Speaking of the fundamental teaching of the Master, and also in connection with this same parable, another has said: " It thus appears from this story, as elsewhere in the teaching of Jesus, that he did not call God our father because He created us, or because He rules over us, or because He made a covenant with Abraham, but simply and only because He loves us. This parable individualises the divine love, as did also the missionary activity of Jesus. The gospels know nothing of a national fatherhood, of a God whose love is confined to a particular people. It is the individual man who has a heavenly Father, and this individualised fatherhood is the only one of which Jesus speaks. As he had realised his own moral and spiritual life in the consciousness that God was his father, so he sought to give life to the world by a living revelation of the truth that God loves each separate soul. This is a prime factor in the religion and ethics of Jesus. It is seldom or vaguely apprehended in the Old Testament teaching; but in the teaching of Jesus it is central and normative." Again in the two allied parables of Jesus - the Parable of the Lost Sheep, and the Parable of the Lost Coin - it is his purpose to teach the great love of the Father for all, including those lost in their trespasses and sins, and His rejoicing in their return.
This leads to Jesus' conception and teaching of sin and repentance. Although God is the Father, He demands filial obedience in the hearts and the minds of His children. Men by following the devices and desires of their own hearts, are not true to their real nature, their Divine pattern. By following their selfish desires they have brought sin, and thereby suffering, on themselves and others. The unclean, the selfish desires of mind and heart, keep them from their higher moral and spiritual ideal - although not necessarily giving themselves to gross sin. Therefore, they must become sons of God by repenting - by turning from the evil inclinations of their hearts and seeking to follow the higher inclinations of the heart as becomes children of God and those who are dwellers in the Heavenly Kingdom. Therefore, his opening utterance: " The time is fulfilled, and the Kingdom of God is at hand; repent ye, and believe the gospel."
Love of God with the whole heart, and love of the neighbour, leading to the higher peace and fulfilment, must take the place of these more selfish desires that lead to antagonisms and dissatisfactions both within and without. All men are to pray: Forgive us our sins. All men are to repent of their sins which are the results of following their own selfish desires, - those of the body, or their own selfish desires to the detriment of the welfare of the neighbour.
All men are to seek the Divine rule, the rule of God in the heart, and thereby have the guidance of the Holy Spirit, which is the Divine spirit of wisdom that tabernacles with man when through desire and through will he makes the conditions whereby it can make its abode with him. It is a manifestation of the force that is above man - it is the eternal heritage of the soul. " Now the Lord is the Spirit and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty." And therein lies salvation. It follows the seeking and the rinding of the Kingdom of God and His righteousness that Jesus revealed to a waiting world.
And so it was the spirit of religion that Jesus came to reveal - the real Fatherhood of God and the Divine Sonship of man. A better righteousness than that of the scribes and the Pharisees - not a slavish adherence to the Law, with its supposed profits and rewards. Get the motive of life right. Get the heart right and these things become of secondary importance. As his supreme revelation was the personal fatherhood of God, from which follows necessarily the Divine sonship of man, so there was a corollary to it, a portion of it almost as essential as the main truth itself - namely, that all men are brothers. Not merely those of one little group, or tribe or nation; not merely those of any one little set or religion; not merely those of this or that little compartment that we build and arbitrarily separate ourselves into - but all men the world over. If this is not true then Jesus' supreme revelation is false.
In connection with this great truth he brought a new standard by virtue of the logic of his revelation. " Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy. But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; that ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven." Struggling for recognition all through the Old Testament scriptures, and breaking through partially at least in places, was this conception which is at the very basis of all man's relationship with man. And finally through this supreme Master of life it did break through, with a wonderful newborn consciousness.
The old dispensation, with its legal formalism, was an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth. The new dispensation was - " But I say unto you, Love your enemies." Enmity begets enmity. It is as senseless as it is godless. It runs through all his teachings and through every act of his life. If fundamentally you do not have the love of your fellow-man in your hearts, you do not have the love of God in your hearts and you cannot have. And that this fundamental revelation be not misunderstood, near the close of his life he said: "A new commandment I give unto you, that ye love one another." No man could be, can be his disciple, his follower, and fail in the realisation of this fundamental teaching. "By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye love one another." And going back again to his ministry we find that it breathes through every teaching that he gave. It breathes through that short memorable prayer which we call the Lord's Prayer. It permeates the Sermon on the Mount. It is the very essence of his summing up of this discourse. We call it the Golden Rule. "Whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them." Not that it was original with Jesus; other teachers sent of God had given it before to other peoples - God's other children; but he gave it a new emphasis, a new setting. He made it fundamental.
So a man who is gripped at all vitally by Jesus' teaching of the personal fatherhood of God, and the personal brotherhood of man, simply can't help but make this the basic rule of his life - and moreover find joy in so making it. A man who really comprehends this fundamental teaching can't be crafty, sneaking, dishonest, or dishonourable, in his business, or in any phase of his personal life. He never hogs the penny - in other words, he never seeks to gain his own advantage to the disadvantage of another. He may be longheaded; he may be able to size up and seize conditions; but he seeks no advantage for himself to the detriment of his fellow, to the detriment of his community, or to the detriment of his extended community, the nation or the world. He is thoughtful, considerate, open, frank; and, moreover, he finds great joy in being so.