Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
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,
Lu 20:1-19. The Authority of Jesus Questioned, and His Reply—Parable of the Wicked Husbandmen.
(See on Mt 21:23.)
And spake unto him, saying, Tell us, by what authority doest thou these things? or who is he that gave thee this authority?
2. these things—particularly the clearing of the temple.
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?
4. baptism of John—his whole ministry and mission, of which baptism was the seal.
And they reasoned with themselves, saying, If we shall say, From heaven; he will say, Why then believed ye him not?
5. Why then believed ye him not?—that is, in his testimony to Jesus, the sum of his whole witness.
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.
7. could not tell—crooked, cringing hypocrites! No wonder Jesus gave you no answer (Mt 7:6). But what dignity and composure does our Lord display as He turns their question upon themselves!
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.
9-13. vineyard—(See on Lu 13:6). In Mt 21:33 additional points are given, taken literally from Isa 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. (See on Mr 4:26.)
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.
10. beat, &c.—(Mt 21:35); that is, the prophets, extraordinary messengers raised up from time to time. (See on Mt 23:37.)
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.
13. my beloved son—Mark (Mr 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 Heb 3:3-6.)
it may be—"surely"; implying the almost unimaginable guilt of not doing so.
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.
14. reasoned among themselves—(Compare Ge 37:18-20; Joh 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 (Heb 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."
So they cast him out of the vineyard, and killed him. What therefore shall the lord of the vineyard do unto them?
15. cast him out of the vineyard—(Compare Heb 13:11-13; 1Ki 21:13; Joh 19:17).
He shall come and destroy these husbandmen, and shall give the vineyard to others. And when they heard it, they said, God forbid.
16. He shall come, &c.—This answer was given by the Pharisees themselves (Mt 21:41), thus pronouncing their own righteous doom. Matthew alone (Mt 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.
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?
17-19. written—(in Ps 118:22, 23. See on Lu 19:38). 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), "sustaining great spiritual hurt; but soon that Stone should fall upon them and grind them to powder" (Da 2:34, 35; Zec 12:3)—in their corporate capacity in the tremendous destruction of Jerusalem, but personally, as unbelievers, in a more awful sense still.
Whosoever shall fall upon that stone shall be broken; but on whomsoever it shall fall, it will grind him to powder.
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.
19. the same hour—hardly able to restrain their rage.
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.
Lu 20:20-40. Entangling Questions about Tribute and the Resurrection—The Replies.
20-26. sent forth—after consulting (Mt 22:15) on the best plan.
spies—"of the Pharisees and Herodians" (Mr 12:13). See Mr 3:6.
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:
21. we know, &c.—hoping by flattery to throw Him off His guard.
Is it lawful for us to give tribute unto Caesar, or no?
22. tribute—(See on Mt 17:24).
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.
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!
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,
27-34. no resurrection—"nor angel nor spirit" (Ac 23:8); the materialists of the day.
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.
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:
34. said unto them—In Mt 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 Mr 12:24).
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.
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 (Ro 8:21, 23). And thus the children of their Father's immortality (1Ti 6:16).
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.
37, 38. even Moses—whom they had just quoted to entangle Him.
For he is not a God of the dead, but of the living: for all live unto 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" (Heb 11:16). How precious are these glimpses of the resurrection state!
Then certain of the scribes answering said, Master, thou hast well said.
39. scribes … well said—enjoying His victory over the Sadducees.
they durst not—neither party, both for the time utterly foiled.
And after that they durst not ask him any question at all.
And he said unto them, How say they that Christ is David's son?
Lu 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, Mr 12:36] call Him Lord?" (Mt 22:42, 43). The difficulty can only be solved by the higher and lower—the divine and human natures of our Lord (Mt 1:23). Mark the testimony here given to the inspiration of the Old Testament (compare Lu 24:44).
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.
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;
46, 47. Beware, &c.—(See on Mt 23:5; and Lu 14:7).
Which devour widows' houses, and for a shew make long prayers: the same shall receive greater damnation.
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!"