Call to Worship May 5 2019

Expository Thoughts on the Gospel of Luke

J.C. Ryle Luke 24:13-35

“We should observe in this passage — the singularly gracious words with which our Lord introduced Himself to His disciples after His resurrection. We read that He suddenly stood in the midst of them and said, ‘Peace be with you.’

This was a wonderful saying, when we consider the men to whom it was addressed. It was addressed to eleven disciples, who three days before had shamefully forsaken their Master and fled. They had broken their promises. They had forgotten their professions of readiness to die for Jesus. They had been scattered, ‘every man to his own,’ and left their Master to die alone. One of them had even denied Him three times. All of them had proved backsliders and cowards.

And yet, behold the return which their Master makes to His disciples! Not a word of rebuke is spoken. Not a single sharp saying falls from His lips. Calmly and quietly He appears in the midst of them, and begins by speaking of peace. ‘Peace be with you!’

We see, in this touching saying, one more proof that the love of Christ ‘surpasses knowledge.’ It is His glory to pass over a transgression. He ‘delights in mercy.’ He is far more willing to forgive — than men are to be forgiven. He is far more ready to pardon — than men are to be pardoned. There is in His almighty heart — an infinite willingness to put away man’s transgressions. Though our sins have been as scarlet — He is ever ready . . .
to make them as white as snow,
to blot them out,
to cast them behind His back,
to bury them in the depths of the sea,
and to remember them no more!

All these scriptural phrases are intended to convey the same great truth. The natural man is continually stumbling at them, and refusing to understand them. At this, we need not wonder. Free, full, and undeserved forgiveness to the very uttermost — is not the manner of man. But it is the manner of Christ!

Where is the lost sinner, however great his sins — who need be afraid of beginning to apply to such a Savior as this? In the hand of Jesus, there is mercy enough, and to spare. Where is the backslider, however far he may have fallen — who need be afraid of returning? Fury is not in Christ. He is willing to raise and restore the very worst of sinners.

Where is the saved saint who ought not to love such a Savior, and to willingly render unto Him a life of holy obedience? There is forgiveness with Him — that He may be feared. (Psalm 130:4.)

Where is the professing Christian who ought not to be forgiving toward his brethren? The disciples of a Savior whose words were so full of peace — ought to be peaceable, gentle, and easy to be entreated. (Colossians 3:13.)

We should observe, for another thing, in this passage — our Lord’s marvelous condescension to the infirmity of His disciples. We read that when His disciples were terrified at His appearance, and could not believe that it was Him — that He said, ‘Behold my hands and feet — touch me and see.’

Our Lord might fairly have commanded His disciples to believe that He had risen. He might justly have said ‘Where is your faith? Why do you not believe my resurrection, when you see me with your own eyes?’ But He does not do so. He stoops even lower than this. He appeals to the bodily senses of the eleven. He bids them to touch Him with their own hands, and satisfy themselves that He was a material being, and not some kind of Spirit.

A mighty principle is contained in this circumstance, which we shall do well to store up in our hearts. Our Lord permits us to use our senses, in testing a fact or an assertion in religion. Things above our reason — we must expect to find in Christianity. But thingscontrary to reason, and contradictory to our own senses — our Lord would have us know, we are not meant to believe. A doctrine, so-called, which contradicts our senses, is not a doctrine which came from Him who bade the apostles to touch His hands and His feet.

Let us remember this principle in dealing with the Romish doctrine of a change in the bread and wine at the Lord’s Supper. There is no such change at all! Our own eyes and our own tongues tell us that the bread is bread, and the wine is wine — after consecration, as well as before. Our Lord never requires us to believe that which is contrary to our senses. The doctrine of transubstantiation is therefore false and unscriptural.

Let us remember this principle in dealing with the Romish doctrine of baptismal regeneration. There is no inseparable connection between baptism — and the new birth in man’s heart. Our own eyes and senses tell us — that myriads of baptized people have not the Spirit of God, are utterly without grace, and are servants of the devil and the world! Our Lord never requires us to believe that which is contrary to our senses. The doctrine that regeneration invariably accompanies baptism, is therefore undeserving of credit. It is mere antinomianism to say that there is grace — where no grace is to be seen.

A mighty practical lesson is involved in our Lord’s dealing with the disciples, which we shall do well to remember. That lesson is the duty of dealing gently with weak disciples — and teaching them as they are able to bear. Like our Lord, we must be forbearing and patient. Like our Lord, we must condescend to the feebleness of some men’s faith, and treat them as tenderly as little children, in order to bring them into the right way. We must not cast off men, simply because they do not see everything at once. We must not despise the humblest and most childish means — if we can only persuade men to believe.

Such dealing may require much patience. But he who cannot condescend to deal thus with the young, the ignorant, and the uneducated — has not the mind of Christ. Well would it be for all believers, if they would remember Paul’s words more frequently, ‘To the weak, I became weak — that I might gain the weak.’ (1 Corinthians 9:22.)”

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