guard, by sovereign grace and goodness, against the tendency to turn the encouragement afforded by reward into a claim of self-righteousness. It is on the seizing of this, and through this, and the already stated principle of the first last, and last first, depends. Only grace, and because it is grace, inverts it, and puts last first: while the former states the shortcoming of nature, that first shall be thus last.
The last events now approach, and Christ sets out on His way to Jerusalem. Here, all the three Gospels are together: only the request of Zebedee’s children is not found in Luke. This connects itself with the cross of which He had been speaking; and the sovereignty of God, giving to whom He would. Christ’s answer is the manifestation of His perfect meekness in humiliation—His absolute subjection to the will of His Father—His perfectness, as put to the test in motive, and obedience, and self-renunciation. He could lead His disciples into suffering with Him, and tell them it would be so; but for the reward, as to their place and glory in the kingdom, He must refer them to the Father. But while the expression of perfectness in Jesus, it gave a moral character to the exaltation also. The least in self would be the greatest there. He came in perfect love, not to be honoured, and to give His life a ransom for many. Nor would there be thus merely Jews in the kingdom, according to their then hopes, and His presence on the earth. The redemption work in love was now about to be accomplished. This closed up the full character of the change, and the real work He came to do. In what follows the Lord takes again the Jewish character, because He was for the last time, and in order to suffer, presenting Himself to the people.
This last history is, in all the three Gospels, introduced by His healing the blind man on the roadside by Jericho. Jericho itself has a peculiar character in Jewish history. The first opposing power to Israel’s taking possession of promise; marked with a curse as the seat of the power of evil when the power was overcome; visited by Elijah on his way to Jordan and glory; healed by Elisha on his return to Israel, when the glorifying of Elijah had been accomplished:—it had the stamp of a certain initiatory character in God’s relationship with the land of promise, not the direct title of blessing, but the way of blessing, through the curse, and the meeting the power of evil. Here the Lord, just as He was called out of Egypt, begins His last presentation to Israel. He heals the blind under the name of the Son of David—heals them who under that name called on Him for mercy, in persevering faith, in spite of the multitude. He had compassion on them. Luke adds here mercy to the chief publican, and the Jewish correction of the idea of the kingdom, announcing His departure, the responsibility of His servants, and the judgment upon His citizens, who, when He was gone, sent after Him, to say they would not have Him to reign over them.
The riding into Jerusalem on the ass’s colt, follows, then, alike in all the three Gospels—His presentation to Zion as king, according to Zechariah. Some details are given in Mark; His survey of the temple, and going out again, and returning the next day, when He cleanses it. The general fact is merely stated in Matthew: that is, the result of His royal visitation as Jehovah the king, without holding to the order, for the fig-tree was cursed before He cleansed the temple. In Luke He weeps over the city; that evangelist again, as he is wont, presenting the Lord’s moral grace and tenderness, the kindness of Jehovah. The cursing of the fig-tree is not in Luke. This is dispensational, the judgment of fruitless Judaism, as under the old covenant, adding with it the power that would accompany faith in God, in the new thing to be set up. The whole, apparently stable, power of that system would disappear. And so it has. What follows is common to the three Gospels: but there are characteristic traits. The question of authority in the priest is met by their avowed incompetency as to John. The parable of the two sons is peculiar to Matthew. It is the Lord’s judgment as to the fruit of His work among the Jews, His judgment of these last.
The parable of the husbandman, and the revelation of the rejected stone, are next in all three Gospels: the various classes of persons in Israel come up for judgment. But this parable is general: referring to aft that were active in the vineyard the Lord had planted. This was taken from the Jews. Broken now by stumbling on the stone, they would be ground to powder when He should fall on them, that is, all on whom it should; for, indeed, they will not then be alone, as they were in the stumbling on the stone. But responsibility to bear fruit was not all. They had rejected gracious invitations to the marriage of the king’s son. This is not in Mark. In Luke 14 there is a similar parable. I am not quite clear whether it is the same. It is, if so, introduced in Luke in its place, and its absence from Mark here accounted for. It is not introduced in Matthew, with any connection of time or circumstance, as having been spoken at this time. Its place, as to the judgment of the Jews, is evident. They are judged in it for the rejection of grace, as they are in the parable of the husbandman for failure in producing fruit.
Some circumstances are added in Matthew, and which are important as to the judicial dealings of God, which are wholly omitted in Luke: while the moral tone and pursuit of grace, in spite of evil, is more largely delineated in Luke. The contrast of the dealings of God with Jews and Gentiles, with which last the house is filled, and the judgment, both of Jews and professing Christendom, is what characterises Matthew. The difference of the two parables in Luke and Matthew will make us sensible of the characteristic difference of what is given of God in the two Gospels. I will enter, therefore, into the details of each, sufficiently to shew it. In Matthew it is a similitude of the kingdom of heaven. In Matthew, we have two messages; those, I doubt not, of the apostles in the lifetime of Christ, and of the same after His death, when all was accomplished and ready. It is, in a general way, made light of. By others, the servants are ill-treated and slain. Thereupon the murderers (the Jews) are slain, and their city destroyed. This is the judgment on the Jews and Jerusalem. Then the message is sent out to the highways (the Gentiles), and the wedding furnished. There a person is found (many are called, but few chosen) not having personally what belonged to and suited the wedding, and he is cast out into outer darkness. This is, evidently, more than an earthly dispensational judgment. In Luke, a certain man makes a great supper: it is not for the king’s son, nor the kingdom of heaven. The two first summons of Matthew come together, in general, or are absorbed in one; the moral details of excuse are given, and there is no slaying and ill-treating of servants. There the poor of the city (that is, among the Jews) are sought out; but this does not fill the house, and the highways and hedges are sent to (the Gentiles), and the house filled. There is no judgment of the Jews, nor of the unworthy guests. The moral character in grace of the parable in Luke, is evident; the dispensational dealing in Matthew, equally so. Only the Jewish rejecters do not taste of the supper. We can well suppose it to be a different parable, though the Holy Ghost gives us but a very small part of what was done and said, and even of one and the same discourse only what instructs on the point in hand.
Next, the Pharisees and Herodians are judged, the opposed classes among the Jews, of strict and temporising Jews. Christ puts the Jewish position (and, indeed, of everyone) on the true ground; I mean as to their real relationship to the Gentile power or empires. Next, the Sadducees are judged, and the true nature of the resurrection shewn, and from Moses himself; only Luke, in addition, gives here a clear statement of the connection of the resurrection with the age to come; and, at the same time, affirms the abiding intermediate state of the soul. Next, the essence of the law is taught. The same instruction is found in the general teaching in Luke, not in the parallel place to this, and the parable of the good Samaritan is annexed. But this, I apprehend, was another statement to the same effect, as may easily be conceived. The true substance of the law being stated, the position the Christ was to take, unintelligible for the Pharisee, and consequent on His rejection, is then brought out, and silences the pretended wisdom of the Jewish teachers. The Lord’s instruction is drawn from Psalm no. It is easy to see how this closes, with the most perfect fitness, these remarkable interviews.
But, in Matthew’s Gospel, which certainly goes over to the future hopes of Israel, while judging its present state, as we have seen (chap. 10), we have, with the general instruction to beware of scribes, a remarkable passage, recognising their official status and authority. They sit in Moses’ seat, Yet the actual practical judgment is more full and terrible; and to this is added, that, as they excused themselves from the guilt of the prophet’s death, such would be sent (apostles, prophets, etc.) to them, and they would be put to the test on this point also, that, the wickedness being come to its height, the blood of all righteous men, from the blood of Abel to the blood of Zacharias the prophet, might be demanded of this generation. This is peculiar to Matthew, and shews that a ministry was sent to the Jewish nation, as such, in the apostles and prophets of the New Testament, ending in the judgment of the nation. The connection of this with God’s dealings with the Jews, as taught in this Gospel, is evident, and important for understanding other passages and dealings of God. In Mark this warning as to the scribes is very generally and briefly given.
The plaint over Jerusalem is not found in Mark. It is in Luke: but when Christ was in Galilee, and warned by the Pharisees, because of Herod. Its appositeness to Matthew’s subject here is evident. It is, word for word, the same as in Luke, save that Luke says, “till [the time] come that,” instead of “till”: and Matthew adds “henceforth” after “ye shall not see me.” I cannot doubt it is the same saying. I apprehend that it is introduced in Matthew in connection with the subject treated of, rather than in historical order of time. It is introduced without any verbal connection with the history whatever. However, I do not speak with any positiveness. It is in Luke, in the general, and, as to order of time, unhistorical part of the Gospel.
Mark and Luke relate here an incident omitted by Matthew— the widow’s mite. It naturally belonged to Luke’s Gospel to introduce it in its place, which is the same it has in Mark. It did not enter into the special teaching of Matthew here, as to the destruction and judgment of Jerusalem, and the dealings of God with the Jewish nation, as such.
In the two following chapters of Matthew (24, 25), we have a complete view of the state of things consequent on the Lord’s absence, and His judgment on His return, including general directions and warnings for the conduct of disciples during this period. In Matthew it is much more complete dispensationally than in Mark and Luke. The four parables added in Matthew instruct us in what relates to Christians, and to the Gentiles on the Lord’s return to earth; so that the whole scene is opened to us. Luke and Mark contain only the warnings to the disciples, viewed in connection with the Jews. In this part, also, there is a difference.
Mark, in the main, resembles Matthew; but there is a less exact division into what is general, and what refers to the final state of Jerusalem. Much—though that final state is spoken of—might be applied generally; and it is much more personally addressed for service. Hence there is found there (what Matthew omits) a direction as to what they are to trust to, when called up before governors, adding details as to evil and treachery, which, in Matthew, are found in the directions given, as we have seen, for the whole course of the disciples’ ministry among the Jews, from beginning to end, in chapter 10. Compare Mark 13:11, seq., and Matthew 10:19, seq. Hence the question also is different in Matthew. There is added to the inquiry, when the destruction of the temple should be, “What is the sign of thy coming, and the end of the age?” Hence the direct application of the answer in Mark and Luke, is to the present service of the disciples: though, in both, it goes on to the end. In Mark, similarly to Matthew; and in Luke distinguishing very clearly the destruction by Titus and the subsequent events. There is more than one difference in Mark; verse 10 of chapter 13 does not end as Matthew 24:14: “then shall the end come.” (The question went only to the destruction of Jerusalem.) Compare Mark 16:15, 20. Then the passage of Matthew 10 comes in. The abomination of desolation stands merely where it ought not. There is the absence of precision in the epoch of the signs; “in those days after that tribulation.” These circumstances shew, that though the close is certainly given, it is not the object. The Lord’s exhortation closes with “What I say unto you, I say unto all, Watch.”
The present testimony is spoken of in Luke 21. There is no abomination of desolation; the days of vengeance come, no unequalled tribulation. Jerusalem is trodden down and led captive, until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled. There is no question of an end coming. Verse 25, unconnected in period with what precedes, introduces the coming of the Son of man. The nearness then of the kingdom, and the exhortation to watch, closes the passage.
In our Gospel, Matthew 24, we have the general testimony of disciples among the Jews, with the fact of the gospel of the kingdom, which Christ had preached, going to all nations, bringing in the close. The bringing before kings and rulers, etc., belongs to chapter 10. Then the special last half-week of Daniel is entered into in detail, the great tribulation with false Christs, etc., closing with the immediate coming of the Son of man. The elect of Israel are gathered from all lands. To verse 44 practical warnings are given. In verses 45-51 we have the service of the disciples, in their own responsible relationship within to the household (and, hence, practically Christendom), brought out. The result is, “the servant is made ruler of all,” on the one hand; or hierarchical connection with the spirit of the world ends in his judgment as a hypocrite, on the other. The parable of the virgins (chap. 25) gives the original calling of Christians, and their return to it: the talents, the liberty of divinely given ministry. The words “in which the Son of man cometh,” are omitted in all the best texts. Verse 31 of chapter 25 continues from verse 31 of chapter 24, and gives the judgment of the nations who have heard the gospel of the kingdom. Thus, the whole scene, from the service of the disciples, consequent on Christ’s death—that is, the testimony among the Jews, the responsibility of the disciples when things took the Christian form; the last testimony amongst, and judgment of the nations, with the special week of tribulation, and coming of the Son of man— are all clearly brought out.
The Lord’s preparing for death then comes on. It was two days before the passover. Luke is much more brief here. He leaves out the anointing by Mary; and the general fact of the priests consulting Judas going and accepting money, Satan’s influence over him, and his seeking to betray the Lord, are briefly stated all together, as an introduction to the whole scene. The local scene is much less given. All the moral character, and incidents, and heavenly result, are much more fully stated; as the thief on the cross, with the intermediate state, and other circumstances. It is usual with Luke to give the historical facts briefly and synoptically, and enlarge on special moral details. Mark and Matthew go together in order and contents. The statement of Jesus, that He could have twelve legions of angels, and Judas going and hanging himself; Pilate’s wife’s message: his washing his hands, are all omitted by Mark; as are also the opening of the graves, and the resurrection of the saints. Otherwise, the accounts are uniform. We find in both the council of priests, the woman’s anointing Christ, Judas’ going to the chief priests, the meeting to eat the Passover (His conversation at table), the Lord’s supper (only remission of sins is not in Mark), the going to the mount of Olives, the warning to Peter, Christ’s prayer in Gethsemane, His appearing before Caiaphas, Peter’s denial, Christ’s appearing before Pilate, His mocking by soldiers, His crucifixion and death, with its effects on the centurion and His burial. Matthew adds, at the close, the account of sealing the stone, and setting a watch at the sepulchre.
In Luke we have many moral circumstances added, giving a different character to several points. As regards the passover, He speaks of its fulfilling in the kingdom of God, giving a present character to the effect, instead of leading onward to the world to come. Matthew and Mark had not this at all. So of the fruit of the vine. In Luke the Lord does not speak of drinking it new in the kingdom, but says, previously, He will not drink of it till the kingdom of God be come. The desire to partake of it with them, and the Nazarite character in connection with this (v. 16-18) are added, and besides the institution itself, the inquiry who should betray Him is just stated and no more; but the strife, who should be the greatest, is found here only, giving a peculiar insight into their state, and the moral position of Jesus and its consequences. The sifting of the disciples by Satan, and its connection with Simon’s fall, is found also in Luke only; the change in their position as to the apparent care He would take of them also; His human dependence, and the extreme character of His sufferings in Gethsemane, that is, the angel’s strengthening Him and His agony and sweat as drops of blood, are carefully presented to us, while the circumstances are very briefly given, and are all much more fully in Matthew.
The circumstances of His answer to the chief priests are quite summarily related in Luke 22:66-71. The coming in the clouds of heaven, the future kingdom, is also omitted. It is the present position of Christ only which is noticed. Note—Both in Matthew and Luke, instead of “Hereafter” must be read, “Henceforth shall the Son of man sit,” or “ye shall see the Son of man sitting,” that is, He was taking now this new position. The answer before Pilate is related briefly in Luke, like the betrayal and His appealing before Caiaphas; and in its general effect; but the sending before Herod is found in his Gospel only. Royal apostate Judaism comes into the scene. The daughters of Jerusalem, and the Lord’s answer to them, are found here only also. The intercession of Christ on the cross for the Jews, answered in Peter’s sermon, the beautiful incident of the thief also are found, both of them in Luke only, as well as Jesus commending His spirit to His Father, that is, His confidence in His Father as a man. The centurion owns Him to be a righteous man. These are the chief peculiarities, and, as many have been seen, not unimportant ones, of Luke.
We now arrive at the circumstances attending the resurrection, which are different in each Gospel, and evidently enough connected with the object of each. For instance, the ascension is left out in Matthew, and Christ is associated with His disciples in Galilee, the place of His visiting the remnant, the connection with which is maintained all through Matthew, as in chapters 10 and 24. The first verse of chapter 28, I apprehend, was Saturday evening when Sabbath was past; the second relates to an event not in immediate connection with their visit when they came in the morning. The stone was already rolled away. Indeed Mary Magdalene seems to have been there before the others, while it was yet dark, and the stone was already gone. Matthew puts with the women’s visit, in a general way, yet in a distinct paragraph, the effect of the circumstances attending the rolling away the stone: how the keepers trembled at the visiting of the tomb by the angel to roll it away; whereas, when the women came, the angel answered and said, “Fear not ye.” They are told to go and tell the disciples He would go into Galilee, and they would see Him there. Jesus meets them as they return, and tells them the same thing. We are then shewn the final and wilful obstinacy of the nation in rejecting the testimony of their own instruments, which they knew and believed to be true. Christ joins the disciples in Galilee. There, in virtue of all power being given Him in heaven and earth, they receive their commission to go and make disciples of all the nations: the mission is now extended to the Nations, not confined to Israel; they were to baptize them in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, the great dispensational christian revelation, to teach them to observe what Christ had commanded, and He would be with them to the end of the age. This mission rested on the fact of all power being Christ’s in heaven and on earth, and extended the previous missions of the remnant, instituting one which embraced the nations at large. These were to be made disciples of. The account is very general and brief, only adding how the stone was rolled away to the other accounts; the whole else is the meeting in Galilee and consequent mission. This is the more remarkable, as Matthew must have been present at what John relates of Jesus appearing in their midst at Jerusalem.
Mark leads us at once to the morning of the first day, at the rising of the sun: and we have the details, as to the women, of what Matthew only gave the general result of. The same message is given: but it is not followed up farther. The meeting with Mary Magdalene, of which we have the details in John, is stated, and that of the two disciples going to Emmaus, of which Luke gives the details; also the general fact of His appearing to the twelve together at meat, of which we have details in Luke and John. We have then, His resurrection having been recounted, the universal mission and continuation of service in the power of Christ Himself, the consequence of faith and public acknowledgement of Christ on one side, and of the refusal of the gospel on the other. The fact of His ascension and session at the right hand of God; their going forth to preach everywhere, according to the mission and of the power which accompanied their service according to promise, are then recorded. This, while connecting the accounts of all the Gospels, as to the proofs of His resurrection, has the character of service and testimony, which we have seen belong to Mark.
The commencement of the account in Luke is pretty much the same as in Mark and Matthew: the women go to the sepulchre, and are told by the angels that He is risen; but no details are given, only it is said in general that the women told the apostles and the rest, and that Peter ran to the sepulchre. But we have large and interesting details as to the two who go to Emmaus: there is nothing as to going into Galilee. But two very important points are brought out, not in the other Gospels. He opens their understandings to understand the scriptures, and they are to wait at Jerusalem until they are endued with power from on high; the two essential and necessary means of christian service, as it has always to go on. The apparition to Simon, mentioned by Paul, 1 Corinthians 15, is also mentioned, and, briefly, the Lord’s coming into their midst when assembled. The corporeal reality, though it was now a spiritual body of His human nature, is very prominently brought out: He was still a living man with flesh and bones. He explains the Old Testament as to Himself, both on the way to Emmaus and here. His death and resurrection are shewn as in the mind of God, and repentance and remission of sins were to be preached to all the nations, beginning, according to the dispensation of God, and in grace, with the “Jew first.” All connection with Galilee is omitted. He begins afresh with Jerusalem as from heaven, and so with all nations.
It is the gospel as we know it has been preached, and (leaving out the church) as Paul preached it; and the Acts present it to us. The account goes on as if Christ went out that same first day to Bethany, and that He then ascended thence—so entirely is Galilee left out. Yet Luke is he who in the Acts lets us know Christ rested forty days before He ascended; but he gives, by divine wisdom, like the others, what the truth was he was given to teach. Christ leaves them for heaven, blessing as He leaves. As to the first effect, while full of joy, they are daily in the temple. There Christianity had its cradle and its birthplace. The character of the close of the Gospel is evident. Bethany was the place Christ frequented the last week before He suffered: the home of His beloved ones in grace, where He was anointed for death—where He shewed Himself Son of God in resurrection. This He transfers to heaven, and blesses as He goes up. They associate all with the temple. This was more than tarrying at Jerusalem, or beginning with it. What a true picture of it all! How much more we learn here of the great truths of Christianity connected with His resurrection than in Matthew or Mark. It is not simply the fact, nor continuing the scene or connection in which He had been, or merely extending it. John has as we know, while full in this part of the Lord’s history, quite another character. Surely this comparison of the Gospels, and of the details as their contents, throws much light on the purpose of the Gospels, and of each of them distinctively, and abundantly confirms the divine inspiration of all, because the mind of God shines all through their structure.
[End Of Expository—Volume 3.]
50 Remark, that the Gospel of Matthew begins with this genealogy; for, coming in the way of promise, the connection of Christ with the stock of promise was the foundation-stone of His position. In Luke, the genealogy is not till chapter 4 and goes up to Adam. The connection is with man. What precedes, is a very full and most interesting statement of every element of the actual condition of Israel. Then begins the Son of man’s history—grace.
51 It is a common practice with Luke, to give events briefly and synoptically, and then expatiate on the details of some one point which brings out moral principles and feelings.