The Jews who listened to our Savior while He told the parable that is recorded here in verses 1-12 perceived that it was a tale that was purposely intended to convey reproof to them. They understood it and were angry; and therefore, the spiritual benefit which they might have derived from it was lost to them. The Jews were God’s chosen people, with whom He had taken peculiar pains; and from them, He had naturally expected a return of love and service. But so far from fulfilling this expectation, they had put to death many of the prophets and holy men whom He had sent to do them good. And lastly, they rejected and crucified the Son of God Himself – the Lord of Glory.
In all of this, perhaps we may see no likeness to ourselves; but let us stop and reflect a little. May not the Church now be considered as the Lord’s most favored people upon earth? Does He find in us such devoted love and obedience as He has a right to expect? To us He has sent His only Son. We have the Gospel of Christ fully preached among us; and we may imagine the Lord saying of us, “They will reverence my Son.” Have we done so? Alas! Neither as a nation nor as individuals can it be said that Christ is reverenced by us as He ought to be. Let us cry out to Him for grace and mercy so that He may not remove His favor from us and give His vineyard to others. May He cause us to bring forth the fruits of holiness in our lives which He justly expects at our hands.
During the time of our Savior’s earthly ministry, the Jewish nation was subject to the Roman government, of whom Caesar was the emperor. Our Lord was approached by some who asked Him a question about the Roman tribute. By trying to make Jesus give His opinion on this question, they thought they would surely get Him into trouble! If He had said that paying this tribute was unlawful, they would have reported Him as a rebel against Caesar; but on the other hand, to decide in favor of this hated tribute would have brought Him into disgrace with the common people, who hated this mark of submission to Rome. But Jesus was quite aware of their intentions, and He wondrously thwarted them with His reply! He obliged these persons to condemn themselves by forcing them to confess that all their money was, in a certain sense, Caesar’s; for he had sufficient power to cause it to be stamped with his own name and image. Therefore, he had a right to demand a portion of it for the support of his government. And at the same time, our Lord reminded them that although we must give our human governors that which is their due, yet we are also bound to re-member what is due to God. This is something that we too often forget.
Only those who have reason to fear a coming judgment will wish to believe that there is no resurrection, as the Sadducees did in Jesus’ time (verses 18-27) – and as modern “atheists” still do today. The Sadducees should have known that people who have passed out of this world are still alive indeed; because if Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob had not been in existence in the time of Moses, God would not have called Himself their God. But this Scripture passage not only assures us of the resurrection to come; it also tells us something about heaven which we would do well to reflect upon. It tells us that our happiness there will be of a very different kind than that which exists on earth; for all those domestic relationships, which contribute so much to our present enjoyment, will not exist in that better world. We shall then be like the angels, whose only business and pleasure is the service of God.
In Jesus’ answer to the Scribe who asked Him to tell him the greatest commandment of the Law (verses 28-34), we have the entirety of Christianity summed up in one word: love! “Love is the fulfilling of the law.” Those who sincerely desire to be taught their duty, Christ will teach them His way (Ps. 25:3-4, 8-14). He told this scribe that the great commandment, which is a summary of all the rest, is to love God with all our hearts. Wherever this is the ruling principle in the soul, there shall be a desire and an inclination to do every other duty.
The scribes of Jesus’ day imagined themselves to be very well-educated. But in verses 35-40, He proved how little they truly understood the Old Testament Scriptures – which, when rightly interpreted, clearly testify of Himself. He challenged them to explain how the promised Messiah can be the Son of David and – at the same time – Lord of all, as He is declared to be by the Holy Spirit. They could not answer His question. The only way to rightly explain this riddle is to confess that even though Jesus is the descendant of David, in His human nature; yet since He is also truly the Son of God, He was – in that sense – David’s Lord. And that is the one thing that the majority of the Jewish leaders of those times refused to admit – that Jesus was the Son of God.
No doubt, the rich persons who seemed to cast much into the Temple-treasury for religious and charitable purposes thought themselves very generous. And they would have either despised the poor widow’s two mites, or else they would have blamed her for giving away all that she had. But Jesus knew all the circumstances of every contributor to the Temple-treasury, and He pointed out that poor woman as being worthy of His special praise! If we have not been blessed with an abundance of wealth, let us not despairingly decide that there is nothing we can do for our Master; for just as He praised this widow who contributed her two small mites, the feeble efforts of Christ’s poor ones to honor their Savior will be commended on that Great Last Day, when the splendid actions of unbelievers will be exposed to contempt!
Lord Jesus, we thank You for the privilege of being able to put our God-given blessings to good use for Your Kingdom, no matter how large or small they are! Amen.
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