"Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God: therefore the world knoweth us not, because it knew him not. Beloved, now are we the sons of God."
1 John 3:1-2
"Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us." Consider who we were, and what we feel ourselves to be even now when corruption is powerful in us, and you will wonder at our adoption. Yet we are called "the sons of God." What a high relationship is that of a son, and what privileges it brings! What care and tenderness the son expects from his father, and what love the father feels towards the son! But all that, and more than that, we now have through Christ. As for the temporary drawback of suffering with the elder brother, this we accept as an honour: "Therefore the world knoweth us not, because it knew him not." We are content to be unknown with him in his humiliation, for we are to be exalted with him. "Beloved, now are we the sons of God." That is easy to read, but it is not so easy to feel. How is it with your heart this morning? Are you in the lowest depths of sorrow? Does corruption rise within your spirit, and grace seem like a poor spark trampled under foot? Does your faith almost fail you? Fear not, it is neither your graces nor feelings on which you are to live: you must live simply by faith on Christ. With all these things against us, now--in the very depths of our sorrow, wherever we may be--now, as much in the valley as on the mountain, "Beloved, now are we the sons of God." "Ah, but," you say, "see how I am arrayed! my graces are not bright; my righteousness does not shine with apparent glory." But read the next: "It doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him." The Holy Spirit shall purify our minds, and divine power shall refine our bodies; then shall we see him as he is.
"There is therefore now no condemnation."
Come, my soul, think thou of this. Believing in Jesus, thou art actually and effectually cleared from guilt; thou art led out of thy prison. Thou art no more in fetters as a bond-slave; thou art delivered now from the bondage of the law; thou art freed from sin, and canst walk at large as a freeman; thy Saviour's blood has procured thy full discharge. Thou hast a right now to approach thy Father's throne. No flames of vengeance are there to scare thee now; no fiery sword; justice cannot smite the innocent. Thy disabilities are taken away: thou wast once unable to see thy Father's face: thou canst see it now. Thou couldst not speak with him: but now thou hast access with boldness. Once there was a fear of hell upon thee; but thou hast no fear of it now, for how can there be punishment for the guiltless? He who believeth is not condemned, and cannot be punished. And more than all, the privileges thou mightst have enjoyed, if thou hadst never sinned, are thine now that thou art justified. All the blessings which thou wouldst have had if thou hadst kept the law, and more, are thine, because Christ has kept it for thee. All the love and the acceptance which perfect obedience could have obtained of God, belong to thee, because Christ was perfectly obedient on thy behalf, and hath imputed all his merits to thy account, that thou mightst be exceeding rich through him, who for thy sake became exceeding poor. Oh! how great the debt of love and gratitude thou owest to thy Saviour!
"A debtor to mercy alone,
Of covenant mercy I sing;
Nor fear with thy righteousness on,
My person and offerings to bring:
The terrors of law and of God,
With me can have nothing to do;
My Saviour's obedience and blood
Hide all my transgressions from view."
Today's reading: Leviticus 14, Matthew 26:51-75 (NIV)View today's reading on Bible Gateway
Cleansing From Defiling Skin Diseases
1 The LORD said to Moses, 2 “These are the regulations for any diseased person at the time of their ceremonial cleansing, when they are brought to the priest: 3 The priest is to go outside the camp and examine them. If they have been healed of their defiling skin disease, 4 the priest shall order that two live clean birds and some cedar wood, scarlet yarn and hyssop be brought for the person to be cleansed. 5 Then the priest shall order that one of the birds be killed over fresh water in a clay pot. 6 He is then to take the live bird and dip it, together with the cedar wood, the scarlet yarn and the hyssop, into the blood of the bird that was killed over the fresh water. 7 Seven times he shall sprinkle the one to be cleansed of the defiling disease, and then pronounce them clean. After that, he is to release the live bird in the open fields.
8 “The person to be cleansed must wash their clothes, shave off all their hair and bathe with water; then they will be ceremonially clean. After this they may come into the camp, but they must stay outside their tent for seven days. 9 On the seventh day they must shave off all their hair; they must shave their head, their beard, their eyebrows and the rest of their hair. They must wash their clothes and bathe themselves with water, and they will be clean.
10 “On the eighth day they must bring two male lambs and one ewe lamb a year old, each without defect, along with three-tenths of an ephah of the finest flour mixed with olive oil for a grain offering, and one log of oil. 11 The priest who pronounces them clean shall present both the one to be cleansed and their offerings before the LORD at the entrance to the tent of meeting.
12 “Then the priest is to take one of the male lambs and offer it as a guilt offering, along with the log of oil; he shall wave them before the LORD as a wave offering. 13 He is to slaughter the lamb in the sanctuary area where the sin offering and the burnt offering are slaughtered. Like the sin offering, the guilt offering belongs to the priest; it is most holy. 14 The priest is to take some of the blood of the guilt offering and put it on the lobe of the right ear of the one to be cleansed, on the thumb of their right hand and on the big toe of their right foot. 15 The priest shall then take some of the log of oil, pour it in the palm of his own left hand, 16 dip his right forefinger into the oil in his palm, and with his finger sprinkle some of it before the LORD seven times. 17 The priest is to put some of the oil remaining in his palm on the lobe of the right ear of the one to be cleansed, on the thumb of their right hand and on the big toe of their right foot, on top of the blood of the guilt offering. 18 The rest of the oil in his palm the priest shall put on the head of the one to be cleansed and make atonement for them before the LORD.
19 “Then the priest is to sacrifice the sin offering and make atonement for the one to be cleansed from their uncleanness. After that, the priest shall slaughter the burnt offering 20 and offer it on the altar, together with the grain offering, and make atonement for them, and they will be clean.
21 “If, however, they are poor and cannot afford these, they must take one male lamb as a guilt offering to be waved to make atonement for them, together with a tenth of an ephah of the finest flour mixed with olive oil for a grain offering, a log of oil, 22 and two doves or two young pigeons, such as they can afford, one for a sin offering and the other for a burnt offering.
23 “On the eighth day they must bring them for their cleansing to the priest at the entrance to the tent of meeting, before the LORD. 24 The priest is to take the lamb for the guilt offering, together with the log of oil, and wave them before the LORD as a wave offering. 25 He shall slaughter the lamb for the guilt offering and take some of its blood and put it on the lobe of the right ear of the one to be cleansed, on the thumb of their right hand and on the big toe of their right foot. 26 The priest is to pour some of the oil into the palm of his own left hand, 27 and with his right forefinger sprinkle some of the oil from his palm seven times before the LORD. 28 Some of the oil in his palm he is to put on the same places he put the blood of the guilt offering—on the lobe of the right ear of the one to be cleansed, on the thumb of their right hand and on the big toe of their right foot. 29 The rest of the oil in his palm the priest shall put on the head of the one to be cleansed, to make atonement for them before the LORD. 30 Then he shall sacrifice the doves or the young pigeons, such as the person can afford, 31 one as a sin offering and the other as a burnt offering, together with the grain offering. In this way the priest will make atonement before the LORD on behalf of the one to be cleansed.”
32 These are the regulations for anyone who has a defiling skin disease and who cannot afford the regular offerings for their cleansing.
Cleansing From Defiling Molds
33 The LORD said to Moses and Aaron, 34 “When you enter the land of Canaan, which I am giving you as your possession, and I put a spreading mold in a house in that land, 35 the owner of the house must go and tell the priest, ‘I have seen something that looks like a defiling mold in my house.’ 36 The priest is to order the house to be emptied before he goes in to examine the mold, so that nothing in the house will be pronounced unclean. After this the priest is to go in and inspect the house. 37 He is to examine the mold on the walls, and if it has greenish or reddish depressions that appear to be deeper than the surface of the wall, 38 the priest shall go out the doorway of the house and close it up for seven days. 39 On the seventh day the priest shall return to inspect the house. If the mold has spread on the walls, 40 he is to order that the contaminated stones be torn out and thrown into an unclean place outside the town. 41 He must have all the inside walls of the house scraped and the material that is scraped off dumped into an unclean place outside the town. 42 Then they are to take other stones to replace these and take new clay and plaster the house.
43 “If the defiling mold reappears in the house after the stones have been torn out and the house scraped and plastered, 44 the priest is to go and examine it and, if the mold has spread in the house, it is a persistent defiling mold; the house is unclean. 45 It must be torn down—its stones, timbers and all the plaster—and taken out of the town to an unclean place.
46 “Anyone who goes into the house while it is closed up will be unclean till evening. 47 Anyone who sleeps or eats in the house must wash their clothes.
48 “But if the priest comes to examine it and the mold has not spread after the house has been plastered, he shall pronounce the house clean, because the defiling mold is gone. 49 To purify the house he is to take two birds and some cedar wood, scarlet yarn and hyssop. 50 He shall kill one of the birds over fresh water in a clay pot. 51 Then he is to take the cedar wood, the hyssop, the scarlet yarn and the live bird, dip them into the blood of the dead bird and the fresh water, and sprinkle the house seven times. 52 He shall purify the house with the bird’s blood, the fresh water, the live bird, the cedar wood, the hyssop and the scarlet yarn. 53 Then he is to release the live bird in the open fields outside the town. In this way he will make atonement for the house, and it will be clean.”
54 These are the regulations for any defiling skin disease, for a sore, 55 for defiling molds in fabric or in a house, 56 and for a swelling, a rash or a shiny spot, 57 to determine when something is clean or unclean.
These are the regulations for defiling skin diseases and defiling molds.
Matthew 2651 With that, one of Jesus’ companions reached for his sword, drew it out and struck the servant of the high priest, cutting off his ear.
52 “Put your sword back in its place,” Jesus said to him, “for all who draw the sword will die by the sword. 53 Do you think I cannot call on my Father, and he will at once put at my disposal more than twelve legions of angels? 54 But how then would the Scriptures be fulfilled that say it must happen in this way?”
55 In that hour Jesus said to the crowd, “Am I leading a rebellion, that you have come out with swords and clubs to capture me? Every day I sat in the temple courts teaching, and you did not arrest me. 56 But this has all taken place that the writings of the prophets might be fulfilled.” Then all the disciples deserted him and fled.
Jesus Before the Sanhedrin
57 Those who had arrested Jesus took him to Caiaphas the high priest, where the teachers of the law and the elders had assembled. 58 But Peter followed him at a distance, right up to the courtyard of the high priest. He entered and sat down with the guards to see the outcome.
59 The chief priests and the whole Sanhedrin were looking for false evidence against Jesus so that they could put him to death. 60 But they did not find any, though many false witnesses came forward.
Finally two came forward 61 and declared, “This fellow said, ‘I am able to destroy the temple of God and rebuild it in three days.’”
62 Then the high priest stood up and said to Jesus, “Are you not going to answer? What is this testimony that these men are bringing against you?” 63 But Jesus remained silent.
The high priest said to him, “I charge you under oath by the living God: Tell us if you are the Messiah, the Son of God.”
64 “You have said so,” Jesus replied. “But I say to all of you: From now on you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Mighty One and coming on the clouds of heaven.”
65 Then the high priest tore his clothes and said, “He has spoken blasphemy! Why do we need any more witnesses? Look, now you have heard the blasphemy. 66 What do you think?”
“He is worthy of death,” they answered.
67 Then they spit in his face and struck him with their fists. Others slapped him 68 and said, “Prophesy to us, Messiah. Who hit you?”
Peter Disowns Jesus
69 Now Peter was sitting out in the courtyard, and a servant girl came to him. “You also were with Jesus of Galilee,” she said.
70 But he denied it before them all. “I don’t know what you’re talking about,” he said.
71 Then he went out to the gateway, where another servant girl saw him and said to the people there, “This fellow was with Jesus of Nazareth.”
72 He denied it again, with an oath: “I don’t know the man!”
73 After a little while, those standing there went up to Peter and said, “Surely you are one of them; your accent gives you away.”
74 Then he began to call down curses, and he swore to them, “I don’t know the man!”
Immediately a rooster crowed. 75 Then Peter remembered the word Jesus had spoken: “Before the rooster crows, you will disown me three times.” And he went outside and wept bitterly.
WOMAN WHO WAS A SINNER
The Woman Who Sinned Yet Loved Much
All women since Eve, the world’s first sinner, were born in sin and sinners by birth became more or less sinners by practice. But this woman whom Jesus met in the house of Simon has the distinguishable labels, “Which was a sinner,” “She is a sinner,” “Her sins which were many.” Her doom seemed to be sealed in that word “sinner.” The simple but moving record of this disreputable woman that Luke alone gives us, compells us to say that no human imagination invented it. As Mackintosh Mackay says, “The story bears stamped on its very face the impress of Him who spake as never man spake.”
A striking aspect of the episode before us is the willingness of Jesus to fellowship with the sinful or the sole purpose of reaching their hearts with the truth. While He never sought such feasts, as the one to which Simon the Pharisee invited Jesus, He never refused them but deemed them openings for doing His Father’s work. While He never ate with sinners for any personal gratification, He was careful not to adopt a holier-than-thou attitude toward them. Separate from sinners, in respect to their original and practiced sin, He yet was willing to contact them in order to transform their lives. Thus, when invited by Simon to a dinner, Jesus graciously accepted in order to instruct him, as He did. And when a notorious female sinner tried to reach Him at the dinner, He did not refuse her admission to His presence, but graciously received tokens of her penitence and love, and commended her for her faith. If we would rescue the perishing we must be willing to go where they are.
The word used for “sinner” in connection with this city woman suggests the special sin of unchastity and that she was known among the people in her community for her sensual and hateful calling—a woman of the streets. Jesus evidently knew that “her sins were many,” implying that her prostitution was habitual, and that her illicit practices were continuous. All in Nain knew her as a woman who had rejected her virtues and her honor. She had sacrificed the white flower of a blameless life for monetary gain. Harold Begbie, in one of his volumes describing miracles of grace experienced in Salvation Army activities, tells of a prostitute who was saved from her life of sin by the gift of a flower from a female Salvationist on a London street. As the biographer puts it—
The flower was white. The idea of this whiteness pervaded her consciousness. She made a contrast of the whiteness of that flower and the spreading darkness of her own soul. She said to herself, “I was once white like this flower.” She looked at the white flower through a mist of pain and said to herself, “I wish I could be pure.” She covered her eyes with her hands, moved her face to the pillow, and wept.
As that white flower unlocked the cabinet of memory and began a spiritual process resulting in the transformation of her character, it was thus with the woman who was a sinner. She saw her degraded life in the white light of divine holiness personified in Jesus, and as she wept her tears brought her triumph over a shameful past. Coming to Simon’s house in all her guilt, afraid and ashamed to mingle with the invited guests, she flung herself at the foot of Him who said that Publicans and harlots would go into His kingdom before the self-righteous Pharisees.
There is no Biblical evidence whatever for identifying this sinful woman with Mary Magdalene or with Mary of Bethany as some commentators have done. While the first Mary is spoken of as having “seven devils,” there is no evidence that she was immoral when under demoniac influence. The conduct of the sinful woman in Simon’s house was totally different from the wild frenzy of a demoniac. As for Mary, sister of Martha, what is said of her devout spirit is strikingly adverse to that of a harlot of the streets. While “the woman which was a sinner” was probably known to the women Jesus healed of their infirmities (Luke 8:1-3), reticence as to her name both on their part and that of Luke was at once natural and considerate. That she was a woman deep-dyed in her particular kind of sin and yet found deliverance from her shameful past, confirms the truth that His blood can make the vilest clean.
Those tears of hers, evidence of her sorrow for her many sins, cleansed her vision and gave her a sight of Him who came to save sinners. Guilt produced grief. Evidently she knew all about Jesus and followed His movements. It is most likely that she had heard of His compassion for the sorrowing widow of Nain, and had listened to His parable on the prodigal son. As a prodigal daughter of Israel, drawn by the ineffable pity and tenderness of His words and looks, she, like the prodigal son said, “I will arise and go to my Father.” Brought back to God and purity, she found her way to Simon’s house where her gift and her tears revealed how much she owed the Saviour and how greatly she loved Him.
The grateful woman brought with her an alabaster box of ointment and anointed the feet of Jesus, who did not refuse such a token of her love. While it does not say that the aromatic ointment was as costly as that with which Mary anointed Jesus, we can assume that it relatively was as precious. “The lavish and luxurious use of perfumes characterized the unhappy class to which the woman belonged.” Now she brings the store she had saved to seduce men, and with it anoints Him, the purest of men. He accepted the gift and transfigured it into the devotion of a saint, thereby making the instrument of sin a symbol of penitence and she surrendered to the claims of Jesus.
Further, this transformed sinner not only anointed the feet of Jesus with ointment, but also washed them with her tears and wiped them with the flowing locks of her hair. She could not manifest stronger tokens of her sorrow for sin and of her faith in Jesus. She was looking upon the compassionate face of Him who was about to be pierced and mourned for her sin (Zechariah 12:10 ). As Jesus reclined on a couch, the woman, modestly, and without attracting the notice of assembled guests, recognized by her tears and perfume the august character of the One who had raised her from the dunghill. Those sobs and the deed at Jesus' feet revealed the woman as having a sympathetic and fervent character. She was not too hardened in her sin as to be incapable of tears. In this she was so different from the cold, calculated attitude of the unsympathetic Simon who witnessed the woman’s expression of gratitude and devotion. The different emotions of shame, penitence, joy, praise, love, found natural relief in her tears, ointment and kiss.
What a study of contrasts we have in the attitude of the sinful woman and Simon the Pharisee! How incensed Simon was over the way Jesus allowed such extravagant attention from such a woman of illrepute! Expressing his irritation and disapproval over the Saviour’s countenance of the woman’s gift of tears and perfume, he received his just rebuke for his lack of a sympathetic understanding of the situation. Because of the Pharisee’s cold, austere, love-less manner, the woman knew she could not approach him for he would despise and dismiss her. But with a revelation of the Saviour’s condescension and compassion, she believed He would mercifully receive her and so she cast herself upon His mercy.
We are told that what Simon had witnessed at the feet of Jesus had aroused thoughts of protest and provocation in his heart. He spake within himself about the action of one who professed to be a Prophet receiving homage of such a shameful woman. Was this not inconsistent with His character as the Prophet? He never voiced his irritation over the recognition on the part of Jesus of the woman’s approach, but He who could read the secrets of the heart, answered the unspoken thoughts of the Pharisee ( 1 Corinthians 15:24, 25). Then in masterly manner, without directly reproving Simon for his pharisaical thoughts, told the story of the two debtors which is similar to another parable of His (Matthew 18:25).
What a moving and thrilling climax Luke gives! In a quiet authoritative tone Jesus said, “Simon, I have somewhat to say unto thee,” and recognizing Him as a Teacher come from God, Simon replied, “Master, say on.” Then came a question “in the form of a kind of ethical proposition sum of the debtors that owed, the one five hundred pence, and the other fifty pence—a question that needs no answer.”
Whatever hope either debtor had lay in the fact that pardon was offered to both as a matter of free gift and bounty, and driving home His point that the creditor had freely and frankly cancelled the sums owed him, Jesus asked Simon the pointed question, “Tell me which of them will love him most?” He answered somewhat indifferently, not fully understanding the drift of Christ’s parable, “I suppose that he to whom he forgave most.” This was the answer needed to rebuke Simon, and so with dramatic swiftness He turned to the half-concealed, worshiping woman, and in a tone vibrating with authority, indignation and condemnation said—
I entered into thine house, thou gavest me no water for my feet: but she hath washed my feet with tears ... Thou gavest me no kiss: but this woman hath not ceased to kiss my feet. My head with oil thou didst not anoint: but this woman hath anointed my feet with ointment.
The contrasts which Christ used are impressive. Simon gave no oil—the woman anointed His feet with costly ointment. Simon gave nothing for the head of Jesus—the woman lavished her love upon His feet . How Simon reacted to Christ’s message on forgiveness and love we are not told! His cold, unloving, and unforgiving heart must have been smitten as Jesus revealed the depths of love in the woman’s contrite heart, in the words, “Her sins, which are many, are forgiven; for she loved much; but to whom little is forgiven, the same loveth little.”
Turning from Simon to the female sinner who must have been overawed by Christ’s parabolic defense of her tears and gift, He uttered the assuring word, “Thy sins have been forgiven.” Any lingering fear in her penitent heart as to divine acceptance was banished and assurance became hers. The guests at the feast, seeing and hearing all that had taken place, ask the question, “Who is this that forgiveth sins also?” This was an echo of the Scribes who said that Jesus was a blasphemer because He forgave the sins of the man sick of the palsy (Matthew 9:3 ). Who can forgive sins but God only, and in Simon’s house God was present in the person of His Son? Because He was God manifest in flesh He accepted the woman’s sobs and perfume as the pledge of a past forgiveness and the promise of a life to be lived for His glory.
Christ’s final word to the saved sinner was, “Thy faith hath saved thee, go in peace.” Twice He uttered the joyful tidings that her sins had been pardoned and her soul saved. What He emphasizes in His confirmation of deliverance from her sin was that it was by her faith that she had been saved. When He said to Simon, “Her sins are forgiven, for she loved much,” attention must be given to the single word “for.” The phrase does not mean that Christ forgave because of her overflowing love; that because she was a soft and loving woman Christ forgave her faults so natural to her past life. He did not mean, “Forgive her, she has a kind and tender heart, and was more sinned against than sinning.” It was not her love but her faith that brought about her forgiveness, for a sinful soul can only be saved by grace through faith in Christ. Forgiven on the basis of her penitence and faith, pardon expressed itself in the tokens of her love. “Go in peace” was the last word the transformed harlot heard. It actually means, “Go into peace.” Peace was to be the new home in which she was to live, even the perfect peace Paul wrote about in his letter to the Philippians—
God’s peace [be yours, that tranquil state of a soul assured of its salvation through Christ, and so fearing nothing from God and content with its earthly lot of whatever sort that is, that peace] which transcends all understanding, shall garrison andmount guard over your heart and minds in Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:7, Amplified Bible).
Togarmah [Tōgär'mah]—all bone orstrong. The third son of Gomer, son of Japheth, his brothers being Ashkenaz and Riphath (Gen. 10:3; 1 Chron. 1:6; Ezek. 27:14; 38:6).
Perhaps there is prophetic significance attached to Togarmah and “the house of Togarmah of the north quarters, and all his bands” (Ezek. 38:6 ). Jewish writers of the past usually wrote of the “Turks” as Togarmah, and the Armenians as “The House of Targon.” It is not difficult, therefore, to identify Togarmah as Armenia or Turkey, the people of which assert their descendancy from Targon, or the Togarmah of Scripture.
The ultimate alliance of Turkey, according to prophecy, is with the Northern Confederacy Ezekiel defines. Dr. Sale-Harrison observes: “It is interesting to note that in Scripture “The King of the North” is called “The Old Assyrian” and apparently arises out of the present “Turkish territory.” In the final alignment of the nations then, Togarmah will be allied with the north.
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