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As Jesus was talking to His disciples, a certain lawyer stood up and asked, "Who is my neighbour?" And
Jesus answered by telling them this story:

A certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among thieves, who robbed him, stripped
him of his clothes, and, wounding him, left him on the road half dead. By chance there came a priest
that way, and, as a teacher of religion to men, he should have stopped to help the poor man. Instead of
this, he pretended not to see, and passed by on the other side of the road. Then there came by a Levite,
who also, as an official of the church, should have given help. But he merely came and looked on the
injured man, and passed on the other side as the priest had done.

Afterwards there came by a Samaritan, and, when he caught sight of the wounded Jew, he went over to
him and was very sorry for him. Now the Jews hated the Samaritans, and were their enemies, so that it
would not have been surprising if he, also, had done as the priest and the Levite did. But, no! Though it
was his enemy, he could not pass him by and leave him on the road, perhaps to die. He examined his
wounds and bound them up; doing all that he could to soothe them. Then he lifted him carefully on his
own beast, and brought him to the nearest inn, and took care of him through the night. The next day,
when the Samaritan departed, he paid the man who kept the inn, and said to him, "Take care of this
poor man until he is well, and whatever it may cost for his lodging and food, that I will pay thee when I
come again."

"Which of these three, thinkest thou, was neighbour unto him that fell among thieves?" The lawyer
answered, "He that showed mercy unto him." Then said Jesus, "Go, and do thou likewise."
The Parable of the Prodigal Son

11 And he said, “There was a man who had two sons. 12 And the younger of them said to his father,
‘Father, give me the share of property that is coming to me.’ And he divided his property between them.
13 Not many days later, the younger son gathered all he had and took a journey into a far country, and
there he squandered his property in reckless living. 14 And when he had spent everything, a severe
famine arose in that country, and he began to be in need. 15 So he went and hired himself out to[a] one
of the citizens of that country, who sent him into his fields to feed pigs. 16 And he was longing to be fed
with the pods that the pigs ate, and no one gave him anything.

“But when he came to himself, he said, ‘How many of my father's hired servants have more than
enough bread, but I perish here with hunger! 18 I will arise and go to my father, and I will say to him,
“Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you. 19 I am no longer worthy to be called your son.
Treat me as one of your hired servants.”’ 20 And he arose and came to his father. But while he was still a
long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion, and ran and embraced him and kissed him. 21 And
the son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you. I am no longer worthy to be
called your son.’[b] 22 But the father said to his servants,[c] ‘Bring quickly the best robe, and put it on
him, and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet. 23 And bring the fattened calf and kill it, and let
us eat and celebrate. 24 For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found.’ And they
began to celebrate.

“Now his older son was in the field, and as he came and drew near to the house, he heard music and
dancing. 26 And he called one of the servants and asked what these things meant. 27 And he said to
him, ‘Your brother has come, and your father has killed the fattened calf, because he has received him
back safe and sound.’ 28 But he was angry and refused to go in. His father came out and entreated him,
29 but he answered his father, ‘Look, these many years I have served you, and I never disobeyed your
command, yet you never gave me a young goat, that I might celebrate with my friends. 30 But when this
son of yours came, who has devoured your property with prostitutes, you killed the fattened calf for
him!’ 31 And he said to him, ‘Son, you are always with me, and all that is mine is yours. 32 It was fitting
to celebrate and be glad, for this your brother was dead, and is alive; he was lost, and is found.’”
The Pharisee and the Tax Collector

The Pharisee and the Publican, James TissotPharisees were leading figures in the life of Israel in New
Testament times, but Jesus is often critical of them.

On the other hand tax collectors were unsavory types, but Jesus befriended them. There may be hope
yet for those who have been written off by respectable society.

The Pharisee in this story attributes his goodness to the grace of God, and thanks Him. So far so good.
But he seems to look down on the rest of the world. He is dismissive of the tax collector who is also
praying in the Temple. Thank God, he says, I am not like that awful man back there - and in fact his life
and achievements are impressive. But his love for God does not move him to compassion for those less
fortunate than himself, and his righteousness may even drive him away from others.

In contrast, the tax collector signals his unworthiness before God. His words echo the opening words of
Psalm 51, about the sin and repentance of David. He does not shy away from the fact that as a tax
collector for the Romans he oppresses his own people, but there is a depth of feeling in his words that is
missing from the Pharisee's prayer.

Things are not necessarily as they first seem. We must look deeper at a situation before we understand
The Wise and the Foolish

“Five of them were foolish and five were wise. The foolish ones took their lamps but did not take any oil
with them. The wise, however, took oil in jars along with their lamps“ (vs.2-4).

Jesus immediately separates those who are awaiting his return into two types of individuals: the wise
and the foolish. Notice that all of the virgins began their wait with full lamps, which seems to indicate
that they all had anticipated that they were going to have to wait in the darkness for some time before
the bridegroom came to bring them into the wedding banquet. Moreover, the wise anticipated that
they might have to wait far into the night before the bridegroom came, so they brought extra oil in
order to keep their lights burning as long as necessary.

Because being wise or foolish is clearly associated with the necessity of keeping the lamps burning, it is
important to understand the symbolism of the lamps:

“Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path“ (Psa.119:105 Para.).

A lamp symbolizes the word of God (i.e., the truth of God) which lights one's pathway through life.

“My son, keep your father's commands and do not forsake your mother's teaching [allegorically
referring to God the Father and Jesus Christ]. Bind them upon your heart forever; fasten them around
your neck. When you walk, they will guide you; when you sleep, they will watch over you; when you
awake, they will speak to you. For these commands are a lamp, this teaching is a light, and the
corrections of discipline are the way to life“ (Pro.6:20-23 Para.).
The Foolish

“The foolish ones said to the wise, Give us some of your oil; our lamps are going out. No, they replied,
there may not be enough for both us and you. Instead, go to those who sell oil and buy some for
yourself“ (vs.8-9).

These foolish Christians have allowed themselves to become spiritually weak and lethargic. They have
not kept the truth of God alive in their hearts through diligent study and meditation on God's word and
constant communication with the Father. They have not done the things that are required in order to
keep the light of God burning brightly in their lives. They have no reserve of spiritual strength to rely
upon in this time of stress. In desperation, they hope that an association with those who are in a better
spiritual condition will get them into the Kingdom. These people have forgotten the admonition by the
apostle Paul to the Philippians to “Work out your own salvation in fear and trembling“ (Phil.2:12).

The five foolish virgins have allowed their calling and their understanding to erode, and they have gone
so far back into the world that they cannot make the transition from unrighteousness to righteousness.
They have ignored God's truth and ways too long and have become cold toward God. What they have
done is reject an opportunity to repent because they have become so self-willed that they have
quenched the spirit of God within them; they have adopted the standards of the world; and they have,
in fact, sentenced themselves to the Lake of Fire:

“But while they [the foolish Christians] were on their way to buy the oil, the bridegroom [Christ] arrived.
The virgins who were ready [the wise Christians] went in with him to the wedding banquet. And the
door was shut“ (v10).

When Jesus Christ arrives at the time of the first resurrection to gather the Father's elect children and
returns to heaven with them, the opportunity of salvation will have come to those who have been called
during the gospel age. It is too late for anyone who has ignored the Father's call to enter his family and
kingdom as a first-born son of his new creation.