The question concerning the authority of Christ, and the baptism of John, Luke 20:1-8. The parable of the vine-yard let out to wicked husbandmen, Luke 20:9-18. The chief priests and scribes are offended, and lay snares for him, Luke 20:19, Luke 20:20. The question about tribute, Luke 20:21-26. The question about the resurrection of the dead, and our Lord's answer, Luke 20:27-40. How Christ is the son of David, Luke 20:41-44. He warns his disciples against the hypocrisy of the scribes, whose condemnation he points out, Luke 20:45-47.
And it came to pass, that on one of those days, as he taught the people in the temple, and preached the gospel, the chief priests and the scribes came upon him with the elders,One of those days - Supposed to have been one of the four last days of his life, mentioned Luke 19:47, probably Tuesday before the passover.
And spake unto him, saying, Tell us, by what authority doest thou these things? or who is he that gave thee this authority?By what authority, etc. - See the note on Matthew 21:23-27 (note).
And he answered and said unto them, I will also ask you one thing; and answer me:
The baptism of John, was it from heaven, or of men?
And they reasoned with themselves, saying, If we shall say, From heaven; he will say, Why then believed ye him not?
But and if we say, Of men; all the people will stone us: for they be persuaded that John was a prophet.
And they answered, that they could not tell whence it was.
And Jesus said unto them, Neither tell I you by what authority I do these things.
Then began he to speak to the people this parable; A certain man planted a vineyard, and let it forth to husbandmen, and went into a far country for a long time.A certain man planted a vineyard, etc. - See this parable largely explained, Matthew 21:33-46 (note). See also on Mark 12:4-9 (note).
And at the season he sent a servant to the husbandmen, that they should give him of the fruit of the vineyard: but the husbandmen beat him, and sent him away empty.That they should give him of the fruit - The Hindoo corn-merchants, that have lent money to husbandmen, send persons in harvest-time to collect their share of the produce of the ground.
And again he sent another servant: and they beat him also, and entreated him shamefully, and sent him away empty.
And again he sent a third: and they wounded him also, and cast him out.
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.
But when the husbandmen saw him, they reasoned among themselves, saying, This is the heir: come, let us kill him, that the inheritance may be ours.
So they cast him out of the vineyard, and killed him. What therefore shall the lord of the vineyard do unto them?
He shall come and destroy these husbandmen, and shall give the vineyard to others. And when they heard it, they said, God forbid.God forbid - Or, Let it not be, μη γενοιτο. Our phrase, God forbid, answers pretty well to the meaning of the Greek, but it is no translation.
And he beheld them, and said, What is this then that is written, The stone which the builders rejected, the same is become the head of the corner?
Whosoever shall fall upon that stone shall be broken; but on whomsoever it shall fall, it will grind him to powder.Grind him to powder - See on Matthew 21:44 (note).
And the chief priests and the scribes the same hour sought to lay hands on him; and they feared the people: for they perceived that he had spoken this parable against them.
And they watched him, and sent forth spies, which should feign themselves just men, that they might take hold of his words, that so they might deliver him unto the power and authority of the governor.They watched him - Παρατηρησαντες, Insidiously watching. See on Luke 14:1 (note).
Spies - Εγκαθετους, from εν, in, and καθιημι, I let down, to set in ambush. One who crouches in some secret place to spy, listen, catch, or hurt. Hesychius explains the word by ενεδρευοντες, those who lie in wait, or in ambush, to surprise and slay. Josephus uses the word to signify a person bribed for a particular purpose. See War, b. ii. c. ii. s. 5, and b. vi. c. v. s. 2. No doubt the persons mentioned in the text were men of the basest principles, and were hired by the malicious Pharisees to do what they attempted in vain to perform.
And they asked him, saying, Master, we know that thou sayest and teachest rightly, neither acceptest thou the person of any, but teachest the way of God truly:
Is it lawful for us to give tribute unto Caesar, or no?Is it lawful for us to give tribute unto Caesar - See this insidious but important question considered at large on Matthew 22:16-22 (note).
But he perceived their craftiness, and said unto them, Why tempt ye me?
Shew me a penny. Whose image and superscription hath it? They answered and said, Caesar's.
And he said unto them, Render therefore unto Caesar the things which be Caesar's, and unto God the things which be God's.
And they could not take hold of his words before the people: and they marvelled at his answer, and held their peace.
Then came to him certain of the Sadducees, which deny that there is any resurrection; and they asked him,
Saying, Master, Moses wrote unto us, If any man's brother die, having a wife, and he die without children, that his brother should take his wife, and raise up seed unto his brother.
There were therefore seven brethren: and the first took a wife, and died without children.There were therefore seven brethren - See on Matthew 22:23-33 (note).
And the second took her to wife, and he died childless.
And the third took her; and in like manner the seven also: and they left no children, and died.
Last of all the woman died also.
Therefore in the resurrection whose wife of them is she? for seven had her to wife.
And Jesus answering said unto them, The children of this world marry, and are given in marriage:The children of this world - Men and women in their present state of mortality and probation; procreation being necessary to restore the waste made by death, and to keep up the population of the earth.
But they which shall be accounted worthy to obtain that world, and the resurrection from the dead, neither marry, nor are given in marriage:
Neither can they die any more: for they are equal unto the angels; and are the children of God, being the children of the resurrection.Equal unto the angels - Who neither marry nor die. See the Jewish testimonies to the resurrection of the human body quoted at length on 1 Corinthians 15:42 (note).
Now that the dead are raised, even Moses shewed at the bush, when he calleth the Lord the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.
For he is not a God of the dead, but of the living: for all live unto him.All live unto him - There is a remarkable passage in Josephus's account of the Maccabees, chap. xvi., which proves that the best informed Jews believed that the souls of righteous men were in the presence of God in a state of happiness. "They who lose their lives for the sake of God, Live unto God, as do Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and the rest of the patriarchs." And one not less remarkable in Shemoth Rabba, fol. 159. "Rabbi Abbin saith, The Lord said unto Moses, Find me out ten righteous persons among the people, and I will not destroy thy people. Then said Moses, Behold, here am I, Aaron, Eleazar, Ithamar, Phineas, Caleb, and Joshua; but God said, Here are but seven, where are the other three? When Moses knew not what to do, he said, O Eternal God, do those live that are dead! Yes, saith God. Then said Moses, If those that are dead do live, remember Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob." So the resurrection of the dead, and the immortality and immateriality of the soul, were not strange or unknown doctrines among the Jews.
Then certain of the scribes answering said, Master, thou hast well said.
And after that they durst not ask him any question at all.They durst not ask - Or, did not venture to ask any other question, for fear of being again confounded, as they had already been.
And he said unto them, How say they that Christ is David's son?How say they - See the note on Matthew 22:42-46 (note).
And David himself saith in the book of Psalms, The LORD said unto my Lord, Sit thou on my right hand,
Till I make thine enemies thy footstool.Thy footstool - Literally, the footstool of thy feet. They shall not only be so far humbled that the feet may be set on them; but they shall be actually subjected, and put completely under that Christ whom they now despise, and are about to crucify.
David therefore calleth him Lord, how is he then his son?
Then in the audience of all the people he said unto his disciples,
Beware of the scribes, which desire to walk in long robes, and love greetings in the markets, and the highest seats in the synagogues, and the chief rooms at feasts;Beware of the scribes - Take heed that ye be not seduced by those who should show you the way of salvation. See on Matthew 23:4-14 (note).
1. How it can be supposed that the ancient Jewish Church had no distinct notion of the resurrection of the dead is to me truly surprising. The justice of God, so peculiarly conspicuous under the old covenant, might have led the people to infer that there must be a resurrection of the dead, if even the passage to which our Lord refers had not made a part of their law. As the body makes a part of the man, justice requires that not only they who are martyrs for the testimony of God, but also all those who have devoted their lives to his service, and died in his yoke, should have their bodies raised again. The justice of God is as much concerned in the resurrection of the dead, as either his power or mercy. To be freed from earthly incumbrances, earthly passions, bodily infirmities, sickness; and death, to be brought into a state of conscious existence, with a refined body and a sublime soul, both immortal, and both ineffably happy - how glorious the privilege! But of this, who shall be counted worthy in that day? Only those who have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb, and who, by patient continuing in well doing, have sought for glory and honor and immortality.
2. A bad example, supported by the authority, reputation, and majesty of religion, is a very subtle poison, from which it is very difficult for men to preserve themselves. It is a great misfortune for any people to be obliged to beware of those very persons who ought to be their rule and pattern. This is a reflection of pious Father Quesnel; and, while we admire its depth, we may justly lament that the evil he refers to should be so prevalent as to render the observation, and the caution on which it is founded, so necessary. But let no man imagine that bad and immoral ministers are to be found among one class of persons only. They are to be found in the branches as well as in the root: in the different sects and parties as well as in the mother or national Churches, from which the others have separated. On either hand there is little room for glorying. - Professors and ministers may change, but the truth of the Lord abideth for ever!
Which devour widows' houses, and for a shew make long prayers: the same shall receive greater damnation.