Parables of Jesus #8 The Fig Tree & The Faithful Servant Mark 13:28-37

Parables of Jesus #8

The Fig Tree & The Faithful Servant

Mark 13:28-37

  1. Find a quiet place without distractions.
  2. Be comfortably alert, still, and at peace.
  3. Say the Lord’s Prayer. Sing or cant the Jesus Prayer.
  4. Pray for family, friends, neighbors, and yourself.
  5. Slowly and carefully read the passage of Scripture.
  6. From memory, determine the central points.
  7. These stories may or may not be actual parables, but are considered here as parable. Authorities differ.
  8. A fig tree, may represent Israel or maybe not, but when a fig tree puts out leaves, summer is surely near. Jesus had just described conditions that would occur prior to the second coming in verses 3 to 27. When certain events are observed, the end is near.
  9. The “generation” would not end until all the events Jesus mentions will take place. As for “generation” we cannot be sure the meaning of this. Maybe that very generation of apostles, or the nation of Israel, or the church…many guesses without any actual certainty.
  10. Heaven and earth will pass away, but what Jesus says, the facts of what Jesus says, will be fulfilled.
  11. Jesus moves on then to the story of a servant whose master leaves on a journey and the servant does not know when he should return.
  12. The precautionary charges are: “be on guard,” “keep awake,” “stay awake,” “stay awake,” “stay awake.”
  13. The master will return, this is certain. The servant is to go about the work previously assigned. The servant is to be faithful to his or her work.
  14. Jesus is nearing the end of His earthly ministry; only a short time left until His arrest, trial, and crucifixion. His followers must be warned as to what is about to take place. They will be crushed, but to the work they must go.

 

This Generation & The Pharisee and the Tax Collector Matthew 11:16-19 & Luke 18:9-14

GOSPEL MEDITATION # 7

This Generation & The Pharisee and the Tax Collector

Matthew 11:16-19 & Luke 18:9-14

  1. Find a quiet place without distractions.
  2. Be comfortably alert, still, and at peace.
  3. Say the Lord’s Prayer. Sing or cant the Jesus Prayer
  4. Pray for family, friends, neighbors, and yourself.
  5. Slowly and carefully read the passage of Scripture.
  6. Reread it. From memory, determine the central points.
  7. Matthew 11:16-19 may or may not be genuine parable but some do, and those who do designate it “This Generation.”
  8. It has to do with a children’s game of imitation a wedding event and a funeral. The traditional wedding music is played and a funeral dirge is sung but there is not dancing or mourning.
  9. Jesus is referring to John the Baptist who came point to Jesus as the Messiah, and Jesus revealed who He was yet both messages were ignored and rejected. Jesus’ conclusion is, “wisdom is justified by her deeds” a phrase variously understood, but likely means that the future would reveal the truth.
  10. A tax collector, or publican, was a Jew who collected taxes for the Romans and demanded more than required and pocketed that. These were highly despised. The Pharisee, regular in this prayers, fastings (Mondays and Thursdays), and tithing. Oddly, many a Pharisee was despised by the people as well. In the parable, both arrive at the same time at the temple.
  11. “God, be merciful to me, a sinner” is the prayer of the tax collector. The contrast could not be greater. One depends on good deeds the other, having none, pleads for mercy.
  12. The crowd listening to the parable would have been shocked to hear of a tax collector being declared justified, meaning his sin in total was erased and forgiven. Jesus turns the parable to be a lesson on humility. The tax collector’s prayer became the oldest prayer in church history.

 

GOSPEL MEDITATION #6 The Parable of the Tenants Mark 12:1-12

GOSPEL MEDITATION #6

The Parable of the Tenants

Mark 12:1-12

(Read Psalm 118 and Isaiah 5)

  1. Find a quiet place without distractions.
  2. Be comfortably alert, still, and at peace.
  3. Say the Lord’s Prayer. Sing or cant the Jesus Prayer
  4. Pray for family, friends, neighbors, and yourself.
  5. Slowly and carefully read the passage of Scripture.
  6. Reread it. From memory, determine the central points.
  7. “A man planted a vineyard,” Jesus says, as He begins to present a parable. This man does all that should be done: plants the best plants, builds a fence, a winepress, and a tower, leases it out to tenants, then goes away (Luke says for a long time. See Luke 20:9-18)
  8. At harvest time, the owner sends servants to collect the “fruit,” but the tenants beat some servants and kill others. When the owner finally sends his own “beloved son,” whom the owner is sure will be honored, they kill him outside the vineyard.
  9. The “vineyard” is a reference to Israel itself. Isaiah 5 would have been well known to the religious leaders, and there the vineyard is destroyed because it failed to yield the fruit of righteousness and justice. This parable is different but with similar themes.
  10. Psalm 118 was known as a Messianic Psalm for centuries before the days of Jesus. There the “cornerstone” or Messianic Stone that had been rejected, nevertheless becomes the chief stone, the cornerstone of a new structure.
  11. The primary point of the parable is that judgment is coming to those whom at first had been given charge of the vineyard. They rejected the owner’s rights for their own gain. The owner will give the vineyard to others.
  12. The religious leaders know the parable is about them but fear acting against Jesus because of his popularity with the people.

 

The Parables of Jesus # 5 Hidden Treasure, Pearl of Great Price, the Net & New and Old Treasures-Matthew 13:44-52

GOSPEL MEDITATION

The Parables of Jesus # 5

Hidden Treasure, Pearl of Great Price, the Net

& New and Old Treasures-Matthew 13:44-52

  1. Find a quiet place, alone and apart from distractions.
  2. Be comfortably alert, still and at peace.
  3. Say the Lord’s Prayer. Sing or chant the Jesus Prayer.
  4. Pray for family, friends, neighbors, and yourself.
  5. Slowly and carefully read the passage of Scripture.
  6. Reread it. From memory, determine the central points.
  7. The lessons of the parables of the hidden treasure and the pearl of great price are similar.
  8. A man found a treasure in a field, concealed it, and did what it took to raise the money in order to buy the field.
  9. A man discovered a very valuable pearl and did all he could to obtain it. (In Greek pearl is transliterated margarita.)
  10. The central meaning of the two parables is that the kingdom of heaven is so very valuable that all else may be given up.
  11. The parable of the net is the third, and last, parable Jesus explains, and the explanation is extremely brief in comparison to that of the sower and the weeds.
  12. The point of the net parable is similar to that of the weeds. The weeds are not to be pulled up by the farmer. They are to be left until harvest time.
  13. At the harvest, angels will do the work of separating, not the farmer/sower. (We are reminded of Revelation 14:14-20)
  14. Jesus, it seems, wants to prevent the sowers from going further as they are likely to cause harm. They are not to act as the great Judge at the final judgment—is a way to interpret the parable.
  15. The old and new treasure parable has been variously understood. A major view is that it has to do with those highly trained in the ways of God as found in Scripture; those wise enough to teach what is both old and new.
  16. The “new” is best understood and appreciated by knowing that which is “old.” These two are complementary.

 

Parable of the Mustard Seed and the Leaven—Matthew 13:31-35

GOSPEL MEDITATION # 4

The Parable of the Mustard Seed and the Leaven,

and Prophecy and Parables

Matthew 13:31-35

  1. Find a quiet place, alone and apart from distractions.
  2. Be comfortably alert, still and at peace.
  3. Say the Lord’s Prayer. Sing or cant the Jesus Prayer
  4. Pray for family, friends, neighbors, and yourself.
  5. Slowly and carefully read the passages of Scripture.
  6. Reread them. From memory, determine the central points.
  7. These two parables may have their background in the Hebrew Bible as we find similar themes in Ez. 17:22-24.
  8. A mustard seed had the reputation of being the smallest of seeds, yet when fully grown would average between 8 and 12 feet high and strong enough birds built nests there.
  9. Then, as a companion parable, Jesus speaks of leaven, or yeast, that is worked into dough and causes that dough to rise and expand.
  10. Jesus commonly used parables when speaking to crowds, for reasons not stated in Scripture. We assume that He intended for the parables to be more easily recalled than if He simply lectured as was the common manner of teaching.
  11. Matthew then quotes a passage from Psalm 78, verse 2, that helps explain why Jesus spoke in parables. We note that Matthew quotes from the Greek version of the Hebrew Bible, the LXX and not from the Hebrew version.
  12. As in the case of the parables of the sower, the weeds, and the net, where Jesus gives an interpretation of His parables, for most of them however, He does not give one. At least the Gospel writers do not give interpretations if in fact Jesus did do so.
  13. The primary point of the parables, historically and contemporaneously, is that Jesus is giving assurance to His disciples that despite appearances, the kingdom of God will grow. Take heart, He is saying, keep sowing the Word.

The Parable of the Weeds, Matthew 13:24-30, 36-43

GOSPEL MEDITATION PARABLES # 3

The Parable of the Weeds

Matthew 13:24-30, 36-43

  1. Find a quiet place, alone and apart from distractions.
  2. Be comfortably alert, still and at peace.
  3. Say the Lord’s Prayer. Sing or cant the Jesus Prayer
  4. Pray for family, friends, neighbors, and yourself.
  5. Slowly and carefully read the passages of Scripture.
  6. Reread them. From memory, determine the central points.
  7. The sower/farmer scatters seed widely and despite difficulty, there is a harvest, one that far exceeds 10 fold, which would be expected.
  8. Jesus makes a comparison with what sowers encounter regularly—along with the wheat are weeds. What to do?
  9. The weeds can be pulled out, others note to the owner of the field. But no, the weeds are to be left in place, which would be somewhat shocking to the field hands.
  10. At a later point, Jesus leaves the crowd of hearers and retires with His disciples to a private location who then ask Him to explain the parable to them.
  11. Turns out the sower is actually the “Son of man” or Jesus Himself. (Does Jesus sow seed through or by means of His followers?)
  12. The field where the seeds are sown is the world, all the people of the world. The good seed are the children of the kingdom, the weeds are the plants of the evil one.
  13. There is to be a harvest at the end of the age and the reapers are sent out (see Revelation 14:14-20).
  14. At the outset, the angels of God gather the plants belonging to the evil one and these are burned with fire. All that causes sin along with all law-breakers are thrown into the “fiery furnace.” In that place there will be “weeping and gnashing of teeth” a classical Jewish expression.
  15. The harvest, the crop, the fruit, will be preserved, these “righteous” will be in the very presence of the Father.
  16. The followers of Jesus, His hearers, are invited to hear.

The Parable of the Sower and its Interpretation, Matthew 13: 1-9, 18-23

GOSPEL MEDITATION PARABLES # 2

Matthew 13:1-9, 18-23

The Parable of the Sower and its Interpretation

  1. Find a quiet place, alone and apart from distractions.
  2. Be comfortably alert, still and at peace.
  3. Say the Lord’s Prayer. Sing or cant the Jesus Prayer
  4. Pray for family, friends, neighbors, and yourself.
  5. Slowly and carefully read the passages of Scripture.
  6. Reread them. From memory, determine the central points.
  7. The Parable of the Sower, with its interpretation, is perhaps the most important parable that Jesus told His disciples.
  8. Seed is scattered liberally with no care of where the seed fell; the ploughing follows. The seed, according to Jesus, is the “word” which is logos in the Greek and is the message of Jesus, both who He is and what He did.
  9. The seeds on the path and amongst the rocks fail to yield a crop. Seed on the path is snatched away by the destroyer Satan. The seed on rocky ground sprouts quickly, and with joy, but does not last long due to difficulties, mostly attributable to persecutions because of the Word. (see John 1:1) It is most probable that genuine new birth is not in view in the first two locations where the seed fell.
  10. The seed/Word fallen amidst weeds appears to picture genuine conversion. Notice the words Jesus uses: “received,” “hears,” and “unfruitful.” Indication is the ‘believer’ did not mature. Instead, cares, riches, and pleasures of life serve to choke out the plant. There is a plant, but no fruit.
  11. Seed sown on good soil does produce, and as Paul points out in 1 Corinthians 3:7, “God made it grow.” The sower is indispensable to the work, but is not alone responsible for the harvest.
  12. The harvests will vary, even greatly so, yet this is not a concern of the sower. The sower is to sow the seed given out to him or her. and expect a harvest.

 

The Parables of Jesus: An Introduction

GOSPEL MEDITATION

The Parables of Jesus: An Introduction

Matthew 13:10-17 & Luke 8:9-15

  1. Find a quiet place, alone and apart from distractions.
  2. Be comfortably alert, still and at peace.
  3. Say the Lord’s Prayer. Sing or cant the Jesus Prayer
  4. Pray for family, friends, neighbors, and yourself.
  5. Slowly and carefully read the passages of Scripture.
  6. Reread them. From memory, determine the central points.
  7. A parable is the use of common language that usually has one primary point. Jesus used this means to teach His disciples while others would not be able to grasp the meaning of them.
  8. Also, parables would lend themselves to memorization

more easily.

  1. Parables are found in the Hebrew Bible as well, for

example in Ezekiel 17:1-10,19:10-14, and 37:1-14.

  1. There are no obvious parables in John’s Gospel, some

are peculiar to Matthew, Mark, and Luke while others

appear in two or even three of the Gospels.

  1. At first, Jesus tells large crowds various parables;

however, He takes His disciples aside and interprets

two of them, that of the Sower and Weeds, for them

privately.

  1. Jesus knows that unless the Holy Spirit interprets the truths

of the Word of God to people, it is impossible for them to

grasp such truths.

  1. Here we encounter the mystery of election, only those

chose my God, those whose eyes and ears are opened,

will have any real understanding of all that belongs to

God.

  1. The disciples, those who hear and know the mysteries

of God, are indeed blessed and can take no credit for

this understanding.

 

The Sevenfold Destiny of the Believer Hebrews 12:18-24

GOSPEL MEDITATION

Hebrews 12:18-24

The Sevenfold Destiny of the Believer

  1. Find a quiet place, alone and apart from distractions.
  2. Be comfortably alert, still and at peace.
  3. Say the Lord’s Prayer. Sing or cant the Jesus Prayer
  4. Pray for family, friends, neighbors, and yourself.
  5. Slowly and carefully read the passages of Scripture.
  6. Reread them. From memory, determine the central points.
  7. The writer of Hebrews clearly and strongly makes it clear that the follower of Jesus has been given a destiny that cannot be shaken, changed, or destroyed.
  8. It is thought that some believers, aware of their own tendency to sin and rebel, were fearful that they might earn the wrath and judgment of God.
  9. Indeed, the believers were now firmly part of the “city” of the living God, the assembly of the firstborn.
  10. Since the believer does not rely upon his or her own ability to be free and forgiven of sin, but rather depend solely upon the work of the firstborn, the first to rise from the dead, the mediator between God and men, Jesus Christ, they were then perfectly safe and saved.
  11. Hebrews, the letter, speaks to a people who knew only the first covenant, the first testament, that of obeying the commandments of God. And therefore, their history was abundant with stories of failure.
  12. For the first time then the “pastor” of the Hebrews letter speaks to his and her Jewish compatriots of grace, truly good news but so good as to be almost unbelievable.
  13. Much of the wording and the use of symbols found in Hebrews will make it difficult for a Gentile or non-religious Jewish person to understand what God has done in the death, burial, and resurrection of the “firstborn” Messiah Jesus. This incredible communication is a blessed one indeed.

Paul on Malta, Paul Arrives in Rome, Paul in Rome Acts 28:1-31

GOSPEL MEDITATION # 68

Acts 28:1-31

Paul on Malta, Paul Arrives in Rome, Paul in Rome

  1. Find a quiet place, alone and apart from distractions.
  2. Be comfortably alert, still and at peace.
  3. Say the Lord’s Prayer. Sing or cant the Jesus Prayer.
  4. Pray for family, friends, neighbors, and yourself.
  5. Slowly and carefully read the passage of Scripture.
  6. Reread it. From memory, determine the central points.
  7. All on board the Alexandrian grain ship are saved. The majority of early New Testament manuscripts say there were 276 persons on board while Codes Vaticanus and a key Coptic mss have 76. I go with the 76.
  8. Paul is bitten by a viper and survives, thus changing the locals idea that instead of a criminal getting his just deserts he is a god. (Mark 16:18, most certainly not the original ending of Mark’s Gospel, may have been inspired by Acts 28:5)
  9. Along the way, Paul is treated with kindness by Julius, and is able to have fellowship with Christians at ports the ship visits. This demonstrates that Christianity has spread widely throughout the Mediterranean eastern to mid region.
  10. Publius, a local land baron, receives Paul, who later lays hand on Publius’ father who is healed. The miracle greatly magnifies Paul ministry.
  11. Paul arrives in Rome where Paul is allowed to stay by himself, but guarded by, probably lightly chained to, a Roman soldier.
  12. In Rome, Paul’s accusers do not show up, but Paul remains in custody. Local Jewish leaders do not accuse him either but state that the “sect” is “spoken against.” Paul is able to present the gospel to the Jews in Rome and expresses again that he is sent to the Gentiles.
  13. Paul is there for 2 years until AD 65 when Nero turns against the Christians. Paul is likely released then.