And it came to pass, when the time was come that he should be received up, he steadfastly set his face to go to Jerusalem,…
We may regard the text in the light of a prophecy. Whatever Christ announced as the purpose of His coming, was to be accomplished upon earth throughout successive ages. The Saviour of human life — this is the character which Christ here assumes to Himself, or of which He predicts, that it will be proved to belong to Him, as the religion He was about to establish makes way among men. Now there is nothing more interesting than the tracing the temporal effects which have followed the introduction of Christianity. We shall not now enter upon this wide field of inquiry; but our text requires us to consider Christianity as beneficial under one special point of view — as making provision for the saving of human life.
1. It has done this by overthrowing the tenets and destructive rites of heathenism.
2. By contributing to the civilization of society, it has, in many ways, spread a shield over human life.
3. Add to this the mighty advances which have been made under the fostering sway of Christianity, in every department of science.
4. There is, however, a far higher sense, in which our Lord might affirm that He had come to save human life. You are to bear in mind that death, bodily death, had entered the world, as the direct and immediate consequence of Adam's transgression, and that the counteracting this consequence, was one chief object of the mission of our Redeemer.
5. Now we have treated our text as though the word "life" were to be Literally taken, or interpreted with reference exclusively to the body; but it is often very difficult to say whether the original word denotes what we mean by the immortal principle and spiritual part of man, which never dies, or merely the vital principle — that, through the suspension of which the body becomes lifeless. And if the words before us may be applied to the destruction and the salvation of the soul, as well as of life in the more ordinary sense, it is indispensable that we say something of them in this their less obvious meaning. "I live," said the great apostle, "yet not I, but Christ liveth in me"; and life indeed it is, when a man is made "wise unto salvation" — when, having been brought to a consciousness of his state, as a rebel against God, he has committed his cause unto Christ, who "was delivered for our offences, and raised again for our justification." It is not "life" — it deserves not the name, merely to have power of moving to and fro on this earth, beholding the light and drinking in the air. It may be life to the brute, but not to man — man who is deathless, man who belongs to two worlds — the citizen of immensity, the heir of eternity. But it is "life," to spend the few years of earthly pilgrimage in the full hope and certain expectation of everlasting blessedness — to be able to regard sin as a forgiven thing, and death as an abolished — to anticipate the future with its glories, and the judgment with its terrors, and to know assuredly, that He who shall sit upon the throne, and "gather all nations before Him," reserves for us a place in those "many mansions " which He reared and opened through His great work of mediation. It is life to live for eternity; it is life to live for God; it is life to have fellowship with what the eye hath not seen, and the ear hath not heard. And this life Christ came to impart; He came to give life to the soul.
(H. Melvill, B. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: And it came to pass, when the time was come that he should be received up, he stedfastly set his face to go to Jerusalem,