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    Chapter 19—Other Parables

    There was much curiosity and questioning among the people concerning this kingdom which they could not see with their material eyes. Jesus knew every perplexity that agitated the minds of his hearers, and as the multitude again thronged about him, he continued to teach them in parables. “And he said unto them, Is a candle brought to be put under a bushel, or under a bed? and not to be set on a candlestick? For there is nothing hid, which shall not be manifested; neither was any thing kept secret, but that it should come abroad. If any man have ears to hear, let him hear. And he said unto them, Take heed what ye hear; with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you; and unto you that hear shall more be given. For he that hath, to him shall be given; and he that hath not, from him shall be taken even that which he hath.”2SP 242.1

    Jesus used the light of a candle to represent his doctrines, which illuminate the souls of those who accept them. This light is not to be hidden from the world, but should shine forth to enlighten and bless those who behold it. The instruction received by those who listened to Jesus was to be communicated by them to others, and thus handed down to posterity. He also declared that there was nothing hidden that should not be manifested. Whatever was in the heart would sooner or later be revealed by the actions; and these would determine whether the seed sown had taken root in their minds and borne goodly fruit, or whether the thorns and brambles had won the day. He admonished them to hear and understand him. To improve the blessed privileges then extended to them, would result in their own salvation and through them would benefit others.2SP 243.1

    And with what measure of sincere attention they listened to his instructions, they would receive like measure of knowledge in return. All who truly desired to understand his doctrines would be fully satisfied; their Heaven-given privileges would increase; their light would brighten unto the perfect day. But those who did not desire the light of truth would grope in darkness and be overcome by the powerful temptations of Satan. They would lose their dignity and self-control, and the little knowledge of which they had boasted when they declared that they had no need of Christ, and scorned the guidance of Him who left a throne in Heaven to save them.2SP 243.2

    Following the thread of his discourse, the Divine Teacher uses another parable, saying, “So is the kingdom of God, as if a man should cast seed into the ground; and should sleep, and rise night and day, and the seed should spring and grow up, he knoweth not how. For the earth bringeth forth fruit of herself; first the blade, then the ear, after that the full corn in the ear. But when the fruit is brought forth, immediately he putteth in the sickle, because the harvest is come.” The seed here spoken of is the word of God sown in the heart and made fruitful by divine grace. If the truth takes root in the heart, it will sooner or later spring into life and bear fruit. The life and character will show the nature and quantity of the seed sown. But the work of cultivating is the work of a life-time. The principles of truth once planted in the soul, are to be carried out in the daily duties of life. The growth of Christian character is gradual—like the advancement of the natural plant through its various stages of development. But nevertheless the progress is continual. As in nature, so it is in grace, the plant must either grow or die.2SP 243.3

    Day by day the sanctifying influence of the Spirit of God almost imperceptibly leads those who love the ways of truth toward the perfection of righteousness, till finally the soul is ripe for the harvest, the life-work is ended, God gathers in his grain. There is no period in the Christian life when there is no more to learn, no higher attainments to reach. Sanctification is the work of a life-time. First the blade, then the ear, then the full corn in the ear, then the ripening and the harvest; for when the fruit is perfect, it is ready for the sickle.2SP 244.1

    This figure presented a most marked contrast to the condition of the Jews. Their religion was cold and formal, the Holy Spirit had no place in their hearts; therefore, instead of growing in grace, and advancing in the knowledge of God, they were continually becoming more callous and bigoted, retreating farther and farther from the presence of the Lord. The proud, caviling Pharisees looked around upon the vast numbers gathered to hear Jesus, and noted contemptuously how few there were who acknowledged him as the Messiah. There were many educated and influential men who had come to hear the prophet whose fame had spread far and near. Some of these looked with curious interest upon the throng, which was composed of all classes of society and every nationality. There were the poor, the illiterate, the ragged beggar, the robber with the seal of guilt upon his face, the sick, the maimed, the dissipated, high and low, rich and humble, jostling each other for a place to stand and hear the words of Jesus.2SP 245.1

    As they gazed, they asked themselves incredulously, Is the kingdom of God composed of such material as this.? Jesus read their thoughts, and replied to them by another parable:—2SP 245.2

    “Whereunto shall we liken the kingdom of God? or with what comparison shall we compare it? It is like a grain of mustard seed, which, when it is sown in the earth, is less than all the seeds that be in the earth. But when it is sown, it groweth up, and becometh greater than all herbs, and shooteth out great branches; so that the fowls of the air may lodge under the shadow of it.” Far and near the mustard lifted itself above the grass and grain, waving its branches lightly in the air. Birds flitted from twig to twig and sang amid its leafy foliage. Yet the seed from which sprang this giant plant, was the least of all seeds. At first it had sent up a tender shoot; but it was of strong vitality, and grew and flourished till it was of large proportions, and the birds lodged under its shadow.2SP 245.3

    The people look upon the mustard, growing so vigorously about them, and their minds are vividly impressed by the illustration Jesus has used to point the truths of his doctrine. He thus declares that not by force of arms, and the pomp and heraldry of war, is the kingdom of Christ to be set up. But the work is of gradual development. Though the beginning may be small, it will grow and strengthen till, like the grain of mustard seed, it will reach, through imperceptible stages of development, the majesty of greatness.2SP 246.1

    Jesus takes this poor little seed to illustrate his mighty truths. The merest trifle is not beneath the notice of the great Teacher. Many were there whose Christian experience began that day, and would be like the symbol he had used, growing into strength and beauty, trampled upon, yet still maintaining its vigorous life. This figure was indelibly written upon the minds of hundreds who listened to the words of Jesus. Never would they behold the rank-growing mustard, so plentiful in that region, but they would be reminded of this parable of the Saviour, and their hearts would remember the lesson that he taught concerning the mysterious influence of divine grace upon the human soul, and the quickening power of the word that declares itself in the daily life.2SP 246.2

    “Another parable spake he unto them: The kingdom of Heaven is like unto leaven, which a woman took, and hid in three measures of meal, till the whole was leavened.” The leaven in the meal represents the progressive work of divine grace in the human heart. The leaven was not naturally in the meal, but being placed in it gave rise to fermentation which resulted in a radical change of the whole mass. So the principles of God's truth, hidden in the heart of an individual, change his entire nature, and influence his life. The natural feelings are transformed, the affections are consecrated, and the mind elevated. Physically, the man appears the same; but inwardly, he has become renewed by the heavenly principles that animate his life.2SP 247.1

    Again Jesus took the fields before him and the sowers and reapers to illustrate his truths, saying, “The kingdom of Heaven is likened unto a man which sowed good seed in his field. But while men slept, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat, and went his way. But when the blade was sprung up, and brought forth fruit, then appeared the tares also.2SP 247.2

    The tares were noxious weeds, very annoying to the cultivator of the soil, for they sprang up together with the good grain. There was danger of disturbing the roots of the wheat, and destroying the young blades, if the weeds were rudely pulled from among them; besides this, the tares so closely resembled the grain, while growing, that it was hard to distinguish the one from the other.2SP 247.3

    When the servants of the householder came and asked him from whence the tares had come, seeing he had sown good seed in his field, he told them that an enemy had sowed the weeds among his grain to injure him. Then they inquired if they might not gather out the tares and leave the wheat free. “But he said, Nay; lest while ye gather up the tares, ye root up also the wheat with them. Let both grow together until the harvest; and in the time of harvest I will say to the reapers, Gather ye together first the tares and bind them in bundles to burn them, but gather the wheat into my barn.”2SP 247.4

    The enemy sowing the troublesome seeds, is an illustration of Satan's work upon the human mind. Christ is the Sower, who scatters the precious grain in the fallow ground of the heart; but the enemy of souls steals in secretly and sows the seeds of evil. These germs of error spring up abundantly and bear their noxious fruit, sometimes crowding out and destroying the precious plants about them. The soil that should have produced goodly grain for the nourishment of man, runs to waste, and the seeds of sin are carried from that to other fields.2SP 248.1

    The growth of the tares among the wheat would draw special attention to it. The grain would be subjected to severe criticism. Indeed, the whole field might be set down as worthless by some superficial observer, or by one who delighted to discover evil. The sower might be condemned by him, as one who had mingled the bad seed with the good for his own wicked purpose. Just so the erring and hypocritical ones who profess to follow Jesus bring reproach upon the cause of Christianity, and cause the world to doubt concerning the truths of Christ. As the presence of the tares among the wheat counteracted to a great degree the work of the sower, so sin among the people of God, frustrates, in a measure, the plan of Jesus to save fallen man from the power of Satan and render the barren ground of the human heart fruitful of good works.2SP 248.2

    The tares so closely resembled the wheat that the laborers might easily be deceived when the blades were green, and root out the good plants. But when the field was white for the harvest, then the worthless weeds bore no resemblance to the wheat that bowed under the weight of its full, ripe heads. Then the tares were ruthlessly plucked up and destroyed, while the precious grain was gathered into barns. Sinners who make false pretensions of piety mingle together for a time with the true followers of Christ, and this external semblance of Christianity is calculated to deceive many. But in the harvest of the world there will be no likeness between good and evil. The wicked will be gathered from the righteous, to trouble them no more forever.2SP 249.1

    After Jesus had sent the multitude away, and had retired with his disciples into the house, they asked him to explain the parable that he had given them, and he answered, “He that soweth the good seed is the Son of Man. The field is the world; the good seed are the children of the kingdom; but the tares are the children of the wicked one; the enemy that sowed them is the devil; the harvest is the end of the world; and the reapers are the angels. As therefore the tares are gathered and burned in the fire, so shall it be in the end of this world. The Son of Man shall send forth his angels, and they shall gather out of his kingdom all things that offend, and them which do iniquity, and shall cast them into a furnace of fire; there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth. Then shall the righteous shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father. Who hath ears to hear, let him hear.”2SP 249.2

    These words of Christ are meaningless to those who are looking for a temporal millennium, when all the world will be converted. He expressly states that the wheat and tares shall grow together till the harvest, which is the end of the world. Then the tares are to be gathered out of the field; but they are not to be transformed by a mighty miracle into wheat. They are to remain tares, and are to be cast into the fire and utterly destroyed.2SP 250.1

    Jesus, in his explanation of the parable, brings distinctly before his disciples the great difference between the treatment of the wicked and the righteous in that time when men shall be judged for their deeds. Reaching down to the end of time, he corrects the false doctrines of those who rise up to deceive the people. He would teach men that God, who rained a fiery tempest upon the cities of the plains and destroyed them because of the iniquity in their midst, will surely punish the sinner. He holds the destiny of men and nations in his hands, and he will not always be mocked. Jesus himself declares that there is a greater sin than that which brought destruction upon Sodom and Gomorrah; it is the sin of those who see the Son of God and listen to his teachings, yet turn from his salvation, and reject his offered mercy. But the righteous shall be rewarded with the eternal life.2SP 250.2

    Jesus, in his teachings on this occasion, spoke many parables to the people, that he might forcibly impress his truths upon their minds. Our Saviour's mission to the world was to bring to light hidden mysteries which finite man could never fathom, divine problems which the human mind is unable to solve. “Of which salvation the prophets have inquired and searched diligently, who prophesied of the grace that should come unto you.” “Which things the angels desire to look into.” The Son of God came to be a light to the world, to reveal wonders to the children of men that even the angels had vainly longed to understand. He patiently explains the marvelous transformation of sinful mortals into children of God and heirs with himself in the kingdom of Heaven. The introduction of sin had opened the door to every species of suffering and wretchedness, till moral darkness shrouded the earth like a funeral pall; but Jesus, the Restorer, brings man into connection with himself and re-creates him in the divine image.2SP 250.3

    The Saviour continued his parables to the listening people, saying, “Again, the kingdom of Heaven is like unto treasure hid in a field; the which when a man hath found, he hideth, and for joy thereof goeth and selleth all that he hath, and buyeth that field. Again, the kingdom of Heaven is like unto a merchant man, seeking goodly pearls; who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had, and bought it.” In those days there were many who searched for treasure which was supposed to be buried in certain localities where great cities had once stood. In the great thoroughfare of travel, where Jesus was then teaching, it was not unusual to meet persons who had come long distances on their way to where it was supposed hidden treasure could be found. The desire for great riches led them upon a journey fraught with many perils. They had left their avocations upon a venture that seldom proved successful. But if they secured a small treasure they redoubled their exertions, hoping to realize still greater riches. Jesus had this class of his hearers in view, when he thus illustrated the mysterious riches of his grace, which, once having attracted the heart of man, lead him to seek higher attainments and greater blessings. The more he realizes of the peace of God, the more he desires to drink deeper at the fountain of his love. The thirst for righteousness, the longing and seeking for its treasures, continually increase.2SP 251.1

    In order to obtain a vast treasure that is supposed to be hidden in a field, or a gem that is of great and unknown value, the man who is seeking for riches invests all his substance in that field, or uses it to purchase the precious jewel, calculating that it will increase in value on his hands and bring him the fortune that he covets. So should the Christian, who desires the riches of Heaven, set aside all considerations that interfere with his eternal welfare, and put his soul into the work of securing the riches of Christ's love. His talents, his means, his energies, should all be applied in such a way as to win the approbation of God. Jesus directs the minds of his hearers to infinite riches, hidden where all may engage in searching for them, sure of being successful, never doomed to the disappointment of fruitless toil. He came from Heaven to direct the search. High and low, rich and poor, stand upon an equal footing, and none need seek in vain. Obedience to his will is the one condition of success, and well may the earnest seeker afford to sell all that he has to possess this blessing of divine love—the pearl of great price.2SP 252.1

    There were many fishermen in the assembly that listened to the teachings of Jesus; and therefore he spoke a parable that would bring his truth directly home to their minds by an illustration drawn from their daily lives. Said he, “Again, the kingdom of Heaven is like unto a net, that was cast into the sea, and gathered of every kind. Which, when it was full, they drew to shore and sat down, and gathered the good into vessels, but cast the bad away. So shall it be at the end of the world. The angels shall come forth, and sever the wicked from among the just, and shall cast them into the furnace of fire; there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth.” Here again the separation of the wicked from the righteous at the end of the world is impressed upon the minds of his hearers, in words that cannot be mistaken.2SP 253.1

    Jesus had a wise purpose in making use of so many parables by which to teach the same important truths. All classes were before him, for it was a place where many different people met in the pursuit of their business or in their journeys. By using a variety of illustrations he succeeded in reaching many minds. The parable of the sower and that of the wheat and tares, applied to all. The fields were before them, and the laborers scattering the seed, or harvesting the earlier grain. Also the mustard that grew so luxuriantly about them furnished a lesson for all.2SP 253.2

    But in order to press home his truths more closely, he also spoke other parables to suit particular cases. The searcher for riches represented a large class, who could not but be struck by the parable of the hidden treasure. And the leaven, buried in the meal, while it was an illustration that could be understood by all, brought home the truth with added power to the minds of the women, who knew so well the action of the leaven upon the meal, and were thus enabled to draw a forcible comparison between that and the workings of God's grace upon the human heart. Jesus overlooked none in his teachings, and the humblest were remembered with tender pity.2SP 253.3

    The Saviour inquired of his disciples if they understood these things. They answered, “Yea, Lord. Then said he unto them, Therefore every scribe which is instructed unto the kingdom of Heaven is like unto a man that is an householder, which bringeth forth out of his treasure things new and old.” In this parable, Jesus presented before his disciples the responsibility of those whose work it is to give to the world the light which they have received from him. The Old Testament was all the Scripture then in existence; but it was not written merely for the ancients; it was for all ages and for all people. Jesus would have the teachers of his doctrine diligently search the Old Testament for that light which establishes his identity as the Messiah foretold in prophecy, and reveals the nature of his mission to the world. The Old and the New Testament are inseparable, for both are the teachings of Christ. The doctrine of the Jews, who accept only the Old Testament, is not unto salvation, since they reject the Saviour whose life and ministry was a fulfillment of the law and the prophecies. And the doctrine of those who discard the Old Testament is not unto salvation, because it rejects that which is direct testimony of Christ. Skeptics begin with discounting upon the Old Testament, and it takes but another step to deny the validity of the New, and thus both are rejected.2SP 254.1

    The Jews have little influence over the Christian world in showing them the importance of the commandments, including the binding law of the Sabbath, because in bringing forth the old treasures of truth, they throw aside the new ones in the personal teachings of Jesus. On the other hand, the strongest reason why Christians fail to influence the Jews to accept the teachings of Christ as the language of divine wisdom, is because, in bringing forth the treasures of his word, they treat with contempt the riches of the Old Testament, which are the earlier teachings of the Son of God, through Moses. They reject the law proclaimed from Sinai, and the Sabbath of the fourth commandment, instituted in the garden of Eden. But the minister of the gospel, who follows the teachings of Christ, will gain a thorough knowledge of both the Old and the New Testament, that he may present them in their true light to the people an inseparable whole—the one depending upon and illuminating the other. Thus, as Jesus instructed his disciples, they will bring forth from their treasure “things new and old.”2SP 255.1

    In looking abroad over the various fields where he had labored, Jesus was filled with compassion for those scattered ones who had accepted him as their Saviour, and looked to him for the bread of life. They seemed to him like sheep to be left without a shepherd, when he should ascend to Heaven. Before his sufferings and death, it was necessary that he should commission his disciples to go forth as his representatives, that the believers might look to them as divinely appointed teachers, so that in the approaching time of darkness and discouragement they would not be left without counselors. Calling the twelve about him, he said to them; “The harvest truly is great, but the laborers are few; pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he would send forth laborers into his harvest.” As yet the disciples had little experience in preaching the practical truths received from their Lord; but they had been his companions for several months, and he had occasionally sent them forth to labor by themselves for a short time, to prepare them for their future mission when he should no longer be with them. But he now separated them in pairs, and sent them away from him in different directions. He delegated to them the power of working miracles, but they were in no case to employ this power for their own exaltation or advantage. They were to be gone but a few days, and they were not sent among strangers on this first tour, but among their brethren who were to prepare their way that they might have access to the people, many of whom earnestly desired to know more of the doctrines of Christ.2SP 255.2

    In sending out his disciples, Jesus instructed them, upon entering a town or city, to seek those who were of good repute and abide with them during the time in which they labored in that locality; for the influence of such persons would be beneficial to the cause. But if the disciples were not received by those to whom they went, they were to shake off even the dust from their feet against the house that was closed against them, or the city that refused to hear their message. This act was calculated to impress the people with the importance of the gospel message, and with the fact that it could not be slighted or rejected with impunity. The great Teacher declared to his disciples, with startling emphasis, that it would be more tolerable for Sodom and Gomorrah in the day of Judgment than for the city that refused to hear them.2SP 256.1

    Jesus enjoins his disciples to make known to others those truths which he had spoken to their ears alone, saying, “What I tell you in darkness, that speak ye in light; and what ye hear in the ear, that preach ye upon the house-tops.” Knowing the rebuffs and persecution they are to meet in the ministry upon which they are now about to enter, he strengthens them for their work by assuring them that in all their coming toils and dangers, God will watch over them. They are to go on unmindful of the opposition of men, seeking only to please God in whose hands they are: “And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul; but rather fear Him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.”2SP 257.1

    They are to go forward, bearing their testimony of truth, and leave their fate with their Heavenly Father. Jesus comforts them with a knowledge of the divine care that watches over their lives, saying, “Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing? and one of them shall not fall on the ground without your Father. But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear ye not therefore; ye are of more value than many sparrows.”2SP 257.2

    And finally, he crowns his instruction and encouragement with the grand assurance of eternal reward to those who accept the Son of God and obey his teachings, and of denunciation to those who reject them: “Whosoever therefore shall confess me before men, him will I confess also before my Father which is in Heaven. But whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father which is in Heaven.”2SP 258.1

    Thus the Saviour commissioned his disciples to go out into the world and preach his word, to heal the sick, and comfort the sorrowful as they had seen him do, and they went forth, working according to his directions. The mission of God's servants today is of the same vital importance as that of the apostles whom Christ sent from him with such solemn words of instruction. To accept or to reject the message of Christ will insure the results indicated by the Master to his disciples on that solemn occasion when he commissioned them to teach his word to the people.2SP 258.2

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