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The Marriage of the King's Son; Attempts to Entrap the Savior
Summary —The Marriage Feast. The Invited Guests. The Invitation Rejected. Their Fate. Those in the Highway and Hedges Called. The Man with No Wedding Garment. The Pharisees and Herodians. Paying Tribute to Cæsar. The Sadducees and the Resurrection. The God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. The Lawyer's Question. The Great Commandment. What Think Ye of Christ?
1. Jesus answered and spoke unto them again. Compare 13:15–24. Mark states (12:12) that after the parable of the wicked husbandmen, the rulers “left him and went their way;” hence this parable (peculiar to Matthew) was not spoken directly to the rulers.
2. The kingdom of heaven is like unto a certain king. Its relation to the Jews and Gentiles is likened unto a king who made a marriage for his son. Rendered “marriage feast” in the Revision. The scenery of this parable is drawn from the Oriental marriage feast, which assumed a much more important place in the ceremony of marriage than it does in our times. See the wedding feast at Cana, in John, chap. 2. The betrothal usually took place many months before, but the marriage rite was consummated by bringing the bride to the home of the bridegroom, and the occasion was celebrated by a feast, to which many were invited. In the parable the King is God, the Son our Lord, the bride is his church, those first invited are the Jews, those invited later are all mankind, the marriage feast is when the Lamb's Bride is taken home to the Father's house, the day named in Rev. 19:7–9, the day of judgment and reward.
3. Sent forth his servants to call them that were bidden to the wedding. It was the custom among the ancients for the guests to be twice invited; or rather first invited, that they might prepare themselves, and then summoned a short time before the banquet, that they might be there at the proper time. The first invitation to the Jews was given by the prophets, down to John the Baptist; the second afterwards by the apostles and other disciples in succession.
4. Again, he sent forth other servants. This is a second invitation to those who had previously been invited and “would not come.” The Jews were invited first of all, by the Savior and his apostles under the first commission before all things were ready, but they refused the invitation and rejected Christ. Then, after all was made ready by the death and resurrection of Christ and the establishment of the kingdom, they were again invited before the apostles turned to the Gentiles. For seven years from Pentecost, the gospel was preached to Jews alone. My oxen and my fatlings are killed. A description drawn from an ancient feast, where the substantial portion of the repast was flesh.
6. And the remnant took his servants and … slew them. The indifference of the previous class was proof of disloyalty, but the second class resort to open rebellion. This was fulfilled in the persecutions of the apostles and early church stirred by the Jews. See Acts 4:3; 5:18, 40; 7:58; 8:3; 12:3; 14:5, 19; 16:23; 17:5; 21:30; 23:2; also the Epistles here and there.
7. And when the king heard thereof he was wroth. He who insults or assails a king's heralds assails the king's majesty. Destroyed those murderers and burned their city. Strikingly fulfilled in the fate of the Jews. The Roman armies were chosen to inflict the retribution upon the Jewish nation.
8. The wedding is ready, but the bidden were not worthy. Those who reject the gospel invitation show that they are not worthy. Compare Paul, Acts 13:46.
9. Go ye therefore into the highways. All are now to be invited, not one race or class alone, but the command is, “As many as ye shall find, bid to the marriage.” This was fulfilled when the gospel was offered to the Gentiles as well as Jews.
10. So those servants … gathered all … both good and bad. The bad are invited, not to remain bad, but in order that they might become good. No one can truly come without a determination to quit sinning.
11. Saw there a man who had not a wedding garment. It is said to be a custom in the East, even at the present day, for the host to present his guests with robes of honor. Every saint is robed, not in his own righteousness, but in the white robes of Christ's righteousness. “As many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ” (Gal. 3:27). Abbott, on this passage says: “The garments we put on when we put on the Lord Jesus Christ by faith in baptism (Rom. 13:14; Gal. 3:26–27).… To be without the wedding garments, offered freely to him, implied that the man thought his usual attire good enough. He therefore represents one who, while professing to be for Christ, thought his own righteousness would save him without a trustful obedience to the Savior.”
12. How camest thou in hither not having a wedding garment? The fact that he had not was proof that he had no right to be there. All invited might be very different before, good and bad, but they must be clothed alike when the guests of the Lord.
14. For many are called, but few are chosen. “The many called” embrace all who hear the gospel; the whole Jewish nation, and the Gentiles of every land where the gospel is preached. The chosen are those who choose to accept.
16. Sent to him their disciples, with the Herodians. The “disciples” were Pharisees, but young, unknown, and less likely to be suspected. The Herodians were a Jewish political party that favored the Herodian and Roman rule. Master. They came with flatteries in order the better to deceive.
17. Is it lawful to pay tribute to Cæsar, or not? To the Roman emperor, who had subjected Judea. If he had said “no,” they expected to denounce him to the Roman governor as teaching sedition. If he had said “yes,” they expected it would destroy his influence, as the people hated the Romans and the tribute.
21. Render to Cæsar. The use of Cæsar's coin as the current money was an acknowledgment of Cæsar. Let them return his coin when demanded. Unto God the things that are God's. Obedience in moral and spiritual things. Faith, love, obedience and liberal giving for God's work. We are to obey the human government over us, and to obey God. When the first requires us to disobey God, we are to obey him, whatever may be the peril. Acts 5:29.
24. Moses said. Deut. 25:5.
30. Are as the angels of God. The physical relations of earthly marriage do not belong to spiritual beings. The saints when raised are like the angels. This does not deny personal intercourse or spiritual relationships, but the existence of fleshly ties.
31. As touching the resurrection of the dead. The Sadducees doubted some of the prophetic books, but accepted Moses; hence, the Lord appeals to Moses to show that he taught future existence, or the resurrection, which is the sense in which the latter phrase is used.
32. I am the God of Abraham. Exod. 3:6. God does not say, “I was,” but “I am the God of Abraham, and of Isaac, and of Jacob.” The present tense shows that he is still the God of the departed patriarchs, and that they are still in existence. Queen Victoria is not the queen of Bacon, Shakespeare and Ben Jonson, but only of her living subjects. The Savior teaches that the soul is resurrected when it leaves the body, and that there is no unconscious state between death and the final resurrection of the body.
34. The Pharisees … gathered. Compare Mark 12:28–34; Luke 10:25–28
35. A lawyer. An expounder of the law of Moses. A scribe (see Mark). Tempting him. Trying him.
36. Which is the great commandment? This was a question which, with some others, divided the Jewish teachers into rival schools, and was a constant bone of contention—one of “those strivings about the law,” against which Paul warns Titus (Titus 3:9). The Jews divided their commandments into greater and lesser, but were not agreed in particulars. Some pronounced the law of circumcision the greater; others, that of sacrifices, or ablutions, or phylacteries. The Talmud reckoned the positive laws of Moses at 248, the negative at 365, in all 613. To keep so many laws, said the Jews, is an angel's work. So they had much question which was the great commandment, so that they might keep it in lieu of keeping the whole.
37, 38. Thou shalt love the Lord thy God, etc. Freely quoted from Deut. 6:5. A demand for supreme love for God. This is the first and great. Great, because it embraces all others; first, in that it precedes the second that he is about to name. He who loves God supremely cannot live in disobedience to him.
39. The second is like. The first command sums up what man owes to God; the second, what he owes to his fellow-man. Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. Lev. 19:18. One who loves God supremely, will not live in disobedience; one who loves his neighbor as himself, will seek the welfare of those around him.
41. While the Pharisees were gathered. Compare Mark 12:35–37; Luke 20:21–44.
44. The Lord. Jehovah. Said to my Lord. The Christ. Found in Psalm 110:1. This psalm is quoted also in Acts 2:34, 35; 1 Cor. 15:25; Heb. 1:13; 5:6; 7:17, 21; 10:13.
46. No man was able, etc. Henceforth the Pharisees argued no more, but only sought his death.
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