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The disciples thought that the divorcing a wife when there was & quarrelsome disposition, or any thing else that rendered the marriage unhappy, was a great privilege.
11 But he said unto them, All men cannot receive this saying, save they to whom it is given.
'This saying' evidently means what the disciples had just said, that it was good for a man not to marry. It might be good in certain circumstances, in times of persecution and trial, or for the sake of labouring in the cause of religion, without the care and burden of a family; but it was not given to all men, 1 Cor. vii. 1, 7, 9, 26.
12 For there are some eunuchs, which were so born from their mother's womb: and there are some eunuchs, which were made eunuchs of men: and there be eunuchs, which have made themselves eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven's sake. He that is able to receive it, let him receive it.
Jesus proceeds to state that there were some who were able to receive that saying, and to remain in an unmarried state; and some who voluntarily abstained from marriage for the kingdom of heaven's sake-that is, that they might devote themselves entirely to the proper business of religion. In eastern countries, eunuchs rose often to distinction, and held important offices in the state, Acts viii. 27.
13 Then were there brought unto him little children, that he should put his hands on them, and pray : and the disciples rebuked them.
'Then were brought little children.' See also Mark x. 13-16. Luke xviii. 15-17. Luke says they were infants. They were those who were not old enough to come by choice, but their coming was an act of the parents. 'Put his hands on them and pray.' It was customary among the Jews, when blessings were sought by others in prayer, to lay the hands on the head of the person prayed for, implying a kind of consecration to God. See Gen. xlviii. 14. Matt. ix. 18. 'The disciples rebuked them.' That is, reproved them, or told them it was improper. They thought that it would be troublesome to their master.
14 But Jesus said, Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven.
'Jesus said, Suffer little children,' &c. much displeased at what the disciples said.
Mark adds, he was
gratifying to him, and a case where it was very improper that they should interfere. Of such is the kingdom of heaven,' In Mark and Luke it is said he immediately added, 'Whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child, shall not enter therein.' Whosoever shall not be humble, unambitious, and docile, shall not be a true follower of Christ, or a member of his kingdom. Of such as these'-that is, of persons with such tempers as these is the church to be composed.
15 And he laid his hands on them, and departed thence.
Mark says he blessed them. That is, he pronounced or prayed for a blessing on them.
16 ¶ And, behold, one came and said unto him, Good Master, what good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life?
This account is found also in Mark x. 17-31. Luke xviii. 1830. 'One came.' This was a young man, ver. 20. He was a ruler; (Luke;) probably a ruler in a synagogue, or of the great council of the nation. He came running, (Mark,) evincing great earnestness and anxiety. He fell upon his knees, (Mark,) to pay the customary respectful salutation; exhibiting the highest regard for Jesus as an extraordinary religious teacher. 'Good Master.' The word 'good' here means, doubtless, most excellent; referring not so much to the moral character of Jesus as to his character as a religious teacher. The word 'master' here means teacher. 'What good thing shall I do?" He had attempted to keep all the commandments. He had been taught by his Jewish teachers that men were to be saved by their works; and he supposed that this was to be the way under every system of religion. The happiness of heaven is called life, in opposition to the pains of hell, called death, or an eternal dying, Rev. ii. 2; xx. 14. The one is real life, answering the purposes of living-living to the honour of God, and in eternal happiness; the other is a failure of the great ends of existence-prolonged, eternal suffering-of which temporal death is but the feeble image.
17 And he said unto him, Why callest thou me good? there is none good but one, that is, God: but if thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments. 'Why callest thou me good? Why do you give to me a title that belongs only to God? You suppose me to be only a man. Yet you give me an appellation that belongs only to God. The habit of using mere titles, and applying as compliments terms belonging only to God, is wrong. Christ did not intend here to disclaim divinity, but simply to reprove the intention and habit of the young man, a foolish habit of compliment and flattery.
'Keep the commandments.' That is, do what God has commanded. Jesus said this, doubtiess, to try him, and to convince him that he had by no means kept the commandments; and that in supposing he had, he was altogether deceived. It was of great importance, therefore, to convince him that he was, after all, a sinner. Christ did not mean to say any man would be saved by the works of the law, for the bible teaches plainly that such will not be the case, Rom. iii. 20-28; iv. 6. Gal. ii. 16. Eph. ii. 9. 2 Tim. i. 9. At the same time, however, it is true that if a man perfectly complied with the requirements of the law, he would be saved; for there would be no reason why he should be condemned. Jesus, therefore, since he saw this man depending on his works, told him that if he would enter life he must keep the commandments; he must keep them perfectly; and if this was done, he would be saved.
18 He saith unto him, Which? Jesus said, Thou shalt do no murder, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness, 19 Honour thy father and thy mother: and, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.
In reply to the inquiry of the young man, Jesus directed him to the sixth, seventh, eighth, ninth, and fifth, Ex. xx. 12-16. as containing the substance of the whole. See notes Matt. v. 2127. To this he added another-the duty of loving our neighbour, Lev. xix. 18. This Christ declared to be the second great commandment of the law, Matt. xxii. 39. 'A neighbour' means any person with whom we have dealing-friend, relative, countryman, or foe, Luke x. 27-37. This commandment means evidently, that we should not injure our neighbour in his person, property, or character; that we should seek to do him good, regarding his interest as much as our own, and not being influenced by a love of self; that in order to benefit him we should practise self-denial, or do as we would wish him to do to us, Matt. vii. 12. It does not mean, that love of ourselves, according to what we are, or according to truth, is improper. A man's own happiness is of as much importance as that of any others; and it is as proper that it should be sought. Neither does it mean that he is to neglect his own business to take care of his neighbours. His happiness, salvation, health, and family are peculiarly his care; and provided ne does not interfere with his neighbour's rights, or violate his obligations to him, it is his duty to seek the welfare of his own as his first duty, 1 Tim. v. 8, 13. Titus ii. 5.
20 The young man saith unto him, All these things have I kept from my youth up: what lack I yet?
I have made these the rule of my life. I have endeavoured to
obey them. Are there any new commandments to be kept? Do you, the Messiah, teach any new commands, besides those which I have learned from the law, and from the Jewish teachers ?
21 Jesus said unto him, If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come and follow me.
The word 'perfect' means complete in all its parts-finished, having no part wanting, &c. Job was said to be perfect, Job. i. 1; not that he was sinless, for he is afterwards reproved by God himself, Job xxxviii. xxxix. xl. 4; but because his piety was proportioned, had a completeness of parts. He was a pious father, a pious magistrate, a pious neighbour, a pious citizen. His religion was not confined to one thing, but extended to all. See Matt. v. 48.
Mark says, v. 21, 'Jesus, beholding him, loved him.' He was pleased with his amiableness, his correct character, his ingenuousness. Jesus, as a man, was capable of all the emotions of most tender friendship; his disposition was affectionate, mild, and calm. Hence he loved with peculiar affection the disciple John, eminently endowed with these qualities. And hence he was pleased with the same traits in this young man. Still, there is reason to think the love of mere amiable qualities was all the affection bestowed on him by the Saviour.
'One thing,' adds Mark, thou lackest.' There is one thing wanting. You are not complete. This done, you would show that your obedience lacked no essential part, but was complete, finished, proportionate, perfect. Go and sell that thou hast,' &c. The young man attested that he had kept the law. That law required, among other things, that he should love his neighbour as himself. It required also that he should love the Lord his God supremely; that is, more than all other objects. If he had that true love to God and man, he would be willing to give up his wealth to the service of God and of man. Jesus commanded him to do this, therefore, to test his character, and to show him that he had not kept the law as he pretended; and thus to show him that he needed a better righteousness than his own. "Treasure in heaven.' See note Matt. vi. 20. Follow me.' To follow Jesus, then, meant to be a personal attendant on his ministry; to go about with him from place to place, as well as to imitate and obey
22 But when the young man heard that saying, he went away sorrowful: for he had great possessions.
'He had great possessions.' He was very rich. He made an idol of his riches. He loved them more than God. He had not kept
the commandments from his youth up, nor had he kept them at all. And rather than do good with his treasures, he chose to turn away from the Saviour, and give over his inquiry about eternal life. Alas, how many lovely and amiable young persons follow his example!
23¶ Then said Jesus unto his disciples, Verily I say unto you, That a rich man shall hardly enter into the kingdom of heaven.
'Shall hardly enter into the kingdom of heaven.' Shall with difficulty be saved. His temptations and idols will prove great obstacles in his way, and to overcome them will be a most arduous work.
24 And again I say unto you, It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God. 25 When his disciples heard it, they were exceedingly amazed, saying, Who then can be saved? 26 But Jesus beheld them, and said unto them, With men this is impossible; but with God all things are possible.
It was a proverb in common use among the Jews, and still common among the Arabians, to denote that a thing was impossible, or exceedingly difficult, to say that a camel or an elephant might as soon walk through a needle's eye. A camel.' A beast of burden, much used in eastern countries. It is about the size of the largest ox, with one or two bunches on his back, with long neck and legs, no horns, and with feet adapted to the hot and dry sand. Camels are capable of carrying heavy burdens; will travel sometimes faster than the fleetest horse; and are provided with a peculiar stomach which they fill with water, by means of which they can live four or five days without drink. They are very mild and tame, and kneel down to receive and unload their burden. They are chiefly used in deserts and hot climates, where other beasts of burden are with difficulty kept alive. 'A rich man.' Mark says, 'them that trust in riches.' While he has this feeling, it is literally impossible that he should be a christian. For religion is the love of God, rather than the world; the love of Jesus and his cause, more than gold. The difficulties in the way of salvation for a rich man are many; riches engross the affections. Men consider wealth as the chief good; and when this is obtained, think they have gained all. They are proud of their wealth, and unwilling to be numbered with the poor and despised followers of Jesus. Riches often produce luxury, and dissipation, and vice, and are frequently obtained by covetousness, fraud, and oppression, 1 Tim. vi. 9, 10, 17. James v. 1—5. Luke