And it came to pass, that on one of those days, as he taught the people in the temple, and preached the gospel, the chief priests and the scribes came upon him with the elders,
I. Let us look at the use which has so long been made of our Lord's reply, and ask whether it is justifiable or wise. His words have been perpetually quoted, as if "Cæsar" meant civil government, and "God" ecclesiastical government, and as if Cæsar and God had separate spheres of jurisdiction, each limiting the other. All intelligent students of the New Testament know that our Lord has made no such distinction as He is popularly supposed to have made. The question on which He was asked to pronounce had nothing whatever to do with the rival claims of Church and State; their respective rights were not even contemplated, the cunning cavillers who had conspired to entangle Him knew nothing of the distinction between the two. It was indeed a distinction utterly foreign to the Jewish mind. What feature in the prophetic writings is more marked than the interpretation of religion and politics?
II. Our Lord here recognises no division of allegiance. He does not regard man as under two masters—as owing duty to Cæsar and duty to God. No; God is set forth by Him always and everywhere as the sole Lord of man's being and powers. Nothing man has can be Cæsar's in contradiction to that which is God's. Christ claims all for the Sovereign Master. Rightly understood, therefore, the great precepts of the text are in perfect accord with the doctrine of God's sole and supreme lordship over every thought, and faculty, and possession of man. "Render unto Cæsar the things that are Cæsar's." Why? Who enacts it? The answer is, "God." It is a part of your religious obedience to be a loyal citizen. God has bound up together our relation to the "powers that be" in this world with our relation to Himself. He has set us under rulers and in societies as a kind of interior province of His mighty kingdom, but our loyalty as subjects and our duty as citizens are but a part of the one supreme duty which we owe to Him.
R. Duckworth, Christian World Pulpit, vol. xxviii., p. 273.
References: Luke 20:25.—M. Wilks, Christian World Pulpit, vol. xxvii., p. 344. Luke 20:34-38.—J. J. Murphy, Expositor, 2nd series, vol. iv., p. 102. Luke 20:35.—J. H. Evans, Thursday Penny Pulpit, vol. xiii., p. 353. Luke 20:35, Luke 20:36.—G. Brooks, Outlines of Sermons, p. 49; Plain Sermons by Contributors to "Tracts for the Times," vol. x., p. 125.
Luke 20:36The Mortal and the Immortal.
I. Ours is a dying world; and immortality has no place upon this earth. That which is deathless is beyond these hills. "Neither can they die any more" is the prediction of something future, not the announcement of anything either present or past. We are still under the reign of death, and this is the hour and power of darkness. The day of the destruction of death and the unlocking of sepulchres is not yet. It will come in due time. Meanwhile, we have to look on death; for our dwelling is in a world of death—a land of graves.
II. If then we would get beyond death's circle and shadow we must look above. Death is here, but life is yonder. The fading is here, the blooming is yonder. Death, which is now a law, an inevitable necessity, shall then be an impossibility. They who are partakers of the first resurrection and of the world to come are made for ever immortal. This is the triumph of life. It is more than resurrection: for it is resurrection with the security that death can never again approach them throughout eternity.
H. Bonar, Short Sermons, p. 416.
References: Luke 20:36.—I. Taylor, Saturday Evening, p. 322. Luke 20:37.—J. Vaughan, Sermons, 13th series, p. 142. Luke 20:37, Luke 20:38.—Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. xxxi., No. 1863; T. C. Finlayson, Christian World Pulpit, vol. xi., p. 65; J. Baldwin Brown, Ibid., vol. xii., p. 328; Ibid., vol. xxvi., p. 182.
Luke 20:38Consider some of the consequences of the truth of this text:—
I. As regards the body. In heaven's language—i.e. in the real truth of the case—the body never dies. There is that which lives. At least God sees it alive. The relation of the body to the soul, and of the soul to the body, subsists through the interval between death and the resurrection. Can we suppose that the spirit, in the intermediate state, does not affect and desire its own body? St. Paul leads us on to that thought. He did not rest in, he did not like the idea of, unclothed spirit—"Not that we would be unclothed, but clothed upon"—i.e. with the old body renovated, and no longer, as now, burdensome. To God, nothing dies: it changes, but it does not die, "For all live unto Him."
II. But as respects the spirit. Surely it cannot be that energies are dormant, that existence is torpid, and all things in abeyance, and life as if it were not life after we die, till the day of Christ. For, then, could it be said of souls in such a state, we "live unto Him"? We say it of the body, indeed, though it be asleep, because of its relations to an animated soul. But would it be true if the soul also slept that long sleep. Are they not rather living in a very ecstasy of being and of joy, if they live unto Him? And to think of that life of theirs, may it not help us to live indeed an earnest, and a busy, and a holy, and a happy life? To think of them dead, is not it to sadden, to hinder, and to deaden us? But to think of them living, so living, is not it to gladden and animate us?
III. What, then, is death? Who are the dead? They who, living, live separate from their own souls; and, which is the same thing, they whose souls and bodies are both separate from God—they are the dead. That is the distance, and that is the parting. But do not think of those who sleep in Jesus as far off. Their life and our life is one.
J. Vaughan, Fifty Sermons, 5th series, p. 20.
References: Luke 20:38.—I. Taylor, Saturday Evening, p. 280; G. Macdonald, Unspoken Sermons, p. 232. Luke 20:41.—T. T. Lynch, Three Months' Ministry, p. 265. Luke 20:46.—Preacher's Monthly, vol. ii., p. 251. Luke 20—F. D. Maurice, The Gospel of the Kingdom, p. 301. Luke 20-21—A. B. Bruce, The Training of the Twelve, p. 328. Luke 21:1, Luke 21:2.—R. L. Browne, Sussex Sermons, p. 213. Luke 21:1-11.—G. Calthrop, Pulpit Recollections, p. 192. Luke 21:9.—Preacher's Monthly, vol. ii., p. 252.
And spake unto him, saying, Tell us, by what authority doest thou these things? or who is he that gave thee this authority?
And he answered and said unto them, I will also ask you one thing; and answer me:
The baptism of John, was it from heaven, or of men?
And they reasoned with themselves, saying, If we shall say, From heaven; he will say, Why then believed ye him not?
But and if we say, Of men; all the people will stone us: for they be persuaded that John was a prophet.
And they answered, that they could not tell whence it was.
And Jesus said unto them, Neither tell I you by what authority I do these things.
Then began he to speak to the people this parable; A certain man planted a vineyard, and let it forth to husbandmen, and went into a far country for a long time.
And at the season he sent a servant to the husbandmen, that they should give him of the fruit of the vineyard: but the husbandmen beat him, and sent him away empty.
And again he sent another servant: and they beat him also, and entreated him shamefully, and sent him away empty.
And again he sent a third: and they wounded him also, and cast him out.
Then said the lord of the vineyard, What shall I do? I will send my beloved son: it may be they will reverence him when they see him.
But when the husbandmen saw him, they reasoned among themselves, saying, This is the heir: come, let us kill him, that the inheritance may be ours.
So they cast him out of the vineyard, and killed him. What therefore shall the lord of the vineyard do unto them?
He shall come and destroy these husbandmen, and shall give the vineyard to others. And when they heard it, they said, God forbid.
And he beheld them, and said, What is this then that is written, The stone which the builders rejected, the same is become the head of the corner?
Whosoever shall fall upon that stone shall be broken; but on whomsoever it shall fall, it will grind him to powder.
And the chief priests and the scribes the same hour sought to lay hands on him; and they feared the people: for they perceived that he had spoken this parable against them.
And they watched him, and sent forth spies, which should feign themselves just men, that they might take hold of his words, that so they might deliver him unto the power and authority of the governor.
And they asked him, saying, Master, we know that thou sayest and teachest rightly, neither acceptest thou the person of any, but teachest the way of God truly:
Is it lawful for us to give tribute unto Caesar, or no?
But he perceived their craftiness, and said unto them, Why tempt ye me?
Shew me a penny. Whose image and superscription hath it? They answered and said, Caesar's.
And he said unto them, Render therefore unto Caesar the things which be Caesar's, and unto God the things which be God's.
And they could not take hold of his words before the people: and they marvelled at his answer, and held their peace.
Then came to him certain of the Sadducees, which deny that there is any resurrection; and they asked him,
Saying, Master, Moses wrote unto us, If any man's brother die, having a wife, and he die without children, that his brother should take his wife, and raise up seed unto his brother.
There were therefore seven brethren: and the first took a wife, and died without children.
And the second took her to wife, and he died childless.
And the third took her; and in like manner the seven also: and they left no children, and died.
Last of all the woman died also.
Therefore in the resurrection whose wife of them is she? for seven had her to wife.
And Jesus answering said unto them, The children of this world marry, and are given in marriage:
But they which shall be accounted worthy to obtain that world, and the resurrection from the dead, neither marry, nor are given in marriage:
Neither can they die any more: for they are equal unto the angels; and are the children of God, being the children of the resurrection.
Now that the dead are raised, even Moses shewed at the bush, when he calleth the Lord the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.
For he is not a God of the dead, but of the living: for all live unto him.
Then certain of the scribes answering said, Master, thou hast well said.
And after that they durst not ask him any question at all.
And he said unto them, How say they that Christ is David's son?
And David himself saith in the book of Psalms, The LORD said unto my Lord, Sit thou on my right hand,
Till I make thine enemies thy footstool.
David therefore calleth him Lord, how is he then his son?
Then in the audience of all the people he said unto his disciples,
Beware of the scribes, which desire to walk in long robes, and love greetings in the markets, and the highest seats in the synagogues, and the chief rooms at feasts;
Which devour widows' houses, and for a shew make long prayers: the same shall receive greater damnation.