PELLA, MARCH, AD 30
The parables of Jesus have gained popularity throughout Palestine. They are a unique teaching method, and each is designed to impart an important truth. Jesus enjoys telling three particular parables together, and their collective power seems to move those who hear them. The three are the Lost Sheep, the Lost Coin, and the Prodigal Son.
THE LOST SHEEP: There was a certain shepherd who had a hundred sheep. Losing one, he left the ninety-nine to fetch it. And when the shepherd found the lost sheep, he tenderly carried it back to the fold. He rejoiced, and called forth his friends to join him in celebration. Jesus declares there is more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than there is over ninety-nine who need no repentance.
THE LOST COIN: A woman had a necklace of ten pieces of silver coin, and losing one, she set about to find it. She lit the lamp and swept the house and diligently searched until she discovered the missing piece, covered and obscured by dust. Jesus says that the Father and his Son go forth to find both the coin, covered by the accumulated things of men, and the sheep that wandered off unintentionally and is lost in the wilderness.
THE PRODIGAL SON: A father had two sons. One was lighthearted, yet lazy and shirked responsibility. The older son was responsible, serious, hardworking and yet conceited and joyless. The younger son requested his inheritance that he might go out in the world and seek his fortune.
The father granted the request and the young man went forth. He squandered his fortune in riotous living and was soon in want. The son found employment feeding swine, and became destitute and hungry. He decided to return home to work in his own father’s fields, where he knew he would receive a reasonable wage, saying, “I will arise, and return to my father.”
When the father saw him coming, he was overjoyed. The son repented of his deeds, and before he could ask for employment, his father called to his servants: “Bring on the fatted calf and kill it, and let us eat and make merry, for this my son was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found!”
But the older brother stayed away from the celebration, and when the father sought him, the brother said: “I have been faithful to you, I cared for you and never made merry. You never gave me even a kid to celebrate. But for your son who left you and wasted his inheritance on harlots, you bring forth the fatted calf and robes to celebrate his return.” And the father answered: “All that I had was yours while you stayed with me, and you could have had it at any time. But now, he who was lost is found, your brother has returned alive! Rejoice with us.” Jesus often pointed out that the prodigal son had deliberately left the fold, and then, contrite, he sought to find his way back. And the restoration to his father’s household was complete.
THE SHREWD STEWARD:
Another popular parable of Jesus concerned a shrewd and unjust steward who oppressed others for his own gain and squandered his master’s money. When the master discovered this, he notified him that he must prepare to turn over his stewardship to another. The unfaithful steward was afraid, and sought to acquire money for the bleak future ahead. He went to all the master’s debtors and reduced their debts dishonestly to earn their favor.
The master admitted that the steward at least had the sagacity to prepare for future days of want and adversity.
Some found this parable puzzling, since the avarice of the steward seemed to be rewarded. But Jesus made the point that they should lay their treasures in heaven, make eternal friends with the unseen forces of good even as those of the world make friends with the unrighteous. He said: “I affirm that he who is faithful in little will also be faithful in much, while he who is unrighteous in little will also be unrighteous in much ... And again I assert that no man can serve two masters; either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will hold to one while he despises the other. You cannot serve God and mammon.”
THE RICH MAN AND THE BEGGAR:
Peter likes to tell a parable he learned from John the Baptist, a story regarding Dives and Lazarus, the rich man and the beggar. Jesus will not comment upon this parable of Dives and Lazarus which depicts the afterlife and punishment in Hades. Experts have pointed out that Jesus has never mentioned Hades in his preaching. Further, it is noted that Jesus recommended parables be based upon true stories, not fables. Other experts say that the story of Dives and Lazarus reflects more of a vengeful God in contrast to the loving nature of the God of Jesus.
(Extract from Chronicle of the life and teachings of Jesus of Nazareth.
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