MORE NOTES FROM J. C. RYLE
Further extracts from Bishop J. C. Ryle’s commentary on the Gospel of Luke. Continued from Vol. 17 p.295
Luke 13. 22-30. Too late.
There is something peculiarly striking in our Lord’s language in this prophecy. It reveals to us the awful fact, that men may see what is right when it is too late for them to be saved. There is a time coming when many will repent too late, and believe too late, -sorrow for sin too late, and begin to pray too late, – be anxious about salvation too late, and long for heaven too late. Myriads shall wake up in another world, and be convinced of truths which on earth they refused to believe. Earth is the only place in God’s creation where there is any infidelity. Hell itself is nothing but truth known too late.
Luke 16. 13-18. God or mammon?
These verses teach us, firstly, the uselessness of attempting to serve God with a divided heart. Our Lord Jesus Christ says, ‘No servant can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other Ye cannot serve God and mammon.’
The truth here propounded by our Lord appears, at first sight, too obvious to admit of being disputed. And yet the very attempt which is here declared to be useless is constantly being made by many in the matter of their souls. Thousands on every side are continually trying to do the thing which Christ pronounces impossible. They are endeavouring to be friends of the world and friends of God at the same time. Their consciences are so far enlightened, that they feel they must have some religion; but their affections are so chained down to earthly things, that they never come up to the mark of being true
Christians: and hence they live in a state of constant discomfort. They have too much religion to be happy in the world, and they have too much of the world in their hearts to be happy in their religion. In short, they waste their time in labouring to do that which cannot be done. They are striving to ‘serve God and mammon.’
Luke 16. 19-31. Endless punishment.
We learn, fourthly, from this parable, the reality and eternity of
hell. The Lord Jesus tells us plainly that after death the rich man was ‘in hell, – tormented with flame.’ He gives us a fearful picture of his
longing for a drop of ‘water to cool his tongue,’ and of ‘the gulf between him and Abraham, which could not be passed. There are few more awful passages perhaps in the whole Bible than this. And He from whose lips it came, be it remembered, was the One who delighted in mercy.
The certainty and endlessness of the future punishment of the wicked, are truths which we must hold fast and never let go: from the day when Satan said to Eve, ‘Ye shall not surely die,’ there never have been wanting men who have denied them. Let us not be deceived: there is a hell for the impenitent, as well as a heaven for believers; there is a wrath to come for all who ‘obey not the Gospel of Christ’ (2 Thess. 1.8.). From that wrath let us flee betimes to the great hiding place, Jesus Christ the Lord. If men find themselves ‘in torment’ at last, it will not be because there was no way to escape.
Luke 17. 5-10. Self-righteousness.
To give up self-righteousness is absolutely needful to salvation. He that desires to be saved must confess that there is no good thing in him, and that he has no merit, no goodness, no worthiness of his own. He must be willing to renounce his own righteousness, and to trust in the righteousness of another, even Christ the Lord. Once pardoned and forgiven, we must travel the daily journey of life under a deep conviction that we are ‘unprofitable servants.’ At our best we only do our duty, and have nothing to boast of: and even when we do our duty, it is not by our own power and might that we do it, but by the strength which is given to us from God. Claim upon God we have none; right to expect anything from God, we have none;
worthiness to deserve anything from God we have none: all that we have we have received. All that we are we owe to God’s sovereign, distinguishing grace.
What is the true cause of self-righteousness? How is it that such a poor, weak, erring creature as man can ever dream of deserving anything at God’s hands? It all arises from ignorance. The eyes of our understandings are naturally blinded. We see neither ourselves, nor our lives, nor God, nor the law of God, as we ought. Once let the light of grace shine into a man’s heart, and the reign of self-righteousness is over. The roots of pride may remain, and often put forth bitter shoots; but the power of pride is broken when the Spirit comes into the heart, and shows the man himself, and God. The true Christian will never trust in his own goodness: he will say with St. Paul, ‘I am the chief of sinners;’ ‘God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ'(I Tim. 1.15; Gal. 6.14.).
Luke 17. 26-37. Lot’s wife.
Lot’s wife is meant to be a beacon and a warning to all professing Christians. It may be feared that many will be found like her in the day of Christ’s second advent. There are many in the present day who go a certain length in religion. They conform to the outward ways of
Christian relatives and friends; they speak the ‘language of Canaan’; they use all the outward ordinances of religion; but all thistime their souls are not right in the sight of
God. The world is in their hearts, and their hearts are in the world; and by and by, in the day of sifting, their unsoundness will be exposed to all the world. Their Christianity will prove rotten at the core. The case of Lot’s wife will not stand alone.
Let us remember Lot’s wife, and resolve to be real in our religion Let us not profess to serve Christ for no higher motive than to please husbands, or wives, or masters, or ministers. A mere lean-to religion like this will never save our souls. Let us serve Christ for His own sake. Let us never rest till we have the true grace of God in our hearts, and have no desire to look back to the world.
Luke 18. 9-14. A vague religion.
Vagueness and generality are the great defects of most men’s
religion: to get out of ‘we,’ and ‘our,’ and ‘us,’ into ‘I,’ and ‘my,’ and ‘me,’ is a great step toward heaven.
Luke 19. 11-27. The day of reckoning.
We see, for another thing, in this parable, the certain reckoning. which awaits all professing Christians. We are told that when the Master returned, he ‘commanded his servants to be called, that he might know how much every man had gained.’
There is a day coming when the Lord Jesus Christ shall judge His
people, and give to every one according to His works. The course of
this world shall not always go on as it does now. Disorder confusion, false profession, and unpunished sin, shall not always cover the face of the earth: the great white throne shall be set up; the Judge of all shall sit upon it; the dead shall be raised from their graves; the living shall all be summoned to the bar; the books shall be opened. High and low, rich and poor, gentle and simple, all shall at length give account to God, and all shall receive an eternal sentence.
Let the thought of this judgment exercise an influence on our hearts and lives; let us wait patiently when we see wickedness triumphing in the earth. The time is short; there is
One who sees and notes down all that the ungodly are doing: ‘There be higher than they,’ (Eccles. 5.8.) Above all, let us live under an abiding sense that we shall stand one day at the judgment seat of Christ. Let us ‘judge ourselves’, that we be not condemned of the Lord. It is a weighty saying of St. James: ‘So speak ye, and so do, as they that shall be judged by the law of liberty’ (1 Cor. 11.31; James 2.12.).
Luke 19. 11-27. An austere Man!
The heart of the unconverted man is figured in a very striking manner in this expression.
Like Adam and Eve, when they had eaten
the forbidden fruit, he is afraid of his Master in heaven, and does not love Him. Like the murmuring Israelites in the wilderness, he finds fault with God’s appointments and dealings, and charges Him with hardness and injustice.
Hard thoughts of God are a common mark of all unconverted people. They first misrepresent
Him, and then try to excuse themselves for not loving and serving Him.
Luke 19. 41-48. A den of thieves.
We learn lastly, from these verses, how much Christ disapproves of the profanation of holy things. We read that He cast the buyers and sellers out of the temple, and told them that they had made God’s house ‘a den of thieves.’ He knew how formal and ignorant the ministers of the temple were; He knew how soon the temple and its services were to be destroyed, the veil to be rent, and the priesthood to be ended; but He would have us know that a reverence is due to every place where God is worshipped. The reverence He claimed for the temple, was not for the temple as the house of sacrifice, but as ‘the house of prayer.’
Let us remember this conduct and language of our Lord, whenever we go to a place of public worship. Christian churches no doubt are not like the Jewish temples. They have neither altars, priesthood, sacrifices, nor symbolical furniture; but they are places where
God’s Word is read, where Christ is present, and where the Holy Ghost works on souls.
These facts ought to make us grave, reverent, solemn and decorous, whenever we enter them.
The man who behaves as carelessly in a church as he would in an inn, or a private dwelling, has yet much to learn. He has not the ‘mind of Christ.’
Luke 20. 9-19. The wicked husbandmen.
In the first place, the parable shows us the deep corruption of human nature. The conduct of the wicked ‘husbandmen’ is a vivid representation of man’s dealings with God. – It is a faithful picture of the history of the Jewish Church. In spite of privileges, such as no nation ever had, in the face of warnings such as no people ever received, the Jews rebelled against God’s lawful authority, refused to give Him His rightful dues, rejected the counsel of His prophets, and at length crucified His only begotten Son. It is a no less faithful picture of the history of all the Gentile Churches. Called as they were out of heathen darkness by infinite mercy, they have done nothing worthy of the vocation wherewith they were called; on the contrary, they have allowed false doctrines and wicked practices to spring up rankly among them, and have crucified Christ afresh. It is a mournful fact, that in hardness, unbelief, superstition, and self-
righteousness, the Christian Churches, as a whole, are little better than the Jewish Church of our Lord’s time. Both are described with painful correctness in the story of the wicked husbandmen. In both we may point to countless privileges misused, and countless warnings despised.
Let us often pray that we may thoroughly understand the sinfulness of man’s heart. Few of us, it may be feared, have the least conception of the strength and virulence of the spiritual disease with which we are born; few entirely realize that ‘the carnal mind is enmity against God,’ and that unconverted human nature, if it had the power, would cast its
Maker down from His throne. The behaviour of the husbandmen before us, whatever we may please to think, is only a picture of what every natural man would do to God if he only could. To see these things is of great importance: Christ is never fully valued until sin is clearly seen. We must know the depth and malignity of our disease in order to appreciate the great Physician.
In the second place, this parable shows us the amazing patience and long-suffering of
God. The conduct of the ‘Lord of the vineyard’ is a vivid representation of God’s dealings with man. It is a faithful picture of His merciful dealings with the Jewish Church.
Prophet after prophet was sent to warn Israel of his danger; message after message was repeatedly sent, notwithstanding insults and injuries heaped on the messengers. It is a no less faithful picture of His gracious treatment of the Gentile Churches. For eighteen hundred years He has suffered their manners: they have repeatedly tried Him by false doctrines, superstitions, and contempt of His word; yet He has repeatedly granted them seasons of refreshing, raised up for them holy ministers and mighty reformers, and not cut them off notwithstanding all their persecutions. The Churches of Christ have no right to boast: they are debtors to God for innumerable mercies no less than the Jews were in our
Lord’s time. They have not been dealt with according to their sins, nor rewarded according to their iniquities.
We should learn to be more thankful for God’s mercy. We have probably little idea of the extent of our obligations to it, and of the number of gracious messages which the Lord of the vineyard is
constantly sending to our souls. The last day will unfold to our wondering eyes a long list of unacknowledged kindnesses, of which while we lived we took no notice. Mercy we shall find was indeed God’s darling attribute: ‘He delighteth in mercy’ (Micah 7.18.) Mercies before conversion, mercies after conversion, mercies at every step of their journey on earth, will be revealed to the minds of saved saints, and make them ashamed of their own thanklessness
Sparing mercies, providential mercies, mercies in the way of
warnings, mercies in the way of sudden visitations, will all be set forth in order before the minds of lost sinners, and confound them by the exhibition of their own hardness and unbelief. We shall all find that God was often speaking to us when we did not hear, and sending us messages which we did not regard. Few texts will be brought out so prominently at the last day as that of St. Peter: ‘The Lord is long-suffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish.’ (2 Peter 3.9.)
Luke 20. 20-26. False words.
He that would not be often deceived in this wicked world, must carefully remember these things. We must exercise a wise caution as we travel through life, and not play the part of the ‘simple who believeth every word’ (Prov. 14.15.). We must not lightly put confidence in every new religious volunteer, nor hastily take it for granted that all people are good who talk like good men. Such caution at first sight may appear narrow-minded and uncharitable;
but the longer we live the more shall we find that it is needful: we shall discover by experience that all is not gold that glitters, and all are not true Christians who make a loud profession of Christianity, The language of Christianity is precisely that part of religion which a false Christian finds it most easy to attain. The walk of a man’s daily life, and not the talk of his lips, is the only safe test of his character.
Luke 20. 41-47. Hypocrisy.
No sin seems to be regarded by Christ as more sinful than hypocrisy: none certainly drew forth from His lips such frequent, strong, and withering condemnation, during the whole course of His ministry. He was ever full of mercy and compassion for the chief of sinners:
‘Fury was not in Him’ when He saw Zacchaeus, the penitent thief, Matthew the publican,
Saul the persecutor, and the woman in Simon’s house; but when He saw scribes and
Pharisees wearing a mere cloak of religion, and pretending to great outward sanctity while their hearts were full of wickedness, His righteous soul seems to have been full of indignation. Eight times in one chapter (Matt. 23) we find Him saying, ‘Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites!’
Let us not forget that the Lord Jesus never changes: He is the same yesterday, and today, and for ever. Whatever else we are in religion, let us be true. However feeble our faith, and hope, and love, and obedience may be, let us see to it that they are real, genuine, and sincere; let us abhor the very idea of part-acting and mask-wearing in our Christianity. At any rate let us be thorough. It is a striking fact that the very first piece of armour which
St. Paul recommends to the
Christian soldier is ‘truth.’ ‘Stand therefore,’ he says, ‘having you loins girt about with truth’ (Eph. 6.14.).
Luke 21. 1-4. Christian giving.
Let the believer of low degree take comfort in this mighty truth let him remember daily that his Master in heaven takes account of everything that is done on earth, and that the lives of cottagers are noticed by Him as much as the lives of kings. The acts of a poor believer have as much dignity about them as the acts of a prince; the little contributions to religious objects which the labourer makes out of his scanty earnings, are as much valued in God’s sight as a ten thousand-pound note from a peer. To know this thoroughly is one great secret of contentment. To feel that Christ looks at what a man is, and not at what a man has, will help to preserve us from envious and murmuring thoughts. Happy is he who has learned to say with David, ‘I am poor and needy; yet the Lord thinketh upon me’ (Psalm 40.17.).
We learn, for another thing, from these verses, who they are whom Christ reckons most liberal in giving money to religious purposes We read that He said of her who cast in two mites into the treasury ‘She hath cast in more than they all. All these of their abundance have cast in unto the offerings of God: but she of her penury hath cast in all the living that she had.’ These words teach us that Christ looks at something more than the mere amount of men’s gifts in measuring their liberality. He looks at the proportion which their gifts bear to their property: He looks at the degree of self-denial which their giving entails upon them. He would have us know that some persons appear to give much to religious purposes who in God’s sight give very little, and that some appear to give very little who in God’s sight give very much.
The subject before us is peculiarly heart-searching. On no point perhaps do professing
Christians come short so much as in the matter of giving money to God’s cause. Thousands, it may be feared know nothing whatever of ‘giving’ as a Christian duty: the little giving that there is, is confined entirely to a select few in the churches. Even among those who give, it may be boldly asserted that the poor generally give far more in proportion to their means than the rich. These are plain facts which cannot be denied. The experience of all who collect for religious societies and Christian charities, will testify that they are correct and true.
Let us judge ourselves in this matter of giving, that we may not be judged and condemned at the great day: let it be settled principle with us to watch against stinginess, and whatever else we do with our money, to give regularly and habitually to the cause of God.
Luke 21. 25-33. Christ’s return.
We see in this passage, how complete will be the security of true Christians at the second advent of Christ. We read that our Lord said to His disciples, ‘When these things begin to come to pass, then look up, and lift up your heads; for your redemption draweth nigh.’
However terrible the signs of Christ’s second coming may be to the impenitent, they need not strike terror into the heart of the true believer: they ought rather to fill him with joy. They ought to remind him that his complete deliverance from sin, the world, and the devil, is close at hand, and that he shall soon bid an eternal farewell to sickness, sorrow, death, and temptation. The very day when the unconverted man shall lose every thing, shall be the day when the believer shall enter on his eternal reward; the very hour when the worldly man’s hopes shall perish, shall be the hour when the believer’s hope shall be exchanged for joyful certainty and full possession.
We see, lastly, in this passage, how certain it is that all our Lord’s predictions about the second advent will be fulfilled. Our Lord speaks as if He foresaw the unbelief and incredulity of man on this mighty subject. He knew how ready people would be to say,
‘Improbable! impossible! The world will always go on as it has done.’ He arms His disciples against the infection of this sceptical spirit by a very solemn saying, ‘Heaven and earth shall pass away: but my words shall not pass away.’
We shall do well to remember this saying, whenever we are thrown into the company of those who sneer at unfulfilled prophecy. The sneers of unbelievers must not be allowed to shake our faith. If God has said a thing He will certainly bring it to pass, and the probability or possibility of it are matters which need not trouble us for a moment. That
Christ should come again in power to judge the world and reign, is not half so improbable as it was that Christ should come to suffer and die. If He came the first time, much more may we expect that He will come the second time. If He came to be nailed to the cross, much more may we expect that He will come in glory and wear the crown. He has said it, and He will do it. ‘His words shall not pass away.’
Let us turn from the study of these verses with a deep conviction that the second advent of Christ is one of the leading truths of Christianity. Let the Christ in whom we believe, be not only the Christ who suffered on Calvary, but the Christ who is coming again in person to judge the earth.
Luke 21. 34-38. Surprise!
Let us learn, lastly, from these verses, the special duties of believers in the prospect of the second advent of Christ. Our Lord
sums up these duties under two great heads. One of these two is
watchfulness: the other is prayer. ‘Watch ye therefore,’ He says, ‘and pray always.’
We are to ‘watch.’ We are to live on our guard, like men in an enemy’s country. We are to remember that evil is about us, and near us, and in us, – that we have to contend daily with a treacherous heart, an ensnaring world, and a busy devil. Remembering this, we must put on the whole armour of God, and beware of spiritual drowsiness. ‘Let us not sleep as do others,’ says St. Paul, ‘but let us watch and be sober’ (1 Thess. 5.6.).
We are to ‘pray always.’ We are to keep up a constant habit of real business-like prayer.
We are to speak with God daily, and hold daily communion with Him about our souls. We are to pray specially for grace to lay aside every weight, and to cast away every thing which may interfere with readiness to meet our Lord. Above all we are to watch our habits of devotion with a godly jealousy, and to beware of hurrying over or shortening our prayers.
Let us leave the whole passage with a hearty determination, by God’s help, to act on what we have been reading. If we believe that Christ is coming again, let us get ready to meet
Him. ‘If we know these things, happy are we if we do them’ (John 13.17.).
Luke 22. 1-13. The love of money.
Let us watch and pray against the love of money: it is a subtle disease, and often far nearer to us than we suppose. A poor man is just as liable to it as a rich man: it is possible to love money without having it, and it is possible to have it without loving it.
Let us be ‘content with such things as we have’ (Heb. 13.5.). We never know what we might do if we became suddenly rich. It is a striking fact that there is only one prayer in all the Book of Proverbs, and that one of the three petitions in that prayer is the wise request, ‘Give me neither poverty nor riches’ (Prov. 30.8.).
‘Then entered Satan into Judas’. Calvin remarks on the expression, ‘Though Satan drives us every day to crime, and reigns in us when he hurries us into a course of extraordinary wickedness yet he is said to enter into the reprobate when he takes possession of all their senses, overthrows the fear of God, extinguishes the light of reason, and destroys every feeling of shame.’
Luke 22. 14-23. Neglecting a plain command.
If we are not communicants, let us ask ourselves, as we leave this
passage, ‘Why are we not? What satisfactory reason can we possible give for neglecting a plain command of Christ?’ May we never rest till we have looked this inquiry in the face! If we are communicants
let us take heed that we receive the sacrament worthily: ‘The sacraments have a wholesome effect and operation in those only who worthily receive them.’ Let us often inquire whether we repent, and believe, and strive to live holy lives. So living, we need not be afraid to eat of that bread and drink of that cup, which the Lord has commanded to be received.
Luke 22. 22-30. Gracious teaching and comfort.
Let us observe, in this passage, how firmly pride and love of preeminence can stick to the hearts of good men. We are told, that ‘There was a strife among the disciples, which of them should be accounted the greatest.’ The strife was one which had been rebuked by our
Lord on a former occasion. The ordinance which the disciples had just been receiving, and the circumstances under which they were assembled, made the strife peculiarly unseemly. And yet at this very season, the last quiet time they could spend with their Master before His death, this little flock begins a contention who should be the greatest! Such is the heart of man, ever weak, ever deceitful, ever ready, even at its best times, to turn aside to what is evil.
The sin before us is a very old one. Ambition, self-esteem, and self-conceit lie deep at the bottom of all men’s hearts, and often in the hearts where they are least suspected; thousands fancy that they are humble, who cannot bear to see an equal more honoured and favoured than themselves: few indeed can be found who rejoice heartily in a neighbour’s promotion over their own heads. The quantity of envy and jealousy in the world is a glaring proof of the prevalence of pride: men would not envy a brother’s advancement, if they had not a secret thought that their own merit was greater than his.
Let us observe also in this passage, our Lord’s gracious commendation of His disciples.
He said to them, ‘Ye are they which have continued with me in my temptations.’
There is something very striking in these words of praise. We know the weakness and infirmity of our Lord’s disciples during the whole period of His earthly ministry; we find
Him frequently reproving their ignorance and want of faith: He knew full well that within a few hours they were all going to forsake Him. But here we find Him graciously dwelling on one good point in their conduct, and holding it up to the perpetual notice of His Church.
They had been faithful to their Master, notwithstanding all their faults: their hearts had been right, whatever had been their mistakes; they had clung to Him in the day of His humiliation, when the great and noble were against Him; they had ‘continued with Him in His temptations.’
Luke 22. 31-38. The power of the devil.
The personality, activity, and power of the devil are no sufficiently thought of by
Christians. This is he who brought sin into the world at the beginning, by tempting Eve; this is he who is described in the book of Job as ‘going to and fro in the earth, and walking up and down in it;’ this is he whom our Lord calls ‘the prince of this world,’ a ‘murderer’ and a ‘liar;’ this is he whom Peter compares to a ‘roaring lion,’ seeking whom he may devour; ‘this is he whom John speaks of as ‘the accuser of the brethren;’ this is he who is ever working evil in the Churches of Christ, catching away good seed from the hearts of hearers, sowing tares amidst the wheat stirring up persecutions, suggesting false doctrines, and fomenting divisions. The world is a snare to the believer; the flesh is a burden and a clog: but there is no enemy so dangerous as that restless invisible, experienced enemy, the devil.
The continued existence of grace in a believer’s heart is a great standing miracle. His enemies are so mighty, and his strength is so small, the world is so full of snares, and his heart is so weak, that it seems at first.sight impossible for him to reach heaven. The passage before us explains his safety: he has a mighty Friend at the right hand of God, who ever lives to make intercession for him; there is a watchful advocate, who is daily pleading for him, seeing all his daily necessities, and obtaining daily supplies of mercy and grace for his soul. His grace never altogether dies, because Christ always lives to intercede (Heb. 7.25.).
Luke 22. 39-46. Jesus in Gethsemane.
We must beware jealously of the modern notion that our blessed Lord’s life and death were nothing more than a great example of self-sacrifice. Such a notion throws darkness and confusion over the whole Gospel: it dishonours the Lord Jesus, and represents Him as
less resigned in the day of death than many a modern martyr. We must cling firmly to the old doctrine that Christ was ‘bearing our sins,’ both in the garden and on the cross: no other doctrine can ever explain the passage before us, or satisfy the conscience of guilty man.
Would we see the sinfulness of sin in its true colours? Would we learn to hate sin with a godly hatred? Would we know something of the intense misery of souls in hell? Would we understand something of the unspeakable love of Christ? Would we comprehend Christ’s
ability to sympathize with those that are in trouble? Then let the agony in the garden come often into our minds. The depth of the agony may give us some idea of our debt to Christ.
‘Not my will, but Thine, be done.’ In this expression, and indeed throughout the verse, the great and mysterious truth that our Lord
had two wills, a human and a divine will, is distinctly taught. In His Person the human nature and the divine were marvellously united. To use the words of the Article, ‘Two whole and perfect natures, the Godhead and manhood, were joined together in one Person, never to be divided,’ But still we must carefully remember that while the two natures were united, the two wills were not confounded; our Lord had a will as perfect man, and He had also a will as perfect God. As God He had a will in entire harmony with the will of the Father, – a will to suffer, to die, to bear our sins, and to provide redemption on the cross, but as man
He had a will which naturally shrank from death and pain, as everything which has the breath of life instinctively does. This is the will which we hear speaking in the verse before us. ‘Man,’ says Theophylact, ‘naturally loves life.’ Our Lord was a man exactly like ourselves in all things, sin only excepted. His bodily constitution, His nervous system, His capability of suffering, were all precisely like our own; therefore it is that He says,
‘Remove this cup from me,’ and yet adds, ‘not my will, but thine, be done.’
The subject is undoubtedly a very mysterious one. The mystery, be it remembered, arises necessarily from our utter inability to understand the union of two natures in one Person.
It is a depth which we have no line to fathom. How the Lord Jesus could be at the same time God and man, – as man weak but as God almighty; for what reasons we see Him sometimes in the Gospels speaking as God, and sometimes as man; why we see Him sometimes veiling His divinity, and sometimes exhibiting it most clearly, – all these are questions which it is more easy to ask than to answer. Enough for us to know that it is so, and to believe and admire what we cannot explain.
One thing, however, we may safely remark, – that at no period of our Lord’s earthly ministry does the reality of His manhood come out so clearly as in His agony in the garden, and His death on the cross. As man, He endured temptation for us, and overcame Satan;
as man He showed the intensity of His sufferings by bloody sweat, strong crying and tears; as man He thirsted on the cross, and said, ‘My God, why hast thou forsaken me?’ The infinite merit of His passion unquestionably arose from the inseparable union of His Godhead and His manhood. But the nature which is most prominently brought before us in His passion, is His nature as man.
Luke 22. 47-53. Suffering patiently.
We should learn, for another thing, from these verses, that it is much easier to fight a little for Christ, than to endure hardness and go to prison and death for His sake. We read that when our Lord’s enemies drew near to take Him, one of His disciples ‘smote the
servant of the high priest, and cut off his right ear.’ Yet the zeal of that disciple was very short-lived; his courage soon died away: the fear of man overcame him. By and by, when our Lord was led away prisoner, he was led away alone: the disciple who was so ready to fight and smite with the sword, had actually forsaken hi