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Theology => Completed and Favorite Threads => Topic started by: nChrist on March 08, 2008, 09:06:54 AM

Post by: nChrist on March 08, 2008, 09:06:54 AM
Brothers and Sisters,

I hope that you enjoy this series that is old and beautiful. Please do keep in mind that it is written in the perspective of the Gospels - primarily before the CROSS. If you forget this, you won't agree with some of this material. But, also please keep in mind that all perspectives of the Holy Bible are profitable for us to study, and that would obviously include the more legalistic perspectives before the Cross. Understanding the Law gives us a much greater appreciation of GOD'S Grace and the Precious Gift of JESUS CHRIST on the Cross for us.

I still don't agree with everything from this writer, but the overall material is beautiful and good. It should give you many good ideas for further Bible Study. I suspect the author would have been an excellent, old-fashioned fire and brimstone preacher.

Love In Christ,

Ephesians 1:18-23 NASB I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened, so that you will know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, and what is the surpassing greatness of His power toward us who believe. These are in accordance with the working of the strength of His might which He brought about in Christ, when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come. And He put all things in subjection under His feet, and gave Him as head over all things to the church, which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all.

Title: Christ explains the spiritual nature of the law
Post by: nChrist on March 08, 2008, 09:08:49 AM
Devotional Commentary On The Gospels
by Favell Lee Mortimer ( 1802 - 1878 )

March 7

Christ explains the spiritual nature of the law

It is a very common idea, that Christ came to set aside the law; but it is a mistaken one. He said himself, "I came not to destroy the law, but to fulfill." He knew that man had broken it; and he came to fulfill it in his stead, and to bear the punishment due to man for breaking it. But he came to do still more; he came to take out of man's heart, his hatred of God's law. Forever since the fall, men have hated that law. As it is written, "The carnal mind is enmity against God—for it is not subject to the law of God—neither indeed can be." (Rom_8:7.) The Pharisees professed to keep the law—but in their hearts they hated it.

No doubt it astonished the people exceedingly to hear Jesus declare, "Except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the Scribes and Pharisees, you shall never enter the kingdom of heaven." But what sort of righteousness can those men have had, who in their hearts hated righteousness! But this was the case with the Pharisees, and it is the case with every unconverted man. The law is too holy to please such sinful creatures as we are by nature.

It may appear, at first sight, an easy thing to keep the sixth commandment, "You shall not kill." But if we think it easy to keep it, it is because we do not understand its spiritual meaning. It forbids not only the act of murder, but the thought. Hatred is the beginning of murder. This may be proved. When we hate a person, we do not like the presence of that person; we feel uncomfortable when he is near, and wish he were at a distance. This must have been Cain's first feeling against Abel. It was fostered in his bosom, until it led to murder. Before he murdered Abel with his hand, he murdered him in thought. And what is the beginning of hatred? It is anger.

There is a righteous anger. God is angry with the wicked; but if they would turn from their wickedness, his anger would cease; for he says, "Let the wicked man forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts, and let him return unto the Lord, and he will have mercy upon him." But sinful anger is very different from the anger of God; it is anger without a cause, or without a sufficient cause. Perhaps someone has slighted us and wounded our self-love; or, perhaps, he has gained some advantage that we should like to possess, and has excited our envy. Perhaps he has faithfully reproved us, or set us an example which makes us feel ashamed of our own conduct. This was the reason that Cain was angry with Abel, and it was the reason that the Pharisees were angry with Jesus. Worldly people are still angry with real Christians on the same account. How sinful is such anger! It is usually vented in abusive words. Raca and fool were terms of reproach used by the Jews. Raca signified "vain worthless fellow," and fool, "wicked and abandoned wretch."

And have none of us in our anger been led to use very improper expressions? Even little children sometimes utter very violent words in their fits of passion. And does not God notice these words? He does notice them, and though we may forget them, He will not. He is an adversary to the wicked, and will shut them up in a prison whence they can never escape. We are now going to pray to God. Do any of us cherish malice in our hearts? Malice is the worst kind of hatred. God will not accept the prayers or the praises of any person who hates his brother. It is a difficult thing to part with our sins. Many people would rather part with a foot, or an eye, than with their sins. But we must part with them, or we shall be cast into hell. Blessed be God, He will give new hearts to those who ask for them; He will make them righteous, and He will pardon all their sins for his dear Son's sake.

Title: Christ forbids irreverent swearing
Post by: nChrist on March 08, 2008, 09:10:26 AM
Devotional Commentary On The Gospels
by Favell Lee Mortimer ( 1802 - 1878 )

March 8

Christ forbids irreverent swearing

The Lord Jesus observes the expressions we use in our common conversation; he notices every reproachful word we utter to each other; he notices also every irreverent word we speak of God. He heard with displeasure the Jews of old calling their brethren raca and fool, and swearing by heaven, by the earth, by Jerusalem, and by their own heads. Let us never forget that he still listens to our words, and is displeased with every profane expression, such as, "God bless us," "The Lord knows," "Upon my soul." Ungodly people are so much in the habit of uttering these exclamations, that they scarcely know when they use them. But they could not have acquired the habit, if they had felt reverence for the majesty of the Almighty God. But when men became sinners, they began to despise Him. If they were to hear his dreadful voice, they would be filled, as Adam was, with fear; but when they do not see him, they feel no dread, and care not how they insult his name. "You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain. The Lord will not let you go unpunished if you use His name in vain."

But with what solemn awe the Son of God speaks of his Father! Even the heavens and earth are not common things in his sight. When we look up at the blue vault above our heads, we are gazing upon the throne of its Creator; and when we look around upon this green and smiling earth, we are gazing upon the footstool of its glorious Monarch—even our own heads are His, and not ours; for He made them, while we cannot make one hair, white or black. If men were not sinners, they would be satisfied with saying "yes" and "no," without using oaths to confirm their words. For Jesus said, "Simply let your 'Yes' be 'Yes,' and your 'No,' 'No'; anything beyond this comes from the evil one—or the evil heart."

There is one difficulty that may be urged respecting the rule Christ laid down. How is it that Paul in his epistles often appeals to God, saying, "God is my witness, I speak the truth in Christ; I lie not. I call God for a record upon my soul." Did Paul speak profanely? That is impossible, for he spoke by the Holy Spirit. It is therefore lawful to appeal to God on solemn important occasions; as in a court of justice, when our words may affect the life of a fellow-creature. It is even mentioned in Isaiah as a proof of piety in future days, that men instead of swearing by false gods, will swear by the true God. "He who swears in the earth, shall swear by the God of truth." (Isa_65:16.) In Deuteronomy also, God said, "You shall fear the Lord your God, and serve him, and swear by his name." (Deu_6:13.) It must therefore be lawful on some occasions to use solemn oaths.

How condescending God has been to us in having used an oath to confirm his promise to us! Because he could swear by no greater, he swore by himself, and he said, "As I live." This he did to quiet the unbelieving fears of his own people. He says to each of those who have fled to Christ for pardon, "Surely blessing I will bless you." He adds his oath to his word, and says, "As I live." Thus by two immutable or unchangeable things, his word and his oath, he gives strong consolation to the poor penitent trembling at his footstool. He uses the same oath when He threatens to destroy His enemies. "I lift up my hand to heaven, and say, 'I live forever.' If I whet my glittering sword, and my hand take hold in judgment, I will render vengeance to my enemies, and will reward them that hate me." (Deu_32:40-41.) Well, then, may we fear this glorious and fearful name, "The Lord your God."

Title: Christ forbids revenge
Post by: nChrist on March 10, 2008, 01:23:41 AM
Devotional Commentary On The Gospels
by Favell Lee Mortimer ( 1802 - 1878 )

March 9

Christ forbids revenge

These directions have excited a great deal of surprise. It seems to proud man impossible that God should expect him to bear injuries without complaint, or desire of revenge. Let us inquire in what manner these directions are to be understood. The words, "An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth," are the words of God, and Jesus did not contradict his Father's words, which were his own also, but he explained them. The Pharisees had misunderstood them, and represented them falsely to the people. Those words, "eye for eye," were a direction given to the civil authorities. See Ex. 21. It was to be their rule of punishment. If a man put out another man's eye, the civil authority might not take away his life on that account, but might assign a punishment equal to the injury he had inflicted. But this command was never intended to encourage revenge. The judge executes justice for the public good, and men may bring others to justice on the same account; but they may not practice private revenge from feelings of hatred and anger.

The Pharisees had explained this law very poorly, and had deceived the people. Jesus told them that far from revenge being allowable, we ought to suffer personal injuries without complaint, or resistance. He did not forbid us to remonstrate with our enemies, when we had the opportunity; for it is right to do all we can to deter others from committing sin. He himself expostulated with the man who dared to smite his cheek, as he stood before the high priest, saying, "If I have spoken evil, bear witness of the evil; but if well, why do you smite me?" (Joh_18:23.)

When our Christian brethren trespass against us, we are bound to rebuke them, (though with mildness,) for it is written, "You shall not hate your brother in your heart; you shall rebuke him, and not allow him to sin." (Lev_19:17.)

Are we not then to turn the left cheek to him that has smitten us on the right? The command is to be obeyed in the spirit, rather than in the letter. And what is the spirit of the command? It is a willingness to yield up our rights. We owe duties to others, and others owe duties to us. Now by nature we are apt to think little of the duties which we owe to others, and much of the duties they owe to us; that is, we think little of our duties, and much of our rights. We are inclined to watch the conduct of others towards us, and to feel angry when they do not behave as we think they ought. This is a ruinous course of thought; it not only makes us unhappy in THIS world, by leading us to feel dissatisfied and revengeful, but it endangers our happiness in the next, by taking off our thoughts from Christ, our atonement, and our example.

It is useless to think of the duties of others to us; they ought not perhaps to expect so much from us, or to behave to us with such disrespect, or with such harshness; but by dwelling on these subjects, we do not improve their conduct, but lose our own peace. On the contrary, it is most useful to think of the duties we owe to others, because we shall have to account for all our conduct at the last day. Then to have been ill-treated will be nothing, but to have ill-treated others will be dreadful. If we are engaged upon this profitable subject, we shall often not observe when our fellow-creatures behave ill to us, and thus we shall miss many occasions of uneasiness, and also of sin. But if we do observe any ingratitude, or unkindness, there is one great use we may make of the trial; we may examine whether there is no person to whom we have behaved in a similar manner. It is almost certain that we shall remember having done something like the offence we have received, to some of our fellow-creatures; but at all events, we shall find that there is One to whom we have behaved far, far more ungratefully than any have behaved to us. All that our fellow-creatures can do to us is but a faint shadow of the manner in which we have insulted God. What has He not a right to expect from us! If a man had expended all his property in ransoming a poor prisoner, would he not expect some grateful return for his generosity? But God has given up his only Son for our sakes. O sacrifice surpassing human thought! And how have we behaved towards him? How coldly! How unfaithfully! What reluctant obedience have we rendered! More frequently still, what open disobedience!

This consideration should make us very meek when we receive injuries. If it really sinks into our hearts, we shall become less ready to complain of others, and more earnest in our endeavors to behave well to them.

Title: Christ enjoins the forgiveness of enemies
Post by: nChrist on March 10, 2008, 01:25:29 AM
Devotional Commentary On The Gospels
by Favell Lee Mortimer ( 1802 - 1878 )

March 10

Christ enjoins the forgiveness of enemies

It is written in Lev. 19, "You shall love your neighbor as yourself." (Lev_19:18 ) The Pharisees for many ages past had given a very imperfect explanation of this law. They had not explained the term "neighbor" aright. They had declared that it applied to those who loved us, and did not include those who hated us. But this was not true. Every human being is, in one sense, our neighbor. We are therefore commanded to love all. God had never said, "You shall hate your enemy;" for, though he had desired the Jews to form no friendships with heathen nations, he had never commanded them to hate or injure them from feelings of revenge. It was man who had added, "You shall hate your enemy." How easy it was to obey such a law! By nature we love our friends, and hate our enemies. As Christ said, "Even the publicans love those who love them." The publicans were people of very bad character, who generally defrauded in collecting the taxes, and who were therefore much despised—yet even they behaved with kindness and respect to their particular friends. The Pharisees had no reason to be proud of such righteousness as this.

Well might our Savior say to his disciples, "Except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the Scribes and Pharisees, you shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven." Yet this is the sort of righteousness which men are still inclined to think sufficient to entitle them to everlasting happiness. How often people say, "Have I not been a good mother to my children, a faithful friend, a kind brother—what harm have I done?" They claim a reward from God for such goodness as this! But our Savior expects far more from his disciples; he expects them to love those who hate them; to speak kindly to them, in spite of their abusive words, and to pray for them, notwithstanding repeated injuries. And yet even this conduct deserves no reward, because it is no more than our duty.

Do we say, how is it possible for us to do this? It is impossible, without a new heart. We are too sinful to do it. Those who have been renewed by grace are enabled to love their enemies. The missionaries who went to Greenland to dwell amid plains of snow and mountains of ice, were treated in the most unkind manner by the natives. Once the ship that was to have brought them provisions did not arrive at the expected time, and they were reduced to the brink of famine; for they could not procure food by hunting seals, as the natives did. The cruel Greenlanders mocked at their sufferings, and refused to help them. At length the ship containing provisions arrived. The missionaries might have gone back in it to their native country, but they remained in Greenland. Soon afterwards, many of the people were in need of food, as through their improvidence their summer stores were exhausted. Did the missionaries refuse to feed them? They shared their little supplies with them. The people were attacked with the smallpox; the missionaries nursed them with the greatest tenderness. This conduct had a great effect in softening the minds of the heathen towards their teachers, and in preparing them to receive their message. It is by such behavior we may show that we are the children of God.

How does God behave towards ungrateful man? Our Savior reminded his disciples that God sent rain, and the light of day, to all, even to those who hated him. But he did not then speak of a still greater proof of love—the gift of his Son. For a righteous man some might even dare to die; but God commends his love towards us, in that while we were yet enemies, we were reconciled to him by the death of his Son. This shows us what kind of love we ought to feel for our enemies. The same kind that God feels for us. Not the love of approbation, (that we can only feel for the righteous,) but the love of compassion. It is this love that God felt for the world when he gave his Son to die for it. To love an enemy is to be perfect; for it is to have charity, the bond of perfectness. If we have this charity, this love to all, we are like God, though our love can never be so great as His.

If we earnestly desire the salvation of our enemies, then we may know that we are the children of God. Let us endeavor to melt their hearts by acts of kindness. Such efforts are often blessed to the conversion of sinners. A holy man was once, for the truth's sake, shut up in a prison, and obliged to share the cell with a murderer. The conduct of his wicked companion was so intolerable, that his fellow-prisoner complained of him to those who overlooked the prison. An order was issued that the murderer should be removed to another dungeon. When the unhappy man heard to what place he was to be committed, his dismay was great, for he knew that the damp and closeness of that dungeon would cut short his life in a few days. He implored his fellow-prisoner, with many tears, to ask that the sentence might be reversed. The holy man felt that it was his duty to yield to these entreaties. He requested that the murderer might be permitted to remain with him. His petition was granted, but with this condition, that he should complain no more of the conduct of his companion. The murderer was melted by the generosity of the man he had once hated and annoyed. He fell at his feet, and with tears of gratitude implored his pardon. Henceforth he listened to his instructions, and through the grace of God, repented, and believed the Gospel.

Title: Christ forbids ostentation in GIVING
Post by: nChrist on March 13, 2008, 07:21:33 AM
Devotional Commentary On The Gospels
by Favell Lee Mortimer ( 1802 - 1878 )

March 11

Christ forbids ostentation in GIVING

The Lord Jesus now began to show the emptiness of the good works in which the Pharisees gloried. He had declared what false views they entertained of the law of God, and now he shows that their best actions were nothing worth, because they were done from wrong motives.

Let us remember that he said, in the early part of the sermon, that except our righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the Scribes and Pharisees, we shall in no wise enter into the kingdom of heaven. Here is an instance of what their righteousness was. They sometimes bestowed large sums of money on the poor, or on the service of the temple; but their desire was to be seen of men. They did not care so much for God's favor, as for men's admiration. Therefore they took care to have their charities known. They did not literally sound a trumpet before them; but they endeavored as much to attract notice, as if they had sounded a trumpet. They did gain much praise from men, and this was their reward, and their only reward.

We all by nature care for the praise of men more than for the praise of God. The reason is, that we have no faith. We see men, we hear their praise; but we do not see God, nor hear his voice. But when a person has faith, he begins to value God's favor more than the praise of men. To hear every human tongue united in applauding him, would not give him as much delight as the hope of hearing God say, "Well done, good and faithful servant."

Now the point we should examine is this—Which are we most anxious to obtain, the praise of men or the favor of God?

It may sometimes be best that our charities should be known. David, for instance, gave the gold and silver he had saved for the temple in a public manner. But why? Not to gain praise, but to encourage others to give also. Should we even hide our charities, and at the same time desire that they should be discovered, God would not be pleased with us. He looks at the heart. He wants us to act to him alone. We ought not to think that our charities deserve to have a reward from God. If we do them with this idea they will not be acceptable.

What can we give to God? Nothing worthy of his acceptance. All we can bestow are but like the flowers that the cottager may gather from his garden, and present to the monarch as a slender token of his gratitude for the gift of his cottage, and for his garden, and for all that he possesses. A gracious sovereign would not refuse the gift, if humbly offered, though the flowers were common, and though his own garden contained the rarest and the finest; but if the cottager presented them to gain the praise of his neighbors, or thinking he conferred a great favor upon his king, both the offering and the offerer would deserve to be rejected. And shall those who give money for God's service in such a spirit, be accepted? Cornelius gave alms from the overflowings of a grateful heart, therefore the angel said to him, "Your prayers and your alms have come up as a memorial before God," (Act_10:4.) The poor widow gave her two mites with a single eye to God's glory. She gave her heart with them, or it would not have been said of her, "She gave more than they all." Mary poured the ointment on the head of Jesus, under a deep sense of her own unworthiness, and of the preciousness of her Savior; therefore Jesus accepted the service, and has caused it to be remembered through all ages. All we do from a feeling of grateful love to Him, who laid down his life for us, shall be remembered by God, when the costly gifts of ostentation shall be buried in eternal forgetfulness.

Title: Christ forbids ostentation in PRAYER
Post by: nChrist on March 13, 2008, 07:23:51 AM
Devotional Commentary On The Gospels
by Favell Lee Mortimer ( 1802 - 1878 )

March 12

Christ forbids ostentation in PRAYER

Our Savior continued to expose the emptiness of the works in which the Pharisees prided themselves. One of these was giving. This has been already considered. Another was prayer. Let us now direct our attention to this subject. The customs of Judea were very different from ours. The synagogues were always open, and people resorted to them, as well as to the temple, in order to pray. There was no harm in the custom, and many people no doubt went to the synagogues to pray in sincerity, as we know one poor tax-collector went to the temple, and sincerely said, "God be merciful to me, a sinner."

But others went only to be seen of men. There were also certain hours of the day at which the Pharisees said certain prayers; and if at these hours they found themselves in the streets, they stopped to repeat their task; and for this purpose preferred the corner of a street to a more private place. Jesus bade his disciples avoid such ostentatious conduct, and advised them to retire to their closets to pray, and to conceal from the world their communion with their heavenly Father.

If we really love God, we shall pray to him in secret. It is clear, that if we pray in church and in the family, but neglect secret prayer, we are only seeking human approbation.

It is a great proof, both of faith and love, to be frequent in secret prayer. If we were told that a departed friend was hovering near us, though unseen, and that he could hear us, though he could not answer us aloud, should we feel inclined to speak to him? This would depend upon two circumstances—first, upon our faith in the statement, that is, upon our really believing that the friend was near; and secondly, upon our love for this friend—If we both believed he was near, and loved him, we would find great delight in talking to him. "He who comes to God, must believe that he is." If we doubt whether God hears us, no wonder we find prayer a burdensome task. If, also, we do not love God, how can we find it pleasant to speak to him? But if we believe that he is very near us, and if we love him with fond attachment, O how delightful to shut our closet door, and to pour out our hearts before him! And will he give us a reward for doing so? What! A reward to his needy creatures, for calling upon him for help! The reward will be, He will answer our petitions as He has promised, and at the last acknowledge us as His children.

Jesus also tells us in what manner we should pray. It is not words alone that move God. The heathen think they shall be heard for much speaking, and say, Baal, hear us, Baal, hear us. The Roman Catholics repeat the Lord's prayer many hundreds of times, and count the numbers upon their string of beads. But of what use are such prayers; for what are words without desires! We should use words, because in using them our desires grow stronger; but words without desires are but unmeaning noise. A Christian poet beautifully describes the nature of prayer in the following lines—

Prayer is the soul's sincere desire,
Uttered, or unexpressed;
The hidden motion of a fire
That trembles in the bosom.
Prayer is the burden of a sigh,
The falling of a tear;
The upward glancing of an eye,
When none but God is near.

Sometimes the mouth cannot express what the heart feels. But sometimes the soul feels dead, and we cannot pray in spirit and in truth. An unconverted heart is always dead; but even the renewed heart has seasons of barrenness. How are desires to be stirred up? Take the Scriptures—consider the things revealed in them—Heaven, Hell, God, the Judge of all—the crucified Savior—a precious soul—a fleeting life. Is there nothing you desire to escape? Nothing you desire to possess? Have you nothing to say to Him who can do everything for you, and who has done so much already? What would many a lost soul give for such an opportunity as you now possess? God, who sees your efforts, will send his Holy Spirit to teach you how to pray. Let us remember that prayer is our safety; without prayer we must be lost. When a person can receive no nourishment, we give him up; we know he must die if he can take nothing. If we cannot pray, we must perish.

Title: The Lord's Prayer
Post by: nChrist on March 13, 2008, 07:25:56 AM
Devotional Commentary On The Gospels
by Favell Lee Mortimer ( 1802 - 1878 )

March 13

The Lord's Prayer

This prayer is so familiar to us, that we are in great danger of not considering its weighty meaning. A prayer taught by our blessed Savior himself ought to engage our deepest attention. Had we been told that such a prayer had been given, and had never heard the words, how we would have desired to hear them!

We ought not to suppose that we are bound to use this prayer every time we pray. Jesus said, "After this manner pray." We find in this prayer a pattern for our prayers.

We see in what way we should address God, and what kind of petitions we may present. The title we are allowed to give to Him is the tenderest that can be conceived—Our Father. He is our Father, because he made us in his own image; but by sin, we became children of the devil. How then are we restored to our Father? By Jesus Christ. He became our brother in the flesh, that we might become his brethren in the spirit. He makes us the children of God by faith in him. Thus he said to Mary Magdalene, after he rose from the dead, "Go to my brethren, and say to them, I ascend to my Father, and to your Father, and to my God, and to your God."

Our Father is a king also; but a dethroned king. His subjects have risen up in rebellion against him. Therefore his children entreat him to return. His return is the darling wish of their hearts. It is a great sign of faithfulness in subjects, when they maintain allegiance to a sovereign who is in banishment. At such a time it is dangerous to be faithful; for if discovered in sending letters to their monarch, inviting him to take possession of his throne, they would be regarded as enemies by their rebellious countrymen. Yet faithful subjects would be continually forming plans for the restoration of their lawful sovereign, and would run all risks rather than desert him. The children of God feel and act in this manner while they live in the world. Their desire is, that their Father's name should be hallowed, praised, and adored; that his kingdom should come, and that his will should be done on earth, as it is in heaven. In their prayers they express this desire first, and they endeavor to promote its fulfillment by persuading men to submit to their king. Nor shall their desires and efforts be disappointed, for God shall one day be king over all the earth. We see, therefore, that only converted people can offer this prayer in sincerity, for none who are not converted long for God to be acknowledged as king.

The next requests relate to such things as we desire for ourselves. In the first place we ask for bread; not for a great supply, but daily bread. Then we ask for the forgiveness of sins, declaring at the same time that we have forgiven others their sins against us. Thus we see that this prayer suits none whose hearts cherish hatred and revenge; for if we do not forgive those who offend us, every time we use this prayer we are pronouncing our own condemnation, and asking God not to forgive us.

We have before remarked, that this prayer is only fit for those who love God, because they ask that his kingdom may come and his will be done. We now see that it is only fit for those who love man also; and we know that those who do love God, love their fellow-creatures also. These are the two great commandments—Love God and love your neighbor. When people believe in Christ they have new hearts, and they begin to love God and man. Then this prayer suits them. They still have sins to be forgiven, and it is the sense of God's grace in forgiving them, that makes them so ready to forgive others. When God has forgiven them a debt of thousands of pounds, how can they exact a debt of a few pence from their fellows! They feel that no one has acted towards them as ungratefully as they have towards God, and so their mouths are stopped from uttering reproaches against their fellow-creatures.

A penitent sinner hates sin. He can say from the heart, "Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil, (or the evil one.") By nature we delight in temptation and in evil. All our pleasures are temptations; we are always running into it and longing for it. But the Christian dreads temptation; therefore he does not desire to be rich, nor to run with the crowds, nor to obtain high praise, because he knows he might be tempted to be proud, and foolish, and to forget God.

The prayer is ended as it was begun—with the praise of God. Yours is the kingdom, the power, and the glory. This is the consolation of the child of God; though none may acknowledge his Father, yet he knows his Father is glorious, and that some day his glory will be displayed before an assembled universe.

Christ would not have given his people such a prayer, if he had not determined to grant it. He knows what he will do, and he delights to hear us asking him to perform his gracious designs. Then let every devout soul say, "Come, Lord Jesus, come quickly, for yours is the kingdom, the power, and the glory."

Title: Christ declares whom God will forgive
Post by: nChrist on March 14, 2008, 09:30:55 AM
Devotional Commentary On The Gospels
by Favell Lee Mortimer ( 1802 - 1878 )

March 14

Christ declares whom God will forgive


Jesus here gives some instructions concerning the frame of mind in which prayer must be made. In the Lord's prayer we are directed to say, "Forgive us our debts, or trespasses, as we forgive our debtors, or those who have sinned against us." This petition seems like asking God not to forgive us if we do not forgive others. Some people might have been induced to wish that some part of the sentence was omitted, and that they were instructed simply to ask God to forgive them, whether they forgave others or not. But it would be of no use to make such a prayer; for God is determined not to forgive us unless we forgive others.

It is therefore necessary that we should inquire whether we really forgive them; for our hearts are so deceitful that we are apt to imagine we forgive, when we still harbor a grudge against an offending brother. What then are the signs of having really forgiven an offender? When we have heartily forgiven him, we cease to indulge the thought of his offence, and we take no pleasure in speaking of it. When we have heartily forgiven him, we neither wish evil to befall him, nor feel glad if it do befall him; but, on the contrary, wish all manner of good to happen to him. When we have heartily forgiven him, we neither speak bitterly of him ourselves, nor do we feel gratified if we hear others speak harshly of him. This last, perhaps, is the best test of our state of feeling; for some who would not dare to speak harshly of an enemy themselves, would be glad to hear others do so. These should be our feelings even towards one who has not asked our forgiveness; but if our offending brother ask us to forgive him, we ought to restore him to friendship and endearment, and our heart ought to be towards him as before—and thus we ought to continue to act, in spite of repeated offences.

Is it an easy thing thus to forgive? No! it is impossible to nature, and can only be done through the Holy Spirit working in our hearts a sense of our own unworthiness, filling us with love to God for his mercy towards us, and then with love to our fellow-creatures.

Though thousands offer this prayer of our Lord every day, it is only accepted from those whose hearts are renewed by grace. Before our prayers are accepted, we ourselves must be accepted. Cain's sacrifice was not accepted by God, because he himself was not accepted. Abel's sacrifice was accepted, because he himself was accepted. Would we, therefore, offer acceptable prayers, we must first give our own selves to the Lord; we must come in the name of Jesus, and on account of his sacrifice that he offered on the cross, God will accept us, renew our hearts by his grace, and answer our prayers. God will not be mocked. Man would gladly put God off with formal, heartless prayers; but He will not receive them. He spurns the offering, and says, "Who has required this at your hands—to tread my courts? When you spread forth your hands I will hide my eyes from you. Yes, when you make many prayers I will not hear." (Isa_1:12-15.)

But let no penitent sinner be discouraged by these declarations. We may come with our sins to Christ, if they are a grief and a burden to us, for it is He alone who can forgive them, and it is He alone who can subdue them. His Holy Spirit will make us hate our sins, help us to strive against them, and enable us to overcome them.

Title: Christ forbids ostentation in FASTING
Post by: nChrist on March 14, 2008, 09:33:15 AM
Devotional Commentary On The Gospels
by Favell Lee Mortimer ( 1802 - 1878 )

March 15

Christ forbids ostentation in FASTING

There was another duty upon the performance of which the Pharisees prided themselves—fasting. Some of them fasted twice a week. On those days they neglected the care of their persons, and went abroad that men might see they fasted, and admire them for their religiosity. In the day of a public fast for the sins of the nation, men should not conceal that they fast; but, like the king of Nineveh, who repented at the preaching of Jonah, they should set an example of penitence and self-denial. But when men fast for their own sins, then they ought to conceal the deed, and not seek to obtain human praise.

The scriptures teach us that fasting is a duty. It brings down the spirits, and sobers the mind; and, by the blessing of the Holy Spirit, disposes the soul for prayer and meditation. But there are some people, whose health is so delicate, that it would be injured by long fasting. It surely cannot be a duty for them to fast, for they would thus be less fit to pray.

But all should beware of excess in food, which drowns the soul, and renders it sensual and stupid. It is written concerning one of the most wicked cities of old, "Pride, FULLNESS OF BREAD, and abundance of idleness was in her and her daughters," (or inhabitants.) This fullness made them haughty, and brought on their destruction. (Eze_16:48, Eze_16:50.) Let none think that they are too pious to stand in need of such a warning. Christ warns his own disciples against gluttony and drunkenness—"Take heed lest at any time your hearts be overcharged with excessiveness and drunkenness." (Luk_21:34.) Constant moderation in food and drink is as important to the soul as to the body.

But when we fast let us beware of PRIDE; for as dead flies spoil the most fragrant ointment, so pride mars the most self-denying actions. We should perform religious duties secretly, when we are among those who will think highly of us for observing them. This rule applies to fastings, prayer, reading the scripture, and doing good. But when we are among those who would ridicule us for religion, then is the time boldly to confess our Master, and to show that we are not ashamed of him. How easy it is to speak against vain amusements, to quote the scriptures, and to make pious remarks in the presence of religious people—but how difficult, when surrounded by scoffers, to be faithful to Christ! We need a lively sense of the presence of God, that we may always act as in his sight, neither courting the smiles of our fellow-creatures, nor fearing their frowns; neither seeking their applause, nor shrinking from their ridicule. Let us labor to be accepted of Him, to whom we must each give an account. In that solemn hour how worthless will the praises of our fellow-creatures appear, their censures how harmless!

Title: Christ forbids covetousness and double-mindedness
Post by: nChrist on March 15, 2008, 06:14:25 AM
Devotional Commentary On The Gospels
by Favell Lee Mortimer ( 1802 - 1878 )

March 16

Christ forbids covetousness and double-mindedness

Our Savior had exposed the apparently good actions of the Pharisees, as their prayers, fastings, almsgivings. He now reproves their wicked practices. The first thing he attacks is their covetousness,—their delight in laying up earthly treasures. In those days riches consisted partly in valuable clothes, and therefore He speaks of moth and rust corrupting.

The Lord shows, in the first place, the folly of covetousness. Riches make themselves wings, and fly away. How foolish, then, to set the heart upon them! But if we do not lose them, we must leave them. We brought nothing into this world, and we can carry nothing out; it is therefore evident to reason, that if there is another world in which we shall eternally dwell, we ought to be extremely anxious to lay up treasures there.

But how are we to lay up treasures in heaven? By good works. Paul, in his epistle to Timothy, says, "Charge those who are rich in this world that they do good, that they be rich in good works, ready to distribute; willing to communicate, laying up in store for themselves a good foundation against the time to come, that they may lay hold on eternal life." But some may inquire, "Can we gain heaven by good works?" O no. Jesus Christ has gained heaven by his righteousness, and he freely bestows this heaven on all who believe in him. We cannot lay up treasures there, until we have believed in Him. We lay up treasures there, when we do things that please God. Good works are the fruits of faith. It is written, "Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord." It is added, "Their works do follow them." (Rev_14:13.) These blessed dead had believed in Christ; therefore their works were accepted. The Pharisees could not please God; they could not lay up treasures in heaven. And why not? Because the eyes of their minds were shut; and they saw not the glory of God in the face of Christ Jesus.

How great is the darkness of the unawakened mind! God alone, by his Holy Spirit, can enlighten this darkness. Jesus came to give sight to the blind. Has he given it to us? Our actions show whether he has or not. When we see a blind person, we are not always aware at first that he is blind; but if we watch him closely we soon discover his condition. If a mad dog pass near him, he does not try to avoid it; and if the most splendid illuminations be displayed, he does not stop to admire. The actions of men show clearly whether they are blind or not. Unawakened souls evince no dread of hell, no desire after heaven, no contempt for earth, no love for Christ. God frowns, but they are not alarmed; He stretches out his arms, but they perceive it not; He opens the gate of heaven, they do not strive to enter it; He points to the abyss of hell, they do not shrink back; He lifts up his crucified Son, they are not softened, or subdued.

There is an eye to the mind—if that eye be shut, we can do nothing right. This is what our Lord meant when he declared, "The light of the body is the eye; if therefore your eye be single, (or clear,) your whole body shall be full of light; but if your eye be evil, (or blind,) your whole body shall be full of darkness." When the eye of the mind is made clear, then we begin to act aright, and not until then.

Do we wish to know where our treasure is? Let us inquire where our heart is. They are in the same place. If our affections are set on things above, then we may know that we have treasures there; but if our heart is in our possessions, whether they be few or many, small or great, there our treasure is. Some unhappy people have shown in their last hours that their hearts were fixed upon some earthly trifles. A vain and foolish girl has been haunted in her expiring moments by the thoughts of her new dresses. A miser has been known eagerly to clench paper in his trembling hands, thinking it was his money. Had these dying people possessed treasures in heaven, they would not have clung so closely to their perishing property on earth.

Title: Christ forbids worldly anxiety
Post by: nChrist on March 15, 2008, 06:16:06 AM
Devotional Commentary On The Gospels
by Favell Lee Mortimer ( 1802 - 1878 )

March 17

Christ forbids worldly anxiety

Our Savior had charged his disciples not to lay up treasures upon earth. In this passage He gives them another command that appears much more difficult to obey, that is, He forbids them to be anxious about needful food and clothing. We are naturally inclined to think it impossible not to be anxious about the means of our support; but God graciously offers many arguments to prevent our indulging in such cares.

Do we doubt God's power to provide for us? Who was it gave us life, and made our bodies? Is it not much easier to clothe, and to feed, than to create us? Do we doubt the kindness of the Lord? Does He not condescend to feed the ravens, and clothe the lilies? And are we not much better than they, that is, much more precious in his sight than birds or flowers? Therefore we see that we dishonor God by doubting whether He will provide for our needs.

It is also useless to be anxious about the future. By being anxious, we cannot add one inch to our height, nor one moment to our lives. We know from other parts of scripture, that God does not desire us to be idle or improvident—he only forbids useless tormenting fears about the future.

And why does He forbid such thoughts? Because there is a nobler object set before us, which requires all our thoughts—"The kingdom of God and his righteousness." This kingdom we must seek earnestly, or we shall not obtain it. If our thoughts are occupied about earthly things, we shall lose this earthly inheritance. Christ said, "You cannot serve God and mammon," (or the world.) Neither can we be intent upon what we shall eat, and drink, and wear, and at the same time be seeking God. Christ said, that the Gentiles thought of these things. The Gentiles at that time were ignorant heathens, they knew not God, therefore they were occupied with earthly cares; but we ought not to be like them.

If we wish to discover our state before God, let us examine with what subjects our thoughts are generally occupied. Of course, while we are engaged upon any business, our minds must be on that business; but after it is done, our thoughts fly to the objects we most delight in. If we are God's children, our thoughts will often fly to heaven, our Father's house; but if we are not born again they will grovel upon the earth. This is God's own rule, "Those who are after the flesh mind the things of the flesh; but those who are after the Spirit mind the things of the Spirit."

It may appear to us a trifling sin to be engrossed with earthly thoughts; but it is a sign that we are in the flesh, not born again of the Spirit. Now it is written, "Those who are in the flesh cannot please God." (Rom_8:8.) How dreadful it would be to die in this state!

How kindly God undertakes to keep us from need, while we are seeking spiritual blessings with all our hearts! "Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you."

How happy should we be even in this world, if we would obey this command! "Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof." It is much pleasanter to be thinking of heaven and Christ, than to be dwelling upon the evils of life; and O! how much safer is it! For though it is useless to take thought about earthly things, it is of the greatest use to take thought about spiritual things. By thinking of hell we shall be led to flee from it; by thinking of sin, to dread it; by thinking of righteousness, to implore God to bestow it upon us, even Christ's righteousness upon us His guilty creatures.

Title: Christ forbids hypocritical judgment
Post by: nChrist on March 18, 2008, 01:31:28 AM
Devotional Commentary On The Gospels
by Favell Lee Mortimer ( 1802 - 1878 )

March 18

Christ forbids hypocritical judgment

The Lord Jesus had been warning his disciples against many of the evil practices of the Pharisees. There was no sin to which they were more addicted than to "judging." They did not judge righteous judgment, according to the word of God; but they judged according to their own wicked passions. Because they hated Christ, they endeavored to find faults in his conduct, and accused him of breaking the Sabbath, of encouraging sinners, and of being a gluttonous man and a wine-bibber. The men of the world still walk in the steps of the Pharisees—they are continually looking with a malicious eye for faults in the children of God, and attributing wrong motives to all their actions.

We may be sure that such judgment is sinful, because it is passed in a spirit of hatred. In how different a spirit the Christian judges! He cannot but know that the world lies in wickedness; he sees it with grief, and exerts all his powers to persuade sinners to flee from the wrath to come. By this rule we may know whether we are judging righteously or unrighteously. Do we rejoice over the faults of others, or do we lament over them! If we are seeking for their faults, and watching for their halting, then we have the spirit of the Pharisees, who maliciously watched the conduct of Christ and his disciples; then we may be sure that we are offending God, that we shall be judged by him, and that with the same measure we judge others, will be measured to us; for "he shall have judgment without mercy that has shown no mercy." (Jam_2:13.) It is in this spirit that irreligious people judge those whom they call "evangelicals and saints." They accuse them of hypocrisy, and of pride; they watch their conduct with an eagle's eye, and triumph over their infirmities with a demon's joy. Such people have a beam in their own eye. This beam prevents them from seeing their own sins. We may be assured, that if we do not see ourselves to be very great and miserable sinners, there is a beam of unbelief in our eyes which prevents our seeing it. While we cannot see our own sins, we cannot see the sins of others aright. What we call sins in them, perhaps are not sins. We do not know how to reprove until we have discovered what sinners we ourselves are.

But when God, by his converting grace, takes the beam out of our eyes, then we may help our brother to overcome his sins. Then we shall warn him in a spirit of humility and love, feeling our own unworthiness, and anxious for his good.

But there are some characters, in dealing with whom great caution must be used. Hypocrites may be compared to dogs and swine. As these animals feed on carrion and the vilest garbage, so hypocrites delight in sin. It would be wrong to give holy food, such as the priests ate, to dogs; and it would be foolish to cast pearls, such as queens wear, to swine.

But is it wrong or foolish to declare the holy and precious word of God to wicked men? O no—for Jesus said to his apostles, "Preach the gospel to every creature." But when men, having heard the truth, trample it under foot by their blasphemies, and turn and rend by their revilings, those who speak it, then they must be left to themselves. In this manner the apostle Paul dealt with the wicked Jews of Corinth. "And when they opposed them and blasphemed, he shook his clothing." "Your blood be upon your own heads—I am clean—from henceforth I will go unto the Gentiles!" (Act_18:6.) Thus the apostle left the dogs and swine, that he might feed the sheep committed to his charge.

Title: Christ promises that prayer shall be answered
Post by: nChrist on March 18, 2008, 01:33:04 AM
Devotional Commentary On The Gospels
by Favell Lee Mortimer ( 1802 - 1878 )

March 19

Christ promises that prayer shall be answered

This is one of the most encouraging passages in the whole Scriptures. How many have been led by this invitation to approach the throne of grace! Here is not only an invitation which assures you of a welcome, but also a promise of success—your petition shall be granted, "for everyone who asks receives."

Christ knew how apt we are to doubt the love of our Heavenly Father. Therefore he appealed to all the parents present, and said, "What man is there of you, whom if his son ask bread—will he give him a stone?" Every parent who heard this question must have felt that he could not treat his child in so unfeeling a manner—much less would he give his child a serpent instead of a fish, or a scorpion instead of an egg. There are in the East white scorpions, about the size of an egg; but no parent would deceive and mock his child by giving him that venomous animal instead of wholesome food.

There are few who cannot recollect the kindness their parents showed to them in their helpless days. There are few who have no recollection of a father's or a mother's love. In childhood we knew not its value, but in later years it melts our hearts to think of it. How readily our dear parents listened to our requests! They were not always able to grant them, and sometimes they saw it would not be well to give us what we desired. But they never denied us food when we needed it. They would rather have gone without it themselves, than have seen us suffering from hunger. How carefully they guarded us from everything that would injure us! They warned us not to approach too near the fire, or the water, and not to touch poisonous berries or dangerous animals. Far from giving us a scorpion, they would have been terrified, if they had seen it in our hands. And does God feel the same tenderness for his children? Hear what Jesus says, who came forth from the bosom of the Father—"If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to those who ask him?"

But if any trembling soul should reply, "How can I be sure that He is my Father? He is not the Father of the wicked," let him know that none but the children of God ask him for good things. The little lamb is shown to belong to its own mother by running to her to be fed. The children of Satan do not desire to have those things which God has promised. They seek for an earthly portion. They never really pray. When they are miserable, they often complain, but these complaints are not prayers. God said of Israel, "They have not cried unto me with their hearts, when they howled upon their beds," (Hos_7:14.) Sometimes in distress they make vows, as well as complaints. But are their vows prayers? God calls them flatteries, and lies. "Nevertheless they did but flatter him with their mouth, and they lied unto him with their tongues, for their heart was not right with him," (Psa_78:36.) How different from these were the prayers of David! He could say to God, "I entreated your favor with my whole heart." And he could also say, "Blessed be the Lord because He has heard the voice of my supplications." Every one who is now earnestly seeking God shall sooner or later say the same. Therefore, "let the heart of them rejoice that seek the Lord," (Psa_105:3.)

Title: Christ describes the wrong and the right way
Post by: nChrist on March 18, 2008, 01:34:50 AM
Devotional Commentary On The Gospels
by Favell Lee Mortimer ( 1802 - 1878 )

March 20

Christ describes the wrong and the right way

Who can hear our Savior's golden rule without approving it! And who can hear it without condemning himself! "Do for others what you would like them to do for you." He who has kept the same is a perfect man, and has done all the law and prophets taught. We must confess with sorrow that we have broken it a thousand times, and that we need pardon through the Savior's blood for these manifold transgressions. But though we have transgressed, yet if we desire to please God, we shall find this rule an admirable guide. God knows our ignorance, and has graciously furnished us with a rule that will apply to every circumstance in which we can be placed. On every occasion we should imagine ourselves to be in the place of our neighbor, and say, (for instance,) "If I were a parent, how would I expect my child to behave towards me; if I were a child, my parent; if I were a master, how would I require my servant to conduct himself; if I were a servant, how would I wish my master to deal with me; if I were suffering pain, what would I desire the healthy to do to alleviate my misery; if I were sunk in poverty, what would I think the rich ought to do, when they beheld my destitution?"

We may go further still, and say, "If I were a perishing heathen, now standing before the bar of God, what would I then think Christians ought to have done for me?" We must, however, ask these questions with this condition—"What would it be reasonable for me to expect another to do for me, if I were in his circumstances?"

How ill can we bear to be examined by this rule! And yet we have behaved far, far better to our fellow-creatures than we have to God.

Our Savior, by his next declaration, has often excited astonishment and anxiety. He declared that the gate of life was strait, and that the way was narrow; by which he meant that men find it difficult to be truly religious. The narrow way is not broader now than it was when these words were first spoken, and still there are but few who find it. And if there are but few who find it, let us never conclude that any practice is right, because many indulge in it. The way in which many walk must be wrong. If we would please God and save our souls, we must be singular.

In the broad way there are many travelers, and there are many paths in which those travelers walk. People of all sorts of character walk in it; the spend-thrift, and the miser; the pleasure-lover, and the self-righteous religionist—and each different kind of character condemns the other. Yet they are all alike in this respect, they do not love God, nor do his will; and they are all hastening (however little they may think it) to the same destruction.

Christians, on the contrary, all walk in the same path. They are all alike in spirit, though some are more excellent than others. They enter in at the same strait gate, that is, they believe in the same Savior. Though they come from the opposite ends of the world, yet they know each other's minds, and sympathize with each other's feelings. The greatest king and the lowest beggar have a sympathy with each other, if they both love Christ.

Yet this narrow way is little sought. The reason is, men cannot bear the sacrifices which they must make before they can enter in, they do not like to give up their pleasure and their pride. If they would walk in this narrow way, they would find it pleasant. In some places it is steep, and in others it is rough; but the blessed end makes it pleasant. It is a prospect that would make any path pleasant. It is a prospect that grows brighter as the traveler proceeds; it is the prospect of the everlasting hills, crowned with the golden city and the pearly gates. And the Companion makes it pleasant. He is at once the Guard, the Guide, the Friend of all who walk in the narrow way.

And though but few walk in it now, yet in the home to which it leads a multitude shall be found, yes, a multitude without number; for in every age, there have been some who traveled in this path, and in the ages yet to come there shall be many more. The broad road shall not be always thronged. When Satan, who now deceives the world, shall be shut up in prison, then the broad way shall be forsaken, the people shall be all righteous, and none shall say any more to his neighbor, "Know the Lord," for all shall "know Him from the greatest to the least." Our journey may be lonely, but our Father's house shall not be empty. There are many mansions in it, and not one of them shall lack a blessed inhabitant. Then will our divine Lord be satisfied, when he beholds gathered around Him his innumerable family.

And shall the straitness of the gate deter us from seeking to enter in? Or shall the narrowness of the way induce us to turn back? It would be well to go through fire and water to attain such an inheritance. But the sufferings of this way are far less than its consolations, and these cannot be compared with its end. "I reckon," said the apostle Paul, "that the sufferings of this life are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us," (Rom_8:18.)

Title: Christ warns against false prophets
Post by: nChrist on March 22, 2008, 04:13:00 PM
Devotional Commentary On The Gospels
by Favell Lee Mortimer ( 1802 - 1878 )

March 21

Christ warns against false prophets

Our Savior had been showing his disciples the necessity of walking in the narrow way to heaven. He knew that many false teachers would arise, who would point out an easier way; and the Pharisees at that very time encouraged people, by their instructions and example, to walk in the broad road which leads to destruction.

There have been false teachers in all ages. There were some among the Jews of old. Jeremiah and Ezekiel warned the people against prophets, who said, "Peace, peace, when there was no peace," and "healed the wound of the daughter of God's people slightly," and "daubed the wall with untempered mortar." (Ez. 13.) By these comparisons we are taught that the false prophets encouraged people to remain in sin. False ministers do so now; they do not teach the necessity of a living faith, and of an entire change of heart; therefore their hearers are not led to wash in the fountain of Christ's blood, or to pray that they may be truly converted.

It is quite necessary to warn people against such teachers; for many listen to their words, and follow their pernicious ways. These ministers are compared to wolves, because they destroy the souls of God's people. They are described as wearing sheep's clothing, because they often speak in a religious tone, and use Scripture language. When Lord Cobham was tried in London, in the year 1413, these hypocritical sentences were written by the Papists in his letter of condemnation and death —  "Following Christ's example in all that we might, who wills not the death of a sinner, but rather that he be converted and live, we took upon us to correct him. . . . Pitying him of fatherly compassion, and entirely desiring the health of his soul, we appointed him an adequate time of deliberation. Christ we take unto witness, that nothing else we seek in this our whole enterprise but his glory."

This language was sheep's clothing. Those who used it were inwardly ravening wolves. They sought to kill a pious nobleman, because he would not believe the errors which they taught. At last they obtained their heart's desire; for Lord Cobham was sentenced by the English parliament to be hung in chains and roasted over a slow fire!

Christ has told us how we are to detect false teachers when disguised in a fleece —  by their fruits. The fruits of the Spirit are love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance. These heavenly qualities adorn every faithful minister, though in some they flourish more than in others. Love reigns in the heart of every true Christian, and shines forth in his actions. He may be known by his kindness to all the saints, by his patient behavior to his enemies, and by his unwearied efforts to save the souls of men. None but a converted person brings forth such fruits as these. There are many unconverted people who lead moral, respectable, and even benevolent lives, but their hearts do not overflow with this love that we have described; and as their apparently good actions do not proceed from the right motive, they are worthless in the sight of Him who searches the hearts. None but a good tree can bring forth good fruit. We are all bad trees by nature; but God can make us good trees by his Spirit.

How dreadful is the declaration —  "Every tree which doesn't bring forth good fruit, is hewn down and cast into the fire!" Should not this terrible sentence lead us all anxiously to inquire, "Have I received a new nature? Have I become a good tree? Has the heavenly Husbandman found good fruit growing upon my branches?" The loving, the tender Savior would not have alarmed us, had there been no cause for alarm.

Title: He predicts the rejection of the false profession
Post by: nChrist on March 22, 2008, 04:14:53 PM
Devotional Commentary On The Gospels
by Favell Lee Mortimer ( 1802 - 1878 )

March 22

He predicts the rejection of the false profession

In this passage, Jesus gave a solemn warning to his own disciples, to those who professed to believe in him, and to those who called him "Lord, Lord." At the beginning of this sermon, he had declared, that except their righteousness should exceed the righteousness of the Scribes and Pharisees, they could not be saved. He had shown that the righteousness of the Pharisees was a mere outward form of religion, and he had warned his own followers against being satisfied with a mere form also. He declared that many would be lost through this sad mistake. "Many will say unto me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in your name?" and I will profess unto them, "I never knew you." In these words Jesus revealed himself as the Judge of men —  even as the Son of God.

Now let us hear what our Judge says. He declares that none shall enter heaven, but those who do the will of his Father. Does this make us tremble? Surely we must feel (if we know ourselves at all) that we often sin. But, "doing the Father's will," does not mean never being overtaken by a fault; for Christ declared to his Father in his last prayer for his disciples before his crucifixion, (John 17,) that they "had kept his word." Yet we know that they had often fallen into sin, such as disputing which should be the greatest, desiring to resent injuries, and sending away poor suppliants.

But what is it to do the will of God? It is sincerely to seek to please him from LOVE to his name. None do this but those who have received the Spirit of God, those who are born again. Jesus did not explain this subject fully in this sermon; but he said enough to show that we must seek for grace from God in order to be saved. Did he not say, "Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness?" and also, "Ask, and you shall receive; seek, and you shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you?" If we would do the will of God, we must seek for new hearts.

There is a passage in the epistles, which shows clearly that nothing short of the power of God working in our hearts can enable us to perform any action acceptable in his sight. (Heb_13:20-21.) "Now the God of peace which brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, (that great Shepherd of the sheep,) through the blood of the everlasting covenant, make you perfect in every good work to do his will, working in you that which is pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever. Amen." These verses show us that the power of that God who raised Christ from the dead, must work in our hearts to enable us to do his will. Neither can we do it, but through faith in Christ's blood, which was shed for us according to his everlasting promise or covenant.

Do we dread the idea of meeting with a repulse at the last day? Now is the time to examine whether we have been born again; whether the blood of Christ has washed away our sins; whether the Spirit has been shed abroad in our hearts; and whether we are doing the will of God. It is possible to depart out of this world, imagining we are going to heaven, and after all be disappointed. Many will suffer the severest of all disappointments. Will any of the lost spirits weep as bitterly as those who thought, until the very last, that they were going to be admitted into the mansions of bliss? Jesus would save us from receiving this agonizing refusal. He warns us beforehand not to be satisfied with a mere 'form of religion', but to seek for a new heart and a right spirit.

Title: The parable of the house on the rock and the house on the sand
Post by: nChrist on March 22, 2008, 04:16:19 PM
Devotional Commentary On The Gospels
by Favell Lee Mortimer ( 1802 - 1878 )

March 23

The parable of the house on the rock and the house on the sand

Christ ended his sermon on the mount by warnings against the danger of an empty profession of religion. He first gave the warning in plain language, saying, "Not everyone who says unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven." Then he related a parable on the subject. It is the first of his parables recorded. It resembles his last parable in this point —  both of them convey a dreadful warning to false professors of religion. In the parable of the talents an unprofitable servant is described, who is cast into outer darkness. (Mat_25:30.) And in this parable a foolish builder is spoken of, who, we have reason to believe, was crushed beneath the ruins of his own house. Why did Jesus thus begin and end his series of parables with warnings against the same sin? Was it not that he knew the great danger in which we stand, of being satisfied with a mere form of godliness?

Nothing is said about the sort of house the wise man built upon the rock. It may have been a large, or a small one; a splendid house, or a shabby one, we know not; but it was a safe one. The foundation was good. The foundation is the unseen part of a house, and yet the most important. So it is in religion. The unseen part is the most important. What is the state of the heart? that is the most important question. Has it been humbled before God? Has it believed in Christ, and been sprinkled with his blood? Has it been sanctified by the Holy Spirit? These are the important points; yet these are the invisible points. None do the sayings of Christ but those who are truly converted; they alone love him; and there is no obedience where there is no love.

The foolish man may have built a better house, in some respects, than the wise man did. The passers-by may have admired it more. He himself may have been much pleased with it. But it had one dominant fault, the foundation was bad. Instead of digging deep down in the solid rock, as the wise man did, he had been satisfied with a foundation in the sand. His house was unsafe; the higher it was, the greater would be its fall in the stormy day. As long as the weather continued fair, the house remained standing. As it was situated by the seaside, it was exposed to the fury of the waves as well as that of the winds. The tempest at length arose, and the house fell. How dreadful was the crash! how total the ruin! The waves would carry its beams and its planks to distant shores.

There is a day coming when the floods of great waters will try every building, and prove its strength. How strange it is that any should imagine themselves safe because they have heard the gospel! This is one of Satan's devices. If he cannot keep us from hearing the truth, he tries to persuade us to be satisfied with hearing; whereas, hearing should always be followed up by praying, and praying by doing. Yet, after all, it is not our own obedience that will save us, but the obedience of Him who bore the punishment of our sins upon the cross. If we believe in Jesus, we are built upon the rock of ages, and shall be able to endure the storm that will destroy the world, and all that is therein!

Title: The believing Centurion
Post by: nChrist on March 22, 2008, 04:17:58 PM
Devotional Commentary On The Gospels
by Favell Lee Mortimer ( 1802 - 1878 )

March 24

The believing Centurion

How interesting every character must be whom the Savior approved! He, who will be the Judge of each of us, has shown us beforehand what sort of people he approves. This centurion was highly commended by the heart-searching Redeemer. Yet we should not have expected to find pity in a centurion. For, in the first place, he was a soldier, and a warlike life is a great hindrance to the soul. In the second place, he was a man of rank —  and rank, we know, is a temptation to be proud. He was placed over a hundred soldiers, who were themselves men of some consideration; so that this centurion was perhaps equal in importance to a general in our armies. Thirdly, he was a Gentile, and therefore a heathen by birth. He had been sent by the Romans, who had conquered the Jews, to reside in Canaan. There he must have heard the Old Testament, and become acquainted with the true God, and believed the promise of a Savior. The report of our Lord's miracles had reached him, and had convinced him that Jesus was the Son of God. Thus, though a soldier, a man of rank, and a Gentile, he was a true believer.

Now let us examine the character of him who was commended so highly by the Lord.

Observe his compassion. He was deeply interested in his poor servant's illness, for this servant was dear unto him. True religion binds the hearts of masters and servants together, and makes them brethren, beloved in the Lord. (See Phm_1:16.)

Observe also his love to the people of God. He loved the Jews, because they were the peculiar people of God; and he did not love them in word only, but in deed and in truth, for he had built them a synagogue. Thus he had shown his love by his liberal actions.

Observe also his humility. Far from being puffed up with a conceit of his own merit, in having built a synagogue, he thought himself unworthy to come to the Savior, or to receive him beneath his roof. Matthew in his Gospel says the centurion came to Jesus; but, it is common to say people do things themselves when they cause others to do them. Luke gives a longer account of the circumstance, and mentions that some elders of the Jews were sent by the centurion. His respectful conduct was the more remarkable, because Jesus was poor and despised, but in the eyes of this honorable soldier, the lowly Nazarene was greater than the greatest of the sons of men. Being a Gentile, he thought he was less acceptable to Christ than the Jews, who were descended from the beloved Abraham, the friend of God. But in this he was mistaken, for Christ is no respecter of persons, and ever loved the children of Abraham in spirit above his children in the flesh. This Gentile resembled the Father of the Faithful, and was his son in spirit.

Lastly, let us consider his faith. It was in faith that he resembled Abraham. He had such faith, that he believed that if Jesus did but speak the word, all creatures must obey, even as his own soldiers and servants obeyed him. He thought that Christ's power was equal to that of God, who said, "Let there be light, and there was light." Nor was he mistaken; for all things were created by Jesus Christ, and are upheld by the word of his power. This faith was exceedingly pleasing to the Savior. Jesus loves faith. He plants it in the heart as the root of every other grace. Behold how he rewarded the centurion's faith! he healed his servant.

What peace we would enjoy, if in all our difficulties we felt that Jesus was able to deliver us! When our dear friends are sick, let us believe that He need only speak the word, and they would be well. Whatever anxiety presses on our hearts, let us bring it all to him, spread it before him, and trust him to do what will be best for us. If we act thus, we shall experience such mercies as will overwhelm us with gratitude.

Jesus declared that he had never met with such great faith in Israel, as he had found in this Gentile. He then took occasion to declare a very delightful and a very dreadful truth. It is recorded by Matthew, (Mat_8:11-12,) "Many shall come from the east and west, and shall sit down with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, in the kingdom of heaven; but the children of the kingdom shall be cast out into outer darkness; there shall be weeping and gnashing."

By the "children of the kingdom," Jesus meant the Jews. They heard the sayings of Christ, and did them not; but many in distant lands would hear them and do them.

In our days the gospel has been preached in the North and South, the East and West; and already some in every part have believed. Esquimaux, known among his nation as "the man the Savior took to himself," shall he not come from the north to sit down with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob? Africanus, once a ferocious chief, afterwards the missionary's faithful friend, shall he not come from the south? Abdool, the proud Mohammedan, grown as humble as a little child, shall he not come from the East? and though poor and despised like her Lord, shall not Sarah, the Indian widow —  the patient, the forgiving Sarah, come from the West to join the blessed company of patriarchs and prophets? God grant that none of us may be thrust with unbelieving Jews into outer darkness.

Title: The raising of the widow's son
Post by: nChrist on March 22, 2008, 04:19:33 PM
Devotional Commentary On The Gospels
by Favell Lee Mortimer ( 1802 - 1878 )

March 25

The raising of the widow's son

There are only three instances recorded of the Lord Jesus raising the dead, and in each instance was a case of aggravated sorrow.

The dead boy of Nain was the only son of a widow; he was the earthly all of his mother, the object of her fondest affections, and perhaps the support of her declining years.

If any of us have ever seen a widow who has sustained such a loss, what anguish of heart we have witnessed! How has she dwelt on the attractive qualities of the lost one; how has she lamented her own desolation, and said, in the bitterness of her soul, "Is there any sorrow like my sorrow?" No doubt we felt compassion for the bereaved parent, but not such as Jesus felt at the sight of the widow of Nain; for no heart was ever tender as the heart of the Redeemer.

What tenderness he showed in his manner of performing the miracle! He first addressed the sorrowful mother, saying, "Weep not." We would but mock the afflicted, if we were to say, "Weep not." We can only weep with those that weep. But Jesus could remove the cause of grief. Though himself a man of sorrows, he tasted the pure joy of comforting mourners. If the mother looked up, she beheld him through her tears approach the coffin. What a moment of expectation that was! We do not know whether the bearers had faith to believe that Jesus could raise the dead, but they stood still in his presence. Then the majestic command was heard, "I say unto you, Arise."

On what a scene that young man opened his eyes! There was his fond mother —  but who was this wonderful person standing close beside him? He began to speak. By speaking he proved that he was really alive. What were his first words? We are not informed. Did he inquire who had restored him to life? He soon must have known, for he who had snatched him from the grasp of death, now delivered him into the arms of his mother. This sweet office the Lord would perform himself. It must have been a solace to his loving heart to behold the joyful meeting of the parent and the child.

But his chief reason for performing miracles was to confirm his word. By raising the widow's son, he showed that he could bestow life. He had declared, "All who are in the graves shall hear my voice, and shall come forth." Yet there will be a great difference between that resurrection, and this of the young man, because the dead will then be changed; whereas, this young man wore again his corruptible body. Jesus was the first who rose from the dead with a glorified body, no more to die.

Would we be partakers in the resurrection from the grave, we must now experience another —  a resurrection from the death of trespasses and sins. This is the most wonderful of all; but Jesus can bestow it by his word. "The hour is coming, and now is," said the Lord of life, "when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God, and live." Yes, the hour now is when the dead hear the voice of the Son of God and live. The dead in trespasses and sins hear the voice of the Christ in his holy word; they believe, and live. As the apostle Paul said to the Ephesians, "You has he quickened, (or made alive,) who were dead in trespasses and sins." (Eph_2:1.) These very words that Jesus spoke to the widow's son, "Young man, I say unto you, Arise," have aroused some dead in sins, and caused them to live to God.

Title: The visit of John the Baptist's disciples
Post by: nChrist on March 26, 2008, 01:30:24 PM
Devotional Commentary On The Gospels
by Favell Lee Mortimer ( 1802 - 1878 )

March 26

The visit of John the Baptist's disciples
Luke 7:18-23

We know that John at this time was shut up in prison. While there he was visited by his disciples. Though they had often been directed to look to Jesus as the Savior of the world, it appears they now doubted whether he was the true Messiah so long expected. They did well to come to their teacher to express their doubts. It is always well to confide such thoughts to those who are able to help us, for by hiding them in our own bosoms, we may often occasion ourselves much uneasiness, and expose ourselves to great danger. It would, indeed, be very wrong to express our doubts to ignorant, or unbelieving people, but it is wise to open our minds to experienced Christians.

The disciples of John must have heard reports of the miracles which Jesus did, but they did not believe these reports. Probably they were prejudiced against the Lord on account of his manner of life, which was very unlike that of John; for Jesus freely mixed with sinners, and ate and drank with them, while John had always led a solitary life, and had lived upon the plainest food. John took an excellent method to convince his unbelieving disciples. He sent them to Jesus.

We often find that the Lord refused to perform miracles to convince unbelievers. When the Pharisees asked him for a sign, he said they would have none but that of the prophet Jonah, (the sign of the resurrection.) But he did not refuse to perform miracles to convince these inquirers. What was the reason of this difference? No doubt he knew that they were desirous to believe, and he always treats those with great compassion who are anxious to know the truth.

If any doubt whether the Gospel is from heaven, let them go and witness its effects. Behold John Newton, the slave-dealer, transformed into a tender-hearted man, who delights in freeing the slaves of Satan. Behold thousands of blind idolaters throwing away their idols and abandoning their vicious practices. But time would fail us even to glance at the wonders the Gospel has wrought among all nations, from the days of Paul until now.

Yet still it is necessary to hearken to our Savior's warning — "Blessed is he, whoever shall not be offended in me." Blessed is he whoever shall believe in me in spite of all he sees in me to hinder his believing. By these words Jesus taught John's disciples, that notwithstanding his miracles, many would refuse to believe in him.

There are still many temptations not to believe in Jesus. The world does not believe in him — this is one temptation; there are so many hypocrites and inconsistent Christians — this is another temptation; the people of God are generally poor, lowly, and unlearned — this is another stumbling-block; and the doctrine of salvation by faith is unpleasant to proud and earthly hearts — this is the greatest stumbling-block of all. But those who believe, notwithstanding all these hindrances, shall receive this blessing. "Blessed is he, whoever shall not be offended by me."

We have reason to hope that John's disciples did believe in Jesus, because they appear to have been men of a right spirit. When they returned, according to the Savior's command, to their imprisoned master, and related the wonders they had seen, how great must have been the joy of that faithful man! His gloomy prison must have been enlightened by the tidings of his Savior's glory. Nothing cheers the servants of God so much as to hear of the triumphs of their Lord. They rejoice when they read of the success of missionaries in far distant lands, and they look forward to the day when every knee shall bow to the eternal Son of God. Are our hearts interested in these great and glorious subjects? are they wrapped up in the insignificant occurrences of the passing hour? We all have selfish hearts by nature; but God can enlarge them by his grace, and make them delight in those events which are the joy of saints and angels.

Title: Jesus commends John the Baptist
Post by: nChrist on March 26, 2008, 01:31:55 PM
Devotional Commentary On The Gospels
by Favell Lee Mortimer ( 1802 - 1878 )

March 27

Jesus commends John the Baptist
Luke 7:24-28

God has said, "those who honor me I will honor." — (1 Samuel 2:30.) John the Baptist honored Christ much in his preaching, and now we hear how greatly Christ honored him. The Lord, who knows all men, declared that no prophet greater than John had ever appeared. Elijah, who raised the widow's son, was not greater; for though John had performed no miracle, he knew more of Christ than any who had come before him.

Jesus reminded the people of the time when John preached in the wilderness, and asked them why they had gone there. Was it to see one of the reeds, shaken by the wind? No! they had not gone to see a common sight, but to see an extraordinary sight. Was it a magnificent worldly sight that they had gone into the wilderness to see? No! if they had desired to behold splendor and magnificence they would not have gone into the wilderness to search for it. It is kings in their palaces who are arrayed in gorgeous dazzling garments; whereas John the Baptist was only clothed in skins, and a leather belt; there was nothing to please the eye in his appearance. Why then had they gone into the wilderness? To hear a prophet. Jesus reminded the people of this, to show them how much spiritual good they ought to have gained from their visits to the wilderness. But many had derived no benefit from these visits; if they had, they would have received Christ as the Son of God, for John had preached concerning him.

Jesus then declared that the least in the kingdom of heaven was greater even than John. The Lord had come to establish the kingdom of heaven upon earth. He had come to shed his blood for the sins of men. Those who believe in the crucified Savior are greater in knowledge than John the Baptist; for they know the way of salvation more fully than he did. We live in the latter days, and God has spoken to us by his Son, and by his apostles, the least of whom was a greater prophet than John. How shall we escape if we neglect so great salvation?

What did Jesus mean by the expression, "The kingdom of heaven suffers violence, and the violent take it by force?" By the violent, we believe, He meant those worldly people who persecute his servants. As John had suffered imprisonment, and would also suffer death, for preaching the truth, so from his days would all the faithful servants of the Lord be subjected to much suffering for their Master's sake. Violent men would endeavor to rob and destroy by force the kingdom of heaven.

Then the Lord made a declaration that must have surprised many of those who heard him. He said that John was the Elijah spoken of by Malachi in the last chapter of his prophecy. (Malachi 4:5.) "Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the great and dreadful day of the Lord." John was not Elijah himself, but he had come in the spirit and power of Elijah, being fervent in spirit and great in power, turning sinners to the Lord. Yet Jesus knew that many would not believe what he was now declaring, for he said, "If you will receive it, this is Elijah that was for to come. He who has ears to hear let him hear."

We see from this passage, that Jesus knows what advantages we have enjoyed, and what use we have made of them. Have we heard faithful and impressive preachers? What effect have their sermons had upon our hearts? Have we been persuaded to strive earnestly to enter the kingdom of heaven? If we merely float down the stream, we shall at length be plunged into an abyss of misery. The tide is against us, and the wind is contrary. We must be anxious and earnest. The prayer of Jacob suits every perishing sinner, "I will not let you go, except you bless me."

Title: Jesus reproves the Jews for their perverseness
Post by: nChrist on March 26, 2008, 01:33:40 PM
Devotional Commentary On The Gospels
by Favell Lee Mortimer ( 1802 - 1878 )

March 28

Jesus reproves the Jews for their perverseness
Luke 7:29-35

We now refer to Luke's account of our Savior's discourse about John the Baptist, because it contains some particulars omitted by Matthew.

The Lord Jesus declared that the people, and even the publicans, believed John the Baptist's preaching, while the Pharisees despised it. The publicans were great sinners, most of them being notoriously dishonest in the collection of taxes. When John declared to them that their sins were great, and deserved punishment, they justified God, that is, they acknowledged that God's sentence was just, and they gladly received baptism as a sign of their need of being cleansed from their iniquities. But when John delivered the same truths to the Pharisees, telling them they were the children of the devil, and a generation of vipers, they were offended; they rejected the counsel of God against themselves, and did not desire to be baptized, because they thought they were already clean in heart and in life. Thus it often is now. Some who have committed open gross sins are brought to repentance; while others, who have led regular, and apparently religious lives, will not believe that on account of the secret sins of their hearts, they ought to humble themselves before God.

The Pharisees treated the Lord Jesus in the same way that they had treated John — with contempt. They had found fault with John, because he led so solitary and so strict a life, being clad in skins, feeding on locusts and honey, and refusing to taste wine or strong drink, therefore they had said that he was possessed with the devil. But they could not find the same fault with Jesus; for he led quite an opposite life, eating and drinking like men in general, and mingling with the vilest sinners, that he might win their souls to God. Yet the Pharisees were not better pleased with him than with John, and profanely called him a glutton, and a wine bibber, and a friend of sinners. But what was the reason that both John and the Lord Jesus were assaulted by the Pharisees' reproaches, when they were so different from each other in their manner of life? The reason was, that they both had declared the same unwelcome truths; they both had preached the necessity of repentance and faith.

Jesus related a short parable to describe the Pharisees' conduct. It was common for children in the market-place to play at rejoicing and at mourning. One party of children imitated the glad songs of the Jews at their marriages, and on other joyful occasions, (such as the return of a long-lost son,) while another party were expected to dance to the sound of their music. But sometimes sullen and wayward children would not join in the amusement. Then the other party would good-naturedly change the play and imitate the mournful music of funerals, (such as that made by the minstrels when Jairus' daughter lay dead,) expecting their companions to use sorrowful gestures and to appear to weep; but the same spoiled children would object to this play also. Thus the Pharisees liked neither the strict manners of John the Baptist, nor the condescending behavior of the Lord. This was a proof that they hated their words of wisdom, for Jesus declared, "Wisdom is justified by all her children." The children of wisdom, (or of God,) acknowledge his heavenly wisdom by whomsoever declared. If the Pharisees had been the children of God, they would have justified God both when John preached, and when the Lord himself preached.

People who hate the Gospel continue to excuse themselves for not attending to it, by accusing those who preach it of faults in their manner, or of errors in their life. These accusations proceed from enmity to the Gospel, and will not be received by God as excuses for neglecting it. If men could find fault with the Savior's conduct, how impossible it is for a true Christian to escape censure, especially as he is liable to commit real errors! But O how great is the guilt of those who thus oppose the servants of God! They are enemies to their own souls.

God tries every means to turn sinners to himself; in his holy word, sometimes using tender entreaties, and sometimes denouncing dreadful warnings — in his providence sometimes heaping mercies on our heads, and sometimes executing judgment. Should every means fail to melt, or to subdue our hearts, well may his wrath wax hot against us! Let us pray for an obedient and docile spirit, ready to listen to the word of the Lord, whether He speaks in thunder, or in a small still voice.

Title: Christ upbraids three cities for their impenitence
Post by: nChrist on March 26, 2008, 01:35:42 PM
Devotional Commentary On The Gospels
by Favell Lee Mortimer ( 1802 - 1878 )

March 29

Christ upbraids three cities for their impenitence
Matthew 11:20-24

We find from this passage that the preaching of the Lord Jesus produced very little effect upon men's hearts. In order that people be converted, it is necessary, not only that the preaching be faithful, but that the hearts of the hearers be prepared — for otherwise the tongues of holy men, or of angels, or even of the Son of God, may speak in vain.

The cities in which our Savior most frequently preached were Chorazin, Bethsaida, and especially Capernaum. We are inclined to exclaim, "Blessed cities!" But Jesus says, "Woe unto you, Chorazin!" The preaching of the Son of God was not a blessing to that city, but a curse. And now the very place where it stood cannot be ascertained. Travelers may still visit Bethlehem and Nazareth, Jericho and Sychar, and many other ancient cities; but if they inquire for Capernaum, and Chorazin, and Bethsaida, they will get no certain answer.

There is a very wonderful truth contained in the words of Christ, just read by us. Jesus declared that Tyre and Sidon, two heathen cities, would have repented, if they had seen the miracles he had performed in Israel; and that Sodom, that most wicked city, would also have repented, and been spared the "vengeance of eternal fire." We see therefore that Jesus not only knows all that does happen, and all that will happen; but that he also knows all that would have happened, in every possible case. He knows how each heathen city would have received his word, had she heard it. He does not explain to us his reasons for not giving that light to Tyre and Sidon which he bestowed on the cities of Israel. He gives an account of none of his matters. The Judge of all the earth will do right, and none may dare to say, or even to think, "What are you doing?" At the last day his justice in his dealings with men will be seen and acknowledged by the assembled universe. The degree of every person's punishment will be exactly proportioned to his guilt; and that guilt will be measured by his advantages, and by the use he made of them. And can we hear this without reflecting upon our own case? How great are the privileges we enjoy!

There have been heathens, who, as soon as they were told of the love of Jesus in dying for their sins, began to repent. A Hindoo set out on a pilgrimage to Juggernaut, carrying with him a few tracts which he had not read. Being detained on the way by the illness of his wife, he had the opportunity of reading them attentively. Did he proceed to Juggernaut? No! he set out on a better pilgrimage. Desiring to persuade his countrymen to turn to the Lord, he often read aloud to little assemblies in the open air. While thus engaged, a poor native passed by, stopped to listen, was struck by what he heard, asked a few important questions, and immediately determined to give himself to Him who had bought him with his blood. (Report of the Religious Tract Society for 1845, p. 58.)

Are not those Hindoos a reproach to any who, having heard many sermons, and read many chapters, and received much instruction, have not repented yet? Surely if we repent not, we shall be thrust down to the lowest hell; far, far below the wickedest of the heathen!

But Jesus will himself bestow repentance on all who seek this precious grace. "Him has God exalted with his right hand to be a Prince and a Savior, for to give repentance to Israel and forgiveness of sins," (Acts 5:31.)

Title: Christ offers a thanksgiving to his Father, and invites the heavy laden to come
Post by: nChrist on March 26, 2008, 01:37:27 PM
Devotional Commentary On The Gospels
by Favell Lee Mortimer ( 1802 - 1878 )

March 30

Christ offers a thanksgiving to his Father, and invites the heavy laden to come to Him
Matthew 11:25-30

We have now read the end of our Savior's discourse to the people, after John the Baptist's messengers had departed. The beginning of the discourse contains warnings and reproofs, but the end is filled with thanksgivings, invitations, and entreaties. Jesus intermingled prayer to his Father with his addresses to the people. What a privilege we enjoy in being permitted to know what he said to his Father! He spoke aloud that men might be edified; for on one occasion he declared, when engaged in prayer, "because of the people who stand by, I said it," (John 11:42.)

Often our blessed Lord offered up prayer accompanied by tears, (Hebrews 5:7;) but on this occasion heavenly joy must have enlightened his countenance, for Luke informs us that "he rejoiced in spirit," (Luke 10:21.) And what was the cause of his joy? It was, that God had revealed these things to babes, though he had hid them from the wise and prudent. What things? Things respecting himself; the things about which John the Baptist's disciples had inquired — "Are you he who shall come, or look we for another?" (ver. 3.)

These things many babes knew. By babes ignorant people are meant, those who feel their ignorance, and desire to be taught of God. To such babes (whether learned or not in worldly things) God reveals his Son, while he leaves the wise and prudent in their own sight to blindness and darkness. Such were the Pharisees. Though really blind and dark, they thought they knew the way of salvation; for Satan had blinded their minds, as it is written in 2Co_4:3-4  — "The god of this world has blinded the minds of those who believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ (who is the image of God) should shine into them."

Let us pray to God to give us the spirit of a babe, a humble, teachable spirit, and then Christ will reveal to us that heavenly knowledge which can save our souls. It seemed good in the Father's sight that babes should be instructed. We need not, therefore, fear a repulse from our heavenly Father, if we come confessing our ignorance and desiring to be taught. And who is the Teacher that He has appointed? It is the meek and lowly Jesus. Hear him say, "Learn of me, for I am meek and lowly in heart." Who would not delight in receiving instruction from such gracious lips? How sweetly he encourages sinners to approach! — "Come unto me, all who are weary and heavy laden, and I will give you rest." And does not his invitation include every child of man? Every sinner is weary and heavy laden. Penitent sinners mourn for the guilt of sin; but those who are not penitent feel the misery of its bondage. They may not know what it is that interrupts their happiness; they may think it is the circumstances in which they are placed; but it is the sin that dwells in them, and holds them in captivity. Jesus alone can free the soul from the chain of its sins; he alone can bestow rest. Those who believe in him do enter into rest; they can say of their Shepherd, "He makes me to lie down in green pastures; he leads me beside the still waters."

How happy are they who early choose the Lord for their friend and master! They will find his yoke easy, and his burden light; they will find that, instead of binding burdens upon them, he himself bears their burdens. Ask those who have been long engaged in this service, whether they have not found his yoke easy and his burden light. They will tell you that in the brightest days of heedless youth, they never tasted that peace which they have found in the darkest nights of pious old age.

Title: The penitent weeping at the feet of Jesus
Post by: nChrist on March 26, 2008, 01:39:11 PM
Devotional Commentary On The Gospels
by Favell Lee Mortimer ( 1802 - 1878 )

March 31

The penitent weeping at the feet of Jesus
Luke 7:36-50

Two opposite characters are described in this interesting history; Simon the Pharisee and the weeping sinner!

Simon was probably respected by his neighbors, and accounted a religious man, but he was not accepted in the sight of Jesus. The woman had been a gross and open sinner, yet she was accepted by her Savior. Now what was the reason of this difference? Does Jesus love sin? God forbid!

The reason of the difference was, that Simon did not love Jesus, and the poor woman did love Him. The Pharisee showed his lack of love by neglecting to pay him the attention usually shown in that country to guests. He neither gave him water to wash his feet, nor ointment to anoint his person, nor did he bestow the customary salutation. The woman showed her love to Jesus by coming into the house where he was, notwithstanding the scoffs and frowns of the master and his friends; by standing at his feet washing them with her tears, kissing them with respectful affection, and anointing them with precious ointment. The customs of that country rendered it easy for the poor penitent to enter the house. Jesus was reposing, according to the eastern fashion, upon a sofa, and his feet were in such a position that the woman, while she stood behind him, could weep over them and anoint them.

Let us now ask why the woman loved Jesus so much, and the Pharisee loved him so little, or rather not at all? Jesus himself explained the reason in his parable. He had forgiven the woman a mighty debt. She knew that he had forgiven it, and therefore she loved him; for this is the meaning of the 47th verse. Her sins, which are many, are forgiven, (not because she loved much, but) therefore she loved much. Jesus first forgave her, and then she loved Him.

Jesus does not say that the Pharisee's debt was really small. He related this parable to show his host that if he thought his debt small, he could not love him much, even if he forgave him his debt. Do we wish to know whether we love Jesus much? Let us ask ourselves what we think of our debt. Do we think it small or large? Do we think that our sins are many or few?

By nature we all think that our debt is small. Yes, even murderers think that their sins are not so great as they appear, and that they are excusable on account of their many temptations. Thus we all excuse ourselves in our own sight, and think it an easy thing for God to forgive us such little debts. While we remain in this state of mind, we cannot love Jesus much. In fact, we cannot love him at all, and we cannot be accepted in his sight. But if Jesus, by his Spirit, touches our hearts, then we perceive that our sins are very great, and we cry to Him, "Pardon my iniquity, for it is great." It is not the acts of sin that we chiefly lament, but the secret sins of our hearts. These, we feel, are set in the light of God's countenance, and cannot be forgiven without the shedding of the Savior's blood. People often remain a long while in great distress on account of their sins; but when they can believe that there is forgiveness with God, and that he has washed them from their sins, they are filled with gratitude; then they love much, because Jesus has forgiven much.

Never do we lament our sins so much, as when we think of our Savior's infinite love. When is it we regret most our offences against an earthly friend? Is it not when we find that while we have been neglecting him, he has been laboring for our good; that when we have been suspecting him, he has been pleading for us? This is the grief that the true penitent feels. This was the grief that caused the woman to shed such abundant tears upon the feet of Jesus.

Title: The women who followed Jesus
Post by: nChrist on April 02, 2008, 02:06:21 PM
Devotional Commentary On The Gospels
by Favell Lee Mortimer ( 1802 - 1878 )

April 1

The women who followed Jesus

In these verses we have a description of our Savior's diligence, of his poverty, and of his humility.

His diligence was unwearied. He went as an itinerant (or a wandering preacher) from place to place. He knew the value of the souls of men, and the danger in which they lay; and being full of love, he delighted in declaring the glad tidings of salvation.

Though all are not called to preach, as he was, all are called to promote the salvation of their fellow-sinners. Yet how many, far from endeavoring to convert others, are themselves content to remain unconverted! They are too slothful to inquire earnestly, "What shall we do to be saved?" though they are often eagerly asking, "What shall we eat, and what shall we drink, and wherewithal shall we be clothed?" How strange it seems to spend so much anxiety upon a dying body, and so little upon a never-dying soul!

While Jesus was upon earth, there were some women who accompanied him from place to place to hear his word. They were bound to him by ties of gratitude, having been healed by him of various infirmities.

Mary Magdalene, or Mary of Magdala, (the town from which she came, as it is supposed,) had once been possessed by seven devils. We should not conclude from this circumstance that she had been peculiarly wicked. The possession of devils seems to have been an affliction rather than a sin; for we never find that Jesus rebuked the people who were possessed, but only the devils. Many have supposed that Mary Magdalene was the woman who washed the Redeemer's feet with her tears; but there is no evidence to prove this opinion to be true. Yet Mary loved Jesus with the same devoted affection as that poor weeping sinner did; she followed him to his cross, and shed tears at his grave, and had the honor of being the first to behold him after his resurrection.

Another woman, who followed him, was the wife of Herod's steward. The bad examples of Herod, and of Herodias, had not hindered her from embracing that Gospel which her superiors despised. She also continued faithful to Jesus at his death, and at his grave.

Such was the poverty of Jesus, that he permitted these holy women and many others to contribute to his support. "They ministered unto him of their substance." Surely we think it was an honor to be allowed to give to him, who gave them all things. It is an honor that we may share with them. Though we may have little to give, yet, if we bestow that little in a spirit of love upon the least of the saints, we give unto Jesus himself.

Observe the humility of Jesus in accepting alms. That independent spirit, which the world so much commends, proceeds from pride of heart. It is right to desire to work for our own subsistence, rather than to receive charity; but when reduced to poverty, it is wrong to feel pain in accepting gifts from those who are richer than ourselves. Jesus could have turned stones into bread, but he chose rather to receive bread from his creatures. Thus he set us an example of humility.

It is supposed that it was about this time that a circumstance recorded by Mark took place. "They went into a house, and the multitude came together again, so that they could not so much as eat bread. And when his friends heard of it, they went out to lay hold on him, for they said, He is beside himself." (See Mar_3:19-21.) It seems probable that Jesus went into this house that he might rest his wearied frame and refresh himself with bread; but the multitude, anxious for his presence, induced him to resume his fatiguing labors. His friends, perhaps his unbelieving relations, (for some of them did not believe on him,) thought that he was mad, because he complied with the people's desire. They knew not his motives, and therefore they thought he was beside himself. When a person acts in a manner for which we can see no motive, we think that person must have lost his reason. If a person were to rush into this room, uttering loud cries, we would conclude he was mad; but if we found that the house was on fire, we would no longer wonder at his behavior, for we would think a house being on fire a sufficient motive to justify his earnestness.

The world are astonished at the earnestness of devoted Christians, because they cannot understand their motives. The believer beholds by faith a glorious heaven, and a dreadful hell; a gracious Savior, and a malicious tempter; immortal souls, and approaching judgment. He must therefore be earnest in attempting to save his fellow-sinners from perdition. The world beholds none of these things, and naturally wonders at the conduct of the Christian. Does the earnestness of devoted Christians astonish us? Do we say, "What is the need of all these exertions? Why cannot people be religious without pressing their opinions upon others?" If we think thus, is there not reason to fear that we know not the value of souls, and that we believe not in the wrath to come?

Title: Christ disproves the Pharisees' blasphemous accusation
Post by: nChrist on April 02, 2008, 02:08:39 PM
Devotional Commentary On The Gospels
by Favell Lee Mortimer ( 1802 - 1878 )

April 2

Christ disproves the Pharisees' blasphemous accusation

How dreadful was the accusation which the Pharisees ventured to make against the Savior! They were not able to deny that he had performed an astonishing miracle; therefore they accused him of casting out devils through the power of Beelzebub, (or Satan,) the prince of the devils. We see from this instance, that wicked men will always find some excuse for not believing in God. Sometimes they say that there is not sufficient proof that the Bible is true; but if their objections are answered, still they refuse to believe, and find some other excuse, however absurd, rather than give up their sins, and come to Christ for pardon. But we ought not to be impatient with those that oppose themselves to the truth. We should imitate Christ, who calmly answered the Pharisees. Jesus sometimes spoke severely to them, but never in answer to their reproaches against himself. He always behaved meekly when reviled by his enemies; thus setting us an example, that we should follow his steps.

He gave two reasons to prove that he did not cast out Satan by Satan's help. In the first place, he said that Satan would not assist him to injure his own kingdom; and in the second place, he asked the Pharisees by whom their children cast out devils; for there were certain people among the Jews, called exorcists, who professed to be able to cast out devils, though it is not certain whether they could really do so or not. Sceva, mentioned in Acts 19, was one of those "exorcists." Jesus knew that the Pharisees would never acknowledge that their own children, or friends, cast out devils by Satan, and therefore he declared that it was unreasonable to say that he was assisted by that evil spirit.

Then He related a very short parable to describe the work he was doing in the world. He compared himself to a man come to take possession of a house, and of the things in it. This house was the world, and the goods in the house were the souls of men. Jesus came to rescue these precious souls from Satan's power. He compared Satan to a strong man, who was in the house, and who tried to prevent him from coming in. Jesus came down to earth, and became a man that he might first bind Satan, and then spoil his goods; that is, redeem the souls that had been taken captive by the wicked one.

Jesus is still engaged in releasing captives. He calls upon all whom he has rescued to join in the mighty work. Can there be any so base and ungrateful as to hesitate to obey the summons? Those who hold back are counted by Jesus as his enemies. What an dreadful declaration there is in verse 30! "He who is not with me is against me; and he who gathers not with me, scatters abroad." None can remain neutral; all must be on one side or the other.

Great injury has been done to the Redeemer's cause by not speaking in its favor. When missionaries first proclaimed the gospel in Tahiti, they received this answer from some of the heathens! "Were these things true, would not Captain Cook have told us of them long ago? But neither he nor his sailors spoke about the religion that you teach." Thus we see that ungodly mariners, by not gathering with Christ, scatter abroad.

Some people imagine that if they do no harm themselves, they may go to those places where others speak and act wickedly. But there is a promise to him who shuts his eyes from seeing of evil. (Isa_33:16.) Those who love their crucified Savior cannot stand by and hear his name profaned, and see his laws broken. Instead of being amused, they feel as Moses did when, coming down from the Holy Mount, he found Israel engaged in the worship of the golden calf.

Title: He warns against the unpardonable sin
Post by: nChrist on April 02, 2008, 02:10:17 PM
Devotional Commentary On The Gospels
by Favell Lee Mortimer ( 1802 - 1878 )

April 3

He warns against the unpardonable sin

This is a very dreadful part of our Savior's discourse to the Pharisees. There is a sin which cannot be forgiven, and it is a sin of the tongue. Certain words which may be spoken against the Holy Spirit, are called, "Blasphemy against the Holy Spirit." There is a mystery in this subject which we would not presume to attempt to remove. Yet we may form some idea of the nature of blasphemy against the Holy Spirit, by examining the conduct of those whom Jesus now addressed. The Pharisees seem to have been convinced by the miracles of the Savior, that he was a true prophet; but though convinced, they were determined to reject him, and to set the people against him also. In this dreadful state of mind they accused him of working miracles by the power of Satan, and not by the Spirit of God. Had they really supposed he was assisted by Satan, their sin would not have been so enormous; then they would have sinned, as Saul of Tarsus did, "ignorantly, in unbelief;" but now they sinned against the convictions of their conscience, and with deliberate malice.

That man has reached the highest pitch of wickedness, who, though himself convinced of the truth of the gospel, endeavors to persuade others to disbelieve it. We hope there are not many who act so daring a part. It is probable that infidels are generally deceived themselves, before they attempt to deceive others. Such a state of unbelief, dangerous as it is, is far better than conviction of the truth, accompanied by determined hatred against God. Such is the condition of devils, and of all the lost spirits. They cannot doubt the power of God; but while they believe and tremble, they vent blasphemies against his holy name. Is any soul distressed with the fear lest he should ever have committed the unpardonable sin? let him take comfort. His fears prove that he is not sealed up in final impenitence. At the same time, let us all beware of the deceitfulness of sin. Though every sin is not unpardonable, every sin is dangerous. Many who have never been guilty of the unpardonable sin, will nevertheless die unpardoned. Who can conceive how dreadful it is to feel you are dying, and that you are not pardoned. Some impenitent sinners die resting on false hopes; but others die in despair. Those who have stood by their death-beds, have declared that the sight of their agonies was too horrible to be endured.

Pardon, so little sought for by sinners while they live, is not always obtained when they are dying. The Hon. Francis Newport, an infidel, who died in 1692, in his last illness was heard to say, as he looked upon the fire, "O that I was to lie upon that fire for a hundred thousand years to purchase the favor of God, and be reconciled to him again! But it is a fruitless, vain wish; millions of millions of years will bring me no nearer the end of my tortures than one poor hour." This miserable man had not faith to come to the blood of Christ to wash away his sins. The understanding may be convinced, while the enmity of the heart against God is not removed.

Title: Jesus warns against idle words
Post by: nChrist on April 02, 2008, 02:11:48 PM
Devotional Commentary On The Gospels
by Favell Lee Mortimer ( 1802 - 1878 )

April 4

Jesus warns against idle words

Behold an instance of the severe terms in which the meek and gentle Jesus sometimes rebuked sinners. He called the Pharisees a "generation of vipers." Thus he declared them to be the seed of the old serpent, and the children of Satan. They had accused him of casting out devils through the power of Satan, while they themselves belonged to the family of the wicked one. It is to be expected that the children of the devil should utter blasphemies, even as a bad tree brings forth bad fruit.

Though all have not reached the same height of wickedness as these Pharisees, yet all have by nature wicked hearts, that cannot bring forth really good fruit. If our hearts were in a right state, our words would be good. The tongue was given to man to bless God. David for this reason calls it his glory. "Awake, my glory." The tongue would indeed be the glory of man if his heart were right with God. What a noble use the angels make of their tongues! they unite in a never-ceasing song of praise to God. Adam, when first created, doubtless used his tongue for the same glorious purpose. But since the fall, the tongue has become the outlet of the abominations of man's heart—the evil treasure of his heart—his pride, his malice, his envy, his deceit—flow forth from his tongue. His heart is the black fountain of sin; his words are only the streams. We must be born again before we can utter words acceptable to God.

At the last day our words will be produced as the evidence of our state before God. It is true that many have said, "Lord, Lord," who have not loved God; but will their words be considered proofs of love? By no means; words insincerely spoken will be regarded as crimes. Those who said what they did not feel, whether to God or man, will be pronounced liars, and we know that liars shall have their part in the lake that burns with fire and brimstone. It is only good words that have proceeded from our hearts that will then justify us, or show that we were born again and washed in Christ's blood. If, then, we feel that we are not fit to stand this test, let us entreat God to bestow new hearts upon us. Then our common discourse will be tinctured with the love of God. Just as an affectionate parent is often speaking of his children, because he is always thinking of them; so, when we love God, we shall be disposed to be often speaking of his power, and wisdom, and goodness, because we shall be often thinking of them. The daily duties of life will not interfere with our thoughts of God, any more than they prevent a loving mother thinking of her children. Everything will remind us of our God. The beauties of creation, and the events of Providence, will lead us to think and to speak of Him; for in everything we shall see his hand. What the world calls "good luck," we shall call "great mercy;" and what the world speaks of as unfortunate accidents, we shall own to be "loving corrections." But most of all shall we differ from the world in our expressions concerning the Son of God and his believing people. That Savior we shall call "precious," his people "happy." It is true, those living in a Christian land seldom dare speak openly against Christ, but they show their real feelings by the contemptuous names they bestow on his most devoted servants. Their contemptuous words are noticed and noted down by God in his book, and shall be produced against them another day to their everlasting shame. "By their words they shall be condemned."

Title: He refuses to give a sign to the Pharisees
Post by: nChrist on April 02, 2008, 02:13:42 PM
Devotional Commentary On The Gospels
by Favell Lee Mortimer ( 1802 - 1878 )

April 5

He refuses to give a sign to the Pharisees

It was not with a sincere desire to be convinced of the truth that the Pharisees wished for a sign. They had already witnessed so many miracles that they could not avoid knowing that Jesus was the Son of God. This was their great sin, that when they knew the truth they would not confess it. As our Savior afterwards said, (in Joh_15:24,) "If I had not done among them the works that no other man did, they had not had sin—but now they have both seen and hated both me and my Father."

The Pharisees were determined not to believe in Jesus. Whatever miracles he might perform, whatever signs he might show, they had made up their minds already; they would not believe on him themselves, nor let others believe on him. It is evident that this was their state of mind from their conversation when together. (See Joh_11:47-48.) "Then gathered the chief priests and the Pharisees a council, and said, What do we? for this man does many miracles. If we let him thus alone, all men will believe on him, and the Romans shall come and take away both our place and nation." Did not these words betray a dreadful state of mind? It was worse than unbelieving; it was malicious. It is in this spirit that Satan himself opposes the kingdom of God.

And what was this sign from heaven for which the Pharisees asked? Probably it was one of those displays of glory that God once made on Mount Sinai, when He spoke from the midst of the fire, surrounded by clouds and darkness, thunderings and lightnings. Christ could easily have manifested his glory in the same manner, and he will do so when he comes again to judge the world. But he refused to grant the Pharisees' arrogant demand, and told them that they should have no other sign than the sign of the prophet Jonas. And what was that sign? It was his own resurrection; for Jonah's burial in the midst of the whale was a type of his burial in the heart of the earth; and Jonah's escape through the mouth of the fish, was a type of his bursting the barriers of the tomb.

It may surprise us to know that Jesus would be three days and three nights in his grave, seeing he only lay there from Friday evening to Sunday morning. But the Jews had a peculiar way of reckoning time—they considered a day and night as one period, and they counted a part of this period, as if it were the whole. Therefore, as Jesus was part of three days in the grave, he was there three days and three nights, according to the Jewish mode of speaking.

The Savior well knew that the Pharisees would not acknowledge him to be the Son of God, even when he rose from the dead; and so it proved; for when he did rise, and when the history of his resurrection was repeated to the chief priests and elders, how did they act? They bribed the soldiers who had guarded the tomb to deny the fact, and to say that the disciples had stolen his body away while they slept.

Well, therefore, might Jesus contrast the men of Nineveh with the Pharisees. The Ninevites repented when Jonah declared that in forty days their city should be destroyed. It is remarkable that in forty years from the time of our Savior's resurrection, Jerusalem was destroyed, because the Jews repented not. The Pharisees despised the Ninevites on account of their being Gentiles, yet these Gentiles were far better than themselves.

The Lord then brought forward an instance of another Gentile who acted in an opposite manner from the Pharisees—it was the queen of Sheba, who came from a distant country to receive instruction from Solomon. There have been heathens in later days who have resembled this ancient sovereign in her desire to obtain heavenly wisdom. Some years ago, two natives of Ceylon left their spicy isle, and came to dwell for awhile in our cold climate, that they might learn the gospel of the blessed God. When they were about to return home, a friend presented to them a magnificent mirror, but they refused to accept it. They said to their venerable teacher, Dr. Adam Clarke, "Tell our friend we cannot accept the mirror. We will take nothing home with us but the Bible you gave us and the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ. To learn that gospel we crossed the ocean, and with it alone will we cross it again."

How unlike these unselfish Cingalese are those who for worldly reasons forsake the preaching of the truth! Whatever may be the advantages for which they give up that joyful sound, they make a poor exchange. Happy are those who can say with David, "One thing have I desired of the Lord, that will I seek after, that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life to behold the beauty of the Lord, and to inquire in his temple." (Psa_27:4.)

Title: The parable of the unclean spirit
Post by: nChrist on April 06, 2008, 02:55:51 PM
Devotional Commentary On The Gospels
by Favell Lee Mortimer ( 1802 - 1878 )

April 6

The parable of the unclean spirit
Matthew 12:43-45

It was in this alarming manner that our Savior concluded his rebukes to the wicked Pharisees. We can scarcely call this short history a parable, because it appears to be a literal account of an event that has taken place. Still it is a parable, because it is partly figurative — the heart of a man is likened to a house. And is it really true that unclean spirits make the hearts of men their habitation? How can we doubt what our Savior has so plainly declared?

Sometimes an evil spirit forsakes his habitation. This devil having left his house, traveled far through dry, or desert places, but found no rest. It seems probable that in the course of his wanderings he found no opportunity of injuring souls. Our enemy, we know, walks about seeking whom he may devour. Sometimes there is a restraint laid upon him, and he cannot perpetrate the evil that he desires; for he can do nothing without the permission of God. Perhaps this devil had left the man, hoping to make new conquests, and to increase the number of his victims; but when disappointed, he thinks of returning to his old abode. He says, "I will return unto my house, whence I came out." He claims the heart as his own property; he says, "My house." He returns and finds no obstacle to regaining possession of the soul he once inhabited. The house is not the less acceptable to him, because it is swept and garnished, or adorned. Nothing pleases Satan more than a show of piety in a wicked heart. The unclean spirit is not satisfied to dwell alone, but finds seven of his fellows to share his spoil. He selects some more wicked than himself, as his associates. There are degrees of wickedness even among devils, and no doubt pre-eminence in wickedness is their glory. It had been better for this miserable man, if the first inhabitant of his heart had never left it. But O! how infinitely better would it have been for him, if, when the devil had left him, he had opened his heart to the gracious Savior! Jesus is willing to come whenever he is invited; often he stands and knocks, and no man opens the door, and at length he withdraws, no more to return. Then the wretched soul must become the prey of demons. Even as a house forsaken by man soon becomes the habitation of beasts and birds, so does the heart, when Jesus is absent, become the habitation of the spirits of hell.

The greater part of the Pharisees did not profit from the warning Jesus gave them; they grew more and more wicked; they crucified the Lord of glory, and persecuted his apostles. But let us profit from it, and never count ourselves safe, except Jesus reign in our hearts. Saul, the King of Israel, appears to have been such a man as our Savior described in this parable. The evil spirit that once tormented him, departed for a season, but soon returned and rendered him more wicked than before. All the evening of his days was spent in malicious persecutions of the innocent David, until he filled up the measure of his iniquity by consulting the witch of Endor.

Real conversion of the heart is the only preservative from Satan's malice. True believers alone are secure. There are evil days, days of peculiar temptation that come upon them, but neither seven wicked spirits, nor seventy times seven, can harm the heart fortified by the towers and bulwarks of faith. It is written, "He who is begotten of God keeps himself, and that wicked one touches him not," (1 John 5:18.) And how does he keep himself? He remembers his Lord's command, "Watch and pray, that you enter not into temptation."

Title: He describes who are his mother and his brethren
Post by: nChrist on April 06, 2008, 02:57:52 PM
Devotional Commentary On The Gospels
by Favell Lee Mortimer ( 1802 - 1878 )

April 7

He describes who are his mother and his brethren
Matthew 12:46-50

Such were the gentle words which our Savior added to a discourse containing many severe reproofs and dreadful warnings. The former discourse, recorded in Matthew 11, also ended with sweet encouragement — "Come unto me, all you that are weary and heavy laden." But the passage we have just read is still more condescending! Who can value enough the honor of being mother, brother, and sister of the Lord of heaven and earth! How wonderful it is that sinners like ourselves should be raised to the enjoyment of such a privilege!

What was the occasion on which the Savior uttered the blessing to which we have just alluded? His mother and brethren desired to speak with him, but were unable to approach on account of the crowd that surrounded him. By the term "brethren," we must understand not only those whom we call brethren, but also more distant relations. It is probable that they wished from motives of affection to interrupt his labors, which appeared too severe for his strength. Why would not Jesus comply with their request? Because he saw multitudes of precious souls thronging around him, eager to hear the words of eternal life. Instead of admitting his relations immediately to his presence, he pronounced a blessing on his own disciples; saying, "Behold my mother and my brethren."

We must not suppose that he felt no regard for his mother, or for any of his relations, for we know that he bore to his mother such affection, that when hanging on the cross, he commended her with his expiring breath to the care of his beloved disciple. But by this expression, "Who is my mother? and who are my brethren?" he taught us, that those united to him in spirit are nearer to him than those related to him in the flesh. His mother, indeed, was spiritually connected with him, for she was a true believer. Before the birth of her divine Son, she said, "My spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior;" therefore he loved her both as his mother, and as his own redeemed. But he did not love her alone; he loved all those who did the will of his Father in heaven.

It was to do his Father's will that he came down from heaven; as he said, "I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me;" (John 6:38;) and he always did it perfectly. On one occasion he declared, "I have kept my Father's commandments, and abide in his love." How different is the state of the world! Every one by nature does his own will. Children soon betray their evil nature by striving to do their own, and not their parents' will. When they grow older, and hear the commandments of God, naturally they show no inclination to obey.

As soon as a person is converted, he begins to desire to do God's will. The 119th Psalm shows us how earnestly David sought to please his heavenly Father — "O that my ways were directed to keep your statutes," (verse 5.) "Behold I have longed after your precepts; quicken me in your righteousness," (verse 40.) But why did David utter these prayers? Because he felt that he could not of himself do God's will; therefore he prayed for grace from on high.

The holy apostle Paul could say, "I delight in the law of God after the inward man." Yet the sin of his nature troubled him. He said, "I see a law in my members, warring against the law of my mind." All the children of God endure the same inward struggles that Paul and David endured. Each of them can say,

"Though I fail, I weep;
Though I halt in pace,
Yet I creep
To the throne of grace."

But though they do not keep the Father's commandments perfectly, as Jesus did, they are comforted by knowing that He loves them.

It must have been delightful to hear him say on earth, "Behold my mother and my brethren!" How endearing was his attitude when he stretched forth his hands, to point out the objects of his love! The day will come when he will enclose his redeemed family in his everlasting arms, and declare, "Behold my mother and my brethren."

Title: Christ relates the parable of the sower, and explains why he spoke in parables
Post by: nChrist on April 06, 2008, 02:59:22 PM
Devotional Commentary On The Gospels
by Favell Lee Mortimer ( 1802 - 1878 )

April 8

Christ relates the parable of the sower, and explains why he spoke in parables
Matthew 13:1-18

We have much reason to rejoice that our blessed Savior explained the parable of the Sower; for had he not done so, many different opinions respecting its meaning would have been held, but now the signification is fixed and certain. We will, however, defer the consideration of it until we read our Lord's explanation.

After Jesus had finished his public discourse, he conversed privately with his disciples. In this conversation he declared some truths which have been much objected to by the world. His disciples inquired why he spoke in parables. In his reply, their Master unfolded some of the secrets of his Father's government. Can anything be so interesting as the ways of God towards man! In this passage some light is shed upon them.

Jesus said to his disciples, "Unto you it is given to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it is not given." We learn from this declaration that heavenly knowledge is the gift of God. All men by nature are without the knowledge of their Maker, as it is written, "There is none that understands; there is none that seeks after God." When Adam sinned, he lost the knowledge of his God, and all his children are born in this state of ignorance. They are not only ignorant of God — they have no desire to know him. There are many things of which we may be ignorant, yet which we should much like to learn. If a man well skilled in some useful are were to offer to teach gratuitously all who wished to learn, many would flock around him and become his scholars — for we naturally desire to learn useful arts. But though God offers to teach all who are willing to be instructed, very few come to him and say, "Teach me to do your will." Nor would any come and make this prayer, unless God first, by his Holy Spirit, put the desire into the heart. When this desire is felt, then the prayer is made, and the longing soul is taught. This is what Jesus meant when he said, "Whoever has, to him shall be given, and he shall have more abundance." There is an interesting account contained in a tract called "Jejana," of a little Hottentot girl who earnestly desired to know God. A black man, who knew but little himself, directed her to make this prayer, "Lord, help me; Lord, teach me." This prayer she often uttered when she knelt alone in some thicket. Such was her simplicity, that she added, "For David says you will." The pious black man's name was David. And did God fulfill his promise to this poor child? Assuredly he did. She became known to a faithful missionary, who took her into his service, and fully instructed her in the gospel of Christ.

Such is God's goodness towards those who desire to know him. The Pharisees, far from having this desire, were determined to reject the warnings of the Savior; therefore God gave them up to the blindness and deafness that they loved. Every warning they rejected closed their eyes in deeper night.

How dreadful was their condition! But all are in danger of falling into it, who are not obeying the gospel call. Those who hear the Bible read from day to day — who listen to the preacher's earnest entreaties from Sabbath to Sabbath — and who yet make no effort to go to Christ, are becoming more hardened and more difficult to be converted. How blessed might our eyes be, for round us the true light shines! Yet how doubly cursed will these eyes be, if we wilfully close them against that light.

Title: The explanation of the former part of the parable of the sower
Post by: nChrist on April 06, 2008, 03:00:56 PM
Devotional Commentary On The Gospels
by Favell Lee Mortimer ( 1802 - 1878 )

April 9

The explanation of the former part of the parable of the sower
Matthew 13:18-21

There is one circumstance which renders this parable peculiarly interesting. It describes the characters of all people who hear the gospel; therefore it must describe ours. Let us endeavor to discover by the help of God to which class we belong.

First — there are the wayside hearers — these seem to be careless people, whose minds are so trifling that though they hear the words of the preacher, they do not reflect upon their meaning. We know that the seed represents the word of God, whether spoken by faithful ministers and parents, or instructors or friends, or in whatever way conveyed to the mind. But though the seed is good, it does not spring up in every heart. Why does it not? Because every heart is not prepared to receive it. As a beaten path is a soil not prepared to receive seed, so a heart full of trifling thoughts is not prepared to receive the gospel. Such a heart finds religious instruction a weariness, and rejoices when the sermon is over, and the chapter is finished.

It is to be feared that every congregation contains many of these careless hearers, who hear the sermons with little interest; but even on the wayside, a seed might occasionally spring up, were it not for the passers by who tread it down, and for the birds who pick it up.

How can we calculate upon the amount of good that is prevented by those spirits that throng the air! They are all marshaled under one experienced commander, even that old serpent who tempted our first parents. Satan knows how to choose the most favorable opportunities for exerting his power. It is after faithful sermons have been preached that his hosts are on the alert to efface any impression that may have been made. The people who lie most exposed to his attacks are the inconsiderate, who have offered up no prayers for a blessing on the instructions they have received. What havoc is made every Sabbath night and every Monday morning in the paths where the faithful preacher was seen sowing just before! If Satan found people endeavoring to fix the sermon in their hearts by prayer and meditation, he would not have such great success. But is it surprising that he succeeds, when he finds so many who neglect secret prayer!

The next class of hearers appear at first sight more hopeful than the wayside hearers. The seed sometimes falls on stony ground, where there is a little light, though dry earth; it soon springs up, but is soon withered by the heat of the sun.

The stony ground hearers receive the word with joy. When they hear the gospel, they attend, they remember, they are delighted, they determine to be Christians; they begin to do many things that are right, but when they find difficulties in their way they change their minds, and become as worldly as before. What is the reason of this? It is that their hearts were never softened by the Holy Spirit. They never were convinced of sin, they never repented. Repentance is the beginning of religion. Our Savior's first sermon was, "Repent." If we think we can be Christians without repentance we are mistaken. We must be brought to see what ungrateful creatures we have been to our best Friend. We must be led to mourn over such ingratitude, and to entreat for pardon and grace. Paul sat three days after his conversion fasting, before Ananias came and said, "Arise and be baptized, and wash away your sins." Christians may feel different degrees of grief; but they all grieve. Those who have felt no godly sorrow will easily be induced to return to the world; they will never consent to make any great sacrifice for Christ's sake. They cannot resolve to give up a brilliant prospect, or to lose an advantageous situation, or to forfeit the favor of honorable people. No! they will sooner give up their religious profession, lose their hopes of heaven, and forfeit the favor of the glorious God.

Title: The explanation of the latter part of the parable of the sower
Post by: nChrist on April 06, 2008, 03:02:51 PM
Devotional Commentary On The Gospels
by Favell Lee Mortimer ( 1802 - 1878 )

April 10

The explanation of the latter part of the parable of the sower
Matthew 13:22-23

Let us now consider the two latter kind of hearers which our Savior has described.

One is the thorny ground hearer — the soil of his heart is not so dry and barren as that of the stony ground hearer. The word sinks into it, and springs up, and blossoms, and buds, and produces fruit; but, alas! not good fruit. What is the reason of this failure? Thorns have grown up with the good seed, and have injured the heavenly plants. The thorns may have appeared very small and insignificant when first the seed was sown, but they increased in strength, and at length destroyed the hopes of the husbandman.

We cannot be at a loss to discover what the thorns represent; for our Lord distinctly declared them to be cares, riches, pleasures, and the lusts of other things. There are some people, who, when they hear the word, are arrested, touched, convinced, persuaded. They acknowledge they are sinners, they see Christ is the only Savior; they feel the value of their souls, and they desire to lead a religious life. But their affections are drawn off from God by worldly things. The stony ground hearers were induced to abandon their profession through fear of persecution; the thorny ground hearers, while they continue to make a profession of religion, are enslaved by the love of the world. They attempt to serve God and mammon. What must be the result of such an attempt? Destruction. "For if any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him."

The world wears many different forms, and tries to win us under various disguises. According to our age, our dispositions, and our circumstances will be our temptations. Pleasure allures the young, and care entangles the old — reputation is the desire of one, ease is preferred by another; but each of these is a thorn, and will prevent the good seed flourishing in the heart. What then can we do to avoid making a fruitless profession? We must apply to God to take the thorns out of our hearts; we cannot do it ourselves, but God is willing to do it for us. He can quench every inordinate desire, he can overthrow every earthly idol; he can come with sovereign power, and reign in our hearts.

No heart by nature is an honest and good heart. "There is none that understands and that seeks after God." Every heart of nature is like the wayside, the stony ground or the thorny ground. God alone can prepare sinners to receive his word. He can plough up the wayside, can take away the stones, and can pluck out the thorns.

There is a gracious promise in the Scriptures that He desires us to remember — "I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you a heart of flesh." Let us plead this promise in prayer. There is abundance of good seed scattered all over this land — thousands of Bibles, and millions of tracts. Why are not more souls converted? The hearts of men are unprepared.

Has God graciously prepared our hearts? Have we received the word, and brought forth fruit? If it be so with regard to any of us, to Him be all the praise who softened our hard hearts. Perhaps we can remember the time when sermons made no impression upon us, when holy counsels were disregarded, and even a mother's entreaties despised. And how did God prepare our hearts? Did He make us eat the bitter fruits of our works, until, like the prodigal, we said, "I will arise and go unto my Father?" Or did He subdue us in a sudden manner, as He did Paul, when He stopped him in the midst of his wicked career, ploughing up his heart by the Spirit, as the seed was cast in, "Saul, Saul, why persecute you me?" Or did He lead us by gentle and gradual methods to seek his face, watering the ridges of our hearts, settling the furrows, making it soft with showers, and then blessing the springing of His word? (Psalms 65.)

Title: The parable of the wheat and tares, with the explanation in Mat_13:36-43
Post by: nChrist on April 12, 2008, 06:19:37 PM
Devotional Commentary On The Gospels
by Favell Lee Mortimer ( 1802 - 1878 )

April 11

The parable of the wheat and tares, with the explanation contained in Mat_13:36-43

The parable of the wheat and tares in some respects resembles that of the Sower of the seed, but it differs from it in this respect. In the parable of the Sower we heard only of good seed; here we read also of bad seed. While Christ, by his faithful ministers, sows good seed, or the pure gospel, the devil by his servants sows bad seed, or false doctrines.

The good seed, where it takes root and prospers, produces the children of the kingdom, or true believers, while bad seed produces hypocrites, formalists, heretics, and other wicked characters, who are the children of the devil. We here behold the great danger to which we lie exposed, of having bad seed sown in our hearts. If we receive not the gospel, we shall receive some false doctrine. We all must have some kind of religion, and if we do not receive the truth in the love of it, we shall cling to our own foolish imaginations, or to some errors that we have heard; and shall flatter ourselves with the hope of reaching heaven by some other way than the Scriptures have revealed.

The bad seed is sown cunningly by the great enemy. Often he employs people who appear religious to sow it; so that the hearers are deceived, and fancy that they are receiving good seed. But no seed is good but the doctrine of Scripture. How carefully we ought to study the Scriptures! reading them daily, endeavoring to understand their meaning, asking the help of pious people; above all, upon our knees entreating to be taught of God. We ought to believe no doctrine that cannot be clearly proved from the Scriptures; for, if it cannot be found there, it must be bad seed.

We see also from this parable, that the wheat and tares often resemble each other so much, that it is difficult to distinguish between them. For why did the lord of the field forbid his servants to pull up the tares? It was for fear lest they should mistake, and pull up wheat instead of tares. The servants represent ministers; they cannot always distinguish between true and false believers. It is God alone who knows the heart; he knows them that are his, and he alone knows it with certainty. The disciples did not know that Judas was a devil; but Jesus knew it from the beginning. When Saul of Tarsus was first converted, the disciples at Jerusalem did not know that he was sincere, and were for some time afraid to receive him. We should not therefore be too much delighted with the approbation of our fellow-Christians, nor too much disturbed by their suspicions. We should come to God, and entreat him to examine our hearts. Like David, each should say, "Search me, and try me, and see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting."

But though true and false believers may appear so much alike in this world, the hour will arrive when their true characters will be made known. There is really the greatest difference between the character of the weakest child of God and the most plausible hypocrite. The hypocrite may appear even better than the child of God; but there is a difference in their hearts, which will cause them to be separated from each other to all eternity. God will give his angels wisdom to discern between the righteous and the wicked — they will separate many who have partaken of the same ordinances and lived in the same family.

The wicked shall be bound in bundles. Perhaps this expression is intended to show how they will add to each other's misery by mutual reproaches. The righteous will shine forth as the sun without one spot of sin to darken their brightness. It has been well said that three things will surprise us, if we enter heaven — first, to see so many there whom we did not expect to see; secondly, to miss so many whom we did expect to see; and thirdly, to find ourselves there; yes, ourselves, we who are so unworthy — lifted up from the dust, and exalted to a throne. O! may this surprise be ours! for there is another surprise that awaits many seeming Christians, who will confidently cry out, "Lord, Lord, open to us." Now, therefore, let us judge ourselves, that we may not be condemned with the world.

Title: Jesus encourages his disciples to communicate the word
Post by: nChrist on April 12, 2008, 06:21:37 PM
Devotional Commentary On The Gospels
by Favell Lee Mortimer ( 1802 - 1878 )

April 12

Jesus encourages his disciples to communicate the word

This is part of a private conversation between our Lord and his apostles. If our minds were in a right state, how much more deeply should we be interested in such scenes than in the worldly trifles that surround us.

What did our Savior say in these confidential moments? He compared his disciples to a candle which he had lighted by his instructions, and was going to make burn still brighter by his explanation of the parables he had related in public. For what purpose did he give them light? that they might conceal it? No! but that they might set it upon a candlestick, and in public proclaim their Lord's secret communications. Jesus said, "There is nothing hidden which shall not be manifested." He hid many holy truths under parables, but these truths were to be made manifest by the apostles' preaching. This command was fulfilled after his ascension. Then the apostles could say, that their sound had gone forth to the ends of the world. Then was fulfilled the prophecy, "How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him that brings good tidings." We hear these glorious secrets — they are contained in the epistles, where the secret counsel of God is revealed. Do we attend to these things? Do we look into them, as the angels do? or are we indifferent? Have we need of the rousing command of our Savior? "If any man have ears to hear, let him hear."

The Lord encouraged his disciples to preach the truth, saying, "With what measure you mete, it shall be measured to you again." If they meted out, or gave the truth which they had received, abundantly to others, they should themselves receive abundantly from Christ, spiritual blessings. And so it is now — "He who waters others, shall be watered also himself." In trying to do good to others, we gain a blessing on our own souls.

Our Savior then related a short parable to encourage his disciples still more to sow the seed of the word. He spoke of a man who sowed seed, and who slept and rose night and day; that is, who, after sowing the seed, went about his usual business, sleeping at night and rising in the day; and who, after some time, found the seed had sprung up, but not by his own power, for he could not even tell how it had sprung up. God, who had made it spring up, made it grow also without his assistance, until it was ripe and fit to be cut down.

Thus a minister, after sowing the seed of the word, is obliged to leave the success with God; for he cannot make it spring up in the heart, neither can he even understand how souls are converted; for the manner in which men are born of the Spirit is even a greater mystery than the way in which the seed is quickened in the earth. Yet the hearts of ministers are often rejoiced by seeing the effects of the words they have spoken. Sometimes, however, the seed they sowed does not spring up until after their death; nevertheless, at the harvest of the last day, souls who heard their words shall be their crown and rejoicing. Now is the time to sow, though in tears, knowing we shall reap in joy.

Let all who know the word seek to sow it also, though it be only in the heart of a little child; for sowers on earth shall certainly be reapers in heaven. But let us remember that the seed sown does not come to perfection immediately — first, the blade appears, then the ear, at last the full corn in the ear. We must, therefore, be patient with young converts. If we ourselves know anything of Christ now, do we not feel that we have been grown very slowly?

It is refreshing to behold a Christian who is like full corn in the ear. Perhaps we have had the privilege of seeing such a person. It may be some poor destitute creature, lodging in a garret, has breathed a spirit that we longed to imbibe, and we have felt, while listening to her heavenly words, "It is good to be here." Do we desire to grow in grace? It is a good desire. The Lord will answer prayer, and give us more faith and love, and every heavenly grace, and then treasure us up in his eternal garner.

Title: Parables of the mustard-seed and of the leaven
Post by: nChrist on April 12, 2008, 06:23:08 PM
Devotional Commentary On The Gospels
by Favell Lee Mortimer ( 1802 - 1878 )

April 13

Parables of the mustard-seed and of the leaven

We will now consider several short parables that our Savior related, but of which he gave no interpretation; still we may endeavor from other parts of Scripture to discover their meaning. The seed of the mustard-tree is smaller in proportion to the size of the tree it produces, than any other seed. In eastern countries the mustard-tree has immense spreading branches, which afford a fit shelter for the birds.

The religion of Christ was very small in its beginning. Behold the stable in Bethlehem, and that weak babe sleeping in the manger. From him shall spring a multitude that no man can number, of glorious saints, who throughout eternity shall surround the throne of God. These his spiritual children shall exceed the stars in multitude. Already how wonderfully has the Christian religion spread! though preached at first by twelve poor unlearned men — the kings of many nations profess to believe in it. It shall spread yet further, until men shall not merely profess the name of Christ, but until all shall praise him with sincere lips — until all shall know the Lord from the greatest unto the least.

The next parable, of the leaven that leavened by degrees a large quantity of meal, much resembles the parable of the mustard-tree, and it has been generally supposed to have nearly the same meaning. There is one great difference between the parables; the growth of the mustard-tree is open; the effects of the leaven in the meal are secret. Some people have thought that while the growth of the mustard-tree represents the progress of the gospel in the world, the leavening of the meal shows its influence in the heart. The leaven is generally considered to signify the word of God, which works gradually and silently in the heart, as leaven works in meal.

But a learned writer, Rev. Alfred Jenour, has lately suggested, that as leaven is used in other places to represent wickedness, it may represent it here also. Paul says, in his epistle to the Corinthians, "Purge out therefore the old leaven, that you may be a new lump." (1Co_5:7.) And Christ once said to his disciples, "Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees;" by which he meant their false doctrine. (Mat_16:12.) If leaven represents wickedness in this parable, then we learn from it how artfully Satan corrupts the pure religion of Christ; just as he sows tares among the wheat, so he mixes falsehood with truth.

By relating parables, our Lord fulfilled the prophecy of the seventy-eighth Psalm — "I will open my mouth in a parable; I will utter dark sayings of old." If we refer to that psalm, we shall find that it contains a history of the deliverance of the Israelites from Egypt, and of their passing through the wilderness. Was this history a parable? Yes, it was a parable, or dark saying, for all that happened to Israel had a hidden meaning. The apostle Paul, speaking of the afflictions of Israel, declares — "All these things happened to them for examples; and they are written for our admonition upon whom the ends of the world are come." (1Co_10:11.) There is one event especially that took place in the wilderness, which is full of the richest instruction. That event is the lifting up of the bronze serpent. Few, perhaps, understood at the time what it signified. But we see in that serpent the image of Jesus in the likeness of sinful flesh, crucified for our iniquities.

The Bible is full of dark sayings like this. Men naturally love mysteries and wonders. Why do they not love the Bible? Why does it lie neglected, while many foolish and hurtful books are eagerly devoured? Because men love sin, and the Bible speaks against it. Therefore Paul exhorts us to lay aside all malice, and deceit, and hypocrisies, and envies, and evil speakings, that as new-born babes we may desire the sincere milk of the word. We cannot relish the Bible while we delight in sin.

Title: The parables of the hidden treasure and of the pearls
Post by: nChrist on April 12, 2008, 06:24:28 PM
Devotional Commentary On The Gospels
by Favell Lee Mortimer ( 1802 - 1878 )

April 14

The parables of the hidden treasure and of the pearls

We should be much astonished if a man were to show such eagerness to possess a common field, that he was willing to give any price for it. But if we afterwards found that he had discovered in it a mine of precious ore, we should not be surprised at his anxiety to obtain the field, even at a very high price.

Now it is in like manner that the world wonders at the eagerness of the believer to secure heavenly blessings. They see no such attraction in religion as to account for his earnestness, and they are ready to consider him a fool and a madman. But they have not discovered the treasure which he has discovered. Not that he hides it from them, (as the man in the parable did,) but he cannot persuade them to believe his testimony. In vain he assures them that true joy is to be found in Christ alone; they reply that religion is full of gloom and restraint, and that it is only fit for the sick, or the sorrowful. The believer knows well that the favor of God is of infinite value; he buys the field, he secures the treasure, and rejoices in his possession. Now is the time when the field may be bought. That time will soon be past. Dreadful and endless will be the regrets of those who neglected the opportunity of laying hold on eternal life.

In the next parable, a man is represented seeking goodly pearls. By nature we all seek for happiness; but we can never find it, except in the knowledge of Christ; nor can we find it there, unless we are willing to renounce all sinful pleasures for his sake. Augustine, the African bishop, (who lived four hundred years after Christ,) endured many sharp struggles before he would consent to part with his sins. But at length the grace of God subdued his stubborn heart. He cast himself down before the Lord under a fig-tree, and prayed, saying, "How long, Lord, will you be angry? Forever? Remember not my old iniquities. How long shall I say — 'To-morrow?' Why should not this hour put an end to my slavery?" God, by whose Spirit this prayer was suggested, answered it and revealed Christ to Augustine's soul. Then this man, once so miserable, could say, "How sweet was it in a moment to be free from those delightful vanities, to love which had been my dread — to part with which — was now my joy! You did cast them out, O my true and highest delight — and then, O sweeter than all pleasure, entered in their room. How was my mind set free from the gnawing cares of sinful passions, and I conversed intimately with You, my Light, my Riches, my Savior, and my God." Surely this penitent sinner had now found the Pearl of great price. Can we say that Jesus is precious to our hearts? Upon a dying bed we should feel that none but He could comfort or save us — what should we do, if we had not found him then?

Title: The parable of the fishing-net
Post by: nChrist on April 12, 2008, 06:25:42 PM
Devotional Commentary On The Gospels
by Favell Lee Mortimer ( 1802 - 1878 )

April 15

The parable of the fishing-net

The parable of the net cast into the sea was calculated particularly to interest the disciples, many of whom were fishermen. They were accustomed, after the toils of the day, to sort the fish they had taken. This employment affords a lively image of the distinctions that will be made at the last day. The net represents the word of the Gospel, which is preached to many, and which many profess to believe. The disciples were shortly to begin the work of preaching it. Great success would accompany their endeavors; but yet that success would be attended by much disappointment. Many to whom they preached would prove hypocrites. Some of these would be detected in their lifetime, but others not until the judgment-day.

Unbelievers have urged, as an objection against the Christian religion, that hypocrites are found among professed believers! But this is rather a proof of its truth, than an objection. If no hypocrites existed, how could we account for our Savior's declaring that they would arise in the church?

A striking instance was afforded of the truth of our Lord's words in the history of seven missionaries who labored many years ago in Tahiti. Would you not have concluded that men who had sacrificed country and friends in order to instruct savages, must have been true Christians? But out of these seven two proved reprobates. The force of temptation brought their real character to light. Had they remained in their own country, it is possible that no temptation might have arisen strong enough to entice them into open sin; but surrounded by savages, they became immoral in their lives, and, it is to be feared, continued impenitent until death. What a lesson does this fact afford! Should it not lead us to examine ourselves, and to call upon God to search us and try us, lest we should deceive ourselves by a mere form of godliness? Such a deception can last but a short time. The great sorting day approaches; then angels will divide the good from the bad, the true believer from the empty professor.

When our Savior had concluded his parables, he asked his disciples whether they understood them; for he had not interpreted them ALL. They replied, Yes, Lord. Then he reminded them of the use they should make of the things they had learned; they should store them up in their minds, that they might have them ready upon every occasion; even as a master of a family provides all things necessary for different circumstances, and produces them when wanted. The teachers among the Jews were called Scribes. The disciples were to become teachers, and would need a great store of truths for the instruction of others. Some of these truths might be called "new" truths, because not known to them before, and some might be called "old" truths, because already familiar to their minds.

We ought to be storing up in our minds the things we have heard, gaining fresh knowledge of the Scriptures and deeper insight into their meaning. We cannot tell how soon we may need them for our own support in trial, or how useful we may find them in enlightening the ignorant, in strengthening the tempted, and in comforting the afflicted. It is very distressing when we see those we love sinking under trouble, to feel that we are not able to give them solid comfort. An affectionate child has sometimes beheld a parent groaning under a burden of woe, and has felt, "I know there are consolations that might assuage her grief, but I cannot impart them; for I have neglected the word of God." Then let us for the sake of others, as well as for ourselves, store our minds with the holy truths of God, that we may produce them when most needed.

Title: By Faith Abraham Obeyed
Post by: nChrist on April 20, 2008, 02:49:32 AM
Devotional Commentary On The Gospels
by Favell Lee Mortimer ( 1802 - 1878 )

April 16
By Faith Abraham Obeyed

"By faith Abraham, when he was called to go out into a place which he should after receive for an inheritance, obeyed" (Hebrews 11:8).

Whither he went, he knew not; it was enough for him to know that he went with God. He leant not so much upon the promises as upon the Promiser. He looked not on the difficulties of his lot, but on the King, eternal, immortal, invisible, the only wise God, who had deigned to appoint his course, and would certainly vindicate Himself. O glorious faith! This is thy work, these are thy possibilities; contentment to sail with sealed orders, because of unwavering confidence in the wisdom of the Lord High Admiral; willinghood to rise up, leave all, and follow Christ, because of the glad assurance that earth's best cannot bear comparison with Heaven's least.  -- F. B. M.

It is by no means enough to set out cheerfully with your God on any venture of faith. Tear into smallest pieces any itinerary for the journey which your imagination may have drawn up.

Nothing will fall out as you expect.

Your guide will keep to no beaten path. He will lead you by a way such as you never dreamed your eyes would look upon. He knows no fear, and He expects you to fear nothing while He is with you.

The day had gone; alone and weak
I groped my way within a bleak
And sunless land.
The path that led into the light
I could not find! In that dark
night God took my hand.

He led me that I might not stray,
And brought me by a new, safe way
I had not known.
By waters still, through pastures green
I followed Him -- the path was clean
Of briar and stone.

The heavy darkness lost its strength,
My waiting eyes beheld at length
The streaking dawn.
On, safely on, through sunrise glow
I walked, my hand in His, and lo,
The night had gone.

 -- Annie Porter Johnson

Title: Diamond in the Rough
Post by: nChrist on April 20, 2008, 02:51:29 AM
Devotional Commentary On The Gospels
by Favell Lee Mortimer ( 1802 - 1878 )

April 17
Diamond in the Rough

"The hand of the Lord hath wrought this" (Job 12:9).

Several years ago there was found in an African mine the most magnificent diamond in the world's history. It was presented to the King of England to blaze in his crown of state. The King sent it to Amsterdam to be cut. It was put into the hands of an expert lapidary. And what do you suppose he did with it?

He took the gem of priceless value, and cut a notch in it. Then he struck it a hard blow with his instrument, and lo! the superb jewel lay in his hand cleft in twain. What recklessness I what wastefulness! what criminal carelessness!

Not so. For days and weeks that blow had been studied and planned. Drawings and models had been made of the gem. Its quality, its defects, its lines of cleavage had all been studied with minutest care. The man to whom it was committed was one of the most skillful lapidaries in the world.

Do you say that blow was a mistake? Nay. It was the climax of the lapidary's skill. When he struck that blow, he did the one thing which would bring that gem to its most perfect shapeliness, radiance, and jewelled splendor. That blow which seemed to ruin the superb precious stone was, in fact, its perfect redemption. For, from those two halves were wrought the two magnificent gems which the skilled eye of the lapidary saw hidden in the rough, uncut stone as it came from the mine.

So, sometimes, God lets a stinging blow fall upon your life. The blood spurts. The nerves wince. The soul cries out in agony. The blow seems to you an appalling mistake. But it is not, for you are the most priceless jewel in the world to God. And He is the most skilled lapidary in the universe.

Some day you are to blaze in the diadem of the King. As you lie in His hand now He knows just how to deal with you. Not a blow will be permitted to fall upon your shrinking soul but that the love of God permits it, and works out from its depths, blessing and spiritual enrichment unseen, and unthought of by you.  -- J. H. McC.

In one of George MacDonald's books occurs this fragment of conversation: "I wonder why God made me," said Mrs. Faber bitterly. "I'm sure I don't know what was the use of making me!"

"Perhaps not much yet," said Dorothy, "but then He hasn't done with you yet. He is making you now, and you are quarrelling with the process."

If men would but believe that they are in process of creation, and consent to be made -- let the Maker handle them as the potter the clay, yielding themselves in resplendent motion and submissive, hopeful action with the turning of His wheel -- they would ere long find themselves able to welcome every pressure of that hand on them, even when it was felt in pain; and sometimes not only to believe but to recognize the Divine end in view, the bringing of a son unto glory.

"Not a single shaft can hit,
Till the God of love sees fit."

Title: Hindrance to Prayer
Post by: nChrist on April 20, 2008, 02:53:04 AM
Devotional Commentary On The Gospels
by Favell Lee Mortimer ( 1802 - 1878 )

April 18
Hindrance to Prayer

"And he shall bring it to pass" (Psalms 37:5).

I once thought that after I prayed that it was my duty to do everything that I could do to bring the answer to pass. He taught me a better way, and showed that my self-effort always hindered His working, and that when I prayed and definitely believed Him for anything, He wanted me to wait in the spirit of praise, and only do what He bade me. It seems so unsafe to just sit still, and do nothing but trust the Lord; and the temptation to take the battle into our own hands is often tremendous.

We all know how impossible it is to rescue a drowning man who tries to help his rescuer, and it is equally impossible for the Lord to fight our battles for us when we insist upon trying to fight them ourselves. It is not that He will not, but He cannot. Our interference hinders His working.  -- C.H.P.

Spiritual forces cannot work while earthly forces are active.

It takes God time to answer prayer. We often fail to give God a chance in this respect. It takes time for God to paint a rose. It takes time for God to grow an oak. It takes time for God to make bread from wheat fields. He takes the earth. He pulverizes. He softens. He enriches. He wets with showers and dews. He warms with life. He gives the blade, the stock, the amber grain, and then at last the bread for the hungry.

All this takes time. Therefore we sow, and till, and wait, and trust, until all God's purpose has been wrought out. We give God a chance in this matter of time. We need to learn this same lesson in our prayer life. It takes God time to answer prayer.  -- J. H. M.

Title: Stand Still
Post by: nChrist on April 20, 2008, 02:55:24 AM
Devotional Commentary On The Gospels
by Favell Lee Mortimer ( 1802 - 1878 )

April 19
Stand Still

"Stand still, and see the salvation of the Lord" (Exodus 14:13).

These words contain God's command to the believer when he is reduced to great straits and brought into extraordinary difficulties. He cannot retreat; he cannot go forward; he is shut upon the right hand and on the left. What is he now to do?

The Master's word to him is "stand still." It will be well for him if, at such times, he listens only to his Master's word, for other and evil advisers come with their suggestions. Despair whispers, "Lie down and die; give it all up." But God would have us put on a cheerful courage, and even in our worst times, rejoice in His love and faithfulness.

Cowardice says, "Retreat; go back to the worldling's way of action; you cannot play the Christian's part; it is too difficult. Relinquish your principles."

But, however much Satan may urge this course upon you, you cannot follow it, if you are a child of God. His Divine fiat has bid thee go from strength to strength, and so thou shalt, and neither death nor hell shall turn thee from thy course. What if for a while thou art called to stand still; yet this is but to renew thy strength for some greater advance in due time.

Precipitancy cries, "Do something; stir yourself; to stand still and wait is sheer idleness." We must be doing something at once -- we must do it, so we think -- instead of looking to the Lord, who will not only do something, but will do everything.

Presumption boasts, "If the sea be before you, march into it, and expect a miracle." But faith listens neither to Presumption, nor to Despair, nor to Cowardice, nor to Precipitancy, but it hears God say, "Stand still," and immovable as a rock it stands.

"Stand still" -- keep the posture of an upright man, ready for action, expecting further orders, cheerfully and patiently awaiting the directing voice; and it will not be long ere God shall say to you, as distinctly as Moses said it to the people of Israel, "Go forward.'  -- Spurgeon

"Be quiet! why this anxious heed
About thy tangled ways?
God knows them all. He giveth speed
And He allows delays.
'Tis good for thee to walk by faith
And not by sight.
Take it on trust a little while.
Soon shalt thou read the mystery aright
In the full sunshine of His smile."

In times of uncertainty, wait. Always, if you have any doubt, wait. Do not force yourself to any action. If you have a restraint in your spirit, wait until all is clear, and do not go against it.

Title: By Thy Spirit
Post by: nChrist on April 20, 2008, 02:57:25 AM
Devotional Commentary On The Gospels
by Favell Lee Mortimer ( 1802 - 1878 )

April 20
By Thy Spirit

"Not by might, nor by power, but by my spirit, saith Jehovah of hosts" (Zechariah 4:6).

My way led up a hill, and right at the foot I saw a boy on a bicycle. He was pedalling up hill against the wind, and evidently found it a tremendously hard work. Just as he was working most strenuously and doing his best painfully, there came a trolley car going in the same direction -- up the hill.

It was not going too fast for the boy to get behind it, and with one hand to lay hold of the bar at the back. Then you know what happened. He went up that hill like a bird. Then it flashed upon me:

"Why, I am like that boy on the bicycle in my weariness and weakness. I am pedalling up hill against all kinds of opposition, and am almost worn out with the task. But here at hand is a great available power, the strength of the Lord Jesus.

"I have only to get in touch with Him and to maintain communication with Him, though it may be only one little finger of faith, and that will be enough to make His power mine for the doing of this bit of service that just now seems too much for me." And I was helped to dismiss my weariness and to realize this truth.  -- The Life of Fuller Purpose


Utterly abandoned to the Holy Ghost!
Seeking all His fulness at whatever cost;
Cutting all the shore-lines, launching in the deep
Of His mighty power -- strong to save and keep.

Utterly abandoned to the Holy Ghost!
Oh! the sinking, sinking, until self is lost!
Until the emptied vessel lies broken at His feet;
Waiting till His filling shall make the work complete.

Utterly abandoned to the will of God;
Seeking for no other path than my Master trod;
Leaving ease and pleasure, making Him my choice,
Waiting for His guidance, listening for His voice.

Utterly abandoned! no will of my own;
For time and for eternity, His, and His alone;
All my plans and purposes lost in His sweet will,
Having nothing, yet in Him all things possessing still.

Utterly abandoned! 'tis so sweet to be
Captive in His bonds of love, yet so wondrous free;
Free from sin's entanglements, free from doubt and fear,
Free from every worry, burden, grief or care.

Utterly abandoned! oh, the rest is sweet,
As I tarry, waiting, at His blessed feet;
Waiting for the coming of the Guest divine,
Who my inmost being shall perfectly refine.

Lo! He comes and fills me, Holy Spirit sweet!
I, in Him, am satisfied! I, in Him, complete!
And the light within my soul shall nevermore grow dim
While I keep my covenant -- abandoned unto Him!

 -- Author Unknown

Title: Abundantly Able
Post by: nChrist on April 20, 2008, 02:59:47 AM
Devotional Commentary On The Gospels
by Favell Lee Mortimer ( 1802 - 1878 )

April 21
Abundantly Able

"And being absolutely certain that whatever promise He is bound by, He is able to make good" (Romans 4:20).

We are told that Abraham could look at his own body and consider it as good as dead without being discouraged, because he was not looking at himself but at the Almighty One.

He did not stagger at the promise, but stood straight up unbending beneath his mighty load of blessing; and instead of growing weak he waxed strong in the faith, grew more robust, the more difficulties became apparent, glorifying God through His very sufficiency and being "fully persuaded" (as the Greek expresses it) "that he who had promised was," not merely able, but as it literally means "abundantly able," munificently able, able with an infinite surplus of resources, infinitely able "to perform."

He is the God of boundless resources. The only limit is in us. Our asking, our thinking, our praying are too small; our expectations are too limited. He is trying to lift us up to a higher conception, and lure us on to a mightier expectation and appropriation. Oh, shall we put Him in derision? There is no limit to what we may ask and expect of our glorious El-Shaddai; and there is but one measure here given for His blessing, and that is "according to the power that worketh in us."  -- A. B. Simpson

"Climb to the treasure house of blessing on the ladder made of divine promises. By a promise as by a key open the door to the riches of God's grace and favor."

Title: God Knows
Post by: nChrist on April 20, 2008, 03:01:58 AM
Devotional Commentary On The Gospels
by Favell Lee Mortimer ( 1802 - 1878 )

April 22
God Knows

"He knoweth the way that I take" (Job 23:10).

Believer! What a glorious assurance! This way of thine -- this, it may be, a crooked, mysterious, tangled way -- this way of trial and tears. "He knoweth it." The furnace seven times heated -- He lighted it. There is an Almighty Guide knowing and directing our footsteps, whether it be to the bitter Marah pool, or to the joy and refreshment of Elim.

That way, dark to the Egyptians, has its pillar of cloud and fire for His own Israel. The furnace is hot; but not only can we trust the hand that kindles it, but we have the assurance that the fires are lighted not to consume, but to refine; and that when the refining process is completed (no sooner -- no later) He brings His people forth as gold.

When they think Him least near, He is often nearest. "When my spirit was overwhelmed, then thou knewest my path."

Do we know of ONE brighter than the brightest radiance of the visible sun, visiting our chamber with the first waking beam of the morning; an eye of infinite tenderness and compassion following us throughout the day, knowing the way that we take?

The world, in its cold vocabulary in the hour of adversity, speaks of "Providence" -- "the will of Providence" -- "the strokes of Providence." PROVIDENCE! what is that?

Why dethrone a living, directing God from the sovereignty of His own earth? Why substitute an inanimate, death-like abstraction, in place of an acting, controlling, personal Jehovah?

How it would take the sting from many a goading trial, to see what Job saw (in his hour of aggravated woe, when every earthly hope lay prostrate at his feet) -- no hand but the Divine. He saw that hand behind the gleaming swords of the Sabeans -- he saw it behind the lightning flash -- he saw it giving wings to the careening tempest -- he saw it in the awful silence of his rifled home.

"The Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord!"

Thus seeing God in everything, his faith reached its climax when this once powerful prince of the desert, seated on his bed of ashes, could say, "Though he slay me, yet will I trust him."  -- Macduff

Title: Thou Wilt Revive Me
Post by: nChrist on April 20, 2008, 03:03:33 AM
Devotional Commentary On The Gospels
by Favell Lee Mortimer ( 1802 - 1878 )

April 23
Thou Wilt Revive Me

"Though I walk in the midst of trouble, thou wilt revive me" (Psalms 138:7).

The Hebrew rendering of the above is "go on in the center of trouble." What descriptive words! We have called on God in the day of trouble; we have pleaded His promise of deliverance but no deliverance has been given; the enemy has continued oppressing until we were in the very thick of the fight, in the center of trouble. Why then trouble the Master any further?

When Martha said, "Lord, if thou hadst been here my brother had not died," our Lord met her lack of hope with His further promise, "Thy brother shall rise again." And when we walk "in the center of trouble" and are tempted to think like Martha that the time of deliverance is past, He meets us too with a promise from His Word. "Though I walk in the midst of trouble, thou wilt revive me."

Though His answer has so long delayed, though we may still continue to "go on" in the midst of trouble, "the center of trouble" is the place where He revives, not the place where He fails us.

When in the hopeless place, the continued hopeless place, is the very time when He will stretch forth His hand against the wrath of our enemies and perfect that which concerneth us, the very time when He will make the attack to cease and fail and come to an end. What occasion is there then for fainting?  -- Aphra White


"Fear not that the whirlwind shall carry thee hence,
Nor wait for its onslaught in breathless suspense,
Nor shrink from the whips of the terrible hail,
But pass through the edge to the heart of the gale,
For there is a shelter, sunlighted and warm,
And Faith sees her God through the eye of the storm.

"The passionate tempest with rush and wild roar
And threatenings of evil may beat on the shore,
The waves may be mountains, the fields battle plains,
And the earth be immersed in a deluge of rains,
Yet, the soul, stayed on God, may sing bravely its psalm,
For the heart of the storm is the center of calm.

"Let hope be not quenched in the blackness of night,
Though the cyclone awhile may have blotted the light,
For behind the great darkness the stars ever shine,
And the light of God's heavens, His love shall make thine,
Let no gloom dim thine eyes, but uplift them on high
To the face of thy God and the blue of His sky.

"The storm is thy shelter from danger and sin,
And God Himself takes thee for safety within;
The tempest with Him passeth into deep calm,
And the roar of the winds is the sound of a psalm.
Be glad and serene when the tempest clouds form;
God smiles on His child in the eye of the storm."

Title: Commit and Rest
Post by: nChrist on April 20, 2008, 03:05:13 AM
Devotional Commentary On The Gospels
by Favell Lee Mortimer ( 1802 - 1878 )

April 24
Commit and Rest

"Faith is...the evidence of things not seen" (Hebrews 11:1).

True faith drops its letter in the post office box, and lets it go. Distrust holds on to a corner of it, and wonders that the answer never comes. I have some letters in my desk that have been written for weeks, but there was some slight uncertainty about the address or the contents, so they are yet unmailed. They have not done either me or anybody else any good yet. They will never accomplish anything until I let them go out of my hands and trust them to the postman and the mail.

This the way with true faith. It hands its case over to God, and then He works. That is a fine verse in the Thirty-seventh Psalm: "Commit thy way unto the Lord, trust also in Him, and He worketh." But He never worketh till we commit. Faith is a receiving or still better, a taking of God's proffered gifts. We may believe, and come, and commit, and rest; but we will not fully realize all our blessing until we begin to receive and come into the attitude of abiding and taking.  -- Days of Heaven upon Earth

Dr. Payson, when a young man, wrote as follows, to an aged mother, burdened with intense anxiety on account of the condition of her son: "You give yourself too much trouble about him. After you have prayed for him, as you have done, and committed him to God, should you not cease to feel anxious respecting him? The command, 'Be careful for nothing,' is unlimited; and so is the expression, 'Casting all your care on him.' If we cast our burdens upon another, can they continue to press upon us? If we bring them away with us from the Throne of Grace, it is evident we do not leave them there. With respect to myself, I have made this one test of my prayers: if after committing anything to God, I can, like Hannah, come away and have my mind no more sad, my heart no more pained or anxious, I look upon it as one proof that I have prayed in faith; but, if I bring away my burden, I conclude that faith was not in exercise."

Title: Waiting For Resurrection
Post by: nChrist on April 20, 2008, 03:07:03 AM
Devotional Commentary On The Gospels
by Favell Lee Mortimer ( 1802 - 1878 )

April 25
Waiting For Resurrection

"And there was Mary Magdalene and the other Mary, sitting over against the sepulchre"
(Matthew 27:61).

How strangely stupid is grief. It neither learns nor knows nor wishes to learn or know. When the sorrowing sisters sat over against the door of God's sepulchre, did they see the two thousand years that have passed triumphing away? Did they see any thing but this: "Our Christ is gone!"

Your Christ and my Christ came from their loss; Myriad mourning hearts have had resurrection in the midst of their grief; and yet the sorrowing watchers looked at the seed-form of this result, and saw nothing. What they regarded as the end of life was the very preparation for coronation; for Christ was silent that He might live again in tenfold power.

They saw it not. They mourned, they wept, and went away, and came again, driven by their hearts to the sepulchre. Still it was a sepulchre, unprophetic, voiceless, lusterless.

So with us. Every man sits over against the sepulchre in his garden, in the first instance, and says, "This woe is irremediable. I see no benefit in it. I will take no comfort in it." And yet, right in our deepest and worst mishaps, often, our Christ is lying, waiting for resurrection.

Where our death seems to be, there our Saviour is. Where the end of hope is, there is the brightest beginning of fruition. Where the darkness is thickest, there the bright beaming light that never is set is about to emerge. When the whole experience is consummated, then we find that a garden is not disfigured by a sepulchre. Our joys are made better if there be sorrow in the midst of them. And our sorrows are made bright by the joys that God has planted around about them. The flowers may not be pleasing to us, they may not be such as we are fond of plucking, but they are heart-flowers, love, hope, faith, joy, peace -- these are flowers which are planted around about every grave that is sunk in the Christian heart.

"'Twas by a path of sorrows drear
Christ entered into rest;
And shall I look for roses here,
Or think that earth is blessed?
Heaven's whitest lilies blow
From earth's sharp crown of woe.
Who here his cross can meekly bear,
Shall wear the kingly purple there."

Title: He directs them with whom to abide during their journey
Post by: nChrist on April 28, 2008, 01:32:06 PM
Devotional Commentary On The Gospels
by Favell Lee Mortimer ( 1802 - 1878 )

April 26

He directs them with whom to abide during their journey


Before the twelve disciples set out on their journey, their Master gave them many directions respecting their conduct. He desired them to make no provision for their wants, to take no money in their purses or girdles, no food in their scrips or bags, and no new clothes to supply the place of the old when worn out. How then were they to be supported during their travels? Jesus appointed that the people to whom they preached should supply their wants; for "The workman," he said, "is worthy of his meat." Pious people would consider it a privilege to supply the wants of their teachers. The apostles, by accepting their gifts, would imitate the humility of their Master, who, though he could have turned stones into bread, and did turn water into wine, chose rather to accept the gifts of his pious followers. How many of God's most devoted servants in all ages have been placed in circumstances of dependence! But God has never forgotten his children when reduced to deep poverty. He has always put it into the hearts of some charitable people to help them in their need, or by some other means He has supplied their necessities.

It is recorded of an excellent minister, who lived nearly two hundred years ago, that once when obliged by persecution to leave his family, he set out without any money in his pocket, and not knowing where to go. He suffered his horse to take its own course, and towards evening he found himself at the door of a small farm-house. He requested the mistress to allow him to take shelter beneath her roof, but frankly told her he had no money with which to reward her hospitality. Both she and her husband kindly entertained him. In the course of conversation they inquired after a minister, named Oliver Heywood, whom, they had heard, was persecuted with great bitterness. After some time, the traveler acknowledged that he was the very person they spoke of. Great was the joy of his pious hosts. They called their neighbors in, requested their honored guest to speak to them from the word of God, and afterwards made a small collection to help him on his way.

In this manner God has often unexpectedly relieved his suffering servants. No doubt the apostles, during the course of their journey, experienced the same providential care.

But though the Lord promised to provide for their wants, he warned them against indulging a covetous disposition—"Freely you have received, freely give." He forbade their making a gain of their power to heal. They might easily have amassed large fortunes by their cures; but riches so acquired by ministers of his word would have been a curse.

Jesus directs his apostles to whom to go in each city—"To the most worthy." They were to make inquiries respecting the character of the inhabitants of each place they visited. Probably the neighbors would speak most highly of the most upright and benevolent inhabitants of the village. In general, it would be found that the person who bore the best character was also the most godly. What a blessing he would enjoy who would obtain the company of the apostles, and have the opportunity of hearing their instructions! It is considered an honor to entertain princes; but it is a far higher honor to receive the servants of God. When they have departed, the remembrance of their words, and of their spirit, leaves a holy fragrance on the mind. But sometimes the apostles would enter the door of an unworthy host, perhaps of some hypocritical Pharisee, who had succeeded in establishing a good reputation among men. Still they were to pronounce the blessing of peace upon the house. But that blessing would not descend upon an unworthy head. No! it would return into the bosom of those who uttered it. Thus we perceive, that if we are deceived in the characters of others, and bless those whom God has determined not to bless, yet still the blessing shall not be lost.

The Lord prepared his apostles to find some who would refuse to hear their message. It would be their duty solemnly to warn these despisers of the dreadful guilt they incurred. The sin of rejecting the gospel is far greater than any sin that the heathens can commit. Men may think that the idolater who leaves his aged parents to starve, or who cruelly slaughters the innocent children of his enemies, is the most wicked of the human race. But the Bible declares that the man who refuses to accept the merciful offers of the Son of God, is far worse than any of the heathen, and that he shall suffer the hottest wrath of his insulted Redeemer. Shall God speak, and man refuse to listen? Shall God stretch out his hands in merciful entreaty, and shall man turn away and despise the gracious invitation? How dreadful is the threatening denounced against such scorners. "I will also laugh at your calamity; I will mock when your fear comes." (Pro_1:26.)

Title: He prepares them for persecution
Post by: nChrist on April 28, 2008, 01:33:47 PM
Devotional Commentary On The Gospels
by Favell Lee Mortimer ( 1802 - 1878 )

April 27

He prepares them for persecution

Our Savior fully prepared his disciples for the treatment they would receive from the world. He compared ungodly men to wolves, and his apostles to sheep, He described the manner in which these wolves would treat his sheep—in thought, word, and deed. The thoughts of ungodly men towards the apostles would be thoughts of hatred. Jesus said, "You shall be hated of all men." (verse 22.)

The world has ever hated the children of God. There is nothing more painful to our feelings than the ill-will of our fellow-creatures. No abundance of possessions can make amends for hatred; while love can console in the midst of trials. Jesus therefore warned his disciples against being turned back from him by the hatred of the world, saying, "He who endures to the end (in spite of these trials) shall be saved."

The hatred men felt in their hearts would lead them to utter hateful words against the disciples of Jesus. They had called the Lord Jesus himself Beelzebub. Ought his disciples to expect better treatment? Was it not enough if the servant was not worse treated than his Lord?

Christians have always been slandered; they have been accused of hypocrisy, as well as of secret crimes. Jesus comforts his disciples under their accusations by this assurance in verse 26—"There is nothing covered that shall not be revealed; nor hidden, that shall not be known." Would it not comfort those who are falsely accused, to know that the day is coming when the truth would be made known? Such comfort all Christians possess, when slandered by their enemies.

Men would not only speak words against the disciples, but would commit cruel actions against them. They would imprison them and scourge them, and even cause them to be put to death. Yes, parents would turn against their own children, and persecute them in the most unnatural manner.

All these trials did not come upon the disciples during their first journey; but as Jesus knew they would come upon them after his ascension, he directed them how to behave under these trials. They were to do everything to avoid persecution, except concealing the truth. In their characters they were to resemble serpents and doves; serpents in caution and prudence, doves in gentleness and inoffensiveness—they were not to be malicious as serpents, or silly as doves, but wise as serpents, and harmless as doves. Yet notwithstanding all their endeavors, they would be persecuted for preaching the gospel.

One great advantage would arise from their being brought before kings and judges; they would have an opportunity of declaring the truth to those high personages; as Paul did to Felix, who trembled on his judgment-seat. Jesus bade his disciples take no thought what they should speak when examined by their judges. Though they could not foresee what perplexing questions would be put to them, they were not to be disturbed with the fear lest they should not be able to answer well; for God would assist them with his Spirit.

Peter and John were the first among the apostles who were brought before rulers for their Master's sake. It is written, that when Peter was called upon to defend his conduct in healing the lame man, he "was filled with the Holy Spirit." He spoke with such power, that his judges could make no reply. "When they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived they were unlearned and ignorant men, they marveled." (Act_4:13.)

In later days many poor uneducated men have been questioned by learned judges, and have been able to give answers which have quite confounded their enemies. In Foxe's Book of Martyrs, there are accounts of many such men who suffered death in this country, because they would not worship the Virgin Mary and the saints, or profess to believe Roman Catholic errors. And it has been remarked, that some of the least learned of the martyrs spoke with the greatest power; because they relied most simply upon the help of God, and appealed only to his Word.

Though we may never be called upon to stand before an earthly judgment-seat, yet we must be willing to confess our faith whenever an opportunity occurs. It is written in the first Epistle of Peter, "' Be ready always to give an answer to every man that asks you a reason of the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear." We may trust in God to teach us on such occasions how to reply. Let us lift up our hearts to Him before we speak, and our answer may be made the means of converting the unbelieving inquirer.

Title: Jesus encourages them to be faithful
Post by: nChrist on April 28, 2008, 01:35:56 PM
Devotional Commentary On The Gospels
by Favell Lee Mortimer ( 1802 - 1878 )

April 28

Jesus encourages them to be faithful

The Lord Jesus had declared that his disciples would be exposed to great sufferings through preaching the gospel—that they would be scourged, imprisoned, and even put to death. Would not this prospect be a great temptation to conceal the truth? Yes, it would; therefore Jesus taught them by commands, warnings, and promises, to preach the gospel openly.

First, he gave them a command. He said, "What I tell you in darkness, that speak you in light; what you hear in the ear, that preach you in the housetops." He had told his disciples many doctrines privately, that they were to preach publicly. How anxious Paul afterwards was that he might open his mouth boldly, and speak the gospel as he ought to speak it, concealing no part of the truth, however men might dislike to hear it!

Jesus not only gave a command, he added warnings, reminding his disciples that God was able to kill both their bodies and souls in hell; declaring that he would deny them before his Father, if they denied him before men; and asserting that "he who finds his life shall lose it;" that is, that he who saves his life by forsaking Christ, shall perish. But perhaps some may ask, "Did not Peter deny Christ? Will Christ deny him before his Father?" Assuredly not; for Peter repented of his sin, and obtained mercy, and no sin repented of and forgiven, shall be punished at the last day.

Christ also gave promises to his disciples to encourage them to preach his gospel. He told them that their hairs were all numbered, and that they themselves were of more value in God's sight than many sparrows. He did not promise that his disciples should be preserved from sufferings or from death by their heavenly Father; but he assured them that their trials were all appointed by a loving parent. The ungodly will sometimes say in trouble, "It is all for the best;" but it is not all for the best with those who do not desire to please God; sufferings only add to the guilt of those who do not repent of their sins. The children of God alone may feel assured that all that befalls them is for the best; sickness and health, riches and poverty, life and death, are all made to promote their everlasting welfare. "We know," says the apostle Paul, "that all things work together for good to them that love God." (Rom_8:28.)

Jesus prepared his disciples for occasioning a great deal of confusion by the preaching of the gospel. He said, "Do not think that I am come to send peace on earth." It was natural that the disciples should suppose that he came to send peace. Isaiah had called him the Prince of Peace. At his birth angels had sung, "Glory to God in the highest, on earth peace." He did, indeed, come to bring peace in the end, but persecution and confusion first. It would be wicked men who would create this confusion by their hatred of the Savior. How many families have been divided by the gospel! one member has become religious, has turned to God in earnest, and the rest have turned against him. But should these trials prevent any from coming to Christ? O no! we ought to love the Savior better than our dearest relations—better than father or mother, son or daughter. Nor must we in anything disobey him, in order to please a dear friend, or connection. There are many children who are unkindly treated by their parents on account of their religion, and there are many parents who are despised by their children for the same reason. It is a great temptation to an affectionate parent to indulge children by allowing them to taste pleasures which are forbidden in the holy Scriptures. But to do this is to be unfaithful to God. We should always remember that Jesus is nearer to us than parent or child can be. He is our God. The Lord said to Abraham in ancient days, "I will be a GOD unto you." This is more than if He had said, "I will be a Father unto you." David said unto the Lord, "You are my God!" (Psa_140:6.) When any who are near and dear to us would entice us to forsake Him, let us remember that He is our God.

Title: He pronounces blessings on those who show kindness to his disciples
Post by: nChrist on April 28, 2008, 01:37:41 PM
Devotional Commentary On The Gospels
by Favell Lee Mortimer ( 1802 - 1878 )

April 29

He pronounces blessings on those who show kindness to his disciples
Mat_10:40-42; Mat_11:1

The Lord Jesus had forbidden his apostles to take anything with them in their journey, either bag, (that is, bag of provisions,) or money in their purses; and He had desired them to go to the house of the most worthy person in each town, though that person might also be the poorest. It must have been a great comfort to the apostles to know that a rich blessing would rest upon those who received them into their houses, and that their kindness would be repaid at the resurrection of the just.

Paul felt this comfort when the Philippians sent gifts to him in prison. He could not repay them, but he said, "My God will supply all your need according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus." (Php_4:19.)

But is it not possible that a wicked man might receive a servant of Christ and treat him kindly? Yes, doubtless it is possible. Would he receive a heavenly reward? We must consider the motive of every action, before we can pronounce it to be good or bad. It is only those who receive a prophet in the name of a prophet, (that is, because he is a prophet,) who shall receive a prophet's reward. He who receives a prophet because he is an admired preacher, or an amiable man, or an old acquaintance, he will not receive a prophet's reward for his hospitality. The motive in receiving him must be, because he is a servant of Christ. If that is the motive, all faithful prophets will be treated with kindness, and not only some favorite prophet. The blessing, we perceive, is pronounced not only on those who receive prophets, but also on those who receive righteous men who are not prophets; and also on those who are kind to Christ's little ones, or to the weakest believers.

In these days it is often difficult to discover whether any kindness we show to God's people proceeds from the right motive. It is now so easy a duty, that many practice it, who would not incur any danger, or make any sacrifice for the sake of Christ and his people. In former days the case was different. Then it was often dangerous to show kindness to true Christians. Those who visited them in prison, or who harbored them in their houses, drew upon themselves persecution. Even in this country, at the time people were beginning to turn from popery, both men and women were often put to the rack to induce them to confess the names of those who had been kind to them. If a person were known to have sent money to a poor prisoner, or if he were seen giving him a loaf through the prison bars, the enemies of the truth would send to apprehend him. It was not an easy duty in those days to befriend the people of God. Few, if any, would do it who did not love Christ sincerely.

But even in these happier days, some of the saints are held in general contempt. If we countenance and encourage all those who serve our Master, we also shall be despised. But if we would be faithful to Christ, we must not consider to what sect or party men belong, but only, "Do they serve our Lord?" and if they do, we ought to receive them, and help them; we ought to defend their characters when aspersed, to bear with their infirmities, and to forgive their offences. This will be a sign that we should not have despised the Lord Jesus, if we had lived when he was upon earth. The feelings of the true believer are well expressed by a Christian poet, in the following lines—

Your people by the world abhorred,
I for my people take,
And serve the servants of my Lord,
For their dear Master's sake.

Title: The death of John the Baptist
Post by: nChrist on April 28, 2008, 01:39:07 PM
Devotional Commentary On The Gospels
by Favell Lee Mortimer ( 1802 - 1878 )

April 30

The death of John the Baptist

Very little is related concerning the events that happened while the apostles were absent from their Lord. This however we know—Jesus continued to preach, and to perform miracles. His fame was so great that it reached the ears of Herod, the governor. It may appear surprising that Herod had not heard before of his miracles; but the great are often ignorant of the things passing around them among the poor; and sometimes they do not even know the names of the most eminent of God's servants.

When Herod heard of the miracles of the Lord, he supposed that John the Baptist was risen from the dead; and though John in his lifetime had performed no miracles, he imagined that if risen from the dead, he could do mighty works. Amid all his splendor and his power the wicked monarch could not forget his faithful reprover. He had silenced the prophet long ago by committing him to prison; but he could not silence his own conscience, which upbraided him with the murder of the holy man. If before sin was perpetrated, it could be known what would be the state of mind afterwards, many would tremble to do the deed.

Herod was a miserable man; for he had a guilty conscience and an impenitent heart. His crimes were so flagrant, and so presumptuous, that they haunted him in his palace. But they were not followed by repentance. If Herod had really lamented his wickedness, he would have desired to acknowledge it to him, whom he supposed to be the murdered prophet. He would have found in him the only being who could take away his guilt, and give peace to his conscience. But when at last he did see Jesus, it was to insult him, and to array him, just before his crucifixion, with a gorgeous robe, that ill-became his wounded, bleeding form.

And by what steps did Herod sink into this depth of depravity? Once he had heard John the Baptist gladly, and had attended to his words, and had reformed many parts of his conduct. But he had indulged one darling sin; he had refused to part with Herodias, his brother Philip's wife; and had imprisoned the man who rebuked his wickedness. This act hardened his heart, and prepared him for greater crimes. While the prophet languished in a gloomy prison, the unfeeling tyrant reveled in his palace. The elegant dancing of Salome enticed him to make an imprudent promise. He intended not to murder the prophet; perhaps he intended some day to release him from prison; at all events, he was reluctant to shed his blood. But having made an oath, he feared lest his guests should despise him if he broke it. He dreaded their scornful smile more than the angry frown of an offended God. But he soon experienced that it is an dreadful thing to provoke the Almighty. We learn from history, that Herod, with his idolized Herodias, was at length expelled his kingdom, and that he died in banishment and disgrace.

For a moment it seemed as if the devices of a malicious woman had prevailed against God's faithful servant. But was not early death a welcome boon to the holy Baptist? Was not the executioner an acceptable visitant in his prison? The messenger who fetched Joseph from his dungeon to the presence of Pharaoh, was not so welcome as the executioner who removed John from his prison to the presence of his God. He had done the work which was appointed for him to do; he had announced the coming Savior to rebellious men. The servants of God have various posts assigned to them. Each has some commission to perform, and when it is executed, he is recalled. It may appear that he has died in the midst of his work; but this cannot really be the case. God will raise up others to carry on his labors; even as He appointed the apostles to continue to preach that gospel, which John the Baptist had begun to proclaim.

The disciples of the martyred prophet were permitted to enjoy the melancholy satisfaction of burying his headless corpse; for Herod, who would gladly have spared his life, did not withhold his body from them. They must have viewed the early, sudden, and cruel death of their revered Master, as a mysterious event. To lose a friend by the hand of violence is far more bitter than to lose him through disease or accident; for it is more difficult to see God's hand in the loss when man's cruelty has had a share in it. With bursting hearts, these bereaved disciples went and told Jesus of their trouble, (Mat_6:12.)

He could have explained the dark perplexing event. He knew that John was taken away from the evil to come, and was spared the sight of his own ignominious death. But we do not know what He said to comfort these mourners. None can sympathize with the sorrowful as the Son of God can. He came "to comfort all that mourn." His sympathy is not only tender; it is powerful. He is not only touched with the feeling of our infirmities, he can support us when tempted. He can pour consolation into the heart. No wound was ever really healed, except by His touch. He declares, "I wound and I heal." Though the death of John the Baptist was his appointment, yet He alone could comfort the bereaved disciples. Israel in her distress applied to a foreign king. But did she obtain relief? God said, "Yet could he not heal you, or cure you of your wounds." (Hos_5:13.) But the saints can say, "He heals the broken in heart, and binds up their wounds." (Psa_147:3.)

Title: Christ feeds five thousand with five loaves and two fish
Post by: nChrist on May 03, 2008, 04:02:06 AM
Devotional Commentary On The Gospels
by Favell Lee Mortimer ( 1802 - 1878 )

May 1

Christ feeds five thousand with five loaves and two fish
Mark 6:30-44

Behold another instance of the compassion of our Lord. See how ready he was to sacrifice his own ease and comfort that he might promote ours.

It appears that he longed to rest awhile with his disciples, and to hear them relate the things that had befallen them during their travels; and that for this purpose he crossed the lake, intending to land at some desert place; but the multitude, who saw him embark, ran round the lake, and were waiting to receive him at the place where he landed. Was he provoked by this interruption? No! he was moved with compassion for the destitute state of their souls. He regarded them as sheep without a shepherd, because their public teachers were ignorant of God. There is no outward deprivation which he pities so much as the want of a faithful ministry, and there is none which we should lament so much. A famine of the word of the Lord, is far worse than a famine of bread.

When evening came, the apostles wished to send the people away; but the people were willing to remain without food rather than to leave Jesus. They were rewarded for their anxiety to be with him by obtaining nourishment both for their bodies and souls.

Before Jesus broke the bread, he looked up to heaven. He knew whence every good gift came. Have we not often eaten our food without thinking of the Giver, and without considering his kindness in supplying our daily need?

Christ did not distribute the food himself, but employed the apostles in that service. This bread was an emblem of his own flesh, which he gave for the life of the world. The apostles were appointed to proclaim the crucified Savior to perishing sinners. It was necessary that they should believe that He could save by his death the souls of all believers. They now saw with their own eyes that He could make a little bread sustain a vast multitude. They would remember this in future days, when preaching his name to assembled thousands. This simple truth, that Jesus gave his flesh for the life of the world, has fed innumerable souls, and will feed innumerable more until the multitude without number are gathered around the throne; and then the Lamb himself will feed them through eternity with food which we know not of.

After the simple meal was ended, Jesus bade the apostles gather up the remains. By doing this, it was made evident that the hunger of the multitude had been fully satisfied, and the greatness of the miracle was thus proved. But Jesus gave another reason for the command; he said, "Gather up the fragments that remain, that nothing be lost." (John 6:12.) By this command He showed us how precious he esteemed even the least of the works of God, that we might not dare to waste the food that our heavenly Father has provided.

But if earthly bread is too precious to be wantonly trampled under foot, how inestimably precious must heavenly bread be! Every word that comes out of the mouth of God is bread for the soul. Yet how much is permitted to fall to the ground! How carelessly we sometimes read the Scriptures! How many heart-stirring sermons have we heard, and then immediately forgotten! It is not that our memories are too weak to retain them, (for we can recollect the news of the town, or the village,) but it is that our hearts are too indifferent. It would be a blessed custom, after reading or hearing, to gather up the fragments; that is, to recall to our minds what we have heard, and to apply them to our consciences, "that nothing be lost."

It appears that the twelve baskets contained more bread than there was at first, and that the store had been increased by distribution. In the same way, by feeding the hungry we shall often enrich ourselves; for God will bless our earthly substance, as He did in the case of the widow who fed Elijah. But how much more will he bless those who feed souls with the word of God! Those teachers who in a humble spirit search the Scriptures, that they may scatter the crumbs among poor little ignorant children, find rich nourishment for their own souls.

Title: He walks upon the sea
Post by: nChrist on May 03, 2008, 04:04:06 AM
Devotional Commentary On The Gospels
by Favell Lee Mortimer ( 1802 - 1878 )

May 2

He walks upon the sea
Matthew 14:22-36

This history contains a beautiful instance of the care of our Savior over his people. On another occasion the disciples were alarmed, because Jesus was asleep when a storm arose. How much more alarm they probably felt now that he was absent! Yet it ought to have comforted them to remember that he himself had constrained them to enter into the ship. They were evidently in the path of duty. How then should any evil befall them! It is a great comfort to us when we can feel sure that we are doing the will of God; for whatever trouble may threaten us, we can trust Jesus to bring relief in the storm. On the contrary, when we are acting wilfully, we have reason to be alarmed at every difficulty that occurs, and to be apprehensive that God will punish us for our waywardness.

Yet the faith of the disciples was so weak, that, though they knew they were in the path of duty, they were alarmed by the storm; and when they beheld Jesus walking on the sea, they were still more terrified, thinking that he was a spirit. They knew not that while he was praying on the mountain, he had seen them, "toiling in rowing," and was come in the most wonderful manner to their rescue.

Peter, who possessed a warm, eager disposition, said, "Lord, if it be you, bid me come to you on the water."

Why did Peter make this request? Love suggested it! Did he not affectionately desire to be with his Lord? Faith enabled him to comply with the command, "Come." Yet this love, and this faith, were mixed with self-ignorance and self-confidence. He knew not the weakness of his own heart; he fondly imagined that he loved the Lord more than his brethren loved him, and that his faith was stronger than theirs. Upon the waves he learned a humiliating lesson. His mind was not resting solely upon Christ; he partly gloried in himself, and soon the tumult of the winds and waves shook his faith, and he began to sink. But his faith, weak as it was, did not fail, for he called on the Lord to save him.

If Peter had taken a lesson from this event, he might have been spared the sharp sorrow, as well as dreadful sin, of denying his Lord. Had he learned upon the waves, to distrust his own heart, he had not in the hall experienced its deceitfulness. If we reflect upon the events of Providence, we shall find that God often causes those events to occur in miniature, which happen afterwards upon a larger scale. An act of willfulness in youth is permitted to produce evil results; but the same willfulness at a later period is again displayed, and is followed by worse consequences. The deceit that David practiced at the court of Achish entangled him in many difficulties; but the Lord extricated him from them all. He was guilty of a deeper and fouler deceit in the matter of Uriah, and was entangled in a net from which he was never extricated in this life. It is very profitable to review our past conduct, that we may learn the lessons the Lord would teach us, and avoid the evils we have already experienced.

Are we, like Peter, disposed presumptuously to venture into scenes of temptation, and to desire trials of our faith? Does not past experience show us how weak and foolish we are? It is those who dread temptation, who are supported when exposed to it. It is those who feel their unfitness to occupy important stations, who are strengthened when exalted to them. Let us not rashly ask Jesus to bid us come unto him on the water; but ask him rather to come unto us in the ship. Yet the Lord does not forsake his servants, even when their own temerity and lack of faith have brought them into difficulty. No! even then he hears them when they call. He who stretched out his hand to sinking Peter, will extend his mercy to each of us in every trouble. The cry, "Save me or I perish," touches the Savior's heart, even as the infant's cry awakens the mother's tenderness. Never then let us be discouraged from looking to Christ for help. No past folly of ours can harden his heart against us, when by faith we come to him in our distress.

Title: The multitude seek Jesus from interested motives
Post by: nChrist on May 03, 2008, 04:05:41 AM
Devotional Commentary On The Gospels
by Favell Lee Mortimer ( 1802 - 1878 )

May 3

The multitude seek Jesus from interested motives
John 6:22-29

It must be remembered that when Jesus walked on the sea to his disciples, he left a great multitude on the other side of the lake. These people had been fed by him in the evening; but afterwards many of them had remained near the mountain, to which he had retired to pray. They had seen with pleasure the disciples embark without their Master, in the only ship then upon the sea; and had felt certain of finding him near them in the morning. But what was their consternation, when morning came, at not being able to find him! They were at a loss to imagine how he could have departed.

While they were in this state of perplexity, some boats arrived. In these they joyfully embarked, and crossing the lake, soon reached the city of Capernaum. They sought there for Jesus, and found him teaching in the synagogue, (v. 59.) They expressed their surprise at the meeting, saying, "Rabbi, when did you come here?" Jesus, however, did not satisfy their curiosity, by answering their inquiry, but proceeded to unveil their hearts, and to expose the selfish, earthly motives that led them to seek him so earnestly. Could we have supposed that a meal of bread and fish was more valued by them than the precious words of the Savior! Yet this was the case. Though Jesus was the Son of God, and had the most valuable gifts to bestow, the earthly refreshment he had afforded was more prized by the groveling multitude than heaven and all its blessings.

The Savior reproved their earthly-mindedness by saying, "Labor not for the meat which perishes, but for that which endures unto everlasting life." Did he mean to forbid honest labor for our living? By no means. It is commanded that if any will not work, neither should he eat. The expression signifies, "Labor not so much for the meat which perishes, as for that which endures unto everlasting life. Labor not at all for it in COMPARISON with the earnestness with which you labor for heavenly blessings." Do we obey this direction? Are we indeed much more eager and anxious about eternal things than about earthly pleasures, or comforts? What we are most anxious about will be uppermost in our thoughts. What is uppermost in our thoughts? Perhaps we are not as poor as these people were, and are not therefore as anxious as they were about one meal. But if it be wrong to be so much engrossed about necessary food, surely it is much more wrong to be engrossed by unnecessary earthly things - such as pleasures, even harmless pleasures - the favor of men - the increase of our property - or the success of our studies! There is one thing needful - the meat which endures unto everlasting life.

Yet we, helpless, sinful creatures, never could obtain this by our most earnest strivings, were it not entrusted to the Son of God to bestow upon us. God the Father has given eternal life to the Son for us, and sealed the Son. A king places his own seal upon his written commands, that men may know they are his; so God the Father sealed his Son, by enabling him to do miracles, and thus showed men that He had sent him. Our duty is to believe upon this Son, who can give us eternal life.

The people asked, in a self-righteous spirit, "What shall we do that we might work the works of God?" They seemed to think that they could do something to entitle themselves to eternal life. This was impossible. Guilty, polluted creatures can do nothing really good. But there is a Savior to whom they may apply for pardon and grace. Jesus directed them to Himself when he said, "This is the work of God, that you believe on him whom he has sent." He calls believing a work. Yet it is not a work of merit; for it is the beggar coming to the king for alms; it is the criminal suing to the judge for mercy. This is the first work that each of us must perform. There is one who is able to save and to destroy - He is the Son of God. All power is committed unto him. Do we earnestly apply to him for salvation? How foolish only to ask Him for fading flowers, when he could bestow a crown of life! How foolish only to fear the pricking of the thorns and thistles, when the sword of eternal wrath is in his hand! Let us not insult this Savior by seeking his lesser gifts, while we neglect to implore that gift which he bought for us with his blood!

Title: They ask him to give them bread
Post by: nChrist on May 03, 2008, 04:07:12 AM
Devotional Commentary On The Gospels
by Favell Lee Mortimer ( 1802 - 1878 )

May 4

They ask him to give them bread

John 6:30-34

Our Lord frequently took occasion from circumstances to explain spiritual truths. Once, when sitting by a well, he instructed a woman who came to draw water, and exhorted her to seek for living water. Now Jesus was speaking to people who had shown a great anxiety for bread, and he took the opportunity to direct their attention to the bread that came down from heaven.

There was much unbelief and ignorance displayed by the Jews in this conversation. They pretended that they had not received sufficient proof of his authority, and said, "What sign show you then, that we may see and believe you?" He had already given them a most wonderful sign in the miracle of the loaves, yet they required more evidence; but this was not granted to them. They even ventured to dictate to the Savior what he ought to do, and referred in an insolent way to the miracle of the manna, as if they wished Him to understand that Moses, in giving bread from heaven, had wrought a greater miracle than himself. Jesus took no notice of the bad spirit they displayed, but showed them they were mistaken when they said that Moses had given them bread from heaven. The manna had not come from the heaven of heavens, where God's glory is manifested, but from the lower regions of the skies; besides, Moses did not give that bread; he did not create it - nor was it living bread; it would not give life to the dead, or even preserve the life of the living. But there was a bread that could both give life to the dead, and preserve life for evermore - this bread was the Son of God.

The people understood not what Jesus meant, when he spoke of the "Bread of God;" but ignorantly cried, "Lord, evermore give us this bread." How many have made prayers as ignorant as this, and have received answers that they little expected! The woman of Samaria knew not what she asked when she said, "Give me of this water, that I thirst not, neither come here to draw." But her petition, so blindly offered, was graciously granted, for she soon received the water of the Holy Spirit into her heart. We may also believe that those who ignorantly asked for heavenly bread, were satisfied beyond their expectations. If God did not deal thus graciously with sinners, who could be saved! For we are all found by Him in a state of ignorance and enmity - our first prayers resemble the cry of this people - "Lord, evermore give us this bread." Some of us perhaps can remember our feelings just before we turned to God. We felt the misery of our state, we longed to find something better than we had found; but we knew not what we needed. We had heard that there was help in God; we cried to him, but in such a manner that any Being less gracious than Himself would have disregarded us. But his ways are not as our ways, nor his thoughts as our thoughts. He pitied us in our low estate, and led us by ways that we knew not, to a knowledge of his Son.

Title: Christ declares himself to be the bread of life
Post by: nChrist on May 03, 2008, 04:08:35 AM
Devotional Commentary On The Gospels
by Favell Lee Mortimer ( 1802 - 1878 )

May 5

Christ declares himself to be the bread of life
John 6:35-40

Among the crowd who surrounded the Lord while he taught in the synagogue, there were some who believed not, (ver. 64.) But there were some who would come to him, and be his crown forever. This he knew - this was his consolation among all the taunts and jeers of the multitude while in the synagogue, and even afterwards when he was on the Cross.

It was to those people, who did, or would believe on him, that Jesus referred when he said, "All that the Father gives me shall come unto me." They had not all yet come unto him, but he knew they would come unto him, for his Father had given them to him. O what a gift it was! Polluted, guilty, helpless sinners were the gift the Father bestowed upon the Son as the reward of all his sufferings. It was the compassion of his heart that made the Savior value such a gift.

A family of poor children was once bequeathed by a dying parent to a rich man. The legacy was accepted. Many were astonished at the kindness and condescension of the rich man. What trouble, and care, and expense such a gift involved! The children must be fed, and clothed, and educated, and provided for - the rich man was willing to do it all; and he did it all. And what will not the Savior do for those whom the Father has given to him! He will receive them, even as he said, "Him that comes unto me, I will in no wise cast out." When they come to him, however helpless and diseased and destitute they may be, he will graciously welcome them into his house of mercy, and place them at his children's table.

Nor is this all; he will raise them up at the last day. It is appointed unto all men once to die, (whether they believe in Jesus, or not;) but it is also appointed that some shall rise to everlasting life. Jesus promises to be with his children as they pass through the valley of the shadow of death, to receive their souls into paradise, to watch over their sleeping dust, and then at the sound of the last trumpet to raise them from their graves, to clothe them with glorious bodies like his own, and to welcome them into mansions of everlasting bliss. All this will Jesus do for everyone that comes to him.

And why will he do all this? He himself tells us why. Because it is the will of the Father that sent him. "This is the will of him that sent me, that everyone that sees the Son and believes on him, may have everlasting life; and I will raise him up at the last day." The Son delights in doing his Father's will, even more than he does in showing mercy to sinners. It was the Father who appointed him to be the Savior of the world; and the Father knew how much the Son delighted in the work. When a person we love exceedingly gives us a command, we are ready to obey that command, however painful it may be; but when the work he appoints is that in which our soul delights, there is a double joy in obedience.

Ought we not to be astonished to think that the Father and the Son, who fill heaven and earth, should have interested themselves in our wretched race - should have cared for you and me! How guilty we must be, if we reject such wonderful mercy! We can have no excuse for not coming to Jesus, when we are so fully assured of a gracious reception. We shall not be repulsed, we shall not be upbraided, we shall not even be coldly received. Why then need we fear to come?

Title: He promises to give his flesh and blood for the world
Post by: nChrist on May 03, 2008, 04:10:39 AM
Devotional Commentary On The Gospels
by Favell Lee Mortimer ( 1802 - 1878 )

May 6

He promises to give his flesh and blood for the world
John 6:41-58

To what unbelieving earthly hearts Christ addressed this heavenly discourse! The Jews murmured, because they could not understand the truths he declared. They said that Jesus did not come from heaven, and the reason they alleged for thinking so was, that Joseph was his father. Had they inquired into his history, or meditated upon the prophecies, they could not have urged this objection.

They said also that Jesus could not give them his flesh to eat. The Lord did not attempt to answer their objections, because he knew they were not in a fit state of mind to receive his words. He replied to his enemies in a very different manner from that which might have been expected. (See ver. 44.) "No man can come unto me, except the Father which has sent me draw him." He quoted also this verse from the prophet Isaiah - "And they shall be all taught of God." Who shall be taught of God? His children. Whom does a father teach? His own children. God also teaches His children. What does he teach them? He teaches them their need of a Savior. None will come to Christ until they have been taught that they cannot do without him. It may appear strange that men do not find out this by themselves. But they do not. Starving people know that they are starving; but starving souls do not know that they are perishing, until God teaches them. They feel uneasy; but they do not know the cause of the aching void in their own hearts; and even when the bread of life is presented to them, they refuse it. But when God by his Holy Spirit has convinced them that they are in a perishing state, and that none but Christ can save them, then they thankfully accept the living bread. Has God taught any of us to feel our need of the Savior? Then may we say in the words of the poet - 

Why was I made to hear your voice,
And enter while there's room;
When thousands make a wretched choice,
And rather starve than come?

But Jesus spoke not only of bread, he spoke also of flesh and blood. He said, "Except you eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, you have no life in you," (ver. 53.) The Jews were forbidden to taste blood, because it was the life of the animal. What did Jesus mean by eating his flesh and drinking his blood? He spoke of his own death. By his death sinners have life. Man has long been accustomed to kill beasts to preserve his own life. It seems fit that such creatures should die, in order that we may live. But how wonderful it is that the Son of God should die, that worms of the earth, such as we are, should live eternally. It would not be right that a man should die in order that beasts should live. Yet the Son of God laid down his life for us.

But his death will not save us, unless we believe in him. Believing in him is compared to eating and drinking. His flesh has been broken on the cross; his blood has been shed on Calvary; but has each of us believed in him? Have I believed in him? Have you believed in him? Eating bread and drinking wine at the Lord's supper will not save us. The sacraments are only signs of something greater than themselves. It was not until long after Jesus had spoken these words, that he ordained the holy communion of bread and wine, saying, "Do this in remembrance of me." He did not speak of that communion, when he said, "Except you eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, you have no life in you." No! he spoke of faith in his death. There is a supper to which he invites you - it is not administered in a church; it is not bestowed by human hands; it is not received into the mouth. This supper is spoken of in this passage of the Revelation - "Behold I stand at the door and knock - if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him and will sup with him, and he with me." (Revelation 3:20.)

Title: He explains the spiritual meaning of this declaration
Post by: nChrist on May 03, 2008, 04:12:04 AM
Devotional Commentary On The Gospels
by Favell Lee Mortimer ( 1802 - 1878 )

May 7

He explains the spiritual meaning of this declaration
John 6:59-65

We find that many of the disciples of Jesus were offended by his discourse concerning his own flesh and blood. We must remember that all the followers of Christ were called disciples, whereas only twelve were called "apostles." The twelve apostles are not meant by the word disciple in this passage. Why did these disciples murmur? Because they could not understand how Jesus could give them his flesh to eat. They thought he meant that his flesh must literally be eaten; whereas he spoke of a spiritual thing; of obtaining life through faith in his death.

He told them that they would be still more astonished when he ascended up where he was before, even into heaven; for then it would be clearly seen that he did not speak of his real flesh and blood, as they would be changed, and return to heaven. "What and if you shall see the Son of man ascend up where he was before!" What would you say then? Jesus proceeded to explain his words, as far as they could be explained.

He said, "The Spirit quickens, or gives life." Bread and wine cannot give life. No, the Spirit alone gives life. "The flesh profits nothing." By "flesh" forms and ceremonies are meant. They cannot profit the soul by any power in them. It is right to keep the ordinances of Christ, and to partake of the Supper he has ordained in remembrance of his death. Believers account it an unspeakable privilege to approach their Lord's table; but no ordinances, not even those of divine appointment, can impart spiritual life. Jesus directs us to his Father as the only source of life.

When he saw men did not believe, he told them, "No man can come unto me, except it be given unto him of my Father." Why did he declare this doctrine? Has it not often furnished unbelievers with an excuse for not coming to him? His reason for declaring it was that he might convince man of his danger and helplessness. Many have been alarmed from hearing it, and have been led to call out, "What shall we do to be saved?" A reasonable creature is often led to think, "Am I indeed in a state of death! And can I not raise myself from it? What will become of me, if the Father do not lead me to believe in Christ!" These are profitable thoughts, and often induce the sinner to call with earnestness upon God. A few years ago, the son of pious parents entered into a church. He had lately lost a praying mother, and his heart was softened by the event - but he had not turned to his mother's God. The preacher set before his audience the declaration of the Lord Jesus, "No man can come unto me, except the Father which has sent me, draw him." The youth was alarmed, "What, is my mother dead," thought he; "is her voice silent, and am I still unconverted? And what if God should never bestow upon me his converting grace?" He offered up earnest prayers. The Lord heard him, blessed him, and chose him to be one of his faithful ministers.

What ought to be the feelings of believers when they reflect that they never could have come to Christ, if it had not been given unto them of the Father. Have we believed? Then what thanks can we render for our escape from perdition, and for our hope of glory! We would ever be "Giving thanks unto the Father, who has made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light, who has delivered us from the power of darkness, and translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son."

Title: He asks the apostles whether they will go away
Post by: nChrist on May 03, 2008, 04:13:51 AM
Devotional Commentary On The Gospels
by Favell Lee Mortimer ( 1802 - 1878 )

May 8

He asks the apostles whether they will go away
John 6:66-71

No minister ought to be surprised when people are offended by his sermons, seeing that some were so much displeased with this discourse of the blessed Jesus, as to walk no more with him. What was the doctrine that gave offence? It was this, "No man can come unto me except it be given him of my Father." This truth wounds the pride of man. It shows him that he cannot repent when he chooses, or turn to God at his own time. Proud sinners do not like to find that they are so utterly dependent upon God's mercy. Yet are we not dependent upon God for everything? For life, for food, for clothing, for health, for earthly happiness? Surely, then, upon God we must be dependent for eternal life and heavenly bliss. Happy dependence! for has not God promised to give these blessings to all who ask him?

Great was the folly of the disciples who forsook the instructions of infinite wisdom! Could the compassionate Jesus behold their conduct without feeling grief on their account! He looked at the little flock that still remained faithful, and addressed to them this tender appeal - "Will you also go away?" We may well conceive that it was in a tone of fatherly affection these words were uttered. They went to the heart of the frank and generous Peter, and drew from him (on behalf of the rest as well as himself) this earnest declaration - "Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life, and we believe and are sure that you are that Christ, the Son of the living God." Peter's warm expressions of love and fidelity were acceptable to his Divine Master. Though the world may deride professions of attachment to Christ, they were never reproved by the Lord himself.

There was no insincerity in Peter's assurances, but there was more weakness in his heart than he was aware of. No temptation had yet occurred to induce him to forsake his Savior; but Jesus well knew that the day would come when all that little band would leave him in the hands of his enemies. The doctrines that He had declared had not offended them, but the sufferings that he must undergo - these would prove their stumbling-block. Peter, who was loudest in his professions of attachment, would not only forsake, but also deny his Master. Could he at that moment have foreseen his base conduct in the judgment-hall, he would have added petitions to his professions. In the Epistles he wrote many years afterwards, he speaks of the saints as "kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation." He found to his cost that he could not stand by his own power. In the same epistle he warns believers against the enemy who had nearly destroyed him, and says, "Be sober, be vigilant; for your adversary the devil walks about, as a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour."

Do our hearts at this moment glow with grateful affection to our Savior? Are we ready to exclaim, "To whom shall we go, if we forsake him? No other teacher can show us the way of life; no other friend can comfort us in the hour of sorrow; no other advocate can plead for us in the day of judgment!" Yet let us remember that this love, we think so strong, will be tried. In what manner it will be tried, we cannot foresee. The devices of Satan are innumerable. He knows our characters, and understands how to assail us to the greatest advantage. He has succeeded in causing eminent saints to forsake their God for a while. Jerome of Prague, and our Cranmer, as well as the apostle Peter, were tempted to deny the Master they loved; yet at last all three laid down their lives in his cause; for the children of God are brought back by their loving Shepherd's rod into the fold whence they have wandered.

Jesus knew that all his beloved apostles would be restored, excepting one, who was "a devil." Judas was distinguished from his brethren by this dark token, "indifference to his Lord." It was he who so strongly objected to Mary's memorable act of love, the pouring the precious ointment on her Savior's head. Yet he so far succeeded in deceiving his fellow apostles, as to be intrusted with the bag containing their little all. The love and esteem of professed Christians for each other, are often very much misplaced. We ought not to solace ourselves with the thought that the best of men approve us, if our hearts are conscious that we do not love the Savior. Jesus is loved by all the saints in earth, even by the weakest - he is still more loved by the saints in heaven; he has been ever loved by the innumerable hosts of glorious angels. By whom then is he not beloved? By devils in hell; and by some ungrateful men, who, though they know he died for them, yet refuse to love him.

Title: Jesus eats with unwashed hands
Post by: nChrist on May 03, 2008, 04:15:26 AM
Devotional Commentary On The Gospels
by Favell Lee Mortimer ( 1802 - 1878 )

May 9

Jesus eats with unwashed hands
Matthew 15:1-20

It has often been observed, that in the character of Jesus, opposite qualities were united. We seldom (or perhaps never) see a man remarkable at once for meekness, and for boldness. Yet our Lord was remarkable for both. The incident we have just read, affords an instance of his boldness in dealing faithfully with his powerful and malicious enemies.

He would not countenance the custom of washing the hands before taking food. Yet was not this a harmless custom? Why did he not comply with it? Because, though harmless in itself, it was enforced on the people as a religious duty. The Jewish teachers taught the people that food defiled them unless eaten with washed hands. Now this was not a doctrine of God's word. These elders (or teachers) ought to have taught the truths contained in God's holy word. It was their office to explain the Scriptures to the people; but instead of doing this, they added commandments of their own. Jesus expressed his disapprobation of their conduct by not observing these human commandments. The custom of washing the hands before eating was innocent in itself; but there were other commandments taught by the elders that were very pernicious. Jesus gave an instance of one of these. God had commanded children to honor their parents. A child who honors his parents will provide for them in old age. But the Jewish teachers taught the people, that if they gave some money to the priests for the service of the temple, that then they might be excused from supporting their aged parents. They instructed children to say to their decrepit parents, "It is a gift; what I should have given you has been bestowed upon the temple; so that I can do nothing for you." Such conduct was exceedingly wicked; yet the Jewish teachers said it was right.

We see from this instance that it is very dangerous to follow the opinions of men concerning what is wrong, or what is right. What God commands is good - what he forbids is evil; and the word of God is the only rule of good and evil.

Of course the Pharisees were extremely enraged against Christ for exposing their false instructions. But Jesus had so much compassion for the poor ignorant people, that he chose to undeceive them; though by this line of conduct he increased the hatred of his enemies. Had we more compassion for the ignorant, we should have less fear of man. A father would not stand by and see his child poisoned, whomever he might offend by his opposition.

Jesus explained clearly to the people in the presence of their teachers, in what respect they were deceived. He called them, and said, "Not that which goes into the mouth defiles a man; but that which comes out of the mouth, that defiles a man." Yet even the disciples could not understand this simple truth, and Peter called it a "parable," and asked Jesus to explain it. It is very hard to get rid of prejudices which have long darkened the mind. The heathen, even when converted, are apt to retain many superstitious ideas imbibed in their infancy. We are all naturally disposed to think that ceremonies can profit our soul; whereas none can sanctify us but the Spirit of God, and nothing can defile us but sin. Neither is it the sinful action only that pollutes - the sinful thought (which gives rise to the action) pollutes far more. It is not the act of stealing only, but the desire to possess our neighbor's property, that defiles; it is not the words of the lie merely, but the WISH to deceive, that stains the man; it is not so much the blasphemous expressions, as the irreverent feeling towards God, that constitutes the essence of profaneness. We perceive, therefore, that even if we have not committed gross and open transgressions, we are, notwithstanding, deeply polluted. Such defilement, no ceremonies can remove. Water cannot wash the heart. The blood of Christ alone can cleanse the inner man. It is a spiritual washing that we need; Jesus himself must wash us or we perish. He is gracious, and will pardon the vilest sinner that implores his mercy; he will not only pardon him but sanctify him, and give him a new heart full of holy desires.

Title: The woman of Tyre
Post by: nChrist on May 03, 2008, 04:17:27 AM
Devotional Commentary On The Gospels
by Favell Lee Mortimer ( 1802 - 1878 )

May 10

The woman of Tyre
Matthew 15:21-28

It is very interesting to observe the various ways in which Jesus behaved to afflicted people. Some, he offered to relieve; saying to one at the pool of Bethesda, "Will you be made whole?" and to another with a withered hand at the synagogue, "Stretch forth your hand." Others he restored on their FIRST application to him - while he permitted the woman of Canaan to plead long and earnestly before he showed her mercy. Yet even this delay was the cause of her obtaining greater favor in the end; for it gave her the opportunity of proving the strength of her faith. Before he exposed her to this test, he knew that she could endure it. The compassionate Savior proportions our trials to our strength, and will bring upon us no temptation greater than we are able to bear. A sharp trial is often a sign that he confides in our fidelity. Had a weak saint been tried as Job was, he would have been overwhelmed; but God knew that his servant would prove faithful.

When we consider who this woman was, we have reason to be astonished at the attainments she had made. She was a Canaanite, a daughter of the cursed race. She was not descended from Abraham, the friend of God - she was not one of the nation of Israel. No! she was descended from ignorant heathen. She resided in the wicked city of Tyre; and she had been brought up in the Greek or heathen religion; yet it appears evident that she had obtained some knowledge of the true God, and that she possessed a hearty faith in his name. How could she have called Jesus the Son of David, had she not heard of the prophecy made unto David concerning One who should sit upon his throne? She was evidently a child of God, born again of the Holy Spirit, and bringing forth the fruits of the Spirit - faith, patience, and humility. She had such faith, that she believed that Jesus would have mercy on her, in spite of his apparent unkindness; she had such patience that she continued, notwithstanding repeated denials, to press her suit; and she had such humility, that she could bear to be called a dog. Let us now observe Christ's conduct towards this woman. The disciples in a spirit of selfishness, and not of compassion, entreated their Master to send away the poor suppliant. Jesus is never weary of the cry of distress; above all, the voice of faith, though choked with tears and sighs, ever sounds sweet in his ears. The mother is glad to hear those cries which prove that her babe lives; and the Savior rejoices to hear those petitions which are the tokens of spiritual life.

Have we ever prayed as this woman did? Have not we as great requests to make as she had? She implored a temporal blessing, and received an answer. Had she never prayed for spiritual blessings? Her faith, her patience, her humility, prove that she must have prayed for them - whether beneath some fig-tree, as Nathanael did, or in some chamber of her heathen home - we know not. She was a true believer, and therefore must have been a secret worshiper. She had learned to trust in her God from his dealings with her in times past, and therefore she was not dismayed by her Savior's seeming sternness. We also must have secret transactions with our God. When we have experienced his pardoning mercy, we shall be able to trust him with all our concerns. It is indeed a comfort to a mother, when a child is sick, to have a God in whom to confide. Sometimes he may see good to take her child away; but He will in the end reward believing prayer by imparting unspeakable consolation.

Title: The deaf and mute man
Post by: nChrist on May 13, 2008, 10:10:22 AM
Devotional Commentary On The Gospels
by Favell Lee Mortimer ( 1802 - 1878 )

May 11

The deaf and mute man
Mark 7:31-37

We here find the Lord Jesus again visiting Decapolis on the borders of the lake. On a former occasion he had healed two poor demoniacs, who dwelt among the tombs. The treatment which he had received from the owners of the swine, did not prevent him from again visiting their shores. There were many sufferers there whom he designed to relieve and to bless. It is probable that his way had been prepared by that poor man who had desired to accompany him, but who had remained behind that he might tell "what great things the Lord had done for him." With what warmth that man must have spoken to his countrymen of the compassion of his Lord! Those who have lately experienced the loving-kindness of the Savior cannot speak of him with coldness. The testimony of one such person often produces a great effect upon the minds of many.

We know not by what means the friends of the deaf and mute man were induced to apply to Jesus. Though deprived of two valuable faculties, the afflicted man possessed the blessing of affectionate friends, who besought the Lord to heal him. We read of a paralytic at the pool of Bethesda, who had no friend to help him in his weakness.

The Lord did not relieve the deaf and mute man immediately; he first took him to a retired place, where he might perform the miracle unseen by the multitude. He healed him in a remarkable manner. Before he uttered the words, "Be opened," he put his fingers in the man's ears, spit, touched his tongue, looked up to heaven, and sighed. These actions were, no doubt, designed to instruct the deaf and mute man. Though this man could not hear, he could feel the sacred touch, he could see the eyes uplifted, and perceive the deep-drawn sigh. The touch taught him that it was through the power of Jesus he was healed; the upward look that it was by the will of his Father in heaven, and the sigh, that the Savior felt compassion for his infirmities.

Had this man been cured by natural means, he would have had to learn the use of language gradually; but those whom Jesus healed were endowed with the power of using their restored faculties immediately. The mute man spoke plain. Thus the prophecy of Isaiah was in one instance fulfilled, "The ears of the deaf shall be unstopped, and the tongue of the stammerers shall be ready to speak plainly."

We have seen, in this miracle, that Jesus adapted the mode of cure to the circumstances of the afflicted man. By what various means he now cures the spiritual infirmities of men! He knows how to treat each case in the most suitable manner. There are many different states of mind to be found among the unconverted, and all seem to us cases very hard to cure. The wisdom of Jesus enables him to meet the difficulties of each case that he undertakes to relieve. He knows how to solemnize the light mind of one, and how to abase the proud spirit of another; how to tame the violent temper, and to enlarge the selfish heart. It is very interesting to consider the peculiar circumstances attending the conversion of each sinner to God.

"By what way has the Lord brought you to listen to his voice?" Have you indeed been brought to listen to it? Or are you still deaf to his gracious invitations?

Title: Christ heals the multitude on the mountain-top
Post by: nChrist on May 13, 2008, 10:12:07 AM
Devotional Commentary On The Gospels
by Favell Lee Mortimer ( 1802 - 1878 )

May 12

Christ heals the multitude on the mountain-top
Matthew 15:29-31

The miracle wrought upon the deaf and mute man brought a host of suppliants to the feet of Jesus. The mountain-top was his throne of mercy, and thence he rebuked the diseases of the imploring multitude. Could any occupation have more gratified his loving heart! Yes; there was one which would have been still more delightful to him. Had penitents implored his pardon as earnestly as these sufferers besought his healing mercy, he would have felt a deeper joy. The day shall come when all men shall apply to Him for the forgiveness of their sins; with weeping and with supplication shall they come, each one mourning for his iniquity.

It is to be remarked, that the poor sufferers were brought by their friends, who cast them down at the feet of Jesus. The afflicted creatures were not able to come alone. How could the lame have climbed the hill? How could the blind have found the way, and how could the mute have sued for mercy? But by the kindness of their friends they reached the blessed spot, and made known their wretched state. It may be we ourselves owe to the kindness of our friends, under God, in times past, the salvation of our souls. Was there no affectionate relative who expostulated with us in the days of our folly, who persuaded us to accompany him to hear some faithful preacher, and who encouraged us to forsake the world, and to serve the Lord? In some instances it was a mother's prayers, long offered to God in secret, with many tears, that drew down upon the soul eternal blessings. How much do we owe to such friends for all their love to us, and all their exertions for our good! We ought to show the same kindness to others, that they once showed to us. Have we no unconverted relatives to cast at the feet of Jesus by secret supplications? Have we none to whom we might send a letter of entreaty, or a book adapted to their case? Are there none whom we might draw to the house of God, to hear the gospel preached with fervor and with power? These services of love bind the hearts of the children of God to each other.

You may conceive how much the sufferers who had been cast at the Savior's feet must afterwards have loved those who had laid them there. When restored, did they not go to seek for others, afflicted as they once had been? There was no room here for strife and contention; there was enough virtue in Jesus to heal all who came. When men bestow gifts, there must be a limit to their extent, and this circumstance gives rise to competition and jealousy; but Jesus is like the sun in the heavens, who has shed his beams for ages upon benighted worlds, and is still as full of glorious light as when he first began to shine. There is no rivalry among penitent sinners. There is a fountain in which all may wash, and be clean; there is a heaven to which all may go, and be happy. In that abode of bliss, benefits received from our fellow-creatures upon earth will not be forgotten. There will exist in those worlds stronger ties than the nearest known in this. The converts who form the joy and crown of the blessed apostle Paul, are nearer and dearer to him than children are to any father upon earth.

But if saints entertain a grateful love towards each other, what must they feel for the Savior who died for them! Surely the mute, the blind, the maimed, whom Jesus healed, must have loved their gracious benefactor. It is recorded of a poor blind boy, that such was his affection for the physician who had couched his eyes and restored his sight, that he never saw him without shedding tears of joy; and that when disappointed of an expected visit, he could not forbear weeping. The saints on earth begin to feel this love for their Savior; but now they love imperfectly. In heaven this love will be the spring of all their thoughts. It is written upon the tomb of one of God's servants,* this saying, which he had expressed in his lifetime - "To love is heaven; to love a little less imperfectly is the foretaste of heaven." * See the Life of Gonthier, the Swiss Pastor.

Title: Christ feeds five thousand with seven loaves
Post by: nChrist on May 13, 2008, 10:13:33 AM
Devotional Commentary On The Gospels
by Favell Lee Mortimer ( 1802 - 1878 )

May 13

Christ feeds five thousand with seven loaves

Matthew 15:32-39

For three days seated upon a mountain, surrounded by the afflicted and the ignorant, our blessed Lord had manifested his compassion for our fallen race. At the end of that period, he displayed his beneficence by feeding the multitude. He had refused to feed them when they came because of the loaves; but now that they had been gathered together from other motives, he provided for their wants. It is so now. The Lord does not promise to provide for the temporal wants of those who attempt to serve him from interested views, but only for those who seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness.

Is it not surprising that the disciples should say the second time, "Whence should we have so much bread in the wilderness, as to fill so great a multitude?" How soon they had forgotten the five loaves and the five thousand! But can we remember no similar instance of forgetfulness in our own history? Has not the Lord on many occasions in times past gone beyond our highest expectations? And yet are we not prone in every fresh difficulty to doubt his power and his faithfulness? David remembered that God had delivered him out of the paw of the lion and the bear, and therefore he believed that He would deliver him out of the hand of the mighty giant. Whenever we find ourselves placed in difficulties, we should remember the "years of the right-hand of the Most High;" that is, we should remember the events of past years, and the deliverances we have received. How many fears have we entertained! Have they been realized? Has not the Lord been better to us than our fears? and better than our hopes too? The Lord, who fed the multitude, can supply the largest family with bread. The pious parent may trust Him to send provision for all his little ones. The affectionate daughter may feel assured that the Lord will help her to sustain her widowed mother. The weak in health, and declining in years, may confide in the Lord not to leave them to pine neglected and forlorn; for the eyes of the Lord are over the righteous, and his ears are open unto their prayers.

The Lord is able to supply his perishing creatures with more enduring food than bread. The disciples ought to have known that the bread they distributed signified that flesh which Jesus would give for the life of the world; for they had lately heard their Master discourse upon this subject. The Lord has already raised up many faithful ministers who proclaim to his people the crucified Savior. This was his promise in days of old - "I will give you pastors according to my heart, which shall feed you with knowledge, and with understanding," (Jeremiah 3:15.) If all congregations had the same appetite for the bread of life that this multitude had for common bread, how joyfully would pastors exercise their ministry! But of what congregation can it be said, "They did all eat and were filled?" Too many people have no appetite for the heavenly feast; they sit as God's people sit, but they partake not of the sacred fare - they go away to feed again upon ashes, and at length die without having tasted of that bread, which if a man eat, he shall live forever. But there is a congregation above, in number far exceeding four thousand, or one hundred and forty-four thousand - a multitude that no man can number, who are fed by the Lord himself with heavenly manna. They hunger no more, because the Lamb which is in the midst of the throne feeds them.

Title: Christ refuses to grant a sign to the Pharisees and Sadducees
Post by: nChrist on May 13, 2008, 10:14:58 AM
Devotional Commentary On The Gospels
by Favell Lee Mortimer ( 1802 - 1878 )

May 14

Christ refuses to grant a sign to the Pharisees and Sadducees
Matthew 16:1-4

It is not certain what the sign from heaven was that the Pharisees and Sadducees desired to see; probably it was some display of Christ's glory, such as he afterwards gave to his most favored disciples upon the mount. But whatever the sign required might be, the motive that led these men to ask for it was a very evil one - it was the desire not to believe. And why did they entertain this desire? Because they hated Jesus. It is our desires and our feelings that mark our characters in God's sight.

And what were the feelings of the Savior on this occasion? Mark records a circumstance which shows us what they were. In Mark 8:12, we read, "And he sighed deeply in his spirit." The hardness of men's hearts grieved the Savior more than all the sufferings of his life. It is a sign of grace in the heart when a man is deeply grieved by hearing of sin committed against others; but it is a still better sign when he is grieved, rather than angry, at sins committed against himself. There are some to be found among the followers of Jesus, who have imbibed this feeling from their Master. The most cutting reproaches have excited no other emotion than this regret - "Alas, he who hates me is blind, and knows not what he does."

The Lord condescended patiently to argue with these unbelievers. He proved that their doubts respecting his being the Son of God did not arise from want of understanding; for they showed their understanding by knowing the signs of the weather. Their understandings were good enough to enable them to know that he was the Son of God, because all the signs the prophets had described, had come to pass. We cannot now consider what these signs were. The miracles Jesus performed were among them; for Isaiah had prophesied that the tongue of the mute should sing when the Savior came, that the ears of the deaf should be unstopped, and that the lame man should leap as an deer, (Isaiah 35.)

Jesus declared that one sign only should be given to these unbelievers - the sign that God once gave to the Ninevites.

Jonas was cast into the sea, and was swallowed by a whale. Thus Jesus would be cast into the grave, and lie hid in the tomb. As Jonas was delivered from the whale, so Jesus was raised from the tomb. As Jonas warned the people of Nineveh that their city would be destroyed in forty days, so Jesus warned the people of Jerusalem that their city would be destroyed in forty years; that is, before that generation would pass away. But whereas the Ninevites repented at the preaching of Jonas, the Jews did not repent at the preaching of the Lord and his apostles.

The words which are recorded in the conclusion of this passage (verse 4) are dreadful - "Jesus left them and departed," - left them in mingled sorrow and displeasure. To be left by Jesus is almost the greatest calamity that can befall a human creature! There is one calamity greater, which is this - to hear Jesus say, "Depart from me." If left by Jesus, we may implore his return; but when he says "Depart," we never can be admitted any more into His presence. Some, who have despised religious privileges while they possessed them, have learned their value after they have lost them; and sometimes God has graciously restored the blessings they had forfeited. But it too often happens that when Jesus leaves a people, he leaves them to their impenitence and hardness of heart, and that when they see Him again, it is to hear Him say, "Depart from me, you cursed, into everlasting fire."

Title: He warns his disciples against the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees
Post by: nChrist on May 13, 2008, 10:16:26 AM
Devotional Commentary On The Gospels
by Favell Lee Mortimer ( 1802 - 1878 )

May 15

He warns his disciples against the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees
Matthew 16:5-12

We often find that people did not understand our Savior when he spoke of spiritual things under the image of earthly ones. Thus, when he spoke of living water to the woman of Samaria, the woman did not understand him. Neither did his disciples now understand him when he spoke of leaven. He did not reprove the woman of Samaria for not comprehending his meaning, because she had never enjoyed opportunities of instruction; but he expected better things from his own disciples, and he rebuked them, saying, "How is it that you do not understand that I spoke it not to you concerning bread?" And how was it that they did not understand? Had they not lived long enough with their Master to know his way of discourse?

It was unbelief which clouded their minds. Because they had taken no bread with them in the ship, they feared that they should suffer from hunger; though their Lord was in the ship, and though He had promised to supply all their need.

They did not express these unbelieving thoughts aloud; but their Master knew they cherished them in their hearts. Who ventures to go to God to express in words his secret unbelief? Who could say in prayers - "We cannot trust you in time to come? We think it likely that you will forsake us, that you will not care for our tears, or heed our cries." We dare not speak thus to our heavenly Father. Why then should we think what we dare not speak?

Jesus was displeased with his disciples on two accounts - for their want of faith, and for their want of spiritual understanding. How could they suppose that the earthly leaven of the Pharisees was worse than any other leaven? Leaven could not be the worse for belonging to wicked men. Jesus had lately shown his disciples that nothing but sin could pollute; yet their minds were so much darkened by early prejudices that they could not receive this simple truth.

And what was the leaven of which the Savior bids his disciples beware? It was the false doctrine, or teaching, of the Pharisees and Sadducees. Both these sects taught errors; but opposite errors. The Pharisees added to the word of God - the Sadducees took from it. The Pharisees added to it commandments of their own invention; the Sadducees took from it all but the five books of Moses, and even these they did not fully believe, for they would receive nothing that they did not understand. The Pharisees were superstitious - the Sadducees were skeptical. The world is now full of people, who, though bearing different names, preach doctrines like those of the Pharisees and Sadducees. Papists resemble the Pharisees, and infidels the Sadducees.

Were even the disciples in danger of being tainted by bad doctrine? Ought we not to fear its evil influence? Bad doctrine, like infected air, finds entrance through the smallest aperture, and unseen spreads a pestilence all around. As leaven will change the nature of a whole lump of flour, so bad doctrine will injure all the powers of the mind, and all the feelings of the heart. The venerable Howells used to say, "Error in principle is the parent of vice in practice." If it be so, how carefully we ought to shun bad doctrine! Though we may be well instructed in the truth, yet we are liable to be corrupted by false teachers. There are some melancholy instances of people who had instructed thousands by their pious writings, receiving in their advanced years false principles into their minds, and attempting to pervert those whom once they had edified. Our constant prayer ought to be, "Hold me up, that my footsteps slip not."

By what mark may we distinguish good doctrine from false? By this mark; the true doctrine exalts Christ, and humbles man; it is summed up in these words - "O Israel, you have destroyed yourself; but in me is your help," (Hosea 13:9.)

Title: He cures a blind man by touching him twice
Post by: nChrist on May 13, 2008, 10:17:49 AM
Devotional Commentary On The Gospels
by Favell Lee Mortimer ( 1802 - 1878 )

May 16

He cures a blind man by touching him twice
Mark 8:22-26

There is one circumstance in this miracle which we do not meet with in any other - it is the gradual manner in which the cure was effected; the blind man was not suddenly restored to sight, but by degrees.

There are several other interesting circumstances connected with this miracle, though they are not peculiar to it. It is evident that this man did not belong to the town of Bethsaida, for after he was cured, Jesus desired him to return to his house, but not to enter the town. Bethsaida was one of those cities most highly favored, and most deeply guilty, for it repented not at the preaching of Jesus. On this account a woe was pronounced against it. "Woe unto you, Bethsaida." The friends of the blind man heard that the Lord was arrived at Bethsaida, and they went there, and besought mercy for the afflicted creature.

It often happens when the gospel is preached in a town, that while it is despised by the inhabitants of the place, it is valued by those who live in distant villages. The Lord showed his displeasure against the people of Bethsaida, by leading the blind man out of the town before he cured him, and by forbidding him to return there afterwards. Those who hate the gospel often take great pains to avoid hearing it, and God sometimes meets their wicked desires by taking measures to prevent their being troubled by the unwelcome sound.

How touching is the account of the kind manner in which Jesus conducted the blind man out of the town! "He led him by the hand." Behold the Son of God leading the blind by a way that he knew not, to the retired spot in which he intended to restore him to sight. Perhaps this blind man was but little acquainted with his benefactor, and was not fully aware of his power to cure his blindness. Thus many are led by Jesus to the place where they are converted. They know not where the events of Providence are guiding them; they know not why they are removed from one place to another; why one path is blocked up, and another opened before them, until at length they find that all was arranged to bring about this blessed end, the opening of their blind eyes.

Jesus cured this blind man by the use of outward means, and not by his word alone; He spat on his eyes, and touched them. Perhaps he did so that he might more fully convince him that He alone was the author of his cure; there was a virtue in his touch, a power in the simplest means when applied by Him, that could remove blindness. Thus it is now. The most trifling circumstances are made by the power of Christ effectual to open the eyes of unbelievers.

A few years ago, an infidel saw a child reading the Bible, and said to him, in a scornful manner, "You cannot comprehend that book, why do you read it?" The child replied, "I delight in it, and therefore I try to understand it." This simple answer struck the infidel so powerfully, that he was led to reflect seriously on the cause of his unbelief, and to apply to God for his Holy Spirit.

This blind man, it appears, had not been born blind, for he knew the names of surrounding objects. His sight was so imperfectly restored at first, that it was only by their movements that he could distinguish men from trees; he knew that those were men that he beheld, because they walked. Jesus would not suffer him to remain in this state, but soon completely restored his sight. He laid his hand upon him the second time. Are not we reminded by this account of our own case? Has spiritual light been bestowed upon us? Is that sight perfect? Can we understand spiritual things distinctly and fully? We must reply, "No, we see through a glass darkly." Not through such a glass as in these days admits light into our rooms; but we see spiritual truths in the same confused manner that objects are seen reflected upon ancient mirrors, which were only made of polished brass. This is the state of the most enlightened Christian; he sees eternal things "darkly." How much more is it the state of new converts! They can just discern (though faintly) what it is most necessary to know; they see that sin is hateful, that God is holy, and that Christ is precious; but there are many important truths they cannot distinguish; and when they meditate on them they are perplexed and distressed.

What is the only remedy for the darkness of our minds? The touch of Jesus. Let him touch us by his Spirit the second time, and the third time. Let him continue to touch our eyes with his divine eye salve, until we can see him as he is, that we also may be like him. When the apostle Paul wrote to the Ephesians, though he knew they were converted, yet he told them that he constantly prayed that the eyes of their understanding might be enlightened, that they might know the hope of their calling, and the riches of their glorious inheritance. (Ephesians 1:18.) These are the things that we so dimly discern. We do not behold the excellency of heaven with sufficient clearness. But the day shall come when those who now see imperfectly shall see face to face, shall know even as they are known.

"O glorious hour, O blessed abode,
I shall be near and like my God,
And flesh and sin no more control
The sacred pleasures of the soul."

Those are indeed miserable who say, "' We see," though they see not. Let us continually cry, "Anoint our eyes, that we may see more and more of your divine glory, O blessed Lord!"

Title: He pronounces a blessing upon Peter
Post by: nChrist on May 13, 2008, 10:19:16 AM
Devotional Commentary On The Gospels
by Favell Lee Mortimer ( 1802 - 1878 )

May 17

He pronounces a blessing upon Peter
Matthew 16:13-20

In this passage we are permitted to behold Jesus and his disciples in sacred retirement. The towns of Caesarea Philippi were situated at the northern part of the land, where the Lord was in some degree relieved from the pressure of the multitude. Such seasons he devoted to the instruction of his beloved apostles. With them he joined in holy exercises. We never hear of his praying with the multitude; but we know that he often prayed alone with his chosen flock. After his prayer, he conversed with them upon sacred subjects. He asked them, "Whom do men say that I the Son of man am?" It appears from their answer, that the multitude did not believe him to be the Son of God. But when he asked his disciples who he was, Simon Peter answered for the rest - "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God."

The Lord was pleased with this bold confession of faith, and he said, "Blessed are you, Simon Barjona." When Peter first came to Jesus, Simon was his name, but Christ gave him the name of Peter which means a stone. Who was it had taught Peter that Jesus was the Son of God? Flesh and blood had not taught him; that is, no man had taught him; but the Father himself. Men can never make us believe in Christ; they cannot give us faith. It comes from God alone. Those who have not been taught by God, may appear to be religious; but they will forsake Christ in times of persecution. But Peter would in the end (though not at first) prove firm as a stone. Christ knew this when he said, "You are Peter."

But was Peter the rock on which Christ would build his church? No. There is only one rock, that is Christ himself. Peter had just declared, "You are the Christ." By believing this truth, sinners are saved. Peter, after his Lord's ascension, often proclaimed this truth. On one occasion, he said before the enemies of his crucified Master, "This is the stone which was set at nothing of you builders, which is become the head of the corner; neither is there salvation in any other, for there is none other name given under heaven among men whereby we must be saved." (Acts 4:11-12.) Have we believed in this name? Unless we do believe, we must perish.

True believers are called the church. It was of this church that Christ spoke when he said, "The gates of hell shall not prevail against it." By the gates of hell he meant the powers of darkness, or Satan and his angels, who are now trying to destroy the church of Christ; but they never can succeed, because it is built upon the eternal rock.

Christ showed great favor to Peter, when he said, "I give unto you the keys of the kingdom of heaven." Power belongs to God alone. He shuts, and no man opens, and opens and no man shuts; but Christ communicated some of his own power to his apostles. Before he ascended to heaven, he breathed on them and said, "Receive you the Holy Spirit. Whoever's sins you remit, they are remitted to them, and whoever's sins you retain, they are retained." The apostles proved their authority by the miracles they wrought.

It was not to Peter alone that power was given, but to all the apostles. We find from reading the book of Acts, that Peter possessed no authority over his brethren. Why then did Jesus on this occasion say to him especially, "I give unto you the keys of the kingdom of heaven." The reason seems to be, that as it was Peter who had made the declaration, "You are the Christ," it was to him that Jesus replied. After the Lord had ascended, Paul became an apostle, and though he called himself the least of the apostles, he was in nothing behind the very chief of them; and he proved his apostleship by the signs and wonders which he wrought.

The apostles were stewards of the mysteries of God. They had the keys in their hands, and they unlocked their Lord's treasury, and distributed among men his unsearchable riches. While many trample these pearls under their feet, may we count all things but dross for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus our Lord.

Title: Christ reproves Peter
Post by: nChrist on May 13, 2008, 10:20:45 AM
Devotional Commentary On The Gospels
by Favell Lee Mortimer ( 1802 - 1878 )

May 18

Christ reproves Peter
Matthew 16:21-28

In our last reading, Peter was called "blessed," and was promised many privileges; now he is rebuked as "Satan." Yes, the meek and gentle Jesus uttered this severe rebuke, "Get you behind me, Satan." Thus we see that a true believer is liable to displease the Lord.

Peter was a true believer; yet on this occasion he acted the part of Satan towards his Master, by advising him not to endure suffering. No doubt he was partly actuated by affection, but his Master did not overlook the fault on that account. Peter ought to have had the glory of God more at heart than to have wished the Son of God not to fulfill his glorious work, even unto death. Christ therefore calls him an offence, or a stumbling-block. Those are not our best friends, who endeavor to persuade us to please ourselves, rather than to please God. We should be afraid to listen to them, and we should prefer the friendship of those who counsel us to endure hardness, as good soldiers of Jesus Christ.

Probably there lurked at the bottom of Peter's heart a desire himself to escape suffering with a suffering master; therefore Jesus told him plainly that he must deny himself, and take up his cross. Nor did he speak to him alone, but to each of us. "If any man will come after me, let him deny himself," that is, his earthly desires, for ease, pleasure, riches, esteem - "and let him take up his cross," that is, let him prepare even to die for my sake. The spirit of a Christian is the spirit of a martyr; he is ready to give up all things, even life itself, for Christ.

Many souls have been converted by this solemn appeal, "What is a man profited if he shall gain the whole world and lose his own soul?" It was a sermon preached upon this text that first led the missionary John Williams to care for his soul. He was an ungodly youth at the time he heard it; but afterwards he gave up the world, took up his cross, and followed Christ. At length he lost his life in his service. Having landed upon the island of Erromango, in the New Hebrides, hoping to preach the gospel there, he was pursued by the natives. He had just reached the sea, when he fell down, was overtaken, and bruised to death by the clubs of the savages. His blood was mingled with the waves, his flesh was devoured by cannibals, and his bones made into fish-barbs. But will he regret the choice he made, in the day when the Son of man shall come in his glory? When we consider what the Son of God gave up for our sakes, how little every sacrifice appears that we can make for him! Our great motive ought to be "gratitude" to him who shed his blood for sinners; and it is the great motive of all true Christians.

What did Jesus mean when he said, "There be some standing here which shall not taste of death, until they see the Son of man coming in his kingdom." He could not mean that some of his apostles would live until he came to judge the world; for he has not come yet, and they have long been dead. Did he mean that some of them should soon see him in his glory? In the next chapter there is an account of his glorious appearance upon a mountain, in the presence of three of the apostles. Could men now see Jesus as he will appear when he comes in clouds as King of kings, and Lord of lords, how mean and worthless all earthly glory would appear!

Title: The Transfiguration
Post by: nChrist on May 13, 2008, 10:22:03 AM
Devotional Commentary On The Gospels
by Favell Lee Mortimer ( 1802 - 1878 )

May 19

The Transfiguration
Matthew 17:1-4

We lately read of Jesus conversing with his disciples respecting his sufferings. Now we read of his unveiling to them his glory. The prophet Isaiah foretold that his face should be more marred (or disfigured) than the face of any man. (Isaiah 52:14.) No doubt, therefore, he wore usually an aspect of care and sorrow; but on this occasion he permitted the glories of his divine nature to shine forth through his frail earthly tabernacle. Thus he gave us a glimpse of the glory which awaits all the saints; for when they shall see Him as he is, they shall be like Him, and their vile bodies shall be changed into the likeness of his glorious body.

The mountain upon which this change in the appearance of the Lord took place, is supposed to be Mount Tabor, in Galilee. This mountain stands alone, and its top is not pointed like that of most mountains, but broad and flat, and therefore well-suited for a resting place. Its height is not great. In one hour it may be ascended. In this retired and lovely spot our Savior was praying (as Luke informs us) with three of his disciples, when his form underwent a most glorious alteration. Have not many of his servants in all ages experienced a like glorious change in their feelings when engaged in prayer? Has not the gloom that oppressed them when they began to pour out their souls before God, been succeeded by the light of heavenly day?

The Savior was attended on the mount by two heavenly visitants, Moses and Elijah. Like their Lord, both these holy men, when on earth, had fasted for forty days in the wilderness. But all their sufferings were over, while the bitterest sufferings of Jesus were yet to come. These prophets were well prepared, by what they had themselves endured, to comfort their Lord in the prospect of his agonizing death. That death was the subject of their discourse. The Savior could obtain no consolation from his apostles; their minds were still dazzled by hopes of earthly glory; but he could obtain the most tender sympathy from the discourse of his glorified servants.

The appearance of those departed saints on the mount, is calculated to comfort us also in the prospect of death. Are we not led from this fact, (as from many others,) to believe, that the spirits of the saints do immediately pass into glory, and that they do not wait for the general resurrection to be introduced into the presence of Christ?

How was it that Peter knew that the glorious people he beheld were Moses and Elijah? We are not informed by what means the discovery was made. But does not this circumstance give us reason to believe that we shall know the saints in glory - not only our own friends, whom we loved upon earth, but all the saints? How delightful is the prospect! What will be the raptures of fellowship with such a company! And yet this will be one of the lesser delights of heaven, for the presence of Jesus will be the chief.

Peter was delighted with the scene, and desired that it should never be interrupted. In the warmth of his feelings, he made an unwise request; he asked permission to prepare three tents, for the abode of Christ and his prophets. It was unwise, because Peter himself was not fit to continue in such a scene; flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; we must therefore all be changed, and this mortal must put on immortality. Besides this, Peter forgot the unwelcome truths that his Master had lately revealed; he forgot that Christ must be offered as a sacrifice for sin before he could enter into his glory, and that his disciples must partake of his sufferings, before they could partake of his glory. But though the request betrayed an ignorant mind, it showed an affectionate heart. Had not Peter's heart been full of love to his Lord, he would not have thought it such exceeding joy to behold Christ and his saints, and to hear their conversation. No ungodly man would feel satisfied in such company; he would feel anxious to escape to his earthly delights, and his congenial society. He would not say, "It is good for me to be here." It is a sign we have made one step in religion, if we really prefer the society of the godly to any other pleasure. Yet there may still be much that is weak and wavering in our hearts, as there was in Peter's. It is hard to attain to the feelings of Paul when he said, "I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us." (Romans 8:18.)

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Title: The voice of God on the Mount
Post by: nChrist on May 13, 2008, 10:23:46 AM
Devotional Commentary On The Gospels
by Favell Lee Mortimer ( 1802 - 1878 )

May 20

The voice of God on the Mount
Matthew 17:5-9

In the Old Testament, we read of God speaking to Israel from the top of Mount Sinai. On that occasion there was blackness, and darkness, and tempest, and the sound of a trumpet, and the voice of words; so terrible was the sight, that even Moses said, "I exceedingly fear and quake;" and so terrible was the sound, that Israel entreated that they might hear the voice of God no more. (Deuteronomy 5:25.)

In how different a manner God spoke to the three favored apostles on the summit of Mount Tabor! And what was the reason of this difference?

The words that the Father spoke tell us why he laid aside his terrors, and arrayed himself in the mildest beams of celestial glory. He was well pleased in his beloved Son. His wrath against a guilty world was displayed upon Mount Sinai; his delight in his righteous Son was manifested upon Mount Tabor. Neither was his favor shown to his Son alone, but to those three trembling apostles who loved that Son; for they also entered into the bright cloud. Why then were they so sore afraid? Why did they fall on their faces? Because, since man became a sinner, he has never been able to bear the manifestation of the glory of Jehovah. The smoke and the torments of hell are not the only sights that would overwhelm a mortal man; the brightness and the joys of heaven would be more than he could bear to behold. Now Peter perceived how unwisely he had spoken when he had requested always to abide on that mountain top. But God, who knew the weakness of his dying creatures, did not prolong the glorious scene. In a little while the apostles were left alone with Jesus. Though they felt his familiar hand, and heard his well-known voice, yet at first they could hardly believe that the heavenly vision was past. Mark records that they "looked round about, and saw no man any more, save Jesus, with themselves."

Who can conceive the feelings with which those three apostles descended the mount! They had seen heaven come down to earth; how could they return to earth again! They had beheld glorified saints; they had heard the voice of the eternal Father; they had witnessed the glories of their beloved, yet despised Master. Who can doubt that their hearts were burning with the desire to describe the wonderful scene to their brethren at the foot of the mount, and perhaps even to declare it to the proud enemies that continually assailed them with taunts and reproaches. But Jesus imposed silence upon them. He said, "Tell the vision to no man, until the Son of Man be risen again from the dead." He knew that at this time they would have been disbelieved, if they had related what they had seen. It was enough for these blessed disciples that they themselves had enjoyed a glimpse of celestial glory. The recollection would help to sustain their faith when they should behold their Lord agonizing and bleeding in the garden; for it is remarkable that Jesus chose the same men to be witnesses of his glory and of his agony.

And why did he distinguish these three above their brethren? Was it not because they were appointed to endure peculiar trials? The Lord foretold that James and John would drink of his cup of bitterness, and be baptized with his baptism of suffering; and he prepared Peter for the painful and ignominious death of the cross. Jesus knows beforehand what sufferings each of his servants will be called to endure, and he knows who most needs bright displays of his present glory, and near views of his past agonies. In acute suffering of any kind, the thoughts that most sustain the mind are the remembrance of Christ crucified, and the anticipation of beholding Christ glorified. How many have said, when in great pain, "What are my sufferings compared to the sufferings of Jesus for my sins!" How many when pressed down with sorrow have felt, "How soon will the sight of my glorious Redeemer make my present grief appear light as air!"

Title: Christ converses with his disciples respecting Elijah
Post by: nChrist on May 22, 2008, 11:30:08 AM
Devotional Commentary On The Gospels
by Favell Lee Mortimer ( 1802 - 1878 )

May 21

Christ converses with his disciples respecting Elijah
Matthew 17:10-13

As the disciples descended the Mount of Transfiguration, they ventured to enter into conversation with their Lord. They knew so well the condescension of their Master, that they even proposed a difficult question on a subject that perplexed them. It was this - "Why say the Scribes that Elijah must first come?" (that is, before the Messiah.) Their thoughts naturally dwelt upon the wonderful scene they had just beheld. They had seen the prophet Elijah. They remembered having heard their Scribes, or teachers, declare that God would send Elijah before his great and dreadful day. Nor had the Scribes been mistaken in this declaration, for it is contained in the last chapter of the Old Testament, in Malachi 4. Yet the appearance of Elijah on the Mount was not the real fulfillment of that prophecy. Our Lord himself explained this difficult subject, and declared that John the Baptist had been prophesied of under the name of Elijah. It is evident that this explanation surprised the disciples. Perhaps they had never heard that the angel had told Zacharias, (the father of John the Baptist,) that his expected son should come in the spirit and power of Elijah. There was a great resemblance between these two prophets; their characters, their offices, their habits, their afflictions, were similar. But in one point the difference between them was striking - their manner of departing out of this world; Elijah ascended, like a conqueror, in a chariot of fire; John was executed, like a criminal, in a prison. In this one point wherein John the Baptist differed from Elijah, he enjoyed the far greater honor of resembling his divine Lord.

The Savior, after alluding to the treatment John had received, added, "Likewise also shall the Son of Man suffer of them." The disciples were unwilling indeed to believe that their Master should suffer. Though John, who was a mortal man, might fall a victim to the malice of his enemies, they thought it impossible that the Son of God should thus end his glorious career. But the Jews always persecuted the living prophets. They venerated those who were no longer on earth; but they hated those who lived in their own day. The name of Elijah was much set by; but the name of the Baptist was despised. The Jews little imagined that the preacher in the wilderness, clad in rough garments, and followed by the poor among the people, was the representative of the illustrious, the glorified Elijah. Jesus truly said of John the Baptist, "They knew him not." Even so it is now. The world knows not the servants of God. They speak with reverence of some holy men who are dead, such as the apostles, the martyrs, the reformers; while they often treat with contempt many of the living who most resemble those departed saints.

In their own day, how were the apostles regarded? One of themselves declares that they were counted as "the filth of the earth," and as "the offscouring of all things." (1 Corinthians 4:13.) And how were the martyrs esteemed in their day? When that undaunted sufferer, Bennet, was burning at the stake near Exeter, in the reign of our eighth Henry, the men and women who stood around, ran with the alacrity of demons, to gather either a stick, or a bundle of furze; that each might have some share in the death of one whom they esteemed a "vile heretic."* Truly "they knew him not." * See English Martyrology, by Charlotte Elizabeth, vol. 1 p. 86.

Title: The afflicted father
Post by: nChrist on May 22, 2008, 11:32:03 AM
Devotional Commentary On The Gospels
by Favell Lee Mortimer ( 1802 - 1878 )

May 22

The afflicted father
Mark 9:14-27

When the Lord reached the foot of the Mount, he beheld a scene of sin, and sorrow, and suffering. There were the scornful scribes, the weak and wavering disciples, the poor demoniac, and the afflicted father, with the wondering multitude gathered around them. How unlike was this scene from that which the three apostles had just witnessed on the top of the mountain! There all was light and love, perfect bliss, and ineffable joy. Angels behold the same painful contrast, for as they gaze upon the glory of God, they also watch over the sorrows of men.

It seems as if our Lord must have retained a measure of brightness upon his countenance; for it is said that the people were greatly amazed when they saw him, and it is difficult to conjecture any other cause for their amazement. At that moment might be seen on one spot the effects of heavenly influence, and hellish power. The Son of God still shone with some lingering beams of the Father's glory; while the afflicted youth was reduced by Satan to the most degraded condition. How affecting was the sight! A human being, made in the image of God, lay on the ground, and wallowed foaming. Each of us stands now between two opposite states. Shall we ascend to a fairer world, where Christ and his glorified saints enjoy unspeakable bliss? or shall we sink into that place where the slaves of Satan suffer every sort of degradation and misery? Now is the time to apply to Jesus, as the sorrowful father did, that we may obtain deliverance from our great enemy. The same power that released this youth from Satan's chain, can free every other captive.

The case was a very inveterate one. It was one of long standing, and great malignity; therefore it was the better suited to display the Almighty power of Jesus. He loves to save where it is most evident that no other hand but His can afford help.

The prayers of the father showed a weak, though a true faith. "If you can do anything, have compassion on us and help us." A severe master would have rejected such a prayer as this. But Jesus cherishes the tenderest bud of living faith. He answered, "If you can believe, all things are possible to him that believes." The poor man was encouraged by this assurance to offer up a still more earnest prayer than before. He cried out with tears, "Lord, I believe; help my unbelief." Did not the Holy Spirit dictate this prayer? "' We know not what we should pray for as we ought; but the Spirit itself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered." (Romans 8:26.) Have our hearts ever been so full of good desires that we could only speak a few words? And were these words half choked with tears and sobs? God has heard those prayers. He never despises the broken and contrite heart. He attended to the prayer of this poor man.

Satan showed his malice against the youth who was going to be delivered from his power. The evil spirit rent the youth sore, before he came out of him, and he left him as one dead. Many have found that Satan has pursued them with the most painful temptations, just as they were escaping from his bondage. The tenderness of Jesus is as striking as the malice of Satan. The Lord took the poor youth by the hand and lifted him up.

It was the father's faith that had obtained the restoration of his son. Here is an encouragement for parents. If Jesus showed so much compassion to one who prayed for a bodily cure for his son, how much more must he feel for those who implore spiritual blessings for their children!

Title: Christ speaks to his disciples on the power of faith
Post by: nChrist on May 22, 2008, 11:33:49 AM
Devotional Commentary On The Gospels
by Favell Lee Mortimer ( 1802 - 1878 )

May 23

Christ speaks to his disciples on the power of faith
Matthew 17:19-21

It was very right in the disciples to inquire why they could not cast out the evil spirit. Whenever we have been foiled in an attempt to overcome sin, we ought to inquire what is the reason of the failure, and we shall find that the cause was the unbelief of our hearts. Perhaps before the Lord came and showed his power in casting out the spirit, the disciples thought that the obstacle to success was in the father. But it had been clearly proved that the father was in a fit state of mind to receive the mercy he implored. The hindrance was in the disciples' hearts - they had not faith enough in the power of God to enable them to exercise the miraculous gifts that had been bestowed upon them.

The Lord, after having told them of their unbelief, added these remarkable words - "If you have faith, as a grain of mustard-seed, you shall say to this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place, and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you." It is supposed that our Savior in this declaration made use of the words of a proverb, well understood among the Jews. A mustard-seed was a term used to represent a very small quantity; because a mustard-seed is the smallest of all seeds, in proportion to the size of the tree it produces. A mountain was a term used to represent a very great difficulty; because a mountain cannot be removed by the power of man. The meaning of our Savior's words appears therefore to be this - "If you have even a small degree of real faith concerning the gifts that I have bestowed upon you, you will be able to perform astonishing miracles." It was the duty of the disciples to believe that God would help them to work miracles. And why was it their duty? Because Christ had promised to enable them to perform them. Faith is the belief of God's promises. It is not our duty to believe that God will help us to work miracles. And why not? Because God has not promised to give us that power. But he has given us other promises, exceedingly great and precious; and if we possess true faith, which, like a mustard-seed, will grow continually, we shall at length be able to overcome every difficulty that stands in the way of our salvation.

What difficulties has God promised to enable us to overcome? He has promised to enable us to overcome the world. "Who is he who overcomes the world, but he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?" (1 John 5:4.) He has promised to enable us to overcome the body of death, that is sin. Paul said, "O wretched man that I am, who shall deliver me from the body of this death? I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord." (Romans 7:24-25.) He has promised to enable us to overcome the devil - "Resist the devil, and he will flee from you." God will fulfill all his promises to us, if we have faith. And how is faith to be obtained, and increased? By prayer, and, in some cases, by fasting also. It appears the disciples had neglected to pray and fast. The evil spirit that possessed the youth was of a peculiarly malicious and violent kind, but still even that kind might be cast out by prayer and fasting. Let us therefore never complain that we cannot overcome any sin; for if we prayed earnestly we should obtain help according to our need. There is nothing too hard for God to do, and there is nothing too hard for believers to do, when called and assisted by the Lord. Paul declared, "I can do all things through Christ which strengthens me."

Title: Christ foretells his sufferings
Post by: nChrist on May 22, 2008, 11:35:22 AM
Devotional Commentary On The Gospels
by Favell Lee Mortimer ( 1802 - 1878 )

May 24

Christ foretells his sufferings
Luke 9:43-46

The Lord Jesus took every opportunity to prepare his disciples for his approaching death. He knew what a fearful trial it would prove to their weak faith. When men succeeded in apprehending him, and in crucifying him, it would appear to human eyes as if he could not be the Son of God. How could he preserve his disciples' faith from failing at that very time? By showing them that he knew beforehand all he should suffer.

It is in the same way that the Lord now seeks to preserve the minds of his followers from discouragement. Does it perplex a young convert to find that true religion is despised by the great and the learned? Is it not written, "Not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble are called?" - Is he staggered when he detects hypocrites among the professed followers of Christ? Is it not written, "Not everyone that says unto me, 'Lord, Lord,' shall enter the kingdom of heaven?" - Is he dismayed by meeting with numerous temptations and difficulties in his own path? - Is it not written, "In the world you shall have tribulation?" Thus the Lord has mercifully prepared his people for every trial of faith that can come upon them.

Yet there is need to say continually to them, "Let these sayings sink down into your ears." We are disposed to pass over lightly those things which we do not like to hear. The disciples could not bear to hear of their Lord's painful and ignominious death. Each display of his power and glory filled them with fresh hope that nothing but success and triumph awaited their beloved Master. Therefore, after every such display he reverted to the unwelcome, but profitable subject. When descending from the Mount of Transfiguration, he spoke of his sufferings; when he had wrought one of his most splendid miracles, (the deliverance of the furious demoniac,) he dwelt upon the mournful topic of his death. Yet the disciples could not receive this truth into their hearts. They believed it in a degree, for Matthew says, "They were exceeding sorry," but they believed it in a very faint degree. Whence arose this dullness of understanding? The Lord needed not to impress all truths upon them so repeatedly. They understood that he was the Son of God, and that he was able to conquer all his enemies. They understood these joyful truths, because they loved them; but they understood not those mournful truths, because they did not love them. Their hearts were still full of worldly desires. Instead of being humbled by the want of faith which they had lately betrayed, they disputed, as they followed their Master, which should be the greatest.

If our understandings are dull in spiritual things, it is because our hearts are sinful. Every wrong feeling is like a film over the eye of the mind. Until we are converted we can see nothing of the glory of God; but even after conversion we see indistinctly; because much sin remains in our hearts. If we would grow in the knowledge of Christ, we must grow in grace. Peter concludes his second epistle with these words - "Grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To whom be glory both now and forever. Amen."

When God would teach his servants, he often first sends them afflictions to subdue their sins, and then he instructs them in his heavenly truths.

Title: Christ pays tribute
Post by: nChrist on May 22, 2008, 11:36:53 AM
Devotional Commentary On The Gospels
by Favell Lee Mortimer ( 1802 - 1878 )

May 25

Christ pays tribute
Matthew 17:24-27

We now find our blessed Lord returned to his own city, Capernaum, and to the house where he generally lodged. The collectors of tribute-money called at that lowly abode, and seeing Peter near it, asked him whether his Master would pay the sum required of him. This tribute was not to be paid to Caesar, the emperor, but to the priests, for the sacrifices of the temple. Every person above twenty years of age was required to pay yearly half a shekel, or about one shilling and threepence of our money. The Lord Jesus, as the Son of God, might have excused himself from paying this tribute for the service of his own Father, because kings do not demand taxes from their own children - yet he would not use this privilege, because he knew that it would be made a matter of accusation against him. The world would have misunderstood his motives. They would have suspected him of indifference to the service of the temple. He knew this was an occasion on which to exercise his miraculous powers. His divine attributes now shone forth in a most glorious manner. He displayed his Omniscience, for he described the circumstances of a certain fish then swimming in the lake of Gennesaret. He showed his Omnipotence, for he caused that very fish to come to Peter's hook. He showed also his love for his disciple; as the piece of money found in the fish was a whole shekel, (in value about half-a-crown,) and would suffice to pay Peter's tribute as well as his Master's.

This miracle was calculated to strengthen the apostle's weak faith under approaching trials. It was evident that He, who knew all about an insignificant fish, must foresee the manner of his own death; it was evident that He, who could direct the movements of that little animal in the depths of the sea, could escape from his own enemies, if he pleased to exert his Almighty power.

And surely this miracle must be a comfort to all God's people. The most minute circumstances concerning ourselves are seen by that eye which discerned the little fish in the water - the smallest incidents in our lives are ordered by that hand which brought the fish to Peter's hook. Why then should we fear? What evil can betide us, if we belong to Christ, and trust in him? We know not what a day may bring forth; but He does. We may (like him) be reduced to our last piece of money, but he can supply us with more at the needful moment. How can any be so unwise, as not to seek the favor of the Governor of the whole universe? What a privilege it is to belong to his family! What a comfort to be under his fatherly care!

Title: Christ teaches humility by the example of a child
Post by: nChrist on May 27, 2008, 02:27:54 PM
Devotional Commentary On The Gospels
by Favell Lee Mortimer ( 1802 - 1878 )

May 26

Christ teaches humility by the example of a child
Mark 9:33-37

It is interesting to hear what the Lord Jesus said to the multitude in his public discourses; but it is still more interesting to hear what he said to his disciples in his private conversations. In these retired scenes we behold, and admire, not only his wisdom, but also his patience.

How displeasing it must have been to the Lord, while he was talking of his sufferings, to know that his disciples, who were accompanying him on the road, were disputing who should be the greatest! Yet he patiently waited for a seasonable opportunity of reproving them.

When he was come into the house he asked them, "What was it that you disputed among yourselves by the way?" Their own consciences told them that they had acted wrong, and they were ashamed to acknowledge their fault to their Master. What a dignity the Lord preserved among his most familiar friends! Though gentle and condescending, he made them feel ashamed of sin.

Seated among his disciples, as a father among his children, he began to explain to them their error. What was it he disapproved? It was the feeling whence the dispute arose. It was the desire to be first. Eve ate the fruit with a desire to be as God. We, her children, inherit this wicked desire. The grace of God alone can root it out of our hearts.

In order to make a stronger impression upon the disciples' minds, the Lord took a little child, and set him in the midst of them, as an example of humility. A very little child has not understanding enough to desire to be first; the thought never enters into its mind. It follows its mother from place to place, caring not whether she be a queen or a peasant. It never looks for admiration, and shrinks from the notice of all, but its beloved parents and nurses. The Christian, also, ought to be indifferent to earthly distinctions. He is, in fact, a pardoned criminal, and should be too deeply penitent for his transgressions against his Lord, to wish for honor among his fellows.

Observe what affection Christ showed to the young child. He took him in his arms, and while he still held the little creature in his embrace, thus spoke to his disciples - "Whoever shall receive one of such children in my name, receives me." The humble, the contrite, and the penitent, are such children. If we wish to please our Lord, we shall show great tenderness to his humble disciples. Whatever crimes they may have committed in past times, we shall forget them, because the blood of Christ has blotted them out. It is not those who have committed the fewest open sins that God loves best; but those who are the least in their own eyes; these are his dearest children. It is our honor to be allowed to comfort them.

Title: Christ directs disciples not to forbid the man who cast out devils in his name
Post by: nChrist on May 27, 2008, 02:30:30 PM
Devotional Commentary On The Gospels
by Favell Lee Mortimer ( 1802 - 1878 )

May 27

Christ directs his disciples not to forbid the man who cast out devils in his name
Mark 9:38-42

When our Savior was instructing his disciples, he permitted them to ask him questions, and to express their doubts. While he was teaching them the duty of humility, a doubt occurred to John's mind respecting his own conduct on a late occasion.

It was frank and ingenuous in the apostle to express this doubt to his Master. He suspected that he had acted wrong, but he did not on that account conceal his conduct. How apt we are to conceal from the friends we most revere, those actions which we fear have been faulty while, if we were frankly to acknowledge them, we might obtain valuable counsel.

Though it was John only who mentioned the circumstance, yet it appears that all the disciples had united in forbidding the man to cast out devils. Nine of them had very lately, from unbelief, failed in working a miracle; and yet they ventured to forbid a man whose faith was evidently greater than their own. Did not this conduct betray much presumption? How dreadful, too, was the calamity from which this man released his fellow-creatures, even from Satan's bondage! Could the disciples see the poor demoniac just before writhing and foaming, now peaceful and thoughtful, and forbid a brother to attempt to deliver others from their sufferings? Yes, they were so blinded by one false notion, that they overlooked all other considerations. They imagined their Master would set up a temporal kingdom, and that it would consist of those only who were called (as they had been) to follow him from place to place. But our Lord had servants who were not required, or even permitted to follow him, as the apostles did; yet they also were dear to him. They were dear to him, because they would not lightly speak evil of him. The world spoke evil of Christ, of his words, of his works, of his people. Those who did not speak evil of him, spoke well of him; for there is no such thing as being neutral in the cause of Christ.

What did Jesus mean by these words - "He who is not against us, is on our part?" He meant, that there is no such thing as being neutral in religion. All men are on one side, or the other. There are many who wish to keep neutral. They are afraid of being on the side of Satan, but they have not resolved to be on the side of Jesus. The devil reckons these among his most trusty servants; such cowardly spirits are less likely to escape from him than those who openly do his work.

But the man who cast out devils in the name of Jesus was not one of those undecided characters. At a time when all the rich and great were joined together against the Son of God, he was not ashamed to acknowledge him. Such are the men respecting whom our Savior declared, that those who give them a cup of cold water shall be blessed. How careful we ought to be never to discourage the least of God's servants! They may not belong to our party, but they may belong to Christ. They do belong to Christ, if, instead of speaking lightly of him, they take delight in praising him before an ungodly world; and especially, if by the power of his word, they release sinners from the bondage of Satan. We must wish those to prosper, who convert sinners from the error of their ways, save souls from death, and hide a multitude of sins.

Title: Christ warns his disciples against the unquenchable fire, and never-dying worm
Post by: nChrist on May 27, 2008, 02:32:08 PM
Devotional Commentary On The Gospels
by Favell Lee Mortimer ( 1802 - 1878 )

May 28

Christ warns his disciples against the unquenchable fire, and never-dying worm
Mark 9:43-50

The Lord ended his private conversation with his own disciples in this dreadful manner. He knew that ambition was not cast out of their hearts. It was ambition that led them to dispute who should be the greatest, and that caused them to forbid the man who followed them not. They were full of self-importance, and of worldly desires. Though they did possess some living faith and some sincere love; yet how weak was that faith, how cold was that love!

Their Master knew that if they continued to cherish a worldly and proud spirit, they could not obtain a place in his kingdom; therefore he earnestly warned them to mortify the sinful desires of their hearts. He compared those desires to hands, feet, and eyes; because it is as painful for a person to mortify a darling passion of the heart, as to cut off a precious limb from the body.

Are there any desires in our hearts that must be subdued in order that we may escape eternal fire? Though we may have tasted of God's grace, yet we may need these warnings. Do we desire to be much praised, and highly thought of? Do we desire to rise to a higher station than that we now fill? Do we impatiently desire to possess some earthly good which God has seen fit to withhold? Are our affections engrossed by some creature, so that we are more anxious to please that creature than to please God? Let us carefully examine our own hearts, and then implore God to give us strength to strive against these earthly passions. We need not (as Papists often do) reject the gifts of God, because we are prone to abuse them. We need not dress in sackcloth, live upon the coarsest fare, or withdraw from human society, in order to become humble. The evil lies not in the objects that surround us, but in our own hearts. The struggle against sin will be severe and painful, but the danger is so terrific that every effort should be made. An unquenchable fire, an undying worm, must be the eternal portion of those who continue wilfully to harbor sinful passions in their hearts. Had the disciples persisted in their sins, they would have perished. One of them did persist in sin; he still indulged in the love of money, and he perished. He was the son of perdition.

Our Savior, in concluding his admonition, uttered these remarkable words - "Everyone shall be salted with salt." What did these words mean? The sacrifices, offered in the temple, were salted with salt. (Leviticus 2:13.) Thus the condemned in hell will be kept from being consumed, even as things are preserved from corruption by salt. God's wrath will be as salt, to render them capable of enduring eternal sufferings. But God's grace is also like salt - it preserves the soul; therefore Jesus said, "Have salt in yourselves." It was grace the apostles needed to keep them from destruction.

Then our Savior concluded with these words - "Have peace one with another." No longer dispute which shall be the greatest, but love and serve each other. If we have the salt of grace in our hearts, we shall have the fruit of peace in our lives. "Only by pride comes contention." (Proverbs 13:10.) Let us crucify at the cross of our dying Lord all those evil passions that disturb our peace now, and which would, if cherished, destroy our souls.

Title: Christ declares how precious the little ones are in the Father's sight
Post by: nChrist on May 27, 2008, 02:33:48 PM
Devotional Commentary On The Gospels
by Favell Lee Mortimer ( 1802 - 1878 )

May 29

Christ declares how precious the little ones are in the Father's sight
Matthew 18:10-14

These verses form part of a most interesting conversation that our Lord held with his own disciple in his house at Capernaum. Some passages in that conversation are calculated to alarm the stoutest heart; but others are of the most soothing and endearing nature. How delightful it is to know that God regards with the tenderest love even the little ones of his family!

These little ones are true believers, however weak in faith, and imperfect in knowledge. They have angels for their servants. "Their angels do always behold the face of my Father which is in heaven." We understand what is meant by this verse, from the declaration of Paul concerning angels - "Are they not all ministering spirits, sent forth to minister to them who shall be heirs of salvation?" The angels are ministering spirits, or servants - they serve the heirs of salvation - believers upon earth. They may be compared to the nurses of infant princes; for they wait upon those who shall hereafter be greater than themselves. Believers shall, in some respects, rise above angels in the world of glory; they shall stand nearer the throne, and sing that song which none can learn, but those who are redeemed from the earth, even the song of redeeming love.

Do we believe that each saint has angels for his servants? Can we then despise any saint? An unconverted monarch may have lords and ladies to attend on him; but a converted beggar has angels to wait on him. How much higher is his state! These angels shall shortly convey his soul into the assembly of the saints, and at the last day shall separate him from the wicked forever and ever.

But there is a still higher light in which we may view the saints; - as those whom Christ came to seek and to save. Each saint is the purchase of Christ's blood. As the shepherd with anxious care seeks for his wandering sheep; so the Son of God, by his Spirit, has sought for each believer when wandering among the dark mountains of sin and death, and has brought him into the fold of grace, and has bidden angels rejoice over him. If we ourselves are among the children of God, we have been the objects of all this care. There is none of us that has not gone astray; the holy angels alone have never wandered. We never should have desired to return, had not God sent his Spirit into our hearts. We never should have been able to return, had he not borne us home in his own loving arms. Having taken all this care for us, will he permit us to perish? No! it is not the will of our Father in heaven that his little ones should perish.

But for what purpose did Jesus speak of his love to his little ones on this occasion? To remind the disciples of the love they ought to bear to all the saints. The ambition still cherished in their hearts, led them to despise many other believers, especially those who followed not with them; therefore their Master set forth in their hearing the tender love his Father bears to all true believers. Could they despise those whom the Father honored? Whenever we see a believer, however weak and mean, we should consider, "Here is one whom angels serve, whom Jesus came down from heaven to save, whom the Father will not suffer to perish, but whom He guards with his all-seeing eye."

Title: Christ directs his disciples how to treat an offending brother
Post by: nChrist on May 27, 2008, 02:36:18 PM
Devotional Commentary On The Gospels
by Favell Lee Mortimer ( 1802 - 1878 )

May 30

Christ directs his disciples how to treat an offending brother
Matthew 18:15-17

What a privilege we possess in having these directions how to behave towards a fellow-Christian who has done us wrong! But how seldom are any of these rules observed! How much more apt we are, either to indulge in sullen spleen, or to break out in angry invectives, than mildly to remonstrate with an offending brother! We ought to go, in the first place, and tell him of his fault alone. That would be the most probable way to win him. Perhaps we might discover that we had suspected him unjustly; or, if not, that he was ready to change his conduct, when he found that it displeased us.

Directions like these are given in Leviticus 19:17-18; "You shall not hate your brother in your heart; you shall in any way rebuke your brother, and not suffer sin before him. You shall not avenge, nor bear any grudge against the children of your people."

But if the offender should persist in his evil conduct, we are directed to take two or three people with us; and if he should still persevere, to tell his fault to the Church, that is, to the public congregation of believers; and then the people we had taken with us would be witnesses of the truth of our report; so that, through them, our words would be established. If the offender should refuse to obey the church, then he must be cast out of the society of believers, and not permitted to partake of the Lord's Supper.

We find, from the epistles, that the apostles and the early Christians pronounced this sentence of exclusion, when great offences were committed by professed Christians. We read of a man in 1 Corinthians 5, with regard to whom Paul gives these directions - "In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, when you are gathered together, and my spirit, with the power of the Lord Jesus Christ, to deliver such an one unto Satan, for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus."

Some, on hearing these directions, may reply, "How can we follow these commands?" But do we follow them as far as we can? When a professing Christian behaves ill to us, do we in the first place tell him his fault alone? There are many called Christians who take delight in exposing the faults of their brethren. Sometimes they will even tell them to the world. The Church weeps over iniquity, and prays for the sinner; the world rejoices, and blasphemes the name of Christ.

When we have used all the means in our power to reclaim an offending brother, and all the means have failed, then it is our duty to show by our conduct that we disapprove the course he is pursuing. Whether the offence is committed against ourselves, or against another, or against God alone, we must not encourage sin. It is better that the world should know of the sin, than that they should think that Christians approve of it. The first missionaries in Tahiti acted on this principle. They refused to hold communion with one of their number, named Lewis, because he had married a heathen woman. The backslider speedily came to an dreadful end - he was cut off suddenly by an unknown hand.

When an offender repents of his sin, then we ought "to forgive him, and to comfort him, lest perhaps such a one should be swallowed up with overmuch sorrow." (2 Corinthians 2:7.)

Title: Christ promises to hear the united prayers of his disciples
Post by: nChrist on May 27, 2008, 02:38:01 PM
Devotional Commentary On The Gospels
by Favell Lee Mortimer ( 1802 - 1878 )

May 31

Christ promises to hear the united prayers of his disciples
Matthew 18:19-20

Do the Scriptures contain a more encouraging promise than this? "Where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them."

There are some promises which are addressed to the apostles in particular. It was to them that Christ said, "Whatever you shall bind on earth, shall be bound in heaven; and whatever you shall loose on earth, shall be loosed in heaven." That promise has been fulfilled; the apostles' words have the same authority as those of Christ himself. Their writings form part of the Holy Scriptures. But did Christ speak to the apostles alone, when he said, "If two of you shall agree on earth as touching anything that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of my Father which is in heaven?" This promise is ours as much as theirs - for it is added, "Where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them." It is not said where two or three of you are gathered together, but where two or three. It may be two or three apostles, or it may be two or three peasants, or two or three women, or two or three children; yet, if they are gathered together in the name of Christ, he will be in the midst of them to bless them, and answer them. Praying together greatly helps Christians to love each other. If those who live beneath one roof would meet together, not only in the regular family worship, but also by two or three, they would often find their mutual love increase, and they would live in greater harmony, and enjoy more happiness, and obtain richer blessings.

There are some petitions which are especially suited to be presented to God by several of his children in united prayer. If one has committed a fault, then he may confess it to his brethren, and ask them to accompany him to the throne of grace to plead for mercy. James, in his epistle, says, "Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that you may be healed." It is when we wander from God, and most need his mercy, that we are the least able to implore it. Then how comforting it is to have a Christian brother to lead us back to God!

Sometimes a particular favor is desired by the members of one family. It may be the safe return of an absent brother, or the conversion of an unbelieving relation. Six youthful sisters have met together every morning to implore a blessing upon an aged parent. They have prayed that the light of truth might shine into his benighted soul.

When God answers the prayers of several believers, his name is more glorified than when hie answers the prayer of one alone; for then there are several witnesses of his truth and faithfulness.

Towards the end of the last century, six or seven pious ministers of the Church of England, (Mr. Romaine being one,) agreed to meet together at a certain hour to entreat God to raise up more faithful preachers of the gospel in their own church. They could not all meet in one place, for many of them were separated from each other by great distances, but they all met at one time at the throne of grace. Before their course was finished, they beheld the answer to their prayers. Instead of six or seven, there were six or seven hundred clergymen of the Church of England, of like spirit with themselves.

Title: The parable of the unforgiving servant
Post by: nChrist on May 27, 2008, 02:40:03 PM
Devotional Commentary On The Gospels
by Favell Lee Mortimer ( 1802 - 1878 )

June 1

The parable of the unforgiving servant
Matthew 18:21-35

How odious that servant appears, who after having received such exceeding benefits from his Lord, went out, and acted with such rigor towards his fellow-servant! Yet that unfeeling servant affords but a faint picture of the unforgiving sinner. For what was the obligation that he had received, compared to that under which we lie to God! His Lord had forgiven him a debt of ten thousand talents; but we are not informed, that in order to do this, his Lord had made any painful sacrifice. But before our Lord could forgive us, He was constrained by his own holiness to find an atonement for our sins, and that atonement was the blood of his Son. Now if after having received this gift, we should go forth, and willingly retain any unkind feeling against those who have done us wrong, how great would be our guilt!

We should also remember how infinitely greater the debt is that we owe to God, than any debt our fellow-creatures can owe to us. In the parable the disproportion is immense; two millions of pounds in the one case, and three pounds in the other; (according to the calculations of some;) but there is a still greater disparity between our debt to God, and man's to us.

Consider these two circumstances, which most aggravate offences. The repeating of them often, and after having received great benefits. Have not our offences against God these two aggravations in an eminent degree? Who can have provoked us so OFTEN as we have provoked God? from our birth until this moment, we have not ceased to sin against him in thought, word, and deed; and yet he is still willing to be reconciled to us. Who can have received such benefits from us, as we have received from God - not only temporal blessings, but the offer of everlasting life, and the gift of his Son!

If we had a more just idea of the nature and extent of our transgressions against him, we should be ashamed of thinking of the sins of men against us. Indeed, perhaps, in our quarrels, we may be most in fault, and may really owe more than is owed to us; or though we may have been ungratefully treated by one, we ourselves may have ungratefully treated some other person, so that on the whole nothing may be owing to us. How it would quiet the tumult of our passions, if, when disposed to think of the injuries we have received from our fellows, we were to turn our attention to the insults we have offered to God!

But perhaps we do not feel that God has forgiven these insults. Perhaps we are still troubled by the dread of his anger for our past transgressions. Nothing would soften our hearts so much, as a sense of his forgiving love. Let us pray for this blessed assurance. Then we shall feel the force of the apostle's command, "Forbearing one another and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any - even as Christ forgave you, so also do you."

Title: Christ sends out seventy disciples
Post by: nChrist on June 02, 2008, 12:28:29 AM
Devotional Commentary On The Gospels
by Favell Lee Mortimer ( 1802 - 1878 )

June 2

Christ sends out seventy disciples
Luke 10:1-16

This charge to the seventy disciples very much resembles the charge to the twelve apostles, that we read some time ago. As it was necessary that the twelve apostles should be generally with their Master, Jesus appointed seventy other people to preach the gospel in various parts of the land.

He sent them to every place where he himself would come. Still he sends his faithful servants before his face. When they appear, we may expect to see their Master coming soon afterwards in the power of the Spirit. But as seventy men were too few to instruct all those who were perishing through ignorance, Jesus commanded them to pray that God would send forth laborers into his harvest. Is there not cause still to offer this prayer? There is too small a number of ministers and missionaries scattered over the world. When the Sabbath dawns, how few rejoice to see its beams!

Before the seventy went forth, Jesus informed them what to expect in their journeys. They were to expect sufferings, (v. 3,) "I send you forth as lambs in the midst of wolves." They were to expect their message to be sometimes rejected, (v. 10,) "Into whatever city you enter, and they receive you not." Those men who resembled wolves, would ill-treat the lambs of Christ. They were to expect that God would incline some to receive them, and to be kind to them. Were all to frown upon them, their spirits would be utterly cast down. But the Lord is too tender a Father to suffer his children to remain without any encouragement. At the needful moment a friendly voice cheers, and a friendly hand sustains.

The Lord Jesus also instructed his disciples what to do in their journeys. They were to carry no provision nor clothes with them, but to trust to God's promise to provide for them, (v. 4,) "Carry neither purse, nor bag, nor shoes." Missionaries who lived after Christ's ascension, thankfully received gifts from their converts before they set out to teach heathen nations. (See 3 John 1:5-6.) It is the duty of Christians to provide for the wants of missionaries; but these seventy disciples were placed in peculiar circumstances, and received peculiar aid. They were to use haste in delivering their message, and to lose no time in showing useless civilities. "Salute no man by the way." They were to pronounce blessings on everyone who received them, saying, "Peace be unto you." They were to accept the food offered to them; but they were not to seek better fare by going from house to house. They were to confirm the truth of their message by healing the sick. They were to warn their enemies by shaking off the dust from their feet in departing from their city.

The Lord concluded his instructions by denouncing woes upon the favored cities of Chorazin, Bethsaida, and Capernaum. The traveler can witness how the Lord's predictions have been fulfilled in the temporal destruction of those cities, for their very names have perished. Why did he speak to the seventy concerning the guilt of those cities? To remind them how he himself, the Son of God, had been rejected by the cities in which he most frequently preached, and thus to prepare them for similar treatment. Our proud hearts are ready to rebel when we find that our instructions produce no effect upon the hearts of men. But can we repine at want of success, when we remember how our Lord seemed to toil in vain? Yet, there were a few who received him; the woman of Tyre, the weeping sinner, and the sorrowful father who cried, "Help my unbelief." How delightful to be permitted to strengthen one trembling believer, or to reclaim one wretched wanderer!

And this we should remember for our comfort, that if we do not behold the fruit of our own labors, those who come after us will reap the benefit; for the word of the Lord shall not return unto him void.

Title: The brethren of Christ reproach him
Post by: nChrist on June 02, 2008, 12:30:36 AM
Devotional Commentary On The Gospels
by Favell Lee Mortimer ( 1802 - 1878 )

June 3

The brethren of Christ reproach him
John 7:1-13

Such was the conduct of sinners to the Lord of glory when he was upon earth. His brethren (that is, his relatives) refused to believe in him, and treated him with scorn. They ventured to dictate to him who possessed all wisdom, saying, "Depart hence, and go into Judea, that your disciples also may see the works that you do." And they insolently hinted, that if he were really a great prophet, he would not remain in retirement; for they said, "There is no man does anything in secret, and he himself seeks to be known openly." How trying such conduct in relatives must have been! We know that it is easier to bear unkindness from strangers, than from near and dear kindred. But if the Lord suffered in this manner, his people ought to be patient under the same trials.

And how did the world feel towards Jesus? How did the rich, the great, the learned esteem him? They hated him; they hated the express image of the Father; they hated the brightness of his glory. And why did they hate so lovely a being? Because he testified that their works were evil. The wicked cannot bear to be reproved. The most amiable behavior cannot secure a faithful Christian from the world's hatred. But is it not an honor to share the reproach of the Son of God?

And what did the people think of Jesus? They were divided in their opinions. Some said, "He is a good man." What faint praise to bestow on him, who was goodness itself! Was this all that they would say for him who was the fairest among ten thousand, and altogether lovely? Yes, they were ashamed to say more than "He is a good man;" while others dared to accuse him of deceiving the people. Thus have the servants of God been faintly praised, and falsely accused in all ages. How little worth must popular esteem be, when it is so often given to the worst of men, and withheld from the best!

How bright do the perfections of the Lord shine forth when viewed in contrast with the base qualities of human creatures! The Son of God remained unmoved in the midst of all the conflicting storms of human passions. His eyes were directed to his Father, whose will was his only guide, whose favor was his greatest joy. He met his brethren's insinuations by the calm and dignified reply, "My time is not yet come." He knew the times that the Father had appointed for all his actions. The time for him to go forth to meet his enemies, was not yet come. It came at last, and then he set his face as a flint, and boldly said, "I am he." But until that time arrived, he avoided danger. Jesus knew all things that were coming upon him. We, like Paul, must always confess that wherever we go, we know not the things that shall befall us there; but, like him, we may also say, "We know that all things work together for good to them that love God."

The Christian waits the Lord's time, while unknown, and welcomes it, when known. The holy martyr Bradford languished long in prison, not knowing the day appointed for his execution, but patiently waiting the Lord's time. When he knew it, how joyfully he welcomed it! One afternoon the keeper's wife suddenly came up to him, troubled, and almost breathless, saying, "O Master Bradford, I come to bring you heavy news." - "What is it?" said he. "Tomorrow you must be burned, and your chain is now a buying." The martyr put off his cap, and lifting up his eyes to heaven, said, "I thank God for it. I have looked for the same a long time, and therefore it comes not to me suddenly, but as a thing waited for every day and hour. The Lord make me worthy thereof."

Title: Christ defends himself for healing on the Sabbath day
Post by: nChrist on June 02, 2008, 12:32:14 AM
Devotional Commentary On The Gospels
by Favell Lee Mortimer ( 1802 - 1878 )

June 4

Christ defends himself for healing on the Sabbath day
John 7:14-29

In these verses we have a fresh instance of the insulting manner in which Jesus was treated upon earth.

He was despised for his want of a learned education. "How knows this man letters?" exclaimed the Jews scornfully, "having never learned!" Soon afterwards their insolence increased, and they cried, "You have a devil." This treatment gave Jesus an opportunity of displaying his meekness. Every circumstance that befalls us affords the opportunity of cultivating some grace. Disappointment affords the opportunity of exercising resignation; enjoyment of showing gratitude; when we are praised, then is the time for humility; when we are insulted, then is the time for meekness; every temptation to sin furnishes an occasion of manifesting faithfulness to God.

Jesus showed not only great meekness, but also great wisdom, in his dealings with perverse sinners. He knew what accusation they had against him, namely, that on the Sabbath-day he had healed the impotent man who lay by the pool. With wonderful skill he unveiled their inconsistency in accusing him of breaking the Sabbath by performing a work of mercy; for he said that even they themselves performed the ceremonies of Moses' law on the Sabbath-day. How easy it is for Jesus to show men the deceitfulness of their pretenses! At the last day those who profess to have the best motives for doing the worst things, will be confounded and speechless in the presence of their Judge.

What ignorance those people betrayed who said that Jesus could not be the promised Christ, because they knew whence he was. They imagined they knew whence he was; but they were mistaken; they did not know he came from God. So Jesus answered them by a question; for the words in verse 28 should be regarded as a question, "Do you both know me and do you know whence I am?" By this he meant to say, "You think you know whence I am, but you do not know."

Then Jesus added these words respecting his Father, "I know him!" How happy are they who can truly say of the Father, "I know him;" for the world does not know him, and no man can know him, except Jesus reveal Himself to his soul. But the meek and lowly Savior is willing to teach all those who desire to know his Father. He came into the world "to bring us to God."

Do we desire to know God? Is this our chief desire? It may appear that we can pass away our time, and enjoy ourselves without knowing God; but what should we do at the last day if God should say, "I never knew you, O you that work iniquity!"

Title: Christ speaks of going where his enemies could not come
Post by: nChrist on June 02, 2008, 12:34:29 AM
Devotional Commentary On The Gospels
by Favell Lee Mortimer ( 1802 - 1878 )

June 5

Christ speaks of going where his enemies could not come
John 7:30-36

The discourse our Savior publicly delivered in the temple, offended his enemies so much, that they sent men to take him. These men found him preaching. Jesus knew for what purpose they were come, and he uttered a dreadful warning in their presence, telling them that he should be with them only a little while, and that then they should seek him, and should not find him, adding, "Where I am, there you cannot come." The Jews experienced the truth of these words when the city of Jerusalem was taken, and they looked in vain for the promised Messiah to deliver them - but found no deliverer.

It will also be fulfilled in the experience of every unbeliever, unless he repent. A time will come to all the ungodly, who die impenitent, when they will seek Christ and not find him, and when they will desire in vain to reach the place where he is. Such a day came to the rich man, when he lifted up his eyes, being in torments, and saw Lazarus afar off, and heard that there was a great gulf between them, which none could pass. How dreadful it will be to see Christ afar off, and to find the compassionate Savior deaf to our entreaties! Such a day is spoken of in Proverbs 1, "Then shall they call upon me, but I will not answer; they shall seek me early, but they shall not find me, for that they hated knowledge, and did not choose the fear of the Lord."

But Christ's enemies did not even understand the warning He had given. They only expressed to each other their wonder, "Can he be going to teach the dispersed Jews who live in Gentile countries," or can he be going to teach the Gentiles themselves?

They thought it a thing impossible that Gentiles should be taught; they imagined that they were unworthy of the least notice from God, and that they would be left to perish in heathen ignorance. But God thought not so; his thoughts were not as their thoughts; even then he had purposes of mercy towards our savage forefathers. He saw them wandering with painted skins among their forests of oak, and offering up their children to horrible idols. He saw them, He pitied, and He sent (if not an apostle) the convert of an apostle, to proclaim in their untutored ears his glorious gospel. Our fathers sought him, and they found him, and many of them are now with God. Where they are, and where Jesus is, we desire to come.

Jesus has not yet said to us, "Where I am there you cannot come." Shall he ever say it? He never will, if it is our heart's warm desire to be where he is. Has he not said, "Where I am, there shall my servant be?"

This was the sweet verse that an aged minister often repeated in his dying hours - 

And when I'm to die,
"Receive me," I'll cry;
For Jesus has loved me,
I cannot tell why;
But this I can find,
We two are so joined,
He'll not be in glory
And leave me behind.

Title: Christ invites the thirsty to come to him. John 7:37-39
Post by: nChrist on June 07, 2008, 11:50:46 AM
June 6

Christ invites the thirsty to come to him. John 7:37-39

The Savior delights more in promises than in threatenings. In the presence of his enemies he often uttered most sweet and encouraging invitations.

On the last day of the feast of tabernacles, (even on the eighth,) it was the custom to pour large quantities of water upon the ground, as a type of God's promise of pouring the Spirit upon man in the latter days. It seems probable that it was in the midst of this ceremony, that Jesus stood and cried, "If any man thirst, let him come unto me and drink." And what is the meaning of this invitation? Coming to Christ is believing in Christ; "drinking" is receiving the Holy Spirit into the heart.

Since Jesus uttered these gracious words, the Holy Spirit has been given in large measure; for when he was glorified and seated at his Father's right hand, he sent down the Holy Spirit. Until He had presented an atonement for sin, this great gift could not be bestowed upon guilty man. Those, indeed, who believed in Christ from the beginning, received a measure of the Spirit; but not so abundant a measure as those who have believed in him since he was offered up.

This is the substance of the preaching of every faithful minister, "If any man thirst, let him go to Jesus and drink." The whole world is suffering the torments of parching thirst. It is evident that they feel uneasy by their anxiety to obtain wealth, pleasure, and honors; but they know not the only fountain that can quench their thirst. They little imagine that the Holy Spirit would make them more happy than all the enjoyments earth can afford.

Not only would they be happy themselves, but they would obtain the power of making others happy. For out of them should flow rivers of living water to quench the thirst of their fellow-creatures. It is an inexpressible delight to make the wretched happy. None but true believers can do this. Kind-hearted, worldly people often try to make their friends and neighbors happy, but they never can succeed. The Christian has discovered the secret by which he can assuage human grief, and quiet the restless heart. None can conceive what will be the delight of God's faithful servants when they look around in the abodes of bliss, and behold those who once thirsted upon earth, but who now thirst no more, and when they remember that it was their privilege to persuade them first to taste of the fountain of living waters. But happiness will be as nothing compared to the joy of the Son of God. This joy cheered his heart when he endured the cross. He knew that millions of souls would be made blessed forever through his blood. It is a pleasure to remember having saved the life of a fellow-creature. Have you ever seen a young person's eyes sparkle with delight at the thought of having extinguished the flames that were raging around her companion? Or have you heard an old man relate how in former days he snatched a poor child out of the water? The satisfaction that they showed may remind us of the infinite joy the Lord of glory will feel when he looks around upon the souls that he has blessed forever. "He shall see of the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied." (Isaiah 53:11.)

Devotional Commentary On The Gospels
by Favell Lee Mortimer ( 1802 - 1878 )

Title: The enemies of Christ dispute concerning him. John 7:40-53
Post by: nChrist on June 07, 2008, 11:52:19 AM
June 7

The enemies of Christ dispute concerning him. John 7:40-53

We here read of the effect of the discourse Jesus delivered in the presence of the officers that came to take him. Many people were there, and they expressed different opinions concerning him. Some thought he was the prophet, or the messenger that was to be sent before Christ, to prepare his way. (Malachi 3:1.) These people did not know that John the Baptist was that prophet. Others thought that Jesus was the Messiah. There was another party that made objections to this belief. They imagined that Jesus had been born in Galilee, though he had only been brought up there; and they did not know that he was of the family of David. They remembered that the Scriptures had prophesied that the Messiah should be born in Bethlehem, of the family of David; therefore they thought that Jesus could not be the true Messiah. But had they made diligent inquiries, they would have found that the reports concerning him were false, and that he had been born in Bethlehem, and was of the family of David. These people were much to blame for their negligence. How many people are now in error, because they have not made diligent inquiries! They believe the reports they hear against the ministers of Christ - they believe the objections that infidels make against the Bible, and they never examine into the truth of these reports and objections. They do not consider the importance of the subject, or they would not be able to rest until they had discovered the truth.

We find that the officers returned to their masters without having taken Jesus. The reason they gave for their conduct was, "Never man spoke like this man." They had been awed by the power of his words. When God pleases, he can make the words of his servants strike awe into their enemies, so that they dare not lift up their hands against them. Scoffers have sometimes entered into the assemblies of God's people with an intention to hurt them, and have been constrained to give up their designs. A daring sinner once prepared a weapon with which he intended to murder a holy man who came to seek the lost among the haunts of vice. He heard him read Isaiah 54. Struck by the words, "No weapon that is formed against you shall prosper," he renounced his purpose, and even confessed his guilt.

In the conclusion of the chapter, we find an instance of the power of divine grace. Nicodemus, who was once so timid as to go to Jesus by night for fear of the Jews, was grown so bold as to acknowledge him openly in the midst of the council. He was himself one of that council, called the Sanhedrin, composed of seventy chief people among the Jews. There have always been some among the honorable of the earth who have done homage to the Lord of glory. Such people are exposed to sharper trials than those in humbler stations, and they require a very large measure of grace to enable them to remain firm amid the derision of their equals in power and grandeur. But God is with them when they stand up in the midst of their enemies, and he will defend his defamed servants. What would a Father feel who should overhear one of his children pleading his cause with rebellious brothers! Does not our God listen with delight to all who take his part when men rise up against him?

Devotional Commentary On The Gospels
by Favell Lee Mortimer ( 1802 - 1878 )

Title: Christ refuses to condemn a sinful woman. John 8:1-11
Post by: nChrist on June 07, 2008, 11:54:24 AM
June 8

Christ refuses to condemn a sinful woman. John 8:1-11

How much wisdom the Lord Jesus showed in the manner in which he withstood the artful designs of the Jews! The Pharisees had in vain endeavored to seize him by force - and now they sought to entrap him by fraud. Nicodemus, in the council, had inquired, "Does our law judge any man before it hear him, and know what he does?" The Pharisees seem to have taken these words as a hint to find some accusation against the Lord. They thought that by bringing this woman before him they placed him in a difficulty from which he could not escape; because, if he condemned her, they might accuse him to the Romans of interfering in the government, and if he acquitted her, they might say he contradicted the law of Moses, by which she was sentenced to die.

But how completely all their expectations were confounded! They desired to hear the Lord pass sentence against the woman, but they were compelled to hear him pass sentence on themselves. For when he replied, "He who is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone;" the conscience of each accuser was troubled, and one by one the whole band of enemies retreated ashamed from his presence!

Conscience may slumber long, but it often suddenly awakes. God can arouse it when he pleases. Sometimes in this life, it stings a sinner and forces him to confess his iniquities. But its power will be better known at the day of judgment, when all the wicked will be made to feel the justice of their own condemnation.

While the guilty Jews were escaping from the temple, the Lord was stooping down to write upon the ground. It appears that he had not looked up to observe their confusion. But after they were gone, he lifted himself up to speak to the sinful woman. There she was standing in the midst! How dreadful was her situation at that moment! She was in the presence of one who might have condemned her to everlasting destruction. Instead of condemning, he began to converse with her, "Woman, where are those your accusers? Has no man condemned you?" Her answer was full of reverence and awe. "No man, Lord." With what feelings must she have awaited the Lord's next words! They were full of mercy, and also of holiness - "Neither do I condemn you; go, and sin no more."

Jesus did not come into the world to act as an earthly judge; but hereafter he will condemn the wicked, as well as save the righteous. This woman will stand before him at the day of judgment; she will then hear either that she is pardoned or condemned. We know nothing of her history after this interview. Was her heart drawn to the Lord by his merciful treatment, or did she go from his presence to plunge into new crimes? It is a dreadful thing to abuse mercy. Can we remember any period in our lives when we seemed to be on the point of receiving the punishment due to our sins, and when the Lord, instead of dealing with us as we deserved, spared us? Ought not such forbearance to win our love? There was a dying girl who first learned to love the Savior from reading the account of his treatment of this sinful woman. Though she had never committed open transgressions, she knew she was a sinner, and needed pardon. When she read this history, she felt that Jesus was infinitely gracious, and she believed that he would not cast her out.

Devotional Commentary On The Gospels
by Favell Lee Mortimer ( 1802 - 1878 )

Title: Christ declares that the Father is his witness. John 8:12-20
Post by: nChrist on June 07, 2008, 11:56:34 AM
June 9

Christ declares that the Father is his witness. John 8:12-20

We behold our blessed Savior again surrounded by those enemies who had so lately retreated ashamed from his presence. The officers had refused to take him, after hearing him invite the thirsty to come and drink. But the Pharisees persisted in their wicked designs, though they heard him say, "I am the light of the world - he who follows me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life." Instead of following the light, they accused him of speaking falsehood, and insolently said, "You bear record of yourself - your record is not true." They referred to words Jesus had once uttered, "If I bear witness of myself, my witness is not true," (John 5:31,) but by this he meant, "If I only bear witness of myself, and have no other witness, then my record is not true." But He had another witness, even the Father, who had declared by a voice from heaven that Jesus was his beloved Son, and who had enabled him to do astonishing miracles.

The Pharisees scornfully inquired, "Where is your Father?" How different from the request which an apostle afterwards made, "Show us the Father, and it suffices us!" These unbelieving Jews did not desire to know the Father; yet they thought they knew him already. Jesus told them plainly, "You neither know me, nor my Father." Would He say this to any of us, if He were now to speak to us? No reasonable creature can be happy, who does not know his Creator.

If we were not sinful creatures, the first desire of our hearts would be to know God. A child desires to see his parent. If a mother were to tell her little son that his father, who had long been absent in a distant country, would soon return, would not the child be glad? But if the child were willful and wayward, and had heard that his father would restrain him from fulfilling his sinful inclinations, in that case he would not desire to see him return. Men have heard that God hates evil, and therefore they do not desire to know Him.

If they were not sinful, they would learn to know him from the works of creation. It is written, "That which may be known of God is manifest in them, for God has showed it unto them." (Romans 1:19.) How has he showed it unto them? "By the things that are made." By the earth, and sea, the sun, moon, and stars; by the animals from the enormous whale that agitates the ocean, down to the tiny insect that floats in the breeze. But men did not gain the knowledge of God by the works of creation. "They glorified him not as God." The works of Providence are even greater than those of creation. It is of those works that David speaks in the Psalms, when he says, "How great are your works!" (Psalms 92:5.) If men were not sinful, they would learn to know God from the works of Providence. Paul said to the Athenians, God "has made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth, and has determined the times before appointed, and the bounds of their habitation; that they should seek the Lord, if haply they might feel after him, and find him." (Acts 17:26-27.) But did men feel after him? No - they wandered farther and farther from him.

But in the fullness of time God sent forth his Son.

And why did He send Him? That He might teach us to know God. And all who believe in Jesus Christ know the Father. They know Him to be the God of holiness, and yet of mercy; so holy, that he will not clear the guilty; and yet so merciful, that he will pardon the vilest sinner who trusts in the blood of his Son. But they never could have known Him, if Jesus had not come in the likeness of sinful flesh, and died upon the cross for their sins.

Do we know God? Do we desire to know him? How dreadful it would be to hear the Lord Jesus at the judgment-day declare, "If you had known me, you should have known my Father also." No one will be able to reply, "I desired to know God, but could not find him." O no, all who seek to know Him, shall find Him.

Devotional Commentary On The Gospels
by Favell Lee Mortimer ( 1802 - 1878 )

Title: Christ warns his enemies against dying in their sins. John 8:21-27
Post by: nChrist on June 07, 2008, 11:58:12 AM
June 10

Christ warns his enemies against dying in their sins. John 8:21-27

The Lord Jesus plainly told his disciples in their retired conversations, that he should be crucified; but he did not speak so plainly to his enemies - he only gave them hints concerning his approaching death. When he said, "I go my way," they understood him not. At last they formed a conjecture concerning his meaning, and said, "Will he kill himself?" They did not venture to put the question to the Lord himself, but consulted with each other on the subject. He knew their thoughts, and by his reply showed that he had alluded to his death. He would not indeed kill himself. Those who with wicked tongues now insulted him, with wicked hands would slay him. He would die upon the cross, but far worse would be the manner of their death - they would die - perhaps, in a bed, surrounded by weeping friends, but - in their sins.

When the Lord said to his enemies, "You are from beneath," he did not mean to say that they had ever lived with Satan in hell; but he meant that they partook of the nature of Satan, and were like him in pride, and hatred, and unbelief. All the inhabitants of this world are divided into two classes - of one it may be said, they are from beneath; of the other it may be declared, they are from above, having been born again by the Holy Spirit. An old writer observes, that though the children of different families are mingled in the day, when night comes on they return home to their fathers' houses. When the night of death comes, the children of Satan will go to their father's dark and horrible abode, and the children of God will go to their Father's light and glorious abode. And where shall we go? Remember the words of Jesus, "If you believe not that I am he, you shall die in your sins."

There is only one way of becoming the child of God - it is by believing in Jesus. The Jews scornfully inquired, "Who are you?"' Let us humbly ask the same question. Let us say as Saul did when Jesus spoke to him from heaven, "Who are you, Lord?" He will reveal himself to all who desire to know him. He left his Father's house to seek us who were wandering about this world. He desires to bring us to his home. There is room for us, as well as for Him, in the palace of the great King. He said to his beloved apostles, "In my Father's house are many mansions." When night comes on it will be delightful to go to such a home. But what would it be to feel in dying that we were not going to God! A woman who had lived a careless life, expressed no fears on her dying bed, until the last day and night of her life arrived. Then she was heard to cry out repeatedly, "I am going, I am going - but not to God."

Devotional Commentary On The Gospels
by Favell Lee Mortimer ( 1802 - 1878 )

Title: He instructs the new believers
Post by: nChrist on June 11, 2008, 08:27:06 AM
Devotional Commentary On The Gospels
by Favell Lee Mortimer ( 1802 - 1878 )

June 11

He instructs the new believers
John 8:28-42

We have followed the Savior through scenes of contempt and insult; but at length we hear, that while he rebuked his enemies, many believed on him. The Lord did not overlook these new believers. As the mother bestows unceasing care, and peculiar tenderness on her infant, especially when so weakly that its life seems doubtful; so the Savior turned towards those who had just embraced the truth, and addressed to them words of counsel and encouragement. Are there any of us who need such instruction? Let us consider the counsels of the all-wise Savior to his weak followers.

"If you continue in my word, then are you my disciples indeed; and you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free." Continuance is the difficulty. To believe for a little while will not save the soul. There are many stony-ground hearers, who receive the word with joy. There are many thorny-ground hearers, who bring forth fruit, but not to perfection. These do not continue in the word.

What blessings are promised to those who, in spite of enemies, and temptations, and afflictions, continue in the word! Christ said to them, "The truth shall make you free." Are we not free by nature? Men think they are free - that they can do what they will, and be what they please. But they are deceived. The Jews misunderstood the nature of the freedom of which Jesus spoke - they thought that he spoke of national freedom. But they did not even possess that freedom; for though they said, "We were never in bondage to any man," the assertion was not true - at that very time they were in bondage to the Romans, and paid taxes to the Roman emperor.

But it was not of national freedom that Jesus spoke; he meant the freedom of the spirit. All sinners are slaves. "Whoever commits sin is the servant (or slave) of sin." Satan has power over the spirits of sinners. He stirs up the evil passions of their hearts, and urges them to commit sinful actions. God restrains him in the exercise of his power; but He has not yet deprived him of it. How then can sinners be made free? By believing in the Son of God. Then their chains fall off, their cruel master flees, and their gracious deliverer adopts them into his family.

A little parable seems to be contained in our Lord's discourse. In one large house there dwell together a numerous family. God is the master of this house, and knows the character of each member. This house contains all those who profess to believe in Christ. But some of its inhabitants are really the slaves of Satan, while some are the children of God. Shall Satan's slaves always remain in the house? No! they shall be cast out. But the children of God shall never quit their father's roof. "The servant abides not in the house forever; but the son abides ever." And when the servants of Satan are cast out, then the children of God shall ascend to the upper room, where their Father unveils his glorious countenance, and invites his elder sons and daughters to partake of the heavenly feast.

Title: Christ accuses his enemies of being the children of Satan
Post by: nChrist on June 11, 2008, 08:28:51 AM
Devotional Commentary On The Gospels
by Favell Lee Mortimer ( 1802 - 1878 )

June 12

Christ accuses his enemies of being the children of Satan
John 8:43-50

It may well excite dismay in the bosom of a human creature to hear these words; "You are of your father the devil." A faithful minister once preached from these words in a village church, to a numerous congregation of very poor people. Great was the consternation with which some of them heard, for the first time, that those who lived in sin were the children of the devil. Poor neighbors met one another, and lamented with tears over the dreadful truth. Nor did they lament or weep in vain; for some who were then the children of wrath, became by faith the children of God. One of these blessed converts, in extreme old age, would often lift up her withered hands, and thank God for having shown her the danger she was in.

And what are the marks by which the children of Satan may be known? The marks are the features of their father. He was a murderer and a liar from the beginning - even from that dreadful and mysterious hour when he departed from the truth; for he was created in the truth. God, who created all things, can create nothing evil; therefore Satan and all the wicked angels were originally good. How evil sprang up in them, no human creature knows; it is a deep mystery, not revealed to us. It is sufficient for us to know that Satan was good - that he became evil, and will continue so forever. After his fall, he was a murderer, and sought to murder the souls of Adam and Eve, by tempting them to sin, and to murder in them the whole human race - for in Adam all die. So dreadful a crime was never again perpetrated upon earth, until - Satan's own children, at the instigation of their father, murdered the Son of God, who came down from heaven to save sinners.

Satan is not a murderer only; he is also a liar. He commits his murders by means of lies - he used a lie to murder Eve, when he said, "You shall not surely die." And still he murders by lies; for he tempts men by deceiving them. He persuades them that sin will make them happy, and that it is not dangerous. Above all, he speaks lies of God. He endeavored to set Adam and Eve against their best Friend, by slanders; for he said that God had forbidden them to eat of the fruit of the tree, because He feared they should become wise.

Satan still speaks lies of God, representing him as a God whose service is bondage, whose promises are unfaithful, and whose threatenings are uncertain. Thus men are induced to keep at a distance from God. As long as men believe Satan's lies, they cannot hear God's words, or understand the Bible. But Jesus came to undeceive us, and to defend his Father's character. Why will not men believe his report? Shall we still be deceived by the lies of Satan, when Jesus tells us the truth! Satan has deceived all who have trusted in him; the Son of God has never deceived one. Who ever heard of a dying believer exclaiming, "I have been deceived - I trusted in the Savior, and I have found his promises vain?" No true believer, however afflicted, has spoken thus. All dying Christians have said by their looks, and many by their words, "He is a faithful God."

Title: Christ speaks of Abraham
Post by: nChrist on June 11, 2008, 08:30:30 AM
Devotional Commentary On The Gospels
by Favell Lee Mortimer ( 1802 - 1878 )

June 13

Christ speaks of Abraham
John 8:51-59

One of the most precious promises ever made, was received with the most insulting contempt. The Lord declared, "If a man keep my saying, he shall never see death." The Jews replied, "Now we know you have a devil." If they had not been themselves the children of Satan, they would not have uttered such language. They did not choose to understand the meaning of the promise. They said, "The prophets are dead." But to what did our Lord refer when he said, "If a man keep my saying, he shall never see death?" He did not speak of the separation of soul and body. That is not death to the righteous, for the soul rests with God, while the body sleeps in the grave. He spoke of another death, called the second death. It is the separation of soul and body from God forever and ever. That is death. None shall taste it who keep Christ's saying. What saying? His saying concerning himself, that He is the Son of God and the Savior of men. For on another occasion he declared, "God so loved the world, that he gave his only-begotten Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish, but should have everlasting life."

When the Jews insolently inquired, "Whom make you yourself?" the Lord did not choose to tell them plainly who He was; but he told them who they were NOT. They professed to be the children of God. But Jesus told them that because they said "He is our God," they were "liars." How dreadful is the situation of that man who cannot say, "My God," without uttering a falsehood! We pity the child who cannot say to any living person, "My father," or "My mother;" but how much more ought we to pity the soul who cannot look up to heaven and say, "My God!"

What a testimony Jesus bore to his faithful servant Abraham! He said, "Your father Abraham rejoiced to see my day, and he saw it and was glad." The great joy of Abraham's life was not his beloved Isaac, but his more beloved Savior. it was that promised Son who was the chief object of his faith. When God said, "In your seed shall all the families of the earth be blessed," then he looked forward to the coming of the Savior of the world. Then "he believed God, and it was accounted unto him for righteousness." Even Abraham was saved, not by his own righteousness, but by the righteousness of another. Like us, he was by nature a child of wrath, and it was by grace he became the friend of God, and the father of believers.

The Jews continued to distort the words of Jesus. Because he said, that Abraham had seen his day, they said, "Have you seen Abraham?" who had lived two thousand years before. And what was the Savior's reply? He did not say, "I have seen Abraham;" he said much more than that. He did not say, "Before Abraham I was." He said more than that. "Before Abraham was, I am." The expression "I am," gives the idea of an existence that had no beginning, and will have no end. Such is God - the first and the last. No human understanding can grasp the idea of existence without beginning and without ending. But let us rejoice in the thought that before we were God existed. He ever lived. No plans could be formed against us, before He had arranged everything concerning us! "Known unto God are all his works from the beginning of the world." (Acts 15:18.)

Title: The return of the seventy disciples
Post by: nChrist on June 11, 2008, 08:32:09 AM
Devotional Commentary On The Gospels
by Favell Lee Mortimer ( 1802 - 1878 )

June 14

The return of the seventy disciples
Luke 10:17-20

In the first verse of this chapter it is recorded that the Lord sent out seventy disciples to preach. Now we hear of their return.

While they had been visiting the towns and villages, their Lord had been engaged in teaching at Jerusalem. We have heard to what trials he was exposed in that wicked city from the scoffs of his enemies. How great must have been the relief to his sorrowful spirit, when he found himself again in the midst of his attached followers! The messengers returned with joy. They rejoiced because the devils had been subject unto them through Christ's name. The Savior seems to have partaken of their joy when he uttered these mysterious words - "I beheld Satan like lightning fall from heaven." Could any sight be more suited to occasion joy to Satan's great enemy and conqueror? When a cruel tyrant is slain, the captives in his dungeons are set free. An interesting account has been written of the destruction of the Inquisition at Madrid in 1809. The wicked men who ruled over that dreadful prison were slaughtered by the French soldiers. At the same time the dungeons were visited, and were found full of miserable captives. Those who had been for many years pining under the fear of death, were suddenly restored to the light of day, and to all the enjoyments of life. Great was the joy felt by the soldiers who wrought this great deliverance!

But who can conceive the joy that our Savior felt when he looked forward to the consequences of Satan's downfall! Already the people of God are delivered from his power. The day shall come when the old serpent will deceive the nations no more. At the end of the world he will be cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, and "shall be tormented day and night forever." (Revelation 20:10.) This deliverance Jesus obtained for us by his own death.

Christ gave his disciples power to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy. Did He mean literal serpents or spiritual serpents? Did He not mean both? The disciples were shielded from the attacks of all venomous creatures. In our Lord's parting charge he said to them - "These signs shall follow them that believe - they shall take up serpents." (Mark 16:18.) In the same charge he said also, "In my name they shall cast out devils." Christ must have alluded to Satan and his angels when he spoke of "all the power of the enemy."

Well might the disciples rejoice in the wonderful gifts they possessed. Yet they had a greater cause for joy. Their names were written in heaven. The Lamb has a book of life, in which he has written the names of all who shall never taste the second death. It contains not only the names of the apostles, but of all who love Jesus. As a father writes down in his great Family Bible the names of all his children, so God writes down in the book of his remembrance the names of all His children. A father may some day have to read, with a sigh and with a tear, the list of his family; but Jesus shall never lose one of the members of His family; they shall live forever who are written in the book of life. Is it our chief desire to have our names written there? If this be our supreme desire, we must be saved. Those who perish, perish because they will not come and ask for life.

O that this dreadful sentence might awaken those who are now unconcerned about their precious souls! "Whoever was not found written in the book of life, was cast into the lake of fire." (Revelation 20:15.)

Title: The Savior's joy
Post by: nChrist on June 11, 2008, 08:33:48 AM
Devotional Commentary On The Gospels
by Favell Lee Mortimer ( 1802 - 1878 )

June 15

The Savior's joy
Luke 10:21-24

A man's character is shown by the causes of his grief and of his joy! We might learn to know ourselves better than we do, if each would inquire, "What are the things that please, and grieve me most?" We shall find that we are by nature selfish - that we are too much concerned about the events that befall ourselves, and too little about those that befall our fellow-creatures. Above all, we are naturally indifferent to the glory of God. None, except those who are converted, care in the least degree whether God is honored or despised.

The object that lay nearest the Savior's heart was the glory of his Father. He rejoiced in spirit, because his Father had revealed to babes the things concerning Himself, for by this means the glory of God is increased. If the wise and learned alone were saved, it would seem as if they had saved themselves by their own wisdom and learning; but when it is babes chiefly who are saved, then it is clear that God saved them by His great power. Those are compared to babes whom the world esteems foolish and ignorant. Most of the disciples were chosen from among such people. The world called Peter and John unlearned. (Acts 4:13.) The apostle Paul was not unlearned; but he did not trust to his own wisdom, but came like a babe to learn of Jesus. None can explain the manner in which God teaches the soul. We do know the subject of his teaching - it is Himself. We are by nature unacquainted with God. To know Him is the great object of life. To die without knowing Him is to perish. The Savior, in his prayer just before he was crucified, said to his Father, "This is eternal life, to know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent."

No man comes to Jesus until he has heard and learned of the Father. Then he goes as a penitent sinner to the Savior. How does Jesus receive him? He has declared, "Him that comes unto me I will in nowise cast out." He teaches the sinner to know the Father; He shows him the Father's love in sending his Son to be the Savior of the world; he shows it to the heart, as well as to the understanding. It is with the heart we know our friends; it is with the heart we must know God. How different is the feeling that we have when we have become intimate with a person, from that which we experience when we have only heard him described, and have not known him ourselves!

We may hear a great deal about God, but until we listen to his voice speaking to our hearts we cannot know Him. It is sweet to hear him say, "Seek my face," but sweeter still to hear him declare, "You are mine." Then the heart, moved by the Spirit, answers as David did, "Lord, your face will I seek," and "You are my God."

Jesus has observed every desire that has ever entered into the heart of his creatures, and he remembers those of his servants of old. The ancient prophets desired to know him; there were even kings who esteemed the knowledge of God far above their earthly treasures. Such were the feelings of the great Melchisedek, and of the victorious David. But while they were on earth they never knew as much of God as the apostles did while they lived; nor did they ever hear as much as we have heard. Is it our desire to know Him better than we do? He observes the desires of our hearts - and he would be pleased to see in us the same feeling that Moses had, when he said, "I beseech you, show me your glory."

Title: The good Samaritan
Post by: nChrist on June 16, 2008, 01:57:10 PM
Devotional Commentary On The Gospels
by Favell Lee Mortimer ( 1802 - 1878 )

June 16

The good Samaritan
Luke 10:25-37

This lawyer, who came to Jesus, was a man whose office it was to study the law of God, and to explain it to others. It was therefore to be supposed that he understood it well himself. And he did understand the letter of it, but not the spirit. He knew the words of the law, but he was ignorant of their spiritual application.

He came with the wicked intention of ensnaring Jesus, by asking him questions that should lead him to give some answer contrary to what Moses had written. But how completely was he foiled in his design! Instead of answering his question, "What shall I do to inherit eternal life?" the Lord asked him another question, "How read you?" thus showing that he approved what was written by Moses.

The lawyer gave a correct answer. He said that the duty of man consisted in the love of God and the love of his neighbor. But what is this love? It far surpasses man's ideas. Let the angels tell us from their high abodes in glory, what it is to love God. It is to delight in him perpetually, to show forth his praise, and to do his will without weariness and without fault. What is the love of the neighbor? Jesus explained it in the beautiful history of the good Samaritan. On whom had the Samaritan mercy? On a Jew - a man of a nation whom he had been brought up to detest. Neither did he act from a sense of duty alone; he had compassion on the poor traveler - he paid him immediate attention - he treated him with tenderness, binding up his wounds - he expended his property upon him, "pouring in oil and wine," he incurred fatigue, and perhaps loss of rest, for he took care of him at night. He made provision for his future comfort, by leaving twopence (or two days' wages of a laborer) with the innkeeper, and promised to pay whatever greater sum might be spent, putting no limits on the amount, though he could not know how long the sufferer might languish. And all this he did for a stranger! What must that man be to his friend and his brother, who treats a stranger with such generous kindness!

But if we are inclined to think the Samaritan overstepped his duty, let us remember the words of Jesus, "Go you and do likewise." And when we have done it, we shall still be unprofitable servants, and have only done what it was our duty to do. Remember, remember what HE did for us, who gives the command. The Samaritan showed mercy to a stranger, but he showed mercy to his enemies. And what mercy! He bore the wrath and curse of God to save us from destruction. None of us could bear what he did. But if we have the Spirit of Christ dwelling in us, we shall walk in his steps.

There are at this moment in South Africa, two Moravian missionaries, who have gone to spend their days in a hospital for lepers among pitiable objects, whose hands and feet are falling off. No one who ever enters that hospital is permitted to leave it. The missionaries saw the door close upon them, and felt content to be banished from human society for the sake of the poor sufferers within.

Let us not be satisfied with admiring the devoted conduct of these men; but let us seek for objects on whom to show mercy. Do we know of none to whom we can be kind? Is there no fatherless child who needs our help? No widow, no stranger, no sufferer, whom we could comfort? Perhaps today we may meet with one that we never heard of before. May God put into our hearts the love that dwells in his own, that we may act kindly to every afflicted person we see this day.

Title: Martha and Mary
Post by: nChrist on June 16, 2008, 01:58:35 PM
Devotional Commentary On The Gospels
by Favell Lee Mortimer ( 1802 - 1878 )

June 17

Martha and Mary
Luke 10:28-42

When a monarch enters into the house of one of his subjects, his looks are observed in order to discover what objects pleased him, his words are treasured up, his minutest actions are noticed and remembered. If the Son of God were to enter into the family of a true believer, with what anxiety would his looks, his words, his actions, be watched! Every sincere disciple would seek with trembling eagerness to ascertain whether the Lord approved his conduct.

And did not those who loved Jesus when he was on earth, experience these feelings? When they saw him approach their dwellings, they must have longed to obtain his company, and when he was seated beneath their roofs, they must have used their utmost endeavors to do him honor. The Lord's visits were, no doubt, hailed with delight by the beloved family of Bethany. Both Martha and Mary desired to please their heavenly guest, but they acted in a very different manner. Martha was so little acquainted with his mind, that she endeavored to provide a sumptuous entertainment; while Mary sat at his feet and heard his word. In the east it is the custom to sit upon the ground or on low couches; therefore there was nothing unusual in Mary's posture. While one sister was listening with devout attention to the words of Jesus, the other was offended because she was left alone to prepare the feast. So confident did she feel of the acceptableness of her services, that she believed the Lord would reprove her sister for not helping her. She said to the Lord, "Do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone?" If she had been of a more loving spirit, she would have gladly served alone, that her sister at least might enjoy the Savior's instructions.

How many Christians fall into Martha's error! They imagine that much pomp and parade and splendor in religious worship are honorable to God, and they expend strength, and time, and money, in promoting these objects, while they lose many precious opportunities of growing in the knowledge of Christ - and, not content with acting in this manner themselves, they often blame those who devote their chief attention to the word of God.

How beautiful an example does Mary afford to those who are unjustly accused by their fellow-Christians! She remained silent, and left it to her Lord to answer for her.

Perhaps Martha was surprised at receiving reproof instead of commendation. The sister she blamed was praised, and the conduct she thought so admirable was censured. The Lord will pronounce many sentences at the last day that will surprise even his sincere followers. Though Martha was careful, and troubled about many things, we know that she was a real believer, but she had not so enlightened a mind or so devoted a heart as her meek and lowly sister.

Mary cared as much as Martha for the comfort and honor of her Lord. On another occasion she showed her love by expending her choicest treasures upon his precious body, for she poured the ointment on his head just before his death and burial. But she knew that the day-spring from on high had visited us, "to give light to them that sit in darkness and in the shadow of death," and she opened her heart to receive those living beams.

Do we desire to enjoy the light of life? Let us get alone with Jesus, and speak to him in prayer, and hear what he will say to us in his word.

Title: Christ encourages his disciples to pray
Post by: nChrist on June 16, 2008, 02:00:09 PM
Devotional Commentary On The Gospels
by Favell Lee Mortimer ( 1802 - 1878 )

June 18

Christ encourages his disciples to pray
Luke 11:1-13

How blessed must have been those seasons in which the Savior engaged in prayer with his beloved disciples! Once we find him praying with them on the mount of transfiguration - at another time in the garden of Gethsemane. On this occasion the name of the place is not recorded. Surely that was hallowed ground, where the Son of God offered up on the spotless altar of his heart the pure incense of prayer and praise.

After hearing his prayers, the disciples felt conscious of their own inability to pray. They were, like us, compassed with infirmities, and knew not what to pray for as they ought. In the spirit of little children they said to their Master, "Teach us to pray." This petition was pleasing to their Lord - it was immediately granted. The prayer he now taught them he had uttered in their presence when he delivered his sermon on the mount; but the disciples needed repeated instructions. It is a prayer for all that can make a human soul happy; no, more - it is a prayer for all that can make the universe happy.

The first three petitions may be called prayers for God, as it is written in the Psalms - "Prayer also shall be made for him continually." (Psalms 72:15.) The happiness of the universe depends upon God being established upon his throne. All creation would be filled with joy, if the name of the great and holy God were hallowed; if his kingdom were come; if his will were done; as it is written - "Let the floods clap their hands; let the hills be joyful together before the Lord, for He comes to judge the earth." Were any other being raised to this exalted state, he would neither be happy himself, nor would he make his fellow-creatures happy. No being but God is fit to be adored, to reign over all worlds, and to do what He will. Satan once aspired to sit in the seat of God - and what was the consequence? He became eternally wretched, and he plunged a host of his angelic companions in the same misery.

There are some petitions in this prayer suitable for fallen man alone, in all his weakness and his woe. We are made of clay, and we need bread; therefore we say, "Give us our daily bread." We have sinned, and we need pardon; therefore we say, "Forgive us our trespasses." We are liable to be conquered by sin and Satan, and we need deliverance from their power, and we cry, "Deliver us from evil."

If our hearts are in tune with this prayer, they are right in the sight of God. The unconverted never feel desirous for the things mentioned in this prayer, except for their daily bread. And are they satisfied with daily bread? O no! they are not content with necessary things, with food, clothing, and a shelter from the storm; they entertain a thousand exorbitant wishes; they desire pleasure, or praise, or wealth, or some other worldly gift which God has not promised to bestow. Instead of cherishing these unreasonable wishes, the Christian longs for the pardon of his sins, and for his deliverance from the evil one. Will these desires be granted? Will an ungracious friend arise to grant a request that is urged in an earnest manner? And shall a gracious God refuse to hear fervent prayer? Will a sinful father give bread, and not a stone to a hungry child; a fish, and not a serpent; an egg, and not a scorpion? And shall our Holy Father give hell to those who ask for heaven? Since the beginning of the world He has never treated one of his children in this manner, and He never will.

Title: Christ exposes the hypocrisy of the Scribes and Pharisees
Post by: nChrist on June 16, 2008, 02:02:49 PM
Devotional Commentary On The Gospels
by Favell Lee Mortimer ( 1802 - 1878 )

June 19

Christ exposes the hypocrisy of the Scribes and Pharisees
Luke 9:37-44

We never hear of the Savior refusing to visit those who besought his company. Yet no scene could have been more trying to his feelings than a Pharisee's house. The society of publicans and sinners was less revolting to Him than that of proud self-righteous Pharisees.

One of his first actions gave offence to his host. Knowing that the Pharisees imagined that washing their hands before dinner rendered them holy, He purposely neglected to observe this custom. The ruling desire of the Pharisees was the praise of men. No person can desire earnestly both the praise of men and the praise of God; for no man can serve two masters. Just in proportion as we seek honor from men, we shall be indifferent to honor from God. The reward the Pharisees sought was, a high place in the world's esteem. They loved the uppermost seats in the synagogue; (for the most learned and respected among the Jews were permitted to read the law on the Sabbath-days in their sacred assemblies.) When they entered the marketplace, the Pharisees were gratified at receiving tokens of veneration from the multitude; they were constantly seeking the gratification of their pride; and whether in the house of God, or in the public throng, they were thirsting for human honor.

What were the means they pursued in order to obtain it? They diligently observed all the forms of religion - they fasted and made long prayers, and even insisted on giving a tenth of the smallest herbs to the priests. But they neglected all secret duties. They were so much occupied in pleasing men, that they never thought about pleasing God. Secret prayers, secret charities, secret acts of justice, secret feelings of love to God - of all these they knew nothing.

To what did the Lord compare these vain-glorious men? To cups and covered dishes, that looked bright outside, but were full of corruption within - and to graves that were grown over with grass, but that contained dead men's bones.

Are not each of us conscious that we have, by nature, a strong desire for the praise of men, and no desire for the praise of God? This is one of the effects of the Fall. Angels are not coveting the admiration of their companions in bliss; their eyes are fixed upon their Father's face, and in His smile they live and rejoice.

What confusion it would introduce into heaven were a creature to enter there who wishes to be admired! He would find, that though all the blessed inhabitants love one another, that they admire God alone, and are perpetually engaged in singing, "Blessing, and glory, and honor, and power be unto Him that sits upon the throne, and unto the Lamb, forever and ever." (Revelation 5:13.) How dejected a Pharisee would feel in such a scene!

Does our happiness depend upon our being noticed and honored? If it do, we are not fit for heaven. Job said, "Behold, I am vile." Isaiah said, "I am a man of unclean lips." Abraham said, he was but dust and ashes; David, that he was shaped in iniquity; and Paul, that he was the chief of sinners. Yet these were some of the brightest saints who ever lived upon earth. Do we feel, as they did, unworthy of favor and honor? The wicked boast, "I am not polluted; I am innocent." (Jeremiah 2:23; Jeremiah 2:35.) Some even dare to say to their fellow-sinners, "Stand by yourself, for I am holier than you." (Isaiah 65:5.) What does God say of such proud sinners? "They are a smoke in my nose." But of a penitent, washed in the blood of Christ, and clothed in his righteousness, He speaks thus - "His beauty shall be as the olive-tree, and his smell as Lebanon." (Hosea 14:6.)

Title: Christ exposes the wickedness of the lawyers
Post by: nChrist on June 16, 2008, 02:04:27 PM
Devotional Commentary On The Gospels
by Favell Lee Mortimer ( 1802 - 1878 )

June 20

Christ exposes the wickedness of the lawyers
Luke 11:45-54

The meek and lowly Jesus took no pleasure in denouncing woes upon sinners, but he was too faithful to conceal from them his abhorrence of their crimes.

Among the guests at the Pharisee's house there were some lawyers. They were Scribes of the highest order, whose office it was to explain the law of God to the people. One of them having heard Jesus say, "Woe unto you Scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites," (verse 44,) replied, "Master, thus saying, you reproach us also." Reproof was by him considered as reproach. Instead of confessing his sin, and seeking pardon, he only desired to justify himself.

The Lord did not leave these Scribes in ignorance of what particular parts of their conduct he condemned. He mentioned three glaring sins which they committed.

(Verse 46.) "You lade men with burdens grievous to be borne, and you yourselves touch not the burdens with one of your fingers." This was the first sin reproved. These lawyers taught the people that they must do many difficult things to please God, such as fasting, washing often, making long prayers; but they did not trouble themselves to do the same.

The second sin reproved was "building the sepulchers of the prophets." But how was this a sin? It was one branch of the hypocrisy of the Scribes. They did not build the sepulchers of prophets, because they loved their holy characters, but because they thought, that by doing honor to the pious dead, they should appear pious themselves. It was evident they really approved of their fathers' persecutions of the prophets. And how was it evident? Because they persecuted the living prophets. They added to their guilt, when, while their hearts were burning with anger against John the Baptist, or against the Lord Jesus, they desired that a monument should be raised to Elijah, or to some other old prophet. It is easy to praise the dead; they cannot offend us by their faithful reproofs, nor shame us by their holy examples. Many praise the reformers and martyrs of ancient days, who hate the piety of a brother, or of a companion.

The third sin of the lawyers was, taking away the key of knowledge. This was worse than binding heavy burdens on the people. The burdens might oppress, yet they would not destroy; but without knowledge, the people would perish. If a man took away the key of a place where the fire-engines were kept, and if the whole city were burned through this conduct, how much ashamed he would be to appear among the poor houseless citizens! And how much ashamed will those be at the last day, who have taken away the key of knowledge! Those are guilty of this sin, who keep the Bible out of the hands of the people; and those also are guilty of it who pervert the doctrines of the Bible, and hide from sinners the only remedy for their guilt - the blood of the Lord Jesus Christ.

A faithful minister takes the key committed to him, and by unlocking the mysteries of God, saves souls from destruction. It is a blessed thing to go into the kingdom of God ourselves, and it is a more blessed thing to help others to come in with us. The Lord Jesus has declared, "Whoever, therefore, shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven - but whoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven."

Title: Christ warns his disciples against hypocrisy
Post by: nChrist on June 23, 2008, 06:48:00 PM
Devotional Commentary On The Gospels
by Favell Lee Mortimer ( 1802 - 1878 )

June 21

Christ warns his disciples against hypocrisy
Luke 12:1-12

We have lately read the Savior's warnings to the Scribes and Pharisees; now we find him addressing his own disciples. An immense multitude had been collected by his fame, and were eagerly listening to his wonderful words. Before them all, He plainly said to his disciples, "Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy." This was not the first time he had uttered this warning. On one occasion his disciples had not understood what he meant by the leaven of the Pharisees; but now all understood, for he explained the metaphor, and declared that hypocrisy was the leaven to which he alluded.

And are the sincere disciples of Christ in danger of being infected by hypocrisy? Yes, even they may be tainted by this sin, though they cannot be given up to its power; for God will preserve them through faith in his name. Peter, and Barnabas, and several other Christians, were once guilty of an act that bordered on hypocrisy - it is called in Scripture "dissimulation." They dissembled with regard to eating with the Gentiles, and were publicly rebuked by the apostle Paul. (See Galatians 2.)

The Lord suggested a powerful motive to guard the heart against hypocrisy - the discoveries and exposures of the judgment-day. Then all that has been hid will be known. Not only will the mask be torn from the deliberate hypocrite, but the veil which has been cast over any part of the conduct of true believers will be lifted up.

The Lord foresaw all the temptations that would assail his beloved disciples, and he endeavored to strengthen them to meet their trials. One of their most powerful temptations would be (not to put on, as the Pharisees did, the appearance of religion, but) to conceal the love they really felt for their Lord. He knew that bloody crosses and burning flames would be used by their enemies to induce them to deny his name. How tenderly he addresses those who would be called to suffer for his sake! "I say unto you, my friends, Be not afraid of them that kill the body." He does not promise his disciples to preserve them from death - but he does promise to keep them from hell. He does not promise to prevent their being brought before rulers and magistrates; but he does promise to be with them in the painful hour, and to teach them by the Holy Spirit what to answer.

How little Peter thought that he should ever be tempted to deny the Son of man! How little he knew that there was comfort for him in these words - "Whoever shall speak a word against the Son of man, it shall be forgiven him!" He spoke against the Son of man when he said in the judgment-hall, "I know not the man;" and when he confirmed his words by oaths and curses. Our Lord knows not only what trials we shall suffer, but what sins we shall commit. It is most comforting to think that though all sin will be followed by sorrow, yet that there is only one sin that cannot be FORGIVEN. It is the blasphemy against the Holy Spirit, and consists (as we believe) in continuing to oppose the Gospel from deliberate malice, while, at the same time, the Holy Spirit has convinced the mind of its truth. This was the sin of the Pharisees. Though they were fully convinced that Christ was the Son of God, they were determined to hinder the people from believing in him.

Some of Christ's true disciples have been overcome by fear when placed before the bar of cruel judges, and have been tempted to deny their Lord. But how bitterly did Jerome of Prague, and our own Cranmer, bewail their sin; and how fully did the Lord testify his forgiveness by the support he afforded them when bound to the stake! No human heart can conceive the Lord's tenderness for his persecuted people. Could a father forsake a child who had fallen into trouble on his account? Can Jesus forsake his people when suffering for his sake?

Title: The rich fool who was suddenly cut off
Post by: nChrist on June 23, 2008, 06:49:43 PM
Devotional Commentary On The Gospels
by Favell Lee Mortimer ( 1802 - 1878 )

June 22

The rich fool who was suddenly cut off
Luke 12:13-21

While Jesus was instructing his disciples in the presence of the multitude, he was interrupted by a man applying to him with this request - "Speak to my brother, that he divide the inheritance with me." This man's thoughts were engrossed by a perishing inheritance, while Jesus was pointing to that which fades not away.

Had the Lord come into the world to be a judge of temporal affairs, he would have attended to the administration of justice - but he had come for a different purpose, and he spent all his strength and all his time in finishing the work that his Father had given him to do.

He made the request of this man the occasion of warning his disciples against the sin of covetousness. He had warned them against hypocrisy, one of the chief sins of the Pharisees; and now he bade them beware of covetousness, another of their sins. He pointed out the folly of covetousness by describing the case of a rich man who was suddenly called away when he had been making plans for future enjoyment. We often hear of these sudden removals, but we do not know the secret thoughts of those who are thus unexpectedly cut off. He, who knows all the thoughts of all the men that have ever lived upon earth, has revealed to us what passed in the mind of a certain man just before his death. This man had grown rich through the fertility of his fields; his barns were completely filled with corn, wine, and oil; and he determined to pull down these storehouses, and to build larger. He never thought of distributing among the poor the overflowings of his granary, and it is too probable that much of his property had been acquired by the oppression of his laborers. He made plans for his own happiness, but had no desire to make others happy. He was so foolish as to believe that his soul would be satisfied by the abundance of the things he possessed. A beast indeed may be satisfied with a plentiful provision for its body; but a human creature has a soul that thirsts for some higher enjoyment than this world can afford. Sumptuous feasts cannot make him happy; nor lovely gardens and splendid houses, nor scientific knowledge and elegant accomplishments - no, not even affectionate friends and dutiful children. Nothing but communion with God can fill the aching void of the human soul. Adam was happy when he walked with God, but when by sin he lost that privilege, he became wretched. When man returns to God, he feels the first emotions of real bliss. David knew this, therefore he said, "Return unto your rest, O my soul." How different was David's command to his soul from that of the rich man, who said, "Soul, take your ease; eat, drink, and be merry!"

But even if the things of this world could satisfy an immortal spirit, there is one circumstance in our present lot that would embitter every moment. It is the uncertainty of life. Many a rich man remembers with uneasiness that he must one day (and he knows not how soon) leave all his possessions. This conviction is like a thorn in many a downy pillow, and in many a glittering crown. But he, whose history the Lord related, had contrived to smother this unpleasant recollection. He was deceived by the fond hope of many years' enjoyment of his riches. Well did he merit the name by which God called him, "You fool!"

How many lost spirits are now denouncing their own folly during the short season granted them on earth! What an opportunity we are now enjoying of securing real and eternal happiness! We might now, during this life, become rich towards God. Those are truly rich who have faith in the Lord Jesus. God has declared that some of the poor in this world are rich in faith. (James 2:5.) Faith is the gold that Christ offers to bestow on all that ask it - "I counsel you to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that you may be rich." (Revelation 3:18.) If faith is in our hearts, we shall never hear the summons, "You fool, this night your soul shall be required of you." But rather, we shall hear in God's appointed time a voice saying to our spirits, "Come up here." (Revelation 4:1.)

Title: Christ warns his disciples against worldly carefulness
Post by: nChrist on June 23, 2008, 06:51:27 PM
Devotional Commentary On The Gospels
by Favell Lee Mortimer ( 1802 - 1878 )

June 23

Christ warns his disciples against worldly carefulness
Luke 12:22-34

Does the history of the rich man, whose soul was so suddenly required, concern the rich only? or does it concern the poor also?

It was to the poor disciples that Jesus turned after he had related the striking history, and it was to them these words were addressed - "Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what you shall eat; neither for the body, what you shall put on." Covetousness led the rich man to say to his soul, "Take your ease, eat, drink, and be merry;" and covetousness might lead the poor disciples to ask, "What shall we eat, what shall we drink, and wherewithal shall we be clothed?"

All sinners are inclined to overvalue the creature, and to undervalue the Creator. The rich man betrayed this disposition by delighting in his well-stored barns, and forgetting his all-sufficient God. The disciples were in danger of repining when their bags were empty, and of forgetting their all-sufficient God. If you heard a person lamenting greatly because there was no water in his cup, you would suppose that he lived in a dry and thirsty land, where water could not be found; but if you knew that a fountain was playing at his door, then you would be astonished at his lamentations. Is not God a fountain of good? and is He not always near, and able to supply all our need? He does not even limit his goodness to those who acknowledge his benefits - millions of thoughtless beings are fed every day at his table - men who will not thank him, birds and beasts that cannot. How many He remembers who continually forget Him! And can He forget those who remember Him?

Has he not afforded us abundant proofs of his remembrance of all his creatures? Every little bird that sings among the branches, every painted flower that blooms among the grass, is a witness of the Lord's loving-kindness. Each seems to reproach the child of God with his unbelieving fears, and to say, "Be not of doubtful mind."

The Lord has so formed his living creatures that they need continual supplies of food to preserve their existence. Why has he formed us thus? Was it not to teach us dependence upon Himself? As we behold the throngs of people that pass along the street, the thought may naturally arise, "How have all these people obtained their bread this day?" The reply is, "Through the kind providence of God." Some of them, indeed, (unwilling to trust to this kind Providence,) have resorted to wicked means to gain their living; they have acted dishonestly and deceitfully. But had they all sought his kingdom and righteousness, would not their heavenly Father have fed them from His own hand? Undoubtedly he would. It is dreadful to think what sins people are led to commit through lack of trust in God; they steal, they tell lies, they break the Sabbath, they sell pernicious liquors, and corrupting books; because they believe, that if they did not use these wicked means of gaining a livelihood, they would be left to starve.

It is not surprising that those who do not know God should not trust him. The surprising thing is, that any who do know him should doubt his watchful care! Has he promised to give a kingdom to his little flock, and will he deny them daily bread? Has God had mercy on your soul, and will he neglect your body? Do you believe that He is love, and do you think that He will treat you as if He hated you?

In the land of Canada there once lived a mother, who in her eagerness to obtain intoxicating drink from a newly-arrived ship, left her babe upon the landing-place, and forgot to take it up again. It lay all night neglected and forlorn, and perished before morning. That mother was counted a monster. The Lord says to his children, "Can a woman forget her nursing child? Yes, they may forget, yet will I not forget you." (Isa_49:15.) Yet where is the Christian who places as much confidence in his Heavenly Father, as a little child places in his earthly parents?

Title: Christ exhorts his disciples to watch for his second coming
Post by: nChrist on June 23, 2008, 06:53:14 PM
Devotional Commentary On The Gospels
by Favell Lee Mortimer ( 1802 - 1878 )

June 24

Christ exhorts his disciples to watch for his second coming
Luke 12:35-48

There are three short parables contained in the passage we have just read. In the first of them Christ compares himself to a master, and his disciples to servants.

He is a master who is expected to return from his wedding to a feast prepared at his own house. It is the duty of the servants to be ready to receive their lord; therefore they must have their lights burning. They must also wait upon him, and therefore they must be girded, as men in the East are, when about to engage in active employment.

What a joyful view this parable gives of the coming of Christ! There is a marriage supper prepared for the Lamb who once was slain. The servants who are found watching shall be the guests at that feast, and their Lord shall condescend to serve them - they shall hunger no more, neither thirst any more, for the Lamb himself shall feed them.

The next parable compares the coming of Christ to the coming of a thief, who always endeavors to attack the house at an unexpected moment. What a dreadful view this parable gives of the coming of Christ! How unlike it is to the first parable! Will the coming of the Lord be to some like the breaking in of a thief? The apostle Paul declares that just when the ungodly are saying, "Peace and safety," then sudden destruction comes upon them; and they shall not escape. "But you, brethren, are not in darkness, that that day should overtake you as a thief." We see, therefore, why two such different parables were used by our Lord to represent the same event. He intended to teach us that while some have reason to rejoice at the expectation of his coming, others have reason to tremble at the thought.

It appears that Peter was alarmed by the latter parable - for he asked this question, "Lord, speak you this parable unto us, or even to all?" His Lord answered the question by relating another parable on the same subject as the former. In this parable he spoke of one servant who was set over the rest, and whom he called a steward, and who would be most guilty if he betrayed the trust reposed in him. The apostles were stewards, and all ministers are stewards. The word of God is the food, which they are to dispense to the rest of the household. Now, if a steward in his Lord's absence were to begin to ill-treat the servants, and to waste his master's property in rioting and drunkenness, how very much displeased his lord would be with him when he returned! The Scribes had reason to tremble as they listened to this parable; for though it was not spoken to them, it applied to them.

What idea would lead a steward to conduct himself in a disorderly and oppressive manner? The idea that his lord would not return soon. He would say, "My lord delays his coming." He might not go so far as to believe he would never return at all, and say with the scoffers, "Where is the promise of his coming?" but he would not be less guilty than those scoffers; he would be more guilty, because he is intrusted with more. To abuse confidence is to commit the worst sort of injury. In human laws the crime is always considered great in proportion to the trust that had been reposed in the criminal. A servant who betrays his master is counted more guilty than if he had been a stranger. There will be degrees in the misery of the lost; and the deepest degree of misery will be endured by him who abused the highest privileges.

Now let us, like Peter, ask this question - "Speak you this parable unto us?" Surely the Lord speaks to us in all these parables - for though we may not be stewards in the same sense that ministers are, we all have some charge committed to us. Are we acting now as we should wish we had done, if tomorrow we were to find ourselves on the brink of eternity? Is there any sin we are practicing, which we should renounce if we thought this day was our last! Who can say that it may not be our last! With some people this is the last day - with many more it is the last week - with thousands it is the last month - with millions the last year. Are we prepared to meet the Lord? If not, why do we not prepare immediately? There is a fountain opened for sin, in which we may immediately wash. Yet how many have never washed in it! If Christ were to come now, he would find them in their sins. Say not, "He will not come yet;" for remember it is very dangerous even to think, "My lord delays his coming."

Title: Christ foretells that the Gospel will occasion divisions
Post by: nChrist on June 23, 2008, 06:54:56 PM
Devotional Commentary On The Gospels
by Favell Lee Mortimer ( 1802 - 1878 )

June 25

Christ foretells that the Gospel will occasion divisions
Luke 12:49-53

The Lord Jesus is called the Prince of peace; yet he did not come to bring peace upon the earth, but rather division.

Is not this surprising? How can we understand the song of the angels, who joined in chorus at his birth, saying, "Peace on earth, good-will to men?" The difficulty, however, may be explained.

Jesus came to bring divisions first, and afterwards peace. And why did he bring divisions first? Why not peace from beginning to end? It was because the wickedness of man opposes the peaceful doctrines of the holy Gospel.

Can anything show in a stronger light the depravity of the human heart than the manner in which the Gospel has been received by the world? If any doubt whether man is very wicked, and very far gone from original righteousness, let them reflect on this fact. If pardon were now offered to the evil spirits in darkness, could they reject the boon with more contempt than the world in general has rejected the offer of pardon in the Gospel? But the world has not been satisfied with rejecting it - they have persecuted those few happy people who have accepted it. Even now there is scarcely a large family to be found, all of whom have embraced the gracious offer. In many families there are none; in others, there is one or two who have believed, while the rest despise both the message and those who believe it. Sometimes it is a pious parent, who is despised by his thoughtless children - sometimes it is a pious child, who is opposed by his worldly parent. Nations are divided in the same manner as families. No wars have been so bitter as religious wars; no persecution so bloody as religious persecutions, or, rather, the persecutions OF the religious. Shall we think ill of religion because it produces these effects? As well might we deem the medicines of the physician hurtful, because at first they often increase the sufferings of the patient. The Lord Jesus, who foresaw all events, rejoiced that his Gospel would be preached in every land.

He said, "I am come to send fire on the earth, and what will I if it be already kindled?" What is the meaning of these words?

"What will I?" Do I wish it to be otherwise?

"If it be already kindled," if even now the Gospel has begun to create confusion.

The Prince of peace was willing that for a while confusion should prevail, in order that happiness at length might fill the earth, and endure forever. He was willing himself to encounter the most bitter sufferings, in order that afterwards he might be exalted to God's right hand. The baptism he desired was a baptism of blood. Bathed in his own blood, he suffered for our sins in Gethsemane and Calvary. He was straitened until this baptism was accomplished. He longed to finish his work, and to receive his reward; and now he longs for the period when the earth will be no more steeped in blood, but covered by the waters of righteousness. He has commanded us to pray for that glorious time, and to say, "Your kingdom come." In those days shall "the righteous flourish, and abundance of peace as long as the moon endures." (Psalms 72:7.) When Jesus comes the second time, he will put an end to all divisions, whether in families or between nations. "Violence shall no more be heard in your land, wasting nor destruction within your borders." For this delightful day the saints earnestly hope, and "with patience wait." (Romans 8:25.)

Title: Christ reproves the people for not discerning the signs of the time
Post by: nChrist on June 26, 2008, 10:41:16 PM
Devotional Commentary On The Gospels
by Favell Lee Mortimer ( 1802 - 1878 )

June 26

Christ reproves the people for not discerning the signs of the time
Luke 12:54

The long discourse contained in this chapter was addressed to the disciples, excepting these few words at the conclusion. They were addressed to the people - to the immense multitude who surrounded the Savior, and who were pressed so closely together that they trod upon each other.

The Lord had spoken to his own disciples with tenderness. He had called them his "friends," (see ver. 4.) "My friends, be not afraid of them that kill the body." But he spoke to the people with displeasure. He called them "hypocrites." This was the name he had given to the Scribes and Pharisees. The people were like the teachers they admired. Blind leaders have blind followers. Hypocritical teachers have hypocritical disciples. The Scribes would not discern the signs of the time, and the people who reverenced them would not discern them either. "Like people, like priest." (Hosea 4:9.)

As there are certain appearances by which close observers are able to foretell the kind of weather that may be expected, so there are certain signs by which reflecting minds might discover the kind of time that is approaching. When the time for the deliverance of Israel from Egypt drew near, the parents of Moses knew it was near, and Moses knew it also; but the Israelites understood not the signs of that time. When the captivity of Babylon drew near, the people of God knew the time; but the world knew it not. When the time for Israel's release approached, Daniel knew it; but many of the captives knew it not. When, in the fullness of time, God sent forth his Son, some were prepared to receive him. Simeon and Anna knew the signs of the time, and spoke of Jesus to those who looked for redemption in Jerusalem; but the world knew not the signs of the time.

Thus it shall be in the last time. It is prophesied in Daniel, that the wise shall understand, but none of the wicked shall understand. (See Daniel 12:10.) The wicked shall go on doing wickedly, just as the people did before the flood.

Had the Jews of old understood the time, they would have repented before it was too late. They knew not that their opportunity would be so short. The Savior would remain with them but a little while, the apostles would preach only for a few years, and then their city would be destroyed, their temple burnt, and their country laid desolate.

Their compassionate Lord knew that their day of grace was fast hastening to a close, and he related a little parable (which he had before related in his sermon on the mount) to warn them of their danger. He compared the nation to a criminal on his way to the judge. While on his way, the criminal had the opportunity to entreat his enemy to be reconciled; but if he neglected this short opportunity, he would be tried, condemned, and cast into a prison, whence he would never escape.

The Lord knows for how long a period we shall enjoy the privileges we now possess - He has numbered our Sabbaths, our meetings together as a family to read and pray, our interviews with pious friends, our opportunities of secret prayer. In mercy He often gives signs before He removes these sacred privileges. Sometimes the signs are terrible judgments inflicted upon others, and gracious deliverances granted to ourselves. Thus the Lord said to Israel, "I have overthrown some of you, as God overthrew Sodom and Gomorrah - and you were as a firebrand plucked out of the burning; yet have you not returned unto me, says the Lord." (Amos 4:11.) "Prepare to meet your God, O Israel." The Lord Jesus is now easy to be entreated, and ready to forgive; but when He is on his throne of judgment, he will hearken to no entreaties, and grant no forgiveness.

In the lone land of deep despair,
No Sabbath's heavenly light shall rise - 
No God regard your bitter prayer,
No Savior call you to the skies.
Now God invites, how blessed the day!
How sweet the gospel's heavenly sound!
Come, sinners, haste, O haste away,
While yet a pardoning God is found.

Title: Christ speaks of two dreadful events that had lately happened at Jerusalem
Post by: nChrist on June 26, 2008, 10:43:04 PM
Devotional Commentary On The Gospels
by Favell Lee Mortimer ( 1802 - 1878 )

June 27

Christ speaks of two dreadful events that had lately happened at Jerusalem
Luke 13:1-5

It is most interesting to us to know what passes in heaven respecting ourselves. In this passage, some of the light of the other world is let into our dark prison.

The discourses of the Lord were often interrupted by the questions and remarks of his hearers. On this occasion some of those present spoke of an dreadful event that had lately happened in Jerusalem. Perhaps they thought that this event was unknown to the Lord until they told him of it. But all things that ever had occurred, or ever would occur, were known to him, for they were appointed by him. He knew of this appalling transaction, and he knew its secret causes.

Some of the men of Galilee had lately rebelled against the Roman power. Pontius Pilate, the governor, had sent officers to apprehend the rebels. In what place were they found? In the temple. How were they engaged? Offering sacrifices. Though rebels, they continued to approach God; but their services were odious in his sight. The Roman officers respected neither the place nor the employment, but slew the rebels, and mingled their blood with the blood of the beasts that were ready to be sacrificed. Many people who heard of the event concluded that because these men perished in so dreadful a manner, they were sinners of the deepest dye. But is this the rule of God's government? Does he mark out the most signal transgressors for the most signal judgments? In human courts of justice it is the ringleader who is condemned, when his accomplices often escape punishment. No doubt God also would act in this manner, were this earth the place of judgment. But there is another place of judgment - there sinners are punished in exact proportion to their guilt. He who knew his Lord's will, and did it not, shall be beaten with many stripes. But in this world some of the most daring offenders live at ease, and die in apparent peace. The rich man in the parable, who lifted up his eyes in torments, had lived in luxury and been buried with honor; while the faithful Lazarus, covered with sores, had languished at his gate. Jonathan, the generous friend of David, fell in battle, and his body, as well as the wicked Saul's, was exposed by the Philistines. When we hear of shipwrecks, and of fires, we often find the wicked and the just have shared the same fate. Sometimes one out of a great number escapes alone. Is he the best, the most approved by God? Perhaps he is the most guilty. When Saul slew the priests of the Lord, one alone escaped. It was Abiathar. Was he a faithful priest? No! he became a rebel and a traitor. Then what are we to learn from the judgments of the Lord? To fear THAT God who CAN destroy all his enemies. It is love that arrests his arm, and causes him to suspend the blow that is ready to descend.

Though the righteous are slain with the wicked, they are not involved in their destruction. To them sudden death is sudden glory. Those who have witnessed their behavior in the midst of storms, and in the approach of death, have testified to their calmness and their joy. When the Pegasus was wrecked, there was a pious minister on board, named Mackenzie, whose voice was raised in intercessions for his companions in danger, until the billows overwhelmed them all. It was beautiful to behold him, surrounded by the shrieking crew, composed, and peaceful in the midst of the tumult of the waves. Was sudden death a judgment to this holy man? But it was an dreadful judgment to those who had despised the gospel, and neglected their own souls. Whenever we hear of these calamities, God is speaking to us in a voice of thunder, and saying, "Except you repent, you shall perish."

Title: The parable of the fig-tree
Post by: nChrist on June 26, 2008, 10:44:48 PM
Devotional Commentary On The Gospels
by Favell Lee Mortimer ( 1802 - 1878 )

June 28

The parable of the fig-tree
Luke 13:6-9

With this dreadful parable the Lord concluded his discourse to the innumerable multitude who were pressed together around him.

It seems to have been uttered as a warning to the whole Jewish nation. That people had long enjoyed distinguished privileges, but their greatest had been the ministry of the Lord Jesus. It had now lasted about three years. How had they profited from it? They were still "hypocrites," (Luke 12:56.) But the Lord was unwilling to give them up. During the course of the coming year further efforts would be made for their salvation. In a few months the great sacrifice for sin would be offered, the great triumph of the Son of God by rising from the dead would take place, and the Holy Spirit would descend in flaming fire upon the disciples, and the gospel would be preached in power at Jerusalem. Would the nation repent when they saw and heard these things? No, they would not. The sentence would then go forth, "Cut it down." The sentence has been executed. That fig-tree, the Jewish nation, has been cut down, but the ROOTS are yet left in the earth. The words of Job may be applied to that afflicted people - "There is hope of a tree, if it be cut down, that it will sprout again, and that the tender branches thereof will not cease. Though the root thereof wax old in the earth, and the stock thereof die in the ground; yet through the scent of water it will bud, and bring forth boughs like a plant." (Job 14:7-9.)

The water from heaven shall at length descend upon the chosen nation, and the dry stump shall send forth green shoots; Israel shall bud, and blossom, and fill the face of the world with fruit; the Jews shall return to their own land, and worship their crucified Redeemer. But does this parable apply to that nation alone, and does it not apply to individuals? There is not one single plant in God's vineyard that is not watched over by the great husbandman. The Lord exercises great patience towards each; but at the same time he will not allow unfruitful trees always to encumber the ground. He had great patience with Saul, the king of Israel, but after giving him repeated trials, and repeated warnings, He took away his mercy from him. (2 Samuel 7:15.) We are not permitted to hear the counsels of heaven respecting ourselves, but we know that our state of heart and our conduct are observed by Him who sees all things.

The gardener is slow in determining to cut down a tree that he has nurtured with care. How much more unwilling is the compassionate Savior to cast off those whom he has blessed with great privileges! Many who pray not for themselves, are prayed for by others; their time for repentance is lengthened out - but not forever. A sudden stroke often cuts off those who have long refused to hear the gentle invitations of the gospel - "He who being often reproved, hardens his heart, shall suddenly be destroyed, and that without remedy."

But there are no sinners more provoking to the Lord than those, who when they hear His threatenings, say in their hearts, "I shall have peace, though I walk in the imagination of my heart." These presumptuous transgressors are likened to roots that bear, instead of fruit, gall and wormwood. And how will God deal with them? His anger, and his jealousy, will smoke against them, and he will blot out their names from under heaven. (Deuteronomy 29:18-20.)

Title: Christ restores a woman who was bowed together
Post by: nChrist on June 26, 2008, 10:46:12 PM
Devotional Commentary On The Gospels
by Favell Lee Mortimer ( 1802 - 1878 )

June 29

Christ restores a woman who was bowed together
Luke 13:10-17

The objects that attracted the Savior's eye were those that the world overlooks or even derides. A poor creature bowed down, and in nowise able to lift herself up, would incur many a contemptuous glance from the thoughtless and unfeeling. Some poor cripples are afraid of venturing out of their houses, lest they should meet with scornful looks or hear unfeeling remarks. But this afflicted woman was not restrained by such fears from entering the public congregation. With pain and difficulty she must have reached the place of worship. There are pious people who love the house of God so well, that they drag their decrepit frames along the toilsome way, resting now upon a bank, and now upon a stone, rejoicing when they reach the threshold, as a voyager when he lands upon a distant shore. Souls that thirst after God, spare no pains to get a refreshing draught from the wells of salvation.

How must this poor woman have felt when she heard the Lord Jesus desire her to approach! She did not apply to him for relief; perhaps she did not know that he would be at the synagogue; and as she could not lift herself up, she may never have seen his gracious countenance. But when she heard his voice, she refused not to come near. The Savior laid his hands upon her and healed her. Her first act was "to glorify God." There were some present who, instead of being touched by the sight of her joy, were filled with indignation. The ruler of the synagogue was one of these. He had not dared to prevent the Lord from teaching in the synagogue, because he knew the admiration in which he was held by the people. But now he could no longer restrain his rage, and he angrily addressed the congregation, saying, "There are six days in which men ought to work; in them therefore, come and be healed, and not on the Sabbath days." The people had not come to the synagogue in order to be healed; they had come to worship God. The ruler knew this, but he only sought for some pretense to hinder the glorious triumphs of the Redeemer.

It was foolish ever to attempt to argue against the Lord of all wisdom. By one word he could confound his most subtle adversaries. He exposed the hollowness of the ruler's heart, by showing that the compassion exercised towards a beast on the Sabbath-day must surely not be withheld from a child of Abraham. How many arguments are now brought forward against various plans of doing good to souls, that the Savior would overturn by such an appeal as this!

The same reply that stung the ruler to the quick, must have poured consolation into the poor woman's heart. The Lord called her a daughter of Abraham; and he acknowledged none to be the children of Abraham except those who did "the works of Abraham." Could the straightness of her body afford her as much joy as the assurance of the safety of her soul?

She discovered also the cause of her affliction. It was the power of an evil spirit that had bound her for eighteen years. If her faith was now like that of Abraham, we see it had been exercised by long and heavy trials. But those trials had not been longer nor heavier than was necessary for the perfecting of her faith. From the beginning of her affliction the day of release had been known to the Lord, though unknown to her. The glories of that day must have made her forget the long period of her sorrow. Was not that day glorious in which she was called, and touched, and commended by her Savior? It seems an emblem of that more glorious day when the people of God will be made free forever from the bondage of corruption, and will receive from their Lord the assurance of his everlasting favor. How light all the afflictions of this life will then appear! how short their period! Whether they lasted eighteen or eighty years, the time will then appear as a moment.

Title: The man who was born blind
Post by: nChrist on June 26, 2008, 10:47:47 PM
Devotional Commentary On The Gospels
by Favell Lee Mortimer ( 1802 - 1878 )

June 30

The man who was born blind
John 9:1-5

The disciples asked a very singular question, when they said, "Who did sin, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?" How could they suppose that any sin of the man could cause him to be born blind? It appears that they must have entertained a superstitious notion common among the Jews with regard to the soul. Some of them imagined that souls passed from one body to another, and that when they had acted wickedly in one body, the next time they were born into the world, they received some punishment. This was an idea taken from the heathen, and was very false and absurd. How dangerous it is for men to follow their own imaginations respecting things unseen! The Scriptures give us a true account of all things; if we would follow them alone, we should be spared many tormenting ideas. How painful it must have been for men born blind to think that their blindness was the punishment of sins they could not remember, and which, in fact, they had not committed! How it must have added to the weight of their calamity, to find themselves regarded by their fellow-creatures as objects of God's especial displeasure!

But the Lord Jesus viewed this blind man with especial tenderness. Those most afflicted in their bodies are sometimes the most honored, and the most beloved of God. There are many people who could testify that it was through the loss of a limb, or of sight, or of hearing, they were brought to know the Savior's power and grace.

And why did the Lord take a deep interest in this blind beggar? Was it because he felt compassion for one who had never beheld the light of day? No doubt he did feel this compassion; but there was another feeling, stronger even than compassion, that filled his heart. It was the desire for his Father's glory. He knew that in this blind man his Father's power and grace would be shown forth. Therefore, when the disciples asked the reason of the poor beggar's blindness, he told them the reason was, "that the works of God should be made manifest in him." When affliction is sent, let each of us reflect, "Perhaps this trial has been appointed that God's power may be shown in sustaining me under it, or in delivering me from it." If we love God fervently, we shall be willing to suffer in order to promote his glory.

One mode of promoting it is by suffering his will; but there is another mode - doing his will. When we are not pressed down by the weight of some affliction, we should be seeking for opportunities of doing good to our fellow-creatures. How impressive are the Savior's words - "I must work the works of him that sent me, while it is day - the night comes, when no man can work." The Lord Jesus knew the exact period when the night of death would put an end to his labors of love upon earth. But we know not at what moment that night will overtake us, and deprive us of the opportunity of serving God any more here below. Have we begun to do the works of God? The first work is to believe in the Lord Jesus Christ. Are we spending our days in pleasing ourselves, or in pleasing God? How many are now wrapped in the shades of night who misspent the short day in which they might have served the Lord!

Sometimes, when night comes on, we remember some business that we have omitted, and that we ought to have done during the day. We think to ourselves, "We will do it to-morrow." But when the night of death is at hand, we shall not be able to make that resolution. What has been left undone, can never be done at all by us. If the great business has been left undone - if the one thing needful has been forgotten, how miserable will be our condition! But if we have obtained pardon ourselves, this will not satisfy us. We shall wish that we had helped our fellow-creatures out of their misery by directing them to the Savior. How blessed were the last hours of Count Zinzendorf! They were spent in praising God for having converted so many of the heathen. "I only hoped," said the Count, "to do a little good, to see a few poor heathen turn to the Lord, and behold thousands have believed." It filled him with joy to think he was going to meet some of them in heaven - Indians, and Negroes, and Greenlanders, whom he had never seen upon earth, but to save whom he had sent missionaries to distant lands. Many who saw him die were heard to say, "May my last end be like his."

If we wish to die as he did, let us now remember the command, "Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with your might." (Ecclesiastes 9:10.)

Title: Christ directs the blind man to wash in Siloam
Post by: nChrist on July 02, 2008, 05:40:55 AM
Devotional Commentary On The Gospels
by Favell Lee Mortimer ( 1802 - 1878 )

July 1

Christ directs the blind man to wash in Siloam
John 9:6-23

There were many reasons that might have deterred the Savior from curing the blind man. It was the Sabbath-day - enemies were watching his actions, in the hope of renewing their accusations against him - the blind man did not ask to be healed, neither did the disciples plead for him. Jesus might have passed on without noticing the poor beggar, but He would not lose the opportunity of glorifying his Father. He knew that the restoration of the blind man would be a miracle that would attract public attention; because it was generally known in Jerusalem that the man had been blind from his birth. The means He used were peculiar to this occasion. The Lord made clay, and put it over the man's eyes, and then bade him wash in a pool. Who could have thought that clay could be used as a means of restoring sight? But God shows forth his power by employing the most unlikely means for performing his greatest wonders. His greatest wonder of all, the redemption of the world, was effected by the most unlikely means - the crucifixion of the Son of Man; and the preaching of the cross, though by some counted foolishness, is to them that are saved the power of God. But the man was not restored by the clay alone - he was commanded to wash in a pool called Siloam, which signifies Sent. If he had not obeyed the command he would not have obtained the blessing. Neither can sinners obtain pardon unless they obey the command to wash in the fountain of Christ's blood.

When this poor man had received his sight, he did not enjoy the privilege of beholding his benefactor. He did not know where to find him, and if he had met him, he would not have known him.

He soon found himself surrounded by enemies, and standing before the Pharisees to be judged. For what? Because he was a witness of the power of Jesus, whom they hated.

What could this poor man do? There was no one to answer for him; his benefactor was not near to defend him, and his parents refused to say a word in his behalf. How did he behave in these difficult circumstances? With more courage than the apostles showed when first placed in similar peril.

When the Jews inquired, "What say you of him?" he boldly replied, "He is a prophet." Thus he was faithful to the truth as far as he knew it. God has promised "to him that has shall be given." Those who follow the convictions of their consciences shall receive more grace.

How ungenerous was the conduct of the beggar's parents! They showed no gratitude for the benefit conferred upon their son, nor were they willing to run any risk in order to shield their own offspring from disgrace, but left him to stand alone against the host of his enemies. When asked how he had obtained his sight, they replied, "He is of age - ask him." How little they thought those words would be recorded to their everlasting shame! They sought to escape disgrace; but they have incurred the deepest. They feared lest they should be put out of the synagogue; but they considered not the danger of being shut out of heaven. How the heart of the poor blind man must have sunk within him when he heard his own parents refusing to take his part! It is a heavy trial to pious children when their parents hang back, and say nothing in their defense; much more when they join with an ungodly world in reproaching them. At such a moment they have need to think of the words of the psalmist; "When my father and my mother forsake me, then the Lord will take me up." (Proverbs 27:10.)

Many Christians can remember a time in their lives when they were desolate - when they "looked on their right hand, and beheld, and there was no man that would know them." Then it was, they looked to the Lord, and said, "You are my refuge, and my portion in the land of the living."

Title: The Pharisees cast out the man who was born blind
Post by: nChrist on July 02, 2008, 05:42:39 AM
Devotional Commentary On The Gospels
by Favell Lee Mortimer ( 1802 - 1878 )

July 2

The Pharisees cast out the man who was born blind
John 9:24-34

The conduct of the Pharisees was exactly opposite to that of the man who was born blind. The Pharisees betrayed their hypocrisy in every word they uttered, while the poor beggar evinced in all his replies sincerity. They endeavored to cover their hatred against the Savior by an appearance of religion. They said, "Give God the praise - this man is a sinner." But the single and straight-forward character with whom they argued was not to be deceived by their affectation of piety. He reasoned well; he kept to facts. He said, "Whereas I was blind, now I see." This was a fact, a convincing fact. There are many who can meet all the arguments used against true religion by this declaration - "Whereas I was a dark, ignorant creature, a stranger to God and myself; now I know that he is gracious, and that I am a sinner. I rejoice in the light that his gospel has poured into my mind, and I am persuaded that His word is truth."

Experience strengthens the mind against the attacks of infidels, more than all the philosophy in the world.

The Pharisees became enraged when they found they could make no impression on the poor man's mind. The inquiry, "Will you also be his disciples?" offended their pride, and provoked them to use insulting language. But the beggar betrayed neither anger nor fear. He boldly yet calmly answered, "God hears not sinners." This was a scriptural sentiment - "The prayer of the wicked is an abomination to the Lord." The prayers of penitent sinners are heard, but not the prayers of those sinners who are pursuing a course of iniquity. If Jesus had been an impostor, God would not have heard him, or enabled him to do miracles. The poor man did not know that Jesus was the Son of God, but he felt assured that he was a true prophet. He believed, as Nicodemus once did, that he was a teacher sent from God. But how much more courageous he was than Nicodemus! The ruler came to Jesus by night for fear of the Jews, his equals in power and authority - the beggar in open day acknowledged Him before his superiors in rank and station. Nicodemus had much learning; he was a master or teacher in Israel; the beggar having been born blind, could not even have learned to read. Yet Nicodemus knew less of the truth than the blind beggar.

God delights in showing his power by exalting those whom the world despises. A simple peasant has often a clearer view of the gospel than a learned, though sincere, inquirer. It is the Holy Spirit who opens the eyes of the understanding, and sometimes he enlightens with his brightest beams the most ignorant. If we would be truly wise, we must pray for His light.

The poor man was not suffered to go unpunished. The Pharisees, after first reproaching him in an unfeeling manner, saying, "You were altogether born in sins," proceeded to cast him out. Though they still permitted him to enter the synagogue, they forbade him to approach any of the congregation. Did no fears oppress his mind respecting his temporal provision? Unaccustomed to work, how could he earn his daily bread? or how could an excommunicated man hope to obtain alms from the passers-by? Thus he suffered the loss of all things for his Savior's sake. He is the first whose name is recorded as openly disgraced for confessing Christ. He is the first of a glorious train, some of whom suffered reproach, others imprisonment, and others death, because they would not deny Jesus. His case was singular, because he knew not the glory of the Being on whose account he was cast out. He knew not that he was the Son of God.

If we, who do know who Jesus is, should be ashamed of him before the world, how would the conduct of this poor beggar condemn us! May the Lord give us grace not to be afraid of a man that shall die, or of the son of man that shall be made as grass; but to fear him who stretched forth the heavens, and laid the foundations of the earth, even Him who raised the Lord Jesus from the dead, and will raise us also, if we believe in Him.

For what is man, and what - his smile?
The terror of his anger - what?
Like grass he flourishes awhile,
And then his place shall know him not.
For fear of such an one shall I
The Lord of Heaven and earth deny?

Title: Christ finds the outcast
Post by: nChrist on July 02, 2008, 05:44:16 AM
Devotional Commentary On The Gospels
by Favell Lee Mortimer ( 1802 - 1878 )

July 3

Christ finds the outcast
John 9:35-38

Even a human creature, though of an evil nature, is interested in one who suffers for his sake. If we knew of a person, who was plunged into trouble for defending us, would not every generous and compassionate feeling lead us to fly to his consolation!

How much more must the Son of God, who is infinitely good, have felt for one who was suffering for his sake! Did he not show that he cared for the blind man, by seeking him when cast out by his persecutors? It was easy for the all-seeing Shepherd to find the sheep that had been driven away. He had followed him with his eye, and had strengthened him with his grace, even when he appeared to have forsaken him, and to have left him to suffer alone. He who saw Nathaniel under the fig-tree, saw the once blind beggar when insulted by the Pharisees, and when cast out of the synagogue.

We are not told on what spot he found him, but we are told in what manner he spoke to him. Did the poor man recognize his benefactor? Though he had never seen his countenance, surely that voice could never be forgotten, which had pronounced the words, "Go, wash in the pool of Siloam." It must have filled his heart with delight when he heard that beloved voice again. After all the bitter revilings that had been heaped upon him, how those kind accents must have soothed his feelings! Jesus had sought him, and found him, and he was come to bestow richer blessings upon him than at the first. He was come to manifest Himself to him. He asked, "Do you believe on the Son of God?" The poor man answered, "Who is he, Lord, that I might believe on him?" There was nothing but ignorance that hindered this man from believing. The Lord speedily removed it by saying, "You have both seen him, and it is He who talks with you." Then the poor man exclaimed, "Lord, I believe." Not satisfied with declaring his belief, he offered his homage - he worshiped the Son of God.

There are none of us who are in his state of ignorance. We cannot say, "Who is the Son of God, that we might believe on him?" We heard from our early childhood that JESUS was the Son of God. Though we have not seen him, and though he has not talked with us, yet we know that he died for us, and that he is now living to intercede for us, if we come to God in his name. The beggar did not know so much as this, when he said, "Lord, I believe." Yet how hard-hearted and ungrateful we should think him, if he had not believed in the Being who had done so much for him! He knew that every word his benefactor uttered must be truth. Before he had seen him he had loved him, and had suffered for his sake; and when he did see him, and when he knew who he was, he adored him. Do we believe in the Son of God? Do we love him? Are we willing to suffer contempt for his sake? Then our first meeting with him will be joyful. God has promised that we shall behold our Savior, that we shall see him face to face, that we shall hear him speak. What will be our feelings when we actually look upon the glorious Being who died for us? What will be our joy, if he receive us with the same kindness which he showed to the poor beggar! In one moment, that man must have forgotten the reproaches and revilings of the Pharisees. It was worth enduring all their sneers, to obtain one gracious smile from the Lord of glory.

If ever we are exposed to the contempt of our fellow-creatures, on account of our fidelity to Christ, let us reflect on the time when we shall behold His countenance. Had the poor man treacherously betrayed his benefactor in the presence of the Pharisees, how would he have felt when he saw him, and knew that he was the Son of God! He would have desired, as Adam did, to hide himself, that he might not encounter his upbraiding glance.

Jesus will come again, with clouds, and every eye shall see him. And shall every eye beam with gladness when it beholds him? O no! all kindreds of the earth shall wail because of him. But some among all kindreds will rejoice. "They shall lift up their voice, they shall sing for the majesty of the Lord, they shall cry aloud from the sea." (Isaiah 24:14.) May we act so faithfully during his absence, that we may be glad when He returns!

Title: Christ accuses the Pharisees of willful blindness
Post by: nChrist on July 02, 2008, 05:45:47 AM
Devotional Commentary On The Gospels
by Favell Lee Mortimer ( 1802 - 1878 )

July 4

Christ accuses the Pharisees of willful blindness

John 9:39-41

We know not in what circumstances the interview between Jesus and the poor outcast took place, whether it occurred when they were alone, or surrounded by Pharisees.

Soon afterwards, however, we find Jesus again addressing his enemies in these words - "For judgment am I come into this world." But did not he come into the world for salvation? Yes, salvation with judgment; that is, with distinction of character. He did not save all, but those only who received him. He came in such a form, and in such a way, that the world would not receive him. Had he come in splendor and glory, then all would have received him; but he came adorned with the beauty of holiness, and not with the pomp of kings. By coming in this manner he tried men's hearts. The aged Simeon, when he blessed the infant Savior, declared, "He shall be a sign that shall be spoken against, that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed."

The proud and worldly-minded rejected the lowly Savior; the humble and contrite loved and followed him. The man who had just been cast out of the synagogue was one of those whom Jesus came to save. He knew he was a sinner, and that he needed a Savior. The Pharisees who cast him out, thought they were holy, and needed no Savior. The Lord drew the characters of the outcast and of his persecutors in these words - "For judgment am I come into this world; that they which see not might see, and that they which see might be made blind." The Pharisees rightly supposed that the Lord alluded to them in the latter part of this declaration, and they insolently inquired, "Are we blind also?" Jesus returned a mysterious answer - "If you were blind, you should have no sin; but now you say, 'We see;' therefore your sin remains." In one sense the Pharisees were blind, - in another sense they were not blind. They saw not the glory of God - but why? because they willfully shut their eyes.

God will condemn none of his creatures for ignorance which they cannot avoid. "If you were blind," said the Savior, "you should have no sin." But it is an aggravated case when a sinner shuts his eyes against the light, and at the same time declares that he sees. In such conduct, rebellion, and pride, and falsehood are combined. Yet this was the way in which the Pharisees acted. They were determined not to acknowledge Jesus to be the Son of God. Whether he cast out devils, or raised the dead - whether his lips poured forth divine wisdom, or his countenance beamed with celestial goodness, they had made up their minds they would not believe in him, and they would hinder the people also from believing. They would never renounce the high character they had obtained among men; they would still persist in saying, "We see." What would be the punishment of such wickedness? It would be this - the eyes they willfully shut would be sealed up in sevenfold darkness.

Those are in a dangerous state who refuse to think of religion; but those are in a much more dangerous state who have a form of religion, and call it true religion. They are the most bitter enemies to the truth. Careless sinners often have a kind of respect for devoted Christians, and express a wish that they resembled them; but those who put their trust in an outward show of piety, despise and hate real believers. While they willfully close their eyes against the spiritual doctrines of Christ, they confidently assert that they see, and they alone. What will be the astonishment of Pharisees and hypocrites when their eyes are opened, and they behold in another world the believers whom they despised seated with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, around the throne of God! Devils believe, and, in hell, wicked men believe that Jesus is the Son of God. Truths they would not understand in the land of gospel light, shall be clearly seen in the land of outer darkness, amid the fire that never shall be quenched.

Title: The parable of the good Shepherd
Post by: nChrist on July 02, 2008, 05:47:24 AM
Devotional Commentary On The Gospels
by Favell Lee Mortimer ( 1802 - 1878 )

July 5

The parable of the good Shepherd
John 10:1-6

The Pharisees had understood the meaning of the Lord when he spoke of blindness, but they did not understand the parable of the good shepherd. Had they known that they were represented under the figure of thieves and robbers, how great would have been their indignation! Yet such indeed they were, because they robbed God, for they destroyed the souls of his people by their false instructions. They loved to feed on the flesh, and to clothe themselves in the fleece of the sheep, but they cared not for the flock. They sought their own gain, and their own reputation, but not the glory of God.

What is meant by their climbing over the wall into the sheepfold, instead of entering by the door? The door represents Christ. The Pharisees did not come in by the door, for they did not believe in the Savior. But who is the shepherd of the sheep? How many little children could answer, "Jesus is the good Shepherd!" Some could say, "He is my shepherd." They know He is their shepherd, because they love him.

How did Jesus show he was the true shepherd? By his manner of coming in to the fold, and by his manner of going out. He did not climb over the wall, as thieves and robbers do, but entered by the door, openly declaring that he was the Son of God. "To him the porter opens." Does not the porter represent the prophets? Christ was the Shiloh of whom Jacob had spoken nearly two thousand years before, and the Lamb of God to whom John the Baptist had lately pointed.

He showed he was the Shepherd of the sheep by his manner of going out. He led his flock. He called them by their names, according to the custom of shepherds in the East; when he called them, he went before them. None but the true shepherd could lead the sheep; strangers would have been forced to drive them. It is very interesting to behold an eastern shepherd going before his sheep and leading them to their pastures. His flock know the voice of their own shepherd, and would not obey the call of any other.

Nathanael was one of the sheep of Christ. When Jesus saw him, he said, "Behold an Israelite indeed, in whom there is no deceit." Thus he showed he knew him. He was like a shepherd calling his sheep by its name. Did Nathanael hear the shepherd's voice? Yes, he replied; "You are the Son of God; you are the King of Israel." The man born blind was another of Christ's sheep. When the shepherd said to him, "Do you believe on the Son of God?" he soon replied, "Lord, I believe." Have we heard the voice of the shepherd, calling us to follow him to the green pastures? None but his sheep hear that voice. They hear it sounding in the depths of their hearts, saying, "Come unto me, all you that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest." They listen to the voice, and say to their own souls, "Return unto your rest, O my soul." They feel safe while they follow their Shepherd. Each says to Him, "Cause me to know the way wherein I should walk." (Psalms 143:8.) The poor helpless sheep cannot tell which is the path that leads to glory, but his shepherd can. After passing through some dark valley, the sheep says, "When my spirit was overwhelmed within me, you knew my path." (Psalms 142:3.) The further the sheep goes in the way, the more trust he feels in his shepherd; and when he comes to the edge of the last valley he is able to say, "Though I pass through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me." We know what lies beyond that valley - Mount Zion. It is to that fair mountain the shepherd conducts his flock.

But while other shepherds are of a different nature from the sheep they tend, the good shepherd has taken on him the nature of his flock. "The Lamb which is in the midst of the throne shall feed them, and shall lead them unto living fountains of waters." (Revelation 7:17.) Having fed, and led them upon earth, he will feed and lead them in heaven. We shall never cease to require a shepherd's care. It is a delight to those who love Jesus to think that He will always be their shepherd and they his sheep.

Title: Christ explains the parable of the good shepherd
Post by: nChrist on July 09, 2008, 07:02:19 AM
Devotional Commentary On The Gospels
by Favell Lee Mortimer ( 1802 - 1878 )

July 6

Christ explains the parable of the good shepherd
John 10:7-13

We are thankful to the Lord for having explained the parable of the good shepherd. Most parts of it can be interpreted with certainty, because they have been explained by the great Teacher.

Nothing can be plainer than the words, "I am the door of the sheep." Jesus is the gate of the fold. No man can come to the Father but by him. He is the way to God. He offered himself as an atonement for our sins, and by faith in that sacrifice we can be saved. There are other shepherds besides Christ, (for his ministers are his under-shepherds,) but there is no door but him.

What do these words signify - "All that ever came before me are thieves and robbers?" Were the prophets thieves and robbers? No! the true prophets bore witness to Jesus; they were his under-shepherds; they entered by the door and fed the flock. This is the promise made to a faithful minister and to every true believer. "By me, if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture."

But though there are other shepherds besides Christ, there are none like him. None but Jesus could say, "I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly." God only can bestow natural life, and He only can bestow spiritual life. How wonderful are the means by which he bestows it! by laying down his own life.

In order to describe what he came to do for his sheep, He enlarged his parable, and related a circumstance which often occurs in pastoral countries.

"He who is an hireling, and not the shepherd, whose own the sheep are not, sees the wolf coming, and leaves the sheep and flees; and the wolf catches them, and scatters the sheep."

The Pharisees are called by another name in this part of the parable. They had been compared to thieves, and to strangers, but now they are compared to hirelings. In what did they resemble hirelings? In their want of love to the sheep. How did they betray their want of love? By fleeing at the approach of danger. It is true they could not by dying save the sheep. Why then did they not seek the protection of Him who could? This was their crime - they drove the sheep away from their only Savior, their true shepherd. The Pharisees had tried to drive the blind man away from him, but they had not been able - they had only driven him closer to his shepherd.

Jesus cares for the sheep, and for every lamb in the flock. He found that poor blind man, and gathered him in his arms, and carried him in his bosom. For those who are just beginning to believe in Christ are weak like lambs, although they may have lived many years in the world. We have a shepherd who cares for his sheep. He knows that many of them have been scattered. There are people at this moment who feel that they are sinners, and long for pardon, but no one has taught them to look to Jesus. The good shepherd knows where they are, and he says, "I will seek out my sheep, and I will deliver them out of all places where they have been scattered in the cloudy and dark day." (Ezekiel 34:12.) Has this Shepherd sought us, and found us? Can any of us say,

Jesus sought me when a stranger,
Wandering from the fold of God;
He, to rescue me from danger,
Interposed his precious blood?


Title: Christ concludes his discourse concerning the good shepherd
Post by: nChrist on July 09, 2008, 07:04:00 AM
Devotional Commentary On The Gospels
by Favell Lee Mortimer ( 1802 - 1878 )

July 7

Christ concludes his discourse concerning the good shepherd
John 10:14-21

In the conclusion of our Lord's interpretation of his parable there is no allusion made to the Pharisees. The only subject dwelt upon is the Good Shepherd's love for his sheep. Those who love their Shepherd must take particular delight in dwelling on this part of the Lord's discourse.

When Jesus said, "I know my sheep," he meant to teach us that he knew them to be his sheep, and loved them with parental affection - yes, with more than a mother's tenderness. A woman may forget her babe, but Jesus says to his church, "I will not forget you." And have the sheep any affection for their shepherd? Yes, they return his love. If he knows their names, they know his voice; if he leads them out, they follow him - "I know my sheep, and am known of mine."

The Savior makes use of a wonderful comparison to give us some idea of the intimate union that exists between the good shepherd and his sheep. The sentence would be better understood if read thus - "I know my sheep, and am known of mine, even as the Father knows me, and as I know the Father," (ver. 14, 15.) What proof has the shepherd given of his love for his sheep? The greatest that could be given - "I lay down my life for the sheep."

When the Savior spoke of his own death, what painful scenes must have risen before his view! The agony in the garden, the insults in the judgment-hall, the ignominy on the cross. But with these painful thoughts there was associated an overwhelming joy - the thought of the numbers he should save by his sufferings. When he uttered these words, "Other sheep I have, which are not of this fold," what an innumerable multitude of beloved children must have been present to his mind! for even at that moment he knew them all by name. Those other sheep were the Gentiles - they were then heathens. Thousands were bowing down to idols, slaughtering their enemies, and reveling in sin - and millions were yet unborn; yet the Savior called them his sheep. He knew they would believe when they heard of his love. Did he think of us when he said, "Other sheep I have?" for we are Gentiles. If we are now in his fold, if he is now our shepherd - then we may be assured that he thought of us also, when he said, "Other sheep I have; them also I must bring."

After declaring his own love for his sheep, He revealed the Father's love also. How much the Father must love the flock, if He loves the Son, because he died for them! This is not the only reason of his love for his Son, but it is one reason. He does indeed love the flock; He has proved it by a wonderful act. "The Father sent the Son to be the Savior of the world." "Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins." (1 John 4:10.)

The Son also loved us, and was willing to come - for it is written, "Christ also has loved us, and has given himself for us an offering, and a sacrifice to God." (Ephesians 5:2.)

Yet this Savior, so full of love, was spoken of by his creatures in this dreadful manner. Some said, "He has a devil, and is mad." How great was the patience of God, to permit those to live a moment longer who had uttered such an expression! It has been recorded in the Holy Scriptures, and will never be forgotten.

But how many since this discourse was written have felt as they read it, "Truly this was the Son of God! How precious are his words! How sweet are his promises! May the heavenly shepherd own me as his sheep at the last day!"


Title: Christ declares that he and his Father are one
Post by: nChrist on July 09, 2008, 07:05:38 AM
Devotional Commentary On The Gospels
by Favell Lee Mortimer ( 1802 - 1878 )

July 8

Christ declares that he and his Father are one
John 10:22-30

The feast of the dedication was not one of the three feasts ordained by God, but a feast instituted by man, to commemorate the purification of the temple after Antiochus Epiphanes, a heathen king, had defiled it by idols. This feast, however, was observed by Jesus; hence we may conclude that he does not disapprove setting apart days for the remembrance of special mercies.

As it was winter, the Lord taught in a part of the court of the temple that was covered in and sheltered from the weather. His enemies came to him, pretending to desire to know the truth - "If you be the Christ, tell us plainly." Jesus, however, knew their malicious design. He knew they sought to accuse him of blasphemy before the Sanhedrin. The answer that he made was not that which they expected, for he told them first, not who he was, but what they were. He said, "You are not of my sheep." He did not tell them plainly that they were the thieves, the strangers, and the hirelings, described in the parable; but he did tell them plainly, that they were not the sheep.

Christ knows his own sheep; the world cannot distinguish them from wolves in sheep's clothing, but it is enough, if their shepherd knows they belong to Him. However the flock may be scattered, not one of them shall ever be lost. Jesus knew that great efforts would be made to steal, and kill, and destroy them, but that all these efforts would be vain. He promised, "They shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand." The Pharisees had sought to pluck the poor man, born blind, out of his shepherd's hand - to arguments and threatenings they had added insults and injuries; but he had refused to hear their voice, or to follow them.

Do we belong to the little flock? then Satan will seek to pluck us out of the Savior's hand. We know not in what manner he will seek to separate us from our shepherd, for Satan has many devices. In the histories of the saints recorded in the word of God, we find instances of his temptations. Satan attempted to induce Job to forsake his shepherd by severe afflictions - he endeavored to drive away Peter by the fear of man, and to allure Moses by the riches of Egypt; but he never succeeded in plucking one sheep out of the shepherd's hands, - and he never will. In the last prayer Jesus offered up in the presence of his disciples, He said of them, "These that you gave me I have kept, and none of them is lost, but the son of perdition." Judas was not one of Christ's sheep; if he had been one of them, he could not have been destroyed by Satan's power.

And why can neither man nor angel destroy one of the sheep? Because their shepherd is God. Jesus is the shepherd, and the Father is the shepherd, and yet there is one shepherd; for Jesus said, "I and my Father are one." The shepherd who gave his life for the sheep is He whom Israel worshiped in days of old, saying, "It is He that has made us, and not we ourselves; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture."

The glorious Creator is that tender shepherd who carries the lambs in his arms, and gathers them in his bosom.


Title: The Jews attempt to stone Christ for saying he was the Son of God
Post by: nChrist on July 09, 2008, 07:07:04 AM
Devotional Commentary On The Gospels
by Favell Lee Mortimer ( 1802 - 1878 )

July 9

The Jews attempt to stone Christ for saying he was the Son of God
John 10:31-42

What meekness our Savior showed when the wicked Jews took up stones to stone him! How touching was his appeal - "Many good works have I shown you from my Father; for which of these works do you stone me?" He might make the same appeal to us now. When we neglect, forsake, and disobey Him, he might say to us, "I have bestowed on you many gifts - I have made you many promises - I have passed over many transgressions - for which of these acts of kindness do you thus treat me?" What could we reply? Should we not be obliged to own that we were ungrateful, hard-hearted creatures?

But Jesus, by his affecting speech, did not soften his enemies, and He next used powerful arguments. He alluded to a passage in the 82nd Psalm, in which God speaks to the kings and rulers of the earth under the name of gods. "I have said, You are gods." And why did he give them this name? Because both kings and priests were anointed, and thus made types of Christ, who is the Anointed. The word Christ means "anointed." These earthly princes were placed in authority, and thus also made types of the Son of God, to whom all power is committed. Therefore God spoke to them in these words - "I have said, You are gods, and all of you are children of the Most High;" but because they abused their authority by oppressing the poor, these words were added, "You shall die like men, and fall like one of the princes."

These kings, rulers, and priests, were only types and shadows of the Son of God, who is alone worthy to possess all rule, authority, and power. Now the argument Jesus used with the Jews was this - "If those who only shadowed forth my greatness, were called gods, how much more must I be the Son of God?" Christ called himself one whom the Father had sanctified, and sent into the world. By "sanctified," he meant "set apart" for the office of priest and king. The Father appointed him to be our priest and king before the foundation of the world, and in the fullness of time he sent him forth. "Thanks be unto God for his unspeakable gift!"

But no arguments could convince the Jews that Jesus was the true Messiah, because their hearts were set against him; therefore he went into a retired place beyond the river Jordan, where John had baptized long before his imprisonment.

This spot must have been very interesting to some of the disciples; for it was there that two of them had first beheld the Lamb of God, and had followed him to his own abode. (See John 1:28.) The children of God love the place where first their hearts were opened to receive the truth.

How refreshing the season passed in this retreat must have been to the Savior's wearied frame and harassed spirit! He had the joy of bringing some souls into his fold; for it is written, "Many believed in him there." The preaching of John had prepared the way for the reception of Christ. After ministers are dead, their past labors are often blessed; and they are joined in the world above by souls born again through their word after their own decease.


Title: Christ describes the misery of those who shall be shut out of His kingdom
Post by: nChrist on July 09, 2008, 07:08:33 AM
Devotional Commentary On The Gospels
by Favell Lee Mortimer ( 1802 - 1878 )

July 10

Christ describes the misery of those who shall be shut out of His kingdom
Luke 13:23-30

Those who lived when the Lord was upon earth enjoyed the great privilege of asking him questions. Who would not wish to share it! It was one, however, that might easily be abused. Many asked the Lord unprofitable and curious questions. This inquiry, "Are there few that shall be saved?" seems to have been made by one who was not earnest in seeking to be saved himself. For the Lord, instead of replying to the question, addresses an exhortation to his hearers - "Strive to enter in at the strait (or narrow) gate; for many, I say unto you, will seek to enter in, and shall not be able." But did not the Lord once say, "Everyone that seeks finds?" This promise applies only to the present time; there is a period when none who seek will find. The Lord described that period in a parable - "When once the master of the house is risen up, and has shut to the door, and you begin to stand without and to knock, saying, 'Lord, Lord, open to us.'"

That period has not yet arrived - the door stands open, the master invites, entreats, implores us to enter, and to partake of his glorious feast. But if we disregard his entreaties, he will suddenly shut to the door, and shut us out forever. Those outside will use arguments to induce the Lord to open the door. Some, who have been his companions upon earth, will say, "We have eaten and drunk in your presence;" and some, who have listened to his discourses in their own cities, will say, "You have taught in our streets." If we die in our sins, it will be of no use for us to say at the last day, "We have lived with holy people; we have been instructed by holy ministers."

There are two circumstances that will increase the anguish of those Jews who will be shut out of the kingdom of God. They will see their own forefathers, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and their own prophets, sitting down at the heavenly feast. It will seem hard to them not to be admitted into the presence of their own kindred. And will it not seem hard to many other ungodly people, when they behold a father, or mother, a brother, or sister, sitting down at the supper of the Lamb, and they themselves thrust out! On earth they were ever welcome at their father's table, but even a pious father will have no power to gain admission for an unconverted child into Christ's presence.

Another circumstance that will aggravate the disappointment of the unbelieving Jews, will be this - they will see Gentiles whom they despised, flocking from the east and west, the north and south, into the new Jerusalem, while they are forbidden to enter. And will it not increase the disappointment of those who live in this Christian land, if they should see those who were brought up in heathen countries, saved, when they are lost?

When we were little we were taught to pray to God; we heard of heaven and hell; we lisped the name of Jesus, as soon as we could speak. There are many in distant lands who were taught in their childhood to bow to frightful idols, and to delight in deeds of cruelty; yet some of these have turned to God, and will go to heaven; and what if we should not go there! Then, the last would be the first, and the first last. May God of his infinite mercy save us from the great guilt of rejecting his gospel!


Title: Christ replies to Herod's threatening
Post by: nChrist on July 09, 2008, 07:10:08 AM
Devotional Commentary On The Gospels
by Favell Lee Mortimer ( 1802 - 1878 )

July 11

Christ replies to Herod's threatening
Luke 13:31-35

The Savior showed his abhorrence of Herod's character by the name which he gave him, "a fox." The manner in which Herod had treated John the Baptist, rendered him deserving of the name of fox. He had once listened to his preaching, and shown him respect; but had afterwards imprisoned and basely murdered him. The different natures that God has bestowed upon the animals are intended to represent the various characters of men. The children of Satan resemble wolves, bears, and foxes, and all manner of voracious birds and loathsome reptiles; while the children of God are like the gentle sheep and the harmless dove.

But the threats of Herod did not alarm the Lord. Though the Pharisees said, "Herod will kill you," yet He who knew all things, knew the tyrant would not kill him. And why not? Because that hour was not the time, nor that spot the place of his death. The Savior knew when He should die. He prophesied that He should live a few days, that is, a short time longer, and on the third day be perfected, or rendered complete. In this mysterious language, He alluded to his death - by death He was perfected, or rendered complete as an atoning priest. In death He offered that sacrifice which atoned for the sins of his people, and with that sacrifice He appeared in the presence of God for us. Jesus knew where He would die. He said, "It cannot be that a prophet perish out of Jerusalem." He did not mean to say, that no prophet had perished elsewhere, but that most prophets had been slain in that wicked city. Did the prospect of his death, with all its attendant horrors, excite angry feelings in his bosom? Instead of expressing anger, He burst forth into the most tender lamentations over the city of his murderers. How touching are the words - "How often would I have gathered your children together, as a hen does gather her brood under her wings, and you would not!"

In the Old Testament the Lord compared himself to an eagle, bearing her eaglets on her wings to a place of safety. But in this place He compares himself to a hen seeking to guard her little ones beneath her wings, from the birds of prey hovering in the air. How suitable are both these comparisons! When Israel was in Egypt, God delivered him from his enemies with the strength of an eagle, by carrying him into Canaan. But when Israel was in the promised land, He promised to guard him with the fond care of a hen, from the enemies that threatened to devour him. When we are in trouble, God is like an eagle in delivering us; and when we have been delivered, He is like a hen in keeping us from evil. How many blessings we possess at the present moment! But there are many dangers on every side. If we take shelter beneath the wings of our God, no evil shall overtake us. But if we refuse to come to Him who calls us, then we shall fall a prey to our enemies. Satan and all his angels are like birds of prey hovering in the air, longing to devour us. But Jesus will preserve his people from their malice. We live in a world full of trouble and temptation, but there is a refuge for us. Here is a prayer for a soul that feels its own helplessness, and dreads the power of its enemies - "Be merciful unto me, O God, be merciful unto me; for my soul trusts in you; yes, in the shadow of your wings will I make my refuge, until these calamities be overpast." (Psalms 57:1.)


Title: Jesus Christ reproves the ambitious guests
Post by: nChrist on July 09, 2008, 07:11:38 AM
Devotional Commentary On The Gospels
by Favell Lee Mortimer ( 1802 - 1878 )

July 12

Jesus Christ reproves the ambitious guests
Luke 14:1-11

The account of the healing of the man with the dropsy reminds us of the healing of the man with the withered hand. It was on the Sabbath-day that Jesus performed both these miracles - but the places in which He wrought them were not the same. The withered hand was healed in a synagogue; the dropsy was cured in a Pharisee's house. On both occasions many of the Lord's bitter enemies were present. But no circumstances could restrain the compassionate Savior from showing mercy to his suffering creatures. Neither did the displeasure He excited by healing the man with the dropsy prevent Him from reproving the proud behavior of the company.

In the East, it is still the custom for guests to occupy seats that mark their degree of rank. Each person, as he enters, seats himself in the place that he thinks he is entitled to fill, and often he takes a higher place than the company consider to be his due. But the master of the feast has the power to desire him to move either to a higher or lower place. The Pharisees showed a great anxiety to occupy the most honorable seats. Our Lord openly censured their conduct, and alluded to one of Solomon's proverbs, (Proverbs 25:6,) an authority that they professed to revere. There it is written, "Put not forth yourself in the presence of the king, and stand not in the place of great men; for better is it that it should be said unto you, Come up here, than that you should be put lower in the presence of the prince whom your eyes have seen."

Jesus exposed the folly of the Pharisees' conduct. It is foolish, as well as sinful to exalt ourselves. Some worldly people put on the appearance of humility, in order to attract notice and admiration. But the true Christian desires not only to appear, but to be humble. After having lain low at the foot of the cross, can he go forth desiring to be admired in society?

What are our feelings in company? Are we highly elated when noticed, and deeply mortified when overlooked? Do we love to be first? Do we envy those who are more regarded than ourselves? This was the spirit of the Pharisees. It is not the spirit of Christ. There are many people who do not openly contend for places of honor, who are secretly thirsting for admiration. The children of God do not indulge this feeling, but strive and pray against it. The rule of their conduct is, "Be kindly affectioned one to another, with brotherly love, in honor preferring one another." (Romans 12:10.)


Title: Christ advises his host to invite the poor
Post by: nChrist on July 09, 2008, 07:13:14 AM
Devotional Commentary On The Gospels
by Favell Lee Mortimer ( 1802 - 1878 )

July 13

Christ advises his host to invite the poor
Luke 14:12-14

With what faithfulness the Lord acted towards the Pharisee who had invited him to his house! It appears that the entertainment was splendid, and the guests rich and honorable. But it was not such a feast as the Lord approved. He knew the motives which led the rich Pharisees to invite their neighbors - it was the hope that they should be invited again. This was a selfish and sordid motive. In the East, when an animal was killed, it was necessary to eat it immediately. The covetous invited none to partake of their dinner who would not be able to return the favor; but the charitable often called in the poor and afflicted, or sent portions to their dwellings. Job appealed to God, saying, "If I have eaten my morsel myself alone, and the fatherless has not eaten thereof." And Nehemiah on a day of rejoicing said to the people of Israel, "Go your way, eat the fat and drink the sweet, and send portions unto them for whom nothing is prepared." In this country, many benevolent people, instead of giving feasts to the poor, contrive other means of giving them relief and pleasure. It is the spirit and not the very letter of the counsel that ought to be followed.

But some may inquire, Is it wrong to invite our friends and kindred o a feast? We know that in every part of Scripture the joyful meetings of brethren and neighbors are spoken of without censure.

But no feasts impart so much happiness as those given to the poor. Rich guests often come with reluctance, and depart without thankfulness. But the poor assemble with delight around the well-spread board, and go away blessing the bountiful hand that spread it. They enjoy but few pleasures, and they meet with but little kindness. It is in the power of the rich to cast a beam of light across their dark path, and to make them for a short season to forget their sorrows. To invite the poor is pleasing to the Lord. Among those gathered from streets, and lanes, and highways, and hedges, there may be a Lazarus whom we shall meet again at the heavenly banquet. It will be pleasant when we meet to feel that we honored him upon earth as the saint of the Lord. There are no doubt wicked people to be found among the poor - but the kindness of the rich often opens their hearts to receive instruction. There are pious rich people who devise means to render the feasts they give profitable to the souls of their poor guests, as well as refreshing to their bodies. That venerable reformer and martyr, Hooper, while he was bishop of Gloucester, entertained a certain number of the poor every day with a dinner of whole and wholesome meats in his great hall; but first he examined them in the creed, the Lord's prayer, and the ten commandments; nor would he himself sit down to table until his poor guests had been served.

How rejoiced we ought to be at every discovery of the will of God! If the world in general valued his approbation, there would not be so many entertainments as there now are given to the rich, and there would be many more given to the poor. Those words, "You shall be blessed," sound very sweetly in the ear of a true disciple of Christ. This is what he desires - "to be blessed." Because the poor cannot recompense him for the kindness he shows them, the Lord will remember it - even as a father takes upon himself to reward every service rendered to his infant children.

Let us beware of thinking that anything we can do deserves a reward. No, that is impossible. When we have done all, we have done only what it was our duty to do. The excellent bishop, of whom we have just spoken, though he had given his goods to feed the poor, and though at length he gave his body to be burned, was so far from trusting in his good deeds for salvation, that, when brought to the stake, he was heard to pray thus - "Lord, I am hell, but you are heaven; I am a sink of sin, but you are a gracious God, and a merciful Redeemer."

It will be easy for God to recompense his children for all they have done for him upon earth. One glimpse of his countenance will more than compensate for the martyr's acutest pangs. But how shall his saints recompense Him for what He has done for them? He found them poor, and blind, and miserable, and fed them with heavenly bread, even with that living bread which came down from heaven. It is this thought that makes them so anxious to please Him.


Title: The parable of the great supper
Post by: nChrist on July 09, 2008, 07:14:58 AM
Devotional Commentary On The Gospels
by Favell Lee Mortimer ( 1802 - 1878 )

July 14

The parable of the great supper
Luke 14:15-24

Our Lord concluded his conversation at the Pharisee's house by a parable. He had said that those who invited the poor to their houses should be recompensed at the resurrection of the just. This declaration induced one of the guests to exclaim, "Blessed is he who shall eat bread in the kingdom of God." Then Jesus related a parable to show how unwilling the rich men were to come to the heavenly feast. This parable was exactly suited to the company present, and was intended as a warning to the Pharisees, and to all worldly-minded people, whether rich or poor.

The man in the parable invited his rich neighbors to a feast. It is the custom in the East to send an invitation some weeks before the time appointed, and when the day arrives, to desire the servants to remind the guests of their engagement. Nothing can be more insulting than to refuse to come after the feast has been prepared, excepting there be some real hindrance. The excuses made by these rich men were of a frivolous nature. Neither sickness nor the death of friends detained them at home. They could not have foreseen those events; but it showed great contempt to purchase land or oxen, or to contract a marriage at the time they had agreed to come to the feast. It would have been far better to have refused at first, than to accept the invitation, and then to make excuses, when the feast was prepared and the master was waiting.

Like the rich men in the parable, the Pharisees professed to be willing to come to God; but when the blessings of the Gospel were offered to their acceptance, they began to make excuses. They were hypocrites, because they pretended to be religious, while their hearts were set upon this world. Would the insulted master of the feast permit his plenteous provisions to be wasted, or his table to remain unoccupied? By no means. He sent his servants into the streets and lanes of the city, and directed them to summon the poor, the maimed, the lame, and the blind. Thus, when the self-righteous Pharisees refused to listen to the Gospel, the Lord encouraged publicans to accept its blessings.

Afterwards the master of the feast sent his servants into the highways and hedges, to gather more guests for the feast. Who are the wanderers in the streets and lanes of the city, and who are those in the highways and hedges? Do not the former represent the Jews, and the latter the Gentiles? For the Gospel was first preached at Jerusalem, but afterwards among the Gentile nations, even among us who live in these northern isles. What were our forefathers doing when Jesus uttered his parable? They were worshiping frightful idols among their forests of oak. But even then the Lord had purposes of mercy towards those poor savages.

But why did the master declare that none of those men who first were bidden should taste of his supper? Had they not refused to come? What need was there to affirm that they should not come? Do not the words seem to indicate, that a time would arrive when those who had made excuses would repent of their folly, and seek to be admitted to the feast? When they saw the poor wanderers from the city and the country, clothed in white robes, surrounding a sumptuous table - when they descried the splendid lights, and heard the joyful sound of music and singing, they would change their minds, and desire to join the glorious company. But they would find the door shut against them. When they knocked, they would hear a voice within, saying, "I know you not." They would not be permitted even to taste the supper, of which they had once been invited to partake.

And is there any despiser of Christ and his Gospel who will not change his mind when he beholds, afar off, the glories of the blessed, in the kingdom of God? Yes, when all his earthly delights are perished, he will wish for a place at the heavenly banquet. But he will find that no place is reserved for him among the happy guests. O what will then be the bitterness of his disappointment, and the agony of his regrets! Let us now obey the Savior's gracious call, "Come, eat of my bread and drink of my wine, which I have mingled. Forsake the foolish, and live, and go in the way of understanding."


Title: Christ declares that his disciples must encounter great difficulties
Post by: nChrist on July 09, 2008, 07:17:21 AM
Devotional Commentary On The Gospels
by Favell Lee Mortimer ( 1802 - 1878 )

July 15

Christ declares to the multitude that his disciples must encounter great difficulties
Luke 14:25-35

As the Lord Jesus knew all hearts, he could perfectly adapt his discourse to the state of mind of his hearers. We have lately listened to his conversation at a Pharisee's table, and heard his alarming warnings to those who despised his Gospel. Now we behold him surrounded by a different class of hearers.

The multitudes did not openly despise the Savior, they admired him, and many of them wished to become his disciples; but they were not prepared to encounter difficulties, or to make sacrifices for his sake. Therefore the Savior, turning towards them, set before their eyes the great trials which his disciples must expect to suffer. Parents and kindred would persecute them, and rulers would condemn them to death. How ought they to act when placed in these distressing circumstances? None can suppose that Jesus disapproves of natural affection; the meaning of his declaration is, "Those who would follow me must not yield to the persuasions of their dearest friends, or to the threatenings of the most cruel tyrants, but must be ready to forsake all, and to cleave to me alone." In our days, converted Jews and converted Brahmins have resisted the tenderest entreaties of affectionate mothers and devoted wives, who would have turned them from the faith. And even in our Christian land, there are many instances of children who have endured much unkindness from their own parents, rather than comply with the vain customs of the world.

The Lord Jesus related two short parables to show the folly of setting out in the Christian course, without being prepared to surmount difficulties.

If a man would build a tower, he must first consider whether he has money sufficient to complete the building; and if a captain would meet an enemy, he must first consider whether he has soldiers enough to resist him. It would be better not to begin the tower, than to leave it unfinished - and not to undertake the war, than to suffer a defeat.

It would also be better not to profess to follow Christ, than to turn back after having set out. It would be better - if we can talk of better in such a case. For he who does not set out at SOME TIME OR OTHER in the Christian course, must endure EVERLASTING misery. It will be a poor consolation for him to think that his case would have been still worse, had he turned back after having known the way of righteousness.

Christ never discouraged a sincere soul from following him. But he has given a true description of the nature of his service, so that none can say in the end, "My Lord deceived me, and represented his service to be easier than I have found it." A poor Madagascar woman, who had undergone great persecutions, was once asked whether she was surprised when afflictions overtook her. She replied, "No; from the first we knew it was written, that through much tribulation we must enter the kingdom of God; and when our troubles came, we said, 'This is what we expected.'" This poor woman was once shut up, for five months, in an iron case that prevented her moving a single limb; yet, having counted the cost, she proved "more than conqueror through Him who loved her." * See "Madagascar and its Martyrs," a book for the young.


Title: Parables of the lost sheep, and of the lost piece of silver
Post by: nChrist on July 17, 2008, 12:59:52 AM
Devotional Commentary On The Gospels
by Favell Lee Mortimer ( 1802 - 1878 )

July 16

Parables of the lost sheep, and of the lost piece of silver
Luke 15:1-10

There is a tenderness in these parables which is not to be found in the discourses we have lately read. When the Savior was at the Pharisee's house, he faithfully reproved both the guests and the host; when he was surrounded by the multitude, he solemnly warned them; but when he sat in the midst of publicans and sinners, he uttered the most touching and encouraging words. The Pharisees showed the pride of their hearts, by murmuring because Jesus received sinners into his intimate society. The Lord answered their murmurings by relating several parables. He knew their covetous disposition, and that they would understand the joy of finding a lost sheep, or a lost piece of money, though their hearts were too hard to enable them to understand the joy felt by angels at the salvation of a sinner.

Even penitent sinners themselves can hardly believe that angels should care for them. How many penitents have read with astonishment that there is joy among the angels of God over one sinner that repents! Could we have conceived that the recovery of one of our fallen race should interest those glorious beings? Why do they care so much for us? The Son of God, whom they adore, loved us and died for us. They know that He cares for each wanderer, and that He rejoices over each soul that he brings back to his fold. The angels share in the joy of their beloved Lord. They felt with him in his sorrows, and one of them strengthened him in the garden of Gethsemane. They partake also in his joys; they delight to see the fruit of the travail of his soul. But their joy cannot be compared with His. He is an infinite being, therefore his love and joy are infinite.

And if the repentance of one sinner causes so much joy, what will be felt on account of the salvation of all the Church of God! The mind is overwhelmed at the thought of the boundless raptures of that day. Many joyful emotions have been felt since first the foundation of the earth was laid; the birds have rejoiced at every return of spring; children have smiled each opening morn; the saints have tasted higher delights in their sacred assemblies; and angels have made the heavens ring with their rapturous songs; but all these joys are as a drop compared to the ocean of delight that the glorious company of heaven shall feel, when all the redeemed are gathered together into the celestial city.

Are we prepared to taste these joys? Do we now feel any satisfaction when we hear that a sinner has repented? We might discover our own state in the sight of God by this token - what are the events that occasion us most joy? If we are saved hereafter, we shall be the companions of angels. But if our hearts are not interested in the salvation of sinners, shall we be fit company for them? What a contrast there is between a selfish human creature and a benevolent angel!

How delightful it will be, in ages to come, if we are numbered among the saints, to see the angels who rejoiced over our conversion! They will not forget the happiness they experienced on such occasions, and they will feel their joy complete when they see the pardoned sinner, saved from all his enemies, comforted after all his sorrows, and enclosed in the everlasting arms of his Almighty Savior.

Title: The departure of the prodigal son
Post by: nChrist on July 17, 2008, 01:01:20 AM
Devotional Commentary On The Gospels
by Favell Lee Mortimer ( 1802 - 1878 )

July 17

The departure of the prodigal son
Luke 15:11-16

Though the Pharisees were hard-hearted men, yet they possessed the feelings of parents. The parable of the prodigal son was suited to touch every father's heart. But even if the proud Pharisees listened unmoved to the Savior's representation of the father's generous compassion, the poor publicans must have heard the wonderful history with grateful astonishment. When the Lord described the conduct of the younger son, they were reminded of their own base departure from God. The Pharisees also had wandered far from their Father's house; but they knew it not. They imagined that, like the elder son in the parable, they had always been faithful and obedient. Many people entertain the same false notion of their own goodness, and forget that it is written, "All we like sheep have gone astray."

Every penitent sinner sees his own likeness in the prodigal son. The most striking feature in his character is his ingratitude. Instead of being thankful for his daily bread, and his shelter beneath his father's roof, and for all the comforts and privileges he enjoyed, he claims fortune as his right, saying, "Give me the portion of goods that falls to me." This is our spirit by nature. Instead of being overwhelmed with a sense of God's wonderful goodness, we conceive ourselves entitled to further gifts.

When the prodigal had obtained his desire, he showed his ingratitude by going into a country a great way off, and there wasting his father's gifts in riotous living. And have we not acted like this prodigal? We need not move from the spot where we were born in order to do this - it is sufficient that shutting up our hearts from God, and banishing him from our thoughts, we seek our gratification in earthly things.

But behold the consequence of this conduct; the prodigal comes to poverty. He has at last spent all. It is well when we discover before death that we have spent all - that we have wasted our hopes and affections upon the world, and have obtained no lasting satisfaction in return. But what will be the despair of those who never discover their poverty, until they are removed to the place where the uttermost farthing is required, but not even a drop of water granted!

Perhaps the prodigal in his days of revelry may have looked forward to the time when he should have spent all, and he may have intended then to enter some service that would preserve him from want. But God defeated his design, and caused a mighty famine to arise at the very moment when he was destitute. Now there were few masters who could afford to hire, and many servants to be hired, so that the prodigal was forced to engage in the lowest service at the lowest wages; he became a swineherd for a less reward than would provide him with a meal of husks, such as the pigs fed upon.

How easily God can disappoint the sinner, and blast all his devices! Many think, "When this enjoyment is passed, I will betake myself to another," forgetting how God can in a moment take away every idol, shut up every way of escape, and dry up every stream of happiness.

The thoughtless companions of his mirth remembered not the prodigal in his distress. "No one gave unto him." Those who had gladly partaken of his riotous feasts, forsook him in his poverty and hunger. Accomplices in guilt are not comforters in sorrow. For what unfeeling creatures the prodigal had forsaken his loving father, and his happy home! O the folly and the madness that sinners show in preferring the society of the wicked to the favor of the ever-blessed God! Can the world console them in sickness? Will the world be faithful to them in old age? Can the world receive them into glory after death? Happy are they who have made this blessed choice, "I had rather be a door-keeper in the house of my God, than to dwell in the tents of wickedness."

Title: The repentance of the prodigal
Post by: nChrist on July 17, 2008, 01:02:56 AM
Devotional Commentary On The Gospels
by Favell Lee Mortimer ( 1802 - 1878 )

July 18

The repentance of the prodigal
Luke 15:17-19

God greatly blessed the prodigal's afflictions to his soul. While he was employed as a swineherd a great change took place in his mind - "He came to himself." This expression implies, that before he was not himself. A state of sin is a state of madness. When a person is converted he is in his right mind. How could any one indulge in sin, if he reflected on its dreadful consequences! "for the wages of sin is death!" But sinners are like the brutes that perish, and do not consider their latter end.

It is very interesting to hear the reflections of the prodigal when he was come to himself. He saw everything now in a new light. He understood the happiness of his father's house. Once he had abhorred its restraints and longed for liberty, but now he esteemed each servant happy who dwelt beneath that peaceful roof. Unconverted people think religion gloomy, and endeavor to escape from its influence; but when the Holy Spirit visits their hearts, they account the servants of God blessed, and long to be numbered among the saints.

The prodigal now felt convinced of his guilt. He not only lamented his miserable condition, but he traced it to his own sin; he blamed no one but himself. Thus the Spirit convinces of sin, and makes us feel that we have sinned against God, more than against any other being, because He is the greatest and best of beings, and our chief benefactor.

The prodigal felt confidence in his father's mercy. Though he felt unworthy to be called a son, yet he resolved to say "Father." Had he not felt this confidence, he might have been devoured by remorse, and have deemed it useless to return. Doubtless his memory furnished him with numerous instances of his father's love, of his readiness to forgive his early waywardness, and of his patient endurance of the provocations of his youth. He had enjoyed opportunities of knowing his father's character, and it now appeared to him in all its loveliness. Happy is it when the convinced sinner can hope in God's mercy. No child ever had such reason to believe that his father would receive him, as the chief of sinners has that God will in nowise cast him out; for God has so loved us, as to give his only Son a sacrifice for us; and He who spared not his own Son, will he not with him also freely give us all things?

The prodigal made a resolution to return, and openly to confess his sins, to entreat forgiveness, and to implore permission to become a servant, though not a son, in his father's house.

Have we ever made the resolution to return to God? Can we recall the time when we felt we had wandered from the best of fathers, and that we deserved to be rejected? Every true believer has repented of his sins, and has sought forgiveness with weeping and supplications. Nor does he ever cease to seek it while he lives upon earth. The sense of his own sinfulness increases, as he experiences more of his Father's goodness. Daily he says, "Forgive me my trespasses,"' and daily he feels that he is not worthy to be called a son.

Title: The reception of the prodigal son
Post by: nChrist on July 17, 2008, 01:04:28 AM
Devotional Commentary On The Gospels
by Favell Lee Mortimer ( 1802 - 1878 )

July 19

The reception of the prodigal son
Luke 15:20-24

The prodigal had conceived a high idea of his father's compassion before he set out to return home; but his thoughts had not reached the heights of his father's mercy. He could not have anticipated such a reception, at once so affectionate and so honorable. Had he returned as the deliverer of his country from some powerful foe, he could not have been welcomed with more honor. Had he left his home to plead for his father's life, he could not, when he was come back, have been received with more tenderness.

What is the reason that the sinner is treated with so much honor and so much love, when he falls at the footstool of divine mercy? Is he not received in his Savior's name, with all the honor that Savior won by trampling upon Satan, and with all the love that Savior deserved for dying upon the cross?

Great must have been the humiliation of the prodigal, as he approached the parental roof. How it must have wounded the natural pride of his heart to return in tatters, with an emaciated countenance and a haggard eye! But when true penitence is felt, natural pride is in great measure subdued. Those who only feel a slight regret for past transgressions, are often prevented by pride from asking forgiveness. No doubt the prodigal had wished to return as soon as he became a swineherd; but it was not until "he came to himself," that his penitence was deep enough to enable him to face all the humiliation connected with the step. Then he felt he could bear the taunts of unfeeling spectators better than the reproaches of his own conscience; better than the remembrance of his despised home, and of his injured father. But he was spared the most painful part of the expected trial by the tender affection of that father, who "saw him when he was a great way off, and had compassion, and ran and fell on his neck, and kissed him." Did the prodigal repress his humble confession because he saw he was already forgiven? No, he said all that he had purposed to say, excepting, "Make me as one of your hired servants." When he saw that he was received as a son, he could not ask to become a servant. The best robe was then put on him, a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet; a feast was made, and rejoicing was heard on every side.

Could the prodigal doubt his father's full and free forgiveness? All his past transgressions seemed to be forgotten; his father's love was not abated in the least degree; a prospect of happiness was opened to his view beyond his highest expectations.

This is the way in which the Lord deals with the returning sinner. He clothes his guilty soul in the spotless robe of his Redeemer's righteousness, and satisfies his hungry soul with the heavenly food of his gracious promises. Why then do sinners refuse to return to God? They do not believe that he will receive them so affectionately, and render them so happy. The father of the prodigal is our God and our Savior. Those who have sought his mercy can witness how He received them, and how happy He has made them.

It is sad to think that any should remain miserable, because they will not arise and return to Him, who offers them full and free forgiveness. The way may appear long; but it would be shortened, for their Father would meet them while they were yet a "great way off," and conduct them himself to his own glorious abode.

Title: The envy of the prodigal's brother
Post by: nChrist on July 17, 2008, 01:05:57 AM
Devotional Commentary On The Gospels
by Favell Lee Mortimer ( 1802 - 1878 )

July 20

The envy of the prodigal's brother
Luke 15:25-32

Amid the burst of joy at the prodigal's return one complaining voice was heard; among the glad countenances one lowering brow was seen; and that voice and that brow were a brother's. But the father showed as much forbearance towards his envious eldest son, as he had manifested compassion towards his prodigal younger son. He went out, and entreated this unfeeling brother to unite in the festal scene. These entreaties drew forth the pride that reigned in his son's heart. Pride is the root of a whole host of sins, especially of envy, anger, and discontent - all these evil passions gave their coloring to the answers of the eldest son. What a description he gives of his blameless conduct! He reproaches his father with his services, as if he had laid his own parent under obligations - "Lo, these many years have I served you!" He declares those services were perfect, as well as persevering. "Neither transgressed I at any time your commandment."

While he thus boasts of his own goodness, he places his brother's conduct in the worst point of view. The father might have turned away in wrath from his ungenerous son, but he condescended to argue with the proud objector. In a few words he describes the rich privileges of his first-born. "Son, you are ever with me." Surely the continual presence of such a father was happiness in itself. But, knowing the covetous heart of his son, the father added, "All that I have is yours." There was no argument required to prove that a lost son should be received with joy. The father thought it sufficient to say, "It was meet that we should make merry and be glad."

Could the Pharisees avoid perceiving in the envious brother their own likeness? Now that the Savior was receiving penitent publicans, and that angels were rejoicing over them in heaven, the Pharisees were boasting of their own goodness, and reproaching the Lord with partiality. They imagined that they had served God all their lives, and had never transgressed his commandment. The Lord did not show them (as He might have done) how false was this notion - but He proved, that even if they were as good as they supposed, the spirit they evinced towards penitent sinners was ungrateful and ungenerous. Had the Pharisees really been holy men, they would have rejoiced with angels over pardoned penitents. True believers remember the season when they were received into their father's favor, and they rejoice with each wanderer who returns as they did. There is not a son in the house of our heavenly Father who has not had his festival; except the angels who have been ever with Him, and have never transgressed his commandments. Yet there are some of the children of God, who were sanctified at so early a period, that they cannot remember the first feelings of penitence; they have not experienced the bitterness of an unconverted state, and cannot tell by contrast how great is their present happiness. These have enjoyed the best portion, in having been ever with their Father. How many days of childhood have been gilded with more than childish joy through the early knowledge of their Father in heaven! How sweet the remembrance of a youth spent in his service, unpolluted by worldly vanities! Yet even they - even those sanctified in infancy and devoted to God unto old age, have wandered into some forbidden paths, and have committed innumerable transgressions. They have experienced the forgiving love of God, when returning from their backslidings. They can say with David, "He restores my soul; He leads me in the paths of righteousness for his name's sake."

Title: The parable of the unjust steward
Post by: nChrist on July 22, 2008, 04:03:55 AM
Devotional Commentary On The Gospels
by Favell Lee Mortimer ( 1802 - 1878 )

July 21

The parable of the unjust steward
Luke 16:1-8

This parable has perplexed many people. They have said, "What a dishonest man this steward was! Did his lord commend him for his wickedness?" No, not for his wickedness, but for his wisdom - for his worldly wisdom. His plan to secure himself from want was very cunning and ingenious. It is supposed that the oil and the wheat that the creditors owed were their rent. It was the office of the steward to make agreements with the tenants concerning the amount of produce that ought to be paid to their lord. This steward, before he was dismissed from his post, made new agreements with the tenants, and ingratiated himself by lowering the rents. When he was gone, the lord became acquainted with these proceedings, and expressed his wonder at the wicked policy of his unfaithful steward.

But some may still inquire, "Why did our Lord select a dishonest action as an instance of worldly wisdom? Does not the selection seem to countenance dishonesty?" But, if we consider, we shall perceive that the badness of the action renders it a suitable instance of the wisdom displayed by bad men. This was the point that the Lord wished to prove - bad men take more pains to accomplish their bad ends, than good men to accomplish their good ends.

Perhaps a blush arose in the face of many a Pharisee, as this instance of knavery was related. That very steward may have been present. Many of the hypocritical Pharisees had committed actions equally dishonest. Their own consciences must have convicted them. But it was chiefly for the instruction of the disciples that the parable was related. It was addressed to them, and this was the lesson taught - "The children of this world are wiser in their generation than the children of light." By this sentence the Lord turns into a volume of rich instruction the actions of this wicked world among whom we live.

Wicked men are intent on accomplishing different wicked ends. One is bent upon accumulating immense riches. How does he set about his design? With the lukewarmness that Christians so often betray in pursuing their designs? Does he not rise early, and sit up late? Are not his thoughts always intent upon devising new schemes for amassing wealth? Is not the crowded city the place where he delights to be, whatever pleasures may allure, or weariness oppress? Were Christians to be as diligent in prayer, as this man in counting his gains, how rich would they grow in faith, and love, and every grace!

Another is bent upon destroying the reputation of his neighbors, in order that he alone may be praised and admired! How dexterously he performs his work! How cleverly he insinuates that some evil is practiced by his companion! Perhaps he says nothing directly against him, (as this might awaken suspicion,) but he contrives to place him in a disagreeable light. Do we thus watch opportunities to say a word in behalf of our Lord and Master, insinuating something in his praise, when we cannot speak more openly? When we reflect on the greatness of the end that Christians have in view, we feel that they ought to be most earnestly intent on gaining it. Could heaven be purchased, the world would be a bauble to offer for it - it has been bought with more precious blood. Shall we grieve our dying Lord by our indifference to a gift so dearly bought, and so infinitely glorious?

Title: Christ exhorts his disciples to be faithful in the use of riches
Post by: nChrist on July 22, 2008, 04:05:19 AM
Devotional Commentary On The Gospels
by Favell Lee Mortimer ( 1802 - 1878 )

July 22

Christ exhorts his disciples to be faithful in the use of riches
Luke 16:9-13

The Lord Jesus had shown, by the history of the unjust steward, that the children of this world are wiser in their generation than the children of light. He next explained in what particular point they are wiser - in the use they make of riches. The steward made use of the property consigned to his care in gaining friends, who would receive him into their habitations when he lost his stewardship. Therefore Jesus said to his disciples, "Make to yourselves friends of the mammon of unrighteousness, that when you fail they may receive you into everlasting habitations." The name given to riches is very remarkable - "the mammon of unrighteousness." Money is often made an occasion of sin, and the love of money is the root of all evil. Yet even of this unrighteous mammon, a righteous use may be made. Our Lord's precept would be more clear, if rendered thus - "Make to yourselves friends WITH the mammon of unrighteousness." How can friends be made with this mammon? By spending it in the relief of the saints and in the service of God. The widows whom Dorcas clothed, the prophets whom Obadiah fed, the apostle whom Onesiphorus visited, and Phebe succored, with all those brethren and strangers whom Gaius brought forward on their missionary journeys, will be witnesses of their charity and piety before the great white throne.

It is true the disciples were poor; but the poor, by the gift of two mites, show more love to God than the rich by large contributions out of their abundance. The Lord knows that he who is faithful in the least would be faithful in much. That poor widow who cast her mites into the treasury will be intrusted with true riches in the world to come.

Riches are only lent to the possessor, not given. This is the meaning of the verse - "If you have not been faithful in that which is another man's, who shall give you that which is your own?" Every possession is now, as if it were another man's - it is only lent. Hereafter a possession will be bestowed upon the righteous, even an inheritance that fades not away. As riches are only lent, an account of the use to which they have been applied will be required. What account will those render who willfully devote any part of their property to the service of Mammon, the god of this world? Whatever is spent in the encouragement of sin is spent in the service of Mammon. There are some people who employ part of their money in doing good and part in promoting evil. They attempt to serve God and Mammon. They support Sunday-schools and Bible societies with part of their property, and with another part they encourage those worldly amusements, and that proud display, which are condemned in the word of God. But those who really love their crucified Savior cannot act thus. The apostle Paul declares, "God forbid that I should glory save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me and I unto the world."

Title: Christ rebukes the Pharisees who derided him
Post by: nChrist on July 22, 2008, 04:06:53 AM
Devotional Commentary On The Gospels
by Favell Lee Mortimer ( 1802 - 1878 )

July 23

Christ rebukes the Pharisees who derided him
Luke 16:14-18

The Pharisees hated reproof. When they found the Lord's discourses applied to their own case they were angry. Conscious that they were covetous, they could not bear to hear covetousness spoken against. It is natural to the human heart to shrink from the touch of truth. How often ministers find that their hearers have been offended by the most searching parts of their sermons! Let us inquire whether we hate to hear our faults reproved. No doubt it is painful to be told of our sins. But is it not better to be made acquainted with them now, than to wait until we stand before the face of God? The kindest friends we have are those who take us apart to say, "Are you acting right in this point, or in that particular?" The most faithful ministers are those who will not let sinners slumber on in their sins, until the fire of eternal wrath devour them.

But none are so angry at reproof as those who make a false profession of religion. The Pharisees were only anxious that men should think highly of their characters. As they knew that men could not see into their hearts, they did not care in what state they remained. If a monarch were going to pass through a town, the inhabitants would probably cleanse and adorn the outside of their houses - but as they would know he could not see through the walls, they would not think it necessary to make the inside beautiful. But if the monarch were to announce that he should enter the house of one of the citizens, then what care would be used to render it fit for his reception! The King of kings searches every heart. A fair outside is not sufficient - God knows our hearts. A heart, unwashed in the blood of Christ, and unrenewed by his Holy Spirit, is an abomination in his sight. It may be highly esteemed by men, and called a tender heart, a kind, warm, and good heart - but it is pronounced by God to be a deceitful and desperately wicked heart. With such a heart none can enter his kingdom. The Pharisees had unconverted hearts. They professed to love God - but in reality they hated Him. How did they show they hated Him? By hating his law. They did not keep his holy commandments. Christ reminded them of one great sin, which they frequently committed. They broke the seventh commandment by putting away their wives in order to marry others. This sin had been rebuked by the prophet Malachi four hundred years before. He had said, "The Lord has been witness between you and the wife of your youth, against whom you have dealt treacherously; and yet she is your companion and the wife of your covenant." Yet these Jews in Malachi's time had made a great profession of religion. At the very time they were treating their wives with cruelty, they were offering sacrifices to God at his altar. But did he accept these sacrifices? No, he abhorred them. The injured wives had poured out their tears before the altar, where their treacherous husbands presented their offerings - God saw those tears with compassion, and rejected those offerings with indignation. Let us never imagine that God will accept any of our services, while we are ill-treating any of his creatures. If, when we go and kneel before God to say our prayers, any person is pouring out tears before his footstool on account of our ill-treatment, can we expect our prayers to be heard? God has declared in his word that He will hear the cry of the oppressed, and that He will punish the oppressors - "You shall not afflict any widow, or fatherless child. If you afflict them in any wise, and they cry at all unto me, I will surely hear their cry - and my wrath shall wax hot, and I will kill you with the sword; and your wives shall be widows, and your children fatherless."

Title: Christ blesses little children
Post by: nChrist on July 22, 2008, 04:08:33 AM
Devotional Commentary On The Gospels
by Favell Lee Mortimer ( 1802 - 1878 )

July 24

Christ blesses little children
Mark 10:13-16

How many young and tender hearts have been encouraged to come to their Savior by the sweet declaration, "Let the little children to come unto me!" How many dying children have lisped these words in their last moments! When Jesus uttered them, he knew what comfort they would afford to the lambs of his flock for many ages to come.

It was, however, in displeasure that he gave the command, "Let the little children come unto me." It was not with the children that he was displeased, nor with their mothers, but with his own disciples. He was not often much displeased with them. There must have been some great offence to excite this great displeasure. It was a great offence to attempt to drive away these children from their Savior! How could the disciples take so much upon them, as to forbid the mothers to bring their babes! Pride lurked in their hearts, and suggested many harsh and ungracious measures. Before Jesus left this world he charged Peter to feed his lambs - those lambs whom He carries in his own bosom. Faithful ministers love little children, and are ready to instruct them.

The babes brought to Jesus were too young to receive instruction; therefore the Lord only took them in his arms and blessed them. He knew even then what should befall each - he knew which fair blossom would be nipped in the bud, and which would bloom in the church on earth. He knew which smiling infant would become a minister, and which would prove a martyr. May we not hope that none of the infants that Jesus blessed were lost forever? Was not His blessing the pledge of their salvation?

The parents did well in bringing them to Christ. Many parents had brought sick children to him to be healed - but these parents sought no temporal benefits - they desired that the Savior should put his hands upon their little ones, and pray. Surely Jesus must have been as much pleased with these parents, as he was displeased with his disciples. He still is pleased when mothers care more for the immortal souls of their children than for their perishing bodies. How grateful these little children ought to have been to their kind parents, when they were old enough to know what those parents had done for them in their infancy! Many are indebted to the secret prayers of a mother to her Savior for the richest blessings they enjoy! We never can repay our parents for the prayers they have offered up on our behalf. The kindest parents often make mistakes in their manner of bringing up their children - but no mistakes will prove fatal, if they are fervent in their prayers for them, and consistent in their example.

What reason did Jesus give for receiving these little ones so kindly? He did not say it was because he loved their parents, or because he knew the children would be holy when they grew up; but he said, "For of such is the kingdom of heaven." The disciples had only to observe the ways of the little creatures, then folded in their mothers' arms, in order to know what they themselves ought to be. Those babes cared not for strangers, but only for the hand that fed them, for the arm that upheld them, for the face that smiled on them. Such ought to be the devoted affection of all believers for their everlasting Friend. How interesting it is to observe a little child, while we think of the words, "Of such is the kingdom of heaven!" Does not this sentence give us ground to believe that there are many little children now in glory?

Why do babes ever taste death? This epitaph was once written upon an infant's tomb - "It died, for Adam sinned.

It lives, for Jesus died."

Every action of our Savior silently assures us that he loves children. He listens to their songs in the temple - he rebukes their enemies - he folds them in his arms - he lays his hands upon them and blesses them. Will he shut those out from his presence in glory whom he would not allow to be sent from his presence upon earth? If he prayed for them when he lived here below, does he refuse to intercede for them now he reigns on yonder throne above? Surely he would be much displeased with us, if we were to harbor any doubts of his tender love for the little creatures that his hands first formed, and that he has never ceased to defend and bless.

Title: The rich man's petition for his own relief
Post by: nChrist on July 22, 2008, 04:10:10 AM
Devotional Commentary On The Gospels
by Favell Lee Mortimer ( 1802 - 1878 )

July 25

The rich man's petition for his own relief
Luke 16:19-24

In this parable, the curtain that conceals the eternal world is lifted up - and by whom? By Him who every moment beholds the sons of men sinking into hell, or soaring up to heaven. He described these solemn scenes that we might be filled with holy awe. They were ever before his eyes, and he wondered at the indifference of sinners to their approaching doom.

No doubt this rich man and this beggar were real people. He had no need to employ fiction, who knew all facts.

It may appear strange to short-sighted mortals that God should permit one of his own beloved to languish, covered with sores, before a lordly gate. But the eye of faith beholds the happy spirit of the beggar, conveyed by glorious angels along the path of life into the presence of God. Then the mystery is explained. The Holy Spirit had sanctified the sorrowful heart of Lazarus, and Jesus had pardoned all his sins. When we see a poor diseased object, let us remember Lazarus, and say, "This may be one of God's elect." But we know that there are many who suffer afflictions in vain; many who are not softened by poverty or sickness; many who curse God and die.

The rich man does not appear to have committed any flagrant crime; he seems to have been a respectable worldly man. His body was buried with pomp, but his soul was not conducted with honor through the regions of the air to eternal glory. "In hell he lifts up his eyes, being in torment!" What a change was this! instead of a bed of down - burning coals; instead of purple clothing - a flaming robe; instead of sumptuous food - the lack of all things, even of a drop of water. But what a glorious sight he beheld! heaven with its inhabitants. Do we envy him this privilege? How the sight must have added to his misery! We would like to behold the saints' abode, for we hope to reach it - but in hell, "Hope that comes to all, comes never." The flame must have seemed to burn with redoubled fury, when the lost spirit saw the stream which makes glad the city of our God. Among the guests at the supper of the Lamb, he saw Abraham and Lazarus. He had been brought up to revere Abraham as his great ancestor, and as the father of the faithful. Though he had never seen him before, yet he knew him. It is probable he had been accustomed to despise Lazarus as a loathsome object; now he saw this despised beggar seated next to the honorable patriarch. God had exalted Abraham when upon earth, and had abased Lazarus, but he had bestowed like precious faith upon them both. When we behold the company of the redeemed, we may expect to know them again, whether we were before acquainted with their persons, or only with their names. God grant that we may not behold them afar off, as the rich man did, but that we may be mingled in their society. We may expect to see among the eminent servants of God, among ministers, missionaries, and reformers, among prophets, apostles, and martyrs, others who have lived and died in lowliness and obscurity - blind beggars, hospital patients, and workhouse inhabitants. Some of these will doubtless occupy places next to such revered men as Luther or as Latimer - as Daniel, Job, or Noah.

The rich man must have been surprised to see the beggar in so honorable a place. Did he recognize none of his kindred, nor friends, nor servants, that he fixed all his hopes of receiving relief upon Lazarus? Where were his father and mother? Where were his friends and neighbors? Had none of them reached the place of rest? It is to be feared that there are ungodly families whose names are unknown among the blessed. They have encouraged each other in forgetfulness of God, and have sunk down together into the pit. Why did the rich man think that Lazarus would be ready to come to his aid? No doubt the crumbs from his table had often been given to the beggar who lay at his gate, and therefore he may have thought he had some claim upon his services now. But surely if this rich man had loved God, he would have bestowed more than crumbs upon the poor sufferer dying before his eyes. Now his condition was far worse than that of Lazarus had ever been. The least moisture upon his tongue was the only favor he asked, and it was denied him. The misery of hell is COMPLETE. Here in our present world, in our deepest sorrows there is some alleviation, some comforting circumstance, some ray of hope; but in hell there is none; all is darkness, desolation, destitution, and despair.

Title: The rich man's petition for his brethren
Post by: nChrist on July 31, 2008, 06:13:11 PM
Devotional Commentary On The Gospels
by Favell Lee Mortimer ( 1802 - 1878 )

July 26

The rich man's petition for his brethren
Luke 16:25-28

If prayers were heard in hell, how many would be offered up! But the abode of despair is not the place for prayer. All the rich man's requests were refused. The first was a very small petition. It was not a petition for release. Lost spirits know that release is impossible. The gates have closed upon them forever. The Redeemer's blood cannot be sprinkled upon their conscience, the Holy Spirit cannot be shed abroad in their hearts; therefore salvation cannot be obtained.

But the rich man hoped that the slightest possible relief might be granted. He did not ask that Lazarus might bring him a large glass, nor even a drop of water - he did not ask that he might dip his hand or his finger in water - but he asked that he might dip the tip of his finger in water, and apply it to his burning tongue. Yet the request was refused.

Abraham reminded the tormented spirit that on earth he had received good things, and Lazarus evil things. By the manner in which Abraham reasoned, it is evident that the rich man had desired, when on earth, no better portion than he now received - and that Lazarus had been content with the bitter portion allotted to him. It was, therefore, just that each should now abide by his own choice. Lazarus must not feel even for a moment the scorching flames of hell, nor must the rich man taste one drop of the cooling streams of heaven.

God now gives us our choice. Do we prefer heaven, with any amount of grievous sufferings, to earth, with any amount of passing delights? Which would we rather encounter - the trials of the saints, or the temptations of the world?

We perceive that if there had been no impassable gulf between heaven and hell, yet that Lazarus would not have been permitted to soothe the sufferings of the lost. But there is such a gulf. It fills heaven with delight, and hell with despair. The inhabitants of each world know that there can be no change of state. Hell knows that no celestial comforter will ever enter her gates, and Heaven that no malicious enemy will ever break through hers.

But though the rich man found there was no path from heaven to hell, he knew there was a path from heaven to earth. He requested that Lazarus might be sent to warn his five brethren of the danger of their condition. It seems that he had left no children upon earth. Perhaps he had died in his youth. We cannot tell what his motives were for desiring that his brethren should not partake his misery. Can natural affection exist in hell? or was the rich man afraid lest the reproaches of brothers, whom he had corrupted by his example, should add to his own torment? Let us be reminded by his prayer of the privileges we now enjoy. Have we any unconverted relatives? We may pray for them, not to Abraham, but - to God. We will not pray that a departed spirit may be sent to warn them, but we will entreat that God's Holy Spirit may convince and convert them.

The saints can witness that God does hear their prayers, and has mercy on others for their sake. It makes a Christian's heart sad to think of those who have shared with him a mother's care, not sharing with him a Savior's glory. It would add to the joy of a believer, even in heaven, to see every one of his kindred sitting around their heavenly Father's table.

If pious brothers feel solicitude for their brothers' salvation, what must parents feel for the souls of their beloved children? They bear them incessantly on their hearts before God, and with tears implore the Lord to preserve them from sinking into the place of torment. They can hardly imagine that it would be possible that they themselves should be happy in heaven, if any one of their dear children were missing. Yet some who have brought down their parents' gray hairs with sorrow to the grave, have repented afterwards. Then they have lamented (O how bitterly!) that they did not gladden their parents while they were yet alive. It is their comfort to think that their parents will see them enter into glory. One of these penitents was heard to say, "How much surprised my father will be to see me enter heaven!"

Title: Abraham's reply to the rich man
Post by: nChrist on July 31, 2008, 06:14:52 PM
Devotional Commentary On The Gospels
by Favell Lee Mortimer ( 1802 - 1878 )

July 27

Abraham's reply to the rich man
Luke 16:29-31

It is natural to suppose that the sight of a departed spirit would awaken a thoughtless soul. The rich man imagined that his brethren would turn from sin if Lazarus were to appear to them in the midst of their luxury and their gaiety, and to say, "I am the beggar that once languished at the gate - I am now an inhabitant of heaven - I partake of the immortal feast - I sit with the saints, and behold the face of God - I have seen your brother - he is not with us - I heard a doleful cry - it was his voice - he was burning in the flames of hell - he entreated that I might moisten his tongue with the tip of my finger, but the request could not be granted. He has remembered you. He once lived (as you do now) a worldly, thoughtless life - he knows how your lives will end - he dreads lest you should join him in the place of torment."

The rich man supposed that such a warning voice would alarm his brethren, stop them in their sinful career, and turn them to God. But the Lord has not appointed this mode of dealing with men. He might have made the departed, the ministers of the living. Every dead relative might have appeared again; the happy ones to tell of their happiness; the miserable ones to tell of their misery. But God devised another method. He spoke to holy men of old, and taught them to write the words he dictated. He appointed living men to speak of those holy words to their fellow-creatures. This is God's method. Thousands and tens of thousands have been saved by these means. They have believed the written message, and the living preacher, and have fled from the threatened wrath. God continues to pursue this plan of dealing with men. He requires us to believe what we do not see, only because HE says it. The Lord Jesus well knew that if he had appeared to his enemies when he rose again from the dead, he would not have overcome their enmity; therefore he did not appear to them. He appeared to his friends for their comfort, but not to his enemies for their conversion.

The Lord's method must be the most excellent way. If we would save the souls of men, we must let them hear the word of God, which he spoke by Moses, by the prophets, by his own Son, and by his apostles. That word has awakened whole families, who were as thoughtless as the rich man's brothers, and has saved them from the place of torment. Every soul that reaches the abode of bliss, will trace his coming there to his having heard the word of God. Some will speak of one part of that blessed word, and some will speak of another, and all will bless the Holy Spirit who opened their hearts to receive the truth. We shall not need the Bible in heaven, because we shall be with Him who wrote it; but surely it will not be forgotten there. Neither will it be forgotten in hell. It will add to the fierceness of the flames to remember the slighted warnings, the despised promises, the rejected invitations of the word of God.

Title: Christ teaches the forgiveness of injuries
Post by: nChrist on July 31, 2008, 06:16:31 PM
Devotional Commentary On The Gospels
by Favell Lee Mortimer ( 1802 - 1878 )

July 28

Christ teaches the forgiveness of injuries
Luke 17:1-4

When Jesus was alone with his disciples, he dwelt upon those topics that were the most necessary for them to understand. All who believe in the Savior must listen with particular interest to these conversations.

Believers now, like the first disciples, are "compassed with infirmity." The instructions that suited the little flock who surrounded the Lord when he was on earth, will suit the larger flock that wait at his feet now he is enthroned in the heavens.

On this occasion the Savior warned his disciples against two things - committing offences, and indulging an unforgiving spirit.

The "offences" spoken of are stumbling-blocks laid in the way of weak believers. Those who are strong in faith must be careful not to injure the weak in faith, even as the elder children in a family must carefully avoid hurting the tender frames of the younger children. A considerate youth would refrain from performing some feats that he could with safety perform, if he thought that his little brothers might be tempted to imitate his example, and to endanger their limbs or their lives. Believers strong in faith ought to act in the same way, and to refrain even from enjoying lawful privileges, sooner than endanger their weak brethren. In Rom. 14 the apostle Paul points out very clearly this duty.

But if it be a grievous sin to wound a weak believer through carelessness, how dreadful a crime it must be to injure him willfully! No true believer would commit this sin. It would be better to be cast into the sea, (as criminals often are in the East,) than to be guilty of it. To persuade a child of God to act against his conscience, and to break his Father's law, is to commit a worse sin than murder. If you were to induce a person to leap from a high window, you might be the occasion of the destruction of his body, but if you were to tempt him to break the Sabbath, to tell a lie, to join in profane discourse, you would endanger his soul. God indeed could preserve the body from being dashed to pieces, and the soul from being lost, but the person who deceived would be as guilty as if the worst consequences had followed. How watchful we ought to be over our behavior to the children of God, lest we injure those whom God guards with such tender care!

There is another sin that we must strive against, if we desire to please God. It is an unforgiving spirit. The family of God upon earth are so full of defects, that they often annoy each other. If we were surrounded by angels, we should have no temptations to anger. But is there one of us who can say, "I act like an angel to those around me?" Is it not true that we are constantly exercising the patience of our companions? Does it become us to be slow to forgive? When we are conscious that we have wounded another, each of us should say, "I repent;" and when another says to us, "I repent," each of us should reply, "I forgive." But if our brother forget his duty, and omit to acknowledge his fault, we ought not to be rigorous in demanding the confession. Were he to make it, we should find it more easy to forgive; but if he withhold it, we have the opportunity of showing a higher degree of grace by forgiving, notwithstanding his omission. In most differences, however, both parties have something to confess and something to forgive. Mutual concessions and mutual forgiveness are generally needed. He who first says, "I repent," acts the most Christian part; for he shows that he has already forgiven the trespasses of his brother. Had not Jesus forgiven us before any of us said, "I repent," we never should have felt even the desire to obtain his forgiveness. It was the thought that He loved us before we loved him that melted our hearts, and made us feel truly penitent for our sins.

Title: The disciples pray for more faith
Post by: nChrist on July 31, 2008, 06:17:52 PM
Devotional Commentary On The Gospels
by Favell Lee Mortimer ( 1802 - 1878 )

July 29

The disciples pray for more faith
Luke 17:5-10

Why did the disciples offer up the prayer, "Increase our faith?" Had their Lord just revealed some mystery that it was difficult to believe? No - but he had just enjoined a duty that it was difficult to practice. That duty was, "Forgiving often-repeated trespasses." Whoever has been deeply or often injured, and has endeavored freely to forgive, knows that the wicked heart rises up against the righteous deed - and that the struggle is sharp between the sense of injury and of duty. In vain the person offended reasons with himself, and urges himself to the performance of the command; his unwilling soul hangs back, and refuses to obey. What is the only remedy against this inward repugnance? Faith. Had we more faith, we should run, where now we cannot walk. The disciples felt their need of faith, and they applied to him who alone can bestow it. Jesus is the author of faith.

Though some prophets have been enabled to bestow temporal benefits, none have ever had the power to confer spiritual good. No mere man was ever known to give repentance, or to strengthen faith. But the Son of God can do all things. If any man lack wisdom, let him ask of him and it shall be given him - if any man lack faith, let him ask and it also shall be given. Have we any excuse for saying, "I cannot do what my Lord commands?" Do we find it difficult to forgive repeated injuries, or great injuries, or (which is harder still) to forgive trespasses still unconfessed, there is power in Christ to enable us to overcome these mountains.

And when we have succeeded in conquering the deep-rooted sins of our hearts, what ought to be our feeling then? Our Savior teaches us what it ought to be. When we have done all that was commanded, we must say, "We are unprofitable servants - we have done that which was our duty to do." But we have never done all, or half, or a hundredth part of the things that were commanded us. We are not only unprofitable, but we are provoking and guilty servants. Had we not the God of all patience for our master, we should have been dismissed long ago from his service. But instead of dismissing us, he treats us in the most generous manner. His yoke is easy and his burden is light, while his reward is a weight of glory. He is so infinitely gracious, that after having borne with our imperfect services, he has promised to say to each who sincerely loves him, "Well done, good and faithful servant - enter into the joy of your Lord."

The thought of receiving such commendation ought to humble us more than the severest reproof. It will humble those who shall receive it. Every one of them will cast his crown of life at the feet of Him who bestowed it, and say, "You are worthy, O Lord, to receive glory, and honor, and power." (Revelation 4:11.)

Title: James and John betray a revengeful spirit
Post by: nChrist on July 31, 2008, 06:19:17 PM
Devotional Commentary On The Gospels
by Favell Lee Mortimer ( 1802 - 1878 )

July 30

James and John betray a revengeful spirit
Luke 9:51-56

And was it the gentle apostle John who proposed to consume the Samaritans with fire? Yes, it was even that apostle whom Jesus loved; that apostle who leaned on his bosom at supper, who stood by his cross, and who became a son to the Messiah's bereaved mother. Yes, even John once indulged a proud, passionate, and revengeful spirit. When the Samaritan villagers refused to receive the Lord, the apostles James and John thought that they showed a holy zeal in desiring to revenge the insult. How easy it is to deceive ourselves respecting the motives of our actions! Party spirit often appears like holy zeal; but it is of an opposite nature, and comes from a different place.

The Lord felt compassion for these ignorant Samaritans. They refused to receive him into their houses; but had they known who he was, and what he could bestow, they would have asked of him, and he would have received them into everlasting habitations. But they knew him not; they looked upon him as their enemy, because he belonged to the Jewish nation.

The sin of the well-instructed apostles James and John was much greater than the sin of the ignorant Samaritans. When Moses and Aaron once said to the Israelites, "Must we fetch water for you rebels!" the Lord was so much displeased with the passionate speech, that he permitted neither of these eminent saints to enter the promised land. Yet was not the spirit of the brothers James and John like the spirit of Moses and Aaron on that occasion? The two leaders of Israel would have permitted the thirsty host to languish for lack of water; the two apostles were anxious to consume the Samaritan villagers with fire.

There was once another prophet who indulged the same wrong spirit. Jonah desired the destruction of Nineveh. God expostulated with the prophet upon his cruelty in wishing so large a city, containing so many little children, to be destroyed.

God loves better to hear his people intercede for perishing sinners, (as Abraham did for Sodom,) than to hear them plead for their destruction. It better becomes a creature, who deserves himself to be consumed, and who has been snatched by the arm of divine mercy as a brand from the burning - it better becomes such a one to ask mercy for his fellow-sinners, than to invoke vengeance. When Elijah called down fire from heaven to consume the captains that the king had sent to take him, he spoke in the power of God's Spirit, and not after his own will. When Elisha turned and cursed the children of Bethel, he acted by the direction of God. When David in his psalms denounces dreadful curses upon the wicked, he speaks in the person of Christ, and foretells the sentence which the Lord will pronounce upon His own enemies at the last day. There is not a word in the Bible, from the beginning to the end, to sanction a revengeful spirit. But nothing can show the hatefulness of such a spirit so clearly as the example of Christ. Even when nailed upon the cross, he prayed for his murderers, saying, "Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do." Do not we feel ashamed of the harshness and heat of our own spirits? Are we not too soon provoked, and too slowly pacified? All who know their own hearts lament that they have not yet attained to that charity which bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. But let us not be discouraged. Let us pray that the Holy Spirit may sanctify our hearts, and subdue those proud tempers and angry feelings that disturb our peace, dishonor our profession, and displease our Savior.

Title: Christ replies to three people
Post by: nChrist on July 31, 2008, 06:21:09 PM
Devotional Commentary On The Gospels
by Favell Lee Mortimer ( 1802 - 1878 )

July 31

Christ replies to three people
Luke 9:57-62

Would not each of us like to know what the Savior would have "said to us had we lived upon earth at the time that he honored it with his bodily presence? We have just read of three people who had interviews with him, each of whom received an answer suited to his real character. The first and the last of these three offered to follow Jesus; the second was called to follow him. It is natural for us to suppose that those who offered to become his disciples were more attached to him than the man who did not offer himself, but who only received a call. Yet it is evident from the Lord's replies to each that he was most approved whom we might deem least earnest.

The first of the three appears to have mistaken the nature of the Lord's service. He said, "I will follow you wherever you go." But was he prepared to follow him to prison and to death? It appears from the Lord's answer that he was not. Jesus replied - "Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests - but the Son of man has not where to lay his head." By this answer the Savior seemed to say, "If you desire a life of ease, you must not follow me; for I have no retreat from the malice of my foes." Had the man truly loved him, he would not have been deterred by any dangers from following his steps. As no further mention is made of this man, it is most probable that he was discouraged by the reply he received.

Those who cannot read the heart might have thought that the man who said, "Permit me first to go and bury my father," was unwilling to follow Jesus. But the Lord judged differently. He saw in the man the spirit that he approved. It was not unwillingness to obey his call, but a sense of duty to an aged, and perhaps a deceased parent, that prompted the request. The Lord replied, "Let the dead bury their dead." It is probable that this man had relations who were dead in sins. The Lord appointed that they should bury the dead father, and that the living son should preach the kingdom of God. He was not dead - he was made alive by the Spirit of God. Christ does not say to every one, "Preach the kingdom of God;" but when he does call a man by his Spirit to the holy ministry, every hindrance to his obedience to the call must be laid aside. Many who have gone forth as missionaries to heathen lands, have broken the dearest ties in order to pursue their sacred work! Some have left widowed mothers, others have sacrificed their brightest earthly hopes, rather than disobey the command, "Preach the kingdom of God."

The last of the three resembled the first in one respect. Like him he offered to follow Jesus. He resembled the second in another respect. Like him he asked permission to delay his coming for a little while; but the reason he gave was different. He wished to bid fare well to those at home in his house. Was this request wrong? Did not Elisha once make a similar request when called by Elijah? It is evident that in this case the motive was wrong. The Lord's answer showed that this man, like the first, was not prepared for the service he offered to engage in. His heart still clung to his earthly interests, and was not devoted to Christ. Therefore the Lord compared him to one, who, holding the handle of the plough, instead of fixing his eye upon the furrow before him that he may make it straight, turns his head round, and gazes on the scenes behind. Such a man, he declared, was not fit for the kingdom of God.

The first and last of the three appear to have been unsound at heart. The first was eager to set out, because he knew not the nature of the service; the last was unwilling to set out immediately, because he loved too well his earthly portion.

Let us examine our own hearts, to see whether we resemble any one of these three men! Perhaps we are eager, like the first, to undertake some Christian work. But are we prepared for sufferings, and persecution, and poverty? Or our case may resemble that of the last. We may intend some day to become devoted Christians, while we feel so much engrossed by our earthly enjoyments that we are continually putting off the time for beginning to lead a new life. The Lord Jesus knows our most secret feelings. It is useless to attempt to deceive him - if we do not really love him, and think it a privilege to serve him, he will not accept our services. If, like the second character, we really long to do something for his cause, but are hindered by other pressing duties, the way shall be made clear; a door shall be opened, difficulties shall be removed, and the desire of our hearts shall be granted.

Title: The ten Lepers
Post by: nChrist on July 31, 2008, 06:22:30 PM
Devotional Commentary On The Gospels
by Favell Lee Mortimer ( 1802 - 1878 )

August 1

The ten Lepers
Luke 17:11-19

How touching are the words, "Where are the nine?" The Lord keeps an account of the number that he blesses, and he expects to see them at his feet, giving him thanks. He knows how many he has lifted up from the gates of death since the last setting sun. Some called on him yesterday out of the depths of distress; he heard them, and today disease is subdued, and danger is averted. Parents who feared yesterday that their absent children had met with some fatal accident, have heard today that they are safe. People plunged in deep poverty, who feared that they should soon perish with famine, or pine in a prison, have received gifts today that have extricated them from all their troubles. Are those people today pouring forth their thanks at their Redeemer's feet? It is to be feared that the Lord still says, "Where are the nine; the nine hundred, the nine thousand, the nine million, that I have delivered from distress?"

We are astonished at the ingratitude of the lepers; but no doubt they had some plausible excuses to make for their conduct. The Lord had said to them, "Go, show yourselves to the priests." As they were going they were cleansed. They still followed the direction that had been given them, and pursued their way. But gratitude ought to have turned their steps back again. If they delayed to go to Jesus, they might never enjoy another opportunity of thanking him; for he was on his way, and would soon be gone. One, however, followed not the example of his companions. When he felt the glow of health in his veins, and saw the hue of health upon his hands, he did not hesitate how to act - he returned alone, and with a loud voice and in an humble attitude, glorified God. And this man was a Samaritan! He belonged to an ignorant nation, to a nation whom the Jews despised, and whose religion the Lord disapproved. This instance shows that among the most ignorant there are some whose hearts God has prepared to love him. Those who visit the abodes of misery in crowded cities find some of the poor outcasts ready to receive the truth. Missionaries find some in heathen lands who, as soon as they hear the Gospel, embrace it. But there are only a few in this state. The mass of mankind in all countries care for the gifts, and not at all for the giver. The human heart is naturally ungrateful. Men are disposed to be ungrateful to their fellow-creatures. They feel humbled under the weight of great obligations, and seek an excuse for not being thankful. But they are far more ungrateful to God than they are to any other being. His mercies are considered matters of course. People like to imagine that all things happen by chance, and that God does not trouble himself with their little concerns. By these ideas, they relieve themselves from the burden of gratitude.

There is a charge that will be brought against sinners hereafter, which will involve them in the deepest guilt. It is this - they knew that the Father had given his only Son to die for them, and they were not thankful. Even devils will not have this black crime to answer for. Are there as many as one in ten in this Christian land who have heartily thanked God for the gift of his Son? who have thanked him as heartily for it, as they would thank a fellow-creature who had saved their lives at the risk of his own? or even as heartily as they would a friend for showing them common kindness and hospitality?

Title: Christ prepares his disciples for his absence
Post by: nChrist on July 31, 2008, 06:24:06 PM
Devotional Commentary On The Gospels
by Favell Lee Mortimer ( 1802 - 1878 )

August 2

Christ prepares his disciples for his absence

Luke 17:20-24

When the Pharisees asked questions the Lord disappointed them by his replies. They made inquiries in the hope of entangling him, but they themselves were confounded by the answers they received. They asked when the kingdom of God should come. The Lord, instead of acquainting them with that great secret, taught a more important truth. Jesus will one day be declared "King over all the earth;" but even now he reigns in the hearts of true believers; therefore he said to the Pharisees, "The kingdom of God is within you." It was useless for them to be looking for the appearance of the Lord in his glory, while they had not received him into their hearts.

The Lord would not converse on this subject with his enemies; but he turned to his disciples, and gave them much instruction concerning his second coming. He said, "The days will come when you shall desire to see one of the days of the Son of man, and you shall not see it." What did he mean by one of the days of the Son of man? Was not the day in which he was speaking one of the days, and is not the day in which he will come again another of the days? The Lord prepared his disciples for his approaching departure, and foretold that when he was gone away they should long to see him again - that is, they should desire to see one of his days. Were not these words fulfilled? How earnestly John, when banished to the Isle of Patmos, desired to see the glorious day of the Son of man! Almost the last words he wrote were these - "Come, Lord Jesus." And do not all the disciples of the Lord long to see his day of glory? This is one of the marks by which they are distinguished - they "love his appearing." (1 Timothy 4:8.) They pray for it constantly in the words, "Your kingdom come."

But though they do not know when it will come, they do know how - for Jesus has told them that "as the lightning that lights out of one part under heaven, shines unto the other part under heaven; so shall also the Son of man be in his day." This promise is a great comfort to all his disciples. It would have disturbed their minds, if they had thought it possible that their Lord might return to the earth without their knowing it. They would have been interrupted in their holy pursuits by the idea, "He may now be at Jerusalem, or in the desert, or in some hidden chamber, or in some retired spot." But they now feel sure that when he comes, they shall see him, wherever they may be, or whatever they may be doing. Only a few disciples saw him ascend in the clouds from the Mount of Olives - but every eye shall behold him when he comes again. How exceedingly great will be the brightness of that day! When the Lord Jesus appeared to the persecuting Saul, the light was beyond the brightness of the sun at noonday, and its dazzling splendor blinded the eyes of the astonished man. (Acts 26:13.) But when he comes again, the light will spread over the whole world; saints will be strengthened to gaze upon the scene, and will be changed into the image of their Lord; while impenitent sinners will find the day of brightness a day of darkness to them. How striking are the words of the prophet Amos on this subject! Amos 5:18-20  - "Woe unto you that desire the day of the Lord - to what end is it for you? the day of the Lord is darkness, and not light. As if a man did flee from a lion, and a bear met him, or went into the house, and leaned his hand on the wall, and a serpent bit him. Shall not the day of the Lord be darkness, and not light? even very dark, and no brightness in it?"

Title: Christ prepares his disciples for his sudden return
Post by: nChrist on July 31, 2008, 06:25:32 PM
Devotional Commentary On The Gospels
by Favell Lee Mortimer ( 1802 - 1878 )

August 3

Christ prepares his disciples for his sudden return
Luke 17:25-37

Though the Lord did not inform his disciples when his kingdom should come, he told them of one event that must happen before that glorious day arrived - that event was his own death. "But first he must suffer many things, and be rejected of this generation." His disciples also would suffer many things, and be rejected by generation after generation. The history of their sufferings to the end of time is to be found in the Revelation. That book is a book of warnings (as well as promises) to the church of God. It prepares them for enduring much tribulation before their Savior appears to their comfort, and to the joy of their enemies.

But the Lord has concealed both the time and the place of his second appearing. When the disciples inquired, "Where, Lord?" he replied by a proverb, "Where the body is, there will the eagles be gathered together." We need not seek to know the place, for we shall be gathered to that place, whenever the time arrives.

There is another most important circumstance which the Lord has not concealed. In what state will the world be when Jesus comes again? In the same state as it was before the flood. The book of Genesis, as well as the book of Revelation, is a book of warnings; for though it reveals events long past, they are types of events yet to come. The flood, and the burning of Sodom and Gomorrah, are types of the destruction of the wicked when Jesus comes again. One family only was saved when the flood came, and one family only was saved when the cities were burnt; and one family only will be saved when Jesus comes again. It is his own family, the people that he has chosen, and called to be his children. But in that one family, who were saved when Sodom was destroyed, there was a person who is held up as a warning to all who profess to belong to Christ. "Remember Lot's wife." She was almost saved - but yet - she was lost. And why? Because her heart still clung to the possessions she had left in Sodom. The Lord bids us beware of hankering after worldly goods. "In that day he which shall be upon the housetop, and his stuff in the house, let him not come down to take it away." This direction was literally observed by the disciples when Jerusalem was besieged by the Romans, but it is to be spiritually observed to the end of time. Occasions will arise when the people of God must sacrifice all they possess rather than be false to their Master's cause. "Whoever shall lose his life shall preserve it."

It was painful to Lot to leave his wife a pillar of salt upon the plain of Sodom. Such separations as Lot then endured will take place when Christ comes again. Some who are living in the closest intimacy will be forever separated. The believer will be taken away from the side of his unbelieving brother, and transported into the presence of his Lord. None can imagine the despair of those who shall be left, or the horrors that will await them. Who is there who has not a believing relation? How could we bear the idea of seeing that holy person soaring away, and leaving us behind? Now he often invites us to walk with him in the ways of God - sometimes he prays with us, and more frequently still FOR US. It may seem impossible that an affectionate father, or a tender mother, should leave a child behind to be consumed by the ungodly; but when the righteous are borne by angels into the presence of God, none will be able to mount their fiery chariots, but those for whom they are sent. God is willing to save all of us. The way is open, and the invitation is free. "Whoever will, let him take of the water of life freely." (Revelation 22:17.)

Title: The parable of the unjust judge
Post by: nChrist on July 31, 2008, 06:27:13 PM
Devotional Commentary On The Gospels
by Favell Lee Mortimer ( 1802 - 1878 )

August 4

The parable of the unjust judge
Luke 18:1-8

This parable has been a great comfort to Christians while waiting for the second coming of the Son of man. The Lord had told his disciples that he would soon be absent from them. Eighteen hundred years have rolled away, and still the church is as a widow, and still Satan, her great adversary, is permitted to harass her. But has God been like an unjust judge? No, but he has appeared as if he did not hear his people's prayers for deliverance from their enemies. His widowed church has cried day and night to him, saying, "Avenge me of my adversary," but God has not yet answered this prayer. He has not yet bound Satan with a great chain, and shut him up in the bottomless pit. Still our adversary goes about seeking whom he may devour; still he endeavors by various wiles and devices to destroy the people of God. And shall he always be permitted to do this? No! the day appointed for deliverance shall come. God will not say, like this unjust judge, "My church troubles me; I will avenge her, lest by her continual coming she weary me." The Lord is never wearied by the supplications of his people, for he has said, "The prayer of the upright is his delight." He will say, "I will now avenge my own elect, which cry day and night unto me, though I have borne long with them." Then He will send his Son from heaven to deliver his people, and to consume their enemies.

"Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, shall he find faith on the earth?" Shall he find that his people have believed that he was coming? Will it not be as it was in the day of the resurrection, that even those who loved the Lord remembered not his promise? The angels said to the woman, "He is risen, as he said." Then, and not until then, those women remembered his words. Before Christ comes again many will be inclined to say, (like the two disciples going to Emmaus,) "We trusted it had been he which should have redeemed Israel."

While waiting for that day, we may go to our God in every hour of distress. He can bring to nothing (as it is expressed in the Liturgy) all the devices which the craft or subtlety of the devil or man works against us. We always shall find that in the end He will say, "Shall I not hear my afflicted child who cries day and night unto me?" This is one of the comforts of his children, that they have a God to whom they can go in time of trouble. He is on their side; He takes their part. Whether it is disease or death that threatens them, or whether it is the persecutions of wicked men, or the temptations of Satan that harass them, the Lord is greater than their enemies, and is able to subdue them. He would hear his children at first, only he knows that waiting will exercise their faith. Therefore he bears long with them. Why did he return answers that appeared severe to the woman of Canaan? Why did he not heed the first summons of the sisters of Lazarus? Why did he permit Job to pine with long sickness and sorrow? Was it not that he designed to teach his beloved this hard lesson, even that he hears them when he seems to disregard?

This is a lesson that is not understood by the little ones in Christ's school; they cannot bear delays, and think they are denials; but as their love increases, they can bear apparent neglect, and even repulses, without suspecting the loving-kindness of their heavenly Father. They know that God is love, and they can reason upon his love, and say, "He who spared not his own Son, but gave him up for us all, will he not with him also freely give us all things?"

Title: The Prayers of the Pharisee and of the Tax-collector
Post by: nChrist on July 31, 2008, 06:28:32 PM
Devotional Commentary On The Gospels
by Favell Lee Mortimer ( 1802 - 1878 )

August 5

The Prayers of the Pharisee and of the Tax-collector
Luke 18:9-14

There are thousands of prayers offered up to God every day; there have been thousands offered up this day. Have they all been accepted? No! there are prayers which are not accepted. Are we anxious to know whether the prayer we offered up alone this morning was accepted or not? - or did we offer none?

What was that made the Pharisee's prayer so hateful to God? It was the pride of his heart. His prayer was in truth no prayer at all. He boasted, instead of praying; but he deceived his own heart by putting his boast in the form of a thanksgiving. He did not feel thankful when he said, "God, I thank you I am not as other men." Had he felt thankful, he would not have despised the poor tax-collector. How different were the feelings of Paul, when he said, "By the grace of God I am what I am!" When we are thankful, we are filled with compassion (not with contempt) for those who are less blessed than ourselves.

How many offer prayers like the Pharisee's, while they use the words of the tax-collector! It is possible with all the pride of a Pharisee to smite upon the heart and to say, "Lord, be merciful to me a sinner!" But the tax-collector felt what he said. He thought himself unworthy to lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven. He stood afar off from the Holy of holies, as unfit to enter the presence of God. He knew not what we know of a Savior's love; but he must have trusted in the promises of pardon to penitent sinners through an atonement, or he could not have offered up this humble prayer. With what joy penitent sinners like this tax-collector receive the tidings of a Savior! There were such publicans in the Savior's days, and they came to Jesus, and heard his word with thankfulness.

In what different states the Pharisee and the tax-collector returned from the temple to their own houses! The tax-collector went down a pardoned sinner, accepted for the sake of Christ. The Pharisee returned with the guilt of his sins upon his head, and that of the proud prayer he had offered, added to his former guilt. Pride is the most flagrant sin in God's sight. It has ruined multitudes of our fallen race, and it has even sunk angels into the bottomless abyss. In what state did we come down from our chambers this morning? Did we come down justified, or not? Have we ever made such humble, fervent supplications to God as the tax-collector did? Are we ashamed of ourselves and of our sins? Have we earnestly implored the infinite mercy of God in Christ? It is a dreadful thing to be unjustified or unpardoned. To rise up unjustified, to lie down unjustified - to go out - to come in - unjustified! To be exposed to death every moment, and yet - to be unjustified! But this is the state of everyone who has not repented of his sins, and obtained pardon through the merits of his Savior.

Title: The rich young ruler
Post by: nChrist on August 08, 2008, 02:10:44 AM
Devotional Commentary On The Gospels
by Favell Lee Mortimer ( 1802 - 1878 )

August 6

The rich young ruler
Mark 10:17-22

It is impossible not to feel interested in this young inquirer. The respect he paid to the Lord was rare in a man of rank and property. "He kneeled to him, and said, Good master." It is pleasing to see a young person anxious to learn the way of salvation. This youth came running to inquire what he should do to inherit eternal life. Though multitudes applied to the Savior for the cure of their diseases, few inquired how they should obtain salvation for their souls. This young man's course of life appears to have been correct, and his disposition amiable. We are already disposed to love him, when we read, "The Lord beholding him, loved him." Though no doubt Jesus loved all his disciples, and though we know that he loves even sinners, yet this expression is scarcely used on any other occasion. There was a disciple of whom it is said that Jesus loved him, and there was a family at Bethany concerning whom the same is recorded. But they were his devoted followers, while this youth was not even a believer. Yet as the Lord was man, as well as God, he may have loved those qualities that attract our regard, and are called "amiable." Nothing is more amiable in youth than a teachable disposition, a respectful demeanor, frankness of manner, and earnestness of spirit. All these the youth possessed. Even when he received a command that he would not obey, he still behaved in an amiable manner, and showed no angry resentment, but only deep sorrow. No doubt the Savior was touched by his grief; but he spoke not a word of consolation. He, who comforted all who were cast down, saying, "Weep not," permitted this mourner to go away uncomforted. And why? Because there was no comfort for his sorrow. He grieved because the gate was too strait, and the way too narrow, that leads to eternal life. There can be no consolation for this grief, either in time or in eternity.

This young ruler did not know he was a sinner, and he did not feel his need of a Savior. Neither did he look upon Jesus as a Savior, but only as a teacher. When the Lord said, "Why do you call me good? there is none good but God," the young man ought to have replied, "You are the Son of God." But he believed not in Jesus. He wished to find out a way by which he might save himself. Therefore the Lord showed him his own heart by giving him a commandment that he would not choose to obey. He said to him, "Sell all that you have, and give to the poor." This commandment was given as a test whereby to try the youth, to see whether he would do all the Lord required. Once God tried Abraham, by commanding him to offer up his only son Isaac. Abraham stood the test, and proved that he loved the Lord above all. The young man did not stand the test. He might have stood an easier test; he might have been willing to part with half his possessions; he might have been willing to part with all, had his possessions not been so great - but to part with all his great possessions was more than he could bear to do. Some may feel inclined to wonder why the Lord imposed so hard a condition upon a young inquirer. They may say, "Is it not written that he does not quench the smoking flax, nor break the bruised reed?" This is true. When an afflicted father said with tears, "Help my unbelief," the Lord did not discourage him, for he was as smoking flax. When a sinful woman washed his feet with tears, he did not repulse her - for she was as a bruised reed. But this young man was not as smoking flax, or as a bruised reed. He had no love for Christ - no sorrow for sin - no desire for pardon. The most open transgressor, who is conscious that he deserves to be condemned, is nearer salvation than such a self-righteous character as this young ruler was.

It may be that some of us, like this youth, desire to go to heaven. We think we are sincere. God may cause some event to happen that shall try our hearts, and prove whether we are ready to give up all beside, rather than relinquish our hope in Christ. What the trial may be cannot be foretold. It will be suited to our particular state. Orpah, as well as Ruth, professed great attachment to Naomi, her mother-in-law; but only Ruth clung to her, and to her God, in the midst of poverty and desolation. Many say to Christ, "Lord, Lord," who would not follow him to prison or to death. Those who have not felt their need of his blood to cleanse their sinful souls, may think that silver or gold, or friends, or fame, is more precious than Christ.

Title: Christ declares the danger of possessing riches
Post by: nChrist on August 08, 2008, 02:12:11 AM
Devotional Commentary On The Gospels
by Favell Lee Mortimer ( 1802 - 1878 )

August 7

Christ declares the danger of possessing riches
Mark 10:23-27

Is it indeed so very hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God, and yet are men so anxious to become rich, and so much disposed to envy the rich, and to count them happy? Are parents so desirous to heap up treasures to leave to their children, and to see them occupy a higher station than themselves? Surely men do not believe this declaration of our Savior. Even the disciples were exceedingly astonished at it. Jesus then explained what he had said, and declared that it was those who trusted in riches who could not enter heaven. But how hard it is to possess them, and not to trust in them!

Let us inquire what it is to trust in riches. It is to feel them to be our own, and not the gift of God. Whether we have earned them by our industry, or inherited them from our parents, they are not our own, but only lent to us, and therefore they ought to be used in promoting God's glory. But the rich are apt to be proud, and to forget who gave them all they possess.

To trust in riches is to look to them for happiness. The favor of God alone can make us really happy. Outward things cannot do it, - neither friends, nor children, nor houses, nor lands - nor all the pleasures, comforts, and honors in the world. Even a child has been heard to say, "Things cannot make people happy." And how do saints now in glory estimate those possessions on which men set their hearts? Do they not regard them as rocks upon which souls are shipwrecked - as snares in which they are taken, and pierced through with many sorrows? It is true that riches might be converted into blessings. But how much grace does it require to use them aright! And how much more grace to feel aright when conscious of having great possessions! Great riches make people forget that they are great sinners, and lead them to neglect the great Savior. The rich have many friends, and often they do not feel the need of a heavenly and almighty Friend. They have great possessions below, and often they are satisfied without an inheritance above. A rich gentleman once said to a day-laborer, "Do you know to whom those estates belong on the borders of the lake?" "No," replied the laborer. "They belong to me," said the rich man. "And the wood and the cattle - do you know whose they are?" "No." "They are mine also," continued the rich man; "yes, all, all that you can see is mine." The peasant stood still a moment, then pointed to heaven, and in a solemn tone asked, "Is that also yours?"

How apt the rich are to forget to look upwards, and to ask, "Is heaven mine?" Silver and gold cannot purchase it; nothing but a Savior's precious blood. If an angel were commissioned to preach on earth, would he not rather speak to peasants than to princes - for angels must know that they are seldom called to rejoice over a penitent clothed in purple and fine linen. When the Gospel is proclaimed in hovels, and even in prisons, it has far greater success than when it is spoken in courts. A few indeed in the highest stations have been subdued by the power of divine grace; a few honorable counselors, such as Joseph and Nicodemus, have believed; a few honorable women, such as the Viscountess Glenorchy, and the celebrated Countess of Huntingdon, have devoted themselves to the service of God; a few mighty sovereigns, such as our wise Alfred, and our youthful Edward, have honored the King of kings, and the Lord of lords; but the greater part of those who have possessed lands, and riches, who have worn crowns, or coronets, have been satisfied with an earthly portion, and have not sought to obtain a crown of life, and an inheritance that fades not away.

Title: Christ promises rewards to his faithful followers
Post by: nChrist on August 08, 2008, 02:13:43 AM
Devotional Commentary On The Gospels
by Favell Lee Mortimer ( 1802 - 1878 )

August 8

Christ promises rewards to his faithful followers
Matthew 19:27-30

Had Peter spoken in pride when he said, "We have forsaken all," he would have received rebuke instead of encouragement. He had seen the rich young man go away grieved - he had heard the Lord's declaration respecting the danger of riches - and his mind reverted to the period when he had been called, and had obeyed the call. What occasion was there for gratitude when the disciples thought of the time when they first resolved to give up all, and to follow Jesus! There is no season in life upon which the believer looks back with such joy, as on that season when he first determined to engage in his Redeemer's service. Whether he gave up much or little, he knows that in heart he gave up all. He felt willing to give up all whenever duty required the sacrifice; and he actually gave up what is dearer than possessions - doing his own will, and trusting in his own righteousness.

The Lord's reply to Peter contains two glorious promises. The first was addressed to the apostles only; the second to everyone who had acted as they had done. The apostles had left fishing-boats, and they were promised thrones. Such is the gracious and astonishing manner in which God rewards! When was this promise to be fulfilled? In the regeneration, or the new birth of the world. That time is spoken of in Rev_21:1, where the apostle John declares, "I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away." This glorious time is called in Acts 3:21, "'the time of the restitution (or restoring) of all things." It appears that the apostles will then be distinguished by peculiar honors, and that they will be appointed to judge or rule over the tribes of Israel and the saints. But though we speak of these things, we understand them very dimly, because we see "through a glass, darkly."

The second promise that Jesus made is addressed to all who forsake any worldly good for his sake. Multitudes have lost their possessions, and have been separated from their families, because they chose to obey God rather than men. And how has God rewarded them? Has he given them the very things they renounced? No, not always; but he has given them more happiness, even in this life, than earth could have afforded them. They have indeed suffered "persecutions," but their joys have been greater than their sorrows. (Mark 10:30.)

Worldly things are only desired, because it is supposed that they can confer happiness. If any person were convinced that greater happiness could be obtained by any other means, surely he would not lament the loss of worldly comforts. How many saints have witnessed, that in the hour of outward sorrow they have tasted the purest inward joy! Such was the experience of Rutherford, when imprisoned in Aberdeen. In his letters he declared that since he had been in prison, he had discovered a sweetness in Christ that he had never conceived before. Such was the experience of Dr. Payson. When racked with pain in his last illness, he asserted that he felt more satisfaction than he had ever known in health. He said, "God has used a strange method to make me happy. I could not have believed, a little while ago, that in order to render me happy, He would deprive me of the use of my limbs, and fill my body with pain. But he has taken away everything else, that he might give me HIMSELF." And the apostles bore the same testimony when they said, "As the SUFFERINGS of Christ abound in us, so our consolation also abounds by Christ." (2 Corinthians 1:5.)

Are there any here who have never yet found happiness? Are you willing to try the experiment, and to see whether God can make you happy? Sin has its pleasures, but they are for a season, and they leave a sting behind. Have you not experienced this? But God bestows on his children a calm, a deep, a settled, an abiding joy, which is called PEACE. It cannot be described, for it is not only unspeakable, but it passes all understanding.

Title: The parable of the laborers in the vineyard
Post by: nChrist on August 08, 2008, 02:15:14 AM
Devotional Commentary On The Gospels
by Favell Lee Mortimer ( 1802 - 1878 )

August 9

The parable of the laborers in the vineyard
Matthew 20:1-16

Our Savior himself tells us what is the meaning of this parable. This is the explanation he gave - "The last shall be first, and the first last; for many are called, but few chosen." Those who are first in their own eyes, will be last in the great day of reckoning; and those who are last in their own eyes, will then be first. This seems to be the meaning of the parable. We have no reason to believe that all will have an equal reward in the last day - the parable of the talents seems to prove that there will be different degrees of glory in the world to come.

In the parable of the laborers in the vineyard, there is a representation of the feelings of self-righteous Pharisees toward penitent publicans. They were enraged at the idea of open sinners partaking with them of heavenly bliss. Self-righteous people, who have led a correct life, imagine that they are better than those who turn to God late in life. They think they deserve great reward for their self-denial. How much will they be astonished at the decisions of the last day! Then they will see open sinners, who have repented, admitted into God's presence, and they themselves thrust out! Little do they think that even a murderer, who truly repents in his last hour, is loved of God, while professors of religion, who have never repented, are hateful in his sight! Such impenitent people will not be received into heaven. But they will have the torment of beholding those whom they despised, welcomed by saints and angels, arrayed in white robes, and adorned with golden crowns. How much more exasperated will they be at this sight than the envious laborers were at the sight of the wages given to those who had worked but one hour! When they see penitent sinners received and rewarded, they will expect to be still more favored and still more honored. But they will be bitterly disappointed. They will then find that there is no mansion prepared for them in the celestial city.

The Lord's true servants are not like the murmuring laborers. If called early to work in his vineyard, they rejoice the more. They are not proud of having spent their youth in the service of God, but thankful for the great mercy shown to them. They pity those who were groaning under the bondage of Satan, while they were rejoicing in the liberty of Christ. How different from theirs was the spirit of those laborers who said, they had borne the burden and heat of the day! Those who do not love God, find his commandments grievous; but those who have experienced his pardoning mercy, call his yoke easy and his burden light. Do we think those the happiest who spend their lives in sin, and who, like the dying thief, are pardoned in their expiring moments? Or do we esteem those happiest who serve the Lord, like Joseph, from their youth, or like Samuel, from early childhood?

Title: Christ receives a message from Martha and Mary
Post by: nChrist on August 08, 2008, 02:16:45 AM
Devotional Commentary On The Gospels
by Favell Lee Mortimer ( 1802 - 1878 )

August 10

Christ receives a message from Martha and Mary
John 11:1-6

The conduct of our blessed Redeemer towards the beloved family at Bethany, sheds light upon his dealings with his saints now upon earth. Martha, Mary, and Lazarus, were firmly attached to their Lord, and they could stand trials that weaker saints could not have endured.

The Lord did not delay to heal the nobleman's son, nor Jairus' daughter, but he delayed to speak the word on behalf of Mary's brother. What was the reason for this difference? Mary and her sister knew their Lord well; they had experienced his faithfulness in times past; they could trust his love, even in the midst of apparent neglect.

When Lazarus was taken ill, his sisters deeply regretted the absence of their Lord, but they knew where he was, and they sent a messenger to acquaint him with their grief. The words of the message were few and touching, "Behold he whom you love is sick." The sisters did not request that Jesus would come; they laid their case before him, and left it to his never-failing love to act as he saw fit. Here is an example for our prayers. It is a comfort in distress to spread our wants and woes before the Lord; but it is best to leave it to his wisdom to decide how to relieve us.

The answer Jesus gave to the message was very encouraging. "This sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God, that the Son of God might be glorified thereby." Yet it seems probable that Lazarus died before the message could be delivered to the weeping sisters. It must have come too late to give them comfort.

But the dying chamber, the funeral scene, the days of mourning, were all appointed "for the glory of God." We naturally imagine that God is most glorified by preventing evil; but we know from his own declarations that he is more glorified by redeeming from evil. The fall of angels and of man will in the end bring more glory to God than would have arisen had these evils been prevented; for then the wonders of redemption could never have been displayed. It is a delight to the righteous to promote the glory of their heavenly Father. They would willingly endure sufferings for this purpose. We heard a little while ago of a man who was born blind, that the works of God might be made manifest in him - we now hear of one who died for the same end. Believers even now die, not as a punishment for sin, but in order to promote the glory of God. Christ has suffered for their sins, and borne all their punishment, but he appoints that they should die, that at the last day he may raise them all for his own glory. When he shall say, "Come up here," then great fear will fall on those who behold them ascending in a cloud to meet their Lord in the air.

Theirs will be a more glorious resurrection than that of Lazarus, for he rose to die again; but those who are made alive at the last day will die no more.

Title: Christ sets out for Bethany
Post by: nChrist on August 17, 2008, 06:07:23 PM
Devotional Commentary On The Gospels
by Favell Lee Mortimer ( 1802 - 1878 )

August 11

Christ sets out for Bethany
John 11:7-16

It seems amazing that though the disciples had lived with the Lord three years, they continued to misunderstand his words. They supposed that his motive for not going to heal the afflicted Lazarus, was fear of the Jews. For when he said, "Let us go into Judea again," they expressed their surprise. He replied by a short parable. He compared himself to a man who walked in the day, and who walked safely, because he enjoyed the light of the sun. He himself was light, and therefore could never fall into unforeseen danger. He knew that his hour was come, and that it was time to work his most stupendous miracle. When his hour was not come, he took pains to conceal his glorious works, that he might not too soon exasperate his enemies; but now he desired to fall into their cruel hands, that he might finish the work his Father had given him to do.

We do not possess foreknowledge; we do not know what things will happen to us in any place to which we are going; yet if we follow Jesus, we do not walk in darkness. It is true we are blind, but our guide is not; therefore we are as safe as if we ourselves possessed eye-sight. When we are going to take a step in life, if we find that the word of God pronounces it to be right, and that the providence of God opens the way, we need not fear evil. How safe were the disciples while conducted by their Master from place to place! Yet they knew not their own security. Thomas seems to have said with a wavering faith, and a fearful heart, "Let us also go, that we may die with him."

How was it the disciples did not comprehend their Master when he said, "Our friend Lazarus sleeps?" He taught them by this figurative language many sacred truths. He showed them that the commonest actions (such as sleeping) represent spiritual truths. Jesus was patient with his dull scholars, and explained his meaning, saying, "Lazarus is dead." These words could not be misunderstood - but those that followed were mysterious. "I was glad for your sakes that I was not there, to the intent you may believe." The raising of Lazarus was to effect more than one purpose. It was intended not only to convince unbelievers, but also to strengthen the faith of believers. The disciples were on the brink of an event that would call for the exercise of the strongest faith. Soon they would see their own Lord lying in his tomb. Never since the beginning of the world were the people of God exposed to so great a trial of faith, as the disciples then endured. To see Him on whom all their hopes for eternity depended, to see Him a breathless corpse - was there ever any trial to be compared to this? Therefore, before the trial came, the Lord by every method sought to strengthen the faith of his poor weak disciples.

He foresees our trials, and often, before he inflicts a severe stroke, he prepares us for it by various and wonderful methods. Sometimes he prepares us by leading us to the sick bed of a sufferer, and by letting us hear him tell how the Lord sustained him; sometimes by shading one of our props without removing it; and sometimes by bestowing great and astonishing mercies. The whole process cannot be understood now, but it will be made plain to the saints in glory. What delight it will afford above to trace the Lord's dealings with our souls, and to discover the secret causes of the events of his providence!

Title: Christ again predicts his sufferings
Post by: nChrist on August 17, 2008, 06:08:52 PM
Devotional Commentary On The Gospels
by Favell Lee Mortimer ( 1802 - 1878 )

August 12

Christ again predicts his sufferings
Mark 10:32-34

As we read the history of our Savior, we are continually struck by the union of courage and of tenderness in his character. He was now on his way to comfort two weeping sisters, by raising their beloved brother from the grave. He was also on his way to the place of his own execution. Bethany was a village very near to Jerusalem. What different scenes were soon to be witnessed at those two places! In Bethany the Lord would restore another's life; in Jerusalem lay down his own! But though he knew the painful trials that awaited him, He went willingly to the appointed spot, while his fearful disciples followed him reluctantly. Had we seen them on their journey, we might have supposed that one of them was going to receive honors, and the rest to endure sufferings. Whereas it was He who went boldly before, who was to be the victim, while those who followed trembling were to escape.

The Lord Jesus took his disciples alone by themselves, to unfold to them the history of his approaching sufferings. He took them apart, because he did not choose to declare before his enemies the deeds which they would commit against him; for such declarations would have emboldened them in wickedness. But to his own disciples he revealed even the particulars of the dreadful transactions. On this occasion it is recorded for the first time that he spoke of his deliverance to the Gentiles, and of the insulting spitting of his enemies. These degrading circumstances were now unfolded to his disciples, who revered him as the Son of God. Had they understood the meaning of their Master's words, their feelings would have been outraged, and harrowed up to the utmost pitch. Yet the words seem so plain that we can scarcely conceive how they could have been misunderstood. But, perhaps, as the Lord often used figurative language, the disciples supposed that his prophecies concerning himself were figurative; perhaps, though they often understood him literally when he was speaking figuratively - they thought he was speaking figuratively when he was speaking literally. This is still the great difficulty in the interpretation of prophecy - to distinguish the figurative from the literal; and perhaps future ages will show that the church in these days has fallen into some of the same errors as the apostles.

Great was the loss they sustained in consequence of their slowness of understanding. Had they been prepared to see their Lord bleeding on the cross, they would not have forsaken him in the hour of distress; and had they kept in mind the promise of his rising again, they would have been spared the bitterest tears they ever shed. That day of bitter tears during which the Prince of Life lay in his tomb, would have been to them a day of bright hopes, had they remembered his words. With what joy would they have hastened to the grave on the dawn of the third day, if they had expected to hear that he was risen!

In looking back on our past lives, can we not remember many seasons which would not have been so sad had we remembered the Savior's gracious promises? - seasons of doubt and perplexity - seasons of suspense and anxiety - seasons of disappointment - seasons of bereavement -  seasons of darkness and of the shadow of death? When those seasons have been past we have felt, "O had I from the beginning of the trial, and throughout its course, remembered my Lord's words, 'Fear not, I am with you,' and many similar words, what bitter pangs should I have been spared!" In all our troubles here below there is one promise that ought, above all, to cheer us. It is his promise, "I will come again, and receive you to myself." The words are plain. "He will come again!" he will actually come in a glorious body, and our eyes shall behold him. Come, Lord Jesus! come quickly.

Title: The request of the mother and sons of Zebedee
Post by: nChrist on August 17, 2008, 06:10:33 PM
Devotional Commentary On The Gospels
by Favell Lee Mortimer ( 1802 - 1878 )

August 13

The request of the mother and sons of Zebedee
Matthew 20:20-28

Was it a right request that the sons of Zebedee made when they asked to sit at the right and left hand of their Lord in his glory? Was it right in their mother to plead that this honor might be conferred on her children? A desire to be first is natural to the human heart in its fallen state; but this desire is the cause of the greater part of the anxiety and discontentment that prevail among men. All cannot be first; therefore if all desire to be first, all but one must be disappointed. And will that one be happy? None are so miserable as the proud. Nebuchadnezzar, the first monarch of his day, was a miserable man. What an account we read in the prophet Daniel of his fears, and tremors, and rage! On one occasion his spirit was troubled by his dreams, and on another through his fury the form of his visage was changed. No creature can be happy from his own greatness - but only from knowing the greatness of God. The angels are happy, because they delight in seeing God upon his throne. Adam and Eve were happy in the garden of Eden until they desired to be as gods; then, ceasing to delight in the glory of their Creator, they became miserable. When the Holy Spirit enters the heart of man, he begins his work by casting down "every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God." (1 Corinthians 10:5.)

Yet true believers are troubled, as long as they remain on earth, with sinful feelings; though, as they grow in grace, they grow in humility. The apostles, at their last supper with their Lord, disputed who should be greatest. Let us be on our guard against the secret workings of ambition. We have perhaps ceased to desire the great things of this world. We have perhaps no desire to shine in worldly circles, or to be commended by irreligious people. But do we cherish a wish to be thought much of by religious people? to be commended above our fellow-Christians? to be more noticed, more admired, more honored? Whereas we ought to esteem others better than ourselves. Our Savior has set the most wonderful example of humility by coming into this world to minister to us, and even to give his own precious life as a ransom for our sinful souls. Yet with what gentleness he answered the two brethren! He knew they had forsaken all to follow him; he knew that they would prefer shame and suffering with him, to any honor or joy apart from him; therefore he treated them with tenderness, though he did not promise to grant their request.

The words in ver. 23, "It shall be given to them," are written in italics to show that they were inserted by the translators in order to make the sense clear - yet, perhaps, if they were omitted the sense would be more clear - for Jesus did not say that it was not in his power to give the most honorable seats to whom he would. We know that whatever the Father does, the Son does likewise. (John 5:19.) This is what he said - "To sit on my right and on my left hand is not mine to give, but for whom it is prepared of my Father." The Son will bestow honor according to the decrees of the Father.

Though the Savior concealed from the apostles what they desired to know, he told them some things that must have been strange and unwelcome. He revealed to them that they must partake of his own bitter sufferings. This is the first time in which it is recorded that he spoke so openly of the sufferings of his apostles. The terms in which he spoke of their future trials were suited to sweeten them to their affectionate hearts. It was out of his own cup the two brethren were to drink, and in his own baptism they were to be baptized. It is this thought that has sustained many believers under persecution, and has strengthened them even to endure the burning flame, or the bloody cross. But not martyrs only - all true Christians suffer with their Lord. There is no sorrow that we can ever experience that our Lord has not tasted first; and he has tasted it, not only that he might take away our guilt, but also that he might sympathize in our grief. He knew all that James and John would be called to endure; and he knows also what each of us will be appointed to bear. He could have told James that the sword of Herod would cut short his days before those of any of the other apostles, and he could have told John that the cruel decree of Domitian would banish him in his old age to the Isle of Patmos, to dwell among convicted criminals. And he could tell each of us what losses we shall sustain, what pangs we shall suffer, what death we shall die. But he forbears to tell us more than that through much tribulation we must enter the kingdom of God. Who shall occupy the places at his right hand and at his left he has revealed to none; but though their names are secret, their characters are manifest - they will be humble. Whether they will be missionaries, or martyrs, or whether they will be beggars or slaves, we know not; but this we know, they will be self-denying and self-abased followers of their lowly Lord.

Title: Blind Bartimaeus
Post by: nChrist on August 17, 2008, 06:12:05 PM
Devotional Commentary On The Gospels
by Favell Lee Mortimer ( 1802 - 1878 )

August 14

Blind Bartimaeus
Mark 10:46-52

In the history of earthly princes we do not often hear of the poor and afflicted, but of brave generals and wise senators. In the history of the Prince of peace we meet continually with anecdotes of beggars and outcasts. Those whom men overlooked and spurned were the objects of his most tender regard. The blind, as among the most helpless, received signal tokens of his favor. On one occasion we read of a blind man who was brought to him by his friend. (See Mark 9.) Bartimaeus appears to have had no friends to assist him; if he had a friend, it was that blind man who sat with him begging, and was as helpless as himself. Far from being encouraged to come to Jesus, he was rebuked by the multitude, and told to hold his peace. Many people anxious about their salvation have been placed in the same circumstances. No friend has offered to lead them to the Savior, while many have rebuked them for their concern about their souls.

On another occasion the Lord passed by a blind man, and restored his sight without waiting to be asked, for that blind man knew neither the Savior's name, nor his power, until they were revealed to him by the Lord himself. (See John 9.) Bartimaeus, far from being noticed by the Lord, could obtain for a long while no answer to his earnest entreaties. His case was more trying than that of the woman of Canaan; for stern answers were less discouraging than no answers at all. Besides, she could follow Jesus with her cries, while Bartimaeus from his blindness was unable to find his way to his Lord. Jesus was passing by - would soon be past - might never pass that way again, (as indeed he never did;) it was a short opportunity; it seemed likely it would be the only one. All things were against the poor blind beggar; but instead of being disheartened, he "cried the more a great deal." There are some who leave off praying without having suffered as much discouragement as poor Bartimaeus. If their cold and careless prayers do not receive an immediate answer, they are ready to give up the case as lost, and to try no more. But those who persevere in fervent prayer shall be blessed with blind Bartimaeus.

At length Jesus stood still. Thus he honored the beggar in the presence of the surrounding crowds. He commanded him to be called. Those who had before rebuked him, must now have felt ashamed. The blind man was evidently agitated and distressed, for those who called him said, "Be of good comfort, rise; he calls you." What a joyful moment was this! With what haste the poor man obeyed the summons! He cast away his outer garment, that it might not slow his movements, and approached his compassionate friend. Though the Lord well knew his desire, he induced him to express it in his own words - for he loves to hear the petitions of his people. Not only did he bestow sight on Bartimaeus, but he pronounced these words of commendation - "Your faith has made you whole." This assurance must have been dearer to the poor beggar than even his bodily sight, for it implied a promise of eternal blessedness. Though the Savior said, "Go your way," yet the grateful man followed his deliverer.

Thus as the Lord journeyed towards Jerusalem, he gathered in his train fresh monuments of his power. The march of earthly conquerors is tracked with blood; smoking villages and mangled corpses mark the way which they have trodden, while weeping captives are chained to their triumphal chariots. But the Savior left joy behind him wherever He went, and collected new trophies of his mercy. Thus will He come at the last day. He will bring his saints with him; he will be attended by those whom he has rescued from the darkness and blindness of sin and death, from the grave and its corruption, from hell and its horrors. Shall we belong to that triumphant band? Has Jesus opened the eyes of our minds? Do we now follow him in the way?

Title: Zacchaeus
Post by: nChrist on August 17, 2008, 06:13:38 PM
Devotional Commentary On The Gospels
by Favell Lee Mortimer ( 1802 - 1878 )

August 15

Luke 19:1-10

In this history we find an instance of a spiritual cure wrought by the Lord. Opening the eyes of Bartimaeus was not so great a work as opening the heart of Zacchaeus. Though the Lord was continually healing the lame and the blind, yet it was not to heal them he came into the world. For what did he come? Hear his own declaration - "The Son of man is come to seek and to save that which is lost." But men in general (not being aware of their lost condition) did not apply to him for salvation, as they did for the healing of their bodily infirmities. Zacchaeus did not cry for mercy as Bartimaeus did. His desire was to see this wonderful prophet, of whom he had heard so much. For this purpose, being little of stature, he climbed into a tree. It is probable he would have been satisfied had he obtained a good view of the Savior, as he passed beneath. How much astonished he must have felt when the Lord, upon coming to the place, looked up and said, "Zacchaeus, make haste and come down, for today I must abide at your house!" He must have been ready to exclaim, as Nathanael once did, "How do you know me?" It was evident the Lord knew not only his name, but his circumstances. He knew that he had a house in which he could receive guests. He knew more than this; he knew his heart - he was sure that Zacchaeus was willing to entertain him beneath his roof - He must have known it, for He Himself had made him willing. On no other occasion is it recorded that he entered without invitation the house of a stranger.

It was indeed a singular honor that was conferred upon Zacchaeus. It was his privilege to show hospitality to his Lord at the very beginning of his acquaintance with him; and he seems to have been conscious of the greatness of the privilege, for he came down the tree with haste, and received him joyfully. Whence arose his joy? Though curiosity may have been his only motive for ascending the tree, yet some higher principle seems to have actuated him before he descended. Like Nathaniel and the woman of Samaria, he may have felt that none but the true Messiah could have such knowledge of him and of his circumstances. No wonder he rejoiced in the prospect of an opportunity of conversation with Him who knew all things.

Very interesting communion must have taken place beneath the roof of Zacchaeus; but very little is recorded. In a short space of time, the master of the house had learned so much of the will of his Lord, as to stand up and make public declarations and confessions. He declared he would give half of his goods to the poor - he confessed that he had by false accusations (or by overcharging when he gathered the public taxes) defrauded some people - he promised to restore to them four times what he had taken. It is a good sign when those who are impressed with religious truth begin by making restitution, asking pardon of those whom they have offended, and adopting an entirely new course of life.

The gracious Savior was not slow to honor the good resolutions of Zacchaeus. He gave him the title of a son of Abraham; thus showing that it was his faith that had produced his holy determination. Had the honorable young ruler possessed the faith of Zacchaeus, he would not have refused to part with all his possessions at the command of Christ. But, notwithstanding his attractive qualities, he was destitute of that precious grace. Zacchaeus possessed it, and would have held back nothing from his Lord that he had been called to give up. No doubt he would have gladly followed him in the way; but it seems he had duties to discharge at home. It was his part to endeavor to bring every member of his household to the knowledge of his Savior. Could he forget the encouraging assurance, "This day has salvation come to this house!" Those who belonged to his family might henceforth count themselves blessed. The visit of their divine guest was to them the earnest of eternal bliss.

There is a period in the history of some families when true religion first finds admittance. Various are the means by which it gains entrance - sometimes it is through a godly friend, and sometimes through a godly servant - in some cases the family are led to hear a faithful minister, in others - to read a holy book - but whatever are the means employed, that period is memorable indeed when the first member of a family turns to the Lord with all his heart. That member will not rest satisfied with serving God alone; he will offer prayers, and use persuasions, until his children or his parents, his brethren and his sisters, unite in the same blessed service.

Title: The first part of the parable of the ten pounds
Post by: nChrist on August 17, 2008, 06:15:04 PM
Devotional Commentary On The Gospels
by Favell Lee Mortimer ( 1802 - 1878 )

August 16

The first part of the parable of the ten pounds
Luke 19:11-19

This parable was related to correct a mistake into which many of the Lord's disciples had fallen. They thought that the kingdom of God should immediately appear. They were not wrong in supposing that the kingdom of God would one day be established upon the earth; for it will be set up with power and great glory; but they were wrong in supposing that the time had already come. There will be great voices in heaven, saying, "The kingdoms of this world have become the kingdoms of our Lord and of his Christ, and he shall reign forever and ever." But before those acclamations will be heard, many events must take place. The Lord had already prepared James and John for enduring sufferings, before they could be exalted to honor; and now he prepared all his disciples for performing services before they could partake of rewards. Zacchaeus had just shown his willingness to serve the Lord, by making promises of restitution to the injured, and of liberality to the poor. His spirit ought to be the spirit of all the followers of Christ. Though we can only be saved by free grace, yet we must show our gratitude for this free salvation by our works.

The Lord Jesus compared himself in this parable to a nobleman who went into a far country, to receive a kingdom from his monarch, and who returned to that kingdom to take possession of it. It was in this manner that Judea and Galilee were bestowed by the Emperor of Rome upon those noblemen who ruled over them. The rulers were invested with their power at Rome, and when invested they returned to the countries they were appointed to govern.

Before the nobleman in the parable departed, he entrusted each of his ten servants with a pound. Thus, before the Lord ascended to his Father, he charged all his disciples to serve him faithfully until the day of his return. It was not the apostles alone who received this charge. All who believe in Christ are bound to devote themselves to his service.

The pound represents those various ways of doing good which God has placed within our reach. Though in this parable each servant had the same sum committed to his keeping, yet another parable shows us that all Christians do not enjoy equal opportunities of usefulness - but all enjoy some, and all are required to improve those they possess.

In the days of the apostles believers were endowed with miraculous powers, which they were bound to use in the service of their Lord - as Paul declares, "The manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal." (1 Corinthians 12:7.) In these days, though miraculous powers are no longer possessed, there are many ways in which good may be done.

By gifts, by instruction, by example, and by prayer, Christians may promote the glory of God.

Those who possess property can bestow bread on the hungry, and scatter food for the soul by distributing Bibles and tracts, and by promoting the preaching of the gospel all over the world.

But some who are not able to give much are able to instruct. A word dropped in season, even by a child, has sometimes saved a soul.

Example is still more powerful than instruction. Those who would be offended by advice, are often convinced by a holy life, a meek demeanor, and a forgiving spirit. Therefore the apostle Peter charges those women who have unbelieving husbands, to endeavor to win them by their Christian behavior. (1 Peter 3:1.)

There is another mode of doing good, which, though the most secret of all, is the most effectual - it is prayer. The good that prayer has done will never be known until the last day. Then it will be seen that those who could be useful in scarcely any other way, brought down blessings by their prayers. It is recorded of a poor man, who was for a long season confined to his bed by sickness, that he made it his daily employment to pray that light might enter the various dark villages in his neighborhood. Every one of those villages for which he thus separately prayed, enjoyed, in the course of a few years, the light of the Gospel. It will often be found that conversions are answers to the prayers of some pious relation. Delightful discoveries will hereafter be made concerning our obligations to those who prayed for us.

It may well astonish us to think the Lord will reward the imperfect services of his sinful creatures. Even our prayers are mixed with sin. Every good action has some alloy of evil in the motive, some defect in the performance, and is too often followed by self-complacence in the recollection. The same precious blood which blotted out our sinful deeds, is needed to cleanse our righteous deeds from all their pollutions. Never will the faithful servants of Christ feel more abased in their own eyes than when they hear their Master say, "Well done." Even the angels, who have done the will of God without fault since the creation, count it a privilege to be permitted to serve him. What, then, will those who have served him so imperfectly, feel when they are exalted to posts of honor, and entrusted with authority and power!

Title: The last part of the parable of the ten pounds
Post by: nChrist on August 17, 2008, 06:23:39 PM
Devotional Commentary On The Gospels
by Favell Lee Mortimer ( 1802 - 1878 )

August 17

The last part of the parable of the ten pounds
Luke 19:20-28

This parable contains a most solemn warning to the professed servants of Christ. Not to live to God's glory is a fatal sin. To make no efforts to please our heavenly Master is a sign that we do not love him. Did that servant love him who hid the pound in a napkin? His language, as well as his conduct, proves that he did not. What a character he ascribes to his Lord! He calls him an austere man, one who is rigorous, exacting, and severe. Who could love such a Master! Those who think in this manner of God do not try to please him. They give up the attempt in despair. They say to themselves, "If I were to give away large sums, perhaps I should only waste my money and do no good. If I were to labor from morning to night in teaching and exhorting, perhaps I should only waste my breath; no one might attend to my instructions. If I were to pray without ceasing for the conversion of my fellow-creatures, perhaps God would not grant my prayers."

It is very wicked to entertain such thoughts, for God has given gracious promises of success to those who labor in his service. He has said, "Cast your bread upon the waters, and you shall find it after many days." (Ecclesiastes 11:1.) He has said again, "He who goes forth weeping, bearing precious seed, shall doubtless come again with joy, bringing his sheaves with him." (Psalms 126:6.) He has said again, "Whatever you shall ask in prayer, believing, you shall receive." (Matthew 21:22.)

If, notwithstanding all these promises, we persist in thinking that God might leave us to labor in vain, we make him a liar. Sometimes God does not grant speedy success, but he remembers what each does for his name's sake, and he will acknowledge every effort at the last day. In general he blesses the labors of his servants beyond their highest expectations. Ask aged believers who devoted themselves early to his service, whether they expected, at the beginning of their course, to reap so rich a blessing as they have reaped. The words of the dying Count Zinzendorf are memorable. He said, "I expected to bring but a few heathen to the knowledge of the Lord, and, lo! thousands have believed." Mr. Charles, of Bala, little thought, when he was seeking a method by which to supply Wales with Bibles, that his desire would lead to the formation of a Society which should fill the world with Bibles. The last day will fully show what abundant showers of blessings have attended the labors of the faithful. Some who have scattered innumerable tracts, and who have not known what became of them, will then learn the histories of those silent messengers, to their own unspeakable joy.

But what will be the overwhelming sorrow of those who have done nothing for their Lord! The pound they possessed will be taken away from them. No further opportunities of glorifying God will be granted to them. In hell there is no possibility of serving Him. But in heaven there will be opportunities of glorifying Him through the ages of eternity. The saints will not find their rest less refreshing, because it will be spent in the worship of God, and in labors of love.

The last words of the parable contain an allusion to those enemies whom the Lord was going to encounter at Jerusalem - those enemies who said, "We will not have this man to reign over us." How wonderful was the courage with which the Shepherd led his little flock towards the scene of his own painful death! He went before, ascending up to Jerusalem. How insignificant are all the services which we can perform to please him, when compared with the sufferings he endured to save us!

Title: Christ converses with Martha at Bethany
Post by: nChrist on August 17, 2008, 06:25:17 PM
Devotional Commentary On The Gospels
by Favell Lee Mortimer ( 1802 - 1878 )

August 18

Christ converses with Martha at Bethany
John 11:17-27

How mingled were the feelings with which Martha went to meet her heavenly Friend! Joy she must have felt because he had come at last - grief because he had not come sooner. It appeared to her an unfortunate coincidence that her brother should have been seized with a fatal illness at a time when Jesus was absent. She expressed this feeling as soon as she beheld him, saying, "If you had been here my brother would not have died." But what appeared an unfortunate coincidence was in truth a divine arrangement. The Lord himself viewed these circumstances in a different light, when he said to his disciples, "I am glad for your sakes that I was not there, to the intent you might believe."

But why did Martha say, "If you had been here." Was not Jesus always there and everywhere? Yes; but she knew it not. She needed not have sent a messenger to inform him of her brother's illness - a prayer would have reached him from the furthest end of the world. He witnessed the expiring agonies of Lazarus, and told his disciples when he fell asleep. There is not one of his numerous family that has occasion to say with a sigh, "If you had been here." When those we love droop and die, it is not because Jesus is not near, but because he designs to bring us nearer to himself by separating us from the creature.

It was natural that Martha should have hoped for the restoration of her brother, when she had heard of so many being restored to health who were not reckoned among the friends of Jesus. It seemed hard to her that one he so tenderly loved should not participate in those benefits. Some faint hope was lingering in her heart when she said, "But I know that even now whatever you will ask of God, God will give it you." Though she does not appear to have understood fully the power of Jesus, yet she understood one important truth that he continually taught to his disciples. It was this - that the Father loved his Son, and granted all his petitions. The Son of God is the channel of the Father's mercy. Whatever we desire we must ask in his name, for we can only receive it through Him.

The Lord's reply was suited to fill Martha's heart with joy, "Your brother shall rise again." Had Jesus added the words "THIS day," the sorrowing sister would indeed have rejoiced - but she was unsatisfied with the distant prospect of the resurrection at the last day. She wanted her brother's company to cheer her while she lived; and she was not willing to wait until all the just should rise to enjoy eternal life. The gentle Savior did not rebuke the human weakness betrayed in the hour of sorrow. But he made use of this opportunity to instruct her concerning spiritual truths. Had she in former days, like Mary, sat at his feet, perhaps she would have been more familiar with divine doctrines.

How many hearts have thrilled, in hearing these words uttered when the beloved form of a child or a parent, a brother or a sister, has been carried to the grave! "I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live, and whoever lives and believes in me shall never die."

The Savior taught by these declarations, that none really live, except those who believe in him; and that none really die, except those who do not believe. To breathe - to move - to feel pain or pleasure, - that is not to live - to know God - to love him - to be like him, - that is to live indeed. To lie for a time in the tomb while the spirit rests above - that is not to die; to be cast into the lake of fire - that is to die. Do WE believe this? Then are we happy indeed, if we can say with Martha, "I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, which should come into the world." If we really believe this, we live now the only happy life that can be enjoyed on earth; if we really believe this we shall never die, but only fall asleep in Jesus.

Many on their dying beds, when they have been asked whether Jesus was precious, have replied, "Never so precious as now." But it is not only on our own dying-beds that we may hope to feel him precious. When we see the eyes we loved closed in death, then we feel that we owe all the peace we shall henceforth enjoy to Him in whom the dear departed sleeps securely; then we feel, "Were it not for Jesus, I should have no hopes of seeing my friend, my child again; nor any assurance that he is happy while absent from me. But now, when I lie down, I think his spirit needs no rest; and when I rise up, I think, while I have been resting, his spirit has been uniting with the angels - 

Who all night long unwearied sing
The praises of their heavenly king."

Title: Christ goes to the tomb of Lazarus
Post by: nChrist on August 17, 2008, 06:27:06 PM
Devotional Commentary On The Gospels
by Favell Lee Mortimer ( 1802 - 1878 )

August 19

Christ goes to the tomb of Lazarus
John 11:28-36

No other words could have conveyed such joy to Mary's heart as those that Martha whispered in her ear, "The Master has come, he calls for you." Yet her joy was mingled with bitter regrets that she had not heard the welcome tidings before Lazarus died.

Martha called her sister secretly. Perhaps she did not wish that the Jews who sat around should accompany them to meet their Lord, for many of those Jews did not believe in him. The presence of unbelievers is felt to be a painful constraint by those who desire to open their hearts to Jesus. It will be one of the delights of heaven to feel that everything there sympathizes in all the communications that take place between the saints and their Savior.

But these Jews appear to have been much interested in Mary's grief; and when they saw her arise they followed her, thinking she was going to weep at her brother's grave. They little imagined how wonderful a scene they would soon behold. They must have been astonished to see Jesus waiting on the road. Mary then fell down at his feet, and uttered the very same words that Martha had used before, "If you had been here my brother had not died." This was all that Mary could express. It appears that her grief was more overwhelming than her sister's. We do not hear that Martha fell down at the Redeemer's feet; nor that she wept as Mary did. Some spirits are more bowed down by grief than others. The Lord knows the frame of each of his creatures, and what each is able to bear. We are apt to pass harsh judgments upon one another; sometimes calling those unfeeling who sustain sorrow with composure, and looking upon others as rebellious against God who faint beneath its weight. But the Lord deals gently with the sorrowful - instead of reproving Mary's tears, he shed tears also.

Next to the history of his shedding his blood, this is the most touching, which tells us of his shedding tears. These tears were the tokens of deep trouble within. Before he shed them, it is said that "he groaned in spirit, and was troubled." Though he knew that Mary's grief would soon be assuaged, he felt for her actual sorrow; and not for hers only, but for the sorrow of the unbelieving Jews that accompanied her. There is nothing that so much solaces a mourner as to feel that he does not mourn alone. There is not one who has heard how Jesus shed these tears who ought to think he mourns alone. Even if he does not love the Savior, yet that Savior feels for him, because he is the work of his own hands.

But it was not sympathy alone that he bestowed upon the weeping train; he hastened to remove the cause of their sorrow, saying, "Where have you laid him?" Even we (selfish as we are) have experienced the sweetness of giving pleasure, especially to those we love. But who can conceive the delight the Redeemer felt whenever he caused his children to rejoice! This was the bright color in his sorrowful life; he created more joy than any being has ever done that has dwelt upon earth. How his gracious heart must have glowed with the anticipation of the approaching scene, as he advanced towards the tomb of Lazarus! And now, as years roll on, our Redeemer sees the day approaching which is to be the happiest that ever yet has dawned upon this world. It was a happy day when the foundation of the world was laid, for then the morning stars sang together for joy. It was a happy day when Adam and Eve first beheld this fair creation, and sang their earliest anthem to its great Creator. It was a happy night when the shepherds heard the angels announce the birth of the Babe of Bethlehem. It was a happy morn when the women who visited the sepulcher heard angels say, "The Lord is risen." But no day nor night has yet been seen as happy as that last day will be, when the ransomed of the Lord shall return, and come to Zion with songs, and everlasting joy upon their heads. Of all the happy multitude then assembled, not one will feel so vast a tide of happiness springing up in his soul as the Redeemer himself - as He, who will be the fountain of all the joy flowing in every bosom. Then he will behold the travail of his soul, and be satisfied - satisfied that he left his throne of glory; satisfied that he trod this sorrowful earth; satisfied that he bled upon the cross; satisfied that he loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood.

Title: The resurrection of Lazarus
Post by: nChrist on August 17, 2008, 06:29:04 PM
Devotional Commentary On The Gospels
by Favell Lee Mortimer ( 1802 - 1878 )

August 20

The resurrection of Lazarus
John 11:37-44

When Jesus was on earth how little was his conduct understood by men! Those Jews who, seeing his tears, said, "Behold how he loved him!" were mistaken in supposing that it was grief for Lazarus that caused them to flow; but those were more mistaken who harbored suspicions of his faithfulness. Some ventured to hint that he might have prevented the death of Lazarus. "Could not this man, which opened the eyes of the blind, have caused that even this man should not have died?" It is not surprising that unbelievers should entertain such thoughts. But how is it that believers, in time of trouble, ever indulge the same? When they are overtaken by calamities, they are often tempted to inquire, "Why did God permit these afflictions? Surely He could have preserved me from this evil. What have I done to offend him that He has exposed me to such sharp trials?" But all the while that these thoughts are going on in the mind, the Lord is pursuing his own gracious purposes. Perhaps deliverance is near at hand; if not deliverance from the temporal evil, yet deliverance from still greater evil.

Unbelief is the great obstacle in the way of the Lord's gracious designs. When he gave the command, "Take away the stone," unbelief interfered. Martha had once said, "I know that even now, whatever you will ask of God, God will give it to you." Yet now she hesitates to consent to the removal of the stone. How gently the Lord expostulates with her! "Did I not say to you, that if you would believe, you should see the glory of God?" He warns her against shutting herself out of the blessedness he was preparing for her. The Lord loves to show us his glory in delivering; but he cannot do it if we will not confide in him. Martha listened to her Lord's admonition. She consented to the removal of the stone.

What a moment that was when Jesus, with uplifted eyes, stood before the open tomb! All was still within the cave, for death was there - and surely all was still without, while the Son of God prayed to his Father in heaven. The first sentence bespoke his faith. "Father, I thank you that you have heard me." The next showed his confidence in his Father's love - "I knew that you hear me always." The last displayed his own love to sinful men - "Because of the people which stand by I said it, that they may believe that you have sent me." He knew their unbelief. He knew that some accused him of doing miracles through Satan's power, and he desired to convince them that He and the Father were One. Who can conceive the breathless expectation that filled every heart when he uttered the words, "Lazarus, come forth?" Had that voice not been obeyed, it would have been a little thing that the sisters had never again beheld their brother - the hopes of all the dead - the hopes of all the living, - the hopes of generations yet unborn, were suspended on the event of that moment. Had no movement been heard in that house of death, then all the dead would have slept forever. But now we know that all that are in the graves shall hear his voice, and shall come forth - those who have done good unto the resurrection of life. They shall come forth as Lazarus did - not like him to die again, but to live for evermore. They shall come forth, not bound in grave-clothes, but arrayed in white robes - not with covered faces, but with countenances shining like the sun in his strength. John has not described the meeting of Lazarus with his sisters and with his Lord; it is left for us to conceive the rapturous greetings, and it is possible for us to conceive the joy of that loving family; but it is impossible for us to form any idea of the meeting of the saints above, with each other and with their Lord. Lazarus found his sisters the same as he had left them, and they found him the same mortal creature as before. But hereafter every saint will regard his companion with delighted astonishment.

Though no resemblance we can trace,
We may believe we see
The dear companion of our race,
From sin and death set free.
We may believe that shining head,
Adorned with rainbow wreath,
The same that sank upon the bed
Damp with the dews of death.
Those lips that smiles seraphic wear,
Were once with pain compressed;
That face than summer sea more fair,
Was once with care distressed;
Those eyes that now with glory beam,
We often have seen to weep;
That form we now an angel's deem,
In dust we saw it sleep.
Too little thought I of this hour,
When weeping o'er your grave,
I saw you crushed by death's dread power,
And no arm near to save.
But then your flesh was purified
From every earthly taint,
That here with Christ you might'st abide,
And shine a glorious saint.

Title: Caiaphas proposes that Jesus should be slain
Post by: nChrist on August 22, 2008, 11:01:52 PM
Devotional Commentary On The Gospels
by Favell Lee Mortimer ( 1802 - 1878 )

August 21

Caiaphas proposes that Jesus should be slain
John 11:45-52

Some of our Savior's prayers have not yet been fulfilled; but the prayer he offered up at the tomb of Lazarus was granted immediately. He prayed not only that he might raise Lazarus, but also that the miracle might cause the people to believe that his Father had sent him. Here is the answer to the petition - "And many of the Jews which came to Mary, and had seen the things which Jesus did, believed in him." In the end, all the intercessions of the Son of God shall receive their accomplishment.

But some of the Jews went their ways to the Pharisees and told them what things Jesus had done. What an instance their conduct affords of the hardness of the human heart, when not softened by divine grace! It will not believe, even when one is raised from the dead. Perhaps these unbelieving Jews shed the tear of sympathy in the house of Mary - for there are many who are tenderly attached to their friends, who are full of enmity against the Son of God.

The Pharisees eagerly listened to the reports of these malicious informers, and convened a council to consider the subject.

It was in this assembly, that the most dreadful crime was suggested that man has ever perpetrated - the murder of the Son of God. It was suggested by the person who filled the most holy office in the world. The High Priest reproached the Pharisees for their perplexity, saying, "You know nothing at all; nor consider that it is expedient for us that one man should die for the people, and that the whole nation perish not."

See how he veils the wickedness of his scheme by a specious pretext. He dares not say, "Let us shed innocent blood; let us rid ourselves of the object of our envy; let us falsely accuse him, and put him to death unjustly." Satan teaches men to hide their wickedness from their own eyes, lest its deformity should cause them to start back with horror. But God sees men's actions as they really are; their secret sins are set in the light of his countenance. It would astonish us to know by what gentle names wicked men have called their blackest actions. Let us watch lest Satan get an advantage over us, and impose some sin upon us by giving it the name of a virtue.

But though the high priest spoke hypocritically when he proposed that one man should die for the people, he also spoke prophetically. His words were lying words in the sense he used them; but they were true in another sense, which he knew not of. While his heart was under the power of Satan, his tongue was under the direction of God - "He spoke not of himself." As the Lord put words into the mouth of Balaam, so also did he put them in the mouth of Caiaphas, though it was Satan who put feelings into his heart. Yet his words only expressed a small part of the truth, for Jesus died not for that people only, but he died that he might gather into one all the children of God scattered abroad.

It is the desire of all his children to be with their Father, and it is the desire of their Father to have all his children with him. Sin, like an oppressive tyrant, has scattered his family abroad. Death divides them from each other, and even divides their souls from their bodies. But the death of Christ has taken away the guilt of sin, and has destroyed the power of death. At the sound of the last trumpet, the bodies that lay mouldering in the tombs, or forgotten in the depths of the sea, shall be glorified and united to the happy spirits of the just. Those who were born in different ages of the world, or who were separated by vast oceans, shall behold each other for the first time in their Father's everlasting home. And all these blessings shall flow from the dreadful crime suggested by the high priest. Well may the plan of redemption be called, "The mystery of His will." (Ephesians 1:9.) It is a mystery that the will of God should be accomplished by the wickedness of man; that the purpose formed in heaven should be executed by hell. But herein the wisdom of God is displayed. The author of sin, even Satan, is compelled to lend his hand in destroying his own works, and his own kingdom. He knew not that the blood of the cross would make peace, and would reconcile all things to God, whether they be things in earth or things in heaven; he knew not that even his own servants, when sprinkled with that blood, would revolt and become the servants of God. (Colossians 1.) Had he known it, he would not have suggested to Caiaphas the guilty expedient of causing one man to die for the people.

Title: Christ retires to Ephraim
Post by: nChrist on August 22, 2008, 11:03:29 PM
Devotional Commentary On The Gospels
by Favell Lee Mortimer ( 1802 - 1878 )

August 22

Christ retires to Ephraim
John 11:53-57

The wicked suggestion of Caiaphas was immediately acted upon. The Pharisees took council together to put Jesus to death. Acceptable advice is soon followed. How great is the guilt of the man who suggests a wicked scheme! All the dark deeds that have ever been committed, were suggested by some man. A word may be the beginning of a train of horrors, from the view of which the soul recoils. What woes to the Jewish people flowed from the crime that Caiaphas proposed!

The Lord (who knew all things) knew of the consultation which his enemies had held, and of the scheme which they had formed; and as his hour was not yet quite come, he retired for a short time to a small town called Ephraim. It was so small a place that its name is scarcely mentioned by any writer; but it is supposed that it was situated in a valley full of corn, about eight miles from Jerusalem. Here the disciples enjoyed another season of confidential communion with their Lord, such as they had once tasted on the banks of Jordan. How doubly precious would this opportunity have seemed to them, had they believed they must so soon part with their Divine Teacher! It is seldom that we know when we are enjoying, for the last time, the society of a beloved friend. With what feelings a child remembers the last prayer a parent offered up in the presence of his family, while, perhaps, neither the parent nor the child knew it was the last!

While the Lord was hidden in his retreat, the Jews were assembling to keep the Passover at Jerusalem. To judge from the numbers that flocked there, one would have supposed that they were a very religious people. They came from distant parts of the country, and they arrived at an early period, in order to go through various purification and washings commanded in the law; but they did not, like David, wash their hands in innocency, before they approached the altar of their God. (Psalms 26:6.) There may be a full attendance at the house of God, and even at the Lord's supper, while there are but few spiritual worshipers. Such religious acts obtain for those who perform them a name to live among men; but they may be performed while the heart is dead before God. Never were the Jews in a more dangerous state than when, having ceased to worship engraved images, they observed with strictness the ceremonies of the law.

The people who stood in the temple, inquiring whether Jesus was come, and wondering whether he would come at all, little knew what deed they would perpetrate before they left the holy city. Now they were full of enthusiasm for the Prophet of Nazareth; now they extolled him as the greatest that had ever appeared; now they were ready to receive him with hosannas, and to proclaim him king; but they had no true faith and love rooted in their hearts. The Lord would not trust himself in their hands, and therefore hid himself until his appointed time was come.

There is a kind of faith which will not stand the day of trial! there is a kind of love which is put out by the breath of slander. Some imagine that they are godly, because they delight in listening to an eloquent preacher. Let us remember how anxious the Jewish people were that Jesus should come to the feast, and how they treated him during that feast. Do we know Him as our Savior from sin? Do we feel that He loved us, and gave himself for us? Then we shall never cease to love him. Though the disciples sinfully forsook him in the hour of danger; yet nothing quenched their love; for it was founded not on admiration of his power, but on gratitude for his mercy.

Title: Mary anoints the Lord Jesus
Post by: nChrist on August 22, 2008, 11:05:02 PM
Devotional Commentary On The Gospels
by Favell Lee Mortimer ( 1802 - 1878 )

August 23

Mary anoints the Lord Jesus
John 12:1-8

We have now reached the last week of our Savior's life. On the Saturday evening the Jewish Sabbath was over, and the new week began - the most eventful week that had been known since the beginning of the world - the most suffering week that the Son of man passed upon earth - and the most sorrowful week that his Church has ever seen. But though it was to be full of suffering and of sorrow, it opened with a scene of peace and love; for Simon the Leper made a supper for the Lord at his house. If we observe the dealings of God, we shall find that a cordial is often granted to us before a trial is sent, and that we are permitted to enjoy some unwonted refreshment before we are called upon to drink a cup of unusual bitterness.

How must the gracious Savior have delighted in the scene he now beheld at Bethany! The tears that had touched his heart were now dried; the sisters saw their brother, who was so lately sleeping in his tomb, seated at table with their Lord. Martha testified her love and joy by waiting on the blessed company. It is probable that she superintended the arrangement of the supper, and gave directions to the servants. We know that such an office was suited to her active disposition. Mary, who seems to have been of a more thoughtful, and sensitive, and retiring character, found another way of expressing her love and joy. She brought an alabaster box full of very precious ointment, and poured it on the feet of Jesus. It seems as if she came behind him as he reclined upon his couch at supper, and sought to perform the loving office in secret. But she could not be hid, for the house was filled with the odor of the ointment. Its exquisite fragrance attracted attention, and led the guests to discover who had poured it forth. Should we not have conceived that in such a company the love that Mary had shown would receive the highest praise? But Matthew records, that not only Judas, but the other disciples said, "Why was this waste of the ointment made?" How could they thus insult their Lord? Was there anything too precious to be dedicated to the Son of God? Did the wise men who came from the East think so, when they laid gold, and frankincense, and myrrh, at the infant Savior's feet?

We know the motive that led Judas to make the unfeeling inquiry - it was covetousness. He was disappointed to think that so rich a treasure as this alabaster box should have been kept back from his dishonest hands. But why did the other disciples unite in his complaint? It might be that some secret envy of Mary's surpassing attachment to their Lord, may have prompted their censure. But if for one moment the gentle and diffident Mary felt cast down by their disapprobation, she must soon have been consoled by hearing her Master's defense of her conduct. High, indeed, was the commendation he bestowed on her - "She has done what she could!" These words imply, that as she could bestow a precious gift, she would not be content with presenting an mean one. Had Mary been poor, she could not have anointed his feet as she did. She could do much, and she did much. She anointed her Lord with a costly perfume, that was worth nearly ten pounds of our money. May it not be more often said of the poor than of the rich, "They have done what they could?" Too often the rich give no more to the service of Christ than the crumbs that fall from their table.

Though the disciples blamed this act of love, yet Jesus declared that in distant countries, and in future ages it would be commended. For he said,'" Wherever this gospel shall be preached throughout the whole world, this, also, that she has done shall be spoken of for a memorial of her." (Mark 14:9.) Mary had not sought for human praise; but even that was to be awarded her. Who has ever read the account of Mary's offering, and has not inwardly approved it? Where is the believer who has not wished that he enjoyed the same opportunity that Mary did, of showing his love to the Lord?

When once a poor sinful woman washed the feet of Jesus with her penitent tears, a Pharisee reproached the Lord for permitting one so wicked to touch him, and thus tacitly accused the weeping sinner of presumption. But did the Lord deem her presumptuous? Mary, who bore an honorable character, was not accused of presumption, but of extravagance. But did the Lord deem her act of love extravagant? Does the church of God now accuse either of these devoted women of presumption or of extravagance? Let us judge nothing before the time. If actions of such devoted love were blamed in former days, similar acts may be blamed now. Even true Christians are apt to censure those who go beyond themselves in zeal, in feeling, and in self-denial; but the Lord will never think we can love him, adore him, or honor him too much.

Title: Christ is honored and hated the more on account of Lazarus
Post by: nChrist on August 22, 2008, 11:06:32 PM
Devotional Commentary On The Gospels
by Favell Lee Mortimer ( 1802 - 1878 )

August 24

Christ is honored and hated the more on account of Lazarus
John 12:9-19

It was on the Saturday evening that the Lord Jesus supped at Bethany, and was anointed by Mary. The next day was not the Jewish Sabbath. That Sabbath began at six o'clock on Friday evening, and concluded at six o'clock on Saturday evening. It was on Sunday, the first day of the week, that the Lord entered Jerusalem, riding upon a donkey's colt, and accompanied by the joyful multitude. On the first day of the next week he rose from the dead. Between these two joyful days there was a dark interval - a week of unexampled sorrow and suffering.

The acclamations of the multitude on the day the Savior entered Jerusalem, increased the envy of the Pharisees. They said to each other with alarm, "Behold, the world has gone after him." They could not deny that he had raised Lazarus from the tomb; therefore they were determined to blast his growing reputation by violence. They desired not only to put him to death, but Lazarus also - because he was a living monument of his power. But had they accomplished their design, how easy it would have been for the Prince of Life to call him a second time out of his grave!

The sisters little knew, when they applied to Jesus for help in their hour of sorrow, that their brother's resurrection would lead to their Savior's death. They little thought, when they saw that brother seated at the supper at Bethany, that on that day week, his deliverer from the grave would be sleeping in his own! But in the end, they had reason to rejoice, for the death of their Lord was the forerunner of the most joyful event that has happened since the beginning of the world - his resurrection.

Nor was it Lazarus alone that provoked the enmity of the wicked. Mary, by her act of love, was the occasion of stirring up Judas to commit an act of treachery. He was so indignant at the disappointment he sustained, and at the rebuke he received, that he offered, four days afterwards, to betray the Lord into the hands of his enemies. Truly did Mary anoint the Lord for his burial. It was his only anointing, for he was hastily buried, and the ointment that the women prepared was too late. Thus we perceive that the family of Bethany unconsciously roused the indignation of the two chief instruments of the death of their Lord. The service Mary rendered led Judas to propose his betrayal; and the benefit Lazarus received led Caiaphas to suggest his murder.

Such was the mysterious arrangement of God. He who brings real good out of seeming evil - brings seeming evil out of real good. Good deeds are often followed by consequences that appear evil. But the servants of God have no reason to despair, when their attempts to honor their Master increase the malice of his foes. Though Satan may succeed in casting some into prison, or in causing others to be slain, he can never succeed in casting one believing soul into his own prison - the bottomless pit - or in causing him to be hurt by his own death - the second death.

We may conceive what grief Mary would have felt had she known that Judas was incited by her act of love to betray his Lord; yet, when she saw that Lord risen from the dead, would she have grieved then? No doubt it has often happened that the piety of new converts has awakened enmity against their minister, and has even led to his execution. Those converts must have felt acute anguish when they saw their beloved teacher consuming in the flames; but their anguish would be turned into joy could they see him standing before the throne clothed in a white robe, with a palm branch in his hand; or on the sea of glass, with the harp of God; or with the Lamb on Mount Zion singing the new song.

Title: Christ approaches Jerusalem, riding on a donkey
Post by: nChrist on August 22, 2008, 11:08:07 PM
Devotional Commentary On The Gospels
by Favell Lee Mortimer ( 1802 - 1878 )

August 25

Christ approaches Jerusalem, riding on a donkey
Matthew 21:1-9

Had every scene in our Savior's life been like this, it would not have been written, "He came to his own, and his own received him not." But this day of triumph was in reality only a preparation for the day of slaughter. The Lord of glory chose that for once his name should be publicly exalted in his own city of Jerusalem. As his hour was now come, he no longer hid himself from his enemies, or restrained the grateful praises of his disciples. At the beginning of his ministry he did his mighty works in secret, and desired his disciples to tell no man that he was the Christ. But at the close of his ministry, he made a triumphant entry into Jerusalem, as the King whom God had chosen to reign over that city. Yet the manner of his entry was unlike that of kings. He rode, not in a chariot drawn by horses, but on a donkey - even on a colt, the foal of a donkey.

We know that his principal reason for this act was that he might fulfill the prophecy of Zechariah, and give all who beheld him an opportunity of knowing, by another sign, that he was the Messiah of whom the prophets spoke. Yet, even his own disciples did not observe, at the time, the fulfillment of the prophecy. But was there no other reason why it was appointed that the Lord of all should enter his own city in so humble a manner? Did not the manner of his entry show that he was not a war-like monarch, but the Prince of Peace - not a proud monarch, but the meek Savior, not a rich monarch, but one who had become poor - so poor that he borrowed the donkey on which he rode. Yet his divine wisdom and power might be discerned through the veil of humility in which he was clothed. No king, however wise, could have foretold those minute circumstances concerning the finding of the donkey, which Jesus described. No king, however powerful, could have made an unbroken colt obedient to his word.

He was the glorious Son of Man, spoken of in the eighth psalm, of whom it is said - "You made him to have dominion over the works of your hands; you have put all things in subjection under his feet, - all sheep and oxen - yes, and the beasts of the field, the fowl of the air, and the fish of the sea." As God gave all the creatures to the first Adam, so also he gave them to the second Adam, of whom the first was only a type. The beasts who were obedient to the first Adam in the garden of Eden, did not resist the power of the second Adam. Man rebelled against his authority, but the donkey's foal acknowledged it.

How wonderful was the condescension of the King of Israel in entering his own city in so humble a manner! The purple and scarlet of earthly monarchs, the prancing horses and splendid chariots may dazzle the eye, but the majesty and meekness of the Son of God impress the heart with admiration. He knew that he should be soon exalted to his Father's right hand, yet he condescended to ride upon a donkey. He knew that white-robed elders would soon cast their crowns at his feet, yet when the multitude spread garments and strewed branches in the way, he accepted these meaner honors.

Ought we not to approach with confidence so meek and gentle a Savior? If, in the days of his flesh, he was pleased with every feeble attempt to show him homage, ought we not to believe that he will be pleased with our humble efforts? We cannot testify our feelings by spreading garments or strewing branches in the way. If we would honor him, we must bow our hearts and bend our wills to his royal scepter. When he comes again in power and glory, he will remember us. For this is his promise to his faithful servants - "The Lord their God shall save them in that day, as the flock of his people." (Zechariah 9:16.)

Title: The chorus of praise on Mount Olivet
Post by: nChrist on August 27, 2008, 09:55:29 PM
Devotional Commentary On The Gospels
by Favell Lee Mortimer ( 1802 - 1878 )

August 26

The chorus of praise on Mount Olivet
Luke 19:37-40

The burst of joy that was heard on Mount Olivet, affords a faint picture of the raptures of heaven. On Mount Olivet the whole multitude began to praise God with a loud voice, for all the mighty works that they had seen. In heaven an innumerable multitude shall praise Him with a louder voice, for a still mightier work than had ever been seen in Israel.

But even a saint on earth sometimes feels overwhelmed when he reflects upon all the glorious deliverances and unmerited mercies he has received. There are moments, especially towards the close of his pilgrimage, when he sees at one glance the mysterious train of events by which his life has been marked, and when he cannot forbear exclaiming, in the words of David, "How excellent is your loving-kindness, O God! therefore the children of men put their trust under the shadow of your wings."

There were few among that vast multitude on Olivet who had these warm feelings of grateful love; for the greater part, before the week expired, joined in the cry, "Crucify him, crucify him," But there were a few who praised the Lord with their whole hearts. Was there not among the crowd blind Bartimaeus, who had followed him on the way? Did not the beggar, born blind, go forth to meet him? He had been cast out of the synagogue for his sake, and when he had heard he was the Son of God, he had replied, "Lord, I believe." Was not that courageous and grateful man among those who most heartily praised his name? Was not Lazarus there, who had been raised from the dead? Was not Mary there, who, the evening before, had anointed her Lord with fragrant spikenard? Were not Salome and Joanna there, and Mary Magdalene, and all the faithful little band who had followed him out of Galilee? Was his blessed mother there? Did she behold Him whom, when a babe, she had laid in a manger, acknowledged as the King of Israel?

These inquiries we cannot answer; we know the names of none who composed that joyful company, excepting those of the apostles. But this we know - there were some present who hated to hear the praises of the Son of God. These Pharisees said, "Master, rebuke your disciples." Had they heard the songs that once delighted the shepherds at Bethlehem, they would have desired to stop the angelic chorus. But the Savior would not check the overflowing feelings of the multitude, but replied, "I tell you that if these should hold their peace, the stones would immediately cry out." Were not the Pharisees more senseless than stones, for they had seen the most glorious miracles, and yet refused to honor Him who had wrought them? How unfit were they to enter heaven, where no tongue is mute in the Savior's praise! All are unfit for that blessed place who delight not in magnifying the Lord Jesus Christ.

Are there not many who have experienced his goodness from their earliest infancy, and who yet praise him not, thank him not? Are there not many who have heard of his dying love, who "hold their peace" on this glorious subject, and neither thank him in public nor in private? Are there not lips that have never, with warmth and sincerity, blessed the holy name of Christ the Savior? Are any of us among the number of those silent, ungrateful, and guilty creatures, who never thank their Lord, their Redeemer? While angels rest not day nor night in worshiping the Lord, shall a sinner for whom Christ died, refuse to utter one note of heartfelt praise?

Title: Christ weeps over Jerusalem
Post by: nChrist on August 27, 2008, 09:57:02 PM
Devotional Commentary On The Gospels
by Favell Lee Mortimer ( 1802 - 1878 )

August 27

Christ weeps over Jerusalem
Luke 19:41-44

The world in which we live has been often called a "valley of tears." Each of us has shed tears, and will shed them again. But what are the circumstances which draw forth our tears? Do we not often weep for some trifling cause, some selfish reason, some sinful feeling? There are the tears of mortified pride, the tears of discontent, the tears of rebellion. All these are sinful tears. There are the tears of disappointment, of anxiety, of pain, and of grief. These are natural tears. There are the tears of sympathy. Jesus shed those when accompanying the mourners to the tomb of Lazarus. There are the tears of penitence - these the Savior could not shed, for he was not a sinner; but he delights in these tears, and with them he once permitted a weeping penitent to wash his blessed feet.

But the tears that he shed over Jerusalem were the tears of generous love - love for his enemies. Have we ever shed such tears? There are Christians who have so imbibed the Spirit of their Master, that they retire to pray, and even to weep for those who hate and revile them, and who will not pray, nor weep for themselves. But all true Christians have not attained to this height of divine compassion.

How strange it must have appeared to those who were singing his praises, and adorning his path with green and flowery branches, to see the Redeemer stop and gaze and weep! In the midst of their joyful hosannas, the sorrowful tones of his voice were heard, saying, "If you had known, even you, at least in this your day, the things which belong unto your peace!" Thus he spoke to the daughter of Zion, (for cities are often compared to women in Scripture, and the inhabitants are called their children.) Truly we may say, "Behold how he loved her!" He did not weep because he saw, from the top of Olivet, the place of his own sufferings; because he saw at its foot Gethsemane, that doleful garden where the first drops of his blood would fall; nor because he saw beyond the city, Calvary, that dismal spot, where the last drops would flow at the touch of the soldier's spear. He wept because he foresaw the calamities that would overtake his murderers. Though now the city sat majestically upon her seven hills, yet soon he knew she would lie prostrate in the dust. How grand and beautiful she appeared when viewed from the heights of Mount Olivet! Her lofty rocks, her massive towers, and, above all, the glittering dome of her snow-white temple, generally excited admiration; but now they called forth lamentation. It was in these defenses she trusted, instead of in the living God. But neither her rocks nor her towers, nor even her holy temple, could save her when the Romans came and besieged the city. Her God had departed from her. Then her walls were thrown down, her temple burnt, and more than one million of her inhabitants destroyed by famine and pestilence, by fire and sword.

At this moment the Savior knows the fate of every city upon earth. He knows what will befall London, and Paris, and Rome. Every city that, like Jerusalem, trusts in her own strength, and refuses to obey Christ, must fall, as she has done. Those who love their native land ought to use every effort to spread the Gospel among their countrymen.

But Christ not only knows the fate of every city; he knows also the fate of every individual in every city, and village, and hamlet. Sometimes, perhaps, when we see a person in the enjoyment of riches, and health, and honor - surrounded by smiling children, and admiring friends - we are ready to cry, "If I were in your place, I should be happy." But is this person forgetful of his Savior? Then it may be that Christ is saying to him, "If you had known, even you, at least in this your day, the things which belong to your peace." We behold the present scene, but Jesus beholds the future also. He sees - not only the table amply spread, but the dying bed that will succeed; he hears - not only the voice of merriment that now prevails, but the faint groan that will close the scene. Can he count those happy, whose misery is every hour drawing nearer? Surely the compassionate Savior feels for all who soon will exclaim, in another world, "If I had known, even I in that my day, the things which belonged unto my peace, but now - they are hidden from my eyes!"

Title: Christ casts the buyers and sellers out of the temple
Post by: nChrist on August 27, 2008, 09:58:58 PM
Devotional Commentary On The Gospels
by Favell Lee Mortimer ( 1802 - 1878 )

August 28

Christ casts the buyers and sellers out of the temple

Matthew 21:10-13

When the Son of God entered Jerusalem, where should he go but to his Father's house? He went to the temple. In what a state did he find that sacred place! It shone bright in earthly splendor - it was undefiled by images of wood or stone - it was frequented by crowds of worshipers; but yet it was a den of thieves. In its outermost court, called the court of the Gentiles, there were men engaged in buying and selling beasts and birds for sacrifices, and others in changing money, brought from distant places, into the coin of the country, and in supplying half-shekels for the yearly tribute. This court had been assigned by God to the Gentiles, that all nations might worship him; according to the words of the prophet Isaiah, "My house shall be called a house of prayer for all people." (Isaiah 6:7.)

The priests alone were admitted into the temple itself; Jews only into the court that enclosed it; women of the Jewish nation were permitted to enter the next court; and Gentiles into the outermost - that is, those Gentiles who worshiped the God of Israel. No such distinctions now exist; for in Christ Jesus there is neither Jew nor Greek, bond nor free, male nor female, but all are one in him. (Galatians 3:28.) Christ by his death has broken down the middle wall of partition that separated Jew from Gentile, and has made both one. (Ephesians 2:14.)

But it was not the animals that defiled the court of the Gentiles so much as the men who sold and bought them, for they were thieves. It is probable that they considered themselves honest men, for it does not appear that they committed those kinds of robberies which are considered disgraceful; but they were thieves in God's sight, for all who make unfair gains, and tell falsehoods when they buy or sell, are counted thieves by him. Such actions were especially offensive to Jesus when committed in his Father's house. To see that holy place converted into a den in which iniquity was committed with impunity, vexed his holy mind. At the beginning of his ministry, three years before, he had driven out the offenders with a scourge of small cords, and now at its close he cleansed the sanctuary a second time.

Though so meek towards those who reviled him, he was ardent in his opposition to wickedness. He is the Judge of all, as well as the Savior of all; and when he comes again he will manifest his hatred against sin. If in the days of his flesh the wicked fled before him, whenever he exerted his divine power, how much more will they tremble when he comes in his glory with all his holy angels! Who will be able to resist when he shall send them forth to gather out of his kingdom all things that offend, and them that do iniquity, and cast them into a furnace of fire!

It is supposed that the buyers and sellers in the temple returned to their wicked practices after the panic was over; but those who are cast out of the heavenly kingdom will never more return to pollute the service of God. Though the gates of the celestial city shall never be shut, yet there shall in no wise enter anything that defiles, neither whatever works abomination, or makes a lie; but they which are written in the Lamb's book of life. (Revelation 21:27.)

Title: Children praise Jesus in the temple
Post by: nChrist on August 27, 2008, 10:00:35 PM
Devotional Commentary On The Gospels
by Favell Lee Mortimer ( 1802 - 1878 )

August 29

Children praise Jesus in the temple

Matthew 21:4-16

When Christ came into his temple, he cast out some, but he received others. The buyers and sellers he cast out; the blind and the lame he received. It must have been an affecting sight to see those helpless creatures hastening from all quarters to meet their benefactor. They did well to come then, for those hands whose touch was health, would soon be stretched upon the cross.

Blindness is a calamity very common at the present day in Jerusalem, and some who love the Jews endeavor, by medical are, to heal their benighted brethren. But there is no Son of God now, whose touch will unveil the eyes. Even in this country it is calculated that two in every thousand are blind; and, therefore, that London and its suburbs contain two thousand blind people. Christians have had pity upon them, and have instituted one society for visiting them, reading to them, and leading them to God's house; and another for teaching them to read and write, and labor for their own living - and both of these societies seek to save their immortal souls.

How interesting it must have been to see the blind and the lame enter the temple! Here perhaps was a blind old man led by the hand of a little grandchild, and there a father who could not walk, borne in the arms of affectionate sons and daughters, whom he had once borne in his.

We know that there were children in the temple when the Lord healed these afflicted creatures. Some of these children may have been leaders of the blind, or even supporters of the lame. This at least we know, they were children who loved Jesus, for when they sang his praise, he was pleased. Once He blessed children, and now they blessed him. Those that were brought to him on a former occasion, seem to have been very little ones, perhaps unable to speak, but those who sang in the temple were old enough both to speak and to understand. Their artless songs irritated the priests exceedingly. No doubt they had been exasperated by the casting out of the buyers and sellers. But they were too much afraid of offending the people to oppose the Lord openly. They did not even venture to command the children to be silent, but appealed to Jesus and said, "Do you hear what these say?" And what had the children said? They had called him "the Son of David." As the Son of David he had a right to the throne of David. The little children acknowledged Him to be their King. No doubt many children were wicked in those days as well as in our own, but we never hear of any who spoke against Christ. It is not said that they joined in the cry that their fathers uttered, "Crucify him, crucify him." May we not rather hope that they followed their mothers, even that company of women who bewailed and lamented Him?

How ought the young to rejoice in the Savior's answer to the priests and Scribes! "Yes, have you never read, out of the mouths of babes and nursing infants you have perfected praise?"

Who could have thought that He who listens to the songs of thousands of angels, should be pleased with the lisping accents of a child! But when a little one offers up a simple prayer from his heart, the glorious Savior bows down from his heavenly throne to listen. The children in the temple did not care for the frowns of their proud enemies, while they enjoyed the smiles of Jesus. Those wicked men must have looked upon them with still more anger than before, after the Savior's reply. They cannot have forgotten the words that followed those Jesus quoted from the 8th Psalm, "That you might still (or make silent) the enemy and the avenger." The praises of children often do silence the enemy and the avenger. When a wicked man who hates God sees a little child who loves Him, he sometimes feels ashamed of his wickedness, and wishes he was like that simple babe. Swearers have sometimes left off swearing at the request of a child; prayerless men have learned to pray from the example of a child.

There was a father who was called to visit the dying bed of his little daughter. Moved by her entreaties, he knelt down by her bedside, but said he could not pray. She prayed for him - her prayer was heard in heaven. He became a holy man. When he had buried his child, he gathered his household around him, and began, from that day, to call upon the name of that Lord who had loved and saved his child.

Title: Some Greeks desire to see Jesus
Post by: nChrist on August 27, 2008, 10:02:09 PM
Devotional Commentary On The Gospels
by Favell Lee Mortimer ( 1802 - 1878 )

August 30

Some Greeks desire to see Jesus
John 12:20-26

Who were these Greeks that desired so much to see Jesus? They were Gentiles, brought up in the Greek religion, but who had forsaken it for the worship of the true God. We cannot wonder that they longed to see the great prophet of Nazareth, with whose praises all Jerusalem resounded. It must have been more than a sight that they desired. Zacchaeus desired only a sight, when he climbed the sycamore tree, but these Greeks appear to have wished for an interview. They desired to converse with the Lord. It was not easy to obtain access to one who was always surrounded by a crowd. Who would make way for Gentiles to approach him - for Gentiles, who were considered as the dregs of the earth by the proud and bigoted Jews? These Greeks, therefore, applied to Philip the apostle. It appears that he was doubtful whether the Lord would receive them; for we find he consulted first with Andrew, who was his townsman, and that afterwards he and Andrew together told Jesus. No more mention is made of these Greeks; but we know too well the love that Christ bore to poor Gentiles, to doubt how he would receive them. Had they ever conversed with the Roman centurion, or the woman of Canaan, they would not have feared a repulse. The centurion would have said, "I thought that I was not worthy that he should come under my roof, and, lo! he received me as a son." The Canaanite would have said, "I was content to be a dog, worthy only to eat the crumbs that fell from the children's table, and, lo! he called me his daughter." None who knew his condescending love, would ever fear a cold reception from the Friend of sinners.

His answer to Philip and Andrew was calculated to encourage the Greeks, as well as the Jews, to trust in him. When he said that a corn of wheat, if it die or corrupt in the ground, will bring forth much fruit, did he not allude to the salvation of Gentiles, as well as Jews, through his death? Seed is sometimes cast into the ground and never springs up - sometimes it springs up, but produces only a little fruit - but Jesus died, and was buried, that he might rise again and bring many sons and daughters to glory. It would not satisfy the Son of God to save a few souls - he knew before he suffered, that he should redeem from eternal misery a multitude that no man can number. But he knew also that this multitude must suffer much tribulation. Therefore he continually exhorted all who approached him to be faithful unto death. With what affection he promised that his fellow-sufferers should be his companions in glory, saying, "Where I am, there shall also my servant be!" The Greeks had desired a passing interview with Jesus, but here was a promise of his presence forever and ever. We have never seen the Son of Man, as he appeared upon earth in the days of his humiliation; but, if we love him, we shall see him - see him not as he was, but as he is - see him as described in Revelation 10, "Clothed with a cloud, a rainbow upon his head, his face as it were the sun, and his feet as pillars of fire." And when we see him as he is, we shall be like him. Those who saw him as he was were not made like him by the sight. But he has made this promise to his servants, "They shall see his face, and his name shall be on their foreheads." (Revelation 22:4.)

Title: The Father answers his Son from heaven
Post by: nChrist on August 27, 2008, 10:03:28 PM
Devotional Commentary On The Gospels
by Favell Lee Mortimer ( 1802 - 1878 )

August 31

The Father answers his Son from heaven
John 12:27-33

How wonderful a scene was this! The Father and the Son speaking to each other in the presence of men. Surely there must have been silence in heaven while this solemn communion was held! Such sounds had not been heard by an assembled multitude since the day that God had delivered the ten commandments from Mount Sinai. Man had forgotten his Father's voice. None knew it but the Son himself. He knew it well. But he needed no voice to assure him of his Father's love. That voice was heard, that man might know that the Father loved the Son; that man might know that the Father had heard his prayer, "Glorify your name." The more we consider that short prayer, the more we must admire it. What courage, what obedience, what love were displayed in those few words, "Glorify your name!" At the moment they were uttered, all the terrible future lay open before the Son of God. The scourge, the thorns, the cross, the cruel mockings of men, and the hidings of his Father's countenance, all, all were present to his view. Yet, instead of praying, "Father, save me from this hour," he prayed, "Father, glorify your name."

Is it easy for a sufferer to make this prayer? Let those answer who see the objects of their tenderest love begin to droop. Is it easy, then, to say, "Father, glorify your name; if it be necessary for your glory that I should lose my dearest comforts, I resign them into your hands." Let those answer, who linger from month to month under the tortures of some inveterate disease. Is it easy for them to say, "Father, if it be for your glory that I should still endure these agonies, let them continue?" The soul who can make this prayer is prepared to join the multitude that came out of great tribulation.

But no child of God was ever exposed to such trials as those that were coming upon Jesus, when he said, "Father, glorify your name." He saw the prince of this world, even Satan, advancing to meet him in battle. He had suffered much from his temptations in the wilderness; but he would suffer more from his assaults in the garden, and on the cross. Yet he drew not back from the terrible conflict, because he knew that by the conquest of Satan his Father's name would be glorified. It was on the cross that he overcame the prince of this world. No conqueror's sword has ever done so mighty a deed as that despised cross. No monarch's throne has ever seemed so glorious in the eyes of angels as that shameful cross.

There are many means by which men are converted from sin to God - some are impressed by the means of books, others by conversation, and more still by preaching. But there is only one doctrine by which they are converted; it is the doctrine of the cross. Every pardoned sinner now on earth, or in heaven, could bear witness to this truth. It was the love of a dying Savior that drew him out of darkness into light. Had Jesus refused to die, how many tongues now singing to the glory of God the Father would have been forever mute! But who can tell how many more will swell the heavenly chorus in ages yet to come! Not one of them was forgotten by the Son of God when he uttered, "And I, if I be lifted up, will draw all men unto me." The thought of their united songs cheered his soul in the hour of his trouble. His own sufferings darkened the view on one side, but the glory that his Father would receive from a multitude without number of redeemed sinners, of all nations, and kindred, and people, and tongues, enlightened the prospect with an overwhelming splendor, and drew forth the prayer, "Father, glorify your name!"

Title: Christ exhorts the people to believe while they have the light
Post by: nChrist on September 03, 2008, 03:24:40 AM
Devotional Commentary On The Gospels
by Favell Lee Mortimer ( 1802 - 1878 )

September 1

Christ exhorts the people to believe while they have the light
John 12:34-36

While ministers are preaching, their hearers are often answering them in their own minds. Satan never fails to suggest objections against the truth to all who are willing to listen to his whispers. He did not fail to attempt to extinguish the light of the truth when Jesus held it up. When those affecting words were pronounced, "And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me," the people, instead of receiving the truth, objected, saying, "We have heard out of the law that Christ abides ever; and how say you, 'The Son of Man must be lifted up;' who is this Son of Man?" This objection was not urged in a right spirit. If it had been meekly proposed, the gentlest of Teachers would have solved the difficulty. He could easily have explained it by saying, "The Son of man will be lifted up on the cross - then rise to live forever." The people were right in saying that the law had declared that Christ abides ever, because it is written in Psalms 41, "You set him before your face forever;" but they were wrong in the conclusion they drew. How diffident and humble we ought to be when we speak on divine subjects! Our understandings are so feeble, that we fall into mistakes continually. Our only hope of obtaining wisdom is by waiting with meekness on Jesus to be taught - "He will guide the meek in judgment."

Instead of answering the cavils of the people, the Lord gave them a solemn warning. He saw with sorrow that they were wasting the little time during which they would enjoy his instructions. Therefore he said, "Yet a little while is the light with you." They knew not how very little while that light would shine. If these words were uttered on the day of our Lord's arrival in Jerusalem, (that is, on Sunday evening,) then there remained only three days more for him to teach, and for the people to learn. On Thursday it appears all classes were engaged in preparing the Passover, and on Friday in gazing on the crucified Savior. After that day none saw him but his own disciples. He taught the people no more.

Who can tell how long he may retain the light he now enjoys? A child who has a godly parent knows not how soon that parent may die, and how soon the voice may cease that now prays so often with him, and so much oftener for him! There are many who would tremble if they knew how shortly their only opportunity of salvation will end.

A minister who was preaching on the words, "Seek the Lord while he may be found," observed, "There may be some here who, if I had preached tomorrow instead of today, would then have been in that place where, if they sought the Lord, they would not find him."

A farmer's laborer was deeply impressed by the sermon, and sought the Lord that very night. The next morning, as he was with his horses in the field, one grew restive, and, in rearing, struck him with the iron harrow on the temple, so that he died. Had that man delayed to seek the Lord but one day more, he would have been forever in darkness. With what feelings must lost spirits remember the last opportunity they neglected, the last sermon they disregarded, the last conviction they suppressed!

Title: Some refuse to believe
Post by: nChrist on September 03, 2008, 03:26:24 AM
Devotional Commentary On The Gospels
by Favell Lee Mortimer ( 1802 - 1878 )

September 2

Some refuse to believe
John 12:37-41

"He has blinded their eyes, and hardened their hearts." These words have perplexed many minds. Does a merciful God blind the eyes of his creatures? We thought it was He who took away the heart of stone, and gave the heart of flesh. And so it is. All good comes from him, and nothing but good. But it is good to inflict righteous judgment, and there is a sin for which blindness is a righteous judgment. When men love darkness rather than light, and obstinately refuse to come to the light, at length God blinds their eyes. For what use is sight to those who abide in darkness? Jesus came a light into the world; but there were many whose deeds were evil, and who refused to come to the light, lest their deeds should be made manifest. It was these whose eyes were blinded, and whose hearts were hardened, so that they could not see with their eyes, nor understand with their hearts. The dayspring from on high visited them, to guide their feet into the way of peace, through the tender mercy of their God - but they turned away from the glorious light - from that light which fills all heaven with joy. How it must have astonished angels to see men turn away from the Son of God!

Isaiah once beheld his glory in the temple. He beheld the Lord Jehovah sitting upon a throne high and lifted up, attended by the seraphim, who cried one to another, "Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of Hosts, the whole earth is filled with his glory." This was the glory that Isaiah saw. The apostles also saw the glory of the Son of Man; but it was displayed in a different manner. They beheld one clothed in flesh, yet possessed of divine power - they saw him suffering insults and injuries, and yet conferring benefits, and promising blessings. The glory of the Son of God did not shine more brightly from his heavenly throne than it did through the veil of a human form.

But the blind in heart could not behold this glory. None saw it but those whose eyes God had opened. There is no calamity so great as to be blind to the glory of the Redeemer. When we see a very enchanting sight, then it is that we pity the blind. When we look upon the beauties of the opening spring, or the splendor of the setting sun, then we feel compassion for those who can never be cheered by such lovely sights. When we behold the countenance of a dearly-beloved friend, a parent, or a child, then, above all, we feel for those who can never be delighted by seeing the objects of their fondest affections.

And when is it the Christian feels most for the blind world? When he contemplates the glories of his Savior, when he meditates upon his power, and faithfulness, and love, and thinks that there are men who never beheld these glories - who never will behold them - who do not desire to behold them. Though the wicked shall see the Son of man come with power and great glory at the last day, yet they shall never comprehend his greatest glory - which is his goodness. Moses once prayed, and said, "Lord, I beseech you show me your glory;" and God answered, "I will make all my goodness pass before you." And then he proclaimed his name as the merciful, gracious, patience God, who forgives iniquity, transgression, and sin. This is the glory which believers behold with so much satisfaction, but which unbelievers cannot see. In another world they will feel the power of God, and, like the devils, tremble beneath its weight - but they will never, never know the God of love.

Title: Many who believe, refuse to confess Christ
Post by: nChrist on September 03, 2008, 03:27:59 AM
Devotional Commentary On The Gospels
by Favell Lee Mortimer ( 1802 - 1878 )

September 3

Many who believe, refuse to confess Christ
John 12:42-43

It is very profitable to observe what temptations have overcome men in past times. None can estimate the force of temptation, excepting those who are actually under its influence. Even those temptations by which we ourselves have once been overcome, appear feeble and insignificant when we are removed from their power. We have read of a young ruler who refused to follow Christ because he had great possessions. Now we read of many rulers who refused to confess him, because they loved the praise of men more than the praise of God. What various reasons men have for not doing the will of God! But there is not one of all those reasons that will appear a strong one at the last day. "We cannot," thought these rulers, "confess that Jesus is the Son of God, lest we should be put out of the synagogue." There was a beggar born blind who endured the trial; why could not they endure it? When he was cast out, the Son of God found him and revealed himself unto him. Had those rulers acted as he did, they would have been comforted as he was. One word from the Son of God could impart more peace to the heart than the plaudits of a whole multitude, or the praise of the whole Sanhedrin. But it appeared to these rulers an insupportable calamity to be put out of the synagogue. Not to be allowed to approach within an arm's length of any person, or to eat and drink with any for thirty days, was a trial they would not encounter. Then if, at the end of thirty days, they continued to confess Christ, a curse would be pronounced on them in the midst of the congregation, accompanied by the extinguishing of lights, and the sounding of trumpets. Then would follow destitution, and desolation, and disgrace. They would be deprived of their property, forbidden to hire or to be hired, to buy or to sell, to teach or be taught; when they died stones would be cast at their coffin, and none would follow them to the grave.

These things were sufficient to terrify a human heart; but yet what were they all, compared to the woes God will inflict on the unbelieving and the fearful! Not to be permitted to approach our fellow-mortals is not so dreadful as to be separated from saints and angels and God and Christ forever and ever. The sudden darkness in the synagogue, and the clangor of trumpets, could not be as appalling as the darkness of the sun at noonday, and the sound of the last trumpet!

But though these rulers believed that Jesus was the Christ, they did not believe with the heart. They did not love him. They loved men more than God; therefore they loved the praise of men more than the praise of God. It is possible that a true believer may be tempted to deny his Lord - but then he will not continue in the sin. Peter denied Christ; but one "kind upbraiding glance" brought him to repentance, and made him go out and weep bitterly. These rulers were not like Peter. They could bear to see their companions insult the Lord day after day, and yet never take his part - they could bear to hear them plotting his death, and yet be silent. They were content to be on good terms with his enemies, and not to be counted among his friends. Could they have done this had they loved him? O no! had they loved him they would, on some occasion, have betrayed their feelings. Nicodemus could not sit in the Sanhedrin and hear the Lord calumniated. He exclaimed, "Does our law judge any man before it hear him, and know what he does?" and thus he brought upon himself the derision of the assembly. Could an affectionate son hear his father insulted day after day, and never show by word or look how deeply he was wounded!

Perhaps we never hear men speak openly against Jesus himself. But do we not meet with many who speak against his laws and his people? It is before such persons that we are called upon to confess him. If we do not seem to approve of worldly amusements, if we show an attachment to truly religious people, if we refuse to smile at sin, and to admire what the world admires, the enemies of Christ will hate and despise us. Are we willing to bear their hatred and contempt for our dear Master's sake? Is Christ's approbation dearer to us than the world's admiration? These are signs that we love the Lord, and that he loves us; and that he will confess us when he comes in his glory with all his holy angels.

Title: Christ declares himself to be the light of the world
Post by: nChrist on September 03, 2008, 03:29:36 AM
Devotional Commentary On The Gospels
by Favell Lee Mortimer ( 1802 - 1878 )

September 4

Christ declares himself to be the light of the world
John 12:44-50

The most glorious light that ever shone upon this world was now about to set. While his beams were still visible, a voice was heard saying, "I am come a light into this world, that whoever believes in me should not abide in darkness." This is the last invitation to an unbelieving world recorded as uttered by our Lord before his crucifixion. We know that he preached the gospel daily during the short remainder of his life of suffering; but we are not informed what other invitations he made; though we are informed of many parables he related, of many answers he gave, and of many warnings he uttered.

What infinite love breathed in this invitation! Jesus came a light into the world, not for his own happiness, but that whoever believed in him should not abide in darkness. He had beheld the world lying in darkness; he had pitied their dreadful state - and had consented to penetrate the dismal recesses of their abode, that he might bring to them the light of life.

How gloomy this world of sin must appear when viewed from those sunny heights where the saints abide! But darkness is not only gloomy, it is unwholesome. Plants cannot grow in the dark. It is only the boughs that drink in the light of day, that bring forth leaves and fruit. The flowers turn their lovely heads to the sun, and every branch bends forward to meet its rays. As soon as the infant has strength to open its tender eyelids it begins to seek the light. Those poor babes who are reared in dark alleys show by their pale and sickly looks that they have been deprived of the light that makes the whole creation bloom and rejoice. Darkness is dangerous as well as unwholesome. The traveler in the desert, if he is benighted, is exposed to pitfalls and wild beasts. The prince of the power of the air exercises his power in darkness; there he lays his snares; there he watches for his prey.

It was to relieve men in this deplorable state that the Son of God was manifested. He is the brightness of the Father's glory, and the express image of his person; therefore he said, "Whoever sees me sees him that sent me." The King eternal, immortal, invisible, dwells in light which no man can approach unto; but his Son was veiled with flesh, and sent forth into the world clothed in such mild beams that men could approach him. But if men still loved darkness rather than light, if they shut their eyes upon the Sun of righteousness, and retired farther into their dark retreats, what would become of them at last! The words which Jesus spoke would judge them at the last day. That word, "I am come a light into the world, that whoever believes in me should not abide in darkness," that very word will judge all those who, having heard it, have not come unto the light. For when Jesus comes again he will not save the world. He will only save his people, and he will judge the world. All the invitations which the world have received are recorded, and will be brought forward at the last day. They may forget the sermons they have heard, the chapters they have read; they may forget the faithful expostulations of their pious friends, and the fervent prayers of their fond parents, but God does not forget them; for all these means of grace were arranged by Him in his eternal counsels with his Son. He determined what they should hear, and He observes how they hear. The sinner's heart will thrill with terror when his Judge inquires, "Why did you not come unto me? Then you might have had light. Why did you abide in darkness?" What reason can a sinner give for abiding even one day in darkness, when light is come into the world? There is not a single soul who hears this invitation who might not enjoy light this very hour, if he would but lift up his heart to the Savior of the world with this earnest cry, "Enlighten my darkness, O light of life."

Title: Christ curses the barren fig-tree
Post by: nChrist on September 03, 2008, 03:31:23 AM
Devotional Commentary On The Gospels
by Favell Lee Mortimer ( 1802 - 1878 )

September 5

Christ curses the barren fig-tree
Mark 11:11-19

Such is the history of the manner in which our Lord spent one of the last days before his death. It was, as we believe, on Sunday that he entered with triumph into Jerusalem. On the evening of that day Mark records that he looked round about on all things, and then went to Bethany with the twelve. And what did those holy eyes behold when they looked round about upon the temple? They must have looked upon the smoking sacrifices, upon the burning lights, and upon the white-robed priests. But these sights cannot have imparted joy to the Savior's heart; for he knew how those sacred ordinances were profaned by an unbelieving nation.

How sweet must the calm of Bethany have seemed after the tumult of Jerusalem! That lovely village, embosomed among the fruitful trees that adorned the foot of Olivet, contained some of the Lord's most devoted followers. Whether he spent the night in solitary prayer on the mountain, or whether he slept beneath the roof of some beloved disciple, we know not. However engaged, he was hid from the pursuit of his enemies. For it is said in John's Gospel concerning this period, "These things spoke Jesus and departed, and did hide himself from them." (John 12:30.)

On the morning of the next day, (which, we believe, was Monday,) the Lord again repaired to the scene of labor and conflict, to the temple at Jerusalem. The distance was about one mile and a half, and the way lay through a fertile valley, close by the Garden of Gethsemane, and over the brook Kidron. As the Savior walked he was hungry; for he had probably left Bethany at an early hour, and without taking refreshment. His hunger reminds us that he had a body like our own, and was subject to all our infirmities except sin. It was at this moment he beheld a fig-tree having leaves, and he approached it, but, finding no fruit upon it, he cursed it, saying, "No man eat fruit of you hereafter forever." There is one thing in this account which it is difficult to understand. Mark observes, "The time of figs was not yet." It is natural to inquire, "Why did the Savior expect to find figs before the season was arrived?" This difficulty has been explained. There is a kind of fig-tree which always has leaves, and always bears fruit. The common sort of fig-trees in the early spring neither bear leaves nor fruit. When our Lord beheld afar a fig-tree having LEAVES, he knew it must be of the kind that bears fruit at all times; and when he found none, he cursed it for its barrenness.

But surely there must have been some deep meaning in this action; for a tree can neither deserve cursing nor blessing. It must have been to teach his apostles who then heard his words, and us who now hear them, that Jesus cursed the tree. This tree afforded an apt emblem of the Jewish nation. The leaves of a tree drink in air and moisture, and promote its strength and fruitfulness. The sacred privileges bestowed on the Jews may be compared to leaves. But when the Son of God came looking for fruit, he found none - no repentance - no faith - no love - no holiness - for though there were a few who believed, the nation, as a nation, believed not. He did not expect fruit from the Gentiles, for the time of figs was not yet come with them; but he had a right to expect much from those to whom he had given much.

When he entered the temple again that day, he found the buyers and sellers engaged in their profane traffic. It seems, from this account, that after having been driven away the evening before, they had returned to their old practices, and that the Son of man showed his power again in casting them out.

Jesus passed the day in teaching the people, while maliciously observed by the scribes and chief priests. And, when evening was come, he went out of the city, and sought again to hide himself from his enemies in his favorite retreat. Thus closed another of his few remaining days of sorrow. It seemed as if he spent his strength for nothing, and in vain; but his judgment was with the Lord, and his work with his God. (Isaiah 49:4.)

Do those who labor for our souls, whether they be ministers or friends, look in vain for fruit? May the Savior's dreadful sentence prove a warning to us. God can say to a man, as well as to a tree, "Let no man eat fruit of you hereafter forever." Is there anyone who could bear the prospect of never being a blessing throughout all the ages of eternity? Even those who are useless and hurtful now, hope that they shall one day be different. But opportunities are rapidly passing away. The trees, that are now bearing the lovely fruits of praise and holiness in the paradise above, began to bring forth fruit unto God when upon earth. Even that malefactor whose Christian course lasted but an hour or two, brought forth good fruit in his believing prayer to Jesus, and in his faithful reproof of his fellow-sufferer; while the aged apostle Paul was like a tree whose boughs are pressed to the earth under the weight of a fragrant and delicious load. Have we begun to bear heavenly fruit? If not, when shall we begin? Let us not delay - we cannot tell how soon God may fix our state forever.

Title: Christ and his disciples pass by the withered fig-tree
Post by: nChrist on September 08, 2008, 12:43:22 AM
Devotional Commentary On The Gospels
by Favell Lee Mortimer ( 1802 - 1878 )

September 6

Christ and his disciples pass by the withered fig-tree
Mark 11:20-26

After having passed the night in Bethany, the Redeemer, with his little band, left his retreat to resume his labors in Jerusalem. In the course of their walk a very impressive object met their sight. It was the fig-tree that had been cursed the morning before. On passing by the fig-tree in the evening, the darkness must have prevented the apostles from seeing it; but the morning light revealed its withered state. Peter called the attention of his Lord to the circumstance, by saying, "Master, behold the fig-tree which you cursed has withered away." From this remark we are led to conclude that the curse pronounced by the Lord did not produce an immediate effect upon the tree, but caused it gradually to consume and to perish. The apostles, who knew the reason for its withered state, must have looked upon it with feelings of awe and astonishment. They had never before seen such a display of their Lord's power. They had seen life bestowed by his word, but never had they seen even the life of a tree TAKEN AWAY. Had the Son of God exercised his power as he might have done, his enemies had long before been blasted by the breath of his nostrils - for it is God who kills, as well as makes alive. But he refrained from executing judgment, for He came to draw sinners to himself by the riches of his goodness, and not to appall them by the terrors of his hand. But it was well that his apostles should have proof that he could destroy his enemies. They would soon be exposed to a tremendous trial of faith. They would behold their Master apparently overpowered by men. The remembrance of the fig-tree ought to have convinced them in that terrible hour that he could have dried up the arms stretched out to take him, and struck mute the tongues that rose in judgment against him.

Nor was it Jesus alone who had power to subdue his enemies. He promised similar power to his apostles, even power to wither fig-trees and remove mountains. Matthew thus records the Lord's answer - "Verily I say unto you, if you have faith and doubt not, you shall not only do that which is done unto the fig-tree, but also if you shall say unto this mountain, 'Be removed, and be cast into the sea,' it shall be done." Matthew 21:26. It is evident that trees and mountains represent the difficulties and trials of the Christian life. By faith they may be overcome. The apostle Paul triumphed over the messenger of Satan sent to buffet him, and through faith learned to take pleasure in infirmities, reproaches, necessities, persecutions, distresses, for Christ's sake, because he found the grace of God sufficient for him. (2 Corinthians 12:10.)

It is by believing prayer that such victories are attained. Therefore the Lord gave his apostles some directions concerning prayer. He knew they were going to spend another day exposed to the malice of wicked men, and he warned them against cherishing an unforgiving spirit, by saying, "When you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against any - that your Father also which is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses." There are few who are not sometimes injured or insulted. It is not enough for us to endeavor to banish the thoughts of our enemies from our minds, we must think of them for the purpose of asking, "Have I forgiven them?" We must mention them in prayer as objects for whom we especially desire mercy. One who has himself been forgiven by God will be enabled to forgive others. The spirit of revenge may arise occasionally in his heart; but the remembrance of what has passed between Jesus and his own soul will quench the vindictive feeling, and will make him desire to meet even his enemies in glory, and to live with them forever in love.

Title: The Elders question Christ concerning his authority
Post by: nChrist on September 08, 2008, 12:44:50 AM
Devotional Commentary On The Gospels
by Favell Lee Mortimer ( 1802 - 1878 )

September 7

The Elders question Christ concerning his authority

Matthew 21:23-32

We are now beginning to read the account of the last two days of our Lord's public ministry - the Tuesday and Wednesday before his death. There are very ample records of the conversations he held on those days. None who heard him, knew that he would so soon cease to speak on earth; but we know that these were his last warnings.

Early in the morning he arrived as usual at Jerusalem, having conversed with his disciples on the way concerning the withered fig-tree, and the power of faith and prayer. He found his enemies much enraged against him, both on account of his words and his doings. They had witnessed the buyers and sellers, at his command, leaving their accustomed posts. The sight was a reproach to those who had so long allowed the profanation of the house of prayer. Having consulted together, they proposed a question which they imagined he could not answer without furnishing them with a new accusation against him - "By what authority do you these things?" If he should reply, "By the authority of God," then they resolved to accuse him of blasphemy; and if he said, "By my own," of rebellion. But the wisdom of the Lord easily confounded the cunning of men. He answered by proposing a question they could not answer. Therefore they were compelled to reply that they did not know whether John the Baptist was a true prophet or not. What a confession for teachers of religion to make! All who hear it might naturally conclude that those who did not know whether John were a true prophet, might not know whether Jesus was.

But while his enemies were suffering under the confusion of their defeat, the Lord related a parable, which must have confounded them still more. There were often gathered around the Savior a class of persons whom the Pharisees considered as the dregs and scum of the earth. They were penitents who had once led wicked lives; they were such persons as the rich tax-collector and the weeping sinner. Once they had openly disobeyed the command of their God, and had insolently answered, "I will not;" but afterwards they had repented; while the Pharisees, with all their professions, had never yet really obeyed the will of God. It was easy to say which of these characters was the most guilty. Even if the open transgressors had never repented, they would not have been so wicked in God's sight as the false pretenders to religion. But they had repented, and, therefore, they were fully forgiven, and were as much beloved by God as angels that have never sinned. Their repentance added greatly to the guilt of the Pharisees, for the very sight of these penitents ought to have convinced them of their own need of repentance.

But the proud have no feelings to vent at the feet of Jesus. There is no sin that hardens the heart so much as pride. Open sins, though they expose to shame and misery in this life, sometimes render men more willing to humble themselves before God. A liar, who blushes because of the lies he has told, will, perhaps, listen to the voice of mercy, while the proud truth-speaker rejects it, because he rests upon his integrity. Of all sins let us most beware of pride. It is Satan's first-born. It possesses the wonderful faculty of occupying the space of any other sin which is cast out of the heart. If intemperance be cast out, then pride swells and fills the room that intemperance occupied before. Often pride will arise and by its own strength cast out some other vice, in order that it may have more room to grow in, and more food to feed upon.

Most of all, pride dreads the entrance of the Son of God into the heart. Then it knows its reign will be at an end. How it bars and bolts the doors of the heart, against the rightful owner! Yet Christ has broken through even these bars. Saul of Tarsus was a proud Pharisee, when Jesus spoke to him from heaven; but he became as lowly as that penitent tax-collector, who said, "Lord, be merciful to me a sinner."

Title: The parable of the rebellious husbandmen in the vineyard
Post by: nChrist on September 08, 2008, 12:46:08 AM
Devotional Commentary On The Gospels
by Favell Lee Mortimer ( 1802 - 1878 )

September 8

The parable of the rebellious husbandmen in the vineyard
Luke 20:9-19

In this parable the base conduct of the Jewish nation is plainly set forth. When the conduct of men towards God is represented in parables, we perceive its ingratitude and treachery more clearly than we did before. And why? Because there is no being whose claims are so little understood by men, as the claims of God.

Everyone will admit, that the lord of the vineyard had a right to demand a portion of its fruits, as rent, from the husbandmen. But God has a right to all our obedience, and to all our love. To him we owe all we enjoy, or ever can enjoy - indeed the very power of enjoyment comes from him. But how do men behave towards Him? In the same manner that these husbandmen behaved to their lord. They not only refuse to obey God, but are angry with those who reprove their disobedience.

Like these husbandmen, unconverted men become hardened in sin. The husbandmen treated the servants worse and worse. They beat the first servant, shamefully treated the second, and wounded the third. Thus sinners increase in wickedness - for every sin committed and not repented of, prepares for the commission of a greater.

If any of you who have been converted to God, look back upon your days of rebellion, you will perceive that you grew worse. There was some docility in your childhood - some fear of evil in your early youth - which were lost as you grew older. If God had not interfered by his grace, you would, by this time, have reached a higher pitch of iniquity than you ever before attained. There is even in the converted a tendency to return to their former state, and there is need constantly to apply to God for fresh supplies of His Holy Spirit, or, like a wheel upon a sloping bank, they will slide back into their old sins.

When the Savior had concluded the parable, he declared the punishment the lord would inflict on the husbandmen. "He will come and destroy these husbandmen, and shall give the vineyard to others." This prophecy was intended as a warning to the Jews, who had persecuted the prophets, and were now plotting the death of the Son of God. The people understood that the warning applied to themselves, for they exclaimed, "God forbid." If they had been as anxious to avoid sin as they were to avoid suffering, they would have escaped both. What must have been the expression of his countenance when Jesus looked upon those who had answered, "God forbid;" for it is said, "He beheld them?" It must have been a look that seemed to say, "Your sorrows are nearer than you suppose, and greater than you can bear."

He now changed the figure from a vineyard to a building, and alluded to a passage in Psalms 118, in which it is said, "The stone which the builders refused has become the head-stone of the corner." Great was the folly of the builders who knew not the value of the finest, firmest, most precious stone that had ever been hewn out of a quarry; and great would be their punishment. That stone, while it lay upon the ground, would be a stumbling-block, and those who fell over it would be broken; but it would not always lie upon the ground; it would be exalted, and falling upon the wicked, by the righteous anger of God, would grind them to powder. What does this short parable signify? When Christ was a man upon earth, those who rejected him sinned, yet not beyond the reach of pardon; but when he was exalted to God's right hand, those who continued to reject him perished eternally. The everlasting anger of God is represented by this expression, "It will grind him to powder." That blessed Savior who might, like a stone, be a support and defense, will become, if we refuse to believe in him, the instrument of our destruction. If we build upon him all our hopes for eternity, he will not fail us - but if we neglect him, he will crush us beneath the weight of his righteous indignation.

Title: The parable of the man without a wedding garment
Post by: nChrist on September 08, 2008, 12:47:29 AM
Devotional Commentary On The Gospels
by Favell Lee Mortimer ( 1802 - 1878 )

September 9

The parable of the man without a wedding garment
Matthew 22:1-14

There is one circumstance concerning this parable which renders it peculiarly solemn. It is the last parable recorded, that our Lord related in public. There are others, which he related to his apostles in private, but there are no more written in the Bible which were spoken in the presence of the chief priests and the multitude.

This parable contains a description of all the different kinds of characters that were assembled round the Lord in the temple. Each of us who hears this parable now, may find in it his own character.

There were some who made light of the invitation to the wedding, and went to their farms and to their merchandise. These persons represent the worldly-minded and the indifferent. The great mass of hearers are of this class. They do not oppose the Gospel by argument; they do not persecute Christians by violence; but they treat serious subjects with levity, and give their hearts and minds to the world. They have various tastes; some are engrossed with business, others with society; some with learning and accomplishments, others with domestic duties and delights - but they all agree on this point, - they neglect the invitations of the Gospel.

There were certain persons described in the parable, who took the servants, and entreated them spitefully, and slew them. These, we know, must represent persecutors, such as the chief priests and scribes. The punishment that would soon be inflicted on the murderers of the Lord was plainly indicated by these words, "But when the king heard thereof, he was angry, and he sent forth his armies, and destroyed these murderers, and burned up their city."

The servants represent prophets, apostles ministers, and teachers, in all ages, who endeavor to persuade sinners to come to Christ.

The guests who accepted the invitation, signify all those who make a profession of religion.

The most remarkable character described in the parable is the man who had not on a wedding garment. It is the custom in the East, when royal feasts are given, to provide each guest with a robe of honor, and it would be considered a great insult, if any of those who came were to refuse to wear it. This man had neglected to put it on. The servants may not have observed the omission, or if they had observed it, they still permitted this rebellious guest to remain seated at the table. But when the KING came in to see the guests, he immediately expostulated with the transgressor. And what answer did the man return? What excuse did he make? None. He was speechless. Now every sinner has many excuses to offer for his transgressions, but he will not be able to bring them forward when he stands before the Son of God.

The wedding garment signifies that righteousness which Christ has promised to bestow on all who believe in him; it is the linen clean and white, spoken of in the Book of Revelation, (Revelation 19:8 ) - it is the righteousness which is by faith of Jesus Christ. Every one might obtain this precious gift. It is offered to all. To refuse this gift is an insult to the King of kings. Are there any here who venture to appear before God in their own righteousness - in that righteousness which the prophet Isaiah compares to "filthy rags?" Are there any who know not they are wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked, and who will not ask for the white clothing that Jesus offers to bestow? (Isaiah 64:6.) You may escape the observation of your fellow-guests, - you may elude the vigilance of the servants - but when the KING comes in to see the guests, you will be detected and cast out. All our religion will prove utterly worthless, if we stop short of true faith and real conversion. That unhappy man might as well have stayed away altogether from the feast, as have come there without a wedding garment. He would have had less trouble - less disappointment - less shame - and perhaps less weeping; for of all the lost, surely none will weep so bitterly as those who imagined to the last they were going to heaven.

Title: Christ replies to the Pharisees and Herodians respecting paying tribute
Post by: nChrist on September 08, 2008, 12:48:59 AM
Devotional Commentary On The Gospels
by Favell Lee Mortimer ( 1802 - 1878 )

September 10

Christ replies to the Pharisees and Herodians respecting paying tribute
Matthew 22:15-22

Full of Satanic are and Satanic malice, the Pharisees approached the Lord, to ask him a question which they imagined he could not answer without exposing himself to danger. It was this. "Is it lawful to give tribute to Caesar or not?" Caesar was the Roman emperor who had conquered the Jewish nation. Could there be any doubt whether it was right to pay tribute or taxes to the monarch who ruled over them? There could be none, because God has commanded submission to rulers. But the Pharisees understood the law of God so ill, that they considered it was wrong to submit to a heathen governor. This was a false notion. It is true the Jews would never have been conquered by the heathen if they had been faithful to God; but being conquered, it was their duty to submit. We read in the prophet Ezekiel, that the Lord was once angry with the Jews for breaking their covenant with the king of Babylon. (Ezekiel 17:15.) The Pharisees did not venture openly to express their rebellious thoughts, for fear of incurring the displeasure of the Romans; yet they were so base as to wish to induce the Lord to endanger his life by uttering the very sentiments which they inwardly approved. In this malicious design they were assisted by the Herodians. These persons were called Herodians after Herod, the governor the Romans had appointed. They were not only willing to submit to the Romans in lawful, but also in unlawful matters. If the Roman governor gave a command contrary to the law of God, they would obey the governor and disobey God. We perceive, therefore, that the Pharisees and the Herodians had fallen into opposite errors. But the Lord's answer was like a two-edged sword. When Jesus said, "Render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar's," he reproved the secret notions of the Pharisees, and when he said, "Render to God the things that are God's," he reproved the avowed doctrine of the Herodians.

It is interesting to observe how the attempts of man to perplex the Son of God only drew forth new treasures of wisdom from his lips! How valuable is this rule, "Render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar's, and unto God the things that are God's!" It shows us that though all things belong to God, yet that some are more peculiarly his own. There are certain rights which God has given to kings. These rights we must render to them. Parents have certain claims upon their children, and children upon their parents. God does not require parents to neglect their children in order that they may devote all their time to his worship. It was very sinful in the Jews to refuse to support their aged parents, and to bring the money they ought to have bestowed on them to the priests, saying, "It is Corban, or a gift." (Mark 7:11.)

But if it is sinful not to render unto men the things which (by God's appointment) belong to men, how much more sinful it must be not to render unto God the things that belong to God? Yet it is in this point that we are the most negligent. The world thinks it but a slight fault to neglect their Creator. How many parents there are who render to their children the love that is due to them, but who render no love to God! There are children to be found who honor their parents, but who dishonor God; servants who obey their masters, but who disobey God; masters who act justly towards their servants, but deceitfully towards God; brothers and sisters who live in harmony with each other, but at enmity with God. Such persons may say, "I have done my duty; I have done nobody any harm." But what will God say to them? Will he not remember that they have trampled upon His rights? Will not broken Sabbaths, heartless prayers, neglected Bibles, rise up to condemn them? God has greater claims upon us than any other being can have. He created man in his image, bestowing upon him a reasonable soul and an immortal spirit. Therefore we are God's, because we bear his image, as the tribute money bore the image of Caesar. But God has not only created us; he has redeemed us. When Satan had taken us captive, Christ redeemed us with his precious blood, and now he says to each of us, "You are not your own; you are bought with a price; therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God's." (1 Corinthians 6:20.) Have we given ourselves to the Redeemer? Is it our chief desire to do his will and to promote his glory? Or do we ungratefully spurn his authority, seeking our own pleasure and doing our own will?

Title: Christ replies to the Sadducees respecting the resurrection
Post by: nChrist on September 17, 2008, 01:43:01 PM
September 11

Christ replies to the Sadducees respecting the resurrection
Luke 20:27-38

Here is another instance of precious truth being uttered in answer to frivolous questions. What light is thrown upon the eternal state by these two sentences! "They are equal to the angels! All live to him."

The Sadducees did not believe that there would be any resurrection of the dead, because they did not understand how it could be. When they applied to Jesus they described a case which might have occurred under the Jewish law. The land of Canaan was divided into small inheritances. If a man died without a child to succeed him, God enjoined that his brother should marry the widow, and that if a child were born, he should succeed to the property of the deceased brother, and be considered as his heir. The Sadducees imagined that they had proposed a difficulty that the Lord could not solve; but by a word he exposed their folly. He declared that departed saints are "equal to the angels of God." Angels are not divided into families as men are; and glorified saints will not be connected in heaven with the relations they had upon earth. They will have connections, but not of an earthly kind. The pastor will rejoice to find again the flock he fed below. As Paul says to his converts, (1 Thessalonians 2:19,) "For what is our hope, or joy, or crown of rejoicing? Are not even you in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ at his coming?" The godly parent will find himself united in spiritual bonds to the children who were born the second time, in answer to his fervent supplications. The friends who bore each other's spiritual burdens up the hill of Zion, will walk together by the waters of life that gladden the city of their God. Spiritual bonds can never be dissolved. Now is the time to multiply these bonds. Some who knew upon earth few of the sweet ties of kindred will be bound by numerous sacred everlasting ties in heaven.

But Christ knew that the Sadducees denied not only the resurrection of the body, but the immortality of the spirit. Therefore he brought forward a proof of the eternal life of the pious dead; and he brought it out of those five books of Moses, in which alone the Sadducees professed to believe. God would not have said to Moses, when he spoke from the burning bush, "I am the God of Abraham," if Abraham had ceased to exist.

How glorious is the idea that all the saints are actually in existence! All those holy men whom we have read of in the Scriptures, all whom we have heard of, all whom we have known and loved, - they LIVE. They not only live; but are equal to the angels. We delight to think of our absent living friends, to imagine how they are now engaged, to hope they sometimes think of us, and will some day return to us; but while we are indulging these tender thoughts, they may be in pain and trouble; they may be entangled in sin, and wandering far from God. But with what confidence may we think of the pious dead! When we hear the sweetest strains of music, we may think, "Those sounds give but faint ideas of their feelings, as they pass from bliss to bliss." But though we know not the degree of their happiness, Jesus did. He had but lately left the blessed company above, and now he was going to die that they might live on forever, and that their number might continually increase. Once Abel was the only redeemed saint in heaven, but at length there shall be a multitude that no man can number, who will join in Abel's song, and say, "Salvation to our God, which sits upon the throne, and unto the Lamb." (Revelation 7:10.)

Ten thousand times ten thousand sung
Loud anthems round the throne,
When lo! one solitary tongue
Began a song unknown;
A song unknown to angel ears,
A song that told of banished fears,
Of pardoned sins, and dried up tears.
Not one of all the heavenly host
Could those high notes attain,
But spirits from a distant coast
United in the strain;
Until he who first began the song
(To sing alone not suffered long)
Was mingled with a countless throng.
And still as hours are fleeting by
The angels ever bear
Some newly-ransomed soul on high
To join the chorus there;
And so the song will louder grow,
Until all whom Christ redeemed below
To that fair world of rapture go.
O give me, Lord, my golden harp,
And tune my broken voice,
That I may sing of troubles sharp,
Exchanged for endless joys;
The song that never was heard before
A sinner reached the heavenly shore,
But now shall sound for evermore.

Devotional Commentary On The Gospels
by Favell Lee Mortimer ( 1802 - 1878 )

Title: Christ replies to a Scribe concerning the greatest commandment
Post by: nChrist on September 17, 2008, 01:44:29 PM
September 12

Christ replies to a Scribe concerning the greatest commandment
Mark 12:28-34

It is not surprising that the Scribes admired the Lord's answer to the Sadducees, because they believed in the resurrection. They showed their admiration by exclaiming, "You have well said." Yet they did not give up the hope of entangling the divine Teacher by questions; and one of them made this inquiry, "Which is the first commandment of all?" The Scribes often disputed with each other on this subject, and some asserted that to offer a certain sacrifice, and others that to keep a certain fast, or to repeat certain prayers, or to bestow certain alms, was the service the most acceptable to God. How much the Lord's reply must have surprised them! Instead of selecting any one command as greater than the rest, he pointed to the root of all acceptable obedience, Love. He made only one distinction, and that was with regard to the objects towards whom love is to be exercised. These objects are "God and man;" and as God is infinitely greater than man, love to Him must be infinitely more important than love to man. Yet where love to God is found, love to man will always follow; but it will be a love very different from that selfish, capricious, and partial love which unconverted men feel for their friends and relatives.

The Scribe, who asked the question with the evil design of tempting the Lord, (as Matthew declares,) was convinced by the answer, and expressed his sentiments with cordiality and candor. He did not speak hypocritically when he said, "Well, Master, you have said the truth." No other of our Lord's tempters ever showed such readiness to receive instruction, and such frankness in avowing his convictions. He, who knew his heart, encouraged him by this commendation - "You are not far from the kingdom of God." He did not say, "You are in the kingdom of God." He did not say, as once he said to a weeping penitent, "Your faith has saved you." He did not say, as once he said to a dying thief, "You shall be with me in Paradise." Yet what he did say was very encouraging. In a world in which so many are as far from the kingdom of God, as the east is from the west, it is encouraging for a sinner to hear that he is not far from it. It is God alone that can draw a soul even to its borders - and it is our hope that if he bring it thus far, he will bring it farther still. To perish at the very barrier that separates death from life would be dreadful indeed. The shipwrecked mariner who perishes in the waves when in sight of the shore, seems in a more pitiable case than one who had not so nearly reached his native land and his beloved home.

Are we convinced that without love all the services we can offer to God are worthless? Even a human creature would not be pleased with our gifts, if he KNEW that we did not love him, and that we presented them only with the view of gaining a reward. And will God be pleased with interested services? How much has he done to win our love? He has given his only-begotten Son to die for our sakes. Is not that enough to melt the hardest heart? There can be no greater proof of the natural wickedness of the human heart than this - it finds it difficult to love God - to love the most lovely Being, the most gracious Benefactor.

Let none of us be satisfied with feeling we ought to love God. As soon as a spark of real affection for our heavenly Father is kindled in our hearts, then we are in the kingdom of God - then we are safe, then we are happy. Not so happy as we shall be when we love him more; but happier than the most prosperous worldling who does not love him. Our love can never entitle us to eternal life; Christ's blood can alone do that; but it affords a proof that we are the children of God, and that we shall dwell with him forever! for "Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God has prepared for them that LOVE him." (1 Corinthians 2:9.)

Devotional Commentary On The Gospels
by Favell Lee Mortimer ( 1802 - 1878 )

Title: Christ questions the Pharisees concerning himself
Post by: nChrist on September 17, 2008, 01:45:54 PM
September 13

Christ questions the Pharisees concerning himself
Matthew 22:41-46

We have already admired the wisdom of the Lord's answers. We have now an instance of the wisdom of his questions. Though his enemies could not perplex him, yet he could easily perplex them. But his questions were not like theirs, frivolous; they were important. There is no subject more important than who Christ is. The Pharisees thought they knew, but they were profoundly ignorant on the subject. They knew, indeed, the meaning of the word "Christ." It signifies "anointed" - one set apart by the anointing of oil as priest and king. Jesus was the Christ, anointed of the Father with the Holy Spirit, the oil of gladness, to be priest and king forever. In the second Psalm there is a prophecy of this anointed one. "The kings of the earth set themselves and the rulers take counsel together against the Lord, and against his anointed (or his Christ.)" The Pharisees had read the Scriptures, and they knew that the Christ would come into the world, and that he would be born of the family of David. But they did not know that the Christ was the Son of God, as well as the Son of David. Therefore Jesus brought forward a passage from the Psalms, in which David calls the Christ his Lord. It is this, "The Lord said unto my Lord." (Psalms 110:1.) That is, "The Lord the Father said unto my Lord the Son." How could David's Son be David's Lord? This was a mystery hidden from the Pharisees. It is the great mystery of godliness. "God manifest in the flesh." It has been revealed to us. We know that from everlasting the Son has been with the Father in glory, and that in the fullness of time he was born into the world - the infant of a humble daughter of the royal David.

Thus he is at once David's Son and David's Lord. The Pharisees did not ask him to explain the passage he had quoted; for they were contented with their ignorance, and loved darkness better than light. But they will understand it when it is too late. The prophecy shall be fulfilled. "The Lord said unto my Lord, Sit on my right hand, until I make your enemies your footstool." Part of it has already been accomplished. Christ is now sitting at the right hand of God, but he has not yet come to make his enemies his footstool. With what dismay will those who once rejected him behold the Son of God when he appears in his glory! "Every eve shall see him, and they also that pierced him; and all kindreds of the earth shall wail because of him." That is, some of all kindreds shall wail, because some of all kindreds have rejected him. It was not the Jews only who said, "We will not have this man to reign over us;" it was not the Romans only who pierced him with a spear; there are many belonging to Christian nations who have crucified him afresh and have trodden him under foot. (Hebrews 6:6; Hebrews 10:29.) All who do not love him are his enemies, and shall be made his footstool. It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God. How terrible it must be to be trampled beneath his feet! Yet those who have trodden under foot the Son of God shall, if they do not repent, be trodden under foot themselves - for he has declared, "I will tread them in my anger, and trample them in my fury." (Isaiah 63:3.) In that day he will save his people, and while he makes his enemies his footstool, he will exalt them to his own THRONE, for he has said, "To him that overcomes will I grant to sit with me in MY THRONE." (Revelation 3:21.)

Devotional Commentary On The Gospels
by Favell Lee Mortimer ( 1802 - 1878 )

Title: Christ warns the people against the pride of the Pharisees
Post by: nChrist on September 17, 2008, 01:47:12 PM
September 14

Christ warns the people against the pride of the Pharisees
Matthew 23:1-12

This is the last discourse recorded which our Savior uttered in the presence of his enemies. How alarming it is! Surely those sins must be very dangerous which called forth such warnings from the meek and gentle Savior! The first part of the discourse was not addressed to the Pharisees themselves, but to the disciples and to the multitude. The Lord warned them against imitating the example of their teachers. With regard to their instructions, this was the rule laid down. When the Pharisees sat in Moses' seat, that is, when they read the books of Moses in the synagogue to the people, then they were to be regarded. We know that their FALSE interpretations were not to be received; for our Savior on one occasion censured them for teaching for doctrines the commandments of men. (Matthew 15:9.) Therefore we perceive how we ought to understand the words in verse 3 - "All, therefore, whatever they bid you observe, that observe and do." All the instructions they gave, which agreed with the word of God, the people were bound to observe, however wicked their teachers might be.

The Lord next commanded the people not to imitate the example of the Pharisees. "Do not you after their works." We are apt to imitate those we admire. The people admired the Pharisees exceedingly, for they could not detect their motive. It was PRIDE. All they did was to be seen of men; therefore all they did was abominable to God. The phylacteries (those strips of parchment on which texts of Scripture were written) were harmless in themselves, but the Pharisees wore them with the wicked desire of gaining admiration from men by an appearance of piety. The borders, or fringes on the garments, were even commanded by God in the law. In Numbers 15:38, the Israelites were desired to put fringes (or borders) on their garments, and upon the fringes a ribbon of blue, in order that when they looked upon it they might remember all the commandments of the Lord. Christ did not reprove them for wearing these borders, but for wearing them in order to be seen of men; neither did he censure them for sitting in the most honorable places at feasts or in the synagogue, but for LOVING to sit there.

It is natural for men to wish to be noticed and admired. Even Christians feel this desire, but they do not cherish it; no, they abhor it, and pray against it, and strive to overcome it. Whenever we feel mortified because we have been overlooked, or elated because we have been noticed, we should bewail before the Lord the pride of our hearts. Why is pride so offensive in God's eyes? Because it leads men to desire to be in the place of God. Pride is never satisfied. Were a man to gain the admiration of a hundred persons, he would wish to gain that of a hundred more, and his desires would never stop until he was the object of universal homage, until he occupied the throne of the Almighty. It is not wonderful that God abhors a sin that aims to dethrone himself, and to render his whole creation miserable. The happiness of the universe depends upon God being seated upon his own throne, and upon all his creatures submitting to his government. God must humble every one that he would save. If we are to be saved, we must be humbled. People little know what they are doing when they cherish pride in children. Many of the common modes of education are calculated to feed this dangerous passion. The desire to be first is encouraged by numerous expedients, when every means ought to be used to check the love of distinction in the young heart. Nothing can so effectually subdue it as the Gospel of Christ. There man learns that he is a polluted being, and that nothing but the blood of the crucified Savior can wash out his stains. Do we believe this humbling doctrine? Then let us remember the words of the apostle Paul, "I beseech you that you walk worthy of your vocation with which you are called, with all lowliness and meekness." (Ephesians 4:2.)

Devotional Commentary On The Gospels
by Favell Lee Mortimer ( 1802 - 1878 )

Title: Christ denounces three woes against the Pharisees
Post by: nChrist on September 17, 2008, 01:48:41 PM
September 15

Christ denounces three woes against the Pharisees
Matthew 23:13-15

The first sermon recorded which the Lord Jesus preached is called the Sermon on the Mount. It began with eight blessings, such as these, "Blessed are the poor in spirit, blessed are the meek." But now we are reading the last sermon recorded, and we find in it eight woes. They are denounced against the Pharisees. The Lord warned his disciples against their evil doctrines and example in his first public discourse, saying, "Except your righteousness exceed the righteousness of the Scribes and Pharisees, you shall in nowise enter the kingdom of heaven." He shows in this his last discourse what their righteousness was - a mere pretense, an outward show, a cloak to secret wickedness. After each woe he uttered, he described a crime.

The first crime described is "shutting up the kingdom of heaven against men." This is the contrary of what Jesus came to do. He opened the kingdom of heaven to all believers. He opened it by his death. All faithful ministers stand at the open door and invite sinners to come in. But the Pharisees taught men false ways of salvation. When they saw real penitents they frowned upon them, and endeavored to shut them out. We find in the prophet Daniel this encouraging promise - "Those who be wise shall shine as the brightness of the skies, and those who turn many to righteousness as the stars forever." (Daniel 12:3.) But what will become of those who have turned many from righteousness! What anguish will they feel when they find among their companions in torment, many whom they once perverted and corrupted!

But if the Pharisees had been openly wicked they would not have been as guilty as they were. They pretended to be very pious, and made long prayers in public places, while secretly they devoured widows' houses. It seems that dying men often left the property of their widows to their charge, little suspecting how the trust would be abused. How could they dare to injure the widow and the fatherless when they read continually in the law of Moses these words - "You shall not afflict any widow, or fatherless child. If you afflict them in any way, and they shall cry at all unto me, I will hear their cry, and my wrath shall wax hot, and I will kill you with the sword, and your wives shall be widows, and your children fatherless." Exodus 22:22-24. Christ is acquainted with every secret sin. He detests sin most when he sees it covered by a cloak of hypocrisy. Therefore he said to the Pharisees, "You shall receive the greater damnation." There are degrees of misery. Hypocrites shall be punished more than open transgressors. The sins which they have so carefully concealed from men will be publicly exposed at the last day, and the secrecy with which they were committed will be found to add to their enormity.

Everyone would acknowledge that to devour widows' houses is a sin; but everyone would not understand at first that it was a sin to compass sea and land to make proselytes. It is not a sin to compass sea and land to make converts - no, that is a righteous act. Missionaries go to the farther ends of the earth to tell perishing sinners of a Savior. They go, and by the blessing of God, they make some of them the children of heaven, such as they are themselves. What is a proselyte? He is a man who changes his religion, whether for a better or a worse. The Pharisees took great pains to persuade the Gentiles to observe the ceremonies of the Jewish law; for it gratified their pride to add to the number of their own followers. They did not desire to save souls; for while they were so zealous in making proselytes, they shut up the kingdom of heaven against men. The bad instructions they gave to a proselyte rendered him worse than he was before, and even worse than themselves. We should have hardly thought it possible that any could be worse than the Pharisees, did we not find these words written, "And when he is made, you make him twofold more the child of hell than yourselves." There are degrees of wickedness as well as of misery. Some are more the children of hell than others. It is even possible to make another worse than we are ourselves. How dangerous it must be to listen to false teachers! If we attend to them we may become worse than they are. How dreadful is the name here given to a wicked man! "The child of hell!" Yet all who are not the children of heaven are the children of hell. The world is divided into these two classes. Could the children of hell see the place to which they were going, they would tremble, and shrink back with fear. But God sees it, and in his love he warns them not to proceed in their dangerous course. He does more. He is willing to make them "meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints of light;" for he is able to deliver them from "the power of darkness." (Colossians 1:12-13.)

Devotional Commentary On The Gospels
by Favell Lee Mortimer ( 1802 - 1878 )

Title: Christ denounces four more woes against the Pharisees
Post by: nChrist on September 17, 2008, 01:50:07 PM
September 16

Christ denounces four more woes against the Pharisees
Matthew 23:16-28

Our God is the God of truth. There was no truth in the Pharisees. They taught lies, and they acted lies. In the passage we have just read a woe is denounced against them for teaching lies. They taught the people that the gold of the temple was more holy than the temple itself; and that the gift on the altar was more holy than the altar - whereas it was clear that it was the temple that sanctified the gold, and the altar that sanctified the gift.

What could be their motive for teaching these errors? No doubt it was the love of money. They hoped to induce the people to bestow much gold, and to offer many gifts as sacrifices, that by these means they themselves might grow rich. The love of money has in all ages led men to teach falsehood. Roman Catholic priests gain money by the masses they repeat for the dead. They tell the people that the souls of their relations are in torment, and that they can release them by repeating prayers or masses on their behalf; but they will not repeat these masses, unless money is given to them. One mark of a faithful minister is his indifference to worldly gain, or to filthy lucre, as the Scriptures call it. Like Paul he can say, "I seek not yours, but you." (2 Corinthians 12:14.)

The Pharisees not only spoke lies, they acted them. They pretended to be so very pious, that they would not omit paying tithes to the priests of the smallest herbs; while at the same time they omitted paying to God the greatest duties they owed to him, such as judgment, mercy, and faith. And why? Because men could see them when they gave their tithes, but God alone knew the state of their hearts.

Are there not some like the Pharisees in these days? They are careful to perform religious services when the eye of man is upon them; but they are indifferent when the eye of God alone observes. They attend church regularly because men see them there. But do they pray in secret regularly? They are very careful of their words, because men hear them; but they are very careless about their thoughts, because God alone sees them. What can better represent such characters than cups clean outside and filthy within, than sepulchers beautifully ornamented containing dead men's bones?

How different is the description that the Holy Spirit has given of the saints! Paul says, "We have this treasure in earthen vessels." (1 Corinthians 4:7.) The saints are despised by the world, and valued no more than an earthen vessel; but in their hearts a treasure is hid - it is Christ, the hope of glory. (Colossians 1:27.) In the sight of God, who sees the heart, they are precious as gold and silver. It is true that they are not without sin; but God has promised to refine them, as gold and silver are purified from their dross. (Malachi 3:2.) But the wicked are compared to the dross of silver, and to the baser metals. God said to Ezekiel, "Son of man, the house of Israel has to me become dross; all they are brass, and tin, and iron, and lead, in the midst of the furnace; they are even the dross of silver." And what would God do to these impenitent, unbelieving, unconverted people? "Because you have all become dross, behold therefore, I will gather you into the midst of Jerusalem. As they gather silver, (that is, the dross of silver,) and brass, and iron, and lead, and tin, into the midst of the furnace, to blow the fire upon it to melt it; so will I gather you in my anger and in my fury; and I will leave you there, and melt you." (Ezekiel 22:18-20.) Afflictions do not refine hypocrites; but destroy them. God leaves them in their troubles, and permits them to perish. But if our hearts are right in the sight of God, he will never leave us. His promise to everyone who sincerely loves him is, "I will be with him in trouble; I will deliver him, and honor him." Are there any here who never cry earnestly to God for a clean heart, and a right spirit? What will you do in the day when God shall judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ? (Romans 2:16.)

Devotional Commentary On The Gospels
by Favell Lee Mortimer ( 1802 - 1878 )

Title: Christ denounces the last woe against the Pharisees
Post by: nChrist on September 17, 2008, 01:51:39 PM
September 17

Christ denounces the last woe against the Pharisees
Matthew 23:29-36

This is the last of the eight woes that the Lord denounced against the Pharisees. Eight times he uttered these words, "Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites." Eight times he described their hypocritical character. The last instance of hypocrisy mentioned, is the building of the tombs of the prophets. This was a hypocritical act in the Pharisees, because it was not done from love and reverence to the martyred prophets, but merely from pride and ostentation. If they had reverenced the ancient prophets, they would not have persecuted the living ones. It is very probable that they really thought that they would not have been partakers with their fathers in the blood of the prophets; but they did not know their own hearts. It is very easy to deceive ourselves respecting our own characters. When we read of wicked actions, it is natural to think that we would not have committed them, had we been placed in the circumstances of those we read of. But this is not the way to come to a knowledge of ourselves. Let us not inquire how we should have treated the apostles or the reformers, had we lived in their days, but let us rather inquire how do we behave towards despised saints in these days? Do we love all who believe in the Lord Jesus Christ? Are we ready to relieve their wants, and to defend their characters? When the saints are praised and admired, it is easy then to speak in their favor; but when they are despised and calumniated, then it requires faith to take their part, and to share in their reproach.

With what honor the Son of God mentioned those holy men who had been slain in former times! What a title he bestowed on Abel, when he called him "righteous Abel!" The waters of the flood had not washed out the stains of his blood from the earth. We know the names of very few of those prophets who were slain between the time of Abel and of Zachariah, but all their names were known to Jesus at the moment he was speaking - all their spirits were happy in his Father's presence, and all their blood was crying for vengeance from the earth. And upon whom would that vengeance descend? Upon that generation to whom Jesus then spoke - upon that generation who would exceed all their fathers in wickedness, by slaying the Son of God, and by refusing the offer of pardon that his apostles would proclaim. Jesus declared, "All these things shall come upon this generation." But not upon that generation alone. The sufferings of the Jewish nation are not yet ended. To this day they are wanderers on the face of the earth, even as Cain was who slew his brother Abel.

Can parents bear the idea of entailing a curse upon their children? Long after they are sleeping in their graves their offspring may be suffering the consequences of their sins. A family is plunged from the height of affluence into the depth of poverty; disease sweeps away the fair blossoms from a flourishing tree; public crime inflicts a dark blot upon a reputable name - and men know not the cause of these visitations. Sometimes they are sent, like the afflictions of Job, and the temptations of Abraham, to try the faith of God's dear children, and as tokens of a Father's love - but sometimes they are the memorials of sins perpetrated long before - of sins unpardoned and unrepented of. The cruel treatment of a fatherless child, the treacherous robbery of a master, the bitter persecution of a saint, are often visited upon the unrighteous descendants of those who committed the guilty acts. God fulfils his own word by visiting the iniquities of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generations of them that hate him.

But He will never let his wrath burn against the righteous son of ungodly parents. No, if the son repents, he shall obtain mercy. The good king Josiah, though the son of a very wicked father, was spared when God was going to pour torrents of wrath upon his kingdom. Because his heart was tender, because he humbled himself, and wept and prayed, therefore God said, "You shall be gathered to your grave in peace." Pious children who have ungodly parents yet living, may pray for them, and may obtain mercy for them also. Far from punishing the children for their parents' sake, he may bless those parents for their children's sake. "For he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness, and repents him of the evil." (Joel 2:13.)

Devotional Commentary On The Gospels
by Favell Lee Mortimer ( 1802 - 1878 )

Title: Christ laments over Jerusalem
Post by: nChrist on September 17, 2008, 01:53:04 PM
September 18

Christ laments over Jerusalem
Matthew 23:37-39

Could the most feeling heart bewail the calamities of his friend more tenderly than the Lord here bewails the dreadful end of his enemies? It was not because he loved them not that he had addressed the Pharisees in these terrible words, "You serpents, you generation of vipers, how can you escape the damnation of hell?" Those whom he now called serpents, he would have treated as the hen her beloved brood. When that careful bird observes a hawk or a kite hovering in the air, she calls her little ones to take refuge beneath her sheltering wings. The Lord Jesus descried afar off the woes that were about to light upon the heads of his guilty nation, and he gave them warning of their approach; but they would not heed his words, nor accept his invitations. And now the time was come when hope had nearly expired. "Behold," said the Lord, "your house is left unto you desolate." But though he said "Behold," the Jews beheld no desolation. The temple was shining in all its splendor; the walls of Jerusalem were standing in all their strength; the feast of the Passover was thronged with guests; the land was flowing with milk and honey; where was the desolation? It was near at hand, even at the door. The Son of God heard its step upon the mountains, and saw its shadow upon the hills. Before the voices of those children who sang his praises in the temple should become tremulous through age, the enemy would cause the sound of melody to cease in the Lord's house. How long has the silence continued! Visit Mount Moriah, where once the temple stood. Behold that stately building, crowned with domes and minarets. It is not a Christian church. Is it a heathen temple? No, it is a Mohammedan mosque, the pride of the Turks, the masterpiece of their architecture. Neither Christian nor Jew may now tread upon the spot where the Redeemer stood and taught. And thus it shall be, until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled. Then there shall be a great and glorious change. It is described in this last verse. "For I say unto you, you shall not see me henceforth, until you shall say, 'Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.'" When the Savior comes the second time, he will meet with a very different reception from that which he received the first time. He expired amid curses, but he shall return amid blessings.

How wonderful are the dealings of God with the Jewish nation! Instead of casting them off forever, he has only cast them out for a time. He says to them, by the mouth of his prophet Isaiah, "In a little wrath I hid my face from you for a moment, but with everlasting kindness will I have mercy on you, says the Lord your Redeemer." (Isaiah 54:7-8.)

Are there any among us with whom the Lord has dealt in the same merciful manner? Some, who in their youthful days hardened their hearts against the Gospel, after wandering long in forbidden and dangerous paths, have been permitted once more to hear the joyful sound, and have heard it the second time with altered feelings, and a new delight. When God had spoken to them in their prosperity, they had replied, "I will not hear;" but when he had destroyed their earthly delights, they welcomed the messenger of mercy, and exclaimed, "Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord."

Devotional Commentary On The Gospels
by Favell Lee Mortimer ( 1802 - 1878 )

Title: Christ commends a poor widow
Post by: nChrist on September 17, 2008, 01:54:25 PM
September 19

Christ commends a poor widow
Mark 12:41-44

The time was drawing near when the Lord Jesus would leave the temple, never to return. Before he left it, he sat for a while in the court called the women's court. The inner court was called the court of Israel, and there no one was permitted to sit down; but in the women's court sitting was allowed. Under the pillars that adorned the court eleven chests were placed, and upon each chest was written the purpose to which money cast in it, would be applied. None of them were for the relief of the poor; all were set apart for the supply of the various sacrifices and services of the temple.

The people presented their offerings within the view of Jesus. Many who were rich cast in much. It is probable these rich men were Pharisees. The Lord had lately upbraided them for their covetousness. He did not now applaud their liberality. He knew that though they gave much, they kept more. He saw also their motives, and he was acquainted with their secret practices. But while he passed over the rich, his eye rested upon a certain poor widow, who cast in two mites, which made a farthing. It is said in one place that two sparrows are sold for a farthing - that farthing was the fourth part of a penny; this farthing was the FORTIETH part of a penny - the fortieth part of the wages of a day-laborer.

There is very little recorded concerning the poor widow; neither her name, nor her parentage, nor her history, nor her abode. But she was well known to Jesus. He knew not only what she put into the treasury, but also that she had nothing remaining. He knew all her circumstances in this life - the depth of her poverty, and how she fell into it. It may be that she was the victim of one of those proud Pharisees, who devoured widows' houses. He knew not only her circumstances, but her heart - the feelings with which she approached the treasury and cast in her mites. It may be that she had just received some great deliverance, and that she testified her gratitude by her gift. It may be that, like the aged Anna, she derived her chief consolation from attending the services of the temple, from listening to the psalms sung continually within its walls, and from joining in the worship which accompanied the daily offerings. It is probable that she had heard the Savior's gracious words within that sacred place, and had found salvation through faith in his name. She must have been a believer in the promises of God, or she could not have presented an acceptable offering. For it is written, "Through faith Abel offered a more excellent sacrifice than Cain." (Hebrews 11.)

The believing poor still present their farthings to the Lord - their mites are still precious in his sight. They may not be noticed by men, but they are not overlooked by God. He knows where all the money comes from that enters into his treasury; and he can distinguish the guinea which dropped out of the overflowing coffers of a rich man, from the last farthing of a poor one. There are some in our days who have displayed the same faith that actuated the widow. There was a man who spent his all in going from city to city, from country to country, to plead for the souls of the poor. Wherever he went, he stirred up his fellow-Christians to form town-missions, which might penetrate into every dark abode of ignorance and misery. He died in the midst of his years and of his labors, and left not enough to procure his winding-sheet, much less to sustain his infant family. But God raised up friends who honorably buried him, and comfortably provided for his widow and her babes. Our gracious Lord is faithful, and never forsakes those who put their trust in him. We may feel assured that the widow who cast in all her living into the treasury, was not permitted to pine with need the day after. And every one who has faith to act as she did, will be approved as she was, and sustained as she was, and at the last day acknowledged as she will be.

Devotional Commentary On The Gospels
by Favell Lee Mortimer ( 1802 - 1878 )

Title: Christ foretells the destruction of the temple
Post by: nChrist on September 17, 2008, 01:55:49 PM
September 20

Christ foretells the destruction of the temple
Matthew 24:1-2

These words record a very remarkable event - "Jesus went out, and departed from the temple."

That was a memorable moment when the Lord Jesus departed from the temple, never again to enter it - that temple into which he had been carried as a babe in his mother's arms, and where he had been blessed by the aged Simeon; from that temple where, as a child, he had astonished the doctors by his wisdom - from that temple where he had healed so many sufferers, and spoken peace to so many penitents. Never more would he honor it with his presence; his enemies might have it to themselves, to repeat within its sacred courts for a few more years their hypocritical services. On another altar he would bleed, even the altar of the cross; to another temple he would ascend, even to the temple in heaven, to stand before the altar there, with the golden censer in his hand. (Revelation 8:3.)

Had the disciples known their Master as well as they might have known him, they would not have directed his attention to the splendor of the holy house. How could they expect that the King of Heaven would admire earthly magnificence! The world's glory must have appeared dark indeed to Him who had dwelt in the palace of eternal light!

A little while before, he had called his disciples unto him. For what purpose? Was it to show them such an object as the world admires? A monarch gorgeously arrayed, or a building beautifully adorned? or even a prospect of surpassing loveliness? No! it was to show them a sight pleasing in God's eyes - a poor widow devoted in heart to his service. For what a different purpose the disciples came to their Master!

Instead of admiring the temple's magnificence, Jesus uttered this astonishing prophecy - "There shall not be left one stone upon another that shall not be thrown down." For nine years before the Savior's birth, Herod the Great had kept eighteen thousand workmen continually employed in repairing the temple, and since his death the Jews had continued to improve it. It was built upon a massive rock, and was composed of stones, some of which were sixty feet in length. Who could believe that such stones would be thrown down! Yet in about forty years after the prophecy had been uttered, the place where the temple stood was a ploughed field; for the Romans caused the foundations to be dug up in search of hidden treasures.

God knows the fate of every building which now attracts human admiration. The mosque of Omar, that stands where once the temple stood, has its appointed time. All the edifices that human hands have reared, since the tower of Babel was begun, shall perish - they may be demolished by the conqueror, or swallowed up by an earthquake, or gradually crumbled away by the hand of time - but if they escape all these enemies, they shall at length be consumed in the flames; for God has declared, "The earth, and the works that are therein, shall be burned up. Seeing, then, that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought you to be in all holy conversation and godliness, looking for and hastening unto the coming of the day of God?" (2 Peter 3:10-11.) But there are some things which shall endure. Though every stone in the temple has been thrown down, the poor widow that cast her mite into the treasury still lives. Her love still lives. It led her once to offer two mites, and now it leads her to offer never-ending praises. When we behold a splendid building, let us remember that a poor tattered believer is more glorious in God's sight than that pompous fabric. Men may think him unfit to enter the magnificent gate, or to tread upon the marble floor; but God has prepared for him a building not made with hands, eternal in the heavens - a building that shall endure when all earthly palaces and temples shall melt with fervent heat.

Devotional Commentary On The Gospels
by Favell Lee Mortimer ( 1802 - 1878 )

Title: Christ foretells the signs of the end
Post by: nChrist on September 21, 2008, 05:16:44 PM
September 21

Christ foretells the signs of the end
Matthews 24:3-14

How interesting was the scene upon Mount Olivet when the Savior sat there instructing his disciples concerning things to come! The prospect he beheld must have filled his heart with sad thoughts. It was Jerusalem, that crowned the opposite heights - Jerusalem! the city over which he had wept only a few days before - Jerusalem, that city in which he had done so many miracles - Jerusalem, that city in which he was so very soon to be tried and condemned.

When we look upon a place which we have often visited, we think of past events; but when Jesus looked upon Jerusalem he thought not only of the past, but also of the future.

The disciples did not leave their Master to meditate alone upon that mount. Four of them approached and proposed some important questions. The names of these four are recorded by Mark - they were James and John, Peter and Andrew, the fishermen of Gennesaret. The inquiries they made were these - "When shall these things be? And what shall be the sign of your coming, and of the end of the world?" What things did they refer to in their first question? A little while before their Lord had said, when gazing on the magnificent buildings of the temple, "There shall not be left here one stone upon another, that shall not be thrown down." It was natural that the disciples should desire to know when these wonderful events would happen; they said, "When shall these things be?" Had they asked no other question, it would have been clear that the whole of the Lord's answer related to the destruction of Jerusalem; but they added a second inquiry, "What shall be the sign of your coming, and of the end of the world?"

The Lord answered both these inquiries as he sat upon Mount Olivet. It is difficult for us to know certainly what part of the answer relates to the destruction of Jerusalem, and what part relates to the second coming. Before Jerusalem was destroyed, there were many wars and persecutions; and there are wars and persecutions still. What mournful signs these are, of the coming of Christ! When he was born at Bethlehem, the angels sang, "Glory to God in the highest, on earth peace, good will towards men." This song would have led us to expect that wars would cease now that the Prince of peace was come. But eighteen hundred years have rolled away, and violence still prevails upon the earth. The joyful song in the fields of Bethlehem is very unlike the mournful discourse upon the Mount of Olives. Yet both are true. When the Babe that lay in the manger shall sit upon his throne, the earth shall be filled with the glory of the Lord. Meanwhile there must be trials, and afflictions, and temptations. Jesus has faithfully warned us beforehand. He has told us that many will be offended, and that many will be deceived, and that the love of many will grow cold. When we read these prophecies we should offer up such a prayer as this - "May I never be offended, or deceived, or cooled in my love!" When we hear of any who have turned back from following the Lord, let us think of the touching words he once spoke to his apostles, "Will you also go away?" Surely none will feel so much ashamed to see him again as those who professed to walk with him a little way, and to love him for a little while, but whose feet grew weary, and whose love waxed cold! O how they will wish that they had never heard his name, nor listened to his voice!

Devotional Commentary On The Gospels
by Favell Lee Mortimer ( 1802 - 1878 )

Title: Christ directs his disciples when to flee from Jerusalem
Post by: nChrist on September 21, 2008, 05:18:09 PM
September 22

Christ directs his disciples when to flee from Jerusalem
Matthews 24:15-23

These warnings proved exceedingly useful to the first Christians. They remembered the words, "When you therefore shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, stand in the holy place; then let those who are in Judea flee into the mountains." Nearly forty years after these words were uttered, the Roman armies stood in the holy place; that is, in the holy city of Jerusalem. These armies were prophesied of under the name of "the abomination of desolation." The world admires great conquerors, and their gallant troops, but the Lord abhors deeds of injustice and cruelty. The Roman name shines bright in the page of history, but it is a blot in the word of God - "the abomination of desolation."

But some may inquire, "How could the Christians escape from Jerusalem when the Romans had entered the city?" God showed his faithfulness by providing a way of escape for his own people. When the Romans first attacked the city, they were repulsed - they fled, and they did not return to the city for several years. The Christians took advantage of their defeat to flee to the mountains. They found a place wherein to dwell in safety; a little town called Pella, beyond the river Jordan, hidden among the hills, was their refuge. It is believed that not one Christian was in the city of Jerusalem at the time of its dreadful destruction. Does not the escape of these Christians afford a striking instance of the manner in which God preserves his people? When he destroyed the world by water, he saved Noah; when he destroyed Sodom, he saved Lot; and when he will destroy the world by fire, he will save his people. As it is written in Psalms 32, "For this shall everyone that is godly pray to you in a time when you may be found - surely in the floods of great waters they shall not come near him."

It was the time of the Passover when the Roman armies, headed by the great Titus, returned to attack Jerusalem. Two millions of human beings were then enclosed within her walls. And what human beings! Many of them were ferocious robbers. Two wicked men, named Simon and John, were at open war with each other, and kept the city in continual tumult. Through their means most of the provisions were burned, and the inhabitants speedily reduced to famine. The robbers broke into houses, and insisted upon the inhabitants delivering up their last morsel. During the whole period of the siege no regular meal was taken. Each ate his morsel alone, in fear and trembling. One unnatural mother was induced by hunger to roast her own child, and to eat part of it. The odor of her meal attracted the Jewish soldiers to her house; they compelled her to produce her strange food; but when they beheld the dreadful spectacle, they retreated in horror, for now they clearly saw that God had abandoned the city, and that no hope remained to its wretched inhabitants.

The pen of Josephus, an unbelieving Jew, has described the calamities of the siege; and he has wound up his account by these words - "If the misfortunes of all from the beginning of the world were compared with those of the Jews, they would appear much less upon the comparison." This is an unbeliever's testimony to the truth of the prophecy, "There shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time." If those days had not been shortened, the whole nation must have perished; but this could not be, because of the elect. Some of the Jews were chosen of God, and for their sakes the days of tribulation were shortened; and the siege lasted little more than three months. But is the tribulation over? O no. The Jews are still wanderers upon the face of the earth; they are still despised, dejected, degraded. It is a dreadful thing not to listen to the voice of mercy. The Jews would not hear it, and they have been compelled to hear the voice of wrath. The Lord delights in mercy. Are there any here who have not yet accepted his gracious invitations? O what sorrows you might escape, if now you would turn to him!

Devotional Commentary On The Gospels
by Favell Lee Mortimer ( 1802 - 1878 )

Title: Christ describes his second coming
Post by: nChrist on September 21, 2008, 05:19:26 PM
September 23

Christ describes his second coming
Matthews 24:23-31

What comfort it has been to believers during the last eighteen hundred years, to know that Jesus will return in a public manner! "As the lightning comes out of the east, and shines even unto the west; so shall the coming of the Son of Man be." The inhabitants of all parts of the world will know in the twinkling of an eye that Jesus has returned, for they will see him coming in the clouds of heaven. Had it not been for this assurance, in what a state of agitation they would have been kept! They would have listened with eagerness to every report of his return, and would have thought it well at least to go and see whether it were true. But now they feel an unshaken confidence, that whenever he appears they shall see him immediately. They know also that wherever they may be at the time, they will be gathered to him, even as the eagles are gathered from distant parts to feast upon their prey. Whether they be dead or living when he comes, they shall behold the first bright beams of his chariot. Whether they be lying in their graves, or in the depths of the sea, they shall be caught up to meet him in the air - whether engaged in their daily toil, or partaking of their nightly repose, they shall be changed, and translated to join the blessed company.

And did the Lord give his disciples any information concerning the time of his second coming? Yes - he said it should happen "immediately after the tribulation of those days." To what tribulation does he refer? This is a question that has perplexed many attentive readers of Holy Scripture. Some consider the tribulation that the Jews have endured during the last eighteen hundred years is here spoken of. Are they not still in tribulation? Luke gives this account of our Lord's words - "Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled." The Turks are still in possession of Jerusalem; their mosque still pollutes the holy mount where once the temple stood; but when the tribulation of the Jews is over, when they are restored to their own land, and their own city, their King will return to take possession of his ancient throne. He was born King of the Jews, he died King of the Jews, and King of the Jews he will return; but not of the Jews only, but King of kings, and Lord of lords. How glorious is the description of his return in Revelation 19:11! "And I saw heaven opened, and behold a white horse, and he who sat upon him was called Faithful and true, and in righteousness he does judge and make war. His eyes were as a flame of fire, and on his head were many crowns; and he had a name written that no man knew but he himself."

Yet the glory of the second coming is not so wonderful as the humiliation of the first. It seems suitable to the Son of God to return in the clouds with a vast army of saints and angels; but it is amazing that he should have entered the world as a babe, have been laid in a manger, and nailed unto a cross. And why did he come in this lowly, in this ignominious manner? That when he came again to destroy the world, he might gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other. All these scattered ones have believed in the crucified Jesus, and have been washed in his blood; therefore their garments are clean and white, and they are fit to enter into the presence of their Lord, and to dwell with him forever.

Devotional Commentary On The Gospels
by Favell Lee Mortimer ( 1802 - 1878 )

Title: Christ foretells the suddenness of his second coming
Post by: nChrist on September 21, 2008, 05:20:40 PM
September 24

Christ foretells the suddenness of his second coming
Matthews 24:32-41

What must have been the feelings of the disciples when they heard their Lord declare, "This generation shall not pass until all these things be fulfilled!" Though the Lord had directed them how to escape from Jerusalem, yet they must have felt compassion for their countrymen who would suffer the "great tribulation." What should we feel if we knew that London, now so prosperous and flourishing, would in the course of forty years be steeped in blood, and filled with carcasses! Thanks be unto God, we have heard no such evil tidings. Though now full of ignorance and vice, of poverty and misery, it may become enlightened and happy, through the spread of the gospel in all its dark alleys and crowded courts. But the disciples could entertain no such hopes concerning Jerusalem. They knew that if they were spared to see old age, they would hear of the destruction of their native city.

Before the beginning of this discourse, they had asked two questions; the first was, "When shall these things be?" This inquiry referred to the stones of the temple being thrown down. The other question was, "What shall be the sign of your coming, and of the end of the world?" To this question our Lord seems to refer when he says, "But of that day and hour knows no man; no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only." How remarkable it is that the time of Christ's second coming should be concealed from the knowledge of every creature! Angels know not the time; they know not when they shall be summoned to attend their King in his chariot of clouds. Devils know not the time; they know not when they shall be immured in their dark prison, and no longer permitted to tempt the inhabitants of the earth, and of the sea. Wicked men know not the time; they know not when their day of grace will end. Righteous men know not the time; they know not when they shall be caught up to meet their Lord in the air.

When Jerusalem was destroyed, the righteous had to flee; but when Christ returns, it is the wicked who will attempt to flee, and will not be able. The same Almighty arm that will save the righteous, will arrest the wicked in their flight. How great will be their consternation when they find themselves suddenly separated from their pious relatives! The very day in which this event takes place, they will arise ignorant of what it will bring forth. Two men will be in the field, digging, or ploughing, or reaping. One may have just vented his profane oaths, while the other may have reproved him, and reminded him of the future judgment - when suddenly the angels may bear away the faithful laborer into the presence of his Savior, and leave his ungodly companion to taste the terrors of his wrath. Two women will be engaged in domestic labors; grinding at a mill, or employed in some other household work. They may both that morning have sung the same hymn, and have appeared to join in the same prayer; but while one was a humble believer, the other was a lover of the world. Christ will suddenly reveal their true characters, by taking one to dwell with him, and by leaving the other to sink into perdition. Should not each of us ask himself, "If the Lord were to come today, what would become of me? Has He heard me imploring earnestly for pardon, and his Holy Spirit? When He looks into my heart, does He see that I love Him?"

Devotional Commentary On The Gospels
by Favell Lee Mortimer ( 1802 - 1878 )

Title: Christ counsels his disciples to watch for his return
Post by: nChrist on September 21, 2008, 05:22:00 PM
September 25

Christ counsels his disciples to watch for his return
Matthews 24:42-44

Why did the Lord conceal from all the time of his second coming? We know not why he concealed it from angels or from devils, but we do know why he concealed it from men. It was that they may be watching for his return. He said, "Watch, therefore, for you know not what hour your Lord does come." He who made us is acquainted with all the secret springs of our nature. He knows that when we have a long time before us, we are disposed to loiter. There is a spirit of sloth and delay that steals over our hearts, which nothing overcomes so much as the idea that the opportunity for exertion may soon be past. Though our Lord may appear to tarry, we must never cease to believe that he will soon come. As it is written, "For yet a little while, and he who shall come will come, and will not tarry." (Hebrews 10:37.) When we have been expecting a friend for a long time, we at length grow weary of waiting, and "give him up." We say, "Surely now he will not come at all." Yet sometimes he arrives just as we have given him up. We must never give up expecting Christ, for he has positively promised that he will come. But he has not promised to prolong our lives until his return. Millions have dropped into the grave during his absence, and it is very probable that we may descend into ours.

The day of death is as uncertain as the day of his return. The young die as well as the old, the healthy as well as the sickly, the cautious as well as the adventurous. We all know that this day we MAY die. It does not require faith to believe that we may die; for reason convinces us of this fact. Yet is it not remarkable that death generally comes unexpectedly - even to the old? They have lived so long, that they naturally imagine they shall live longer still. They have seen the arrow of destruction pass by them so often, piercing their companions, but sparing them, that their fears are quelled, and their hearts are lulled to repose. It often happens that just as men have made their plans for long life, they are visited by sudden death. A house has just been built, and a garden planted, when he that built and planted is called to dwell in another abode, and to walk in other regions. These unexpected removals say with a loud voice to the living, "Be you also ready."

But what if, instead of death, the Lord were to come? His return would create more alarm than death has ever done. When death attacks an ungodly man, his senses are often stupefied by disease; he is less capable of feeling alarm than when in full health. But when Christ returns, he will find his enemies lively and strong. A sick man usually entertains hopes of recovery until near his last hour; but when Christ returns, the wicked will see no way of escape. Friends surround the pillow of the dying man; some soothe and flatter him, some counsel and encourage him - but when the Judge appears, the wicked will be left to meet their dreadful fate, without one friendly arm to render aid, one pitying eye to shed a tear, one godly tongue to offer a prayer. Do we desire to escape the terrors of that dreadful moment? there is but one certain refuge. It is the Lord Jesus, who is now ready to hear our prayers, to forgive our sins, to bestow his grace, and to be our hiding-place in the day of trouble. If we neglect this precious opportunity, he will come on us as a thief, and we shall not know what hour he comes upon us. (Revelation 3:3.)

Devotional Commentary On The Gospels
by Favell Lee Mortimer ( 1802 - 1878 )

Title: Christ describes the end of faithful and unfaithful servants
Post by: nChrist on September 25, 2008, 09:40:47 PM
September 26

Christ describes the end of faithful and unfaithful servants
Matthew 24:45-51

This part of our Lord's discourse applied with peculiar force to the apostles. They had been made rulers over their Lord's household. But it also applies to all ministers, for they are all stewards of the mysteries of God. A sacred trust is committed to them; and if they neglect it, their condemnation will be very heavy. If the laborer in the field, if the women grinding at the mill, were ungodly, they would perish - but if the steward of spiritual things was unfaithful, how much more miserably would he perish! How happy are those ministers whom death has found watching over their household! It signified not, indeed, whether they died in their pulpits or in their beds; but it signified much whether their hearts were truly in their work. Faithful ministers, like Paul, feel continual sorrow in their hearts for their brethren who know not God. Like him they can also say, when they think of their children in the faith, "We joy for your sakes before our God." (1 Thessalonians 3:9.)

It is dreadful to think that there are some ministers whom Christ calls evil servants." They think in their heart that the Lord delays his coming. Then they begin to abuse the power committed to them, and to ill-treat the saints of God, their fellow-servants. Worldly-minded ministers have often been great persecutors. What are the pleasures, and who are the companions of such men? It is said in the parable, "They eat and drink with the drunken." They do not thirst after the river of the water of life, but after earthly delights - they do not love the society of the servants of God, but that of the people of the world.

Is it ministers only, who indulge the wicked thought, "My Lord delays his coming?" Thousands are emboldened in sin by that idea. They do not say with the scoffers mentioned in Peter's second epistle, that he will never come. They do not ask, "Where is the promise of his coming?" but they think "He will not come yet; we may sin on with safety; we shall have time to repent, and amend."

The Lord continually defeats such presumptuous calculations. Death opens the door without giving the slightest notice; his step is not heard - his form is not seen until he has seized his victim, and borne him beyond the reach of repentance or of pardon.

It is in this manner the Lord has punished presumptuous sinners in past times. He will do it in a more signal manner when he comes again. He will select a moment in which the hypocrites shall have no suspicion of his approach. He will come on a day when they are not looking for him, and at an hour when they are not aware of their danger. But on that day his people will be looking for him, and at that hour they will be trusting in him; for they will say when they see him, "This is our God; we have waited for him, and he will save us - this is the Lord; we have waited for him, we will be glad, and rejoice in his salvation." (Isaiah 25:10.) Were he to come today in his chariot of clouds, should we be able to say, "We have waited for him?" Would he come to interrupt our pleasures, or to crown our hopes? Would he come to make us weep, and gnash our teeth, or to wipe all tears from our faces forever?

Devotional Commentary On The Gospels
by Favell Lee Mortimer ( 1802 - 1878 )

Title: The parable of the ten virgins
Post by: nChrist on September 25, 2008, 09:42:09 PM
September 27

The parable of the ten virgins
Matthew 25:1-13

In this parable the open enemies of Christ are not mentioned. There are only two classes described - true believers and false professors.

It seems that the difference between the wise and foolish virgins was not discovered until the bridegroom's return was announced. Had the wise virgins been aware of the unprepared state of their companions, they would sooner have recommended them to supply themselves with oil. There are many false professors who are not detected by true Christians. What do they gain by the deception? They gain a name to live; but they lose more than they gain; for they lose those moving exhortations which would be addressed to them, if their real state were known, and which might prove their salvation. They are permitted to remain undisturbed, because they are undetected. They learn to flatter themselves in their own eyes, and to believe that they are secure. But when the bridegroom returns, then their sad condition will be discovered.

What a succession of disappointments will they experience at last! It was a disappointment to the foolish virgins when they found that their lamps had gone out. It will be a bitter disappointment to many when they find that a form of religion will avail them nothing; and that they have no grace in their hearts. The oil seems to represent holy feelings, which the Holy Spirit alone bestows; love, faith, repentance, peace, hope, joy. It is possible to maintain a creditable reputation for piety without possessing any of the fruits of the Holy Spirit; but it is written, "Without holiness no man shall see the Lord."

The first disappointment the foolish virgins met with was finding their lamps had gone out. The second was hearing their companions refuse to share any of their oil. Our Christian friends will not be able to help us in the day of the Lord! They will not be able to impart to us the grace which is in their own hearts. When the foolish virgins returned from buying oil, how great must have been their disappointment to find the door shut! Yet they still entertained hope, and entreated to be admitted. The bridegroom's reply was the last, and the greatest of all the disappointments they had sustained. Those terrible words, "I know you not," cut off every hope, and consigned to eternal despair.

And what does this parable teach? To watch - that is, to prepare for the sudden return of our Lord. He will come with the rapidity of lightning, and those whom he finds unprepared, must continue forever unfit to abide in his presence. He gives notice to the world of the suddenness of his second coming by the suddenness with which he often causes the arrows of death to overtake sinners. Some are cut off so suddenly that they do not even know that they are dying. They fall down in a fit, are stunned by a blow, or dashed to pieces by a fall, before they can say, or even think, "Is this death?" Others have a short warning of their latter end; they are filled with dismay; they know not what to do; they send here and there for some minister to pray with them, but before he can arrive they expire. Few, when they are first taken ill, know that their sickness is unto death; and their last hour often comes upon them with unexpected speed.

It is the height of folly to remain satisfied with having a form of religion; for, at any moment, we may hear the cry, "The bridegroom comes." Then the unconverted will suddenly discover that they are not prepared; but the discovery will be of no use then. How important it is to ascertain now whether we are born again of the Spirit, sprinkled with the blood of Jesus Christ, and meet for the inheritance of the saints in light!

Devotional Commentary On The Gospels
by Favell Lee Mortimer ( 1802 - 1878 )

Title: The parable of the talents
Post by: nChrist on September 25, 2008, 09:43:44 PM
September 28

The parable of the talents
Matthew 25:14-30

There is one circumstance that renders this parable very remarkable; it is the last recorded as related by our Lord. The first recorded was the parable of the men who built houses, the one on the rock, and the other on the sand. There is a great resemblance between the case of the man who built his house on the sand, and the case of the servant who hid his talent in the earth. Both of them were men who heard their Lord's sayings, but who did them not. Would our Lord have selected these instances for his first and last parables, if the character described had not been common, and the error fatal? We ought therefore to give very earnest heed to the parable that has just been read, and to inquire whether the warning it contains applies to ourselves.

Our Lord had related a parable very much like it a few days before, when on his way to Jerusalem. But on that occasion he was surrounded by Pharisees as well as by his own disciples - on this occasion he had no other audience than those disciples. He always adapted his instructions to his hearers. When he spoke to the Pharisees, he introduced into the parable a description of open enemies, who said, "We will not have this man to reign over us." But when he addressed his disciples only, he omitted all mention of those enemies.

We cannot be at a loss to discover what is meant by the talents intrusted to the servants. The Lord himself explained his own meaning immediately after he had related the parable; for he then described himself as seated on the throne of his glory, and inquiring whether those who stood round him had fed his hungry saints, and visited his desolate prisoners. The talents represent opportunities of doing good. The affliction sent to one is the opportunity granted to another.

There is one point that must never be overlooked in considering this parable. For what PURPOSE was it related? Was it intended to show a sinner how he might obtain pardon? No. There are other parables which show that. Those of the prodigal son, of the two debtors, and of the good shepherd, all show that it is through God's free grace, and Christ's precious blood, that pardon is bestowed. This parable is intended to teach, not how a sinner may obtain pardon, but how a pardoned sinner may serve God.

To whom much is forgiven, the same loves much. The same also does much. How easy, how pleasant it is to serve those we love! How we conjecture their needs and anticipate their wishes! How ready we are to run a risk, or to make a sacrifice to please them! How slow we are to say that we cannot do what they desire! Difficulties may stand in the way; but they are generally overcome by a loving heart. If true believers loved their Savior more, how much more good would they do in the world! Paul declares, "The love of Christ constrains us." "Constrains" us to do what? Not to live to ourselves, but unto Him who died for us, and rose again. (2 Corinthians 5:14-15.)

We all need more of this spirit. The hypocrite has none of it. He lives to himself alone. But has the true believer enough of it? O, no! even the servant who had gained five talents will feel he has done too little for so gracious a master, when he hears the words, "Well done, good and faithful servant, enter into the joy of your Lord." He will see such a disproportion between his service and his reward, that he will be ashamed of his past negligence, and amazed at his Lord's munificence.

Devotional Commentary On The Gospels
by Favell Lee Mortimer ( 1802 - 1878 )

Title: Christ describes the last judgment
Post by: nChrist on September 25, 2008, 09:46:09 PM
September 29

Christ describes the last judgment
Matthew 25:31-46

If we had been asked what future scenes we desired most to see unveiled before our eyes, should we not have replied, "The scenes of the last day?" The splendor of the occasion will be exceedingly great; yet it is not the splendor that will render the day important, but the sentences then pronounced. Through the ages of eternity that day cannot be forgotten. The lost spirits will date from that day their final separation from God, the source of all happiness. The glorified saints will date from that day their entrance into the full enjoyment of the light of his countenance. Do we dread to hear that word "Depart?" Do we long for that word "Come?" Let us attend to the account given in this wonderful passage, of the conduct which marks the righteous and the wicked while upon earth.

Those who first listened to this description of the judgment-day were the disciples of Jesus. They all professed to love him. But did they all really love him? There was a hypocrite among the twelve. It is written of him, "Not that he cared for the poor." And are there not some now who say, "Lord, Lord," but who do not really love Jesus? If they loved him, they would love his poor brethren suffering upon earth. They would take more pleasure in relieving them, than in pampering their appetites, adorning their persons, amassing large fortunes, and giving sumptuous entertainments. Those who really love Christ are kind to the hungry, to the stranger, and to the prisoner, for his sake.

There are some who do acts of kindness, but not for his sake. Are their actions pleasing to the Lord? Can he who searches the heart, be pleased with acts of charity done from a desire to obtain human praise? Such acts shall obtain no other reward than - human praise. Can he be pleased with deeds done from feelings of kindness, but without one thought concerning himself? Such motives meet with a reward on earth, but none in heaven.

Can he be pleased with works performed with a view of gaining heaven by our own merits? Assuredly not. For he has declared that we are not saved by works of righteousness which we have done, but by the mercy of God in Jesus Christ. (Titus 3.) What should we think of a man who owed ten thousand guineas, and who, though his creditors generously offered to give him his whole debt, refused to accept the obligation, promising now and then to present a farthing as payment? Yet this is the manner in which those act who are seeking to gain admission into heaven by their good deeds.

What, then, are the motives which please the Lord? Motives of gratitude and love to him. None but pardoned sinners can love Jesus; and they love him because he first loved them. The very words that he will address to them at the last day show that he loved them first, for he will say, "Come, you blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you before the foundation of the world." God loved his children even before the world was made; even then he provided for their everlasting happiness. But did he prepare hell for the wicked? It was for devils, not for men, that hell was prepared. These are the words of the judge, "Depart, you cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels." It is their own sin, not God's purpose, that plunges men into everlasting woe. Jesus has suffered the pains of hell, that we may taste the joys of heaven. He has not said to us, "You must be mocked and spit upon; you must be scourged, and crowned with thorns; you must be crucified in order to get to heaven." No! these insults and these pangs he has suffered for us. But he has asked us to show our love to him by relieving his poor brethren. It is a small request. Can we refuse it? When we see the destitute stranger, shall we turn away? When we hear of a suffering saint, or of a poor prisoner, shall we forget to visit him? If we do, how ashamed shall we be when we see Christ coming in his glory!

Devotional Commentary On The Gospels
by Favell Lee Mortimer ( 1802 - 1878 )

Title: Judas offers to betray Christ
Post by: nChrist on September 25, 2008, 09:47:50 PM
September 30

Judas offers to betray Christ
Luke 22:1-6

Judas offers to betray Christ. We have lately contemplated our Savior sitting peacefully on Mount Olivet, surrounded by his disciples. What a different scene we now behold! It is an assembly of wicked men in Jerusalem. The high priest himself is the chief among them, and his palace is their place of meeting. It is probable that they held their consultation in the night, because in the day the high priest resided in his own chamber near the temple.

The night was a suitable season for the ripening of the designs of darkness. The murder of the Son of God was the purposed crime, but great difficulties lay in the way of its commission. The priests and scribes feared to apprehend Jesus in the day, because they expected to meet with opposition from the people; and they knew not where to find him in the night, for then he hid himself near Mount Olivet. But as God helps his children to overcome their difficulties, so Satan helps his to overcome theirs.

The entrance of Judas must have astonished the assembly! Had he come to plead for his Master? Had he come to remonstrate with his enemies? Surely the expression of his countenance must have indicated the dark purpose of his heart. He came to make the basest proposal that ever passed human lips; he came to offer to betray the best of masters. We may well believe that man could not ALONE have resolved to commit such wickedness; for though man by his fall has lost all love to his unseen Creator, he is still disposed to love those fellow-creatures who show him particular kindness. But that evil spirit who once rebelled against the God whose beauty he beheld, and whose favor he enjoyed, had filled the heart of Judas. Can Satan, then, enter the heart of man? What a dreadful truth! Is there any calamity we ought to dread so much as the entrance of this wicked spirit into our hearts? If he come and dwell in us now, there is reason to fear lest we should go and dwell with him hereafter.

And how did the priests receive the base proposal of the false apostle? Were they filled with horror? Did they tremble at the traitor's words? It is written, "They were glad." Hell also was glad. How dreadful it is for men to rejoice with devils, and yet those who are glad at wickedness may feel assured that their joy is shared by the spirits beneath.

And what reward did Judas hope to obtain for his treachery? Thirty pieces of silver; a sum equal to three pounds fifteen shillings of our money. It was the price of a slave. It was the sum that the Jewish law sentenced those to pay who killed a slave by accident. How small are the bribes for which men will commit sin! When Satan attempted to entice the Son of God, he offered him all the kingdoms of the world. But he does not think it necessary to offer so great a bribe to sinful man. He finds that he can seduce him to commit wickedness by insignificant rewards. One morsel of meat was sufficient to induce Esau to sell his birthright. But does Satan really give even the reward he promises? No! it is seldom that sinners enjoy what they expected. Judas indeed obtained the thirty pieces of silver, but did he enjoy them?

It will rack the spirits of sinners in hell to calculate their losses and their gains. Even in this world the gains of sin are very small - even in this world the losses of sin are very great; but in the next world there is no gain left to the sinner; the laughter is all past, the sorrow alone remains. The shadow of his former pleasures will soon fade before his weeping eyes; the cheat of Satan will stare him in the face; the father of lies will be there to upbraid him with his folly, and the sight of heaven shining afar off will add to the tortures of his remorse. But though convinced of his error, the prodigal will not be able to arise and return to his God, and say, "I have sinned against heaven, and in your sight." No, the chains of darkness will fix him forever in his dismal prison, and the great gulf will separate him from all that is holy, and glorious, and blessed.

Devotional Commentary On The Gospels
by Favell Lee Mortimer ( 1802 - 1878 )

Title: Peter and John prepare the Passover
Post by: nChrist on October 01, 2008, 08:11:02 PM
Devotional Commentary On The Gospels
by Favell Lee Mortimer ( 1802 - 1878 )

October 1

Peter and John prepare the Passover
Luke 22:7-13

The day before his death seems to have been by the Savior passed in holy retirement near Mount Olivet. How different were the scenes of the next day! scenes of tumult and uproar, scenes of barbarity and blood! A sweet season of refreshment was enjoyed by the Lord and his disciples before those horrors were perpetrated. How often God grants such a season to his children before he exposes them to the wintry storm and tempest!

The passover was always eaten in Jerusalem. It was unlawful to kill the lamb in any other place than in the temple, or to eat it anywhere but in the holy city. The Jews at this day having no temple, cannot partake of the paschal lamb. When they celebrate the passover, they cause the shoulder bone of a lamb to be placed on the table instead of the animal itself. Many thousands flocked to Jerusalem in olden times to keep the feast. The citizens were kind to their brethren on those occasions, opened their doors, and received freely all who pleased to come; so that no man could say to his friend, "I have not found a fire to roast the lamb with, nor a bed to rest in."

With what holy awe the two apostles must have beheld the man carrying a pitcher, of whom their Master had spoken! Here was a fresh display of his omniscience. Though Jesus has not foretold the circumstances of our lives, we are persuaded that he knows them all, both small and great. If he did not appoint the small incidents of our lives, he could not rule the great events, because small incidents give rise to great events. Jesus knew the exact moment when the man bearing a pitcher would be walking near the entrance of Jerusalem; and he knows what we shall be doing at this moment tomorrow, and ten years hence. He knows whom we shall meet today, if we go out, and who will come to see us, if we stay at home. He not only knows these circumstances, but he will, if we love him, so order them that they shall work together for our good; "for all things work together for good to them that love God." (Romans 8:28.)

How blessed are we if we have committed ourselves, and all we possess, into his hands! Then we need feel no anxiety about the future, for the Lord will provide. At the very moment we need a friend, he will raise one up. There is no request too small for him to regard, nor too great for him to grant. The people of God, especially his aged servants, can relate wonderful histories of his power and truth. They can tell how in their perplexity they were directed, and in their extremity relieved. Had their friends been miraculously informed of the particulars of their cases, they could not have afforded them more suitable or opportune help. At the exact time they needed the supply, the exact sum they required has been sent, and often by the hand of one who knew nothing of their distresses. But the God, who answered the prayer of Abraham's servant, who led Rebekah to the well, and inclined her to utter the very words that servant had asked that she might say, still listens to his people's prayers, and still condescends to give them the request of their lips. "O taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the man that trusts in him. O fear the Lord, you his saints, for there is no lack to them that fear him." (Psalms 34:8-9.)

Title: Christ gives the cup before supper
Post by: nChrist on October 01, 2008, 08:12:20 PM
Devotional Commentary On The Gospels
by Favell Lee Mortimer ( 1802 - 1878 )

October 2

Christ gives the cup before supper
Luke 22:14-18

We are too apt to forget that each action of our life will at some period be performed for the last time. It often appears as if we shall continue forever to tread certain rounds of duties or enjoyments; but this appearance is false. As there was a first time of going to the house of God, so there will be a last. Perhaps we can remember the first time - but we cannot foresee the last. It is most probable that when the last time arrives, we shall not be aware of it. As there was a time when our infant lips first pronounced the name of Jesus, so there will be a time when our lips will utter it for the last time on earth. How many happy souls have departed this life, saying, "Come, Lord Jesus, come quickly!"

Some of us, perhaps, can look back upon the time when we first approached the table of the Lord to eat the bread and drink the wine. If we came with a formal spirit - because others came - because we thought it right to come - because our friends expected us to come, there is no sweetness in the remembrance of that time. But if we came as contrite sinners to a bleeding Savior, then we desire never to forget the blessed season. There will be a last time for partaking of the holy communion; it may be in the sanctuary; it may be in the dying chamber. Whenever it arrives may it find us in the same loving spirit in which our blessed Lord sat down with his twelve apostles to partake of his last passover!

Though he knew that one of these apostles would soon deny him, and that all would forsake him, yet his heart lingered over them with inexpressible tenderness. What fervent affection is implied in the words, "With desire have I desired to eat this passover with you before I suffer!" Though death was to follow, yet this feast of love was an object of desire to the Savior.

A cup of red wine was usually drunk before the passover was eaten. This cup Jesus took, and said to his disciples, "Take this, and divide it among yourselves." By desiring them to drink out of the same cup, he instructed them to love one another, even as he had loved them. There was another cup which he gave after supper, saying, "This is my blood." The first cup was given before supper.

When the Lord partook of this passover, his heart was bowed down with sorrow. There is an hour approaching when He will rejoice with his people. In the day of his trouble he spoke of that hour, for he said, "I will not drink of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God shall come." If he desired so earnestly to partake of the passover before he suffered, how much more must he desire to eat and drink with his people in the kingdom of God! No last time will ever come to that feast, no parting will then be near, no sin will then be feared, no tear will then be shed. Are we meet for the inheritance of the saints in light? All who approach the table of the Lord now, will not surround it hereafter.

The heart must be prepared for heavenly joys; it must be broken by a sense of sin; it must be bound up by a living faith. Christ alone can prepare us to sit with him at his table. He is now preparing the feast, and preparing the guests - and at the appointed time he will come and say, "Eat, O friends; drink, yes, drink abundantly, O beloved." (Son_5:1.)

Title: Christ washes his disciples' feet
Post by: nChrist on October 01, 2008, 08:14:03 PM
Devotional Commentary On The Gospels
by Favell Lee Mortimer ( 1802 - 1878 )

October 3

Christ washes his disciples' feet
John 13:1-17

The apostle Paul might well say, "I beseech you by the meekness and gentleness of Christ." (2 Corinthians 10:1.) Jesus knew that the feet he washed would flee from him that very night, and leave him alone in his troubles; but offences could not quench his love.

When afterwards Peter had denied his Lord, it must have been a comfort to him, in the midst of his bitter tears, to remember what the Lord had said to him as he washed his feet. He had said that Peter was already washed from his sins, and that he needed only to have his feet washed. This is the state of every true believer. He has been washed in the Savior's blood, but still he needs continually to wash his feet; for as he walks in this world he defiles them by sin. Every day he has occasion to say, "Forgive me my trespasses." Whatever sins we have committed, we should go instantly to Jesus to be washed. We need not fear to go to this condescending, this loving Master. "If any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, even Jesus Christ the righteous." He who now lives to make intercession, is the same tender Savior who once took a towel and girded himself, who "poured water into a basin, and began to wash the disciples' feet, and to wipe them with the towel with which he was girded."

But by this action Jesus intended not only to teach his disciples what he had done for them, but also what they ought to do for each other. When he sat down again, he plainly said, "You ought to wash one another's feet."

How apt we are to think that it is degrading to perform lowly offices! yet nothing can degrade us but sin. Angels in heaven are not too proud to serve the saints on earth. "Are they not all ministering spirits, sent forth to minister to them who shall be heirs of salvation?" (Hebrews 1.)

A holy woman, belonging to a wealthy family, often repeated the following lines, because they expressed the fondest desires of her heart - 

O that the Lord would count me meet
To wash his dear disciples' feet,
To share the grace to angels given,
And serve the royal heirs of heaven."

Her life proved that her words were sincere. The destitute orphan and the helpless cripple found a home beneath her roof.

But how different is any condescension that man can show, from the condescension the Son of God displayed! Creatures are only raised a very small degree above their fellows; and even that small distinction will exist for a very little while. At the present moment, in the sight of God, all men are equal. How unbecoming it is in any of us to lift up our hearts above our fellow-creatures! We may indeed remain in the station in which God has placed us; but we must remember that he is no respecter of people; the slave and the beggar are as precious in his sight as the king upon his throne. If we have the mind of Christ, we shall esteem it an honor to be permitted to minister to the wants of a poor saint; and we shall often think in our hearts, "This destitute creature, who now inhabits a neglected hovel, may perhaps shine more brightly than myself in the kingdom of glory."

Title: Christ foretells that one of the twelve shall betray him
Post by: nChrist on October 01, 2008, 08:15:38 PM
Devotional Commentary On The Gospels
by Favell Lee Mortimer ( 1802 - 1878 )

October 4

Christ foretells that one of the twelve shall betray him
John 13:18-22

The Lord Jesus had just given his disciples a proof of his love by washing their feet. Now he gave them a proof of his omniscience. He showed them that he knew all things, by foretelling who should betray him.

Had he intended to convince them at that moment of his wisdom, he would have revealed the past secrets of their lives, as he once had done to the woman of Samaria. He told her so much of her past life, that she said to her townsmen, "Come, see a man which told me all things that ever I did." But on this occasion he sought rather to strengthen the disciples' faith in a trying hour that was approaching. He knew that the betrayal of Judas would tend to shake their faith. He knew that they might be tempted to think - "If our Master were the Son of God, he would have known that Judas sought to betray him, and he would have hid himself in some secret retreat." Therefore he told them beforehand; as he said, "Now I tell you before it comes, that when it comes to pass, you may believe that I am he."

For the same reason he has foretold many events that are now coming to pass. He has declared, "Many shall be offended, and shall betray one another, and shall hate one another." Whenever hypocrites are detected, instead of being staggered by the discovery, we ought to be confirmed in the faith, and to think, "Did not Jesus say that there should be many who would call him Lord, but who would work iniquity?"

Can we conceive what our feelings would be, if we could foresee what would befall those around us? How would our hearts be pained by the thought, "This dear brother will languish long under a tormenting disease. This beloved sister will lose the children that are now smiling on her knees." But how much more should we be grieved, if we could foresee that some who seem to be faithful followers of Jesus would finally betray him, and perish forever. What, then, must have been the feelings of the compassionate Savior, when he looked around and beheld the face of one who would soon plunge into the depth of crime, and sink into the abyss of misery! "He was troubled in spirit, and testified, saying, Verily, verily, I say unto you, that one of you shall betray me."

He still grieves over the sorrows that he foresees. When he looks down upon us, he sees the way that we shall take. Among the guests at the sacramental table he can distinguish those who will sell their birthright, from those who will inherit his kingdom.

Those who do not love their Master, will not always follow him. Judas found it easy to walk with Jesus when an admiring throng tracked his steps; but when circumstances were altered he changed his plan, and found it more convenient to betray him. There are seasons when the way of godliness appears even to the worldly-minded a pleasant and a glorious path; but these seasons do not last. A time arrives, sooner or later, when the path becomes steep and rugged; then the unconverted man turns aside into some by-way. He goes after the world he had forsaken, and seeks for a share in its smiles. At first, perhaps, he does not leave the assemblies of the saints. Like Judas, he may be found by turns in the councils of the ungodly, and in the society of the believers. Is there any one among us who is secretly siding with Christ's enemies, while he appears to be his friend? With what compassion Jesus regards such a miserable creature! He foresees the sorrows that his sins will bring upon him. He knows what remorse will one day tear him; what despair will take hold of him!

Title: The apostles dispute concerning which shall be greatest
Post by: nChrist on October 01, 2008, 08:17:00 PM
Devotional Commentary On The Gospels
by Favell Lee Mortimer ( 1802 - 1878 )

October 5

The apostles dispute concerning which shall be greatest
Luke 22:21-30

We are not surprised that the apostles should be agitated by the thought that one of them should betray their beloved Master. But we are surprised that they should at the same time dispute who should be the greatest. Such a contest would have been sinful at any moment, but it was especially unseemly on this occasion. Their Master was going to suffer the deepest shame, and the acutest torture; his spirit was troubled, and his soul exceeding sorrowful. All his followers should have been engrossed by the desire to console him. Instead of disputing who should be greatest, they should have exhorted each other to cleave closely to their Lord in the trying hour.

How easy it is for us to perceive how they ought to have behaved! But how difficult it is for us to act as we ought to do! A desire to be great, and to be greater than others, is deeply rooted in our sinful nature. Even after we have turned to God, we are troubled by this evil propensity. We often betray it in our conversation, when we are not aware of the spirit that actuates us. We delight to dwell upon the esteem that others feel for us, to describe the exertions we have made, the plans we have suggested, and the influence we have obtained. Even when we keep silence on these subjects, because we think it unbecoming to praise ourselves, we often indulge feelings of self-complacency, and are elated when others notice and commend us. It would not be thus with us, if we were engrossed with the glory of Christ. Then we should desire only to speak of his wondrous works, and to talk of his power, and of the glory of his kingdom. If we spoke of ourselves, it would be with a view of showing his forbearance and faithfulness.

It must have grieved the Lord to hear his disciples striving for the first place in his kingdom. But he would not utter a severe rebuke when partaking with them of his last supper. He had endeavored to teach them humility by washing their feet, and he continued by the softest persuasions to impress the lesson on their hearts. But he knew that circumstances would soon teach them how unworthy they were even of the lowest place in his kingdom. That night they would all forsake him. When they saw him again after his resurrection, they disputed no more who should be greatest; for each felt that he had forfeited all claim even to the lowest place. Thus will Jesus deal with us, if we are cherishing pride in our hearts. It is wonderful to observe how he humbles his people in their own eyes. Sometimes he allows them to stumble for a moment, that they may not fall into everlasting perdition. He has reserved for them the highest honors - places at his table, and thrones in his kingdom, but he must prepare them for their exaltation by deep humiliation. He knows when they are in danger of becoming proud, and sometimes in his mercy he sends an affliction to keep them humble.

He dealt in this manner with the apostle Paul. These are the apostle's own words - "Lest I should be exalted beyond measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted beyond measure." (1 Corinthians 12:7.)

Title: The apostles inquire who shall betray their Master
Post by: nChrist on October 07, 2008, 11:41:44 PM
Devotional Commentary On The Gospels
by Favell Lee Mortimer ( 1802 - 1878 )

October 6

The apostles inquire who shall betray their Master
Matthew 26:21-25

What a sorrowful moment it was to the affectionate disciples when the Lord said, "One of you shall betray me." He himself was troubled in spirit, and they were exceeding sorrowful. Each anxiously inquired, "Is it I?" It was right in them to ask this question, rather than to say, "Is it Peter?" "Is it John?" "Is it James?" Not one was so ungenerous as to fix his suspicion upon his fellow. This is the spirit we ought to cultivate. Are we not more apt to suspect our fellows than to distrust ourselves? No doubt each of the apostles felt in his heart that he could not betray his Master, but then each believed that the Lord knew his heart better than he knew it himself - "God is greater than our hearts, and knows all things." (1Jo_3:21.) Did Judas believe that God knew all things when he asked, "Is it I?" Surely he must have hoped that he had deceived his Master as well as his fellow-disciples. But how must he have felt when he heard the answer, "You have said!" Probably it was spoken in a low voice, so that none but Judas heard the words.

But even when detected, he was not turned aside from his base purpose; for Satan had entered into him. No threatenings could terrify him; not even the words, "It would be better for that man if he had never been born." More terrible words cannot be imagined. They prove that the lost spirits can never be released from hell, for if at any period (however remote) they were to enter heaven, it would be good for them in the end that they had been born. Judas must have disbelieved this truth. Unbelief prepares the heart for committing the most appalling crimes. Satan finds no easier method of leading men captive than by filling their minds with doubts concerning God's word. He began his communion with our race by saying, "You shall not surely die."

But if Judas could not be awed by fear, could he be melted by love? No, he could behold his Lord seated at his last supper, and hear all his moving words, and still brood over his dark design. He could hear him utter this touching sentence, "With desire I have desired to eat this passover with you before I suffer;" - he could see him, girded with a towel, stooping to wash his disciples' feet - he could permit him to wash his own feet - and yet still determine to betray him into the hands of his enemies. Truly may God say of the human heart, that it is desperately wicked. The old serpent has made it his habitation, and he exerts his subtlety in keeping it in his possession. But the grace of God can change the unfeeling, deceitful heart of man. It was grace that made the other disciples so different from Judas. Did not the Lord declare this, when he said, "I speak not of you all; I know whom I have chosen?" (John 13:18.)

When we consider a wicked character, when we follow its windings, and try to fathom its depths, let us remember that we are studying our own disease. If we were attacked with any dreadful malady for which no cure was known, what should we feel in viewing the body of one who had died of that malady? We should think, "My symptoms will increase, until I am reduced to the same miserable state." Sin is a malady that naturally grows worse and worse, and ends in eternal destruction. None can stop its course, but Jesus alone. Had it not been for him, it might have been said of each of us, "It would be good for this man if he had never been born; it would be good for this woman, for this child." May God of his infinite mercy grant that the reverse may be said of each of us! Whatever afflictions we may pass through, if we keep faithful to Jesus we shall see in the end that it was good for us that we were born. The blessed Savior died, that we might have cause to rejoice forever in having been called into being.

Title: Christ gives the sop to Judas
Post by: nChrist on October 07, 2008, 11:43:25 PM
Devotional Commentary On The Gospels
by Favell Lee Mortimer ( 1802 - 1878 )

October 7

Christ gives the sop to Judas
John 13:23-30

How many incidents recorded by John alone are so interesting that we could not bear the idea of being ignorant of them! It is a touching circumstance that one of the disciples leaned his head upon the bosom of Jesus at the last supper. That disciple's name is not mentioned in this place; but we know, from other passages, that it was John. It was the custom in the East to recline upon couches at mealtimes. This custom was not always observed at common meals, but it was considered indispensable at the passover. It is true, the first passover was eaten standing, but in later times the Jews preferred the posture of lying, because they thought it was a better emblem of their freedom from toil and slavery.

Could we have conjectured (had we not heard the fact) that a sinful man should be permitted to lean his head upon the bosom of our Lord? Such condescension became him who took little children in his arms, and who permitted a weeping woman to kiss his feet. Ought we to be afraid of coming to such a Savior? Can we believe he would roughly reject us? Or rather can we conceive how graciously he would receive us, how faithfully he would cleave to us? There is no friend who would so tenderly support our aching heads when oppressed by care and sorrow, or when damp with the dews of death.

We naturally suppose that all the apostles must have considered it a high privilege to sit next the Lord. It seems probable that Judas sat on one side of him, as it was to him he gave the sop when he had dipped it. Peter seems to have occupied a more distant place, as he beckoned, instead of whispering to John, when he desired him to ask a question.

It was not sufficient for Peter to know that it was not he who should betray the Lord; he wanted to discover who it was. When John whispered, "Who is it?" the Lord did not check him for curiosity, but gave him a sign by which he discovered the traitor. It is lawful for Christians to desire to detect hypocrites. Paul exhorts them to look "diligently lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble them, and thereby many be defiled." (Hebrews 12:15.)

The token by which the traitor was distinguished was an act of friendship - dipping his morsel in the same dish with the Lord. On the Passover-table a dish was placed composed of the juice of figs and other fruits, mixed with vinegar; and into this mixture all the guests dipped their morsels of the unleavened cake before returning thanks. For the last time the Lord dipped his morsel, wrapped in bitter herbs, in such a dish - for the last time Judas did so also. Both the traitor and his Master were eating their last supper on earth. Often had they supped together; but never to all eternity would they sit again at the same table, or share the same bread. The other apostles would again eat and drink with their Lord in another manner and in another state; but Judas would hunger forever amid the famished spirits in hell.

How eager the traitor must have felt to escape from the presence of his injured Master! Jesus himself furnished him with an excuse, by saying, "That you do, do quickly." The tone was so gentle in which those words were uttered, that none conjectured they referred to a deed of murder. Judas obeyed, and did his dreadful work quickly - for Satan hurried him on to perpetrate the crime. The wicked spirit who suggested the scheme sustained him while he executed it - "After the sop Satan entered into him." Man's courage would often fail before he had performed his dark designs, if it were not for Satan's help. He strengthens the thief to encounter the darkness, and he nerves the arm of the murderer to raise the bloody knife; but when they have done his will, then he encourages them no more; then he abandons them to remorse and despair.

Title: Christ gives a new commandment
Post by: nChrist on October 07, 2008, 11:45:13 PM
Devotional Commentary On The Gospels
by Favell Lee Mortimer ( 1802 - 1878 )

October 8

Christ gives a new commandment
John 13:31-35

When the traitor had left the room, the full tide of the Savior's love began to flow out upon his disciples. Many sorrowful words had been uttered at this last supper; but in the midst of grief gleams of joy burst forth. There was holy triumph, no, even rapture, in the words, "Now is the Son of man glorified; and God is glorified in him." Why did the Lord rejoice at the speedy approach of his bitter sufferings? Because in those sufferings his own glory and his Father's glory were manifested.

Have we seen the glory of the cross? Does it appear to us a glorious way of reconciling guilty rebels to their insulted sovereign? Does it not show how God hates sin, yet loves the sinner? He hates sin so much that he would not pardon without an atonement; he loves sinners so much that he consented to give up his only Son to be that atonement. Paul did not behold the Savior expiring on his cross; but like us, he heard the touching history - and what was its effect upon his heart? The cross put out all other glory. He no longer saw any glory in exalted titles and shining thrones, in human learning, or eloquence, or even in a reputation for righteousness - all these appeared to him as dross. The cross alone seemed glorious, and he testified, saying, "God forbid that I should glory save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world." (Gal_6:14.)

But in the hour when Jesus rejoiced, he looked not only at the glory connected with his sufferings, but also at the glory of his exaltation. "If God shall be glorified in him, God shall also glorify in himself, and shall immediately glorify him." Very soon God would raise him from the dead, and exalt him to his own right hand. He longed for that glorious hour; he showed his anxiety, when he said to Judas, "What you do, do quickly." If Paul in later days had a desire to depart and to be with Christ, how much more must God's own Son have desired to depart to be with his Father! He remembered the glory he had with the Father before the world was; this glory he knew he should soon possess again at his Father's right hand. A few weeks afterwards the dying Stephen looked up, and saw him standing there. A few months afterwards the astonished Paul beheld his brightness above the brightness of the sun. A few years afterwards, and the enraptured John heard him say, "I am he who lives and was dead, and behold I am alive for evermore." Well might the prospect of such glory cheer the Savior's heart, as he sat at his last supper.

But did he forget his sorrowing disciples? O no, he turned to them with tender love, saying, "Little children, a little while am I with you." While he was with them, they had basked in his love; when he was gone how desolate would they feel! But if they should love each other as he loved them, then they would not be desolate. Therefore he said unto them, "Love one another, as I have loved you." Jesus desires that his people should be happy. This is one reason why he charges them to love each other. But he has another reason. It is his own glory. "By this shall all men know that you are my disciples, if you have love one to another." Love is the badge of Christ's disciples. Is it then so rare for men to love each other, that true believers can be known by this mark? Yes, it is even so. There is much that looks like love to be found in the world. There is natural affection - there is particular friendship - there is patriotism - there is party-spirit - but there is no love, such as Christ bore towards his disciples. There is no love of this kind to be found on earth but in the heart of a Christian. No human creature, indeed, can love as Jesus does - but his love, though very inferior in degree, may be the same in kind. Paul, the prisoner of the Lord, was filled with this love when he said, "Therefore I endure all things for the elect's sake, that they also may obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory." (2Ti_2:10.) Such love has led missionaries to leave comfortable homes to dwell among snows that never melt, or deserts that are always parched, to brave the hungry lion's roar, and to encounter the savage warrior's shriek. Such love glows in the heart of many who stand in less conspicuous places. They may be found in crowded alleys instructing ragged children, or in miserable hovels, comforting dying saints. "May the Lord make us to increase in love toward one another, and toward all men." (1 Thessalonians 3:12.)

Title: Christ foretells Peter's denial
Post by: nChrist on October 07, 2008, 11:46:47 PM
Devotional Commentary On The Gospels
by Favell Lee Mortimer ( 1802 - 1878 )

October 9

Christ foretells Peter's denial
John 13:36-38

It must have grieved all the disciples to hear their Lord say, "Where I go, you cannot come." But Peter, as usual, was the first to express his sorrow. This he did by asking the question, "Where go you?" These words were evidently uttered with deep anxiety. Jesus repeated the assurance he had before made, "Where I go, you can not follow me now;" but he added a most comforting declaration, "You shall follow me afterwards." These words must have proved a healing balm to Peter's troubled heart, when a few hours afterwards he was weeping bitterly for his base denial of his Lord. Jesus well knew how much he would require cordials for his faith in that agonizing moment; and he gave him several such cordials, both in the upper room and in the garden of Gethsemane. Had Peter's faith failed after his sin, he would have been driven to despair like Judas, and he would have perished like him. But Jesus sustained his faith by his word and Spirit, and kept him "by his power unto salvation." (1 Peter 1.)

Doubtless there are many who wish that they could obtain such a promise as Peter received, "You shall follow me afterwards." But though it is the privilege of only a few of the saints to hear such an assurance from the lips of their Master, it is the privilege of all to have the inward witness of the Spirit, for it is written, "The Spirit bears witness with our spirits that we are the children of God." Let all believers listen to his gentle voice in their souls. It is a voice not to be heard by the outward ear, but only by the inward ear of the soul or spirit, and it says, "You are mine." When the children of God hear that spiritual voice, they reply, "Father;" as it is written in the Romans, "We have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear, but the spirit of adoption, whereby we cry Abba, Father." No slave among the Jews was allowed to use the word "Abba," in speaking to his Master - but believers are not slaves, but children. Only let them beware of grieving by their sins that holy Spirit, who delights in filling their hearts with peace, and joy, and love.

Peter knew not when he should follow his Lord. He was impatient to go immediately, and inquired, "Why cannot I follow you now?" Jesus knows how long it will be before each of us will follow him to glory, (if we shall follow him,) and he knows why one must follow him soon, and another a great while later. He has appointed for each of us that length of pilgrimage that is best for us, and best for others. We are sometimes disposed to wish to alter his arrangements. When tried by lingering sickness, we are apt to cry "how long?" and when surrounded by those who look up to us for help and comfort, to cry, "O spare me before I go away." But the Lord will judge for us, and call us to himself at the right moment. Moses and Elijah, and Jonah, and Job, all desired, in times of great trouble, to die; but the Lord prolonged their lives. Peter, in the fervor of his affection, desired the same; but his request also was denied. Had he, at that time, been called to lay down his life, he would have shrunk from the trial - for far from having courage to shed his blood, he had not enough to bear a scornful look. The Lord would not bring upon him a temptation greater than he was able to bear, but only such a temptation as showed him what was in his heart, and then he made a way of escape, that he might be able to bear it.

At length Peter obtained a martyr's courage, and now he wears a martyr's crown. The time came when he fulfilled his own declaration, "I will lay down my life for your sake;" and he was stretched on a cross like his beloved Master.

Jesus now hears his people's vows of fidelity. He will try them all and prove their sincerity. In what way he will try us, at what time, we cannot tell. When the trials come, may we be found faithful. Then we shall know the truth of the promise, "Blessed is the man who endures temptation, for when (as often) he is tried he shall receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to them that love him." (James 1:12.)

Title: Christ tells Peter he has prayed for him
Post by: nChrist on October 07, 2008, 11:48:25 PM
Devotional Commentary On The Gospels
by Favell Lee Mortimer ( 1802 - 1878 )

October 10

Christ tells Peter he has prayed for him
Luke 22:31-35

What a view this passage gives us of the malice of Satan. That wicked spirit desired to have all the apostles, for Jesus said, "Satan has desired to have you," not Peter only, but the others also. No wonder that he desired to have those men who were to spread the Savior's name throughout the world. He succeeded in obtaining one of them as his prey, even Judas; but his place was afterwards filled up by another apostle (Matthias, Acts 1).

Can we doubt that Satan still desires to tempt the servants of Christ? If we are his servants, he longs to destroy us. He goes about as a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour. (1 Peter 5:8.) These words are the words of one who had himself been rescued from the jaws of the lion. It was Christ who delivered him. He knows all the designs of the enemy. When he sees any of his sheep in danger, he does not flee, but he stays to deliver them. He watched with tender care over all the apostles during their season of temptation, but especially over Peter, who seems to have been the most exposed to the enemy. He had already prayed for him; now he warns him; soon he takes him to the garden with him, and there bids him pray for himself; and even when standing before his judges, does not forget him, but turns and looks at him.

Such is the care Jesus still takes of his people. Were he less watchful, no soul would ever reach the heavenly fold. If we do not fall into some fatal sin, it is because his eye is always upon us. No little child is so dependent upon the watchfulness of its nurse, as we are upon that of Jesus.

Satan desired to sift the apostles as corn is sifted in a sieve, when it is thrown up in the air, and when the chaff is blown away. He hoped that Judas was not the only hypocrite among them; for Satan cannot search the heart. He suspected Job of being a hypocrite, but he was mistaken. He suspected Peter, but in this also he was mistaken. It seems Satan is allowed to try the saints, but these trials do them good, and make them brighter Christians afterwards. Peter loved the Lord before he denied him; but he loved him far better afterwards. "That kind upbraiding glance" could never be erased from his memory; that affectionate message, ("Tell his disciples and Peter;") that early meeting with him alone, (for he was seen by Peter or Cephas before he was seen by the twelve,) (1Co_15:5,) were tokens of forgiving grace beyond all human thought.

How it binds the hearts of believers to their Lord, to remember the various instances in which their backslidings have been healed! Is there anyone here who, like Peter, has given himself to the Lord, and who yet, like Peter, has been unfaithful? Do you not feel your heart glow with love when you think of the Lord's free forgiveness of your ungrateful wanderings? What does Jesus expect of his restored backsliders? He expects that they should strengthen their brethren. He said to Peter, "When you are converted strengthen your brethren." By the term "converted," he meant "turned back again" into the way of righteousness. David declared, after his grievous fall, "I will teach transgressors your ways, and sinners shall be converted unto you." It encourages a wanderer to return to hear another wanderer say, "The Lord has forgiven me." All the apostles must have felt afraid to meet their Lord again, after having forsaken him; but when they heard Peter say, "I did worse than you, I denied him; yet he has forgiven me; I know it by the look he has cast upon me," would they not all be strengthened by such words? We ought not to be ashamed to own our faults to our brethren; but we ought rather to take delight in magnifying the riches of Christ's forgiving love. If we have obtained mercy, why should not others also? What Jesus has done for us is a pattern of what he will do for all, who, like us, shall believe in him to life everlasting. (1Ti_1:16.)

Title: Christ prepares the apostles for approaching danger
Post by: nChrist on October 15, 2008, 12:49:03 AM
Devotional Commentary On The Gospels
by Favell Lee Mortimer ( 1802 - 1878 )

October 11

Christ prepares the apostles for approaching danger
Luke 22:35-38

The Lord deals with his people in various manners. Sometimes he causes all things to go smoothly - at other times he permits difficulties to arise. When Jacob left his father's house, he was cheered on his way by a vision of angels, and he arrived safely at his uncle's abode; but when Joseph left his home, he was assaulted by his brethren and sold as a slave into Egypt. The Lord knows when to appoint trials, and when to bestow prosperity.

Solomon knew this when he said, "To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under heaven" - that is, to every purpose of God. He then enumerates various times, "a time to kill and a time to heal, a time to weep and a time to laugh." (Ecclesiastes 3.) There were such various times in the lives of the apostles. When their Master first sent them out to preach, he desired them to make no provision for the way. He said, "Provide neither gold, nor silver, nor brass in your purses, nor bag for your journey." (Matthew 10:9-10.) They obeyed this command, and at the last supper they testified that they had lacked nothing during their journey. The disciples of Jesus can always testify that their Lord has kept his promises - not one of them has ever failed, or ever will.

On this occasion the Savior gave different directions to the apostles from those he had formerly given. He desired them to take, not only bags and purses, but even swords. Why did he give this command? To prepare them for the great troubles that were coming upon them. He knew that now few would be willing to give them food, and that many would desire to take away their lives; because their Master was soon to be crucified as a criminal. Who would favor the followers of a crucified Master? He reminded them of these words of Isaiah 53, "He was numbered with the transgressors." One of the trials the Savior endured was DISGRACE. He was put to death as a wicked man, with wicked men, and in the manner in which wicked men were put to death. The disciples of such a master ought to expect disgrace. They should not be surprised when they are insulted, reviled, and falsely accused.

But ought they to defend themselves with the sword? We know they ought not. When Peter took one of these two swords and cut off the ear of the high priest's servant, his Lord rebuked him, and said, "All those who take the sword shall perish with the sword." If Jesus had intended that his servants should fight, he would not have said that two swords were enough. The only sword that they should use is the sword that their Master wielded when attacked by the prince of darkness in the wilderness - the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. (Ephesians 6:17.)

When temptations come upon us, let us use that sword. Satan cannot resist it. Had Peter used it in that terrible night when his Lord was condemned, he would not have denied him. We know not what great temptations may soon assail us. God often makes the first part of a believer's course very smooth, because he knows his weakness, and will not try him above his strength. But an evil day will come. How shall we stand in that day? Not by our own strength. We must take unto us now the whole armor of God, the bosom-plate of righteousness, the shield of faith, the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit. When clothed in this armor, we must watch and pray, and then we shall be able to resist all the wiles of the devil. (Ephesians 6:11.)

Title: Christ ordains his holy supper
Post by: nChrist on October 15, 2008, 12:50:26 AM
Devotional Commentary On The Gospels
by Favell Lee Mortimer ( 1802 - 1878 )

October 12

Christ ordains his holy supper
Luke 22:19-20

Of all the touching words that Jesus uttered at the last supper, the most touching were these - "This is my body; this is my blood." The disciples had been unwilling to believe that he would die; but could they doubt it any longer when they heard these words, and looked upon the broken bread and the poured out wine? He would not only die, but he would die a cruel death; his body would be broken like the bread; his blood would be poured out like the wine.

Was Judas present at this scene? It is not certain whether he was there or not. He had partaken of one cup - of the cup before supper - but we know not whether he partook of the cup after supper.

No doubt it was with bitter grief that the loving disciples ate that broken bread, and drank that cup of wine. With what different feelings they partook of the ordinance the next time! When, after their Lord's resurrection, they met together to break bread, how thankful they felt for his dying love! We know not when they first met for this purpose. It must have been an interesting communion! Each must have thought, "What would have become of me if that spotless body had not been lacerated and bruised upon the cross - if that precious blood had not flowed from the pierced hands, and feet, and side!" This is the feeling of every believer when he approaches the table of his Lord.

Ever since man sinned, he has been spared only for the sake of Jesus. When Abel brought a spotless lamb and offered it on the altar, he knew that he deserved to die instead of that lamb. The blood of that lamb was a faint shadow of the blood of the Lamb of God.

What did Jesus mean when he said, "This cup is the new testament in my blood which is shed for you?" By the word "testament," he meant covenant or promise. God made a covenant with Israel in the wilderness. The blood of bulls and goats was shed to confirm the first covenant. As it is written, "Moses took the blood and sprinkled it on the people, and said, Behold the blood of the covenant." (Exodus 24:8.) From everlasting God made a covenant with his beloved Son concerning the salvation of man; but it was not fully revealed until after Christ had been crucified. His blood was shed to confirm this new covenant. It can never be shed again. But lest we should forget that it was once shed, we are commanded to drink wine at his table. And can we forget such love as Christ has shown? Yes, when he said, "Do this in remembrance of me," he knew well that we were disposed to remember everything sooner than his love.

There are only a few who even desire to remember it. Why do so many turn away from the Lord's table? Is it not because they do not love their crucified Savior? They are not ashamed or afraid to say by their actions, "We do not love him." They know he is patient - they know he is generous - they know he is forgiving - they hope he will bear their insults, and that, when he spreads his table in his Father's kingdom, he will invite them to sit down with him there. But what if he should come in a day when they do not think, and in an hour when they are not looking for him; and what if he should say, "You shall not taste of my supper; you despised the supper to which I invited you on earth, and you shall not be admitted to my supper in heaven!" But if he should forgive their ungrateful conduct, and welcome them to his heavenly table, will they not wish they had honored his sacramental board?

If grief could enter heaven, it would be felt at the remembrance, not of past trials, but of past ingratitude shown to the Lamb of God. When we feel that all our bliss was purchased by the wounded Savior, shall not we desire that we had always loved, and honored, and adored him?

Title: Christ promises his disciples to receive them into his Father's house
Post by: nChrist on October 15, 2008, 12:51:45 AM
Devotional Commentary On The Gospels
by Favell Lee Mortimer ( 1802 - 1878 )

October 13

Christ promises his disciples to receive them into his Father's house
John 14:1-3

As we read these words, let us remember in what interesting circumstances they were uttered. Jesus was conversing with his eleven apostles, in an upper room, only a few hours before his crucifixion.

There was a moment in which He himself was troubled in spirit, but now it seems that his disciples were more troubled than himself, for he undertakes to comfort them. He had made one declaration that had grieved them exceedingly; He had said, "Where I go, you cannot come." Peter had expressed his sorrow, and had obtained this sweet assurance, "You shall follow me afterwards." The other apostles must have desired to hear words like these addressed to themselves. Their desire was fully satisfied when Jesus said, "In my Father's house are many mansions. I go to prepare a place for you." There was a mansion, not for Peter only, but also for John and James, and all the apostles. And are these mansions for them alone? Does not each of us inquire, "Is there a mansion for me also?" Yes, there is not only a mansion, but a crown for everyone who loves the Lord. Hear what the apostle Paul says, "Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me in that day; and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing." (2 Timothy 4:8.) Here is hope, here is assurance, for every one who can sincerely say, "Come, Lord Jesus, come quickly."

Well might the disciples be troubled at the thought of losing such a friend as their Lord had been to them. The kindest friend we have ever known has sometimes treated us coldly, impatiently, or harshly; but Jesus had always been affectionate, sympathizing, and tender. The best friend we have ever had was subject to error and infirmity, but Jesus possessed unspotted holiness, unerring wisdom, and unblemished loveliness. In losing his presence the disciples felt that they should lose the chief joy of their existence. He knew the desire of their hearts, therefore he said, "That where I am, there you may be also." They have now tasted the fulfillment of this promise! The apostles are where Jesus is. Absent from the body they are present with the Lord.

Some who were once with us, are now with him. Would we wish to call them back? Could we make them as happy as Jesus is now making them? While we are enduring trials, exposed to temptations, and subject to sin, they rest in the mansions that he prepared for them in his Father's house. They do not desire to return to us, but they long for us to come where they are. There are mansions enough for a multitude which no man can number. Every hour some happy spirit is ascending to inhabit the place the Savior has prepared for him. The dying Stephen looked up steadfastly into heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing on the right hand of God; and as they stoned him he called upon God, saying, "Lord Jesus, receive my spirit." (Acts 7:55; Acts 7:60.)

Title: Thomas makes an inquiry
Post by: nChrist on October 15, 2008, 12:53:09 AM
Devotional Commentary On The Gospels
by Favell Lee Mortimer ( 1802 - 1878 )

October 14

Thomas makes an inquiry
John 14:4-7

How condescending it was in the Lord Jesus to permit his disciples to ask him questions! Yet he discouraged presumptuous inquiries. On this account the disciples, when they saw him conversing with the Samaritan woman, were once afraid to say, "What do you? or, why talk you with her?" But he encouraged them to ask, in a humble spirit, explanations of his doctrines.

At an early part of the conversation at the last supper, Peter interrupted his Lord by saying, "Where are you going?" The answer seems to have satisfied him, for he said soon afterwards, "I will lay down my life for your sake." By this reply, Peter showed that he believed his Master was going to die. But Thomas was not so soon satisfied as Peter. He was a man hard to be convinced, though not slow to act when convinced. It was he who on a former occasion had said, "Let us also go, that we may die with him." (John 11:16.) And it was he who, a long while afterwards, carried the gospel to the end of the world, even to the coasts of India. Even now, near Madras, his name is remembered, and the Mount of Thomas may still be seen there. It was this Thomas, this unbelieving Thomas, who now said, "Lord, we know not where you go, and how can we know the way?" His patient teacher repeated the instructions he had so often given, "I am the way, the truth, and the life." But did he reveal where he was going? Yes, for he added, "No man comes unto the Father, but by me." He was going to the Father - he was going to return to that bosom whence he came out - he had been despised and rejected of men; but he was going to Him who had said, "This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased." And was he going alone? No - had he not said, "I go to prepare a place for you?"

But he was going to do still more - to prepare a way as well as a place. Of what avail would it have been to us, if a place had been prepared, but if no way to that place had been opened? To see, afar off, those glorious mansions, and to feel there was no way by which we could attain them, would be wretchedness indeed. Yet there is no way, except through Jesus. As well might one of us hope to reach the stars, by any contrivance of our own, as to reach heaven through our own goodness, or prayers, or tears, or sufferings. When man had sinned, it was impossible that the just God could receive him as an inhabitant of his palace. What would be thought of a sovereign who should appoint some notorious murderers to be his ministers of state? How was it, then, possible that the holy God should continue to show favor to guilty rebels? But the Son of God took upon him our load of guilt, and died in our stead. Thus he became the way to his Father. Sinners may approach God through him. The great gulf that sin had made between heaven and earth, is now closed. The Son of God is the ladder by which sinners climb up into heaven. It is a useless thing to attempt to come to God in any other way than by Jesus. The men who began the tower of Babel thought they could reach the heavens, but they were mistaken. There are some who fall into a more fatal mistake. They fondly imagine that they shall be able to pile up good works enough to enable them to mount to God's throne; but they shall never succeed - while the humble believer, trusting in his Savior, shall be borne by his Almighty arm into the presence of the King of kings.

Title: Philip makes a request
Post by: nChrist on October 15, 2008, 01:04:54 AM
Devotional Commentary On The Gospels
by Favell Lee Mortimer ( 1802 - 1878 )

October 15

Philip makes a request
John 14:8-12

Philip expressed the feeling of a pious heart when he said, "Lord, show us the Father, and it suffices us." There was something in this request that must have pleased the Son of God. Love to his Father always pleased him. It grieved him to see the creatures of his Father's hand so indifferent to his name. He had beheld another scene in heaven, where every angel and every saint glows with love to his glorious Creator. But worldly men do not care for the Being who made them. Far from wishing to see Him, as Philip did, they wish to hide themselves from him. Instead of saying, "Show us the Father," they say in their hearts, "Give us corn and wine; give us favor with men; give us success in our schemes, and prosperity in our families, and - it suffices us."

But the children of God desire to see their Father's face. Philip was a child of God, and he desired to see his glorious countenance; therefore he said, "Show us the Father." Yet he ought not to have made this request. He ought to have known that Jesus was the brightness of his Father's glory. How gently the Lord reproached him for his unbelief when he said, "Have I been so long time with you, Philip, and yet have you not known me?" Three years was a long time to have familiar communion with the Son of God. Patriarchs and prophets thought themselves highly favored, when they enjoyed short and occasional interviews with their glorious Redeemer. They were more ready to acknowledge him as God than Philip was. When Jacob had wrestled with the angel, he said, "I have seen the face of God, and my life is preserved." But the apostles found it hard to believe how great their Master was! They had seen him hungry and thirsty, weary and weeping. They had even heard him talk of dying. Was it not hard to believe, that the face so marred with sorrow was the express image of the Father's? Yet they ought to have believed this, because of his words and his works.

He spoke as never man spoke; he did works that man never performed. His divine glory shone through the veil of mortal flesh. No light around his person distinguished him from other men; but the apostle John declares, "We beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father." (John 1:14.) Once, indeed, his face did shine as the sun, and his clothing was white as the light; but only once; and then only three of the apostles beheld that glorious sight. But his countenance always shone with the light of holiness, and his garments were always white with spotless purity.

When did Jesus fulfill this wonderful promise, "He who believes on me, the works that I do shall he do also, and greater works than these shall he do?" At the day of Pentecost, when the apostles, by the power of the Spirit, turned three thousand souls to God. When Jesus preached, only a few repented. Chorazin and Bethsaida, Capernaum and Jerusalem, repented not; but when the apostles preached, three thousand, by one sermon, were pierced in their hearts. (Acts 2:37-41.) What was the reason for this difference? Jesus explained the reason in these few words, "Because I go unto the Father." Since he has gone unto the Father, to sit at his right hand, multitudes have received the gifts of repentance, and of the forgiveness of sins, because he has gone there for that very purpose; as it is written, "Him has God exalted with his right hand, to be a Prince and a Savior, for to give repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins." (Acts 5:31.) Have we received these precious gifts? Has the great work been done in our souls - the work of conversion? If it has, then we shall be anxious to do great works ourselves, by saving the souls of our fellow-sinners, and snatching them as brands from the burning.

Title: Christ promises to answer his disciples' prayers
Post by: nChrist on October 15, 2008, 01:06:14 AM
Devotional Commentary On The Gospels
by Favell Lee Mortimer ( 1802 - 1878 )

October 16

Christ promises to answer his disciples' prayers
John 14:13-20

When friends are about to part, they agree together how they shall serve and please each other while separated. The Son of God was the most tender and faithful of friends. What was it he engaged to do for his disciples when about to leave them? He said, "If you shall ask anything in my name, I will do it." But what could they do for him? He said, "If you love me, keep my commandments." Jesus has not failed to fulfill his part. As soon as he was ascended up on high, his disciples asked in his name for a glorious gift, and he bestowed it. They asked for what he had promised; for, as Luther says, prayer is the reminding God of his promises. What had he promised? Another comforter, that is, another teacher. "I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another comforter, that he may abide with you forever." The apostles remembered this promise; and when they had parted from their Lord, "they all continued with one accord in prayer and supplication, with the women, and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brethren." (Acts 1:14.) Then it was that the Holy Spirit came down from heaven with a sound like a rushing mighty wind, and in appearance like cloven and flaming tongues. Peter then preached to the wondering multitude, and said, "Being by the right hand of God exalted, and having received of the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, he has shed forth this, which you now see and hear." (Acts 2:33.)

Thus Jesus fulfilled his own promise, "If you shall ask anything in my name, I will do it." But has he withdrawn that precious promise? May we not still expect its fulfillment? Assuredly we may. How many believers can witness that Jesus has heard their prayers! Sometimes we are certain that the letter we sent to a friend has been received; and why? Because we receive an answer to it. Have we never received answers to our prayers sufficient to convince us that they have been heard? Sometimes Jesus does not grant the very thing his people ask for; because he has promised only to give them good things, and sometimes, in their ignorance, they ask for things not good for them. The apostle Paul thought it would be good for him to be relieved from the thorn in his flesh - but his Savior knew it would be better for him to bear it, lest the abundant revelations he had received should exalt him above measure. Therefore when he besought the Lord three times to take it away, he received this answer - "My grace is sufficient for you." And he found it sufficient; for he was able afterwards to say, "I take pleasure in infirmities." If, then, we do not obtain the very thing we ask, let us not be discouraged. We may have asked for a stone - our heavenly Father will not give us that; but He will give us bread instead.

Christ has not forgotten what he promised to do for us. Let us not forget what he has enjoined us to do for Him. He said, "If you love me, keep my commandments." If we forget this charge, he will be released from his promise. For John says in his epistle, "Whatever we ask, we receive of him, because we keep his commandments, and do those things that are pleasing in his sight." (1 John 3:22.) What are his commandments? He had given two while sitting at supper with his disciples. One was the new commandment, "Love one another as I have loved you." The other was, "Believe in me." (John 14:1.) Jesus did not say, "Love me." He knew his disciples loved him. He even appealed to their love as a motive of obedience, saying, "If you love me, keep my commandments." Does this tender appeal touch our hearts? If we love the Lord it will be a stronger motive to obedience than the severest threatening. God threatened Adam when he said, "In the day that you eat thereof, you shall surely die." But this threatening did not deter him from eating the forbidden fruit. How many who love Jesus have been deterred from disobeying him by the tender words, "If you love me, keep my commandments!"

Title: Jude asks an explanation
Post by: nChrist on October 15, 2008, 01:07:36 AM
Devotional Commentary On The Gospels
by Favell Lee Mortimer ( 1802 - 1878 )

October 17

Jude asks an explanation
John 14:21-23

How it must have gladdened the hearts of the apostles to hear Jesus say, "I will manifest myself unto him," (that is, unto the man who loves me!) As it was the prospect of his absence that troubled them, the promise of his presence (if they believed that promise) must have cheered them. He had said before, "I will come again and receive you to myself." But he had not said when he would come again. Years might pass away before he took them to the place where he was going. But now he promises to visit those whom he left behind.

To whom did he address the promise? To those who loved him. The apostle Jude well knew that he loved him. Therefore he did not inquire, "Will you manifest yourself unto us?" But he asked, "How will you manifest yourself unto us?" It is a comfortable thing when a man's own heart assures him that he loves his Lord. Our hearts tell us that we love our children and our friends. If we really love the Lord, our hearts will tell us that we do. Yet, lest we should deceive ourselves upon so important a subject, Jesus has given us a sign by which to try our hearts. "If a man love me, he will keep my words." But who keeps the words of Jesus? If tried by this rule who shall stand? None keep them perfectly; but some do keep them in the sense that Jesus meant; for he said, speaking of his own apostles, in prayer to God, "They have kept your word." (John 17:6.) This declaration has been a great comfort to many believers. The history of the apostles shows that they did not keep their Master's words perfectly - they neither believed in him as fully, nor loved one another as warmly, as they ought. Yet still Jesus said to his Father, "They have kept your word."

When he lived upon earth the world saw him as well as his disciples; but, since he has ascended to heaven, the world have seen him no more - but those who love him do see him by faith. There are many who have experienced the truth of this promise - "My Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him." That faithful servant of God, Dr. Payson, when racked with pain upon his dying bed, declared, "It is not the prospect of heaven that makes me happy, but the sense of heaven in my own bosom." Where the Father and the Son abide, there must be heaven. While sin remains in the heart, the believer's heaven will be darkened by clouds, and shaken by storms - but when sin is utterly destroyed, there will be no more storms, and no more clouds.

The glorified saints are not only in heaven, but heaven is in them. The dawn of this heaven is in believers upon earth. Is there heaven in our souls? Do the Father and the Son make their abode with us? If they dwell not with us now, we shall not dwell with them hereafter. Remember the declaration of the apostle, "Christ in you, the hope of glory." Remember also his prayer, "That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith." (Ephesians 3:17.)

Title: Christ promises his disciples that the Holy Spirit shall teach them
Post by: nChrist on October 15, 2008, 01:08:57 AM
Devotional Commentary On The Gospels
by Favell Lee Mortimer ( 1802 - 1878 )

October 18

Christ promises his disciples that the Holy Spirit shall teach them
John 14:24-26

When about to part with a friend, we often have cause to regret that we have not profited more from his society. A child standing by the bed of a dying parent, feels the value of those instructions he shall receive no longer - of those prayers he shall never join in again. He endeavors to recall the faithful counsels, to imprint on his memory the familiar expressions, but day by day they fade away.

What must the disciples have felt at the thought of hearing the sayings of the Lord no more! They heard him declare, "He who loves me not, keeps not my sayings." They must have feared lest they should not be able even to remember them, much less to KEEP them. But Jesus knew their feelings, and he gave them a promise suited to their state. He promised that One should come who should bring to their remembrance all that he had said to them, and who should teach them many things he had not taught them. For he had treated them as children whose understandings were unripe, and had kept back many things that it would hereafter be good for them to know. These things the Holy Spirit would teach them. Did Jesus fulfill this promise? Let us look into the epistles of Peter and Jude, of James and John, and we shall find treasures of heavenly wisdom that the Holy Spirit had taught them. The very discourse which we are now reading was brought back to the memory of John by the Holy Spirit. The precious words which dropped from the Savior's lips as he sat at his last supper, did not fall to the ground; they were gathered up and reserved for our instruction. Do we feel them to be precious? Do we consider these holy words better than gold, and sweeter than honey? Or do we take more delight in a trifling song and an entertaining story, than in the words of the Son of God? The true believer can say with David, "Your word is very pure, therefore your servant loves it."

If we really love it, we may trust that the Holy Spirit will bring it to our remembrance in our time of need. In the hour of temptation he is a faithful friend, and whispers in the ear of the tempted soul such a text as this, "How can I do this great wickedness and sin against God?" In the hour of affliction the Holy Spirit brings to the desponding mind such a promise as this, "Whom the Lord loves he chastens, and scourges every son whom he receives." (Hebrews 12:6.) And in the hour of death he sustains the sinking soul by such an assurance as this, "When you pass through the waters I will be with you, and through the floods they shall not overflow you." (Isaiah 43:2.)

Title: Christ promises to give his disciples peace
Post by: nChrist on October 15, 2008, 01:10:15 AM
Devotional Commentary On The Gospels
by Favell Lee Mortimer ( 1802 - 1878 )

October 19

Christ promises to give his disciples peace
John 14:27-29

We sometimes read of a rich man dying and leaving a vast property to his heirs. But the greatest riches ever bequeathed, were bequeathed by one of the poorest of the sons of men. None was ever poorer in this world than Jesus. Yet he left his disciples the costly gift of "Peace." "Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you." This is what all the world are pursuing. They are seeking for peace and happiness. They desire an abundant earthly portion because they imagine it will confer peace. Some think that power will confer it; others that praise will impart it; while many hope to find peace in a round of amusements, in the attainment of knowledge, in the endearments of home, or in the performance of active duties. But none of these things, not even the best of them, ever bestowed peace. None has peace to bestow but Jesus. He gives it to those who love him, and to them alone. He gave it to the weeping sinner; he said to her, "Go in peace," and she went in peace. He gave it to the dying thief; he said, "Today shall you be with me in paradise," and that once guilty man died in peace. He is willing to give it to each of you. Ask him for his peace. You will obtain it. Perhaps there are some here who have obtained it already; who know they have been filled with joy and peace since they believed in the Son of God.

But when Jesus promised this rich gift to his disciples, what was going to become of him? He also was going to be happy. He was going to the Father. Who can conceive the joy which he felt when he uttered these words, "I go unto the Father." He knew what it was to be with the Father. He had been with him from the beginning, for he himself was God. When he said, "My Father is greater than I," he spoke only of the greatness of his Father's office, not of the greatness of his nature; for it is declared in other places, that Jesus is equal with God. "He thought it not robbery to be equal with God." (Philippians 2:6.) "I and my Father are one." (John 10:30.) But Jesus took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in fashion as a man. While he continued on earth he was exposed to insults; but when he returned to heaven, he sat down again with his Father on his throne.

Did it ever rejoice us to think that the Savior's sufferings are all over, and that he is "made most blessed forever?" If we loved him, this thought would comfort us under our own sorrows. It did comfort the disciples, for when they saw him carried up into heaven, they returned to Jerusalem with great joy. (Luke 24:52.) The same thought may comfort us under the loss of pious relatives. If we love them, we shall rejoice when we think that they are with the Father. When troubles overtake us, it will be soothing to reflect, "My mother is with the angels, and she can weep no more; my child is in the midst of the happy cherubs, singing praises to his God." When we ourselves are going to leave this world, may we also rejoice at the thought that we are going to the Father; and may those who love us rejoice because they know we are going there! A child of four years old, when dying, saw his parents weeping and praying around his bed. Suddenly rising up from his pillow, and stretching out his little arms, he cried out earnestly, "Let me go to God, let me go to God." Who could desire to detain him here!

Title: Christ goes forth to meet the prince of this world
Post by: nChrist on October 15, 2008, 01:11:37 AM
Devotional Commentary On The Gospels
by Favell Lee Mortimer ( 1802 - 1878 )

October 20

Christ goes forth to meet the prince of this world
John 14:30-31

It required more than human courage to utter these words, "Arise, let us go hence." It was the call of the Captain of our salvation to his children - it was their summons to accompany him to the field of battle. The last supper was now over, and the parting scene was almost closed. What tender assurances, what faithful warnings had flowed from the lips of Jesus while he sat at the table surrounded by his beloved disciples! But now he says, "Hereafter I shall not talk much with you." These sweet conversations would soon be ended. Instead of talking with his disciples, the Son of God must be struggling with his foes.

There have been many bloody battles fought since evil entered into this world. On some occasions hundreds of thousands have met each other in the field. But there never was such a battle as that fought in the garden Gethsemane, and on the cross of Calvary. There legions of wicked spirits, marshaled under the prince of this world, assaulted the Son of God. On Satan's side there was an innumerable host - on the other one man, even the man Christ Jesus. None can conceive what pangs he endured in the conflict. Agony of mind caused him to sweat great drops of blood, and wrung from him the bitter cry, "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" We find in the psalms a description of the workings of his sorrowful soul, when writhing beneath the pressure of Satan's temptations. If we would sympathize with our suffering Savior, let us read the twenty-second psalm. What expressions are these! "My heart is like wax, it is melted in the midst of my affections." What a prayer is this, "Save me from the lion's mouth!"

But how was it Satan could not prevail against the Son of God? Jesus himself explains the reason. "The prince of this world comes, and has nothing in me." There was no sin in the Savior's heart, there was nothing on which Satan could work. A marble quarry cannot be set on fire, and the Son of God was proof against temptation. Satan had once seduced spotless angels from their obedience. But there is an infinite difference between the holiness of a creature and that of the Creator. Even those creatures who have never sinned are not, like God, incapable of pollution. Therefore it is written, "He charged his angels with folly," (Job 4;) and "The heavens are not clean in his sight." (Job 15.)

But though the Son of God knew he should win the victory, he looked forward with horror to the conflict. With joy he had said, "I go unto the Father." With anguish he declared, "The prince of this world comes." Satan was coming to make a last attempt to wrench the scepter from his hands, and to snatch the crown from his head. Terrible indeed was the hour of the power of darkness.

What was the mighty motive which urged the Son of God to meet the enemy? It was love. To whom? To his Father. It was love to his Father that drew him from the table around which his disciples sat, and led him to the garden to which his enemies were hastening. Therefore he said, "But that the world may know that I love the Father, and as the Father gave me commandment, even so I do. Arise, let us go hence."

Title: Christ declares he is the true vine
Post by: nChrist on November 12, 2008, 12:36:32 AM
Devotional Commentary On The Gospels
by Favell Lee Mortimer ( 1802 - 1878 )

October 21

Christ declares he is the true vine
John 15:1-5

When Jesus uttered these words he was no longer seated at his last supper with the twelve. He had said, "Arise, let us go hence." It is recorded by Matthew, that before he left the table, he sang a hymn with his disciples. (Matthew 26:30.) It is probable that the hymn consisted of several psalms, beginning at the 113th, and ending with the 118th. They were called the Hallel, because they open with the words, "Praise the Lord." They celebrate the deliverance of Israel from the land of Egypt, and on that account were always sung at the feast of the Passover. But they also describe a greater deliverance than that from Egypt, even the deliverance of God's people from the depths of hell. Though many prophets had sung these psalms year after year at the holy feast, none had ever understood them as HE did, who sung them that night with his beloved apostles. He knew the meaning of the words, "Bind the sacrifice with cords to the horns of the altar." (Psalms 118:27.) Before the next setting sun this prophecy was fulfilled by the cry, "Crucify him, crucify him."

Now let us follow the sorrowful little band as they descended the stairs, proceeded through the dark streets of Jerusalem, and along the path that led down the valley of Kedron. It is probable that beside that stream vine-trees grew, and that our Savior pointed to those trees when he said, "I am the true vine." By the means of a plant he wished to teach his disciples this most important truth, that all their safety lay in union with himself. The branches of the vine, while united to the stem, bear precious fruit, but when cut off are worthless, and only fit for the fire. The prophet Ezekiel thus describes the vine, "Shall wood be taken thereof to do any work? Behold it is cast into the fire for fuel." (Ezekiel 15:3-4.)

The Lord was going to leave his disciples, yet he said, "Abide in me and I in you." How would they be able to do this when he would be with the Father, and they on the earth? They would abide in him by believing in him; and he would abide in them by his Spirit. This is the union which exists between the exalted Savior and all his people now upon earth. Though they see him not, they believe in him, and thus they abide in him; though he reigns in the highest heaven, he dwells in their hearts by his Spirit, and thus he dwells in them. This union is not to be seen, but the effects are to be seen. We might not be able to tell whether a branch grew upon the vine, or whether it was only skillfully fastened on it. But if we watched the tree, we should know by two signs.

The false branch would bear no fruit, and at length it would wither. False professors of religion bear no fruit. They may do what are called good works; they may be very active and charitable; they may refrain from worldly amusements, and go to religious assemblies, but they cannot love Christ or love his people for his sake. Love is the fruit. "Love is of God. Every one that loves is born of God, and knows God." If a man say, "I love God, and hates his brother, he is a liar." (1 John 4:7; 1 John 4:20.)

Those branches which do not bear fruit will at length wither. None but God can tell when. They may wither soon; they may, like Judas, fall into some open and atrocious sin, which shall unmask their characters, and cover their names with infamy. Or they may not wither until they die. Angels shall gather up the withered branches and cast them into the fire, and they shall be burned. Are we united to the true vine? To appear to belong to this vine, and not to belong to it, is to be twice dead. Jude describes false professors as "trees whose fruit withers, without fruit, twice dead, plucked up by the roots."

Title: Christ assures his disciples of his love
Post by: nChrist on November 12, 2008, 12:38:16 AM
Devotional Commentary On The Gospels
by Favell Lee Mortimer ( 1802 - 1878 )

October 22

Christ assures his disciples of his love
John 15:9-12

It is a great comfort to an affectionate child to receive from a dying parent an assurance of his love. Though he knew before that his parent loved him, yet there is a satisfaction when the time of parting approaches, to hear fresh expressions of attachment. Many failings on his own part rushing to his recollection, make him feel that he does not deserve to be loved; and he listens eagerly to the tender words which dispel his fears.

Such must have been the feelings of the disciples when their Master was going to leave them. He knew the state of their hearts, and applied the healing balm they needed. But he did not say simply, "I have loved you." He told them how much. And how much did he love them? If the Son of God had not declared it we could not have believed that his love was so very great; even the thought would have seemed the height of presumption and profaneness. "As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you." How great must be the love with which the Father has always loved his only-begotten Son, the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person! The Son speaks of this love as existing before the worlds were made. "Then I was by him, as one brought up with him; I was daily his delight, rejoicing always before him." (Proverbs 8:30.) And this is the love with which we are desired to love one another, for Christ said, "This is my commandment, that you love one another, as I have loved you." As the Father loves the Son, so the Son loves us, and so we ought to love one another. Such love does not spring up naturally in our hearts. This is the description the word of God gives of sinful men - "Hateful, and hating one another." (Titus 3:3.)

Jesus presents the strongest motives to incite us to love each other. Do we desire to continue to enjoy his love? Then we must love one another; for he says, "If you keep my commandments you shall abide in my love, even as I have kept my Father's commandments, and abide in his love." He had said before, "If you love me, keep my commandments." Then he appealed to their love for him, now he refers to his own for them. With both these silken cords he sought to bind their hearts together in the bonds of brotherly love.

He urges yet another motive. He was while on earth a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief; yet sometimes he rejoiced in spirit. It was over his disciples he rejoiced. If they desired to continue to be his joy, they must love one another. "These things have I spoken to you, that my joy might remain in you."

It is a delightful thought to give joy to the Son of God. We have caused him grief enough, and pain enough, and shame enough - and shall we cause him no joy? To see his children on earth living together in love, is his joy now he is in heaven. How must he be grieved when he sees them suspecting each other's motives, exposing each other's faults, thwarting each other's wishes, and wounding each other's feelings! Disciples who act thus cannot be the joy of the God of love - neither can they be happy themselves - their joy cannot be full. Where there is little love, there can be little joy. If heaven were not full of love, it could not be full of joy.

Let us observe our own feelings. When a dark suspicion enters our hearts - are we happy? When a revengeful feeling is kindled - are we happy? When selfishness freezes, or pride puffs us up - are we happy? But when we melt in sympathy with our suffering brethren, or glow with desire to do them good, does not our joy increase? We are being trained up here to join the multitude which no man can number. We are to love all those happy spirits. Not one is to be treated with contempt or dislike, or even with shyness and reserve. All are to be loved by us with the love with which the Father loves the Son, with which the Son loves us. Let us begin this happy life now. Let us love one another. Though there are a multitude of sins in our brethren as well as in ourselves, yet love is a mantle wide enough to cover them all.

Title: Christ calls his disciples his friends
Post by: nChrist on November 12, 2008, 12:39:48 AM
Devotional Commentary On The Gospels
by Favell Lee Mortimer ( 1802 - 1878 )

October 23

Christ calls his disciples his friends
John 15:13-16

The Lord Jesus showed more tenderness to his disciples in the last scene than he had ever shown before. Though he received them graciously at first, and treated them kindly afterwards, yet he reserved the choicest expressions of his love for the moment of parting. We never read until we come to this passage such a declaration as, "You are my friends."

This is the manner in which the Lord deals with all his people. It is in the latter stages of their pilgrimage that he makes them know most of his loving-kindness. When they are weighed down by the infirmities of age, or racked by the pains of sickness, he often lifts up the light of his countenance upon them, as he had never done before, so that their last days are their best days. Like the aged Simeon, they exclaim, "My eyes have seen your salvation;" or, like the dying Stephen, "I see the heavens opened, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God."

One of the proofs of friendship is confidence. The Lord treated his disciples with confidence. He said to them, "All things that I have heard of my Father I have made known to you." But while on his part there was confidence, he expected on their part obedience; for he did not wish them to forget he was their Father, as well as their Friend, therefore he said, "You are my friends, if you do whatever I command you." It is written in the Psalms - "The secret of the Lord is with them that fear him, and he will show them his covenant." (Psalms 25:14.) The covenant is that secret which Jesus had heard from his Father, and which he unfolds to his friends. It is the secret of his love before time began. Jesus loved his apostles before they loved him. He declared this truth to them when he said, "You have not chosen me, but I have chosen you." If he had not chosen them, they would never have desired to serve him. When Andrew with another disciple stood by John the Baptist, and heard him say, "Behold the Lamb of God, which takes away the sin of the world," they would have felt no inclination to follow that Lamb, had not Jesus first chosen them. His love was the invisible magnet that drew them after their Savior.

Christ not only chose his apostles to be his friends; he also ordained them to bear fruit. In all things he pleased not himself. He did not call them to leave their employments that they might be his companions as he walked from place to place, or his defenders when assaulted by his enemies. Angels would gladly have left their habitation to be his solace and his guard. It was not his own comfort that he sought, but his Father's glory. He appointed the apostles to bear the tidings of salvation to the ends of the world; and he promised that their labor should not be in vain. To this hour their fruit remains. On earth there are thousands rejoicing in the Gospel which the apostles preached; in heaven a multitude that no man can number. The works of worldly men who lived in the apostles' days have perished. The victories they won have conferred no lasting benefit; the buildings they reared are fallen or crumbling into ruin; the books they wrote, if they still survive, never yet made one creature happy. But the labors of the apostles can never be forgotten; the sinners they converted are saved; and at length the world, through the truths they preached, shall be made holy and happy. Let us tread in their Psalms. We also are the friends of Jesus, if we do what he commands us. We may bring forth fruit that shall never wither. Feeble as we are, Christ will not despise us. He says to us, "Be not weary in well doing; for in due season you shall reap, if you faint not." It is far better to convert one soul, than, like Columbus, to discover a continent; or, like Herschell, a planet. The fruits of science will pass away, but the fruits of grace will abide unto eternal life.

Title: Christ prepares his disciples for the world's hatred
Post by: nChrist on November 12, 2008, 12:41:07 AM
Devotional Commentary On The Gospels
by Favell Lee Mortimer ( 1802 - 1878 )

October 24

Christ prepares his disciples for the world's hatred
John 15:17-27

The Lord Jesus did not tell his disciples at the beginning of this conversation, that the world would hate them. He told them first of his own great love. After hearing of that love, they ought to be able to bear to hear that the world would hate them. For what is the hatred of the world compared to the love of Jesus! If all the creatures were to hate us, they could not harm us, while the Creator loved us.

There is another reason why we should not care for the world's hatred. It is this - the world hated Jesus; though he was perfectly lovely, they hated him. Some young Christians imagine that they can escape the hatred of the world. They think that very amiable manners, and very prudent conduct, and very benevolent actions, will prevent even wicked men disliking them. But who can be as amiable as Jesus was, or as prudent, or as benevolent? There are some called Christians who stand high in the world's esteem; but how do they win this esteem? Is it not by keeping silence when they ought to speak, by joining in amusements which they ought to shun, and by cultivating friendships which they ought to renounce? Why did the world hate Jesus? He has told us the reason. Because he testified that its works were evil. (John 7:7.) We ought to do the same. The apostle Paul says, "Have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them." (Ephesians 5:11.) There may be occasions in which we cannot reprove in words; but we should never, even by a smile, seem to approve wicked actions or discourse.

It is a comfort to the faithful Christian to think that he shares in his Master's reproach. It was a comfort to the Son of God to know that he was hated for his Father's sake. He said, "The reproaches of them that reproached you, have fallen upon me." (Romans 15:3.) He was the express image of his Father, and the world did not admire that image. The disciples of Jesus are not his express image; but they bear some likeness to him, and even that likeness, faint as it is, the world abhors. How astonished angels must be to see him whom they adore, despised by men! No sin that man commits can be compared to the sin of hating God. If they hated him because they did not know him, their guilt would not be so great; but they hate him the more, the more they know him. The missionaries in Africa have been struck with this singular fact. Distant tribes show more desire to hear the Gospel than the tribes that lie near the missionary station. And why? Because the tribes that lie near know better what Christianity is, how pure, how peaceable, how gentle. Their wicked hearts turn from such a religion; they prefer their own cruel practices, and unholy customs, to the loving and pure doctrines of the Gospel. The carnal mind is still enmity against God. If the Son of God were again to descend to this world, and if, clad in a humble garb, he were to visit this country, he would again be despised and rejected. Do we feel that we should not despise him? Let us inquire what proof we give that we should not. Do we love his servants, whoever they are, and wherever we find them? And is it for their holiness we love them? If we prefer a real Christian, though unlearned, unpolished, unpleasing, to the most eloquent, agreeable, and accomplished worldly person, then we have reason to hope that we actually do love Jesus.

Title: Christ prepares his disciples for afflictions
Post by: nChrist on November 12, 2008, 12:42:46 AM
Devotional Commentary On The Gospels
by Favell Lee Mortimer ( 1802 - 1878 )

October 25

Christ prepares his disciples for afflictions
John 16:1-4

None of us know what particular afflictions we shall be called to endure. The Lord Jesus was the only man who knew all things that would befall him. Even the apostle Paul, who was a prophet, said, "Now behold I go bound in the spirit unto Jerusalem, not knowing the things that shall befall me there." (Acts 20:22.) Yet God has sometimes revealed to men a few of the future events of their lives. He told David that he would sit upon a throne, and afterwards he predicted that the sword would never depart from his house. He has wise reasons for spreading a thick curtain over the future, and he has wise reasons for sometimes lifting up a little corner of the curtain and permitting men to have a glimpse into his counsels.

The Lord Jesus thought fit to tell the disciples some events that would happen to them. He said, "They shall put you out of the synagogue; yes, the time is coming, that whoever kills you will think he does God service." What was his reason for acquainting them with these afflictions? He himself states the reason - "These things have I spoken unto you that you should not be offended," or made to stumble. There is a strong temptation in times of great affliction to distrust God. It is very hard when he smites us, to believe that he loves us. When we are prosperous and happy, then it is easy to say, "As many as he loves he rebukes and chastens." It is easy then to believe, or to think we believe, that he does not willingly grieve or afflict the children of men. But when pining in a dungeon, or threatened with the stake, then it is hard not to imagine that God has forgotten to be gracious. When Satan desired to deprive Job of all his comforts, he knew how much that faithful man would be tempted to speak against his God. Those who have experienced sore afflictions can remember the struggle in their hearts at such times. Jesus knew the weakness of his disciples - he knew what they would feel when cast out of the synagogues, and sentenced to die a cruel death. Therefore he prepared them for these trials, that when they were afflicted they might think, "These are no strange things that have come upon us; our Lord told us before that they would happen."

Some years ago a Malagassy woman was persecuted cruelly by the queen of Madagascar. For five months she was shut up in an iron cage that prevented her from moving a limb, and for a long while she wandered in the forests, living upon wild roots, to escape the spear of the executioner. Afterwards, when in England, she was asked whether she was surprised at these trials. She replied, "O no, I had read in the word of God that 'we should suffer tribulation,' and I expected trials to come."

Title: Christ promises to send the Comforter to reprove the world
Post by: nChrist on November 12, 2008, 12:44:06 AM
Devotional Commentary On The Gospels
by Favell Lee Mortimer ( 1802 - 1878 )

October 26

Christ promises to send the Comforter to reprove the world
John 16:5-11

Why did the Lord Jesus say to his disciples, "None of you asks me, Where are you going?" Had they not asked him already, and had he not told them that he was going to his Father? Many times he had said, "I go unto the Father." Yet the apostles continued to mourn as if their Master had been going to an enemy instead of to his Father - as if he had been going where they could never come, and where he would never return - as if he had been going where he could not hear their prayers, or send them help in trouble. Do we not often mourn as if we had no merciful Mediator to present our prayers to the Father - no Almighty Savior to send us support from on high? The Lord gently reproved his disciples for their excessive sorrow, saying, "Because I have said these things unto you, sorrow has filled your heart."

Afterwards he continued to make them comforting promises. One of these promises was that he would send the Holy Spirit. He had before told them of many blessings that the Holy Spirit would confer on THEM - he now tells them what he would do for the world. He would reprove (or convince) the world of three things - sin - righteousness - and judgment. The world were not yet convinced of these things. If they had been, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.

The world did not know that it was a sin not to believe in Jesus. They did not know that the righteousness of Christ atoned for the unrighteousness of men, and that his ascension to his Father proved that his offering had been accepted. They did not know that Satan, the prince of this world, was judged when Jesus, the Prince of life, expired on the cross.

And did the world ever know these things? Three thousand of the world were convinced of sin, righteousness, and judgment, when Peter preached his first sermon. When they flocked around the apostles, anxiously asking, "What shall we do?" then did our Savior's promise begin to be fulfilled.

Since that time many thousands of the children of this world have been pierced in their hearts by the power of the Holy Spirit, and they also have asked, "What shall we do?" Have we ever asked this question? Are we convinced of sin, of righteousness, and of judgment? It is only those whom the Spirit has taught who feel unbelief to be a great sin. It is only they who desire to be found in the righteousness of Christ. It is only they who rejoice that the prince of this world has been overcome. We were all ignorant of these things once. If we understand them now, a great change must have taken place in our hearts. It was the Holy Spirit who wrought that change, who taught us to mourn for sin, to believe in Christ, and to resist Satan. Have we come as penitents to Christ? As believers let us cleave to him. As conquerors we shall reign with him.

Title: Christ promises to send the Spirit to teach the disciples
Post by: nChrist on November 12, 2008, 12:46:09 AM
Devotional Commentary On The Gospels
by Favell Lee Mortimer ( 1802 - 1878 )

October 27

Christ promises to send the Spirit to teach the disciples

John 16:12-15

The Lord Jesus knew that this was his last conversation with his disciples before his death. He had said to them, while sitting at the supper-table, "Hereafter I will not talk much with you." But if he had had more time for discourse, he could not have taught them all he wished. And why not? Because their hearts were not in a fit state to receive all his instructions. The disciples were only babes in Christ, and they had need of milk, and not of meat. They had shown, a few hours ago, that they were only babes, for even at the last supper there had been a strife among those who should be the greatest. Christians who have grown much in grace do not desire to be exalted above their brethren.

The disciples must have been grieved when they heard their Master say, "I have yet many things to say unto you, but you cannot bear them now." They must have been grieved to find they lost many sweet disclosures of grace from the lips of the Son of God himself. There were many precious truths in their Lord's heart, which he would have communicated to his beloved children had they been able to receive them. If we would grow in the knowledge of the truth, we must lay aside all malice, and envies, and evil-speakings; for these sinful passions clog up the soul, and prevent the entrance of the truth.

In this farewell discourse the sympathizing Savior never dwelt long upon any sorrowful topic, for it appears to have been his great desire to comfort his disciples. It was to comfort them he spoke of the coming of this Spirit, and of all the benefits he would confer. He made three promises concerning the Spirit. "He will guide you into all truth." "He will show you things to come." "He shall glorify me," that is, he will show you my glory. The writings of the apostles prove that the Lord fulfilled these promises.

In their epistles, (as in the whole Bible,) we find truth, without any admixture of error. In them we are told of "things to come." What a description the apostle Peter gives, in his second epistle, of the burning up of the world! and what wonderful scenes are opened to our eyes in the Revelation granted to the apostle John! In the epistles we see the accomplishment of the promise, "He shall glorify me." Three of the apostles had seen the glory of Christ on the mount of transfiguration. But there is a glory which cannot be seen by human eyes. The Spirit reveals this glory to the souls of all true believers, as the apostle Paul declares, "But we all, with open face, beholding, as in a glass, the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image, from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord." (2 Corinthians 3:18.) Unbelief is the veil that hides the glory from the heart - but when the Holy Spirit, by his might, takes away this veil, then the glory of Christ shines into the inmost soul, true believers look with open or unveiled face into the gospel glass, (or mirror,) and behold the glory of the Son of God. At first they see it very dimly - but they are changed into the same image from glory to glory. They grow in the knowledge of Christ. Let not those be cast down who have only just begun to seek Christ. Perhaps now you often say with tears, "Help my unbelief." Perhaps now you feel that these words concerning Jesus do not apply to you. "In whom, though now you see him not, yet believing, you rejoice with joy unspeakable, and full of glory." (1 Peter 1:8.) Pray that the Holy Spirit may enlighten your eyes, that you may by faith behold the glory of Christ - of that "High Priest who is set on the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens." (Hebrews 8:1.) Earth contains no glory like his. Why has the heavenly city no need of the sun or moon to shine in it? Because "the glory of God lightens it, and the Lamb is the light thereof." (Revelation 21:23.)

Title: The disciples cannot understand their Lord
Post by: nChrist on November 12, 2008, 12:48:04 AM
Devotional Commentary On The Gospels
by Favell Lee Mortimer ( 1802 - 1878 )

October 28

The disciples cannot understand their Lord
John 16:16-22

The disciples cannot understand their Lord As the disciples accompanied their Master towards the garden of Gethsemane, they suffered much from the perplexity they felt. They saw they were going to be separated from their heavenly Friend; but they could not tell by what means, or for how long a time. When he said, "I go to my Father, and you see me no more," then it seemed that the separation would be long; but when he said, "A little while, and you shall see me," then it seemed that it would be short. Why did they not ask their Lord to explain his words? Four times in the course of this conversation they had ventured to speak. Peter had asked, "Where are you going?" Thomas had said, "How can we know the way?" Philip had exclaimed, "Show us the Father." And Jude had inquired, "How is it that you will manifest yourself unto us?" Each of these apostles had received a gracious answer. Why did they hesitate again to apply to their condescending Lord? He had once said to all weary and heavy-laden sinners, "Learn of me, for I am meek and lowly of heart." Would he, then, refuse to teach his own beloved disciples? As they were afraid to ask him, he kindly offered to instruct them. But instead of explaining what he meant by "a little while," he described the great sorrow they would soon feel, and the great joy that would succeed. Thus he prepared them, in the tenderest manner, for his own death. He described their grief in these words, "You shall weep and lament."

It is recorded that, while their Lord lay in the grave, "they mourned and wept." (Mark 16.) Were more bitter tears ever shed, than those they shed on that occasion? Since the beginning of the world none had ever experienced so great a calamity as that they thought had befallen them. Adam and Eve must have felt acute anguish when driven out of the Garden of Eden; yet even they had a promise to sustain them - "The seed of the woman shall bruise the serpent's head." But the apostles had scarcely a spark of hope remaining. Their faith was so weak, that they could hardly believe it possible that the wounded body of their Lord should rise from the tomb. But while they were weeping, the world was rejoicing. The chief priests and scribes flattered themselves that they had gotten rid of the man they hated, and that they should hear of him no more. But how soon were the cases reversed! The disciples' sorrow was turned into joy - the world's joy into sorrow.

So also it will be when Jesus comes again. Many who laugh now will weep then; and many who mourn now will rejoice then. How would the world feel now, if they were assured that the Son of God would never return in the clouds of heaven - if they could be certain that there was no hell and no heaven! Would they not rejoice? But how would true Christians feel, if it were possible for them to know that they would never see the Son of God? Would they not feel the bitterest disappointment? Would they not feel that their highest hopes were withered? How should we feel? Would it be any disappointment to us to think we should never see Jesus? There are many who only wish to go to heaven, because they know that if they do not go there, they must go to hell. But this is not the Christian's feeling. Were all the pleasures of earth promised to him, he would not wish to live one day longer below in order to enjoy them. This is the desire of his heart and the request of his lips -

"Forever to behold him shine,
For evermore to call him mine,
And see him still before me;
Forever on his face to gaze,
And meet his full assembled rays,
While all the Father he displays
To all his saints in glory."
Collection of the Rev. W. Carus Wilson.

Title: Christ assures his disciples of his Father's love
Post by: nChrist on November 12, 2008, 12:49:38 AM
Devotional Commentary On The Gospels
by Favell Lee Mortimer ( 1802 - 1878 )

October 29

Christ assures his disciples of his Father's love
John 16:23-27

A child who has been bereft of wise and pious parents feels the loss of their counsels and of their prayers. But who ever gave such wise counsels as the Lord Jesus? Who ever offered up such fervent prayers as he did? The thought of losing his instructions and his prayers must have grieved the disciples. Whenever they were perplexed they could ask him; and even when they did not venture to ask him, he knew their difficulties, and explained the meaning of his own words. It must have cheered them to hear him say, that when he returned after his short absence they should understand him better than before. "In that day you shall ask me nothing." The word "ask" in this place means "inquire." After the resurrection Jesus no longer spoke to his disciples in proverbs, (or short mysterious sayings,) but he showed them plainly from the Father. He also opened their understanding to understand the Scriptures, (Luke 24:45,) and the Holy Spirit afterwards carried on the work that he had begun. Did the disciples fear lest they should faint in prayer, now that he who prayed for them and with them was going to leave them? Jesus gave them this encouraging promise - "Whatever you shall ask the Father in my name, he will give it you." The word "ask" here means request, and not "inquire," as in the first part of the verse. And why were they to ask in his name? Was the Father unwilling to hear them? O no, his heart is not hardened against his creatures - it does not need to be melted. Why then must we ask in the name of Jesus? Because we are sinners, and God is too holy to encourage sin; and therefore he has appointed a way by which sinners may approach him without polluting his spotless throne. That way is through the merits of his righteous Son. "He ever lives to make intercession for them who come unto God by him." (Hebrews 7:25.)

The Lord Jesus knows how apt we are to doubt the Father's love. Therefore he said to his disciples, "The Father himself loves you because you have loved me, and have believed that I came out from God." Can the disciples have continued to look sad when they heard this sweet declaration from the lips of him who knew all the secrets of the Father's heart! Everyone who loves Jesus may feel assured that the Father loves him. Even earthly parents love those who love their children. Though a person have no quality to recommend him, yet the mother's heart will be drawn towards him, if he love her child. How tenderly then must the Father of the Lord Jesus Christ love those who love his only Son!

Title: Christ foretells that all his disciples will forsake him
Post by: nChrist on November 12, 2008, 12:51:48 AM
Devotional Commentary On The Gospels
by Favell Lee Mortimer ( 1802 - 1878 )

October 30

Christ foretells that all his disciples will forsake him
John 16:28-33

What caused the disciples to exclaim, "Lo, now you speak plainly, and speak no proverb?" They had been greatly perplexed by hearing their Master say, "A little while, and you shall not see me;" nor were they relieved from their perplexity until they heard him declare, "I leave the world, and go unto the Father." They had heard him say before, "I go unto the Father," but they could not understand the declaration until he said also, "I leave the world." Perhaps they now imagined he would leave the world in a fiery chariot, as Elijah did, and that they, like Elisha, should behold his glorious ascension. And so he did at length, but first he had to pass through the darkest valley of the shadow of death ever trod by man. The disciples were especially struck by their Lord knowing their difficulties, when they had never expressed them to him. They had only inquired among themselves, "What is this that he says unto us?" Yet Jesus knew their perplexity and relieved it. Astonished at this display of his wisdom, they exclaimed, "Now we are sure that you know all things, and need not that any man should ask you; by this we believe that you came forth from God." They believed in him before, but they thought they believed more now. In this they were mistaken; their faith, though real, was as weak as ever. Warmth of feeling does not prove strength of faith. What does prove it? As fire tries gold, so temptations try faith. Abraham's faith was tried by the command to offer Isaac as a sacrifice to God, and it was found strong. Afterwards the Lord said to this eminent believer, "Now I know that you fear me, because you have not withheld your son, your only son, from me." Jonah's faith was tried by the command to preach to the men of Nineveh, and it was found weak - for he fled from the presence of the Lord.

We cannot tell what is the strength of our faith until it is tried. We may imagine that we would give up brilliant prospects or encounter great dangers for the sake of Christ, and yet when the temptation comes we may be allured by some glittering toy, or terrified by the shaking of a leaf. "Let him that thinks he stands take heed lest he fall." A trial was coming on the disciples that showed they did not believe in their Lord so firmly as they supposed. In the hour of danger they left him alone. How must they have been grieved when they heard Jesus say, "You shall be scattered every man to his own, and shall leave me alone." Surely it would cause a child of God far more sorrow to know the sins he would commit than the sufferings he would endure.

But the Lord would not end this discourse with sorrowful words. The beginning of it was, "Let not your heart be troubled." The end was, "Be of good cheer, I have overcome the world." Jesus does not promise his people a prosperous life, but he does promise them a peaceful one. He says, "In the world you shall have tribulation but in me you shall have peace." This is a mystery to the world, because they imagine that happiness arises from prosperous circumstances. It is true their happiness proceeds from nothing else; but the happiness of the people of God flows from a sense of forgiving love and a hope of eternal glory. This happiness is often greatest when earthly circumstances are the least prosperous. Therefore it is that in prison they have been heard to sing, and, even in the flames, seen to smile.

In the days of the Reformers, a husband and wife of the town of Perth, in Scotland, were condemned to die, but NOT together - that was esteemed too great a privilege. The woman took leave of her beloved partner in these words, "Husband, rejoice, for we have lived together many joyful days, but this day in which we must die ought to be most joyful unto us both, because we have joy forever. Therefore I will not bid you good-night; for we shall suddenly meet with joy in the kingdom of heaven." She was then led forth to be drowned, holding a little babe in her arms. After giving the infant into the nurse's care she sank beneath the suffocating waters. (English Martyrology, vol. 1. p. 151.)

Title: Christ begins to pray in the presence of his apostles
Post by: nChrist on November 12, 2008, 12:53:26 AM
Devotional Commentary On The Gospels
by Favell Lee Mortimer ( 1802 - 1878 )

October 31

Christ begins to pray in the presence of his apostles
John 17:1-5

The Lord Jesus often prayed with his disciples; but very few of his prayers are recorded. This is the last before his death that he offered up in their presence, and on their behalf. While they listened, they were filled with grief, for they feared it was the last. Jesus knew their feelings, and he avoided using any expressions that could increase their sorrow. When he speaks of his departure, instead of saying, "I die," he says, "I leave the world," "I go to the Father," or, "I come to you." The compassionate Savior sought to bind up the wounded hearts of his disciples. He is the tenderest of friends. If we go to Him in our troubles, we shall find him so. Many who wish to console do not know how; in attempting to bind up wounds they tear them open, but Jesus has a gentle hand, as well as a compassionate heart.

While consoling his disciples, he seems for a time to rise above his own afflictions. A little while before, at the supper-table, he was troubled in spirit; a little while after, in the garden, he was exceedingly sorrowful; but during his solemn walk from Jerusalem to Gethsemane, he appeared to be filled with thoughts of his approaching glory.

He lifted up his eyes to heaven, and said, "Father, the hour has come; glorify your Son, that your Son also may glorify you." With what feelings must he have lifted up his eyes to that heaven whence he came! He had seen its bright inhabitants, had heard its sweet songs, had breathed its pure air. O how he must have longed to take the wings of a dove, and to return to his rest! But first he must wade through a sea of sorrow. With meekness he says, "Father, the hour is come." And what is his petition - "Glorify your Son." Afterwards be repeats that petition, and enlarges it, saying, "Now, O Father, glorify me with your own self, with the glory which I had with you before the world began." (ver. 6.)

Our recollections cannot go back even to the beginning of our own short lives; but the thoughts of Jesus dwelt upon events that took place before the foundation of the world. He remembered the glory he once possessed in the bosom of the Father; he remembered the mighty reasons that caused him to leave it. His Father had entered into a covenant with Him - he had appointed him a work, and had promised him a reward. That work was the destruction of Satan. That reward was eternal life to be given to as many as the Father had given him. But had he finished the work? By faith he saw it as already finished; for though the most excruciating agonies still remained to be endured, yet he felt as if they were already past; so short the suffering appeared, and so certain the victory. And the reward would richly compensate for all the pangs of the cross. He would "see of the travail of his soul, and be satisfied." (Isaiah 53:11.) His prayer was, "Glorify your Son." The prayer will be answered through the ages of eternity, as the innumerable saints clothed in white robes with palms in their hands, cry with a loud voice, "Salvation to our God which sits upon the throne, and to THE LAMB." (Revelation 7:10.)

It was this prospect which sustained the Savior through all his sufferings. It was because of this "joy" set before him, that he "endured the cross, and despised the shame." (Hebrews 12:2.)

Title: Christ speaks to his Father of his apostles
Post by: nChrist on November 12, 2008, 12:55:12 AM
Devotional Commentary On The Gospels
by Favell Lee Mortimer ( 1802 - 1878 )

November 1

Christ speaks to his Father of his apostles
John 17:6-10

It is very touching to hear a friend praying for us. The heart of a child is moved and melted while he hears a parent describe his case, and plead for him at the footstool of divine mercy. Are there not some of us who can remember such moments? How did the disciples feel when they heard their beloved Master speak of them to his Father; for they must have known it was of them he spoke, when he said, "The men whom you gave me out of the world."

Are the apostles the only men that the Father has given to the Son? Blessed be his name, they are not. An innumerable multitude have been given to the Son, as the fruit of his infinite sufferings. Paul, in writing to the Ephesians, says, "Blessed be the God and Father of the Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ, according as he has chosen us in him before the foundation of the world." Adam and Eve, by one sinful act, gave themselves, and all their children, to Satan; and the whole human race must have perished, had not the Father given to his Son a spiritual family. And that family is a numerous one; "that the abundant grace might through the thanksgiving of many redound to the glory of God." (2 Corinthians 4:15.)

The Lord Jesus watches over the men whom the Father has given him out of the world! Who would not water the plants, or nourish the lambs, that a beloved friend had entrusted to his care! Much more would he show kindness to his friend's children if they were left to his guardianship. But no guardian was ever so watchful, no teacher so patient, no nurse so tender as Jesus ever has been to the men whom the Father has given him out of the world. During the three years that he led the apostles from place to place, he forgot his own ease, his own pleasure, his own feelings, that he might instruct, and comfort, and edify them. When he was going to leave them, he could declare to his Father that he had faithfully discharged his trust. He said, "I have manifested your name unto the men which you gave me out of the world." On the part of Jesus nothing had been lacking.

But what did Jesus say of his apostles? Did he declare to his Father how often they had doubted his power, repulsed his poor suppliants, and disputed with each other for honor and distinction? No! he said not one word against them. He was not their accuser, but their intercessor. He said, "They have kept your word; they have believed that you did send me."

Many believers, who are now cast down, would be lifted up, if they could hear the prayers that Jesus is offering up for them at his Father's right hand. While they are lamenting their sins, their Savior is speaking well of them before the throne. While they are saying, "Surely Jesus must be ashamed of us," He is saying, "I am glorified in them." If the change already wrought in their hearts brings glory to Jesus, how much more will their perfection! Could we see the diamond as it was found in the mine, we should know how to appreciate the jeweler's skill. How unlike is the dull and rough stone to the gem that shines with liquid luster in the monarch's crown! But not so unlike as the one dark, polluted, guilty soul, is to the pure and bright spirit now rejoicing in the presence of Jesus. When millions of such happy beings surround the throne, with what rapture will their Savior say, "I am glorified in them." To have rescued those souls from the pit of hell, and to have washed them from the pollution of sin, will bring more glory to Jesus than to have created the innumerable worlds that fill the boundless regions of space.

Title: Christ prays for his apostles
Post by: nChrist on November 12, 2008, 12:57:02 AM
Devotional Commentary On The Gospels
by Favell Lee Mortimer ( 1802 - 1878 )

November 2

Christ prays for his apostles
John 17:11-19

Before the Lord Jesus offered up any petition for his disciples, he presented their case to his Father. He described the desolate situation in which they would soon be left. "And now I am no more in the world, but these are in the world, and I come to you." Before we pray for our friends, it is well to consider their circumstances, and to spread them before the Lord. By doing this, we are enabled to offer up prayers suited to their needs. Our indolent minds are often content with saying, "Bless my friend, my father, and my child;" but we ought to inquire what blessing each of them appears to stand most in need of, and to ask for that.

What was the petition which the Savior made for his disciples? It was this - "Keep through your own name those whom you have given me, that they may be one, as we are." When the disciples heard this prayer, must they not have been reminded of their frequent contentions? How lately they had disputed which should be greatest! But their Lord did not ask that any of them might be made great, but that all might be kept, and be made one. God is love, and every one that loves is born of God. God cannot make his creatures happy without teaching them first to love each other. The Father answered his Son's petition, and knit the hearts of the apostles together in one. We read of no more contentions among them. During the time their Lord lay in his grave, they mingled their tears together; when he appeared to them after his resurrection, they were assembled in one room; and after he had ascended, they continued with one accord in prayers and supplications.

It is the design of Jesus that all his people shall live together forever and ever. None of them could bear the idea of not dwelling with their Lord. They must, therefore, dwell together. It is sad to think that even true believers sometimes disagree when living for a little while beneath the same roof. Ah, did they but remember that they will live forever in their Father's house, they could never harbor one unkind thought.

Jesus offered up another petition - "I pray not that you should take them out of the world, but that you should keep them from the evil." The disciples longed to be taken out of this world, now that their Master was going to leave it! But they had a great work to perform in it. They were to seek those that were lost, even as Jesus had sought them. It is natural for believers to desire to leave this world. He whom they love best has left it, and they long to be where he is. But what would become of the world, if all the servants of Christ were taken out of it? The Sabbath would return, but no faithful minister would entreat sinners to flee from the wrath to come; the Bible might be opened, but no pious friend would press the truth home upon the conscience of the heedless reader; death would come, but none would point the departing soul to Christ, or, kneeling by his bedside, would implore mercy in the last hour.

Are there any who say, "I would cheerfully remain in this world, were it not for the sin that continually harasses me?" Has the Holy Spirit taught you to hate sin? Be comforted, the Savior has prayed that you may be kept from this evil. He said, "I pray not that you should take them out of this world, but that you should keep them from the evil." Your desire was once expressed by a little child, when conversing with his playmates. The question was proposed, "What is the thing you wish for most?" Several children said they would like to have nice or pretty things. But when it came to the turn of this little boy of ten years old to speak, he said, "I wish to live without sinning." This was not a mere empty profession, for the child showed by his conduct that he hated sin.

Title: Christ prays for all who shall believe on him
Post by: nChrist on November 12, 2008, 12:58:23 AM
Devotional Commentary On The Gospels
by Favell Lee Mortimer ( 1802 - 1878 )

November 3

Christ prays for all who shall believe on him
John 17:20-26

We esteem it a privilege to hear the prayers of eminent saints, especially in their dying hours. How invaluable is the blessing we enjoy in possessing the record of this prayer of the Son of God! The apostles must have listened to each sentence with the deepest interest. Their tears may have flowed fast while their Master was praying, but those tears must have been less bitter than before. What comfort it must have given them to hear Jesus offer up this petition, "Father, I will that those whom you have given me be with me where I am!" They desired earnestly to be with him. How grieved they were, when at the supper-table they heard him say, "Where I go you cannot come." Afterwards Jesus softened the hardness of the saying by telling Peter, "Where I go, you cannot follow me now, but you shall follow me afterwards." Now they heard him pray that they might all be with him, and they saw plainly that he DESIRED to have them with him.

And was it for them alone he prayed? No! he has not left us in doubt on this subject. He said, "Neither pray I for these ALONE, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word." When he uttered this petition, he had in his thoughts every creature who ever has believed in him - who ever shall believe in him; not one so weak, so young, so lowly, as to be forgotten. The little child who in dying should lisp, with loving heart, its Savior's words, "Permit little children to come unto me;" - the diseased beggar who, as he lay on his pallet, should exclaim with lively faith, "Come, Lord Jesus;" - yes, even the condemned criminal, who on his way to the scaffold, with true penitence should smite on his bosom and say, "Lord, be merciful to me a sinner;" - each of these was remembered by the Son of God, when he said, "Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word."

And does not each of us hope that he was included in this petition? If we believe in Jesus, if we ever shall believe in him, we were included in it. And if he prayed for us then, he prays for us now; for he has never ceased to intercede for all believers. If anyone thinks in his heart, "What a comfort it would be to me to know that my Savior prayed for me," let him ask himself this question, "Do I pray for myself?" All who believe in Jesus, pray to the Father in his name. They ask for the very things that he asked for. He said, "Father, I will that they also whom you have given me be with me where I am." Is this our desire? - Is this our prayer? Do we ever ask the Father to let us live forever with him, that we may behold the glory of Jesus? There are many who desire to go to heaven that they may escape from pain and grief; but only those who believe in Jesus desire to behold his glory. And HE desires that they shall behold it, and he PRAYS that they may. Can His prayer be refused? Impossible. When Jesus shall be seated on his throne of glory, and shall survey the vast multitude of the redeemed, he will know if any one of them is missing. He has loved each, he has died for each, he has prayed for each; he could not forget ONE. He would not be satisfied, if one were absent. It may be that we have loved him but a little while, a few years, or only a few DAYS; but he loved us before the foundation of the world. Our prayers to him have been short, and feeble; but his prayers for us were offered up before we were born, and ever since we were born. While we sleep he prays; and even when we sin he prays. "He ever lives to make intercession for them that come unto God by him."

Title: The Redeemer's agony in the garden
Post by: nChrist on November 12, 2008, 01:00:08 AM
Devotional Commentary On The Gospels
by Favell Lee Mortimer ( 1802 - 1878 )

November 4

The Redeemer's agony in the garden
Luke 22:39-46

Was there ever any sight, since the beginning of the world, so wonderful, so affecting, as the Prince of life passing through the valley of the shadow of death! Can the angels have continued their songs during that dreadful night? They were deeply interested in all that befell their beloved Lord. One of their number was sent from heaven to strengthen him. What must that honored angel have felt when he approached the earth, and beheld HIM who filled heaven with his glory, lying prostrate on the ground, and bathed in his own blood! But did he attempt to persuade the Lord to renounce his purpose of saving man? Did he say, "Why suffer so much for that polluted and apostate race?" Ah, no! he strengthened him. We cannot tell what words he spoke, but we may be sure they breathed love towards fallen man, and sympathy with his suffering Lord. Perhaps he spoke of the lake of fire, into which all men must sink if the Son of God should give up the work of redemption. Or perhaps he spoke of the joys redeemed saints shall taste through eternal ages, because he would persevere in his mighty undertaking. But, more th