Holy Bible

The Forth Gook Our Faithful Friend Our Friend in Jerusalem The story of Zacchaeus the chief tax-collector who hosted the Lord Jesus at his house completes the story of the healing of the blind man. the opening of the eyes refers to humanity’s need of obtaining the inward spiritual vision so it could follow His salvation journey. Thus humanity would enter with Him into Jerusalem, and accepts His cross, and be blessed with His resurrection. The hosting of Zacchaeus to Him points to the Lord’s wish that we not only witness Him and follow Him wherever He goes, but also that we open our hearts so He enters in just as in His house or in His Jerusalem, and that He declares His salvation in us. The evangelist also mentions to us the parable of the ten pounds, so the Lord declares that even though He wishes to enter every house, even the tax- collectors’ homes and the sinners’ homes, yet He asks for the honest hearts. He wishes we embody His quality of ‘honesty’, so He grants us a greater inheritance, an authority and a kingdom of an eternal standard. He gives ten cities to one, and to the other five... etc. In this way our Friend wishes to open our eyes so we open our inward homes with Zacchaeus, and thus He rules in us. We also rule through Him, and be blessed with His heavenly places. This is the aim of our heavenly Friend’s entrance into Jerusalem, and is the purpose of all of His salvation deeds. 1- Zacchaeus hosting the Lord 1- 10 2- The Parable of the ten Pounds 11- 27 3- Drawing close to Jerusalem 28- 40 4- His Weeping over Jerusalem 41- 44 5- Purifying the Temple 45- 46 6- His teaching at the Temple 47- 48 + + + 1- Zacchaeus Hosting The Lord: We have already said that the opening of the blind man’s eyes represents the opening of the inward vision, to be blessed in realising God’s work for salvation, that the Lord was determined to fulfill by entering Jerusalem,. On the other hand, we have Zacchaeus who hosted the Lord Jesus, and this refers to the opening of the inner house for the Lord to dwell in, and would thus become His inward Jerusalem that He will enter, as if in a heavenly procession, to declare His glorious cross in it. We can draw the following comparison between the opening of the blind man’s eyes, and the hosting of Zacchaeus to the Lord Jesus: Firstly: The blind man met the Lord which he was sitting on the roadside, begging (Luck18: 35). As for Zacchaeus, he met the Lord inside the city, and he was on a sycamore tree (Luke19: 4). Both of them were blessed with the Lord’s grace. But as St. Ambrosios says “The Lord would heal him, but as for the other, the Lord invites Himself at his home without hearing a word of invitation, for the Lord knew whtat was in his heart”. Who is this on the way begging for the opening of his eyes other than every person who has not experienced inwardly the grace of God? But he did come to believe through hearing, and thus he ran, as on the roadside asking for the grace of enlightment. Then the Lord opened his vision to lead him to the pastures of His sacred church. As for Zacchaeus who went up on the tree, he represents every person who is blended spiritually into the church, which is the sycamore tree, or, he has been exalted by the Holy Spirit to the wooden cross, and shares the Lord in His passion. He thus is blessed with the Lord’s dwelling in his inward home. Secondly: The Lord Jesus left the blind man to cry out, and the evangelist says (Luke18: 39) “But he shouted even more loudly”. But the Lord did not wait for one word from Zacchaeus’ mouth, He rather hosted Himself in his home. Why so? The former may refer to the active and struggling life that through love cries out incessantly, and thus the Lord opens the eyes to witness His kingdom. The latter refers also to the struggling and meditative life through a deep and divine love. This is exalted by means of the Holy Spirit to the cross, to see as through the sycamore tree, its Groom chanting out, asking to dwell in her constantly. He goes into her heart, and dwells in her depths, and she goes to Him, tasting of His divine loving mysteries that is indescribable. I do not mean by so saying there are two divisions in the church- the workers, and those who meditate. But even if every person has his personal talent by which the Spirit distinguishes him, yet it is appropriate for the believer, in his true spiritual work, to live in contemplation of God’s mysteries. In his true contemplation, let him remain a struggling laborer, till the last breath. It is one life ‘in Christ Jesus our Lord’ in which we live working by means of His Spirit. We are exalted as if with His wings, to be blessed with the partnership of His mysteries. In other words, let each one come forward, crying our with the blind man without any interruption, and up on the tree top with Zacchaeus on the sycamore tree. Thus our vision is opened, and we are blessed with His partnership and His constant dwelling in us. Thirdly: This blind man sitting on the roadside begging, may represent the church members who came of Jewish origin. They were as if on the roadside who knew through the symbols, the shadows and the prophecies the Messaiah and His work of salvation. These were under the law like blind men and hungry men, incapable of witnessing the divine mysteries. They were like poor beggars, for the law was unable to uplift them to God’s embrace to see and to be satisfied. Rather, the law led them on the way to the Savior, to open their vision and see Him, for he is the joyful and satisfying Truth. As for Zacchaeus, he represents the church members who came from a Gentile origin. These were similar to the chief tax- collector who was rejected by the Jews. They were as if short in stature with no previous spiritual experience; but once they were exalted through faith on the wooden cross with their Redeemer, they have become blessed with God’s divine voice calling them to dwell in their midst, and to appoint them members of His household. The blind man, being a representative of the triumphant Jews, asked the people and he was told that Jesus of Nazareth was passing by (Luke18: 37). These multitudes are the fathers and the prophets who spoke to them of Jesus of Nazareth, who was passing among the Jewish nation to fulfill His work of salvation. As for Zacchaeus, he did not ask because he was as a stranger to the fathers and the prophets. But through faith, he went up on the cross to witness the Lord amongst the people. He also saw Him manifested by the fathers and the prophets whom he came to know through the Messaiah and His cross. Let us go back to the details of the story; that of Zacchaeus’ encounter with the Lord Jesus as narrated by the evangelist St. Luke (Luke19: 1- 4). “He entered Jericho and was passing through it. A man was there named Zacchaeus; he was a chief tax- collector and was rich. He was trying to see who Jesus was, but on account of the crowd he could not, because he was short in stature. So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore tree to see Him, because He was going to pass that way”. At this point, we notice the following: Firstly: Some think the word ‘Zacchaeus’ means ‘the justified’ because Zacchaeus represents the triumphant Gentiles who have been justified by the blood of Jesus Christ. Secondly: Zacchaeus was a chief tax-collector; we know that this job was detested by the Jews, and was looked upon as a job for the account of the occupying Roman empire, that had the scent of betrayal to the Jewish nation. This is what the tax-collectors. Were generally described as – lovers of money, in a greedy covetous spirit, merciless regarding their Jewish brethren. At any rate, many scribes and Pharisees, due to their religious positions, and due to people’s regard of them, they managed to meet the Lord physically. They even asked Him to come to their banquets; and yet He never refused to go, for they may pull away from their apparent worship to the concept of the spiritual divine faith. But they rarely met Him on the spiritual level, or by being blessed with His divine thoughts. But as for this chief taxcollector, in people’s eyes he represented the essence of defilement, and the last one to be interested in what comes from God. Yet, due to his hidden and hearty eagerness, he wished to see who Jesus was. He translated this eagerness to a simple job, which is that of climbing the sycamore tree t o see who will be kind to him, by opening the doors of hope to every human soul so as to encounter the Savior of sinners. As St. Ambrosios says, “We are presented here with the chief tax-collector; so, who of us would ever despair of himself, after obtaining grace after a deceitful life?” Indeed, the tax-collector category was included among the adulterers (Matt.21: 31), for these were two very destestful categories. The former were busy asking for wealth on others’ account, whereas the latter category were looking for the physical lust on account of sanctifying the people. It was as if the two categories were destructive to the people. Despite this, the chief tax-collector was able to usurp by faith the Lord’s entrance to his house, and even to his heart. As St. Cyril the great says, “Zacchaeus was the chief tax-collector, and he was totally given to covetousness. His only aim was to increase his gains, for this was the tax-collector’s job. St. Paul called greed the worshiping of idols (Col.3: 5). This may be appropriate to those who do not know God, for they are preoccupied with greed. Because those tax-collectors practiced t his sin openly, with no shame whatsoever, thus the Lord included them with adulterers, saying to the chief Jews (Matt.21: 31) “the tax collectors and the prostitutes are going into the kingdom of God ahead of you”. But Zacchaeus was no more counted as one of the tax collectors. He has become qualified for mercy at the hands of Christ who asks for those who are far to draw closer to Him. He also gave light to those in darkness. St. Jerome thinks the sycamore tree here refers t o the good deeds of repentance, where the repentant person tramples on the previous sins with his own feet. Through this, he looks up to the Lord as if from the tower of righteousness. For a second time he says, “Zacchaeus who was converted in a moment, became worthy of accepting Christ as a guest to him”. Thirdly: St. Luke the evangelist mentions that Zacchaeus was a rich man (Luke19: 2), and that he wished to see who Jesus was. He put into action this inward keenness into a job that has cost him much; for it was not an easy thing for a prestigious man, as the chief tax collector was, to climb a sycamore tree as a child would, and that people would see him there. The evangelist may have wished to confirm that not every wealthy man is wicked; but that every person- whatever position, abilities or circumstances he had- carries inwardly the natural low that takes his heart, if he wished so, towards seeing God’s Word and being blessed with Him. God does not leave Himself with no witness in man’s life. The rich as well as the poor, if they wish, could go to the Lord and in the sharing of the free work of grace. St. Ambrosios says “Let the wealthy people know that wealth in its essence is not a sin, but rather the misusing of it is sinful. The money, that represents the stumbling block regarding the evil ones, is a means of practicing righteousness regarding the rich. Zacchaeus was rich, and therefore let us learn that not all the rich are covetous”. St. John Chrysostom says, “Abraham indeed ruled over the poor’s riches. All those who possessed wealth, in a sacred way, spent it for being God’s gift for them”. He moreover adds, “The Lord did not forbid people from becoming rich, but rather to be slaves to their wealth. He wishes us to use it as a necessity, but not to be guards to it. The slave keeps guard, whereas the landlord spends t he money. Fourthly: On one hand, the sycamore tree refers to the cross by means of which the believer encounters his Christ, and hears His divine voice, and his inward home is opened in acceptance of the Lord being transfigured in him. On the other hand, a thought integrated with this one, the tree refers to the church which is the good Shepherd’s shoulders, so as to offer him as a true fruit of love to her Groom. In other words, the church’s major role is to carry the entire world, even if he is someone as the chief tax collector. The church carries him on her shoulders, not to condemn him or hurt his feelings, but rather to grant him the possibility of meeting his Savior. The church carries him in love and kindness, and thus kindles his heart more zealously towards the heavenly Groom. This is why, in truth, it has been said that the church is a true encounter between Christ and the repentant sinners. In it, the Lord finds His pleasure, for He can see the church offering Him in love, those souls He has died for. The sinner also finds the doors of hope wide open continuously, and the hearts and arms are ready in love to carry him to his Savior. Fifthly: The encounter between the Lord Jesus and Zacchaeus who was up on the sycamore tree may imply a symbolic meaning of the Lord’s salvation work: the sycamore tree here refers to the church that presents the sinful humanity to the Savior. The amazing thing is that the Savior leaves the surrounding crowds, joyfully gathering around Him, that is, He left the angelic hosts and the heavenly glories, and He denied Himself so as to look upon the man who has fallen; despite his evil and corruption, He meets him on a spiritual level, so as to tell him He has invited Himself in Zacchaeus, hurry and come down for I must stay at your house today. Today salvation has come to this house, because he too is a son of Abraham”. It is as if this mission represents the mystery of incarnation by which the Lord has entered our house, for He has embodied our nature. He does not dwell in this incarnation for a while, but He carried it in Him, and hid with His divinity so as to sanctify our nature eternally. Sixthly: We may also say that the fig-tree refers to the faith seed that grows inside the heart so as to become a huge tree. Man dwells inside it and through it he sees the Lord Jesus whom he has not seen before. At this point he is blessed with the Lord’s dwelling in him, and he has left his malice. By means of the tree of faith, Zacchaeus met the Lord despite his personal obstruction for being of such a short stature, as well as the crowds surrounding the Lord and making Zacchaeus unable to see anything. By the live and active faith, we are able to overcome every weakness we have, and soar above every situation so as to meet our Lord Jesus. We shall see Him, and He will see us righteous in Him. We shall hear Him calling us, and listen to His voice, and respond to His words. St. Cyril the great says: “He wished to see Jesus, and so he limbed a sycamore tree. In this way the seed of salvation grew inside him. He has seen Jesus with the eyes of godliness such is Zacchaeus’ faith. Thorough this vision, he also saw the Lord through the human eyes. The Lord therefore was gentle to him and encouraged him, telling him (Luke19: 5) “Zacchaeus, hurry and come down”. He wished to see Him, but the crowds obstructed him; but the crowds did not obstruct him as much as the obstruction of his own sins. He was short in stature not only physically, but spiritually as well. There was no other way by which Zacchaeus could see the Lord except by going higher and climbing this sycamore tree that Christ was going to pass by. This story implies a symbolic meaning; for no one could see Jesus and believe in Him unless he goes up a sycamore tree. This means his subduing his members that are on the earth, such as adultery, unchastity... etc. Furthermore, Pope Gregory the great gave a similar interpretation to the concept of St. Cyril the great in the previous last phases. He saw the sycamore tree as a tree bearing fruits of small value. Therefore, no one would be able to see the Lord Jesus unless he is exalted by faith above the temporal and vain matters such as the sycamore tree. He is exalted up on it by his meditation on the heavenlies, and his being blessed with the heavenly wisdom. Seventhly: St. Ambrosios thinks when Zacchaeus, being of such a short stature, climbed up the sycamore tree to see the Lord Jesus, this refers to the believer’s exaltation, who, due to sin, has become of such a short stature. He has been deprived of seeing the Lord, above the literacy of the law. He is no more under the law, but rather exalted by the Spirit above the law, so as to see with grace, the Lord Jesus. It is as if the climbing of the sycamore tree is the release from the literal thinking in the interpretation of the Holy Book, to the blessing of the deep spiritual thinking by means of the sacred wooden cross. Eighthly: When the Lord Jesus entered Zacchaeus’ house, Zacchaeus heard this divine saying (Luke 19: 8) “Today salvation has come to this house, because he too is a son of Abraham”. What does He mean by the salvation of this house? (a) When a member in the family is sanctified, he could, by the Lord Jesus who dwells in him, to be a mystery of blessing and salvation to the rest of the members. The book of Acts reveals strongly how some people’s encounter with the Lord Jesus urged their household to meet Him as well, and become blessed with His salvation in their life. We cannot deny that a member of the Lord Jesus could be accepted, and another rejected. Even the Lord warned us by His words saying that a man’s enemies are his own people. Also He said that the father would rise against His son, and the son against his father ...etc. This warning is continued by the words of the Lord Jesus Himself, about the believer’s mission, and how it is as the light of the world, able to, by means of Jesus the real light, to attract the people of the household to the Sun of righteousness. (b) When a person is sanctified by the Lord Jesus. Entering into his life, the inward members of his household are sanctified as well. I mean, when the believer accepts the Lord Jesus, he presents to the Lord all the people of His household, that is, his body in all its potentials, his motives, his emotions and feelings, his thoughts and his capabilities. For God does not sanctify the spirit alone, but the body and the soul as well. (c) He calls the house ‘son to Abraham’; He no doubt, does not mean the actual house, but rather its inhabitant, or inhabitants who were blessed with the work of the Lord Jesus in them. Zacchaeus was called Abraham’s son not because of his biological lineage, but because of a greater thing, because he has had the same active and live faith of Abraham. By faith, Abraham left his land, his people, his household, and went after the divine call of God to a land in which he roamed so as to offer it an inheritance to his sons. Now, his son Zacchaeus has the same faith; he left his entire possessions to which he had previously clung as a land in which he dwelt, and also his own people that were as his own household. He was tied strongly to all of his possessions. But now he has loosened himself from all of these ties, and was offering his belongings to the poor. He moreover offered the rest to be given doubly to them he has previously dealt with wrongfully. We may also say that Zacchaeus, when he was the chief tax collector, he was biologically speaking, Abraham’s son. But now, that he has comes to know the Lord, he became a son to him according to the faith, and he even became God’s son in Christ Jesus. Ninthly: St. John Chrysostom thinks Christ’s coming to Zacchaeus home has made Zacchaeus rejoice (Luke19: 6). He has become as if with wings flying above what is temporal. This is why he said “half of my possessions, Lord, I will give to the poor”. We may say that sin wounds the soul and makes it lose its joy; thus it lives tied to the world and temporal things, and it loses its eternal hope and inward happiness. But when the Lord is transfigured in the soul, and when the soul hears His voice, it is filled with hope and is exalted above any earthly attachment, so it lives as if with the wings of the soul soaring up from one glory to the next. It is blessed with grace on top of grace, released from one strength to the next in real joy. Tenthly: St. Augustine compares Zacchaeus who hosted the Lord joyfully, and the centurion who believed himself not worthy enough for the Lord to enter his house (Matt.8: 8) saying, “there is no contrast between them both, and neither of them is better than the other. The former accepted the Lord joyfully in his house (Luke19: 6) whereas the other said he was not worthy enough for the Lord to enter under his roof (Matt.8: 8). Both of them honored the Savior, even if in different ways. Both of them were miserable in their sin, and yet they obtained the mercy they asked for”. Eleventh: Because the Jews did not realis the purpose of Christ’s work (Luke19: 7) “All who saw it began to grumble and said, ‘He has gone to be the guest of one who is a sinner; instead of rejoicing for the sinner’s salvation, they grumbled against the Savior because He opened His heart to them and entered their homes so He rules over their hearts. As St. Cyril the great expresses “He raised them from the dead; why do they blame Christ, if He has raised him from perdition due to his fall and burial in spiritual corruption? To teach them this He said, ‘Today, salvation has come to this house, for he is also a son to Abraham, because wherever Christ goes, there is necessarily the salvation. Let Him be inside us; if we believe, He is in us. By faith He dwells in our hearts, and we ourselves become a dwelling place for Him. It was appropriate for the Jews to rejoice because Zacchaeus has been saved in an amazing way, for he too, was counted among Abraham’s sons that God has promised the salvation in Christ by means of the saintly prophets, saying, (Is.59: 20) “And He will come to Zion as Redeemer, to those in Jacob who turn from transgression, says the Lord”. Christ has risen to save the inhabitants of the earth from their sins; He asks for those who have been lost, and saves those who have perished. This is His mission; you may say this is the fruit of His divine kindness. Twelfthly: When the Lord Jesus entered Zacchaeus’ home, He shone with the brilliance of His light on him. He cast out every darkness without His rebuking him with a single word, or even telling him one commandment. The presence of Christ Himself ‘God’s incarnate Word’, was power enough to be able to pull out Zacchaeus from the love of money to his love for the poor, and his eagerness to give back more doubly to those he has previously wronged, even if this meant to pay them all what he possessed as a price for this. In an excerpt attributed to St. John Chrysostom, it has been said, “Zacchaeus was not expecting the judgment of the law, he rather judged himself. Look, here is a miracle; He obeys without being taught. Just as the sun shines with its beams on the house and brightens it up by deeds and not by words, likewise does the Savior shine with the brilliance of His righteousness, so as to shatter the darkness of transgression, and thus the light shines in darkness”. Moreover, it is appropriate for us to notice that Zacchaeus did not offer his money to the poor and those who were unjustly treated; he rather offered his heart first to God. It is then that this came as a natural gift and without any cost, and truly joyful to God. St. Jerome says, “If we offer Christ ourselves as well as our wealth, He accepts the offering joyfully”. Thirteenthly: Our Lord Jesus Christ uncovers to us His salvation mission, opening to us the door of hope to everyone, saying (Luke19: 10) “For the Son of Man came to seek out and to save the lost”. The scholar Tritilian uses these words in answer to the Agnostics who scorn the physical body, and consider it not obtaining any salvation, and that it does not rise on the last day, saying, “What do you think of those who perished? He is undoubtedly man, man in his entirety, and not part of him. For sure, it is man entirely. If sin has devastated him entirely, then he will be saved entirely as well”. St. Augustine uses the same words in rebuking the followers of Pelagius, who deny the basic sin. This is why he addresses the Lord Jesus on their behalf, saying, “If You have come to ask for, and to save what has perished, then You have not come for the children, because they have not perished, but have rather been born in the state of salvation. Therefore you go to the adults. St. Augustine speaks to us of the salvation mission of the Lord Jesus and His coming to search for them who have perished, saying, “He has also found the lost ones; they have disappeared here and there behind the thistles, and so He came to them, to find them after He was being born by the thorns of His suffering. He actually came and found them, and saved them. They have been saved by Him who has been slaughtered for their sake”. 2- The Parable Of The Ten Pounds: The encounter of the Lord Jesus with Zacchaeus, the chief tax collector in his house, and the Lord’s declaration of the salvation of His household, this is a fulfillment of the real joyful wedding. Zacchaeus’ heart was exalted above every earthly thought, and thus he offered much more than what the law had ordered. He offered half of his money to the poor; and he also asked to give back four times as much to anyone he has dealt with wrongfully. In this way the Lord Jesus declares the divine wish in sanctifying every soul so that everyone would be a real kingdom to Him. Now, after declaring this present kingdom, the active one in the human life, the Lord wishes to declare this is only a first step to the eternal kingdom. He therefore offered us the parable of the ten pounds so we know that even though we are happy here with Christ’s encounter, yet we live struggling in leading an honest life so as to obtain the perfect eternal glory of His kingdom. The evangelist says (Luke19: 11) “As they were listening to this, He went on to tell them a parable, because He was near Jerusalem, and because they supposed that the kingdom of God was to appear immediately. It seemed that a new concept began to prevail among the Jews, when they saw what amazing deeds the Lord of glory, Jesus, made, and that the Kingdom was drawing very close. This means that the Lord reigns in Jerusalem, and that He establishes His kingdom on earth. This is why even the disciples were sometimes preoccupied with the position each of them would have in this quickly expected kingdom to come. It is as if the Lord Jesus wished to direct their attention away from the greatness of the kingdom by an earthly temporal thinking of being prepared for the eternal kingdom, by acquiring the quality of ‘honesty’. We have previously spoken of this parable in our above study (Matt.25: 18). Now, I think enough said id we point out the following: Firstly: The Lord Jesus says, (Luke19: 12, 13) “A nobleman went to a distant country to get royal power for himself and then return. He summoned ten of his slaves, and gave them ten pounds and said to them ‘Do business with these until I come back’. Who is this nobleman other than the Lord of glory Himself, the Word who has become incarnate? He is a nobleman, actually ‘the Only Begotten One’. He is unique in His eternal sonship to the Father. He denied Himself by His incarnation, so He converts us, we who have become slaves to transgression, to become God’s sons, by being united with Him, and 3getting firm in Him. We therefore become noblemen with Him. St. Cyril the great remarks on the expression ‘noblemen’ saying, “This parable represents, briefly speaking the core of provision that has been offered us. That is, Christ’s mystery from the beginning to the end”. God’s Word has become man; and even though He has become like the sinful body, He was called a slave (Phil2: 7). But He was born free, a ‘nobleman’, for He was born of the Father in an unutterable birth. Indeed, He is God who is above all in nature and glory, reigning over us and even over all other creation by His absolute and incomparable perfection. He is a ‘nobleman’ in being God’s Son; He has obtained this title, not like us, out of God’s goodness and His love to mankind, but because this concerns Him by nature, as being born of the Father, high above every other creation. Therefore, when He has become the Word, who is the image of the Father, and the coessential to Him, when He has become man like us (Phil.2: 8-11) “And being found in human form, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death- even death on the cross. Therefore God also highly exalted Him, and gave Him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bend, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is lord, to the glory of God the Father”. Surely, the Son is God by nature, then how is it that God has given Him this name that is above every other name? We say, that when He has become man, that is, when He has become human like us, He took the name of a slave, and He accepted our poverty, our humiliation, and after the fulfillment of the incarnation mystery, He has been exalted to the glory that is His by nature, and not as a foreign thing to Him that He is unused to. Neither is it as a foreign matter offered to Him from someone else, but that He rather obtained the glory that pertains to Him. In His words to the heavenly Father, He says (John17: 5) “So now, Father, glorify Me in Your own presence with the glory that I had in Your presence before the world existed”. He was clothed in the glory of divinity for being there and existent before all the ages and before the world, for He is the God born of God. When He became man, as I have said, there was no change in Him, nor any trading or exchange, but He remained just as He is permanently, by being born of the Father like Him in everything. He is (Heb.1: 3) “He is the reflection of God’s glory and the exact imprint of God’s very being”. Indeed, He has everything pertaining to God the father, for He is One with Him in essence, co-essential to Him in not having any change, like Him in everything”. St. Basilious the great also remarks on the words ‘nobleman’ saying, “He is a nobleman not only regarding His divinity, but also regarding His humanity, for being of David’s lineage, biologically speaking”. If this man, this ‘nobleman’ is God’s Word incarnate, then what does He mean by the words (Luke19: 12) “went to a distant country to get royal power for himself and then return”. By the distant country, He may have meant the human nature that due to disobedience, has come to be far from God. It is as if this is a strange country to Him, particularly the Gentiles that have resisted the divine worship, and have excluked themselves away from God’s kingdom. He has come to us, we who were strangers and far away, so He might reign over us, and bring us closer to Him as members of His body. Thus He would carry us in Him as our own Head, and take us back to His kingdom, so we find by His means, a place in the Father’s embrace. This is what St. Paul the apostle proclaimed clearly, saying (Eph.2: 11-19). So then, remember that at one time, you Gentiles by birth, called ‘the uncircumcision’ by those who are called ‘the circumcision’- a physical circumcision made in the flesh by human hands- remember that you were at that time without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus, you who once were far off, have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For He is our peace; in His flesh He has made both groups into one and has broken down the dividing wall, that is, the hostility between us.... So then, you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are citizens with the saints, and also members of the household of God”. St. Basilious the great says “He went to a distant country, not the geographical distance, but the actual state. For God Himself is very ,near to each of us, whenever we are linked to Him through the good deeds. He is also far away whenever we leave Him and get far away from Him by our being so close to perdition. He has come to this distant country on earth, so He accepts the Gentile kingdom, as the Psalm says, (Ps.2: 8) “Ask of Me, and I will make the nations your heritage”. Moreover, St. Augustine says, “The distant country is the Gentiles’ church that is extended to the ends of the earth. He has come to fulfill the gentile’s fullness; then He will return so as to save all of Israel, by their acceptance of the true faith, and their rejection of the stern Zionist concepts”. The Lord has come down to us just as to a distant country by His acquiring our humanity. He established His kingdom in us, so that He returns us to His heavens as a kingdom of His own. As St. Ambrosios says, “He described Himself regarding His godliness and His humanity. He is rich, regarding the perfection of His divinity, and He has impoverished Himself for our sake. Even though He is the rich and the eternal King, and Son of the eternal King, yet He said He went to a distant country by acquiring our flesh; for He went the human way as if on a journey to a foreign land. He came to this world to prepare for Himself a kingdom of us. Thus, Jesus came to this earth to receive for Himself a kingdom of us, we to whom was said ‘God’s kingdom is in you’. At this point, the Son hands over His kingdom to the Father. By His yielding it, Christ does not lose it, but it rather grows. We are Christ’s kingdom and the Father’s kingdom, for it is said (John14: 6) “No one comes to the Father except through Me”. When I am on the way, I am for Christ; and when I cross by Him, I am for the Father. But wherever I may be found, I am through Christ, and am under His control”. Now, what does He mean by the ten slaves to whom He gave ten pounds to trade with, till He comes to them again? St. John Chrysostom thinks the number 10 refers to perfection. It is as if the Lord Jesus has offered to all the slaves, that is, to the entire human race, indiscriminately among the races, or nations, His different absolute gifts so they kindle then till He comes; thus He will reward them so they kindle them till He comes; thus, He will reward them for their honesty in performing their job. He gave the ten slaves so that no one could protest and say that God’s message of salvation does not personally concern him. He has granted to every slave one of the ten pounds; that is, He offered His work and talents to anyone who desires it, without any partiality or discrimination. Some think that the pound is equivalent to ten coins. This is a number that represents absolute perfection. It is as if the Lord, when He offered the pounds, that He wished everyone to trade in His great gifts to obtain honor and glory of a magnificent standard. St. Cyril the great comments on these pounds distributed for the ten slaves, saying, “The Savior distributes His variable divine gifts on those who believe in Him. It is as if we confirm that this is the meaning the pounds stand for. Up till this day, the Lord continues to distribute as the Holy Book shows clearly, for St. Paul the devout one says, (1Cor.12: 4-6) “Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of services, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who activates all of them in everyone. To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good”. He, furthermore, makes clear what he said by the manifestation of the variable talents, in this way; (1Cor.12: 8,9) “To one is given through the Spirit the utterance of wisdom, and to another the utterance of knowledge according to the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit. “In this way, he shows clearly by these words the variable gifts”. Secondly: The Lord Jesus differentiated between His ten slaves who have received the variable gifts; they are the ones who refer to the believers, some of whom struggle with the Spirit so as to win ten pounds, and some of whom gain five. Also, some are careless and are neglectful, and put the talent as if in a handkerchief; and between those who have rejected Him altogether, for He says (Luke19: 14) “But the citizens of his country hated him, and sent a delegation after him saying, ‘We do not want this man to rule over us’.” As St. Cyril the great says “Indeed, the difference is great between those who have received the talents, and those who have denied His kingdom altogether. These are rebellious people who throw away the yoke of His scepter, whereas the others work for serving His glory”. The rebels of His kingdom may refer to the Jews who are the people of His city, for He said (John15: 24) “But now they have seen and hated both Me and My Father”. As the evangelist St. John says (John19: 15) “The chief priests answered ‘We have no king but the emperor, Caesar’.” What does the Lord mean by saying, (Luke19: 14) “sent a delegation after Him”? St. Augustine answers “They sent a delegation after Him because after His resurrection they persecuted His apostles and rejected the Gospel message”. Thirdly: The Lord says, (Luke 19: 15) “When he returned, having received royal power, he ordered these slaves, to whom he had given the money, to be summoned so that he might find out what they had gained by trading”. What does it mean ‘having received royal power’? We may say with St. John Chrysostom that the Lord Jesus reigned over all mankind rightfully, for He is the Creator of everyone. He also reigned by the right of justification and righteousness, for He reigns over the righteous people, and they obey Him willingly. In this way He has two kingdoms: the first one is an obligation on us for being of His creation. The second one is optional; so we accept His reign over us through the work of His grace. This is what He meant by the words ‘having received royal power’. St. Augustine says “He returns after taking His kingdom, for He comes in all glory, Him who who had previously appeared to them so modestly, saying (John18: 36) “My kingdom is not of this world”. Fourthly: Who is he who has gained with the silver pound that is his master’s, another ten pounds? And who is he who has gained, with his master’s pound, another five pounds? Who is he who has received a silver pound from his master, and has put it in a handkerchief, or has buried it in the ground? (Matt.25: 18)? Undoubtedly, the ten silver pounds that the Lord has distributed to His slaves, are no other than “The Word of God”, about whom was said it is like silver purified with fire (Ps121: 3), particularly the law, to which it is referred by number 10, for it has in its essence the ten commandments! The first took the divine commandment, not to bury it, but rather to gain ten pounds, that is, to achieve the angelic life, since the heavenly hosts are nine (including the cherubims and the seraphims) and thus he becomes the tenth host. As for the second one, who has gained five pounds, this refers to the one who is sanctified in his five senses by the Word of God. This means the sanctification of the body with its senses. As for the one who buried the silver pound in his handkerchief or in his land, it is he who hides the Word of God in the prison within himself, or within the limitation of his body, as did Zacchaeus prior to meeting the Lord, when he was besieged by his personal lust and greed. Some think the first man who has gained ten pounds, that he refers to the servant who preaches the Truth, for with the Spirit of the Gospel, he gains the spiritual understanding of the law (The number10). As for the reward, it is rule over ten cities. As St. Ambrosios says “These cities are the souls that are in His hands that are kindled with the divine talent or the Mesaiah coin, the Gospel Word. There is no greater reward for the true minister than to see the souls have accepted the Word and have yielded to the Spirit of Truth. He considers himself as if he has ruled with Christ over this soul, not to dominate, but to shed himself in loving service. As for the second man who gained five pounds, I think he represents the righteous man who, even if he has no talent for edification and preaching the Word, yet, through the sanctification of his five senses, he witnesses and thus he wins souls to the Lord. He therefore becomes as if he reigns over five cities. As for the last one, the one who put the talent in a handkerchief, as father Theophlactius says, the kerchief is used to tie the dead one’s face. It is as if this man, according to the Lord’s talent, it is dead, and so he buries it and deadens it. As for the rest of the parable, you can go back to its interpretation in our book ‘The Gospel according to St. Matthew 25: 14-30, so we do not repeat ourselves. I find it enough to mention at this point the two following comments: +(Luke19: 26) “To all those who have, more will be given”, he who has the faith, will be given the knowledge; and He who has the knowledge, will be given love; and he who has the love, will be given the heritage. St. Clemendous the Alex. + (Luke19: 27) “But as for these enemies of mine who did not want me to be king over thembring them here and slaughter them in my presence”. I wish no one be, careless in meeting the King, lest he be cast out of the Groom’s wedding. I wish no one among us who receives Him sorrowfully, lest he be condemned as an evil citizen who rejects welcoming Him as King over him. Let us come to Him joyfully, all of us. Let us welcome Him happily, and hold on to our banquet in all honesty. Father Methodius 3- His Entry into Jerusalem: We have previously spoken about the entry of the Lord Jesus into Jerusalem in our study of the Gospel of our teacher the evangelist St. Matthew (21: 1-11). Also the Gospel according to our teacher the evangelist St. Mark (11: 1-10). This is why I think it enough here to mention the following as a continuation for the previous two interpretations: Firstly: our greatest Friend has opened the eyes of the blind man, so he gets aware of the divine fellowship, and so he sees deeply God’s love to him, and thus he accepts God’s fellowship (Luke18: 35: 42). The Lord invited Himself toe go into Zacchaeus’ house to show His eagerness to enter our inner house, and sanctify us however much our sins may be. It is as if He has heard Zacchaeus’ answer to the invitation, this inward voice that has been expressed practically by Zacchaeus climbing the sycamore tree, and how he has rejoiced for the Lord’s visit. The Lord therefore offered the salvation to him and to his household, and He declared His fellowship to him. When the Lord mentioned the parable of the ten pounds, He made clear that this fellowship that the Lord has initiated to us freely, requires of us to be serious about it. He grants us His divine gifts, unconditionally on our part, except that we accept the gifts and kindle the talents. He befriends us on condition we accept responding to him, and embody His qualities in us. Now, the Lord enters Jerusalem to proclain the price for this fellowship on His part: this is the offering of His life given for our redemption. This is why the evangelist says (Luke19: 28) “After He had said this, He went on ahead, going up to Jerusalem”. He has come down to us, so He takes us up to Jerusalem, offering us His fellowship and His kingdom! The evangelist continues, saying (Luke19: 29) “When He had come near Bethphage and Bethany, at the place called the Mount of Olives, He sent two of the disciples”. As we have mentioned previously, we said number 2 refers to love that makes the two become one. Because love came in two of the commandments; God’s love and the stranger’s love, thus He began His ministry by sending the disciples to bring the donkey and the colt, when He was close to the two villages, that is, by means of love. Without love, we are not blessed by the Lord’s entry into our Jerusalem. It has been said that Bethphage is a village at the Mount of Olives that concerns priests only, whereas Bethany comprised the home of Lazarus, May and Martha, and they were of the common people. The sending of the two disciples occurred when they were close to the two villages. I can be bold enough at this point to say that the apostolic work in the church does not stop at Bethphage, that is, the priestly job alone, or the job of providing for the church; it is rather completed by the people’s work as well. Our apostolic church is Christ’s body, that embraces the priests as servants to the congregation, working for the account of their salvation and development. It embraces the congregation also, not as passive listeners, but as laborers with the priests in the unity of the Spirit, as true witnesses to the work of salvation. In the first church, there happened (Acts8: 1) “That day a severe persecution began against the church in Jerusalem, and all except the apostles were scattered throughout the countryside of Judea and Samaria”. Those scattered ones began teaching the Word (Acts6: 4). The apostles stayed in Jerusalem, facing the persecution strongly, and the people were released, not to flee but rather to preach and to be witnesses. I say, how important and needy it is at every age for the church to have its members work and toil, whether he be a man or a child. This is not only because the congregation needs him, but also to practice his membership in truth, and be a live laborer in the church, otherwise, if he is passive he will lose his vitality, and his motion will be paralyzed, and he will be a load in his own eyes as well as in others’ eyes. Secondly: The Lord Jesus went to Jerusalem to shed His life for the sake of His friends, offering the entire price, enduring the cross to the end. In His tremendous love, He wished His disciples to share in this work, so He asked of them the very very least, for in His love to mankind, He wished man to have a role, even if its apparent value is so little, yet it is a vital role in the Lord’s eyes, the Lover of mankind. The Lord therefore said to two of His disciples (Luke19: 30) “Go into the village ahead of you, and as you enter it you will find tied there a colt that has never been ridden. Untie it and bring it here”. We have previously spoken of the symbolic meaning of this action; but what we wish to point out clearly at this point, is that the Lord asked for their work however little it may seem in our eyes. This is similar to the father who offers all that he can to his son, then he asks his son for something seemingly very trivial, so that the son pays back to his father love for love. T he son responds to his father’s friendship in a friendly way, and thus the father trains him to work zealously. St. Basilious the great says, “It is appropriate for us, even if we are assigned the least job, to perform it in great zeal and love; we know well that what we perform through God is not trivial, but is rewarded with the heavenly kingdom”. Thirdly: What does this tied colt, not ridden upon by anyone, that the disciples have untied and brought to the Lord Jesus mean? In our previous study of the gospels of St. Matthew and St. Mark, we have seen how the donkey and the colt were a symbol of the Jews and the Gentiles. Everybody was out on the roadside, tied by the chains of disobedience, awaiting the gospel ministers to untie them from those chains by means of God’s Holy Spirit. Then they would become Christ’s modest and also kindled vehicle, ready to go to the eternal Jerusalem. St. Ambrosios has another interpretation, for he says, “The donkey and the colt refer to Adam and Eve who were cast out of paradise. Both sexes were cast out, and those two sexes were called in those animals. St. Mark says (Mark11: 4) they were tied outside the gate”, because he who is not with Christ, remains outside, on the roadside. But he who is with Christ, remains inside. It was tied at the door, having no place, neither a manger nor any food to eat. It was tied by others so they may own it. But as for the Lord, He unties us to keep us in His hands; for grace is much greater than the chains”. Fourthly: What beautiful words are the following (Luke19: 35) “Then they brought it to Jesus; and after throwing their cloaks on the colt, they set Jesus on it”. They brought the colt which belonged to others; they did not offer it to the Lord to sit on except after they threw their clothes on it. It is appropriate for the priest to urge everyone to make an offering to the Lord, through the priest’s preaching of the gospel. But it is appropriate for him when making offering to the Lord for others, that he too participates in giving. He may not have a colt to offer, so let him offer his clothes! He may not have the money, then let him offer the deadening of His body! In other words, the priest does not take for himself, he rather offers to the Lord Jesus, not only what belongs to others but also what God has granted him, even if it were his essential clothes. St. Ambrosios sees what is even more than this; since the clothes refer to the body, the disciples’ taking off their clothes refers to their offering their martyrdom to the Lord Jesus, by shedding their bodies even unto death. Fifthly: There is no doubt the disciples’ clothes were of a cheap kind, not of any value particularly because they have been used. But these clothes were similar to a throne on which the Lord Himself sits when coming into Jerusalem! Likewise, since the cloak symbolizes the body, then our bodies, in all of their righteous deeds and goodness, these bodies are counted valueless as long as they are out of Christ. But if we offer them unto the Lord, then He accepts them as an offering of love. The Lord then sanctifies the body, with its emotions, its feelings, its good deeds, and He smells in all of this a phasurable scent! We can also say, there is no acceptance of a good deed as long as it is tied to our body or to ourselves. But if we take off our own selves, away from us, the Lord accepts every good deed as a cloak for Him to sit on, and also bless. If the two disciples refer to the mission for the Gentiles and the mission for the Jews, then the clothes refer to the preaching job itself. There is no success or any acceptance of a preaching job unless the apostles work in submission to the Lord Jesus who works in them. This is what the setting of the clothes under Him means. If the two disciples refer to the men of the Old Testament, the fathers and the prophets, as well as the men of the New Testament such as the apostles and the disciples, then, the purpose of the two testament men is to offer their work of prophecies and the preaching of the Lord Jesus, so they be hidden in Him and under Him, and thus He sits and reigns! They do not work for their own account, but rather to make the Lord rest by reigning in the believer’s hearts in the two testaments. If the two disciples refer to love for they are two, then their putting their clothes under the Lord Jesus, this refers to the conversion of love into work! The Lord Jesus wishes to be restful concerning our love, the active one and not the theoretical one. Sixthly: The Lord Jesus rested on the colt on which the disciples put their clothes. But as St. Ambrosios says, “The Lord of the world has no joy on being on the colt’s back unless this implies a hidden mystery. It is that He sits inwardly as a King enthroned in the depths of the human souls. He sits as a divine Knight, in the power of His godliness leading the mind’s steps. Blessed are those who carry on their soul’s backs such a Knight! Indeed, blessed are they who have put in their mouths the bridle of the divine Word instead of uttering falsehood”. St. Ambrosios goes on to say a beautiful remark on our carrying the Lord Jesus secretly, saying, “Learn how to carry Christ, for He has carried you as a Shepherd, bringing back the lost sheep (Luke15: 6). He is joyful at your purification. Learn to be under Christ, and thus He will exalt you to God the Father above.” Seventhly: The Lord Jesus was drawing close to the slope of the Mount Olives (Luke19: 37). We have said previously in the interpretation of the gospel according to St. Mark the apostle, that this mountain refers to the church in which the Lord implants His believers as the olive trees, bearing the oil of the divine grace, the olive oil, whenever it is processed in the grinder with his heavenly Groom. This mountain, that is exalted by means of the Spirit, motivates everybody’s hearts to live above what is earthly. It is a mountain that is continually green, a sign of the constant church life. When drawing close to this mountain, the evangelist says, (Luke19: 37, 38) “the whole multitude of the disciples began to praise God joyfully with a loud voice for all the deeds of power that they have seen, saying, ‘Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord! Peace in heaven, and glory in the highest heaven!’” When the Lord draws near to us, just as to the Mount of Olives, He declares His fellowship so divine, and the impact of this love in our inner depths. Thus all of our being is converted by the Holy Spirit violin that plays such a magnificent praise song that no words could possibly express. Then, each of us becomes joyfull and chant in praises, as if carrying in himself a crowd of disciples to the Lord chanting with him. The vision is opened so it sees the amazing deeds, and every being declares accepting the Lord Jesus as King and Lord, saying, “Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord! Peace in heaven, and glory in the highest heaven”. The soul is then exalted to see itself in heaven where it is blessed with the peace of its heavenly Groom, and in sharing His glory above, saying “Peace in heaven and glory in the highest heaven”. St. Cyril the great says “The disciples praised the Lord and Savior of us all, and called Him the King and the Lord, and the peace of heaven and earth. I wish we, too, give Him praise as with the psalmist’s harp, saying (Ps.104: 24) “O Lord, how manifold are Your works! In wisdom You have made them all”. The chanting of praise “Peace in heaven, and glory in the highest heaven” (Luke19: 38); The entry of the Lord Jesus into Jerusalem to offer the Passover in our place, this pulled away the animosity that existed between the Father and humanity, or between heaven and earth. Therefore peace has come to be in heaven, because God no longer is an enemy to us, but He has rather become a true Father. As for the glory above, this means the opening of the heavens in all its glories for man, so he be praised in the highest heavens. Our peace and our glory is peace and glory to the highest heaven. We may also say with St. Augustine that the heaven is the human soul. The work of the Redeemer Christ, has brought back to the soul its inward peace, and being blessed in the exaltation to the highest so it glorifies its eternal Groom. Eighthly: The evangelist St. Luke speaks of the Pharisees’ response saying (Luke19: 39, 40) “Some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to Him, ‘Teacher, order Your disciples to stop’. He answered, ‘I tell you, if these were silent, the stones would shout out’.” The Pharisees wished them to stop; but the Lord Jesus answered that the very stones would cry out as witnesses of His kingdom. As many of the fathers say, the Gentiles, when they worship the rocks, they become spiritually as hard rocks. Those ones who have got hardened in their spirits, their hearts and their thoughts, these have accepted the faith in the Lord Jesus, and so they shouted out. Indeed, these have become silent; for the Jewish nation has denied Him when they saw Him crucified. The Jews have become silent, and so the Gentiles cried out in their faithacceptance. St. Ambrosios thinks the Lord’s words have been fulfilled literally when the Jews were silent in praising and glorifying Him at the crucifixion moments, and thus the rocks have actually cried out, when there occurred an earthquake and the rocks crocked, and the graves opened...etc. + What are these rocks other than those who worship the rocks? If the sons of the Jews are silent, the Gentiles whether young or old, cried out. + We came from among the Gentiles; our fathers used to worship the rocks. St. Augustine 4- His Weeping Over Jerusalem: The Pharisees asked these should be silent, and in bitterness the Lord answered that if these are silent the stones would cry out (Luke19: 40). Indeed, those have become silent in praising Him, and have rejected the work of salvation, and thus the stones, which are the Gentiles cried out to the Lord as witnesses to Him, manifesting their faith. This matter was grieving to the heart of the Lord Jesus, who came offering His hand in friendship to all, and yet His very own have not accepted Him. They rather fought Him instead of befriending Him. This is why He began to pity and grieve over His own people. As the evangelist says (Luke19: 41, 44). “As He came near and saw the city, He wept over it saying, ‘If you, even you, had only recognized on this day the things that make for peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes. Indeed, the days will come upon you, when your enemies will set up ramparts around you and surround you, and hem you in on every side. They will crush you to the ground, you and your children within you, and they will not leave within you one stone upon another; because you did not recognize the time of your visitation from God.’” +Jesus affirmed that all of His blessings He mentioned clearly in the gospel, showed how He offered Himself as an example. He said “Blessed are the meek”, and then He confirmed later on (Matt.11: 29) “learn of Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart.” When He said “Blessed are those who weep”. He too wept over the city. +I so not deny that the first Jerusalem was destroyed due to the wickedness of its inhabitants, but I ask myself: is it not appropriate for you to weep over your spiritual Jerusalem? If someone errs after receiving the mysteries of the Truth, then he is to be wept for, because he was of Jerusalem and now he is no more. Let us weep over our Jerusalem, for due to iniquity, it is surrounded by the enemies, which are, the wicked spirits. These besiege the city, and do not leave one stone on top of the other, particularly if this person has previously been chaste for a long time. He is then impassioned by his physical lust, and he loses his chastity and purity, and thus falls into adultery, and there is not one stop that is left on top of the other. As Ezckiel the prophet said (Ez.18: 24) “None of the righteous deeds that they have done shall be remembered”. The scholar Oreganus + Jeremiah the prophet openly condemned the ignorance of the Jews and their arrogance, and rebuked them in this way (Jer.8: 8) “How can you say, ‘We are wise and the law of the Lord is with us’, when in fact the false pen of the scribes has made it into a lie? The wise shall be put to shame, they shall be dismayed and taken, since they have rejected the word of the Lord”. They have rejected God’s word because they have no wisdom, and are unaware of the holy books, despite the Pharisees and the scribes appearing as having a good reputation, and that they are knowledgeable in the covenant and the law. They have not accepted the only begotten Son when He became incarnate, neither have they bent their necks in obedience to the advice He gave them in the gospel. By their evil conduct they denied God’s word, and thus they have become rejected by God’s just judgment. God tells Jeremiah (Jer.6: 30) “They are called ‘rejected silver’ for the Lord has rejected them.” It has also been said (Jer.7: 29) “Cut off your hair and throw it away; raise a lamentation on the bare heights, for the Lord has rejected and forsaken the generation that provoked His wrath.” The fruit of their getting lost, is the disasters befalling them, and their endurance of all misery as a result of their grumbling against the Lord. Their fall into this misery is not according to the good will of God, for He wants them to obtain the beatitudes in faith and obedience. When it is said that He looked upon the city and wept over it, this is to teach us how much He grieved over it, if this is appropriate to say about God who is above everything else. If He had not manifested His grief in a human way, we would not have realised how deep it was. He also wept over Lazarus, so we understand His grief for man’s fall under the power of death, for He has created everything as incorruptible, and due to Satan’s envy, death has entered the world. Likewise He wept over Jerusalem for He wanted to bless it, as I said, by her accepting the faith in Him and her appreciation of peace with God. This is what He called for by Isaiah, saying, (Is27: 5) “Let us make peace with Him”, that is to say, let us make peace with God by faith, as St. Paul the wise one said (Rom.5: 1) “Therefor, since we are justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ”. But, as I have said, they hastened towards rebellion and uncontrolled scorn, thinking lightly of Christ’s salvation and rejecting Him. This is why Christ blames them, telling them, “Do you not know what is for your own peace? Do you not know what is profitable and essential for your own peace with God?” Even before the incarnation, the Israelites proved themselves to be unworthy of Christ’s salvation, for they have scorned the partnership with God, and have established for themselves false gods, and have killed the prophets even though they kept warning the Jews of deserting the living God, and commanded them to be committed to God’s holy commandments. Despite this, they did not respond, and they grieved God in many ways, even when thy were called for salvation. This is what the Savior Himself informs us with, when He said (Matt.23: 37, 38) “Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often have I desired to gather your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing! See, your house is left to you desolate!” You can see Him here, how He truly indeed wished to give them His mercy, yet they rejected His help. For this reason, they fell under the judgment of God’s holy law. They have become deprived of being members in His spiritual fold. One of the saintly prophets said to the Jewish nation (Hos.4: 5) “and I will destroy your mother. My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge; because you have rejected knowledge, I reject you from being a priest to Me. And since you have forgotten the law of your God, I also will forget your children.” He compares Jerusalem to night; because the darkness of ignorance has obstructed the hearts of the Jews, and has blinded their vision; therefore they were given to destruction and killing. In this way Jerusalem, the sanctified famous city, fell under the destruction catastrophe, as mentioned in history. Isaiah the prophet confirmed this prior to anyone; for he cried out loudly amongst the Jewish crowds, saying, (Is.1: 7) “Your country lies desolate, your cities are burned with fire; in your very presence aliens devour your land, it is desolate, as overthrown by foreigners.” This is the price for the vain and false glory that belongs to the Jews. This is the punishment for their disobedience, and this is the suffering that justly befell them due to their arrogance. But as for us, we have the hope of the saints, and every blessing, because we honor Christ in faith. St. Cyril the great + The merciful Savior wept over the fall of the deceiving city which did not know what would befall her; “If you only knew, you too, you would have wept as well.” You are happy now, because you do not know what is about to befall you.” He says (Luke19: 42) “if you had only recognized on this day...” because when the city had yielded to the physical passions, it obtained on this day what is for her temporal peace. The Lord made clear what these things offer her, saying (Luke19: 42) “But now they are hidden from your eyes”. If it had not been hidden from her heart’s eyes what future evil would befall her, she would not have been happy with the present affluence. For this reason He added on the spot the punishment that would befall her “The days will come upon you” (Luke19: 43) Here He refers to what happened by means of the two Caesais of Rome: Vespenian and Titus when they destroyed Jerusalem. Our Savior has not ceased to weep up till now through His elict when He sees a person leaving his good and righteous life and going the malicious way! Indeed, the evil soul has a certain day; for if it is joyful for a transient time, when it finds its peace in the temporal matters, thinking it is obtaining its pleasure in what is earthly, yet it avoids the future look that confuses its present pleasure. Pope Gregory the great 5- The Purification of the Temple: The Lord Jesus has come to establish His fellowship with mankind. When Jerusalem rejected His fellowship, it exposed itself to absolute destruction, in great stupidity of hers. But the Lord did not stand in folded arms, but He rather offered two jobs: that of purifying the temple of the buyers and sellers (Luke19: 45, 46), as well as teaching in it everyday (Luke19: 47, 48). If the first act is passive in which He expelled evil, yet the second one is positive in which the Lord declared His fellowship to His listeners. The evangelist says (Luke19: 45, 46) “Then He entered the temple and began to drive out those who were selling things there; and He said it is written, “My house shall be a house of prayer; but you have made it a den of robbers.’” We have already spoken elaborately about the purification of the temple in our interpretation of St. Matthew’s gospel (Matt.21: 12; 13; St. Mark11: 15-17). +When He mentioned the evils that would befall the city on the spot He entered the temple to cast out those who bought and sold in it. He showed the destruction of the people falls in a major way due to the iniquity of the priests. Those sitting in the temple who accepted the money, no doubt, practiced pressure that would harm those who offered nothing. Pope Gregory the great +God does not want to have His temple a place of gathering for the sellers, but a place of sanctification. He wants to assure us that priesthood is not fulfilled through trading in religion, but rather by voluntary and free giving. St. Ambrosios St. Cyril the great thinks in his remarks on St. Luke’s gospel, that the casting out of the sellers is a symbolic act; Christ has come as our Passover to yield Himself up. Thus the sacrifice off blood had to be obsolete; for there is no more any need of animals or birds to be slaughtered. The scholar Oreganus thinks the buying and the selling here refer to the change in the spiritual service to a work of trade, particularly the selling of the pigeons, for it refers to the selling of the Holy Spirit gifts. Why did the Lord say about the temple “You have made it a den of thieves”? This is because the thief does not mind who is around him; he rather robs and kills. In this same way the Jewish leaders changed their mission; for instead of offering the word of the Truth, the one that grants life, they began to exploit their positions in trading. They killed their brethren spiritually by being an obstruction to them, and by killing the faith by their behaviour. If the faith concerning the temple stands for the soul concerning the body, then the leaders’ actions cast out the faith, so that the temple stays as a dead corpse. This is the thieving process, in the spiritual concept. 6- His Teaching in the Temple: (Luke19: 47, 48) “Everyday He was teaching in the temple. The chief priests, the scribes, and the leaders of the people kept looking for a way to kill Him; but they did not find anything they could do, for all the people were spell bound by what they heard.” + Our Savior did not cease to preach the word, even to the unworthy ones, and those who denied Him. Pope Gregory the great The people, in all their simplicity, clung to the Lord Jesus, whereas the knowledgeable ones were deprived of Him, such as the chief priests, the scribes and the prestigious ones. They have deprived themselves of the Lord Jesus’ grace and His heavenly gifts. The meek and simple ones entered His divine fellowship, whereas the wise ones lost this divine gift. As St. Cyril the great says, “Does not this increase their punishment? For, those who were fit to preach hindered the work of preaching.”

< CH 18 CH 20 >

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