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acknowledgment of the Lord Jesus Christ, and dependence on him for salvation, and attachment to him, in every proper manner. The scriptures mean, by a profession of religion, an exhibition of it in every circumstance of the life, and before all men. If we are ashamed of Christ, if we deny him before men, or are unwilling to express our attachment to him in every way possible, then it is right that he should disown all connexion with us, or deny us, before God. And he will do it.
34 Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace but a sword. 35 For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter in law against her mother in law. 36 And a man's foes shall be they of his own houshold.
See Micah vii. 6. Christ did not here mean to say that the object of his coming was to produce discord and contention ; for he was the Prince of Peace, Isa. ix. 6. Luke ii. 14. But he means to say that such would be the effect of his coming. One part of a family that was opposed to him, would set themselves against those who believed in him. The wickedness of men is the cause of this hostility, and not the religion of the gospel, ‘But a sword.' The sword is an instrument of death, and to send a sword, is the same as to produce hostility and war.
37 He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.
'He that loveth father or mother,' &c. The meaning is clear. Christ must be loved supremely, or he is not loved at all. If we are not willing to give up all earthly possessions, and forsake all earthly friends; and if we do not obey him rather than all others, we have no true attachment to him. Is not worthy of me.' Is not fit to be regarded as a follower of me; or is not a christian.
38 And he that taketh not his cross, and followeth after me, is not worthy of me.
When persons were condemned to be crucified, a part of the sentence was that they should carry the cross on which they were to die, to the place of execution. So, to carry the cross is a figurative expression, denoting that we must endure whatever is burdensome, or trying, or considered as disgraceful, in following Christ. It consists simply in doing our duty, let the world think of it, or speak of it as they may. li is doing just what is required of us in the scriptures, let it produce whatever shame, disgrace, or pain it may. This every follower of Jestis is required to do.
39 He that findeth his life shall lose it: and he that loseth his life for my sake shall find it.
The word 'life' in this passage is used evidently in two senses, The meaning may be expressed thus: He that is anxious to save his temporal life, or his comfort and security here, shall lose his eternal life; or shall fail of obtaining heaven. He that is willing to risk, or lose his comfort and life here, for my sake, shall find life everlasting, or shall be saved.
40 He that receiveth you receiveth me, and he that receiveth me receiveth him that sent me. 41 He that receiveth a prophet in the name of a prophet shall receive a prophet's reward; and he that receiveth a righteous man in the name of a righteous man shall receive a righteous man's reward. 42 And whosoever shall give to drink unto one of these little ones a cup of cold water only in the name of a disciple, verily I say unto you, He shall in no wise lose his reward.
In all these three illustrations Christ meant to teach substantially the same thing, that he who would entertain kindly, or treat with hospitality, his disciples, or himself, a prophet, or a righteous man, would show that he approved their character, would show attachment to them, and should not fail of obtaining proper reward. To receive in the name of a prophet, is to receive as a prophet; to do proper honour to his character; and to evince attachment to the cause in which he was engaged. “These little ones.' By these are meant his disciples. They are called little ones, to denote their want of wealth, rank, learning, and whatever the world calls great. They were little in the estimation of the world, and in their own estimation. They were learners, not yet teachers; and they made no pretensions to what attracts the admiration of mankind. A cup of cold water only. Few would refuse a cup of cold water to any man, if thirsty and weary; and yet few would give it to such an one because he was a christian, or to express attachment to the Lord Jesus. In bestowing it on a man because he was a christian, he would show love to the Saviour himself; in the other case; he would give it from mere sympathy or kindness. In one case, he would show that he loved the cause of religion; in the other, not. What more easy than to give a cup of water to a stranger; and what more easy than to know from what motive we do it. Yet how many are there who, while they would do the thing, would yet lose eternal life, rather than do it with a view of honouring Christ, or showing attachment to him. How dreadful is the opposition of the human heart to religion !
CHAPTER XI. I AND it came to pass, when Jesus had made an end of commanding his twelve disciples, he departed thence to teach and to preach in their cities. 2 Now when John had heard in the prison the works of Christ, he sent two of his disciples,
The account contained in this chapter of Matthew, to the 19th verse, is found, with no material variation, in Luke vii. 18—35. John was in prison. Herod had thrown him into confinement, on account of John's faithfulness in reproving him for marrying his brother Philip's wife. See Matt. xiv. 3, 4.
3 And said unto him, Art thou he that should come, or do we look for another?
'That is, art thou the Messiah, or the Christ. The Jews expected a SaviourHis coming had been long foretold, Gen. xlix. 10. Isa. xxxv. 4. Dan. ix. 21. John vi. 14. In common language therefore he was described as He that was to come. Luke auds here, Luke vii. 21, that at the time when the messengers came to him, Jesus cured many persons of their infirmities, and plagues, and of evil spirits. An answer was therefore ready to the inquiries of John's disciples.
4 Jesus answered and said unto them, Go and show John again those things which ye do hear and see: 5 The blind receive their sight, and the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, and the poor have the gospel preached to them.
Jesus referred them for an answer to these miracles. No prophet had wrought so many, or so important. Jesus, moreover, wrought them in his own name, and by his own power. Prophets had done it by the power of God. Jesus therefore performed the works which none but the Messiah could do ; and John's disciples might easily infer that he was the Christ. The poor have the gospel preached to them.. It was predicted of the Messiah, that he would preach good tidings to the meek, Isa Ixi. 1; or as it is rendered in the New Testament, preach the gospel to the poor, Luke iv. 18. It adds to the force of this testimony, that the poor have always been overlooked by pharisees and philosophers. No sect of philosophers had condescended to notice them before Christ; and no system of religion had attempted to instruct them, before the christian religion.
6 And blessed is he, whosoever shall not be offeniled
See note Matt. v, 29. This verse might be rendered - happy is he to whom I shali not prove a stumbling-block! That is, happy is he who shall not take offence at my poverty and lowliness of life, so as to reject me and my doctrine. Happy is he who can, notwithstanding that poverty and obscurity, see the evidence that I am the Messiah, and follow me.
7 And as they departed, Jesus began to say unto the multitudes concerning John, What went ye out into the wilderness to see ? A reed shaken with the wind?
Jesus took occasion from the inquiries made by John's disciples, to instruct the people respecting the true character of John. Ît is probable that many had been attracted by the novelty of his appearance or doctrines. He took occasion therefore by some striking questions to examine the motives by which they had been drawn to his ministry. 'A reed shaken with the wind ?' An image of a light, changing, inconstant man. John's sending his disciples to Christ, to inquire his character, might have led some to suppose that he was changing and inconstant. He had once acknowledged him to be the Messiah. Jesus, by asking this question, declared, that this was not the character of John.
8 But what went ve out for to see? A man clothed in soft raiment? behold, they that wear soft clothing are in kings' houses.
The kind of raiment here denoted was the light, thin clothing worn by effeminate persons. This kind of clothing was an emblem of riches, splendour, effeminacy, and feebleness of character. He meant to say that John was a man of a different stamp: coarse in his exterior; hardy in his character; firm in his virtue ; fitted to endure trials and privations, and thus qualified to be the forerunner of the toiling and suffering Messiah.
9 But what went ye out for to see ? A prophet ? yea, I say unto you, and more than a prophet.
A prophet ?: They had regarded him as such; and Jesus tells them that in this their apprehensions of him were correct. “More than a prophet.' Sustaining a character more elevated and sacred than the most distinguished of the ancient prophets. He lived in the time of the Christ. He predicted his coming with more clearness than even Isaiah himself. He was the instrument of introducing him to the nation. He was therefore first among the prophets.
10 For this is he, of whom it is written, Behold, I send my messenger before thy face, which shall prepare thy way before thee.
'For this is he,' &c. See Matt. iii. 1. Isa. xl. 3. Prepare thy way. That is, Prepare the people and make them ready, by proper instructions, to receive the Messiah.
11 Verily I say unto you, Among them that are born of women there hath not risen a greater than John the Baptist : notwithstanding he that is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.
*Them that are born of women.' This is an emphatic way of saying that there had never been a greater man than John. See Job xiv. 1. 'He that is least in the kingdom of heaven, is greater than he.' Of the apostles of the Saviour, of the first preachers, who were with him, who heard his instructions, it might be said, that they had more correct apprehensions than any of the ancient prophets, or John.
12 And from the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffereth violence, and the violent take it by force,
“And from the days of John,' &c. That is, from the days when John began to 'preach. See Matt. iii. 5.' So, says he, it has continued. Since the kingdom of heaven, or the gospel, has been preachred, there has been a rush to it. Men have been earnest about it; they have come pressing to obtain the blessing, as if they would take it by force." There is allusion here to the inanner in which cities were taken. Besiegers pressed upon them with violence, and demolished the walls, and captured them, With such earnestness and violence, he says, men had pressed around him and John, since they began to preach.
13 For all the prophets and the law prophesied until John.
John introduced a new dispensation. By the law' is meant the five books of Moses; by 'the prophets, the remainder of the books of the Old Testament.
14 And if ye will receive it, this is Elias, which was for to come.
'If ye will receive it... Impiying that the doctrine which he was about to state was different from their common views; and therefore, they might be disposed to reject it. “This is Elias,' &c. That is, Elijah. Elias is the Greek mode of writing the Hebrew word Elijah. The prophet Malachi, ch. iv. 5, 6, predicted that Elijah should be sent before the coming of the Messiah, to prepare the way for him. By this was evidently meant, not that he should appear in person, but that one should appear with a, striking resemblance to him; or, as Luke, ch. i. 17, expresses it, in the spirit and power of Elijah.' But the Jews expected that