There were present at that season some that told him of the Galilaeans, whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices.
Verses 1-9. - Signs of the times. The Lord continues his solemn warnings. Israel pictured in the parable of the barren fig tree. Verse 1. - There were present at that season some that told him of the Galilaeans, whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices; better rendered, now there were present at that particular time; namely, when the Master was discoursing of the threatening signs of the times, and urging men to repent and to turn and make their peace with God while there was yet time, for a terrible crisis was impending on that doomed land. Some of those then present, probably Jerusalem Jews, specially told off to watch the great Teacher, struck with his grave foreboding tone, when he spoke of the present aspect of affairs, quoted to him a recent bloody fray which had taken place in the temple courts. "Yes, Master," these seemed to say, "we see there is a fierce hatred which is ever growing more intense between Jew and Roman. You know, for instance, what has just taken place in the city, only the victims in this case were Galilaeans, not scrupulous, righteous Jews. Is it not possible that these bloody deeds are simply punishments of men who are great sinners, as these doubtless were?" Such-like incidents were often now occurring under the Roman rule. This, likely enough, had taken place at some crowded Passover gathering, when a detachment of soldiers came down from the Castle of Antonia and had dealt a red-handed "justice" among the turbulent mob. Josephus relates several of the more formidable of such collisions between the Romans and the Jews. At one Passover he relates how three thousand Jews were butchered, and the temple courts were filled with dead corpses; at another of these feasts two thousand perished in like manner (see ' Ant.,' 17:9. 3; 20:5.3; and ' Bell. Jud.,' 2:5; 5:1). On another occasion disguised legionaries were sent by Pilate the governor with daggers among the Passover crowds (see 'Ant.,' 18:31). These wild and terrible collisions were of frequent occurrence in these sad days.
And Jesus answering said unto them, Suppose ye that these Galilaeans were sinners above all the Galilaeans, because they suffered such things?
Verses 2, 3. - And Jesus answering said unto them, Suppose ye that these Galilaeans were sinners above all the Galilaeans, because they suffered such things! I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish. "Yes," answered the Master," these, you are right, are among the dread signs of the times I spoke of; but do not dream that the doom fell on those poor victims because they were special sinners. What happened to them will soon be the doom of the whole nation, unless a great change in the life of Israel takes place."
I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish.
Or those eighteen, upon whom the tower in Siloam fell, and slew them, think ye that they were sinners above all men that dwelt in Jerusalem?
Verse 4. - Or those eighteen, upon whom the tower in Siloam fell, and slew them, think ye that they were sinners above all men that dwelt in Jerusalem? "You remember," goes on the Master, "the catastrophe of the fall of the tower in Siloam; the poor sufferers who were crushed there were not specially wicked men." The Lord used these occasions, we see, for something more than the great national lesson. Men are too ready, now as then, to give way to the unloving error of looking at individual misfortune as the consequence of individual crime. Such human uncharitable judgments the Lord bitterly condemns. Ewald's conjecture in connection with this Siloam accident is ingenious. He supposes that the rigid Jews looked on the catastrophe as a retribution because the workmen who perished were paid by Pilate out of the sacred corban money (see Josephus, 'Bell. Jud.,' 2:09. 4). The works were no doubt in connection with the aqueduct to the Pool of Siloam.
I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish.
Verse 5. - Except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish. The words were indeed prophetic to the letter. Thousands of Jews perished in the last terrible war by the swords of the Roman legionaries, like the Galilaeans of ver. 1; not a few met their death in the capital among the ruins of the burning fallen houses. We know that Jerusalem in its entirety was destroyed, and the loss of life in the siege, and especially in its dread closing scenes, was simply incalculable. Within forty years all this happened.
He spake also this parable; A certain man had a fig tree planted in his vineyard; and he came and sought fruit thereon, and found none.
Verse 6. - He spake also this parable: A certain man had a fig tree planted in his vineyard. And then, without any further prelude, Jesus spoke this parable of the barren fig tree, which contained, in language scarcely veiled at all, warnings to Israel as a nation - the most sombre and threatening he had yet given utterance to. "Hear, O people," said the Master. "In the vineyard of the Lord of hosts is a fig tree, long planted there, but utterly unfruitful. It is now on its last trial; indeed, were it not for the intercession of the Gardener, the Lord of the vineyard had already pronounced its final doom." "The very intercession, though, is ominous; the Vinedresser shows his mercifulness by deprecating immediate cutting down, but the careful specification of conditions, and the limitation of the period within which experiments are to be made, intimate that peril is imminent... The restriction of the intercession of the Vinedresser for a single year's grace indicates Christ's own sympathy with this Divine rigour... The Vinedresser knows that, though God is long-suffering, yet his patience as exhibited in the history of his dealings with men is exhaustible, and that in Israel's case it is now all but worn out. And he sympathizes with the Divine impatience with chronic and incurable sterility" (Professor Bruce). A fig tree planted in his vineyard; and he came and sought fruit thereon, and found none. It is not an uncommon practice to plant fig trees at the corners of vineyards, thus utilizing every available spot of ground. Still the Lord's choice of a fig tree as the symbol of Israel, the chosen people, is at first sight strange. This image was no doubt selected to show those Pharisees and other Jews, proud of what they considered their unassailable position as the elect of the Eternal, that, after all, the position they occupied was but that of a fig tree in the corner of the vineyard of the world - planted there and watched over so long as it promised to serve the Lord of the vineyard's purpose; if it ceased to do that, if it gave no further promise of fruit, then it would be ruthlessly cut down.
Then said he unto the dresser of his vineyard, Behold, these three years I come seeking fruit on this fig tree, and find none: cut it down; why cumbereth it the ground?
Verse 7. - Behold, these three years I come seeking fruit on this fig tree, and find none. Some expositors see in this period of three years an allusion to the storied past of Hebrew life, and in the number 3 discern the three marked epochs, each lasting several centuries, of the high priests, judges, and kings. This, however, is a very doubtful reference, owing to the impossibility of separating the first two periods of the rule of high priests and judges, as these interchange and overlap each other. Another school of interpreters sees a reference to the three years of the public ministry of Jesus. A better reference would be God's successive calls to Israel by the Law, the prophets, and by Christ. It is, however, safer, in this and m many of the Lord's parables, not to press every little detail which was necessary for the completion of the picture. Here the period of three years in which the Lord of the vineyard came seeking fruit, represents by the number 3 the symbol of complete-ness - a period of full opportunity given to the tree to have become fruitful and productive. Cut it down; why cumbereth it the ground? better rendered, why doth it make the ground useless? It is an unproductive tree, and occupies the place which another and a fertile tree might fill.
And he answering said unto him, Lord, let it alone this year also, till I shall dig about it, and dung it:
Verse 8. - And he answering said unto him, Lord, let it alone this year also, till I shall dig about it, and dung it. The last year - the year of grace they who listened to him then were living in. It was the last summons to repentance, the final reminder to the old covenant people that to their high privileges as the chosen race there were duties attached. They prided themselves on the privileges, they utterly forgot the duties. The period represented by this last year included the preaching of John the Baptist, the public ministry of Jesus Christ, and the forty years of apostolic teaching which followed the Crucifixion and Resurrection. The last chance was given, but in the Vinedresser's prayer to the Lord of the vineyard there is scarcely a ray of hope. The history of the world supplies the sequel to this parable-story.
And if it bear fruit, well: and if not, then after that thou shalt cut it down.
And he was teaching in one of the synagogues on the sabbath.
Verses 10-17. - A miracle of mercy. The Lord's teaching on certain strict observances of the sabbath day then practised by the more rigid Jews. Verse 10. - And he was teaching in one of the synagogues on the sabbath. We hear little of our Lord's public teaching in the synagogues of the towns and villages through which he was then passing in this his last long journey. In the earlier months of the ministry of Jesus he seems to have taught frequently in these houses of prayer, very possibly every sabbath day. It has been suggested, with considerable probability, that owing to the persistent enmity of the hierarchy and dominant class at Jerusalem, he was excluded from some at least of the synagogues by what was termed the "lesser excommunication."
And, behold, there was a woman which had a spirit of infirmity eighteen years, and was bowed together, and could in no wise lift up herself.
Verse 11. - And, behold, there was a woman which had a spirit of infirmity eighteen years, and was bowed together, and could in no wise lift up herself. The description of the sufferer, so accurate in its details, marks the medical training of the compiler here. The malady was evidently a curvature of the spine of a very grave character. Her presence in the synagogue that day gives us a hint, at least, that this poor afflicted one loved communion with her God. Doubtless the faith and trust on her side necessary to the cure were there. Her first act, after she was sensible of the blessed change wrought in her poor diseased frame, was an outpouring of devout thanks to God.
And when Jesus saw her, he called her to him, and said unto her, Woman, thou art loosed from thine infirmity.
And he laid his hands on her: and immediately she was made straight, and glorified God.
And the ruler of the synagogue answered with indignation, because that Jesus had healed on the sabbath day, and said unto the people, There are six days in which men ought to work: in them therefore come and be healed, and not on the sabbath day.
Verse 14. - And the ruler of the synagogue answered with indignation, because that Jesus had healed on the sabbath day. The people, as usual, were stirred to enthusiasm by this glorious act of power and mercy. Afraid, before the congregation of the synagogue, to attack the Master personally, the "ruler," no doubt influenced by members of the Pharisee party who were present, at. tempted to represent the great Physician as a deliberate scorner of the sacred Law. The sabbath regulations at this time were excessively burdensome and childishly rigorous. The Law, as expounded in the schools of the rabbis, allowed physicians to act in cases of emergency, but not in chronic diseases such as this. How deep an interest must such a memory of the Master's as this sabbath day's healing have had for that beloved physician who has given his name to these memoirs we call the Third Gospel! Often in later years, in Syrian Antioch, in the great cities of Italy and Greece, would he, as he plied his blessed craft among the sick on the sabbath day, be attacked by rigid Jews as one who profaned the day. To such would he relate this incident, and draw his lessons of mercy and of love.
The Lord then answered him, and said, Thou hypocrite, doth not each one of you on the sabbath loose his ox or his ass from the stall, and lead him away to watering?
Verse 15. - The Lord then answered him, and said, Thou hypocrite, doth not each one of you on the sabbath loose his ox or his ass from the stall, and lead him away to watering? The older authorities here read "hypocrites," and thus join the cavilling synagogue ruler with the whole sect of men who taught an elaborate ritual in place of a high, pure life. The Lord, in a few master-touches, exposes the hollowness of such sabbath-keeping. Every possible indulgence was to be shown in cases where their own interests were involved; no mercy or indulgence was to be thought of, though, where the sick poor only were concerned. He vividly draws a contrast between the animal and the human being. The ox and the ass, though, were personal property; the afflicted daughter of Abraham was but a woman, friendless and poor.
And ought not this woman, being a daughter of Abraham, whom Satan hath bound, lo, these eighteen years, be loosed from this bond on the sabbath day?
And when he had said these things, all his adversaries were ashamed: and all the people rejoiced for all the glorious things that were done by him.
Then said he, Unto what is the kingdom of God like? and whereunto shall I resemble it?
Verses 18-21. - The Lord, is two little prophetic parables tells the people how strangely and mightily his religion would spread over the earth. Verse 18. - Then said he, Unto what is the kingdom of God like? and whereunto shall I resemble it? In the seventeenth verse - after the Lord's words spoken to his enemies, who took exception at his miracle of healing worked for the poor woman who had been bent for eighteen years, because he had done it on the sabbath day - we read how "all his adversaries were ashamed; and all the people rejoiced for all the glorious things that were done by him." This discomfiture of the hypocrites, and the honest joy of the simple folk over a noble and Divine deed of mercy, accompanied by brave, kind words, seem to have suggested to the Master the subject of the two little parables of the mustard seed and the leaven, in which parables the growth of his glorious kingdom was foreshadowed from very small beginnings. The very small beginning he could discern in what then surrounded him.
It is like a grain of mustard seed, which a man took, and cast into his garden; and it grew, and waxed a great tree; and the fowls of the air lodged in the branches of it.
Verse 19. - It is like a grain of mustard seed, which a man took, and cast into his garden; and it grew, and waxed a great tree; and the fowls of the air lodged in the branches of it. The simile was a well-known one in the Jewish world. "As small as a grain of mustard seed" was a proverb current among the people in those days. In Eastern countries this little seed often becomes a tree, and stories are even told of mustard trees so tall that a man could climb up into their branches or ride beneath them on horseback. Such instances are possibly very rare, but it is a common sight to see a mustard plant, raised from one of these minute grains, grown to the height of a fruit tree, putting forth branches on which birds build their nests. It was with sorrowful irony that the great Teacher compared the kingdom of God in those days to this small grain. The kingdom of God on earth then was composed of Jesus and his few wavering followers. To the eye of sense it seemed impossible that this little movement could ever stir the world, could ever become a society of mighty dimensions, "See," said the Master, taking up a little mustard seed; "does this seem as though it would ever become a tree with spreading branches on which the birds might rest? The kingdom of God is like this seed."
And again he said, Whereunto shall I liken the kingdom of God?
It is like leaven, which a woman took and hid in three measures of meal, till the whole was leavened.
Verse 21. - It is like leaven, which a woman took and hid in three measures of meal, till the whole was leavened. The first of these two little parables of the kingdom, "the mustard seed," portrayed its strangely rapid growth. The second, "the leaven," treats of the mighty inward transformation which the kingdom of God will effect in the hearts of men and women. Chemically speaking, leaven is a lump of sour dough in which putrefaction has begun, and, on being introduced into a far greater mass of fresh dough, produces by contagion a similar condition into the greater bulk with which it comes in contact. The result of the contact, however, is that the mass of dough, acted upon by the little lump of leaven, becomes a wholesome, agreeable food for men. It was a singularly striking and powerful simile, this little commonplace comparison, and exactly imaged the future progress of "the kingdom." Quietly, silently, the doctrine of the Master made its way into the hearts and homes of men. "He shall not strive, nor cry; neither shall any man hear his voice in the streets" (Matthew 12:19). None on earth would have dared hint at the future success of the doctrine of the Master during the Master's life, and his death seemed as though it would effectually crush out the last feeble spark of life. The apparent result of his work was the devotion of a few simple hearts, mostly of fishermen, artisans, and the like, and yet, though men suspected it not, the secret and powerful influence was already at work among men. The story of the years succeeding the cross and the Resurrection, on a broader stage and with more actors, was a story of similar silent, quiet working. In a century and a half after the strange leaven-parable had been spoken, the whole civilized world knew something of the Master's history and doctrine. His disciples then were counted by tens of thousands. No city, scarcely a village, but contained some into whose hearts the teaching had sunk, whose lives the teaching had changed. In three measures of meal. Perhaps referring here to the well-known division of man into body, soul, and spirit. More likely, however, the number 3 is used as the symbol of completeness, signifying that the Divine purpose was then influencing the whole mass of mankind. Till the whole was leavened. It would seem as though the Master looked on to a definite time when all nations should come and worship him, and acknowledge his glorious sovereignty. If this be the case, then a very long period still remains to be lived through by the world; many kingdoms must rise and fall, new civilizations spring up, before that day of joy and gladness dawns upon the globe - that is, reasoning on the analogy of the past. Be this, however, as it may, the drift of both these parables of the kingdom distinctly points to a slow yet a progressive development of true religion. Very different, indeed, was the Jewish conception of Messiah's kingdom. They expected a rapid and brilliant metamorphosis of the then unhappy state of things. They never dreamed of the slow and quiet movement Messiah's coming was to inaugurate. One thing is perfectly clear - the Speaker of these two parable-stories never contemplated a speedy return to earth. With strange exactness the last eighteen hundred and fifty years have been fulfilling the conditions of the two similes, and as yet, as far as man can see, they are not nearly complete.
And he went through the cities and villages, teaching, and journeying toward Jerusalem.
Verse 22. - And he went through the cities and villages, teaching, and journeying toward Jerusalem. This note of the evangelist simply calls attention that the last solemn progress in the direction of the capital was still going on. The question has been discussed at length above. St. Luke, by these little notes of time and place, wishes to direct attention to the fact that all this part of the Gospel relates to one great division of the public ministry - to that which immediately preceded the last Passover.
Then said one unto him, Lord, are there few that be saved? And he said unto them,
Verses 23-30. - Jesus replies to the question of "Are there few that be saved?" Verse 23. - Then said one unto him, Lord, are there few that be saved? The immediate circumstance which called out this question is not recorded, but the general tone of the Master's later teaching, especially on the subject of his kingdom of the future, had disturbed the vision of many in Israel, who loved to dwell on the exclusion of all save the chosen race from the glories of the world to come. The words of the Second Book of Esdras, written perhaps forty or fifty years after this time, well reflect this selfish spirit of harsh exclusiveness, peculiarly a characteristic of the Jew in the days of our Lord. "The Most High hath made this world for many, but the world to come for few" (2 Esdr. 8:1). "There be many more of them which perish, than of them which shall be saved: like as a wave is greater than a drop" (2 Esdr. 9:15, 16). Other passages breathing a similar spirit might be quoted. What relics we possess of Jewish literature of this period all reflect the same stern, jealous, exclusive spirit. The questioner here either hoped to get from the popular Master some statement which might be construed into an approval of this national spirit of hatred of everything that was not Jewish, or, if Jesus chose to combat these selfish hopes, the Master's words might then be quoted to the people as unpatriotic.
Strive to enter in at the strait gate: for many, I say unto you, will seek to enter in, and shall not be able.
Verse 24. - Strive to enter in at the strait gate: for many, I say unto you, will seek to enter in, and shall not be able. The Master, as was frequently his custom, gave no direct answer to his questioner, but his teaching which immediately follows contained the answer to the query. The older authorities, in place of "at the strait gate," read "through the narrow door." The meaning of the image, however, is the same, whichever reading be adopted. The image was not a new one. It had been used before by the Lord, perhaps more than once (see Matthew 7:13, 14), and not improbably had been suggested by some town or fortress hard by the spot where he was teaching - a fort on a hill with a narrow road winding up to a narrow door. In the rabbinical schools he frequented in his youth, he might, too, have heard some adaptation of the beautiful allegory known as the 'Tablet' of Cebes, the disciple of Socrates: "Dost thou not perceive a narrow door, and a pathway before the door, in no way crowded, but few, very few, go in thereat?" The teaching of the Master here is, that the door of salvation is a narrow one, and, to pass through it, the man must strive in real earnest. "See," he seems to say; "if only few are saved, it will not be because the Jews are few and the Gentile nations many, but because, of the Jews and Gentiles, only a few really strive. Something different from race or national privileges will be the test at that narrow door which leads to life. "Many will seek to enter in, and shall not be able." The reason for the exclusion of these many is to be sought in themselves. They wished to enter in, but confined themselves to wishes. They made no strong, vigorous efforts. Theirs was no life of stern self-surrender, of painful self-sacrifice. To wish to pass through that narrow door is not enough.
When once the master of the house is risen up, and hath shut to the door, and ye begin to stand without, and to knock at the door, saying, Lord, Lord, open unto us; and he shall answer and say unto you, I know you not whence ye are:
Verse 25. - When once the master of the house is risen up, and hath shut to the door, and ye begin to stand without, and Co knock at the door, saying, Lord, Lord, open unto us; and he shall answer and say unto you, I know you not whence ye are. The great Teacher here slightly changes the imagery. The narrow door no longer is the centre of the picture; one, called the "master of the house," becomes the principal figure. The door now shut may still be, most probably is, the narrow fort or hill-city entrance, and the one called the master is the governor of the Place of Arms, into which the door or gate led. It is now too late even for the earnest striver to enter in. Sunset probably - the shades of night, had the Divine Painter furnished the imagery - would have been the signal for the final closing of the door of the fortress. Death is the period when the door of salvation is shut to the children of men. It has been asked - To what time does the Master refer in the words" when once"? It cannot be the epoch of the ruin of Jerusalem and the breaking up of the Jewish nationality, for then there was nothing in the attitude of the doomed people to answer to the standing without, to the knocking at the door, and to the imploring cries, "Lord, Lord, open unto us," portrayed here. It cannot be the second coming of the Lord; surely then his people will not call on him in vain. It refers, without doubt, to the day of judgment, when the dread award will be pronounced upon the unbelieving, the selfish, and the evil-liver.
Then shall ye begin to say, We have eaten and drunk in thy presence, and thou hast taught in our streets.
Verses 26, 27. - Then shall ye begin to say, We have eaten and drunk in thy presence, and thou hast taught in our streets. But he shall say, I tell you, I know you not whence ye are; depart from me, all ye workers of iniquity. A very stern declaration on the part of Jesus that in the day of judgment no special favour would be granted to the souls of the chosen people. It was part of the reply to the question respecting the "fewness of the saved." The inquirer wished to know the opinion of the great Teacher on the exclusive right of Israel to salvation in the world to come, and this statement, describing salvation as something independent of all questions as to race, was the Master's reply.
But he shall say, I tell you, I know you not whence ye are; depart from me, all ye workers of iniquity.
There shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth, when ye shall see Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, and all the prophets, in the kingdom of God, and you yourselves thrust out.
Verse 28. - There shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth, when ye shall see Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, and all the prophets, in the kingdom of God, and you yourselves thrust out. No less than six times is this terrible formula, which expresses the intensest form of anguish, found in St. Matthew's Gospel. St. Luke only gives us the account of one occasion on which they were spoken. They indicate, as far as merely earthly words and symbols can, the utter misery of those unhappy ones who find themselves shut out from the kingdom in the world to come. "Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob." In his revision of St. Luke's Gospel, Marcion, the famous Gnostic heretic, in place of these names, which he strikes out, inserts "all the just." He did this with a view to lower the value of the Old Testament records.
And they shall come from the east, and from the west, and from the north, and from the south, and shall sit down in the kingdom of God.
Verse 29. - And they shall come from the east, and from the west, and from the north, and from the south, and shall sit down in the kingdom of God. Instead of "shall sit down," a clearer and more accurate rendering would be, shall recline as at a banquet. This image of the heaven-life as a banquet, at which the great Hebrew patriarchs were was a well-known one in popular Hebrew teaching. There is an unmistakable reference to Isaiah 45:6 and Isaiah 49:12 in this announcement of comers to the great banquet of heaven from all the four quarters of the globe. This completes the answer to the question. It forbids any limitation to the numbers of the saved. It distinctly includes in those blessed ranks men from all parts of the far isles of the Gentiles.
And, behold, there are last which shall be first, and there are first which shall be last.
Verse 30. - And, behold, there are last which shall be first, and there are first which shall be last. This expression, which apparently was more than once used by the Lord, in this place clearly has an historical reference, and sadly predicts the rejection of Israel, not only in this present world.
"There above (on earth)
How many hold themselves for mighty kings,
Who here like swine shall wallow in the mire,
Leaving behind them horrible dispraise!"
The same day there came certain of the Pharisees, saying unto him, Get thee out, and depart hence: for Herod will kill thee.
Verses 31-35. - The message of Jesus to Herod Antipas, and the lament over the loved city of Jerusalem, the destined place of his own death. Verse 31. - The same day there came certain of the Pharisees, saying unto him, Get thee out, and depart hence: for Herod will kill thee. Very many of the older authorities read here, instead of "tile same day," "in that very hour." This incident connected with Herod Antipas, which is only related by St. Luke, not improbably was communicated to Luke and Paul by Manaen, who was intimately connected with that prince, and who was a prominent member of the primitive Church of Antioch in those days when Paul was beginning his work for the cause (see Acts 13:1). This curious message probably emanated from Herod and Herodias. The tetrarch was disturbed and uneasy at the Lord's continued presence in his dominions, and the crowds who thronged to hear the great Teacher occasioned the jealous and timorous prince grave disquietude. Herod shrank from laying hands on him, though, for the memory of the murdered friend of Jesus was a terrible one, we know, to the superstitious tetrarch, and he dreaded being forced into a repetition of the judicial murder of John the Baptist. It is likely enough that the enemies of the Lord were now anxious for him to go to Jerusalem and its neighbourhood, where he would be in the power of the Sadducean hierarchy, and away from the protection of the Galilaean multitudes, with whom his influence was still very great. The Pharisees, who as a party hated the Master, willingly entered into the design, and under the mask of a pretended friendship warned him of Herod's intentions.
And he said unto them, Go ye, and tell that fox, Behold, I cast out devils, and I do cures to day and to morrow, and the third day I shall be perfected.
Verse 32. - And he said unto them, Go ye, and tell that fox; literally, that she-fox. The Lord saw through the shallow device, and, in reply to his false friends, bade them go to that intriguing and false court with a message which he would give them, The epithet "she-fox" is perhaps the bitterest and most contemptuous name ever given by the pitiful Master to any of the sons of men. It is possible it might have been intended for Herodias, the influence of that wicked princess being at that time all-powerful at court. Behold, I cast out devils, and I do cures to-day and to-morrow, and the third day I shall be perfected. "Tell Herod or Herodias that I have a work still to work here; a few more evil spirits to cast out, a few more sick folk to heal. I am going on as I have begun; no message, friendly or unfriendly, will turn me from my purpose. I have no fears of his royal power, but I shall not trouble him long; just to-day and to-morrow - this was merely (as in Hosea 6:2) a proverbial expression for a short time - and on the third day I complete my work." This completion some have understood by the crowning miracle on dead Lazarus at Bethany, but it is far better to understand it as referring to the Passion, as including the last sufferings, the cross, and the resurrection. The τελειοῦμαι here was supplemented by the utterance with which the blessed life came to its close on the cross - Τετελέσται! Τελείωσις became a recognized term for martyrdom.
Nevertheless I must walk to day, and to morrow, and the day following: for it cannot be that a prophet perish out of Jerusalem.
Verse 33. - Nevertheless I must walk to. day, and to-morrow, and the day following: for it cannot be that a prophet perish out of Jerusalem. He reflects, "Yes, I must go on with my journey for the little space yet left to me;" and then turning to the false Pharisee friends, with the saddest irony bids them not be afraid. Priest and Sanhedrin, the unholy alliance against him of Sadducee and Pharisee, would not be balked of the Victim whose blood they were all thirsting after. Their loved city had ever had one melancholy prerogative. It had ever been the place of death for the prophets of the Lord. That sad privilege would not be taken from it in his case.
O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, which killest the prophets, and stonest them that are sent unto thee; how often would I have gathered thy children together, as a hen doth gather her brood under her wings, and ye would not!
Verse 34. - O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, which killest the prophets, and stonest them that are sent unto thee! This exquisite and moving apostrophe was uttered in similar language in the Passion-week, just as Jesus was leaving the temple for the last time. It was spoken here with rare appropriateness in the first instance after the promise of sad irony that the holy city should not be deprived of the spectacle of the Teacher-Prophet's death. "O Jerusalem, Jerusalem!" It was a farewell to the holy city. It was the sorrowful summing-up of the tenderest love of centuries. Never had earthly city been loved like this. There the anointed of the Eternal were to fix their home. There the stately shrine for the service of the invisible King of Israel was to keep watch and ward over the favoured capital of the chosen race. There the visible presence of the Lord God Almighty, the Glory and the Pride of the people, was ever and anon to rest. And in this solemn last farewell, the Master looked back through the vista of the past ages of Jerusalem's history, It was a dark and gloomy contemplation. It had been all along the wicked chief city of a wicked people, of a people who had thrown away the fairest chances ever offered to men - the city of a people whose annals were memorable for deeds of blood, for the most striking ingratitude, for incapacity, for folly shading into crime. Not once nor twice in that dark story of Israel chosen messengers of the invisible King had visited the city he loved so well. These were invested with the high credentials which belong to envoys from the King of kings, with a voice sweeter and more persuasive, with a power grander and more far-reaching than were the common heritage of men; and these envoys, his prophets, they had maltreated, persecuted, murdered. How often would I have gathered thy children together, as a hen doth gather her brood under her wings! God's great love to Israel had been imaged in the far back days of the people, when Moses judged them, under a similar metaphor. Then it was the eagle fluttering over her young and bearing them on her wings; now it is slightly altered to one if possible more tender and loving, certainly more homely. How often in bygone days would the almighty wings, indeed, had Israel only wished it, have been spread out over them a sure shelter! Now the time of grace was over, and the almighty wings were folded. And ye would not! Sad privilege, specially mentioned here by the Divine Teacher, this freedom of man's will to resist the grace of God. "Ye would not," says the Master, thus joining the generation who heard his voice to the stiffnecked Israel of the days of the wicked kings.
Behold, your house is left unto you desolate: and verily I say unto you, Ye shall not see me, until the time come when ye shall say, Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord.
Verse 35. - Behold, your house is left unto you desolate. The older authorities omit "desolate." The sentence will then read, "your house is left unto you." Their house from henceforth, not his. Ye shall not see me, until the time come when ye shall say, Blessed is he that cometh in the Name of the Lord. "Ye shall not see me." Van Oosterzee comments here: "Their senses are still blinded. The veil of the Talmud that hangs over their eyes is twice as heavy as the veil of Moses." The promise which concludes this saying of the Master can only refer to the far future, to the day of the penitence of Israel. It harmonizes with the voice of the older prophets, and tells us that the day will surely come when the people shall look on him whom they pierced, and shall mourn. But that mourning will be turned speedily into joy.
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