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12. Warnings and Encouragement
1In the mean time, when the many thousands of the multitude were gathered together, insomuch that they trod one upon another, he began to say unto his disciples first of all, Beware ye of the leaven of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy. 2But there is nothing covered up, that shall not be revealed; and hid, that shall not be known. 3Wherefore whatsoever ye have said in the darkness shall be heard in the light; and what ye have spoken in the ear in the inner chambers shall be proclaimed upon the housetops. 4And I say unto you my friends, Be not afraid of them that kill the body, and after that have no more that they can do. 5But I will warn you whom ye shall fear: Fear him, who after he hath killed hath power to cast into hell; yea, I say unto you, Fear him. 6Are not five sparrows sold for two pence? and not one of them is forgotten in the sight of God. 7But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not: ye are of more value than many sparrows. 8And I say unto you, Every one who shall confess me before men, him shall the Son of man also confess before the angels of God: 9but he that denieth me in the presence of men shall be denied in the presence of the angels of God. 10And every one who shall speak a word against the Son of man, it shall be forgiven him: but unto him that blasphemeth against the Holy Spirit it shall not be forgiven. 11And when they bring you before the synagogues, and the rulers, and the authorities, be not anxious how or what ye shall answer, or what ye shall say: 12for the Holy Spirit shall teach you in that very hour what ye ought to say. 13And one out of the multitude said unto him, Teacher, bid my brother divide the inheritance with me. 14But he said unto him, Man, who made me a judge or a divider over you? 15And he said unto them, Take heed, and keep yourselves from all covetousness: for a man's life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth. 16And he spake a parable unto them, saying, The ground of a certain rich man brought forth plentifully: 17and he reasoned within himself, saying, What shall I do, because I have not where to bestow my fruits? 18And he said, This will I do: I will pull down my barns, and build greater; and there will I bestow all my grain and my goods. 19And I will say to my soul, Soul, thou hast much goods laid up for many years; take thine ease, eat, drink, be merry. 20But God said unto him, Thou foolish one, this night is thy soul required of thee; and the things which thou hast prepared, whose shall they be? 21So is he that layeth up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God. 22And he said unto his disciples, Therefore I say unto you, Be not anxious for your life, what ye shall eat; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. 23For the life is more than the food, and the body than the raiment. 24Consider the ravens, that they sow not, neither reap; which have no store-chamber nor barn; and God feedeth them: of how much more value are ye than the birds! 25And which of you by being anxious can add a cubit unto the measure of his life? 26If then ye are not able to do even that which is least, why are ye anxious concerning the rest? 27Consider the lilies, how they grow: they toil not, neither do they spin; yet I say unto you, Even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. 28But if God doth so clothe the grass in the field, which to-day is, and to-morrow is cast into the oven; how much more shall he clothe you, O ye of little faith? 29And seek not ye what ye shall eat, and what ye shall drink, neither be ye of doubtful mind. 30For all these things do the nations of the world seek after: but your Father knoweth that ye have need of these things. 31Yet seek ye his kingdom, and these things shall be added unto you. 32Fear not, little flock; for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom. 33Sell that which ye have, and give alms; make for yourselves purses which wax not old, a treasure in the heavens that faileth not, where no thief draweth near, neither moth destroyeth. 34For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also. 35Let your loins be girded about, and your lamps burning; 36and be ye yourselves like unto men looking for their lord, when he shall return from the marriage feast; that, when he cometh and knocketh, they may straightway open unto him. 37Blessed are those servants, whom the lord when he cometh shall find watching: verily I say unto you, that he shall gird himself, and make them sit down to meat, and shall come and serve them. 38And if he shall come in the second watch, and if in the third, and find them so blessed are those servants. 39But know this, that if the master of the house had known in what hour the thief was coming, he would have watched, and not have left his house to be broken through. 40Be ye also ready: for in an hour that ye think not the Son of man cometh. 41And Peter said, Lord, speakest thou this parable unto us, or even unto all? 42And the Lord said, Who then is the faithful and wise steward, whom his lord shall set over his household, to give them their portion of food in due season? 43Blessed is that servant, whom his lord when he cometh shall find so doing. 44Of a truth I say unto you, that he will set him over all that he hath. 45But if that servant shall say in his heart, My lord delayeth his coming; and shall begin to beat the menservants and the maidservants, and to eat and drink, and to be drunken; 46the lord of that servant shall come in a day when he expecteth not, and in an hour when he knoweth not, and shall cut him asunder, and appoint his portion with the unfaithful. 47And that servant, who knew his lord's will, and made not ready, nor did according to his will, shall be beaten with many stripes; 48but he that knew not, and did things worthy of stripes, shall be beaten with few stripes. And to whomsoever much is given, of him shall much be required: and to whom they commit much, of him will they ask the more. 49I came to cast fire upon the earth; and what do I desire, if it is already kindled? 50But I have a baptism to be baptized with; and how am I straitened till it be accomplished! 51Think ye that I am come to give peace in the earth? I tell you, Nay; but rather division: 52for there shall be from henceforth five in one house divided, three against two, and two against three. 53They shall be divided, father against son, and son against father; mother against daughter, and daughter against her mother; mother in law against her daughter in law, and daughter in law against her mother in law. 54And he said to the multitudes also, When ye see a cloud rising in the west, straightway ye say, There cometh a shower; and so it cometh to pass. 55And when ye see a south wind blowing, ye say, There will be a scorching heat; and it cometh to pass. 56Ye hypocrites, ye know how to interpret the face of the earth and the heaven; but how is it that ye know not how to interpret this time? 57And why even of yourselves judge ye not what is right? 58For as thou art going with thine adversary before the magistrate, on the way give diligence to be quit of him; lest haply he drag thee unto the judge, and the judge shall deliver thee to the officer, and the officer shall cast thee into prison. 59I say unto thee, Thou shalt by no means come out thence, till thou have paid the very last mite.
49. I am come to send fire on the earth. From these concluding words it may easily be inferred, that this was one of Christ’s latest discourses, and is not related by Luke at the proper place. But the meaning is, that Christ has introduced into the world the utmost confusion, as if he had intended to mingle heaven and earth. The gospel is metaphorically compared to fire, because it violently changes the face of things. The disciples having falsely imagined that, while they were at ease and asleep, the kingdom of God would come, Christ declares, on the contrary, that there must first be a dreadful conflagration to kindle the world. And as some beginnings of it were even then making their appearance, Christ encourages the disciples by this very consideration, that they already feel the power of the gospel. “When great commotions,” says he, “shall already begin to kindle, this is so far from being a reason why you should tremble, that it is rather a ground of strong confidence; and, for my own part, I rejoice that this fruit of my labors is visible.” In like manner, all the ministers of the gospel ought to apply this to themselves, that, when there are troubles in the world, they may be more diligently employed in their duty. It is proper to observe, also, that the same fire of doctrine, when it burns on all sides, consumes chaff and straw, but purifies silver and gold.
50. But I have a baptism to be baptized with. By these words our Lord asserts that there remains nothing but his last act, that by his death he may consecrate the renovation of the world. For since the shaking which he mentioned was appalling, and since that conflagration of the human race was terrific, he is about to show that the first-fruits must be offered in his own person, after which the disciples ought not to be displeased at feeling some portion of it. He compares death—as in other passages—to baptism, (Romans 6:4,) because the children of God, after having been immersed for a time by the death of the body, shortly afterwards rise again to life, so that death is nothing else than a passage through the midst of the waters. He says that he is sorely pressed till that baptism has been accomplished, that he may encourage every one of us, by his example, both to bear the cross and to prefer death. Not that any man can have a natural preference for death, or for any abatement of present happiness, but because, when we contemplate on the farther bank the glory, and the blessed and immortal rest of heaven, we not only suffer death with patience, but are even carried forward by eager desire where faith and hope lead us.
Luke 12:51. Do you suppose that I came to send peace on the earth? What Christ has now demanded from his disciples any one of them would reckon it an easy matter to give, if the whole world, with one consent, embraced the doctrine of the Gospel. But as a considerable part of the world not only opposes but fights keenly against it, we cannot confess Christ without encountering the resistance and hatred of many. Christ therefore warns his followers to prepare for battle, for they must necessarily fight for the testimony of truth. And here he meets two stumbling-blocks, which otherwise would greatly have distressed weak minds. The prophets everywhere promise that there will be peace and tranquillity under the reign of Christ. What then were his disciples entitled to expect but that, wherever they went, all would instantly be at peace? Now as Christ is called our peace, (Ephesians 2:14,) and as the Gospel reconciles us to God, it follows, that he also establishes a brotherly harmony amongst us. The kindling of wars and contentions in the world where the Gospel is preached, does not seem to agree with the predictions of the prophets, and still less with the office of Christ, and with the nature of the Gospel.
But that peace which the prophets describe in lofty terms, is associated with faith, and has no existence but among the sincere worshippers of God, and in the consciences of the godly. To unbelievers it does not come, though it is offered to them; nay, they cannot endure to be reconciled to God: and the consequence is, that the message of peace excites in them a greater tumult than before. As Satan, who holds a kingly power over the reprobate, is furious against the name of Christ, as soon as the doctrine of the Gospel is proclaimed to them, their impiety, which formerly lay asleep, acquires fresh vigor. Thus Christ, who properly speaking, is the author of peace, becomes the occasion of disturbances in consequence of the wickedness of men.
Let us hence learn how great is the depravity of corrupt nature, which not only soils a gift so inestimable, but changes it into a most destructive evil. Meanwhile, if tumults arise at the commencement of the reign of Christ, let us not be alarmed at it, as if it were strange or unusual: for he compares his Gospel to a sword, and says that it is διαμερισμὸς, separation Some think that this is intended to describe the punishment which was inflicted on the despisers of the Gospel, by their rising in hostility against each other. But the context shows, that Christ is here exhorting his disciples to perseverance, though a good part of the world should be at variance with them, and though their voice should be like a war-trumpet to call innumerable enemies to arms.