Here is Lesson # 2 of our Lenten Bible Study. Last week we were at the church. This week I am at home and it does not look like we will be meeting at the church for some time. This is March Madness without the basketball, Yuk. So, instead we go to Matthew 13 and look at all the parables.
Review "The Great Physician" heals the sick, see Matthew 9. Yes, last week we talked about Jesus healing the sick. Thanks for all your comments and insights. Jesus' ministry is especially relevant as new cases are constantly breaking out. (Yesterday NYC had 980 cases, today that has doubled to 1,990!)
How do we respond? It is a strange and surreal world. Check out Salvador Dali's painting, "The Persistence of Memory" -- how bizarre. It doesn't make sense -- a desert wilderness of soft clocks and bending time -- Weird -- Look it up on the internet!
In such a time as this, we have no frame of reference, no baseball, no parties, no church services, except to go to Jesus in the Bible. So we go and learn from Jesus. And how do we learn from him? Matthew 13:34 tells us "he would not say a thing to them without using a parable." Indeed Jesus said, "I will use parables when I speak, I will tell them things unknown since the creation of the world."
Lesson # 2 "The Stories and Parables of Jesus" Matthew 13 is a long chapter with 8 parables. What a challenge. I don't expect you to understand each one. Each one has more than one meaning. They are "multi-layered." For example, look at the parable of the mustard seed, Matthew 13: 31. My friend, Pastor Jo Gatto preached this text here March 8 and handed out mustard seeds with a verse from Proverbs. (If you did not get one, I will mail you one.) She talked about F-A-I-T-H -- "FATHER ARE INTO THY HANDS." Trusting God in all we do. Thanks, Jo. Well done.
Now let us look at more meanings of this text. The mustard seed is small, so small that it could easily go unnoticed. So small like a child in Bethlehem, born in a manger. So small in comparison with the Roman Empire and the Great Temple of Jerusalem -- so small only shepherds came to see the birth. And yet that child grew up to be the greatest leader -- greater than all the Emperors or High Priests! And so the mustard seed grows and grows into a great tree -- a beautiful yellow tree -- full of fragrance and delight. But that is not enough. There is more meaning. The branches provide a home -- a home for the birds of the air!!! And yes, Jesus provides a home for us and all people. Amazing.
1. And what MORE does this parable say to you? Let me know.
2. And which of the other parables do you like? Why?
3. What questions do you have about these parables?
Thanks. Please let me know your thoughts and I will respond.
Yours in Christ, Rev Rob
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Rev. Dr. Shannon Smythe
United Presbyterian Church