Matthew 13:17
For truly I say to you, That many prophets and righteous men have desired to see those things which you see, and have not seen them; and to hear those things which you hear, and have not heard them.
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(17) Many prophets and righteous men.—The prophets of Israel were emphatically “men of desires.” They saw afar off the glory of the kingdom of the latter days. Each stood, as it were, on a Pisgah height, and looked on the vision of a land which he was not to enter. The words “have not seen them” seem to stand in verbal contradiction with those of John 8:56, “Your father Abraham rejoiced to see My day,” but it is clear that the difference is simply verbal. There is a joy in looking on the distant prospect which does not exclude, yea, rather implies the desire to reach that which even from afar appears so glorious. The feeling thus described is identical with the “searching diligently” of 1Peter 1:10, and with the “desire for a better country” of Hebrews 11:16.

13:1-23 Jesus entered into a boat that he might be the less pressed, and be the better heard by the people. By this he teaches us in the outward circumstances of worship not to covet that which is stately, but to make the best of the conveniences God in his providence allots to us. Christ taught in parables. Thereby the things of God were made more plain and easy to those willing to be taught, and at the same time more difficult and obscure to those who were willingly ignorant. The parable of the sower is plain. The seed sown is the word of God. The sower is our Lord Jesus Christ, by himself, or by his ministers. Preaching to a multitude is sowing the corn; we know not where it will light. Some sort of ground, though we take ever so much pains with it, brings forth no fruit to purpose, while the good soil brings forth plentifully. So it is with the hearts of men, whose different characters are here described by four sorts of ground. Careless, trifling hearers, are an easy prey to Satan; who, as he is the great murderer of souls, so he is the great thief of sermons, and will be sure to rob us of the word, if we take not care to keep it. Hypocrites, like the stony ground, often get the start of true Christians in the shows of profession. Many are glad to hear a good sermon, who do not profit by it. They are told of free salvation, of the believer's privileges, and the happiness of heaven; and, without any change of heart, without any abiding conviction of their own depravity, their need of a Saviour, or the excellence of holiness, they soon profess an unwarranted assurance. But when some heavy trial threatens them, or some sinful advantage may be had, they give up or disguise their profession, or turn to some easier system. Worldly cares are fitly compared to thorns, for they came in with sin, and are a fruit of the curse; they are good in their place to stop a gap, but a man must be well armed that has much to do with them; they are entangling, vexing, scratching, and their end is to be burned, Heb 6:8. Worldly cares are great hinderances to our profiting by the word of God. The deceitfulness of riches does the mischief; they cannot be said to deceive us unless we put our trust in them, then they choke the good seed. What distinguished the good ground was fruitfulness. By this true Christians are distinguished from hypocrites. Christ does not say that this good ground has no stones in it, or no thorns; but none that could hinder its fruitfulness. All are not alike; we should aim at the highest, to bring forth most fruit. The sense of hearing cannot be better employed than in hearing God's word; and let us look to ourselves that we may know what sort of hearers we are.Many prophets and righteous men ... - They wished to see the times of the Messiah.

They looked to it as a time when the hopes of the world would be fulfilled, and when the righteous would be happy, John 8:56. "Abraham rejoiced to see my day, and he saw it and was glad." Compare also 1 Peter 1:10-12; Hebrews 11:13. So Isaiah and the prophets looked forward to the coming of the Messiah as the consummation of their wishes and the end of the prophecies, Revelation 19:10. The object always dearest to the hearts of all righteous people is to witness the coming and advancement of the kingdom of Christ. Compare Revelation 22:20.

17. For verily I say unto you, That many prophets and righteous men have desired—rather, "coveted."

to see those things which ye see, and have not seen them; and to hear those things which ye hear, and have not heard them—Not only were the disciples blessed above the blinded just spoken of, but favored above the most honored and the best that lived under the old economy, who had but glimpses of the things of the new kingdom, just sufficient to kindle in them desires not to be fulfilled to any in their day. In Lu 10:23, 24, where the same saying is repeated on the return of the Seventy—the words, instead of "many prophets and righteous men," are "many prophets and kings"; for several of the Old Testament saints were kings.

Second and Seventh Parables or First Pair:

The Wheat and the Tares, and The Good and Bad Fish (Mt 13:24-30, 36-43, 47-50).

The subject of both these parables—which teach the same truth, with a slight diversity of aspect—is:

The MIXED CHARACTER OF THE Kingdom in Its Present State, and the FINAL ABSOLUTE SEPARATION OF THE Two Classes.

The Tares and the Wheat (Mt 13:24-30, 36-43).

Ver. 16,17. Luke repeateth this passage, Luke 10:23, but not as annexed to this parable.

Blessed are your eyes; the eyes of your bodies and of your minds. With the eyes of your bodies you have seen the promised Messias, come in the flesh; and you have seen the works which I have done, confirming me to be the Messiah: and with the eyes of your minds you have understood and believed.

For many prophets and righteous men (Luke adds, kings)

have desired to see those things which ye see, &c. From the very first giving out of the promise of Christ to Adam, upon the fall, Genesis 3:15, there was in believers an expectation of the Messiah, who being so great a good, so infinite a blessing to mankind, they could not but have a desire (if God had so pleased) to have seen him. But we are told that Abraham saw Christ’s day and rejoiced. And Simeon’s and Anna’s expectation of him, mentioned Luke 2:34-38, lets us know that other pious souls had such desires. Our Saviour blesseth his disciples, that they had seen with the eyes of their bodies, what others had only seen afar off by the eyes of their minds, Hebrews 11:13. For verily I say unto you,.... This is added for the further confirmation of what is before said, concerning the happiness of the disciples, in seeing and hearing what they did:

that many prophets, and righteous men; Luke says, Luke 10:24 "kings"

have desired to see those things which ye see, and have not seen them, and to hear those things which ye hear, and have not heard them. To see Christ in the flesh, and have a clearer insight into the knowledge of the mysteries of grace, were things very desirable to men of the highest class in church and state, and of the best characters, such as Abraham, John 8:56. Jacob, Genesis 49:18. David, Psalm 14:7. Solomon, and the church in his time, Sol 8:1. Isaiah, and the saints with him, Isaiah 25:9 with many others. These indeed had a sight of Christ, but a very distant one; they saw him afar off in the promises and prophecies of him; and not very clearly, but through dark types and cloudy sacrifices; whereas the disciples saw him in person, heard him preach, took in the evidence of his miracles, and felt the power of his doctrines, and spiritually and savingly understood them. A way of speaking, somewhat like this, stands in the Talmud (p);

"Many have watched to expound in Mercavah (the beginning of Ezekiel's prophecy), , "and have not seen it all their days".''

(p) T. Bab. Megilla, fol. 24. 2.

For verily I say unto you, That many prophets and righteous men have desired to see those things which ye see, and have not seen them; and to hear those things which ye hear, and have not heard them.
18–23. The Parable of the Sower is explained

Mark 4:14-20; Luke 8:11-1519. On some the word of God makes no impression, as we say; some hearts are quite unsusceptible of good.Matthew 13:17. Προφῆται, prophets) See Gnomon on 1 Peter 1:10; 1 Peter 1:12.—ἐπεθύμησαν, have desired) And that desire was pious and precious in the sight of God: see Gnomon on John 8:56.—οὐκ εἶδον, have not seen) See Hebrews 11:13; Hebrews 11:39.Verse 17. - For verily (Matthew 5:18, note). Not in the parallel passage; it is much more common in Matthew than Luke. Our Lord contrasts his disciples' "blessedness" not only with the state of their contemporaries, but with that of their predecessors in faith. I say unto you, That many prophets and righteous men. Those who were specially favoured with insight into God's methods, and those who approached most closely to his standard of righteousness. Righteous men; "kings" in Luke. St. Luke's readers would probably not appreciate the force of the term, "righteous men." to the same degree that St. Matthew's would. Have desired (ἐπεθύμησαν). By reading ἐπεθύμησα, this saying has been attributed to Christ (see Bishop Westcott, 'Introd.,' App. C.; Resch, 'Agrapha,' p. 397). To see those things which ye see, and have not seen them; and to hear those things which ye hear, and have not heard them (cf. Hebrews 11:13; 1 Peter 1:10-12).
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