The disciples pluck corn on the sabbath. (1-5) Works of mercy suitable to the sabbath day. (6-11) The apostles chosen. (12-19) Blessings and woes declared. (20-26) Christ exhorts to mercy. (27-36) And to justice and sincerity. (37-49)
Verses 1-5 Christ justifies his disciples in a work of necessity for themselves on the sabbath day, and that was plucking the ears of corn when they were hungry. But we must take heed that we mistake not this liberty for leave to commit sin. Christ will have us to know and remember that it is his day, therefore to be spent in his service, and to his honour.
Verses 6-11 Christ was neither ashamed nor afraid to own the purposes of his grace. He healed the poor man, though he knew that his enemies would take advantage against him for it. Let us not be drawn either from our duty or from our usefulness by any opposition. We may well be amazed, that the sons of men should be so wicked.
Verses 12-19 We often think one half hour a great deal to spend in meditation and secret prayer, but Christ was whole nights engaged in these duties. In serving God, our great care should be not to lose time, but to make the end of one good duty the beginning of another. The twelve apostles are here named; never were men so privileged, yet one of them had a devil, and proved a traitor. Those who have not faithful preaching near them, had better travel far than be without it. It is indeed worth while to go a great way to hear the word of Christ, and to go out of the way of other business for it. They came to be cured by him, and he healed them. There is a fulness of grace in Christ, and healing virtue in him, ready to go out from him, that is enough for all, enough for each. Men regard the diseases of the body as greater evils than those of their souls; but the Scripture teaches us differently.
Verses 20-26 Here begins a discourse of Christ, most of which is also found in ( Matthew 5 , Matthew 7 ) . But some think that this was preached at another time and place. All believers that take the precepts of the gospel to themselves, and live by them, may take the promises of the gospel to themselves, and live upon them. Woes are denounced against prosperous sinners as miserable people, though the world envies them. Those are blessed indeed whom Christ blesses, but those must be dreadfully miserable who fall under his woe and curse! What a vast advantage will the saint have over the sinner in the other world! and what a wide difference will there be in their rewards, how much soever the sinner may prosper, and the saint be afflicted here!
Verses 27-36 These are hard lessons to flesh and blood. But if we are thoroughly grounded in the faith of Christ's love, this will make his commands easy to us. Every one that comes to him for washing in his blood, and knows the greatness of the mercy and the love there is in him, can say, in truth and sincerity, Lord, what wilt thou have me to do? Let us then aim to be merciful, even according to the mercy of our heavenly Father to us.
Verses 37-49 All these sayings Christ often used; it was easy to apply them. We ought to be very careful when we blame others; for we need allowance ourselves. If we are of a giving and a forgiving spirit, we shall ourselves reap the benefit. Though full and exact returns are made in another world, not in this world, yet Providence does what should encourage us in doing good. Those who follow the multitude to do evil, follow in the broad way that leads to destruction. The tree is known by its fruits; may the word of Christ be so grafted in our hearts, that we may be fruitful in every good word and work. And what the mouth commonly speaks, generally agrees with what is most in the heart. Those only make sure work for their souls and eternity, and take the course that will profit in a trying time, who think, speak, and act according to the words of Christ. Those who take pains in religion, found their hope upon Christ, who is the Rock of Ages, and other foundation can no man lay. In death and judgment they are safe, being kept by the power of Christ through faith unto salvation, and they shall never perish.
Luke 6:1-5 . PLUCKING CORN-EARS ON THE SABBATH. Mark 2:23-28
1. second sabbath after the first--an obscure expression, occurring here only, generally understood to mean, the first sabbath after the second day of unleavened bread. The reasons cannot be stated here, nor is the opinion itself quite free from difficulty.
5. Lord also--rather "even" (as in Matthew 12:8 ).
of the sabbath--as naked a claim to all the authority of Him who gave the law at Mount Sinai as could possibly be made; that is, "I have said enough to vindicate the men ye carp at on My account: but in this place is the Lord of the law, and they have His sanction." (See Mark 2:28 .)
Luke 6:6-11 . WITHERED HAND HEALED. Mark 3:1-7
7. watched whether, &c.--In Matthew ( Matthew 12:9 ) this is put as an ensnaring question of theirs to our Lord, who accordingly speaks to the state of their hearts ( Luke 6:9 ), just as if they had spoken it out.
9. good, or . . . evil, save . . . or destroy--By this novel way of putting His case, our Lord teaches the great ethical principle, that to neglect any opportunity of doing good is to incur the guilt of doing evil; and by this law He bound His own spirit. (See Mark 3:4 .)
11. filled with madness--The word denotes senseless rage at the confusion to which our Lord had put them, both by word and deed.
what . . . do to Jesus--not so much whether to get rid of Him, but how to compass it.
Luke 6:12-49 . THE TWELVE APOSTLES CHOSEN--GATHERING MULTITUDES--GLORIOUS HEALING.
12, 13. went out--probably from Capernaum.
all night in prayer . . . and when . . . day, he called, &c.--The work with which the next day began shows what had been the burden of this night's devotions. As He directed His disciples to pray for "laborers" just before sending themselves forth we find the Lord Himself in prolonged communion with His Father in preparation for the solemn appointment of those men who were to give birth to His Church, and from whom the world in all time was to take a new mould. How instructive is this!
17. in the plain--by some rendered "on a level place," that is, a piece of high tableland, by which they understand the same thing, as "on the mountain," where our Lord delivered the sermon recorded by Matthew ( Matthew 5:1 ), of which they take this following discourse of Luke to be but an abridged form. But as the sense given in our version is the more accurate, so there are weighty reasons for considering the discourses different. This one contains little more than a fourth of the other; it has woes of its own, as well as the beatitudes common to both; but above all, that of Matthew was plainly delivered a good while before, while this was spoken after the choice of the twelve; and as we know that our Lord delivered some of His weightiest sayings more than once, there is no difficulty in supposing this to be one of His more extended repetitions; nor could anything be more worthy of it.
19. healed--kept healing, denoting successive acts of mercy till it went over "all" that needed. There is something unusually grand and pictorial in this touch of description.
20, 21. In the Sermon on the Mount the benediction is pronounced upon the "poor in spirit" and those who "hunger and thirst after righteousness" ( Matthew 5:3 Matthew 5:6 ). Here it is simply on the "poor" and the "hungry now." In this form of the discourse, then, our Lord seems to have had in view "the poor of this world, rich in faith, and heirs of the kingdom which God hath promised to them that love Him," as these very beatitudes are paraphrased by James ( James 2:5 ).
21. laugh--How charming is the liveliness of this word, to express what in Matthew is called being "comforted!"
22. separate you--whether from their Church, by excommunication, or from their society; both hard to flesh and blood.
for the Son of man's sake--Compare Matthew 5:11 , "for MY SAKE"; and immediately before, "for righteousness' sake" ( Luke 6:10 ). Christ thus binds up the cause of righteousness in the world with the reception of Himself.
23. leap for joy--a livelier word than "be exceeding glad" of "exult" ( Matthew 5:12 ).
24, 25. rich . . . full . . . laugh--who have all their good things and joyous feelings here and now, in perishable objects.
shall hunger--their inward craving strong as ever, but the materials of satisfaction forever gone.
26. all . . . speak well of you--alluding to the court paid to the false prophets of old ( Micah 2:11 ). For the principle of this woe, and its proper limits, see John 15:19 .
but this is much fuller and more graphic.
39. Can the blind, &c.--not in the Sermon on the Mount, but recorded by Matthew in another and very striking connection ( Matthew 15:14 ).
40. The disciple, &c.--that is, "The disciple aims to come up to his master, and he thinks himself complete when he does so: if you then be blind leaders of the blind, the perfection of one's training under you will only land him the more certainly in one common ruin with yourselves."