THE SON OF ADAM.
"The third living creature had a face as a Man." -- REV. 4:7.
"I drew them with the cords of a Man." -- HOS. 11:4.
"THE third living creature had a face as a Man," agreeable to which the third Gospel sets forth the Lord as Son of Adam, or Son of Man. Unlike St Mark, where the peculiar view of our Lord had to be gathered from nice details, each in itself comparatively trifling, yet when summed up affording a picture full of character and distinctness, St Luke throughout writes very broadly and plainly the memoir of the Son of Man, shewing the Lord as very Man, and therefore linked not only to a certain kingdom, but to all the Sons of Adam. Here is man according to God, the pattern Man, in and through whom man is blessed and God glorified, seen not only in moral perfectness, but in all the sufferings and honours, which according to God's purpose are the heritage of the sons of men; first humbled into the dust of death, then exalted to God's right hand, His image and likeness, to rule as Lord of all. For man had been God's image, set by Him to rule the creature; and though this image had failed in the first Adam, it was to be renewed with greater blessings in "the Second Man, the Lord from heaven" (1 Cor. 15:47).
This is the picture drawn by St Luke. And as in St Matthew, the Gospel of the Kingdom, we had the professing children of the kingdom, and their zeal for God, though not according to knowledge, -- their washings of the outside of the cup, their tithing mint and cummin, their compassing sea and land to make one proselyte, -- set very brightly in contrast with the true Heir, and His kingdom of righteousness, and joy, and peace, in the Holy Ghost; so here in the Gospel of the Son of Man, as the pattern Man walks before us, we have men as they are set side by side, in strong and marked contrast, with man as he should be, the Man Christ Jesus.
In this relation as Son of Man, the Lord holds two offices, (I have said that our Lord as Man holds two offices, because these two, Apostle, and High-priest, God's messenger to man, and man's to God, involve or are connected, I believe, with all the others, which He holds as Son of Man.) both of which, as they result from His being very Man, meet us very prominently throughout this Gospel. As Man He is the Priest, "for every high-priest is taken from among men," for this reason, "that he may have compassion on the ignorant, for that he himself also is compassed with infirmity" (Heb. 5:1, 2). As Man He is the Prophet, or Apostle, sent from God, and yet feeling with those to whom He comes as God's messenger. St Paul therefore, when speaking to the Hebrews of their "Apostle and High-priest," the One who comes from God, and goes to God, for us, introduces his subject with a proof that He who holds this place is Man, shewing, that "forasmuch as the children were partakers of flesh and blood, He also Himself likewise took part of the same." "For in all things it behoved Him to be made like unto His brethren, that He might be a merciful and faithful High-priest, to make reconciliation for the sins of the people. For in that He himself hath suffered being tempted, He is able to succour them that are tempted" (Heb. 2:14, 17, 18, see also Luke 5:15, 16). And this explains the reason why some, seeing so much of priestly compassion here, have connected this Gospel with the emblem of "the ox," taking that figure as representative of sacrifice, and so of priestly propitiation. That they were right in seeing the Priest here, I cannot doubt. For the Priest is a relation, not arbitrarily undertaken, but necessarily growing out of our Lord's true manhood. But this only confirms me in the view, which indeed is justified by this Gospel throughout, that here the Lord stands before us as the "Son of Man."
To pretend to give more than a few hints would lead me too far. I shall be content here to shew, how what is distinctive in St Luke points out the Son of Man; adding two or three examples as to the way in which the peculiarities of this Gospel mark our special duties and privileges as sons of men.
Now as to what is distinctive in St Luke. His very Preface is characteristic: here only the Evangelist begins with an address to his friend Theophilus (Luke 1:1-4). Human affection is thus displayed here. A Man is to be described, and the Writer will draw his friend to the subject "by the bands of a man." Then this Evangelist -- and this one alone -- refers to his own personal knowledge of his subject; -- "having had perfect understanding of all things from the very first;" thus bringing something human into his task, which is perfectly in keeping with the view of Christ which this Gospel presents to us. As another has observed, "the writer himself appears, as having the faculties and affections of a man exercised about the things which were engaging him." (On the Gospel by St Luke, p. 12.) Nor were his heart and pen the less for this reason under the guidance of the Holy Ghost, who, as He was about to draw the portrait of the Anointed Man, thus with a purpose permitted the human affections of His instrument to be seen, to shew that perfect subjection to God could yet consist with what was truly human.
No less characteristic is the opening chapter. St John, as befits him, begins with "the Word which was in the beginning, and was with God, and was God." And his tone throughout, not of this world, corresponds with the glory of the Only-begotten. Very different, but quite as perfect in its place, is the opening of this Gospel. It begins, like a simple tale touching the sons of men, with, "There was in the days of Herod the king a certain priest" (Luke 1:5). And as it proceeds, we are introduced to human sympathies and relationships, in a way perfectly unlike anything we get in the other Gospels; with all the circumstances of the birth and infancy of the Holy Child, and of him who was sent as His forerunner. Here too, and here only, do we find the three inspired Songs, which, as speaking of mercy to Gentile as well as Jew, have for ages been the chosen utterance of the Church taken from among all nations. Here Mary sings, "He hath put down the mighty from their seat, and hath exalted them of low degree. He hath filled the hungry with good things, and the rich He hath sent empty away" (Luke 1:52-53). Here even the priest looks beyond Israel, and while speaking of "salvation to his people," adds, "to give light to them that sit in darkness, and in the shadow of death" (Luke 1:77, 79); while in the same strain the aged Simeon, ready to depart in peace, for his eyes have now seen God's salvation, cannot but add, that it is "prepared before the face of all people, a light to lighten the Gentiles, and to be the glory of Thy people Israel" (Luke 2:31, 32).
The second chapter is as distinctive. Commencing as usual here, with facts quite beyond the limits of the elect people, St Luke notices that "in those days there went out a decree that all the world should be taxed" (Luke 2:1-3). And then comes a fact which we should in vain look for in St Matthew, that Joseph and Mary "went up to be taxed," among the rest who went every one to his own city. For the mind of the Spirit here is not so much to shew One who has claims to rule, as One who is coming down perfectly on that ground which man as man then occupied. Equally distinctive is the message of the angels to the watching shepherds. The kings of the East may ask in St Matthew for One "who is born King." But in St Luke the angel says, "Behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people; for unto you is born a Saviour: and this shall be the sign; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes" (Luke 2:10-12). After which we get the story of the infancy of "the Child:" how "the Child grew;" how "the grace of God was on Him" (Luke 2:40); how "when He was twelve years old, He went up with His parents to Jerusalem to the feast;" how "the Child tarried behind, and His mother knew it not;" how "she said, Son, why hast Thou dealt thus;" how "He went down and was subject to them;" how "He increased in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and man" (Luke 2:42-52); -- these and points like these, as they are peculiar to this Gospel, distinctly mark our Lord as Man, personally entering man's lot, and Himself fully tasting it; joining Himself to us, in birth, in childhood, and in youth, that, being very Man, He might in His own blessed Person bring man near to God.
I trace the same tone throughout the next chapter, which records John's ministry, and the baptism of the Lord. It commences -- for the Spirit is here occupied with man as such -- with a glance over the world; the rulers of which, for rulers are the key to the state of their subjects, are at some length given to us (Luke 3:1, 2). Tiberius Caesar is reigning: Pontius Pilate governs Judea: Herod is tetrarch of Galilee: Philip of Iturea: Lysanias rules Abilene: while, (and this is not without purpose,) two men are named as the high-priests of that people which had once been God's elect. Two high-priests in Israel -- what a tale this told of the fall of the elect, who had become so mixed with the world, that where God had appointed one high-priest, the Gentile could now make many. ("In strict propriety there could be but one high-priest at a time, who held the office for life. But after the reduction of Judea to the Roman yoke, great changes were made, and the occupants of an office, which had enjoyed almost regal authority, were changed at the will of the conquerors. Hence some have supposed that the office had become annual, and that Annas and Caiaphas, occupying it by turns, each or both might be said to be the high-priest." -- Bloomfield's Greek Testament, in loco.) But this is characteristic, and in keeping here. The "Second Man" is to be seen, and men as they are, and their doings, are brought to shew how God's thoughts are with them, even while their thoughts utterly differed from His thoughts. They have arranged the world as they like. Then He comes into the midst, both by His servants' preaching, and by His own life, to witness that what man now is, is opposed to God's image. I have already noticed that in St Matthew John comes preaching the "kingdom of heaven." Here he preaches "repentance for the remission of sins;" after which this Evangelist quotes the prophet, to shew how in this act God was opening the door, that "all flesh should see His salvation" (Luke 3:3, 6). Then here only is the preaching of the Baptist to men of every grade recorded. Here only do we read, "The people asked him, saying, What shall we do? -- and the publicans said, What shall we do? -- and the soldiers likewise demanded of him, saying, And what shall we do?" -- all which inquiries here are answered (Luke 3:10-14), with a special word to each, for man as man, whether soldier or publican, is the object which the Spirit would here present to us.
Then as to Christ's Baptism: here only do we read, -- "When all the people were baptized, it came to pass, that Jesus also being baptized, and praying, the heaven was opened" (Luke 3:21). He is linked here with "all the people," and it is specially noted, that, being baptized, as becomes a Man expressing His dependence, He "was praying." Baptism, as shadowing death and resurrection, is specially connected with us as sons of men, and also as members of that kingdom which flesh and blood cannot inherit. Therefore both St Matthew and St Luke so fully record it; while St John for the same reason omits it, as being from the first occupied with a view of Christ as the heavenly and only-begotten Son. Another fact, only recorded here, is that "Jesus now began to be about thirty years of age" (Luke 3:23), a point of interest regarding Him as a man, and still more as a priest, if we take the number "thirty" in its mystic signification. On this latter ground I scarce dare enter. A belief in mystic numbers too often in these days only provokes a smile. (The thoughts of Augustine on this subject, as to the import and value of mystic numbers as symbols, are well known. His 11th chap. of the 2d book, De Libero Arbitrio, has some suggestive thoughts on the subject. I confess I cannot see, why, if all creation be a type, numbers alone should be excluded as having no signification. But here as everywhere the seer is wanted.) Nevertheless I am assured that this number, and indeed all else which is distinctive here, is added with a special reason. If I mistake not, it involves in type (as we know is the case with other numbers, as for instance the number eight,) the very truth which was here set forth and fulfilled in Christ's baptism. Baptism is burial and resurrection: "we are buried by baptism" (Rom. 6:4; Col. 2:12), because in Adam we are dead, and in this act would confess our state, even while by faith in God's love we claim through the death of self a higher lineage. Christ as Son of Adam, through a mystic burial, figuring that other baptism, ("I have a baptism to be baptized with; and how am I straightened until it be accomplished!" -- Luke 12:50.) when all God's waves and billows went over Him, here takes the place of Adam's Son, and thus through death brings man into the higher relationship as Son of God. Thus linking Himself with us in our shame, He takes a place from whence henceforth He can meet the vilest of Adam's children, and, because He has another life, lift them up with Him into heavenly places. Thus this act touches His priesthood: "for if He were on earth, He should not be a priest, seeing there were priests who offered according to the law" (Heb. 8:4). But coming as He did in baptism to ground where "heaven was opened" to Him, He becomes, as the heavenly Man (thus anticipating His resurrection,) a fit High-priest for ruined men. Now the thirtieth year in which the Jewish priest entered on his office (Numb. 4:3), like the eighth day of circumcision, figured this same mystery of death and resurrection, and as such it is noticed here in the Gospel of the Son of Man; in the letter speaking of His manhood; in the spirit, of a higher truth growing out of what as Man He did and suffered. (This must needs be inconclusive to those unexercised in such subjects, for several points must be apprehended before we arrive at the result. I may however add a few words as to the two numbers to which allusion has been made. And first as to "the eighth day." Seven days in type include the periods proper to the first creation. The eighth, as it takes us out of these, into a new order of times, into another first day, speaks of a new creation or resurrection. Therefore was circumcision on the eighth day, to shew that when resurrection came, the filth of the flesh should be put away. So with "thirty," which is the multiple of three and ten; "ten" being but a unity of another order, and "three" the number most commonly used (why I know not, but the fact is so,) to prefigure one view of resurrection. But I forbear upon this. Augustine says, "Diei octavi sacramentum ... quo significatur resurrectio." -- Epist. lib. ii. 55, c. 13. Before I had read Augustine, simply from Scripture, I had come to the same conclusion, as indeed have many others.) For a like reason, in this Gospel the genealogy is given at His baptism, and not at His birth, to shew us how the Son of Adam claimed a higher lineage by mystic death and resurrection. I need not notice that here the genealogy is traced to Adam, and is, I doubt not, the mother's line, to shew, as was observed so long since as the second century, that He whom St Luke is shewing us was very Man, linked to, and about to head up afresh, all the families of men who had sprung from the root of old Adam. (Irenaeus, lib. iii. cap. 33. He alludes to the fact of there being seventy-two generations in this genealogy as something mystic. The Jews seem to have taken this genealogy, which sets out from Heli, for Mary's, in representing Mary, the daughter of Heli, tormented in hell. (See Lightfoot.) Justin Martyr also (Dial. c. Tryph. § 43) says that "the Virgin Mary was of the race of David, Jacob, Isaac, and Abraham," an expression which has been considered as an indication that he regarded one of the Genealogies as that of Mary.) All of which is characteristic, and illustrative of the relationship in which our Lord appears in this Gospel.
Equally marked is the account here given of the Lord's opening ministry. Both St Matthew and St Mark notice the fact, that after His baptism, "Jesus went into Galilee and began to preach." But this Evangelist only gives the particulars, which are all characteristic. Here we read, "He came to Nazareth, where He had been brought up." Then in the Synagogue on the Sabbath-day He stood up to read a scripture descriptive of Himself as the Anointed Man: -- "The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because the Lord hath anointed me, ... He hath sent me to heal the broken-hearted" (Luke 4:16-18). All this is in keeping here. He goes to the place "where He had been brought up," -- "bringing up" is a part of man's lot, -- and confessing that "the Lord has anointed Him," He declares the calling of the Gentiles, preaching deliverance to captives, and good tidings to the poor and broken-hearted. Still more marked is the discourse which follows, which is peculiar to St Luke, where, in quoting the Old Testament, and shewing how His course agreed with that of the ancient prophets, He speaks of Elijah and Elisha, as being sent, the one to Sarepta, a city of Sidon, to a widow there, the other to Naaman the Syrian, that is to two Gentiles; adding that remarkable declaration, so full of meaning, that "no prophet is accepted in his own country" (Luke 4:24-27); words implying that though rejected by the Jew, like Elijah and Elisha, He should yet find poor widows and lepers among the Gentiles, who would receive Him gladly.
These examples from the opening chapters of this Gospel may shew how, while setting forth the Lord as Man, the Spirit continually looks out to the Gentiles, on man as man, far beyond elect Israel. And this peculiarity runs throughout. Thus, in the 6th chapter, in that discourse which answers in substance to the Sermon on the Mount, here, not to dwell on the place and audience, is no reference to what "had been said of old time;" no allusion to "the law and the prophets," as in St Matthew's Gospel; no correction of the errors of practised religionists as to alms and prayer; but simply broad moral teachings suited to the state and wants of man as man. Many minor differences might be noted, equally characteristic, as for instance, that where St Matthew writes, "Be ye therefore perfect, as your Father in heaven is perfect," St Luke recording another form of the same expression, (for doubtless the substance of this Sermon was often repeated,) says, "Be ye therefore merciful, as your Father also is merciful;" thus putting His disciples on the same ground He himself here occupies, as coming down in mercy to meet the sons of men.
The same eye to man is seen in the mission of the Twelve as given here. In St Matthew their labours are specially directed within the limits of a certain outward kingdom. There we read that the Lord said, "Go not into the way of the Gentiles, and into any city of the Samaritans enter ye not; but go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel, and as ye go, preach, saying, The kingdom of heaven is at hand." St Luke omits this, as beside his purpose, simply saying, that "He sent them forth to preach," and that "they departed, preaching the Gospel everywhere." (Luke 9:6. Compare Matt. 10:5-7.) Then on their return, this Evangelist records, (the words are only here, and in St Mark,) that "John said, We saw one casting out devils, and we forbad him, because he followeth not with us. And Jesus said, Forbid him not, for he that is not against us is for us." St Mark adds here, because it bears on service, "For whosoever shall give you a cup of water to drink in my name, because ye belong to Christ, shall not lose his reward" (Mark 9:38-41). St Luke, while omitting this of the "cup of water," records the command, "Forbid him not," because it shews how God may have a work among men outside of what we judge to be the kingdom, with which disciples, if they are humble and obedient, are not to strive or interfere. St Luke then adds a scene (Luke 9:52-56), not elsewhere recorded, but characteristic here, as shewing the heart of the Son of Man for men, even while they rejected Him. The disciples go into a village of the Samaritans, to make ready for Him; "and they did not receive Him, because His face was as though He would go up to Jerusalem." At once the disciples, James and John, would have Him call for fire on the rejectors. Such is the flesh even in true and beloved followers of the loving Saviour -- so unwilling to recognise labourers who are not with us; so ready to judge those who will not receive us. But Jesus turned and rebuked them, saying, "Ye know not what spirit ye are of; for the Son of Man is come, not to destroy men's lives, but to save them," -- words omitted in the other Gospels, but perfect as revealing the Son of Man, who, with doors shut against Him, is yet content to bear this slight, if by long-suffering He may yet save lost sinners.
The mission of the Seventy, which immediately follows, and which is only here (Luke 10:1, &c.), is in the same tone, reaching forth as it does with manifest desire to win the sons of men. One little point here, peculiar to this Gospel, may perhaps be noticed. The Lord says, "Salute no man by the way;" and yet, "Into whatsoever house ye enter, say, Peace be to this house." The courtesies of life are not the chief thing with man in his present state. To be on good terms with those we meet is not the first thing, but rather, if it may be so, to set man right with God. To shew how God's thoughts are thoughts of "peace," this is of far higher moment than salutations and greetings, which may only leave us far off from Him with whom we have to do.
Closely allied with this special regard for man as such, is the fact that throughout this Gospel, in passages peculiar to St Luke, man as he is, in his thoughts and ways, is searched and manifested in a truly wondrous manner. Take, for example, the particulars of the call of Peter as recorded here. This call is very briefly mentioned in the other Gospels; but here only do we read the exercises of Peter's heart; here only are we shewn the feelings of a man, when for the first time he feels that God and His power are really brought near to him (Luke 5:1-10). (I say nothing here of the mystic sense of this scene, which is equally characteristic, as describing the gathering of creatures out of the Gentile waters of the sea of Galilee, (the mystery of which has long since been noticed,) by means of the Apostles' labour.) He has been unsuccessful in fishing. The Lord bids him let down the net. A great multitude of fish is at once caught, insomuch that the net brake. Then Peter is astonished, and falls down, and says, "Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord." Many secrets of the heart are here. A little matter, a draught of fishes, some providential occurrence, and it may be very slight, at times flashes in upon a man whom the Lord is leading, making him feel that God is very near him. When this is the case, man at once discovers that he is sinful, and as such would have the glory, which shews him his littleness, to depart from him. All this, as it is peculiar here, is quite in keeping, as shewing man as he is. (I just note here, that some have objected that the call of the Apostles, as recorded in St John, is not the same as that recorded by the other three Evangelists. I believe it is not. But such as have themselves been called, and experimentally know all these steps, know also that we, like the disciples of old, are called distinctly several times; first in one place, when we are John's disciples (John 1:37-42); after which we yet cling to our nets, and need another call (Luke 5:1-10), to bring us to walk with Jesus. We may want yet another, when the cross is seen in all its bitterness (John 21:3, 19).) Similar in character are the other words, only recorded in this same chapter, that "No man, having drunk old wine, straightway desireth new; for he saith, The old is better." The scene generally, and the conversation touching "new wine and old bottles," is in three of the Gospels; but here only are we carefully told the effect produced by drinking the old wine. In this another secret of human nature is disclosed, as to the power of habit and association to affect and bind the soul of man. If we indulge ourselves with the old wine, the excitements of the flesh, the new wine of the kingdom will not be relished by us. He that drinks the old will not desire the new; nay, while the savour of the old remains, though the new far surpasses the old, he will yet say, "The old is better." (Luke 5:39. Compare Matt. 9:17 and Mark 2:22.) St Luke, and it is perfect here, where man is the object before the mind of the Spirit, gives us, in what is peculiar to his Gospel, many fine touches of this nature, which, for this same reason, are omitted by St Matthew and St Mark, as lying out of that special line which it was their office to present to us.
Having thus shewn how broadly the Spirit through this Gospel looks out on man, I would now throw together several particulars, only noticed in this Gospel, and equally characteristic, as to the ways and conduct of the Pattern Man.
And here the first point I will notice is, that throughout this Gospel, again and again, in scenes common to the other Evangelists, and where they say nothing of prayer, St Luke repeatedly adds, that "He was praying;" and this because, as prayer adds to the perfectness of the picture as Man, the Evangelist would shew how "the Man Christ Jesus" continually exercised this grace of true dependence. Thus here only do we read, that at His baptism He "was praying:" here only that when He had cleansed the leper, "He withdrew Himself, and prayed" (Luke 5:12, 16). So again, here only are we told that His choice of the twelve followed a night of ceaseless prayer: "He continued all night in prayer, and when it was day, He called His disciples unto Him, and of them He chose twelve." (Luke 6:12, 13. Compare Matt. 10:1.) So again, here only do we read that Peter's famous confession was made "as Jesus was alone praying." (Luke 9:18. Compare Matt. 16:13 and Mark 8:27.) Here only are we told that the Transfiguration happened as He prayed: "He went up into a mountain, and as He prayed, the fashion of His countenance was changed." (Luke 9:29. Compare Matt. 17:1, 2 and Mark 9:2.) So again, in this Gospel, the Lord's Prayer was given, in answer to a request from His disciples, who, "as He was praying, when He ceased said, Lord, teach us to pray." (Luke 11:1, 2. Compare Matt. 6:9.) In St Matthew our Lord repeats this in His Sermon on the Mount, teaching us not to be ashamed to reiterate the self-same words, if only they are good words, in the ears of our disciples. I may also note here, for it is characteristic, that in St Luke, in the Lord's Prayer, we have, "Forgive us our sins," instead of "Forgive us our debts," as in St Matthew's Gospel. And trifling as the difference may appear, the instructed eye will see how perfectly it accords with the distinctive character of the respective Gospels; "debts" being the thought as connected with a kingdom, where righteousness is the rule; "sins," where men generally are regarded, who without law are yet sinners. Again, in this Gospel only have we the words to Peter, "I have prayed for thee." (Luke 22:32. Compare Matt. 26:33, 34). All of which, as it is peculiar here, is not only characteristic of the Lord as very Man, but a deeply instructive example of what becomes us as sons of men, to whom every event, be it baptism, or ministry, or social intercourse, the choice of preachers, or the hour of rest, each and all should be an occasion of renewed communion with God, with prayer not only for our own souls, but also for those of others.
Another point equally characteristic is the care this Evangelist takes to record circumstances illustrative of the Human sympathy of our Lord, not given in the other Gospels. Thus in the scene with the widow of Nain (Luke 7:11-16), which is peculiar to St Luke, the Evangelist notes some particulars which would naturally affect a tender human heart. The young man who had died was "the only son of his mother," and "she was a widow;" for human sorrows and affections here are all noted. Then when Jesus saw her, "He had compassion on her;" and when He had raised the youth, "He delivered him to his mother," as One, who having known a mother's love, could truly feel with her. And I may note here that in scenes common to the other Gospels, St Luke, by the addition of a single word, touches a human chord, beautifully in character with that view which it is his special work to present to us. For instance, in the case of Jairus' daughter, St Luke alone tells us that she was his "only" child. (Luke 8:42. Compare Matt. 9:18-19 and Mark 5:22-24.) So where another father comes to seek help, here only are his words recorded, "For he is mine only child." (Luke 9:38. Compare Matt. 17:15 and Mark 9:17.) Such a fact would touch a Man, and as such we find it here, revealing the perfect sympathy of Him "who is not ashamed to call us brethren."
Equally distinctive is the repeated mention, so often found in this Gospel, of the fact that our Lord "sat down to eat meat." (See Luke 7:36; 11:37; 14:1; 19:7, all of which examples are peculiar to this Gospel.) He is here eminently a social Man, going to tables where He is asked, and there, whether in houses of Publicans or Pharisees, using that social intercourse to instruct others. Thus He sanctifies man's commonest engagements and wants, for man must eat; shewing us how even the lower necessities of our bodies may be made occasions of ministering the bread of life. How He sits at table is fully seen here. A Pharisee invites Him and He goes (Luke 7:36, &c.); but even while at table He is occupied with a poor sinner, though His compassion for her provokes the assembled guests to judge Him, first as profane, and then as arrogant. At table, and in another's house, He fills the hungry with good things, while the rich, satisfied with themselves, are sent away empty. And this scene, only recorded here, full of the workings of man's heart, is perfectly in keeping with the special tenor of this Gospel; shewing us that not merit or righteousness, but a sense of sin, is the fit introduction to Him who came to save sinners. I notice here too, that in this Gospel the Lord repeats at table a great portion of that teaching, which, as we know from St Matthew, was elsewhere given in public and set sermons. His audience is changed, but not His doctrine; nay, the very words are adhered to, as if by this means He would the more firmly fix them on His disciples' hearts. (Many instances are recorded of our Lord uttering nearly the same words on different occasions: as the words, "I will have mercy and not sacrifice," twice recorded in St Matthew (Matt. 9:13; 12:7). So the answer to the repeated charge that "He cast out devils through Beelzebub" (Matt. 9:34; 12:24). So the repeated references to His cross in almost the self-same words (Matt. 16:21; 17:23; 20:17-19). So in St Matthew, He uttered the Lord's Prayer in His Sermon on the Mount. In St Luke, we find He gave it, with some slight alteration, to His disciples in reply to a request that He would teach them to pray. Every teacher knows how often he has used the same words to different audiences, and with slight differences. Our Lord did the same, as many places in the Gospels plainly intimate.) At a Pharisee's table, Pharisees are reproved (Luke 11:37, 39, 42). The fact that He is an invited guest shall not keep Him from faithfully warning those with whom He sits of the woes consequent on a form of godliness without the power.
Take another example of His manner at table, quite peculiar to St Luke, but shewing how blessedly He used for the good of men those social seasons which we so often misuse to our own injury; revealing too that blessed heart, which, while so keenly alive to man's wants, at the same time most deeply felt the contradiction of man's wickedness and selfishness on every side. A Pharisee asks Him to dine, and He accepts the call (Luke 14:1, &c). It was "the Sabbath-day," and He knew they "watched Him;" but though conscious that any service on that day would bring on Him reproach, He nevertheless stops, as He enters the door, to heal a poor sufferer. Then, as He goes to dinner, He cannot but mark how "those who were bidden," chose out the best places. Self is at work; human nature comes out even in so small a thing as a seat at table. For this He has a word. Then at the table, the choice of the guests suggests much. Men invite their rich neighbours, for they expect recompence. This draws forth His comments. Then one at the table, "as he heard these things," apparently touched by the thought of that day, when poor and rich should all be brought together, said, "Blessed is he that shall eat meat in the kingdom of God." At once the Lord seems carried in spirit from the table before Him, for seats at which the guests are so anxious, to another feast, which is prepared, and yet despised by men; from attendance at which they beg to be excused. The thought that when man spreads a table, it is full, contrasts strangely with the truth, that when God makes a feast, not one of the guests who are only bidden care to come. To sup with God, they must be compelled. But I need not pursue this. The whole scene, as it is peculiar to St Luke, shews not only what man is, but what man has been in Christ Jesus, who, "whether He ate or drank," was recollected, doing all to the glory of God, while His heart yet yearned over the sons of men.
I have as yet said nothing of the Parables peculiar to St Luke, save that in their opening form they remarkably differ from those in St Matthew's Gospel. Here it is always, -- "A certain man" (Luke 10:30; 13:6; 14:16; 15:4, 8, 11; 16:1, 19; 18:10). "A certain man fell among thieves" -- "A certain man had a fig-tree planted in his vineyard" -- "A certain man made a great supper" -- "What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he lose one of them, will not leave the ninety and nine in the wilderness?" -- or "What woman having ten pieces of silver, if she lose one piece, will not seek diligently till she find it?" So in the Parable of the Prodigal Son, "A certain man had two sons." So again, "There was a certain rich man which had a steward." So again, "There was a certain man clothed in purple and fine linen." So again, "Two men went up into the temple to pray." These parables are peculiar to St Luke, and in their contents, as in their form, shew the Lord as looking out broadly on man, more especially on man as lost and yet cared for. To take only the first, the Good Samaritan. Here it is seen how a Stranger can do for the ruined what Priest and Levite cannot. Priests served for the pure in the temple; but here is One who can meet even those who, going down from Jerusalem to the cursed city of Jericho (Joshua 6:26), have been left sorely wounded. I need not speak of such parables as those in the well-known 15th chapter, where God's own joy in saving the lost is so wondrously revealed to us; or of those which inculcate prayer (Luke 11:5; 18:1, &c.), which, as they are peculiar here, pointedly mark man's place as a dependent creature. Generally speaking, in all these parables, whether we regard their mere letter or their hidden spirit, a careful eye will see God's will respecting man, in some cases His special purpose to Gentiles in contrast with Jews. This, among other instances, is seen in the way in which two parables given by St Matthew are here placed in a connexion exactly in keeping with the object of St Luke's Gospel. In St Matthew the "Leaven" and "Mustard-seed" come in as part of a series, describing the development of the mystery of the kingdom; here (Luke 13:6, 19, 21) they come in immediately after the parable of the Barren Fig-tree, from which for three years fruit was sought in vain, and which was threatened with the axe if in the fourth year there should be no increase: shewing how, when the tree of Judaism should be felled, the Sower's work in the field, and the leavening of the lump, would begin, all exactly in character here, where the Spirit looks beyond Jewish ground to the work among men coming in on Israel's failure. The parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus is another example. (In this Parable we have a figure of the Jew and Gentile. See Augustine, Quoest. Evang. lib. ii. 38. Others of the Fathers give the same interpretation, of the correctness of which I have not a doubt.) But all this is perfectly in keeping with the view of Christ as Son of Adam.
To the peculiarities already noticed I might add many more, such as the fact that here only we have allusion to "the times of the Gentiles;" here only do we read of "Jerusalem being trodden down of the Gentiles," and her people "led away captive into all nations" (Luke 21:24). Here only the shooting of the fig-tree is seen with "all the trees" (Luke 21:29). Here only is the place of crucifixion called by its Gentile name, "Calvary," rather than, as in the other Gospels, Golgotha. (Luke 23:33. Compare Matt. 27:33.) Here only is the dying thief seen as saved by grace, in beautiful harmony with the whole tenor of this Gospel (Luke 23:43). So as to the Lord. Here only in the Garden is "an angel seen strengthening Him" (Luke 22:43), to shew how truly He was Man, receiving angels' ministry. Here only do we read of "the bloody sweat" (Luke 22:44): here only does He say to the traitor, "Judas, betrayest thou the Son of Man with a kiss?" (Luke 22:48). Here only does the Centurion say, "This was a righteous Man." Here only on the cross does the Lord as a Man "commend His spirit" into the hands of God, His Father (Luke 23:46, 47). So here only, after His resurrection He eats with men, verifying His manhood by yet partaking of "a piece of broiled fish and of a honey-comb" (Luke 24:41-43). But all this, and much more of a like nature, will meet the attentive reader, and illustrate that distinct view of the Lord which is here presented to us.
And now one word on the bearing of these things on us, who are Adam's sons. Need I draw out the moral of the repeated reference to prayer in this Gospel? Did the Son of Man pray at His baptism, when He chose apostles, when alone, -- did His prayer lead others to say, "Teach us to pray also;" and shall we who have nothing in ourselves be yet prayerless? Did He at table make every circumstance an occasion of blessed and holy teaching, and shall we not strive, after His pattern, to eat to God's glory, to sit in social circles diffusing something of His Spirit to all around? Oh! may we but see Him as He is, that like Him in the midst of men, instead of being affected by them, we may affect them in the power of a Higher Presence. And let us, who, though sons of Adam, by union with our risen Head, are conscious of possessing another and higher calling, -- who have confessed ourselves dead and risen, with heaven opened, and who, "by baptism, fasting, and temptation," are longing to be conformed to Him who went before, -- see that these things which were true in Him may be true in us also, for "as He is, so are we in this world."
And if there be some, as, alas! there are, who know not man's calling, as chosen in Christ to be the heir of all things, let them, looking in the face of Jesus, see God's love to man, who so loved us that He gave His Son to be for us a Perfect Man; to be borne in the womb, to be born, to hang upon a woman, to suck her breasts, to be taught by her lips, to increase in wisdom here; to know our relationships, and our sorrows, and our toils, and at last our death, that in everything He might be linked with us, and through His death, still not loosing us, might in Himself lift us up, to sit in heavenly places, -- angels, and principalities, and powers, all subject to Him as Man, a pledge that to us also they shall be subject in due season. Oh, might the mystery of His Incarnation come home to us as befits its glory! Oh, that we might understand what it witnesses of God's purpose touching the sons of men; that He should be our everlasting dwelling-place, and we His temples; that He should be seen in us, and we be hid in Him: And may the word, spoken by angels, "To you is born a Saviour," remove every doubt, if such can yet remain, as to the love of Him who thus loved us. "To you is born a Saviour." It is a birth-relationship, true whether we own and rejoice in it, or put it away from us. We have nothing to do to make Him a Saviour: He is "born a Saviour:" He is a Man, and nothing pertaining to man can now be alien to Him. What should we think of the child, who, when told, "To you is born a brother," should answer, "But what shall I do to make him a brother to me?" The joy is, He is born a Brother, by birth linked to us, that we through grace might henceforth in Spirit be linked with Him. We may indeed deny the bond, and live groaning here as though God had never so loved man as to make him His son in Christ Jesus. We may doubt His love. Nevertheless "to us a Son is born;" and we who have trusted know that through and in Him is perfect peace.
While, therefore, we rejoice to trace the wisdom, seen even in the form of that revelation, which God in His rich grace has given to us, let none be content intellectually to trace this detail, unless with this, from His inmost heart he also embraces Him of whom this Gospel speaks. The wisdom of God in grace as in nature may be coldly contemplated, like any other piece of skill or wondrous workmanship, without a soul-saving and personal appropriation of the grace, which is yet by the understanding discerned so clearly. But, as one has said, "the Gospel has not been revealed that we may have the pleasure of feeling or expressing fine sentiments, but that we may be saved: the taste may receive the impression of the beauty and sublimity of the Bible, and the nervous system may have received the impression of the tenderness of its tone, and yet its meaning, its deliverance, its mystery of holy love, may remain all unknown."
Almighty God, who hast given us Thy Only-begotten Son, to take our nature upon Him, and for us to be born of a pure Virgin, grant that we, being regenerate, and made Thy children by adoption and grace, may daily be renewed by Thy Holy Spirit, through the same our Lord Jesus Christ, who liveth and reigneth with Thee, and the same Spirit, ever one God, world without end. Amen.
Table of Contents Chapter 5 Home The Writings of Andrew Jukes