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Son. This was done last of all. All the prophets were harbingers and forerunners to Christ. He was sent last ; for if nothing else would work upon them, surely this would ; it was therefore reserved for the last expedient. Surely they will reverence my Son, and therefore I will send him. It might reasonably be expected that the Son of God, when he came to his own, should be reverenced ; if they will but reverence the Son, the point is gained.
Never did sin appear more sinful than in the abusing of the Son. When he came, they said, This is the heir, come, let us kill him. Pilate and Herod, the princes of this world, knew not; for if they had known they would not have crucified the Lord of glory, 1 Cor. ii. 8. But the chief priests and elders knew that this was the heir, at least some of them ; and, therefore, Come, let us kill him. Many are killed for what they have. The chief thing they envied him, and for which they hated and feared him, was his interest in the people and their hosannas, which if he was taken off
, they hope to engross securely to themselves. They pretended that he must die, to save the people from the Romans (John xi. 50); but really he must die, to save their hypocrisy and tyranny from that reformation which the expected kingdom of the Messiah would certainly bring along with it.
While they were so set upon killing him, in pursuance of their design to secure their own pomp and
power, and while he was so set upon dying, in pursuance of his design to subdue Satan, and save his chosen, no wonder if they soon caught him, and slew him, when his hour was come. Though the Roman power condemned him, yet it is still charged upon the chief priests and elders; for they were not only the prosecutors, but the principal agents, and had the greater sin. Ye have taken, &c. Acts. ii. 23.
The doom of these wicked husbandmen is read out of their own mouths, ver. 40, 41. Hle puts it to them, When the Lord of the vineyard cometh, what will he do unto these husbandmen? He puts it to themselves, for their stronger conviction, that knowing the judgment of God against them which do such things, they might be the more inexcusable. God's proceedings are so unexceptionable, that there needs but an appeal to sinners themselves concerning the equity of them. God will be justified when he speaks. They could readily answer, He will miserably destroy those wicked men.
Let men never expect to do ill, and fare well. This was fulfilled upon the Jews, in that miserable destruction which was brought upon them by the Romans, and was completed about forty years after this; an unparalleled ruin, attended with all the most dismal aggravating circumstances. It will be fulfilled upon all that tread in the steps of their wickedness; hell is everlasting destruction, and it will be the most miserable destruction to them of all others, that have enjoyed the
greatest share of church privileges, and have not improved them. The hottest place in hell will be the
portion of hypocrites and persecutors.
The entertainment ich this discourse of Christ met with among the hief priests and elders. They perceived that he spake of them (ver. 45), and that in what they said (ver. 41), they had but read their own doom. A guilty conscience needs no accuser, and sometimes will save a minister the labour of saying, Thou art the man. So quick and powerful is the Word of God, and such a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart, that it is easy for bad men (if conscience be not quite seared) to perceive that it speaks of them. They sought to lay hands on him. When those who hear the reproofs of the word, perceive that it speaks of them, if it do not do them a great deal of good, it will certainly do them a great deal of hurt. If they be not pricked to the heart with conviction and contrition, as they were Acts ii. 37, they will be cut to the heart with rage
and indignation, as they were Acts v. 33. They durst not do it, for fear of the multitude, who took him for a prophet, though not for the Messiah ; this served to keep the Pharisees in awe. The fear of the people restrained them from speaking ill of John (ver. 26), and here from doing ill to Christ.-God has many ways of restraining the remainders of wrath, as he has of making that which breaks out redound to his praise, Psal. lxxvi. 10.
1 The parable of the marriage of the king's son. 9 The vocation of the Gentiles. 12 The punish
ment of him that wanted the wedding-garment. 15 Tribute ought to be paid to Cæsar. 23 Christ confuteth the Sadducees for the resurrection : 34 answereth the lawyer, which is the first and great commandment: 41 and poseth the Pharisees about the Messias.
a Luke xiv. 16; Rev. xix. 7, 9.
riage for his son. 3 And sent forth his servants to call them that were bidden to the wedding: and they would not come. 4 Again, he sent forth other servants, saying, Tell them which are bidden, Behold, I have prepared my dinner : "my oxen and my fatlings are killed, and all things are ready: come unto the marriage. 5 But they made light of it, and went their ways, one to his farm, another to his merchandise: 6. And the remnant took his servants, and entreated them spitefully, and slew them. 7 But when the king heard thereof, he was wroth: and he sent forth his armies, and destroyed those murderers, and burned up their city. 8 Then saith he to his servants, The wedding is ready, but they which were bidden were not worthy. 9 Go ye therefore into the highways, and as many as ye shall find, bid to the marriage. 10 So those servants went out into the highways, and gathered together all as many as they found, both bad and good: and the wedding was furnished with guests. 11 y And when the king came in to see the guests, le saw there a man 'which had not on a wedding garment: 12 And he saith unto him, Friend, how camest thou in hither not having a wedding garment? And he was speechless. 13 Then said the king to the servants, Bind him hand and foot, and take him away, and cast him sinto outer darkness; there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
14 For many are called, but few are chosen. b Prov. ix. 2. c Dan. ix. 26; Luke xix. 27. d Chap. x. 11, 13; Acts xiii. 46. Chap. xiii. 39. 47. f 2 Cor. v. 3; Eph. iv. 24;
Col. iii. 10, 12; Rev. iii. 4, xvi. 15, xix. 8. & Chap. viii. 12. h Chap. xx. 16. We have here the parable of the guests invited to the wedding feast. In this it is said (ver. 1), Jesus ansvered, not to what his opposers said (for they were put to silence), but to what they thought, when they were wishing for an opportunity to lay hands on him, chap. xxi. 46. Christ knows how to answer men's thoughts, for he is a discerner of them. Or, he answered, that is, he continued his discourse to the same purport; for this parable represents the gospel offer, and the entertainment it meets with, as the former, but under another similitude. The parable of the vineyard represents the sin of the rulers that persecuted the prophets; it shows also the sin of the people, who generally neglected the message, while their great ones were persecuting the messengers.
Gospel preparations are here represented by a feast which a king made at the marriage of his son ; such is the kingdom of heaven, such the provision made for precious souls, in and by the new covenant. The king is God, a great King, King of kings.
A marriage is made for his son. Christ is the Bridegroom, the Church is the bride. The gospel covenant is a marriage covenant betwixt Christ and believers, and it is a marriage of God's making. This branch of the similitude is only mentioned, and not prosecuted here.
4 dinner is prepared for this marriage, ver. 4. All the privileges of Church-membership, and all the blessings of the new covenant, pardon of sin, the favour of God, peace of conscience, the promises of the gospel, and all the rich contained in them, access to the throne of grace, the comforts of the Spirit, and a well-grounded hope of eternal life. These are the preparations for this feast, a heaven upon earth now, and a heaven in heaven shortly. It is a feast. "Gospel preparations were prophesied of as a feast (Isa. xxv. 6), a feast of fat things, and were typified by the many festivals of the ceremonial law (1 Cor. v. 8); let us keep the feast. A feast is a good day (Esth. viii. 17); so is the gospel; it is a continual feast. O.ren and fatlings are killed for this feast; no niceties, but substantial food enough, and enough of the best. The day of a feast is a day of slaughter, or sacrifice, James v. 5. Gospel preparations are all founded in the death of Christ, his sacrifice of himself. A feast was made for love, it is a reconciliation feast, a token of God's good-will toward men. It is a rejoicing feast. It was made for fulness ; the design of the gospel was to fill every hungry soul with good things. It was made for fellowship, to maintain an intercourse between heaven and earth. We are sent for to the banquet of wine, that we may tell what is our petition, and what is our request.
The guests are called, bidden to the wedding. All that are within bearing of the joyful sound of the gospel, to them is the word of this invitation sent. The servants that bring the invitation
do not set down their names in a paper; there is no occasion for that, since none are excluded but those that exclude themselves. Those that are bidden to the dinner are bidden to the wedding; for all that partake of gospel privileges are to give a due and respectful attendance on the Lord Jesus, as the faithful friends and humble servants of the Bridegroom.
In the gospel there are not only gracious proposals made, but gracious persuasives. We persuade men, we beseech them in Christ's stead, 2 Cor. v. 11, 20. See how much Christ's heart is set upon the happiness of poor souls! He not only provides for them, in consideration of their want, but sends to them, in consideration of their weakness and forgetfulness. When the invited guests were slack in coming, the king soni forth other servants, ver. 4. When the prophets of the Old Testament prevailed not, nor John the Baptist, nor Christ himself, who told them the entertainment was almost ready (the kingdom of God was at hand), the apostles and ministers of the gospel were sent after Christ's resurrection, to tell them it was come, it was quite ready, and to persuade them to accept the offer. One would think it had been enough to give men an intimation that they had leave to come, and should be welcome ; that, during the solemnity of the wedding, the king kept open house ; but, because the natural man discerns not, and therefore desires not, the things of the Spirit of God, we are pressed to accept the call by the most powerful inducements, drawn with the cords of a man, and all the bonds of love.
The cold treatment which the gospel of Christ often meets with among the children of men, is represented by the cold treatment that this message met with, and the hot treatment that the messengers met with, in both which the king himself and the royal bridegroom are affronted. This reflects primarily upon the Jews, who rejected the counsel of God against themselves; but it looks farther, to the contempt that would, by many in all ages, be put upon, and the opposition that would be given to, the gospel of Christ.
The message was basely slighted (ver. 3); They would not come. The reason why sinners come not to Christ and salvation by him is, not because they cannot, but because they will not (John v. 40); Ye will not come to me. This will aggravate the misery of sinners, that they might have had happiness for the coming for, but it was their own act and deed to refuse it.
And the reason why they made light of the marriage feast was, because they had other things that they minded more, and had more mind to; they went their ways, one to his farm, and another to his merchandise. The business and profit of worldly employments, prove to many a great bindrance in closing with Christ. None turn their back on the feast, but with some plausible excuse or other, Luke xiv. 18. The country people have their farms to look after, about which there is always something or other to do; the town's people must tend their shops, and be constant upon the exchange; they must buy, and sell, and get gain. Both the city and the country have their temptations, the merchandise in the one, and the farms in the other; so that, whatever we have of the world in our hands, our care must be to keep it out of our hearts, lest it come between us and Christ.
The messengers also were basely abused; The remnant, or the rest of them, that is, those who did not go to the farms, or merchandise, were neither husbandmen or tradesmen, but ecclesiastics, the scribes and Pharisees, and chief priests; these were the persecutors, these took the servants, and treated them spitefully, and slew them. This, in the parable, is unaccountable, never any could be so rude and barbarous as this, to servants that came to invite them to a feast; but, in the application of the parable, it was matter of fact ; they whose feet should have been beautiful, because they brought the glad tidings of the solemn feasts (Nahum i. 15), were treated as the offscouring of all things, 1 Cor. iv. 13. The prophets and John the Baptist had been thus abused already, and the apostles and ministers of Christ must count upon the same. The Jews were, either directly or indirectly, agents in most of the persecutions of the first preachers of the gospel.
The utter ruin that was coming upon the Jewish Church and nation is here represented by the revenge which the king in wrath took on these insolent recusants (ver. 7); He was wroth. The Jews, who had been the people of God's love and blessing, by rejecting the gospel, became the generation of his wrath and curse. Wrath came upon them to the uttermost, (1 Thess. ii. 16.) Now observe here the replenishing of the Church again, by the bringing in of the Gentiles, is here represented by the furnishing of the feast with guests out of the highways, ver. 8–10.
Now the guests that were gathered were, 1. A multitude, all, as many as they found, so many, that the guest-chamber was filled. 2. A mixed multitude, both bad and good; some that before their conversion were sober and well-inclined, as the devout Greeks (Acts xvii. 4), and Cornelius; others that had run to an excess of riot, as the Corinthians (1 Cor. vi. 11); such were some of you ; or, some that after their conversion proved bad, that turned not to the Lord with all their heart, but feignedly; others that were upright and sincere, and proved of the right class. Ministers, in casting the net of the gospel, enclose both good fish and bad ; but the Lord knows them that are his, The case of hypocrites, who are in the Church, but not of it, who have a name to live, but are not alive indeed, is represented by the guest that had not on a wedding garment ; one of the bad that were gathered in. Those come short of salvation by Christ, not only who refuse to take upon them the profession of religion, but who are not sound at heart in that profession.
The king came in to see the guests, to bid those welcome who came prepared, and to turn those who came otherwise. This hypocrite was never discovered to be without a wedding garment, till the king himself came in to see the guests. As soon as he came in, he presently espied the hypocrite; He saw there a man which had not on a wedding garment, and said to him (ver. 12), Friend, how camest thou in hither, not having a wedding garment? A startling question to one that was priding himself in the place he securely possessed at the feast. Friend! That was a cutting word; a seeming friend, a pretended friend, a friend in profession, under manifold ties and obligations to be a friend. There are many in the Church who are false friends to Jesus Christ, who say that they love him, while their hearts are not with him. How camest thou in hither? He does not chide the servants for letting him in (the wedding garment is an inward thing, ministers must go according to that which falls within their cognizance); but he checks his presumption in crowding in, when he knew that his heart was not upright; How durst thou claim a sbare in gospel benefits, when thou hadst no regard to gospel rules? What hast thou to do to declare my statutes ? Such are spots in the feast, dishonour the bridegroom, affront the company,
and disgrace themselves ; and therefore, How camest thou in hither? The day is coming, when hypocrites will be called to an account for all their presumptuous intrusion into gospel ordinances, and usurpation of gospel privileges. Who hath required this at your hand? Isa. i. 12. Despised sabbaths and abused sacraments must be reckoned for, and judgment taken out upon an action of waste against all those who received the grace of God in vain. How camest thou to the Lord's table, at such a time unhumbled and unsanctified? What brought thee to sit before God's prophets, as his people do, when thy heart went after thy covetousness? How camest thou in? Not by the door, but some other way, as a thief and a robber. It was a tortuous entry, a possession without colour of a title. It is good for those that have a place in the Church, often to put it to themselves, How came I in hither? Have I a wedding garment ? If we would thus judge ourselves, we should not be judged. 15 | 'Then went the Pharisees, and took counsel how they might entangle
him in his talk. 16 And they sent out unto him their disciples with the Herodians, saying, Master, we know that thou art true, and teachest the way of God in truth, neither carest thou for any man: for thou regardest not the person of men. 17 Tell us therefore, What thinkest thou? Is it lawful to give tribute unto Cæsar, or not? 18 But Jesus perceived their wickedness, and said, Why tempt ye me, ye hypocrites? 19 Shew me the tribute money. And they brought unto him a || penny. 20 And he saith unto them, Whose is this image and †superscription? 21 They say unto him, Cæsar's. Then saith he unto them, “Render therefore unto Cæsar the things which are Cæsar's; and unto God the things that are God's. 22 When they had heard these words, they mar. velled, and left him, and went their way.
i Mark xii. 13; Luke xx. 20. | In value sevenpence halfpenny; chap. xx. 2. Or, inscription. k Chap. xvii. 25; Rom. xlii. 7. It was not the least grievous of the sufferings of Christ, that he endured the contradiction of sinners against himself, and had snares laid for him by those that sought how to take him off with some pretence. In these verses, we have him attacked by the Pharisees and Herodians with a question about paying tribute to Cæsar. Their design was, to entangle him in his talk. Hitherto his rencounters had been mostly with the chief priests and elders--men in authority, who trusted more to their power than to their policy; but now he is set upon from another quarter : the Pharisees will try whether they can deal with him by their learning in the law, and in casuistical divinity, and they have a new trial for him. It was foretold concerning him, that the rulers would take counsel against him (Psal. ii. 2); and so persecuted they the prophets. The more there is of contrivance and consultation about sin, the worse it is. There is a particular woe to them that devise iniquity. Mic. ii. 1.
The next thing is, the question which they put to Christ, pursuant to their design (verses 16, 17). Having devised this iniquity in secret, in a close cabal behind the curtain, when they went abroad, without loss of time, they practised it. But they did not go themselves, lest the design should be
suspected, and Christ should stand the more upon his guard. They sent their disciples; who would look less like tempters, and more like learners. Wicked men will never want wicked instruments, to be employed in carrying on their wicked counsels. With them they sent the Herodians; a party among the Jews, who were for a cheerful and entire subjection to the Roman emperor, and to Herod his deputy; and who made it their business to reconcile people to that government, and pressed all to pay their tribute.
The preface with which they were plausibly to introduce the question, was highly complimentary to our Saviour (ver. 16)-Master, we know, that thou art true, and teachest the way of God in truth. It is a common thing for the most spiteful projects to be covered with the most specious pretences. Here is hatred covered with deceit, and a wicked heart with burning lips (Prov. xxvi. 23); as Judas, who kissed and betrayed; as Joab, who kissed and killed. Now, the question itself was, Whether it was lawful to pay the taxes voluntarily, or whether they should not insist upon the ancient liberty of their nation, and rather suffer themselves to be distrained upon? The ground of the doubt was, that they were Abraham's seed, and should not, by consent, be in bondage to any man. John viii. 33. God had given them a law, that they should not set a “stranger" over them.
not that imply, that they were not to yield any willing subjection to any prince, state, or potentate, that was not of their own nation and religion ? This was an old mistake, arising from that pride and that haughty spirit which bring destruction and a fall. Jeremiah, in his time, though he spoke in God's name, could not possibly beat them off it, nor persuade them to submit to the king of Babylon; and their obstinacy in that matter was then their ruin (Jer. xxvii. 12, 13): and now again they stumbled at the same stone; and it was the very thing which, in a few years after, brought final destruction upon them by the Romans. They quite mistook the sense both of the precept and of the privilege; and, under colour of God's Word, contended with his providence, when they should have kissed the rod, and accepted the punishment of their iniquity. However, by this question they hoped to entangle Christ, and, which way soever he resolved it, to expose him to the fury either of the jealous Jews, or of the jealous Romans. They were ready to triumph, as Pharaoh did over Israel, that the wilderness had shut him in, and his doctrine would be concluded either injurious to the rights of the Church, or hurtful to kings and provinces.
Our Lord discovered this snare (ver. 18). He perceived their wickedness ; for surely in vain is the net spread in the sight of any bird. Prov. i. 17. A temptation perceived is half conquered ; for our greatest danger lies from snakes under the green grass. And he said, Why tempt ye me, ye hypocrites? Whatever vizard the hypocrite puts on, our Lord Jesus sees through it; he perceives all the wickedness that is in the hearts of pretenders, and can easily convict them of it, and set it in order before them. He cannot be imposed upon, as we often are, by flatteries and fair pretences. His convicting them of hypocrisy might have served for an answer ; but our Lord Jesus gave a full answer to their question, and introduced it by an argument sufficient to support it, so as to lay down a rule for his Church in this matter, and yet to avoid giving offence, and to break the snare. He forced them, ere they were aware, to confess Cæsar's authority over them (vers. 19, 20). In dealing with those that are captious, it is good to give our reasons, and, if possible, reasons of confessed cogency, before we give our resolutions. Thus the evidence of truth may silence gainsayers by surprise, while they only stand upon their guard against the truth itself, not against the reason of it. 1 Show me the tribute money. He had none of his own to convince them by; it should seem, he had not so much as one piece of money about him. For our sakes he emptied himself, and became poor; he despised the wealth of this world, and thereby taught us not to over-value it. They presently brought unto him a penny, and he asked them, Whose image is this? They owned it to be Cæsar's
, and thereby convicted those of falsehood who said, “We were never in bondage to any;" and confirmed what afterward they said—“ We have no king but Cæsar.” It is a rule in the Jewish Talmud, that “ He is the king of the country whose coin is current in the country.” From thence he inferred the lawfulness of paying tribute to Cæsar (ver. 21),—Render therefore to Casar the things that are Cæsar's. Not “Give it him," as they express it (ver. 17); but Render itreturn or restore it. If Cæsar fill the purses, let Cæsar command them. It is too late now to dispute paying tribute to Cæsar; for you are become a province of the empire; and when once a relation is admitted, the duty of it must be performed. Render to all their due, and particularly tribute to whom tribute is due.
They were nonplussed by this answer; they marvelled, and left him and went their way (ver. 22). They admired his sagacity in discovering and evading a snare which they thought so craftily laid. Christ is, and will be, the wonder not only of bis beloved friends, but of his bafiled enemies. One would think they should have marvelled and followed him, marvelled and submitted to him; no, they marvelled and left him. There are many in whose eyes Christ is marvellous, and yet not precious, They admire his wisdom, but will not be guided by it; his power, but will not submit to it. They