And as they thus spoke, Jesus himself stood in the middle of them, and said to them, Peace be to you.…
I. The charge to begin at Jerusalem shows how the gospel challenges investigation of the facts which it proclaims in the locality in which they transpired, and where, in consequence, they are capable of being most thoroughly sifted.
II. The charge to begin at Jerusalem shows that even Jerusalem sinners — the men who had thirsted for the Saviour's blood — the men who had cried, "Away with Him, crucify Him!" — the men who mocked Him in His last agonies — the men who reviled and tortured and murdered Him — were not excluded from His compassion.
1. Taking at the outset the lowest ground, we learn from His words that there is mercy for the greatest sinners.
2. But this is not all. The text requires us to advance a step further. It not only teaches that there is mercy for the worst sinners, but that the worst and most wretched sinners are especially the objects of mercy. Should you begin to ask how this is, and on what principle it is to be accounted for, our own feelings under certain circumstances may help us to an answer. The mother, if she loves as a mother should, has no arbitrary or groundless preference for any of her children. While they are all about her, behaving as children should, she cannot tell you which is dearest. Most sincerely she will tell you that she loves them all alike. But in after years, when their character is developed, and each pursues his own course, it is the poor prodigal whose suffering most awakens her solicitude, and not so much his suffering as his sin. It is his image that is most frequently present to her mind. Let me add here, that the salvation of the worst sinners will serve most to magnify the Divine mercy. As the rough sea makes manifest the good qualities of the lifeboat which has weathered the storm; as the physician's skill is most illustriously displayed, and the efficacy of his medicines most strikingly evinced, by the cure of the most aggravated disease; as the builder's reputation is advanced, not only by the beauty and symmetry of the structure which he has erected, but also by the worthlessness of the materials out of which it has been formed; so is mercy most illustriously displayed and most gloriously magnified in the salvation of the greatest sinners. Moreover, the forgiveness of the greater guilt is fitted to awaken greater gratitude in the forgiven sinner.
III. The Saviour's charge shows the order in which we should proceed in our efforts for the conversion of the world. The principle which He commends to us is the sound principle of beginning at home. But while our efforts should begin at home, they should only begin there.
Parallel VersesKJV: And as they thus spake, Jesus himself stood in the midst of them, and saith unto them, Peace be unto you.