Matthew 13:17 MEANING

Matthew 13:17
(17) Many prophets and righteous men.--The prophets of Israel were emphatically "men of desires." They saw afar off the glory of the kingdom of the latter days. Each stood, as it were, on a Pisgah height, and looked on the vision of a land which he was not to enter. The words "have not seen them" seem to stand in verbal contradiction with those of John 8:56, "Your father Abraham rejoiced to see My day," but it is clear that the difference is simply verbal. There is a joy in looking on the distant prospect which does not exclude, yea, rather implies the desire to reach that which even from afar appears so glorious. The feeling thus described is identical with the "searching diligently" of 1 Peter 1:10, and with the "desire for a better country" of Hebrews 11:16.

Verse 17. - For verily (Matthew 5:18, note). Not in the parallel passage; it is much more common in Matthew than Luke. Our Lord contrasts his disciples' "blessedness" not only with the state of their contemporaries, but with that of their predecessors in faith. I say unto you, That many prophets and righteous men. Those who were specially favoured with insight into God's methods, and those who approached most closely to his standard of righteousness. Righteous men; "kings" in Luke. St. Luke's readers would probably not appreciate the force of the term, "righteous men." to the same degree that St. Matthew's would. Have desired (ἐπεθύμησαν). By reading ἐπεθύμησα, this saying has been attributed to Christ (see Bishop Westcott, 'Introd.,' App. C.; Resch, 'Agrapha,' p. 397). To see those things which ye see, and have not seen them; and to hear those things which ye hear, and have not heard them (cf. Hebrews 11:13; 1 Peter 1:10-12).

13:1-23 Jesus entered into a boat that he might be the less pressed, and be the better heard by the people. By this he teaches us in the outward circumstances of worship not to covet that which is stately, but to make the best of the conveniences God in his providence allots to us. Christ taught in parables. Thereby the things of God were made more plain and easy to those willing to be taught, and at the same time more difficult and obscure to those who were willingly ignorant. The parable of the sower is plain. The seed sown is the word of God. The sower is our Lord Jesus Christ, by himself, or by his ministers. Preaching to a multitude is sowing the corn; we know not where it will light. Some sort of ground, though we take ever so much pains with it, brings forth no fruit to purpose, while the good soil brings forth plentifully. So it is with the hearts of men, whose different characters are here described by four sorts of ground. Careless, trifling hearers, are an easy prey to Satan; who, as he is the great murderer of souls, so he is the great thief of sermons, and will be sure to rob us of the word, if we take not care to keep it. Hypocrites, like the stony ground, often get the start of true Christians in the shows of profession. Many are glad to hear a good sermon, who do not profit by it. They are told of free salvation, of the believer's privileges, and the happiness of heaven; and, without any change of heart, without any abiding conviction of their own depravity, their need of a Saviour, or the excellence of holiness, they soon profess an unwarranted assurance. But when some heavy trial threatens them, or some sinful advantage may be had, they give up or disguise their profession, or turn to some easier system. Worldly cares are fitly compared to thorns, for they came in with sin, and are a fruit of the curse; they are good in their place to stop a gap, but a man must be well armed that has much to do with them; they are entangling, vexing, scratching, and their end is to be burned, Heb 6:8. Worldly cares are great hinderances to our profiting by the word of God. The deceitfulness of riches does the mischief; they cannot be said to deceive us unless we put our trust in them, then they choke the good seed. What distinguished the good ground was fruitfulness. By this true Christians are distinguished from hypocrites. Christ does not say that this good ground has no stones in it, or no thorns; but none that could hinder its fruitfulness. All are not alike; we should aim at the highest, to bring forth most fruit. The sense of hearing cannot be better employed than in hearing God's word; and let us look to ourselves that we may know what sort of hearers we are.For verily I say unto you,.... This is added for the further confirmation of what is before said, concerning the happiness of the disciples, in seeing and hearing what they did:

that many prophets, and righteous men; Luke says, Luke 10:24 "kings"

have desired to see those things which ye see, and have not seen them, and to hear those things which ye hear, and have not heard them. To see Christ in the flesh, and have a clearer insight into the knowledge of the mysteries of grace, were things very desirable to men of the highest class in church and state, and of the best characters, such as Abraham, John 8:56. Jacob, Genesis 49:18. David, Psalm 14:7. Solomon, and the church in his time, Sol 8:1. Isaiah, and the saints with him, Isaiah 25:9 with many others. These indeed had a sight of Christ, but a very distant one; they saw him afar off in the promises and prophecies of him; and not very clearly, but through dark types and cloudy sacrifices; whereas the disciples saw him in person, heard him preach, took in the evidence of his miracles, and felt the power of his doctrines, and spiritually and savingly understood them. A way of speaking, somewhat like this, stands in the Talmud (p);

"Many have watched to expound in Mercavah (the beginning of Ezekiel's prophecy), , "and have not seen it all their days".''

(p) T. Bab. Megilla, fol. 24. 2.

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