Christ's Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem on the
First Day of the Week. ( = Mr 11:1-11; Lu
19:29-40; Joh 12:12-19).
For the exposition of this majestic
scene—recorded, as will be seen, by all the Evangelists—see
on Lu 19:29-40.
Mt 21:10-22. Stir about Him
in the City—Second Cleansing of
the Temple, and Miracles There—Glorious Vindication of the Children's
Testimony—The Barren Fig Tree
Cursed, with Lessons from It. ( = Mr 11:11-26; Lu
For the exposition, see on Lu
19:45-48; and Mr 11:12-26.
Mt 21:23-46. The Authority
of Jesus Questioned and the Reply—The Parables of the Two Sons, and of the Wicked
Husbandman. ( = Mr 11:27-12:12; Lu 20:1-19).
Now commences, as Alford remarks, that series of parables and
discourses of our Lord with His enemies, in which He develops, more
completely than ever before, His hostility to their hypocrisy and
iniquity: and so they are stirred up to compass His death.
The Authority of Jesus Questioned, and the
Reply (Mt 21:23-27).
23. By what authority doest thou these
things!—referring particularly to the expulsion of the buyers
and sellers from the temple,
and who gave thee this authority?
24. And Jesus answered and said unto them, I also
will ask you one thing, &c.
25. The baptism of John—meaning his
whole mission and ministry, of which baptism was the proper
whence was it? from heaven, or of
men?—What wisdom there was in this way of meeting their
question will best appear by their reply.
If we shall say, From heaven; he will say unto
us, Why did ye not then believe him?—"Why did ye not believe
the testimony which he bore to Me, as the promised and expected
Messiah?" for that was the burden of John's whole testimony.
26. But if we shall say, Of men; we fear the
people—rather, "the multitude." In Luke (Lu 20:6) it is, "all the people will stone
us"—"stone us to death."
for all hold John as a
prophet—Crooked, cringing hypocrites! No wonder Jesus gave
you no answer.
27. And they answered Jesus, and said, We cannot
tell—Evidently their difficulty was, how to answer, so as
neither to shake their determination to reject the claims of Christ nor
damage their reputation with the people. For the truth itself they
cared nothing whatever.
Neither tell I you by what authority I do these
things—What composure and dignity of wisdom does our Lord
here display, as He turns their question upon themselves, and, while
revealing His knowledge of their hypocrisy, closes their mouths! Taking
advantage of the surprise, silence, and awe produced by this reply, our
Lord followed it up immediately by the two following parables.
Parable of the Two Sons (Mt 21:28-32).
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—for true religion is a practical thing, a "bringing
forth fruit unto God."
29. He answered and said, I will
not—Trench notices the
rudeness of this answer, and the total absence of any attempt to excuse
such disobedience, both characteristic; representing careless, reckless
sinners resisting God to His face.
30. And he came to the second, and said likewise.
And he answered and said, I go, sir—"I, sir." The
emphatic "I," here, denotes the self-righteous complacency which says,
"God, I thank thee that I am not as other men" (Lu 18:11).
and went not—He did not
"afterward repent" and refuse to go; for there was here no
intention to go. It is the class that "say and do not" (Mt 23:3)—a falseness more abominable
to God, says Stier, than any "I will
31. Whether of them twain did the will of his
Father? They say unto him, The first—Now comes the
Jesus saith unto them, Verily I say unto you,
That the publicans and the harlots go—or, "are going"; even
now entering, while ye hold back.
into the kingdom of God before you—The
publicans and the harlots were the first son, who, when told to work in
the Lord's vineyard, said, I will not; but afterwards repented and
went. Their early life was a flat and flagrant refusal to do what they
were commanded; it was one continued rebellion against the authority of
God. The chief priests and the elders of the people, with whom our Lord
was now speaking, were the second son, who said, I go, sir, but went
not. They were early called, and all their life long professed
obedience to God, but never rendered it; their life was one of
32. For John came unto you in the way of
righteousness—that is, calling you to repentance; as Noah is
styled "a preacher of righteousness" (2Pe 2:5), when like the Baptist he warned the
old world to "flee from the wrath to come."
and ye believed him not—They did not
reject him; nay, they "were willing for a season to rejoice in his
5:35); but they would not
receive his testimony to Jesus.
but the publicans and the harlots believed
him—Of the publicans this is twice expressly recorded, Lu 3:12;
7:29. Of the harlots, then,
the same may be taken for granted, though the fact is not expressly
recorded. These outcasts gladly believed the testimony of John to the
coming Saviour, and so hastened to Jesus when He came. See Lu 7:37; 15:1, &c.
and ye, when ye had seen it, repented not
afterward, that ye might believe him—Instead of being
"provoked to jealousy" by their example, ye have seen them flocking to
the Saviour and getting to heaven, unmoved.
Parable of the Wicked Husbandmen (Mt 21:33-46).
33. Hear another parable: There was a certain
householder, which planted a vineyard—(See on Lu 13:6).
and hedged it round about, and digged a
winepress in it, and built a tower—These details are taken,
as is the basis of the parable itself, from that beautiful parable of
5:1-7, in order to fix down
the application and sustain it by Old Testament authority.
and let it out to husbandmen—These are
just the ordinary spiritual guides of the people, under whose care and
culture the fruits of righteousness are expected to spring up.
and went into a far country—"for a
long time" (Lu 20:9),
leaving the vineyard to the laws of the spiritual husbandry during the
whole time of the Jewish economy. On this phraseology, see on Mr 4:26.
34. And when the time of the fruit drew near, he
sent his servants to the husbandmen—By these "servants" are
meant the prophets and other extraordinary messengers, raised up from
time to time. See on Mt 23:37.
that they might receive the fruits of
it—Again see on Lu 13:6.
35. And the husbandmen took his servants, and beat
one—see Jer 37:15; 38:6.
and killed another—see Jer 26:20-23.
and stoned another—see 2Ch 24:21. Compare with this whole verse Mt
23:37, where our Lord
reiterates these charges in the most melting strain.
36. Again, he sent other servants more than the
first; and they did unto them likewise—see 2Ki 17:13; 2Ch 36:16, 18; Ne 9:26.
37. But last of all he sent unto them his son,
saying, They will reverence my son—In Mark (Mr 12:6) this is most touchingly expressed:
"Having yet therefore one son, His well-beloved, He sent Him also last
unto them, saying, They will reverence My Son." Luke's version of it
20:13) is striking: "Then
said the lord of the vineyard, What shall I do? I will send My beloved
Son: it may be they will reverence Him when they see Him." Who does not
see that our Lord here severs Himself, by the sharpest line of
demarcation, from all merely human messengers, and claims for
Himself Sonship in its loftiest sense? (Compare Heb 3:3-6). The expression, "It may be they
will reverence My Son," is designed to teach the almost unimaginable
guilt of not reverentially welcoming God's Son.
38. But when the husbandmen saw the son, they said
among themselves—Compare Ge 37:18-20; Joh
This is the heir—Sublime expression
this of the great truth, that God's inheritance was destined for, and
in due time is to come into the possession of, His own Son in our
nature (Heb 1:2).
come, let us kill him, and let us seize on his
inheritance—that so, from mere servants, we may become
lords. This is the deep aim of the depraved heart; this is
emphatically "the root of all evil."
39. And they caught him, and cast him out of the
vineyard—compare Heb 13:11-13 ("without the gate—without the
camp"); 1Ki 21:13; Joh 19:17.
and slew him.
40. When the lord therefore of the vineyard
cometh—This represents "the settling time," which, in the
case of the Jewish ecclesiastics, was that judicial trial of the nation
and its leaders which issued in the destruction of their whole
what will he do unto those husbandmen?
41. They say unto him, He will miserably destroy
those wicked men—an emphatic alliteration not easily conveyed
in English: "He will badly destroy those bad men," or "miserably
destroy those miserable men," is something like it.
and will let out his vineyard unto other
husbandmen, which shall render him the fruits in their
seasons—If this answer was given by the Pharisees, to whom
our Lord addressed the parable, they thus unwittingly pronounced their
own condemnation: as did David to Nathan the prophet (2Sa 12:5-7), and Simon the Pharisee to our
7:43, &c.). But if it was
given, as the two other Evangelists agree in representing it, by our
Lord Himself, and the explicitness of the answer would seem to favor
that supposition, then we can better explain the exclamation of the
Pharisees which followed it, in Luke's report (Lu 20:16)—"And when they heard it, they
said, God forbid"—His whole meaning now bursting upon them.
42. Jesus saith unto them. Did ye never read in
the scriptures—(Ps 118:22, 23).
The stone which the builders rejected,
&c.—A bright Messianic prophecy, which reappears in various
28:16, &c.), and was made
glorious use of by Peter before the Sanhedrim (Ac 4:11). He recurs to it in his first epistle
43. Therefore say I unto you, The kingdom of
God—God's visible Kingdom, or Church, upon earth, which up to
this time stood in the seed of Abraham.
shall be taken from you, and given to a nation
bringing forth the fruits thereof—that is, the great
evangelical community of the faithful, which, after the extrusion of
the Jewish nation, would consist chiefly of Gentiles, until "all Israel
should be saved" (Ro 11:25, 26). This vastly important statement is
given by Matthew only.
44. And whosoever shall fall on this stone shall
be broken: but on whomsoever it shall fall, it will grind him to
powder—The Kingdom of God is here a Temple, in the 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" (Isa 8:15).
They were sustaining great spiritual hurt; but soon that Stone should
"fall upon them" and "grind them to powder" (Da 2:34, 35;
Zec 12:2)—in their
corporate capacity, in the tremendous destruction of Jerusalem,
but personally, as unbelievers, in a more awful sense still.
45. And when the chief priests and Pharisees had
heard his parables—referring to that of the Two Sons and this
one of the Wicked Husbandmen.
they perceived that he spake of them.
46. But when they sought to lay hands on
him—which Luke (Lu 20:19)
says they did "the same hour," hardly able to restrain their rage.
they feared the multitude—rather, "the
because they took him for a
prophet—just as they feared to say John's baptism was of men,
because the masses took him for a prophet (Mt 21:26). Miserable creatures! So, for this
time, "they left Him and went their way" (Mr 12:12).