Parables

July 1, 2019 at 3:05 pm | Posted in parables | 4 Comments
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Most of the parables in the Bible were taught by Jesus during His earthly ministry, and can be found in the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, but there are parables throughout the Bible. They are very instructive vehicles for conveying spiritual truth, and, while they are sometimes the subject of too much creative scrutiny, “over-spiritualizing,” and biased interpretation on the part of Bible teachers who have a pet doctrine or eschatological view they want to read into all sorts of passages of Scripture, parables will repay a faithful and obedient Christian’s close attention with memorable warnings, admonitions, encouragement, insight, and spiritual nourishment. Here are links to lessons on some of the Biblical parables:

1. Trusted with the Treasure (Luke 19:11-27)
2. Why Parables? (Matthew 13:10)
3. The King Who Will Return (Luke 19:11-17)
4. Wake Up to the Word (Matthew 13:11-16)
5. Objections To the Doctrine of Everlasting Security Answered (Objection 4) (Luke 8:13)*
6. Salt or Scum? (Ezekiel 23-24)
7. The Manager Who Thought He Was an Owner (Luke 20:9-16)
8. Our Own Worst Enemy (Luke 18:9-14)
9. What Exactly Did Jesus Say about Being Judgmental? (Matthew 7:24-27)
10. Hearing What the King Says  (Matthew 13:13-16)
11. The Intercession of the King
(Matthew 13:45)
12. Hearts of Stone (Matthew 13:5-21)
13. The Unwanted Peace, the Unfruitful Tree, and the Underdressed Guest (Matthew 22:1-14)
14. Serving without Fear (Mark 4:2-8)
15. Winsome Weeding  (Matthew 13:7, 24-30)
16. Wary Watching 
(Luke 12:35-40)
17. A Second Pair of Paradoxes
 (Mark 10:17-31)
18. The Servant Prophet 
(Mark 12:1-9)
19. Conformers, Reformers, or Transformers (Luke 5:36-39)
20. Obstacles, Others, and Ourselves (Luke 6:39-40)
21. What Kind of Dirt Are You? (Luke 8:5-15)
22. The Dirty Girdle (Jeremiah 13:1-11)
23. The Certains: a Lawyer, a Man, a Priest, a Samaritan, and a Savior
 (Luke 10:25-37)
24. A Recipe for Importunate Prayer (Luke 11:2-10)
25. The Vowels of Hell (Luke 11:21-22)
26. When Kingdoms Collide (Luke 13)
27. The Door and the Good Shepherd (John 10:1-11)
28. The Sabbath, Sickness, and Self-Serving Status (Luke 14:7-11)
29. The Joy of Rescuing Lost Sheep (Luke 15:1-7)
30. A (Perhaps) Parabolic Prodigal’s Preferential Proximate Predicament Produces Patient Prosperous Passionate Persistent Protective Paternal Pardon (Luke 15:8-24)
31. Prayerless Practical Pouting Prefers Possessive Purpose (Luke 15:25-32)
32. A Good Story about a Bad Man (Luke 16:1-10)
33. Persistent Pleas, Powerful Prayers, a Proud Pharisee, and a Penitent Publican (Luke 18:1-14)
34. From Investing to Interceding (Luke 19:11-22)

*most-viewed post in category

The Dirty Girdle

December 12, 2018 at 12:00 pm | Posted in Jeremiah, parables | 3 Comments
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Jeremiah 13 contains two illustrated sermons – or parables – which God had Jeremiah act out. This was unusual behavior compared to the simple preaching and prophesying done by prophets most of the time in the Old Testament, but it was not unusual in the sense of being novel for both minor and major prophets. Ezekiel was especially known for his “action” sermons, doing things like shaving his beard and dividing the whiskers into thirds, building a little fort and tearing it down, and once lying on the ground, and moaning and groaning in pretend agony. Other examples include Isaiah preaching without his clothes and Hosea marrying a prostitute. So, what Jeremiah does here is strange, but not at all without precedent for an Old Testament prophet

Thus saith the LORD unto me, Go and get thee a linen girdle, and put it upon thy loins, and put it not in water.

Jeremiah 13:1

This was a private revelation given to Jeremiah. He was not told by God to share this message with the people. The “girdle” was probably not what comes to mind when we think of a girdle today. It’s not as if Jeremiah put on a pair of “man-Spanx” or anything like that. This would have been more like what we think of as a waist apron. Jeremiah, once on a career path to being a priest before his prophetic call, knew the significance of the “girdle” being linen. Many Jewish men wore aprons for wiping their hands on, etc., and probably to aid in girding up their loins for work or fast travel, but the linen was an unmistakable reference to the Levitical priesthood.

So I got a girdle according to the word of the LORD, and put it on my loins.

Jeremiah 13:2

Notice what’s missing between Verses 1 and 2: any mention of Jeremiah asking the Lord why he needed to do this, or of the Lord giving any explanation. If only we could all learn to obey the Word of the Lord that way – even when we have no idea “why.”

The most unusual thing about the girdle was that it could not touch water; it could not be washed. The nation of Judah was God’s priestly apron, in a sense. He “wore” it for His own glory, the way a priest would wear a linen girdle to be recognized as a priest, consecrated to God. The priests were also supposed to “serve” Him – to be used by Him to do His “work” in the world. God’s people, although they had been delivered “through” the Red Sea, had not gotten wet. Tragically, though, they had not been “spiritually washed,” either. They came out of Egypt dirty, and when God offered them clean garments of righteousness, their defiled hearts quickly made these dirty, too.

And the word of the LORD came unto me the second time, saying, Take the girdle that thou hast got, which is upon thy loins, and arise, go to Euphrates, and hide it there in a hole of the rock.

Jeremiah 13:3-4

This was a 250-350 mile trip each way, so possibly 700 miles round trip, to the Euphrates, not coincidentally the river associated with Babylon – the place where the enemy of Judah would come from and claim a victory over them because they had forsaken their God, their Cleanser and Protector.

So I went, and hid it by Euphrates, as the LORD commanded me. And it came to pass after many days, that the LORD said unto me, Arise, go to Euphrates, and take the girdle from thence, which I commanded thee to hide there.

Jeremiah 13:5-6

Jeremiah was required to repeat the long trip to retrieve this girdle that had been lying buried in the muck and moldly earth near the river, now completely useless for its originally-intended purpose.

Then I went to Euphrates, and digged, and took the girdle from the place where I had hid it: and, behold, the girdle was marred, it was profitable for nothing.

Jeremiah 13:7

Rather than allowing God to carry their sins away and exchange them for His gift of cleansing righteousness, they had buried their identification with God far from Him, among filthy pagans who worshiped filthy false gods which had no power to cleanse, protect, or restore. Why had they done this?

Then the word of the LORD came unto me, saying, Thus saith the LORD, After this manner will I mar the pride of Judah, and the great pride of Jerusalem.

Jeremiah 13:8-9

They had done this because of pride. I know of nothing in the Bible which God opposes more than pride.

This evil people, which refuse to hear my words, which walk in the imagination of their heart, and walk after other gods, to serve them, and to worship them, shall even be as this girdle, which is good for nothing. For as the girdle cleaveth to the loins of a man, so have I caused to cleave unto me the whole house of Israel and the whole house of Judah, saith the LORD; that they might be unto me for a people, and for a name, and for a praise, and for a glory: but they would not hear.

Jeremiah 13:10-11

God calls you to cleave to Him – to STAY close – as close as underwear to the body, but, unlike underwear, to receive honor that will redound to HIS (not our) glory.

What Kind of Dirt Are You?

August 14, 2018 at 4:11 pm | Posted in Biblical farming, Luke, parables | 3 Comments
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Luke 8 contains what is usually called the Parable of the Sower or sometimes the Parable of the Soils, because Jesus described four different kinds of dirt.

A sower went out to sow his seed: and as he sowed, some fell by the way side; and it was trodden down, and the fowls of the air devoured it.

Luke 8:5

A farmer went out to plant his crop. As he was dropping his seeds to the ground, some of the seeds fell upon the place between the rows of the garden, or perhaps between distinct fields. These seeds did not fall on the soft, tilled part of the earth where they were intended to land, so they attracted birds that like to eat seeds.

And some fell upon a rock; and as soon as it was sprung up, it withered away, because it lacked moisture.

Luke 8:6

It’s doubtful that a farmer would intentionally drop seeds on rocks, but it would not have been uncommon for a farmer’s field in the ancient Near East to be located partially on a limestone substratum covered by a thin layer of soil. These seeds would sprout “plants-to-be” that couldn’t get their roots down to where the moisture was.

And some fell among thorns; and the thorns sprang up with it, and choked it.

Luke 8:7

Other seeds fell in places where, before their roots could get down, neighboring weeds robbed their sunlight or water, and they, too, never really became plants.

And other fell on good ground, and sprang up, and bare fruit an hundredfold. And when he had said these things, he cried, He that hath ears to hear, let him hear.

Luke 8:8

A novice Bible-reader, upon reading the Gospels for the first time, might wonder why there were so many people in the days of Jesus’s earthly ministry without ears. Obviously, we know it’s a figure of speech, but it does let us know that not everyone who heard Jesus’s parables were going to understand them. The parables had the power to hide truth and reveal truth at the same time, depending on the spiritual condition of the listener. Even beyond the principle of spiritual tone-deafness, though, you can test this out in a meeting of diverse individuals today. If you hold up a photograph and say, “Here’s a picture of Jason Witten stiff-arming a defensive back,” some people are going to perk up.

If you say, “Here’s a picture of a puppy dog sharing an ice cream cone with a little girl,” other people are going to perk up.

puppy sharing ice cream

They proabaly won’t all be the same people. Not everybody has “ears to hear” every kind of subject.

And his disciples asked him, saying, What might this parable be? And he said, Unto you it is given to know the mysteries of the kingdom of God: but to others in parables; that seeing they might not see, and hearing they might not understand.

Luke 8:9-10

The parable of the dirt is not terribly difficult for modern readers to understand because the disciples were very helpful. They basically asked Jesus, “Okay, what are You trying to say?” This is what He meant by “those who have ears to hear.” It had been prophesied in the Old Testament that some people – primarily the hypocritical religious leaders – wouldn’t want to hear the truth, anyway, so God was going to increase their condemnation by teaching lessons that they wouldn’t comprehend unless they really wanted to know God.

Now the parable is this: The seed is the word of God.

Luke 8:11

This was a very straightforward way of announcing that this parable would be clearly explained to the disciples.

Those by the way side are they that hear; then cometh the devil, and taketh away the word out of their hearts, lest they should believe and be saved.

Luke 8:12

Jesus explained why He told them about some of the seeds falling by the wayside, but He also let them know explicitly that, in this parable, the “dirt” is the human heart. That’s important to remember: As human beings we bear the image of God. However, in our humanity, we are “but dust” (Genesis 18:27; Psalm 103:14). We are framed from earth – we’re animated dirt! We are not anything special apart from God’s work and God’s image stamped upon us. Additionally, some people are so worldly and their hearts have been so trampled into hardness by the ways of the world, that the Word of God doesn’t penetrate. When someone tries to give it to them the devil (the birds of the parable) comes and snatches it away, and they have a double condemnation: they were too proud to care, and too hard to receive.

They on the rock are they, which, when they hear, receive the word with joy; and these have no root, which for a while believe, and in time of temptation fall away.

Luke 8:13

The “light” here is exceptional in that it represents, in this instance, persecution instead of truth. Persecution, like intense sunlight, shrivels plants with no roots. This describes people who briefly appear to be converted to true saving faith, but then somebody makes fun of them for being a Christian or suggests that they might not grow in spiritual maturity like they should unless they come to Sunday School instead of sleeping in on Sunday mornings. They find things are getting too “hot” and they reveal that their hearts were just dirt-dusted rocks that only appeared to be real dirt.

And that which fell among thorns are they, which, when they have heard, go forth, and are choked with cares and riches and pleasures of this life, and bring no fruit to perfection.

Luke 8:14

This third type of “dirt” can’t bring forth fruit because the thorns of worldly cares are choking out the place where the roots would go. These are people who love something in this world, and though they may think that they would like to add Jesus to it, they do not really believe that He is anything more than a life-improvement accoutrement.

But that on the good ground are they, which in an honest and good heart, having heard the word, keep it, and bring forth fruit with patience.

Luke 8:15

Hopefully, Verse 15 is you. You’re just “dirt,” but at least you are real dirt – soft dirt – formerly hard ground that has been “broken” and has received the seed of the Word of God, so that you are not just “conformed” or “reformed” but “TRANSFORMED.” Has the seed in your heart come to fruition and actually changed your heart itself?

Hearts of Stone

November 9, 2015 at 4:06 pm | Posted in Matthew, parables | 6 Comments
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In Chapter 13 of Matthew, we see the King teaching His closest followers. The teaching vehicle He chose was that of the parable. These parables were earthly illustrations containing spiritual lessons. They revealed truth to those who had a heart for Christ, and hid truth from those who insisted on hardening their hearts toward Him.

Verses 5 and 6 describe what happens when a person who is planting seeds scatters some of the seeds on stony ground where the soil is too shallow to bear roots:

Some fell upon stony places, where they had not much earth: and forthwith they sprung up, because they had no deepness of earth: And when the sun was up, they were scorched; and because they had no root, they withered away.

Matthew 13:5-6

In this parable the soil represents the human heart, and the seed represents the Word of God. When some people hear the Word of God, they have an emotional response to it, and appear briefly to be growing in new life. However, the truth, for these stony-hearted hearers, is that they did not really receive the Word into their hearts, and therefore It was not rooted.

Light in the Bible usually represents truth, but in this parable the sunlight represents the heat of persecution. When someone has a false profession, persecution will cause his shallow emotions to wither, dry, and die. But in the case of the Christian who truly has believed, like the plant with deep roots, the sunlight of persecution will cause growth instead of death.

But he that received the seed into stony places, the same is he that
heareth the word, and anon with joy receiveth it; Yet hath he not root in
himself, but dureth for a while: for when tribulation or persecution
ariseth because of the word, by and by he is offended.

Matthew 13:20-21

Hearing What the King Says

September 3, 2015 at 11:06 am | Posted in Matthew, parables | 9 Comments
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A bruised reed shall he not break, and smoking flax shall he not quench, till he send forth judgment unto victory.

Matthew 12:20

The nation of Israel rejected Jesus during His earthly ministry, but, by making themselves His enemies, they were breaking and burning themselves out without realizing it.

Behold my servant, whom I uphold; mine elect, in whom my soul delighteth; I have put my spirit upon him: he shall bring forth judgment to the Gentiles. He shall not cry, nor lift up, nor cause his voice to be heard in the street. A bruised reed shall he not break, and the smoking flax shall he not quench: he shall bring forth judgment unto truth. He shall not fail nor be discouraged, till he have set judgment in the earth: and the isles shall wait for his law.

Isaiah 42:1-4

Jesus did not destroy His enemies, the Pharisees, although He had the power to do it easily. He did however, as their true King, address the evil in their hearts.

Wherefore I say unto you, All manner of sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven unto men: but the blasphemy against the Holy Ghost shall not be forgiven unto men.

Matthew 12:31

A good man out of the good treasure of the heart bringeth forth good things: and an evil man out of the evil treasure bringeth forth evil things.

Matthew 12:35

Words can be evidence of evil in the heart. In this case, Jesus warned of unregenerate evil. There was an ongoing rejection of Him by the people of Israel in Jesus’s time. First they rejected John the Baptist, which was also a rejection of God the Father, since His prophets were His means of revealing truth under the Old Covenant. Second, their rejection of Jesus was a rejection of God the Son. Third, their rejection of the Holy Spirit would be the rejection of the final witness. Today, life-long rejection of Christ (which is the blasphemy of His Spirit) is the only unpardonable sin.

By the time we get to Matthew Chapter 13 we have seen the King’s arrival announced, His background confirmed, His Kingdom described and explained, and His power displayed.

Rejoice, rejoice, O Christian
Lift up Your voice and sing
Eternal hallelujahs
To Jesus Christ the King!

Alfred Ackley, “I Serve a Risen Savior”

Now He began to give some secret information to His closest followers. The words “hear” or “heareth” or “heard” or “hearing” are used 21 or 22 times in Matthew 13, as Jesus taught in parables, giving ordinary examples to help us understand an extraordinary Kingdom.

Who hath ears to hear, let him hear.

Matthew 13:9

Therefore speak I to them in parables: because they seeing see not; and hearing they hear not, neither do they understand. And in them is fulfilled the prophecy of Esaias, which saith, By hearing ye shall hear, and shall not understand; and seeing ye shall see, and shall not perceive: For this people’s heart is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes they have closed; lest at any time they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears, and should understand with their heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them. But blessed are your eyes, for they see: and your ears, for they hear.

Matthew 13:13-16

Jesus compared the Word of God to seed that is sown. He compared the human heart to the soil in which it is sown. He compared the heat of persecution to the light that shines down upon the sprouting seed. Sometimes the seed lands in soil that is too shallow. Other times it lands in soil that is too crowded. Other times it does not even land in the soil – it just falls by the wayside. However, sometimes it does land in good soil.

When Satan can’t steal the seed that lands in good soil, he plants imitations of what the seed will become next to the real plants. This changes the symbolism. Now the field is not a picture of the heart. It is a picture of the world. Satan has false professors (tares), a false church (the mustard seed tree), and false doctrine (leaven). He has fake Christians who believe a fake gospel. He promotes a false righteousness. In the Tribulation he will introduce a false christ.

Preparing to Hear from God: Receptive

January 15, 2014 at 11:40 am | Posted in Uncategorized | 6 Comments
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Last time we thought about preparing to hear from God by intentionally getting R.eady. Now we will focus on being:

R.eceptive

Receptive means willing to receive. God doesn’t speak to people so that they can evaluate it and determine whether it might be true. We need to be receptive to hearing from God in two ways:

1. Accept what God says.

We need to believe – not reject – what God says. Jesus would sometimes say, “Those who have ears to hear, let them hear,” because not everybody wanted to hear from Jesus for the right reasons. The Pharisees wanted to evaluate His Words or find fault with Him so they could accuse Him. His parables made sense to those who were ready to receive the truth.

2. Agree with God.

Now therefore make confession unto the LORD God of your fathers, and do his pleasure: and separate yourselves from the people of the land, and from the strange wives.

Ezra 10:11 (emphasis added)

Confession is not admitting you got caught. It’s agreeing with God – that what He says about anything is right, including what He says about you and me.

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

I John 1:9 (emphasis added)

Next time, we will think about being responsive in our preparation to hear from God.

Wake Up to the Word

November 24, 2009 at 10:19 am | Posted in Matthew, parables | 11 Comments
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Have you ever noticed the disparity among church-goers as they listen to the Word of God being preached aloud? Many times you will see one listening with rapt attention, while another, right next to him, is day-dreaming, or, in some cases, sleeping soundly! In some ways, this mirrors the different spiritual responses to the parables of Christ.

Jesus explained it this way:

He answered and said unto them, Because it is given unto you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it is not given. For whosoever hath, to him shall be given, and he shall have more abundance: but whosoever hath not, from him shall be taken away even that he hath. Therefore speak I to them in parables: because they seeing see not; and hearing they hear not, neither do they understand. And in them is fulfilled the prophecy of Esaias, which saith, By hearing ye shall hear, and shall not understand; and seeing ye shall see, and shall not perceive: For this people’s heart is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes they have closed; lest at any time they should see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and should understand with their heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them. But blessed are your eyes, for they see: and your ears, for they hear.

Matthew 13:11-16

Christ’s parables had the power to hide truth and reveal truth at the same time, depending on the condition of the listeners. Let us make sure today that, if the Word of God is becoming hard to understand, or if it seems boring, we allow the Holy Spirit to arrest the process of spiritual blindness, deafness, and hard-heartedness. Just as the truth of the Gospel aroused your interest in becoming born-again, let the Word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing you (Colossians 3:16), as you grow in spiritual maturity, and grow closer to God.

The King Who Will Return

November 6, 2009 at 9:23 am | Posted in Luke, parables | 11 Comments
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As Jesus and His followers approached Jerusalem at the time of Passover, rumors began to spread of a rebellion against Rome. People were worked up and excited over the idea that Jesus would establish the throne of David, and rule His people. However, instead of inciting violence, Jesus told a parable.

And as they heard these things, he added and spake a parable, because he was nigh to Jerusalem, and because they thought that the kingdom of God should immediately appear.

Luke 19:11

This parable serves as a warning to the people of God even today. It is a warning to stay busy until the Ruler of the Kingdom returns.

And he called his ten servants, and delivered them ten pounds, and said unto them, Occupy till I come.

Luke 19:13

What will believers on the Lord Jesus Christ do with the treasure of the Gospel message as we await the return of our King? Will we fail to guard it, and allow it to be taken from us and corrupted? Or will we, in seeking to protect it, hoard it up, and fail to put it to maximum use?

When the ruler in the parable returned to obtain an accounting of the treasure he had given the servants, he found that he could trust and reward those who had worked diligently with what they had been given.

And he said unto him, Well, thou good servant: because thou hast been faithful in a very little, have thou authority over ten cities.

Luke 19:17

Today is the day for believers to get busy, and stay busy, using the great gift of the Gospel message to do the work of our Ruler, anticipating His soon return!

Trusted with the Treasure

June 16, 2009 at 4:02 pm | Posted in II Corinthians, parables, Uncategorized | 15 Comments
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If you are a born-again child of God, saved by grace, though faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, you have been entrusted with a great treasure. What is this treasure? It’s the Gospel message!

But as we were allowed of God to be put in trust with the gospel, even so we speak; not as pleasing men, but God, which trieth our hearts.

I Thessalonians 2:4

We have a responsibility to be keepers of, and stewards over, this treasure. That means we are to protect it, and put it to work, spreading it around, and causing it to multiply.

O Timothy, keep that which is committed to thy trust, avoiding profane and vain babblings, and oppositions of science falsely so called:

I Timothy 6:20

In our finite minds we might wonder why Almighty God would ever entrust something as important as the Gospel into the care of the frail and faulty care-takers we so often are. However, God in His wisdom decided that such an arrangement best serves His glory.

But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us.

II Corinthians 4:7

In Christ’s parable of the faithful and the unfaithful servants found in Luke 19:11-27, we see that all the servants were given a treasure. The ones who recognized the importance of this treasure were rewarded. We must never fail to recognize the significance of working for Christ. We do not work for our salvation, but as faithful stewards, we certainly ought to work because of it.


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