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give decisive evidence of attacnment to me, ana shall enter into heaven.
23 But when they persecute you in this city, flee ye into another: for verily I say unto you, Ye shall not have gone over the cities of Israel, till the Son of man be come.
They were not permitted to throw away their lives. Where they could preserve them without denying their Lord, they were to do it. We are to preserve our lives by all proper means; but rather die, than save ourselves by doing any thing wrong. Ye shall not have gone over the cities of Israel,' &c. That is, in fleeing from persecutors, from one city to another, you shall not have gone to every city in Judea, till the destruction of Jerusalem, and the end of the Jewish economy. See note on Matt. xxiv. 28 --30. By the coming of the Son of man, that is, of Christ, is probably meant the destruction of Jerusalem, which happened about thirty years after this was spoken. The words are often used in this sense. See Matt. xxiv. 30. Mark xiii. 26. Luke xxi. 21—32.
24 The disciple is not above his master, nor the servant above his lord. 25 It is enough for the disciple that he be as his master, and the servant as his lord. If they have called the master of the house Beelzebub, how much more shall they call them of his household ?
"The disciple is not above his Master,' &c. That is, you must expect the same treatment which I have received. See Matt. xii. 24. Luke xi. 15. John viii. 48. 'Beelzebub,' or Beelzebul, was a god of the Ekronites. See 2 Kings i. 2. The word literally means the god of flies, so called because this idol was supposed to protect them from the numerous swarms of flies with which that country abounded. The word also signified, among the Jews, the god of filth, and was esteemed as the lowest and most offensive of all the idol gods. Hence the name was given to the leader, or prince of all the devils, Luke xi. 15. Mark iii. 22. By giving the name to Christ, they poured upon him the greatest possible abuse and contempt.
26 Fear them not therefore : for there is nothing covered, that shall not be revealed; and hid, that shall riot be known.
There is nothing covered,' &c. It is probable that this declaration was a proverb among the Jews. By it our Saviour meant, that their innocence, their principles, and their integrity, though then the world might not acknowledge them, yet, in due time, should be revealed. They were to be willing to be unknown,
despised, persecuted, for a time, with the assurance that their true characters should yet be manifest.
27 What I tell you in darkness, that speak ye in light: and what ye hear in the ear, that preach ye upon the housetops.
What I say to you in darkness,' &c. That is, in secret, in private, in confidence. The private instructions which I give you while with me, do you proclaim publicly, on the housetop. See note, Matt. ix. 1-8.
28 And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul : but rather fear Him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.
The body is a small matter, in comparison with the soul. Temporal death is a slight thing, compared with eternal death. He directs them therefore not to be alarmed at the prospect of temporal death; but to fear God, who can destroy both soul and body for ever. This passage proves that the bodies of the wicked will be raised up to be punished for ever.
29 Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing ? and one of them shall not fall on the ground without your Father. 30 But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. 31 Fear ye not therefore, ye are of more value than many sparrows.
Are not two sparrows,' &c. The argument is, if God take care of birds of the least value; if he regard so small things as the hairs of the head, and number them, he will certainly protect and provide for you. You need not, therefore, fear what man can do to you. 'Sparrows.' Birds of very small kind and value. They were used for food, and were an image of sorrow, solitude, and wretchedness, Ps. cii. 7. 'Farthing. See note, Matt. v. 26.
Without your Father. That is, God your Father guides and directs its fall. It falls only with his permission, and where he chooses. The hairs—are numbered. That is, each one has exercised the care and attention of God. He has fixed the number; and though of small importance, yet he does not think it beneath him to determine how few, or how many, they shall be. He will therefore take care of you.
32 Whosoever therefore shall confess me before men, him will I confess also before my Father which is in heaven. 33 But whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father whieh is in heaven.
• Whosoever therefore shall confess me, &c. it means an
acknowiedgment of the Lord Jesus Christ, and depenáence 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. In 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 siinply in doing our duty, let the world think of it, or speak of it as they may. it 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 Jesus 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 lo 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, ve. rily 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 nis 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 op position of the human heart to religion !
CHAPTER XI. 1 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 s 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 Saviour. His 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 adds 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. l; 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 offended in me,