Cyril of Alexandria, Commentary on Luke (1859) Sermons 124-134 (Luke 18:28-20:18) pp. 573-623.
18:28-30. And Peter said, Lo we have left all, and followed You. And He said to them. Verily I say to you. There is no man that has left house, or wife, or brethren, or parents, or children, for the kingdom of God's sake, who shall not receive manifold more in this present time, and in the world to come eternal life.
HE Who is the fountain of sacred doctrines causes here also a healthful stream to flow for us, and the very season, as it seems, bids us say to those who search into the divine words, "You who thirst, come to the waters." For there is set before you that you may partake thereof "the torrent of pleasure,'' even Christ. For by this name the prophet David makes mention of Him, saying to God the Father in heaven; "But the sons of men shall trust in the protection of Your wings: they shall be satisfied with the fatness of Your house, and You shall make them drink of the torrent of Your pleasure."
And what the stream is which here gushes forth for us from Him, the purport of the evangelic lessons now set before us clearly teaches: "For Peter, it says, said to Him, Lo! we have left all and followed You." And to this another Evangelist, Matthew, adds, "What then shall we have?" Let us however, before proceeding to any of the other points, first enquire into the occasion which brought the discourse to this present subject.
When therefore our common Saviour Christ said to one of the chiefs of the synagogue of the Jews, "Go, sell all that you have, and give to the poor, and you shall have treasure in heaven, and come, follow Me," the disciples ask, What they shall have from God who keep this precept: and usefully they take upon themselves, as representing a class, the outline of the matter. But, as I imagine, to this some may reply, 'What after all had the disciples given up? for they were men who gained the necessaries of life by their sweat and labour, being by trade fishermen, who at most perhaps owned somewhere a boat and nets: who had neither well-built houses, nor any other possessions. What therefore had they left, or for what |574 did they ask of Christ a recompense? What therefore do we answer to this? Chiefly, that for this very reason they made this most necessary enquiry. For inasmuch as they possessed nothing but what was trifling and of slight value, they would learn in what manner God will requite, and gladden with His gifts those who likewise have left but little for the sake of the kingdom of God, for the desire, that is, of being counted worthy of the kingdom of heaven for their love's sake towards Him. For the rich man, as one who has disregarded much, will confidently expect recompense: but he who possessed but little, and abandoned it, how was it not right to ask, what hopes he might entertain? For this reason, as representing those in like condition with themselves, in respect of their having left but little, they say, "Behold, we have left all and followed You."
And it is further necessary to observe this also; that, correctly considered, the pain of abandoning is the same whether it be of much or little. For come let us see the real import of the matter by a trifling example. Supposing that two men had to stand naked, and in so doing the one stripped himself of raiment of great price, while the other put off only what was cheap and easy of acquisition, would not the pain of the nakedness be equal in both cases? What possible doubt can there be upon this point? As far therefore as regards obedience and good-will, those must be placed upon an equal footing with the rich, who though differently circumstanced, yet practised equal readiness, and willingly bore the selling of what they had. And the very wise Paul also takes up their cause, where he thus wrote: "For if there be a ready mind, it is accepted according to what a man has, and not according to what he has not." The enquiry therefore of the holy apostles was not an unreasonable one.
What then said Christ to them, Who does not discriminate between rich and poor? "Verily I say to you, There is no man who has left houses or brethren, or children, or parents, for the kingdom of God's sake, who shall not receive manifold more in this present time, and in that which is to come eternal life." Worthy of God is the declaration, and holy and admirable the decree. For observe how He raises up all who hear to an assured hope, promising not merely the fulness of the bounteous gift which is bestowed upon the saints, but confirming |575 His promise by an oath, by prefixing to His declaration the word Verily, which, so to speak, performs the part of an oath. And not only does He include within His promises those who disregard wealth, but those also, He says, who leave father or mother, or wife or brethren, for the kingdom of God's sake, shall receive manifold more in this world, and in that which is to come eternal life.
But that those who have led a virtuous life necessarily gain the life eternal, there can be no doubt whatsoever: some inquiry is however necessary, in the first place, as to who they are who leave father and mother, and wife, and brethren, and houses: and secondly, a still more exact examination of the way in which those who thus act shall receive manifold more in this world.
Men therefore leave father and mother, and wife and brethren, and oftentimes count for nought the natural affection due to the ties of kindred, for love's sake to Christ. And in what manner they do so, He teaches us by saying, at one time, "He that loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me; and he that loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me:" and at another time again, "Think not that I am come to send peace on earth; I tell you nay, I am not come to send peace, but division: for I am come to divide a man from his father, and the daughter from her mother, and the daughter-in-law from her mother-in-law." For when the divine message of the gospel is catching as in a net the whole world to faith in Him, and raising it up to the light of the true knowledge of God, there are those who would readily enter in, did they not suffer from an injurious shame, as being afraid either on their father's account, or their mother's, and taking too much into consideration their anger or their sorrow. For if these are idolaters, they will not consent that their sons or daughters should yield themselves to Christ's service, and abandon the error in which they have been brought up, and which has become habitual with them. And often when the sons are unbelieving and ill-disposed, their fathers have not the courage to vex them by hastening to the faith, and seizing the salvation which is by Christ. And the same explanation may be given respecting brethren with brethren, and the daughter-in-law with her mother-in-law, and the latter |576 with the former. But those who are strong in mind, and prefer nothing to the love of Christ, eagerly grasp the faith, and earnestly endeavour to gain admission into His household hy a spiritual relationship, heeding nothing the wars, or rather divisions which will follow, with those who are their kindred according to the flesh. And in this way then men leave house and kindred for Christ's sake, that they may win His Name, being called Christians; or rather for His glory's sake, for frequently His Name means His glory.
But next let us see, in what way one who leaves house or father or mother or brethren, or it may be his wife even, receives manifold more in this present time. Shall he become the husband of many wives, or find on earth many fathers instead of one, and thus have his earthly kindred greatly multiplied? This is not what we say, but rather, that abandoning these carnal and temporal things, he shall receive what is far more valuable, and so to speak, manifold times as much as what was disregarded by him. For let us take, if you please, the holy apostles as our examples; and we say then of them, that they were men not distinguished in worldly station, nor skilled in eloquence, nor did they possess a polished tongue, or elegance of words; on the contrary they were untrained in speech, and by trade fishermen, who gathered by their labour the means of life: but whatever they had they left, that they might be the constant attendants and ministers of Christ; nor could any thing hinder them, or draw them away to other occupations, or worldly pursuits. Having left them but little, what did they gain? They were filled with the Holy Spirit: they received power over unclean spirits, to cast them out: they wrought miracles: the shadow of Peter healed those that were sick: they became illustrious among mankind everywhere: foremost in glory; worthy of emulation, and renowned, both while they were still living, and afterwards as well. For who knows not those who taught the world Christ's mystery? Who wonders not at the crown of glory that was bestowed upon them?
But perchance you say, 'Shall we all of us therefore |577 become like them?' To this we answer, that each one of us also who have believed in Christ and loved His Name, if he have left a house shall receive the mansions that are above: and if he have abandoned a father, shall gain that Father Who is in heaven. If he be abandoned by his brethren, yet will Christ admit him to brotherhood with Him. If he leave a wife, he shall have as the inmate of His house Wisdom who comes down from above, from God. For it is written, "Say to Wisdom that she is your sister, and make Understanding your friend." By her shall you bring forth beautiful spiritual fruits, by means of which you shall be made a partaker of the hope of the saints, and join the company of the angels. And though you leave your mother, you shall find another incomparably more excellent,----even "the Jerusalem that is above, which is free, and our mother." How are not these things manifold times more than those that were left? For they were but transitory, and rapidly do they waste, and lightly fail us utterly! for as the dew, and like a dream, so they pass away. But he who is counted worthy of these things becomes even in this world illustrious and enviable, being adorned with glory both before God and men. Manifold more therefore are these things than all that is earthly and carnal, and the Giver of them is our common Lord and Saviour: by Whom and with Whom to God the Father be praise and dominion, with the Holy Spirit, for ever and ever, Amen. |578
18:31-34. And He took the twelve, and said to them, Behold, we go up to Jerusalem, and all those things shall be accomplished which are written in the prophets about the Son of man. For He shall be delivered up to the heathen, and shall be mocked, and shamefully entreated, and spit upon. And when they have scourged Him, they shall put Him to death: and on the third day He shall rise again. And they understood none of these things, and this word was hid from them, and they knew not what was said.
THE blessed prophet David has spoken one of those things which are of great importance for our benefit, especially as it refers to what is of constant occurrence, so to speak, to men's minds. "For I was prepared, he says, and was not troubled." For whatever happens unexpectedly, whenever it is of a serious character, exposes even courageous persons to agitation and alarm, and sometimes to unendurable terrors. But when it has been mentioned before that it will happen, its attack is easily averted. And this, I think, is the meaning of, "I was prepared, and was not troubled."
For this reason the divinely-inspired Scripture very fitly says to those who would attain to glory by leading a course of holy conduct, "My son, if you draw near to serve the Lord, prepare yourself for temptation. Direct your heart, and endure." For it does not so speak in order to produce in men an abject slothfulness which will win no reward, but that they may know that by practising patience and endurance, they will overcome the temptations which happen to all who would live virtuously, and prove superior to every thing that could harass them. And so here also the Saviour of all, to prepare beforehand the disciples' minds, tells them that He shall suffer the passion upon the cross, and death in the flesh, as soon as He has gone up to Jerusalem. And he added too. that He should also rise, wiping out the pain, and obliterating the shame of the passion by the greatness of the miracle. For |579 glorious was it, and worthy of God, to be able to sever the bonds of death, and hasten back to life. For testimony is borne Him by the resurrection from the dead, according to the expression of the wise Paul, that He is God and the Son of God.
It is necessary, however, for us to explain what the benefit was which the holy apostles received from having learnt the approach of those things which wore about to happen. By this means then He cuts away beforehand both unseemly thoughts and all occasion for stumbling. How, you ask, or in what way? The blessed disciples then, I answer, had followed Christ, our common Saviour, in His circuit through Judaea: they had seen that there was nothing, however ineffable, and worthy of all wonder, which He could not accomplish. For He called from their graves the dead when they had already decayed: to the blind He restored sight: and wrought also other works, worthy of God and glorious. They had heard Him say, "Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing? and not one of them falls to the ground without your Father's knowledge." And now they who had seen these things, and been emboldened by His words to courageousness, were about to behold Him enduring the ridicule of the Jews, crucified, and made a mock of, and receiving even buffets from the servants. It was possible therefore, that being offended because of these things, they might think thus within themselves, and say: He Who is so great in might, and possesses such godlike authority; Who performs miracles by His nod alone; Whose word is almighty, so that even from their very graves He raises the dead; Who says too that His Father's providence reaches even to the birds; Who is the Only-begotten, and first-born: how did He not know what was about to happen? Is He too taken in the nets of the foe, and made the prey of His enemies, Who even promised that He would save us?. Is He then disregarded and despised of that Father, without Whose will not even a tiny bird is taken? These things perchance the holy apostles might have said or thought among themselves. And what would have been the consequence? They too, like the rest of the Jewish multitude, would have become unbelieving, and ignorant of the truth. |580
That they might therefore be aware both that He foreknew His passion, and though it was in his power easily to escape, that yet of His own will He advanced to meet it, He told them beforehand what would happen. In saying then, "Behold, we go up to Jerusalem," He, so to speak, testified urgently and commanded them to remember what had been foretold. And He added necessarily, that all these things had been foretold by the holy prophets. For Isaiah, as in the person of Christ, says; "I have given My back to scourgings, and My cheeks to buffetings: and My face I have not turned away from the shame of spittings." And again, in another place, He says of Him, "As a sheep He was led to the slaughter, and was silent, as a lamb before its shearer." And again, "All we like sheep have gone astray: every one has gone astray in his path: and the Lord has delivered Him up because of our sins." And again the blessed David also in the twenty-first 1 Psalm, painting as it were beforehand the sufferings upon the cross, has set before us Jesus speaking as one that lo! already was hanging upon the tree, "But I am a worm, and not a man: the reproach of men, and a thing rejected of the people. All those that have seen Me, have derided Me: they have spoken with their lips, and shaken their heads; He trusted in the Lord: let Him deliver Him." For some of the Jews did shake their wicked heads at Him, deriding Him, and saying, "If You are the Son of God, come down now from the cross, and we will believe You." And again He said, "They parted My garments among them, and upon My vesture they cast the lot." And again in another place He says of those that crucified Him, "They gave gall for My food, and for My thirst they made Me drink vinegar."
Of all therefore that was about to happen to Him, nothing was unforetold, God having so ordered it by His Providence for our use, that when the time came for it to happen, no one might be offended. For it was in the power of one Who knew beforehand what was about to happen, to refuse to suffer |581 altogether. No man then compelled Him by force, nor again were the multitudes of the Jews stronger than His might: but He submitted to suffer, because He knew that His passion would be for the salvation of the whole world. For He endured indeed the death of the flesh, but rose again, having trampled upon corruption, and by His resurrection from the dead, He planted in the bodies of mankind the life that springs from Him. For the whole nature of man in Him hastened back to incorruption. And of this the wise Paul bears witness, saying, at one time, "For since by man was death, by man was also the resurrection of the dead." And again. "For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all live." Let not those therefore who crucified Him indulge in pride: for He remained not among the dead, seeing that as God He possesses an irresistible might: but rather let them lament for themselves, as being guilty of the crime of murdering the Lord. This the Saviour also is found saying to the women who were weeping for Him, "Daughters of Jerusalem, weep not for Me, but weep for yourselves, and for your children." For it was not right that they should lament for Him, Who was about to arise from the dead, destroying thereby corruption, and shaking death's dominion; but more fitly, on the contrary, would they lament over their own afflictions.
The Saviour of all then declared these things beforehand to the holy apostles: "but they, it says, understood not what was said, and the word was hidden from them." For as yet they knew not accurately what had been before proclaimed by the holy prophets. For even He Who was first among the disciples heard the Saviour once say that He should be crucified, and die; and arise: but in that he did not as yet understand the depth of the mystery, he resisted it, saying, "That be far from You, Lord: this shall not be to You." But he was rebuked for so speaking: because he as yet knew not the purport of the Scripture inspired of God relating thereunto. But when Christ arose from the dead, He opened their eyes, as another of the holy Evangelists wrote; for they wore enlightened, being enriched with the abundant participation of the Spirit. For they who once understood not the words of the prophets, exhorted those who believed in Christ to study |582 their words, saying, "We too have a more sure prophetic word, whereunto you do well to look, as to a lamp that shines in a dark place, until the day shine forth, and the light-star arise in your hearts." And this has also reached its fulfilment: for we have been enlightened in Christ; by Whom and with Whom to God the Father be praise and dominion, with the Holy Spirit, for ever and ever, Amen. |583
18:35-43. And it came to pass, that as He drew near to Jericho, a certain blind man sat by the way side begging: and hearing a multitude passing by, he asked what it meant. And they told him that Jesus of Nazareth passes by. And he cried, saying, Jesus, Son of David, have mercy upon me. And they who went before rebuked him that he should hold his peace. But he cried out so much the more, Son of David, have mercy upon me. And Jesus stood still, and commanded that they should bring him to Him. And when he drew near, He asked him. What do you want me to do for you? And he said, Lord, that I may receive my sight. And Jesus said to him, Receive your sight: your faith has made you live. And immediately he received his sight, and followed Him, glorifying God. And all the people when they saw it gave glory to God.
WHOSOEVER are yet without understanding, and accept not the faith in Christ, may justly have that said to them which was spoken by the voice of David, "Come and see the works of God, the miracles that He has put upon earth." For He wrought miracles after no human fashion, though He was in appearance a man such as we are; but with godlike dignity rather, for He was God in form like to us, since He changed not from being what He was, as the purport of the passage now read from the Gospels proves to us. "For the Saviour, it says, was passing by. And a blind man cried out, saying, Son of David have mercy on me." Let us then examine the expression of the man who had lost his sight; for it is not a thing to pass by without enquiry, since possibly the examination of what was said will beget something highly advantageous for our benefit.
In what character then does he address to Him his prayer? Is it as to a mere man, according to the babbling of the Jews, who stoned Him with stones, saying in their utter folly, "For a good work we do not stone You, but for blasphemy; because |584 that You being a man make Thyself God?" But must not that blind man have understood that the sight of the blind cannot be restored by human means, but requires, on the contrary, a divine power, and an authority such as God only possesses? for with God nothing whatsoever is impossible. He drew near to Him therefore as to the Omnipotent God; but how then does he call Him the Son of David? What therefore can one answer to this? The following is perhaps, as I think, the explanation. As he had been brought up in Judaism, and was by birth of that race, the predictions contained in the law and the holy prophets concerning Christ of course had not escaped his knowledge. He had heard them chant that passage in the book of the Psalms: "The Lord has sworn the truth to David, and will not reject it, that of the fruit of your loins will I set upon your throne." He knew also that the blessed prophet Isaiah had said, "And there shall spring forth a shoot from the root of Jesse, and from his root shall a flower grow up." And again this as well; "Behold, a virgin shall conceive and bring forth a son, and they shall call His Name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us." As one therefore who already believed that the Word, being God, had of His own will submitted to be born in the flesh of the holy virgin, he draws near to Him as to God, and says, "Have mercy upon me, Son of David." For Christ bears witness that this was his state of mind in offering his supplication, by saying to him, "Your faith has saved you."
Let those then be ashamed who imagine themselves not to be blind, but who, as the wise Peter says, are "sightless, and have darkness in their mind." For they divide into two the one Lord Jesus Christ: even Him Who is the Word of the Father, [but 2 Who became a man, and was made flesh. For they deny that He Who was born of the seed of David was really the Son of God the Father: for so, they say, to be born is proper to man only, rejecting in their great ignorance His flesh,] and treating with contempt that precious and ineffable dispensation by which we have been redeemed: and even |585 perhaps foolishly speaking against the Only-begotten, because He emptied Himself, and descended to the measure of human nature, and was obedient to the Father even to death, that by His death in the flesh He might abolish death, might wipe out corruption, and put away the sin of the world. Let such imitate this blind man: for he drew near to Christ the Saviour of all as to God, and called Him Lord and Son of the blessed David. He testifies also to His glory by asking of Him an act such as God only can accomplish. Let them wonder also at the constancy wherewith he confessed Him. For there were some who rebuked him when confessing his faith; but he did not give way, nor cease his crying, but bade the ignorance of those who were rebuking him be still. He was justly therefore honoured by Christ: for he was called by Him, and commanded to draw near. Understand from this, my beloved, that faith sets us also in Christ's presence, and so brings us to God, as for us to be even counted worthy of His words. For when the blind man was brought to Him, He asked him, saying, "What do you want me to do for you? Was his request then unknown to Him? For was it not plain that he sought deliverance from the malady that afflicted him? How can there be any doubt of this? He asked him therefore purposely, that those who were standing by, and accompanying Him, might learn, that it was not money he sought, but rather that regarding Him as God, he asked of Him a divine act, and one appropriate solely to the nature that transcends all.
When then he had declared the nature of his request, saying, "Lord, that I may receive my sight:" then, yes! then the words that Christ spoke were a rebuke of the unbelief of the Jews: for with supreme authority He said, "Receive your sight." Wonderful is the expression! right worthy of God, and transcending the bounds of human nature! Which of the holy prophets ever spoke ought such as this? or used words of so great authority? For observe that He did not ask of another the power to restore vision to him who was deprived of sight, nor did He perform the divine miracle as the effect of |586 prayer to God, but attributed it rather to His own power, and by His almighty will wrought whatever He would. "Receive, said He, your sight;" and the word was light to him that was blind: for it was the word of Him Who is the true light.
And now that he was delivered from his blindness, did he neglect the duty of loving Christ? Certainly not: "For he followed Him, it says, offering Him glory as to God." He was set free therefore from double blindness: for not only did he escape from the blindness of the body, but also as well from that of the mind and heart: for he would not have glorified Him as God, had he not possessed spiritual vision. And further, he became the means of others also giving Him glory, for all the people, it says, gave glory [to 3 God. It is plain therefore from this, that great is the guilt of the scribes and Pharisees; for He rebukes them for refusing to accept Him though working miracles, while the multitude glorified Him as God because of the deeds which He wrought. No such praise is offered on their part: yes, rather] the miracle is made an occasion of insult and accusation; for they said that the Lord wrought it by Beelzebub: and by thus acting they became the cause of the destruction of the people under their rule. Therefore the Lord protested against their wickedness by the voice of the prophet, saying; "Alas for the shepherds, who destroy and scatter the sheep of My inheritance." And again; "The shepherds have become foolish, and have not sought the Lord: therefore did none of the flock understand, and were scattered.'''
Such then was their state: but we are under the rule of the chief Shepherd of all, even Christ: by Whom and with Whom to God the Father be praise and dominion, with the Holy Spirit, for ever and over, Amen. |587
19:1-10. [The first half of this Sermon has not survived in the Syriac. The following fragments are from Mai, p. 385. and Cramer, p. 137.]
19:2. Behold a man named Zacchaeus.
Zacchaeus was chief of the publicans, a man entirely abandoned to covetousness, and whose sole object was the increase of his gains: for such was the practice of the publicans, though Paul calls it "idolatry," possibly as being fit only for those who have no knowledge of God. And as they shamelessly made open profession of this vice, the Lord very justly joined them with the harlots, thus saying to the chiefs of the Jews, "The harlots and the publicans go before you into the kingdom of God." But Zacchaeus continued not among their number, but was counted worthy of mercy at Christ's hands: for He it is Who calls near those who are afar off, and gives light to those who are in darkness.
But come then, and let us see what was the manner of Zacchaeus' conversion. He desired to see Jesus, and climbed therefore into a sycamore tree, and so a seed of salvation sprang up within him. And Christ saw this with the eyes of Deity: and therefore looking up, He saw him also with the eyes of the manhood, and as it was His purpose for all men to be saved, He extends His gentleness to him, and encouraging him, says, "Come down quickly." For he had sought |588 to see Him, but the multitude prevented him, not so much that of the people, as of his sins; and he was little of stature, not merely in a bodily point of view, but also spiritually: and in no other way could he see Him, unless he were raised up from the earth, and climbed into the sycamore, by which Christ was about to pass. Now the story contains in it an enigma: for in no other way can a man see Christ and believe in Him, except by mounting up into the sycamore, by rendering foolish his members which are upon the earth, fornication, uncleanness, &c. And Christ, it says, was about to pass by the sycamore: for having taken for His path the conversation which is by the law, that is, the fig tree, He chose the foolish things of the world, that is, the cross and death. And every one who takes up his cross, and follows Christ's conversation, is saved, performing the law with understanding, which so becomes a fig tree not bearing figs but follies; for the secret conduct of the faithful seems to the Jews to be folly, consisting as it does in circumcision from vice, and idleness from bad practice, though they be not circumcised in the flesh, nor keep the |589 sabbath. He knew therefore that he was prepared for obedience; and fervent for faith, and ready to change from vice to virtue; wherefore also He calls him, and he will leave (the fig tree) to gain Him. And with haste he came down, and received Him joyfully, not only because he saw Him as he wished, but because he had also been called by Him, and because he received Him (to lodge with him), which he never could have expected.
19:5. Zacchaeus, come down quickly: for to-day I must abide at your house.
This was an act of divine foreknowledge; for He well knew what would happen. He saw the man's soul prepared most readily to choose a holy life, and converted him therefore to piety. [The Syriac recommences] The man therefore received Jesus joyfully: and this was the commencement of his turning himself to good, of his departure from his former faults, and of his manfully betaking himself to a better course.
But perchance some one possibly may say to our common Saviour Christ, 'What do You, O Lord? Go You to lodge with Zacchaeus? and deign You to abide with the chief of the publicans? He has not yet washed away the stain of his greedy love of lucre: he is still sick with covetousness, the mother of all crimes: still full of the blame of rapine and extortion.' But yes, He says, I indeed know this, in that I am God by nature, and see the ways of every individual upon earth. And more than this, I know also things to come. I have called him to repentance, because he is ready thereto: and though men murmur, and blame My gentleness, facts themselves shall prove that they are wrong. "For Zacchaeus, it says, stood up, and said to the Lord, Behold, the half of whatever I possess I give to the poor, and if I have defrauded any man, I make fourfold restoration."
You behold his repentance; his rapid change to a better course; his haste to piety; the bountifulness of his love for the poor. He who lately was a publican, or rather the chief of the publicans, given up to covetousness, and set upon gain, at once becomes merciful, and devoted to charity. He promises that he will distribute his wealth to those who are |590 in need, that he will make restoration 4 to those who have been defrauded: and he who was the slave of avarice, makes himself poor, and ceases to care for gains.
Let not the Jewish multitudes therefore murmur when Christ saves sinners; but let them answer us this. Would they have physicians succeed in effecting cures when they visit the sick? Do they praise them when they are able to deliver men from cruel ulcers, or do they blame them, and praise those who are unskilful in their art? But, as I suppose, they will give the sentence of superiority in favour of those who arc skilful in benefiting such as suffer from diseases. Why therefore do they blame Christ, if when Zacchaeus was, so to say, fallen and buried in spiritual maladies, He raised him from the pitfalls of destruction?
And to teach them this He says, "To-day there is salvation for this house, in that he also is a son of Abraham:" for where Christ enters, there necessarily is also salvation. May He therefore also be in us: and He is in us when we believe: for He dwells in our hearts by faith, and we are His abode. It would have been better then for the Jews to have rejoiced because Zacchaeus was wonderfully saved, for he too was counted among the sons of Abraham, to whom God promised salvation in Christ by the holy prophets, saying, "There shall come a Saviour from Zion, and He shall take away iniquities from Jacob, and this is my covenant with them, when I will bear their sins."
Christ therefore arose, to deliver the inhabitants of the earth from their sins, and to seek them that were lost, and to save them that had perished. For this is His office, and, so to say, the fruit of His godlike gentleness. Of this will he also count all those worthy who have believed in Him: by Whom and with Whom to God the Father be praise and dominion, with the Holy Spirit for ever and ever, Amen. |591
19:11-27. And as they hear these things, He added and spoke a parable, because He was nigh to Jerusalem, and they thought that the kingdom of God was about immediately to be manifested. He said therefore, A certain nobleman went into a far country, to receive for himself a kingdom, and to return. And when he had called ten of his servants, he gave them ten minas 5, and said to them, Traffic until I come. But his citizens hated him, and sent an embassy after him, saying, We will not have this man to reign over us. And it came to pass that when he had received the kingdom and returned, he commanded them to call to him those servants, to whom he had given the money, that he might know what they had gained by trading. And the first came saying, Lord, your mina has gained ten minas more. And he said to him, Well, you good servant: because you have been faithful in a little, you shall have authority over ten cities. And the second came, saying, Lord, your mina has gained five minas. And he said also to him, And you shall be over five cities. And the other came, saying, Lord, behold your mina that I had, laid up in a napkin. For I was afraid of you, because you art a hard man; because you take up what you did not lay down, and reap what you did not sow. And he said to him, Out of your mouth will I judge you, you wicked servant. You knew that I am a hard man; that I take up what I did not I lay down, and reap what I did not sow. Why did you not give my money to the table [of the moneychanger], and I on my return should have exacted it with its usury. And he said to those that stood before him, Take from him the mina, and give it to him that has ten minas. And they said to him, Lord, he has ten minas! For I say to you, that to every one that has shall be given; but from him that has not, |592 even that which he has shall be taken away from him. But these my enemies, who did not want me to reign over them, bring them hither and slay them before me.
APPROACH yet once again, that opening widely the eye of the mind, we may receive the light of the sacred doctrines, which Christ richly sheds on those who love Him. For He also is the true light, 'Who enlightens angels, and principalities, and thrones and dominions, and even the holy seraphim, and also shines into the hearts of those that fear Him. Let us ask therefore the illumination which He bestows, that understanding exactly the force of the parable set before us, we may store up in our minds as a spiritual treasure the benefit which it offers us.
The scope therefore of the parable briefly represents the whole purport of the dispensation that was given to us, and of the mystery of Christ from the beginning even to the end. For the Word being God became man: but even though He was made in the likeness of sinful flesh, and on this account is also called a servant, yet He was and is free born, by His being ineffably begotten of the Father:----yes! and He is God also, transcending all in nature and in glory, and surpassing the things of our estate, or rather even the whole creation, by His incomparable fulness. The man therefore is freeborn, as being the Son of God: and not as we are called to this appellation by His goodness and love to mankind, but because it belongs to Him by nature, both to be of the Father by generation, and also to transcend every thing that is made. When then the Word, Who was in the likeness of, and equal with the Father, was made like to us, "He became obedient to death, and the death of the cross: and therefore, God also, it says, has highly exalted Him, and given Him a Name that is above every name: that at the Name of Jesus Christ every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and of those under the earth; and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father, Amen." Did the Father therefore give the Name Which is above every |593 name to the Son as one Who is not God by nature? And how then, if this be true, has there not been a new God manifested to us? And yet the sacred Scripture cries aloud, "There shall no new God be in you: neither shall you worship any strange God." But He would be different and alien from God, were He not of Him by nature.
The Son therefore certainly is God by nature: and how then did the Father give Him that Name which is above every name! To this we say, that when He was flesh, that is, man like to us, He took the name of a servant, and assumed our poverty and low estate: but when He had finished the mystery of the dispensation in the flesh, He was raised to the glory that belonged to Him by nature; not as to something unwonted and strange, and that accrued to Him from without, and was given Him from another, but rather as to that which was His own. For He spoke to God the Father in heaven, "Father, glorify You Me with the glory which I had with You before the world was." For existing before the ages, and before the worlds, as one That was of God, and was God, He was clothed with the glory which belongs to the Godhead; and when He became a man, as I said, He endured neither mutation nor change, but continued rather in that state in which He had constantly existed, and such as the Father was Who begot Him, that is to say, like Him in every thing. For He is also "the image of His person," Who by right of His nature possesses every thing that He is Who fathered Him, by being, I mean, of the selfsame substance, and of an equality admitting of no variation, and of a similarity to Him in every thing. Being therefore by nature God, He is said to have received of the Father the Name which is above every name, when He had become man, that He might be believed in as God and the King of all, even in the flesh, that was united to Him.
But when He had endured for our sakes the passion upon the cross, and by the resurrection of His body from the dead had abolished death, He ascended to the Father, and became as a man journeying to a far country: for heaven is a different country from earth,----and He ascended that He might receive for Himself a kingdom. Here again remember, |594 I pray, the blessed Paul, who says, "That we must destroy reasonings, and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, and lead captive every thought to the obedience of Christ." For how does He Who reigns over all with the Father ascend to Him to receive a kingdom? I answer, that the Father gives this also to the Son in respect of His having become man. For when He ascended into heaven, He sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high, henceforth expecting until His enemies are put under His feet. For it was said to Him by the Father, "Sit at My right hand, until I place Your enemies as the footstool for Your feet."
"But his citizens, it says, hated him." And similarly Christ reproaches the Jewish multitudes, saying, "If I had not done among them the works which no one else has done, they had not had sin: but now they have both seen and hated both Me and My Father." They would not have Him reign over them: and yet the holy prophets were constantly uttering predictions of Christ as of a King. For one of them even said, "Rejoice greatly, daughter of Zion, for lo! your King comes to you, just, and a Saviour; He is meek, and riding upon an ass, and upon a new foal." And the blessed Isaiah says of Him and of the holy apostles, "Behold a just king shall reign, and princes shall rule with judgment." And again, Christ Himself has somewhere said by the voice of the Psalmist, "But I have been appointed King by Him upon Zion, His holy mount, and I will declare the commandment of the Lord."
They then denied His kingdom: for when they drew near to Pilate saying, "Away with Him, away with Him, crucify Him," he asked them, or rather said to them in derision, "Shall I crucify your king?" And they answering with wicked words, said, "We have no king but Caesar." Having denied therefore the kingdom of Christ, they fell under the dominion of Satan, and brought upon themselves the yoke of sin, which cannot be thrown off. For they would not have their neck free, though Christ invited them thereunto, saying, that "Every one that does sin is the slave of sin: but the slave does not continue in the house for ever; the Son abides for ever: if therefore the Son make you free, you will become |595 truly free." And again, "If you abide in My Word, you are truly My disciples. And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall set you free." But Israel in its madness was not open to instruction, and therefore it has continued in slavery, because it refused to know Christ, Who makes free.
And thus far I will proceed on the present occasion, reserving for some other time the consideration of the rest of the parable; lest too long a discourse be found both fatiguing to him who speaks, and wearisome to those who hear. And may He Who is the Bestower and Giver of all good bless you all, even Christ: by Whom and with Whom to God the Father be praise and dominion, with the Holy Spirit, for ever and ever, Amen. |596
THE SAME SUBJECT CONTINUED.
MEN who are in debt run away from their creditors, because they know them to be importunate. But not so with me; for I have come to pay my debt, and to fulfil what I promised: and I rather pursue after my creditors than am pursued by them. What therefore is that which I promised, or what is the debt? At our last meeting then, a long parable having been read to us, we completed our exposition only of a certain portion of it, and reserved the remainder for this our holy meeting. And the parable was as follows; "A certain nobleman went into a far country to receive for himself a kingdom, and to return. And when he had called ten of his servants, he gave them ten minas, and said to them, Traffic until I come. But his citizens hated him, and sent an embassy after him, saying, We will not have this man to reign over us." And moreover to this He added, that when the nobleman returned after he had received the kingdom, he demanded of those servants to whom he had distributed the talents an account of their trafficking.
Now in our previous exposition we reined in our words, which, so to speak, were at full speed, at the sentence "but his citizens hated him: and would not have him reign over them." Now then I shall address you upon those servants who had been entrusted by their Lord with the minas; enquiring both who they were that traded and therefore were honoured; and who, on the other hand, is signified by that indolent and sluggish servant, who hid the talent, and added nothing thereunto, and thereby brought upon himself severe condemnation.
The Saviour therefore distributes to those who believe in Him a variety of divine gifts: for this we affirm to be the meaning of the talent. And great indeed is the difference between these [who receive the talents], and those who have even completely denied His kingdom. For they are rebels, |597 who throw off the yoke of His sceptre: while the others arc invested with the glory of serving Him. As faithful servants therefore they are entrusted with their Lord's wealth, that gaining something by trafficking therewith, they may earn the praises due to faithful service, and also be accounted worthy of those honours which abide for ever.
The manner therefore of the distribution and who the persons are, and what the talents signify which He distributes,----for He continues to distribute even to this day,----the sacred Scripture clearly shows. For the blessed Paul has said; "There are distributions of gifts, but the same Spirit: and there are distributions of ministries, but the same Lord: and there are distributions of things to be done, but the same God Who works all in every man." And subsequently, explaining what he said, he further states the kinds of the gifts, as follows; "For to one is given the word of wisdom: and to another the word of knowledge: and to another faith: and to another gifts of healing:" and so on. The diversity therefore of the gifts is made plain in these words.
But next I think that I ought to mention who they are who have been entrusted by Christ with these gifts, according to the measure of each one's readiness and disposition. For He knows whatsoever is in us, in that He is very God, Who spies the reins and hearts. Let us notice, however, that another Evangelist is aware of a difference in the amount of the distribution that was made of the talents. "For to one, he says, He gave five talents; and to another two, and to an-other one" You see that the distribution was made suitably to the measure of each one's faculties. And as to those who were entrusted with them, come, and let us declare who they are to the best of our ability. They are then those who are "perfect in mind, to whom also strong meat is fitting, and whose intellectual senses are exercised for the discerning of good and evil." They are those who are skilled in instructing rightly, and acquainted with the sacred doctrines: who know how to direct both themselves and others to every better work: such, in short, as above all others the wise disciples were. And |598 again, next to these come such as succeeded to their ministry, or who hold it at this day, even the holy teachers, who stand at the head of the holy churches: who are the rulers of the nations, and know how to order to every thing that is useful those who arc subject to them. Upon these the Saviour bestows a diversity of divine gifts, that they may be "lights in the world, holding the word of life:" and they, by admonishing the people under their charge, and giving them such counsel as is useful for life, and rendering them steadfast, and of an upright and blameless faith, gain by traffic to their talent, and seek spiritual increase. Greatly blessed are they, and win the portion that becomes the saints. For when the nobleman, even Christ, shall have returned after he has received the kingdom, they will be accounted worthy of praises, and rejoice in surpassing honours. For having multiplied the talent tenfold, or fivefold, by winning many men, they will be set over ten or five cities; that is, they will again be rulers, not merely over those whom they ruled before, but even also over many others. For on this account we find the saints, by the voice of the Psalmist, extolling and making the praises of their gratitude mount up to Christ, Who crowns them; and saying, "He has subjected the Gentiles to us, and nations under our feet." And that it is the practice and earnest purpose of the saints to make those who are taught by them partakers of the grace given them by Christ, any one may learn from the message which the blessed Paul sent to certain, saying, "For I desired to see you, that I might give you some spiritual gift, that you may be established." And he testifies also to his disciple Timothy, "Despise not the gift that is in you, which was given you by the laying on of my hands." For he wished him to excel in his teaching. And the Saviour Himself also somewhere said in another parable, "Who therefore is the faithful and wise servant, whom his lord shall set over his household, to give them their food at its season? Blessed is that servant, whom his lord when he comes shall find so doing. Verily I say to you, that he will set him over all that he has." And what is the meaning of his giving his follow servants food, except it be the distributing to the people committed to his charge the benefit of |599 spiritual instruction, and the satisfying, so to speak, with spiritual victuals those who hunger after righteousness?
There are honours, therefore, and triumphs, and crowns for those who have laboured, and loved service: but shame for those who have been overcome by sloth. For he who hid his mina in a napkin became liable to a terrible condemnation. He drew near, saying, "Lo! you have that is yours!" But the purpose, He says, for which you received it, was not that you should keep it in concealment. And if you knew that I am a hard man. that I reap where I have not sowed, and that I gather whence I have not scattered; lo! this very thing, He says, even makes your guilt the heavier, and gives no specious pretext for your slothfulness. For if I am a hard man who reap where I have not sowed, why did you not give the grace that was bestowed upon you;----for this is the meaning of the mina;----to the money-changers: why, that is, did you not lay it out for the happiness or the benefit of those who would well know how to put to the test what they had received from you? "For so when I came, I should have exacted, that is, should have received back my own with its increase." For it is the duty of teachers to sow, and plant, as it were, in their hearers beneficial and saving counsel: but to call to obedience those whom they teach, and render their mind very fruitful, is the effect of that power which God bestows. And this is the increase. For when those who have heard the divine words, receive into their mind the benefit of them, and labour with joy in doing good, then do they offer that which was given them with increase.
"Take therefore, he says, from him the mina, and give it to him that has ten minas; for to him that has, there shall more be given: but from him that has not, even that which he seems to have shall be taken away from him." For that slothful servant was stripped even of the gift which had been bestowed upon him: but those who have advanced in the better course, and proved superior to indolence and sloth, will receive fresh blessings from above, and being filled with divine gifts, will mount up to a glorious and admirable lot.
We have seen the honours of the saints: come and let us examine the torments of the wicked, who would not have that |600 man of noble lineage to rule over them. " But those, my enemies, He says, who would not that I should reign over them, bring hither, and slay them before Me." This was the fate of the Israelitish race: for having denied the kingdom of Christ, they fell into extreme miseries: being evil, they evilly perished. And the gangs too of wicked heretics deny the kingdom of Christ, and so also do all those, who, disregarding the duty of living uprightly, spend their lives in impurity and sin. And these also suffering a penalty like to that of those mentioned above shall go to perdition.
But over us Christ rules as King, and we have a good hope, that we shall also be counted worthy of the portion of the saints, and twine around our heads the crown that becomes the steadfast; for this also is the gift of Christ our common Saviour; by Whom and with Whom to God the Father be praise and dominion, with the Holy Spirit, for ever and ever, Amen. |601
THIS EXPOSITION IS FIT TO BE READ ON THE HOLY DAY OF HOSANNAS. 6
19:28-40. And when He had said these things, He went onwards, going up to Jerusalem. And it came to pass, that when He was come close to Bethphage and Bethany, at the mount called of Olives, He sent two of His disciples, saying, Go into the village over against us, in which at your entering you shall find a colt, tied, whereon yet never man sat: loose, and bring it. And if any man ask you, Why loose you it? thus shall you say to him, It is wanted for the Lord. And when they that were sent had gone their way, they found even as He had said to them. And as they loosed the colt, the owners thereof said to them, Why loose you the colt? And they said, It is wanted for the Lord. And they brought it to Jesus: and when they had cast their garments upon the colt, they made Jesus ride thereon: and as He went, they spread their garments before Him in the way. And when He had now arrived at the descent of the Mount of Olives, the whole multitude of the disciples began with joy to praise God with a loud voice for all the mighty works that they had seen, saying, Blessed be the King that comes in the name of the Lord: peace in heaven, and glory in the highest. And some of the Pharisees from among the multitude said to Him, Teacher, rebuke Your disciples. And He answered, and said to them, I tell you, that if these be silent, the stories will cry out.
THE disciples praise Christ the Saviour of all, calling Him King and Lord, and the peace of heaven and earth: and let us also praise Him, taking, so to speak, the Psalmist's harp, and |602 saying; "How great are your works, O Lord: in wisdom have You made them." For there is nothing whatsoever of the works wrought by Him but is in wisdom; for He guides all useful things each in its proper manner, and assigns to his acts that season which suiteth them. As long then as it was fitting that He should traverse the country of the Jews, endeavouring to win by lessons and admonitions superior to the law many to the grace that is by faith, He ceased not so to do: but inasmuch as the time was now at length calling Him to that Passion which was for the salvation of the whole world, to free the inhabitants of the earth from the tyranny of the enemy, and abolish death, and destroy the sin of the world, He goes up to Jerusalem, pointing out first to the Israelites by a plain fact, that a new people from among the heathen shall be subject to Him, while themselves are rejected as the murderers of the Lord.
What then was the sign? He sat upon a colt, as we have just heard the blessed Evangelist clearly telling us. And yet perchance some one will say, 'that when He traversed the whole of Judaea;----for He taught in their synagogues, adding also to His words the working of miracles;----He had not asked for an animal to ride upon. For when He might have purchased one, He would not, though wearied often by His long journeys by the way. For when traversing Samaria, He was "wearied with His journey," as it is written. Who therefore can make us believe, that when He was going from the Mount of Olives to Jerusalem, places separated from one another by so short an interval, that He would require a colt? And why, when the colt was accompanied by its dam, did He not rather take the mother, instead of choosing the colt? For that the ass also, that bore the colt, was brought to Him, we learn from the words of Matthew, who says, "that He sent the disciples to a village over against them; and said to them, that you will find an ass tied, and a colt with her: loose and bring them to Me. And they brought, it says, the ass, and the colt with her."' We must consider therefore what is the explanation, and what the benefit which we derive from this occurrence, and how we make Christ's riding upon the colt a type of the calling of the Gentiles. |603
The God of all then created man upon the earth with a mind capable of wisdom, and possessed of powers of understanding. But Satan deceived him, though made in the image of God, and led him astray even until he had no knowledge of the Creator and Artificer of all. He humbled the dwellers upon earth down to the lowest stage of irrationality and ignorance. And the blessed prophet David knowing this, and even, so to speak, weeping bitterly for it, says, "Man being in honour understood it not: he is to be compared to the beast without understanding, and has become like one." It is probable therefore that that older ass contains the type of the synagogue of the Jews, which, so to speak, had become brutish, because it had paid but small heed to the law given by Moses, and had despised the holy prophets, and had added thereto disobedience to Christ, Who was calling it to faith, and the opening of its eyes. For He said, "I am the light of the world; he that believes in Me shall not walk in darkness, but possesses the light of life." But the darkness which He speaks of is undoubtedly that of the mind, even ignorance and blindness, and the malady of extreme irrationality.
But the colt, which as yet had not been broken in, represents the new people, called from among the heathen. For it also was by nature destitute of reason, having wandered into error. But Christ became its wisdom, "for in Him are all the treasures of wisdom, and the secret things of knowledge."
The colt therefore is brought, two disciples having been sent by Christ for this purpose. And what does this signify? It means that Christ calls the heathen, by causing the light of truth to shine upon them: and there minister to him for this purpose two orders of His subjects, the prophets, namely, and the apostles. For the heathen are won to the faith by means of the preachings of the apostles; and they always add to their words proofs derived from the law and the prophets. For one of them even said to those who have been called by faith to the acknowledgment of the glory of Christ, |604 "And we have the more sure prophetic word, to which you do well to look, as to a torch that shines in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the light-star arise in your hearts." For before the coming of the Saviour, the predictions of the law and the prophets concerning Christ, were as some torch in a dark place. For the mind of the Jews was always gross, and, so to speak, full of thick darkness. For they understood not in the least what was said concerning Christ. But when the day dawned, when the light that is of truth arose, henceforth the prophetic word is no small torch, but resembles rather the bright rays of the morning star.
And next the colt is brought from a village, in order that He may by this means also point out the uncivilized state of mind of the heathen, who, so to speak, had not been educated in the city, nor in lawful habits, but, on the contrary, lived boorishly and rudely. For constantly those who dwell in villages live in this way. But they did not continue in this uncivilized state of mind, but, on the contrary, were changed to peacefulness and wisdom. For they became subject to Christ, Who teaches these things.
The ass then was rejected, for Christ rode not thereon, although it had been broken in already, and practised to submit itself to its riders: but He took the colt, although it was untrained and unproved in carrying a rider, and in yielding to the reins. For, as I said, He rejected the synagogue of the Jews, although it had once borne a rider in the law, nor was obedience a thing to which it was untrained: still He refused it as aged, and spoiled, and as having gone astray already into wilful disobedience to God over all: but He accepted the colt, a people, that is, taken from among the Gentiles.
And this is the meaning of the praise rendered by the voice of the Psalmist to Christ the Saviour of all, where he says of those that were in error, "With bridle and bit shall You restrain the jaws of them that draw not close to You." And it is easy to see from sacred Scripture, that the multitude of the Gentiles was also summoned to repentance and obedience by the holy prophets. For God thus spoke in a certain place, "Be assembled and come: take counsel together, you who are saved from among the Gentiles."
Christ therefore sits upon the colt: and as He had now |605 come to the descent of the mount of Olives, close, that is, to Jerusalem, the disciples went before Him, praising Him. For they were called to bear witness of the wonderful works which He had wrought, and of His godlike glory and sovereignty. And in like manner we also ought always to praise Him, considering Who and how great He is Who is praised by us.
But another of the holy Evangelists has mentioned, that children also, holding aloft branches of palm trees, ran before Him, and, together with the rest of the disciples, celebrated His glory; so that by their means also we see the new people, gathered from among the heathen, represented as in a painting. For it is written, that "the people that shall be created shall praise the Lord."
And the Pharisees indeed murmured because Christ was praised; and drew near and said, "Rebuke your disciples." But what wrong action have they done, O Pharisee? What charge do you bring against the disciples, or how would you have them rebuked? For they have not in any way sinned, but have rather done that which is praiseworthy. For they extol, as King and Lord, Him Whom the law had before pointed out by many figures and types; and Whom the company of the holy prophets had preached of old: but you have despised Him, and grieve Him by your numberless envyings. Your duty rather it was to join the rest in their praises: your duty it was to withdraw far from your innate wickedness, and to change your manner for the better: your duty it was to follow, the sacred Scriptures, and to thirst after the knowledge of the truth. But this you did not do, but transferring your words to the very contrary, you desired that the heralds of the truth might be rebuked. What therefore does Christ answer to these things? "I tell you, that if these be silent, the stones will cry out."
For it is impossible for God not to be glorified, even though those of the race of Israel refuse so to do. For the worshippers of idols were once as stones, and, so to speak, hardened; but they have been delivered from their former error, and rescued from the hand of the enemy. They have escaped from demoniacal darkness; they have been called to the light of truth: they have awakened as from drunkenness: they have acknowledged the Creator. They praise |606 Him not secretly, and in concealment; not in a hidden manner, and, so to speak, silently, but with freedom of speech, and loud voice; diligently, as it were, calling out to one another, and saying, "Come, let us praise the Lord, and sing psalms to God our Saviour." For they have acknowledged, as I said, Christ the Saviour of all; by Whom and with Whom, to God the Father, be praise and dominion, with the Holy Spirit, for ever and ever. Amen. |607
19:41-44. And as He drew near, He beheld the city, and wept over it, saying, Would that you had known on this day, even you, the things of your peace: but now they are hid from your eyes: that the days shall come upon you, when your enemies shall raise a rampart against you, and encircle you, and keep you in on every side; and shall dash you to the ground, and your children within you, and shall not leave in you stone upon stone, because you knew not the time of your visitation.
THE blessed prophet Jeremiah loudly condemned the ignorance, at once, and pride of the Jews, rebuking them in these words; "How say you that we are wise, and the word of the Lord is with us? In vain is the lying cord of the scribes. The wise men are ashamed: they trembled, and were taken: what wisdom have they, in that they have rejected the Word of the Lord!" For being neither wise, nor acquainted with the sacred Scriptures, though the scribes and Pharisees falsely assumed to themselves the reputation of being learned in the law, they rejected the Word of God. For when the Only Begotten had become man, they did not receive Him, nor yield their neck obediently to the summons which He addressed to them by the Gospel. Because therefore by their wicked conduct they rejected the Word of God, they were themselves rejected, being condemned by God's just decree. For He said, by the voice of Jeremiah, "Call them rejected silver: because the Lord has rejected them." And again, "Shave your head, and cast it away, and take lamentation upon your lips, because the Lord has rejected and thrust away the generation that has done these things." And what these things are, the God of all has Himself declared to us, saying, "Hear, O earth: behold! I am bringing upon this people evils; the fruit of their turning away; because they regarded not My word, and have rejected My law." For neither did they keep the commandment that was given to them by Moses, "teaching for doctrines the |608 commandments of men:" and further, they also rejected the Word of God the Father, having refused to honour by faith Christ, when He called them thereunto. The fruits therefore of their turning away were plainly the calamities which happened to them: for they suffered all misery, as the retribution due for murdering the Lord.
But their falling into this affliction was not in accordance with the good will of God. For He would rather have had them attain to happiness by faith and obedience. But they were disobedient, and arrogant: yet even so, though this was their state of mind, Christ pitied them: for "He wills that all men should be saved, and come to the knowledge of the truth." For it even says, that "when He saw the city, He wept;" that we hereby might learn that He feels grief, if we may so speak of God, Who transcends all. But we could not have known that He pitied them, wicked as they were, had He not made manifest by some human action that sorrow which we could not see. For the tear which drops from the eye is a symbol of grief, or rather, a plain demonstration of it. So He wept also over Lazarus, that we again might understand that it grieved Him that the nature of man had fallen under the power of death. For "He created all things to incorruption; but by the envy of the devil death entered into the world:" not indeed because the envy of the devil is more powerful than the will of the Creator, but because it was necessary that there should follow, upon the transgression of the divine commandment, a penalty that would humble to corruption whosoever had despised the law of life.
We say therefore that He wept also over Jerusalem for a similar reason: for He desired, as I said, to see it in happiness, by its accepting faith in Him, and welcoming peace with God. For it was to this that the prophet Isaiah also invited them, saying, "Let us make peace with Him: let us who come make peace." For that by faith peace is made by us with God, the wise Paul teaches us, where he writes, "Being justified therefore by faith, we have peace with God by our Lord Jesus Christ." But they, as I said, having hurried with unbridled violence into arrogancy and contumely, persisted in despising the salvation which is by Christ: and Christ therefore blames them for this very thing, saying, |609 "Would that you had known, even you, the things of your peace:" the things, that is, useful and necessary for you to make your peace with God. And these were faith, obedience, the abandonment of types, the discontinuance of the legal service, and the choice in preference of that which is in spirit and in truth, even that which is by Christ, of a sweet savour, and admirable, and precious before God. "For God, He says, is a Spirit: and they that worship Him must worship Him in spirit and in truth."
"But they are hidden, He says, from your eyes." For they were not worthy to know, or rather to understand, the Scriptures inspired of God, and which speak of the mystery of Christ. For Paul said, "Seeing then that we have so great a hope, we use great freedom of speech: and not as Moses, who put a veil over his face, that the children of Israel might not behold the glory of his countenance, which was fading away. But their minds were blinded; for even to this day the same veil remains upon the reading of the old covenant: for when Moses is read, the veil is laid upon their hearts, and is not taken off, because it is done away in Christ.'' But in what way is the veil done away in Christ? It is because He, as being the reality, makes the shadow cease: for that it is His mystery which is represented by the shadow of the law, He assures us, saying to the Jews, "Had you believed Moses, you would have believed also Me: for he wrote of Me." For it was because they had not carefully examined the types of the law, that they did not see the truth. "For callousness in part has happened to Israel," as Paul, who was really learned in the law, tells us. But callousness is the certain cause of ignorance and darkness: for so Christ once spoke; "It is not any thing that goes into the mouth which defiles the man." And even then the Pharisees again reproached Him, for so speaking, with the breaking of the law, and overthrowing of the commandment |610 given them by Moses. And afterwards the disciples drew near to Him, saying, "Do you know that the Pharisees, who heard the word, were offended? And He answered them, Every plant that My heavenly Father has not planted shall be rooted up: let them alone: blind are they, leaders of the blind." The plant therefore which the Father planted not,----for He calls to the acknowledgment of the Son those who shall be accounted worthy of His salvation, ----shall be rooted up.
Far different is the case with those who have believed in Him: how could it be otherwise? For, as the Psalmist says concerning them, "They are planted in the house of the Lord, and shall flourish in the courts of our God." For they are the building and workmanship of God, as the sacred Scripture declares. For it is said to God by the voice of David, "Your sons shall be as the young olive plants round about your table."
But the Israelites, even before the Incarnation, proved themselves unworthy of the salvation which is by Christ, in that they rejected communion with God, and set up for themselves gods falsely so called, and slew the prophets, although they warned them not to depart from the living God, but to hold fast to His sacred commandments. But they would not consent so to do, but grieved Him in many ways, even when He invited them to salvation.
And this the Saviour Himself teaches us, thus saying, "Jerusalem, Jerusalem, that kills the prophets, and stones them that are sent to her, how often would I have gathered your sons, as a hen gathers her chickens under her wings, and you would not." You see that He indeed often desired to bestow upon them His mercy, but they rejected His aid. And therefore they were condemned by God's holy decree, and put away from being members of His spiritual household. For He even said by one of the holy prophets to the people of the Jews, "I have compared your mother to the night: My people is like to him that has no knowledge. Because you have rejected knowledge, I also will reject you from being My priest: and because you have forgotten the law of your God, I will also forget your sons." Observe therefore that He compares Jerusalem to |611 the night; for the darkness of ignorance veiled the heart of the Jews, and blinded their eyes: and for this reason they were given over to destruction and slaughter. For the God of all spoke by the voice of Ezechiel: "As I live, says the Lord, surely inasmuch as you have defiled My holy things with all your impurities, I will also reject you; My eye shall not spare, nor will I pity." "They that are in the plain shall die by the sword: and them that are in the city famine and pestilence shall consume. And those of them that are saved shall be delivered, and shall be upon the mountains as meditative doves." For Israel did not perish from the very roots, nor, so to speak, stock and branch: but a remnant was delivered, of which the foremost and the first-fruits were the blessed disciples, of whom it is that he says, that they were upon the mountains as meditative doves. For they were as heralds throughout the whole world, forth-telling the mystery of Christ, and their office is praise and song, and, so to speak, to cry aloud in psalms, "My tongue shall meditate on Your righteousness: and all the day on Your praise."
The means therefore of her peace with God were hidden from Jerusalem: and of these the first and foremost is the faith which justifies the wicked, and unites by holiness and righteousness those who possess it to the all pure God.
That the city then, once so holy and illustrious, even Jerusalem, fell into the distresses of war, may be seen from history: but the prophet Isaiah also assures us of it, where he cries aloud to the multitudes of the Jews, "Your country is desolate: your cities are burnt with fire: your land, strangers devour it in your presence: and it is desolate as overthrown by foreign nations." This was the wages of the vainglory of the Jews, the punishment of their disobedience, the torment that was the just penalty of their pride. But we have won |612 the hope of the saints, and are in all happiness, because we have honoured Christ by faith: by Whom and with Whom, to God the Father, be praise and dominion, with the Holy Spirit, for ever and ever. Amen. |613
19:45-48; 20:1-8. And having entered into the temple, He began to cast out those who sold therein, saying to them, It is written that My house is a house of prayer: but you have made it a den of thieves. And he taught daily in the temple: but the chief priests and scribes and rulers of the people sought to destroy Him; and found not what they might do to Him, for all the people were hanging upon Him to hear Him. And it came to pass on one of the days, as He taught the people in the temple, and preached, the chief priests and scribes, with the elders, rose up against Him, and said to Him, Tell us by what authority You do these things? or who it is that gave You this authority? But He answered and said to them, I also will ask you one word, and tell Me: the baptism of John, was it from heaven, or of men? And they considered with themselves, saying, That if we shall say, From heaven; He will say, Why therefore did you not believe him? But if we say, Of men; all the people will stone us: for they are persuaded, that John is a prophet. And they answered, that they knew not whence it was. And Jesus said to them, Neither tell I you by what authority I do these things.
IT is written, that "there is a light always for the righteous; but the light of the wicked shall be put out." For to those who have embraced the righteousness that is in Christ, God the Father imparts the inextinguishable light of the true knowledge of the true vision of God: for He reveals to them the Son; as the Saviour Himself also in a certain place said to the Jews, "Murmur not one with another: no man can come to Me, except the Father Who sent Me draw him." But He draws, of course, by light and knowledge, and the cords of love. But those who are not so disposed in will, but wickedly reject Christ's commandments, from their mind even that light, which they had by the commandment of Moses, vanishes away, and is extinguished, while the darkness of ignorance usurps its place. |614
And that this is true, and the real state of the case, the blindness of the Jews proves to us. For they were dark, and unable to see the glory of the Word, Who became man for our sakes, although He revealed Himself to them by the working of many miracles, and a godlike authority, an instance of which we have in what happened in the temple. For there was in it a multitude of merchants, and others also, guilty of the charge of the base love of lucre, moneychangers, I mean, or keepers of exchange tables; sellers of oxen, moreover, and dealers in sheep, and sellers of turtle doves and pigeons; all which things were used for the sacrifices according to the legal ritual. But the time had now come for the shadow to draw to an end, and for the truth, so to speak, to shine forth; even the lovely beauty of Christian conduct, and the glories of the blameless life, and the sweet rational savour of the worship in spirit and in truth.
For this reason very justly did the Truth, even Christ, as One Who with His Father was also honoured in their temple, command that those things that were by the, law should be carried away, even the materials for sacrifices and burning of incense, and that the temple should manifestly be a house of prayer. For His rebuking the dealers, and driving them from the sacred courts, when they were selling what was wanted for sacrifice, means certainly this, as I suppose, and this alone.
We must observe however that another of the holy Evangelists mentions, that not only did the Lord rebuke those dealers by words, but that He also made a scourge of cords, and threatened to inflict stripes upon them; for it was right for those who honoured the legal service after the manifestation of the truth, to know, that by retaining the spirit of bondage, and refusing to be set free, they became subject to stripes, and liable to slavish torture. The Saviour therefore |615 of all, and Lord, manifests to them His glory for their benefit, in order that they may believe in Him. For as one Who possessed authority over the temple, He both took care of it, and also called God His Father. For as that other holy Evangelist wrote, He said to the dealers, "Make not My Father's house a house of merchandize." And again, " It is written, that My house shall be called a house of prayer: but you have made it a den of thieves." It was their duty therefore, I say their duty, rather to worship Him, as One who with God the Father was Lord of the temple. But this in their great folly they did not do: but rather being savagely eager for hatred, they both set up against Him the sharp sting of wickedness, and hastened to murder, the neighbour and brother of envy. For "they sought, it says, to destroy Him, but could not: for all the people were hanging upon Him to hear Him." And does not this then make the punishment of the scribes and pharisees, and all the rulers of the Jewish ranks, more heavy? that the whole people, consisting of unlearned persons, hung upon the sacred doctrines, and drank in the saving word as the rain, and were ready to bring forth also the fruits of faith, and place their neck under His commandments: but they whose office it was to urge on their people to this very thing, savagely rebelled, and wickedly sought the opportunity for murder, and with unbridled violence ran upon the rocks, not accepting the faith, and wickedly hindering others also.
And how is not what I have said true? For the Saviour Himself reproached them, saying, "And to you, lawyers, woe! for you have taken away the key of knowledge: you enter not in yourselves, and those that are entering in you have hindered." They rise up therefore against Christ as He teaches, and wickedly and abominably call out and say, "Tell us, by what authority You do these things? Who gave You this authority? 'The law, they say, given by |616 Moses, and the commandment which regulates all these our institutions, enjoined that those only who are of the lineage of Levi should approach these sacred duties: they offer the sacrifices: they regulate whatever is done in the divine temple: to them is given the office of instructing, and the government of the sacred trusts. But You, as being of another tribe,----for You are sprung from Judah, ---- seize upon honours which have been set apart for us. "Who gave You this authority?"' O foolish Pharisee, come and let me tell you somewhat you cannot gainsay, pleading to you the cause of Christ our common Saviour. If you were acquainted with the Scriptures, which are inspired by God, and the words and predictions of the holy prophets, you would have remembered perchance the blessed David, who says in the Spirit to Christ the Saviour of all, "The Lord has sworn, and will not repent, You are a priest for ever after the order of Melchisedek." Explain, therefore, what Pharisee or Scribe has ministered to God after the order of Melchisedek, who blessed and received tithes of Abraham? And as the very wise Paul writes, "Without all contradiction the less is blessed of the better." The root and commencement therefore of the very existence of Israel, even the patriarch Abraham, was blessed by the priesthood of Melchisedek: but Melchisedek and his priesthood was a type of Christ the Saviour of us all, Who has been made our High Priest and Apostle; not bringing near to God the Father those who believe in Him, by means of bloody sacrifices and offerings of incense, but perfecting them to holiness by a service superior to the law: for "such a High Priest have we, Who has sat down at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty on high."
The difference, however, between the two services is very great: for the Saviour of all offers as a priest to God the Father the confession of our faith, and the "torrent of the sweet spiritual savour:"----for "God is a Spirit: and they that worship Him must worship in spirit and in truth." But the bloody sacrifices which they offer are not well-pleasing to God. For He even said to them, "I have hated, and have rejected your festivals, and I will not smell at your solemn assemblies. Because even though you bring Me whole burnt |617 offerings and sacrifices, I will not accept them, nor will I regard the salvation of your appearance. Take away from Me the sounding of your praises: nor will I hear the psalmody of your instruments." Understand therefore that He says, that He hated their festivals, and that as well their praises as their sacrifices were rejected by Him. And yet God rejoices in being praised; but not by impure mouths, nor by a defiled tongue: for it is written in the book of Psalms, "But to the sinner God has said, Why do you declare My commandments, and take My covenant in your mouth; whereas you have hated instruction, and have cast out My words behind you? And again He said, "Add no more to tread My court: if you bring fine wheaten flour, it is in vain: and your spices are an abomination to Me." Why therefore, O Pharisee, do you murmur at those things being expelled from the sacred courts which were employed for the legal sacrifices, when the appointed time now summoned men to a life better than types, and to true justification by faith in Christ, Who is Himself the truth.
But the series of subjects now set before us leads us on to discussions of too great length: and whatever is beyond due limit, is everywhere disagreeable as well to those who hear, as to those who teach. Let then what has been said suffice for the present: and whatever still remains, we will complete when Christ again assembles us here; by Whom and with Whom to God the Father be praise and dominion, with the Holy Spirit, for ever and ever, Amen. |618
THE SAME SUBJECT CONTINUED.
YOU have again assembled, I suppose, to be taught; and I praise your conduct, and count your willingness worthy of all admiration: for it is written, that "wisdom is better than stones of costly price; and all precious things are not comparable to her." For the wisdom that comes from above, from God, is an incomparable blessing; and when we attain to it by means of the holy Scripture, inspired of God, and gain the divine light to dwell in our minds, we then advance without wandering to whatsoever is useful for our spiritual profit. Come therefore, and let us now also scrupulously examine the meaning of the Evangelic lessons which have already been read to us.
At our previous meeting then the discourse which we addressed to you was upon the ignorance of the Pharisees, and their utter madness, and base attacks. For they drew near to Christ, the Saviour of us all, saying, "By what authority do You do these things, and who gave You this authority?" For what had Christ done? He had cast out of the temple those who were selling sheep and oxen, turtle doves and pigeons; and overturned the tables of the moneychangers, saying, "Take these things hence: and make not My Father's house a house of merchandize." And again, "My house is a house of prayer: but you make it a den of thieves."
We then spoke of these things as follows; that as the Lord was gathering up the shadow of the law, as a thing already unprofitable and superfluous, He sought to prohibit the sacrifices that were by the shedding of blood, because the time was now close at hand, and present, at which the worship in spirit and in truth must be declared. For He was Himself the truth, |619 and as the truth had now appeared, types necessarily had become superfluous. Yet for this reason those wretched beings furiously attacked the Lord of all. And thus far our discourse had proceeded at our last meeting.
We will now show that the chiefs and teachers of the Jewish synagogue in another way also violently attacked Christ. For the Saviour was teaching in the temple, setting forth most certainly for the instruction of His hearers things superior to the law; even the pathway of evangelic conduct. But they, being indignant at this also, wickedly drew near questioning Him, and saying, "Who gave You this authority?" What then again does this mean? 'You are teaching, they say, in the temple, and yet You are sprung from the tribe of Judah, and are not numbered among those whose office it is to minister as priests in the temple. And why do You teach what is repugnant to the commandment of Moses, and agrees not with the law that was given us of old?'
To those, therefore who thus speak let us say, Does this bite your mind, and provoke you to savage envy? Tell me, do you accuse the Lawgiver of the abrogation of the law? Do you blame Him, and make an outcry, because He does not obey His own laws? Tell me therefore, is God subject to His own law? Was it for us, or for Himself perhaps I suppose, that He enacted the commandments spoken by the holy prophets? But it is certain, even though you don't acknowledge it, that God transcends all law, and that it is we who are under the yoke of His commandments. When therefore any man, such as we are, transgresses the law, blame and condemn him for his transgression: but He Who enacted laws, not for Himself, but rather for us to obey, from time to time changes according to His own good pleasure whatever has been commanded; intending thereby not to humble those who are under the law to any thing evil, but rather to raise them up to that which is better. And so then now the season had arrived for the cessation of those things which were by types, and when that teaching of the law, which was given for the instruction of them of old time must pass away, in order that something better might be revealed, even the instruction given us in the Gospel.
But you say, 'Was this therefore in accordance with the |620 will of Him Who instituted by Moses that former commandment for those of old time? Yes, I answer; and I arrive at this conclusion, not of my own mind, but as having proof thereof in the prophetic Scriptures. For God has somewhere said by the voice of Isaiah, "And the laws of My people shall be made to disappear." How have the laws of the people been made to disappear? Because, as I said, they have been brought to nought by the manifestation of a new and better commandment, which the Son has spoken to us by Himself; and which also He proclaimed of old by the voice of Ezechiel, thus speaking of those of the race of Israel; "Behold, I will gather them from every land whither I have scattered them in My anger, and hot displeasure, and great wrath; and I will make them return to this place, and I will cause them to dwell safely, and they shall be to Me a people, and I will be to them a God, and I will give them another way and another heart, that they may fear Mo all their days." Another way therefore has been given them, by the gathering up, as I said, of the legal service, and of the teaching which consisted in writings and types, and the entrance in of that of the Gospel, of which the very beginning and pathway is faith, which by a spiritual service perfects to justification, and raises up to sanctification those who draw near to God.
For that the institutions of Moses were intended to come to an end, and a new law and a new covenant to be given by Christ, any one may easily see, inasmuch as He says plainly; "Behold the days come, says the Lord, that I will appoint a new covenant for the house of Israel, and for the house of Judah; not according to the covenant that I appointed for their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt, because they did not abide in My covenant, and I despised them, says the Lord." He promises therefore a new covenant: and as the very wise Paul writes, "In that He said, a new, He has made the former one old: but that which is made old, and growing old, is ready for destruction." Inasmuch therefore as the former (covenant) was made old, it was necessary that that which is new should enter in its place: and this was done not by one of the holy prophets, but by Him rather Who is the Lord of the prophets. |621
Why therefore do you murmur, O Pharisee, at seeing the divinely inspired Scripture fulfilled, and those things which had been spoken of old by the holy prophets attaining also their fulfilment?
When then they asked, "By what authority do You do these things?" the Saviour replied, "I also will ask you one word, and tell Me: the baptism of John, was it from heaven or of men? And they, it says, considered with themselves, saying, that if we shall say, From heaven, He will say, Why therefore did you not believe him? but if we say, Of men, all the people will stone us: for they are persuaded that John is a prophet. And they answered, that they knew not whence it was. And Jesus said to them, Neither tell I you by what authority I do these things." Observe the great malice of the Pharisees: they flee from the truth; they refuse the light; they feel no horror at committing sin. For God the Father sent the blessed Baptist as the forerunner of Christ, crying out and saying, "Prepare you the way of the Lord: and make straight the pathways of our God." Of him too the wise evangelist John wrote; "There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. He came for a testimony to bear witness of the light: he was not the light, but to bear witness of the light;" even of Christ. And he bore witness by saying, that "He That sent me to baptize in water. He said to me, that upon Whom you see the Spirit descend from heaven, and abide upon Him, He it is That baptizes with the Holy Spirit. And I saw and bore witness, that This is the Son of God." The blessed Baptist therefore, as being so great and admirable, is one worthy of our acceptance to move us to faith, and to be a witness concerning Christ. But because it was the custom of the Jews lightly to slander the saints, and to call them false speakers, and to say that they had not been sent of God, but falsely assumed a knowledge of prophecy of their own mind, Christ asked them, what opinion they entertained of the Baptist? was he one who came from above, from God; did they honour him, that is, as one who had been sent to baptize in accordance with the will of God? or according to their custom, did they, from human considerations and wishes, deny that he came for this purpose? And they were afraid indeed to speak the truth, lest they |622 should be told, Why then did you not believe Him? but neither will they accuse the forerunner, not however from being afraid of God, but rather of the multitudes. And therefore they hide the truth, and say, "We know not."
As not being then worthy to learn the truth, and to see the pathway which leads directly to every good work, Christ answered them, "And neither do I tell you by what authority I do these things." The Jews therefore knew not the truth: for they were not "taught by God," that is, of Christ. But to us who have believed in Him, Christ Himself reveals it, so that we, receiving in mind and heart His divine and adorable mystery, or rather the knowledge of it, and being careful to fulfil those things which are well-pleasing to Him, shall reign with Him: by Whom and with Whom to God the Father be praise and dominion, with the Holy Spirit, for ever and ever, Amen. |623
20:9-18. And He began to speak to the people this parable: A man planted a vineyard, and let it out to husbandmen, and went on a journey for a long time. And at the season he sent a servant to the husbandmen, that they might give him some of the fruit of the vineyard: but the husbandmen beat him, and sent him away empty. And again he sent to them another servant, but they beat him also, and shamefully entreated him, and sent him away empty. And again he sent a third: and they wounded him also, and cast him out. And the lord of the vineyard said, What shall I do? I will send my beloved son: perhaps they will reverence him. But when the husbandmen saw him, they reasoned among themselves, saying, This is the heir: come, let us kill him, that the inheritance may be ours. And they cast him out of the vineyard, and killed him. What therefore shall the lord of the vineyard do to them? He shall come and destroy those husbandmen, and shall give the vineyard to others. And when they heard it, they said, Heaven forbid. But He looked upon them, and said. What is this then that is written, That the stone which the builders rejected has become the head of the corner? Every one that falls upon this stone shall be broken: but upon whomsoever it shall fall, it will crush him.
CHRIST has somewhere said, "The kingdom of heaven is like to a treasure hid in a field." And there is nothing more certain than that those who love lucre, and seek for treasures, most certainly do not find them ready for them, nor placed above ground, but hidden rather and buried out of sight; and only by digging laboriously do they find them, and that with difficulty. Come therefore, and let us seek after the knowledge of the lessons of the Gospel as for some treasure; let us search deep into the thoughts therein contained: for so shall we find what we seek by Christ revealing this also to us: "for in Him are all the treasures of wisdom, and the |624 hidden things of knowledge;" and He is the Giver of wisdom and understanding to the whole rational creation.
What therefore does He say to the chiefs of the Jews, when setting forth to them those things which are useful for salvation? "A man planted a vineyard, and let it out to husbandmen, and went on a journey for a long time." Now if any one will examine with the penetrating eyes of the mind the purport of what is here said, he will find the whole history of the children of Israel briefly summed up in these words. For who the man is who planted the vineyard, and what, in fact, is to be understood by the vineyard which was planted, the Psalmist makes clear, where he says to Christ, the Saviour of all, respecting the Israelites; "You brought a vine out of Egypt; You removed the nations, and planted it: You made a way before it, and planted its roots, and it filled the land." And further, the blessed prophet Isaiah also, declaring this very thing, says, "My beloved had a vineyard on a hill, in a fertile place." And afterwards he adds thereto, making more evident the force of what had been spoken enigmatically, "For the vineyard of the Lord of hosts is the man of Judah. a plant new and beloved." He therefore Who planted the vineyard is God; Who also went abroad for a long time. And yet God fills every thing, and in no way whatsoever is absent from any thing that exists; how therefore did the Lord of the vineyard go abroad for a long time? It means, that after He had been seen by them in the shape of fire at His descent upon Mount Sinai with Moses, who spoke to them the law as the mediator, He did not again grant them His presence in a visible manner, but, to use a metaphor taken from human affairs, His relation to them was, so to speak, like that of one who had made a long journey abroad.
As I said, then, He went abroad: but plainly He had care for His farm, and kept it in His mind. For He sent faithful servants to them at three different times to receive produce, or fruit, from the tillers of the vineyard. For there was no period in the interval, during which there were not sent by God prophets and righteous men to admonish Israel, and urge it to bring forth as fruits the glories of a life in accordance with the law. But they were wicked, and disobedient, and obdurate, |625 and their heart was hardened against admonition, so that they would in no way listen to the word that would have profited thorn. For even the prophet Isaiah, as one who was, so to speak, fainting under labours and fatigues without avail, says: "Lord, who has believed our report?" By disregarding therefore those who had been sent to thorn, "they drove them away empty," as having, that is, nothing good to say of them to God Who sent them. For the prophet Jeremiah also blamed the Jewish multitudes with their rulers because of their excessive arrogance, saying, "To whom shall I speak, and testify, and he will hear? Behold, their ears are uncircumcised, and they cannot hear; behold the Word of the Lord has become to them a derision: they will not hear it." And in another place He thus spoke of Jerusalem: "We healed Babel, and she was not healed: let us leave her, and depart every one to his land, because her judgment has reached to the heaven." And as I said then, he calls Jerusalem Babel, because it differed not from Persia 7 in its disobedience and apostasy, and because it would not submit itself to the sacred laws: or even perhaps because it was reckoned as having no knowledge of God, for having chosen to worship the creature instead of the Creator, and the works of its own hands. For Israel was guilty of the charge both of apostasy and of idol-worship. And this then was the way in which they shamefully cast out those who were sent to them.
But the lord of the vineyard considers with himself, saying, "What shall I do?" And we must carefully examine in what sense he says this. Does then the householder use these words because he had no more servants? Certainly not: for there were not wanting to Him other ministers of His holy will. But just as if a physician were to say of a sick man, What shall I do? we should understand him to mean, that every resource of medical skill had been tried, but without avail: so we affirm that the lord also of the vineyard, having practised all gentleness and care with his farm, but without in any respect |626 benefiting it, says, What shall I do? And what is the result? He advances to still greater purposes; for "I will send, He says, My Son, the beloved one. Perhaps they will reverence Him." Observe in this, that after the servants the Son is sent, as One not numbered among the servants, but as a true Son, and therefore the Lord. For even though He put on the form of a servant for the dispensation's sake, yet even so He was God, and very Son of God the Father, and possessed of natural 8 dominion. Did they then honour Him Who was sent as Son and Lord, and as One Who possesses by inheritance whatsoever belongs to God the Father? By no means. For they slew Him outside the vineyard, having plotted among themselves a purpose foolish and ignorant and full of all wickedness. For they say, "Let us kill Him, that the inheritance may be ours." But tell me, How did you imagine this? For are you also son of God the Father? Does the inheritance descend by right of nature to you? If you remove the heir out of the way, how will you become lord of what you covet? But further, How is not your supposition ridiculous? For the Lord indeed, as being Son, and Heir by right of His substance of the authority of God the Father, having become man, called those who believed in Him to communion and participation of His kingdom: but these men wanted to take possession of the kingdom solely for themselves, without admitting even Him to any participation at all therein, usurping for themselves alone the lordly inheritance. But this was a purpose impossible, and full of ignorance: and therefore the blessed David says of them in the Psalms, "He that dwells in the heaven shall laugh at them, and the Lord shall deride them."
The chiefs therefore of the synagoge of the Jews were cast out for resisting the Lord's will by rendering the vineyard which had been entrusted to them unfruitful. For God has somewhere said, "Many shepherds have destroyed My vineyard: they have profaned My portion: they have made My |627 desirable inheritance into a pathless wilderness: it has become a desolation of destruction." And it is also said by the voice of Isaiah, "But the Lord will immediately arise in judgment: the Lord Himself shall come for judgment with the elders and princes of the people. But you, why have you burnt My vineyard?" As those therefore who had rendered the land sterile, being evil, they perished evilly. For it was just, most just, that as being slothful, and murderers of the Lord, they should be the prey of extreme miseries.
"And the farm was given to other husbandmen." And who are they? I answer, the company of the holy apostles, the preachers of the evangelic commandments, the ministers of the new covenant; who were the teachers of a spiritual service, and knew how to instruct men correctly and blamelessly, and to lead them most excellently to every thing whatsoever that is well-pleasing to God. And this you learn by what God says by the voice of Isaiah to the mother of the Jews, that is, the synagogue: "And I will turn My hand upon you, and, search you to purify you: and those who obey not I will destroy, and I will take out of you all wicked doers, and will humble all that boast: and I will establish your judges as at the first, and your counsellors as in the beginning." And by these, as I said, are signified the preachers of the new covenant, to whom God somewhere said by the voice of Isaiah; " But you shall be called the priests of the Lord, and the ministers of God." But that the farm was given to other husbandmen, and not solely to the holy apostles, but to those also who come after them, even though not of Israelitish blood, the God of all plainly reveals, where He says by the voice of Isaiah to the church of the Gentiles, and to the remnant of Israel; "And aliens in race shall come; they shall feed your flocks: and aliens in tribe shall be ploughmen and vinedressers." For many indeed of the Gentiles were called, and holy men of their number became teachers and instructors; and even to this day men of Gentile race hold high place in the churches, sowing the seeds of piety to Christ in the hearts of believers, and rendering the nations entrusted to their charge like beautiful vineyards in the sight of God. |628
What therefore did the scribes and pharisees say when they heard the parable? "Heaven forbid," were their words. And by this one may see, that having understood its profounder signification, they put away from them the impending suffering, and were afraid of the coming danger. But they did not escape, because they could not be restrained from disobedience, nor would they submit to believe in Christ.
"But He, it proceeds, looked upon them, and said, What is this then that is written, That the stone which the builders rejected has become the head of the corner? Every one that falls upon this stone shall be broken: but upon whomsoever it shall fall, it will crush him." For the Saviour, although He was a chosen stone, was rejected by those whose duty it was to build up the synagogue of the Jews in every thing that was edifying: and yet He became the head of the corner. Now the sacred Scripture compares to a corner the gathering together, or joining of the two people, Israel I mean, and the Gentiles, in sameness of sentiment and faith. "For the Saviour has built the two people into one new man, by making peace and reconciling the two in one body to the Father." And the so doing resembles a corner, which unites two walls, and, so to speak, binds them together. And this very corner, or gathering together of the two people into one and the same, the blessed David wondered at, and said; "The stone which the builders rejected has become the head of the corner. This----that is the corner----has been done of the Lord, and is marvellous in our eyes." For Christ, as I said, has girded together the two people in the bonds of love, and in sameness as well of sentiment as of faith.
The stone therefore is the safety of the corner which is formed by it: but breaking and destruction to those who have remained apart from this rational and spiritual union. "For he that falls, He says, upon this stone shall be broken: but upon whomsoever it shall fall it will crush him." For when the multitudes of the Jews stumbled at Christ, and fell against Him, they were broken: for they would not hearken to the voice of Isaiah, where he says, "Sanctify the Lord Himself, and He shall be your fear: and you shall not strike against Him as upon a stone of stumbling, nor as a |629 rock of falling." Those therefore who did not believe were broken: but Christ has blessed us who have believed in Him: by Whom and with Whom, to God the Father, be praise and dominion, with the Holy Spirit, for ever and ever. Amen.
1. p In the Septuagint, the ninth and tenth Psalms are incorporated into one, and therefore all the subsequent Psalms are numbered one less than in our version.
2. q From the mutilated state of the MS. the text of this passage is chiefly conjectural.
3. s Again the MS. is so mutilated, as to render the text chiefly conjectural.
4. k The Catenist adds, that fourfold restitution was enacted by the law, Ex. xxii. 1, and enjoined by David in 2 Sam. xii. 6.
5. 1 The mina was worth rather more than 4 pounds sterling.
6. d By the day of Hosannas, Palm Sunday is meant. That the palm branch was an ordinary symbol of rejoicing among the Jews, may be seen by 1 Mac. xiii. 51.
7. m Regarding Babylon as the capital of Persia, S. Cyril treats the terms as identical, and means that Jerusalem was called by the prophet by the name of the capital of Persia because it resembled that famous city in the greatness of its wickedness.
8. n That is, a dominion which belongs to Him by right of His substance, and not as a thing given or imparted to Him. Elsewhere repeatedly it will be noticed how constantly S. Cyril calls Him " the Son by nature," in opposition to adopted sons.
This text was transcribed by Roger Pearse, Ipswich, UK, 2008. All material on this page is in the public domain - copy freely.
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