And the blind and the lame came to him in the temple; and he healed them.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)The blind and the lame.—These, as we see from Acts 3:2, and probably from John 9:1, thronged the approaches to the Temple, and asked alms of the worshippers. They now followed the great Healer into the Temple itself, and sought at His hands relief from their infirmities. If we were to accept the LXX. reading of the strange proverbial saying of 2Samuel 5:8, “The blind and the lame shall not come into the house of the Lord,” it would seem as if this were a departure from the usual regulations of the Temple; but the words in italics are not in the Hebrew. Most commentators give an entirely different meaning to the proverb, and there is no evidence from Jewish writers that the blind and the lame were ever, as a matter of fact, excluded from the Temple. All that we can legitimately infer from the two passages is the contrast between the hasty, passionate words of the conquering king, and the tender compassion of the Son of David, to whom the blind and the lame were objects, not of antipathy, but pity.Isaiah 56:7. The first part of this verse only is quoted from Isaiah. The rest - "but ye have made it a den of thieves" - was added by Jesus, denoting their abuse of the temple. Thieves and robbers live in dens and caves. Judea was then much infested with them. In their dens thieves devise and practice iniquity. These buyers and sellers imitated them. They made the temple a place of gain; they cheated and defrauded; they took advantage of the poor, and, by their being under a necessity of purchasing these articles for sacrifice, they "robbed" them by selling what they had at an enormous price.
The following reasons may be given why this company of buyers and sellers obeyed Christ:
1. They were overawed by his authority, and struck with the consciousness that he had a right to command,
2. Their own consciences reproved them; they knew they were guilty, and they dared make no resistance.
3. The people generally were then on the side of Jesus, believing him to be the Messiah.
4. It had always been the belief of the Jews that a "prophet" had a right to change, regulate, and order the various affairs relating to external worship. They supposed Jesus to be such, and they did not dare to resist him.
Mark and Luke add, that in consequence of this, the scribes and chief priests attempted to put him to death, Mark 11:18-19; Luke 19:47-48. This they did from "envy," Matthew 27:18. He drew off the people from them, and they envied and hated him. They were "restrained," then, for the fear of the people; and this was the reason why they plotted "secretly" to put him to death, and why they afterward so gladly heard the proposals of the traitor, Matthew 26:14-15.
For the exposition, see on Lu 19:45-48; and Mr 11:12-26.Mark 11:11-19, And Jesus entered into Jerusalem, and into the temple: and when he had looked round about upon all things, and now the eventide was come, he went out unto Bethany with the twelve. And on the morrow, when they were come from Bethany, he was hungry. (Then he relates our Saviour’s cursing the barren fig tree, which I leave till I come to it in order). And they come to Jerusalem: and Jesus went into the temple, and began to cast out them that sold and bought in the temple, and overthrew the tables of the money changers and the seats of them that sold doves: and would not suffer that any man should carry any vessel through the temple. And he taught, saying unto them, Is it not written, My house shall be called of all nations the house of prayer? but ye have made it a den of thieves. —And when the even was come, he went out of the city, Matthew 21:19. Luke saith, Luke 19:45-47, And he went into the temple, and began to cast out them that sold therein, and those that bought; saying unto them, It is written, My house is the house of prayer: but ye have made it a den of thieves. And he taught daily in the temple. It is plain by all the evangelists, that our Saviour, coming to Jerusalem five days before the passover, went every night to Bethany, about two miles off, and returned in the morning to the temple, where Luke saith that he taught daily. The first day it should seem, by Mark, that he only came into the temple, looked round about upon all things, and with the twelve went out to lodge at Bethany. By his going into the temple, we must understand only the outward court, for the priests and Levites only might enter into the inner court, and the holy place; and the high priest only might enter into the holiest of all. Though Mark mentions not his driving out the buyers and sellers the first day, but recites it as if it had been done the second day of his coming, yet the best interpreters think that it was done the first day, as Matthew and Luke seem to hint; nor is any thing more usual, than for the evangelists to set down things out of the order of time in which they were done. Some learned authors in the Hebrew learning tell us, that in the outward court was a daily market of such things as the Jews used for sacrifices, wine salt, oil, oxen, and sheep; but it being but three or four days before the passover, the market was much greater, because of the great multitude of lambs then to be used. By the law, Exodus 30:12,15, every one also was to bring a half shekel. For this purpose there were tables of moneychangers, men that were furnished with half Shekels to change with the people, that every one might have his half shekel; and those that so changed allowed some little profit to those that changed their money, which gain was called kollubistai; thence the changers were called dollubistai, money changers. Those that sold doves were there, to furnish the women that came up to their purification with their offerings, according to the law, Leviticus 12:6. This was the reason of that great market which our Lord found in the outward court of the temple; and it is not likely that our Lord should see these abuses the first day and take no notice of them, but come the next day and correct them, which makes interpreters think Mark in this relation postponed this part of the history. Here arise two questions:
1. Whether it was unlawful for them to sell these things in that part of the temple.
2. Admit it were, By what authority did our Saviour do this?
To the first it must be said, That had it not been unlawful, our Saviour would not have reproved them for turning his Father’s house, and the house of prayer, into a place of merchandise; nor would he have driven them out in such a zeal, overturning the tables, &c., which he had done also once before, John 2:15. The temple was built by God’s direction, not only dedicated by men, but God’s acceptation of it was testified. It appeareth by John 2:19, it was a type of Christ’s body. We know there were special promises made to those that did pray toward it. God saith he had hallowed it, 1 Kings 9:3; that is, separated it from common use to his service, amongst other things for a house of prayer, Isaiah 56:7. Now though we read of no other things sold there but what were useful for sacrifices, yet this was a civil use, and a profanation of that holy place, because there were market places in Jerusalem, in which these things might have been done. It had been against decency, if the temple had not been hallowed in this manner, if such things had been done in the synagogues, being places set apart and commonly used for God’s worship; but to use the temple in this manner, so specially hallowed, was doubtless a great profanation of that holy place. As to the second question, By what authority our Lord, being no public magistrate, did these things, I am not so posed to determine that, he being the eternal Son of God, and now in the exercise of his regal power, as I am to give an account how it came to pass that the priests, and scribes, and Pharisees never questioned him for what he did; for if any will say, that we presently shall read of their taking counsel against him, I reply, But we read of nothing relating to this laid to his charge. Nor do we read of their questioning him when he did the same things before, an account of which we have in John 2:13-25. For though I know some say that our Saviour did this Jure zelotarum: that the Jews had a law, that any might punish even to death such as profaned the worship or holy things of God; which they justify from Deu 13:9, and the examples of Phinehas killing Zimri and Cozbi, Numbers 25:6-8, and Mattaniah’s killing the Jew sacrificing to idols at Modin, and the king’s commissioner, of which we read in /Apc 2Ma 2:24,25: yet this doth no way give me any satisfaction: for as, on the one side, I should not have known how to have defended the act of Phinehas if God had not by and by justified him, nor do I think that the law in Deu 13:9 is to be expounded of private persons; so, on the other side, if the priests, and scribes, and Pharisees had not known of some law that justified our Saviour in this act, I can hardly conceive they would have so quietly put it up, especially considering that probably their profit was concerned, if they had for gain licensed those traders to a place within the compass of the temple, as is very probable. Being therefore fully satisfied that our Saviour, who was Lord of the temple, and to whom the Spirit was given without measure, did no more than he might lawfully do, I am willingly ignorant how it came to pass that he met with no opposition in it, because God hath not pleased in his word to inform us. It is certain that he did the thing, and that it was a thing fit to be done, and that he, as the Son of God, had authority to do it; what made them take it so quietly I cannot tell, nor is it necessary for us to know, nor of any great advantage.
in the temple; that part of it, the court of the Gentiles, and mountain of the house, out of which he had cast the buyers and sellers, &c. and in the room of them, were brought in these objects of his pity:
and he healed them; to the blind he restored sight, and caused the lame to walk; which miracles he wrought in confirmation of the doctrine he preached: for all the other evangelists relate, that he taught in the temple.And the blind and the lame came to him in the temple; and he healed them.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)Matthew 21:14 ff. The insertion of Matthew 21:14-16 from the apostolic tradition is peculiar to Matthew.
τὰ θαυμάσια] the only instance of this usage in the New Testament, though very common in classical Greek and the Sept.: the wonderful things, viz. the cleansing of the temple and the miraculous cures. This combination has suggested the use of the more comprehensive term.
Matthew 21:16. ἀκούεις κ.τ.λ.] in a tone of rebuke, implying that He was the occasion of such impropriety, and was tolerating it.
ὅτι] recitative. The reply of Jesus, so profoundly conversant with the true sense of Scripture, is as much as to say that this shouting of the children is altogether befitting, as being the praise which, according to Psalm 8:3, God has perfected.
νηπίων κ. θηλαζόντων] In explaining the words of the psalm, there is no need to have recourse to the fact that children usually received suck for two and three years (Grimm’s note on 2Ma 7:27), nor even to the idea of the children being transformed into adult instruments in effecting the triumph of God’s cause (Hofmann, Weiss, u. Erf. II. p. 118), but only to bear in mind that, as a genuine poet, the psalmist seemed to hear, in the noise and prattle of the babes and sucklings, a celebration of their Maker’s praise. But, inasmuch as those children who shouted in the temple were not νήπιοι (i.e. in connection with θηλάζ. infantes, Isaiah 11:8; 1 Corinthians 3:1), the scriptural warrant by which Jesus here justifies their hosannas may be said to be based upon an inference a minore ad majus. That is to say, if, according to Psalm 8:3, God had already ordained praise from the mouths of sucklings, how much more has He done so from the mouths of those little ones who now shouted hosanna! The former, though unable to speak, and still at the mother’s breast, are found praising God; how much more the latter, with their hosanna cries! These last are shouted in honour of the Messiah, who, however, is God’s Son and Representative, so that in His δόξα God is glorified (John 13:31; John 14:13; Php 2:11), nay, God glorifies Himself (John 12:28).
κ. ηὐλίσθη ἐκεῖ] Consequently He did not pass the night in the open air (in answer to Grotius), for neither in classical Greek do we always find αὐλίζεσθαι used in the sense of bivouacking (Apollonid. 14; Diod. Sic. xiii. 6). Comp. Tob 4:14; Tob 6:10; Tob 9:5; Jdg 19:9 f.
On Bethany, some 15 stadia from Jerusalem (John 11:18), see Tobler, Topogr. v. Jerus. II. p. 432 ff.; Robinson, Pal. II. p. 309 ff.; Sepp, Jerus. u. d. heil. Land, I. p. 583 ff. At present it is only a miserable village, known by the Arabic name of el-Aziriyeh (from el-Azir, i.e. Lazarus). For the name, see note on John 1:28.Matthew 21:14-17, peculiar to Mt.Matthew 21:14. Ἐν τῷ ἱερῷ, in the temple) The right use of the temple; which was found fault with by His adversaries, who tolerated the abuse of the temple. No one else ever performed miracles in the temple; this was peculiar to the Messiah.Verse 14. - The blind and the lame came to him in the temple. This notice is peculiar to St. Matthew, though St. Luke (Luke 19:47) mentions that "he taught daily in the temple." An old expositor has remarked that Christ first as King purified his palace, and then took his seat therein, and of his royal bounty distributed gilts to his people. It was a new fulfilment of the prophecy of Isaiah (Isaiah 35:4-6), which spake of Messiah coming to open the eyes of the blind, to unstop the ears of the deaf, to make the lame man leap as an hart. For acts of sacrilege which profaned the temple precincts, he substituted acts of mercy which hallowed them; the good Physician takes the place of the greedy trafficker; the den of thieves becomes a beneficent hospital. How many were the acts of healing, we are not told; but the words point to the relief of numberless sufferers, none of whom were sent empty away.
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