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Sermon Podcast | Audio | Video : Christian Books : CI. Foretelling His Passion. Rebuking Ambition.

The Four-fold Gospel by J. W. McGarvey

CI. Foretelling His Passion. Rebuking Ambition.

(Peræa, or Judæa, Near the Jordan.)

^A Matt. XX.17-28; ^B Mark X.32-45; ^C Luke XVIII.31-34.

^b 32 And they were on the way, going up to Jerusalem [Dean Mansel sees in these words an evidence that Jesus had just crossed the Jordan and was beginning the actual ascent up to Jerusalem. If so, he was in Judæa. But such a construction strains the language. Jesus had been going up to Jerusalem ever since he started in Galilee, and he may now have still be in Peræa. The parable of the vineyard which closed the preceding section was likely to have been spoken before he crossed the Jordan, for Peræa abounded in vineyards]; and Jesus was going before them: and they were amazed; and they that followed were afraid. [When Jesus turned his face toward Jerusalem, his disciples dropped behind and hung back. The outer circle of his disciples knew enough not to be fearful of the consequences, and the inner circle, fully acquainted with the dangers, were amazed that he should dare to go thither. A short while before this they had despaired of his life when he had proposed to go even into Judæa (John xi.7-16), and his going at that time had not bettered the situation, but had, on the contrary, greatly increased the enmity and danger (John xi.47-57). Notwithstanding all this, Jesus was now on his way to Jerusalem itself, and was speaking no reassuring word as he formerly had done -- John xi.9, 10.] ^a 17 And as Jesus was going up to Jerusalem, he took ^b again ^c unto him ^a the twelve disciples apart [He separated them from the throng of pilgrims on the way to the Passover, and from the outer circle of the disciples, for it was not expedient that these should hear what he was about to reveal concerning his death. Such a revelation might have spurred his Galilæan friends to resist his arrest, and might have resulted in riot and bloodshed], ^b and began to tell them the things that were to happen unto him, ^a and on the way he said unto them, 18 Behold, we go up to Jerusalem; and the Son of man shall be delivered unto the chief priests and ^b the ^a scribes; and they shall condemn him to death, 19 and shall deliver him to the Gentiles to mock, and to scourge, and to crucify: ^b 34 and they shall mock him, and shall spit upon, and shall scourge him, and shall kill him; and three days he shall rise again. { ^a and the third day he shall be raised up.} ^c and all the things that are written through the prophets shall be accomplished unto the Son of man.32 For he shall be delivered up unto the Gentiles, and shall be mocked, and shamefully treated, and spit upon: 33 and they shall scourge and kill him: and the third day he shall rise again. [This was the third and by far the clearest and most circumstantial prophecy concerning his death. For the other two see pp.415 and 427. The details are minute even to the complicated arrangement by which the Jewish authorities pronounced sentence (Matt. xxvi.66) and forced Pilate to confirm the sentence (Luke xxiii.24). Since the evangelists honestly record an actual prediction, we may well pause to note how remarkable it is in that it gives seven details as follows: 1. Delivery or betrayal by Judas.2. Condemnation.3. Delivery to the Gentiles.4. Mocking and the manner of it.5. Scourging.6. Death by crucifixion.7. Resurrection on the third day. The announcement of these sufferings was made for the purpose of checking any materialistic hopes which the apostles might entertain as to the glories, honors, and offices of the Messianic reign. That such hopes were present is shown by the ambitious request which immediately follows. Moreover, to prepare them that they might not be crushed either by the announcement or the accomplishment of his death he gives them the clear promise of his resurrection.] 34 And they understood none of these things; and this saying was hid from them, and they perceived not the things that were said. [So fixed and ineradicable was their false conception of the Messianic reign that they could not believe that what Jesus said could be literally true (Matt. xvi.22). Only later did the full significance of his saying dawn upon them -- John xii.16-xiv.26.] ^b 35 And there ^a 20 Then came { ^b come} near unto him ^a the mother of the sons of Zebedee with her sons, ^b James and John, ^a worshipping him, [giving him homage as a coming ruler, not worshiping him as a divine being], and asking a certain thing of him. ^b saying unto him, Teacher, we would that thou shouldest do for us whatsoever we shall ask of thee. [Zebedee's wife was named was Salome. See note on p.225. They were ashamed of the selfish ambition of their request, and betrayed that fact by desiring Christ to grant it without hearing it. For a similar petition, see I. Kings ii.19, 20. They asked through their mother, thinking that Jesus would be more likely to favor her than themselves.] ^a 21 And he said unto her, { ^b them,} ^a What wouldest thou? ^b What would ye that I should do for you? [Though Jesus knew what they wished, he required them to state it plainly and specifically, that their self-seeking might be clearly exposed and properly rebuked.] ^a She saith unto him, Command that these my two sons may sit, one on thy right hand, and on on thy left hand, in thy kingdom. ^b 37 And they said unto him, Grant unto us that we may sit, one on thy right hand, and one on thy left hand, in thy glory. [In the previous section Jesus had spoken about the thrones to be occupied by the apostles. The sons of Zebedee, presuming on their high standing among the apostles, and their near relationship to Jesus, were emboldened to ask for special seats of honor among the promised thrones -- the seats to the right and left of the sovereign being next to his in dignity and consideration; thus Josephus represents Saul as seated with Jonathan on his right hand and Abner on his left. The terms |kingdom| and |glory| are here used synonymously. Despite the fact that Jesus was now telling them plainly of his death, these apostles could not rid their minds of the delusion that he was about to ascend the earthly throne of David.] ^a 22 But Jesus answered and said, ^b unto them, Ye know not what ye ask. Are ye able to drink of the cup that I drink? { ^a that I am about to drink?} ^b or to be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with? [The word |cup| among the Hebrews meant a portion assigned (Ps. xvi.5; xxiii.5), whether of pleasure or of sorrow. But the idea of sorrow usually predominated (Matt. xxvi.39, 42; Rev. xiv.10; xvi.19; xviii.6; Ps. lxxv.8; Isa. li.17; Jer. xxv.15). To be baptized with suffering means to be overwhelmed with it, a metaphorical use of the word arising from the fact that it means an immersion. This metaphorical use of baptism aids us to understand the meaning of that word, for neither sprinkling nor pouring could have suggested the overpowering force which the metaphor implies. Alford distinguishes between cup and baptism, making the former refer to inward spiritual suffering, and the latter to outer persecution and trial.] 39 And they said { ^a say} unto him, We are able. ^b And Jesus said { ^a saith} unto them, My { ^b The} cup that I drink ^a indeed ye shall drink: ^b and with the baptism that I am baptized withal shall ye be baptized [They probably thought that Jesus referred to some battle or conflict which would attend the ushering in of the kingdom, and as they were not wanting in physical courage, they were ready enough to pledge themselves to endure it. They spoke with unwarranted self-confidence, but Jesus rebuked them very gently, as he foreknew what suffering they would indeed endure. James was the first apostolic martyr (Acts xii.2), and John's spirit was sorely troubled with the conflict of error, as his epistles show, and his last days were darkened by the shadow of persecution -- Rev. i.9]: 40 but to sit on my right hand or { ^a and} on my left hand, is not mine to give; ^b but it is for them for whom it hath been prepared. ^a of my Father. [Future rewards are indeed meted out by the hand of Christ (II. Tim. iv.8; Rev. ii.10, 17, 26, 28; iii.12, 21, et al.), but they are not distributed according to caprice or favoritism, but according to the will of the Father and the rules which he has established. Jesus proceeds to set forth the principles by which places of honor are obtained in his kingdom.] 24 And when the ten heard it, they were { ^b began to be} ^a moved with indignation concerning the two brethren. ^b James and John 42 And { ^a but} Jesus called them unto him, and said { ^b saith} unto them, Ye know that they who are accounted to rule over { ^a the rulers of} the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority upon them.26 Not so shall it be { ^b 43 But it is not so} among you: but whosoever would become great among you, shall be your minister; 44 and whosoever would be first among you, ^a shall be your servant: ^b shall be servant of all. [The ten, sharing the same ambition as the two, jealously resented their efforts to take unfair advantage of the Lord's known affection for them. To restore peace among them, and to correct their false views, he draws the distinction between the worldly greatness to which they aspired, and the spiritual greatness which they ought to have sought. In an earthly kingdom honor and authority measure greatness, but in Christ's kingdom it is measured by humility and service. Jesus added power to his rebuke by showing them that their spirit was not even Jewish, but altogether heathenish.] 45 For { ^a 28 even as} ^b the Son of man also came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many. [He enforces this lesson by his own example in that he came to serve men and not to have them serve him. Jesus could ever refer to himself as the best example of the virtues which he taught. Since honor consists in being like the King, the highest honor consists in being most like him. The closing words state the vicarious nature of Christ's suffering as plainly as language can express it. The ransom is offered for all (I. Tim. ii.6), and will be efficacious for as many as accept it. The words are nearly a reproduction of the words of Isaiah -- Isa. liii.12 .]

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