Tag Archives: Parables of Jesus

Jesus’ reasons for unbelief – the parable of the sower. Matt 13:1-9

We hear all sorts of reasons for unbelief.

But every time I read the parable of the sower I’m struck by its reach. Is there a reason advanced for unbelief that’s not included in the parable?

Jesus compares people who hear the word to seed that falls on the edge of a path.

The seed of the word is sown in the heart but there’s no understanding. Where there is no understanding, abandonment follows.

The heart is simply not receptive – receptivity is the precondition of understanding – the heart is not open, and entry through anything that’s closed solidly is difficult. The word simply bounces off non-receptive hard objects and falls away.

Next, Jesus compares people who hear his teaching to the seed that falls on patches of rock. It lacks both rich soil and deep roots.

When confronted with human suffering and human failure including outrageous scandal – scorching sun – the faith of some people withers because it’s not deeply rooted in the rich soil that is Jesus Christ.

Scorching and withering – apt descriptions of human suffering and failure.

That objections to God using this very argument can attract millions of views on YouTube suggests that many have not taken Jesus and his teaching seriously. The God that many refuse to believe in is not the God found in the teaching of Jesus Christ. They dismiss a God unrelated to Jesus Christ!

Next, Jesus compares people who hear the word to seed falling in thorns; falling in the midst of the worries of this world and the lure of riches the seed is choked to death! A strong image, mind. Choked, and common parlance adds “the living daylights out of!”

It’s dramatic, but for most people the choking happens unconsciously. It’s simply that other stuff – the cares of this world (interests that are good and wholesome in themselves) and the pursuit of wealth – take our hearts. For many the interests become false gods.

Is there a source of unbelief that’s not covered in this parable?

It seems that many people attempt to believe without Jesus Christ and his teaching which means they end up struggling to believe at all.

Thirty-third Sunday: Making a profit for God

Basic theme: If we prove to God that we can be trusted with his interests in this life, indeed with this life itself, then he’ll trust us with the next life.

Our life’s work then is to use everything we’ve got in such a way that God gets the benefit.

In other words life is not about us. Not a single detail of our lives is really about us!

So, to the parable, Matthew 25:14-30

The man entrusting his property is God.

He entrusts his property to servants; we’re the servants. His property is everything we’ve got, this life we’ve been entrusted with, which is not really ours but his; to be used for God’s benefit.

He then goes abroad; that’s how many perceive God, as being abroad!

“Now a long time after” he returns to go through his accounts; “a long time after” is our length

"Now a long time after the master of those servants came back and went through his accounts with them"

“Now a long time after the master of those servants came back and went through his accounts with them”

of years, long enough to lose our way! Going through his accounts is our final judgement.

To one he’d given five talents, to another two, to a third one. Two of the three make a profit, the guy with five makes five more, the guy with two makes two more but the guy with one gives back the one.

It’s the guy who made nothing that I’m interested in; what he had was taken from him and given to the guys who’d already proved they could make a return.

This is a common theme in the teaching of Jesus.

Spiritually naive! There's no such thing as the Church dying. There's only the kingdom of God being taken from a people who've failed to produce its fruit and being given to a people who will produce something.

Spiritually naive! There’s no such thing as the Church dying. There’s only the kingdom of God being taken from a people who’ve failed to produce its fruit and being given to a people who will produce something.

Spiritually there is no such thing as the Church dying, there is only the kingdom of God (what else can the Church be about?) being taken from a people who’ve failed to produce its fruit and being given to others who will produce something.

Notice too that this is good business sense and once again Jesus is using something we all understand – good business sense – and using it to teach us about God.

Finally, notice that the guy doesn’t do anything wrong, he keeps his talent safe, afraid to trade, and gives back what he’d received but without gaining anything for God.

His offence? He fails to become God’s missionary!

What on earth do you think life is for?

Sixteenth Sunday Year A: What good is anything if you’ve nowhere to go?

IMG_1479God in his essence is simple. He’s clouded in mystery and we mistake the mystery for difficulty but God is not difficult… as the parables reveal.

The kingdom of God on earth may be compared to a field of wheat and weeds…

This is a very startling way to describe the kingdom of God on earth.

We think there shouldn’t be any weeds in the Church, never mind the kingdom of God!

Yet here, two thousand years ago, Christ tells us what his kingdom on earth looks like… a field of wheat and weeds.

Would you have used such an image to describe the kingdom of God? I don’t think you would. We’re very good at imposing our kingdom on God’s kingdom! It doesn’t work.

Here’s another question: If we’re willing to disassociate ourselves from the Church because of the presence of weeds then how can we possibly know anything of the kingdom of God as understood by Jesus – anything of this kingdom?

Two thousand years have come and gone and we still haven’t understood this.

He makes an interesting observation about the danger of weeding out the weeds – some of the wheat will come with it. It happens – to this day.

Most interesting though is his assertion that at harvest time it’ll be sorted.

Here Jesus indicates – as he often did – that there is ultimate justice.

This means that there is no future in a life of sin.

It means there is no such thing as ‘getting away with it’ – ‘getting away with it’ is temporary, a short reprieve, like the weeds growing with the wheat until harvest time.

It means there is no future in dishonesty, fraud, theft, murder…

It means that if you’ve been successful by immoral means then you have no future… except to put right the wrong you’ve done. You are nothing more than a weed waiting for harvest time!

As Jesus asked elsewhere; what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and yet lose his very soul?

What good is anything if you have nowhere to go?

Mercy is about turning weeds into wheat. It’s never about leaving weeds unchanged!

God in his essence is really very simple… if we’d only listen to the parables and stop imposing our kingdom on God’s kingdom!