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They took the money with evident discontent, and went at once to the master to complain : “ These last have only Forked one hour, and you have paid them as much as us who have borne the toil and the heat of the whole day!” But the master answered the spokesman with quiet dignity : “My friend, I have done you no wrong.
Did we not fix your Wages at a denarius?
Take it and go home. If I choose to give these last as much as you, have I not a right to do what I like with my own money? Why should my liberality offend
Matthew is the only Evangelist who gives this parable. He inserts it just after a conversation between Jesus and the Twelve that ends with the words, “. Many that are last shall be first, and first last;” and at the end of the parable he repeats the words in a slightly different form: “So the last shall be first, and the first last.” It is evident, therefore, that he inserted the parable here because he supposed it to be an elaboration of this saying. In other words, he understood both the parable and the aphorism to be directed against the Apostles, and especially Peter. Though they had followed Jesus from the very first, and had left every thing for his sake, yet they would have no advantage over the disciples who had joined him later, who were joining him now, who should join him in the future up to the last moment before the consummation of the kingdom of God. Nay, they might very possibly be ranked below them! But the parable is not correctly interpreted, nor is its true connection given here ; for it does not really refer to the disciples, nor does it deal like the aphorism with a case in which the last are put before the first, but with one in which all are made equal. What, then, is its true signification ? Herc, as elsewhere,' the vineyard typifies the preparation and the growth of the kingdom of God. The owner is God. The laborers summoned in the morning are the Jews; the others are “the nations.": In the envy of the first laborers Jesus rebukes the proud delusion of his countrymen that they, who had first arrived at a knowledge of God and of bis salvation, would take the first rank and be clothed with the highest dignity in the Messianic kingdom, while the heathen would only be admitted to subordiDate places, and their conversion in point of fact would only Burve to exalt the triumph of Israel. This national pride and
Isaiab v. 1; Matthew xxi. 28, 33 (Mark xii. 1; Luke xx. 9).
envy, says Jesus, God will put to shame. Thus understood, the parable speaks for itself, and we need only remark that there is no trace as yet of the later thought that the heathen would be put before the Jews, still less that the latter would be shut out altogether. All that is here asserted is the equal. ity of the two, which no one can help seeing follonıd di. rectly from the principles of Jesus, from his faith in God and his views of human nature.
The other story to which we referred speaks without metaphors; and in it, therefore, Jesus still more plainly rebukes the national and religious rancor of his countrymen. It is known as the parable of “ the Good Samaritan ;” and Luke, who is the only one that gives it, introduces it as follows:
On a certain day a Jewish lawyer came to Jesus, intending to entangle him in his own words, and said : “ Master! what must I do to inherit eternal life?” What could be more natural than to ask the preacher of the kingdom of God how one could be certain to gain admission into it? But Jesus saw his design; ani since the man had made a study of the Law, and was not so ignorant as to need instruction, he made him answer his own question. " What does the Law say?” he replied, “what does it require?” The lawyer answered immediately by citing a text from Deuteronomy, and another from Leviticus: “ Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy understanding; and thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.” His insight secured the unreserved approval of Jesus. " Well said !” he cried. “Do this and you shall live.” But the other, to show that he had not asked an idle question, said, “ Yes, but who is my neighbor?” Upon which Jesus began the following story, by way of answer:
An Israelite, on his way home from the City of the Temple, was travelling alone to Jericho. He had already passed Bethany some time, and was in the middle of the fearful desert, with its barren rocks and deep precipitous ravines, when he paid a heavy price for his rashness in making the dangerous journey through this inhospitable region without any escort or armed companions ; for a band of brigands leaped from behind the rocks, overpowered all resistance in a moment, hurled him from his mule to the ground, disarmed and stripped him to the skin. Then they left him heavily wounded, stretched bleeding and senseless on the ground, a certain prey to death unless speedy help arrived. He was not even able to cry for help, and indeed, in that dismal
wilderness, he would have had small chance of being heard at best. But see! a traveller from Jerusalem happens to come by that same way. He is a priest. He cannot fail to pass the man. He sees him lying there half dead, turns his ass to the other sie!" of the way, and hurries on. Terror sank into his very heari when he saw such a sight in such a place, and knew for certain that robbers must be near ! --- how could he stay to help the victiin? But not long afterwards the sound of hoofs might again be heard, and another traveller came by. His headl-dress proclaimed him a Levite; and, as he drew near and came to the place, he looked at the wounded man, and then hurried forward on the other side of the way. Like the priest, he shrank from exposing himself to danger for the poor chance of rescuing a man he had never seen before. Was all hope lost? Not yet; for another traveller drew near. It was no one who had been visiting the temple this time. It was a Samaritan. He was going on his ordinary business round, and was hurrying on his way when he saw the miserabile sufferer stretched upon the ground. He stayed his mule, and though he saw that the man was a Jew, yet his pity, once stirred, would not suffer hiin to leave him there. So he disznounted, knelt down by the wounded man to see if he was still alive, and when he found that he was, determined to run the risk! The ordinary equipment of a traveller enabled him to wipe and cleanse the wounds, and make a little salve out of wine and oil. So be dressed and bound up the wounds, and gently raised the man and placed him on his mule, which he led by the reins that its paces might be as smooth as possible. They were fortunate enough not to be surprised by the robbers again, and arrived in safety at an inn, where guests were received without distinction for a small payment, and at which the Samaritan was in the habit of staying. Ilere the wounded man was laid on a bed, and his friend provided him with every thing he needed, and stayed with him that evening and the following night. Then he was obliged to go on his way, and his patient already appeared to be out of danger. But he was determined not to do things by halves; so in the morning, when he was ready to start, he called the innkeeper and paid bim two denarii in advance on behalf of the Jew, for he had been robbed of all he possessed, and consequently rould not pay for himself. “ Take every possible care of him," said the Samaritan ; " and you need not be afraid of going beyond what I have deposited, for if you do I will pay the balance when next I come this way.” Then he continued his journey.
“Now which of these three,” said Jesus to the lawyer, “Priest, Levite, or Samaritan, should you say was a neighbor to the man who was attacked by the robbers?” There could be only one answer; but the lawyer could not bring himself to pronounce the hated word “ Samaritan” with commendation, so he answered, with some repugnance,
· The one that took pity on him.” “Do you go and do the same,' said Jesus ; and so the conversation ended. This was the practical solution of the abstract question, "Who is my neighbor?” Jesus compelled the haughty Jew to allow that the most despised and hated enemy of his people and his faith might be his neighbor, and then dismissed him with the exhortation to forget all differences of race and of religion, ana by showing true inercy to make himself the neighbor of others. Ask rather, “Who is not my neighbor?” Whoever helps you and loves you is your neighbor. Do you, then, in your turn, regard yourself as the neighbor of all, without distinction, whom you can help or bless.
This parable gives us no right to ascribe to Jesus the paradoxical opinion that “all men are our neighbors,” but it shows us very clearly that any one may be our neighbor, and that true humanity throws down all walls of partition between man and man.
But there are several considerations which justify us in questioning whether Luke gives us the parable in its true connection. In the first place, it fits in somewhat awkwardly with what precedes and follows, and the context has evidently been affected by another narrative. And, in the second place, the first two Gospels give a much more probable account of an interview between Jesus and a lawyer which Luke appears to have worked up in this passage. According to them the question is put in a much more definite form, and it is Jesus himself who joins the two texts together and gives them out as the essence of the Law.” Indeed, it is little short of absurd to ascribe to this Jew so profound and original a view of the question. We may, therefore, assume that the parable is out of place as Luke gives it, and that it was meant originally to show that true humanity and goodness raise even the most despised of heretics, even a Samaritan, above the most religious Jew, above the sacred persons of the priest or Levite. The parable shows small affection for the servants of the temple, and contains a severe rebuke of the Jewish spirit of exclusiveness.
1 Compare Luke x. 25, 26, with xviii. 18, 20 a.
In the preceding chapters we have seen repeatedly and in detail how bitterly Jesus was disappointed in his expectations of his people. Their absolute incapacity to receive his gospel became a ustantly clearer. But to the very last he went on loving his country as passionately as ever, and straining all his puwers to rescue it. Nor was his estimate of the religious privileges of Israel in any degree lowered. The very forms under which he spoke of the ideal future remained intensely Israelitish. Take this threat, for instance :
“I tell you that many shall come from the East and from the West, and shall lie down with Abraham and Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven. But the children of the king lom shall be cast into the darkness without. There shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth!'
Here Jesus is speaking of the great Messianic feast; and the names of those who occupy the chief places show that it is prepared especially for the Israelites. Accordingly the Israelites are clescribed as the children or heirs of the kingdom, — its intended or appointed subjects. Now Luke very properly assigns these words to a late period of the life of Jesus, and brings them into connection with a rebuke of Jewish pride; but since this expression, " children of the kingdom," as applied to the Jews was not at all to his taste, he omitted it. He gives the passage thus : “ There shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth when you see Abraham and Isaac and Jacob and all the prophets in the kingdom of God, and you yourselves are thrust out.” ? But even this was not enough for a certain sectarian editor of this Gospel, who pruned it in the second century of all expressions favorable to the Jews. He substituted all the righteous ” in this passage for the patriarchs and prophets. On the other hand, Matthew has preserved the words in the most original form, but he has inserted them in the middle of a miraculous story, and has quite wrongly assigned them to an early period in the career of Jesus, before he could have had all the mournful experience of his people which dictated such expressions, nay, at the very moment he was indirectly sounding the praise of Israel ! 8
Jesus constantly repeated this threat with ever-increasing emphasis, sometimes under the same imagery more elaborately worked out, and sometimes under other forms. The Israelites would be cut off by their own guilt from the salva1 Compare Revelation xix. 9.
2 Luke xiii. 28. 8 See pp. 398, 309.