And when one of them that sat at meat with him heard these things, he said to him…
There are a great many ways of turning a conversation when it happens to be suggestive of disagreeable truth, or to convey advice which we should prefer not to take, or to reveal to us points in our character which we should wish to keep hidden, even from ourselves. But of all the various devices resorted to for this purpose the pious ejaculation is usually the most successful, as well as by far the easiest. If it fail to change the subject, it at least causes an awkward pause, after which there is a fair prospect of an altered tone in the general talk.
I. GLANCE AT THE SCENE. The Saviour had been putting some pointed questions respecting personal religion to His host and fellow-guests. Feeling that things had gone far enough in their present direction, and yet that by no possibility could exception be taken to anything that had been said, the guest introduced to our notice in the text attempts to dismiss to heaven those heavenly things which are not easily acclimatised to earth; to project into the future those "very excellent things" which were felt to look best at a distance; to refer the whole subject to another world, and to change the venue, as I believe lawyers would say, by a formal remark — indisputable but unpractical — "Blessed is he that shall eat bread in the kingdom of God."
II. Let us see HOW THIS SPEECH WAS MET. All unreal ejaculations are evasive, self-deceiving (like Balaam's), or procrastinating; or all three. The ejaculation of the text was most likely all three. It was certainly evasive. And the Saviour met it by pointing out that the blessedness which the speaker, and others like him, professed to desire, was precisely that from which they were most ready to excuse themselves the moment it was offered to them; that "the kingdom of God" was something present, and not something merely future; that they could enjoy what they professed to regard as its blessings now; but that there were many other things which for the time being they very decidedly preferred.
III. NOW WHY DID HE WHO WOULD NOT "BREAK THE BRUISED REED OR QUENCH THE SMOKING FLAX" THUS DISCOURAGE THOSE WHO WERE SAYING WHAT WAS VERY GOOD? I should say, He did not discourage otherwise than by suggesting that they should weigh the import of their words and test their" reality. "By thy words," said our Saviour, "thou shalt be justifed, and by thy words thou shalt be condemned. He did not mean, of course, that we shall be judged by these alone; but that they will be taken into account. And for a moment, drawing away our thoughts from our bad words, let us ask ourselves whether our good words may not prove, after all, the more condemning, and waft over ages and ages, as the verdict of the Most High, the echo of His words by Isaiah long ago, "This people honoureth Me with their lips, but their heart is far from Me."
(J. C. Coghlan, D. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: And when one of them that sat at meat with him heard these things, he said unto him, Blessed is he that shall eat bread in the kingdom of God.
WEB: When one of those who sat at the table with him heard these things, he said to him, "Blessed is he who will feast in the Kingdom of God!"