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Parable of the Unmerciful Servant

When looking at Matthew 18:23-35 we can compare the human way and the godly way of forgiving and reactions about debts and attitudes towards others.

Once again we can find the master teacher using a story or parable to give a lesson. Jesus illustrates his view of unending mercy with a parable demonstrating how real lovers of God should think about the way God treats people. They also could look at the examples Jesus gave them and therefore could find enough reasons to extend unlimited forgiveness to others.

It can well be that the Nazarene rabbi had in mind a corrupt Herodian bureaucrat who has used his position to make himself wealthy, but has instead lost the Herod’s court a massive amount of money. Slaves could be in important roles in the Empires, so that they could accumulate wealth and power, even if they were in a master-slave relationship with the Emperor.

How often do we not encounter situations where we are confronted with matters that trouble us and with people who own something to us or should still have something to arrange for us? How often does it not happen that we are hurt by some one and that we have to arrange something to restore the relationship again?

John Nolland points out the annual income of Herod’s kingdom when he died in 4 B.C.E. was about 900 talents, to be divided between his sons (Nolland, Matthew, 756). This servant’s debt is more than ten times the value of Herod’s kingdom. In fact, the word translated as ten-thousand is often translated, “myriad,” an uncountable number.

When confronted with a person who did us wrong, him asking to have mercy with him, how much mercy do we want to give?

In Jesus’ parable we find a servant who has experienced an audacious act of mercy and has been released from the bondage of his debt. Though his reaction to others who had debts to him is not in comparison. In this story the man goes looking for the debtor to threaten him. He laid hands on him and took him by the throat, saying,

‘Pay me what you owe.’ (Matthew 18:28b)

This time we also find the fellow servant asking for forgiveness, using the exact same words as the unmerciful servant. He also asks for more time to raise the cash to pay the debt. This time the unmerciful servant is not willing to extend him additional time to pay. The debt may also been large, but not unmanageable as the debt of the one who asks to be paid back. As a reaction for not being paid back straight away the debtor is being put in the same prison in which the unmerciful servant was going to go if he had not been shown mercy by his master.

Have you thought about it how Jesus came to pay our debts? And can you imagine how his heavenly Father was willing to accept Jesus his ransom offering, so that we could be liberated of our debt to God?

You may perhaps not go around seeking to plot your revenge or wallow in a cesspool of bitter emotions and animosity, but how would you react to those who have debts (in all sorts of ways) to you? For people who did wrong to you would you like to erase them from your memory, as if they never existed, and as such would think you do not have to forgive that person or that all matters would be set?

We should know that it is no healthy situation if we want to save ourselves trouble of seeking to be the mature one by absolving and letting go, not having to carry around the pain of what a person did to hurt you.

The ones who want to call themselves Christian should be followers of Christ and try to have the same attitude as Christ. The way we act against people who did wrong against us is very important in the eyes of the Lord. Vengeance is a word and an act which should not be in our way of life. we should be careful not to let the ego and pride provoke us to create mountains out of mole holes in situations where a simple, it’s okay never mind, would have solved the problem.

Today it seem a fashion to offend people or to point a finger at some one. We should know that nobody is perfect and as such people could do things to us we do not like. It also can well be that people will mess things up, irritate and will disappoint you in ways that will astound you, and indeed worse still you are just as capable yourself of doing the same actions to them, nobody is above being the wrong at any point in time.

This parable should get us thinking about the attitude we want to take to others, who we think have wronged us.
It might not be easy but we we should strive to provide for grace for everybody, and should be humble enough to approach the other with love to forgive.

We live in a fallen world where terrible events happen to us beyond our control, but as justified as it may seem emotionally, holding on to that pain does us more harm than good, it can never make us happy in the long run.

Forgiving may not always be easy, it takes a lot of maturity and spiritual growth for us to come to a place where we can truly let go of hurts, but it is a gift that is worth offering to yourself.

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Preceding posts

Matthew 18:1-6 – The Nazarene’s Commentary: Children and Stumbling

Matthew 18:1-6 Reborn and pliable as a child

Matthew 18:7-11 – The Nazarene’s Commentary: Danger of Stumbling-blocks

Matthew 18:12-14 – The Nazarene’s Commentary: Searching for Lost Sheep

Matthew 18:15-17 – The Nazarene’s Commentary: Three Steps to Gaining a Brother

Matthew 18:18-20 – The Nazarene’s Commentary: The Authority of Two or Three

Matthew 18:21-22 – The Nazarene’s Commentary: Forgive 77 Times!

Matthew 18:23-35 – The Nazarene’s Commentary: The Kingdom and Forgiveness

Ableness to forgive those who wronged us

Matthew 18:23-35 – The Nazarene’s Commentary: The Kingdom and Forgiveness

Matthew 18:23-35 – The Kingdom and Forgiveness

MT18:23 “For this reason the Realm of Heaven may be compared to a human king who wished to settle his logs[1] with his slaves. MT18:24 Having started to settle the accounts one debtor owing ten thousand talents[2] was brought forward. MT18:25 But not having the resources to pay off his debt the master commanded that he, his woman, his children, and everything they possessed, be sold so the debt could be paid.[3] MT18:26 As a result the slave fell forward prostrating himself at the feet[4] of his master, pleading, ‘Be long-suffering[5] with me and I shall pay back everything I owe you!’ MT18:27 Now the master of the slave was moved by compassion[6] and so released[7] the slave including his loan. MT18:28 However, after that slave left he found one of his fellow slaves who owed him one hundred denarii.[8] He grabbed his fellow and began choking him, screaming: ‘Pay me everything you owe me!’ MT18:29 Now the fellow slave fell on his knees and pleaded, ‘Be long-suffering with me and I will pay back what I owe you!’ MT18:30 But the first slave was unwilling to wait and he left to have his fellow slave thrown into prison until everything he owed was repaid. MT18:31 Now the other slaves saw all this and were deeply distressed. They went to their master and clarified the whole matter so he knew everything that had happened. MT18:32 Then the master demanded the first slave appear before him, telling him, ‘Wicked slave, I released you of all your debt because you begged me so. MT18:33 Was it not necessary for you also to be charitable[9] to your fellow slave just as I had been charitable to you?’ MT18:34 And having now become extremely angry the master turned the slave over to the tormentors[10] until he had repaid everything he owed. MT18:35 Just so my heavenly Father will do to you[11] if ever you do not forgive from your hearts every one of your brothers!”[12]

*

[1] Settle his logs: The Greek is LOGON and may be rendered: KJV: take account; ASV: a reckoning; RHM: settle accounts.

[2] Ten thousand talents: NEB: ran into the millions; MOF: three million pounds; MON: fifteen million dollars; PME: millions of dollars. If a slave made 16 cents a day one can see the debt was enormous.

[3] Sold so the debt could be paid: It seems impossible that a slave could repay such a debt.

[4] Fell forward prostrating himself at the feet: Or, KJV: fell down, and worshipped him; RHM: falling down began to do homage. See notes else where on PROSKUNEO or prostrate. Research also the word worship.

[5] Long-suffering: The Greek is literally “longness of spirit.” Or, KJV: have patience; WMS: give me time.

[6] Moved by compassion: Or, RIEU: sorry for him; GDSP: heart was touched; NOR: took pity on.

[7] Released: Or, KJV: loosed him; RIEU: let him go free and canceled the loan.

[8] One hundred denarii: Or, TCNT: ten pounds; MON: fifty dollars; GDSP: hundred dollars; PME: few dollars. The difference between the two debts is unthinkable. The scholar Kennedy contrasted the difference in the two debts: the later one could be carried in a pocket; the former was so huge it would require 8,600 workers each carrying 60 pounds! The larger debt was more than that of whole provinces in Judea.

[9] Charitable: Generally this word is rendered by “mercy” but we can see that this is not a matter of judging someone but canceling debt, thus charity. Or, NOR: pity. Read and meditate on James 2:13.

[10] Tormentors: The Greek is BASANISTAIS. Or, BER: scourgers; GDSP: jailers. Research the word basan and torment for the original meaning of confinement or punishment with or without torture.

[11] Just so my heavenly Father will do to you: This is a most serious matter. Those who refuse to forgive will learn a side to the Almighty they will not like. It is a mistaken notion that the Nazarene and his Father were all-forgiving all the time. This matter of forgiveness is one in which the individual chooses his own destiny. See notes on Matthew 6:14, 15 and Matthew 7:1, 2. The lesson is simple and straightforward: we have been a debt so great it is impossible to repay; therefore, we ought to reflect our appreciation in forgiving our fellows.

[12] Forgive from your hearts every one of your brothers: Or, KNX: with all his heart; BER: if each of you does not heartily forgive his brother. Read and meditate on Ephesians 4:23 and Colossians 3:13.

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Preceding posts

Matthew 18:1-6 – The Nazarene’s Commentary: Children and Stumbling

Matthew 18:1-6 Reborn and pliable as a child

Matthew 18:7-11 – The Nazarene’s Commentary: Danger of Stumbling-blocks

Matthew 18:12-14 – The Nazarene’s Commentary: Searching for Lost Sheep

Matthew 18:15-17 – The Nazarene’s Commentary: Three Steps to Gaining a Brother

Matthew 18:18-20 – The Nazarene’s Commentary: The Authority of Two or Three

Matthew 18:21-22 – The Nazarene’s Commentary: Forgive 77 Times!

Ableness to forgive those who wronged us

Ableness to forgive those who wronged us

In the 18th chapter of Matthew we learn that we should humble ourselves. Jesus also tells us we should be open to welcome the ‘innocent” or “young ones’ or “children” and warns us for the dangers of following our temptations.

Woe to the world because of temptations! For it must be that temptations come, but woe to that man by whom the temptation comes! {Matthew 18:7 MEV}

We perhaps can not escape to receive many temptations, but we can avoid falling for them. In our life we shall encounter many times, we ourself doing wrong, but also others doing wrong against us. That shall put us often in a difficult position, having to take a certain attitude against the one who did wrong to us.

In Matthew 6:15, Jesus looked at that situation where we would meet people who did something we did not like or found wrong. Jesus then taught that if we would not forgive men their trespasses, how could we then expect God to be willing to forgive our trespasses?

We should know that others, like ourself, can do wrong. Such wrong doing should not always be done on purpose. And even when it would be, it is up to the follower of Christ to take the first step. Though forgiveness isn’t always easy, the follower of Christ should remember Jesus his example.

The Jews knew about Judaic teachings emphasizing forgiveness for those who have offended. In the Testament of Gad, for example, the writer says

“Love one another from the heart, therefore, and if anyone sins against you, speak to him in peace. Expel the venom of hatred, and do not harbor deceit in your heart. If anyone confesses and repents, forgive him” (T.Gad 6:3).

When speaking from the heart, others soon shall come to find out what sort of heart you have. A good Jew was required not to have a heart of stone. The example above is sufficient to demonstrate Jews in the first century were not proto-Puritans condemning everyone’s sin, nor were they standing on the street corners with signs damning everyone else to Hell. For the most part, the Judaism of Jesus’s day understood they had received great mercy and grace from God and that the “venom of hatred” does no one any good.

In Jewish teachings it was taught every Jew as a Chosen one of God had to respect any other human being, because each man is created in the image of Gdo and as such as creatures of the Most High Elohim should be respected by a child of God.

It is known that offering mercy and forgiveness is not easy. When Peter asked Jesus

“Lord, how often shall I forgive my brother who sins against me? Up to seven times?”

he probably thought he was being gracious with forgiving 7 times.

Jesus his reply may be astonishing, what a number of times we should forgive: he says seventy times seven which is 490. Even so He means this figuratively. We are to forgive always.

We should look at our Creator Who had to endure the rebellion of man and Who saw man going astray so often, but always was willing to come close again and help man. On many occasions God showed His love for the sinful man. Man should come to see that the Kingdom we strive for is really built on forgiveness.

To be able to forgive there first has to be love. Without love there is no possibility to honestly take the right attitude against the one who did wrong to you. We may not forget that love wipes away many sins. (1 Peter 4:8) Forgiving is covering up. Having to face a multitude of sins in our life we shall have to disregard the offences of others many times. Each time the memories of the wrong resurface, we may need to forgive again and again.

The difficulty we may face is that our emotions do not agree with forgiveness, but then we should think of Christ Jesus who looked at the people around him and knew very well what he had to do to bring salvation over them. Would we do such a thing like Jesus did? Giving our life for an other?

Remember the unending forgiveness God has already given to the disciples, and by extension to all those who are in Christ in the present age. We should come to reflect the unending mercy of the heavenly Father who has already forgiven mankind of all of their sins.

Let’s not hold grudges today and let not our pride being stronger than our humbleness. In a way it requires to be humble to put our own grudges away. Let’s remember that bitterness only destroys the vessel that carries it. Let’s love in spite of our feelings.

Sometimes we have to start all over and forgive again and again. The bigger the hurt or wrong, the harder forgiveness can be. But if Jesus can forgive us of our greatest wrong, then we too should be able to forgive others who have wronged us.

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Preceding posts

Matthew 18:7-11 – The Nazarene’s Commentary: Danger of Stumbling-blocks

Matthew 18:12-14 – The Nazarene’s Commentary: Searching for Lost Sheep

Matthew 18:15-17 – The Nazarene’s Commentary: Three Steps to Gaining a Brother

Matthew 18:21-22 – The Nazarene’s Commentary: Forgive 77 Times!

Matthew 18:18-20 – The Nazarene’s Commentary: The Authority of Two or Three

Matthew 18:18-20 – The Authority of Two or Three

MT18:18 “I tell you[1] [apostles] this truth: Whatever you [apostles] bind on earth will be bound in heaven,[2] and whatever you release[3] on earth will be released in heaven. MT18:19 Again, I tell you [apostles][4] this truth: If two of you might agree about a matter on earth[5] it will occur just as you request[6] because of my heavenly Father. MT18:20 For where ever two or three of you are gathered together[7] in my name,[8] there I am among them.”[9]

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[1] I tell you: The “you” is plural and indicates Jesus is speaking to the apostles. What follows is directed to these disciples and not necessarily a blanket statement regarding all Christians.

[2] Bind on earth will be bound in heaven: The phrase may involve the sin of the brother under discussion. If two or three (of the apostles) agree on a certain action against a wrongdoer, then it becomes so. An example of binding something on earth might be the appointment of Matthias to take the office of Judas (Acts 1:23-26). The Greek grammar may allow, “already bound.. already loosed.”

[3] Whatever you release: The Greek is LYSETE and may be rendered “loose.” The idea may infer forgiveness. Compare notes on Matthew 16:19. There the context deals with the Peter’s keys. If these be viewed as three and relate to the Jews, Samaritans, and Non-Jews, then as long as the door to the Samaritans and Non-Jews remains closed and locked, it is so in heaven. Jesus authorized his apostles to forgive sins (John 20:23). Later Paul writes that the Corinthian congregation “forgive” the incestuous sinner (2 Corinthians 2:7).

[4] I tell you [apostles]: The Greek “you” is plural and is directed to the twelve disciples.

[5] If two of you might agree about a matter on earth: If two apostles agree. Or, RIEU: if any two of you on earth agree in making any prayer; MON: if two of you on earth symphonize your praying. The words “might agree” are from the Greek SYMPHONESOSIN.

[6] It will occur just as you request: Or, RHM: it shall be brought to pass; KNX: it will be granted; NOR: my heavenly Father will answer your prayer.

[7] Two or three of you are gathered together: This is “two or three” of the apostles met in important matters of the Church. Or, WMS: wherever two or three have met as my disciples. The words “gathered together” are from a word related to “synagogue.” These may be official synods or congregational meetings. Compare 1 Corinthians 5:4; James 2:2. Note how Peter and John go to Samaria to request they receive the Pneuma (Acts 8:14, 15).

[8] In my name: Or, GDSP: as my followers; WMS: as my disciples. Note it is in the name of “Jesus” and not his Father “Jehovah.” The phrase may also mean something authorized by the person so named.

[9] I am among them: Or, WMS: I am right there with them. See notes on Matthew 28:20.

 

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Preceding

Matthew 18:1-6 – The Nazarene’s Commentary: Children and Stumbling

Matthew 18:1-6 Reborn and pliable as a child

Matthew 18:7-11 – The Nazarene’s Commentary: Danger of Stumbling-blocks

Matthew 18:12-14 – The Nazarene’s Commentary: Searching for Lost Sheep

Matthew 18:15-17 – The Nazarene’s Commentary: Three Steps to Gaining a Brother

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Related

  1. A Majority
  2. Matthew 18:19 and Prayer
  3. Benefits of Being Alone With God
  4. Morning Prayer for Thursday, November 29, 2018 — “I pray that I may be loyal to God and to others.”
  5. God’s Word at work in our world
  6. Strength in Numbers
  7. How Shall They Believe
  8. What are you waiting for?

Matthew 18:12-14 – The Nazarene’s Commentary: Searching for Lost Sheep

Matthew 18:12-14 – Searching for the Lost Sheep Who Stumbled

|| Luke 15:3-7

MT18:12 “How does it seem to you?[1] If a shepherd[2] had one hundred sheep and one strayed, will he not leave the ninety-nine in the hills[3] and seek out the straying sheep? MT18:13 I tell you this truth: When he finds it he is happier[4] over the one sheep than the ninety-nine who had not strayed. MT18:14 And so, it is not my heavenly Father’s will[5] that even one of these little ones perish.[6]

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[1] How does it seem to you: Or, KJV: how think ye; KNX: tell me this. The “you” is plural referring to all the disciples.

[2] Shepherd: Literally, “man.”

[3] Hills: Or, “mountains.”

[4] Happier: Or, MON: rejoices.

[5] It is not my heavenly Father’s will: Or, RHM: thus there is no desire in the presence of my Father; PME: you can understand then that it is never the will of your Father.

[6] Even one of these little ones perish: Or, RHM: should be lost. Note this is how the Father feels about the ‘little ones’. It is God’s will than none perish though the possibility of a little one being stumbled is there and thus the severity of the warning to those who would stumble others.

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Preceding

Matthew 10:16-23 – The Nazarene’s Commentary: Sent Forth as Sheep among Wolves

Matthew 12:9-21 – The Nazarene’s Commentary: Is It Lawful to Cure on the Sabbath?

Matthew 18:1-6 – The Nazarene’s Commentary: Children and Stumbling

Matthew 18:1-6 Reborn and pliable as a child

Matthew 18:7-11 – The Nazarene’s Commentary: Danger of Stumbling-blocks

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Additional reading

  1. His Life for the Sheep
  2. Atonement And Fellowship 6/8
  3. This is an amazing thing
  4. Looking for a shepherd for the sheep and goats

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Related posts

  1. Prayer and Meditation for Tuesday, November 20, 2018 — “The Son of Man has come to seek and to save what was lost.”
  2. Lost and Found
  3. Daily Mass: God seeks what is lost and rejoices when it is found. Catholic Inspiration
  4. Loving the One
  5. Sitting with the 99
  6. Jeremiah 39:1-14: Remaining Among the People

Matthew 18:1-6 – The Nazarene’s Commentary: Children and Stumbling

CHAPTER EIGHTEEN:
HUMILITY, SETTLING PROBLEMS, AND FORGIVENESS

[“Kingdom Children and Heart Forgiveness”]
(Key word: Forgive)

Matthew 18:1-6 – Children and Stumbling

|| Mark 9:33-36; Luke 9:46-48

MT18:1 In that hour the disciples approached Jesus, asking, “In reality, who is the greatest[1] in the Realm of Heaven?”[2] MT18:2 Having called a little boy[3] to stand among them, MT18:3 Jesus said: “I tell you this truth: If you never turn around[4] and become little boys[5] you will never gain entrance into the Realm of Heaven.[6] MT18:4 So, whoever will be humble as this little boy[7] – that person is the ‘greatest’ in the Realm of Heaven.[8] MT18:5 Also, anyone who accepts one of these[9] ‘little boys’ in my name[10] accepts me. MT18:6 But, whoever stumbles[11] one of these little ones who believes in me – it would be better[12] if he hanged a millstone[13] around his neck and sank into the ocean depths.[14]

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[1] Who is the greatest: It amazes us that they would even ask this question. However, though some today may not ask the question, attitudes and conduct expose a similar bent of mind: political ambition. This is the first time the subject comes up, but it is not the last. Compare Matthew 23:11; Luke 9:46; Luke 22:24, 26. There was a petty struggle among the disciples about their position in relation to one another, even, unfortunately, as among church elders and deacons today. It is unlikely the problem will disappear. However, all those men who have been appointed to a position of authority need to heed the warning of the Nazarene that follows: the disastrous matter of stumbling the humblest of the flock.

[2] Realm of Heaven: We have to speculate what “kingdom of the heavens” the disciples had in mind. Jesus often uses the phrase “Realm of Heaven” for what could be called “church membership” or “the realm of profession.” This does not mean the phrase could not also include that ultimate goal of the celestial realms where God Himself resides. Research the word Realm or kingdom for notes elsewhere.

[3] A little boy: The Greek is PAIDION and means “little boy” though many render this “little child.” We are captivated at the expression on this young boy’s face as he looks up at these tall men pondering their question of who is the greatest.

[4] Turn around: Or, KJV: except ye be converted; RIEU: unless your hearts are changed. Someone among the disciples needed to change an attitude that involved political ambition. Some needed to cease lofty thoughts and humble themselves.

[5] Little boys: The Greek is PAIDIA and means “little boys” though most render this “little children.” We cannot help but suspect there is a subtle rebuke in the phrase “little boys” if Jesus directed that at his own disciples. Surely, from one perspective they were behaving as “little boys.”

[6] Gain entrance into the Realm of Heaven: Though this may refer to that celestial realm where God resides, judging from the Nazarene’s use of the phrase, it may be limited to membership within that “congregation” Jesus said he would build (see notes on Matthew 13:24, Matthew 13:41, and Matthew 16:18).

[7] Humble as this little boy: We cannot help but think Jesus embraces the lad as he calms his misgivings about being among the group of men. Or, WMS: whoever becomes as lowly as; GDSP: who is as unassuming as this child.

[8] The ‘greatest’ in the Realm of Heaven: The person ‘greatest’ within the Church of Christ is that one as humble as a child. What a goal to aim for in the daily transformation of the Christian character (Romans 12:2; 2 Corinthians 7:1). Luke 9:48 adds, “For he that conducts himself as a lesser one among all of you (disciples) is the one that is great.”

[9] Accepts one of these: Or, KJV: receive on such little child; RHM: give welcome unto. Research the word receive or accept for notes.

[10] In my name: Or, MON: for my sake; GDSP: on my account; TCNT: for the sake of my Name. Christ almost predicts the name “Christian.”

[11] Stumbles: The Greek is SCANDALISE and is also rendered: KJV: offend; RSV: to sin; WMS: to do wrong; MOF: a hindrance to one; NOR: leads astray. Political ambition and infighting among elders and deacons can create an environment that can cause some in the congregation to “stumble.” Research the word scandal for notes elsewhere.

[12] It would be better: “Better” than what? We may suppose this is not a suicide but a murder. Such a person drowned may be resurrected in the Judgment with a beneficial outcome. The alternative punishment of Gehenna – or everlasting destruction – for stumbling a humble disciple of the Lord carries enormous danger.

[13] Millstone: These could be huge and weigh tones. The image is almost absurd. Mark 9:42 adds, “… a millstone such as is turned by an ass.” Compare Revelation 18:21.

[14] Sank into the ocean depths: Or, KJV: drowned in the depth of the sea.

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Preceding

Matthew 17:24-27 – The Nazarene’s Commentary: Tax-free Sons No Stumbling-block

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Related

  1. Spiritual but not Religious?
  2. Matthew Chapter A Day – 18
  3. Be Humble Like A Little Child
  4. “I’m telling you, once and for all, that unless you return to square one and start over like children, you’re not even going to get a look at the kingdom, let alone get in.” ~Jesus
  5. Rethinking Matthew 18 and Church Discipline
  6. “Humbles” Word Study: Matthew 18:4

Matthew 17 Calvin’s view on the days of spectatorship

Matthew 17:1. And after six days. We must first inquire for what purpose Christ clothed himself with heavenly glory for a short time, and why he did not admit more than three of his disciples to be spectators. Some think that he did so, in order to fortify them against the trial which they were soon to meet with, arising from his death. That does not appear to me to be a probable reason; for why should he have deprived the rest of the same remedy, or rather, why does he expressly forbid them to make known what they had seen till after his resurrection, but because the result of the vision would be later than his death?

I have no doubt whatever that Christ intended to show that he was not dragged unwillingly to death, but that he came forward of his own accord, to offer to the Father the sacrifice of obedience. The disciples were not made aware of this till Christ rose; nor was it even necessary that, at the very moment of his death, they should perceive the divine power of Christ, so as to acknowledge it to be victorious on the cross; but the instruction which they now received was intended to be useful at a future period both to themselves and to us, that no man might take offense at the weakness of Christ, as if it were by force and necessity that he had suffered. {1 } It would manifestly have been quite as easy for Christ to protect his body from death as to clothe it with heavenly glory.

We are thus taught that he was subjected to death, because he wished it to be so; that he was crucified, because he offered himself. That same flesh, which was sacrificed on the cross and lay in the grave, might have been exempted from death and the grave; for it had already partaken of the heavenly glory. We are also taught that, so long as Christ remained in the world, bearing the form of a servant, and so long as his majesty was concealed under the weakness of the flesh, nothing had been taken from him, for it was of his own accord that he emptied himself, (#Php 2:7); but now his resurrection has drawn aside that veil by which his power had been concealed for a time.

Our Lord reckoned it enough to select three witnesses, because that is the number which the Law has laid down for proving any thing;

at the mouth of two witnesses or three witnesses, (#De 17:6).

The difference as to time ought not to give us uneasiness. Matthew and Mark reckon six entire days, which had elapsed between the events. Luke says that it happened about eight days afterwards, including both the day on which Christ spake these words, and the day on which he was transfigured. We see then that, under a diversity of expression, there is a perfect agreement as to the meaning.

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2. And was transfigured before them. Luke says that this happened while he was praying; and from the circumstances of time and place, we may infer that he had prayed for what he now obtained, that in the brightness of an unusual form his Godhead might become visible*; not that he needed to ask by prayer from another what he did not possess, or that he doubted his Father’s willingness, but because, during the whole course of his humiliation, he always ascribed to the Father whatever he did as a divine Person, and because he intended to excite us to prayer by his example.

His transfiguration did not altogether enable his disciples to see Christ, as he now is in heaven, but gave them a taste of his boundless glory, such as they were able to comprehend. Then his face shone as the sun; but now he is far beyond the sun in brightness. In his raiment an unusual and dazzling whiteness appeared; but now without raiment a divine majesty shines in his whole body. Thus in ancient times God appeared to the holy fathers, not as He was in Himself, but so far as they could endure the rays of His infinite brightness; for John declares that not until

they are like him will they see him as he is, (#1Jo 3:2).**

There is no necessity for entering here into ingenious inquiries as to the whiteness of his garments, or the brightness of his countenance; for this was not a complete exhibition of the heavenly glory of Christ, but, under symbols which were adapted to the capacity of the flesh, he enabled them to taste in part what could not be fully comprehended.

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{1 } “Comme si par force et contreinte il fust renu endurer la mort”;  — ” as if by force and constraint he had come to suffer death.”

* Calvin writes from his trinitarian point of view not seeing that Jesus as son of God wanted to do the Will of His heavenly Father and did put his own will aside, emptying himself. Though Calvin recognises that Jesus always ascribed to the Father whatever he did as a divine person.

** 1Jo 3:2 Beloved, now are we children of God, and it is not yet made manifest what we shall be. We know that, if {1 } he shall be manifested, we shall be like him; for we shall see him even as he is.

+

Preceding

Matthew 17:1-9 – The Nazarene’s Commentary: Transfiguration Vision

Matthew 17:10-13 – The Nazarene’s Commentary: Elijah Has Already Come

Matthew 17:14-21 – The Nazarene’s Commentary: Faith the Size of a Mustard Seed

Matthew 17:22-23 – The Nazarene’s Commentary: Grief and Jesus’ Prediction of His Death

Matthew 17:24-27 – The Nazarene’s Commentary: Tax-free Sons No Stumbling-block

+++

Related

  1. Into the Midst of Theology
  2. On the Mountain
  3. Matthew Chapter A Day – 17
  4. Matthew 17 – The Mount of Transfiguration
  5. The Transfiguration of Christ
  6. Transfiguration Sunday
  7. Matthew 17:1-8 The Terrifying Transfiguration
  8. 4. Witnessed the Transfiguration of Jesus
  9. Jesus’ glory revealed: Mark 9
  10. Mark 9:2-8 – Shining the Light on Our Fears
  11. “It is good for us to be here.” A Sermon of Anastasius of Sinai, bishop
  12. The Glory of Jesus’ Transfiguration
  13. And Jesus alone remains
  14. As no fuller
  15. Uphill and Down
  16. Wake Up and See Who Jesus Really Is
  17. Peter & John — Luke 9:28-36
  18. Transfiguration – Divinization and the Transmigration of Souls

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