Parable Surprises – Owner of a House

Another short parable, but I’m gonna warn you that this one also is a bit of a challenge!

Matthew 13:52

52 And he said to them, “Therefore every scribe who has been trained for the kingdom of heaven is like a master of a house, who brings out of his treasure what is new and what is old.”

Questions to Consider

Who were the audience?

The disciples were the audience. Just previous to this parable the Lord asked His men a pointed question, which brought forth this instruction.

Matthew 13:51
“Have you understood all these things?” They said to him, “Yes.”

The disciples answer prompted this instruction. The Lord then equated them with the title of “scribe”. This is no small compliment and responsibility. But I am getting ahead of myself.

A few posts back I warned my gentle reader that there would be a test, a question regarding the parables that had been explained to the disciples. This test, if you will accept it, can be for you too. These men were learning of the Master. We are learning of the Master. Consider the question for your own possession.

Have you understood all these things?

When did the Lord give this parable?

See Parable Surprises – The Sower of the Seed

Where did the Lord teach the parable?

As noted in earlier posts, this teaching was provided for the disciples “in the house”, after the day of telling parables to crowds. Those that were attentive, that were teachable, they were allowed to hear explanations, get understanding, and with it, receive responsibility.

Why did the Lord give this message?

In short, He gave this parable, not of the kingdom, but of the disciples, (of all disciples?), that are to be considered as scribes trained in the Kingdom of God. He laid a story down (a parable) beside the disciples experience, in describing them as scribes. But – what did that mean for the disciples, to be classified as a scribe?

To be a scribe was to be skilled in the Word of God.

Ezra 7:6

Ezra …. was a scribe skilled in the Law of Moses

Combined with a priestly calling

Nehemiah 8:9

Ezra the priest and scribe.

And a duty to instruct the people, priests and Levites

 Nehemiah 8:13

all the people, with the priests and the Levites, came together to Ezra the scribe in order to study the words of the Law.

To be a scribe was a high calling, and when the Lord mentioned that every scribe, trained for the Kingdom of God (which training these disciples just received), they are to be like a master of a house. But again I am getting ahead of myself. Lets leave the message for the original audience for the next section, and suffice it to say the Lord gave this parable to inform His men of their (and our) responsibility as scribes for the Kingdom of God.

What was the message for the original audience?

The message for the disciples is the responsibility of one who had been trained (lit. in the Greek “who has become a disciple”) of the Kingdom of God, is like one who is in charge of a house, a manger of a house, that is responsible to provide foods, or resources as required for those residents within the house.

But I think there is a bit more than simple distribution to those in the household in a strictly efficient manner being spoken of here. I’m referring to the Lord’s choice of wording when He speaks of the master who “brings out” of his treasure. The manner of providing of his treasure is my point.

This term in Greek is ekballō (G1544) and can be translated (with a notion of violence), as in being cast out, or to draw out with force, (and without the notion of violence) to lead one forth.

I read one study that described the action being described as “flinging out”. To distribute without reservation, to have treasure that is not to be hoarded, hid heaped in the corner, but cast out from the masters treasures liberally and unreserved.

But what are the disciples to “fling out”? Why did the Lord bring up the concept of “new and old”? What is going on here? Is He hinting of two covenants? Of two messages? Of two types of treasure?

It seems obvious (to me) that the reference to old and new would imply to the disciples that what they are hearing from the Lord’s mouth was qualitatively different than the treasure previous scribes were provided to distribute. The old treasure contained truth, yet the new treasure shines light on the old that none could see before. (I’m thinking 1 Peter 1:12)

Remember that the disciples had some training, as children at least, of the Torah and of Sabbath and of the sacrifices. Every Jewish boy learned learned these truths. This “old” treasure would be the basis for the new, yet the new was so much more than expected. And the challenge for the disciples would be to interpret the old to provide teaching in the new. The old applied in a “new” way.

And on top of this task of interpreting of the old, the Lord Jesus was supplying new revelation that hadn’t been hinted at in the Old Testament. This new revelation was to become a portion of their treasure they could and would “fling out”.

What is the message for us today?

With the apostles gone, and with their writings left behind for our instruction, the responsibility of being a “scribe” is just as applicable to us nowadays.

Of course the disciples/apostles gave us examples of the way to look at the old.

One example would be the Passover.

In the old economy, a little lamb was sacrificed to cover the sins of the people (temporarily). The Apostles saw this Old Testament sacrifice fulfilled in the Person of the Lord Jesus, and His death on the cross. The covering of sin became forgiveness of sin, even redemption, and the temporary status was turned to eternality, the granting of everlasting life through His resurrection.

This is, from our perspective, so obvious, since we have their writings and it is so clearly taught in the New Testament. My challenge to present day disciples, who are called out as scribes even today is to search the Old Testament with the attitude of the disciples and pull out truths that reflect the Lord Jesus, and the revelation of the New Testament given by the Apostles. This ain’t no small potatoes as a task, but the rewards are genuine, most enjoyable and a proper response to the teaching of the Lord in this parable.

By the way, how is your treasure increasing?

Study the OT & NT, find the connections and differences, store your findings and then fling ’em around. It is surely a challenge but once your storehouse of knowledge grows, the flingin becomes second nature, since it is a treasure that you want to share.



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Parable Surprises – Fishing Net

Wow – this is a big One. I spent some time yesterday just dwelling on this parable. I hope I can transfer some of the message!

Matthew 13:47-50

47 “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a net that was thrown into the sea and gathered fish of every kind. 48 When it was full, men drew it ashore and sat down and sorted the good into containers but threw away the bad. 49 So it will be at the end of the age. The angels will come out and separate the evil from the righteous 50 and throw them into the fiery furnace. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

Questions to Consider

Who were the audience?

The audience Jesus is teaching are the disciples, and not the crowds. See Parable Surprises – Growing Seed. Now we have a group of folk hearing a message that are allowed to “get it”. Did they get it? I think the best way to describe their reception of the truth is that they were introduced to it!

If you consider yourself to be one who “get’s it”, that is great. But remember, there will be a test coming up. (See Matthew 13:51)

When did the Lord give this parable?

See Parable Surprises – The Sower of the Seed

Where did the Lord teach the parable?

He left the crowd and entered “the” house. This is no geographical adjustment, other than being within four walls without the crowds being present. See Parable Surprises – The Sower of the Seed, for the geographical location if interested

Why did the Lord give this message?

The Lord is teaching about the Kingdom of God. It is His message.

He is reiterating the coming judgement, the safety of those which are righteous (v 49) and the judgement of those who cause sin, the law breakers and all those that are bad (vs 48). The angels will throw away the bad (fish).

“Bad” is an interesting word, where a number of times the Greek word is translated as corrupt, rotten, putrefied, of poor quality, unfit for use and worthless. “Bad” seems to have a scent of “no value” as opposed to “of evil character”.

(Should I have used the term scent when relating to rotten fish? You get me point!)

Whether this discussion on “bad” is of any consequence in this parable is left for the reader to consider.

No matter – Jesus is speaking of the end of the age and the coming judgement. Two times He brings this subject up, with two parables sandwiched in between, speaking of the value of a treasure in a field or a great pearl. The concept of value seems to be a theme through this passage, don’t ya know?

What was the message for the original audience?

The last two parables (The Treasure and the Pearl) were somewhat similar in theme, that is the purchasing of something valuable. This parable has a twin to it also, in the first parable explained, (Parable Surprises – Tares among the Wheat) which hails back to Matthew 13:24-30.

As a quick refresher, it had to do with an enemy sowing weeds in the wheat field, and the owners method of harvesting the good product.

This parable, as in the Tares parable, speaks of the end of the age, separation of the evil from the righteous, servants/angels doing the harvesting, of burning fire, and and finally, of weeping and gnashing of teeth.

A bunch of parallels, but for the sake of our edification today, I would like to consider some of the differences between the two parables.

But first, I got something gnawing at my thinking.

What is the “end of the age”?

Is the Lord speaking of next month? Next year? Could it be in 2195?

When is this “end of the age”?

Could it be, might it be, a time that the disciples would experience?

This is a very difficult question since I have spent most of my Christian life considering the end of the age as referring to the culmination of the church age. You know, when the rapture hits and we abandon this old world to watch it go up in flames.

The general thought is that we get taken out of the world for our judgement and the world waits a period of time until their judgement comes. But even within this parable, the Lord seems to be directing His disciples to a time when the “bad” will be judged at or before the righteous are rewarded.

Consider

Matthew 13:41-43

The Son of Man will send his angels, and they will gather out of his kingdom all causes of sin and all law-breakers, and throw them into the fiery furnace. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father. He who has ears, let him hear.

Notice the “then” there. Golly I never noticed it before. The righteous continue on after the “bad” are destroyed.

The next parable implys the same order of judgement

Matthew 13:49-50

So it will be at the end of the age. The angels will come out and separate the evil from the righteous and throw them into the fiery furnace. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

It seems the pile of fish have the “bad” removed from the “righteous” and are destroyed. No mention of the circumstances of the righteous in between. It just doesn’t seem to be important – The fish will simply wait for the evil fish to be taken care of.

But I digress on the relative timing of the judgement between the “bad” and the “righteous”. I started down this rabbit path questioning “the end of the age” concept. So lets get back to the original question.

A couple years ago, I ventured into the topic of eternal and everlasting within the Word and coming up with some interesting finds ( See A Study of Eternal / Everlasting) Two of the Greek words studied in that post is aion (G165), and aionios (G166). Aion (G165) is the word we find in this parable, that is translated as “age”.

If Jesus, before the resurrection speaks of “this age” could He be referring to the Jewish Theocratic kingdom, established at Sinai, and existing (at least in part) through His life, and beyond. Could the Roman annihilation of the nation of Israel in AD 70 be the end of the age Jesus refers to in His message to the disciples? It would allow the disciples to not only understand the message somewhat, but also some may experience the end of the age in AD 70. (At least a few of the disciples made it to AD 70!)

This begs the question as to what the next age would describe, and if “this age” is properly defined as the Jewish age, then the church age may be considered the age to come. Does that ruffle your feathers? It sure did mine when I first studied it out and came to this tentative conclusion.

So the message for the disciples in this parable is that the Jewish age is coming to a close. Later the Lord mentions “another age”, and extending for many many days (Any one want to venture how many days?)

Well, if you are still with me after this rabbit trail, thank you. You are a most tenacious reader!

What was the message for the original audience? Judgement is coming and the bad/worthless will be destroyed. The righteous will be saved. Destruction of the current (Jewish) age is sure to come. Don’t be a part of it!

What is the message for us today?

Eschatology is so interesting. At times I have used it to beat people into submission to my way of thinking. So foolish! I have spent bunches of my time trying to figger it out and I make no claim that any eschatological system is the pure message.

I simply want to remember that the Lord Jesus is the saving God, that He is coming back, that there is a judgement coming and that He is the One who took my sin penalty away.

He is so good!

BUT

If you have a certain fearful looking for of judgement and fiery indignation, repent and believe the gospel. Follow the Messiah and listen for His voice. His death was not to be in vain, but your rejection of His life giving grace will leave you without any answer.

Remember, if a man could save his soul any other way than through the suffering, sacrificial death of the Messiah, God the Father is a fool for giving up His beloved Son.

But if you think you can save yourself without the suffering sacrificial death of the Messiah, you are the fool.

One way or the other, someone is a fool. Wanna take bets who may be the fool? Don’t be a worthless fool!



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Parable Surprises – Valuable Pearl

In our last parable, I suggested that a short parable is an easy parable. That may have been a bit foolish, since quantity does not necessarily imply quality.

These two tiny parables (Hidden Treasure and Valuable Pearl), although seemingly similar, have important distinctions that are instructive.

Lets take a second to read our parable today.

Matthew 13:45-46

45 “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant in search of fine pearls, 46 who, on finding one pearl of great value, went and sold all that he had and bought it.

Questions to Consider

Who were the audience?

No longer is Jesus teaching the masses, the crowds. Starting with our previous parable, the audience shifts to the disciples only. See Matthew 13:36. Now we have a group of folk that are allowed to “get it”. If you consider yourself to be one who “get’s it”, note that there will be a test coming up. (See Matthew 13:51)

When did the Lord give this parable?

Matthew gives me the impression that this day was a very busy day of teaching for the Lord. See Parable Surprises – The Sower of the Seed

Where did the Lord teach the parable?

The Lord entered “the” house. It is assumed He stayed in the local area and entered a house of a disciple. See Parable Surprises – The Sower of the Seed, for the geographical location if interested

Why did the Lord give this message?

At first blush, this parable and the previous one seems to be identical. But for the estimation of the value of the treasure/great pearl, there are a few items that make this parable a bit different.

With this parable, the “man” is a merchant. A bit more specific. The subject is skilled in the estimation of value and has made a living out of successfully trading items and producing profit.

With this parable, the merchant is searching for treasure. The man in the earlier parable appears to find the treasure without intent, simply “tripping” over the treasure, but he makes every effort to secure the treasure legally. The merchant finds the pearl of great value in the possession of another, and, like the man in the previous parable, sells all that he has in order to secure the treasure.

In the previous parable, the kingdom of heaven was likened to the treasure. In this parable, the kingdom of heaven is likened to the merchant.

This is the big one, the major difference that adds a layer of truth that needs to be considered.

What was the message for the original audience?

The kingdom of heaven is on the hunt. During the days of the Lord’s pilgrimage on enemy turf, He taught us that the kingdom of heaven was in search of fine pearls. For millennium, the kingdom of heaven has been on the search for pearls.

Although nothing in the New or Old Testament gives a direct connection with the Old Testament saints, I would like to suggest that the fine pearls may represent Old Testament saints like Abraham, Isaiah, and Daniel. Men and women that sought to honor God’s name and His loving mercy in their lives. Men and women within the remnant of Israel, hanging on to His promises and living for His glory and honor.

Until One Man came along that completely overshadowed every previous pearl. When this Man came on the scene, the Kingdom of God quit hunting, and realized that all effort could be ceased, for all the potential and realization of the Kingdom could and would be centered on this Man.

He is the Pearl of Great Price. And all that encompasses the kingdom of heaven is found in Him, and not another.

What is the message for us today?

The kingdom of heaven sold all that “it” had in order to pin “its’ hopes on the One who was the Pearl of Great Price. He is the only worthy One and has shown His great worth in the expression of His self sacrificial love not only for those who sought Him but also for those who fought Him, who spit on Him and eventually betrayed Him and crucified Him.

Where are we on the spectrum of self sacrificial love to those we rub shoulders with. Self analysis may be healthy, but staring at the Pearl of Great Price, considering His character and life, His heart is what will transform us.

2 Corinthians 3:18

And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.

Take time to stare.



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Parable Surprises – Hidden Treasure

A hidden treasure in a field. A parable describing relative worth in a Man’s life, and the natural reaction of the Man who estimates the worth of a treasure greater than all else.

Matthew 13:44

44 “The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and covered up. Then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.

Questions to Consider

Who were the audience?

Up until this parable, the audience Jesus was teaching were the masses, the crowds. See Parable Surprises – Growing Seed.

Starting with this parable, the audience shifts to the disciples only. See Matthew 13:36. Now we have a group of folk that are allowed to “get it”. If you consider yourself to be one who “get’s it”, note that there will be a test coming up. (See Matthew 13:51)

When did the Lord give this parable?

See Parable Surprises – The Sower of the Seed

Where did the Lord teach the parable?

He left the crowd and entered “the” house. This is no geographical adjustment, other than being within four walls without the crowds being present. See Parable Surprises – The Sower of the Seed, for the geographical location if interested

Why did the Lord give this message?

This is always the hardest question for me to try to answer, since it speaks of motive, why a message was given.

I’m thinking Jesus gave this parable to only His followers to communicate their worth. They had left all, had followed the Messiah for months now, and were actively, positively and with intent seeking to understand.

Yes they missed the message much of the time, but they came and asked, showed interest, sought to figger it out.

Have you ever tried to teach an empty chair? No life, no emotion, no passion. Speaking the truth in a prosperous society is discouraging, since so many distractions and deceptions are available. When hard times come, ears open up, at least for a time, and hopefully some accept the truth. It is exciting when there is an interest in the things of God!

Although this may not be perfectly parallel with the Lord’s experience, to have some eagerly follow Him when He knew most rejected not only His message but His own Person, this must have been a tremendous encouragement to Him. They were His treasure, with all the bumps and cuts and bruises they exhibited. They were His.

What was the message for the original audience?

They, the disciples are the treasure. The disciples were a treasure to the Master. He has found them in the world, and will “sell” everything He has in order to purchase the field from it’s usurping prince.

He will purchase the entire field in order to own the few disciples that were following Him.

What is the message for us today?

Of course, this great love that He expressed for His disciples may apply to us today. Are you actively, positively and with intent seeking to understand?

Remember Carl – this Christian thing is a relationship! Show a bit of interest! He definitely has proven His interest!



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Parable Surprises – Yeast

This parable is short and sweet. Nothing difficult nor complicated. Just my type!

Matthew 13:33

33 He told them another parable. “The kingdom of heaven is like leaven that a woman took and hid in three measures of flour, till it was all leavened.”

Questions to Consider

Who were the audience?

See Parable Surprises – Growing Seed

When did the Lord give this parable?

See Parable Surprises – The Sower of the Seed

Where did the Lord teach the parable?

See Parable Surprises – The Sower of the Seed

Why did the Lord give this message?

If you have been following this series, you will remember the previous parable (Parable Surprises – The Mustard Seed) and the teaching the Lord gave on the extent of growth, no better yet the unexpected relative growth of the Kingdom.

A tiny seed that grows to become larger than all the garden plants and eventually a tree, providing protection, even a home, for the birds of the air.

This parable also teaches about the growth of the Kingdom, but not the eventual size and purpose of the Kingdom, but of the power of the growth. The leaven in the flour is mixed in until all the flour is affected, till all the flour has been leavened.

What was the message for the original audience?

The Lord gave us a direct link as to what the leaven is equal to in this parable. The Kingdom of Heaven is like leaven.

Ok – So I was recently asked a great question (thanks Andy) about the birds of the air in the previous Parables post and what they represented. I provided an answer that included discussing the leaven of our current study, and leaven’s association with sin throughout much of the Bible. I concluded how I am reluctant to find direct associations beyond the parable’s intended point.

With that said, what does the flour represent? I realize the point of the parable is the continual growth of the loaf, but now I’m wondering what the flour represents.

Church?

Does it represent the future church? If so, I’m confused about what the church is comprised of. Is not the church, the body of Christ, all believers that have received the Spirit of God, been born from above. That would also differentiate the Church from the Kingdom of Heaven, which would continue my confusion. No, that ain’t right!

World?

Ok, so it represents the world the church will be called out from, yet be in, affecting the world and providing the Kingdom’s influence throughout the world?

The implications of this are somewhat surprising.

The Lord stated that the leaven would be kneaded until the entire three measures of flour (entire world?) would be leavened. This parable speaks of the energy for the growth of the Kingdom, which we know after the resurrection and Pentecost that the Spirit of God is the One who provides life and growth. Will the entire world/flour be influenced by the Holy Spirit? Will the entire world eventually be the Kingdom? Am I going too far with the point of the parable?

What is the message for us today?

As with the previous parable, the message could be interpreted in a number of ways, depending on your eschatology. Suffice it to say, that this parable is to give us confidence in the outcome, the unstoppable growth of the Body of Christ. It is easy in our decadent, self loving North American church, to watch the church seemingly shrivel up, ready to die. And my fears are that is a present reality, but let us not be dismayed. Though many may decide through selfish ambition, pride or desire for comfort to abandon their faith, it is a personal decision on each of our parts to follow, to seek to hear His voice, to stand up for His ways, and to encourage one another, as we see the Day approaching.

The Kingdom IS growing. The Messiah said so. “The woman” is still kneading the flour, and that may not be a comfortable condition for the believer (speaking as a flour particle, that is!!!)

But we are to walk by faith, even when sight seems to be screaming at us that all is lost.


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Parable Surprises – The Mustard Seed

The Lord used the tiny mustard seed to illustrate two truths during His ministry. One truth was regarding the size of the disciples faith, and the other, the nature of the Kingdom..

11 – Mustard Seed

Matthew 13:31-32

31 He put another parable before them, saying, “The kingdom of heaven is like a grain of mustard seed that a man took and sowed in his field. 32 It is the smallest of all seeds, but when it has grown it is larger than all the garden plants and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and make nests in its branches.”

Questions to Consider

Who were the audience?

See Parable Surprises – Growing Seed

When did the Lord give this parable?

See Parable Surprises – The Sower of the Seed

Where did the Lord teach the parable?

See Parable Surprises – The Sower of the Seed

Why did the Lord give this message?

As the Lord was walking this earth, teaching, healing and challenging those that would hear His message, it became apparent that the message was not being received well, and that the size of the following would expand greater than all could imagine.

There may have been two motives for this, and I am totally imagining this scenario, so judge as you may, but the first motive may have been to encourage the disciples. The movement may not have been growing at the rate they expected. It is good to remember that these men left their livelihood to follow this King, and many times we tend to get anxious about the expected results. This may be a motive for this message.

A secondary reason the Lord supplied this teaching was for the disciples in the future. Remember that often the Lord provides teaching of the future to give confidence after the prophecy has been fulfilled (see Purpose of Prophecy).

Again this was for the benefit of the believing crowd. The masses were not catching the parable teaching (see Parable Surprises – Why?) and until they came to faith, it was so much “pie in the sky”.

May it be that the Lord taught this parable to “show off”, to tell those listening that He was going to have a bigger kingdom than anyone, that “His Father could beat up their father”?

You know – it doesn’t fit in with the meek and lowly Jesus, the One who simply states a truth and let’s the truth do it’s work. Don’t get me wrong when I refer to meekness as weakness. Or lowliness as a shyness in His character. He isn’t shy, or a “wilting flower” – no no no. He enters into environments where the animosity is thicker than pea soup, states the truth and stands His ground. But He doesn’t argue a point, get heated in a verbal “wrestling match”, or enter into “back and forths” with his adversaries. He is confident in His standing before God. He is stating a truth of the Kingdom, not “showing off” He doesn’t need to enter into a vain display of importance. He is Lord.

What was the message for the original audience?

At the risk of sounding like an MLM salesman, Jesus was giving the disciples information of being in on the ground floor of a “tremendous opportunity”. Jesus was (re)introducing the Kingdom to Israel, and this Kingdom would expand beyond the borders of a small middle eastern nation, to envelop the world.

Within 300 years, every king and nation had fallen to the Lord Jesus, with His followers spreading the Kingdom and it’s influence far and wide. Was Jesus hinting at the gentile inclusion into the Kingdom – highly doubtful. Looking back it seems obvious, but the disciples were struggling with the Kingdom’s relationship within Israel at the time!

The Kingdom of God, that was (and is) principally the message of Jesus, started out seemingly insignificant, tiny, and without impact. Sure a dozen or so men and a few women travelled with the Messiah, but these types of groups fell away after the leader was gone. (Consider Acts 5:35 – 38)

What is the message for us today?

We are in the middle or end of the growth cycle of the mustard seed, depending on your eschatology. No matter, the realization of the Kingdom has been accomplished in many ways, and we are to maintain (better yet – expand) the Kingdom. We are to be that “tree” that offers shelter to the birds, that they make their nests in our branches. We are to be a blessing, a sanctuary of protection to those who would seek it.

Birds don’t make nests in trees that are poisonous, full of hazards and insecurities. They avoid trees that are weak and unstable.

Something to consider.



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Parable Surprises – Growing Seed

The Growing Seed is a short parable, and straight to the point! It is only found in the gospel of Mark, and it is, like our previous parable, concerning growth.

Mark is a gospel that is efficient. quick and nimble in the way truth is provided. I remember like it was yesterday, when I found out the most frequent word in the gospel of Mark was not Jesus, nor God, but “immediately”

It is as if Mark is on a mission to get the news out. Everything seems to have a time dependency in his gospel, and of course this parable is in no way lacking when it comes to the time factor. But alas, let us read it for ourselves prior to my entering into the story

Mark 4:26-29

26 And he said, “The kingdom of God is as if a man should scatter seed on the ground. 27 He sleeps and rises night and day, and the seed sprouts and grows; he knows not how. 28 The earth produces by itself, first the blade, then the ear, then the full grain in the ear. 29 But when the grain is ripe, at once he puts in the sickle, because the harvest has come.”

Questions to Consider

Who were the audience?

This is likely the same crowd that heard the parable of the sower. Matthew 13 was a busy day of pouring truth out to the crowds through the medium of parables. Many in the crowds were receiving teaching that would challenge men and women for millennium, and that for past saints, had been precious truth they based their lives on. But for the most part, the audience were deaf to the message being provided on this day.

When did the Lord give this parable?

Check out my previous post.

Where did the Lord teach the parable?

Check out my previous post.

Why did the Lord give this message?

During the previous teaching, one element seems to be a recurring thought. The mystery of the Kingdom, especially in the way of growth, and fruitfulness.

Sprouting seeds in the earth is a mysterious action. We don’t see it, or pay any attention to the process, unless you study botany, but that is not the usual setting for those in His audience! Jesus admits to this ignorance on the part of the audience in vs 27, where He states “he knows not how” The process of seeds sprouting and developing into a full plant, able to produce seeds for food (and the next generation) is mysterious to those in His audience. To be fair, although modern man has much knowledge of the process of a seed sprouting, the understanding of the process has much to be desired.

Nevertheless, the Lord’s purpose in providing this short parable seems to point to the mystery and culmination of the Kingdom. And that somewhat startles me, since the Kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, am I correct in stating this parable speaks of it’s culmination?

I think I may be getting ahead of myself, for that questions may be better responded to under the next heading

What was the message for the original audience?

The message for the original audience seems to be simple – the kingdom is like any other growing season. There are a number of elements brought out in this teaching that are worth considering

Time

As mentioned above, time is a critical factor in Marks telling of the good news. This parable does not disappoint in that regard. Jesus adds the description of sleeping, and rising day and night, describing a somewhat anxious farmer. The farmer may be anxious, but the earth is not. The earth, by it’s own ability, produces the growth, and that growth is very orderly, methodical and direct.

Responsibility

The Lord minimizes the farmers role, other than in the initial spreading of the seed, and the harvesting at the end. In the middle, the process is wholly dependent upon the earth. The earth produces by itself.

It is the earth that is responsible for the growth of the grain. The earth is the provider of the energy and sustenance providing growth to the seed.

The Lord is introducing to this audience a truth that has been expressed throughout the ages, and that is that growth comes from God, the uncaused cause, the eternal One who alone is life. He is the giver of life, as Jesus describes “the earth” in this parable.

Purpose

The purpose of a farmer, in spreading his seeds, is not to feed the birds! (My apologies to all those ornithologist’s out there!) The purpose of the farmer in spreading his seed is to produce enough seeds to supply grain for his family, crop to harvest for his income and to store enough seeds for the next year.

The purpose is clearly defined in this parable, where the harvest is described. All in the audience were either farmers or had intimate knowledge of the agricultural life.

Note that the harvest in initiated when the grain is mature. The grain, to be harvested, to meet its intended purpose, needs to be mature, fully grown and in it’s adult stage. At that point the farmer has use of the plant. Until then, the farmer would not think of laying a sickle to the plant, for he would lose all potential for any food or profit.

Maturity is a goal. And the reward of the grain upon reaching this goal is it’s death.

What is the message for us today?

What is the message for today? I can’t help but think that the message we need to consider is two fold.

Maturity

That last phrase is getting “stuck in my craw”, as my momma used to say. “When the grain is ripe…”

The purpose of the grain was found in it’s harvesting. The only indication that harvesting was the correct phase to enter into was the ripeness of the grain, it’s maturity.

Notice, that although the gospel of Mark considers time to be a factor in his telling of the story, this parable does not define the time taken for the grain to ripen. It does refer to time in relation to the farmer, in his anxiousness, but not in relation to the grain itself!! This may not be the focus of the parable, but I can’t help but think that the earth, in this parable, does not worry. The earth provides and produces, it does not fret or worry, for it (the earth) is more than sufficient to meet its responsibilities. (BTW, consider the parallels between the earth in this parable and God the Father in your life!)

Purpose

The purpose of the seed being strewn into the field is the growth and multiplication of the same seed.

Is the Spirit of God being replicated in your life, and extending to others, actually multiplying its effects and influence on those around you?

Remember – the farmer went to harvest when the seed had been duplicated many times over. Consider.



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Parable Surprises – Tares Among the Wheat

This parable of good seed in a field of weeds is surprising in a number of ways.

Let’s take a look at

The Parable of The Tares among the Wheat

Matthew 13:24-30, 36-43

24 He put another parable before them, saying, “The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a man who sowed good seed in his field, 25 but while his men were sleeping, his enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat and went away. 26 So when the plants came up and bore grain, then the weeds appeared also. 27 And the servants of the master of the house came and said to him, ‘Master, did you not sow good seed in your field? How then does it have weeds?’ 28 He said to them, ‘An enemy has done this.’ So the servants said to him, ‘Then do you want us to go and gather them?’ 29 But he said, ‘No, lest in gathering the weeds you root up the wheat along with them. 30 Let both grow together until the harvest, and at harvest time I will tell the reapers, “Gather the weeds first and bind them in bundles to be burned, but gather the wheat into my barn.”‘”

36 Then he left the crowds and went into the house. And his disciples came to him, saying, “Explain to us the parable of the weeds of the field.” 37 He answered, “The one who sows the good seed is the Son of Man. 38 The field is the world, and the good seed is the sons of the kingdom. The weeds are the sons of the evil one, 39 and the enemy who sowed them is the devil. The harvest is the end of the age, and the reapers are angels. 40 Just as the weeds are gathered and burned with fire, so will it be at the end of the age. 41 The Son of Man will send his angels, and they will gather out of his kingdom all causes of sin and all law-breakers, 42 and throw them into the fiery furnace. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. 43 Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father. He who has ears, let him hear.

Questions to Consider

Who were the audience?

This is the same crowd that heard the parable of the sower. Matthew 13 was a busy day of pouring truth out to the crowds through the medium of parables. Many in the crowds were receiving teaching that would challenge men and women for millennium, and that for past saints, had been precious truth they based their lives on. But for the most part, the audience were deaf to the message being provided on this day.

When did the Lord give this parable?

Check out my previous post.

Where did the Lord teach the parable?

Check out my previous post.

Why did the Lord give this message?

Aw – the big question! Initially, a story of bad seed after the story of the sower seems a bit confusing, but the topic is different. The seed is not a metaphor for truth, or the gospel, but of how the kingdom of God would grow.

The kingdom would grow, but with enemies within it. It seems the reason for the existence of the enemies is due to the servants sleeping, and how true this is of the modern church. So many enemies of the gospel, parading about as representatives of the Messiah, growing, and seemingly thriving in the church, sucking the life out of it. But alas – I digress.

What was the message for the original audience?

Your expectations for an earthly kingdom is wrong.

Many of His audience were looking for Messiah ben David, a Messiah that would conquer the Romans and bring Israel to dominance in the world. An earthly kingdom, where all those gentile “dogs” would be dominated and ruled over, controlled and taxed, with revenge and power being available to every Israelite.

Wow Did I get carried away there for a minute? But you get my point.

Jesus was continually bringing a message that challenged the “earth bound” mindset. Jesus is Messiah ben David, the ruling King, but His subjects have to understand His Kingdom, and this kingdom would have enemies within it that are allowed to exist alongside them. Jesus ben Joseph, the suffering King was on display for all to see and to follow, if they could hear His message

How counter intuitive.

What is the message for us today?

Our expectation for the end may be incorrect – Notice that the weeds are gathered first. How does that jive with the common teaching of the saints being gathered first, that is with the common teaching of the pre-tribulational rapture. I don’t get it! But that is such a minor issue, for it does not impact a greater, a somewhat troubling truth.

The enemy has a purpose within the Kingdom. What do you say Carl?

Notice the Land owner’s concern over the wheat, the good seed and how He restricts any damage to their existence. And yet the enemy, the weed, is within their presence, their very life is effected by the weed. Now I have always been told to never make a parable walk on a hundred legs, but their may be some truth to the concept of the enemy being in the church for the sake of keeping us alert, of winnowing out the false believer, of showing to the world the difference of a true believer with the hypocrite.

Consider your own walk with Him.

Are their “weeds” in you life, weeds that fight against you in your Christianity? By this I mean folks that are a hindrance, or are blatantly against you in your faith.

We need these “enemies” amongst us, for we are not to be “out of the world”, where we could not rub shoulders with those who know not the Master.

No. We need to be amongst them, loving our enemies, blessing those who curse us and praying for those who persecute us.

Matthew 5:44, 45

But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.

Those weeds will get pulled soon enough, but until then, we got some loving to do!



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Parable Surprises – The Sower of the Seed

This is the big one. Of all the parables the Lord taught, I think this one is the most known, with the possible exception of the prodigal son. It is also one of the more complex ones, since it is dealing with four types of soil, and the recurring results of the soil.

Let’s take a look at

The Sower of the Seed

Matthew 13:3-8, 18-23

3 And he told them many things in parables, saying: “A sower went out to sow. 4 And as he sowed, some seeds fell along the path, and the birds came and devoured them. 5 Other seeds fell on rocky ground, where they did not have much soil, and immediately they sprang up, since they had no depth of soil, 6 but when the sun rose they were scorched. And since they had no root, they withered away. 7 Other seeds fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked them. 8 Other seeds fell on good soil and produced grain, some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty. …

18 “Hear then the parable of the sower: 19 When anyone hears the word of the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what has been sown in his heart. This is what was sown along the path. 20 As for what was sown on rocky ground, this is the one who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy, 21 yet he has no root in himself, but endures for a while, and when tribulation or persecution arises on account of the word, immediately he falls away. 22 As for what was sown among thorns, this is the one who hears the word, but the cares of the world and the deceitfulness of riches choke the word, and it proves unfruitful. 23 As for what was sown on good soil, this is the one who hears the word and understands it. He indeed bears fruit and yields, in one case a hundredfold, in another sixty, and in another thirty.”

Questions to Consider

Who were the audience?

Great multitudes gathered to the Lord, to hear of His teaching. This was a general audience, a large crowd that had accumulated

When did the Lord give this parable?

Based on the parallel version of the parable in Mark, this teaching was provided after His confrontation with the scribes who came down from Jerusalem, claiming He was possessed of the prince of demons, and that He was casting out demons by Satan’s power.

Where did the Lord teach the parable?

As the text tells us, He was in a boat, off the shore in order to teach the large crowd. Most believe He was on the western shores of the Sea of Galilee, near the village of Gennesaret

Why did the Lord give this message?

I had always considered the parables as a unique method of teaching, a method that would reach all those who heard it. But as my momma used to say, “you can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink” Jesus was finding out with this parable, and all parables, who was thirsty.

He taught this parable to multitudes and the disciples had had it. They weren’t getting it, and they came to the Lord to ask why. This is the parable that prompted the explanation of why the Master taught in parables throughout His ministry. I addressed this explanation in an introduction to this series here. I would encourage you to read the post – it may surprised you what I found out

What was the message for the original audience?

Naming this parable the parable of the sower is somewhat distracting, since it is concerning the soil that the seeds fall on that is the message. I will not address whether this parable describes four different levels of Christian, or the difference between true and false Christianity. This is not clearly defined in the parable, though some may claim it is. This is a results parable – What results from the same seed landing on four types of soils?

Four types of soil are described in this parable.

  • Hard Soil
    • The seed became food for birds. It didn’t have the chance to germinate. The soil was trodden down, packed by the constant pressures of foot path, of the day to day pressures of being used for travel. The soil itself was unable to receive the seed, and it was taken away.
    • No life.
  • Rocky Soil
    • Along the edges of fields, a farmer would pile rocks and stones that he had pulled from the field. Rows of stones were common along a farmers property, being used to mark out a field, or his property. I had always translated this thinking into the verse, yet most would consider “rocky ground” to be describing shallow earth that received the seed, and yet lurking so close to the surface, an impenetrable material that refused any growth. This condition allowed initial growth, but not continual growth. This seed germinated, but continuous life was not to be experienced for this plant – The ground had not depth, no support!
    • Life, but not continuous.
  • Thorny Soil
    • This ground was not necessarily shallow. It had the depth to support continuous life, and the proof of this was the thorns that became an impediment for this soil. The thorns choked out the good seed. It is interesting that the term choked describes a “crowding out” of the good seed. Yes the seed germinated, yet the seed did not come to maturity. In the Greek, this term “choke” conveys the idea of strangling, of taking by the throat. To choke is a very apt description of the action of the thorns. This is a competition for sustenance.
    • Life, but not continuous
  • Good Soil
    • This soil produced grain. Multiplication occurred in this soil. The one seed produced many seed.
    • Life.

What is the message for us today?

I have been reluctant to sit down and consider this parable, since my “general” thoughts have condemned my own experience. You see, when I first became a believer on Feb 19th, 1981 I saw a future of impeccable faithfulness to the Master, a life of constant obedience to a Master who loved me and gave Himself for me. As I have hit 40 years of walking with Him, I realize the “truth” of the thorny soil, since I have not been the believer I anticipated. I am a weak and inconsistent follower, that has had much less impact on my world than I had hoped.

But as I was working outside yesterday, considering this passage in my thinking, I realized that I am, by nature a greedy guy. I wanted a hundredfold multiplication, and yet in my dark days, I fear there is more thorn in my life that life. I was looking only at, what I considered the obvious signs of life from my walk.

He has kept me based on His grace and not on my efforts. He has sometimes dragged me through some difficult times, giving me only a slight glimmer of hope, and yet He still is very present, very real and is continuing His work.

As you read this parable, don’t be greedy and compare your life with a famous evangelist, teacher or flamboyant showy believer.

If you have produced one seed, one grain, give thanks.

And get the weed whipper out.



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Parable Surprises – The Unfruitful Fig Tree

Our last parable of the rich man and his barns spoke of a bountiful harvest and the rich man’s poor decisions, being fueled by covetousness and poor priorities. This parable speaks of another agrarian example, but this time the dang tree ain’t producing!

Let’s take a look at

The Parable of The Unfruitful Fig Tree

Luke 13:6-9

6 And he told this parable: “A man had a fig tree planted in his vineyard, and he came seeking fruit on it and found none. 7 And he said to the vinedresser, ‘Look, for three years now I have come seeking fruit on this fig tree, and I find none. Cut it down. Why should it use up the ground?’ 8 And he answered him, ‘Sir, let it alone this year also, until I dig around it and put on manure. 9 Then if it should bear fruit next year, well and good; but if not, you can cut it down.'”

As mentioned in our introduction, we have a number of questions that will provide guidance in understanding each of these parables. Let’s review and delve into this parable.

Questions to Consider

Who were the audience?

The text opens up in Luke 13 with a general description of “some present at that very time” and how they had spoke of an atrocity that some Galileans suffered.

When did the Lord give this parable?

Again, this is early on in the Lord’s ministry, seemingly in the Galilean region, prior to His journey towards Jerusalem

Where did the Lord teach the parable?

The region of Galilee.

Why did the Lord give this message?

The context of the passage is repentance. Luke 13:1-5 speaks of the relative sinfulness of those who suffer compared to others. You know how that goes – they are worse than I. It is a favorite past time of everyone of us. These folks in the first verse just mentioned this to the One who doesn’t dabble in relative sin, at least in His discussion here.

These folks who suffered at the hands of a cruel government leader weren’t worse sinners than any others! All need to repent! And those folks who suffered due to an accidental occurrence weren’t worse sinners than any others! All need to repent!

Even those who think they are better than those “worst sinners!”

So in summary, the context is for this parable is the requirement of repentance, especially of the self righteous.

What was the message for the original audience?

What is a fig tree doing in a vineyard?

I get the allusion of the vineyard as representing Israel, because it is often referred to as such.

One of the multiple verses referring to Israel as a vine is

Jeremiah 2:21

Yet I planted you a choice vine,
wholly of pure seed.
How then have you turned degenerate
and become a wild vine?

So what about a fig tree? Why the difference?

Jeremiah helps us one more time, for in the 8th chapter….

Jeremiah 8:13

13 When I would gather them, declares the LORD, there are no grapes on the vine, nor figs on the fig tree; even the leaves are withered, and what I gave them has passed away from them.”

Interesting. Jeremiah complains of the nation of Israel, in that both the vine and the fig are fruitless. Is this an example of Hebrew poetry, where the author says the same thing using a different description? I’m thinking so.

That still doesn’t explain why the Lord made the distinction. And I want to be careful not to make a mountain out of a molehill, or to try to make this parable walk on 50 legs! Still, it is interesting and caught my attention. If the reader has a suggestion to assist, it would be greatly appreciated.

The message for the original audience is that the fig tree, representing the nation of Israel, needs to change (repent) and begin to produce fruit in keeping with the message of Jesus. If the nation continues without producing the fruit required from the vinedresser, that is the Lord Jesus, that fig tree will be immediately pulled out by the roots and completely destroyed.

Did you catch that?

Not by the roots! The tree will be cut down. The life of the tree will not be extinguished, just the visible portion removed. (There is significance to this truth, but will not chase that rabbit right now!!)

And notice, that the fig tree had not been producing any fruit for THREE years. Remember that the fig usually produces fruit twice a year, the early and the late fig. But this tree produced nothing.

Also one more mistake I inserted into the text above.

The tree would not be immediately removed! The vinedresser, the Lord Jesus asked the owner (God the Father) to give it one more year. He would dig around it, and place some fertilizer on it. The Lord Jesus wanted to give the fig tree / nation of Isarea the most advantageous conditions to produce fruit. He gave the fig tree another year of opportunity. A second chance. (In reality a fourth chance!)

What is the message for us today?

I wanna say “Get to work and do something!” or “Get producing!” but I’m not quite sure that is the right thing to say. After all, the context is repentance, and as the prophet John said, bear fruit in keeping with repentance.

Bear / produce fruit.

Fruit in the Christian life is the result of walking with the Spirit. Walking with the Spirit is the goal of the every day Christian. The every day Christian should recognize the Spirit’s call on his life. The characteristics of a believer walking in the Spirit should be obvious, but I will mention since I need to be reminded – love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.

Don’t try to produce fruit. You will get leaves.

Walk in the Spirit, be submissive to His calling in your life.

  • When you have opportunity to argue, return a soft answer
  • When you are tempted to compete, show humility and give way.
  • When a difficult situation arises, seek to endure, if it be the will of God. (That last one is a tough one!!!)

Don’t stand or run in the Spirit – walk in the Spirit, and if you do you will not fulfill the lusts of the flesh. Incredible truth.

Produce fruit.



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Parable Surprises – The Rich Man and Barns

This parable is a response to an unknown crowdster, that wanted to “see tha money”. I don’t think he knew what he was getting into!

Let’s take a look at

The Parable of The Rich Man and Barns

Luke 12:16-21

16 And he told them a parable, saying, “The land of a rich man produced plentifully, 17 and he thought to himself, ‘What shall I do, for I have nowhere to store my crops?’ 18 And he said, ‘I will do this: I will tear down my barns and build larger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. 19 And I will say to my soul, “Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years; relax, eat, drink, be merry.”‘ 20 But God said to him, ‘Fool! This night your soul is required of you, and the things you have prepared, whose will they be?’ 21 So is the one who lays up treasure for himself and is not rich toward God.”

As mentioned in our introduction, we have a number of questions that will provide guidance in understanding each of these parables. Let’s review and delve into this parable.

Questions to Consider

Who were the audience?

Luke 12:13 mentions a crowd being present. Jesus had been teaching and a crowd came together to hear the Master. The disciples of course were present.

When did the Lord give this parable?

Specifically, I can not find a time or location this parable was taught. Others with greater abilities than I place it in the region of Galilee.

Where did the Lord teach the parable?

It seems this parable was taught in the early years of the Lord’s ministry.

Why did the Lord give this message?

As mentioned in the introduction, the parable was given in response to a man in the crowd wanting resolution over an inheritance.

During our Lord’s time, it seems the scribes of the law were addressed in the matter of the laws of inheritance.

One of the laws of inheritance that may seem foreign to us nowadays is the right of the first born. The first born would receive twice the amount of inheritance than any of the other siblings. So, for example, out a 2 million dollar inheritance between two brothers, the first born would receive 1.3 million buckaroos, while the younger brother only $667,000. (Poor little rich boy!)

In our society that would cause constant complaints, a commission should be set up to study and strike down such an unjust law. That is our problem – this was Old Testament Israel, set up originally as a theocracy, with laws that picture the supremacy of the first born, looking to the Savior as a fulfillment. But I digress.

As mentioned, sometimes scribes were addressed regarding inheritance laws. But Jesus would not get pulled down into this specific issue since it was not his mission. He simply asked the man the following.

Luke 12:14

… “Man, who made me a judge or arbitrator over you?”

What a question. In the matters of this man’s familial conflicts and greed, He would not get involved. And yet, upon His resurrection, God made Jesus a judge over all.

Romans 2:16

16 on that day when, according to my gospel, God judges the secrets of men by Christ Jesus.

This question, or shall I say demand, from a stranger in the crowd, brings Jesus to the topic of covetousness, and the teaching of this particular parable.

What was the message for the original audience?

The message for the original audience is to be on guard over covetousness. The covetousness in this parable takes the form of the rich man seeking comfort and ease in his future life. He has had a bumper crop, to no credit of his own efforts – the God of creation provided the bounty – and yet in the midst of this great success financially, the rich man thought of the ease it may provide for his own soul.

Luke 12:19

….“Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years; relax, eat, drink, be merry.”’

Jesus was addressing priorities, for in the very next verse, God called this man a fool. Why? The rich man had no earthly future upon which to enjoy his goods, and the statement implies that all the goods this rich man accumulated would be dispersed to an unknown recipient.

I don’t want to make this parable walk on 50 legs, finding parallels in every word, but this question from God is startling, for the condemnation from God is two fold in my eyes this morning.

  • The rich man was not prepared for death.
    • He wasn’t prepared for death in that he had planned for “many years of relaxation and rest”. Back in the garden, God told us to “till the garden”. Labor is not a part of the curse, but part of the original creation, a blessing that is instilled in us by the Creator. Why was relaxation and rest the top priority for this rich man?
    • The rich man did not consider the Creator regarding the length of his lifespan. No man knows of his time, and it behooves us to be prepared, even daily for death. This is not something that is encouraged in our culture, or even in our churches very often. We so often want our best life now. This may not be wide! Tonight his soul is required of him.
  • The rich man was not prepared for death.
    • He wasn’t prepared for death in that he hadn’t directed his earthly possessions to his descendants (if he had any) or to worthy causes. This is a bit stunning, for what does it matter to the Creator of the universe where this rich mans paltry possessions end up? Whose will they be?
    • We began this post considering a man who had issues with an inheritance. His initial question from the crowd began this post. Inheritance in the Old Testament was a common topic, and this phrase is directing me to consider its implications. ( A quick search for the word inheritance shows it coming up over 200 times in the Scriptures.)

Although the topic is covetousness, there seems to also be an undercurrent of priorities to be applied to one’s life.

Could it be as simple as the priorities of God first, family and friends next, and then finally yourself?

In answering this question, I began with my thinking that it addresses covetousness in the believers life, and that is true, but in this parable, priorities are used to reveal the covetous life.

What is the message for us today?

In reading this parable over the years I have had a number of reactions to it. When I read it quickly, or think about it without reading it (don’t do that), I come away from it thinking all retirement investing as being sinful.

Is that the intended message for us today?

Of course, if covetousness is controlling your plans for retirement, or generally for your future, consider your ways.

If you are planning for a time when you may no longer be able to provide for yourself or loved ones, then this may be considered careful planning.

In setting priorities, we need to remember that becoming a burden on others should not be a goal in our lives. Balance in our lives regarding our financial decisions needs to be reviewed, and the previously discussed priorities of God, family and self (in that order) need to be reapplied as necessary

You know, as I think of this topic, it reminds me of two items that may help in understanding the intent of the parable

Prioritizing Honesty with God

Recently my wife and I were in the book of Acts, and read of Ananias and Saphira. I posted earlier on the surprise of a small statement in the text about Barnabas selling a field. He sold a field, not all of his fields, or most of his fields. It doesn’t tell us what percentage he sold. It seems unimportant. He performed a loving action for his brothers.

Ananias and Sapphira were different – They also sold a field, and lied about giving all of the funds to the church. The amount didn’t seem to be the problem – it was the lie that they gave all when they only gave some. I wonder if things would have turned out differently if they admitted they only gave some?

In prioritizing God in our financial decisions, honesty is a priority. After all, it is all of His, and we are simply “tilling the garden”, not owning the field!

As an aside, I find that being anonymous in my giving is also beneficial, in order that my motives may approach an honest simplicity.

Prioritizing Others after Death

Early in our married life, I shunned many offers of life insurance, thinking it showed a lack of faith in God. I wanted to honor God in every decision, and as I sought to understand His will for our lives, I came up against 1 Timothy 5:8.

1 Timothy 5:8

8 But if anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for members of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.

Out of context, I understood this verse to speak of supplying food and shelter for my family and I still believe that. Consider 2 Thessalonians 3:10

…If anyone is not willing to work, let him not eat

But as I considered the context of 1 Timothy 5, I began to see something that would require an attitude adjustment.

The context of this verse is in relation to widows. 1 Timothy 5:3 speaks of honoring widows, and of family members caring for the widow in the next verse. Then verse 8 pops up, speaking of one not supplying for members of his household, and that he is worse than an unbeliever. It may be addressing the living relatives of the widow, but I was impressed with the need of supplying for my wife and family in the event of my death. Out of that period of time, I revised my thinking (it’s called repentance) and took out a life insurance policy for my wife and children.

Please understand that I am not a life insurance salesman, nor is anyone in my family a life insurance salesman. This is not a life insurance commercial!

I currently have a policy that will supply funds for my wife (my children are out of the house now) in the event of my passing before her. Is this a solution for all? That is for you to seek God in. There may be many ways for the believer to honor God and love his family in place of having a policy as I have.

In the midst of the insurance struggle that was raging in my mind and heart, I also was drawn to the topic of a last will. Nothing specifically in the Scriptures directed me in this matter but love for my wife and family constrained me to get one done. But gosh golly, gee willikers, this parable may be addressing the need of a will, when we look at Luke 12:20.

….whose will they be?

Your thoughts and comments are always welcomed and I look forward to any insight you may add in the comments. Thanks so much for visiting. May the Lord bless you and keep you in all His ways.



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Parable Surprises – The Unequal Debts

This parable speaks of debt, and a few parables use this topic, since it was a common condition in the first century. A bit later in the career of the Lord He uses this topic in a somewhat lengthy parable of a man being forgiven a humongous debt. It is one of the more disturbing parables I can think of. But I am getting ahead of myself (again!).

Let’s take a look at

The Parable of The Unequal Debts

Luke 7:41-43

41 “A certain moneylender had two debtors. One owed five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. 42 When they could not pay, he cancelled the debt of both. Now which of them will love him more?” 43 Simon answered, “The one, I suppose, for whom he cancelled the larger debt.” And he said to him, “You have judged rightly.”

As mentioned in our introduction, we have a number of questions that will provide guidance in understanding each of these parables. Let’s review and delve into this parable.

Questions to Consider

Who were the audience?

According to Luke 7:36 and following verses, a Pharisee by the name of Simon invited Jesus into his home for a meal. Simon had also invited “others” to the meal according to Luke 7:49, and of course there was that instigator, that sinful woman.


When did the Lord give this parable?

During the Lord’s Galilean ministry, which was in His first year of public ministry.

By the way, I have recently found an interesting graphic of a timeline of the ministry of the Lord Jesus here. The website BibleTimeLines.com supplies this information. Visit to check the info out. I hope it is useful for your review and information.

Where did the Lord teach the parable?

Simon the Pharisee likely lived in the region of Galilee, near either the city of Capernaum or Nain. Both these cities were on the northwest shore of the Sea of Galilee.

Why did the Lord give this message?

Simon asked a question. Under his breath! If’n I ask a question under my breath, I surely don’t expect anyone to respond. I usually do this type of complaining in order to justify my own bias’s. Jesus would take this opportunity to help Simon understand a basic truth, that had great implications.

I think if he had closed the door to his home and the woman couldn’t get in, everything would have been different. Of course I am being waggish at this point. But it raises a question in my mind. How did a woman, whom the general audience and Simon had disdain for, enter into the home?

Simon invited Jesus into his home, but the woman wasn’t invited. She entered the home of a Pharisee to bless the Master. What utter audacity! This is totally unexpected.

And what is more, Simon didn’t rebuke the sinful woman, but muttered under his breath, saying to himself that Jesus surely isn’t a prophet since this “sort of woman” was touching him.

It is truly warped what religion does to those engulfed in it. For a sinful woman to touch someone, to become “an issue” is beyond me.

Lets recap. A woman dowsing Jesus feet with ointment gave offence to a Pharisee, who had little estimation of who Jesus was. (It seems Simon thought of Jesus as simply a failed prophet!)

What was the message for the original audience?

Jesus responds to Simon’s thoughts in telling this story. Remember now, that Simon is thinking Jesus is simply a failed prophet, a prophet who is lacking in the basic understanding of the moral character of a woman, and is failing in keeping Himself “pure”.

Jesus tells a parable about two debtors, the sinful woman and Simon. The sinful woman owed 10 times the amount of debt than Simon. Of course, during the parable, Simon would not have recognized that he was the one owing a debt, but that will come later in Jesus explanation of the parable to Simon.

Both debtors were in debt. To the moneylender. Who is this moneylender Jesus? Looking back on this parable, we all have the privilege’s of knowing the “punchline”, but Simon is not wary of this yet. He is still in a fog!

This is the power of a parable, since it takes us out of the story until it is too late. This is what I call the Nathan principle, since Nathan the prophet did this so well with King David when he asked of judgment on the rich man who took the poor man’s sheep.

Both debts were forgiven by the moneylender, and a simple question was asked.

Who loves more?

Simon was a careful Pharisee, for he said “I suppose…” I am thinking the light is starting to dawn on Simon. This woman obviously loves Jesus.

The reactions of the two debtors reveals their estimation of the Son of God, their understanding of who this Jesus is. This estimation of who He is, is what fuels each of their reactions to the Messiah.

The audience finally get it. Who forgives debt / sins? A failed prophet? You can think that Simon, but it doesn’t change reality. The woman understood, that sinful woman!

What is the message for us today?

If I were there in Simon’s place, as he was “getting the point”, I would be preparing myself for a shaming.

My lack of love to Jesus would have been based on my wrong estimation of Him.

Simon thought He was a failed prophet, but the parable and His explanation makes it clear who Jesus is. Jesus is the Great Moneylender. The One to whom we all owe debt. If we could be honest with ourselves, like the woman, sinful as she was, and realize our debt, and the scope of forgiveness He provides to us, we would simply love Him and seek ways to show it.

This parable speaks to us as to our estimation of who this Jesus of Nazareth is. Is He a failed prophet, a misguided teacher, a good man?

What is your estimation of this Man named Jesus?

Who do you say He is?



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Parable Surprises – The Wise and Foolish Builders

This particular parable is one of the most recognizable parable in the English language. This is the second of the parables found in the sermon on the mount and as mentioned in the previous post, it is intended for Christians to understand, and heed.

It’s utter simplicity of message has one point to it, and that point is… Hang on, let’s read it first.

The Parable of The Wise and Foolish Builders

Matthew 7:24-27

24 “Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. 25 And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock. 26 And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. 27 And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell, and great was the fall of it.”

As mentioned in our introduction, we have a number of questions that will provide guidance in understanding each of these parables. Let’s review and delve into this parable

Questions to Consider

Who were the audience?

As mentioned in the previous post, the audience is the disciples primarily. Some of the crowd may have hears it, dang it all of the crowd may have heard it, but without being a committed follower, many of these teachings may have fallen on deaf ears. As a matter of fact, let’s remember that is the purpose of the parables.

Selective teaching based on the recipients!

When did the Lord give this parable?

The Sermon on the mount was one of Jesus earliest messages, and many believe it was given in the first year of His ministry.

Where did the Lord teach the parable?

I got some nice graphic in our previous post that is nice eye candy, but for the sake of brevity, tradition speaks of the mount of the beatitudes being on the northwest shore of the sea of Galilee, just a stones throw away from Capernaum.

Why did the Lord give this message?

This parable was not initiated by the enemies of the Lord, in asking some challenging question, or in trying to trip Him up. This teaching is directed to those who want to follow, and is not defensive in its posture.

Even saying that, I can’t think of one question that set the Messiah into defensive mode. He has all knowledge, full of grace and truth and is the embodiment of wisdom. Those that question or challenge Him were using the gift of intelligence He gave to them against Him – how utterly ridiculous!

Back to the question at hand. He gave us this parable to associate true success in living with heeding His word.

What was the message for the original audience?

The parable’s message was to direct the disciples attention to the Lordship of Christ, to the hearing of His teaching, His instruction and to understand the message, maybe struggle with it, but ultimately follow His lead.

By the way, if you do not struggle with the life of faith, consider if you are living a life of faith. Many give lip service to the words of the Messiah. I admit I am guilty of this crime too often.

The message was to hear His word and do it! I think James gave us a great summary of this parable in verse 22 of his first chapter.

… be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.

What is the message for us today?

A couple of questions back I mentioned that the parable’s intention was to associate true success with heeding His word. I though I heard a harumph as some may have read that, thinking how utterly simplistic.

Really Carl – How bout those who have obeyed and been destitute, martyred, betrayed by family and friends? How can you make a statement like “true success in living is associated with heeding His word”, without considering the history of the church?

By the way, this very thinking of worldly / financial success as being God’s best is rampant in the modern church and needs to be repented of!

If He speaks the truth, (which is why you have placed your faith in Him), this means we are to align our crooked thoughts with His priorities. So if that is correct, lets consider what one thing in Jesus life was of paramount importance?

I will give you a moment…

Success, in the modern mind, is a two car garage, a buck or two in the bank, a comfortable home and a loving family. Jesus had none of that, except for the loving family. Ooops, well at least His mother loved Him.

And yet He was so successful in God the Father’s eyes, that He raised Him from the dead, never to see corruption again.

I’m thinking that is perty successful!

So, how are you gauging your success?

By the way, I am still waiting on your response to my question above, about what was of paramount importance to Jesus. I will let you respond in the comments, to give you time to consider.



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Parable Surprises – The Lamp on a Stand

The last two parables were “twins” of sort, but this one is a stand alone type of parable. This parable is couched in the Sermon on the Mount and describes the believer as a lamp. A lamp that is open to view by all.

Let’s take a look at

The Parable of The Lamp on a Stand

Matthew 5:14-15

14 “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house.

As mentioned in our introduction, we have a number of questions that will provide guidance in understanding each of these parables. Let’s review and delve into this parable

Questions to Consider

Who were the audience?

Matthew 5 starts out with Jesus on a mountain, seeing the crowds and the disciples being with Him. It appears that the sermon was intended for the disciples, since Luke 6:20 informs us that

…he lifted up his eyes on his disciples, and said: “Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God

The intended audience is the disciples during this time in the Lord’s ministry. So let us understand this parable as being addressed to His followers.

When did the Lord give this parable?

The Sermon on the mount was one of Jesus earliest messages, and many believe it was given in the first year of His ministry.

Where did the Lord teach the parable?

No one knows exactly where the mount is, but we can know that this sermon was on “the mount”

Tradition speaks of it being delivered on Mount Eremos, on Galilee’s northwest shore between Gennesaret and Capernaum.

Why did the Lord give this message?

This message, or parable was not given out of answering a question, such as the last two teachings. This parable came directly from the Master, speaking to His followers.

I have understood the beatitudes in different ways at different times in my Christian journey, at one time thinking it didn’t apply to the Christian life, but only to those during a literal thousand year reign of the Lord on the earth.

At this time in my life, I find that teaching to be weak, and that the sermon was given to His followers, or disciples, in order to be understood and followed.

The lamp on a stand applies to disciples. The Lord gave this message to believers.

What was the message for the original audience?

Let’s consider the lamp as a fixture in a room. In the days of the first century, there were likely one lamp in the house, as a single source of light. The purpose of the lamp was to give light. Why would anyone put a lit lamp under a basket?

The lamp produces a certain amount of light, or in our world, the term is a certain number of “lumens”. (Remember a 40 watt bulb? This is the amount of power a light bulb uses to produce light. The light produced from a watt of power is measured in lumens. But I digress!)

No matter where the light is situated, the amount of lumens is the same. Under a basket or on a stand.

Advantageous Use of the Lamp

Placing the lamp on a stand is speaking of the advantageous use of the lamp.

One other item that occurs to me is the number of beneficiaries a lamp can supply light to.

It takes no more power to produce 100 lumens of light to one person as it does to 10 people. The lumens are not used up by the “consumption” of one person or a hundred.

The light expressed from the lamp is effortlessly blessing those who come within sight of its source. The power is not dealt with in this parable, and will not be commented on, but I bet you know Who the power is.

What is the message for us today?

There are two messages that every believer needs to consider from this parable, that I need to hear.

To be a light that is on a stand is the believers place in the kingdom. It is the purpose of the light, and the purpose of the believer, to bless those in their vicinity with their light they have been freely given by the Master.

Find the Power

When I say find the power, I’m not asking anyone to dig deep and find that inner strength. I am becoming more and more convinced that my power is the weakness of my soul, the abject infirmity that keeps me down. My power is a replacement of the true power of God, that I realize I have so little of.

Stand up for Jesus

Stand up for Jesus. Take a stand, in humility and with grace.

I have often made a stand for the Lord Jesus out of pride and hostility, out of fear or religious arrogance. How may I gently, and firmly stand for Jesus, depending on His power and grace? Lord, I ask for your hand and guidance.

You, my Savior, are the only One I can find strength in.

It is my continual proneness to depend on my strength, and I thank you Father for the aging process, where my strength is waning, showing me the emptiness of that source of strength. You are all strength. You are of eternal power. Your strength, Your power, You are the source of all light and life.

Psalm 38:9-10, 21-22

9 O Lord, all my longing is before you; my sighing is not hidden from you.

10 My heart throbs; my strength fails me, and the light of my eyes–it also has gone from me. …

21 Do not forsake me, O LORD! O my God, be not far from me!

22 Make haste to help me, O Lord, my salvation!

David’s heart sought the Lord. This passage speaks to me and hopefully to the reader, that our strength will fail us, and the light of our eyes will fade. But our salvation is the Lord, and in Him is our strength.



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Parable Surprises – The New Wine

In our last post, we looked at the parable of The New Cloth, and noted that it was spoken within an inhale of this parable. Many parallels run through the two parables, like when and where it was spoke, to whom it was spoken and such.

This post will attempt to show some possible distinctions that may be of interest.

Let’s take a look at

The Parable of The New Wine

Matthew 9:17

17 Neither is new wine put into old wineskins. If it is, the skins burst and the wine is spilled and the skins are destroyed. But new wine is put into fresh wineskins, and so both are preserved.”

As mentioned in our introduction, we have a number of questions that will provide guidance in understanding each of these parables. Let’s review and delve into this parable

Questions to Consider

Who were the audience?

Matthews dinner guests, and those asking the question – John’s disciples, along with possibly some Pharisees. (See previous post for a few details)

When did the Lord give this parable?

During or after the meal with Matthew. (See previous post for a few details)

Where did the Lord teach the parable?

This parable was likely spoken in Capernaum, Matthews home town. (See previous post for a few details)

Why did the Lord give this message?

Changes are a comin’, as Bob Dylan used to sing, and never was this concept actualized more than during the time of Jesus among His people!

What was the message for the original audience?

This is the question that may supply some distinction between the two parables. The new cloth was a parable teaching of an external patch on an unyielding garment. This parable speaks of a growing medium in an unyielding container.

There is a difference.

Consider the stresses on a unyielding bag when the pressure exceeds its limitations! It is an instantaneous explosion. (Sorry ’bout that but I am an engineer, so I tend to go anal at times!). The Greek word used for “burst” in this passage actually may be translated as “break forth”. The wine is gonna break forth! The wineskins ain’t gonna hold it back.

At the very least, the useful wineskin becomes unusable. Both parables speak of the original garment/wineskin being destroyed, and the new patch/wine being wasted.

But the difference is also to be seen in the growth of the new medium. The wine grows (or ferments) and nothing stops it. The patch of new cloth actually shrinks in relation to the old garment, which creates the stresses leading to future tears. (Again with bringing up the pressure / stresses thing, Carl!)

In the first parable, the New Covenant is compared to a shrinking material (the new cloth), and in this parable (the new wine), the New Covenant is compared to a growing medium.

The ramifications are kinda interesting in my mind! Let’s consider in the next question.

What is the message for us today?

In some ways the New Covenant causes a shrinking of obligations (at least seemingly to the religious man).

“Shrinking?”

Let me try to explain before you dismiss this thinking.

During the ministry of the Lord, the Sabbath became a huge issue between the Pharisees and the Master. Continually, the Master challenged the conventional wisdom of the currently accepted observance practices of the Sabbath. Check out my recent series Jesus on the Sabbath. It seems the Sabbath observance is an issue that is simplified in the New Covenant, that the Sabbath is a Person we can rest in. This is an incredible truth that I personally need to appropriate in my life.

The sabbath simpler, “smaller”? Kinda, but the reality is so much deeper!

One more example to consider.

For the first century church, much discussion was had over circumcision. To be in right relationship with the God of creation, the Old Testament directed the Jewish people to adopt circumcision as a sign of being the people of God. Many in the first century church fought to retain this obligation for the new covenant people of God, and yet the stories of the conversion of the Gentiles logically showed that physical circumcision did not make a difference. The New Covenant speaks of circumcision of the heart, and of the new life given to us a believers.

Physical circumcision simpler, “smaller”? Kinda, but the reality of heart circumcision is so much deeper.

Do you remember the time your heart was circumcised?

“Growing?”

The New Covenant is a covenant that is alive, living via the life of the Living God. The Spirit of God is the “wine” in the believer (or globally, the church) that will not stop growing.

The believer (or church) will continually be challenged by the “new wine” of the Spirit of God to break out of old structures and religious restrictions that are constantly being laid upon and into their lives.

When was the last time you pushed a religious teaching out of your belief system (and subsequently out of you life) because the Word expanded your understanding?



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Parable Surprises – The New Cloth

As our first parable, the story of the new cloth is closely linked to our second parable, that is the parable of the wine skins (Next weeks study!).

During our Lord’s teaching, the two parables were separated possibly by only an inhale of the Lord, but there are a few differences I would like to highlight in the next post, so we will only consider the new cloth parable with this post.

Let’s take a look at

The Parable of the New Cloth

Matthew 9:16

16 No one puts a piece of unshrunk cloth on an old garment, for the patch tears away from the garment, and a worse tear is made.

As mentioned in our introduction, we have a number of questions that will provide guidance in understanding each of these parables. Let’s review and dig into this parable.

Questions to Consider

Who were the Audience?

As we read through the immediate context, we see that previous to the parable being given, Jesus was calling (and eating) with Levi the publican, the tax collector that eventually became the apostle Matthew. Therefore, the audience most likely were those who were eating with Levi., and the ones providing the questions.

When did the Lord give this parable?

As this is the first parable it goes without saying it was relatively early in the career of Jesus. Specifically, it seems to be given right after Jesus sat down with sinners and publicans, and the Pharisees started questioning His eating habits. During the supper at Levi’s house, the Pharisees started finding fault. (Did they ever stop finding fault?)

Matthew 9:11

11 And when the Pharisees saw this, they said to his disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?”

A short time later, (it appears) John’s disciples come to the Master with further questions. It is interesting that these disciples group themselves in with the Pharisees in their eating habits, but I am getting ahead of myself!

Where did the Lord teach this parable?

This parable was likely spoken in Capernaum, Matthews home town.

Why did the Lord give this message?

We must remember who spoke these words. Jesus is not simply a good teacher or “nice guy”. He is, in this instance, One preaching the Kingdom of God to a nation that is committed to the pharisaical understanding of the Old Testament.

The Pharisees considered fasting as a sign of piety, and would express their “godliness” openly. Fasting, per the Old Testament, as I read it, seems to be linked with repentance and contrition.

John’s disciples may be following this spirit of fasting, but during the time the Messiah is on earth, even that right spirit of contrition over sin is to be left behind. Jesus Himself says

…Can the wedding guests mourn as long as the bridegroom is with them?

What was the message for the original audience?

As mentioned earlier, we must remember Who is giving this teaching out. Throughout the gospels, Jesus is constantly informing the nation of Israel (and it’s leaders) that the Messiah has arrived, the Kingdom is now.

In this instance Jesus speaks of Himself as the Bridegroom. What would the hearers understand when they heard this?

Throughout the Old Testament, God is spoken of as the husband of Israel. Consider one of many verses that speak to this truth.

Isaiah 54:5

5 For your Maker is your husband, the LORD of hosts is his name; and the Holy One of Israel is your Redeemer, the God of the whole earth he is called.

A husband to one wife. So how could Jesus say He is the bridegroom? This created a conflict in my mind for many years, until I read a couple of verses that shook my thinking.

Isaiah 50:1

1 Thus says the LORD: “Where is your mother’s certificate of divorce, with which I sent her away? Or which of my creditors is it to whom I have sold you? Behold, for your iniquities you were sold, and for your transgressions your mother was sent away.

Isaiah is speaking to the people of Israel, and telling them the reason their mother (The nation of Israel) was sent away into captivity. The transgressions of the nation caused the divorce decree to be given. Israel was no longer the wife of Jehovah.

Jeremiah speaks of the Judah playing the whore, even though the northern nation of Israel was sent away with a decree of divorce.


Jeremiah 3:8

8 She saw that for all the adulteries of that faithless one, Israel, I had sent her away with a decree of divorce. Yet her treacherous sister Judah did not fear, but she too went and played the whore.

This is incredible. Not only for my understanding of divorce within the Christian community, but more so, for the impact of Jesus statement.

A new wedding, a new covenant with God was being offered to those who would hear it, who would accept it, who would follow.

The days of repentance and sorrow were to be over with while the Bridegroom was on earth. These are days of celebration, of a new opportunity to relate to and love God. No sorrow. This brief time of Jesus sojourn on earth was to be of the greatest celebration!

And Jesus speaks the parable of the new cloth.

It is detrimental to both the old garment and the new cloth to mend the old garment with new cloth. Wash that garment a few times and the new patch with shrink, and the old garment will not be flexible enough to adjust. The new cloth will be wasted and the old garment will be further destroyed. (Nowadays, with pre-shrunk materials, patching has some limited success, but the point of the parable is mismatched covenants, and not new technology!)

Flexibility for the New Covenant, the New Cloth.

Can the old garment of the religious order in Israel accept the new? This is a huge challenge to the people of Israel, and an insurmountable problem to some of the leadership.

The patch could not fix the garment! The garment was not flexible enough. Will the people (and the leadership) of Israel abandon the old garment or cling to the new? Or will they try to combine both, and make the situation worse?

We know the end of the story.

What is the message for us today?

This is the difficult part of the post, where I make my estimation of this parables application.

Old Covenant in the New Covenant

Christians have to grapple with the relationship of the Old Testament (OT) religious order with the New Covenant (NC) we are living under. Over the centuries, the church has wavered between completely accepting the OT norms into our NC life, and rebelling from the OT order of things.

I would suggest an example of accepting the OT in the NC is the confusion of every believer being a priest (check out 1 Peter 2:5,9) and the designation of a church clergy.

Where did the concept of church clergy come from? I would suggest that this concept of an order of people elevated to an office above the common believer smacks of the OT order.

Does God use this system or order in the church? Of course. He is God and can use all things to His glory.

But the question remains for the reader to consider. Is this an example of the Old Testament order of things creeping into the New Covenant life?

Can you think of another instance where the Old Testament (garment) is being repaired with the New Cloth?

Personal Application

Personally, I need to be flexible. I need to cling to the truth of the gospel, and yet be flexible in the application of the truth of the Word. This is a daily challenge since I am a “dyed in the wool” religious fella. (Aren’t we all?)

Is there something in my life that is not being ruled by the love of God, but simply by a tradition or religious history.

An example might be such.

My early life in Christianity taught me many things, and I am thankful for the men and women who took the time to show me the Scriptures. One Scripture that was given to me by a dear brother was on the topic of divorce in the Christian community.

Malachi 2:16

16 “For I hate divorce,” says the LORD….

This topic comes up since we breached it above, but early on, I made a clear stand on the topic of divorce. It seemed so obvious! God does not allow divorce in the Christian community!

Take a look at the verse above. It seemed so obvious, and I felt I was taking the moral high ground which would make God proud of me – how foolish now that I said it out loud!

God hates divorce – this hasn’t changed. Does God allow for divorce? Yes, under certain conditions, the believer is allowed to consider divorce. We can consider these conditions (I think there are two conditions) in a later post since this one may be getting a bit “long in the tooth”.

Suffice it to say, I had to repent (be flexible) of my understanding, my high moral position, in order to comply with the New Covenant teaching on this subject.

Where are you needing to be flexible (like new cloth) in relation to the Master’s will? I can promise you that if you are in the same struggle I am, that is as a believer, you are struggling with something even today.

Be flexible.

Don’t be such an old garment!



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Parable Surprises – Why?

One sunny day, as Jesus was in the middle of teaching by way of parables, (in the 13th chapter of Matthew) Matthew makes a brief comment that may help us in understanding why Jesus taught in parables.

Matthews first comment is on the regularity of Jesus teaching in parables. His second comment is on the the fulfillment of prophecy in doing so.

I’m sorry – What was that? Teaching in parables was a fullfillment of prophecy?

Hang on – we will get to it, but first lets look at the passage from the gospel of Matthew.

Matthew 13:34-35

34 All these things Jesus said to the crowds in parables; indeed, he said nothing to them without a parable.

35 This was to fulfill what was spoken by the prophet: “I will open my mouth in parables; I will utter what has been hidden since the foundation of the world.”

Verse 34 seems to be telling us that Jesus limited Himself to teaching only in parables, yet we know that He taught in many ways, sometimes with object lessons, or with a simple direct narrative. He is the Great Teacher, and exercised many methods of teaching.

So what is Matthew saying? At this time in Jesus ministry, and with the current audience, He taught them with parables. That, in my opinion was a simple observation. Verse 35 is where I am struggling.

A Difficulty – Apostolic Interpretation

My first difficulty is the fact that this method of teaching is a fulfillment of prophecy. Let’s consider the Old Testament verse we find the prophecy in.

Psalm 78:2

I will open my mouth in a parable; I will utter dark sayings from of old

It appears that the psalmist is stating the current condition for his writing, that is, he will open his mouth in a parable. It is his chosen method of teaching in his current historical context. As a young believer, reading through the Old Testament, there were prophecies that were obvious, such as Isaiah 53 or Psalm 22, concerning the Messiah. Psalm 78, without the apostles direction, would not have occured to me as prophetic.

This is critical, for the apostles are the teachers of truth, based on the Lords method of reading the Old Testament.

Which makes this next passage so amazing.

A Difficulty – Parabolic Reasons

The Lord supplied the reason for speaking in parables in the following verses.

Matthew 13:13-15

13 This is why I speak to them in parables, because seeing they do not see, and hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand.

14 Indeed, in their case the prophecy of Isaiah is fulfilled that says: “‘”You will indeed hear but never understand, and you will indeed see but never perceive.”

15 For this people’s heart has grown dull, and with their ears they can barely hear, and their eyes they have closed, lest they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears and understand with their heart and turn, and I would heal them.’

Again, let’s consider the passage Jesus is referring to in verse 14.

Isaiah 6:9

And he said, “Go, and say to this people: “‘Keep on hearing, but do not understand; keep on seeing, but do not perceive.’

God is speaking to Isaiah, telling him that the people of his day will hear the words, but not understand the message. When I read this passage, it seems to be directed to the people Isaiah was ministering to over 700 yrs before the Messiah. I wouldn’t have seen this as prophetic, and that is why the apostolic interpretation of the Old Testament is such an important concept to grasp as we read through the New Testament.

As amazing as the apostolic interpretation of the Old Testament is (which is such a gift!), the reason why the parables are Jesus’ preferred teaching method is even more amazing.

Jesus tells His apostles that the reason He teaches in parables is to teach only to the teachable. (And yet some of his disciples didn’t understand the parables!) He tells stories that only those who are willing and able to hear can understand. The people He is teaching at this time, that do not “hear” Him, only become deafer and blinder.

Another Feature of Grace

Truly amazing when you think of the loneliness of the Master as He taught. No-one was getting it! How frustrating. The Master Teacher came to earth, spent His days speaking out truth, and yet His best students/disciples were struggling with understanding the message.

What hope do we have? The Spirit of God and prayer are critical for this effort. As I have quickly reviewed the parables in accumulating them for the study, I am concerned I may be biting off more than I can chew.

No – that is wrong. I am definetly biting off more than I can chew. I need guidance and strength to understand, see and hear His message.

I do hope you will venture along with me on this trek. It promises to be a whopper!



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Parable Surprises – Introduction

The parables have often caught my attention and, if dwelt on, usually cause me surprise. I often enter a parable with a presupposition, and leave with a different conclusion.

Welcome to Considering the Bible, and our newest series, looking at the Parables of the Lord. The following posts will consider the stories Jesus “laid down beside” our earthly experiences to explain a heavenly, spiritual existence He was re-introducing to the nation of Israel, and eventually the entire earth.

What is a “Parable”

I suppose it is incumbent upon me to explain the concept of a parable. The word “parable” comes from the root greek word παραβάλλω, paraballō.

This word is made up of two greek root words.

  • παρά (G3844)
    • to be with, to be beside..
  • βάλλω (G906)
    • cast, put, thrust, lie

Simply by putting these two terms together, we see that a parable is a story that is “cast down beside” something. Jesus provided short stories of general earthly truths that would illuminate His hearers (if they wanted to hear the message) of a heavenly or spiritual truth.

Why a Series on the Parables

I have never sought to methodically go through the parables in an intentional way, and this blog will give me the structure to attempt this study.

Each post will seek to address the following items

  • Who were the audience when Jesus spoke these words?
    • Was it a private teaching to only his inner circle, or to the population at large? This may have significant bearing on the intent of the message!
  • When did the Lord give this parable?
    • I suspect we may find some enlightenment with understanding when a parable was given by the Lord.
  • Where did the Lord teach the parable?
    • The location of the message may also give us insight as to the purpose of the parable.
  • Why did the Lord give this message?
    • Although we will seek to address this question specifically for each parable, our next post will look at this question in a general manner.
  • What was the message for the original audience?
    • If we get this, it may help with the next question!
  • What is the message for us today?
    • This is the crux of the matter, and only after understanding the intent of the message for the original hearers may we come to an accurate application for our lives. This is the goal!

A spreadsheet of the parables in chronological order is supplied at the beginning of this series. As the series progresses, updates may be required.

The parables, chronologically ordered, matching the spreadsheet noted above may also be downloaded for your information and study.

I am currently using the ESV for the text.

I do hope you will follow along as we Consider the Bible and the message we may find in the parables of the Lord



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Thanks again for coming to visit. I hope you found something of interest in this post and would appreciate a comment, to begin a discussion.