Inasmuch--A Parable

AND it came to pass in those days that there dwelt in a certain land ten honest and goodly men, filled with learning from the schools of the prophets. And as their forefathers had done in generations past, they went forth from the schools of the prophets to proclaim with much zeal the day of the Lord and to do good works. . .

-A general practitioner in Calgary, Canada, and secretary of the health department, Canadian Union Conference at the time this article was written

AND it came to pass in those days that there dwelt in a certain land ten honest and goodly men, filled with learning from the schools of the prophets. And as their forefathers had done in generations past, they went forth from the schools of the prophets to proclaim with much zeal the day of the Lord and to do good works.

But lo, five were wise and five were foolish. Those who were wise pondered and forgot not those things which were taught unto them from the Scriptures and from the prophet of the Lord. They read oft in the book of Isaias where it is written:

"Is not this the fast that I have chosen? to loose the bands of wickedness, to undo the heavy burdens, and to let the oppressed go free, and that ye break every yoke? . . . And thou shalt be called, The repairer of the breach, The restorer of paths to dwell in" (Isa. 58:6-12).

Now, one of these wise men, an high priest, dwelt in a certain royal city and was overseer of the temples in all the land round about. From one new moon to another he taught the priests and elders diligently how that they were to show the goodness and mercy of the Lord unto the Philis tines and the Samaritans, being doers of the word and not hearers and preachers only. And the knowledge of Cod waxed very great in those parts because the high priest and the host of his men understood and did those things which the Lord had instructed them.

There dwelt in that same region a man of good will among the people who was known as a physician. And he was called great in the land because of his good works. He had much knowledge in the healing of diseases, and he healed such as he could that came unto him, instructing them daily that they should go and sin no more, nor defile their bodies with unclean food and drink and with the drunkenness of this world's cares. He preached unto them Jesus, and many in that city forsook their evil ways, and desired to follow the God of that physician.

Now, yet another wise man in that city was a preacher in the synagogue. The people praised him for his good words and said in their hearts, "What thou sayest we will do." But the preacher, being wise, knew that the people were fickle, and ofttimes forgot the word of the Lord and the sayings of his preaching. Therefore when the first day of the week was come he arose a great while before daybreak and besought the Lord in prayer to give him wisdom and knowledge. Then he went to the houses of the children of Israel, roused them from their slumber, and charged them straitly and with kindness that they should go outside the wall of the city and see there the sick, and the lame, and the blind, and the poor, and the widows, and the fatherless. The hearts of the people were pricked within them, and they arose willingly and sup plied those things which the sick and the suffering had need of. In those days there was great rejoicing for the kindness of the servants of the Lord, and all the nations around did marvel. They said, "Surely your God is a great God," for the good works they did. And the preacher of the synagogue was glad, and grew in favor with Cod and man. And, lo, a fourth wise man dwelt in that land, a heater who was skilled in all manner of marvelous works in the mouths of the people, with gold, and with silver, and with clay. The multitudes crowded upon his door step, for the fame of his skill. But the wise man remembered the word of Isaias the prophet to King Hezekiah when he said, "What have they seen in thine house?" He determined in his heart that when the people should come unto him for healing he would diligently attend to their suffering and would not forsake them that they should return unto their evil ways but would speak the praises of the great Jehovah and tell of His wonderful goodness to the children of men. And the people marveled that the healer should speak thus, and many there were who followed after him to learn of his God. Mr There was yet another wise man in those days who was not a priest or a healer but who labored daily in the streets of the city and was not rich in goods. But he read daily from the Scriptures, both he and his family, and understood well the way that is called Christian. Day unto day he brought (into his house those who were hungry and naked and bound up the wounds of the brokenhearted, and his wife with him. The rulers and the mighty took no notice of this man's deeds, but the people where unto he gave help were greatly blessed in body and in spirit, and gave thanks unto the Lord. And many were added unto the kingdom of God because of that man's good deeds.

Now, the five men who were foolish dwelt also in those same parts, and the people had respect unto them because they were learned men and had studied in the schools of the prophets. But the Lord counted them as foolish because they forgot the word of their God and read not the scrolls of the prophets but looked to their own understanding and were wise in their own eyes and followed after the teachers of the Greeks and the Syrians and the nations round about.

There was one, an high priest, who was ruler over all the priests in the synagogues throughout the land in those parts. The children of Israel rose up and called him blessed and gave him honor because he spake pleasant things unto them concerning the greatness of the kingdom and the wealth of the temple and of wondrous things to come. And be cause he spake eloquently the people brought unto him yet greater gifts of gold and silver and of brass and tin and moneys. And they builded yet more synagogues and inhabited them and were glad with themselves. But he spake not unto them of the weightier matters of the law, of having compassion one of an other, or to be pitiful, of having fervent charity, and using hospitality, of showing mercy to the poor and the afflicted. The Lord, therefore, was sorrowful, for the priests and the people wist not that they had a form of godliness but did deny the power thereof. There were not many added unto the church in that place.

In the midst of the congregation there dwelt a great man, who like that other wise man was a physician and an healer. The host of the congregation praised him, for he gave great gifts unto the treasury and provided sustenance for the schools of the prophets. The rulers of the synagogue called him a pillar of the temple and honored him greatly. But the Lord said in His heart and unto the foolish servant, "Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice." For he healed the diseases of the people, but spake not unto them respecting the Lord God Creator who healeth all our infirmities and maketh man whole. And for the pride of life he was filled with vanity and foolishness and knew it not.

There dwelt another healer in that same city who worked cunningly and well with teeth, and his skill was noised abroad through all Judea. He pleased the people well, for he was comely and worked with haste and skill to relieve their distresses. The Gentiles, too, called him great and gave him honor, for he had many chariots; and he caused all to wonder because of how he drove with speed as did Jehu of olden times. But the Lord counted it foolishness unto him, because the healer wist not that the people who came unto him ofttimes had pain of heart and knew not God, and looked unto the healer to show them his God but found Him not.

Now the rabbi of the synagogue in a small city nearby was looked upon with favor by those called Christian and those who were Gentiles. For he spent his time in zealous works in the temple, and spake oft with the rulers in the market place. He spent much time with the elders of the treasury, and with the council of the elders; and even the young sought him when they went unto the hills and unto the snows of Lebanon or upon the Sea of Galilee. And the congregation was contented for the diligent labor of the priest. Now certain widows and poor and sorrowful sent word unto him, and importuned him that he should come and relieve them of their distresses. The priest was troubled in his heart, for he was busy with many things. And he made reply, saying, "Yet a little while, and I will come; but now I am wearied with many things, and I must be about my Father's business." But he went not. And from that day certain widows and young men and maidens who had great need walked no longer with the congregation and besought the Gentiles and the heathen to help them.

Now there came unto that country a workman who had dwelt from an early age in the schools of the prophets, and had all knowledge concerning the Scriptures and the law. He brought his tithes and offerings with all diligence and commanded his household well that they should observe the Sabbath. He spake boldly concerning clean and unclean meats, and drove out from his household those servants who followed not in his footsteps. Certain of the slothful and winebibbers dwelt in the same street, and caused the workman great anguish of spirit. He chastened them straitly concerning their slothfulness and their winebibbing, and hung scrolls of the inspired writings in the doors of their houses, that they might read. But they laughed him to scorn, and desired that he trouble them no more. And then his anger waxed hot against them, and he gathered his children round him and took them into a desert place to dwell. There he lived in peace, nor knew any soul where he dwelt.

Now at the end of the days of these ten children of Israel, there came the Lord of the harvest to claim His own. And He saith unto each of them, "Where is the flock that was given thee, thy beautiful flock?" And the five wise servants began with one accord to bring unto the Master those to whom they had taught a knowledge of the great God. But the five foolish ones began to make excuses, and told of their mighty works and sacrifices, and how that the duties of the temple and of the councils had worn out the saints of the Most High.

Then said the Lord unto those foolish servants, "I was an hungred, and ye gave me no meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me no drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me not in: naked, and ye clothed me not: sick, and in prison, and ye visited me not. . . . Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me." And they durst not answer Him a word.

Then said the King unto the wise servants, "Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: for I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in: naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me."

Then the five wise servants answered him saying, "Lord, when did we these things unto thee?"

The king answered and said unto them, "Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me."

Which now of these ten, thinkest thou, was neighbor unto those about him and fulfilled the word of the Lord?

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-A general practitioner in Calgary, Canada, and secretary of the health department, Canadian Union Conference at the time this article was written

July 1973

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