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were guilty, and dared make no resistance. 3. It had always been the belief of the Jews that a prophet had a right to change, regulate, and order the various affairs relating to external worship.
Mark and Luke add, that in consequence of this, the scribes and chief priests attempted to put him to death, Mark xi. 18, 19. Luke xix. 47, 48. This they did from envy, Matt. xxvii. 18. He drew off the people from them, and they envied and hated him.
14 And the blind and the lame came to him in the temple ; and he healed them. 15 And when the chief priests and scribes saw the wonderful things that he did, and the children crying in the temple, and saying, Hosanna to the Son of David; they were sore displeased, 16 And said unto him, Hearest thou what these say? And Jesus saith unto them, Yea, have ye never read, Out of the mouth of babes and sucklings thou hast perfected praise ?
- The chief men of the nation were envious of his popularity. They could not prevent it; but being determined to find fault, they took occasion to do so from the shouts of the children. Our Lord confounded them by appealing to a text of their own scriptures. This text is found in Ps. viii. 2. This quotation is not made directly from the Hebrew, but from the Greek translation. The point of the quotation was to prove that children might offer praise to God, which is expressed in both the Hebrew and the Greek.
17 | And he left them, and went out of the city into Bethany; and he lodged there. • Bethany.' See note, Matt. ver. 1.
18 Now in the morning as he returned into the city, he hungered. 19 And when he saw a fig-tree in the way, he came to it, and found nothing thereon, but leaves only, and said unto it, Let no fruit grow on thee henceforward for ever. And presently the fig-tree withered away.
This tree was standing in the public road. It was, therefore, common property, and any one might lawfully take its fruit. Mark says, xi. 13, Seeing a fig-tree afar off
, having leaves, he came, &c. That is, not far off from the road; but seeing it at a considerable distance, having leaves appearing healthy and luxuriant, ne presumed that there would be fruit on it. And found nothing thereon, but leaves only. Mark, xi. 13, gives as a reason for this, that the time of figs was not yet. That is, the time of gathering the figs was not yet, or had not passed. This took place on the week of the passover, or in the beginning of April.
The summer in Palestine begins in March, and it is no uncom. mon thing that figs should be eatable in April.
Mark, xi. 12, 13, says that this took place on the morning of the day on which he purified the temple. "Matthew would lead us to suppose that it was on the day following. Matthew records briefly what Mark records more fully. Matthew states the fact that the fig-tree was barren and withered away, without regarding minutely the order, or the circumstances in which the event took place. Such circumstantial variations show that the writers did not conspire to deceive the world. And said unto it, Let no fruit grow on thee, &c. Mark calls this cursing the tree, ch. xi. 21. All the curse that was pronounced, was in the words, that no fruit should grow on it. The Jews used the word curse, not as implying always wrath and anger, but to devote to death, or to any kind of destruction, Heb. vi. 8. And presently the fig-tree withered away. That is, before another day. See Mark. It is probable that they were passing directly onward, and did not stop then to consider it. Mark states that they made the discovery on the morning after it was cursed, xi. 20.
20 And when the disciples saw it, they marvelled, saying, How soon is the fig-tree withered away!
* And when the disciples saw it.' That is, on the morning fol. lowing, Mark xi. 20. * They marvelled;' or wondered ; and said, &c. Peter said this Mark xi. 21. Matthew means only to say that this was said to him: Mark tells us that it was Peter said it.
21 Jesus answered and said unto them, Verily, I say unto you, If ye have faith, and doubt not, ye shall not only do this which is done to the fig-tree, but also, if ye shall say unto this mountain, Be thou removed, and be thou cast into the sea; it shall be done.
Jesus took occasion from this to establish their faith in God, Mark xi. 22. He told them that any difficulty could be removed by faith. To remove a mountain, denotes the power of overcoming any difficulty. The phrase was so used by the Jews.
22 And all things whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer believing, ye shall receive.
He adds an encouragement for them to pray, assuring them that they should have all things which they asked. This promise was evidently a special one, given to them in regard to working miracles.
23 And when he was come into the temple, the chief priests and the elders of the people came unto him as he was teaching, and said, By what authority
doest thou these things ? and who gave thee this authority ?
See also Mark xi. 27–33. Luke xx. 148. When he was come into the temple.' That is, probably, into the inner court: the court of the Israelites. They took this opportunity when he was not surrounded by the multitude. ‘By what authority,' &c. There was a show of propriety in this question. He was making great changes in the aflairs of the temple, and they claimed to know why this was done, contrary to their permission. He was not a priest ; he had no civil or ecclesiastical authority, as a Jew. * These things.' The things which he had just done, in turning over the seats of those that were engaged in traffic, ver. 12.
24 And Jesus answered and said unto them, I also will ask you one thing, which if ye tell me, I in like wise will tell you by what authority I do these things. 25 The baptism of John, whence was it? from heaven, or of men ? And they reasoned with themselves, saying, If we shall say, From heaven; he will say unto us, Why did ye not then believe him?
He took the wise in their own crastiness. Whatever answer they gave, he knew they would convict themselves. And so they saw, when they looked at the question. They reasoned correctly. If they said, from heaven, he would directly ask why they did not believe him. They professed to hear all the prophets. If of men, their reputation was gone, for all the people believed that John was a prophet. “The baptism of John. The word baptism here probably includes all his work. This was his principal employment; and hence he was called the Baptist, or the Baptizer. But our Saviour's question refers to his whole ininistry. The ministry of John: his baptism, preaching, prophecies: was it from God, or not? If it was, then the inference was clear that Jesus was the Messiah ; and then they might easily know by what authority he did these things. Froin hea
By divine authority, or by the command of God. 'From men. By human authority.
26 But if we shall say, Of men; we fear the people; for all hold John as a prophet.
We fear the people. They feared that the people would stone them. (Luke.) Such an unpopular sentiment as to profess that all John did was imposture, would have probably ended in tumult, perhaps in their death.
27 And they answered Jesus, and said, We cannot tell. And he said unto them, Neither tell I you by what authority I do these things.
• 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
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. '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 tne 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. • 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, is 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.