There are two things connected with the presence of the multitude, Chapter 5:1.
First, the time required that the Lord should give a true idea of the
character of His kingdom, since already He drew the multitude after Him.
His power making itself felt, it was important to make His character known.
On the other hand, this multitude who were following Jesus were a snare to
His disciples; and He makes them understand what an entire contrast there
was between the effect which this multitude might have upon them, and the
right spirit which ought to govern them. Thus, full Himself of what was
really good, He immediately brings forward that which filled His own heart.
This was the true character of the remnant, who in the main resembled
Christ in it. It is often thus in the Psalms.
The salt of the earth is a different thing from the light of the world. The
earth, it appears to me, expresses that which already professed to have
received light from God-that which was in relationship with Him by virtue
of the light-having assumed a definite shape before Him. The disciples of
Christ were the preservative principle in the earth. They were the light of
the world, which did not possess that light. This was their position,
whether they would or no. It was the purpose of God that they should be the
light of the world. A candle is not lighted in order to be hidden.
All this supposes the case of the possibility of the kingdom being
established in the world, but the opposition of the greater part of men to
its establishment. It is not a question of the sinner's redemption, but of
the realisation of the character proper to a place in the kingdom of God;
that which the sinner ought to seek while he is in the way with his
adversary, lest he should be delivered to the judge-which indeed has
happened to the Jews.
At the same time the disciples are brought into relationship with the
Father individually-the second great principle of the discourse, the
consequence of the Son being there-and a yet more excellent thing is set
before them than their position of testimony for the kingdom. They were to
act in grace, even as their Father acted, and their prayer should be for an
order of things in which all would correspond morally to the character and
the will of their Father. "Hallowed be thy name, thy kingdom come,"
[see note #22]
is, that all should answer to the character of the Father, that all should
be the effect of His power. "Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven"
is perfect obedience. Universal subjection to God in heaven and on earth
will be, to a certain point, accomplished by the intervention of Christ in
the millennium, and absolutely so when God shall be all in all. Meanwhile
the prayer expresses daily dependence, the need of pardon, the need of
being kept from the power of the enemy, the desire of not being sifted by
him, as a dispensation of God, like Job or Peter, and of being preserved
This prayer also is adapted to the position of the remnant; it passes over
the dispensation of the Spirit, and even that which is proper to the
millennium as an earthly kingdom, in order to express the right desires,
and speak of the condition and the dangers of the remnant until the
Father's kingdom should come. Many of these principles are always true, for
we are in the kingdom, and in spirit we ought to manifest its features; but
the special and literal application is that which I have given. They are
brought into relationship with the Father in the realisation of His
character, which was to be displayed in them by virtue of this
relationship, causing them to desire the establishment of His kingdom, to
overcome the difficulties of an opposing world, to keep themselves from the
snares of the enemy, and to do the Father's will. It was Jesus who could
impart this to them. He thus passes from the law,
[see note #23] recognised as
coming from God, to its fulfilment, when it shall be as it were absorbed in
the will of Him who gave it, or accomplished in its purposes by Him who
alone could do so in any sense whatever.