Archive for 2010

The Parables - Parable of the Weeds

The parable of the weeds is another easy to understand parable. It deals with God's righteous judgment at the end of this age. We can say that this parable is very similar to the parable of the sower, only that things are now seen on a much larger scale. The parable of the sower describes how each seed germinates in the life of a believer to produce more seeds. This particular parable looks at the exact same scenario through a wider set of lens. The parable of the sower deals with things at a personal level, whereas this parable looks at the global scenario. Therefore, where we had soil we now have an entire field. In the last parable, the enemy plucked the seed out of the lives of those who did not understand the message. This represents how the devil can blind people from understanding the gospel. Here, we see that the devil has taken a different approach. He understands that the seeds have already germinated and it is only a matter of time before the field is ready for harvest. So now he sows his own seed among the good seed. This represents the "sons of the evil one" that coexist with the sons of the kingdom . The Lord uses the parable to draw a exact picture of what is happening in the world today. The sons of the evil one are so close to the sons of the kingdom that both are in each other's sphere of influence. For this reason, God cannot exercise his full judgement without harming the righteous along with the wicked. The parable teaches us that the divine restraint from wrath is only momentary and that it will soon come to an end. We can be sure of a day of judgment when the righteous will be separated from the wicked. The righteous will then "shine like the sun in the kingdom of their father", while the wicked will be thrown into the "fiery furnace.

The Parable of the Sower

Our study of Matthew takes us to chapter 13 this week. In Chapter 13, we find Jesus resorting to the use of Parables to effectively communicate the message of the Kingdom. A Parable is defined as, "a short allegorical story designed to illustrate or teach some truth, religious principle, or moral lesson." The disciples were curious to know why Jesus used parables when he talked to the crowd. Maybe, they thought it was a little childish for their rabbi to tell stories. But, Jesus had an answer waiting for them as always. Jesus said, "The knowledge of the kingdom of heaven has been given to you, but not to them." In other words, Jesus was saying that these stories had so much meaning contained in them, but this meaning can only be grasped by the serious listener and the person humble enough who cares to listen. Therefore, Jesus hid the gospel from the "know it alls" of his time just like He does today. The parables were grasped by the humble who thought of themselves not as intellectuals but normal everyday people with everyday minds. Jesus remarkably, made the kingdom message simple enough for the humble and too simple for the proud. In this, the prophecy of Isaiah 6:10 was fulfilled.

Now that we know why the Lord spoke in parables, we can turn our attention to the very first parable listed in the Scriptures. The Parable of the Sower is an allegory that explains to us the method by which the message of the kingdom takes root in the life of the listener. If you have not read the parable before, you can read it in Matthew 13. To understand the meaning of this parable, we do not have to do any hard thinking but just turn to the Lord for answers as always. The parable lists 5 types of listeners of the Kingdom message. All these types of listeners are present in this age too. The Lord compares the messenger of the Kingdom with a sower who went out to the field and sows some seed. If we look deeply into this parable, we see that the sower was lavish in dispensing the message. He just threw it out, not caring where it will land. This is how we believers should spread the gospel, freely and lavishly. Then the Lord shows us the five types of listeners of the kingdom message by comparing the listeners to different types of ground. The path represents the believers who listen to the message but do not understand what it means. Because the seeds do not take root, the evil one snatches away the word that was sown. Next, we see that some seeds fell on rocky places. This represents the listeners who are momentarily touched by the Gospel. Again, the message has not taken root in the mind of the listener. As a result, when trouble comes he forgets what he has heard and forgets the message in due time. Then there are the seeds that fell among the thorns. This is the most unfortunate kind of listeners we can see. For them, the message has taken root but the "worries of this life" have kept them from being fruitful. Unfortunately, this represents majority of the listeners in the world today. Since the lack the joy of the world, they lack strength and since they lack strenght they lack fruit. Finally, we find that some seed fell on "good soil". This is the kind of listeners that we all want to be. This is the man who has recieved revelation and understanding of the message. He understands the Gospel and he his confident of his salvation. This man/woman "yields a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown." The seed that was sown in his life produces fruit which produces more seed. It follows that this listener can't help but sow the same seed that was sown in his life in other people's lives. This is how the message of the Kingdom spreads and grows

O Love, How deep

The following is a poem that was originally written by an anonymous writer in the fifteenth century. The poem was then translated by Benjamin Webb into English in the 19th century. May God Bless you with these lines:

O Love, how deep, how broad, how high,
it fills the heart with ecstasy,
that God, the Son of God, should take
our mortal form for mortals' sake!

He sent no angel to our race
of higher or of lower place,
but wore the robe of human frame
Himself, and to this lost world came.

For us baptized, for us he bore
his holy fast and hungered sore,
for us temptation sharp he knew;
for us the tempter overthrew.

For us he prayed; for us he taught;
for us his daily works he wrought;
by words and signs and actions thus
still seeking not himself, but us.

For us to wicked men betrayed,
scourged, mocked, in purple robe arrayed,
he bore the shameful cross and death,
for us at length gave up his breath.

For us he rose from death again;
for us he went on high to reign;
for us he sent his Spirit here
to guide, to strengthen and to cheer.

To him whose boundless love has won
salvation for us through his Son,
to God the Father, glory be
both now and through eternity.


The Beatitudes

After Jesus was tested, He was ready to begin His ministry. His ministry began with the most famous sermon of all time - The Sermon on the Mount. The sermon on the mount is to an extent like the inauguration speech of a president. I don't want this comparison to somehow relegate the Son of God to the position of a President. However, this was His inaugural speech, at least the first noted in the Gospels. From the beginning of time, God has spoken in many ways. Through prophets, through kings, through saints and sometimes even audibly for all to hear. But, never before had He spoken the way He was speaking now.When the people heard the sound of Jesus, they were hearing the very sound of their God- Yahweh. When they looked at His face, they were looking at the face of Jehovah. No wonder large crowds gathered to witness this spectacle. Finally, when it was time for the Christ to speak, He said, "Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven". He followed that with eight other distinct blessings whose understanding is crucial to the understanding of Christianity as a whole. The nine characteristics that Jesus points out which are worthy of blessing is very unlike what any man would expect. These characteristics are poor in spirit, mourning, meek, hungry for righteousness, merciful, pure in heart, peacemakers and persecuted.

Each one of these traits is important enough to be studied in great detail. First of all let us consider how one becomes poor in the Spirit. A person becomes poor in spirit when He empties his spirit of all that gave him confidence, understanding and strength. When he does this, he makes space for Christ to come into his spirit and be one with Him. Once Jesus is your Lord, there is no more space for the empty and foolish philosophy of the World. There is no more of Socrates, Confucius, Aristotle not even Moses. There is only Jesus. This then is how the Kingdom comes. The Kingdom of God is a Person - Jesus, where He is, the Kingdom is. If Jesus is in your spirit today, or to say it otherwise if the Holy Spirit is your spirit then the reign of Jesus has come in your life. Your life can only have one King and that King should be Jesus. This is important because the rest of the Blessings all follow only if you are a person of the Kingdom.

Once Jesus is King in your life, it starts a spontaneous chain reaction of sorts. Our new King will Himself bring about the necessary meekness, mourning (burden for the world), mercy, purity, hunger for righteousness, and peace. Note that persecution comes from the world. Like, the prophets of old and like Jesus Himself we also will be persecuted when we follow the Lord. Sometimes by people inside the "Church" and sometimes by those outside. Even when persecution comes Jesus our King will be our peace. I want you to know that we are so profoundly blessed in our Spirit because of Jesus that no Devil can steal our inheritance and Blessing away. It all begins when the Kingdom of God comes in our heart. This is the mystery of the ages, that God who created the Universe will come to live inside of you when you open up your mind which is the gateway to the Spirit. How Blessed are we because of Jesus. Is there another people like God's people?

The rest of the sermon on the mount is filled with "gems" that we need to grasp and incorporate into our lives. But, it again explains how the people of the Kingdom must be in this world. In addition to this, Jesus explains the People of the Kingdom as the salt (preservative) of the earth. Jesus goes on to talk about all kinds of social issues ranging from anger to Divorce. It is impossible to discuss all of that here without taking the risk of this post being ridiculously long, so I am not going to attempt that. Have a great time listening and learning from God

"Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light."

The 11th chapter of Matthew ends with this wonderful verse. To go ahead with any study of Matthew 12 without considering these verses will be to take Scripture out of context. Note that, Matthew 12 begins with the words "at that time" which suggests that the events in Matthew 11 and Matthew 12 all took place one after the other. So looking at all things in context, we proceed into our study of Matthew 12. The major event of chapter 12 is Jesus proclaiming Himself as the Lord of the Sabbath. He does not just boast but gives sufficient explanation to why He is the Lord of the Sabbath. The circumstances of this proclamation needs to be studied closely. Now, "the disciples were hungry" as they walked through a grain field. Being the Sabbath, it is implied that all businesses were closed and things had come to a standstill. The only food that the disciples could have were the few heads of corn that they plucked from the field. It was not a great meal but they were content with this. Straightaway, a doubt might rise in the reader's mind whether this was lawful or not to do. If we go back to the old testament we can find that plucking corn from a neighbor's field was perfectly lawful. You can see this from Deuternomy 23:25. Similarly, there were no laws that banned anyone from eating on the Sabbath too. However feasting and great celebrations were all prohibited. If there were any laws against eating they were later instituted by the Pharisees. Jesus felt great compassion for his people who were burdened by these laws. This is why he welcomes those who are "heavily burdened".

The Pharisees who were in the same field, (seems like they also couldn't help but follow Jesus) condemned the disciples for eating on the Sabbath. Knowing what we know from Deuteronomy, we can without a shadow of doubt tell that the Pharisees were making this law up. They were toying with scripture trying to make it fit their needs. Jesus knowing that there was nothing true about their statement used this opportunity to prove that he was the Lord of the Sabbath. Jesus points to how David ate the bread that was consecrated for exclusively for the priests. You can read all about this in 1 Samuel 21:3-5. Jesus' argument was this: If David did it, why can't I the Son of David, the messiah, the Son of God do it. To this, the pharisees had nothing to say, they might have looked at each other in shame. But Jesus was just getting started. Again to prove his point Jesus said, "haven't you read in the Law that on the Sabbath the priests in the temple desecrate the day and yet are innocent?" Here the Lord was referring to the fact that even on the Sabbath it was lawful for the priests in the temple to carry out their daily activities. So the second argument is this: If the priests in the temple could do it, why can't I, one who is greater than the temple not do it. Jesus used King David and the Temple to show how he was greater than both.

For New Testament Christians the Sabbath is important but not nearly as important as the Lord of the Sabbath. We know that Jesus rose from the dead on the first day of the week. (read Mark 16:9) In doing so, he moved the Sabbath from the seventh day to the first day. In his Resurrection, Jesus was still the Lord of the Sabbath. Hallelujah

Labor in Paradise

What does the word 'Paradise' bring to your mind. For most Americans it means lots of sun, sand and waves. People somehow equate lying on a beach doing absolutely nothing to Paradise. The ultimate aim for many people is to someday retire and then "enjoy" life. They think doing nothing will bring them happiness and enjoyment. However, labor existed even in the perfect Garden of Eden.

The LORD God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it. - Gen 2:15

God expected Adam and Eve to work in the garden and take care of it. It was labor in paradise. Adam and Eve took care of the garden and might have derived great satisfaction by doing so. It is important to note that they were not working for food or any other kind of compensation. They worked because God said so. Food and accommodation was free.

And the LORD God commanded the man, "You are free to eat from any tree in the garden
Gen 2:16 (the quote does not end here)

God put labor in paradise to make man healthy and productive. He expects us to work and use our talents to bring glory to His name. You can do any menial job and still bring glory to God if you do it right. The world often teaches us to distinguish people based on their jobs. But for God what you are matters more than what you do. God is in the business of developing your character not your career. You can be a farmer, engineer, doctor or anything and still please God. Strive to do your best in your workplace and do everything as you are doing it for the Lord. When laziness creeps in, remember to work hard for Jesus.

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