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GOSPEL ACCORDING TO LUKE
(Part 2 of 3, chapters 9-19:27)
Jesus commissions the twelve to preach and heal
9:1-5 - Then he called the twelve together and gave them power over all evil spirits and the ability to heal disease. He sent them out to preach the kingdom of God and to heal the sick, with these words, "Take nothing for your journey - neither a stick nor a purse nor food nor money, nor even extra clothes! When you come to stay at a house, remain there until you go on your way again. And where they will not welcome you, leave that town, and shake the dust off your feet as a protest against them!"
9:6 - So they set out, and went from village to village preaching the Gospel and healing people everywhere.
Herod's uneasy conscience after his execution of John
9:7-8 - "All these things came to the ears of Herod the tetrarch and caused him acute anxiety, because some people were saying that John had risen from the dead, some maintaining that the prophet Elijah had appeared, and others that one of the old-time prophets had come back.
9:9 - "I beheaded John," said Herod. "Who can this be that I hear all these things about?" And he tried to find a way of seeing Jesus."
The twelve return and tell their story
9:10 - Then the apostles returned, and when they had made their report to Jesus of what they had done, he took them with him privately and retired into a town called Bethsaida.
Jesus welcomes the crowds, teaches, heals and feeds them
9:11-12 - But the crowds observed this and followed him. And he welcomed them and talked to them about the kingdom of God, and cured those who were in need of healing. As the day drew to its close the twelve came to him and said, "Please dismiss the crowd now so that they can go to the villages and country round about and find some food and shelter, for we're quite in the wilds here."
9:13-14 - "You give them something to eat!" returned Jesus. "But we've nothing here," they replied, "except five loaves and two fish, unless you want us to go and buy food for all this crowd?" (There were approximately five thousand men there). Then Jesus said to the disciples, "Get them to sit down in groups of about fifty."
9:15-17 - This they did, making them all sit down. Then he took the five loaves and the two fish and looked up to Heaven, blessed them, broke them into pieces and passed them to his disciples to serve to the crowds. Everybody ate and was satisfied. Afterwards they collected twelve baskets full of broken pieces which were left over.
Jesus asks a question and receives Peter's momentous answer
9:18 - Then came this incident. While Jesus was praying by himself, having only the disciples near him, he asked them this question: "Who are the crowd saying that I am?"
9:19 - "Some say that you are John the Baptist," they replied. "Others that you are Elijah, and others think that one of the old-time prophets has come to life again."
9:20 - Then he said, "And who do you say that I am?" "God's Christ! said Peter.
Jesus foretells his own suffering: the paradox of losing life to find it
9:21 - But Jesus expressly told them not to say a word to anybody, ......
9:22 - ..... at the same time warning them of the inevitability of the Son of Man's great suffering, of his repudiation by the elders, chief priests and scribes, and of his death and of being raised to life again on the third day.
9:23-27 - Then he spoke to them all. "If anyone wants to follow in my footsteps, he must give up all right to himself, carry his cross every day and keep close behind me. For the man who wants to save his life will lose it, but the man who loses his life for my sake will save it. For what is the use of a man gaining the whole world if he loses or forfeits his own soul? If anyone is ashamed of me and my words, the Son of Man will be ashamed of him, when he comes in his glory and the glory of the Father and the holy angels. I tell you the simple truth - there are men standing here today who will not taste death until they have seen the kingdom of God!"
Peter, John and James are allowed to see the glory of Jesus
9:28-35 - About eight days after these sayings, Jesus took Peter, James and John and went off to the hill-side to pray. And then, while he was praying, the whole appearance of his face changed and his clothes became white and dazzling. And two men were talking with Jesus. They were Moses and Elijah - revealed in heavenly splendour, and their talk was about the way he must take and the end he must fulfil in Jerusalem. But Peter and his companions had been overcome by sleep and it was as they struggled into wakefulness that they saw the glory of Jesus and the two men standing with him. Just as they were parting from him, Peter said to Jesus, "Master, it is wonderful for us to be here! Let us put up three shelters - one for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah." But he did not know what he was saying. While he was still talking, a cloud overshadowed them and awe swept over them as it enveloped them. A voice came out of the cloud, saying "This is my Son, my chosen! Listen to him!"
9:36 - And while the voice was speaking, they found there was no one there at all but Jesus. The disciples were reduced to silence, and in those days never breathed a word to anyone to what they had seen.
Jesus heals an epileptic boy
9:37-40 - Then on the following day, as they came down the hill-side, a great crowd met him. Suddenly a man from the crowd shouted out, "Master, please come and look at my son! He's my only child, and without any warning some spirit gets hold of him and he calls out suddenly. Then it convulses him until he foams at the mouth, and only after a fearful struggle does it go away and leave him bruised all over. I begged your disciples to get rid of it, but they couldn't."
9:41 - "You really are an unbelieving and difficult people," replied Jesus. "How long must I be with you, how long must I put up with you? Bring him here to me."
9:42-43 - But even while the boy was on his way, the spirit hurled him to the ground in a dreadful convulsion. Then Jesus reprimanded the evil spirit, healed the lad and handed him back to his father. And everybody present was amazed at this demonstration of the power of God.
The realism of Jesus in the midst of enthusiasm
9:43b-44 - And while everybody was full of wonder at all the things they saw him do, Jesus was saying to the disciples, "Store up in your minds what I tell you nowadays, for the Son of Man is going to be handed over to the power of men."
9:45 - But they made no sense of this saying - something made it impossible for them to understand it, and they were afraid to ask him what he meant.
Jesus and "greatness"
9:46-48 - Then an argument arose among them as to who should be the greatest. But Jesus, knowing what they were arguing about, took a little child and made him stand by his side. And then he said to them, "Anyone who accepts a little child in my name is really accepting me, and the man who accepts me is really accepting the one who sent me. It is the humblest among you all who is really the greatest."
9:49 - Then John broke in, "Master, we saw a man driving out evil spirits in your name, but we stopped him, for he is not one of us who follow you."
9:50 - But Jesus told him, "You must not stop him. The man who is not against you is on your side."
He sets off for Jerusalem to meet inevitable death
9:51-54 - Now as the days before he should be taken back into Heaven were running out, he resolved to go to Jerusalem, and sent messengers in front of him. They set out and entered a Samaritan village to make preparations for him. But the people there refused to welcome him because he was obviously intending to go to Jerusalem. When the disciples James and John saw this, they said, "Master, do you want us to call down fire from heaven and burn them all up?"
9:55-56 - But Jesus turned and reproved them, and they all went on to another village.
9:57 - As the little company made its way along the road, a man said to him, "I'm going to follow you wherever you go."
9:58 - And Jesus replied, "Foxes have earths, birds have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere that he can call his own."
9:59 - But he said to another man, "Follow me." And he replied, "Let me go and bury my father first."
9:60 - But Jesus told him, "Leave the dead to bury their own dead. You must come away and preach the kingdom of God."
9:61 - Another man said to him, "I am going to follow you, Lord, but first let me bid farewell to my people at home."
9:62 - But Jesus told him, "Anyone who puts his hand to the plough and then looks behind him is useless for the kingdom of God."
Jesus now despatches thirty-five couples to preach and heal the sick
10:1 - Later on the Lord commissioned seventy other disciples and sent them off in twos as advance-parties into every town and district where he intended to go.
10:2 - "There is a great harvest," he told them, "but only a few are working in it - which means you must pray to the Lord of the harvest that he will send out more reapers.
10:3-7 - "Now go on your way. I am sending you out like lambs among wolves. Don't carry a purse or a pair of shoes, and don't stop to pass the time of day with anyone you meet on the road. When you go into a house, say first of all, 'Peace be to this household!' If there is a lover of peace there, he will accept your words of blessing, and if not, they will come back to you. Stay in the same house and eat and drink whatever they put before you - a workman deserves his wages. But don't move from one house to another.
"10:8-12 - Whatever town you go into and the people welcome you, eat the meals they give you and heal the people who are ill there. Tell them, 'The kingdom of God is very near to you now.' But whenever you come into a town and they will not welcome you, you must go into the streets and say, 'We brush off even the dust of your town from our feet as a protest against you. But it is still true that the kingdom of God has arrived! I assure you that it will be better for Sodom in 'that day' than for that town.
10:13-15 - "Alas for you, Chorazin, and alas for you, Bethsaida! For if Tyre and Sidon had seen the demonstrations of God's power that you have seen, they would have repented long ago and sat in sackcloth and ashes. It will be better for Tyre and Sidon in the judgment than for you! As for you, Capernaum, are you on your way up to heaven? I tell you, you will go hurtling down among the dead!"
10:16 - Then he added to the seventy, "Whoever listens to you is listening to me, and the man who has no use for you has no use for me either. And the man who has no use for me has no use for the one who sent me!"
Jesus tells the returned missioners not to be enthusiastic over mere power
10:17-20 - Later the seventy came back full of joy. "Lord," they said, "even evil spirits obey us when we use your name!"
10:18-20 - "Yes," returned Jesus, "I was watching and saw Satan fall from heaven like a flash of lightning! It is true that I have given you the power to tread on snakes and scorpions and to overcome all the enemy's power - there is nothing at all that can do you any harm. Yet it is not your power over evil spirits which should give such joy, but the fact that your names are written in Heaven."
Jesus prays aloud to his Father
10:21-22 - At that moment Jesus himself was inspired with joy, and exclaimed, "O Father, Lord of Heaven and earth, I thank you for hiding these things from the clever and the intelligent and for showing them to mere children! Yes, I thank you, Father, that this was your will." Then he went on, "Everything has been put in my hands by my Father; and nobody knows who the Son really is except the Father. Nobody knows who the Father really is except the Son - and the man to whom the Son chooses to reveal him!"
10:23-24 - Then he turned to his disciples and said to them quietly, "How fortunate you are to see what you are seeing! I tell you that many prophets and kings have wanted to see what you are seeing but they never saw it, and to hear what you are hearing but they never heard it."
Jesus shows the relevance of the Law to actual living
10:25 - Then one of the experts in the Law stood up to test him and said, "Master, what must I do to be sure of eternal life?"
10:26 - "What does the Law say and what has your reading taught you?" said Jesus.
10:27 - "The Law says, 'You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind', and 'your neighbour as yourself'," he replied.
10:28 - "Quite right," said Jesus. "Do that and you will live."
10:29 - But the man, wanting to justify himself, continued, "But who is my 'neighbour'?"
10:30-36 - And Jesus gave him the following reply: "A man was once on his way down from Jerusalem to Jericho. He fell into the hands of bandits who stripped off his clothes, beat him up, and left him half dead. It so happened that a priest was going down that road, and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side. A Levite also came on the scene and when he saw him, he too passed by on the other side. But then a Samaritan traveller came along to the place where the man was lying, and at the sight of him he was touched with pity. He went across to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put him on his own mule, brought him to an inn and did what he could for him. Next day he took out two silver coins and gave them to the inn-keeper with the words, 'Look after him, will you? I will pay you back whatever more you spend, when I come through here on my return.' Which of these three seems to you to have been a neighbour to the bandits' victim?"
10:37 - "The man who gave him practical sympathy," he replied. "Then you go and give the same," returned Jesus.
Yet emphasises the need for quiet listening to his words
10:38-40 - As they continued their journey, Jesus came to a village and a woman called Martha welcomed him to her house. She had a sister by the name of Mary who settled down at the Lord's feet and was listening to what he said. But Martha was very worried about her elaborate preparations and she burst in, saying, "Lord, don't you mind that my sister has left me to do everything by myself? Tell her to get up and help me!"
10:41-42 - But the Lord answered her, "Martha, my dear, you are worried and bothered about providing so many things. Only a few things are really needed, perhaps only one. Mary has chosen the best part and you must not tear it away from her!"
Jesus gives a model prayer
11:1 - One day it happened that Jesus was praying in a certain place, and after he had finished, one of his disciples said, "Lord, teach us how to pray, as John used to teach his disciples."
11:2-4 - "When you pray," returned Jesus, "you should say, 'Father, may your name be honoured - may your kingdom come! Give us each day the bread we need, and forgive us our sins, for we forgive anyone who owes anything to us; and keep us clear of temptation.'"
The willingness of the Father to answer prayer
11:5-8 - Then he added, "If any of you has a friend, and goes to him in the middle of the night and says, 'Lend me three loaves, my dear fellow, for a friend of mine has just arrived after a journey and I have no food to put in front of him'; and then he answers from inside the house, 'Don't bother me with your troubles. The front door is locked and my children and I have gone to bed. I simply cannot get up now and give you anything!' Yet, I tell you, that even if he won't get up and give him what he wants simply because he is his friend, yet if he persists, he will rouse himself and give him everything he needs."
11:9-10 - And so I tell you, ask and it will be given you, search and you will find, knock and the door will be opened to you. The one who asks will always receive; the one who is searching will always find, and the door is opened to the man who knocks."
11:11-13 - "Some of you are fathers, and if your son asks you for some fish, would you give him a snake instead, or if he asks you for an egg, would you make him a present of a scorpion? So, if you, for all your evil, know how to give good things to your children, how much more likely is it that your Heavenly Father will give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!"
Jesus shows the absurdity of "his being in league with the devil"
11:14 - Another time, Jesus was expelling an evil spirit which was preventing a man from speaking, and as soon as the evil spirit left him, the dumb man found his speech, to the amazement of the crowds.
11:15 - But some of them said, "He expels these spirits because he is in league with Beelzebub, the chief of the evil spirits."
11:16-20 - Others among them, to test him, tried to get a sign from Heaven out of him. But he knew what they were thinking and told them, "Any kingdom divided against itself is doomed and a disunited household will collapse. And if Satan disagrees with Satan, how does his kingdom continue? - for I know you are saying that I expel evil spirits because I am in league with Beelzebub. But if I do expel devils because I am an ally of Beelzebub, who is your own sons' ally when they do the same thing? They can settle that question for you. But if it is by the finger of God that I am expelling evil spirits, 'then the kingdom of God has swept over you unawares'!
11:21-22 - "When a strong man armed to the teeth guards his own house, his property is in peace. But when a stronger man comes and conquers him, he removes all the arms on which he pinned his faith and divides the spoils among his friends.
11:23 - "Anyone who is not with me is against me, and the man who does not gather with me is really scattering.
The danger of a spiritual vacuum in a man's soul
11:24-26 - "When the evil spirit comes out of a man, it wanders through waterless places looking for rest, and when it fails to find any, it says, 'I will go back to my house from which I came.' When it arrives, it finds it cleaned and all in order. Then it goes and collects seven other spirits more evil than itself to keep it company, and they all go in and make themselves at home. The last state of that man is worse than the first."
Jesus brings sentimentality down to earth
11:27 - And while he was still saying this, a woman in the crowd called out and said, "Oh, what a blessing for a woman to have brought you into the world and nursed you!"
11:28 - But Jesus replied, "Yes, but a far greater blessing to hear the word of God and obey it."
His scathing judgment in his contemporary generation
11:29-32 - Then as the people crowded closely around him, he continued, "This is an evil generation! It looks for a sign and it will be given no sign except that of Jonah. Just as Jonah was a sign to the people of Nineveh, so will the Son of Man be a sign to this generation. When the judgment comes, the Queen of the South will rise up with the men of this generation and she will condemn them. For she came from the ends of the earth to listen to the wisdom of Solomon, and there is more than the wisdom of Solomon with you now! The men of Nineveh will stand up at the judgment with this generation and will condemn it. For they did repent when Jonah preached to them, and there is something more than Jonah's preaching with you now!"
The need for complete sincerity
11:33 - "No one takes a lamp and puts it in a cupboard or under a bucket, but on a lamp-stand, so that those who come in can see the light."
11:34-36 - "The lamp of your body is your eye. When your eye is sound, your whole body is full of light, but when your eye is evil, your whole body is full of darkness. So be very careful that your light never becomes darkness. For if your whole body is full of light, with no part of it in shadow, it will all be radiant - it will be like having a bright lamp to give you light."
11:37-44 - While he was talking, a Pharisee invited him to dinner. So he went into his house and sat down at table. The Pharisee noticed with some surprise that he did not wash before the meal. But the Lord said to him, "You Pharisees are fond of cleaning the outside of your cups and dishes, but inside yourselves you are full of greed and wickedness! Have you no sense? Don't you realise that the one who made the outside is the maker of the inside as well? If you would only make the inside clean by doing good to others, the outside things become clean as a matter of course! But alas for you Pharisees, for you pay out your tithe of mint and rue and every little herb, and lose sight of the justice and love of God. Yet these are the things you ought to have been concerned with - it need not mean leaving the lesser duties undone. Yes, alas for you Pharisees, who love the front seats in the synagogues and having men bow down to you in public! Alas for you, for you are like unmarked graves - men walk over your corruption without knowing it is there."
Jesus denounces the learned for obscuring the truth
11:45-51 - Then one of the experts in the Law said to him, "Master, when you say things like this, you are insulting us as well." And he returned, "Yes, and I do blame you experts in the Law! For you pile up back-breaking burdens for men to bear, but you yourselves will not raise a finger to lift them. Alas for you, for you build memorial tombs for the prophets - the very men whom your fathers murdered. You show clearly enough how you approve your father's actions. They did the actual killing and you put up a memorial to it. That is why the wisdom of God has said, 'I will send them prophets and apostles; some they will kill and some they will persecute!' So that the blood of all the prophets shed from the foundation of the earth, from Abel to Zachariah who died between the altar and the sanctuary, shall be charged to this generation!
11:52 - "Alas for you experts in the Law, for you have taken away the key of knowledge. You have never gone in yourselves and you have hindered everyone else who was at the door!"
11:53-54 - And when he left the house, the scribes and the Pharisees began to regard him with bitter animosity and tried to draw him out on a great many subjects, waiting to pounce on some incriminating remark
12:1 - Meanwhile, the crowds had gathered in thousands, so that they were actually treading on each other's toes, and Jesus, speaking primarily to his disciples, said, "Be on your guard against yeast - I mean the yeast of the Pharisees, which is sheer pretence."
12:2-3 - "For there is nothing covered up which is not going to be exposed, nor anything private which is not going to be made public. Whatever you may say in the dark will be heard in daylight, and whatever you whisper within four walls will be shouted from the house-tops."
Man need only fear God
12:4-9 - "I tell you, as friends of mine, that you need not be afraid of those who can kill the body, but afterwards cannot do anything more. I will show you the only one you need to fear - the one who, after he has killed, has the power to throw you into destruction! Yes, I tell you, it is right to stand in awe of him. The market-price of five sparrows is two farthings, isn't it? Yet not one of them is forgotten in God's sight. Why, the very hairs of your heads are all numbered! Don't be afraid, then; you are worth more than a great many sparrows! I tell you that every man who publicly acknowledges me, I, the Son of Man, will acknowledge in the presence of the angels of God. But the man who publicly disowns me will find himself disowned before the angels of God!
12:10-12 - "Anyone who speaks against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but there is no forgiveness for the man who speaks evil against the Holy Spirit. And when they bring you before the synagogues and magistrates and authorities, don't worry as to what defence you are going to put up or what word you are going to use. For the Holy Spirit will tell you at the time what is the right thing for you to say."
Jesus gives a warning about the love of material security
12:13 - Then someone out of the crowd said to him, "Master, tell my brother to share his legacy with me."
12:14 - But Jesus replied, "My dear man, who appointed me a judge or arbitrator in your affairs?"
12:15 - And then, turning to the disciples, he said to them, "Notice that, and be on your guard against covetousness in any shape or form. For a man's real life in no way depends upon the number of his possessions."
12:16-21 - Then he gave them a parable in these words, "Once upon a time a rich man's farmland produced heavy crops. So he said to himself, 'What shall I do, for I have no room to store this harvest of mine?' Then he said, 'I know what I'll do. I'll pull down my barns and build bigger ones where I can store all my grain and my goods and I can say to my soul, Soul, you have plenty of good things stored up there for years to come. Relax! Eat, drink and have a good time!' But God said to him, 'You fool, this very night you will be asked for your soul! Then, who is going to possess all that you have prepared?' That is what happens to the man who hoards things for himself and is not rich where God is concerned."
12:22-31 - And then he added to the disciples, "That is why I tell you, don't worry about life, wondering what you are going to eat. And stop bothering about what clothes you will need. Life is much more important than food, and the body more important than clothes. Think of the ravens. They neither sow nor reap, and they have neither store nor barn, but God feeds them. And how much more valuable do you think you are than birds? Can any of you make himself an inch taller however much he worries about it? And if you can't manage a little thing like this, why do you worry about anything else? Think of the wild flowers, and how they neither work nor weave. Yet I tell you that Solomon in all his glory was never arrayed like one of these. If God so clothes the grass, which flowers in the field today and is burnt in the stove tomorrow, is he not much more likely to clothe you, you little-faiths? You must not set your heart on what you eat or drink, nor must you live in a state of anxiety. The whole heathen world is busy about getting food and drink, and your Father knows well enough that you need such things. No, set your heart on his kingdom, and your food and drink will come as a matter of course."
12:32-34 - "Don't be afraid, you tiny flock! Your Father plans to give you the kingdom. Sell your possessions and give the money away. Get yourselves purses that never grow old, inexhaustible treasure in Heaven, where no thief can ever reach it, or moth ruin it. For wherever your treasure is, you may be certain that your heart will be there too!"
Jesus' disciples must be on the alert
12:35-40 - "You must be ready dressed and have your lamps alight, like men who wait to welcome their lord and master on his return from the wedding-feast, so that when he comes and knocks at the door, they may open it for him at once. Happy are the servants whom their lord finds on the alert when he arrives. I assure you that he will take off his outer clothes, make then sit down to dinner, and come and wait on them. And if he should come just after midnight or in the very early morning, and find them still on the alert, their happiness is assured. But be certain of this, that if the householder had known the time when the burglar would come, he would not have let his house be broken into. So you must be on the alert, for the Son of Man is coming at a time when you may not expect him."
12:41 - Then Peter said to him, "Lord, do you mean this parable for us or for everybody?"
12:42-48 - But the Lord continued, "Well, who will be the faithful, sensible steward whom his master will put in charge of his household to give them their supplies at the proper time? Happy is the servant if his master finds him so doing when he returns. I tell you he will promote him to look after all his property. But suppose the servant says to himself, 'My master takes his time about returning', and then begins to beat the men and women servants and to eat and drink and get drunk, that servant's lord and master will return suddenly and unexpectedly, and he will punish him severely and send him to share the penalty of the unfaithful. The slave who knows his master's plan but does not get ready or act upon it will be severely punished, but the servant who did not know the plan, though he has done wrong, will be let off lightly. Much will be expected from the one who has been given much, and the more a man is trusted, the more people will expect of him."
12:49-50 - "It is fire that I have come to bring upon the earth - how I could wish it were already ablaze! There is a baptism that I must undergo and how strained I am until it is over!
Jesus declares that his coming is bound to bring division
12:51-53 - "Do you think I have come to bring peace on the earth? No, I tell you, not peace, but division! For from now on, there will be five people divided against each other in one house, three against two, and two against three. It is going to be father against son, and son against father, and mother against daughter, and daughter against mother; mother-in-law against her daughter-in-law, and daughter-in-law against mother-in-law!"
Intelligence should not be used only about the weather but about the times in which men live
12:54-56 - Then he said to the crowds, "When you see a cloud rising in the west, you say at once that it is going to rain, and so it does. And when you feel the south wind blowing, you say that it is going to be hot, and so it is. You frauds! You know how to interpret the look of the earth and the sky. Why can't you interpret the meaning of the times in which you live?"
12:57-59 - "And why can't you decide for yourselves what is right? For instance, when you are going before the magistrate with your opponent, do your best to come to terms with him while you have the chance, or he may rush you off to the judge, and the judge hand you over to the police-officer, and the police-officer throw you into prison. I tell you you will never get out again until you have paid your last farthing."
Jesus is asked about the supposed significance of disasters
13:1-5 - It was just at this moment that some people came up to tell him the story of the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mixed with that of their own sacrifices. Jesus made this reply to them: "Are you thinking that these Galileans were worse sinners than any other men of Galilee because this happened to them? I assure you that is not so. You will all die just as miserable a death unless your hearts are changed! You remember those eighteen people who were killed at Siloam when the tower collapsed upon them? Are you imagining that they were worse offenders than any of the other people who lived in Jerusalem? I assure you they were not. You will all die as tragically unless your whole outlook is changed!"
And hints at God's patience with the Jewish nation
13:6-9 - Then he gave them this parable: "Once upon a time a man had a fig-tree growing in his garden, and when he came to look for the figs, he found none at all. So he said to his gardener, 'Look, I have come expecting fruit on this fig-tree for three years running and never found any. Better cut it down. Why should it use up valuable space?' And the gardener replied, 'Master, don't touch it this year till I have had a chance to dig round it and give it a bit of manure. Then, if it bears after that, it will be all right. But if it doesn't, then you can cut it down.'"
Jesus reduces the sabbatarians to silence
13:10-12 - It happened that he was teaching in one of the synagogues on the Sabbath day. In the congregation was a woman who for eighteen years had been ill from some psychological cause; she was bent double and was quite unable to straighten herself up. When Jesus noticed her, he called her and said, "You are set free from your illness!"
13:13-14 - And he put his hands upon her, and at once she stood upright and praised God. But the president of the synagogue, in his annoyance at Jesus' healing on the Sabbath, announced to the congregation, "There are six days in which men may work. Come on one of them and be healed, and not on the Sabbath day!"
13:15-16 - But the Lord answered him, saying, "You hypocrites, every single one of you unties his ox or his ass from the stall on the Sabbath day and leads him away to water! This woman, a daughter of Abraham, whom you all know Satan has kept bound for eighteen years - surely she should be released from such bonds on the Sabbath day!"
13:17 - These words reduced his opponents to shame, but the crowd was thrilled at all the glorious things he did.
13:18-19 - Then he went on, "What is the kingdom of God like? What illustration can I use to make it plain to you? It is like a grain of mustard-seed which a man took and dropped in his own garden. It grew and became a tree and the birds came and nested in its branches.
13:20-21 - Then again he said, "What can I say the kingdom of God is like? It is like the yeast which a woman took and covered up in three measures of flour until the whole lot had risen."
The kingdom is not entered by drifting but by decision
13:22-30 - So he went on his way through towns and villages, teaching as he went and making his way towards Jerusalem. Someone remarked, "Lord, are only a few men to be saved?" And Jesus told them, "You must do your utmost to get in through the narrow door, for many, I assure you, will try to do so and will not succeed, once the master of the house has got up and shut the door. Then you may find yourselves standing outside and knocking at the door crying, 'Lord, please open the door for us.' He will reply to you, 'I don't know who you are or where you come from.' 'But ...' you will protest, 'we have had meals with you, and you taught in our streets!' Yet he will say to you, 'I tell you I do not know where you have come from. Be off, you scoundrels!' At that time there will be tears and bitter regret - to see Abraham and Isaac and Jacob and all the prophets inside the kingdom of God, and you yourselves excluded, outside! Yes, and people will come from the east and the west, and from the north and the south, and take their seats in the kingdom of God. There are some at the back now who will be in the front then, and there are some in front now who will then be far behind."
The Pharisees warn Jesus of Herod; he replies
13:31 - Just then some Pharisees arrived to tell him, "You must get right away from here, for Herod intends to kill you."
13:32-33 - "Go and tell that fox," returned Jesus, "today and tomorrow I am expelling evil spirits and continuing my work of healing, and on the third day my work will be finished. But I must journey on today, tomorrow, and the next day, for it would never do for a prophet to meet his death outside Jerusalem!
13:34-35 - "O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you murder the prophets and stone the messengers that are sent to you! How often have I longed to gather your children round me like a bird gathering her brood together under her wings, but you would never have it. Now, all that is left is yourselves, and your house. For I tell you that you will never see me again till the day when you cry, 'Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!'"
Strict sabbatarianism is again rebuked
14:1-3 - One Sabbath day he went into the house of one of the leading Pharisees for a meal, and they were all watching him closely. Right in front of him was a man afflicted with dropsy. So Jesus spoke to the scribes and Pharisees and said, "Well, is it right to heal on the Sabbath day or not?"
14:4-5 - But there was no reply. So Jesus took the man and healed him and let him go. Then he said to them, "If an ass or a cow belonging to one of you fell into a well, wouldn't you rescue him without the slightest hesitation even though it were the Sabbath?"
14:6 - And this again left them quite unable to reply.
A lesson in humility
14:7 - Then he gave a little word of advice to the guests when he noticed how they were choosing the best seats.
14:8-11 - "When you are invited to a wedding reception, don't sit down in the best seat. It might happen that a more distinguished man than you has also been invited. Then your host might say, 'I am afraid you must give up your seat for this man.' And then, with considerable embarrassment, you will have to sit in the humblest place. No, when you are invited, go and take your seat in an inconspicuous place, so that when your host comes in he may say to you, 'Come on, my dear fellow, we have a much better seat than this for you.' That is the way to be important in the eyes of all your fellow-guests! For everyone who makes himself important will become insignificant, while the man who makes himself insignificant will find himself important."
14:12-14 - Then, addressing his host, Jesus said, "When you give a luncheon or a dinner party, don't invite your friends or your brothers or relations or wealthy neighbours, for the chances are they will invite you back, and you will be fully repaid. No, when you give a party, invite the poor, the lame, the crippled and the blind. That way lies real happiness for you. they have no means of repaying you, but you will be repaid when good men are rewarded - at the resurrection."
14:15 - Then, one of the guests, hearing these remarks of Jesus said, "What happiness for a man to eat a meal in the kingdom of God!"
Men who are "too busy" for the kingdom of God
14:16-24 - But Jesus said to him, "Once upon a time, a man planned a big dinner party and invited a great many people. At dinner-time, he sent his servant out to tell those who were invited, 'Please come, everything is ready now.' But they all, as one man, began to make their excuses. The first one said to him, 'I have bought some land. I must go and look at it. Please excuse me.' Another one said, 'I have bought five yoke of oxen and am on my way to try them out. Please convey my apologies.' Another one said, 'I have just got married and I am sure you will understand I cannot come.' So the servant returned and reported all this to his master. The master of the house was extremely annoyed and said to his servant, 'Hurry out now into the streets and alleys of the town, and bring here the poor and crippled and blind and lame.' Then the servant said, 'I have done what you told me, sir, and there are still empty places.' Then the master replied, 'Now go out to the roads and hedgerows and make them come inside, so that my house may be full. For I tell you that not one of the men I invited shall have a taste of my dinner.'"
14:25-27 - Now as Jesus proceeded on his journey, great crowds accompanied him, and he turned and spoke to them, "If anyone comes to me without 'hating' his father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, and even his own life, he cannot be a disciple of mine. The man who will not take up his cross and follow in my footsteps cannot be my disciple.
14:28-30 - "If any of you wanted to build a tower, wouldn't he first sit down and work out the cost of it, to see if he can afford to finish it? Otherwise, when he has laid the foundation and found himself unable to complete the building, everyone who sees it will begin to jeer at him, saying, 'This is the man who started to build a tower but couldn't finish it!'
14:31-33 - "Or, suppose there is a king who is going to war with another king, doesn't he sit down first and consider whether he can engage the twenty thousand of the other king with his own ten thousand? And if he decides he can't, then, while the other king is still a long way off, he sends messengers to him to ask for conditions of peace. So it is with you; only the man who says goodbye to all his possessions can be my disciple.
14:34-35 - "Salt is a very good thing, but if salt loses its flavour, what can you use to restore it? It is no good for the ground and no good as manure. People just throw it away. Every man who has ears should use them!"
Jesus speaks of the love of God for "the lost"
15:1-2 - Now all the tax-collectors and "outsiders" were crowding around to hear what he had to say. The Pharisees and the scribes complained of this, remarking, "This man accepts sinners and even eats his meals with them."
15:3-7 - So Jesus spoke to them, using this parable: "Wouldn't any man among you who owned a hundred sheep, and lost one of them, leave the ninety-nine to themselves in the open, and go after the one which is lost until he finds it? And when he has found it, he will put it on his shoulders with great joy, and as soon as he gets home, he will call his friends and neighbours together. 'Come and celebrate with me,' he will say, 'for I have found that sheep of mine which was lost.' I tell you that it is the same in Heaven - there is more joy over one sinner whose heart is changed than over ninety-nine righteous people who have no need for repentance.
15:8-10 - "Or if there is a woman who has ten silver coins, if she should lose one, won't she take a lamp and sweep and search the house from top to bottom until she finds it? And when she has found it, she calls her friends and neighbours together. 'Come and celebrate with me', she says, 'for I have found that coin I lost.' I tell you, it is the same in Heaven - there is rejoicing among the angels of God over one sinner whose heart is changed."
15:11-19 - Then he continued, "Once there was a man who had two sons. The younger one said to his father, 'Father, give me my share of the property that will come to me.' So he divided up his property between the two of them. Before very long, the younger son collected all his belongings and went off to a foreign land, where he squandered his wealth in the wildest extravagance. And when he had run through all his money, a terrible famine arose in that country, and he began to feel the pinch. Then he went and hired himself out to one of the citizens of that country who sent him out into the fields to feed the pigs. He got to the point of longing to stuff himself with the food the pigs were eating and not a soul gave him anything. Then he came to his senses and cried aloud, 'Why, dozens of my father's hired men have got more food than they can eat and here I am dying of hunger! I will get up and go back to my father, and I will say to him, "Father, I have done wrong in the sight of Heaven and in your eyes. I don't deserve to be called your son any more. Please take me on as one of your hired men."'
15:20-24 - So he got up and went to his father. But while he was still some distance off, his father saw him and his heart went out to him, and he ran and fell on his neck and kissed him. But his son said, 'Father, I have done wrong in the sight of Heaven and in your eyes. I don't deserve to be called your son any more ....' 'Hurry!' called out his father to the servants, 'fetch the best clothes and put them on him! Put a ring on his finger and shoes on his feet, and get that calf we've fattened and kill it, and we will have a feast and a celebration! For this is my son - I thought he was dead, and he's alive again. I thought I had lost him, and he's found!' And they began to get the festivities going.
15:25-32 - "But his elder son was out in the fields, and as he came near the house, he heard music and dancing. So he called one of the servants across to him and enquired what was the meaning of it all. 'Your brother has arrived, and your father has killed the calf we fattened because he has got him home again safe and sound,' was the reply. But he was furious and refused to go inside the house. So his father came outside and called him. Then he burst out, 'Look, how many years have I slaved for you and never disobeyed a single order of yours, and yet you have never given me so much as a young goat, so that I could give my friends a dinner? But when that son of yours arrives, who has spent all your money on prostitutes, for him you kill the calf we've fattened!' But the father replied, 'My dear son, you have been with me all the time and everything I have is yours. But we had to celebrate and show our joy. For this is your brother; I thought he was dead - and he's alive. I thought he was lost - and he is found!'"
A clever rogue, and the right use of money
16:1-9 - Then there is this story he told his disciples: "Once there was a rich man whose agent was reported to him to be mismanaging his property. So he summoned him and said, 'What's this I hear about you? Give me an account of your stewardship - you're not fit to manage my household any longer.' At this the agent said to himself, 'What am I going to do now that my employer is taking away the stewardship from me? I am not strong enough to dig and I can't sink to begging. Ah, I know what I'll do so that when I lose my position people will welcome me into their homes!' So he sent for each one of his master's debtors. 'How much do you owe my master?' he said to the first. 'A hundred barrels of oil,' he replied. 'Here,' replied the agent, 'take your bill, sit down, hurry up and write in fifty.' Then he said to another, 'And what's the size of your debt?' 'A thousand bushels of wheat,' he replied. 'Take your bill,' said the agent, 'and write in eight hundred.' Now the master praised this rascally steward because he had been so careful for his own future. For the children of this world are considerably more shrewd in dealing with their contemporaries than the children of light. Now my advice to you is to use 'money', tainted as it is, to make yourselves friends, so that when it comes to an end, they may welcome you into eternal habitations.
16:10-12 - "The man who is faithful in the little things will be faithful in the big things, and the man who cheats in the little things will cheat in the big things too. So that if you are not fit to be trusted to deal with the wicked wealth of this world, who will trust you with the true riches? And if you are not trustworthy with someone else's property, who will give you property of your own?"
16:13 - "No servant can serve two masters. He is bound to hate one and love the other, or give his loyalty to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and the power of money at the same time."
16:14-15 - Now the Pharisees, who were very fond of money, heard all this with a sneer. But he said to them, "You are the people who advertise your goodness before men, but God knows your hearts. Remember, there are things men consider perfectly splendid which are detestable in the sight of God!"
Jesus states that the kingdom of God has superseded "the Law and the Prophets"
16:16 - "The Law and the Prophets were in force until John's day. From then on the good news of the kingdom of God has been proclaimed and men are forcing their way into it.
16:17 - "Yet it would be easier for heaven and earth to disappear than for a single point of the Law to become a dead letter."
16:18 - "Any man who divorces his wife and marries another woman commits adultery. And so does any man who marries the woman who was divorced from her husband."
Jesus shows the fearful consequence of social injustice
16:19-31 - "There was once a rich man who used to dress in purple and fine linen and lead a life of daily luxury. And there was a poor man called Lazarus who was put down at his gate. He was covered with sores. He used to long to be fed with the scraps from the rich man's table. Yes, and the dogs used to come and lick his sores. Well, it happened that the poor man died, and was carried by the angels into Abraham's bosom. The rich man also died and was buried. And from among the dead he looked up and saw Abraham a long way away, and Lazarus in his arms. 'Father Abraham!' he cried out, 'please pity me. Send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, for I am in agony in these flames.' But Abraham replied, 'Remember, my son, that you used to have the good things in your lifetime, while Lazarus suffered the bad. Now he is being comforted here, while you are in agony. And besides this, a great chasm has been set between you and us, so that those who want to go to you from this side cannot do so, and people cannot come to us from your side.' At this he said, 'Then I beg you, father, to send him to my father's house for I have five brothers. He could warn them about all this and prevent their coming to this place of torture.' But Abraham said, 'They have Moses and the Prophets: they can listen to them.' 'Ah no, father Abraham,' he said, 'if only someone were to go to them from the dead, they would change completely.' But Abraham told him, 'If they will not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they would not be convinced even if somebody were to rise from the dead.'"
Jesus warns his disciples about spoiling the spirit of the new kingdom
17:1-3a - Then Jesus said to his disciples, "It is inevitable that there should be pitfalls, but alas for the man who is responsible for them! It would be better for that man to have a mill-stone hung round his neck and be thrown into the sea, than that he should trip up one of these little ones. So be careful how you live.
17:3b-4 - "If your brother offends you, take him to task about it, and if he is sorry, forgive him. Yes, if he wrongs you seven times in one day and turns to you and says, 'I am sorry' seven times, you must forgive him."
17:5 - And the apostles said to the Lord, "Give us more faith."
17:6 - And he replied, "If your faith were as big as a grain of mustard seed, you could say to this fig-tree, 'Pull yourself up by the roots and plant yourself in the sea', and it would do what you said!"
Work in the kingdom must be taken as a matter of course
17:7-10 - "If any of you has a servant ploughing or looking after the sheep, are you likely to say to him when he comes in from the fields, 'Come straight in and sit down to your meal'? Aren't you more likely to say, 'Get my supper ready: change your coat, and wait until I eat and drink: and then, when I've finished, you can have your meal'? Do you feel particularly grateful to your servant for doing what you tell him? I don't think so. It is the same with yourselves - when you have done everything that you are told to do, you can say, 'We are not much good as servants, for we have only done what we ought to do.'"
Jesus heals ten men of leprosy: only one shows his gratitude
17:11-13 - In the course of his journey to Jerusalem, Jesus crossed the boundary between Samaria and Galilee, and as he was approaching a village, ten lepers met him. They kept their distance but shouted out, "Jesus, Master, have pity on us!"
17:14-18 - When Jesus saw them, he said, "Go and show yourselves to the priests." And it happened that as they went on their way they were cured. One of their number, when he saw that he was cured, turned round and praised God at the top of his voice, and then fell on his face before Jesus and thanked him. This man was a Samaritan. And at this Jesus remarked, "Weren't there ten men healed? Where are the other nine? Is nobody going to turn and praise God for what he has done, except this stranger?"
17:19 - And he said to the man, "Stand up now, and go on your way. It is your faith that has made you well."
Jesus tells the Pharisees that the kingdom is here and now
17:20-21 - Later, he was asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God was coming, and he gave them this reply: "The kingdom of God never comes by watching for it. Men cannot say, 'Look, here it is', or 'there it is', for the kingdom of God is inside you."
Jesus tell his disciples about the future
17:22-36 - Then he said to the disciples, "The time will come when you will long to see again a single day of the Son of Man, but you will not see it. People will say to you, 'Look, there he is', or 'Look, here he is.' Stay where you are and don't go off looking for him! For the day of the Son of Man will be like lightning flashing from one end of the sky to the other. But before that happens, he must go through much suffering and be utterly rejected by this generation. In the time of the coming of the Son of Man, life will be as it was in the days of Noah. People ate and drank, married and were given in marriage, right up to the day when Noah entered the ark - and then came the flood and destroyed them all. It will be just the same as it was in the days of Lot. People ate and drank, bought and sold, planted and built, but on the day that Lot left Sodom, it rained fire and brimstone from heaven, and destroyed them all. That is how it will be on the day when the Son of Man is revealed. When that day comes, the man who is on the roof of his house, with his goods inside it, must not come down to get them. And the man out in the fields must not turn back for anything. Remember what happened to Lot's wife. Whoever tries to preserve his life will lose it, and the man who is prepared to lose his life will preserve it. I tell you, that night there will be two men in one bed, one man will be taken and the other will be left. Two women will be turning the grinding-mill together; one will be taken and the other left."
17:37 - "But where, Lord?" they asked him. "Wherever there is a dead body, there the vultures will flock," he replied.
Jesus urges his disciples to persist in prayer
18:1 - Then he gave them an illustration to show that they must always pray and never lose heart.
18:2-5 - "Once upon a time," he said, "there was a magistrate in a town who had neither fear of God nor respect for his fellow-men. There was a widow in the town who kept coming to him, saying, 'Please protect me from the man who is trying to ruin me.' And for a long time he refused. But later he said to himself, 'Although I don't fear God and have no respect for men, yet this woman is such a nuisance that I shall give judgment in her favour, or else her continual visits will be the death of me!'"
18:6-8 - Then the Lord said, "Notice how this dishonest magistrate behaved. Do you suppose God, patient as he is, will not see justice done for his chosen, who appeal to him day and night? I assure you he will not delay in seeing justice done. Yet, when the Son of Man comes, will he find men on earth who believe in him?"
Jesus tells a story against the self-righteousness
18:9-14 - Then he gave this illustration to certain people who were confident of their own goodness and looked down on others: "Two men went up to the Temple to pray, one was a Pharisee, the other was a tax-collector. The Pharisee stood and prayed like this with himself, 'O God, I do thank you that I am not like the rest of mankind, greedy, dishonest, impure, or even like that tax-collector over there. I fast twice every week; I give away a tenth-part of all my income.' But the tax-collector stood in a distant corner, scarcely daring to look up to Heaven, and with a gesture of despair, said, 'God, have mercy on a sinner like me.' I assure you that he was the man who went home justified in God's sight, rather than the other one. For everyone who sets himself up as somebody will become a nobody, and the man who makes himself nobody will become somebody."
Jesus welcomes babies
18:15-17 - Then people began to bring babies to him so that he could put his hands on them. But when the disciples noticed it, they frowned on them. But Jesus called them to him, and said, "You must let little children come to me, and you must never prevent their coming. The kingdom of God belongs to little children like these. I tell you, the man who will not accept the kingdom of God like a little child will never get into it at all."
Jesus and riches
18:18 - Then one of the Jewish rulers put this question to him, "Master, I know that you are good; tell me, please, what must I do to be sure of eternal life?"
18:19-20 - "I wonder why you call me good?" returned Jesus. "No one is good - only the one God. You know the commandments - 'Do not commit adultery,' 'Do not murder,' 'Do not steal,' 'Do not bear false witness,' 'Honour your father and your mother'"
18:21 - "All these," he replied, "I have carefully kept since I was quite young."
18:22 - And when Jesus heard that, he said to him, "There is still one thing you have missed. Sell everything you possess and give the money away to the poor, and you will have riches in Heaven. Then come and follow me."
18:23 - But when he heard this, he was greatly distressed for he was very rich.
18:24-25 - And when Jesus saw how his face fell, he remarked, "How difficult it is for those who have great possessions to enter the kingdom of God! A camel could squeeze through the eye of a needle more easily than a rich man could get into the kingdom of God."
18:26 - Those who heard Jesus say this, exclaimed, "Then who can possibly be saved?"
18:27 - Jesus replied, "What men find impossible is perfectly possible with God."
18:28 - "Well," rejoined Peter, "we have left all that we ever had and followed you."
18:29-30 - And Jesus told them, "Believe me, nobody has left his home or wife, or brothers or parents or children for the sake of the kingdom of God, without receiving very much more in this present life - and eternal life in the world to come."
Jesus foretells his death and resurrection
18:31-33 - Then Jesus took the twelve on one side and spoke to them, "Listen to me. We are now going up to Jerusalem and everything that has been written by the prophets about the Son of Man will come true. For he will be handed over to the heathen, and he is going to be jeered at and insulted and spat upon, and then they will flog and kill him. But he will rise again on the third day."
18:34 - But they did not understand any of this, His words were quite obscure to them and they had no idea of what he meant.
On the way to Jericho he heals a blind beggar
18:35-38 - Then, as he was approaching Jericho, it happened that there was a blind man sitting by the roadside, begging. He heard the crowd passing and enquired what it was all about. And they told him, "Jesus the man from Nazareth is going past you." So he shouted out, "Jesus, Son of David, have pity on me!"
18:39 - Those who were in front tried to hush his cries. But that made him call out all the more, "Son of David, have pity on me!"
18:40-41 - So Jesus stood quite still and ordered the man to be brought to him. And when he was quite close, he said to him, "What do you want me to do for you?" "Lord, make me see again," he cried.
18:42-43 - "You can see again! Your faith has cured you," returned Jesus. And his sight was restored at once, and he followed Jesus, praising God. All the people who saw it thanked God too.
The chief tax-collector is converted to faith in Jesus
19:1-5 - Then he went into Jericho and was making his way through it. And here we find a wealthy man called Zacchaeus, a chief collector of taxes, wanting to see what sort of person Jesus was. But the crowd prevented him from doing so, for he was very short. So he ran ahead and climbed up into a sycamore tree to get a view of Jesus as he was heading that way. When Jesus reached the spot, he looked up and saw the man and said, "Zacchaeus, hurry up and come down. I must be your guest today."
19:6-7 - So Zacchaeus hurriedly climbed down and gladly welcomed him. But the bystanders muttered their disapproval, saying, "Now he has gone to stay with a real sinner."
19:8 - But Zacchaeus himself stopped and said to the Lord, "Look, sir, I will give half my property to the poor. And if I have swindled anybody out of anything I will pay him back four times as much,"
19:9 - Jesus said to him, "Salvation has come to this house today! Zacchaeus is a descendant of Abraham, and it was the lost the Son of Man came to seek - and to save."
Life requires courage, and is hard on those who dare not use their gifts
19:11 - Then as the crowd still listened attentively, Jesus went on to give them this parable, For the fact that he was nearing Jerusalem made them imagine that the kingdom of God was on the point of appearing.
19:12-24 - "Once upon a time a man of good family went abroad to accept a kingdom and then return. He summoned ten of his servants and gave them each ten pounds, with the words, 'Use this money to trade with until I come back.' But the citizens detested him and they sent a delegation after him, to say, 'We will not have this man to be our king.' Then later, when he had received his kingdom, he returned and gave orders for the servants to whom he had given the money to be called to him, so that he could find out what profit they had made. The first came into his presence, and said, 'Sire, your ten pounds have made a hundred pounds more.' 'Splendid, my good fellow,' he said, 'since you have proved trustworthy over this small amount, I am going to put you in charge of ten towns.' The second came in and said, 'Sire, your ten pounds have made fifty pounds.' and he said to him, 'Good, you're appointed governor of five towns.' When the last came, he said, 'Sire, here are your ten pounds, which I have been keeping wrapped up in a handkerchief. I have been scared - I know you're a hard man, getting something for nothing and reaping where you never sowed.' To which he replied, 'You scoundrel, your own words condemn you! You knew perfectly well, did you, that I am a hard man who gets something for nothing and reaps where he never sowed? Then why didn't you put my money into the bank, and then when I returned I could have had it back with interest?' Then he said to those who were standing by, 'Take away his ten pounds and give it to the fellow who has a hundred.'
19:25-27 - "'But, sire, he has a hundred pounds already,' they said to him. 'Yes,' he replied, 'and I tell you that the man who has something will get more given to him. But as for the man who has nothing, even his "nothing" will be taken away. And as for these enemies of mine who objected to my being their king, bring them here and execute them in my presence.'"
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