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a John xii. 28.
went up directly from the water." The original does not imply that they had descended into the river. 1 The heavens were opened unto him. This was done while he was praying. Luke iii. 21. The sacred ordinance of baptism he attended with prayer. The ordinances of religion will be commonly ineffectual without prayer. If in those ordinances we look to God, we may expect he will bless us ; the heavens will be opened, light will shine upon our path, and we shall meet with the approbation of God. The expression, “The heavens were opened,” is one that commonly denotes the appearance of the clouds when it lightens. The heavens appear to open, or give way. Something of this kind probably appeared to John at this time. The same appearance took place at Stephen's death. Acts vii. 56. The expression means, he was permitted to see far into the heavens, beyond what the natural vision would allow. To him. Some have referred this to Jesus, others to John. It probably refers to John. See John i. 33. It was a testimony given to John that this was the Messiah. He saw. John saw. 9 The Spirit of God. See ver. 5. This was the third person of the Trinity, descending upon him in the form of a dove. Luke iii. 22. The dove, among the Jews, was the symbol of purity, or harmlessness (Matt. x. 16); and of softness (Ps. lv. 7). The form chosen here was doubtless an emblem of the innocence, meekness, and tenderness of the Saviour. The gift of the lioly Spirit, in this manner, was the public approbation of Jesus (John i. 33), and a sign of his being set apart to the office of the Messiah. We are not to suppose that there was any change wrought in the moral character of Jesus, but only that he was publicly set apart to his work, and solemnly approved by God in the office to which he was appointed. 17 “And lo a voice from heaven, saying, “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.
6 Ps. ii. 7 ; Isa. xlii. 1; chap. xli. 18, and xvii. 5; Mark i. 11; Luke iii. 22; Eph. i. 6; Col. i. 13; 2 Pet. i. 17. 17. A voice from heaven. A voice from God. Probably this was heard by all who were present. This voice, or sound, was repeated on the mount of transfiguration. Matt. xvii
. 5; Luke ix. 35, 36 ; 2 Pet. i. 17. It was also heard just before his death, and was then supposed by many to be thunder. John xii. 28-30. It was a public declaration that Jesus was the Messiah. q My beloved Son. This is the title which God himself gave to Jesus. It denotes the nearness of his relation to God, and the love of God for him. Heb. i. 1. It implies that he was equal with God. Heb. i. 5-8 ; John x. 29-33, xix. 7. The term Son is expressive of love, of the nearness of his relation to God, and of his dignity and equality with God. I Am well pleased. Am ever delighted. It implies that he was constantly or uniformly well pleased with him ; and in this solemn and public manner he expressed his approbation of him as the Redeemer of the world.
The baptism of Jesus has usually been considered a striking "manifestation of the doctrine of the Trinity, or the doctrine that there are three persons in the divine nature. 1. There is the person of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, baptized in the Jordan, elsewhere declared to be equal with God. John x. 30. 2. The Holy Spirit descending in a bodily form on the Saviour. The Holy Spirit is also equal with the Father, or is also God. Acts v. 3, 4. 3. The Father, addressing the Son, and declaring that he was well pleased with him. It is impossible to explain this transaction consistently in
way than by supposing that there are three equal persons in the divine nature or essence, and that each of these sustains important parts in the work of redeeming man.
In the preaching of John the Baptist we are presented with an example of a faithful minister of God. Neither the wealth, dignity, nor power of his auditors, deterred him from fearlessly declaring the truth respecting their character. He called things by their right names; he did not apologise for their sin; he set it fairly before them, and denounced the appropriate curse. So should all ministers of the Gospel. Rank, riches, and power, should have nothing to do in shaping and gauging their ministry. In respectful terms, but without shrinking, all the truths of the Gospel must be spoken, or woe will follow the ambassador of Christ.
In John we have also an example of humility. Blessed with great success, attended by the great and noble, and with nothing but principle to keep him from turning it to his advantage, he still kept himself out of view, and pointed to a far greater personage at hand. So should every minister of Jesus, however successful, keep the Lamb of God in his eye, and be willing, nay, rejoice, to lay all his success and honours at his feet. Every thing about the work of Jesus was wonderful. No
had before come into the world under such circumstances. God would not have attended the commencement of his life with such wonderful events, if it had not been of the greatest moment to our race, and if he had not possessed a dignity above all prophets, kings, and priests. He was the Redeemer of men, the mighty God, the Father of eternity, the Prince of peace (Isa. ix. 6); and it was proper that a voice from heaven should declare it, that the angels should attend him, and the Holy Spirit signalize his baptism by his personal presence. And it is proper that we, for whom he came, should give to him our undivided affections, our time, our influence, our hearts, and our lives.
1. The word, in this chapter, translated “repent,” denotes a complete change of heart-a change of the principles and motives directing the life, and hence, of the life itself. Sorrow for sin does not constitute true repentance, nor any thing like it. In ordinary circumstances, a man cannot help feeling sorrow for sin. God has planted the conscience in the bosom of man: it is a part of the man, whether he be an unconverted or a regenerated person. The office of conscience is to condemn sin. It condemns it before it has been, and also after it has been, committed. Conscience will speak to the sinner whether he will or not : it exercises its function independently of his will. To give repentance unto life is the work of God's Spirit. In as far as the subject of it is concerned, this true repentance consists in three things :—1st, A true sense of sin and misery; of sin, as unspeakably loathsome in the sight of God, and as bringing down his wrath and curse ; of misery, viz., a painful feeling of present wretchedness, and anticipation of future woe. But what could such a sense of sin and misery do for a man, except sink him in despair, were there nothing farther—no hope of escape ? True repentance, then, consists, 2d, In a clear apprehension, and distinct conviction, of the mercy of God in Christ. Not some vague notion that God is merciful (from the mere goodness or benevolence of God the sinner has nothing to expect, for justice stands in the way, and he can neither satisfy its claims nor prevail upon it to waive them), but an apprehension of the mercy of God in Christ. And what will be the conduct of one thoroughly convinced of these two things ? 3d, He will, with “ grief and hatred of his sin, turn from it unto God, with full purpose of, and endeavour after, new obedience.”
2. Though, comparing yourselves with others, you may fancy that your sins are few, and not very aggravated; yet, unless you repent of them, they shall slay your soul's peace, and be your tormentors in hell to all eternity. Though, comparing yourselves with others (but especially judging of yourselves by the standard of Scripture), you may fancy that your sins are so many, and of so deep a dye, that they render your case hopeless; yet, if you repent, believe they shall all be blotted out. What bitter things soever you write against yourselves (and they cannot be too bitter), God has written, that there is hope concerning you. The blood of Christ cleanses from all sin. When any sinner doubts of the efficacy of Christ's blood to wash away his sins, he is putting the greatest dishonour upon God that is possible: he is questioning God's truth, and so making him a liar. In this chapter there is a sore rebuke to the self-righteous; and a word of sweetest encouragement to the penitent—though in his own estimation, and in fact also, he be the very chief of sinners. Ver. 7, &c. The Pharisees and Sadducees were the greatest sinners, the most offensive in the sight of God of any men in that generation ; but although the Baptist (and our Saviour after him) unmasked them, and dealt with them in terms of no ordinary severity, he did not shut the door of hope against them. He only urged them with the greater earnestness to repent; for he well knew that God was waiting even upon them, to deal graciously with them. They were as welcome as any others to come and receive the pardon of sin, and be made partakers of eternal life.
CHAPTER IV. 1 Christ fasteth, and is tempted. 11 The angels minister unto him. 13 He dwelleth in Caper
naum, 17 beginneth to preach, 18 calleth Peter, and Andreu, 21 James, and John,
23 and healeth all the diseased. TIEN NIIEN was “Jesus led up of bthe spirit into the wilderness to be tempted
of the devil. 2 And when he had fasted forty days and forty nights, he was afterward an hungred.
a Mark i. 12, &c.; Luke iv. 1, &c. b 1 Kings xviii. 12; Ezek. iii. 14, viü. 3, xi. 1, 24, xl. 2, xliii. 5; Acts viii. 39. Ver. 1, 9. The wilderness. See Note, Matt. iii. 1. The Spirit. Luke says (chap. iv. 1), that Jesus was full of the Holy Spirit. It was by his influence, therefore, that Christ went into the desert. 9 To be tempted. The word to tempt, in the original, means to try, to endeavour, to attempt to do a thing ; to try the nature of a thing, as metals by fire; to test moral qualities by trying them, to see how they will endure ; to endeavour to draw men away from virtue by suggesting motives to evil. This is the meaning here, and this is now the established meaning of the word in the English language. The devil. This word originally means an adversary, or an accuser ; thence any one opposed ; thence an enemy of any kind. It is given in the Scriptures, by way of eminence, to the Devil. He is known, also, by the name Satan (Job i. 6-12; Matt. xii. 26); Beelzebub (Matt. xii. 24); the old Serpent (Rev. xii. 3); and the Prince of the power of the air (Eph. ii. 2). The name is sometimes given to men and women. 2 Tim. ii. 3. Truce-breakers, slanderers, in the original, devils. 1 Tim. iii. 11. So must their wives be grave, not slanderers, in the original, devils.
2. Had fasted. Abstained from food. I Forty days and nights. It has been questioned by some whether Christ abstained wholly from food, or only from bread and the food to which he was accustomed. Luke says (chap. iv. 2), that he ate nothing. This settles the question. Mark says (chap. i. 13), that angels came and ministered unto him. At first view this would seem to imply that he did eat during that time. But Mark does not mention the time when the angels performed this service, and we thence infer that it was done at the close of the forty days. Matthew, also, after giving an account of the temptation, says the same thing (ver. 11.) There are other instances of persons fasting forty days, recorded in the Scriptures. Thus Moses fasted forty days. Exod. xxxiv. 28; Elijah, also, fasted the same length of time (1 Kings xix. 8). In these cases they were, no doubt, miraculously supported.
3 And when the tempter came to him, he said, If thou be the Son of God,
command that these stones be made bread. 3. The tempter. The devil, or Satan. See ver. 1. 1 If thou be the Son of God. If thou art the Messiah, if God's own Son, then thou hast power to work a miracle, and here is a fit opportunity to try thy power, and show that thou art truly his Son. 1 Command that these stones, &c. The stones that were lying around him in the wilderness. No temptation could have been more plausible, or more likely to succeed, than this. He had just been declared to be the Son of God (chap. iii
. 17), and here was an opportunity to show that he was really so. The circumstances were such as to make it appear plausible and proper to work this miracle. “ Here you are," was the language of Satan, “hungry, cast out, alone, needy, poor, and yet the Son of God ! If
have how easy
could you satisfy your wants ! How foolish is it, then, for the Son of God, having all power, to be starving in this manner, when by a word he could show his
power, lieve his wants, and when, in the thing itself, there could be nothing wrong!" 4 But he answered and said, It is written, “Man shall not live by bread
alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.
c Deut. viii. 3.
4. But he answered and said, &c. In reply to this artful tentptation, Christ answered by a quotation from the Old Testament. The place is found in Deut. viii
. 3. In that place the discourse is respecting manna. Moses says that the Lord humbled the people, and fed them with manna, an unusual kind of food, that they might learn that man did not live by bread only, but that there were other things to support life, and that every thing which God had commanded was proper for this. The term word,” used in this place, means very often, in Hebrew, thing, and in this place has that meaning. Neither Moses nor our Saviour had any special reference to spiritual food, or to the doctrines necessary to support the faith of believers ; but meant that God could support life by other things than bread ; that man was to live, not by that only, but by every other thing which proceeded out of his mouth; that is, which he chose to command men to eat. The substance of his answer, then, is: “It is not so imperiously necessary that I should have bread, as to make a miracle
it. Life depends on the will of God. He can support it in other ways, as well as by bread. He has created other things to be eaten, and man may live by every thing that his Maker has commanded.” And from this temptation we may learn, 1. That Satan often takes advantage of our circumstances and wants to tempt us. The poor, and hungry, and naked, he often tempts to repine and complain, and to be dishonest in order to supply their necessities. 2. Satan's temptations are often the strongest immediately after we have been remarkably favoured. Jesus had just been called the Son of God, and Satan took this opportunity to try him. Ile often attempts to fill us with pride and vain self-conceit, when we have been favoured with any peace of mind, or any new view of God, and endeavours to urge us to do something which may bring us low, and lead us to sin. 3. His temptations are plausible. They often seem to be only urging us to do what is good and proper. They seem even to urge us to promote the glory of God, and to honour him. We are not to think, therefore, that because a thing may seem to be good in itself, that therefore it is to be done. Some of his most powerful temptations are when he seenis to be urging us to do what shall be for the glory of God. 4. We are to meet the temptations of Satan, as the Saviour did, with the plain and positive declarations of Scripture. We are to inquire whether the thing is commanded, and whether, therefore, it is right to do it, and not trust to our own feelings, or even our wishes, in the matter. 5 Then the devil taketh him up "into the holy city, and setteth him on a
proper to procure
pinnacle of the temple, 6 And saith unto him, If thou be the Son of God, cast thyself down: for it is written, “He shall give his angels charge concerning thee: and in their hands they shall bear thee up, lest at any time thou dash thy foot against a stone. 7 Jesus said unto him, It is written again, 'Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God.
d Neh. xi. 1, 18; Isa. xlviii. 2, lii. I, chap. xxvii. 53 ; Rev. xi. 2.
e Ps. xci. 11, 12.
s Deut. vi. 16.
5. Taketh him up. This does not mean that he bore him through the air, or that he compelled him to go against his will, or that he wrought a miracle, in any way, to place him there. There is no evidence that Satan had power to do any of these things; and the word translated “ tuketh him up” does not imply any such thing. It means, to conduct one; to lead one; to attend or accompany one; or to induce one to go. It is used in the following places in the same sense.
Num. xxu. 14, “And he (Balak) brought him (Balaam) into the field of Tophim,” &c. That is, he led hiin, or induced him to go there. Matt. xvii. 1, “ And after six days, Jesus taketh Peter, James,” &c.; i.e., led, or conducted them—not by any means implying that he bore them by force. Matt. xx. 17, " Jesus, going to Jerusalem, took the twelve disciples apart,” &c. See also Matt. xxvi. 37, xxvii. 27; Mark v. 40. From these passages, and many more, it appears that all that is meant here is, that Satan conducted Jesus, or accompanied him ; but not that this was done against the will of Jesus. I The holy city. Jerusalem, called holy because the temple was there, and it was the place of religious solemnities. If Setteth him on a pinnacle of the temple. It is not perfectly certain to what part of the temple the sacred writer here refers. It has been supposed by some that he means the roof. But Josephus says that the roof was covered by spikes of gold, to prevent its being polluted by birds; and such a place would have been very inconvenient to stand upon. Others suppose that it was the top of the porch or entrance to the temple. But it is more than probable that the porch leading to the temple was not as high as the main building. It is more probable that he refers to a part of the sacred editice sometimes called Solomon's porch. The temple was built on the top of mount Moriah. The temple itself, together with the courts and porches, occupied a large space of ground. See Note, Matt. xxi. 12. To secure a level spot sufficiently large, it was necessary to put up a high wall on the east. The temple was surrounded with porches or piazzas 55 feet broad, and 75 high. The porch on the south side was, however, 67 feet broad, and 150 high. From the top of this to the bottom of the valley below was more than 700 feet, and Jesephus says that one could scarcely look down without dizziness. The word pinnacle does not quite express the force of the original. It is a word given usually to birds, and denotes wings, or any thing in the form of wings, and was given to the roof of this porch because it resembled a bird dropping its wings. It was on this place, in all probability, that Christ was placed.
Satan proposed that he should cast himself down thence; and if he was the Son of God, he said it could do no harm. There was a promise that he should be protected. This promise was taken from Ps. xci. 11, 12.
To this passage of Scripture Christ replied with another, which forbade the act. This is taken from Deut. vi. 16, - Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God.” That is, thou shalt not try him ; or, thou shalt not, by throwing thyself into voluntary and uncommanded dangers, appeal to God for protection, or trifle with the promises made to those who are thrown into danger by his providence. It is true, indeed, that God aids those of his people who are placed by him in trial or danger; but it is not true that the promise was meant to extend to those who wantonly provoke him, and trifle with the promised help. Thus Satan, artfully using and perverting Scripture, was met and repelled by Scripture rightly applied. 8 Again, the devil taketh him up unto an exceeding high mountain, and
sheweth him all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them; 8. An exceeding high mountain. It is not known what mountain this was. It was probably some elevated place in the vicinity of Jerusalemn, from the top of which could be seen no small part of the land of Palestine. The Abbé Mariti speaks of a mountain on which he was, which answers to the description here. “This part of the mountain," says he, "overlooks the mountains of Arabia, the country of Gilead, the country of the Amorites, the plains of Moab, the plains of Jericho, the river Jordan, and the whole extent of the Dead Sea." So Moses, before he died, went up into mount Nebo, and from it God showed him “all the land of Gilead unto Dan, and all Naphthali, and the land of Ephraim and Manasseh, and all the land of Judah, unto the utmost sea, and the south, and the plain of the valley of Jericho, and the city of palm-trees, unto Zoar.” Deut. xxxiv. 1-3. 1 All the kingdoms of the world. “ From the form of the earth, and many other facts, it is impossible that all the kingdoms of the world could be seen from the summit of the mountain mentioned in the text, or of any
other. That must be a very inconsiderable kingdom whose whole extent could be seen from such a position. Some illusion, then, we may safely infer, must have been practised by the Tempter on this occasion, so as to exhibit to our Saviour's view the vivid representation of the kingdoms and their glory, and to make it appear as if they had been actually stretched out in prospect before him. The magnificent description of this temptation, in Milton's Paradise Regained,' will be familiar to many of our readers.” (Ed.) 9 And saith unto him, All these things will I give thee, if thou wilt fall
down and worship me. 9. All these things, &c. This temptation had much plausibility. Satan regarded Jesus as the king of the Jews. As the Messiah, he supposed he had come to take possession of the world. He was poor, and unarmed, and without followers or armies. Satan proposed to put him in possession of it at once, without any difficulty, if he would acknowledge him as the proper lord and disposer of it—if he would trust to him rather than to God. ? Worship me. See Note on Matt. ii. 2. The word here seems to mean, to acknowledge Satan as having a right to give these kingdoms to him; to acknowledge his dependence on him rather than God; that is, really to render religious homage. We may
be surprised at his boldness. But he had been twice foiled. He supposed it was an object dear to the heart of the Messiah to obtain these kingdoms. He claimed a right over them; and he seemed not to be asking too much, if he gave them to Jesus, that Jesus should be willing to acknowledge the gift, and express gratitude for it. So plausible are Satan's temptations, even when they are blasphemous; and so artfully does he present his allurements to the mind. 10 Then saith Jesus unto him, Get thee hence, Satan: for it is written, 8 Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve.
& Deut. vi. 13, x. 20; Josh. xxiv. 14; 1 Sam, vii. 3. 10. Get thee hence. These temptations, and this one especially, our Saviour met with a decided rebuke. This was a bolder attack than any which had been offered. Others had been but an address to his necessities. Here was a higher attempt-a more decided and deadly thrust at the piety of the Saviour. It was a proposition that the Son of God should worship the devil; that he should bow down before the prince of wickedness, and give him homage. I It is written. In Deut. vi. 13. Satan asked him to worship him. This was expressly forbidden; and Jesus therefore drove him from his
presence. 11 Then the devil leaveth him, and, behold, "angels came and ministered
h Heb. i. 14.
11. The devil leaveth him. The devil left him for a time. Luke iv, 13. He intended to return again to the temptation, and if possible to seduce him yet from God. 1 The angels came and ministered. See chap. i. 20. They came and supplied his wants, and comforted him. From the whole of this we may learn,
1. That no one is so holy as to be free from temptation; for the “Son of God” himself was sorely tempted by the devil.
2. That when God permits a temptation or trial to come upon us, he will, if we look to him, give us grace to resist and overcome it. 1 Cor. x. 13.
3. We see the art of the tempter. His temptations are adapted to times and circumstances. They are plausible. What could have been more plausible than his suggestions to Christ? They were applicable to his circumstances. They had the appearance of much piety. They were backed by passages of Scripture-misapplied, but still most artfully presented. He never comes boldly and tempts men to sin, telling them that they are committing sin. Such a mode would defeat his design. "It would put people on their guard. He commences, therefore, artfully, plausibly, and the