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THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO MATTHEW - Chapter 17 - Verse 27

Verse 27. Notwithstanding, lest we should offend them. That is, lest they should think that we despise the temple and its service, and thus provoke needless opposition, though we are not under obligation to pay it, yet it is best to pay it to them.

Go thou to the sea. This was at Capernaum, on the shore of the sea of Tiberias.

Thou shalt find a piece of money. In the original, thou shalt find a stater, a Roman silver coin of the value of four drachms, or one shekel, and of course sufficient to pay the tribute for two, himself and Peter. In whatever way this is regarded, it is proof that Jesus was possessed of Divine attributes. If he knew that the first fish that came up would have such a coin in his mouth, it was proof of omniscience. If he created the coin for the occasion, and placed it there, then it was proof of Divine power. The former is the most probable supposition. It is by no means absurd that a fish should have swallowed a silver coin. Many of them bite eagerly at anything bright, and would not hesitate, therefore, at swallowing a piece of money.

{t} "offend" Ro 14:21; 15:1-3; 2 Co 6:3

{2} "stater", "which was half an ounce of silver"

 

REMARKS ON MATTHEW CHAPTER 17

(1.) Secret prayer should be practised alone, or apart from others, Mt 17:1 Christ often went into deserts, and on mountains, that he might be by himself. This should be done,

1st, to avoid the appearance of ostentation;

2nd, pride is easily excited when we know that others hear us pray. Every one should have some place—some closet-to which he may retire daily, with the assurance that none sees him but God. See Barnes "Mt 6:6".

 

(2.) In such seasons we shall meet God, Mt 17:2. It was in such season that the Divine favour was peculiarly shown to Christ.— Then the transfiguration took place—the brightest manifestation of his glory that ever occurred on earth. So the clearest and most precious manifestations of the love and glory of God will be made to us in prayer.

(3.) We see the great glory of Christ, Mt 17:2. No such favour had been granted to any prophet before him. We see the regard in which he was held by Moses and Elias—among the greatest of the prophets. We see the honour which God put on him, exalting him far above them both, Mt 17:5. The glory of heaven encompasses the Lord Jesus, and all its redeemed pay him reverence. In him the Divine nature shines illustriously; and of him and to him the Divinity speaks in glory, as the only begotten Son of God.

(4.) It is right to have particular affection for some Christians more than others, at the same time that we should love them all. Christ loved all his disciples; but he admitted some to peculiar friendship and favours, Mt 17:1. Some Christians may be more congenial to us in feeling, age, and education, than others; and it is proper, and may be greatly to our advantage, to admit them among our peculiar friends.

(5.) The death of Jesus is an object of great interest to the redeemed. Moses and Elias talked of it, Lu 9:30,31. Angels also desire to look into this great subject, 1 Pe 1:12. By that death, all the redeemed are saved; and in that death the angels see the most signal display of the justice and love of God.

(6.) Christians should delight to be where God has manifested his glory. The feeling of Peter was natural, Mt 17:4: His love of the glorious presence of Christ and the redeemed was right. He erred only in the manner of manifesting that love. We should always love the house of prayer—the sanctuary—and the place where Christ has manifested himself as peculiarly glorious and precious to our souls, or as peculiarly our Friend and Deliverer.

(7.) We need not be afraid of the most awful displays of Deity, if Christ be with us, Mt 17:7. Were we alone, we should fear. None could see God and live; for he is a consuming fire, Heb 12:29. But with Jesus for our Friend we may go confidently down to death; we may meet him at his awful bar; we may dwell in the full splendours of his presence to all eternity.

(8.) Saints at death are taken to happiness, and live now in glory, Mt 17:3. Moses and Elias were not created anew, but came as they were. They came from heaven, and returned thither. The spirits of all men live, therefore, in happiness or woe after the body is dead.

(9.) It is not unreasonable to suppose that saints may have some knowledge of what is done here on earth. Moses and Elias appear to have been acquainted with the fact that Jesus was about to die at Jerusalem.

(10.) The Scriptures will be fulfilled. The fulfillment may take place when we little know it; or in events that we should not suppose were intended for a fulfillment, Mt 17:12.

(11.) Erroneous teachers will endeavour to draw us away from the truth, Mr 9:14. They will do it by art, and caution, and the appearance of calm inquiry. We should always be on our guard against any teachers appearing to call in question what Christ has plainly taught us.

(12.) Mr 9:15. Christ, in his word, and by his Spirit, is a safe Teacher. When men are suggesting plausible doubts about doctrine, or attempting to unsettle our minds by cavils and inquiry, we should leave them, and apply by prayer, and by searching the Bible, to Christ, the great Prophet, who is the way, the truth, and the life.

(13.) Parents should be earnest for the welfare of their children, Mt 17:15. It is right for them to pray to God in times of sickness, that he would heal them. Miracles are not to be expected; but God only can bless the means which parents use for their sick and afflicted children.

(14.) Parents may do much by faith and prayer for their children. Here the faith of the parent was the means of saving the life of the child, Mt 17:14-18. So the faith of parents—a faith producing diligent instruction—a holy example, and much prayer, may be the means of saving their souls. God will not indeed save them on account of the faith of the parent; but the holy life of a father and mother may be the means of training up their children for heaven.

(15.) It is proper to pray to Jesus to increase our faith, Mr 9:24. We may be sensible of our unbelief; may feel that we deserve condemnation, and that we deserve no favour that is usually bestowed on faith; but we may come to him, and implore of him an increase of faith, and thus obtain the object of our desires.

(16.) Our unbelief hinders our doing much that we might do, Mt 17:20. We shrink from great difficulties, we fail in great duties, because we do not put confidence in God, who is able to help us. The proper way to live a life of religion and peace, is to do just what God requires of us, depending on his grace to aid us.

(17.) We see the proper way of increasing our faith, Mt 17:21. It is by much prayer, and self-denial, and fasting. Faith is a plant that never grows in an uncultivated soil, and is never luxuriant, unless it is often exposed to the beams of the Sun of righteousness.

(18.) It is right to weep and mourn over the death of Jesus, Mt 17:23. It was a cruel death; and we should mourn that our best Friend passed through such sufferings. Yet we should rather mourn that our sins were the cause of such bitter sorrows; and that but for our sins, and the sins of the rest of mankind, he might have been always happy.

'Twas you, my sins, my cruel sins,

His chief tormentors were;

Each of my crimes became a nail,

And unbelief the spear.

 

'Twas you that pulled the vengeance down

Upon his guiltless head.

Break, break, my heart! oh burst, mine eyes!

And let my sorrows bleed."

 

(19.) At the same time, we should rejoice that God made his death the source of the richest blessings that ever descended on mankind. He rose and brought life and immortality to light, Mt 17:23.

(20.) We should comply with all the requirements of the laws of the laid, if not contrary to the law of God. It is important that governments should be supported, Mt 17:26. See also Ro 13:1-7.

(21.) We should also be willing to contribute our just proportion to the support of the institutions of religion. The tribute which Jesus paid here by a miracle was for the support of religion in the temple, Mt 17:24-27. Jesus understood of how much value are the institutions of religion to the welfare of man. He worked a miracle, therefore, to make a voluntary offering to support religion. Religion promotes the purity, peace, intelligence, and order of the community, and every man is therefore under obligation to do his part towards its support. If any man doubts this, he has only to go to the places where there is no religion—among scoffers, and thieves, and adulterers, and prostitutes, and pickpockets, and drunkards. No money is ever lost that goes in any way to suppress these vices.

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