And it came to pass on the second sabbath after the first, that he went through the corn fields; and his disciples plucked the ears of corn, and did eat, rubbing them in their hands.
Second sabbath after the first - See the notes at Matthew 12:1. This phrase has given great perplexity to commentators. A "literal" translation would be, "on the Sabbath called "second first,"" or second first Sabbath. The word occurs nowhere else. It is therefore exceedingly difficult of interpretation. The most natural and easy explanation is that proposed by Scaliger. The "second day" of the Passover was a great festival, on which the wave-sheaf was offered, Leviticus 23:11. From "that day" they reckoned "seven weeks," or seven "Sabbaths," to the day of Pentecost. The "first" Sabbath after that "second day" was called the "second first," or the first from the second day of the feast. The "second" Sabbath was called the "second second," or the second Sabbath from the second day of the feast; the third the "third second," etc. This day, therefore, on which the Saviour went through the fields, was the first Sabbath that occurred after the second day of the feast.
Rubbing them in their hands - The word "corn" here means wheat or barley, and not maize, as in America. They rubbed it in their hands to separate the grain from the chaff. This was common and allowable. Dr. Thomson ("The Land and the Book," vol. ii. p. 510, 511) says: "I have often seen my muleteers, as we passed along the wheat fields, pluck off ears, rub them in their hands, and eat the grains, unroasted, just as the apostles are said to have done. This also is allowable. The Pharisees did not object to the thing itself, only to the time when it was done. They said it was not lawful to do this on the Sabbath-day. It was work forbidden by those who, through their traditions, had made man for the Sabbath, not the Sabbath for man." So Professor Hackett ("Illustrations of Scripture," p. 176, 177) says: "The incident of plucking the ears of wheat, rubbing out the kernels in their hands, and eating them Luke 6:1, is one which the traveler sees often at present who is in Palestine at the time of the gathering of the harvest. Dr. Robinson relates the following case: 'Our Arabs were an hungered, and, going into the fields, they plucked the ears of grain and did eat, rubbing them in their hands. On being questioned, they said this was an old custom, and no one would speak against it; they were supposed to be hungry, and it was allowed as a charity.' The Pharisees complained of the disciples for violating the Sabbath, and not any rights of property."
And certain of the Pharisees said unto them, Why do ye that which is not lawful to do on the sabbath days?
And Jesus answering them said, Have ye not read so much as this, what David did, when himself was an hungred, and they which were with him;
How he went into the house of God, and did take and eat the shewbread, and gave also to them that were with him; which it is not lawful to eat but for the priests alone?
And he said unto them, That the Son of man is Lord also of the sabbath.
And it came to pass also on another sabbath, that he entered into the synagogue and taught: and there was a man whose right hand was withered.
And the scribes and Pharisees watched him, whether he would heal on the sabbath day; that they might find an accusation against him.
But he knew their thoughts, and said to the man which had the withered hand, Rise up, and stand forth in the midst. And he arose and stood forth.
But he knew there thoughts - He knew their thoughts - their dark, malicious designs - by the question, which they proposed to him, whether it was lawful to heal on the Sabbath-days (Matthew). In "reply" to their question, Jesus asked them whether they would not release a "sheep" on the Sabbath-day if it was fallen into a pit, and also asked "them" whether it was better to do good than to do evil on that day, implying that to "omit" to do "good" was, in fact, doing "evil."
Then said Jesus unto them, I will ask you one thing; Is it lawful on the sabbath days to do good, or to do evil? to save life, or to destroy it?
And looking round about upon them all, he said unto the man, Stretch forth thy hand. And he did so: and his hand was restored whole as the other.
And they were filled with madness; and communed one with another what they might do to Jesus.
Were filled with madness - Probably,
1. Because he had shown his "power" to work a miracle.
2. Because he had shown his power to do it "contrary" to what "they" thought was right.
3. Because by doing it he had shown that he was from "God," and that "they" were therefore "wrong" in their views of the Sabbath. And,
4. Because he had shown no respect "to their views" of what the law of God demanded.
Pride, obstinacy, malice, and disappointed self-confidence were "all" combined, therefore, in producing madness. Nor were they alone. Men are often enraged because others do good in a way which "they" do not approve of. God gives success to others; and because he has not accommodated himself to "their" views of what is right, and done it in the way which "they" would have prescribed, they are enraged, and filled with envy at people more successful than themselves.
Communed one with another - Spoke together, or laid a plan.
And it came to pass in those days, that he went out into a mountain to pray, and continued all night in prayer to God.
And it came to pass in those days - The designation of the time here is very general. It means "about" the time when the events occurred which had been just narrated.
He went out into a mountain - Jesus was accustomed to resort to such places to hold communion with God, Mark 6:46. He did it because it was retired, free from interruption, and fitted by impressiveness and grandeur to raise the thoughts to the God that had formed the high hills and the deep-shaded groves.
And continued all night in prayer to God - There has been a difference of opinion about this passage, whether it means that he spent the night in the act of "praying" to God, or in a "place" of prayer. The Jews had places of prayer, called "oratories," built out of their cities or towns, where they could retire from the bustle of a city and hold communion with God. They were built on the banks of rivers (compare Acts 16:13), in groves, or on hills. They were rude inclosures, made by building a rough wall of stone around a level piece of ground, and capable of accommodating a small number who might resort thither to pray. But the more probable opinion is that he spent the whole night in supplication; for:
1. This is the obvious meaning of the passage.
2. The object for which he went out was "to pray."
3. It was an occasion of great importance. He was about to send out his apostles - to lay the foundation of his religion - and he therefore set apart this time especially to seek the divine blessing.
4. It was no unusual thing for Jesus to spend much time in prayer, and we are not to wonder that he passed an entire night in supplication. If it be asked why Jesus should pray "at all" if he was divine, it may be replied that he was also a "man" - a man subject to the same sufferings as others, and, "as a man," needing the divine blessing. There was no more inconsistency in his "praying" than there was in his "eating." Both were "means" employed for an end, and both were equally consistent with his being divine. But Jesus was also "Mediator," and as such it was proper to seek the divine direction and blessing. In "this" case he has set us an example that we should follow. In great emergencies, when we have important duties, or are about to encounter special difficulties, we should seek the divine blessing and direction by "prayer." We should set apart an unusual portion of time for supplication. Nay, if we pass the "whole night" in prayer, it should not be charged as enthusiasm. Our Saviour did it. Men of the world often pass whole nights in plans of gain or in dissipation, and shall it be esteemed strange that Christians should spend an equal portion of time in the far more important business of religion?
And when it was day, he called unto him his disciples: and of them he chose twelve, whom also he named apostles;
See the notes at Matthew 10:1-4.
Simon, (whom he also named Peter,) and Andrew his brother, James and John, Philip and Bartholomew,
Matthew and Thomas, James the son of Alphaeus, and Simon called Zelotes,
And Judas the brother of James, and Judas Iscariot, which also was the traitor.
And he came down with them, and stood in the plain, and the company of his disciples, and a great multitude of people out of all Judaea and Jerusalem, and from the sea coast of Tyre and Sidon, which came to hear him, and to be healed of their diseases;
And stood in the plain - It is not affirmed, however, that he stood in the plain when he delivered the following discourse. There has been some doubt whether the following discourse is the same as that recorded in Matthew 5; 6; 7, or whether the Saviour "repeated" the substance of that discourse, and that Luke recorded it as he repeated it. The reasons which have led many to suppose that they refer to the same are:
1. That the beginning and the close are alike.
2. That the "substance" of each is the same. And,
On the other hand, "Matthew" says that the sermon was delivered on the "mountain" Matthew 5:1; it is thought to be implied that "Luke" affirms that it was in the "plain." Matthew says that he "sat;" Luke, that he "stood." Yet there is no reason to suppose that there is a difference in the evangelists. Jesus spent the night on the mountain in prayer. In the morning he descended into the open plain and healed many. While there, as Luke says, he "stood" and received those who came to him, and healed their diseases. There is no impropriety in supposing that, being pressed by multitudes, he retired into the mountain again, or to an eminence in the plain, or to the side of the mountain, where the people might be more conveniently arranged and seated to hear him. There he "sat," as recorded by Matthew, and delivered the discourse; for it is to be observed that Luke does "not" say that he delivered the sermon "on the plain," but only that he "healed the sick there."
Tyre and Sidon - See the notes at Matthew 11:21.
And they that were vexed with unclean spirits: and they were healed.
Vexed - The word "vex" with us means to provoke, or irritate by petty provocations. Here it means, however, to "afflict," to "torment" - denoting deep and heavy trials.
Unclean spirits - Demons that were impure and unholy, having a delight in tormenting, and in inflicting painful and loathsome diseases.
And the whole multitude sought to touch him: for there went virtue out of him, and healed them all.
Virtue - Healing power. See the notes at Mark 5:30.
And he lifted up his eyes on his disciples, and said, Blessed be ye poor: for yours is the kingdom of God.
See this passage fully illustrated in the sermon on the mount, in Matthew 5-7.
Blessed are ye that hunger now: for ye shall be filled. Blessed are ye that weep now: for ye shall laugh.
That hunger now - Matthew has it, "that hunger and thirst after righteousness." Matthew has expressed more fully what Luke has briefly, but there is no contradiction.
Blessed are ye, when men shall hate you, and when they shall separate you from their company, and shall reproach you, and cast out your name as evil, for the Son of man's sake.
Rejoice ye in that day, and leap for joy: for, behold, your reward is great in heaven: for in the like manner did their fathers unto the prophets.
But woe unto you that are rich! for ye have received your consolation.
These verses have been omitted by Matthew. They seem to have been spoken to the Pharisees.
Who are rich - In this world's goods. They loved them; they had sought for them; they found their consolation in them. It implies, farther, that they would not seek or receive consolation from the gospel. They were proud, and would not seek it; satisfied, and did not desire it; filled with cares, and had no time or disposition to attend to it. All the consolation which they had reason to expect they had received. Alas! how poor and worthless is such consolation, compared with that which the gospel would give!
Woe unto you that are full! - Not hungry. Satisfied with their wealth, and not feeling their need of anything better than earthly wealth can give. Many, alas! are thus "full." They profess to be satisfied. They desire nothing but wealth, and a sufficiency to satisfy the wants of the body. They have no anxiety for the riches that shall endure forever.
Ye shall hunger - Your property shall be taken away, or you shall see that it is of little value; and then you shall see the need of something better. You shall feel your want and wretchedness, and shall "hunger" for something to satisfy the desires of a dying, sinful soul.
That laugh now - Are happy, or thoughtless, or joyful, or filled with levity.
Shall mourn and weep - The time is coming when you shall sorrow deeply. In sickness, in calamity, in the prospect of death, in the fear of eternity, your laughter shall be turned into sorrow. "There is" a place where you cannot laugh, and there you will see the folly of having passed the "proper time" of preparing for such scenes in levity and folly. Alas! how many thus spend their youth! and how many weep when it is too late! God gives them over, and "laughs" at their "calamity," and mocks when their fear comes, Proverbs 1:26. To be happy in "such scenes," it is necessary to be sober, humble, pious in early life. "Then" we need not weep in the day of calamity; then there will be no terror in death; then there will be nothing to fear in the grave.
Woe unto you that are full! for ye shall hunger. Woe unto you that laugh now! for ye shall mourn and weep.
Woe unto you, when all men shall speak well of you! for so did their fathers to the false prophets.
When all men shall speak well of you - When they shall praise or applaud you. The people of the world will not praise or applaud "my" doctrine; they are "opposed" to it, and therefore, if they speak well of "you" and of "your teachings," it is proof that you do not teach the true doctrine. If you do "not" do this, then there will be woe upon you. If men teach false doctrines for true; if they declare that God has spoken that which he has not spoken, and if they oppose what he "has" delivered, then heavy punishments will await them.
For so did their fathers - The fathers or ancestors of this people; the ancient Jews.
To the false prophets - Men who pretended to be of God - who delivered their "own" doctrines as the truth of God, and who accommodated themselves to the desires of the people. Of this number were the prophets of Baal, the false prophets who appeared in the time of Jeremiah, etc.
But I say unto you which hear, Love your enemies, do good to them which hate you,
See Matthew 5:44-45.
Bless them that curse you, and pray for them which despitefully use you.
And unto him that smiteth thee on the one cheek offer also the other; and him that taketh away thy cloke forbid not to take thy coat also.
See Matthew 5:39-40.
Give to every man that asketh of thee; and of him that taketh away thy goods ask them not again.
See Matthew 5:42.
And as ye would that men should do to you, do ye also to them likewise.
See Matthew 7:12.
For if ye love them which love you, what thank have ye? for sinners also love those that love them.
See Matthew 5:46-48.
And if ye do good to them which do good to you, what thank have ye? for sinners also do even the same.
And if ye lend to them of whom ye hope to receive, what thank have ye? for sinners also lend to sinners, to receive as much again.
But love ye your enemies, and do good, and lend, hoping for nothing again; and your reward shall be great, and ye shall be the children of the Highest: for he is kind unto the unthankful and to the evil.
Be ye therefore merciful, as your Father also is merciful.
Judge not, and ye shall not be judged: condemn not, and ye shall not be condemned: forgive, and ye shall be forgiven:
See Matthew 7:1-9.
Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again.
Good measure - They shall give you good measure, or "full" measure.
Pressed down - As figs or grapes might be, and thus many more might be put into the measure.
Shaken together - To make it more compact, and thus to give more.
Running over - So full that the measure would overflow.
Shall men give - This is said to be the reward of "giving" to the poor and needy; and the meaning is that the man who is liberal will find others liberal to him in dealing with them, and when he is also in circumstances of want. A man who is himself kind to the poor - who has that "character" established - will find many who are ready to help "him" abundantly when he is in want. He that is parsimonious, close, niggardly, will find few or none who will aid him.
Into your bosom - That is, to you. The word "bosom" here has reference to a custom among Oriental nations of making the bosom or front part of their garments large, so that articles could be carried in them, answering the purpose of our pockets. Compare Exodus 4:6-7; Proverbs 6:27; Ruth 3:15.
And he spake a parable unto them, Can the blind lead the blind? shall they not both fall into the ditch?
A parable - A proverb or similitude.
Can the blind lead the blind? - See the notes at Matthew 15:14.
The disciple is not above his master: but every one that is perfect shall be as his master.
The disciple is not ... - The learner is not above his teacher, does not know more, and must expect to fare no better. This seems to have been spoken to show them that they were not to expect that their disciples would go "beyond them" in attainments; that if they were blind, their followers would be also; and that therefore it was important for them to understand fully the doctrines of the gospel, and not to be blind leaders of the blind.
Every one that is perfect - The word rendered "is perfect" means sometimes to repair or mend, and is thus applied to mending nets, Matthew 4:21; Mark 1:19. Hence, it means to repair or amend in a moral sense, or to make whole or complete. Here it means, evidently, "thoroughly instructed" or "informed." The Christian should be like his Master - holy, harmless, and undefiled, and separate from sinners. He should copy his example, and grow into the likeness of his Redeemer. Nor can any other be a Christian.
And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother's eye, but perceivest not the beam that is in thine own eye?
See the notes at Matthew 7:3-5.
Either how canst thou say to thy brother, Brother, let me pull out the mote that is in thine eye, when thou thyself beholdest not the beam that is in thine own eye? Thou hypocrite, cast out first the beam out of thine own eye, and then shalt thou see clearly to pull out the mote that is in thy brother's eye.
For a good tree bringeth not forth corrupt fruit; neither doth a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit.
See the notes at Matthew 7:16-18.
For every tree is known by his own fruit. For of thorns men do not gather figs, nor of a bramble bush gather they grapes.
A good man out of the good treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is evil: for of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaketh.
This verse is not found in the sermon on the mount as recorded by Matthew, but is recorded by him in Matthew 12:35. See the notes at that passage.
And why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say?
See the notes at Matthew 7:21-27.
Whosoever cometh to me, and heareth my sayings, and doeth them, I will shew you to whom he is like:
He is like a man which built an house, and digged deep, and laid the foundation on a rock: and when the flood arose, the stream beat vehemently upon that house, and could not shake it: for it was founded upon a rock.
But he that heareth, and doeth not, is like a man that without a foundation built an house upon the earth; against which the stream did beat vehemently, and immediately it fell; and the ruin of that house was great.