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

Welcome to Week 7 of The Parables by Hamptom Keathley IV Th.M. - Full Parables


3 types of Parables:

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

(2) Similitudes - “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 continue with (3) Full Parables.

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(Monday 01/28/08) Full Parable 16 - The Unjust Judge and the Persistent Widow

The Passage: Luke 18:1-8

The Parameters
Instructions on the coming of the Son of Man (17:22-37)

The following parable on prayer (18:9-14)

In that day judges traveled around and held court in tents. They set their own agendas and about the only way to have your court case heard was to bribe one of the attendants to bring your case to the attention of the judge. This widow had a couple things working against her. She was a woman, and women were low on the social ladder. She also had no money to bribe the attendants, so her case was not heard.

The Problem
What is the relationship between praying and losing heart? I think this teaches that if we do not pray we will give up.

Therefore the problem is: How can we keep praying and not lose heart?

The Progression
Logical: What is the cause of answered prayer? What are two reasons why people give up too soon?

The Unjust Judge (the reason requests are not answered)

He did not fear God

He did not respect men

This man is the exact opposite of what we know to be the two greatest commandments - loving God and loving your neighbor.

The Persistent Widow (the way requests are made)

Her coming
She is persistent. Imperfect tense in Greek. She keeps on coming.

Her case -
She just wants justice. She is not asking for the advantage. She is just asking for justice. We all want justice. We all want life to be fair. I can’t count the number of times my daughter says that something is not fair when she sees her brother get a bigger pile of potato chips, a bigger piece of cake, one more of whatever.... It is an inborn desire for things to be fair.

The Unjust Judge (the reason requests are answered)
The judge answers not because he cares about God, justice or the woman. Jesus is using boxing imagery here for wearing a person down by hitting him under the eye. The judge is not concerned with a knockout, but she is wearing him down. He answers because she is annoying him.

The Just Judge (The reason why requests are answered)
-“Now shall not God bring about justice” (vs. 7) -- The first reason is because of the character of God. He is just. Jesus used an example of an unjust judge as a contrast with God who is just. God can be trusted to be a just God--to make right decisions. Psa 145:7-8 God covers his acts with hesed (loyal-love).
-“for his elect who cry to Him day and night.” (vs. 7) -- Jesus used a widow as an example again to set up a contrast with us. He argues from the lesser to the greater. If an unjust judge (who is not like God) will hear the case of a widow and stranger (which we are not) then surely God will hear our prayers. God has graciously initiated a relationship with his children. He chooses who he wants in His family, and He will listen to His children.
-“and will He delay long over them?” (vs. 7) -- While He may delay, His answer comes speedily. This does not mean they will be answered immediately. It means that when it happens it will happen quickly. Like the coming of the Lord will happen suddenly. Remember that the context is the coming of the Lord in Luke 17:22-37.
-The justice that is going to come speedily is possibly the tribulation.

What is the point of the question at the end of verse 8? “... when the Son of Man comes, will He find faith on the earth?

The Point
Persistent prayer is the demonstration of faith in God who, while at times may delay His answers, will always act decisively and justly with respect to His people.

The Relation of the Parable to the Kingdom Program of God
God is just. The second advent will bring justice. Our part is to wait in faith for Him to deal with the world in justice.

The Principles
It is important to understand that this parable is one of contrasts. If you don’t you will think God must be pestered, argued with and bribed in order to get your prayers answered. The parable is not teaching that. God wants to answer the prayers of his children.

We lose heart because we don’t understand God’s timing or purpose. We ask questions like, “When... or Why now.... or How could you....? We challenge the justice and goodness of God.

This parable deals with two issues: God’s character and God’s chronology.

Persistent prayer is the demonstration of faith in the character of God’s attributes and the chronology of his actions.

This parable teaches that the only legitimate reason to stop praying for something is the return of Christ. (vs. 8) It says, “When the Son of Man comes, will He find faith on the earth?” The demonstration of that faith is persistent prayer. When you stop believing a prayer will be answered, you stop praying. You have given up hope.

What items have dropped off your prayer list that you need to put back on?

God is a loving father who wants His children to keep coming to Him. If you are a parent, you should be able to identify with that.

A Comparison of events in Matthew and Luke show much similarity in sequence and give a probable time when the parable was taught.

(Tuesday 01/29/08) - Full Parable 17 - The Pharisee and the Publican

The Passage Luke 18:9-14

The Parameters
Jesus had just told a parable about prayer.

The Pharisees were self-righteous and viewed others with contempt.

The teaching concerning receiving the kingdom as a child (18:15-17).

The Problem
The attitude: self-righteousness

The question: How do we approach God in prayer?

The Progression: Biographical

The Pharisee

His Status
You must understand the culture. The Pharisee was one of the most respected people in that society. Everyone thought the Pharisees were very righteous. We forget that because all we hear about the Pharisees is what the NT says and it’s not very kind to them.

His Stance
He approached God with familiarity (he was standing when it would seem more appropriate to kneel or something).

His Soliloquy
He prayed “to himself.” NIV says “about himself” but “to himself” is better. It is a better translation of the Greek and it better represents what is going on because God certainly was not listening.

His Self-importance
He compared himself to others and was very condemning of others. The Pharisee made the wrong conclusion in his comparison between himself and the tax gatherer The Pharisee was unaware of his own sins, but very aware of other peoples’ sins. This is very characteristic of a self-righteous person. We saw it in the parable of the lost sons. The older brother thought he was blameless and pointed to his brother’s sins.

The Pharisee in our passage was depending on his works feeling that they gained him favor with God.

What he did not do
He was not a swindler, unjust, an adulterer and he did not commit treason like the tax-gatherer

What he did do
He fasted twice a week. How many fasts were dictated by the law? Only one per year - on the day of Atonement. And that is the day this man will miss.

He paid tithes on his gifts. He is double tithing. If it is a gift, someone else has already paid a tithe for it. If he gives another tithe, he is basically saying that your tithe was not good enough and I don’t trust you. He covered all his bases.

PRINCIPLE: Righteousness is not the result of self-righteous activities one might perform.

Corollary: Righteousness is not the result of the things you don’t do. If you have that attitude it is legalism.

Righteousness is not the result of what you do or do not do.

If it is not what I don’t do and it is not what I do, then “what is it?” becomes the question.

The publican gives us the answer.

The Publican

The Publican was probably the least respected member of society. He was a Jew who went to work for Rome collecting taxes. He was viewed as a traitor.

His position
He stood at a distance. He was afraid to approach God, knowing that he was unworthy.

His posture
He was unwilling to lift his eyes. This showed his humility.

His passion
He was beating his breast - which in that culture was the outward sign of an inward pain in one’s soul. The day of Atonement was the day when you did this. You fasted and went around beating your breast because of the pain in your soul.

His plea
He asks for mercy from God. He says, “Be merciful to me, the sinner.” He does not say “a” sinner because he does not compare himself to others. As far as he is concerned he’s the only sinner before God. That is genuine humility. He literally says, “Be propitiated towards me.” Propitiated means be satisfied. He knew that only God could help him be righteous. (Rom 3:23-25) Jesus Christ was the answer to this man’s prayer.

This word for propitiation is the word used to describe the mercy seat - the lid on the ark of the covenant. The ark contained the ten commandments. All year long the people broke the law, and then on the day of atonement, blood was spread on the mercy seat to cover the sins of the people. It is Christ’s blood that covers our sins. Jesus Christ is the propitiation for the world 1Jn 2:2.

Principle: Justification is that gracious work of God whereby He extends mercy to the repentant sinner who comes to Him in faith.

The Pharisee did not understand that only God could help him be righteous.

The Pronouncement
Jesus stated that the one who exalts himself will be humbled and vice versa. The Pharisee, who was socially acceptable, was not acceptable to God. The publican (who was a social outcast) was acceptable because of his humility.

Principle: Exaltation is the future promise of present humility.

The Point
Entrance into the kingdom of God is granted only to those who humbly accept the gracious satisfaction of God which HE has made for sin.

The one who exalts himself will be humbled and the one who humbles himself will be exalted.

The Program Of God
Entrance into the kingdom of God is dependent on recognition of sin and dependence on the mercy of God, not dependence on one’s own merit.

The Principles
-Jesus told a parable in which the most respected member of society went away unjustified while the most despised member of society was justified before God. Why? In the parables Jesus deals with two groups of people - the religious and the rowdy. There is no sin too great that God can’t forgive and there is no religiosity good enough to merit God’s favor. Jesus deals with the issues of legalism and grace throughout the parables.
-Religious activity is not a sign of spirituality. Just because people pray does not mean they make contact with God. External rituals, giving, etc. do not earn merit with God.
-We need to guard against a self-righteous attitude.
-When we compare ourselves with others, we usually draw wrong conclusions.
-We need to humble ourselves now, or God will do it later.

Right after Jesus tells this parable, Luke relates how people were bringing their children to Jesus. And Jesus says, “Truly I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it at all.” You enter the kingdom with humility and trust. Humility comes from recognition of unimportance and in that society children were insignificant. And children are typically very trusting. So Jesus is saying one needs to come to God with humility and trust.

Notice the disciples are telling people to get their children out of there. They had the same attitudes as everyone else.

Then Jesus meets the Rich Young Ruler who says, “Good teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” What did we just learn in the parable? It is not what you do or do not do. The young ruler thought he had kept the law all his life. He thought he could get to heaven by his works, so Jesus points him to his sin.

When the man leaves, Jesus says, “It is easier for a camel to get through the eye of a sewing needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom.”

The disciples ask “then who can be saved?” because they are still flirting with the theology of their day which says rich guys are rich because they are righteous and so the rich have an advantage.

“With man it is impossible, but with God it is possible.” This is first said by God concerning Sarah and the miraculous birth of Isaac. The next time it is mentioned is with Mary and the miraculous birth of Jesus. Now we have the same phrase. Why? are the birth of Isaac, Jesus and being born again all linked? Because they are all the miraculous work of God. Man can not do it.

There are two attitudes that keep people from coming to Christ. “I don’t need it because of what I’ve done.” or “I can’t get it because of how bad I’ve been.” Jesus goes after these two attitudes all through the gospels.

The parable of the Unjust Judge and the persistent widow teaches that we should keep going to God in prayer, trusting in His justice, love and timing. He will answer in the best way for us and in the best time.

This parable deals with our attitude in prayer. We are not to come to God proud, expecting God to answer quickly and when He doesn’t we will become angry...

Instead we should go to God in humility - grateful for his mercy, expecting Him to answer but waiting on his timing - knowing that he knows best.

(Wednesday 01/30/08) - Full Parable 18 - The Laborers in the Vineyard

The Passage Matt 20:1-16

The Parameters
Jesus meets the Rich Young Ruler who says, “Good teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” What did we just learn in the last parable? (Pharisee and Publican) It is not what you do or do not do that justifies you in Gods eyes. The young ruler thought he had kept the law all his life. He thought he could get to heaven by his own works. Jesus ignores that question because the man cant get saved until he knows he is lost. So Jesus tells him that he must sell everything he has. The purpose of the demand was to point the man to his sinfulness and inability to earn eternal life so that he could then receive the free gift of eternal life from Jesus. The man cant bring himself to do that and leaves.

When the man leaves, Jesus says, “It is easier for a camel to get through the eye of a sewing needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom.” The disciples ask “then who can be saved?” because they are still flirting with the theology of their day which says rich guys are rich because they are righteous and so the rich have an advantage.

So, after hearing Jesus’ discussion with the rich man about giving away all his property, Peter says, “Behold, we have left everything and followed You; what then will there be for us?” The disciples have a mercenary ministry. They want to know what their reward will be. After all, Jesus had said there would be treasure in heaven (Mat 19:21). What does Jesus say? “Peter, shhhh, don’t ask that question.” No, Jesus tells them that they would be rewarded. They would sit on thrones judging the 12 tribes of Israel.

But Jesus also warns them that the first would be last and the last would be first and begins the parable. And the phrase, The last shall be first and the first, last. concludes the parable.

The Problem
What does it mean that the last will be first and vice versa? What will be the reward for those who give up everything and follow Jesus? Can I trust God to be fair in the distribution of rewards? If you are asking the question, then you really don’t trust your employer.

The Progression
Chronological - The parable emphasizes the times that the laborers were hired. Mark Bailey calls this parable, “A day on the job in the kingdom of God.” (because the work takes place throughout the day and the payroll is at the end of the day.)
The Landowner hired laborers early in the morning (6:00) and made an agreement with them to pay them a denarius for the day’s work. It says the owner agreed which makes me think the workers asked for the denarius and he agreed to it.

The Landowner went out again at 9:00, 12:00, 3:00 and 5:00 and asked others if they would like to come to work without indicating what they would earn, only that he would be fair (vs. 4). If the first guy is going to get 1 denarius for 12 hours work, what do you expect the 2nd group to get? 3/4, then 1/2 then 1/4 and then 1/12th respectively.

At the end of the day, the Landowner went to pay them and started with the last group. He gave them each 1 denarius. What do you expect the next group to get? Three denarii. The next group six, and the next nine and the first group that was hired expects to get 12 denarii. But he gave everyone the same amount - one denarius - regardless of whether they had worked one hour or twelve hours.

Those hired first complained and accused the owner of being unfair.

But the owner justifies his actions:
-on the basis of agreement - they agreed to work for a denarius. The owner calls him “friend” which in Matt is not a term of endearment.
-on the basis of ownership - can I do what I want with what is mine?
-on the basis of generosity - can I be gracious to whom I want to be gracious?

How much did those hired in the middle of the day or at the end of the day agree to work for?

None of those hired late made a deal concerning how much they would be paid. And all of them got more than they expected or deserved. But the ones who contracted for a denarius got exactly what they bargained for.

What should we conclude? If you want more than you contracted for, don’t contract. It is the same old issue of legalism versus grace. We think we want legalism or justice, but grace is so much better.

Jesus ends with the proverb - “the last shall be first and the first last.” Which means, if you are striving to be first, you won’t make it.

Perhaps the parable in Luke 17:7 is applicable here too. In that parable, the slave was expected to work and not worry about thanks or payment. Here too, the lesson seems to be to just work and not worry about rewards or payment.

The Point
We are to serve God faithfully and let him worry about the reward.

The Program Of God
Whether you come in early or late, you can still enter and enjoy the benefits of the kingdom of God. One’s faithfulness will determine one’s function in the future.

I think this parable also relates to the issue of Jews and Gentiles in the kingdom. The Jews had been working for God for over 2000 years already and it did not seem right that God would let these Gentiles in at such a late hour and give them all the blessings of the kingdom. The attitude of the Jews, was that they had earned all the blessings of the kingdom by keeping the law all those years.

The Principles
The landowner represents God and thus we learn about God’s character.

Three characteristics of the consummate CEO:
-We see that God is just - He treats everyone fairly. We can trust God to be fair. But God is more than just.
-God is sovereign - He can do what He wants. He didn’t need to go to that intersection to get those workers. He could have gone elsewhere. God chose Jacob over Esau while still in the womb. If we understand who owns everything and that he could have chosen others, that should bring appreciation for the opportunity to serve. It should also eliminate comparison and pride - it was grace that I was chosen.
-God is generous. That should eliminate pride. If one person has more than another, that doesn’t necessarily mean that they deserve it.

How would you like to work for someone who was always fair, always in control and generous to boot? Guess what - We do!

Principles for the Payroll
-We need to be faithful since merit is taken into account at the judgment. 1Co 3:8 says there will be rewards. We can’t throw out rewards just because we have one parable in which all received equal amounts. This doesn’t teach that there are no rewards, it teaches the grace and generosity of God. I’ve been a Christian about 30 years and have gone to seminary, taught Sunday school, and seminary classes, preached, been and elder, etc. But if someone comes to Christ today and one week from now, Jesus returns, and that person was faithful 100% of the time, he could receive more rewards than me. God will treat me fairly and I won’t be able to say, “You didn’t give me enough.” He can be gracious to a latecomer, give them an hour of opportunity and reward them for 100% faithfulness and that is fair. Why would I want that to be true even when I’m 33 years old and have been a Christian for 30 years? If I die tomorrow, am I at a disadvantage to those that lived to be 100 and were Christians 95 years? No. It is not length of service that is important. It is one’s attitude and motivation. 1Cor 4:5
-This doesn’t just apply to time, it can also apply to ability. Jesus said some will produce 30,60 and 100 fold in Matt 13. If I don’t have the brains nor skill of someone like Chuck Swindoll, but I’m faithful, I could receive as many or more rewards.
-There will be grace and I need to be thankful. We should serve and let God worry about the rewards.
-We should not despise those who are saved at the end because they are valuable too.
-I think too often we have the attitude that we obligate God by our actions - by our obedience - by our service, but we don’t, and I think God’s distribution of rewards will undoubtedly reverse many expectations.

At the beginning of the parable, Peter wanted to strike a bargain with Christ to find out what he would get. He wanted to know up front. “What’s in it for us?” Jesus is telling him “You don’t want to know” because if Peter had made a deal with Jesus, it wouldn’t have been as much as if he had just served faithfully.

Do you think that the disciples understood what Jesus was teaching with this parable? Did they learn their lesson? Not at all. In the very next scene in Matt 20:20-28, The sons of Zebedee (James and John) came to Jesus with their mother to ask if they could sit at Jesus’ left and right hand in the kingdom. What are they asking? If they can be first in the kingdom.

I think we can apply the principles from this parable to more than just length of service. It also applies to types of service - our spiritual gifts. 15 minutes in the nursery from 12:00 to 12:15 may earn more rewards than preaching for 50 minutes. Endurance earns more than eloquence.

(Thursday 01/31/08) - Full Parable 19 - The Ten Pounds

The Passage: Luke 19:11-27

The Parameters
The triumphal entry into Jerusalem is about to happen. He is on the road to Jerusalem and is approaching the city.

When Herod the Great died, he left his reign in the hands of three people: Philip, Herod and Archelaus. Archelaus was to rule over Judea. There were a group of Jews that did not want Archelaus to rule because of his wickedness, ego, etc. Before Archelaus could take the throne, he had to be confirmed in Rome by Caesar that it was his right to rule in Judah, so he had to make a trip to Rome. There was a group of Jews that went to Rome to see Caesar to complain about Archelaus. Caesar let Archelaus go ahead and take his throne and when Archelaus went back to Judah, he killed all those who had complained. That is the historical background of this story.

The Problem
The disciples were under the impression that the kingdom of God was shortly to appear and Jesus was going to establish the kingdom on earth during his life. Jesus told this parable to correct their mistaken notion. (c.f. 19:11)

The Progression
The nobleman goes away to receive a kingdom. The NIV has translated this wrong. He is not “appointed” king. He already is king. He was born king. It is like the Archelaus story. Archelaus was already born king. He needed to be confirmed or approved by Caesar.

The nobleman gave each slave three months wages. Notice each one is given an equal amount. What they are told to do is “put it to work” until he returned. They will be held accountable when he came back.

In vs. 14 the citizens complained. Certainly the hearers of this parable would be able to identify with the Archelaus parallel.

vs. 15 The nobleman came back and wanted to see what his slaves had done.

The first slave
1000% return on his money. He receives a commendation and gets 10 cities to rule over.

The second slave
500% return. No commendation. He gets 5 cities. His reward is fair. Reward according to merit.

Third slave
Another slave (another of a different kind) kept the pound hidden. He did not use it or invest it. He charged his master with greed and getting profit for what he didn’t earn. The master judged the slave for not acting on his own conclusions. He tells the slave that he should have put it in the bank and then he would have drawn interest - which is what? ... earning profit without working... The slave is called worthless and his money is taken away from him and given to the one who earned ten pounds.

Mat 13:12; 25:29; Mar 4:25 and Luk 8:18 all say that to whomever has, will more be given and whoever does not have, what they have will be taken away. This parable helps explain those passages.

The third slave lacked understanding / faith - he did not act on what he knew. What you don’t use, you lose. He lost the opportunity to do any more.

Those enemies of mine are the ones who outright rejected the king. They are judged more severely than the wicked slave.

I think the third slave represents Israel who thought that God was a hard master. They had this complicated legal system which was a burden to live under

The Point
The Messianic Kingdom has been postponed, but the responsibilities of the subjects has not.

The Relation of the Parable to the Kingdom Program of God
In light of the postponement of the Messianic Kingdom, each disciple has been given an equal entrustment to be invested in the Kingdom, knowing that the King will return to reward faithfulness and to remove the enemies of the kingdom. Those found to be faithful to their responsibilities are given more responsibilities in the kingdom.

The Particulars
Bema seat - strictly for rewards. At the Olympics, those that win get gold, silver and bronze medals. Those that don’t win, don’t get punished, they just don’t get medals. What are we going to do with the rewards in heaven? Pentecost says we will cast them at the feet of Jesus. The more rewards we get, the better we will be able to worship.

The Principles
-How are we equal? All of us have one life and the gospel message that we need to share. All of us have spiritual gifts to use.
-Though the kingdom is delayed, its future is certain. So, don’t blow off the kingdom - seek first the kingdom.
-Christ has delegated responsibilities for the present and we will be evaluated at his return.
-Faithfulness now, brings proportionate rewards later.
-Unfaithfulness will result in loss of rewards
-Open rejection merits severity of punishment. Somehow, there will be hotter places in hell.

(Friday 02/01/08) Full Parable 20 - The Two Sons

The Passage: Matt 21:28-32

The Parameters
The Pharisees had just challenged Jesus’ authority and He responded by asking them to identify John the Baptist’s authority. They refused to say that JB’s authority was from heaven because they didn’t like JB nor what he preached. But verse 25 shows that they knew what John was proclaiming - that Jesus was the Messiah. They refused to say that John’s authority was from Satan because they feared the crowds. So Jesus refused to answer them. But he tells a parable.

The Problem
What is the reason for the lack of response to JB in Israel?

How does one demonstrate that he is a son of the kingdom?

The Progression
Biographical -it’s about two sons

What does it mean to be a son in this parable? Does being a son = being saved? No. Many think when the read a parable and see that someone is a son or a servant that that means he is a Christian. But in this one and the prodigal son, being a son does not equal salvation.

First Son
-Verbal commitment
-Actual disobedience

Who does the first son represent?

The first son represents the religious leaders who said “I will obey the law” but didn’t. In fact, their claim was not that they will obey, but that they “did” obey it - all the time. That was the claim of the Pharisee in parable about the Pharisee and the publican praying.

But Jesus taught otherwise. The whole sermon on the mount and many of the controversies with Jesus showed that they were not obeying the law. The verbal commitment of the first son is not a statement of faith. It is representative of the Pharisees who by their actions were saying I don’t need to do any more than I’m already doing. But what they were doing was following ritual. They had substituted ritual for righteousness. This is the message of the prophets (Micah 6:8). By the time of Jesus the religious leaders thought that eternal life came from studying the torah.

Second Son
-Verbal rejection
-Later repentance

Who does the second son represent?

He represents the sinners, harlots, tax gatherers, and all the outcasts. The outcasts initially were saying by their life style that they didn’t want to follow God. But when confronted by their sin, they changed their mind (repented) and believed.

Jesus' Question
What is Jesus trying to do with his question?

When He says that tax collectors and harlots are going to get into the kingdom before the religious leaders, how should the religious leaders feel?

Jesus is trying to make the religious leaders jealous. (Rom 11:11) When the leaders saw these kinds of people repenting, changing their lifestyles, etc., it should have made them wake up. But they weren’t convicted, they felt threatened. They didn’t want the kind of kingdom Jesus was offering. The next parable will tell us what their motivation was.

The Point
Regardless of one’s background, repentance and faith are what qualifies one to enter the kingdom of God.

The Relation of the Parable to the Kingdom Program of God

Same as above

The Particulars
It was God’s purpose for the people to respond to JB but they rejected it. (Luke 7:30) There was a legitimate offer of the kingdom. They didn’t accept, so God replaced them with the Gentiles (temporarily).

Is this parable teaching works salvation? If not, how do you explain that it does not? After all it was the son who went to work that got in. How do you get in? The parable is not teaching works salvation, vs. 32 says to believe. That is the “work” in this parable. The leaders would not believe the message.

“A son does not a believer make” in this parable. The scribes and Pharisees are one son and the other son is the harlots and tax gatherers. Both were sons. One entered the kingdom and the other didn’t. Don’t assume because the word servant or son is used in a parable that it is equal to believer.

The Principles
-Repentance, faith and obedience are more pleasing to God than self-righteous ritualism.
-Repentance and faith are demonstrated by obedience. John 15:14
-Past lifestyles of the repentant are no disqualification from the kingdom.
-God extends grace to down-and-outers to incite jealousy and faith.
-God honors faith rather than false profession. That is a controversial statement these days with the Lordship Salvation debate going on, but I think the false profession here is that the religious leaders said they followed God, but they wouldn’t follow His Son. This will be elaborated on in the next parable.

Welcome to Week 6 of The Parables by Hamptom Keathley IV Th.M. - Full Parables

Review:3 types of Parables:
(1) Parabolic Sayings - these are the one-liners found in Luke 4-7
(2) Similitudes - “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 continue with (3) Full Parables.

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(Monday 01/21/08) Full Parable 9 - Counting the Cost

The Passage: Luke 14:25-33

The Parameters

The lame excuses of Israel’s rejection in the parable of the Great Supper.
The acceptance of the invitation by the outcasts.

Those who want to accept the gracious invitation need to know that there will be a cost in following God/Jesus.

The context of discipleship.

Luke 14:33 says, “So, therefore, no one of you can be My disciple who does not give up all his own possessions.” This shows the point of the previous verses. Verse 31 begins with “or” which takes me back to vs. 29 which begins with “otherwise” and takes me back to vs. 28.

The Problem

What kind of dedication is required to be a committed disciple of Jesus Christ.

The Progression

Ideological: The need to count the cost

The Commitment (25-27)

Love Christ

Love Hate concept - cf. Gen 29:31, Deut 21:15-17, Judges 14:16, Eccl 3:8, Mal 1:2-3, Rom 9:13, Luke 16:13. All these passages show a priority choice. It is the greatness of the love that makes everything else seem like hate. You forsake all others when you marry your wife.

Carry the Cross

What does carrying a cross mean to this audience before Christ was crucified? It means being willing to be despised and even killed. Carrying the cross was an act of submitting to the state.

The Construction (28-30)

What kind of tower? A watch tower. What would your neighbor’s think if you began to build a watchtower and only laid the stones in a circle and quit. You wouldn’t have much of a tower and everyone would laugh at you. Underestimation of the cost could result in embarrassment.

The Conflict (31-32)

Underestimation of the cost or the power of the enemy could result in death.

The Cost (33)

What is the cost? Everything I have. It is the recognition of the true ownership of one’s possessions.

In Acts 2 and 4 it says no one claimed that what he owned was his own. They didn’t put all their stuff in a big pile, they just recognized that they were stewards, not owners. Same message as the parable of the rich fool. This was not communism. Communism is Satan’s substitute for this.

The Conclusion (34-35)

How do you lose the saltiness in salt? Only by diluting it in lots of water. Only by compromise. When I fail to give up my possessions, I compromise my self and lose my witness.

The Point

The true disciple of Jesus Christ is one who has counted the cost of commitment and recognizes that all that he is and has is a stewardship from God which is to be used as a means of outreach in this world.

The Relation of the Parable to the Kingdom Program of God

A disciple of the kingdom is one who lets nothing stand in the way of his dedication to Christ.

The Particulars

Love/Hate relationship

Watchtower imagery

The Principles

  • Loving Christ above all other relationships is the priority of discipleship.
  • The cross becomes the focal point of identification with Christ. His death is key. Gal 6:14
  • Discipleship is not a free expedition.
  • I need to recognize the true owner of all my possessions.
  • The failure in my stewardship from God will cost me my effectiveness for God.

(Tuesday 01/22/08) - Full Parable 10, 11 & 12 - The Lost Sheep, Coins and Sons


Life is full of surprises. There are the fun surprises like birthday parties and Christmas gifts. And then there are the surprises that you experience that reveal something about who you are and who your God is. Those are the kinds of surprises that Jesus gave to people in His parables. When he told a parable, it was to answer a question or to deal with an attitude, and most of the parables had surprise endings that drove right to the heart of the issue and to the heart of the individuals listening.

Jesus is dealing with a question and an attitude in the three parables we are going to study today. So turn in your Bibles to Luke 15.

The Talmud said, “All the prophets prophesied only for repentant sinners, but as for the perfectly righteous, who had never sinned at all, the eye has not seen, what God has prepared for him.”

The Talmud taught that a person could live a sinless life. The Pharisees believed that they were perfectly righteous, that they had not sinned. Therefore, they really despised the sinners and the tax-gatherers. What was wrong with being a tax-gatherer? A tax-gatherer was a Jew working for Gentiles and that was bad. In that culture, the word tax-gatherer was synonymous with sinner because tax-gatherers were Jews who had sold out to the Romans and collected taxes for them. In the eyes of the community, a tax-gatherer was a thief.

Jesus habitually ministered to the sinners, and it bothered the Pharisees. They concluded that Jesus could not be from God because God did not like sinners. The unspoken question is this: “What is God’s attitude towards sinners?”

So Jesus tells three parables to show why He eats with outcasts. In them He will answer the question about God’s attitude towards sinners. And he will deal with the Pharisees self-righteous attitude and their condemnation of others.

The Lost Sheep

*He is saying this tongue in cheek.
*He is assuming it is true for the sake of the illustration or argument.
*When He says righteous, He really means self-righteous.
*And He is setting them up for later.

The Lost Coin

These two parables deal with the question of God’s attitude towards sinners. God’s attitude towards the sinners and tax gatherers is that they are very valuable to Him and He is searching diligently to find those who are lost.

Now Jesus tells another parable that is directed right at the Pharisees self-righteous attitude. Let me read this parable from a different translation:

The Rebellious Son In The Key Of F

Feeling footloose and frisky, a foolish fellow forced his father to fork over his fourth of the family farthings and flew far to a foreign field where he fast frittered his fathers fortune feasting foolishly with faithless friends. Fleeced by his fellows and folly, and facing famine he found himself a feed flinger in a filthy farm. Flushed and fairly famished he fain would have filled his frame with foraged food from farm fodder.

“My father’s flunkies fair far finer.” The frazzled fugitive forlornly fumbled. Frustrated and filled with forboding, he fled forthwith to his father. Falling to his father’s feet he forlornly fumbled, “Father, I have flunked and frugalessly forfeited family favor.” The fugitive’s, faultfinding brother frowned on fickle forgiveness, but the faithful father figure filled with fidelity, cried, “The fugitive is found. What forbids further festivities. Let the flags unfurl and the fanfares flare.” Father flagged a flunky who fetched a fatling from the flock and fixed a feast.

The moral of the story is: The father’s forgiveness formed a foundation for the fugitive’s future fortitude.

The Lost Son

Vs 12 - We probably don’t appreciate the gravity of the request that this son makes when he asks his father to divide the inheritance. He as much as tells his father that he wishes he were dead. What does the father do? He divides his possessions between his two sons giving 1/3 to the younger and 2/3 to the older son. The younger son leaves.

Why does the son do this? Because he doubts the capability and goodness of his father. He thinks he can do a better job of managing his own life than the father can. This is a perfect picture of our natural heart which resists the rule of God in our life. We want to be independent. The questions we need to ask ourselves are:

1. How am I being independent? Is it with my finances? A sinful habit? Looking for happiness in other things, etc. We cling to things that we do well or things that we think are meeting our needs or make life work and refuse to depend on God and let Him meet our needs.
2. Why am I being independent? I think it is because we doubt the goodness of God. I think that is the reason the son left. He doubted the goodness of his father, and he thought he could handle life better on his own.

Vs 13 - The son squandered his father’s possessions. He couldn’t manage his life better than his father. This is a good picture of the fact that life lived outside of God’s will is a wasted life.

Vs 15 - The son ended up working for a Gentile and feeding some pigs. Remember that this parable is dealing with the Pharisees attitude about tax-gatherers (Jews working for Gentiles). So Jesus brings details into the story which show us that he is still dealing with the issue in 15:1-2. This is also a good picture of how we end up serving other things when we refuse to serve God. We can never be independent. We will always serve something - either God or money (Jesus says in the Sermon on the mount).

Vs 17 - The son comes to his senses and realizes that he was wrong. He will go back home and see if his father will at least let him work as a servant.

The Father

Vs 12 - The father let him go - knowing he would fail and hoping that he would come back. This shows the graciousness and patience of the father.

I’ve heard that if he did come back, in that culture the father would have been expected to do one of three things: (1) stone the son, (2) turn him away or (3) make him a slave. This was a bad Jewish boy and he needed to be made an example of. If this is true, then the son is hoping for the last option - make him a slave.

Vs 20 - Instead, this father diligently watches for and anticipates the return of his lost son. When he sees his son coming, he runs to meet him. In this culture it was undignified for a man to run. But this father was not concerned with losing face.

Jesus came to earth to find us and was willing to lose face. He suffered the most humiliating death known to man.

When the son is found, he rejoices. Notice there is no comparison with heaven because this is the Father that he is talking about.

Notice in verse 22 that the father interrupts the son before the son can pledge his service. All that is required is repentance and return, not works. Lordship Salvation focuses on verse 19.

The younger son may not have had full repentance when he was in the pig farm. He wanted to come back and work for his father - maybe with the hopes that he might be able to earn enough money to buy back his part of the land. But when

-he sees his father’s humiliating sprint down the road towards him,
-sees what he has done to his father,
-sees his father’s unconditional acceptance,
-sees the lavish gifts his father bestows on him,

Then he recognizes his father’s goodness and realizes that he could never “earn” his father’s favor or inheritance. It was already his. He just needed to accept it.

Let me read a Song by Michael Kelly Blanchard. It is a good, modern day picture of a prodigal daughter

By Michael Kelly Blanchard (The Maze)
Now I’ve been a problem since Momma died, angry and restless and sad.
She was instantly killed on the passenger’s side, with barely a scratch for Dad.
We’d yell and yell till he’d hit me good,
And the lights would go on in the neighborhood.
It got so bad I wished that I could . . . but then Daddy did. . .
Now Gramma was a lot like Mom, heart of gold in a tiny frame.
She took me in when there weren’t no one, and when I got in trouble she shared the blame.
Never cared much for my looks...
The kind of girl for bums and crooks...
Fish around till I’d get hooked ... what a life to live.
There’s a picture of Jesus on my wall.
It’s been there since I was very small.
He looks like He just saw a little girl fall.
And you know He don’t look angry at all.
I work swing shift in a bearing plant, got my friends and I got my foes.
I’d like to leave but I know I can’t, and that’s just the way it goes.
Got pregnant by a married man...
Broke my heart and trashed my plans...
But when I hold that tiny hand ... it don’t seem so bad.
Gramma watched for the first three years, till she got a killing flu.
He got real close so she could hear, “Gramma I love you”
Maybe ‘cause we missed her so...
Maybe ‘cause . . . I don’t know...
I let another baby grow ... never told his Dad.
Repeat Chorus
There’s this man at work I see every night, says God gonna judge me for my sins.
And I believe he’s probably right. Yes I know that I’ve disappointed Him.
But every now and then I’ll stare...
At that picture of Jesus hanging there...
And a kind of hope fills up the air, He loves me anyway.
When I was little I used to play down by a meadow pond.
A big blue heron would fly away, whenever I would come.
Kind of thought that’s like God and I...
I Show up He starts to fly...
But now when I look in Jesus’ eyes ... almost think that He would stay ...
I almost feel like I could pray.
Repeat Chorus

Those of us who are in trouble can approach the Father.

This parable of the Lost Son not only shows what kind of repentance the Father responds to, but it also shows the way the Father responds to repentance.

A writer named Kenneth Bailey pointed out that this parable is told on two giant chiasms. The first one deals with the younger son and the second deals with the older son.

The Younger Son

>12 A Son is Lost
-->13 A Wild Party
---->14 Desperate Need
------> 15 Sin
--------> 16 Total Rejection
----> 17 Recognition of Need
----> 18 Return
--------> 20 Total Acceptance
------> 21 Confession
----> 22 Total Provision
---> 23 A Planned Party
>24 A Son is Found

In a chiasm the emphasis is in the center. Notice what is in the center of this one. The repentance of the son. He first recognizes his sin and then returns to the father. In the first two parables, Jesus talked about the repentance of sinners, and there was no repentance. Now we see the repentance.

Repentance is:
-recognition of one’s need
-return to the father
-revelation of sin (confession)
-response of humility

Heb 6:1-2 Repentance from dead works and Faith toward God. It is the attitude that I can’t, but He can. Repentance and Faith are two sides of the same coin.

Now we come to the last half of the parable:


We talked about the chiasm in the section dealing with the younger son. Let’s go ahead and study the dialog between the father and older son with the help of the chiasm:

The Older Son

> 26 Suspicious
--> 27 Safe and Sound
----> 28 The Father’s Effort
------> 29 Self-righteous (Me)
------> 30 Judgmental (Him)
----> 31 The Father’s Effort
--> 32 Alive and Found

In verse 26 we see the older son comes home and asks what is going on. A servant tells him that his brother has returned and everyone is celebrating. The older son is angry so the father goes out to him to plead with him to come inside.

Let’s look at the older son’s response in detail:

Vs 29 He says, “Look!” which is disrespectful to his father.

His attitude was that he was “slaving.” This is not just the word for work. It is the term doulos which means to slave. He didn’t understand what it meant to be a son. He didn’t understand grace. He was trying to earn his inheritance or something.

He claims to have never disobeyed a command of the father’s. This was undoubtedly not true. He did not recognize his own sin. It is also very indicative of the Pharisees’ self-righteous attitude that they were above reproach. And this ties us back to the 99 righteous in 15:7.

He claims that the father never gave him anything. In essence, the older son is saying the same thing that the younger son said. He wishes the father were dead so he could have his stuff. But remember that the father had already divided the inheritance between the two sons. This son actually had a double portion.

He says “that I might be merry” - this shows that he wants to have joy without repentance.

And who does he want to be merry with? With his “friends,” not his father or family.

Vs 30 He is resentful of the good treatment that the father is giving the younger son.

The center of the chiasm points us to the most important point of the parable. The center of each focuses on the responses of the sons.

-In the first chiasm the center was the repentance of the younger son. He recognized his sin and returned to the father.
-In the second chiasm the center was the self-righteous, self-justification of the older son and his criticism of the younger son.

Vs 31 The father reminds him that he had already given him everything.

Vs 32 The father explains why he is celebrating and then there is no response from the older brother. The absent response of older son leaves you hanging. God is waiting to bring the religious leader in.

The last chiasm is incomplete you are left hanging with a question in your mind. “What is the older son going to do?” It is part of the surprise ending.

Jesus uses several other devices to bring in the element of surprise.

A pattern is developed and then changed in the end:

-lost, found, rejoicing
-lost, found, rejoicing
-lost, found, rejoicing, resentment

The older son resents his father’s acceptance of the prodigal son. He does not rejoice like the shepherds in the first parable, nor the woman and her neighbors in the second parable, nor does he rejoice with the father and the rest of the family in the end. The parallelism breaks down. And we are surprised.

Christ receives sinners because

He knows the perspective of heaven

He joins the chorus of the angels

He shares the Father’s heart and rejoices when one sinner repents,

In the first parable the ratio is 99:1. Only one is lost.

In the second parable the ratio is 9:1. Only one is lost.

In the last parable, you think the ratio is 1:1 until you get to the end and find out that it is 0:2. Both sons were actually lost. What does that say about the 99 righteous? And we are surprised again.

What is your attitude towards the older brother? If this were a play, what would your reaction be? I think there are three responses that a person might have:

* You could cheer! You might agree with the older son and think he is right. It is not fair that his faithless brother gets a big party when he, himself, had worked so hard for his father. If we agree with him, then our hearts are revealed. We are just like him. We do not understand our own sin and we do not understand grace.
* You could boo and hiss. You might condemn the older son. When you really analyze his statement in verses 29-30, you see he is evil too. But if we condemn him, our hearts are revealed again. We have the same self-righteous and judgmental attitude that he had.
* You could cry. The proper response is sadness for the older son. We should want him to come inside too. If we don’t have that attitude, we don’t share the perspective of the father who rejoices when one is saved.

The Point

God actively seeks to bring all into His kingdom, but only those who recognize they are lost will enter the kingdom of God. And we need to remember that the kingdom will be composed of a community of repentant sinners.

The Principles

* We must be careful that we do not despise nor neglect those with socially unacceptable lifestyles because they are valuable to God.
* We should expend great effort to bring the lost to salvation. This parable should make us want to share the gospel. If we were really concerned for the lost, we would.
* We should be excited when a sinner repents.

Paul says, “In the same way you received Christ, so walk in Him.” The Christian life is a series of “salvation-like” experiences. I don’t mean you lose your salvation and get saved again. I mean that the growth process involves repeated recognition of need, recognition of our independent spirit and returning to the Father in faith that He is good and will provide for us.

Sometimes we are like the prodigal son. We doubt the goodness of God and take our gifts and leave God and go out to try to find life and happiness through some other means -- it could be our work, our family, legitimate or illegitimate relationships, substance abuse, etc. We need to come to our senses, recognize that it is not working, that we are in need and turn back to God. When we do, he will accept us with open arms. He will take us back. Remember this: I am a prodigal son every time I search for love and happiness apart from the Father.

Sometimes we are like the older son. Maybe our sins are not as obvious as the younger son’s. Ours are on the inside. They are sins of attitude. We think that we are doing a good job, but we are comparing ourselves to really bad people. We can always find someone else whom we think is worse than us, and we think we are ok. But the conversation between the older son and the father revealed that the older son had the exact same attitude as the younger son. He just didn’t carry out his innermost desires. But just having the attitude left him on the outside. We need to evaluate our attitudes. Maybe there are some we need to repent of. There is a danger in becoming proud and self righteousness which blinds one to the need of repentance.


The point of the first two parables in which a lost sheep was found and a lost coin was found emphasized the effort of God in finding the lost. In the third parable, the Father finds the prodigal son, who repents, but the father also goes outside to find the older son and the question we are left with is Will the older son repent? Repentance is not just about being found. It is only the context in which the heart can move. The Pharisees needed to examine their own hearts. We need to examine our hearts. And that is the surprise ending.

(Wednesday 01/23/08) - Full Parable 13 - The Unjust Steward

Somebody defined money as, “an article which may be used as a universal passport to everywhere except heaven and as a universal provider of everything except happiness.”People think that if they just had more money, life would be better because then they could buy all the things they wanted and that would make them happy. Do you know anybody who doesn’t want to win the Lotto? Do you know anybody that thinks winning $10 million would make them miserable? Luke 16 gives us two parables that deal with money and tells us the proper way to spend it if we have it.

The Passage: Luke 16:1-13

The Parameters

  • A steward is one who manages another’s wealth. He does not own it, he uses it for the profit of his master. As Christians we are stewards of what God has given us. We do not own it.
  • The audience is the disciples. Therefore, this applies primarily to saved people.
  • This follows the parable of the lost sons where the younger one "wasted" his life and inheritance and the older son "spent" his life slaving for his father. In this parable we will see the importance of "investing" your money.
  • The younger son squandered the family inheritance and I think there may be a link to the word squandered in 15:13.
  • There is a warning to the Pharisees concerning their love of money following this parable in 16:14-17.
  • The parable of the rich man and Lazarus follows with its emphasis on eternity.
  • The danger of squandering money, loving it too much and eternity are the backdrops to the parable.

The Problem

Some people say that the problem is that the steward forgot he was a steward and began using the money as his own. I don’t think that is what the passage is really about. It doesn’t say he was using it for his own. It just says he wasted it. Perhaps one of the ways he wasted the money was by spending it on himself, so the idea might be included in the parable, but that is not the emphasis. If the emphasis is not on using the money for himself, then what is it?

I think the main problem is related to the emphasis on eternity following the parable. The main problem is that the steward did not work with a view to the future. He assumed he would always have that job and was not careful with the stuff entrusted to him. If he’d believed he might be fired for poor performance, I can’t help but think he would have performed better and been more careful with what was entrusted to him.

If you know you are about to lose your job next month or might lose your job next month, you are not going to go out and take out a loan on a new house, go out to eat every night, buy a new set of golf clubs or a big screen TV, or whatever. You are going to spend money only on what you must. You will live with a very real sense of what the future holds for you. If you are being evaluated, you will perform your job diligently so that you receive a good evaluation and don’t get fired. This steward was not thinking about the future until he got his pink slip.

I think the emphasis in our parable is on eternity and using money for eternity.

So, the question is: How can believers be shrewd in dealing with their money?

The Progression

Chronological and logical

The problem for the present (1-3)
The master heard that the steward was not performing properly and told him he was fired, but before he left, he was to prepare his books for an audit.

We’ve already mentioned that we don’t know how the steward squandered the money. Suffice it to say that he was caught and in trouble.

Verse 3 - The steward said to himself, “What shall I do...” I think it is significant that this steward recognized his problem. He did not try to deny that it was happening, hope it would go away, hope the master would forget, etc. He is now looking to the future and he knows that the future holds trouble. And he doesn’t procrastinate once he hears the bad news. It seems that animals have more sense than humans in this area. They go south or store up food for the winter, but most humans live for the present and don’t worry about the future.

Unsaved people spend their lives denying that God exists, denying that there is a hell, denying their sin problem, etc. If they really believed there was a problem, that they were going to go to hell, I can't help but think that they would do something about it. That is why we sometimes say, “You have to get the unsaved person lost before you can get them saved.” They deny reality and don’t want to worry about the future.

The believers have a different problem. They know there is a heaven and hell. They worried about it enough to get their life insurance. But now they need to recognize that they are going to be held accountable for their stewardship of what God has given them.

The dishonest steward lived like he wouldn’t ever be held accountable. Now he knows he is in trouble, so what does he do?

The plan for the future (4-7)

He prepares for the future. He decides to make some friends. He does this by going to those who owe his master money and giving them big discounts. Then, when he leaves his present employment, perhaps these business acquaintances will hire him.

Notice also that he acted immediately. He did not delay in making preparations for his future. We have a tendency to think that there is plenty of time to get right with God or put off giving what we should to the church. We think things like...”I’ll just finish paying off that loan and then I’ll start giving more ... or ... After I get $5000 in the bank for emergencies then I’ll start giving more ... or ... After we replace the ______ then we can start giving more” If we get into that mode, there will always be something that we think we need NOW and never prepare for later.

The praise for shrewdness (vs. 8)

Some have problems with the praise that is given to the steward because it seems Jesus is praising the steward for being dishonest. First, we can point out that it is the master in the parable and not Jesus doing the praising. Second, if you understand the culture, you know that he wasn’t being dishonest by giving discounts to the master’s debtors.

How was he shrewd? Why was this not dishonest? Israelites were not to charge interest to their fellow citizens (Ex 22:25; Lev 25:36, Deut 15:8, 23:19). But they were charging interest. They did it by lending a person $80 but making them sign an IOU for $100. From Josephus we know that olive oil was a very volatile commodity and they charged 100% interest. The interest rate on wheat was 25%. That matches the figures Jesus used. Therefore, all the steward did was drop off the interest. He was shrewd because the master couldn’t turn him in for anything illegal, because he wasn’t supposed to charge interest in the first place. The master still fired him, but he certainly did the debtors a favor.

I’ve heard that this kind of stuff still happens today in Israel. In Israel it is illegal to milk a cow on the Sabbath unless you only do it for the cows benefit. How do you know if it is for the cows benefit? The elders have determined that you can do it for the cows benefit by milking her and letting the milk fall onto the rocks. So, they made a law that you must milk a cow on the rocks on the Sabbath. Shrewd Israelites sterilize rocks, put them in the bottom of the bucket and milk the cow on the rocks. There are always ways to get around the law if you want to. They should have left the principle or spirit of the law in place rather than define a specific action as fulfilling the principle.

We do the same thing when we make a rule that you can’t drink any alcohol. The Biblical principle is that we keep the Holy Spirit in control and not get drunk and be controlled by the alcohol. So we don’t drink but substitute alcohol with something else.

Verse 8 - How are sons of this age more shrewd? Many people do plan for their earthly retirement. But most Christians are not planning for their heavenly retirement.

vs. 9 Jesus says, use your money to make heavenly friends. This is the point of the parable.

The Point

Christians ought to be shrewd in their stewardships and use earthly finances to make heavenly friends.

Do you realize that when your stewardship is finished here on earth, you will have to leave everything behind and go to a place where the only thing you can send ahead are people.

The Relationship of the Parable to the Kingdom Program of God

We derive our understanding of the relationship of the parable to the Kingdom of God from verses 10.

In the kingdom, rewards and responsibilities will be given to those who demonstrated a faithfulness in their earthly entrustments. If you squandered your resources while on earth, you will not be given much responsibility in the kingdom.

We should invest our money in evangelistic purposes so that when we go from here to eternity, we will have friends there to welcome us.

The Particulars

vs. 11-12 - There are lots of people who have no respect for the property of their landlords and tear up the house. There are government project houses in which people live for free or next to free and some of them do the same thing. I've heard people say that the solution to this is to actually give them the houses and once they are on their own, then they will take care of them. What does this parable say about that?

The Principles

  • The money of this world should be used as a ministry for the next. Temporary fortune should be invested to secure eternal friends. You can’t take it with you. The only thing that you can take with you is people. (vs. 9)
  • Money management is not a little issue. It is loaded with implications. Let me see your checkbook and I’ll tell you your priorities.
  • Faithfulness in stewardship will be rewarded with true ownership.
  • The worship of God and gold is mutually exclusive. Why is it mutually exclusive? If gold is your god, then your major motivation will be to get it for yourself. If God is your god, then your major motivation will be to give it.

This is a great parable about stewardship.

There is a story about a man crawling across the desert and he comes to a rusty old pump with a little glass jug of water with a lid on it and a piece of leather parchment. He grabs the jar of water and just before he drinks it, he reads the parchment which says, “Stop! Don’t drink this. Use the water in the jar to wet the leather gasket on the pump. Then you can pump as much water as you like for drinking. Then fill the jar up and leave it with this note for the next traveler.

That is a good illustration of how we often want to use our money for instant gratification but wise use of our money will reap far greater rewards.

I think the parable of the unfaithful steward is subtle, but significant. Some say that the servant was cutting out his commissions when he reduced the debts. That might be true. The master probably got most of the interest being charged, but I’m sure some of it went to the steward. Therefore, when the servant cut his commission out of the transactions, there was nothing in it for him in the short term. Everything went to the master. Perhaps we could make the application or analogy that we give our money to missionary or charitable causes, we might not see any benefits now, but it can reap rewards later.

What was the response of the Pharisees to this parable? They were laughing at Jesus. And Jesus condemns them for only worrying about the present and what men think rather than the future and what God thinks. This sets us up for the next parable.

(Thursday 01/24/08) - Full Parable 14 - The Rich Man and Lazarus

The Passage: Luke 16:19-31

The Parameters:

Jesus had just given a parable about wealth and taught that you cannot serve both God and money. The Pharisees were lovers of money (Luke 16:14) and scoffed at Jesus. So He tells them another parable about trusting in money. He even begins it the same way he began the last parable - with the phrase, there was a certain rich man...

Jesus had also taught that while the Pharisees looked at the outside, God looks at the heart. (Luke 16:15)

Jesus made a comment in verse 16 about the law and the prophets being proclaimed until John.

Although most people think of future things when they think of the prophets, what the prophets primarily did was condemn Israel for oppressing the innocent and the poor. They proclaimed the importance of loving ones neighbor. This parable will portray one who does not do that.

Jesus also says he is preaching the gospel of the kingdom and makes a comment that everyone is forcing his way into it. This means that everyone is trying to get in. What we will see is examples of someone who gets in and someone who doesn’t. Jesus condemns the wrongful love of money in the Pharisees who thought that riches were synonymous with righteousness.

The Problem

We always talk about the attitude and question that Jesus is dealing with in his parables. In this one the attitude he is dealing with is the Pharisees attitude towards their wealth. They thought wealth was a sign of spirituality and blessing from God. They also thought that poverty was a result of sinfulness and cursing from God. They were sure that poor people were not going to go to heaven.

What is Gods attitude towards the Pharisees who were devoted to money and took great pride that they had it? Would they enter the kingdom of God? What does it take to enter the kingdom (i.e. go to heaven)?

The Progression

Chronological or Logical - there are contrasts between the two characters in their earthly life and the after-life.

Earthly Life
-Rich Man - Dressed nice, ate well, lived it up every day. He was on the inside.
-Lazarus - dressed in rags, hungry, struggled to survive, oozing sores -- therefore unclean, too weak to fight off the dogs. He is on the outside.

-Lazarus - In Abraham’s bosom - in heaven - happy - banqueting imagery (reclining next to Abraham at a banquet). He is on the inside.
-Rich Man - In Hades - tormented - on the outside.
-Note the reversal of the earthly situation. Notice also that the eternal situation is irreversible. There is no second chance. What does this say about the Catholic doctrine of purgatory? The rich man is in Hades which is a place of torment - a holding tank for hell. Death and Hades will be thrown into the lake of fire. Rev... But you can’t get out.
-Notice in vs. 24 that the rich man is still trying to order Lazarus around. He wants God to send the poor man to minister to him. His attitude hasn’t changed. I wonder what that says about repentance after death? Will there be any? Or will people in hell also burn with anger?

The Point

Social status and material possessions are no guarantee of ones standing with God. The only thing that matters is a right response to the Word of God.

The Relation of the Parable to the Kingdom of God

Entrance into the kingdom is dependent on ones faith in Jesus to whom the Scriptures point, not on ones relationship to Abraham.

The Pharisee did not listen to what the prophets said about the coming Messiah nor about how to treat their neighbors. It was the lack of love that illustrated he had no regard for the prophets. He was counting on his relationship to Abraham.

The Particulars

  • In present life there was no chasm between Lazarus and the rich man. In fact Lazarus was begging just outside the rich man’s gate. The rich man could have gone out and helped Lazarus any time he felt like it. But in eternal life there is a great chasm separating heaven and hell. Jesus uses space to emphasize that this gap is uncrossable and permanent. Notice also that it prevents those who want to go from heaven to hell (to show mercy) can’t.
  • Lazarus “laid at the man’s gate” which indicates he was crippled or lame. He was also poor. According to the Pharisees, people were poor, lame, sick, etc. because they were wicked. It proved not to be the case.
  • The rich man was not with father Abraham in paradise like he thought he would be. Jews - and especially the Pharisees - thought they were guaranteed entrance into heaven because of their physical relationship to Abraham.
  • The rich man did not listen to the law and the prophets which taught about how to love one’s neighbor (Micah 6:8). He did not love his neighbor. We know from the parable of the Good Samaritan in Luke 10 that loving one’s neighbor involved helping one who was down and out like Lazarus was.
  • The prophets also predicted that Messiah would be born in Bethlehem, be the friend of outcasts, etc. (cf. Micah 5:2; 4:6, Isa 61:1-2). This was also emphasized in Luke 14: and 15:1. The rich man rejected that truth also. He was too good to be the friend of outcasts.
  • The rich man knew his brothers weren’t paying attention to the OT scriptures either and thought they would be convinced if Lazarus came back from the grave. In fact, there was a man named Lazarus who was raised from the dead in John’s gospel. (This is the only parable in which a character is named and I’m certain Jesus did so because he knew he would raise Lazarus.) It did not convince them. They wanted to kill him again. Jesus was also raised from the dead, and they were not convinced.
  • Rich man knew Lazarus in real life (we know that because he knew his name in heaven) but he ignored him.
  • Treatment of Lazarus on earth revealed the rich man’s true relationship to God.

The Principles

  • True religion demands social compassion. We need to evaluate our attitudes towards those in need. It reveals our status and relationship with God. The problem with most evangelicals is that they have over reacted against the liberal “social gospel.”
  • The realities of the after-life include torment and blessing. Not annihilation or neutrality. Some people today are teaching a doctrine of annihilation.
  • Disappointment and disease are not necessarily a sign of God’s displeasure.
  • We need to evaluate our attitude towards wealth. What are we depending on? Do we think being rich means we are right with God? We need to worry more about eternity.
  • God’s word is our source of information. It is enough, don’t look for supernatural signs.
  • The decisions of this life are final and determinative. There are no second chances where heaven is concerned.
  • Luke 16 is not just about money or wealth. That is what everyone labels it. But when you really understand the chapter the key element in both the parables is personal relationships. With the parable of the steward the issue was making friends for eternity which would fall under the heading of evangelism. With this philosophy one of the most worthwhile things you can give to is missions. When you give a donation to sending Bibles to India or China or sending missionaries out, you are making friends for eternity. I have to wonder if when we all get to heaven if people saved through the ministry of some missionary are going to find the ones who supported the missionaries financially and say thank you. Ray Boltz has a song entitled Thank You where this guy gets to heaven and all these people come up to him and thank him for the time he took to teach Sunday school where they first heard the gospel.... Maybe God will give us the knowledge of all who contributed to our salvation so we can thank those that allowed themselves to be used by God. Think of the joy that will bring to you when someone comes to you and says, I wouldn’t be here without your help. Thank you so much!
  • In the parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus, the rich man should have used his money to help Lazarus. But he only used his money for his own enjoyment. It says in vs. 19 that he dressed in the latest and best fashions and spent all his money on partying and buying expensive things for himself. Since Lazarus was the righteous one in the story, it is not about evangelism, it is about edification. It is about what the rich man should have done to build Lazarus up. He should have tried to help Lazarus.
  • If you remember the summary of the parabolic sayings, the last two were about the dragnet and the householder. Those two parabolic sayings emphasized the disciple’s responsibility for evangelism and edification. We see the same theme repeated here.
  • Both stories are really about whether or not we love others. One of the barometers of how we love is how we spend our money. The question to ask ourselves is - Who do I love? The answer can be found by going through our check register.
Some argue that this is not a parable because a character is named. But those who argue thus do not understand that minor variations from the literary motif do not mean it is not a parable. The variation is there to emphasize something. In this case it draws attention to Lazarus who was raised.

(Friday 01/25/08) Full Parable 15 - The Unprofitable Servant

The Passage: Luke 17:7-10

The Parameters

Preceding context - Offences and forgiveness (17:1-4)
Jesus has just told the disciples, if their brother sins against them seven times a day, they need to forgive him. Their response is “Increase our faith!” Jesus points out that faith is not the issue. If they had faith as big as a mustard seed, they could do anything. Jesus is not making a commentary on their faith or lack of faith. He is correcting their statement. He begins verse 7 with “but” which shows that in contrast to this being an issue of faith, it is an issue of something else.

Following context - Lepers cleansed with only a thankful Samaritan (17:11-19)
The point of this miracle and the response of the nine Israelites compared to the one Samaritan is that the Israelites thought that their healing was deserved and were not grateful while the Samaritan knew he was unworthy and therefore was grateful.

The Problem

Jesus is dealing with the attitude that believes forgiving one’s brother is above the call of duty and requires special faith.

The Progression

Logical: the expectation of the slave relationship.

The rhetorical question (expecting a negative response)
The regular expectation (expecting an affirmative response)

  • Prepare the meal
  • Clothe yourself
  • Serve the master
  • Eat after serving

The rhetorical question (expecting a negative response)
The revelational application (expecting an affirmative response)

When you do the things commanded of you:

  • Recognize your unworthiness
  • Realize your obligation
  • Implied - Don’t expect extra rewards

The Point

A disciple acts in faith when he does not expect extra rewards for faithful service to the Lord as His master.

The Relation of the Parable to the Kingdom Program of God

As a disciple of the kingdom, one needs to understand that faith comes in obedience to the Word of God. To increase one’s faith is not a quantitative consideration but qualitative commitment. Even a faith the size of a mustard seed will have extraordinary results. A disciple, like a slave, must recognize one’s proper place in relationship to the King and serve out of loyalty to the relationship and not out of expectation for the reward. A relationship with Christ is the result of a relationship based on the grace of the Master and not on the worth of the servant.

The Principles

  • Gratitude for the grace of God should outweigh all other motivations. If someone gave you $10,000 as a gift because you were in a bind financially, and he saved you from foreclosure or some such fate, what would your attitude towards that person be? If he asked you to do him a favor, a month or so later, would you feel inconvenienced? or would you be glad to do it? I suspect if something that tangible happened, you would really feel the gratitude, etc. Why aren’t we awestruck with God’s gift to us?
  • Faith ought to be demonstrated by obedience. If I believe God, I’ll do what He wants me to do.
  • Don’t expect extra reward for expected service. The issue is my attitude. When I serve, is my motivation rewards? or gratitude? If it is primarily rewards, I am a mercenary. We need balance. Both motivations are valid.
  • My submission to Christ should reflect His absolute Lordship over my life.
  • True servanthood demands that I put the interests of Jesus Christ before my own.
  • The time and skills of the servant should be at the disposal of the Master.
  • Even rewards are a demonstration of God’s graciousness and enablement.
  • What follows this parable is an account of the healing of ten lepers. It is not a coincident that it follows this teaching. Jesus’ miracles always illustrate what he has just taught or is about to teach. We discussed it in the introduction, but now maybe the miracle that follows will take on new significance. Jesus has just taught that obedience comes from the gratitude of an unworthy person. Now we see ten lepers healed and only one returns to say thank you. Why?

Welcome to Week 5 of The Parables by Hamptom Keathley IV Th.M. - Full Parables


3 types of Parables:
(1) Parabolic Sayings - these are the one-liners found in Luke 4-7
(2) Similitudes - “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 continue with (3) Full Parables.

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(Monday 01/14/08) Full Parable 4 - The Parable of the Rich Fool


James Boswell in his biography of Samuel Johnson (a famous English writer) says, “he remembers the one day he went fishing with his father. He called it the most significant day of his life with his dad. Later he got hold of his father’s diary and read the entry, quote: “Went fishing with Sam, day wasted.”

Why did he think the day was wasted? Maybe it was because he wasn’t at work making more money, getting ahead in his career.

Jesus tells us a parable about a man like that. He is called “the rich fool.”

The Passage:
Luke 12:13-21

The Parameters

In chapter 11 Jesus is condemning the religious leaders for their hypocrisy (vs. 42-43) and for rejecting and killing God’s messengers (47).

In 12:1 Jesus warns the disciples of the leaven of the Pharisees. He defines it as hypocrisy. They placed all their emphasis on externals - on the physical - on the temporal. He condemns them elsewhere for being white-washed tombs (Mat 23:27) because their insides are rotten, but they have covered up the rottenness with nice looking rituals and rules. But, 12:2 says there is nothing covered up that will not be revealed...

In chapter 11 Jesus talked about how the Jewish religious leaders always killed God’s messengers. In 12:4 Jesus teaches his disciples not to be afraid of those who kill the body, which is a physical and temporal issue. Instead, they should be afraid of God who has power over their souls and can send them to hell (12:5). That is a spiritual issue. It is an eternal issue. Then he reminds them that there will be a final accounting in the after-life (12:8-9).

He also tells them not to be anxious for their life when these prophet killers drag them before the courts because the Holy Spirit will guide them.

In vs. 13 Some guy in the crowd says, “Teacher, tell my brother to divide the family inheritance with me.” I recently heard someone teach on this parable and he said that this guy comes out of left field with his question - that it was totally unrelated to the context. I disagree. I think it is very related to the context.

What does this question reveal to us? It shows that he has not been paying attention because he worried about a physical temporal thing. Far from being out of context. The man’s question illustrates the very thing that Jesus was speaking about.

The law of primogeniture says (Num 27:1-11 Deut 21:15-17) that the first born gets a double portion. If you had two brothers, you divided the estate three ways and the oldest got two parts. So guess which son this is. He is the youngest son.

If he is asking this, what does that tell us about his father? His dad has just died. That will set us up for a very significant part of the parable.

This shows that he is greedy. From here on we will refer to him as the greedy brother.

The greedy brother is not following the ideal of living in harmony with his brother. Ps 133:1 says, “How good and pleasant it is when brothers live together in unity!” I would assume this man knew the Scriptures but did not care. The greedy brother treasured riches more than his relationship with his brother. He did not love people.

In vs. 14 what is Jesus’ response? He says, “Man, who appointed me a judge or arbiter over you?”

The irony is that when Jesus says, “Who made me a judge over you?” it seems to imply that it wasn’t His job, but in reality it was going to be soon. Jesus is asking probing questions to see if the people understand who He really is.

The word arbiter can also be translated “divider.” Jesus could also be saying I am not going to contribute to the division between you and your brother. Although the greedy brother doesn’t care about Psalm 133:1, Jesus remembers. He came to promote relationships.

vs. 15 gives us a big clue as to what the point of the parable is. Jesus condemns greed and warns that even if the man gets a larger share of the inheritance, it will not bring life.

People don’t believe this. They think that if they can only get enough material things these things will produce the abundant life.

Do riches bring the abundant life? Listen to what Andrew Carnegie had to say:

“You may have all the money in the world, and yet be a lonely, sorrowing man.”

Sir Earnest Cassel said, “The light has gone out of my life. I live in this beautiful house, which I have furnished with all the luxury and wonder of art; but, believe me, I no longer value my millions. I sit here for hours every night longing for my beloved daughter."

And Christina Onassis said, "Happiness is not based on money and the greatest proof of that is our family."

Do you believe these stories? Or do you think it would be different for you if you had lots of money?

The Problem Which Prompts The Parable

Jesus is dealing with the problem of greed and seeking life on earth in temporal possessions.

The Progression

Biographical - There is a comparison and contrast going on between the two characters in the parable and two characters outside the parable.

Characters In the Parable
The Rich man

At first he appears to be a good man who has many riches. He is content with them and going to enjoy them. He is the ultimate couch potato. Why is Christ telling a story about a rich man to a bunch of poor people and to a greedy brother? I think He is setting them up with this story.


God is the judge. He thinks the man is a fool. Until verse 20 the rich man doesn’t appear to be too bad. Then we get God’s opinion of him. The problem is not that he has lots of riches. It is his attitude. He thinks this is all there is to life and he is content.

Characters outside the parable:
The Greedy brother

He is a greedy man, and wants riches. His attitude is that more money will bring him life.


The Particulars Of The Parable

Vs 16 - Why is Jesus telling this parable about the rich man who had no greed to a greedy man?

Jesus builds up the rich man as a good guy, a content man - something that is very rare. This guy is just the opposite of the greedy man. What do we learn? Both thought that life consisted in stuff. Selfishness and self-satisfaction are two opposite pulls that are both out of balance to God. They are opposite sides of the same coin.

The man in the parable was already rich. He already had enough for himself. But this year, he had a bumper crop. Isn’t this the way it always is? The rich get richer and the poor get poorer? One gets the impression that the rich man didn’t really work very hard for this. Why does Jesus want us to get that impression? If you get something that you didn’t work for, what is it? It is a gift. Who was this gift from? It was a gift from God. Remember that.

So, what does he do with the surplus? Verse 17 says “The rich man began reasoning to himself” This is significant because in that culture everyone went to the city gates to discuss everything. This man doesn’t do that. We get the impression that he has no friends, no relationship with anyone.

He says, “What shall I do, since I have no place to store my crops? This is what I will do: I will tear down my barns and build larger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods.”

Notice the emphasis on “I” and “my” as he reasons with himself. He did not understand that his prosperity was a gift from God. He forgot that he was a steward and thought that he owned it all.

In vs. 19 he assumes that he will live for a long time, and will enjoy his stuff.

But in vs. 20. God enters the scene and says, “You fool” the word for fool is a[frwn. This may be a play on words with the word for “merry” in the preceding verse which is eujfraivnou. “The rich man who thinks that his eujforew (many things) will produce eujfrwn (the good life), is in reality a[frwn (without mind, spirit and emotions).” (Kenneth Bailey, p. 67.) He is without life. He is stupid.

God goes on to say, “your soul is required of you.” The word “required” has the idea of paying back a loan. This emphasizes the idea that the man was just a steward of his stuff and not the owner.

Then God says, “now who will own what you have prepared?”

What is the connection between the greedy guy’s question and the parable?

The greedy guy’s question was concerning his inheritance (because his father had died) and the parable ends with a question of inheritance (because the rich man died). “Who will own what you have prepared?”

We know what will happen. We see it happening with the greedy man. The kids are going to fight over it. It reminds me of Howard Hughes. When he died, there was no will and people fought over his inheritance for years.

In vs. 21 Jesus says, “So is the man who lays up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God.”

There is a major reversal in the parable - the rich man ends up being poor to God. Notice the poetic justice. Why does Jesus tell a bunch of poor people about a rich man? How does a rich man story go over? Some poor people want bad things to happen to rich people, because they are jealous.

Notice how this parable even fits in the context of Jesus’ speech to the multitude. 12:11 don’t be anxious... 12:22 don’t be anxious.... He is telling them not to be anxious about temporal things. The greedy man’s question fit right into the context of Jesus’ lesson. It’s almost like it was staged. It certainly shows that the greedy man wasn’t paying any attention to what was being said.

Verse 23 There is more to life than food and clothing, things, stuff.... Verses 15 and 23 introduce and conclude the parable with the same thought. Man’s life does not consist of stuff. That is the answer to the materialism of our day.

The Point

Because we cannot take our material possessions with us, we should concentrate on storing up eternal treasures in heaven.

The Relation To The Kingdom Program Of God

Christ is going to be the judge in the kingdom. What started the whole parable? The question by the greedy man. He wanted Jesus to be the judge. Jesus says, “Who made me judge over you?” As if Jesus isn’t the one who is judge. Remember what Jesus said in 12:4 and 5. Don’t fear the one who kills the body, but fear the one who can cast you into hell. That of course is God. But God is going to hand all judgment over to Christ. But that is not yet known. Luke is hinting at it and will reveal it later.

If God is the king and we are the sons, then we are heirs of the kingdom and if we own the kingdom, then barns, grain and goods are such trivial matters. We don’t need to worry about earthly inheritances. That is the right perspective. It is so ironic that we lust for acres while here on the earth and God has kingdoms waiting for us in the future. What a stupid investment to leave God out of my life and devote my time on earth to build up the very thing that God is going to use for asphalt in heaven - gold. Streets of gold. Get it in perspective. The asphalt of heaven.

The Principles

Don’t put your emphasis on material possessions because they don’t last. Like the guy who was walking back from the funeral and someone asked him, “How much did the guy leave behind?” And the man smartly replied, “Everything.”

Greed is wrong, but at the opposite pole, so is self-sufficiency or self-satisfaction.

If you define life in terms of money, you leave God out of the definition and you end up bankrupt. What counts is your relationship with God. Remember Jesus said in 12:9 just before the parable, “He who denies Me before men shall be denied before the angels of God.”

The rich man made at least four mistakes:

1. The rich man made the mistake of thinking he was the owner of his stuff when he was just a steward. We are just stewards of our stuff.

2. He was worried about the present and forgot about eternity.

3. He was concerned only for the physical and forgot about spiritual things.

4. He treasured stuff more than people. He lived an isolated life

This parable tells us how to define life. Most people define life in terms of material possessions, physical fitness or the future. This parable speaks loudly to our generation. Have you been defining life in your career, your house, your stock portfolio, in terms of what you can do physically, or the assumption that you will live much longer? What is going to happen when you lose one or more of those things? What happens when you get laid off? What happens when the stock market crashes? What happens when you get some disease which takes away your physical ability. What happens when you find out you only have six months to live? If you define life in these things, you will be devastated.

Having possessions is not wrong, it is putting your security in them that is wrong. The rich man is not condemned for being rich. He is condemned for being self-centered, for not using his surplus to help others, for leaving God out of his life.

In 12:24-30 Jesus compares them to the birds and the flowers and shows them that since they are more valuable than the birds and flowers, that certainly their heavenly Father will take care of them. It is the Gentiles - the godless - that seek life in stuff.

So, they are to seek His kingdom and then all the stuff that they need will be added. The rich man got all the stuff and stopped seeking.

Vs 33 says we should store up treasure in heaven. How do we do that? by investing in people. People are the only things we can take with us to heaven. So, investing in people is what counts.

In vs. 34 Jesus says “where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” Whenever you invest your time or money, it moves the heart toward that thing. When you invest in stuff it darkens or hardens the heart. When you come across the choice between stuff, (like CD players, computers, business, etc.) or spending time with people and you choose stuff, you are rejecting people. Or if you invest in people, then you will reject stuff. Jesus says in the parallel passage in the Sermon on the Mount that you will love one and hate the other.

So the question is, what do you choose? What do you treasure?

I think one of the things that impressed me in this parable is the lack of love and relationship in the lives of the greedy brother and the rich man. They chose stuff instead of God or people. In the story I told at the beginning, we saw a father who chose stuff over his son. And we saw where his heart was.

Let me tell you another story:

Bill Butterfield says, “There is something magical about a birthday when you are a kid.” Remember the feeling? In one day, you gain a whole year on your friends. You go to bed 5 one day and the next you are 6. It is a special day and should be carefully planned. These sentiments came through loud and clear with my son Jesse. Formerly 5, now solidly 6. He wanted a birthday party at a certain place with certain friends with a certain menu with a certain type of birthday cake and certainly gifts. Jesse is not the type of kid to spout out a list of gifts a mile long. He always knows exactly what he wants and not only that, exactly where to find it. You see, Jesse has Toys-R-Us memorized. If asked where the Parcheesi game was, he would say it is with the games on aisle 12 between PacMan and Payday.

Wanting to make this a special birthday and wanting to get him exactly what he wanted, I asked him what he wanted for his birthday. However, I did not get the answer I expected. Instead, I was given a lesson in love.

“Dad, I would like a ball to play with for my birthday.” was Jesse’s carefully planned reply.

“Great!” I responded, “What kind of ball would you like?”

I think I’d like either a football or a soccer ball.

“Ok.” I agreed, but pressed him further. “Which one would you like more?” A football or soccer ball?”

“Well,” he mused slowly. I should have known by his pause that it was coming.

“Well...., if you had some time to play ball with me this next year, I’d really like a football for you and me to throw around in the back yard. But if you are going to be real busy this next year, maybe you’d better just get me a soccer ball because I can play soccer with the rest of the kids in the neighborhood.

He paused again......, The silence was deafening..... “Ok buddy, ... Uh....I’ll make a choice, ... uh...and surprise you for your birthday. How does that sound?”

“Great Daddy,.....I love you.”

I grabbed my wife and went into another room to relay the conversation that had just transpired. It was as I was retelling the story that my son’s message came through. He wasn’t longing for gifts. He was longing for the giver. It took an almost 6 year old to remind me that relationships are more important than things.

By the way, the oddest thing occurred on my son’s 6th birthday. It’s a moment we will never forget. A grown man and a little boy embracing and sobbing tears of joy over a dumb old football.

Long for the giver and not the gifts. Don’t invest in stuff. Invest in people.