Showing posts from November, 2018

Does a watched loaf rise?

Still reading parables about the kingdom of heaven and our place in it, tomorrow's study looks at weeding crops, watching seeds, flying birds and raising loaves, but what's our place in it all? (31) Still Sowing Parables When Jesus told the parable of the sower, he was preaching to sowers. Even fishermen sowed seed and grew their own small crops, and everyone knew the value of a good harvest. But nature wasn’t the only thing working against good harvests. Sometimes then, as now, people could destroy each other’s livelihood. Read Matthew 13:24-30. 1.        Tares were a plant that initially looks like wheat, then grows taller and produces poisonous seeds. If the wheat is God’s good crop, what might look like God’s work, then become “taller” and produce poisonous fruit today? 2.        There were laws against sowing or harvesting tares because they were such a problem for the Roman world’s food supply. Can you imagine a situation where someone might poison a neighbor’

Ever tried speaking in parables?

We're working our way slowly through the New Testament, following Jesus from last week's talk (well attended by church authorities who carried their complaints with them) to a seaside crowd, desperate to hear the itinerant preacher. I like imagining how the crowd changes, and wondering where I would be if I were part of such a crowd. Where would you be? Knowing it all? Absorbing it all? Somewhere in between...? (30) Short Stories and Big Significance Jesus responded with harsh words and condemnation for those who tried to condemn him last week, so… is it okay to ask questions? Is it okay to complain? What’s the difference between legitimate questions (of which the disciples must surely have had many) and wrongful complaints (of which the Scribes and Pharisees had plenty)? Now we come to Jesus teaching in parables. There are lots of theories about why so much teaching is done in parables: 1.        They were a traditional teaching tool. 2.        They allow truth t

Complaining against the complainers... but are we complainers too?

When Jesus speaks of "this generation" I always wonder if he's speaking to our generation too... or to all generations; after all, we're not that good at change. Today's study listens in while Jesus complains against the complainers. But we're still pretty good at complaining today... (29) Signs of Dark and Light Last time, we saw Jesus accused of working through Beelzebub. His response included the familiar and difficult to understand teaching about “the unpardonable sin,” or “sin against the Holy Spirit.” Do passages like Matthew 12:31-32 make you feel safe or worried? The following parable might be an explanation of Jesus’ teaching or a complaint against the complainers. Read Matthew 12:33-37 1.        Are you surprised to find another (or a lengthier) passage promising condemnation? 2.        Are you surprised to find the “tree is known by its fruits” passage included a second time in Matthew (see 7:16 )? 3.        Are you surprised t