Call To Worship December 2 2018

Expository Thoughts on the Gospel of Luke

J.C. Ryle Luke 20:40-47

“Let us observe in this passage — what striking testimony to Christ’s divinity, the book of Psalms contains. We read that after patiently replying to the attacks of His enemies, our Lord in turn propounds a question to them. He asks them to explain an expression in the hundred and tenth Psalm, where David speaks of the Messiah as his Lord. To this question the Scribes could find no answer. They did not see the mighty truth — that Messiah was to be God as well as man; and that while as man, He was to be David’s son — as God, He was to be David’s Lord.

Their ignorance of Scripture was thus exposed before all the people. Professing themselves to be instructors of others and possessors of the key of knowledge — they were proved unable to explain what their own Scriptures contained. We may well believe that of all the defeats which our Lord’s malicious enemies met with — none galled them more than this. Nothing so abashes the pride of man — as to be publicly proved ignorant of that which he imagines is his own particular department of knowledge.

We have probably little idea how much deep truth is contained in the book of Psalms. No part of the Bible perhaps is better known in the letter — and none so little understood in the spirit. We err greatly, if we suppose that it is nothing but a record of David’s feelings, of David’s experience, David’s praises, and David’s prayers. The hand that held the pen was generally David’s — but the subject matter was often something far deeper and higher than the history of the son of Jesse.

The book of Psalms, in a word, is a book full of Christ — Christ suffering — Christ in humiliation — Christ dying — Christ rising again — Christ coming the second time — Christ reigning over all. Both of Christ’s advents are here: the advent in suffering to bear the cross — and the advent in power to wear the crown. Both of Christ’s kingdoms are here: the kingdom of grace, during which the elect are gathered — and the kingdom of glory, when every tongue shall confess that Jesus is Lord. Let us always read the Psalms with a particular reverence. Let us say to ourselves as we read, ‘A greater than David is here!’

The remark now made, applies more or less to all the Bible. There is a fullness about the whole Book, which is a strong proof of its inspiration. The more we read it — the more it will seem to contain. All other books become threadbare, if they are constantly read. Their weak points, and their shallowness become more apparent every year. The Bible alone seems broader, and deeper, and fuller — the oftener it is studied. We have no need to look for allegorical and mystical meanings. The fresh truths that will constantly spring up before our eyes, are simple, plain, and clear. Of such truths, the Bible is an inexhaustible mine. Nothing can account for this, but the great fact, that the Bible is the word — not of man, but of God!

Let us observe, secondly, in this passage — how abominable is hypocrisy in the eyes of Christ. We are told that in the presence of all the people, Jesus said unto His disciples, ‘Beware of the teachers of the law! They like to walk around in flowing robes — and love to be greeted in the marketplaces and have the most important seats in the synagogues, and the places of honor at banquets. They devour widows’ houses — and for a show make lengthy prayers.’

This was a bold and remarkable warning. It was a public denunciation, we must remember, of men who ‘sat in Moses’ seat,’ and were the recognized teachers of the Jewish people. It teaches us clearly, that there may be times when the sins of people in high religious places, make it a positive duty to protest publicly against them. It shows us that it is possible to speak out, and yet not to despise authority.

No sin seems to be regarded by Christ as more sinful than hypocrisy. None certainly drew forth from His lips such frequent, strong, and withering condemnation, during the whole course of His ministry. He was ever full of mercy and compassion for the chief of sinners. ‘Fury was not in Him’ when He saw Zacchaeus, the penitent thief, Matthew the tax-collector, Saul the persecutor, and the sinful woman in Simon’s house. But when He saw Scribes and Pharisees wearing a mere cloak of religion, and pretending to great outward sanctity, while their hearts were full of wickedness — His righteous soul seems to have been full of indignation. Eight times in one chapter (Matthew 23.) we find Him saying, ‘Woe unto you, Scribes and Pharisees! You hypocrites!’

Let us not forget that the Lord Jesus never changes. He is the same yesterday, and today, and forever. Whatever else we are in religion–let us be true. However feeble our faith, and hope, and love, and obedience may be—let us see to it that they are real, genuine, and sincere. Let us abhor the very idea of play-acting and mask-wearing in our Christianity. At any rate, let us be genuine.”