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6 We cannot tell.' This was a direct falsehood. The reason why they would not acknowledge that John was a prophet, was that if they did, they saw he could easily show them by what authority he did these things; that is, as Messiah. John predicted him, pointed him out, baptized him, came as his forerunner, to fulfil the prophecies. If they acknowledged one, they must acknowledge the other.
28 But what think ye? A certain man had two sons; and he came to the first, and said, Son, go work to-day in my vineyard. 29 He answered and said, I will not but afterward he repented, and went. 30 And he came to the second, and said likewise. And he answered and said, I go, Sir: and went not. 31 Whether of them twain did the will of his father? They say unto him, The first. Jesus saith unto them, Verily I say unto you, That the publicans and the harlots go into the kingdom of God before you. 32 For John came unto you in the way of righteousness, and ye believed him not: but the publicans and the harlots believed him: and ye, when ye had seen it, repented not afterward, that ye might believe him.
'Two sons. By those two sons our Lord intends to represent the conduct of the Jews, and that of the publicans and sinners. In my vineyard.' See note on ver. 33. To work in the vineyard here represents the work which God requires man to do. "I will not.' This had been the language of the publicans and wicked inen. They refused at first, and did not profess to be willing to go. Repented.' Changed his mind. Afterwards, at the preaching of John and Christ, they repented and obeyed. The second said, I go, Sir: and went not.' This represented the conduct of the scribes and pharisees-professing to obey God; observing the external rights of religion-but opposed really to the kingdom of God, and about to put his Son to death. 'Whether of them twain,' &c. Which of the two. 'They say unto him, The first.' This answer was correct. But it is strange that they did not perceive that it condemned themselves. 6 Go into the kingdom of God.' Become christians, or more readily follow the Saviour. See note, Matt. iii. 2. Before you.' Rather than you. They are more likely to do it than you. You are self-righteous, self-willed, and obstinate. 'John came in the way of righteousness.' That is, in the right way, or teaching the way to be righteous; to wit, by repentance. Publicans and harlots heard him, and became righteous, but they did not.
33 Hear another parable: There was a certain
householder, which planted a vineyard, and hedged it round about, and digged a wine-press in it, and built a tower, and let it out to husbandmen, and went into a far country:
The parable of the vineyard. This is also recorded in Mark xii. 1-12. Luke xx. 9-19. 'Hear another parable.' See note, Matt. xiii. 3. A certain householder.' Note, Matt. xx. 1. Planted a vineyard.' A place for the cultivation of grapes. It is often used to represent the church of God, as a place cultivated and valuable. Judea was favourable to vines, and the figure is frequently used, therefore, in the sacred writers. See Matt. xx. 1. It is used here to represent the Jewish people. 6 Hedged it round about.' This means, he inclosed it, either with a fence of wood or stone, or more probably with thorns, thick set and growing, a common way of inclosing fields in Judea. 'And digged a wine-press in it." Mark says, digged a place for the wine-fat. This should have been so rendered in Matthew. The original word does not mean the press in which the grapes were trodden, but the vat or large cistern into which the wine ran. The wine-press was made of two receptacles. The upper one, in Persia at present, about eight feet square, and four feet high; in this the grapes are thrown, and trodden by men, and the juice runs into the large receptacle, or cistern below. See Isa lxiii. 3. 'And built a tower.' See also Isa. v. 2. For the keepers who defended the vineyard from thieves and animals, especially from foxes or jackals, Cant. i. 6; ii.15. And let it out,' &c. This was not an uncommon thing. Vineyards were often planted to be let out for profit. Into a far country. This means, in the original, only that he departed from them. It does not mean that he went out of the land. Luke adds, 'for a long time.' That is, as appears, till the time of the fruit; perhaps for a year. These circumstances denote in general that God had taken proper care of his vineyard; that is, his people; but beyond that we cannot affirm that they mean any particular thing, for he has not told us that they do.
34 And when the time of the fruit drew near, he sent his servants to the husbandmen, that they might receive the fruits of it.
The time of gathering the fruit. The vineyard was let out probably for a part of the fruit, and the owner sent to receive the part that was his. Sent his servants.' These doubtless represent the prophets sent to the Jewish people.
35 And the husbandmen took his servants, and beat, one, and killed another, and stoned another.
'And killed another.' See Luke xiii. 34. Heb. xi. 37. 1 Sam. xxii. 18. 1 Kings xix. 10. 'And stoned another. This was among the Jews a common way of punishment, Deut. xiii. 10; xvii. 7. Josh. vii. 25. Especially was this the case in times of popular tumult, and of sudden indignation among the people, Acts vii. 58; xiv. 19. John viii. 59; x. 31. This does not imply of necessity that those who were stoned died; they might be only severely wounded. Mark says, ' at him they cast stones, and wounded him in the head, and sent him away,' &c.
There is a little variation in the circumstances, as mentioned by Matthew, and by Mark and Luke; but the substance is the same. Mark and Luke are more particular, and state the order in which the servants were sent one after another. They all denote the ill conduct of the people to the prophets. All these things had been done to them. See Jer. xliv. 4-6. 2 Chron. xxiv. 20, 21; xxxvi. 16. Neh. ix. 26.
36 Again, he sent other servants more than the first: and they did unto them likewise. 37 But last of all, he sent unto them his son, saying, They will reverence my son.
Mark adds, that this was an only son, greatly beloved. This beautifully and most tenderly exhibits the love of God, in sending his only Son, Jesus Christ, into the world to die for men. To' reverence,' denotes honour, esteem, deference-that feeling which we have in the presence of one greatly our superior-to give such a person, in our feelings and deportment, the honour which is due to his rank and character. God is often represented in the bible as giving his Son, his only begotten and wellbeloved Son, for a lost world, John iii. 16, 17. I John iv. 9, 14. Rom. viii. 3, 32. Gal. iv. 4.
38 But when the husbandmen saw the son, they said among themselves, This is the heir; come, let us kill him, and let us seize on his inheritance.
An 'heir' is one who succeeds to an estate, commonly a son; an inheritance' is what an heir receives.
39 And they caught him, and cast him out of the vineyard, and slew him.
This refers to the conduct of the Jews in putting the Saviour to death. So they understood it, ver. 45. This was done, by giving him into the hands of the Romans, and seeking his crucifixion, Matt. xxvii. 20-25. Acts ii. 23; vii. 51, 52. 'And cast him out of the vineyard.' The vineyard in this parable may represent Jerusalem. Jesus was crucified out of Jerusalem, on the north-west side; on mount Calvary, Luke xxiii, 33.
40 When the lord therefore of the vineyard cometh, what will he do unto those husbandmen?
The design of asking them this question was, that they might condemn themselves, and admit the justice of the punishment that was soon coming upon them.
41 They say unto him, He will miserably destroy those wicked men, and will let out his vineyard unto other husbandmen, which shall render him the fruits in their seasons.
They answered according as they knew men would act, and would act justly in doing it. He would take away their privileges, and confer them on others. This was the answer which Jesus wished. He wished to show them the justice of taking away their national privileges, and punishing them in the destruction of their city and nation. They did not yet see the bearing of what they had admitted.
42 Jesus saith unto them, Did ye never read in the scriptures, The stone which the builders rejected, the same is become the head of the corner: this is the Lord's doing, and it is marvellous in our eyes?
This passage is found in Ps. cxviii. 22, 23. It was first applicable to David; but no less to Jesus. The stone.' The figure is taken from building a house. The principal stone for size and beauty, is that commonly laid as the corner-stone. 'Which the builders rejected.' This represents the Lord Jesus, proposed to the Jews as the foundation, or corner-stone, on which to build the church: rejected by them-the builders-on account of his want of comeliness, or beauty; that is, of what they esteemed to be comely, or desirable, Isa. liii. 2, 3. 'The same is become,' &c. Though rejected by them, yet God chose him, and made him the foundation of the church. Christ is often compared to a stone, a corner-stone, a tried, that is, a sure, firm foundation: all in allusion to the custom of building, Acts iv. 11. Rom. ix. 33. Eph. ii. 20. 1 Pet. ii. 7. 'Marvellous in our eyes.' That the Son of God should stoop so low, be despised and rejected, and put to death; that God should raise him up, and build a church on this foundation, embracing the Gentile as well as the Jew, and spreading through all the world, is a subject of wonder and of praise to all the redeemed.
43 Therefore say I unto you, the kingdom of God shall be taken from you, and given to a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof.
Jesus applies the parable to them-the Jews. They had been the children of the kingdom; or under the reign of God; having
his law and acknowledging him as King. They had been his chosen and peculiar people. But he says that now this privilege should be taken away, and they cease to be the peculiar people of God; and the blessing should be given to a nation who would bring forth the fruits thereof, or be righteous; that is, to the Gentiles, Acts xxviii. 28.
44 And whosoever shall fall on this stone shall be broken: but on whomsoever it shall fall, it will grind him to powder.
'Whosoever shall fall, &c. There is a reference here, doubtless, to Isa. viii. 14, 15. Having made an allusion to himself as a stone, or a rock, ver. 42, he proceeds to state the consequences of coming in contact with it. He that falls upon it, shall be broken; he that runs against it shall be injured, or broken in his limbs, or body. He that is offended with my being the foundation, or opposes me, shall, by the act, injure himself; making himself miserable by so doing. On whom this stone falls, it will grind him to powder.' There is an allusion here, doubtless, to the custom of stoning, as a punishment among the Jews. A scaffold was erected twice the height of the man to be stoned. Standing on its edge, he was violently struck off by one of the witnesses; if he died by the blow and the fall, nothing further was done; if not, a heavy stone was thrown down on him, which at once killed him. So the Saviour speaks of the falling of the stone on his enemies. They who oppose him, reject him, and continue impenitent, shall be crushed by him in the day of judgment, and perish for ever.
45 And when the chief priests and pharisees had heard his parables, they perceived that he spake of them. 46 But when they sought to lay hands on him, they feared the multitude, because they took him for a prophet.
They at last perceived that he spoke of them, and would have gratified their malice at once, but they feared the people.
1 AND Jesus answered and spake unto them again by parables, and said, 2 The kingdom of heaven is like unto a certain king, which made a marriage for his son,
'Spake by parables.' See note, Matt. xiii. 3. This parable refers undoubtedly to the rejection of the Jews, and to the calling of the Gentiles. The gospel, with all its privileges, was offered to the Jewish people; but through their wickedness and pride they rejected it, and all its blessings were offered to the Gentiles,