In this chapter, we have,
I. Christ's dispute with the Pharisees concerning divorce,
II. The kind entertainment he gave to the little children that were
brought to him to be blessed,
III. His trial of the rich man that enquired what he must do to get to
IV. His discourse with his disciples, upon that occasion, concerning
the peril of riches
and the advantage of being impoverished for his sake,
V. The repeated notice he gave his disciples of his sufferings and
VI. The counsel he gave to James and John, to think of suffering with
him, rather than of reigning with him,
VII. The cure of Bartimeus, a poor blind man,
All which passages of story we had the substance of before,
1 And he arose from thence, and cometh into the coasts of
Judæa by the farther side of Jordan: and the people resort unto
him again; and, as he was wont, he taught them again.
2 And the Pharisees came to him, and asked him, Is it lawful
for a man to put away his wife? tempting him.
3 And he answered and said unto them, What did Moses command
4 And they said, Moses suffered to write a bill of divorcement,
and to put her away.
5 And Jesus answered and said unto them, For the hardness of
your heart he wrote you this precept.
6 But from the beginning of the creation God made them male and
7 For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and
cleave to his wife;
8 And they twain shall be one flesh: so then they are no more
twain, but one flesh.
9 What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put
10 And in the house his disciples asked him again of the same
11 And he saith unto them, Whosoever shall put away his wife,
and marry another, committeth adultery against her.
12 And if a woman shall put away her husband, and be married to
another, she committeth adultery.
Our Lord Jesus was an itinerant Preacher, did not continue long in a
place, for the whole land of Canaan was his parish, or diocese, and
therefore he would visit every part of it, and give instructions to
those in the remotest corners of it. Here we have him in the
coasts of Judea, by the further side of Jordan eastward, as we
found him, not long since, in the utmost borders westward, near Tyre
and Sidon. Thus was his circuit like that of the sun, from whose light
and heat nothing is hid. Now here we have him,
I. Resorted to by the people,
Wherever he was, they flocked after him in crowds; they came to him
again, as they had done when he had formerly been in these
parts, and, as he was wont, he taught them again. Note,
Preaching was Christ's constant practice; it was what he was used to,
and, wherever he came, he did as he was wont. In Matthew it is
said, He healed them; here it is said, He taught them:
his cures were to confirm his doctrine, and to recommend it, and his
doctrine was to explain his cures, and illustrate them. He taught
them again. Note, Even those whom Christ hath taught, have need to
be taught again. Such is the fulness of the Christian doctrine,
that there is still more to be learned; and such our forgetfulness,
that we need to be reminded of what we do know.
II. We have him disputed with by the Pharisees, who envied the
progress of his spiritual arms, and did all they could to obstruct and
oppose it; to divert him, to perplex him, and to prejudice the people
1. A question they started concerning divorce
Is it lawful for a man to put away his wife? This was a good
question, if it had been well put, and with a humble desire to know the
mind of God in this matter; but they proposed it, tempting him,
seeking an occasion against him, and an opportunity to expose him,
which side soever he should take of the question. Ministers must stand
upon their guard, lest, under pretence of being advised with, they be
2. Christ's reply to them with a question
What did Moses command you? This he asked them, to testify his
respect to the law of Moses, and to show that he came not to destroy
it; and to engage them to a universal impartial respect for Moses's
writings and to compare one part of them with another.
3. The fair account they gave of what they found in the law of Moses,
expressly concerning divorce,
Christ asked, What did Moses command you? They own that Moses
only suffered, or permitted, a man to write his wife a
bill of divorce, and to put her away,
"If you will do it, you must do it in writing, delivered
into her own hand, and so put her away, and never return to her
4. The answer that Christ gave to their question, in which he abides by
the doctrine he had formerly laid down in this case
That whosoever puts away his wife, except for fornication, causeth
her to commit adultery. And to clear this he here shows,
(1.) That the reason why Moses, in his law, permitted divorce,
was such, as that they ought not to make use of that permission; for it
was only for the hardness of their hearts
lest, if they were not permitted to divorce their wives, they should
murder them; so that none must put away their wives but such as are
willing to own that their hearts were so hard as to need this
(2.) That the account which Moses, in this history, gives of the
institution of marriage, affords such a reason against divorce, as
amounts to a prohibition of it. So that if the question be, What did
it must be answered, "Though by a temporary proviso he allowed divorce
to the Jews, yet by an eternal reason he forbade it to all the children
of Adam and Eve, and that is it which we must abide by."
Moses tells us,
[1.] That God made man male and female, one male, and one
female; so that Adam could not put away his wife and take
another, for there was no other to take, which was an intimation to all
his sons, that they must not.
[2.] When this male and this female were, by the ordinance of God,
joined together in holy marriage, the law was, That a man must leave
his father and mother, and cleave to his wife
which intimates not only the nearness of the relation, but the
perpetuity of it; he shall so cleave to his wife as not to be separated
[3.] The result of the relation is, That, though they are two,
yet they are one, they are one flesh,
The union between them is the most intimate that can be, and, as Dr.
Hammond expresses it, a sacred thing that must not be violated.
[4.] God himself was joined them together; he has not only, as
Creator, fitted them to be comforts and helps meet for each other, but
he has, in wisdom and goodness, appointed them who are thus joined
together, to live together in love till death parts them. Marriage is
not an invention of men, but a divine institution, and therefore is to
be religiously observed, and the more, because it is a figure of the
mystical inseparable union between Christ and his church.
Now from all this he infers, that men ought not to put their
wives asunder from them, whom God has put so near them. The bond
which God himself has tied, is not to be lightly untied. They who are
divorcing their wives for every offence, would do well to consider what
would become of them, if God should in like manner deal with them. See
Isa. l. 1; Jer. iii. 1.
5. Christ's discourse with his disciples, in private, about this
It was an advantage to them, that they had opportunity of personal
converse with Christ, not only about gospel mysteries, but about moral
duties, for further satisfaction. No more is here related of this
private conference, that the law Christ laid down in this case--That it
is adultery for a man to put away his wife, and marry another; it is
adultery against the wife he puts away, it is a wrong to her, a
breach of his contract with her,
He adds, If a woman shall put away her husband, that is, elope
from him, leave him by consent, and be married to another, she
and it will be no excuse at all for her to say that it was with the
consent of her husband. Wisdom and grace, holiness and love, reigning
in the heart, will make those commands easy which to the carnal mind
may be as a heavy yoke.
|Christ's Love to Little Children.
13 And they brought young children to him, that he should touch
them: and his disciples rebuked those that brought them.
14 But when Jesus saw it, he was much displeased, and said
unto them, Suffer the little children to come unto me, and forbid
them not: for of such is the kingdom of God.
15 Verily I say unto you, Whosoever shall not receive the
kingdom of God as a little child, he shall not enter therein.
16 And he took them up in his arms, put his hands upon them,
and blessed them.
It is looked upon as the indication of a kind and tender disposition to
take notice of little children, and this was remarkable in our Lord
Jesus, which is an encouragement not only to little children to apply
themselves to Christ when they are very young, but to grown people, who
are conscious to themselves of weakness and childishness, and of being,
through manifold infirmities, helpless and useless, like little
children. Here we have,
I. Little children brought to Christ,
Their parents, or whoever they were that had the nursing of them,
brought them to him, that he should touch them, in token of his
commanding and conferring a blessing on them. It doth not appear that
they needed any bodily cure, nor were they capable of being
taught: but it seems,
1. That they had the care of them were mostly concerned about their
souls, their better part, which ought to be the principal care of
all parents for their children; for that is the principal part, and it
is well with them, it if be well with their souls.
2. They believed that Christ's blessing would do their souls good; and
therefore to him they brought them, that he might touch them,
knowing that he could reach their hearts, when nothing their parents
could say to them, or do for them, would reach them. We may present our
children to Christ, now that he is in heaven, for from thence he can
reach them with his blessing, and therein we may act faith upon the
fulness and extent of his grace, the kind intimations he hath always
given of favour to the seed of the faithful, the tenour of the covenant
with Abraham, and the promise to us and to our children,
especially that great promise of pouring his Spirit upon our
seed, and his blessing upon our offspring,
II. The discouragement which the disciples gave to the bringing
of children to Christ; They rebuked them that brought them; as
if they had been sure that they knew their Master's mind in this
matter, whereas he had lately cautioned them not to despise the
III. The encouragement Christ gave to it.
1. He took it very ill that his disciples should keep them off; When
he saw it, he was much displeased,
"What do you mean? Will you hinder me from doing good, from doing good
to the rising generation, to the lambs of the flock?" Christ is very
angry with his own disciples, if they discountenance any in coming to
him themselves, or in bringing their children to him.
2. He ordered that they should be brought to him, and nothing
said or done to hinder them; suffer little children, as soon as
they are capable, to come to me, to offer up their supplications
to me, and to receive instructions from me. Little children are welcome
betimes to the throne of grace with their Hosannas.
3. He owned them as members of his church, as they had been of the
Jewish church. He came to set up the kingdom of God among men,
and took this occasion to declare that that kingdom admitted little
children to be the subjects of it, and gave them a title to the
privileges of subjects. Nay, the kingdom of God is to be kept up by
such: they must be taken in when they are little children, that they
may be secured for hereafter, to bear up the name of Christ.
4. That there must be something of the temper and disposition of little
children found in all that Christ will own and bless. We must
receive the kingdom of God as little children
that is, we must stand affected to Christ and his grace as little
children do to their parents, nurses, and teachers. We must be
inquisitive, as children, must learn as children (that is the
learning age), and in learning must believe, Oportet discentem
credere--A learner must believe. The mind of a child is white paper
(tabula rasa--a mere blank), you may write upon it what you
will; such must our minds be to the pen of the blessed Spirit. Children
are under government; so must we be. Lord, what wilt thou have me to
do? We must receive the kingdom of God as the child Samuel did,
Speak, Lord, for thy servant heareth. Little children depend
upon their parents' wisdom and care, are carried in their arms, go
where they send them, and take what they provide for them; and thus
must we receive the kingdom of God, with a humble resignation of
ourselves to Jesus Christ, and an easy dependence upon him, both for
strength and righteousness, for tuition, provision, and a portion.
5. He received the children, and gave them what was desired
He took them up in his arms, in token of his affectionate
concern for them; put his hands upon them, as was desired, and
blessed them. She how he out-did the desires of these parents;
they begged he would touch them, but he did more.
(1.) He took them in his arms. Now the scripture was fulfilled
He shall gather the lambs in his arms, and carry them in his
bosom. Time was, when Christ himself was taken up in old Simeon's
And now he took up these children, not complaining of the burthen (as
Moses did, when he was bid to carry Israel, that peevish child,
in his bosom, as a nursing father bears the sucking child,
but pleased with it. If we in a right manner bring our children to
Christ, he will take them up, not only in the arms of his power and
providence, but in the arms of his pity and grace (as
underneath them are the everlasting arms.
(2.) He put his hands upon them, denoting the bestowing of his
Spirit upon them (for that is the hand of the Lord), and his setting
them apart for himself.
(3.) He blessed them with the spiritual blessings he came to
give. Our children are happy, if they have but the Mediator's
blessing for their portion. It is true, we do not read that he
baptized these children, baptism was not fully settled as the door of
admission into the church until after Christ's resurrection; but he
asserted their visible church-membership, and by another sign bestowed
those blessings upon them, which are now appointed to be conveyed and
conferred by baptism, the seal of the promise, which is to us
and to our children.
|A Hopeful Youth Falling Short of Heaven.
17 And when he was gone forth into the way, there came one
running, and kneeled to him, and asked him, Good Master, what
shall I do that I may inherit eternal life?
18 And Jesus said unto him, Why callest thou me good? there
is none good but one, that is, God.
19 Thou knowest the commandments, Do not commit adultery, Do
not kill, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Defraud not,
Honour thy father and mother.
20 And he answered and said unto him, Master, all these have I
observed from my youth.
21 Then Jesus beholding him loved him, and said unto him, One
thing thou lackest: go thy way, sell whatsoever thou hast, and
give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and
come, take up the cross, and follow me.
22 And he was sad at that saying, and went away grieved: for he
had great possessions.
23 And Jesus looked round about, and saith unto his disciples,
How hardly shall they that have riches enter into the kingdom of
24 And the disciples were astonished at his words. But Jesus
answereth again, and saith unto them, Children, how hard is it
for them that trust in riches to enter into the kingdom of God!
25 It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle,
than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God.
26 And they were astonished out of measure, saying among
themselves, Who then can be saved?
27 And Jesus looking upon them saith, With men it is
impossible, but not with God: for with God all things are
28 Then Peter began to say unto him, Lo, we have left all, and
have followed thee.
29 And Jesus answered and said, Verily I say unto you, There is
no man that hath left house, or brethren, or sisters, or father,
or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my sake, and the
30 But he shall receive a hundredfold now in this time,
houses, and brethren, and sisters, and mothers, and children, and
lands, with persecutions; and in the world to come eternal life.
31 But many that are first shall be last; and the last first.
I. Here is a hopeful meeting between Christ and a young
man; such he is said to be
and a ruler
a person of quality. Some circumstances here are, which we had not in
Matthew, which makes his address to Christ very promising.
1. He came running to Christ, which was an indication of his
humility; he laid aside the gravity and grandeur of a ruler, when he
came to Christ: thus too he manifested his earnestness and importunity;
he ran as one in haste, and longing to be in conversation
with Christ. He had now an opportunity of consulting this great
Prophet, in the things that belonged to his peace, and he would not let
slip the opportunity.
2. He came to him when he was in the way, in the midst of
company: he did not insist upon a private conference with him by night,
as Nicodemus did, though like him he was a ruler, but when he shall
find him without, will embrace that opportunity of advising
with him, and not be ashamed,
Song of Solomon 8:1.
3. He kneeled to him, in token of the great value and veneration
he had for him, as a teacher come from God, and his earnest desire to
be taught by him. He bowed the knee to the Lord Jesus, as one that
would not only do obeisance to him now, but would yield
obedience to him always; he bowed the knee, as one that
meant to bow the soul to him.
4. His address to him was serious and weighty; Good Master, what
shall I do, that I may inherit eternal life? Eternal life was an
article of his creed, though then denied by the Sadducees, a prevailing
party: he asks, What shall he do now that he may be happy for ever.
Most men enquire for good to be had in this world
any good; he asks for good to be done in this world, in
order to the enjoyment of the greatest good in the other world; not,
Who will make us to see good? But, "Who will make us to do
good?" He enquires for happiness in the way of duty;
the summum bonum--chief good which Solomon was in quest of, was
that good for the sons of men which they do should do,
Now this was,
(1.) A very serious question in itself; it was about eternal things,
and his own concern in those things. Note, Then there begins to
be some hope of people, when they begin to enquire solicitously, what
they shall do to get to heaven.
(2.) It was proposed to a right person, one that was every way fit to
answer it, being himself the Way, the Truth, and the
Life, the true way to life, to eternal life; who came from
heaven on purpose, first to lay open for us, and then to
lay open to us; first to make, and then to make known, the way
to heaven. Note, Those who would know what they shall do to be
saved, must apply themselves to Christ, and enquire of him; it is
peculiar to the Christian religion, both to show eternal life, and to
show the way to it.
(3.) It was proposed with a good design--to be instructed. We find this
same question put by a lawyer, not kneeling, but standing up
with a bad design, to pick quarrels with him; he tempted him,
saying, Master, what shall I do? It is not so much the good
words as the good intention of them that Christ looks
5. Christ encouraged this address,
(1.) By assisting his faith,
He called him good Master; Christ would have him mean thereby,
that he looked upon him to be God, since there is none good but
one, that is God, who is one, and his name one,
Our English word God doubtless hath affinity with good;
as the Hebrews name God by his power, Elohim, the strong God; so
we by his goodness, the good God.
(2.) By directing his practice
Keep the commandments; and thou knowest what they are. He
mentions the six commandments of the second table, which prescribe our
duty to our neighbour; he inverts the order, putting the seventh
commandment before the sixth, to intimate that adultery is a sin
no less heinous than murder itself. The fifth commandment is
here put last, as that which should especially be remembered and
observed, to keep us to all the rest. Instead of the tenth
commandment, Thou shalt not covet, our Saviour here puts,
Defraud not. Me apostereses--that is, saith Dr.
Hammond, "Thou shalt not rest contented with thy own, and not seek to
increase it by the diminution of other men's." It is a rule of justice
not to advance or enrich ourselves by doing wrong or injury to any
6. The young man bid fair for heaven, having been free from any open
gross violations of the divine commands. Thus far he was able to same
in some measure
Master, all these have I observed from my youth. He thought he
had, and his neighbours thought so too. Note, Ignorance of the extent
and spiritual nature of the divine law, makes people think themselves
in a better condition than they really are. Paul was alive without
the law. But when he saw that to be spiritual, he saw
himself to be carnal,
However, he that could say he was free from scandalous sin, went
further than many in the way to eternal life. But though we know
nothing by ourselves, yet are we not thereby justified.
1 Corinthians 4:4.
7. Christ had a kindness for him; Jesus, beholding him, loved
He was pleased to find that he had lived inoffensively, and pleased to
see that he was inquisitive how to live better than so. Christ
particularly loves to see young people, and rich people,
asking the way to heaven, with their faces thitherward.
II. Here is a sorrowful parting between Christ and this young
1. Christ gave him a command of trial, by which it would appear whether
he did in sincerity aim at eternal life, and press towards it: he
seemed to have his heart much upon it, and if so, he is what he should
be; but has he indeed his heart upon it? Bring him to the touchstone.
(1.) Can he find in his heart to part with his riches for the
service of Christ? He hath a good estate, and now, shortly, at the
first founding of the Christian church, the necessity of the case will
require that those who have lands, sell them, and lay the money at
the apostles' feet; and how will he dispense with that?
After awhile, tribulation and persecution will arise, because of the
word; and he must be forced to sell his estate, or have it taken from
him, and how will he like that? Let him know the worst now; if he will
not come up to these terms, let him quit his pretensions; as good as
the first as at last. "Sell whatsoever thou hast over and above
what is necessary for thy support;" probably, he had no family to
provide for; let him therefore be a father to the poor, and make
them his heirs. Every man, according to his ability, must relieve the
poor, and be content, when there is occasion, to straiten himself to do
it. Worldly wealth is given us, not only as maintenance to bear
our charges through this world, according to our place in it, but as
talent, to be used and employed for the glory of our great
Master in the world, who hath so ordered it, that the poor we should
have always with us as his receivers.
(2.) Can he find it in his heart to go through the hardest costliest
services he may be called to as a disciple of Christ, and depend upon
him for a recompence in heaven? He asks Christ what he should do
more than he has done to obtain eternal life, and Christ puts it
to him, whether he has indeed that firm belief of, and that high value
for, eternal life that he seems to have. Doth he really believe there
is a true treasure in heaven sufficient to make up all he can leave, or
lose, or lay out, for Christ? Is he willing to deal with Christ upon
trust? Can he give him credit for all he is worth; and be willing
to bear a present cross, in expectation of a future crown?
2. Upon this he flew off
He was sad at that saying; was sorry that he could not be a
follower of Christ upon any easier terms than leaving all to follow
him; that he could not lay hold on eternal life, and keep
hold of his temporal possessions too. But since he could not come
up to the terms of discipleship, he was so fair as not to pretend to
it; He went away grieved. Here appeared the truth of that
Ye cannot serve God and mammon; while he held to mammon he did
in effect despise Christ, as all those do who prefer the world
before him. He bids for what he has a mind for in the market, yet goes
away grieved, and leaves it, because he cannot have it at his own
price. Two words to a bargain. Motions are not marriages. That which
ruined this young man was, he had great possessions; thus the
prosperity of fools destroys them, and those who spend their
days in wealth are tempted to say to God, Depart from us; or to
their hearts, Depart from God.
III. Here is Christ's discourse with his disciples. We are tempted to
wish that Christ had mollified that saying which frightened this
young gentleman from following him, and by an explanation taken off the
harshness of it: but he knew all men's hearts; he would not court him
to be his follower, because he was a rich man and a ruler; but,
if he will go, let him go. Christ will keep no man against his will;
and therefore we do not find that Christ called him back, but took this
occasion to instruct his disciples in two things.
1. The difficulty of the salvation of those who have an abundance of
this world; because there are few who have a deal to leave, that
can be persuaded to leave it for Christ, or to lay it out in
(1.) Christ asserts this here; He looked about upon his
disciples, because he would have them all take notice of what he
said, that by it they might have their judgments rightly informed, and
their mistakes rectified, concerning worldly wealth, which they were
apt to over-rate; How hardly shall they who have riches enter into
the kingdom of God!
They have many temptations to grapple with, and many difficulties to
get over, which lie not in the way of poor people. But he explains
where he calls the disciples children, because as such they
should be taught by him, and portioned by him with better
things than this young man left Christ to cleave to; and whereas he had
said, How hardly will those who have riches get to heaven; here
he tells them, that the danger arose not so much from their
having riches as from their trusting to them, and placing
their confidence in them, expecting protection, provision, and a
portion from them; saying that to their gold, which they should
say only to their God, Thou art my hope,
They have such a value as this for the wealth of the world, will never
be brought to put a right value upon Christ and his grace. They that
have ever so much riches, but do not trust in them, that
see the vanity of them, and their utter insufficiency to make a soul
happy, have got over the difficulty, and can easily part with them for
Christ: but they have ever so little, if they set their hearts upon
that little, and place their happiness in it, it will keep them from
Christ. He enforces this assertion with,
It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for
a rich man, that trusts in riches, or inclines to do so,
to enter into the kingdom of God. The disproportion here seems
so great (though the more it is so the more it answers the intention),
that some have laboured to bring the camel and the eye of the needle a
little nearer together.
[1.] Some imagine there might be some wicket-gate, or door, to
Jerusalem, commonly known by the name of the needle's eye, for
its straitness, through which a camel could not be got, unless he were
unloaded, and made to kneel, as those camel,
So a rich man cannot get to heaven unless he is willing to part with
the burthen of his worldly wealth, and stoop to the duties of a humble
religion, and so enter at the strait gate.
[2.] Others suggest that the word we translate a camel,
sometimes signifies a cable-rope, which, though not to be got through a
needle's eye, yet is of great affinity to it. A rich man, compared with
the poor, is as a cable to a single thread, stronger, but not so
pliable, and it will not go through the needle's eye, unless it
be untwisted. So the rich man must be loosed and disentangled from his
riches, and then there is some hope of him, that thread by thread he
may be got through the eye of the needle, otherwise he is good for
nothing but to cast anchor in the earth.
(2.) This truth was very surprising to the disciples; They were
astonished at his words,
They were astonished out of measure, and said among themselves, Who
then can be saved? They knew what were generally the sentiments of
the Jewish teachers, who affirmed that the Spirit of God chooses to
reside in rich men; nay, they knew what abundance of promises there
were, in the Old Testament, of temporal good things; they knew likewise
that all either are rich, or fain would be so, and that they who are
rich, have so much the larger opportunities of doing good, and
therefore were amazed to hear that it should be so hard for rich people
to go to heaven.
(3.) Christ reconciled them to it, by referring it to the almighty
power of God, to help even rich people over the difficulties that lie
in the way of their salvation
He looked upon them, to engage their attention, and said,
"With men it is impossible; rich people cannot by their own
skill or resolution get over these difficulties, but the grace of God
can do it, for with him all things are possible." If the
righteous scarcely are saved, much more may we say so of the
rich; and therefore when any get to heaven, they must give all
the glory to God, who worketh in them both to will and to
2. The greatness of the salvation of those that have but a little of
this world, and leave it for Christ. This he speaks of, upon occasion
of Peter's mentioning what he and the rest of the disciples had left to
follow him; Behold, (saith he), we have left all to follow
"You have done well," saith Christ, "and it will prove in the
end that you have done well for yourselves; you shall be
abundantly recompensed, and not only you shall be reimbursed,
who have left but a little, but those that have ever so much, though it
were so much as this young man had, that could not persuade himself to
quit it for Christ; yet they shall have much more than an equivalent
(1.) The loss is supposed to be very great; he specifies,
[1.] Worldly wealth; houses are here put first, and lands
last: if a man quit his house, which should be for his
habitation, and his land, which should be for his maintenance,
and so make himself a beggar and an outcast. This has been the choice
of suffering saints; farewell houses and lands, though ever so
convenient and desirable, through the inheritance of fathers, for the
house which is from heaven, and the inheritance of the saints in light,
where are many mansions.
[2.] Dear relations. Father and mother, wife and children, brethren
and sisters. In these, as much as in any temporal blessing, the
comfort of life is bound up; without these the world would be a
wilderness; yet, when we must either for sake these or Christ, we must
remember that we stand in nearer relation to Christ than we do to any
creature; and therefore to keep in with him, we must be content to
break with all the world, and to say to father and mother, as Levi did,
I have not known you. The greatest trial of a good man's
constancy is, when his love to Christ comes to stand in competition
with a love that is lawful, nay, that is his duty. It is easy to such a
one to forsake a lust for Christ, for he hath that within him,
that rises against it; but to forsake a father, a
brother, a wife, for Christ, that is, to forsake those
whom he knows he must love, is hard. And yet he must do so, rather than
deny or disown Christ. Thus great is the loss supposed to be; but it is
for Christ's sake, that he may be honoured, and the
gospel's, that it may be promoted and propagated. It is not the
suffering, but the cause, that makes the martyr.
(2.) The advantage will be great.
[1.] They shall receive a hundred-fold in this time, houses, and
brethren, and sisters; not in specie, but that which is
equivalent. He shall have abundance of comfort while he lives,
sufficient to make up for all his losses; his relation to Christ, his
communion with the saints, and his title to eternal life, shall be to
him brethren, and sisters, and houses, and all.
God's providence gave Job double to what he had had, but suffering
Christians shall have a hundred-fold in the comforts of the
Spirit sweetening their creature comforts. But observe, It is added
here in Mark, with persecutions. Even when they are gainers by
Christ, let them still expect to be sufferers for him; and not be out
of the reach of persecution, till they come to heaven. Nay, The
persecutions seem to come in here among the receivings in
this present time; for unto you it is given, not only to believe in
Christ, but also to suffer for his name; yet this is not all,
[2.] They shall have eternal life in the world to come. If they
receive a hundred-fold in this world, one would think they should not
be encouraged to expect any more. Yet, as if that were a small matter,
they shall have life eternal into the bargain; which is more
than ten thousand-fold, ten thousand times told, for all their losses.
But because they talked so much, and really more than became them, of
leaving all for Christ, he tells them, though they were first
called, that there should be disciples called after them, that
should be preferred before them; as St. Paul, who was one born out
of due time, and yet laboured more abundantly than all the rest of
1 Corinthians 15:10.
Then the first were last, and the last first.
|Christ's Prediction of His Sufferings.
32 And they were in the way going up to Jerusalem; and Jesus
went before them: and they were amazed; and as they followed,
they were afraid. And he took again the twelve, and began to tell
them what things should happen unto him,
33 Saying, Behold, we go up to Jerusalem; and the Son of man
shall be delivered unto the chief priests, and unto the scribes;
and they shall condemn him to death, and shall deliver him to the
34 And they shall mock him, and shall scourge him, and shall
spit upon him, and shall kill him: and the third day he shall
35 And James and John, the sons of Zebedee, come unto him,
saying, Master, we would that thou shouldest do for us whatsoever
we shall desire.
36 And he said unto them, What would ye that I should do for
37 They said unto him, Grant unto us that we may sit, one on
thy right hand, and the other on thy left hand, in thy glory.
38 But Jesus said unto them, Ye know not what ye ask: can ye
drink of the cup that I drink of? and be baptized with the
baptism that I am baptized with?
39 And they said unto him, We can. And Jesus said unto them, Ye
shall indeed drink of the cup that I drink of; and with the
baptism that I am baptized withal shall ye be baptized:
40 But to sit on my right hand and on my left hand is not mine
to give; but it shall be given to them for whom it is prepared.
41 And when the ten heard it, they began to be much
displeased with James and John.
42 But Jesus called them to him, and saith unto them, Ye know
that they which are accounted to rule over the Gentiles exercise
lordship over them; and their great ones exercise authority upon
43 But so shall it not be among you: but whosoever will be
great among you, shall be your minister:
44 And whosoever of you will be the chiefest, shall be servant
45 For even the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but
to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many.
I. Christ's prediction of his own sufferings; this string he harped
much upon, though in the ears of his disciples it sounded very harsh
1. See here how bold he was; when they were going up to Jerusalem,
Jesus went before them, as the captain of our salvation,
that was now to be made perfect through sufferings,
Thus he showed himself forward to go on with his undertaking, even when
he came to the hardest part of it. Now that the time was at hand, he
said, Lo, I come; so far was he from drawing back, that
now, more than ever, he pressed forward. Jesus went before
them, and they were amazed. They began now to consider what
imminent danger they ran themselves into, when they went to Jerusalem;
how very malicious the Sanhedrim which sat there was against their
Master and them; and they were ready to tremble at the thought of it.
To hearten them, therefore, Christ went before them. "Come,"
saith he, "surely you will venture where your Master ventures." Note,
When we see ourselves entering upon sufferings, it is encouraging to
see our Master go before us. Or, He went before them, and
therefore they were amazed; they admired to see with what
cheerfulness and alacrity he went on, though he knew he was going to
suffer and die. Note, Christ's courage and constancy in going on with
his undertaking for our salvation, are, and will be, the wonder of all
2. See here how timorous and faint-hearted his disciples were; As
they followed, they were afraid, afraid for themselves, as being
apprehensive of their own danger; and justly might they be
ashamed of their being thus afraid. Their Master's
courage should have put spirit into them.
3. See here what method he took to silence their fears. He did not go
about to make the matter better than it was, nor to feed them with
hopes that he might escape the storm, but told them again what
he had often told them before, the things that should happen to
him. He knew the worst of it, and therefore went on thus boldly,
and he will let them know the worst of it. Come, be not afraid;
(1.) There is no remedy, the matter is determined, and cannot be
(2.) It is only the Son of man that shall suffer; their time of
suffering was now at hand, he will now provide for their security.
(3.) He shall rise again; the issue of his sufferings will be
glorious to himself, and advantageous to all that are his,
The method and particulars of Christ's sufferings are more largely
foretold here than in any other of the predictions--that he shall first
be delivered up by Judas to the chief priests and the scribes;
that they shall condemn him to death, but, not having the power to put
him to death, shall deliver him to the Gentiles, to the Roman
powers, and they shall mock him, and scourge him, and
spit upon him, and kill him. Christ had a perfect
foresight, not only of his own death, but of all the aggravating
circumstances of it; and yet he thus went forth to meet it.
II. The check he gave to two of his disciples for their ambitious
request. This story is much the same here as we had it
Only there they are said to have made their request by their mother,
here they are said to make it themselves; she introduced them, and
presented their petition, and then they seconded it, and assented to
1. As, on the one hand, there are some that do not use, so, on
the other hand, there are some that abuse, the great
encouragements Christ has given us in prayer. He hath said, Ask, and
it shall be given you; and it is a commendable faith to ask for the
great things he has promised; but it was a culpable presumption in
these disciples to make such a boundless demand upon their Master;
We would that thou shouldest do for us whatsoever we shall
desire. We had much better leave it to him to do for us what he
sees fit, and he will do more than we can desire,
2. We must be cautious how we make general promises. Christ would not
engage to do for them whatever they desired, but would know from them
what it was they did desire; What would ye that I should do for
you? He would have them go on with their suit, that they might be
made ashamed of it.
3. Many have been led into a snare by false notions of Christ's
kingdom, as if it were of this world, and like the kingdoms of
the potentates of this world. James and John conclude, If Christ
rise again, he must be a king, and if he be a king, his apostles
must be peers, and one of these would willingly be the Primus par
regni--The first peer of the realm, and the other next him, like
Joseph in Pharaoh's court, or Daniel in Darius's.
4. Worldly honour is a glittering thing, with which the eyes of
Christ's own disciples have many a time been dazzled. Whereas to be
good should be more our care than to look great, or to have
5. Our weakness and short-sightedness appear as much in our prayers as
in any thing. We cannot order our speech, when we speak to God, by
reason of darkness, both concerning him and concerning ourselves. It is
folly to prescribe to God, and wisdom to subscribe.
6. It is the will of Christ that we should prepare for sufferings, and
leave it to him to recompense us for them. He needs not be put in mind,
as Ahasuerus did, of the services of his people, nor can he forget
their work of faith and labour of love. Our care must be, that
we may have wisdom and grace to know how to suffer with him, and then
we may trust him to provide in the best manner how we shall reign with
him, and when, and where, and what, the degrees of our glory shall
III. The check he gave to the rest of the disciples, for their
uneasiness at it. They began to be much displeased, to have
indignation about James and John,
They were angry at them for affecting precedency, not because it did so
ill become the disciples of Christ, but because each of them hoped to
have it himself. When the Cynic trampled on Alexander's foot-cloth,
with Calco fastum Alexandri--Now I tread on Alexander's pride,
he was seasonably checked with Sed majori fastu--But with a greater
pride of thine own. So these discovered their own ambition, in
their displeasure at the ambition of James and John; and Christ took
this occasion to warn them against it, and all their successors in the
ministry of the gospel,
He called them to him in a familiar way, to give them an example
of condescension, then when he was reproving their ambition, and to
teach them never to bid their disciples keep their distance. He shows
1. That dominion was generally abused in the world
That they seemed to rule over the Gentiles, that have the name
and title of rulers, they exercise lordship over them, that is
all they study and aim at, not so much to protect them, and provide for
their welfare, as to exercise authority upon them; they will
be obeyed, aim to be arbitrary, and to have their will in every
thing. Sic volo, sic jubeo, stat pro ratione voluntas--Thus I will,
thus I command; my good pleasure is my law. Their care is, what
they shall get by their subjects to support their own pomp and
grandeur, not what they shall do for them.
2. That therefore it ought not to be admitted into the church;
"It shall not be so among you; those that shall be put under
your charge, must be as sheep under the charge of the shepherd,
who is to tend them and feed them, and be a servant to them, not as
horses under the command of the driver, that works them and beats them,
and gets his pennyworths out of them. He that affects to be great and
chief, that thrusts himself into a secular dignity and dominion, he
shall be servant of all, he shall be mean and contemptible in the
eyes of all that are wise and good; he that exalteth himself shall
be abased." Or rather, "He that would be truly great and
chief, he must lay out himself to do good to all, must stoop to the
meanest services, and labour in the hardest services. Those not only
shall be most honoured hereafter, but are most honourable
now, who are most useful." To convince them of this, he sets before
them his own example
"The Son of man submits first to the greatest hardships and
hazards, and then enters into his glory, and can you expect to come to
it any other way; or to have more ease and honour than he has?"
(1.) He takes upon him the form of a servant, comes not to be
ministered to, and waited upon, but to minister, and wait
to be gracious.
(2.) He comes obedient to death, and to its dominion, for he
gives his life a ransom for many; did he die for the benefit of
good people, and shall not we study to live for their benefit?
|The Eyes of Bartimeus Opened.
46 And they came to Jericho: and as he went out of Jericho with
his disciples and a great number of people, blind Bartimæus, the
son of Timæus, sat by the highway side begging.
47 And when he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to
cry out, and say, Jesus, thou Son of David, have mercy on me.
48 And many charged him that he should hold his peace: but he
cried the more a great deal, Thou Son of David, have mercy on
49 And Jesus stood still, and commanded him to be called. And
they call the blind man, saying unto him, Be of good comfort,
rise; he calleth thee.
50 And he, casting away his garment, rose, and came to Jesus.
51 And Jesus answered and said unto him, What wilt thou that I
should do unto thee? The blind man said unto him, Lord, that I
might receive my sight.
52 And Jesus said unto him, Go thy way; thy faith hath made
thee whole. And immediately he received his sight, and followed
Jesus in the way.
This passage of story agrees with that,
&c. Only that there were told of two blind men; here, and
only of one: but if there were two, there was one.
This one is named here, being a blind beggar that was much
talked of; he was called Bartimeus, that is, the son of
Timeus; which, some think, signifies the son of a blind man;
he was the blind son of a blind father, which made the case worse, and
the cure more wonderful, and the more proper to typify the spiritual
cures wrought by the grace of Christ, on those that not only are born
blind, but are born of those that are blind.
I. This blind man sat begging; as they do with us. Note, Those
who by the providence of God are disabled to get a livelihood by their
own labour, and have not any other way of subsisting, are the most
proper objects of charity; and particular care ought to be taken of
II. He cried out to the Lord Jesus for mercy; Have mercy on
me, O Lord, thou Son of David. Misery is the object of mercy, his
own miserable case he recommends to the compassion of the Son of
David, of whom it was foretold, that, when he should come to save
us, the eyes of the blind should be opened,
In coming to Christ for help and healing, we should have an eye to him
as the promised Messiah, the Trustee of mercy and grace.
III. Christ encouraged him to hope that he should find mercy; for he
stood still, and commanded him to be called. We must never
reckon it a hindrance to us in our way, to stand still, when it
is to do a good work. Those about him, who had discouraged him at
first, perhaps were now the persons that signified to him the gracious
call of Christ; "Be of good comfort, rise, he calls thee; and if
he calls thee, he will cure thee." Note, The gracious invitations
Christ gives us to come to him, are great encouragements to our hope,
that we shall speed well if we come to him, and shall have what we come
for. Let the guilty, the empty, the tempted, the hungry, the naked, be
of good comfort, for he calls them to be pardoned, to be
supplied, to be succoured, to be filled, to be clothed, to have all
that done for them, which their case calls for.
IV. The poor man, hereupon, made the best of his way to Christ; He
cast away his loose upper garment, and came to Jesus
he cast away every thing that might be in danger of throwing him down,
or might in any way hinder him in coming to Christ, or retard his
motion. Those who would come to Jesus, must cast away the garment of
their own sufficiency, must strip themselves of all conceit of that,
and must free themselves from every weight, and the sin that,
like long garments, doth most easily beset them,
V. The particular favour he begged, was, that his eyes might be
opened; that so he might be able to work for his living, and might
be no longer burthensome to others. It is a very desirable thing to be
in a capacity of earning our own bread; and where God has given men
their limbs and senses, it is a shame for men by their foolishness and
slothfulness to make themselves, in effect, blind and
VI. This favour he received; his eyes were opened
and two things Mark here adds, which intimate,
1. How Christ made it a double favour to him, by putting the honour of
it upon his faith; "Thy faith hath made thee whole; faith in
Christ as the Son of David, and in his pity and power; not thy
importunity, but thy faith, setting Christ on work, or rather
Christ setting thy faith on work." Those supplies are most comfortable,
that are fetched in by our faith.
2. How he made it a double favour to himself; When he had received
his sight, he followed Jesus by the way. By this he made it
appear that he was thoroughly cured, that he no more needed one to lead
him, but could go himself; and by this he evidenced the grateful sense
he had of Christ's kindness to him, that, when he had his sight, he
made this use of it. It is not enough to come to Christ for
spiritual healing, but, when we are healed, we must continue to follow
him; that we may do honour to him, and receive instruction from him.
Those that have spiritual eye-sight, see that beauty in Christ, that
will effectually draw them to run after him.