Matthew 21:45
When the chief priests and Pharisees heard Jesus' parables, they knew He was speaking about them.
Sermons
Goodness and SeverityJ.A. Macdonald Matthew 21:33-46
The Marriage of the King's SonMarcus Dods Matthew 21:45-22:14
The Adaptation of the Gospel to the Circumstances of the PoorH. Melvill, B. D.Matthew 21:45-46
This parable, taken along with the parable of the two sons and the parable of the wicked husbandmen, forms a climax to them. In the first, God is represented as a Father issuing a command; in the second, as a Householder who expects the performance of a contract; in the third parable, God appears as a King, not commanding, but looking for acceptance of an enviable invitation. Already the kingdom of God had been likened to a feast, but here prominence is given to the circumstance of the host being a King, and the occasion the marriage of his son, and it is impossible to avoid the impression that our Lord meant to indicate that he was the King's Son. He and John had both familiarized the people with the title Bridegroom as applied to the Messiah. But it is rather from God's side than from man's the Bridegroom is here viewed. In Christ God and man are made one. No union can be so close. And in this, the greatest event in God's reign, and the indestructible glory of humanity, God might well expect that men should rejoice with him. Proclamation had been made, invitation given, and people remained wholly indifferent. The earnest sincerity of God in seeking our good in this matter is marked by one or two unmistakable traits.

1. By the King's willing observance of every form of courtesy. One of these is the sending of a second messenger to announce the actual readiness of the feast. And so God had not only sent the prophets, bidding the Jews expect this festival, but sent John to remind and bring them. And so he still offers his blessings in ways which leave the reluctant without apology, he considers your needs and your feelings, and what he offers is that in which he has his own chief joy - fellowship with his Son.

2. By his wrath against the murderers. You may be so little in earnest about God's invitation that you scarcely seriously consider whether it is to be accepted or not, but nothing can so occupy him as to turn his observation from you. To save sinners from destruction is his grand purpose, and no success in other parts of his government can repay him for failure here. The last scene in the parable forms an appendix directed to a special section in the audience. Seeing the gates of the kingdom thrown open, and absolute, unconditioned freedom of entrance given, the ill living and godless might be led to overlook the great moral change requisite in all who enter God's presence and propose to hold intercourse with him. The refusal of the wedding dress provided was not only studied contempt and insult, but showed alienation of spirit, disaffection, want of sympathy with the feelings of the king. The guest must have lacked the festive spirit, and was therefore "a spot in the feast." He sits there out of harmony with the spirit of the occasion, and disloyal to his king. Therefore is his punishment swift and sudden. The eye of the king marks the intruder, and neither the outer darkness of an Eastern street, nor the pitchy blackness in which he lies unseen and helpless, can hide him from that gaze of his Lord which he feels to be imprinted on his conscience forever. In applying this parable, we may mark:

(1) That there is no way of accepting God's invitation without accepting his spirit, character, and ways. There is no real acceptance, no abiding in God's favour, where there is no growing likeness to him. Conformity to God, ability to rejoice with God and in God, humble and devoted reverence, - these are great attainments; but these constitute our wedding garment, without which we cannot remain in his presence or abide his searching eye. No associating of yourself with those that love him, no outward entrance into his presence, will avail; it is the heart you bear towards him that wilt determine your destiny.

(2) There is abundant encouragement to all who are willing and desirous to put on the Lord Jesus. It is the first duty of every host to make his guest feel at home, and therefore does God provide us not only with great outward blessings, but with all that can make us feel easy and glad in his presence. He offers not only enjoyment, but power to enjoy. If you are conscious that you could not be easy in God's presence without great alterations in your character, your invitation is guarantee that these will be made. If you could not be easy in his presence without knowing that he was aware of all you had thought and done against him, and forgave you; if you could not eat at the table of one against whom you harboured ill will, nor enjoy any entertainment without genuine love of your host; - then this will be communicated to you on your acceptance of God's invitation. Does your unfitness, even more than your unworthiness, deter you? Here you see that God invites you as you are. - D.







They feared the multitude, because they took Him for a prophet.
"The multitude" were pleased with Christ and took Him for a prophet. The pleasure which our text indicates may be referred to wrong motives; they were glad to see others humbled and rebuked. We often repine at the superiority of those above us, and are gratified when any wound is inflicted on their vanity. Not that Christ desired by artful means to gain the favour of the inferior orders. Often in theological controversy men applaud not from love of the truth, but because some one has been repulsed. We take the supposition that the pleasure of the multitude, in part at least, was produced by the general tenor of Christ's preaching, and not by a triumphant exposure of the sins of their rulers. Let us examine into the causes from which it came to pass that discourses which were distasteful to the great amongst the Jews found acceptance with the multitude. No doubt reasons could be derived from the peculiar circumstances of the Jewish nation; their expectation of a temporal prince, which was stronger in the higher classes than in the lower. Had the lower classes been left to themselves, it is probable that the Christ who healed their sick would have been accepted. But this is true of our own day — the multitudes, as distinguished from others, have an interest in hearing the gospel. It gains a hold on them which makes them "take Christ for a prophet." Here it is that the Almighty has introduced one of those counterpoises which cause good and evil to be distributed with considerable equality notwithstanding the marked difference in human conditions. Wealth and learning are great advantages viewed in reference to the present life; but in regard to the other life the circumstances of their life facilitate their eternal good. The poor man has little to attach him to earth; the rich is surrounded by things that fascinate him, also there are prejudices against the gospel peculiar to the rich which the illiterate cannot share. The gospel sets the poor amongst princes; the rich and great cling to artificial distinctions. The poverty of Christ was an offence to the rich; it was an attraction to the poor. The gospel cannot reach the heart without supernatural power of the Holy Spirit; but if we take the doctrines of Christianity — the mediatorial work — imputation of righteousness — we might contend that the common people are in a better position than others to admit them. In the outcasts of society there is not found that haughty self-reliance; the gospel is more welcome to them. The Bible seems to have been composed with express reference to the poor. But we must not overlook the fact that those who took Christ for a prophet finally rejected and crucified Him. "Be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only."

(H. Melvill, B. D.)

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