The Teaching of Jesus eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 161 pages of information about The Teaching of Jesus.

Very different is the impression which we receive from the Gospels themselves.  It is not possible here to bring together all Christ’s words about money, but we may take the third Gospel (in which the references to the subject are most numerous) and note Christ’s more striking sayings in the order in which they occur.  In the parable of the sower, in the eighth chapter, the thorns which choke the good seed are the “cares and riches and pleasures of this life.”  Chapter twelve contains a warning against covetousness, enforced by the parable of the rich fool and its sharp-pointed application, “So is he that layeth up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God.”  The fourteenth chapter sheds a new light on the law of hospitality:  “When thou makest a dinner or a supper, call not thy friends, nor thy brethren, nor thy kinsmen, nor rich neighbours ... but when thou makest a feast, bid the poor, the maimed, the lame, the blind; and thou shalt be blessed.”  Chapter fifteen tells how a certain son wasted his substance with riotous living.  Chapter sixteen opens with the parable of the unjust steward; then follow weighty words touching the right use of “the mammon of unrighteousness.”  But the Pharisees, who were lovers of money, when they heard these things, “scoffed at Him.”  Christ’s answer is the parable of Dives and Lazarus, with which the chapter closes.  Chapter eighteen tells of a rich young ruler’s choice, and of Christ’s sorrowful comment thereon:  “How hardly shall they that have riches enter into the kingdom of God.”  And then, lastly, in the nineteenth chapter, we hear Zacchaeus, into whose home and heart Christ had entered, resolving on the threshold of his new life that henceforth the half of his goods he would give to the poor, and that where he had wrongfully exacted aught of any man he would restore four-fold.  It is indeed a remarkable fact, the full significance of which few Christians have yet realized, that, as John Ruskin says, the subject which we might have expected a Divine Teacher would have been content to leave to others is the very one He singles out on which to speak parables for all men’s memory.[49]

II

The question is sometimes asked how the teaching of Jesus concerning money is related to that strange product of civilization, the modern millionaire.  The present writer, at least, cannot hold with those who think that Christ was a communist, or that He regarded the possession of wealth as in itself a sin.  Nevertheless, it is impossible not to sympathize with the feeling that the accumulation of huge fortunes in the hands of individuals is not according to the will of Christ.  Mr. Andrew Carnegie is reported to have said that a man who dies a millionaire dies disgraced; and few persons who take their New Testament seriously will be disposed to contradict him.  But, inasmuch as all millionaires are not prepared like Mr. Carnegie to save themselves from disgrace,

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The Teaching of Jesus from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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