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Verses 34-39

Matthew 21:34-39. And when the time of fruit drew near And a return was to be made to the proprietor from the profits of the vineyard, which was only let out to these husbandmen, that they might render to him duly the fruits agreed on, namely, those of gratitude, love, and obedience; he sent his servants His extraordinary messengers, the prophets, to demand and receive those fruits; to instruct, exhort, and, when necessary, to reprove these occupiers of the vineyard. And the husbandmen Far from rendering their Lord his due, took his servants, beat one, killed another, &c. See notes on Mark 12:3-5, where this branch of the parable is given more fully. The meaning is, that the Jewish priests and rulers, extremely irritated at the prophets for the freedom which they used in reproving their sins and exhorting them to a holy life, persecuted and slew them with unrelenting fury. Again he sent other servants Though his servants were thus indignantly treated, the good lord of the vineyard being very long-suffering toward these husbandmen, and desirous of bringing them to a sense of their duty, instead of immediately punishing them for their ungrateful and rebellious proceedings, he sent other extraordinary messengers, more in number than the first. This seems to refer to the latter prophets and John the Baptist. But these met with no better treatment than the former from these ungrateful husbandmen. They did unto them likewise Beat, stoned, and killed them. Who would wonder now if his patience and forbearance had been utterly wearied out, and if he had sent to destroy and remove these wicked husbandmen? But more abundant kindness still remained to be shown on his part, to aggravate their ingratitude, and to render this perverseness and cruelty utterly without excuse. Having yet therefore one son, his well-beloved, he sent him also last unto them, saying, They will reverence my son Surely they must needs have some respect for him, and will not presume to offer him any injury. This is spoken after the manner of men: it does not mean that God supposed they would reverence him, but was mistaken. For numberless predictions in the Old and New Testaments plainly show that God foresaw, and therefore foretold how they would use him. But it implies that it might have been reasonably expected they would have reverenced him. considering the benevolent design on which he came, and the undeniable proofs which he gave of his divine mission, by his astonishing miracles, his heavenly doctrine, and most holy life. But alas! far from reverencing him, so inveterate in guilt and hardened in their crimes were they, that when they saw him, they said, This is the heir, let us kill him And their impious combinations were attended with immediate resolves, and a speedy execution: They caught him Gr. λαβοντες αυτον , having seized him, they cast him out of the vineyard Utterly rejected his claim of being either the Messiah, or even a divine messenger, and slew him In a most ignominious and cruel manner; thus filling up the measure of their transgressions, and declaring themselves very monsters of iniquity. Thus, as in a glass, our Lord set forth the great ingratitude of the Jewish nation, and especially of the chief priests and rulers, and the long-suffering of God toward them, with whom he had intrusted his vineyard, and from whom he expected the fruits thereof. It is justly observed by Dr. Doddridge here, that if their saying, This is the heir, come, let us kill him, &c., “would have been the height of folly, as well as wickedness in these husbandmen, it was so much the more proper to represent the part the Jewish rulers acted in the murder of Christ, which they were now projecting, and which they accomplished within three days. The admonition was most graciously given; but served only in an astonishing manner to illustrate that degree of hardness to which a sinful heart is capable of arriving.” But some of these circumstances, like that of seizing on the inheritance, may have been added for the sake of completing the parable, without any design of expressing by them any particular part of the conduct of the Jews toward Christ.

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