Luke 9:6
This was a grand historic occasion indeed. The honoured but ever-comparatively feeble and now dimmed, dying, or dead schools of the prophets are to be succeeded by a scion of Christianity that marks at one and the same time its noblest and most amazing human institution, and Heaven's most condescending gift and human trust. Now begins "the great company of preachers" of the New Testament. They began with twelve;. they very soon grew to seventy; and authorized provision was made by him who first called them, and first "gave them commandment" for their indefinite, "innumerable" increase, by the one method of prayer, their prayer to the Lord of the harvest, that he would send forth labourers into his "great" harvest. With what sublimest of simplicity is it said in the first verse of the following chapter, "When Jesus trod made an end of commanding his twelve disciples"! The commandments were not ten, and, whatever their number, neither were they like those ten master-instructions of the old covenant, and of all time, till time shall end. These commandments breathed the very breath of love, of sympathy, of help. They were charged with trust, and that trust nothing short of Heaven's own-confided trust. The endowments of mighty powers of gift and of grace were enshrined in them. A glorious honour gilded them with deep, rich light. But throughout them, without a break, there ran the "commandment" that meant caution, warning, an ever-present dangerous enemy, thick dangers through which to thread the way. For this necessity, protection and even the very essence of inspiration were the promises vouchsafed. In some analysis of this "commanding of his disciples" we notice -

I. FIRST OF ALL, CHRIST'S PARAMOUNT AUTHORITY IN REGARD OF THE PERSONS WHOM HE COMMISSIONS. Once "he called" them; now "he calls them to him;" he "sends them forth;" and before they go, he "commands them, and he gives them power. Of this authority two things must be said, and unhesitatingly. First, that what it seemed and what it was to these original twelve disciples, such it ever has been since, and still is, toward those who are their true successors, whether they are the successors of such as Peter and John, or of such as Judas Iscariot. Secondly, that the authority in question is one unshared and undivided, except as it is shared and divided, in whatever mysterious way and in whatever unknown proportion, with those very persons themselves, who either first pushed in to volunteer the solemn responsibility, or put themselves in the way to court it and to consent to accept it. The ordination of Judas Iscariot is not less a fact than that of St. Peter; and so has it likewise travelled down the ages of Christendom to this hour. Before this phenomenon we justly quail, and just are we dumb; but we cannot deny it.

II. CHRIST'S PARAMOUNT AUTHORITY IN RESPECT OF THE PRINCIPLES UPON WHICH THOSE HE COMMISSIONS ARE TO FULFIL THEIR ALLOTTED WORK. These are such as follow: Firstly, absolute independence of any supposed dictation on the part of those to whom their mission is. Secondly, absolute undoubting reliance on himself for guidance and protection, and in the last resort for all that is necessary for "life." Thirdly, the exclusive use and encouragement of moral influence over and among those who are to be visited and preached to, and whose spiritual and bodily sicknesses and diseases are to be ministered to. A most interesting and significant exemplification of this same principle is to be observed in the direction given to the disciples to accept hospitality; not only this, but to lay themselves open to the offer of it; nay, to inquire for it, but never to force it. And this exemplification is perhaps yet more powerfully established in the external symbolic, but still moral condemnation, directed to be expressed towards those who refused to "receive them," as also to "hear their words." Fourthly, throughout all that might seem to merely superficial observation special and artificial and supernatural - a religious and grateful obedience to what wise nature and true reason must dictate. They are sent forth "by two and two" (see St. Mark's account; see also of the seventy, Luke 10:1). This is

(1) for the manifest and natural advantages of conversation and mutual support; as also for the yet greater gain of complementary support; that is, that where the characteristics of one lay in one direction, those of the other lying in another direction, would contribute largely to the whole stock. So Bunyan, in his great Master's track, herein sets off his two pilgrims, and they remain together to the end - men of the most diverse character and most diverse Christian adaptabilities. And

(2) for the almost creating, but at any rate the setting high honour on the observing of the relation so novel then - spiritual brotherly affection, Christian brotherly affection. How many causes and motives may unite, have united, men together "by two and two"! How rare this once was! how grand has been its career since! What diverse ages - age itself with youth itself; what diverse characters the gentlest and meekest with the strongest and impetuous - the enumeration were almost endless - has Christian work, the simplest work "for Christ's sake," bound together in alliance as indissoluble as sacred! Fifthly, the practical memory of the fact, that as Christ's supreme, final ministry has for its achievement the redemption of soul and body, so that of his apostles, follow it however humbly, at however great a distance, is for the healing of the sicknesses of the body as well as of the sin of the soul. Perhaps it may be said that in nothing has the career of Christianity more vindicated its worthiness than in this - in that, without a "miracle" worked by human intervention for eighteen centuries, those institutions, and that individual charity, that come of the very breath of Christ's own Spirit, have achieved a stupendous mass of mercy for the body of men down those centuries bereft of literal miracle, that leaves far, far behind all the glories of the miracle age. Sixthly, that there should be an order, however inscrutable for its method, and however inscrutable for its justification (as men would be sure to say or to think), according to which the nations of the world were to be visited with the proclamation of the "kingdom of heaven nigh at hand," and with the priceless blessings of that kingdom. Note how facts have been bearing this out in complete harmony with it all the time, since those words fell on the ears of the disciples, "Go not into the way of the Gentiles, and into any city of the Samaritans enter ye not." The enfranchising word has, it is true, gone forth in one respect to the very opposite effect now. It went forth round the whole world as Jesus ascended. But what a history to muse, to wonder over, "to be still and wait," and to pray over - the sure but unknown growth and devious spread of the kingdom! The "way" of that kingdom as it travelled after the "beginning at Jerusalem," past and present, and perhaps for long yet to come - it must be said even of it, as of him, who only knows and who only governs it, "Thy way is in the sea, thy path in the mighty waters, thy footsteps not known." Our voice, our mission, our commission, is, beyond one inglorious doubt, to all the world; but who is it teaching and constraining and compelling the order of our doings and of our goings in this grand enterprise? Surely an order there is. We do not stumble on in guilty darkness; we do not hurry on by mere "good luck;" neither do we march on as an army in its strength and in our own strength. We are practically as surely bound by the unseen hand that guides and threads our way over the world as were the first disciples by this spoken word. We ought, after praying to know it, to follow the one as implicitly as the disciples did the other. Seventhly, the principle distinctly laid down that spiritual work is worthy of its reward. St. Paul (1 Corinthians 9:11-18) enlarges on this very principle. The ministers of Christ were to hold that it was the duty of the people to support them. What must be the deeper departure from right of those who rob, or would wish to rob, what has been given, and given from age to age, cannot be imagined; this is not even contemplated here. Let it be distinctly asked on what ground, on what authority, the spiritual labourer is "worthy of his meat" at the hands of that world which does not in the ordinary sense ask his labour or for long time value his works, the reply is that it is on the ground of the paramount authority, the authority of Christ. But the dictum of Christ on this thing must especially apply to those who "are worthy," who would wish to rank themselves among "the worthy," and profess to belong to his kingdom. Eighthly, the highest sanction of the principle or' unstinted, ungrudging "freeness of giving," in what they have to give, on the part of the ministers of Christ, who themselves undeniably have received so freely.

III. CHRIST'S FOREKNOWLEDGE OF THE COURSE OF HIS CHURCH AND KINGDOM; AND THE HOSTAGES HE GIVES HEREIN OF HIS OWN ABSOLUTE AND INTRINSIC AUTHORITY, BY THE BOLD AND FULL DESCRIPTION OF THAT COURSE, AS IN THE FULLEST SENSE THAT OF A DEEP REVOLUTION, A REVOLUTION THAT WOULD REND TO THEIR FOUNDATIONS Tile STRONGHOLDS OF HUMAN SOCIETIES, HUMAN RELATIONSHIPS, WITH ALL THEIR LONGEST CUSTOMS AND FIERCEST PREJUDICES.

IV. THE CALM, IMMOVABLE INTREPIDITY OF ATTITUDE AND OF SOUL THAT IS TO MARK THOSE WHO SHALL SEEM THE CHIEF ACTORS IN THIS MORAL REVOLUTION. This is to rest upon: Firstly, the forearmedness of forewarnedness. Knowledge of themselves, of the enemy, and of him who fights by them, in them, for his own grand works; and who will not fail to fight for them, by himself, and all necessary unseen power. Secondly, the confidence that the Spirit of the Father shall be with them, and speak in and for them at each time of need. Thirdly, in memory of that Master, who is "above the servant " - a memory that has often shown itself so omnipotent an impulse and source of strength, Fourthly, with ever-present memory of the infinite disparity between the ultimate sanctions involved, viz. that of those who can kill the body but can no more, and of him who indeed can kill both, but of whom it is in the same breath said - He notices the fall of a sparrow, and counts the hairs of the head of his servant. Fifthly, that noblest incentive of the safest ambition that was vouchsafed in the words of incredible condescension, "He that receiveth you receiveth me, and he that receiveth me receiveth him that sent me." This for some and all. And sixthly, also for some and all the words of tenderest promise, "Whosoever shall give to drink unto one of these little ones a cup of cold water only in the name of a disciple, verily I say unto you, he shall in no wise lose his reward." Thus forewarned, thus forearmed, thus taught, thus given to fear with godly fear, and stimulated thus with promise and present assurance, it might well be that human "weakness" should be, as it was, as it often is, "made perfect in strength." - B.







Let the dead bury their dead.
We have now before us one of those who excuse themselves from immediate compliance with the Saviour's demands — "Lord, suffer me first to go and bury my father." Perhaps you have been sometimes disposed to pity this man, and to think it rather a hard case that such an act of charity and necessity should be denied. Never fear, my brethren, for the character of Christ. It was an Eastern proverb, "When I have buried my father I will do so-and-so." Mark that the man does not say his father was already dead. Had that been the case, he must, at this very time, have been engaged in the funeral preparations instead of joining the crowd in the Saviour's presence. The interment of the dead was required to take place before the sunset of the day on which they expired. He had an aged sire who could not live long, and when he was gone, and the property divided — in other words, at his own leisure — he would be a Christian. He is a type of the large class who want heaven in their own time and on their own terms.

(W. G. Lewis.)

I. THAT THE ATTAINMENT AND PRACTICE OF TRUE RELIGION IS THE MOST IMPORTANT BUSINESS IN WHICH WE CAN BE ENGAGED. It is so, because it is the necessary preparation for a happy immortality. We have commenced a course of being that shall never end. Our faculties, now in their infancy, and but just budding, shall exist and expand for ever and ever. If so, then man's great concern should be to secure a blissful immortality.

II. THAT TO THIS GREAT BUSINESS OF RELIGION ALL OTHER CONSIDERATIONS SHOULD BE MADE TO GIVE WAY. This second proposition is the necessary sequence of the first. If religion is the most important business, then everything else should yield to it. You conduct your temporal business on this principle. You endeavour to ascertain the relative importance of each department, and you make the lesser bend to the greater.

(J. H. Beech.)

The reasons of Christ's refusal. Christ would show hereby —

1. That all human offices and duties must give place to the duty we owe to God. Duty to parents must be observed, but duty to God must be preferred before that or anything whatsoever.

2. He would teach us hereby that the ministry requires the whole man, even sometimes the omission of necessary works, much more superfluous: "Give thyself wholly to these things" (1 Timothy 4:15). The words are now explained; the practical notes are these two — First, that nothing in the world is a matter of such great weight as to be a sufficient excuse for not following of Christ. Secondly, that those who are called to follow Christ should follow Him speedily, without interposing any delays. For the first point, that nothing in the world is a matter of such great weight as to be a Sufficient excuse for not following of Christ, I will illustrate it by these considerations.

1. There are two sorts of men. Some understand not their Lord's will, others have no mind to do it (Luke 12:47, 48). Some understand not the terms of the gospel; they think to have Christ and the pleasures of the flesh and the world too.

2. They that have no mind to follow Christ put off the matter with dilatory shifts and excuses. To refuse altogether is more heinous, and therefore they shift it off for a time. Non vacat is the pretence — I am not at leisure. Non placer, I like it not, is the real interpretation, disposition, and inclination of their hearts, for excuses are always a sign of an unwilling and backward heart. When they should serve God there is still something in the way, some danger, or some difficulty which they are loth to encounter with. Secondly, that those who are called to follow Christ should follow Him speedily, without interposing any delays.Consider —

1. Ready obedience is a good evidence of a sound impression of grace left upon our hearts. When our call is clear, there needeth no debate or demurring upon the matter.

2. The work goeth on the more kindly when we speedily obey the sanctifying motions of the Spirit, and the present influence and impulsion of His grace. To adjourn and put it off, as Felix did (Acts 24:25), doth damp and cool the work — you quench this holy fire; or to stand hucking with God, as Pharaoh did, the work dieth on your hand.

3. There is hazard in delaying and putting off such a business of concernment as conversion to God. We know not the day of our death, therefore we should get God to bless us ere we die. A new call is uncertain (2 Corinthians 6:1, 2). It may be He will treat with us no more in such a warm and affectionate manner. It is a hazard or uncertain if the Spirit of God will put another thought of turning into your hearts, when former grace is despised (Isaiah 55:6).

4. Consider the mischiefs of delaying. Every day we contract a greater indisposition of embracing God's call. We complain now it is hard; if it be hard to-day, it will be harder to-morrow, when God is more provoked, and sin more strengthened (Jeremiah 13:23).

(T. Manton, D. D.)

This man is one of the people that always see something else to be done first when any plain duty comes before them. Sluggish, hesitating, keenly conscious of other possibilities and demands, he needs precisely the opposite treatment from his light-hearted and light-purposed brother. Some plants want putting into a cold house to be checked; some into a greenhouse to be forwarded. The diversity of treatment, even when it amounts to opposition of treatment, comes from the same single purpose. And so here the spur is applied, whilst in the former incident it was the rein that was needed.

I. Note, then, first of all, THIS APPARENTLY MOST LAUDABLE AND REASONABLE REQUEST. "Lord, suffer me first to go and bury my father." Nature says "Yes," and religion enjoins it, and everything seems to say that it is the right thing for a man to do. The man was perfectly sincere in his petition, and perfectly sincere in the implied promise that, as soon as the funeral was over, he would come back. He meant it, out and out. If he had not, he would have got different treatment, and if he had not, he would have ceased to be the valuable example and lesson that he is to us. So we have here a disciple quite sincere, who believes himself to have already obeyed in spirit, and only to be hindered from obeying in outward act by an imperative duty that even a barbarian would know to be imperative. And yet Jesus Christ read him better than he read himself; and by His answer lets us see that that tone of mind into which we are all tempted to drop, and which is the characteristic natural tendency of some of us, of being hindered from doing the plain thing that lies before us, because something else crops up, which we also think is imperative upon us, is full of danger, and may be the cover of a great deal of self-deception; and, at any rate, is not in consonance with Christ's supreme and pressing and immediate claims. The tempter which says "Suffer me first to go and bury my father" is full of danger, never knows but that, after he has got his father buried, there will be something else turning up equally important. There was the will to be read afterwards, you know, and if he was, as probably he was, the eldest son, he would be executor most likely, and there would be all sorts of things to settle up before he might feel that it was his duty to leave everything and follow the Master. And so it always is: "Suffer me first," and when we get to the top of that hill, there is another one beyond. And so we go on from step to step, getting ready to do the duties that we know are most imperative upon us, and sweeping preliminaries out of the way; and so we go on until our dying day, when somebody else buries us. Like some backwoodsman in the American forests who should say to himself, "Now I will not sow a grain of wheat until I have cleared all the land that belongs to me. I will do that first, and then begin to reap." He would be a great deal wiser if he cleared and sowed a little bit first and lived upon it, and then cleared a little bit more. Mark the plain lesson that comes out of this incident, that the habit, for it is a habit with some of us, of putting other pressing duties forward, before we attend to the highest claims of Christ, is full of danger, because there will be no end to them if we once admit the principle. And this is true not only in regard of Christianity, but in regard of everything that is worth doing in this world.

II. Now LOOK AT THE APPARENTLY HARSH AND UNREASONABLE REFUSAL OF THIS REASONABLE REQUEST. It is extremely unlike Jesus Christ in substance and in tone. It is unlike Him to put any barrier in the way of a son's yielding to the impulses of his heart and attending to the last duties to his father. It is extremely unlike Him to couch His refusal in words that sound, at first hearing, so harsh and contemptuous, and that seem to say, "Let the dead world go as it will; never you mind it, do you not go after it at all or care about it." But if we remember that it is Jesus Christ who came to bring life into the dead world that says this, then, I think, we shall understand better what He means. I do not need to explain, I suppose, that the one "dead" here is the physical and natural "dead," and that the other is the morally and religiously "dead"; and that what Christ says, in the picturesque way that He so often affected in order to bring great truths home in concrete form to sluggish under. standings, is in effect: "Ay! For the men in the world that are separated from God, and so are dead, in their self-hoed and their sin, burying other dead people is appropriate work for them. But your business, as living by Me, is to carry life, and let the burying alone, to be done by the dead people that can do nothing else." Now, the spirit of our Lord's answer may be put thus: It must always be Christ first, and everybody else second; and it must therefore sometimes be Christ only, and nobody else. "Let me bury my father, and then I will come." "No," says Christ, "first your duty to Me"; first in order of time, because first in order of importance. And this is His habitual tone, "He that loveth father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me." Did you ever think of what a strange claim that is for a man to make upon others? This Jesus Christ comes to you and me, and to the whole race, and says, "I demand, and I have a right to demand, thy supreme affection and thy first obedience. All other relations are subordinate to thy relation to Me. All other persons ought to be less dear to thee than I am. No other duty can be so imperative as the duty of following Me." What business has He to say that to us? On what does such a tremendous claim rest? Who is it that fronts humanity, and says: "He that loveth father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me?" He has a right to say it, because He is more than they, and has done more than they all, because He is the Son of God manifest in the flesh, and because on the cross He has died for all men. Therefore all other claims dwindle and sink into nothingness before Him. Therefore, His will is supreme, and my relation to Him is the dominant fact in my whole moral and religious character. And He must be first, whoever comes second, and between the first and the second there is a great gulf fixed. Remember that this postponing of all other duties, relationships, and claims to Christ's claims and relationships, and to our duties to Him, lifts them up, and does not lower them, ennobles and does not degrade, the earthly affections.

(A. Maclaren, D. D.)

The meaning of this passage may perhaps be this: "If necessary, leave the dead unburied, but at all events obey My call to go and proclaim the kingdom of God." The Christian should be willing and prepared to leave his dearest dead unburied, or to slight any other tender natural affection, the indulgence of which would be in conflict with a plain command or call of God; not that such a conflict commonly exists, or may be brought about at pleasure, which, so far from being pleasing in the sight of God, is really the sin committed by the hypocrites who said "Corban," when they ought to have supplied the wants of their dependent parents.

1. There is still a special call of Christ to individuals, not only to believe in Him, but to preach His kingdom. Without attempting to define this call at present, I may observe that it is neither miraculous on one hand, nor a matter of business calculation on the other, but a complete judgment or conclusion to which various elements contribute, such as intellectual and physical capacity, without which a call is inconceivable — providential facilities and opportunities, opening the way to this employment more than to all others — the judgment and desire of others, and especially of those best qualified by character and situation to sit in judgment on the case. I might add a desire for the work, which, in a certain sense, is certainly included in a call, but which is apt to be confounded with a mere liking for the outward part of the profession — for example, with that mania for preaching which is sometimes found in grossly wicked men, and has been known to follow them, not only to their haunts of vice, but to the prison and the madhouse. There is also a desire which results from early habit and association, the known wish of parents, pastors, and other friends, or the fixed inveterate habit of regarding this as a man's chosen calling, even when every evidence of piety is wanting. The desire which can be referred to any of these causes is entirely distinct from that which God produces in the heart of His true servants, as a part of their vocation to the ministry.

2. This vocation, where it really exists, is paramount to every personal and selfish plan, to every natural affection, even the most tender, which conflicts with it.

3. This conflict is not usually unavoidable, though often so regarded by fanatics. The first duty of the Christian is not to desire or create, but to avoid it; but if unavoidable, his next is to obey God rather than man.

4. Our Saviour did not deal indiscriminately with all cases of desire to enter His immediate service. The remark is at least as old as Calvin, that in this case He repelled the man who wanted to go with Him everywhere, and urged the man to follow Him at once who wanted to go home for what appeared to be most necessary purposes. So far as His example is a guide to us in these things, we are bound, not only to persuade, but to discourage, as the case may be.

5. There is no more danger of excluding those whom God has called by faithful presentation of the whole truth, than there is of preventing the conversion of His chosen ones by showing them the true tests of faith and repentance. The man who can be finally driven back in this way ought to be so driven. He whom God has called will only be confirmed in his desire and resolution by such warnings against self-deception, though he may pass through the discipline of painful doubt and hesitation for a season.

(J. A. Alexander, D. D.)

I. The importance of a prompt and resolute devotedness of mind to the great concern of religion. This is, in other words, to follow Christ; and it includes three things.

1. The candid reception of His revelation.

2. To follow Christ involves a surrender of ourselves to Him as our Saviour and Governor. There must be transactions of a personal nature between every such individual and Christ. First, he must seek to Him, and to God by Him, for reconciliation. Next, he must pay attention to the institutions of Christ. They must have his punctual and cordial regard. Moreover, every such person must be careful to comply with the moral precepts of the New Testament, as well as its more spiritual injunctions.

3. To follow Christ imports also ardent solicitude for the prevalence of His religion.

II. The egregrious folly of stifling impressions in favour of such devotedness, by worldly considerations. Our Lord's language implies this: "Follow Me; and let the dead bury their dead." Leave the cares of the world to those who have no such call of God upon their hearts, but by no means postpone compliance with it for their sake. It is peculiarly sinful, then, to stifle religious impressions by the influence of worldly considerations. Yet —

1. Some are prevented from an immediate compliance with their convictions by the notion that there is a happiness to be found in the world, which they, in that case, would be required to abandon. An entire mistake. Religion imposes no gloomy austerities, no unnecessary self-inflictions.

2. Some are prevented from going the full length of their religious convictions by the remonstrances of worldly relatives and friends.

3. The prompt devotedness of other minds is prevented by some particular worldly object of pursuit upon which they are at that moment intent, and which promises, by its attainment, soon to leave them at liberty. But this is the artifice of Satan. It quiets the present alarm; it hinders the heart, at this time, from closing with the call of God.

(J. Leifchild.)

And are not these strange words for one so loving as our Lord? How mighty was the attractive force of our Lord's character! When He spake, they were compelled to leave all, and to follow Him.

I. "Lord, suffer me first." Ah; that is the cry of nature. "I will come to Thee, but suffer me first." "First suffer me to be disappointed, and then I will follow Thee; first, build my house upon the sand, and then I will come, O Rock, to Thee. First, worship and waste my affections on the day, and then I will come to Thee." "Suffer me first"; but Jesus answered, "Follow thou Me."

1. Follow Me. I am Life, and you seek life, but then you have only death; as long as you linger there, you do but seek the living among the dead.

2. Follow Me. You seek love, and here nothing loves you; that which loved you has gone, and, if you would regain what loved you, you must follow Me.

3. Follow Me. I am not only Life — I am the only Master of the kingdom of life. I am the Way to the life. In following Me, you do not leave behind you merely dead affections; you rise to the true kingdom of the affections. Action, action, action. Life is in action, in following more than in musing. The music of the harp is beautiful, but that has not served the world so well as the music of the hammer; and even all poetry is action — all true poetry is.

(E. Paxton Hood.)

We are not to suppose, by this prohibition, that Christ disallows or disapproves of any civil office from one person to another, much less of a child to a parent, either living or dying i but He lets us know —

1. That no office of love and service to man must be preferred before our duty to God, to whom we owe our first and chief obedience.

2. That lawful and decent offices become sinful when they hinder greater duties.

3. That such as are called by Christ to preach the gospel, must mind that alone, and leave inferior duties to inferior persons.

(W. Burkitt.)

There are many of you who are busily engaged in legitimate occupations, and devoting yourselves in various degrees to various forms of good, touching the secular condition of the people around us. May I hint to you, "Let the dead bury their dead; preach thou the gospel"? A Christian man's first business is to witness for Jesus Christ. And no amount of diligence in legitimate occupations or for the good of others will absolve him from the charge of having turned duties upside down if he says, "I cannot witness for Jesus Christ. I am so busy about these other things." This command has a special application to us ministers. There are hosts of admirable things that we are tempted to engage in now-a-days, with the enlarged opportunities that we have of influencing men. socially, politically, intellectually, and it wants rigid cocentration for us to keep out of the paths which might hinder our usefulness, or, at all events, dissipate our strength. Let us hear that voice ringing always in our ears: "preach thou the gospel of the kingdom."

(A. Maclaren, D. D.)

These words seem at first harsh and severe. Our Lord's teaching gives no sanction, however, to the monstrous error that the new life releases men from obligations which they may have found irksome. The common relations of life are a discipline whereby we are trained to spiritual perfection. What did our Lord say, and under what circumstances?

1. The man probably heard of his father's death when he was with Christ, and wanted to return to the funeral. But the father was dead, and the son could do nothing for him now. If he had neglected him in life, he could not now repair the neglect.

2. Still you say natural affection impels a man to discharge the last offices of love. Yes; but there are reasons which justify a man in being absent from his father's funeral. This was a very solemn and critical time. The man appears to have been selected as one of the seventy; and if he had gone home, he would have been detained some days by the ceremonial law; his purpose might have been weakened; so even in the hour of his grief he is commanded to do this great service,

3. "Let the dead bury their dead." Does this show contempt for the unspiritual? No; our Lord never spoke with contemptuous indifference of such; it was his very eagerness that they should rise to a new and better life that led Him to call this man away.

4. The whole narrative suggests that critical moments in a man's life bring critical duties. If God is near us now in a very special and solemn manner, then that principle enters our life and regulates our duty.

(R. W. Dale, LL. D.)

I. WHAT IS INCLUDED IN FOLLOWING CHRIST?

1. By following Christ the disciple is brought into a new relation.

2. At all times the religious relation is more important than the natural one.

(1)It is formed by the will and choice of the individual himself.

(2)It is wider in its sympathies.

(3)It is a relation which will never fail.

II. THE DISCIPLE OF CHRIST HAS NEW RESPONSIBILITIES.

1. He has to learn of Him.

2. He has to suffer with Him.

3. He has to move on towards Him.

III. THE DISCIPLE IS BROUGHT TO POSSESS NEW PRIVILEGES.

1. He has the most powerful incentive to work in this world. He has the most glorious hope with regard to the world to come.

(H. C. Williams.)

When the Master gave the command, "Go thou and preach," He meant "Go thou and shine; go thou and bear much fruit; go thou and do good; go thou and teach the poor; go thou and save the drunkard; go thou and heal the sick; go thou and witness for Me; go thou and live out this beautiful and sublime religion of the Cross."

1. A life of obedience to Christ is the most effective way of glorifying our Saviour. It has been well styled "the strongest manifestation of God to the world."

2. There is no other preaching of the Word that makes so many converts to the truth.

3. Every man is a preacher, and every life a sermon. What sort of a discourse are you making, you, and you, and you?

(T. L. Cuyler, D. D.)

There are a great many ways of preaching Jesus without standing in a pulpit. Wilberforce proclaimed the gospel of love on the floor of the British Parliament, though he never wore a surplice, and never had the ordained hand of a bishop on his honoured head. George Stewart was an apostle of the Cross when he organized a Christian mission for our soldiers' camps during the civil war in America. John Macgregor was another when he gathered the shoeblack brigade in the streets of London. Hannah More preached Jesus in English drawing-rooms, and Elizabeth Fry in Newgate prison walls, and Sarah Filey amongst the freedmen of our Southern plantations. Sometimes God gives a single precept to a man to carry out, as when the Roman Catholic Father Matthew wrought grandly and gloriously for the reformation of Irish drunkards, and William Lothian for the recovery of poor lost women from the streets of Glasgow. Our Lord scatters His commissions with a munificent liberality. The "Dairyman's Daughter" murmuring the voice of Jesus, till we heard it across the Atlantic; Hannah Burton testifying to the power of Christ to sustain her — all these were most effective preachers of the unsearchable riches of Christ.

(T. L. Cuyler, D. D.)

An officer who served under Stonewall Jackson, having gone to visit some relatives without applying for leave, was detained late at night by a severe rain-storm. About two o'clock in the morning, hearing a loud shouting at the gate of the house, he rose, and found his brother there with a message that he must report himself at daybreak. He returned immediately, through the drenching rain and mud, to find all quiet at the camp, and the captain not yet risen. Inquiring of the adjutant the meaning of the message, he received for reply: "That is to teach you that a soldier in the face of an enemy has no business away from his post."

(Mackay.)

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