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their city. This took place literally forty years later, when Jerusalem was destroyed, the people were slain by millions, and the nation destroyed. There has been no Jewish nation since. All this might have been avoided if the nation had accepted Jesus as the Messiah.
For had they received him as the Messiah, they would not have aroused the opposition of the Roman Empire as they did. They would not have been cruel, turbulent, riotous, and factious. They would have been united and patriotic, not permitting selfish considerations to lead them to fight one another as fiercely as they fought the Romans.
The feelings of God even in punishing are most truly expressed by Jesus' weeping over his city when the Jews had finally refused their only hope. “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not !"
THE TRANSFERRED KINGDOM. The kingdom of God was transferred from the Jewish nation to the Gentiles. The Jews henceforth, instead of being the people and kingdom of God, would be a mere Semitic nationality. Many of them then and since belong to the kingdom of the Messiah. The Messianic kingdom is to-day the mightiest power on earth. There has never been a king on earth with a tithe of the power and influence, and of the number of subjects which King Jesus to-day possesses; and none are advancing their conquests so rapidly.
APPLICATIONS TO OUR OWN TIMES. 1. The wedding feast God has prepared for us all is beyond our highest thoughts. “If you knew God — and what those things' are which he has prepared for them that love him,' all'excuses ' would be Aung to the winds. It would not be, ‘Have me excused !' but, “I come!' 'I come!' • Me first- – me now — me forever! Lord, bid me — - Lord, let me — - Lord, make me come !"" — 7. Vaughan, M.A.
The holy men of old, the Scriptures, Jesus Christ himself, and his apostles, and Christians of all ages past, have been preparing the gospel feast for us. The announcement has been made. We have been trained under Christian influences, Christian homes, parents and friends, churches, Sunday schools, meetings, — all have been preparing us to come to the gospel feast.
2. To all men now comes the invitation. It is as wide as humanity. It is “ lofty as the love of God, and ample as the wants of man.” For each of us all things are ready: the atonement made, the mansions prepared, the Father willing to receive, the angels waiting to welcome, the doors open, the Holy Spirit present, duties awaiting.
ILLUSTRATION. On the beams over the front porch of Rev. Dr. F. E. Clark's home, in Auburndale (Father Endeavor Clark), is the word, “Welcome” in every language in which there is a Christian Endeavor Society, nearly thirty in all. We are to welcome all men to the Gospel feast in every kind of language in which the heart can speak.
3. The worse men are, the more degraded and sinful, the fewer their opportunities, and the more they are opposed to good, so much the more do they need the invitations of the gospel. It will not do to wait
for people to come to the churches, - the churches must go to them. The Sunday schools must seek the children. “ How shall we gain the masses?" “Go for them !” was Moody's rough but sensible response. See Suggestive Illustrations on Acts, p. 149, “ The Ten to Strangers."
4. There is no condition of coming to Christ, but just to come, to forsake all sin and come and follow Jesus. The bad are invited that they may be made good (1 Cor. 6: 9-11); the good that they may be made better, enjoy higher privileges, and enter into wider use. fulness. “ He loved her foul that he might make her fair." The best teacher I ever knew said that he never refused to take a boy into his great school because he was bad. But he would not let him remain bad if he came.
5. The world is still full of excuses for not coming, many of them mere excuses, but we must look much deeper for the real reasons. And we should be far inore careful to understand and remove the reasons than to try to answer their excuses. It is for this reason that much of the arguing with irreligious men is so useless. It is like scraping the furred tongue, but leaving the fever. It is tearing down a flaunting flag from the enemy's ship, but leaving the crew and the guns.
ILLUSTRATION. The din of the city streets can drown the chime of the church bells to busy ears. The love of money, the desire of promotion, the rush for social advancement and business success are like a band of music which, with roll of drums, blare of trumpets, and crash of cymbals, drowns out the still, small voice of God.
he saw there a man
guests, 1 which had not on a wedding garment:
wedding-garment : 12. And he saith unto him, Friend, how camest thou in hither not having a wedding-garment
And he was speechless. 13. Then shed the king to the servants, Bind him hand and foot, and take
2 into outer darkness; there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
14: For many are called, but few are chosen.
him away, and cast him out
1 2 Cor. 5: 3 ; Eph. 4: 24 ; Col. 3 : 10, 12.
2 Matt. 8: 12.
3 Matt. 20 : 16.
ILLUSTRATION. Bunyan tells how Christian in his journey saw a man busily employed raking together bits of hay, wood, and stubble, while over him stood a shining angel, holding above his head a crown of light.
“ A finger's breadth at hand may mar
A world of light in heaven afar;
A mote eclipse a glorious star. 6. Those who refuse Christ's invitations ask to be excused from the best things in God's universe, the best things that infinite love and wisdom can provide for man, from being children and heirs of God, from heaven, from the highest character, the largest usefulness, from immortality, from glory, from the company of saints and angels.
The burning of the city, is the destruction of the hopes of the sinner to be happy while continuing in sin. It is the consuming fire of the heart, and its outward expression.
7. “Ă sculptor showed a visitor his studio. One figure in marble was very curious; the face was concealed by hair, and there were wings on his feet. • What is his name?' said the friend. Opportunity,' was the reply. Why is his face hidden?'. Because men seldom know him when he comes to them. Why has he wings on his feet?' 'Because he is soon gone, and once gone can never be overtaken.'" - Home Magazine.
8. God's best gifts come from heaven to the poorest, to those in the hardest and most unfortunate circumstances. Nothing outward can prevent you from being saints and heroes, and few hindrances can prevent fair worldly success. History is as full as the sky is of stars of saints, heroes, authors, business men, presidents, leaders in every department, who came up from circumstances and families from which nothing could naturally be expected.
9. “None of us need fear that the Lord's cause will fail because of our failure. If we are unwilling to be used by him for his glory and for our good, there are those who will be willing to take our places so far.” Our form of religion, our denomination, may fail if it refuses to do the work for which it was established, but always something better will take its place. The principles will survive under another form.
VI. The Wedding Garment. — Vs. 11-14. The king . . . saw there a man which had not on a wedding garment. Probably a garment to be put over the usual dress, furnished by the king himself to all the guests on their arrival at the palace, before they entered the halls of the feast.
“ At the royal marriage of Sultan Mahmoud, a few years ago, every guest invited to the wedding had made expressly for him, at the expense of the Sultan, a wedding garment." Thus no one however poor had any excuse for refusing the invitation.
The wedding garment of the parable represents “ righteousness, moral purity, which fits for sitting at His table in His kingdom (Maclaren), and “the celestial temper which manifests itself by holy joy.” More than this: it consists in all the virtues of a renewed heart, shining through every act, manifested in all holy living. “ Graces are thus a beautiful ornament to the soul, as garments are to the body.” The wedding gar. ment is of such a nature that it is absolutely necessary to the partaking of the feast of good things offered by the Gospel. See Revelation 21, 22.
12. Speechless. The man had no excuse.
13. Outer darkness. Nothing else is possible to those who persistently refuse God's most earnest invitations to be good and accept the help of his Son. Drunkards, debauchees, criminals, give some faint hint of the evil of refusing the wedding garment.
14. Many are called, but few are chosen. The called are those who hear, the chosen those who obey. This was true then, is still true to a less extent, but it is not said that it will always be so.
THREE QUESTIONS. - Matthew 22: 15-22, 34-46.
PRINT vs. 34-46. COMMIT vs. 37-39,
GOLDEN TEXT. — Render therefore unto Cæsar the things which are Cæsar's; and unto God the things that are God's. – Matt. 22: 22.
THE TEACHER AND HIS CLASS.
A Golden Rule for Teaching the Bible. -“ Avoid repression; do not try too much at impression; and remember that we grow by expression.”
Comments. “A row of jugs will stand perfectly quiet while you pour water into them, but a row of boys and girls is different.
“ The more actively you interest their minds in what you are seeking to impart to them, the less likely will they be to require placing right side up, or right side to the front. Do not tell them what you can by any means get them to tell you, and when you do tell them anything, soon ask them to tell it back to you.
“ Teachers of adult classes will also do well to make exports balance imports.' Prof. W. W. White in Bible Record.
PLAN OF THE LESSON.
THE FUTURE LIFE.
THE TEACHER'S LIBRARY.
Rosadi's The Trial of Jesus, pp. 8, 52, etc., on the tribute to "Cesar. (Dodd & Mead) 1905.
Prof. Zenos' The Teaching of Jesus, chap. IX.
“ The Christian in the State.” (Am. Tract Soc., 1905.)
Rev. Dr. Snowden's Scenes and Sayings in the Life of Christ, chap. XI., “ Pharisees Caught in Their Own Net” (Revell).
Stalker's Imago Christi, “Christ as a Controversialist," is very good (Tract Soc.).
The Ten Commandments as a Covenant of Love, by H. Clay Trumbull.
LEARN BY HEART.
Vs. 21, 37, 38, 39, 40.
THE LESSON IN ITS SETTING.
Time. — Tuesday, April 4, A.D. 30. The
THE LESSON IN LITERATURE. same day as our last lesson.
Place. — The Court of the Temple in Professor Drummond's The Greatest Jerusalem.
Thing in the World (Pott & Co.); Presi. Place in the Life of Christ. The last
dent Hopkins' Law of Love and Love as Law day of his public ministry, part of his last (Scribner's). labors to persuade the Jews to accept him as See Miss Havergal's Kept for the Master's the Messiah.
Use, “ Our love kept for Jesus,” especially its quotation from a poem.
Drummond's Programme of Christianity. THE ROUND TABLE. FOR RESEARCH AND DISCUSSION.
THE LESSON IN ART. In the three attempts to ensnare Jesus show (1) What was the dilemma in answering them.
Christ and the Tribute Money, Titian, * (2) How Jesus wisely escaped their snare,
in the Dresden Gallery, “ which some have The question about taxes.
pronounced the most perfect picture he has The question about the resurrection. The question about the commandments.
produced.” — Miss Hurll. Other pictures
by Rubens (Louvre), Van Dyck * (Genoa), What difficulty for the Pharisees in answering the
Rembrandt, Doré.* question of Jesus ? “ Not far from the kingdom of God” (Mark 12 : 34).
*In Wilde's Bible pictures.
The Rulers of the Jews Had Determined on the Death of Jesus (Mark 11: 18), and Were Now Seeking Some Way of Ensnaring Jesus into Expressing Opinions Which Could Be Used as an Accusation for Which He Could Be Convicted in the Courts.
But by Jesus' Answers Divine Truth Was Made More Clear.
1. A Political Question Concerning Taxes. Vs. 15-21. THE QUESTION was asked by a wily combination of two parties. It was, — Is it lawful to give tribute unto Cesar, or not? (1) The PHARISEES sent their disciples (v. 16) learners, students, who would come as those who wanted to learn, and not as the teachers who, being supposed to know, would appear to be merely wanting to entrap Jesus, " A cunning device." These would represent one side of the question, opposed to paying tribute to Cesar.
“ Fierce opposition was offered to the tribute law . . . which was regarded as an impiety, inasmuch as no Lord could be recognized but God. ... Others offered opposition to the legality of the tax, while one leader, Judah of Gamala, associated with a Pharisee named Zadok, formed a party to work solely on this line of attack. Then vengeance was sworn against whomsoever should transgress the Mosaic law, and the Zealots were pious assassins who imposed upon themselves the sacred obligation of killing all transgressors of the law." – Giovanni Rosadi.
(2) The HERODIANS were adherents of the Herods, who owed what power they possessed to the Roman government. — Int. Crit. Com. “ They vied with the Sadducees in skepticism, and with the Greeks in licentiousness, pandered to the vice and cruelty of the Herods, and truckled to the Romans." Oxford Bible Helps. These represented the other side of the question, favoring tribute to Cesar, and opposed to the Messianic hopes of the Pharisees.
Thus they would ensnare him in his talk, the picture in the Greek word being that of catching in a snare or trap. Mark uses a word which pictures the hunting of Jesus as a wild animal anxious to escape. The snares were well baited with flattery.
They would be sharp to see the vulnerable points in Jesus' answer, each for his own view. Master, we know that thou art true, so that you will speak the truth without fear or favor. And teachest the way of God in truth, you can give a divine answer to our question, one of absolute truth. Thus “ they feigned themselves to be righteous (Luke), to be sincere inquirers after the path of duty. Regardest not the person of men. You speak the truth whether rulers, governors, or emperors are pleased with it or not; you are brave and true. This to move him to speak freely his opinions; he must show himself brave. “ The compliment, besides being treacherous, was insulting, implying that Jesus was a reckless simpleton who would give himself away, and a vain man who could be flattered.” – Exp. Gk. Test. 17. Is it lawful to give tribute unto Cæsar, or not? Give us a plain answer, yes,
“ The word rendered tribute denoted, as used by the Jews, the annual poll tax which was levied on the people for the treasury of the Roman emperor. The publicans col. lected it," which made it more obnoxious to the Jews.
The current coin in which the tribute was paid was the denarius, a silver coin worth about 17 cents.
The DILEMMA. No matter which side Jesus took it seemed impossible for him not to seriously damage his cause. If he decided for either party, the other would be his enemy. He was sailing between Scylla and Charybdis. If he said it was not right to pay taxes, he would be in collision with the whole Roman power, which would regard and treat him as a criminal. His career would be ended. If he said it was lawful for the Jews, the great mass of the people would be against him, and he would lose his hold upon them; for they hated the Roman government, and one of the first and greatest things they expected of the Messiah was deliverance from this subjection to a foreign power. * The taxes were a constant cause of revolt.” See Josephus, Antiquities, XVIII. 1:1-6: XX. 5: 2.
18. Why tempt ye me, ye hypocrites, marking your base designs under the guise of seekers after truth.
13. Shew me the tribute money: Lit., the coin of the census, the coin in which the poll tax is paid. And they brought unto him a penny, a denarius. The usual daily wages of a laborer.
20. Whose is this image. The emperor issuing the coin usually had his image stamped upon it; as is common in modern times. And superscription, the inscription upon the coin, the name and titles of the emperor.
21. They say unto him, Cæsar's (pronounced Kaisar by Romans and Greeks. It is the German Kaiser and Russian Czar). Render therefore unto Cæsar the things
which are Cæsar's. “The image and superscription on the coin implied the sovereignty of Cesar. The Jews, by using the coins, in so far were served by the Roman government. They therefore owed it some service in return. This service was the payment of taxes." Prof. Shailer Mathews, The Social Teaching of Jesus.
So long as they used the protection, the roads, the money, the courts, etc., of the Roman government, it was simple honesty to pay their part of the expenses. The badness of the rulers did not make dishonesty right on the part of their subjects. The payment did not endorse the government.
And unto God the things that are God's. God as your maker, preserver, giver of countless good gifts, one of the choicest of which was the gift of his Son, their Messiah, had a right to claim love and obedience from them. Fulfil those duties as faithfully as you should those to an earthly ruler. Bring your whole life under the sway of conscience and righteousness. 1. This appealed to their conscience. It was no evasion of the question, but was the statement of a great principle which applies to all ages.
2. Christians have to live in countries where the government is not perfect, and it is their duty to be good citizens in them, the best citizens they have. This was one of the ways by which Christianity conquered the Roman empire. To have fought the empire with
their worldly weapons would have been ruin; as Christ himself said: “For all they that take the sword shall perish with the sword” (Matt. 26: 52). They conquered by obeying Christ's precept “ Řen. der unto Cesar the things that are Cesar's”; and they did this best by his further command to “ren. der unto God the things that are God's.”
3. There is a higher law than Cesar's commands, and when the two come in conflict, obedience to the higher law is duty, and the Christian must obey God, and take the consequences; as the apostles did. But note that very seldom did obedience to this higher law come into conflict with the essential principles of the empire, or of the Jewish rulers. When the apostles disobeyed the autocratic commands of Jewish rulers they did not disobey the law of the land, and the same was usually true as to the Roman law. And really their obedience first and highest to God's law was a sustaining of the things that really were Cesar's. And the same is true of most persecutions.
4. God's image is stamped on the soul of man. It is sometimes soiled in the mire of sin, dimmed by the friction of worldly cares, bent and distorted by wrongs done and wrongs received; but every man was created in the image of God. This makes
it possible to be restored, to receive the fuller, THE EMPEROR OF ROME AT THE TIME OF CHRIST'S MINISTRY. sweeter, more perfect image of God's holiness.
It calls us to “render unto God the things that are God's,” our hearts, our love, our devotion, our lives, all that we have and are, consecrated to his service and to the service of his children.
ILLUSTRATION. When Tamerlane was in his wars, one of his captains dug up a great pot of gold, and brought it to him. Tamerlane asked whether it had his father's stamp upon it; but when he saw it had the Roman stamp, and not his father's, he would not own it.
II. A Religious Question Concerning the Future Life.- Vs. 23–33. THIS QUESTION WAS PROPOUNDED BY THE SADDUCEES, who did not believe in the future life, nor the resurrection of the dead, nor in the existence of any world of spiritual beings. For this reason, and because they held worldly power, antagonistic to Jesus' claims, they were opposed to him.
Hence they asked a question about the future life which they had doubtless often discussed with the Pharisees, and which they felt was unanswerable.
THE DILEMMA. If Jesus could not answer the question, satisfactorily, then his own preaching about the resurrection would be placed in a ridiculous and absurd light and his influence with the multitude would be destroyed.