The disciples taught to pray. (1-4) Christ encourages being earnest in prayer. (5-13) Christ casts out a devil, The blasphemy of the Pharisees. (14-26) True happiness. (27,28) Christ reproves the Jews. (29-36) He reproves the Pharisees. (37-54)
Verses 1-4 "Lord, teach us to pray," is a good prayer, and a very needful one, for Jesus Christ only can teach us, by his word and Spirit, how to pray. Lord, teach me what it is to pray; Lord, stir up and quicken me to the duty; Lord, direct me what to pray for; teach me what I should say. Christ taught them a prayer, much the same that he had given before in his sermon upon the mount. There are some differences in the words of the Lord's prayer in Matthew and in Luke, but they are of no moment. Let us in our requests, both for others and for ourselves, come to our heavenly Father, confiding in his power and goodness.
Verses 5-13 Christ encourages fervency and constancy in prayer. We must come for what we need, as a man does to his neighbour or friend, who is kind to him. We must come for bread; for that which is needful. If God does not answer our prayers speedily, yet he will in due time, if we continue to pray. Observe what to pray for; we must ask for the Holy Spirit, not only as necessary in order to our praying well, but as all spiritual blessings are included in that one. For by the influences of the Holy Spirit we are brought to know God and ourselves, to repent, believe in, and love Christ, and so are made comfortable in this world, and meet for happiness in the next. All these blessings our heavenly Father is more ready to bestow on every one that asks for them, than an indulgent parent is to give food to a hungry child. And this is the advantage of the prayer of faith, that it quiets and establishes the heart in God.
Verses 14-26 Christ's thus casting out the devils, was really the destroying of their power. The heart of every unconverted sinner is the devil's palace, where he dwells, and where he rules. There is a kind of peace in the heart of an unconverted soul, while the devil, as a strong man armed, keeps it. The sinner is secure, has no doubt concerning the goodness of his state, nor any dread of the judgment to come. But observe the wonderful change made in conversion. The conversion of a soul to God, is Christ's victory over the devil and his power in that soul, restoring the soul to its liberty, and recovering his own interest in it and power over it. All the endowments of mind of body are now employed for Christ. Here is the condition of a hypocrite. The house is swept from common sins, by a forced confession, as Pharaoh's; by a feigned contrition, as Ahab's; or by a partial reformation, as Herod's. The house is swept, but it is not washed; the heart is not made holy. Sweeping takes off only the loose dirt, while the sin that besets the sinner, the beloved sin, is untouched. The house is garnished with common gifts and graces. It is not furnished with any true grace; it is all paint and varnish, not real nor lasting. It was never given up to Christ, nor dwelt in by the Spirit. Let us take heed of resting in that which a man may have, and yet come short of heaven. The wicked spirits enter in without any difficulty; they are welcomed, and they dwell there; there they work, there they rule. From such an awful state let all earnestly pray to be delivered.
Verses 27-28 While the scribes and Pharisees despised and blasphemed the discourses of our Lord Jesus, this good woman admired them, and the wisdom and power with which he spake. Christ led the woman to a higher consideration. Though it is a great privilege to hear the word of God, yet those only are truly blessed, that is, blessed of the Lord, that hear it, keep it in memory, and keep to it as their way and rule.
Verses 29-36 Christ promised that there should be one sign more given, even the sign of Jonah the prophet; which in Matthew is explained, as meaning the resurrection of Christ; and he warned them to improve this sign. But though Christ himself were the constant preacher in any congregation, and worked miracles daily among them, yet unless his grace humbled their hearts, they would not profit by his word. Let us not desire more evidence and fuller teaching than the Lord is pleased to afford us. We should pray without ceasing that our hearts and understandings may be opened, that we may profit by the light we enjoy. And especially take heed that the light which is in us be not darkness; for if our leading principles be wrong, our judgment and practice must become more so.
Verses 37-54 We should all look to our hearts, that they may be cleansed and new-created; and while we attend to the great things of the law and of the gospel, we must not neglect the smallest matter God has appointed. When any wait to catch something out of our mouths, that they may insnare us, O Lord, give us thy prudence and thy patience, and disappoint their evil purposes. Furnish us with such meekness and patience that we may glory in reproaches, for Christ's sake, and that thy Holy Spirit may rest upon us.
Luke 11:1-13 . THE DISCIPLES TAUGHT TO PRAY.
1. one, &c.--struck with either the matter or the manner of our Lord's prayers.
as John, &c.--From this reference to John, it is possible that disciple had not heard the Sermon on the Mount. Nothing of John's inner teaching (to his own disciples) has been preserved to us, but we may be sure he never taught his disciples to say, "Our Father."
3. day by day, &c.--an extension of the petition in Matthew for "this day's" supply, to every successive day's necessities. The closing doxology, wanting here, is wanting also in all the best and most ancient copies of Matthew's Gospel. Perhaps our Lord purposely left that part open: and as the grand Jewish doxologies were ever resounding, and passed immediately and naturally, in all their hallowed familiarity into the Christian Church, probably this prayer was never used in the Christian assemblies but in its present form, as we find it in Matthew, while in Luke it has been allowed to stand as originally uttered.
5-8. at midnight . . . for a friend is come--The heat in warm countries makes evening preferable to-day for travelling; but "midnight" is everywhere a most unseasonable hour of call, and for that very reason it is here selected.
7. Trouble me not--the trouble making him insensible both to the urgency of the case and the claims of friendship.
I cannot--without exertion which he would not make.
8. importunity--The word is a strong one--"shamelessness"; persisting in the face of all that seemed reasonable, and refusing to take a denial.
as many, &c.--His reluctance once overcome, all the claims of friendship and necessity are felt to the full. The sense is obvious: If the churlish and self-indulgent--deaf both to friendship and necessity--can after a positive refusal, be won over, by sheer persistency, to do all that is needed, how much more may the same determined perseverance in prayer be expected to prevail with Him whose very nature is "rich unto all that call upon Him" ( Romans 10:12 ).
13. the Holy Spirit--in Matthew ( Matthew 7:11 ), "good gifts"; the former, the Gift of gifts descending on the Church through Christ, and comprehending the latter.
Luke 11:14-36 . BLIND AND DUMB DEMONIAC HEALED--CHARGE OF BEING IN LEAGUE WITH HELL, AND REPLY--DEMAND OF A SIGN, AND REPLY.
14. dumb--blind also ( Matthew 12:22 ).
20. the finger of God--"the Spirit of God" ( Matthew 12:28 ); the former figuratively denoting the power of God, the latter the living Personal Agent in every exercise of it.
21, 22. strong man--meaning Satan.
armed--pointing to all the subtle and varied methods by which he wields his dark power over men.
his palace--man whether viewed more largely or in individual souls--how significant of what men are to Satan!
in peace--undisturbed, secure in his possession.
22. a stronger than he--Christ: Glorious title, in relation to Satan!
come upon him and overcome him--sublimely expressing the Redeemer's approach, as the Seed of the woman, to bruise the Serpent's head.
taketh from him all his armour--"his panoply," "his complete armor." Vain would be the victory, were not the means of regaining his lost power wrested from him. It is this that completes the triumph and ensures the final overthrow of his kingdom. The parable that immediately follows ( Luke 11:24-26 ) is just the reverse of this. dislodged by Christ, and so finds, in all future assaults, the house preoccupied; in the other, he merely goes out and comes in again, finding the house "EMPTY" ( Matthew 12:44 ) of any rival, and all ready to welcome him back. This explains the important saying that comes in between the two parables ( Luke 11:23 ). Neutrality in religion there is none. The absence of positive attachment to Christ involves hostility to Him.
23. gathereth . . . scattereth--referring probably to gleaners. The meaning seems to be, Whatever in religion is disconnected from Christ comes to nothing.
27, 28. as he spake these things, a . . . woman of the company--of the multitude, the crowd. A charming little incident and profoundly instructive. With true womanly feeling, she envies the mother of such a wonderful Teacher. Well, and higher and better than she had said as much before her ( Luke 1:28 Luke 1:42 ); and our Lord is far from condemning it. He only holds up--as "blessed rather"--the hearers and keepers of God's word; in other words, the humblest real saint of God. How utterly alien is this sentiment from the teaching of the Church of Rome, which would excommunicate any one of its members who dared to talk in the spirit of this glorious saying!
29-32. peculiarly vivid, expressing what pure, beautiful, broad perceptions the clarity of the inward eye imparts.
Luke 11:37-54 . DENUNCIATION OF THE PHARISEES.
38. marvelled, &c.--(See Mark 7:2-4 ).
39-41. cup and platter--remarkable example of our Lord's way of drawing the most striking illustrations of great truths from the most familiar objects and incidents of life.
40. that which is without, &c.--that is, He to whom belongs the outer life, and right to demand its subjection to Himself--is the inner man less His?
41. give alms . . . and . . . all . . . clean--a principle of immense value. As the greed of these hypocrites was one of the most prominent features of their character ( Luke 16:14 , Matthew 23:14 ), our Lord bids them exemplify the opposite character, and then their outside, ruled by this, would be beautiful in the eye of God, and their meals would be eaten with clean hands, though never so fouled with the business of this worky world. (See Ecclesiastes 9:7 ).
42. mint . . . rue, &c.--rounding on Leviticus 27:30 , which they interpreted rigidly. Our Lord purposely names the most trifling products of the earth, as examples of what they punctiliously exacted the tenth of.
judgment and the love of God--in Matthew 23:25 , "judgment, mercy, and faith." The reference is to Micah 6:6-8 , whose third element of all acceptable religion, "walking humbly with God," comprehends both "love" and "faith." The same tendency to merge greater duties in less besets us still, but it is the characteristic of hypocrites.
these ought ye, &c.--There is no need for one set of duties to jostle out another; but of the greater, our Lord says, "Ye ought to have done" them; of the lesser, only "ye ought not to leave them undone."
44. appear not, &c.--As one might unconsciously walk over a grave concealed from view, and thus contract ceremonial defilement, so the plausible exterior of the Pharisees kept people from perceiving the pollution they contracted from coming in contact with such corrupt characters. (See Psalms 5:9 , Romans 3:13 ; a different illustration from Matthew 23:27 ).
46. burdens grievous, &c.--referring not so much to the irksomeness of the legal rites (though they were irksome, Acts 15:10 ), as to the heartless rigor with which they were enforced, and by men of shameless inconsistency.
47, 48. ye build, &c.--Out of pretended respect and honor, they repaired and beautified the sepulchres of the prophets, and with whining hypocrisy said, "If we had been in the days of our fathers, we should not have been partakers with them in the blood of the prophets," while all the time they "were witnesses to themselves that they were the children of them that killed the prophets" ( Matthew 23:29 Matthew 23:30 ); convicting themselves daily of as exact a resemblance in spirit and character to the very classes over whose deeds they pretended to mourn, as child to parent.
49-51. said the wisdom, &c.--a remarkable variation of the words in Matthew 23:34 , "Behold I SEND." As there seems plainly an allusion to ancient warnings of what God would do with so incorrigible a people, so here Christ, stepping majestically into the place of God, so to speak, says, "Now I am going to carry all that out." Could this be other than the Lord of Israel in the flesh?
50. all . . . required of this generation--As it was only in the last generation of them that "the iniquity of the Amorites was full" ( Genesis 15:16 ), and then the abominations of ages were at once completely and awfully avenged, so the iniquity of Israel was allowed to accumulate from age to age till in that generation it came to the full, and the whole collected vengeance of Heaven broke at once over its devoted head. In the first French Revolution the same awful principle was exemplified, and Christendom has not done with it yet.
prophets--in the New Testament sense ( Matthew 23:34 ; see 1 Corinthians 12:28 ).
51. blood of Zacharias--Probably the allusion is not to any recent murder, but to 2 Chronicles 24:20-22 , as the last recorded and most suitable case for illustration. And as Zacharias' last words were, "The Lord require it," so they are warned that "of that generation it should be required."
52. key of knowledge--not the key to open knowledge, but knowledge, the only key to open heaven. In Matthew 23:13 , they are accused of shutting heaven; here of taking away the key, which was worse. A right knowledge of God's Word is eternal life ( John 17:3 ); but this they took away from the people, substituting for it their wretched traditions.
53, 54. Exceedingly vivid and affecting. They were stung to the quick--and can we wonder?--yet had not materials for the charge they were preparing against Him.
provoke him, &c.--"to harass Him with questions."