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on the ground without your Father. 30 "But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. 31 Fear ye not therefore, ye are of more value than many sparrows.
g 1 Sam. xiv. 45; 2 Sam. xiv. 11; Luke xxi. 18; Acts xxvii. 34.
29-31. Are not two sparrows, &c. He encourages them not to fear by two striking considerations: first, that God took care of sparrows, the smallest and least valuable birds; and secondly, by the fact, that God numbered even the very hairs of the head. The argument is, if he takes care of birds of the least value; if he regards so small a thing as the hair of the head, and numbers it, he will certainly protect and provide for you. You need not, therefore, fear what man can do to you. Sparrows. Birds of very small kind and value, with a black throat and brown temples. They were used for food among the Jews; and were an image of sorrow, solitude, and wretchedness. Psal. cii. 7, "I am as a sparrow alone upon the house top." Without your Father. That is, God your Father guides and directs the fall of a sparrow. It falls only with his permission, and where he chooses. The hairs-are numbered. That is, each one has exercised the care and attention of God. He has fixed the number; and though of small importance, yet he does not think it beneath him to determine how few, or how many, they shall be. How much more will he take care of you? 32 Whosoever therefore shall confess me before men, 'him will I confess also before my Father which is in heaven. 33 'But whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father which is in heaven.
Luke xii. 8; Rom. x. 9, 10. s Rev. iii. 5. t Mark viii. 38; Luke ix. 26; 2 Tim. ii. 12.
32, 33. Whosoever therefore shall confess me, &c. To "confess Christ," means to acknowledge the Lord Jesus Christ, and our dependence on him for salvation, and our attachment to him, in every proper manner. This profession may be made in uniting with a church, at the communion, in conversation, and in conduct. The Scriptures mean, by a profession of religion, an exhibition of it in every circumstance of the life, and before all men. It is not merely in one act that we must do it, but in every act. We must be ashamed neither of the person, the character, the doctrines, nor the requirements of Christ. If we are--if we deny him in these things before men, or are unwilling to express our attachment to him in every way possible-then he shall disown all connection with us, or deny us, before God in the day of judgment.
34 "Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword. 35 For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. 36 And 'a man's foes shall be they of his own household.
u Luke xii. 49, 51, 52, 53. z Mic. vii. 6. y Psal. xl. 9, lv. 13; Mic. vii. 6; John xiii. 18. 34-36. Think not that I am come, &c. This is taken from Micah vii. 6. Christ did not say that the object of his coming was to produce discord and contention; for he was the Prince of peace. Isa. ix. 6, xi. 6; Luke ii. 14. But that such would be one of the effects of his coming. One part of a family that was opposed to him, would set themselves against those who believed in him. The wickedness of men, and not the religion of the Gospel, is the cause of this hostility. It is unneces sary to say that no prophecy has been more strikingly fulfilled; and it will continue to be fulfilled, till all unite in obeying his commandments. Then his religion will produce universal peace. But a sword. The sword is an instrument of death; and to send a sword, is the same as to produce hostility and war.
37 He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.
z Luke xiv. 26.
37. He that loveth father or mother, &c. The meaning of this is clear. Christ must be loved supremely, or he is not loved at all. If we are not willing to give up all earthly possessions, and forsake all earthly friends; and if we do not obey him rather than all others, we have no true attachIs not worthy of me. Is not fit to be regarded as a follower of me, or is not a
ment to him.
38 "And he that taketh not his cross, and followeth after me, is not worthy of me.
a Chap. xvi. 24; Mark viii. 34; Luke ix. 23, xiv, 27.
38. And he that taketh not his cross, &c. When persons were condemned to be crucified, a part of the sentence was, that they should carry the cross on which they were to die to the place of execution. Thus Christ carried his, till he fainted from fatigue and exhaustion. The cross was usually composed of two rough beams of wood. It was an instrument of death. To carry it was burdensome-was disgraceful-was trying to the feelings-was an addition to the punishment. So, to carry the cross is a figurative expression, denoting that we must endure whatever is burdensome, or trying, or considered as disgraceful, in following Christ. It consists simply in doing our duty, let the world think of it or speak of it as they may. It does not consist in making trouble for ourselves, or doing things merely to be opposed; it is doing just what is required of us in the Scriptures, let it produce whatever shame, disgrace, or pain it may. This every follower of Jesus is required to do.
39 He that findeth his life shall lose it: and he that loseth his life for my sake shall find it.
b Chap. xvi. 25; Luke xvii. 33; John xii. 25.
39. He that findeth his life, &c. The word life in this passage is used evidently in two senses. The meaning may be expressed thus: He that is anxious to save his temporal life, or his comfort and security here, shall lose eternal life, or shall fail of heaven. He that is willing to risk or lose his comfort and life here, for my sake, shall find life everlasting, or shall be saved.
He that receiveth you receiveth me, and he that receiveth me receiveth him that sent me. 41 He that receiveth a prophet in the name of a prophet shall receive a prophet's reward; and he that receiveth a righteous man in the name of a righteous man shall receive a righteous man's reward. 42 And whosoever shall give to drink unto one of these little ones a cup of cold water only in the name of a disciple, verily I say unto you, he shall in no wise lose his reward.
c Chap. xviii. 5; Luke ix. 48, x. 16; John xii. 44, xiii. 20; Gal. ix. 14. d 1 Kings xvii. 10, xviii. 4; 2 Kings iv. 8.
40-42. He that receiveth you, &c. In these three illustrations Christ teacheth substantially the same thing-that he that would entertain kindly, or treat with hospitality himself, his disciples, a prophet, or a righteous man, would show that he approved their character, and should not fail of proper reward. To receive in the name of a prophet, is to receive as a prophet, to do proper honour to his character, and to evince attachment to the cause in which he was engaged. These little ones. By these are clearly meant his disciples. They are called little ones, to denote their want of wealth, rank, learning, and whatever the world calls great. They were little in the estimation of the world, and in their own estimation. They were learners, not yet teachers; and they made no pretensions to what attracts the admiration of mankind. A cup of cold water only. Few would refuse a cup of cold water to any man, if thirsty and weary; and yet few would give it to such an one because he was a Christian, or to express attachment to the Lord Jesus. In bestowing it on a man because he was a Christian, he would show love to the Saviour himself; in the other case, he would give it from mere sympathy or kindness, evincing no regard for the Christian, the Christian's Master, or his cause. In one case, he would show that he loved the cause of religion; in the other, not.
1. From the narrative in this chapter, in connection with that in Luke, we are permitted to see the Saviour's habits in regard to prayer. An important event was before him-an event on which, humanly speaking, depended the whole success of his religion-the choice of those who should be his messengers to mankind. He felt its importance; and even the Son of God sought the place of prayer, and during the night watches asked the direction of his Father. His example shows that we, in great and trying circumstances, should seek particularly the direction of God.
2. We see the benevolence of the Gospel. Verses 7, 8. The apostles were to confer the highest favours on mankind without reward. Like air, and sunbeams, and water-gifts of God-they are
without price. The poor are welcome; the rich, unaided by their wealth, are welcome also; the wide world may freely come, and partake of the rich blessing of the Gospel of peace.
3. Ministers of the Gospel, and all the followers of Jesus, should depend on the providence of God for support, and the supply of their wants. Verses 9, 10. He sent his apostles into a cold, unfriendly world, and he took care of them. So all that trust him shall not want. The righteous shall not be forsaken. The God who has in his hand all the pearls of the ocean, the gold in the heart of the earth, and the cattle on a thousand hills, and that feeds the raven when it cries, will hear the cries of his children, and supply their wants.
4. We see the duty of treating kindly the messengers of salvation. Verses 11-13. Christ expected that in every city and town they would find some who would welcome them. He promised the reward of a prophet to those who should receive a prophet; and assured of his favour those who had nothing better to bestow than even a cup of cold water. The ministers of religion are sent to benefit the world. It is but right, that in that world they should be kindly received, and their wants supplied.
5. The guilt of rejecting the Gospel. Verses 14, 15. It is not a small matter to reject an offer of Heaven. A palace, a throne, a mine of gold, might be rejected, and, compared with rejecting the Gospel, it would be a trifle. But life eternal is not like thrones, and gold, and temples. This lost, all is lost. The Gospel rejected, all is gone. Nor hope, nor happiness, awaits him that hath spurned this offer. God requires every one to believe the Gospel; and woe, woe, a greater woe than befell the guilty cities of the plain, to him who rejects it!
6. Judgment will certainly overtake the guilty. Verse 15. It fell on Sodom, and it will fall on all transgressors. None shall escape. Damnation may slumber long over the wicked, and they may long mock the God of truth; but in due time their feet will slide, and all creation shall not be able to save them from woe. How dangerous, how awful, is the condition of an impenitent
7. We are to take proper care of our lives. Verse 23. The apostles were to flee from danger, when they could do it without denying their Lord. So are we. He that throws away his life, when it might have been, and ought to have been, preserved, is a self-murderer. He that exposes himself when duty does not require it, and whose life pays the forfeit, goes before God “rushing unbid into his Maker's presence," nor can he be held guiltless.
8. We are to persevere in our duty, through all trials. Verse 23. Neither the world, nor s poverty, persecution, nor death, is to appal us. He that endures to the end, shall be saved. have but one thing to do-to do the will of God, and leave the event with him.
9. God exercises a particular providence. Verses 29, 30. He watches the fallen sparrow, numbers the hairs of the head, and for the same reason presides over all other things. "The Lord reigneth," says the Psalmist; "let the earth rejoice." Psal. xcvii. 1.
10. The duty of making a profession of religion. Verses 32, 33. It must be done in the proper way, or Christ will disown us in the day of judgment. It is impossible to neglect it, and have evidence of piety. If ashamed of him, he will be of us.
11. Religion is easy, and easily tested. Verses 40-42. What more easy than to give a cup water to a stranger! and what more easy than to know from what motive we do it! Yet how many are there who, while they would do the thing, would yet lose eternal life, rather than do it with a view of honouring Christ, or showing attachment to him! How dreadful is the opposition of the human heart to religion!
2 John sendeth his disciples to Christ. 7 Christ's testimony concerning John. 18 The opinion of the people, both concerning John and Christ. 20 Christ upbraideth the unthankfulness and impenitence of Chorazin, Bethsaida, and Capernaum: 25 and praising his Father's wisdom in revealing the Gospel to the simple, 28 he calleth to him all such as feel the burden of their sins.
AND it came to pass, when Jesus had made an end of commanding his twelve disciples, he departed thence to teach and to preach in their
Ver. 1. And it came to pass, &c. The directions to his apostles were given in the vicinity of
Capernaum. He went from thence to preach in their cities; that is, in the cities in the vicinity of Capernaum, or in Galilee. He did not yet go into Judea.
2 *Now when John had heard 'in the prison the works of Christ, he sent two of his disciples,
a Luke vii. 18, 19. b Chap. xiv. 3.
2. The account contained in this chapter of Matthew, to the 19th verse, is found, with a few additional details, in Luke vii. 18-35. John was in prison. Herod had thrown him into confinement, on account of John's faithfulness in reproving him for marrying his brother Philip's wife. See Matt. xiv. 3, 4. It is not certainly known why John sent to Jesus. It might have been to satisfy his disciples that Jesus was the Messiah; or he might have been desirous of ascertaining for himself whether this person of whom he heard so much, was the same one whom he had baptized, and whom he knew to be the Messiah. See John i. 29.
3 And said unto him, Art thou he that should come, or do we look for another?
c Gen. xlix. 10; Num. xxiv. 17; Dan. ix. 24; John vi. 14.
3. Art thou he that should come. That is, art thou the Messiah, or the Christ? The Jews expected a Saviour. His coming had been long foretold. Gen. xlix. 10; Isa. ix. 1-6, xi. 1-5, xxxv. 4-6, liii.; Dan. ix. 24-27. See also John vi. 14; compare Deut. xviii. 18, 19. In common language, therefore, he was familiarly described as he that was to come. Luke adds here (vii. 21), that at the time when the messengers came to him, Jesus cured many of their infirmities, and plagues, and of evil spirits. An answer was, therefore, ready to the inquiries of John.
4 Jesus answered and said unto them, Go and shew John again those things which ye do hear and see: 5 The blind receive their sight, and the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, and the poor have the gospel preached to them.
d Isa. xxix. 18, xxxv. 4-6, xlii. 7; John îi. 23, iii. 2, v. 36, x. 25, 38, xiv. 11. e Ps. xxii. 26; Isa. lxi. 1; Luke iv. 18; James ii. 5.
4, 5. Go and shew John again, &c. Jesus referred them for an answer to these miracles. They were proof that he was the Messiah. Prophets had indeed wrought miracles, but no prophet had wrought so many, or any so important. Jesus, moreover, wrought them in his own name, and by his own power. Prophets had done it by the power of God. Jesus, therefore, performed the works which none but the Messiah could do; and John might easily infer that he was the Christ. The poor have the gospel preached to them. It was predicted of the Messiah, that he would preach good tidings to the meek (Isa. Ixi. 1); or, as it is rendered in the New Testament, preach the gospel to the poor. Luke iv. 18. By this, therefore, also, John might infer that he was truly the Messiah. It adds to the force of this testimony, that the poor have always been overlooked by Pharisees and philosophers. No sect of philosophers had condescended to notice them; and no system of religion had attempted to instruct them, before the Christian religion. In all other schemes, the poor have been passed by as unworthy of notice.
6 And blessed is he, whosoever shall not be offended in me.
ƒ Isa. viii. 14, 15; Chap. xiii. 57, xxiv. 10, xxvi. 31; Rom. ix. 32, 33; 1 Cor. i. 23, ii. 14; Gal. v. 11; 1 Pet. ii. 8.
6. And blessed is he, &c. The word offence means a stumbling-block. Note, Matt. v. 29. This verse might be rendered, "Happy is he to whom I shall not prove a stumbling-block!" That is, happy is he who shall not take offence at my poverty and lowliness of life, so as to reject me and my doctrine. Happy is he who can, notwithstanding that poverty and obscurity, see the evidence that I am the Messiah, and follow me! It is not improbable that John wished Jesus publicly to proclaim himself as the Christ, instead of seeking retirement. Jesus replied, that he gave sufficient evidence of that by his works; that a man might discover it if he chose; and that he was blessed who would seek that evidence, and embrace him as the Christ, in spite of his humble manner of life.
And as they departed, Jesus began to say unto the multitudes concerning John, What went ye out into the wilderness to see? "A reed shaken with the wind?
7. And as they departed, &c. Jesus took occasion, from the inquiries made by John's disciples, to instruct the people respecting the true character of John. Multitudes had gone out to hear him, when he preached in the desert (Matt. iii.); and it is probable that many had been attracted by the novelty of his appearance or doctrines, and many had gone simply to see and hear a man of singular habits and opinions. Probably many who followed Christ had been of that number. He took occasion, therefore, by some striking questions, to examine the motives by which they had been drawn to his ministry. A reed shaken with the wind? The region of country in which John preached, being overflowed annually by the Jordan, produced great quantities of reeds, or canes, of a light, fragile nature, easily shaken by the wind. They were, therefore, an image of a light, changing, inconstant man. John's sending to Christ to inquire his character, might have led some to suppose that he was changeful and inconstant, like a reed. He had once acknowledged him to be the Messiah, and now, being in prison, and sending to him to inquire into the fact, they might have supposed he had no firmness, or fixed principles. Jesus, by asking this question, declared, that notwithstanding this appearance, this was not the character of John.
8 But what went ye out for to see? A man clothed in soft raiment? behold, they that wear soft clothing are in kings' houses.
8. Clothed in soft raiment. The kind of raiment here denoted was the light, thin clothing worn by effeminate persons. It was made commonly of fine linen, and was worn chiefly for ornament. Christ asks them whether they were attracted by any thing like that. He says that the desert was not the place to expect it. In the palaces of kings, in the court of Herod, it might be expected; but not in the place where John was. This kind of clothing was expressive of riches, splendour, effeminacy, feebleness of character. Such was not the character of John; his qualities were such as fitted him to be the forerunner of the toiling and suffering Messiah.
9 But what went ye out for to see? more than a prophet.
A prophet? yea, I say unto you, 'and
i Chap. xiv. 5, xxi. 26; Luke i. 76, vii. 26.
9. A prophet? He next asks whether they went to see a prophet. They had regarded him as such; and Jesus tells them, that in this their apprehension of him was correct.
More than a prophet. Sustaining a character more elevated and sacred than the most distinguished of the ancient prophets. Those had been regarded as the most eminent of the prophets who had most clearly predicted the Messiah. Isaiah had been distinguished above all others for the sublimity of his writings, and the clearness with which he had foretold the coming of Christ; yet John surpassed even him. He lived in the time of the Christ; he predicted Ilis coming with still more clearness; he was the instrument of introducing Him to the nation; he was, therefore, first among the prophets. 10 For this is he, of whom it is written, Behold, I send my messenger before thy face, which shall prepare thy way before thee.
k Mal. iii. 1; Mark i. 2; Luke i. 76, vii, 27.
10. For this is he, &c. The passage of Scripture here quoted is found in Mal. iii. 1. stance of it is contained also in Isa. xl. 3. Prepare thy way. That is, to prepare the people; to make them ready, by proper instructions, to receive the Messiah.
11 Verily I say unto you, Among them that are born of women there hath not risen a greater than John the Baptist: notwithstanding he that is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.
11. Them that are born of women. This is an emphatic way of saying that there had never been a greater man than John. He that is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he. The phrase, "kingdom of heaven" is used in many senses. It here probably means, in preaching the kingdom of God, or the Gospel. It could hardly be affirmed of the obscurest and most ignorant Christian, that he had clearer views than Isaiah or John; but of the apostles of the Saviour, of the first preachers, who were with him, and who heard his instructions, it might be said, that they had more correct apprehensions than any of the ancient prophets, or John.
12 'And from the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffereth violence, and the violent take it by force.
Luke xvi. 16. Or, is gotten by force, and they that thrust men.