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Bible Commentaries

Sutcliffe's Commentary on the Old and New Testaments

Luke 20

 

 

Verses 1-47

Luke 20:2. Tell us, by what authority doest thou these things. A question after all his miracles which offered the foulest insult to God, and was the emanation of complot and of malice. See Matthew 21:25. Mark 11:30. Luke adds, that this question came from the three orders of the jewish council, the chief priests, the scribes, with the elders who did not belong to the tribe of Levi. By consequence, the question was like that of the highpriest, If thou be the Christ, tell us. — It was asked to draw from his lips an avowal that he was the Christ, and then to accuse him of blasphemy, and as worthy of death. This had been their aim for about three months after he had raised Lazarus from the dead.

Luke 20:9. A certain man planted a vineyard. The Hebrews were God’s choice vine, and the men of Judah his pleasant plants. Isaiah 5:7.

Luke 20:17. The stone which the builders rejected. See on Matthew 21:42.

Luke 20:22. Is it lawful to give tribute to Cæsar, or no. See on Mark 12:15-17.

Luke 20:27. Then came to him certain of the sadducees. See on Matthew 22:23. Mark 12:18.

Luke 20:36. They are equal to the angels, and are the children of God, being the children of the resurrection. This idea is confirmed by the words of the Elder to John. “I am thy fellow-servant, and of thy brethren the prophets: — worship God.” Revelation 22:9. Whence the ancients got their ideas of the magnitude of the stature of archangels we are ignorant. Ezekiel regards the seraphim as filling the cloud: Ezekiel 1, 4, 10. Milton also tells us that Lucifer walked on the beach of hell with his spear in his hand, compared with which “the tallest pine of Norway was but a wand.” The words of Christ regard equality of intellect and happiness, rather than of stature.

Luke 20:46. Beware of the scribes, who desire to walk in long robes. This is an addition to Matthew 23:5; which reads, “they make broad their phylacteries, and enlarge the borders of their garments.” As all the learned, and men of rank wear robes in Asia, it is the pride of decoration which is here condemned; such as the broad scarlet cross, in which the papists say high mass. The Hebrew prophets wore rough garments, which, however coarse, were badges of honour and professional dignity, and sometimes accompanied with the appellation of אדני adoni, my lord. 2 Kings 4:28. Eusebius names also a case in which the minister read the service in presence of the emperor Constantine, in a robe wove with threads of gold. Notwithstanding this, the pride of robes, of gait and mien in a minister, is abhorred of God and men.

REFLECTIONS.

The three efforts of the supreme council of the jews to lay snares for the Saviour’s life, and to tarnish his popularity, in the questions of the tribute, of the resurrection of the dead, and of the first and great commandment, show the ingenious malice of the human heart. And is it possible for a national council to stoop so low as to do this, against the humble preacher of righteousness? Is it possible for religious men to pursue the life of one whose whole life had been spent in doing good? Need we ask for proofs of original sin, and for the consummation of depravity, after this? All these are the depths of Satan.

The parable of the vineyard shows the delight which God took in his ancient people the jews. The choice plants, the vine of Sorek, as is the Hebrew in Isaiah 5. The excellent prophets and shepherds which he gave them, were the richest favours of heaven. Those pastors were made responsible for the vineyard: but alas, the husbandmen became murderers, and brought desolation on the vineyard, and destruction on themselves.

We must not fail to remark here, that the turpitude of their crime lay in the extent of their knowledge, more than in the baseness of their hearts. They said, “this is the heir, let us kill him, and the inheritance shall be ours.” After getting rid of him, no mad prophet will ever dare to reprove us, and in the courts of the temple too, for our sins. Our Saviour had given them proofs, by revealing the thoughts of their hearts, that his wisdom was more than human, and his works were the seals of his mission.

But Peter says, they did it ignorantly; and Paul says, had they known him, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. Acts 3:17. 1 Corinthians 2:8. They were confused with the idea that Christ’s kingdom was temporal, not spiritual and heavenly; therefore, when they saw his poverty, as “a root out of a dry ground,” they hated him, and maliciously rejected all his miracles and all his mercy. They fulfilled the scriptures in rejecting the stone which God had made the head of the corner. This ignorance our Saviour exposed. How say the scribes that Christ is David’s Son? How can he be his Son, when David calls him Lord? The hundred and tenth Psalm is by the elder rabbins with one consent applied to Christ; but the gospel having declared his divine and human geniture, the later jews have applied that Psalm to Abraham; and Justin Martyr, as stated in his dialogue with Trypho the jew, found some who applied it to Hezekiah. Like the disciplined unitarians, they strive to get rid of every prophecy which declares the Redeemer’s sufferings. A batch of perjured culprits, convicted at their own bar. Oh Son of the Highest, and Son of David too, into thine arms my soul would ever spring for life, for righteousness and eternal joy.

 


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Bibliography Information
Sutcliffe, Joseph. "Commentary on Luke 20:4". Sutcliffe's Commentary on the Old and New Testaments. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/jsc/luke-20.html. 1835.

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