Pass the Mustard

Daily Reading: Mark 4:30-32:

Again he said, “What shall we say the kingdom of God is like, or what parable shall we use to describe it? 31 It is like a mustard seed, which is the smallest of all seeds on earth. 32 Yet when planted, it grows and becomes the largest of all garden plants, with such big branches that the birds can perch in its shade.” 

The mustard seed represents the Gospel, starting very small but growing to reach millions throughout the world who will inherit the kingdom. Remember when Jesus talked about the Kingdom, He is describing it to a crowd, where Jesus at the time only had twelve disciples. There were not many who believed, and even in Acts 1 it says the group was 120. The people couldn’t even comprehend what Jesus was telling them. 120 believers sharing the Gospel led to where we stand today at an estimate of 2.18 billion believers from Jesus’ day to ours.

What comes prior to our mustard seed parable, Jesus teaches what the kingdom of God is like. A man scatters seed on the ground. Night and day, whether he sleeps or gets up, the seed sprouts and grows, though he does not know how. All by itself the soil produces grain—first the stalk, then the head, then the full kernel in the head. As soon as the grain is ripe, he puts the sickle to it, because the harvest has come” (Mark 4:26-29).

So, first of all, the man sowing seed is the teacher or preacher of truth.

His sleeping and rising night and day indicate that human effort is not the cause of the growth of the seed. It is a work of God in the hearts of men.

The seed growing secretly

  1. 1. God does His work silently.
  2. God does His work slowly.
  3. God does His work surely.

Because we know that salvation is a work of God, we are simply vehicles that bring forth the grace of God into the world by sowing seeds of God’s truth.

Now when we get to the parable of the mustard seed it shows the impact that kingdom work has. Both men and women are equal, integral parts in the expansion of the Kingdom (Mark 4:26, Luke 13:21). In a male dominant society in the time, Jesus does the original him/her insert when talking about kingdom workers.

 

 

 

 

The Value of Heaven

Daily Reading: Matthew 13:44-46

 “The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field. When a man found it, he hid it again, and then in his joy went and sold all he had and bought that field. “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant looking for fine pearls. When he found one of great value, he went away and sold everything he had and bought it.”

Here is Jesus’ explanation of the Parable of Weeds which comes directly before the parable of the Kingdom. Each item in the parable stands for something-

Sower of Seeds = the Son of Man (It is Jesus)

The field = the world

Good Seeds = those people of the kingdom.

The weeds = are the people of the evil one

The enemy who sows (the weeds) = the devil.

The harvest = the end of the age,

The harvesters = angels.

Culturally what you might not know is in Jesus’ day, sowing weeds in a neighbour’s field was a common way people had of getting even with each other. The Roman government actually passed a law against it because things got out of hand with sowing weeds.

The particular seed spoken of in the Parable of the Wheat and Weeds was most likely a variety of rye grass (known as bearded darnel). In the early stages of growth, you couldn’t tell what was wheat and what was rye grass. So, you didn’t know there were weeds in your field until the heads of grain appeared and then it was too late, because the roots would be so interwoven that to pull up the weeds would be to pull up the wheat.

The seeds of the bearded darnel were poisonous. The symptoms of eating darnel grain were dizziness, slurred speech, convulsions, vomiting and diarrhoea. That means that at some point there has to be a separation between what is good and what is bad in order to harvest.

Psalm 24 tells us that In order to “earn heaven based on your own merits”  A person must:

  • have clean hands (all your deeds are completely blameless)
  • and a pure heart (motives 100% pure all the time
  • who does not trust in an idol (God is our only desire, God our portion)
  • and never tell lies. (always keeps His promises).

It is simple. You want to be with God in Heaven? There are only four qualifications and if you do these perfectly all the time and never fail, God is waiting with open arms.

No one qualifies.

The message Bible says it this way– Wake up, you sleepyhead city!
Wake up, you sleepyhead people! King-Glory is ready to enter (Psalm 24:7). This is 1,005 years before Jesus was even birthed in Bethlehem. Yet David is prophetically preaching the Gospel. How can we ascend? If we could we would be blessed by God, we would be right before God, and God would be forever with us–but we can’t ascend.

David says wake up to what is really happening. King Glory Jesus is ready to enter your world, your life, your space. Who is this King of glory (Psalm 24:8)? Whether you realize it or not this is the most important question in all of human history? Jesus’ deeds were completely blameless. His motives 100% pure. He never lied and He always delivered on every promise. He did for us what we could not do for ourselves so that we might ascend the mountain of the Lord (heaven).

Jesus has made us righteous. Jesus has saved us, we may now ascend the mountain of the Lord, we will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father because we are the wheat of the field. Now that we know we are wheat and just as wheat never becomes a weed, we learn about the value of what we were given (Matthew 13:44-46).

“The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field”

If the omnipotent, all-wise God is ruling over all things for your joy, everything must be working for your good, no matter how painful (Romans 8:28, Matthew 13:44). And in the end God will triumph over all evil and all pain. So, this kingdom is a real treasure. The point here in Matthew 13:44 and in Philippians 3:8 is that the people who receive the kingdom treasure it more than everything else. “Where your treasure is (Christ), there your heart will be also” Christ lives in us (Matthew 6:21, Galatians 2:20). And if your heart is to have the kingdom above all things, then Luke 12:32 comes true for you: “It is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.” To give you the kingdom!

The Damned Fool

Daily Reading: Luke 12:16-21

And he told them this parable: “The ground of a certain rich man yielded an abundant harvest. He thought to himself, ‘What shall I do? I have no place to store my crops.’ “Then he said, ‘This is what I’ll do. I will tear down my barns and build bigger ones, and there I will store my surplus grain. 19 And I’ll say to myself, “You have plenty of grain laid up for many years. Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry.”  “But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?”  “This is how it will be with whoever stores up things for themselves but is not rich toward God.”

Having more money doesn’t make a person wiser (Luke 12:16). Be on guard against the deception of money (Luke 12:15) that can lead to foolishness in our thinking (Luke 12:19).

The chapter starts off with a warning as the Pharisaical teaching is compared to yeast; here is why:

1) starts off small and little, but gradually increases and spreads

2) it infects and corrupts the whole (men’s principles and practices)

and

3) puffs and swells them up with a vain opinion of themselves (Luke 12:1).

Jesus’ warning against the doctrine and lifestyle of the Pharisees and the man from the crowd’s concern about possessions are what precipitates the teaching of the rich fool which addresses them both.

Being rich toward God (Luke 12:21) is the opposite of acting as if life consists in the abundance of your possessions. Being rich toward God considers relationship with God as greater riches than anything on the earth. Being rich toward God means using earthly riches to show how much you value God. The issue is that God was not this man’s treasure.

Four Ways to Guard Against All Kinds of Greed

  1. Knowing Jesus is worth infinitely more than all earthly things.

Philippians 3:8, “I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord.

  1. 2. Satisfy Yourself with the Steadfast Love of God.

“Satisfy us in the morning with your steadfast love, that we may rejoice and be glad all our days” (Psalm 90:14).

  1. Rest in God’s promise to meet our needs.

“My God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:19). “God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work” (2 Corinthians 9:8). “Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” (Matthew 6:33). I will choose to rest my soul on these promises.

  1. Turn the prosperity of my fields into blessings for others, the building of the Kingdom of God.

In everything I showed you that by working hard in this manner you must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, that He Himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’ Acts 20:35.

 

Is it Really About Persistent Prayer?

Daily Reading: Luke 11:5-8:

“Then Jesus said to them, “Suppose you have a friend, and you go to him at midnight and say, ‘Friend, lend me three loaves of bread; a friend of mine on a journey has come to me, and I have no food to offer him.’  And suppose the one inside answers, ‘Don’t bother me. The door is already locked, and my children and I are in bed. I can’t get up and give you anything.’ I tell you, even though he will not get up and give you the bread because of friendship, yet because of your shameless audacity he will surely get up and give you as much as you need.”

The Greek roots of the word hospitality literally mean “love of stranger.” New Testament hospitality functioned on several levels. In a world in which being a Christian led to persecution, the church knew that it had to provide for those thrown out of their homes for becoming Christians. The ancient world had very few lodging places for travelers. Usually travelers of any kind stayed with whomever would open their homes to the stranger. This request was a common one with an expectation of hospitality.

Adam Clarke’s Commentary had it right in this parable that the “ask, seek, knock” refer to the lost. We are not the friend on the outside asking, seeking, and knocking, we are the children on the inside who are already with the Father. The Father is with us, we are snuggled warmly next to His side. He is that near to us and we are that dear to Him.

The point of the parable is to show if the man reluctantly answers the request of his friend on the outside, how much more eagerly will he answer the request of his children on the inside? So, “When you pray, don’t babble on and on as the Gentiles do. They think their prayers are answered merely by repeating their words again and again. Don’t be like them, for your Father knows exactly what you need even before you ask him! (Matthew 6:7-8).

Your praying effort doesn’t impress God and therefore, get Him to respond, -instead pray with confidence all the time because your heavenly Father loves you and delights to give good gifts to His children. If you know this and believe this you will want to pray all the time (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18).

 

 

 

Who is the Good Samaritan?

Daily Reading: Luke 10:25-27

And behold, a lawyer stood up to put him to the test, saying, “Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” He said to him, “What is written in the Law? How do you read it?” And he answered, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.”

“And behold, a lawyer (nomikos) stood up to put him to the test”. Nomikos means an interpreter and teacher of the Mosaic law, one who is learned in the law.

The expert in the law is asking Jesus a question pertaining to the very thing he already specialized in. Why? To test Jesus. Ekpeirazō to prove, test, thoroughly tempt: his mind and judgment. We see this same word ekpeirazō used three times in one verse in Matthew 4:7: Jesus answered him, “It is also written: ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.’ (ekpeirazō).

The expert of the Law had to ask, what is the qualification for everlasting life because the Law of Moses was unable to save us because of the weakness of our sinful nature (Romans 8:3).

What is the answer to that question? We have the benefit of knowing what it is. Jesus is the qualification for eternal life.

And he answered, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.” I guarantee this answer (Luke 10:27) did not come from the lawyer but came from Jesus earlier. In Matthew’s Gospel the 22nd chapter tells the same story but from a different angle.

So, I fully believe that the first question the lawyer asked was, “which is the greatest commandment in the Law” (Matthew 22:36)? Jesus’ response to his question is parroted by the lawyer when answering Jesus’ own question (Luke 10:27) which came out of “what must I do to inherit eternal life?”

The means of salvation is Jesus, He cannot outright say this in this moment, and so Jesus is going to teach the secret of the Kingdom, how He/Jesus is our Good Samaritan.

The key interpretive question is this:  With whom is Jesus asking us to identify? The priest? The Levite? The Samaritan? Who we are in this story is the fallen man left for dead. This Samaritan is the answer to the fallen man. And this man is nothing like the religious. In fact, he would equally have been shunned by the priest and Levite and He was!

This is not a simple morality tale. The point of the parable is not our resolve to be good Samaritans. The point is Christ who is our Good Samaritan. If we miss Him in any part of Scripture we turn gospel into law and blessings into curses.

 

 

 

 

#The Lost

Daily Reading: Luke 15:8-10-

“Or suppose a woman has ten silver coins and loses one. Doesn’t she light a lamp, sweep the house and search carefully until she finds it? And when she finds it, she calls her friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost coin.’ 10 In the same way, I tell you, there is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.”

One of the main points of the three lost parables is to show the worth of the lost.

The candle is a picture of the effectual working of the church as the candle represents the Gospel itself; the light of Christ, this is the only way lost people can be found.

The three lost parables (of Luke 15) are all connected- meaning the lost audience what have been immersed in the story of lost things being found.

God saw our need for Him with love in His heart for you (Luke 15:20).

Our Father does five things in the parable of the lost son and His action illustrates His grace, as the number five in Greek numerology represented grace. He saw, He had compassion, He ran, He embraced, He kissed. What this tells us is that the grace of God…It’s instant, it’s complete, it’s sacrificial and it’s undeserved.

“Bring the best robe” (the robe stands for honor). The robe covers our sin and our shame. We are robed in Christ’s righteousness (Isaiah 61:10). Grace says here is your honor and it puts the robe of Jesus’ righteousness on you.

The ring stands for the Father’s authority belonging to the Son. It was a signet ring and showed that the son was given the authority of the Father and the family name. Think about our authority that comes from us being Christ’s ambassadors (2 Corinthians 5:20) and with Christ having all authority (Matthew 28:18). We are given the authority of Christ to carry out the Great Commission to become involved in the ministry of reconciliation (2 Corinthians 5:18). So that as we come to and receive Father God’s love, we go out into the world and we bring others to the Father for adoption into the family where they can experience the grace and love too.

The sandals represent your standing that you are not a hired servant nor will you ever be, you are a child of God. Hired servants did not wear sandals. Only family members did.

#Forgive Much

Daily Reading: Matthew 18:21-22

Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times?” Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.

The point is that in many ancient cultures, Hebrew included, the number seven often signifies completeness and/or perfection. Forgive them completely (70×7) because the point is to forgive them to the degree you have been forgiven, completely. Forgiven much, forgive much.

Jesus uses a parable to take Peter to the forgiveness God will offer so that He will understand how he will be enabled to forgive those who do wrong against him (Ephesians 4:32).

God the Merciful King felt such compassion towards humanity that He moved quickly (sent His Son) and made a way to cancel out all our debt (Matthew 18:27). So, we have a clear picture of the kindness of the King but then we see the response of the One was extended mercy.

  • He owed the king 10,000 bags of gold and was forgiven his great debt
  • He chokes & imprisons the man who owes him a little (100 silver coins)

How did the Merciful King respond to this man’s action?

“In anger his master handed him over to the jailers to be tortured, until he should pay back all he owed. This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother or sister from your heart.”

This is not talking to believers here that God is not going to throw you in hell for not perfectly and completely forgiving someone.

This is what this parable means:

  • Jesus makes it plain that forgiveness begins with the Lord. Each of us had a debt we could not pay and God, in his mercy, paid the debt on our behalf.
  • There are only two possible responses to God’s generosity.
  • One response is to say, thank you Jesus! What amazing grace! I will be forever grateful and I will tell others what you have done so they might be forgiven their sin debt as well.
  • The other response is that of the servant in the story. It is to remain unrepentant and unchanged by the goodness of God, to deny the grace of God as some unbelievers will do.
  • To ignore the mercy and goodness of the king now, is to risk the king’s wrath later.