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A Practical Commentary On Holy Scripture by Frederick Justus Knecht D.D.

[Mat. 22:15–22. Mark 12:13. Luke 20:20]

THE Scribes and Pharisees, understanding that the parable of the marriage-feast was meant for them, hated our Lord more than ever. They went, therefore, and consulted together, how they could lay hold of some of His words, in order to accuse Him publicly. For this purpose they sent some of their disciples, with the Herodians, to ask Him, by way of satisfying their doubts, whether it were lawful to pay tribute to Cæsar, or not. Now, by Cæsar, was meant the Roman Emperor, to whom Judæa was then subject. They thought that, if He answered “Yes”, He would make Himself odious to the Jews, and that, on the other hand, if He answered “No”, He would draw down on Himself the revengeful hatred of Herod and the Romans.

But Jesus, knowing their malice, said: “Why do ye tempt Me, ye hypocrites? Show Me the coin of the tribute.” They showed Him a penny (Fig. 82). And He said to them: “Whose image and inscription is this?” They said: “Cæsar’s”. Then He said to them: “Render, therefore, to Cæsar the things that are Cæsar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” The messengers could find no opening for accusing Him, and went away. But again the Pharisees laid a snare for Him. One of them, a doctor of the law, asked Him, tempting Him: “Master, which is the great commandment of the law (i. e. the greatest of the six hundred and thirteen commandments)?” This being a point of dispute among the Jewish Scribes, he hoped that, whatever our Lord’s answer might be, He would give offence to some one. Jesus said to him: “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with thy whole heart, and with thy whole soul, and with thy whole mind. This is the greatest and first commandment. And the second is like to this (i. e. as great and important): Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments dependeth the whole law and the prophets”.

 

 

Fig. 82. Roman Penny.

Obedience to temporal authority. We are not only allowed, but commanded to obey the authority of the state, and to pay such taxes &c. as are a due; for the authority of the state is ordained by God to protect the lives and property of subjects. If there were no temporal authority, disorder, robbery, murder &c. would be rampant; and, therefore, as the authority of the state exists for the good of subjects, it is the duty of these last to pay those taxes &c. without which it cannot be kept up.

The Worship of God. We are to be equally particular to give to God what is due to Him: faith, hope, love, thanksgiving, worship, and obedience to His commandments.

The Veracity of our Lord. Even His enemies bore witness that He taught in truth. “Master, we know that Thou art a true speaker, and teachest the way of God in truth.” This very testimony condemned them, for, in spite of their saying this, they did not believe what He taught.

Unbelief is, as we see in the case of the Pharisees, untiring in its efforts to find objections to faith, and to forge fresh weapons against the Christian religion, showing its enmity sometimes openly, sometimes veiled under hypocritical flattery. It deals with the Church and the faithful to this day exactly as it dealt with the Divine Founder of the Church.

The two commandments, to love God and to love our neighbour, form, in fact, only one commandment. Without the love of God there can be no true love of our neighbour; and he who does love God must, of necessity, love his neighbour as an image of God.

For the love of God there exists no measure, for we must love Him as much as we can, and more than we love anything else, because He is infinitely worthy to be loved.

The measure of our love of our neighbour is to be found in our love of ourselves, which God has implanted in the heart of each one of us. We are, our Lord says, to love our neighbour as ourselves.

Self-love is, as we have just seen, part of our human nature; but our nature having been corrupted by the Fall, our self-love easily degenerates into a sinful love of self, if it is not limited and regulated by the love of God and of our neighbour.

APPLICATION. Do you love God with all your heart? You will very likely answer: “I do indeed love God! Who could help loving so good a God!” But I ask you: Could you not love Him still more? If you do not love Him with every power that you possess, you do not love Him enough. And how do you show your love for God? Have you a horror and hatred of sin? Would you rather die than commit a mortal sin?








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