And after that they dared not ask him any question at all.…
We saw on the last occasion how Christ had vanquished all who had tried with him the fortunes of debate. And now we find him putting a pertinent question to them about himself, and effectually puzzling them. Not, of course, that he had this in view in presenting it. His purpose was always a clear and pure one; it was, as Godet suggests, to vindicate beforehand those claims to Divine Sonship on the ground of which they are so shortly to condemn him to death.
I. CONSIDER CHRIST AS DAVID'S SON AND LORD (Vers. 41-45.) It is clear from the Gospels and from the Targums that the Messiah wanted by the Jews was not necessarily to be Divine. It was a temporal prince, a military Messiah, they longed for; and no Divinity was needful to play the role of "conquering hero" which they desired. A merely human Messiah would have suited them admirably. When they got one, therefore, who claimed to be Divine, they condemned him for blasphemy, and never stopped until they had made away with him by crucifixion. Our Lord's question in the temple was to arouse them to a sense of Messiah's proper claims. This suggests:
1. How prone we are to be satisfied with mere human saviours. The Jews wanted a Messiah to collect armies, to deliver them from Roman bondage, and to give them all good situations in the new kingdom. They wanted nothing that a clever leader could not do for them. And there are plenty of people whose only desired salvation is from hunger and thirst and discomfort of a physical kind. They have no real longing after deliverance from sin and covetousness and discontent. Their one thought is to find somebody who can help them on a bit.
2. David's royal line produced a Prince who was also David's Lord. Now, it is plain from the psalm (110.) which Jesus quotes that David realized in the Messiah his present Lord. He ruled over David, and was recognized by David as his Lord. When we add to this the fact that David was the greatest monarch of his time, we see that the only interpretation of this Lordship is the Divinity of Messiah. This Messiah is made by the Most High to sit at his right hand until his enemies are made his footstool. The whole picture involves and implies Christ's Divinity. Now, if these scribes and Pharisees had acted honestly, they would have said, "Here is a point which escaped us; this Lordship over David is a claim which the sonship does not cover; there must be more in the Messiahship than we suspect; we must reconsider our attitude towards Jesus, and do him justice." But instead of this, they deliberately ignored the difficulty, and went on with their persecution of the Divine Messiah. Now, this is surely to show us that we need a Divine Savior, for the salvation must be from the power and guilt of sin. We need a Savior who will be our Lord; to whom we not only owe allegiance, but give it cheerfully. It is a Divine Lord of the ages, the King of kings, the Lord of lords, the infinite Majesty, whom we need to give us the emancipation which can alone profit our souls.
II. CONSIDER CHRIST'S CONDEMNATION OF THE SCRIBES. (Vers. 45-47.) Seeing how they reject the scriptural evidence of his claims, Jesus proceeds to warn his disciples against them. He knows them thoroughly. And:
1. He charges them with skilfully manufacturing a religious reputation. They wore peculiar garments; the man-milliners of the day had been brought into requisition. They welcomed recognition from the people in the markets; they took, as their right, the highest seats in the synagogue and the chief rooms at social feasts. They manufactured such a reputation as secured them abundant honor.
2. They traded upon their reputation. Widows got their advice and intercession, and paid them well for giving it. In fact, our Lord charges them with devouring widows' houses in their greed. Instead of the widows inspiring pity, they seemed eligible because defenceless victims.
3. Their condemnation shall be proportionally great. Professions which are traded upon will ultimately procure a deeper condemnation. How needful that the genuineness of our profession should be tested! If it is for God's dear sake, and not for the sake of worldly advantage, it will stand the test at last.
III. CONSIDER CHRIST'S ECOMNIUM, UPON THE POOR WIDOW. (Ch. 21:1-4) Sitting over against the treasury our Lord saw both rich and poor depositing their gifts. Some of the rich gave largely out of their abundance, and Jesus noted doubtless the proportion. But one poor widow came along, and she deposited in the temple-chest a single farthing. It was little, but it was her all. Behind her sackcloth Jesus discerned the biggest heart in all the company. Now, we are taught by this circumstance:
1. That all our gifts are deposited in sight of Christ. As Divine Savior he sits, so to speak, over against every treasury, and notes what the people deposit there. There is no such thing as secret giving so far as Jesus is concerned. We may give so that the right hand knows not what the left is giving, but Jesus knows all the same.
2. It is the heart which determines the character of our liberality. It is not the quantity of money, but the quality of the act, which is important. A farthing from a widow is more in the sight of God than thousands from a millionaire. Hence we ought to examine ourselves, and see clearly what our motives may be.
3. Hence it is possible even for the poorest to be liberal. It is this which we require to have driven home. When poor as well as rich give with large-heartedness, the Church's "golden age" shall come, It is to this that our Lord would lead us. - R.M.E.
Parallel VersesKJV: And after that they durst not ask him any question at all.