A Lesson in Prayer. Luke 11, 1-13.
The Lord's Prayer: V. 1. And it came to pass that, as He was praying in a certain place, when He ceased, one of His disciples said unto Him, Lord, teach us to pray as John also taught his disciples. V. 2. And He said unto them, When ye pray, say, Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be Thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done, as in heaven, so in earth. V. 3. Give us day by day our daily bread. V. 4. And forgive us our sins; for we also forgive every one that is indebted to us. And lead us not into temptation; but deliver us from evil. The habit of Jesus of resorting to prayer as often as possible, but especially at times of great stress and menacing trouble, was well known to the disciples; but one of them at least had occasion also to be convinced of the power and fervency of His prayer. When Jesus, therefore, upon that occasion, had ceased praying, this disciple, one of the later ones, that had not heard the Sermon on the Mount, stated a request to the Master that He teach them to pray, just as John the Baptist had given his disciples such lessons. The questioner had probably been one of John's disciples, hut had now finally been persuaded to follow Jesus. The Lord gladly yields to the wish and repeats, in a somewhat briefer form, what He had taught before. Cp. Matt. 6, 9-13. As Father we address God: He is the Father of all created beings; they are His by virtue of His creation and His providence; but Father of the believers in a special sense, through the redemption and merits of Jesus Christ, Gal. 3, 26; 4, 6; 1 John 3,1. 2. His name, His Word, everything that in any way designates and describes His essence, shall be hallowed, not by being made holy, but by being kept untarnished, unblemished, before the world. The believers pray earnestly for power so to live from day to day, so to comport themselves, that the name of God may be praised and honored throughout the world and not in any way dishonored or blasphemed, Rom. 2, 24. His kingdom should come -- to us, by the fact of His keeping us in His Word and faith at all times; to all other people on earth, through the preaching of the glorious news of salvation in all the world. His will should be done. With the same willingness and eagerness as the angels in heaven delight in doing God's will, so glad should we be found to carry out all His precepts. At the same time we pray for patient submission, if the will of the heavenly Father should find it necessary to lay a cross upon us. He will carry out His good and gracious will against all the attempts of the enemies to frustrate the designs of mercy toward us. The bread of and for the day we ask of the Lord, enough to last us till the next morning, that we may not be concerned and worry about the things of this body and life. For the forgiveness of our sins, the greatest spiritual gift, we pray, promising incidentally to forgive every one that offends us, since the small debts of our fellow-men cannot even come into consideration in comparison with the immense debt of our trespasses against God. We pray that He would not lead us into temptation, not permit our enemies to place traps for our unwary feet, to guard and keep us, that the devil, the world, and our own flesh may not deceive us, nor seduce us into misbelief, despair, and other great shame and vice, as Luther explains. Rather do we ask of Him and hope to receive this by faith, that God would deliver us from the devil and every evil which that evil spirit and most dangerous enemy may devise against us. The disciples of Christ of all times, who ought to be instant and expert in prayer, are still very sluggish, weak, and forgetful in spiritual things; they must always learn over again what they have once learned, they must be taught day by day what and how they should pray.
The importunity of prayer: V. 5. And He said unto them, Which of you shall have a friend, and shall go unto him at midnight, and say unto him, Friend, lend me three loaves, v. 6. for a friend of mine in his journey is come to me, and I have nothing to set before him; v. 7. and he from within shall answer and say, Trouble me not; the door is now shut, and my children are with me in bed; I cannot rise and give thee? V. 8. I say unto you, Though he will not rise and give him because he is his friend, yet because of his importunity he will rise and give him as many as he needeth. V. 9. And I say unto you, Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you. V. 10. For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened. An effective admonition to be instant and persistent in prayer. Note the vividness, but also the chasteness of the narrative: The friend, presuming upon the rights of friendship ; the midnight call; the urgent pleading for three loaves of bread to set a meal before an unexpected guest; the displeasure of the other at the disturbance and his unwillingness to disturb the children that shared the same room with him; his pleading inconvenience and grumbling over the matter, protesting that he cannot fulfill his request. All this is true to life. But just as true to average experience is the final yielding of the housefather, not so much on account of the demands of friendship as for the purpose of quieting the importunate disturber. The picture is strongly drawn, and purposely so, on account of the lesson the Lord wishes to convey. The importunity of the Christian's prayer must verge on impudence; it must be characterized by an unwearied perseverance, by an endurance which refuses to be discouraged, by a shameless disregard of God's apparent indifference. There is a climax in Christ's admonition. The asking must be followed by an earnest seeking, and this eager searching by persistent knocking at the door of God's heart. The result must finally be that the pleader will see his petition fulfilled; the searcher will find his quest rewarded; he whose knocking reverberates through the house again and again will find the doors opened unto him. This is the holy importunity of prayer which Jesus here recommends to us, enjoins upon us; for it is a praying, an urging, a storming which comes out of faith and therefore cannot fail of its object. "If even a man that loves his night's rest more than his friend can be moved to yield, since he cannot sleep on account of the importunate pleading: how much more the best Friend in heaven, who is all love toward His friends on earth ?" 67)
A further admonition: V. 11. If a son shall ask bread of any of you that is a father, will he give him. a stone? Or if he ask a fish, will he for a fish give him a serpent? V. 12. Or if he shall ask an egg, will he offer him a scorpion? V. 13. If ye, then, being evil, know how to give good, gifts unto your children, how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask Him! Jesus draws a final lesson from the love which parents bear to their children. Whom of you, being a father, shall his son ask for bread, -- surely he will not give him a stone! Or also a fish, -- surely he will not give him, instead of the fish, a serpent! Or also an egg, -- surely he will not give a scorpion (the latter being a lobsterlike animal lurking in stone walls). A parent that would act as Jesus describes would be inhuman. No normal, sane father would be capable of such cruelty. And now Jesus makes the conclusion from the smaller to the greater. If human parents, whose disposition of heart is by nature evil, will show so much affection toward their children, surely the Father from heaven, in His merciful goodness and grace, will give the Holy Ghost, the highest and most wonderful gift from above, the gift which includes all other spiritual gifts, to them that ask Him! God wants the Christians to pray, and He intends to give them the spiritual gifts which they have need of without condition. But He insists upon being asked, lest the gifts lose their value in the eyes of men, and lest the Christians become careless about working out their own salvation with fear and trembling. He does not force His gifts upon unwilling and indifferent hearts.
Christ Casts Out a Devil and Rebukes the Pharisees. Luke 11, 14-28.
The miracle and its effect: V. 14. And He was casting out a devil, and it was dumb. And it came to pass, when the devil was gone out, the dumb spake; and the people wondered. V. 15. But some of them said, He casteth out devils through Beelzebub, the chief of the devils. V. 16. And others, tempting Him, sought of Him a sign from, heaven. Luke makes the historical setting of this story very meager, stating merely the fact that Jesus cast out a demon that was dumb, but omitting to mention the Pharisees and scribes, since his readers would not have known what these persons represented in this connection. The evangelist's purpose is to bring out the words of Jesus upon this occasion. Three classes of people are mentioned as being influenced by the miracle of casting out the demon. The great majority of the common people wondered; that was their usual status after some extraordinary proof of Christ's power. Had they but searched the Scriptures and believed what Jesus said of Himself, their astonishment might have had some value. Their direct descendants are the modern persons that want to bear the Christian name, that marvel at the beauty and power of the Gospel, but are not interested in its deeper meaning, in the salvation of their souls. The second class was much smaller. It was recruited from the ranks of the Pharisees, and their feeling toward Christ was that of implacable, malignant hatred. Sneeringly they remarked that in and through the power of Beelzebub (the god of flies) or Beelzebul (the god of dung), the prince and foremost of the demons, He cast out the demons. That was infamous, base slander, against their own knowledge and conviction. And the third class, agreeing with, the second in their hatred of Jesus, tempted Him, tried to draw Him on, sought a sign from heaven from Him, as though the many signs and wonders which had been done before the people were not sufficient evidence of the Lord's divine mission. To this day the enemies of the Lord resort to lies and slanders to harm the work of the Gospel; their object is to suppress the truth at all costs.
Christ's defense: V. 17. But He, knowing their thoughts, said unto them, Every kingdom divided against Itself is brought to desolation; and a house divided against a house falleth. V. 18. If Satan also be divided against himself, how shall his kingdom stand? Because ye say that I cast out devils through Beelzebub. V. 19. But if I by Beelzebub cast out devils, by whom do your sons cast them out? Therefore shall they be your judges. V. 20. But if I with the finger of God cast out devils, no doubt the kingdom of God is come upon you. V. 21. When a strong man armed keepeth his palace, his goods are in peace; v. 22. but when a stronger than he shall come upon him and overcome him, he taketh from him all his armor wherein he trusted, and divideth his spoils. V. 23. He that is not with Me is against Me; and he that gathereth not with Me scattereth. Cp. Matt. 12, 25-30; Mark 3, 23-27. Jesus, by His divine omniscience, knew the thoughts of His enemies, even though He did not hear them, and proceeds to give them a line of argument that leaves them and their slanderous blasphemy in well-deserved disgrace. Every kingdom that is divided against itself is destroyed: the natural result of revolution is dissolution. And, under those circumstances, one house will fall against the next, one tumbling house knocking down its neighbor, and so everything be drawn into the general desolation. This fact being universally acknowledged as in harmony with the experience of mankind, the application to the present situation is easily made. If Jesus be in league with the prince of the devils, and yet cast out devils to their own harm and disgrace, then it follows that there is a division in the kingdom of the devil, and how will his kingdom then stand? Then there is another argument. If that accusation were true and the power of Jesus over the demons were derived from Satan, how were they going to explain the fact that their own sons, their disciples, were acting as exorcists, going about through the country and attempting to cast out devils? Cp. Acts 19, 13. 14. By insisting upon their explanation of Christ's ability, they were condemning themselves, their own disciples becoming their judges. But, on the other hand, if the miracles of casting out devils which Jesus performed were due to the finger of God, the power of God which was necessary in true exorcising, 68) it was an incontrovertible proof that in and with Christ, the Prophet of Nazareth, the kingdom of God had reached them, come upon them. In His person and in His message they had the means of obtaining everlasting life if they would but accept the grace of God. In a kindly, but comprehensive way Jesus now tries to show His audience what His coming into the world signified and included, so far as the rule of Satan was concerned. The latter, indeed, was a strong and mighty spirit, and was at all times fully armed, guarding his court, his palace, his castle, with all his power. For he is the prince of this world and has his work in the children of unbelief. And up till now he had held his own in peace, without any trouble to speak of; all his subjects had been willing and obedient. But now the Stronger one had come, in the person of Jesus of Nazareth, the promised Messiah. He came upon the devil and vanquished him. And not only that, but He reduced him to utter subjection and helplessness by taking from him his panoply, his armor, his practically unlimited power in which he placed his trust, and dividing the spoils among His own followers, Col. 2, 15. But these spoils, victory over death and the devil, belong only to such as have chosen this Champion as their own Lord; for those that are not with Christ, on His side, taking His part at all times, are against Him and must be reckoned with His enemies; and he that is not working with Him in every respect must be considered as belonging to those that disperse and scatter the fruit of His ministry and labor.
An impressive warning: V. 24. When the unclean spirit is gone out of a man, he walketh through dry places, seeking rest; and finding none, he saith, I will return unto my house whence I came out. V. 25. And when, he cometh, he findeth it swept and garnished. V. 26. Then goeth he and taketh to him seven other spirits more wicked than himself; and they enter in and dwell there; and the last state of that man is worse than the first. We have here an exact and fitting description of the average "sawdust trail" and "New Year's reformation" and its results, where resolutions are made under the influence of a temporary fear or an attack of civic righteousness, without the power of God in the Gospel. It was even thus with many of the Pharisees, with their outward righteousness and their inward filthiness. By a proud resolution they banished forever, as they thought, some special vice which had ruled them, intemperance, uncleanness, blasphemy. And the banished spirit found no congenial company, finally deciding, therefore, to return to his former home. Cp. Matt. 12, 43-45. In the mean time the proud maker of resolutions has long ago regretted the hasty words, and when the spirit of his favorite vice returns, the house of that person's heart is fully swept and ornamented for his reception. In great glee will such a spirit then go out and hunt companions, more wicked than himself, for now there is little danger of a second banishment. And thus it happens that the last state of that person is worse than the first. It is only by understanding the nature of sin and transgression as an offense against God that repentance can be worked; and it is only through the power of God in the Gospel that a change of heart can truly occur and remain permanent.
A woman's judgment of Christ: V. 27. And it came to pass, as He spake these things, a certain woman of the company lifted up her voice and said unto Him, Blessed is the womb that bare Thee, and the paps which Thou hast sucked. V. 28. But He said, Yea, rather, blessed are they that hear the Word of God and keep it. The words of Christ may not have had much influence upon the hard-hearted Pharisees, but they certainly did make a deep impression upon an, certain woman in the crowd. Raising her voice, she called out, calling the mother that had borne and nourished such a Son happy and blessed. She thought and spoke like a mother, and one that would have counted herself lucky in having such a Son. But Jesus corrected her. True happiness, true blessedness, has a different basis a different reason. Rather let this be known and acted upon, that they that hear the Word of God and keep it are the truly blessed. Hearing alone is not sufficient, as He has shown in the Parable of the Fourfold Soil, but to this must be added the observing and keeping of the Word and the bringing forth of fruit in accordance with their profession. "Therefore let us thank God for such grace that to aid us He sent His Son against the devil to cast him out, and left His Word with us, through which to this day such work is carried on, the kingdom of the devil destroyed, and the kingdom of God is established and increased." 69)
A Warning to the Jews. Luke 11, 29-36.
V. 29. And when the people were gathered thick together, He began to say, This is an evil generation; they seek a sign, and there shall no sign be given it but the sign of Jonas the Prophet. V. 30. For as Jonas was a sign unto the Ninevites, so shall also the Son of Man be to this generation. V. 31. The queen of the South shall rise up in the Judgment with the men of this generation and condemn them; for she came from the utmost parts of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon; and, behold, a greater than Solomon is here. V. 32. The men of Nineveh shall rise up in the Judgment with this generation and shall condemn it; for they repented at the preaching of Jonas; and, behold, a greater than Jonas is here. The altercation with the Pharisees and scribes after the healing of the dumb demoniac had drawn a large crowd, and, as always under such circumstances, the crowd was quickly augmented and enlarged. And so Jesus took the opportunity of speaking to them all, taking His cue from the request that some of them wanted to see a sign from heaven. The entire generation, the whole race of the people that were here represented, were evil, wicked, far from knowing wherein true morality consists. They sought a sign, but they should not receive any in the sense which they had in mind. Only the sign of the Prophet Jonah would be set before them, just as the sign of the brazen serpent was placed before the children of Israel in the wilderness. The resurrection of Jesus is the one great sign from heaven before the people of all times. Cp. Matt. 12, 38-42. Altogether, in his whole ministry, Jonah had been a sign to the inhabitants of Nineveh, as a preacher of righteousness unto salvation. And so Jesus was a sign to the people of His generation and times, proclaiming before them all the coming of the kingdom of God through faith in His ministry and work. But the results would not even measure up to those of Jonah, a fact which would redound to their own condemnation. For in the Judgment, on the day when God will judge the quick and the dead, the queen of the South, the rich and powerful queen that had come to visit Solomon, would appear with them, as their accuser, before the throne of the Judge. For she, for the sake of hearing the wisdom of a mere man, came from the extreme ends of the earth, 1 Kings 10, 1; but here, in the person of Jesus, stood one that was far greater than the ancient king, whose wisdom was immeasurably greater than that of Solomon. Instead of having people come to Him for the words of eternal life, He was obliged to go out and seek the people. And the queen of Sheba would be joined by the men of Nineveh, who would also arise to condemn this generation on the Bay of Judgment; for when Jonah preached his sermon of repentance to them, they gave heed and turned from the error of their ways. And here, in the person of Jesus, was a greater man than Jonah, Jonah's God and Lord, in fact.
Parabolic warnings: V. 33. No man, when he hath lighted a candle, putteth it in a secret place, neither under a bushel, but on a candlestick, that they which come in may see the light. V. 34. The light of the body is the eye; therefore, when thine eye is single, thy whole body also is full of light; but when thine eye is evil, thy body also is full of darkness. V. 35. Take heed therefore that the light which is in thee be not darkness. V. 36. If thy whole body therefore be full of light, having no part dark, the whole shall be full of light, as when the bright shining of a candle doth give thee light. These proverbial, parabolic sayings of the Lord were favorite remarks of His when He wanted to drive home the great truth of the necessity of harmony between profession and practice of Christian morality. To light a lamp or a light of any kind, and then to place it into a cellar or vault or under a measure, where it cannot be seen and cannot serve as a guide for him that comes into the house, is foolish; for the purpose of the light is not realized. But equally foolish it is for a person professing faith to give no evidence of that faith in outward visible deeds. If there were any present on that day that had gained the conviction of His Messiahship, they should come out boldly for Him and stand up before the whole world.What disastrous results follow the method of being convinced in the heart and yet not daring to confess Christ openly, He shows by a comparison. If the eye of the body, which is its light, is single, healthy, properly fitted for its work, then it severs as the instrument for conveying light to the whole body; but if the eye is evil, unhealthy, not in proper condition, it cannot serve its purpose; and the person possessing such an eye is in darkness though he stand in a flood of sunlight. If then, the light in any person "be darkness, if what he considered to be light be the opposite, then the double darkness of such a person will be appalling. But if the whole body be in bright light and no part in darkness, then the brightness will be like that of lightning. The eye of a Christian is his Christian understanding; it enables the believer to walk in the light of God's Word, makes him ready for every good work. When the light of Christ dwells fully in the heart, it extends its influence to every thought, word, and action, and directs its possessor how he is to comport himself in all places and circumstances. "It is of the utmost importance to have the soul properly influenced by the wisdom that comes down from above. The doctrine that is contrary to the Gospel may say, Ignorance is the mother of devotion; but Christ shows that there can be no devotion without heavenly light. Ignorance is the mother of superstition; but with this the heavenly light has nothing to do." 70)
Woes upon the Pharisees and. Lawyers. Luke 11, 37-54.
The Pharisee's offense: V. 37. And as He spake, a certain Pharisee besought Him to dine with him; and He went in and. sat down to meat. V. 38. And when the Pharisee saw it, he marveled that He had not first washed before dinner. V. 39. And the Lord said unto him, Now do ye Pharisees make clean the outside of the cup and the platter; but your inward part is full of ravening and wickedness. V. 40. Ye fools, did not He that made that which is without make that which is within also? V. 41. But rather give alms of such things as ye have; and, behold, all things are clean unto you. Cp. Matt. 23. While Jesus was still speaking to the people, a Pharisee that may have been desirous of becoming more closely acquainted with Him invited Jesus to take a meal with him, the earlier one of the day. The Lord accepted, went into the house with His host, but purposely omitted the customary washing and sat down at once at the table in the usual recumbent position. The Pharisee was greatly surprised that He had not washed before the meal. Note: Literally, we read that He had not baptized Himself; another bit of evidence that the word "baptize" in the New Testament is not confined to the act of complete immersion. The wonder of the Pharisee may have found its expression in disapproving words as well as in disgusted glances. But Jesus was now ready to teach a lesson, brought on by the circumstances. He said: Ye Pharisees clean the outside of the cup and the platter, but the inside of you is full of robbery and wickedness, thus explaining His figure at once. What was inside the cup and the platter was dishonest, stolen goods. Thus Jesus rebuked the Pharisees because they stressed outside purity, the semblance of great holiness, while their heart was full of every evil thing. This showed their foolishness; for God made both the outside and the inside, and He puts the emphasis upon the right condition of the heart. If they therefore now would give what they had, especially what they had obtained by unjust means, the things which were within the dishes, as alms, then they would straighten out matters again, then everything would be clean. In this way they would show the proper disposition of heart toward Christ and God. It is the peculiarity of all self-righteous hypocrites that they pay much attention to customs and ceremonies, but think lightly of gross sins which pollute heart and mind.
A threefold woe: V. 42. But woe unto you, Pharisees! If or ye tithe mint and rue and all manner of herbs, and pass over judgment and the love of God; these ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone. V. 43. Woe unto you, Pharisees! For ye love the uppermost seats in the synagogs and greetings in the markets. V. 44. Woe unto you., scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For ye are as graves which appear not, and the men that walk over them are not aware of them. The Lord proceeds to characterize Pharisaism by bringing out its most objectionable features. The Pharisees were very careful and scrupulous about paying the tithe of even the smallest vegetable in their gardens, of mint, and rue, and every herb, Num. 28, 21; Deut. 14, 23. But this punctilious care did not extend to the really important virtues in life, to judgment and the love of God. Many Pharisees belonged to the Sanhedrin, the highest ecclesiastical court of the Jews; others to the local court of seven, which was found in every town. There their judgments were often unjust, partial, one-sided. And as they passed by and omitted love and faithfulness toward their neighbor, so they denied love toward God. That is the way of the Pharisees of all times, that they are painstakingly anxious in the smallest, most inconsequential things, but forget virtue and conscience in the great and important things. It is well enough to be conscientious in the little things, it was true enough that they owed that; but they most emphatically should not have left the other undone. Faithfulness in small things, but above all in the important matters of life, is required of all. And even as the Pharisees thus had a false idea of the relation of values, they possessed inordinate ambition. To occupy the seat of the elders, the place of honor in the synagogs; to receive the respectful salutations of the people in the market-places, that was the height of their ambition. And finally, they were characterized by hypocrisy and false sanctity. They were like graves without the distinguishing mark of whitewash, by which a person would be warned not to become unclean in touching them. Thus people came into daily contact with the Pharisees, not recognizing their falseness and hypocrisy, and were contaminated. Such pride, false ambition, and hypocrisy is found in all self-righteous people.
The insulted lawyer: V. 45. Then answered one of the lawyers and said unto Him, Master, thus saying Thou reproachest us also. V. 46. And He said, Woe unto you also, ye lawyers! For ye lade men with burdens grievous to be borne, and ye yourselves touch not the burdens with one of your fingers. V. 47. Woe unto you! For ye build the sepulchers of the prophets, and your fathers killed them. V. 48. Truly ye bear witness that ye allow the deeds of your fathers; for they indeed killed them, and ye build their sepulchers. A certain scribe, one of the teachers of the Law, who was sitting by, felt that the description which Jesus had just given of the Pharisees fitted his own case remarkably well. And so he actually invited the criticism of Jesus upon himself and his fellows by challenging Him at this point. For Christ fearlessly proceeds to say exactly what He thinks of the whole class. These teachers of the Law, in their rules of conduct for the people, weighed them down with heavy, unbearable burdens, with precepts which regulated even the most minute happenings of their daily life, but they themselves did not so much as touch the burdens with one of their fingers, for they knew better and did not care to torture themselves. How well this fits many rules of the Roman Catholic Church! The lawyers also built tombs unto the prophets with the idea of honoring them. But in reality they were continuing the evil work of their fathers. Their forefathers had put more than one of the prophets of old to death, and the present people, in erecting the tombs, agreed with the work of their ancestors. "They killed, you build; worthy sons of such fathers!" The lawyers truly had their fathers' disposition. Outwardly they honored the prophets, insisted upon observing any precept that might be found in any book of the Old Testament, but the prophecy concerning the Messiah they garbled and denied. This feature characterizes the preaching of the false prophets of all times. They refer to the Bible and praise many sections of it highly, but the great central doctrines of Scripture, especially that concerning the justification of a poor sinner through the merits of Jesus, by faith only, that they omit, and they are full of enmity toward the true messengers of the Gospel, persecuting them whenever they have an opportunity.
The last woe and its effect: V. 49. Therefore also said the Wisdom of God, I will send them prophets and apostles, and some of them they shall slay and persecute; v. 50. that the blood of all the prophets which was shed from the foundation of the world may be required of this generation, v. 51. from the blood of Abel unto the blood of Zacharias, which perished between the altar and the Temple. Verily I say unto you, It shall be required of this generation. V. 52. Woe unto you, lawyers! For ye have taken away the key of knowledge; ye entered not in yourselves, and them that were entering in ye hindered. V. 53. And as He said these things unto them, the scribes and the Pharisees began to urge Him vehemently, and to provoke Him to speak of many things, v. 54. laying wait for Him, and seeking to catch something out of His mouth, that they might accuse Him. Jesus here revealed to the lawyers the counsel of God; for He Himself, the personal Wisdom, was the representative of the council of the Trinity. The children had inherited the character, the evil disposition, of their fathers, and therefore the iniquity of the fathers was visited upon the children. The blood of all the righteous people and of all the prophets since the beginning of the world, from the blood of Abel, the son of Adam, to the blood of Zechariah, 2 Chron. 24, 20. 21, would be required at the hands of the present generation. Most solemn and impressive is the prophecy of Jesus, which was fulfilled so terribly in the destruction of the city. The Jews of the time of Jesus had received a greater measure of God's mercy than the Jews of old. They had seen and heard the Messiah Himself, and would have an opportunity to hear also the apostles. But their hatred and bloodthirstiness was even greater than that of their fathers; they utterly despised and rejected God's visitation of grace. What a warning to them that despise the preaching of the Gospel in our days! And still Jesus continues His rebuke. The lawyers had taken away the key of understanding of Scriptures. The words of prophecy concerning the Messiah were so plain that the people might have gained the proper understanding themselves, if they had been permitted to study without hindrance. But here the teachers stepped in with their false, carnal interpretation of the Bible and deprived the people of the knowledge of salvation. They themselves did not enter, and they hindered such as were anxious to enter. How like the sectarian teachers of our days, especially among the Papists!
Small wonder that the scribes and Pharisees began to be very angry at the Lord. Wherever they could, they plied Him with crafty questions, in the hope that He would give ill-considered answers. They were literally lying in wait, assiduously watching every word out of His mouth, in order to find some reason for accusing Him. That is the hatred which the truth, and he that speaks the truth, must expect at all times. The example of Christ is encouraging.
Summary. Jesus gives His disciples a lesson in prayer, casts out a dumb devil, and rebukes the Pharisees, issues a warning to all the Jews, and utters a series of woes against the Pharisees and lawyers.