Luke 21:27


I. THE GREATNESS OF THE EVENT. Whether our Lord's coming shall be pro-millennial or post-millennial we stay not to inquire. The great importance attaches to the fact of the second coming of the Son of man, which this section describes and which all Christians believe. The future coming of the Son of man naturally leads us back in thought to his first coming. The world had waited long for that blessed day. Patriarchs had looked forward to it, but it was in faith; prophets saw it, but it was in vision; saints sighed for its approach, but it was still a great way off - they hoped for its arrival, but they died before the promise was fulfilled; servants of God longed for its coming, and when it at length arrived they felt so satisfied that there seemed nothing further for them to desire - the language of Simeon expressed their thoughts, "Now, Lord, lettest thou thy servant depart in peace, according to thy word: for mine eyes have seen thy salvation." Angels celebrated it on the plains of Bethlehem, and sang in heavenly carol, "Glory to God in the highest, peace on earth, and good will to men." The people of God look forward with equal longing and equal eagerness to the day of Christ's second coming. They look and long for it as the period of complete redemption; they expect it as the time of home-gathering of all their brethren in the Lord; in anticipation of that great deliverance and of that blessed reunion they cry, "Even so, Lord Jesus, come quickly."

II. THE GLORY OF HIS COMING. He will come, we are taught to believe, personally, visibly, and gloriously. He will come "in the clouds. The clouds of heaven serve many important purposes; they screen from the heat of the sun by day, and moderate the radiation of the earth by night. Sometimes they supply from their contents moisture to plants, and bring gladness to the thirsty ground; sometimes they pour down the water that originates springs or swells rivers; sometimes they cover with snow the polar regions. Those cloud-masses, as they float in the atmosphere, now approach within a mile of the earth, again ascend to the distance of five or six miles above its surface. Sometimes they curl in thin, parallel, silvery streaks; sometimes they form dense conical or convex heaps; sometimes, at the approach of night, they spread out in wide low-lying horizontal sheets; sometimes, fraught with storm, they move like a dark canopy overhead; again they unite and form various combinations. At all times they claim our attention, and commend themselves to our admiration by their fantastic forms, their changing colors, their varying density, and their strange combinations. The views of a kaleidoscope are nothing compared with the manifold aspects of the clouds. The clouds of heaven, then, are objects of great beauty, grandeur, and glory. The ancient heathens had a just appreciation of the magnificence of the clouds, and accordingly associated them with their highest conceptions of majesty. They represented their deities as clothed with clouds, or seated on clouds, or surrounded with clouds, as if to hide from mortal gaze their excessive splendor. In Scripture, also, the true God is represented as making the clouds his chariot, and walking upon the wings of the wind; and, again, we read that his pavilion round about him were dark waters, and thick clouds of the skies." When Isaiah predicts the destruction of Egypt and the confusion of its idols from the hand of the Lord, he uses the sublime representation, "Behold, the Lord rideth upon a swift cloud, and shall come into Egypt." Daniel employs similar language in relation to the Son of man: "Behold, one like the Son of man came with the clouds of heaven, and came to the Ancient of days, and they brought him near before him. And there was given him dominion, and glory, and a kingdom, that all people, nations, and languages, should serve him." The representation before us here is in accordance also with our Lord's reply, when, in answer to his question about his Messiahship, he directed their attention from the humility of his first to the honor of his second coming, saying, "Ye shall see the Son of man sitting on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven." So also, when he was going to part from his disciples, when he was going to leave our world, when his feet last stood on Olivet, when he was about to ascend to his Father and our Father, to his God and our God, the cloud became his vehicle, and coming under him received (ὑπέλαβεν) him out of the disciples' sight; and in that car of cloud he rose onward, and mounted upward to the right hand of the Father everlasting. Thence he shall come again with glorious majesty, according to the promise, "This same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven." Further, in the Apocalypse, the Apostle John's representation of Christ's coming with clouds is designed and calculated to signify the grandeur and the glory, the solemnity and the sublimity of his second advent: "Behold, he cometh with clouds; and every eye shall see him, and they also which pierced him: and all kindreds of the earth shall wail because of him. Even so, Amen."

III. THE GLORY AND POWER WITH WHICH HE COMES. Every manifestation of glory shall attend him; every symbol of unspeakable splendor shall accompany him; every token of dignity shall signalize him; every adjunct of might and magnificence shall mark his advent. The Son of man shall come with great power and glory; all the holy angels shall swell his train. The dead in Christ shall rise first, and swell that assemblage; they that are still alive, and remain till that dread day, shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. Can anything be grander than this? Can anything be more august? Can anything be more solemn? Can anything be more awe-inspiring? Is there anything more calculated to overwhelm with consternation the wicked? Is there anything more fitted to create deep and universal alarm among the ungodly? What, on the other hand, can be more inspiriting to the believer? What more encouraging and comforting to the child of God? What more suitable to nerve to high effort and holy purpose than the prospect of being presented faultless in that day, and amid that assembly, and before the presence of his glory, with exceeding joy?

"A hope so great and so Divine
May trials well endure,
And purge the soul from sense and sin,
As Christ himself is pure."

IV. THE OBJECT or his coming. We may now reflect for a moment on the great purposes for which Christ shall come the second time. At first he came in weakness, but at his next coming he will take to him his great power and reign. At first he came in dishonor, born in a stable, cradled in a manger, being "despised and rejected of men;" but then he shall come in dignity, and so that "every eye shall see him," every tongue confess him, and every knee bow before him. At first he came in a servile, suffering state; but then in awful majesty and glory everlasting - in his own glory, and in the glory of his Father. At first he came to call sinners to repentance; but then to summon each to his reward, be it recompense or retribution, and "to give every man according as his work shall be." It is true that the coming of the Son of man described in the verses immediately before us has for its specific object the grand assemblage of his saints to meet him; the accessories of the resurrection, the transformation of the living, and the general judgment are left out of sight. From the tribulation connected with the fall of Jerusalem the Savior had looked far forward into other days, when great changes, whether literal and cosmical, or figurative and political, shall precede and serve as precursors of the second coming of the Son of man. If the language is understood figuratively, the darkening of the sun may denote the eclipse of ecclesiastical authority; that of the moon, the collapse of civil polity; while the stars or potentates shall be falling or waning (the form of the future made up of substantive verb and participle, implying a more durable effect than the simple future). In the parable of the fig tree, however, he reverts to the precursors of the dissolution of the jewish state and the destruction of its capital; and affirms that, as the tender leaf-buds of the fig tree signified the near approach of harvest-time (θέρος), so the signs already specified in an early part of this chapter indicated the fast-approaching destruction of the sanctuary and city of Jerusalem. If, then, the statement of ver. 30, "that this generation shall not pass, till all these things be done," be referred to the end of the Jewish state, the word γενεὰ retains its ordinary sense of generation or contemporary race, which some insist on. If, on the other hand, the end of the age or world be referred to, whether the coming of the Son of man be for the purpose of ushering in the millennium, that is, pre-millennial, or for the final winding up of all things, the word γενεὰ must be understood as equivalent γένος, race, that is, the people or nation of the Jews, or, according to some, the race of men in general, more especially the generation of the faithful.

V. THE DIFFERENT FEELINGS WITH WHICH HIS COMING IS REGARDED, The visit of some distinguished person to our neighborhood or to our habitation may, according to circumstances, awaken emotions of a very different or even diverse character. Our feelings in view of the expected visit will be either pleasant or painful, according to the character of the visitor or the object of his coming. If he comes as a friend to further our interests, to favor our fondly cherished hopes, and to confer on us certain benefits, we naturally hail his coming with delight and rejoice at the prospect of his speedy advent. If, on the contrary, we have reason to believe that his intentions are hostile, that he means to oppose our plans, that he has some unpleasant measure to enforce or some punishment to inflict, we just as naturally dread his arrival and recoil from his approach. With similarly opposite views and feelings, saints and sinners, believers and unbelievers, look forward to the coming of him to whom this passage refers. - J.J.G.









This poor Widow hath cast in more than they all.
Our Lord wished to see "how the multitude cast money into the collection-chest" — not only how much — anybody could have discovered that — but in what manner and spirit it was being done: reverently or irreverently — as unto God or as unto man — so as to display or so as to conceal the offering — with a conscientious aim to give all that was due, or a self-convicted sense that a part thereof was being withheld. The searching eye of the Master struck through the outward demeanour of each passing worshipper, right down to the motive that swayed the hand. He was reading the heart of each giver. He was marking whether the gift was the mere fruit of a devotionless habit — a sheer affectation of religious liberality — or, as it ought to be, a humble and sincere token of gratitude and consecration to God. These were the inquiries that were engaging the mind of our Lord on this memorable occasion. We are not informed how long He had sat or what discoveries He had made before the arrival of the "poor widow," but He noticed that she gave but two "mites"; and knowing that this was all she had, He discerned the unselfishness and love that prompted an offering which would perhaps be her last oblation on the altar of the Lord. This act of unfeigned devotion touched Him at once, insomuch that He immediately called His disciples, and drew their attention to so striking and instructive a case. It was her gift, rather than any other, that attracted the greatest interest in the courts of heaven. It was her offering, rather than any other, that was alone worthy of a permanent record in the Gospel History and the "books of eternal remembrance." And why? Not only because she gave "all her living," but because she gave it unto the Lord "with all her heart." Not at all in a spirit of petulance or desperation, as might have been the case; not at all because she saw want staring her in the face, and thought it no longer worth her while to retain the paltry coins she possessed. On the contrary, it was the fineness of the woman's spirit, the richness of her gratitude and love, the wealth of her self-forgetfulness and trust under the severity of her trials, that gave her little gift the exceeding rareness of its value. She was neither despairing nor repining, but "walking by faith" and in contentment, reflecting that, not. withstanding her indigence, there was none to whom she was so great a debtor as unto the Lord her God, who in His providence had given her all she had, or ever had had, or ever would have, temporal and spiritual. And out of the depths of her adoration and thankfulness she says unto herself, "I will go," in my poverty and sincerity, "and pay my vows unto the Lord in the presence of all His people," cast my slender and only offering into the sacred treasury, and await the goodness of His hand in "the land of the living." The other worshippers were giving variously, but all "of their abundance"; or, as the Revised Version has it, "of their superfluity." They never missed what they gave. They were sacrificing nothing to enable them to give. They could have given more, some of them far more, and never have felt the slightest pressure in consequence. But the "poor widow" had not an iota more to offer. She gave her "uttermost farthing," and she gave it gladly.

(J. W. Pringle, M. A.)

1. It is necessary and scriptural that there be public voluntary contributions for pious and charitable purposes.

2. Both the rich and the poor should contribute to pious and charitable purposes, and that according to their respective ability.

3. It concerns us all to see that our contributions be such, in respect of the principles and motives from which they flow, as will meet with the Divine approbation.

4. Be exhorted to cast liberally into the offerings of God, by the encouraging considerations which are placed before you in His Word.(1) Remember that the eye of the Lord Jesus Christ is upon you.(2) Remember, again, the considerations connected with the amazing kindness of your God and Saviour to you.(3) Be exhorted, once more, to give liberally, by the consideration of the promise of an abundant recompense, both in this world and in the world to come.

(James Foote, M. A.)

Christian Age.
It is related of Father Taylor, the sailor missionary of Boston, that on one occasion, when a minister was urging that the names of the subscribers to an institution (it was the missionary cause) should be published, in order to increase the funds, and quoted the account of the poor widow and her two mites, to justify this trumpet-sounding, he settled the question by rising from his seat, and asking in his clear, shrill voice, "Will the speaker please give us the name of that poor widow?"

(Christian Age.)

When it is said that this mite was all this woman's living, it must, of course, mean all her living for that day. She threw herself upon the providence of God to supply her with her evening meal or night's lodging. From what she gave, which the Lord brought to light and commended, the expression "I give my mite" has passed into a proverb, which in the mouths of many who use it is ridiculous, if not profane. What ought to be the mite of one in a good business which yields him several hundreds a year clear profit? What ought to be the mite of a professional man in good practice, after all reasonable family claims are provided for? A man with an income of at least two or three hundred a year once said to me, when I called upon him for assistance in keeping up a national school, "I will think about it, sir, and I will give you my mite." He did think, and his mite was two shillings. Contrast this with the following. Two aged paupers, having only the usual parish pay, became communicants. They determined that they would not neglect the offertory; but how was this to be done, as they were on starvation allowance? Well, during the week before the celebration, they did without light, sat up for two or three hours in the dark, and then went to bed, and gave the few pence which they saved in oil or rushlights to be laid on the altar of God.

(M. F. Sadler.)

A gentleman was walking late one night along a street in London, in which stands the hospital where some of our little friends support a bed ("The May Fair Cot," in Ormond Street Hospital) for a sick child. There were three acrobats passing along there, plodding wearily home to their miserable lodgings after their day's work; two of them were men, and they were carrying the ladders and poles with which they gave their performance in the streets whenever they could collect a crowd to look on. The third was a little boy in a clown's dress. He trotted wearily behind, very tired, and looking pale and sick. Just as they were passing the hospital the little lad's sad face brightened for a moment. He ran up the steps and dropped into the box attached to the door a little bit of paper. It was found next morning there. It contained a sixpence, and on the paper was written, "For a sick child." The one who saw it afterwards ascertained, as he tells us, that the poor little waif, almost destitute, had been sick, and in his weary pilgrimage was a year before brought to the hospital, which had been a " House Beautiful " to him, and he was there cured of his bodily disease. Hands of kindness had ministered to him, words of kindness had been spoken to him, and he had left it cured in body and whole in heart. Some one on that day in a crowd had slipped a sixpence into his hand, and that same night as he passed by, his grateful little heart gave up for other child-sufferers "all the living that he had." It was all done so quietly, so noiselessly; but oh I believe me, the sound of that little coin falling into God's treasury that night rose above the roar and din of this mighty city, and was heard with joy in the very presence of God Himself

"Mamma, I thought a mite was a very little thing. What did the Lord mean when He said the widow's mite was more than all the money the rich men gave?" It was Sunday afternoon, and the question was asked by a little child of eight, who had large, dark, inquiring eyes, that were always trying to look into things. Mamma had just been reading to her the story from the Bible, and now she wanted it explained. Mamma thought for a few minutes, and then said, "Well, Lulu, I will tell you a little story, and then I think you will understand why the widow's mite was more valuable than ordinary mites. There was once a little girl, whose name was Kitty, and this little girl had ever so many dolls, almost more than she could count. Some were made of china, and others were made of wax, with real hair and beautiful eyes that would open and shut; but Kitty was tired of them all, except the newest one, which her auntie had given her at Christmas. One day a poor little girl came to the door begging, and Kitty's mother told her to go and get one of her old dolls and give it away. She did so, and her old doll was like what the rich men put into the treasury. She could give it away just as well as not, and it didn't cost her anything. But the poor little beggar girl was delighted with her doll. She had never had but one before, and that was a rag doll; but this one had such lovely curly hair, and she had never seen any lady with such an elegant pink silk dress on. She was almost afraid to hold it against her dirty shawl, for fear of soiling it; so she hurried home as fast as she could, to hide it away with her few small treasures. Just as she was going upstairs to their poor rooms, she saw through the crack of the door in the basement her little friend Sally, who had been sick in bed all summer, and who was all alone all day, while her mother went out washing, to try and earn money enough to keep them from starving. As our little girl looked through the crack she thought to herself, 'I must show Sally my new dolly.' So she rushed into the room and on to the bed, crying, 'O Sally! see!' Sally tried to reach out her arms to take it, but she was too sick; so her little friend held up the dolly, and as she did so, she thought, 'How sick Sally looks to-day! and she hasn't any dolly.' Then, with one generous impulse, she said, 'Here, Sally, you may have her.' Now, Lulu, do you see? The little girl's dolly was like the widow's mite — she gave her all."

The late Bishop Selwyn was a man of ready wit as well as of devout Christian feeling. In his New Zealand diocese it was proposed to allot the seats of a new church, when the Bishop asked on what principle the allotment was to be made, to which it was replied that the largest donors should have the best seats, and so on in proportion. To this arrangement, to the surprise of every one, the Bishop assented, and presently the question arose who had given the most. This, it was answered, should be decided by the subscription list. "And now," said the Bishop, "who has given the most? The poor widow in the temple, in casting into the treasury her two mites, had cast in more than they all; for they of their abundance had cast into the treasury, but she had cast in all the living that she had."

(W. Baxendale.)

It is related of a little Welsh boy who attended a missionary meeting that when he had given in his collecting card and what he had obtained from his friends, he was greatly distressed because he had not a halfpenny of his own to put in the plate at the meeting. His heart was so thrilled with interest in the work that he ran home and told his mother that he wanted to be a missionary, and asked her to give him something for the collection, but she was too poor to give him any money. He was disappointed and cried; but a thought struck him. He collected all his marbles, went out, and sold them for a penny, and then went to the meeting again and put it on the plate, feeling glad that he was able to do something to promote the cause of missions.

A son of one of the chiefs of Burdwan was converted by a single tract. He could not read, but he went to Rangoon, a distance of two hundred and fifty miles; a missionary's wife taught him to read, and in forty-eight hours he could read the tract through. He then took a basket full of tracts; with much difficulty preached the gospel at his own home, and was the means of converting hundreds to God. He was a man of influence; the people flocked to hear him; and in one year one thousand five hundred natives were baptized in Arracan as members of the Church. And all this through one little tract I That tract cost one halfpenny! Oh! whose halfpenny was it? God only knows. Perhaps it was the mite of some little girl; perhaps the well-earned offering of some little boy. But what a blessing it was!

(Bowes.)

Sarah Hosmer, while a factory girl, gave fifty guineas to support native pastors. When more than sixty years old she longed so to furnish Nestoria with one more preacher that, living in an attic, she took in sewing until she had accomplished her cherished purpose. Dr. Gordon has well said, "In the hands of this consecrated woman, money transformed the factory girl and the seamstress into a missionary of the Cross and then multiplied her sixfold." But might we not give a thousand times as much money as Sarah Hosmer gave, and yet not earn her reward?

After all, objects take their colour from the eyes that look at them. And let us be assured that there is an infinite difference in the sight of an eye which is the window of a sordid soul and an eye from which looks a soul that has been ennobled by the royal touch of Christ. There are some eyes that read upon a piece of gold nothing but the figures that tell its denomination. There are others, thank God, that see upon it truths that thrill and gladden and uplift. If the lust of gold has blinded your eyes to all else but its conventional value, go to the feet of Christ, and to His question, "What wilt thou that I should do unto thee?" answer, "Lord, that mine eyes might be opened." And when you have learned to look through money into that infinite reach that lies beyond it, you will have learned the lesson of the gospel. You may then be a "rich Christian," making earth brighter and better, and building for yourself in heaven "everlasting habitations."

In a sequestered glen in Burmah lived a woman, who was known as Naughapo (Daughter of Goodness). Sire was the Dorcas of the glen — clothing the naked, feeding the hungry, soothing the afflicted, and often making her little dwelling the home of the poor, that they might enjoy the privilege of the neighbouring school. Mrs. Mason, the missionary, visiting her, was struck with the beauty of her peaceful home — evidently a spot which the Lord had blessed... The day before she left, a pedlar had called with his tempting fabrics for sale; but though this poor woman was in poor garments, she had but one rupee for purchases, while on the following morning she and her family put thirteen rupees into Mrs. Mason's hand, to be deposited in the mission treasury.

(Mrs. Wylie's "Life of Mrs. Mason.")

General Gordon had a great number of medals, for which he cared nothing. There was a gold one, however, given to him by the Empress of China, with a special inscription engraved upon it, for which he had a great liking. But it suddenly disappeared, no one knew when or how. Years afterwards it was found out by a curious accident that he had erased the inscription, sold the medal for ten pounds, and sent the sum anonymously to Canon Millar, for the relief of the sufferers from the cotton famine at Manchester.

(E. Hake.)

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