Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father, which is in heaven.
What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have not works? can faith save him? If a brother or sister be naked, and destitute of daily food, And one of you say unto them, Depart in peace, be ye warmed and filled; notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body; what doth it profit? Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone.
31 When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory:
32 And before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats:
33 And he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left.
34 Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world:
35 For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in:
36 Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me.
37 Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink?
38 When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee?
39 Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee?
40 And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.
41 Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels:
42 For I was an hungred, and ye gave me no meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me no drink:
43 I was a stranger, and ye took me not in: naked, and ye clothed me not: sick, and in prison, and ye visited me not.
44 Then shall they also answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, or athirst, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister unto thee?
45 Then shall he answer them, saying, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me.
46 And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal.
As we know, faith without works is a dead faith-it cannot save, for it bears not the fruit of Jesus’ ministry. The Master Himself here describes for us, what will be the fruit of the minister who is walking in intimacy with Him, and is conducting our Father’s business at His direction. This then is a list of the works of Jesus through His people that those people will have committed against that day-Paul says he is confident that Jesus is able to keep that which he-Paul has committed against that day-judgment day;
He who loses his life for Jesus’ sake shall find it-this is the losing of the life-if you are doing these things at the direction of Jesus, I guarantee you will have no time for a life of your own; take no thought for your life-seek ye first the kingdom of God and His righteousness and all shall be added-Jesus is the righteousness of God to us-if we have sought and found Him and He us, what He espouses here will be the result. No man can serve two masters-you cannot serve Jesus and yourself—the call is to forsake all you have or you cannot be a disciple; the command is to lay down your life for His sake or you will lose it; Remember, ye cannot serve God and mammon-Mammon remember, is a Syriac word that signifies gain-so whatever in this world is, or is accounted by us to be gain, is mammon-“what things I counted as gain for me, I counted as loss for Jesus-why? Because they divide my affection for Him, and, they keep me from fulfilling what is mandated here; mammon is anything then that gets in the way of your carrying out the will of God at the direction of Jesus-He says we must forsake all we have-and again, it is in the forsaking that the naked are clothed, the sick and imprisoned visited, the homeless sheltered, and the hungry fed—count the cost Jesus says-He has told us it will cost us everything.
*Matthew 25:31-46: THE TRUE MINISTRY OF JESUS THROUGH US:
Vs 31: When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory:
One of the first things we notice is that there is a judgment day to come, when men will either be accepted or rejected, on the basis of their relationship to Jesus-this is where we will find if our faith was alive-Jesus working through us at His command to carry out the will of our Father, or, dead-faith without the works of the Master. 2. The administration of the judgment of the great day is committed to Jesus; for by him God will judge the world (Acts 17:31), and to him all judgment is committed, and therefore the judgment of that day, which is the center of all. Here, as elsewhere, when the last judgment is spoken of, Jesus is called the son of man, because he is to judge the sons of men, being himself of the same nature, and on this day either honor or dishonor will be put on the sons of men. It is this coming that we must keep in mind as we labor-we have picked up our cross, which will be the prerequisite for picking up our crown.
Vs 32: And before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats:
All will appear at the judgment seat of Jesus; all of every age of the world, from the beginning to the end of time; all of every place on earth. This scene describes a personal, public, final judgment on all men, according to the treatment they have given to Jesus, and their relationship to Him.
Now for the first time; the two classes—those submitted to Jesus and those who are not, having been mingled all along through history up to this awful moment-even though mingled, they were contrary and divided Spiritually, as Jesus proves with His statements here.
“My sheep hear my voice” Jesus tells us in John 10-remember how sheep are defined-sheep in scripture are a sacrificial animal, and it is those who have laid down their lives-sacrificed them and lost them for the sake of Jesus-that are called His sheep-their lives have been led as a lamb to the slaughter, which Jesus says will be our plight as it was His when He walked the earth.
As the sheep is an emblem of meekness, patience, and submission, it is expressly mentioned as typifying these qualities in the Person of our blessed Lord ((Isa. 53:7; Acts 8:32); etc.), and if we have been graced to the sacrificial position, He will have resurrected sufficiently in us that we might be called sheep. Goats and sheep fed together in Biblical times, but they were folded separately. Unlike their gentle and helpless cousins, goats were independent, willful, and curious. Bible writers sometimes used goats to symbolize irresponsible leadership (Jer. 50:8; Zech. 10:3). So here in our present scripture, the goats represent the unrighteous that could not enter the kingdom of Jesus.
Vs 33:And he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left.
And he shall set the sheep on his right hand– the side of honor (1 Kin. 2:19; Ps. 45:9; 110:1);
But the goats on the left– the side consequently of dishonor.
Vs 34: Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world:
Notice here He did not set the rich on His right hand and the poor on His left-there is a holy deprivation of the things of the world in the blessedness of our Father; these will be those who shunned all that is at enmity with Him; There will be those who pursued it in the name of Jesus—men of corrupt minds, and destitute of the truth, supposing that gain is godliness: from such withdraw thyself. But godliness with contentment is great gain.
If we spend our lives in the pursuit of material prosperity as the wealth doctrine teaches, our affections will be divided, and we will worry about clothing our own nakedness and keeping it clothed, than we will about God’s people. Prosperity in the kingdom of God is not more material wealth, it is obtaining more of Jesus. And the more we have of Him and He of us, the more certain we are to be numbered among the sheep in our current scripture here, because He will see to it that His people are ministered to through us, and He will see to it that it will be a sacrificial ministry-a life lost for His sake to be found for the sake of the brethren, a life in which all but He is forsaken.
So then, the blessed of our Father are those who have taken the yoke of Jesus upon them; they have shown their love for Him by keeping His commandments; they have lost their lives for His sake, and on this day they shall find them; they have taken the afflicted road, not traveled by many; they have picked up their crosses daily unto the will of God at the direction of the Master. Here is where many will have claimed to have supped with Him, to have cast out demons in His name, to have performed much religious service only to hear “depart from me, ye who worked iniquity, I never knew you.” Contrast that with “come ye blessed of my Father.” The coming day should be a motivator for all to walk out this great salvation in fear and trembling as commanded. Paul said he was sure that Jesus was able to keep what he had committed against that day-“against that day” insinuates that that day will be coming against us all, and only the work of Jesus through us, shall stand the fire of His Spirit on that day. The discourse Jesus is about to undertake regarding the imprisoned, the hungry, the naked and the sick, is evidence that He did manifest in the sheep-it is the evidence of the manifestation of Jesus in our mortal flesh as a result of our love for and intimacy with Him, that will be the proof of our works on that day—he who has the Son and in he whom the Son carried out the will of our Father, will find himself on the right hand of the Son on that day, his works surviving the fire.
Vs 35: For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in:
As we move into these four necessities provided by Jesus, let us not forget that we must first think of them Spiritually; For if we have Jesus and He is ministering through us, these things will be the fruit of His ministry.
First: For I was an hungered, and ye gave me meat: … thirsty, and ye gave me drink: … a stranger, and ye took me in: Again, we must think first of the Spiritual needs here-I was hungry and you gave me meat—for my flesh is meat indeed and my meat is to do the will of He who sent me. We must feed them Jesus, if they are to be fed at all-many feed only to see the receiver drift into hell, because though the empty stomach be a major concern, an empty spirit should be of the utmost concern. The meat of the word, both the written and the Living, must be ministered, and there are many starving for Jesus. So as we fill the stomach, we must also fill the spirit. “thirsty and ye gave me drink”-same thing here-“my Blood is drink indeed.” The following verses define our duty in ministering Jesus to the spirit:
Blessed are they, which do hunger, and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled.
But whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life.
And Jesus said unto them, I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst.
In the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried, saying, If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink.
They shall hunger no more, neither thirst any more; neither shall the sunlight on them, nor any heat.
For the Lamb which is in the midst of the throne shall feed them, and shall lead them unto living fountains of waters: and God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes.
The whole thrust of this entire passage (31-46) is not only the providing of physical needs, but more importantly, of Spiritual needs.
Vs 36: Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me.
We must not only physically clothe the needy, but we must also clothe the naked who are without Jesus-those who are not clothed in Him in heavenly places–
For we know that if our earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved, we have a building of God, an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.
For in this we groan, earnestly desiring to be clothed upon with our house, which is from heaven:
If so be that being clothed we shall not be found naked.
For we that are in this tabernacle do groan, being burdened: not for that we would be unclothed, but clothed upon, that mortality might be swallowed up of life. 2 Cor 5:1-4
When I was naked ye clothed me (Vs 36):
He answereth and saith unto them, He that hath two coats, let him impart to him that hath none; and he that hath meat, let him do likewise. Luke 3:11
What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have not works? can faith save him?
If a brother or sister be naked, and destitute of daily food,
And one of you say unto them, Depart in peace, be ye warmed and filled; notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body; what doth it profit?
Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone. James 2:14-17
Again, faith without works is not faith-the mandates given here by Jesus are evidence of the faith He gives, and when He gives that faith, the grace is also given to seize the faith and do the works which are the will of our Father—namely, provide for temporal and physical needs, but also minister Jesus to them, thereby feeding and clothing their spirit with Him unto salvation.
Hereby perceive we the love of God, because he laid down his life for us: and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.
But whoso hath this world’s good, and seeth his brother have need, and shutteth up his bowels of compassion from him, how dwelleth the love of God in him? I Jn 3:16-18
“sick, and ye visited me” (Vs 36):
And it came to pass, as Jesus sat at meat in the house, behold, many publicans and sinners came and sat down with him and his disciples.
And when the Pharisees saw it, they said unto his disciples, Why eateth your Master with publicans and sinners?
But when Jesus heard that, he said unto them, They that be whole need not a physician, but they that are sick.
But go ye and learn what that meaneth, I will have mercy, and not sacrifice: for I am not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance. Matt 9:10-13
There is much more to visiting the sick than going to a hospital as Jesus proves with this saying-the sick here are those without Him, and anyone who is without Jesus is sick Spiritually. We visit and pray for the sick in body to be sure, but we must always be looking to carry it to Jesus healing the disease of the soul. It is the law of God that proves me sick and guilty-it is thus He who fulfilled the law who heals me from this condition-this is the message we must bring and minister.
“prison, and ye came unto me (Vs 36)”.
In the Spiritual sense, prison is bondage and this may be the most pregnant of all Jesus says here-it is the laying down of our lives that moves us into position to minister Jesus to those in bondage-to their sin, to their addictions, to themselves. This is the mission of our salvation unto the laying down of our lives to Jesus and His work; this is why we are here:
The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me; because the LORD hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; he hath sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound;
To proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all that mourn;
To appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, that he might be glorified. Isaiah 61:1-3
Vs 37-39: Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink? When saw we thee a stranger and took thee in? or naked and clothed thee? Or when saw we thee sick or in prison, and came unto thee?
There is a pitiful pleading insinuated here. Those asking here, cut their reply short, as men in haste; when saw we thee hungry, or thirsty, or naked? They care not to repeat the charge, as if conscious of their own guilt, and unable to bear the terrors of the judgment they feel coming.
They had slighted and persecuted the poor, and would not admit that they had slighted and persecuted Jesus in the process; they never intended any affront to Him, nor expected that so great a matter would have been made of it. They imagined it was only a company of poor, weak, silly, and contemptible people, but we find here that it was Jesus whom they persecuted-makes you think of those in the church today who refuse to lift a finger to help those on the street, they too not realizing that it is Jesus they are affronting. What is done against the least of men, Jesus takes as done against Himself. He is reproached and persecuted in them. We must remember in ministering to men and women of low estate, that that is where Jesus got us; even though we know, we must not say to the sinners that he ‘brought it on themselves” (even though they did, just as we did)-their drinking and drugging; such who make such statements need to be reminded of the sewer from which they themselves were brought-sin is sin-some of it might reek a little more than the rest, but we have all fallen short of the glory of God in committing it, and who is anyone in the church or out of it to look at a man on the street or anywhere else for that matter, and say to him, you are too far gone to be rescued by Jesus, you want nothing but drugs, sex, and alcohol, so I will condemn you and not help you. Such attitude is very prevalent in the body of the Lord, and many, as these in our current scripture, will answer for it, the result being much to their surprise—-
Vs 40: And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.
The door shut against Me by others was opened by you. ‘– “Ye took Me in.” Apprehended and imprisoned by the enemies of the truth, ye whom the truth had made free sought Me out diligently and found Me; visiting Me in My lonely cell at the risk of your own lives, and cheering My solitude: ye gave Me a coat, because I shivered; and then I felt warm. With cups of cold water ye moistened My parched lips; when famished with hunger ye supplied Me with crusts, and My spirit revived– “YE DID IT UNTO ME.” The surprise expressed is not at their being told that they acted from love to Jesus, but that Jesus Himself was the Personal Object of all their deeds:– that they found Him hungry, and supplied Him with food; that they brought water to Him, and slaked His thirst; that seeing Him naked and shivering, they put warm clothing upon Him, paid Him visits when lying in prison for the truth, and sat by His bedside when laid down with sickness. And herein lies the deception of those with the aforementioned attitudes: they don’t realize that the persecuting attitude toward the poor, is toward Jesus; they profess Him, but yet ignore Him in the faces of His people, and until the final bell sounds, all humans are classified as God’s people. Though their conversion tarry, it may be soon in coming.
Vs 41: Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed— into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels:
For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse: for it is written, Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them.
But that no man is justified by the law in the sight of God, it is evident: for, the just shall live by faith.
And the law is not of faith: but, the man that doeth them shall live in them.
Jesus hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree: Gal 3:10-13
And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity. Matt 7:23
And the devil that deceived them was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are, and shall be tormented day and night forever and ever. Rev 20:10
The wicked—those who do not prove their salvation by the works of Jesus through them and their relationship with Him- shall go away into everlasting punishment. Sentence will then be executed speedily, and no reprieve granted, nor any time allowed to move in arrest of judgment. The execution of the wicked is first mentioned; for first the tares are gathered and burned. The punishment of the wicked will be an everlasting punishment, for that state is an unalterable state. It can neither be thought that sinners should change their own natures, nor that God should give his grace to change them, when in this world the day of grace was misspent, the Spirit of grace resisted, and the means of grace abuse; the wicked shall be made to go away into that punishment; not that they will go voluntarily, no, they are driven from light into darkness; but it bespeaks an irresistible conviction of guilt, and a final despair of mercy.
42 For I was an hungred, and ye gave me no meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me no drink:
43 I was a stranger, and ye took me not in: naked, and ye clothed me not: sick, and in prison, and ye visited me not.
44 Then shall they also answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, or athirst, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister unto thee?
45 Then shall he answer them, saying, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me.
46 And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal.
To summarize: here we have the awful separation of the two great classes is to be Jesus’ doing; the word of decision on both– “Ye blessed!” “Ye cursed!” and the word of command to the one, “Come!” to the other, “Depart!”– `To the Kingdom! ‘ `To the flames! ‘– all this is to be His doing. But most astonishing of all, the blissful or blighted eternity of each one of both classes hinges upon the treatment of Him as seen in His people Ye did thus and thus unto Me– Come, ye blessed! Ye did, it not to Me– Depart, ye cursed! ‘ In that “ME” lies an emphasis, the strength of which only the scene itself and its everlasting issues will disclose. There is a very practical character here stamped upon service to Jesus. It is not, `Ye had it, in your hearts, ‘ but `Ye DID it with your hands. ‘ It is the love of Jesus in the heart rushing to the eyes, ears, hands, feet– going in search of Him, hastening to embrace and to cherish Him, as He wanders through this bleak and cheerless world in His persecuted cause and needy people. He casts His entire cause in the earth upon the love of His people. His own poverty was to have an end, but His Church and his disciples in their poverty were to take His place. His personal conflict “finished,” that of His cause, was then only to begin. The whole story of His necessities and endurances from the world was to be repeated in the Church, which was to “fill up that which was behind of the afflictions of Jesus (Col. 1:24). And what condescension is there in identifying Himself with “THE LEAST of His brethren,” holding Himself to be the Person to whom anything whatever is done that is done to the humblest and the worst of them. Nor let it be overlooked, that the assistance to the sick and imprisoned here is not healing and release, which only few could render, but just that which all could bestow– visitation, sympathy, attention and the ministering of Jesus to them.
Jesus also teaches us here that a life of wickedness is not necessary to rejection at the great day. It is enough that, according to the former parable, we do nothing for Jesus; and according to the present one, that we recognize Him not in His cause and people, and do not to them as would be due to Himself. Dare we not continually look for Him in the thin disguises in which He still walks among us– and should we not tremble at the thought of turning Him away from our door, or stepping over Him lying in the street?
It is fitting that we here examine Jesus’ use of the word ‘blessing’ and what it means—“Come ye blessed of my Father” (Vs 34); being blessed of our Father is being drawn by Him, to Jesus; the fulfillment of the just discussed Matthew 25: 31-46, is evidence that Jesus has resurrected in us—He Himself is the blessing—we are blessed because we have been graced to be filled with Him, and this Blessing in turn, does His beautiful work with His people, feeding them, clothing them, visiting them, and taking them in (physically and spiritually) through those who are willing to count and pay the cost of such grace and anointing; Jesus defines the life of such a person in the Beatitudes, in the 5th chapter of Matthew.
In our preceeding discourse, Jesus uses the words “blessed of my Father” (Vs 34)—we must take this time to explore Jesus’ meaning of the word ‘blessed’:
3 Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
4 Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted.
5 Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth.
6 Blessed are they, which do hunger, and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled.
7 Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy.
8 Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God.
9 Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.
10 Blessed are they, which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
11 Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake.
12 Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.
The Sermon on the Mount was delivered to the 12 but was heard by the multitude. In the sermon, Jesus sets forth the character and conditions of life pertaining to disciples and the Kingdom; it has been called the Constitution of the Kingdom.
Mt. 5: 3: ‘Blessed’ does not mean gifts from without, but contentment within due to the indwelling of Jesus. ‘Poor’ means deep poverty (Luke 6:20); ‘in spirit’ is a recognition of spiritual poverty such as that of the publican (Lk. 18: 13).
5: 4: ‘Mourn’ is sadness and lament over my own sin and the sins of others; the ‘poor in spirit’ are those who mourn; ‘comforted’ is the verb from which comes the noun “Comforter” (Jn. 14: 16).
5: 5: ‘meek’ is the inner calm of Strength, which is the indwelling Jesus;
5: 6: “hunger and thirst” are primary drives of food and drink; ‘Righteousness’ is personal righteousness that comes from Jesus alone; ‘filled’ is used of feeding and fattening cattle.
5: 7: ‘merciful’ means full of mercy, pity, or compassion; this applies as the law of sowing and reaping.
5: 8: ‘pure in heart’ is inner cleanliness; the unbelieving Jews practiced outer but not inner.
5:9: ‘peacemakers’ as opposed to warmongers; the primary reference is with respect to peace between God and man.
5: 10: ‘persecuted’ here means to pursue with malignity.
5:11: ‘revile’ means to reproach or insult with evil language; ‘falsely is a participle meaning ‘lying’.
5: 12: ‘rejoice’—leap for joy, Lk. 6: 23
The Beatitudes set forth the character and life of the disciple; It is the inner Jesus that is testified to by outer actions; Involved is the contrast between the Messianic kingdom envisioned by the Jews (outer), and the Kingdom as seen through the eyes of Jesus (inner). The Jews mistakenly thought the Messiahs reign would be one of power, pomp, and plenty; In sharp contrast Jesus pictures His reign as one of submission, service an suffering. It is not a matter of conquest, but of Character. Natural man says happy are the rich, powerful, and proud. Jesus says happy are the poor, humble, meek, and hungry. Note the progression in Mt. 5: 3-6: The ‘poor in spirit’ is conscious of his spiritual need, thus, he submits to Jesus—such receives the Kingdom as he submits to the King. Recognizing his weakness he mourns for his own sins and those of others. But He who stands alongside him in forgiveness and strength comforts him. Thus he realizes the inner Strength of meekness. He achieves happiness not in new circumstances, but his happiness alters his circumstances. Thus he inherits the earth. Therefore he hungers and thirsts more and more for a richer experience with Jesus the King, not for himself alone but for all men. In his submission he receives a continuous infilling of the Spirit, who enables him to experience happiness and to share it with others who through his zeal are brought to submit to the King. The disciple’s suffering will come commensurate with his zeal for righteousness as he performs the will of God. In his Godly suffering, the disciple thus becomes part of a glorious succession—the prophets—and the King Himself. Jesus’ description of what is blessing should not escape notice here; much of today’s teaching calls “blessing” an increase in material gain and stature; Jesus here teaches just the opposite.
*CONTINUING OUR DUTY IN THE LIVES OF GOD’S PEOPLE
13 And the Jews’ Passover was at hand, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem,
14 And found in the temple those that sold oxen and sheep and doves, and the changers of money sitting:
15 And when he had made a scourge of small cords, he drove them all out of the temple, and the sheep, and the oxen; and poured out the changers’ money, and overthrew the tables;
16 And said unto them that sold doves, take these things hence; make not my Father’s house an house of merchandise.
17 And his disciples remembered that it was written, the zeal of thine house hath eaten me up.
What we first want to do here is keep in mind that we will make application of this scripture to the individual, who is the temple of God.
Historically, this cleansing of the temple took place on the day following Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem. This is the King coming into His palace, the place where His glory is made manifest—the temple of God.
This is the first cleansing performed by Jesus and it comes at the beginning of His ministry; Matthew and Mark record the second cleansing of the temple by Jesus, which takes place at the close of His ministry. We find here the merchandisers and moneychangers, conducting business in the temple; exchanging the various currencies and selling animals of sacrifice. In verse 15 we see Jesus making a scourge of small cords—something He did not do at the second temple cleansing; John here singles out this punitive element in the first public appearance of Jesus—focusing on the force Jesus uses to cleanse the temple—usually it was a stare from His eyes that convicted and prompted action—here it is a whip in His hand. We see Jesus here with a scourge in His hand, a conspicuous method of expressing His indignation and augmenting the force of His command, by an indication that he means to be obeyed right then and there. Notice He pours out there money and overthrows the tables. There is some symbolism in that He has come to overthrow the world system—here He overthrows it in the temple; Again, keep in mind, we are after the symbolism of Jesus overthrowing such things in the temple which is the individual.
See that this is a public display of His anger—there is a lot of “get thee behind me Satan” thou art an offence unto me: for thou savourest not the things that be of God, but those that be of men (Mt. 16: 23). This is a confrontation of Jesus overthrowing Satan in the temple—the ‘get thee behind me satan’ is an angry Jesus overthrowing satan in what was the life and body—the temple of Peter. He uses nearly the same words in rebuking Peter that He had used to satan in the temptation, and justly so, for Peter was acting on behalf of the devil, attempting to subvert the will of God by keeping Jesus from His mission—hence the sharp, public, rebuke of him—Jesus saying—“thou art an offense to me”—the devil in you opposes the will of my Father, and if I let it, it will keep the command of my Father from being performed. It is much the same in the life of the individual—God is patient and long suffering, but sooner or later, that which opposes Him in the life of a disciple will be dealt with in the same manner—why? Because no repentance is shown—the gift of repentance has been offered and refused, probably several times—and satan has gained a foothold by the lack of the disciple not accepting the gift and repenting. This sin that is allowed to dominate, thus stands in the way of Jesus’ resurrection in the disciple, and satan being the enticer and author of it, and the disciple giving way to it, are both covered in the rebuke. Why? Again, because they savor not the things of God, but the things of men and the fruits of their pride, which is usually at the root of the evil. The things of man are dominating the disciple who is the temple of God, and satan must be thrown out, and the man must be rebuked. And it is God who sets up the timing, method, and nature of the rebuke. In both the cleansing of the temple and the rebuking of Peter, Jesus’ response is immediate—He cleansed the temple when He first got sight of what was going on in it; He rebuked Peter as soon as the words got out of Peter’s mouth—there was no pre-meditation of warning, only rebuke.
It is the subtlety of satan, to send temptations to us by the unsuspected hands of our best friends, and especially of ourselves; Thus he assaulted Adam by Eve, Job by his wife, Saul by his ambition, and here Jesus by his beloved Peter. It concerns us therefore not to be ignorant of his devices, but to stand against his wiles and depths, by standing always upon our guard against sin, whoever moves us to it—especially when we move to it ourselves.
Those who have their spiritual senses exercised, will be aware of the voice of Satan, even in a friend, a disciple, a minister that dissuades them from their duty. We must not regard who speaks, so much as what is spoken; we should learn to know the devil’s voice when he speaks in a saint as well as when he speaks in a serpent. Whoever takes us off from our duty, speaks Satan’s language.
We must be free and faithful in reproving those disciples under us in which we see the agenda of satan getting a foothold. We must not compliment, but rebuke—in God’s timing—the activity of the enemy in the disciple when we perceive it’s agenda to mess with the will of God; Proverbs tells us–Faithful are the wounds of a friend– Let the righteous smite me; it shall be a kindness: and let him reprove me; it shall be an excellent oil, which shall not break my head: Ps 141:5—It is of greater gain and blessing to be reprimanded by the righteous, than to have our sin coddled by them in the name of love; David is here actually giving permission to faithful admonition at the hand of the righteous, no matter how chastising it might be or seem; When the ungodly smite us it is cruel; when we are smitten by the righteous, it is a faithful wound, one that is from God, and one that will, in the end, cleanse and build. Many Godly men rap hard and they do so because God is rapping hard; they do not merely hint that the devil is in action, but they hammer at him and at the disciple who is his willing victim. When God uses the righteous to smite us, their smiting will produce fruit unto the will of God. We must thank God for His righteous hand, when it smites heavily. As the scripture says, it is the fool who resents God’s rebuke, it is the righteous who try to benefit from it. David tells us that such smiting at the hands of the righteous, shall be as an excellent oil, which shall not break my head. The chastising Oil—the Spirit of God—by which Jesus rebukes, reproofs and corrects, does not break heads; its end rather is to bring about the sweet sense of the presence of Jesus reestablished and made prominent again. This oil does not break the head, but will break the heart. The sufferings of the disciple are, even at the hand of the wicked, sent with the permission of God—a righteous God who inflicts with justice and mercy; The word ‘smite’ here is the same Hebrew word used for the stroke of the hammer pounding iron into shape; Faithful rebuke or reproof at the hands of a godly, loving minister, is in fact a token of his love for the disciple—for how many in the name of pastoral love refuse to do it even when God moves them to? It is their love for God and their obedience to Him as well as their love for the disciple that the reproving action comes forward—in this it is faithful and shall not come back void. Such wounding, is in reality, healing at the hand of God, for that is the design of Jesus in bringing it. Proverbs 9: 8 tells us that if we rebuke a wise man, (and it is God doing it), he will love the rebuker. We must always be more ready to examine ourselves than to examine others. The nail of rebuke or reproof must be well oiled in God’s will before it is driven home;
If David could say of his enemy that cursed him,–“let him alone, for God hath bidden him to curse”, we can even more safely say it when reproved by the righteous minister of God. And as the apostle says of the ministers of God—“God does entreat His people by them, so persuade yourselves that God does reprove you by them.” The danger here of course is ministers which are constantly in a state of serious rebuking and reproofing—that, obviously is not the rebuke or reproof of God.
When we perceive the activity of satan in the life of a disciple, we must wait for God’s timing in addressing it—it must for sure, be resisted with abhorrence, and not parleyed with.
We see Peter’s motivation out of a heart of kindness—He didn’t want Jesus to die; we see the moneychangers in an act of presumption—believing our Father assents to the carrying on of the things of men in His temple. In both instances, the perpetrators were standing in the way of the will of God, much the same as the enemy entices the disciple to act in a way that would also hamper the will of God.
Jesus is working out our salvation, and His heart is set so much to it that though He be patient, there will come a time when He will deal sternly with it—
Indeed, if the scripture proves us bastards, then we are illegitimate children—children who are not saved, but are servants that may abide in God’s house for now, but in the end it will be proven that such a man is not a son who will abide in the house forever;
In fact, to be allowed to go on in sin without a rebuke is a sad sign of alienation from God; such are bastards, not sons. They may call him Father, because born in and serving in the pale of the church, they have been accustom to it, but I submit to you, that eternally they will find that they are the spurious offspring of another father, not of God.
Peter was not so sharply reproved for denying his Master to complete his sufferings as he was for caring for the things of men instead of the will of God.
See why He called Peter Satan, when he suggested this to him; because, whatever stood in the way of our salvation, he looked upon as coming from the devil, who is a sworn enemy to it. The same satan that afterward entered into Judas, maliciously to destroy Jesus in his undertaking, here prompted Peter plausibly to divert Him from it. We see here that disciples most definitely are angels of light—we also see here how subtly satan can move in, and in the disciple, disguise himself as an angel of light.
Those that obstruct the will of God—either knowingly or unknowingly as Peter did– must be looked upon as an offence to us. When we see satan manifesting ever so subtly in the lives of those under us, it must be dealt with that that life will perform the will of God as Jesus does it through him—it is our meat and drink to do the will of God; Those that hinder us from doing or suffering for God, when we are called to it, whatever they are in other things in that they are Satins, adversaries to us—Jesus tells the church of Pergomos in the second chapter of revelation:
I know thy works, and where thou dwellest, even where Satan’s seat is: and thou holdest fast my name, and hast not denied my faith, even in those days wherein Antipas was my faithful martyr, who was slain among you, where Satan dwelleth.
We know that satan dwells among us, and we must constantly be watching for where he might dwell in the agenda and life of each of us. It is the discernment out of our intimacy with Jesus, that will grace us to see where satan is dwelling among us, and it is the same discernment and intimacy that will move us to deal with it in God’s time. We must not fall into resolution to be any certain way or of any certain disposition; we must be at the second by second beck and call of Jesus, performing the will of God as He works it through us and in us.
So Jesus takes a scourge of cords and drives man and beast alike out of the temple; when necessary, He does the same to us—remember, whom He loves He chastens, and He scourges every son he receives. And don’t think that is so harsh—remember the verse in Hebrews—Ye have not yet resisted unto blood striving against sin; Your trials have not yet reached the point of dying in the war as many of your brethren have, who have followed Jesus to the end of their lives-those lives ending in martyrdom.
And finally, verse 17— And his disciples remembered that it was written, The zeal of thine house hath eaten me up. The disciples, at the hand of God, were reminded of Psalm69: 9; It is in this Psalm that it is prophesied, that as Jesus approaches the climax of His sorrows, a holy zeal for God’s house will ultimately consume Him—eat Him up; and there is a reproach and agony for Him and any servant of God on which such grace rests. And the reason Jesus purges and scourges us His temple? Because it is our Father’s house. And, (a.) Therefore he has authority to purge it, for he is faithful, as a Son over his own house. (Heb. 3:5-6). He therefore has a zeal for the purging of it: “It is my Father’s house, and therefore I cannot bear to see it profaned, and him dishonored.” Note, If God be our Father in heaven, and it be therefore our desire that his name may be sanctified, it cannot but be our grief to see it polluted in our lives. Jesus’ purging the temple thus may justly be reckoned among his wonderful works. When corruption is too plain to be justified; sinners’ own consciences are reformers’ best friends; yet that was not all, there was a divine power put forth herein, a power over the spirits of men; and in this non-resistance of theirs that scripture was fulfilled (Mal. 3:2-3), Who shall stand when he appeareth?
Here is the remark which his disciples made upon it (v. 17): They remembered that it was written, The Zeal of thine house hath eaten me up. They were somewhat surprised at first to see Him to whom they were directed as the Lamb of God in such a heat, and Him whom they believed to be the King of Israel take such indignation upon Himself and dispersing it to others. but one scripture came to their thoughts, which taught them to reconcile this action both with the meekness of the Lamb of God and with the majesty of the King of Israel; for David, speaking of the Messiah, takes notice of his zeal for God’s house, as so great that it even ate him up, it made him forget himself, (Ps. 69:9). Observe,
The zeal of thine house hath eaten me up. David was in this a type of Christ in that he was zealous for God’s house, (Ps. 132:2-3). What he did for it was with all his might; see (1 Chr. 29:2). The latter part of that verse (Ps. 69:9) is applied to Jesus (Rom. 15:3), as the former part of it here. All the graces that were to be found among the Old-Testament saints were eminently in Jesus, and particularly this of zeal for the house of God, and in them, as they were patterns to us, so they were types of him. Observe,
(1.) Jesus is zealously affected to the house of God, His church and the individuals that make up that church: He died for it all, and is always jealous for its welfare.
(2.) this zeal did even eat Him up; it made Him humble Himself, and spend Himself, and expose Himself. My zeal has consumed me, (Ps. 119:139). Zeal for the house of God forbids us to consult our own ease, and safety, when they come in competition with our duty and service to Jesus, and sometimes carries on our souls in our duty so far and so fast that our bodies cannot keep pace with them, and makes us as deaf as our Master was to those who suggested, “Spare thyself.” The grievances here redressed might seem but small, and such as should have been ignored; but such was in the zeal of Jesus that he could not bear even those that sold and bought in the temple. He feels the same way about corruption in we who are His temple.
*THE WALK OF DUTY
In the world ye shall have tribulation; be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.” Jn. 16:33
Thou therefore endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ.
No man that warreth entangleth himself with the affairs of this life; that he may please him who hath chosen him to be a soldier. 2 Tim 2:3-4Many conclude that when the Christian undergoes extreme, constant, suffering, he has lost favor with God; here, the apostle shows that we are in fact, called to such sufferings (1 Thes. 3: 3). How blessed is the Christian life that bears no suffering?
Ministry Tribulation–2 Cor. 4: 8-18:
We are troubled on every side (satan), yet not distressed (Jesus); we are perplexed (satan, but not in despair (Jesus);
troubled—2346 (Strong’s number) thlibo-Greek:
1) to press (as grapes), to press hard upon
2) a compressed way, narrow straitened, contracted
3) metaphorically, to trouble, to afflict, to distress
1) to be in a narrow place
2) to straiten, to compress, to cramp, to reduce to straits, to be sorely straitened in spirit
1) to be without resources, to be in straits, to be left wanting, to be embarrassed, to be in doubt, not to know which way to turn
2) to be at a loss with oneself, to be in doubt
3) not to know how to decide or what to do, to be perplexed
to be utterly at loss, to be utterly destitute of measures or resources, to renounce all hope.
This verse points to much inward distress caused by men and the spirits on them that come against the disciple in his or her ministry; this is the wrestling with powers and principalities in general; This will cause much concern over current and future events happening in the life of the minister. The contrasts witness of the faithfulness of the Lord, even though we experience these things, we have the knowledge that God is in control, and through these trials and tribulations, God makes His faithfulness and sovereignty, our experience and reality. Faith comes through tribulation, no other way.
Persecuted (satan), but not forsaken (Jesus); cast down (satan), but not destroyed (Jesus);
1) to make to run or flee, to put to flight, to drive away
2) to run swiftly in order to catch a person or thing, to run after
a) to press on: figuratively, used of one who in a race runs swiftly to reach the goal
b) to pursue (in a hostile manner)
3) in any way whatever to harass, to trouble, to molest one
b) to be mistreated, to suffer persecution on account of something
1) to abandon, to desert
a) to leave in straits, to leave helpless
b) totally abandoned, utterly forsaken
2) to leave behind among, to leave surviving
cast down–2598 kataballo-
1) to cast down, to throw to the ground, to prostrate
a) to put out of the way entirely, to abolish, to put an end to ruin
b) to render useless; c) to kill
10 Always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our body.
This is a continual dying re-enacted in my body: having in it the marks of His sufferings (2 Cor. 1:5), I bear about, wheresoever I go, the image of the suffering Jesus, whose sojourn in the flesh was a continual dying, of which the consummation was His crucifixion (2 Cor. 4:11; 1:5): cf. (1 Cor. 15:31). It is the rejoicing in the infirmities of our bodies that works the power of Jesus in us. We bear much of the evil we forgive and much of the warfare that we encounter in ministry; such warfare most times tortures the flesh, making it tired, often times sleepless, and many times sick.
bearing about–4064 periphero-
1) to carry round, to bear about everywhere with one 2) to carry here and there
3) to be driven,
1) putting to death, killing; being put to death
3) the dead state, to utter sluggishness;
used of bodily members and organs; “The dying” is literally, `the being made a corpse. ‘ Such Paul regarded his body, yet a corpse which shares in the life-giving resurrection-power of Christ.
That the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our body– rather, `may be. ‘ “Jesus” is often repeated, as Paul, amidst sufferings, peculiarly felt its sweetness. In (2 Cor. 4:11) the same words occur, with the variation, “in our mortal flesh.” The fact of a corpse-like body being sustained amidst such trials manifests that “the (resurrection) life also,” as well as the dying “of Jesus,” exists in us (Phil. 3:10). I thus bear about in my own person an image of the risen and living, as well as of the suffering Savior.
used of the absolute fullness of life; what the apostle is saying is that as we die daily, Jesus resurrects and lives more fully in us daily; this dying can come in many forms, but it must come from the hand of our Father; it may come as sickness, fatigue, persecution, and many other things that shatter the flesh.
be made manifest–
to make actual and visible, realized; to make manifest or visible or known what has been hidden or unknown, to manifest, whether by words, or deeds, or in any other way.
We see here the reality of the perishing of the outward man that the inward Man will manifest; We also see here the working of being buried with Jesus in baptism, that He might resurrect in us—literally. The old man is not reformed but is put to death by the trials and tribulations mentioned in these verses; it is the dying of our flesh—our bodies—that allows the Lord Jesus to manifest; the death of Jesus is manifested in the perishing of our outward man; as the outward man is put through the process of death, the life of Jesus (the inner Man) is made manifest proportionally. This will then produce more trial and tribulation—when Jesus manifests, His reception will be no different than it was 2000 years ago. His life as witnessed by Scripture, is a true barometer for evidence of His very life manifesting in us.
11 For we which live are always delivered unto death for Jesus’ sake, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our mortal flesh.
We which live— in the power of Jesus’ “life” in us, in our whole man, body as well as spirit (Rom. 8:10-11);, (2 Cor. 4:10): cf. (2 Cor. 5:15). Paul regards his preservation amidst so many exposures to “death,” by which Stephen and James were cut off, as a standing miracle (2 Cor. 11:23). We minister at the direction of and for the sake of, Jesus; we sustain much in the way of warfare, persecution, and bodily sickness in doing so. In the repercussions of ministry, we are continually delivered unto death—demons—we battle them for the lives to whom we are sent; this battle, though it be the Lord’s, takes a physical toll on us.
Delivered unto— not by chance: by the ordering of our Father, who shows `the excellency of His power’ (2 Cor. 4:7) in delivering unto DEATH His disciples, that He may manifest LIFE also in their dying flesh. It is in the minister’s dying flesh that the resurrection and life of Jesus is made manifest.
1) the death of the body; the power of death
The aches and pains, the sluggishness—all the backlash of ministry—all the being delivered unto death for Jesus’ sake that the life of Jesus be made manifest in us. We are ‘always delivered”—this tells us all of the aforementioned affliction is not coming by chance—it has been ordained and appointed by God—1 Thes. 3:3.
It is in our affliction and suffering that we realize that all our flesh conceives as oppression and affliction, our spirit should perceive as glory. The life of Jesus—the Road to the crown—is adorned with the life described in these verses; the life of health and wealth that nourishes and comforts the flesh, is nowhere to be found.
So then death worketh in us, but life in you.
The “death” of Jesus, manifested in the continual `perishing of our outward man’ (2 Cor. 4:16), works in our flesh, and is the means of working spiritual “life” in the Body of the Lord, His Church.
13 We having the same spirit of faith, according as it is written, I believed, and therefore have I spoken; we also believe, and therefore speak;
Greek, `BUT having, ‘ etc.– i. e., notwithstanding our trials, we having, etc. The same spirit of faith, according as it … Compare (Rom. 8:15). The same living faith worked by the Holy Spirit on our “spirit:” stronger than “faith.” Though “death worketh in us, but life in you” (2 Cor. 4:12), yet, as we have the same spirit of faith as you, we therefore (believingly) look for the same eternal life as you and speak as we believe. ‘According to what is written I believed, and therefore have I spoken; we also believe, and therefore speak’– namely, without fear, amidst `afflictions’ and `deaths’ (2 Cor. 4:17).
14 Knowing that He which raised up the Lord Jesus shall raise up us also by Jesus, and shall present us with you.
Knowing— by faith (2 Cor. 5:1). Shall raise up us also— at the resurrection (1 Cor. 6:13-14). Present us– vividly picturing the judgment before the eyes (Jude 1:24).With you (2 Cor. 1:14; 1 Thes 2:19-20; 3:13).
15 For all things are for your sakes that the abundant grace might through the thanksgiving of many redound to the glory of God.
For— confirming the “with you” (2 Cor. 4:14), and “life … worketh in you” (2 Cor. 4:12). All things– whether the afflictions and labors of us ministers (2 Cor. 4:8-11). or your prosperity (2 Cor. 4:12; 1 Cor. 3:21-22; 4:8-13). For your sakes (2 Tim. 2:10). Abundant grace …– rather, `that grace (the grace which preserves us in trials, and works life in you) being made more abundant by the greater number of those who receive it, may cause your thanksgiving to abound—it is a life of thanksgiving that makes the way for more grace to come from Jesus, therefore giving more glory to our Father.
16 For which cause we faint not; but though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day.
We faint not—in spite of the sufferings of the ministry, we press through at the direction of Jesus, keeping our shoulder to His plow, for we shall reap in due season, if we faint not—Gal. 6:9. Outward man – the flesh—as previously stated, when a man or woman undertakes discipleship, it absolutely shatters the flesh, continually. Perish– `is wasting away by afflictions.
Inward man—Jesus Himself (2 Cor. 4:11, Gal. 2: 20), `manifests the life of Jesus. ‘
Is renewed—As we die in the flesh daily, Jesus manifests more in us, daily; i.e.— ‘with fresh “grace” (2 Cor. 4:15), and “faith” (2 Cor. 4:13), and hope (2 Cor. 4:17-18; Rom. 12:; Col. 3:10; Titus 3:5).
For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory;
Which is but for a moment, [to (grk 3588) parautika (grk 3910)]– `which is but for the present passing moment. ‘ Compare (Matt. 11:30); also, “now for a season … in heaviness” (1 Pet. 1:6). The contrast is between this and the “ETERNAL … glory.” Also, `the lightness of affliction’ (`burden is not expressed after `light’: the Greek is `the light of affliction’) contrasts beautifully with the `weight of the glory. ‘ In other words, the works produced by saving faith, are glorious in themselves as they are the works of our Father and our Master in us. As we grow in intimacy with Jesus, and intimacy with the death of our flesh, we see the Master resurrecting stronger in it.—this is our temporal reward. As we move toward the literal death of the body, we should be more and more transformed into His likeness, so that death will be the consummation of God’s work in us—death thus becoming a full manifestation of Jesus in us, which will be our great Reward. What could possibly be added to this? There is a longing for Jesus that God puts in us. It is this longing for Jesus that transforms our obedience into greater longing and intimacy—the more we get of Jesus, the more we want of Him.
Worketh– rather, `worketh out. ‘—it is the magnitude of the afflictions in ministry, that work the magnitude of the minister’s eternal glory;
A far more exceeding —The glory exceeds beyond all measure the affliction, but it is the affliction that works the weight of glory.
18 While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal.
We mind not the things seen, whether we be suffering or abounding; but the ‘things’ of the Kingdom of God which we have entered, and in which we now live, move, and have our being; We minister He who is invisible to those who are, visible.
That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death; Philippians. 3:10
2 Tim 2:3-4
3 Thou therefore endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ.
4 No man that warreth entangleth himself with the affairs of this life; that he may please him who hath chosen him to be a soldier.
Endurance of hardship is a gift of discernment—the man who has it will know where it comes from, will not be afraid of its pain or its toil, nor will he run from his duty; for his discernment has gifted him to see Jesus in His fullness for what He is and who He is, and such faith/sight is the uncompromising constitution of the true disciple. It is of such stuff that martyrs are born and graced. Every thought is brought into captivity because Jesus has become the only thought. Discerning and reacting to thoughts is absolutely vital to birthing ministry discernment. It is one thing to pray for rescue from bad thoughts, another to stand up against them, and another will to despise and ignore them.
In the first instance—praying for rescue—“O God come and help me.’ Ps. 69: 2—shows a man who has Jesus in his life but has not yet been graced to the power of His Blood in the thought realm—in short, he may realize where the thought is coming from—satan—rebuke satan and the thought, only to find them both return a short time later.
In the second instance—the man who stands up against these thoughts—Ps. 118: 42 comes to mind: “I will speak a word of contradiction to those who reproach me”—this man shows that he, like the first, is insufficiently prepared to deal with the thoughts, and like the first, he is really praying for rescue from the thoughts by standing against them and rebuking them; satan and the thoughts are again overcome, usually for a little while and then they are back.
There is a third instance, and this is the kingdom prescription for the thought life—I was silent and didn’t open my mouth nor the mouth of my mind, I put a guard on my mouth when he who reproached me, was before me (OR MY MIND); this third man has reached the point of seeing Jesus and Jesus only—Jesus has become the Life of his thought life and his mind, therefore he ignores the onslaught, keeping the heart of the mind focused on Jesus and Jesus only. Such a disciple ignores the onslaught—“I have not turn aside from my contemplation of you”—Ps 118:51;
12 O our God, wilt thou not judge them? for we have no might against this great company that cometh against us; neither know we what to do: but our eyes are upon thee. 2 Chr 20:12
Isa 26:3–Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee.
Such a disciple will be graced to ignore the taunts of the enemy in his mind, being more preoccupied with Jesus than with the taunts; The intangible cannot be contained by the tangible—demons vs the mind; but the intangible demons can be contained by He who is both tangible and intangible, visible yet invisible. The mind that has progressed to the ignoring of the taunts is a mind that worships the Lord in Spirit and in Truth, ALL THE TIME—worship, communion, and union with Jesus is the only meat of such a mind—and our Father seeks such minds that He might grace to worship Him through total and life consuming preoccupation with Jesus. Having traveled the road necessary to realize such grace, such a one has had his or her senses exercised; if you are traveling the road to this destination, overcoming yourself, is the most absolute and essential step.
*SUFFERING JESUS, SUFFERING MINISTER
2 Cor 6:4-10
4 But in all things approving ourselves as the ministers of God, in much patience, in afflictions(2347 thlipsis -1) a pressing, a pressing together, pressure; 2) metaphorically, oppression, affliction, tribulation, distress, straits) , in necessities(318 anagke- 1-necessity, imposed either by the circumstances, or by law of duty regarding to one’s advantage, custom, argument; 2) calamity, distress, straits);
in distresses(4730 stenochoria-1) narrowness of place, a narrow place 2) metaphorically, dire calamity, extreme affliction); We are first and foremost, ministers to God; we are then ministers of the Church; much patience here is the enduring of evil. afflictions as used here, is a general term, encompassing anything that wears out or taxes heavily our spirit, mind, and/or body. Necessities as used here signify any bodily need such as food, clothing, shelter etc.; Distress here signifies a need of counsel–both from Jesus, and from other leadership members.
5 In stripes(4127 plege1) a blow, a stripe, a wound; 2) a public calamity, a heavy affliction, a plague) , in imprisonments, in tumults, (181 akatastasia: instability, a state of disorder, disturbance, confusion); tumults as used here, would signify gossip or sedition at the hands of heathen or Christian; in labors(2873 kopos-1) a beating 2) a beating of the breast with grief, sorrow3) labor trouble; to cause one trouble, to make work for him b) intense labor united with trouble and toil);
in watchings (70 agrupnia- sleeplessness, watching); in fastings 3521 nesteia- a fasting, fast a) a voluntary, as a religious exercise b) a fasting caused by want or poverty; fastings are disciplines to keep the flesh under subjection to the Spirit.
6 By pureness (54 hagnotes – purity, chastity, uprightness of life); Pureness as used here, is the general rectitude of heart and ways; knowledge here is the correct apprehension of the things of Jesus as revealed by the Spirit–without this knowledge, there can be no purity-Pr. 19:2. As the end of the verse states, all of this is done at the direction of Jesus, by the Holy Spirit in us. by knowledge (1108 gnosis-a the general knowledge of Christian religion b) the deeper more perfect and enlarged knowledge of this religion, such as belongs to the more advanced c) especially of things lawful and unlawful for Christians d) moral wisdom, such as is seen in right living); by long-suffering (3115 makrothumia- patience-1, endurance, constancy, steadfastness, perseverance 2) patience, forbearance, long-suffering, slowness in avenging wrongs);
by kindness(5544 chrestotes-1 moral goodness, integrity; 2) benignity, kindness); by the Holy Ghost, by love unfeigned- (505 anupokritos- ndisguised, sincere);
7 By the word of truth, by the power of God, by the armor of righteousness on the right hand and on the left,
Word of Truth–both the Living and the Written. By the power of God–the resurrected Jesus who is to us the Wisdom and Power of God (1Cor. 1: 24); The Armor of Righteousness–again, Put on the Lord Jesus Christ (Rms. 13: 14);
8 By honor and dishonor, by evil report and good report: as deceivers, and yet true;
Whether we receive honor or dishonor, we do not depart from our integrity. all in this verse will be spoken of the true minister of God at one time or another. People say we deceive when we tell them Christians can be demonized; the scores of Christians who come to us for deliverance, validate the scripture in our ministry.
9 As unknown(50 agnoeo-1 to be ignorant, not to know; 2) not to understand, unknown; 3) to err or sin through mistake, to be wrong; not recognized or known by many; and yet well known 1921 epiginosko- to know, that is, to perceive; to know, that is, to understand); known and understood by many; as dying(599 apothnesko-to die; to perish by means of something; used of the natural death of man); the daily death worked in the flesh by submission to Jesus and by His subsequent ministry through us; and, behold, we live; as chastened(3811 paideuo- used of God; to chasten by the affliction of evils and calamities; to be instructed, to be taught, or to learn; to chastise with blows, to scourge; used of a father punishing his son); and not killed; Dying daily, yet living to serve daily; the walk of death that the Life of Jesus might manifest in our mortal bodies.
10 As sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; sorrowful because of the affliction of the m ministry and hardness of men’s hearts; rejoicing because of the intimacy with Jesus, and the fellowship of His sufferings; as poor 4434 ptochos- (1) reduced to beggary, begging, asking alms 2) destitute of wealth, influence, position, honor a) lowly, afflicted, poor, needy, helpless, powerless to accomplish an end; 3) lacking in anything, as respects their spirit; destitute of wealth of learning and intellectual culture which the schools afford (men of this class most readily give themselves up to Christ’s teaching and proved them selves fitted to lay hold of the heavenly treasure); yet making many rich(4148 ploutizo-1) used of spiritual riches); as having nothing, and yet possessing all things. We are as well satisfied with what little we have, as those in the world are with their abundance; in possessing nothing, nothing possesses me. In Jesus, I possess everything I need to carry out the will of God for my ministry.
It is the lot of faithful ministers often to be reduced to great difficulties, and to stand in need of much patience.; those who would approve themselves to Jesus must approve themselves faithful in trouble as well as in peace, not only in doing the work of God diligently, but also in bearing the will of God patiently. There is no piety without purity. A care to keep ourselves unspotted from the world is necessary in order to our acceptance with God. Knowledge was another principle; and zeal without this is but madness. As Jesus resurrects in us, we should find ourselves more and more, acting with long-suffering and kindness, being not easily provoked, but bearing with the hardness of men’s hearts, and hard treatment from their hands; He acted under the influence of the Holy Ghost, from the noble principle of unfeigned love, according to the rule of the word of truth, under the supports and assistances of the power of God, having on the Armor of righteousness—Jesus Himself—a consciousness of Jesus’ righteousness and holiness , which is the best defense against the temptations of prosperity on the right hand, and of adversity on the left.
The disciple must expect to meet with many alterations of his circumstances and conditions in the ministry; disciples will experience honor and dishonor, good report and evil report: good men in this world must expect to meet with some dishonor and reproaches, to balance their honor and esteem; and we stand in need of the grace of God to arm us against the temptations of honor on the one hand, so as to bear good report without pride, and of dishonor on the other hand, so as to bear reproaches without impatience or retaliation. The disciple will be rejected by many, accepted by comparatively few; by some he will be counted as a deceiver, and run down as such; by others as true, preaching the gospel of truth, and men who were true to the trust reposed in them.
The disciple will be slighted by the men of the world as unknown, basically the scum of the earth, not worth taking notice of; he will be chastened; He will be despised as poor, because of his poverty in this world; and yet he will make many rich, by preaching the unsearchable riches of Jesus, and ministering Him to them. The disciple will not have much material wealth, if any–and silver and gold has he none, yet he possesses all things: he has nothing in this world, because he is not of this world, nor is this world his home. He has nothing in himself,, but possesses all things in Jesus. Such a paradox is a disciple’s life
Jesus suffered the horror of Golgatha for me–God will allow me to go through many troubling experiences, for others. God works and moves with each of us that our experiences in life–good and bad–will be to the profit of others. God allows hardship and trouble that we may be able to endure for others, thus comforting them with the comfort of God we obtained through our own tribulation. Graces and mercies that God bestows on us are in turn to be bestowed on others, as the resurrected Jesus ministers through us by His Spirit, the Comforter. Jesus, as the sufferer of all of man’s afflictions, is thus qualified to be our Comforter in them all–Jesus told Paul that his persecution of the early church saints was the persecution of Jesus Himself–sufferings, whether endured by Jesus Himself or by His church, are all the “Sufferings of Christ.” (Mt. 25: 40, 45; John 4: 17-21).Jesus calls His people’s sufferings His own because of the sympathy, and the mystical union between Him and His people (Rom. 8: 17; 1 Cor. 4: 10; Heb. 2: 17-18). Notice in 2 Cor. 1: 5, that the sufferings (plural), are many, but the Consolation (though singular), overcomes all.
*OUR NUMBER ONE DUTY: MINISTRY TO JESUS
38 Now it came to pass, as they went, that he entered into a certain village: and a certain woman named Martha received him into her house.
39 And she had a sister called Mary, which also sat at Jesus’ feet, and heard his word.
40 But Martha was cumbered about much serving, and came to him, and said, Lord, dost thou not care that my sister hath left me to serve alone? bid her therefore that she help me.
41 And Jesus answered and said unto her, Martha, Martha, thou art careful and troubled about many things:
42 But one thing is needful: and Mary hath chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her.
Verse 39: Martha had a sister called Mary, which also sat at Jesus’ feet, and heard his word.
She worshipped Him, and heard his word. It seems, our Lord Jesus, as soon as he came into Martha’s house, even before entertainment was made for him, addressed himself to his great work of preaching the gospel. He presently took the chair with a serious tone, for Mary sat to hear him, which shows us her submission to Him as He was teaching her. Mary, having heard Jesus preach and teach, was obviously greatly drawn to Him—she sat at His feet and loved on Him and listened to Him.
She sat to hear, which denotes a close attention. Notice here that this is a decision on her part—she is choosing to sit at the feet of Jesus and receive all that He delivered. She sat at his feet by choice—we must make the same choice; Our sitting at Jesus’ feet, when we hear his word, signifies a readiness to receive Him and what He has to say; it is a submission and entire resignation of ourselves to His indwelling and His guidance that we might fulfill the will of our Father. We sit at His feet daily and get filled with Him, and it is out of this relationship with Him that we are able to minister Him to others. Martha, meanwhile, characterizes many Christians—running about, worrying about what might get done and what might not, but never worry whether or not enough time is being spent at the feet of Jesus. Martha was too concerned about many things that really weren’t essential to getting the will of God done; she was not concerned about sitting at the feet of Jesus, but about all the domestic chores that had to be done—that was the reason why she was not where Mary was—sitting at Jesus’ feet, to love on Him and hear his word.
The fact that she was wanting to do the best to serve her guests is not the issue; the fact is, that she was just distracted from the Person of Jesus by it. She was worried about much serving when she should have been with her sister, sitting at Jesus’ feet to love on Him and hear his word. Even church service can be a distraction from our spending time alone with Jesus.
The complaint which Martha made to Jesus against her sister Mary, for not assisting her, upon this occasion, in the business of the house (v. 40): “Lord, dost thou not care that my sister, who is concerned as well as I in having things done well, has left me to serve alone?
This complaint of Martha’s may be considered as a discovery of her worldliness: it was the language of her zeal for activity.
Notice also, that those who carry out much church activity, are sometimes critical of those whom they perceive as not doing enough. Martha, being angry with her sister, appealed to Jesus, and would have him say that she did well to be angry. The cares, which he cast upon us, we may cheerfully cast upon him, but not those which we foolishly draw upon ourselves.
See here Martha trying to discourage Mary’s devotion to Jesus. It is no strange thing for those that love the Lord to meet with hindrances and discouragements from those that may love Him, but are too busy for Him.;
The reproof which Jesus gave to Martha for her inordinate care, v. 41. She appealed to him, and he gives judgment against her: “Martha, Martha, thou art careful and troubled about many things, whereas but one thing is needful, and Mary has chosen that good part which shall not be taken away from her.”
He scolded her, though he was at this time her guest. She felt that she needed to do all that she perceived needed to be done, yet he publicly reprimanded her for it. Note, As many as Jesus loves he rebukes and chastens. Even those that are dear to Jesus, if any thing be amiss in them, shall be sure to hear of it.
When he reproved her, he called her by her name, Martha; for reproofs are then most likely to do good when they are particular, applied to particular persons and cases. He repeated her name— “Martha, Martha”; he speaks as one in earnest, and deeply concerned for her welfare. Those that are entangled in the cares of this life are not easily disentangled. To them we must call again and again, and we must be careful that as disciples, we not get tangled in the world ourselves.
That which he reproved her for was her being careful and troubled about many things. He was not pleased that she should think to please him a big feed and other niceties; there is a certain amount of flesh and sensuality in those things.
That which aggravated Martha was the one thing that is needful—sitting at the feet of Jesus. There is need but of one thing—the Master says it Himself, and Mary had chosen to do that one thing which was to sit at the feet of Jesus and listen to Him and love on Him. The one thing needful is certainly meant of that which Mary made her choice—sitting at Jesus’ feet, to hear his word. She was troubled about many things, when she should have applied herself to one; godliness unites the heart, which the world had divided. The many things she was troubled about were needless, while the one thing she neglected—sitting at the feet of Jesus—was needful. Martha’s care and work were good in their proper season and place; but now she had something else to do, which was unspeakably more needful, and therefore should be done first; She expected Jesus to have blamed Mary for not doing as she did, but he blamed her for not doing as Mary did; The day will come when Martha will wish she had set where Mary did.
*REPENT OR PERISH: THE PARABLE OF THE UNFRUITFUL FIG TREE
1 There were present at that season some that told him of the Galilaeans, whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices.
2 And Jesus answering said unto them, Suppose ye that these Galilaeans were sinners above all the Galilaeans, because they suffered such things?
3 I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish.
4 Or those eighteen, upon whom the tower in Siloam fell, and slew them, think ye that they were sinners above all men that dwelt in Jerusalem?
5 I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish.
6 He spake also this parable; A certain man had a fig tree planted in his vineyard; and he came and sought fruit thereon, and found none.
7 Then said he unto the dresser of his vineyard, Behold, these three years I come seeking fruit on this fig tree, and find none: cut it down; why cumbereth it the ground?
8 And he answering said unto him, Lord, let it alone this year also, till I shall dig about it, and dung it:
9 And if it bear fruit, well: and if not, then after that thou shalt cut it down.
This parable is intended to enforce that word of warning immediately going before, “Except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish; except you be reformed, you will be ruined, as the barren tree, except it bring forth fruit, will be cut down.”
Those who repent, and bring forth fruit, will find them honored of our Father, for who can bring forth fruit but he or she that honors the Son and obeys Him? but the body of the nation continued impenitent and unfruitful, and ruin without remedy came upon them; about forty years after they were cut down, and cast into the fire, as John Baptist had told them (Mt. 3:10—And now also the axe is laid unto the root of the trees; therefore, every tree which bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down and cast into the fire.), which saying of his this parable enlarges upon.
He spake also this parable; A certain man had a fig tree planted in his vineyard; and he came and sought fruit thereon, and found none.
….meaning Israel as the visible witness for God in the world; but generally, all persons within the pale of the visible Church of God—those who profess Jesus. This is a warning to all who do profess Jesus—here, without the intercession of the Gardener of the vineyard (Jesus Himself), the tree would have been cut down and burned long ago even with that, the tree—the person—is now on his last trial; We will see the mercy of Jesus in letting the tree go another year before it is hewn down—mercy rejoices over judgment—James 2: 13; But here, judgment will win out over mercy, even though grace and mercy are to be given over a whole year.
[Planted in his vineyard]– a spot selected for its fertility, separated from the surrounding fields, and cultivated with special care, with a view solely to fruit—this is grace upon grace to produce fruit at the direction of Jesus, the Gardener in this case;
And he came and sought fruit thereon– a heart turned to God, the fruits of righteousness, a laying down of the life to Jesus, thus bringing forth abiding fruit to the Kingdom in obedience to Him. Compare (Matt. 21:33-34), and (Isa. 5:2). “He looked that it should bring forth fruit:” He has a right to it, and will require it.
And found none–The owner’s expectation from it: He came, and sought fruit thereon, and he had reason to expect it. He did not send, but came himself, intimating his desire to find fruit. Our Father requires and expects fruit from those that have a place in his vineyard—those who are saved and nourished by the Blood of Jesus—-ye shall know them by their fruit. This is faith which worketh by love—faith that is given by Jesus in response to our love for Him which is proven by our obedience to Him. Leaves will not serve, crying, Lord, Lord; blossoms will not serve, beginning well and promising to do the will of God, but being disobedient; there must be fruit. Many envision themselves in the vineyard, but do nothing to employ their grace to His glory—faith without works is dead—and it is deadly—it is hewn down and cast into the fire in the end
Then said he unto the dresser of his vineyard, Behold, these three years I come seeking fruit on this fig tree, and find none: cut it down; why cumbereth it the ground?
Some expositors see in this period of three years an allusion to the storied past of Hebrew life, and in the number 3 discern the three marked epochs, each lasting several centuries, of the high priests, judges, and kings. This, however, is a very doubtful reference, owing to the impossibility of separating the first two periods of the rule of high priests and judges, as these interchange and overlap each other. Another school of interpreters sees a reference to the three years of the public ministry of Jesus. A better reference would be God’s successive calls to Israel by the Law, the prophets, and by Christ. It is, however, safer, in this and m many of the Lord’s parables, not to press every little detail which was necessary for the completion of the picture. Here the period of three years in which the Lord of the vineyard came seeking fruit, represents by the number 3 the
symbol of complete-ness — a period of full opportunity given to the tree to have become fruitful and productive—in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost. Cut it down; why cumbereth it the ground? better rendered, why doth it make the ground useless? It is an unproductive tree, and occupies the place which another and a fertile tree might fill.
How many times for at least three years has God come to many of us, seeking fruit, but has found none, or next to none, or worse than none?
This fig-tree did not only not bring forth fruit, but did hurt; it cumbered the ground; it took up the room of a fruitful tree, and was injurious to all about it. See the doom passed upon it; Cut it down. He says this to the dresser of the vineyard, to Jesus, to whom all judgment is committed, to the ministers who are in his name to declare this doom. Nothing can be expected concerning barren trees than that they should be cut down. As the unfruitful vineyard is dismantled, and thrown open to the common (Isa. 5:5-6), so the unfruitful trees in the vineyard are cast out of it, and wither, (Jn. 15:6). It is cut down by the judgments of God, especially spiritual judgments, such as false prophets who fleece the flock of God. It is cut down by death, and cast into the fire of hell; and with good reason, for why cumbers it the ground?
And he answering said unto him, Lord, let it alone this year also, till I shall dig about it, and dung it:
The last year — the year of grace they who listened to him then were living in. It was the last summons to repentance, the final reminder to the old covenant people that to their high privileges as the chosen race there were duties attached. They prided themselves on the privileges, they utterly forgot the duties. The period represented by this last year included the preaching of John the Baptist, the public ministry of Jesus Christ, and the forty years of apostolic teaching
which followed the Crucifixion and Resurrection. The last chance was given, but in the Vinedresser’s prayer to the Lord of the vineyard there is scarcely a ray of hope. The history of the world supplies the sequel to this parable-story.
See here the intercession of Jesus; He ever lives, interceding. Ministers are intercessors; they that dress the vineyard should intercede for it; those we preach to we should pray for, for we must give ourselves to the word of God and to prayer. See what it is he prays for, and that is a reprieve: Lord, let it alone this year also. He does not pray, “Lord, let it never be cut down,” but, “Lord, give it one more chance—it is better to error on the side of mercy; we owe it to Jesus, the great Intercessor, that barren trees are not cut down immediately: had it not been for his interposition, the whole world had been cut down, upon the sin of Adam; but he said, Lord, let it alone; and it is he that upholds all things. We are encouraged to pray to God for the merciful reprieve of barren fig-trees: “Lord, let them alone; continue them yet awhile in their probation; bear with them a little longer, and wait to be gracious.” Thus must we stand in the gap, to turn away the wrath of God. Reprieves of mercy are but for a time; Let it alone this year also, a short time, but a sufficient time to make trial. When God has suffered with us long, we may hope he will bear yet a little longer, but we cannot expect he should bear always.
How he promises to improve this tree if reprieve be obtained: Till I shall dig about it, and dung it–“I will give him the full counsel of God, and in the end his blood will be on his own hands”—as I give him the full counsel, I will minister to him to help him fulfill it.
Unfruitful professors of Jesus, if after long unfruitfulness they will repent, and amend, and bring forth fruit, shall find all is well. God will be pleased, for he will be praised; ministers’ hands will be strengthened, and such penitents will be their joy here and their crown hereafter; there will be joy in heaven for it; the ground will be no longer cumbered, but bettered, the vineyard beautified, and the good trees in it made better. As for the tree itself, it is well for it; it shall not only not be cut down, but it shall receive blessing from God (Heb. 6:7); it shall be purged, and shall bring forth more fruit, for our Father is its husbandman (Jn. 15:2); and it shall at last be transplanted from the vineyard on earth to the paradise above.
But he adds, If not, then after that thou shalt cut it down. Observe here, that, though God bear long, He will not bear always with unfruitful professors; His patience will have an end, and, if it be abused, will give way to that wrath which will have no end. Barren trees will certainly be cut down at last, and cast into the fire.
The longer God has waited, and the more cost he has been spent upon them, the greater will their destruction be: to be cut down after that, after all these expectations from it, these debates concerning it, this concern for it, will be sad indeed, and will aggravate the condemnation.
Those that now intercede for barren trees, and take pains with them, if they persist in their unfruitfulness will be even content to see them cut down, and will not have one word more to say for them.
And if it bear fruit, well: and if not, then after that thou shalt cut it down.
And if it bear fruit, well– all then will yet be right;
And if not, then after that thou shalt cut it down—it will be cast into the fire; the end of the unfruitful, shall be utter destruction.
Why would the tree be cut down?
Except ye repent ye shall perish. Luke 13: 5
Depart from me, ye who work iniquity. Mt 7 : 23
Thou hast neither part nor lot in this matter, for thy heart is not right in the sight of God
Repent therefore of this thy wickedness, and pray God, if perhaps the thought of thine heart may be forgiven thee.
For I perceive that thou art in the gall of bitterness, and in the bond of iniquity. Acts 8:21-24
Jesus answered them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whosoever committeth sin is the servant of sin.
And the servant abideth not in the house for ever: but the Son abideth ever.
If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed. John 8:34-36
But God be thanked, that ye were the servants of sin, but ye have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered you.
Being then made free from sin, ye became the servants of righteousness.
I speak after the manner of men because of the infirmity of your flesh: for as ye have yielded your members servants to uncleanness and to iniquity unto iniquity; even so now yield your members servants to righteousness unto holiness.
For when ye were the servants of sin, ye were free from righteousness.
What fruit had ye then in those things whereof ye are now ashamed? for the end of those things is death.
But now being made free from sin, and become servants to God, ye have your fruit unto holiness, and the end everlasting life.
For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. Rom 6:17-23
10 But chiefly them that walk after the flesh in the lust of uncleanness, and despise government. Presumptuous are they, selfwilled, they are not afraid to speak evil of dignities.
11 Whereas angels, which are greater in power and might, bring not railing accusation against them before the Lord.
12 But these, as natural brute beasts, made to be taken and destroyed, speak evil of the things that they understand not; and shall utterly perish in their own corruption;
13 And shall receive the reward of unrighteousness, as they that count it pleasure to riot in the day time. Spots they are and blemishes, sporting themselves with their own deceivings while they feast with you;
14 Having eyes full of adultery, and that cannot cease from sin; beguiling unstable souls: an heart they have exercised with covetous practices; cursed children:
15 Which have forsaken the right way, and are gone astray, following the way of Balaam the son of Bosor, who loved the wages of unrighteousness;
16 But was rebuked for his iniquity: the dumb ass speaking with man’s voice forbad the madness of the prophet.
17 These are wells without water, clouds that are carried with a tempest; to whom the mist of darkness is reserved for ever.
18 For when they speak great swelling words of vanity, they allure through the lusts of the flesh, through much wantonness, those that were clean escaped from them who live in error.
19 While they promise them liberty, they themselves are the servants of corruption: for of whom a man is overcome, of the same is he brought in bondage. 2 Pet 2:10-19
How can ye believe, which receive honor one of another,
and seek not the honor that cometh from God only?
To be within the Church of the living God through the Blood of Jesus Christ, is a high privilege, and involves a solemn responsibility. The owner of the vineyard, having planted a fig tree in it, “came and sought fruit thereon;” for in the natural course of things fruit, in such a case, was to be expected. But when does God come, seeking fruit from men thus privileged? Not at the day of judgment; for though He will come and demand it then, the parable represents the tree as still in the ground after the lord of the vineyard has come seeking fruit, and as allowed to remain with a view to further trial. It is now, therefore, or during our present state, that God is coming seeking fruit from us. Are we favored with a Christian education and example? He comes, saying, `Any fruit? ‘ Have we been placed under a faithful, rousing ministry of the Gospel? He comes, asking, `What fruit? ‘ Have we been visited with crushing trials, fitted to bring down pride, and soften the heart, and give the commandments of Jesus an entrance they never had before? He comes, demanding the fruit. Concerning multitudes in the church today, the report must still be– “and found none.”
The Lord, we see, notes the length of time that men continue fruitless under the means of spiritual grace. “Behold, these three years I come seeking fruit on this fig tree, and find none.” “O Jerusalem, wash thine heart from wickedness, that thou mayest be saved: how long shall thy vain thoughts lodge within thee?” “Wilt thou not be made clean? when shall it once be?” “It is time to Seek the Lord, until He come and rain righteousness upon you,” (Prov. 1:22; Jer. 4:14; 13:27; Hos. 10:12).
To be cut down is the justifiable end of all the fruitless: “Cut it down; why cumbereth it the ground?” As if they were a burden to the earth that bears them, to the place they fill, deforming the beauty and hindering the fruitfulness of God’s vineyard. They are borne with, but with a certain impatience and indignation. And even when the fruitless are borne with, it is because of the Intercessory Blood of Jesus; it is worthy of notice that the respite sought in the parable was not another three years, but just “one year.” As in the natural culture, this would be sufficient to determine whether any fruit was to be gotten out of the tree at all, so in the spiritual husbandry, the thing intended is just one sufficient trial more. And surely it is a loud call to immediate repentance when one has any good reason to think that he is on his last trial.
Genuine repentance, however late, avails to save: “If it bear fruit (well);” and only if not, was it to be cut down. The case of the thief on the cross decides this for all time and for every soul. There is not a sinner out of hell– though the most hardened, the furthest gone, the nearest to the flames– but if he only begin to bear fruit, if he do but turn to God with all his heart in the Blood of Jesus, it will deliver him from going down to the pit, it will stay the hand of justice, it will secure his eternal salvation. “Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thought, and let him return unto the Lord, and He will have mercy upon him, and to our God, and He will abundantly pardon.” Isa. 55: 7; “As I live, saith the Lord, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that he should turn from his way and live. Turn ye, turn ye, why will ye die, O house of Israel?” Ezek. 33: 11
The final perdition of such as, after the utmost limits of divine forbearance, are found fruitless, will be preeminently and confessedly just: “If not, after that thou shalt cut it down.” It is the Intercessor Himself that says this. Mercy Himself, who before pleaded for mercy, now demands, the execution. “He that, being often reproved, hardeneth his neck, shall suddenly be destroyed, and that without remedy” (Prov. 29:1). Be wise now, therefore, O ye fruitless; be instructed, ye foolish and unwise: Kiss the Son, lest He be angry, and ye perish from the way, when His wrath is kindled but a little. Blessed are all they that put their trust in Him! Beware lest that come upon you which is spoken of by the prophet, “Because I have purged thee, and thou wast not purged, thou shalt not be purged from thy filthiness anymore, until I have caused my fury to rest upon thee” (Ezek. 24:13).