The parable of the vineyard and husbandmen. (1-12) Question
about tribute. (13-17) Concerning the resurrection. (18-27) The
great command of the law. (28-34) Christ the Son and yet the
Lord of David. (35-40) The poor widow commended. (41-44)
Christ showed in parables, that he would lay aside the
Jewish church. It is sad to think what base usage God's faithful
ministers have met with in all ages, from those who have enjoyed
the privileges of the church, but have not brought forth fruit
answerable. God at length sent his Son, his Well-beloved; and it
might be expected that he whom their Master loved, they also
should respect and love; but instead of honouring him because he
was the Son and Heir, they therefore hated him. But the
exaltation of Christ was the Lord's doing; and it is his doing
to exalt him in our hearts, and to set up his throne there; and
if this be done, it cannot but be marvellous in our eyes. The
Scriptures, and faithful preachers, and the coming of Christ in
the flesh, call on us to render due praise to God in our lives.
Let sinners beware of a proud, carnal spirit; if they revile or
despise the preachers of Christ, they would have done so their
Master, had they lived when he was upon earth.
The enemies of Christ would be thought desirous to know
their duty, when really they hoped that which soever side he
took of the question, they might find occasion to accuse him.
Nothing is more likely to insnare the followers of Christ, than
bringing them to meddle with disputes about worldly politics.
Jesus avoided the snare, by referring to the submission they had
already made as a nation; and all that heard him, marvelled at
the great wisdom of his answer. Many will praise the words of a
sermon, who will not be commanded by the doctrines of it.
A right knowledge of the Scripture, as the fountain
whence all revealed religion now flows, and the foundation on
which it is built, is the best preservative against error.
Christ put aside the objection of the Sadducees, who were the
scoffing infidels of that day, by setting the doctrine of the
future state in a true light. The relation between husband and
wife, though appointed in the earthly paradise, will not be
known in the heavenly one. It is no wonder if we confuse
ourselves with foolish errors, when we form our ideas of the
world of spirits by the affairs of this world of sense. It is
absurd to think that the living God should be the portion and
happiness of a man if he is for ever dead; and therefore it is
certain that Abraham's soul exists and acts, though now for a
time separate from the body. Those that deny the resurrection
greatly err, and ought to be told so. Let us seek to pass
through this dying world, with a joyful hope of eternal
happiness, and of a glorious resurrection.
Those who sincerely desire to be taught their duty,
Christ will guide in judgment, and teach his way. He tells the
scribe that the great commandment, which indeed includes all,
is, that of loving God with all our hearts. Wherever this is the
ruling principle in the soul, there is a disposition to every
other duty. Loving God with all our heart, will engage us to
every thing by which he will be pleased. The sacrifices only
represented the atonements for men's transgressions of the moral
law; they were of no power except as they expressed repentance
and faith in the promised Saviour, and as they led to moral
obedience. And because we have not thus loved God and man, but
the very reverse, therefore we are condemned sinners; we need
repentance, and we need mercy. Christ approved what the scribe
said, and encouraged him. He stood fair for further advance; for
this knowledge of the law leads to conviction of sin, to
repentance, to discovery of our need of mercy, and understanding
the way of justification by Christ.
When we attend to what the Scriptures declare, as to the
person and offices of Christ, we shall be led to confess him as
our Lord and God; to obey him as our exalted Redeemer. If the
common people hear these things gladly, while the learned and
distinguished oppose, the former are happy, and the latter to be
pitied. And as sin, disguised with a show of piety, is double
iniquity, so its doom will be doubly heavy.
Let us not forget that Jesus still sees the treasury. He
knows how much, and from what motives, men give to his cause. He
looks at the heart, and what our views are, in giving alms; and
whether we do it as unto the Lord, or only to be seen of men. It
is so rare to find any who would not blame this widow, that we
cannot expect to find many who will do like to her; and yet our
Saviour commends her, therefore we are sure that she did well
and wisely. The feeble efforts of the poor to honour their
Saviour, will be commended in that day, when the splendid
actions of unbelievers will be exposed to contempt.