Once again Jesus went out beside the sea. All the people came to Him, and He taught them there.
Eating with publicans and sinners. In calling Matthew (Levi) from the receipt of custom, our Saviour made him relinquish all his old pursuits and companions, and conferred upon him an unexpected honor. The feast given by him was, therefore, partly a farewell, partly a celebration. In overstepping the boundary line of Jewish religious and social etiquette, the Lord performed an act of great significance, which was sure to call forth remark.
I. SUPERFICIAL KNOWLEDGE, WHEN LINKED WITH MALICE, WILL PUT THE WORST CONSTRUCTION UPON THE BEST ACTIONS. Conventional morality was invoked to condemn Christ in mingling with the publicans. No trouble was taken to ascertain the true character of the feast. By their criticism the Pharisees exposed their own hollowness and unspirituality. They condemned themselves in seeking to condemn Christ. For such judgments men are responsible. The greatest care and most spiritual view should be taken ere judgment is passed upon the actions of others, especially when their character is known to be good.
II. IT IS THE MOTIVE WHICH IS THE TRUE KEY TO THE NATURE OF ACTIONS.
1. This applies absolutely in the case of actions in themselves indifferent, or only conventionally forbidden; but in all actions it is an indispensable canon of ultimate judgment. Even where the external nature of an action is unmistakable, the utmost care should be taken in forming an opinion. Absolute and unqualified judgment is for God alone.
2. When challenged for our conduct it is well to explain the principles upon which we act. Christ at once makes known his motives, and with no anger. Yet in so doing he judged his accusers, They pretended to be whole, and so could not object to him doing good to those who required his aid. Why were they dissatisfied, if not from secret disquietude with their own condition and attitude? Irony proceeding from deepest spiritual discernment!
III. THE HOLIEST SOUGHT OUT AND COMPANIED WITH SINNERS THAT HE MIGHT MAKE THEM HOLY. It is only by sympathy, and by appeals to their highest nature, that sinful men can be won to God. - M.
And He went forth again by the seaside.I. IT WAS NOT A WALK OF ABSENT REVERIE.
II. IT WAS NOT A WALK OF SENTIMENTAL ADMIRATION.
III. IT WAS A WALK HALLOWED BY SACRED TEACHING. We should endeavour to make our walks subservient to the moral good of men, and in this incidental manner we might do much to enhance the welfare of the Redeemer's cause.
(J. S. Exell, M. A.)
(C. H. Spurgeon.)
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