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spirit and in truth. The effort of disciples to keep some little children away brought out the great truth that the kingdom of God belongs only to the childlike.

He Is Interested in Life, Not Theory.-Too often the interest of the church has been in doctrine for its own sake; to have correct beliefs was considered the most important matter in religion. Jesus cared for men and not for ideas. The truth that he cared about was truth that would make for life. That is why there are so many subjects about which he did not speak. His silence here means as much as his speech. When men brought him matters of dispute or curious theory, he always turned them to something vital. These men whom Pilate killed, they asked him, were they sinners above others? That is an idle question, says Jesus: here is something more important: If you do not repent, you will all likewise perish (Luke 13. 1-5).

He Sees Eternal Truth in Common Things.-Although Jesus' teaching is practical, it is not shallow; he deals with common needs and common duties, but he lifts them


to the plane of the eternal. It is the common life in which he is interested: how to love and help folks, how to be a good neighbor, how to have peace and joy. But he brings heaven itself down to light up these common things. He tells those that clothe the naked and visit the prisoner that they are doing it to the Christ himself. Loving your enemy, he says, is nothing less than being a son of the Most High God. And the peace that he gave men was to come because they saw God himself in their world and in all their life.

His Knowledge of Men.- And this teacher knew men; that was another secret of his power. He had not been brought up apart in some king's palace. He had lived the common life. He knew what hard work was. As the eldest son of a widowed mother, he knew what it meant to plan and provide. He knew the burdens and sorrows of common folks. He knew their sins: their shallowness and selfishness, their love of wealth, their pride, their worry. He knew the nobler part that was in them, the higher possibilities that lay buried under sin. He knew the man that might be, as well as the man that was, and his faith in the better man became a power in such men's lives. Other men, as well as he, saw Levi, the despised taxgatherer; he alone saw Matthew, the apostle and evangelist.

TEACHING BY PICTURES Its Value and Power.—Jesus' teaching was picture-teaching, and a large part of its simplicity and power lies here. Modern education knows the value of the appeal to the eye, and the “movies” show how popular such an appeal is. Nowhere is the picture more needed than in teaching spiritual truths. It holds the indifferent man, it convinces the unwilling, and it makes the simplest and dullest to see. And never was one who used pictures like Jesus. He took the familiar things of common life, bird and beast, grain and weed and flower, salt and seed and candle, men at work and children at play; but these common things he made to speak to men of all the high truths of heaven and earth.

We note the simplicity and clearness of the teaching. Men were afraid to trust God, he was so holy and so far off. Jesus took his picture from the most familiar experiences of life. He put that picture into one word, and into that word he packed a whole creed.

He bade men say, "Father," and in that word gave them a new faith. He found men burdened with anxiety and fear; he said, “Consider the lilies.” He saw them scrupulous about the rules of religion, but hard and selfish at heart; he said, "You must be children of your Father.”

” But simple as Jesus' teaching is, his phrases are crowded with meaning. Single phrases have whole sermons in them, driven home in unforgetable pictures. It was a customary form of Jewish teaching, as was the parable, but used by none other as by Jesus. These sermons in a phrase have become part of our common speech: a house divided against itself, wolves in sheep's clothing, counting the cost, grapes from thorns, whited sepulchers, the first shall be last, salt of the earth.

The Poetry of Jesus.—A separate lesson might well be given to the study of Jesus as poet. It was not, of course, the poetry of labored effort, but the speech of a soul that, itself filled with beauty as with truth, saw all things truly and spoke all things well. Not even the translation from Aramaic to Greek, and again from Greek to English, can hide from us this form. Jesus' parables are like pictures. There is perfect composition, no line out of place. There is the frugality of the artist; not a word can be spared, nor need another word be added. Each phrase, each picture, has a certain finality. We feel that this has been said once for all; hereafter we can only repeat. And so we do not wonder that these phrases have passed over into the common speech of all lands and ages.

Hebrew poetry did not use rime and did not depend upon meter as commonly with us. In this respect it was more like the modern vers libre. Its special mark is parallelism. Line is placed by line, sometimes repeating the thought, sometimes contrasting, but always so that these lines together form a whole. The psalms give the best examples. To this form of poetry the speech of Jesus rises again and again. Here, for example, is the close of the Sermon on the Mount. The parable forms two stanzas. In each of these, two longer lines state the theme, four short lines follow, with a long line in conclusion. The strong line that closes the first stanza is like the rock upon which the house rests; the last line of the second stanza is like the solemn tolling of a funeral bell. “Every one therefore that heareth these words of mine, and

doeth them, Shall be likened unto a wise man, who built his house upon

the rock:
And the rain descended,
And the floods came,
And the winds blew,
And beat

that house; And it fell not: for it was founded upon the rock. And every one that heareth these words of mine, and doeth


them not,


Shall be likened unto a foolish man, who built his house


the sand :
And the rain descended,
And the floods came,
And the winds blew,

And smote upon that house;
And it fell: and great was the fall thereof."

The Sermon on the Mount is rich in such passages. Note especially the beatitudes, and the whole passage about the single heart and the single trust (Matthew 6. 19-34). Here noble thought is fitted with speech as beautiful as it is simple, while over all is the atmosphere of Christ's own peace. The first half of Matthew 7 is entirely composed of passages cast in the Hebrew poetic form. In none of this is there the sign of labor. It is merely the beauty of form instinctively chosen for pure and noble thought.

THE PARABLES What is a Parable ?–Most of the pictures that we have spoken of so far are simple likenesses. The parable is another form of Jesus' picture-teaching, and one that demands special attention. The parable is an invented story, like the fable or the allegory. It differs from the fable in being a story that might naturally happen. The parables have no talking animals, for example, like the fables of Æsop. Even more important is the difference from the allegory. A parable, like an allegory, is a story used to prove or illustrate some spiritual meaning. In an allegory, however, like the Pilgrim's Progress, each figure and incident has its special meaning, and one must ask continually, what does this mean? and what is that? The parable, on the other hand, is an argument intended to prove one central point. Other points may suggest a comparison, but the real point of the parable is one.

Some Difficult Parables.—Many of the difficulties in the parables will disappear if we realize this, that they are arguments meant to prove one point. Here is the unrighteous steward (Luke 16. 1-12). Jesus does not commend his sharp practices. The parable has just one point: let the disciples be as efficient in the affairs of the Kingdom as this man was in his own selfish interest. There is just one point in the parable of the eleventh-hour laborers (Matthew 20. 1-16). We are not servants in a market place waiting to be hired. God is not a mere master dealing with his workmen. Nor does Jesus teach that men should get equal wages whether they work one hour or twelve. God is like the Lord of the vineyard in just one thing: he gives, and does not simply pay. He deals with men not after their desert, but according to his grace.

The Parable of the Forgiving Father.—None of the parables of Jesus is better known than that of the prodigal son. Its theme is that eternal one of a boy's waywardness and a father's love. It should be called the parable of the forgiving father. Jesus did not tell it in order to picture human sin and its consequence, though it does that wonderfully. The story is his argument in answer to the criticism of his foes (Luke 15. 1, 2, 11-24). They had criticized him bitterly for associating with the taxgatherers and other religious outcasts, or "sinners”; he was violating the law, overturning all order, and actually encouraging unrighteousness. So Jesus tells them the story of this father and his boy. Just where his

story was leading them his hearers probably did not see. But even the Pharisees must have been moved as they saw the old man, worn with his waiting, at last catch sight of the boy far down the road and run out to meet him. He forgets the boy's rags and filth and even his sin, nor does he mind what the neighbors say. He has won back his boy, and that is enough. God is like that, says Jesus. His rule is mercy and his joy is in winning back his wayward children.


Four Examples. Four of Jesus' stories usually classed with the parables may better be called examples. They are those of the good Samaritan, the Pharisee and publican in the temple, the foolish rich man, and Dives and Lazarus.

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