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A Commentary Upon The Gospel According To Saint Luke -St. Cyril

And having entered into the temple, He began to cast out them that sold therein, saying unto them, It is written that My house is a house of prayer: but ye have made it a den of thieves. And he taught daily in the temple: but the chief priests and scribes and rulers of the people sought to destroy Him; and found not what they might do unto Him, for all the people were hanging upon Him to hear Him. And it came to pass on one of the days, as He taught the people in the temple, and preached, the chief priests and scribes, with the elders, rose up against Him, and said unto Him, Tell us by what authority Thou doest these things? or who it is that gave Thee this authority? But He answered and said unto them, I also will ask you one word, and tell Me: the baptism of John, was it from heaven, or of men? And they considered with themselves, saying, That if we shall say, From heaven; He will say, Why therefore did ye not believe him? But if we say, Of men; all the people will stone us: for they are persuaded that John is a prophet. And they answered, that they knew not whence it was. And Jesus said unto them, Neither tell I you by what authority I do these things.

IT is written, that “there is a light always for the righteous; but the light of the wicked shall be put out.” For to those who have embraced the righteousness that is in Christ, God the Father imparts the inextinguishable light of the true knowledge of the true vision of God: for He revealeth unto them the Son; as the Saviour Himself also in a certain place said unto the Jews, “Murmur not one with another: no man can come unto Me, except the Father Who sent Me draw him.” But He draws, of course, by light and knowledge, and the cords of love. But those who are not so disposed in will, but wickedly reject Christ’s commandments, from their mind even that light, which they had by the commandment of Moses, vanishes away, and is extinguished, while the darkness of ignorance usurps its place.

And that this is true, and the real state of the case, the blindness of the Jews proves to us. For they were dark, and unable to see the glory of the Word, Who became man for our sakes, although He revealed Himself to them by the working of many miracles, and a godlike authority, an instance of which we have in what happened in the temple. For there was in it a multitude of merchants, and others also, guilty of the charge of the base love of lucre, moneychangers, I mean, or keepers of exchange tables; sellers of oxen, moreover, and dealers in sheep, and sellers of turtle doves and pigeons; all which things were used for the sacrifices according to the legal ritual. But the time had now come for the shadow to draw to an end, and for the truth, so to speak, to shine forth; even the lovely beauty of Christian conduct, and the glories of the blameless life, and the sweet rational savour of the worship in spirit and in truth.

For this reason very justly did the Truth, even Christ, as One Who with His Father was also honoured in their temple, command that those things that were by the law should be carried away, even the materials for sacrifices and burning of incense, and that the temple should manifestly be a house of prayer. For His rebuking the dealers, and driving them from the sacred courts, when they were selling what was wanted for sacrifice, means certainly this, as I suppose, and this alone.

We must observe however that another of the holy Evangelists mentions, that not only did the Lord rebuke those dealers by words, but that He also made a scourge of cords, and threatened to inflict stripes upon them; for it was right for those who honoured the legal service after the manifestation of the truth, to know, that by retaining the spirit of bondage, and refusing to be set free, they became subject to stripes, and liable to slavish torture. The Saviour therefore of all, and Lord, manifests unto them His glory for their benefit, in order that they may believe in Him. For as one Who possessed authority over the temple, He both took care of it, and also called God His Father. For as that other holy Evangelist wrote, He said to the dealers, “Make not My Father’s house a house of merchandize.” And again, “It is written, that My house shall be called a house of prayer: but ye have made it a den of thieves.” It was their duty therefore, I say their duty, rather to worship Him, as One who with God the Father was Lord of the temple. But this in their great folly they did not do: but rather being savagely eager for hatred, they both set up against Him the sharp sting of wickedness, and hastened unto murder, the neighbour and brother of envy. For “they sought, it says, to destroy Him, but could not: for all the people were hanging upon Him to hear Him.” And does not this then make the punishment of the scribes and pharisees, and all the rulers of the Jewish ranks, more heavy? that the whole people, consisting of unlearned persons, hung upon the sacred doctrines, and drank in the saving word as the rain, and were ready to bring forth also the fruits of faith, and place their neck under His commandments: but they whose office it was to urge on their people to this very thing, savagely rebelled, and wickedly sought the opportunity for murder, and with unbridled violence ran upon the rocks, not accepting the faith, and wickedly hindering others also.

And how is not what I have said true? For the Saviour Himself reproached them, saying, “And to you, lawyers, woe! for ye have taken away the key of knowledge: ye enter not in yourselves, and those that are entering in ye have hindered.” They rise up therefore against Christ as He teaches, and wickedly and abominably call out and say, “Tell us, by what authority Thou doest these things? Who gave Thee this authority?” ‘The law, they say, given by Moses, and the commandment which regulates all these our institutions, enjoined that those only who are of the lineage of Levi should approach these sacred duties: they offer the sacrifices: they regulate whatever is done in the divine temple: to them is given the office of instructing, and the government of the sacred trusts. But Thou, as being of another tribe,—for Thou art sprung from Judah,—seizest upon honours which have been set apart for us. “Who gave Thee this authority?” ’ O foolish Pharisee, come and let me tell thee somewhat thou canst not gainsay, pleading to thee the cause of Christ our common Saviour. If thou wert acquainted with the Scriptures, which are inspired of God, and the words and predictions of the holy prophets, thou wouldst have remembered perchance the blessed David, who says in the Spirit unto Christ the Saviour of all, “The Lord hath sworn, and will not repent, Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchisedek.” Explain, therefore, what Pharisee or Scribe has ministered unto God after the order of Melchisedek, who blessed and received tithes of Abraham? And as the very wise Paul writes, “Without all contradiction the less is blessed of the better.” The root and commencement therefore of the very existence of Israel, even the patriarch Abraham, was blessed by the priesthood of Melchisedek: but Melchisedek and his priesthood was a type of Christ the Saviour of us all, Who has been made our High Priest and Apostle; not bringing near unto God the Father those who believe in Him, by means of bloody sacrifices and offerings of incense, but perfecting them unto holiness by a service superior to the law: for “such a High Priest have we, Who has sat down at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty on high.”

The difference, however, between the two services is very great: for the Saviour of all offers as a priest unto God the Father the confession of our faith, and the “torrent of the sweet spiritual savour:” “God is a Spirit: and they that worship Him must worship in spirit and in truth.” But the bloody sacrifices which they offer are not well-pleasing to God. For He even said unto them, “I have hated, and have rejected your festivals, and I will not smell at your solemn assemblies. Because even though ye bring Me whole burnt offerings and sacrifices, I will not accept them, nor will I regard the salvation of your appearance. Take away from Me the sounding of thy praises: nor will I hear the psalmody of thy instruments.” Understand therefore that He says, that He hated their festivals, and that as well their praises as their sacrifices were rejected by Him. And yet God rejoiceth in being praised; but not by impure mouths, nor by a defiled tongue: for it is written in the book of Psalms, “But unto the sinner God hath said, Why dost thou declare My commandments, and take My covenant in thy mouth; whereas thou hast hated instruction, and hast cast out My words behind thee?” And again He said, “Add no more to tread My court: if ye bring fine wheaten flour, it is in vain: and your spices are an abomination unto Me.” Why therefore, O Pharisee, dost thou murmur at those things being expelled from the sacred courts which were employed for the legal sacrifices, when the appointed time now summoned men to a life better than types, and to true justification by faith in Christ, Who is Himself the truth.

But the series of subjects now set before us leads us on to discussions of too great length: and whatever is beyond due limit, is everywhere disagreeable as well to those who hear, as to those who teach. Let then what has been said suffice for the present: and whatever still remains, we will complete when Christ again assembles us here; by Whom and with Whom to God the Father be praise and dominion, with the Holy Ghost, for ever and ever, Amen.








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