SUMMARY.--The Lord Leaves Bethany to Enter Jerusalem. The Charge to the Two Disciples. The Fulfillment of Prophecy. The Great Multitude Who Prepare the Way. Hosanna to the Son of David. Jesus Enters the Temple. The Money-Changers Cast Out. The Barren Fig Tree. The Controversy with the Rulers. John's Baptism. The Parable of the Two Sons. The Parable of the Vineyard and the Husbandmen. The Stone That the Builders Rejected.
23. When he was come into the temple. Compare Mark 11:27 and Luke 20:1 . This was on Tuesday, after the discourse on the fig tree, which occurred the morning after the curse was pronounced. The chief priests and the elders. Mark and Luke Mk 11:27 Luke 20:1 add "the scribes." These three classes made up the Sanhedrim, and this was probably a deputation from that body. By what authority doest thou these things? Such acts as driving the money-changers and traders out of the temple, done the day before.
24. I also will ask you one question. A malicious question is often best answered by a question which will expose the questioners.
25, 26. The baptism of John. Though the people generally had obeyed John, they had rejected his baptism. Yet they dared not say it was of men, for fear of the people; nor that it was of heaven, because they had disobeyed it. They therefore say,
27. We cannot tell. Hence the Lord refuses to answer their question, but immediately addresses them in a parable. As his death approaches, his parables are unusually solemn.
28-31. A man had two sons. The two sons represent ( verse 31 ) the priests, elders and scribes on the one hand, and the publicans and harlots, "the sinners," on the other. Both classes were bidden to work in the Lord's vineyard. The publicans and sinners had refused, but repented at the preaching of John. The others professed to obey, but did not. The design of the parable is to show that the publicans and harlots, whom they so much despised, were morally superior to his questioners.
32. Repented not afterward. The Greek word here translated "repent," is not the one which is used in all commands as, "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand," "Repent and be baptized," "Repent and be converted," etc. This term means, rather, regret or sorrow; the word in the other passages means "change your minds" or "hearts." The regret, or sorrow, for sin leads to repentance ( 2 Cor. 7:10 ). The scribes and Pharisees did not regret their course, when they saw sinners repenting, so that they could come into a penitent belief.
33. Hear another parable. Compare Mark 12:1-12 Luke 20:9-19 . The second parable is also a rebuke of the ruling classes that were seeking his death. There was a certain householder. The head of a family is here selected to represent God. In what follows is portrayed the blessings he had bestowed and the care he had taken of Israel. Which planted a vineyard. Our Lord draws, as was his wont, his illustration from common life and familiar objects. Palestine was emphatically a vine-growing country. And hedged it round about. God in his care not only planted Israel, but hedged the nation around by the law which separated it from the Gentiles. Digged a wine-press in it. The wine-press consisted of two parts: (1) the press, or trough, above, in which the grapes were placed and there trodden by the feet; (2) a smaller trough, into which the expressed juice flowed through a hole. Here the smaller trough, which was "digged" out of the earth or rock and then lined with masonry, is put for the whole apparatus, and is called a wine FAT. Built a tower. Towers were erected in vineyards for the accommodation of keepers, who defended the vineyards from thieves and from troublesome animals. The hedge and wine-press and tower represent the various advantages conferred by God upon the Jewish people ( Rom. 9:4 ). Let it out to husbandmen. Representing the rulers of the Jews, and also the people as a whole, a nation, are included. Went into a far country. Better, "into another country," as in the Revised. "For a long while" (or time), adds Luke . It means that God left Israel to itself to see what use it would make of the favors he had bestowed.
34. When the time of the fruit drew near. Probably no definite time, but whenever any special duty was to be done, or special call to repentance made, as by the prophets. He sent his servants. The prophets. That they might receive the fruits of it. The householder's share. The rent was to be paid in a stipulated portion of the produce. The fruits were obedience, love, righteous living, teaching the true God to the nations, etc.
35. And the husbandmen took his servants. According to the obvious design of the whole parable, this is a lively figure for the undutiful and violent reception often given to the prophets or other divine messengers, and the refusal to obey their message. See Matthew 23:29-31 Matthew 23:34 Matthew 23:37 Luke 11:47-50 Luke 13:33 Luke 11:34 . Compare 1 Thess. 2:15 Revelation 16:6 Revelation 18:24 . Killed another. Some of the prophets were not merely maltreated, but actually put to death.
37. Last of all he sent unto them his son. This was the last and crowning effort of divine mercy; after which, on the one side, all the resources, even of heavenly love, are exhausted; on the other, the measure of sins is perfectly filled up.
38. This is the heir. He for whom the inheritance is meant, and to whom it will in due course rightfully arrive. Christ is "heir of all things" ( Heb. 1:2 ). Come, let us kill him. The very words of Genesis ( 37:20 ), where Joseph's brethren express a similar resolution. This resolution had actually been taken ( John 11:53 ). Let us seize on his inheritance. If Christ prevailed, Judaism must fall; if they could destroy Christ they could maintain their hold on the vineyard; or, in other words, seize the inheritance. Such was their hope.
39. Cast him out of the vineyard. This may involve an allusion to Christ suffering "without the gate" ( Hebrews 13:12 Hebrews 13:13 John 19:17 ). Slew him. This is a prophecy of his own death at the hands of the men whom he was addressing.
40. When the lord . . . cometh, what will he do? This question is addressed to the Jews, who seem to have been so carried away by the vivid description that they answered without seeing that they pronounced their own sentence (see verse 41 ).
41. They say unto him . . . and will let out his vineyard to other husbandmen. Their answer is not only their own decree of judgment upon themselves, but an unconscious prediction. The nation was nearly destroyed in the Roman war; 1,100,000 perished in the siege of Jerusalem; the Jewish polity was destroyed, and "another people," the Church of Christ, mostly Gentile aliens before, received the inheritance and the kingdom.
42. The stone which the builders rejected. "The Scripture" that speaks of this stone is Psalms 118:22 Psalms 118:23 --a psalm which the Jews applied to the Messiah. Peter twice applied it to him ( Acts 4:11 Acts 4:1 1 Peter 2:7 ). The figure represents a stone rejected by the builders as worthless, and then found to be the chief corner-stone of the building. The stone is Christ, rejected by the Jewish nation, but "the chief corner-stone," for this is what is meant by the "head of the corner." The "corner-stone" joined two walls. Alford thinks this is a reference to the union of Jews and Gentiles in the church. Marvellous. That the rejected stone should become the "chief corner-stone, elect and precious," on which the whole structure of the spiritual temple rests.
43. Given to a nation bringing forth the fruits. The kingdom was taken from the Jews and given to the "chosen nation" ( 1 Peter 2:9 ); not any particular nation, but those chosen out of the nations to be a "peculiar people."
44. Whoever shall fall on this stone shall be broken. Two fates are named for opposers in this verse; those who fall on the stone shall be broken; those on whom the stone shall fall shall be ground to powder. While the principle is general, the special application is to the Jewish opposers. Their falling upon the Stone (Christ) was the ruin of their nation. When the Stone fell upon them, in the judgment he had predicted because they rejected him, they were ground to powder in the awful desolation that occurred about thirty-seven years later.
45. When the chief priests and Pharisees had heard, etc. When the application of the parable was made, they perceived that they were meant and that they had condemned themselves.
46. When they sought to lay hands on him. Jerusalem was filled with people, and the demonstration, two days before, on Sunday, showed that thousands of Galileans, at least, regarded him a prophet. Hence, they find some darker and safer way than an open assault in the day. None can oppose Christ without injury. Even the silent opposition of indifference will cause us to be "broken" unless repented of. To continue our opposition until the day of grace is over will result in irretrievable ruin. Those who are "ground to powder" are beyond hope.