Charles F. (Charles Force) Deems.

Who was Jesus? online

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pected. He led them from thinking of others to think of them-
selves. Repentance and not judgment was the Repentance, not
proper occupation of their lives. Unless the i ud s ment -
whole people of the Jews repented, the nation should be slain
and crushed out. God's hand flings down Siloam-towers and un-
sheathes Pilate-swords, and these are but types of what He will
do to the whole nation, if they do not repent. This was a predic-
tion which was literally fulfilled at the destruction of Jerusalem,
when multitudes of the inhabitants were crushed beneath the
ruins of the Temple and the city, and multitudes, while engaged
in offering their sacrifices, were slain by the Poman army.

The forbearance and the justice of God towards the Jewish
nation are then set forth in a warning parable. "A certain one
had a fig-free planted in his vineyard, and he came

,. r • • iti c i • mi i Tarable of the Fig-tree.

seeking fruit on it, and did not find it. ihen he

said to his vine-dresser, ' See, three years * I come seeking fruit

on this fig-tree, and I do not find. Cut it down : why docs it alsof

* It may be instructive to the reader
to see a statement of the fantastic deal-
ings with the words of Jesus by com-
mentators. Take the "three years'''
which are named in this passage. Au-
gustine understands them to mean
the law of nature and the written law
and the law of grace ! Theophylact in-
terprets thera to signify Moses and the
prophets and Christ ; and also, when ap-
plied bo the individual under moral cul-
ture, childhood and manhood and old
age. Olshausen, the three years of the
ministry of Jesus. Whereas the plain suggestively by the world "also,
meaning is simply the space required for I

the bearing of fruit. His hearers could
not possibly have understood anything
else, nor could others, except as they
set themselves to exercise their inge-
nuity and to make "heads" for a ser-

f The whole force of the most impor-
tant word in the sentence is lost in the
common version. " In addition to occu-
pying space, it exhausts the ground. "
Why should it? That is the real mean-
ing of the text, which, in our transla-
tion above, is Bought f be brought out



injure tlie ground?' But the vine-dresser replied, 'Master, let il
alone this year also, until I shall dig and cast manure about it ;
and then, if it produce fruit, — but if not, then thou shalt cut it
down." *

It was a plain and pungent lesson. The fig-tree was the Jew-
ish people, who had received all kinds of protection and culture
from God, who had been expected to bear fruit for the good of
the world, who had had time granted for that purpose, but who
had not only been barren, but had kept the world back in the
growth of improvement. It was like a tree drawing from the
ground the nourishment which, if other trees had, they would
produce fruit. It must be cut down. But a merciful space is
left. If it begin to be productive, it shall be spared ; if not, it
shall be cut out from among all the trees of the nations which
God has planted in the field of the world. His hearers certainly
must have understood this to be a prediction of the destruction
of their hierarchy and nationality. The construction of the par-
aide, and the connection in which it is uttered, showed them that
this was the meaning of Jesns. And he meant nothing else.

* The following' receipt for curing a
fig-tree of barrenness is quoted from
Rosenmi.ller (Altc und Neue Morgen-
land, v. 5, p. 1ST) : " Thou must take
a hatchet and go to the tree with a
friend, unto whom thou sayest, I will
cut down this tree, for it is unfruitful.
He answers, Do not so, this year it will
certainly bear fruit. But the other
Bays, It must needs be, it must be hewn

down, and gives the stem of the tree
three blows with the back of the hatchet.
But the other restrains him, crying, Nay,
do it not; thou wilt certainly have fruit
from it this year ; only have patience
with it, and be not over-hasty in cutting
it down ; if it still refuses to bear fruit,
then cut it down. Then will the tree
that year be certainly fruitful and bear



In tlic course of the afternoon of the same day Jesus left liia
residence in Capernaum and went to the shore of the lake of
Gennesaret. His appearance in public would Lnke Gennesaret,
now immediately summon a congregation. To n* 531 Capernaum. Matt

J o o xul- ; Mark iv. ; Luke

the multitudes that had assembled from all the m
neighboring towns and cities, he presented his doctrines in the
form of parables, delivered while he sat in a boat near the shore.

It is to be noticed that Jesus was more liberal of this kind of
teaching at this period of his ministry than ever before. In the
next chapter we shall have occasion to consider the motive. We are
following the order of the original historians as far as practicable.

The first in order and in importance is the Parable of the
Sower. Jesus considered it the fundamental parable. "When his
disciples questioned him privately as to its signifi-

i • -i « T7- i • i i o '^ T rarable of the Sower.

cance, he said, " Ivnow ye not tins parable I How
then will ye know all parables ? " (Mark iv. 13.) And this is
that parable : " Behold the sower went forth to sow ; and in his
sowing some seeds fell by the wayside, and were trodden down,
and the birds came and devoured them. And others fell upon
stony places, where they had not much earth, and immediately
sprang up, because they had no depth of earth ; but the sun having
risen* they were scorched, and because they had no root they with-
ered away. And others fell among the thorns, and the thorns
grew up and choked them, and they yielded no fruit. And others
fell on good ground, and gave fruit, some an hundred-fold, some
sixty-fold, some thirty-fold. He who hath ears let him hear."

* ' ' There is a peculiar beauty in the
Greek here, which cannot be retained
in a translation, arising from the use of
the same verb (but in a less emphatic
form) to signify the rising of the plant

and of the sun, as both are said in Eng-
lish to be up, when one is above the
surface of the earth and the other abov*
tho horizon." — Jos. Addison Alexander.



The next parable is that of the Tares. lie said to them, " The

kingdom of the heavens "was likened to a man who sowed cood

seed in his field, but while men slept* his

Of the Tares. ' x

enemy came and oversowed tares f in the midst
of the wheat, and went away. And when the blade sprang up
and made fruit, then appeared also the tares. And the slaves of
the master of the house coming said to him : ' Sir, didst thou not
sow good seed in thy field ? Whence then has it tares % ' lie said
to them, ' An enemy man has done this.' And the slaves said
to him, 'Wilt thou then that we go and gather them V But he
said, 'No : lest gathering together the tares ye root up the wheat
with them. Permit both to grow together until the harvest; and
in time of harvest I will say to the reapers, Gather first the tares,
and bind them in bundles for to burn them : but the wheat gather
into my barn.' "

And he said, " So is the kingdom of God, like as if a man
should cast the seed into the ground, and should sleep, and rise

nii^ht and day, and the seed should sprino; and

Of the Patient Farmer. ° •" , ,

grow up, he knoweth not how. Ihe earth bring-
ing forth fruit of herself ; first the blade, then the ear, after that
the full corn in the ear : but when the fruit is ripe, immediately
he putteth in the sickle, because the harvest has come."

Then he set before them the Parable of the Mustard-seed.
" The kingdom of the heavens is like a grain of mustard,;}: which
a man took and sowed in his field, which indeed
is the least of all the seeds, but when grown it is
the greatest of the herbs, and becomes a tree, so that the birds of
heaven come and roost in its branches and under the shadow

Then another parable. " The kingdom of the heavens is like

Of the Mustard-seed.

* Simply signifying "at night," — the
time when men usually sleep, — and not
at all intimating any blame of the ser-
vants, as Chrysostom and Augustine have

\ The botanical question is a matter
of no importance whatever in the inter-
pretation of a parable. The tares here
are probably the Lollum tcmulentum,
darnel, which resembles wheat when
it first comes, but the seed is black and
has an intoxicating effect. It is exceed-

ingly difficult to extirpate it when it has
once begun to grow in a field, and it ia
almost impossible to discriminate be-
tween tares and wheat. See a very full
description (with pictorial illustration)
in Thompson's Land and Book, voL ii.
pp. 111-114.

\ Another botanical question, not very
important in a parable. Of all the seed
corn used in Jewish husbandry the mus-
tard-seed was probably the very small-



yeast,* which a woman having taken hid in three measures f of
meal, until the whole was leavened."

When he left the lake and retired to his house
his disciples sought him, and asked the reason for the great change
which was now coming over his manner of dis-
course. They could not have failed to notice Wl f Jesus spoke in

J parables.

that thitherto he had spoken with great direct-
ness, in a didactic style, when he wished to teach doctrine or incul-
cate duty, and that when his enemies sought to entrap him he
had dealt with them in questions which greatly entangled them.
Now he was filling his speech with parables. There must be
some reason for this great change. So they put the question to
him directly: "Why speakest thou unto them in parables?"
His answer was this : " Because it has been given to you to know
the mysteries of the kingdom of the heavens, but to them it has
not been given. For whosoever has, to him shall bo given, and
he shall have abundance : but whosoever has not, from him shall
be taken even what he hath. On this account I speak to them in
parables : because seeing they do not see, and hearing they do not
hear, nor understand. And to them is fulfilled the prophecy of
Isaiah, which saith, By hearing ye shall hear, and shall not un-
derstand : and seeing ye shall see, and not perceive : for the
heart of this people is become gross, and they heard with their
ears heavily, and their eyes they closed ; lest they should see with
their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their

* In the Greek Cv^y, leaven or yeast,
the sour dough used in all countries to
produce fermentation, and thus make
the bread light and puffy.

f This measure, called 2aT i

Online LibraryCharles F. (Charles Force) DeemsWho was Jesus? → online text (page 35 of 77)