Lu 12:1-12. Warning against
1-3. meantime—in close connection,
probably, with the foregoing scene. Our Lord had been speaking
out more plainly than ever before, as matters were coming to a head
between Him and His enemies, and this seems to have suggested to His
own mind the warning here. He had just Himself illustriously
exemplified His own precepts.
his disciples first of all—afterwards
to "the multitudes" (Lu 12:54).
covered—from the view.
2. hid—from knowledge. "Tis no use
concealing anything, for all will one day come out. Give free and
fearless utterance then to all the truth." (Compare 1Co 4:3, 5).
4, 5. I say, &c.—You will say, That
may cost us our life. Be it so; but, "My friends, there their power
ends." He calls them "my friends" here, not in any loose sense, but, as
we think, from the feeling He then had that in this "killing of the
body" He and they were going to be affectingly one with each
5. Fear Him … Fear Him—how
striking the repetition here! Only the one fear would effectually
expel the other.
after he hath killed, &c.—Learn
here—(1) To play false with one's convictions to save one's life,
may fail of its end after all, for God can inflict a violent death in
some other and equally formidable way. (2) There is a hell, it
seems, for the body as well as the soul; consequently, sufferings
adapted to the one as well as the other. (3) Fear of hell is a
divinely authorized and needed motive of action even to Christ's
"friends." (4) As Christ's meekness and gentleness were not compromised
by such harsh notes as these, so those servants of Christ lack their
Master's spirit who soften down all such language to please ears
"polite." (See on Mr 9:43-48).
6, 7. five … for two farthings—In
10:29 it is "two for one
farthing"; so if one took two farthings' worth, he got one in
addition—of such small value were they.
than many sparrows—not "than millions
of sparrows"; the charm and power of our Lord's teaching is very much
in this simplicity.
8, 9. confess … deny—The point
lies in doing it "before men," because one has to do it "despising the
shame." But when done, the Lord holds Himself bound to repay it
in kind by confessing such "before the angels of God." For the
rest, see on Lu 9:26.
10. Son of man … Holy Ghost—(See
on Mt 12:31, 32).
Lu 12:13-53. Covetousness—Watchfulness—Superiority to Earthly Ties.
13. Master, &c.—that is, "Great
Preacher of righteousness, help; there is need of Thee in this
rapacious world; here am I the victim of injustice, and that from my
own brother, who withholds from me my rightful share of the inheritance
that has fallen to us." In this most inopportune intrusion upon the
solemnities of our Lord's teaching, there is a mixture of the absurd
and the irreverent, the one, however, occasioning the other. The man
had not the least idea that his case was not of as urgent a nature, and
as worthy the attention of our Lord, as anything else He could deal
14. Man, &c.—Contrast this style
of address with "my friends," (Lu 12:4).
who, &c.—a question literally
repudiating the office which Moses assumed (Ex 2:14). The influence of religious teachers
in the external relations of life has ever been immense, when only
the INDIRECT effect of their
teaching; but whenever they intermeddle DIRECTLY with secular and political matters, the
spell of that influence is broken.
15. unto them—the multitude around Him
of covetousness—The best copies have
"all," that is, "every kind of covetousness"; because as this was one
of the more plausible forms of it, so He would strike at once at the
root of the evil.
a man's life, &c.—a singularly
weighty maxim, and not less so because its meaning and its truth are
16-19. a certain rich man, &c.—Why
is this man called a "fool?" (Lu 12:20) (1) Because he deemed a life of secure
and abundant earthly enjoyment the summit of human felicity. (2)
Because, possessing the means of this, through prosperity in his
calling, he flattered himself that he had a long lease of such
enjoyment, and nothing to do but give himself up to it. Nothing else is
laid to his charge.
20, 21. this night, &c.—This sudden
cutting short of his career is designed to express not only the folly
of building securely upon the future, but of throwing one's whole soul
into what may at any moment be gone. "Thy soul shall be required
of thee" is put in opposition to his own treatment of it, "I will say
to my soul, Soul," &c.
whose shall those things be,
&c.—Compare Ps 39:6, "He
heapeth up riches and knoweth not who shall gather them."
21. So is he, &c.—Such is a
picture of his folly here, and of its awful issue.
and is not rich toward God—lives to
amass and enjoy riches which terminate on self, but as to the
riches of God's favor, which is life (Ps 30:5), of "precious" faith (2Pe 1:1; Jas
2:5), of good works (1Ti 6:18), of wisdom which is better than
8:11)—lives and dies
22-31. (See on Mt
25, 26. which of you, &c.—Corroding
solicitude will not bring you the least of the things ye fret about,
though it may double the evil of wanting them. And if not the least,
why vex yourselves about things of more consequence?
29. of doubtful, &c.—unsettled mind;
put off your balance.
32. little flock, &c.—How sublime
and touching a contrast between this tender and pitying appellation,
"Little flock" (in the original a double diminutive, which in German
can be expressed, but not in English)—and the "good pleasure" of
the Father to give them the Kingdom; the one recalling the
insignificance and helplessness of that then literal handful of
disciples, the other holding up to their view the eternal love that
encircled them, the everlasting arms that were underneath them, and the
high inheritance awaiting them!—"the kingdom"; grand word; then
why not "bread" (Lu 12:31
[Bengel]). Well might He say, "Fear
33, 34. Sell, &c.—This is but a more
vivid expression of Mt 6:19-21
(see on Mt 6:19-21).
35-40. loins … girded—to fasten up
the long outer garment, always done before travel and work (2Ki 4:29;
Ac 12:8). The meaning is, Be
lights, &c.—(See on Mt 25:1).
36. return from the wedding—not come to
it, as in the parable of the virgins. Both have their spiritual
significance; but preparedness for Christ's coming is the
37. gird himself, &c.—"a promise the
most august of all: Thus will the Bridegroom entertain his friends
(nay, servants) on the solemn Nuptial Day" [Bengel].
38. second … third watch—To find
them ready to receive Him at any hour of day or night, when one might
least of all expect Him, is peculiarly blessed. A servant may be truly
faithful, even though taken so far unawares that he has not everything
in such order and readiness for his master's return as he thinks
is due to him, and both could and would have had if he had had notice
of the time of his coming, and so may not be willing to open to him
"immediately," but fly to preparation, and let his master knock
again ere he admit him, and even then not with full joy. A too
common case this with Christians. But if the servant have himself and
all under his charge in such a state that at any hour when his master
knocks, he can open to him "immediately," and hail his
"return"—that is the most enviable, "blessed" servant of all.
41-48. unto us or even to all?—us the
Twelve, or all this vast audience?
42. Who then, &c.—answering the
question indirectly by another question, from which they were left to
gather what it would be:—To you certainly in the first instance,
representing the "stewards" of the "household" I am about to collect,
but generally to all "servants" in My house.
faithful and wise—Fidelity is
the first requisite in a servant, wisdom (discretion and
judgment in the exercise of his functions), the next.
steward—house steward, whose it was to
distribute to the servants their allotted portion of food.
shall make—will deem fit to be
44. make him ruler over all he hath—will
advance him to the highest post, referring to the world to come. (See
45. begin to beat, &c.—In the
confidence that his Lord's return will not be speedy, he throws off the
role of servant and plays the master, maltreating those faithful
servants who refuse to join him, seizing on and revelling in the
fulness of his master's board; intending, when he has got his fill, to
resume the mask of fidelity ere his master appear.
46. cut him in sunder—a punishment not
unknown in the East; compare Heb 11:37, "sawn asunder" (1Sa 15:33; Da
the unbelievers—the unfaithful, those
unworthy of trust (Mt 24:51),
"the hypocrites," falsely calling themselves "servants."
48. knew not—that is knew but
partially; for some knowledge is presupposed both in the
name "servant" of Christ, and his being liable to punishment at
many … few stripes—degrees of
future punishment proportioned to the knowledge sinned against. Even
heathens are not without knowledge enough for future judgment; but the
reference here is not to such. It is a solemn truth, and though
general, like all other revelations of the future world,
discloses a tangible and momentous principle in its awards.
49-53. to send—cast.
fire—"the higher spiritual element of
life which Jesus came to introduce into this earth (compare Mt 3:11), with reference to its mighty
effects in quickening all that is akin to it and destroying all that
is opposed. To cause this element of life to take up its abode on
earth, and wholly to pervade human hearts with its warmth, was the
lofty destiny of the Redeemer" [Olshausen: so Calvin,
Stier, Alford, &c.].
what will I, &c.—an obscure
expression, uttered under deep and half-smothered emotion. In its
general import all are agreed; but the nearest to the precise meaning
seems to be, "And what should I have to desire if it were once already
kindled?" [Bengel and Bloomfield].
50. But … a baptism,
&c.—clearly, His own bloody baptism, first to take place.
how … straitened—not, "how do I
long for its accomplishment," as many understand it, thus making it but
a repetition of Lu 12:49;
but "what a pressure of spirit is upon Me."
till it be accomplished—till it be
over. Before a promiscuous audience, such obscure language was fit on a
theme like this; but oh, what surges of mysterious emotion in the view
of what was now so near at hand does it reveal!
51. peace … ? Nay, &c.—the
reverse of peace, in the first instance. (See on Mt 10:34-36.) The connection of all this with the
foregoing warnings about hypocrisy, covetousness, and watchfulness, is
deeply solemn: "My conflict hasten apace; Mine over, yours begins; and
then, let the servants tread in their Master's steps, uttering their
testimony entire and fearless, neither loving nor dreading the world,
anticipating awful wrenches of the dearest ties in life, but looking
forward, as I do, to the completion of their testimony, when, reaching
the haven after the tempest, they shall enter into the joy of their
Lu 12:54-59. Not Discerning
the Signs of the Time.
54. to the people—"the multitude," a
word of special warning to the thoughtless crowd, before dismissing
them. (See on Mt 16:2, 3).
56. how … not discern,
&c.—unable to perceive what a critical period that was for
the Jewish Church.
57. why even of yourselves, &c.—They
might say, To do this requires more knowledge of Scripture and
providence than we possess; but He sends them to their own conscience,
as enough to show them who He was, and win them to immediate
58. When thou goest, &c.—(See on Mt 5:25, 26). The urgency of the case with them,
and the necessity, for their own safety, of immediate decision, was
the object of these striking words.