The priests and scribes question Christ's authority. (1-8) The parable of the vineyard and husbandmen. (9-19) Of giving tribute. (20-26) Concerning the resurrection. (27-38) The scribes silenced. (39-47)
Verses 1-8 Men often pretend to examine the evidences of revelation, and the truth of the gospel, when only seeking excuses for their own unbelief and disobedience. Christ answered these priests and scribes with a plain question about the baptism of John, which the common people could answer. They all knew it was from heaven, nothing in it had an earthly tendency. Those that bury the knowledge they have, are justly denied further knowledge. It was just with Christ to refuse to give account of his authority, to those who knew the baptism of John to be from heaven, yet would not believe in him, nor own their knowledge.
Verses 9-19 Christ spake this parable against those who resolved not to own his authority, though the evidence of it was so full. How many resemble the Jews who murdered the prophets and crucified Christ, in their enmity to God, and aversion to his service, desiring to live according to their lusts, without control! Let all who are favoured with God's word, look to it that they make proper use of their advantages. Awful will be the doom, both of those who reject the Son, and of those who profess to reverence Him, yet render not the fruits in due season. Though they could not but own that for such a sin, such a punishment was just, yet they could not bear to hear of it. It is the folly of sinners, that they persevere in sinful ways, though they dread the destruction at the end of those ways.
Verses 20-26 Those who are most crafty in their designs against Christ and his gospel, cannot hide them. He did not give a direct answer, but reproved them for offering to impose upon him; and they could not fasten upon any thing wherewith to stir up either the governor or the people against him. The wisdom which is from above, will direct all who teach the way of God truly, to avoid the snares laid for them by wicked men; and will teach our duty to God, to our rulers, and to all men, so clearly, that opposers will have no evil to say of us.
Verses 27-38 It is common for those who design to undermine any truth of God, to load it with difficulties. But we wrong ourselves, and wrong the truth of Christ, when we form our notions of the world of spirits by this world of sense. There are more worlds than one; a present visible world, and a future unseen world; and let every one compare this world and that world, and give the preference in his thoughts and cares to that which deserves them. Believers shall obtain the resurrection from the dead, that is the blessed resurrection. What shall be the happy state of the inhabitants of that world, we cannot express or conceive, ( 1 Corinthians. 2:9 ) are entirely taken up therewith; when there is perfection of holiness there will be no occasion for preservatives from sin. And when God called himself the God of these patriarchs, he meant that he was a God all-sufficient to them, ( Genesis 17:1 ) , their exceeding great Reward, ( Genesis 15:1 ) . He never did that for them in this world, which answered the full extent of his undertaking; therefore there must be another life, in which he will do that for them, which will completely fulfil the promise.
Verses 39-47 The scribes commended the reply Christ made to the Sadducees about the resurrection, but they were silenced by a question concerning the Messiah. Christ, as God, was David's Lord; but Christ, as man, was David's son. The scribes would receive the severest judgement for defrauding the poor widows, and for their abuse of religion, particularly of prayer, which they used as a pretence for carrying on worldly and wicked plans. Dissembled piety is double sin. Then let us beg of God to keep us from pride, ambition, covetousness, and every evil thing; and to teach us to seek that honour which comes from him alone.
Luke 20:1-19 . THE AUTHORITY OF JESUS QUESTIONED, AND HIS REPLY--PARABLE OF THE WICKED HUSBANDMEN.
2. these things--particularly the clearing of the temple.
4. baptism of John--his whole ministry and mission, of which baptism was the seal.
5. Why then believed ye him not?--that is, in his testimony to Jesus, the sum of his whole witness.
7. could not tell--crooked, cringing hypocrites! No wonder Jesus gave you no answer ( Matthew 7:6 ). But what dignity and composure does our Lord display as He turns their question upon themselves!
points are given, taken literally from Isaiah 5:2
, to fix down the application and sustain it by Old Testament authority. husbandmen
--the ordinary spiritual guides of the people, under whose care and culture the fruits of righteousness might be yielded. went,
&c.--leaving it to the laws of the spiritual husbandry during the whole length of the Jewish economy.
10. beat, &c.--( Matthew 21:35 ); that is, the prophets, extraordinary messengers raised up from time to time.
13. my beloved son--Mark ( Mark 12:6 ) still more affectingly, "Having yet therefore one son, his well-beloved"; our Lord thus severing Himself from all merely human messengers, and claiming Sonship in its loftiest sense. (Compare Hebrews 3:3-6 .)
it may be--"surely"; implying the almost unimaginable guilt of not doing so.
14. reasoned among themselves--(Compare Genesis 37:18-20 John 11:47-53 ).
the heir--sublime expression of the great truth, that God's inheritance was destined for, and in due time to come into the possession of, His Son in our nature ( Hebrews 1:2 ).
inheritance . . . ours--and so from mere servants we may become lords; the deep aim of the depraved heart, and literally "the root of all evil."
15. cast him out of the vineyard--(Compare Hebrews 13:11-13 , 1 Kings 21:13 , John 19:17 ).
16. He shall come, &c.--This answer was given by the Pharisees themselves ( Matthew 21:41 ), thus pronouncing their own righteous doom. Matthew alone ( Matthew 21:43 ) gives the naked application, that "the kingdom of God should be taken from them, and given to a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof"--the great evangelical community of the faithful, chiefly Gentiles.
God forbid--His whole meaning now bursting upon them.
17-19. written--(in Psalms 118:22 Psalms 118:23 . erection of which a certain stone, rejected as unsuitable by the spiritual builders, is, by the great Lord of the House, made the keystone of the whole. On that Stone the builders were now "falling" and being "broken" ( Isaiah 8:15 ), "sustaining great spiritual hurt; but soon that Stone should fall upon them and grind them to powder" ( Daniel 2:34 Daniel 2:35 , Zechariah 12:3 )--in their corporate capacity in the tremendous destruction of Jerusalem, but personally, as unbelievers, in a more awful sense still.
19. the same hour--hardly able to restrain their rage.
Luke 20:20-40 . ENTANGLING QUESTIONS ABOUT TRIBUTE AND THE RESURRECTION--THE REPLIES.
20-26. sent forth--after consulting ( Matthew 22:15 ) on the best plan.
spies--"of the Pharisees and Herodians" ( Mark 12:13 ). See Mark 3:6 .
21. we know, &c.--hoping by flattery to throw Him off His guard.
25. things which be Cæsar's--Putting it in this general form, it was impossible for sedition itself to dispute it, and yet it dissolved the snare.
and unto God--How much there is in this profound but to them startling addition to the maxim, and how incomparable is the whole for fulness, brevity, clearness, weight!
27-34. no resurrection--"nor angel nor spirit" ( Acts 23:8 ); the materialists of the day.
34. said unto them--In Matthew 22:29 , the reply begins with this important statement:--"Ye do err, not knowing the Scriptures," regarding the future state, "nor the power of God," before which a thousand such difficulties vanish (also Mark 12:24 ).
36. neither . . . die any more--Marriage is ordained to perpetuate the human family; but as there will be no breaches by death in the future state, this ordinance will cease.
unto the angels--that is, in the immortality of their nature.
children of God--not in respect of character but nature; "being the children of the resurrection" to an undecaying existence ( Romans 8:21 Romans 8:23 ). And thus the children of their Father's immortality ( 1 Timothy 6:16 ).
37, 38. even Moses--whom they had just quoted to entangle Him.
38. not . . . of the dead, . . . for all, &c.--To God, no human being is dead, or ever will be; but all sustain an abiding conscious relation to Him. But the "all" here meant "those who shall be accounted worthy to obtain that world." These sustain a gracious covenant relation to God, which cannot be dissolved. In this sense our Lord affirms that for Moses to call the Lord the "God" of His patriarchal servants if at that moment they had no existence, would be unworthy of Him. He "would be ashamed to be called their God, if He had not prepared for them a city" ( Hebrews 11:16 ). How precious are these glimpses of the resurrection state!
39. scribes . . . well said--enjoying His victory over the Sadducees.
they durst not--neither party, both for the time utterly foiled.
Luke 20:41-47 . CHRIST BAFFLES THE PHARISEES BY A QUESTION ABOUT DAVID AND MESSIAH, AND DENOUNCES THE SCRIBES.
41. said, &c.--"What think ye of Christ [the promised and expected Messiah]? Whose son is He [to be]? They say unto Him, The son of David. He saith unto them, How then doth David in spirit [by the Holy Ghost, Mark 12:36 ] call Him Lord?" ( Matthew 22:42 Matthew 22:43 ). The difficulty can only be solved by the higher and lower--the divine and human natures of our Lord ( Matthew 1:23 ). Mark the testimony here given to the inspiration of the Old Testament (compare Luke 24:44 ).
46, 47. Beware,
47. devour, &c.--taking advantage of their helpless condition and confiding character, to obtain possession of their property, while by their "long prayers" they made them believe they were raised far above "filthy lucre." So much "the greater damnation" awaits them. What a lifelike description of the Romish clergy, the true successors of "the scribes!"