Study

a Bible passage

Click a verse to see commentary
Select a resource above

12. Parables and Teachings

And he began to speak unto them by parables. A certain man planted a vineyard, and set an hedge about it, and digged a place for the winefat, and built a tower, and let it out to husbandmen, and went into a far country. 2 And at the season he sent to the husbandmen a servant, that he might receive from the husbandmen of the fruit of the vineyard. 3 And they caught him, and beat him, and sent him away empty. 4 And again he sent unto them another servant; and at him they cast stones, and wounded him in the head, and sent him away shamefully handled. 5 And again he sent another; and him they killed, and many others; beating some, and killing some. 6 Having yet therefore one son, his wellbeloved, he sent him also last unto them, saying, They will reverence my son. 7 But those husbandmen said among themselves, This is the heir; come, let us kill him, and the inheritance shall be ours. 8 And they took him, and killed him, and cast him out of the vineyard. 9 What shall therefore the lord of the vineyard do? he will come and destroy the husbandmen, and will give the vineyard unto others. 10 And have ye not read this scripture; The stone which the builders rejected is become the head of the corner: 11 This was the Lord’s doing, and it is marvellous in our eyes? 12And they sought to lay hold on him, but feared the people: for they knew that he had spoken the parable against them: and they left him, and went their way.

13And they send unto him certain of the Pharisees and of the Herodians, to catch him in his words. 14And when they were come, they say unto him, Master, we know that thou art true, and carest for no man: for thou regardest not the person of men, but teachest the way of God in truth: Is it lawful to give tribute to Caesar, or not? 15Shall we give, or shall we not give? But he, knowing their hypocrisy, said unto them, Why tempt ye me? bring me a penny, that I may see it. 16And they brought it. And he saith unto them, Whose is this image and superscription? And they said unto him, Caesar’s. 17And Jesus answering said unto them, Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s. And they marvelled at him.

18Then come unto him the Sadducees, which say there is no resurrection; and they asked him, saying, 19Master, Moses wrote unto us, If a man’s brother die, and leave his wife behind him, and leave no children, that his brother should take his wife, and raise up seed unto his brother. 20Now there were seven brethren: and the first took a wife, and dying left no seed. 21And the second took her, and died, neither left he any seed: and the third likewise. 22And the seven had her, and left no seed: last of all the woman died also. 23In the resurrection therefore, when they shall rise, whose wife shall she be of them? for the seven had her to wife. 24And Jesus answering said unto them, Do ye not therefore err, because ye know not the scriptures, neither the power of God? 25 For when they shall rise from the dead, they neither marry, nor are given in marriage; but are as the angels which are in heaven. 26 And as touching the dead, that they rise: have ye not read in the book of Moses, how in the bush God spake unto him, saying, I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob? 27 He is not the God of the dead, but the God of the living: ye therefore do greatly err.

28And one of the scribes came, and having heard them reasoning together, and perceiving that he had answered them well, asked him, Which is the first commandment of all? 29And Jesus answered him, The first of all the commandments is, Hear, O Israel; The Lord our God is one Lord: 30 And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment. 31 And the second is like, namely this, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these. 32And the scribe said unto him, Well, Master, thou hast said the truth: for there is one God; and there is none other but he: 33And to love him with all the heart, and with all the understanding, and with all the soul, and with all the strength, and to love his neighbour as himself, is more than all whole burnt offerings and sacrifices. 34And when Jesus saw that he answered discreetly, he said unto him, Thou art not far from the kingdom of God. And no man after that durst ask him any question.

35And Jesus answered and said, while he taught in the temple, How say the scribes that Christ is the Son of David? 36 For David himself said by the Holy Ghost, The Lord said to my Lord, Sit thou on my right hand, till I make thine enemies thy footstool. 37 David therefore himself calleth him Lord; and whence is he then his son? And the common people heard him gladly.

38And he said unto them in his doctrine, Beware of the scribes, which love to go in long clothing, and love salutations in the marketplaces, 39 And the chief seats in the synagogues, and the uppermost rooms at feasts: 40 Which devour widows’ houses, and for a pretence make long prayers: these shall receive greater damnation.

41And Jesus sat over against the treasury, and beheld how the people cast money into the treasury: and many that were rich cast in much. 42And there came a certain poor widow, and she threw in two mites, which make a farthing. 43And he called unto him his disciples, and saith unto them, Verily I say unto you, That this poor widow hath cast more in, than all they which have cast into the treasury: 44 For all they did cast in of their abundance; but she of her want did cast in all that she had, even all her living.

There is a difference between Matthew and Mark in their narrative of the withering of the fig tree; for Matthew says that it was on the day after that Christ made a public appearance as King, while Mark appears to throw it back to the following day. 99     “Que le jour ensuyvant les disciples prindrent garde à ce qui estoit advenu à l’arbre;”— “that, on the following day, the disciples took notice of what had happened the tree.” But the solution is easy; for they agree in this respect, that Christ, on the day after that he made his solemn entrance into the city, cursed the tree; only Mark states what Matthew had omitted, that the occurrence was observed by the disciples on the following day., So then, though Mark has stated more distinctly the order of time, he makes no contradiction.

He appears to differ more openly both from Matthew and from Luke in the narrative of chastising the traders; 1010     “En l’histoire des marchans chassez hors du temple;” — “in the narrative of the merchants driven out of the temple.” for while both of them declare that Christ, as soon as he entered into the city and temple, drove out those who sold and bought, Mark simply says that he looked around on all things, but has thrown back the driving of them out till another day. 1111     “Et puis il remet à l’autre jour ensuyvant ceste reformation du temple;” — “and then he throws back to the other following day that reformation of the temple.” But I reconcile them in this way, that Mark, not having spoken about the purifying of the temple, afterwards inserts it, though not in its proper place. He relates that, on the first day, Christ came into the temple, and there looked round on all things. 1212     “Et là regarda tout autour ce qui s’y faisoit;” — “and there looked all around at what was done in it.” Now why did he look so earnestly, except for the purpose of correcting something that was wrong? For, having been formerly accustomed to pay frequent visits to the temple, it was not the novelty of the sight that affected him. Now as Mark ought immediately to have added, that those who sold and bought in the temple were driven out of it, he says that Christ went out of the city; but, having omitted what was worthy of being related, he inserts it afterwards.

But perhaps some will be more inclined to believe that, in this narrative also, Mark observed the order of time, which the other two Evangelists had disregarded; for though they appear to indicate an uninterrupted succession of events, yet as they do not name a particular day, there would be no impropriety in dividing what we find to be connected in their writings. For my own part, however, I prefer the conjecture which I stated first; for it is probable that this demonstration of his power was made by Christ in presence of a large multitude. But any one who will consider how little care the Evangelists bestowed on pointing out dates will not stumble at this diversity in the narrative.

Matthew 21:10. When he entered into Jerusalem. Matthew says that the city was moved, in order to inform us that the transaction did not take place secretly, or by stealth, but in the presence of all the people, and that the priests and scribes were not ignorant of it. Under this despicable aspect of the flesh the majesty of the Spirit was apparent; for how would they have endured that Christ should be conducted into the city, attended by the splendor of royalty, with so great danger to themselves, if they had not been seized with astonishment? The substance of it therefore is, that Christ’s entrance was not made in a private manner, and that his enemies abstained from opposing it, not because they treated him with contempt, but rather because they were restrained by secret fear; for God had struck them with such alarm, that they dare not make any attempt. At the same time, the Evangelist glances at the careless indifference of the city, and commends the piety of those who have just reached it; for when the inhabitants, on hearing the noise, inquire, Who is this? it is manifest that they do not belong to the number of Christ’s followers.

Mark 12:32. Master, thou hast spoken well, and with truth. Mark alone mentions that the scribe was softened down; and it is worthy of notice that, though he had attacked Christ maliciously, and with the intention of taking him by surprise, not only does he silently yield to the latter, but openly and candidly assents to what Christ had said. Thus we see that he did not belong to the class of those enemies whose obstinacy is incurable; for, though they have been a hundred times convinced, yet they do not cease to oppose the truth in some manner. From this reply it may also be concluded, that Christ did not precisely include under these two words the rule of life, but embraced the opportunity which presented itself for reproving the false and hypocritical holiness of the scribes, who, giving their whole attention to outward ceremonies, almost entirely disregarded the spiritual worship of God, and cared little about brotherly kindness. Now though the scribe was infected by such corruptions, yet, as sometimes happens, he had obtained from the Law the seed of right knowledge, which lay choked in his heart, and on that account he easily allows himself to be withdrawn from the wicked custom.

33. Is better than all burnt-offerings and sacrifices. But it appears to be incongruous that sacrifices, which are a part of divine worship, and belong to the first table of the Law, should be reckoned of less importance than charity towards men. The reply is, Though the worship of God is greatly preferable, and is more valuable than all the duties of a holy life, yet its outward exercises ought not to be estimated so highly as to swallow up brotherly kindness. For we know that brotherly kindness, in itself and simply, is pleasing to God, though sacrifices are not regarded by him with delight or approbation, except with a view to another object. Besides, it is naked and empty sacrifices that are here spoken of; for our Lord contrasts a hypocritical appearance of piety with true and sincere uprightness. The same doctrine is to be found very frequently in the prophets, that hypocrites may know that sacrifices are of no value, unless spiritual truth be joined to them, and that God is not appeased by offerings of beasts, where brotherly kindness is neglected.

34. But when Jesus saw. Whether this scribe made any farther progress is uncertain; but as he had shown himself to be teachable, Christ stretches out the hand to him, and teaches us, by his example, that we ought to assist those in whom there is any beginning either of docility or of right understanding. There appear to have been two reasons why Christ declared that this scribe was not far from the kingdom of God. It was because he was easily persuaded to do his duty, and because he skillfully distinguished the outward worship of God from necessary duties. Nor was it so much with the design of praising as of exhorting him, that Christ declared that he was near the kingdom of God; and in his person Christ encourages us all, after having once entered into the right path, to proceed with so much the greater cheerfulness. By these words we are also taught that many, while they are still held and involved in error, advance with closed eyes towards the road, and in this manner are prepared for running in the course of the Lord, when the time arrives.

And after that, no man ventured to put a question to him. The assertion of the Evangelists, that the mouth of adversaries was stopped, so they did not venture any more to lay snares for Christ, must not be so understood as if’ they desisted from their wicked obstinacy; for they groaned within, like wild beasts shut up in their dens, or, like unruly horses, they bit the bridle. But the more hardened their obstinacy, and the more incorrigible their rebellion, so much the more illustrious was Christ’s triumph over both. And this victory, which he obtained, ought greatly to encourage us never to become dispirited in the defense of the truth, being assured of success. It will often happen, indeed, that enemies shall molest and insult us till the end, but God will at length secure that their fury shall recoil on their own heads, and that, in spite of their efforts, truth shall be victorious.

Mark 12:43. Verily I say to you. This reply of Christ contains a highly useful doctrine that whatever men offer to God ought to be estimated not by its apparent value, 122122     “Selon le prix qu’il vaut au monde;” — “according to the price at which it is estimated by the world.” but only by the feeling of the heart, and that the holy affection of him who according to his small means, offers to God the little that he has, is more worthy of esteem than that of him who offers a hundred times more out of his abundance. In two ways this doctrine is useful, for the poor who appear not to have the power of doing good, are encouraged by our Lord not to hesitate to express their affection cheerfully out of their slender means; for if they consecrate themselves, their offering, which appears to be mean and worthless, will not be less valuable than if they had presented all the treasures of Crœsus. 123123     “De Crœsus, lequel on dit avoir esté si riche;” — “of Crœsus, who is said to have been so rich.” — The allusion is to Crœsus, King of Lydia, whose vast wealth was a proverb among the Greeks and Romans. — Ed. On the other hand, those who possess greater abundance, and who have received from God larger communications, are reminded that it is not enough if in the amount of their beneficence they greatly surpass the poor and common people; because it is of less value in the sight of God that a rich man, out of a vast heap, should bestow a moderate sum, than that a poor man, by giving very little, should exhaust his store. This widow must have been a person of no ordinary piety, who, rather than come empty into the presence of God, chose to part with her own living. And our Lord applauds this sincerity, because, forgetting herself, she wished to testify that she and all that she possessed belonged to God. In like manner, the chief sacrifice which God requires from us is self-denial. As to the sacred offerings, it is probable that they were not at that time applied properly, or to lawful purposes; but as the service of the Law was still in force, Christ does not reject them. And certainly the abuses of men could not prevent the sincere worshippers of God from doing what was holy, and in accordance with the command of God, when they offered for sacrifices and other pious uses.


VIEWNAME is study