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a ver. 1
b ver. 8
story of a good neighbour who gives in our need, but presents another aspect of the truth to which the Parable of the Good Samaritan had pointed. Love bends to our need: this is the objective manifestation of the Gospel. Need looks up to love, and by its cry elicits the boon which it seeks. And this is the subjective experience of the Gospel. The one underlies the story of the first Parable, the other that of the second.
Some such internal connection between the two Parables seems, indeed, indicated even by the loose manner in which this second Parable is strung to the request of some disciples to be taught what to pray. Like the Parable of the Good Samaritan,' it is typical, and its application would be the more felt, that it not only points to an exemplification, but appeals to every man's consciousness of what himself would do in certain circumstances. These are: A man has a friend who, long after nightfall, unexpectedly comes to him from a journey. He has nothing in the house, yet he must provide for his need, for hospitality demands it. Accordingly, though it be so late, he goes to his friend and neighbour to ask him for three loaves, stating the case. On the other hand, the friend so asked refuses, since, at that late hour, he has retired to bed with his children, and to grant his request would imply not only his own inconvenience, but the disturbing of the whole household. The main circumstances are: Sudden, unthought-of sense of imperative need, obliging to make what seems an unseasonable and unreasonable request, which, on the face of it, offers difficulties and has no claim upon compliance. It is, therefore, so to speak, not ordinary but extraordinary prayer, which is here referred to.
To return to the Parable: the question (abruptly broken off from the beginning of the Parable in ver. 5) is, what each of us would do in the circumstances just detailed. The answer is implied in what follows. It points to continued importunity, which would at last obtain what it needs. I tell you, even if he will not give him, rising up, because he is his friend, yet at least on account of his importunity, he will rise up and give him as many as he needeth.' This literal rendering will, it is hoped, remove some of the seeming difficulties of the Parable. It is a gross misunderstanding to describe it as presenting a mechanical view of prayer: as if it implied, either that God was unwilling to answer; or else, that prayer, otherwise unheard, would be answered merely for its importunity. It must be remembered, that he who is within is a friend, and that, under ordi1 dia ye, Goebel, ad loc.
THE PARABLE OF THE IMPORTUNATE NEIGHBOUR.
nary circumstances, he would at once have complied with the request. But, in this case, there were special difficulties, which are represented as very great: it is midnight; he has retired to bed, and with his children; the door is locked. And the lesson is, that where, for some reasons, there are, or seem, special difficulties to an answer to our prayers (it is very late, the door is no longer open, the children have already been gathered in), the importunity arising from the sense of our absolute need, and the knowledge that He is our Friend, and that He has bread, will ultimately prevail. The difficulty is not as to the giving, but as to the giving then-rising up,' and this is overcome by perseverance, so that (to return to the Parable), if he will not rise up because he is his friend, yet at least he will rise because of his importunity, and not only give him 'three' loaves, but, in general, as many as he needeth.'
So important is the teaching of this Parable, that Christ makes detailed application of it. In the circumstances described a man would persevere with his friend, and in the end succeed. And, similarly, the Lord bids us ask,' and that earnestly and believingly; seek,' and that energetically and instantly; 'knock,' and that intently and loudly. Ask-He is a Friend, and we shall receive;' seek,' it is there, and we shall find;' knock,'-our need is absolute, and it shall be opened to us. But the emphasis of the Parable and its lesson are in the 'every one.' Not only this or that, but every one, shall so experience it. The word points to the special difficulties that may be in the way of answer to prayer-the difficulties of the rising up,' which have been previously indicated in the Parable. These are met by perseverance which indicates the reality of our need (‘ask'), the reality of our belief that the supply is there ('seek'), and the intensity and energy of our spiritual longing (knock'). Such importunity applies to every one,' whoever he be, and whatever the circumstances which would seem to render his prayer specially difficult of answer. Though he feel that he has not and needs, he asks ;' though he have lost-time, opportunities, mercies-he 'seeks ;' though the door seem shut, he knocks.' Thus the Lord is helper to 'every one;' but, as for us, let us learn the lesson from what we ourselves would do in analogous circumstances.
Nay, more than this, God will not deceive by the appearance of what is not reality. He will even give the greatest gift. The Parabolic relation is now not that of friends, but of father and son. the son asks for bread, will the father give what seems such, but is only a stone? If he asks for a fish, will he tender him what
looks such, but is a serpent? If he seek an egg, will he hand to him what broods a scorpion? The need, the hunger, of the child will not, in answer to its prayer, receive at the Father's Hands, that which seems, but gives not the reality of satisfaction-rather is poison. Let us draw the inference.. Such is our conduct-how much more shall our heavenly Father give His Holy Spirit to them that ask Him. That gift will not disappoint by the appearance of what is not reality; it will not deceive either by the promise of what it does not give, or by giving what would prove fatal. As we follow Christ's teaching, we ask for the Holy Spirit; and the Holy Spirit, in leading us to Him, leads us into all truth, to all life, and to what satisfies all need.
THE THREE PARABLES OF WARNING.
THE THREE PARABLES OF WARNING: TO THE INDIVIDUAL,
ΤΟ THE NATION,
1 Cases might, however, arise when the claim was doubtful, and then the inheritance would be divided (Baba B. ix. 2). The double part of an eldest son was computed in the following manner. If five sons were left, the property was divided
(St. Luke xii. 13-21; xiii. 6-9; xiv. 16-24.)
THE three Parables, which successively follow in St. Luke's Gospel, may generally be designated as those of warning.' This holds specially true of the last two of them, which refer to the civil and the ecclesiastical polity of Israel. Each of the three Parables is set in a historical frame, having been spoken under circumstances which gave occasion for such illustration.
1. The Parable of the foolish rich man." It appears, that some one among them that listened to Jesus conceived the idea, that the authority of the Great Rabbi of Nazareth might be used for his own selfish purposes. Evidently, He had attracted and deeply moved multitudes, or His interposition would not have been sought; and, equally evidently, what He preached had made upon this man the impression, that he might possibly enlist Him as his champion. The presumptive evidence which it affords as regards the effect and the subject-matter of Christ's preaching is exceedingly interesting. On the other hand, Christ had not only no legal authority for interfering, but the Jewish law of inheritance was so clearly defined, and, we may add, so just, that if this person had had any just or good cause, there could have been no need for appealing to Jesus. It must, therefore, have been covetousness' which prompted itperhaps, a wish to have, besides his own share as a younger brother, half of that additional portion which, by law, came to the eldest son of the family. Such an attempt for covetous purposes to make Bechor.
viii. 2; Baba B. viii.
into six parts, and the eldest son had two
a St. Luke xii. 13-21
use of the pure unselfish preaching of love, and to derive profit from His spiritual influence, accounts for the severity with which Christ rejected the demand, although, as we judge, He would, under any circumstances, have refused to interfere in purely civil disputes, with which the established tribunals were sufficient to deal.
All this accounts for the immediate reference of our Lord to covetousness, the folly of which He showed by this almost selfevident principle, too often forgotten-that not in the superabounding to any one [not in that wherein he has more than enough] consisteth his life, from the things which he possesseth." In other words, that part of the things which a man possesseth by which his life is sustained, consists not in what is superabundant; his life is sustained by that which he needs and uses; the rest, the superabundance, forms no part of his life, and may, perhaps, never be of use to him. Why, then, be covetous, or long for more than we need? And this folly also involves danger. For, the love of these things will engross mind and heart, and care about them will drive out higher thoughts and aims. The moral as regarded the Kingdom of God, and the warning not to lose it for thought of what 'perisheth with the using,' are obvious.
The Parable itself bears on all these points. It consists of two parts, of which the first shows the folly, the second the sin and danger, of that care for what is beyond our present need, which is the characteristic of covetousness. The rich man is surveying his land, which is bearing plentifully-evidently beyond its former yield, since the old provision for storing the corn appears no longer sufficient. It seems implied-or, we may at least conjecture-that this was not only due to the labour and care of the master, but that he had devoted to it his whole thought and energy. More than this, it seems as if, in the calculations which he now made, he looked into the future, and saw there progressive increase and riches. As yet, the harvest was not reaped; but he was already considering what to do, reckoning upon the riches that would come to him. And so he resolved to pull down the old, and build larger barns, where he would store his future possessions. From one aspect there would have been nothing wrong in an act of almost necessary foresight-only great folly in thinking, and speaking, and making plans, as if that were already absolutely his which might never come to him at all, which
this. Thus, the law did not apply to a
the father's death. For a brief summary, see Saalschütz, Mos. Recht, pp. 820 &c.
1 So literally.