Matthew 21


Christ rides into Jerusalem upon an ass, and the multitude

receive him joyfully, 1-11.

He enters the temple, and expels the money-changers, &c. 12, 13.

The blind and the lame come to him and are healed, 14.

The chief priests and scribes are offended, 15.

Our Lord confounds them, and goes to Bethany, 16, 17.

The barren fig-tree blasted, 18-22.

While teaching in the temple, the chief priests and elders

question his authority; he answers and confutes them, 23-27.

The parable of the man and his two sons, 28-32.

The parable of a vineyard let out to husbandmen, 33-42;

applied to the priests and Pharisees, 43-45;

who wish to kill him, but are restrained by the fear of the

people, who acknowledge Christ for a prophet, 46.


Verse 1. Bethphage] A place on the west declivity of Mount

Olivet, from which it is thought the whole declivity and part of

the valley took their name. It is supposed to have derived its

name from the fig-trees which grew there; beeth, signifying a

region as well as a house, and phag, a green fig.

Verse 2. Ye shall find an ass tied, and a colt] Asses and

mules were in common use in Palestine: horses were seldom to be

met with. Our blessed Lord takes every opportunity to convince

his disciples that nothing was hidden from him: he informs them of

the most minute occurrence; and manifested his power over the

heart in disposing the owner to permit the ass to be taken away.

Verse 3. The Lord (the proprietor of all things) hath need of

them] Jesus is continually humbling himself, to show us how

odious pride is in the sight of God: but in his humility he is

ever giving proofs of his almighty power, that the belief of his

divinity may be established.

Verse 4. All this was done] The word all, in this clause, is

omitted by some MSS., versions, and fathers.

Which was spoken] The Spirit of God, which predicted those

things that concerned the Messiah, took care to have them

literally fulfilled: 1. To show the truth of prophecy in general;

and, 2. To designate Christ as the person intended by that

prophecy. See the note on Mt 2:23.

Verse 5. Tell ye the daughter of Sion] The quotation is taken

from Zec 9:9, but not in the precise words of the prophet.

This entry into Jerusalem has been termed the triumph of Christ.

It was indeed the triumph of humility over pride and worldly

grandeur; of poverty over affluence; and of meekness and

gentleness over rage and malice.

He is coming now meek, full of kindness and compassion to those

who were plotting his destruction! He comes to deliver up himself

into their hands; their king comes to be murdered by his subjects,

and to make his death a ransom price for their souls!

Verse 7. And put on them their clothes] Thus acknowledging him

to be their king, for this was a custom observed by the people

when they found that God had appointed a man to the kingdom. When

Jehu sat with the captains of the army, and Elisha the prophet

came, by the order of God, to anoint him king over Israel, as soon

as he came out of the inner chamber into which the prophet had

taken him to anoint him, and they knew what was done, every man

took his garment, and spread it under him on the top of the steps,

and blew the trumpets, saying, "Jehu is king." 2Ki 9:13.

And they set him thereon.] καιεπεκαθισενεπανωαυτων, and

he sat upon them; but instead of επανωαυτων, upon THEM, the

Codex Bezae, seven copies of the Itala, some copies of the

Vulgate, and some others, read επαυτον, upon him, i.e. the

colt. This is most likely to be the true reading; for we can

scarcely suppose that he rode upon both by turns,-this would appear

childish; or that he rode upon both at once, for this would be

absurd. Some say he sat on both; for "the ass that was tied up

was an emblem of the Jews bound under the yoke of the law; and the

colt that had not been tied represented the Gentiles who were

not under the law; and that Jesus Christ's sitting on both

represented his subjecting the Jews and the Gentiles to the sway

of his evangelical sceptre." He who can receive this saying, let

him receive it.

Verse 8. Cut down branches from the trees] Carrying palm and

other branches was emblematical of victory and success.

See 1 Mac. xiii. 51; 2 Mac. x. 7; and Re 7:9.

The rabbins acknowledge that the prophecy in Zechariah refers to

the Messiah; so Rab. Tancum, and Yalcut Rubeni has a strange story

about the ass. "This ass is the colt of that ass which was

created in the twilight of the sixth day. This is the ass which

Abraham found when he went to sacrifice his son. This is the ass

on which Moses rode when he went to Egypt; and this is the ass on

which the Messiah shall ride." Some of the Jews seem to think

that the zebra is intended; for according to Bab. Sanhedr. fol.

98, when Shapoor, king of Persia, said to Rabbi Samuel: "You say

your Messiah will come upon an ass; I will send him a noble

horse." To which the rabbi replied, "You have not a horse with a

hundred spots (query, streaks) like his ass." See Lightfoot and


Verse 9. Hosanna to the son of David] When persons applied to

the king for help, or for a redress of grievances, they used the

word hosanna, or rather from the Hebrew HOSHIAH NA!

Save now! or, Save, we beseech thee!-redress our grievances, and

give us help from oppression! Thus both the words and actions of

the people prove that they acknowledged Christ as their king, and

looked to him for deliverance. How easily might he have assumed

the sovereignty at this time, had he been so disposed! For

instances of the use of this form of speech, see 2Sa 14:4;

2Ki 6:26; Ps 118:25.

Son of David] A well-known epithet of the Messiah. He who

cometh in the name, &c. He who comes in the name and authority

of the Most High.

Hosanna in the highest] Either meaning, Let the heavenly hosts

join with us in magnifying this august Being!-or, Let the utmost

degrees of hosanna, of salvation, and deliverance, be

communicated to thy people! Probably there is an allusion here to

the custom of the Jews in the feast of tabernacles. During the

first seven days of that feast, they went once round the altar,

each day, with palm and other branches in their hands, singing

HOSANNA: but on the eighth day of that feast they walked seven

times round the altar, singing the hosanna; and this was termed

the hosanna rabba, the GREAT hosanna: i.e. Assist with the

greatest succour. Probably answering to the τοιςυψιστοις of the

evangelist, for on this day they beg the most speedy and powerful

help against their enemies, and likewise pray for a prosperous

and fruitful year. See STEHLIN'S Jewish Traditions, vol. ii.

p. 322.

Verse 10. All the city was moved] Or, the whole city was in

motion. εσεισθη, was in a tumult-they saw and heard plainly that

the multitude had proclaimed Christ king, and Messiah. Who is

this? Who is accounted worthy of this honour?

Verse 11. This is Jesus THE PROPHET] οπροφητης THAT prophet

whom Moses spoke of, De 18:18.

I will raise them up a prophet-like unto thee, &c. Every

expression of the multitude plainly intimated that they fully

received our blessed Lord as the promised Messiah.-How strange is

it that these same people (if the creatures of the high priest be

not only intended) should, about five days after, change their

hosannas for, Away with him! crucify him! crucify him! How fickle

is the multitude! Even when they get right, there is but little

hope that they will continue so long.

Verse 12. Jesus went into the temple of God, &c.] "Avarice,"

says one, "covered with the veil of religion, is one of those

things on which Christ looks with the greatest indignation in his

Church. Merchandize of holy things, simoniacal presentations,

fraudulent exchanges, a mercenary spirit in sacred functions;

ecclesiastical employments obtained by flattery, service, or

attendance, or by any thing which is instead of money; collations,

nominations, and elections made through any other motive than the

glory of God; these are all fatal and damnable profanations, of

which those in the temple were only a shadow." QUESNEL.

Money-changers] Persons who furnished the Jews and proselytes

who came from other countries, with the current coin of Judea, in

exchange for their own.

Verse 13. My house shall be called the house of prayer] This

is taken from Isa 56:7.

But ye have made it a den of thieves.] This is taken from

Jer 7:11.

Our Lord alludes here to those dens and caves in Judea, in which

the public robbers either hid or kept themselves fortified.

They who are placed in the Church of Christ to serve souls, and

do it not, and they who enjoy the revenues of the Church, and

neglect the service of it, are thieves and robbers in more senses

than one.

Our Lord is represented here as purifying his temple; and this

we may judge he did in reference to his true temple, the Church,

to show that nothing that was worldly or unholy should have any

place among his followers, or in that heart in which he should

condescend to dwell. It is marvellous that these interested, vile

men did not raise a mob against him: but it is probable they were

overawed by the Divine power, or, seeing the multitudes on the

side of Christ, they were afraid to molest him. I knew a case

something similar to this, which did not succeed so well. A very

pious clergyman of my acquaintance, observing a woman keeping a

public standing to sell nuts, gingerbread, &c., at the very porch

of his Church, on the Lord's day, "desired her to remove thence,

and not defile the house of God, while she profaned the Sabbath of

the Lord." She paid no attention to him. He warned her the next

Sabbath, but still to no purpose. Going in one Lord's day to

preach, and finding her still in the very entrance, with her

stall, he overthrew the stall, and scattered the stuff into the

street. He was shortly after summoned to appear before the royal

court, which, to its eternal reproach, condemned the action, and

fined the man of God in a considerable sum of money!

Verse 14. The blind and the lame came] Having condemned the

profane use of the temple, he now shows the proper use of it. It

is a house of prayer, where God is to manifest his goodness and

power in giving sight to the spiritually blind, and feet to the

lame. The Church or chapel in which the blind and the

lame are not healed has no Christ in it, and is not worthy of


Verse 15. The chief priests-were sore displeased] Or, were

incensed. Incensed at what! At the purification of the profaned

temple! This was a work they should have done themselves, but for

which they had neither grace nor influence; and their pride and

jealousy will not suffer them to permit others to do it. Strange

as it may appear, the priesthood itself, in all corrupt times, has

been ever the most forward to prevent a reform in the Church. Was

it because they were conscious that a reformer would find them no

better than money-changers in, and profaners of, the house of God,

and that they and their system must be overturned, if the true

worship of God were restored! Let him who is concerned answer

this to his conscience.

Verse 16. Out of the mouth of babes] The eighth Psalm, out of

which these words are quoted, is applied to Jesus Christ in three

other places in the new covenant, 1Co 15:27; Eph 1:22;

Heb 2:6. Which proves it to be merely a prophetic psalm,

relating to the Messiah.

It was a common thing among the Jews for the children to be

employed in public acclamations; and thus they were accustomed to

hail their celebrated rabbins. This shouting of the children was

therefore no strange thing in the land: only they were

exasperated, because a person was celebrated against whom they had

a rooted hatred. As to the prophecy that foretold this, they

regarded it not. Some imagine that babes and sucklings in the

prophecy have a much more extensive meaning, and refer also to the

first preachers of the Gospel of Christ.

Verse 17. And he left them (καταλιπων, finally leaving them)

and went-into Bethany; and he lodged there.] Bethany was a

village about two miles distant from Jerusalem, by Mount Olivet,

Joh 11:18; and it is remarkable that from this day till his

death, which happened about six days after, he spent not one night

in Jerusalem, but went every evening to Bethany, and returned to

the city each morning. See Lu 21:37; 22:39; Joh 8:1, 2. They

were about to murder the Lord of glory; and the true light, which

they had rejected, is now departing from them.

Lodged there.] Not merely to avoid the snares laid for him by

those bad men, but to take away all suspicion of his affecting the

regal power. To the end of this verse is added by the Saxon,

[Anglo-Saxon]. And taught them of the kingdom of God. This same

reading is found in some MSS., Missals, and one copy of the Itala.

It appears also in Wickliff, and my old folio English MS. Bible,

and taugt hem of the kyngdom of God; and in two MS. copies of the

Vulgate, in my possession: one, duodecimo, very fairly written, in

1300; the other a large folio, probably written in the 11th or

12th century, in which the words are, IBIQUE docebat eos de regno

Dei. AND THERE he taught them concerning the kingdom of God.

Verse 18. Now in the morning, as he returned into the city]

Which was his custom from the time he wholly left Jerusalem,

spending only the day time teaching in the temple; see Mt 21:17.

This was probably on Thursday, the 12th day of the month Nisan.

He hungered-Probably neither he, nor his disciples, had any

thing but what they got from public charity; and the hand of that

seems to have been cold at this time.

Verse 19. He saw a fig tree in the way] επιτηςοδου, By the

road side. As this fig tree was by the way side, it was no

private property; and on this account our Lord, or any other

traveller, had a right to take of its fruit. For a full

explanation of this difficult passage, relative to this emblematic

fig tree, see on Mr 11:13, &c.

Let no fruit grow on thee] Can a professor, who affords Christ

nothing but barren words and wishes, expect any thing but his

malediction? When the soul continues in unfruitfulness, the

influences of grace are removed, and then the tree speedily

withers from the very root.

Verse 20. How soon is the fig tree withered away!] We often

say to our neighbours, "How suddenly this man died! Who could

have expected it so soon?" But who takes warning by these

examples? What we say to-day of OTHERS, may be said to-morrow of

OURSELVES. Be ye also ready! Lord, increase our faith!

Verse 21. If ye have faith, and doubt not] See on Mt 17:20.

Removing mountains, and rooting up of mountains, are phrases very

generally used to signify the removing or conquering great

difficulties-getting through perplexities. So, many of the

rabbins are termed rooters up of mountains, because they were

dexterous in removing difficulties, solving cases of conscience,

&c. In this sense our Lord's words are to be understood. He that

has faith will get through every difficulty and perplexity;

mountains shall become molehills or plains before him. The saying

is neither to be taken in its literal sense, nor is it

hyperbolical: it is a proverbial form of speech, which no Jew

could misunderstand, and with which no Christian ought to be


Verse 22. All things-ye shall ask in prayer, believing] In

order to get salvation, there must be, 1. a conviction of the want

of it: this begets, 2. prayer, or warm desires, in the heart: then

3. the person asks, i.e. makes use of words expressive of his

wants and wishes: 4. believes the word of promise, relative to the

fulfilment of his wants: and 5. receives, according to the

merciful promise of God, the salvation which his soul requires.

Verse 23. By what authority doest thou these things?] The

things which the chief priests allude to, were his receiving the

acclamations of the people as the promised Messiah, his casting

the traders out of the temple, and his teaching the people

publicly in it.

Who gave thee this authority?] Not them: for, like many of

their successors, they were neither teachers nor cleansers; though

they had the name and the profits of the place.

Verse 24. I also will ask you one thing] Our Lord was

certainly under no obligation to answer their question: he had

already given them such proofs of his Divine mission as could not

possibly be exceeded, in the miracles which he wrought before

their eyes, and before all Judea; and, as they would not credit

him on this evidence, it would have been in vain to have expected

their acknowledgment of him on any profession he would make.

Verse 25. The baptism of John] Had John a Divine commission or

not, for his baptism and preaching? Our Lord here takes the wise

in their own cunning. He knew the estimation John was in among

the people; and he plainly saw that, if they gave any answer at

all, they must convict themselves: and so they saw, when they came

to examine the question. See Mt 21:25, 26.

Verse 27. We cannot tell.] Simplicity gives a wonderful

confidence and peace of mind; but double dealing causes a thousand

inquietudes and troubles. Let a man do his utmost to conceal in

his own heart the evidence he has of truth and innocence, to

countenance his not yielding to it; God, who sees the heart, will,

in the light of the last day, produce it as a witness against him,

and make it his judge.

We cannot tell, said they; which, in the words of truth, should

have been, We will not tell, for we will not have this man for the

Messiah: because, if we acknowledge John as his forerunner, we

must, of necessity, receive Jesus as the Christ.

They who are engaged against the truth are abandoned to the

spirit of falsity, and scruple not at a lie. Pharisaical pride,

according to its different interests, either pretends to know

every thing, or affects to know nothing. Among such, we may meet

with numerous instances of arrogance and affected humility. God

often hides from the wise and prudent what he reveals unto babes;

for, when they use their wisdom only to invent the most plausible

excuses for rejecting the truth when it comes to them, it is but

just that they should be punished with that ignorance to which, in

their own defence, they are obliged to have recourse.

Verse 28. A certain man had two sons] Under the emblem of

these two sons, one of whom was a libertine, disobedient, and

insolent, but who afterwards thought on his ways, and returned to

his duty; and the second, a hypocrite, who promised all, and did

nothing; our Lord points out, on the one hand, the tax-gatherers

and sinners of all descriptions, who, convicted by the preaching

of John and that of Christ, turned away from their iniquities and

embraced the Gospel; and, on the other hand, the scribes,

Pharisees, and self-righteous people, who, pretending a zeal for

the law, would not receive the salvation of the Gospel.

Verse 29. I will not] This is the general reply of every

sinner to the invitations of God; and, in it, the Most High is

treated without ceremony or respect. They only are safe who

persist not in the denial.

Verse 30. I go, sir] This is all respect, complaisance, and

professed, obedience; but he went not: he promised well, but did

not perform. What a multitude of such are in the world,

professing to know God, but denying him in their works! Alas!

what will such professions avail, when God comes to take away the


Verse 31. The publicans and the harlots] In all their former

conduct they had said NO. Now they yield to the voice of truth

when they hear it, and enter into the kingdom, embracing the

salvation brought to them in the Gospel. The others, who had been

always professing the most ready and willing obedience, and who

pretended to be waiting for the kingdom of God, did not receive it

when it came, but rather chose, while making the best professions,

to continue members of the synagogue of Satan.

Verse 32. John came unto you in the way of righteousness]

Proclaiming the truth, and living agreeably to it. Or, John came

unto you, who are in the way of righteousness. This seems rather

to be the true meaning and construction of this passage. The Jews

are here distinguished from the Gentiles. The former were in the

way of righteousness, had the revelation of God, and the

ordinances of justice established among them; the latter were in

the way of unrighteousness, without the Divine revelation, and

iniquitous in all their conduct: John came to both, preaching the

doctrine of repentance, and proclaiming Jesus the Christ. To say

that it was John who came in the way of righteousness, and that to

him the words refer, is, in my opinion, saying nothing; for this

was necessarily implied: as he professed to come from God, he must

not only preach righteousness, but walk in it.

It is very difficult to get a worldly minded and self-righteous

man brought to Christ. Examples signify little to him. Urge the

example of an eminent saint, he is discouraged at it. Show him a

profligate sinner converted to God, him he is ashamed to own and

follow; and, as to the conduct of the generality of the followers

of Christ, it is not striking enough to impress him. John, and

Christ, and the apostles preach; but, to multitudes, all is in


Verse 33. There was a certain householder] Let us endeavour to

find out a general and practical meaning for this parable. A

householder-the Supreme Being. The family-the Jewish nation.

The vineyard-the city of Jerusalem. The fence-the Divine

protection. The wine-press-the law and sacrificial rites.

The tower-the temple, in which the Divine presence was manifested.

The husbandmen-the priests and doctors of the law. Went from

home-entrusted the cultivation of the vineyard to the priests,

&c., with the utmost confidence; as a man would do who had the

most trusty servants, and was obliged to absent himself from home

for a certain time. Our Lord takes this parable from Isa 5:1,

&c.; but whether our blessed Redeemer quote from the law, the

prophets, or the rabbins, he reserves the liberty to himself to

beautify the whole, and render it more pertinent.

Some apply this parable also to Christianity, thus:-The master

or father-our blessed Lord. The family-professing Christians in

general. The vineyard-the true Church, or assembly of the

faithful. The hedge-the true faith, which keeps the sacred

assembly enclosed and defended from the errors of heathenism and

false Christianity. The wine-press-the atonement made by the

sacrifice of Christ, typified by the sacrifices under the law.

The tower-the promises of the Divine presence and protection.

The husbandmen-the apostles and all their successors in the

ministry. The going from home-the ascension to heaven. But this

parable cannot go on all fours in the Christian cause, as any one may

see. In the case of the husbandmen, especially it is applicable;

unless we suppose our Lord intended such as those inquisitorial

Bonners, who always persecuted the true ministers of Christ, and

consequently Christ himself in his members; and to these may be

added the whole train of St. Bartholomew EJECTORS, and all the

fire and faggot men of a certain Church, who think they do God

service by murdering his saints. But let the persecuted take

courage: Jesus Christ will come back shortly; and then he will

miserably destroy those wicked men: indeed, he has done so already

to several, and let out his vineyard to more faithful husbandmen.

Digged a wine-press] ωρυξεληνον. St. Mark has υποληνιον,

the pit under the press, into which the liquor ran, when squeezed

out of the fruit by the press.

Verse 34. He sent his servants] Prophets, which, from time to

time, he sent to the Jewish nation to call both priests and people

back to the purity of his holy religion.

Receive the fruits of it.] Alluding to the ancient custom of

paying the rent of a farm in kind; that is, by a part of the

produce of the farm. This custom anciently prevailed in most

nations; and still prevails in the highlands of Scotland, and in

some other places. The Boldon book, a survey made of the state of

the bishopric of Durham in 1183, shows how much of the rents was

paid in cows, sheep, pigs, fowls, eggs, &c., the remaining part

being made up chiefly by manual labour.

Verse 35. Beat one] εδειραν, took his skin off, flayed him:

probably alluding to some who had been excessively scourged.

Killed another, &c.] Rid themselves of the true witnesses of

God by a variety of persecutions.

Verse 36. Other servants] There is not a moment in which God

does not shower down his gifts upon men, and require the fruit of

them. Various instruments are used to bring sinners to God.

There are prophets, apostles, pastors, teachers: some with his

gift after this manner, and some after that. The true disciples

of Christ have been persecuted in all ages, and the greatest share

of the persecution has fallen upon the ministers of his religion;

for there have always been good and bad husbandmen, and the latter

have persecuted the former.

More than the first] Or, more honourable, so I think πλειονας

should be translated; for, as the fulness of the time approached,

each prophet more clearly and fully pointed out the coming of


Our translation, which says, more than the first, conveys no

meaning at all. πλειος is the meaning I have given it above, in

Mt 6:25.

πλειοντηςτροφης, of MORE VALUE than food; and in Nu 22:15

πλειουςκαιεντιμοτερους, persons higher in dignity and office.

Verse 37. Last of all he sent-his son] This requires no

comment. Our Lord plainly means himself.

They will reverence] εντραπησονται, they will reflect upon

their conduct and blush for shame because of it, when they see my

son. So the Syric and Persic.

Verse 38. Said among themselves] Alluding to the conspiracies

which were then forming against the life of our blessed Lord, in

the councils of the Jewish elders and chief priests.

See Mt 27:1.

Verse 39. Cast him out of the vineyard] Utterly rejected the

counsel of God against themselves; and would neither acknowledge

the authority of Christ, nor submit to his teaching. What a

strange and unaccountable case is this!-a sinner, to enjoy a

little longer his false peace, and the gratification of his sinful

appetites, rejects Jesus, and persecutes that Gospel which

troubles his sinful repose.

Verse 41. He will miserably destroy those wicked men] So,

according to this evangelist, our Lord caused them to pass that

sentence of destruction upon themselves which was literally

executed about forty years after. But Luke relates it

differently: according to him, they said μηγενοιτο, God forbid!

The Codex Leicestrensis omits οιλεγουσιν, they say; so that the

following words appear to be spoken by our Lord. Michaelis

supposes that in the Hebrew original the word was waiomer,

he said; for which the Greek translator might have read

waiomeru, they said.

Verse 42. The stone] R. Solom. Jarchi, on Micah 5., says, this

stone means the Messiah, : Abarbanel is of the same

opinion. This seems to have been originally spoken of David who

was at first rejected by the Jewish rulers, but was afterwards

chosen by the Lord to be the great ruler of his people Israel.

The quotation is taken from Ps 118:22.

As the Church is represented in Scripture under the name of the

temple and house of God, in allusion to the temple of Jerusalem,

which was a type of it, 1Co 3:16; Heb 3:6; 1Pe 2:5; so Jesus

Christ is represented as the foundation on which this edifice is

laid, 1Co 3:11; Eph 2:20, 21.

The builders] The chief priests and elders of the people, with

the doctors of the law.

Rejected] An expression borrowed from masons, who, finding a

stone, which being tried in a particular place, and appearing

improper for it, is thrown aside, and another taken; however, at

last, it may happen that the very stone which had been before

rejected, may be found the most suitable as the head stone of the


This passage, as applied by our Lord to himself, contains an

abridgment of the whole doctrine of the Gospel.

1. The Lord's peculiar work is astonishingly manifested in the

mission of Jesus Christ.

2. He, being rejected and crucified by the Jews, became an

atonement for the sin of the world.

3. He was raised again from the dead, a proof of his conquest

over death and sin, and a pledge of immortality to his


4. He was constituted the foundation on which the salvation of

mankind rests, and the corner stone which unites Jews and

Gentiles, beautifies, strengthens, and completes the whole

building, as the head stone, or uppermost stone in the corner does

the whole edifice.

5. He is hereby rendered the object of the joy and admiration of

all his followers and the glory of man. This was done by the

Lord, and is marvellous in our eyes.

Verse 43. Therefore say I] Thus showing them, that to them

alone the parable belonged. The kingdom of God shall be taken

from you-the Gospel shall be taken from you, and given to the

Gentiles, who will receive it, and bring forth fruit to the glory

of God.

Bringing forth the fruits] As in Mt 21:34 an allusion is made

to paying the landlord in kind, so here the Gentiles are

represented as paying God thus. The returns which He expects for

his grace are the fruits of grace; nothing can ever be acceptable

in the sight of God that does not spring from himself.

Verse 44. The 44th verse should certainly come before ver. 43,

otherwise the narration is not consecutive.

-Verse 42. The stone which the builders rejected, is become the

head of the corner, &c.

-Verse 44. Whosoever shall fall on this stone shall be broken, &c.

This is an allusion to the punishment of stoning among the Jews.

The place of stoning was twice as high as a man; while standing on

this, one of the witnesses struck the culprit on the loins, so

that he fell over this scaffold; if he died by the stroke and

fall, well; if not, the other witness threw a stone upon his

heart, and despatched him. That stone thrown on the culprit was,

in some cases, as much as two men could lift up. Tract Sanhed.

and Bab. Gemara, and Lightfoot. See also the note on Joh 8:7.

He, whether Jew or Gentile, who shall not believe in the Son of

God, shall suffer grievously in consequence; but on whomsoever the

stone (Jesus Christ) falls in the way of judgment, he shall be

ground to powder, λικμησειαυτον-it shall make him so small as to

render him capable of being dispersed as chaff by the wind. This

seems to allude, not only to the dreadful crushing of the Jewish

state by the Romans, but also to that general dispersion of the

Jews through all the nations of the world, which continues to the

present day. This whole verse is wanting in the Codex Bezae, one

other, five copies of the Itala, and Origen; but it is found in

the parallel place, Lu 20:18, and seems to have been quoted from

Isa 8:14, 15.

He shall be for a STONE of STUMBLING, and for a ROCK OF

OFFENCE to both the houses of Israel-and many among them

shall STUMBLE and FALL, and be BROKEN.

Verse 45. The chief priests-perceived that he spoke of them.]

The most wholesome advice passes for an affront with those who

have shut their hearts against the truth. When that which should

lead to repentance only kindles the flame of malice and revenge,

there is but little hope of the salvation of such persons.

Verse 46. They sought to lay hands on him, they feared the

multitude] Restraining and preventing grace is an excellent

blessing, particularly where it leads to repentance and salvation;

but he who abstains from certain evils, only through fear of

scandal or punishment, has already committed them in his heart,

and is guilty before God. The intrepidity of our Lord is worthy

of admiration and imitation; in the very face of his most

inveterate enemies, he bears a noble testimony to the truth,

reproves their iniquities, denounces the Divine judgments, and, in

the very teeth of destruction, braves danger and death! A true

minister of Christ fears nothing but God, when his glory is

concerned: a hireling fears every thing, except Him whom he ought

to fear.

This last journey of our Lord to Jerusalem is a subject of great

importance; it is mentioned by all the four evangelists, and has

been a subject of criticism and cavil to some unsanctified minds.

He has been accused of "attempting, by this method, to feel how

far the populace were disposed to favour his pretensions in

establishing himself as a king in the land; or, at least, by his

conduct in this business, he gave much cause for popular

seditions." Every circumstance in the case refutes this calumny.

1. His whole conduct had proved that his kingdom was not of this

world, and that he sought not the honour that cometh from man.

2. He had in a very explicit manner foretold his own premature

death, and particularly at this time.

3. It is evident, from what he had said to his disciples, that he

went up to Jerusalem at this time for the express purpose of being

sacrificed, and not of erecting a secular kingdom.

4. What he did at this time was to fulfil a declaration of God

delivered by two prophets, upwards of 700 years before, relative

to his lowliness, poverty, and total deadness to all secular rule

and pomp. See Isa 62:11; Zec 9:9.

5. All the time he spent now in Jerusalem, which was about five

days, he spent in teaching, precisely in the same way he had done

for three years past; nor do we find that he uttered one maxim

dissimilar to what he formerly taught, or said a word calculated

to produce any sensation on the hearts of the populace, but that

of piety towards God; and in the parable of the man and his two

sons, the husbandmen and the vineyard, he spoke in such a way to

the rulers of the people as to show that he knew they were

plotting his destruction; and that, far from fleeing from the

face of danger, or strengthening his party against his enemies, he

was come to wait at the foot of the altar till his blood should be

poured out for the sin of the world!

6. Had he affected any thing of a secular kind, he had now the

fairest opportunity to accomplish his designs. The people had

already received him as Jesus the prophet; now they acknowledge

him as the Christ or MESSIAH, and sing the hosannah to him, as

immediately appointed by Heaven to be their deliverer.

7. Though, with the character of the Messiah, the Jews had

connected that of secular royalty, and they now, by spreading

their clothes in the way, strewing branches, &c., treat him as a

royal person, and one appointed to govern the kingdom; yet of this

he appears to take no notice, farther than to show that an

important prophecy was thus fulfilled: he went as usual into the

temple, taught the people pure and spiritual truths, withdrew at

night from the city, lodged in private at Mount Olivet; and thus

most studiously and unequivocally showed that his sole aim was to

call the people back to purity and holiness, and prepare them for

that kingdom of righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost,

which he was about, by his passion, death, resurrection,

ascension, and the mission of the Holy Spirit, to set up in the


8. Could a person who worked such miracles as he was in the daily

habit of working-miracles which proved he possessed unlimited

power and unerring wisdom, need subterfuges, or a colouring

for any design he wished to accomplish? He had only to put forth

that power essentially resident in himself, and all resistance to

his will must be annihilated. In short, every circumstance of the

case shows at once the calumny and absurdity of the charge. But,

instead of lessening, or tendering suspicious this or any other

part of our Lord's conduct, it shows the whole in a more luminous

and glorious point of view; and thus the wrath of man praises him.

9. That he was a king, that he was born of a woman and came into

the world for this very purpose, he took every occasion to

declare; but all these declarations showed that his kingdom was

spiritual: he would not even interfere with the duty of the civil

magistrate to induce an avaricious brother to do justice to the

rest of the family, Lu 12:13, when probably a few words from such

an authority would have been sufficient to have settled the

business; yet to prevent all suspicion, and to remove every cause

for offence, he absolutely refused to interfere, and took occasion

from the very circumstance to declaim against secular views,

covetousness, and worldly ambition! O how groundless does every

part of his conduct prove this charge of secular ambition to be!

Such was the spirit of the Master: such must be the spirit of

the disciple. He that will reign with Christ, must be humbled and

suffer with him. This is the royal road. The love of the world,

in its power and honours, is as inconsistent with the spirit of

the Gospel as the love of the grossest vice. If any man love the

world, the love of the Father is not in him. Reader, take

occasion from this refuted calumny, to imitate thy Lord in the

spirituality of his life, to pass through things temporal so as

not to lose those that are eternal, that thou mayest reign with

him in the glory of his kingdom. Amen.

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