FROM THE NEW TESTAMENT
A Book of the Best Stories from the New Testament That Mothers Can Tell Their Children
With Forty-five Illustrations
PHILADELPHIA HENRY ALTEMUS COMPANY
ALTEMUS' MOTHER STORIES SERIES
* * * * *
MOTHER STORIES A Book of the Best Stories that Mothers can tell their Children
MOTHER NURSERY RHYMES AND TALES A Book of the Best Nursery Rhymes and Tales that Mothers can tell their Children
MOTHER FAIRY TALES A Book of the Best Fairy Tales that Mothers can tell their Children
MOTHER NATURE STORIES A Book of the Best Nature Stories that Mothers can tell their Children
MOTHER STORIES FROM THE OLD TESTAMENT A Book of the Best Old Testament Stories that Mothers can tell their Children
MOTHER STORIES FROM THE NEW TESTAMENT A Book of the Best New Testament Stories that Mothers can tell their Children
MOTHER BEDTIME STORIES A Book of the Best Bedtime Stories that Mothers can tell their Children
MOTHER ANIMAL STORIES A Book of the Best Animal Stories that Mothers can tell their Children
MOTHER BIRD STORIES A Book of the Best Bird Stories that Mothers can tell their Children
MOTHER SANTA CLAUS STORIES A Book of the Best Santa Claus Stories that Mothers can tell their Children
Profusely illustrated and handsomely bound in cloth, with ornamentation in colors
$1.00 PER VOLUME
COPYRIGHT 1906 BY HOWARD E. ALTEMUS PRINTED IN THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
PAGE THE WISE MEN'S VISIT 7
THE ANGEL'S TIDINGS 10
JESUS IN THE TEMPLE 12
THE WONDERFUL DRAUGHT OF FISHES 14
THE HOUSE BUILT UPON THE SAND 16
HEALING THE CENTURION'S SERVANT 18
ANOINTING THE FEET OF JESUS 20
THE RICH FOOL 22
THE UNFRUITFUL TREE 24
SOWING THE SEED 26
THE ENEMY SOWING TARES 28
THE PARABLE OF THE LEAVEN 30
SEEKING FOR HIDDEN TREASURE 32
THE PEARL OF GREAT PRICE 34
THE PARABLE OF THE NET 36
THE MAN POSSESSED BY DEVILS 38
CURING THE INCURABLE 40
JAIRUS' DAUGHTER 42
THE TWO BLIND MEN 44
FEEDING FIVE THOUSAND 46
CHRIST WALKING ON THE SEA 48
THE WOMAN OF CANAAN 50
PETER AND THE TRIBUTE MONEY 52
THE GOOD SAMARITAN 54
IMPORTUNITY REWARDED 56
THE UNMERCIFUL SERVANT 58
THE GOOD SHEPHERD 60
THE LOST PIECE OF MONEY 62
THE PRODIGAL SON 64
PETER'S WIFE'S MOTHER CURED 66
THE UNJUST STEWARD 68
THE RICH MAN AND THE BEGGAR 70
"AVENGE ME OF MY ADVERSARY" 72
THE PHARISEE AND THE TAX-GATHERER 74
THE LABORERS IN THE VINEYARD 76
THE BARREN FIG TREE 78
THE WICKED HUSBANDMAN 80
WITHOUT THE WEDDING GARMENT 82
THE FOOLISH VIRGINS 84
THE PARABLE OF THE TALENTS 86
MAN WITH THE WITHERED HAND 88
JESUS ASCENDS TO HEAVEN 90
THE PHILIPPIAN JAILER 92
TIMOTHY AND HIS MOTHER EUNICE 94
CHRIST BLESSING THE CHILDREN 96
NEW TESTAMENT STORIES
THE WISE MEN'S VISIT.
The birth of Jesus Christ was announced by two remarkable events: the coming of wise men from the East, and the appearance of angels to some shepherds at Bethlehem.
The wise men were probably astronomers; and in watching the stars they had seen one that had led them to leave their own country, and take a long journey to Jerusalem. Most likely they rode on camels, and their journey was a tedious one. But at last they reached Jerusalem, where they inquired saying, "Where is He that is born King of the Jews? for we have seen His star in the East and are come to worship Him." Tidings of these inquiries were brought to King Herod, and when he heard them he was much troubled. He was a wicked king; and feared that if another king had been born, he would grow up and take the crown away. Herod was also cruel and treacherous, and while pretending to act rightly, often did many evil things. And now he intended to destroy the infant King, who might one day take his sceptre away.
So he first sent for the learned men of the Jews, the chief priests and scribes, and demanded of them where Christ should be born; and when they had replied that it was to be in Bethlehem, he secretly called the wise men before him, and inquired of them what time the star appeared. After getting the information he needed, he dismissed the wise men, bidding them to go to Bethlehem "and search diligently for the young child; and when ye have found Him," said Herod, "bring me word again, that I may come and worship Him also."
So the wise men left King Herod and Jerusalem, and journeyed onward towards Bethlehem; and the star which they had seen in the East went before them, till it came and stood over where the young child lay. And when they saw the star they rejoiced with exceeding great joy, for they knew they had found Him whom they had come so far to seek.
But the wise men did not bring Herod word where Jesus was; and he was so angry that shortly afterwards he sent his soldiers, and slew all the children under two years of age that were in Bethlehem and its neighbourhood. He thought by so doing to kill Jesus among them, but God prevented him from doing so.
THE ANGEL'S TIDINGS.
It was night. In the fields near Bethlehem a company of shepherds kept watch over their flocks. Probably they were holy men, and often thought of God in the stillness of the early morn. And now they may have been thinking of the coming of the promised Messiah.
While watching their flocks, the angel of the Lord came to these shepherds, and a dazzling light shone round about them. They were much afraid; but the angel said, "Fear not; for behold I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord." And suddenly there was with the angel a great multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men."
When the angels had departed, the shepherds returned to Bethlehem; and there, in a stable, they found the infant Jesus, lying in a manger, watched over and cared for by His mother Mary and Joseph. And so great was the surprise and joy of the shepherds that they went out and told all they met of the wondrous things which they had seen.
Shortly after the visit of the shepherds, the wise men from the East reached Bethlehem, and in a house they found Joseph, and Mary, and Jesus. Then they fell down and worshipped Jesus, opening the treasures they had brought, and offering Him precious gifts, gold and frankincense and myrrh. But God warned them not to go back to Herod, to tell him where the new-born King of the Jews was, and they returned to their own country another way.
JESUS IN THE TEMPLE.
When Jesus was twelve years of age, His parents took Him with them to Jerusalem to the feast of the Passover. Great numbers journeyed from different parts to keep this feast; and travelled in companies or caravans, the women and old men riding on asses or mules, and the rest going on foot. Thus Joseph and Mary, with Jesus, left Nazareth, and with many others journeyed to Jerusalem, where they kept the Passover.
When the feast was ended, as they returned homewards, Joseph and Mary discovered that Jesus was missing; but supposing Him to have been somewhere among the company, they continued their first day's short journey. When, however, evening came, and the caravan halted, and Jesus was nowhere to be found, His parents sorrowfully returned to Jerusalem seeking Him. At last, on the third day, they went to the Temple, and found Jesus sitting in the midst of the aged and learned Jewish doctors, both hearing them and asking them questions. "And all that heard Him were astonished at His understanding and answers."
His parents were amazed when they saw Jesus in such company. But Mary, while she rejoiced at finding Him, gently said, "Son, why hast Thou thus dealt with us? Behold Thy father and I have sought Thee sorrowing." Jesus replied, "How is it that ye sought Me? Wist ye not that I must be about My Father's business?"
Jesus was the Son of God, and doing God's work was being about His Father's business. Years afterwards He said, "I came not to do Mine own will, but the will of Him that sent Me."
THE WONDERFUL DRAUGHT OF FISHES
One day, as the crowds pressed round Him to hear the Word of God, Jesus came to the Lake of Gennesaret and saw two boats drawn up on the shore. Now one of these belonged to a man named Simon Peter, who was at the water's edge washing his nets. Jesus entered into this boat and asked Simon to push it off from the land a little. Then He sat down and taught the people from the boat. And when He had done speaking to them He said to Simon, "Launch out into the deep, and let down your nets for a draught of fishes." Simon, answering Him, said, "Master, we have toiled all through the night and have taken nothing, but as you wish it I will let down the net again." And they let down the net into the sea, but it enclosed so great a multitude of fishes that they could not draw them up; and the net brake. Then Simon beckoned to his partners, James and John, who were in the other boat, that they should come and help them. And they came and filled both boats with the fishes, so that they began to sink.
When Simon Peter saw it he fell down before Jesus, saying, "Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord." For he and all that were with him were astonished at the marvellous draught of fishes which they had taken. And Jesus said unto Simon, "Fear not, Simon Peter; from henceforth thou shalt be a fisher of men." Meaning that he was to go about winning souls for God, instead of being a fisherman.
And when they had brought their boats to land, they forsook all they had and followed Christ.
THE HOUSE BUILT UPON THE SAND.
What a foolish man the builder of the house shown in our picture must have been! Of course, when the wind blew and the waves dashed against his house, it would fall. Look how the sea has washed the foundation away, and how the roof is falling in! And the people; see how they are fleeing to save their lives! And all this calamity because he built his house upon the sand. But the other house, shown in the distance: how firmly that stands! What a bold front it offers to the waves, and how safely it resists the fury of the storm. Its foundations are sure, because they rest upon the solid rock.
Jesus had been teaching the people. He had taught them many wonderful truths, which you will find written in the fifth, sixth, and seventh chapters of Matthew; and in closing He said, "Whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man who built his house upon a rock. And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not, for it was founded upon a rock. And every one that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man which built his house upon the sand. And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house, and it fell, and great was the fall of it." The lesson Jesus sought to impress upon the people by this parable was, that it is not enough simply to hear what He says. Many will do that; but it is only those who remember Christ's commandments and keep them, whose work will stand when the time of trial comes.
HEALING THE CENTURION'S SERVANT.
Jesus entered into Capernaum, a city by the Sea of Galilee, and while He was there a certain Centurion, or captain in the Roman army, had a favourite servant who was sick of the palsy and in great pain. When this Roman heard of Jesus, he sought the Jewish elders and implored them to go to Christ and beseech Him to cure the sick servant. And the elders came to Jesus and besought Him urgently to do this miracle, saying, "He is a worthy man, this Roman captain, for he loveth the Jews and hath built us a synagogue."
So Jesus went with them, and when He had come near the house, the Centurion himself came to meet Him, saying, "Lord, trouble not Thyself, for I am not worthy that Thou shouldest enter my house. Speak the word only, and this sickness shall depart and my servant be made whole. For I am a man under authority of the Emperor, having many soldiers under me, and I say unto this man, 'Go,' and he goeth; to another, 'Come,' and he cometh, and to my servant, 'Do this,' and he doeth it. Wherefore, if I can so readily command my servants to do my bidding, I know that if Thou biddest this sickness to go out from my servant it will surely go."
Jesus marvelled at the man's words, and said to His followers, "Verily, I say unto you, I have not found so great faith, no, not in all Israel." And to the Centurion He said, "Go thy way; and as thou hast believed, so be it done unto thee." And his servant was healed in the selfsame hour, and when those that had been sent returned to the house, they found the servant whole that had been sick.
ANOINTING THE FEET OF JESUS.
On one occasion, a proud Pharisee, whose name was Simon, invited Jesus to eat with him. But the invitation was a cold one. There was no kiss of welcome, no water to bathe His hot and dusty feet, no perfumed ointment for His head: nothing but a bare admission to a vacant place at the table was granted to Jesus. But there He reclined, His left elbow resting on a cushion, and His feet projecting beyond the edge of the couch.
Now it happened that a poor, sinful woman was passing, who, discovering that Jesus was in the house, timidly entered, and stood behind Him. She had an alabaster box of ointment, and, as she looked on Jesus, she wept. Her tears fell upon His feet; so, stooping down, she tenderly wiped them away with her long hair; then she kissed the Saviour's feet, and anointed them with the fragrant ointment. This was done as a token of respect and love.
But an evil eye had noted the kindly act; and the proud Pharisee thought within himself, if Jesus were the prophet He professes to be, He would certainly have known that the woman was a great sinner, and would not have allowed her to touch Him. But Jesus came to save sinners. He loves them, though He hates their sins. He rebuked the haughty Simon; and showed him how he had neglected the commonest rites of hospitality towards his guest, while this poor woman had treated Jesus with the greatest reverence. Then Jesus said, "Her sins which are many are forgiven, for she loved much"; and He bade her go in peace.
THE RICH FOOL.
There was a certain rich man who owned much land. And his fields and vineyards were so productive that when the time of harvest came, he had not room enough to store his corn and fruits. So after much thought he said, "This will I do. I will pull down my barns and build greater ones, and there will I store all my fruits and my goods. Then I can say to myself, 'I have great store of goods laid up, enough for many years; now I can take mine ease, eat, drink, and be merry.'"
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 hoarded?"
Jesus says it shall be so with all those who set their minds upon storing up riches in this world, rather than laying up treasures in heaven by pleasing God and working in His service. Death will come when they least expect it, and they will have to leave all their earthly riches, and go where no treasure has been laid up for them.
And He said unto His disciples, "Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat; neither for the body, what ye shall put on; for the life is more than meat, and the body more than raiment. For all these things do the nations of the world seek after, and your Father knoweth that ye have need of these things. But rather seek ye the kingdom of God; and all these things shall be added unto you. Fear not, for it is the Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom. Sell what ye have and give alms; provide yourselves a treasure in the heavens that faileth not, where no thief approacheth, or moth corrupteth."
THE UNFRUITFUL TREE.
A certain man had a fig-tree planted in his vineyard, and he came and sought fruit thereon, but found none. Then he called to the gardener who attended to his vineyard, and said to him, "Behold these three years I come seeking fruit on this fig-tree, and find none. Cut it down. Why does it encumber the ground?"
The gardener answered him and said, "Lord, let it alone this year also, till I shall dig about it and manure it. And if it bear fruit then, it is well; but if not, then, after that, thou shalt cut it down."
In this parable the vineyard means the world, and the fig-tree ungodly people whose lives do not produce good works—do not produce fruit in the service of God. The Lord of the vineyard, that is, God, would destroy such people, but Christ intercedes in their behalf, that time for repentance may be given. "He is not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance." Christ came and sought to change men's hearts, and make their lives fruitful for God. The warning has been given, and when the Lord of the vineyard comes again to seek good fruit the unfruitful trees shall be destroyed.
Am I a barren tree, dear Lord? A cumberer of the ground. Oh! give me grace to fruitful be, And in Thy work abound.
SOWING THE SEED.
A sower went out to sow his seed, and as he sowed some fell by the wayside and was trodden down, and birds came and devoured it. And some fell upon a rocky place, where there was not much soil, and as soon as it sprang up it withered away, because it lacked moisture. And some fell among thorns and weeds, and they sprang up with it and choked it. But other fell on good ground, and sprang up bearing ears, some with thirty, some sixty, some a hundred seeds.
When Jesus had told this parable, His disciples asked Him to explain it to them. He said that the seed is the Word of God. The wayside signifies the people who hear the Word but do not understand it, and Satan comes and takes all thought of it out of their hearts as quickly as the birds devour the seeds. The rocky places without much earth denote those who, when they hear the Word, receive it with great joy and profession of faith; but it never takes deep root in their hearts, and when they are tempted they fall away and the good seed in their hearts is withered up. The thorns and weeds are the pleasures and riches of this life, which root so deeply and strongly in men's hearts that the good seed has no chance, and is soon killed off.
But the good ground is the hearts of good people, who remember God's Word and try, every day of their lives, to do as He wishes us to do, and to live holy and useful lives. The seed falling upon their hearts becomes strongly rooted and grows up vigorously, bearing good fruit.
What shall be said of your heart, my young friend? Is it like the wayside? the rocky place? the thorny ground? or like a good field that has been well prepared for the seed?
THE ENEMY SOWING TARES.
A certain man sowed good seed in his field, but in the night, whilst men slept, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat, and went his way. When the wheat-blade had sprung up and showed the ear, then appeared the tares also. So the servants of the householder came to him and said, "Sir, didst not thou sow good seed in thy field? Whence then come these tares?"
He said unto them, "An enemy hath done this." Then the servants asked, "Shall we go, then, and gather them up?" But he said, "Nay, lest whilst you gather up the tares, you root up the wheat with them. Let both grow together until the harvest, and in that time I will say to the reapers, 'Gather ye together first the tares and bind them into bundles to burn them, but gather the wheat into my barn.'"
Jesus' disciples asked Him to explain this parable to them, and He said: "The field represents the world, and He that sowed the good seed is Christ Himself. The good seed is the Word He preached; the wheat plants are the good people who believe in Christ and do as He teaches. The enemy who sows the bad seed is Satan, and the tares that spring from them are wicked people who follow the promptings of the evil one in their hearts. The harvest is the end of the world, and the reapers are the angels of God. As therefore the tares are gathered and burned in the fire, so shall it be in the end of this world with wicked people. Christ shall send forth His angels, and they shall gather out of His Kingdom all things that offend and them that do evil, 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."
"For the Lord our God shall come, And shall take His harvest home; From His field shall in that day All offences purge away;
"Give His angels charge at last In the fire the tares to cast, But the fruitful grain to store In His garner evermore."
THE PARABLE OF THE LEAVEN.
Christ said that the kingdom of heaven could be likened unto leaven (or yeast), which a woman took and hid in three measures of flour, till the whole was leavened.
Now, this leaven, or yeast, is composed of tiny little plants, each one so small that it cannot possibly be seen by the sharpest eye except through a very powerful microscope. So small are they that it would require three thousand of them, placed close together, side by side, to make up the length of one inch. Like all other plants they require food, and they find this in the dough they are placed in. You know that all things are made up of atoms of chemical substances so wonderfully blended together that only the chemist can separate them, and when he has separated them they appear very different. Well, in flour there are certain things so blended, and the yeast-plant takes one kind of substance as food, and in doing so sets free another substance called carbonic acid gas. This gas bubbles up and makes the heavy dough spongy and light. If it were not for these tiny bubbles of gas your bread would be as heavy and close as suet pudding. This is the reason why yeast is put into dough for making bread or cake. One of the most remarkable things about this yeast is, that when it gets into any substance that contains its food, it at once begins to give off buds, which, in a few moments, become full-sized and break away. So rapid is this increase, that if a single yeast-plant were to be put into a great mass of dough it would very quickly leaven the whole mass.
And so it is with the love of God. When once it gets into our hearts it will keep on growing until all our life is filled with it, and we try in all things to please Him.
SEEKING FOR HIDDEN TREASURE.
The people of Canaan, both in ancient and modern days, have made a practice of hiding their treasures. This they have done to secure them in times of danger. When invaders flocked into the land, the people buried their gold and jewels, and fled. And often they died, or were overtaken by their enemies and killed, so that they were unable to return and regain their buried riches. Earthquakes also have taken place, destroying towns and villages, and burying all the riches in them beneath their ruins. Thus there is much hidden treasure in Canaan, and numbers of the inhabitants spend their time seeking diligently and anxiously for it.
Our artist shows us a man who is thus seeking. He has heard that in old times a great treasure was hidden in a particular field. So he digs away patiently in various places until, at last, he finds out that what he heard is quite true. He is sure the treasure is there; and his desire is to become possessed of the field, so that he may obtain the buried riches. He is willing to sell all that he has if by so doing he may buy that field. So he hastens home, and gathers together the whole of his property and sells it. Then he takes his money to the man who has the land for sale, and buys the field of him. Thus he becomes possessed of the treasure he has sought after. Jesus says that the Kingdom of Heaven is like that treasure. It is so precious, that when a man finds out its value, and knows how it can be obtained, he will be willing to give up everything he has for it—all his companions, pleasures, sins, riches—indeed everything he possesses, in order to gain this great treasure.
THE PEARL OF GREAT PRICE.
Very similar to the parable of the Hidden Treasure is this one of the merchant seeking goodly pearls.
"The kingdom of heaven is like unto a merchantman seeking goodly pearls, who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had, and bought it."
In the picture we see the merchant on the sea-shore, where he has waited for the landing of these sailors from another country. He asks them if they have any goodly pearls for sale, and one man opens his box and takes out this "pearl of great price." It is just the kind of pearl the merchant had been seeking, so he quickly produces his two bags of gold and offers them to the man for his pearl. But the man smiles. "What! part with so large and so beautiful a pearl for two bags of gold?" He could not think of it. The pearl is again placed in its box, and the merchant has to go away disappointed. But the longing to have that pearl is too great. A thought occurs to him. He will go home and sell all that is his, and the money he shall thus obtain, added to his two bags of gold, will surely buy the precious jewel.
And so it is with men when they seek that pearl of pearls, the forgiveness of God. They will give up a great deal in order to obtain it, but they find that God requires them to give up everything that is sinful or worldly. And if their hearts are really set upon obtaining it, they will do as this merchant did, and part with everything that would hinder them from coming to God, or walking in the way that leads to heaven.
THE PARABLE OF THE NET.
These fishermen have just returned to shore with their net full of fish. Now this is not a casting-net, which is thrown out from the boat and drawn in again, but a drag-net which is of great length, and which is drawn constantly through the water until it is well filled with fish. It is then hauled up to the shore, and the fishermen sit around it, and take out the fish. Many of these, of course, are unfit for food, or not liked. They cast those into the sea again, but the good fish which they can sell for food are carefully placed in vessels brought for the purpose.
Christ said, "The kingdom of heaven is like unto a net, that was cast into the sea, and gathered every kind (of fish): 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 cast them into the furnace of fire. There shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth."
At another time Jesus taught His disciples the same truth; when He spake of His coming and of the gathering of all nations before Him, the good entering into eternal life, but the wicked being cast away. "When the Son of Man shall come in His glory," said Jesus, "and all the holy angels with Him, then shall He sit upon the throne of His glory. And before Him shall be gathered all nations; and He shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats. And He shall set the sheep on His right hand, but the goats on the left."
THE MAN POSSESSED BY DEVILS.
One day Jesus came with His disciples in a boat to the country of the Gadarenes, near Galilee. They landed near the tombs, that is, caverns cut into the rock, where the dead were buried. And there met them a man, who, for a long time, had been possessed by many unclean spirits. He lived in the tombs and wore no clothes. He had been so fierce and wild that his friends had been obliged to chain him up, but he had burst his fetters, and the devils had driven him out to the tombs.
Jesus bade the unclean spirits to come out of the man. And when the man caught sight of Jesus, he cried out, and fell down before Him, saying, "What have I to do with Thee, Jesus, Thou Son of God most high? I beseech Thee to torment me not."
And Jesus asked him his name. And he said, "Legion," because many devils were in him. They besought Jesus that He would not make them go into the sea, but would let them enter into a herd of swine that were feeding on the cliffs close by. He suffered them to do so, and the devils went out of the man and entered into the pigs, and the whole herd ran violently over the cliff into the water and were drowned. And when the herdsmen saw what was done, they fled into the city and told all the people. Then the people came out to Jesus, and they saw the man that had been possessed, clothed and in his right mind, sitting at the feet of Jesus. And they that had seen it told them by what means the man had been healed, and they were afraid. The man out of whom the devils had departed, besought Him that he might stay with Jesus, but He sent him away, saying, "Return to thy house, and show what great things God hath done unto thee." And he went his way and published throughout the city what great things Jesus had done unto him.
CURING THE INCURABLE.
Jesus went into Capernaum, followed by a great crowd of people, and among them was a woman who for twelve years had suffered from a disease which no doctor could cure, though she had consulted many, and spent all her wealth upon them. She had said within herself, "If I could but touch His garment I should be made well." So she pressed through the crowd, and put out her arm and touched the hem of His garment, and immediately she was made well.
Then Jesus, turning round to His disciples, said, "Who touched Me?" But they all denied that they had done so, and Peter and they that were with him said, "Master, the multitude throng Thee and press Thee, and yet Thou sayest, Who touched Me!" They were surprised that Jesus should make such an enquiry, seeing that so many were crowding round Him, and pressing against Him. But Jesus said, "Somebody hath touched Me, for I perceive that healing virtue hath gone out of Me."
When the woman saw that Jesus knew what she had done, and that she could not be hidden in the crowd, she came trembling, and, falling down before Him, she declared unto Him before all the people why she had touched Him, and how she had been healed at once. And He said unto her, "Daughter, be of good comfort; thy faith hath made thee whole. Go in peace, and be healed of thy illness."
Jesus wishes us to trust in Him. We suffer from a terrible disease—the disease of sin, which no doctor can cure; but Jesus will heal us and take away our sin if we trust in Him.
Jairus was one of the rulers of the Jewish church, or synagogue, and he had a daughter who had been very ill and was now at the point of death. She was an only daughter, and was twelve years of age. So hearing that Jesus was near, he came to Him, and, falling down before Him, implored Jesus to come and see her.
And Jesus arose, and followed him, and so did His disciples. Soon there came running to them a messenger from the ruler's house, who said to Jairus, "Thy daughter is already dead; do not trouble the master." But when Jesus heard it He turned to Jairus and said, "Fear not. Only believe, and she shall be restored to life."
When they came to the ruler's house they saw the minstrels and many people who were making much noise and lamentation for the dead girl, as was the custom. Jesus said unto them, "Make way; weep not, for the maiden is not dead, but sleepeth;" but they laughed Him to scorn, knowing that she was dead. And He put them all out of the room, all but Peter and James and John, and the mother and father of the maiden. Then He took her by the hand, and called to her, saying, "Maid, arise." And her spirit came again, and she arose straightway; and He commanded her parents to give her food.
Her parents were astonished when they saw their daughter raised to life and able to eat, but Jesus charged them that they should tell no man what He had done. But the fame of the miracle He had wrought went abroad unto all that land.
THE TWO BLIND MEN.
When Jesus had left the house of the ruler Jairus, there followed Him two blind men. They called out to Him, "Thou Son of David, have mercy upon us."
Then Jesus looked at them, and asked if they really believed that He had power to cure them and give them back their sight. And they said unto Him, "Yea, Lord." Then He touched their eyes, and said unto them, "According to your faith, so be it unto you." And immediately they opened their eyes and were able to see. Jesus charged them to let no man know what He had done. But when they were departed they spread His fame abroad over all that country.
Another time Christ and His disciples were coming away from Jericho, followed by a large crowd of people. And there was sitting by the wayside a blind beggar, Bartimeus by name; and when he heard the noise of the multitude, he asked what it meant. They answered him, "Jesus of Nazareth passeth by." Then he cried out in a loud voice, saying, "Jesus, Thou Son of David, have mercy on me." The people tried to keep him from calling out, but he would not be quiet. He was determined that Christ should see him. And Jesus stood still, and commanded them to call him. So he arose and cast away his outer garment and came to Jesus. When Jesus asked what he would have done to him, he answered, "Lord, that I might receive my sight." And Jesus said unto him, "Go thy way; thy faith hath made thee whole." And he received his sight at once, and followed Jesus, praising Him.
FEEDING FIVE THOUSAND.
One day Jesus went on board a ship and sailed to another part of the coast, where He and His disciples might have rest. For the people in the cities crowded them so closely that they did not even have time to eat. They landed, and went into a desert place; but the people had seen them depart, and marked which way the ship sailed. Then they all flocked out of the cities and came on foot to the place where Jesus was. When Jesus saw what a great number of people had come, He had compassion on them, and spoke to them, and healed their sick. But in the evening the disciples came to Jesus and said, "This is a desert place, and the day has gone; send the people away, that they may go into the villages and buy food."
Jesus was too kind to send them away hungry like that. He said, "They need not depart; give ye them food to eat." But they said to Him, "We have here but five loaves and two fishes, which we have just purchased of a lad." He said, "Bring them to Me." Then He told the people to sit down on the grass; and He took the five loaves and the two fishes, and, looking up to heaven, blessed them and broke them into pieces. The disciples carried the bread and fish to the people and they all ate and had plenty, although there were about five thousand men, besides women and children. And yet, when the disciples took up the fragments that were left, these fragments filled twelve baskets. How kind was Jesus! He not only taught the people and healed their sick, but He fed them when out in the desert place and hungry.
CHRIST WALKING ON THE SEA.
When the people had seen the miracle that Christ did in feeding so many with so few loaves, they felt sure that He was one of the old prophets that had come again, and they would have taken Him by force to make Him king. So He sent His disciples by boat towards Capernaum, and He went, alone, up into a mountain to pray.
When it was dark, the disciples found themselves alone upon the sea, opposed to strong winds, which tossed the boat upon high waves. Then Jesus went out to them, walking upon the waves; but when the disciples saw Him they thought it was a spirit, and cried out with fear. But Jesus said, "Be of good cheer: it is I; be not afraid." Peter answered Him, saying, "Lord, if it be Thou, bid me come unto Thee on the water." And He said, "Come," and Peter stepped over the boat's side and walked on the water towards Christ. But when he saw the angry waves around him and heard the roaring of the winds, Peter was afraid and began to sink. He cried out, "Lord, save me." And Jesus, stretching out His hand, caught him, and said, "O thou of little faith, why didst thou fear?"
When Jesus and Peter had got into the boat, the wind dropped, the sea became calm and the waves still, and immediately they were at the place where they wanted to land. Then they worshipped him, saying, "Truly Thou art the Son of God." And they came into the land of Gennesaret, where the people knew Him and brought to Him all that were sick, or blind, or lame, that they might touch His garment and be made well.
THE WOMAN OF CANAAN.
Jesus came unto the borders of Tyre and Sidon, where the people were not Jews, but Gentiles. And there came to Him a woman of Canaan, who cried out to Him, saying, "Have mercy on me, O Lord, Thou son of David; my daughter is grievously vexed with a devil." She besought Him to cast out this evil spirit from her daughter. But He answered not a word, and His disciples counselled Him to send her away. Then He told her He was not sent unto the Gentiles, but unto the lost sheep of Israel; meaning the Jews. This was said to try her faith. Then she came and worshipped Him, saying, "Lord, help me." But He said, "It is not meet to take the children's food and to cast it to dogs;" meaning that His help was due rather to the Jews than to the Gentiles. And she said, "Truth, Lord, yet the dogs sometimes eat of the crumbs which fall from their masters' table;" meaning that, though she was a Gentile, she believed in Him as the Son of God.
Then Jesus answered, and said unto her, "O woman, great is thy faith; be it unto thee even as thou desirest. Go thy way; the devil has gone out of thy daughter." And when she was come to her house she found her daughter made whole and laid upon the bed.
Jesus, with His knowledge of our hearts, knew the faith this poor woman had, and tried it so that it might shine the brighter. Then He granted her the blessing she had asked Him for; and how she must have rejoiced when she reached home and found her daughter quite well and restored to her right mind.
PETER AND THE TRIBUTE-MONEY.
It was a part of the Jewish law that all strangers passing among the Jews should pay to the priests of the Temple an offering to the Lord, or tribute-money as it was called.
Soon after our Lord's Transfiguration He came to Capernaum, together with His disciples. When they had entered the city, there came to them the priests who usually collected this tribute-money, and they said unto Peter, "Doth not thy Master pay tribute?" And he answered, "Yes." But when they had come to the house, Jesus said to Peter, "What thinkest thou, Simon? Of whom do they take tribute; of their own people or of strangers?" And Peter answered Him, "Of strangers."
Jesus saith unto him, "Then their own people are free; but lest we should offend them by not paying, go thou down to the sea, and cast in thy hook and line, and take up the first fish that taketh the hook into his mouth. And when thou hast opened his mouth, thou shalt find a piece of money there. Take it and give it unto the priests as tribute for Me and for thee." And Peter went down to the sea and cast in his line, and took a big fish. And when he had opened its mouth he found the piece of silver, and took it to the men in payment of the tribute.
This tribute was collected to pay the expenses of the Temple worship. Jesus sought to show that, as He himself was the Son of God, the King for whose service the tribute was paid, He might justly be exempted from paying it; yet to save giving offence He miraculously provided the piece of money to pay tribute for Himself and Peter.
THE GOOD SAMARITAN.
As Jesus was talking to His disciples, a certain lawyer stood up and asked, "Who is my neighbour?" And Jesus answered by telling them this story:—
A certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among thieves, who robbed him, stripped him of his clothes, and, wounding him, left him on the road half dead. By chance there came a priest that way, and, as a teacher of religion to men, he should have stopped to help the poor man. Instead of this, he pretended not to see, and passed by on the other side of the road. Then there came by a Levite, who also, as an official of the church, should have given help. But he merely came and looked on the injured man, and passed on the other side as the priest had done.
Afterwards there came by a Samaritan, and, when he caught sight of the wounded Jew, he went over to him and was very sorry for him. Now the Jews hated the Samaritans, and were their enemies, so that it would not have been surprising if he, also, had done as the priest and the Levite did. But, no! Though it was his enemy, he could not pass him by and leave him on the road, perhaps to die. He examined his wounds and bound them up; doing all that he could to soothe them. Then he lifted him carefully on his own beast, and brought him to the nearest inn, and took care of him through the night. The next day, when the Samaritan departed, he paid the man who kept the inn, and said to him, "Take care of this poor man until he is well, and whatever it may cost for his lodging and food, that I will pay thee when I come again."
"Which of these three, thinkest thou, was neighbour unto him that fell among thieves?" The lawyer answered, "He that showed mercy unto him." Then said Jesus, "Go, and do thou likewise."
One day Jesus was asked by His disciples to teach them to pray. So Jesus taught them the prayer we all know so well, beginning with "Our Father, which art in Heaven, hallowed be Thy name." But Jesus told them it was not enough to pray: they must not get tired of praying, even if they failed to receive quickly the things they asked for. They must keep on asking, until God in His own time and manner should grant them what He saw to be good. This great lesson Jesus taught them by the following parable:—
"Which of you shall have a friend," said Jesus, "and shall go unto him at midnight, and say unto him, Friend, lend me three loaves, for a friend of mine in his journey is come to me, and I have nothing to set before him? And he from within shall answer and say, Trouble me not, the door is now shut, and my children are with me in bed; I cannot rise and give thee. I say unto you," said Jesus, "though he will not rise and give him because he is his friend, yet because of his importunity (continued asking) he will rise and give him as many as he needeth."
Then Jesus told His disciples, and He tells us too, "Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you." For, said He, "every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened." If we ask for those things that God sees to be good for us, we may certainly expect to receive them. Let us ask God to keep us every day; and to give us such things as He knows will be for our good.
THE UNMERCIFUL SERVANT.
A certain King took account of his servants and began to reckon what they owed him. And there was brought to him one that owed him nearly ten million dollars. But as he had not the money to pay, the King commanded that he should be sold, together with his wife and children and everything that he had, that payment might be made. Then the servant fell down before the King and worshipped him, saying, "Lord, have patience with me, and I will pay thee all." Then the King had compassion on his servant, and loosed him, and forgave him his debt.
But when that servant had gone out from the presence of the King, he found a fellow-servant who owed him a little over fifteen dollars, and he laid hands on him and seized him by the throat, saying, "Pay me that which thou owest." And his fellow-servant fell down at his feet and implored him, saying, "Have patience with me, and I will pay thee all." And he would not have patience, but cast his fellow-servant into prison till he should pay the debt.
When his other fellow-servants saw what had been done they were very sorry, and came to their King to tell him all about it. Then the King called the unmerciful servant to him, and said, "O thou wicked servant; I forgave thee all that debt, because thou desiredst me. Shouldest not thou also have had compassion on thy fellow-servant, even as I had pity on thee?"
And the King was wroth, and delivered him up to the tormentors, till he should pay all that was due unto him.
So likewise, says Christ, shall our Heavenly Father do also unto us if from our hearts we forgive not every one that trespasses against us.
"Forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive them that trespass against us."
THE GOOD SHEPHERD.
In one of His beautiful parables, Jesus compares Himself to a shepherd. "I am the good shepherd," says He, "the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep." And Jesus tells how the hired servant who cares for nothing but his wages, runs away when the wolf comes; but how the faithful shepherd, when robbers threaten his flock, or wild beasts attack them, defends his sheep bravely, often laying down his life for their sake. Jesus also speaks of how the shepherd knows his sheep by name; and how, when he goes before them, they will follow him, because they know his voice, but that they will not follow strangers. And the Bible, speaking of Jesus Himself, says, "He shall carry the lambs in His bosom," or His arms, like the kind shepherd is doing in our picture.
Now, why does Jesus call Himself the "good shepherd," and the Bible speak of Him as carrying the little lambs? Is it not because He loves us; because He knows each one of us; because He gave His life for us when He died on the cross, and has gone to heaven showing us the way thither; because He calls us to follow Him; and because He is so willing to lead even the tiny ones, and shield them from harm, just like the good shepherd carries the poor wee lamb? But Jesus asks one thing of us in return for all His kindness and care, and that one thing is our love. Are we giving Him our love now? Are we asking Him to lead us, and keep us safe from harm? May we seek to follow Him and to know His voice.
THE LOST PIECE OF MONEY.
Jesus had been preaching to a crowd of publicans and sinners. The publicans of those days were the collectors of taxes for the Romans, and it was a constant complaint against them that they exacted more from the people than they had any right to do. So they were looked upon as wicked men, although they were not all bad. Now the Scribes and Pharisees, who made a great show of religion, so far as outward forms went, were greatly shocked at seeing Christ sitting with publicans, and said, "This man receiveth sinners and eateth with them."
Then Jesus asked them, "What man of you, if he has a hundred sheep, and loses one of them, does not leave the ninety and nine in the wilderness, and go after the lost one, until he has found it? And when he has found it, he lays it upon his shoulders and takes it home, rejoicing; and calls together his friends and neighbours, saying unto them, 'Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep that was lost.'
"I say unto you, that likewise joy shall be in heaven over one sinner that repenteth, more than over ninety and nine just persons which need no repentance.
"Again, what woman if she has ten pieces of money, and loses one, does not light a candle, and sweep the house, and seek diligently until she finds it? And when she has found it, she calls together her friends and neighbours, saying, 'Rejoice with me, for I have found the piece of money which I had lost.'
"Likewise, I say unto you, there is joy in the presence of God's angels over one sinner that repenteth."
THE PRODIGAL SON.
A certain man had two sons, and the younger of them said to his father, "Father, give me the portion of thy wealth that would fall to me at thy death." He did so, and a few days after the younger son gathered all his wealth together and journeyed into a far country. There he met with evil companions, and wasted his money in riotous living. When he had spent all, there arose a mighty famine in that land, and he began to be in want of bread to eat. So he went and hired himself to a man of that country, who sent him into the fields to feed his pigs. And he was so hungry that he would have been glad to have eaten the coarse food such as the swine eat; but no one gave it to him.
His sufferings brought him to his senses, and he thought how foolish he had been, for he remembered that his father's servants had food enough and to spare, whilst his father's son was perishing with hunger. He said, "I will leave this land and go to my father and tell him how I have sinned against heaven and him. I will tell him I am no longer worthy to be called his son, and will implore him to make me one of his hired servants." And he arose and went towards his father's house, but when he was still a great way off, his father saw him, and was sorry for him, and ran and embraced him. Then he told his father how he had sinned and had lost his title to be called the old man's son, but the father was so glad to have his son come back repentant, that he told his servants to bring the best clothing and a ring to put on his son. And he made a great feast, and they were merry, for he said, "This is my son that was as one dead to me and is now alive again; he was lost and is found."
But the elder son was very angry, and would not go in to the feast, but said to his father, "Lo, these many years have I served thee, and never offended or disobeyed thee, and thou hast never made a feast for me and my friends; but now this thy other son has come back, that has wasted thy wealth in riotous living, thou hast made a great feast for him." And his father said, "Son, thou art ever with me, and all I have is thine. It is right that we should make merry and be glad, for this thy brother was as one dead to us and is alive again; he was lost and is found."
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PETER'S WIFE'S MOTHER CURED.
After Jesus had left the Centurion He went to the house of his disciple Peter, and there He saw Peter's wife's mother, laid on a bed, sick with fever. And He took her by the hand and lifted her up. The fever left her and she was cured. She rose up from her bed and attended upon them.
That evening, when the sun was setting, they brought to Jesus all those that were ill, and many that were possessed with devils. And He cast out the devils by His word, and healed all those that were sick.
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"At even, ere the sun had set, The sick, O Lord, around Thee lay; Oh, in what divers pains they met, Oh, with what joy they went away!"
THE UNJUST STEWARD.
See where the steward, worldly wise, With wicked cunning in his eyes, Shows his lord's debtors how to cheat His master of his oil and wheat.
"A hundred measures dost thou owe Of oil? My friend, 'tis scarcely so: Here, take thy bill and quick indite Fifty: that puts the matter right."
"A hundred measures is thy debt Of corn? My friend, thou dost forget: Here, take thy bill, and write fourscore; Surely thou owest nothing more."
Thus wickedly he would provide Houses in which he might abide, When for his former acts unjust He from his stewardship was thrust.
And when his master heard, he smiled, Though of his goods he was beguiled: Nor did he e'en forbear to praise The crafty foresight of his ways.
The children of this world, alas! The children of the light surpass, In planning methods to provide For ills from which they cannot hide.
And so our Master bids us take The money which He gives, and make Friends with our riches for the day When earthly treasures flee away.
That when we leave our house below, And into unknown regions go, Through Jesus, we may find above An everlasting home of love.
Do I my little store expend For such a wise and prudent end; Or only think of my own gain, And not of others' want and pain?
Lord, by Thy Spirit, make me wise Above my selfishness to rise, And something daily give away To find again in Thy great day!
RICHARD WILTON, M.A.
THE RICH MAN AND THE BEGGAR.
There was a certain rich man who was clothed in rich silks and fine linen, and feasted on costly food each day. There was also a poor beggar, who was ragged and hungry, and covered with sores. His name was Lazarus, and they laid him at the rich man's gate, for he desired to be fed with the crumbs which fell from the well-supplied table. And even the dogs had pity on him, for they came and licked his sores.
And it came to pass that the beggar died, and the angels carried him away to heaven, where he was no longer clothed in rags, but in glorious array. Neither was he hungry, for he sat with Abraham and leaned upon his bosom.
The rich man also died, and was buried. He was not carried to heaven, but went to a place of torment, where he lifted up his eyes, and in the distance saw Abraham with Lazarus on his bosom. And he 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 my tongue; for I am tormented in these flames." But Abraham said, "Son, remember that thou in thy lifetime receivedst thy good things, whilst Lazarus had only evil things; and now he is comforted, and thou art tormented. Beside all this, between us and you there is a great gulf fixed."
Then said the rich man, "I pray thee therefore, father, that thou wouldest send him to my father's house; for I have five brethren. Let him go to them and testify unto them, that they may repent, lest they also come into this place of torment." Abraham said unto him, "They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them." And he said, "Nay, father Abraham: but if one went unto them from the dead, they will repent." But Abraham said, "If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded, though one rose from the dead."
"AVENGE ME OF MY ADVERSARY."
In a certain city there was a judge who neither feared God nor cared for man. And in the same city there was a widow that had an enemy, and he had done her an injury. And she came to the judge and implored him, saying, "Give me justice; avenge me of my adversary." But he would not. Then the widow came to him every day and cried, "Give me justice;" but still he would not for a long while. At last he became wearied of her constant cry, and he said within himself, "Though I fear not God nor care for man, yet, because this widow troubleth me with her complaint, I will avenge her; lest by her continual coming she weary me."
And Jesus said, "Hear what the unjust judge saith. And if he, who was an unjust judge and a wicked man, would grant the widow's petition, because she asked so often, will not God, who is good and just, give His children what is good and right for them? Shall not God avenge His own elect, which cry day and night unto Him, though He bear long with them?"
In this parable Jesus impressed upon his disciples the truth that, although great trials might come upon them, and their lives be in peril, yet they were not to lose faith in God, or be disappointed because their prayers were not answered at once. They were to keep on praying; asking God for such things as were right, and trusting that He would preserve them amidst all their enemies; and in His own way make them to triumph over their foes. Whatever is best for His people, God will give them. He cares for the sparrows, and, even more, for those who love Him.
THE PHARISEE AND THE TAX-GATHERER.
The tax-gatherers in those days were called Publicans. They were reputed to be very unjust, exacting from people more than the law required them to pay, and other wickedness was charged against them. Of course, there were good men among them; St. Matthew was a tax-gatherer before Jesus called him to follow Him. The Pharisees studied the Scriptures and explained them to the people, but they did not follow the teachings of Scripture. They were proud, and pretended they were more religious than other men, but it was only pretense. Jesus compared them to whited sepulchres, and said they were hypocrites, who led the people astray.
A Pharisee and a Publican went up into the Temple to pray. The Pharisee stood in a part of the Temple where all could see him, and prayed thus: "O God, I thank Thee that I am not like other men, who are unjust, and who take more than belongs to them. I thank Thee that I am not like this Publican. I fast twice a week; I give to the priests and Levites a tenth part of all I possess." But the Publican, who knew that he was wicked, and felt sorry for it, stood afar off in a quiet part of the Temple where none would see him. He bowed his head and beat upon his breast, saying, "God be merciful to me a sinner."
Jesus said that this Publican went to his home more forgiven than the Pharisee, for every one that is proud and thinks much of himself shall be put down, and he that humbleth himself and is sorry for his sins, shall be exalted. "Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth," says Jesus.
THE LABOURERS IN THE VINEYARD.
"Go, work within my vineyard's bound, At eve your 'penny' shall be found:" So spake the vineyard's lord, and they Began to toil at break of day.
For hours the sun had shown his face, When idlers in the market-place Once and again were sent within The vineyard's wall their wage to win.
Nay, when but one short hour remains Before the sun its goal attains, More loiterers hear the Lord's command And set to work with willing hand.
The steward came at close of day Their wage to reckon and to pay; And they whose toil could scarcely tire, Received a penny for their hire.
But they who the day's burden bore And noonday heat, expected more: And murmur'd that the generous lord To all one penny should accord.
But he replied, "I wrong not you; I give you the full wages due; And why should you my bounty blame, In paying these beyond their claim?"
Lord, to Thy vineyard Thou dost call The least, the youngest of us all: To each Thou dost assign a task, From each some service Thou dost ask.
How kind such feeble hands to use; Such pleasant work I needs must choose: I ask no wages, Lord, from thee, For Thou hast given Thyself for me.
When I remember all Thy grace, I cannot loiter in my place: And when I think of all my sin, What wages can I hope to win?
Thanks, Lord, if yet my years are few, And I retain the early dew: Oh, keep me through the noonday heat, And cheer me with Thy presence sweet.
For if I have Thy presence, Lord, 'Tis an exceeding great reward; And if at last I see Thy face, 'Tis not of merit, but of grace.
And, oh, what will that "penny" be Which Thou wilt then bestow on me? A glorious image it will bear, Thy own dear Self, Lord, will be there!
RICHARD WILTON, M.A.
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 The penny, or denarius, was a silver coin, stamped with the image of the Roman Emperor, and worth about 16 cents of our money. It was a full ordinary day's wage at that time.
THE BARREN FIG-TREE.
In the morning, when Jesus had left Bethany and was coming towards Jerusalem, He was hungry. Seeing a fig-tree afar off, covered with leaves, He came to it, hoping to find some fruit on it. But the tree was a young one, and had not yet commenced to bear fruit. And He found thereon nothing but leaves. Then He said unto it, "Let no fruit grow on thee henceforward for ever." And the fig-tree withered away and was dead from the roots. When the disciples saw it, they marvelled, saying, "How soon the fig-tree is withered away!"
Jesus answered, and said unto them, "Verily I say unto you, if ye have faith and doubt not, ye shall not only do as I have done to this fig-tree, but, also, if ye shall say unto this mountain, 'Be thou removed and be cast into the sea,' it shall be done. And all things, whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer, believe that ye will receive them, and ye shall have them. And when ye are praying, forgive any that have injured you, that your Father also which is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses against Him. But if ye do not forgive, neither will your Father which is in heaven forgive your trespasses."
How strange it seems that Jesus, who was gentle and kind, should pronounce a curse on this fig-tree, and cause it to wither away. Why did He do so? Because He wished to impress upon His disciples the terrible danger of unfruitfulness. If we are the disciples of Jesus, we must bear good fruit; we must be loving, kind, and gentle, and try, like Him, to be always doing good.
THE WICKED HUSBANDMEN.
One day when the priests and elders of the Temple were asking questions of Jesus, He told them this parable.
There was a certain man who had a vineyard which was hedged or walled round, and had a tower. But he was going away into a country far off, so he let the vineyard to a number of husbandmen, or labourers, who were to give him part of the fruit of the vines. When the time had come that the fruit was ripe, he sent his servants to the husbandmen that he might receive his share. But the wicked husbandmen took his servants, and slew one, and beat another, and stoned the third. Then he sent other servants, more than before, but the husbandmen served them as they had done the others. Last of all he sent his own son, saying, "They will reverence my son." But when those wicked men saw him coming, they said among themselves, "This is the heir to all the vineyard; come, let us kill him and seize on his inheritance." So they caught him, and cast him out of the vineyard, and slew him.
Then Jesus said to the priests and elders, "When the Lord of the vineyard cometh, what will he do unto these husbandmen?" And they answered, "He will miserably destroy those wicked men, and will let out his vineyard to others, who shall render him the fruits in their season."
In this parable the owner of the vineyard means God; the vineyard Canaan, and the husbandmen are the Jews, who had promised to obey Him, but had not done so. He had sent His prophets among them, to warn them, but these had been killed. At last He sent His only Son, but they would not own Him as such, and soon they would kill Him. When the priests heard this they knew it referred to them, and they were very angry and would have taken Him and killed Him, but they were afraid of the people, who took Jesus to be a prophet.
THE WEDDING GARMENT.
There was a certain King who gave a great feast upon the occasion of his son's wedding. And he sent out his servants to bring in those that had been invited, but they would not come. Then he sent forth other servants, saying, "Tell them which were bidden, 'Behold, I have prepared my dinner; my oxen and my fatlings are killed, and all things are ready. Come unto the feast.'" But they made light of the message and went their ways, one to his farm, another to his warehouse; others took the servants and slew them.
When the King heard what had been done, he was very angry, and sent out his army to destroy the murderers, and burn up their city. Then said he to the servants, "The wedding is ready, but they which were bidden were not worthy. Go ye therefore into the highways, and all ye shall find, bid them come to the marriage." So they gathered together as many as they could find. And upon each one, as he entered the house, was put a beautiful marriage garment, which the King had prepared. But when the people were all seated, and the King had entered the house, he saw there a man that had not on a wedding garment, and he said unto him, "Friend, how camest thou in hither without a wedding garment?" And the man was speechless, for the garment had been offered to him at first, but he had refused it. Then said the King to the servants, "Bind him hand and foot, and take him away and cast him into outer darkness."
In this parable, the King means God, who gave the feast for His Son, Jesus Christ. Those who were first asked were the Jews, who refused to believe in Christ. Those who were afterwards brought in, signify the people who have since listened to His Word, and believed in Him. The one without the wedding garment is any one that pretends to accept the invitation to be one of God's people, but in his heart does not believe in Christ.
THE FOOLISH VIRGINS.
In certain parts of the East it is the custom for a man when he is married to bring home his bride at night, and for his relatives and friends to go out with lamps and torches and music to meet him.
Ten young women had been invited to meet the bridegroom with their lamps burning and to sit down with him at the wedding-feast. Five of them were wise and five were foolish. The wise ones took a supply of oil in case their lamps should burn out before the bridegroom arrived; the foolish five took no oil but what was in their lamps. But before the bridegroom came they all fell asleep.
At midnight there was a cry, "Behold, the bridegroom cometh; go ye out to meet him." But five lamps had almost burnt out, and the foolish virgins said unto the wise, "Give us of your oil, for our lamps are gone out." But the wise ones answered, "Not so; lest there be not enough for us and for you. Go ye, rather, to them that sell, and buy for yourselves." And while they went to buy, the bridegroom came, and they that were ready went in with him to the marriage-feast, and the door was shut.
Afterwards, came also the other virgins, saying, "Lord, Lord, open the door to us." But he answered and said, "Verily I say unto you, I know you not," and would not open the door to them.
In this parable the bridegroom means Jesus returning to earth, on the Day of Judgment. The ten virgins are the people of this world, some of whom have their hearts full of the love of God and keep their lamps burning with a steady and bright light; that is, they fulfil God's commandments and obey the teachings of Christ. The others have not this love in their hearts, and are not prepared for Christ's coming. Their lamps give out a feeble light and soon will go out.
THE PARABLE OF THE TALENTS
One day Jesus told His disciples this parable or story.
A certain nobleman was called away to a far country to be appointed king of it, and to return after a time. And he called his servants unto him, and charged them with the care of his goods and treasure, giving to each man according to his ability to use the same. To one servant he gave five talents, to another two, and to another only one. And straightway he left them, and departed upon his journey. Then the man that had five talents went and traded with them, and did so well that in time the profits amounted to five talents more, making ten altogether. And he that had received two talents, also traded with his, and added two other talents to them by way of profit. But he that had had but one talent went away and covered it up in a cloth and hid it away.
After a long time the nobleman came back and called his servants to him, and asked them for the treasure he had entrusted to their keeping. And he that had received five talents, brought ten, and said, "Lord, behold, I have gained five other talents beside them." And his lord said, "Well done, good and faithful servant; thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things. Enter thou into the joy of thy lord." And to him that had two talents, and brought back four, the lord said the same words. Then came he that had received but one talent and had hid it; and he said, "Lord, I knew thee that thou art a hard man, reaping where thou hast not sown, and I was afraid, and went and hid thy talent, and lo, here thou hast that which is thine." His lord said unto him, "Thou wicked and slothful servant. Thou knewest that I reaped where I had not sown; thou oughtest therefore to have put my money in the bank, that I might have received mine own with interest for its use. Take therefore the talent from him, and give it unto him that hath ten; and take the unprofitable servant and cast him into the outer darkness."
Now the talent here mentioned was an eastern sum of money (nearly one thousand dollars), but it really means the powers and opportunities for doing good that God has given to all of us. One day we shall all be called upon to give an account of the talents entrusted to our keeping, and woe be to those who have abused their stewardship by hiding their talent away. But those who have done good, according to the power and opportunity given to them, shall be received into everlasting joy by Christ the Lord.
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MAN WITH THE WITHERED HAND.
One Sabbath-day Jesus went into the synagogue, and there He saw a man that had a withered hand. By some means the muscles had lost their power, and he could neither use his hand nor stretch it out. And the Pharisees watched Jesus, to see if He would heal this man on the Sabbath, that they might bring a charge against Him of breaking the law. They asked Him, "Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath-day?" and He replied by asking who among them, if he had a sheep which had fallen into a pit on the Sabbath-day, would not lay hold on it, and lift it out. "How much then is a man better than a sheep? Wherefore it is lawful to do good on the Sabbath-day."
Then said He to the man, "Stretch forth thine hand." And he stretched it forth, and it was made whole and healthy like the other.
Then the Pharisees went out and held a council against Him, to consider how they might destroy Him; but when Jesus knew it, He withdrew Himself from that part, and great multitudes followed Him, and He healed them all.
JESUS ASCENDS TO HEAVEN.
Jesus had been cruelly put to death. His hands, which had been placed on the heads of little children when He blessed them, had been nailed to a cross of wood; and cruel nails had been driven through his feet. And hanging on the cross, Jesus had died. But on the third day He had risen from the tomb, and for forty days He had remained upon the earth, meeting frequently with His disciples. At the end of that time Jesus led the eleven apostles from Jerusalem towards Bethany; and when near that village, and away from the multitude, He spoke to them, promising that they should be made bold by the Holy Spirit, and receive power to witness for Him both to the Jews and Gentiles. Then, the Bible tells us, "He lifted up His hands and blessed them. And it came to pass, while He blessed them, He was parted from them, and carried up into heaven." And as He went up, a cloud received Him out of their sight.
The apostles fell down and worshipped Jesus, looking steadfastly after Him as He went up; and as they did so, two angels in white garments stood by them, and said, "Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? This same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen Him go into heaven." Then the apostles returned to Jerusalem.
Yes, Jesus has ascended to heaven, and now He sits at the right hand of God; but He tells us that He will come again, and take those that love Him to dwell with Him in His glorious home for ever and ever. "I go to prepare a place for you," Jesus says.
THE PHILIPPIAN JAILER.
Paul and Silas were in prison. They had done no wrong, but wicked men had taken them before the magistrates; and the magistrates had caused them to be severely beaten, and afterwards had sent them to prison, where they were securely fastened in an inner dungeon, and their feet made fast in the stocks. This was a most painful position for Paul and Silas. But they were not unhappy. They prayed to God, and sang praises to Him; and they sang so heartily that the other prisoners heard them. It was midnight, and all was dark in the prison. But suddenly there was an earthquake; so that the foundations of the prison were shaken, all the doors were opened, and every one's bonds were loosed. All the prisoners might have run away had they been minded to do so.
The keeper of the prison had been sleeping, but the earthquake awoke him. When he saw the doors open, he supposed that all the prisoners had fled; and knowing how severely he would be punished on that account, he drew his sword to kill himself. Paul knew this, and called out loudly, "Do thyself no harm, for we are all here." Then the keeper, who but a little while before had cruelly treated Paul and Silas, came trembling, and fell down before them, and said, "Sirs, what must I do to be saved?" He was afraid because of his sins; and wanted to know how he might be saved from the fearful consequences of sin. Paul's answer was, "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved." Then Paul and Silas spoke to him about Jesus. He believed, and was baptized; and the next morning the two disciples were set at liberty.
TIMOTHY AND HIS MOTHER EUNICE.
Timothy was a youthful and earnest disciple of Jesus Christ, whom Paul loved dearly. Paul had found him during one of his missionary journeys, and, discovering how highly he was esteemed as a Christian, had selected him as his assistant. Afterward Timothy became Paul's companion in travel, and the first bishop of Ephesus. While Timothy was at Ephesus, Paul wrote two letters to him. They are contained in the Bible, and are called the Epistles to Timothy. In them Paul says many kind and wise things, giving Timothy directions how to act in his high Christian office. But Paul also speaks of Timothy's early days, and of his mother and grandmother. These were both good women, who loved God, and diligently studied the Holy Scriptures. The mother's name was Eunice. She was a Jewess. The grandmother's name was Lois. Both loved the little boy Timothy, or Timotheus as he was called, and they sought to instil into his young mind and heart the love of God and the knowledge of His holy Word. In our picture we see Eunice teaching her son. She has not a bound Bible, but a manuscript, wound round small rollers. From this she reads to Timothy; while Lois, the aged grandmother, sits by.
Paul warned Timothy not to forget the teaching of his good mother and grandmother; and especially to value his knowledge of the Scriptures. Because, said Paul, "they are able to make thee wise unto salvation." Many young folks have good mothers and grandmothers, who love to teach them about Jesus. Are they receiving this teaching as Timothy did, and being made wise unto salvation?
CHRIST BLESSING THE CHILDREN.
Jesus had left Galilee, and was journeying toward Jerusalem, where He was to be put to death. He was in the country beyond Jordan, called Peraea, and had been speaking some very wise words to the Pharisees, and also to His disciples, when some women came to Him, bringing infants and young children that He might put His hands upon them and pray for them. The disciples thinking probably that Jesus, who had so many important things to attend to, would not wish to be troubled by women bringing their children, rebuked them for so doing. But Jesus loved children. So, when He saw the disciples about to send them away, He was displeased; and, calling the disciples to Him, He said, "Suffer little children to come unto Me, and forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of God." Then, we are told, Jesus "took them up in His arms, put His hands upon them, and blessed them." How kind was Jesus! and how willing that the little ones should be brought to Him! And He is the same now. May all our young readers learn to love Him, and find for themselves how willing He is to love and bless them.
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