New Testament · Parables · Simple Truths

Parable Surprises – Wicked Servants

In our last post on the parables, (See Parable Surprises – Two Sons), we watched as Jesus reached out to the Jewish leaders, seeking to find a willingness on their part to repent. He spoke of their rejection of John the Baptist and of His own ministry, and of how they yet would not change their minds.

This parable turns a page. No longer is the opportunity granted, but the Kingdom is going to be taken away from them.

Let’s read this sobering parable.

Matthew 21:33-44

33 “Hear another parable. There was a master of a house who planted a vineyard and put a fence around it and dug a winepress in it and built a tower and leased it to tenants, and went into another country. 34 When the season for fruit drew near, he sent his servants to the tenants to get his fruit. 35 And the tenants took his servants and beat one, killed another, and stoned another. 36 Again he sent other servants, more than the first. And they did the same to them. 37 Finally he sent his son to them, saying, ‘They will respect my son.’ 38 But when the tenants saw the son, they said to themselves, ‘This is the heir. Come, let us kill him and have his inheritance.’ 39 And they took him and threw him out of the vineyard and killed him. 40 When therefore the owner of the vineyard comes, what will he do to those tenants?” 41 They said to him, “He will put those wretches to a miserable death and let out the vineyard to other tenants who will give him the fruits in their seasons.” 42 Jesus said to them, “Have you never read in the Scriptures: “‘The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone; this was the Lord’s doing, and it is marvelous in our eyes’? 43 Therefore I tell you, the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people producing its fruits. 44 And the one who falls on this stone will be broken to pieces; and when it falls on anyone, it will crush him.”

Questions to Consider

Who were the audience?

Luke 20:9 states that Jesus began to tell this parable to the people. Mark 12:1 simply tells us that he began to speak to “them”. The order of the gospel of Matthew implies that the parable was spoken to the Jewish leaders that had been interacting with the Messiah in the previous parable.

When did the Lord give this parable?

This parable was delivered to the people of Israel as His ministry was coming to a close, and the cross was casting it’s shadow over the Son of God.

Where did the Lord teach the parable?

The Lord was in the temple of God delivering this parable. Both Luke and Matthew provide this parable as a continuation of a discussion in the temple.

Why did the Lord give this message?

This is sometimes the hardest question to answer in this series, for the motivation of a parable sometimes isn’t as clear as I would like. (And sometimes the reason for giving the parable is a bit difficult to accept). This parable is the first that we have come up against where the judgement of national Israel is clearly pronounced. Jesus is entering into a time where He provides the Jewish leadership the national consequences of their rejection of God. His reason for providing this parable is two fold; to declare the loss of kingdom status to national Israel, and to call individuals into the everlasting kingdom.

What was the message for the original audience?

Jesus presents a microcosm of the history of Israel in a picture of a landowner. This landowner has invested much time and effort in creating a vineyard out of bare land, fencing the area, installing a winepress, building a guard towner and providing purpose for those who became the tenants of the vineyard. After all the work was completed in building the vineyard, the landowner trusted to tenants to provide him with his share of the fruits of his labor.

Remember that as tenants, they were joining in on the benefit of the vineyard, receiving a portion of the fruit for their management of the vineyard. The tenants did not own the vineyard, but they were safe, they had purpose and they were productive. At least that was the intent.

The parallels with the history of national Israel seems so obvious to us as we look on this parable after the fact. Often in the Old Testament, the God of Jacob would refer to Israel as a vineyard. Let’s read Isaiah 5:1-7 to see if Jesus may be taking advantage of the Old Testament writings in providing this parable of the wicked tenants.

Wild Grapes

1 Let me sing for my beloved my love song concerning his vineyard: My beloved had a vineyard on a very fertile hill. 2 He dug it and cleared it of stones, and planted it with choice vines; he built a watchtower in the midst of it, and hewed out a wine vat in it; and he looked for it to yield grapes, but it yielded wild grapes. 3 And now, O inhabitants of Jerusalem and men of Judah, judge between me and my vineyard. 4 What more was there to do for my vineyard, that I have not done in it? When I looked for it to yield grapes, why did it yield wild grapes? 5 And now I will tell you what I will do to my vineyard. I will remove its hedge, and it shall be devoured; I will break down its wall, and it shall be trampled down. 6 I will make it a waste; it shall not be pruned or hoed, and briers and thorns shall grow up; I will also command the clouds that they rain no rain upon it. 7 For the vineyard of the LORD of hosts is the house of Israel, and the men of Judah are his pleasant planting; and he looked for justice, but behold, bloodshed; for righteousness, but behold, an outcry! – Isa 5:1-7 ESV

How could the Jewish leadership have been so blind as to not see where Jesus’ parable was heading? Sure, Isaiah was referring to bad fruit, and Jesus was referring to bad management, but the similarities are amazing in the set up of the parable. Isaiah provided the very theological framework defining the nation of Israel, that Jesus used in this parable. How could they have been so blind?

The message for the first century audience? Run! Run as fast as you can from the trust you may have in the leadership of the nation of Israel. RUN!

Trusting in the national status of Israel as God’s display of His kingdom was coming to an end. Babylon took them out over 500 years ago, and the utter final destruction of the theocratic nation of Israel, as we will learn of in future parables is within a generation. The management (leadership) has a track record of actively working against God, killing God’s servants and now conspiring against the Son of the landowner. Jesus again prophecies of his own death at the hands of the Jewish leadership, even to the detail of His death being outside of the vineyard!

The Jewish leadership/tenants defined their own destruction in their response to Jesus.

Two Stone Passages

Jesus concludes His parable with the very Scriptures the Jewish leadership claim to trust! Two stone passages, centered on the Lord Jesus.

The first passage, Psalm 118:22, the Messiah is depicted as the corner stone for an edifice, a building that God is building, but that is rejected (not ignored) by the tenants. The most important stone of the entire construction! Thrown away by the builders. Utter foolishness, or better said – utter rebellion!

The next “stone” passage refers back to Daniels dream of the great statue of Nebuchadnezzar. The stone (Messiah) would destroy the kingdoms and become a great mountain, filling the entire earth. Daniel 2:44 is instructive

And in the days of those kings the God of heaven will set up a kingdom that shall never be destroyed, nor shall the kingdom be left to another people. It shall break in pieces all these kingdoms and bring them to an end, and it shall stand forever, – Dan 2:44 ESV

The everlasting kingdom (that shall never be destroyed) will be established out of the destruction of the existing national kingdoms the Stone destroys. Being everlasting, this kingdom will stand forever and not be left to another people. The kingdom set up will be the final kingdom. Previous kingdoms will be destroyed. Jesus is clearly including Israel with those kingdoms, when he concludes

43 Therefore I tell you, the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people producing its fruits.

Like the Master said earlier – It (the everlasting kingdom) shall break in pieces all those kingdoms, bringing them to an end. But what of an individual application to this tectonic prophecy concerning a nation?

And the one who falls on this stone will be broken to pieces; and when it falls on anyone, it will crush him. Matthew 21:44

The Stone falls on You

The text states it will crush whoever it falls on. If any of you are reading along with me in my Psalms for Psome series, (See Psalms for Psome – Ps 35 – B) we discussed the wicked as chaff. The same general picture is provided here.

When Jesus is giving this truth, the Greek word He uses for crushing (likmaō) also refers to grinding to powder, to a chaff. This image is of a grinding stone in a mill, cleansing away the chaff from the grain by winnowing. Not only a crushing, as if that is not dire as it is, but the subsequent casting to the wind, allowing the wind to carry the waste away.

Why would anyone let the Stone fall on them?

You Fall on the Stone

To fall (piptō) upon the Stone has many uses in the New Testament, but a few are instructive.

To fall upon the Stone can simply mean to fall prostrate. To agree with His authority over your life, to relinquish your own lordship and follow after Him. Many in Israel were looking to the Messiah, and more would come. Many, many more would fall upon the Stone.

One other use of (piptō) is to describe the decent from a state of prosperity, or to lose authority, to no longer have force. Is this not striking at the very heart of the Jewish leaderships core sin? They would not bow to the authority of John the Baptist, and they are heading to greater sin by rejecting the Source of all authority.

What is the message for us today?

The message is the same for us as it was for the individuals hearing the message two millennium ago. You have a choice to allow the Stone to fall on you, or to fall on the Stone!

Which will it be? There is no other option. He has not provided any other option to choose, and don’t deceive yourself that you have any special status before Him through works, beliefs or bloodlines. He has not made that available!

He is the only One we are to trust.


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.

Follow Considering the Bible on WordPress.com

New Testament · Parables · Simple Truths

Parable Surprises – Two Sons

I got kids. This parable rings true. None of my kids were consistently like the second one, but occasionally…

Let’s read the passage and think on this message from the Father and His Son.

Matthew 21:28-32

28 “What do you think? A man had two sons. And he went to the first and said, ‘Son, go and work in the vineyard today.’ 29 And he answered, ‘I will not,’ but afterward he changed his mind and went. 30 And he went to the other son and said the same. And he answered, ‘I go, sir,’ but did not go. 31 Which of the two did the will of his father?” They said, “The first.” Jesus said to them, “Truly, I say to you, the tax collectors and the prostitutes go into the kingdom of God before you. 32 For John came to you in the way of righteousness, and you did not believe him, but the tax collectors and the prostitutes believed him. And even when you saw it, you did not afterward change your minds and believe him.

Questions to Consider

Who were the audience?

Matthew 21:23 informs us that the chief priests and elders of the folks who came to Jesus, but not as followers, but as adversaries, challenging His authority. They really didn’t know who they were dealing with now did they?

When did the Lord give this parable?

This parable was given during Jesus time in Jerusalem. For a helpful document, providing a list of all the events in Jesus Life, check out the following download.

Where did the Lord teach the parable?

Matthew 21:23 let’s us know that Jesus was in Jerusalem, even in the temple of God. His Father’s House

Why did the Lord give this message?

This parable seems to be a direct response to the chief priests and elders challenging the authority of Jesus. The Master replied to the two part question of

By what authority are you doing these things, and who gave you this authority?” Matthew 21:23b

by asking a question of His own.

This is instructive on it’s own, since we are sometimes asked questions as believers that have no simple answer, or that cannot be answered with a yes/no response. This is not the time to be defensive, apologetic or to cower, but to go on the offensive and expose the weakness of their own worldview. And what better way than to ask them a question that will cause them doubt.

Of course in this passage, the Jewish leaders would not answer, since either response would cause them heartache and trouble, so they simply refused to answer. In like manner, the Lord accepted that, informed them they had no response to their original question coming, and them launched off into this parable we are considering today.

What was the message for the original audience?

After the Jewish leadership refused to answer, Jesus opens the discussion with another question.

What do you think? He is giving these Jewish leaders a chance to reason, think and maybe admit of their incorrect assumptions!

The parable is a simple one (seemingly) in that it describes one who has authority (the man with two sons) and the two sons. Jesus equated the man in the parable with John the Baptist. (Remember this parable is a result of the previous discussion about John the Baptists, and Jesus authority.)

It seems obvious, that after the parable is completed, that the two sons represent two classes of people in the audience. The first son appeared rebellious, but actually obeyed the fathers will. The second son appeared obedient, but actually rebelled against the fathers will.

The message is clear. Sinners and tax collectors were pictured in the first son, the son who appeared rebellious but actually believed the message from John. First century Jewish leadership, the very people Jesus was talking to, were pictured in the second son, the son who said great things, but refused to believe, refused to enter the Kingdom.

Jesus equates going to work in the vineyard with belief in this a parable. In the parable, the will of the father was for his son’s to work in the vineyard. Jesus equates the sinners and tax collectors as those who were working in the vineyard, while the religious high faluting leadership were simply putting on a good show, talking but not walking!

It is also so good to see the patience of the Master here, as in the last phrase of the parable.

Matthew 21:32

 For John came to you in the way of righteousness, and you did not believe him, but the tax collectors and the prostitutes believed him. And even when you saw it, you did not afterward change your minds and believe him.

Did you catch it?

The leadership have had multiple opportunities to believe. First, when John came. But no, they didn’t believe then. Meanwhile tax collectors and sinners began to follow. Even upon this occurrence, they “did not afterward change your minds and believer him.” That is, believe John the Baptist.

Now they have the One whose shoe John wouldn’t even unlatch, and they still would not believe. How can our Father be so patient? The mercy of God to each of us is far greater than we can comprehend.

What is the message for us today?

Repent of rebellion against the Father when you have a chance, even today.

I am convinced that the Father is seeking repentance from rebellion far more that great swelling words of religious boasting, of speaking how we are righteous and a blessing to God. Speaking of how we are “Righteous in Christ” while hurling hatred at a brother, while committing fornication, or as we lie to a friend is simply covering our sin with great boasting words. We must come to grips with the fact that we have offended many, and if so, must repent before God and the one we sin against.

The father was offended by both the sons rebellions, one by words and one by action. Yet the repentance of the second son brought him into the Kingdom, and was a witness to those still in denial.

Don’t be in denial.

Consider your life, and the many ways you have avoided admitting to wrongdoing against God and man. To offend a fellow believer is to sin against Christ. To hate an enemy is to deny His example and command.

He is Good.


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.

Follow Considering the Bible on WordPress.com

New Testament · Parables · Simple Truths

Parable Surprises – Pharisee and Tax Collector

Luke 18:9-14

9 He also told this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and treated others with contempt: 10 “Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. 11 The Pharisee, standing by himself, prayed thus: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. 12 I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I get.’ 13 But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even lift up his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, a sinner!’ 14 I tell you, this man went down to his house justified, rather than the other. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted.”

Questions to Consider

Who were the audience?

Our first verse defines the audience – The Lord spoke this parable to those who considered themselves righteous, and that treated others with contempt. Oh the trap of self righteousness!

When did the Lord give this parable?

This parable was given within three months of the passion week. For a helpful document, providing a list of all the events in Jesus Life, check out the following download.

Where did the Lord teach the parable?

During the last three months of the Lord’s time in Israel, much of it was spent in Perea, on the eastern side of the Jordan, and finally in Jerusalem.

Why did the Lord give this message?

Jesus had been battling the Pharisees in proclaiming the message of the Kingdom of God throughout His ministry and as His message was taking hold, it became obvious that religion was the greatest hinderance to the gospel. Jesus often preached of the requirements of faith, humility, love and forgiveness. Religious adherence fostered pride, isolation and contempt for others not so “faithful”.

This parable highlights the stark difference between a religious man, the Pharisee, and a follower of the true God, (a tax collector!) along with the resultant fruits.

What was the message for the original audience?

The message was simple for His audience. Religious pride separates them from the Father. Note that in Luke 18:14, Jesus teaches that the Pharisee is not justified. Between the two men, the beggar only was justified. No one else.

The very justification that the Pharisee gloated in was not in his possession. The very justification the tax collector admitted to not deserving, became his very own identity – a justified man!

The Kingdom of God is an upside down kingdom for those of us entrenched in a religious system!

What is the message for us today?

I suppose the message for the original audience is the same for the modern audience, and yet one item nags me in my thinking.

Luke links the attitude of treating others with contempt to the Pharisees boasting of his religious life.

Is this not a red light in our lives, that if you consider other Christians less than yourself, for what ever reason you use the justify your thinking, you may be exhibiting the very arrogance the Pharisee was enslaved in?

Heck, not just other Christians, but anyone we come into contact with, if our attitude is that of contempt, brings upon us the very same judgement received by the Pharisee.

Personally, I have spent years of pride (even more than I exhibit currently), in considering others as those who are despicable, contemptible and of no account. This is an attitude of judgement and worthy of exposing in all of our lives.

When was the last time in church you considered someone less than you? That had a different opinion that was not worthy of your time. That was less in God’s sight than yourself?

How about at your work, where there are many who may irritate you, and that you secretly curse.

How about at home, with loved ones, feeling that you deserve respect, or that others are there to serve you. That certain tasks are below you.

My friends, if you consider another to be of no account because you are special, it is time to get adjusted!


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.

Follow Considering the Bible on WordPress.com

New Testament · Parables · Simple Truths

Parable Surprises – Persistent Widow and Crooked Judge

Such an interesting parable and personal challenge!

Luke 18:2-8

2 He said, “In a certain city there was a judge who neither feared God nor respected man. 3 And there was a widow in that city who kept coming to him and saying, ‘Give me justice against my adversary.’ 4 For a while he refused, but afterward he said to himself, ‘Though I neither fear God nor respect man, 5 yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will give her justice, so that she will not beat me down by her continual coming.'” 6 And the Lord said, “Hear what the unrighteous judge says. 7 And will not God give justice to his elect, who cry to him day and night? Will he delay long over them? 8 I tell you, he will give justice to them speedily. Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?”

Questions to Consider

Who were the audience?

Earlier in Luke 17, Jesus begins His current teaching in response to the Pharisees questioning Him of when the kingdom of God would come. He provided a quick response and then turned to His disciples, and began to teach of their desire to see one of the days of the Son of Man, and yet will be disappointed. His teaching is directed to His disciples, using a question offered by those who considered Him the enemy.

When did the Lord give this parable?

This parable was given within three months of the passion week. For a helpful document, providing a list of all the events in Jesus Life, check out the following download.

Where did the Lord teach the parable?

During the last three months of the Lord’s time in Israel, much of it was spent in Perea, on the eastern side of the Jordan, and finally in Jerusalem.

Why did the Lord give this message?

He provided a response to the Pharisees, as mentioned above, yet the intent of the parable is directed solely to those who will follow the Master through disappointing times.

Periods of extended time will be required of believers, times of waiting and persevering through times when many things are disappointing. Consider the following to understand the context the disciples were possibly understanding. Many may look to the coming of the Lord as being instantaneous, and very soon, and this is a great hope of mine. Even so, come Lord Jesus. And yet, let us not get our eyes of the fact that His final coming may yet be thousands of years away.

The timing of His coming is to be handled with kid gloves in my understanding, and has caused many to experience great disappointment in their expectations.

A few years back, I did a quick study on the Greek word translated as lightning in Luke 17:24 and found a most amazing teaching. His coming is as the sun rise, and not necessarily as the lightning strikes. In relative terms, the sun rise takes “forever” compared to a lightning strike. Consider the implications.

So why did He provide the parable of the persistent widow? Persevere in prayer through disappointing times, times of seemingly unattainable hope, times when all the cards are stacked against you and the Lord is still waiting to answer.

What was the message for the original audience?

Let’s compare the two characters in this parable.

Persistent WidowUnrighteous Judge
Under persecution by enemyLiving in comfort
HelplessNo desire to help others
PersistentNo fear of God
Genuine need of justiceUnwilling to perform his duties
Received in the endSelfishly gave in

The unrighteous judge is definitely a looser. A man who had attained his lot in life and was riding the milk wagon (milking it, as those in my industry speak of folks prior to retirement as simply coasting).

And yet the Master compares our Father in heaven with this unrighteous judge, who simply offered relief to the widow to get her out of his hair. She just kept pestering, nagging, bugging, requesting, bothering the judge. He wasn’t in it for the justice of the matter. He sought relief from his own “adversary”, the persistent widow.

In all the parables so far, Jesus describes our Father as a loving compassionate God. The Old Testament is rife with descriptions of a patient, loving God who reaches out to an unrepentant rebellious nation time and time again. The unrighteous judge is a diametrically opposed description of the loving Father.

And that is the point!

This is a comparison of difference, and the Master is highlighting their need to understand that their prayers will be heard, even in disappointing, discouraging and difficult times.

What is the message for us today?

Consider the character of the judge and compare each trait with your knowledge of the Father.

I will address only one of the traits detailed above, simply due to the fact that it is dear to my heart this morning. The last trait, the trait of selfishly giving in.

How do you understand our Father in heaven?

Do you see Him as a Father who grudgingly provides a few requests to His people, who is reluctant in providing guidance and support, who is hesitant to give His best to those who seek Him? Who would rather not be bothered?

How is it that you understand the Father in such a dishonoring way. He has provided His only Son for our deliverance, giving Him over to the ravages of whipping, the torture of crucifixion and to experience death for our sakes. The Son is not the only One who suffered on that glorious day, on the day when God the Father selflessly provided His most treasured love to His enemies, to those whom He had created and who constantly despised and rebelled against Him!

He has freely, out of an abundance of grace and mercy, provided us all things for our lives and for our future. Even suffering if required in order for us to grow up into mature children, believers who walk, though haltingly, after the Master and seek His ways.

He is good. In the midst of any experience, He is good. I speak as a fool, since I so often fail to live in His goodness. Join me in seeking to remember His goodness in the midst of any difficult time that comes into our lives.

Persevere in prayer, knowing that our Father in Heaven has provided all our spiritual needs, and knows our current temporal needs. Reflect on the goodness of God in the midst of disappointment, in the midst of fears and discouragement.

He is good. Be a “widow” of persistence in prayer!


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.

Follow Considering the Bible on WordPress.com

New Testament · Parables · Simple Truths

Parable Surprises – Workers in the Vineyard

This parable speaks of the benefits of waiting till the last minute to go picking grapes.

No.

Ok. How about this – it speaks of standing around idle in the marketplace.

No no.

Dang – I think I got it! This parable speaks of the benefits of not entering into a contract with an employer.

No no no.

How about we just read the parable and consider the message Jesus is trying to communicate to us.

Matthew 20:1-16

1 “For the kingdom of heaven is like a master of a house who went out early in the morning to hire laborers for his vineyard. 2 After agreeing with the laborers for a denarius a day, he sent them into his vineyard. 3 And going out about the third hour he saw others standing idle in the marketplace, 4 and to them he said, ‘You go into the vineyard too, and whatever is right I will give you.’ 5 So they went. Going out again about the sixth hour and the ninth hour, he did the same. 6 And about the eleventh hour he went out and found others standing. And he said to them, ‘Why do you stand here idle all day?’ 7 They said to him, ‘Because no one has hired us.’ He said to them, ‘You go into the vineyard too.’ 8 And when evening came, the owner of the vineyard said to his foreman, ‘Call the laborers and pay them their wages, beginning with the last, up to the first.’ 9 And when those hired about the eleventh hour came, each of them received a denarius. 10 Now when those hired first came, they thought they would receive more, but each of them also received a denarius. 11 And on receiving it they grumbled at the master of the house, 12 saying, ‘These last worked only one hour, and you have made them equal to us who have borne the burden of the day and the scorching heat.’ 13 But he replied to one of them, ‘Friend, I am doing you no wrong. Did you not agree with me for a denarius? 14 Take what belongs to you and go. I choose to give to this last worker as I give to you. 15 Am I not allowed to do what I choose with what belongs to me? Or do you begrudge my generosity?’ 16 So the last will be first, and the first last.”

Questions to Consider

Who were the audience?

Back in Matthew 19:23, Jesus begins to teach his disciples of the difficulty of a rich person entering into heaven. It appears this parable is an extension of this teaching, especially when you consider the last verse of chapter 19 is identical to the last verse of our parable

When did the Lord give this parable?

This parable was given within three months of the passion week. For a helpful document, providing a list of all the events in Jesus Life, check out the following download.

Where did the Lord teach the parable?

During the last three months of the Lord’s time in Israel, much of it was spent in Perea, on the eastern side of the Jordan, and finally in Jerusalem.

Why did the Lord give this message?

NALC Devotions - November 30, 2017 - North American ...

As mentioned in an earlier answer, this parable was given to the disciples.

As I have often been taught, this parable is focused on the generosity of the Master of the House, and this is true. He is gracious, and his freedom to do as He pleases is emphasized in this parable. And yet, the “punch” at the end of the parable was intended for the disciples.

You see, He purposely told the story to emphasize the Master’s “out of the box” generosity, in order to highlight to those listening to the parable of their own sense of justice.

What was the message for the original audience?

The message to the disciples is simple. Be satisfied with what the Master gives you. Do not let the time of serving define your worth!

How often has He had to teach this direct connection between the Master and His servant in the Word? How often has He had to tell His people to not compare themselves with His other children?

Consider John 21:21- 22

John 21:21-22

When Peter saw him, he said to Jesus, “Lord, what about this man?”
Jesus said to him, “If it is my will that he remain until I come, what is that to you? You follow me!”

What is the message for us today?

The message for us is simple to understand, and yet it is so easy to forget. Remember that the Lord is gracious to all and that comparing our selves with others is foolishness.

2 Corinthians 10:12b

But when they measure themselves by one another and compare themselves with one another, they are without understanding.

How often have you seen a believer getting some attention and we find your heart falling into a jealous funk.

You see a disciple receiving answered prayers and become discouraged, because God isn’t answering your prayers as fast or as often.

You see a follower with (seemingly) no problems, and fall into a victimhood mentality.

Try to understand. Do not be “without understanding”.

The Master is full of mercy, generous to all, but it is His prerogative who and when folks will realize His mercy and we must trust His loving heart to rest in this fact!

Agnusday.org - The Lectionary Comic

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.

Follow Considering the Bible on WordPress.com

New Testament · Parables · Simple Truths

Parable Surprises – The Rich Man and Lazarus

The “go to” parable to learn of the terrors of hell.

How often I have been under preaching and teaching that has used this passage to scare the living out of the congregation. Many preachers/teachers consider this to be the stellar passages that describe, from the lips of Jesus, the eternal fate of the lost and the bliss of the redeemed. Let’s take a few moments to consider.

Luke 16:19-31

19 “There was a rich man who was clothed in purple and fine linen and who feasted sumptuously every day. 20 And at his gate was laid a poor man named Lazarus, covered with sores, 21 who desired to be fed with what fell from the rich man’s table. Moreover, even the dogs came and licked his sores. 22 The poor man died and was carried by the angels to Abraham’s side. The rich man also died and was buried, 23 and in Hades, being in torment, he lifted up his eyes and saw Abraham far off and Lazarus at his side. 24 And he called out, ‘Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus to dip the end of his finger in water and cool my tongue, for I am in anguish in this flame.’ 25 But Abraham said, ‘Child, remember that you in your lifetime received your good things, and Lazarus in like manner bad things; but now he is comforted here, and you are in anguish. 26 And besides all this, between us and you a great chasm has been fixed, in order that those who would pass from here to you may not be able, and none may cross from there to us.’ 27 And he said, ‘Then I beg you, father, to send him to my father’s house– 28 for I have five brothers–so that he may warn them, lest they also come into this place of torment.’ 29 But Abraham said, ‘They have Moses and the Prophets; let them hear them.’ 30 And he said, ‘No, father Abraham, but if someone goes to them from the dead, they will repent.’ 31 He said to him, ‘If they do not hear Moses and the Prophets, neither will they be convinced if someone should rise from the dead.'”

Questions to Consider

Who were the audience?

Luke 16 begins with teaching directed to the disciples, yet the Word informs us that the Pharisees were within ear shot, listening to every word that came out of the mouth of Jesus.

For this parable, it seems obvious that the Pharisees, who were lovers of money, became the intended audience. Hopefully, it landed on a few willing ears that turned to Him, and rejected the love of money in their life. It appears in Acts 15, a number of Pharisees turned to the Lord, and this parable, among many others directed to the Pharisees may have been instrumental in that turning.

When did the Lord give this parable?

This parable was given within three months of the passion week. For a helpful document, providing a list of all the events in Jesus Life, check out the following download.

Where did the Lord teach the parable?

During the last three months of the Lord’s time in Israel, much of it was spent in Perea, on the eastern side of the Jordan, and finally in Jerusalem.

Why did the Lord give this message?

For what purpose would the Lord provide this parable? Why did he provide this story?

Did Jesus give this teaching for future Christians to know of eternal conscious suffering of the wicked in the lake of fire?

Many times when I have heard a message on this passage, the teaching goes directly to the portion describing the condition of the rich man, and of his suffering. Rarely do I hear of the “set up” of the parable, how Luke provides a context of verses 14 through 18 to introduce the parable.

Let’s take a minute to review.

Luke 16:14 – 18

The Pharisees, who were lovers of money, heard all these things, and they ridiculed him. And he said to them, “You are those who justify yourselves before men, but God knows your hearts. For what is exalted among men is an abomination in the sight of God. “The Law and the Prophets were until John; since then the good news of the kingdom of God is preached, and everyone forces his way into it. But it is easier for heaven and earth to pass away than for one dot of the Law to become void. “Everyone who divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery, and he who marries a woman divorced from her husband commits adultery.

Why did the Lord gave a message of a rich man and a beggar? What does the text say? Remember, this is your faith that you are seeking to develop, and to grow into. Forget about all the teaching you have heard on the subject and simply allow verse 14 – 18 to introduce the story.

Let me describe my thinking when I considered the introductory verses above. Some of my questions were…

  • Did Luke introduce this story by speaking of resurrection?
  • Did Luke introduce this parable by talking of the rapture and the end times?
  • Did Luke mention the Lake of Fire, the false prophet, the anti-Christ, the judgement seat of Christ, the Great White Throne…..

Need I go on?

Reread verse 14 and tell me (in the comment section below) why the Lord gave this parable to his intended audience.

What was the message for the original audience?

This is tough! Nevertheless, I shall take a stab at my understanding of the message to the original audience for your consideration. And as usual, a raft of questions flooded my mind, that may not at first seem apparent.

  • Why does the rich man have a dialog with Abraham rather than with God?
    • Did the Pharisees equate Abraham with God?
  • Why is Lazarus brought to Abraham rather than to God?
    • Didn’t the Jews consider God to be the judge of all mankind?
  • Why ask Abraham rather than God to have pity on him?
    • Was Abraham the Jewish equivalent of St Peter for Christians? (I am being waggish in this statement, for St Peter doesn’t have “pity pardons” for believers either!)
  • Does living in luxury make you liable to hell?
    • This is extremely bad news for all in America (and any other first world country), for we live at a level of luxury 90% of the world does not enjoy.
  • Does the rich man ignoring the existence of the beggar seal his fate?
    • This again is extremely bad news for most of us in America, and any other first world country.
  • Does being poor in this life entitle you to enter Heaven?
    • Where does the work of Christ enter into this? If being poor allows entrance to heaven, Christ died unnecessarily.
  • Why do we assume that Lazarus is buried when the story states the poor man died and was carried by the angels to Abrahams side.
    • This last point shows how we insert our assumptions – that Lazarus was buried, therefore in hades. The rich man was in hades. Lazarus was “afar off”, with Abraham.

All of these questions lead me to think that the Lord was not giving doctrinal teaching on the hell or the lake of fire, but used a common story that pagans recited, (and that had become Jewish lore).

What? What heresy are you pushing now Carl?

I don’t often refer to commentaries, but in this instance I would direct the reader to the New International Greek Testament Commentary, on the Gospel of Luke, by I. Howard Marshall. I have highlighted a discussion in the pdf available below (pg 730 – 731 of 1095, or “alt” and click on link in table of contents), and provided a link for your further research.

Was the Lord using a commonly accepted story amongst the Jews to bring home a moral lesson on the love of money? Or was he teaching on the subject of hell, precepts in the story that would be in conflict with Biblical revelation, as in the ability to enter heaven based on personal wealth. It seems to me that this parable/story is not a passage we should depend on for soteriological doctrine, but for life teaching on God’s attitude on our love of money.

Given this background to the story of Luke 16, I would like to suggest a number of parallels in the Word that Jesus may have intended to make the story directly applicable to those within ear shot.

Parallels, Hints and Connections

Looking at the larger context of this parable/story, we find interesting parallels to the Jewish nation and it’s leadership

  • Judah (father of the remaining tribe composing the nation Israel) had exactly five brothers through his mother, Leah.
  • Abraham’s servant was named Eliezer.
    • Lazarus in the Greek!
  • Eliezer had no blood ties to Abraham.
    • The Jewish religion depended heavily on blood lines to justify their religious exclusivity!
  • Eliezer was a “foreigner” from Damascus (Gen. 15:2).
    • An intended parallel to the gentiles of the day?
  • The final statement of Jesus in this parable actually is prophetic
    • The Ones (the Pharisees!) who boasted in trusting Moses and the prophets refused to be convinced though Lazarus was raised from the dead.
    • Jesus summary statement condemns the ones who boasted of trusting in Moses by way of a sign – the rejection of a resurrection! He spoke the truth that would give the Pharisees ample warning of their true condition – that is they did not trust God and love Him

Could this parable be aimed at two parties that Jesus taught on often? The Jewish ruling class, the Pharisees, the “rich man” in the story, and the rejected unclean gentile represented by Lazarus?

What is the message for us today?

First, I would like to mention is that I fear this passage, if used for eschatological teaching (information on hell) may provide more information on the topic than was intended. This passage implies entry into heaven by being poor, and subjection to suffering by being rich. Is there any other passage in the Bible that justifies this teaching?

Luke tells us the end game of the parable, noting that the Pharisees who loved money – they were “rich men” – were in ear shot of the story.

Two messages occur to me for our modern lives.

Message 1 for us today – Don’t love money! Love God. Loving the moolah, the coin, the buck in this passage is associated with ridiculing the Messiah. Not a good thing for the one who says they love the Master!

Jesus summary statement (verse 31) needs to be taken as the purpose of the story, and that even resurrection from the dead will not convince those who do not trust the Old Testament Scriptures. For us today, the same can be said. The Word of God is sufficient for conversion and salvation of our “5 brothers” How often have you heard of some that depend on miracles or signs to convince the lost?

The Lord told the leaders of the religious elite that the great miracle of resurrection would not convince some, and that the lost should “hear Moses and the Prophets”. A resurrection only hardened the leaders resolve to eliminate the One they ridiculed!

Message 2 – Depend on the Word of God, not miracles or signs!

Consider.

Are our religious leaders depending on miracles, signs or such to warn the lost, or to preach to the believer?

When you share the grace of God to your neighbor, do you depend on miracles or signs in your life or on the promise of God provided in the Word of God?

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.

Follow Considering the Bible on WordPress.com


New Testament · Parables · Simple Truths

Parable Surprises – Shrewd Manager

I am writing this introduction before any serious study on this parable for one reason. In my four decades of Christian life, this parable has always caused me concern. I need my readers to understand I may not (most likely will not) have any hard conclusions, and that I may create more questions than answers. You see, this parable seems to imply that Jesus commends a dishonest action.

I just don’t get it.

Lets read the passage and ask for help!

Luke 16:1-8

1 He also said to the disciples, “There was a rich man who had a manager, and charges were brought to him that this man was wasting his possessions. 2 And he called him and said to him, ‘What is this that I hear about you? Turn in the account of your management, for you can no longer be manager.’ 3 And the manager said to himself, ‘What shall I do, since my master is taking the management away from me? I am not strong enough to dig, and I am ashamed to beg. 4 I have decided what to do, so that when I am removed from management, people may receive me into their houses.’ 5 So, summoning his master’s debtors one by one, he said to the first, ‘How much do you owe my master?’ 6 He said, ‘A hundred measures of oil.’ He said to him, ‘Take your bill, and sit down quickly and write fifty.’ 7 Then he said to another, ‘And how much do you owe?’ He said, ‘A hundred measures of wheat.’ He said to him, ‘Take your bill, and write eighty.’ 8 The master commended the dishonest manager for his shrewdness. For the sons of this world are more shrewd in dealing with their own generation than the sons of light.

Questions to Consider

Where was this parable taught?

During the last three months of the Lord’s time in Israel, much of it was spent in Perea, on the eastern side of the Jordan, and finally in Jerusalem.

Who were the audience?

This parable was directed to His disciples. The Pharisees heard the message. They were still lurking about, finding ways to be on the outskirts of the Lord’s following.

When did the Lord give this parable?

This parable was given within three months of the passion week. For a helpful document, providing a list of all the events in Jesus Life, check out the following download.

Why did the Lord give this message?

Asking the five W’s (what, why, where, when and how) when studying a passage can be very illuminating. This particular parable, intended for the disciples, speaks of a believers relation with money, or possessions.

As a matter of fact, the gospel of Luke speak often of how believers are to relate to possessions. From John the Baptist preaching about material goods (Luke 3:11-14) to our last parable about the two sons and their handling of possessions, Luke returns to this theme often. The theme of things!

Also note that the Lord had two audiences. The primary audience of course, were His disciples, and yet the Pharisees, who were lovers of money, were hanging out, lurking about and spying on the One who was seeking their best.

No matter who the audience is, truth is truth. If it cuts, then the cut was necessary.

What was the message for the original audience?

Thankfully, Luke gives us the message intended for the original audience, and does not leave us to wonder of the Lord’s intent in bringing up His commendation of the dishonest manager. But maybe I am assigning blame where there is no blame to be had, for the Lord did not commend the thieving manager. The Lord provided this parable, indicating that “the rich man” was the one commending the thief. This of itself is fairly amazing, that a man who got ripped off, commends the ripper offer. But that is beside the point!

The message is that believers don’t deal with their own people as shrewdly as the men of this world! Consider verse 8

Luke 16:8

The master commended the dishonest manager for his shrewdness. For the sons of this world are more shrewd in dealing with their own generation than the sons of light.

Shrewd

Not a common word for me. Let’s check a definition.

It is the Greek word phronimos, and can be translated as intelligent, wise or prudent. A bit more illumination from Strong’s Dictionary for those readers who are a bit more curious

φρόνιμος phrónimos, fron’-ee-mos; from G5424; thoughtful, i.e. sagacious or discreet (implying a cautious character; while G4680 denotes practical skill or acumen; and G4908 indicates rather intelligence or mental acquirement); in a bad sense conceited (also in the comparative):—wise(-r).

So what is the point Carl? Only that the comparison of believers with non-believers is not flattering for us. Is the Lord referring to the Pharisees at this time, or is He referring to His own people. and by extension to us? That isn’t clear to me. No matter, the statement stands and we need to seek understanding for our selves.

Jesus then tells His followers to make friends for yourselves by using cold hard cash, by using possessions, so that when the moolah, when the coin fails, (and He didn’t say if the penny fails!), we may be received into eternal dwellings.

Okay, now what does that mean? This eternal dwellings thing? Heaven?

I’m telling you, this is one difficult passage. Oh I know the standard teaching is that if we give to the church we will have a greater reception on the shores of heaven, more rewards don’t you know!

But is that what He is saying? Read it one more time carefully.

Luke 16:9

And I tell you, make friends for yourselves by means of unrighteous wealth, so that when it fails they may receive you into the eternal dwellings.

Notice that the reception is not a qualitative reception. In other words, the reception is not speaking of being better if you are more shrewd in using the unrighteous mammon. It seems to be a matter of being received at all.

Like I said above, what is He referring to when He speaks of “eternal dwellings”?

For a consideration of the term “eternal” check out my post “A Study of Eternal / Everlasting” The term dwellings, refers to either a tent or the tabernacle, upon which the temple was fashioned.

Okay, I’m going to take a stab at this, only to get conversation going.

Take the following with a grain of salt and correct me where I am falling down on this thinking, but could Jesus be communicating to His disciples the life of an apostle/itinerant preacher, of distributing possessions amongst other believers, understanding that what “comes around goes around”.

Wow – that is a leap Carl!

There is a bit of support for this, (albeit little) when the Lord sent out His disciples without cash or staff, and speaking of those who would welcome them in to their homes. Luke 9:1-6 . Luke again refers to the disciples and their relation to support amongst the people of God in Luke 10:3-9

Also, in the past, as I was studying the concept of salaried pastors, I came across a passage in the Didache, which is NOT Scripture, yet gives us some direction as to how the church understood money in relation to preachers. The blog post I am referring to is Salaried Pastors? A discussion with a Pastor 3, and you can scroll to the bottom for the quote found in chapter 11 of the Didache.

It is a wee bit shocking!

What is the message for us today?

Going from the intent of the parable for the original audience, which is difficult to say the least, to the intent for us nowadays is a problem on steroids.

Should I give money in order to get to heaven? Remember the passage speaks of giving money in order to be received into eternal habitations! This interpretation is beyond my current understanding, and smacks of being used to fill the coffers of some organizations. But you know how I feel about that, so I won’t go into some rant that wastes both our times.

I suppose I have come clean on the commendation of the Savior to be dishonest, a Savior, “who is such a high priest, holy, innocent, unstained, separated from sinners, and exalted above the heavens”. He did not commend the actions of the dishonest manager. The rich man did. Any story or parable that the Lord spoke does not imply that all the actions performed in the story are of the approval of the Father in heaven. That is simply ascribing too much to any parable under consideration.

Secondly, for my own understanding one thing comes through crystal clear. When it comes to a competition of possessions and people, God wants people to win! Possessions are to be used for people, not the other way around.

Quick story before I leave you today.

Our family spent a few years in northern Quebec, doing mission work, and in that time we came to hear of a term that was common to the area. “Stepping on heads”. At least that is the English translation of the Quebecois phrase.

It’s a term describing the actions of those who use people to get ahead.

Don’t step on heads!

Be a blessing to others with your possessions, sharing and providing help to others for their sake, and not your own.

Nuff said.



Follow Considering the Bible on WordPress.com

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.

New Testament · Parables · Simple Truths

Parable Surprises – Lost Son

If there is a parable that is famous, this is the one! The prodigal son has much in it to speak on, and if we are lucky, I will be able to get my thoughts out in one post, but that is highly unlikely!

But lets get at it, and read the passage.

Luke 15:11-32

11 And he said, “There was a man who had two sons. 12 And the younger of them said to his father, ‘Father, give me the share of property that is coming to me.’ And he divided his property between them. 13 Not many days later, the younger son gathered all he had and took a journey into a far country, and there he squandered his property in reckless living. 14 And when he had spent everything, a severe famine arose in that country, and he began to be in need. 15 So he went and hired himself out to one of the citizens of that country, who sent him into his fields to feed pigs. 16 And he was longing to be fed with the pods that the pigs ate, and no one gave him anything. 17 “But when he came to himself, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have more than enough bread, but I perish here with hunger! 18 I will arise and go to my father, and I will say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you. 19 I am no longer worthy to be called your son. Treat me as one of your hired servants.”‘ 20 And he arose and came to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion, and ran and embraced him and kissed him. 21 And the son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’ 22 But the father said to his servants, ‘Bring quickly the best robe, and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet. 23 And bring the fattened calf and kill it, and let us eat and celebrate. 24 For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found.’ And they began to celebrate. 25 “Now his older son was in the field, and as he came and drew near to the house, he heard music and dancing. 26 And he called one of the servants and asked what these things meant. 27 And he said to him, ‘Your brother has come, and your father has killed the fattened calf, because he has received him back safe and sound.’ 28 But he was angry and refused to go in. His father came out and entreated him, 29 but he answered his father, ‘Look, these many years I have served you, and I never disobeyed your command, yet you never gave me a young goat, that I might celebrate with my friends. 30 But when this son of yours came, who has devoured your property with prostitutes, you killed the fattened calf for him!’ 31 And he said to him, ‘Son, you are always with me, and all that is mine is yours. 32 It was fitting to celebrate and be glad, for this your brother was dead, and is alive; he was lost, and is found.'”

Questions to Consider

Who were the audience?

It is important to understand the original audience to understand a bit better the intent of the message. This second parable is no exception. Lets read the first three verses to ensure we know who is hearing this story for the very first time!

Luke 15:1 Now the tax collectors and sinners were all drawing near to hear him.
Luke 15:2 And the Pharisees and the scribes grumbled, saying, “This man receives sinners and eats with them.”
Luke 15:3 So he told them this parable:

As we pointed out in the last post, we have tax collectors and sinners drawing near to Him! But look – them Pharisees and Scribes are lurking about, checking out this preacher, protecting the nation from heresy and false prophets. What heros!

When did the Lord give this parable?

This parable was given within three months of the passion week. For a helpful document, providing a list of all the events in Jesus Life, check out the following download.

Where did the Lord teach the parable?

During the last three months of the Lord’s time in Israel, much of it was spent in Perea, on the eastern side of the Jordan, and finally in Jerusalem.

Why did the Lord give this message?

This final parable continues with the theme mentioned previously, that is of reckless love for the sought and rejoicing with neighbors when the lost is found.

What was the message for the original audience?

This message speaks of the reckless love of the Father in seeking out both the prodigal and the elder son. Remember who the audience is in this telling of the story, in that the tax collectors and sinners are coming to see the Messiah, along with the guardians of the nation of Israel, the ones who are “working God’s field”!

Two audiences.

Sinners and Tax Collectors

It is obvious that sinners and tax collectors were attracted to the Messiah, and that this story speaks of their return to God the Father, of God’s reckless love to reach His lost and rejected people. It is a story of rejection by the younger son, and of an ever patient Father who waits for the son to come to his senses, humble himself and return to the One who loves him.

Elder Son

The Pharisees were working in the field, “faithful” sons, (which is so graceful of the Lord describe them such!) The Father spoke of the elder son as being with Him always, and that all that was His is the elder sons.

But the issue is the green eyed monster – jealousy.

The elder son wanted to live a sinful life, especially when he mentions prostitutes and wanton living. Sure he stayed behind, but reluctantly! It seems he did not work the farm out of love and devotion to the Father, but out of a sense of duty, or obligation. Seems like a bit of a soulless type of fella, one that didn’t experience joy or love, happiness or friendships. Yes – I am stretching the parable and making some assumptions, but I think somewhat justified. Notice that not once did he consider the pain the younger son experienced, the lostness and fears, the isolation and poverty his own brother must have went through. Kind of a soulless man, living in the grip of jealousy!

The Father

The Father is definitely not your typical Jewish farmer. Of course, there were some in the nation of Israel, in their faithful following of the God of Israel, that leaned into this self sacrificial love, but to go as far as the Father in this story was beyond belief. To be insulted by the younger son by demanding (note that the son didn’t ask politely – just “give me”), and to comply to the sons command, it is just too much! What utter weakness, and granting of such freedom, even to the point of allowing a destructive behavior to be followed by the son.

What type of father is this?

A Father who is self sacrificial, who loves his son in the long term, not the short term, a father who realizes a young heart needs to be hungry before it is satisfied. This father realized the younger son was determined to go, and forcing him to stay may keep him physically on the farm, but in spirit, the son was gone already.

As a matter of fact, it turns out both sons had left the father, but only one had the nerve to “grab the dough”, leave his father and go to a foreign land!

What is the message for us today?

Sinners and Tax Collectors

Do you remember finding out about the reckless love of the Father? I will not duplicate my testimony here, since it is available for my reader to access here. Suffice to say, the abounding love that I began to understand as a condemned man of 21, the intense grace that the Father provided to a sinner such as I, was more than I could have imagined.

If you have not experienced the love of God and the release from the guilt and dominion of sin, reach out to the Savior. Admit your sin to Him, repent of the enemy attitude toward Him, and join the body of believers you will meet as you walk with Him.

The prodigal “came to his senses” and decided to return to his father. Humility and repentance! He was willing to return to the father in a beggars position. He had to experience hunger and deprivation before he “came to his senses”. Is that necessary for you? Will you need to be humbled by your own decisions and the work of death they produce in your life? So unnecessary!

“Come to your senses”, humble yourself, repent of your sin, and trust the Savior for eternal life in the here and now?

Elder Son

Are you a religious man or woman? Keeping all the rules and ensuring each day’s duties are performed for the god you have created in your mind, or through your upbringing? Is it a burden that is continually bearing down on you? Sure you have a reputation of “working on the farm,” of keeping some law and resisting every vice (at least in appearance)?

Give it up, repent of your self sufficiency, and join the family of God. You need to realize that His sacrifice was as much for you as the “sinner” out there. He has given all in order that you can have joy and contentment, peace and an assurance of everlasting love.

The Father

This father that Jesus speaks of is the One who patiently waits. He is the One who supplies what many may consider a destructive freedom to His creation. A freedom that many may argue against and find some way to limit, in order to protect God’s wisdom and holiness.

Yet the Father is the One who is represented, nay identified in the Son, the One who is the Master, yet serves, the Savior who freely forgives, yet was condemned, the King who is sovereign, yet provides freedom to His creation, the Source of all life, and yet was crucified as a common thief or insurgent.

The love of God the Father is beyond description.

I am reminded of an old hymn that describes the impossibility of defining the love of God. Years back, a lady who had just lost her husband to cancer (the week before), sang this song in chapel. It moved me then, and thinking of her reminds me of the beautiful God we have in our Father.

“Could we with ink the ocean fill,
And were the skies of parchment made,
Were every stalk on earth a quill,
And every man a scribe by trade;
To write the love of God above
Would drain the ocean dry;
Nor could the scroll contain the whole,
Though stretched from sky to sky.”



Follow Considering the Bible on WordPress.com

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.

New Testament · Parables · Simple Truths

Parable Surprises – Lost Coins

This parable continues with a theme that the Lord is emphasizing, and will culminate in the lost son, or the prodigal son.

This theme is two fold in my mind, and includes the reckless tenacity of seeking out a lost article (sheep, coin, son) and the joy experienced in heaven when a seeker find the sought, and the sinner repents.

Luke 15:8-10

8 “Or what woman, having ten silver coins, if she loses one coin, does not light a lamp and sweep the house and seek diligently until she finds it? 9 And when she has found it, she calls together her friends and neighbors, saying, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found the coin that I had lost.’ 10 Just so, I tell you, there is joy before the angels of God over one sinner who repents.”

Questions to Consider

Who were the audience?

It is important to understand the original audience to understand a bit better the intent of the message. This second parable is no exception. Lets read the first three verses to ensure we know who is hearing this story for the very first time!

Luke 15:1 Now the tax collectors and sinners were all drawing near to hear him.
Luke 15:2 And the Pharisees and the scribes grumbled, saying, “This man receives sinners and eats with them.”
Luke 15:3 So he told them this parable:

As we pointed out in the last post, we have tax collectors and sinners drawing near to Him! But look – them Pharisees and Scribes are lurking about, checking out this preacher, protecting the nation from heresy and false prophets. What heros!

When did the Lord give this parable?

This parable was given within three months of the passion week. For a helpful document, providing a list of all the events in Jesus Life, check out the following download.

Where did the Lord teach the parable?

During the last three months of the Lord’s time in Israel, much of it was spent in Perea, on the eastern side of the Jordan, and finally in Jerusalem.

Why did the Lord give this message?

This “middle” parable continues with the theme mentioned above, that is of reckless love for the sought and rejoicing with neighbors when the sought is found.

Of course a coin can’t repent, which introduces a wrinkle in the story, emphasizing the seeker and not the sought. The coin has no “will” in this story, such as the sheep in the previous portion, or which will be discussed in the next parable of the lost son.

The coin was misplaced by the owner, (or some stranger in the home) and has no responsibility for it’s condition. This additional wrinkle is interesting and may be a portion of the reason the Lord used this particular example. Would He be describing a parallel condition found in the one sought, or is He emphasizing the efforts of the seeker?

What was the message for the original audience?

As it was described in the previous parable of the lost sheep, one of the messages that shouts out to the original audience is the importance of each possession the seeker looks for.

In the parable of the lost sheep, the shepherd risked 99% of his flock in order to find 1%. I will admit this is ludicrous to my thinking, but for a shepherd in old Israel, that shepherd knew the sheep.

In this parable, the woman sought out one coin, 10% of her silver coins. She tears up her home in order to find that one coin! The coins referred to here are likely drachmas, which represented a days wages. Yet for a common woman, a peasant woman, most of her livelihood is taken care of by making her own cloth, growing her own food, bartering and generally being self supporting, from day to day. These coins may represent her savings and not simply “a days wage”.

This woman wanted all of her coins, just like the shepherd wanted all of his sheep, and upon finding the lost, rejoicing was shared with the seekers friends. Rejoicing! No grumbling or complaining allowed.

What is the message for us today?

In the last parable I asked of your attitude towards “sinners”. Do you receive them as the Lord, accept them and seek to love them, show interest in their lives and trials, or do you simply consider them to be lost and it is their decision, their fault and most can not repent if they wanted to, so….

In this portion of the three parable message, the woman seeks out an inanimate object, a silver coin that has a value associated with it. The coin cannot help in the search. It is simply waiting to be found.

The woman is the seeker, and we understand the woman represents God the Father, as the shepherd in the story before. So we can leave this parable, knowing that we have no responsibility in seeking out the coin, knowing that it is God alone that will search for the coin, will find the coin, and will rejoice over the found coin.

Such may be the conclusion of some who would lean toward a deterministic theology. Taken alone, this parable would seem to support this thinking, but we must admit that the previous and next parable fights against that.

Remember that the sheep in the previous parable wandered off from the flock, which was an unnatural action. The sheep did not wander from the fold simply for no reason. I suggested the attitude of the established religious order within Israel may have been a reason.

The established religious order did not seek those “out of the club”. Jesus did. He received and looked for the ones who were not “in the club”.

If you are “in the club”, whatever that may mean to you, consider those who are not included. The reception of “them” (as opposed to “us”) is at the very heartbeat of these last two parables.

If Jesus has three parables back to back with the same message, that of rejoicing over lost items found, let me ask you – When have you truly rejoiced over a lost one being found? Be careful – the implied message many may hear is of rejoicing that a sinner is converted, get’s baptized, joins a church, begins tithing…

That is not the message that I understand. No conditions are being placed on the lost article in these parables. The rejoicing is over the receiving of the lost one, not the lost ones reaction to being found. This may seem like splitting hairs, but as a believer, I sometimes apply many conditions to my unconditional love for those I know.

Can we love/receive one who is constantly against us, who is arguing against our position, who is mocking our life or who is seemingly settled in a lifestyle of rejection?

Where is my faith, my desire for lost relationships to be reestablished. Jesus is teaching us of His reckless love for all of His “sheep” and for all of His “coins”.

Consider relationships that are broken in your life. Ask for forgiveness. Seek out restoration. Ask for forgiveness for actions you may have committed against them, whether real or perceived! Give up your self importance that may be restricting you from humbly approaching one that the Lord Jesus loves, that you may have inadvertently offended, and you may not even know of.

Ask for forgiveness. Admit your weakness and the love you have for the relationship, the desire you have that considers others, that carries a burden for a neighbor, that seeks out the good of others.

Of course, to be following the Lord, we will not be carrying any grudges, malice, ill will, or resentment towards any, that is, we will have forgiven them of any acts we may have experienced at their hand – it is the way of the Master! Hanging on to offenses from others will only cause the separation to continue, the separation of our lives from the Living God, and from the one who supposedly committed the offence.

How are you receiving others? Have you “found” a coin lately, and the rejoicing that comes with it?



Follow Considering the Bible on WordPress.com

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.

New Testament · Parables · Simple Truths

Parable Surprises – Lost Sheep

This is a tremendously popular parable, especially for use as an evangelistic motivator. I want to warn you though, that when I read it, I find there are other challenges that the Lord may have intended that should cause us and the original audience some pause.

Don’t get me wrong. It is obvious that the intent of the parable is the joy that is experienced in heaven over the restoration/repentance of the sheep/sinner. And yet I personally find other challenges in the parable that I feel we need to consider.

First off though – lets read the passage.

Luke 15:4-7

4 “What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he has lost one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the open country, and go after the one that is lost, until he finds it? 5 And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing. 6 And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and his neighbors, saying to them, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep that was lost.’ 7 Just so, I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance.

Questions to Consider

Who were the audience?

It is important to understand the original audience to understand a bit better the intent of the message. This parable is no exception. Lets read the first three verses to ensure we know who is hearing this story for the very first time!

Luke 15:1 Now the tax collectors and sinners were all drawing near to hear him.
Luke 15:2 And the Pharisees and the scribes grumbled, saying, “This man receives sinners and eats with them.”
Luke 15:3 So he told them this parable:

Ok – so we have tax collectors and sinners drawing near to Him! But look – them Pharisees and Scribes are lurking about, checking out this preacher, protecting the nation from heresy and false prophets. You see, these Pharisees and Scribes are the guardians of the people, the ones who protect the nation of (from?) unwashed sinners, tax collectors, thieves and generally all round bad people – you know anyone that isn’t in their club!!!

When did the Lord give this parable?

This parable was given within three months of the passion week. For a helpful document, providing a list of all the events in Jesus Life, check out the following download.

Where did the Lord teach the parable?

During the last three months of the Lord’s time in Israel, much of it was spent in Perea, on the eastern side of the Jordan, and finally in Jerusalem.

Why did the Lord give this message?

Why did the Lord give this message? It seems obvious, given that tax collectors and sinners are the audience. The Lord describes the reckless love of the shepherd, in abandoning the safe, “obedient” sheep, in order to seek out and find the rebellious sheep, the sinner that had wandered off from the sheep fold, from a safe area.

By the way – why do sheep leave safe areas? Sheep have a very strong flocking instinct and feel safe when gathered together. For a sheep to leave the flock is generally against its nature.

Notice that the Lord opens the parable describing a man, not as a shepherd, and questioning his apparent care for the sheep. It is only a normal shepherd’s care for all His sheep that He recovers the one that is wandering, that He recovers the sinner that is not in the flock. The normal shepherd would seek the sinner!

Sheep also will follow a leader they trust and know.

The normal shepherd would then receive the sinner! And the reaction in heaven is joy, but alas, the reaction on earth by the earthly shepherds seems to be a wee bit different!

What was the message for the original audience?

A normal shepherd loves the lost sheep. A normal shepherd seeks out the abnormal, rebellious sheep. A normal shepherd rejoices in finding the lost sheep.

This “normal” shepherd in the parable is used to describe God the Father in His method of care and love for His sheep in sending the True Shepherd, the One who receives the rebellious, lost sheep of Israel.

Remember the context here – the lost sheep were of the house of Israel. The tax collectors and sinners that were being drawn to the Lord Jesus were those who had rejected the religious leadership of the nation, a leadership who had become oppressive overlords, using the people, instead of caring for them. (Consider a study in Ezekiel for some thoughts on the shepherds of Israel – Ezekiel 34)

Having the lost sheep returned was a matter of great joy for a normal shepherd, in that he would advertise his great joy to his neighbors and friends, speaking of his happiness and not of the lost sheep’s original rebellion. (This might be a topic to consider in another post, but not now!)

Although this parable is often rightfully used to speak of the Lords great love in seeking out the lost sheep, I see also a back handed slap to the Pharisees and Scribes in this parable. They murmured and complained, finding ways to hinder the return of Israel to the living God. They sought to cause resistance to the move of God amongst them, the obvious appeal of the Lord Jesus in accepting, even receiving losers!

What is the message for us today?

Where are you at in “receiving sinners”? It seems to be a priority for the normal shepherd! At work or at home, in the grocery store or at the hardware store, how do you live in front of others? Are you an accepting person, one who is open to those about, or are you suspicious, fearful and self protective? I know I tend that way, and fight against being “offended” by those that are not like me. This is wrong. Of course, accepting the person is not the same as accepting the sin that they may being trapped in. Yet I need to see the person as the one who needs to be received.

The 99

One item that I haven’t discussed in the parable is the normal shepherds abandonment of the 99. As believers, I would consider each of us as a part of the 99. Are you alright in this scenario? With the Lord leaving us behind in seeking out others?

I want to be careful in speaking this way and not extending the parable beyond it’s intended purpose, and yet the message seems to be appropriate. The Lord is always with us, protecting, guiding, providing, and comforting us. And yet the normal shepherd left the 99 behind, making an assumption that they could care for each other, and themselves.

Is that fair? Can we care for ourselves in a manner that would allow a normal shepherd to have confidence in leaving us for a period of time?

In your church, if the shepherd is gone for a period of time, do you pick up the slack, visit those who may be weak, supply for those who have needs, comfort those who are suffering? Or do you take the attitude of simply hanging on until the preacher gets back?

If you are dependent on your local preacher for security, guidance, comfort and protection you may be dangerously close to become one of the sheep that would wander off.

The sheep left behind were not a concern to the normal shepherd in the parable.

What type of sheep are you?



Follow Considering the Bible on WordPress.com

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.

New Testament · Parables · Simple Truths

Parable Surprises – Cost of Discipleship

Price, value, worth, expense, charge, fee, payment, fare, bill, surcharge, invoice – words that are associated with “cost”.

Cost is not a foreign concept to us moderns. As a matter of fact, the list above is a only a small fraction of synonyms available for the concept of cost in our society. One list online included over 1000 synonyms for the concept of cost.

Cost is defined as the amount or equivalent paid or charged for something, or the outlay or expenditure (as of effort or sacrifice) made to achieve an object.

Let’s take a look at a parable that centers around the concept of cost.

Luke 14

28 For which of you, desiring to build a tower, does not first sit down and count the cost, whether he has enough to complete it? 29 Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation and is not able to finish, all who see it begin to mock him, 30 saying, ‘This man began to build and was not able to finish.’ 31 Or what king, going out to encounter another king in war, will not sit down first and deliberate whether he is able with ten thousand to meet him who comes against him with twenty thousand? 32 And if not, while the other is yet a great way off, he sends a delegation and asks for terms of peace. 33 So therefore, any one of you who does not renounce all that he has cannot be my disciple.

Questions to Consider

Who were the audience?

This parable is set up with the proceeding three verses, where the Lord is speaking to “great crowds”.

Luke 14

25 Now great crowds accompanied him, and he turned and said to them,
26 “If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple.
27 Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple.

These verses not only tell us of who Jesus was addressing his comments to, but also the general topic of discipleship. Jesus finishes His discussion of cost with the summary statement of the cost of discipleship in verse 33. But I am getting ahead of myself.

When did the Lord give this parable?

This parable was given within three months of the passion week. For a helpful document, providing a list of all the events in Jesus Life, check out Events of Jesus Life.

Where did the Lord teach the parable?

During the last three months of the Lord’s time in Israel, much of it was spent in Perea, on the eastern side of the Jordan.

Why did the Lord give this message?

He must have been journeying, possibly towards Jerusalem, where the cost of our salvation may have been on His heart, when He turned to warn those who were with Him of the cost of following Him.

What was the message for the original audience?

The basis for this message is found in the verses before, where the Lord speaks of hating father, mother, wife, children, brothers and sisters, – even your own life!

As many who read this know, I have been discussing the concept of hate in the Word with some readers who lean in the theistic determinist camp, (i.e. Calvinists). I understand they take the concept of hatred quite literally in regards to Esau, and by extension, to all those not chosen by God for salvation.

This concept has focused my understanding of the verse in our reading today, in that when the Lord speaks of hatred towards father, mother…..,

In my humble opinion, He speaks of a “priority of love”, not a literal hatred against those whom the Father has commanded us to honor. (That alone introduces a contradiction I can’t get beyond!)

The message for the original audience was to count the cost, to realize that allegiance was to be to Jesus above all others, above every loved one in their life, even above their own self interest! This is radical, extreme, overboard and what the Lord demands from those who say they follow.

This message, just a number of weeks away from the passion of the Christ, was fitting, as a warning to all. It was a volley over the heads of those who claimed allegiance to Him, in order to understand the price they would pay.

Be prepared. Count the cost.

Jesus illustrated the shame of not preparing by speaking of two situations, where both subjects needed to count the cost to accomplish their end game.

First was a builder, one who wanted to build a tower. This I can readily connect with, since I am involved in the building industry. Clients request Class 3 construction cost estimates, in order to make decisions to allocate funds to the specific project under consideration. Providing this type of estimate is difficult, since so many variables are involved. Yet without some plan on paper, it is all just wishful thinking.

My clients need this information in order to count their cost to get a goal accomplished. It is interesting to consider that if the cost is too high, their is no shame in confessing that the project will be abandoned before it begins. No shame at all. The shame comes, as Jesus notes, in laying the foundation, and then not being able to complete it. The foundation will always be visible for all to mock!

Secondly, a king is going out to war, woefully undersized against his opponent. Planning, strategy and wisdom in war is required to decide on his best course of action. If he is a brilliant warrior, his army may succeed, and win the battle. Yet, he needs to understand his opponent, before he can make an informed decision. He must understand his opponent!

Both of these examples have one thing in common – that is the cost of a decision needs to be understood, they needed to count the cost.

What will each man need to pay in order to accomplish his goals?

What is the message for us today?

This is a cost/benefit analysis that the Lord is directing all to perform. I hope I am not becoming too technical in this application, but I trust that all who read the term cost/benefit get a taste of what I am trying to communicate.

Remember, one of the definitions of cost is “the amount or equivalent paid or charged for something, or the outlay or expenditure (as of effort or sacrifice) made to achieve an object.”

The object is to be a disciple of Jesus. The cost is “renouncing all that he has”.

So therefore, any one of you who does not renounce all that he has cannot be my disciple.

ALL?

He must not literally mean “all”! That term must be modified in order to be understood with some clarification, some mysterious adjustment or revision to our common understanding of “everything”. Of course I am being waggish in my last statement, since the term “all” has also been a topic of discussion on a previous post.

Back to our parable.

When the Lord states “all” it is commonly accepted that the term “all” means “all”. And yet it appears that there are many instances where the disciples of the Lord, even after the resurrection, are still in possession of boats, and homes and fields.

Maybe the term all isn’t where the focus of the statement should reside.

Let’s consider the term renounce. This may give us some insight into how we relate to “all” that we are and have.

The term renounce is transliterated from the Greek text apotassō. This term is found in the following verses in the New Testament (italicized)

Mark 6:46 And after he had taken leave of them, he went up on the mountain to pray.
Luke 9:61 Yet another said, “I will follow you, Lord, but let me first say farewell to those at my home.”
Luke 14:33 So therefore, any one of you who does not renounce all that he has cannot be my disciple.
Acts 18:18 After this, Paul stayed many days longer and then took leave of the brothers and set sail for Syria, and with him Priscilla and Aquila. At Cenchreae he had cut his hair, for he was under a vow.
Acts 18:21 But on taking leave of them he said, “I will return to you if God wills,” and he set sail from Ephesus.
2 Corinthians 2:13 my spirit was not at rest because I did not find my brother Titus there. So I took leave of them and went on to Macedonia.

This helps me immensely, since “taking leave” doesn’t imply a breaking of relationship with those being left. In Mark, Jesus left the disciples, those he was counting on to continue His mission, in order to pray, since this was a priority for the Messiah.

In Acts 18, Paul took leave of the brothers, because they were prioritized below God’s requirement on Paul’s mission. He stated he would return, based on God’s will. He wanted to be with them, but had prioritized his life above his desire to be with his friends.

My friends, this parable is about prioritizing the LORD above all, to consider all that you have and are, and your willingness to “say farewell” to all. I am persuaded that this is an ongoing struggle for all Christians, since at the start of anyone’s pilgrimage, he/she doesn’t understand all that will enter their lives during their walk with God.

The most obvious example is the decision to marry or to have children. Prior to these actions, when I read this passage of renouncing all, it was much less complicated than now. Now that I am married and have children, it is a different situation!

Is the condition of “renouncing all” any less binding? Of course not. Is it any less challenging? On the contrary, my struggles only deepen.

Let me give you an example.

At one point in my pilgrimage, I prayed for a certain outcome for the Lord to perform for me. I begged the Lord to answer my prayer, and for weeks heard nothing from Him. I pleaded, bargained, cried out to God, and yet never considered “Thy will be done”

I had to come to the point of allowing one of my children to be taken away from me, before the Lord would answer me in prayer. I had to renounce my will for my child in order for the Lord to be the One whose will I sought. This is no small matter, as many who read may have had similar experiences.

Yet, in all this, the Lord showed tremendous mercy to a poor sinner like I, in that after my repentance and sincere request for His will to be performed, my child was rescued from the danger, and has been allowed to flourish. Of course, there have been other times when the Lord has said no, even after my will has bent to His. This is the will of God!

To those who are struggling with a decision to obey, (and I am speaking to the one typing!) say farewell to those things that are more important than the Lord’s will.

Find the Lord’s will. Focus on the Lord’s will, not your own.



Follow Considering the Bible on WordPress.com

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.

New Testament · Parables · Simple Truths

Parable Surprises – The Great Banquet

The great banquet. The end times? Apocalypse, revelation and the antichrist? Eewwww this could get juicy.

Let’s read the passage and consider the message

Luke 14:16-24

16 But he said to him, “A man once gave a great banquet and invited many. 17 And at the time for the banquet he sent his servant to say to those who had been invited, ‘Come, for everything is now ready.’ 18 But they all alike began to make excuses. The first said to him, ‘I have bought a field, and I must go out and see it. Please have me excused.’ 19 And another said, ‘I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I go to examine them. Please have me excused.’ 20 And another said, ‘I have married a wife, and therefore I cannot come.’ 21 So the servant came and reported these things to his master. Then the master of the house became angry and said to his servant, ‘Go out quickly to the streets and lanes of the city, and bring in the poor and crippled and blind and lame.’ 22 And the servant said, ‘Sir, what you commanded has been done, and still there is room.’ 23 And the master said to the servant, ‘Go out to the highways and hedges and compel people to come in, that my house may be filled. 24 For I tell you, none of those men who were invited shall taste my banquet.'”

Questions to Consider

Who were the audience?

Jesus had been invited to “dine at the house of a ruler of the Pharisees” (Luke 14:1)

Some commentators link this parable with the healing of the demoniac. Although applicable I suppose, I will continue with the flow of thought found in Luke’s telling.

When did the Lord give this parable?

This parable was given within three months of the passion week. For a helpful document, providing a list of all the events in Jesus Life, check out Events of Jesus Life.

Where did the Lord teach the parable?

During the last three months of the Lord’s time in Israel, much of it was spent in Perea, on the eastern side of the Jordan. This particular parable was given at a party.

Why did the Lord give this message?

The Lord had given a parable moments before, concerning who we should invite to parties. (See “Parable Surprises – Giving a Feast”) Out of that parable, some one said to Jesus, “Blessed is everyone who will eat bread in the kingdom of God!”

This is all it took, for I sense the Lord gave this parable ’cause the message just might not have sunk in. Sure, the previous parable was about “losers”, (those who had no influence, and may be considered a burden to society), but this parable had a similar message, directed to a different group of outcasts.

What was the message for the original audience?

You’ve read the parable. The message is simple. Those who are privileged often reject an invitation. The party goers Jesus was speaking to were not only healthy, wealthy, and wise (?), they were of the privileged class of people, the chosen ones whom God called because they were so special, they were the better “lot of people”. Not like those others! They weren’t them!

Three of the privileged were invited to a great banquet.

  • Who buys a field without looking at it?
  • Who buys a couple of oxen without inspecting them?
  • Who marries a wife? You know this one may have some merit, since the OT makes reference to the first year of marriage to be dedicated to no warfare, etc, But honestly, no banquet either? (See Deuteronomy 24:5)

Let’s just agree that these reasons are fairly thinly veiled excuses to avoid saying no the invite!

The party giver was determined, and he went to those he initially invited to bring them in, but to no success. Well servant, the food is getting cold – go get some of them there poor and crippled, blind and lame folk.

Sound familiar to the tone of the earlier parable? Even with that done, there was more room!

Go get those foreigners.

As an aside, this verse was used by a certain dark ages church to justify forcibly converting pagans to Christianity. Certainly an obvious misapplication of this parable. The Masters desire to have guests is very evident with the word choice of compel. Drag them into the party by whatever means necessary.

The word “compel” can be understood to range from asking permission of the invited to threatening or forcing someone to attend.

Compel (anagkazō)

Outline of Biblical Usage

  1. to necessitate, compel, drive to, constrain
    1. by force, threats, etc.
    2. by permission, entreaties, etc.
    3. by other means

It is my understanding that during the crusades this verse was used to justify the horrific manner of “evangelism” the church entered into.

Back to the point, the party giver was determined to have a successful party. He wanted to share his possessions and good fortune with any and all. Kinda sounds like God.

And yet, the punch line has not been discussed yet. Those who reject the invitation, eventually will be refused an opportunity.

What is the message for us today?

However you read this parable, the meaning for us in this modern society is evident. We are invited to the banquet daily, and yet we refuse. A continual refusal will bring about a continual rejection.

Maybe there is an end times flare to this parable, in that in the end, our willingness to accept the invitation is crucial while we have an opportunity.

Isaiah 55:6

“Seek the LORD while he may be found; call upon him while he is near;



Follow Considering the Bible on WordPress.com

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.

New Testament · Parables · Simple Truths

Parable Surprises – Giving a Feast

Christianity is a socially acceptable religion, if you don’t read the Bible. If you read the Bible, the cultural understanding of Christianity and the prescribed actions of Christianity are sometimes light years apart. I think this passage will agree with me.

Let’s read the parable Jesus spoke to the Pharisee who invited Him into His house.

Luke 14:12-14

12 He said also to the man who had invited him, “When you give a dinner or a banquet, do not invite your friends or your brothers or your relatives or rich neighbors, lest they also invite you in return and you be repaid. 13 But when you give a feast, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, 14 and you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you. For you will be repaid at the resurrection of the just.”

Questions to Consider

Who were the audience?

One man was delivered this short story, and yet I think the entire party may have overheard.

When did the Lord give this parable?

This parable was given near the end of a period of withdrawal from Galilee, approx. 6 months prior to entering into Jerusalem for the last time. Jesus was attending a supper, being invited by a ruler of the Pharisees. (Luke 14:1)

Where did the Lord teach the parable?

As mentioned earlier, the Lord was at a supper, in the house of a Pharisee.

Why did the Lord give this message?

The Lord was in the home of a Pharisee, with a bunch of Pharisees attending, watching and judging Him. He had healed a man with the dropsy (See my post on Swelling Opposition for more background)

It doesn’t appear to be clear to me of any known initiator of this parable, other than the situation the Lord found Himself in. Often the parables are told in response to a question, or because of an obvious misunderstanding. This parable seems to be given as a general teaching, yet the Lord is in the midst of Pharisees, known to be considered favored of God due to their wealth and high standing in society.

I understand a generic Pharisee believed that monetary success proved God’s favor. Sinners received poverty, sickness and weakness. To be right with God was to have health, wealth and happiness.

What was the message for the original audience?

For the master of the ceremonies, the host of the party, the message was clear. The home was full of his friends and acquaintances, and if the man with the palsy somehow was included in the party, I fear it may have been reluctantly, in order to entrap the Messiah.

The one with sickness, the one who was a “sinner” was a tool of the Pharisee.

Jesus turned the tables and witnessed against this belief in two points

  • Don’t invite your equals, peers or those who are close to you
    • Invite those who are the rejects, the sinners, the ones who seemingly have been rejected by God
  • Don’t look for temporal repayment.
    • The doctrine the Pharisees believed was such that God’s love had to constantly renewed with monetary blessings, instead of simply having your life “hid in God”.

In other words, don’t suck up to those who can repay your friendship, but serve those who can’t (or won’t).

What is the message for us today?

Can we invite every poor soul to a party? Can we care for all the crippled and blind? For one soul who is in need, to accept them and give care, even for a short time, fulfills the intent of this story.

As we go about our daily hectic lives, it is difficult to slow down and care for those less fortunate than us.

The first issue that I need to address is my attitude towards my brother, the ones who may have fallen on hard times, struggled with an addiction or sickness, been burdened with a disability. My attitude towards them is to be of acceptance, to see them as loved by God, and not rejected.

The second concern is the practical outworking of this story. Wisdom is needed to understand who to show mercy to, who to bend to and to help. There is a wisdom that my wife often reminds me of in that we are not to cast our pearls to the swine, and this is the rub for me.

Our expression of love is to be with wisdom. Rejection of the downcast is not acceptable towards anyone who is in need, yet the application of our resources needs to be applied with wisdom. Many times the mercy may be provided to those who reject it in the end, but that is not to be our goal. The expression of mercy is an end to itself for it reflects, in a small way, the way of the Master.

May we have grace to express mercy to those less fortunate than ourselves, and find someone even this week to be a blessing to.



Follow Considering the Bible on WordPress.com

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.

New Testament · Parables · Simple Truths

Parable Surprises – Guest at a Wedding

This parable has provided a guiding principle for me for years and in many areas, but especially when I attend any business, social or religious meeting. Sure I am of the type that holds back, and this teaching tends to reinforce that thinking.

Yet this parable speaks of honor amongst others, and the authority of others when you seek your own honor, that may end up as shame! For you see, there will always be someone more distinguished than you in the room!

Let’s read the parable.

Luke 14:7-11

7 Now he told a parable to those who were invited, when he noticed how they chose the places of honor, saying to them, 8 “When you are invited by someone to a wedding feast, do not sit down in a place of honor, lest someone more distinguished than you be invited by him, 9 and he who invited you both will come and say to you, ‘Give your place to this person,’ and then you will begin with shame to take the lowest place. 10 But when you are invited, go and sit in the lowest place, so that when your host comes he may say to you, ‘Friend, move up higher.’ Then you will be honored in the presence of all who sit at table with you. 11 For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.”

Questions to Consider

Who were the audience?

Jesus spoke this parable to a group of party-goers. These party-goers were jockeying for a place of honor. (Quick question – Who deserved the place of honor?)

With Jesus seeing this behavior in this social environment it seems like a story that would definitely kill a good mood. I don’t think His intentions were such, (who am I to know that!) but the pride and arrogance that Jesus taught against must have been stifling. Imagine a group of successful religious leaders mentally searching out the room to find advantage over others and to attain for self glory. This is so upside down to the gospel we know, yet religion breeds this competition.

When did the Lord give this parable?

This parable was taught within 3 months of entering Jerusalem on His final week.

Where did the Lord teach the parable?

This parable was taught while the Lord and His disciples were in Perea.

Why did the Lord give this message?

As I mentioned above, this parable might have come off as a bit of a kill-joy for certain of the party-goers, but the message was definitely modelled for the situation Jesus and His disciples found themselves in.

What was the message for the original audience?

I suppose the message for the original audience is obvious. Status climbing attitudes, or as I heard it stated in Quebec when we lived there, to be “stepping on heads” was doomed to result in shame.

Self promotion brings shame. Self love and self focus results in glory for someone else. A very uncomfortable position to be in for the one who is so proud of his state of being!

As an aside, this parable speaks to the self love movement within the modern church, or which you may be interested in reading What Jesus Probably Didn’t Mean – Matthew 22:39.

Humility brings honor. Self humbling is the prescribed method to find your worth, and in the midst of it, honor will attach to you, though you will find it an uncomfortable condition! A truly humble one seeks the blessing of another and not himself. When honor comes, the humble tend to be uncomfortable with it.

What is the message for us today?

Note that we are not to wait to be humbled. We are to initiate this attitude. When you feel pride welling up in your heart about all the good things you have done, and can compare favorably with others, give yourself a kick in the head. Sure you may be successful in some area, yet it is the Lord who has provided you the opportunity, skill set, energy, and desire to do the work.

Any many others are exactly the same.

And you nor I can judge properly, because, at least for me, I always emphasize my goodness and all others their badness, therefore skewing the truth. No, the safe attitude is of humility, of considering yourself less that your brother, even less than all your brothers and sisters.

Philippians 2:3 Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.

Someone else may exalt you. Give them the opportunity. If I exalt myself, no-one else can!



Follow Considering the Bible on WordPress.com

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.

New Testament · Parables · Simple Truths

Parable Surprises – Friend in Need

Impudence. Jesus told this story with the result that impudence was more powerful than friendship. To be impudent. What in tarnation is that? Following are a number of synonyms

  • To be offensively bold.
  • Impertinent.
  • Insolent.
  • Disrespectful.
  • Rudeness.
  • Ungraciousness
  • Shamelessness

Let’s read the story Jesus told thousands of years ago, and find truth in it for us today.

Luke 11:5-8

5 And he said to them, “Which of you who has a friend will go to him at midnight and say to him, ‘Friend, lend me three loaves, 6 for a friend of mine has arrived on a journey, and I have nothing to set before him’; 7 and he will answer from within, ‘Do not bother me; the door is now shut, and my children are with me in bed. I cannot get up and give you anything’? 8 I tell you, though he will not get up and give him anything because he is his friend, yet because of his impudence he will rise and give him whatever he needs.

Questions to Consider

Who were the audience?

The disciples had seen the Lord pray, and connected His power to His prayer life, and being the disciples they were, they wanted the power. So they asked Him to teach them to pray. The verses preceding this parable are what is commonly referred to as “The Lord’s prayer”. Immediately after giving the disciples a model prayer to use for their own time with the Father, Jesus taught of the power of impudence.

What? I’ve heard of cleanliness being next to Godliness, but this implies Impudence is next to Godliness. My momma never told me that in all my years of listening to her wisdom, nope never said that!

When did the Lord give this parable?

This parable was given near the end of a period of withdrawal from Galilee, approx. 6 months prior to entering into Jerusalem for the last time.

Where did the Lord teach the parable?

Jesus and His disciples were in Galilee

Why did the Lord give this message?

As mentioned above, this parable was spoken to the disciples to augment the model prayer. To emphasize an aspect of prayer that is not emphasized enough nowadays. At least in my life!

What was the message for the original audience?

The man in need prevailed (by nagging) in his request to his friend’s apathy, even though they had relationship, knew each other and would see each other in the marketplace in the near future.

Please noticve that the response was curt, short and to the point. The man in bed did not respond out of love, by addressing the one in need by calling him “Friend” or “Brother”. Essentially he told the one at the door to get lost – it is too late. Go away.

When the audience heard this mans response, what might their reaction have been? I don’t know about y’all, but once my feet get under the covers, I turn a deaf ear to many requests. (My wifey and children are the exceptions, and maybe a close friend, but not much more than that!)

But the fellow outside wouldn’t give up. Like go home and come back the next day buddy, give your “friend” a night’s sleep. But noooo. This guy was shameless. He needed some food for another of his friends that showed up on his doorstep, and this was very important in the ancient near east. Hospitality was a cultural requirement in those days, and gave honor to the house which gave the hospitality. This man seeking food was fighting for his visitor, and for his own honor. (Kinda sad that he wasn’t prepared better, but that topic will come up in a later parable).

He nagged the fella in bed until he couldn’t stand it anymore. The mans shamelessness caused the one in bed to get up and supply his need. But let me ask you – was the man who was roused out of bed, do you think he had some anger issues going on? Is that a fair assumption? I think so.

The point is the method of attaining answers in prayer has to do with tenacity, never giving up. The “man in bed” is likened to God in this parable, but remember the differences

  • God never sleeps
  • God doesn’t give excuses about providing our requests
  • God doesn’t get angry by our properly asking for our needs and desires. (He may be disappointed about our lack of consistency in prayer, but that isn’t directly in this parable either!)
  • God seeks to answer our prayers. Let us not blame our Father for our lack of response from Him

If a reluctant sinner won’t get out of bed for his friend due to love, he will get out of bed due to irritation! How much more our Father in heaven?

What is the message for us today?

Is the message that we need to come to God with impunity, nag Him and shamelessly badger Him with requests? Maybe, but I think we need to remember Who we are dealing with in prayer.

He is a loving God, who has sent His only Son to deliver us from the destructive sin in our lives. He has not only forgiven those who trust His Son, He has invited us into His home, into His Body, and allowed us to have relationship as children. (Even as the children in the parable?)

Our invited access to the Father is intimate, personnel, continual, and established. The attitude of nagging is not necessary, yet the attitude of dire need may be the point of the parable.

At least it is for me!


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.

Follow Considering the Bible on WordPress.com

New Testament · Parables · Simple Truths

Parable Surprises – Good Samaritan

Everyone knows this parable, or at least the term “Good Samaritan”. Everyone wants to be the Good Samaritan, claim the title or use it to challenge others to be so. Its just that the characteristic of the good Samaritan is so rare nowadays.

Lets play a game – Before you read the passage, tell me the characteristic that the good Samaritan exhibited that Jesus used as an example for others.

Let’s take a look at

Luke 10:30-37

30 Jesus replied, “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and he fell among robbers, who stripped him and beat him and departed, leaving him half dead. 31 Now by chance a priest was going down that road, and when he saw him he passed by on the other side. 32 So likewise a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. 33 But a Samaritan, as he journeyed, came to where he was, and when he saw him, he had compassion. 34 He went to him and bound up his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he set him on his own animal and brought him to an inn and took care of him. 35 And the next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper, saying, ‘Take care of him, and whatever more you spend, I will repay you when I come back.’ 36 Which of these three, do you think, proved to be a neighbor to the man who fell among the robbers?” 37 He said, “The one who showed him mercy.” And Jesus said to him, “You go, and do likewise.”

Questions to Consider

Who were the audience?

The primary audience was a lawyer who had asked the “big question”, on how to inherit eternal life. The surrounding audience was of course the disciples and those who followed the Lord at the time, but also scribes that were with the lawyer, along with a local population that had gathered.

When did the Lord give this parable?

Jesus gave this parable in His third year of ministry.

Where did the Lord teach the parable?

Jesus enters into the Judean countryside with His disciples. He has journeyed from Galilee, and will spend approximately 3 months in the area

Why did the Lord give this message?

The Lord was addressed by a lawyer in verse 25, being asked on how to inherit eternal life? Jesus referred to the lawyers understanding of the Old Testament. The lawyer answered by quoting Deuteronomy 6:5. The lawyer recieved commendation from the Lord,

You have answered correctly, do this and you will live

Jesus answer troubled the lawyer, as it was intended to do, I’m sure. The lawyer wanted to blunt the impact of the response. The lawyer pushed on, asking –

And who is my neighbor?

What was the message for the original audience?

For the lawyer who asked the question the message was – Don’t try to wriggle out of your responsibility to others. Not just those who live in your vicinity, or that you rub shoulders with. Exercise mercy to those who are in need.

That, I think is the primary message of this parable. But as I sit here pondering, I would like to suggest an underlying message.

As the lawyer was seeking to justify himself, (in other words to make himself look righteous), Jesus uses the most unrighteous example (at least in a good Jew’s eyes) to straighten him out. The ever existing undercurrent of self righteousness is definitely dealt a blow in this parable, especially when the Lord refers to a priest and a Levite passing the victim by. Even the most religious members of God’s nation are cast as the villians in this parable, with the outcast Samaritan looking like the hero! The difference? Actions, and not belief systems.

What is the message for us today?

Many in this current culture may try to associate the man who was robbed with some who are under oppression today, and this is a valid connection. The Social Justice movement is rampant in our culture and some of the causes need to be addressed, while others are simply foolish, even sinful.

For the believer in todays culture, this parable gives no encouragement to any to join a group or “gang”, an organization or chapter, a church committee or neighborhood society to fight a systemic cultural injustice. No no no

The Lord said to the lawyer “go and DO likewise. He placed responsibility on the individual to perform acts of mercy on the hurt, the weak and the defenseless.

One other thing – Was there any definition of who the robbed man was?

None.

This allows the believer to offer mercy to any soul he finds.

But Carl – what about justice for the one who deserves justice, even a murderous, thieving, cheating, lying, wifebeater? Justice is the purview of the government and it’s officers. Jesus didn’t seem to limit the Christian about who he may provide mercy to. The character of the “wounded man” is not a point of concern for the believer.



Follow Considering the Bible on WordPress.com

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.

New Testament · Parables · Simple Truths

Parable Surprises – Unmerciful Servant

This parable has caused me many hours of concern and confusion, once I let it speak to me without a set of doctrinal lenses attached to my reading eyes. May only those who are brave enter!

Let’s take a look at

Matthew 18:23-35

23 “Therefore the kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who wished to settle accounts with his servants. 24 When he began to settle, one was brought to him who owed him ten thousand talents. 25 And since he could not pay, his master ordered him to be sold, with his wife and children and all that he had, and payment to be made. 26 So the servant fell on his knees, imploring him, ‘Have patience with me, and I will pay you everything.’ 27 And out of pity for him, the master of that servant released him and forgave him the debt. 28 But when that same servant went out, he found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred denarii, and seizing him, he began to choke him, saying, ‘Pay what you owe.’ 29 So his fellow servant fell down and pleaded with him, ‘Have patience with me, and I will pay you.’ 30 He refused and went and put him in prison until he should pay the debt. 31 When his fellow servants saw what had taken place, they were greatly distressed, and they went and reported to their master all that had taken place. 32 Then his master summoned him and said to him, ‘You wicked servant! I forgave you all that debt because you pleaded with me. 33 And should not you have had mercy on your fellow servant, as I had mercy on you?’ 34 And in anger his master delivered him to the jailers, until he should pay all his debt. 35 So also my heavenly Father will do to every one of you, if you do not forgive your brother from your heart.”

Questions to Consider

Who were the audience?

Peter asked for it. Oh not directly, but Peter wasn’t the quiet one, and we can be thankful for his impetuousness, since this parable is so instrumental, so foundational for a believer. But I am getting ahead of myself.

When did the Lord give this parable?

This parable was given near the end of a period of withdrawal from Galilee, aprox. 6 months prior to entering into Jerusalem for the last time

Where did the Lord teach the parable?

Jesus and His disciples were in Galilee

Why did the Lord give this message?

Peter was trying to justify himself. Peter, I believe was intending to impress the Lord, you know, he was going to offer up the effort of forgiving his brother seven whole times! Very impressive!!!

What was the message for the original audience?

Jesus responds to this “impressive” claim of Peter’s with a very surprising requirement. Forgive 490 times. 490 times, and this begs the questions, that I have to keep count? At the 491st I can withhold forgiveness? Don’t be foolish Carl!

Let’s look at how the original audience may have heard this parable.

Jesus speaks of forgiving a brother 490 times and then gives this parable. And remember, He is speaking to a disciple!

Servant #1 is bankrupt and owes a trillion bucks to his master. Servant #1 begs for patience from the master, and claims he will pay everything. There is no way the man can pay the debt! Here we see servant #1 in his ignorance.

The Master forgives servant #1 of all his debt. Note that not only did the master forgive him of his debt, he released him. To release may be referring to simply dismissing the servant. The term may also refer to setting a servant free, as in releasing a servant or slave from ownership. This is not expressly stated, but the generosity of the master is such that this may entirely be the intent of the term. The master released servant #1 of his financial debt, his legal obligation of servanthood, his family’s impending sale into slavery. Imagine this unbounding generosity!

Servant #1 went out. He went out and expressed an unchanged character. Prior to his time before the master, he had fallen into massive debt, which implies to me that he was a greedy man, seeking to cut business deals to have an easy life, a life of luxury and excess, and it all backfired. (Totally my imagination running wild here!)

Servant #1 went out and continued in his life of greed. This greed brought him to servant #2. Servant #2 owed servant #1 owed him 0.000000014th of the amount he had been forgiven. He had a legal right to demand payment, and was seriously looking for the buck. He actually started choking servant #2. What is with this guy?

Servant #2 spoke the very same words to servant #1 that servant #1 had spoke to the master. The very same words! Servant #2 ended up in prison. How dense is servant #1?

Servant #3 and his buddies saw this going on and ratted servant #1 out. How could they not?

So the master called in servant #1 to his office, reminded him of the forgiveness shown to him, and threw him in jail.

His forgiveness was repealed! WHAT????

By the way, those that oversaw the jail were sometimes called torturers, so this is turning out some bad for servant #1.

What is the message for us today?

So also my heavenly Father will do to every one of you, if you do not forgive your brother from your heart.



Follow Considering the Bible on WordPress.com

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.

New Testament · Parables · Simple Truths

Parable Surprises – Master and His Servant

Responsibilities and how we relate to them. Let’s get it straight.

Luke 17:7-10

7 “Will any one of you who has a servant plowing or keeping sheep say to him when he has come in from the field, ‘Come at once and recline at table’? 8 Will he not rather say to him, ‘Prepare supper for me, and dress properly, and serve me while I eat and drink, and afterward you will eat and drink’? 9 Does he thank the servant because he did what was commanded? 10 So you also, when you have done all that you were commanded, say, ‘We are unworthy servants; we have only done what was our duty.'”

Questions to Consider

Who were the audience?

It appears the reason this parable was given was to respond to the apostles request for increased faith. Luke is teaching of the necessity to forgive a brother is he trespasses seven times in a day, and the responsibility of the disciple to forgive.

Some commentators link this parable with the healing of the demoniac. Although applicable I suppose, I will continue with the flow of thought found in Luke’s telling.

When did the Lord give this parable?

This parable was given within three months of the passion week. For a helpful document, providing a list of all the events in Jesus Life, check out Events of Jesus Life.

Where did the Lord teach the parable?

During the last three months of the Lord’s time in Israel, much of it was spent in Perea, on the eastern side of the Jordan. Since this parable was given to the disciples specifically, it may have been a time when they were simply walking and talking after a general teaching was supplied to the masses. This particular time is more likely in the midst of a dedicated time of teaching for the disciples and likely away from the crowds.

Why did the Lord give this message?

The disciples asked for it. So often we ask for a right or privilege (or even a reward) without considering the responsibilities and labor required to attain it. We so often want the crown before the cross!

The responsibilities of the disciple are to be aligned with reality. Responsibilities prior to reward. As a matter of fact, the parable speaks nothing of reward, and yet the disciples asked for the benefit, the reward of greater faith. Did the Lord avoid the topic of the question?

The disciples realized they did not have it in them to forgive their brothers offense 7 times in a day. (I don’t know about you, but I sometimes struggle with forgiving once!) I can surely identify with these men as the Lord instructs these men to rebuke and forgive a brother of a sin against them.

What was the message for the original audience?

Faith is compared to a mustard seed, yet it is not described as becoming a great tree, as in an earlier parable. This mustard seed is so tiny, and spoken of as simply existing. No growth is referred to, or being used to define an attitude, or a mind set.

Jesus then tells the story of the Master and His servant, emphasizing the responsibility of the servant. The servant works all day in the heat of the sun, and when the day is over, is required to feed the Master. No “thank you” is offered the servant. After all the Masters needs and wants are supplied, the servant can eat and drink. He gets the remains of the Masters supply.

And he is to realign his judgement to realize that he doesn’t deserve the treatment he gets. The treatment of a slave. He is to do his duty and be happy.

There is more than simple forgiveness spoken of in this parable. As if the challenge to forgive an erring brother wasn’t shocking enough for the disciples (and me). Yes he speaks of my responsibility to forgive a brother if he sins against me seven times in a day. And there are other responsibilities that I hadn’t taken notice of previously.

The responsibility to rebuke a brother. It seems the disciples had some practice at this responsibility, at least from thier viewpoint. Often they would argue amongst themselves. This teaching the Lord provides may not be encouraging this type of correction process within the group.

What is the message for us today?

I want to be honest with you – I am struggling with this parable because the intended recipients, the disciples, were later called friends, and not servants.

John 15:13

Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.

John 15:15

Henceforth I call you not servants; for the servant knoweth not what his lord doeth: but I have called you friends; for all things that I have heard of my Father I have made known unto you.

Doh – I missed this verse that fits between the two above. I think it is of importance in the consideration of this parable, don’t you?

John 15:14

Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you.

You know, my momma used to tell me, especially when I had to cut the lawn when I was a youngin, that “It is not for us to reason why, it is simply for us to do and die.” I realize that is a bit of a stretch for my momma to use that saying in relation to simply cutting the lawn , but there is a similar sentiment in this parable.

My momma loved me and yet she demanded work out of me, and through that work I felt the smile of my momma. She would never disown me, or abandon me. She loved me, yet she “had the nerve” to point to that lawn every Saturday morning.

And when I was done, I felt good! A bit proud of my accomplishment. At peace with my momma, at least in my mind – I don’t think she felt any animosity towards me prior to the “cutting”! But I don’t remember her thanking me.

And there is the rub. The lawn was squarely my responsibility and gratitude wasn’t considered part of the deal. Now don’t get me wrong – I never considered myself a slave to my momma, so the parallel with the parable breaks down a bit – but you get my point.

Get your attitude right Carl. You are not super spiritual, either in God’s eyes, (or more pointedly from this parable even your own eyes) if you forgive your brother for an offence. It is a bare minimum! A responsibility that is a base requirement of the Christian life. Harboring unforgiveness is unacceptable and is to be considered a very serious offence.

But the challenge is greater than simply forgiving a brother. Notice that the Lord, in Luke’s passage, includes the responsibility to rebuke a brother. This necessitates the need to stand firm in your convictions and to be dependent on God (and not to fear the loss of relationship with a brother). It also requires the data needed to know when the offence is simply a personal matter or a biblical matter. Let me explain.

Based on my past experience and personal leanings, I find giving youngsters sugary treats to be non-beneficial. This practice not only provides garbage into the child’s physical body, but creates an erratic pattern of behavior in the child. The child may experience poor health, become a demanding child, requiring another “hit” of sugar, slip into erratic sleeping patterns, and potentially experience separation from social graces in the result of becoming a “picky” eater.

That is my personal bias. I have not found a specific verse that states “Feed no sugar to 2 yr olds”. Do I have the responsibility to rebuke a brother if he feeds his kid sugar?

Based on the Word, if this same brother begins to cheat on his wife, do I have a responsibility to rebuke him?

This difference between feeding sugar to a child and breaking covenant is my way of defining the difference between knowing God’s Word in relation to rebuking a brother. Adultery is sin! Rebuke is non-negotiable. Feeding sugar to a child is preferential (I still think it is wrong!!!)

One on these sins needs to be rebuked, due to the command in the Scriptures. The other is preferential. Each may have different intensities of responsibility, but with each situation my attitude is critical.

A bit earlier I mentioned that the original disciples had no problem rebuking each other as they walked with the Savior.

Yet Jesus teaches them to forgive and rebuke. They are already masters at rebuking!!! Why the teaching?

A rebuke from a believer is to be handled, not from a position of superiority, but from an attitude of gentleness, of realizing we are all in a position of weakness.

Consider

Galations 6:1

Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted.

In all of this, in the forgiving and the rebuking, it is this parables intent to remind us that these duties of the believer are not base level responsibilities. Let us not get puffed up with pride (Remind me to tell you of my first effort at rebuking!), or eaten up with a victim’s attitude of requiring some thank you for performing the task at hand.

He loves us.

Out of His great abounding love toward us, get the work done and be content!



Follow Considering the Bible on WordPress.com

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.

New Testament · Parables · Simple Truths

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.



Follow Considering the Bible on WordPress.com

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.

New Testament · Parables · Simple Truths

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!



Follow Considering the Bible on WordPress.com

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.