When therefore the LORD knew how the Pharisees had heard that Jesus made and baptized more disciples than John,…
1. The first signs of hostility to Christ (ver. 1).
2. The prudence of the Master. Just as it was necessary for Him to die for a world's salvation, so now it is required that He should live in order that the true cause and nature of His death may be manifest. There is therefore nothing unworthy about this escape.
3. We must seek the explanation of this movement, not in the eternal decrees. Samaria would prove a neutral zone to keep His enemies at a distance, and while passing through it would not probably be followed. And besides, it admitted of His utilizing what might have been an anxious period and a waste of time.
I. HE IGNORED A FALSE DISTINCTION. Ceremonial cleanness and goodness were confounded by the Jews; a confusion rectified by the Parable of the Good Samaritan. Church and society are still full of such distinctions.
1. It is for us, not wantonly, but on sufficient occasion to expose and set at nought the error.
2. To get at true distinctions one must first expose false ones. But we must be sure that it is false and that the true does not preponderate, and that we have something better to substitute.
3. Wisdom and courage arc, therefore, necessary.
4. No safer guide can be found than a strong desire to do good and glorify God.
II. HE CONVERTED AN INCONVENIENCE TO A SPIRITUAL USE. He is a fugitive, but He does not hurry through the country, nor forget its spiritual destitution in His own sorrows.
1. Annoyance or ill temper at the disturbance of settled plans ought not to make us weary in well doing. Many are idle in the Church because they cannot get the particular thing they like best. But the greatest discoveries and reforms have been effected by the determination to do what we can.
2. Illtreatment on the part of professors is no excuse for idleness or cynicism.
3. Nor ought we to be engrossed with our own troubles. Doing good is the way to recovery.
4. Let us try to improve the unpleasant and unfortunate people and leave the world better than we find it.
III. A SPECIAL BLESSING ATTENDED HIS IRREGULAR EXTEMPORIZED MISSION. Each incident links itself easily on to another. It almost seems a beautiful creature of circumstances. Inconveniences are often Providential. A fault in the strata may point to richer seams.
(A. F. Muir, M. A.)
Parallel VersesKJV: When therefore the Lord knew how the Pharisees had heard that Jesus made and baptized more disciples than John,