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by what authority I do these | he said unto them, Neither tell things. I you by what authority I do 25 The baptism of John, these things. 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?
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.
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.
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 26. All hold John as a prophet. been conversing with him, and to The term prophet here means a re- others in the nation of a similar charligious teacher with authority from acter. In this parable he brought to God. In that light was John regard- view their real character in the sight ed by the mass of the people. See of God. Luke 7:29. Matt. 3:5-6. Mark |
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
upon a new and righteous course of life.
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.
of religious instruction, be brought to reflection, and to such a sense of their guilt and danger, as will lead them to seek forgiveness in God's appointed way.
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. 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 Jesus and his disciples, had been brought to true sorrow for their guilty lives, and had commenced a life of obedience. And bad as they had been, destitute as they had been re- 3. That God's judgment respectgarded of all hope of the divine favor, ing men is very different from men's yet they had come to a share in the judgment of themselves and of one Messiah's blessings, and would par- another. The religious dignitaries ticipate in the happiness of his admin- of the Jewish nation were held in istration, 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
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
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 I 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
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 aer, called, in v. 33, the householder. 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
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 Did ye never read in the Scrip- taken from you, and given to a tures, The stone which the nation bringing forth the fruits builders rejected, the same is thereof. 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,
44 And whosoever shall fall on this stone, shall be broken : but on whomsoever it shall fall, it will grind him to powder.
very conspicuous and very important object; the whole building, so to speak, resting on it. || Head of the corner; chief corner-stone. A certain stone disregarded, rejected, indeed, by the builders of this edifice, was yet, by God's appointment, selected as the principal stone, the cornerstone. This language, which probably 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.
hearing the sentiment expressed, exclaimed 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 involuntarily 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 represented 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 servants 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 kingsiah, Jesus Christ, whom the authori-dom of heaven; the blessings of the ties of the nation had determined to slay. After having thus consummated 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 administration on earth.
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
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 acceptably; presenting him such returns 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. person rashly or carelessly stumbling against a stone, will receive injury;
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.
ND Jesus answered and spake unto them again
a teacher acting by special divine authority.
46 But when they sought to lay hands on him, they feared 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 1. Spake unto them again. In imnation. Compare Luke 2: 34. 1 Pet. mediate connection with what has just 2: 7,8. There may here be express- been related, Jesus spoke another pared different degrees of danger, cor- able, which was applicable to the state responding to different degrees of and prospects of the Jewish nation. guilt. Multitudes, through the pre- He described a king as making a judices of education, and in various splendid entertainment in honor of ways, might stumble at the Messiah's his son, and as having, in view of this, appearance, and fail to receive him; sent abroad invitations to the enterothers might reject him, not through tainment. At the proper time, notice lack of evidence that he was the Meswas given to those who were invisiah, or through their confidence in ted, that their presence was requested. the teachings of others, but through a They neglected the message, abused settled hostility to his character and and killed the servants who bore it. doctrines; and they would conse- In consequence, the king condemned quently experience severest judg- them and their city to destruction. ments in their being finally over- So God had been preparing a rich thrown. The destruction, in each variety of blessings for men, and first case, may be a final and remediless for the Jewish nation, in connection one; yet that which is represented with the entrance of his Son, the by being crushed through the falling | Messiah, upon his royal dignity, as of a stone, will be a far more aggra- the spiritual king and lord. To the vated one than the other. A distinc- Jews were made known the intentions tion may thus have been made be- of God; and in due time, his servants tween the mass of the Jewish people, were sent forth to announce the joyand the heads of the nation, who had ful tidings of God's love being maniexposed themselves, by their deter-fested, and to call the people to a parmined opposition, to the most signal vengeance of God. For parallel passages, see Mark 12: 1-12. Luke 20: 9-19.
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.
2. How awful a doom, to be deprived of religious privileges! v. 43.
46. They took him for a prophet; for a divinely-commissioned person,
ticipation of the blessings of the new dispensation. But already, since the coming of John the Baptist, had the 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.
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,