Commentary Critical and Explanatory
on the Whole Bible
4. he was worthy--a testimony most precious, coming from those who
probably were strangers to the principle from which he acted
5. loved our nation--Having found that "salvation was of the Jews," he
loved them for it.
built, &c.--His love took this practical and appropriate form.
(In Luke only).
11. Nain--a small village not elsewhere mentioned in Scripture, and
only this once probably visited by our Lord; it lay a little to the
south of Mount Tabor, about twelve miles from Capernaum.
12. carried out--"was being carried out." Dead bodies, being
ceremonially unclean, were not allowed to be buried within the cities
(though the kings of David's house were buried m the city of David), and
the funeral was usually on the same day as the death.
only son, &c.--affecting particulars, told with delightful simplicity.
13. the Lord--"This sublime appellation is more usual with Luke and
John than Matthew; Mark holds the mean" [BENGEL].
saw her, he had compassion, &c.--What consolation to thousands of
the bereaved has this single verse carried from age to age!
14, 15. What mingled majesty and grace shines in this scene! The
Resurrection and the Life in human flesh, with a word of command,
bringing back life to the dead body; Incarnate Compassion summoning its
absolute power to dry a widow's tears!
16. visited his people--more than bringing back the days of Elijah and
29, 30. And all the people that heard--"on hearing (this)." These
are the observations of the Evangelist, not of our Lord.
and the publicans--a striking clause.
justified God, being baptized, &c.--rather, "having been baptized."
The meaning is, They acknowledged the divine wisdom of such a
preparatory ministry as John's, in leading them to Him who now spake to
Lu 1:16, 17);
whereas the Pharisees and lawyers, true to themselves in refusing the
baptism of John, set at naught also the merciful design of God in the
Saviour Himself, to their own destruction.
31-35. the Lord said, &c.--As cross, capricious children, invited
by their playmates to join them in their amusements, will play with them
neither at weddings nor funerals (juvenile imitations of the joyous and
mournful scenes of life), so that generation rejected both John and his
Master: the one because he was too unsocial--more like a demoniac than a
rational man; the other, because He was too much the reverse, given to
animal indulgences, and consorting with the lowest classes of society.
But the children of Wisdom recognize and honor her, whether in the
austere garb of the Baptist or in the more attractive style of his
Master, whether in the Law or in the Gospel, whether in rags or in
royalty, for "the full soul loatheth an honeycomb, but
to the hungry soul every bitter thing is sweet"
37, 38. a sinner--one who had led a profligate life.
Note.--There is no ground whatever for the popular notion that this
woman was Mary Magdalene, nor do we know what her name was. (See
an alabaster box of ointment--a perfume vessel, in some cases very
"The ointment has here a peculiar interest, as the offering by a
penitent of what had been an accessory in her unhallowed work of sin"
38. at his feet behind him--the posture at meals being a reclining
one, with the feet out behind.
began to wash, &c.--to "water with a shower." The tears, which were
quite involuntary, poured down in a flood upon His naked feet, as
she bent down to kiss them; and deeming them rather fouled than washed
by this, she hastened to wipe them off with the only towel she had, the
long tresses of her own hair, "with which slaves were wont to wash their
masters' feet" [STIER].
kissed--The word signifies "to kiss fondly, to caress," or to "kiss
again and again," which
shows is meant here. What prompted this? Much love, springing from a
sense of much forgiveness. So says He who knew her heart
Where she had met with Christ before, or what words of His had brought
life to her dead heart and a sense of divine pardon to her guilty soul,
we know not. But probably she was of the crowd of "publicans and
sinners" whom Incarnate Compassion drew so often around Him, and
heard from His lips some of those words such as never man spake, "Come
unto Me, all ye that labour," &c. No personal interview had up to this
time taken place between them; but she could keep her feelings no
longer to herself, and having found her way to Him (and entered along
they burst forth in this surpassing yet most artless style, as if her
whole soul would go out to Him.
39. the Pharisee--who had formed no definite opinion of our Lord,
and invited Him apparently to obtain materials for a judgment.
spake within himself, &c.--"Ha! I have Him now; He plainly knows
nothing of the person He allows to touch Him; and so, He can be no
prophet." Not so fast, Simon; thou hast not seen through thy Guest yet,
but He hath seen through thee.
40-43. Like Nathan with David, our Lord conceals His home thrust under
the veil of a parable, and makes His host himself pronounce upon the
case. The two debtors are the woman and Simon; the criminality of the
one was ten times that of the other (in the proportion of "five
hundred" to "fifty"); but both being equally insolvent, both are with
equal frankness forgiven; and Simon is made to own that the greatest
debtor to forgiving mercy will cling to her Divine Benefactor with the
deepest gratitude. Does our Lord then admit that Simon was a forgiving
man? Let us see.
44-47. I entered . . . no water--a compliment to guests. Was this "much
love?" Was it any?
45. no kiss--of salutation. How much love was here? Any at all?
46. with oil . . . not anoint--even common olive oil in contrast
with the woman's "ointment" or aromatic balsam. What evidence was
thus afforded of any feeling which forgiveness prompts? Our Lord speaks
this with delicate politeness, as if hurt at these inattentions of
His host, which though not invariably shown to guests, were the
customary marks of studied respect and regard. The inference is
plain--only one of the debtors was really forgiven, though in the
first instance, to give room for the play of withheld feelings, the
forgiveness of both is supposed in the parable.
47. Her sins which are many--"Those many sins of hers," our Lord, who
admitted how much more she owed than the Pharisee, now proclaims in
naked terms the forgiveness of her guilt.
for--not because, as if love were the cause of forgiveness, but
"inasmuch as," or "in proof of which." The latter clause of the verse,
and the whole structure of the parable, plainly show this to be the
little forgiven . . . loveth little--delicately ironical intimation of
no love and no forgiveness in the present case.
48. said unto her, &c.--an unsought assurance, usually springing up
unexpected in the midst of active duty and warm affections, while often
it flies from those who mope and are paralyzed for want of it.
49, 50. they that sat . . . Who is this, &c.--No wonder they were
startled to hear One who was reclining at the same couch, and partaking
of the same hospitalities with themselves, assume the awful prerogative
of "even forgiving sins." But so far from receding from this claim, or
softening it down, our Lord only repeats it, with two precious
additions: one, announcing what was the one secret of the "forgiveness"
she had experienced, and which carried "salvation" in its bosom; the
other, a glorious dismissal of her in that "peace" which she had already
felt, but is now assured she has His full warrant to enjoy! This
wonderful scene teaches two very weighty truths: (1)
Though there be degrees of guilt, insolvency, or inability to wipe out the
dishonor done to God, is common to all sinners. (2)
As Christ is the Great Creditor to whom all debt, whether great or small,
contracted by sinners is owing, so to Him belongs the
prerogative of forgiving it. This latter truth is brought out in the
structure and application of the present parable as it is nowhere else.
Either then Jesus was a blaspheming deceiver, or He is God manifest in