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over the son, who was lost and is found again—his own restored brother.
The explanation of this contrast is given by the Lord, in the additions to the first and second parables. The joy of the shepherd with his neighbours and friends is an image of the joy which is in heaven generally over one sinner that repenteth,—and which exists in an extraordinary degree, being greater than the joy over ninety and nine just persons, who need no repentance, who cannot get beyond their poor, dead legality—to say nothing of self-knowledge, repentance, love, and freedom. The joy of the woman and her friends over the lost piece of silver is an image of the joy, which is among the angels of God, over the repentance of a sinner. Finally, the joy of the father over his lost son, and the festive celebration, is a picture of the joy of God Himself. All these circles of joy rebuke, with their mild light, the pharisaic spirit, which takes offence at the reception of sinners into the kingdom of God. How gently and calmly, however, grace rebukes those who disparage it, is shown likewise by the conduct of the father towards his angry elder son. 10. The love which communicates—as the first characteristic in
the unfolding of salvation. The exercise of it, and the disparagement of it.
(Chap. xvi.) At the time when the Lord was about to leave Galilee, He found even amongst His followers much to unveil and to remedy. As the legalists were inclined to despise the publicans and sinners, so might many who were affluent be disposed to neglect the poor, instead of treating them as brethren, and helping them. Such experiences may in part have influenced the Lord, when He chose this opportunity to impress on the hearts of His disciples, by means of a parable, the law of His kingdom, according to which the wealthier must share their goods with the poor, in the free exercise of love.
• There was a certain rich man, which had a steward ; and the same was accused unto him, that he had wasted his goods. And he called him, and said unto him, How is it that I hear this of thee? give an account of thy stewardship; for thou mayest be no longer steward. Then the steward said within himself,
1 Comp. Olshausen, iii. 38.
What shall I do? for my lord taketh away from me the stewardship: I cannot dig; to beg I am ashamed. I know-I have already found out—what I must do, that when I am put out of the stewardship, they may receive me into their houses. So he called every one of his lord's debtors unto him, the one after the other. To the first he said, How much owest thou unto my lord ? And he said, An hundred measures? of oil. And he said unto him, Take thy bill (which he thus returned to him), and sit down quickly, and write (another with the specification) fifty. Then said he to another, And how much owest thou? And he said, An hundred measures of wheat. And he said unto him, Take thy bill, and write fourscore. And the lord commended the unjust steward, because he had done wisely. For the children of this world are wiser in their generation than the children of light.
In this parable, the idol of this world, Plutus or Mammon, appears as the possessor of earthly goods. The affluent man is his steward. He becomes a Christian, and is thus unfaithful to Plutus. The maxims of brotherly love alter the maxims of selfish gain : he gives—he assists the brethren. For this the spirit of covetous acquisition calls him to account. The steward must perceive, that he has fallen out with the spirit of the world, in his mode of acquisition and possession. He observes, that this master no longer acknowledges him, and that his dismissal is near at hand; in other words, that it must come to an entire separation between his new manner of acting, and his old world of selfish gain, and that he might easily come to poverty, if he stopped short half-way. He becomes now first wholly untrue to his former master, in order to secure for himself a new existence, in the resolute exercise of benevolence. Amongst the debtors he desires to prepare for himself an asylum. For he cannot dig, and will not beg. That is, he has no ability for a difficult profession, to which he is not called, and which he has not learned ; and as little does he desire to seek his bread in an ignoble, humiliating manner. He therefore seeks a new existence amongst the debtors of his lord-amongst the poor. At first þe 1 According to Josephus, = 72 horas, which make 1 Attic perpuths, or
- ξέσται, 1 μετρητής, about 9 English gallons.
? According to Josephus, = 10 piòruvor,—the medimnus being = 12 gallons.
makes the most resolute effort. The debt of the first he reduces to fifty. Then, however, his moral prudence shows itself more strongly. The debt of the next he reduces to fourscore. Thus he secures for himself a maintenance. Plutus himself, on his own maxims, must praise this calculation. Even from an economical point of view is Christian beneficence commendable.
The Lord makes, nevertheless, the additional remark: 'For the children of this world are wiser in their generation than the children of light. If Mammon himself had made this remark, it must have been reversed: The children of light are, in their generation, wiser than the children of the world. Thereupon said Jesus further, for the sake of explanation, “And I say unto you, Make to yourselves friends of the Mammon of unrighteousness; that when ye are left (by your earthly possessions, as unclothed spirits), they may receive you into everlasting habitations. He that is faithful in that which is least, is faithful also in much : and he that is unjust in the least, is unjust also in much. If therefore ye have not been faithful in the unrighteous Mammon-faithful householders of God, stewards of divine liberality—who will commit to your trust that which is true (essential)? And if ye have not been faithful in that which is another's (which is entrusted to you, and does not belong to your own proper self), who shall give you that which is your own (how can you expect that your own shall be faithfully restored to you? that is, if you treat the goods of another, entrusted to you, as if they were your own, how can you get again your own true self)? No household servant can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one (the true master), and love the other (the false); or else he will hold to the one (the true), and despise the other (the false). Ye cannot serve God and Mammon.'
The Pharisees also, who were covetous, heard all these things; and they derided Him. And He said unto them, “Ye are they which justify yourselves before men; but God knoweth your hearts : for that which is highly esteemed among men is abomination (unclean and worthless) in the sight of God.' (As a rule, the ideal of human greatness is a gradually developed product of wickedness and self-deception—of a reciprocal action
Compare the decline of the apostolic Church, from a community of goods to the apostolic relief of the poor, Acts iv. v. vi.
between the vanity of the worshipper and that of the object of his worship.)
He then added, in order to show them that their time was past: "The law and the prophets were until John : since that time the kingdom of God is preached, and every man presseth into it' (is under the pressure of a mighty process of development, which is turned in that direction).
The Pharisees were just the persons to blind themselves to the fact, that since the appearance of John the Baptist, the dawn of a new era had begun. Without presentiment of the future, they still rejoiced in the old phantom of their religious greatness, in their lofty pretensions to external righteousness, which, in the sight of God, had already become an abomination, ripe for judgment. That, however, they might not fallaciously misapply the last word, as if the Lord meant to abrogate Moses and the prophets, He added further :
It is easier for heaven and earth to pass than that one tittle of the law should fail.'
And for the elucidation of what had been said, there followed, by way of example, the declaration :
Whosoever putteth away his wife, and marrieth another, committeth adultery; and whosoever marrieth her that is put away from her husband, committeth adultery.'
This example must, at the same time, have shown them how much they themselves had departed from the law of Moses, although they boasted of being the representatives and defenders of the law, in contrast to Him.
When He had thus taught the Pharisees their blindness with respect to the new period, He held up to their view, in the parable of the rich man and Lazarus, a warning mirror of the future which awaited them, should they continue, heartlessly, to rejoice in their riches, without kindness to their poor brethren at the door.
* There was a certain rich man, who clothed himself in purple and byssus—in splendid robes of purple and bright white linen—and held sumptuous banquets every day. And there was a certain beggar named Lazarus, which was laid at his gate, full of sores; and gladly would he have satisfied himself with the crumbs which fell from the rich man's table: moreover, the dogs came and licked his sores. And thus he lay there among the wild dogs, with which he must share his scanty piece of
bread, and which, as if in sympathy, associated themselves with him.—And now came the death of the poor man, and his being carried by the angels into Abraham's bosom. The rich man also died, and was buried. And in the lower world (the realm of the dead) he lifted up his eyes—he looked upwards—being in
— torments, and saw—thus high above him-Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom. And he himself cried (for attendants were now wanting), and said, Father Abrahamstill ever leaning on his descent from Abraham-have mercy upon me, and send Lazarus (whom he thus well knew, but still always regarded as a born servant of the rich), that he may dip the tip of his finger in water (because, no doubt, he dreaded a greater degree of contact with one who had been unclean), and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame. But Abraham said, Son (acknowledging, without scruple, the natural descent, but without ascribing any effect whatever to the fact), remember that thou in thy lifetime receivedst thy good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things : but now he is comforted, and thou art tormented. And beside all this, between us and you there is a great gulf fixed : so that they which would pass from hence to you cannot; neither can they pass to us that would come from thence. Then he said, I pray thee therefore, father, that thou wouldest send him to my father's house—again Lazarus, to whom he would grant no rest in Abraham’s bosom, and whom he still ever treats contemptuously-for I have five brethren; that he may be a witness to them-of future retribution-lest they also come into this place of torment–into which thus he had come, he thought, or at least pretended to think, unwarned, and therefore unjustly.—Abraham understood well what he would say, and answered, They have Moses and the prophets ; let them hear them. And he said, Nay, father Abraham: but if one went to them from the dead—a ghost appeared to themthey will repent. To this Abraham answered : “If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded though one rose from the dead.'
The last word has been confirmed by the history of the resurrection of Jesus.?
'Εγένετο δε αποθανείν, etc.
[As well as by the resurrection of Lazarus, whom the chief priests sought to put to death.—ED.]