Posts Tagged ‘Parable’

Luke 16:19-31 The Parable of the Richman and Lazarus

September 23, 2009

The Rich Man and Lazarus

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. [1] 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 [2]—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.’”

  • “We all know Lazarus.  He is our neighbor.  Some of us may be rich, well dressed and well fed, and walk past him without even noticing; others of us may not be so rich, or so finely clothed and fed, but compared with Lazarus we’re well off.  Hew would be glad to change places with us, and we would be horrified to share his life, even for a day.” N.T. Wright
  • A story of how wealth and poverty is reversed in the future life.  These types of stories were quite common in Jesus’ day.  However, Jesus’ story is different.  Most stories would allow for a message to be sent back to those people still alive on earth, but in Jesus’ story no such message is allowed.
  • This is a parable and not just a moral tale about wealth and poverty.  Some might argue that it is better for the poor to stay poor, since they will be rich in heaven.  That isn’t the point of the parable.
  • The key to the parable is in the last verse, “Neither will they be convinced, even if someone were to rise from the dead.”  Compare this to the parable of the prodigal son when the father says, “This brother was dead and is alive again.”  The older son was not convinced.  The older son is like the rich man in this passage.  They both don’t want to deal with the poor and ragged brother or neighbor.  But Jesus did want to deal with them.  He wanted to deal with them now.  Jesus was incorporating what was done in heaven in to his ministry on earth.  He was accepting the Lazarus’ and the prodigal  sons.
  • The Pharisees were behaving like the rich man.  They weren’t accepting the people Jesus was reaching out to.  Jesus was warning them to change their tune or else they will be sorry.
  • Not even someone rising from the dead will help them if they refuse to see how God is fulfilling the law and the prophets through Jesus.  This story points to Jesus himself and his death and resurrection.  Jesus did die  and did rise from the dead.
  • Am I like the rich man?  Am I walking past people and ignoring their needs both physically and spiritually?  Am I accepting/inviting all people into God’s kingdom?
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Luke 16:1-9 Parable of the Shrewd Manager

September 16, 2009

The Parable of the Shrewd Manager

16:1 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 [1] 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 [2] 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 [3] are more shrewd in dealing with their own generation than the sons of light. 9 And I tell you, make friends for yourselves by means of unrighteous wealth, [4] so that when it fails they may receive you into the eternal dwellings.

  • What does this passage mean?  Ezekiel 18 teaches that it is wrong to make money by lending at interest.  “Was the Bible against making money out of other money, or was it – was Jesus, indeed – telling us we should use any sharp financial practices we could to get ourselves out of difficulties.” N.T. Wright
  • How does this story work? 1.  The master in the story was not totally innocent.  It was unlawful to lend money at interest, but to get around this you could lend in kind with commodities, such as oil and wheat.  2.  It seems that what the steward deducted from the bill was the interest, leaving only the principal to be paid.  In this way, the debtors would be happy and the master couldn’t fault the steward without revealing his shady business practices.  The master could only admire the clever steward.
  • Remember that this is a parable and not some piece of moral teaching about money and how to use it.  Although, there is a moral lesson to be learned.
  • OK then, let us dissect the parable.   The master in the story is God; the steward is Israel.  Israel is meant to be God’s property manager, the light of God’s world, responsible to God and set over his possessions.  But Israel has squandered God’s property and God is not pleased.  What should Israel do?
  • The Pharisees answer was to become more holy by micromanaging the law.  They created these strict rules to follow and forced all to follow them.  By doing this they were excluding the very same people Jesus was reaching out to.  From this parable, Jesus is telling the Pharisees that instead of pushing people away, they ought to make friends.  This was the only way to avoid the coming crisis.
  • Therefore, instead of being a greedy miser, we should be generous to all people in order to make friends for ourselves.
  • So what do we make of this passage in our day?  “Obviously it has nothing to do with commending sharp practice in business or personal finance.  Rather it advises us to sit light to the extra regulations which we impose on one another, not least in the church, which are over and above the gospel itself.” N.T. Wright
  • Am I excluding people from God’s kingdom?  Am I doing whatever I can to make friends?  Am I using all my resources to introduce people to the gospel of Jesus Christ?  Have I become a Pharisee that only follows a list of rules?  God has trusted me with his property.  Am I squandering it?

Luke 15:11-24 The Parable of the Prodigal: The Father and the Younger Son

September 7, 2009
The Return of the Prodigal Son by Rembrandt

"The Return of the Prodigal Son" by Rembrandt

The Parable of the Prodigal Son

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 [1] 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.’ [2] 22 But the father said to his servants, [3]‘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.

  • The main point:  The wonderful love and forgiving grace of God, ready to welcome back sinners at the first sign of repentance.
  • That is the obvious point.  However, there is deeper meaning to this parable.
  • The younger son brought shame and disgrace to the father.  To ask for his inheritance before his father was dead was like saying, “Dad, I wish you were dead.”  Then to sell the his share of the land to some stranger for money was shameful.  Possession of land was extremely important to Jewish families in Jesus’ time.  To just go and sell it for money was unheard of.  Imagine the pain and shame the Father felt.  But he allows this to happen without argument.  He just hands over the son’s portion of the inheritance without question.  No father in Jesus’ day would allow that to happen.
  • And to add insult to injury, the younger son leaves home for the big city abandoning his family.  In our culture it is quite common for children to leave home in the country to make their way in the big city, however in Jesus’ culture sons didn’t leave their families.  This would be viewed as even more shameful.  Again, the Father lets the son go without question.
  • Finally, with all his money wasted the younger son lands a job feeding pigs.  Jewish people and pigs don’t mix.  This would not be viewed as an honorable profession.  To the Jewish son this would be the lowest of all possible lows.
  • But how remarkable is the Father?  Or should we say the Running Father?  He was the father, the head of the family, a distinguished elder in his community.  But he sees his son and runs to greet him.  Jewish elders did not run for anyone.  To run would be considered undignified, an act that was beneath his position in life.  But this Father runs as soon as he says his son far away in the distance and doesn’t stop until he reaches him.
  • “His lavish welcome is of course the point of the story: Jesus is explaining why there is a party, why it’s something to celebrate when people turn from going their own way and begin to go God’s way…..the father’s closing line says it all. ‘This my son was dead and is alive.  He was lost and now is found.’  How could this not be a cause of celebration?” N. T. Wright
  • There is another dimension of this story that exists.  Consider the exodus from Egypt and then the subsequent exile into Babylon many years later.  Although many of the exiles returned, most of Jesus’ contemporaries believed they were still living in virtual exile under pagan rule.  They were all waiting for a new exodus, to be liberated from the pagan powers.  The story of the prodigal son would be seen by many as a reference to the hope of Israel.  The concept of resurrection was used commonly to refer to the true return from exile.  This point would be nailed home when the Father says, “This son was dead and is alive.”
  • Jesus was declaring that the new exodus was happening at that very moment.  When people repent and turn to God they are returning from exile.  God was fulfilling his promise to Israel but not in a way that was expected by the religious leaders.  Wasn’t that a good reason to throw a party?  Jesus thought it was.
  • So back to the main point of this parable, God’s costly love.  There is probably no better illustration in all the Bible of what God’s love is like (aside from the Cross).  It is now up to me to imitate and share this love with all those lost sons in the world.  Will I imitate the father or will I act like the older son?  We will deal with that question in the next post.

Luke 14:12-24 The Parable of the Great Banquet

September 3, 2009

Somehow I skipped this passage so I’m posting it up now.

The Parable of the Great Banquet

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 [1] 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.”

15 When one of those who reclined at table with him heard these things, he said to him, “Blessed is everyone who will eat bread in the kingdom of God!” 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 [2] 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, [3] none of those men who were invited shall taste my banquet.’”

  • vs. 12-14 Once again, Jesus tells people to do something contrary to normal thinking.  Don’t invite family and friends, but invite the poor and disabled.
  • Jesus means for this advice to be taken literally.  This first part is not a parable, the parable follows in verses 15-24.  Who am I inviting to dinner?
  • vs 15-24 The parable of the great banquet.  Those who are invited to the party refuse to come.  They have excuses.  They may seem legitimate but they are unacceptable.  The master will have guests at his party and therefore goes and invites those in unconventional locations.
  • The first level of meaning.  Jesus has been traveling around inviting people to God’s great banquet.  But more often than not, he is refused.  Recall the parable of the sower, most of the seed falls on soil which is unfruitful.  However, some have accepted the invitation; the poor and disabled.
  • The second level of meaning.  The expected guests at God’s banquet are the Jewish people.  They are the invited ones.  But like the parable, they have too many excuses and refuse the invitation.  Of course, many Jewish people in Luke’s time did accept the invitation but the majority of them did not.  Therefore, God’s messengers went out to the Gentiles and to the entire world to invite people to the party.
  • The third level of meaning.  To join the party you have to accept and welcome all who are there.  God’s banquet is for all people.  There is no room for prejudice or self-righteousness.
  • “Once again, therefore, the challenge comes to us today.  Christians reading this, anywhere in the world, must work out in their own churches and families what it would mean to celebrate God’s kingdom so that the people at the bottom of the pile, at the end of the line, would find it good news.  It isn’t enough to say that we ourselves are the people dragged in from the country lanes, to our surprise, to enjoy God’s party.  That may be true; but party guests are then expected to become party hosts in their turn.” N.T. Wright
  • What a great quote.  Party guests are to become part hosts.  Am I just a guest or am I a host?  Am I being selective in who I invite to the party?  Do I see people at the party and wish they weren’t there?  These are serious questions I need to answer.  These are serious questions that any true disciple of Jesus Christ needs to answer.

Luke 15:1-10 The Parables of the Lost Sheep and the Lost Coin

September 2, 2009


The Parable of the Lost Sheep

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

3 So he told them this parable: 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.

The Parable of the Lost Coin

8 “Or what woman, having ten silver coins, [1] 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.”


  • One person’s celebration can be really annoying for someone else, especially if they don’t understand the reason for the party.” N.T. Wright
  • Jesus was celebrating.  The pharisees and the legal experts were annoyed.  Why was Jesus celebrating and why were the Pharisees annoyed?
  • The Pharisees and legal experts were annoyed because of who Jesus was celebrating with.  Tax-collectors and sinners.
  • The tax-collectors were disliked for obvious reasons.  No one really likes them.  They collected money for either Herod or the Romans, or both.  In addition they would most likely be in contact with Gentiles which would make them unclean.
  • The term sinners here in verse 1 could mean an assortment of people.  However, they were people who the self-appointed experts deemed irreligious and unrighteous according to their version of the Mosaic law.
  • Of course Jesus is not implying in this chapter that such people (tax-collectors and sinners) should be accepted as they stand.  They were expected to repent.  The lost sheep and lost coin were found.  However, Jesus’ understanding of repentance was different from his critics.
  • To the Pharisees repentance meant that people must adopt their standards of purity and law-observance.  To Jesus, one only had to follow him and follow his way.  Jesus also seems to be implying in this passage that the Pharisees and legal experts themselves need to repent.  Read verse 7, perhaps there is some sarcasm in this statement. The ninety-nine righteous persons who don’t need to repent.  Yeah right.
  • “The point of the parables is then clear.  This is why there’s a party going on: all heaven is having a party, the angels are joining in, and if we don’t have one as well we’ll be out of tune with God’s reality.” N.T. Wright
  • The Jews believed that heaven and earth were meant to be together.  What happened in heaven should happen on earth.  The closest the Jews could get to heaven was the Temple.  But only the priests could access the Temple and only through strict purity requirements.  The closest the non-priests could get to heaven was to maintain a strict purity and observance of the law in every aspect of their life.
  • Jesus was now declaring that heaven was having a great party every time a single sinner repented.  If we want to get close to heaven then we better have a party too.  That is exactly what Jesus was doing.
  • The sheep and coin weren’t themselves special.  However, they were lost.  Imagine how these parables made the repentant tax-collectors and sinners feel.  God went searching for them even though they were sinners.  And then celebrated when he found them.   How encouraging!!
  • “And what Jesus did – this is the deepest point of these parables, and the ultimate reason why the Pharisees objected to them – was what God was doing.  Jesus’ actions on earth correspond exactly to God’s love in the heavenly realm.”  N.T. Wright
  • Does the world see me celebrating and get annoyed?  Am I actively searching for those lost sheep and lost coins?  Do my actions on a day to day basis correspond with God’s love?  Its time to throw a party.

Luke 14:1-11 Jesus and the Pharisee

July 6, 2009
The Wedding Feast by Tintoretto

The Wedding Feast by Tintoretto

Healing of a Man on the Sabbath

14:1 One Sabbath, when he went to dine at the house of a ruler of the Pharisees, they were watching him carefully. 2 And behold, there was a man before him who had dropsy. 3 And Jesus responded to the lawyers and Pharisees, saying, “Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath, or not?” 4 But they remained silent. Then he took him and healed him and sent him away. 5 And he said to them, “Which of you, having a son [1] or an ox that has fallen into a well on a Sabbath day, will not immediately pull him out?” 6 And they could not reply to these things.

The Parable of the Wedding Feast

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.”

  • Luke has more meal-time scenes than any of the other gospels.
  • Luke 14 has two parables about feasting.  The one in verses 7-11 is the first.  This parable seems to be just a simple piece of social advice to avoid embarrassment but verse 7 declares that it is a parable and thus it must have a deeper meaning.
  • Jesus is talking about the way in which religious leaders of his day were concerned with their position in the eyes of God.  They wanted to be first.  They wanted to push themselves forward to gain a higher standing.  These were the sort of people we find Jesus with in verse 1-6.
  • Jesus was warning against self-righteousness, considering oneself better than others in the sight of God.  The pharisees and lawyers thought they were superior to the poor and untrained person.  They were the ones trained in the law while the common person was not.
  • There was also a wider meaning in this parable.  God was opening up his Kingdom to the gentile population.  Many non-Jewish people would become Christians later in the story (read Acts) and would take their seats at the wedding feast.  The Jewish Christians would have a hard time accepting this.  They were too worried about maintaining their own places at the top of the table.  “Pride, notoriously, is the great cloud which blots out the sun of God’s generosity: if I reckon that I deserve to be favored by God, not only do I declare that I don’t need grace, mercy, and love but I imply that those who don’t deserve it shouldn’t have it.” N.T. Wright
  • Jesus was proclaiming God’s love and generosity.  Am I small-minded?  Have I become self-righteous?  Do I withhold God’s love from others?  Am I to worried about my place at the table?  These are good questions to ask.  I need God’s love and mercy and I need to share that same love and mercy freely to all people.

Luke 13:1-9 The Parable of the Fig Tree

June 17, 2009

Repent or Perish

13:1 There were some present at that very time who told him about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices. 2 And he answered them, “Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans, because they suffered in this way? 3 No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.4 Or those eighteen on whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them: do you think that they were worse offenders than all the others who lived in Jerusalem? 5 No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.”

The Parable of the Barren Fig Tree

6 And he told this parable: “A man had a fig tree planted in his vineyard, and he came seeking fruit on it and found none. 7 And he said to the vinedresser, ‘Look, for three years now I have come seeking fruit on this fig tree, and I find none. Cut it down. Why should it use up the ground?’ 8 And he answered him, ‘Sir, let it alone this year also, until I dig around it and put on manure. 9 Then if it should bear fruit next year, well and good; but if not, you can cut it down.’”

  • Pilate was not a nice guy.  The historian Josephus mentions several things that Pilate did that upset the local Jewish population.  So it is not surprising that he slaughtered these Galileans, who were on pilgrimage to the Temple.
  • Guess what?  Jesus and his disciples were Galileans on their way to Jerusalem.  Would Jesus continue his journey after hearing this news?  And what did this mean?  Jesus had been warning of a pending crisis.  Was this part of it?  Were these Galileans being punished?
  • Jesus will address the first question later.  But he tackles the second question by pointing out that these Galileans were no worse than any others.  But unless you repent you will all be destroyed the same way.
  • Destroyed the same way?  This is not a warning about hell.  It is a warning about the coming destruction of Jerusalem, which Jesus has been continuoslywarning about.  Unless they change their direction, their rebellion against God and Rome, Pilate will get them as well.
  • Jesus mentions the tower in Siloam.  Siloam was a part of Jerusalem.  When Jerusalem is destroyed, many buildings will be demolished and many people will be crushed by falling stones.  Unless the people repent and accept God’s kingdom.
  • This point is then strengthened with the parable of the fig tree.  There are two ways to interpret the story.  The first is with Jesus as the vineyard owner.  He comes to the garden (Israel) seeking the fruit of repentance and has found none.  He is now giving Israel one more chance to repent.  If not, they will be cut down.  The second way to interpret the story is with God as the vineyard owner and Jesus as the gardener.  Jesus is trying hard to fertilize the soil so it will bear fruit.  Either way the end result is the same.
  • What is God up to in my world?  Am I bearing fruit for the Kingdom?  Am I daily practicing repentance in my life?

Luke 12:35-48 Jesus’ Call To Watchfulness

June 11, 2009

You Must Be Ready

35 “Stay dressed for action [1] and keep your lamps burning, 36 and be like men who are waiting for their master to come home from the wedding feast, so that they may open the door to him at once when he comes and knocks. 37 Blessed are those servants [2] whom the master finds awake when he comes. Truly, I say to you, he will dress himself for service and have them recline at table, and he will come and serve them. 38 If he comes in the second watch, or in the third, and finds them awake, blessed are those servants! 39 But know this, that if the master of the house had known at what hour the thief was coming, he [3] would not have left his house to be broken into. 40 You also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.”

41 Peter said, “Lord, are you telling this parable for us or for all?” 42 And the Lord said, “Who then is the faithful and wise manager, whom his master will set over his household, to give them their portion of food at the proper time?43 Blessed is that servant [4] whom his master will find so doing when he comes. 44 Truly, I say to you, he will set him over all his possessions. 45 But if that servant says to himself, ‘My master is delayed in coming,’ and begins to beat the male and female servants, and to eat and drink and get drunk, 46 the master of that servant will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour he does not know, and will cut him in pieces and put him with the unfaithful. 47 And that servant who knew his master’s will but did not get ready or act according to his will, will receive a severe beating. 48 But the one who did not know, and did what deserved a beating, will receive a light beating. Everyone to whom much was given, of him much will be required, and from him to whom they entrusted much, they will demand the more.

  • Wright compares the beginning portion of this passage to the first passover in Exodus 12.  The Israelites ate the meal already dressed for their journey.  Again Luke highlights the Exodus theme as Jesus journey’s on to Jerusalem.  People needed to be ready to go.
  • Is Jesus talking about his second coming?  Or perhaps he is talking about events in the near future?  Jesus shows a strong sense of urgency and uses the servant/master analogy.  Wright thinks that Jesus is talking about events which would occur within the lifetime of his followers.  “He (Jesus) is now warning that a crisis is coming, a great showdown for which one must be prepared in the same way as servants who listen eagerly for their master’s footfall and knock at the door.  Jesus seems to have envisaged a coming moment at which the forces of light and darkness would engage in a terrible battle, resulting in his own death, and a devastating catastrophe for Israel in general and Jerusalem in particular.” N.T. Wright
  • The disciples would soon be facing a very serious test.  There was no time to relax or be content.  Jesus knows the time is nearing.  He is on his way to Jerusalem.  He is warning his disciples to be ready.
  • Peter’s question makes sense.  Is Jesus talking to the disciples or to Israel as a whole?  Yes and Yes.  This is the beginning of several warnings in Luke about what will happen to Israel if they are not ready when the master returns.  See Luke 19:11-27.
  • As a disciple of Jesus Christ I have a great responsibility as a servant for my master.  When the master comes, will he find me busy doing his work, or will he find me being lazy and taking it easy?  What is my sense of urgency like?  Time is not guaranteed.

Luke 12:13-34 The Parable of the Rich Fool

June 9, 2009
The Rich Fool

The Rich Fool

The Parable of the Rich Fool

13 Someone in the crowd said to him, “Teacher, tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me.” 14 But he said to him, “Man, who made me a judge or arbitrator over you?” 15 And he said to them, “Take care, and be on your guard against all covetousness, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.” 16 And he told them a parable, saying, “The land of a rich man produced plentifully, 17 and he thought to himself, ‘What shall I do, for I have nowhere to store my crops?’ 18 And he said, ‘I will do this: I will tear down my barns and build larger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. 19 And I will say to my soul, Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years; relax, eat, drink, be merry.’ 20 But God said to him, ‘Fool! This night your soul is required of you, and the things you have prepared, whose will they be?’ 21 So is the one who lays up treasure for himself and is not rich toward God.”

Do Not Be Anxious

22 And he said to his disciples, “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat, nor about your body, what you will put on. 23 For life is more than food, and the body more than clothing. 24 Consider the ravens: they neither sow nor reap, they have neither storehouse nor barn, and yet God feeds them. Of how much more value are you than the birds! 25 And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? [1] 26 If then you are not able to do as small a thing as that, why are you anxious about the rest? 27 Consider the lilies, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, [2] yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.28 But if God so clothes the grass, which is alive in the field today, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, how much more will he clothe you, O you of little faith! 29 And do not seek what you are to eat and what you are to drink, nor be worried. 30 For all the nations of the world seek after these things, and your Father knows that you need them.31 Instead, seek his [3] kingdom, and these things will be added to you.

32 “Fear not, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom. 33 Sell your possessions, and give to the needy. Provide yourselves with moneybags that do not grow old, with a treasure in the heavens that does not fail, where no thief approaches and no moth destroys. 34 For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.

  • “The modern western world is built on anxiety.” N.T. Wright
  • Who was Jesus speaking to?  Rich people?  Not likely.  The majority of Jeus’ audience was probably just getting by.  Lower middle class blue collar people who were one step away from poverty.
  • Anxiety is a killer.  Stress can lead to sickness and disease.  Jesus confronts the heart of who we are in this passage.  Not only will Jesus’ commands lead to good health, they will change the core of my being.  “This wasn’t just good advice on how to live a happy, carefree life.  This was a challenge to the very centre of his world.” N.T. Wright
  • This man who asks Jesus to arbitrate in a property dispute was typical of people in the Jewish culture.  Possession of the land was extremely important.  Families would cling to their land at the cost of their lives.  Therefore, inheritance and maintenance of the family property was so important to this man.
  • Jesus wanted to change this mindset.  Jesus wasn’t securing the defense of Israel but was opening up the gates to all people.  Israel as a nation was much like the man in the parable who wanted the security of his possessions.  Possessions and land will not make you secure.  What is God’s answer to this attitude?  “You fool!”
  • “The Kingdom of God is, at it’s heart, about God’s sovereignty sweeping the world with love and power, so that human beings, each made in God’s image and each loved dearly, may relax in the knowledge that God is in control.” N.T. Wright  The point about the birds is not some new age naturalism.  It’s about how God loves to take care of us, he loves to give us gifts.  God is not a distant far off God.  If that was so then we would have a lot to worry about.  But God is our Father, right beside us.  What do we have to worry for?
  • Jesus’ final command to sell possessions strikes to the heart of the entire passage.  I need not clutch and grasp on to my possessions but I should freely give and share what I have with God’s Kingdom.  It’s only when we truly let go that we become secure.
  • “Treasure in heaven”  This is not about some treasure we will gain after we die.  This is about bringing heaven to earth, like we pray in the Lord’s prayer.  “What matters is that the Kingdom of God is bringing the values and priorities of God himself to bear on the greed and anxiety of the world.” N.T. Wright  When we bring heaven to earth, that will be eternal.  But our homes, cars, televisions, stereos, cell phones, I-Pods, and whatever else we possess in this life are only temporary.

Luke 10:25-37 The Parable of the Good Samaritan

May 20, 2009
The Good Samaritan

The Good Samaritan

The Parable of the Good Samaritan

25 And behold, a lawyer stood up to put him to the test, saying, “Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?”26 He said to him, “What is written in the Law? How do you read it?” 27 And he answered, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.” 28 And he said to him, “You have answered correctly; do this, and you will live.”

29 But he, desiring to justify himself, said to Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?” 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 [1] 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.”

 

  • “The best known stories are sometimes the hardest to understand.” N.T. Wright  This is true of the Parable of the Good Samaritan.
  • General moral understanding – if you see someone in need, go and help them regardless of their race or religion.  But what did Jesus really mean?
  • The Jews and Samaritans hated each other.  Both claimed to be the true children of Abraham.  Both felt they had claim to the land.  They were bordering neighbors.  In fact people traveling to and from Jerusalem would go around Samaria, traveling a longer distance to avoid contact with Samaritans.
  • This route contained many twists and turns, and was an ideal place for outlaws and brigands to hide and prey on unsuspecting travelers.  Especially lonely travels like the man in Jesus’ story.
  • And for those who were left half dead, it would be difficult for those passing by to tell if the man was dead or alive.  This is why the Levite and priest just pass by.  If they touched the man and he was dead, they would be unclean and would not be able to serve in the temple.  They would rather preserve their purity than uphold God’s law of love.
  • The lawyer wanted to know who his “neighbor” was.  To him his fellow Jews were his neighbors.  To Jesus a neighbor is anyone in need.  Could the lawyer recognize the hated Samaritan as his neighbor?
  • Jesus is offering the way of peace, the way of grace.  The Jewish leaders were not inclined towards peace but towards confrontation.
  • Who are God’s people?  The Jews believed they were.  The Samaritans believed they were.  The lawyer tries to trick Jesus into saying something that would incriminate him in front of the people.  The lawyer wanted to justify himself.  He knew the scriptures, he already knew the answer, or so he thought.  Jesus turns the table on the lawyer by revealing that it is not enough to have the right answers.  Jesus shows that the true fulfillment of God’s commands is to recognize those in need and to help them.  To love them.  God’s people are those who live this way.
  • “What is at stake then and now is the question of whether we will use the God-given revelation of love and grace as a way of boosting our own sense of isolated security and purity, or whether we will see it as a call and challenge to extend that love and grace to the whole world.” N.T Wright
  • Have I limited my love to certain types of people?  Have I passed by half dead people?  Am I living like one of God’s true children?  I was half dead once, and someone came and took care of my wounds.  Have I now become the lawyer or the Levite and priest?  Do I recognize that this world is in need of God’s love and grace?  This is very convicting.  No one wants to think they are like the lawyer but how many people in need spiritually do I pass by each day and do nothing?  I need to go and do likewise!!