Warning against Hypocrisy and Covetousness. Luke 12, 1-21.

The leaven of the. Pharisees: V. 1. In the mean time, when there were gathered together an innumerable multitude of people, insomuch, that they trod one upon another, He began to say unto His disciples first of all, Beware ye of the leaven of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy. V. 2. For there is nothing covered that shall not be revealed, neither hid that shall not be known. V. 3. Therefore, whatsoever ye have spoken in darkness shall be heard in the light; and that which ye have spoken in the ear in closets shall be proclaimed upon the housetops. While the assaults of the Pharisees and scribes were going on, while they were attempting everything in their power to discredit Jesus and find some ground for accusing Him, the people, on the whole, came together to Him in greater multitudes than ever before, by the thousands, the largest gathering that had ever assembled about Him. So violently did they surge forward to come near the Lord that they literally trod one another down. Jesus, after His custom, took this opportunity to address the people on some subjects which were needful to them. His remarks were addressed chiefly to His disciples, but could easily be understood as far as His voice reached. The first topic of His discourse was that of hypocrisy. Note: The fact that many sayings of this chapter resemble, or are identical with, some of those in the Sermon on the Mount need cause no uneasiness. Jesus undoubtedly said many things which He wanted the people to know again and again, in order to impress it upon their minds. Here He warns His hearers to beware of the leaven of the Pharisees, which He explains as hypocrisy, while at other times He refers to their false doctrine, Matt. 16, 11. 12. Hypocrisy is like leaven; if it is given room in the heart, it begins to work and extend its influence, until finally the effects will show on the outside. A hypocrite may wear the mask of sanctity for some time and dissimulate before the eyes of men; but it will putrefy the heart and soul to such an extent that it may be revealed at a most unexpected time. For though a thing may be very carefully covered, it will come to light some time; and though it be hidden, it will be made known. The Lord now makes the application of the saying in a good sense. Instead of trying to cover up and hide their convictions, the believers in Christ should take note. They should not resort to whispering in secret, in darkness, in the inner chambers, with the object of keeping their Christian convictions from the knowledge of the people, for that is a species of hypocrisy, but should be open and fearless before all men about speaking the truth and proclaiming the Gospel. Note: The warning is needed also in our days, when church-members are going to the extent of hiding even their churchgoing from their neighbors and of removing every evidence of Christianity from their rooms, Bibles, prayer-books, religious pictures, and papers, lest some of their "friends" may smile in a pitying fashion over their time-worn superstitions! Such hypocrisy is tantamount to an open denial of Christ.

True fearlessness: V. 4. And I say unto you, My friends, Be not afraid of them that kill the body, and after that have no more that they can do. V. 5. But I will forewarn you whom ye shall fear: Fear Him which, after He hath killed, hath power to cast into hell; yea, I say unto you, Fear Him. V. 6. Are not five sparrows sold for two farthings? And not one of them is forgotten before God. V. 7. But even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not therefore; ye are of more value than many sparrows. As friends Jesus addresses His disciples, a title showing His love and trust in them, John 15, 14. They should have no fear of those that can injure and destroy the body, if God should so permit. Only one fear can and should live in their hearts, a deep-seated fear, an awe and reverence which is not afraid of the punishment, but stands in holy dread of Him that judges and condemns both soul and body to everlasting destruction. For this is not a mere human tempter, who tries to harm his neighbor's soul by leading him into sin, nor is it Satan, for he has no absolute power over body and soul. It is the great God, the divine Judge, Himself. Fear of human enemies, of their contempt and of their injury, implies lack of faith in Him, which may, in turn, lead to denial and thus to damnation. And again: Why fear? So little are sparrows valued by men that they were put up in packages of five or ten and sold on the market at the rate of five for two assaria, or less than a cent apiece; so insignificant is the loss of a single hair that it is not even noticed. And yet: Not a single one of these cheapest of birds is forgotten or neglected before God; all the hairs of our head are numbered by Him, and His accounts are always right. How foolish therefore is fear, since we have His assurance that we are preferred above many sparrows in His estimation.

Confessing Christ: V. 8. Also I say unto you, Whosoever shall confess Me before men, him shall the Son of Man also confess before the angels of God; v. 9. but he that denieth Me before men shall be denied before the angels of God. V. 10. And whosoever shall speak a word against the Son of Man, it shall be forgiven him; but unto him that blasphemeth against the Holy Ghost it shall not be forgiven. V. 11. And when they bring you unto the synagogs and unto magistrates and powers, take ye no thought how or what thing ye shall answer, or what ye shall say; v. 12. for the Holy Ghost shall teach you in the same hour what ye ought to say. In order to impress upon His disciples the necessity of an open and fearless confession, Jesus solemnly refers to the final judgment. A confession of Christ before men, an open proclamation of the truth and a steadfast defense of the truth, is demanded of every follower of Christ. By the grace, in the strength of Christ, we confess. And He will stand by us on the last day and confess us just as fully and much more cheerfully before the angels of God that will be present before the judgment throne. But if we deny Christ before men, we thereby prove that we have no faith in our heart. The denier of Christ will find himself denied and rejected just when he needs help and saving, on the Day of Judgment, before all the holy angels of God as witnesses. There is grave danger in denial, even in the present time, under the present conditions. For denial may result in blasphemy, of a kind spoken by the Pharisees that charged Jesus with being in league with Satan or Beelzebub. There may be such a thing as a lapse, a temporary speaking against the person of Jesus. That sin will readily find forgiveness if true repentance is found. But if one blasphemes against the Holy Ghost, against His work, then the sin, in its very nature, is outside of the pale of forgiveness. "To blaspheme the Holy Ghost means to hate and reject the Spirit of Truth wantonly, with full knowledge and will. Only such a person can do this as has felt the work of the Spirit in his heart and knows Him to be the Spirit of Truth. If any one, as a child of Satan, follows Satan in this, that he hates the Spirit who reproves him as a spirit of torture, and becomes an enemy and opponent of the truth witnessed by the Holy Ghost: such a person blasphemes the Holy Ghost, and this sin is unforgivable. The reason why it cannot be forgiven is not to be found in this, that the fountain of mercy in God's heart is stopped up, but rather in this, that the opening for repentance and faith in the heart of the sinner is stopped up." As for the disciples, however, let them feel no uneasiness and fear about their ability to defend their faith at the proper time. When their enemies would bring them before the council of their synagogs, before the rulers, and before other tribunals, it would be true indeed that they could not hope to dominate the situation by means of their own ability. The wisdom and skill of the world in oratory would be arrayed against them. But still they should not worry about their defense, for the Holy Ghost would teach them at that time and give such words into their mouths as would exactly fit the situation and tend to confound their enemies. Many a Christian has been surprised, when attacked by the enemies of Christ, at the easy flow of thoughts and words which came to him at such a time. If a person does not depend upon his own art and skill, the Lord Himself will guide his tongue in the defense of the great truths of the Bible.

Warning against avarice: V. 13. And one of the company said unto Him, Master, speak to my brother that he divide the inheritance with me. V. 14. And He said unto him, Man, who made Me a judge or a divider over you? V. 15. And He said unto them, Take heed, and beware of covetousness; for a man's life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth. While Jesus was addressing the multitude, there came an interruption. A man in the crowd asked Him to speak to his brother about dividing the inheritance with him, the brother apparently having found a way to evade the law, Deut. 21, 17. But Jesus, true to the principle that spiritual and temporal affairs should be kept strictly asunder, immediately shows that He was not in the least in sympathy with the man's object. He is neither a judge, to decide the case on its merits, nor is He an arbiter, to carry out any decision which He might be inclined to make. But the interruption gave Jesus occasion to draw a lesson for His entire audience and to warn them against covetousness. This is an insidious, a dangerous vice, coming upon a person with subtle wariness, and therefore to be guarded against with double care. And it is a foolish vice, for a man's life and happiness do not depend upon the great abundance of goods which he may call his own. A certain amount of food, clothing to protect against the inclemencies of the weather, and a roof against the elements, that is all that may be considered necessary for life. Whatever is beyond that entails additional care and responsibility, and will have to be accounted for most carefully on the day of the great reckoning.

The parable of the rich man: V. 16. And He spake a parable unto them, saying, The ground of a certain rich man brought forth plentifully; v. 17. and he thought within himself, saying, What shall I do because I have no room where to bestow my fruits? V. 18. And he said, This will I do: I will pull down my barns and build greater; and there will I bestow all my fruits and my goods. V. 19. And I will say to my soul, Soul, thou hast much goods laid up for many years; take thine ease, eat, drink, and be merry. V. 20. But God said unto him, Thou fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee; then whose shall those things be which thou hast provided? V. 21. So is he that layeth up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God. The foolishness of covetousness and of trusting in riches could not be brought out more emphatically than in this parable. A certain rich man's land had proved very fertile, it had yielded a bumper crop. This was God's blessing, as it always is in such cases. But the man evidently thought the surplus was his to deal with as he deemed best, since he intended to use it in his own service. And so he planned to save the big crop with its riches by building greater barns and granaries than he had, and then to store there all the fruit of his lands and all his other personal property. But this was not for the purpose of doing the work of his stewardship before God with greater faithfulness, but to have the enjoyment of all the riches for himself. His goods were his god; in them he trusted to bring him happiness and the fulfillment of all his desires. This man, like most rich men, made the mistake of considering the additional wealth an asset, whereas it was a liability. Every dollar that God blesses a person with beyond the actual needs of life for himself and his family is not an asset in God's sight, but a liability. The prayer of Agur, Prov. 30, 8. 9, is very necessary in our days when the love of money, covetousness, is stalking through the land, sowing dissatisfaction and strife in every station of life. But into the midst of these rosy meditations thundered the voice of God: Fool, man void of sense and understanding, in this night thy life is asked of thee. And the greater reckoning will follow. That which thou hast gathered, whose will it be? But even as foolish are all people that think only of gaining riches for themselves, the goods of this world, neglecting to seek the true wealth, the spiritual, heavenly gifts. "Total bankruptcy is the end of the covetous man. He is brought into judgment with his name lost, for before God he is a fool; with his soul lost, for that is required of him for eternal punishment; with the world lost, for that he must leave behind; with heaven lost, for he has neglected to deposit a capital in heaven." 71) "He that lives without God. will never enjoy a single penny, and will have no happiness of his goods, for he has a bad conscience, as the Scripture says Is. 57, 21.... These people have no heart towards God, therefore they are afraid of death every moment; they are not secure, neither within nor without; they fear that the house will burn down, that thieves will come and steal their money; there is no happy heart, no joy, no rest, neither by day nor by night." 72)

Of Trust in God and Preparation for Christ's Coming. Luke 12, 22-59.

Warnings against care: V. 22. And He said unto His disciples, Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life what ye shall eat; neither for the body what ye shall put on. V. 23. The life is more than meat, and the body is more than raiment. V. 24. Consider the ravens; for they neither sow nor reap; which neither have storehouse nor barn; and God feedeth them: how much more are ye better than the fowls? V. 25. And which of you with taking thought can add to his stature one cubit? V. 26. If ye, then, be not able to do that thing which is least, why take ye thought for the rest? There is a close connection between the warning spoken to the people in general and that addressed to the disciples in particular, for covetousness may have its root in care and worry for the matters of this earthly existence. God has given life to us, therefore He will also provide food to sustain it; He has given us our body, and therefore He will also provide the clothing to shelter it. He has given the greater, that which has more value in His sight, and therefore He may be trusted to take care of the smaller and less important also. The ravens, the birds of the air, are our examples for perfect trust in the providence of God. They neither sow nor reap; they have neither storehouse nor granary; and yet God takes care of them. So we should heed the lesson they teach. "There the birds fly past our eyes, with little honor to us, that we might well take off our hats to them and say: My dear doctor, I must confess that I do not understand the art which thou knowest. Thou sleepest through the night in thy nest, without care. In the morning thou arisest, art happy and joyful, sittest on a tree, singest, praisest, and thankest God; then thou seekest thy food and findest it. Why, what have I, for an old fool, learned that I do not act in the same way? If the little bird can desist from worrying and acts in such a case like a perfect saint, and yet has neither land nor barn, neither box nor cellar; it sings, praises God, rejoices, and is happy, for it knows that it has One that cares for us, whose name is Father in heaven: why, then, do we not also act thus, we that have the advantage that we can work, till the ground, gather the fruits, put them together, and keep them for the time of need? And yet we cannot omit the shameful worrying. Do as the birds do; learn to believe, sing, be happy, and let your heavenly Father care for you." 73) All the worrying of a person will also not succeed in doing what God can easily do, add a cubit to the stature. And if we cannot even do what seems so self-evident and simple according to the laws of nature, why should we worry about things which are entirely in God's hands, and which He has always taken care of for our welfare?

A lesson from the fields: V. 27. Consider the lilies, how they grow; they toil not, they spin not; and yet I say unto you that Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. V. 28. If, then, God so clothe the grass, which is to-day in the field, and tomorrow is cast into the oven, how much more will He clothe you, O ye of little faith? V. 29. And seek not ye what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink, neither be ye of doubtful mind. V. 30. For all these things do the nations of the world seek after; and your Father knoweth that ye have need of these things. V. 31. But rather seek ye the kingdom of God, and all these things shall be added unto you. The lilies of the field, with their velvety texture and their inimitably gorgeous colors, present the second object-lesson. For they do not ply the needle, neither do they spin or weave. And yet they are not only clothed, but their raiment is of such a kind that even rich King Solomon, with the almost fabulous riches at his disposal, could not compare with one of them in this respect. And Jesus goes even farther than this. Even the grass, that has little beauty to commend it to the average observer, uses better judgment. It blooms and flourishes in the field to-day, and to-morrow it is used as fuel for the ovens of the people. And yet it is clothed by God for the short space of its life; how much rather will God, then, give the necessary clothing to His children. "There stand flowers of every color, decorated in the most beautiful manner, that no emperor or king is equal to them in ornament. For all their ornament is a dead thing. But a flower has its color and. beauty, and is a natural, living thing. And it is not to be understood that it grows thus by chance. For if it were not God's special order and creation, it would never be possible that one be so much like the other, having the same color, leaves, number of petals, veins, indentations, and other measures. If God, then, uses such diligence in case of the grass, which exists only that it may be seen and that the cattle may eat it, is it not a sin and a shame that we still doubt whether God will actually provide clothing for us ?" 74) What foolishness, therefore, to be concerned about eating and drinking; to be full of hesitation and doubt, to look anxiously for help, like the mariner in a tempest-tossed vessel! These all are things which the people of the world, the heathen, make their prime concern; but as for you, the Father knows that ye need these things. Only one thing there is which should be the object of anxious search, that is the kingdom of God. To be a member of this kingdom, to have and keep true faith in the heart, through which such membership is insured, that is the one fact which should give every Christian his chief concern, on account of which he daily prays the Second Petition. All the other things that are necessary for the sustaining of life are added without worry or care, by the providence of God.

The little flock: V. 32. Fear not, little flock; for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the Kingdom. V. 33. Sell that ye have, and give alms; provide yourselves bags which wax not old, a treasure in the heavens that faileth. not, where no thief approacheth, neither moth corrupteth. V. 34. For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also. Only a little flock is that of the disciples in the midst of the great mass of the nations of the world; only a few, a mere handful, that are earnestly and anxiously seeking the Kingdom. But these shall not fear, for the Kingdom shall be theirs according to the good pleasure of the Father, because it pleases Him, in His great mercy, to give it to them, as a free gift. "As though He would say: You have not earned it; yea, you have earned hell; but what happens to you, that is nothing but grace, promised to you out of the good pleasure of the Father; therefore only believe, and you shall surely have it. It is a great thing that we are children of God and brethren of Christ, that we have power over, and are lords of, death, sin, devil, and hell; but such power not all men have, but only such as believe. For he that believes that God is our Father and we are His children, he need not fear any one; for God is his Protector, in whose power all things are, and all men's hearts in His hand." 75) Rather than that the believers should set their hearts and minds upon the things of this world and be filled with care for the body, they should, according to the advice of the Lord, sell their goods and give the proceeds to charity. Then their hearts will be torn loose from all earthy considerations and will be fixed all the more easily and firmly on eternal riches. The possessions of the disciples will then be contained in a purse which will never grow old, for they are the riches of God's grace in Christ Jesus; no thief is able to come near and abstract that inexhaustible, precious treasure, and no moth can destroy the white garment of the righteousness of Jesus which has been given to us by faith. How necessary to become ever surer of the heavenly calling in Jesus the Lord by a constant consideration of passages like the present!

Christian alertness: V. 35. Let your loins be girded about and your lights burning; v. 36. and ye yourselves like unto men that wait for their lord when he will return from the wedding, that, when he cometh and knocketh, they may open unto him immediately. V. 37. Blessed are those servants whom the lord when he cometh shall find watching; verily I say unto you that he shall gird himself, and make them to sit down to meat, and will come forth and serve them. V. 38. And if he shall come in the second watch, or come in the third watch, and find them so, blessed are those servants. V. 39. And this know, that if the goodman of the house had known what hour the thief would come, he would have watched, and not have suffered his house to be broken through. V. 40. Be ye therefore ready also; for the Son of Man cometh at an hour when ye think not. A state of watchful waiting is that which is expected of the Christians of the last days. They shall be like servants whose master has gone to his wedding-feast and expects to return home with his bride. Their loins will be girt, for 'immediate service, without delay or dallying; the lights will be burning, to avoid all confusion. Every servant will be in his exact place and occupied with his own duty. Just as soon as the master comes, and at the moment of his knocking, they will be ready to open the door and to be of service to him, with joyful alertness. Such faithfulness is a rare virtue, but happy are they that have learned this virtue, for theirs will also be a rare reward of grace. Solemnly Jesus declares that the master will exchange roles with the servants, urging them to recline at the table, while he himself would gird up his undergarments and "help them to portions of the marriage-feast he has brought home with him." And should the coming of the lord be delayed to the second watch, just before midnight, or to the third, just after midnight, and the same conditions obtain, those servants would find themselves rewarded for their faithfulness far beyond their deserts. Thus the disciples of Christ will be found ready at all times to receive their Lord Jesus Christ, when He returns to judge the quick and the dead. And although they are merely fulfilling their duty in living lives of constant, prayerful watchfulness, yet He will give them a reward of mercy far surpassing their fondest hopes and expectations.

The lesson of alertness is emphasized by another parable. Just as a thief may come at any hour of the night, and just when he is least expected, and just as the householder therefore will be watchful at all times, lest the thief make his way into the house and carry out his intentions, thus the disciples of the Lord should be on their guard lest the last day come upon them while they are unprepared. To be ready and alert always, that is their duty, always to look forward to the coming of the last day; for the Son of Man, as the great Judge, comes at an hour when He is least expected.

Peter's question and the Lord's reply: V. 41. Then Peter said unto Him, Lord, speakest Thou this parable unto us, or even to all? V. 42. And the Lord said, Who, then, is that faithful and wise steward whom his lord shall make ruler over his household to give them their portion of meat in due season? V. 43. Blessed is that servant, whom his lord, when he cometh, shall find so doing-. V. 44. Of a truth I say unto you that he will make him ruler over all that he hath. V. 45. But and if that servant say in his heart, My lord delayeth his coming, and shall begin to beat the men-servants and maidens, and to eat and drink, and to be drunken, v. 46. the lord of that servant will come in a day when he looketh not for him, and at an hour when he is not aware, and will cut him in sunder, and will appoint him his portion with the unbelievers. Cp. Matt. 24, 45-51. Peter interrupted the Lord with the question whether the parable, and therefore also its lesson, was meant for the disciples only or for all the people present. While Jesus did not answer directly, the continuation of the discourse made it plain that He had reference mainly to His disciples. The believers should be ready at all times, they should be examples of watchfulness for all men. The Lord's parable is a fine bit of vivid description: A servant selected for a position of special trust by his master, given the administration of the entire household, which includes, above all, the dealing out of due portions of food; the faithful servant found engaged in this service upon the return of the master and rewarded far beyond his deserts, receiving the charge of all the goods of the master; the unfaithful servant trusting in the further delay of the master, by which he will gain time for his wicked deeds, beating the slaves of both sexes, taking their portion of the food for himself, to gorge himself to gluttony and drunkenness; the unexpected return of the master at an unusual hour; the awful punishment meted out to the scoundrel. The faithful servant is a type of the true disciple of Christ, especially of the faithful pastor. Those that serve Christ in their fellow-men will rule with Christ in the world to come. And the pastors that have given to every one of their fellow-servants their due portion of the Word of God, and have sought only to minister after His great example, they will be rewarded with mercy far beyond all hopes and understanding. But the faithless disciples, that lived in careless security, that believed in enjoying life, that refused to take part in the duties of charity toward their neighbor, and even were guilty of cruelty to their fellow-men, they will receive their portion with the wicked in eternal damnation. Above all is this true of hirelings that do not care for the flock of Christ, but try to gain from them what they want for a life of ease, that neglect the preaching of the Gospel, that feed the souls with the husks of human wisdom. They will receive the greater damnation.

Christ's summary: V. 47. And that servant which knew his lord's will, and prepared not himself, neither did according to his will, shall be beaten with many stripes. V. 48. But he that knew not, and did commit things worthy of stripes, shall be beaten with few stripes. For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much, required; and to whom men have committed much, of him they will ask the more. The Lord here states the principle according to which punishments are given in the kingdom of God, and especially on the Day of Judgment, not according to an absolute decree, but according to the measure of fault. There is the servant that was fully informed as to the will of his Lord, but deliberately chose to ignore this will and to do as he pleased. His punishment will be heavy, and it will consist of many stripes. On the other hand, a servant may have been in ignorance of the master's will, but still committed something which deserved punishment; he will receive only few stripes. This is not to be understood as though a servant could plead ignorance when he had deliberately ignored a command. Ignorance is no excuse where knowledge might have been obtained. The rule is that the demand of the master is in proportion to the gifts dispensed, whether these be temporal or spiritual. In every case the person concerned is only a steward having charge of the gifts. A rich man cannot dispose of his property as he chooses; a person with unusual powers of intellect has no right to put them to uses pleasing his own ambition or selfishness; one to whom God has given an extraordinary measure of spiritual knowledge cannot choose to ignore this talent. The day of reckoning is coming; and the reckoning will be severe, but just. In the entire matter of sanctification, therefore, a Christian will be alert at all times.

The dissension caused by the Gospel: V. 49. I am come to send fire on the earth; and what will I, if it be already kindled? V. 50. But I have a baptism to be baptized with; and how am I straitened till it be accomplished! V. 51. Suppose ye that I am come to give peace on earth? I tell you, Nay; but rather division; v. 52. for from henceforth there shall be five in one house divided, three against two and two against three. V. 53. The father shall be divided against the son and the son against the father, the mother against the daughter and the daughter against the mother, the mother-in-law against her daughter-in-law and the daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. Cp. Matt. 10, 34-36. The Gospel is to some people, whose minds the god of this world has blinded, a savor of death unto death, 2 Cor. 2, 16. It brings a fire of controversy which results in fierce trials and conflicts for the believers. The sooner this fire therefore is kindled, the better it will be for the faithful. And it is not as if Jesus would go out unscathed while His followers must bear the many crosses that are laid upon them because of their discipleship. The baptism of His last great Passion looms up before Him with such a threatening aspect that He is pressed on every side, both with fervent desire and with fear on account of the last ordeal. And so the disciples must not live in the foolish hope and idea that they will escape the same or a similar ordeal. Contention, dissension, strife, enmity will follow the preaching of the cross at all times, causing divisions even in the midst of the most closely knit households. Friendships of long years' standing, the most intimate ties of blood-relationship have been disrupted because of opposition to the Gospel. This the believers of all times should know, lest., they be offended. They dare not expect their lot to be more pleasant than that of their Lord.

A last word to the people: V. 54. And He said also to the people, When ye see a cloud rise out of the west, straightway ye say, There cometh a shower; and so it is. V. 55. And when ye see the south wind blow, ye say, There will be heat; and it cometh to pass. V. 56. Ye hypocrites, ye can discern the face of the sky and of the earth; but how is it that ye do not discern this time? V. 57. Yea, and why even of yourselves judge ye not what is right? V. 58. When thou goest with thine adversary to the magistrate as thou art in the way, give diligence that thou mayest be delivered from him, lest he hale thee to the judge, and the judge deliver thee to the officer, and the officer cast thee into prison. V. 59. I tell thee, thou shalt not depart thence till thou hast paid the very last mite. Cp. Matt. 16, 2. 3. 25. 26. It was a word of impressive warning which Jesus spoke to the people, as He had spoken to the Pharisees on a former occasion. The people in general had not profited by the Lord's ministry of preaching, although they resembled their leaders very strongly in certain external particulars. When the clouds came up from the west, from the Mediterranean Sea, it was a sure sign of rain, and the prognostication of the people was made accordingly. When, the wind blew from the south, from the desert, it brought a withering heat; this they could predict with unfailing certainty. But the time and circumstances under which they were living the people could not judge properly; there they could not draw the right conclusions. They were a shallow lot, without judgment in spiritual things. Such is also the generation of these latter days, with wisdom and good judgment in external, worldly matters, but without understanding of the spiritual needs of our day and age.

The Jews were so void of proper judgment in matters concerning morality and religion that they did not even judge rightly in matters pertaining to their own private affairs. They did not know that placableness is a virtue which must be cultivated at all times, if it can be done without denial of the truth, Rom. 12, 18. The Lord here uses the picture of a creditor and a debtor on their way to court. The rational, expedient thing to do under the circumstances is for the debtor to seek a settlement out of court; he should make it a matter of all diligence to get away from the creditor. Should the debtor fail in his attempt, he may find himself dragged before the judge, the judge, in turn, making short work of him by committing him to an officer whose duty it was either to collect the debt after the judge had decreed payment, or to put the debtor into jail till the debt was paid. In such a case even the very last lepton, half of a quadrans, less than half a cent, was exacted. Thus people in general should not wait and hesitate about seeking reconciliation with their adversary in time. It may become too late before they realize it. Death will overtake such persons, and they will find God an implacable Judge in such matters. To keep the example of God in Christ Jesus before his mind at all times and to pray the Fifth Petition with a full understanding of its import, will be the aim of every true Christian.

Summary.Jesus warns against hypocrisy and covetousness, teaches true trust in God and the proper preparation for His own coming to Judgment, and admonishes the people to cultivate placableness.