The Strait Gate. Warned against Herod.

^C Luke XIII.22-35.

^c 22 And he went on his way through cities and villages, teaching, and journeying on unto Jerusalem. [This verse probably refers back to verse 10, and indicates that Jesus resumed his journey after the brief rest on the Sabbath day when he healed the woman with the curvature of the spine.] 23 And one said unto him, Lord, are they few that are saved? [It is likely that this question was asked by a Jew, and that the two parables illustrating the smallness of the kingdom's beginning suggested it to him. The Jews extended their exclusive spirit even to their ideals of a world to come, so that they believed none but the chosen race would behold its glories. The circumstances attending to the conversion of Cornelius, recorded in Acts, show how this exclusiveness survived even among Jewish Christians. The questioner wished Jesus to commit himself to this narrow Jewish spirit, or else to take a position which would subject him to the charge of being unpatriotic.] And he said unto them, 24 Strive [literally, agonize] to enter in by the narrow door: for many, I say unto you, shall seek to enter in, and shall not be able. [Jesus answers that many shall be excluded from the kingdom, and that the questioner, and all others who hear, need to exercise themselves and give the matter their own personal attention lest they be among that many. The passage should be compared with that in Matthew, p.266. There one enters by a narrow gate upon a narrow road, indicating the strictness of the Christian life. Here one enters by a narrow door upon a season of festivity, indicating the joyous privileges of a Christian life.] 25 When once the master of the house is risen up, and hath shut to the door, and ye begin to stand without, and to knock at the door, saying, Lord, open to us; and he shall answer and say to you, I know you not whence ye are [This verse gives the reason why one should strive to enter in. The time for entrance is limited, and he must get in before it expires; for when the limited time has passed, he can not enter, no matter how earnestly he may seek or strive. Our Lord pictures a householder who refuses to receive any guest that has shown contempt for his feast by coming late. The strict spirit of the Lord in giving his invitation is indicated by the phrase "narrow door," but the phrase includes more than this, for those who would strive must not only be prompt to act, but must be painstaking so as to act intelligently, and of obedient spirit so as to act acceptably]; 26 then ye shall begin to say [in answer to the Lord's statement that he does not know them], We did eat and drink in thy presence, and thou didst teach in our streets [Thus they idly urged their privileges to him who was condemning them for having neglected to make a proper use of those privileges. Had these privileges been valued and improved, the clamoring outcasts would have been inside and not outside the door]; 27 and he shall say, I tell you, I know not whence ye are; depart from me, all ye workers of iniquity. [Thus pleading avails not. The door would not be narrow if it opened to excuses.] 28 There shall be the weeping and the gnashing of teeth, when ye shall see Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, and all the prophets, in the kingdom of God, and yourselves cast forth without. [See pp.273 and 274.] 29 And they shall come from the east and west, and from the north and south, and shall sit down in the kingdom of God. [See p.273.] 30 And behold [little as you may think it] , there are last who shall be first, and there are first who shall be last. [A familiar proverb of Christ's (Matt. xix.30; xx.10), to be interpreted by such passages as Matt. xxi.31 and Rom. ix.30, 31. The Jew who thought the Gentile had no hope at all, and that he himself was sure of salvation, would be surprised to find that his opinion was the very reverse of the real fact as time developed it.] 31 In that very hour there came certain Pharisees, saying to him, Get thee out, and go hence: for Herod would fain kill thee. [This shows that Jesus was in the territory of Herod Antipas, and hence probably in Peræa. The Pharisees, no doubt, wished to scare Jesus that they might exult over his fright. We might suppose, too, that their words were untrue, were it not that Jesus sends a reply to Herod. Herod long desired to see Jesus (Luke ix.9; xxiii.8), but it was not likely that he desired to put him to death. He was, doubtless, glad enough to get Jesus out of his territory, lest he might foment an uprising, and to this end he employed this strategy of sending messengers to warn Jesus under the guise of friendship.] 32 And he said unto them, Go and say to that fox [i.e., say to that crafty, sly fellow. The fox is a type of craftiness and treachery. We have no other instance where Jesus used such a contemptuous expression; but Herod richly merited it. An Idumæan by his father, a Samaritan by his mother, a Jew by profession, and a heathen by practice, he had need to be foxy by nature. And he was even now playing the fox by sending these messengers], Behold, I cast out demons and perform cures to-day and to-morrow, and the third day I am perfected.33 Nevertheless [although I know what lies before me] I must go on my way to-day and to-morrow and the day following: for it cannot be that a prophet perish out of Jerusalem. [Wieseler, Meyer, Alford, and other able commentators think that the days mentioned in this difficult passage are literal days. If the language is to be thus construed, the saying amounts to a promise to leave Herod's territory in three days. Such construction, however, is not consistent with the elevation of the sentiment and the solemnity of its repetition. Three days are thus sometimes used proverbially to designate a short time (Hos. vi.2), and they are unquestionably so used here. The meaning then is this: "For a little while I liberate and heal and abide in your territory to disturb your peace. But in a few days I shall be perfected in my office as a liberator and healer, after which I shall be seen no more in your territory. And though I understand these plots against me, I must fill up my time and go on my course till I suffer martyrdom at Jerusalem, which has the gruesome honor of being the prophet-slaying city." This word "perfected" in this passage finds its complement in the "It is finished" of John xix.30. Both the verbs are derived from the Greek word telos, which means end or completion. Compare also II. Cor. xii.9; Phil. iii.12; Heb. ii.10; v.8, 9; xi.40. John the Baptist having perished at Machærus in Peræa is regarded as an exception to this rule and the prophets die at Jerusalem. The exception does not disprove the rule, if it be a true exception; which may be questioned, since John died at the hands of Herod and Herodias, neither of whom were, properly speaking Jews. John, therefore, died as a prophet to foreigners rather than as a prophet to the Jewish people.] 34 O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, that killeth the prophets, and stoneth them that are sent unto her! how often would I have gathered thy children [inhabitants] together, even as a hen gathereth her own brood under her wings, and ye would not! [Jesus repeated these words again as recorded in Matt. xxiii.37-39. With such beautiful imagery does Jesus set forth his tender love for the people of that city which he knew would soon compass his death.] 35 Behold, your house [temple] is left unto you desolate [he was about to withdraw from the temple, which for centuries to come was to be visited by no heavenly messenger whatever]: and I say unto you, Ye shall not see me, until ye shall say, Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord. [It is hardly possible that these words can refer to the triumphal entry for their fulfillment (Matt. xxi.9 ). The use of them on that occasion may have had no reference to his prediction. They undoubtedly refer to the Parousia, or second coming of the Lord in his glory, before which time the Jews must turn and believe (Rom. xi.25-27). Not until they were thus prepared would they again see him without whom they were now rejecting.]

lxxxviii feast of the dedication
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