From J.C. Ryle's Expository Thoughts on Matthew, chapters 21 and 22
- The plain truth is, that our Lord knew well that the time of His earthly ministry was drawing to a close. He knew that the hour was approaching when He must finish the mighty work He came to do, by dying for our sins upon the cross. He knew that His last journey had been accomplished, and that there remained nothing now in His earthly ministry, but to be offered as a sacrifice on Calvary. Before the great sacrifice for the sins of the world was offered up, it was right that every eye should be fixed on the victim. It was suitable that the crowning act of our Lord's life should be done with as much notoriety as possible.
- There is nothing hidden from the Lord's eyes. There are no secrets with Him. Alone or in company, by night or by day, in private or in public, He is acquainted with all our ways.
- Let us do nothing we would not like Christ to see, and say nothing we would not like Christ to hear.
- Let us seek to live and move and have our being under a continual recollection of Christ's presence.
- From the fulfillment of God's word in time past, we are surely intended to gather something as to the manner of its fulfillment in time to come. Every prediction respecting things accompanying His first advent was literally accomplished. It will be just the same when He returns.
Matthew 21:12-22Matthew 22:15-22
- Let us see in our Lord's conduct on this occasion, a striking type of what He will do when He comes again the second time. He will purify His visible church as He purified the temple.
- He will cleanse it from everything that defiles and works iniquity, and cast every worldly professor out of its pale.
- The second event that demands our attention in these verses, is our Lord's curse upon the fruitless fig-tree.
- It is almost the only occasion on which we find Him making one of His creatures suffer, in order to teach a spiritual truth.
- It preaches a sermon we shall all do well to hear. That fig-tree, full of leaves, but barren of fruit, was a striking emblem of the Jewish church, when our Lord was upon earth. The Jewish church had everything to make an outward show.
- But beneath these goodly leaves, the Jewish church was utterly destitute of fruit. It had no grace, no faith, no love, no humility, no spirituality, no real holiness, no willingness to receive its Messiah.
- Is not every fruitless branch of Christ's visible church in an dreadful danger of becoming a withered fig-tree?
- Let us observe, in the first place, how ready the enemies of truth are to question the authority of all who do more good than themselves.
- Let us observe, in the second place, the consummate wisdom with which our Lord replied to the question put to Him.
- In the last place, let us observe in these verses, what immense encouragement our Lord holds out to those who repent.
- Let it be a settled principle in our Christianity, that the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ is infinitely willing to receive penitent sinners.
- Only let us repent and believe in Christ, and there is hope. Let us encourage others to repent. Let us hold the door wide open to the very chief of sinners.
- We see, in the first place, what distinguishing privileges God is pleased to bestow on some nations. He chose Israel to be a peculiar people to Himself.
- And have we no privileges? Beyond doubt we have many. We have the Bible, and liberty for every one to read it. We have the Gospel, and permission to every one to hear it.
- We see, in the next place, what a bad use nations sometimes make of their privileges. When the Lord separated the Jews from other people, He had a right to expect that they would serve Him, and obey His laws.
- We see, in the next place, what an dreadful reckoning God sometimes has with nations and churches, which make a bad use of their privileges.
- Will the judgments of God ever come down on this nation of England, because of her unfruitfulness under so many mercies? Who can tell?
- Nothing offends God so much as neglect of privileges. Much has been given to us, and much will be required.
- Let us all beware of this dreadful state of mind. The last day will prove that there was more going on in the consciences of hearers than was at all known to preachers.
- The parable related in these verses is one of very wide signification. It contains heart-searching lessons for all among whom the Gospel is preached. It is a spiritual picture which speaks to us this day, if we have an ear to hear.
- Let us observe, in the first place, that the salvation of the Gospel is compared to a marriage feast. The Lord Jesus tells us that "a certain king made a marriage feast for his son."
- There is in the Gospel a complete provision for all the needs of man's soul. There is a supply of everything that can be required to relieve spiritual hunger and spiritual thirst. Pardon, peace with God, lively hope in this world, glory in the world to come, are set before us in rich abundance. It is "a feast of fat things." All this provision is owing to the love of the Son of God, Jesus Christ our Lord. He offers to take us into union with Himself--to restore us to the family of God as dear children--to clothe us with His own righteousness--to give us a place in His kingdom, and to present us faultless before His Father's throne at the last day.
- The Gospel, in short, is an offer of food to the hungry--joy to the mourner--a home to the outcast--a loving friend to the lost. It is glad tidings. God offers, through His dear Son, to be at peace with sinful man.
- Let us observe, in the second place, that the invitations of the Gospel are wide, full, broad, and unlimited. There is nothing lacking on God's part for the salvation of sinners' souls. No one will ever be able to say at last that it was God's fault, if he is not saved. The Father is ready to love and receive. The Son is ready to pardon and cleanse guilt away. The Spirit is ready to sanctify and renew. Angels are ready to rejoice over the returning sinner. Grace is ready to assist him. The Bible is ready to instruct him. Heaven is ready to be his everlasting home. One thing only is needful, and that is, the sinner must be ready and willing himself. The Gospel always speaks of sinners as responsible and accountable beings. The Gospel places an open door before all mankind. No one is excluded from the range of its offers. Though efficient only to believers, those offers are sufficient for all the world. Though few enter the strait gate, all are invited to come in.
- Let us observe, in the third place, that the salvation of the Gospel is rejected by many to whom it is offered.
- Open sin may kill its thousands; but indifference and neglect of the Gospel kill their tens of thousands.
- Multitudes will find themselves in hell, not so much because they openly broke the ten commandments, as because they made light of the gospel. Christ died for them on the cross, but they neglected Him.
- Let us observe, in the last place, that all false professors of religion will be detected, exposed, and eternally condemned at the last day.
- All spurious Christianity shall be weighed in the balance and found lacking. None but true believers shall sit down at the marriage supper of the Lamb.
- The first thing which demands our attention in these verses, is the flattering language with which our Lord was accosted by His enemies.
- It becomes all professing Christians to be much on their guard against FLATTERY. We mistake greatly if we suppose that persecution and hard usage are the only weapons in Satan's armory.
- Let us beware of the flatterer. Satan is never so dangerous as when he appears as an angel of light. The world is never so dangerous to the Christian as when it smiles.
- The second thing that demands our attention in these verses, is the marvelous wisdom of the reply which our Lord made to His enemies.
- It is certain that the church must not swallow up the state. It is no less certain that the state must not swallow up the church.
- Let us observe, in the first place, that absurd skeptical objections to Bible truths are ancient things. The Sadducees wished to show the absurdity of the doctrine of the resurrection and the life to come.
- Let us observe, in the second place, what a remarkable text our Lord brings forward, in proof of the reality of a life to come.
- From our eyes they have passed away, and their place knows them no more. But in the eyes of God they live, and will one day come forth from their graves to receive an everlasting sentence.
- There is no such thing as annihilation. The idea is a miserable delusion.
- Let us observe, in the last place, the account which our Lord gives of the state of men and women after the resurrection.
- Let us mark what an admirable summary these verses contain of our duty towards God and our neighbor.
- How simple are these two rules, and yet how comprehensive! How soon the words are repeated, and yet how much they contain!
- How humbling and condemning they are! How much they prove our daily need of mercy and the precious blood of atonement!
- They do the will of God best, who do it from the heart. Would we train children right? Let us teach them to love God.
- Love is the grand secret of right behavior towards our FELLOW MEN. He who loves his neighbor will scorn to do him any willful injury, either in person, property, or character.
- Would we teach children to behave aright towards others? Let us teach them to love everybody as themselves, and do to others as they would have others do to them. But how shall we obtain this love towards GOD? It is no natural feeling. We are born in sin, and, as sinners, are afraid of God. How then can we love Him?
- We can never really love Him until we are at peace with Him through Christ. When we feel our sins forgiven, and ourselves reconciled to our holy Maker, then, and not until then, we shall love Him and have the spirit of adoption.
- And how shall we obtain this love towards our NEIGHBOR? This is also no natural feeling. We are born selfish, hateful, and hating one another. (Titus 3:3.) We shall never love our fellow man aright until our hearts are changed by the Holy Spirit.
From Charles Spurgeon's Morning and Evening:
- Every firstborn creature must be the Lord's, but since the ass was unclean, it could not be presented in sacrifice. What then? Should it be allowed to go free from the universal law? By no means. God admits of no exceptions. The ass is his due, but he will not accept it; he will not abate the claim, but yet he cannot be pleased with the victim. No way of escape remained but redemption—the creature must be saved by the substitution of a lamb in its place; or if not redeemed, it must die. My soul, here is a lesson for thee. That unclean animal is thyself; thou art justly the property of the Lord who made thee and preserves thee, but thou art so sinful that God will not, cannot, accept thee; and it has come to this, the Lamb of God must stand in thy stead, or thou must die eternally. Let all the world know of thy gratitude to that spotless Lamb who has already bled for thee, and so redeemed thee from the fatal curse of the law. Must it not sometimes have been a question with the Israelite which should die, the ass or the lamb? Would not the good man pause to estimate and compare? Assuredly there was no comparison between the value of the soul of man and the life of the Lord Jesus, and yet the Lamb dies, and man the ass is spared. My soul, admire the boundless love of God to thee and others of the human race. Worms are bought with the blood of the Son of the Highest! Dust and ashes redeemed with a price far above silver and gold! What a doom had been mine had not plenteous redemption been found! The breaking of the neck of the ass was but a momentary penalty, but who shall measure the wrath to come to which no limit can be imagined? Inestimably dear is the glorious Lamb who has redeemed us from such a doom.
- To look at Christ is to live, but for strength to serve him you must “come and dine.” We labour under much unnecessary weakness on account of neglecting this precept of the Master. We none of us need to put ourselves on low diet; on the contrary, we should fatten on the marrow and fatness of the gospel that we may accumulate strength therein, and urge every power to its full tension in the Master’s service. Thus, then, if you would realize nearness to Jesus, union with Jesus, love to his people and strength from Jesus, “come and dine” with him by faith.
- There are times in our spiritual experience when human counsel or sympathy, or religious ordinances, fail to comfort or help us. Why does our gracious God permit this? Perhaps it is because we have been living too much without him, and he therefore takes away everything upon which we have been in the habit of depending, that he may drive us to himself. It is a blessed thing to live at the fountain head. While our skin- bottles are full, we are content, like Hagar and Ishmael, to go into the wilderness; but when those are dry, nothing will serve us but “Thou God seest me.” We are like the prodigal, we love the swine-troughs and forget our Father’s house. Remember, we can make swine-troughs and husks even out of the forms of religion; they are blessed things, but we may put them in God’s place, and then they are of no value. Anything becomes an idol when it keeps us away from God: even the brazen serpent is to be despised as “Nehushtan,” if we worship it instead of God. The prodigal was never safer than when he was driven to his father’s bosom, because he could find sustenance nowhere else. Our Lord favours us with a famine in the land that it may make us seek after himself the more. The best position for a Christian is living wholly and directly on God’s grace—still abiding where he stood at first—“Having nothing, and yet possessing all things.” Let us never for a moment think that our standing is in our sanctification, our mortification, our graces, or our feelings, but know that because Christ offered a full atonement, therefore we are saved; for we are complete in him. Having nothing of our own to trust to, but resting upon the merits of Jesus—his passion and holy life furnish us with the only sure ground of confidence. Beloved, when we are brought to a thirsting condition, we are sure to turn to the fountain of life with eagerness.
- Much alone with Jesus—and you will have much assurance; little alone with Jesus—and your religion will be shallow, polluted with many doubts and fears, and not sparkling with the joy of the Lord.
- In the family register of glory—the small and the great are written with the same pen. You are as dear to your Father’s heart—as the greatest in the family.
© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible