« PreviousContinue »
should perish. The sophistry of his argument lies in the application of the principle, in the false supposition that Jesus was a national peril. On the contrary, Jesus was the best friend of his nation, and would have saved them, had they listened.
The spirit that actuated Caiaphas to utter these words was a wicked spirit. He sought to compass the death of an innocent man by a cruel sophistry. But the Spirit of God made use of this man to declare a great prophecy of the redemption of man. It was the office of the high priest to deliver to the people the oracles of God; and in view of his office, the Holy Ghost employed even the design conceived in wickedness to predict the redemption of the world through the death of Jesus. This is a remarkable instance of the concurrence of the human and divine elements in inspiration. Here the thought of the man is wicked, and opposed to faith in Jesus; and yet by the power of God the very words which the high-priest utters in a wicked sense, become the vehicle of an inspired and holy thought.
We see also in the event God's recognition of a divinely appointed office, notwithstanding the unworthiness of the incumbent. God had established the office of high priest in Israel, and it was in virtue of that office that God employed this wicked man to utter these inspired words.
The Evangelist tells us that the sense that the Holy Ghost put into these words was broader than the high priest contemplated. He understood by “the nation” the Jewish people; and the Holy Ghost extended the sense to all the children of men.
The declaration of Caiaphas was definitive; from that time forth there was a corporate action to put Jesus to death.
Jesus' "hour" was not yet come; he had need of a few days more before he should offer himself up, and therefore he withdraws from Jerusalem up to the northern limits of the tribe of Benjamin to a city called Ephraim. This city is the Ephron of II. Chronicles, XIII. 19. His sojourn there is passed over in silence, but from this city he set out some days later on his last journey to Jerusalem.
It was required that a man should be legally clean in order to eat the passover in the temple. Hence on the days. immediately preceding the feast a great concourse of Jews came up to Jerusalem for this preliminary sanctification. The great theme on the lips of all was Jesus. The opposition of the Pharisees was known to the people, and they wonder if Jesus will come. The chief priests and Pharisees had declared Jesus' life forfeit, and any man was authorized to apprehend him.
LUKE XVII. II-19 And it came to pass, as II. Και εγένετο εν τω πορεύthey were on the way to Jeru- εσθαι εις Ιερουσαλήμ, και αυτός salem, that he was passing be- διήρχετο διά μέσον Σαμαρίας και tween Samaria and Galilee. Γαλιλαίας. And as he entered into
Και εισερχομένου αυτού a certain village, there met him είς τινα κώμην, απήντησαν αυτό ten men that were lepers, who δέκα λεπροί άνδρες, οι ανέστησαν stood afar off:
πόρρωθεν. 13. And they lifted up their 13. Και αυτοί ήραν φωνήν, voices, Saying: Jesus, Master, λέγοντες: 'Ιησού επιστάτα, ελέhave mercy on us.
ησον ημάς. 14. And when he saw them, 14. Και ιδών είπεν αυτοίς: he said unto them: Go and show Πορευθέντες επιδείξατε εαυτούς yourselves unto
the priests. . τοις ιερεύσιν. Και εγένετο εν τω And it came to pass, as they υπάγειν αυτούς, εκαθαρίσθησαν. went, they were cleansed.
15. And one of them, when 15. Eίς δε εξ αυτών, ιδών he saw that he was healed, ότι ιάθη, υπέστρεψεν, μετά φωνής turned back, with a loud voice μεγάλης δοξάζων τον Θεόν. glorifying God; 16, And he fell upon his
16. Και έπεσεν επί πρόσωπον face at his feet, giving him παρά τους πόδας αυτού, ευχαριthanks: and he was a Samari- στών αυτώ, και αυτός ήν Σαμαρείtan.
της. 17. And Jesus answering 17. 'Αποκριθείς δε ο Ιησούς, said: Were not ten cleansed? είπεν: Ουχί οι δέκα εκαθαρίσθηbut where are the nine?
σαν; οι δε εννέα πού; 18. Were there none found 18. Ουχ ευρέθησαν υποστρέthat returned to give glory to ψαντες δούναι δόξαν τώ Θεώ, ει God, save this stranger? μή ο αλλογενής ούτος;
19. And he said unto him: 19. Και είπεν αυτώ: 'Αναστάς Arise, and go thy way: thy πορεύου: η πίστις σου σέσωκέν σε. faith hath made thee whole.
In verse eleven dià uérov is supported by X, B, L, Tischendorf, Westcott and Hort; other authorities have ανά μέσον.
This event in the life of Jesus is only narrated by St. Luke. The reason may be that this grateful Samaritan is a representative of the Gentile races.
We are persuaded that the dià uérov indicates that the journey of the Lord lay between the two provinces, Samaria and Galilee. After the raising of Lazarus the Lord did not journey up into Galilee again. There are both profane and Scriptural precedents for the sense we give to the phrase, and our opinion is supported by Schegg, Schanz, Fillion, Wetstein, Keil, Weiss and Knabenbauer.
The present event is like to the cure of the leper recorded by St. Matthew VIII. 2-4; Luke V. 12-16. The chief difference is that in the former account there was but one leper, here there are ten lepers. In our Commentary on the former passages we have described leprosy. We have only to speak here of some special features of the present event. The lepers stand afar off, as they were forbidden to approach their fellow man. The Rabbi Johannan taught that the leper was forbidden to approach within a distance of four cubits of any one not infected, if the leper is on the windward side; but Rabbi Simeon extended the distance to a hundred cubits. The Mosaic Law did not fix the distance, but limited itself to a general prohibition to approach.
Though the fiercest hatred existed between Jew and Samaritan, we find in this group of lepers a Samaritan with the Jews. Their wretched condition has extinguished in them the national hatred, and had driven them to seek one another's society in their lonely exile.
Faith is observable in their loud cry from afar off to Jesus to have mercy on them.
Jesus tests their faith. He operates no immediate effect on them, but bids them go show themselves to the priests, whose duty it was to pronounce when a man had leprosy, and when he was cured. These men were not cured; they knew that the leprosy was upon them, and yet they are bidden to show themselves to the priests. If they had been without faith, they might have reasoned thus: It is absurd for us to go to the priests: we are not cured, and we need not the testimony of the priests to tell us that the fever of leprosy is in our blood, and the sores are in our members; Jesus has done nothing for us.
Such were the reflections of Naaman the Syrian, when Elisha would not come out to him, but bade him go wash in the Jordan. The Syrian was disappointed, and would have gone home, despising the prophet and the river Jordan, but his servants moved him to fulfill the easy command. Certainly it was not faith that led Naaman to the waters of the Jordan, and yet God healed him on account of the prophet Elisha.
But these lepers manifest a ready faith. Nothing seems to have been done for them, and yet they immediately set out to fulfil the command of Jesus. Their faith having been tried is rewarded, and as they went they were healed.
The next important feature in the event is the gratitude manifested by the one Samaritan. The Jewish lepers were nine in number; they were members of the chosen people, worshippers of the one true God. The one poor Samaritan was an outcast, a son of a despised and hated race.
The representation is ten to one; and yet not one of the Jews came to thank the great Healer; while the poor alien turned back with a loud voice glorifying God, and he fell at Jesus' feet, giving him thanks.
Jesus is disappointed that out of the ten only the stranger came back to thank God for the benefit received. He tells the prostrate man to arise, and go his way, and exhorts him to realize that the disposing cause of his cure was his faith. His cure was a temporal benefit, but the faith to which it bore relation was an abiding possession, the greatest of possessions.
If we should banish all other thoughts from our minds save this thought alone: How shall I believe with a perfect faith? we were the wisest of men. All the power of the great life of Jesus was ordered to that one object, that men might believe, and have life through believing. No power can resist power of faith.
of faith. It darts its bright rays through the black
est night of the world's gloom, and shows men the way to Heaven. It vanquishes death, and frees man from his power; and reclaims from the four winds the human dust that death has scattered, and rebuilds therefrom the immortal citizens of Heaven. It is the sole connecting link between earth and Heaven, the bridge by which we struggle up out of a dead world into a world of eternal life and joy. No man can please God without it, no man has anything of worth, if he is without it.
The action of the ten lepers furnishes an example of the world's conduct towards God. In the lepers the ratio of the ungrateful to the grateful was as nine to one; in the world at large the predominance of ingratitude is still very much greater. The three common benefits, of creation, redemption, and preservation should hold man in an ever conscious act of gratitude. And every day we receive special graces from God's Special Providence; and yet the creatures of the world have our heart, and we go on our way, and never turn back to thank God. When we are in need, we clamor loudly for help; but when we are in possession of what our heart desires, we are content to go on our way quite oblivious of the Giver. Men with the guilt of mortal sin on their souls cry out to God for mercy, and obtain it, and are raised out of spiritual death to life; and they go forth, and never feel that they have received anything. The world's voice is raised against ingratitude as a base, low vice; and who shall fitly describe the world's ingratitude to God? The Son of God died on the cross for the love of men; and they will not lift their eyes to him as he hangs on the cross, or give him one passing thought, as they pass along in pursuit of creatures. In the tabernacles of our churches Jesus remains for love of man; out of a thousand who pass, one may enter to adore his Redeemer. And even of the multitudes who appear before the Lord on the days of worship, not all are filled by grateful love.
We could do much better in this all-important affair, if we thought more on our duty to God. Knowledge must be the preamble to love, and the world has our love, because it has our thoughts. It is easier to think of the world. The world is a false lover, who flatters our vices, and leads us after