MATTHEW 21
Enter subtitle here


22 And all things, whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer, believing, ye shall receive.

SUMMARY - SECTION FROM NAZARETH REVISITED ON PRAYER

1. Have the heart prepared by habitual meditation

2. Right thoughts - right words - psalms and the Lord's prayer show the acceptable thoughts and words.

3. Persevere in requests 'Pray without ceasing' (1 THESS 5;17)

4. The father gives good things according to his wisdom when he is repeatedly petitioned. (Matt 7;7)

5. Yahweh will not hear those who have iniquity in their heart. (Psa 66:18)

6. '... he heareth the prayer of the righteous. (Prov 15:29, )


28 But what think ye? A certain man had two sons; and he came to the first, and said, Son, go work to day in my vineyard.

On what principle? On the principle supplied in the answer they had given -- that the man who did what was required of him was the right doer, even if in the first instance he made great show in the contrary direction.

The publicans and the harlots by their profession were such as refused to perform the commands of righteousness: but as a matter of fact, they "repented at the preaching of John the Baptist," whom the Scribes and Pharisees rejected. These Scribes and Pharisees made a great show of willingness to submit to the divine requirements, but as a matter of fact, while promising obedience, they did not yield it, and their long prayers and religious performances did not make up for their disobedience. They were in the position of the son, who said, "I go, sir," but went not.

The parable has a valuable modern application. There is much talk of the lips: much piety. Where is the doing of what God has commanded? There is very little of it. No wonder. The state of things is so corrupt that the very theology of the people almost kills incentive to righteous action. They are taught that they can do nothing to please God; that all that is needful is to believe that Christ died for them. "Only believe," that is enough, say they. As for doing, they are to "cast their deadly doing down -- down at Jesus' feet" Jesus "did it all, long, long ago." As for them, they are "miserable sinners," who constantly do the things they ought not to do, and leave undone the things they ought to do.

In clear and dignified contradiction to this demoralising travesty of the apostolic doctrine of justification by faith, stands the words of Jesus: "He that doeth the will of my Father, the same is my mother and sister and brother," -- a doctrine he could not have placed in a clearer light than by this parable of the son who was approved even after rebelliousness of speech, because he did the things that were required of him. How reasonable and beautiful is the doctrine.

Action is the very essence of character. If a man's actions are always evil, of what acceptance with God or man can the finest speeches find? They are as a fine cloak over a grinning skeleton. The man who talks finely and acts badly is not inaccurately known in all the world as a hypocrite, and a knave whose basenesses are rendered all the more hideous for being tricked out in the garb of a fine wordy profession.

Nazareth Revisited Ch 32


41 They say unto him, He will miserably destroy those wicked men, and will let out his vineyard unto other husbandmen, which shall render him the fruits in their seasons.

The Parable of the Vineyard

It condenses Israel's history into a single view. God forming them into a nation is set forth under the figure of a man planting a vineyard. The man who plants a vineyard for himself does so that he may have pleasure from it. It is not merely that the vineyard may exist. The human view is that a nation exists for itself, and that its end is served if it prosper and is happy. But here is another and a higher view -- one that does not appeal to patriotic sympathies, but which is nevertheless the true one, conformity or non-conformity to which will ultimately determine all questions of national well-being.

"God, in whose hand thy breath is, thou hast not glorified:" this was Daniel's complaint against Belshazzar. It is the true indictment against all nations, and is the cause of the judgment that is coming on all nations. Israel was especially formed for the purpose and pleasure of God. "This people have I formed for myself" (Isaiah xliii. 21), "that they might be unto me for a name, and for a praise, and for a glory" before all people of the earth (Jer. xiii. 11).

The planting of a vine is a frequent figure of Israel's national incorporation. It was not used for the first time when Jesus spoke this parable. So early as in David, we read "Thou hast brought a vine out of Egypt. Thou hast cast out the heathen and planted it. Thou preparedst room before it, and didst cause it to take deep root, and it filled the land" (Psa. lxxx. 8). In Isaiah, it is the theme of a song, "Now will I sing to my well-beloved, a song of my well-beloved, touching his vineyard. My beloved hath a vineyard in a very fruitful hill, and he fenced it and gathered out the stones thereof, and planted it with the choicest vine.... The vineyard of the Lord of Hosts is the House of Israel" (Is. v. 7).

For God's pleasure, and the well-being of the men composing it, this national vineyard existed. Had it answered its end, nothing but the purest prosperity would have attended it. God was "waiting over them to do them good." Moses put it thus plainly to them: "It shall come to pass if ye hearken to these judgments and keep and do them, that the Lord thy God ... will love thee and bless thee and multiply thee: he will also bless the fruit of thy womb and the fruit of thy land, thy corn and thy wine and thine oil, the increase of thy kine and the flocks of thy sheep, in the land which he sware unto thy fathers to give thee. Thou shalt be blessed above all people: there shall not be male or female barren among you or among your cattle.... What doth the Lord thy God require of thee but to fear the Lord thy God, to walk in all His ways, and to love Him and to serve the Lord thy God, with all thy heart, and with all thy soul?" (Deut. vii. 12-14; x. 12).

Having planted the vineyard, the proprietor sent messengers to receive of the fruit. That is, God raised up prophets in the midst of Israel, to bring them to the obedience which he required, and to that service and praise in which he delighted. With what result everyone acquainted with Israel's history knows. There is no sadder chapter in the whole story of human confusion upon earth than this -- that a nation, divinely founded, constituted, and guided, should, in all their generations, have turned against and killed the messengers divinely sent to them to keep them in the right way.

It is a fact which painfully appears in the detail of Israel's history, and is thus concisely and graphically summarised at the close of the Divine record: "The chief of the priests and the people transgressed very much after all the abominations of the heathen, and polluted the house of the Lord which he had hallowed in Jerusalem. And the Lord God of their fathers sent to them by His messengers, rising up betimes and sending, because He had compassion on His people and on His dwelling place. But they mocked the messengers of God, and despised His words, and misused His prophets, until the wrath of the Lord arose against His people till there was no remedy" (2 Chron. xxxvi. 14-16). This is, in fact, the state of things parabolically exhibited in this story of the vineyard.

Israel's long career of insubordination culminated in the rejection and crucifixion of the Son of God himself. Judgment was not long delayed after this. The account of public events during a.d. 30 -- 70 (vulgar era), written by Josephus, is the historic illustration of the process of that "miserable destruction" which, in fulfilment of the words of Jesus, slowly came on them as the result of their disobedience. The vineyard, by that process, was taken from the order of "husbandmen" then in possession.

Of that vineyard, Jesus is here exhibited as "the heir." He has not since that time come into possession, but he must do so as the heir. He indicates such an event in sanctioning the statement that it will be "given unto others." The Gospel of the Kingdom enables us to recognise in those "others," the Lord Jesus and his brethren in the day of his glory at his return, as he says, "When the son of man shall come in his glory and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit on the throne of his glory" (Matt. xxv. 31).

Nazareth Revisited Ch 32