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The Pulpit Commentaries The Pulpit Commentaries
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These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Exell, Joseph S; Spence-Jones, Henry Donald Maurice. "Commentary on Matthew 22". The Pulpit Commentary. https://studylight.org/
commentaries/ eng/ tpc/ matthew-22.html. 1897.
Exell, Joseph S; Spence-Jones, Henry Donald Maurice. "Commentary on Matthew 22". The Pulpit Commentary. https://studylight.org/
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Parable of the marriage of the king's son. (Peculiar to St. Matthew.)
Jesus answered and spake unto them. After they had heard our Lord's words at the end of the last chapter, the Pharisees, according to St. Mark, "left him, and went their way," so that this parable was spoken in the audience of the disciples and the attendant multitude alone, without the former disturbing element. This fact may account for its exhibiting certain merciful and gracious features, setting forth the privilege rather than the duty of obeying the gospel call. The term "answered" often does not signify a reply given to some distinct question, but is equivalent to "took occasion to observe" (comp. Matthew 11:25, etc.). Here the occasion was the insidious schemes of his enemies. Again. With reference to the two parables in the preceding chapter. Parables. The plural denotes the class to which the discourse belongs; or it may refer to the many parabolic details contained herein. Only one parable follows. This bears great resemblance to the parable of the great supper (Luke 14:1-35.), which, however, was spoken at an earlier period, in another locality, and with a different object, and disagrees in many details, especially in the absence of the wedding garment. Christ, doubtless, often repeated his parables with variations in particulars to suit time, audiences, and circumstances.
The kingdom of heaven is like (comp. Matthew 20:1. This parable supplements that of the wicked husbandmen. As that referred to Jewish times, so this refers to gospel times. The householder in the one becomes the king in the other; one demands work and duty, the other bestows gifts and blessings; one is angered at ingratitude for favours received, the other punishes for contempt of offered bounty. A certain king; ἀνθρωìπῳ βασιλεῖ: a man a king, even God the Father, the expression denoting "the Almighty's wonderful condescension, as assimilating himself to our infirmities in his dispensations towards us" (I. Williams). Made a marriage; γαìμους: marriage festivities; the plural perhaps denoting the days consumed in the celebration (see Genesis 29:27; Judges 14:12; Tobit 8:19, 20). Morison compares our English word "nuptials." In the Old Testament, Jehovah is the Husband of his Church; in the New, Christ is represented as married to the spiritual Israel, which takes the place of the older dispensation. For his son. Jesus Christ, whose intimate union with his Church is often represented under the figure of a marriage (see Matthew 9:15; John 3:29; 2 Corinthians 11:2; Ephesians 5:23, Ephesians 5:32; Revelation 19:7).
Sent forth his servants. In the East, the original invitation to a solemn festivity is followed by reminders as the day approaches (comp. Esther 5:8; Esther 6:14). The servants here are John the Baptist, the twelve apostles, the seventy, who first preached the gospel to the Jewish people. Them that were bidden. The Jews had already been invited to come in; to them already belonged "the adoption, and the glory, and the covenants … and the promises" (Romans 9:1). These early missionaries were sent to bring such things to their remembrance, and to bid them obey the call. They would not (οὐκ ἠìθελον) come. Their reasons for refusal are not given here—a fact which differentiates this parable from that of the great supper. A general disinclination or aversion is denoted; no actual outrage is perpetrated as yet, but the invited guests are ripening for this stage, in that they despise the King's Son, and believe not in his Divine mission. This backwardness and obduracy recall Christ's lamentation, "O Jerusalem, Jerusalem!" (Luke 13:34, Luke 13:35).
Other servants. The apostles and their immediate followers after the death and resurrection of Christ, and the effusion of the Holy Ghost. A fresh call was mercifully given with new graces and new degrees of revelation. My dinner (τοÌ ἀìριστοìν μου). This is the lighter midday meal, which was the commencement of the festivities, and was followed by the supper (δεῖπνον) in the evening. Are killed. The great Sacrifice has been offered, the Victim slain (John 6:51-59), the Holy Spirit has made all things ready. Here are grace, health, abundance, to be had for acceptance. We may compare the invitation of Wisdom in the Old Testament (Proverbs 9:1, etc.) with this of Christ. In Jewish minds the blessings of Messiah's kingdom are constantly connected with the idea of a sumptuous feast, as in Luke 14:15; and our Lord himself uses the same image (Matthew 8:11; Luke 22:30).
They made light of it, and went their ways. They who refused the invitation are divided into two classes—the first mentioned in this verse, the second in the following. These are simply careless, indifferent scorners, who are too busy with their worldly concerns to attend to the claims of the gospel. So we read, "The Pharisees, who were lovers of money, heard all these things; and they scoffed at him" (Luke 16:14; comp. Matthew 19:23, Matthew 19:24). His farm; τοÌν ἰìδιον ἀγροÌν: his own farm, or estate. This is the landed proprietor, who goes to the selfish enjoyment of his possessions. His merchandise. This is the busy trader, who is engrossed in the pursuit of wealth (compare the excuses in Luke 14:18, Luke 14:19).
The remnant. These form the second class of recalcitrant guests. They are actively hostile to the King and his messengers, rejecting them not merely for worldly or interested motives, but from intense hatred to the doctrines which they taught. Such were the scribes and Pharisees, who could not endure to see the Law superseded, and the Gentiles raised to their level; such were the Sadducees, who scoffed at a faith founded on the resurrection, and refused credit to the miraculous with which the gospel was interwoven. Took his servants. The narratives in the Acts give many instances of the seizure and imprisonment of apostles and believers (see Acts 4:3; Acts 9:2; Acts 12:4, etc.). Entreated (treated) them spitefully (see Acts 5:40; Acts 14:19; Acts 16:23, etc.; 2 Corinthians 11:23-25). Slew them; e.g. Stephen (Acts 7:58), James (Acts 12:2). All but one of the apostles died violent deaths at the hands of those who rejected the gospel; and there must have been numbers of martyrs of whom history has preserved no record, though their names are written in heaven, which is far better.
When the king heard thereof. The text varies here. Some manuscripts have "that king," to whom the rejection of his messengers was a personal insult. The Sinaitic, Vatican, and other authorities omit ἀκουìσας, "heard thereof," and it may well be a gloss from the human view that the king, not being personally present, must have been informed of the incidents. At the same time, the King, regarded as God, needs no report to acquaint him with what is going on. He was wroth. The injury was done to him, and he resents it (comp. Luke 10:16; John 12:48). His armies. The Romans, under Vespasian and Titus, the unconscious instruments of his vengeance. So the Assyrians are called "the rod of God's anger" (Isaiah 10:5; Isaiah 13:5; comp. Jeremiah 25:9; Jeremiah 51:20). Some regard the "armies" as angels, the ministers of God's punishment, especially in war, famine, and pestilence, the three scourges which accomplished the ruin of the Jews. Probably both angels and men are included in the term. Destroyed … burned up their city. No longer his city, but theirs, the murderers' city, Jerusalem. So a little later foretelling the same fate, Jesus speaks of "your house" (Matthew 23:38). The Romans, in fact, some forty years after, put to the sword the inhabitants of Jerusalem, and burned the city to ashes.
Then saith he. This is supposed to take place after the destruction of the murderers and their city; and, indeed, the final rejection of the Jews and the substitution of the Gentiles were consummated by the overthrow of Jerusalem and the Hebrew polity. The wedding is ready. God's great design is not frustrated by the neglect of those first invited, only the guests are changed. Not worthy. Their unworthiness was proved by their rejection of the gracious call, as the worthiness of those subsequently called consisted in their acceptance thereof. The passage is well illustrated by the language of Paul and Barnabas (Acts 13:46, Acts 13:47).
The highways; ταÌς διεξοìδους τῶν ὁδῶν: exitus viarum; the partings, or outlets of the ways. The places where roads meet, beyond the city bounds in the country, which would naturally be a centre of concourse. The city where the marriage feast was now held is not named, because it is no longer Jerusalem, but somewhere, anywhere, in the Gentile world; for the call of the Gentiles is here set forth. As many as ye shall find. The invitation is no longer confined to the Jews; the whole human race is called to the marriage of the Lamb, to participate in the fruits of the Incarnation. This general evangelization was begun in apostolic times (see Acts 8:5, Acts 8:38; Acts 10:28, Acts 10:48; Acts 13:46), and has been carried on ever since. The apostles'special ministrations to the Jews seemed to have ended at the martyrdom of St. James the Less, A.D. 62 (Josephus, 'Ant.,' 20.9, l).
Highways; ὁδουÌς: the roads. Not "the partings of the ways," whither they had been ordered to go. Some see here an intimation of the imperfection of the work of human agents; but it is very doubtful if any such allusion is intended. More probably ταÌς ὁδουÌς is only a synonym for ταÌς διεξοìδους τῶν ὁδῶν. Both bad and good. The visible Church contains a mixed company, as Christ indicated by more than one parable; e.g. the draw net, the tares, etc. (Matthew 13:1-58.). The bad are named first, in order to show the infinite graciousness of the king. In the earliest times converts were baptized with very little preparation and without any probation, as we see in the case of the eunuch, the jailor, and many more mentioned in the Acts; and doubtless many were insincere and soon lapsed. When we read of whole households being baptized, and in later times of whole nations receiving Christian initiation, there must have been little individual preparation of heart or cleansing of conscience, and the missioner had to take for granted much which more careful examination would have proved to be fallacious. The mention of this mixture of bad and good in the company introduces the final scene. The wedding. The Sinaitic, Vatican, and other manuscripts read "marriage chamber" (νυμφωÌν). So Tischendorf and Westcott and Herr. But the received text is well founded, and seems more natural. Guests; ἀνακειμεìνων: literally, recliners; Vulgate, discumbentium; so called from the customary attitude at meals.
The king came in to see the guests, who by this time had taken their appointed places at table. This second portion of the parable teaches that admission to the visible Church is not all that is required; there is also a scrutiny to be undergone and an award to be made. And that this investigation is keen and searching is denoted by the verb used, θεαìσασθαι, which means not merely, to see casually, but to gaze upon with the intent of seeing the real nature and character of an object. The king makes his appearance in the banqueting hall, not to feast with the guests, but to welcome them, and to examine if they are properly ordered, served, and fitted for the high honour accorded to them. How close and personal is this inquiry is shown by the immediate detection of one unseemly guest among the multitude. The time when he thus comes is, in one view, the day of judgment; but such visitation and scrutiny are always recurring, as at solemn seasons, in days of trial, sacred services, holy communion, when he searches men's hearts, and sees if they are prepared for his presence. Which had not on a wedding garment; οὐκ ἐνδεδυμεìνον ἐìνδυμα γαìμου: not garbed in wedding garment, the genitive expressing the peculiar character or quality of the garment. Wordsworth compares similar phrases: Luke 16:9; 2Th 2:3, 2 Thessalonians 2:9; James 1:25; 2 Peter 2:1, etc. It is said to have been an Oriental custom to present each guest invited to a royal feast with a festive robe to be worn on the occasion, as nowadays persons admitted to the royal presence are clothed with a caftan. Traces of the custom have been found in Genesis 45:22; Jdg 14:12; 2 Kings 5:22; 2 Kings 10:22; but they are not very convincing. The Romans seem to have had such a custom, the robes being called "cenatoria." Thus Martial, 10:87, 11, writes—
"Pugnorum reus ebriaeque noctis,
Cenatoria mittat advocato."
But the fact remains that this guest had not presented himself in attire befitting the solemnity; in his everyday garb, and with no proper preparation, he had dared to come to this great festival. What is the spiritual meaning of the wedding garment is much disputed. It is evidently some virtue, or quality, or mark which conditions admission to the enjoyment of the kingdom of God. On the one hand, it is said that both bad and good guests wear it, and its possession does not alter the character of the wearer. Dress is something external and visible, therefore the garment cannot represent an inward grace or feeling, but some outward token by which Christians are distinguished, such as open reception of baptism and sacraments, and public profession of the faith. On the other hand, it is contended that the whole matter is spiritual, though veiled in material forms, and is concerned with man's moral and spiritual nature. Hence it by no means follows that the wedding garment is not intended to have a spiritual signification. Ancient commentators universally look upon it in this light. Some regard it as an emblem of faith in Christ; others, of faith and love combined. "Habete fidem cum dilectione," writes St. Augustine, 'Serm.,' 90., "ista est vestis nuptialis." But it must be observed that faith of some sort was shown by accepting the invitation; so this could not be represented by the special garb which was absent. Others, again, see in it good works, or humility, or the purity effected by the grace of the Holy Spirit. Some moderns take it of "imputed," others of imparted, righteousness, bringing their controversies into the King's presence. chamber. The English Church, taking the marriage feast as a figure of the Holy Communion, applies the wedding garment to that cleansing of the conscience which enables persons to come holy and clean to that heavenly feast (see the first Exhortation to Holy Communion). This is legitimate, but too restricted in its reference. The feast denotes the present and future kingdom of God; the entrance to this is a matter of free grace; the garment is moral fitness, the life and conduct dependent on the due use of God's grace. This is in the power of all who have received the call; they have to act up to the high calling, to be wholly, heartily, really what they profess to be. The scrutiny, whether made in this life or in the life to come, shows how grace has been used, if we have put on Christ, if we have kept our soul pure and white, unsullied by sin, or washed clean by penitential tears and the blood of Christ (see Revelation 19:8). The metaphor concerning this robe of righteousness is found in Isaiah 61:10, "He hath clothed me with the garments of salvation, he hath covered me with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decketh himself with a garland, and as a bride adorneth herself with her jewels." Commentators compare (but with doubtful appositeness) Zephaniah 1:7, Zephaniah 1:8.
Friend; ἑταῖρε, as Matthew 20:13. It was thus that Christ addressed Judas in the garden (Matthew 26:50). The term here has in it something of distrust and disapprobation. How camest thou in hither? The question may mean—How couldst thou presume to approach this solemn festival without the indispensable requisite? Or, how couldst thou elude the vigilance of the servants, and enter in this unseemly garb? The former is doubtless the signification of the inquiry. The contemptuous rejection of propriety is an outrage offered to the majesty of the king, and one worthy of severest punishment. He was speechless; ἐφιμωìθη: literally, he was muzzled, tongue tied, as if his mouth were closed with a muzzle (comp. Matthew 20:34; and Luke 4:35). He could make no reply; he had no excuse to offer. His silence condemned him. It is observed that gags were used for rebellious slaves or criminals on their way to execution (Webst. and Wilk.).
The servants; τοῖς διακοìνοις: ministers, or attendants—not the same as the servants (δοῦλοι) who originally carried out the invitations. They are not preachers, but the guards of the throne, meaning probably the ministering angels who execute the King's commands (see Matthew 13:41.Matthew 13:49). Bind him hand and foot. By hand and foot men sin, by these they are punished. All hope of escape is thus removed. There is no trial; the offence is too gross and evident to need any further examination; the sentence is at once passed and carried out. He who Strives against God is helpless, and immediately condemned. Take him away. The offender is thus deprived of all good. This clause is omitted by most authorities, and has probably been introduced into the received text with the view of explaining the stages and progress of the ejectment. (The) outer darkness. Far away from the glory and brightness of the banquet into the gloom and blackness of the outer world, which represents the misery of lost souls (see Matthew 8:12, where the same expressions occur). "There are no longer feet to run to God's mercy or to flee from his justice; no longer hands to do good or make amends for evil; no longer saving light, whereby to know God or one's own duties. Nothing but darkness, pain, grief, tears, rage, fury, and despair, for him who is not in the wedding hall. This is the fruit of sin, and especially of the abuse of faith and grace" (Quesnel).
Many are called … chosen. The rejected guest is a type of a numerous class (see Matthew 20:6). All the Jews had first been called; then all the Gentiles; many were they who obeyed not the call; and of those who did come in, many were not of the inner election, of those, that is, whose life and character were worthy of the Christian name, showing the graces of faith, holiness, and love. Applying the parable generally, Origen (ap. I. Williams) says, "If any one will observe the populous congregations, and inquire how many there are who live a better kind of life, and are being transformed in the renewing of their mind; and how many who are careless in their conversation and conformed to this world, he will perceive the use of this voice of our Saviour's, 'Many are called, but few chosen;' and in another place it has been said, 'Many will seek to enter in, and shall not be able' (Luke 13:24); and, 'Strive earnestly to enter in by the narrow gate; for few there be that find it' (Matthew 7:13, Matthew 7:14)."
Second attack: The question concerning the tribute to Caesar. (Mark 12:13-17; Luke 20:20-26.)
Then went the Pharisees. After they had heard the parables, and were for the time silenced, they departed from the public courts of the temple, and betook themselves to the hall of the Sanhedrin, that they might plot some stratagem against Jesus. How they might entangle (παγιδευìσωσιν) him in his talk. The verb (not elsewhere found in the New Testament) means "to lay a snare for" an object. The Pharisees did not dare to use open violence, but they now endeavoured by insidious questions to make him compromise himself either with the Romans, their political masters, or with the national and patriotic party.
Their disciples. Men of their own party, or students in the rabbinical schools, like Paul, "brought up at the feet of Gamaliel" and such like teachers. They sent these unknown and apparently simpleminded persons, that they themselves, who were open and bitter enemies of Christ, might not appear in the matter. With the Herodians. The two bodies hated one another, but made now an unholy alliance for the purpose of attacking Jesus. Hatred, like poverty, makes men acquainted with strange companions. The Herodians were a political sect which supported the dynasty of Herod, and were more or less favourable to the dominion of Rome, as that which preserved their authority in the country. In religious opinions they were mostly Sadducees. The Pharisees, on the other hand, in their nominal zeal for God, were violently opposed to the claims of Rome, and ready to rebel at the first favourable opportunity. They regarded the Herodians as little better than the heathen whom they favoured, but sunk their differences in the face of a general peril. Between these antagonistic elements an impious league had been formed earlier in Christ's ministry. Master; Διδαìσκαλε: Teacher, equivalent to "Rabbi;" owning him for the nonce as one possessed of teaching authority, though they willed not to be his disciples. True; truthful. Thoroughly misapprehending the character of Jesus, they began by flattery. Nicodemus had spoken in sincerity when he said (John 3:2), "Rabbi, we know that thou art a Teacher come from God;" but these make the admission in hypocrisy; it was a captatio benevolentiae, prompted by the spirit of evil. The way of God. The precepts and rules which men must follow if they would please God. The phrase is common in the Old Testament (Genesis 18:19; Deuteronomy 10:12; Psalms 18:21, etc.). Neither carest thou. What men think or say of thee is no concern to thee. They cannot influence thy actions or disturb thy serenity. The person of men. Thou art thoroughly impartial; no considerations of rank, station, power, bias thy judgment, words, or actions. This is said with the view of encouraging him to answer without fear of offending the Roman authorities.
Tell us therefore. Because you are so truthful and impartial, give us your unprejudiced opinion about the following much-disputed question. These people assume to be simple-minded inquirers, who came to Jesus to have a perplexity resolved. St. Luke gives their real character, "They sent forth spies, which should feign themselves just men, that they might take hold of his words." Is it lawful (ἐìξεστι) to give tribute (κῆνσον, censure) unto Caesar, or not? The tribute is the poll tax levied by the Romans. Caesar at this time was Tiberius; the title was now applied to the emperors, though its subsequent use was different. By asking concerning the lawfulness of the payment, they do not inquire whether it was expedient or advisable to make it, but whether it was morally and religiously right, consistent with their obligation as subjects of the theocratic kingdom. Some, as Judas of Galilee (Acts 5:37; Josephus, 'Ant.,' 18.1. 1, 6), had resorted to violence in their opposition to the tax; and indeed, the question here put was much debated between opposite parties. The Pharisees were strongly opposed to foreign domination, and thought it derogatory and sacrilegious for the people of Jehovah to pay impost to a foreign and heathen authority. The Herodians, on the other hand, submitted without reserve to the supremacy of Rome, and, for political reasons, silenced all nationalist and ultra-patriotic feeling. By putting this question, the disputants thought to force Christ into a dilemma, where he must answer directly "Yes" or "No," and where, whichever reply he made, he would equally offend one or other of the parties into which the state was divided. If he affirmed the lawfulness of the tax, he would lose his popularity with the mass of the people, as one who disowned the sovereignty of Jehovah, and would give the death blow to his own claims as Messiah-King. If he garb a negative reply, he would be deemed an enemy of Rome and a promoter of seditious views, and be liable to be handed over to the civil power for the punishment of disaffection and treason (see Luke 20:20). They falsely brought this charge against him before Pilate (Luke 23:2).
Wickedness. The malice and hypocrisy which prompted the inquiry. Why tempt ye me, ye hypocrites? They were hypocrites because they falsely assumed the guise of conscientious men, who had no sinister motive, and desired merely to hear the decision of a much-esteemed Rabbi. Christ's words proved in a moment that he saw through them, understood the meaning of the temptation to which they had subjected him—how they were trying to involve him in a political difficulty, from which they deemed no escape was possible. The character which they had fiatteringly. given to Jesus (Matthew 22:16) he here fully responds to.
The tribute money; τοÌ νοìμισμα τοῦ κηìνσου: the coin of the tribute; that is, the coin in which the tribute was paid. The reply to the question was wholly unexpected. The Pharisaic "disciples" had hoped that Christ would have taken part against the Herodians; but he gives no decision about the matter in dispute, such as they desired. He virtually rebukes their dissimulation, and makes their own action supply the verdict which they demanded. Not seeing the drift of his request, they brought unto him a penny; a denarius (see on Matthew 18:28). This was the amount of the capitation tax, and it was paid in Roman, not Jewish, coinage. Just at this period the Jews had no mintage of their own, and were forced to use Roman coins, which might well be called "tribute money."
Image and superscription. The figure and inscription on the denarius. Jesus takes the coin, and points to it as he speaks. It must have borne a likeness of the emperor, and,therefore, as Edersheim remarks, must have been either a foreign one (Roman) or possibly one of the Tetrareh Philip, who on some of his coins introduced the image of Tiberius. The coins struck by the Romans in or for Palestine had, in accommodation to Jewish prejudices, no representation of any personage upon them. The Roman denarius at this date had on the obverse side the head of Tiberius, crowned with laurel leaves, and bore the legend, "TI CAESAR DIVI AVG FAVGVSTVS," and on the reverse, a seated female figure, with the inscription, "PONTIF MAXIM."
Caesar's. They are constrained to answer that the coin bears the effigy of the Roman emperor. Render (ἀποìδοτε, give back, as a due) therefore unto Caesar the things which are Caesar's (ταÌ Καιìσαρος). Rabbinism ruled that the right of coinage appertained to the ruler of a state, and was a proof of de facto government, which it was unlawful to resist. The current coin, which they used in their daily transactions, showed that the Jews were no longer independent, but set under and acquiescing in a foreign domination. Being subjects of Caesar, it was their duty to submit to his demands, and to pay the taxes which he had a right to levy. This was an answer to the insidious question propounded. Christ does not take either side in the controversy; he makes no question of the mutual rights of conquered and conquerors; he utters no aspiration for the recovery of independence; he uses facts as they are, and points to habitual practice as a sufficient solution of the difficulty. No reply could be wiser or simpler. Herein he gives a lesson for all time. No plea of religion can hold good against obedience to lawful authority. "Render to all their dues," says St. Paul (Romans 13:7): "tribute to whom tribute is due; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honour to whom honour." The things that are God's; ταÌ τοῦ Θεοῦ. The things of God arc ourselves—our life, powers, faculties, means; to use these in God's service is our duty and our privilege. There need be no conflict between religion and politics, Church and state. Let a citizen do his duty to God, and he will find his obligations to the civil power are coincident and harmonious. Let the state respect the rights of God and of conscience, and there will he no collision between itself and the Church, but both will peaceably cooperate for the good of the community. Had the Jews rendered to God his dues, they would never have been reduced to their present state of subjection and debasement; would never have had to pay tribute to a foreign nation.
They marvelled. Well might they marvel. Their carefully laid plot, which had seemed so irresistible, was utterly frustrated. The view of the relations of Church and state set forth by Christ was novel and incomprehensible. Hitherto the two provinces had been considered identical. The emperor, as we see impressed on his coins, was Pontifex Maximus; the Jewish priesthood had a political character, and the civil power was its instrument. In Christ's theory the spheres were distinct and not to be confounded. The state compelled obedience to its enactments; the Church left the conscience free, and obedience was voluntary and enforced by no external powers. The new society stood aloof from all political interests, and was responsible alone to God, while it performed its duties. Left him. They had no answer to give. There was nothing in Christ's words that they could lay hold of; nothing treasonable, nothing unpatriotic. Baffled, though not convinced, the questioners sullenly withdrew; but they or their comrades afterwards had the effrontery to accuse Jesus of forbidding to pay tribute to Caesar (Luke 23:2).
Third attack: The Sadducees and the resurrection. (Mark 12:18-27; Luke 20:27-40.)
The same day; on that day. This is still the Tuesday in the Holy Week. The Sadducees. There is no definite article here in the original. Which say; οἱλεÌγοντες. Many good manuscripts and some modern editors (Laehmann, Tregelles, Tischendorf, Westcott and Hort) read λεìγοντες, "saying." The received reading historically describes the Sadducees' opinions; the other makes them come boldly stating their sentiments. Where authorities are pretty evenly balanced, we must decide the wording of a passage by other than literary considerations; and there can be no doubt that the reading which denotes the characteristic of the sect is more appropriate than that which represents them offensively parading their views as a preparation for the coming question. We have had notice of the Saddueees before (Matthew 3:7; Matthew 16:1). The popular account of their religious belief is given in Acts 23:8, "The Sadducees say that there is no resurrection, neither angel, nor spirit." They were rationalists and sceptics, who denied many old-established truths, and scorned many prevalent observances. They acknowledged most of the Old Testament, though, curiously enough, they, like our modern neologians, stumbled at the supernatural upon which the Scriptures were built. Tradition and traditional interpretations found no favour with them. The future life of the soul they utterly repudiated, and the resurrection of the body, when it was brought before them, met with contemptuous ridicule. The claims and doctrine of Christ were, in their eyes, puerile and unworthy of philosophic consideration. At the same time, they recognized that the people were with him for the moment, and that it was expedient that his teaching, so utterly opposed to their own opinions, should be discredited and repressed. So they came forward asking an imaginary question, which, as they thought, would reduce to an absurdity the doctrine of the immortality of the soul and the resurrection of the flesh. Doubtless they were members of the Sanhedrin, and it was at the instigation of this body that they proposed the presumed case of conscience.
Moses said. They quote the substance of the law of the levirate (i.e. the brother-in-law) in Deuteronomy 25:5, Deuteronomy 25:6, by which it was enacted that if a married man died without a son, his brother or the next of kin should marry the widow, and the firstborn son of this union should be regarded and registered as the son of the deceased. This was a law not peculiar to the Hebrews, but prevalent from immemorial times among many ancient peoples, e.g. Persians, Egyptians, and found in force among some nations in modern times, as Arabians, Druses, Cireassians, etc. It seems not to have been enforced in any case, but to have been left to the good will of the survivor, who might escape the obligation by submitting to a certain social obloquy (Deuteronomy 25:7-10). The motive of the regulation was the maintenance of a family and the non-alienation of property. Many authorities assert that the law did not apply in the case of a man who left daughters (Numbers 27:8), but only in that of a childless widow. Later rabbinism limited the obligation to a betrothed woman, not yet actually married. But whatever may have been the limitations allowed in these days, the question of the Sadducees took its stand on the old legal basis, and endeavoured to draw therefrom a ridiculous inference. Shall marry; ἐπιγαμβρευìσει. The verb, found in the Septuagint, is used properly signifying "to take a woman to wife as the husband's kinsman" (γαμβροìς), and generally, "to contract affinity by marriage." Raise up seed. The firstborn son of such a marriage was the legal heir of the deceased brother, and bore his name. The natural and the legal paternities are seen in the genealogies of our Lord, and occasion some difficulties in adjustment.
Seven brethren. If the word "brethren" is to be taken in the strictest sense, and not as equivalent to "kinsmen," the case is indeed conceivable, though extremely improbable, especially as at this time the custom had fallen into abeyance, and its rigorous fulfilment was neither practised nor expected. There is a levity and a coarseness in the question which is simply revolting.
Unto the seventh; ἑìως τῶν ἑπταì, unto the seven—to the end of the seven.
The woman died also. This last word is omitted by Alford, Tischendorf, and Westcott and Hort, and seemingly with good reason. Then, according to these Sadducees, arose the difficulty which they deemed insurmountable.
In the resurrection; i.e. in the life beyond the grave, to which the resurrection is supposed to lead. Whose wife shall she be of the seven? Of which of the seven shall she be wife (γυνηì, without the article, predicate)? The evil question stands in its naked absurdity. Had the woman a son by either of the husbands, the difficulty would have been less pronounced. In their coarse materialism, these persons carry their conceptions of the present visible world into the future spiritual world; they confuse the conditions and relations of one with those of the other, and would argue that if such insoluble complications arise in the new life, the resurrection must be an unfounded figment. Had her. All were lawfully married to her, and therefore all had equal rights. When a woman was twice married, the rabbinical gloss declared that in the other world she would belong to her first husband; but this opinion was not generally received, and the present supposititious case had never been contemplated and fell under no allowed rule.
Ye do err. Jesus does not condescend to answer directly to the contemptuous question proposed. He goes to the root of the matter, and shows the great error in which it originated. These disputants are treated with patience and calm argument, because they are not hypocrites like the Pharisees, but have the courage of their opinions, and do not seek to appear other than they are. They erred, said Christ, for two reasons: first, not knowing the Scriptures. Whatever might be the lax opinions which they held respecting the prophets, there was no dispute about the supreme authority of the Pentateuch, and these Scriptures (as Christ proceeded to prove) plainly implied the doctrine of the resurrection. Secondly, they ignored the power of God, to whom nothing is impossible, and who, in the resurrection, would perform a work very different from what they supposed—changing the natural into the spiritual, and transforming the characteristics of the life that now is into a different and higher sphere, yet preserving identity.
For. The Lord proceeds first to show the power of God as displayed in the resurrection. The Sadducees would limit and control this power by conceiving that it could not change the qualities of the body or alter the conditions and relations of the human consciousness. In the resurrection (see on Matthew 22:28). Marry; as men. Are given in marriage; as women. Marriage is an earthly relationship, and can have no place in a spiritual condition. All that is of the earth, all that is carnal and gross, all human passions, all that is connected with sin and corruption, shall pass away. The risen life is no mere reproduction of the present, but a regeneration, new life added to the old, with new powers, acting under new laws, ranged in a new community. On earth men are mortal, and marriage is necessary to perpetuate the race; no such necessity obtains in the other life, where men are immortal. As an old Father says, "Where the law of death is abolished, the cause of birth is abolished likewise." Are as the angels of God in heaven; i.e. as the angels who dwell in heaven. The words, τοῦ Θεοῦ, of God, are omitted by some manuscripts and editors. The Vulgate has, angeli Dei in coelo. Thus Christ, in opposition to the Saddueces' creed, admits the existence of angels. Glorified men are like the angels in these characteristics especially. They are immortal, no longer subject to human wants, passions, failings, or temptations; they serve God perfectly without weariness or distraction; they have no conflict between flesh and spirit, between the old nature and the new; their life is peaceful, harmonious, satisfying. Our Lord says nothing here concerning mutual recognition in the future state; nothing about the continuance of those tender relations which he sanctions and blesses on earth, and in the absence of which we cannot imagine perfect happiness existing. Analogy supplies some answer to such questions, but they are foreign to Christ's statement, and need not be here discussed.
As touching (περιÌ) the resurrection of the dead. Christ, in the second place, shows how these disputants were, ignorant of Scripture. They may have known the letter, they certainly knew nothing of the spirit of the Word of God, its depth and fulness. The key to the interpretation of the Scripture is faith. It is not enough to be acquainted with the literal signification; this is always inadequate, and denotes not the chief matter intended. To know the Scripture, in the sense of Christ, is to have a clear apprehension of its spiritual aspect, to feel and own the moral and mystical bearing of facts and statements, and to recognize that herein lies the real significance of the inspired record. The want of this discernment vitiated the Sadducees' treatment and reception of Holy Writ, and involved them in lamentable error. Christ proceeds to demonstrate how the very Pentateuch (reverenced unquestionably by their party), which they deemed to be entirely silent on the subject of the life of the soul, spoke plainly on this matter to all who had faith to understand and appreciate the words of Divine wisdom. That which was spoken unto you by God. To our minds Jesus might have adduced stronger arguments from other books of Scripture, e.g. Isaiah, Ezekiel, and Daniel; but the Sadducees had drawn their objection from the Pentateuch, therefore from that section of the Bible he refutes them. To the books of Moses was always made the ultimate appeal in confirmation of doctrine; in the supreme authority of these writings all sects agreed. The utterances of the prophets were explained away as allegorical, poetical, and rhetorical; the plain, historical statements of the Law could not at that time be thus treated. Christ endorses unreservedly the Divine inspiration of the Pentateuch; he intimates that it was the voice of God to all time, and providentially directed to disperse such errors as those now produced.
I am (ἐγωì εἰμι). The quotation is from Exodus 3:6, where God gives himself this name, as the Eternal, Self-existent One. The God of Abraham … Jacob. These patriarchs had long been dead when this revelation was made; had they been annihilated, the Lord could not have called himself still their God. By this utterance he implied that he had still to do with them—had a blessing and a reward which they were to receive, and which they must be alive to enjoy. How can they who are his cease to exist? They who are in personal relation and covenant with God cannot perish. There were personal promises to Abraham, distinguished from those made to his seed (see Genesis 13:15; Genesis 15:7; Genesis 17:8, etc.), which were never fulfilled during his earthly life, and await realization in a future existence. God was the patriarchs' Father, Saviour, Redeemer, Judge, Rewarder; he could not hold these relations to mere dust and ashes, but only to con-scions and responsible beings, existing, though in another condition, and in another portion of God's creation. Thus was proved the continued existence and personality of the soul; and the resurrection of the body follows consequentially from this. Man is a complex being; he has body and soul, neither of which is complete without the other. The soul is not perfect man without the body, which is its organ; the body is not perfect man without the soul, which animates it. In giving eternal life to man, God gives it to the creature as originally made, not to one portion only of his nature. Of the living. "For," as St. Luke adds, "all live unto him." The so called dead are alive in God's view; they have an abiding relation to him, live in his world, which comprises the seen and unseen, the present and the future. Titus St. Paul says (Romans 14:8, Romans 14:9), "Whether we live, we live unto the Lord; and whether we die, we die unto the Lord: whether we live therefore or die, we are the Lord's. For to this end Christ both died and rose and revived, that he might be the Lord both of the dead and living."
They were astonished at his doctrine. The multitudes were amazed, not only at an interpretation which was entirely new to them, and which opened to them some of the depths of that Scripture of which they had been taught and knew only the letter; but because Christ showed that he looked into men's hearts, saw what was the motive and cause of their opinions, and, in explaining difficulties, unfolded eternal truths. The Sadducees, thus answered in the presence of the listening crowds, attempted no reply, slunk away confounded, utterly foiled in their hope of casting ridicule on the teaching of Christ. St. Luke notes that some scribes present, doubtless of the Pharisaic faction, were highly delighted with this public defeat of their adversaries, and cried, in enforced admiration, "Master, thou hast well said!"
Fourth attack: The Pharisees' question concerning the great, commandment. (Mark 12:28-34.)
He had put the Sadducees to silence (ἐφιìμωσεν, as Matthew 22:12). The Pharisees were informed of, and some of them had witnessed, the discomfiture of the Sadducees (see Luke 20:40); hence they deemed it necessary again to attack Jesus by asking a question which specially appertained to their own teaching. They felt that, if they were ever to compass his overthrow, they must first lower his credit with the people, so that these might no longer care to support or defend him. To succeed in entangling Jesus in a difficulty would not only effect this, but would also gain them a triumph over their adversaries, who had been so completely defeated. Were gathered together; ἐπιÌ τοÌ αὐτοÌ, Which may mean, "to the same place," as perhaps Acts 2:1; or "on the same ground, for the same purpose." The former is probably correct. The English versions omit the words (see the rendering of Acts 2:41, where ἐπιÌ τοÌ αὐτοÌ does not occur). They grouped themselves around Christ, or else gathered in a council chamber, taking combined action against him.
A lawyer; νομικοìς, called by St. Mark "a scribe"—a term of wider signification, which would include "lawyers." Vulgate, legis doctor, which gives the right sense; for such were teachers and expounders of the Mosaic Law. This man was put forth by the Pharisees as an expert, who would not be so easily discomfited as the Sadducees had been. Tempting him. Trying him; putting him to the test, not altogether maliciously, but partly from curiosity, and partly from a desire to hear Christ's opinion on a much disputed point. It is evident, from St. Mark's account, that Christ was pleased with him personally, for he said to him, "Thou art not far from the kingdom of God." Those who put this lawyer forward had, of course, sinister motives, and hoped to make capital from Christ's answer; but the man himself seems to have been straightforward and honest. We have had the terra "tempting" used in a hostile sense (Matthew 16:1; Matthew 19:3), hut there is no necessity for so taking it; and it seems to imply here merely the renewal of the attack on Christ.
Which is the great commandment in the Law? Ποιìα ἐντοληÌ μεγαìλη ἐν τῷ νοìμῳ; What sort of commandment is great in the Law? According to rabbinical teaching, there were more than six hundred precepts in the Law; of this considerable number all could not be observed. Which were of absolute obligation? which were not? The schools made a distinction between heavy and light commandments, as though some were of less importance than others, and might be neglected with impunity; and some of such exceeding dignity that fulfilment of them would condone imperfect obedience in the case of others. Some taught that if a man rightly selected some great precept to observe, he might safely disregard the rest of the Law (see Matthew 19:16, etc.). This was the kind of doctrine against which St. James (James 2:10) expostulates: "Whosoever shall keep the whole Law, and yet stumble in one point, he is become guilty of all." The Pharisees may have desired to discover whether Jesus knew and sanctioned these rabbinical distinctions. He had proved himself intimately acquainted with the inner meaning of Scripture, and able to evolve doctrines and to trace analogies which their dull minds had never comprehended; the question now was whether he entered into their subtle divisions and could decide this dispute for them. Such is the view usually taken of the scribe's question; but it may well be doubted, if regard is had to the character of the man, whether he had any intention of entangling Christ in these subtleties, but rather asked for a solution of the general problem—Of what nature was the precept which should be regarded as "first" (Mark) in the Law? We may compare the somewhat similar question and answer in Luke 10:25-28. Lange's idea, that the scribe wished to force Christ to make some answer which, by implying his own claim to be Son of God, would trench upon the doctrine of monotheism, seems wholly unwarranted. This theory is based on the supposition that the Pharisee took it for granted that Jesus would answer, "Thou shalt love God above all," and intended to found upon that reply a condemnation for having made himself equal with God by his assertion of Sonship. But the text gives no countenance to such intention, and it has been suggested chiefly for the purpose of accounting for Christ's subsequent question (Luk 10:41 -45), which, however, needs no such foundation, as we shall see.
Thou shalt love the Lord thy God; Κυìριον τοÌν Θεοìν σου. Christ enunciates the two great moral precepts of God's Law, not, indeed, stated in these words in the Decalogue, but implied throughout, and forming the basis of true religion. Heart … soul … mind. The Septuagint has "mind, soul, strength." The expressions mean generally that God is to be loved with all our powers and faculties, and that nothing is to be preferred to him. It is difficult to define with any precision the signification of each term used, and much unprofitable labour has been expended in the endeavour to limit their exact sense. "Quum," as Grotius says, "vocum multarum cumulatio nihil quam intensius studium designet." It is usual to explain thus: Heart; which among the Hebrews was considered to be the seat of the understanding, is here considered as the home of the affections and the seat of the will. Soul; the living powers, the animal life. Mind; διαμοιìᾳ, intellectual powers. These are to be the seat and abode of the love enjoined.
The first and great commandment; or better, the great and first commandment; Vulgate, Hoc est maximum et primum mandatum. Here was a plain answer to the question of the scribe, which no one could gainsay (comp. Luke 10:27). They who repeated daily in their devotions, "Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God is one Lord", could not help acknowledging that love of him whom they thus confessed was the chief duty of man—one which was superior to every other obligation.
The second. The scribe had not asked any question about a second commandment: but Christ is not satisfied with propounding an abstract proposition; he shows how this great precept is to be made practical, how one command involves and leads to the other. Like unto it; ὁμοιìα αὐτῇ: in nature and extent, of universal obligation, pure and unselfish. Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. From Le Matthew 19:18. The verb, both here and verse 37, is ἀγαπηìσεις, which implies, not mere animal or worldly affection (φιλεìω), but love from the highest moral considerations, without self-interest, holy. The Latins indicated this difference by amo and diligo. Our "neighbour" is every one with whom we are concerned, i.e. virtually all men. He is to be loved because he is God's image and likeness, heir of the same hope as we ourselves, and presented to us as the object on and by which we are to show the reality of our love to God. "This commandment have we from him, that he who loveth God love his brother also" (1 John 4:21). And for the measure of our love to man, we have Christ's word in another place (Matthew 7:12), "All things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them."
Hang all the Law and the prophets; i.e. all Scripture, which is comprised in these terms (comp. Matthew 5:17; Matthew 7:12); in other words, all the revelations which God has made to man in every age. The clause is peculiar to St. Matthew. It signifies that on love of God and love of man depend all the moral and religious, ceremonial and judicial precepts contained in the Law, all the utterances of the prophets, all the voices of history. Scripture enunciates the duty to God and our neighbour, shows the right method of fulfilling it, warns against the breach of it, gives examples of punishment and reward consequent upon the way in which the obligation has been treated. Thus the unity and integrity of revelation is demonstrated. Its Author is one; its design is uniform; it teaches one path, leading to one great end.
Christ's question to the Pharisees concerning the Messiah. (Mark 12:35-37; Luke 20:41-44.)
Jesus asked them. He spake generally to the assembled crowd in the temple (Mark), addressing no one in particular. The questioned becomes the questioner, and this with a great purpose. He had silenced his opponents, and opened profundities in Scripture hitherto unfathomed; he would now raise them to a higher theology; he would place before them a truth concerning the nature of the Messiah, which, if they received it, would lead them to accept him. It was as it were a last hope. He and the Pharisees had some common ground, which was wanting in the case of the Sadducees and Herodians (comp Acts 23:6); he would use this to support a last appeal. Let us observe the Divine patience and tenderness of Christ. Not to gain a victory over inveterate enemies, not to expose the ignorance of scribe and Pharisee, not to exhibit his own profound knowledge of the inner harmonies of God's Word, does he now put this question. He desires to win acceptance of his claims by the unanswerable argument of the Scripture which they revered; let them consider the exact meaning of a text often quoted, let them weigh each word with reverent care, and they would see that the predicted Messiah was not merely Son of David according to earthly descent, but was Jehovah himself; and that when he claimed to be Son of God, when he asserted, "I and my Father are one," he was vindicating for himself only what the prophet had affirmed of the nature of the Christ. He had, so to speak, hope that some among his hearers would accept this teaching, and save themselves amid that untoward generation. It was when this last hope failed, when he saw nothing but hardened hearts and wilful prejudice, that he uttered the woes and predictions in the following chapter.
What think ye of Christ? τοῦ Χριστοῦ, the Christ, the Messiah. What is your belief? What do you, the teachers of the people and the careful interpreters of Scripture, opine concerning the Messiah? Whose Son is he? This was a question the full bearing of which they did not comprehend, thinking that it referred only to his earthly descent. In their partial knowledge, perhaps half contemptuously, as to an inquiry familiar to all, they say unto him, The Son of David. So all prophecy had said, as they very well knew (Matthew 1:1).
He saith. They had answered glibly enough, not knowing what was to come of their natural admission; now Christ puts a difficulty before them which might have led them to pause and reflect upon what that assertion might connote. How then? Πῶς οὖν; If Christ is David's Son, how is it then, in what sense can it be said, etc.? Doth David in spirit can him Lord. "In spirit" means speaking under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit—an argument surely for the Divine authority of the Old Testament, when "holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost" (2 Peter 1:21). Christ proceeds to quote a passage from Psalms 110:1-7., acknowledged by the Jews to be Davidic and Messianic. Both these positions have been called in question in modem days, and sceptical critics have hence presumed to infer ignorance or deceit on the part of Christ; i.e. either that he did not know that the authorship was wrongly attributed to David, and that the psalm really referred to Maccabean times, or that, knowing these facts, he deliberately ignored them and endorsed a popular error in order to give colour to his argument. The statement of such a charge against our Lord is a sufficient refutation. Universal tradition, extending to this very time, which gave to the psalm a Messianic interpretation, is surely more worthy of credit than a theory elaborated in the present century, which in no respect regards the natural signification of the language, and can be made to support the novel idea only by forced and unreal accommodations. By speaking of David as having uttered the quoted words, Christ does not formally state that this king wrote the psalm; he merely gives the accepted view which classed it as Davidic. The authorship did not matter in his application; his argument was equally sound, whoever was the writer.
The Lord said unto my Lord (Psalms 110:1). The quotation is from the Septuagint. But neither this nor our English Version is an adequate rendering of the original, where the word translated "Lord" is not the same in both parts of the clause, More accurately, the solemn beginning of the psalm is thus given: "Utterance [or, 'oracle'] of Jehovah to my Lord (Adonai)." The psalmist acknowledges the recipient of the utterance as his sovereign Lord; this could be no earthly potentate, for on earth he had no such superior; Jewish tradition always applied the term unto the Messiah, or the Word. The prediction repeats the promise made by Nathan to David (2 Samuel 7:12), which had no fulfilment in his natural progeny, and could be regarded as looking forward only to the Messiah. Sit thou on my right hand. Thus Messiah is exalted to the highest dignity in heaven. Sitting at God's right hand does not necessarily imply complete Divine majesty (as Hengstenberg remarks), for the sons of Zebedee had asked for such a position in Messiah's earthly kingdom (Matthew 20:21); but it denotes supreme honour, association in government, authority second only to that of Monarch. This is said of Christ in his human nature. He is "equal to the Father, as touching his Godhead; inferior to the Father, as touching his manhood." In his Divine nature he could receive nothing; in his human nature all "power was given unto him in heaven and earth" (Matthew 28:18). Till I make (ἑìως ἀÌν θῷ) thine enemies thy footstool; ὑποποìδιον τῶν ποδῶν σου. This is the Septuagint reading. Many manuscripts here give ὑποκαìτω τῶν ποδῶν σου Till I put thine enemies underneath thy feet. Some few have both ὑποποìδιον and ὑποκαìτω. Vulgate, Donec ponam inimicos tuos scabellum pedum tuorum. The complete subjection of all adversaries is denoted; and they are subjected not merely for punishment and destruction, but, it may be, for salvation and glory. The relative particle "till" must not be pressed, as if Christ's session was to cease when his victory was completed. We have before had occasion to observe that the phrase, ἑìως οὗ, or ἑìως ἀÌν, asserts nothing of the future beyond the event specified. As St. Jerome says of such negative phrases, "Ita negant praeteritum ut non ponant futurum" (comp. Matthew 1:25; Matthew 5:26; Matthew 18:34). Of Christ's kingdom there is no end.
If David … Son? The argument is this: David speaks with highest reverence of Messiah, calling him his Lord: how is this attitude consistent with the fact that Messiah is David's Son? How can Messiah be both Son and Lord of David? We, who have learned the truth concerning the two natures of Christ, can readily answer the question. He is both "the Root and the Offspring of David" (Revelation 22:16). The Athanasian Creed offers the required solution of the seeming paradox: "God, of the substance of the Father, begotten before the worlds; and Man of the substance of his mother, born in the world; perfect God, and perfect Man … who although he be God and Man, yet he is not two, but one Christ." Here was an explanation (if the Pharisees took his words to heart) of much that had excited their indignation, and caused cavil and carping. He claimed to be the Messiah; and Messiah, as Scripture presented him, had a twofold nature. When, therefore, he asserted equality with the Father when he, "being man, made himself God" (John 10:33), he was vindicating that Divine nature which he as Messiah possessed. Jesus did not further elucidate this mystery. He had given food for reflection; he had unfolded the hidden meaning of Scripture; he had shown the shallowness of the popular exegesis; the knowledge was here; there was wanting only the will to raise the flower of faith in the heart of these obdurate hearers.
No man was able to answer him a word. They could not confute Christ's arguments; they would not receive and ponder them; so they held their peace. Had they had a real desire to be instructed, they would have profited by the present occasion; coming to the light with honest and good hearts, they would have been enlightened. But this was far from their wish, so they went away empty. Neither durst any man. They perceived that they could gain no advantage over Christ by such methods of attack. Pharisees, Herodians, Sadducees, had ignominiously succumbed; to make a fresh assault was to court a fresh defeat, Seeing this, they dared no longer tempt him in this way. Henceforward they would use other tactics. Treachery and violence must now play their part. These weapons would be more successful in compassing the destruction of the innocent Victim.
The parable of the marriage feast.
I. THE FIRST INVITATION.
1. The King. This parable resembles the parable of the great supper in Luke 14:1-35.; but it was delivered at a different time, under different circumstances. It differs also in its ending and in many of its details. It cannot possibly be, as some have thought, a mere variation of that parable. The King is God the Father, the Lord God omnipotent. He made a marriage for his Son. The marriage is the union between Christ and his Church—the union described by St. Paul in the Epistle to the Ephesians (Ephesians 5:23-27); the union which is to reach its perfect consummation and bliss in God's eternal and everlasting glory (Revelation 19:7-9; Revelation 21:9, Revelation 21:10). The bride is the Church, regarded in its ideal character, as one, holy, catholic, apostolic. The invited. guests are those who have been called into the Church, taken individually. So in Revelation 21:1-27., the holy city, regarded as a whole, is the bride, the Lamb's wife; while in Revelation 21:27, individual saints, they which are written in the Lamb's book of life, are described as entering into it. The King made the marriage. The choice of the Church lies in the eternal purpose of God, the election of God the Father. "God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son." He determined, in his gracious love, to sanctify our human nature, by uniting it to the Divine nature in the Person of his only begotten Son. The Son of God loved the Church, and gave himself for it, that he might present it to himself a glorious Church. The parable describes the preparations for the marriage; not the glorious marriage supper of the Lamb, when the bride shall have made herself ready, arrayed in fine linen, clean and white. For that marriage supper is the blissful consummation of the mystical union of the bride with the heavenly Bridegroom; all who are admitted there are blessed. The marriage feast of the parable is the kingdom of heaven which the Lord came to establish upon earth; the Church, his bride, is not yet in the full sense ready; she has not yet been transfigured by his grace into the likeness of the heavenly Bridegroom; her robes are not yet whiter than snow, made white in the blood of the Lamb. But she is even now his chosen bride, though she needs purification and sanctification. The great Catholic Church, the whole congregation of Christian people upon earth, is the figure, the beginning, of the congregation of the redeemed in heaven. The privileges offered to the faithful are spiritual communion with Christ through the gift of the Holy Spirit, access to our Father in heaven through the atonement once made upon the cross, the blessed sacrament in which all true believers are strengthened and refreshed with heavenly food; all these are a foretaste of that great marriage supper which the Lord is preparing in heaven for those who are being sanctified by his Holy Spirit upon earth.
2. His servants. The King sent forth his servants to call them which were bidden (as Esther sent the chamberlain to bring Haman to the banquet to which she had invited him the day before); but they would not come. The servants were John the Baptist, the twelve, the seventy. They called the Jews, God's chosen people, bidden long ago, to receive the salvation, the full gospel privileges of which all the prophets had spoken. The Lord himself called them. "If any man thirst," he said, "let him come unto me, and drink;" "He that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst." But, alas! they would not come. "Ye wilt not come to me," he said in his Divine sorrow, "that ye might have life." Again the King sent other servants. He did not at once reject his ancient people for their stubbornness and disobedience. He sent again, and now the message was more urgent: "I have prepared my dinner [it was not the supper, δεῖπνον; but the midday meal, ἀìριστον, which would mark the beginning of the marriage festivities]: my oxen and my fatlings are killed, and all things are ready." The other servants were the apostles and evangelists sent forth to preach after the great Day of Pentecost. Now the Sacrifice had been offered, the Victim had been slain. The eternal purpose of God had been fulfilled in that one sufficient Sacrifice, Oblation, and Satisfaction for the sins of the whole world. All things were now ready. These other servants preached first to the Jews; but still, as a people, they would not come. They made light of the gracious invitation; some, heedless and thoughtless, went their ways, caring only for the present life, its business or its pleasures. One went to his field: he was a man of landed property; he had all that he wanted. Another went to his merchandise: he was absorbed in the pursuit of gain; he had no time, no thoughts for other things. Both neglected the King's invitation: they had no desire for the royal banquet. Others, more zealous and more violent, because they were zealous for their own exclusive privileges, not for the honour and glory of God, persecuted and slew the servants of the King—the holy Martyr Stephen, the Apostle St. James, and many other saints of God.
3. The wrath of the King. The King marked these wicked deeds. There was no need that others should repeat them to him (the words, "when he beard thereof," seem not to be genuine); he knoweth all things. He was wroth. Those wicked men had despised his grace and bounty; they had slain his messengers. He bore with them in his long suffering mercy till their iniquity was full. Then he sent forth his armies; he destroyed those murderers, and burned up their city. The Lord saw again in prophetic vision that awful visitation over which he had wept when he looked upon Jerusalem from the Mount of Olives: "They shall lay thee even with the ground, and thy children within thee." Then he spoke in Divine pity and sorrow, now in the tones of awful justice. It must be so; they are hardened in their wilful unbelief; they will add sin to sin; the dreadful day must come. The wrath of the King is fearful exceedingly; the terror of the Lord is overwhelming. Let us listen to the gentle calling of his grace while there is time.
II. THE SECOND INVITATION.
1. The message. Again the King sent forth his servants. The marriage feast was ready; the fountain was opened for sin and for uncleanness; the living Bread which came down from heaven was offered to men; all were invited to take of the water of life freely. They which had been bidden were not worthy. They judged themselves unworthy of everlasting life (Acts 13:46). The King bade his servants go into the highways, and call all, without distinction, as many as they should find: "Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature."
2. The obedience of the servants. They did according to the bidding of the King; they went into the highways, and gathered together as many as they found. The apostles and evangelists preached everywhere, whithersoever they could go; they gathered together a great company from all parts of the world. And now the wedding was furnished with guests, the halls of the palace were filled. For the messengers had worked hard, and had brought all who would come, without distinction of race, or social position, or education, or even of moral character; bad and good alike were invited, not only the righteous, but publicans and sinners also. The good (in the human sense of the word) would become better; the bad might, by the gift of grace, be cleansed and converted and saved. All alike were called to the dinner; that is, to the blessings and privileges of the gospel, which are an antepast of the full joy of heaven.
III. THE WEDDING GARMENT.
1. The King's question. The King's house was full; the guests were already at the festal board (τουÌς ἀνακειμεìνους). The King came in to see them. His eye ranged through that great assembly. He saw all—every one. There was one who had not on a wedding garment. He had been brought from the highways; he had come just as he was; with clothes, perhaps, worn and ragged, soiled and filthy. How was it? The other guests were all suitably attired. They too had been gathered from the highways; there were high and low, good and bad, among them. But whatever they were when they were bidden, whatever was their condition then, all had wedding garments now. This one alone was "clothed with filthy garments," like Joshua the high priest when he stood before the angel (Zechariah 3:3); but he was not now, like Joshua, clothed with change of raiment. The King's eye found him out. He could not be hid, though, we may well believe, he sought to escape that piercing look. "Friend," the King said (the word does not imply intimacy and affection, but only knowledge and acquaintance; it is used in the rebuke of the discontented husbandmen, Matthew 20:13, and by our Lord to Judas, Matthew 26:50), "how earnest thou in hither not having a wedding garment?" The question is gently expressed, but the negative particle used (μηÌ ἐìχων) seems to appeal to the man's consciousness; it seems to imply that he was aware of his condition, and knew that he was transgressing the rules of decorum. He was speechless; he could find no answer, no excuse. It may be that festal garments for all the guests were provided by the bounty of the King; this unhappy man had contemptuously rejected the offered gift; he had preferred his own mean and sordid raiment; he appeared at the King's board just as he had come from the highway, with no change, no preparation. Certainly, he had taken no pains to provide himself with suitable attire; plainly, he might have done so; all the other guests were clad in wedding robes; why was he in this unseemly garb? He could find no excuse; he could not plead want of time; the rest had found time. He could not plead ignorance; the others knew how the robes were to be procured. He could not plead poverty; the bounty of the King was inexhaustible. His presence in that guise was an insult to the King, a dishonour to the high festival to which he had been invited. He was unworthy of a place among the chosen guests. The wedding garment is the righteousness of saints (Revelation 19:8); "but we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags" (Isaiah 64:6). Yet, thank God, we may find a place among the guests of the King, for Jesus Christ our Lord "is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption." We must "put on the Lord Jesus Christ" (Romans 13:14). We must appear before the King, "not having our own righteousness, which is of the Law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith." The robe of righteousness is ours, and yet not ours. It is the righteousness of saints, because it has been given to them. "To her was granted that she should be arrayed in fine linen" (Revelation 19:8). The King giveth the fair garments freely in his large and generous bounty. But that righteousness was not of nature; they were born in sin. It was not gained by any works of theirs; by the deeds of the Law there shall no flesh be justified in the sight of God (Romans 3:20). It is a gift; it cometh of grace, the grace of God, "who giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not." We must seek it of him, for without that robe of righteousness we cannot sit among the guests at the marriage feast.
2. The King's sentence. The King made no further inquiries; he read the heart of the miserable man; he knew his history. He pronounced at once the awful sentence: "Then said the King to the servants." These servants (διαìκονοι) are not the same as the servants (δοῦλοι) who were sent forth to call the guests. They were Christ's apostles and evangelists; these are the angels of judgment, who "shall gather out of his kingdom all things that offend, and them which do iniquity" (Matthew 13:41). They were bidden to bind him hand and foot, and cast him into outer darkness. The time for repentance was past; he might have procured the wedding garment; he had taken no pains to obtain it; he had not even asked for it; nay, we must believe he had rejected it when it was offered him out of the bounty of the King. Now it was too late; he was helpless; bound hand and foot, he could not seek it now. And without that wedding garment there was no place for him in the palace of the King. He must be cast out into the outer darkness; that outer darkness thrice mentioned in this Gospel of St. Matthew (see Matthew 8:12 and Matthew 25:30), and always with the solemn addition, "There shall be the weeping and gnashing of teeth." Out of the kingdom of light into the kingdom of darkness; away from the joy and gladness, away from the presence of the King, away from the happy guests; into that place of remorse and misery where there is only weeping and gnashing of teeth; bitter remorse for the past, and, alas! no hope for the future. Bound hand and foot as he now is, through his own contempt of the great King, he cannot attain unto that holiness without which (let us well ponder the awful words) no man shall see the Lord.
3. The conclusion of the parable. "For many are called, but few are chosen." The words have a more awful meaning here than they can have in Matthew 20:16, if, indeed, they are genuine in that place. In Matthew 20:1-34. all receive the reward; the concluding words seem to point to the few who are chosen for the highest places in the kingdom of God. Here the distinction is plainly between the saved and the lost. Many were called to the marriage; few only came; of those few one was cast out, even as the traitor Judas, though one of the twelve apostles of the Lord, went to his own place. So now there are many open sinners, many more utterly apathetic and indifferent, and, alas! even among those who outwardly obey the calling, who come to church, and use the appointed means of grace, even among those who come to the holy table of the Lord, there are (we fear, in sadness and perplexity) not a few who have not given their hearts unto the Lord, who have not that white raiment (Revelation 3:18) which may be bought of him without money and without price. In the parable only one of those who obeyed the calling is cast out. It is a parable of the long suffering mercy of our God. The King sends again and again. He is not willing that any should perish. But it is a parable also of his all-seeing justice. His eye searches out that one unworthy guest among the crowd. He knows the sins, the negligences, the unbelief of each individual member of his Church. None can stand before his face without that holiness which is so great, so precious, so awful a thing, which so few of us can dare to say or think that we have. He bids us buy the white raiment of him; let us come and buy, counting all things else as dross, that we may "put on the Lord Jesus Christ," and be clothed with that humility, that charity, which are woven into the white robe of his righteousness. Few are chosen. They who choose God for their portion on earth are chosen by him to be with him in heaven. Our choice of him proves that his choice has rested upon us. He first called us. Let us give diligence to make our calling and election sure.
1. It is God himself who calls us; to refuse that gracious calling must be fearful guilt.
2. The privileges of the Church will not avail without holiness of heart and life.
3. Think of that weeping and gnashing of teeth; and pray and strive and hunger after righteousness.
The question of tribute.
I. THE TEMPTATION.
1. The coalition. The Pharisees were greatly offended. They as well as the chief priests (Matthew 21:45) perceived that these parables were spoken of them. Their conscience smote them; they felt in their hearts the truthfulness of the Saviour's words; they knew that his censure was just. But, instead of acknowledging their guilt, they blazed into wrath; instead of confessing their sin, they sought to destroy the great Teacher who had exposed it. They shrank from nothing; they would make friends even with the Herodians to compass their designs, as they had done once before (Mark 3:6). The two parties were wholly opposed to one another; the one, fiercely zealous for the Law; the other, merely political, utterly indifferent to religion; now they acted together for a time, united by their common hatred to our Lord. They could sink their differences, fundamental as they were, to bring about his death, to murder him whose teaching, very high and pure and holy as they knew it to be, exposed the hollow formalism of the Pharisees, the time serving indifference of the Herodians. Surely the heart of man is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked.
2. The snare. They determined to lay a trap for him. The Pharisees sent with the Herodians their own disciples, young men whom, it may be, they thought the Lord would not recognize; the elders of the party had often stood opposed to him. They were to submit to the Lord, as if for his decision, a question which might well have arisen in controversy with the Herodians. The approached him with flattery; they called him "Master," "Teacher;" they praised his impartiality, his justice, his truth. Then came the insidious question, "Is it lawful to give tribute to Caesar, or not?" They thought the dilemma one from which there was no escape. Answer as he might, there lay on either side a terrible danger: he might take his choice of provoking the fanaticism of the Jews or the hostility of the Romans. The only other source, it seemed to them, would be that ignominious confession of ignorance which that same day the Lord had forced from the chief priests and scribes.
II. THE LORD'S VICTORY.
1. The exposure. "Why tempt ye me, ye hypocrites?" He was high above the reach of flattery; he heeded not the praise of men. He knew their hearts. He called them hypocrites; they were acting a part; smooth words were on their lips; the malice of hell was in their hearts. But they were foiled. "Show me the tribute money," the Lord said. The coin produced bore the image and superscription of Caesar.
2. The answer. It was full of wisdom. The Lord did not evade the question, yet he did not expose himself to their malicious accusations. He laid down a great principle—a principle far-reaching in its applications, and fitted to regulate the conduct of men in all ages. "Render therefore unto Caesar the things which are Caesar's, and unto God the things that are God's." Caesar had his rights; the fact that his coin was current in Palestine showed that the Jews were under his government, under the protection of his laws. The Lord does not enter into any political discussions; be simply refers his questioners to the logic of facts. As a fact, Caesar was paramount; in the providence of God, Palestine had come under his dominion; the Jews used money coined in his mint; that denarius which they had just put into the Lord's hand was stamped with his name and image. Therefore it was lawful, it was more than lawful, it was a duty, to pay tribute unto Caesar, for that tribute was Caesar's due. "Render therefore to all their dues," St. Paul wrote afterwards; "tribute to whom tribute is due; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honour to whom honour." Christianity does not interfere with the obedience due to the laws under which we live. But if the denarius was due to Caesar, the half-shekel was due to God; the Herodians must not forget this. "Render unto God the things that are God's." The principle is of wide application. "Ye are not your own," the apostle tells us. God made man after his own image. He wrote his law in the heart. That image was marred, not wholly lost, by the Fall (see Genesis 9:6; James 3:9). It may be recovered; God's chosen must bear the image of the heavenly; they must be conformed to the image of his Son, changed into the same image from glory to glory, renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created them. Then if we render unto God the things that are God's, we shall give him ourselves, our souls and bodies, which are his—his by right of creation, his again by right of redemption, for we are bought with a price. The second clause of our Saviour's rule both qualifies and includes the first. We may not give unto Caesar the things that are God's; if, unhappily, there should be a collision between our duty to God and our obedience to the civil power, we mast obey God rather than man. Under all other circumstances, in rendering unto Caesar the things which are Caesar's, we so far render unto God the things which are God's; for "the powers that be are ordained of God: whosoever therefore resisteth the power resisteth the ordinance of God." The great principle of obedience to God covers the whole of the Christian life. Our duty to God contains and implies our duty to our neighbour. The best Christian will be the best subject, the best son, the best servant.
1. Hate flattery. Do not flatter others; speak the truth.
2. Render unto all their dues. The Christian must be just in his dealings, obedient to the law.
3. Give God his dues—your whole heart.
I. THEIR CASE OF CASUISTRY.
1. Their doctrine. They held that there was no resurrection, neither angel, nor spirit (Acts 23:8). Some of them now came to Christ, asserting their unbelief. They had not hitherto, like the Pharisees, taken a decided stand against our Lord. The chief priests, indeed, who were Sadducees, had been provoked into hostility by our Lord's action in the temple; but we do not read of Sadducees, as such, joining in the opposition against the Lord before this time, except in the one case mentioned by St. Matthew (Matthew 16:1). They were few in number, but rich and powerful through their possession of the chief places in the Church. Their rank, their sceptical tendencies, seem to have led them to regard our Lord up to the present time rather with indifference than with active hostility. They had not hitherto taken much interest in his teaching and miracles. But he had become a power in the land, the most conspicuous Figure in Palestine; they could not go on ignoring him as they had done. Sadduceeism and Pharisaism represent tendencies diametrically opposed to one another, yet sometimes united in opposition to the truth. Philosophic indifference on the one side, superstition and hypocrisy on the other, are the two opposite poles of opinion. Both stand aloof from that simple, loving, earnest faith which marks the real follower of Christ; sometimes they unite against it.
2. Their question. They proposed a difficulty, a possible complication arising out of the institution of levirate marriage. A woman, they suppose, had married in succession seven brothers: whose wife should she be in the resurrection? Some of the rabbis had already decided the question—a woman who had been married more than once would, they thought, be the wife of the first husband in the world to come. So said the rabbis but what was the opinion of the great Teacher from Nazareth?
II. THE LORD'S REPLY.
1. To their question. "Ye do err," he said. They were wandering this way and that, far from the truth; and the cause of that error was:
(1) Their ignorance of the Scriptures. We observe that the Lord did not attribute the error of the Sadducees to their rejection of an oral Mosaic tradition, which was one of the fundamental differences between them and the Pharisees. They received the Pentateuch as of Divine authority; it seems certain also that they regarded the other Scriptures of the Old Testament as sacred books, though this has been denied by Origen, Epiphanius, Jerome, and others after them. But they held the Pentateuch to be of paramount importance, far more sacred than other books of Holy Scripture; and they could not find there the doctrine of a resurrection. The Lord accuses them of ignorance; they knew the letter of Scripture, though probably not so well as their rivals the Pharisees; but they did not compare Scripture with Scripture; they had no spiritual insight; they did not penetrate into its inner meaning. Ignorance of the Scriptures is a fruitful cause of error. We all need to be diligent students of God's Holy Word; but we need more than study; we need constant earnest prayer for the Holy Spirit's guidance: "Open thou mine eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of thy Law."
(2) Ignoranee of the power of God. They had not felt the power of God in their own hearts, lifting them up to himself. This absence of spiritual experience had led them to disbelieve that marvellous exercise of Divine power which is involved in the doctrine of the resurrection. The Pharisees accepted the doctrine, but they held it in a gross and carnal form. This the Sadducees rejected; but they would not believe that, though flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, yet this earthly body, sown a natural body, shall by the power of God be raised a spiritual body, that this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. In the resurrection they neither marry nor are given in marriage, as the Pharisees taught. The resurrection life is wholly different from this earthly life of ours. The resurrection body has not the animal nature of this natural body. Love will continue, purified and deepened; husband and wife, once joined together by God, cannot be put asunder. But the bond of love will be elevated, refined, spiritualized. For they which are accounted worthy to obtain that world and the resurrection from the dead can die no more. Marriage, in its earthly aspect, is no longer necessary. The redeemed are as the angels of God in heaven; "equal to the angels" (Lake 20:36)—equal to them in purity and holiness and love; equal to them in joy and blessedness; equal to them in all spiritual endowments, in beauty and glory and strength; capable of serving God as the blessed angels serve him, of loving God as the blessed angels love him, of contemplating with adoring gaze his infinite perfections, his wisdom, love, power, holiness, as the blessed angels see him now; needing rest no longer, but ever flesh and glad and unwearied in the ineffable fruition of the beatific vision; where "they rest not day and night, saying, Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, which was, and is, and is to come."
2. To their doctrine. The Lord turns to the fundamental error of the Sadducees. These men had come to him (according to the reading of several ancient manuscripts) asserting that error, saying that there is no resurrection. The Lord refers them to the books of Moses. "Have ye not read?" he said, in the form of words which he used so often. We mark how he insists upon the duty of searching the Scriptures, how he urges it again and again. He quotes the Book of Exodus. There are more distinct assertions of the great truth of the resurrection in other books of the Old Testament, but the Sadducees regarded the Pentateuch as of supreme authority, and it seems that their rejection of the doctrine was mainly based on the supposed silence of Moses. Therefore the Lord refers them to the Law, which they set above the other Scriptures. He insists upon the revelation made to Moses when the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a flame of fire out of the midst of a bush: "I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob." The Lord draws out the deep meaning of the sacred words. That relation to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob implies their continued existence. For "God is not the God of the dead, but of the living." He is the Eternal, the I AM, the Self-existent One, absolute and unconditioned in his everlasting, infinite Being. He is the Life; he giveth life; he breathed into man's nostrils the breath of life. That gift of life, the gift which he gave to that man whom he created in his own image, alter his own likeness, is not a mere temporary gift, not the gift of a few short years, to be spent, perhaps, in trouble and sorrow. Such a view of God's great gift of life is disparaging to the Almighty, the all-loving Giver. Surely more than this is contained in the relation in which he stands to his people; more than this is implied in the simple words in which that relation is expressed: "their God." Indeed, he himself tells us so in his Holy Word: "God is not ashamed to he called their God: for he hath prepared for them a city." He is the God of Abraham. Then Abraham is not dead. Abraham confessed that he was a pilgrim and stranger upon earth; he desired a better country, that is, a heavenly one; he looked for a city which hath foundations, whose Builder and Maker is God. "Abraham is dead, and the prophets," the Jews said to our Lord. But his life is hidden with God; "all live unto him." God knows, sees, comprehends, in his Divine omniscience, the separate life of each individual soul, that from the time of the creation until now has passed into the assemblage of the countless millions in the spirit world. They do not sleep idly; they live. He knows them every one. The thought is to us overwhelming in its vastness, in the infinite complexity of the problems which it suggests. But with God all things are possible. The Sadducees greatly erred, not knowing the Scriptures, nor the power of God. Let us ask him to teach us by the grace of his Holy Spirit the deep meaning of his Holy Word; and let us believe in his almighty power, and walk before him in reverence and godly fear.
1. Guard against the cold indifference of the Sadducees; pray for faith and love and zeal.
2. Search the Scriptures; pray for grace to understand them.
3. Think much of the blessed resurrection. Oh that we may attain unto the resurrection of the just!
I. THE QUESTION OF THE LAWYER.
1. The gathering of the Pharisees. The multitude were astonished at the wisdom, the deep and holy teaching, of the blessed Lord. He had answered the pretended difficulties of the Sadducees, and had proved the great doctrine of the resurrection from the very books which they prized most highly. The Pharisees heard that he had put their adversaries to silence. They came together. Their feelings, doubtless, were various: many of them were angry and troubled at the Lord's success and popularity; some were vexed at his superiority in theological argument,—he had done what they could not do; some few had better motives.
2. The lawyer. He had beard the Lord reasoning with the Sadducees; like the scribes mentioned by St. Luke (Luke 20:39), he perceived that he had answered them well, that he knew far better than himself the meaning of that Law of Moses which the scribes and lawyers professed to understand and to teach. He asked him a question, tempting him. We must not take it for granted that the intention was evil. The word may mean no more than "trying" him, as "God did tempt Abraham," trying his faith; as the Queen of Sheba came to "prove Solomon with hard questions." We know from St. Mark's narrative that the lawyer or scribe belonged to the better class of Pharisees. He recognized the wisdom of our Lord, and felt the truth and holiness of his words. "Which is the great commandment in the Law?" he said; or, as the words may perhaps be rendered, "What sort of commandment is great?" He may have been thinking of the Pharisaic distinction of commandments into great and small, heavy and light.
3. The Lord's answer.
(1) The great commandment. The Lord does not lay down mechanical rules; he does not compare the commandments with one another, and estimate their comparative importance. He states at once a great principle, "Thou shalt love." Selfishness is the bane and curse of our nature. Love is the refining, elevating power. The highest form of love must have the highest object, and that is God himself. "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God." The Jews owned the importance of this commandment; they wore it in their phylacteries; the Lord bids us carry it in our hearts. Men may say that the affections are not directly under our own control like individual actions; we cannot hope or fear, hate or love, at the bidding of another. Love is essentially spontaneous; it cannot be forced; forced love is no true love; it is not love at all. But God bids us love him; he would not mock us with an impossible commandment. He helps us to obey it by his Word, by his grace. Love produces love. God reveals to us his own great love in the life and death of Jesus Christ our Lord. Love implies personal knowledge. God "shineth into his people's hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ." The love of God is the first of all the commandments. We must not be contented with our spiritual state unless we are sincerely and earnestly striving to obey it. The measure of that love is the measure of the whole heart and soul and mind: the heart, the centre of our being; the soul, the seat of the affections and desires; the mind, the home of thought and reason. The love of God must dwell in all these parts of our complex nature, filling the whole man with its gracious sanctifying influence; we must try to love him with the whole strength of all our highest faculties. Such love, the first duty of the Christian, is also the source of his sweetest, holiest joy. There is no earthly joy like that which flows from the love of those dearest to us; and as the love of God is of all forms of love beyond comparison the highest, so the joy which streams from that love is of all joys unutterably the deepest and the most blessed. It is the foretaste of heaven, for the joy of heaven is to love God perfectly, and to know and feel the great love of God. St. Peter says that those who love him now "rejoice in him with joy unspeakable and full of glory." And if that be true of those who now see him not save by faith, what must be the entrancing gladness of those who see him face to face, as he is, in his kingdom?
(2) The second commandment. There is a second, the Lord said, like unto the first: "Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself." Like the first, it prescribes a pure and unselfish love. And it issues from the first, for Christian love is not mere human good nature; it is a grace—it is the love of those whom God loves, because he loves them. The two commandments are like one another. Both say, "Thou shalt love;" the word "love" in both is the same; not φιλεῖν, which expresses feeling, affection, passion; but ἀγαπᾶν, which is the love of reverence, respect. We are bidden to honour all men; to respect their rights, their feelings; to reverence in all men, however humble and ignorant, the image of God; to remember that all are precious in the sight of Christ, ransomed with his life, redeemed with his precious blood. And that love, that respect, should be like the feelings with which we regard ourselves—true, real, sincere. As we care for ourselves, for our own comfort and happiness; so, if we are Christ's true disciples, we must care for the comfort and happiness of others. Our love for others must be like the love with which we regard ourselves—like it in reality, in strength. On these two commandments hang all the Law and the prophets. "He that loveth another hath fulfilled the Law;" for the great principle, "Thou shalt love," covers the whole sphere of human action and duties; and, if once accepted and received into the heart, will regulate all the details of life, and guide the Christian aright in all his relations to others, at all times, under all circumstances. The commandments of God, whether expressed in the Law or the prophets, are not so many scattered, unconnected rules; they run up into one great principle; they are all developed from the one law of love.
II. THE COUNTER QUESTIONS OF THE LORD.
1. The first question. The Pharisees were still gathered together; most of them were filled with jealousy and hatred. All so understood the great truth of the unity of the Godhead as to suppose it impossible to regard the expected Messiah as other than merely human. Hence the Saviour's question, "What think ye concerning the Christ [the Messiah]? whose Son is he?" They thought the answer easy. They knew that the Scripture had said that the Christ cometh of the seed of David; they had said so before (John 7:42), and now they answered at once, "The Son of David."
2. The second question. Jesus quoted the hundred and tenth psalm—a psalm regarded by the rabbis as Messianic, "The Lord said unto my Lord [Jehovah said unto Adoni], Sit thou at my right hand." How could David speak of the Christ as his Lord? How could the Son of David be the Lord of David? David spoke in the Spirit, by the inspiration of the Holy Ghost. How did they, the teachers of Israel, understand those sacred words? They could not answer him. They did not deny the Messianic character of the psalm, as, alas! some do without good reason now. They believed that the psalm was David's, and that he was speaking of the Christ; but they did not know, as we know, that Christ "was made of the seed of David according to the flesh; and declared to be the Son of God with power, according to the Spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead;" that he was "God, of the substance of the Father, begotten before the worlds; and Man, of the substance of his mother, born in the world." We can answer the Lord's question readily; we know the Christian faith. The Pharisees could not answer him a word; and none from that time durst ask him any more questions.
1. "The great commandment is, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God." Keep that commandment, and you are safe; neglect it, and no exactness of external obedience will atone for that neglect.
2. The second commandment is like it: "Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself." It is the rule which must guide the Christian in his relations to others.
3. "What think ye of Christ?" He is the Son of God; he became for our sake also the Son of man. He is our God, our Saviour, our Example, our Life, our All in all.
HOMILIES BY W.F. ADENEY
The marriage feast.
The opening of this parable reminds us of the feast of wisdom in the Book of Proverbs (Proverbs 9:1-5). But there is an advance beyond the Old Testament ideas. Now the interest is no longer centred in the abstraction "wisdom," but the king and his son, representing God and Jesus Christ, make the feast one of supreme importance. So much the greater, then, must be the folly of those who decline to attend.
I. THE ROYAL PREPARATIONS. Much must be done to provide so great and sumptuous a feast as shall be fit for the wedding of a king's son. But all these elaborate preparations have been completed. Much was needed to make ready the gospel and its privileges, the new Christian blessings, the festival of the marriage of the Lamb with his bride the Church. But God has made all ready; he has provided the Bread of life and all the bounties of the gospel. They have been produced at the greatest possible cost, and now they are spread out in readiness for the guests. We have not to manufacture our own highest blessings; God offers them freely to us. We have not to wait for them; they are all ready in this happy Christian era.
II. THE SHAMEFUL REFUSALS. Those first invited refuse to come. Their conduct, is scandalous, and that for several reasons.
1. The feast was important. It was for the wedding of a king's son. The king was the host, and a king's invitation is a command. Yet the guests made light of it. They who reject the gospel reject the gift of God, and insult him.
2. The guests had previously consented to come. This is plainly implied, because the message sent to them is merely a reminder that all is now ready. So was it with the Jews. So is it with those who once showed interest in Christ and have since grown cold.
3. There was no valid excuse for refusal. The men went their ways, one to his farm and another to his merchandise. There is no good excuse for the rejection of the gospel of Christ. Too often the most commonplace worldly interests are preferred to it.
4. The messengers were cruelly maltreated. A certain irritation arising from a consciousness of being in the wrong makes people angry with those who would lead them into the right way.
III. THE GUESTS FROM THE HIGHWAYS. The king must have his feast stocked with guests, if only with tramps and beggars. This suggests to us a desire on the part of God to find those on whom he can bestow his kindness. It is as though he were possessed with social sympathies and could not endure to be alone in his joy. Thus we see the best of all reasons for accepting his grace. There can be no doubt that he will welcome all who come, because he hungers for souls. Observe further:
1. The rejection of Christ by the Jews led to the opening of the kingdom to the Gentiles. This would have happened in any case, but the conduct of the Jews expedited and facilitated the process (e.g. see Acts 13:46).
2. It is not man's desert, but God's loving kindness, that invites to the gospel feast.
IV. THE WEDDING, GARMENT. The dramatic incident with which the parable closes gives us a shock of surprise. Here is an additional, most important lesson. All kinds of people are invited, and some are in a very unfit state to appear at the wedding feast. But the king provides a seemly garment, that the dingy dress of everyday life may not mar the beauty of the festival. God invites all sorts and conditions of men to the feast of the gospel, and even the very lowest may come at once. But God provides them a new character. If a man will not take this, if he seeks the privileges of the gospel, but will not submit to its changing influence on his character, he must be cast forth. He can come just as he is; but he must not remain just as he is, especially as God provides for him a better way of life.—W.F.A.
Tribute to Caesar.
It is easy to see the trap that the Pharisees induced the Herodians to set for our Lord. If he refused to sanction the paying of tribute to Caesar, he could be accused of sedition against the Roman government; if he consented to sanction it, he could be held up to the Jews as unpatriotic, and therefore not fit to be thought of as the Messiah. His skilful answer set the question in its true light, and also lifted it into a higher region, and added what his tormentors could not refute, although they were far from being prepared to carry out all that the words of Christ involved.
I. THE DUTY TO CAESAR IS NOT TO BE DENIED. The words and actions of Christ implied an affirmative answer to the question of the Herodians. But they went further, justifying his reply by deducing it from their conduct. The coinage of Caesar was accepted by the Jews. The image of the gloomy Tiberius was on the denarii that circulated in their metropolitan markets. This fact shows that the Jews were submitting to the Roman yoke. Then they must act accordingly.
1. We owe duties to the civil government. Religion, which makes us citizens of heaven, does not allow us to renounce our citizenship on earth. It is a duty for Christian men to take part in politics. To refuse to do so is to hand over public affairs to those who are not guided by Christian principles, i.e. to degrade the state. Those good people who are too holy to touch politics are not above profiting by the good laws and just government that other men have laboured to bring about. Under a tyranny the authorities claim tribute; in a free country the people claim self-sacrificing service.
2. Jesus Christ did not come to produce apolitical revolution. The fanatics expected this of the Messiah; the zealots tried to effect it; but Jesus always behaved as a law-abiding citizen. We cannot say that he would never sanction revolution, or the attempt of brave people to throw off the yoke of a cruel tyranny. There was no opportunity to do this in the days of Christ. Nor did our Lord come as a political agitator. He came to regenerate the state as well as the individual, but he wrought at this task from within and spiritually, by inspiring the principles on which good government must be carried on.
II. THE DUTY TO GOD IS NOT TO BE NEGLECTED. This was ignored by the Herodians in their "wickedness" (Matthew 22:18).
1. God has claims upon us. If Caesar has his due, so—nay, much more—has God. His claim, like Caesar's, is one of rule and authority. He expects obedience. While Caesar also expects tribute, God too c]aims tribute—tribute he seeks from men; and this is nothing less than their hearts. What is due to God is the surrender of ourselves and all we have.
2. There is no collision between the secular and the religious. We can render Caesar's due while we are also rendering God's, and God's while we are rendering Caesar's. Politics do not exclude religion, any more than religion can dispense with politics. Each subject has its own function. Yet they are not coordinate, and if there were a conflict, the duty to God must prevail, as in the case of the Christian martyrs. But then Caesar required of the martyrs what was not his due.
3. Politics must not be substituted for religion. The best service rendered to Caesar will not free a man from his duty to serve God. There is a fascination in public life that threatens to absorb a man's total energy. This is a temptation that must be resisted. The great name of Caesar dominated the old world; other exacting influences go far to rule our own age. we need to be on our guard lest they crowd out the thought of God.—W.F.A.
The God of the living.
According to his wonderful custom, Jesus turns the conversation from a frivolous, unworthy course to a subject of loftiest import. The unseemly Sadducean jest (Matthew 22:23-28) is rebuked, and a great thought is suggested in its stead. Our Lord utterly repudiates the notion that the resurrection will be a return to such a life as we now see on earth. But that there is a future life he distinctly teaches, and here he gives us a reason for expecting it. Let us examine this.
I. THE NAME OF GOD IS ASSOCIATED WITH THE PATRIARCHS. Thus we have a familiar Divine title, for God is known by his revelation to Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, etc. We worship the same God whom our fathers worshipped. All that they discovered of God remains to us as an inherited possession of knowledge. Thus we have not to feel after an unknown God if haply we may find him. History has revealed God. Not the patriarchs alone, but our own Christian ancestors have handed down to us an experience of God. They knew and loved him, and he is presented to us for love and faith as the God of our fathers. Still, it may be said, while this helps us in relation to God, it does not reveal anything concerning the present existence of the blessed dead. We think of God as he was in relation to those departed men; thus we come to a certain knowledge of God; but this rests entirely in the past. What does it tell us concerning the men whose histories are the mirrors in which it is reflected to us? We must proceed to a further inquiry.
II. GOD IS ESSENTIALLY IMMUTABLE. What he was to the patriarchs that he is to us now. This was partially confirmed—confirmed as far as the time would allow, in the days of the patriarchs. What Abraham learnt of God, Isaac found to be true, and the same was confirmed in the experience of Jacob. The three generations of the patriarchs knew one and the same God, and they all found him to be changeless.
III. THE ETERNITY OF GOD'S LOVE LEADS US TO RELIEVE IN THE CONTINUED LIFE OF HIS CHILDREN. If God is immutable, his love must be eternal. Loving once, he loves forever. It is not enough for him to transfer his affection to successive generations. It is of the nature of love to dwell without cessation on the objects beloved. But if God loves his children on earth, he will not cease to love them when they die; and if he loves them still, he will desire to see them, and will therefore desire their continued being. Thus the love of God is a great reason for believing that he will not suffer his children to perish.
IV. THE ETERNAL LIFE OF GOD IS AN ASSURANCE OF THE ETERNAL LIFE OF HIS CHILDREN. The God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob is more than a name, and more than a passive Object of worship, for he is the Author and Sustainer of the lives of the patriarchs. He is a living God; his presence brings life; to be in him is to be in the very centre of the best life. Such a God does not content himself with moving among the tombs of the dead past. His own outflowing vitality touches and quickens all with whom he comes into contact. If he in any way associates himself with the men of a far-distant antiquity, he will be their Preserver. Their contact with the ever-living God gives them the life eternal.—W.F.A.
The two commandments.
Originality of mind may be as much apparent in a wise selection from what is old as in the creation of what is new. Some of the most striking teaching of our Lord is of this character. Jesus Christ did not repudiate the Old Testament, nor did he despise its truths because his own went further, but he pointed out what was most important in the ancient revelation, and rescued this from the oblivion into which it had fallen with many people in their scrupulous attention to the petty details of external observances. Thus he met the tempting question of the Pharisees by weighty words from their own Law, the very solution of which was a revelation and a rebuke of Pharisaic formalism.
I. CHRIST CALLS US BACK TO FUNDAMENTAL PRINCIPLES. The error of the rabbis lay in a tendency to confuse the minds of their scholars and to obscure the essential truths of revelation by directing too much attention to minute questions of casuistry. A similar mistake was made by the Schoolmen in the Middle Ages, although these masters of hair splitting delighted in the discussion of less practical subjects. We are always in danger of missing the essential truths of our faith in the consideration of distracting details. But Christianity is a religion of principles. This is most characteristic of the New Testament.
1. These principles are fundamental.
2. They admit of wide and varied application.
3. They must be obeyed internally—in thought and heart.
II. THE ROOT PRINCIPLE OF CHRISTIAN CONDUCT IS LOVE. This was found in the old Law; it belonged to Judaism, because it is always the source of the best life. But it is most prominent and powerful in Christianity. The gospel reveals the love of God, and it instils a spirit of love in man. So essential is this that no one can be accounted a Christian who is hard-hearted and utterly selfish, however saintly he may be in other respects. Love is shown in two principal relations.
1. It seeks the welfare of those who are loved—the honour of God and the good of fellow men.
2. It delights in fellowship with those who are loved. Christian love draws us nearer to God and nearer to one another.
III. GOD IS THE FIRST OBJECT OF CHRISTIAN LOVE.
1. He deserves love.
(1) Because he is good and glorious in the beauty of holiness. There is no other object of affection so supremely worthy of our heart's devotion.
(2) Because he first loved us. Love is the child of love. Our love to God is a reflection of God's love to us; it is our response to his goodness and kindness.
2. He claims love. God is not indifferent to our attitude towards him. He cannot be if he loves us. In his own wonderful fatherly love he seeks the affection of his children. Therefore a cold morality, or a philanthropy that ignores God, is not sufficient.
IV. MAN IS THE SECOND OBJECT OF CHRISTIAN LOVE. In practice we cannot separate the second commandment from the first. St. John tells us that we cannot love God if we do not love our brother (1 John 4:20). In loving what is good in man we love God. Therefore neither commandment can be taken without the other. If it were possible to seek God alone, that would not please him. He does not desire us to be so absorbed in heavenly contemplation as to forget earthly duties. The Christian ritual is the ministry of brotherly charity (James 1:27).
To all this it may be objected that we cannot love on command. True. But
(1) we can remove the selfish hindrances to the love of God and man.
(2) We can direct our thoughts to those considerations out of which love springs. Thus we can cultivate the affections.—W.F.A.
The Divine Christ.
The often quoted question, "What think ye of Christ?" should be, "What think ye of the Christ?" Jesus was not asking the Pharisees for an opinion about himself, the speaker addressing them, as he had asked his disciples on a previous occasion (Matthew 16:13). He was referring to the Jewish expectation of the Messiah, and without now pressing his own claim to be the Messiah, he was asking what idea the Pharisees had as to this great Hope of Israel. They had been questioning him; he now turns upon them with a penetrating inquiry.
I. THERE IS TESTIMONY TO THE CHRIST IN THE OLD TESTAMENT. Jesus quotes ancient prophecy. It may be said that he would thus find an argumentum ad hominem when arguing with a Jew. But it is evident that our Lord appealed to the Old Testament as to an authority which he himself valued. Thus he gives his own authority to support the Divine message of the prophets, and he justifies us in searching these Scriptures for the testimony they bear concerning him (John 5:39). The value of the Old Testament in this respect is not that it shows how certain men were gifted with a miraculous foresight, by means of which they predicted the advent and life of Christ. This would be interesting chiefly as throwing light on the powers of the prophets, but it would not be of much practical use to us. We may see the Old Testament setting forth important truths about Christ. It foreshadows in a way to prepare the reader for understanding Christ. Thus it has its own gospel message.
II. THE OLD TESTAMENT TESTIFIES TO THE DIVINE GLORY OF THE CHRIST. Jesus selects one striking instance of this specific testimony. Psalms 110:1-7. plainly represents the Messiah as greater than David, for, while written in the name of the king, it yet makes the founder of the Jewish dynasty address his descendant as "my Lord." This argument holds good, whether we believe the psalm to have been composed by the shepherd-king, or follow the recent criticism that rejects its Davidic authorship. For even in the latter case, it is plain that the inspired writer of the psalm taught that the Messiah was to be so much greater than his famous ancestor that it would be seemly for David to address him as "my Lord." This truth, then, was in the Old Testament. Yet those who most honoured their ancient Scriptures did not perceive it. We need the Spirit of Christ to help us to understand the prophecies of Christ.
III. OUR LORD GAVE THE HIGHEST INTERPRETATION TO THE OLD TESTAMENT PROPHECIES OF THE CHRIST. This tact is important in itself, as a light on the prophecies. But it is much more weighty when we consider it in relation to Jesus himself. We know that he claimed to be the Messiah, although he did not make that claim public till the end of his life. Therefore his interpretation of prophecy must be applied to his thought about himself. He was calm, unselfish, unambitious, lowly in heart and life. Yet he argued for the very highest attributes of the Name which he knew to be his own. Was he not speaking out of the depth of his self-consciousness? If he used such words as are here before us, he could not have been satisfied with being regarded as only a man. In veiled language to the Jews, but in language that is open as the day to us, Jesus claims to be Divine, and his character, his life, and his work all agree with his unique claim.—W.F.A.
HOMILIES BY MARCUS DODS
I. One of the commonest excuses which men make to themselves for not accepting God's salvation is THE DESIRE TO MAKE SOME KIND OF PREPARATION FOR COMING TO CHRIST, "How can I come, who have no conviction of sin, no deep repentance, no earnestness?" But uniformly in God's Word salvation is offered to men as they are. "Now" is God's accepted time. And the reason is obvious. The salvation offered in Christ is the one thing that can make us any better. We have no hope of getting better feelings, more spiritual desires, a deep and genuine repentance, until we accept Christ. He is exalted to give repentance, and you cannot have it without him. This hard impenitent heart, this unconcern about God, is precisely what identifies you as the person for whom salvation is urgently needed and to whom it is offered. "I came not to call the righteous," etc. God's command is on you now, and bids you accept Christ. No preparation is required. Sin is the preparation for salvation. Christ does not say, "Come with sufficient earnestness, and I will save you," but "Come, and I will give you all you need."
II. But possibly you say, "I CAN'T REPENT IN MY OWN STRENGTH; I CAN'T BELIEVE IN MY OWN STRENGTH; I AM WAITING FOR THE SPIRIT, WITHOUT WHOSE AID I CANNOT COME TO CHRIST." Certainly this is true; but are you more ready for good than the Spirit is? Is it not rather true that he has been waiting for you, working in you? He who gives the command to come gives also the strength to obey it. The man with the withered hand might with truth have said, "I cannot," when bidden to stretch out his hand; but he believed and obeyed. "The Father's commandment is life everlasting." The Father is willing you should be saved, the Son is willing, the Spirit is willing. May not Christ be justified in saying to you, as he did to others, "Ye will not come unto me, that ye might have life"?
III. Another common excuse is that PROFESSING CHRISTIANS ARE NO BETTER THAN MANY WHO MAKE NO PROFESSION. But the presence of what is counterfeit in religion or in anything else should only make us careful that we receive the real thing and not the spurious. No man refuses his week's wage because his fellow workman has received a bad shilling. It matters not to you what other men have made of religion; each man must give account of himself to God. And those persons of whom you speak so bitterly are not more bound to set you an example than you are to set them. The fact that you make no profession saves you indeed from the faults of professing Christians, but condemns you with a special guilt, "He that believeth not is condemned already," etc. The sins of others cannot save you from this great condemnation.
IV. A man sometimes pleads that RELIGION IS A VERY SERIOUS MATTER, AND THAT HE HAS NOT TIME TO DETERMINE WHAT ATTITUDE HE SHOULD TAKE UP WITH REGARD TO IT. If this is true, it ought not to be so. Time has no right to cheat a man out of eternity. If there be any truth in what Christ says, you are spending your strength for naught and in vain. Whatever you are giving yourself to, God's judgment about man's work remains, "This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent." Until this be done, all your activity is like the hard running of a messenger who has left his message behind him; the harder he runs the further back he has to go before he can be of any use. What is the use of all your toil if you are not at one with God, if you are not obeying his commands?
V. There are those who sincerely grieve that THESE DIFFICULTIES STAND IN THEIR WAY, BUT YET THERE THEY ARE, AND WHAT CAN THEY SAY? But he who determines to have all his difficulties solved before he takes the practical step of choosing Christ as his Saviour, inverts the right order of procedure, inverts God's order; for his law is, "If any man will do the will of God, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God." Do you see your way to attain holiness without the Spirit and the other aids God offers? or, if you do not, how do you propose to justify yourself in living on without asking God for these aids?
It may be that for some such reasons as these you may be declining to make a profession which you ought to make. But is there really any need to bring further light or even persuasion to bear on you? Are you not already convinced that the thing for you now is distinctly to close with Christ as your Lord and Saviour? There is always danger in delay; you cannot tell What influences you may shortly come under which will quite turn your mind away from serious and earnest dealing with Christ. But apart from the danger, your first question ought to be in this as in all other matters, "Is it my duty to delay? What ought I now to do?"—D.
Question of the Sadducees: "Whose shall she be?"
The attempt of the Pharisees to ensnare our Lord in his talk was the result of a meeting called for the purpose of considering how they might silence a critic who was making himself too formidable. They do not see how he can answer their question without laying himself open to the accusation and hostility of one party or other in the state. But our Lord is neither blinded by their, false flattery nor staggered by their ensnaring question. Having no denarius of his own, he asks them to produce one. There in their own hands is the image of Caesar, testifying that they themselves are Caesar's subjects. But he is not contented with making them feel that they have answered their own question. He adds a single clause which takes them far out of the region of their own quibbling question, "and unto God the things that are God's." This implies that there is nothing inconsistent in the claims of these two different sovereigns. The Sadducees, if they bore less malice against our Lord, were even more frivolous. The difficulty they raised had no reality in it, because a woman who was merely handed over, under the Levitical law, to her deceased husband's brother was not in the same sense his wife as she had been the wife of her first husband. It is not a bad instance of the way in which men unconsciously become frivolous and ridiculous by harping on one objection, and that an objection which by no means penetrates to the heart of the subject. The fact that such a question could be put shows that a belief in the resurrection was so common among the Jews that disbelief in it had become the badge or watchword of a party—a state of matters which implies that in the Old Testament the material for settling the question of a future state was not so copious and so decisive as to make disbelief impossible. And the circumstance that our Lord could find in the whole Bible no text more directly bearing on the subject than the one he cites is proof that the idea of immortality was not a common one in Old Testament times. The unquestioned dimness of Old Testament revelation on this point has been explained in many ways. But the proper explanation is certainly to be found in the peculiar character of the Divine revelation which the Bible records. If the revelation were a series of oracles, of abstract utterances, it would be hard to understand why the plain discovery of a future life should have been withheld; but the entire revelation is personal and historical. The foundation of all religion, the existence of God, e.g., is never given in the Old Testament Scriptures as an abstract proposition. It is taken for granted. It is no otherwise with the light which revelation sheds on man's future life. It has come, not in abstract propositions, not in direct oracular utterances from God, but through the longings of his people for continued life in him, and through the slow-growing conviction that God's love is love forevermore. The commonest and probably the most reliable of all natural arguments for immortality is that which is based on the injustice and suffering of various kinds which men experience in this present world. In view of this, men have been compelled to think of a future state in which things shall be righted and justice done and compensation made. But this is precisely the view of matters which elicited the clearest utterances regarding immortality which are to be found in the Old Testament (see Psalms 73:1-28, and Job 19:1-29.). But the argument used by our Lord is of a finer and subtler kind. From the fact of God's calling himself the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, he argues that these men still lived. It would seem a dishonour to God to remember that he had connected himself with Abraham, if he could not keep Abraham alive. The argument involves the idea that to be the God of any one implies a living relationship. One's God is he who gives him life and blessing, and to speak of being the God of a mummy or of a handful of dust is out of the question. We know that God is love. He loves very specially those to whom he specially reveals himself—those whom he calls his children; but as these persons are without ceasing passing out of this life, it follows that, if they pass out of existence altogether, God must be subjected to a continual sorrow. Such perishing friendships are unworthy of God's eternal nature. The answer of our Lord has no very positive teaching regarding our relation to one another hereafter. It certainly implies no cessation of love between those who have here found much of their happiness in one another. No rational idea of the future can be constructed at, all without including the satisfaction of our best affections and the exercise of our highest powers. No satisfactory idea of salvation can be cherished which does not include the prospect of a time when we can frame a life for ourselves according to our late acquired wisdom and our fruitless repentance here. But this emphatic assertion of immortality by our Lord is made in connection with the resurrection of the body. We are conscious that our body is one thing and we ourselves another. Still, the soul has received a great part of its character from the body it has worn, so that, even after separation from the body, the soul will retain the character the body has impressed upon it, and this again must determine the character of the new body which the soul is to receive. It is, however, of very little moment to ascertain what kind of life is in reserve beyond the grave, if we are not ourselves sure we shall attain it. Christ; puts this in our power. His Spirit, received by us now as a Spirit of holiness, will quicken our mortal bodies, and will raise us to be with him in the life to come.—D.
HOMILIES BY J.A. MACDONALD
The invitations of the gospel.
The priests and elders having left in a rage, Jesus continued his discourse, addressing the people. This parable brings before us the invitation of the gospel, first to the Jew, and then also to the Gentile. Consider—
I. THE INVITATION SPECIAL TO THE JEW.
1. The blessings of the gospel are presented under the similitude of a marriage feast.
(1) Under this similitude also the blessings of the everlasting covenant are presented in the prophets (see So Matthew 5:1; Isaiah 62:5). Marriage is the highest emblem of that union which constitutes heaven. There goodness and truth in perfection are united. Heaven must be in a man before a man can be in heaven.
(2) The feast is royal. It is made by the King, viz. of the heavens; for the kingdom of the heavens is the subject of the parable. If a royal banquet in this world is the occasion of a nation's joy, the banquet of the King of heaven is a joy to the great universe.
(3) It is the marriage feast for the King's Son. Christ is the Bridegroom. The Church is the bride. The season of the banquet is the gospel day, commencing upon thin earth but ending in the heavens (see Matthew 9:15; 2 Corinthians 11:2; Ephesians 5:32; Revelation 19:7-9).
2. Prophets and apostles are the King's messengers.
(1) They are called his "bond servants." Bond service to God is the noblest freedom. The more absolute this service, the more glorious the freedom.
(2) They came to those who were bidden. The Jews were the people elected from among the nations to be the people of the covenant, and every way specially the favoured of the Lord. To them also the gospel came in the first instance.
(3) The old prophets made the gospel law to emanate from Jerusalem (see Isaiah 2:3; Jeremiah 31:31-34). The message of John Baptist and of the seventy disciples was to them that "the kingdom of the heavens was at hand." The commission to the apostles after the Day of Pentecost was, "Tell them that are bidden, Behold, I have made ready my dinner; my oxen and my fatlings are killed, and all things are ready."
(4) They came to the bidden with entreaty. They urged the will of God, the need of man, the richness of the bounty, the quality of the guests, the blessedness inconceivable to follow.
3. But the favoured people proved themselves unworthy.
(1) For they "made light" of the invitation. "Considerations which should have the mightiest power upon the spirits of men may still signify less and less, when those to whom they come continue long under the gospel and the gospel is hidden to them. 'If you cannot speak to me of something greater than heaven and hell, eternal blessedness and eternal misery, you move not me; for these things I have heard of and made light of long ago'" (Howe). The soft, idle, voluptuous people, who think only of quietly enjoying life, conveniences, riches, private pleasures, and public diversions, make light of the gospel invitation.
(2) "They went their ways, one to his own farm," equivalent to "immovable goods," viz. deluded by a false security; "another to his merchandise," equivalent to "movable goods," viz. lured by desire of gain. "His farm," equivalent to "what he has;" "his merchandise," equivalent to "what he desires to have." How many perish by misusing lawful things!
(3) "And the rest laid hold on his servants, and entreated them shamefully, and killed them." These are the openly unjust and violent, the outrageously wicked, sinners by profession.
(4) Note: Worthiness consists in accepting the gospel invitation; unworthiness, in refusing it (see Acts 13:46). He only is worthy to be a disciple who is willing to lift the cross (see Matthew 10:37, Matthew 10:38).
4. They are punished accordingly.
(1) The murderers were destroyed. The Romans were God's armies sent in his wrath to destroy them. The Assyrian armies were the rod of his anger against Ephraim (see Isaiah 10:5). The Medes and Persians were the armies of God's wrath against Babylon (see Isaiah 13:4, Isaiah 13:5). The angels of famine, pestilence, and war are his armies which he sent against Israel by the Romans (cf. 1 Kings 22:19).
(2) Their city was burnt. What an anticipation of the destruction of Jerusalem is here (cf. Ezekiel 16:41; Luke 13:33, Luke 13:34)!
II. THE INVITATION GENERAL TO THE WORLD.
1. The messengers are the same.
(1) The prophets anticipated the calling of the Gentiles (cf. Deuteronomy 32:21; Romans 10:19; Isaiah 65:1; Romans 10:20; Hosea 2:23; Romans 9:26).
(2) The apostles, accordingly, when the Jews refused their invitation, carried the gospel to the Gentiles (cf. Romans 11:11, Romans 11:12; Ephesians 3:8). These were the people found by the King's messengers in the "partings of the highways" (verse 9).
(3) Divine benevolence is even enlarged by human perversity. "Where sin abounded grace doth superabound."
2. But they had better success.
(1) All sorts, "bad and good," were invited, and all sorts came in. As an invitation to a king's banquet would astonish a wayfarer, so did the invitation of the gospel come as a surprise to the Gentiles (see Acts 17:19, Acts 17:20; Romans 10:20).
(2) The visible Church is a mixture of hypocrites and unbelievers in amongst the genuine saints. It is the floor where the bad and good wheats are mingled (Matthew 3:12). It is the field where the bastard wheat and true grain grow together (Matthew 13:26, Matthew 13:27). The net which collects bad fish and good (Matthew 13:48). The house in which the wise and, foolish are found (Matthew 25:1). The fold in which are the sheep and the goats (Matthew 25:33).
(3) For this imperfect state of things there is no present help. The minister's commission is to call all. The King alone can infallibly distinguish between the bad and the good.
3. A royal inspection will determine the true.
(1) The King will behold the guests. This survey will take place at the last judgment. God takes particular notice of those who profess his religion (see So Romans 7:12; Revelation 2:1, Revelation 2:2). Those who are worthy he will then approve and welcome.
(2) He will see who has not on the festal garment. The garment which distinguishes the good is worn upon the heart. It is therefore invisible to the minister, but visible to the King. As the festal robe constituted meetness for the feast, so is the garment here spoken of the complete meetness for heaven. The "fine linen is the righteousness of the saints," so imputed and imparted; for unless imparted as well as imputed the wearers could not be "saints" or holy ones.
(3) He will search the reasons: "Friend, how camest thou in hither?" etc. (verse 12). Why art thou willing to receive the King's bounty, but not to comply with the King's conditions? Garments are provided. Not to wear one is a mark of contempt towards the King. The filthy rags of self-righteousness cannot be tolerated in heaven.
(4) The most presumptuous will be speechless in the presence of the King. Into speechlessness must all objections to the gospel be ultimately resolved.
4. Fearful will be the punishment of the wicked.
(1) "Bind him hand and foot." Restraint will be laid upon the works and ways of sinners in perdition. Satan also will be bound with a great chain in the bottomless pit. It is punishment to the wicked to be restrained from doing mischief.
(2) "Cast him out into the outer darkness." From the brilliantly lighted banqueting hall. What a contrast from the brightness of heaven's glory to the darkness of bell's misery! Joy and pride converted into sorrow and shame.
(3) "There shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth." Useless regrets; remorse; despair.
(4) "Many are called, but few chosen." Many hear; few believe. Many are in the visible Churches, few of them at the same time in the invisible Church. You are among the many called: are you also among the few chosen? Exclusion is for neglect.—J.A.M.
The ethics of the tribute.
The Pharisees had hitherto questioned our Lord on points of ecclesiastical ethics, and were invariably worsted. Now they face round and assail him with the weapon of political ethics. "Is it lawful to give tribute to Caesar, or not?" Behold in the scene before us—
I. THE WISDOM OF THE SERPENT IN ITS VENOM.
1. It is seen in the question proposed.
(1) The issue is not whether it was lawful for an individual Jew to pay the Roman tax. That question was already practically settled. It was a maxim common among all people, and acknowledged among the Jews, that the prince who causes his image and titles to be stamped on the current coin is by those who use it acknowledged as the ruler.
(2) The issue was whether by a joint effort of the nation it was not their duty to God to throw off the Roman yoke. It involved many considerations, such as:
(a) The origin of the Roman power.
(b) The manner in which that power had been used.
(c) The degree of injustice which must be sustained before a nation can legally throw off an allegiance to which it has submitted.
(d) The definition of the theocracy in the modified form in which it then existed.
(e) Besides these, many minor considerations.
(3) In proposing a question so complicated and intricate they hoped to entangle him in his talk.
2. In the confederation proposing it.
(1) Behold the Pharisees in league with the Herodians. These persons were political enemies. The Pharisees were seditious demagogues. The Herodians, if not Sadducees, as Herod was, were partisans of Herod, who owed his elevation to the Romans. But they find a common cause against Jesus; nor was this the first time. "Samson's foxes looked several ways, but met in one firebrand" (Henry).
(2) See them in consultation. So were the Scriptures verified (cf. Psalms 2:2; Psalms 83:3-8; Jeremiah 18:18; Jeremiah 20:10). Contrivance and deliberation intensify the malignity of sin (see Micah 2:1). Wicked wit makes wicked will.
(3) Observe how the Pharisees put forth "their disciples." Note: The wicked have disciples. Disciples would look more like learners, less like tempters.
(4) The masters would be present to watch the issue and to seize the opportunity to enclose the Victim in the serpent's folds.
3. In the flattery in which it is conveyed.
(1) In the praise they give to Christ they speak the truth. He was indeed a Teacher true, and a true Teacher of the way of God. He was himself the Truth and the Way. He also was above all influence of injustice. He had no improper fear of Herod or of Pilate. He evermore reproved with equity (see Isaiah 11:4).
(2) But they use the truth to serve a bloody purpose. The matter may be true and the intention treacherous. They sought to "ensnare him," viz. to his destruction, as a bird in a net. There are those who never do good but with the purpose of promoting evil.
(3) Suspect the man that praises you to your face. "He who caresses thee more than he is wont has either deceived thee or is about to deceive thee" (Italian proverb). Praise upon the lip, malice in the heart. Joab kissed when he killed Amasa (2 Samuel 20:9). Judas betrayed when he kissed Jesus (Matthew 26:49).
4. In the presence in which it is urged.
(1) It had to be answered in presence of the people. They vainly boasted that they were Abraham's seed, and never were in bondage (see John 8:33). They as vainly professed to have no king but God. If Jesus replied that it was lawful to pay tribute to Caesar, the people might be easily roused against him.
(2) It had to be answered in presence of the Pharisees. They only wanted the pretext to stir up the people against him as the Enemy to the liberties of his country.
(3) It had to be answered in presence of the Herodians. If Jesus took the side of the people, and said it was not lawful to pay tribute to Caesar, then the Herodians were ready to inflame Herod against him in the interests of the Romans. This very indictment was, two or three days later, laid against him (see Luke 23:2). Behold—
II. THE WISDOM OF THE SERPENT IN THE DOVE.
1. It is seen in his exposure of his assailants' hypocrisy.
(1) They could not hide their duplicity from his all-searching vision. By the exposure of their wickedness he proved them right when they called him true.
(2) This exposure was as politic as it was severe, for it discredited them before the people.
(3) Nothing could have mortified them more; for they sought the praise of men rather than the praise of God. He never gains who contends with Jesus.
2. It is seen in his avoidance of their trap.
(1) He took the wise in their craftiness (see Luke 20:23) when he made them recognize the image and superscription on the coin. With what consistency did the chief priests afterwards cry out, "We have no king but Caesar" (John 19:15)!
(2) "Render therefore unto Caesar the things that are Caesar's, and unto God the things that are God's. God is the Author of spiritual order, and, through this, of civil order also. Human sagacity sees one side of duty; Divine wisdom sees all sides at once.
(3) Here was nothing that the enemy could take hold of. The answer glorified God, and Caesar could not object to it. The Herodians and Pharisees were rebuked, but so obliquely that neither could take advantage of him. And the people were edified.
3. It is seen in the assignment to Caesar of his own.
(1) It is generally that which has upon it Caesar's image and superscription. By Christ kings reign. His religion is no enemy to civil government (see Romans 13:1). Caesar is to claim nothing but what is "Caesar's." He is neither to claim, nor are we to render to him, what is "God's."
(2) Caesar may claim honour, viz. in return for the government protection afforded to life, property, and liberty.
(3) Caesar may claim obedience, viz. to the laws instituted for the restraint of evildoers, and the maintenance of order and freedom.
(4) Caesar may also claim tribute, viz. to meet the expenses of the government in the exercise of its proper functions.
4. It is seen in the assertion of the claims of God.
(1) Generally God also claims whatever has his image and superscription. The image of God stamped on the spirit of man denotes that all his faculties and powers belong to God, and should be used for his glory.
(2) Eminently to God belongs our religion—our love, worship, and obedience. Caesar has no right to meddle with this. Caesar is only to be resisted when not to do so would be to resist God.
(3) If Caesar intrude into this domain, then the Christian must suffer rather than sin.
(4) In questions of conflict between the claims of God and Caesar, the Christian man has to be guided by a conscience enlightened by great principles. Hence Christ left the question open which was put to him, but enunciated the great principles by which every man may determine for himself.
III. THE VENOM OF THE SERPENT IN HIS FOLLY.
1. And when they heard it they marvelled.
(1) They marvelled at his knowledge of their hearts.
(2) They marvelled at the adroitness with which he avoided their arts.
(3) They marvelled at the wisdom of his doctrine.
(4) They marvelled at the incisiveness of his rebukes.
2. But they left him, and went their way.
(1) Their admiration should have drawn them to him with repentance.
(2) They showed no signs of repentance. Christ is marvellous to many to whom he is not precious. The lessons of wisdom are lost upon them.
(3) "They went their way," not his. His way was heavenward. Their way was to perdition.—J.A.M.
The resurrection of the dead.
When Jesus had disposed of the Pharisees and Herodians, the Sadducees approached him. They were the physicists—the materialists—of their time, who did not believe in angels or spirits, and accounted as a thing incredible the resurrection of the dead. They urged a ease which they deemed conclusive against the latter, which is recorded here (Matthew 22:23-28). We are chiefly concerned with our Lord's reply (Matthew 22:29-32). Hence we learn—
I. THAT THE HUMAN SPIRIT HAS ITS TRUE LIFE IN UNION WITH GOD.
1. Covenant relationship is expressed in the term "God of."
(1) Thus when Jehovah proclaims himself to be "the God of Abraham," the meaning is that he stands in covenant relationship to that patriarch (see Genesis 17:7, Genesis 17:8). So of Isaac and of Jacob; but he never speaks of himself as the God of Lot, of Ishmael, or of Esau.
(2) By the Sinai covenant with the Hebrew nation he became the "God of Israel" (see Deuteronomy 29:10-13).
(3) Now, in the gospel covenant, he is "the God" of every true believer (cf. Jeremiah 31:31-34; Hebrews 8:10).
2. The covenant relationship implies purification from sin.
(1) The Hebrew word for "covenant" expresses the idea of purification. The plan of God's goodness and mercy is sometimes called his purification; the term is also applied to the sacrifices offered to God, and Christ himself is called the Covenant, or Purification Sacrifice, of his people.
(2) The phrase, "make a covenant," is literally, "cut off a purifier," or purification sacrifice, in allusion to the death of the sacrifices. So Messiah was to be "cut off out of the land of the living" (Isaiah 53:8)
(3) The sacrificial blood sprinkled is called the sprinkling of the blood of the covenant the effect of which was ceremonial purification (see Hebrews 9:19, Hebrews 9:20). This of course typified the purifying efficacy of the blood of Christ (see Hebrews 9:13-15).
(4) The Shechinah passing with Abraham along the avenue between the divided pieces of the sacrifices, when God entered into covenant with that patriarch, set forth the consent of the sinner to be treated as the sacrifices were treated should he violate the Law of God, and the engagement of God to light up with his favour and friendship the way of obedience through the blood of Christ (cf. Genesis 15:10,Genesis 15:17; Exodus 19:18; Jeremiah 34:18-20).
3. The life of the covenant is more than existence.
(1) The God of the pure is "the God of the living" (Matthew 22:32). Luke adds, "For all live unto him" (Luke 20:38), viz. all standing in true covenant relationship to him. The unbelieving Jews existed, but they did not "live" in Christ's sense, when he said, "Ye will not come unto me, that ye might have life" (see John 5:39, John 5:40).
(2) All destitute of this covenant life of purity are dead—"dead in trespasses and sins," obnoxious to be treated as the sacrifices had been (cf. Ephesians 2:12; Jeremiah 34:18, Jeremiah 34:19). Those who despise the everlasting covenant are liable to the "much sorer punishment" of being cut up by the flames of hell.
II. THAT THE LIFE OF THE SPIRIT SURVIVES THE DEATH OF THE BODY.
1. God's covenant remains with his disembodied saints.
(1) Abraham was dead when God said to Isaac, "I am the God of Abraham thy father" (see Genesis 26:24). Isaac also was dead when God said to Jacob, "I am the Lord God of Abraham thy father, and the God of Isaac" (Genesis 28:13). Jacob also was sleeping when God appeared to Moses, and said, "I am the God of thy father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob" (Exodus 3:6). This is the fact recognized in the argument of our Lord.
(2) But if God was, hundreds of years after the natural death of the patriarchs, still in covenant relation with them, they must retain a conscious existence in the disembodied state. "God is not the God of the dead, but of the living; for all live unto him" (see Luke 20:38). This living unto God is a condition of the happiest consciousness (cf. John 3:36; John 6:48-53; John 11:26).
2. The existence of the sinner is an abiding death.
(1) "God is not the God of the dead," viz. "in trespasses and sins," whether in this world or in the disembodied state. The antithesis of a life which is distinct from existence is obviously a death not involving the extinction of existence. If spiritual life survives the dissolution of the body, so may the spiritual death survive the dissolution of the body.
(2) "God is not the God of the dead." This gives no more encouragement to the universalist than it does to the annihilationist. God is nowhere in his covenant pledged to the disembodied sinner. What a terrible thing to the spiritually dead is his indestructibility!
III. THAT GOD IS PLEDGED TO RAISE FROM THE DEAD THE BODIES OF HIS SAINTS.
1. He is pledged to raise the Hebrew patriarchs.
(1) The argument of the text is intended to prove more than the conscious and happy existence of the spirit of the believer after death. This undoubtedly it does conclude, as we have seen; but it means more.
(2) It is an argument also to prove the resurrection of the body (see verse 31). And the reasoning to that conclusion was to the Sadducees unanswerable (see Luke 20:40).
(3) Its force lies in the matter of the covenant. It promised the patriarchs personal inheritance in Canaan (see Genesis 17:7, Genesis 17:8), which, in this mortal life, they never enjoyed (see Acts 7:5). But God still abides by his covenant, as is evident from his words to Moses at the bush. How, then, can the promise be fulfilled, unless they be raised from the dead for the purpose?
(4) In this sense the patriarchs themselves interpreted the promise. They know they should die without inheriting (see Genesis 15:13-16). How could they understand the land to be personally inherited by them as "an everlasting possession," unless in the great future? That future inheritance their faith firmly seized (see Hebrews 11:9-19).
2. The promise extends to all believers.
(1) The natural seed of Abraham as such are not the children of the promise. Else it behoved the Arabs, Midianites, and Idumaeans to have inherited. Only a portion of the seed of Jacob inherited the land in any sense. No one ever yet inherited the land according to the terms of the promise as "an everlasting possession."
(2) The true Seed of Abraham is Christ (see Galatians 3:16). He is the Depository of the promises. Yet even he never inherited the land of promise in person. But the "Scriptures cannot be broken." The resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead was a necessity; for he must inherit it forever.
(3) Believers in Christ, whether lineally descended from Abraham or not, are the seed of Abraham, and children of the promise. In a secondary sense the term, "seed of Abraham," is to be taken collectively (cf. Galatians 3:26-29). Believers therefore must be raised from the dead that they may inherit.
(4) Then the expression, "all the land of Canaan," purports the whole earth to its utmost limit (cf. Psalms 2:8; Psalms 72:8; Romans 4:13-18; Hebrews 11:13). The covenant also extends into the heavens.—J.A.M.
The greater commandments.
The Jews made many distinctions about the commandments of God, calling some "light," others "weighty," others "little," others "great." According to their estimating, therefore, some commandment must be "greatest." Some of them contended that the law of the sabbath was the greater commandment, some the law of sacrifice, some that of circumcision, and some pleaded for the wearing of phylacteries. They now referred the resolution of this vexed question to Jesus, who astonished them by giving precedence to love. The Talmud reckons the commandments at six hundred and thirteen; of which three hundred and sixty-five are negative, and two hundred and forty-eight affirmative; but our Lord's enumeration is two, for that all the Law is fulfilled in love to God and man. This is so in the nature of the case.
I. LOVE PRESUPPOSES ESTIMATION.
1. God reveals himself that he may be supremely loved.
(1) Opinion must precede affection. Love resists all attempts at coercion. It cannot be forced. It must be won. God binds us to love him by his supreme and infinite excellence. He is "the Perfection of beauty," of intelligence and truth, of goodness and love.
(2) He reveals himself in his manifold and glorious works.
(3) He reveals himself in his sacred Word. In the wonders of his Law. In the riches of his Gospel.
(4) He reveals himself in his wise and gracious providence.
2. Man is to be loved as reflecting the image of God.
(1) The God-like win the love of the godly. They are admirable and amiable as they reflect the truth and goodness of their Maker.
(2) The devil like cannot be loved with complacency by the godly. Yet with pity and compassion they may be loved. They are thus loved by God, who still sees his image, though dreadfully defaced; he sees wonderful capabilities, though frightfully demoralized.
II. LOVE IDENTIFIES ITSELF WITH ITS OBJECT.
1. So in loving God the lover is ennobled.
(1) The intense love of a holy being necessarily implies the intense love of holiness. Love to God is the vital and purifying flame of holiness. So it fulfils the law of God, by a sweet constraint compelling obedience to all his commandments.
(2) The freedom of this obedience, being that of entire choice and supreme delight, gives the noblest character to submission.
(a) As it impels to the most arduous duties for the glory of God.
(b) As it makes us willing to submit to the severest sufferings for the glory of God.
(3) Love to God feeds its own strength and the strength of every virtue by bringing us into communion with God himself. It produces the full and entire satisfaction of the soul. But without it the most punctilious obedience is but a formal idolatry.
2. The second commandment is "like unto" the first.
(1) It is not equal to it; for it is "the second." The claims of God are evermore superior to the claims of men. Yet how prone are men to feel indignation at a breach of the Law in its second table rather than in the first!
(2) It is, however, "like unto it:"
(a) In having superiority over all except the first.
(b) As being also a precept of love, an efflux of the same principle, directed to our neighbour.
(3) It makes self-love the measure of neighbourly affection. It therefore supposes that we should love ourselves. It is not wrong to pay respect to our interests, temporal as well as spiritual. And in loving our neighbours as ourselves we shall do them no harm, but seek to do them all the good we can.
III. LOVE WOULD HAVE ITS OBJECT WORTHY OF ITSELF.
1. This it has in God.
(1) We can only bless God by acknowledging him. For he is Love itself, infinitely worthy.
(2) We acknowledge him in worship. By praise. By meditation. By prayer.
(3) We acknowledge him in service. Obeying his will. Witnessing for his glory.
2. This it seeks in our neighbour.
(1) Love makes us to rejoice in his happiness.
(a) If he is virtuous, love will not detract, but emulate.
(b) If he is honoured, love will not be envious, but pleased.
(c) If he becomes wealthy, love will not covet, but pray that he may not suffer damage by that which has proved ruin to many.
(2) Love makes us to mourn in his adversity.
(a) If he is sick and suffering, love will not be unconcerned, but will visit and comfort him.
(b) If he is disappointed, love will not exult, but encourage him.
(c) If he is disgraced, love will not chuckle and give currency to the scandal, but will help to deliver him from the snare of the devil.
(3) It will bless him by prayer to God for him, by holy exhortation, and by kindly Christian influence.
3. It will make sacrifices in this service.
(1) It will sacrifice ease in the interests of religion and philanthropy.
(2) It will sacrifice temporal profit to glorify God and to benefit a fellow man possessing a nature that is to live forever.
(3) It will sacrifice reputation for God, with whom our reputation is safe, by condescending to the low for his benefit.
(4) It will sacrifice life for God as the martyrs did, and in the cause of humanity, which is the cause of God.—J.A.M.
In teaching his interrogators to love God, Jesus proceeds to direct them to the God they ought to love. This question, "What think ye of Christ?" was put to a representative assembly—Herodians, Sadducees, scribes or Karaites, and especially Pharisees, beside his disciples and the people. By proposing this one question of moment, Jesus proves the folly of those who by malevolent questions would prove his wisdom. It showed them that ignorance of the prophecies was the source of their captiousness. The question is for us.
I. WHAT THINK YE OF THE SONSHIP OF CHRIST?
1. He is the "Son of David."
(1) The covenant, of God was established with David. This purported that Messiah should appear in his line. The promise of the saving Seed was limited to Seth in the family of Adam; then to Shem in the family of Noah; then to Abraham in the line of Shem. The covenant was carried on from Abraham through Isaac to Jacob, and from Jacob through Judah to David (cf. 2 Samuel 7:12-17; Psalms 89:27-37).
(2) Thenceforward "the Son of David" became a prophetic title of Messiah (see Isaiah 9:7; Isaiah 11:1; Jeremiah 23:5, Jeremiah 23:6; Jeremiah 33:15, Jeremiah 33:16). The "Son" of whom David sings in his psalms referred to Solomon only as the type of Messiah (see Psalms 72:1).
(3) "Is not this the carpenter's son?" But the "carpenter" was "of the house and lineage of David." So was Mary the poor virgin. What vicissitudes in families! How God makes grandeur to spring out of humiliation!
(4) Why are not the Jews convinced that Messiah must have appeared before the destruction of Jerusalem? For the national genealogies then perished, and nobody can now prove himself to be the son of David. But the genealogy of Jesus was proved at the enrolment for the taxation in the days of Caesar Augustus, when the records were intact, and is recited in the Gospels.
2. He is the Son of God.
(1) "Jehovah said unto Adonai." This term is properly applied to superiors, sometimes it is by courtesy given to equals, but never to inferiors. David, as an independent monarch, acknowledges no superior but God.
(2) "David in the Spirit called him Lord." Note: Jesus here credits the Old Testament writers with Divine inspiration (cf. 2 Samuel 23:2; Acts 1:16; Acts 2:30). David in the Holy Spirit of prophecy called him Lord.
(3) He was David's Lord before he became his Son. What can more emphatically mark the Divinity of Christ? How else could he be David's Lord, who was not to be born for ages after him, and was certainly to exercise no secular dominion over him?
3. He is at once the Son of David and the Son of God.
(1) As the Son of David, his humanity was real. As the Lord of David, his Divinity is evident. Acknowledge here the glorious mystery of the Incarnation.
(2) This mystery Jesus more fully unfolded after his resurrection (see Revelation 22:16).
(3) So is he qualified to be the one Mediator between God and man.
(4) In his Divine humanity Jesus pledges our regeneration and transfiguration.
II. WHAT THINK YE OF HIS CHRISTSHIP? As the Sonship is a rule of nature, the Christship is a title of office.
1. As the Christ he is our Prophet.
(1) Moses calls universal attention to him in this capacity (see Deuteronomy 18:15, Deuteronomy 18:19). And in this capacity he is authenticated (see Matthew 17:5).
(2) In his character of Prophet or Teacher he silenced the gainsaying of Herodians, Pharisees, Karaites, and Sadducees.
(3) As the great Prophet he gives us his perfect law of liberty with the institution of the ministry to proclaim it. He also gives us with his Word his own Holy Spirit of illumination. "A wonderful fashion of teaching he hath."
2. As the Christ he is our Priest.
(1) A Priest not after the order of Aaron. For "our Lord sprang out of Judah" (see Hebrews 7:13, Hebrews 7:14). Yet Aaron was his type.
(2) His priesthood is "after the order of Melchizedek." So we learn from the psalm here quoted (Psalms 110:1-7.). His priesthood is royal. It is made with an oath. It is a priesthood in the heavens. The ascension of Christ is referred to in every instance in which the hundred and tenth psalm is quoted in the New Testament. It is an unchangeable and an everlasting priesthood.
(3) Our great Priest offers himself in sacrifice for us. When Cyrus took the King of Armenia and his son Tigranes prisoners, with their wives and children, and upon their humble submission gave them their liberties and their lives, Tigrancs, as they were returning home, asked his wife, "What thinkest thou of Cyrus? Is he not a comely and a proper man, of a majestic presence?" "Truly," said she, "I know not what manner of man he is; I never looked upon him." "Why," said he, "where were thine eyes all the while?" "I fixed mine eyes all the while," said she, "upon him [meaning her husband] who, in my hearing, offered to Cyrus to lay down his life for my ransom."
3. As the Christ he is our King.
(1) He is the King of glory. Sitting on the right hand implies participation in the regal power. But the Lord of David is on the right hand of Jehovah.
(2) His rule is spiritual. The dominion to which David himself is subject implies a heavenly King and a heavenly kingdom.
(3) Christ subdues his enemies by the power of love. Those who comply with his terms of salvation he makes victorious over sin, death, and hell.
(4) Those who refuse the rule of love will be compelled to feel the rod of iron (see Psalms 110:5, Psalms 110:6).
We may estimate our character by our views of Christ. Some do not think of him at all. Some think too meanly of him, Some think too hardly of him. His true bride will esteem him "the fairest among ten thousand, and the altogether lovely."—J.A.M.
HOMILIES BY R. TUCK
Man's ill-grounded wilfulness.
"And they would not come." There is nothing more to be said about it. They had no reasons. They offered no apologies, and no excuses. They were just wilful, stubborn, stupid; they had taken up with some unreasoning and unreasonable prejudice, and they "would not come." Dods points out that the "object of this parable is still the same (as of the previous parables), to set in a vivid light the guilt of the Jewish leaders in rejecting Christ, and the punishment which in consequence was to fall upon them." Our Lord had used a similar figure of a feast before, but then he represented those who declined the invitation as having more or less reasonable excuses. One was engaged over a farm, one over his oxen, and one over his marriage; and they were not disposed to put these aside in order to fulfil their engagements with their host. But here there are no excuses, only sheer wilfulness, which is ready to run even into rebellion and insult (see Matthew 22:6).
I. THE OPPOSITION OF THE MERELY WILFUL. Every parent knows the extreme difficulty of training a stubborn child. You cannot reason with him; you cannot persuade him. It does no good to chastise him. Many a parent is at his wits' end to know what to do with a wilful child. And what could any one hope to do with those stubborn Jerusalem officials, who had made up their minds that Jesus was an impostor, and so would heed no evidences, listen to no arguments, and yield to no persuasions? They too were invited to the gospel feast. They loudly professed their readiness to respond whenever God called. The call came; Christ brought it, and then up went their backs; "they would not come." If you trouble them with any importunity, they will turn dangerous, and insult the messengers; as these officials afterwards did Stephen, Peter, James, and Paul, All Christian workers understand the hopelessness of dealing with the stubborn and wilful. No force seems to reach them. Labour is in vain. Opposition may be overcome. Unintelligent wilfulness is hopeless.
II. THE TREATMENT OF THE MERELY WILFUL. They have to be let alone, and left to suffer, and to learn by suffering. It is a hard school, and it must be a hard school, in which such persons have to learn. Our Lord even intimates that there must be a specially awakening severity of dealing with them, because that stubbornness is not mere natural disposition; it is a product of self-conceit, pride, and prejudice. It is sin, and must be punished.—R.T.
The enticement of material interests.
"One to his farm, another to his merchandise." These men, as we have seen, were discourteous from mere wilfulness, mere bad nature; but they turned away from the king's servants to their own private affairs, in order to make a show of reasonable excuse. So while it is true that men often are absorbed in their material concerns, and these may explain their neglect of religion, it is even more frequently true that men make their material interests excuse their bad-heartedness, and are busy with temporal concerns in the hope of hiding their stubborn self-willedness. A man's material interests never need really stand in the way of his religion; but if he is resolutely set against religion, he can easily make his material interests into a stumbling block in his way. A great deal of insincere talk is made about the enticement of things seen and temporal; business and pleasure are supposed to carry away men who would be pious. The honest fact is that men usually do not want to be pious, and throw themselves into their worldly concerns as a blind.
I. MATERIAL INTERESTS REGARDED AS GENUINE TEMPTATIONS. There is, for all men, even for good-willed men, a fascination in things seen and temporal. The sense sphere is attractive. In every man there is the natural ambition to succeed, to rise in, the social scale, and to win the comfort and security of wealth. Fur men with the business faculty, trade and commerce are positively attractive. In these days the range of living is so luxurious, and trade so competitive, that a man is almost compelled to put his whole mind into his business, if he is to succeed. And every man has material claims from those dependent on him. But, held in fair limitations, our material interests are not temptations. The soul's life in God finds expression through them.
II. MATERIAL INTERESTS MADE AN EXCUSE FOR BAD-HEARTEDNESS. This may be opened, illustrated, and enforced, so as to be very searching. Men do not want to be religious; they are stubbornly resolved not to go to the gospel feast. That is the real reason for their extreme interest in their farm and their merchandise.—R.T.
The free invitation of the gospel.
There is an immediate reference to those whom our Lord addressed in this parable. He was speaking to men who prided themselves on being in the special favour of God—God's invited guests. Our Lord was bringing home to their hearts the consequences of the Jewish neglect of God's last invitation.
1. The Jews, as a nation, must be destroyed.
2. The Gentiles, as individuals, must be drawn into the Divine favour. Those Jews had conceived that the Divine favour was held in strict limitations. It belonged exclusively to those who were of Abraham's seed. And this idea had led them to presume; and in their pride they even rejected God's Son. They felt as if they might do as they pleased even with the invitation to the feast. Compare the way in which St. Paul found it necessary to turn away from the Jews, and give free offer of eternal life to the Gentiles.
I. THE GOSPEL IS OFFERED TO THOSE WHO HAVE NO NATURAL CLAIM TO IT. These folk in the highways had no claims of birth, or education, or fitness. They were just men who wanted food; and to them the offer of food was made. The gospel goes beyond all the special claims and rights that men think they have, and just deals with men as men—with men as sinful men; with men as having lost by their sin even their natural rights to the favour of God. It is not until we can give up all confidence in our own merit that we are prepared to hear the gospel message, "Whosoever will, let him come."
II. THE GOSPEL IS OFFERED TO THOSE WHO HAVE NO DISPOSITION TOWARD IT. These folk in the highway, perhaps, had not even heard of the king's marriage feast. If they had, it never entered their heads that they would like to be guests at it. It was no place for such as they were. Some of them were beggars at the wayside. All of them were in their workday clothes. A comfortable meal at home they would enjoy muck more than a grand feast at the palace. It was even needful to use forceful persuasions, and compel them to come in. Still, we are confronted by this difficulty—so many have to be made to want and welcome the gospel; to be taught their need, and to be persuaded that the fulness of Divine provision is really opened to them. The gospel is offered freely to whosoever will, but the work is committed to Christ's servants of making men will to receive the gospel. "We persuade men."—R.T.
Wilfulness spoiling our blessings.
"Not having a wedding garment." The incident is a distinctly Eastern one. So motley a crowd would be very out of place in a king's palace. It was not only kindly consideration which provided an all-covering, handsome robe for guests whose own clothes were shabby; it was a sense of appropriateness which required all the guests to be suitably arrayed. In treating this parable it should be kept in mind that he who gave the feast was a king, and so sent his invitations, and made his arrangements and conditions, with an authority which all were bound to respect. As illustration of this custom, it may be mentioned that, "every guest invited to the wedding at the royal marriage of Sultan Mahmoud, had made expressly for him, at the expense of the sultan, a wedding garment. No one, however dignified his station, was permitted to enter into the presence-chamber of that sovereign without a change of raiment. This was formerly the universal custom in the East."
I. THE REASON FOR BRINGING IN THIS PARTICULAR MAN. It is an unexpected addition to the parable, and at first one does not see how its point of teaching bears on, or runs in harmony with, the things our Lord is enforcing. It seems as if it suddenly struck our Lord that what he had been saying was open to misconstruction. "The perception of the absolute, unconditioned freedom of entrance, the sense borne in on their mind that they were the objects of God's love and invitation, might possibly lead them to overlook the great moral change requisite in all who enter God's presence and propose to hold intercourse with him." It is true that salvation is freely offered, but a man must be in a certain frame of mind to receive it. One so unresponsive to the kindness and authority of the king as this man, who would not have the wedding garment, was clearly unfitted for and unable to receive the king's grace.
II. THE REASON FOR THE BEHAVIOUR OF THIS PARTICULAR MAN. Nothing explains his act but the uppishness of self-will. He was not going to be ordered about—to be made to do what somebody else wished. If the king wanted him at the feast, he must take him just as he was. See in this no sense of gratitude for the king's kindness; no sense of submissive obedience to the king's will; no lowly estimates of his own unfitness. So the man who was just upon getting a big blessing lost it altogether through his own stubborn wilfulness.—R.T.
As foolish a thing as was ever attempted was trying to entangle Jesus in talk. A difficult business enough if Jesus had been only a wise prophet teacher. A hopeless business, seeing that Jesus was the Son of God, and read thoughts and hearts, and "knew what was in man." We are to understand that different parties agreed to set several traps for Jesus, hoping to catch him in one or other of them. Popular feeling was too strongly in his favour for his enemies to venture upon anything like an open arrest. "All the previous attempts had been to discredit Jesus as a religious Teacher; the present is an attempt to expose him to the hostility of the Roman government." It would suit the purpose of the Sanhedrin if they could make him say something disloyal, so that the Romans would deal with him.
I. ENTANGLEMENTS REVEALING THOSE WHO ATTEMPTED THEM. This opens an interesting character study. It brings before us the shifts to which men resort who will not yield themselves to arguments and persuasions they are determined not to admit. These men were resolved not to accept Christ as Messiah. They were resolved to discredit his claims somehow, and destroy him, if only they could get a chance. They were untrue to their better selves, and so they had to be ruled by their baser selves; and thus they were put upon all sorts of mean and miserable shifts and schemes. Yet they did not see how they were degrading themselves. Honourable men were self-deluded into acting dishonourably. These men are shown up. They were not really jealous for the honour of God: it was fear for their own place and influence that made them so mean and base. The upright man wants no shifts, and takes no advantage of his brother.
II. ENTANGLEMENTS REVEALING HIM WHO WAS TO BE ENTANGLED. Our Lord felt no sort of alarm when, with imposing authority, the deputation from the Sanhedrin made its demands. Our Lord showed no fear or anxiety when the schemers presented their subtle and malicious question. And he made no mistake; he gave the entanglers no sort of opportunity. He was proof against their wiles. His simplicity tested their guilefulness. His wisdom saw through their schemes.—R.T.
Christ keeping to his province.
The coin produced was probably a silver denarius of the reign of Tiberius Caesar, and it bore on its face the head of the emperor, and had an inscription running round it, containing his name and titles. To understand how this question was intended to entangle Christ, we must remember that the Mosaic injunction, "Thou mayest not set a stranger over thee" (Deuteronomy 17:15), was made by the rabbis to mean that they must not pay tribute to any foreign power. The Romans levied a poll tax on each individual, and this tax was particularly offensive to the patriotic party. If they could make Jesus take part with the zealots, they could accuse him to the Romans as a dangerous person and fomenter of rebellion. The answer of Jesus is very variously explained, and has even been taken as a watchword of particular religious schools. But the answer is really a refusal to answer; and in this its skilfulness is seen.
I. CHRIST'S REPROACH. "Why tempt ye me, ye hypocrites?" This must have annoyed them, and made them fear that they would do but little with him. This impressed the people, who were listening, and made them fee[sure that he was more than a match for the entanglers.
II. CHRIST'S REQUEST. "Show me a penny." As it had to be a coin that tribute to Caesar could be paid in, and not a shekel with which payments in support of God's temple were made, it had to have the head of the reigning Caesar on it. Christ evidently examined it in view of the people, who were anxiously watching; and he made his questioners say distinctly whose image was on the coin. It was not God's temple; it was Caesar.
III. CHRIST'S REPLY. "Caesar's is it? then it is nothing to me. I am the servant of God. I have nothing to say on such a matter. It is not in my province. If Caesar's head is on the coin, no doubt it belongs to him; then give it him if it is his." Jesus had no authority to urge the claims of Caesar; he came to urge the claims of God. And he meant to keep to his province. If they wanted to know anything about the Word and will of God, he was ready to explain and teach. But Caesar had better mind his own business, and he would mind his. In our time, earnest effort is being made to obliterate the distinction between the "secular" and the "sacred." The distinction is real and abiding. Our Lord set his seal upon it. They may run in harmony, but they run, and they always must run, along distinct lines.—R.T.
Denial of resurrection as a sign of mental mood.
"The Sadducees, which say that there is no resurrection." It does not appear how their question helped the entanglement scheme. Possibly the design was to secure a statement that could be declared to oppose Moses' Law. This would discredit him with the people; and it might be made the ground of a formal condemnation by the Sanhedrin, which the temple officials would have to execute, and so Christ would be got rid of. The point before us now is, that these Sadducees are described to us in one sentence. One thing suffices to reveal them to us. One opinion told the class of opinions they held. You may know the men by this, "they say that there is no resurrection." And when you know that is their opinion, you see at once the hypocrisy of the question they came asking Christ.
I. THESE SADDUCEES WERE CRITICAL. They wanted a reason foreverything. They received nothing they could not understand. They failed in receptivity. About everything they asked questions. Whatever was presented to view, they persisted in getting to look at it on the other side. Explain that the critical temperament and faculty are Divine gifts and endowments, but they are perilous because they so easily become masterful and absorbing, destructive of some of the finer and gentler qualities and faculties. Criticism, like fire, is a good servant, but a bad master.
II. THESE SADDUCEES WERE UNSPIRITUAL. We should call them "materialists." They were not sensitive to anything that did not appeal to the five senses. They were deficient in imagination. They were, in their way, scientific. Angels they could not do with, for they had no substance. Resurrection they could not do with, for it was a dream, and had, and could have, no verification. There have always been such men. We may be sorry for them; for the unseen is the real, the Divine is the abiding, the spiritual is the true; and he only lives indeed who can respond to the environment of the spiritual, the Divine, the eternal.
III. THESE SADDUCEES WERE CONCEITED. Not in the common and familiar ways of conceit. They were intellectually conceited, and that is the most hopeless kind of conceit, and, indeed, the most offensive kind. The "superior" man, who is always wiser than everybody, and smiles supercilious smiles, is the most aggravating of mortals.—R.T.
The pure humanness of marital relations.
The Sadducees rested their "denial of the resurrection on the ground that they found no mention of it in the Law, which they recognized as the only rule of faith." The mistake they made, which our Lord at once brought to view, was this—"They could not conceive of any human fellowship in the life of the resurrection, except such as reproduced the relations and conditions of this earthly life." Man's material for thought is mainly provided by the common, earthly, sensual relations and associations; but man does not become true man save as he rises above these, and, by the help of them, conceives the "unseen." It is the glory of man that he is able to create in imagination what he has never seen realized in fact. He can think of relations between beings in which no sex-elements are introduced. He can imagine a place where they neither "marry nor are given in marriage," and where the "propagation of the species" is not the dominant idea, as it is here. In the conception of such a place and condition, an all-sufficing answer was given to the subtle entanglement of these Sadducees.
I. THE RACE DEPENDS ON MARITAL RELATIONS. The law of sex is the universal earthly law, ruling the creatures as well as man. Seeding is the work of every plant; starting a new generation is the work of every living creature, and of every human being. And God has made this universally to depend on the relations of male and female. The fact that man has made misery and sin out of God's design must not blind us to the wisdom and goodness of that design.
II. CHARACTER DEPENDS ON THE MARITAL RELATIONS. Neither can man be true man, nor woman true woman, apart from marriage. This may be more impressively seen in woman, but it is equally true of man. Woman never reaches her noblest possibility save through motherhood.
1. Show what elements of character are developed, and what are refined, by the associations of marriage.
2. Show what moral good for the race comes through the influence on children exerted by those whoso characters are improved through the marital relation.
III. REDEMPTION DEPENDS ON THE MARITAL RELATIONS. Dr. Bushnell, in his very striking way, says the redemption of the world must mainly come about through the "out-populating of the Christian stock." There is a sense in which Christians will come to "possess the earth."
IV. RESURRECTION LIFE DOES NOT DEFEND ON MARITAL RELATIONS. There is
(1) no race to propagate;
(2) no character to be gained;
(3) no redemption to accomplish.
Established righteousness can have friendship without marriage.—R.T.
The so called dead are alive.
"God is not the God of the dead, but of the living." Having separated the idea of marriage from the conditions of the after life, our Lord took the opportunity of showing these questioners how unspiritual they were, and how unspiritual was their reading and rendering of Holy Scripture. They could see only the surface; they could not discern meanings and suggestions. When God said he was the "God of Abraham," something was involved in the saying. For the spiritually minded man this was involved—Abraham was alive. Abraham was risen and living. God was in actual, present relations with him. And what was true of Abraham is, for the spiritual man, true of all the so called dead—they are risen, they do live. Our Lord here distinctly affirms the continued existence of the soul, which is the real man, after death. He taught the "immortality of the soul."
I. DEATH IS A PHYSICAL EVENT. The soul is immaterial, but it comes into relation with a material body, and through its senses and faculties it acts in a material sphere. Death is one of the things that bear relation to that body. It is the supreme form of disease. Disease may destroy a limb or an organ, and the soul may keep within the limited body. But when disease affects what we call vital organs, and when death corrupts the body, the soul must go away from it—it is no longer usable. The soul, the man, does not die; it is only liberated from the limitations of a particular environment. We are coming, in these days, more and more clearly to see that death is a physical affair.
II. DEATH IS A NECESSARY EVENT. Because the connection between soul and body is made for a distinct moral purpose. It is therefore made for a limited time; and the connection must cease when the issue is reached. Life in the body and the earth sphere is the soul's education time, it is its moral probation; and so it is as necessarily limited as a boy's school years. Life on earth is not the soul's real life; it is not its manhood, it is its preparation time.
III. DEATH CANNOT TOUCH THE SOULS THAT MEN ARE. This has always been the Christian belief, though we express it nowadays in somewhat new forms. See how the truth bears on the question of the Sadducees They thought of humanity as permanently divided into sexes. They had to learn that souls have no sex, so their question, so far as it applied to them, was absurd.—R.T.
Our thoughts of Christ's Sonship.
"What think ye of Christ? whose Son is he?" This is what may be called a Socratic dialogue. Our Lord asks questions, and leads his hearers on until they find themselves entangled, and discover how little they had thought about the things of which they had talked so glibly. The expression, "What think ye of Christ?" has been made the text of many general sermons on the claims and Person of Christ; and it has been variously urged that our opinions about Christ decide our religious standing. We try to keep strictly to the passage, and find points in following through the precise inquiry of our Lord.
I. WHOSE SON IS MESSIAH? Our Lord uses the term "Christ," or "Messiah," here in its general sense, and from the Pharisees' point of view. He is not directly speaking of himself, or affirming that he is Messiah. He speaks to these Pharisees, and virtually says to them, "You talk about Messiah, you expect the coming Messiah, you are very learned about the Messiah. Say then, 'Whose Son is he?'" Those Pharisees could not read the mind of Jesus as he could read their minds, and they did not suspect how he meant to puzzle them; so at once they answered, "The Son of David." "The Pharisees were ready at once with the traditional answer; but they had never asked themselves whether it conveyed the whole truth, whether it could be reconciled, and, if so, how, with the language of predictions that were confessedly Messianic." Show how fully our Lord met this prophetic necessity. His mother was, and his reputed father was, "of the house and lineage of David."
II. HOW CAN MESSIAH BE DAVID'S SON AND DAVID'S LORD? This was so exceedingly easy a question, that one wonders how anybody could have been baffled by it. But perhaps these Pharisees were not baffled. They saw the answer plainly enough, but they saw also what the answer involved. This explained it all—Messiah. was to be both "Son of David" and "Son of God." But Jesus claimed to be Messiah, and these Pharisees dare not let the people hear them admit that the "Son of David" was also "Son of God." Those people had triumphantly brought Jesus into the temple as the "Son of David;" and if the Pharisees had ventured a reply to Jesus, they must have acknowledged his claim to be "Son of God." Our Lord was the Divine-human being—of David according to the flesh; of God according to the Spirit. God was the soul of his humanity.—R.T.