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21 :27

We do not know." They did not know, they, the masters of Israel, they, who arrogated to themselves the right to interpret everything, to judge everything, to distinguish the inspired prophet from the deceiver. They could not say what the man was whose voice had stirred Judea, and drawn to the Jordan, not only the ignorant crowd, but the doctors and the great men. What great humiliation in such a confession, and so their confusion was such Jesus contented himself with answering them :

“ Nor will I tell you by what authority I am doing these things.”

See also note on S. Mark II : 33.

21 : 28.

A man had two sons." This parable is severe, indeed, against the Pharisaic spirit, but full of precious truth as regards the Kingdom of God. It tells us what we have perhaps already learned but cannot too often hear again. It tells us the Kingdom of God is open to all comers no matter who or what they have heretofore been. It tells us there is hope even for the most depraved of the sons and daughters of men. It tells us that so far from their case being desperate, there are the greatest possibilities for good in them. Yes, it tells us more. It tells us the Kingdom of God was never designed for any clique or class of men. For a kingdom that can go so far as to invite publicans and harlots into the fullest fellowship of its communion must of course be prepared to go to the ends of the earth in quest of citizens. In this parable then as in so many others spoken by Jesus, there is a latent Christian universalism. It is a parable of judgment, indeed, to all so long as they remain insincere or hollow hearted. It is a parable of grace to all on the other hand so soon as they turn from their sins and walk in newness of life.


21 : 33–38.
There was

man who was an employer," etc. See notes on S. Mark 12:1-7. 22:4.

He again sent out other slaves." The invitation is repeated to make the King's patience conspicuous. By this second invitation, the latent hostility of his subjects is exhibited and their persistent refusal is seen to be utterly without excuse.

He saw there a man who had no wedding garment on.

What is the fault of the man without a wedding garment? It's the fault most natural to one of his class, not the fault of self-conceit or the ant of loyalty of feeling but the fault of unmannerliness, a want of thought and refinement of feeling. It is a fault such as Paul speaks of as the fault of unregenerate faith, a sinning because grace abounds.

Jesus here takes occasion to enter a protest against the licentious abuse of grace. He ever gives great prominence to the gracious character of the Kingdom of God. Yet he is as ever zealous for its righteousness. He sets forth the Kingdom as a Kingdom of grace only because it is as well a Kingdom of true righteousness. For the procla mation of the Kingdom as a Kingdom of free grace has always been the best way to proclaim its holiness. The grace of God offered to the chief of sinners and accepted in a right spirit by him has always made him the chief of saints. Much forgiveness always produces much love.

The parable of the Wedding Garment should therefore teach us that while the Kingdom of God is always and in every way a Kingdom of free grace, yet the recipients must live worthy of their privileges. The wedding garment stands for Christian holiness. This, all believers must sedulously cultivate.


Throw him out into the outer darkness. There will be the weeping,etc.

The severity of the punishment here meted out to this man naturally tempts us to make his fault appear as aggravated as possible. We are inclined to lay stress on every word that can be supposed to imply deliberate purpose to offend. But instead of thus attempting to magnify the offender's criminality it is better to realize the solemn truth that even sins of thoughtlessness are no light matter in those who bear the Christian name.

This man has never been accustomed to restraint. His fault lies in the fact that he dares to enter thoughtlessly into the presence of his king without taking heed to his unmannerly ways.

The royal wrath and the order which it issues are meant to convey to our minds far more than picturesque significance. They rather tell us plainly that a heedless life on the part of a believer may be attended with the direst consequences.

The story of Esau and his birthright and the story of the children of Israel in the wilderness are the best possible commentaries on the command of the king. Unbelief on the part of those who have participated in the grace of God, murmuring and hankering after forbidden things, inevitably draw their punishment after them. There will be the weeping and gnashing of teeth.”

See also notes on S. Mark 9:43, 44, 47.


Master, we know you are true," etc. See notes on S. Mark 12:13, 14, 17.

22:23-33. “ That day the Sadducees came to him," who say there is no resurrection.

See notes on S. Mark 12:18–27.

22 : 34-40.

Master, which is the great commandment in the law ?

See notes on S. Mark 12 : 28–34, and S. Luke 10: 25-30.


If then David call Him Lord, how is he his


See note on S. Mark 12:37.

23:2. The Scribes and Pharisees sit in Moses' seat."

“Sit in Moses' seat : ” that is to say, they are invested with a sacred character of authority and it is necessary to obey their precepts as those of Moses. Truth spoken by a bad man is truth all the same.

See also note on S. Mark 12:28.

The Scribes and Pharisees have again provoked our Lord to speak with vehemence and with power. He does it in this chapter in a highly wrought parallelism and with most biting sarcasm. Yet he does not come to a close before he gives utterance to his feelings for the people as a whole in most touching pathos.

The whole discourse is divided into three main divisions. The first and the third are divided into three stanzas each, the second or central division is divided into three times three or nine stanzas.

This second or central division is one of the finest examples of the higher parallelism to be found.

The first and second woes are each followed by a stanza in reversed parallelism and are, to each other as strophe and antistrophe.

The third woe is followed by two stanzas in reversed parallelism with an interjected You blind fools! They are to each other as strophe and antistrophe.

The fourth woe is followed by a stanza in reversed parallelism, but instead of having, You blind guides ! in

terjected, it comes at the end with an enlargement, You strain out a gnat and swallow a camel.

This stanza is strophe to the antistrophe which follows the fifth woe.

The sixth and seventh woes are followed by stanzas which are as strophe and antistrophe to each other.

In this discourse as a whole there are two remarkable features yet to be enumerated. I refer to the seven times expressed woes, and the four pairs of stanzas of strophic and antistrophic arrangement.

23:5. They make broad their phylacteries.

Phylactery means memorial of the law of the Lord.” Interpreting literally certain passages of the Pentateuch in which they are commanded to have the law always before their eyes, the Jews wrote some of its maxims upon small bands of parchment which they attached to the left arm and in front. The Pharisees pretended to carry larger phylacteries than ordinary people.

23:9. Do not call any one Father on earth.

Jesus means here to warn men against so recognizing the fatherhood of men as to forget the Fatherhood of God. Even the teacher and apostle who is as such a father to men needs to remember that he is but a “ little child ” in his relation to God. This prohibition has no reference to the custom of giving men titles. It is simply spoken against the tendency of men,

range themselves in parties with their peculiar shibboleths and attachments to some particular leader. In Paul's first Epistle to the Corinthians we see the first recorded instance of this tendency in the Church. “I am of Paul,” “I am of Apollos,” “I am of Cephas,” we find these partisans saying. This is what our Lord here is speaking against. To own


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