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See note Matt. v. 29. This verse might be rendered - happy is he to whom I shall not prove a stumbling-block! That is, happy is he who shall not take offence at my poverty and lowliness of life, so as to reject me and my doctrine. Happy is he who can, notwithstanding that poverty and obscurity, see the evidence that I am the Messiah, and follow me.
7 And as they departed, Jesus began to say unto the multitudes concerning John, What went ye out into the wilderness to see ? A reed shaken with the wind?
Jesus took occasion from the inquiries made by John's disciples, to instruct the people respecting the true character of John. It is probable that many had been attracted by the novelty of his appearance or doctrines. He took occasion therefore by some striking questions to examine the motives by which they had been drawn to his ministry. “A reed shaken with the wind ? An image of a light, changing, inconstant man. John's sending his disciples to Christ, to inquire his character, might have led some to suppose that he was changing and inconstant. He had once acknowledged him to be the Messiah. Jesus, by asking this question, declared, that this was not the character of John.
8 But what went ve out for to see? A man clothed in soft raiment ? behold, they that wear soft clothing are in kings' houses.
The kind of raiment here denoted was the light, thin clothing worn by effeminate persons. This kind of clothing was an emblem of riches, splendour, effeminacy, and feebleness of character. He meant to say that John was a man of a different stamp: coarse in his exterior; hardy in his character; firm in his virtue ; fitted to endure trials and privations, and thus qualified to be the forerunner of the toiling and suffering Messiah.
9 But what went ye out for to see ? A prophet ? yea, I say unto you, and more than a prophet.
A prophet ?" They had regarded him as such; and Jesus tells them that in this their apprehensions of him were correct. More than a prophet.' Sustaining a character more elevated and sacred than the most distinguished of the ancient prophets. He lived in the time of the Christ. He predicted his coming with more clearness than even Isaiah himself. He was the instrument of introducing him to the nation. He was therefore first among the prophets.
10 For this is he, of whom it is written, Behold, I send my messenger before thy face, which shall prepare thy way before thee.
For this is he,' &c. See Matt. iii. 1. Isa. xl. 3. 'Prepare thy way. That is, Prepare the people and make them ready, by proper instructions, to receive the Messiah.
11 Verily I say unto you, Among them that are born of women there hath not risen a greater than John the Baptist : notwithstanding he that is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.
‘Them that are born of women. This is an emphatic way of saying that there had never been a greater man than John. See Job xiv. 1. 'He that is least in the kingdom of heaven, is greater than he. Of the apostles of the Saviour, of the first preachers, who were with him, who heard his instructions, it might be said, that they had more correct apprehensions than any of the ancient prophets, or John.
12 And from the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffereth violence, and the violent take it by force,
* And from the days of John,' &c. That is, from the days when John began to preach. See Matt. iii. 5. So says he, it has continued. Since the kingdom of heaven, or the gospel, has been preached, many rush eagerly into it. Men have been earnest about it; they have come pressing to obtain the blessing, as if they would take it by force. There is allusion here to the manner in which cities were taken. Besiegers pressed upon them with violence, and demoiished the walls, and captured · them. With such earnestness of violence, he says, men had pressed around him and John, since they began to preach.
13 For all the prophets and the law prophesied until John.
John introduced a new dispensation. By the law” is meant the five books of Moses; by the prophets,' the remainder of the books of the Old Testament.
14 And if ye will receive it, this is Elias, which was for to come.
If ye will receive it.' Implying that the doctrine which he was about to state was different from their common views; and therefore, they might be disposed to reject it. This is Elias,' &c. That is, Élijah. Elias is the Greek mode of writing the Hebrew word Elijah. The prophet Malachi, ch. iv. 5, 6, predicted that Elijah should be sent before the coming of the Messiah, to prepare the way for him. By this was evidently meant, not that he should appear in person, but that one should appear with a striking resemblance to him; or, as Luke, ch. i. 17, expresses it, ' in the spirit and power of Elijah.' But the Jews expected that
Elijah would appear in person. They also supposed that Jeremiak and some other of the prophets would appear to usher in the promised Messiah, and to grace his advent. See Matt. xvi. 14; xvii. 10. John i. 21.
15 He that hath ears to hear, let him hear.
This expression is frequently used by Christ. It is a proverbial expression, implying that the highest attention should be given to what was spoken.
16 | But whereunto shall I liken this generation ? It is like unto children sitting in the markets, and calling unto their fellows, 17 And saying, We have piped unto you, and ye have not danced ; We have mourned unto you, and ye have not lamented. 18 For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, He hath a devil. 19 The Son of man came eating and drinking, and they say, Behold a man gluttonous, and a wine-bibber, a friend of publicans and sinners. But wisdom is justified of her children.
Christ proceeds to reprove the inconsistency and fickleness of that age of men. 'He says they were like children. Nothing pleased them long. He refers here to the plays or sports of chile dren. Instrumental music, or piping, and dancing, were used in marriages and festivals, as a sign of joy, Luke xv. 25. Children imitate their parents and others, and act over in play what they see done by them. Among their childish sports, therefore, was probably an imitation of a wedding, or festal occasion. We have seen also, note Matt. ix. 23, that funerals were attended with mournful music, and lamentation, and howling. It is not improbable that children also, in play, imitated a mournful funeral procession. One part are represented as sullen and dissatisfied. They would not enter into the play. The others complained of it. We have, said they, taken all pains to please you. We have piped to you, plaved cheerful and lively tunes, and sports, but you would not join with us; and then we have played different games, and imitated the mourning at funerals, and you are equally sullen. Nothing pleases you. So, said Christ, is this generation of men. John came one way; and you were not pleased with him. I, the Son of man, have come in a different manner, and you are equally dissatisfied. Nay, you are less pleased. You calumniate him, and yet abuse me for not doing the very thing which displeased you in John. You are fickle, changeable, and inconstant. “Markets.' Places of concourse. Neither eating nor drinking. That is, abstaining from some kinds of food, and wine, as a Nazarene. He was remark. able for abstinence. He hath a devil.' He is actuated by a
pad spirit. "The Son of man care eating and drinking. That is, living as others do; not practising austerity. “Gluttonous.' One given to excessive eating. "Wine-bibber. One who drinks much wine. A great drinker. "Wisdom is justified of her children. The children of wisdom are the wise: those who understand. He means that though pharisees and fault-finders did not appreciate the conduct of John and himself, yet the wise, those whu understood the reason of their conduct-would approve of it.
20 | Then began he to upbraid the cities wherein most of his mighty works were done, because they repented not;
"To upbraid,' That is, to reprove, rebuke, or to denounce heavy judgment.
21 Wo unto thee, Chorazin! wo unto thee, Bethsaida! for if the mighty works, which were done in vou, had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes.
'Chorazin' and ' Bethsaida.' Towns not far from Capernaum. Bethsaida was the residence of Philip, Andrew, and Peter, John
'Tyre and Sidon.' Cities of Phænicia, formerly very wealthy, and distinguished for merchandise. They were situated on the shore of the Mediterranean sea, and were on the western part of Judea. 'In sackcloth and ashes.' Sackcloth was a coarse cloth, like canvass, used fo: the dress of the poor, and for the more common articles of domestic economy. It was worn also as a sign of mourning. The Jews also frequently threw ashes on their heads, as expressive of grief, Job ii. 12. Jer. vi. 26. The meaning is, that they would have repented with expressions of deep sorrow.
22 But I say unto you, It shall be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon at the day of judgment, than for you. 23 And thou, Capernaum, which art exalted unto heaven, shalt be brought down to hel: for if the mighty works, which have been done in thee, had been done in Sodom, it would have remained until this day. 24 But I say unto you, That it shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom in the day of judgment, than for thee.
* And thou Capernaum. See note Matt. iv. 13. Which art exalted to heaven. This expression denotes great privileges. The city was signally favoured by the presence, the preaching, and the miracles of the Lord Jesus Christ. Here he spent a large part of his time in the early part of his ministry; and in Caper. naum and its neighbourhood he performed most of nis miracles, • Shalt be brought down to hell. The word 'hell’ is used here in denote a state of desolation and destruction as a city. Their privileges, honours, wealth, &c., should be taken away, and they should sink as low among cities as they had before been exalted. This has been strictly fulfilled. In the wars between the Jews and the Romans, Chorazin, Bethsaida, Capernaum, &c., were so completely desolated that it is difficult to determine their former situation. Christ also threatened future punishment on those who rejected him. The truth inculcated is, that those who are peculiarly favoured, must be punished accordingly, if they abuse their privileges. "If the mighty works-had been done in Sodom.' See note Matt. x. 15. It would be better for Sodom in the day of judgment than for Capernaum, for its inhabitants would not be called to answer for the abuse of so great privileges.
25 | At that time Jesus answered and said, I thank thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes. 26 Even so, Father for so it seemed good in thy sight.
From the wise and prudent.' That is, from those who thought themselves wise-wise, according to the world's estimate of wisdom-the men of philosophy, and self-conceit, and science, falsely so called, 1 Cor. i. 26, 27. 'Hast revealed them untó babes. To the poor, ignorant, and obscure; the teachable, simple, and humble. Such were his disciples. He had reserence here probably to the proud and haughty scribes and pharisees in Capernaum. They rejected his gospel ; but it was the pleasure of God to reveal it to obscure and more humble men. The reason given, the only satisfactory reason, is, that it so seemed good in the sight of God. In this the Saviour acquiesced --'even so Father.
27 All things are delivered unto me of my Father : and no man knoweth the Son, but the Father; neither knoweth any man the Father, save the Son, and he to whomsoever the Son will reveal him.
All things are delivered,' The same doctrine is clearly taught often in the New Testament. See John iii. 35. Col. i. 16. 17. Christ has control over all things for the good of his chureh; the government of the universe is committed to him as a Mediator, that he may redeem his people and guide them to alory. Eph. i. 20-22. No man knoweth the Son.' That is, such is the nature of the Son of God; sueh the mystery of the union between the Divine and human nature; such his exalted character as Divine, that no mortal can fully comprehend him.