Charles F. (Charles Force) Deems.

Who was Jesus? online

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"When you make a dinner or a supper, call not your friends, nor yoiu
brethren, nor your kinsmen, nor your rich neighbors, lest they also invite
you in return and a recompense l>e made yoju. But when you make a feast,
call the poor, the maimed, the lame, the blind. And yon shall he blessed;
for they cannot repay you: but you shall be recompensed in the resurrection
of the just."

Men sometimes invite others to their entertainments in order
to he in\iteU liaVG Com
manded, and yel there is room.' And the lord -aid to the slave, •f my supper.' "


The lessons seem quite plain. The kingdom of God is a feast,
and men have been invited thereto. They decline to come, not
on account of business, buying land and oxen, or marriage, as all
these are lawful things, but on account of too much devotion
to these things, and the failure to adjust their affairs so as to
discharge all duties properly. The " compelling " the uninvited
to come in, to fill up the places of the recreant invited guests,
is readily understood when we reflect that these people were so
poor and worthless and unknown that the messenger would have
the greatest difficulty in convincing them that the invitation was
for them. Rebuke to the Jewish nation was herein. They had
declined the invitation of God, and now God would fill their
places with the Gentiles.

Great multitudes flocked to him on this journey. Luke reports

that he gave them this description of such discipleship as he

required, and enforced his teaching with striking

erms o isci- jn us t ra tions, and the repetition of what he had

plesnip. Luke xiv. 7 - 1

elsewhere spoken.
This is the address : —

" If any one come to me and hate not his father, and mother, and wife,
and children, and brethren, and, sisters, and yet more, even his own life,
he cannot be my disciple. Whoever bears not his cross, and comes after me,
cannot be my disciple. For who of you, wishing to build a tower, does
not sit down first to count the cost, whether he has the means to finish
it ? Lest haply, after he has laid the foundation, and not being able to
finish it, all who see it begin to mock him, saying, This man began to build,
and was not able to finish. Or what king, going to war against another
king, sits not down first to consult whether he is able with ten thousand
to meet liim that comes against him with twenty thousand? And if not,
he being yet afar off, he sends an embassy and asks for peace. So like-
wise every one of you who forsakes not all that he has cannot be my dis-
ciple. Now, salt is good, but if the salt become insipid, with what shall
it be seasoned ? It is fit neither for the land nor for manure : they cast it out.
He that hath ears to hear, let him hear."

This was a sifting speech. It taught them that it was no holi-
day amusement to be his disciple, but that it involved a subordi-
nation of all the passions to their consecration to him. In using
the cross as the symbol of self-denial, Jesus seems again to have
given prophetic intimation of his death; but in the minds of tho
disciples there could have been no such connection. Internally
the erection of a Christian character is like the erection of any



Publicans and
sinners. Lukexv.

other great structure ; a man must lay his plan, lie must study to
know what is necessary to execute it, and he must assure himself
that he has the requisite resources. The conflict of Christian life
is like any other war. One must consider the opposition, and
how and with what he is to meet it. These illustrations mean
only to impress the necessity of entering on discipleship with am-
plest determination to go forward to complete success.

Then crowds of publicans and sinners drew near to hear him.
Luke says, " all the publicans and sinners." He received them
kindly, and taught them the ways of the kingdom
of the heavens. This gave the Pharisees occasion
to murmur. They said, " This man receives sin-
ners and eats with them." In reply Jesus delivered those three
parables of surpassing beauty which were to illustrate his favorite
proposition, that the Son of Man had come to seek and to save
that which was actually lost. They ought to be read consecutively
without break, and so we give them.

" What man of you, having a hundred sheep, and having lost one of them,

does not leave the ninety and nine in the desert and go after the lost one until

he find it ? And when he has found it, he lays it on his

.,, ... .-, . . , ., , i ii The Parable of the

shoulders, reioicing. And coming into the house he calls T . „.

> J r> ° Lost Sheep.

together his friends and neighbors, saying to them, Rejoice
with me, for I have found my sheep which was lost. I say to you, that like-
wise joy shall be in heaven over one sinner that repents, more than over ninety
and nine just persons who have no need of repentance.

"Or what woman, having ten drachmae [140 cents], if she lose one drachma
[14 cents], does not Light a lamp, and sweep the house, and seek diligently till
she find it ?

■, , , The Parable of the

And when she T . „ .
Lost Com.

has found it

Bhc calls her friends and her
neighbors together, saying, Ke-
|oice with me. for I have found
the drachma which I lost. Like-
wise I Bay to yon, there is joy in
tli • presence of the angels of God
oi er "ii" Burner who repents."

•■ A certain man had two sons. And the younger of them said to his father,
'Give me the portion of goods thai falls to me.' Ami he divided between
them the means of living. And not many days after, the

' , . i i • • 'l' 1 "' Pnrnbta of th«

younger Bon, having gathered all together, took his journey ,.,„, L .,, s ,, n

into a fur country, and there wasted his Bubstance Living

profligately, And when he had Bpent all, there arose a mighty famine in thai



country ; and lie began to be in want. And he went and joined himself to one
of the citizens of that country; and he sent him into his fields to feed swine.
And he would fain have been filled with the pods that the* swine did eat:
and no one gave to him. And coming to himself, he said, 'How many hired
servants of my father have bread enough and to spare, and I am perishing
here with hunger ! I will arise and go to my father, and will say to him,
Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you; I am no more worthy
to be called your son : make me as one of your hired servants.' And he arose
and came to his father. But when he was yet a great way off his father saw
him, and was moved with compassion, and ran, and fell on his neck, and
kissed him. And the son said to him, 'Father, I have sinned against heaven
and in your sight. I am no more worthy to be called your son ; make me as
one of your hired servants.' But the father said to his slaves, ' Bring forth
quickly the best robe, and put it on him ; and put a ring on his hand, and san-
dals on his feet. And bring hither the fatted calf, and kill it ; and let us eat
and be merry. For this my son was dead and is alive again ; he was lost and
is found.' They began to be merry. Now his elder son was in a field: and
as he came and drew nigh to the house, he heard music and dancing. And
having called one of the servants, he asked what these things meant. And lie
said to him, ' Your brother is come : and your father has killed the fatted calf,
because he has received him safe and sound.' And he was angry, and would
not go in ; but his father coming out entreated him. And he, answering, said
to his father, ' Lo, these many years do I serve you, and never did I transgress
your command; and you never gave me a kid that I might make merry with
my friends. But when this your son lias come, who has devoured your means
ot living with harlots, you have killed for him the fatted calf.' And he said
to him, ' Child, you are always witli me, and all that I have is yours. But it
was needful to make merry and be glad, for this your brother was dead, and
is alive ; he was lost, and is found.' "

The connection and the climax in this series of parables must
be noticed. They indicate a regular discourse rather than a col-
lection of sayings. Ownership, in some sense, is the connecting
thought. A lifeless coin, a living domestic animal, a son ; this is
the climax. If the order which Luke gives was observed in the
address, then it would logically seem thus : The recovery of a lost
animal is a cause of rejoicing, — nay, even the recovery of a coin,
— how much more the recovery of a son. Men are represented at-
the sons of God, and all sinful. Sinners are of two classes, — prod-
igal sinners and puritan sinners, — those who gravitate toward the
condition of outlaws and those who gravitate towards the condi-
tion of sneaks. In some particulars the prodigal is worse than
the elder brother, in many others the elder brother is worse than
the prodigal. The yearning love of the father draws the wan-



derer home ; the goodness of the father bears with the son who is
a hypocrite. In any case, when a human being is lost, God in the
loser. This pats the appeal to every human heart on a higher
plane than mere selfish taking care of one's self.*
Then followed this parable : — ■

" There was a certain rich man that had a steward ; and he was accused to
him of wasting his property. And calling him, he said to him, 'What is
this which I hear of you? Render an account of your

n , . j. , , i i a n Parable of the Unjust

stewardship: for you can be no longer a steward. And „. , T .

1 ' ° Steward. Luke xvi.

the steward said within himself, 'What shall I do, because

my lord takes the stewardship away from me? lam not strong enough to
dig; I am ashamed to beg. I know what I will do, that when I am put out
of the stewardship they may receive me into their houses.' And calling
each one of his lord's debtors, he said to the first, 'How much do you owe
my lord?' And he said, 'A hundred baths (866 gallons) of- oil.' And he
said to him, 'Take your bill, and sit down quickly, and write fifty.' Then lie
gaid to another, 'And how much do you owe?' And he said, 'A hundred
cors (1109 bushels) of wheat.' And he said to him, 'Take your bill and
write eighty.' And the lord praised the unjust steward, because he did pru-
dently;! for the children of this life are more prudent for their generation
than the children of light.

"And I tell you, Make for yourselves friends of the riches of injustice,
that when it fails they may receive you into the enduring tabernacles. lie
that is faithful in the least is faithful also in much. If, therefore, you have
not been faithful in the unjust riches, who will commit to you the true '. And
if you have not been faithful in another's, who will give you yours? No
domestic can serve two masters; for he will cither hate the first and love the
other, or he will adhere to the first and despise the. other. You cannot serve
God and Mammon."

Perhaps we shall simplify the difficulties which many have
found in this parable by learning to whom it was addressed and

what it was intended to teach. It was not ad-
dressed to the Scribes and Pharisees, but, as Luke

Meaning of the

expressly .-ays, "to his disciples.'' It was in-
tended to teach prudence in the management of a man's spiritual
affairs. The ordinary lack of this prudence lie make- the more
conspicuous by contrasting it with the prudence of men who are

* See these ideas enlarged in my pub-
lished sormons, entitled The Puritan

Sinner and Lost.

f ThissiTins tin' vrv best t nmslation
of the original word. It was u-ed in

Wii'hf's translation, but unfortunately
tanged in the common rendon.
There may i»- prodenoe without wis-
dom, for p ndenoa is often a rascally


absorbed in worldly matters. Here was a steward to whom waa
committed the affairs of his rieh employer. The bonds made by
that steward, who seems to have had a power of attorney, would
bind the master. He, moreover, lent the money of the master,
and took obligations therefor. He became wasteful. Upon
learning this the employer expostulated with him indignantly,
and ordered him to settle up his affairs. This gave him time to
think. But he did not delay. He went from bad to worse, lie
now resolved to rob his master. Calling the debtors together, he
made a swift arrangement with them. They were not poor ten-
ants, but rich neighbors in large business themselves, or else they
could not have been trusted with such amounts of such costly ar-
ticles as oil and wheat. He handed back their bonds, and received
in return bonds for a much less sum. They were thus laid under
great pecuniary obligation to this steward. They did not know
that he was about to lose his place ; but he did. So when he was
discharged he had ground of an appeal to them. When his em-
ployer discovered what had been done, he complimented the
shrewdness of a man who had been most dishonest towards him.
It was only the forecast, not the dishonesty, that was praised.

Jesus used the parable to teach his disciples prudence in regard
to the future of their souls. A great difficulty exists in the say-
ing of Jesus : " Make for yourselves friends of

Fnends of the t i ie mammon of injustice, that when it fails they
Mammon of un- . . , , ■, , . , , , „

. , , may receive you into the enduring; tabernacles,
righteousness. J J »

Money is represented under the name Mammon,
and it has been said that this was the name of the Syrian god of
wealth, as Plutus was in the Greek mythology. But no proof has
been discovered of such a fact. It is called "Unjust Mammon,"
or "the Mammon of Injustice," as riches are ordinarily, not
always, acquired in a sinful way, or used for purposes of injus-
tice, or are in themselves delusive. The dealing with large wealth
usually leads to some wrong-doing ; and, as Meyer says, " the
ethical character of its use is represented as cleaving to itself "
in this phrase in the parable. But riches can be used so as to
secure permanent spiritual blessings. The disciple of Jesus who
does not so use it is not as prudent as the unjust steward. Gen-
erally his disciples do not; and therefore Jesus says that "the
children of this life are more prudent for their generation than
the children of light " are for the world beyond.


The Pharisees, who were covetous, heard all these things and
derided him. To them he addressed the following parable :

" There was a certain rich man, and he was clothed in purple and fine linen,
and feasted sumptuously every day. And a certain poor man by the name 01
Lazarus was laid at his gate, afflicted with ulcers, and de-
siring to be fed with the crumbs which fell from the rich Ll,kc xvi - 1>ara bi8

,.,, ,, i -iT-1-i-i.i of the Rich Man and

man s table ; yet even the dogs came and licked Ins ulcers. Lazarus

And the poor man died, and was carried away by the

angels to Abraham's bosom. And the rich man also died, and was buried ;

and in the under-world he lifted U2> his eyes, being in torments, and saw

Abraham from afar, and Lazarus in his bosom. And he called and said,

' Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his

finger in water and cool my tongue; for I am in pain in this flame.'

"But Abraham said, ' Son, remember that you received your good things in
your life, and Lazarus in bke manner evil things; but now he is comforted
here, and you are in pain. And besides all this, there is a great chasm fixed
between us and you, so that those wishing to pass hence to you cannot, neither
can they pass thence to us.' And he said, ' I beseech you, then, father, send
him to my father's house, for I have five .brothers, to testify fully to them,
that they may not also come to this place of torment.' But Abraham said,
'They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them.' But he said,
'No, father Abraham, but if one went to them from the dead they would
change their minds.' But he said to him, ' If they hear not Moses and the
prophets, they would not be persuaded if one rose from the dead.' "

This parable is not intended to be a revelation of the outward

condition of individual souls in the spiritual world. Jesus takes

the imagery of Jewish and Gentile mythology as

the mere drapery for the teaching of most impor- n enUon ° e

1 J ° , parable,

taut moral lessons. "Abraham's bosom is a

metaphor for a place of permanent rest in communion with tho
good. The whole parable is a short and striking drama, convey-
ing most solemn and impressive lessons. The main lesson is
the ruinousness of unbelief in a spiritual world, an unbelief
which renders men selfish in this world, and engrossed with this
world, so that they may be covetous as the Pharisees were, or self-
indulgent as the rich man in the parable was. The Pharisees, so
Ear from being clothed in purple and tine linen, were remarkably
abstemious in diet and modest in dress. But penurionsness and
prodigality are opposite sins, growing from the trunk of worldli-
ii*- — , thai is, overestimate of the value of what addresses the
senses, the one finding its pleasure in hoarding and the other iu


squandering, — and thus worldliness grows from the root of unbe-
lief in a spiritual world.

In the strv two persons are represented as being in extremely

opposite conditions. One was rich, the other a beggar. One was

clothed in byssus, a linen which was sold in the

Two men in this t[mQ yf j csl]g foj . jtg we i ght iu g^ all( j [ n gar .

ments colored with the most costly dyes. The
other did not have clothes enough to cover his sores. The one had
a mansion with a gate; the other was homeless, and laid about
at people's doors, probably by those who desired to be rid of him.
In comparison with the splendid condition of the one who fared
Bumptuously "every day," was the fact that the other waited to
catch the crumbs which the servants of the former would throw
to the beggars and the dogs. These latter, such wretched dogs as
prowl in Oriental cities, added to the humiliation of the beggar
by being his only attendants, licking his sores, and thus making a
contrast with the unfeeling human brother. The beggar was
named Lazarus in the story. Perhaps it was suggested by the
name of the friend of Jesus, whom he was soon to raise from the

That men may know that condition is nothing and character
everything, Jesus transfers the scene to the under-world. Lazarus
dies. He has no funeral. But after death he is happy. Angels
escort him to the society of the good and blessed. The rich man

dies. His funeral is a pomp. But he is wretched

The same men j n the under-world. He sees Abraham and Lazarus.

spirits. -^ e cnes to tnem f° r help. He had found his

pleasure in physical delights. II is misery is the
want of them. He does not deplore his unbelief, but wants his
tongue cool. He is a churchman even in the under- world. lie
claims Abraham as his father. Abraham acknowledges the rela-
tionship, calling him "son," but showing him that that is of no
avail to a Jew whose character is ruined by unbelief. The rich
man's ideas of caste do not desert him in the under-world, lie
dors not presume to ask "Father Abraham" to bring him a
drink, but he requests him to send that beggar Lazarus to wait
on him. The whole story teaches that in this world, or any
other, a man is himself; that death does not destroy his identity.
The same prejudices and passions a man has here he has hero-


Prayers to departed saints do not seem helpful. Abraham
could not help the rich man. There is as great a gulf in the spir-
itual world as in this. Men cannot cross and re-

, ir ,1 T ii4.ii Prayers to saints,

cross the Line at pleasure. Lazarus could not help

the rich man if he would. The rich man had not been specially
vicious, may have done many things which he ought to have
done, and for that he had received his "good things " in tin's life.
Lazarus was not perfect, and had done many things which lie
ought not to have done, and he had received his "evil things" in
this life. But the great distinction between them was that Laza-
rus had built his character on a sure faith in the surpassing im-
portance of the spiritual world, and the rich man had erected his
on faith in the surpassing importance of the material world.
And this difference is immense.

The forlorn wretch would seem to have been anxious to prolong
the conversation, lie remembered his brothere; hut the way he
speaks of them leaves us at a loss whether he was more concerned
for them or more disposed to arraign God's providence, lie desires
the dead Lazarus to be senl on an errand for him, ami to warn
his brothers by telling them that there was a spiritual world.
This means th;i t if God had given him sufficient warning he would
not have gone info that torment. The reply of Abraham is stem,
and by it Jesus gives a powerful lesson for all time. God knows
what kind and amount of evidence is necessary to convince those
who will be convinced, and he has given it. He knows that no
amount of any kind of evidence will convince those who do not
choose to know the truth. The appearance of one froin the dead

would not he inori uvincing than the Hop Scriptures. Ami it

mn-! he uoticed that almost immediately after this he raised Laz-
arus from the grave. A man who had been loin- days dead came
hark, ami had do iim-iv influence upon the unbelieving dews than
Jesus had, or the writings of Mose

There may have been, many Buppose there was, in this parable
ale - !i for nations the rich man representing the Jews and I
arus the Gentiles. The spiritual contrast, as to privileges, ie :i-
greal in one case a- in another. The Gentiles bIuiII become the
children of Abraham by faith, while the Jews Bhall be casl out
Perhaps ho did mean that also, bul it is not quite apparent,
we have eriven above what wo think the clcar-si

Online LibraryCharles F. (Charles Force) DeemsWho was Jesus? → online text (page 49 of 77)