The prayer which He taught His disciples (chap. 11) has respect also to the
position into which they came before the gift of the Holy Ghost.
[see note #32]
Jesus Himself prayed, as the dependent man on earth. He had not yet
received the promise of the Father, in order to pour it out on His
disciples, and could not till His ascension into heaven. These, however,
are in relationship with God as their Father. The glory of His name, the
coming of His kingdom, were to occupy their first thoughts. They depended
on Him for their daily bread. They needed pardon, and to be kept from
temptation. The prayer comprised the desire of a heart true to God; the
need of the body committed to their Father's care; the grace required for
their walk when they had sinned, and in order that their flesh should not
manifest itself, that they might be saved from the power of the enemy.
The Lord then dwells on perseverance, that petitions should not be those of
a heart indifferent to the result. He assures them that their prayers
should not be in vain; also, that their heavenly Father would give the Holy
Spirit to those that asked Him. He puts them into His own relationship on
earth with God. Hearkening to God, applying to Him as a Father-it is the
whole of practical christian life.
Afterwards the two great weapons of His testimony are shewn forth, namely,
casting out demons, and the authority of His word. He had manifested the
power that cast out demons; they attributed it to the prince of the demons.
Nevertheless He had bound the strong man; He had spoiled his goods; and
this proved that the kingdom of God was indeed come. In such a case as
this, God being come to deliver man, everything took its true place;
everything was either of the devil, or of the Lord. Moreover, if the
unclean spirit had gone out and God was not there, the wicked spirit would
come back with others more wicked than himself; and the last state is worse
than the first.
These things were taking place at that time. But miracles were not all. He
had proclaimed the word. A woman, sensible to the joy of having a son like
Jesus, declares aloud the value of such a relationship to Him after the
flesh; the Lord puts this blessing, as He did in the case of Mary, on those
who heard and kept His word. The Ninevites had hearkened to Jonah, the
queen of Sheba to Solomon, without even one miracle being wrought; and a
greater than Jonah was now among them. There were two things there-the
testimony plainly set forth (v. 33), and the motives which governed those
that heard it. If the true light shone fully into the heart, there remained
no darkness in it. If the perfect truth was presented according to God's
own wisdom, it was the heart that rejected it. The eye was evil. The
notions and motives of a heart at a distance from God only darkened it: a
heart that had but one object, God and His glory, would be full of light.
Moreover light does not merely display itself, it enlightens all around it.
If God's light were in the soul, it would be full of it and no part dark.
Verses 37-52. Invited to the Pharisee's house, He judges the condition of
the nation, and the hypocrisy of its pretended righteousness, putting His
finger on the whited show and inward covetousness and self-seeking, the
making God's law burdensome to others, while neglecting the fulfilment of
it themselves, announcing the mission of the apostles and prophets of the
New Testament, the rejection of whom would fill up the measure of Israel's
iniquity, and bring to a final test those who hypocritically built the
tombs of the prophets their fathers had killed. And then all the blood,
with respect to which God had exercised His long-suffering, sending
testimonies to enlighten the people, and which had been shed on account of
those testimonies, should at length be required at the hand of the rebels.
The Lord's words did but stir up the malice of the Pharisees, who sought to
entangle Him in His talk. In a word we have, on one side, the word of the
testimony set in full relief, in place of the Messiah fulfilling the
promises; and, on the other, the judgment of a nation that had rejected
both, and would also reject even that which should afterwards be sent to
bring them back.