And when they drew nigh unto Jerusalem, and were come to Bethphage, unto the mount of Olives, then sent Jesus two disciples,
I. Our Lord's words illustrate, first of all, the deliberateness with which He moved forward to His agony and death. When He sent the two disciples for the ass and the foal which were tied up in the street of Bethphage, He was, as He knew, taking the first step in a series which would end within a week upon Mount Calvary. Everything, accordingly, is measured, deliberate, calm. It is this deliberateness in His advance to die; it is this voluntariness in His sufferings which, next to the fact of His true Divinity, gives to the death of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ its character as a sacrifice for the sins of the whole world.
II. Our Lord's words illustrate, secondly, the exact nature of His claims. "If any man say ought unto you, ye shall say, "The Lord hath need of them." Now, what is the justification of this demand? It is a question which can only be answered in one way—namely, that Christ was all along the true owner of the ass and the foal, and that the apparent owner was but His bailiff. He claims what He has lent for a while, He resumes that which has always been His own; we hear the voice of the Being to whom man owes all that he is, and all that he has—"whose we are, and whom we serve."
III. Our Lord's words show how He can make use of all, even of the lowest and the least; nay how, in His condescension, He makes Himself dependent on them for the fulfilment of His high purposes. It was of the ass and of the colt at Bethphage that He Himself said, "The Lord hath need of them." The ass and colt, insignificant in themselves, had become necessary to our Lord at one of the great turning-points of His life; they were needed for a service unique and incomparable, which has given them a place in sacred history to the very end of time. They were to be conspicuous features in that great sacrificial procession—for such it was—in which He, the prime and flower of our race, moved forward deliberately to yield Himself to the wills of men who today can shout "Hosannah" and who tomorrow will cry "Crucify." The needs of God. It was surely too bold an expression if He had not authorized us to use it. And yet there they stand, the words "The Lord hath need of them." He needed that ass and that foal in the street of Bethphage.
H. P. Liddon, Christian World Pulpit, vol. xxi., p. 209.
References: Matthew 21:3.—Homiletic Quarterly, vol. ii., p. 241; J. M. Neale, Sermons for the Church Year, vol. ii., p. 80. Matthew 21:4.—C. Kingsley, Sermons on National Subjects, p. 1. Matthew 21:4, Matthew 21:5.—G. Butler, Cheltenham College Sermons, p. 20.
Matthew 21:5I. Not the Law only, but the Prophets also, did our Lord with the greatest carefulness fulfil, that no one mark or tittle of the letter should fail of the Word of God. "All this was done that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, saying, Tell ye the daughter of Sion, Behold, thy King cometh unto thee," etc.
II. "When He was come into Jerusalem, all the city was moved, saying, Who is this? And the multitude said, This is Jesus the Prophet of Nazareth of Galilee." This was the answer of the multitude, for the common people were not ashamed of the lowly Nazareth and the despised Galilee. What a wonderful contrast is this to His next appearing, for which we daily wait; when all the dead shall be moved at His coming and all the living; when the sun, moon, and stars shall fall, and earth and heaven shall take wing before His face, and when there will be no more asking, "Who is this?" for all shall know Him!
III. When He came in so much meekness without, and with so much sorrow of heart within, He showed by a remarkable sign what was the occasion of that sorrow. "He went into the temple of God, and cast out all them that sold," etc. The lesson is, that it is of the very utmost importance how we keep holy the House of Prayer. Worship God aright, and all will be well. Come before Him without fear, and all your life will be as a city over which Christ weeps.
I. Williams, Sermons on the Epistles and Gospels, vol. i., p. 1.
References: Matthew 21:5.—Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. vii., No. 405; vol. xviii., No. 1038; Clergyman's Magazine, vol. xvii., p. 284; J. C. Hare, Sermons in Herstmonceux Church, vol. i., p. 79.
Matthew 21:10What think we of Christ?
I. The merely humanitarian view of the person of Christ involves in it: (1) the gravest intellectual difficulties. There was something peculiar in His intellectual solitude: the difference between Him and other thinkers was not such as, for example, between Shakespeare and other authors. You know all through that Shakespeare belongs to the same species as the others; but Christ constitutes an entire genius by Himself. Compare the Sermon on the Mount with the utterances of the most exalted teachers, and say if it be conceivable that He who delivered it was no more than a Jewish country artisan, whose life had been spent in one of the lowest villages of the most illiterate portion of the land. (2) But the difficulties which beset the humanitarian view of the Saviour's person from the intellectual side are as nothing compared with those which it has to encounter on the moral. Remember the honesty and integrity by which He was characterized, and then say how these qualities are to be reconciled with the claims which He put forth as One who had come down from heaven for the express purpose of teaching celestial things, if these claims were not well founded. (3) Note the testimony of history to the Deity of Christ. It is the nature of moral evil to propagate itself. Christ turned the tide for all after-time, and today the sole corrective agents at work upon the moral and spiritual condition of men may be traced to Christianity.
II. But now, supposing that we all receive Jesus as the Christ, the Son of God, what then? What is involved in that reception? It involves: (1) that we should implicitly believe His teachings. It is a mockery for one to say that he believes in the Deity of Christ, and then to cavil at his words or to deny their truth. (2) If we believe that Jesus Christ is the God-Man, there is involved in that an obligation to rely alone on His atoning work for our salvation. (3) If we receive Christ as the God-Man, there is involved in that reception an obligation to obey His commandments. The practical rejection of our Lord's Divinity by the disobedience of our lives is a more prevalent heresy than the theoretic denial of His Deity, and it is far more insidious and pestilential.
W. M. Taylor, The Limitations of Life, p. 127.
References: Matthew 21:10.—Preacher's Monthly, vol. ii., p. 364; J. O. Davies, Christian World Pulpit, vol. xxxii., p. 241. Matthew 21:12, Matthew 21:13.—Homiletic Quarterly, vol. iv., p. 181. Matthew 21:13.—B. F. Westcott, Expositor, 3rd series, vol. v., p. 458; R. Heber, Parish Sermons, vol. i., p. 1. Matthew 21:15.—S. Cox, The Bird's Nest, p. 194; Outline Sermons to Children, p. 124; A. Macleod, Talking to the Children, p. 237. Matthew 21:15, Matthew 21:16.—Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. xxx., No. 1785; Homiletic Magazine, vol. vi., p. 208. Matthew 21:16.—W. Wilkinson, Thursday Penny Pulpit, vol. ii., p. 205. Matthew 21:17.—W. H. Jellie, Christian World Pulpit, vol. vi., p. 230. Matthew 21:17-22.—Parker. Inner Life of Christ, vol. iii., p. 99. Matthew 21:18-20.—G. W. Butler, Christian World Pulpit, vol. iv., p. 298; Parker, Hidden Springs, p. 98. Matthew 21:21.—H. W. Beecher, Sermons, 1st series, p. 536.
Matthew 21:22These words are said to us as God's children. This is the one condition of our asking and having. "Ask," our good Lord would say, "your Father as His children, believing in Him, trusting in Him, hoping in Him, trusting yourselves with Him."
I. It is not, then, said to those who will not live as God's children. He who will not live as God's child makes himself wiser than God. He chooses what God chooses not; he frames to himself a world of his own, and makes its laws for himself. He contradicts or disbelieves the goodness of God, in that he chooses what God refuses, refuses what God chooses.
II. It is not said as to things which we cannot ask as God's children. To covet passionately the things of this life, even without actual sin; to long to be above those around us; to desire to be admired, thought of; to have a smooth easy course, to be without trial,—this is not the temper of God's children. To gain these things might be to lose the soul.
III. We are not children of our heavenly Father if we forgive not from our hearts each other their trespasses; and therefore any secret grudge, any mislike of another, any rankling memory of injury, hinders our prayer being heard.
IV. If we ask not earnestly, we either do not really want what we ask for, or we mistrust that God will give it, and do not really look to Him as our Father.
V. There are many degrees of asking, many degrees of obtaining. God willeth to win thee to ask of Him. He will often give us things more than we could look for, that we may remember how He heareth prayers, and ask Him for what He is yet more ready to give, because it is more precious for our eternal good. He draws us on as earthly parents do their children to trust Him in a more simple, childlike way. Pray, and thou shalt know that God will hear thy prayers. Pray as thou canst, and pray that thou mayest pray better. The gates of heaven are ever open that thou mayest go in and out at thy will. He Himself, to whom thou prayest, prayeth for thee, by His voice, by His love, by His blood. How can we fail to be heard, when, if we wish, God the Holy Spirit will pray in us, and He to whom we pray is more ready to give than we to ask?
E. B. Pusey, Sermons for the Church's Seasons, p. 372.
The Miracles of Prayer.
Can man change the mind of God? Will God, on the prayer of man, change any part of that wondrous order which He has impressed on His fair, visible creation?
I. God does through man's acts become other to him than He was before. The returned soul knows that not only is its whole self changed towards God, but that the relations and actions of God towards it are also changed. And this change has often been wrought by Jesus through the prayers of others. Which are greatest, the miracles of nature or the miracles of grace? Which is the greatest interference (to use men's word)—to change passive, unresisting nature, or man's strong, energetic, resisting will, which God Himself so respects that He will not force the will which He has endowed with freedom, that it might have the bliss freely to choose Himself? And yet these stupendous spiritual miracles are daily renewed. The love of the Church, of the pastor, the mother, the combined prayers of those whom God has inspired with the love of souls, draw down on the prodigal soul many a wasted or half-wasted grace, until at last God in His providence has laid the soul open to the influence of His grace, and the soul, obstructing no more the access to Divine grace, is converted to God and lives.
II. Whether the whole sequence of natural phenomena follow a fixed order of Divine law impressed once for all upon his creation by the almighty fiat of God, or whether the proximate causes of which we are cognizant are the result of the ever-present action of the Divine will, independently of any such system—these are but the ways of acting of the Omniscient. The difficulty lies in the Omniscience itself, which knew all things which were not as though they were. Who doubts but that God knew beforehand that awful winter which cut off half a million of the flower of French chivalry? But whether that winter, which stood alone in the history of Russian climate, came only in the natural sequel of some fixed laws, or whether it was owing to the immediate fiat of God, the adaptation of these natural phenomena to the chastisement of that suffering host was alike exact, the free agency of its leader was alike unimpaired.
III. Once more, the availableness of prayer has been contrasted with the availableness of human remedies; its unavailableness has been insisted upon, if combined with human sloth. Who bade separate trust in God from the exertions of duty? Certainly not He who, even in His highest concerns,—the salvation of our souls,—bade us work out our own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God which worketh in us, to will and to do of His good pleasure.
IV. One soul there is for which thy prayers are absolutely infallible—thine own. Before thou hast uttered the prayer, so soon as through the grace of God thou hast conceived it in thy heart and embraced it in thy will, it has ascended to the Eternal throne. Already it has been presented to Him who in all eternity loved thee and formed thee for His love. It has been presented by Him, Man with thee, who, as Man, died for thee, who, in His precious death, prayed for thee, Man with thee, but also God with God. How should it fail? Thy prayer cannot fail, if thou, through thine own will, fail not thy prayer.
E. B. Pusey, Selected Occasional Sermons, p. 295.
References: Matthew 21:22.—E. B. Pusey, Parochial and Cathedral Sermons, p. 273; J. H. Evans, Thursday Penny Pulpit, vol. xvi., p. 69.
Matthew 21:23-27Why Christ could not make His Authority known to the Pharisees.
I. John had said to the Pharisees, "Bring forth fruits meet for repentance, and think not to say unto yourselves, We have Abraham to our father: for I say unto you, that God is able of these stones to raise up children to Abraham." They were saying within themselves, "We have Abraham to our father," while they had no likeness to Abraham. They were wrapping themselves up in a comfortable security, while they had a sense of inward hollowness. They were exulting in the profession of faith in an unseen God; they were not believing in the unseen God.
II. Our Lord did not arbitrarily refuse to tell the Pharisees what His authority was unless they could tell Him whether they believed in John's mission. He refused to tell them what they could not understand except upon a previous condition. Were they still the proud, contemptuous, self-exalting men whom John had denounced? They could not know what Christ's authority was; they could not enter into its meaning, let it be defined to them with the most Divine accuracy. Had they listened to John's words? had they felt that they as much as any Gentile needed to be cleansed, and that God must cleanse them? had they received the call to repentance as the best, most comfortable, most Divine of all messages, not only to the publican, but to them? Then they were in a condition to be taught about that mysterious government over the heart and will which Christ carries on; then they could feel something of the freedom and universality and penetrating quality of His royal grace. Every prophet had come proclaiming that valleys were to be exalted, that mountains and hills were to be made low, because every prophet had come witnessing of a Divine and eternal and invisible kingdom, which claims all as its subjects, which refuses its blessings to none who do not choose to be without them.
F. D. Maurice, Sermons, vol. iv., p. 95.
References: Matthew 21:23-46.—Parker, Inner Life of Christ, vol. iii., p. 109. Matthew 21:25.—Homiletic Magazine, vol. x., p. 99.
Matthew 21:28I. There are two spheres of human duty, the individual and the social. Individually, it is our duty to "work out our own salvation with fear and trembling;" to listen to the voice of God, and hearing, to obey it; to "keep our bodies in temperance, soberness, and chastity;" to keep our minds in the love of that truth which maketh free; and so walk along the path of life that the heaven-appointed guardians of the human soul, the two great angels of duty and conscience, may hold us by the hand and never turn upon us their calm looks of awful indignation. But this individual duty cannot be performed without due recognition of our social duty. Our own souls will suffer, our Christian life will shrivel into a paltry and repellent thing, unless, in the spirit of love and not of officialism, of humbleness and not of religious superiority, we recognize our solemn responsibility to our brethren who are in the world, and learn out of noble motives to do noble deeds.
II. How are nations saved? When they are conquered? when they are in peril? In what way can deliverance come to them? It comes by the work of a single man, or by the united passion and energy of a whole people, or by both combined. Churches and religions are saved in exactly the same way. A decadent nation must pray, "O God, give us heroes, give us patriots, give us men." And a weakened Church and faith must pray, "O God, give us prophets, give us saints." One man who is in earnest, one man who can see the beckoning hands which others cannot see, and who amid the universal roar of base and virulent gossip has heard the "still small voice" which others cannot hear—such a man will do more than a million of the languid and conventional. What made Christianity conquer the world? Not wealth, not learning, not eloquence, not crystallized dogmas, not the splendour of an amazing hierarchy, or the formalism of an external worship. No, but innocence; no, but absolute unworldliness; no, but the moral vividness of great examples; no, but the sincerity of faith which, seeing Him who is invisible, hurled itself against the unbelief of the world—the force of a belief which counted all things as dross for the work of God. "You see the day is passed by when the Church could say, Silver and gold have I none," said Innocent
III. when he saw the bags of gold being carted into the Vatican. "Yes, holy father, and the day is also passed when the Church could say to the cripple, Arise and walk."
F. W. Farrar, Christian World Pulpit, vol. xxvi., p. 1.
References: Matthew 21:28.—Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. xxiii., No. 1338; J. Morgan, Christian World Pulpit, vol. xx., p. 5.
Matthew 21:28-30Promising without Doing.
We promise to serve God; we do not perform; and that not from deliberate faithlessness in the particular case, but because it is our nature, our way not to obey, and we do not know this; we do not know ourselves or what we are promising. Note several instances of this kind of weakness:—
I. That of mistaking good feelings for real religious principle. How often is a man incited by circumstances to utter a virtuous wish, or propose a generous or valiant deed, and perhaps applauds himself for his own good feeling, and has no suspicion that he is not able to act upon it. It escapes him that there is a great interval between feeling and acting. He knows he is a free agent, and can on the whole do what he will; but he is not conscious of the load of corrupt nature and sinful habits which hang upon his will, and clog it in each particular exercise of it.
II. One especial case of this self-deception is seen in delaying repentance. Nothing but past acts are the vouchers for future. Past sacrifices, past labours, past victories over yourselves—these are the tokens of the like in store, and doubtless of greater in store. But trust nothing short of these. "Deeds, not words and wishes," this must be the watchword of your warfare and the ground of your assurance.
III. Another plausible form of the same error is a mistake concerning what is meant by faith. Dead faith, as St. James says, profits no man. What, on the other hand, is living faith? Do fervent thoughts make faith living? St. James tells us otherwise. He tells us works, deeds of obedience, are the life of faith. As far as we know anything of the matter, justifying faith has no existence independent of its particular definite acts. It may be described as the temper under which men obey; the humble and earnest desire to please Christ which causes and attends on actual services.
J. H. Newman, Parochial and Plain Sermons, vol. i., p. 165.
Matthew 21:28-31We must not lose sight of the fact that in this parable both the persons who were addressed were sons. And this is exactly our position. In a sense—in a high and true sense—we are all God's children, not by creation only, but by baptism, and we cannot escape. The weight of life lies upon the fact of our being God's children.
I. Three points lie on the surface of this subject. (1) The argument of the Father's appeal lay upon the sonship. (2) A call to grace is a call to work. (3) There is the instantaneousness of obedience; that which at once makes the essence of a duty, the ease of a duty, and the possibility of a duty. "Go work today in my vineyard."
II. Notice the first reception: "He answered and said, I will not; but afterward he repented, and went." He stands out to us, then: a man thoroughly honest, but opposed; strong in character, resolute in will; his nature hostile to God's will; but presently, grace working in his mind, and his mind working with the grace, he is abashed and ashamed; rightly perceiving, he follows quickly on juster views; and he repented, and went. Why had not this man, this son, the will to work in his father's vineyard? (1) He did not really love, or know his father. (2) He liked the imaginary independence which he felt in being his own master outside. (3) The labour which he knew would be inside contrasted unpleasantly in his mind with the play and gaiety of the outer life which he was now leading. (4) The urgency of the demand little suited his desultory and procrastinating mind.
III. Whether in the interval between the "I will not" and the "he repented, and went," there were any particular influences which were brought to bear strongly on his mind, we are not told. (1) No doubt his father's wish was still echoing in his heart. (2) The vineyard would stand to him every day in a happier aspect. A higher ambition began to fill his mind. (3) Above all, his sentiments towards his father changed. He saw him as he was—his friend, the best of friends, the one who loved him as no other had loved, or could love, him. Nearness to his father became the one object of his life, and so his changed feelings reversed his steps; the door of the vineyard was open to him yet; and the young man "repented, and went."
J. Vaughan, Fifty Sermons, 4th series, p. 46.
Reference: Matthew 21:28-31.—J. Thain Davidson, Forewarned—Forearmed, p. 121.
Matthew 21:28-32The Two Sons.
In this parable there are two distinct warnings to two distinct classes, with corresponding encouragements attached, as shadows follow solid bodies in the sunlight;—to the publicans and harlots first, and next to the Pharisees of the day.
I. There is a class amongst us answering to those publicans and sinners to whom Jesus was wont to address the message of His mercy. To this class the parable proclaims a warning. A rank, soporific superstition has crept over these free and easy spirits—a superstition as dark and deceitful as any of the inventions of Rome. Men seem actually to persuade themselves that their very wickedness will supply them with a passport into heaven. It is a false hope. Without holiness no man shall see God. The absence of a hypocritical pretension to holiness will not be accepted instead of holiness. It was all right with the profane son in the parable; but mark, he repented and obeyed. But to this class the parable speaks encouragement as well as warning. So great is God's mercy in Christ that even you are welcome when you come.
II. There is still a class corresponding to the Pharisees, and to these the Lord in this parable conveys both warning and encouragement. There is encouragement to the Pharisee as well as to the publican to turn and live. There is no respect of persons with God; the Pharisee was as welcome to Christ as the publican, if he would come. When a self-righteous man discovers himself at last to be a whited sepulchre, and, counting his own righteousness filthy rags, flies to Christ as his righteousness, he is instantly accepted in the Beloved.
W. Arnot, The Parables of Our Lord, p. 223.
I. Every man has a mission from God.
II. The mission which most of us are sent into the world to fulfil is described in the short practical word "work."
III. The scene of the work is God's vineyard. (1) Our own hearts. (2) Our own households. (3) Scenes of daily life. (4) Church and its institutions.
IV. The work is pressing and urgent, and the time at which, if never before, God would have us begin, "today."
V. See how, according to this parable, men treat the command. (1) Some profess to obey, but do actually disobey. (2) Some refuse at first, but afterwards obey.
J. R. Bailey, Contemporary Pulpit, vol. iv., p. 100.
I. "A certain man had a vineyard." It is under this guise that our God appears to us. He is as the holder of a vineyard, who is dependent on help for securing increase. The vineyard needs to be irrigated; the soil must be loosened about the roots of the vines; weeds must be struck down on their first appearance; over-luxuriant shoots of the vine must be pruned. Using this similitude, God comes condescendingly with the illustration of the fact that He asks service of His people.
II. The owner of the vineyard asks his two sons for help in its cultivation. With a father's authority he says, "Go work today in my vineyard." The demand is for immediate service, and that throughout a definite time of short duration.
III. The poor beginning made by both sons on that day when the father's demand for service came upon them must first have attention. When the father looks to his sons for help in cultivating his vineyard, he receives a direct refusal from the first, and though the other makes a promise of help, that promise is not kept. There lies before us here a representation of the conduct of our whole race in disobeying God's demand for service. When God calls to men for service there is universal disobedience to the call.
IV. While universal disobedience is the first result which God beholds, He is not left altogether without service on the earth. But that service comes after disobedience, being in all cases a recoil from it, brought about by the working of God's own grace. In the case of many there is at length entrance of service by the gateway of repentance. The repentance which turns from sin and guides to pardon, guides by the next step to the beginning of a life of holy service. The passing sight here given us of this son entering by the vineyard gate, with all the signs of preparation for work, is the parabolic representation of an essential feature of Christian life—true service following on repentance.
H. Calderwood, The Parables of Our Lord, p. 163.
References: Matthew 21:28-32.—Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. xiii., No. 742; Homiletic Magazine, vol. vi., p. 347; A. H. Bruce. Parabolic Teaching of Christ, p. 438; Parker, Hidden Springs, p. 294.
Matthew 21:30Swift Tongue, Slow Foot.
I. The first characteristic of the swift tongue and slow foot is unbelief. "I go, sir." How admirably this expresses the acknowledgment of that character which gives a general assent to the fact of God's Being and Providence, but without power of disposition to make that faith the rule of life, like those Israelites of whom it was said by St. Paul, "So then we see they could not enter in because of unbelief."
II. Another characteristic of the swift tongue and slow foot is indifference. Truth is truth; but if men are not interested in it, it will not influence the life. There is truth like useless furniture in the head, and there is much that may be called the useless furniture of religion. Men are rather puzzled than profited by it. They are certainly not interested by it. They bow their heads in assent; they give their acknowledgment to it; but they never live in the light of it.
III. Another impediment is in the manifoldness of intellectual objects; hence it is that wit, learning, and imagination may be—they need not be, they ought not to be, but they may be—hindrances to religion.
IV. And then there is another cause in the burden: "And he went not." For, usually, every man has one load to carry which retards him in his journey. Men have usually only one besetting sin; but they have one strong predominant energy in their nature which may become a vice, a sin that easily besets them. But their whole character is in that one; the conflict hangs upon that.
V. Religion will only become the light, law, and rule of our lives when it, too, becomes a ruling passion. It is the presence of an idea, like the presence of a person, which gives to it its power; we must hunger and thirst after righteousness; we must live in the very life of the holy Law, and count ourselves "not to have already attained, but to be still following after."
E. Paxton Hood, Christian World Pulpit, vol. v., p. 241.
Reference: Matthew 21:30.—H. W. Beecher, Sermons, 1st series, p. 414.
Matthew 21:31I. The command, "Son, go work today in My vineyard," is given to us at all times. It was given us at our baptism; it was given to us at the first dawnings of our understanding, when the still, small voice of conscience warned us that we must not be selfish, or false, or disobedient, but must be subject to a higher and purer law than that of our own inclinations. It is given to us at every change or crisis of our lives.
II. The command is addressed to us as sons. Would that we could all feel that we are indeed God's children; that we are not called to the odious task-work of slaves, but to the labour of love, which every son should render to a Father from whom he has received every blessing which he enjoys. Observe, again, that our Father trusts us and places confidence in us when He bids us work. The words are, "Go work today in My vineyard." He trusts that we shall not disobey Him.
III. Consider the answers given by the two sons, and their subsequent conduct when commanded to go and work in their father's vineyard. The first shows by his blunt and sullen reply, "I will not," that he is the representative of those who are utterly reckless and careless; he does not deceive his own conscience by making excuses; he flatly refuses obedience. The other son, in the first part of his conduct, has many representatives. His after-conduct should warn us against the snares which may prevent us from fulfilling our resolutions, and which may cause us to resemble the second son's miserable end. Whether we regard the danger of self-righteousness and self-confidence, or of trusting only to good impulses instead of devoted Christian resolution and the help of God's Spirit, or the ordinary temptation of selfishness on the one hand, and forgetfulness on the other, there is no one, however good the resolutions which he has formed, who has not abundant reason to pray God that he may be delivered from the withering condemnation of the text.
Bishop Cotton, Marlborough Sermons, p. 78.
References: Matthew 21:33-41.—Homiletic Magazine, vol. vii., p. 40; A. B. Bruce, Parabolic Teaching of Christ, p. 447. Matthew 21:33-44.—R. Calderwood, The Parables of Our Lord, p. 7. Matthew 21:33-46.—W. Arnot, The Parables of Our Lord, p. 237. Matthew 21:37.—R. D. B. Rawnsley, Village Sermons, 3rd series, p. 12.
Matthew 21:44I. Every man has some kind of connection with Christ.
II. The immediate issue of rejection of Christ is loss and maiming.
III. The ultimate issue of unbelief is irremediable destruction when Christ begins to move.
A. Maclaren, Sermons preached in Manchester, p. 1.
References: Matthew 21:42.—J. Vaughan, Three Hundred Outlines on the New Testament, p. 27. Matt 21-25—A. B. Bruce, The Training of the Twelve, p. 324.
Saying unto them, Go into the village over against you, and straightway ye shall find an ass tied, and a colt with her: loose them, and bring them unto me.
And if any man say ought unto you, ye shall say, The Lord hath need of them; and straightway he will send them.
All this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, saying,
Tell ye the daughter of Sion, Behold, thy King cometh unto thee, meek, and sitting upon an ass, and a colt the foal of an ass.
And the disciples went, and did as Jesus commanded them,
And brought the ass, and the colt, and put on them their clothes, and they set him thereon.
And a very great multitude spread their garments in the way; others cut down branches from the trees, and strawed them in the way.
And the multitudes that went before, and that followed, cried, saying, Hosanna to the Son of David: Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord; Hosanna in the highest.
And when he was come into Jerusalem, all the city was moved, saying, Who is this?
And the multitude said, This is Jesus the prophet of Nazareth of Galilee.
And Jesus went into the temple of God, and cast out all them that sold and bought in the temple, and overthrew the tables of the moneychangers, and the seats of them that sold doves,
And said unto them, It is written, My house shall be called the house of prayer; but ye have made it a den of thieves.
And the blind and the lame came to him in the temple; and he healed them.
And when the chief priests and scribes saw the wonderful things that he did, and the children crying in the temple, and saying, Hosanna to the Son of David; they were sore displeased,
And said unto him, Hearest thou what these say? And Jesus saith unto them, Yea; have ye never read, Out of the mouth of babes and sucklings thou hast perfected praise?
And he left them, and went out of the city into Bethany; and he lodged there.
Now in the morning as he returned into the city, he hungered.
And when he saw a fig tree in the way, he came to it, and found nothing thereon, but leaves only, and said unto it, Let no fruit grow on thee henceforward for ever. And presently the fig tree withered away.
And when the disciples saw it, they marvelled, saying, How soon is the fig tree withered away!
Jesus answered and said unto them, Verily I say unto you, If ye have faith, and doubt not, ye shall not only do this which is done to the fig tree, but also if ye shall say unto this mountain, Be thou removed, and be thou cast into the sea; it shall be done.
And all things, whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer, believing, ye shall receive.
And when he was come into the temple, the chief priests and the elders of the people came unto him as he was teaching, and said, By what authority doest thou these things? and who gave thee this authority?
And Jesus answered and said unto them, I also will ask you one thing, which if ye tell me, I in like wise will tell you by what authority I do these things.
The baptism of John, whence was it? from heaven, or of men? And they reasoned with themselves, saying, If we shall say, From heaven; he will say unto us, Why did ye not then believe him?
But if we shall say, Of men; we fear the people; for all hold John as a prophet.
And they answered Jesus, and said, We cannot tell. And he said unto them, Neither tell I you by what authority I do these things.
But what think ye? A certain man had two sons; and he came to the first, and said, Son, go work to day in my vineyard.
He answered and said, I will not: but afterward he repented, and went.
And he came to the second, and said likewise. And he answered and said, I go, sir: and went not.
Whether of them twain did the will of his father? They say unto him, The first. Jesus saith unto them, Verily I say unto you, That the publicans and the harlots go into the kingdom of God before you.
For John came unto you in the way of righteousness, and ye believed him not: but the publicans and the harlots believed him: and ye, when ye had seen it, repented not afterward, that ye might believe him.
Hear another parable: There was a certain householder, which planted a vineyard, and hedged it round about, and digged a winepress in it, and built a tower, and let it out to husbandmen, and went into a far country:
And when the time of the fruit drew near, he sent his servants to the husbandmen, that they might receive the fruits of it.
And the husbandmen took his servants, and beat one, and killed another, and stoned another.
Again, he sent other servants more than the first: and they did unto them likewise.
But last of all he sent unto them his son, saying, They will reverence my son.
But when the husbandmen saw the son, they said among themselves, This is the heir; come, let us kill him, and let us seize on his inheritance.
And they caught him, and cast him out of the vineyard, and slew him.
When the lord therefore of the vineyard cometh, what will he do unto those husbandmen?
They say unto him, He will miserably destroy those wicked men, and will let out his vineyard unto other husbandmen, which shall render him the fruits in their seasons.
Jesus saith unto them, Did ye never read in the scriptures, The stone which the builders rejected, the same is become the head of the corner: this is the Lord's doing, and it is marvellous in our eyes?
Therefore say I unto you, The kingdom of God shall be taken from you, and given to a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof.
And whosoever shall fall on this stone shall be broken: but on whomsoever it shall fall, it will grind him to powder.
And when the chief priests and Pharisees had heard his parables, they perceived that he spake of them.
But when they sought to lay hands on him, they feared the multitude, because they took him for a prophet.