12:1 And he began to speak unto them in parables1
. A man2 planted a vineyard3
, and set a hedge about it4
, and digged a pit for the winepress5
, and built a tower6
, and let it out to husbandmen7
, and went into another country8
IN REPLY TO THE QUESTIONS AS TO HIS AUTHORITY, JESUS GIVES THE THIRD GREAT GROUP OF PARABLES. (In the Court of the Temple. Tuesday, April 4, A.D. 30.) C. PARABLE OF THE WICKED HUSBANDMEN. Matthew 21:33-46 ; Mark 12:1-12 ; Luke 20:9-19
- And he began to speak unto them in parables. To the people, not the rulers.
- A man. This party represents God.
- Planted a vineyard. This represents the Hebrew nationality.
- And set a hedge about it. Some think the hedge refers to the manner in which Palestine was protected by sea and desert and mountain, butthe hedge and the winepress and the tower are mere parabolic drapery,for every man who planted a vineyard did all three.
- And digged a pit for the winepress. The winepress consisted of two tub-shaped cavities dug in the rock at different levels, the upperbeing connected with the lower by an orifice cut through from itsbottom. Grapes were placed in the upper cavity, or trough, and weretrodden by foot. The juice thus squeezed from them ran through theorifice to the trough below, from which it was taken and stored inleather bottles until it fermented and formed wine.
- And built a tower. A place where watchmen could be stationed to protect the vineyard from thieves as the grapes ripened for thevintage.
- And let it out to husbandmen. The ruler are here represented; and the rental was, as usual, a part of the ruins.
- And went into another country. Jesus frequently refers to this withdrawal of the visible presence of God from the world, alwaysbringing out the point that the withdrawal tests faithfulness. God hadcome down upon Mt. Sinai, given the law and established the Hebrewnation, after which he had withdrawn. That had indeed been a long timeago; and for four hundred years before the appearance of John theBaptist, God had not even sent a messenger to demand fruit.
12:2 And at the season he sent to the husbandmen a servant1, that he might receive from the husbandmen of the fruits of the vineyard2.
- And at the season he sent to the husbandmen a servant. That is, the prophets.
- That he might receive from the husbandmen of the fruits of the vineyard. See Luke 3:8 . He expected the children of Israel to bringforth joy, love, peace, and all the other goodly fruit of a godly life.And he looked to those in authority to bring forth such results, andthe prophets were sent to the rulers to encourage them to do this.
12:3 And they took him, and beat him, and sent him away empty1.
- And they took him, and beat him, and sent him away empty. For the treatment of the prophets, see such passages as 1 Kings 18:13 ; 1 Kings 22:24-27 2 Kings 6:31 ; 2 Chronicles 24:19-22 ; 2 Chronicles 36:15 2 Chronicles 36:16 . For a summary of the treatment of theprophets or messengers of God, see Hebrews 11:35-38 .
12:6 He had yet one, a beloved son: he sent him last unto them1, saying, They will reverence my son2.
- He had yet one, a beloved son: he sent him last unto them. The lord of the vineyard was thoroughly perplexed. The conduct of his husbandmenwas outrageous. He had no better servants to send them unless his onlyson should take upon him the form of a servant and visit them( Philippians 2:5-8 ).
- Saying, They will reverence my son. Being tender and forgiving, and unwilling to resort to extreme measures, the lord of the vineyardresolved to thus send his son, feeling sure that the son wouldrepresent the person, authority, and rights of the father so muchbetter than any other messenger ( Hebrews 1:1-5 ; Hebrews 2:1-3 ), that it would bewell-nigh impossible for the husbandmen to fail of reverence towardhim. In striking contrast, however, with this expectation of theFather, the rulers, or husbandmen, had just now harshly demanded of theSon that he tell by what authority he did anything in the vineyard( Mark 11:28 ).
12:7 But those husbandmen said among themselves, This is the heir; come1, let us kill him, and the inheritance shall be ours2.
- But those husbandmen said among themselves, This is the heir; come,
- let us kill him. In thus bringing the story down to the immediate present, and stating a counsel which his enemies had just spokenprivately in each other's ears ( Mark 11:18 ), Jesus must have startledthem greatly. He showed them, too, that those things which made themdeem it necessary to kill him were the very things which proved hisheirship.
- And the inheritance shall be ours. They regarded the Jewish nation as their property, and they were plotting to kill Jesus that they mightwithhold it from him ( John 11:47-50 ; John 12:19 ). That men might hope bysuch high-handed lawlessness to obtain a title to a vineyard seemsincredible to us who have always been familiar with the even-balancedjustice of constitutional government; but in the East the looseness ofgovernments, the selfish apathy and lack of public spirit among thepeople, and the corrupt bribe-receiving habits of the judges makes ourLord's picture even to this day, though rather exceptional, still trueto life. At this point Jesus turns from history to prophecy.
12:8 And they took him, and killed him, and cast him forth out of the vineyard1.
- And they took him, and killed him, and cast him forth out of the vineyard. After two intervening days the Jews would fulfill thisdetail by thrusting Jesus outside the walls of Jerusalem and crucifyinghim there.
12:10 Have ye not read even this scripture: The stone which the builders rejected, The same was made the head of the corner1;
Mark 12:10 Mark 12:11
- The stone which the builders rejected, The same was made the head of the corner. The quotation is from Psalms 118:22 Psalms 118:23 , which is here byJesus applied as a prophecy to the Pharisees, who, in their treatmentof him, were like unskilled builders who reject the very corner-stoneof the building which they seek to erect. The Pharisees were eagerenough in their desire to set up a Messianic kingdom, but were soblindly foolish that they did not see that this kingdom could not beset up unless it rested upon Christ Jesus, its corner-stone. Theyblundered in constructing their theory of the coming kingdom, and couldfind no room for one such as Jesus in it.
12:12 And they sought to lay hold on him; and they feared the multitude1; for they perceived that he spake the parable against them: and they left him, and went away2.
- And they sought to lay hold on him; and they feared the multitude;
- for they perceived that he spake the parable against them. Despite the warning which Jesus gave them that they were killing the Son and wouldreap the consequences, and despite the fact that he showed that thePsalm which the people had used so recently with regard to him foretolda great rejection which would prove to be a mistake, see Mark 11:9and see Mark 12:10, yet the rulers persisted in their evilintention to take his life, and were only restrained by fear of thepeople, many of whom were Galileans, men of rugged courage, ready todraw swords on Jesus' behalf.
- And they left him, and went away. Since they could neither arrest not answer him, they withdrew as a committee, but returned again in theperson of their spies.
12:13 And they send unto him certain of the Pharisees1 and of the Herodians2, that they might catch him in talk3.
JEWISH RULERS SEEK TO ENSNARE JESUS. (Court of the Temple. Tuesday, April 4, A.D. 30.) A. PHARISEES AND HERODIANS ASK ABOUT TRIBUTE. Matthew 22:15-22 ; Mark 12:13-17 ; Luke 20:20-26
- They send unto him certain of the Pharisees. See Matthew 3:7.
- And of the Herodians. Having no ancient statement giving us the tenets or principles of the Herodians, we are left to judge them solelyby their name, which shows that they were partisans of Herod Antipas.Whether they were out-and-out supporters of the Roman government, orwhether they clung to Herod as one whose intervening sovereignty savedthem from the worse fate of being directly under a Roman procurator (asJudea and Samaria then were) would not, as some suppose, affect theirviews as to the payment of tribute. If they accepted Herod merely forpolicy's sake, policy would compel them to favor the tribute, forAntipas, being appointed by Rome, would have to favor the tribute, andcould count none as his adherents who opposed it.
- That they might catch him in talk. Perceiving that Jesus, when on his guard, was too wise for them, the Pharisees thought it best tospeak their cunning through the mouths of their young disciples, whoseyouth and apparent desire to know the truth would, according to theircalculation, take Jesus off his guard.
112:14 And when they were come, they say unto him, Teacher, we know that thou art true, and carest not for any one; for thou regardest not the person of men, but of a truth teachest the way of God: Is it lawful to give tribute unto Caesar, or not2?
- Teacher, we know that thou art true, and carest not for any one; for thou regardest not the person of men, but of a truth teachest the wayof God. The meaning of their preface is this: "We see that neitherfear nor respect for the Pharisees or the rulers prevents you fromspeaking the plain, disagreeable truth; and we are persuaded that yourcourage and love of truth will lead you to speak the same way inpolitical matters, and that you will not be deterred therefrom by anyfear or reverence for Caesar". Fearless loyalty to truth is indeed oneof the noblest attributes of man. But instead of honoring this mostadmirable quality in Jesus, these hardened reprobates were endeavoringto employ it as an instrument for his destruction.
- Is it lawful to give tribute unto Caesar, or not? The Jews were required to pay annually a large sum of money to the Roman governmentas an acknowledgment of their subjection. About twenty years beforethis, Judas of Galilee had stirred up the people to resist thistribute, and the mass of the Jews was bitterly opposed to it. To decidein favor of this tribute was therefore to alienate the affection andconfidence of the throng in the temple who stood listening to him--anend most desirable to the Pharisees. If, on the other hand, Jesus saidthat the tribute should not be paid, the Herodians were present to hearit, and would be witnesses sanctioned by Herod, and therefore such asPilate would be compelled to respect. What but divine wisdom couldescape from so cunningly devised a dilemma.
12:15 Shall we give, or shall we not give? But he, knowing their hypocrisy, said unto them, Why make ye trial of me1? bring me a denarius, that I may see it2.
- But he, knowing their hypocrisy, said unto them, Why make ye trial of me? Thus, before answering, Jesus exposes the meanness and hypocrisyin their question, thereby emphasizing the important fact that he didnot dodge, but answered it.
- Bring me a denarius, that I may see it. Religious dues and tributes had been paid in shekels or old Jewish coin, but the tribute to Romewas paid in Roman coin of which the denarius was a sample.
12:16 And they brought it. And he saith unto them, Whose is this image and superscription? And they said unto him, Caesar's.
- Whose is this image and superscription? And they said unto him,
- Caesar's. The little silver coin had the head of the emperor stamped upon it, and the superscription TICAESARDIVIAVGFAVGVSTVS, which standsfor the Latin words "Tiberias Caesar Divi Augusti Filius Augustus",that is, "Tiberius Caesar, the August Son of the Divine Augustus".
12:17 And Jesus said unto them, Render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar's, and unto God the things that are God's1. And they marvelled greatly at him2.
- Render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar's, and unto God the things that are God's. Each nation uses its own coin. Had the Jewsnot been under Roman sovereignty, they would not have been using Romanmoney; but the coin which they brought to Jesus bore witness againstthem that the Roman sovereignty was established in their land, and thattribute to it was therefore justly due; for whoso uses Caesar's coinmust pay Caesar's tribute. This part of the answer satisfied theHerodians; and the last part "and to God", etc., satisfied the people,for it asserted, in a manner which carried conviction with it, that thepayment of enforced tribute was not inconsistent with maintainingcomplete allegiance of God. God was no longer, as of old, the civilruler of his people, and hence the payment of tribute to a temporalsovereign is in no sense incompatible with his service, but is enjoinedas a Christian duty ( Romans 13:1 Romans 13:7 ).
- And they marvelled greatly at him. They were amazed to find how far his wisdom transcended that of the teachers in whom they had suchsupreme confidence.
12:18 And there come unto him Sadducees1, who say that there is no resurrection; and they asked him, saying,
JEWISH RULERS SEEK TO ENSNARE JESUS. (Court of the Temple. Tuesday, April 4, A.D. 30.) B. SADDUCEES ASK ABOUT THE RESURRECTION. Matthew 22:23-33 ; Mark 12:18-27 ; Luke 20:27-39
- Sadducees. See Matthew 3:7. We may regard their attitude toward Christ as expressed by their leader Caiaphas. See John 11:49.
112:19 Teacher, Moses wrote unto us, If a man's brother die, and leave a wife behind him, and leave no child, that his brother should take his wife, and raise up seed unto his brother.
- If a man's brother die, and leave a wife behind him, and leave no child, that his brother should take his wife, and raise up seed untohis brother. See Deuteronomy 25:5 Deuteronomy 25:6 . The object of this law was to preservefamilies. But the custom was older than the law ( Genesis 38:6-11 ).
12:23 In the resurrection whose wife shall she be of them? for the seven had her to wife.
- In the resurrection whose wife shall she be of them? for the seven had her to wife. This was evidently a favorite Sadducean argumentagainst the resurrection. On the assumption that the marital state iscontinued after the resurrection, it makes the doctrine of aresurrection appear ridiculous, because, seemingly, it involvesdifficulties which even brothers could hardly settle amicably, andwhich even God would have in a sense to settle arbitrarily.
12:24 Jesus said unto them, Is it not for this cause that ye err, that ye know not the scriptures, nor the power of God1?
- Is it not for this cause that ye err, that ye know not the scriptures, nor the power of God? On the relevancy of these statementssee Mark 12:26.
12:25 For when they shall rise from the dead, they neither marry, nor are given in marriage; but are as angels in heaven1.
- For when they shall rise from the dead, they neither marry, nor are given in marriage; but are as angels in heaven. This favorite argumentof the Sadducees could not be successfully answered by the Phariseesbecause they could not refute the assumption that marriage is continuedin the future world. But Jesus does refute it on his own authority.
12:26 But as touching the dead, that they are raised1; have ye not read in the book of Moses2, in [the place concerning] the Bush, how God spake unto him, saying, I [am] the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob3?
- But as touching the dead, that they are raised. The disbelief of the Sadducees manifested itself in a triple form, for they denied theresurrection and the existence of angels and spirits ( Acts 23:8 ), butthe basal principle of their infidelity was the denial of spirits. Itwas, as it were, the tree trunk from which their other errors sprang asbranches. If there were such things as spirits, it was not worth whileto deny that there was an order of them known as angels. If man had aspirit which could survive his body, it was reasonable to believe thatGod, having so fashioned him that a body is essential to his activityand happiness, would in some manner restore a body to him. Jesustherefore does not pursue the argument until he has "proved aresurrection"; but rests when he has proved that man has a spirit.
- Have ye not read in the book of Moses. See Exodus 3:6 . Jesus proves that man has a spirit by a reference from the Pentateuch, that part ofScripture which the Sadducees accepted as derived from God throughMoses.
- I [am] the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob? The reference shows that God was spoken of and spoke of himselfas the God of those who were, humanly speaking, long since dead. Butthe Sadducees held that a dead man had ceased to exist, that he hadvanished to nothingness. According to their view, therefore, God hadstyled himself the God of nothing, which is absurd.
12:27 He is not the God of the dead, but of the living1: ye do greatly err2.
- He is not the God of the dead, but of the living. The Sadducees could not thus have erred had they known or understood the significanceof this Scripture, and they could not have doubted the resurrection hadthey known the absolute power with which God deals with material suchas that of which the body is formed.
- Ye do greatly err. See Mark 12:24 .
12:28 And one of the scribes came1, and heard them questioning together, and knowing that he had answered them well, asked him, What commandment is the first of all2?
JEWISH RULERS SEEK TO ENSNARE JESUS. (Court of the Temple. Tuesday, April 4, A.D. 30.) C. A LAWYER ASKS ABOUT THE GREAT COMMANDMENT. Matthew 22:34-40 ; Mark 12:28-34 ; Luke 20:40
- One of the scribes came. He was evidently deputed by those who counseled to ask this question.
- What commandment is the first of all? According to the statement of Jewish writers, there had been an old and interminable dispute amongthe rabbis as to which was the greatest commandment. Some held that itwas the law which commanded sacrifices Numbers 28:3 ; others, that whichcommanded the wearing of phylacteries, Numbers 15:38 Numbers 15:39 ; Deuteronomy 22:12 ; otherscontended for those about purification, Leviticus 10:10 , etc.; others, forthose about the great feasts, Exodus 12:15-18 , etc. But as they reckonedthe commandments of Moses as numbering over six hundred, there wasplenty of room for argument. On this memorable day the answers of Jesushad hitherto been of such a nature as to put his questioners tosilence. Therefore, in asking this question, they hoped to get ananswer about which they could at least find room to wrangle, and thusdiscredit the wisdom of Jesus.
12:29 Jesus answered, The first is, Hear, O Israel; The Lord our God, the Lord is one1:
Mark 12:29 Mark 12:30
- The first is, Hear, O Israel; The Lord our God, the Lord is one, etc. See Deuteronomy 6:4-9 . This command is first because it is the foundationof the entire law of God. It is greatest ( Matthew 22:38 ) because, in asense, it includes all the other laws. Polytheism, atheism, idolatry,and all sins against God are forbidden by it. All sins against man arelikewise, in a sense, prohibited by it; for sin against man is sinagainst God's image, and against the objects of God's love. Those whotruly love God cannot consistently sin against man ( 1 John 4:20 ).
12:30 and thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strengt1h.
- And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strengt. See Deuteronomy 6:5 . The curious may make metaphysical distinctions in the analysisof this required fourfold love, but the sum of it is that we are tolove God with our whole being.
12:31 The second is this, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself1. There is none other commandment greater than these2.
- The second is this, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. See whom we truly love. Where we love, we desire to bless. But sin alwayscarries with it a willingness to injure or to curse.
- There is none other commandment greater than these. The generic nature of the law of love is also noted by Paul ( Romans 13:8-10 ); butlove without law is not sufficient. Love begets a desire to bless, butthe law guides to the accomplishment of that desire. Perfectrighteousness is the result of wisdom as well as affection. Lovewithout law is power without direction, and law without love ismachinery without a motor ( 1 Corinthians 13:1-3 ).
12:32 And the scribe said unto him, Of a truth, Teacher, thou hast well said that he is one; and there is none other but he1:
Mark 12:32 Mark 12:33
- Of a truth, Teacher, thou hast well said that he is one; and there is none other but he, etc. Here, as in the preceding subdivision( Luke 20:39 ), the answer of Jesus was so clearly right that it enforcedadmiration.
12:34 And when Jesus saw that he answered discreetly, he said unto him, Thou art not far from the kingdom of God1. And no man after that durst ask him any question2.
- Thou art not far from the kingdom of God. Prejudice is the great obstacle to entering the kingdom. In proportion as we overcome it, wedraw near to God.
- And no man after that durst ask him any question. They found it expedient to keep silence when their questions only exposed their ownshallowness, and made more conspicuous the supreme wisdom of Jesus.
12:35 And Jesus answered and said, as he taught in the temple, How say the scribes that the Christ is the son of David1?
JEWISH RULERS SEEK TO ENSNARE JESUS. (Court of the Temple. Tuesday, April 4, A.D. 30.) D. JESUS' QUESTION WHICH NONE COULD ANSWER. Matthew 22:41-46 ; Mark 12:35-37 ; Luke 20:41-44
- How say the scribes that the Christ is the Son of David? The Pharisees had questioned him seeking to expose his lack of wisdom, butthe question of Jesus was devoid of retaliation. It was asked to teacha most important lesson. See Matthew 22:42.
12:36 David himself said in the Holy Spirit, The Lord said unto my Lord, Sit thou on my right hand, Till I make thine enemies the footstool of thy feet2.
- For David himself said in the Holy Spirit. The context here shows that the rabbis of that day accepted this Psalm as written by David andas Messianic in meaning. Since then the Jews have denied that the Psalmis Messianic, and that it was written by David, some saying thatAbraham, and others that Hezekiah, wrote it.
- The Lord said unto my Lord, Sit thou on my right hand, Till I make thine enemies the footstool of thy feet. The quotation is from Psalms 110:1 . This Psalm speaks of the Messiah as the Lord of David, andother Scriptures call him David's son. So also the Scriptures describeChrist as conquering yet suffering, as divine yet human, as dying yetliving, as judged yet judging, etc. The Jewish rulers seem able tograsp only one side of the character of Christ as revealed either inhis life or in the Scriptures, and hence they stumbled.
12:37 David himself calleth him Lord; and whence is he his son? And the common people heard him gladly1.
- And the common people heard him gladly. By all their questioning, the Jews had not been able to weaken public confidence in Christ.
12:38 And in his teaching he said, Beware of the scribes1, who desire to walk in long robes2, and [to have] salutations in the marketplaces3,
JESUS' LAST DISCOURSE. DENUNCIATION OF SCRIBES AND PHARISEES. (In the court of the Temple. Tuesday, April 4, A.D. 30.) Matthew 23:1-39 ; Mark 12:38-40 ; Luke 20:45-47
- Beware of the scribes. See Matthew 23:2.
- Who desire to walk in long robes. This clothing was a professional dress, as marked as that worn by priests and kings. It showed that itswearer was professionally religious.
- And [to have] salutations in the marketplaces. See Luke 11:43.
12:39 and chief seats in the synagogues1, and chief places at feasts2:
- And chief seats in the synagogues. See Luke 11:43.
- And chief places at feasts. See Luke 14:7.
12:40 they that devour widows' houses1, and for a pretence make long prayers2; these shall receive greater condemnation3.
- They that devour widows' houses. It is doubtful in what way the Pharisees devoured widows' houses, or property. Godet suggests thatthey extorted presents under pretense of interceding for them in theirprayers, and Lightfoot thinks that they got the goods of widows "bysubtle attractives", and by the management of their estates as judges,and as men acquainted with the law and therefore fit to administerestates. As to the particular blackness of the crime of robbing widows,see Exodus 22:22-24 ; Deuteronomy 27:19 .
- And for a pretence make long prayers. According to the later rabbinical teaching it is urged that a rabbi should pray one hour, andthat he should meditate for an hour before and an hour after prayer. Ondays when they carried out this rule and the other rule which requiredthree seasons of prayer a day, they would spend nine hours in prayer.But this was no doubt one of the cases where they said and did not.( Matthew 23:3 ).
- These shall receive greater condemnation. For thus making their religion a cloak for their vices they would be more severely punished.
12:41 And he sat down over against the treasury1, and beheld how the multitude cast money into the treasury2: and many that were rich cast in much.
OBSERVING THE OFFERINGS AND WIDOW'S MITES. (In the Temple. Tuesday, April 4, A.D. 30.) Mark 12:41-44 ; Luke 21:1-4
- And he sat down over against the treasury. It is said that in the court of the women there were cloisters or porticoes, and under theshelter of these were placed thirteen chests with trumpet-shaped mouthsinto which offerings might be dropped. The money cast in was for thebenefit of the Temple. An inscription on each chest showed to which oneof the thirteen special items of cost or expenditure the contents wouldbe devoted; as, for the purchase of wood, or gold, or frankincense,etc.
- And beheld how the multitude cast money into the treasury. We should remember this calm inspection of our Lord when we are about to make anoffering to his work. He is by no means indifferent as to our actions.
12:42 And there came a poor widow, and she cast in two mites, which make a farthing1.
- And there came a poor widow, and she cast in two mites, which make a farthing. The "lepton" or mite was worth one-fifth of a cent. It was aGreek coin, and the "kodrantes" or farthing was a Roman coin. It issuggested that she might have retained one of the coins, since she hadtwo.
12:43 And he called unto him his disciples1, and said unto them, Verily I say unto you, This poor widow cast in more than all they that are casting into the treasury2:
- And he called unto him his disciples. He had found an object lesson which he wished them to see.
- This poor widow cast in more than all they that are casting into the treasury. We are disposed to measure the value of actionsquantitatively rather than qualitatively. Moreover, we are betterjudges of actions than of motives, and can see the outward conduct muchclearer than the inward character. God, therefore, in his word,constantly teaches us that he looks rather upon the inward than theoutward.
12:44 for they all did cast in of their superfluity; but she of her want did cast in all that she had, [even] all her living1.
- But she of her want did cast in all that she had, [even] all her living. In this case, the value of the woman's gift was measured,not by quantity, but its quality: in quantity it was two mites; inquality it was the gift of all she had. From considering the corruptcharacter of the Pharisees, Jesus must have turned with pleasure tolook upon the beautiful heart of this devout widow.