An Exposition Of The Gospels by The Most Rev. John Macevilly D.D.

In this chapter are recorded the mission of the twelve Apostles and the instructions given them (1–6). The perplexity and doubts of Herod regarding our Lord (7–8). The miraculous multiplication of five loaves and two fishes, so as to satiate the cravings of five thousand (10–17). Peter’s confession of our Lord’s Divinity—our Lord’s prediction of His Passion—His teaching on the subject of carrying our cross after Him (18–27). His Transfiguration (28–36). The cure of the lunatic child (37–42). The prediction of our Lord’s death and resurrection (43–45). The inhospitable treatment received from the Samaritans, and our Lord’s reply to the vengeful spirit of the Apostles in reference thereto (51–56). His instructions to such as mean to be among His true followers (57–62).

1–6. (See Matthew 10:1, &c.)

7–10. (See Matthew 14:1–12.)

10–17. (See Matthew 14:13–21.)

17–25. (See Matthew 16:13–26.)

26. (See Matthew 10:32, 33; 16:27.)

27. (See Matthew 16:28.)

28–36. (See Matthew 17:1–9.)

37–43. (See Matthew 17:14–17.)

44–46. (See Matthew 17:21; Mark 9:31.)

47, 48. (See Matthew 18:1–5; 20:26, 27.)

49, 50. (See Mark 9:37–39.)

51. “The days of His assumption” (αναληψεως). “Assumption” means, His Ascension, His being taken up into heaven, when “He was to pass out of this world unto the Father” (John 13:1). Similar is the term (Acts 1:2–11; Mark 16:19). The Evangelist refers to His Ascension rather than to His Passion, though the latter event was nearer; because, in their journey, our Lord had before His eyes, His glory, rather than His suffering, “qui proposito sibi gaudio sustinuit crucem” (Hebrews 12:2). “Were accomplishing,” were approaching their accomplishment, εν τω συμπληροῦσθαί, an interval of over six months was yet to elapse.

“He steadfastly set His face.” This form of words is often employed in Scripture to denote a firmness of purpose in carrying out one’s resolves (Ezechiel 4:3; 14:8; Jerem. 21:10). By His countenance, gait, language, &c., which caused surprise to His Apostles (Mark 10:32), our Lord showed His determined, unwavering purpose in going straightway to Jerusalem, without looking back or deflecting from the direct road, in order to preach or instruct, as was His wont. It showed His firm resolution to embrace death voluntarily for our sakes, which He knew He was to suffer in Jerusalem. This occurred about the Feast of Tabernacles (Scenopegia). Our Lord did not suffer on this occasion, nor was He assumed till after the Feast of the Passover, six months later on. In the meantime, He went about Judea, preaching, as He had hitherto done in Galilee. The Evangelist conveys here, that He is now about recording our Lord’s labours in Judea, as He had hitherto been describing His works and labours in Galilee.

52. “Sent messengers before His face.” Very likely, He was accompanied by a large number of followers, and He thought it right to provide beforehand for their accommodation, in the way of food and lodging. These messengers are generally supposed to be “James and John,” on account of what is recorded of them (verse 54). “To prepare for Him,” and those who were with Him, whom no one house could probably lodge or accommodate.

“Into a city of the Samaritans.” The straight way between Galilee and Judea lay through Samaria (John 4:4). It is disputed whether the “city” here referred to, was the chief city, or some other of minor importance, among the Samaritans.

53. “And they received Him not, because His face was,” &c. The reason why the Samaritans refused to receive or accommodate our Lord and His followers was, because they perceived, from all the circumstances of His journey, time, manner, &c., that He was going to worship in Jerusalem at the approaching festival. The messengers sent before Him also may have informed them of it. The Samaritans did not always refuse to extend hospitality to the Jews—as appears from the example of the good Samaritan and the wounded Jew, and also from that of our Lord and the Samaritan woman at the well—but only whenever the latter were going to the Temple of Jerusalem; then, the Samaritans, between whom and the Jews, there existed a deadly enmity, which was particularly awakened by the controversy regarding the proper place for worship, Jerusalem or Garazim—at once refused all intercourse with them in religious matters. For, the Samaritans held, that the Temple erected by them in Mount Garazim was the place, where alone, men could lawfully worship (John 4:20; Matthew 10:6).

The Samaritans saw from our Lord’s whole exterior, His mode of acting and proceeding, that He was going to Jerusalem for the purpose of adoration in the Temple. At this, they felt indignant, as they themselves kept at Garazim the same feasts, which the Jews observed at Jerusalem (3 Kings 12:32; 4 Kings 17:41). There was some difference as to time in both celebrations, in order to prevent collision between these parties, should they meet on their way, at the same time, to the rival Temples of Jerusalem and Garazim. The Samaritans were particularly offended by our Lord going to Jerusalem, passing by their temple; because, He was then regarded as a celebrated Doctor and Prophet; on which account, the Samaritans resented still more the slight, they fancied He put on their temple and worship.

54. “James and John” were, probably, the messengers sent forward on this occasion, and on their return, resenting the indignity offered their Divine Master, they addressed our Lord, as follows; or it may be, that the people came forward to meet them and prevent them from entering their city, on which occasion, these two disciples, who may have from this been called by our Lord, “Boanerges,” or “sons of thunder” (Mark 3:17), said, “Lord, wilt thou … and consume them,” to which is added in the ordinary Greek, “even as Elias did.” It is evident the Apostles had in mind the act of Elias destroying his enemies, the soldiers of the king of Samaria, by fire from heaven (4 Kings 1:10)—the countrymen of those, who treated our Lord so contumeliously.

55. “Turning.” Probably, they walked behind Him, and He turned back to address them. “He rebuked them” in the following words, “You know not of what spirit you are.” You imagine you are influenced by zeal for God’s glory and a feeling of just resentment in imitation of Elias of old. But you seem not to be aware, that the spirit you are influenced by is a human spirit of impatience and vengeance; or, you know not to what spirit you are called. The spirit you manifest is that of the Old Law under which Elias acted—the spirit of retaliation, demanding or permitting “an eye for an eye,” &c.; but, My spirit, which you are to imitate—the spirit of My New Law which I inculcate by word and example, is a spirit of meekness; of patient forbearance and forgiveness. Of this you seem to be forgetful, in the present instance. When the Apostles after Pentecost received the Holy Ghost, they then occasionally exercised a spirit of severity in vindication of God’s honour. They could do so then safely, because they would not be actuated, as they were before receiving the Spirit, by human passions. Although the same spirit dictated the Old Law and the New; still, the effects manifested were different, owing to the difference of circumstances, in both instances. The effects of the spirit of the Old were generally severity and rigour. These were its characteristics, though, occasionally, clemency was shown. The effects of the New were mildness, clemency, though, sometimes, severity and Christian justice were displayed (as in the case of Ananias and Sapphira, Elymas the Magician; also 2 Cor. 10); but clemency and forgiveness and patient endurance of injuries were its distinguishing characteristics. Our Lord referring to the spirit He wished to inculcate on His followers in cases of personal offences and injuries, adds,

56. “The Son of Man came,” at His first coming into this world, “not to destroy souls,” that is, men, a part being used for the entire man, “but to save.” The Apostles wished to destroy the bodies of the offending Samaritans; but they should rather imitate Him who came to save their souls by exhibiting meekness, forbearance, forgiveness of injuries, both on His own part and on that of His followers, and thus entice them to penance and reparation for their misdeeds.

57–60. (See Matthew 8:19–22.)

61. St. Luke alone mentions this third case; St. Matthew mentions the two former, as above. Whether all the occurrences recorded here by St. Luke in verses 57–61, took place at the same time, of which the third is omitted by St. Matthew, is uncertain. It is conjectured by some commentators, that the third case mentioned by St. Luke alone in this verse did not occur at the same time, with the two preceding ones; but, that St. Luke, seeing they were very similar in their import, narrated them consecutively, as if they occurred in immediate succession.

“Take leave of them, that are in my house”—my domestics. In this interpretation, the words, “them that are in my house,” are taken to be in the masculine gender, while others understand them to be in the neuter gender (as in Luke 14:33), τοις εις τον οικον μου, and to signify, to dispose of all his possessions and divide them among his friends as he might deem fit.

62. “No man putting his hand to the plough, and looking back, is fit for,” &c. The first part should terminate thus, “No man putting his hand … and looking back, is a good ploughman, or fit to plough.” But our Redeemer concludes the sentence which commenced with a metaphor, by expressing the thing signified by the metaphor, “fit for the kingdom of God,” which is the application of the metaphorical allusion. As the man, who holds the ploughshare, must always look before him, in order to make straight furrows; so must the disciple of Christ devote himself with a direct, pure intention exclusively to the duties of his calling. The words, “putting his hand to the plough,” are probably allusive to Eliseus leaving the plough at the call of Elias and following him (3 Kings 19:19).

“Fit for the kingdom of God,” may mean, fit for labouring in the ministry of the Gospel—for ploughing the field of the Lord. Similar is the idea (2 Timothy 2:4), “nemo militans Deo,” &c.; or, it may be expressive of a general truth regarding all who are determined to follow Christ and embrace the tenets of the Gospel. Such persons must be detached from earthly cares; and must not allow worldly concerns or worldly interests to divide their hearts or turn them aside from the service of God, to whose glory everything in this world should be subservient.

It is clear our Lord saw, that this man had an inordinate hankering after the things of this world, a heart divided between following Christ and solicitude for earthly concerns; as He otherwise would not have censured what would seem to contain nothing deordinate, save, in the supposition made.

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