Matthew 23:39
For I say unto you, Ye shall not see me henceforth, till ye shall say, Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord.
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(39) Till ye shall say.—There is obviously a reference to the fact that the words quoted from Psalm 118:26, had been uttered by the crowd but a few days before on His solemn entry into Jerusalem. Not till those words should be uttered once again—not in a momentary burst of excitement, not with feigned Hosannas, but in spirit and in truth—would they look on Him as they looked now. There can be little doubt that our Lord points to the second Advent, and to the welcome that will then be given Him by all the true Israel of God. For that generation, and for the outward Israel as such, the abandonment was final.

23:34-39 Our Lord declares the miseries the inhabitants of Jerusalem were about to bring upon themselves, but he does not notice the sufferings he was to undergo. A hen gathering her chickens under her wings, is an apt emblem of the Saviour's tender love to those who trust in him, and his faithful care of them. He calls sinners to take refuge under his tender protection, keeps them safe, and nourishes them to eternal life. The present dispersion and unbelief of the Jews, and their future conversion to Christ, were here foretold. Jerusalem and her children had a large share of guilt, and their punishment has been signal. But ere long, deserved vengeance will fall on every church which is Christian in name only. In the mean time the Saviour stands ready to receive all who come to him. There is nothing between sinners and eternal happiness, but their proud and unbelieving unwillingness.Ye shall not see me ... - The day of your mercy is gone by. I have offered you protection and salvation, and you have rejected it. You are about to crucify me, and your temple to be destroyed, and you, as a nation, to be given up to long and dreadful suffering. You will not see me as a merciful Saviour, offering you redemption any more, until you have borne these heavy judgments. They must come upon you, and be borne, until you would be glad to hail a deliverer, and say, Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord. Blessed be he that comes as the Messiah, to bring deliverance. This has not been yet accomplished, but the days will come when the Jews, long cast out and rejected, will hail Jesus as the Messiah, and receive him whom their fathers killed as the merciful Saviour, Romans 11:25-32.

Remarks On Matthew 23

1. Proper respect should always be shown to teachers and rulers, Matthew 23:3.

2. We are not to copy the example of wicked people, though they are our teachers or rulers, Matthew 23:3. We are to frame our conduct by the law of God, and not by the example of people.

3. People are often very rigid in exacting of others what they fail altogether of performing themselves, Matthew 23:4.

4. We are not to seek human honors Matthew 23:8, nor to give flattering titles to others, nor to allow others to give them to us Matthew 23:9. Our highest honor is in humility, and he is most exalted who is most lowly, Matthew 23:11-12.

5. In the descriptions of the scribes and Pharisees in this chapter, we have a full-length portrait of a hypocrite.

(1) they shut up the kingdom of heaven against others, Matthew 23:13. They made great pretensions to knowledge, but they neither entered in themselves, nor suffered others.

(2) they committed the grossest iniquity under a cloak of religion, Matthew 23:14. They cheated widows out of their property, and made long prayers to hide their villainy.

(3) they showed great zeal in making proselytes, yet did it only for gain, and made them more wicked, Matthew 23:15.

(4) they taught false doctrine, and they resorted to artful contrivances to destroy the force of oaths, and to shut out the Creator from their view, Matthew 23:16-22.

(5) they were superstitious, Matthew 23:23. Small matters they were exact in; matters of real importance they cared little about.

(6) they took great pains to appear well, while they themselves knew that it was all deceit and falsehood, Matthew 23:25-28.

(7) they professed great veneration for the memory of the pious dead, while at the same time they were conscious that they really approved the conduct of those that killed them, Matthew 23:29-31.


39. For I say unto you—and these were His last words to the impenitent nation, see on [1354]Mr 13:1, opening remarks.

Ye shall not see me henceforth—What? Does Jesus mean that He was Himself the Lord of the temple, and that it became "deserted" when He finally left it? It is even so. Now is thy fate sealed, O Jerusalem, for the glory is departed from thee! That glory, once visible in the holy of holies, over the mercy seat, when on the day of atonement the blood of typical expiation was sprinkled on it and in front of it—called by the Jews the Shekinah, or the Dwelling, as being the visible pavilion of Jehovah—that glory, which Isaiah (Isa 6:1-13) saw in vision, the beloved disciple says was the glory of Christ (Joh 12:41). Though it was never visible in the second temple, Haggai foretold that "the glory of that latter house should be greater than of the former" (Hag 2:9) because "the Lord whom they sought was suddenly to come to His temple" (Mal 3:1), not in a mere bright cloud, but enshrined in living humanity! Yet brief as well as "sudden" was the manifestation to be: for the words He was now uttering were to be His very last within its precincts.

till ye shall say, Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord—that is, till those "Hosannas to the Son of David" with which the multitude had welcomed Him into the city—instead of "sore displeasing the chief priests and scribes" (Mt 21:15)—should break forth from the whole nation, as their glad acclaim to their once pierced, but now acknowledged, Messiah. That such a time will come is clear from Zec 12:10; Ro 11:26; 2Co 3:15, 16, &c. In what sense they shall then "see Him" may be gathered from Zec 2:10-13; Eze 37:23-28; 39:28, 29, &c.

We have the same Luke 13:34,35. O Jerusalem, Jerusalem! The doubling of the word showeth the vehemency of our Saviour’s affection.

Thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee; that hast killed, and abused, and art yet going on to do the like, not taking notice of the vengeance of God upon thee before for this very sin, 2 Chronicles 36:16,17 Ne 9:26,27. How often would I have gathered thee, giving thee all external means proper to have reformed thee and reconciled thee to God, as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings! Which if thou hadst accepted and embraced, the chickens are not safer under the wings of the hen from the danger of a kite than thou wouldst have been from enemies. But thou wouldst not; instead of hearkening to my prophets, thou killedst them, and didst stone those sent unto thee, and so didst voluntarily reject me, and all my offers and tenders of grace, mercy, and protection, through the mere obstinacy of thy perverse will.

Behold, your house is left unto you desolate; both the temple, in which you place such a confidence, and your own dwelling houses, shall be destroyed, burnt, and razed down, or at least left without you as inhabitants.

For I say unto you, Ye shall not see me henceforth, till ye shall say, Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord: I will appear no more to you as a public preacher, after two or three days, for ever; and you, that the other day so envied the people’s acclamations to me,

Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord, shall be glad yourselves to see one of the days of the Son of man, and shall say the same thing, Blessed is he, & c. For whereas some interpret the term till, & c. of the day of judgment, or the time when the Jews shall be converted, I take them to be strained interpretations.

Till here certainly is to be interpreted, as Psalm 110:1 Matthew 1:25; and this comports with the history, for after this time our Saviour appeared in the temple publicly no more. For the disputes raised from Matthew 23:37, about God’s secret will, whether he seriously willed the salvation of the Jews, &c., I take the affirmative part to have no foundation in this text, for would I is plainly enough here interpreted by the foregoing word, sending them prophets, and other ministers, to persuade them to repentance and reconciliation with God; as the use of means proper to an end appear to us indications of the will of him that useth them.

For I say unto you, ye shall not see me henceforth,.... Meaning in a very little time after the passover, from the time of his crucifixion and death; otherwise they saw him many times after this, as in the palace of the high priest, in Pilate's judgment hall, and on the cross; but not after his resurrection. This shows the reason of their house being desolate, and in what sense it should be so, and immediately became so; namely, by being then directly, and ever after, destitute of his presence: and though they might afterwards seek for, and expect the Messiah in it, yet they would never be able to see him, nor throughout their long captivity: till ye shall say, blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord; that is, until the time comes, that the fulness of the Gentiles shall be brought in, and all Israel shall be saved, the Jews shall be converted, and seek the Lord their God, and David their king; when they shall readily and cheerfully say these words to Christ, who will then appear in his glory; which they were now displeased at in the multitude that followed him, and the children in the temple. Though some think this is said by way of threatening, since the rest that is spoken to them by Christ is of that sort, and regards the men of that generation; and is given as a reason of their house being left desolate: and the sense is, that they should never see him with joy and pleasure; since, though they would be obliged to confess that he was Lord and Christ, they would never say the above words to him in faith, and holy reverence of him. The Cambridge exemplar of Beza's, and the Persic versions, read, "in the name of God." For I say unto you, Ye shall not see me henceforth, till ye shall say, Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord.
Matthew 23:39. ἀπʼ ἄρτι, from this moment, Christ’s prophetic work done now: it remains only to die.—ἕως ἂν εἴπητε: a future contingency on which it depends whether they shall ever see Him again (Weiss in Meyer). He will not trouble them any more till their mood change and they be ready to receive Him with a Messianic salutation.

The exquisite finish of this discourse, in the case of ordinary orators, would suggest premeditation and even writing. We have no means of knowing to what extent Jesus had considered beforehand what He was to say on this momentous occasion. The references to the whited sepulchres and the tombs of the prophets show that the speech was in part at least an extempore utterance.

39. For explains “desolate” of Matthew 23:38. The Temple is desolate, for Christ, who is the Lord of the Temple, leaves it for ever.

till ye shall say] Till, like the children in these Temple-courts, ye recognise Me as the Messiah. See ch. Matthew 21:15. The words of Jesus, and the place, and the anger of the Scribes, may have recalled to some the scene in which Jeremiah, on the same spot, denounced the sin of Israel, called them to repentance, and foretold the destruction of the Temple: “then will I make this house like Shiloh” … “and all the people took him, saying, Thou shalt surely die,” Jeremiah 26:1-8.

Matthew 23:39. Λέγω, I say) See Gnomon on Luke 13:35.—ἴδητε, ye shall see) sc. you, inhabitants of Jerusalem. Cf. Luke 13:35.—ἀπʼ ἄρτι, from the present time[1024]) The short interval preceding our Lord’s death (and that spent without the Temple[1025]) is included in the present time [the ἌΡΤΙ of the text].—ἛΩς, until) sc. after a long interval.—εἴπητε, κ.τ.λ., ye shall say, etc.) They would say so when reciting the Hallel[1026] at the Passover, but without applying the words to Jesus. That which is here foretold will actually come to pass at the appointed time, as in ch. Matthew 21:9 was performed that which had been predicted in Luke 13:35. Our Lord, however, does not add “again,” although the people had shouted those words on the occasion recorded in Matthew 21:9. For neither had all joined in this acclamation to Him, nor had they who did so understood what they were saying, as Israel shall understand hereafter: and soon after they, as it were, retracted their acclamation. The first utterance of these words was less complete, the second will be worthy of the name.[1027] Cf. Gnomon on the omission of “again,” in Acts 1:11.—εὐλογημένος, κ.τ.λ., Blessed, etc.) With this verse concludes our Lord’s public discourse to the Jews: with this verse will begin their repentance.

[1024] E. V. Henceforth.—(I. B.)

[1025] Within which, and in reference to which, these words, Matthew 23:38, were spoken.—ED.

[1026] “Lastly,” says Hartwell Horne, in describing the Jewish Passover, “a fourth cup of wine was filled, called the cup of the Hallel: over it they completed, either by singing or recitation, the great Hallel, or hymn of praise, consisting of Psalms 115-118 inclusive, with a prayer, and so concluded.”—(I. B.)

[1027] Sc. of an utterance or saying, dictio, referring to the words, “Ye shall say.” Cf. in 1 Corinthians 14:15, “I will sing with the spirit, and I will sing with the understanding also.”—(I. B.)

Verse 39. - Ye shall not see me henceforth. Christ explains the denunciation just given. In a few days he will be separated from them by death and burial; and, though he appeared to certain chosen witnesses after his resurrection, he was seen no more by the people (Acts 10:41); their house was deserted. Some take the word "see" in the sense of know, recognize; but it seems rather weak to say, "Ye shall not know me till ye acknowledge me as Messiah," as the knowing and acknowledging are practically identical or simultaneous. Till ye shall say, Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord! The words which had greeted his triumphal entry a few days before (Matthew 21:9). The clause, "till ye shall say," does not shut the door of hope forever; it looks forward to a happier prospect. The time intended is that when Israel shall repent of its rejection of the Messiah, and in bitter contrition look on him whom it pierced, owning and receiving Jesus with glad "Hosannahs!" Then shall they behold him coming in power and glory, and shall regain their old position as beloved of God (see Hosea 3:4, 5; Zechariah 12:10). Then "all Israel shall be saved" (Romans 11:26). Thus this terrible chapter, so dark and menacing, closes with a glow of hope and a promise, indefinite but certain, of final restoration.

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