71 What do we ask?

Luke 16:14-31
Psalms 149:1-4
T New way of life

"Now the pharisees, who were lovers of money, were listening to all these things, and they were scoffing at Him." (14), and the next paragraph begin. We have heard that parable (16:1-13) of a unjust steward of former was sense of values of the world. Jesus wanted disciples, without being seized with its sense of values, to learn wisdom led by God as sons of the light. Pharisees who want to be a guardian of the law acquire 100% of wisdom of the world; so, it is difficult to think that they can not understand the intention of the story of Jesus. "You cannot serve God and mammon" (13), they heard that story in the same way like as Luke. With that in mind, they laughed. (We can serve in God and wealth, wonderfully).The expression of "who were lovers of money", it is translated as "Cling to the money" (新共同訳) and "Greed is deep" (口語訳); but it is not reasonable to reproach them. The rich person had been envied of from poor general populace, because he has received God's special blessing. However, would they have sat cross-legged on such tendency? After all, they were "greedy" people who squeezed it out of poor people.

Jesus said to such them. "You are those who justify yourselves in the sight of men, but God knows your hearts; for that which is highly esteemed among men is detestable in the sight of God." (15) As having been pointed out here, it may be said that they posed as a guardian of the law while being based on the eyes of the person. "They pray in the synagogues and on the street corners, in order to be seen by men." (Matthew 6:5) and "they neglect their appearance in order to be seen fasting by men." (Matthew 6:16); these were rightly the models of such their life way. And it was the purpose for that Jesus has come to us.


U Which time

Will it be related to it? The words of Jesus following are scattered at a glance and these seem to have no connection of each other; however undeniably, this is what Luke wrote as a message of Jesus. Shall we hear it? "The Law and the Prophets were proclaimed until John; since then the gospel of the kingdom of God is preached, and everyone is forcing his way into it. But it is easier for heaven and earth to pass away than for one stroke of a letter of the Law to fail. Everyone who divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery; and he who marries one who is divorced from an husband commits adultery." (16-18)

The reason why the name of John the Baptist was given here; probably it would be to tell that the era of before Christ (the Law) has finished and the era of after Christ is coming (the Gospel). John the Baptist was called prophet Elijah (1:17, Malachias 4:5-6), he was sent to point the way of Jesus and showed Jesus, and after having handed over the seat of the standard-bearer of the new times to Jesus, he disappeared. He colored the end of the law era. However, the people do not notice it at all, and besides they can not even put a distinction between the law and the gospel. They raised John enthusiastically as the prophet who disappeared a long time from Israel, and gathered around him; and possibly, they would think he would be the Messiah who was sent from God. Their enthusiasm was like saying that they got qualification to enter the Kingdom of God, by raising John. Such John was changed to Jesus, but without care about such a thing, they are also flocking at the fanatical around Jesus now. It is thought this is a meaning of that "And every one is forcing his way into it.".

They did not approve Him the Messiah, but Pharisees were the same kind with such people, too. Why did they have such strong antipathy to Jesus? It is thought that they might have held enthusiastic expectation that He would become a great leader of the law, though they hid it in their cool clothing. However, Jesus all disappoints their expectation, and does only movement canceling their law. Would they have felt that Jesus was going to build the times that were different from the law? Needless to say, Pharisees were going to continue living in the times of the law; and besides, that law was "legalism" and drifting human smell. Therefore, Jesus would have defended the law, saying, "But it is easier for heaven and earth to pass away than for one stroke of a letter of the Law to fail.". "Everyone who divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery"; this also points out an error of the outlook on their law. It cannot but be said that their way is going to the place finally separated from God distantly.


V What do we ask?

Jesus announced the declaration of the end of the law era and the opening of the Gospel times to Pharisees who laughed at Him previously; but it was still in the middle of the story, about the big problem of the mammon of this world which would be also concerned with disciples. With the parable of "an unjust manager", Jesus was only talking about the portion of the entrance still. Jesus returns to the main subject, and speaks another parable (19-31). And this time, it is a story that fixed His eyes on Pharisees straightly, not only on the disciples.

"Now there was a certain rich man, and he habitually dressed in purple and fine linen, gaily living in splendor every day. And a certain poor man named Lazarus was laid at his gate, converted with sores and longing to be fed with the crumbs which were falling from the rich man's table; besides, even the dogs were coming and licking his sores. Now it came about that the poor man died and he was carried away by the angles to Abraham's bosom; and the rich man also died and was buried." (19-22) This will convey a state of the then Jewry. Surely, Pharisees who heard this would seem to be this rich man; I imagine it so. Even if poor people have a miserable experience, their heart are not shaken by it, and they say, like this rich man who comes out to this story, that these thing came from God. However, Jesus denied such a trend by eyes of God Himself. Lazarus and a rich man died. Lazarus came into Abraham in heaven, and, rich man was in the scorching flame in Hades (hell). In excessive bitterness a rich man cried and said, "Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water and cool off my tongue; for I am in agony in this flame." (24). Abraham answered it, "And besides all this, between us and you there is a great chasm fixed, in order that those who wish to come over from here to you may not be able, and that none may cross over from there to us." (26); and rich man said, "Then I beg you, Father, that you send him to my father's house-for I have five brothers-that he may warn them, lest they also come to this place of torment." (27-28), however it was refused, too.

"A son of Abraham", it was this rich man's only support. It is claim itself of Pharisees that they believe and do not doubt having the qualification to enter the kingdom of God; but, they are not interested in it at all, poor people is also a son of Abraham. Though they are calling themselves a guardian of the law, but lacked in them the gentleness of God called "Lazarus embraced in a breast of Abraham". Please listen about the ending of this story. "They have Moses and Abraham and the prophets; let them hear them.", "No, Father Abraham, but if someone goes to them from the dead, they will repent!", "If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, neither will they be persuaded if someone rise from the dead." (29-31) The problem is not mammon. The problem is to ask mammon (depending on it). What we should hear will be words of God. "The Law and the Prophets" are arranged, it is because the Prophet was to bridge the Law and the Gospel; and it is covered there, "listen to the Gospel (Jesus himself)". They did not hear it. I don't want to hear it; surely it will be the true intention not changing also in the present age. Well, how about us?


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