3 Kinds of Parables-
Similitudes – “The kingdom of heaven is like…” (These are all in Matt 13:)
Parabolic sayings – these are the one-liners found in Luke 4-7
Full parables – a story told to make a point.
Open & Closed Doors
The Closed Door/The Doorkeeper/The Thief in the Night/Faithful Servants/The Strong Man Bound/The Divided Realm/The Demon’s Invasion/The Importunate Neighbor/The Son’s Request/The Unjust Judge/The Pharisee & the Publican
Work & Wages
Master & the Servant/The Servant Entrust with Authority/The Waiting Servants/The Laborers in the Vineyard/The Money in Trust/The Talents/The Lamp/The Body’s Lamp/The Discarded Salt/The Patch & The Wineskins/The Householder’s Treasure
The Dishonest Steward/The Defendant/The Unforgiving Official/The Rich Fool/The Wicked Winedressers/The Two Builders
The Two Debters/The Hidden Treasure/The Pearl of Great Price
Parables From Nature
The Sower and the Seeds/The Grain of Wheat/The Weeds and the Grain/The Net/The Seed Growing Secretly/The Mustard Seed/The Leaven/The Budding Fig Tree/The Barren Fig Tree/The Birds of Heaven/The Flowers of the Field/The Vultures/The Tree and its Fruits/The Weather Signs
Weddings & Feasts
The Sulking Children/The Children in the Marketplace/The Arrogant Guest/The Bride’s Girlfriends/The Tower Builder/The Warring King/The Wedding Feast or The Unwilling Guests/The Wedding Garment/The Rich Man and Lazarus
Lost and Found, Father & Son
The Good Samaritan/The Prodigal Son or The Loving Father/The Two Sons, The Apprentice Son, and the Slave and Son/The Lost Son/The Lost Sheep/The Shepherd, the Thief, and the Doorkeeper/The Doctor and the Sick/The Great Assize or The Sheep and the Goats
Lamp Under a Basket Matt 5:14-16 Mark 4:21,22 Luke 8:16,17 11:33-36 2
Luke 8:16-17 “No one, when he has lit a lamp, covers it with a container, or puts it under a bed; but puts it on a stand, that those who enter in may see the light. For nothing is hidden, that will not be revealed; nor anything secret, that will not be known and come to light.”
Luke 11:33-36 “No man, when he has lit a lamp, puts it in a cellar, nor under a basket, but on a stand, that those who enter in may see the light. The lamp of the body is the eye. Therefore when your eye is good, your whole body is also full of light; but when it is evil, your body also is full of darkness. Therefore see whether the light that is in you isn’t darkness. If therefore your whole body is full of light, having no part dark, it will be wholly full of light, as when the lamp with its bright shining gives you light.”
The first passage deals with Revelation
People light lamps when it is dark, and do so in order to see. But there are those who prefer darkness.
“Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil.” John 3:19
Being enlightened by the truth of the Bible leads to enlightened behavior. But rejecting the truth leads to condemnation. Christians should be characterized as people of truth.
“If we claim to have fellowship with him yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live by the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.” 1John 1:6,7
Even if we claim to be enlightened, but darkness characterizes our lifestyle, then such is indicative that we have yet to be born of God.
“Anyone who claims to be in the light but hates his brother is still in the darkness.” 1John 2:9
Though some responded well, Jesus was subject to much persecution because he exposed people’s sinfulness to the light.
In a dark place, it doesn’t take a particularly bright lamp to reveal truth. When it is very dark, even a dim lamp can be seen very far. Why would Christians hide their lamps? To avoid persecution. Christians often compromise in inappropriate ways with the world by covering truth. The world prefers darkness. So some Christians cover their lamps. But Jesus teaches that we shouldn’t be so overly concerning to people’s reaction to truth.
Lampstands are used to make the light more prominent. An example of a lampstand is an institutional church. Jesus calls seven institutional churches “lampstands” in Rev 1:20. They are supposed to facilitate the light getting out, but too often are more interesting in investing in fancy lampshades to cover themselves, which hinders the light. Jesus was so exasperated with a number of such churches that he threatened to simply shut them down.
The second passage deals with the Effect of Revelation
“The eye is the lamp of the body” in that our perception affects our whole behavior. If you cannot perceive what is true, just, and holy, then your lifestyle will be characterized by darkness, both mentally and morally.
But realize also that people who are spiritually blind are not innocent victims, but have become that way by responding to what God has revealed to them in an inappropriate manner.
“The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness, since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities– his eternal power and divine nature– have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse. For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened.” Rom 1:18-21
Let this also be a warning to us, who claim to be children of light. For if we don’t respond properly to what God reveals to us, our spiritual maturity and effectiveness will be hindered.
MARCH 19th, 2011-
A Wise Man Builds on Rock and a Fool on Sand Matt 7:24-27 Luke 6:47-49
When Jesus told the story of the builders he likely had the following proverb in mind: When the storm has swept by, the wicked are gone, but the righteous stand form for ever (Proverbs 10:25). What’s the significance of the story for us? The kind of foundation we build our lives upon will determine whether we can survive the storms that are sure to come. Builders usually lay their foundations when the weather and soil conditions are at their best. It takes foresight to know how a foundation will stand up against adverse conditions. Building a house on a flood plain, such as a dry river-bed, is a sure bet for disaster! Jesus prefaced his story with a warning: We may fool humans with our speech, but God cannot be deceived. He sees the heart as it truly is — with its motives, intentions, desires, and choices (Psalm 139:2). There is only one way in which a person’s sincerity can be proved, and that is by one’s practice. Fine words can never replace good deeds. Our character is revealed in the choices we make, especially when we are tested. Perhaps more than all else, the biblical wise man receives God’s Law and keeps it. He builds his whole life upon it. So feeble is wickedness.
In 1174 the Italian architect Bonnano began work on what would become his most famous project: A bell tower for the local Cathedral. The tower was to be eight-stories and 185 feet high. There was just one “little” problem: builders quickly discovered that the soil was much softer than they had anticipated, and the foundation was too shallow to hold the structure. And sure enough, before long the bell tower began to tilt… and it continued to tilt… until finally the architect and the builders realized that nothing could be done to make what became known as the Leaning Tower of Pisa straight again.
It took 176 years to complete and many attempts were made to compensate for the “tilt.” The foundation was shored up; the upper levels were even built at an angle to try to make the top of the tower look straight. Nothing worked. The tower has stood for over 800 years, but leans about 17 feet away from where it should be and was closed in 1990 for fear that it would fall and cause loss of life and injury. The Leaning Tower of Pisa is a vivid reminder that foundations may well be hidden but they are essential. As we come to the end of this series of studies in the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus brings us to his application, our take away and he challenges us to check our foundations before it is too late.
In 1990 the Tower was closed because it was in real danger of toppling over. But an international team of architects and engineers got to work to solve the problem. They took 12 years and spent $25 million to reduce the tilt by 45 centimetres. It still leans today but not by as much as it used to. Opened again in 2001, you can climb the 284 steps to the top, admire a fine view over Pisa and the surrounding countryside. But now tourists are limited to groups of 30 people at a time and you have to book in advance. Engineers say it should now survive for another 200 years at least.
The foundation of the Tower of Pisa was repaired and there is more work that can be done. The same is true of you and me. It is not too late if we heed these words of Jesus.
The Sower Matt 13:3-23 Mark 4:2-20 Luke 8:4-15
What’s the point of this story for Jesus’ audience and for us? Jesus’ parable of the sower is aimed at the hearers of his word. There are different ways of accepting God’s word and they produce different kinds of fruit accordingly. There is the prejudiced hearer who has a shut mind. Such a person is unteachable and blind to the things of God. Then there is the shallow hearer who fails to think things out or think them through; such a person lacks spiritual depth. They may initially respond with an emotional fervor, but when it wears off their mind wanders to something else. Another type of hearer is the person who has many interests or cares, but who lacks the ability to hear or comprehend what is truly important. Such a person is for ever too busy to pray or too preoccupied to study and meditate on God’s word. They may work so hard that they are too tired to even think of anything else but their work. Then there is the one whose mind is open. Such a person is at all times willing to listen and to learn. He or she is never too proud or too busy to learn. They listen in order to understand. God’s word has power to change and transform us into the likeness of Christ. God gives grace to those who hunger for his word that they may understand his will and have the strength and freedom to live according to it.
Christians are called to be the farmers, sowing the seed of the Word of God into the world. Of course the farmer wants to sow his seed only a good ground so that it will be fruitful. And there are often things he can do to prepare the soil. But this is not totally his responsibility. As he sows seed, I would imagine he would focus on what he perceives is good soil. But in the process, the seed also lands in places where the soil is not ideal.
The ones along the path are those who fail to understand how the word applies to them. They don’t take it to heart. Satan blinds their eyes to the truth, or puts mental stumbling blocks in their way. I’m always amazed when I hear someone from the intellectual elite say that Bible is difficult for them to understand. I think they must simply be reading it incorrectly. The Bible pretty much says what it means and means what it says. And thus people of all ages and generations have come to understand it. But there is a spiritual blindness that veils people’s hearts.
SEED WORD OF GOD
PATH-Trampled The ways of the world Taken away
Birds ate Philosophy of the world (Didn’t understand)
ROCK-Withered Religiously shallow Believed but fell
No moisture (not deeply rooted) away after testing
THORNS-Chocked The Distracted Worries, Riches, Lusts
GOOD-Yielded Spiritual Believers Noble & Good heart
SOIL 100X Retained, Produced
“Land that produces thorns and thistles is worthless and is in danger of being cursed. In the end it will be burned.” Heb 6:8
The story of the parable of the sower [that is, the story of the farmer and his field]
The story is simple. A farmer sows seed in a field:
· Some seed falls on the paths, and the birds quickly eat it.
· Some seed falls where there are rocks, and not much soil. Plants grow quickly, but soon the sun dries them. There is not enough soil, and the plants die.
· Some seed begins to grow in a place where there are too many weeds. The weeds stop the growth of the plants, and the plants die.
· But other seed falls on good ground. So, the plants grow well. The farmer has a harvest from these plants.
The explanation of the parable of the sower
The explanation of the story is also simple. Jesus himself explained it to the disciples. The farmer is like Jesus. The seed that he sows is the seed of the good news about Jesus. The farmer sows the seed in many different places, just as Christians tell God’s good news in many different places. What happens to the seed is different in different places. It is the same with the good news about Jesus. It has a good result in the lives of some people, and it has a poor result in other lives.
The first seed fell on the path, where there was no soil. Some people hear the good news but give no attention to it at all. This is like the seed on the path. These people do not change their behavior. These people do not think about other people. They are selfish. They quickly forget about the good news.
Some seed falls where there are rocks. It grows quickly, but then it dies. This teaches us that some people listen to the good news. They seem to like what they hear about Jesus. But this does not last. They have a difficult time, or other people laugh at them. Then they have no more interest in Jesus. They never really trusted him.
Some seed began to grow among weeds, and the weeds killed it. This teaches us that some people have no time for Jesus. They are selfish, and they want things for themselves. Perhaps they want to be rich, or to be powerful. They worry all the time. They are anxious about their possessions.
Finally we hear in the story about seed on good ground. The good ground is like people who love the Lord. They believe in Jesus and they trust him. God will bless these people. His Holy Spirit will help them to love other people. They will be able to forgive other people, and to live in peace with them. They will be joyful. This is because God can change them. He changes the inside of these people, and this changes their behavior.
In closing let us call attention to one or two practical lessons inculcated by this parable.
First, the preciousness of the Seed. If there were only one grain of wheat left in the world today, and it was lost, all the efforts of man could not reproduce it. Thus it is with the Word: were it taken from us all the wit and wisdom of man could not replace it. Then let us value, love, and. study it more.
Second, the inconspicuousness of the Sower. Scarcely anything at all is told us in the parable about Him, beyond the simple fact that He actually sowed the Seed. The emphasis is upon the Seed, the various kinds of soil and the obstacles to and conditions of fruitfulness. Why is this? Because the personality of the sower and the method of sowing are of secondary importance. A little child may drop a seed as effectively as a man; the wind may carry it, and accomplish as much as though an angel had planted it! All—not merely preachers only—may be “sowers.”
Third, the conditions of fruitfulness. There is much “rocky ground” in the garden of each of our souls: then despise not God’s hammer and ploughshare. There are many “thorns” in each of our lives which must be plucked up if there is to be more room for fruit! Finally, there needs to be much prayer for “understanding,” “patience,” and hiding of the Word in our hearts so that we shall “keep” it.
Fourth, the fullness of the parable. There are some who decry the idea that we should seek for a meaning to every detail in our Lord’s parables, and tell us we should be content with discovering its general significance. But such a loose conception is manifestly condemned by Christ’s own example. In His interpretation He gave a meaning to every detail; not only so, but by comparing the three accounts of this parable, we learn that the “thorns” represent at least four distinct things! How this shows us the need of carefully studying and prayerfully meditating upon every jot and tittle!