Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges
And he spake a parable unto them to this end, that men ought always to pray, and not to faint;Luke 18:1-8. The Duty of Urgent Prayer. The Unjust Judge.
1. that men ought always to pray] Rather, that they ought always to pray, since the true reading adds abrovs. It is only here and in Luke 18:9 that the explanation or point of a parable is given before the parable itself. Both parables are peculiar to St Luke. The duty inculcated is rather urgent prayer (as in Luke 11:5-13) than that spirit of unflagging prayer which is elsewhere enforced, Luke 21:36; 1 Thessalonians 5:17; Ephesians 6:18. “Prayer is the soid’s sincere desire Uttered, or unexpressed.”
and not to faint] The word used is a late word meaning to give in through cowardice, or give up from faint-heartedness. It is a Pauline word, 2 Corinthians 4:1; 2 Corinthians 4:16; Galatians 6:9.
Saying, There was in a city a judge, which feared not God, neither regarded man:2. a judge] Rather, a certain judge. The little story is not improbably taken from life, and doubtless the inferior judges under such a sovereignty as that of the Herods might afford many instances of carelessness and venality.
which feared not God, neither regarded man] The description of a character perfectly abandoned. He is living in violation of both of the two great commandments; in contradiction to the spirit of both Tables of the Decalogue. His conduct is the reverse of the noble advice of Jehoshaphat to his judges, 2 Chronicles 19:6-7; (2 Corinthians 8:21).
a widow] See Exodus 22:22; Deuteronomy 10:18; Isaiah 1:17; Isaiah 1:23; Malachi 3:5; 2 Samuel 14:2; 2 Samuel 14:5. The necessity for special justice and kindness to them rose from the fact that in the East they were of all classes the most defenceless and oppressed. Hence the prominent place which they occupy in the arrangements of the early Church (Acts 6:1; Acts 9:41; 1 Timothy 5:3, &c.).
And there was a widow in that city; and she came unto him, saying, Avenge me of mine adversary.3. she came unto him] Rather, she kept coming to him. The widow woman is a representative alike of the Christian Church and of the Christian soul.
Avenge me of mine adversary] Rather, Do me justice. The word ‘avenge’ is a little too strong. The technical term ekdikeson implies ‘settle my case (so as to free me) from my adversary.’ The same word is found in Romans 12:19; Revelation 6:10. There is again a curious parallel in Sir 35:14-17, “He will not despise ... the widow when she poureth out her complaint. Do not the tears run down the widow’s cheeks? and is not her cry against him that causeth them to fall?...The prayer of the humble pierceth the clouds, and ... he will not depart till the Most High shall behold to judge righteously and execute judgment.”
And he would not for a while: but afterward he said within himself, Though I fear not God, nor regard man;4. he said within himself] The shamelessness with which he acknowledges his own sin renders it still more aggravated.
Though I fear not God, nor regard man] ‘The creed of a powerful atheist.’ Bengel.
Yet because this widow troubleth me, I will avenge her, lest by her continual coming she weary me.5. troubleth me] Rather, gives me trouble.
lest by her continual coming] Literally, “coming to the end,” “coming for ever”—another colloquialism.
she weary me] The original has the curious word hupopiaze; literally, “should blacken me under the eyes.” Some have supposed that he is afraid lest the widow should be driven by desperation to make an assault on him (ne sugillet me, Vulg.; ne obtundat me, Beza); but undoubtedly the word is a colloquialism (Ar. Pax, 519) retained in Hellenistic Greek, and found also in St Paul in 1 Corinthians 9:27, where it is rendered, “I keep tinder my body.” It is like the English colloquialism “to plague a person.” Comp. Matthew 15:23.
And the Lord said, Hear what the unjust judge saith.6. the unjust judge] Literally, “the judge of injustice.” Cp. Luke 16:8.
And shall not God avenge his own elect, which cry day and night unto him, though he bear long with them?7. And shall not God] The argument is simply a fortiori. Even an unjust and abandoned judge grants a just petition at last out of base motives when it is often urged, to a defenceless person for whom he cares nothing; how much more shall a just and merciful God hear the cry and avenge the Cause of those whom He loves?
avenge his own elect, which cry day and night unto him] The best comment is furnished by Revelation 6:9-11. But the ‘avenging’ is rather the ‘vindication,’ i.e. the deliverance from the oppressor.
which cry] Literally, shout. It is “strong crying,” comp. James 5:4, ‘the shouts of the reapers of your fields.’
though he bear long with them] Literally, “though being longsuffering in their case.” Here the longsuffering of God is shewn not to His elect (though they too need and receive it, 2 Peter 3:9), but to their enemies. See Sir 35:17-18—another close parallel, probably an interpolated plagiarism from this Gospel. The elect are far more eager not only for deliverance, but even for vengeance, than God is. They shew too much of the spirit which God reproves in Jonah. But God knows man’s weakness and “therefore is He patient with them and poureth His mercy upon them.” Sir 18:11. But the best supported reading is καὶ μακροθυμεῖ ἐπ αὐτοῖς. This would denote that the longsuffering is shewn toward the elect. He is pitiful to them, in the midst of their impatience.
I tell you that he will avenge them speedily. Nevertheless when the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth?8. he will avenge them] Isaiah 63:4; Psalm 9:12, “When He maketh inquisition for blood, He remembereth them, He forgetteth not the cry of the humble.” “Yet a little while,” Hebrews 10:37; 2 Peter 3:8-9. The best comment on the Parable and our Lord’s explanation of it may be found in His own Discourses, John 14, 15.
speedily] in reality (2 Peter 3:8) though not in semblance.
shall he find faith on the earth?] Rather, shall He find this faith on the earth? So St Peter tells of scoffers in the last days who shall say “Where is the promise of His coming?” 2 Peter 3:3-4; and before that day “the love of many shall wax cold,” Matthew 24:12; 2 Thessalonians 2:3. Even the faith of God’s elect will in the last days be sorely tried (Matthew 24:22).
And he spake this parable unto certain which trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others:9-14. The Duty of Humble Prayer. The Pharisee and the Tax-gatherer.
9. which trusted in themselves that they were righteous] See Luke 16:15; Php 3:4; 2 Corinthians 1:9. The Jewish words ‘Jashar,’ ‘the upright man,’ and ‘Tsaddik, ‘just,’ expressed their highest moral ideal; but they made their uprightness and justice consist so much in attention to the ceremonial minutiae of the Levitic Law, and rigid externalism so engrossed their thoughts, that they had lost sight of those loftier and truer ideals of charity which the Prophets had continually set before them-. This fetish-worship of the letter, this scrupulosity about trifles, tended only to self-confidence and pride. It had long been denounced in Scripture. “There is a generation that are pure in their own eyes, and yet is not washed from their filthiness,” Proverbs 30:12; “which say, Stand by thyself come not near to me; for I am holier than thou. These are a smoke in my nose, a fire that burneth all the day,” Isaiah 65:5. This is the sort of ‘faith’ which the Son of Man shall find on the earth, —men’s faith in themselves!
and despised other] Rather, the rest. The word ‘despise’ means ‘treat as nothing,’ ‘regard as mere cyphers,’ Romans 14:3; Romans 14:10. The Rabbis invented the most highflown designations for each other, such as ‘Light of Israel,’ ‘Uprooter of Mountains,’ ‘The Glory of the Law,’ ‘The Holy,’ &c.; but they described the vast mass of their fellow- countrymen as “accursed” for not knowing the law (John 7:49), and spoke of them as ‘empty cisterns,’ ‘people of the earth,’ &c. See on Luke 5:32, Luke 7:34, &c. This Pharisee regards with perfect self-complacency the assumed ruin and degradation of all the rest of mankind. In one sense the Parable represents the mutual relations of Jew and Gentile.
Two men went up into the temple to pray; the one a Pharisee, and the other a publican.10. went up into the tetnple] The Temple stood on Mount Moriah, and was always called the ‘Hill of the House’ (Har ha-Beit).
to pray] The Temple had long become naturally, and most fitly, a “House of Prayer” (Luke 19:46), though this was not its main original function.
The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican.11. stood and prayed thus with himself] Standing was the ordinary Jewish attitude of prayer (1 Kings 8:22; Mark 11:25), but the word statheis (which is not used of the Tax-gatherer) seems to imply that he stood by himself to avoid the contaminating contact of the ‘people of the earth,’ and posed himself in a conspicuous attitude (Matthew 6:5), as well as ‘prayed with himself’ as the words are perhaps rightly rendered. He was “a separatist in spirit as in name,” Trench. (Pharisee from Pharash ‘to separate.’)
God, I thank thee] Rather, O God. His prayer is no prayer at all; not even a thanksgiving, only a boast. See the strong denunciation of such insolent self-sufficiency in Revelation 3:17-18.
as other men] Rather, as the rest of mankind.
extortioners, unjust, adulterers] Could he, in any real sense, have made out even this claim to be free from glaring crimes? His class at any rate are charged by Christ with being “full of extortion” (Matthew 23:25); and they were unjust, seeing that they ‘omitted judgment’ (Matthew 23:23). They are not indeed charged by Jesus with adultery either in the metaphorical or literal sense, but they are spoken of as being prominent members of an adulterous generation, and on several occasions our Lord sternly rebuked their shameful laxity in the matter of divorce (Matthew 19:3-9). And not only does Josephus charge them with this crime also, but their Talmud, with perfect self-complacency, shews how the flagrant immorality of even their most eminent Rabbis found a way to shelter itself, with barefaced and cynical casuistry, under legal forms. See John 8:1-11, and Lightfoot, Hor. Hebr. ad loc.; Life of Christ, 11. 152. It appears from the tract Sotah in the Mishnah, that the ordeal of the ‘water of jealousy’ had been abolished by Jochanan Ben Zakkai, the greatest Rabbi of this age, because the crime had grown so common.
or even as this publican] He thus makes the Publican a foil to his own virtues. “This,” says St Augustine, “is no longer to exult, but to insult.”
I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess.12. Ifast twice in the week] This practice had no divine sanction. The Law appointed only a single fast-day in the year, the Day of Atonement (Leviticus 16:29). By the time of Zechariah there seem to have been four yearly fasts (Zechariah 8:19). The bi-weekly fast of the Pharisees was a mere burden imposed by the oral Law. The days chosen were Thursday and Monday, because on those days Moses was believed to have ascended and descended from Sinai, Babha Kama, f. 82, 1. The man boasts of his empty ceremonialism.
I give tithes of all that I possess] Rather, of all that I acquire. As though he were another Jacob! (Genesis 28:22; comp. Tob 1:7-8). Here too he exceeds the Written Law, which only commanded tithes of corn, wine, oil, and cattle (Deuteronomy 14:22-23), and not of mint, anise, and cummin (Matthew 23:23). The fact that he does not say a word about his sins shews how low was his standard. “He that covereth his sins shall not prosper,” Proverbs 28:13. He was clothed with phylacteries and fringes, not with humility, 1 Peter 5:5. A Talmudic treatise, the Berachoth (Schwab, p. 336), furnishes us with a close analogy to the prayer of the Pharisee in that of Rabbi Nechounia Ben Hakana, who on leaving his school used to say, ‘I thank thee, O Eternal, my God, for having given me part with those who attend this school instead of running through the shops. I rise early like them, but it is to study the Law, not for futile ends. I take trouble as they do, but I shall be rewarded, and they will not; we run alike, but I for the future life, while they will only arrive at the pit of destruction.’
And the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner.13. standing afar off] The word for standing is not statheis as in the case of the Pharisee, but merely hestos. It is not certain whether the “afar off” means ‘afar off from the Pharisee,’ or (as is more probable) afar off from the Holy Place to which the Pharisee would thrust himself, as of right, into closest proximity.
would not lift up so much as his eyes] The Jew usually stood with arms outspread, the palms turned upwards, as though to receive the gifts of heaven, and the eyes raised. “Unto Thee lift I up mine eyes,” Psalm 123:1-2; but on the other hand, “Mine iniquities have taken such hold upon me that I am not able to look up,” Psalm 40:12; “O my God, I am ashamed and blush to lift up my face to thee, my God: for our iniquities are increased over our head, and our trespass is grown up unto the heavens,” Ezra 9:6.
smote upon his breast] For this custom of expressing grief, see Luke 23:48; Nahum 2:7; Jeremiah 31:19. “Pectus, conscientiae sedem,” Bengel.
God be merciful to me a sinner] Rather, O God, be merciful to me the sinner.The word for ‘be merciful’ means ‘be propitiated’ as in Hebrews 2:17. He speaks of himself as the chief of sinners, 1 Timothy 1:15.
I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other: for every one that exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted.14. went down to his house justified rather than the other] Of the Pharisee it might be said, “His soul which is lifted up is not upright in him but of the Tax-gatherer, “the just shall live by his faith,” Habakkuk 2:4. But the day had not yet come in which the words ‘be merciful’ (hilaskou), and ‘justified’ (dedikaiomenos), possessed the deep full meaning which they were soon to acquire (Hebrews 2:17; Romans 3:20). The phrase was not unknown to the Talmud, which says that while the Temple stood, when every Israelite had offered sacrifice, ‘his sin was pardoned and he departed justified.’ The reading of our Greek text ἢ ἐκεῖνος is untenable, though it correctly gives the meaning. The best supported reading is ἢ γὰρ ἐκεῖνος, but it seems to have originated by mistake from παρ ἐκεῖνον. Abp Trench quotes Crashaw’s striking epigram:
“Two went to pray: or rather say
One went to brag, the other to pray;
One stands up close, and treads on high,
Where th’ other dares not send his eye.
One nearer to the altar trod,
The other to the altar’s God.”
every one that exalteth himself] See Luke 14:11. In this Parable, as in that of the Prodigal son, we have the contrast between unrighteousness and self-righteousness.
And they brought unto him also infants, that he would touch them: but when his disciples saw it, they rebuked them.15-17. Jesus and the Children. A Lesson of Humility.
15. they brought unto him also infants] Rather, their babes. It seems to have been a custom of Jewish mothers to carry their babes to eminent Rabbis for their blessing; naturally therefore these mothers would bring their children and babes to Jesus. See Matthew 19:13-15; Mark 10:13.
But Jesus called them unto him, and said, Suffer little children to come unto me, and forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of God.16. called them] St Mark adds that Jesus was much displeased with the officious interference of the disciples who so little understood His tenderness.
Suffer little children] Rather, the little children.
for of such is the kingdom of God] Because children are meek, humble, trustful, guileless, unsophisticated, pure. It was a lesson which Jesus often taught, Matthew 5:3; Matthew 11:25; Matthew 17:10; Matthew 17:14; 1 Corinthians 14:20; 1 Peter 2:1-2.
receive the kingdom of God as a little child] See Matthew 11:25. Hence the Psalmist says, “My soul is even as a weaned child,” Psalm 131:2. Tradition (erroneously) supposed that St Ignatius was one of these children.
Verily I say unto you, Whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child shall in no wise enter therein.
And a certain ruler asked him, saying, Good Master, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?18-30. The Great Refusal. The Young Ruler who loved Riches more than Christ.
18. a certain ruler] St Matthew (Matthew 19:20) only calls him “a young man.” He was probably the young and wealthy ruler of a synagogue. The touch added by St Mark (Luke 10:17), that he suddenly ran up and fell on his knees before Him, seems to imply that he was eager to catch the opportunity of speaking to Jesus before He started on a journey, probably the journey from the Peraean Bethany, beyond Jordan (John 10:41-42), to the Bethany near Jerusalem, to raise Lazarus.
Good Master] This title was an impropriety, almost an impertinence; for the title ‘good’ was never addressed to Rabbis by their pupils. Therefore to address Jesus thus was to assume a tone almost of patronage. Moreover, as the young Ruler did not look on Jesus as divine, it was to assume a false standpoint altogether.
what shall I do to inherit eternal life?] In St Matthew the question runs, ‘what good thing shall I do?’ Here, again, the young ruler betrays a false standpoint, as though ‘eternal life’ were to be won by quantitative works, or by some single act of goodness,—by doing and not by being. It was indeed the fundamental error of his whole class. Romans 9:32.
And Jesus said unto him, Why callest thou me good? none is good, save one, that is, God.19. Why callest thou me good?] According to St Matthew the question also ran, ‘Why askest thou me about the good?’ The emphasis is not on the me (for the form used in the original is the enclitic με not ἐμὲ on good. Why do you give me this strange title which from your point of view is unwarrantable? Comp. Plato Phaed. 27, “to be a good man is impossible...God alone could have this honour.”
none is good, save one, that is, God] 1 John 3:5.
Thou knowest the commandments, Do not commit adultery, Do not kill, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Honour thy father and thy mother.20. Thou knowest the commandments] St Matthew says that our Lord first answered, ‘Keep the commandments,’ and when the young man asked, ‘What kind of commandments?’ expecting probably some recondite points of casuistry—minute rules [Halachoth) out of the oral Law—our Lord to his surprise mentions the broadest and most obvious commandments of the Decalogue.
Do not kill, &c.] Our Lord seems purposely to have mentioned only the plainest commandments of the Second Table, to shew the young man that he had fallen short even of these in their true interpretation; much more of that love to God which is the epitome of the first Table. Thus does Christ ‘send the proud to the Law, and invite the humble to the Gospel.’
And he said, All these have I kept from my youth up.21. All these have I kept] There seems to have been an accent of extreme surprise in his reply. ‘You bid me not be a thief, adulterer, murderer! For whom do you take me? I am no criminal. These I kept since I was a child.’ And then he added, ‘what lack I yet?’ (Matthew 19:20).—Here, again, the Gospel is true to the letter in its picture of a Pharisaic Rabbi. Thus the Talmud describes one of the classes of Pharisees as the tell-me-something-more-to-do-and-I-will-do-it Pharisee; and when R. Chaninah was dying he said to the Angel of Death, “Go and fetch me the Book of the Law, and see whether there is anything in it which I have not kept.”
Now when Jesus heard these things, he said unto him, Yet lackest thou one thing: sell all that thou hast, and distribute unto the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come, follow me.22. when Jesus heard these things] St Mark says that ‘looking on him, he loved him,’ or rather, ‘was pleased with him.’ Some have rendered the words ‘He kissed him,’ since Rabbis in token of approval sometimes kissed a good scholar on the head; this, however, would require not egapesen, but ephilesen. There was something gracious and sincere in the youth’s eagerness, and therefore Jesus gave him that test of something more high and heroical in religion which he seemed to desire, but to which he failed to rise.
Yet lackest thou one thing] This command to sell all and give to the poor was special, not general. The youth had asked for some great thing to do, and Jesus, by thus revealing to him his own self-deception, shews him that in spite of his spiritual pride and profession of magnanimity he is but trying to serve two masters. The disciples had already accepted the test, Luke 12:33, Luke 16:9. To the world in general the command is not to sell all, but ‘not to trust in uncertain riches, but to be rich in good works, ready to distribute, willing to communicate,’ 1 Timothy 6:17-19.
And when he heard this, he was very sorrowful: for he was very rich.23. he was very sorrowful] St Matthew says, ‘he went away grieving;’ St Mark adds that ‘his brow grew gloomy and cloudy at the command’ (στυγνάσας ἐπὶ τῷ λόγῳ). And thus at the time he made, through cowardice or meanness of mind, what Dante (Inf. Luke 10:27) calls ‘il gran rifiuto,’ ‘the great refusal,’ and the poet sees his shade among the whirling throng of the useless and the facing-both-ways on the confines of the Inferno. Nothing, however, forbids us to hope that the words of Jesus who ‘loved him’ sank into his soul, and brought him to a humbler and holier frame of mind. But meanwhile he lost for his earthly dross that eternal blessedness of self-sacrifice which Christ had offered him. The day came when Saul of Tarsus was like this youth ‘touching the righteousness which is in the law blameless;’ but he had grace to count all things but loss for Christ. Php 3:6-9.
And when Jesus saw that he was very sorrowful, he said, How hardly shall they that have riches enter into the kingdom of God!24. saw that he was very sorrowful] Several good uncials read merely ‘when Jesus saw him.’
shall they that have riches] Rather, do they. The striking reading of some MSS. (א, B, &c.) in Mark 10:24, is that Christ, seeing the pained astonishment of the disciples, said, “Children! how hard it is to enter into the kingdom of God”—hard for all; above all, hard for the rich. Other MSS. have “for those that trust in riches’’(comp. Proverbs 11:28)—but that would be a truism; and, indeed, while they trust in riches, it would be not only hard, but impossible. The point that Jesus wished to teach was that riches are always a temptation and a snare. 1 Timothy 6:9-10. Let us not forget that Judas heard these words only a few days or weeks before he sold his Lord. It was almost a proverb among the ancients that “the very rich are not good.” Stobaeus, xciii. 27.
For it is easier for a camel to go through a needle's eye, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God.25. for a camel to go through a needles eye] To soften the apparent harshness of this expression, some have conjectured Kamilon, ‘a rope;’ and some have explained ‘the needle’s eye’ of the small side gate for passengers (at the side of the large city gates), through which a camel might press its way, if it were first unladen. But (i) the conjecture Kamilon is wholly without authority, (ii) The name of ‘the needle’s eye’ applied to small gates is probably a modern one which has actually originated from an attempt to soften this verse:—at any rate there is no ancient trace of it. (iii) The Rabbinic parallels are decisive to prove that a camel is meant because the Babylonian Jews using the same proverb substitute ‘an elephant’ for ‘a camel.’ (iv) It is the object of the proverb to express human i?npossibility. In the human sphere—apart from the special grace of God—it would be certain that those who have riches would be led to trust in them, and so would fail to enter into the kingdom of God, which requires absolute humility, ungrudging liberality, and constant self-denial.
And they that heard it said, Who then can be saved?26. Who then can be savedI] Here once more we catch the echo of the sighing despair caused in the minds of the still immature Apostles by some of our Lord’s harder sayings.
And he said, The things which are impossible with men are possible with God.27. are possible with God] See on Luke 1:37. “There is nothing too hard for thee,” Jeremiah 32:17; comp. Job 13:2; Zechariah 8:6.
Then Peter said, Lo, we have left all, and followed thee.28. Then Peter said] The feeling which dictated his remark is uncertain; perhaps it was a passing touch of self-congratulation; perhaps a plea for pity in the hard task of salvation.
we have left all] Rather, we left all, alluding to a particular crisis, Luke 5:11.
And he said unto them, Verily I say unto you, There is no man that hath left house, or parents, or brethren, or wife, or children, for the kingdom of God's sake,29. There is no man that hath left house] Compare the sacrifice and reward of the sons of Levi, Deuteronomy 33:8-11.
for the kingdom of God’s sake] Unless the motive be pure, the sacrifice is unavailing.
Who shall not receive manifold more in this present time, and in the world to come life everlasting.30. manifold more] St Matthew and St Mark say ‘a hundredfold] and St Matthew adds that in the Palingenesia—the New Birthday of the World, the Restoration of all things—they shall sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. St Luke naturally omits the more purely Hebraic conceptions. St Mark adds the two striking words, “with persecutions” Of course, the promise of “the hundredfold” is neither literal nor quantitative, but qualitative and spiritual.
in this present time] Kairo—not only in this present aeon, but at this very season.
Then he took unto him the twelve, and said unto them, Behold, we go up to Jerusalem, and all things that are written by the prophets concerning the Son of man shall be accomplished.31. Then he took unto him the twelve] apart, and on the road, as we learn from Matthew 20:17. St Mark, with one of his graphic touches of detail, describes Jesus walking before them, and (as we infer from the expression of the Evangelist) in such awful majesty of sorrow that those nearest Him were filled with deep amazement, and those who were following at a greater distance felt a hush of fear (Mark 10:32). Then it was that He beckoned them to Him, and revealed the crowning circumstances of horror respecting His death.
all things that are written by the prophets concerning the Son of man shall be accomplished] Rather, all the things that have been written through the prophets for the Son of Man shall be accomplished; or, perhaps, shall be accomplished to the Son of Man.
31-34. Jesus prophesies that He should be crucified.
Between these verses and the last should probably be inserted the journey from the Peraean Bethany to the Judaean Bethany, and the Raising of Lazarus (John 11:1-46). This signal miracle was omitted by the Synoptists for the same reasons as those which led them to a marked reticence about the family of Lazarus (see on Luke 10:38 and my Life of Christ, ii. 173). This miracle led to a meeting of the Sanhedrin, at which it was decided—mainly on the authority of Caiaphas—that Jesus must be put to death though not during the ensuing Passover,—with such precautions as were possible. The terrible decision became known. Indeed, it led to attempts to murder Lazarus and seize Jesus, which compelled Him to retire secretly to the obscure village of Ephraim (John 11:54)— probably Et-Taiyibeh, not far from Bethel (Beitin), and about 20 miles from Jerusalem. Here our Lord spent, in undisturbed and unrecorded calm, the last few weeks of His life, occupied in training the Apostles who were to convert the world. Towards the close of the time He would see, from the hill of Ephraim, the crowds of Galilaean pilgrims streaming down the Jordan valley to keep the Passover at Jerusalem.; and, secure under their protection till His brief days of destined work were done, He left His place of retreat to join their caravans for His last solemn progress to Jerusalem.
For he shall be delivered unto the Gentiles, and shall be mocked, and spitefully entreated, and spitted on:32. unto the Gentiles] This was the third, and by far the clearest and most circumstantial prophecy respecting His death. Hitherto, except for scattered hints which they could not understand (Luke 9:22; Luke 9:45), the Apostles might have supposed that Jesus would be put to death by the Jewish authorities. Now He tells them that He shall be delivered to the Gentiles, which involved the fact that He should be crucified, as indeed now for the first time He plainly told them (Matthew 20:19). It was necessary thus to check all blind material Messianic hopes, the ineradicable prevalence of which was proved immediately afterwards by the ambitious request of Salome and her sons (Mark 10:35-45; Matthew 20:20-28). But while the magnificent promises which they had just heard, and the magnificent miracle which they would immediately witness, together with the shouting multitudes who would soon be attending our Lord, made it necessary thus to extinguish all worldly hopes in their minds, yet to prevent them from being crushed with sorrow, He now adds, without any ambiguity, the prophecy of His resurrection on the third day.
And they shall scourge him, and put him to death: and the third day he shall rise again.
And they understood none of these things: and this saying was hid from them, neither knew they the things which were spoken.34. they understood none of these things] as had been the case before, Luke 9:43-45; and St Mark tells us (Mark 9:32) that ‘they were afraid to ask Him.’ It was only at a later period that the full significance of all these words dawned on them (John 12:16). We must learn, as Pascal says, to love divine truths before we can understand them. The Apostles refused to admit the plain meaning of these clear statements (Matthew 16:22).
And it came to pass, that as he was come nigh unto Jericho, a certain blind man sat by the way side begging:35-43. Bartimaeus healed at Jericho.
35. as he was come nigh unto Jericho] This would be a week before our Lord’s death—on the evening of Thursday, Nisan 7, or the morning of Friday, Nisan 8. St Mark (Mark 10:46) and St Matthew (Matthew 20:29) say that this miracle took place as He was leaving Jericho. With simple and truthful writers like the Evangelists, we may feel sure that some good reason underlies the obvious apparent discrepancy which would however in any case be unimportant. Possibly it may arise from the two Jerichos—the old town on the ancient site, and the new semi-Herodian town which had sprung up at a little distance from it. And, as Chrysostom says, such discrepancies have their own value as a marked proof of the mutual independence of the Evangelists.
a certain blind man] St Matthew (Matthew 20:30), as in the case of the Gadarene demoniac, mentions two blind men; and in any case a blind man would hardly have been sitting quite alone. The name of Bartimaeus is only preserved by St Mark.
And hearing the multitude pass by, he asked what it meant.
And they told him, that Jesus of Nazareth passeth by.
And he cried, saying, Jesus, thou Son of David, have mercy on me.38. Jesus, thou Son of David] The use of this Messianic title implies a strong faith in Bartimaeus.
have mercy on me] “The Kyrie Eleison of the soul which precedes its Hosanna.” Van Oosterzee.
And they which went before rebuked him, that he should hold his peace: but he cried so much the more, Thou Son of David, have mercy on me.39. rebuked him, that he should hold his peace] Compare Luke 18:15; Matthew 19:13.
And Jesus stood, and commanded him to be brought unto him: and when he was come near, he asked him,40. and when he was come near] The narrative of St Mark, which is evidently derived from an immediate eye-witness, describes Bartimaeus as ‘springing to his feet and flinging away his outer robe,’ when he was told that Jesus had called him.
Saying, What wilt thou that I shall do unto thee? And he said, Lord, that I may receive my sight.41. Lord] In St Mark the title given is Rabboni, the highest form of the title Rabbi.
And Jesus said unto him, Receive thy sight: thy faith hath saved thee.42. thy faith hath saved thee] The brief sentences of the narrative have been beautifully woven by Mr Longfellow into his little poem of Blind Bartimaeus: [indent]
“Those mighty voices three,
Ἰησοῦ ἐλέησόν με!
Θάρσει, ἔγειραι! Ὕπαγε•
Ἡ πίστις σου σέσωκέ σε!”
And immediately he received his sight, and followed him, glorifying God: and all the people, when they saw it, gave praise unto God.43. followed him, glorifying God] The time for any reticence respecting miracles was long past. St Luke is specially fond of recording doxologies. See Luke 5:26, Luke 7:16, Luke 13:17, Luke 17:15, Luke 23:47.