Six days after the last Miracle of the loaves and fish, Jesus Christ went up into a high Mountain, with only three of the Disciples—Peter, James, and John. And while he was speaking to them there, suddenly His face began to shine as if it were the Sun, and the robes he wore, which were white, glistened and shone like sparkling silver, and he stood before them like an angel. A bright cloud overshadowed them at the same time; and a voice, speaking from the cloud, was heard to say, “This is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased. Hear ye him!” At which the three disciples fell on their knees and covered their faces; being afraid.
This is called the Transfiguration of our Saviour. When they were come down from this mountain, and were among the people again, a man knelt at the feet of Jesus Christ, and said, “Lord have mercy on my son, for he is mad and cannot help himself, and sometimes falls into the fire, and sometimes into the water, and covers himself with scars and sores. Some of Thy Disciples have tried to cure him, but could not.” Our Saviour cured the child immediately; and turning to his disciples told them they had not been able to cure him themselves, because they did not believe in Him so truly as he had hoped.
The Disciples asked him, “Master, who is greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven?” Jesus called a little child to him, and took him in his arms, and stood him among them, and answered, “A child like this. I say unto you that none but those who are as humble as little children shall enter into Heaven. Whosoever shall receive one such little child in my name receiveth me. But whosoever hurts one of them, it were better for him that he had a millstone tied about his neck, and were drowned in the depths of the sea. The angels are all children.” Our Saviour loved the child, and loved all children. Yes, and all the world. No one ever loved all people so well and so truly as He did.
Peter asked Him, “Lord, How often shall I forgive any one who offends me? Seven times?” Our Saviour answered, “Seventy time seven times, and more than that. For how can you hope that God will forgive you, when you do wrong, unless you forgive all other people!”
And he told his disciples this Story—He said, there was once a Servant who owed his master a great deal of money, and could not pay it, at which the Master, being very angry, was going to have this servant sold for a Slave. But the servant kneeling down and begging his Master’s pardon with great sorrow, the Master forgave him. Now this same servant had a fellow-servant who owed him a hundred pence, and instead of being kind and forgiving to this poor man, as his Master had been to him, he put him in prison for the debt. His master hearing of it, went to him, and said, “Oh wicked Servant, I forgave you. Why did you not forgive your fellow servant!” And because he had not done so, his Master turned him away with great misery. “So,” said Our Saviour; “how can you expect God to forgive you, if you do not forgive others!” This is the meaning of that part of the Lord’s prayer, where we say, “Forgive us our trespasses”—that word means faults—“as we forgive them that trespass against us.”
And he told them another story, and said, “There was a certain Farmer once, who had a vineyard and he went out early in the morning and agreed with some labourers to work there all day, for a Penny. And bye and bye, when it was later, he went out again and engaged some more labourers on the same terms; and bye and bye went out again; and so on, several times, until the afternoon. When the day was over, and they all came to be paid, those who had worked since morning complained that those who had not begun to work until late in the day had the same money as themselves, and they said it was not fair. But the Master, said, “Friend, I agreed with you for a Penny; and is it less money to you, because I give the same money to another man?”
Our Saviour meant to teach them by this, that people who have done good all their lives long, will go to Heaven after they are dead. But that people who have been wicked, because of their being miserable, or not having parents and friends to take care of them when young, and who are truly sorry for it, however late in their lives, and pray God to forgive them, will be forgiven and will go to Heaven too. He taught His disciples in these stories, because he knew the people liked to hear them, and would remember what He said better, if he said it in that way. They are called Parables. I wish you to remember that word, as I shall soon have some more of these Parables to tell you about.
The people listened to all that our Saviour said, but were not agreed among themselves about Him. The Pharisees and Jews had spoken to some of them against Him, and some of them were inclined to do Him harm and even to murder Him. But they were afraid, as yet, to do Him any harm, because of His goodness, and His looking so divine and grand—although he was very simply dressed; almost like the poor people—that they could hardly bear to meet his eyes.
One morning, He was sitting in a place called the Mount of Olives, teaching the people who were all clustered round Him, listening and learning attentively, when a great noise was heard, and a crowd of Pharisees, and some other people like them, called Scribes, came running in, with great cries and shouts, dragging among them a woman who had done wrong, and they all cried out together, “Master! Look at this woman. The law says she shall be pelted with stones until she is dead. But what say you? what say you?”
Jesus looked upon the noisy crowd attentively, and knew that they had come to make him say the law was wrong and cruel; and that if He said so, they would make it a charge against Him and would kill him. They were ashamed and afraid as He looked into their faces, but they still cried out, “Come! What say you Master? what say you?”
Jesus stooped down, and wrote with his finger in the sand on the ground, “He that is without sin among you, let him throw the first stone at her.” As they read this looking over one another’s shoulders, and as He repeated the words to them, they went away, one by one, ashamed, until not a man of all the noisy crowd was left there; and Jesus Christ, and the woman, hiding her face in her hands, alone remained.
Then said Jesus Christ, “Woman, where are thine accusers? Hath no man condemned Thee?” She answered, trembling, “No Lord!” Then said our Saviour, “Neither do I condemn Thee. Go! and sin no more! “