The Good Shepherd


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K. C. Lee
Golden Story Collector
June 8, 2017

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"I am the good shepherd. . ."

Why Jesus Came To This World


In the beginning, before the world was made, the Lord Jesus lived in heaven. He lived in that happy place with God. Then God made the world. He told the hills to come up out of the earth, and the seas to run down into the deep places which He had made for them. He made the grass, the trees, and all the pretty flowers. He put the sun, the moon, and the stars in the sky. He filled the water with swimming fish, the air with flying birds, and the dry land with walking and creeping animals. And then He said, 'Let Us make man.' Who were meant by 'Us'? Who was with God when He made the world? It was Jesus. The Bible says:

'THE WORD (that means Jesus) WAS WITH GOD, AND THE WORD WAS GOD. THE SAME WAS IN THE BEGINNING WITH GOD. ALL THINGS WERE MADE BY HIM.'

So after He had made everything else, God made a man, and named him Adam. God put Adam into the beautiful Garden of Eden, and at first he was good and very happy. God also made a woman, named Eve, to be his wife, and to help him to take care of the garden. All the fruit in the garden, except what grew on one tree, was given to Adam and Eve to eat; all the animals were their servants; and God was their Friend.

A wicked angel, who had been turned out of heaven, saw how happy Adam and Eve were, and he was angry, and thought, 'I will make them as bad and unhappy as I am; I will make them do what God has told them not to do. Then he will turn them out of Eden, and they and their children will be my servants for ever, and I shall be king of the world.'

So the wicked angel, whose name was Satan, came into Eden. He got Adam and Eve to take the fruit which God had told them not to eat, and God had to send them out of the beautiful garden; for God had said He would punish Adam and Eve if they took that fruit, and God always keeps His word.

But God went on loving Adam and Eve even when He knew that He must punish them, and He tried to make them good in this way. He thought, 'I will send My dear Son down to the earth. He shall become a little child, and grow up to be a man, and shall die for the sins of the world.'

Hundreds and hundreds of years passed away before Jesus came. But a great many of the people who lived in Palestine were expecting Him. God had said that when Jesus came, He would be a Jew. The Jews were very proud about that. They often talked about the coming of Jesus. When they talked about Him, they called Him the Messiah.

Just before Jesus was born, the Jews were very unhappy. Roman soldiers had been fighting with them, and had conquered them, and made them servants of the great Roman king. He was called Augustus Caesar, and he gave the Jews another king called Herod. He was very wicked.

Map of Palestine at the time of Christ

The Jews longed to get rid of Herod, and many of them thought, 'It will be all right when the Messiah comes. The Messiah will fight against the Romans; He will drive them away from our land; and then He will be our King instead of that wicked Herod.' But only a few Jews remembered that Jesus was coming to fight against Satan and against sin.

The place where the Jews lived had four or five names. It was called the Land of Canaan at the first, then the Land of Promise, and then the Land of Israel. But we call it the Holy Land, or Palestine.

If you look at the map of Palestine, you will see a river running from the north of Palestine to the south. That river is called the Jordan. And Palestine is divided into four parts,--one at the top (we call that the north), one at the bottom (we call that the south), one in the middle, and one on the other or eastward side of the Jordan.

The part in the North is called Galilee. The part in the south is called Judaea. The part in the middle is called Samaria. The part on the other side of the Jordan is called Perea.

Palestine is full of hills, with great holes, called caves, in their sides. Palestine is not very big; England is about six times, and New York State about five times larger. Washington is called the capital of the United States. The capital of Palestine was Jerusalem.

Jerusalem was a very beautiful city. It was built on four or five hills which were very close together. One of these hills was called Mount Moriah. On the top of Mount Moriah there was a great Temple where the Jews went to pray. Part of the Temple was called the Holy Place, the part at the very top of the mountain. It was splendid with its shining gold and white marble, but it was not very large, for the people were not allowed to go into it. When it was time for the Jews to go to the Temple, silver trumpets were blown once, twice, three times, and then the gates were thrown open, and the people crowded into the courts.

Jesus Is Born In Bethlehem


Mary, the mother of Jesus, lived in the little town of Nazareth, among the hills of Galilee. She was going to be married to a carpenter called Joseph, who, like herself, lived in Nazareth. One day God sent the angel Gabriel to Mary with a message. Mary, when she saw and heard the angel, was a little frightened. But the angel told her he had some glad news for her. Jesus, the Son of God, the Messiah, was coming into the world very soon, and He was to come in the form of a baby, as Mary's little child. And Gabriel said that when He was born, Mary must call Him JESUS.

Mary had a cousin named Elizabeth, who lived more than a hundred miles away from Nazareth, and Mary longed to talk with her about all these wonderful things. So she got ready for a long journey, and went off into the hill country of Judaea to see Elizabeth.

And God had also promised to send Elizabeth a son. And soon after Mary's visit the baby was born, and all Elizabeth's friends were glad, and came to see her, and to thank God with her for His great kindness.

The little Jew babies have a name given to them when they are eight days old. And Elizabeth's son was named John.

One night, soon after Mary got back from her cousin Elizabeth's house, the angel of the Lord spoke to Joseph in a dream. The angel told Joseph to marry Mary, and he told him Mary's secret about the Son of God coming to earth as her little child, and he said to Joseph, 'THOU SHALT CALL HIS NAME JESUS, FOB HE SHALL SAVE HIS PEOPLE FROM THEIR SINS.' When Joseph woke up, his first thought was to do what the angel had told him, and he at once took Mary to his own home as his wife.

About this time Caesar Augustus, the great Emperor at Rome, sent word to Herod that he was to take a census of the Jews. Everybody's name had to be written down and his age, and many other things about him. Every twenty years Augustus had a census taken, so that he might know how much money the Jews ought to pay him, and how many Jew soldiers he ought to have.

In Palestine, at census time, people had to go to the towns where their fathers' fathers lived a long time ago, and had to have their names put down there instead of having them put down in their own homes. Now, both Joseph and Mary belonged to the family of the great king David, who was born in Bethlehem. So Mary had to prepare for a long journey, and go with her husband to Bethlehem. Bethlehem is six miles from Jerusalem. It is on the top of a hill, and people have to climb up a steep road to get into the town.

An inn is a large house that people stay at when they are on a journey. The inns in Palestine have four walls, with a door in front, and with a great empty space for camels and horses inside. In the middle of the empty space is a fountain; and all round the walls, a little bit higher than the part where the animals are, there are a number of places like empty stone arbors. These empty places are called leewans, and they are open in front, so that everybody can see into them. Yet Mary and Joseph, after all their long journey from Nazareth, could not find even an empty leewan to lie down in.

The shepherd's care

Near that inn there was a place in which asses and camels were kept. It was perhaps a cave in the side of the hill. And because there was no room for them in the inn, Mary and Joseph had to go into that stable to sleep, and in that stable Jesus Christ was born. Mary wrapped Him in swaddling clothes, and laid Him in the manger in the place where the animals' food was kept.

On the hill where Bethlehem stands there are green places where shepherds feed their flocks. There are wild animals in Palestine; and all night long the shepherds of Bethlehem watched to see that no harm happened to their sheep. One night an angel of the Lord stood by them and a bright light shown round about them. The shepherds were afraid; but the angel said, 'FEAR NOT; FOR BEHOLD, I BRING YOU GOOD TIDINGS (OR NEWS) OF GREAT JOY, WHICH SHALL BE TO ALL PEOPLE. FOR UNTO YOU IS BORN THIS DAY IN THE CITY OF DAVID A SAVIOUR, WHICH is CHRIST THE LORD.' And suddenly there was seen with the angel a number of the angels of heaven. And they praised God, and said, 'GLORY TO GOD IN THE HIGHEST, AND ON EARTH PEACE, GOOD WILL TOWARD MEN.'

When the light faded, and the song ended, and the angels had gone back into heaven, the shepherds climbed quickly over the hillside to Bethlehem. And there, in the stable near the inn, they found Mary and Joseph, and the Babe lying in the manger, as the angels had said.

Jesus was the eldest son of His mother. And the eldest sons in Jewish houses, when they were forty days old, were taken to the Temple, and given to God.

So now, when Jesus was nearly six weeks old, He was brought from Bethlehem by Mary and Joseph to the Temple at Jerusalem. The mothers used to take a lamb with them, or two pigeons, as a sacrifice to God. Mary took two pigeons. She was not rich enough to buy a lamb.

A long way on the eastern side of the Jordan, there were countries where the people used to watch the sun and the moon and the stars very carefully. If they saw anything new and strange in the heavens, they thought it meant that something wonderful was going to happen. But some of them knew and had heard from the Jews about God, and about the Messiah who was coming; and they, like the Jews, were longing for Jesus.

One day these wise men saw a bright star which they had never seen before. And as they looked at it they felt sure that a great King of the Jews had been born in Judaea. So they took camels and rich presents of gold and sweet-smelling stuff--such as people gave to kings in those days--and they loaded their camels, and left their homes, and rode for many weeks till they came to Jerusalem. And when they got there they said, 'Where is He that is born King of the Jews? for we have seen His star in the east, and are come to worship Him.'

Bethlehem

When Herod heard about these wise men he was troubled. He sent for the best priests, and other clever men, and asked them where Christ would be born. And they said to him, 'In Bethlehem of Judaea.' They had read that in the Bible. Then Herod said to the wise men, 'Go and search out carefully about the young Child; and when ye have found Him, bring me word, that I also may come and worship Him.'

When the wise men had heard the king, they went away to Bethlehem, and lo, the star went before them, till it came and stood over where the young Child was. And they rejoiced with great joy. And when they were come into the house (there was room in the inn now) they saw the young Child with Mary, His mother, and they fell down and worshipped Him, and they gave Him their presents--gold, and frankincense, and myrrh. But the wise men did not go back to Herod. God told them in a dream not to go. So they went home by another way instead.

After the wise men were gone, the angel of the Lord came to Joseph in his sleep, and said to him, 'Arise, and take the young Child and His mother, and flee into Egypt, and be thou there until I bring thee word: for Herod will seek the young Child to destroy Him.' That meant to kill Him. So Joseph at once got up, and took the young Child and His mother by night, and went away to Egypt.

When Herod found that the wise men did not come back, he was very angry, and he sent his soldiers to Bethlehem, and had all the baby boys killed--all the children who were less than two years of age. And they killed all the baby boys in the places near Bethlehem as well. And the poor mothers cried, and nobody could comfort them.

Joseph and Mary stayed in Egypt, waiting for the angel to bring them word that it was time to go back again to Palestine. And one night, when Jesus was about three years old, the message came. The angel of the Lord said to Joseph in a dream, 'Arise, and take the young Child and His mother, and go into the land of Israel: for they are dead which sought the young Child's life.' Joseph got up, and took the young Child and His mother, and went into the land of Israel. But when he came there, people said to him, 'Herod is dead, but his son Archelaus is king.' And when Joseph knew that Archelaus was king, he was afraid to stay in Judaea. And God spoke to him again in a dream, and told him to go back to Galilee. So Joseph and Mary went back to Galilee, and lived in Nazareth again.

The Boyhood Of Jesus


The Bible tells us only a few stories about the time when Jesus was a little boy.

Nazareth is built up the side of a hill, and there are plenty of gardens and fields down below. Amongst these fields there is a fountain, where the women of Nazareth go to fetch water. Jesus must often have gone with His mother to that fountain; and sometimes, when she was tired, He may have fetched the water for her Himself.

Nazareth, from hill above

Mary wore a long blue dress, tied round the waist, and a cap with pieces of money sewn round it, and a white cloth over her head and shoulders, just as the women of Nazareth do now; and Jesus was very likely dressed in a red cap, a bright tunic, a sash of many colours, and a little jacket of white or blue, just as the boys of Nazareth are dressed now.

The houses of Nazareth are white. Grape vines grow over their walls, and doves sit and coo on the flat roofs. There is not much inside the houses: sometimes they have only one room. There is a lamp in the middle of the room, and round the walls there are waterpots. There are bright-coloured quilts on a shelf. People unroll these quilts at night and lie down upon them. There are mats and carpets in the house, and a bright-coloured box with treasures in it, and a painted wooden stool; and that is nearly all.

Jewish women grinding corn

When the people of the house want to eat, they put a tray of food on the wooden stool, and they sit round the tray on the floor, and eat with their hands. People in Palestine would not know what to do with tables and chairs, and knives and forks, like ours.

The streets of Nazareth are long and narrow, and they are full of chickens and dogs, of donkeys and camels, of blind beggars and children. There are little shops by the side of the streets, something like the leewans in the inn which I told you about. But the tailors, the shoemakers, the carpenters, and the coffee-grinders do not always sit in their shops. They like to sit on the ground outside, and do their work in the street; and the sellers of dates and of figs, beans, barley, oranges, and other things, sit down in the street to sell their goods.

Joseph, Mary's husband, was a carpenter, and Jesus became a carpenter, and often came out of the little shop and sat on the ground with plane, hammer, glue, and saw, and worked away in the narrow street, just as the carpenters of Nazareth do now.

When the Jewish boys were twelve years old, they were called 'Sons of the Law,' and they were taken to Jerusalem for the Passover. When Jesus was twelve years old, Joseph and His mother took Him up with them to the Passover. When the week was over, Mary and Joseph started for the journey back to Nazareth. But Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem. Thousands of people must have been leaving Jerusalem just at the very time that Mary and Joseph went away. So when Mary and Joseph did not see Jesus in the crush, they did not at first feel frightened. They thought, 'We shall find Him soon with some of our friends.' All day long they kept on looking for Him in the crowd, but they did not see Him. And at last they went back again to Jerusalem looking for Him.

Next day they found Him in one of the courts of the Temple. Several Rabbis were there, and everyone who saw and heard Him was astonished. They asked Him questions too, and He answered them wisely and well. Nobody could understand how a young boy could be so wise.

When Mary and Joseph saw Jesus sitting here, with Rabbis coming all around Him, they were greatly surprised. But His mother asked Him why He had stayed behind, and said, 'Thy father and I have sought Thee sorrowing.' Jesus said to His mother, 'HOW IS IT THAT YE HAVE SOUGHT ME? WIST YE NOT (DID YOU NOT KNOW) THAT I MUST BE ABOUT MY FATHER'S BUSINESS?'

And now He went back with her and with Joseph to Nazareth, and obeyed them, exactly as He always had done. We do not know much more about Jesus when He was a boy. But we do know that as He grew taller, He 'increased in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and man.'

John The Baptist


You remember about the child that was called John. Zacharias, his father, and Elisabeth gave John to God directly he was born. They never cut his hair, and they never let him drink wine, or eat grapes, or eat raisins. That was the way they did in those days to show that he belonged to God.

When John was old enough to understand, he gave himself to God. And as he grew older, he made up his mind that he would leave his home and friends, and go and live in the wilderness; and his food there was locusts and wild honey. Locusts are like large grasshoppers, and poor people in the East often eat them. They taste like shrimps, but are not so nice.

God had said that John should go before the Messiah to prepare the way for Him--to get people's hearts ready for the Saviour. And when John was in the wilderness, God told him to begin his work. So John went down from the wild hills of Judaea to the River Jordan, and he began to preach to everyone who passed by. There were many people passing by, for he went to the place where people crossed the Jordan.

The River Jordan

John said, REPENT!' (that means, 'Be really sorry for your sins'), 'FOR THE KINGDOM OF HEAVEN is AT HAND.' A very great many people went from Jerusalem, and out of all the land of Judaea, on purpose to hear John preaching. And when they had heard him, some of them said to him, 'What shall we do then?' And John told them that they were to be kind to one another; that they were to give food to the hungry and clothing to the naked.

Some even of the proud Rabbis came down to the Jordan to John, and John told these Rabbis that they must not be proud because they were Jews, but must try to be good really and truly.

A great many of the people who heard John preach felt sorry for the things they had done, and they told John how sorry they were, and John baptized them in the River Jordan. John told the people that he could only baptize their bodies with water, but that some one else was coming who would be able to baptize their hearts with the Holy Spirit. This was Jesus.

Jericho, from plains above

After John had baptized a great many persons, he saw coming to him, one day, for baptism, a Man about thirty years old; and when John looked at Him, he saw that He was quite different from all the people who had been to him before. It was Jesus who had come to be baptized before He began His work. He wanted to obey God in everything; and He wanted to show that He was the Brother and Friend of all the people whom John had been baptizing. And so, as Jesus wished it, John went into the River Jordan with Him and baptized Him.

When Jesus had been baptized, and was full of the Holy Spirit, He went away into a wilderness. And there, when Jesus was tired and hungry, Satan came to Him--just as he came to Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden--to tempt Him.

To tempt means to try. Mother tries you sometimes, to see whether you can be trusted; and God tries us all sometimes. But if God tries us, it is to make us better; and if Satan tries us, it is to make us worse.

Every time that Jesus was tempted, He said, 'It is written,' and then He told Satan something 'which was written in the Bible. That is the very best way to fight Satan. The Bible is called 'the Sword of the Spirit,' and Satan is afraid when he sees us using that Sword. Let us ask God to fill us, like Jesus, with the Holy Spirit, and then we shall soon learn how to use the Sword of the Spirit, and we too shall be able to drive Satan away when he comes to tempt us.

Only we must be sure to read the Bible, as Jesus used to do, or else we shall never be able to drive Satan away by telling him the things that God has written there.

Jesus Begins His Work


One day, when the fight of Jesus with the devil in the wilderness was over, He came to Bethabara, where John was baptizing, and when John saw Jesus coming towards him, he said:

'BEHOLD THE LAMB OF GOD, WHICH TAKETH AWAY THE SIN OF THE WORLD.'

The next day John saw Jesus again, and again he said the same words:

'BEHOLD THE LAMB OF GOD!'

John called Jesus the Lamb of God, because He had come to die for our sins.

Two men were standing close to John when Jesus came by, and they heard what he said. The name of one of these men was Andrew, and of the other John. Jesus knew that they would like to speak to Him, so He turned round and asked them what they wanted. 'Master,' they said, 'where dwellest Thou?' (that means 'where are you living?') Jesus said, 'Come, and you shall see.' And He took the two disciples to His home, and He let them stay with Him the whole of the day. What a happy day that must have been!

Andrew had a brother called Simon, and he went and found him, and told him that he had found the Messiah, and brought him to see his new Master. So now Jesus had three disciples--John, Andrew, and Simon; and next day He took them away with Him to Galilee. While they were going along, Jesus saw a man called Philip, who came from the place where Simon and Andrew lived when they were at home. Jesus told Philip to come with Him, and he came. But Philip went to a friend of his, a very good man called Nathanael, also called Bartholomew, and he told him that he had found Jesus of Nazareth, the Messiah, and begged him to come and see Him.

How many disciples had Jesus now? Let us see. John, Andrew, Simon, Philip, and Nathanael--five. And very likely John had brought his brother James to Jesus. If so, that would make six.

Directly Jesus came into Galilee He was invited to a wedding, at a place called Cana, and all of His disciples with Him. Jesus went to the wedding because He likes to see people happy, and loves to make them happy. In America, people often drink more wine at weddings and at other times than is good for them, and a great many people go without any wine at all, so as to set a good example. But in the East it is different. The people there hardly ever take too much wine. So Jesus allowed His disciples to use it, and He drank it Himself. There was some wine at the wedding party to which Jesus went; but presently it came to an end. Then Mary came to Jesus, and said, 'They have no wine.' Jesus knew what Mary was thinking about, but He had to tell her to wait; and He had to make Mary understand that He could not do everything now which she told Him to do, exactly as when He was a boy. He was God's Son as well as Mary's, and He had God's work to do, and He must do it at God's time.

A modern Jew's wedding party in Galilee

But when Mary went back, she told the servants to do whatever Jesus told them. Close to the house there were six great stone jars or waterpots, and Jesus said to the servants, 'Fill the waterpots with water. And they filled them up to the brim. And lo! when the water was taken out of the jars, it was water no longer, but wine.

This was the very first miracle that Jesus did, and He did it to make people happy, and to make them believe that He was the Son of God. Dear children, Jesus wants you to be happy. And the best way to be happy is to ask Jesus to go with you everywhere and always, just as those wedding people asked Him to come to their party.

He did not stay very many days in Capernaum. The lovely spring flowers told Him that the Passover time was coming, so He went up with His disciples, to Jerusalem. When Jesus had come to Jerusalem, you may be sure that His disciples and He soon went to the Temple, and when they got inside the great Court of the Gentiles they found a market was going on there. Men were selling oxen and sheep and doves for sacrifice. Others were sitting at little tables changing money. And there must have been plenty of noise, for people in the East shout and quarrel a great deal when they are buying or selling.

When Jesus saw this, He was angry; and He made a whip with pieces of cord, and He drove away all the people who were selling in the Temple. And He turned out the sheep and the oxen; and he told the men who sold doves to take them away, and not turn His Father's House into a store. Jesus upset the tables of the money-changers too, and poured out their money.

Jesus did a great many wonderful things when He was in Jerusalem that Passover time, and many persons saw His miracles, and thought, 'Yes, this is the Messiah.' But Jesus did not trust any of those people. He knew that they did not really love Him. But there was one man in Jerusalem who did want to be Jesus Christ's disciple. His name was Nicodemus. He was a great Rabbi, but not proud like the other Rabbis, and he wanted to ask Jesus a great many questions. But he did not want the other Rabbis and the priests to see him coming to Jesus. So he came to Jesus by night--in the dark.

Did Jesus say, 'You are not brave, Nicodemus, I am ashamed of you; go away'? Ah no! He talked kindly to him, and He told him that he would have to be born again. He meant that Nicodemus must ask God to send him His Holy Spirit, and to give him a new heart. And then Jesus explained to Nicodemus why He had come down from heaven. He said:

'GOD SO LOVED THE WORLD, THAT HE GAVE HIS ONLY BEGOTTEN SON, THAT WHOSOEVER BELIEVETH IN HIM SHOULD NOT PERISH, BUT HAVE EVERLASTING LIFE.'

Some Words And Works Of Jesus


Jesus having to go to Galilee, made up His mind to pass through Samaria. It was a long, rough journey, and at last they came near a town called Sychar. Near by was the well dug by Jacob when he lived in Shechem. Jesus was so tired that He sat down to rest on the edge of the well, while His disciples went on to buy food.

Jacob's well

While Jesus was sitting by the well, a woman came there to draw water. Jesus asked her to do something kind for Him, He said 'Give Me to drink.' The woman was surprised, and said to Him, 'You are a Jew, and I am a Samaritan. Why then do you ask me for water?'

Jesus said, 'IF YOU KNEW WHO I AM, YOU WOULD HAVE ASKED ME, AND I WOULD HAVE GIVEN YOU LIVING WATER.' Jesus meant the Holy Spirit. He gives the Holy Spirit to everyone who asks Him.

Then Jesus spoke to the woman about the bad things she had done, and she tried to make Him talk about something else. But she could not stop His wonderful words. At last she said, 'I know that the Messiah is coming. He will tell us all things.' Then Jesus said to her, 'I THAT SPEAK UNTO THEE AM HE.'

Just then His disciples came up to the well, and they were very much astonished to see Him talking to the woman. The Jew men were too proud to talk much to women, even if the women were Jews; and this was a Samaritan. But the disciples did not ask Jesus any questions about why He talked to the woman. They brought Him the things they had been buying, and said, 'Master, eat.' But Jesus was so happy that He had been able to speak good words to that poor woman that He did not feel hungry any more. He told His disciples that doing God's work was the food He liked best.

After this Jesus lived for awhile first at Nazareth, and then at Capernaum. There was a boy ill in Capernaum just then with a fever. It is so hot near the Sea of Galilee that the people who live there often get fever. That sick boy's father was rich, but money could not make the dying boy well. His father had heard of Jesus, and when he knew that Jesus had come into Galilee, and that He was only a few miles away, he came to Him, and begged Him to come down to Capernaum and make his child well. At first Jesus said to him, 'You will not believe on Me unless you see Me do some wonderful thing.' But when He saw how eager the poor father was, He thought He would try him, and He said to him, 'Go thy way, thy son liveth.' Directly Jesus said that, the man felt sure in his heart that his boy was well. He did not ask Jesus any more to come with him, but he just went back home quietly by himself.

Next day, as he was going down the long hilly road from Cana to Capernaum, some of the servants from his house came to meet him, and they said to him, 'Thy son liveth.' Then the father asked them what time it was when the boy began to get better, and said, 'Yesterday, at the seventh hour (that means at one o'clock) the fever left him.' Then the father knew that that was the very time when Jesus had said to him, 'Thy son liveth,' and he and all the people in the house believed in Jesus.

The Jews could not bear paying taxes to the Romans, and they hated the publicans. They would not eat with them or talk with them. But Jesus did not hate the publicans. He only hated the wrong things they did. So one day, when He was outside the town of Capernaum, and saw Matthew sitting and taking the taxes, He said to him, 'Follow Me.' And Matthew got up from his work, and at once left all and followed Jesus.

Jesus often told His disciples beautiful stories. One day He told them a story to teach them not to be proud like the Pharisees. 'Two men went up into the Temple to pray: the one a Pharisee, and the other a publican. The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, God, I thank Thee that I am not as other men are; I thank Thee that I am not even as this publican. Twice a week I go without food, and I give away a great deal of money. But the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me, a sinner. When the publican went home that night he was better and happier than the Pharisee. The Pharisee thought he was good; he did not want to be forgiven, and so God let him carry all his sins back home with him again. But the publican knew he was a sinner, and was sorry, and so God forgave his sins.'

While Jesus was in Capernaum, He went every Sabbath day to teach in the synagogue. One day a man shouted out--

'What have we to do with Thee, Thou Jesus of Nazareth? I know Thee who Thou art, the Holy One of God.'

Satan had put an unclean spirit, or devil, in that man. Jesus was not angry with the poor man, but He spoke to the unclean spirit, and said, 'Be silent, and come out of him.' He came out, and the man became well. The people in the synagogue were greatly surprised. They said, 'What thing is this? He commandeth even the unclean spirits and they obey Him.'

When the service was over, the people who had seen the miracle went home, and talked to everybody about what they had seen. Some of them had sick friends, and some had friends with unclean spirits, and they longed to bring them to Jesus. But it was the Sabbath, and they would not bring them until the evening, at which time their Sabbath came to an end. So as soon as the sun set that Sabbath day, a great crowd was seen standing round Peter's house. It seemed as if all the people of Capernaum must be there! They had brought their sick friends, and laid them down at the door. And Jesus put His hands on the sick people, and healed them all.

In the east there is a dreadful illness called leprosy, and the people who have it are called lepers. No doctor can cure it. At the time when Jesus lived on the earth, lepers were not allowed to come into cities. And they had to go about with nothing on their heads, and with their dresses torn, and with their mouths covered over; and when they saw anybody coming, they had to call out, 'Unclean! unclean!'

One day when Jesus went into a town a leper saw Him. The poor man came to Jesus and knelt down before Him, and fell on his face. And he said, 'If Thou wilt, Thou canst make me clean.' And Jesus put out His hand, and touched him, and said to him, 'I will; be thou clean.' And as soon as Jesus had said that, the leper was well.

Sin is just like leprosy. A baby's naughtiness does not look very bad; but that naughtiness spreads and gets stronger as baby gets older, and nobody but Jesus can take it away.

Jesus Christ's body must often have felt very tired, for crowds followed Him about all the time. They came from Perea, and from Judaea, and from other places too, to see the wonderful new Teacher. And Jesus preached to them all, and healed their sicknesses. The most wonderful sermon that was ever preached in all the world is called the Sermon on the Mount, because Jesus sat down on a hill to preach it.

After a time Jesus went up again to Jerusalem. In or near Jerusalem there was a spring of water which was as good as medicine, because it made sick people well if they bathed in it often enough. This spring ran into a bathing-place called the Pool of Bethesda. Numbers of sick persons came to bathe in that pool. One Sabbath day Jesus saw quite a crowd there. Some were blind, some were lame, some were sick of the palsy. They were sitting, or lying, by the side of the pool. Jesus was very sorry for one poor man there. He had been ill thirty-eight years. So Jesus said to the man, 'Arise, take up thy bed, and walk.' And at once the sick man was well, and took up his mattress and walked.

Now the Rabbis had a number of very silly rules about the Sabbath day. Even if a man broke his arm or his leg on the Sabbath the Rabbis would not allow the doctor to put the bone right till the next day. So they were very angry when they found that Jesus had made that poor man well on the Sabbath day, and had told him to carry his mattress home. They told the man he was doing very wrong, and they tried to kill Jesus. But Jesus told them that His Heavenly Father was never idle, and that He must do the same works as God. That made the Rabbis more angry than ever. They said, 'He calls God His own Father, making Himself equal with God.' From that time the Jews in Jerusalem made up their minds more than ever to kill Jesus; and wherever He went they sent men to watch Him and listen to His words, so that they might make up some excuse for putting Him to death.

What kind of work does God do on Sunday, dear children? Why, He does all sorts of kind and beautiful things. He makes the sun rise, and the flowers grow, and the birds sing; and He takes care of little children on Sunday exactly the same as he does on other days. And Jesus did the same kind of work, He made people happy and well on the Sabbath. And we may do works of love--kind, loving things for other people--on Sunday.

Another Sabbath day, soon after that, the Lord Jesus and His disciples were walking through a cornfield. The disciples were hungry, so they rubbed some corn in their hands as they went along, and ate it. Some of the Pharisees saw the disciples, and they were shocked; and they spoke to Jesus about it. But Jesus told the Pharisees that the disciples were doing nothing wrong. He said, 'THE SABBATH WAS MADE FOR MAN, AND NOT MAN FOR THE SABBATH; THEREFORE THE SON OF MAN IS LORD ALSO OF THE SABBATH DAY.' Jesus meant that God gave the Sabbath day to Adam and his children as a beautiful present, to be the best and happiest day of all the seven. God meant it as a rest for our souls and bodies.

A Friend For The Sorrowful


One day Jesus went to a town called Nain (or Beautiful), about twenty-five miles from Capernaum. A great crowd of people followed Jesus and His disciples; and when they came near to the gate of the city of Nain, they saw a funeral coming out. The dead body of a young man was being carried out on a bier to be buried.

When Jesus saw the poor mother crying and sobbing, He felt very sorry for her, and He said to her, 'Weep not.' And Jesus came and touched the bier, and the men who were carrying it stood still. And Jesus said, 'Young man, I say unto thee, Arise.' And life came back into that dead body again. He that was dead sat up and began to speak. And Jesus gave him back to his mother.

A Pharisee, called Simon, once asked Jesus to come and have dinner with him. When anyone in that land went to a feast, the master of the house used to kiss him, and say, 'The Lord be with you,' and put some sweet smelling oil on his hair and beard, and the servants used to bring the visitor water to wash his feet. But none of those kind things were done to Jesus when He came to that Pharisee's house. Presently Jesus and Simon began to eat. In that country, people often lay down to eat. Broad settees, or couches, were put round the table, and the visitors used to lie down in rows on these settees. Their heads were near the table, and their feet were the other way. They lay down on their left side, and they had cushions to put their elbows on, so that they could raise themselves up while they were eating. While Jesus and Simon were at dinner, a woman came in out of the street. In the East, people walk in and out of other people's houses just as they like. But that woman had been very wicked, and Simon was not pleased when he saw her come in. But nobody said anything to her. So she came to Jesus, and stood at His feet, behind the couch on which He w as lying, and cried till the tears ran down her face. Then as her tears dropped on to the feet of Jesus, she stooped down and wiped them away with her long hair. And then she kissed the feet of Jesus many times, and put precious sweet-smelling ointment upon them. Perhaps she had heard some beautiful words which Jesus had just been saying to the people out of doors--

'COME UNTO ME, ALL YE THAT LABOUR AND ARE HEAVY LADEN, AND I WILL GIVE YOU BEST.'

Her sins were like a heavy load, and so she had come to Jesus.

But Simon thought to himself, 'If Jesus had really come from God, He would have known how wicked this woman is, and He would not have allowed her to touch Him.'

Jesus knew what Simon was thinking, and He said that once upon a time there were two men who owed some money. One owed a great deal of money, and the other owed a little. But when the time came for them to pay the money they could not do it. And the kind man forgave them both.

Jesus then asked Simon which of the two men would love that kind friend most.

Simon said, 'I suppose he to whom he forgave most.'

Jesus said that that was quite right. Then He turned to the woman, and said to Simon: 'Seest thou this woman? I came into thine house; thou gavest Me no water for My feet, but she has washed My feet with tears, and wiped them with the hairs of her head. Thou gavest Me no kiss, but this woman, since the time I came in, hath not ceased to kiss My feet: My head with oil thou didst not anoint, but she hath anointed My feet with ointment. I say unto thee, her sins, which are many, are forgiven, for she loved much; but to whom little is forgiven, the same loveth little.' And then Jesus said to the woman, 'THY SINS ARE FORGIVEN. THY FAITH HATH SAVED THEE. GO IN PEACE.' And she left her heavy load of sin with Jesus, and took away instead the rest and peace He gives.

After Jesus had finished all the work He wanted to do in Nain, He went again into every part of Galilee to tell people the good news that a Saviour had come.

Jesus preached to the crowds out of a boat. He told them most beautiful stories. They liked these stories so much that they did not care to go away--not even when it was evening. But Jesus and His disciples needed rest, so Jesus told the disciples to go over to the other side of the lake.

When the boat started, Jesus was so tired that He lay down at the end, out of the way of the men who were rowing, and put His head upon a pillow, and fell fast asleep. Soon the wind began to blow, and it blew louder and louder. Then the waves curled over and dashed into the boat till the boat was nearly full. But still Jesus slept quietly on. The disciples were afraid that their boat would sink, and they came to Jesus, and woke Him, and said, 'Master! Master! we perish! Lord, save!' And Jesus arose, and told the wind to stop, and He said to the sea, 'Peace, be still.' And suddenly the wind stopped, and the sea was quite smooth. Then Jesus said gently to His disciples, 'Where is your faith?' Those disciples might have known that the boat could not sink when Jesus was in it.

Ruins of Capernaum

When Jesus came back to Capernaum, a man, called Jairus, fell down at His feet and begged Him to go to his house, where his little girl, about twelve years old, was dying. So Jesus and His disciples started to go to Jairus' house, and a great crowd of people went with Him. But while they were going, someone came to Jairus, and said, 'It is of no use to trouble the Master any more. The child is dead.' But Jesus said to him quickly, 'Do not be afraid. Only believe, and she shall be made well.'

When Jesus came to the house of Jairus, He heard a great noise. As soon as anyone dies in the East, people come to the house, and cry and howl, and play wretched music. They are paid to do that. That was the noise which Jesus heard, and he asked, 'Why do you make this ado? The little maid is sleeping.' And those rude people laughed at Jesus, just as if He did not know what He was talking about. So Jesus turned them all out.

Then Jesus took three of His disciples--Peter, and James and John--and Jairus and his wife; and they went together to look at the child. There she was, lying quite still. Life had flown away from her body. But Jesus took hold of the girl's hand, and said, 'My little lamb, I say unto thee, Arise.' And life flew back to her body again, and she opened her eyes and got up, and walked. And Jesus told her father and mother to give her something to eat.

When Jesus came out of Jairus' house, two blind men followed Him, begging Him to make them well. Jesus waited till He had got back to the house where He was staying and then He touched their eyes, and made them see.

Just about this time Jesus had some very sad news. Herod Antipas, the son of wicked King Herod, had shut up John the Baptist in a prison, called the Black Castle, by the side of the Dead Sea. Part of that castle was a beautiful palace, with lovely furniture and a coloured marble floor. One day Herod gave a grand birthday party. Herod had married a very wicked woman, who was at the party. Her name was Herodias. Herodias hated John the Baptist, because he had said that she ought not to be Herod's wife. So she made up her mind to have John the Baptist killed. Herodias had a daughter called Salome, who danced beautifully. And on that birthday Herod was so pleased with Salome's dancing that he said, 'I will give you anything you ask me for.' Salome went to her mother, and said, 'What shall I ask?' And Herodias said, 'Ask for the head of John the Baptist.' And Salome came back quickly and said, 'I want the head of John the Baptist.'

Now, it is wrong to break a promise. But it is not wrong to break a wicked promise. It is wrong ever to have made it. Herod was sorry, but he was afraid of what other people in the party would think if he did not do what he had said. So he sent his soldiers to the prison, and had John the Baptist's head cut off to give to that dancing-girl.

Jesus had sent His twelve disciples out to preach to people He could not go and see Himself. When they came back they had a great deal to talk about, and they were very tired. But there were always so many people coming to see Jesus that they could get no quiet time at all, no time even to eat. They were all at the Lake of Galilee again, and Jesus told them to come away with Him into a desert place, and rest awhile. That desert place was near a town called Bethsaida, where Peter, and his brother Andrew, and Philip lived once upon a time.

Jesus and His disciples got into a boat as quietly as they could, and went away. But some people near the lake caught sight of the boat, and they saw who was in it; and they ran so fast along the shore of the lake that they got to the desert before Jesus was there. Jesus felt very sorry for these people, and He began to teach them many things. By and by it got late, and Jesus said to the disciples, 'How many loaves have you? Go and see.' And Andrew said, 'There is a boy herewith five barley loaves and two fishes; but what are they among so many?' And Jesus told him to bring the loaves and fishes. Then Jesus said, 'Make the people sit down.' So the disciples arranged the crowds in rows on the grass. And when every one was ready, Jesus took the five loaves and the two fishes in His hands, and He blessed them, and divided them, and gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the people. And there was plenty for everybody. Jesus made those loaves and fishes last out till everybody had had enough. And then He said, 'Gather up the fragments (that means the little pieces) that are left, that nothing be lost.' And the disciples picked the little pieces up, and put them together in baskets. And there were twelve large baskets full--more than they had at first. There were five thousand men in that grassy place, and a great many women and children besides. And when the people saw the miracle that Jesus had done they said, 'THIS MUST BE THE MESSIAH;' and they wanted to make Him their king--the king of their country, but not the king of their hearts.

Jesus did not wish to be made a king like Herod or Caesar. He was God, so He was King of kings already. He made His disciples go away at once in the boat to the other side of the lake, and He sent the crowds away Himself. When Jesus was alone, He went up into a mountain and prayed. But now a great wind began to blow, and the waves on the Sea of Galilee began to toss about. The disciples rowed hard, but they could not get on; the wind kept trying to blow them back. But Jesus saw them, and when the night was nearly over, He came to them walking on the sea. The disciples had never seen Him walking on the water before, and they could not understand who He was, and they cried out for fear. But Jesus was sorry for them, and He spoke kindly to them directly and said, 'BE OF GOOD CHEER (that means, 'Be glad'). IT IS I. BE NOT AFRAID.'

And Peter said, 'Lord, if it be Thou, bid me come unto Thee on the water.' And Jesus said, 'Come.' And Peter jumped out of the boat, and walked on the water to go to Jesus. But soon Peter began to think of the rough wind and waves instead of thinking about Jesus, and then he could not get on at all, and he began to sink in the water, and called but, 'Lord, save me!' And Jesus put out His hand and caught him, and said, 'O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt?' Then they both came into the boat, and the wind stopped blowing. And the disciples fell down at the feet of Jesus, and said 'THOU ART THE SON OF GOD.' Then, all at once, they saw that their boat was close to the land. Jesus had brought it there.

More Wonderful Works And Words


And now Jesus went right away from the Sea of Galilee again to Caesarea Philippi. That place was called Caesarea after Augustus Caesar, Emperor of Rome, and Philippi after Herod Philip. When they were going to Caesarea Philippi, Jesus talked quietly to His disciples, and said, 'Whom do you say that I am?' Peter almost always spoke first, before the others had time to say anything, and he said quickly, 'THOU ART THE CHRIST, THE SON OF THE LIVING GOD.' Jesus was very much pleased with that answer.

Then Jesus called the people who stood near, and His disciples too, and He told them that if they followed Him, they too might have to die for His sake. But He told them that they must not mind that, because heaven is better than this world. And He told them that if they were ashamed of Him, He should be ashamed of them before His Father and the holy angels. Dear children, I hope, when you go to school, or are with your little friends, that you will never be ashamed of Jesus.

About a week after that talk with His disciples, Jesus took Peter, and James, and John into a high hill alone to pray. There is a splendid high mountain near Caesarea Philippi, called Hermon. All at once, as Jesus was praying, the disciples saw that His face shown like the sun, and His clothes were white and shining like the light. And as the disciples looked, they saw two men talking with Jesus, called Moses and Elijah, two holy men who went to heaven long, long ago. We do not know how long they talked. Peter, and James, and John were men, so they could not look very long at those heavenly visitors; soon their eyes closed, and they fell fast asleep. When they woke up, Moses and Elijah were still there, and when the disciples saw Jesus again, looking so bright and beautiful, they were very much afraid.

When they came down from the mountain, they saw a crowd down below. Jesus had left nine of His disciples behind when He went up Mount Hermon; and now He saw a great number of persons all round them, and heard some Jews worrying them with questions. When Jesus came near enough to speak, He asked what was the matter. And a man came running to Him out of the crowd, and begged Him to look at his boy--his only child. And he said to Jesus, 'If Thou canst do anything, take pity on me, and help me.' And Jesus made the boy well from that very hour. The disciples had not had faith enough themselves to be able to do that sick boy any good.

Every year the Jews had to pay half a shekel of money for the splendid Temple in Jerusalem; and when Jesus came back to Capernaum, the men who were collecting the money came to Peter, and said, 'Does not your Master pay the half-shekel?' And Peter said, 'Yes.' Now the Temple was God's house, and Jesus was God's Son. And Jesus explained to Peter when he came into the house that kings did not expect their own sons to pay them taxes. But it was not wrong to pay the half-shekel, and Jesus never vexed people if He could possibly help it, so He said to Peter, 'Go thou to the sea and cast a hook, and take up the fish that first cometh up, and when thou hast opened its mouth, thou shalt find a piece of money. That take, and give unto them for Me and thee.'

And now, after a long time, Jesus and His disciples went up to Jerusalem again; and as they walked along, they saw ten lepers standing a long way off. As Jesus came near, they cried out, 'Jesus, Master, have mercy on us.' Nine of the lepers were Jews, and one was a Samaritan. And Jesus was sorry for them all, and said, 'Go, show yourselves to the priests.' So they turned straight round to go to the priests, and lo! as they were going along the road, they suddenly felt that they were strong and well again. When the Samaritan felt in himself that the leprosy had gone away, he turned back, and threw himself down at the feet of Jesus, and thanked Him, and thanked God too for all His goodness. But none of the nine Jews came back to thank Jesus.

A few days after that a man came to Jesus, and asked how he could get to heaven. Jesus said that he must love God with all his heart, and his neighbor as himself. Then the man said, 'Who is my neighbor?' So Jesus told him this story, THE GOOD SAMARITAN: 'A certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among thieves, which stripped him of his raiment, and wounded him, and departed, leaving him half dead. And by chance there came down a certain priest that way: and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side. And likewise a Levite, when he was at the place, came and looked on him, and passed by on the other side. But a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came where he was: and when he saw him, he had compassion on him. And went to him, and bound up his wounds, pouring in oil and wine, and set him on his own beast, and brought him to an inn, and took care of him. And on the morrow when he departed, he took out two pence, and gave them to the host, and said unto him, 'Take care of him: and whatsoever thou spendest more, when I come again, I will repay thee.' When Jesus had finished that story, He said, 'Which now of these three was neighbor unto him that fell among the thieves?' You can answer that question, and can go and do like that good Samaritan.

The good Samaritan

Just opposite the Temple hill, Mount Moriah, there was another hill, called the Mount of Olives. On the other side of the Mount of Olives was a village, called Bethany, and Jesus often walked over the hill to see some friends of His there, a brother and two sisters who lived in the village. Their names were Mary and Martha and Lazarus. Jesus loved them very much, and they loved Him. But Mary and Martha showed their love in very different ways. Mary sat as quiet and still as possible when Jesus came in, and listened to every word that He said; and Martha wanted so much to make Him happy and comfortable that she ran about the whole time doing things for Him, instead of listening to the beautiful words He was saying.

Bethany

Jesus likes you and me to work for Him; but He likes us to talk to Him in prayer too, and to listen to the things that He whispers in our hearts, and to the words that He says to us in the Bible.

Child at prayer

The Man Born Blind, And Lazarus


One Sabbath day, most likely the next Sabbath day after the Feast of Tabernacles, Jesus saw a blind beggar out of doors. That poor man had always been blind. He had never been able to see at all. Jesus spat on the ground, and put the wet earth on the blind man's eyes, and said, 'Go, wash in the pool of Siloam.' And the man went and washed, and came back able to see. The people who met him began to ask him, 'How were thine eyes opened?' And the man told them. Then they wanted to know where Jesus was. But the man did not know that. Then the people brought him to the Pharisees to see what they would say. And the Pharisees said, 'How is it that you can see now?' And the man told them.

Then the Pharisees turned him out of the synagogue. Jesus heard about that, and He came to the lonely man, and said, 'Dost thou believe on the Son of God?' And the man said, 'Who is He, Lord, that I might believe 'on Him?' And Jesus said to him, 'THOU HAST BOTH SEEN HIM, AND HE IT IS THAT TALKETH WITH THEE.' Then the man fell down at the feet of Jesus, saying, 'Lord, I believe.'

And now Jesus turned to the Pharisees, and told them that they were very blind. They could see things with their eyes, but they could not see that their hearts were full of sin. Then Jesus preached one of the most beautiful of all His sermons. In it He said, 'I am the Door of the sheep; by Me if any man enter in he shall be saved. I am the Good Shepherd; the Good Shepherd giveth His life for the sheep. I am the Good Shepherd, and know My sheep, and am known of Mine; and I lay down My life for the sheep, And other sheep I have which are not of this fold; them also I must bring, and they shall hear My voice, and there shall be one flock under one Shepherd.'

The shepherd's care (2nd version)

The 'other sheep' Jesus spoke about meant the Gentiles, the people who are not Jews. It meant you and me, and it meant all the heathen. He has called us. He is calling the heathen. And many sheep, many quiet little lambs, have heard the voice of Jesus, and are following Him. Have you heard Him calling you? Have you followed Him? if not, oh, make haste to go after Him now.

Soon after Jesus had gone away from Bethany, His friend Lazarus became very ill. Martha and Mary longed for Jesus now, and they thought, 'If Jesus were here, our brother would not die;' and they sent a messenger to Him to say 'Lord, he whom Thou lovest is sick.' When Jesus heard that, He stayed on quietly where He was for two days longer. Then He came to Bethany, and by this time Lazarus had been in the grave for four days. Presently somebody came to Martha, and said to her quietly, 'Jesus is coming.' When Martha heard that, she got up, and went out to meet Him. And when she saw Jesus, she said, 'Lord, if Thou hadst been here, my brother would not have died; but I know that even now whatever Thou wilt ask of God, God will give it Thee.' Jesus said to her, 'Thy brother shall rise again.' When Jesus saw how unhappy Mary and Martha were, He too felt very sad, and said, 'Where have ye laid him?' And they said, 'Lord, come and see.' And then----Jesus wept. 'See how He loved Lazarus,' said the Jews; and they wondered that Jesus had let His friend die.

Now they had come to the grave. It was a hole in the side of a rock, and there was a heavy stone over it. Jesus said, 'Take ye away the stone;' and they rolled it away. Then Jesus lifted up His eyes, and thanked God that He had heard His prayer and given Him back the life of Lazarus. And then He cried with a loud voice, 'Lazarus, come forth.' And the man who had been dead came out of the cave alive. When the Jews saw what was done, some of them believed, but others hurried off to Jerusalem to make mischief as fast as they could.

After a time Jesus crossed the Jordan and again came into Perea, and then He came slowly down through Perea to Jerusalem.

The shepherd's care (3rd version)

The Prodigal Son, And Other Stories


One day, when the mothers of Perea brought their little ones to Jesus, the disciples found fault with them for coming, and tried to keep them away. But when Jesus saw what the disciples were doing He was much displeased, and said to them--

'SUFFER LITTLE CHILDREN, AND FORBID THEM NOT, TO COME UNTO ME: FOR OF SUCH IS THE KINGDOM OF HEAVEN.'

And He took them up in His arms, put His hands upon them, and blessed them.

Jesus used to tell some very beautiful stories as He went slowly through the Holy Land. We have not room for all, but I must tell you two or three, and I will tell you them exactly as Jesus first told them.

'A certain man had two sons: and the younger of them said to his father, Father, give me the portion of goods that falleth to me. And he divided unto them his living.

'And not many days after the younger son gathered all together, and took his journey into a far country, and there wasted his substance with riotous living.

'And when he had spent all, there arose a mighty famine in that land; and he began to be in want. And he went and joined himself to a citizen of that country; and he sent him into his fields to feed swine. And he would fain have filled his belly with the husks that the swine did eat: and no man gave unto him. And when he came to himself, he said, How many hired servants of my father's have bread enough and to spare, and I perish with hunger! I will arise and go to my father, and will say unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven and before thee, and am no more worthy to be called thy son: make me as one of thy hired servants.

'And he arose and came to his father. But when he was yet a great way off, his father saw him, and had compassion, and ran and fell on his neck, and kissed him.

'And the son said unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and in thy sight, and am no more worthy to be called thy son.

'But the father said to his servants, Bring forth the best robe, and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet: and bring hither the fatted calf, and kill it; and let us eat, and be merry: for this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found.'

THE STORY OF THE UNMERCIFUL SERVANT.

At another time Jesus said--

'Therefore is the kingdom of heaven likened unto a certain king, which would take account of his servants. And when he had begun to reckon, one was brought unto him, which owed him ten thousand talents. But forasmuch as he had not to pay, his lord commanded him to be sold, and his wife, and children, and all that he had, and payment to be made.

'The servant therefore fell down, and worshipped him, saying, Lord, have patience with me, and I will pay thee all.

'Then the lord of that servant was moved with compassion, and loosed him, and forgave him the debt.

'But the same servant went out, and found one of his fellowservants, which owed him an hundred pence: and he laid hands on him, and took him by the throat, saying, Pay me that thou owest.

'And his fellowservant fell down at his feet, and besought him, saying, Have patience with me, and I will pay thee all.

'And he would not: but went and cast him into prison, till he should pay the debt.

The Jordan near Bethabara

'So when his fellowservants saw what was done, they were very sorry, and came and told unto their lord all that was done. Then his lord, after that he had called him, said unto him, O thou wicked servant, I forgave thee all that debt, because thou desiredst me: shouldest not thou also have had compassion on thy fellowservant, even as I had pity on thee? And his lord was wroth, and delivered him to the tormentors, till he should pay all that was due unto him.

'So likewise shall my Heavenly Father do also unto you, if ye from your hearts forgive not every one his brother.'

Jesus often told beautiful parables: here are two--

THE STORY OF THE TARES.

'The kingdom of Heaven is likened unto a man which sowed good seed in his field: but while men slept, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat, and went his way.

'But when the blade was sprung up, and brought forth fruit, then appeared the tares also.

'So the servants of the householder came and said unto him, Sir, didst not thou sow good seed in thy field? from whence then hath it tares?

'He said unto them, An enemy hath done this.

'The servants said unto him, Wilt thou then that we go and gather them up?'

'But he said, Nay; lest while ye gather up the tares, ye root up also the wheat with them. Let both grow together until the harvest: and in the time of harvest I will say to the reapers, Gather ye together first the tares, and bind them in bundles to burn them: but gather the wheat into my barn.'

THE STORY OF THE TEN VIRGINS.

'Then shall the kingdom of heaven be likened unto ten virgins, which took their lamps, and went forth to meet the bride-groom.

'And five of them were wise, and five were foolish. They that were foolish took their lamps, and took no oil with them: but the wise took oil in their vessels with their lamps.

'While the bridegroom tarried, they all slumbered and slept.

'And at midnight there was a cry made, Behold, the bridegroom cometh; go ye out to meet him.

'Then all those virgins arose, and trimmed their lamps. And the foolish said unto the wise, Give us of your oil; for our lamps are gone out.

'But the wise answered, saying, Not so; lest there be not enough for us and you: but go ye rather to them that sell, and buy for yourselves.

'And while they went to buy, the bride-groom came; and they that were ready went in with him to the marriage: and the door was shut.

'Afterwards came also the other virgins, saying, Lord, Lord, open to us.

'But he answered and said, Verily I say unto you, I know you not. Watch therefore, for ye know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son of Man cometh.'

The Last Days In Jerusalem


When it was time for Him to end His work on earth, Jesus started for Jerusalem. The people in Jerusalem heard that He was coming, and crowds of them poured out of Jerusalem to meet Him. They carried boughs of palm trees in their hands, and waved them, and cried, 'HOSANNA! BLESSED BE THE KING THAT COMETH IN THE NAME OF THE LORD! PEACE IN HEAVEN, AND GLORY IN THE HIGHEST.'

Presently Jesus came to a part of the Mount of Olives where He could see Jerusalem and the Temple straight before Him; and as He looked at them, He wept aloud. He wept because they loved their sins, and hated their Saviour. He wept because He knew that God would have to punish them. He knew that in a very few years the Romans would come and fight against Jerusalem, and burn down that Temple, and kill thousands of the Jews, or carry them away as slaves. Were not these things enough to make the Lord Jesus weep?

Mount of Olives and Jerusalem

The blind and the lame came to Jesus in the Temple, and He made them well; and when the little children cried, 'HOSANNA TO THE SON OF DAVID,' He was pleased to hear their song. But the priests were very angry. 'Hosanna to the Son of David' means 'Save us, Jesus, our King.' The priests could not bear to hear the children call Jesus their King, and ask Him to save them. And Satan is very angry now when He hears a little child say, 'Save me, O Jesus, my King.' But Jesus is pleased.

During these last days Jesus stayed quietly each night at Bethany; but the priests were very busy thinking how they could take Him prisoner, and they were very pleased when Judas came in secretly, and said, 'Give me money, and I will give you Jesus.' And the priests said they would give Judas thirty pieces of silver if he would give Jesus up to them. Thirty pieces of silver! Why, that was only about seventeen dollars ($17)--only as much as used to be paid for a slave.

The next day while Jesus stayed quietly in Bethany, Peter and John were very busy, for Jesus had sent them to Jerusalem to get ready for the Passover. They had to take a lamb to the Temple to be killed by the priests, and they had to find a house in which to eat the Passover supper.

Once every year the Jews used to kill a lamb, and pour out its blood before God, to show that they remembered God's goodness to them when they were in Egypt, in letting his angel pass over their houses. And then they roasted the lamb, and met together in their houses to eat it, and to thank God for all his love and kindness.

When Peter and John had got the Passover supper quite ready, Jesus came from Bethany with the rest of His disciples, and they all sat down together at the table; and Jesus told the disciples that He was very glad to eat this Passover with them, because it was the very last time He would eat and drink at all before He died. Then Jesus took off His long, loose outside dress, and He wrapt a towel round Him, and poured water into a basin, and began to wash the disciples' feet, and to wipe them with the long towel which He had fastened round His waist.

When Jesus had finished washing His disciples' feet, He put on His long coat again (it was called an abba), and sat down. And He told His disciples that He had given them an example, so that they might be kind to one another, and wait upon one another.

Jesus said many beautiful words to His disciples that night at the supper; and when the supper was finished, they went out into the Mount of Olives, to a place called Gethsemane, a garden full of olive trees, where Jesus often went to pray.

When Jesus came to Gethsemane with His disciples, He told them to sit down and wait for Him while He went on farther to pray. But He took with Him Peter and James and John. As they walked on, Jesus began to be so very sorrowful that He wanted to be quite alone with God. So He told Peter and James and John to stay behind and to watch. But they went to sleep. And then Jesus went a little way off, and fell down on His knees and prayed. And now His mind was in such pain that He suffered agony, and the sweat rolled down His face in drops of blood. Then Jesus came to Peter and James and John, and found them fast asleep. Twice Jesus went away and prayed the same prayer, and twice He came back to find His disciples asleep.

Gethsemane

And now a great crowd poured into the garden. Judas was walking first, to show the others the way, and he came up to Jesus and kissed Him again and again, and said, 'Master! Master! Peace!' And when the people saw Judas do that, they took hold of Jesus and held Him fast. They took Jesus first to the house of a priest called Annas, and then to the palace of Caiaphas the high priest; and John, who knew somebody in that house, was allowed to come in. Peter was left outside; but soon John asked the girl at the door to let Peter in too. Peter was glad to come in to see what was being done to his dear Master.

The houses in the East are built round a great square court, like a big hall, only it has no roof. It was the middle of the night, and the cold air blew into that court. But the servants had made a great fire of coals in the middle of the court, and while Jesus was standing before Caiaphas and the other priests, the servants sat round that fire waiting, and warming themselves. Peter came and sat down with the servants, and warmed himself too.

Presently the girl who attended to the door came up to the fire, and she had a good look at Peter, and said, 'And you were with Jesus of Nazareth. Are you not one of His disciples?' Then Peter told a lie before all the servants, and said, 'Woman, I am not. I do not know Him, and I do not know what you mean.' And he went on warming himself, and tried to look as though he knew nothing in the world about Jesus. But Peter loved Jesus too much to be able to do this well. He was unhappy, he could not sit still; he got up, and went away into a place near the door, called the porch, and when he was in the porch he heard a cock crow. Perhaps he went into the porch because he thought that it would be dark there and that nobody would see him. But the girl who kept the door told another woman to look at him, and that woman said to the people who stood by, 'This fellow was with Jesus of Nazareth, and is one of His disciples.' Then a man who stood there said to Peter, 'Are you not one of His disciples?' And again Peter told a lie, and said, 'Man, I am not. I do not know the Man.'

An hour passed by, and then some of the people near said, 'You must be one of the disciples of Jesus. The way that you speak shows that you come from Galilee.' While Peter was again denying him, Jesus turned round, and looked upon Peter. And Peter remembered what Jesus had said to him, 'Before the cock crow twice, you will say three times you do not know Me.' And when he thought about what he had done, he was very, very sorry; and he went out of the high priest's palace, and wept bitterly.

The Crucifixion And The Resurrection


When the morning came, the priests met once more with all the chief Jews, and said Jesus must die. But the Jews could not put anyone to death. The Romans would not allow it. So they took Jesus to the Roman governor, whose name was Pontius Pilate.

When Judas saw that the priests had made up their minds to kill Jesus, he began to feel very unhappy. He did not care for the money now. He came to the Temple, and brought it back to the priest, and said, 'It was very wrong of me to give Jesus up to you. He had done nothing wrong.' But their hearts were as hard as stone. They said to Judas, 'What is that to us? See thou to that.' Then Judas had no hope left. He flung the thirty pieces of silver down in the Court of the Priests, and went and hung himself. But oh! what a pity that he did not go to Jesus and ask Jesus to forgive him, instead of going to the priests! Jesus is a good, kind, loving Master. When we do wrong, if we are very sorry, like Peter, and will come and ask Jesus, He will forgive us. For

'THE BLOOD OF JESUS CHRIST, GOD'S SON, CLEANSETH US FROM ALL SIN.'

Pilate took Jesus inside his splendid palace, away from the Jews, and asked Him, 'Art thou a King then?'

'Yes,' Jesus said, 'but My kingdom is not of this world. I came into this world to teach people the truth. That is the reason I was born.'

'What is truth?' said Pilate. But he did not wait for an answer. He went out again to the Jews.

When the Jews saw Pilate again, they began to tell him lies which they had been making up about Jesus. And Jesus stood by and said nothing. Presently Pilate said to Jesus, 'See what a number of things they are saying against you. Have you nothing to say?'

But Jesus did not answer one single word, and Pilate was greatly surprised. He felt sure that the quiet prisoner was right and that the Jews were wrong; and he said to the priests and to the people, 'I find in Him no fault at all.'

It was the custom for Pilate at Passover time to set free from prison any one prisoner the people liked to ask for. So Pilate said to the crowd, 'Shall I let Jesus go?' Then the priests told the people what to say, and they shouted, 'Not this man, but Barabbas.'

Pilate wanted very much to let Jesus go, and he said, 'What shall I do then with Jesus?'

The crowd shouted, 'Let Him be crucified! Crucify Him! Crucify Him!'

'Why,' said Pilate, 'what has He done wrong? He does not deserve to die. I will scourge Him and let Him go.'

Then the people cried out more loudly than ever, 'Let Him be crucified! Crucify Him!'

But Pilate did not want to be shouted at for five or six days and nights again. And, besides, he rather wanted to please the Jews if he could, because he had done many things to vex them; so he thought, 'I will do what they wish.' But first he had a basin of water brought, and he washed his hands before all the people, and said, 'I have nothing to do with the blood of this good Man. See ye to it.' And all the people answered and said, 'His blood be on us, and on our children.' Sometimes now, when we don't want to have anything to do with a thing, we say, 'I wash my hands of it.' But Pilate did have something to do with the death of Jesus, and water would not wash away that sin.

And at last, wishing to please them, Pilate had Barabbas brought out of prison, and gave Jesus up to be beaten. The Roman soldiers seized Jesus, and took off His clothes and put a scarlet dress on Him, to imitate the Emperor's purple robe; and they twisted pieces of a thorny plant which grows round Jerusalem into the shape of a crown, and put it on His head; and they put a reed in His hand for a sceptre. And then all the soldiers fell down before Jesus, and said, 'Hail, King of the Jews.' And then they spit at Jesus, and slapped Him; and they snatched the reed out of His hands and struck Him on the head, so as to drive in the thorns.

Outside the city gate, on the north side of Jerusalem, there is a round hill, called the Place of Stoning. On one side of that hill there is a straight yellow cliff, and prisoners used sometimes to be thrown down from that cliff, and then stoned. And sometimes they were taken to the top of that round hill and crucified. It is very likely that this is where the soldiers took Jesus. That hill is often called Calvary.

The soldiers made Jesus lie down on the cross, and they nailed Him to it--putting nails through His hands and His feet. Then they lifted up the cross with Jesus on it, and fixed it in a hole in the ground. And Jesus said,

'FATHER, FORGIVE THEM; FOR THEY KNOW NOT WHAT THEY DO.'

Then the soldiers crucified two thieves, and put them near Jesus, one on each side; and they nailed up some white boards at the top of the crosses with black letters on them, to say what the prisoners had done. They put over Jesus Christ's head the words--

'THIS IS JESUS OF NAZARETH, THE KING OF THE JEWS.'

Three hours of fearful pain passed away. It was twelve o'clock. And now it became quite dark and it was dark till three o'clock in the afternoon. That was a dreadful three hours more for Jesus. It was a time of agony of mind, like the time He spent in the Garden of Gethsemane. He was having His last fight with Satan, and He felt quite alone. When it was about three o'clock, Jesus cried out with a loud voice, 'It is finished.' And He cried again with a loud voice, and said, 'Father, into Thy hands I commend My spirit.' And He bowed His head and died.

Calvary

And now wonderful things happened. The ground shook; the graves opened; dead people woke up to life again; and a great veil, or curtain, which hung before the most holy part of the Temple, was suddenly torn into two pieces. The high priest used to go once a year into that Most Holy Place to offer sacrifice for sin before God. But when the great purple and gold curtain was torn down without hands, it was just as if a voice from heaven had said, 'No more blood of lambs, no more high priest is wanted now. Jesus, the real Passover Lamb, has been sacrificed. Jesus has offered His own blood before God for sinners, and God will forgive every sinner who trusts in the blood of Jesus.'

Then a rich man, called Joseph, came to Pilate and begged Pilate to let him have the body of Jesus to bury. Pilate said that Joseph might have the body of his Master. And Joseph came and took it down from the cross; and he and Nicodemus wrapped the body round with clean linen, with a very great quantity of sweet-smelling stuff inside the linen.

There was a garden close to the place where Jesus was crucified, and in that garden there was a grave which Joseph had cut in a rock. The grave was not like those which we have. It was a little room in the rock, with a seat on the right hand, and a seat on the left, and with a place in the wall just opposite the door for the body. Joseph and Nicodemus laid the body of Jesus in this new grave. Then they came out, and rolled a great round stone over the door, and went away.

Jesus was crucified on Friday, and now it was Sunday. It was very early in the morning. The soldiers were watching at the grave of Jesus, and all was still; when suddenly the earth began to tremble and shake. And behold, an angel came down from heaven, and rolled away the stone at the door of the tomb, and the Lord of Life came out. The soldiers did not see Jesus, but they did see the shining angel. The Roman soldiers shook with fright. They were so frightened that they had no strength left in them, and as soon as they could they ran away from the place.

And now that the soldiers had gone, some women came near--Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, Joanna, Salome, and at least one or two more women. They had brought with them some sweet-smelling spices, which they had made or bought, to put round the body of Jesus. The light was beginning to come in the sky, to show that the sun would be up soon, but it was still rather dark. As the women came along, they said one to the other, 'Who will roll away the stone for us from the door of the tomb?' For it was very great. Then they looked, and behold! the stone was gone. And Mary Magdalene ran back to the city, to tell Peter and John that the door of the tomb was open. But the other women went on, and went into the tomb where they had seen Jesus laid. He was not there now, but an angel in a long white robe was sitting on the right-hand side of the tomb. Then the women saw two angels standing by them in shining clothes, and they were afraid, and fell on their faces to the ground. Then one of the angels said to them, 'Fear not. He is not here; He is risen.'

The empty tomb

But Mary Magdalene after all had been the first to see Jesus. She had run off to tell Peter and John that the stone was rolled away. As soon as Peter and John knew that, they ran off to the grave as fast as they could, and Mary Magdalene went after them. John could run the fastest, so he got there first, and just peeped in through the little door in the rock. The angels had gone away, but he could see the linen bandages. They were not thrown about here and there, but they were lying neatly together. But when Peter came up he wanted to see more than that, and he went straight into the tomb, and John followed him. When Peter and John saw that the body of Jesus had really gone, they went away back to the city and told the other disciples.

But Mary Magdalene did not go back. As she turned away from the grave she saw that somebody was standing near the grave. It was really Jesus, but she did not know that. She was too sad to look up.

And Jesus said to her, 'Woman, why weepest thou? Whom seekest thou?'

Mary thought, 'It is the gardener,' and she said, 'Sir, if you have carried Him away, tell me where you have laid Him, and I will take Him away.'

Then Jesus said, 'Mary.' And Mary turned round quickly, and said, 'Master.' Then she saw that it was Jesus, and He sent her with a message to His disciples. So Mary hurried back again into the city with her good news. She found the disciples, and when she said, 'I have seen the Lord,' they would not believe it. And when some other women who had met Jesus a little later came in, and said, 'We have seen the Lord,' it was just the same. The disciples only thought, 'What nonsense these women talk!' Before the women came in, two of the disciples had gone for a very long walk. As they walked along, and talked, Jesus came near, and went with them.

While Jesus talked and the disciples listened, they came to the village of Emmaus. That was the end of the disciples' journey, and now Jesus began to walk on by Himself. But the disciples begged Him to stay with them, 'Abide with us,' they said; 'it is getting late. It will soon be evening.' So Jesus went in, and sat down at table with them. And He took bread in His hands, and blessed it, and brake it, and gave it to them. Perhaps Jesus had some special way of saying grace which made the disciples know who He was. Anyway, they knew Him now. And then, suddenly, He was gone. Cleopas and his friend could not keep their good news to themselves. They got up at once, and went back, more than seven miles, to Jerusalem, and found a number of the Lord's friends and disciples sitting together at supper. Some of them were saying, 'THE LORD IS RISEN INDEED.'

Then Jesus Himself came to them, and He told them that it was very wrong not to believe. Then, when He saw that they were frightened, He said, 'Peace be unto you,' and He showed them His hands and His feet, and ate some fried fish and honey which they had put on the table for supper. That was to make them understand that His body was really alive as well as His soul. And now the disciples were filled with gladness and Joy.

Then Jesus told them the same things that He had been explaining to Cleopas and his friend, and He said to them--

'AS MY FATHER HATH SENT ME, EVEN SO SEND I YOU. GO YE INTO ALL THE WORLD, AND PREACH THE GOSPEL TO EVERY CREATURE.'

That is the great missionary text. A missionary means, you remember, 'one who is sent.' That text was meant for you and for me, as well as for the first disciples of Jesus.

After these things, the eleven disciples went away to Galilee, and waited for Jesus to meet them there.

One day Thomas and Nathanael, and James and John, and two other disciples, were together by the side of the Sea of Galilee. Peter was there too, and he always liked to be doing something, so he said to the others, 'I go a-fishing.' And they said, 'We will also go with you;' and at once they all jumped into a little ship, and pushed off into the lake. But that night they caught nothing.

The Sea of Galilee

Next morning Jesus came and stood on the shore. The disciples could see Him, because the little ship was now pretty near to the land, but they did not know Him. Jesus said to the men in the boat, 'Children, have you anything to eat?'

They thought, I suppose, that this stranger wanted to buy some fish, and they said, 'No.' Then Jesus said, 'Cast the net on the right side of the ship, and you shall find.'

And the disciples did what Jesus had said, and at once the net became so heavy with fish that the fishermen could not pull it into the boat.

Then John said to Peter, 'It is the Lord.'

When Peter heard that, he jumped into the water, so as to get quicker to land. The other disciples stayed in the boat, and dragged the fish along after them. When the boat got to land, Peter helped the other men to pull the net in. It was full of great fishes--a hundred and fifty and three. Jesus had got a fire of coals ready on the beach, and some bread; and some fish were broiling on the fire. And now Jesus said to the tired fishermen, 'Come and dine,' and He waited upon them Himself.

After that day by the Sea of Galilee, the disciples went to a mountain which Jesus told them about. And Jesus met them there, and said to them, 'Go and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. AND LO I AM WITH YOU ALWAY, EVEN UNTO THE END OF THE WORLD.' There is another splendid missionary text.

The Mount of Olives

Jesus stayed on earth for forty days, and when the forty days were over, He went for a last walk with His disciples. He took them the way they had so often gone together--over the Mount of Olives, and so far as Bethany. There He stopped, and lifted up His hands, and blessed them. And it came to pass, that while He blessed them, He was taken from them, and carried up into heaven, and sat down on the right hand of God. As the disciples looked up earnestly towards heaven after Jesus, two angels in white robes came and stood by them, and said, 'YE MEN OF GALILEE, WHY DO YOU STAND LOOKING INTO HEAVEN? THIS SAME JESUS WHICH IS TAKEN UP FROM YOU INTO HEAVEN SHALL COME AGAIN IN THE SAME WAY AS YOU HAVE SEEN HIM GO INTO HEAVEN.'

Yes, dear children, Jesus is coming again some day. He will not come as a little baby next time. He will come as a King, to cast out Satan, to judge the world, and to take away all who love Him to be with Him forever.



"SAVIOR, LIKE A SHEPHERD, LEAD US."

Savior, like a shepherd, lead us,
Much we need Thy tend'rest care,
In Thy pleasant pastures feed us,
For our use Thy folds prepare.
Blessed Jesus, Blessed Jesus,
Thou hast bought us, Thine we are.

We are Thine, do Thou befriend us,
Be the Guardian of our way;
Keep Thy flock, from sin defend us,
Seek us when we go astray.
Blessed Jesus, Blessed Jesus,
Hear, O hear us, when we pray.

Thou hast promised to receive us,
Poor and sinful though we be;
Thou hast mercy to relieve us,
Grace to cleanse, and power to free.
Blessed Jesus, Blessed Jesus,
We will early turn to Thee.



"ONE THERE IS ABOVE ALL OTHERS."

One there is, above all others,
Well deserves the name of Friend;
His is love beyond a brother's,
Costly, free, and knows no end.

Which of all our friends, to save us,
Could or would have shed his blood?
But our Jesus died to have us
Reconciled in him to God.

When he lived on earth abaséd,
Friend of sinners was his name;
Now above all glory raiséd,
He rejoices in the same.

Oh, for grace our hearts to soften!
Teach us, Lord, at length, to love;
We, alas! forget too often
What a friend we have above.



THE LORD'S PRAYER

Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen.



PSALM XXIII

1 The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.

2 He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters.

3 He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name's sake.

4 Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.

5 Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.

6 Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the LORD for ever. (End)