« PreviousContinue »
EXPOSITOEY NOTES ON SCRIPTURE LESSONS. March 1st.—Christ And The Woman Of Samaria. For Repetition.—John iv. 21—24. Reading Lesson.—John iv. 1—30.
First. Christ's Meeting With Toe Woman Of Samaria.
The Saviour, on his way from Judea, weary and thirsty, sat on the edge of a much-frequented well, to rest. His disciples had left him alone. A woman, also alone, came to that well for water. Christ regarded the meeting as a fit opportunity for doing good. He sought such opportunities, and improved them whenever they occurred. See Luke vii. 36—39. The woman was of bad repute, ver. 17, 18. Still the Saviour would seek to do her good.
God knows how to bring persons beneath the sound of the gospel. Whatever Christ in his mercy might think of, in relation to this woman, when he set out on his journey, she, when she left her house, had not thought of meeting with the blessing she did meet with. Observe Chrisfs condescension in encountering weariness and thirst in prosecution of his work of mercy. Also his unwearied assiduity in doing good.
Secondly. Christ's Conversation With The Woman Of Samaria.
The Saviour, more desirous of drawing the woman's attention to spiritual blessings than of having his own wants supplied, opened the conversation by asking a favour from her, ver. 7. Judging from something in his appearance or language that he was a Jew, she expressed surprise at his request. Jesus pitied her ignorance and prejudices, and would not be deterred by them from the design he had in view.
Notice, 1. The topics dwelt upon in this conversation. By the request he made, ver. 7, the Saviour intended to draw the woman's attention to spiritual blessings.
Hence his reference to the gift he was willing to confer. The Saviour meant the Holy Spirit. The similitude is often used in scripture, Isa. xii. 3; xxxv. 7; xliv. 3; lv. 1 ; Zech. xiv. 8, 9.
Hence also, his description of the nature of this blessing as ever satisfying, ver. 13, 14.
And hence, too, when the woman presented her request, ver. 15, without knowing what she asked for, the Saviour betook himself to a method designed to show her the sinfulness of her heart and life, and thus he indicated yet more clearly the nature of the blessing he spoke about.
Notice, 2. The slowness of the woman to receive truth. When Christ used a simple and natural figure for spiritual blessings, she took him to mean literally water; and seeing that Jesus had no bucket, and knowing that there was no other well near, she answered incredulously, and with some mingling of contemptuous unbelief, ver. 11, 12.
When the water of which Christ spoke was more fully described, ver. 14, the woman again spoke contemptuously, ver. 15. She still had no perception of what the Saviour meant, and looked no higher than to her own present gratification.
She sought to turn aside and get rid of the intimation to which the Saviour advanced next, ver. 16—18. Jesus showed that ho knew more about her than she cared to have mentioned; she started, therefore, to another topic, ver. 19, 20.
Still the Saviour pursued his one object. He wished to convince the woman of sin, and lead her to seek salvation. He therefore answered her inquiry in such a way as to further his design.
The woman became interested. Her heart was touched. She spoke of the universal expectation of the Messiah. Christ declared himself; and she was filled with wonder and joy.
In following this conversation, we learn,—The unspeakable value of spiritual blessings. The slowness of an unenlightened mind to learn about them, and to seek them. The patience and kindness with which Christ instructs. The power of his truth when once it is understood andfelt.
Thirdly. The Result Of Christ's Conversation With The Woman Of Samaria.
The last three verses of the lesson show the result of the conversation. As soon as the woman knew who Jesus was, she hastened to communicate the news to her neighbours.
She left her waterpot. Perhaps from kindness; a different feeling from that which she had had at first. Jesus and his disciples would want drink, and with that waterpot they could procure it.
She saith to the men, Come, §c. She evidently thought most of her own personal interest in what the Savigur had said. Christ's words had revealed her own character to herself,
She appealed to their judgment as to his being the Messiah, ver. 29. And if he were the Messiah, then was he worthy of their attention, and faith, and obedience.
Accordingly, many went out of the city, heard, and believed; partly from what the woman said, partly from what they themselves heard from his lips, ver. 39—42.
Practical.—1. The conviction of sinfulness and need is the first step towards spiritual welfare. 2. Christ meets all our need by his grace. 3. If we are made partakers of Christ's mercy ourselves, we shall eagerly desire that others should partake of it too.
Marcii 8tii.—The Nobleman's Son Healed.
For Repetition.—JohniT.bO—53. Beading Lesson.—John IV. 43—54.
few did. Nicodemus; this nobleman; Jairus; and a few others.
Christ was as necessary to them as to poorer people.
Neither the wealth of the nobleman, nor the relation in which he
stood to royalty, could exempt him from sorrow. His beloved child
suffered from severe fever, and the father's wealth failed to procure
the dying boy relief. The father's heart was sad. Riches cannot
make people happy.
A friend was once saying to a childless rich man, at whose window he stood gazing on a beautiful view over his grounds, that he must be happy, having so elegant a mansion in so beautiful a place. "No, sir," he said, "I am not happy, because I have no little boy to break those windows.''
This nobleman's home was full of grief, since the child was so near death.
But Jesus, who had wrought miracles, and whose fame had reached Capernaum, was in the neighbourhood. Perhaps he will pity me, the nobleman thought. At all events he would try.
To send servants, or even friends, to Jesus, was not enough. The sad father would go himself. None could feel as he did, or plead with such urgency. Nobody feels for a suffering child like a parent.
He took the journey, therefore, and as soon as he met with the Saviour, he urged his request. Some doubt mingled with his hope.
At first Jesus seemed as if not willing to listen to the request. He knew how improperly the people looked for miracles, and he would rebuke this. He knew how weak the nobleman's faith was, and it must be stronger ere the cure he desired was effected. Hence the apparent repulse. The nobleman and the people must regard the teaching of Christ more. The miracle was wrought in such a way as to awaken this attention. We should apply to Christ for mercy, every one for himself. Our application should he believing as well as earnest. Christ is gracious, though our application to him is imperfect. Christ hears prayer offered for others, as well as what we offer for ourselves.
Secondly. The Nobleman's Desire Granted.
H^ had with somo impatience wished that Jesus should go with him, thinking that the cure he desired could not be wrought otherwise. Tho Saviour's first words might have seemed a refusal of his request. "Go home," were those words in effect, "without me." What follows, however, would give him hope.
Both in tins instance and in that of the centurion, the conduct of Christ was designed to bring out the faith of the parties applying to him. "I'll come," lie said to the centurion; but that centurion's faith prompted him to reply "No, that is not needful, a word will be enough." "Go home without me," he said to the nobleman; "thy son is well," and the man believed and went.
A great change was wrought by the word and spirit of Christ on the nobleman's mind. He doubted before; he believed now. Had Christ gone as requested, his son might have died ere they reached Capernaum. Jesus healed the child at once, doing more than the father asked. His grace exceeds our desires, Ephes. iii. 20.
The man went home without the hurry that might have indicated doubt of what Jesus had said to him. It was one o'clock in the day when Christ said, Thy son liveth; it was not till the next day that bis servants met him. The words of Christ had made his heart easy, Isa. xxviii. 16.
And not only did he believe that this miracle could be wrought. He and his household thenceforth received the doctrine which Jesus taught, ver. 53. A happy household they became. Nothing more indeed is said of them in the narrative; but surely they would never forget what Christ had done for them. They would receive him as their Saviour, and love him and serve him with all their heart. Christ can do for us what we want, though he is not seen by us. Faith in his word will remove our anxieties. Christ's grace should bind our hearts to his service.
Maech 15th.—The Miraculous Draught Of Fishes. For Repetition.—Luke v. 4—6. Reading Lesson.—Luke v. 1—11. First. Christ In Peter's Boat.
The multitude who crowded around the Saviour rendered it necessary for him to have a place from which he could address them without hindrance or inconvenience. The boat of his friend Peter would be just such a place.
Jesus had, however, another object. After speaking to the multitude for a short time, therefore, he turned to Peter and desired him to go farther out to sea, that he might take a large number of fish. Jesus would thus symbolise what Peter should afterwards do. Ho was about to call upon the four men, who hitherto had lived by fishing, to leave their employment, their nets and boats, and to follow him. They would need strong faith to do this. They would require to be assured that it was possible for him to sustain them while they followed him, so that he would work a miracle to attain these purposes.
Hitherto Peter and his companions had toiled in vain. They should now succeed. Peter at once complied with the direction given him, and, with his Master on board, he would do anything 11 '■ 1J t^Aina*a. liio foitli anA oliodience.
Secondly. The Miraculous Draught Of Fishes.
By his divine power, Christ brought together, to the place where there had been none before, a large number of the finny tribe, so that the net was immediately filled. It was near breaking, and Peter and his brother had to call for help from James and Jolin. And now were seen the Saviour's power, and their own success. Both boats were filled, and at length they reached the shore in safety.
The effect on Peter was very striking. He saw at once that Jesus was more than man. He was filled with surprise. His own sinfulness rushed Upon his view. He was awe-struck at the thought of the purity and grandeur in presence of which he stood; nor would he have been able to converse with the Saviour, but for the gracious manner in which his apprehensions were calmed, ver. 10.
Thirdly. The Result Of The Miracle.
The men who saw what Jesus had done, find who heard his words in explanation, ver. 10, did not hesitate as to what they should do. Christ showed them that they were henceforth to be employed in bringing men to him. Their secular callings were to be relinquished. They were to catch men, or to bring men to Christ. They were to attend the Saviour's steps, to proclaim his word, and to bring sinners to him.
The figure by which the Saviour set forth the work of the men he called, was adapted to their circumstances and condition. He had invited the woman of Samaria by the offer of a well of living water; the fishermen of Galilee were invited by the argument that he would make them fishermen in a much more important sense than they had been fishermen hitherto.
They understood the figure. The Spirit of Christ taught them, and made them willing to comply with the call. They left all they had, and all they expected, to comply with it, ver. 11. To work for Christ would be their highest honour and their richest reward.
This miracle of Christ may be regarded,—
1. As a proof of the truth of the doctrines which Christ taught. All his miracles had this character and design. But here he had just been teaching the multitude. What he had taught does not appear in the narrative; but by showing his dominion over the inhabitants of the deep, his supernatural power would be manifested to these fishermen. They could not but believe what was so confirmed.
2. As an indication that he could easily support them while they followed him. The four men specially observing the miracle, were to abandon their vocation, and enter upon an altogether new work. They were not rich men, and could not support themselves.
^rist was not rich in worldly goods. But what doubt could they