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12. Parables and Teachings
1And he began to speak unto them in parables. A man planted a vineyard, and set a hedge about it, and digged a pit for the winepress, and built a tower, and let it out to husbandmen, and went into another country. 2And at the season he sent to the husbandmen a servant, that he might receive from the husbandmen of the fruits of the vineyard. 3And they took him, and beat him, and sent him away empty. 4And again he sent unto them another servant; and him they wounded in the head, and handled shamefully. 5And he sent another; and him they killed: and many others; beating some, and killing some. 6He had yet one, a beloved son: he sent him last unto them, saying, They will reverence my son. 7But those husbandmen said among themselves, This is the heir; come, let us kill him, and the inheritance shall be ours. 8And they took him, and killed him, and cast him forth out of the vineyard. 9What therefore will the lord of the vineyard do? he will come and destroy the husbandmen, and will give the vineyard unto others. 10Have ye not read even this scripture:
The stone which the builders rejected,
The same was made the head of the corner;
11This was from the Lord,
And it is marvellous in our eyes?
12And they sought to lay hold on him; and they feared the multitude; for they perceived that he spake the parable against them: and they left him, and went away. 13And they send unto him certain of the Pharisees and of the Herodians, that they might catch him in talk. 14And when they were come, they say unto him, Teacher, we know that thou art true, and carest not for any one; for thou regardest not the person of men, but of a truth teachest the way of God: Is it lawful to give tribute unto Caesar, or not? 15Shall we give, or shall we not give? But he, knowing their hypocrisy, said unto them, Why make ye trial of me? bring me a denarius, 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 said unto them, Render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar's, and unto God the things that are God's. And they marvelled greatly at him. 18And there come unto him Sadducees, who say that there is no resurrection; and they asked him, saying, 19Teacher, Moses wrote unto us, If a man's brother die, and leave a wife behind him, and leave no child, that his brother should take his wife, and raise up seed unto his brother. 20There were seven brethren: and the first took a wife, and dying left no seed; 21and the second took her, and died, leaving no seed behind him; and the third likewise: 22and the seven left no seed. Last of all the woman also died. 23In the resurrection whose wife shall she be of them? for the seven had her to wife. 24Jesus said unto them, Is it not for this cause that ye err, that ye know not the scriptures, nor the power of God? 25For when they shall rise from the dead, they neither marry, nor are given in marriage; but are as angels in heaven. 26But as touching the dead, that they are raised; have ye not read in the book of Moses, in the place concerning the Bush, how God spake unto him, saying, I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob? 27He is not the God of the dead, but of the living: ye do greatly err. 28And one of the scribes came, and heard them questioning together, and knowing that he had answered them well, asked him, What commandment is the first of all? 29Jesus answered, The first is, Hear, O Israel; The Lord our God, the Lord is one: 30and 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. 31The second is this, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these. 32And the scribe said unto him, Of a truth, Teacher, thou hast well said that he is one; and there is none other but he: 33and to love him with all the heart, and with all the understanding, and with all the strength, and to love his neighbor as himself, is much 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, as he taught in the temple, How say the scribes that the Christ is the son of David? 36David himself said in the Holy Spirit,
The Lord said unto my Lord,
Sit thou on my right hand,
Till I make thine enemies the footstool of thy feet.
37David himself calleth him Lord; and whence is he his son? And the common people heard him gladly. 38And in his teaching he said, Beware of the scribes, who desire to walk in long robes, and to have salutations in the marketplaces, 39and chief seats in the synagogues, and chief places at feasts: 40they that devour widows' houses, and for a pretence make long prayers; these shall receive greater condemnation. 41And he sat down over against the treasury, and beheld how the multitude cast money into the treasury: and many that were rich cast in much. 42And there came a poor widow, and she cast in two mites, which make a farthing. 43And he called unto him his disciples, and said unto them, Verily I say unto you, This poor widow cast in more than all they that are casting into the treasury: 44for they all did cast in of their superfluity; but she of her want did cast in all that she had, even all her living.
The Question of the Sadducees.
18 Then come unto him the Sadducees, which say there is no resurrection; and they asked him, saying, 19 Master, 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. 20 Now there were seven brethren: and the first took a wife, and dying left no seed. 21 And the second took her, and died, neither left he any seed: and the third likewise. 22 And the seven had her, and left no seed: last of all the woman died also. 23 In the resurrection therefore, when they shall rise, whose wife shall she be of them? for the seven had her to wife. 24 And 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.
The Sadducees, who were the deists of that age, here attack our Lord Jesus, it should seem, not as the scribes, and Pharisees, and chief-priests, with any malicious design upon his person; they were not bigots and persecutors, but sceptics and infidels, and their design was upon his doctrine, to hinder the spreading of that: they denied that there was any resurrection, and world of spirits, any state of rewards and punishments on the other side of death: now those great and fundamental truths which they denied, Christ had made it his business to establish and prove, and had carried the notion of them much further that ever it was before carried; and therefore they set themselves to perplex his doctrine.
I. See here the method they take to entangle it; they quote the ancient law, by which, if a man died without issue, his brother was obliged to marry his widow, v. 19. They suppose a case to happen that, according to that law, seven brothers were, successively, the husbands of one woman, v. 20. Probably, these Sadducees, according to their wonted profaneness, intended hereby to ridicule that law, and so to bring the whole frame of the Mosaic institution into contempt, as absurd and inconvenient in the practice of it. Those who deny divine truths, commonly set themselves to disparage divine laws and ordinances. But this was only by the by; their design was to expose the doctrine of the resurrection; for they suppose that if there be a future state, it must be such a one as this, and then the doctrine, they think, is clogged either with this invincible absurdity, that a woman in that state must have seven husbands, or else with this insolvable difficulty, whose wife must she be. See with what subtlety these heretics undermine the truth; they do not deny it, nor say, There can be no resurrection; nay, they do not seem to doubt of it, nor say, If there be a resurrection, whose wife shall she be? as the devil to Christ, If thou be the Son of God. But, as though these beasts of the field were more subtle than the serpent himself, they pretend to own the truth, as if they were not Sadducees, no not they; who said that they denied the resurrection? They take it for granted that there is a resurrection, and would be thought to desire instruction concerning it, when really they are designing to give a fatal stab, and think that they shall do it. Note, It is the common artifice of heretics and Sadducees to perplex and entangle the truth, which they have not the impudence to deny.
II. See here the method Christ takes to clear and establish this truth, which they attempted to darken, and give a shock to. This was a matter of moment, and therefore Christ does not pass it over lightly, but enlarges upon it, that, if they should not be reclaimed, yet others might be confirmed.
1. He charges the Sadducees with error, and charges that upon their ignorance. They who banter the doctrine of the resurrection as some do in our age, would be thought the only knowing men, because the only free thinkers, when really they are the fools in Israel, and the most enslaved and, prejudiced thinkers in the world. Do ye not therefore err? Ye cannot but be sensible of it yourselves, and that the cause of your error is, (1.) Because ye do not know the scriptures. Not but that the Sadducees had read the scriptures, and perhaps were ready in them; yet they might be truly said not to know the scriptures, because they did not know the sense and meaning of them, but put false constructions upon them; or they did not receive the scriptures as the word of God, but set up their own corrupt reasonings in opposition to the scripture, and would believe nothing but what they could see. Note, 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. Keep the truth, the scripture-truth, and it shall keep thee. (2.) Because ye know not the power of God. They could not but know that God is almighty, but they would not apply that doctrine to this matter, but gave up the truth to the objections of the impossibility of it, which would all have been answered, if they had but stuck to the doctrine of God's omnipotence, to which nothing is impossible. This therefore which God hath spoken once, we are concerned to hear twice, to hear and believe, to hear and apply—that power belongs to God, Ps. lxii. 11; Rom. iv. 19-21. The same power that made soul and body and preserved them while they were together, can preserve the body safe, and the soul active, when they are parted, and can unite them together again; for behold, the Lord's arm is not shortened. The power of God, seen in the return of the spring (Ps. civ. 30), in the reviving of the corn (John xii. 24), in the restoring of an abject people to their prosperity (Ezek. xxxvii. 12-14), in the raising of so many to life, miraculously, both in the Old Testament and in the New, and especially in the resurrection of Christ (Eph. i. 19, 20), are all earnests of our resurrection by the same power (Phil. iii. 21); according to the mighty working whereby he is able to subdue all things to himself.
2. He sets aside all the force of their objection, by setting the doctrine of the future state in a true light (v. 25); When they shall rise from the dead, they neither marry, nor are given in marriage. It is a folly to ask, Whose wife shall she be of the seven? For the relation between husband and wife, though instituted in the earthly paradise, will not be known in the heavenly one. Turks and infidels expect sensual pleasures in their fools' paradise, but Christians know better things—that flesh and blood shall not inherit the kingdom of God (1 Cor. xv. 50); and expect better things—even a full satisfaction in God's love and likeness (Ps. xvii. 15); they are as the angels of God in heaven, and we know that they have neither wives nor children. It is no wonder if we confound ourselves with endless absurdities, when we measure our ideas of the world of spirits by the affairs of this world of sense.
III. He builds the doctrine of the future state, and of the blessedness of the righteous in that state, upon the covenant of God with Abraham, which God was pleased to own, being after Abraham's death, v. 26, 27. He appeals to the scriptures; Have ye not read in the book of Moses? We have some advantage in dealing with those that have read the scriptures, though many that have read them, wrest them, as these Sadducees did, to their own destruction. Now that which he refers them to is, what God says to Moses at the bush, I am the God of Abraham; not only, I was so, but I am so; I am the portion and happiness of Abraham, a God all-sufficient to him. Note, It is absurd to think that God's relation to Abraham should be continued, and thus solemnly recognised, if Abraham was annihilated, or that the living God should be the portion and happiness of a man that is dead, and must be for ever so; and therefore you must conclude, 1. That Abraham's soul exists and acts as a state of separation from the body. 2. That therefore, some time or other, the body must rise again; for there is such an innate inclination in a human soul towards its body, as would make a total and everlasting separation inconsistent with the ease and repose, much more with the bliss and joy of those souls that have the Lord for their God. Upon the whole matter, he concludes, Ye therefore do greatly err. Those that deny the resurrection, greatly err, and ought to be told so.