Sunday, March 3, 2024

Charles Johnston 1910


It is well, therefore, to consider these parables as a whole, in order that we may understand the meaning of the words “the kingdom of heaven” which run through them all like a golden thread, possessing a prominence surpassed, perhaps, by one phrase only: “the Father in heaven.” These words were not originated by Jesus. The phrase “the kingdom of heaven is at hand,” or, more literally, “the realm of the heavens has drawn near,” was the rallying cry of John the Baptist, and on his lips had doubtless a Messianic meaning. Jesus adopted the phrase, and we find him first using it himself, and then bidding his disciples to use it, as a text for their teaching. It would be difficult to gain, from the “parables of the kingdom” alone, any clear idea of the thought of Jesus. We should be at a loss to conceive anything which is like “a pearl, a net, a king entrusting money to his servants, a grain of mustard seed, leaven, wheat” and so forth; and only in the much-disputed “Tao” of the Chinese sage Lao-tse could we find an equal enigma. Nor can it be said that the meaning of the parables, as given by the Teacher, makes the matter altogether plain. Indeed, when we read, for instance, the explanation of the “parable of the tares,” we are conscious that one parable is being explained by another, and so with the “parable of the sower.”

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