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37. The Parable of the Prodigal Son.

Tax collectors and sinners came to Jesus Christ to listen to Him. The proud Pharisees and scribes, teachers of the Jewish people, murmured about Jesus Christ for this and said, "He receives sinners and eats with them."

But Jesus Christ told several parables, which showed that God joyfully and lovingly receives every repentant sinner. Here is one of them.

There was a man who had two sons. The youngest said to his father, "Father, give me the share of the property that falls to me." The father granted the request and divided his property between them. Not many days later, the youngest son gathered all he had and journeyed into a far country; and there, he squandered his property in loose living. When he had spent everything, a great famine arose in that country, and he began to be in want. So he went and joined himself to one of the citizens of that country, who sent him into his fields to feed swine. He would gladly have eaten the food that the swine ate, but no one gave him anything.

When he came to himself, he remembered his father, was filled with remorse over his deed, and thought, "How many of my father’s hired servants have bread enough and to spare, but I perish here with hunger! I will arise and go to my father, and I will say to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against Heaven and before you; I am no longer worthy to be called your son; treat me as one of your hired servants’."

Thus, he did. He got up and went to his father. But while he was yet at a distance, his father saw him, and had compassion on him, and ran, and embraced him, and kissed him.

The son said to him, "Father! I have sinned against Heaven and before you; I am no longer worthy to be called your son."

But the father said to his servants, "Bring quickly the best robe and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand and shoes on his feet, and bring the fatted calf, and kill it, and let us eat and make merry, for this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found." And they began to make merry.

Now his elder son was in the field, and he came and drew near to the house; he heard music and dancing. He called one of the servants and asked what this meant. The servant said to him, "Your brother has come, and your father has killed the fatted calf because he has received him safe and sound." But the elder son was angry and refused to go in. His father came out and entreated him.

But he answered his father, "Lo, these many years I have served you, and I never disobeyed your command. Yet you never gave me a kid that I might make merry with my friends. But when this son of yours came, who has devoured your living wantonly, you killed the fatted calf for him!"

The father said to him, "Son, you are always with me, and all that is mine is yours. It was fitting to make merry and be glad, for this your brother was dead, and is alive; he was lost, and is found."

In this parable, the father represents God, and the prodigal son — the repentant sinner. Resembling, the prodigal son is every person who in his soul turns away from God and pursues his self-willed, sinful life. By his sins, he destroys his soul and all the gifts: life, health, strength, capabilities — which were bestowed on him by God. When the sinner coming to himself brings to God sincere repentance with humility and hope in His mercy, then the Lord as a compassionate Father rejoices with His angels over the return of the sinner, forgives him all his sins as if they never have been made, and returns to him all His mercy and gifts.

By the story about the elder son, the Saviour teaches that all faithful Christians must with all their souls desire salvation for everyone and rejoice over the return of the sinner not envying the love that God gives them and not considering themselves more worthy of God’s mercy than the one who returns to God from his former immoral life.

Note: See the Gospel of Luke 15:11-32.

Predictions of Jesus Christ about the End of the World and His Second Coming.

Jesus Christ made predictions about what is in store in the future for our entire world and all the people. He has taught that the end of the world is coming, and that the earthly existence of the human race is going to cease. Then, He will come to earth a second time and will resurrect all people at which time the bodies of all people will again become joined to their souls and they will come back to life. Then, Jesus Christ will pronounce judgement over people rendering to each according to his works. "Marvel not at this: for the hour is coming in which all that are in the graves shall hear the voice of the Son of God. And they that hear shall live and shall come forth from their graves: they that have done good — unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil — unto the resurrection of damnation."

The disciples asked, "Tell us when this will be, and what will be the sign of Your (second) coming and of the close of the age?" In answer, Jesus Christ forewarned them that before His coming in glory on earth, there would occur a time of suffering for people, such as has never occurred before from the beginning of the world. There will be various misfortunes: famines, floods, earthquakes and wars. Lawlessness will increase, faith will grow weak, and most people’s love will grow cold. Many false prophets and teachers will appear, who will seduce people and corrupt them with their ruinous, destructive teaching. But first, the Gospel of Christ will be preached to all the corners of the earth in witness to all people.

Before the end of the world, there will be great, terrifying signs in the heavens. The sea will roar and be agitated. Loss of heart and perplexity will possess people, so that they will grow faint from fear and the expectation of disasters coming to the world. Immediately after the tribulation of those days, the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, and the stars will fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken. Then, will appear the sign of Jesus Christ (His cross) in the heavens. Then, all the tribes of the earth will mourn from fear of the judgement of God, and they will see Jesus Christ coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. As lightning flashes in the heavens from the east to the west and is immediately visible from everywhere, such visible to all will the Son of God suddenly come.

About the day and the hour of His coming to earth Jesus Christ did not tell His disciples. "Of that day or that hour no one knows but only the Father," He said, and He taught to watch and always be ready to meet the Lord.

Note: See the Gospels of John 5:24-29; Matthew 24:3-44; Mark 13:3-37; Luke 17:20-37 and 21:7-36.

Parable of the Ten Virgins.

In order that people would always be ready to meet the Lord, the judgement of God, which means to be ready for death since death is the beginning of the judgement of God over men, Jesus Christ told the parable of the ten virgins. In this parable, the Lord likens us to virgins who had gathered for a marriage. According to Eastern wedding customs, the groom went for his bride, who awaited him in the home of her father. Her friends, virgins, had to meet the groom with burning lanterns in late evening, and accompany him to the fiancée.

Then, the Kingdom of Heaven shall be compared to ten virgins, said the Saviour, who took their lamps and went to meet the bridegroom. Five of them were foolish, and five were wise. For when the foolish took their lamps, they took no oil with them; but the wise took flasks of oil with their lamps. As the bridegroom was delayed, they all slumbered and slept. But at midnight there was a cry, "Behold, the bridegroom! Come out to meet him." Then, all those virgins rose and trimmed their lamps. And the foolish said to the wise, "Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out." But the wise replied, "Perhaps there will not be enough for us and for you; go rather to the dealers and buy for yourselves." And while they went to buy, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went in with him to the marriage feast, and the door was shut.

Afterward the other virgins came also, saying, "Lord, lord, open to us."

But he replied, "Truly, I say to you, I do not know you." After finishing this parable, the Saviour said, "Watch therefore (always be prepared), for you know neither the day nor the hour in which comes the Son of man."

The "foolish virgins" correspond to those careless people who know that they have to appear at the judgement of God but who do not prepare themselves for it while they are alive on earth, while death has not overtaken them. They do not repent of their sins and do not do good deeds. The "oil in the lamps" means good deeds, especially works of mercy. The "sleep of the virgins" represents the death of people.

Our Judge ("The Bridegroom"), Jesus Christ, will come to earth and all the dead will awaken from the sleep of death, that is, they will be resurrected. As death finds one, prepared or unprepared for the judgement of God, so he has to appear before the judgement of God. Then, careless people will not be able to look for help from anywhere, and they will hear from Christ the bitter words, "I do not know you; depart from Me."

Note: See the Gospel of Matthew 25:1-13.

The Parable of the Talents.

Jesus Christ told yet another parable reproving our laziness and negligence.

The Son of man is like a man, who going on a journey into a far country called his servants and entrusted to them his property. To one he gave five talents, to the other — two talents, to another — one talent, — according to an ability of each. Then, he went away.

One who had received the five talents went at once and traded with them; and he made five talents more. Uniformly, one who had the two talents made two talents more. But one who had received the one talent did not want to work, and he went and dug in the ground and hid his master’s money.

After a long time, the master of those servants came and settled accounts with them. The one who had received the five talents came forward bringing five talents more and saying, "Master, you delivered to me five talents; here, I have made five talents more."

His master said to him, "Well done, good and faithful servant; you have been faithful over a little. I will set you over much; enter into the joy of your master."

And also, the one who had the two talents came forward saying, "Master, you gave me two talents. Here, I have made two more talents."

His master said to him, "Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master."

Also, the one who had received one talent came forward saying, "Master, I knew you to be a hard man, reaping where you did not sow, and gathering where you did not winnow. So I was afraid, and I went and hid your talent in the ground. Here, you have what is yours."

But his master answered him, "You wicked and slothful servant! You knew that I reap where I have not sowed and gather where I have not winnowed. Then, you ought to have invested my money with the bankers; and at my coming, I should have received what was my own with interest. So take the talent from him and give it to him who has the ten talents. For every one who has will be given more, and he will have abundance; but from him who has not, even what he has will be taken away. Cast the worthless servant into the outer darkness where men will weep and gnash their teeth."

Having told this parable, Jesus Christ exclaimed, "He who has ears to hear, let him hear!"

This parable means that all people receive various gifts from God, such as life, health, strength, spiritual capacity, learning, gifts of the Holy Spirit, the good things of life, and so on, in order to use these gifts in the service of God and neighbour. All these are gifts of God and are understood in the parable under the name of talents. God knows how much each person needs, according to his ability, and therefore some people receive more, others less. He who uses the gifts of God must give an account to God at His second coming. He who uses them to the advantage of himself and others will receive praise from the Lord and eternal heavenly joy, but lazy and careless people will be condemned by the Lord to eternal suffering.

Note: See the Gospels of Matthew 25:14-30; Luke 19:11-28.

The Last Judgment.

Concerning His fearful last judgement over all people at the time of His second coming, Jesus Christ taught the following.

When the Son of man comes in His glory, and all the angels are with Him, then He will sit as King on the throne of His glory. Before Him, will be gathered all the nations, and He will separate one from another: the faithful and good from the godless and evil, — as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will place the sheep, the righteous, at His right hand, but the goats or sinners — at the left.

Then, the King will say to those at his right hand, "Come, O blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the creation of the world. For I was hungry, and you gave Me food. I was thirsty, and you gave Me drink. I was a stranger, and you welcomed Me. I was naked, and you clothed Me. I was sick, and you visited Me. I was in prison, and you came to Me."

Then, the righteous will answer Him, "Lord! When did we see Thee hungry and feed Thee or thirsty and gave Thee drink? And when did we see Thee a stranger and welcome Thee or naked and clothe Thee? And when did we see Thee sick or in prison and visit Thee?"

The King will answer them, "Truly, I say to you: as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren (for needy people), you did it to Me."

Then, He will say to those at His left hand, "Depart from Me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the Devil and his angels. For I was hungry, and you gave Me no food. I was thirsty, and you gave Me no drink. I was a stranger, and you did not welcome Me; naked, and you did not clothe Me; sick and in prison, and you did not visit Me."

Then, they also will answer, "Lord, when did we see Thee hungry, or thirsty, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison and did not minister to Thee?"

But the King will answer them, "Truly, I say to you: as you did not do it for one of the least of these, you did not do it for Me." And they will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous — into eternal life.

Great and terrifying will be that day for all of us. Therefore, this judgement is called terrible, for our deeds, words, and our most secret thoughts and desires will be revealed to all. Then, there will be no one to help us, for the judgement of God is just, and each will be judged according to his deeds.

Note: See the Gospel of Matthew 25:31-46.

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