YES, HE is Talking to YOU! (continued)
Love is the Fulfilling of the Law
For the last several posts we have been discussing sayings and parables by Jesus that reflect on His views of righteousness, true humility and lack of pride, selflessness and self-forgetfulness and the motivation that causes one to perform any work in this world. We have discussed how that within righteousness is contained the fruit of the Spirit as defined by the Apostle Paul and how that Paul defines righteousness as equivalent to all goodness and Truth. Now there is no greater virtue that Truth as it is an aspect of God, as is Love, “for God is Love” (1 John 4:8) and God is Truth. Truth can be seen by us as what is in manifestation and can be seen in the words of the Master as the Holy Spirit in His saying: “But when the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, which proceedeth from the Father….” (John 15:26). The Master also tells us that righteousness is an attribute of God, something that He possesses, as we know from “But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness…” (Matthew 6:33). We also know, from the Master’s telling us, that God is all Goodness: “there is none good but one, that is, God” (Matthew 19:17). We could here divide up attributes and aspects of the Godhead but this is not necessary for our point which is that these are all things, ideas and virtues that God Is; God is Love, God is Truth, God is Righteousness, God is Goodness and it should be our life’s goal to be the same in the physical presence that we have on this Earth. Being part and parcel of the Lord we are already possessed of these same attributes and aspects in our Spirit and our Souls; these are our reality and they are not corruptible.
Just as the we can see that “…the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness and righteousness and truth” (Ephesians 5:9) we should be able to see that our words of true humility and lack of pride, selflessness and self-forgetfulness and the motives that cause our action can be found in the list that we have from Paul of these fruits: “…the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance” if we take the time to analyze and to look.
As we said earlier in this series of posts, righteousness is a word that is largely misunderstood, or better is largely misapplied, in the Christian world today. Many link it to the idea of works and believe that it is a gift of God that is imputed to us when we become believers in the Christ. This is nowhere found in the teachings of the Master who says that we should “seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness” (Matthew 6:33) and that we are blessed if we “hunger and thirst after righteousness“. He tells us that we should seek righteousness as we seek His Kingdom and that “except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 5:20). We will leave with a final note before we move on to our next parables and that is a definition for our use of this word righteousness. It is a combination of what we have found in some of our texts plus our own definitive ideas: righteousness is a state of mind and a state of being that becomes a way of action. It is something that is possessed of God and, as such, is possessed by us spiritually as we are in His likeness and His image. it is the character or quality of being right or just; it is rightwiseness; it is the state of him who is as he ought to be. It is nearly equivalent to holiness, comprehending holy principles and affections of heart, and conformity of life to the divine law6 2 1.
We begin today with another parable of Jesus called the Parable of the Two Sons:
“But what think ye? A certain man had two sons; and he came to the first, and said, Son, go work to day in my vineyard. He answered and said, I will not: but afterward he repented , and went. And he came to the second, and said like wise. And he answered and said, I go, sir: and went not. Whether of them twain did the will of his father? They say unto him, The first. Jesus saith unto them, Verily I say unto you, That the publicans and the harlots go into the kingdom of God before you. For John came unto you in the way of righteousness, and ye believed him not: but the publicans and the harlots believed him: and ye, when ye had seen it, repented not afterward, that ye might believe him”. (Matthew 21:28-32)
This seems to be one of the more straightforward of the parables that the Master tells us and on the surface the story is rather clear. What lies beneath this however is an important lesson for the church and especially for today, a time when so many think that they have found their salvation. The common idea from the commentators on this parable is the straightforward explanation that it is given against the scribes and the Pharisees. John Gill says that it is to show their hypocrisy and deceit in pretending to works of righteousness, and not doing them; and to reprove them for their disbelief and rejection of John’s ministry; and to make it appear, that the worst of sinners in the Jewish nation were preferable to them; and that many of them were, and would be, happy, when they would be miserable. He goes on to pit the refusing son at which answer fitly expresses the language and practice of openly profane and unregenerate sinners, who will not come to Christ, that they may have life; nor will they serve the Lord, but are bent upon indulging their lusts who repents and in whom a change of mind was wrought in him, and this produced a change of life and conversation: so, many of the publicans and sinners repented of their sins of disobedience, and rebellion against God, under the ministry of John the Baptist, Christ, and his apostles; not of themselves, men do not naturally see their sin, or need of repentance; their hearts are hard and obdurate; nor have they any spiritual sense and feeling: nothing will bring them to repentance, not the most powerful ministry, the severest judgments, or the kindest mercies, without the grace of God: but it was of God, and owing to his powerful and efficacious grace, that they repented: it was his will they should come to repentance: he called them to it, and gave it to them, as a free grace gift of his….8 we could go on here but we should get the idea of where this goes which is not necessarily where the Master intended it to go. This is the doctrine of the church and not the teaching of the Master. Other commentaries are similar or are more factual to the story outlining in different terms their ideas on the actions of the sons. Most all seem to miss the point that we will pick up on here.
Let us depart from the ideas put forth by most regarding the good and the evil in regard to the sons remembering that this is a parable of Jesus and therefore it should be understood from the perspective that what He said in not necessarily what He meant for us to take away from it. The Master’s caution to us who have the privilege of reading this from a book and not merely hearing it said before us should give us the greater understanding of His words regarding His parables. When He says that “Therefore speak I to them in parables: because they seeing see not; and hearing they hear not, neither do they understand” (Matthew 13:13) what is it that we think He means? He is talking through this story to a crowd of people and they must, or at least should, get this same surface meaning that we get regarding the Pharisees and we know that the Pharisees did get it because we are told that “And when the chief priests and Pharisees had heard his parables, they perceived that he spake of them” (Matthew 21:45). What did the rest of the people and the disciples think? we do not know as we are not told of this but we can assume that they heard a story of two sons and accepted it as it was presented; the one who said he would and did not is not so good as the son who said that he would no and then did. This is a good outcome for our moral life and for our understanding of life with God but is it what the Master intended that we take away from hearing or reading this parable?
In interpreting the Master’s parables we should know also that Jesus knows of and tells us of our resistance to His messages in His parables and sayings in saying that: “Therefore speak I to them in parables: because they seeing see not; and hearing they hear not, neither do they understand. And in them is fulfilled the prophecy of Esaias, which saith, By hearing ye shall hear, and shall not understand; and seeing ye shall see, and shall not perceive: For this people’s heart is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes they have closed; lest at any time they should see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and should understand with their heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them. But blessed are your eyes, for they see : and your ears, for they hear” (Matthew 13:13-16). We do repeat this message about the Masters parables frequently and this because He repeats it frequently as well and we should presume this is in an effort to get us to be among those of whom He says “blessed are your eyes, for they see : and your ears, for they hear“.
This parable can be seen about the human race in general and their relationship to the Father God for this is really the message of all that the Master tells us. He never deviates from the telling us of the importance of finding and living our spiritual lives in the Kingdom of God. Looking at this as mature and capable men and women around the world at ANY given time we can find that the Master is telling us that the Father is calling us to work, to His work, and that we, as sons in physical manifestation are or are not listening and then, that we are or are not heeding the call. This is in line with that idea that we discovered in the Gospel of John where the Master says: “No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him” which He repeats a few verses later after telling them all that they must eat His body and drink His blood saying: “Therefore said I unto you, that no man can come unto me, except it were given unto him of my Father” (John 6:44, 65).
So the Father calls His Son to work which is ever the process of this Life when we are even somewhat awakened to the idea that the reality of life is in the Spirit and not in the flesh. The Son, the Soul, the Christ Within, now takes up the charge and the Son then tries to get the attention of the conscious personality and control of the life through this personality. We need to remember that this is not a one time event as in the story but it is a constant happening in our lives; it is the very nature of moving our consciousness from the world of form to the world of God, His Kingdom. So we have some who hear this call and feel this prompting of the Son and immediately say yes to the Father but the lures of the flesh are too strong they fall back into the life of flesh. This is the simple everyday happening but there is a worse fate for those who say yes and don’t fall back but begin to act the part of doing the work of the Lord but in reality are just doing their own work. We have then the average person who says he will but cannot yet do it and we have the Pharisee type who says yes but continues to do those things of the flesh. Again we need to remember that there are infinite degrees of this and any other behavior; it is not black and white. It can range from the idea of cannot do it yet to the realm of those of whom Jesus cautions us elsewhere: “Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves” (Matthew 7:15). We thank God that for the most part this is not the case and that those of whom He speaks are well meaning people who just do not hear the deeper meaning or do not get the right ideas of the Lord’s work while they go about doing those things that please them. These are the double-minded of James or those trying to serve both God and mammon and this we know cannot be done.
What of the next son, the next group of people; those that do not heed the call of the Father? Remember that we need not look at this as a now or never proposition because it is not; it is a continual call to the spiritual life which, when we heed it, we become as the other son saying yes. And that is the point of the Master; we say no to the call of the Soul until such a time as we are done living the carnal life in the world of the flesh. We say no but then we repent and do the enter into a life where we will do the work of the Father. This is the same journey of man that we have seen in several parables and this is the Master’s teaching because THIS IS THE JOURNEY OF MAN. Prompted by to the call of the Soul which is awakened by the Life of the Spirit, the conscious personality eventually turns its attention to the Kingdom and the Presence of God. What is the contrast here between these sons? The one says yes but cannot carry the Life of the Spirit forward or does not because the lure of the flesh is such that its strength overwhelms the impulse. And, if he should be so inclined to follow the way of the Spirit we can have the ‘Pharisee’ scenario where it is show only and the man continues in a life for and of the carnal self. This does not say that all are like this but, by this story we should know that all CAN BE like this; including the son who says no and then repents to say yes. There is nothing stagnant in the teachings of the Master; all is fluid and in constant motion and the whole of the spiritual life is dependent on our first hearing, then heeding and then staying with the call of the Inner Man, the Christ Within.
Note on the Quote of the Day
This daily blog also has a Quote of the Day which may not be in any way related to the essay. Many of these will be from the Bible and some just prayers or meditations that may have an influence on you and are in line with the subject matter of this blog. As the quote will change daily and will not store with the post, it is repeated in this section with the book reference and comment.
And why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say ? (Luke 6:46)
This was our very first Quote of the Day and is one that has continual meaning in our spiritual lives; it never grows old and is appropriate to most every essay. It is especially well suited to this essay as we are all sons who should be heeding it. We do call Him Lord!
- 1 Websters Revised Unabridged Dictionary, 1828 and 1913
- 2New Testament Greek Lexicon on BibleStudyTools.com
- 6Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words, 1996
- 8 Bible commentaries on BibleStudyTools.com