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For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost.
Zaccheus had been reclining at the table with the rest, listening to the Lord's faithful and loving words. Now he rises and solemnly shows their powerful effect. He stood, not as that Pharisee in the parable, who boasted that he gave tithes of all that he possessed, but he humbled himself by voluntary confession and restitution; giving there and then, not putting off the intention to a time when it might cool down, or leaving it as a legacy in his will when the money would be of no more use,-but giving the half of his goods to the poor, for whom no provision was made. And,for without restitution is no repentance,-let any whom he may have wronged in the way of his business, by giving false information in respect to his dues, and so exacting more than was appointed,' let any such come forward and he will render him, not just a fifth part, which was what the Law commonly required in such cases; nor yet double,3 which was the utmost the Law under any circumstances of mere fraud could demand; but even fourfold, its highest penalty for what were accounted still graver crimes. His saying is included among the sentences at the Offertory, and his resolve to give the half of his goods may well be considered by richer men who refuse to restore even a tenth to God. That this was no vainglorious boast, but a sincere profession, which it must have cost him much to make, is plain from the Lord's language. How it must have cheered this true penitent to be told who this guest was that he had been entertaining unawares. No mere Jewish Rabbi, better than the rest, but the Saviour of the world. Now with old Simeon he might say, "Mine eyes have seen Thy salvation." Despised though he was by his fellow-countrymen, and regarded as an
1 St. Luke iii. 12, 13. 2 Num. v. 7.
3 Ex. xxii. 4.
Ex. xxxii. 1. "The expression seems to indicate that his gains had been comparatively innocent, in an occupation proverbial for extortion; else, how could he restore fourfold out
of the remainder ?"-Williams, quoted in A Plain Commentary. “Gifts to the poor, payments to the injured. There is liberality in the former; in the latter justice. In both the proportions are large: half to the poor, fourfold to the wronged."-Bp. Hall.
alien from the commonwealth of Israel, he is pronounced by the Messiah Himself to be a true son of Abraham. The Lord repeats that former saying' wherein He sets forth the purpose of His coming in the flesh, even to seek and to save those who, as Zacchaeus, had been lost in the love of money or lust of any other thing. "Often by reason of the crowd of worldly affairs, and on account of our spiritual lowness of stature, we cannot discern Christ; but there are sycomores planted in the road by which He will pass. He has given us the means of grace,-Prayer, Scripture, Sacraments. These are the trees which He has planted by the way-side of life." Through their shade is the Lord evermore discerned. by those that look for Him.
PARABLE OF THE POUNDS.
St. Luke xix. 11-14.
And as they heard these things, he added and spake a parable, because he was nigh to Jerusalem, and because they thought that the kingdom of God should immediately appear. He said therefore, A certain nobleman went into a far country to receive for himself a kingdom, and to return. And he called his ten servants, and delivered them ten pounds, and said unto them, Occupy till I come. But his citizens hated him, and sent a message after him, saying, We will not have this man to reign
Our Lord in this last progress to Jerusalem, for that final Passover in which He was Himself to be sacrificed for us, was accompanied by many besides the Twelve. All understood this journey to be undertaken for a special purpose. That purpose they presumed was to proclaim an earthly kingdom, to expel their Roman rulers, to exalt the Jewish nation; to do in fact what the Jews soon accused Him of St. Matt. xviii. 11. See also x. 6; xv. 24. 2 Bp. Wordsworth.
intending to do,' and yet, disappointed, rejected Him for not doing. Jericho was nigh unto Jerusalem, about fifteen miles off. They would not, so they supposed, have long to wait. In this Parable of the Pounds, as it is popularly called, the Lord seems to have in view first His own immediate disciples, and then the mixed multitude. There seems in it instruction for either. To the former He would teach "the need of a patient waiting for Christ," and " of an active working for Him during the time of His absence." The lesson for the latter we shall see presently. What this well-born man, this man of high birth, is represented as doing, is what Herod and his son Archelaus had in fact done. They had gone successively to Rome, whence they had received the kingdom which they assumed on their return. This groundwork therefore of the parable would be quite intelligible to the Jews; the picture so far being taken from the life. Ten of his servants' before their lord's departure received each a certain sum of money, with directions to turn it to good account, that he might receive something more than the principal on his return. His citizens however, as they virtually were, send a deputation to the court from which he expects to receive his title, protesting against the appointment. This is in fact what certain of the Jews did in the case of Archelaus before referred to. They sent ambassadors to Cæsar Augustus, the Roman emperor, to hinder if possible his promotion.10
1 St. Luke xxiii. 2.
2 Altogether distinct from the Parable of the Talents in St. Matt. xxv. 14 f.
3 Abp. Trench.
See the original word.
5 Josephus Antt. XIV. xiv. 4. Jericho too, as Alford notes, was appropriate enough for such a Parable;
Archelaus having built himself a palace in that place.
We are not to suppose he had no more than ten servants.
8 A mina is set down in Smith's Dict. of Antiquities (Table xii) at £4 18. 3d.
See the original word.
10 Josephus Antt. XVII. xi. 1, 2.
THE SAME SUBJECT—continued.
St. Luke xix. 15-28.
And it came to pass, that when he was returned, having received the kingdom, then he commanded these servants to be called unto him, to whom he had given the money, that he might know how much every man had gained by trading. Then came the first, saying, Lord, thy pound hath gained ten pounds. And he said unto him, Well, thou good servant: because thou hast been faithful in a very little, have thou authority over ten cities. And the second came, saying, Lord, thy pound hath gained five pounds. And he said likewise to him, Be thou also over five cities. And another came, saying, Lord, behold, here is thy pound, which I have kept laid up in a napkin: for I feared thee, because thou art an austere man: thou takest up that thou layedst not down, and reapest that thou didst not sow. And he saith unto him, Out of thine own mouth will I judge thee, thou wicked servant. Thou knewest that I was an austere man, taking up that I laid not down, and reaping that I did not sow: wherefore then gavest not thou my money into the bank, that at my coming I might have required mine own with usury? And he said unto them that stood by, Take from him the pound, and give it to him that hath ten pounds. (And they said unto him, Lord, he hath ten pounds.) For I say unto you, That unto every one which hath shall be given; and from him that hath not, even that he hath shall be taken away from him. But those mine enemies, which would not that I should reign over them, bring hither, and slay them before me. And when he had thus spoken, he went before, ascending up to Jerusalem.
On his return, having succeeded notwithstanding the opposition, the nobleman summons his servants to receive their accounts. The first, who has turned the silver1 intrusted to him to the very best account, states the fact of the
1 So in the original.
increase, modestly attributing it rather to what had been put into his hands (without which indeed he could have done nothing) than to any fidelity of his own. His lord however does not fail to give him that credit he had not claimed for himself; and he gives him a reward' to which his services bore no proportion beyond a proportion of number. "The rewards are royal."2 For what were ten minæ compared to ten cities? So too with the second, whose success however had been but half as much, in the same proportion. A wicked servant now comes forward, with the assurance of such, justifying himself, taking credit to himself that, though he had made no good use of it, he had not lost his master's money. But the consciousness of his misconduct now beginning to dawn upon him, he lays the blame of his indolence at his master's door, ascribing his inaction to fear, and overboldly asserting that any gains would not equitably have been his lord's; whom he unwarrantably likens to "one who should claim to reap the field which he has not sown, or to take up the pledge which he did not deposit."3 His lord however, giving him his true title, exposes the shallowness. of his excuses. Omitting all other arguments, he convicts him by the very thing alleged. Had he been such as his servant asserted, was not this a reason for all the more activity? Had he been able to do no more, he might at least have put the money into the bank, so as to bring some interest, instead of letting it lie idle in a napkin. And to the by-standers, who express surprise at reward heaped upon reward, He declares that law of His kingdom (which our Lord has before laid down 5) that, to him who has made a good use of what has been committed unto him, shall more be given; while from the slothful, even that original grace shall be taken away. And now turning to the rest, whom our Lord in His parable also had in view, He describes the doom which, long delayed, shall at length overtake those
See the words of investiture in the
2 Abp. Trench.
There is an interesting disserta
tion on interest or usury (which term however has acquired a bad meaning) in Dr. Macbride's Diatesseron, p. 533 ff.
5 St. Matt. xiii. 12.