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one of the company of the happiness of those who are permitted to partake of the blessings which God has provided for good men at that period, which it was usual for the Jews to speak of under the idea of a feast, or entertainment. In the twelfth and thirteenth verses Christ had advised those who make a feast, to invite to it the poor and the maimed, the lame and the blind: this led him to deliver a parable, in which the master of the house was obliged to have recourse to this method of filling his house with guests, and which was intended to foretel the rejection of the gospel by the rulers of the Jews, and the reception of it by many of the common people, but especially by the Gentiles. The Jew who made this observation, probably intended to congratulate his countrymen, as being the only persons who would be admitted to the privilege of eating bread in the kingdom of heaven with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and other eminent men: but Christ intimates that that honour would be declined by the most distinguished of his countrymen, and was reserved for some of the common people, and of the Gentiles; since the former would prefer the employments and pleasures of this world to the happiness of the next, which was offered to them.
16. Then said he unto him; A certain man made a great supper, and invited many;
17. And sent his servant at suppertime, to say to them that were invited, Come: for all things are now ready.
As they delayed to come at the usual time, the master sent a servant to remind them of their engagement, lest they might have forgotten it.
18. And they all with one consent, or, “ from one cause," began to make excuse. The first said unto him, I have bought a piece of ground,“ a farm,"and I must needs go and see it. I pray thee have me excused; or, “ make my excuse.”
19. And another said, I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I go to prove them, “ to try them.” I pray thee make my excuse.
20. And another said, I have married a wife, and therefore I cannot come.
These excuses afforded no good reason for desiring to absent themselves from an entertainment, to which they had been respectfully invited, and which they had promised to attend : for he that had bought a farm, and he that had bought oxen might, without inconvenience, have deferred visiting them till the next morning; and even he that had just married a wife could not violate any rule of propriety in leaving her for a few hours. To excuse themselves upon such frivolous pretences, discovered indifference to the entertainment, and contempt of the master of it, who had invited them. No wonder, therefore, that he was angry, when he found in what manner they intended to treat him. This represents the conduct of some of the principal persons among the Jews, who, upon slight pretences of attending to their worldly concerns, paid no attention to the invitations given them by Jesus, to enter into his kingdom.
21. So that servant came and showed his master these things. Then the master of the house, being angry, said to his servant, Go out quickly into the streets and lanes of the city, and bring in hither the poor and the maimed, the halt, or, “ lame," and the blind.
The entertainment being slighted by those for whom it was first intended, the master of the feast resolves that such great preparations shall not be made to no purpose: he therefore sends his servant into the streets, where he was likely to find such miserable objects, to invite the poor, the crippled and the diseased, to partake of the feast which had been provided for his rich neighbours. This represents to us the conduct of God, in directing Christ to address himself to the poor, to fishermen, to publicans and harlots, when his message was neglected by the rulers of the Jews. Not that we are to suppose, however, that all the followers of Jesus were persons of this description ; yet the greater part of them were certainly despised for the meanness of their condition, or their former way of life.
22. And the servant said, Master, it is done as thou hast commanded, and yet there is room.
The servant, knowing the generous intentions of his master, and that he wished for as many guests as his apartments would hold, tells him that although he had collected all whom he could meet with in the streets and lanes, the house was not full, and wishes to know what further he would have him do.
23. And the master said unto the servant, Go out into the highways and hedges, and compel them, “press them," to come in, that my house may be filled.
As he had collected all the poor that were to be found in the city, he directs him now to go into the high roads leading to it, and to the hedges, where they usually have their station, and to use the most earnest persuasion to induce them to come in, if they discovered any reluctance: for he was resolved, if possible, to fill his house, and to prevent those who were first invited from being admitted, if they should afterward change their mind.
24. For I say unto you, that none of those men which were invited shall taste of my supper.
This second order, to search for the poor in the highways, refers to the intention of Providence to send the gospel to the Gentiles, and to invite them into the privileges of the Christian Church, to fill up the place of the Scribes and rulers of the Jews, who had refused to accept them. A people who seemed to be cast off by God, as the Gentiles were, are fitly represented by the outcasts of society, who occupy the highways and hedges. From the servant being directed to compel them to come in, some have inferred the propriety of employing violence, in order to make men proselytes to the Christian religion, or to restore them to the true faith. But it should be remembered that it was to a feast that he was directed to bring them, to which it is not usual to force men, although it may be common to entreat and press them. Nor was one servant alone strong enough to force in a great number of beggars, against their will. Besides, it is well known that the word here translated compel is used to express earnest persuasion by reason and argument. Thus Christ is said to have compelled his disciples to go into a ship, although he neither drove nor thrust them into it, but employed exhortation, or the influence of his authority, for that purpose.
25. And there went great multitudes with him.
They were persons of various characters, and followed him from different motives; most or all of them expecting that he would set up a temporal kingdom, in which they should enjoy all kinds of gratification. But he takes care to undeceive them upon this subject, by telling them that those who became his disciples, must give up their dearest friends and relatives, and bear all kinds of persecution and self-denial. This he did to prevent men who came from worldly views, from following him: for he knew that they would do no credit to his cause, with such mistaken apprehensions.
And he turned, and said unto them,
26. If any man come to me, and hate not his father and mother and wife and children and brethren and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple:
What is here to be understood by hating father and mother, Matthew has explained in a parallel passage, when he represents Jesus as saying; He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me. To hate father and mother and other relatives is therefore to love them less than Christ, agreeably to a phraseology that frequently occurs in Scripture. The profession of Christianity in early times occasioned quarrels among the nearest relatives; and unless men were more attached to Christianity than to their friends, they must renounce it.
27. And whosoever doth not bear his cross, and come after me, cannot be my disciple.
Crucifixion was the most cruel and infamous of the punishments inflicted by the Romans. llence the cross came to be used metaphorically for all kinds of evils; to bear the cross, therefore, and come after Christ, is to expose ourselves with fortitude to the greatest evils in his cause. Thus men must be ready to die, before they could be the disciples of Christ.
In order to convince them of the propriety of deliberation, before they professed themselves his followers, he reminds them of what men think it right to do in similar circumstances, when they have important undertakings before them.
28. For which of you, intending to build a tower, sitteth not down first, and counteth the cost, whether he have sufficient to finish it?