Page images
PDF
EPUB

by what authority I do these he said unto them, Neither tell things. I you by what authority I do these things.

25 The baptism of John, whence was it? from heaven, or of men? And they reasoned with themselves, saying, If we shall say, From heaven; he will say unto us, Why did ye not then believe him?

28 But what think ye? A certain man had two sons: and he came to the first, and said, Son, go work to-day in my vineyard.

29 He answered and said, I will not; but afterward he repented, and went.

30 And he came to the second, and said likewise. And he answered and said, I go, sir, and went not.

26 But if we shall say, Of men, we fear the people; for all hold John as a prophet.

27 And they answered Jesus, and said, We cannot tell. And ter; proposing, that if they would answer him, he would reply to their question, and intending, probably, that the just and proper reply to his question would be the reply to theirs, and thus leading them to answer themselves.

25. The baptism of John. Under the term baptism, the Saviour here meant to include the whole office of John, of which the administration of baptism was a very prominent part. The amount of the question was this: Did John the Baptist, in calling the people to repentance (Matt. 3: 2), in baptizing those who professed repentance and promised a new life (Matt. 3:6-9), and in declaring Jesus of Nazareth to be the Messiah (John 1: 29-36),- did John the Baptist, in these proceedings, act by authority from God, or by authority from man? Did he have a divine commission, or did he act without a divine commission? From heaven; that is, from God. Why did ye not then believe him? Though multitudes professed to follow the directions of John, yet the Pharisees and scribes, and other distinguished men, declined obedience to his teaching. See Matt. 3:7-12. Luke 7: 29-35.

26. All hold John as a prophet. The term prophet here means a religious teacher with authority from God. In that light was John regarded by the mass of the people. See Luke 7:29. Matt. 3:5-6. Mark

6: 20. We fear the people. The chief priests and other distinguished men had great reason to fear the indignation of the people, if they had ventured publicly to deny the divine authority of John the Baptist.

27. We cannot tell; or, as it is in the original, we know not. Plainly, an insincere answer; an evading of the question, for the purpose of avoiding a conclusion which they would dislike. Neither tell I you, &c. This remark either implied, that a just and fair answer to his question (which, if they had obeyed the dictates of their consciences, they could not but have given) would have been also an answer to their own question; or it showed, by bringing their insincerity before their own eyes, that it would have answered no valuable purpose had he given a direct reply to their inquiry. They had so often shown a cavilling, dishonest state of mind, that there was little encourage ment to answer their inquiries. Jesus knew they had some ill design to accomplish. Compare Mark 11: 2733. Luke 20: 1-8.

23. A certain man. Jesus now proceeded to speak a parable, having reference to those men who had just been conversing with him, and to others in the nation of a similar character. In this parable he brought to view their real character in the sight of God.

30. I go, sir, and went not. The

31 Whether of them twain publicans and the harlots bcdid the will of his father? They lieved him: and ye, when ye say unto him, The first. Jesus had seen it, repented not aftersaith unto them, Verily I say ward, that ye might believe him. unto you, That the publicans and the harlots go into the kingdom of God before you.

32 For John came unto you in the way of righteousness, and ye believed him not; but the

33 Hear another parable: There was a certain householder, which planted a vineyard, and hedged it round about, and digged a wine-press in it, and built a tower, and let it out

son made fair promises and professions, but yet pursued a disobedient course. Such was the character of the chief priests and scribes, and other leaders of the nation. They made a fair show of regard to the authority of God; but, alas! their lives were a constant violation of their professions.

Though this parable was spoken with special reference to the chief priests and elders, WE MAY LEARN from it, in reference to all ages,

1. That outward dignity in sacred offices, and a profession of obedience to God, may consist with a real neglect in heart of God's will.

31. Whether of them twain; which of the two. The publicans and the harlots. These, according to public estimation, did not profess to be obe- 2. That we ought not to despair dient to God. But many of such respecting the salvation of even abanpersons, having profited by the re-doned sinners; they may, by means ligious instructions of John, and of of religious instruction, be brought Jesus and his disciples, had been to reflection, and to such a sense of brought to true sorrow for their guilty their guilt and danger, as will lead lives, and had commenced a life of them to seek forgiveness in God's obedience. And bad as they had appointed way. been, destitute as they had been regarded of all hope of the divine favor, yet they had come to a share in the Messiah's blessings, and would participate in the happiness of his administration, rather than the proud, self-high repute, and arrogated to themconfident leaders and teachers, who selves much honor; but Jesus depretended to obey the will of God, tected the utter emptiness of their and claimed to be the favorites of God. pretensions.

32. Jesus proceeded himself to apply the parable. Way of righteousness; in a righteous, holy way of living, and pointing out the path of righteous obedience. Ye believed him not. Compare Matt. 3:7-9. Luke 7:30. The publicans and the harlots believed him. Compare Luke 7:29. 16:16. See on Matt. 11: 12. Repented not afterward; after all the manifestation of power over the hearts of men, after all these evidences of God's working with John, ye yet exercised no regret at your former disobedience, and entered not

upon a new and righteous course of life.

3. That God's judgment respecting men is very different from men's judgment of themselves and of one another. The religious dignitaries of the Jewish nation were held in

33. After thus exposing the real absence of true love and obedience to God in the hearts of the priests and other distinguished men among the Jews, Jesus proceeded, in another parable, more fully to develop their guilt, and the awful danger which they were incurring. He likened them to husbandmen, laborers on a farm, whom a proprietor employed to carry on his farm, and who, when required to send him the proceeds, treated injuriously, time after time, the proprietor's servants who had

to husbandmen, and went into men a far country:

34 And when the time of the fruit drew near, he sent his servants to the husbandmen, that they might receive the fruits of it.

35 And the husbandmen took his servants, and beat one, and killed another, and stoned

another.

36 Again he sent other servants more than the first and they did unto them likewise.

37 But last of all, he sent unto them his son, saying, They will reverence my son.

38 But when the husband

been sent to them, and, at last, when the proprietor's son was sent to them, abused him and put him to death. Against such husbandmen the indignation of the proprietor would justly be excited; and he might be expected to bring them to signal punishment, and to take into his service other laborers. Householder; master of a family. Hedged. Vineyards were usually enclosed with a thorn-hedge, or with a wall. || Digged a winepress. The wine-presses consisted of two receptacles, an upper and a lower; they were sometimes built of stones and plastered over, or they were hewn out of a large rock. Into the upper receptacle the grapes were thrown and trodden out by several men. The juice flowed out through a grated aperture near the bottom of the upper receptacle into the lower receptacle. | Built a tower. Towers were erected in vineyards, of a very considerable height, and were intended for the accommodation of keepers, who defended the vineyards from thieves and from troublesome animals. The elevation of such towers in Eastern countries, at the present ume, is sometimes eighty feet. Let it out. The sequel shows that the vineyard was not rented out for

saw the son, they said among themselves, This is the heir; come, let us kill him, and let us seize on his inheritance.

39 And they caught him, and cast him out of the vineyard, and slew him.

40 When the lord therefore of the vineyard cometh, what will he do unto those husbandmen?

41 They say unto him, He will miserably destroy those wicked men, and will let out his vineyard unto other husbandmen, which shall render him the fruits in their seasons.

money; but the husbandmen were hired to cultivate it, and were to send the fruits to the owner.

37. They will reverence my son. This they might naturally be expect ed to do, however shamefully they had treated the servants.

40. Lord of the vineyard; the own. er, called, in v. 33, the householder.

41. He will miserably destroy, &c. This is represented by Matthew, as a reply made by the persons to whom Jesus was speaking. Mark (12: 9), and Luke (20: 16), in relating the parable, omit the circumstance of this sentiment being expressed by the chief priests and scribes, and represent Jesus as making the declaration. Perhaps, in accordance with the representation of Mark and Luke, Jesus did actually repeat the declaration which his hearers had made; and the solemn repetition of it by himself made them distinctly perceive the application of the parable. Similar diversities in stating the circumstances of an event are common among all men, while yet they may agree in their testimony respecting the event. The sentiment was uttered; and it accorded with the honest convictions and judgment of all present. Luke adds (20: 16), that some persons,

42 Jesus saith unto them, | The kingdom of God shall be taken from you, and given to a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof.

44 And whosoever shall fall on this stone, shall be broken : but on whomsoever it shall fall, it will grind him to powder.

Did ye never read in the Scriptures, The stone which the builders rejected, the same is become the head of the corner : this is the Lord's doing, and it is marvellous in our eyes?

43 Therefore say I unto you,

hearing the sentiment expressed, ex-
claimed God forbid! Being struck
with the alarming nature of the sent
ment, and filled with fear in view of its
application to themselves, or to those
whom they had been accustomed to
regard with reverence, they involun-
tarily deprecated such a visitation of
wrath. The parable may properly be
regarded as terminating here; for the
subsequent remarks are manifestly a
plain, unembellished application of
the sentiment to the chief priests and
scribes. The householder represent-
ed God; the husbandmen, the chief
men of the Jewish nation, to whom a
great trust was committed, with all
the necessary advantages for rightly
discharging their duties. The ser-
vants represented the prophets and
religious teachers sent from time to
time, for securing to God the returns
of praise and grateful obedience, but
who were often abused in various 43. I say unto you; you, chief
ways. The son represented the Mes- men, and your nation. The king-
siah, Jesus Christ, whom the authori-dom of heaven; the blessings of the
ties of the nation had determined to
slay. After having thus consum-
mated their guilt, signal vengeance
would be taken of these chief men;
and others would be called into the
service of God, to conduct the affairs
of his kingdom, or to manage his ad-
ministration on earth.

very conspicuous and very important
object; the whole building, so to
speak, resting on it. || Head of the
corner; chief corner-stone.
A cer-
tain stone disregarded, rejected, in-
deed, by the builders of this edifice,
was yet, by God's appointment, select-
ed as the principal stone, the corner-
stone. This language, which proba-
bly pointed out David, who had been
disesteemed by Saul and other_chief
men, yet who was selected by God to
be the highest officer in the nation,
was remarkably applicable to Jesus,
who was disesteemed and rejected by
the highest authorities of the nation,
but who yet was the one whom God
had appointed to the highest dignity,
that of the Messiah, the anointed
king, in the new dispensation, the
reign of heaven. God's hand must
be acknowledged in this issue of
events.

Messiah's administration. Given to
a nation; given to others, to another
community, namely, that which is
now called the Christian church.
| Bringing forth the fruits thereof;
living in a manner adapted to this
new dispensation; serving God ac-
ceptably; presenting him such re-
turns of love and obedience as the
nature of the Messiah's dispensation
requires.

44. Whosoever shall fall, &c. The mention, in the 42d verse, of a stone, suggested to the mind of Jesus another method of figuratively representing the destruction which was ere long to overtake the Jews. A person rashly or carelessly stumbling against a stone, will receive injury;

42. As peculiarly applicable to the case of the heads of the Jewish nation, Jesus quoted a passage from Ps 118: 22, 23, in which God is represented as raising to signal honor an individual whom the chief men had endeavored to set aside as unsuitable for the dignity. The stone. This language is metaphorical. The Hebrew state was likened to an edifice. In edifices, the corner-stone was a

45 And when the chief | the multitude, because they took priests and Pharisees had heard him for a prophet. his parables, they perceived that he spake of them.

46 But when they sought to lay hands on him, they feared

REFLECTIONS. 1. Obstinately to reject the Saviour is a heinous sin, and will expose to unspeakably awful doom. vs. 43, 44. Consider, too, that to neglect the Saviour is likewise fraught with danger. Compare Heb.

2: 3.

CHAPTER XXII.

and the stone hurled against a person will bring on him far greater injury. So, the Messiah, represented here by a stone, was to prove an occasion of sore calamity and ruin to the Jewish nation. Compare Luke 2: 34. 1 Pet. 2: 7, 8. There may here be expressed different degrees of danger, corresponding to different degrees of guilt. Multitudes, through the prejudices of education, and in various ways, might stumble at the Messiah's appearance, and fail to receive him; others might reject him, not through lack of evidence that he was the Messiah, or through their confidence in the teachings of others, but through a settled hostility to his character and doctrines; and they would consequently experience severest judgments in their being finally overthrown. The destruction, in each case, may be a final and remediless one; yet that which is represented by being crushed through the falling of a stone, will be a far more aggravated one than the other. A distinction may thus have been made between the mass of the Jewish people, and the heads of the nation, who had exposed themselves, by their deter-fested, and to call the people to a parmined opposition, to the most signal ticipation of the blessings of the new vengeance of God. For parallel pas- dispensation. But already, since the sages, see Mark 12: 1-12. Luke 20: coming of John the Baptist, had the 9-19. servants of God who were announcing the new dispensation been neglected and badly treated, and ere long would the Jews put to death some of those who were laboring for their spiritual benefit; and as a consequence of their guilt, ruin was destined to overtake the nation.

1. Spake unto them again. In immediate connection with what has just been related, Jesus spoke another parable, which was applicable to the state and prospects of the Jewish nation. He described a king as making a splendid entertainment in honor of his son, and as having, in view of this, sent abroad invitations to the entertainment. At the proper time, notice was given to those who were invited, that their presence was requested. They neglected the message, abused and killed the servants who bore it. In consequence, the king condemned them and their city to destruction. So God had been preparing a rich variety of blessings for men, and first for the Jewish nation, in connection with the entrance of his Son, the Messiah, upon his royal dignity, as the spiritual king and lord. To the Jews were made known the intentions of God; and in due time, his servants were sent forth to announce the joyful tidings of God's love being mani

2. How awful a doom, to be deprived of religious privileges! v. 43.

CHAPTER XXII.

ND Jesus answered and spake unto them again

46. They took him for a prophet; for a divinely-commissioned person,

Α'

a teacher acting by special divine authority.

Thus far the parable had respect to the Jews. But the Saviour made an addition. The entertainment being prepared, the king procured a large number of guests from every quarter; among the guests, however, was one,

« PreviousContinue »