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Matthew 23:15 – The Nazarene’s Commentary: Woe 2: Evangelists of Gehenna

Matthew 23:15 – Woe 2: Evangelists of Gehenna

MT23:15 “WOE to you hypocritical Scribes and Pharisees, because you travel over land and sea[1] to make a single proselyte;[2] and, when he becomes such [a convert to Judaism] you make him a son of Gehenna[3] twice as much as you.

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Woe

[1] Travel over land and sea: The Jews were great missionary evangelists and their religion had traveled to most corners of the world.

[2] Proselyte: The Greek is PROSELYTON. Or, RHM: to make one convert.

[3] A son of Gehenna: See the notes on Matthew 12:27 (= sons). The convert is a “son” and his teacher his “father.” Or, KNX: twice as worthy of damnation as yourselves; NEB: twice as fit for hell as you are yourselves; PME: twice as ripe for destruction. Research the word Gehenna for information.

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Preceding

Matthew 23:1-12 – The Nazarene’s Commentary: Prominence and Humility

Matthew 23:13-14 – The Nazarene’s Commentary: Shutting Up the Kingdom

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Related

  1. Leadership and Titles– Part I
  2. “But woe unto you, religious elites (scribes and Pharisees), hypocrites! You shut up the kingdom of heaven against men: for you neither go in yourselves, neither suffer you them that are entering to go in.” ~Jesus
  3. Woe unto you…..
  4. Matthew 23:16-26 – “Woe to You, Scribes and Pharisees

Matthew 23:13-14 – The Nazarene’s Commentary: Woe 1: Shutting Up the Kingdom

Matthew 23:13-14 – Woe 1: Shutting Up the Kingdom

|| Luke 11:52

MT23:13 “WOE to you hypocritical Scribes and Pharisees, because right in front of people[1] you are closing the door to the Realm of Heaven.[2] You do not enter and you prevent those who might from entering.[3] MT23:14 [[Woe to you hypocritical Scribes and Pharisees, for you devour the houses of widows and for a pretence you make long prayers. This is why you will receive a heavier judgment.]][4]

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Woe

[1] Right in front of people: [Or, you slam the door in men’s faces] Or, GDSP: you lock the doors of the Kingdom of Heaven in men’s faces.

[2] Closing the door to the Realm of Heaven: We have seen elsewhere in Matthew that the Realm of Heaven is the domain over which Christ rules; that is, Christendom – the Church. The Jewish religious hierarchy opposed the Jesus movement and acted as a restraint in preventing many persons from gaining membership in the congregation Jesus was building. There are modern movements who teach that lesser persons do not attain heaven, but live on earth forever**. These actually teach that opportunity to enter heaven closed.

[3] You do not enter and you prevent those who might from entering: Or, BECK: you won’t come into it yourself, and when others try to come in, you won’t let them. They do not follow the Nazarene and any who try they threaten with excommunication (See John 9:22; 16:2).

[4] [[…]]: Most recognize this verse does not have ancient support and is not supported by the older manuscripts.

**

Many philosophers and preachers talk about some sort of incarnation, where the person keeps returning on earth, each time in another form. Though all should know there is no such incarnation and not every body is going to go to heaven after death. God’s Kingdom shall be on earth as it is in heaven.

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Preceding

Matthew 23:1-12 – The Nazarene’s Commentary: Prominence and Humility

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Related literature

  1. The Good & Bad of the Pharisees
  2. Hypocrisy & Judgmentalism – Two Unmistakable Marks Of Narcissism – Part 1
  3. Strength and Authority
  4. Leadership and Titles– Part I
  5. Woe unto you…..
  6. “But woe unto you, religious elites (scribes and Pharisees), hypocrites! You shut up the kingdom of heaven against men: for you neither go in yourselves, neither suffer you them that are entering to go in.” ~Jesus
  7. Judgement

Matthew 23:1-12 – The Nazarene’s Commentary: Prominence and Humility

Matthew 23:1-12 – Prominence and Humility

|| Mark 12:38, 39; Luke 20:45, 46

MT23:1 Then Jesus spoke to the crowds as well as his disciples, saying: MT23:2 “The Scribes and Pharisees sat down on the seat of Moses.[1] MT23:3 So, everything they preach to you, do and observe;[2] but do not imitate their actions,[3] for they do not practice what they preach.[4] MT23:4 They tie on heavy burdens[5] and impose these on the shoulders of humankind while they are unwilling to budge [these loads] with a single finger.[6] MT23:5 All their [religious] works they do to be viewed by humans.[7] They broaden their phylacteries[8] and they enlarge the fringes of their garments.[9] MT23:6 They prefer the prominent place at suppers[10] and the front seats in the synagogues.[11] MT23:7 [They enjoy] greetings in the market square[12] and to be called ‘Rabbi’[13] by people. MT23:8 But, you [disciples] should not be addressed as ‘Rabbi’ for only One is your teacher.[14] All of you [disciples] are brothers.[15] MT23:9 Nor should [you disciples permit others] on earth to address you as ‘Father’[16] for One is your Father – the Heavenly One. MT23:10 Nor should you disciples be addressed as ‘Leaders’[17] because your Leader is only the Messiah. MT23:11 But the ‘greatest’ among you will be your servant. MT23:12 For whoever will exalt self will be humiliated;[18] and whoever humbles self will be exalted.

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[1] Sat down on the seat of Moses: Or, KNX: the place from which Moses used to teach; TCNT: now occupy the chair of Moses; PME: speak with the authority of Moses. Compare Exodus 18:13.

[2] Do and observe: Or, RSV: so practice and observe whatever they tell you. Jesus does not undermine their teaching of the Law of Moses.

[3] Do not imitate their actions: Or, BER: do not behave as they do; TCNT: do not follow their example.

[4] They do not practice what they preach: Or, KJV: they say, and do not; RSV: they preach, but do not practice; KNX: for they tell you one thing and do another.

[5] They tie on heavy burdens: Or, KJV: they bind heavy burdens; KNX: they fasten up packs too heavy; PME: they pile up back-breaking burdens.

[6] They are unwilling to budge [these loads] with a single finger: Or, TCNT: they decline themselves to lift a finger to move them.

[7] To be viewed by humans: Or, NEB: whatever they do is done for show.

[8] They broaden their phylacteries: The Greek is PHYLACTERIA. The Jewish Encyclopedia (1976, Vol. X, p. 21) states: “The laws governing the wearing of phylacteries were derived by the Rabbis from four Biblical passages (Deuteronomy 6:8; 11:18; Exodus 13:9). While these passages were interpreted literally by most commentators,… the Rabbis held that the general law only was expressed in the Bible, the application and elaboration of it being entirely matters of tradition and inference.” These were small boxes containing Bible verses strapped around the forehead and wrist. These Jewish clergy made them large for show of their extreme religiosity. Or, KNX: boldly written are the texts they carry; GDSP: they wear wide Scripture texts as charms; TAY: they act holy by wearing on their arms large prayer boxes with Scripture verses inside.

[9] They enlarge the fringes of their garments: See Numbers 15:38; Deuteronomy 22:12. Or, KNX: deep is the hem of their garments; GDSP: they wear large tassels; TAY: by lengthening the memorial fringes of their robes.

[10] They prefer the prominent place at suppers: Or, KJV: they love the uppermost rooms at feasts; RHM: the first couch in the chief meals; RSV: place of honor; RIEU: the best places at banquets; PME: seats of honor at dinner parties. Compare the counsel of the Nazarene at Luke 14:7, 10.

[11] The front seats in the synagogues: Note this was still a problem among Christians (James 2:2-4).

[12] [They enjoy] greetings in the market square: Or, NASB: respectful greetings; WMS: to be greeting with honor in public places. We can see these self-righteous, condescending clergy bestowing their weak smiles and blessings upon those who raise their voices in praise.

[13] Rabbi: The term occurs 18 times in three Gospels and is absent from the Gospel of Luke. The title is a surrogate for “teacher.” (John 1:38) In time the title was elevated to “my great one; my excellent one.” Research the word Rabbi.

[14] Only One is your teacher: While all Christians should be teachers (Hebrews 5:12; Titus 2:3), and while there are among them those recognized as “teachers” (1 Corinthians 12:28; Ephesians 4:11; James 3:1-3) the entire Body of Christ understands who the real Teacher is: Jesus of Nazareth.

[15] Brothers: Jesus speaks to his male disciples. See notes on Matthew 12:50. Despite gifts and offices the general atmosphere in the church must be a brotherhood.

[16] Address you as ‘Father’: Unfortunately later in the history of the Church clergy accepted the title “Father” despite the command of their Lord. They will have to bear this responsibility. Often it is a matter of a teacher or leader refusing certain titles. Job 32:21 declares, “And on an earthling man I shall not bestow a title.” (NWT)

[17] Leaders: Or, KJV: neither be ye called masters: for one is your Master. In Spanish such a man is called Maestro and this is not fitting for a shepherd of the flock. There is a different between a “Leader” and one who takes the lead. Compare Hebrews 13:7, 17.

[18] Whoever will exalt self will be humiliated: Or, KJV: whosoever shall exalt himself shall be abased.

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Preceding

Matthew 22:41-46 – The Nazarene’s Commentary: Jesus Asks a Trump Question

Matthew 23 – A Jeremiad against the religious hypocrites

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Related articles

  1. Matthew Chapter A Day – 23
  2. Read Matt 23 before saying anything
  3. Hypocrisy & Judgmentalism – Two Unmistakable Marks Of Narcissism – Part 1
  4. “Do you want to stand out? Then step down. Be a servant.” ~Jesus
  5. Who were the pharisees?
  6. The Good & Bad of the Pharisees
  7. Pharisees and Scribes
  8. “Stay Humble – God Will Expose”

Matthew 23 – A Jeremiad against the religious hypocrites

CHAPTER TWENTY-THREE:
A JEREMIAD AGAINST THE RELIGIOUS HYPOCRITES

[“Woe to a Generation of Vipers”]
(Key word: Woe!)

Already in chapter 16 of Matthews’s account of Jesus his life the apostle wrote about Jesus warning them to be careful and to pay attention regarding the leaven (Pharisees, Sadducees, and Herodians (Matthew 16:6, 11, 12; Mark 8:15; Luke 12:1) or particular people who claim to be speaking in the name of God.

Today we start looking at chapter 23 of Matthew’s gospel where Jesus speaks directly to those who claim they are the only ones who have the right to speak about God and His commandments and demanded followship.

This chapter clearly shows the extent to which the disciples are viewed as Jews in relation to the nation, even though their master condemned the leaders who misguided the people and dishonoured Jehovah God by their hypocrisy.

To speak to the crowd and to His disciples, Jesus says:

“The scribes and the Pharisees have sat down in Moses’ chair”;

and though their behaviour was only hypocrisy, they had to follow them, as the interpreters of the law, yet in all that they spoke in accordance with it.

We find Jesus speaking to the multitudes and to his disciple in the most public manner.

First of all, Jesus acknowledges the official position and the orthodoxy of the leaders of the people, and therefore encourages his disciples to bear the fetters of the stricter statue even longer than by premature dropping the semblance of indiscipline (the temple falls soon enough) V. 36).

On the other hand, he recommends to the disciples the harmony of change with doctrine, fraternal equality and humble service (his, the Messiah’s, as the sole leader V. 10); that was the basis of all greatness in his kingdom.

In this chapter we shall come to see how certain people shall try to convince people how they can not come in the Kingdom of God in case they do not follow their teachings. Also in our present day we do find such teachers of religion, Pharisees and hypocrites who love to prevent ordinary people from entering the kingdom of God (v 14) or who set up a show, putting themselves in the spotlights, doing as if they are very devout people and saying ‘great prayers’.

Today we still find people who are more attracted to the writings and sayings of so called theologians instead of concentrating on the words of the Holy Scriptures. They let themselves being carried away by the many theological theories even when those would be not according the Bible texts. Often those church leaders want to have full control over their congregation and therefore make them afraid with all sorts of stories which are not in accordance with the Bible, or of taking certain texts to literally instead of reading in between the lines and seeing the essence of the text.

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Preceding

Matthew 13:33 – The Nazarene’s Commentary: Parable of the Fermented Whole

Matthew 16:5-12 – The Nazarene’s Commentary: Watch Out for the Leaven of False Teaching

Matthew 22:41-46 – The Nazarene’s Commentary: Jesus Asks a Trump Question

Additional readings to Matthew 22:41-46

Next

Matthew 23:1-12 – The Nazarene’s Commentary: Prominence and Humility

The kingdom of heaven is like unto a certain king, which made a marriage for his son.

Several times Jesus got tested. The Pharisees loved to tempt him to give the wrong answers or to give them something to show that he was not a real rebbe or master rabbi, not having enough knowledge of Scriptures.

Jesus answered the Pharisees and Sadducees by going on with his ministry as it happened more, speaking again by parables. They came to him with quibbles, he replied by parables. Though the Pharisees perceived that he spoke of them, it did not stop them to attack him further. Their partly concealed anger was all the greater because, through fear of the multitude, they could not yet lay hands on Jesus, and put him to death. They had wilfully closed their eyes to the light, set it continued to shine upon them.

When we look at the Parable of the King and the marriage of His son, we should see that it is all about Jehovah God and the bridegroom, Jehovah’s son, Jesus Christ. This parable must be distinguished from the one recorded in Luke 14:16-24, which was spoken on another occasion, and with a different object. It would be worth while to compare the two parables, and to note their resemblances and their differences.

In this parable we have the Great King, or King of glory celebrate the union of his Son with our humanity. The divine Son of God, as the Son of David,is the central figure of the feast presented by the King, Who first of all invited His Own People. But we come to hear that many of them who were invited were unwilling to come. That is also what we clearly can see what happened with the People of Israel, today many living in the darkness, and lots of Jews even not believing any more in God.

As it was long ago said by a Spartan, that the Athenians knew what was right, but did not choose to practice it; so Christ now brings it as a reproach against the Jews, that they gave utterance to beautiful expressions about the kingdom of God, but, when God kindly and gently invited them, they rejected His grace with disdain. There is no room to doubt that the discourse is expressly levelled against the Jews.

Matthew says that a king made a marriage for his son: Luke only mentions a great supper. The former speaks of many servants, while the latter refers to no more than one servant; the former describes many messages, the latter mentions one only; the former says that some of the servants were abused or slain, the latter speaks only of their being treated with contempt. Lastly, the former relates that a man was cast out, who had gone in to the marriage without a wedding garment, of which Luke makes no mention.

Jehovah God bestowed on the Jews distinguished honour, by providing for them, as it were, a hospitable table; but they despised the honour which had been conferred upon them. The marriage of the King’s son is explained by many commentators to mean, that Christ is the end of the Law (Romans 10:4), and that God had no other design in his covenant, than to make His sent one, the only begotten son of God, the Governor of His people, and to unite the Church to him by the sacred bond of a spiritual marriage.

When Jesus says, that the servants were sent to call those who were invited, these words are intended to point out a double favour which the Jews had received from God; first, in being preferred to other nations; and, secondly, in having their adoption made known to them by the prophets.
The allusion is to a practice customary among men, that those who intended to make a marriage drew up a list of the persons whom they intended to have as guests, and afterwards sent invitations to them by their servants. In like manner, God elected the Jews in preference to others, as if they had been his familiar friends, and afterwards called them by the prophets to partake of the promised redemption, which was, as it were, to feast at a marriage.

We know that all received an offer of the same salvation, of which they were deprived by their ingratitude and malice; for from the commencement, God’s invitation was impiously despised by that people.

The gospel is a glorious festival in honour of that wondrous marriage. It was a grand event, and grandly did the King, propose to celebrate it by a wedding feast of grace. The marriage and the marriage festivities were all arranged by the King, He took such delight in His only-begotten and well-beloved Son, that everything that was for his honour and joy afforded infinite satisfaction to the great Father’s heart. In addition to the son’s equal glory with the Father as Creator, Preserver, and Provider, by his marriage he was to be crowned with fresh honours as Saviour, Redeemer, and Mediator.

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Preceding

Matthew 22:1-6 – The Nazarene’s Commentary: Parable of Invitation to a Marriage

Matthew 22:7-10 – The Nazarene’s Commentary: Invitations after City’s Destruction

Matthew 22:11-13 – The Nazarene’s Commentary: King’s Inspection and Marriage Garments

Matthew 22:14 – The Nazarene’s Commentary: Many Invited – Few Chosen

Matthew 22:15-22 – The Nazarene’s Commentary: Caesar’s Things and God’s Things

Matthew 22:23-28 – The Nazarene’s Commentary: Sadducees Question on the Resurrection

Matthew 22:29-33 – The Nazarene’s Commentary: Resurrection Proof from Moses

Matthew 22:34-40 – The Nazarene’s Commentary: Which Is the Greatest Commandment

Matthew 22:41-46 – The Nazarene’s Commentary: Jesus Asks a Trump Question

Additional readings to Matthew 22:41-46

A Look of the Expositor Bible at The Marriage Feast {Matthew 22:1-14 }

A Look of the Expositor Bible at The Ordeal of questions {Matthew 22:15-46 }

A Look of the Expositor Bible at The Ordeal of questions {Matthew 22:15-46 }

II —The Ordeal of questions. {#Mt 22:15-46 }

The open challenge has failed; but more subtle weapons may succeed. The Pharisees have found it of no avail to confront their enemy; but they may still be able to entangle Him. They will at all events try. They will spring upon Him some hard questions, of such a kind that, answering on the spur of the moment, He will be sure to compromise Himself.

1. The first shall be one of those semi-political semi-religious questions on which feeling is running high — the lawfulness or unlawfulness of paying tribute to Caesar. The old Pharisees who had challenged His authority keep in the background, that the sinister purpose of the question may not appear; but they are represented by some of their disciples who, coming fresh upon the scene and addressing Jesus m terms of respect and appreciation, may readily pass for guileless inquirers. They were accompanied by some Herodians, whose divergence of view on the point made it all the more natural that they should join with Pharisees in asking the question; for it might fairly be considered that they had been disputing with one another in regard to it, and had concluded to submit the question to His decision as to one who would be sure to know the truth and fearless to tell it. So together they come with the request:

“Master, we know that Thou art true, and teachest the way of God in truth, neither carest Thou for any man: for Thou regardest not the person of men. Tell us therefore, What thinkest Thou? Is it lawful to give tribute unto Caesar, or not?”

But they cannot impose upon Him:

“Jesus perceived their wickedness, and said, Why tempt ye Me, ye hypocrites?”

Having thus unmasked them, without a moment’s hesitation He answers them. They had expected a “yes” or a “no”—a “yes” which would have set the people against Him, or better still a “no” which would have put Him at the mercy of the government. But, avoiding Scylla on the one hand, and Charybdis on the other, He makes straight for His goal by asking for a piece of coin and calling attention to Caesar’s stamp upon it. Those who use Caesar’s coin should not refuse to pay Caesar’s tribute; but, while the relation which with their own acquiescence they sustain to the Roman emperor implied corresponding obligations in the sphere it covered, this did not at all interfere with what is due to the King of kings and Lord of lords, in Whose image we all are made, and Whose superscription every one of us bears:

“Render therefore unto Caesar the things which are Caesar’s; and unto God the things that are God’s.”

Thus He not only avoids the net they had spread for Him, and gives them the very best answer to their question, but, in doing so, He lays down a great principle of far-reaching application and permanent value respecting the difficult and much-to-be-vexed question as to the relations between Church and State. “O answer full of miracle!” as one had said. No wonder that

“when they had heard these words they marvelled, and left Him, and went their way.”

2. Next come forward certain Sadducees. That the Pharisees had an understanding with them also seems likely from what is said both in ver. 15, which seems a general introduction to the series of questions, and in ver. 34, from which it would appear that they were somewhere out of sight, waiting to hear the result of this new attack. Though the alliance seems a strange one, it is not the first time that common hostility to the Christ of God has drawn together the two great rival parties. {see #Mt 16:1 } If we are right in supposing them to be in combination now, it is a remarkable illustration of the deep hostility of the Pharisees that they should not only combine with the Sadducees against Him, as they had done before, but that they should look with complacency on their using against Him a weapon which threatened one of their own doctrines. For the object of the attack was to cast ridicule on the doctrine of the resurrection, which assuredly the Pharisees did not deny.

The difficulty they raise is of the same kind as those which are painfully familiar in these days, when men of coarse minds and fleshly imaginations show by their crude objections their incapacity even to think on spiritual themes. The case they supposed was one they knew He could not find fault with so far as this world was concerned, for everything was done in accordance with the letter of the law of Moses, the inference being that whatever confusion there was in it must belong to what they would call His figment of the resurrection:

“In the resurrection whose wife shall she be of the seven? for they all had her.”

It is worthy of note that our Lord’s-answer is much less stern than in the former case. These men were not hypocrites. They were scornful, perhaps flippant; but they were not intentionally dishonest. The difficulty they felt was due to the coarseness of their minds, but it was a real difficulty to them. Our Lord accordingly gives them a kindly answer, not denouncing them, but calmly showing them where they are wrong:

“Ye do err, not knowing the Scriptures, nor the power of God.”

Ye know not the power of God, or ye would not suppose that the life to come, would be a mere repetition of the life that now is, with all its fleshly conditions the same as now. That there is continuity of life is of course implied in the very idea of resurrection, but true life resides not in the flesh, but in the spirit, and therefore the continuity will be a spiritual continuity; and the power of God will effect such changes on the body itself that it will rise out of its fleshly condition into a state of being like that of the angels of God. The thought is the same as that which was afterwards expanded by the apostle Paul in such passages as #Ro 8:5-11, 1Co 15:35-54.

Ye know not the Scriptures, or you would find in the writings of Moses from which you quote, and to which you attach supreme importance, evidence enough of the great doctrine you deny.

“Have ye not read that which was spoken unto you by God, saying, I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob?”

Here, again, Jesus not only answers the Sadducees, but puts the great and all-important doctrine of the life to come and the resurrection of the body on its deepest foundation. There are those who have expressed astonishment that He did not quote from some of the later prophets, where He could have found passages much clearer and more to the point: but not only was it desirable that, as they had based their question on Moses, He should give His answer from the same source; but in doing so He has put the great truth on a permanent and universal basis; for the argument rests not on the authority of Moses, nor, as some have supposed, upon the present tense “I am,” but on the relation between God and His people. The thought is that such a relation between mortal man and the eternal God as is implied in the declaration

“I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob”

is itself a guarantee of immortality. Not for the spirit only, for it is not as spirits merely, but as men that we are taken into relation to the living God; and that relation, being of God, must share His immortality:

“God is not the God of the dead, but of the living.”

The thought is put in a very striking way in a well-known passage in the Epistle to the Hebrews:

“But now they the patriarchs desire a better country, that is, a heavenly: wherefore God is not ashamed to be called their God: for He hath prepared for them a city.”

Our Lord’s answer suggests the best way of assuring ourselves of this glorious hope. Let God be real to us, and life and immortality will be real too. If we would escape the doubts of old Sadducee and new Agnostic, we must be much with God, and strengthen more and more the ties which bind us to Him.

3. The next attempt of the Pharisees is on an entirely new line. They have found that they cannot impose upon Him by sending pretended inquirers to question Him. But they have managed to lay their hands on a real inquirer now — one of themselves, a student of the law, who is exercised on a question much discussed, arid to which very different answers are given; they will suggest to him to carry his question to Jesus and see what He will say to it. That this was the real state of the case appears from the fuller account in St. Mark’s Gospel. When, then, St. Matthew speaks of him as asking Jesus a question, “tempting Him,” we are not to impute the same sinister motives as actuated those who sent him. He also was in a certain sense tempting Jesus — i.e., putting Him to the test, but with no sinister motive, with a real desire to find out the truth, and probably also to find out if this Jesus was one who could really help an inquirer after truth. In this spirit, then, he asks the question,

“Which is the great commandment in the law?”

The answer our Lord immediately gives is now so familiar that it is difficult to realise how great a thing it was to give it for the first time. True, He takes it from the Scriptures; but think what command of the Scriptures is involved in this prompt reply. The passages quoted lie far apart — the one in the sixth chapter of Deuteronomy, the other in the nineteenth of Leviticus in quite an obscure corner; and nowhere are they spoken of as the first and second commandments, nor indeed were they regarded as commandments in the usually understood sense of the word. When we consider all this we recognise what from one point of view might be called a miracle of genius, and from another a flash of inspiration, in the instantaneous selection of these two passages, and bringing them together so as to furnish a summary of the law and the prophets beyond all praise which the veriest unbeliever, if only he have a mind to appreciate that which is excellent, must recognise as worthy of being written in letters of light. That one short answer to a sudden question—asked indeed by a true man, but really sprung upon Him by His enemies who were watching for His halting—is of more value in morals than all the writings of all the ethical philosophers, from Socrates to Herbert Spencer.

It is now time to question the questioners. The opportunity is most favourable. They are gathered together to hear what He will say to their last attempt to entangle Him. Once more He has not only met the difficulty, but has done so in such a way as to make the truth on the subject in dispute shine with the very light of heaven. There could not, then, be a better opportunity of turning their thoughts in a direction which might lead them, if possible in spite of themselves, into the light of God.

The question Jesus asks (vv. 41-45) is undoubtedly a puzzling one for them; but it is no mere Scripture conundrum. The difficulty in which it lands them is one which, if only they would honestly face it, would be the means of removing the veil from their eyes, and leading them, ere it is too late, to welcome the Son of David come in the name of the Lord to save them. They fully accepted the psalm to which He referred as a psalm of David concerning the. Messiah. If, then, they would honestly read that psalm they would see that the Messiah when He comes must be, not a mere earthly monarch, as David was, but a heavenly monarch, one who should sit on the throne of God and bring into subjection the enemies of the kingdom of heaven. If only they would take their ideas of the Christ from the Scriptures which were their boast, they could not fail to see Him standing now before them. For we must remember that they had not only the words He spoke to guide them. They had before them the Messiah Himself, with the light of heaven in His eye, with the love of God in His face; and had they had any love for the light, they would have recognised Him then — they would have seen in Him, whom they had often heard of as David’s Son, the Lord of David, and therefore the Lord of the Temple, and the heavenly King of Israel. But they love the darkness rather than the light, because their deeds are evil: therefore their hearts remain unchanged, the eyes of their spirit unopened; they are only abashed and silenced:

“No man was able to answer Him a word, neither durst any man from that day forth ask Him any more questions.”

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Preceding

Matthew 22:1-6 – The Nazarene’s Commentary: Parable of Invitation to a Marriage

Matthew 22:7-10 – The Nazarene’s Commentary: Invitations after City’s Destruction

Matthew 22:11-13 – The Nazarene’s Commentary: King’s Inspection and Marriage Garments

Matthew 22:14 – The Nazarene’s Commentary: Many Invited – Few Chosen

Matthew 22:15-22 – The Nazarene’s Commentary: Caesar’s Things and God’s Things

Matthew 22:23-28 – The Nazarene’s Commentary: Sadducees Question on the Resurrection

Matthew 22:29-33 – The Nazarene’s Commentary: Resurrection Proof from Moses

Matthew 22:34-40 – The Nazarene’s Commentary: Which Is the Greatest Commandment

Matthew 22:41-46 – The Nazarene’s Commentary: Jesus Asks a Trump Question

Additional readings to Matthew 22:41-46

A Look of the Expositor Bible at The Marriage Feast {Matthew 22:1-14 }

A Look of the Expositor Bible at The Marriage Feast {Matthew 22:1-14 }

The Marriage Feast. {#Mt 22:1-14 }

The manner in which this third parable is introduced leaves room for doubt whether it was spoken in immediate connection with the two preceding. The use of the word “answered” (ver. 1) would rather suggest the idea that some conversation not reported had intervened. But though it does not form part of a continuous discourse with the others, it is so closely connected with them in scope and bearing that it may appropriately be dealt with, as concluding the warning called forth by the first attack of the chief priests and elders. The relation between the three parables will be best seen by observing that the first has to do with their treatment of John; the second and third with their treatment of Himself and His apostles. The second and third differ from each other in this: that while the King’s Son, Who is prominent in both, is regarded in the former as the last and greatest of a long series of heavenly messengers sent to demand of the chosen people the fruits of righteousness, in the latter He is presented, not as demanding righteousness, but as bringing joy. Duty is the leading thought of the second parable, privilege of the third; in the one sin is brought home to Israel’s leaders by setting before them their treatment of the messengers of righteousness, in the other the sin lies in their rejection of the message of grace. Out of this distinction rises another—viz., that while the second parable runs back into the past, upwards along the line of the Old Testament prophets, the third runs down into the future, into the history of the apostolic times. The two together make up a terrible indictment, which might well have roused these slumbering consciences, and led even scribes and Pharisees to shrink from filling up the measure of their iniquities.

A word may be necessary as to the relation of this parable to the similar one recorded in the fourteenth chapter of St. Luke, known as “The parable of the Great Supper.” The two have many features in common, but the differences are so great that it is plainly wrong to suppose them to be different versions of the same. It: is astonishing to see what needless difficulties some people make for themselves by the utterly groundless assumption that our Lord would never use the same illustration a second time. Why should He not have spoken of. the gospel as a feast, not twice merely, but fifty times? There would, no doubt, be many variations in His manner of unfolding the thought, according to the circumstances, the audience, the particular object in view at the time; but to suppose that because He had used that illustration in Galilee He must be forbidden from reverting to it in Judea is a specimen of what we may call the insanity of those who are ever on the watch for their favourite “discrepancies.” In this case there is not only much variation in detail, but the scope of the two parables is quite different, the former having more the character of a pressing invitation, with only a suggestion of warning at the close; whereas the one before us, while preserving all the grace of the gospel as suggested by the figure of a feast to which men are freely invited, and even heightening its attractiveness inasmuch as it is a wedding feast—the most joyful of all festivities—and a royal one too, yet has throughout the same sad tone of judgment which has been characteristic of all these three parables, and is at once seen to be specially appropriate to the fateful occasion on which they were spoken.

As essentially a New Testament parable, it begins with the familiar formula “The kingdom of heaven is like.” The two previous parables had led up to the new dispensation; but: this one begins with it, and is wholly concerned with it. The King’s Son appears now, not as a messenger, but as a bridegroom. It was not the first time that Jesus had spoken of Himself as a bridegroom, or rather as the Bridegroom. The thought was a familiar one in the prophets of the Old Testament, the Bridegroom, be it remembered, being none other than Jehovah Himself. Consider, then, what it meant that Jesus should without hesitation or explanation. speak of Himself as the Bridegroom. And let. us not imagine that He simply took the figure, and applied it to Himself as fulfilling prophecy; let us not fail to realise that He entered fully into its tender meaning. When we think of the circumstances in which this parable was spoken we have here a most pathetic glimpse into the sanctuary of our Saviour’s loving heart. Let us. try with reverent sympathy to enter into the feeling of the King’s Son, come from heaven to seek humanity for His bride, to woo and to win her from the cruel bondage of sin and death, to take her into union with Himself, so that she may share with Him the liberty and wealth, the purity and joy, the glory and the hope of the heavenly kingdom! The King “made a marriage for His Son”—where is the bride? what response is she making to the Bridegroom’s suit? A marriage for His Son! On Calvary?

It must have been very hard for Him to go on; but He will keep down the rising tide of emotion, that He may set before this people and before all people another attractive picture of the kingdom of heaven. He will give even these despisers of the heavenly grace another opportunity to reconsider their position. So He tells of the invitations sent out first to “them that were bidden”— i.e., to the chosen people who had been especially invited from the earliest times, and to whom, when the fulness of the time had come, the call was first addressed. “And they would not come.” There is no reference to the aggravations which had found place in the former parable. {#Mt 21:39 } These were connected not so much with the offer of grace, which is the main purport of this parable, as with the demand for fruit, which was the leading thought of the one before. It was enough, then, in describing how they dealt with the invitation, to say, “They would not come”; and, indeed, this refusal hurt Him far more than their buffets and their blows. When He is buffeted He is silent, sheds no tears, utters no wail; His tears and lamentation are reserved for them: “How often would I, have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not!” “They would not come.”

But the love of the King and of His Son is not yet exhausted. A second invitation is sent, with greater urgency than before, and with fuller representations of the great preparations which had been made for the entertainment of the guests: “Again, he sent forth other servants, saying, Tell them which are bidden, Behold, I have prepared my dinner: my oxen and my fatlings are killed, and all things are ready: come unto the marriage.” As the first invitation was that which had been already given and which they were now rejecting, the second refers to that fuller proclamation of the gospel which was yet to be made after the work of the Bride-groom-Redeemer should be finished when it could be said, as not before: “All things are ready.”

In the account which follows, therefore, there is a foreshadowing of the treatment the apostles would afterwards receive. Many, indeed, were converted by their word, and took their places at the feast; but the people as a whole “made light of it, and went their ways, one to his farm, another to his merchandise: and the remnant took his servants, and entreated them spitefully, and slew them.” What was the consequence? Jerusalem, rejecting the gospel of the kingdom, even when it was “preached with the Holy Ghost sent down from heaven,” must be destroyed; and new guests must be sought among the nations that up till now had no especial invitation to the feast. This prophetic warning was conveyed in terms of the parable; yet there is a touch in it which shows how strongly the Saviour’s mind was running on the sad future of which the parable was but a picture: “When the king heard thereof, he was wroth: and he sent forth his armies, and destroyed those murderers, and burned up their city.” Why “city”? There had been no mention of a city in the parable. True; but Jerusalem was in the Saviour’s heart, and all the pathos of His lament over it is in that little word. “Their city” too, observe, -reminding us of “your house” at the close of this sad day. {#Mt 23:38 } In the same way the calling of the Gentiles is most skilfully brought within the scope of the parable, by the use of the peculiar word translated in the Revised Version—”the partings of the highways,” which seems to suggest the thought of the servants leaving the city precincts and going out in all directions along the main trunk roads to “the partings of the highways,” to carry the gospel to all without distinction, wherever could be found an ear of man to listen, or a human heart to welcome the King’s grace and the Bridegroom’s love. Thus, after all, the wedding was to be furnished with guests.

The parable, as we have seen, is one of grace; but righteousness too must find a place in it. The demand for fruits of righteousness is no less rigid in the new dispensation than it had been in the old. To make this clear and strong the parable of the Feast is followed by the pendant of the Wedding Garment.

There are two ways in which the heavenly marriage feast may be despised: first, by those who will not come at all; next, and no less, by those who try to snatch the wedding joy without the bridal purity. The same leading thought or motive is recognisable here as in the parable of the two sons. The man without the wedding garment corresponds to the son who said “I go, sir,” and went not, while those who refuse altogether correspond to the son who answered “I will not.” By bearing this in mind we can understand, what to many has been a serious difficulty—how it is that the punishment meted out to the offender in this second parable is so terribly severe. If we simply think of the parable itself, it does seem an extraordinary thing that so slight an offence as coming to a wedding feast without the regulation dress should meet with such an awful doom; but when we consider whom this man represents we can see the very best of reasons for it. Hypocrisy was his crime, than which there is nothing more utterly hateful in the sight of Him Who desireth truth in the inward parts. It is true that the representation does not at first seem to set the sin in so very strong a light; but when we think of it, we see that there was no other way in which it could be brought within the scope of this parable. It is worthy of notice, moreover, that the distinction between the intruder and the others is not observed till the king himself enters, which indicates that the difference between him and the others was no outward distinction, that the garment referred to is the invisible garment of-righteousness. To the common eye he looked like all the rest; but when the all-searching Eye is on the company he is at once detected and exposed. He is really worse than those who would not come at all. They were honest sinners; he was a hypocrite—at the feast with mouth and hand and eye, but not of it, for his spirit isnot robed in white: he is the black sheep in the fold; a despiser within, he is worse than the despisers without.

Even to him, indeed, the king has a kindly feeling. He calls him “Friend,” and gives him yet the opportunity to repent and cry for mercy. But he is speechless. False to the core, he has no rallying point within to fall back upon. All is confusion and despair. He cannot even pray. Nothing remains but to pronounce his final doom (ver. 13).

The words with which the parable closes (ver. 14) are sad and solemn. They have occasioned difficulty to some, who have supposed they were meant to teach that the number of the saved will be small. Their difficulty, like so many others, has been due to forgetfulness of the circumstances under which the words were spoken, and the strong emotion of which they were the expression. Jesus is looking back over the time since He began to spread the gospel feast, and thinking how many have been invited, and how few have come! And even among those who have seemed to come there are hypocrites! One He specially would have in mind as He spoke of the man without the wedding garment; for though we take him to be the type of a class, we can scarcely think that our Lord could fail to let His sad thoughts rest on Judas as He described that man. Taking all this into consideration we can well understand how at that time He should conclude His parable with the lamentation: “Many are called, but few chosen.” It did not follow that it was a truth for all time and for eternity. It was true for the time included in the scope of the parable. It was most sadly true of the Jewish nation then, and in the times which followed on immediately; but the day was coming, before all was done, when the heavenly Bridegroom, according to the sure word of prophecy, should “see of the travail of His soul, and be satisfied.” No creed article, therefore, have we here, but a cry from the sore heart of the heavenly Bridegroom, in the day of His sorrows, in the pain of unrequited love.

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Preceding

Matthew 22:1-6 – The Nazarene’s Commentary: Parable of Invitation to a Marriage

Matthew 22:7-10 – The Nazarene’s Commentary: Invitations after City’s Destruction

Matthew 22:11-13 – The Nazarene’s Commentary: King’s Inspection and Marriage Garments

Matthew 22:14 – The Nazarene’s Commentary: Many Invited – Few Chosen

Matthew 22:15-22 – The Nazarene’s Commentary: Caesar’s Things and God’s Things

Matthew 22:23-28 – The Nazarene’s Commentary: Sadducees Question on the Resurrection

Matthew 22:29-33 – The Nazarene’s Commentary: Resurrection Proof from Moses

Matthew 22:34-40 – The Nazarene’s Commentary: Which Is the Greatest Commandment

Matthew 22:41-46 – The Nazarene’s Commentary: Jesus Asks a Trump Question

Additional readings to Matthew 22:41-46

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Additional reading

  1. Memorizing wonderfully 31 Son of David and God’s Kingdom
  2. Wilderness Transformed

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Related articles

  1. Twentieth week of ordinary time-cycle -I- Thursday-gospel-reading – Matthew 22:1-14
  2. The Lord’s Goodness – Two Souls, One Heart

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