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7. The Parables

Updated: Apr 28, 2023




New Testament


After this, Jesus traveled about from one town and village to another, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom of God. The Twelve were with him, While a large crowd was gathering and people were coming to Jesus from town after town, he told this parable: “A farmer went out to sow his seed. As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path; it was trampled on, and the birds ate it up. Some fell on rocky ground, and when it came up, the plants withered because they had no moisture. Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up with it and choked the plants. Still other seed fell on good soil. It came up and yielded a crop, a hundred times more than was sown.”


When he said this, he called out, “Whoever has ears to hear, let them hear.” His disciples asked him what this parable meant. He said, “The knowledge of the secrets of the kingdom of God has been given to you, but to others I speak in parables, so that,“ ‘though seeing, they may not see; though hearing, they may not understand.’ Luke 8: 1-10


The year of the Lord for Jesus is a mere three and a half years. Jesus had so little time to teach his chosen twelve disciples before he will be put to death. Such a short time to usher in and remind the creation of the kingdom of God. So little time to open their hearts to see and hear and remember their true home and their true father. Remember how in the beginning, the kingdom of God was the entire exquisite creation, but broken now into the separate kingdoms of the heavens and the earth? Remember that Satan has been given authority to roam the earth and lead God's people astray? The Trinity so desired their creation to defeat the evil that resided within their hearts and to choose them over sin. Our Father still so desires for us to turn away from the lusts of the earth and choose him over temptation.


These twelve were to carry the message of the redemption of the creation throughout the world. In other words, these twelve would be responsible for saving the world with Christ’s gift of the good news, the gospel. And yet, Jesus recognizes their inability to perceive, and understand. His parables are so very elemental, so simple and yet they cannot or will not “hear” them. You can “hear” his desperation. Jesus spoke in parables as a teacher would speak in simple stories to small children. Are we really so lacking of comprehension and understanding to require such simple instruction? Yes, apparently, we are:


“This is the meaning of the parable: The seed is the word of God. Those along the path are the ones who hear, and then the devil comes and takes away the word from their hearts, so that they may not believe and be saved. Those on the rocky ground are the ones who receive the word with joy when they hear it, but they have no root. They believe for a while, but in the time of testing they fall away. The seed that fell among thorns stands for those who hear, but as they go on their way they are choked by life’s worries, riches and pleasures, and they do not mature. But the seed on good soil stands for those with a noble and good heart, who hear the word, retain it, and by persevering produce a crop. Luke 8: 11-15


Remember in the last lesson, the two men who could not follow Jesus? “No one who puts a hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God.” Jesus is not interested in earthly grain. With the Twelve, Jesus is gathering the spiritual seed growing on the good soil; now that seed must learn to hear the word and produce fruit. Soon in Jesus' short time, they must learn to turn to the light of Christ and drink in the living water of the Holy Spirit. That crop of fruit will be the renewed kingdom of God.


Jesus' parables, simple stories of everyday earthly things had spiritual, heavenly truths hidden within them. Jesus desperately needs his disciples to see and hear the cosmic reality beyond their small earthly existence.. What was natural for them, what they witnessed in their earthbound surroundings, was but an echo of the spiritual truths within the supernatural heavens. The disciples that Jesus choses are not the highly educated leaders of the Jewish community. Jesus will not speak to them in the language of scholars. Instead, he will speak in simple parables. The leaders will not understand his simple words: “‘Though seeing, they may not see; though hearing, they may not understand.”


At the same time, Jesus must speak in a manner that doesn't give the Jewish leaders ammunition and cause to have him arrested. Jesus knows that this in fact will happen, has to happen, but he needs as much time as possible to gather followers by teaching them all about the forgotten broken remote kingdom of God. He has to remind them. He has to make their hearts receptive to his words, the Word. With the help of the Twelve, Jesus has to prepare the soil and scatter the seed. When he sent out the 72 in the last lesson, listen to his instructions:


He told them, “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field. Go! I am sending you out like lambs among wolves. Luke 10: 2-3


God’s beloved nation of Israel has become set and inflexible in its legalism. The Ten Commandments, given by the Lord to the stiff-necked Israelites in the desert to convict them of their sins, has become an impossible burden and all important to the leaders of the law. The Ten Commandments now imprison them in their rigidity. The beloved nation of Israel needs a savior, a messiah, to free them of their sins by fulfilling the requirements of the law. But the leaders will have none of it. They are too fat and wealthy in their comfort here under the oppression of the Romans:


“Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were not willing…” Matthew 23:37


The captive Israelites wandering in the desert and then living under the authority of the Romans were so slow to learn and so deaf to hear. To this day, we are slow to learn and deaf to hear as well. We are such stiff-necked, stupid children. But just as we earthly parents love our wayward, hardheaded children who refuse to obey us, so, no, more so, does God love us. God does so desire us to grow up, to return to Him as his beloved children. Can you imagine trying to speak to someone who has no idea of the wonder of the things that you have seen and heard? Jesus as Christ has seen and heard the beauty and glory of the heavens. Remember, it was Christ who was the Word that was breathed as the very creation came into being. The Israelites were so far removed from the heavenly home of their Lord:


For this people’s heart has become calloused; they hardly hear with their ears, and they have closed their eyes. Otherwise they might see with their eyes, hear with their ears, understand with their hearts and turn, and I would heal them.’ But blessed are your eyes because they see, and your ears because they hear. For truly I tell you, many prophets and righteous people longed to see what you see but did not see it, and to hear what you hear but did not hear it. Matthew 13: 10-17


And He was saying, “The kingdom of God is like a man who casts seed upon the soil… a treasure hidden in the field… a mustard seed… a dragnet cast into the sea… a man about to go on a journey…ten virgins, who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom…a man who sowed good seed in his field… a landowner who went out early in the morning to hire laborers for his vineyard…



 

Discussion


  • What have you compared to God’s kingdom in your life? Have you ever seen or heard the kingdom of God in your life? What were the circumstances?

  • What does the kingdom of God mean to you?

  • What does the kingdom of the earth mean to you?

  • How will the kingdom of God be different from the kingdom of the earth?

  • What is the kingdom of the heavens?

 

Old Testament


Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?”And I said, “Here am I. Send me!” He said, “Go and tell this people:


“Go and tell this people:

“‘Be ever hearing, but never understanding; be ever seeing, but never perceiving.’

Make the heart of this people calloused; make their ears dull and close their eyes. Otherwise they might see with their eyes, hear with their ears, understand with their hearts, and turn and be healed.’”

Then I said, “For how long, Lord?”…” Isaiah 6: 8-11


Before the birth of Christ as Jesus, the Lord, did not speak in simple parables. God, the Lord, spoke through action. The Old Testament stories of God’s kingdom are much larger in scope. If they could be told as parables, perhaps they would read as:


The kingdom of God is like a father who planted a beautiful garden for his children to enjoy with him but a serpent entered into the garden and convinced the children to hate and disobey the father. Those children and that serpent will be thrown out of the garden into the cold and inhospitable wilderness and all humanity will suffer death.


The kingdom of God is like the man who was asked to build a boat to both destroy and save the creation. The man builds the boat and the world is flooded. When the waters recede, that man and his small family will repopulate the world anew.


The kingdom of God is like a tower built of bricks high enough to reach the kingdom of the Heavens. That tower will be destroyed and those people will be scattered across the face of the earth.


The kingdom of God is like the son who was blessed by his father. He was given a large family full of children. Those children will be taken from him along with his wealth by the enemy but the man will continue to trust his father.


The kingdom of God is like a man whose wife was barren. He is given a son and then is asked to sacrifice that beloved son. With a heavy heart he agrees to the request. That man because of his steadfast heart will be freed from the request and will become the father of many nations.


The kingdom of God is like two cities that are full of the enemy’s sin. Those cities will be destroyed by the father and turned into salt.


The kingdom of God is like the man who was asked to battle a king and free his people out of bondage. His people will be forced to wander in the dessert for forty years because of their lack of faith in him, their savior.


The kingdom of God is like a youth too young to wear a man’s armor who slays a giant with a simple sling and stone.


The kingdom of God is like the man who is thrown into the lion’s den because he refused to worship another god. He will be ministered to by the angels and the lion’s mouth will be sealed shut.


The kingdom of God is like a baby born of a virgin to save the world…


Here is another parable told by Jesus further into his short time as he gathers seeds for a fruitful crop. He is in Jerusalem, in his Father’s house, the temple courts, surrounded by the chief priests, the teachers of the law, and the elders. The leaders question his authority and Jesus turns to the people, his people of Israel, who are gathered around him, hungry for his words, the Word:


He went on to tell the people this parable: “A man planted a vineyard, rented it to some farmers and went away for a long time. At harvest time he sent a servant to the tenants so they would give him some of the fruit of the vineyard. But the tenants beat him and sent him away empty-handed. He sent another servant, but that one also they beat and treated shamefully and sent away empty-handed. He sent still a third, and they wounded him and threw him out. “Then the owner of the vineyard said, ‘What shall I do? I will send my son, whom I love; perhaps they will respect him.’ “But when the tenants saw him, they talked the matter over. ‘This is the heir,’ they said. ‘Let’s kill him, and the inheritance will be ours.’ So they threw him out of the vineyard and killed him. “What then will the owner of the vineyard do to them? He will come and kill those tenants and give the vineyard to others.” When the people heard this, they said, “God forbid!”


Jesus looked directly at them and asked, “Then what is the meaning of that which is written:

“‘The stone the builders rejected has become the cornerstone’?


Everyone who falls on that stone will be broken to pieces; anyone on whom it falls will be crushed.”The teachers of the law and the chief priests looked for a way to arrest him immediately, because they knew he had spoken this parable against them. But they were afraid of the people. Luke 20: 9-19


Quoting a well known Psalm, ‘The stone the builders rejected has become the cornerstone’, Jesus supplies by parable that he himself will be that cornerstone and the builders, the Jewish leaders who reject him, will be the ones crushed. Isaiah asked God, For how long? This question is pondered and answered by every prophet in the bible: For how long will the Jewish people reject the Son of God who is this Son of Man? Until the Day of the Lord…the harvest at the end of the age…the return of Christ prophesied in the Book of Revelations.


Jesus also taught through his simple stories about his Second Coming. John, his youngest disciple, will witness these prophecies after Jesus’ death and resurrection much later in his earthly life. John’s Book of Revelations will not tell its story in elemental parables. It is grand and glorious, frightening and full of hope. It is tremendously cosmic and supernatural. It is awful and awesome.


 
  • Are you a parent? Are you a "good" one? What does that even mean? How hard is it to be a parent?

  • Do you have "good" children? Have they ever disappointed you? Have they pleased you?

  • Did you plan to have children? Why?

  • Why did God make us capable of having children?

  • Have you lost a child? What were the circumstances?

  • Why do we as humans fall in love?

  • Have you had your heart broken from love? Have you turned to hate?

  • What do you think about the God of the Old Testament? Do you understand him? Do you like him? Is he a "good" parent? Is he a "good" father?


 

The 29:11 Story


God’s stories of Adam and Eve, Noah and the Ark, the Tower of Babel, Job, Abraham and Sarah, the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah, David, Isaiah, and Daniel are all part of The 29:11 Story. These stories make up the downfall of the necklace as humanity falls deeper into sin and degradation as time advances and we fall further away from the presence of God and His glorious but broken kingdom. These stories relate God’s attempts to reach and redeem his people, his creation from their dual nature and the temptations of the enemy, Satan.


The kingdom of God is like a necklace…is like a beautiful glass globe that shatters… is like a puzzle with many pieces that cannot be understood until it is put together in its proper order…is like a telescope that allows the viewer to zoom in and out of time and place…



My Story


If you lose a child, you will gather other parents around you who have also lost children. We form our own little club. I often think about Herod’s edict to have all the baby boys killed in fear of the coming messiah. I remember the king of Egypt who commanded that all the baby boys born to the Israelites be killed for fear of the fruitful number of the Lord’s chosen people while they were his slaves. And of course, the Egyptians after the last and most horrific plague in which every firstborn was struck down by our God, the Lord. How much suffering and despair. The love a parent feels for a child is so overwhelming. The lost creates such a hole.


I have a friend who lost her beautiful son a couple of years after we lost our son. Jonathan was a friend of William’s from church. He was studying to become a nurse. Without a doubt, Jonathan was one of the most magnetic and delightful young men I’ve ever known. He was everyone’s friend regardless of their age. One morning, he kissed his mother goodbye, walked out the door, and was hit by a car as he rode his motorcycle to nursing school. One moment, Jonathan was alive, the next he was gone.


I got a phone call shortly after his accident from my dear friend, Jean, our minister’s wife, “Come now, Valerie is asking for you.” To lost a child after five years of suffering from cancer is horrendous. To lose one in a split second is beyond my imagination. There is simply no time for your heart and mind to adjust.


Just two years later, my dear friend, Valerie, and her husband, Paul, became guardians and took in their young niece and nephew. Their father was in prison and their mother had taken-up with a man who was dealing drugs. The children were malnourished and neglected. These two little children were so damaged. The love a child feels for a parent is so overwhelming.


That small house was once again full. The loss for both the parents of Jonathan and the children of their mother remained but they were brought together in their need. When the little girl was a couple of years older, someone in the family had a small accident with their car and the bumper was destroyed but the rest of the car was not damaged. This little girl said to Valerie, “You’re my bumper.”


The kingdom of God is like a car that safely carries you on the dangerous roads of life,… is like a mother and father who lose a child and then receive two more in his place,… is like a child who loses her mother and home and is rescued by a family into their house and given good food and a comfortable bed and a parents that care for her…




 

Closing

  • What surprised you today?

  • What new connections in the Bible did you make today?

  • What questions do you want to explore further about today's study?


 

Digging Deeper


  1. Take some time to read some of Jesus’ parables.

  2. Read the Old Testament parable found in 2 Samuel 11-12: 25. Can you find David and Solomon on the 29:11 Story? Can you find Bathsheba?

  3. Read 1 Corinthians 3: 1-3. What is the parable here?

  4. Read Ephesians 1: 17-19 What does this add to this lesson? This is one of my most loved verses to talk about with my students and my women at the 29:11 house. Why?

  5. Read Isaiah 5: 1-7. What does this sound like in our lesson?

  6. Read John 2:19-22. What is the context to this passage? What is the parable or analogy?

  7. Read Mark 14: 58. What is the context here?

  8. Read Revelation 21 again. What do you learn about the temple?

  9. Now read Revelation 14: 14-20. How many harvests are there? Is this a parable?

  10. Read Revelation 11: 15, and 12: 10-12. What does John learn about the kingdom of the world? the kingdom of our God?

  11. Read Matthew 13: 24-43. Now read Revelation 1. How does this relate to Revelation 20 which you read in the last lesson on Satan?

 



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