|<< Luke 18 >>|
1. And he spake also a parable to them, that they ought always to pray, and not to grow weary: 2. Saying, There was a judge in a city, who neither feared God, nor regarded man. 3. And there was a widow in that city, who came to him, saying, Do me justice on my adversary. 4. And he refused for some time,  but afterwards said within himself, Though I neither fear God, nor regard man, 5. Yet because this widow is troublesome to me,  I will do her justice, lest by coming perpetually she weary me out.  6. And the Lord said, Hear what the unjust judge saith. 7. And will not God avenge his elect, who cry to him night and day, even though he forbear with respect to them?  8. I tell you that he will speedily avenge them. But when the Son of man shall come, will he find faith on the earth? 
We know that perseverance in prayer is a rare and difficult attainment; and it is a manifestation of our unbelief that, when our first prayers are not successful, we immediately throw away not only hope, but all the ardor of prayer. But it is an undoubted evidence of our Faith, if we are disappointed of our wish, and yet do not lose courage. Most properly, therefore, does Christ recommend to his disciples to persevere in praying.
The parable which he employs, though apparently harsh, was admirably fitted to instruct his disciples, that they ought to be importunate in their prayers to God the Father, till they at length draw from him what He would otherwise appear to be unwilling to give. Not that by our prayers we gain a victory over God, and bend him slowly and reluctantly to compassion, but because the actual facts do not all at once make it evident that he graciously listens to our prayers. In the parable Christ describes to us a widow, who obtained what she wanted from an unjust and cruel judge, because she did not cease to make earnest demands. The leading truth conveyed is, that God does not all at once grant assistance to his people, because he chooses to be, as it were, wearied out by prayers; and that, however wretched and despicable may be the condition of those who pray to him, yet if they do not desist from the uninterrupted exercise of prayer, he will at length regard them and relieve their necessities.
The parties between whom the comparison is drawn are, indeed, by no means equal; for there is a wide difference between a wicked and cruel man and God, who is naturally inclined to mercy. But Christ intended to assure believers that they have no reason to fear lest their persevering entreaties to the Father of mercy should be refused, since by importunate supplication they prevail on men who are given to cruelty. The wicked and iron-hearted judge could not avoid yielding at length, though reluctantly, to the earnest solicitations of the widow: how then shall the prayers of believers, when perseveringly maintained, be without effect? If exhaustion and weakness are felt by us when we give way after a slight exertion, or if the ardor of prayer languishes because God appears to lend a deaf ear, let us rest assured of our ultimate success, though it may not be immediately apparent. Entertaining this conviction, let us contend against our impatience, so that the long delay may not induce us to discontinue our prayers.
7. And shall not God avenge his elect? That judge, whom Christ has described to us as altogether desperate, as not only hardened against the contemplation of God, but so entirely devoid of shame, that he had no anxiety about his reputation, at length opened his eyes to the distresses of the widow We have no reason to doubt that believers will derive, at least, equal advantage from their prayers, provided they do not cease to plead earnestly with God. Yet it must be observed that, while Christ applies the parable to his subject, he does not make God to resemble a wicked and cruel judge, but points out a very different reason why those who believe in him are kept long in suspense, and why he does not actually and at once stretch out his hand to them: it is because he forbears If at any time God winks at the injuries done to us longer than we would wish, let us know that this is done with a fatherly intention--to train us to patience. A temporary overlooking of crimes is very different from allowing them to remain for ever unpunished. The promise which he makes, that God will speedily avenge them, must be referred to his providence; for our hasty tempers and carnal apprehension lead us to conclude that he does not come quickly enough to grant relief. But if we could penetrate into his design, we would learn that his assistance is always ready and seasonable, as the case demands, and is not delayed for a single moment, but comes at the exact time.
But it is asked, How does Christ instruct his disciples to seek vengeance, while he exhorts them on another occasion, pray for those who injure and persecute you, (Matthew 5:44.) I:reply: what Christ says here about vengeance does not at all interfere with his former doctrine. God declares that he will avenge believers, not for the purpose of giving a loose rein to their carnal affections, but in order to convince them that their salvation is dear and precious in his sight, and in this manner to induce them to rely on his protection. If, laying aside hatred, pure and free from every wicked desire of revenge, and influenced by proper and well-regulated dispositions, they implore divine assistance, it will be a lawful and holy wish, and God himself will listen to it. But as nothing is more difficult than to divest ourselves of sinful affections, if we would offer pure and sincere prayers, we must ask the Lord to guide and direct our hearts by his Spirit. Then shall we lawfully call on God to be our avenger, and he will answer our prayers.
8. When the Son of man shall come. By these words Christ informs us that there will be no reason to wonder if men shall afterwards sink under their calamities: it will be because they neglect the true remedy. He intended to obviate an offense which we are daily apt to take, when we see all things in shameful confusion. Treachery, cruelty, imposture, deceit, and violence, abound on every hand; there is no regard to justice, and no shame; the poor groan under their oppressors; the innocent are abused or insulted; while God appears to be asleep in heaven. This is the reason why the flesh imagines that the government of fortune is blind. But Christ here reminds us that men are justly deprived of heavenly aid, on which they have neither knowledge nor inclination to place reliance. They who do nothing but murmur against the Lord in their hearts, and who allow no place for his providence, cannot reasonably expect that the Lord will assist them.
Shall he find faith on the earth? Christ expressly foretells that, from his ascension to heaven till his return, unbelievers will abound; meaning by these words that, if the Redeemer does not so speedily appear, the blame of the delay will attach to men, because there will be almost none to look for him. Would that we did not behold so manifest a fulfillment of this prediction! But experience proves that though the world is oppressed and overwhelmed by a huge mass of calamities, there are few indeed in whom the least spark of faith can be discerned. Others understand the word faith to denote uprightness, but the former meaning is more agreeable to the context.
 "Et par un temps il n'en voulut rien faire;" -- "and for a time he would do nothing in it."
 "Pourtant que ceste vefue me donne fascherie;" --"because this widow gives me annoyance."
 "Et me rompe la teste.".
 "Combien qu'il il differe de se courroucer pour eux; ou, et aura-il patience quant a eux?" -- "Though he delay to be offended on their account; or, and will he have patience in reference to them?"
 "Pensez-vous qu'il trouve foy en terre?" -- "Do you think that he will find faith on the earth?"
9. And he spoke also this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others: 10. Two men went up into the temple to pray; the one a Pharisee, and the other a publican. 11. The Pharisee standing  prayed these things within himself: God, I thank thee that I am not as other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterous, or even as this publican. 12. I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess. 13. And the publican standing at a distance, did not even wish to raise his eyes towards heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, Lord, be reconciled to me a sinner. 14. I say to you, this man went down into his house justified rather than the other; for every one that exalteth himself shall be humbled, and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted.
Christ now gives directions about another virtue, which is necessary to acceptable prayer. Believers must not come into the presence of God but with humility and abasement. No disease is more dangerous than arrogance; and yet all have it so deeply fixed in the marrow of their bones, that it can scarcely be removed or extirpated by any remedy. It is no doubt strange that men should be so mad as to venture to raise their crests against God, and to plead their own merits before him. Though men are carried away by their ambition, yet when we come into the presence of God, all presumption ought to be laid aside; and yet every man thinks that he has sufficiently humbled himself, if he only presents a hypocritical prayer for forgiveness. Hence we infer that this warning which our Lord gives was far from being unnecessary.
There are two faults at which Christ glances, and which he intended to condemn, -- wicked confidence in ourselves, and the pride of despising brethren, the one of which springs out of the other. It is impossible that he who deceives himself with vain confidence should not lift himself up above his brethren. Nor is it wonderful that it should be so; for how should that man not despise his equals, who vaunts against God himself? Every man that is puffed up with self-confidence carries on open war with God, to whom we cannot be reconciled in any other way than by denial of ourselves; that is, by laying aside all confidence in our own virtue and righteousness, and relying on his mercy alone.
10. Two men went up. Christ makes a comparison between the two men, both of whom, by going up to pray, seem to manifest the same ardor of piety, while yet they are exceedingly unlike. The Pharisee, possessing outward sanctity, approaches to God with a commendation which he pronounces on his whole life, and as if he had an undoubted right to offer the sacrifice of praise. The publican, on the other hand, as if he had been some outcast, and knew that he was unworthy to approach, presents himself with trembling and with humble confession. Christ affirms that the Pharisee was rejected, and that the prayers of the publican were acceptable to God. The reasons why the Pharisee was rejected are stated to be these two: he trusted in himself that he was righteous, and despised others
11. God, I thank thee. And yet he is not blamed for boasting of the strength of his free-will, but for trusting that God was reconciled to him by the merits of his works. For this thanksgiving, which is presented exclusively in his own name, does not at all imply that he boasted of his own virtue, as if he had obtained righteousness from himself, or merited any thing by his own industry. On the contrary, he ascribes it to the grace of God that he is righteous. Now though his thanksgiving to God implies an acknowledgment, that all the good works which he possessed were purely the gift of God, yet as he places reliance on works, and prefers himself to others, himself and his prayer are alike rejected. Hence we infer that men are not truly and properly humbled, though they are convinced that they can do nothing, unless they likewise distrust the merits of works, and learn to place their salvation in the undeserved goodness of God, so as to rest upon it all their confidence.
This is a remarkable passage; for some think it enough if they take from man the glory of good works, so far as they are the gifts of the Holy Spirit; and accordingly they admit that we are justified freely, because God finds in us no righteousness but what he bestowed. But Christ goes farther, not only ascribing to the grace of the Spirit the power of acting aright, but stripping us of all confidence in works; for the Pharisee is not blamed on the ground of claiming for himself what belongs to God, but because he trusts to his works, that God will be reconciled to him, because he deserves it. Let us therefore know that, though a man may ascribe to God the praise of works, yet if he imagines the righteousness of those works to be the cause of his salvation, or rests upon it, he is condemned for wicked arrogance. And observe, that he is not charged with the vainglorious ambition of those who indulge in boasting before men, while they are inwardly conscious of their own wickedness, but is charged with concealed hypocrisy; for he is not said to have been the herald of his own praises, but to have prayed silently within himself. Though he did not proclaim aloud the honor of his own righteousness, his internal pride was abominable in the sight of God. His boasting consists of two parts: first, he acquits himself of that guilt in which all men are involved; and, secondly, he brings forward his virtues. He asserts that he is not as other men, because he is not chargeable with crimes which everywhere prevail in the world.
12. I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess. This is equivalent to saying that he performed more than the law required; just as the Popish monks talk loftily of their works of supererogation, as if they found no great difficulty in fulfilling the law of God. It must be admitted that each of us, according to the measure of the virtues which God has bestowed upon him, is the more strongly bound to thank the Author of them; and that it is an exercise of holy meditation for each of us to ponder on the benefits which he has received, so as not to bury in ingratitude the kindness of God. But there are two things here that must be observed: we must not swell with confidence, as if we had satisfied God; and, next, we must not look down with disdainful contempt upon our brethren. In both respects the Pharisee erred; for, by falsely claiming righteousness for himself, he left nothing to the mercy of God; and, next, he despised all others in comparison of himself. And, indeed, that thanksgiving would not have been disapproved by Christ, if it had not labored under these two defects;  but as the proud hypocrite, by winking at his sins, met the justice of God with a pretense of complete and perfect righteousness, his wicked and detestable hardihood could not but make him fall. For the only hope of the godly, so long as they labor under the weakness of the flesh, is, after acknowledging what is good in them,  to betake themselves to the mercy of God alone, and to rest their salvation on prayer for forgiveness. 
But it may be asked, how did this man, who was blinded by wicked pride, maintain such sanctity of life; for such integrity proceeds only from the Spirit of God, who, we are certain, does not reign in hypocrites? I:reply: he trusted only to outward appearance, as if the hidden and inward uncleanness of the heart would not be taken into the account. Though he was full of wicked desires within, yet as he looks only at the appearance, he boldly maintains his innocence.
Our Lord does not, indeed, accuse him of vanity, in falsely claiming for himself what he does not possess; but it ought to be believed that no man is pure from extortion, injustice, uncleanness, and other vices, unless he is governed by the Spirit of God.
The word Sabbath (sabbaton) denotes in this passage, as in many others, a week But God never enjoined in the Law that his servants should fast every week; so that this fasting and the tithes were voluntary exercises beyond the prescriptions of the Law. 
13. The publican standing at a distance. Here Christ did not intend to lay down a general rule, as if it were necessary, whenever we pray, to cast down our eyes to the ground. He merely describes the tokens of humility, which alone he recommends to his disciples. Now humility lies in not refusing to acknowledge our sins, but condemning ourselves, and thus anticipating the judgment of God; and, with the view of being reconciled to God, in making an honest confession of guilt. Such, too, is the cause of that shame which always accompanies repentance; for Christ insists chiefly on this point, that the publican sincerely acknowledged himself to be miserable and lost, and fled to the mercy of God. Though he is a sinner, he trusts to a free pardon, and hopes that God will be gracious to him. In a word, in order to obtain favor, he owns that he does not deserve it. And, certainly, since it is the forgiveness of sins that alone reconciles God to us,  we must begin with this, if we desire that he would accept our prayers. He who acknowledges that he is guilty and convicted, and then proceeds to implore pardon, disavows all confidence in works; and Christ's object was to show that God will not be gracious to any but those who betake themselves with trembling to his mercy alone. 
14. This man went down justified. The comparison is not exact; for Christ does not merely assign to the publican a certain degree of superiority, as if righteousness had belonged alike to both, but means that the publican was accepted by God, while the Pharisee was totally rejected. And this passage shows plainly what is the strict meaning of the word justified: it means, to stand before God as if we were righteous. For it is not said that the publican was justified, because he suddenly acquired some new quality, but that he obtained grace, because his guilt was blotted out, and his sins were washed away. Hence it follows, that righteousness consists in the forgiveness of sins. As the virtues of the Pharisee were defiled and polluted by unfounded confidence, so that his integrity, which deserved commendation before the world, was of no value in the sight of God; so the publican, relying on no merits of works, obtained righteousness solely by imploring pardon,  because he had no other ground of hope than the pure mercy of God.
But it may be thought absurd, that all should be reduced to the same level, since the purity of saints is widely different from that of the publican I:reply: whatever proficiency any man may have made in the worship of God and in true holiness, yet if he consider how far he is still deficient, there is no other form of prayer which he can properly use than to begin with the acknowledgment of guilt; for though some are more, and others less, yet all are universally guilty. We cannot doubt, therefore, that Christ now lays down a rule for all to this effect, that God will not be pacified towards us, unless we distrust works, and pray that we may be freely reconciled. And, indeed, the Papists are compelled to acknowledge this in part, but immediately afterwards they debase this doctrine by a wicked invention. They admit that all need the remedy of forgiveness, because no man is perfect; but they first intoxicate wretched men with reliance on what they call imperfect righteousness, and next add satisfactions, in order to blot out their guilt. But our faith needs no other support than this, that God has accepted us, not because we deserved it, but because he does not impute our sins.
 "Le Pharisien se tenant l'a;" -- "the Pharisee standing there."
 "Si ces deux vices n'y estoyent, qui gastent tout;" -- "if those two faults had not been in it, which spoil the whole."
 "Apres avoir recognu le bien qui est en eux par la grace de Dieu;" -- "after having acknowledged the good that is in them by the grace of God."
 "Et mettre leur salut en la confession de leurs pechez, et remission d'iceux;" -- "and to place their salvation in the confession of their sins, and forgiveness of them."
 "Estoyent des exercises volontaires, et inventez a plaisir;" -- "were voluntary exercises, and invented at pleasure."
 "Qui nous rende agreables a Dieu;" -- "which renders us acceptable to God."
 "Qui tremblans a cause d'un vray sentiment de leur pechez, recourront a sa seule misericorde;" --"who, trembling on account of a true conviction of their sins, shall have recourse to his mercy alone."
 "Seulement en confessant sa faute, et demandant pardon;"-- "solely by confessing his faults and asking pardon."
13. Then were presented to him children, that he might lay hands on them and pray; but the disciples rebuked them. 14. And Jesus said to them, Suffer children, and forbid them not, to come to me; for of such is the kingdom of heaven. 15. And when he had laid hands on them, he departed thence.
13. And they brought to him children, that he might touch them; but the disciples rebuked those who presented them. 14. And when Jesus saw it, he was displeased, and said to them, Suffer children to come to me, and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of heaven. 15. Verily I say to you, Whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a child shall not enter into it. 16. And when he had taken them in his arms, he laid hands on them, and blessed them.
15. And they presented to him also infants, that he might touch them; which, when the disciples saw, they rebuked them. 16. But Jesus, when he had called them to him, said, Suffer children to come to me, and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of God. 17. Verily I say to you, Whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a child shall not enter into it.
This narrative is highly useful; for it shows that Christ receives not only those who, moved by holy desire and faith, freely approach to him, but those who are not yet of age to know how much they need his grace. Those little children have not yet any understanding to desire his blessing; but when they are presented to him, he gently and kindly receives them, and dedicates them to the Father  by a solemn act of blessing. We must observe the intention of those who present the children; for if there had not been a deep-rooted conviction in their minds, that the power of the Spirit was at his disposal, that he might pour it out on the people of God, it would have been unreasonable to present their children. There is no room, therefore, to doubt, that they ask for them a participation of his grace; and so, by way of amplification, Luke adds the particle also; as if he had said that, after they had experienced the various ways in which he assisted adults, they formed an expectation likewise in regard to children, that, if he laid hands on them, they would not leave him without having received some of the gifts of the Spirit. The laying on of hands (as we have said on a former occasion) was an ancient and well known sign of blessing; and so there is no reason to wonder, if they desire that Christ, while employing that solemn ceremony, should pray for the children At the same time, as the inferior are blessed by the better, (Hebrews 7:7,) they ascribe to him the power and honor of the highest Prophet.
Matthew 19:13. But the disciples rebuked them. If a crown  had been put on his head, they would have admitted it willingly, and with approbation; for they did not yet comprehend his actual office. But they reckon it unworthy of his character to receive children; and their error wanted not plausibility; for what has the highest Prophet and the Son of God to do with infants? But hence we learn, that they who judge of Christ according to the feeling of their flesh are unfair judges; for they constantly deprive him of his peculiar excellencies, and, on the other hand, ascribe, under the appearance of honor, what does not at all belong to him. Hence arose an immense mass of superstitions, which presented to the world a fancied Christ.  And therefore let us learn not to think of him otherwise than what himself teaches, and not to assign to him a character different from what he has received from the Father. We see what happened with Popery. They thought that they were conferring a great honor on Christ, if they bowed down before a small piece of bread; but in the sight of God it was an offensive abomination. Again, because they did not think it sufficiently honorable to him to perform the office of an Advocate for us, they made for themselves innumerable intercessors; but in this way they deprived him of the honor of Mediator.
14. Suffer children. He declares that he wishes to receive children; and at length, taking them in his arms, he not only embraces, but blesses them by the laying on of hand; from which we infer that his grace is extended even to those who are of that age. And no wonder; for since the whole race of Adam is shut up under the sentence of death, all from the least even to the greatest must perish, except those who are rescued by the only Redeemer. To exclude from the grace of redemption those who are of that age would be too cruel; and therefore it is not without reason that we employ this passage as a shield against the Anabaptists. They refuse baptism to infants, because infants are incapable of understanding that mystery which is denoted by it. We, on the other hand, maintain that, since baptism is the pledge and figure of the forgiveness of sins, and likewise of adoption by God, it ought not to be denied to infants, whom God adopts and washes with the blood of his Son. Their objection, that repentance and newness of life are also denoted by it, is easily answered. Infants are renewed by the Spirit of God, according to the capacity of their age, till that power which was concealed within them grows by degrees, and becomes fully manifest at the proper time. Again, when they argue that there is no other way in which we are reconciled to God, and become heirs of adoption, than by faith, we admit this as to adults, but, with respect to infants, this passage demonstrates it to be false. Certainly, the laying on of hands was not a trifling or empty sign, and the prayers of Christ were not idly wasted in air. But he could not present the infants solemnly to God without giving them purity. And for what did he pray for them, but that they might be received into the number of the children of God? Hence it follows, that they were renewed by the Spirit to the hope of salvation. In short, by embracing them, he testified that they were reckoned by Christ among his flock. And if they were partakers of the spiritual gifts, which are represented by Baptism, it is unreasonable that they should be deprived of the outward sign. But it is presumption and sacrilege to drive far from the fold of Christ those whom he cherishes in his bosom, and to shut the door, and exclude as strangers those whom he does not wish to be forbidden to come to him
For of such is the kingdom of heaven. Under this term he includes both little children and those who resemble them; for the Anabaptists foolishly exclude children, with whom the subject must have commenced; but at the same time, taking occasion from the present occurrence, he intended to exhort his disciples to lay aside malice and pride, and put on the nature of children Accordingly, it is added by Mark and Luke, that no man can enter into the kingdom of heaven unless he be made to resemble a child. But we must attend to Paul's admonition,
not to be children in understanding, but in malice, (1 Corinthians 14:20.)
 "A Dieu son Pere;" -- "to God his Father."
 "Une couronne royale;" -- "a royal crown."
 "Un Christ faict a la fantasie des hommes;" -- "a Christ made according to the fancy of men."
16. And, lo, one came and said to him, Good Master, what good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life? 17. Who said to him, Why callest thou me good? There is none good but God alone?  but if thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments. 18. He saith to him, Which? And Jesus said, Thou shalt not murder, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness, 19 Honor thy father and mother: and, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. 20. The young man saith to him, All these things have I kept from my youth: what do I still want? 21. Jesus saith to him, If thou wilt be perfect, go sell what thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have a treasure in heaven; and come, follow me. 22. And when the young man heard that saying, he went away sorrowful; for he had many possessions. 
17. And as he was going out into the road, one ran, and, when he had kneeled down, asked him, Good Master, what shall I do, that I may obtain eternal life? 18. And Jesus said to him, Why callest thou me good? There is none good but God alone. 19. Thou knowest the commandments, Do not commit adultery, Do not kill, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Defraud not, Honor thy father and mother. 20. But he answering said to him, Master, all these things have I kept from my youth. 21. And Jesus, beholding him, loved him, and said to him, Thou art in want of one thing, go sell what thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have a treasure in heaven; and come, follow me, taking the cross on thy shoulders. 22. But he, affected with uneasiness on account of the saying, went away sorrowful; for he had many possessions.
18. And a certain ruler asked him, saying, Good Master, what shall I do, that I may obtain eternal life? 19. And Jesus said to him, Why callest thou me good? None is good but God alone. 20. Thou knowest the commandments, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not kill, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness. Honor thy father and thy mother. 21. And he said, All these things have I kept from my youth. 22. Having heard this, Jesus said to him, Yet one thing thou wantest; sell all that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have a treasure in heaven; and come, follow me. 23. Having heard these things, he was grieved; for he was very rich.
Matthew 19:16. And, lo, one. Luke says that he was a ruler, (archon,) that is, a man of very high authority, not one of the common people.  And though riches procure respect,  yet he appears to be here represented to have been held in high estimation as a good man. For my own part, after weighing all the circumstances, I have no doubt that, though he is called a young man, he belonged to the class of those who upheld the integrity of the Elders, by a sober and regular life.  He did not come treacherously, as the scribes were wont to do, but from a desire of instruction; and, accordingly, both by words and by kneeling, he testifies his reverence for Christ as a faithful teacher. But, on the other hand, a blind confidence in his works hindered him from profiting under Christ, to whom, in other respects, he wished to be submissive. Thus, in our own day, we find some who are not ill-disposed, but who, under the influence of I know not what shadowy holiness,  hardly relish the doctrine of the Gospel.
But, in order to form a more correct judgment of the meaning of the answer, we must attend to the form of the question. He does not simply ask how and by what means he shall reach life, but what good thing he shall do, in order to obtain it. He therefore dreams of merits, on account of which he may receive eternal life as a reward due; and therefore Christ appropriately sends him to the keeping of the law, which unquestionably is the way of life, as I shall explain more fully afterwards.
17. Why callest thou me good? I do not understand this correction in so refined a sense as is given by a good part of interpreters, as if Christ intended to suggest his Divinity; for they imagine that these words mean, "If thou perceivest in me nothing more exalted than human nature, thou falsely appliest to me the epithet good, which belongs to God alone." I do acknowledge that, strictly speaking, men and even angels do not deserve so honorable a title; because they have not a drop of goodness in themselves, but borrowed from God; and because in the former, goodness is only begun, and is not perfect. But Christ had no other intention than to maintain the truth of his doctrine; as if he had said, "Thou falsely callest me a good Master, unless thou acknowledgest that I have come from God." The essence of his Godhead, therefore, is not here maintained, but the young man is directed to admit the truth of the doctrine. He had already felt some disposition to obey; but Christ wishes him to rise higher, that he may hear God speaking. For -- as it is customary with men to make angels of those who are devils -- they indiscriminately give the appellation of good teachers to those in whom they perceive nothing divine; but those modes of speaking are only profanations of the gifts of God. We need not wonder, therefore, if Christ, in order to maintain the authority of his doctrine, directs the young man to God.
Keep the commandments. This passage was erroneously interpreted by some of the ancients, whom the Papists have followed, as if Christ taught that, by beeping the law, we may merit eternal life On the contrary, Christ did not take into consideration what men can do, but replied to the question, What is the righteousness of works? or, What does the Law require? And certainly we ought to believe that God comprehended in his law the way of living holily and righteously, in which righteousness is included; for not without reason did Moses make this statement,
He that does these things shall live in them, (Leviticus 18:5;)
I call heaven and earth to witness that l have
this day showed you life, (Deuteronomy 30:19.)
We have no right, therefore, to deny that the keeping of the law is righteousness, by which any man who kept the law perfectly -- if there were such a man -- would obtain life for himself. But as we are all destitute of the glory of God, (Romans 3:23,) nothing but cursing will be found in the law; and nothing remains for us but to betake ourselves to the undeserved gift of righteousness. And therefore Paul lays down a twofold righteousness, the righteousness of the law, (Romans 10:5,) and the righteousness of faith, (Romans 10:6.) He makes the first to consist in works, and the second, in the free grace of Christ.
Hence we infer, that this reply of Christ is legal, because it was proper that the young man who inquired about the righteousness of works should first be taught that no man is accounted righteous before God unless he has fulfilled the law,  (which is impossible,) that, convinced of his weakness, he might betake himself to the assistance of faith. I acknowledge, therefore, that, as God has promised the reward of eternal life to those who keep his law, we ought to hold by this way, if the weakness of our flesh did not prevent; but Scripture teaches us, that it is through our own fault that it becomes necessary for us to receive as a gift what we cannot obtain by works. If it be objected, that it is in vain to hold out to us the righteousness which is in the law, (Romans 10:5,) which no man will ever be able to reach, I reply, since it is the first part of instruction, by which we are led to the righteousness which is obtained by prayer, it is far from being superfluous; and, therefore, when Paul says, that the doers of the law are justified, (Romans 2:13,) he excludes all from the righteousness of the law.
This passage sets aside all the inventions which the Papists have contrived in order to obtain salvation. For not only are they mistaken in wishing to lay God under obligation to them by their good works, to bestow salvation as a debt; but when they apply themselves to do what is right, they leave out of view the doctrine of the law, and attend chiefly to their pretended devotions, as they call them, not that they openly reject the law of God, but that they greatly prefer human traditions.  But what does Christ say? That the only worship of which God approves is that which he has prescribed; because obedience is better to him than all sacrifices,  (1 Samuel 15:22.) So then, while the Papists are employed in frivolous traditions, let every man who endeavors to regulate his life by obedience to Christ direct his whole attention to keep the commandments of the law.
18. Thou shalt not murder It is surprising that, though Christ intended to show that we are bound to obey the whole law, he should mention the second table only; but he did so, because from the duties of charity the disposition of every man is better ascertained. Piety towards God holds, no doubt, a higher rank;  but as the observation of the first table is often feigned by hypocrites, the second table is better adapted for making a scrutiny.  Let us know, therefore, that Christ selected those commandments in which is contained a proof of true righteousness; but by a synecdoche he takes a part for the whole. As to the circumstance of his placing that commandment last which speaks of honoring parents, it is of no consequence, for he paid no attention to the regular order. Yet it is worthy of notice, that this commandment is declared to belong to the second table, that no one may be led astray by the error of Josephus, who thought that it belonged to the first table.  What is added at the end, Thou shalt love thy neighbor, contains nothing different from the former commandments, but is, general explanation of them all.
The young man saith to him. The law must have been dead to him, when he vainly imagined that he was so righteous; for if he had not flattered himself through hypocrisy, it was an excellent advice to him to learn humility, to contemplate his spots and blemishes in the mirror of the law. But, intoxicated with foolish confidence, he fearlessly boasts that he has discharged his duty properly from his childhood. Paul acknowledges that the same thing happened to himself, that, so long as the power of the law was unknown to him, he believed that he was alive; but that, after he knew what the law could do, a deadly wound was inflicted on him, (Romans 7:9.) So the reply of Christ, which follows, was suited to the man's disposition. And yet Christ does not demand any thing beyond the commandments of the law, but, as the bare recital had not affected him, Christ employed other words for detecting the hidden disease of avarice.
I confess that we are nowhere commanded in the law to sell all; but as the design of the law is, to bring men to self-denial, and as it expressly condemns covetousness, we see that Christ had no other object in view than to correct the false conviction of the young man.  for if he had known himself thoroughly, as soon as he heard the mention of the law, he would have acknowledged that he was liable to the judgment of God; but now, when the bare words of the law do not sufficiently convince him of his guilt, the inward meaning is expressed by other words. If Christ now demanded any thing beyond the commandments of the law, he would be at variance with himself. He just now taught that perfect righteousness is comprehended in the commandments of the law: how then will it agree with this to charge the law with deficiency? Besides, the protestation of Moses, (Deuteronomy 30:15,) which I formerly quoted, would be false.
Mark 10:21. One thing thou wantest. Christ therefore does not mean that the young man wanted one Thing beyond the keeping of the law, but in the very keeping of the law. For though the law nowhere obliges us to sell all, yet as it represses all sinful desires, and teaches us to bear the cross, as it bids us be prepared for hunger and poverty, the young man is very far from keeping it fully, so long as he is attached to his riches, and burns with covetousness. And he says that one thing is wanting, because he does not need to preach to him about fornication and murder, but to point out a particular disease, as if he were laying his finger on the sore.
It ought also to be observed, that he does not only enjoin him to sell, but likewise to give to the poor; for to part with riches would not be in itself a virtue, but rather a vain ambition. Profane historians applaud Crates, a Theban, because he threw into the sea his money and all that he reckoned valuable; for he did not think that he could save himself unless his wealth were lost; as if it would not have been better to bestow on others what he imagined to be more than he needed. Certainly, as charity is the bond of perfection, (Colossians 3:14,) he who deprives others, along with himself, of the use of money, deserves no praise; and therefore Christ applauds not simply the selling but liberality in assisting the poor
The mortification of the flesh is still more strongly urged by Christ, when he says, Follow me. For he enjoins him not only to become his disciple, but to submit his shoulders to bear the cross, as Mark expressly states. And it was necessary that such an excitement should be applied; for, having been accustomed to the ease, and leisure and conveniences, of home, he had never experienced, in the smallest degree, what it was to crucify the old man, and to subdue the desires of the flesh. But it is excessively ridiculous in the monks, under the pretense of this passage, to claim for themselves state of perfection. First, it is easy to infer, that Christ does not command all without exception to sell all that they have; for the husbandman, who had been accustomed to live by his labor, and to support his children, would do wrong in selling his possession, if he were not constrained to it by any necessity. To keep what God has put in our power, provided that, by maintaining ourselves and our family in sober and frugal manner, we bestow some portion on the poor, is a greater virtue than to squander all. But what sort of thing is that famous selling, on which the monks plume themselves? A good part of them, finding no provision at home, plunge themselves into monasteries as well-stocked hog-styes. All take such good care of themselves, that they feed in idleness on the bread of others. A rare exchange truly, when those who are ordered to give to the poor what they justly possess are not satisfied with their own, but seize on the property of others.
Jesus beholding him, loved him. The inference which the Papists draw from this, that works morally good -- that is, works which are not performed by the impulse of the Spirit, but go before regeneration -- have the merit of congruity, is an excessively childish contrivance. For if merit be alleged to be the consequence of the love of God, we must then say that frogs and fleas have merit, because all the creatures of God, without exception, are the objects of his love. To distinguish the degrees of love is, therefore, a matter of importance.  As to the present passage, it may be enough to state briefly, that God embraces in fatherly love none but his children, whom he has regenerated with the Spirit of adoption, and that it is in consequence of this love that they are accepted at his tribunal. In this sense, to be loved by God, and to be justified in his sight, are synonymous terms. 
But God is sometimes said to love those whom he does not approve or justify; for, since the preservation of the human race is agreeable to Him -- which consists in justice, uprightness, moderation, prudence, fidelity, and temperance -- he is said to love the political virtues; not that they are meritorious of salvation or of grace, but that they have reference to an end of which he approves. In this sense, under various points of view, God loved Aristides and Fabricius, and also hated them; for, in so far as he had bestowed on them outward righteousness, and that for the general advantage, he loved his own work in them; but as their heart was impure, the outward semblance of righteousness was of no avail for obtaining righteousness. For we know that by faith alone hearts are purified, and that the Spirit of uprightness is given to the members of Christ alone. Thus the question is answered, How was it possible that Christ should love a man who was proud and a hypocrite, while nothing is more hateful to God than these two vices? For it is not inconsistent, that the good seed, which God has implanted in some natures, shall be loved by Him, and yet that He should reject their persons and works on account of corruption.
Matthew 19:22. He went away sorrowful. The result at length showed how widely distant the young man was from that perfection to which Christ had called him; for how comes it that he withdraws from the school of Christ, but because he finds it uneasy to be stripped of his riches? But if we are not prepared to endure poverty, it is manifest that covetousness reigns in us. And this is what I said at the outset, that the order which Christ gave, to sell all that he had, was not an addition to the law, but the scrutiny of a concealed vice.  For the more deeply a man is tainted by this or the other vice, the more strikingly will it be dragged forth to light by being reproved. We are reminded also by this example that, if we would persevere steadily in the school of Christ, we must renounce the flesh. This young man, who had brought both a desire to learn and modesty, withdrew from Christ, because it was hard to part with a darling vice. The same thing will happen to us, unless the sweetness of the grace of Christ render all the allurements of the flesh distasteful to us. Whether or not this temptation was temporary, so that the young man afterwards repented, we know not; but it may be conjectured with probability, that his covetousness kept him back from making any proficiency.
 "Il n'y a nul bon, sinon un seul, c'est Dieu:" -- "There is none good but one only, it is God."
 "Car il avoit beaucoup de richesses;" -- "for he had much wealth."
 "Que c'estoit un prince ou seigneur; c'est a dire, un homme d'estat et de grande authorite;" -- "that he was a prince or lord; that is to say, a man of rank and of great authority."
 "Combien que les richesses rendent un homme honorable au monde;" -- "though riches render a man honorable in the world."
 "Non point par trahison, et pour surprendre Christ;" -- "not by treachery, and to take Christ by surprise."
 "Pource qu'ils sont enveloppez de ie ne scay quelle ombre de sainctete;" -- "because they are covered by I know not what shadow of holiness."
 "Sinon qu'il ait accompli toute la loy de poinct en poinct;" -- "unless he has fulfilled all the law in every point."
 "D'autant qu'ils font bien plus grand cas de leurs traditions humaines, que des commandemens de Dieu;" -- "because they set far higher value on their human traditions than on the commandments of God."
 "Pource qu'il estime plus obeissance que tous les sacrifices du monde;" -- "because he esteems obedience more than all the sacrifices in the world."
 "Vray est qu'entre les commandemens ceux qui parlent de la recognoissance que nous devons a Dieu tienent le premier degre;" -- "it is true that, among the commandments, those which speak of the acknowledgment which we owe to God hold the first rank."
 "A faire examen pour cognoistre les personnes;" -- "to make a scrutiny for knowing persons."
 Josephus says that there were five on each table, from which it must be inferred, that he considered the Fifth commandment as belonging to the First Table. His words are: He showed them the two tables, with the ten commandments engraven upon them, Five upon each table; and the writin was by the hand of God. -- (Ant. 3. 6, 8.) -- Ed.
 "La fausse persuasion et presomption de ee ieune homme;" -- "the false conviction and presumption of this young man."
 "Parquoy il est besoin de mettre quelque distinction, et recognoistre qu'il y a divers degrez d'amour en Dieu;" -- "wherefore it is necessary to state some distinction, and to observe that there are various degrees of love in God."
 "Signifient du tout une mesme chose;" -- "mean entirely the same thing."
 "Que c'a este pour sonder et descouvrir un vice cache;" -- "that it was to search and discover a concealed vice."
23. And Jesus said to his disciples, Verily I say to you, A rich man will with difficulty enter into the kingdom of heaven. 24. Again I say to you, It is easier for a camel  to pass through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God. 25. And his disciples, when they had heard these things, were greatly amazed,  saying, Who then can be saved? 26. And Jesus, beholding them, said to them, With men this is impossible; but with God all things are possible.
23. And when Jesus had looked around, he said to his disciples, With what difficulty shall they who have riches enter into the kingdom of God! 24. And the disciples were astonished at his words. But Jesus again replying, said to them, Children, how difficult is it for those who have confidence in riches to enter into the kingdom of God! 25. It is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God. 26. And they wondered beyond measure, saying within themselves, And who can be saved? 27. And Jesus beholding them saith, With men it is impossible, but not with God: for all things are possible with God.
24. And Jesus, perceiving that he was sorrowful, said, With what difficulty shall they who have riches enter into the kingdom of God! 25. For it is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God. 26. And they that heard it said, And who can be saved?  27. But he said, The things which are impossible with men are possible with God.
Matthew 19:23. A rich man will with difficulty enter. Christ warns them, not only how dangerous and how deadly a plague avarice is, but also how great an obstacle is presented by riches. In Mark, indeed, he mitigates the harshness of his expression, by restricting it to those only who place confidence in riches But these words are, I think, intended to confirm, rather than correct, the former statement, as if he had affirmed that they ought not to think it strange, that he made the entrance into the kingdom of heaven so difficult for the rich, because it is an evil almost common to all to trust in their riches Yet this doctrine is highly useful to all; to the rich, that, being warned of their danger, they may be on their guard; to the poor, that, satisfied with their lot, they may not so eagerly desire what would bring more damage than gain. It is true indeed, that riches do not, in their own nature, hinder us from following God; but, in consequence of the depravity of the human mind, it is scarcely possible for those who have a great abundance to avoid being intoxicated by them. So they who are exceedingly rich are held by Satan bound, as it were, in chains, that they may not raise their thoughts to heaven; nay more, they bury and entangle themselves, and became utter slaves to the earth. The comparison of the camel., which is soon after added, is intended to amplify the difficulty; for it means that the rich are so swelled with pride and presumption, that they cannot endure to be reduced to the straits through which God makes his people to pass. The word camel denotes, I think, a rope used by sailors, rather than the animal so named. 
25. And his disciples, when they heard these things, were greatly amazed. The disciples are astonished, because it ought to awaken in us no little anxiety, that riches obstruct the entrance into the kingdom of God; for, wherever we turn our eyes, a thousand obstacles will present themselves. But let us observe that, while they were struck with astonishment, they did not shrink from the doctrines of Christ. The case was different with him who was lately mentioned; for he was so much alarmed by the severity of the commandment, that he separated from Christ; while they, though trembling, and inquiring, who can be saved? do not break off in an opposite direction, but are desirous to conquer despair. Thus it will be of service to us to tremble at the threatenings of God: whenever he denounces any thing that is gloomy or dreadful, provided that our minds are not discouraged, but rather aroused.
26. With men this is impossible. Christ does not entirely free the minds of his disciples from all anxiety; for it is proper that they should perceive how difficult it is to ascend to heaven; first, that they may direct all their efforts to this object; and next, that, distrusting themselves, they may implore strength from heaven. We see how great is our indolence and carelessness; and what the consequence would be if believers thought that they had to walk at ease, for pastime, along a smooth and cheerful plain. Such is the reason why Christ does not extenuate the danger -- though he perceives the terror which it excited in his disciples -- but rather increases it; for though formerly he said only that it was difficult, he now affirms it to be impossible Hence it is evident, that those teachers are guilty of gross impropriety, who are so much afraid to speak harshly, that they give indulgence to the slothfulness of the flesh. They ought to follow, on the contrary, the rule of Christ, who so regulates his style that, after men have been bowed down within themselves, he teaches them to rely on the grace of God alone, and, at the same time, excites them to prayer. In this manner, the weakness of men is seasonably relieved, not by ascribing anything to them, but by arousing their minds to expect the grace of God. By this reply of Christ is also refuted that widely embraced principle -- which the Papists have borrowed from Jerome -- "Whoever shall say that it is impossible to keep the law, let him be accursed. "For Christ plainly declares, that it is not possible for men to keep the way of salvation, except so far as the grace of God assists them.
 "Il est plus facile qu'un Chable passe;" -- "it is easier for a CABLE to pass."
 "S'estonnerent grandement;" -- "were greatly astonished."
 "Qui pent donc estre sauve?" -- "Who can then be saved?"
 "Vray est que le mot CAMELUS, dont a use l'Evangeliste, significant un chameau qu'un chable: mats i'aime mieux le prendre en la derniere signification pour une grosse carde de nayire." -- "It is true that the word kamelos which the Evangelist has employed, means both a camel and a cable; but I prefer taking it in the latter signification for a large rope used by sailors." The two English words camel and cable closely resemble each other, and the corresponding Greek words differ only by a single vowel; kamelos, denoting a camel, and kamilos a cable or rope It does not appear that Calvin; relied on certain Manuscripts of no good authority, which substitute kamilon, for kamelon. But he adopted the notion equally unfounded, that Greek writers sometimes used kamelos, in the sense of kamilos. Had due allowance been made for the boldness of Eastern imagery, the supposed difficulty would have disappeared, and the most refined taste would have been fully gratified. The poet Southey has seized the true spirit of the passage: -- "S. The camel and the needle, Is that then in your mind? "T. Even so. The text Is gospel wisdom. I would ride the camel, -- Yea leap him flying, through the needle's eye, As easily as such a pampered soul Could pass the narrow gate." At one period, critics showed a strong leaning to the idea of cable, which our Author favors, but have now very generally abandoned it, and returned to the true reading. -- Ed
Luke 18:28-30, Luke 22:28-31
27. Then Peter answering said to him, Lo, we have left all, and have followed thee: what therefore shall we have? 28. And Jesus said to them, Verily I say to you, That you who have followed me in the regeneration, when the Son of man shall sit on the throne of his majesty, you also shall sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. 29. And whosoever shall leave houses, or brothers, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or fields, for the sake of my name, shall receive a hundred-fold, and shall obtain eternal life. 30. And many that are first shall be last, and the last first. 
28. And Peter began to say to him, Lo, we have left all, and have followed thee. 29. And Jesus answering said, Verily I say to you, There is no man that hath left house, or brothers, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or fields, for my sake, and (for the sake) of the Gospel,  30. But shall receive a hundred-fold now at this time, houses, and brothers, and sister, and mothers, and children, and fields, with persecution, and in the world to come eternal life. 31. But many that are first shall be last, and the last first. 
28. And Peter said, Lo, we have left all, and have followed thee. 29. Who said to them, Verily I say to you, There is no man who hath left house, or parents, or brothers, or wife, or children, on account of the kingdom of God, 30. Who shall not receive much more at this time, and in the world to come eternal life.
28. You are they that have continued with me in my temptations:  29. And I appoint to you the kingdom,  as my Father hath appointed it to me; 30. That you may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom and may sit on thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.
Matthew 19:27. Then Peter answering said to him. Peter tacitly compares himself and the other disciples to the rich man, whom the world had turned aside from Christ. As they had led a poor and wandering  life, which was not unaccompanied by disgrace and by annoyances, and as no better condition for the future presented itself, he properly inquires if it be to no purpose that they have left all their property, and devoted themselves to Christ; for it would be unreasonable if, after having been stripped of their property by the Lord, they should not be restored to a better condition.
Lo, we have left all. But what were those all things? for, being mean and very poor men, they scarcely had a home to leave, and therefore this boasting might appear to be ridiculous. And certainly experience shows how large an estimate men commonly form of their duties towards God, as at this day, among the Papists, those who were little else than beggars make it a subject of haughty reproach that they have sustained great damage for the sake of the Gospel. But the disciples may be excused on this ground, that, though their wealth was not magnificent, they subsisted at home, by their manual labors, not less cheerfully than the richest man. And we know that men of humble condition, who have been accustomed to a quiet and modest life, reckon it a greater hardship to be torn from their wives and children than those who are led by ambition, or who are carried in various directions by the gale of prosperity. Certainly, if some reward had not been reserved for the disciples, it would have been foolish in them to have changed their course of life.  But though on that ground they might be excused, they err in this respect, that they demand a triumph to be given them, before they have finished their warfare. If we ever experience such uneasiness at delay, and if we are tempted by impatience, let us learn first to reflect on the comforts by which the Lord soothes the bitterness of the cup in this world, and next elevate our minds to the hope of the heavenly life; for these two points embrace the answer of Christ.
28. Verily I say to you. That the disciples may not think that they have lost their pains, and repent of having begun the course, Christ warns them that the glory of his kingdom, which at that time was still hidden, was about to be revealed. As if he had said, "There is no reason why that mean condition should discourage you; for I, who am scarcely equal to the lowest, will at length ascend to my throne of majesty. Endure then for a little, till the time arrive for revealing nay glory." And what does he then promise to them? That they shall be partakers of the same glory.
You also shall sit on twelve thrones By assigning to them thrones, from which they may judge the twelve tribes of Israel, he compares them to assessors, or first councilors and judges, who occupy the highest seats in the royal council. We know that the number of those who were chosen to be apostles was twelve, in order to testify that, by the agency of Christ, God purposed to collect the remnant of his people which was scattered. This was a very high rank, but hitherto was concealed; and therefore Christ holds their wishes in suspense till the latest revelation of his kingdom, when they will fully receive the fruit of their election. And though the kingdom of Christ is, in some respects, manifested by the preaching of the Gospel, there is no doubt that Christ here speaks of the last day.
In the regeneration. Some connect this term with the following clause. In this sense, regeneration would be nothing else than the renovation which shall follow our restoration, when life shall swallow up what is mortal, and when our mean body shall be transformed into the heavenly glory of Christ. But I rather explain regeneration as referring to the first coming of Christ; for then the world began to be renewed, and arose out of the darkness of death into the light of life. And this way of speaking occurs frequently in the Prophets, and is exceedingly adapted to the connection of this passage. For the renovation of the Church, which had been so frequently promised, had raised an expectation of wonderful happiness, as soon as the Messiah should appear; and therefore, in order to guard against that error, Christ distinguishes between the beginning and the completion of his reign.
Luke 22:28. You are they who have continued with me. Although Luke appears to relate a different discourse of Christ, and one which was delivered at a different time, yet I have no doubt that it refers to the same time. For it is not a continued discourse of Christ that is here related, but detached sentences, without any regard to the order of time, as we shall shortly afterwards have occasion to state. But he employs more words than Matthew; for he declares that, as the apostles had accompanied him, and had remained steadfastly in his temptations, they would also be partakers of his glory. It is asked, in what sense does he call them his temptations? I think that he means the contests by which God tried him and the apostles in common. And properly did he use the word temptations; for, according to the feeling of human nature, his faith and patience were actually tried.
29. And I appoint to you the kingdom. Here he makes them not only judges, but kings; for he shares with them the kingdom which he received from the Father There is an emphasis in the word appoint, that they may not, by warmth and vehemence of desire, hasten too eagerly to possess the kingdom of which he alone has the lawful right to dispose. By his own example, also, he exhorts them to patience; for, though he was ordained by the Father to be a King, yet he was not immediately raised to his glory, but even emptied Himself, (Philippians 2:7,) and by the ignominy of the cross obtained kingly honor. To eat and drink at his table is put metaphorically for being made partakers of the same glory.
Matthew 19:29. And whosoever shall forsake. After having raised the expectation of his followers to the hope of a future life, he supports them by immediate consolations,  and strengthens them for bearing the cross. For though God permit his people to be severely afflicted, he never abandons them, so as not to recompense their distresses by his assistance. And here he does not merely address the apostles, but takes occasion to direct his discourse generally to all the godly. The substance of it is this: Those who shall willingly lose all for the sake of Christ, will be more happy even in this life than if they had retained the full possession of them; but the chief reward is laid up for them in heaven.
But what he promises about recompensing them a hundredfold appears not at all to agree with experience; for in the greater number of cases, those who have been deprived of their parents, or children, and other relatives -- who have been reduced to widowhood, and stripped of their wealth, for the testimony of Christ -- are so far from recovering their property, that in exile, solitude and desertion, they have a hard struggle with severe poverty. I reply, if any man estimate aright the immediate grace of God, by which he relieves the sorrows of his people, he will acknowledge that it is justly preferred to all the riches of the world. For though unbelievers flourish, (Psalm 92:7,) yet as they know not what awaits them on the morrow (James 4:14,) they must be always tossed about in perplexity and terror, and it is only by stupefying themselves in some sort that they can at all enjoy prosperity.  Yet God gladdens his people, so that the small portion of good which they enjoy is more highly valued by them, and far sweeter, than if out of Christ they had enjoyed an unlimited abundance of good things. In this sense I interpret the expression used by Mark, with persecutions; as if Christ had said, Though persecutions always await the godly in this world, and though the cross, as it were, is attached to their back, yet so sweet is the seasoning of the grace of God, which gladdens them, that their condition is more desirable than the luxuries of kings.
30. And many that are first shall be last. This sentence was added in order to shake off the indolence of the flesh. The apostles, though they had scarcely begun the course, were hastening to demand the prize. And such is the disposition of almost all of us, that, when a month has elapsed, we ask, like soldiers who have served their time, to receive a discharge. But Christ exhorts those who have begun well (Galatians 3:3; Galatians 5:7) to vigorous perseverance, and at the same time gives warning, that it will be of no avail to runners to have begun with alacrity, if they lose courage in the midst of the course. In like manner Paul also warns us, that not all who run obtain t/re prize, (1 Corinthians 9:24;) and in another passage he exhorts believers, by referring to his own example, to:
forget those things which are behind, and press forward to the remaining portion of their course,
As often, therefore, as we call to mind the heavenly crown, we ought, as it were, to feel the application of fresh spurs, that we may not be more indolent for the future.
 "Et les derniers seront premiers;" -- "and the last shall be first."
 "Pour l'amour de moy et de l'Evangile;" -- "for the love of me and of the Gospel."
 "Et les derniers seront premiers;" -- "and the last shall be first."
 "Qui avez persevere avec moy;" -- "who have persevered with me."
 "Le royaume."
 "Et suiete a changer souvent de demeurance;" -- "and liable to change their residence frequently."
 "D'avoir change d'estat et de facon de vivre;" -- "for having changed their condition and their way of living."
 "De consolations de la vie presente;" -- "by consolations of the present life."
 "Ils ne peuvent iouir a leur aise des biens qu'ils ont, sinon qu'ils en-trent comme en une stupidite, et effacent tout sentiment de leur conscience;" -- "they cannot enjoy at their ease the good things which they possess, unless they become, as it were, stupid, and destroy every feeling of their conscience."
17. And Jesus, going up to Jerusalem, took the twelve disciples apart in the way, and said to them, 18. Lo, we go up to Jerusalem; and the Son of man will be delivered to the chief priests and scribes; and they will condemn him to death. 19. And they will deliver him to the Gentiles to mock, and to scourge, and to crucify him;  and on the third day he will rise again.
32. And they were in the way going up to Jerusalem; and Jesus went before them: and they were amazed; and, while they followed him, where afraid. And having again taken aside the twelve, he began to tell them what things would happen to him: 33. Lo, we go up to Jerusalem; and the Son of man will be delivered to the chief priests and scribes; and they will condemn him to death, and will deliver him to the Gentiles: 34. And will mock him, and scourge him, and spit upon him, and kill him; and on the third day he will rise again.
31. And Jesus took the twelve, and said to them, Lo, we go up to Jerusalem, and all things which have been written by the prophets concerning the Son of man will be accomplished. 32. For he will be delivered to the Gentiles, and mocked, and insulted, and spat on; 33. And after having scourged, they will kill him; and on the third day he will rise again. 34. And they understood none of these things; and this saying was hidden from them, and they understood not the things which were spoken. 
Though the apostles had been previously informed what kind of death awaited our Lord, yet as they had not sufficiently profited by it, he now repeats anew what he had frequently said. He sees that the day of his death is at hand; nay more, he is already in a state of readiness to offer himself to be sacrificed; and, on the other hand, he sees the disciples not only afraid, but overwhelmed by blind alarm. He therefore exhorts them to steadiness, that they may not immediately yield to temptation. Now there are two methods by which he confirms them; for, by foretelling what would happen, he not only fortifies them, that they may not give way, when a calamity, which has arisen suddenly and contrary to expectation, takes them by surprise, but meets the offense of the cross by a proof of his Divinity, that they may not lose courage at beholding his short abasement, when they are convinced that he is the Son of God, and therefore will be victorious over death. The second method of confirmation is taken from his approaching resurrection.
But it will be proper to look more closely at the words. Mark states -- what is omitted by the other two Evangelists -- that, before our Lord explained to his disciples in private that he was going straight to the sacrifice of death, not only they, but also the rest of his followers, were sorrowful and trembling. Now why they were seized with this fear it is not easy to say, if it was not because they had already learned that they had dangerous adversaries at Jerusalem, and would therefore have wished that Christ should remain in some quiet retreat beyond the reach of the darts, rather than voluntarily expose himself to such inveterate enemies. Although this fear was in many respects improper, yet the circumstance of their following Christ is a proof of no ordinary respect and obedience. It would indeed have been far better to hasten cheerfully and without regret, wheresoever the Son of God chose to lead them; but commendation is due to their reverence for his person, which appears in choosing to do violence to their own feelings rather than to forsake him.
Matthew 20:17. Took the twelve disciples apart in the way It may appear surprising that he makes the twelve alone acquainted with his secret, since all have need of consolation, for all had been alike seized with fear. I consider the reason why he did not publish his death to have been, that the report might not spread too widely before the time. Besides, as he did not expect that the warning would be of immediate advantage, he reckoned it enough to entrust it to a few, who were afterwards to be his witnesses. For, as the seed thrown into the earth does not immediately spring up, so we know that Christ said many things to the apostles which did not immediately yield fruit. And if he had admitted all indiscriminately to this discourse, it was possible that many persons, seized with alarm, might flee, and fill the ears of the public with this report; and thus the death of Christ would have lost its glory, because he would have appeared to have rashly brought it on himself. Secretly, therefore, he addresses the apostles, and does not even select them as qualified to receive profit by it, but, as I lately hinted, that they may afterwards be witnesses.
On this subject Luke is more full than the others; for he relates not only that Christ predicted the events which were near at hand, but also that he added the doctrine, that those things which had been written by the prophets would be accomplished in the Son of man. It was an excellent remedy for overcoming temptation, to perceive in the very ignominy of the cross the marks by which the Prophets had pointed out the promised Author of salvation. There can be no doubt that our Lord pointed out also from the Prophets what kind of fruit they ought to expect from his death; for the Prophets do not only teach that Christ must suffer, but add the reason, that he may reconcile the world to God.
18. Lo, we go up to Jerusalem. Hence we perceive that Christ was endued with divine fortitude for overcoming the terrors of death, for he knowingly and willingly hastens to undergo it.  For why does he, without any constraint, march forward to suffer a shocking murder, but because the invincible power of the Spirit enabled him to subdue fear, and raised him above all human feelings? By a minute detail of the circumstances, he gives a still more evident proof of his Divinity. For he could not -- as man -- have foreseen that, after having been condemned by the chief priests and scribes, he would be delivered up to the Gentiles, and spat on, and mocked in various ways, and scourged, and at length dragged to the punishment of the cross Yet it must be observed that, though our Lord was fully acquainted with the weakness of his disciples, he does not conceal from them a very grievous offense. For -- as we have said on a former occasion  -- nothing could at that time have happened more powerfully calculated to shake the minds of the godly, than to see the whole of the sacred order of the Church opposed to Christ.
And yet he does not spare their weakness by deceiving them, but, candidly declaring the whole matter, points out the way to overcome temptation; namely, by looking forward with certainty to his resurrection. But as it was necessary that His death should go before, he makes their triumph, in the meantime, to consist in hope.
Luke 18:34. And they understood none of these things. What stupidity was this, not to understand what Christ said to them in a plain and familiar manner, on a subject not too lofty or intricate, but of which they had, at their own suggestion, entertained some suspicion! But it is proper also to bear in mind -- what I have formerly observed -- the reason why they were held in such gross ignorance, which was, that they had formed the expectation of a joyful and prosperous advancement, and therefore reckoned it to be in the highest degree absurd, that Christ should be ignominiously crucified. Hence we infer with what madness the minds of men are seized through a false imagination; and therefore we ought to be the more careful not to yield to any foolish thoughts, and shut our eyes against the light.
 "Pour estre mocque, et flagelle, et crucifie;" -- "to be mocked, and scourged, and crucified."
 "Et ne pouvoyent entendre ce qu'il leur disoit;" -- "and they could not understand what he said to them."
 "Veu qu'il se haste pour s'y presenter de son bon gre, et seachant bien ce qu'il avoit a endurer;" -- "since he hastens to present himself to it of his own accord, and knowing well what he had to endure."
 See p. 301 of this volume.
29. And while they were departing from Jericho, a great multitude followed him. 30. And, lo, two blind men sitting near the road, when they heard that Jesus was passing by, cried aloud, saying, Have mercy on us, O Lord, thou Son of David. 31. And the multitude rebuked them, that they might be silent; but they cried out the more, saying, Have mercy on us, O Lord, thou Son of David. 32. And Jesus stood, and called them, and said, What do you wish that I should do to you? 33. They say to him, Lord, that our eyes may be opened. 34. And Jesus, moved with compassion, touched their eyes; and immediately their eyes received sight, and they followed him.
46. And they come to Jericho: and while they was departing from the city Jericho, and his disciples, and a great multitude, Bartimeus, son of Timeus, a blind man, was sitting hear the road begging. 47. And when he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to cry aloud, and to say, Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me. 48. And many rebuked him, that he might be silent: but he cried out so much the more, Son of David, have mercy on me. 49. And Jesus stood, and commanded him to be called. And they call the blind man, saying to him, Be of good courage, rise; he calleth thee. 50. And he, throwing away his mantle, arose, and came to Jesus. 51. And Jesus answering, saith to him, What dost thou wish that I should do to thee? And the blind man said to him, Master,  that I may receive sight. 52 And Jesus said to him, Go away; thy faith hath cured thee. And immediately he received sight, and followed Jesus in the way.
35. And it happened that, while he was approaching Jericho, a certain blind man was sitting near the road begging: 36. And when he heard a multitude passing by, he asked what it was. 37. And they said to him, that Jesus of Nazareth was passing by. 38. And he cried out, saying, Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me. 39. And they that were going before rebuked him, that he might be silent: but he cried out so much the more, Son of David, have mercy on me. 40. And Jesus, standing still, commanded him to be brought to him: and while he was approaching, he asked him, 41. Saying, What dost thou wish that I should do to thee? And he said, Lord, that I may receive sight. 42. Then Jesus said to him, Receive sight: thy faith hath cured thee. 43. And immediately he received sight, and followed him, glorifying God: and all the people when they saw it, gave praise to God.
Matthew 20:29. And while they were departing from Jericho. Osiander has resolved to display his ingenuity by making four blind men out of one. But nothing can be more frivolous than this supposition. Having observed that the Evangelists differ in a few expressions, he imagined that one blind man received sight when they were entering into the city, and that the second, and other two, received sight when Christ was departing from it. But all the circumstances agree so completely, that no person of sound judgment will believe them to be different narratives. Not to mention other matters, when Christ's followers had endeavored to put the first to silence, and saw him cured contrary to their expectation, would they immediately have made the same attempt with the other three? But it is unnecessary to go into particulars, from which any man may easily infer that it is one and the same event which is related.
But there is a puzzling contradiction in this respect, that Matthew and Mark say that the miracle was performed on one or on two blind men, when Christ had already departed from the city; while Luke relates that it was done before he came to the city. Besides, Mark and Luke speak of not more than one blind man, while Matthew mentions two. But as we know that it frequently occurs in the Evangelists, that in the same narrative one passes by what is mentioned by the others, and, on the other hand, states more clearly what they have omitted, it ought not to be looked upon as strange or unusual in the present passage. My conjecture is, that, while Christ was approaching to the city, the blind man cried out, but that, as he was not heard on account of the noise, he placed himself in the way, as they were departing from the city,  and then was at length called by Christ. And so Luke, commencing with what was true, does not follow out the whole narrative, but passes over Christ's stay in the city; while the other Evangelists attend only to the time which was nearer to the miracle. There is probability in the conjecture that, as Christ frequently, when he wished to try the faith of men, delayed for a short time to relieve them, so he subjected this blind man to the same scrutiny.
The second difficulty may be speedily removed; for we have seen, on a former occasion, that Mark and Luke speak of one demoniac as having been cured, while Matthew, as in the present instance, mentions two, (Matthew 8:28; Mark 5:2; Luke 8:27  ) And yet this involves no contradiction between them; but it may rather be conjectured with probability, that at first one blind man implored the favor of Christ, and that another was excited by his example, and that in this way two persons received sight Mark and Luke speak of one only, either because he was better known, or because in him the demonstration of Christ's power was not less remarkable than it was in both. It certainly appears to have been on account of his having been extensively known that he was selected by Mark, who gives both his own name and that of his father: Bartimeus, son of Timeus By doing so, he does not claim for him either illustrious descent or wealth; for he was a beggar of the lowest class. Hence it appears that the miracle was more remarkable in his person, because his calamity had been generally known. This appears to me to be the reason why Mark and Luke mention him only, and say nothing about the other, who was a sort of inferior appendage. But Matthew, who was an eye-witness,  did not choose to pass by even this person, though less known.
30. Have mercy on me, O Lord. I stated, a little ago, that there was at first but one who cried out, but the other was induced by a similar necessity to join him. They confer on Christ no ordinary honor, when they request him to have mercy, and relieve them; for they must have been convinced that he had in his power the assistance or remedy which they needed. But their faith is still more clearly exhibited by their acknowledgment of him as Messiah, to whom we know that the Jews gave this designation, Son of David They therefore apply to Christ, not only as some Prophet, but as that person whom God had promised to be the only Author of salvation. The cry proved the ardor of the desire; for, though they knew that what they said exposed them to the hatred of many, who were highly displeased with the honor done to Christ, their fear was overcome by the ardor of desire, so that they did not refrain, on this account, from raising their voice aloud.
31. And the multitude reproved them. It is surprising that the disciples of Christ, who follow him through a sense of duty and of respect, should wish to drive wretched men from the favor of Christ, and, so far as lies in them, to prevent the exercise of his power. But it frequently happens that the greater part of those who profess the name of Christ, instead of inviting us to him, rather hinder or delay our approach. If Satan endeavored to throw obstacles in the way of two blind men, by means of pious and simple persons, who were induced by some sentiments of religion to follow Christ, how much more will he succeed in accomplishing it by means of hypocrites and traitors, if we be not strictly on our guard. Perseverance is therefore necessary to overcome every difficulty, and the more numerous the obstacles are which Satan throws in the way, the more powerfully ought we to be excited to earnestness in prayer, as we see that the blind men redoubled their cry
32. What do you wish that I should do to you? He gently and kindly asks what they desire; for he had determined to grant their requests. There is no reason to doubt that they prayed by a special movement of the Holy Spirit; for, as the Lord does not intend to grant to all persons deliverance from bodily diseases, so neither does he permit them simply to pray for it. A rule has been prescribed for us what we ought to ask, and in what manner, and to what extent; and we are not at liberty to depart from that rule, unless the Lord, by a secret movement of the Spirit, suggest to us some special prayer, which rarely happens. Christ puts the question to them, not for their sake as individuals, but for the sake of all the people; for we know how the world swallows God's benefits without perceiving them, unless they are stimulated and aroused. Christ, therefore, by his voice, awakens the assembled crowd to observe the miracle, as he awakens them shortly afterwards by a visible sign, when he opens their eyes by touching them.
34. And Jesus, moved with compassion, etc. Splanchnistheis, moved with compassion, is not the participle of the same verb which Matthew had just now employed in reference to the blind man, eleeson, have mercy  They implored the mercy of Christ, that he might relieve their wretchedness; but now the Evangelist expresses that Christ was induced to cure them, not only by undeserved goodness, but because he pitied their distress. For the metaphor is taken from the bowels, (splanchna,) in which dwells that kindness and mutual compassion which prompts us to assist our neighbors.
Mark 10:52. Thy faith hath saved thee By the word faith is meant not only a confident hope of recovering sight, but a loftier conviction, which was, that this blind man had acknowledged Jesus to be the Messiah whom God had promised. Nor must we imagine that it was only some confused knowledge; for we have already seen that this confession was taken from the Law and the Prophets. For the blind man did not at random bestow on Christ the name of Son of David, but embraced him as that person whose coming he had been taught by the divine predictions to expect. Now Christ attributes it to faith that the blind man received sight; for, though the power and grace of God sometimes extend even to unbelievers, yet no man enjoys His benefits in a right and profitable manner, unless he receive them by faith; nay, the use of the gifts of God is so far from being advantageous to unbelievers, that it is even hurtful. And therefore, when Christ says, thy faith hath saved thee, the word saved is not limited to an outward cure, but includes also the health and safety of the soul; as if Christ had said, that by faith the blind man obtained that God was gracious to him, and granted his wish. And if it was in regard to faith that God bestowed his favor on the blind man, it follows that he was justified by faith
Matthew 20:34. And followed him. This was an expression of gratitude,  when the blind men became followers of Christ; for, though it is uncertain how long they discharged this duty, yet it showed a grateful mind, that they presented themselves to many, in that journey, as mirrors of the grace of Christ. Luke adds, that the people gave praise to God, which tends to prove the certainty of the miracle.
 "Rabboni;" -- "Maistre."
 "Mais pource qu'il ne peut estre ouy a cause du bruit du peuple, qu'il s'en alla, l'autre porte de la ville par laquelle Christ devoit sortir, pour l'attendre la au chemin;" -- "but, because he could not be heard on account of the noise of the people, that he went away to the other gate by which Christ was to go out, to wait for him there on the road."
 See Harmony, vol. 1 p.
 "Qui avoit este present au miracle;" -- "who had been present at the miracle."
 "Quand ils disoyent, Fils de David, aye misericorde de nous;" -- "when they said, Son of David, have mercy on us."
 "Ceci a este un signe de recognoissance du bien receu de Christ;" -- "this was an expression of gratitude for the favor received from Christ."