We are taking a break for the summer until futher notice.

Welcome to Week 3 of The Parables by Hamptom Keathley IV Th.M - Finish up Parabolic Sayings & begin Similitudes


3 types of Parables:

(1) Parabolic Sayings - these are the one-liners found in Luke 4-7

(2) Similitudes (The Parables of Matthew 13) - “The kingdom of heaven is like...” (These are all in Matt 13)

(3) Full Parables - a story told to make a point.

This week we finish the last 2 parables of (1) Parabolic Sayings. Then we will start on Similitudes and study the first 6.

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(Monday, 12/10/07) Parable 9 of the Parabolic Sayings- The Two Debtors

The Two Debtors

Luke 7:41

Hear It! Luke 7

The Setting
The acceptance of Jesus by the sinners and the rejection by the religious leaders. The anointing of Jesus by the sinful woman. The pharisaical self-righteousness of Simon.

The parable is followed by a record of women with questionable background who followed Jesus. (A woman who had been demon possessed. A woman who was the wife of Herod’s finance minister and a woman named Susanna. I don’t know who she was. We can just call her “O Suzanna.”) These women are contributing to Jesus’ ministry out of their own personal financial means.

Cultural setting: Jesus and Simon were eating in the center of the courtyard. There were benches around the outside of the courtyard where others could sit and watch and perhaps talk to those eating, but not participate in the meal. This allows for the woman to be a part of audience and come into the center of the courtyard. This was not done.

This woman of the street, is pouring strong smelling perfume on Jesus’ feet and making the place smell like her private chambers where illegitimate things go on. This woman lets her hair down in public. Women did not do that. She was touching a man in public. Women did not do that. She is crying in public. Women did not do that. They hired professional criers to cry for them in public. She is kissing his feet and wiping his feet with her hair.

The Problem
Simon is about to have a fit. He makes an assumption. The problem with the assumption is that the premise is wrong. He thinks that Jesus is either not a prophet or He is a bad prophet.

Why is Jesus risking ceremonial defilement in allowing the sinner woman to touch Him?

Jesus tells a parable to answer the unasked question:

In the parable one man owes the equivalent of $50,000 to a man who makes about $30,000 per year and the other owes $5,000. Both are unable to repay. Both are graciously forgiven. Which will love Him more? Simon judged correctly.

Simon did not provide for the customary foot washing that culture demanded. He didn’t do it. He didn’t have a servant do it. He didn’t even provide water for Jesus to do it. Simon didn’t greet Jesus with the customary cheek to cheek kiss. Simon did not put oil on Jesus’ head. (equivalent of taking someone to the guest bathroom to get cleaned up). The woman on the other hand did all this and more.

Verse 47 should be translated “Because she was forgiven, as a result, she loved much.” We know this because the next phrase says, “he who is forgiven little; loves little.”

Who is this that forgives sin? This goes unanswered, but it is obvious.

How do you get forgiveness? Verse 50 says “your faith has saved you.” Because she was forgiven, she could go in peace. She didn’t have the awful debt hanging over her head.

The Central Truth
Love is the evidence of forgiveness which can only be received by faith in Christ. Those who recognize that they have been forgiven much, respond with worship to God and love to others. Those who don’t recognize their need for forgiveness are self-righteous.

Simon had a faulty concept of who Jesus was and what he should do. This reveals the basic problem of the religious leaders.

Simon would have recognized that he was the one who owed 50 denarii. The woman would have recognized that she was the one who owed 500 denarii. Who would Jesus have said owed 500 denarii? He would have agreed with Simon. The woman was the bigger sinner. But Simon was a sinner too. He had a debt he could not repay. He showed no love which raised the question of whether or not there was forgiveness of even the smaller debt.

Our tendency is to jump to the question - “How much love should be shown?” But that is not a proper question to ask. If we ask this question, we have missed the point of the parable.

We must be careful not to reverse the process and say that our love results in forgiveness.

Illustration: Some of you were raised in a Christian home. You never got into any serious trouble, never got arrested, never did drugs, never got drunk. Some of you, on the other hand, might have been more rebellious and been in trouble with the law, done drugs.

Analogy: The worst thing some of you ever did might have been to shoot a BB gun and break a window. Others of you threw bricks through the window. The question is this? How much do the windows cost? They cost the same. They both needed to be replaced.

Simon’s problem was that he thought she was a worse sinner than he was and that his sin was not as serious.

But his sin was just as serious.

I talked with someone in our care group the other night who was raised in a mainstream denominational church. He was a youth leader and very active in the church. He said that he always assumed that he was right with God because he felt that he was better than those who didn’t go to church. He didn’t even know what it took to get right with God. He was just playing the comparison game. That is the same mentality that Simon had. Is that the same mentality that you have?

The more I understand how much I’ve been forgiven, the more I will appreciate my forgiveness and the more I will love God and others.

Jesus loves to take the rowdy and the religious to destroy two satanically designed thoughts. One is that there is a level of sinfulness that God cannot accept. It is the attitude that I’m too bad to be saved or loved by God. The other extreme is the idea that there is a level of merit in man for which there is no need for salvation. Or there is a way to merit God’s love.

If you have the idea that the flat tire you had was because you skipped your quiet time two days in a row, then you fall into this second category.

If you remember, Jesus healed the Centurion’s slave in 7:1-10 and raised the widow’s son in 7:11-17. Those were two people who recognized their need. Here we have a Pharisee who does not recognize his need and so Jesus can’t “heal” him.

(Tuesday, 12/11/07) Parable 10- Children in the Marketplace & the Conclusion of the Parabolic Sayings

Children in the Marketplace

Luke 7:31-32

Hear It! Luke 7

Also in Matt 11:16.

The Setting
The role of John the Baptist, the response of the outcasts and common people (vs. 29), and the rejection of John by the Pharisees (vs. 30).

The Problem
Why didn’t Israel respond to the ministry of John the Baptist and accept Jesus as Messiah?

The Central Truth
The Jews were unwilling to repent over John’s message or rejoice over Christ and accept Him as Messiah. They did not fear the judgment proclaimed by John, nor accept the gracious invitation of Jesus. John came playing the funeral dirge and Jesus came to throw a party. John was thumping his Bible and Jesus was saying “let’s go to lunch.” John preached judgment and Jesus proclaimed Joy. The religious leaders responded to neither. They said John was crazy and Jesus was a glutton and a drunkard. They rejected both of God’s approaches.

Conclusion: Parabolic Sayings

The Parables and their meanings:
1) Meaning of Physician Heal Thyself- They raise the issue of the identity of the Messiah. He is here!
2) Fasting and the Bridegroom & New Patch on Old Garment- They show the rejection of Judaism as a workable system. The Kingdom is here!
3) New Wine in Old Wineskin & Blind Leading the Blind- The problem was insufficient leadership
4) A Pupil is not above his Teacher- A Challenge to the new leadership
5) Good and Bad Fruit and Trees- The reality of righteousness will show up in the character or obedience of the person.
6) Wise and Foolish Builders, Children in the Marketplace & The Two Debtors- These contrast Pharisaical self-righteousness with genuine repentant faith.

- Recognize that Jesus is the Messiah
- Don’t be tied to the old legalistic system. We have a new way of life based on forgiveness and grace.
- Choose whom you will follow carefully by examining their fruit.
- Examine yourself more diligently and grow so you can lead others.
- Be a doer of the word (build your house on the rock) not just a hearer.
- Beware of self-righteousness and the attitude that “I’m not so bad.” Recognize your forgiveness.

(Wednesday, 12/12/07) Introduction to Similitudes & Parable 1 of the Similitudes - The Tares

Introduction to Similitudes (Parables of Matthew 13)

If you were a Jew in the OT, you would draw your time line with a present age and an age to come, separated by Messiah’s coming. Prophets did not see but one advent.

We now know that everything promised in OT was not fulfilled when Jesus came the first time and Jesus said that He would be back to do the rest. In the meantime there is something going on that no one in the OT knew about. We now know that there are two advents and we are in the “inter-advent age.”

What is going on in between becomes the question.

Remember the initials - EMK= Elijah/Messiah/Kingdom was the expectation. Malachi 4:5 said that Elijah would come, announce the arrival of the Messiah and the Kingdom would begin.

In Matt 11:14 Jesus said that John the Baptist was Elijah “if you care to accept it.” What does that mean? If they don’t accept it, he’s not? How can that be? What Jesus is saying is that for those who believed John the Baptist and repented, and in turn believed in Jesus as the Messiah, then John was Elijah for them and consequently they entered the kingdom.

We also know that the two witnesses in Revelation will have powers like Elijah and Moses (Rev 11:6) so another will come in the power and spirit of Elijah before the second advent. After the Second Advent, the millennial kingdom will be established.

The question becomes, “What kingdom do those who accept JB as Elijah enter?

Matt 13 is dealing with that.

Rev 10:7 talks about the mystery of God being finished. What mystery? Col 1:26 says the mystery is the church.

Matthew is presenting Jesus as the King and part of Jesus’ mission was to proclaim the arrival or imminence of the kingdom.

In Matt 12:24 the religious leaders accuse Jesus of casting out demons by the power of Satan. This is the climax of the rejection by the leadership. Jesus says this is unpardonable and in turn rejects Israel.

Matt 13 is hinge in the literary structure of the book. It is a turning point in ministry of Jesus. In Matt 13 Jesus begins talking about the mystery form of the kingdom by telling parables. We know that because in 13:10 the disciples asked Jesus why he was speaking in parables. He answers that he is revealing the mysteries of the kingdom.

1. The Tares (13:24-30)
2. The Sower and the Soils (13:1-9)
3. The Reason for Parables (13:10-17)
4. The Explanation of the Sower (13:18-23)
5. The Mustard Seed (13:31-32)
6. The Leaven (13:33)
7. The Hidden Treasure (13:44)
8. The Costly Pearl (13:45-46)
9. The Dragnet (13:47-50)
10. The Householder (13:52)

The Tares - Satan's counterfeit.

Matthew 13:24-30

You can’t tell the difference between tares and wheat until the very end when it is time to harvest the wheat. I think the significance of this is that we can’t tell who is and is not saved. Why? Because we do not know the heart. Only God knows the heart. And only He can separate the wheat from the tares - the saved from the unsaved.

We shouldn’t even try to determine who was and wasn’t saved among the soils. Only God knows.

If the parables are about the kingdom, then how does this one relate?

Jesus is teaching that the present form of the Kingdom will be one in which those of genuine faith and counterfeit faith will co-exist in the world until a future harvest (13:24-30).

When asked if he wanted his workers to gather up the tares, the farmer insisted on allowing them to grow together, for the sake of the wheat, until the final harvest when they will be separated unto different destinies (13:28-30).

What does that say to you and me? What about that never ending Lordship Salvation / Free Grace debate that has raged for centuries and been made more popular by John MacArthur?

(Thursday, 12/13/07) Parables 2, 3 & 4 of the Similitudes - The Sower and the Soils, The Reason for Parables & The Explanation of the Sower

The Sower and the Soils - The beginning of the Kingdom

Matthew 13:1-9

Jesus ends this parable with the statement, “He who has ears, let him hear.” What does He mean? What is necessary for hearing or better -- understanding the parables? An open and receptive heart. How do we know that? He will tell us in the next section

The Reason for Parables

Matthew 13:10-17

Chiastic Structure
--> 1. “Therefore I speak to them in parables; because while seeing they do not see, and while hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand.
----> 2. “And in their case the prophecy of Isaiah is being fulfilled, which says,
------> 3. ‘You will keep on hearing, but will not understand;
--------> 4. And you will keep on seeing, but will not perceive;
----------> 5. For the heart of this people has become dull,
------------> 6. And with their ears they scarcely hear,
--------------> 7. And they have closed their eyes
--------------> 7’ Lest they should see with their eyes,
------------> 6’ And hear with their ears,
----------> 5’ And understand with their heart and return, And I should them.
--------> 4’ “But blessed are your eyes, because they see;
------> 3’ and your ears, because they hear.
----> 2’ “For truly I say to you, that many prophets and righteous men
--> 1’ desired to see what you see, and did not see [it]; and to hear what you hear, and did not hear [it].

This whole section can be outlined as a chiasm. At the center of the chiasm is the most important part - the focus of the passage. Numbers 5,6 & 7 reveal the root problem and give us a progression. Because they had hard hearts, they could not hear Jesus’ words. Because they would not listen to His words, they could not see who He was. They could not see that He was the Messiah. Therefore they could not see the kingdom that had come upon them.

When you understand this, the miracles which involved restoring sight to the blind take on new significance. They become physical symbols of the spiritual blindness of Israel.

The reason Jesus told the parables was to hide the truth from those with hard hearts who did not want to hear the truth and did not want Jesus as their Messiah. They were looking for a different type of Messiah. They wanted one who would come in and defeat their earthly enemies right then.

But while He was hiding the truth from the hard hearted, he was also revealing truth to those who had open hearts and were willing to accept the truth, even if it was not what they expected.

What did the prophets and righteous men not see nor hear that the disciples were hearing about and soon to see? (Matt 13:17) The interadvent age. In OT Israel there was the present age and the age to come. The age to come was the kingdom where the Messiah would rule. What the prophets and righteous men did not see or hear about was the church age. They only saw one coming of the Messiah in the OT. They didn’t see him coming to die the first time, and returning later to judge. (Isa 61:1-2)

What Jesus is doing is revealing truth about the interadvent age - the church age - a mystery form of the kingdom. Matt 13:12 says, “what they have shall be taken away...” What is it that they don’t have? Spiritual insight. What will be taken away? Their responsibility. Because they rejected Jesus, their responsibility to reach the world - bless the world would be taken from them and given to others - the church.

The Explanation of the Sower

Matthew 13:18-23

This is one of the few parables that Jesus explains, and there is still much debate about its meaning. The question that I always hear debated is the state of the “soils.” Which soils represent saved or unsaved people? I don’t think we are to try to determine which ones are saved or not. The next parable will tell us why.

But what lessons can we learn from this parable?

- One lesson we can learn is that we need to sow the word. There will be results. Some will reject, some will accept and bear fruit. Our job is to spread the good news.
- Another lesson is that people need to have an open heart to receive the word. We cannot convince them intellectually of the Truth and their need for Jesus. Their hearts must be prepared and ready.
- We also need to have an open heart to hear the word. We need to let it speak to us. We do not want to be like the man in James that looks in the mirror and does not notice the things that need fixing.

(Friday, 12/14/07) Parables 5 & 6 of the Similitudes - The Mustard Seed & The Leaven

The Mustard Seed- The extent of the growth of the Kingdom

Matthew 13:31-32

We will treat this one with the next parable.

The Leaven- The secret of the growth of the Kingdom

Matthew 13:33

Some think that the growth of the mustard seed into a tree is deliberate overstatement by Jesus to alert his hearers to the fact that something is wrong. And they say that the birds nesting in the branches are Satan’s messengers. They also say that yeast is always bad in the Bible and that the yeast in this passage represents the pervasive nature of evil - i.e. the way it spreads.

I think that is an over reaction to the way the postmillennialists interpret this passage.

Just in case you are not familiar with Postmillennialism - “it is the conservative counterpart to the optimistic, liberal, evolutionary view which expects the world to get better through Christianization. A transformed world will precede the coming of Christ to the earth. Though this view nearly died with the transpiration of two world wars and subsequent events, there seems to be a contemporary resurgence of it in some Christian circles.” (Ramesh Richards, Elements of a Biblical Philosophy of History, BibSac, Apr-Jun 1981, p. 116) Postmillennialists typically deny the future millennial kingdom and think that the church is in it.

Therefore, postmillennialists see the rapid growth of the mustard plant and the dominance of the leaven as indicating the millennial kingdom will be brought about by the church dominating society and bringing about world peace so that Jesus can return.

I think Boice’s view is an over reaction to the typical postmillennial interpretation. We don’t need to over react to the postmillennialists. All we need to do is look at the society around us to see that things are getting worse and not better.

The mustard seed growing into a tree is not overstatement by Jesus. In Palestine, the mustard seed (the smallest seed in that culture) did in fact grow to be ten or twelve feet tall. And birds could and did build nests in mustard tree branches. Jesus’ hearers would not have been “alerted” that something was wrong because nothing was wrong with what he was saying. It was true. Jesus is simply saying that what starts out small (with just Him and a few disciples) would grow to great proportions in a very short time. And in fact it did. So, that is the significance of the mustard seed illustration - rapid growth.

The illustration with the leaven may be teaching one of two things:
-First - it may mean that the kingdom is hidden -- like the leaven is invisible in the lump of dough. That would refer to the spiritual aspect of the kingdom that was begun with the arrival of Jesus.
-Second - it may mean that the source of growth would be secret - an internal dynamic -- i.e. the Holy Spirit, and that it would spread to the whole world (like it spread throughout the dough. That in fact did happen. By the end of Paul’s life, only 40 years after Christ spoke these words, the gospel had been taken to the end of the known world. I don’t think it has to mean that the whole world would be converted and the millenium brought in by the church.

The birds nesting in the branches are not Satan’s messengers. They are Gentiles participating in the Kingdom of God. It is the fulfillment of the promise to Abraham that through his seed all the nations would be blessed. Hosea 14:7 talks about Israel as a tree with others being blessed by living in its shadows. Also compare Dan 4:12 for the birds benefiting from the tree.