Showing posts with label Parables. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Parables. Show all posts

Sunday, February 18, 2024

Of Feasts, Brides, Servants and Virgins

Western culture separates the wedding ceremony from the wedding celebration, usually by no more than a few hours. Jewish culture in the first century did too, but between the legal contract of marriage [erusin] signed by the husband and the bride’s father and its celebration and consummation [nissuin] lay a considerably longer interval. The marriage supper and its aftermath might take place weeks, months or years after the signing of the contract.

It might even be indefinitely postponed, assuming we are reading the relevant instructions in 1 Corinthians correctly.

Sunday, April 02, 2023

Mustard Seed and Leaven

Matthew 13 neatly collects many of the Lord’s kingdom parables in a single chapter, which is appropriate since Jesus taught seven of these on the same day, some by the sea to a large crowd, and others indoors to his disciples only. Among the parables he shared with the crowds (but did not explain to them) were two that were obviously intended to go together: the first compared the kingdom of heaven to a mustard seed that grew into a great tree, the second compared it to leaven that contaminated three measures of flour.

That must have left more than a few Jews scratching their heads. More than a few Christians are still scratching theirs over them.

Tuesday, October 04, 2022

Five Brief Thoughts About Forgiveness

I find it is all but impossible to exhaust the Lord’s parables. There are always more principles to learn from them and new ways they might legitimately be applied. So don’t mistake the following for an attempt to fully exposit Matthew 18:21-35. I am just nibbling around the edges.

What I do find useful is to work my way through the parable eliminating the obvious. Once that is done, I can give slightly-less-confused consideration to the possibilities that remain.

Wednesday, August 18, 2021

Bible Study 11 — Context [Part 5]

Another instalment in the re-presentation of our 2013-2014 series about studying the Bible using methods deduced from the Bible itself. The series introduction can be found here.

The second Bible study tool we are discussing is context. For justification, see the first post on this subject.

Wednesday, January 13, 2021

Too Close to Home

Robert Barron comments on the parable of the wedding feast in Matthew:

“Many devout believers find the brutality and violence of the story hard to take. In a very secularized society where people have lost the sense of God, you have to shake them into awareness with a shocking story with very exaggeratedly-drawn characters, with macabre and violent shocking action.”

Barron goes on to tell his listeners not to interpret the parable in a straightforward, literal way, or to compare this “crazy king” directly to God in every respect. He suggests the Lord was just using strong language to get our attention, to “grab us by the shoulders and shake us awake”.

Wednesday, April 15, 2020

God’s Photo Album

The Bible is full of pictures.

Now, illustrations — whether they are symbols, metaphors, or even when they come in the form of full-blown parables — are not reality, and it does us good to keep that in mind. They are useful snapshots in which we may catch glimpses of ourselves, of God, and of spiritual truths we might otherwise miss. To ensure we don’t, God has given them to us in a form we can easily process and relate to, one which often stirs an emotional reaction that can bring us to repentance, awe, appreciation or some other good state. For example, Nathan’s story about the poor man’s ewe lamb drove David into a righteous rage ... until he realized the story was all about him.

Tuesday, July 02, 2019

Quote of the Day (41)

In a week when the usual suspects have been howling for a “disproportionate response” to the downing of a U.S. navy spy drone, it’s refreshing to find a commentator who prefers violent provocations be met with no response at all.

Don’t worry, this is not about the Strait of Hormuz or what constitutes Iranian airspace. The provocation is storyline-only, and the response to it is disproportionate only if you fail to consider the circumstances in which it occurs.

Sunday, October 21, 2018

Deprived of this Grace

I’ve been struck lately by the relevance of the Lord’s kingdom parables to the whole issue of John Calvin’s concept of election.

You may have noticed that the Lord’s disciples appear to be not entirely comfortable with the whole ‘parables’ concept. We know this because they have to ask the Lord to explain the parables to them, and enthuse about it when he does. They obviously find themselves on surer ground when he speaks “plainly” than when he tells stories that require interpretation.

But the Lord explains the reason for parables to them in this way:

“To you has been given the secret of the kingdom of God, but for those outside everything is in parables, so that ‘they may indeed see but not perceive, and may indeed hear but not understand, lest they should turn and be forgiven.’ ”

On the face of it, this sounds terribly determinist, doesn’t it.

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Semi-Random Musings (8)

“Darwinism was once a well-fortified castle, with elaborate towers, moats, and battlements,” says author Tom Bethell. “Today, however, it more closely resembles a house of cards, built out of flimsy icons rather than hard evidence, and liable to blow away in the slightest breeze.” So begins Darwin’s House of Cards: A Journalist’s Odyssey Through the Darwin Debates.

What isn’t initially obvious is that the “debates” in view are almost all in-house, which to me is a big selling point. Rather than rehash the arguments of creationists, Bethell has instead elected to draw his citations primarily from a murderer’s row of big names on the other side of the table who stray here and there from Darwinian orthodoxy.

As you might anticipate, where weaknesses in their case have come to light through disagreements in the evolutionist camp, these have not always been well-publicized.

Tuesday, June 05, 2018

Two Verses, Three Interpretations

My preferred interpretation of yesterday’s kingdom parable has precious little in it that directly applies to the church, so I thought today we might consider two more verses from Matthew 13’s prophetic look at the kingdom of heaven from the perspective of the first century Jew.

In this case, the text is even shorter than yesterday’s parable (at least in English), but the folks that gave us chapters and verses in our Bibles elected to chop this verse in half.

And so long as we’re all talking about the same two verses, what does it really matter how they have been divided?

Monday, June 04, 2018

One Verse, Two Interpretations

One little verse in Matthew 13 …

It’s not the only kingdom parable in our Bibles told in a single verse, but it manages to pack eight or more possible points of correspondence with an important spiritual reality into thirty-something English words, depending on your translation.

Thus it’s long enough to be interesting, but short enough to mull over in a blog post rather than a book.

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Always Misunderstood

ViralCraze’s “10 Bible Verses That Are Always Misunderstood” explains the parable of the Good Samaritan ... by not really explaining it:

“Jesus asked the question, ‘Who is your neighbor?’ The simple answer is the one who you choose to show mercy to.”

This is the generally accepted response, and it’s not entirely wrong. Still, a careful reading of the passage shows it is not quite what the Lord Jesus said.

In fact, the parable is not about identifying our neighbor at all.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Repent or Perish

Most people understand (or intuit) as they read a Bible that its chapter and verse divisions are a choice made by translators or copyists. They may be good choices or bad ones, but they are not part of the revelation of God. They are not ‘inspired’ in the sense the word itself is.

Usually they are pretty decent. However, I probably would’ve broken up the Lord’s speech in Luke 12 and 13 a little differently.

Just saying.

Saturday, June 07, 2014

Monday, June 02, 2014

Bible Study 11 — Context [Part 5]

The most recent version of this post is available here.

Monday, April 28, 2014

Christians and the Media: Field Day

People who have not spent a great deal of time around serious Christians are often surprised, on the rare occasions when they finally do, to find that we are not always exactly the way we are frequently portrayed in popular culture.

Some Christians, notably Cory Copeland, a writer for Relevant, think any disconnect between the way we are portrayed in the media and the way we actually behave is … kind of our fault, actually.
“The truth is that there are some so-called Christians who quite closely mirror the Christian characters we watch on television and film. They’re loud and proud and angry in God. They stare down their “opponents” with judgmental eyes and damning language. They protest funerals and vomit epithets at people they’ve deemed sinners.                                                                        
And on some level, most of us are guilty of some of this type of behavior. Maybe not to those extremes, but we too judge, condemn and feel “better than,” while refusing to admit our own faults. For the more dogmatic Christians and for us, it doesn’t matter that how we behave, how we treat people, how void we are of love and grace is a direct and vicious contradiction of everything the Bible teaches us of God and His ways.”
Okay, so … Fred Phelps. Bit of a straw man, Cory.