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Bible Commentaries

L. M. Grant's Commentary on the Bible
Matthew 22

 

 

Verses 1-46

The parable of Chapter 21 has shown Israel as under law, responsible to return to God some results of the blessing with which He had entrusted them. Under responsibility they had not only failed, but had proven themselves rebellious against proper authority. The kingdom of heaven takes on therefore a different character in the present dispensation, no longer that of demanding of men that they give to God what they ought to, but that of God's gracious giving to man what man does not deserve.

However, this is beautifully intermingled with the honour of the Son of God. For the king here is seen to provide a wedding feast for his son, not primarily for the guests. God is above all honouring His Son; yet guests are invited to share with Him in giving their honour to Him also, though they are the recipients of the feast that is given altogether freely. Those who were invited are plainly the Jewish nation, who had been foretold In Old Testament scriptures of this great blessing of God to be brought to them by the advent of their Messiah, the Son of God.

The first servants sent to call them are those who companied with the Lord Himself, bearing witness of His own truth and grace. But these who had refused to respond to God's rights in requiring obedience to law were just as callous in refusing His great kindness in dealing toward them in grace. They would not come.

After verse 3 the cross intervenes, for the "other servants" are those sent to Israel in the first seven chapters of Acts, their message being that the dinner is already prepared, the oxen and fatlings killed, which infers the sacrifice of Christ having totally prepared salvation for His people, so they need only to receive it, and are urged to do so. But despising the second message of grace, one goes to his farm, just as Jews have chosen the works of their own hands rather than God's provision of grace. Another Chooses his merchandise, a means of earthly gain rather then heavenly riches. These things have characterized Israel from that day. The rest bitterly persecuted God's servants, even to the point of killing them. This is plainly fulfilled in the book of Acts.

In anger the king metes out a just recompense. It was the Roman armies that God sent against the land, destroying Israel's murderous authorities and burning up the city of Jerusalem in the year 70A.D.

The message then goes out to all who may be found. Israel's rejection gives occasion to the gospel being proclaimed world-wide, with its unlimited invitation the servants respond, however, not with simply giving the invitation, but by gathering together all they could find. Many have found it more palatable to form a denominational organization and gather people into this, rather than to present the gospel invitation that will bring souls directly to the Lord . Of course, this is not actual obedience to the Lord's commission, the result being a mixture of believers and unbelievers. Such is the condition of the kingdom of heaven today.

The king therefore in his coming sees a man without a wedding garment. This was an actual insult to the king, for a wedding garment was furnished by the host when the invitation was given. One's neglecting to wear it was an affront to the best. The garment speaks of Christ our righteousness, for only "in Christ" is anyone acceptable in God's presence. The man, being questioned, has no answer. When the Lord judges, no one will dare to open his mouth in self-defence.

The sentence is dreadfully solemn: bound hand and foot, he is cast into outer darkness. His callous attitude toward the King determines his banishment from the King's presence, Which must be total darkness, for in Christ only is true light. Weeping indicates the remorse of this deserved torment; while gnashing Of tooth shows a rebellious will that stubbornly refuses to yield.

Though the parable the Lord but spoken at the beginning of this chapter was one of manifest grace, the opposition of the Pharisees only smoulders more strongly against Him. They plot together to entangle Him in His speaking, but succeed only in entangling themselves. Though usually not friendly with the Herodians, they will enlist their help against the Lord. Both were opposed to Him, yet t hey bear witness to the fact that He is true, teaching the way of God in truth, and not influenced by the persons of men nor by their Mere opinions. Of course they say this because they want to ensnare Him by flattery, and He certainly knew well their wickedness. No doubt they wanted Him to declare that it was not lawful to give tribute to Caesar, so that this would give them occasion to accuse Him before the Roman authorities. Yet they themselves hated the thought of giving tribute to Caesar.

He does not hesitate to call them hypocrites, and asks them to show Him the tribute money. They have to acknowledge that it bears Caesar's image and superscription, an evidence that Israel was under bondage to Rome. Of course it was for their own sin that God had allowed this, though their pride resented it. But they must learn to bow to their own shame. His answer is as simple as it is wise: "Render therefore unto Caesar the things which are Caesar's," but He adds what strikes hard at their calloused consciences, "and to God the things which are God's." They were guilty of ignoring this, and God had allowed Caesar's oppression with the object of awakening their consciences as to God's claims.

Pharisees and Herodians being put to silence (and marvelling), the Sadducees come in childish self-confidence with a question they are sure will prove the Lord's teaching to be false, and establish their own evil contention that there is no resurrection. They propose a most unlikely case, using as a basis the provision in the law for one's marrying his brother's wife (if his brother had died) to raise up children in his brother's name (Deuteronomy 25:5). If seven brothers in succession had married a woman, all dying without children, then they think the Lord is in a hopeless predicament as to which brother would have the woman in the resurrection.

His answer is most simple, but He presses on them first the error of their own thoughts, due to their ignorance of the word of God and of the power of God. They were limiting God to the confines of their own narrow conceptions, as though in resurrection God must return man to conditions identical with such as prevail at present. Among other Old Testament scriptures, Isaiah 64:4 would have at least reproved their narrow thoughts. He tells them that in the resurrection marriage has no Place. Just as among the angels there is no question of difference in sex, so it will be in resurrection life. For resurrection introduces a totally new condition of things.

Then He refers them to the words of God in scripture as clear, Positive proof that there must be a resurrection of the dead. After Abraham, Isaac and Jacob had died God spoke of Himself as their God, not that He was their God, but "I am" (Exodus 3:6). God is not the God of the dead, but of the living: therefore these men are living,--not their bodies, of course, but their spirits and souls. This being so, then it is imperative that their bodies will be raised again, for man is not complete unless spirit and soul and body are united (1 Thessalonians 5:23).

The argument of the Sadducees then is totally refuted, and their doctrines exposed as guilty ignorance. The crowd in hearing these things were astonished at the Lord's teachings. The simplicity and force of these could not be avoided, and the crowd generally were more fair-minded than the leaders, recognizing the rightness of what He said, whether or not it had vital effect on their hearts.

The Pharisees, hearing of the defeat of the Sadducees, again gather together in hope of finding some occasion to trap the Lord Jesus, and one of their lawyers takes the lead by asking Him which is the great commandment in the law. The answer is more simple than they had expected, for their blind religious prejudice was such that they did not even think of God's glory as being of first importance. The Lord quotes from Deuteronomy 6:5, which sums up the first four commandments in insisting on love toward the Lord God with all the heart, soul and mind. But He adds, that the second is similar in its importance, summing up the last six commandments, "thou shall love thy neighbour as thyself." He leaves nothing out, for as James tells us, "whosoever shall keep the whole law, and get offend in one point, he is guilty of all" (James 2:10). He will not allow them to argue that any one law is unimportant. But these two are basic to the entire law with all of its ordinances, and to all that is written by the prophets. Of course the Pharisees knew it would be folly for them to take issue with His answer, however uncomfortable this made them feel.

While they are still gathered together, He, having answered all their subtle questions to their own discomfiture, asks them a question of the greatest possible importance, "What think ye of Christ? whose son is He?" This is a matter that ought to have engaged their most profound interest and concern, for Old Testament scriptures were full of prophecies concerning Israel's expected Messiah. Yet in pathetic ignorance all they can answer is, "the son of David."

Certainly this was true, but how far was it from the full truth! Had they never considered such scriptures as that which the Lord Jesus now quotes? David himself called the Messiah "Lord" in Psalms 110:1, for only of the Messiah could this verse be true, "The Lord said unto my Lord, Sit thou on my right hand, till I make thine enemies thy footstool."

If Christ is therefore David's Lord, how is He his son? Observe that He does not deny He is David's son., but asks "How?" Sadly, they are dumb with silence. For they resisted the truth of His greater glory which scripture declared, that He is Son of God. Both are true: He is first the root of David, as Son of God, and secondly, the offspring of David as Son of Man (Revelation 22:16). His question puts an end to their cavilling questions. Before such a person every mouth is stopped.

 


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Bibliography Information
Grant, L. M. "Commentary on Matthew 22:4". L.M. Grant's Commentary on the Bible. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/lmg/matthew-22.html. 1897-1910.

Lectionary Calendar
Saturday, December 7th, 2019
the First Week of Advent
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