Matthew 12:14
That he might be "in all points tempted like as we are," our Lord had the experience of rousing enmity even in doing faithfully the duty of the hour. It was his life-work to heal and save. He was not going to allow himself to be hindered, in doing his great life-work, by the claims of merely rabbinical rules. But the penalty came, which comes to all men who are persistently faithful to their sense of right: "The Pharisees went out, and held a council against him, how they might destroy him." It is important to note that the Pharisaic opposition to Christ was raised on the distinct ground that he would be true to himself - he would say just what was given him to say; he would do just what was given him to do; he would not trim his words or his ways to please any parties. And this in no spirit of stubbornness; only in supreme loyalty to the supreme Authority which he acknowledged, and those Pharisees professed to acknowledge. If any man means to be faithful to the best he knows, he had better take due account of the fact that he will be misunderstood, misrepresented, and socially persecuted. The man who means to get through life easily has no very positive opinions, and is quite ready to shift and change his views if they do not quite please. But such men never yet led, ennobled, inspired, or reproved any generation. Men of positive convictions alone can lead to noble things; and they may be well content to bear the perils of faithfulness.

I. THE FOES OF FAITHFUL JESUS. "These Pharisees passed for the best persons in the country, the conservators of respectability and orthodoxy. They cannot be accused of having neglected Jesus. They turned their attention to him from the first. They followed him step by step. They discussed his doctrines and his claims, and made up their minds. Their decision was adverse, and they followed it up with acts, never becoming remiss in their activity for an hour. This is, perhaps, the most solemn and appalling circumstance in the whole tragedy of the life of Christ, that the men who rejected, hunted down, and murdered him, were those reputed best in the nation, its teachers and examples, the zealous conservators of the Bible, and the traditions of the past." But this is always the supreme bitterness of the lot of faithful men; their worst foes are the good people whom they would die to serve, if they could, with supreme loyalty to God.

II. THE SCHEMES OF THE FOES OF FAITHFUL JESUS. They began with trying arguments; but as they did not succeed at that, they attempted to silence Jesus; and even were led on to scheme his death. They represent the gradual embittering and blinding which always follow on cherished religious prejudice. - R.T.







The men of Nineveh shall rise in Judgment.
I. TO SHOW THAT SUFFICIENT CAUSE IN THE DIFFERENT CIRCUMSTANCES OF THE TWO, WHY THE REPENTANT NINEVITES SHOULD BE WITNESSES AGAINST THE IMPENITENT JEWS. NOW what account are we to give of this repentance of the Ninevites? At first sight it seems strange that so vast a result should have been wrought by the preaching of a solitary and unknown individual. Jonah had no miraculous credentials to give; but he had himself been the subject of miracle. God might be said to have raised him from the dead. The evidence was that of a resurrection; this is sufficient to produce conviction.

1. We may declare that far more evidence was afforded to the Jews of the resurrection of Christ, than to the Ninevites of the resurrection of Jonah. They had the same sign with greater clearness. The preaching of the resurrection by the apostles exceeded immeasurably any evidence granted to the Ninevites of the entombment of Jonah.

2. Then think of what a contrast there was between Jonah, void of all power of proving his commission by miracles, and our Redeemer displaying in the streets of Jerusalem and on the coasts of Judea, authority over diseases and death. If a mere report of the miracle concerning Jonah overcame the Ninevites, what can be urged in defence of the Jews, who gave no heed to their Teacher though they beheld Him with their own eyes exercising miraculous powers?

3. How different were the messages which the two prophets delivered. Jonah brought nothing but tribulation; Christ merciful promises.

4. Jonah could not have shown any sympathy with those whose destruction he was commissioned to predict, for he was displeased that his prediction was not accomplished. But how different the deportment of Christ. He had to predict the desolation of a mighty capital; but He did it with burning tears. If the Ninevites gave heed to the prophet of wrath, how much more should the Jews to a messenger who would rejoice if repentance should turn away their woe.

II. THE PRACTICAL LESSON'S WHICH THE REFERENCE TO THE LAST JUDGMENT MAY HAVE BEEN INTENDED TO FURNISH. One man is, or one set of men are, summoned to give evidence against another at the judgment seat. The young man who died in his prime, the victim of his passions, will be tried as the sensualist. Who will give evidence? A father's voice will testify, "I warned him." The child will witness against the negligent parent. The faithful pastor will witness against the nominal Christian. The man of toil and poverty, who did good, will witness against the wealthy worldling. The heathen may witness against us.

(H. Melvill, B. D.)

1. Man shunning God's presence.

2. God's awful wrath in consequence of man's departure from Him.

3. The vain attempts made by man to propitiate an offended God.

4. The Divine method of propitiation by the death of Jesus Christ.

5. The triumph of Christ over death and hell.

(E. M. Goulburn, B.C. L.)

Three particulars in which the Jews were favoured above the Ninevites.

I. THEIR FORMER ADVANTAGES WERE GREATER. The Ninevites were idolaters; had no sacred history to rouse them to reflection; no law-giver like Moses; no judges like Samuel; no kings like David; no teachers like the prophets; no precious promises to inspire them with hope.

II. THE MESSENGER SENT TO THEM WAS MORE ENCOURAGING. Nineveh was only threatened with destruction. The Jews were urged to reform.

III. THE PREACHER WHO NOW ADDRESSED THEM WAS MORE WORTHY OF REGARD. Jonah was a man; had no compassion on Nineveh; wrought no miracle; had no power to forgive; suffered slightly; his example unworthy of imitation. Our privileges are greater than the Jews. "To whom much is given, of him much will be required."

(F. J. A.)

I. NINEVEH AND ITS SIN.

II. NINEVEH AND ITS REPENTANCE.

III. NINEVEH AND ITS TESTIMONY.

1. A past testimony. It speaks to us, and says, Repent.

2. A future testimony. Its inhabitants shall rise against us in the day of judgment.

(H. Bonar, D. D.)

I. There are different degrees of advantage, involving different amounts of responsibility.

II. Reluctant witness-bearing will be heard in the judgment of those the less advantaged in condemnation of the greater.

(W. M. Punshon, LL. D.)

I. The striking signification of his name. Jonah signifies dove — a striking emblem of the meek and gentle Jesus.

II. As a proclaimer of God's will to men.

III. In his sufferings and deliverance. Jonah, after all, very imperfectly typified Christ.

(Dr. Burns.)

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