Orthodox Daily Devotional for August 12-18
Therefore the kingdom of heaven is like a certain king who wanted to settle accounts with his servants. 24 And when he had begun to settle accounts, one was brought to him who owed him ten thousand talents. 25 But as he was not able to pay, his master commanded that he be sold, with his wife and children and all that he had, and that payment be made. 26 The servant therefore fell down before him, saying, ‘Master, have patience with me, and I will pay you all.’ 27 Then the master of that servant was moved with compassion, released him, and forgave him the debt.
28 “But that servant went out and found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred denarii; and he laid hands on him and took him by the throat, saying, ‘Pay me what you owe!’ 29 So his fellow servant fell down at his feet and begged him, saying, ‘Have patience with me, and I will pay you all.’ 30 And he would not, but went and threw him into prison till he should pay the debt. 31 So when his fellow servants saw what had been done, they were very grieved, and came and told their master all that had been done. 32 Then his master, after he had called him, said to him, ‘You wicked servant! I forgave you all that debt because you begged me. 33 Should you not also have had compassion on your fellow servant, just as I had pity on you?’ 34 And his master was angry, and delivered him to the torturers until he should pay all that was due to him.
35 “So My heavenly Father also will do to you if each of you, from his heart, does not forgive his brother his trespasses.”
But there is as great difference between sins committed against men, and sins committed against God, as between ten thousand talents and a hundred denarii; yea rather there is still greater difference. This appears from the difference of the persons, and from the fewness of the offenders. For when we are seen of man we withhold and are loath to sin, but we cease not daily though God see us, but act and speak all things fearlessly. Not by this only are our sins against God shewn to be more heinous, but also by reason of the benefits which we have received from Him; He gave us being, and has done all things in our behalf, has breathed into us a rational soul, has sent His Son, has opened heaven to us, and made us His sons. If then we should every day die for Him, could we make Him any worthy return? By no means; it should rather redound again to our advantage. But, on the contrary, we offend against His laws.
Mark continued… And He said unto them, Is a lamp brought to be put under a bushel, or under a bed? And not to be set on a lamp stand? For there is nothing hid which shall not be manifested; neither was any thing kept secret, but that it should come into the open. If any man have ears to hear, let him hear. Here He exhorts the apostles to be shining examples in life and in conduct. For just as a lamp is set out where its brightness may be seen, so will your life be conspicuous to all, and all will look upon it. So you must strive to lead a good life; for you will not sit in a corner, but you will be a lamp. The lamp is not hidden under a bed, but it is placed on a lamp stand and sheds light on all. Each one of you is a lamp which ought to be placed upon a lamp stand, which is the high place belonging to a God-pleasing life, so that you might shine on others as well. Your lamp should not be placed under a bushel, which signifies gluttony and making much ado about food; nor should it be placed under a bed, which signifies ease and relaxation. For no one who makes much ado about food and desires to take his ease can, by his own life, be a lamp that shines upon all. ‘ ‘For there is nothing hid, which shall not be manifested.*’ Whatever one does in secret, whether good or evil, will be revealed, both now, and how much more so in the age to come. Is there anything more hidden than God? Yet God Himself was revealed in the flesh.
24-25. And He said unto them, Take heed what ye hear: with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you: and unto you that hear shall more be given. For he that hath, to him shall be given: and he that hath not, from him shall be taken even that which he hath. He
exhorts His disciples to spiritual sobriety. “Take heed,” He says, “what you hear,” let nothing of what I have said slip away from you. For “with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you;’’ that is, whatever degree of attention you give Me, by that same degree will you receive benefit. For if a listener pays the utmost attention, God will give to him in return great benefit. But if he is lax, the degree of benefit will likewise be less. He who has eagerness and zeal will receive benefit. But from him who does not have eagerness and zeal, even what he thinks he has will be taken away. Even the small spark of zeal which he used to have is extinguished by laziness, just as it is kindled by attention.
Commentary from St. Theophylact continued from the previous day…
And He said, So is the kingdom of God, as if a man should cast seed onto the ground; and should sleep, and rise night and day, and the seed should spring and grow up, he knoweth not how. For the earth bringetli forth fruit of herself; first the blade, then the ear, after that the full grain in the ear. But when the crop is brought forth, immediately he putteth in the sickle, because the harvest is come. The kingdom of God means God’s economy for us [that is, His ordering of His creation towards our salvation]. The “man” is God Himself, Who became man for our sake. The seed which He cast onto the earth is the preaching of the Gospel. After He had cast it, He slept, meaning, He ascended into heaven. Yet He rises night and day, for though God appears to sleep, He rises: at night, when He raises us up by means of temptations to a knowledge of Himself; and by day, when He orders our life with sweetness and joy. The seed grows, ‘ ‘He knoweth not how.” For we have free will, and whether the seed increases or not depends on our own inclination. For we do not bear fruit by necessity, but by our own will, first producing the leaf and showing forth the beginnings of good when we are infants and have not yet reached the measure of maturity in Christ. Then we produce the ear, when we are able to withstand the storms of temptations. For then the stalk has’grown joint upon joint, and stands upright, and is more mature. Then comes the full grain in the ear when one bears the good fruit, “When the crop is brought forth,” then the sickle gathers the fruit. The sickle means the Word of God, and the harvest signifies the end of the world.
. And He said, Whereunto shall we liken the kingdom of God? Or with what comparison shall we compare it? It is like a grain of mustard seed, which, when it is sown in the earth, is smaller than all the seeds that be in the earth: but when it is sown, it groweth up, and becometh greater than all the plants, and shooteth out great branches; so that the winged creatures of the air lodge in its shade. And with many such parables spake He the word unto them, as they were able to hear it. But without a parable spake He not unto them: and when they were alone, He expounded all things to His disciples.
The word of faith is very small: “believe in Christ and you will be saved.” You see, it is as small as the grain of mustard seed. But once the preaching of the Gospel had been sown on the earth, it grew and became more spacious, until the winged creatures of the air, meaning those who are lofty and exalted in mind and knowledge, could lodge in it. For how many of the wise have abandoned the Greek wisdom and found rest in the preaching? Thus the preaching became greater than all else, and put forth great branches. For the apostles parted, like branches, one going to Rome, another to India, another to Greece, and others to other parts of the earth. He spoke to the multitudes in many parables, offering parables according to the frame of mind of His listeners. For the multitude were ordinary, unlearned folk, and for this reason He mentions the grain of mustard, the blade, and the seed, so that with common everyday words He could teach them something beneficial; or, so that He could induce them to approach Him and ask, and by asking, to learn what they did not know. For He explained everything to His disciples when they were alone, as they had approached Him and asked. “He explained all things” means that He explained everything which they did not understand and about which they had asked. For He did not explain literally “all things”, including what was already clear. Rather, they learned those things about which they had asked; the rest was dear to them. In this way, then, He “expounded all things” to them.
And the same day, when the evening was come, He saith unto them, Let us pass over unto the other side. And when they had sent away the multitude, they took Him even as He was in the boat. And there were also with Him other little boats. And there arose a great storm of wind, and the waves beat into the boat, so that it was now full. And He was in the stern of the boat, asleep on a headrest: and they awake Him, and say unto Him, Master, carest Thou not that we perish? And He arose, and rebuked the wind, and said unto the sea, Peace, be still. And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm. And He said unto them, Why are ye so fearful? How is it that ye have no faith? And they feared exceedingly, and said one to another, What manner of man is this, that even the wind and the sea obey Him?
The Lord takes only the disciples with Him, so that they would see the miracle about to take place. But lest they become puffed up that He took them while sending the others away, He allows them to be tossed by the storm; at the same time, He teaches them to endure temptations. He sleeps, so that when the disciples had first been shaken with fear, the miracle might appear all the greater to them. For if Christ had been awake when the storm arose, either they would not have become afraid, or they would not have called upon Him. He permits them to fall to a great fear of the danger, so that they might come to a realization of His power. For they had seen the good things done to the multitude, but they themselves had not experienced any such good things, and there was the danger that they would become lazy and careless. So He permits the storm to occur, but He sleeps against a headrest of the boat, this headrest undoubtedly made of wood. When He awoke He rebuked first the wind (for it is the wind which causes the sea to become rough) and then the sea. He also rebukes the disciples for not having faith. For if they had faith, they would have believed that even while He was asleep He could keep them unharmed. “They said to one another, What manner of man is this?” They still had doubts concerning Him. For when He calmed the sea by His command alone, and not with a rod, as did Moses, and not by an invocation of God, as did Elisha at the Jordan, and not with the ark, as did Joshua, the son of Nun, then they thought that He was more than a man; but when He slept, He appeared to them only as a man.
Mark 5: And they came over unto the other side of the sea, into the country of the Gadarenes. And when He was come out of the boat, immediately there met Him out of the tombs a man with an unclean spirit, who had his dwelling among the tombs; and no man could bind him, no, not with chains: because that he had been often bound witli fetters and chains, and the chains had been plucked asunder by him, and the fetters broken in pieces: neither could any man tame him. And always, night and day, he was in the mountains, and in the tombs, crying, and cutting himself with stones. The more precise of the manuscripts read: “into the country of the Gergesenes.” Matthew says that there were two men possessed by demons; while Mark and Luke speak only of one, since they chose to tell only of the fiercer of the two. This man possessed by a demon approaches the Lord and declares that Jesus is the Son of God. For those in the boat were unsure what manner of man Jesus was. But the testimonial witness of enemies, such as the demons here, is the most trustworthy evidence of all. The possessed man lived among the tombs, as he wanted to inspire in men the false belief that the souls of those who have died become demons. But far be it from any one to believe such a thing.