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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.
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.