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threshing instrument, made to roll over the grain, and to cut the straw at the same time, Isa. xli. 15. After being threshed, it was winnowed. The grain was then separated from the dirt and coarse chaff by a sieve, and then still further cleansed by a fan, an instrument to produce an artificial wind. This method is still practised in eastern nations. Shall purge.' Shall cleanse or purify. Shall remove the chaff, &c. The garner.' The place to deposit the wheat. “Unquenchable fire.' Fire that will utterly consume it. By the floor,' ħere, is represented the Jewish people, By the wheat, the righteous, or the people of God. By the 'chaff,' the wicked. They are often represented as being driven away like chaff before the wind, Job xxi. 18; Ps. i. 4; Isa. xvii. 13 ; Hos. xiii. 13. They are also represented as chaff which the fire consumes, Isa. v. 24. This image is often used to express judgments, Isa. xli. 15. By the unqnenchable fire is meant the eternal suffering of the wicked in hell, 2 Thess. i. 8,9; Mark ix. 48; Matt. xxv. 41.
13 | Then cometh Jesus from Galilee to Jordan unto John, to be baptized of him. 14 But John forbad him, saying, I have need to be baptized of thee, and comest thou to me?
14. It is more fit that I should be baptized with thy baptism, the Holy Ghost, than that thou shouldest be baptized in water by me. I am á sinner, and unworthy to administer this to the Messiah.
15 And Jesus answering, said unto him, Suffer it to be so now; for thus it becometh us to fulfil all righteousness. Then he suffered him.
15. “Thus it becometh us. Though you may feel yourself unworthy, yet it is proper it should be done. All righteous
Christ chose to give the sanction of his example to the baptism of John. Jesus had no sin. But he was about to enter on his work. It was proper that he should be set apart by his forerunner, and show his connexion with him, and give his approbation to what John had done.
16 And Jesus, when he was baptized, went up straightway out of the water: and lo, the heavens were opened unto him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and lighting upon him:
16. 'Straightway.' Immediately. “The heavens were opened unto him.' This was done while he was praying, Luke iii. 21. If, in the ordinances, we look to God, we may expect he will bless us; the heavens will be opened ; light will shine upon our path. The heavens appear to open, or give way. Something of this
kind probably appeared to John at this tin.e. A similar 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. 'Unto him.' 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. Spirit of God. See ver. 11. This was the third Person of the Trinity, descending upon him with somewhat of the hovering motion of a dove, Luke i. 22. The gift of the Holy 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. 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.
17. ‘A voice from heaven.' A voice from God. Probably 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 Peter i. 17. It was also heard just before his death, John xii. 28–30. It was a public declaration that Jesus was the Messiah. 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. 2; it implies that he was equal with God, Heb. i. 5–8; John X. 29—33; xix. 7. ‘Am well pleased.' Am ever delighted; and in this solemn and public manner expressed his approbation of him as the long expected 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 upon 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. Ît is impossible to explain this transaction consistently in any other way than by supposing that there are three equal Persons in the Divine nature, or essence, and that each of these sustains an important part in the work of redeeming men.
In the preaching of John the Baptist we are presented with an example of a faithful minister of God. Neither the wealth, dignity, nur power of his auditors, deterred him from fearlessly declaring the truth respecting their character. He cal!ed things by their right names. He did not apologize for their sin. He set it fairly before them, and denounced the appropriate curse. So should al! ministers of the gospel. Rank, riches, and power, should have nothing to do in shaping their ministry. In respeciful terms, but without shrinking, all the truths of the gospel must be spoken, or wo 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 willingnay, rejoice to lay all his success and honours at his feet.
Every thing about the work of Jesus was wonderful. He was the equal with God, 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, and influence, and hearts, and lives.
CHAPTER IV. 1 THEN was Jesus led up of the Spirit into the wilderness, to be tempted of the devil.
1. 'The wilderness.' See Matt. iii. J. The Spirit.' Luke says, ch. iv. 1, that Jesus was full of the Holy Ghost. It was by his influence, therefore, that Christ went into the desert. "To be tempted.' The word to tempt, in the original, means to try, to endeavour, to attempt to do a thing; then, to try the nature of a thing, as metals by fire; then, to test moral qualities by trying them, to see how they will endure; then, to endeavour to draw men away from virtue by suggesting motives to evil. This is the meaniny here, and this is now the established meaning of the word in the English language. The devil.? This name is given in the scriptures, by way of eminence, to the leader of evil angels; he is characterised as full of subtilty, envy, art, and hatred of mankind. He is known, also, by the name Satan, Job i. 6—12; Matt. xii. 26. Beelzebub, Matt. xii. 24. The old serpent, Rev. xii. 9. And the prince of the power of the air, Eph. ii. 2.
2 And when he had fasted forty days and forty nights, he was afterward an hungered.
2. Had fasted.' Abstained from food. '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, ch. iv. 2, that he ate nothing. This settles the question. Mark says, ch. i. 13, that angels came
and ministered unto him. That was done at the close of the forty days. There are other instances of persons fasting forty days, recorded in the scriptures. Moses, Exod. xxxiv. 28. Elijah, i 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. '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.
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 Goil, ch. 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 you have this power, 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, and relieve his wants !!
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.
.4. In reply to this artful temptation, Christ answered by a quotation from the Old Testament, Deut. viii. 3. In that passage 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 clearly that meaning. The substance of his answer, then, is—' It is not so imperiously necessary that I should have bread, as to make a miracle proper to procure 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 to tempt us. The poor he often tempts to repine and complain, and to be dishonest to supply their necessities. 2. Satan's temptations are often the strongest immediately after we have been remarkably favoured. He often attempts to fill us with pride, and self-conceit, when we have been favoured with 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 seem to be only urging us to do what is good and proper. We are not to think, therefore, that because a thing may seem to be good in itself, it is required to be done. Some of his most powerful temptations are when he seems 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 positive declarations of scripture. We are to inquire whether the thing is commanded, and whether, therefore, it is right to do it; and must 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 pinnacle of the temple,
5. “Taketh him up. The word means to conduct one; to lead one; to attend or accompany one; or to induce one to go. It is used in many places in the same sense.
From these passages it appears that what is meant here is, that Satan conducted Jesus or accompanied him; but not that this was done against the will of Jesus. “The holy city.' Jerusalem is called holy because the temple was there, and it was the place of their religious solemnities. * Setteth him on a pinnacle of the temple.' That part of the sacred edifice 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. The porch on the south side was, however, sixty-seven feet broad, and one hundred and fifty high. From the top of this to the bottom of the valley below was more than seven hundred feet, and Josephus says that one could scarcely look down without dizziness. It was here, probably, 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 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 tride with the promised help.