Charles F. (Charles Force) Deems.

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lieved, the slanders of the Pharisees. Even Mary's
moment of weakness was upon her. She feared. She did not
know into what the effect of his excessive labors may have be-
trayed him. But he was her son. When the message came to


him through the crowd, he said : "Who is my mother? Who are
my brethren?" And then, looking upon the multitude about
him, and more particularly upon the disciples who were clinging
more and more closely to him, and striving more and more to
comprehend him, he said : " Behold my mother and my brothers!
For whosoever shall do the will of God, the same is my brother,
and sister, and mother!" The first sentence seems a sharp
rebuke to the weakness of Mary and the infidelity of her other
sons in regard to this her greatest son and their glorious brother.
The second takes them back into loving arms, if they will also
have spiritual relationship with him. The whole sets forth a
great advance in the teaching of Jesus. It is to be noticed that
he claims more and more. lie is looking widely through human-
ity and into the future. He is caring less for fleshly ties. His
love is founded on a principle. Whoever lovingly obeys God is
a Mary that hath borne Jesus in the heart. Whoever lovingly
obeys God is his brother: the same spirit animates both. If his
mother do not obey God, Jesus is ready to disown the relationship.
If the poorest woman in the world — such as the poor barbarian
woman in Africa who .gave water to Mungo Park, and sang lulla-
bies to him in his sickness and solitude — shall only lovingly obey
God, Jesus is ready to recognize her as sister or mother. It is a
sublimely wide and deep saying!

While Jesus was making these speeches, one of the Pharisaic
party, seeing the defeat they were suffering, invited Jesus to a
Eats with a Pharisee, Inuchcon at his house, apparently that he might
and denounces rhari- break up this public discussion and take from Jesus
the support of the popular presence and approval,
and surround him in private by his deadly enemies. Jesus accepted
the invitation. Doubtless the Pharisee thought that this was done
in rustic simplicity by an unsophisticated man. But Jesus saw
the whole manoeuvre. He went into the house and sat down at
the table, omitting the ceremonial washing of hands. He was
surrounded by Pharisees, who were Separatists, Purists, Puritans,
as their name implies. These well-washed gentlemen, with nicely
pared finger-nails, in all things fastidiously neat, exchanged
glances of wonder that he did not wash his hands. He saw it.
He knew what it meant. He had been invited into a net. He
was going to break its meshes. Just then a servant may have
wiped the plates and cups with a clean napkin, to remove any



little dust that may have settled on the dishes. Jesus took the
occasion to reply in words to the accusations they were making
by glances. "You Pharisees are now as faultless in your out-
ward behavior as these dishes are clean of every kind of dirt ;
but your hearts are full of extortion and wickedness. Thought-
less men, he that makes clean that which is without, does not
necessarily clean that which is within also? But you give alms,
and then say, All things are clean! * But woe to you, Pharisees!
you are so careful in your tithes that you give a tenth of even
your mint and rue and every herb,f and omit righteousness and
the love of God : these are absolutely necessary, while your scru-
pulousness in other things should not be omitted. Woe to you,
Pharisees ! for ye love the uppermost seats in the synagogues, and
the greetings in the markets. Woe to you ! for ye are as hidden
graves which men do not see, and so walk over them and are
ceremonially denied."

Amongst those present was a "lawyer." "When that name is
mentioned we are not to suppose that the person occupied the
same position in society as our modern lawyers.
The lawyer in this case was rather a professor or
doctor of divinity. He was an authority in sacred law. This
person, perhaps feeling pinched by the statement about the punc-
tilious tithing of the smallest products of the garden, a question
the decision of which came before the lawyers, pertly addressed
Jesus with the remark, " Teacher, saying these things thou insult-
est us also."

Then Jesus broke upon him: "And to you, professors of the
moral law, woe ! for ye lade men with burdens grievous to be

A "lawyer."

* This seems to me to be the mean-
ing of Jesus, an interpretation held by
Erasmus, Lightfoot, Kuinoel, Schleier-
macher, the devout Stier, and others ;
but opposed by Dean Alford, who has
rive reasons against the correctness of
this rendering, one of which is a strong
reason for the interpretation here given,
three arc grammatical, one of which is
not pertinent when we regard this as a
dramatic sketch, and another begs the
question. This fifth reason is, that this
makes Jesus cast a slur upon almsgiving,
which is a mistake; perhaps he slurs

such almsgiving as the Pharisees made,
but he is not speaking of the giving of
alms, but of substituting outward and
ceremonial for inward and moral clean-
liness. The interpretation given in the
text has this advantage, it makes sense;
which the usual reading does not, unless
it be the sense that he that gives alms
is therefore inwardly pure — the very
doctrine of the Pharisees which Jesus
was vehemently denouncing.

j Perhaps, by a rigid rendering of the
passage of tin; law in Levit. xxvii. 30,
the Pharisees made this precept.



Lawyers denounced.

borne, and yon yourselves touch not the burdens with one o{ yonr
little fingers. "Woe to yon ! for ye bnild the tombs of the prophets,
and your fathers killed them. Truly ye are wit-
nesses that you approve the deeds of your fathers :
for they killed the prophets, and over them you erect monuments
of your own heavy ordinances. On this account the wisdom, of
God has said : ' I will send them prophets and apostles, and some
of them they will slay and persecute, that the blood of all the
prophets, shed from the foundation of the world, may be required
of this generation, from the blood of Abel to the blood of
Zacharias,* who perished between the altar and the temple : ' veri-
ly, I say unto you, It shall be required of this generation. "Woe
to you, professors of the moral law ! for ye have taken away the
key of knowledge ; ye entered not in yourselves, and those that
were entering in yc hindered."

This broke up the meal. His enemies and he rose to their
feet. The Pharisees were furious. They might have despatched
him there, but between the pauses of his awful
speech they heard the surging of the great crowd
which blocked the street outside, among whom were hundreds
who had been wrought into an enthusiasm for the Teacher, and
were anxious to have him make his appearance. He passed out
from the circle of his deadly foes into the midst of the multitude.

The meal broken up.

* This is not so much a quotation of
Scripture as an amplification of a say-
ing of Scripture. The allusion seems
to be to the account of the slaughter of
Zacharias, the son of Jehoiada (as re-
corded in 2 Chron. xxiv. 18-22). who
was stoned in the court of the house
of the Lord, because he had faith-
fully bome witness against the sins of
the people. As he was dying he said,
•' The Lord look upon it, and require it."
Jesus amplifies this expression, and
makes the assertion that God will " re-
quire " of the Jews of his generation the
blood of all the holy martyrs who had
died for confessing the truth, from Abel
the first prophet-martyr to Zacharias
the last martyr-prophet. He predicts
that such obstinate and wicked rejec-
tion of the truth by his people should

bring upon them a destruction which
should justify all the assertions of good
men in regard-to the ruinous nature of
sin, and as complete as if they had real-
ly heard and rejected each confessor of
the truth in every age. Matthew calls
this Zacharias " the son of Barachias,"
thus creating a difficulty to which two
solutions have been offered : (1), That of
Olshausen, who says, " There is nothing
offensive in the supposition that Mat-
thew might have confused the name of
the murdered man's father with the
father of the Zacharias whose book we
have in the canon of Scripture ; " or (2),
Perhaps still better, that of Ebrard, who
suggests that Zacharias might have been
the grandson of Jehoiada, and that
Barachias stood between.


He commenced to warn them against hypocrisy, against accept-
ing hypocritical invitations to feasts, but, was interrupted by a
voice from the crowd inopportunely saying, warning against hy-
" Teacher, speak to my brother, that he divide p 00 " 8 *'-
the inheritance with me." This man was not a disciple, nor
apparently about to become one, but seeing the great and grow-
ing influence of this rabbi, he supposed that he had come to set
all things right, and so put in his selfish appeal. Jesus turned
upon him with the speech : " Man, who made me a judge or a
divider over you ? " He remitted him to the laws of the land.
But it gave him occasion to deliver another warning against covet-
ousness. " See and guard yourselves against covetousness. Not
because a man has abundance does this life consist in his goods."
The life comes from God. It may be sustained by a portion of
worldly goods, but all that is over and above what a man can use
is really useless to him. It adds nothing valuable to his life.

This admonition is enforced by the parable of the Rich Fool,
told very dramatically : " The large field of a rich man produced
plentifully. And he thought within himself, parabia of the Rich
' What shall I do ? Because I have not where to F ° o1 -
store my fruits.' And he said, ' This will I do : I will pull down
my barns and build larger : and there will I gather all my pro-
duce. And I will say to my life, ' Life, thou hast many good
things laid up for many years: take thine ease, eat, drink, be
merry!' But God said: ' Thoughtless man! this night they*
require of thee thy life, and to whom will belong the things
which thou hast prepared ? ' So is he who layeth up treasure for
himself, and is not rich toward God."

It would be exceedingly dillicult to find another passage in the
discourses of Jesus fuller of lessons in as few words. A man
had become rich. He owned a great field. He

i aii it Exposition.

was growing richer every day. At last he reached

a point of perplexity. His business had grown into a very large

* It was a common belief among the ] mouths gently with a kiss by the angel

Jews that the angels had to do with Gabriel. To something of this kind

dying men, a belief alluded to again by Trench thinks allusion is made in the

Jesus in the parable of Dives and formula by which the early church so

Lazarus, Luke xvi. 22. Evil men hod frequently described the departure of a

their souls required of them, dragged good man. " In osculo Domini obdormi-

out of them; but the souls of the vit," he. hath gone to sleep in the kiss of

righteous were drawn from their the Lord,


affair. He had reached a point when some plan for life, which
should arrange for the disposal of all these riches, must be
adopted. The Teacher shows us the inmost mind of the man,
and puts his thoughts into words, and then renders the verdict of
God upon his character and conduct. God pronounced him "a
fool." It is proper to learn who, in the judgment of God, is a

It is quite apparent that the man was not engaged in an ille-
gitimate business, not even in one that was at all questionable.
He was not a thief nor gambler, nor was he a

Business legitimate. t '

speculative operator in stocks. He was neither
banker nor merchant. If money has pollution in its touch, he
avoided it. He was not exposed to the trials which beset those
men whose business compels them to buy in the cheapest and sell
in the dearest market. He lived in the rural districts, away from
the metropolis ; and he was an agriculturist. If any man can
lead a spotless life, surely a farmer can. But spotless lives are
not more frequently led in agriculture than in other pursuits.
Farmers are as good as others, and no better. There are farmers
who have grumbled at the extortion of merchants, but who
eagerly snatched at the advantage given them by a drought or a
blockade to lock up their corn and wait for still greater advance
in the prices. But the employment of farming is one in which a
man is subjected to the fewest temptations. If he do wrong,
it is because it is in him,. This man was a farmer, and — a fool.

But he was not intellectually or spiritually a fool, because he
was rich. It is not true that " any fool can make money." It
Riches no proof of requires brains, and thought, and energy, and
foiiy or sin. perseverance, — all these in such amount and pro-

portion as would make the man great in any department. Nor
does it follow that he was a sinner because he was rich.
Ordinarily, if a man be very rich, it is because he or some ances-
tor has done some wrong. But it is not so always. Some men
are so wise and good that with increasing liberality they grow
rich. Job was that perfect man who won even the admiration of
God, and he was the richest man of his region, if not of his age.
Abraham was the " friend of God," and he was a millionaire.
In every age some of the saintliest have been among the most
prosperous. Men ought not to despise or hate the rich, but pity
them ; for with great difficulty, as Jesus says, do they enter the


kingdom of heaven. And he that sets the poor against the rich,
inciting the many against the few, appealing to the passions of
those who have not against those who have, turning servants
against masters, employes against employers, labor against capi-
tal, wresting men's houses and lands and servants from them by
preaching the crusades of agrarianism is, to speak after the man-
ner of God, a " fool."

This man in the parable was a farmer, was shrewd enough to
become rich, — but he was a fool.

This severe verdict was pronounced on his character because,
Firstly, lie could not comprehend the state of affairs which he
himself had created. He had labored for an in- i. He did not com-
crease, and when the increase came he was not P rehcud his affairs,
prepared to invest it permanently for perpetual use. When a
man reaches a point that he begins to destroy what he has made,
it is clear that he is not long-sighted. This man had invited
Success to be his guest. Success came, and he did not know how
to entertain.

Secondly, Because he misunderstood his relation to the exter-
nal world. He speaks like a proprietor. " /have no room where

tO bestOW my goods." "/will pull down my 2 . Nor hfe relation*

barns, and build greater, and there will I bestow ^ exterual worId -
all my goods and my fruits." Jesus represents him as a man who
did not know how to adapt himself to the facts of God and the
laws of the universe. A wise man acknowledges God as the
proprietor, and himself as the agent whose business it is to im-
prove and beautify God's M r orld. He sees that in order to have
his world beautified God has made this law, that the very moment
a man begins to draw the world into himself he begins to be
crushed out of sight. The very moment he begins to pour him-
self out upon the world he begins to grow, and the world to
brighten. This " fool" did not know the meaning of the words
lie was employing. Nothing is " fruit " that is not enjoyable.
Nothing that brings troubles and perplexities should be called
"goods." And this man had burdened himself with what he
could not enjoy.

Thirdly, lie did not know the difference between his body and
his soul. " The life (or soul) is more than meat." He thought
he could feed his soul on corn ! And so he put all he had of
capital and brain into the production of corn. "All my goods,"


he says. When a man has invested his " all " in perishable ob-

8. Did no know the j ect8 < and they are swept away, he is totally

difference between soul poverty-stricken. This man acknowledged that

he had taken such a fearful risk.

Fourthly, He had postponed his enjoyments. There is a sense

in which the old Epicurean precept, " Carpe diem," holds good.

4. Postponed his en- If there be any real happiness to be had now,
joyments. one s i 10u i c j no i \ c i jt s ]jp Dv postponing it to the

uncertainties of the future. What pleasure we have ever had we
still have, in the knowledge and memory of it. What we have
not we may never have. The past and the future lie equally be-
yond our control. Narrow as is the Now, it is the field for our
action and the season for our enjoyment. It must be packed full
and close, — pressed down with hearty effort and hearty delight.
Many a man is like this fool in the parable. Many a man says,
" When I have accumulated a fortune, and built a house, and
established my family, I will settle down and have a good time."
Why not have a good time now, while one is accumulating one's
fortune and building one's house % Why wait ?

Fifthly, lie relied upon a known uncertainty. All that he pro-
jected required time, and was environed with insecurity. As the

5. Relied on a known timbers of the old barns were coming down, or
uncertainty. those of the new were going up, they might fall
on him or strike him, and thus kill him or leave him a mangled
cripple, wretched for all life, quite beyond the anodynes that
wealth can bring to pain. "Much goods — laid up — for many
years." Here is a triple uncertainty. And yet on this uncertainty
lie was going to settle down at his ease, and eat and drink and be
merry, forgetting that in eating and in drinking men sometimes
choke or go into manifold diseases that dampen all merriment.

Sixthly, He omitted preparations for a future certainty. He

could not tell when he should die, but he certainly knew that

whatever wealth men may accumulate they must

6. Made no provi- J n r • r

Bion for a known cer- die. He had made no arrangement for his fortune
taint7 ' when he should be dead. To whom should belong

the things which he had prepared? In this day it is sometimes
announced that a man has died and " left a fortune of many mil-
lions of dollars." He " left " it, did he ? Why not stay with it ?
What a palace, what parks, what equipages, what delicious food,
what sumptuous furniture of books and statues and pictures and


articles of virtu would not those millions buy ! Alas ! he could
not stay with it. The gate of the grave is so narrow that slender
ghosts do barely straggle through, and houses and lands, and cof-
fins and shrouds and bodies are all torn off, and the soul stands
naked on the other side. And a man cannot tell to whom lie
shall leave his riches. Take what precaution he may, his will may
be broken, after much of the estate is squandered in litigation.
If it go to the designated heir, he may squander it on swindlers
and harlots, or the heir may die and leave it to his father's dead-
liest foe. It is folly to be all one's lifetime laboring to acquire a
fortune one must leave to one knows not whom.

" So is he that layeth up treasure for himself, and is not rich
toward God." This is transcendent folly. The man has so buried
himself in the perishable that when that goes he

. t-t i 1 j 1 • if».i .i Not rich toward God.

is gone, lie has lost himself m the material.
Abstracted his inmost, highmost nature, and emptied it, as one
should spill upon the sands of the desert his only bottle of water,
when he knows that thence it can never be gathered up again, and
that there is not another drop within reach. lie passes into eter-
nity with nothing, as if one should go into a foreign land, a land
of strangers, with none of their current money, and with nothing
that could be converted into currency. On this side rich, on that
poor. Here the papers are full of accounts of his immense estate,
where it lies, and how it goes, while he stands a pale and shivering
spirit on the inside of the gate of death, with nothing. He is not
rich toward God, nor rich in God. He hath not used the means
at his control to please the owner thereof, and now he comes to
the judgment a defaulter. He had not learned the blessed alche-
my by which Love and Faith do change the baser metals of this
world to gold which endures forever.*

Such seem to be the lessons of this striking parable. Jesus fol-
lowed it with a repetition and enlargement of much that he had
spoken against covetousness and excessive carefulness in the Ser-
mon on the Mount.

In the crowd of hearers were some who took occasion to speak
to him of certain Galiheans whom Pilate had ne of r;iate\» out-
glain while they were engaged in worship, min- ra s ea -
gling their blood with their sacrifices. AVe cannot now ascertain

• In this exposition I have drawn I " A Prophylactic of Covetousness."
largely on my published sermon entitled I


•what was the particular atrocity to which they alluded. The Gali
lseans, according to Josephus,* were prone to insurrection. They
-were ignorant, rude, and tumultuous, and made frequent disturb*
ances in Jerusalem on the occasions of the feasts. And Pilate
not infrequently was grossly violent in the government of his peo-
ple.f Why these informants should have brought this'" subject to
the attention of Jesus at this particular time it is difficult to decide.
Perhaps it was a challenge to him, as he was putting forth claims
to the Messiahship, to stretch forth his arm against the Roman
governor who had violated the Temple by the introduction of
soldiers and by mingling human blood with the blood of sacri-
fices. Perhaps it was a slur on Jesus as a Galilsean. Perhaps it
intimated that he was creating trouble for the people, as these
Galilseans had met their death as his partisans. They may have
done so. Going up to Jerusalem to present their sacrifices, they
may have found a test presented to them, involving the rejection
of Jesus, or may have heard him violently denounced by the
priests; and although they themselves were not good, they had an
enthusiasm for the young Rabbi, and resented the insults of the
priests, who may have called in the aid of the governor and the
unscrupulous Roman soldiery; or, most probably, to divert the
searching address of Jesus from themselves, they spoke of this
great catastrophe in reprehension of the Galilseans who had been

Jesus takes occasion to rebuke the spirit which was rife among
the Jews, and which can be found in this day, leading men to
adjudge the unfortunate as wicked, and to regard
singular catastrophes as proofs of singular crim-
inality. " Suppose you that these Galileans were sinners above
all the Galileans, because they have suffered such things % I tell
you, No; but except you repent, you shall all perish in like man-
ner.:}: Or those eighteen, upon whom the tower of Siloam§ fell

A false judgment.

* Vit., 17, and Antiq., 17, 9, 3 ; 10, 2.

•f See Josephus, Antiq. , 18, 3, 1 ; De
Bdl. Jud. , 2, 9, 2 ; also Winer, the arti-
cle Pilate.

% " Likewise " does not translate the
word. It means that their punishment
should be of the same kind as that of
those who had been spoken of.

§ History has preserved no record of

the incident here mentioned. "Winer
refers to Josephus, Bell. Jud., G, 7, 2,
from which passage it would seem that
the lower town extended as far as
this district of Siloam, which Josephus
distinguishes from a well of the same
name, and that the district was enclosed
by the city walls.


and killed them, think ye that they were sinners above all men
who dwelt in Jerusalem ? I tell you, No ; but except you repent,
you shall all (Galilreans and Judseans) perish in like manner."
He taught that these unfortunates who fell by Pilate's hand were
not therefore to be accounted worse than their countrymen ; nor
the Galilaeans in geneial to be disparaged on this account, for in
Judaea, nay, in Jerusalem itself, a tower had fallen upon eighteen
people who were not Galileans, and they perished ; but they were
not therefore to be accounted worse than other Judieans.

lie then gave his discourse a turn which his hearers little ex-

Online LibraryCharles F. (Charles Force) DeemsWho was Jesus? → online text (page 34 of 77)