Commentary Critical and Explanatory
on the Whole Bible
For the exposition, see on
HEALING OF A
The time of this section is sufficiently denoted by the events which all
the narratives show to have immediately preceded it--the first explicit
announcement of His death, and the transfiguration--both being between
His third and His fourth and last Passover.
Healing of the Demoniac and Lunatic Boy
For the exposition of this portion, see on
Second Announcement of His Death
(Mt 17:22, 23).
22. And while they abode in Galilee, Jesus said unto them--Mark
as usual, is very precise here: "And they departed thence"--that is,
from the scene of the last miracle--"and passed through Galilee; and He
would not that any man should know it." So this was not a preaching,
but a private, journey through Galilee. Indeed, His public ministry in
Galilee was now all but concluded. Though He sent out the Seventy after
this to preach and heal, He Himself was little more in public there,
and He was soon to bid it a final adieu. Till this hour arrived, He was
chiefly occupied with the Twelve, preparing them for the coming events.
The Son of man shall be betrayed into the hands of men . . . And they
were exceeding sorry--Though the shock would not be so great as at the
(Mt 16:21, 22),
their "sorrow" would not be the less, but probably the greater, the
deeper the intelligence went down into their hearts, and a new wave
dashing upon them by this repetition of the heavy tidings. Accordingly,
(Lu 9:43, 44),
connecting it with the scene of the miracle just recorded, and the
teaching which arose out of it--or possibly with all His recent
teaching--says our Lord forewarned the Twelve that they would soon
stand in need of all that teaching: "But while they wondered every one
at all things which Jesus did, He said unto His disciples, Let these
sayings sink down into your ears; for the Son of man shall be
delivered," &c.: "Be not carried off your feet by the grandeur you have
lately seen in Me, but remember what I have told you, and now tell you
again, that that Sun in whose beams ye now rejoice is soon to set in
midnight gloom." Remarkable is the antithesis in those words of our
Lord preserved in all the three narratives--"The son of man
shall be betrayed into the hands of men." Luke adds
that "they understood not this saying, and it was hid from them, that
they perceived it not"--for the plainest statements, when they
encounter long-continued and obstinate prejudices, are seen through a
distorting and dulling medium--"and were afraid to ask Him"; deterred
partly by the air of lofty sadness with which doubtless these sayings
were uttered, and on which they would be reluctant to break in, and
partly by the fear of laying themselves open to rebuke for their
shallowness and timidity. How artless is all this!
The time of this section is evidently in immediate succession to that of
the preceding one. The brief but most pregnant incident which it records
is given by Matthew alone--for whom, no doubt, it would have a peculiar
interest, from its relation to his own town and his own familiar lake.
24. And when they were come to Capernaum, they that received tribute
money--the double drachma; a sum equal to two Attic drachmas, and
corresponding to the Jewish "half-shekel," payable, towards the
maintenance of the temple and its services, by every male Jew of twenty
years old and upward. For the origin of this annual tax, see
Ex 30:13, 14;
2Ch 24:6, 9.
Thus, it will be observed, it was not a civil, but an ecclesiastical
tax. The tax mentioned in
was a civil one. The whole teaching of this very remarkable scene
depends upon this distinction.
came to Peter--at whose house Jesus probably resided while at
Capernaum. This explains several things in the narrative.
and said, Doth not your master pay tribute?--The question seems to
imply that the payment of this tax was voluntary, but expected;
or what, in modern phrase, would be called a "voluntary assessment."
25. He saith, yes--that is, "To be sure He does"; as if eager to remove
even the suspicion of the contrary. If Peter knew--as surely he
did--that there was at this time no money in the bag, this reply must be
regarded as a great act of faith in his Master.
And when he was come into the house--Peter's.
Jesus prevented him--anticipated him; according to the old sense of
the word "prevent."
saying, What thinkest thou, Simon?--using his family name for
of whom do the kings of the earth take custom--meaning custom on goods
exported or imported.
or tribute--meaning the poll-tax, payable to the Romans by everyone
whose name was in the census. This, therefore, it will be observed, was
strictly a civil tax.
of their own children, or of strangers--This cannot mean "foreigners,"
from whom sovereigns certainly do not raise taxes, but those who are not
of their own family, that is, their subjects.
26. Peter saith unto him, Of strangers--"of those not their children."
Jesus saith unto him, Then are the children free--By "the children"
our Lord cannot here mean Himself and the Twelve together, in some loose
sense of their near relationship to God as their common Father. For
besides that our Lord never once mixes Himself up with His disciples in
speaking of their relation to God, but ever studiously keeps His
relation and theirs apart (see, for example, on the last words of this
chapter)--this would be to teach the right of believers to exemption
from the dues required for sacred services, in the teeth of all that
Paul teaches and that He Himself indicates throughout. He can refer
here, then, only to Himself; using the word "children" evidently in
order to express the general principle observed by sovereigns, who do
not draw taxes from their own children, and thus convey the truth
respecting His own exemption the more strikingly:--namely, "If the
sovereign's own family be exempt, you know the inference in My case"; or
to express it more nakedly than Jesus thought needful and fitting: "This
is a tax for upholding My Father's House. As His Son, then, that tax is
not due by Me--I AM FREE."
27. Notwithstanding, lest we should offend--stumble.
them--all ignorant as they are of My relation to the Lord of the
Temple, and should misconstrue a claim to exemption into indifference to
His honor who dwells in it.
go thou to the sea--Capernaum, it will be remembered, lay on the Sea
and cast an hook, and take up the fish that first cometh up; and when
thou hast opened his mouth, thou shall find a piece of money--a
stater. So it should have been rendered, and not indefinitely, as in our
version, for the coin was an Attic silver coin equal to two of the
afore-mentioned "didrachms" of half a shekel's value, and so, was the
exact sum required for both. Accordingly, the Lord adds,
that take, and give unto them for me and thee--literally, "instead
of Me and thee"; perhaps because the payment was a
redemption of the person paid for
--in which view Jesus certainly was "free." If the house was Peter's,
this will account for payment being provided on this occasion, not for
all the Twelve, but only for him and His Lord. Observe, our Lord does
not say "for us," but "for Me and thee"; thus distinguishing the
Exempted One and His non-exempted disciple.