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We may therefore well believe that after this parable had been uttered the authorities endeavored to lay hold of Jesus, and were only restrained from instantly taking active measures because they feared a rising of the people who held Jesus for a prophet, or at least apprehended a violent resistance on the part of his followers. They were only restrained for the moment! Jesus had not spoken of the murderous thoughts of the husbandmen without good cause.
His sentence was already as good as passed.
According to the first two Gospels it was on Thursday evening, the twelfth of Nisan, two nights and days before the Passover began, that a meeting of members of the Sanhedrim was held at the house of the High Priest Caiaphas, to consider how best to get hold of the Nazarene and make away with him. It was determined, in the first place, not to seize him publicly, but to snatch him away in secret; and, in the second place, to wait till the festival was over, for if any thing were attempted during the excitement of the feast, it might give rise to disturbances of which it was impossible to foresee the issue. This would defer all active measures for a full week; but Jesus would probably remain in Jerusalem as long as that, and if he did not he could be pursued. By that time the strangers, including the Galilæans, would be gone, and most of the followers of Jesus with them. Any who might still remain would be too few in number to be formidable, especially when once the feast was well orer; and as to the people of Jerusalem, they had remained throughout either hostile or indifferent to the Galilæan leader, and caused his enemies no uneasiness whatever.
To this it must inevitably come. The parable of the husbandmen was hard upon its fulfilment. The conflict was at an end, - and the end was what Jesus had expected.
JESUS AMONG FRIENDS.
Loke XXI. 1-4, XVI. 1-9, 11, 12, 14; MATTHEW X. 41, 42, 16-23,
XXIII. 8-12, 31-39, XXI. 18-20, XXIV. 1-3 tf., 42-51, XXV. 1-13, XXVI. 1, 2, 6-13.1
ITHERTO we have seen Jesus at Jerusalem almost exclusively confronted with his enemies.
But now that we have traced the progress and the close of the decisive conflict which he had to wage, we must return upon our steps a little to prevent or rectify what would be the great mistake of supposing that during the closing weeks of his life he had had nothing but intensely painful encounters, had been exclusively busied with controversies and denunciations. We must think of him really as spending a great portion of his time amid more congenial surroundings and in happier labors, under the hospitable roof at Bethany, with new-made friends in Jerusalem itself,” walking at morn or even with the Twelve (sometimes accompanied by other faithful followers), or moving in the larger circle of his adherents. We know, on the best authority, that very soon after the death of Jesus a band of no less than five hundred persons faithfully attached to him were found together, probably in Galilee; and very nearly all of these would certainly be at Jerusalem just now.
We may take for granted not only that Jesus was frequently alone with his friends, but that from time to time he addressed himself exclusively to them, even when strangers were present in greater or smaller numbers. An instance of what I mean is furnished by the following touching scene, which also serves to show how carefully Jesus continued the moral education of his disciples to the very last.
Once he had gone with his friends through the outer court, up the fourteen steps of the higher terrace, and through the magnificent gate of Nicanor, to seat himself beneath the colonnade. The Jewish women were not allowed to penetrate further than this into the sacred enclosure ; and this part of the
1 Mark xii. 41-44, ix. 41, xiii. 9-13, xi. 12-14, 20, 21, xiii. 1-4 ff., 33–37, xiv. 3-9; Luke x. 3, xxi. 12-19, xi. 49-51, xiii. 34, 35, xxi. 5-7 ff., xvii. 22 ff., xii. 35-48. ? See
81 Corinthians xv. 6.
Court of the People was therefore usually known as the Court of the Women, although it was frequented by Israelites of hoth sexes, and was sometimes even used for popular assemblies. Here, too, was the treasure-house, with its thirteen brazen funnels shaped like trumpets, ready to receive the freewill or the stated offerings to God; that is to say, the contributions in support of the various branches of the temple service. In this last century the temple treasure often rose to an enormous sum. Here Jesus, always the same keen observer, sat and watched the people dropping their contributions into the money-boxes. Most of the coins were copper; but now and then a richer worshipper would throw in gold or silver, not without an air of pompous satisfaction with himself. Then came a woman, thinly clad in widow's weeds, and timidly stretched out her hand to drop two little coins into the box, that together made one farthing. Was she pushed aside to make room for others with richer offerings? Did Jesus trace a smile upon some face that seemed to say, “ She need hardly have troubled herself to come here with a farthing”? At any rate, the disciples had observed her, and understood their Master when he cried in deep emotion, “ I tell you, that poor widow has given more than all of them; for they have given from their abundance, but she in her penury has thrown in, it may be, all that she had.”
Jesus did not simply mean that real goodness only exists where some self-sacrifice is involved, but above all he intended to enforce the pervading principle of his life and thought; namely, the value of small things and of “ the little ones.” His disciples, like all of us, were led away by outward appearances and needed this lesson constantly, and now perhaps more than ever. 1 On another occasion he reminded them in the same spirit that every service done for God, though so small that no one notices it, is yet observed by Him, and will not want its recompense.
" Whoever receives a prophet into his home because he is a prophet shall receive a prophet's reward when the kingdom comes; and whoever receives a virtuous man because he is a virtuous man shall receive a virtuous man's reward. And if any one gives so inuch as a cup of cold water to one of my humblest disciples because he is a disciple, not even he shall lose his reward.” 2
Nor did he forget to repeat his exhortations to humility and simplicity, 8 if we may judge by the following words adi See p. 342.
2 See p. 167. 3 See p. 352.
dressed to his disciples. They appear in connection with his exposure of the vanity and love of honor display d by the Pharisaic Scribes. 1 "Never allow people to call you Rabbi, for you have one teacher and you are all brothers. And call no one on earth your father, for you have one Father (who is in heaven]. And let no one call
you leaders, for
you have one leader (the Christ]. But the greatest among you shall be your servant. Whoever exalts himself shall be humbled, al 1 whoever humbles himself shall be exalted."
And moreover, in contemplation of the probable issue of the struggle, Jesus availed himself of the interval that still remained to prepare his followers in general, but especially the Twelve, for the task that awaited them when he was gone. With this view he diligently instructed them, and exhorted them to labor zealously and faithfully for the kingdom of God. Here we should be inclined to place many a charge to spread the gospel of the kingdom without fear of men; many an exhortation cheerfully to endure the fiercest violence of opposition, which we have already given. Some of his sayings unmistakably proclaim themselves as having been uttered at Jerusalem. Among these is one of undoubted authenticity, preserved in an early Christian work and by the ecclesiastical Fathers, though not to be found in the New Testament: • Make yourselves tried money-changers !” In Jerusalem Jesus had watched the money-changers at their tables, and had observed their knowledge of different coinages, their quickness, their assiduity, and their great profits. In Galilee he had borrowed images from the work of fishermen and peasants, and now he made the trade of money-changing illustrate the work of the kingdom of God. “Make your eyes as quick as theirs," he would say, "to distinguish instantly between the false and true; be as rapid and unwearied in adapting yourselves to each one's requirements, and make your profits as large, - but more honorable.” It was a similar thought that he worked out in the parable of the talents which we have already examined, though it properly belongs to the period we are now considering.
The third Gospel further puts into the mouth of Jesus several sayings and one elaborate story borrowed from money transactions, but very different in scope and purpose from the others, as we shall see at once. The story runs as follows:
i See p. 385.
2 Compare vol. i. p. 455.
Once there was a rich man who had an agent or steward. In those days such a post was one of greatest trust, and con. ferred the widest discretionary powers upon him who held it, for, indeed, he was almost irresponsible in the exercise of his office. Now this steward was accused to his patron of run. ning through the estate by his extravagance, upon which the latter summoned him and said : What is this that I hear of you? Make up your books, for you must quit my service.” l'he man was at his wits' end. In a few days he would have given up his books, and would be turned penniless into the world. “What must I do,” he thought to himself, “ when dismissed from my master's service? I car not work in the fields, and shame forbids me to beg by the road-side.” A sudden thought occurred to him. "I know what to do! When I am dismissed there will be houses enough open to me!” He summoned his master's debtors, one by one, without loss of time. The first who came rented an olive-yard for which he was in arrears. - How much do you owe us?” asked the agent.
"A hundred casks of oil,” he answered timidly. “Fifty will do," replied the agent; “here is your acknowledgment of the debt. Sit down and change the figure to fifty ; but make haste!” Then came the second, a tenant farmer, who had not paid his rent for the current year. “Well, and what do you owe us?” he said, as he searched among his papers for the memorandum of the debt. “A hundred sacks of wheat,” he answered gloomily. “I will let you off twenty. There, take the memorandum back and fill it in for eighty.” And so he went on. The debtors who had come with such heavy hearts had nearly equal sums remitted to them in every case; and the agent, without exceeding the limits of the powers he still possessed, and without rendering himself liable to any legal proceedings, had earned the hearty gratitude of all the tenants. Even his patron, though his own interests had been sacrificed, could not help admiring the shrewdness with which his steward, at the last moment, had secured support and protection at the hands of those whom he had laid under such great obligations.
“For the children of this world,” continues the narrator, as he goes on to the application of the story, “are wiser and more sensible in their dealings with each other than the children of light, and might well serve as models of foresight and prudence to them. You, too, should make friends by means of that evil Mammon, that lucre to which so much unrighteousness adheres, that when you have lost it the friends it