1And it came to pass, when Jesus had made an end of commanding his twelve disciples, he departed thence to teach and to preach in their cities.
1 CHAPTER XI.
NOTES ON CHAP. XI.
Verse 1. This verse properly belongs to the preceding chapter,
from which it should on no account be separated; as with that it
has the strictest connection, but with this it has none.
To teach and to preach] To teach, to give private instructions
to as many as came unto him; and to preach, to proclaim publicly,
that the kingdom of God is at hand; two grand parts of the duty of
a Gospel minister.
Their cities] The cities of the Jews.
2Now when John had heard in the prison the works of Christ, he sent two of his disciples,
3And said unto him, Art thou he that should come, or do we look for another?
3 Verse 3. Art thou he that should come] οερχομενος, he that
cometh, seems to have been a proper name of the Messiah; to save
or deliver is necessarily implied. See Clarke on Lu 7:19.
There is some difficulty in what is here spoken of John. Some
have thought he was utterly ignorant of our Lord's Divine mission,
and that he sent merely for his own information; but this is
certainly inconsistent with his own declaration, Lu 3:15, &c.;
Joh 1:15, 26, 33; 3:28, &c. Others suppose he sent the message
merely for the instruction of his disciples; that, as he saw his
end approaching, he wished them to have the fullest conviction
that Jesus was the Messiah, that they might attach themselves to
A third opinion takes a middle course between the two former,
and states that, though John was at first perfectly convinced that
Jesus was the Christ, yet, entertaining some hopes that he would
erect a secular kingdom in Judea, wished to know whether this was
likely to take place speedily. It is very probable that John now
began, through the length of his confinement, to entertain doubts,
relative to his kingdom, which perplexed and harassed his mind;
and he took the most reasonable way to get rid of them at once,
viz. by applying to Christ himself.
Two of his disciples] Instead of δυο, two, several excellent
MSS., with both the Syriac, Armenian, Gothic, and one copy of the
Itala, have δια, by; he sent by his disciples.
4 Jesus answered and said unto them, Go and shew John again those things which ye do hear and see:
4 Verse 4. Go and show John the things-ye do hear and see]
Christ would have men to judge only of him and of others by their
works. This is the only safe way of judging. A man is not to be
credited because he professes to know such and such things; but
because he demonstrates by his conduct that his pretensions are
5The blind receive their sight, and the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, and the poor have the gospel preached to them.
5 Verse 5. The blind receive their sight, &c.] αναβλεπωσι, look
upwards, contemplating the heavens which their Lord hath made.
The lame walk] περιπατωσι, they walk about; to give the
fullest proof to the multitude that their cure was real. These
miracles were not only the most convincing proofs of the supreme
power of Christ, but were also emblematic of that work of
salvation which he effects in the souls of men. 1. Sinners are
blind; their understanding is so darkened by sin that they see not
the way of truth and salvation. 2. They are lame-not able to walk
in the path of righteousness. 3. They are leprous, their souls
are defiled with sin, the most loathsome and inveterate disease;
deepening in themselves, and infecting others. 4. They are deaf
to the voice of God, his word, and their own conscience. 5. They
are dead in trespasses and sins; God, who is the life of the soul,
being separated from it by iniquity. Nothing less than the power
of Christ can redeem from all this; and, from all this, that power
of Christ actually does redeem every penitent believing soul.
Giving sight to the blind, and raising the dead, are allowed by
the ancient rabbins to be works which the Messiah should perform,
when he should manifest himself in Israel.
The poor have the Gospel preached to them.] And what was this
Gospel? Why, the glad tidings that Jesus Christ came into the
world to save sinners: that he opens the eyes of the blind;
enables the lame to walk with an even, steady, and constant pace
in the way of holiness; cleanses the lepers from all the
defilement of their sins; opens the ears of the deaf to hear
his pardoning words; and raises those who were dead in trespasses
and sins to live in union with himself to all eternity.
6And blessed is he, who soever shall not be offended in me.
6 Verse 6. Blessed is he whosoever shall not be offended in me.]
Or, Happy is he who will not be stumbled at me; for the word
σκανδαλιζεσθαι, in its root, signifies to hit against or stumble
over a thing, which one may meet with in the way. The Jews, as
was before remarked, expected a temporal deliverer. Many might he
tempted to reject Christ, because of his mean appearance, &c., and
so lose the benefit of salvation through him. To instruct and
caution such, our blessed Lord spoke these words. By his poverty
and meanness he condemns the pride and pomp of this world. He
who will not humble himself, and become base, and poor, and
vile in his own eyes, cannot enter into the kingdom of God. It is
the poor, in general, who hear the Gospel; the rich and the great
are either too busy, or too much gratified with temporal things,
to pay any attention to the voice of God.
7 ¶ And as they departed, Jesus began to say unto the multitudes concerning John, What went ye out into the wilderness to see? A reed shaken with the wind?
7 Verse 7. What went ye out into the wilderness to see?] The
purport of our Lord's design, in this and the following verses, is
to convince the scribes and Pharisees of the inconsistency of
their conduct in acknowledging John Baptist for a divinely
authorized teacher, and not believing in the very Christ which he
pointed out to them. He also shows, from the excellencies of
John's character, that their confidence in him was not misplaced,
and that this was a farther argument why they should have believed
in him, whom the Baptist proclaimed as being far superior to
A reed shaken with the wind?] An emblem of an irresolute,
unsteady mind, which believes and speaks one thing to-day, and
another to-morrow. Christ asks these Jews if they had ever found
any thing in John like this: Was he not ever steady and uniform in
the testimony he bore to me? The first excellency which Christ
notices in John was his steadiness; convinced once of the truth,
he continued to believe and assert it. This is essentially
necessary to every preacher, and to every private Christian. He
who changes about from opinion to opinion, and from one sect or
party to another, is never to be depended on; there is much reason
to believe that such a person is either mentally weak, or has
never been rationally and divinely convinced of the truth.
8But what went ye out for to see? A man clothed in soft raiment? behold, they that wear soft clothing are in kings' houses.
8 Verse 8. A man clothed in soft raiment?] A second excellency
in John was, his sober and mortified life. A preacher of the
Gospel should have nothing about him which savours of effeminacy
and worldly pomp: he is awfully mistaken who thinks to prevail on
the world to hear him and receive the truth, by conforming himself
to its fashions and manners. Excepting the mere colour of his
clothes, we can scarcely now distinguish a preacher of the Gospel,
whether in the establishment of the country, or out of it, from
the merest worldly man. Ruffles, powder, and fribble seem
universally to prevail. Thus the Church and the world begin to
shake hands, the latter still retaining its enmity to God. How
can those who profess to preach the doctrine of the cross act in
this way? Is not a worldly-minded preacher, in the most peculiar
sense, an abomination in the eyes of the Lord?
Are in kings' houses.] A third excellency in John was, he did
not affect high things. He was contented to live in the desert,
and to announce the solemn and severe truths of his doctrine to
the simple inhabitants of the country. Let it be well observed,
that the preacher who conforms to the world in his clothing, is
never in his element but when he is frequenting the houses and
tables of the rich and great.
9But what went ye out for to see? A prophet? yea, I say unto you, and more than a prophet.
9 Verse 9. A prophet? yea-and more than a prophet] That is, one
more excellent (περισσοτερον) than a prophet; one greatly beyond
all who had come before him, being the immediate forerunner of
Christ, (see below,) and who was especially commissioned to
prepare the way of the Lord. This was a fourth excellency: he was
a prophet, a teacher, a man divinely commissioned to point out
Jesus and his salvation; and more excellent than any of the old
prophets, because he not only pointed out this Christ, but saw
him, and had the honour of dying for that sacred truth which he
steadily believed and boldly proclaimed.
10For this is he, of whom it is written, Behold, I send my messenger before thy face, which shall prepare thy way before thee.
10 Verse 10. Behold, I send my messenger] A fifth excellency of
the Baptist was, his preparing the way of the Lord; being the
instrument, in God's hand, of preparing the people's hearts to
receive the Lord Jesus; and it was probably through his preaching
that so many thousands attached themselves to Christ, immediately
on his appearing as a public teacher.
11Verily I say unto you, Among them that are born of women there hath not risen a greater than John the Baptist: notwithstanding he that is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.
11 Verse 11. A greater than John the Baptist] A sixth excellency
of the Baptist-he was greater than any prophet from the beginning
of the world till that time:-lst. Because he was prophesied of by
them, Isa 40:3, and Mal 3:1, where Jesus Christ himself seems to
be the speaker. 2ndly. Because he had the privilege of showing
the fulfilment of their predictions, by pointing out that Christ
has now come, which they foretold should come. And 3dly. Because
he saw and enjoyed that salvation which they could only foretell.
Notwithstanding, he that is least in the kingdom of heaven] By
the kingdom of heaven in this verse is meant, the fulness of the
blessings of the Gospel of peace; which fulness was not known till
after Christ had been crucified, and had risen from the dead. Now
the least in this kingdom, the meanest preacher of a crucified,
risen, and glorified Saviour, was greater than John, who was not
permitted to live to see the plenitude of Gospel grace, in the
pouring out of the Holy Spirit. Let the reader observe, 1st. That
the kingdom of heaven here does not mean the state of future
glory. See Mt 3:2. 2dly. That it is not in holiness or
devotedness to God that the least in this kingdom is greater than
John; but 3dly. That it is merely in the difference of the
ministry. The prophets pointed out a Christ that was coming; John
showed that that Christ was then among them; and the preachers of
the Gospel prove that this Christ has suffered, and entered into
his glory, and that repentance and remission of sins are
proclaimed through his blood. There is a saying similar to this
among the Jews: "Even the servant maid that passed through the Red
Sea, saw what neither Ezekiel, nor any other of the prophets had
12And from the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffereth violence, and the violent take it by force.
12 Verse 12. The kingdom of heaven suffereth violence] The
tax-gatherers and heathens, whom the scribes and Pharisees think
have no right to the kingdom of the Messiah, filled with holy zeal
and earnestness, seize at once on the proffered mercy of the
Gospel, and so take the kingdom as by force from those learned
doctors who claimed for themselves the chiefest places in that
kingdom. Christ himself said, The tax-gatherers and harlots go
before you into the kingdom of God. See the parallel place,
He that will take, get possession of the kingdom of righteousness,
peace, and spiritual joy, must be in earnest: all hell will oppose
him in every step he takes; and if a man be not absolutely
determined to give up his sins and evil companions, and have his
soul saved at all hazards, and at every expense, he will surely
perish everlastingly. This requires a violent earnestness.
13For all the prophets and the law prophesied until John.
13 Verse 13. All the prophets and the law prophesied until John.]
I believe προεφητευσαν means here, they taught, or continued to
instruct. They were the instructers concerning the Christ who was
to come, till John came and showed that all the predictions of the
one, and the types and ceremonies of the other were now
about to be fully and finally accomplished; for Christ was now
revealed. The word is taken in this sense, Mt 7:22.
14And if ye will receive it, this is Elias, which was for to come.
14 Verse 14. This is Elias, which was for to come.] This should
always be written Elijah, that as strict a conformity as possible
might be kept up between the names in the Old Testament and the
New. The Prophet Malachi, who predicted the coming of the Baptist
in the spirit and power of Elijah, gave the three following
distinct characteristics of him. First, That he should be the
forerunner and messenger of the Messiah: Behold I send my
messenger before me, Mal 3:1. Secondly, That he should appear
before the destruction of the second temple: Even the Lord whom ye
seek shall suddenly come to his temple, ibid. Thirdly, That he
should preach repentance to the Jews; and that, some time after,
the great and terrible day of the Lord should come, and the Jewish
land be smitten with a curse, Mal 4:5, 6. Now these three
characters agree perfectly with the conduct of the Baptist, and
what shortly followed his preaching, and have not been found in
any one else; which is a convincing proof that Jesus was the
15 He that hath ears to hear, let him hear.
15 Verse 15. He that hath ears to hear, let him hear.] As if our
Lord had said, These things are so clear and manifest that a man
has only to hear them to be convinced and fully satisfied of their
truth. But neither the Jews of that time nor of the succeeding
times to the present day, have heard or considered, these things.
When spoken to on these subjects, their common custom is to stop
their ears, spit out, and blaspheme; this shows not only a bad,
but a ruined cause. They are deeply and wilfully blind. They
will not come unto the light, lest their deeds should become
manifest, that they are not wrought in God. They have ears but
they will not hear.
16 ¶ But whereunto shall I liken this generation? It is like unto children sitting in the markets, and calling unto their fellows,
16 Verse 16. But whereunto shall I liken this generation?] That
is, the Jewish people-τηνγενεανταυτην, this race: and so the
word γενεα is often to be understood in the evangelists.
In the markets] Or, places of concourse, αγοραις, from
αγειρω, I gather together; not a market-place only, but any place
of public resort: probably meaning here, places of public
Calling unto their fellows] Or, companions. Instead of
εταιροις, companions, many of the best MSS. have ετεροις,
others. The great similarity of the words might have easily
produced this difference.
There are some to whom every thing is useful in leading them to
God; others, to whom nothing is sufficient. Every thing is good
to an upright mind, every thing bad to a vicious heart.
17And saying, We have piped unto you, and ye have not danced; we have mourned unto you, and ye have not lamented.
17 Verse 17. We have piped unto you, and ye have not danced] We
have begun the music, which should have been followed by the
dance, but ye have not attended to it.
We have mourned-and ye have not lamented.] Ye have not smote
the breast: ουκεκοψασθε, from κοπτομαι, to strike, or beat
the breasts with the hands, particularly in lamentation. So used,
Na 2:7; Lu 18:13; 23:48, and by the best Greek and Roman
writers. There is an allusion here to those funeral lamentations
explained Mt 9:23.
18For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, He hath a devil.
18 Verse 18. For John came neither eating nor drinking] Leading a
very austere and mortified life: and yet, he did not receive him.
A sinner will not be persuaded that what he has no mind to imitate
can come from God. There are some who will rather blame holiness
itself, than esteem it in those whom they do not like.
He hath a devil.] He is a vile hypocrite, influenced by a demon
to deceive and destroy the simple.
19The Son of man came eating and drinking, and they say, Behold a man gluttonous, and a winebibber, a friend of publicans and sinners. But wisdom is justified of her children.
19 Verse 19. The Son of man came eating and drinking] That is,
went wheresoever he was invited to eat a morsel of bread, and
observed no rigid fasts: how could he, who had no corrupt
appetites to mortify or subdue?
They say, Behold a man gluttonous, &c.] Whatever measures the
followers of God may take, they will not escape the censure of the
world: the best way is not to be concerned at them. Iniquity,
being always ready to oppose and contradict the Divine conduct,
often contradicts and exposes itself.
But wisdom is justified of her children.] Those who follow the
dictates of true wisdom ever justify, point out as excellent, the
holy maxims by which they are guided, for they find the way
pleasantness, and the path, peace. Of, here, and in many places
of our translation, ought to be written by in modern English.
Some suppose that our blessed Lord applies the epithet of η
σοφια, that Wisdom to himself; as he does that of Son of man, in
the first clause of the verse: and that this refers to the sublime
description given of wisdom in Prov. 8. Others have supposed that
by the children or sons (τεκνων) of wisdom our Lord means
John Baptist and himself, who came to preach the doctrines of true
wisdom to the people, and who were known to be teachers come from
God by all those who seriously attended to their ministry: they
recommending themselves, by the purity of their doctrines, and the
holiness of their lives, to every man's conscience in the sight of
God. It is likely, however, that by children our Lord simply
means the fruits or effects of wisdom, according to the Hebrew
idiom, which denominates the fruits or effects of a thing, its
children. So in Job 5:7,
sparks emitted by coals are termed beney resheph, the
children of the coal. It was probably this well known meaning of
the word, which led the Codex Vaticanus, one of the most ancient
MSS. in the world, together with the Syriac, Persic, Coptic, and
Ethiopic, to read εργων, works, instead of τεκνων, sons
or children. Wisdom is vindicated by her works, i.e. the good
effects prove that the cause is excellent.
The children of true wisdom can justify all God's ways in their
salvation; as they know that all the dispensations of Providence
work together for the good of those who love and fear God. See on
20 ¶ Then began he to upbraid the cities where in most of his mighty works were done, because they repented not:
20 Verse 20. Then began he to upbraid the cities] The more God
has done to draw men unto himself, the less excusable are they if
they continue in iniquity. If our blessed Lord had not done every
thing that was necessary for the salvation of these people, he
could not have reproached them for their impenitence.
21Woe unto thee, Chorazin! woe unto thee, Bethsaida! for if the mighty works, which were done in you, had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes.
21 Verse 21. Wo unto thee, Chorazin-Bethsaida!] It would be
better to translate the word ουαισοι, alas for thee, than wo to
thee. The former is an exclamation of pity; the latter a
denunciation of wrath. It is evident that our Lord used it in the
former sense. It is not known precisely where Chorazin was
situated; but as Christ joins it in the same censure with
Bethsaida, which was in Upper Galilee, beyond the sea, Mr 6:45,
it is likely that Chorazin was in the same quarter. Though the
people in these cities were (generally) impenitent, yet there is
little doubt that several received the word of life. Indeed,
Bethsaida itself furnished not less than three of the twelve
apostles, Philip, Andrew, and Peter. See Joh 1:44.
Tyre and Sidon] Were two heathen cities, situated on the shore
of the Mediterranean Sea, into which it does not appear that
Christ ever went, though he was often very nigh to them; see
They would have repented long ago] παλαι, formerly, seems here
to refer to the time of Ezekiel, who denounced destruction against
Tyre and Sidon, Eze 26, 27, and 28. Our Lord, then, intimates
that, if Ezekiel had done as many miracles in those cities as
himself had in Chorazin and Bethsaida, the inhabitants would have
repented in sackcloth and ashes, with the deepest and most genuine
A Hindoo who renounces the secular life, and becomes a religious
mendicant, often covers himself with a coarse cloth sprinkled over
with ashes. This is the sackcloth and ashes which our Lord
refers to; and this covering was the outward sign of deep
repentance, and forsaking of sin.
22But I say unto you, It shall be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon at the day of judgment, than for you.
22 Verse 22. But-it shall be more tolerable] Every thing will
help to overwhelm the impenitent at the tribunal of God-the
benefits and favours which they have received, as well as the sins
which they have committed.
23And thou, Capernaum, which art exalted unto heaven, shalt be brought down to hell: for if the mighty works, which have been done in thee, had been done in Sodom, it would have remained until this day.
23 Verse 23. Thou, Capernaum-exalted unto heaven] A Hebrew
metaphor, expressive of the utmost prosperity, and the enjoyment
of the greatest privileges. This was properly spoken of this
city, because that in it our Lord dwelt, and wrought many of his
Shalt be brought down to hell] Perhaps not meaning, here, the
place of torment, but rather a state of desolation. The original
word is Hades, αδης, from α, not, and ιδειν, to see;
the invisible receptacle or mansion of the dead, answering to
sheol, in Hebrew; and implying often, 1st. the grave; 2dly. the
state of separate souls, or unseen world of spirits, whether of
torment, Lu 16:23,
or, in general, Re 1:18; 6:8; 20:13, 14.
The word hell, used in the common translation, conveys now an
improper meaning of the original word; because hell is only used
to signify the place of the damned. But, as the word hell comes
from the Anglo-Saxon, helan, to cover, or hide, hence the tiling
or slating of a house is called, in some parts of England
(particularly Cornwall) heling, to this day; and the covers of
books (in Lancashire) by the same name: so the literal import of
the original word αδης was formerly well expressed by it.
Here it means a state of the utmost wo, and ruin, and desolation,
to which these impenitent cities should be reduced. This
prediction of our Lord was literally fulfilled; for, in the wars
between the Romans and the Jews, these cities were totally
destroyed, so that no traces are now found of Bethsaida, Chorazin,
or Capernaum. See Bp. PEARCE.
24But I say unto you, That it shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom in the day of judgment, than for thee.
24 Verse 24. But-it shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom]
γησοδομων, the land of the Sodomites; i.e. the ancient
inhabitants of that city and its neighbourhood.
In Jude, Jude 1:7,
we are told that these persons are suffering the vengeance of
eternal fire. The destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah happened
A. M. 2107, which was 1897 years before the incarnation. What a
terrible thought is this! It will be more tolerable for certain
sinners, who have already been damned nearly four thousand years,
than for those who, live and die infidels under the Gospel! There
are various degrees of punishments in hell, answerable to various
degrees of guilt, and the contempt manifested to, and the abuse
made of; the preaching of the Gospel, will rank semi-infidel
Christians in the highest list of transgressors, and purchase them
the hottest place in hell! Great God! save the reader from this
Day of judgment] May either refer to that particular time in
which God visits for iniquity, or to that great day in which he
will judge the world by the Lord Jesus Christ. The day of Sodom's
judgment was that in which it was destroyed by fire and brimstone
from heaven, Ge 19:24;
and the day of judgment to Chorazin, Bethsaida, and Capernaum, was
the time in which they were destroyed by the Romans, Mt 11:23.
But there is a day of final judgment, when Hades itself, (sinners
in a state of partial punishment in the invisible world) shall be
cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, which is the second
death. See Re 20:14.
25 ¶ At that time Jesus answered and said, I thank thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes.
25 Verse 25. I thank thee] εξομολογουμαισοι, I fully agree with
thee-I am perfectly of the same mind. Thou hast acted in all
things according to the strictest holiness, justice, mercy, and
Wise and prudent] The scribes and Pharisees, vainly puffed up
by their fleshly minds, and having their foolish hearts darkened,
refusing to submit to the righteousness of God (God's method of
saving man by Christ) and going about to establish their own
righteousness, (their own method of saving themselves,) they
rejected God's counsel, and God sent the peace and salvation of
the Gospel to others, called here babes, (his disciples,)
simple-hearted persons, who submitted to be instructed and saved
in God's own way. Let it be observed, that our Lord does not
thank the Father that he had hidden these things from the wise and
prudent, but that, seeing they were hidden from them, he had
revealed them to the others.
There is a remarkable saying in the Talmudists, which casts
light upon this: "Rab. Jochanan said: 'From the time in which the
temple was destroyed, wisdom was taken away from the prophets, and
give a to fools and children.' Bava Bathra, fol. 12. Again: 'In
the days of the Messiah, every species of wisdom, even the most
profound, shall, be revealed; and this even to children.'" Synop.
Sohar. fol. 10.
26Even so, Father: for so it seemed good in thy sight.
26 Verse 26. Even so, Father] ναιοπατηρ. An emphatical
ratification of the preceding address.
It was right that the heavenly wisdom, despised, rejected, and
persecuted by the scribes and Pharisees, should be offered to the
simple people, and afterwards to the foolish people, the Gentiles,
who are the children of wisdom, and justify God in his ways, by
bringing forth that fruit of the Gospel of which the Pharisees
refused to receive even the seed.
27All things are delivered unto me of my Father: and no man knoweth the Son, but the Father; neither knoweth any man the Father, save the Son, and he to whom soever the Son will reveal him.
27 Verse 27. All things are delivered unto me of my Father] This
is a great truth, and the key of the science of salvation. The
man Christ Jesus receives from the Father, and in consequence of
his union with the eternal Godhead becomes the Lord and sovereign
Dispenser of all things. All the springs of the Divine favour are
in the hands of Christ, as Priest of God, and atoning Sacrifice
for men: all good proceeds from him, as Saviour, Mediator, Head,
Pattern, Pastor, and sovereign Judge of the whole world.
No man knoweth the Son, but the Father; neither knoweth any man,
&c.] None can fully comprehend the nature and attributes of God,
but Christ; and none can fully comprehend the nature, incarnation,
&c., of Christ, but the Father. The full comprehension and
acknowledgment of the Godhead, and the mystery of the Trinity,
belong to God alone.
28 ¶ Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.
28 Verse 28. Come unto me] This phrase in the new covenant
implies simply, believing in Christ, and becoming his disciple, or
All ye that labour and are heavy laden] The metaphor here
appears to be taken from a man who has a great load laid upon him,
which he must carry to a certain place: every step he takes
reduces his strength, and renders his load the more oppressive.
However, it must be carried on; and he labours, uses his utmost
exertions, to reach the place where it is to be laid down. A kind
person passing by, and, seeing his distress, offers to ease him of
his load, that he may enjoy rest.
The Jews, heavily laden with the burdensome rites of the Mosaic
institution, rendered still more oppressive by the additions made
by the scribes and Pharisees, who, our Lord says, (Mt 23:4,)
bound on heavy burdens; and labouring, by their observance of the
law, to make themselves pleasing to God, are here invited to lay
down their load, and receive the salvation procured for them by
Sinners, wearied in the ways of iniquity, are also invited to
come to this Christ, and find speedy relief.
Penitents, burdened with the guilt of their crimes, may come to
this Sacrifice, and find instant pardon.
Believers, sorely tempted, and oppressed by the remains of the
carnal mind, may come to this blood, that cleanseth from all
unrighteousness; and, purified from all sin, and powerfully
succoured in every temptation, they shall find uninterrupted rest
in this complete Saviour.
All are invited to come, and all are promised rest. If few
find rest from sin and vile affections, it is because few come to
Christ to receive it.
29Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.
29 Verse 29. Take my yoke upon you] Strange paradox! that a man
already weary and overloaded must take a new weight upon him, in
order to be eased and find rest! But this advice is similar to
that saying, Ps 55:22.
Cast thy burden upon the Lord, and he will sustain thee; i.e.
trust thy soul and concerns to him, and he will carry both thyself
and thy load.
I am meek and lowly in heart] Wherever pride and anger dwell,
there is nothing but mental labour and agony; but, where the
meekness and humility of Christ dwell, all is smooth, even,
peaceable, and quiet; for the work of righteousness is peace, and
the effect of righteousness, quietness and assurance for ever.
30For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.
30 Verse 30. For my yoke is easy] My Gospel imposes nothing that
is difficult; on the contrary, it provides for the complete
removal of all that which oppresses and renders man miserable,
viz. sin. The commandments of Christ are not grievous. Hear the
whole: Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and
thy neighbour as thyself. Can any thing be more congenial to the
nature of man than love?-such a love as is inspired by God, and in
which the soul rests supremely satisfied and infinitely happy?
Taste, and know, by experience, how good the Lord is, and how
worthy his yoke is to be taken, borne, and loved. This most
tender invitation of the compassionate Jesus is sufficient to
inspire the most diffident soul with confidence.
See Clarke on Mr 8:34.
Creeshna, the incarnate God of the Hindoos, is represented in
the Geeta addressing one of his beloved disciples thus: "I am the
creator of all things, and all things proceed from me. Those who
are endued with spiritual wisdom, believe this, and worship me:
their very hearts and minds are in me; they rejoice among
themselves, and delight in speaking of my name, and teaching one
another my doctrine. I gladly inspire those who are constantly
employed in my service with that use of reason by which they come
unto me; and, in compassion, I stand in my own nature, and
dissipate the darkness of their ignorance with the light of the
lamp of wisdom." Bhagvat Geeta, p. 84.
The word aval, among the Jews, which we properly enough
translate yoke, signified not only that sort of neck-harness by
which bullocks drew in wagons, carts, or in the plough; but also
any kind of bond, or obligation, to do some particular thing, or
to do some particular work. By them it is applied to the
1. The yoke of the KINGDOM of heaven, -obedience
to the revealed will of God.
2. The yoke of the LAW, -the necessity of obeying all
the rites, ceremonies, &c., of the Mosaic institution.
3. The yoke of the PRECEPT, -the necessity of performing
that particular obligation by which any person had bound himself,
such as that of the Nazarite, &c.
4. The yoke of REPENTANCE, -without which, they
knew, they could not enter into the kingdom of heaven. With the
Jews, repentance not only implied forsaking sin, but fasting,
5. The yoke of FAITH, -the necessity of believing in
the promised Messiah.
6. The DIVINE yoke, -the obligation to live a
spiritual life; a life of thanksgiving and gratitude unto God.
In Shemoth Rabba it is said: "Because the ten tribes did not
take the yoke of the holy and blessed God upon them, therefore
Sennacherib led them into captivity."
CHRIST's yoke means, the obligation to receive him as the
MESSIAH, to believe his doctrine, and to be in all things
conformed to his Word and to his Spirit.