Luke 10The Captain general of our salvation, Christ Jesus, having called, commissioned, and sent forth his twelve apostles, as great commanders to subdue his native kingom of Israel to himself, at the sixth chapter of this Gospel; Luke 6:12-16 in this chapter he sends after them a band of seventy auxiliary forces, to aid and assist them: After these things the Lord appointed other seventy disciples, and sent them two and two before his face.
Where note, 1. The person commissioning and sending them forth: Christ himself.
Thence learn, that none ought to take upon them the office of preaching, or other ministerial functions in the church, until thereunto called by Christ himself. The twelve apostles and seventy disciples, had an immediate mission from Christ himself; all his ministers are now called mediately, and receive their authority from Christ by the hands of the governors of his church.
Note, 2. The manner of their sending: two and two in a company, partly to make their message of more authority, partly to testify their mutual consent in the doctrine they taught, and partly to comfort and encourage, to help and strengthen, to assist and support each other.
In imitation of this example, the Jesuits sent forth their emissaries by pairs.
Learn hence, that the ministers of the gospel do stand in great need of the mutual help and comfort, of the united assistance and encouragement of each other, in the weighty duties of their calling and function.
Our Saviour in the next verse compares his ministers to harvest laborers, who are to help and assist one another, the strong endeavoring to strengthen the hands of the weak.
But, Lord, what tears are sufficient to bewail the want of love and unity, yea, the prevalency of that envy and malignity, which is found too often among the ministers of the gospel; so that instead of going forth two by two, happy is he that is alone in a place.
Well might Melancthon bless God, when he lay dying, that he was going to a place where he should be freed from the implacable hatred of divines; this is, and ought to be, for a lamentation.
1. That God's church is an harvest field.
2. That the ministers of God are laborers in his harvest, under God the Lord of the harvest.
3. That to God alone it does belong to send forth laborers into his harvest, and none must thrust themselves in, until God sends them forth: Pray ye the Lord of the harvest, that he would send forth laborers.
4. That the number of faithful laborers is comparatively small and few: the scribes and Pharisees in the Jewish harvest field are many; yet, says Christ, The laborers are few.
5. That it is the church's duty to pray, and that earnestly and incessantly, to God the Lord of the harvest, to increase the number of faithful laborers; and to send forth more laborers into his harvest.
Our Saviour, 1. Arms his disciples against the difficulties, dangers, and discouragements which they might meet with in the course of their ministry, by telling them, that he sent them forth as lambs among wolves; thereby intimating, that the enemies of the gospel have as great an inclination, from their malicious nature, to devour and destroy the ministers of Christ, as wolves have from their natural temper to devour lambs: Behold, I send you forth as lambs among wolves.
2. Our Saviour directs them in this their first expedition to preach the gospel, to commit themselves to the gracious care and good providence of God, both for provision and protection: Carry neither purse, nor scrip, nor staff, says St. Matthew; as if he had said, trust God with the care of your lives, rely upon his providence both for protection and provision: yet must we take notice, that this was only a temporary command, given to the disciples for this particular journey, which they were quickly to despatch; for in the general, Christ allows his ministers as well as others, to exercise a prudent and provident care for themselves and their families.
And as it is the ministers' duty to trust God in the use of prudential means for their maintenance, so it is the people's duty to take care for their ministers' comfortable subsistence. The workman is worthy of his meat, says our Saviour; that is, of all necessary supplies: he is worthy of a comfortable, subsistence, and, where it may be had, of an honorable maintenance.
Here our blessed Saviour directs his disciples how to manage themselves in the executing of their office: Into whatsoever house ye enter, first say, Peace be to this house; they must with peace to the sons of peace, yea, to the enemies of peace also; and as their peace shall rest upon the one, so shall it return from the other. Peace be to this house, is a fit salutation for them to use, who were the disciples and ambassadors of the Prince of peace; and very agreeable to the gospel they were to preach, which was a gospel of peace: and it was a prayer as well as a salutation; the disciples were to speak it not from the lip only, but from the heart also. Peace is the music which both men and angels are delighted with, and the Christian religion is the greatest promoter and preserver of it, that commands us to pray for peace, to follow after peace, to part with our coat and cloak, that is, with our civil rights, for peace; and, if it be possible, to live peaceably with all men.
Observe, 2. As the injunction given by our Saviour to his disciples to deliver a message of peace, first say, Peace be to this house: so the prediction of what should befall them in the delivery of this their message. Their salutation, though it be peace, yet will not find a welcome and entertainment with all persons, but only with the sons of peace: If the sons of peace be there, your peace shall rest upon it.
Observe, 3. An encouragement not to be afraid of delivering their message though it wanted success: If your peace rest not, it shall return to you again.
1. That as there was at the first preaching of the gospel, so there is, and always will be, some that are sons of peace, and others that are enemies unto peace.
2. That this peace will rest on none but those that are fit to receive it. That though it does not rest, yet it shall not be lost, but return again to those that publish it. Ministers can but say, Peace be to this house, they cannot make it rest there; we can offer terms of peace to a lost world, but cannot compel men to accept them; and if they finally refuse them, we shall be a sweet savour unto God, as well in them that perish, as in them that are saved.
Here our Saviour gives his disciples sundry directions, how to manage themselves in this expedition for preaching the gospel.
He enjoins them, 1. To observe the rules of decency in going from place to place; having entered a house to continue there, not changing their lodging, and going from house to house, thereby avoiding all show of lightness and inconstancy, and testifying all gravity and stayedness in their behavior; this being a special means to win authority to their persons and ministry.
2. He gives them a power to work miracles for the confirming of the doctrine which they preached: Heal the sick that are therein. This was necessary, partly to procure reverence to their person, being poor and unlearned men; and partly to gain credit and authority to their doctrine: for the doctrine of faith in the Messiah, as now come and exhibited in the flesh, being a strange and new doctrine to the Jews, the truth and certainty of it was to be extraordinarily ratified and confirmed by working miracles; one sort of which was healing of diseases in an extraordinary manner.
Observe, 3. How Christ encouraged his disciples against the want of success: he bids them denounce the judgments of God by shaking off the dust of their feet; which action was emblematical, and signified that God in like manner would shake off them, and esteem them no better than the vilest dust.
Learn hence, that those which despise the message that the ministers of the gospel bring, shall hereafter find the dust of their feet, and the ashes of their graves to give a judicial testimony against them in the day of Christ. Wherever the word is preached, it is for a testimony, either a testimony for, or against a people. For, if the dust of a minister's feet bear witness against a people, their sermons much more.
Observe, lastly, the dreadful judgment denounced by our Saviour against the contemners of his disciples' doctrine: Verily it shall be more tolerable for Sodom and Gomorrah in the day of judgment than for that city.
These cities in Galilee, Chorazin, Bethsaida, and Capernaum, having been the place where Christ preached and wrought his miracles, they have a woe denounced here against them for their contempt of Christ, and the offers of his grace: Woe unto thee, Chorazin, etc. The higher a people rise under the means, the lower they fall if they miscarry. They that have been nearest to conversion, being not converted, shall have the greatest condemnation when they are judged. Capernaum's sentence will exceed Sodom's for severity, because she excelled Sodom in the enjoyment of means and mercy.
Observe here, 1. Capernaum's privilege enjoyed; She was lifted up to heaven; that is, enjoyed privileges above other places, namely, the presence, preaching, and miracles of our Saviour.
Observe, 2. Capernaum's doom denounced: Thou shalt be thrust down to hell; that is, thy condition shall be sadder than those that never heard of a Saviour; even Tyre and Sidon, Sodom and Gomorrah, those rude and barbarous nations, out of the pale of the church, shall be in an easier state and condition, than those that have enjoyed gospel ordinances and church privileges, but not improved them.
1. That gospel ordinances enjoyed, are a mighty honor and advancement to the poorest persons and obscurest places: Thou, Capernaum, art exalted to heaven.
2. That gospel ordinances and church privileges enjoyed, but not improved, provoke Almighty God to inflict the sorest judgments upon a people: Thou that art exalted to heaven, shall be thrust down to hell.
Here our Saviour encourages his ministers to faithfulness in their office, by assuring them that he should reckon and esteem all the kindness shown to hem, as done unto himself: He that receiveth you, receiveth me; he that despiseth you, despiseth me.
Where note, that all the offices of love and respect, of kindness and charity, which we show to the ministers and members of Christ for his sake, Christ reckons it done unto himself.
Note farther, that the contempt of the message and messengers of the gospel runs much higher than men are aware of. They think it no great matter to slight or neglect the messengers of Christ; but verily that contempt flies in the face and authority of Christ himself, who gave them their commission: yea, in the very face of God the Father, who gave Christ his commission: and accordingly they are called God's mouth, Jer 15:19. Their message and their mission being both from him.
Nay, farther, this sin strikes at our own souls, and we are injurious to them as well as unto Christ; he that despiseth you, despiseth me; yet certainly no age was ever deeper drenched in the guilt of this sin than the present age is.
Observe here, 1. The seventy disciples return to give Christ an account of the success of their expedition. They return as victors with joy and triumph, showing Christ the trophies of their conquest: Lord, even the devils are subject unto us through thy name; the weapons of their warfare were not carnal but spiritual, and mighty through Christ; the powers of darkness cannot stand, but must fall before the power of Christ; the devils are no match for Christ, no, not for the meanest of the ministers of Christ, who go forth in his name, armed with his authority and power.
Observe, 2. Our Saviour's reply to the seventy disciples upon this occasion: I beheld Satan as lightning fall from heaven; a twofold interpretation is given of these words; some look upon them as a secret rebuke given by our Saviour to the seventy for that excess of joy, and mixture of vain-glory, which was found with them, upon the account of those extraordinary gifts and abilities of casting out devils, and healing diseases, which were conferred upon them.
I beheld Satan, says Christ, falling like lightning from heaven; as if Christ had said, "Take heed of being puffed up with pride, upon the account of those endowments which I have bestowed upon you: remember, Lucifer, the prince of pride, how he fell from heaven by his arrogancy, and labor you to ascend thither by humility."
The words in this sense afford this instruction;
1. That those whom Christ has bestowed the greatest measure of spiritual graces, ministerial gifts, and temporal blessings upon, ought to be very watchful against that hateful sin of pride, which has ruined and destroyed so many thousands of angels and men.
2. Some understand this fall of Satan not literally, but figuratively and mystically, of his ruin by the power and preaching of the gospel; as if Christ had said, "I know that this is no vain boast of yours, nor brag of your value, that devils are conquered by your courage; for when I first sent you forth to preach the gospel, and armed you with divine power, I easily foresaw that the devil's kingdom would shake about his ears, and that his power would be ruined by the power of the gospel, and that wherever you preached, Satan's strength and power would vanish like a flash of lightning, suddenly and irrecoverably."
Learn hence, that the powerful and efficacious preaching of the gospel is the special means ordained and appointed by Christ for the ruin and subversion of Satan's kingdom in the world: as the gospel is the power of God unto salvation to them that believe and obey it, so it is the power of God unto destruction to Satan, and all that fight under his banner against it.
Our Lord, finding that his seventy ambassadors had managed their former commission so well, he here enlarged it, adding there unto a promise of divine protection: Behold I give you power to tread on serpents, and nothing shall hurt you; as if Christ had said, "Go forth again in this armor of power, with which I have girt you, and I warrant you sword-free and shot-free; nothing shall by any means hurt you, neither strength nor stratagem shall overcome you. Neither the power, the presence, nor protection, of God, shall be wanting to any of Christ's ministers, or members, who go forth in his strength against the spiritual enemies of their salvation."
As we have a promise of power in this text to enable us to resist the devil, so we have a promise of success elsewhere upon our resisting him: Resist the devil and he will flee from you, Jas 4:7
In these words of our Saviour there is something corrective, and something directive: the corrective part lies in the first words, wherein Christ checks the suspected excesses of their joy for victories gained over evil spirits: In this rejoice not: that is, let not your hearts too much overflow with joy upon this occasion. The negative is not absolute, but comparative only. Christ does not forbid, but only qualify and moderate their joy: That the spirits are subject to you, that is, the devils.
1. That though the evil angels by their fall have lost their happy condition, yet not their original constitution; their honor, but not their nature: they are spirits still.
2. The subjection of those evil spirits to the power of Christ, is not a free and professed, but an involuntary and imposed subjection, like that of a slave to his lord, whether he will or not.
1. That evil spirits are subject to the power of Christ! Not only to his personal, but to his ministerial power.
2. That it is matter of great joy to see evil spirits brought into subjection by the power of Christ. To see the evil spirit of pride and contention, of envy and malice, of error and falsehood, of jealousy and self-love, of animosity and division, not only chained but changed; to see not only an unwilling subjection, but a subjection of the will given to Christ; is matter of great joy and unspeakable rejoicing.
The directive part of our Saviour's words lies in the latter part of the verse: but rather rejoice that your names are written in heaven. There are no literal records in the court of heaven, no pen or ink, paper or parchment; but to be written in heaven, is to have a title to eternal life, and to be made meet for the inheritance of the saints in light.
Learn, 1. That God has in heaven a book of life; a book written with the golden rays and beams of his own eternal love.
2. That there are names written in this book.
3. That persons may know that their names are written in that book, otherwise they could not rejoice, for no man can rejoice at an unknown good.
4. That it is greater matter of joy and rejoicing to know that our names are written in heaven, than to have a power to cast out devils here on earth. A man may have power to cast forth devils out of others, and yet at the same time the devil may have power in and over himself: Therefore in this rejoice not, that the devils are subject unto you, but rather rejoice that your names are written in heaven.
If you say, with what spectacles shall we read that at such a distance? Who will ascend up into heaven to see whether his name be written there? Who can send a messenger there to search the records? I answer, turn your eyes inward: if the name of God be written in thy heart, thy name is certainly written in heaven: if you in your daily actions write out a copy of God's book (the blessed Bible) here below, assure yourselves the hand of God has written your names in his book above; that is, you shall certainly be saved.
Here we find our Saviour glorifying his Father, and magnifying himself.
1. He glorifies his Father for the wise and free dispensation of his gospel grace to the meanest and most ignorant persons, while the great and learned men of the world undervalued and despises it: I thank thee, Father, that thou hast revealed these things to babes.
1. That until God reveals himself, his nature and will, no man can know either what he is, or what he requires: Thou hast revealed.
2. That the wise and knowing men in the world have in all ages despised the mysteries of the gospel, and having therefore been judicially blinded by God: Thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent.
3. That the most ignorant, if humble, and desirous of spiritual illumination, are in the readiest disposition to receive and embrace the gospel revelation: Thou hast revealed them unto babes.
4. That this is not more pleasing to Christ than it is the pleasure of his Father: Even so, Father, for so it seemed good in thy sight.
Observe, 2. Our Saviour magnifies himself.
1. His authority and commission: All things are delivered unto me; that is, all power is committed to me as mediator from God the Father.
2. His office to reveal his Father's will to a lost world: No man knoweth the father, but the Son, or the Son but the Father; that is, no man knows their essence and nature, their will and pleasure, their counsel and consent, their mutual compact and agreement between themselves, for saving a lost world, but only themselves, and those to whom they have revealed it.
Learn thence, that all saving knowledge of God is in, by, and through Christ; he, as the great prophet of his chruch, reveals unto us the mind and will of God for our salvation: None knoweth but he to whom the Son revealeth.
From the very first giving out of the promise of Christ to Adam after the fall, Gen 3:15 There was in all good men a longing desire and expectation to see that person who should be so great a blessing to mankind. Prophets and kings desired to see the promised Messiah.
Now, says our Saviour to his disciples, Blessed are you, for you have seen with the eyes of your body what others only saw with the eyes of their mind; with your bodily eyes you have seen the promised Messiah coming in the flesh, and also the miracles to confirm you that I am he, have been wrought before your eyes; therefore blessed are the eyes of your body, which have beheld me corporally; and blessed also are the eyes of your mind, which have beheld me spiritually. A sight of Christ by a believing eye, much more by a glorified eye, is a blessed sight. Blessed are those eyes which see Christ in his dispensations of glory hereafter.
Here we have a lawyer, that is, an interpreter and expounder of the law of Moses, tempting our Saviour; that is, making a trial of him, whether he would deliver any doctrine contrary to the law of Moses; he propounds therefore a question, What he should do to inherit eternal life?
Where note, he believed the certainty of a future state.
1. He professes his desire of an eternal happiness in that state.
2. He declares his readiness to do something in order to the obtaining of that happiness.
Hence learn, that all religion, both natural and revealed, teaches men that good works are necessary to salvation, or that something must be done by them who desire to enter into life: What shall I do to inherit eternal life? It is not talking well, and professing well, but doing well, that entitles us to heaven and eternal salvation; and this the very light of nature teaches.
Observe, 2. Our Saviour's answer: What is written in the law? How readest thou? Intimating to us, that the word and law of God is the rule and measure of our duty; our guide to direct us in the way to eternal life.
The man replies, that the law of God requires that we love God with all our heart, soul, and strength, and our neighbor as ourselves.
Where note, 1. That the fervor of all our affections, and particularly the supremacey of our love, is required by God as his right and due. Love must pass through and possess all the powers and faculties of our souls. The mind must meditate upon God, the will must choose and embrace him, the affections must take complacency and delight in him, the measure of loving God is to love him without measure.
Note, 2. That the best evidence of our sincere love to God is, the unfeigned love of our neighbor: love to man is both a fruit and testimony of our love to God. For he that loves not his brother whom he has seen, how can he love God whom he has not seen?
Note, 3. That as it is every man's duty to love himself, so is he to love his neighbor as himself; not as he does love himself, but as he ought to love himself; not with the same measure and degree of love, but in the same manner and kind of love that we love ourselves.
Do we love ourselves freely and readily, sincerely and unfeignedly, tenderly and compassionately, constantly and perseveringly? So should we love our neighbor also. Though we are not required to love our neighbor as much as we love ourselves, yet are we commanded to love him like we love ourselves.
Observe lastly, Our Lord's reply: Thou hast answered right. This do, and thou shalt live.
Where note, that Christ intimates to him, that the law considered in itself could give life, but then a person must keep it perfectly and exactly, without the least deficiency; which is impossible to man in his fallen state; for the law is not weak to us, but we are weak to that. Rom 13:3 The law becomes weak through the weakness of our flesh. Such as seek salvation by the works of the law, must keep the law perfectly and exactly; which being impossible in our fallen estate, Christ has obtained of his Father, that for his sake our sincere, though imperfect obedience, shall find acceptance with God and be available to our salvation.
The design of our Saviour in this parable is to convince the lawyer, who put that question to him, Who is my neighbor? (verse 29) that every one is, and ought to be, accounted our neighbor, to whom God affords us an opportunity of doing good; contrary to the strait notion of the Pharisees, that by the word neighbor, understood friends and kinsfolk, brethren by blood, neighbors by habitation, and persons of the same religion.
Our Saviour by this parable taught them, that even strangers and professed enemies, every one that needed our help and relief, is to be accounted our neighbor. To convince him hereof, Christ propounds this parable of a Jew that fell among thieves, who was neglected by his own countrymen, but relieved by a Samaritan, who, though a professed enemy upon the score of religion, yet was so exceedingly kind and charitable, that he became physician, surgeon, and host, and a real neighbor to the unknown traveller wounded by thieves in his journey to Jericho.
From the whole learn,
1. That every person in misery is the object of our mercy, our neighbor, and capable of our charity.
2. That no difference in religion, much less in some doubtful opinion, will excuse us from exercising acts of charity and compassion towards such as are really in want, and need our assistance. Our holy and merciful religion makes all persons the objects of our compassion, who are indigent and helpless; though they be strangers and foreigners, heathens or heretics, friends or enemies; yea, be they good or bad, holy or wicked, as we have opportunity we must do good unto all; and imitate the example of our merciful God, who is kind to the unthankful and to the evil.
3. That real charity is an active operative thing; it consists not in good words given to the distressed, nor in compassionate beholding of them, nor in a pitiful mourning over them, but in positive acts of kindness towards them.
The Samaritan here is an example of a real and thorough charity; he turns his face towards the forlorn man, his feet hasten to him, his hand pours in wine and oil into his wounds, after which he sets him upon his own beast, brings him to the inn, stays with him all night; and the next day, because his recovery would be a work of time and expense, he leaves him, but first leaves money with the host, and a special charge to take care of him; with a punctual promise that whatever was expended more should be repaid. Behold here an instance and pattern of a complete charity, managed with as much discretion as compassion: well might our Lord say to this person, and in him to every one of us, Go, and do thou likewise.
1. The great work and business of our Saviour's life: it was to go about preaching he gospel.
2. The nature of the place which Christ at this time preached in: it was a poor village; Bethany, as some think. Christ did not only take care of populous cities, and great towns, but private villages and obscure places enjoyed also the blessing of his ministry.
Our Saviour's example herein is instructive to his ministers, not to affect great auditories, and to preach only in populous cities, but to scatter the seed of the word in country villages, where are like precious souls to be taken care of, and provided for; as Christ was sent himself, so he sends his ministers to preach the gospel to the poor.
Observe 3. The party that entertained him in the village: Martha received him into her house. Martha is named, because she was probably the owner of the house. Though Christ had not a house of his own, yet he had as many as he pleased at his command; for wherever he had an heart he was sure to have an house: Martha received him into her house.
Observe, 1. Both these sisters were holy and devout women, both had an honor and reverence for Christ, and both are forward to entertain him; these were sisters by grace as well as by nature; yea they both for a time attended upon Christ's preaching. Mary (also) sat at Jesus' feet, implying that Martha sat there too, until household occasions called her away.
Oh how happy is that family, where all parties are agreed to receive and entertain the Lord Jesus Christ!
Observe, 2. No sooner is Christ entered into Martha's house, but he falls a preaching; while they provide bodily food for him, he prepares spiritual bread for them.
Oh that in our place and measure we might all imitate Christ in this: can we come into any house or company, and find nothing to say or do for God?
Observe, 3. The holy and humble deportment of Mary upon this occasion: She sat at Jesus' feet, and heard his words. When Christ was speaking, Mary was hearing, and little things could not take her off.
Lord, how carefully should we take the present opportunity for our souls, to hear and learn of thee, as Mary did. She was not sure of another opportunity, therefore hears humbly, attentively, and affectionately, as if it were her last hearing season.
Observe here, 1. Martha's behavior: She was cumbered about much serving; that is, much taken up with providing for the entertainment of Christ and his friends; all which considered in itself was no miscarriage, but a token of Martha's endeared respect to her best Friend.
A person that sincerely loves Christ as Martha did, thinks he can never show enough of respect unto him. Martha having such a guest to honor her house, puts forth herself all she can, yea, more than she was able, to give him entertainment: She was cumbered about much serving.
Observe, 2. Martha's complaint to Christ concerning her sister's not joining with her in the work that lay so hard upon her: Lord, dost thou not care that my sister hath left me to serve alone? Bid her therefore that she help me: as if Martha had said, is it a fit thing that both thyself, and all this company, should be unprovided for? Or is it reasonable that the whole burden should lie upon me, while Mary sits still, and does not touch the least household business with one of her fingers?
Lord, what infirmity and weakness intermixes and mingles with the virtues and graces of the best of thy servants, especially when they give way to their distempered passions!
This good woman at this time did not attend upon Christ's preaching herself, but interrupts him with a frivolous complaint about her sister: Bid her that she help me.
But why did not Martha speak to her sister herself, and whisper in her ear, and acquaint her how she wanted her help, but makes her moan to Christ?
Answer, it is like she thought her sister was so tied by the ear with those adamantine chains of Christ's heavenly doctrine, that until Christ was silent she had no power to stir; doubtless she believed that Mary would not move unless Christ spoke to her so to do.
Observe, 3. That all this while Mary speaks not one word for herself: no doubt it troubled her, good woman, to hear her sister complain of her to Christ, and find herself blamed for her piety, and implicitly condemned for laying hold upon such a sweet opportunity of hearing the beloved of her soul whose lips dropped as the honey-comb; however, she speaks not a word in her own vindication, but leaves her answer to her Saviour.
Learn thence, that when we are complained of for well doing, it is our duty, and may it be our prudence, to seal up our lips in silence, and to expect our vindication from above. Mary says nothing, but Christ speaks for her in the next verses.
As if Christ had said, "Martha, Martha, I well know that thou doest all this in love to me, and it is no more that what is thy duty in its proper season; but thou has now an opportunity to hear my word, which thou can not have every day, and it would have pleased me better, to whom it is meat and drink to feed souls, if I had seen thee sitting with thy dear sister at my feet, and yielding an attentive regard to my holy doctrine, than to find thee performing a necessary civility to my person. Thou hast not made a bad choice, but Mary has made a better; she has laid all aside to attend upon my ministry, and the fruit of it will continue with her to all eternity": It is that good part which shall never be taken away from her.
Note here, 1. The unexpectedness of our Saviour's answer to Martha, how contrary it was to her expectation: she thought that her sister should have been sent away with a check, and herself with thanks, but she is quite mistaken: for all her good cheer that she had provided for Christ, he spares not to tell her of her fault: Martha, Martha, thou art troubled about many things.
Learn hence, that no obligations to any particular persons should so enthrall us, but that our tongue should be at liberty to reprove the faults of our best friends, wherever we find them. Martha, though a pious and good woman, though a friendly and kind woman, though a woman greatly beloved by Christ, yet is she reproved by Christ.
Note, 2. The reproof given to Martha: Thou art troubled about many things: where Christ condemns not her hospitality, but her solicitude and superfluity, her distraction and perplexity.
Oh how prone are we to exceed in things lawful and necessary, and to go beyond our bounds in them: when we are satisfied in the matter, we are prone to exceed in the measure. Martha's entertainment of Christ was a noble service, but she was too anxious and solicitious about it; she was cumbered, she was careful, she was troubled.
Note, 3. Our Saviour's admonition: But one thing is needful: that is, there is one thing which ought first and principally to be regarded by us, and is of the greatest concernment to us; namely, the business of religion, and the care of our soul's salvation.
Learn hence, that the care of religion, and our soul's salvation, is the one thing necessary, and that which every man is concerned in the first place, and above all other things to regard and mind.
Note, 4. Our Saviour's justification of Mary's choice: Mary hath chosen that good part. Christ did not tell Martha she had chosen a bad part, but her sister had chosen the better. Martha's entertainment of Christ was good, but Mary's attendance upon Christ's ministry was better, and more pleasing unto Christ. Christ was better pleased to see Mary in the chapel, than Martha in the kitchen; though he does not condemn the one, yet he extols the other; Mary had chosen the good part.
Learn hence, that religion and the sevice of God must be the matter of our election and choice; we must choose the good part, and it being once chosen by us, it shall never be taken away from us: One thing is needful: and Mary hath chosen that good part, which shall never be taken away from her.
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